Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cruise Running

No, I’m not referring to the nutball above rapidly making his way to the next Scientology meeting.  Rather, Mrs. Evolving’s company is hosting a Bahamas cruise this weekend, and she has been kind enough as to bring me along to serve as her personal cabana boy.  Neither of us has ever been on a cruise before, so it should make for quite the adventure.

When faced with the prospect of a first-time cruise to sun-drenched islands aboard a giant floating buffet table with countless possible activities, what would a normal person do?  Clearly not falling into the normal category, and afflicted with a bad case of the need-to-runs (decidedly preferable to a bad case of the runs) I quickly made my way to the website, skipped past the assorted decadence, and went directly to the description of the workout room in search of treadmills.  In reading about the workout room, I stumbled upon a reference to the running track located on one of the many levels of the ship.  An outdoor track on the deck of the ship.  Perhaps this is common knowledge to the cruising veterans of the world, but that has must-try written all over it.

We’ve all seen the ‘you know you’re a runner when’ lists, and we’ve probably contributed to a few, but this was one of those moments when the chocolate of the list hit the peanut butter of reality.  4 kid-free, worry-free days at sea, and I’m most excited that I’ll be able to stick to my training plan with a 4-miler on Saturday and a 14-miler on Sunday while Captain Stubing guides us across the waves and Isaac whips up a cool recovery shake.
"Your wife just left the ship and headed for the beach ..... but you keep right on running my man"

I’ve already shared my nerdtastic fascination with Garmin route maps from random outings, and if the satellites cooperate this one should be very interesting.

With October just days away the Fall races are finally getting underway.  Just 6 more weeks until mine, and I’m already getting excited.  As for this weekend …. To those about to race, I salute you.

Monday, September 27, 2010


21 the hard way.  21 miles that is.   21.11 to be precise, and surprisingly it wasn’t nearly as hard as expected.

After my week of traveling and eating like a goat, I didn’t have high hopes for yesterday’s long run.  It actually turned out to be a solid outing with little in the way of drama.  Hydration worked out well, gels/food were timed right, weather was cooperative, no blisters or chafing.

Both of my feet starting getting sore around the 10-mile mark, and were moderately painful for the rest of the run, but that appears to be the Plantar Fasciitis reality I’ll be living in until after the marathon.  My right knee felt pretty good throughout, and is somewhat sore today, but nothing unbearable.

This gave me my first chance to try my new Ryders sunglasses on a long run, and I was VERY pleased.  I’ll be putting together a review in the near future.  Tried an Orange flavored Hammer Gel for the first….and last time.  Not a fan.  When I went to get the gels on Saturday I was browsing the chews selection, and having never tried Clif Shot Blocks before I thought I’d give them a try.  Bought a pack of the Cola flavored and dug in at the 16-mile mark.  I think they can be best described as a small, squishy square of sadness.  I think my mouth cried a little when I tried to eat them.  Made it through 3 of the squares before my jaw refused to chew any more.  I wish to apologize to my Gu Chomps that have served me so well in the past.  Please take me back.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Trounced by Travel

Returned to Raleigh around midnight last night from a brutal weeklong business trip to San Jose.  Completely lost touch with both the real world and the blog world, and find myself in a haze of sleep-deprivation, jet-lag, and highly suspect nutrition.  Definitely not the highlight week of my marathon training thus far:

Sleep:  Averaged maybe 4 hours a night.  Poorly done

Nutrition:  The nutritional highlight of one day was lunch at Taco Bell.  When meximelts become your high-water mark, you’ve gone way off the tracks

Number of trips to the gym:  I’m thinking of a number between zero and zero

Number of Hard CORE Club workouts:  Any number, times zero, equals ….

Running:  Managed to complete 3 of the 4 runs on my training plan, although one of the three runs was not on the correct day.  Not a complete bust, but not great.

Approximation of how I felt by the time the plane touched down last night:

Nobody’s fault but mine.

At least I only have to do 21 miles tomorrow morning.  My longest training run.  Ever.

Get him a body bag.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

Thanks to all that entered the $45 CSN Stores giveaway.  Ended up with 119 entries, which got plugged into the magic machine at and out popped the winning entry:

Congratulations to the winner:

Didn’t see an email address on your site, so please email me your email address at

Thanks for playing!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

We (Mostly) Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Smart-Assery

Bad stuff happens. It follows no rules, and plays no favorites. It often gives no warning, and when it does it often goes unheeded. We’ll all be dealt our share of bad. We may not be able to prevent it, but often we can be better prepared. Sometimes very small things can stop the bad stuff from being really bad stuff. Things like RoadID.

The kind folks at Outside PR, astutely recognizing that I am an imminent danger to myself, were kind enough to allow me to choose one of the RoadID products to get my feedback. As one who is drawn to irony like a moth to a flame, I chose the Wrist ID Elite. Fortunately one is not required to submit to any physical or mental challenge to qualify as ‘Elite’.

The concept behind RoadID and their products is quite basic, and exceedingly important. Sometimes the bad stuff is bad enough that you can’t speak for yourself to try and get or direct help. RoadID products provide critical information clearly and quickly in the event of an emergency. Information that can literally be the difference between life and death. I’ve had some close calls with cars over the years while training, and generally speaking the man-vs-car battle is a pretty easy wager. There are countless situations beyond a motor vehicle run-in where you could be rendered uncommunicative. RoadID is designed to increase the odds in any of these situations. As someone who has never carried ID while training, I’m really fairly embarrassed to not have ordered one of these long ago. I came to the realization long ago that I am not bulletproof. I’m finally starting to behave that way as well. Doesn’t mean I can’t still run around in tights and a cape. More of a lifestyle choice than a functional decision.

My Wrist ID Elite arrived in a spiffy shiny box, ready for action.

After trimming the strap down to size it was ready for a run.  I opted for the blue version, but there are 8 different color bands to choose from.  I also went with the Original version rather than the Interactive version.

BandAid = Man vs. 500-degree rotisserie.  Sadly they do not yet make a GrillID

Before wearing it out of the house, I had to subject it to the ultimate test. My 8 year-old-daughter. The final word on all things cool and/or fashionable. The verdict…

Money in the bank.

I’ve worn it on every run since I got it, and have had no issues with chafing, rubbing, etc. I hardly even notice it’s there. It’s made of rubber and metal, so there’s nothing to soak up sweat. This is one of those things that you really hope you never actually need. Like airbags, or a backup parachute. Fortunately I’ve not ‘needed’ it yet, so maybe it brings the wearer good luck as well. I can’t recommend this product, or any of the RoadID products highly enough. It just makes so much sense, and is one of the few things you can control when the situation is completely out of your control. As the daylight hours continue to get shorter, and more of my training is done in the dark, I feel better every day that I have this on my wrist when I head out.

Be safe, and be prepared.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Gotta Get 'Girlie'

Dawn, from Racing Dawn, hit me with a ‘girlie blog award’ (her words, not mine), which calls for a list of my ten favorite things.

Embracing my inner girlieness, I figured I’d give it a shot. Here’s the top ten, in no particular order:

Sunrises while running or fishing – Running and fishing are two activities that I very much enjoy, but my experience shows that it’s challenging and often painful to try and combine the two. Once I’ve chosen between the two, there’s something about starting a run or wetting a line while it’s still dark out, and watching the day begin while doing something I enjoy can carry me through the whole day. Makes me feel like I’ve squeezed a little extra out of the day.

Completing a home-improvement project – I’ve always enjoyed and been fairly adept at woodworking and general home-improvement. As my life has progressed and time to work on these projects has become harder to come by, I’ve found I draw more enjoyment from completing a project than actually doing the work. I don’t necessarily view this shift as a bad thing, but more of a healthy understanding of the reality of my life right now.

Chocolate-covered pretzels – Crazy good. Evil good. Not a huge fan of sweets, but a big fan of salty things, and when these two come together it leaves me powerless. My willpower kryptonite. Rivaled only by Bryer’s mint chocolate chip ice cream.

The color green – I assume this is tied to my general love of the outdoors, landscaping, etc. There was a point in time where almost every item of clothing I owned was some shade of green. Made for some rather unfortunate combinations I’m sure. Thankfully my wife is around to make it appear I have some sense of fashion.

Random acts of kindness – Amazing the power that the smallest act can have if it’s completely unexpected.

Good, sincere customer service – Sadly, a nearly lost art. However, it’s become rare enough that when you get truly good service it stands out like a lighthouse in a storm. There are several companies that I continue to use almost entirely due to positive experiences dealing with their employees. I wish more companies recognized the return they get on simple, positive actions from the folks that work for them.

A cold Guinness on a hot day – I generally don’t drink much these days, especially if I’m in a marathon training cycle, but I’m a sucker for an icy Stout at the end of a hot day. The perfect punctuation for a busy, and hopefully productive day. There are stouts I like better than Guiness, but Guiness is my best bang-for-the-buck option, and is the beer that really turned me on to stouts many years ago.

Cool rain on a hot summer day – Always a winner for me, unless said rain decides to violate the inner working of my iPod leaving the screen a dark, unbacklit field of sadness.

Unsolicited hugs from my family, especially my little girl – Fortunately my daughter is a big-time hugger. She is singlehandedly trying to ensure that the East Coast continues to meet its daily quota of hugs. I used to refer to her as the koala, like those clip on koalas that were everywhere when I was a kid. Whatever happened to those things?

My Garmin (most of the time) – Still, pound-for-pound, the best gift I have ever been given by my wife. For a numbers junkie like me, this is like a wrist-mounted crack pipe. I can’t get enough of checking this thing while I run, after I run, before I run, etc., etc. If loving Lil’ G is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.

Don’t forget to enter my $45 CSN Stores Giveaway.

Now, back to my regularly scheduled manliness.

I’m on a horse.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

$45 CSN Stores Giveaway!!

Looks like it’s time for me to host my first giveaway. All the cool kids are doing it. As someone who does nearly all my shopping online, this seemed like the perfect place to start – CSN Stores.

Many of you are probably already aware of CSN Stores from other blog reviews and/or giveaways. I’ve certainly entered my share of CSN giveaways, and have discovered that my virtual luck is about as good as my real-world luck. Since I can’t enter my own giveaway, I also can’t not be selected. That’s right – I’m busting out the double negatives to make myself feel better.

CSN Stores offer just about anything and everything you could possibly want at amazing prices. Yes, they have products for runners and triathletes, but that’s just scratching the surface of what they offer. Maybe you need some Corelle dinnerware to create some tasty running ‘fuel’? CSN Stores has you covered. Maybe you need a ‘4-Cycle Medium Weight Stomper with Diaphragm Carburetor and Optional Accessories’ to build your own running track around your house and make your neighbors love you forever. CSN stores has it. If you know what you want they probably have it, and if you don’t you can spend countless hours browsing their wares. Good stuff at good prices – hard to beat.

How does a $45 gift certificate sound to help you get your shop on? That’s what’s up for grabs for one lucky winner. Here are the 5 different ways you can enter (leave a separate comment for each to serve as a virtual ‘entry’):

1.  Become a follower of my blog or let me know you’re already a follower. (1 Entry)

2.  Browse the CSN Stores site and let me know what you’d like to get with your winnings. (1 Entry)

3.  Post about this giveaway on your blog and leave me a link to it. (1 Entry)

4.  Tweet about this giveaway. (1 Entry)

5.  ‘Like’ CSN Stores on Facebook (1 Entry)

I'll leave the giveaway open for entries for a week, ending at midnight on September 15th. I’ll post the winner, chosen at random using, on the 16th. The winner's email will be sent to my CSN contact and she’ll contact you directly with the coupon code. This giveaway is open to US and Canada readers. Good luck!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Maybe Belushi Was Right

Had a great track workout Sunday morning. WAY better than I was expecting. What was the key? Loading up on whole wheat pasta - nope. Sports drinks for proper hydration – negative. Gels for fuel – nope. A good night’s sleep – uh uh. How about 12+ hours of drinking/eating/trash-talking at my first Fantasy Football draft the day/night before … Bingo!

Maybe John Belushi had it all figured out…

My fueling routine on Saturday consisted of Guinness, Red Hook, Boddingtons, Newcastle, Vodka, Margaritas, Long Island Ice Teas, takeout pizza, multiple varieties of bean dips, Jalapeno&Cheddar burgers, French fries, chicken wings, Snickers ice cream cake, and entirely too little sleep.  Or, as the crew I was hanging out with like to call it .... Saturday.

Went to the track at my old high school Sunday AM feeling a bit cloudy and a lot dehydrated with the plan of doing some half-mile repeats. The outlook was not stellar considering how I felt when I stepped on the track. Eased into a mile warmup, then did a series of 5 miles, alternating fast-paced ½ miles with marathon-ish paced ½ miles. By the time I was halfway into my warmup mile I really felt good. Little of the usual running pains (thank-you flat and spongy track), head clearing up, and legs feeling energetic. Here’s what I ended up running:
Overall I’m really pleased with the workout, and not a little bit surprised with the results considering my sweat was around 40-proof.

Looks like I’ll be mixing my Accelerade with Gin from this point forward. Does Camelback make a keg holder?

Friday, September 3, 2010

Farewell Blast Furnace, aka August

Spent some time taking stock of the last month of training, to see how it went and what nuggets ‘o wisdom can be extracted from the results:

* Did very well sticking to the plan, even with a 1.5 week vacation thrown into the mix. 151 miles planned, 161.87 miles run. Running while on vacation was definitely challenging, but I feel much better for having done it and stuck to my training schedule. Running by the Charles River in Boston was mucho cool.

* Did a lousy job getting a proper amount of sleep to support the training demands. Almost all my workouts (running, lifting, swimming) are done in the early AM to make sure they get done and don’t interfere with work, kids, etc. This usually means getting up around 5AM every day, including weekends when doing long runs. I HAVE to start going to bed earlier to make this work. More than once during the month I was in full zombie mode from sleep deprivation. As someone that doesn’t drink coffee, this can get ugly for those unfortunate enough to have to interact with me. Must get better about this. Fortunately I haven’t developed a taste for brains. Yet.

* REALLY enjoyed keeping up with the fellow ‘Distance Dreamers’ and their various challenges and accomplishments. Abbi is a rock star for the collective summaries she puts together, which include links to the blogs. Having tried to maintain links to the songs in the Throwback Training Tunes posts I’ve been doing, I know what a MONSTER time commitment it must be to keep up with the blogs, and keep the links straight. Nice to be a part of this virtual group as we all march towards our associated finish-lines.

* Started doing the Hard CORE Club workouts since I’ve done a poor job of ensuring I work my core as part of my weight training. Making these CORE workouts their own separate effort has thus far been a success in terms of making me get them done. Thanks to Jamoosh for putting the club together, and putting the workout together including demo photos. Should only be a matter of weeks before I finish a long run, grab a box of detergent, wade into the river and scrub my clothes clean on my washboard abs. It’s all about workout efficiency.

* Still digging on tempo runs, and speed work in general. Haven’t tried the local tracks again to see if they are less heavily fortified now that the kids are back in school. I’d really like to get some track work done. Maybe some Yassos. I know my natural pace on my long runs has sped up as a result of the speed work. In related news, Usain Bolt has shut down his running for the year, not long after I called him out in my blog. Coincidence? I think not.

* Perhaps I don’t enjoy running in the heat as much as earlier advertised. My prior love affair with hot-weather running was mostly built around 4-5 mile runs. Whole different ballgame when you’re doing double-digit runs in triple-digit heat indices with quadruple-digit humidity. Yes … you read that right. NC weather is hardcore like that. Hydration is a puzzle that I’m still trying to solve. Thankfully the weather has been considerably cooler in the mornings lately, so hopefully the worst of it is behind us.

* Finally, I’m wondering how long one could survive on a diet consisting entirely of chocolate covered pretzels. In the interest of science I may be willing to take on this challenge. Were it not for the fact that pretty much every aspect of them are somehow processed, I’d call them nature’s perfect food. Sometimes even nature misses the boat. Rather than a chocolate covered pretzel bush, we get poison ivy. Weak.