Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Super Sunday

I started going to Broncos games at the age of nine years old with my Dad sitting in the old "Mile High Stadium's" "South Stands."  The South Stands were the equivalent of the original "Dog Pound" in Cleveland, but better.  I sat in the old high-school style bench seats without backs.  As the years wore on, the metallic
My Dad getting ready for a game in the '60's
seat numbers fell off and fans would pack in so tight, there was no room to move.  We had four seats.  Two in front and two in back.  We would joke about who had to sit in the "Joe Row."  Joe was an old curmudgeon who would bitch if anyone left during the game to go to the bathroom.  This happened often as this was the South Stands after all.  The rowdiest section with the most beer consumed and the most fights.  While I tried to behave when opposing teams would sit in our section, most were not so kind.

When I wasn't at the games, I watched all of them.  Vacations and weddings in my family took the Broncos schedule into consideration when planning.  There were lots of Broncos parties and when I graduated college, I started the "Pony Club" which round-robin'ed away game parties to my friends houses.  The first "Pony Club" was in 1986 which was the second time the Broncos went to the Super Bowl.  The first was in 1977 under coach Red Miller.  I Stabler's (Oakland before they moved to L.A. and back to Oakland) Raiders to advance to the Super Bowl to lose to the Dallas Cowboys.  somewhere in my crawlspace, there are Super Bowl buttons and a program from that year.  My sister Kim took my Dad to the New York Giants Super Bowl in Pasadena.  That was the second of four disappointing loses in a row at the Super Bowl as John Elway was getting the rap for not being able to win the big one.
Sitting in the old "South Stands"
remember being at the AFC Championship game that year when the Broncos beat Kenny

Before they moved to the new Sports Authority stadium, there were plenty of great memories.  The twins (Bill and Bob) who sat behind us had a little too much anti-freeze during the game and jumped up to celebrate a touchdown.  My brother and I caught Bill (or was it Bob) and while he lost his balance, he did not lose balance of the clear plastic cup holding his beer.  We would joke for years about saving his beer.  Joe's son would bring his son and his wife, then his second wife.  Joe's grand kids grew up to bring their wives.  When Shannon Sharpe arrived in Denver, he became known as "The Hulk."  My brother and I would often hang banners made from old bed sheets over the steel railing onto the South Stands wall.  I created an "Incredible Hulk" banner that hung from the South Stands until Wade Phillips (the then head coach) lost an embarrassing game to the Raiders.  We were so pissed, we left the banner behind.  I was then pissed that I left it behind and created a new one.  The second "Hulk" banner  hung in the South Stands for years.  We'd arrive early to get the best spot to hang it.

One year, Shannon had his best game as a Bronco catching three touchdown passes, all in the South Stands.  I recorded the game as I often did on VHS and watched and listened as Dick Enberg announced and said, "he's pounding the peacock" as Shannon went over the banner to tap the peacock with the ball he'd just caught the game-winning touchdown with.  It was my fifteen minutes of fame as a local beat reporter interviewed me after the game.  His name?  Adam Schefter of (eventual)ESPN fame.  Shannon's girlfriend got in touch with me and contracted me to create one for his home.  I didn't want to get paid, but suggested a signed ball or jersey and to watch a game from the sidelines.  I got two jerseys (I think she signed them) and didn't get to go on the field.  I didn't care as I did it for the love of the game.

There were a lot of other memories including Floyd Little's last home game, heckling Al Davis about chasing off Mike Shanahan, and the last game at Mile High where many of the fans tore up the South Stands orange fiberglass benches (there might be a chunk of it in my garage at home.)  My brother and I were both fortunate enough to attend Super Bowl XXXII.  We saw Elway do "the helicopter" and were a couple of the last people (including the Broncos "Leprecaun" to leave the San Diego Stadium parking lot that night.

One infamous previous year, it was snowing like crazy and we met up at the Village Inn pancake house around noon to meet for the game.  Everyone bailed on going to the game but me.  I was not going to let a few snowflakes get in the way of a football game.  I still joke with my siblings asking them if they are "pancake eaters" or Broncos fans.
We even took "away games" seriously in our house

We moved to "Club Level" in the new stadium and watched as Ed McCaffrey broke his leg the night before 9/11 against the Giants.  After a few years, we made the tough economic decision that $1,000 a game didn't make sense as kids' college educations took priorities. We gave away our priority number and our seats dating back to 1960.  Five years ago, my dad started working at Sports Authority working in Guest Relations.  I joke that he gets paid to flirt with the women in his section...the "apple does not fall far from the tree."  He's harmless in that regard, but loved by his wife, kids and the fans in his section.

Last Thursday night, I got a phone call from my dad asking "would you like to go to the Super Bowl?"  I thought he was joking, but he was not.  He couldn't stop crying as the Broncos drew one lucky name out of many that work Guest Relations and my dad had won two tickets, hotel, and airfare to the game.  I'm sure it was a tough decision to pick his seat mate for the game.  We have both been there for each other over the years, but perhaps he was just looking for someone that wouldn't opt for pancakes.

Tickets to the game.
Hotel in downtown New York City at the Marriott.
Pre-party and celebration (invite only) party.
Watching a Super Bowl with the Broncos in it?  Priceless.

Twist my arm.  No pancakes this weekend.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A Blue (and Orange) Ribbon Day

I ran a 15K (I odd distance) last year as the first race after the April 2013 Boston Marathon.  I made the fatal error of not completely researching what race I'd signed up for.  That race was in my home neighborhood and at the halfway point, made a descent up to the top of the Lone Tree bluffs.  When my run coach prescribes hills, it's the baddest of the bunch.  Great to build strength and character, but never what I'd call "fun."  Not having raced since November, I was itching to sign up for something with January about gone and selected the Prairie Dog Half Marathon in Louisville, Colorado.  This also happened to be Championship Sunday in the NFL, so I figured why not run a half and enjoy some afternoon beer and nachos watching my Denver Broncos.

Back to the concept of not knowing the course, as I signed up, I looked at the elevation and saw some climb starting around mile 3-7, but what typically goes up, must come down (I figured.)  At the time, it didn't seem like much.  A bit of a novel concept was the fact that they "hubbed" the start and finish in front of a gym which allowed for warm temps hanging out inside prior to the race.  I opted to take care of my last minute "business" at the nearby grocery store.  The half marathon sold out (they also had a 10K,) and I was looking for my age group competition prior to the race.  I didn't spot anyone I knew my age, and I tried to decipher if there were any grey beards congregating around the start of the race. Younger runners seemed to be up front (as usual) and I forgot about it and started to get in my "zone."  I was feeling pretty good with the start of my (2014 Boston) marathon training so despite my coaches advice to use this as a training run, I went after it like a race.  My current PR in a half is 1:29 and I went out (probably) a bit too fast with a sub seven minute per mile pace as I was thinking in my head of running a 1:30 or better.
My first actual podium

Overall, I liked the course early on as it started out in a residential area with a bit of a downhill pace before heading into downtown Louisville which you could miss if you blinked, or were running at a 6:46 pace.   The hills that looked so tiny in the elevation chart "took the wind out of my sails" and slowed me down quite a bit.  The energy I had in the early miles were not there,  somewhere around here, I spotted a guy who was likely in my age group.  He passed me on the hills, but I caught up to him afterwards.  As we headed back down, my pace picked up, but not to the pace I'd set earlier.  Just like a date in high school, I "peaked" too early.  At this point, I wanted a respectable finish and kept pushing myself.  As we got off the hills and concrete path trails and back into suburbia, we started to converge with the 10K racers which started a half hour later.  I passed a number of them, but confusion set in a bit as the previously well-marked course got a bit confusing.  I almost went straight when I should have turned and saw the volunteers send a woman (half marathoner) back as she'd missed a turn...I'd be pissed if I was her as she was one of the leaders.
Dad and Daughter Celebrating the Broncos Win!

My last mile was pretty weak, but I finished the last half mile with a "kick."  The best parts of the post-race was the burp which one woman thought came from her (female) friend.  "No, that was me."  She was impressed.  Even better was running (no pun intended) into an old (no pun intended) fraternity brother who I had not seen since college.  Steve Krebs became a bit of a legend locally almost winning the Colfax marathon twice if I recall correctly.  He coaches cross country at Green Mountain High School and was great to catch up and snap a picture for Facebook.  In order of "best parts" the best part of the post-race festivities was finding out that I'd placed second in my age group with a 1:32:06.  Better yet, was the wooden podium for the winner photos.  Yes...this was my first "podium" on a podium.

Okay, I lied...the best part was that I did enjoy those nachos and a few beers with my wife, daughter, and friends later that afternoon.  Even better was the fact the Broncos beat the Patriots to advance to the Super Bowl.  A day that was full of "bests" that kept getting better.  A blue ribbon day in the family for sure.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Nobody Puts Baby in the Corner But I Do

Nobody puts baby in the corner.

This week has once again swirled in controversy around "The Jacket."  Or a lot of flak around the jacket (badump badump.)  When I started this blog, the group I ran with had a number of (mainly women) who would wear their Boston Marathon jackets during a training run or post-run in the coffee shop.  I was "green with envy" over the typically blue and yellow Boston Marathon jacket.

The first Boston "Celebration" jacket I wore was the traditional blue and yellow in 2010.  Call me "shallow" (Hal,) but putting on that jacket felt like Tiger Woods putting on his "Masters" yellow jacket.  It's the only sport where mere mortals can try and qualify and race amongst the worlds greatest runners.  Last year's jacket went back to the traditional blue and yellow with some black trim.

The last "controversial" jacket was in 2011.  That was the green, silver, and black jacket year.  Good color combination, but a vendor snafu lead to a silk screened jacket vs. the traditional embroidery.  Not a big deal you say?  Yes, if you never intend to run in it, sweat in it, and wash it.  We all have race jackets with silkscreen that withers away after a finite number of washes.  Boston Marathon becomes "osto rat."

Which brings us to this year.  Like I did last year, I ordered my jacket for delivery to the house.  Not wanting to leave anything up to chance, I want a guarantee I'll get the jacket.  I'm not sure if the same individual that did the green and black "osto rat" jacket did this year's jacket, but they're not very popular in social media this week.  The knocks against the 2014 jacket start with the primary "Creamsicle" orange color scheme.  Many wanted a patriotic color scheme this year, but peyote intervened and we wound up with a novelty ice cream scheme...adding in an obnoxious light blue and white stripe across the back. #barf

I love Creamsicles (especially the orange ones,) but I can honestly say, it's not a color in my wardrobe for a reason.  It might work as a bridesmaid dress you'd only wear once or an 80's tube top, but not as a Boston Marathon jacket color.  Other knocks include the lack of a ventilation flap and that they removed the embroidered 26.2 from the back collar and replaced it with the "Boston Runs As One" unicorn logo.  I'm not sure why you need "26.2" on there anyway unless it's to eliminate a few of the non runner questions, "how long was that marathon?"  Nice touch with the "Runs as One" logo, but it's silk screened, and won't be there for very long unless you store away in the original plastic wrapping never intending to wear it.

Given all the above, I love the jacket.  Just like my other three, it will still serve as a symbol for hopefully running my fourth Boston Marathon.  I have enough (two) blue and yellow jackets so I didn't need a third.  I've met many runners who would (not literally) "kill" to have this year's jacket and what it means to qualify and run in the race.

For the purists out there, no, I have not tried the jacket on, I won't wear it the next couple months, and will not wear it around Boston the three days leading up to the race.  It is called a "celebration jacket" indicating that you actually completed the race.  For now, I have put my Creamsicle "baby in the corner."

As a footnote, I have nothing wrong with any of the runners wearing their 2013 jacket who did not get to finish the race last year due to the tragic events.  We all deserve to wear that one.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

100 Days to Boston

Hard to believe.  It's not 100 days to the Boston Marathon; it's actually 101.  Last year I did a blogger photo challenge for the thirty days leading up to Boston.  There still may be one in the works based on interest.  I had a lot of fun posting those to my social media outlets.

While I still may run the #photochallenge, I wanted to do something a bit different this year.  Aside from
logging all my runs into Training Peaks (for my coach,) and DailyMile, I thought it would interesting to post a kaleidoscope if you will of each training session for the 100 days leading up to Boston.  As if I'm not accountable enough already to myself and my coach, I am now accountable to the blogosphere.  For my non-running friends, this provides a Boston voyeur experience without all the aches, pains, weight loss, and blisters.

Hard to predict what each square will bring as far as actual.  There will be the occasional rest day (although there are few of those,) and some cross-training.  For the math majors in the audience, there are exactly 100 get the idea.

Put another way, instead of obsessing over Boston over 365 days, this boils it down to the real work leading up to race day.  That's not entirely true as I have a decent base of work heading into the 100 day countdown.  I'll post to most of my social media outlets; Instagram , Twitter, and Facebook starting on Friday, January 10, 2014.  Bring it on!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Things I Have and Have not Done

Today's blog is a guessing game.  Guess which one of these events is NOT true about yours truly.

1.    I've been skydiving.
2.    I went back stage at an "Air Supply" Concert and "rubbed elbows" with Chuck Norris and Priscilla Presley.
3.    I've worn a toga...several times..."commando" style.
4.    I pierced someone's ear once with a thumb tack and a potato.
5.    I snunk into a football game without a ticket under the presumed "will call" name of "Dale Hill."
6.    I once wore cod liver oil on my lip because I was told it would help grow a mustache, but it just grows acne.
7.    I have run 5:40 Yassos (half mile repeats.)
8.    I once changed a gas BBQ tank while the burgers were cooking so I wouldn't disrupt the "flow" of the party.  Not recommended as I nearly burned the house down.
9.    I can tie a cherry stem with my tongue.  It was my best "bar trick" and got me at least two dates.
10.  I received a personal massager as a gift to my wife...from my mom...last month.

I should have some kind of contest or giveaway as to the correct answer since apparently that's what bloggers do.  I don't do giveaways (nearly enough,) I don't have sponsors, and I've never been skydiving.  It was however my fastest ever Yasso day on Tuesday.  Apparently, it is possible to get faster in your old age, #bostonstrong

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