Thursday, November 29, 2012

Three Things Thursday; Photo Challenge, Vegas Strip, and Coaching

The lull before the storm.

I have been in a bit of a running (and thus writing slump) lately as I'm in the month before my official sixteen week Boston marathon training program kicks in.  It's fitting that my "Three Things Thursday" are completely random.


Are you running the Boston Marathon this April?  Are you a blogger, active tweeter, Instagramer, or Pinterest runner?  I want to hear from you!  I am working on a #photochallenge leading up to the race.  If you haven't heard of a #photochallenge, it's pretty simple.

A list of words or topics is posted usually over 30 days and your challenge is to try and post a fitting picture each day.  Plenty of time, but I want to round up some runners who can't stay off their Pinterest or Instagram accounts and get some ideas going.

It's tough but yet it's not to think of 30 words associated with marathon training and the Boston Marathon.  email me, tweet me, Facebook, or comment below.  Would love to have you join in #30DAYSTOBOSTON #photochallenge.


The kids went off to Grandma's last week for Thanksgiving so my wife and I were empty nesters for the holidays.  Not exactly a popular vote with the rest of my local family; my wife and I bolted for Vegas for the holidays.  I used to go to Vegas in my early twenties for the same holiday and had fond recollections of the anti-holiday.  No cooking combined with taking in some football where I placed a little "action" was a great alternative to the normal traditions.  We had a great four days staying at the Palazzo hotel and was able to upgrade to a decent  suite which included an eliptical machine in the room--booyah!

Me at the Palazzo pool; #dork

Over the course of the trip, I was able to fit in a 2000 yard swim in the heated outdoor pool ( outdoor swim in November!,) my own personal eliptical, and an individual "Turkey Trot" 5K on the strip (the only other 5K I could find was miles out of town, so I opted for my own.  Running on the Vegas strip is a definite runner's bucket list item, but get out there early to avoid the crowds.  It's worth it just to see the odd looks you get from people already cracking open their Budweisers.  I got at least one "what the hell?!" look as I sprinted past Ballys.

The other highlight of the trip was taking in the Absinthe show at Caesars our last night there.  Think sleazy carnival comes to town combined with Cirque du Soleil.  It's not for the faint of heart as it's definitely adult material and there is nothing that's off limits.  Halfway through the show, the ringleader pointed out three audience members to participate on-stage.  He pointed towards me and said, "dorky white guy with the glasses, get up here."  Certainly, he couldn't have been talking about me.  I thought I shed that title in Jr. High.  The other two was a black guy (intentionally picked by the ringleader,) and wife of the "angry white Republican."  The two men were to (ahem) dance for the woman while seated (otherwise known as a lap dance.)

I only had two libations in my body and I was thinking, I am a couple beers short of being able to pull this off.  I realized that I either go "all in," or I will be even further embarrassed.  Should I lose my job in telecom (probable if they read this,) I apparently have a 2nd career to fall back on as I won the dance off.  Two things that will likely never happen again; me dancing in a Vegas show, and me beating out a black guy in a dance contest.  The later proving that white guys can dance.

So I guess I pulled off a quadathlon; run, swim, eliptical, and lap dance.  Not enough tea in China to post that video here.

Coach and Plan

Now that I've returned from Spiegelworld (Absinthe reference) it's time to get serious on the work that begins the second week of December.  I met with a good buddy of mine (Dustin) who is training with local Brad Hudson.  I most recently used the Run Less, Run Faster FIRST plan for the Colorado Marathon last May.  I have used Higdon in the past and my local running group.  Many swear by Pfitzinger which is at the opposite end of the continuum on mileage from the FIRST plan with up to 70 miles a week of training.  In other words, many options.  I am talking with Hudson and have a mere three weeks to decide what plan I will follow.  Tough choices to make in the next month.  Stay tuned on the plan I plan to use.  What do you swear by?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

My Running Top Ten Thankful List

On this Thanksgiving day, the parade is over and the first football game has started. Most homes are filled with the aroma of the turkey cooking in preparation for the feast to come. With that, here are my ten things to be thankful for as a runner.

1) Okay to go for the mashed potatoes and gravy. You burned it off in the turkey trot that morning or on the "run of regret" on Friday. Go ahead and go for "seconds" and add in some of that brown sugar-laced sweet potatoes.

2) Body Glide. Put another way, my nipples are thankful they don't bleed after a long run. That's one area I'd rather not bleed from.

3) Destination marathons. Like to run? Like to travel? Book a mary in a great city. What a combo!

Moments after qualifying for the 2013 Boston Marathon
4) The marathon expo. It's the day before a race and you're already amp'ed up out of your mind with enthusiasm and anxiety. Like a kid in a candy shop, overstimulate your running senses in a hedonistic run experience.

5) New shoes. If you train for marathons, you're guaranteed to buy new shoes every 500 miles or six months. Hard not to feel fast in a new pair of kicks.

6) Family support. Training for a marathon means a lot of early mornings, lunch runs, and long runs on a Saturday where dad is not available to help with the kid taxi; swim lessons, martial arts practice, Pom events and the like. I'm thankful for the understanding Mrs. SeekingBostonMarathon.

7) A good massage. Only time I can have another woman massage my butt and not get in trouble with my wife.

8) My trusty foam roller. When the masseuse or chiropractor is not available. A normal travel companion on my road mary's.

9) A goo around mile 20+ of a marathon. Hammer Huckleberry tastes like a (guilt-free) slice of pie. #OMG Good stuff.

10) As the NFL continues to try and grow their empire, we have three games on Thanksgiving day. God bless America and the NFL. Sprinkle a little Macy's day parade beforehand and "that's what I'm talking about!"

11) I know this is a top ten list, but I can't help but add this one. I'm thankful to be running in my third Boston Marathon this coming April. It took me four attempts to notch my first. Thinking this would be an annual event, I qualified but didn't get in in 2012. I'm grateful to be heading back to once again drink from the BAA chalice.

12)  I forgot the most important one.  Also proves that runners can't add (normally reserved for simple math around mile 20.)  Thanks for all my real and virtual running friends on my blog, twitter, DailyMile, Instagram, and Facebook.  Too many to mention, but here are a few I like to follow;

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Movember Magic Carpet Ride

Movember; the hairy month before December.

November has turned into a free reign month where a man can grow it out any way he wants all for a good cause. Have an "uptight" white collar job and have never been able to grow a pair of mutten chops? Lambchops, goatee, pencil thin, or barbershop full bush style? Well go right ahead.

Going back to college, I tried to grow a mustache, but my face hair factory wasn't producing yet. I had a fraternity brother that convinced me that if I put cod liver oil on my lip, something would grow. It doesn't work, but it does exacerbate a teenager's acne problem. Don't try it.

I started the month on a bet and have continued to grow out my red mane all for a good cause. #Movember Movember is the month where men grow out their facial hair to help money and awareness for cancer. Women's biggest threat is breast cancer and men's is prostate. While men can get the former, women don't have the later.

What can you do? No...this is not me pandering for money for a good cause, but asking everyone what they can do to help put a dent in these deadly hydras.

One area where you can help is by self screening. I'll resist all the double entendres regarding breast examinations and will leave it "I'm a fan." I personally hit the age this year where the colonoscopy was recommended. I started the year by losing an old work colleague, Rob Pullen, to cancer. He died from this deadly disease much too young at the age of 50. When I read his story along with my boss' wife unexpectantly getting diagnosed with cancer, I promptly signed up for the test. I must say, it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought. Without treading on TMI (too much information,) the preparation the 24 hours before was far worse than the test. I'll spare you the details on that.

The day of? Outside of being freaked out and my wife making good-natured fun of my plight,  I also tried to make light of the situation. I told my wife that I'd hoped for a young female Dr. vs. some old hairy guy violating me. She laughed. As I was getting ready for the ole "Moon River" exam,* I was going through the clipboard questions with the nurse. She couldn't find her chair and I started literally laughing. The "out of place" laughter prompted the nurse to ask me, "what is so funny?" I couldn't resist sharing that it seemed
ironic that she "lost her stool" in this place. She laughed.

The procedure itself was a guilt-free ride on Mr. Toad's Wild ride as they administered the "Michael Jackson Drug," Propofol. May the "king of pop" rest in peace, but I have to say I understood why he got hooked on that stuff. I didn't get to four Mississippi and it was "good night Irene." Talk about some fantastic (albeit drug-induced) sleep. As "Cheech and Chong" used to say, this was some good sh*t. It literally took all the pain away and put me in a happy place.

The only issue I had was that they turned off the gas a bit too early and I seemed to recall waking up when they weren't quite done and watching a movie on T.V. This wasn't a movie you'd want to watch. Fuzzy images of the female Dr. and nurse came into view. It felt a bit like the Seinfeld episode where Jerry went to the dentist and he woke up with blurry images of the dentist and assistant taking a "toke" off the aspirator while putting their clothes back on. Jerry felt violated and I did too, yet I was the only one with my clothes off.

If you've done your screening or you're not a candidate, you can do your part as a runner by raising money through a race. There are a number of races that either sell out early or are tough to get into(Boston, New York, Chicago,) and the charity route is a great option. I raised money for "Team in Training" for one of my marathons and must say that I found it to be more rewarding than the race itself. Talk about a "win-win" situation.

Aside from raising money for a marathon, I also have my annual head shaving rite of passage prior to my Spring marathon. Our local pub promotes St. Baldricks right around St. Patricks Day.  I clip it all off all for a good cause raising money and awarenesss for children's cancer. I benefit as I feel mentally aerodynamic as I approach my race. If I shaved my legs once for a race (never again,) why not my head? Liberating and built for speed at the same time...I'd recommend it.

Finally, I've proven that no topic is untouchable here at SeekingBostonMarathon, but I won't post Katie Couric's colon video, or mine. I hopefully made you think about your screening, giving back perhaps by raising money for a race, or either shaving your head or growing a lip carpet all for a good cause. Both the screening and the fund raising are not as tough as they sound and one even gives you a "magic carpet ride."

If none of these options apply to you, you can contribute to my Movember fund raising page here.

* See Fletch movie where Chevy Chase visits the Dr. and undergoes a prostate exam..."you using the whole fist there Doc?") You can tell, I'm of the right age to undergo these tests by at least three 80's references.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Devil's Playground

"An idle mind is the devil's playground." I probably heard this in sunday school as a child which is ironic as I rarely paid attention...further reinforcing the phrase as I was sinning in front of god daydreaming about girls or anything other than the message I was supposed to be digesting.

Without a fall marathon, I'm in the middle of my "off season." For someone obsessed with running and triathlons, this is a hard concept to grasp. In the last couple years, I had no "off season" and my body physically suffered from it. Overtraining...injury...bad things. So what do you do during an "off season" when you're not working out or running six days a week?

My eliptical pace
As I've written here, I've used a variety of marathon training plans that have as few as three running days a week (with Furman's FIRST plan) to others that are up to 5-6 days a week. What does the alcoholic do when they're used to drinking four cases of beer in a week and are told to scale that back to a couple of beers a couple times a week?  Devil's playground.

I ran into an old college friend last off season at 24 Hr Fitness who'd heard that I ran marathons. He asked are you training for a race now? "No...I'm in my 'off season,'" I replied. He saw me on an eliptical machine that day going at it like a lumberjack taking on a 16" pine on ESPN (see "really fast.") He shook his head like I was either a giant contradiction or some kind of crack addict...or both.  I'm five weeks away from starting my training for the Boston Marathon. I'm in my (using Joey's quotation fingers from "Friends") "off season."

This week, I'm on the road, and still have the mindset of being in the middle of a training plan.

"What time do I arrive in _________?"
"Do I have a dinner that night?"
"What hotel am I at, and do they have a gym?"
"Is it warm enough to run outside?"
"Did I remember my run shoes?" (Rare that I don't pack them.)
"Do I have a breakfast meeting, or can I squeeze one in the morning?" (East Coast makes this tougher.)

My late night arrival early into Boston

Does this sound like the mind of someone in an "off season?" In the case of this week, I had a connecting flight in Houston enroute to Boston for work. I checked (as I always do) for an earlier connection when I landed in Texas. "Yes! I get in three hours earlier...that opens up more options for a workout," I was thinking.  I had no dinner or business commitments that night, but had a setback arriving to a hotel with no gym. I've had plenty of great hotel gyms and others with rusty parts and busted electronics on treadmills when it was too cold or unsafe to run outside (see dodging dogs and cars in India.)

The front desk clerk at the Marriott gave me the bad news of "no gym," but printed off instructions for two different facilities with a free guest pass with the presentation of a hotel key. I threw my bag in the room and bolted out to nearby Andover, MA for a short four mile heart rate run in a really nice gym. The "bar is set" for "really nice gym" when they hand out towels. This helps the traveling runner along with my string backback that's always in my suitcase with a mini-lock. (#greatrunningtraveltip)

Given all that, I've certainly scaled back the number of days that I run during this down time. I have focused on either keeping up some speed work at much shorter distances (mile repeats or Yasso's,) one day a week and heart rate training (1-2 days a week) at some mid level distances (4-8 miles.) I have also hit the weight machines with Boston's downhill course, Newton Hills, and "Heartbreak Hill" in mind--you got to be strong for that "not for the timid" course. For my core, I have continued to swim 1-2 days a week knowing that I'm seven months away from triathlon season but it will also help build my core.

Outside of that, when I'm not running, I'm thinking about it, or writing about it. I should be wearing an "Adidar" t-shirt (all day I dream about running.) In other words, I have no offseason.  What does your off season look like, or do you have one? Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Games Must Go On

UPDATE:  This blog was posted Friday morning (November 2, 2012) and this afternoon, the 2012 ING New York City Marathon was cancelled.  A polarizing topic for sure and arguments on both sides.  Best wishes to New York, New Jersey, and the area for a speedy recovery.

ORIGINAL POST:  Controversy is swirling the marathon world as Hurricane Sandy did more than swirl through the northeast region of our country.  New York made the difficult decision to go ahead and run one of the world's five "Majors" this weekend in New York City--the ING New York City Marathon.  The controversy includes the perception that resources will be supporting a race when they could be doing something much more important--like assisting the victims of the natural disaster.  What about the transportation and logistics for a race that weaves through all the boroughs of the "Big Apple?"  Then there's the insensitivity it in poor taste to run a race when people in the community have lost lives, homes, and loved ones?

On the later topic, there's precedence in the NFL.  Our country has long sought out sports to overcome tragedy.  Paul Tagliabue had a difficult decision after 9/11 and decided NOT to have the weekend's games as scheduled.  He had history on his side as he reflected on NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle's decision to go ahead with NFL Sunday after the assassination of President Kennedy only two days after.  Rozelle would later go on to regret his choice. 

Getty Images

After Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans Saints had no choice but NOT to play in their dome as it became a haven for those displaced from the disaster and required repairs before they could play there again.  The irony in the Saints situation is that it appeared that the city seemed to embrace their team even stronger as they decided to stick it out in New Orleans after having to play at LSU and the Alamodome while the city repaired itself and their dome.

Closer to the sport of marathons, after the terrorist attack on Israel's Olympic team, a mere five days later they ran the marathon.  I can only imagine the butterflies Frank Shorter must have felt at the start of that race.  He'd go on to win one of the rare Olympic wins for the USA.
As a runner, getting to New York is not easy.  Qualifying is tougher than the newer and tougher requirements to get into Boston.  If you don't qualify, there's the option of raising several thousand dollars as a charity entrant or the lottery.  There's a reason they call it a lottery.  You have a Powerball's chance of getting in.  I've tried.  I seek the Boston Marathon, but I am not monogamous and also seek her sister, lady New York.  Training for the race itself is several months and 500-600 miles depending on your plan.  Hotels and airfares have been booked.  You've trained.  Needless to say, it's a major disappointment to a runner not to be able to run a race that took all that to get there.  One individuals disappointment pales in comparison to the heartache in the area.

I watched Brian Williams Rock Center show last night showing the devastation in the area.  Women were crying over the loss of loved ones and retired people were lamenting over how they could possibly start over in their twilight years.  I understand the tragedy of it all and feel for everyone that's suffering, but New York is a city of resilience (see 9/11.)  I agree with Mayor Bloomberg's decision to continue on with the race.

From the Washington Post, Bloomberg was quoted as saying, "This city is a city where we have to go on."

I feel it's unlikely that volunteers who have been assigned months ago are diverting away from those helping with the disaster nearby.  The marathon will help galvanize the community just as sports has done before in other tragedies.  As Avery Brundage (President of the International Olympic Committee) said in 1972, "the games must go on."

Author's Footnote:  Getting a medal in a marathon can't compare to the loss of life.  My thoughts are not meant to trivialize the tragedy as my thoughts and prayers are with those impacted by the hurricane.  What are your thoughts?  Post here or on my Facebook page.

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Average guy w/ an above average appetite for marathon racing and triathlons. Ran my 5th Boston in '15. 3:21, 1:29, 19:21 PR;full/half/5K Opinions & wit are mine