Monthly Archives: October 2011

My friend Sarah

I don’t know why I thought I didn’t need cold weather gear for this weekend. I brought one midweight jacket and some pants, which I guess is enough but given that it’s snowing out right now… I probably should have brought a winter coat. C’est la vie. But with the lack of multiple sets of cold weather running gear, there’s no way I’m going out for a 20 minute easy run in the snow/rain/ice. So today is all about doing nothing stupid, getting/staying hydrated, getting/staying warm and keeping off my feet as much as possible.

Returned to the old office yesterday to have lunch with some of my old coworkers. It was a weird to be back in that office. In only a year, a lot of people have left and things just seemed so incredibly different). At one point I thought, hmmm I’m a bit under-dressed to be in the office. Then I laughed and remembered that there really wasn’t anything they could do to me. Really nice to see the people I wanted to see, especially in the context of not being there everyday. But pretty much everything about this place is disorienting. I think it’s a sign that this place was never really home.

I’m staying at my friend Sarah’s house. Sarah is a rock star. After the mess, she was one of the few people in DC who I relied. She was at the first ironman, we’ve raced together in DC and Chicago, and had a ton of fun together. In the grand scheme of things, Sarah is very very good people. Arrived Thursday night to her house wherein the dumbest dog in the world, Wrigley, and her boyfriend Joel watching college football. Switched over to the World Series and watched that game go 11 innings. Sarah got back from Darden Friday afternoon (after I had entertained and been entertained by old coworkers) bearing Sour Patch Kids(!), and after picking up my bib, we went to dinner with my old coworker Cody, Kathy, and their daughter Ellen (whom I had dinner with in Cambridge 3 weeks ago). Ellen pretty much hates me. Towards the end of the night every time she would look at me, she’d burst into tears. I have a way with women.

Travel day

Woke up this morning to a cold rain in Boston. Over the past couple of weeks, it’s been obvious that late fall/winter is coming, and now it’s here. Supposed to be snowing in or around Boston tonight, and getting some accumulation up by the lake house. Kind of sad I am missing that. On the subject of missing things, I don’t really know why anyone would schedule their A race on Halloween weekend when they enjoy having fun. Invitations have been rolling in for birthday parties, halloween parties, triathlon team get-togethers, halloween races…

Today was travel day. Unlike New Orleans, Coeur d’Alene, my trip to Amanda’s wedding, Pittsburgh, today’s flight went relatively painlessly aside from a short delay waiting for the flight to come in. Thought a bit about whether running was an addiction (not that it’s a bad addiction, if it is). Didn’t really come up with an answer to that one, but the context was how the weather today was so perfect for a long-ish run, and yet taper and all. Not that I feel bad about tapering and racing this weekend. Just kind of the Murphy’s Law of training: the day you most want to train is the day you can’t.

What’s your favorite weather for running/whatever you do for fun?

I am ready I am ready I am ready I am

The past two open marathons I’ve done, I had no idea whether I had trained up to hit the goals I had set for myself. I had no concept of what pace I could maintain, no concept of whether I could run the entire distance. This time… I know I’ve put the work in. It’s an incredible feeling. I’d say it’s zen-like, but I think the only reason I think that is because zen was the answer to a crossword clue today. But whatever the feeling is, it’s quite relaxing. I want to kick ass at the race on Sunday, and physically and mentally, I’m ready to. Should something go wrong, it’ll go wrong and I’ll deal with it. I may not hit my goals in that case, but it won’t be due to a lack of fitness or speed, but rather a lack of luck. My Achilles is still quite tight, so I cut the track workout short tonight (one mile at threshold which was very very easy). Want to be confident before a race? Train up for it and have faith in your training.

My preparation for Marine Corps in terms of knowing about the race has been fairly laughable. My buddy Shane from high school and I were talking during the Jaguars game on Monday night as we tried to figure out where he should meet me after the race to watch the Jags game.

Shane: oh right
what time does your race start?
me: that’s a good question
i should check, huh?
Shane: haha
me: (i really have no idea)
Shane: just show up and start runnin’
me: 8 am

Yeah… I’m on top of things. I’m normally not so lackadaisical about knowing the details of a race, but given how busy I’ve been and how familiar I am with the DC area. Looked at the course for the first time today as well (not that it would have changed my training beforehand at all). It’s actually incredibly familiar: all of the streets are streets I’ve run on or biked on numerous times when I lived in DC. It’s gonna be awesome.

Update to the last post: Coach Steve elaborated on his tweet.

Embracing the Awesome

T-5 or 6 days (I’m not sure how you count from Monday night to Sunday morning). Achilles was really tight on 7.5 easy miles. Part of the issue is that running easy is a bit easier than running at speed and I think something’s a bit different in my foot strike. All I know is that during my strides tonight the pain was a lot less than during the easy portion of the run. So all systems are go for the marathon.

In response to my post yesterday, my coach posted the following:

Then he put a thought-provoking tweet up earlier today:

Ppl who say things like "Embrace the Suck", "Slow down the least", "Manage the Shitty" in regard to IM aren't training or racing correctly.
Steve Johnson

There was some back and forth between Steve and Steve Fleck about that tweet (and who those strategies are really meant for), and I thought about a lot of the run tonight. My feeling is that if you want to finish an ironman, then those might be good strategies. But if you want to race… then the dark horse is right. If your goal is to slow down less and manage a bad day… you need better goals and a better outlook on the race. Thought a bit about how it applies to me this weekend as well. Of course, my strategy isn’t listed about. It’s just to run the way I’ve trained. I’ve put in the miles and the time and the effort. It’s easy to say that I’ll ignore the wall that’s inevitably gonna hit around mile 20-22, but I’m not worried about it. So which Steve do you think was right? Steve Fleck? Steve “Dark Horse” Johnson?

Update: Jags winning means I break taper and have a beer. Not really a big deal, as I don’t think the not drinking is really an issue.

I’ve been dipped in the river Styx

Got a run in tonight after spending time at the Head of the Charles with my sister, brother-in-law and my nephews. The runs have been going well but my right Achilles has been really tight of late. Not sure what it is, but I know that when I’m running it’s not hurting me at all. So it’s just a bit weird but as of right now just something to keep an eye on. Took yesterday off thinking that maybe the run on Friday had stressed it out, but I don’t think it was the case. Not all was lost though as I got to meet Joe Vukson, the founder of 1bandID, his lovely wife, son and dog. I already knew he was a nice guy through twitter, but it was cool to be able to put a face to the name.

Meg asked me tonight what my goal was for the Marine Corps Marathon. 3 hours is the, I think, very attainable goal, should all go not horribly wrong. That’s placing a lot of faith in my stomach to behave for 3 hours. The last race it did that at was Jacksonville Beach back in February (which was before I started writing here). The second issue is the mental battle.

Everyone thinks that an endurance athlete is someone who is mentally tough. I think, in my case, that’s not entirely true. I wouldn’t say I give up easily, but I tend to give in to my body fairly often. I’ve had a number of races where I’ve allowed myself to walk perhaps before I should have. In fact, I’ve never run an entire marathon (open or otherwise). That’s not to say I’ve ever DNFed a race (the only way I’ll DNF is for medical reasons or a family emergency), but every marathon I’ve done I’ve walked a bit of it. It my be an issue of pacing and training (not putting in the miles and the work) or it might be that I’m mentally… weak. If I walk at Marine Corps, it won’t be because I haven’t put in the miles or training. That much I know.

When I raced with Endurance Nation for my first ironman, they told us to focus on the “One Thing” that would get us from mile 18 to the end of the run. Not sure if that will work for me (not sure it did then). I think what would work for me is to turn my brain off for 3 hours next Sunday morning and get out of my own damn way. So, gentle reader, I put it to you: What tricks do you have to keep your brain from stopping you from being awesome?

Beating the Taper

Got out for a 10+ miler tonight after work. It’s been a long, crazy week. Got back from Pittsburgh late Sunday, ran 7.5 on Monday and then had to go down to Connecticut for meetings from Tuesday evening to Thursday evening. Left Boston later than I wanted to on Tuesday and when I got to my hotel, I realized I had forgotten my dress shirts in Boston. (I did shit like that back when I was a kid at swim practice. The number of goggles and locks I left/forgot at the pool… it was so ridiculous that my parents called me Space Cadet.) Combined with how late I got to the hotel and my panic to find some place that would open before I needed to get to my meetings meant that I was up far later than I should have been, so I was exhausted all day Wednesday and Thursday. Problem with taper is that when I don’t train as hard, I don’t get as worn out mentally and I tend to stay up later. Got back Thursday in time to go to see The Art of Flight (won free tickets) with my friend. But all of that meant that I didn’t get in any running for three straight days.

When I started the run, I was feeling pretty down about things. My legs felt heavy, I was feeling pretty down about missing runs this week, and just exhausted from a lack of sleep. After two miles of warmup at an easy-ish pace, I picked up the pace to marathon pace… and then started going faster than race pace. Did 8 miles at race pace or faster. Mind was in Maybe the best way to get over taper craziness is to just not taper as hard as I was. Funny thing: my soon-to-be-coach (superstud Steve Johnson) entered the MCM Charity Challenge and guessed that my pace for the marathon would be 6:49/mile. My pace in tonight’s run? 6:49 per mile. Creepy. But also awesome. Really excited for the upcoming season with him.

Something deeper and more inward looking next time. Requests for topics?

Well, that’s it

No, I’ve not dropped out of Marine Corps Marathon. I’ve just finished the last beer I’ll have before the race (a Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA). It’s not really necessary to go dry (I think), but I’m still feeling the effects of teh sick. Not really anything that’s been impacting training, but more just a residual sore throat and a lot of unpleasant stuffed-uppedness when I wake up. Don’t think beer has anything to do with it, but clearing that stuff out over the next two weeks is kind of important.

Got in my last long run this weekend. Was targeting 22 with ~14 at marathon pace (6:44-6:51), but had to fly to Pittsburgh first. And then, as with so much of my travel this year, my flight got delayed. Fortunately, JetBlue is pretty awesome and they gave some compensation for the delay (it was an mechanical issue not a weather issue). But that really threw off the plan for the day, as I departed Boston at 12 noon instead of arriving in Pittsburgh at 12. At that point, it was a matter of coordinating with the various people I would be running with that day to figure out where we were going and what time we should meet.
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Long days, short nights

Despite the fall being here, it’s relatively warm out in Boston. Not that I got much of a chance to enjoy it today. Working on multiple projects at work… it’s a nice feeling to be called in to work on important projects on tight deadlines. Just didn’t get as much running in today as I would have liked. Meh.

Anyhow, there was a mention about the annual Kona bitchfest (don’t read the links if you don’t want to hate humanity) about lottery/Biggest Loser entrants. I posted something on twitter about it, and got a couple of responses. Neither was as venomous as I would have expected (one was in much the same vein as I feel). I get that people are upset when someone gets a slot for being on the Biggest Loser. But I think the simple fact of the matter is that they are inspiring to a great many people (mainly because they were on NBC’s Biggest Loser NBC will continue to focus on them when they show Kona), which isn’t to say that those who don’t qualify but get in through lottery are any less impressive or inspiring to those who know their story. But bitching about 1 person, or 10 people, getting into Kona because they are famous (for whatever reason)… these people probably aren’t taking your spot at Kona.

Oh, and the Biggest Loser competitor at Kona? She acquitted herself well, finishing in ~13 hours.


After finishing a 22 miler on Saturday on no breakfast and slightly exhausted from a going away party for a work colleague (yes yes I know, really stupid to go out the day before a long run, but this guy is one of the nicest people I know and really welcomed me into his group of friends, so I wasn’t going to miss it), I wasn’t really up for running today. When I got back from the run, my legs continued to twitch, which was kind of awesome, but it left my legs a bit tight today.

Last night I tended bar for my sister and her husband as they threw a fund raising party for the charity they are running for at the New York Marathon. Got a really good night’s sleep (fell asleep on the couch again, but eventually moved to the bed). Woke up, chilled out a bit and then drove over to my brother’s apartment to lend him and his girlfriend my car so they could go apple picking. After that, I headed to my sister and bru’s place to watch football and be a monkey. See, they have a static trapeze rig in their apartment, and since I’ve got TUBS1 (and want to get rid of it), hanging (heh) out at their place is a great way to relax my legs. I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeves, but I keep trying to learn new ones. Today… the dislocation. Which sounds much more painful than it is, but not far off.

The idea is to get even more rotated than I am here, and rotate back into a knee hang. This was my last attempt of the night (maybe I got closer earlier on, but probably not). I should be more straight-legged (poor flexibility), but I doubt I could have done anything like this a month ago. So progress.

Not a bad way to spend a weekend recovery day. Back at it tomorrow.

1TUBS: Tiny upper body syndrome.

How the Hell I Got Started on This Path

I’ve been asked a lot lately about why I got into triathlons, and specifically how I got into doing iron-distance stuff. Ironman Arizona in April 2008 was my second triathlon since graduating college in 2004, third triathlon since 2000, and fourth triathlon ever (I did one when I was probably 6 or 7). So what made me jump in feet first into long distance racing?
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