Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Covenant Health Knoxville Expo Report

Hail my running brothers and sisters!  As I said in my previous post, I was in Knoxville for the Covenant Health Knoxville Half-Marathon.  I went up on Saturday to pick up my packet and spend the day at the expo checking out vendors and sponsors and schmoozing with the speakers as I was travelling by myself.IMG00027-20100327-1210Right off the bat, I have to say that I was really impressed with the number of vendors that showed up for what I consider a relatively “small” race (I don’t know…is 5500+ registered runners small?  It’s no Rock & Roll Marathon). 
One of the vendors, River Sports Outlets had your usual supply of running socks and apparel.  Their cool, signature product was the Vibram Five Fingers shoes.  They had several pair of various sizes for people to try.  So of course, I had to try one on.  Frankly, I was not impressed.  The shoe, for obvious reasons, has to be tight, but it just didn’t seem comfortable to me.  Also my toes are NOT that stubby.  They just like they are in those shoes.
The expo had several speakers, including Mark Remy and Anthony Famiglietti.  I had hoped to hear Mark Remy speak, but I didn’t leave Nashville early enough.  He was kind enough to autograph my copy of The Runner’s Rule Book and he even let me have my picture taken with him.  Unfortunately, a very kind gentleman was taking the picture with my phone and I gave him bad directions on how to use it, so the picture was less than stellar.  To save myself further embarrassment, I have opted not to post the picture here.  Sorry, but even I know better sometimes.
I did get to hear Anthony Famiglietti.  He talked about how races give runners a chance to lay it all on the line to go for your goal.  It was like he was talking to me.  I found myself nodding along with him as he talked about being part of a sporting community that supported each other in our goals to be better, stronger, faster.  That our community was stronger by the fact that we didn’t judge each other where we finished in a race but encouraged each other to race in the first place.
And I guess that’s when it hit me.  Sure I enjoyed buying stuff (like socks, shirts, shoes, bottles, etc.) and checking out new products, but the thing that I love about races and expos is that I get to spend some time with my people.  Whether they are slower or faster than me, we all share that desire to get up to the starting line and lay it all out to the finish.  I love the St. Crispin’s Day speech from Henry V, and that’s why I love getting my friends to races with me.  So that at the finish line, whenever we finish, “we happy few, we band of brothers” will know that crossed that line together.  Later kids!
***Final Note:  Needless to say, none of what I have accomplished or learned about myself could have been possible without the love and support of my wife and family.  Whenever I faltered or questioned my resolve, they have been there to cheer me on and push me out the door to keep my feet on the ground and my chin in the air.  Thanks guys.***

Monday, March 29, 2010

Covenant Health Knoxville Half-Marathon Race Report

Hail my running brothers and sisters!  This past weekend, I went to Knoxville, home of my Alma Mater, the very-proud-stick-it-in-your-ear-I-don’t-care-that-it’s-a-rebuilding-year, University of Tennessee to run the half-marathon.  Basically, when I learned that the finish was on the 50 yard line of Neyland Stadium, I knew that I would be running this race.  I had considered doing the full marathon, but knowing that I would do the Country Music Marathon in April, it made more sense to do the half as part of my training.
The race was Sunday morning, and I had stayed at the Hilton Hotel downtown, which was about 3 minutes from the start line.  This was nice for me, so I could take care of my “morning rituals” at my hotel instead of standing in line at the porta-potties.  The weather was calling for temperatures in the 50’s to 60’s but rainy.  Thinking that I was likely to get caught in a thunderstorm (they were calling for those too), I decided to layer-up with my windbreaker vest and some arm sleeves that I could take off if it got too hot.  As it turned out, the weather stayed fairly mild but cloudy for me, though I did have to rip off my arm sleeves at mile 2.

I got to the starting line with 10 minutes before the gun went off and made my way to the first corral.  My strategy earlier in the week was to run 8:00 miles, so that I wouldn’t burn out my legs for my training runs later in the week.  When I got to the starting line, I knew that plan was out the window.  I was there to RACE!!!  Quickly re-calculating my pace, I thought that if I could run 7:50’s, then I would PR and put my year goal to bed.  In my defense, it wasn’t totally my own stupidity or over-abundance of testosterone to blame.  In fact, my decision may have been heavily influenced by a talk by Anthony Famiglietti at the expo the day before (I’ll actually talk about that tomorrow.  The expo was great, and I have some good stuff). 

Miles 1 (7:32) and 2 (7:39)started from just under the Sunsphere into the Fort and then cut left towards campus and along the river.  To say Knoxville is hilly would be an understatement, and I got a taste of the rolling hills early on. 

Miles 3 (7:35) and 4 (7:58) was mostly flat with a long uphill climb along Kingston Pike.  Still I was able to keep my strides short and quick, so I wasn’t worried about my time.  At the end of mile 4, I did take a little walking break to email my wife and kids where I was (I had drafted 3 emails and saved them on my Blackberry, so that I could send them updates quickly and then get back to the race).

Miles 5 (7:21) and 6 (7:30) were mostly downhill with some rolling hills through Cherokee Boulevard.  Cherokee is where all the big houses in Knoxville are, and several people sat in their yards and cheered runners on.  I tried to wave and say hi the best I could, but It was a little rough going on some of the uphills.

Miles 7 (7:34) and 8 (7:59) were brutal uphills, particularly at mile 7.5.  I trudged up them as best as I could, trying to focus on moving my feet as fast as I could.  Needless to say I got winded fast, but I didn’t quit till I got to the end of 8 and emailed the fam again.

Miles 9 (7:38), 10 (7:32), and 11 (7:44) had us going back towards campus on a mostly flat greenway.  Despite my times, I could tell that I was starting to lose steam.  Unfortunately for me, I was also doing the math in my head, and I figured that even if I could manage sub 9:00’s that I could finish my PR. 

Miles 12 (8:33) and 13 (8:17) the wheels came off at least mentally.  I had stopped at 12 to update my family, but I couldn’t get my pace back.  Granted it felt like I was running with 5 lb bricks around my ankles, but I pulled it together enough to maintain my pride.  The cathartic scream as I left the Fort and hit campus helped fortify me a bit as I dug in through the last bit of mileage.

Mile .1 (7:45/mi) was where I saw the runner’s entrance into the stadium.  Calling everything that I had left, I sprinted into the stadium and as soon as I hit the field I was doused with sunlight and the spectacle of the Jumbotron showing the runners crossing the finish.  I heard my name called out by the announcer as I got closer to the finish line and made my final kick.  As I crossed the finish line, I threw my arms in the air and fist-pumped as I watched myself cross the finish on the Jumbotron.  That. Was. Awesome!
By that time, I was shredding body heat, so I grabbed a blanket and headed up to the stands to drink some water and take some quick pics.
   IMG00042-20100328-0821    IMG00044-20100328-0833
Then I headed over to Thompson Bowling Arena, where they had the post-race party.  On the Jumbotron in the arena, they were showing the finishers cross the finish line and I was able to see the winner of the marathon cross.  They had lots of food, the requisite band, and lots of post-race medical support to help administer first aid and help with stretching.  IMG00050-20100328-0845 Despite the difficulty of the course, this had to have been one of my favorite races.  Maybe it was just my inner Volunteer enjoying a race on home turf, but man, I had a blast!  Thanks Knoxville!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

End of the Week Recap 3/28/10

Hail my running brothers and sisters!  I realize that I owe you a race recap, but I’m afraid that it will have to wait till tomorrow.  My stats for the week were:  33.57 miles total at an average pace of 8:05/mile, 17 minutes of conditioning, and a weight of 155.8.  The major run this week would be my half-marathon, of course.  I’ll give all the juicy details tomorrow, but here are some of the hard numbers.  Official finishing time:  1:42:00.7, 7:47/mile.  In my age group, I finished 11 out of 133;  In men overall, I finished 86 out of 830; and overall, I finished 110 out of 1838 finishers.  A not-so careful review of my PR’s will show that, yes, I did get another PR, and I also met my 2010 goal time for the half-marathon!  To say that I’m happy with these results would be an understatement, and I think that this race sets me up well going into my full marathon in one month.  Now all I  need to do is ice my legs to do some intervals this week!  No rest for those in training…or weary.  Later kids!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Knoxville Half-Marathon Countdown

Hail my running brothers and sisters!  I have 3 more days until the  Covenant Health Knoxville Half-Marathon.  The Good:  Temperatures in the mid 60's.  Ends on the 50 yard line of Neyland Stadium (home of my beloved Tennessee Vols).  Course goes through much of my old haunts from college.  The Bad:  70% chance of rain.  Way too many hills to get to the stadium.  Much of the course was still under road construction last I saw.

I'm looking forward to returning to Knoxville to run their half.  I love running races in places where I've lived.  Not only does it make me feel connected to the city/race, but I often see parts of the city that I hadn't seen before.  Still this will be one of my harder races of the year, because of the difficulty of the course.  Considering that I'm running a full marathon a month later, I'm going into this race as a training run.  Anything under 8:30/mile would be like playing with house money.  It would be nice to bust out a 7:50/mile, but I don't want to hurt myself or backslide on my speed training.  Of course, I say that I'll treat it as a training run, but I'm just as likely to break my fool neck going all out.  There's something about knowing that my time will be posted for everyone to see that always pushes me to try a little harder than I should.  I'm not sure what race support/spectator attendance will be like, but I imagine with the rain prediction, most students/spectators will be staying in bed (Of course, if UT makes it to the Elite 8, the city just may stay drunk all weekend).  It would be nice if Derek Dooley was on the 50 with a couple of cheerleaders though.  ;p

I'm hoping the expo will be strong.  I'm planning on heading over to Knoxville early in the morning and spending all day (or as long as I can stand it) at the expo.  I'm really looking forward to hearing Mark Remy speak.  He's a writer for Runner's World and author of the The Runner's Rule Book, and he's really funny.  Of course, I'll be buying my obligatory expo shirt/jacket/swag.  I'm hoping to find a cool running jacket or vest with the marathon logo on it.  Half my wardrobe is now running apparel, and a quarter of it, I got from races and expos.  That isn't too much, is it?

No hard numbers today.  C'mon...what do you expect?!?  It's a taper week for goodness sake.  I did manage to squeeze in 7 minutes of conditioning.  Geek Violence:  Ninja Assassin came out on DVD last week.  If you love ninja movies (and let's face it, who doesn't), you must own this movie.  The gore is over the top, but the action is INTENSE!!!  This one might even be worth owning on Blu-ray.  Okay, I'm off to bed and dreams of training run-PR's.   Later kids!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Interval Solution

Hail my running brothers and sisters!  Last Saturday, I had one of those days where the wheels fell off and I could barely get my act together to finish 6 miles.  We all get a bad day once and awhile.  That day that we can’t focus and we can barely move.  Today was not that day.  Today I had an awesome day!  I went to the track at David Lipscomb University to knock out my 885m intervals.  It was an beautiful sunny, 62 degrees, but it was a bit windy.  Still, I was feeling strong.  I did a mile warmup, and then worked into my intervals.  I did 8 x 885m intervals with 442.5m recovery runs in between the intervals.  I was jamming to my country tunes, getting my inner redneck on.  Easier than you would believe for a a little brown man from the Philippines.  All those years tooling around in my red, Chevy Tahoe in Tullahoma must have paid off.  Anyway, my intervals went well.  I felt strong working through them, but at the end, I was dead tired.  After some gatorade and quick change of clothes at the office, I felt energized again.  There is something about speed work that totally recharges the body and mind.  I felt great pushing my body through the repeats and focusing on holding my pace kept all those negative thoughts from the other day out of my head.  Like I said, I felt, and still feel, great.  I’m pumped for my half-marathon on Sunday, but I’m trying to keep it in perspective.  I’m approaching it as a training run for my full marathon in April, so if I can hold a 8:30 pace, I will be very happy.  The ultimate goal is to finish strong, but not overly sore or injured, so I can maintain my training.  Now that I’ve gotten my big workout for the  week out of the way, I only have one more base mileage run left.  I’ll probably rest tomorrow or do some light cross-training.

Okay now for the hard numbers:  8x885m intervals at respective times of 3:36.19, 3:40.22, 3:36.98, 3:35.88, 3:24.15, 3:32.21, 3:29.61 and 3:28.20.  An average pace of 3:32/885m.  Not as good as last week, but I’m glad that I’ve remained pretty consistent.  Later kids!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

End of the Week Recap 3/21/10

Hail my running brothers and sisters!  This week I ran 26.73 miles at an average pace of 8:14/mile.  I managed to get in 30 minutes of cross-training/conditioning and topped the scales at 159 lbs even this morning.  Not exactly race weight but I can’t complain considering my less-than-spectacular mental crash on my long run yesterday.  The only two things significant about this week:  I did my first track workout and I couldn’t complete my long run.  The track workout went well and showed some promise for my marathon.  The long run was a complete disaster.  Fortunately for me, I still managed 26 miles this week.  So I’m chalking this week up to taper/rest/recovery, putting it behind me, and moving on to next week.

Next week is my official taper week for my 1/2 marathon in Knoxville.  I still need to get in my track workout, but otherwise I’ll just get in some easy base mileage before my race on Sunday.  I’ll be going up on Saturday, and I hope to catch a couple speakers at the expo.  If anyone in Knoxville wants to get together for some carbo-loading dinner, let me know and we’ll try to hook up.  All right that’s all I have, and if we don’t talk later, wish me luck!  Later kids!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Attitude Adjustment

Hail my running brothers and sisters!  Today was a beautiful morning to go for a nice long run…unless you’re me.  I had one of THOSE days.  The kind of day we runners share amongst ourselves, but never with the newbies, so we don’t scare them off or discourage them.  It was that day when my legs feel like lead except for those times when every step feels like a pinch to my calves.  It was that day that my allergies rolled over me like a flood so that every breath was a wet, raspy gasp for mother-loving oxygen.  It was that day I knew that my sure pick for the winner of the tournament on my bracket would come crashing down all the while flashing their number 1 seed as it fell to the bottom (Thanks a f-ing lot, Kansas).  It was that day that when every bit of work and personal guilt pushed its way to the front of my brain and shoved down any sense of discipline and determination.  It was that day when every negative thought needled at my will till my only option was to turn around and call it a day.  Yes, it was that day. 

Now I’ve had bad runs before where all I wanted to do was quit, but I pushed on, hated myself, and finished.  Days like today are rare for me.  The aches, the pains, the soreness, and the allergies are all things that I have to suffer through on occasion for years of bad living, weak genes, and bad karma.  The mental stuff is harder for me to handle.  Thanks to the psych classes I had in college and the endless years of psycho-babble TV shows that I’ve watched, I usually have a pretty good handle on my mental state.  Still, I’m subject to bouts of melancholy that can stop me dead in my tracks and turn me into a useless lump.  My usual treatment is to turn up the angry music, watch some overly violent movies, and carpet bomb my melancholy with waves of anger and self-righteous Hollywood violence.  Sometimes if my blahs are particularly strong, I’ll buffer the anger therapy with some dark, gritty comic violence.  Under this prescription, I’ll roll out of my funk in a matter of days.  Unfortunately for me, I don’t have that kind of time.  I have a half-marathon to run in 1 week, and I need to finish my training strong for the race.

Before I go any further, I need to apologize to my friends and co-workers as they will suffer the most this week.  I’m sure most of you reading this post so far are expecting from the title and the tone of the post that I will be trying a different tactic to screw my head back on to my shoulders, like positive reinforcement and self-reflection, religious fever, or even just being nice.  Some of you expecting the upset, after a string of upsets this weekend (Thanks a darn lot, Vandy and Villanova), might consider that I would instead go the mental-flagellation route on the analogy that the junkyard dog that gets kicked comes back meaner and badder than ever (Also known as the Rocky Balboa training cycle…i.e. get beat up, train to some motivating music, come back and beat up Russians and guys with mohawks). 

Instead I’m going with option C.  Option C is a ego rebuilding tool of last resort due to the harm to me and those around me.  It is a weapon when properly deployed leaves an impression of myself that people believe is the real me.  I assure you, it is not (at least not at the level that I have to employ).  In order to fix my head and get ready for my race, I must unleash Arrogant Joel.  Now some of you who may know me are reading this and wondering…this isn’t Arrogant Joel already?  Sadly no.  One of things that I love about running is the confidence that it instills in me and the knowledge that if I train harder, I can still achieve better results.  I try to be cool about it and self-deprecating, but my enthusiasm often bubbles over in somewhat un-humble tones.  Seriously though, I was a slob, and running has made me better person physically and spiritually.  I just want to pay it forward and help other people feel that way.  Sadly, my frame of reference is me, and whenever I talk about how good I feel (trying to inspire, I swear), it sounds conceited.  I’m not stupid, I know other people are faster than me, stronger than me, and other people have lost more weight than me (and some in a shorter time), but I’m still proud of what I’ve done.

Arrogant Joel is a whole other level.  Think of Barney from How I Met Your Mother, and Reggie Miller playing the Knicks, and you get the idea.  He is a gigantic A-hole, overly confident in his abilities (without much basis for thinking so), and completely willing to share his Awesomeness with those less-awesome (After all, if you can’t be awesome, at least you’ll know what it looks like.  That’s right…me, baby.  ;p) .  He is a trash-talking, self-centered douchehat that will sacrifice any semblance of decorum and politeness (A gracious winner is a crying loser after I’m done with him).  He will push himself to win at all costs, short of cheating, but his faith and over-estimation of his abilities leaves no other acceptable outcome than Flawless Victory (as if there were any other).  The one exception to this rule is that he doesn’t get to come home.  My patient, loving and beautiful wife has made it abundantly clear that Guy is not allowed or tolerated in this house.  So he has to stay on the field…or at the office.  So once again, my friends and staff, I’m sorry.  I really am.  But I have a race to run, and I need that gigantic A-hole to do it.  Later kids!

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Noah Influence

Hail my running brothers and sisters!  This post was originally going to be an insightful, possibly witty, definitely bragadocious, recounting of my latest training run.  However, I think I’d like to point you guys to the blog of another fellow runner, Noah Moore.  Noah went to Centre College with my wife, Julie, and she always talked about how cool and nice he was.  She talked so much about him, that I felt like I knew the guy, even though we’ve never met.  After I started my blog, Julie told me about Noah’s blog, Moore on Running, and when I read it, I knew that I had found a kindred spirit.  Like myself, Noah started running as part of his attempt to lose weight and get healthier.  And like myself, Noah was bitten by the running bug.  Not only has he raised money for the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, he has inspired his 6 year old son, Peyton, to take up running and complete his own kid’s marathon.  Peyton just finished running 26.2 miles over 3 months.  Noah was even interviewed about Peyton’s marathon for Endurance  Not to be all hero-worshippy, but to me, Noah is a great ambassador to our sport.  He is the epitome of how we as runners should give back and inspire others to take positive steps in their lives to better themselves and help other people along the way.  Way to go, Noah!

That being said, I am not Noah.  I have a mission.  I want to bring as many folks with me to the runners Promised Land as I can, but I don't have Noah's knack for charity.  In fact, I've been told that I can be a pretty selfish a-hole at times.  For those of you who are interested in helping out a charity with your running (unlike me), there are several ways.  Experienced runners can help coach through Team in Training or other charities.  You can also contact some charities about getting a spot for a specific race.  When you do that, you are usually expected to raise a certain amount of money for that charity, but they will often pay for your admission into the race or other expenses.  Another avenue for charity is through  Plus3Network “connects people with corporate sponsors and worthwhile causes.”  Essentially Plus3Network is an internet based training log that allows users to give to specific charities by logging  your workouts with the website.  Each charity has a corporate sponsor that donates money based on your workouts.  It’s not a bad option for those folks that aren’t good at soliciting donations, and it helps a worthy cause based on workouts that you were going to do anyhow.  Make those miles work people!  Of course, it’s good pub for the corporate sponsors and they even manage to advertise a bit on the site.  I've actually logged miles on Plus3.  I've considered helping coach a running a team or raising money for charity, but I haven't found a charity yet that I feel a particular kinship for.  

Okay, now for the hard numbers.  I did an 8 mile training run at a 7:23/mile marathon pace yesterday.  It was a warm day, so I ran shirt off, enjoying my topless freedom.  I love that.  It’s the tail end of spring break for the city schools here, so there were a ton of kids and their parents playing in the park as I passed through.  The pace was tough to maintain, but I needed to see if I could even hit that kind of speed for that long.  A BQ would require me to hold that speed for 2 more hours, so I doubt that IT will be in my immediate future.  However, I may be able to make my year goal of 3:30:00.
That’s all I’ve got.  Later kids!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Hamster Analogy

Hail my running brothers and sisters!  Today was my first track/speed/interval workout.  I have to admit that I hate running on the dreadmill these days.  I feel like a hamster endlessly running in place on its little wheel.  I get so bored that I start to look around the gym until I quit paying attention and then trip over my own feet.  It didn’t used to be this way.  I used to be able to handle over an hour on the treadmill, running for miles, but after numerous tweaks to my running form and miles spent outside, I just can’t find my rhythm on the treadmill any longer.  Then I’m getting bored, and then I’m falling on my face.  Tragic really.  

So while I’ve admitted my feelings about the treadmill, I also need to admit that I harbored the self-same feelings about the track.  I mean really, how different could it be?  It’s just running in the same general area, over and over again.  But I’ve found that I was wrong.  I imagine that if I weren’t doing intervals, I might have felt differently.  However I had to focus so much on maintaining my pace, my form and my breathing that I did not notice that I was running in circles.  Still, it didn’t feel as natural or fun as running on the road or on a trail, exploring new places, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought either.  It was harder than I thought it would be.  The effort, even for as little as I did, really pushed my limits.  I’m looking forward to doing more track workouts, to measuring my progress, and to seeing what I can do. 

Now for the hard numbers:  I did a 1.13 mile warmup at an 8:30/mile pace.  Then I did 6x885 meter intervals with quarter mile recovery laps in between.  I did the intervals respectively in 3:25.02, 3:26.69, 3:22.40, 3:31.23, 3:36.15, and 3:33.19.  That’s an average of 3:28/885 m.  I don’t think that was too shabby for a track rookie, but I still have some room for improvement.  Geek note:  Tomorrow (Wednesday) is new comics day.  Yay!  All right I need to crash.  I have a long drive tomorrow before I get my comics.  Later kids.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

End of the Week Recap 3/14/10

Hail my running brothers and sisters!  This week was a big week for mileage, but short on cross-training/conditioning.  I ran 46.33 miles at an average pace of 8:22/mile.  I did only 35:00 minutes of cross-training.  This is a sad trend for me, in that my cross-training tends to diminish exponentially as my mileage goes up.  In my defense, I’m tired after 40+ miles for the week.  I weighed in late this morning as I was helping my wife and kids pack up the car for spring break (miss you guys already!), but I did come in at 159.2 lbs.  Interesting little fact:  after my long run today, I lost nearly 5 lbs from dehydration! 

My long run was 21 miles at 8:48/mile.  I was hoping to keep it around 8:30/mile, but my back was sore from cross-training yesterday (I did a lot of bridges and deadlifts).  When you throw in that my right shin has been bothering me periodically, I guess I should be happy that I was able to manage sub-9:00’s.  Today I ran the back half of the marathon course. 

From elevation charts

I was doing okay, right around 8:30/mile until, I hit mile 19.64.  I had the worst leg cramp that I’ve felt in a long time slam me to a stand-still.  The pain in my left calf was so acute that I would have fallen to the ground if I were able to bend my knee.  Instead I let out a bellowing scream as my leg locked up and nailed me to ground.  I managed to stretch out my calf and start walking.  I walked a tenth of a mile and picked up my pace to a slow jog.  It was rough, but I finished the last mile and half to end my run.

I didn’t get any time at the YMCA this week due to my crappy schedule, and I probably won’t again this week because of another craptastic schedule.  My family is on spring break in Gulf Shores, and I miss them already.  The only upside is that I should be able to get lots of rest and guilt-free exercise.  Later kids!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The PR Article

Hail my running brothers and sisters!  I was reading this month’s issue of Runner’s World as Kentucky was finishing off my beloved Vols in the SEC tournament (I was really hoping to see Ashley Judd cry as she was leaving Bridgestone Arena, but today, I’m the one crying.  Sigh.) and I came across this article by Peter Sagal.  Peter Sagal is the host of Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell MeIt’s a current events quiz show on NPR that’s really funny.  Turns out Peter Sagal is also a runner and contributing writer to Runner’s World.  This article is about Personal Records and what they mean to racers/runners.  Take a look.  Sagal really nails it with this article on why we chase the PR.  We chase it to challenge our past and future selves and to say that on this day, we were the best we ever have been or ever will be.  I guess in that respect, the PR is somewhat like Schrodinger’s cat, in that we have an equal chance to achieve a PR or fail to achieve it, and we won’t know whether we will  achieve it until we actually go after it.  Hmmm.  I just read that.  Scratch that.  Chasing the PR is nothing like Schrodinger’s cat.  Clearly I’m at that level of over-indulged blowhard with a delusions of self-importance and I need to be reigned in.  I’m blaming UT’s loss for this and not a defect in my personality.  Ha!

No hard numbers today, because I decided take a rest day before my long run tomorrow.  I did manage to work in about 20 minutes of conditioning with the resistance band.  Later kids.  

Friday, March 12, 2010

Random Thoughts 3/13/10

Hail my running brothers and sisters! 
  • It’s late and I’m downloading Mass Effect 2.  It looks pretty cool from the trailers.  It was made by Bioware, so it should be pretty good.
  • Is anyone else watching Chuck?  I still love this show and having Kristen Kreuk guest-star was great.  She has a very smoldering, girl-next-door hotness about her.  Adam Baldwin is still delivering the funnies too.
  • I’ve been listening to Banned on the Run podcast on my Blackberry.  It’s kinda fun listening to my running peers talk about their running and running in general.
  • I have done little to no cross-training or conditioning this week.  I seriously need to start back before I lose my upper body fitness.
  • Clearly I’m not as funny as I think I am.
  • My running, while generally good lately, has suffered some because I’m not doing much variety.  Essentially, I’m doing tempo runs or long slow distance.  I really need to do some hill work and intervals.  
  • I’m still playing around with the content on my blog.  I’m hoping to add more shots of my routes and maybe even an elevation chart every once and awhile. 

ec 31210
  • I think that I ate something that did not agree with me, because I’m feeling a little queasy right now. Bleh.
  • Now for some hard numbers:  I got in an easy 5.8 minute mile. 
  • Ultimate Spiderman is a great read, because Brian Bendis really makes his characters fun to read.
Later kids!

Banned on the Run - Episode 6?

Banned on the Run - Episode 6?

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These guys are pretty funny.  I realize this is an old podcast, but if they get enough downloads, maybe they'll come back.  You should check out their blogs also.  Later kids!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Macho Imperative

Hail my running brothers and sisters!  After a couple of days of little sleep and lots of driving, I got in a decent run.  After being cooped up in the car for 5 hours, it felt good to stretch my legs for a bit.  I considered going to my office and start my run from there, but the SEC tournament is in town (Go Vols!!!).  Downtown was a nightmare, so I headed to Centennial Park for my run.  By this afternoon, the rain had moved out and the sun was doing its thing.  So the park was crowded with runners.  As I started my run, I noticed this guy pass by me at a pretty good clip.  Clearly the exhaustion had gone to my brain, and against my better judgment, I decided that guy would have to learn who the badass in the park was.  So instead of starting out slow and warming up my muscles, I bolted out at a decent clip, caught up to the unwary passer, and proceeded to pass him.  I stayed ahead of him until I left the park and was able to slow my pace down a bit.  I may as well have thumped my chest, pissed in the middle of the park and claimed all that I surveyed as mine, but there are just some days, even easy days, that you want to be faster than the other guy.  That was my day.  Because I started out too fast, I never settled into a good rhythm.  At times I felt quick and light, but for several portions of the run, I just felt plodding, despite maintaining a decent pace.  Now for the hard numbers:  A 6.31 mile easy run at 8:01/mile.  After my run, my calves were burning, but I felt pretty energized.  Overall a decent run.


Geek review:  DC Comics is running a new mini-series:  Rise and Fall.  The story revolves around Green Arrow’s murderous quest for vengeance after the damage and devastation done to his family and his city.  I’m not familiar with the writer’s previous work, but I can’t help feel that I’ve seen this story time and again with Ollie.  And frankly, I’m tired of it.  I thought the whole point of Judd Winick’s GA run was to resolve Ollie’s tortured past with his role as a legitimate hero in the DC Universe.  And one of the ultimate tenets of the DC hero community is:  Thou shall not kill.  I get it, I do.  That’s the whole reason for the story.  Make GA dangerous.  Pit him against his friends and his enemies.  Again.  This story has been done and re-done so many times, it makes the Superman-Flash races look fresh and exciting.  Throw in the fact that the art work is relatively uninspiring and confusing (Does Ollie’s mask have lenses or not?  Why does Promethus’ body keep moving?), and I’m thinking that the current Green Arrow story line will have to go into the crap pile.  I think that the last writer to truly understand Green Arrow was Judd Winick.  Come back Judd, please!  Later kids!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Global Warming, My Ass! 6.66 Mile Run Report

Hail my running brothers and sisters!  I considered naming this post “The Beaver Attack Race,” but I was afraid that title would attract the wrong kind of readers.  Also it wouldn’t clue everyone into the fact that I had completed Razz’s challenge of the bloggers (kind of like Challenge of the Superfriends, but without Casey Kasem….I think).

In any case, I ended up doing MY race on Monday.  The sun was out and it was a beautiful and warm 70 degrees.  I hadn’t intended to run the race on Monday, but I couldn’t drag anyone else out on a middle distance run.  Left to my own devices, I decided to use part of the last leg of the Country Music Marathon route as my race course.  Now this probably wasn’t the smartest idea in the world, but I wanted to make the most of the only really good weather this week. 

It probably wasn't smart for a few reasons.  One, I had just run a hard 18 miles two days before, and while I was mostly recovered, I was still a little sore.  Two, I hadn’t brought my racing shoes.  I don’t know about most of y’all, but I have a pair of shoes that I only wear for racing.  They’re a pair of white/blue Nike TriD III’s that are light and cushiony.  Instead, I had my heavy red/white Asics 2140’s that have over 400 miles on the odometer.  Last, I’m recovering from a cold and my allergies have been wreaking havoc on my sinuses.  Still I thought, beautiful day, birds are singing, people are dancing, yadda, yadda, yadda, I may as well knock out the race so I don’t have to worry about running it in a storm (It’s supposed to rain the rest of the week with a chance of storms on Wednesday).  I figured 7:30 miles would make for a respectable showing, if not avoid wholesale embarrassment and ridicule from my blogging/running peers.

My first mile was a bit slow starting out at 8:02, but not bad considering that I had to dodge traffic and throngs of walkers as I escaped downtown and headed across the river towards LP Field.  Running pas the stadium and through the projects towards the downtown greenway at Shelby Bottoms Park, I caught a slight downhill slope and churned out a nice 7:28 mile.  Mile 3 took me over a slight hill into Shelby Bottoms Park, but I had momentum on my side, which produced a 7:13 mile.  As soon as I crossed into the park, this is where things started to go wrong.  The fatigue from my 18 miler two days ago and the strong start to this race were catching up to me, and my legs started to feel sluggish.  Then the unthinkable/unexpected happened at mile 3.28.  I was charged by a beaver.  A large, fast, angry beaver.  I was about midway into the park, a 9 hole par 3 golf course on the right side of the road and the river on the left side of the road, when I heard a loud rustling in the trees lining the golf course.  I looked ahead and saw this enormous beaver crash through the foliage charge straight at me.  Given this situation, I did what any self-respecting runner would do…I jumped back, almost out of my shoes, and swore like  sailor on shore leave (thereby breaking my Lenten promise also.  Curse you again crazy beaver!).  The beaver was racing straight at me.  I don’t know what I did to offend it.  Maybe I was one of too many humans invading its space.  Maybe he didn’t like the way I smelled, or possibly runners’ legs look like useful building material for beaver dams, but I don’t know.  I tried to prepare myself for the wild beaver-melee that was sure to come.  However it didn’t happen like that.  Instead, Mr. Wild Beaver ran straight into a large drainage pipe and disappeared from view.  Glancing around to make sure it wasn’t a trap or some elaborate beaver ambush, I sped along the greenway out of beaver-harm’s way.  Sadly, my exhaustion and narrow beaver-escape had taken their toll and my speed dropped to a 7:45 mile (I think I was able to keep it under 8:00 due to my attempt to outrun said beaver.  I know he was waiting for me to come back.  I know it.).  The rest of my race was rather uneventful, if not exhausting, as I did my best to recover and build back my speed.  As it was, I managed to eke out a 7:35 on mile 5 as I fled the park/beaver ambush and a 7:39 mile as LP Field came into view.  My last leg, which finished just short of the Country Music Marathon finish line, I did in 5:05.  I did end up going slightly over the 6.66 distance (6.70), and my end time was 50:50 at an average pace of 7:35/mile.

Overall I was happy with my time considering that I wasn’t “race ready” and that I was nearly mauled by an angry beaver.  This was a fun exercise, but I doubt that I could race by myself again.  I like to start out a race in a crowd of strangers, because I know that many of them want to beat me as much as I want to beat them.  There’s something about being in that mix of runners that gets the adrenalin pumping and pushes you to go harder.  Running by myself seemed to lack the urgency and energy that other races hold.  Still I had a good time, and I can’t wait to read the reports from my fellow bloggers!  Later kids!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

End of the Week Recap 3/7/10

Hail my running brothers and sisters!  This week I ran 38.44 miles at an average pace of 8:18/mile.  I did only 38:00 minutes of cross-training, so my strength training is off for the week.  I wasn’t home this morning so I didn’t get to weigh.  Yesterday after my long run however, I clocked in at 157 lbs.  After several plates of barbeque this weekend, I’m feeling decidedly heavier today, so let’s call it around 160ish.  My only speed run this week was a fairly short 3.1 miles at 7:21/mile.  My long run was 18 miles at 8:27/mile.  That was a pretty good run even though I hadn’t taken in enough carbs to sustain myself on the run.  So at the end of it, I was pretty whipped.  To get ready for the marathon, I ran most of the marathon route.  This time around, I’m finding that I can handle the hills better and am working on my pacing.  The grossest thing that I saw on my run was that someone had puked on a car on the street.  Totally gross.  The forecast for next week is calling for rain and storms for most of the week, so I anticipate that my runs will not be very long.  I hope this doesn’t end up being the case, but I’m already planning on spending more time at the Y this week.  I guess that’s all I have for this week.  Later kids!

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Blog Tool

Hail my running brothers and sisters!  Despite my claims to geeky awesomeness, it appears that I’m behind the curve on some nice bloggy tools.  Thanks to aron and her great blog for tipping me off to the blog tools she’s using.  On her recommendation, I downloaded Windows Live Writer to see if I liked it better than Blogger’s rigid format.  So far it works and looks a lot like a very bare Microsoft Word.  Essentially you set up your post in Writer, and then upload it to your blog host.  You have a little more control over image size, effects (I rotated the image a bit) and placement.  You can also put a hyperlink in a picture as I did below.  I was hoping that it would help me with my layout in Blogspot, but it looks like that may require some playing to find what I need.  It works well with Internet Explorer, which is fine, but lately I’ve been a Chrome guy.  I’ll let you know how the experiment goes.  No hard numbers today.  It was a rest day and I was in a CLE all day.  Tomorrow is a long run though, so you should get a recap on that.  Later kids!


Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Churro Variable

Hail my running brothers and sisters! Food=Fuel=Good.  Churros+Me=Bad.  You can also substitute churros for chocolate covered almonds, cookies, apple pie, cheesecake, pizza, or burgers.  I have to come clean.  This weekend I was less than stellar in my appetite control.  There was the churro on Saturday after a late lunch of pepperoni pizza at Costco.  Sunday, I partook of that fluffy chocolaty, rich croissant.  And all through the weekend I dabbled in decadent morsels of dark chocolate almond goodness.  

Hi.  My name is Joel, and I'm a food-a-holic.  Hi Joel.  

You would think that after a year and half of dieting and exercise, it would be easy to control the cravings, but it isn't.  Now, I don't sneak ding dongs into my briefcase and  I don't secretly cram twinkies into my face at midnight, but I must admit that I do enjoy food.  I don't think food makes me feel good or secure, but is there anything better than a good juicy burger?  Okay, maybe a creamy, smooth slice of cheesecake with strawberry topping is close. Now if it just stopped at taking a few bites or eating a small portion, I would be golden.  Like cake.  Fluffy, buttery cake.  However, I tend to eat till my plate is cleared, which is why I try to avoid eating out too often.  If I make my own meals and snacks, I'm able to control the portions, but when I eat out, I always feel compelled to clean my plate.  And when I say clean, I mean clean, as in leave no-crumb-behind-clean or as in if-cleaned-the-house-this-way-my-wife-would-stroke-out-from-happiness-clean.  My latest indulgence has been dessert every night of mixed fruit with a graham cracker crust, drizzled with chocolate syrup and Cool Whip lite. I've tried doubling up on the servings of fruit to make me feel less guilty, but I have to admit to savoring the crust the most.  Hmmm....crust.  Okay, now for the hard numbers.  I ran an easy 6.2 miles today at a pace of 8:01/mile. A good run if not for this little interruption to my route:
You can see the story here.  I was hoping to just find a way around the wreck, out of the way of the police, but the officer blocking my way told me that it would probably turn into a crime scene, so I needed to go around the block.  I guess it's good that I hadn't left for my run 20 minutes earlier!

Final notes:  I received my early registration letter for the 2010 AJC Peachtree Road Race, and I have submitted my registration.  Yay for me!  This is a huge 10K that is popular, strongly supported and well organized.  However, the fact is that I enjoy the race for the opportunity that it gives me and my family to spend some time with our good friends in Atlanta over the holiday.  Finally, I signed up for ROATM's virtual race.  By the time you read this, the deadline will have passed to sign up for the race, but he has a hilarious blog that you should check out.  Later kids!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Conditioning Factor

Hail my running brothers and sisters!  As my war on obesity rages, I've found that many neophytes try to follow my path of running as a means to lose their fatty-mc-fat-fat.  The problem with that is that Herr Burgermeister often goes out too fast and too far without conditioning his body to handle the exercise.  Running is wonderful in in its simplicity in that it need not take much training or expense to participate.  Just go out and run.  Shoes are even optional these days.  Still I try to get new runners to wade in slowly.  The run-walk method is proven way of preventing injuries and building endurance.  Unfortunately the newly converted-former couch potatoes may sometimes feel so good that they believe that they can tolerate either more speed or distance and end up hurting themselves.  Trust me, I've been there.  Lots of times.  Lots. and lots.  And it hurt. So my recommendation to new runners is that you run-walk for no more than 30 minutes every other day the first week.  I also suggest that you do some weights to strengthen your core and entire body to handle the stress from running.  The weight conditioning need not be overly-strenuous or difficult.  Body weight exercises  are a great way to build your base strength before you can start to really lose weight, as muscle burns more fat (or some other saying like that which I didn't really understand).  Geek Tip of the Day:  If you're not watching Flashforward, head over to and watch the first 10 episodes.  It's no Lost, but it does have an interesting premise in that people worldwide blacked out for 2.5 minutes and saw their future in that time.  Pretty cool.  All right kids, run hard and have fun.

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