Thursday, January 31, 2013

Runner Badge of Honor

A runner's feet are no thing of beauty
To make them ugly is a runner's duty

Charlie Sheen chases the skirt and the bottle
Alas the real runner can be no foot model

Miles make feet blistered and tough
Your pigs they shout, "enough is enough!"

There are rules to abide
Like use Body Glide

Run just a few and your feet will be calm
More than that, you better use balm

With warm or cold weather
your feet are like leather

If a nail is too long
The nail will go wrong

With the wrong shoe you don't know jack
As you'll learn the toe will turn black

Not around for long, the nail is a goner
Fret not, it is a badge of honor

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Liebster Award: Blog Love

It's awards season in Hollywood and apparently award season in the blogosphere (is that a word?)  I lost out on the funniest blog of the year with #runchat (missed it by "that" much") but I just got my first Liebster award nomination...and I'm not even Jewish.  Kidding aside, huge thanks to one of my favorite blog friends, Grateful Mama for the nod.  A Liebster award is for upcoming bloggers with less than 200 followers to help raise interest in their blog and help them connnect with other like-minded bloggers.  It feels like a chain letter, but a lot more fun and gives you a chance to interact with your blog buddies.

The Rules:

Each nominated person must post 11 things about themselves
Answer the questions that the nominator set for you, plus create 11 questions for the people that you've nominated to answer
Nominate 11 people and link them to your post
Go to their page and tell them
No tag backs!

Eleven random facts about me:

1)  I am a salesperson by day in technology. #nerd
2)  I was an art major my freshman year in college, but switched to go into business.  Some days I question that decision.
3)  I was a co-editor on my high school newsmagazine.  That explains my passion for blogging. #nerd
4)  I started running when I went through a divorce.
5)  I didn't run in high school, but a couple of my best friends did.  I made fun of them as I didn't understand running.
6)  My second wife bought me a book about running.  She jokes that she's a marathon widow, and I'm lucky it hasn't caused a second divorce.
7)  I combined my love of art and writing and wrote a Christmas book for my daughter that I hope to publish some day. "Anna-Nicole's Christmas List."
8)  I suffered from arthritis as a child.  It's some kind of wacky miracle that I can run and I count my blessings that I can.
9)  I have three kids in high school.  Family is very important to me.
10) I'm "part" Native American. "Hi how are ya, hi how are ya."
11)  I sing a "mean" version of "Stray Cat Strut" at the local pub on Karaoke night.

Questions That Grateful Mama asked me:

Are you a dog person or a cat person?
Totally a dog person and not a cat person at all.  In fact, I am sad to admit I think I shamed a girlfriend into ditching her cat for me.  I married her.
What is the first thing you check when you log online in the morning?
That's a toss-up, but usually Instagram or Facebook.
Why did you start blogging?
I started blogging after coming two minutes short of a BQ in my third ever marathon on a leg stress fracture.  I started "Seeking Boston Marathon" as a way to hold myself accountable to hitting my goal.  I am still seeking even though I'm running my third qualified Boston Marathon this April.
It's your last night on earth. What do you order for dinner?
An amazing steak and the most expensive bottle of wine on the menu.
If you won $50 million in the lottery, what would you do with the money?
Build my "Dream House," make sure my parents are taken care of, throw a big party, and become a starving artist.
Name 3 places in the world you would love to visit but haven't yet.
France, Czechloslovokia, and Kara Goucher's dinner table.
What got you into running (or biking, swimming, etc)?
As I mentioned above, "When Jenny left Forrest," I started to run, and run, and run.
What race is on your bucket list?
The rest of the "Big Five" starting with New York, but I'd settle for Paris.
 What is your favorite movie?
I'm a huge movie buff and it often influences my blog writings.  Tough to name one, but it might be Napoleon Dynamite.  Unfortunately, no one read my Napoleon Dynamite running tips blog with my Napoleon Dynamite illustrations and impersonations.
If you could meet any 3 famous people, living or dead, who would you choose?
John F. Kennedy (perhaps partying with Marilyn,) Abraham Lincoln, and aforementioned Kara Goucher.
Do you have a bad habit you want to break?
I have a sweet tooth that messes with my marathon diet, and I'm too critical of myself.  I rarely feel satisfied after a race.

And, the 11 bloggers I'd like to nominate are:

Predawn Runner
Joe Still Runs for Dom
Caution: Redhead Running
Discombobulated Running
Voices in my Head
From Ice Cream to Marathon
Melissa Running It
Medal Slut
One Tough Mother Runner
Blisters and Black Toe Nails
Auto Pilot Legs

And the eleven questions I have for the above bloggers;

1)  What's the one thing that people would be most surprised to learn about you that has nothing to do with running (riding, or biking?)
2)  What's the best race you ever ran and why?
3)  What's the furthest you've travelled to participate in a race?
4)  Who were you most happy to see as a spectator in a race?
5)  Do you think you've had your best race yet?
6)  What's your favorite indulgence after a race or long run?
7)  What song would you be most embarrassed about if others found it's on your ipod?
8)  What's your favorite shoe or shoe brand?
9)  What's your most embarrassing run moment?
10) When did you start running?
11) What's your perfect Saturday night?

Thanks again to Sugar Magnolia (aka Grateful Mama) and her dog "Padfoot" for the Liebster.  Pass the gift along.

Author's footnote:  I tried to stick to "up and coming blogs, but Sugar stole some of my list so there's a couple in there that are established, but I still consider them worthy of a "Liebster."

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I Want to be Like Abebe

Two guys walk into a bar...or...a runner gets in a car with an Ethiopian...

This post starts off sounding like a cliche joke, but it's an odd chance encounter with another runner with a historic twist.  I occasionally use a town car "to and from" the airport, and got to know a really good independent driver named "Husen."  On my latest trip back into Denver, I got into a conversation about what we were both doing for the weekend and where my upcoming trips were taking me to.  Inevitably, the conversation turned to running and that I was training for the Boston Marathon.

Husen as it turns out is from Ethiopia and is a distance runner.  He didn't have to tell me about his home country's dominance in marathon running as it seems that Kenya and Ethiopia constantly vie for the world's best.  Having a captive audience for the 50 minute drive, I was quite enthralled with what he had to say, or perhaps hoping some Ethiopian run mojo would rub off on me.

Husen grew up and trained in Ethiopia and neighboring Djibouti.  Husen no longer runs but plays soccer on Sunday nights.  I was perplexed by an Ethiopian that chose not to run...more on that later.  He explained that running is "THE" country's sports passion inspired by a runner named Abebe Bikila.  Abebe was a "late add" to the  Ethiopian Olympic team in the 1960 Rome Olympics--replacing another runner who had broke his ankle in a soccer match.

Adidas was the shoe sponsor at those Olympics and perhaps due to the late change, he couldn't find a pair that fit comfortably, so he ran barefoot.  While running barefoot, Abebe was looking for his main rival wearing number 26.  What he didn't know is that Wami Biratu (#26) had switched to number 185 right before the race and unbeknownst to Abede, he ran alongside Wami starting at the 20km mark while Abebe tried to catch a runner wearing number 26.  He never caught 26, but he outran number 185 (Wami) and won the Gold medal.  Abebe went on to win Gold again in Tokyo four years later.

In Ethiopia, kids didn't "want to be like Mike," they wanted to be like Abebe.  A national legend.

Back to my driver; Husen,was inspired by Abebe and took up the sport in his youth.  I was careful not to offend him with my questions, but was curious about several stereotypes.

SBM:  "Is it true that you ran everywhere...(which would explain some genetic or cultural advantage.?)"
H:  "Yes, "I would run home from school every day."
SBM: "How far was that in miles or kilometers?"
H:  "I don't know, not that far, but I ran every day."

He went on to clarify what was "not very far" and I was surprised to learn it was less than a 5K (3.2 miles.)  I was a bit disappointed thinking he had to run 10-20 miles to get wherever he had to go.  Not exactly the case.  Nevertheless, he described a culture where the youth ran everywhere vs. my neighborhood where the SUV's line up around the block to pick up the kids from school.  Due to the barefoot folklore of Abebe, many ran barefoot, but not everyone ran barefoot, including Husen.  Another stereotype broken.

SBM:  "What was your PR in a marathon?"
H:  "I didn't normally run marathons.  I ran shorter distances."
SBM:  "Did you run 20 kilometers?" (I was smart enough to know he probably spoke in kilometers, not miles.) "What's your half marathon PR?"
H: "I don't know.  We didn't normally time races, but would know who came in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd."

Husen went on to explain that his country was very similar in geography to Colorado.  For some reason, I thought it was flat, but it actually boasts a "fourteener" which also gives his country a training advantage (akin to training in Boulder, Colorado.)  The other advantage was year-round good running weather vs. the snow he's now used to driving around in Denver.

The conversation took a role reversal as Husen asked me about running and training in Colorado with sometimes brutal temperatures and running in  snow.  I explained that I sometimes "wimp out" and take it indoors, but otherwise have figured out how to dress in even the coldest weather and I know what to wear typically based on the projected temperatures (see Sore Nipple Calculator.)  It seemed a bit hard for him to fathom running in our recent cold weather (single digits the last few days.)

Husen was curious about how many days I would run a week and was surprised to hear me say 5-6.  I was surprised that he was surprised.  I was explaining running (in Colorado) to an Ethiopian. #irony  (Please read my disclaimer that I'm not a running coach, Dr., physical therapist, or the like.)  The only advice I gave Husen is that he should start running again as it's been years since he's run.  As we parted, he seemed excited to be talking about running and the notion of running again.  He promised to talk more about running the next time we meet.  Twist my talk about running.  I hope he starts it up again and I hope to hear more about Abebe.

Author's Footnote:  The most most obscure fact I turned up on Abebe was that footage of his Tokyo Olympic Gold medal run was featured in one of my favorite classic movies, Marathon Man (starring Dustin Hoffman in 1976.)  The vignette (similar to the one shown above of Abebe) was obscure in the film and of course I had no idea who the runner was or what race it was when I saw the film as a child.  I was not a runner when I first saw the film and it would be thirty years later before I'd run my first marathon.

And this...many a broadcaster and journalist ended their careers by insinuating that different races or cultures have some racial or genetic advantage.  It's ridiculous to ignore the fact that certain countries dominate the sport of marathon running and not wonder what it is they do differently that makes them so superior.  I'm not a fact my family tree looks like the United Nations with Black, Korean, Mexican, Native American, and a couple stubborn Germans in there.  If you think I've offended my sponsors, you're incorrect because I have none other than Chico's Bail Bonds.  If you are offended, comment away, or talk to my boss (me.)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

No Doubt?

By all counts, 2012 was a success for SeekingBostonMarathon.  I "punched my card" again for Baaahsten by qualifying and surviving the registration lottery gauntlet.  I only ran one marathon in 2012 (Qualifying at the Colorado Marathon,) I ended my run season with a respectable showing at the Denver Rock and Roll Half Marathon with a 1:36 time (a course record for me.)  Not bad considering I'd spent only a third of my time on running for five months after Colorado.  Like last summer, I spent the Spring and Summer trying to learn this triathlon game.  I was pleased with my triathlon season as I hit the podium in three out of four races and notched my first "First Place" at the Denver Triathlon.  I was duly warned that should I try one (or TRI one,) triathlon I'd be hooked.  So true.  I now have two addictions (marathon running and triathlons) that I can put in print.

In other words, I left October oozing with confidence, but November and December were marked with sporadic training (with little running) due to my "off season" and health issues.  The later was nothing major other than a six week sinus infection battle and leg pain that lead to an MRI.  Good news is both seem to be behind me with a green light from the ortho to train for Boston (see "Bone Up" post.)  Only problem once I got the Doc's clearance?  I had little base in terms of running mileage and I'd started three weeks late based on my typical 18 week training plan.  Starting late, no coach, no plan, no problem...right?

Au contraire monsieur.

While I've eased into my mileage, I'm in the thick of training.  Nothing has been too daunting until this morning.  My plan called for six miles of 10K pace.  Double whammy.  While I shouldn't expect too much considering the above, a number of thoughts and let's call them "doubts" entered my mind.  My brain was trying to overcome my tired and untrained body and several sound bites passed through my head.

"Virgin territory."
"Just like riding a bike."
"I'm in way over my head."
"We're gonna need a bigger boat."

A SBM sticker for the reader that can name the movie from the last quote, but it's similar to the one above it.  I thought, this is only a six mile run and I'm in week four (or was it weak two) of my training plan, and this run is kicking my ass. #arghh

Granted, this wasn't perhaps my smartest move, by picking the route I did, but travel plans in the afternoon meant running something close to home for the early morning run.  Nothing is flat where I live, and I picked probably the second hilliest route I run.  No pain, no gain, right?  I completed the run with respectable numbers as I stuck to the 10K pace part with 456 feet of climb and an average overall pace of 7:37.  Deceiving time as I treated them as 1/2 and mile intervals.  As one of my run club coaches often told us, no one gets a medal for a training run.  No medal for me, but it certainly tested my mettle.

In my first marathon, I didn't know any better when I trained.  I was hurt, sore, tired, but didn't know what to compare it to.  That all seemed to get better with each marathon I trained for.  At least I knew what to expect and my body over time became accustomed to the rigors of being a marathon runner.

That all seemed to "go out the window" as I've felt as if neither my body nor my brain is prepared to take on Boston with all the above against me.  What I have learned is that running is a numbers game, and that if you put in the work, you should see improvement.  Also, for every ugly run you hate, there's usually one you love right around the corner.  Hoping my old bones can get me around that corner.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Bone Up

Since suffering a deep bruise on my lower left leg at the Denver Triathlon this last June, I have had nagging pain in the same area as my previous stress fracture.  It's hard to write those words, "STRESS FRACTURE."  Worse than DNF those words were hard to mutter even amongst my family.
My first infraction which I ran Chicago on in '08

I went to my running physical therapist right before the holidays who'd treated the leg and many other "left side of my body" injuries before.  Perhaps in denial, I used words like tendon and muscle to describe the pain.  As Heather prodded the area and I acknowledged the source of the pain, she said, "that's your bone." I had already had my ortho look at the leg back in June and he didn't think it was a fracture, but only an MRI could tell for sure.  After consulting options with my PT, I wanted to eliminate the worst and scheduled an MRI the Friday after Christmas.  Merry F'ing Christmas Tiny Tim.

Doing the calendar math, I was supposed to have already begun training for this April's Boston Marathon the end of December.  Erring on the side of caution, I took two weeks off to rest the leg awaiting the MRI and results.  I also figured that I still might be able to train for Boston even if I had to take 4-6 weeks off without running.  Crap...hard to write those words too. "Without running."
Denver TRI battle bruise

Two weeks and three days after my last run, the good Dr. called me early this morning with good news.  No stress fracture and once again, I have been cleared to run.  I've wondered over the last six months if this is "all in my head," psychosomatic, and I'm some kind of hypochodriac.  I didn't take time off entirely the last two weeks as I continued to swim and focus on core strength building. My leg did start to feel better yet I could feel slight "pangs" as I'd push off the wall at the pool.  The diagnosis from my ortho was merely "shin splints."  I felt like I'd gone into my normal Dr. with signs of chest pains fearing for the worst and he gave me an antacid tablet and told me to quit being such a wimp.

Regardless, I didn't want to embark on 500 miles of training on a broken leg so the story ends well, or should I say it's starting that way.  I rewarded myself with the good news by going out for a mere four mile run.  Nothing special, but I was happy that a slightly sub eight minute mile pace seemed effortless hovering in my Zone 1-2 heart rate (below 142.)
Worst self-portrait ever, but most rewarding pic
Day 1 of Boston Marathon Training.

Four down, a mere 496 to go.  Boston here I come.  SeekingBostonMarathon has been cleared for take-off.

About Me

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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