Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Twerk 2013: Seeking Boston Marathon Year in Review

I was sitting at the DMV this afternoon with my son.  Apparently, I was not the only one with the bright idea of getting his son or daughter their license this day as the line was an hour long.  The unseasonably warm sun was out.  A man with a leather face with a hue of alcohol purple was a few feet away sucking on one of his last three cigarettes.  I know he had three as the young woman who tried to "bum one" off him was rebuffed..."I only have a few left," he replied.

The Kool-Aid dyed hair twins (one purple and the other fuschia) were puffing on their "cool" cigarettes to my left adorned in their tight leather.  Apparently, sporting cleavage is something that's required to go to the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles.)  With all that time on our hands, and after periods of quiet, my son asked, "Dad, what are your goals for 2014?" I thought for a moment and part of my response obviously touched on what athletic goals I had for 2014.  It seemed like an odd juxtaposition being surrounded by people more intent on killing themselves with nicotine versus setting their race goals for 2014.  I told Jesse that I had goals around work, being more calm and balanced as a parent, and that I had unfinished business in my run and triathlon world.

It's hard to look ahead without looking back.  With that, the 2013 Seeking Boston Marathon "Year in Review."  Outside the world of running, Walter White's run as "Heisenberg" came to an end.  I'm still trying to process the twerking Miley Cyrus, and Paula Dean and the Duck Dynasty dude came out as racists.  None of this came as much of a surprise, but I had a few nice surprises of my own this year.

It's all about Boston

My blog is all about drinking from the chalice of the Boston Marathon.  I had a wide range of emotions as many did having run the marathon this year.  Leading up to the marathon, I had a 30 day photo challenge with three other bloggers which lead to even greater anticipation of running the race.  I started Marathon week by interviewing Josh Cox.  It was one of the finest perks I've enjoyed as a blogger and got some great shots on Boylston during the interview and morning run with Josh.
Pre-run chat with Josh Cox on Boylston Avenue in Boston

The race itself was the best marathon I'd ever run without ever hitting the wall and actually having energy at mile 20.  It wasn't a PR day, but it was a personal course record for me.  My race write-up is HERE.  I didn't know it at the time, but my BQ that day wound up serving as the time that would get me into the 2014 race.  Yes, I will be there!

Funny Bone

I try my best to sometimes show the lighter side of running.  Sometimes I make myself laugh, and hopefully get some of the SBM readers to share a smile once in awhile.  A couple of my favorites include my spoof on the ATT "It's Not Complicated Commercial," "More is Better."

The award for Best Blog Post that no one read was my Star Wars Run Quotes.  Must have posted on the wrong day, there aren't as many runners who can quote Star Wars as I thought, or some just don't see the humor in Yoda having bleeding nipples.  I entertained myself, and came up with what I thought were my best illustrations of the year.  (Star Wars post HERE.)

Other favorites included Weinergate; Running Topless in Highlands Ranch, and lashing back at the Wall Street Journal idiot who railed on runners in "Wall Street Journal's Little Lord Farquaad."

I sunk to a new low this month in my "Twelve Days of Christmas" by adding puppetry and singing to my blog resume.  My sons were "creeped out" by "Larry the foul-mouthed unicorn's" low voice--I was in the middle of a cold during production.  The best part of the video is Larry doing the MGM lion's roar so you only have to watch the first seven seconds to catch the best part.

Road Show

It was a great work year which allowed me to run in some fantastic parts of the world.  Nevertheless, it presented some challenges as well to maintain marathon training while dealing with time change and jet lag.  Hard to pick a favorite, but running in Paris and London were probably at the top of my list.

Heavy Medal

This year I started working with a new coach, Benita Willis and the "Working Class Athletics" team out of Boulder.  As the name suggests, this is a "roll up the sleeves" mentality of runners intent on pushing their own personal limits.  Aside from the fact that I ran over 2200 miles this year (a new high,) I hit the podium in every run race and triathlon I competed in this year aside from the two major marathons.  The year also included a PR in the half marathon at the Slacker Half and a surprise 5K PR in November at the Highlands Ranch Turkey Day 5K.

Second Place AG and PR at the Slacker Half

So this takes me back to the conversation with my son sitting on the concrete wall in front of the DMV.  My goals this year included; qualify for New York, break 3:20 in a marathon, and improve my triathlon game.  Without having a triathlon coach, I can say I did that I accomplished this by coming in first in my age group in one race and four seconds behind first in my other.  I plan to compete again this summer sticking with Sprint distances.  My work schedule will likely include quite a bit of travel again which would make training for Ironman not happening in the 2014 plan.

On the New York Qualifying front, I came up 18 seconds short at the Slacker Half, but broke 1:30 for the first time in my race career.  I will try and shave those 18 seconds off at either Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half or again at Slacker.

As far as breaking 3:20, if projections of a half marathon time (of 1:29) are any indication, I should be able to break the time and mental barrier of 3:20 this year.  Not for a lack of trying.

Thanks for everyone that occasionally reads my running rants.  I will be back and writing about it starting tomorrow here, on Facebook, and Twitter.  What are your goals for 2014?  Would love to see them posted.  Putting it in writing puts it one step closer to happening.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Runner's Twelve Days of Christmas

My Christmas gift to all of my running friends, a video reprisal of my Twelve Days of Boston Blog.  Enjoy and Happy Holidays.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The End of Seeking Boston Marathon

This all started innocent enough with an email from Google stating that my blog domain, SeekingBostonMarathon.com was going to expire in January but (good news) I was signed up for automatic renewal. "Should you need to update your billing," or to "ensure uninteruppted service" follow these directions; TRANSLATION go down either the "rabbit's hole" or the "black hole."  I have a sense of humor, but I'm having a hard time finding the humor in this story.  Trust me, this is the "short version" of the story and it was starting to feel like looking up a word you don't know how to spell in the dictionary.

Bear in mind that this dates back to 2009 when I started my blog through Blogger.  Google bought Blogger in 2011 and somewhere between those two points, I "bought" my domain name and the prestigious (sarcasm) rights to SeekingBostonMarathon.com.

Fundamentally, the aforementioned email from Google tells me to simply log into my "Admin Console" to update billing on my domain.  Clicking on the links sent me a message that my google email is not authorized to log into the admin console and to log in as a different user.  What?  I couldn't ask Google Apps to send me my password since the email account I use for Google is apparently not the "Admin" for my blog.  Hmmm.  After several hundred other "clicks" I find the help page for Google Apps which gives me an actual phone number to call Google.

I'm thinking great, this is like having a phone number to the White House or IRS...is anyone going to actually answer the phone, or will I get stuck in automated phone purgatory...press 1 for this, press, 4 for that.  It didn't take long to get stuck in their non-human phone tree.  "Please enter your PIN," the phone robot requested.  If you don't have a PIN, log into your "Admin Console" to retrieve one.  Perfect!  Right back where I started.

After several hundred more page clicks on the Google site, I try logging in as bloggeradmin@seekingbostonmarathon.com, but of course, I don't know that password, or not sure I ever got one.  Another "suggestion" was to find out who hosts my site by typing my domain into WHOIS which would tell me for certain if they even hosted my site.  I then discovered that GoDaddy hosts the site.  I called GoDaddy and got a "live person" fairly quick.

Progress, I'm thinking until he asks me for my "PIN."  He quickly realizes I don't have one, but through some other authentication, we get logged into some kind of page.  "You should see a PIN at the top of the page," he tells me.  "Umm, no," I reply.  We both realize he has me logged into a DNS admin console of sorts, but nothing to do with the account and billing.  "Back to square one."  The GoDaddy dude was helpful and gave me my account number and a number to call Google where he assures me they will help with the account number I now own.

I call "Google," but it's actually GoDaddy again as they do the web-hosting for Google (or at least the Blogger orphans.)  We go through several minutes of what sounds like Abbott and Costello's "Who's on First" trying to dilineate if I'm talking to Google or GoDaddy, and once again land where I started.  He does however give me a new link to connect to try and retrieve my password from Google.


The link does not look promising.  I finish with the GoDaddy guy and ask if I can't log into my account, could I could please talk to the GoDaddy girl.  Yes, I'll patch you through...can I have your PIN number?  (I made up the last part.)  So, I'm once again, back at square one, but if you don't find these pages in January, you will know why.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Worst Race Pics Ever

This was a great year for me and Seeking Boston Marathon, but not everything is "picture perfect."  Case in point, is the latest set of pictures from my last 5K race; the Highlands Ranch Turkey Day 5K.  The only redeeming part of these photos is that they depicted a PR and that I didn't have to pay for them.  I'm normally a "sucker" for digital race pictures--insert narcissist blog comments below or on my Facebook page.

I "page clicked" through several hundred photos to find these classics.  I wasn't hard to find since I looked like I was dressed in a rejected outfit from Dancing With the Stars.  You may ask yourself, what was he thinking when he walked out the door wearing that get-up?  Cold weather played "mind games" with me as I settled for a long-sleeve white shirt, flourescent headband, and matching/clashing compression socks.  I'm sure other runners looked at me like, "where's the Jazzercise class?"

It wasn't even so much the gaudy run clothing choice, but the finish line pose (I was not posing.)  You be the judge.  Nothing special about these shots including the fact that they're largely out-of-focus, and I've got some classic "O face" action going on or I was trying to get a hair off my tongue.

Caption contest candidates include;

"I bit my tongue."

"Hey Jerry, look at my new socks!" (Cosmo Kramer.)

"Look!  I'm a thirsty dog!"

"Can you tell it's cold out?"
Here's the one that's going on the Christmas Photo mugs for the people I really don't care for.  #bellyshot  At least the kid behind me had a great photo finish in his boxer underwear.

Pre-race pic wasn't any better.  "dorkus maximus"

By comparison, and to redeem myself, two of my most favorite race photos were from 2013.

Last turn down Boylston in 2013 Boston Marathon
Love this shot as it looks like I'm flying.  Slacker Half Marathon PR in 1:29:18

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

This 5K Was No Turkey: Highlands Ranch Turkey Day 5K Recap

Perhaps I'm onto something.  Take a month off from seven days-a-week training, set little in terms of expectations and go out relaxed.  Earlier this year, I "swung for the fences" in my Slacker Half Marathon with a not-so-secret goal of qualifying for the New York City Marathon.  I finished with a 1:29:18.  Eighteen seconds short.  Eighteen lousy seconds.  Nevertheless, arguably the best race of the year for me.  My Turkey Day 5K was the sequel; "Ten Seconds."

As I mentioned above, my last marathon was on October 20th at the Columbus Marathon.  Not making excuses, but I was "just plain tired" that day and my coach and I both decided I needed a bit of a break.  I went three weeks with hardly any running and started turning up the training a bit in week four.  Looking at the race calendar, I wanted to race on Thanksgiving Day and perhaps one more short race to wrap up the year since I'd be starting my Boston Marathon training (as I typically do) in mid-December.

Feeling rested after the layoff, I was not on a formal training plan yet, but threw in two days a week with a bit of speed work with the Highlands Ranch Turkey Day (HRTD) 5K as my target race.  In the back of my mind, I was thinking aside from my major marathons this year, I was pitching a perfect game this year (my second baseball analogy in one post...hmmm.)

Perfect season in the sense that, I'd hit the podium in every race this year (minus the marathons.)  HRTD is known to bring out large crowds with families intent on getting a little exercise in before the holiday gluttony ensues.  This meant over 2000 runners with plenty of misplaced dads and moms with young kids near the start line.  Don't get me wrong, I love seeing little kids, dogs and strollers in a family-oriented race, but I just don't want a trampling incident near the start as it's also loaded with plenty of high school cross country runners running sub six.

Aside from the high-schoolers, Highlands Ranch is home to a lot of fast runners.  I "stepped up" the couple of tune-up tempo runs in the prior two weeks with this in mind.  I wanted to grab another age group award.

The morning of the race brought perfect weather.  Cool temps "messed with my head."  Long sleeve or short sleeve...or singlet with arm sleeves?  Shorts or race tights?  I went long sleeve and shorts, but wished I had a short sleeve as the temps warmed up near the race start.  The HRTD "hubs" out of Shea Stadium which is a short car ride from my home.  Only race faux pas, was that the stadium was locked and there was a mere five or six porto-potties for 2000 runners and fans--do the math.  After a short warm-up run, I threw in a few run drills and strides to get my heart rate up.  I also went for a "nature walk" as the line to the green phone booths were uber long.  A "bonus" for this race was running (no pun intended) into one of my long-time blogger friends in town for the holidays, Redhead Running.  Great to meet her and her husband Spike.

I had pinged my run coach a few days before the race and asked about race strategy.  She suggested the above warm-up and drills, but she told me to race for fun and not worry about my time.  As much as she knows me, she doesn't know me.  Not worry about time?  I was intent on having fun, but I didn't want my last race of the year to be a blemish on an otherwise great year.

Highlands Ranch is anything but flat.  As the race took off, I settled in behind the high school kids and did my best not to be a Garmin watcher.  The first portion of the race was downhill before winding through a neighborhood area with a bit of a climb.  We turned up a major parkway and I hit the halfway point and only water stop.  I pulled a Chevy Chase and the small cup of water hit everything but my mouth, or just enough to moisten my mouth for the second half.  The rest of the 5K was again a bit "up and down," and ended with an uphill climb.  I did my best to "eyeball" who I thought might be in my age group prior to the race and passed one last guy who I thought might be in my age group in the last 3/4 mile.

I didn't exactly relax at that point, but continued my "steady effort."  Once I crossed the finish line, I had the typical urge to hurl.  The cold air that felt great in the race felt "chunky" as I tried to cough it out.  After cheering on a few runners coming in, I went looking for my brother-in-law Marc and printed off my results.  I came in second in my age group with a 20:09...a mere ten seconds behind first and ten seconds away from "breaking" twenty minutes for the first time in a 5K.  A new 5K PR.

My half mile pace splits: 5:55, 6:39, 6:42, 6:42, 6:19, 6:21, and 5:59 on home stretch. #theoldguyhaswheels

I finished the morning with a giant smile, a couple of cold beers, chatting with some local run friends, and grabbing my second place hardware.  Yes, this 5K was no turkey.

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