Friday, February 28, 2014

By the Numbers: Pushing Fifty

A few numbers to consider as we sit one day away from fifty days to the 2014 Boston Marathon.

One:  Number of rest days I've had in the last twenty three days.  That number will grow to two today.  I"m tired and need a rest day thank you.




1 in 6:  Number of podiums in my first six years of racing.

187:  Number of miles I've logged in the last twenty three days.  Did I mention I was tired?

1,661,200:  Inches in a marathon.

Seven:  Number of intact, healthy toenails.  Pretty good number at this stage.  #notafootmodelcandidate

147,458:  Number of page views for SeekingBostonMarathon.com.  Thanks to you, that number just went up to 147,459.

0 for 7:  Friend (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook Fan Page) accept-to-request ratio for Kara Goucher.  She's apparently quite busy since she started training in Boulder again.

Three:  Number of Boston Marathons I've run.  April 2014 will be number four.

1 for 1:  Ratio of friend request to acceptance ratio with Bart Yasso.  He's apparently much more approachable than Kara.

9 for 11:  Number of podiums in the last year since I hired a running coach. The two podiums I did not capture were the Boston Marathon and Columbus Marathon.  I'm okay with that.  Thank you coach Benita!
Day 49 of #100daystoBoston

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Three Things I'm Excited About: Bling, Selfie Gadget, and Boston

This post started as "Four things I'm Excited About" as the weather was spring-like on Monday in Denver.  I should not have posted my excitement on Facebook because the temps proceeded to drop 30 degrees and delivered snow on Tuesday...so this is my "Three Things I'm Excited About."

Bling

I sat down with my run coach earlier last week, I realized that between now and the Boston Marathon the race opportunities are narrowing down, and we both agreed it would be good to get some race adrenaline going.  Jumping off the calendar was a "home-court advantage" race at the Winter Distance Series at nearby Hudson Gardens in Littleton, Colorado.  Fast and flat...just like my Jr. High School girlfriend, so I figured "sign me up!"  I have run a few of them before, and it is fun to run into (no pun intended) many running friends. Being ten minutes from my home was a bonus.  They offered a five and ten mile race and I opted for the five.

A few of my run club friends had also signed up for the races which was fun to warm-up and race with people I'd been training with.  The "Snowman Stampede" did not live up to it's billing since the weather was spring-like for the five miler with little wind...it picked up a bit for the later ten miler.  A real snow man would have melted, but no one was complaining.
Cooldown after Snowman Stampede Five Miler

Prior to the race, I spotted my age group rival. Shit.  My training has gone well, but this dude continues to smoke me.  He looks like when he's not running, he's pumping iron.  Regardless, I figured, I would do my best to push him and myself.

I did not beat "King Leondidas" as he's rumored to be nicknamed "the guy from 300."  I'm up to maybe the "guy from 80" and notched my second 2nd place age group award of the year.  I pushed myself, but didn't overdo it as I have a much bigger race ahead.  I could not have beat him this day, but that is what drives me. It's always a good day when you pick up some hardware.

Selfie Upgrade

I have joked before about the "Seeking Boston Marathon" photography staff.  There is none.  There's also the notion that 2013 was the year of the "Selfie." The opposite opinion is that we have become waaaay too self-absorbed and should resist the urge to use the phone screen's camera and extend our arms to snap pictures of ourselves.  Double the penalty if you do the "duck face."  I don't do duck.  Being a blogger, it's impossible to give up the selfie.  As one of my Valentine's gifts this year I got a Muku Shuttr remote control which happens to be the  #coolestgiftever
Muku shot on my long run this weekend

What you say is a Muku?  Simple enough, it's a bluetooth-controlled remote control for your Android (I'm the anti-establishment) or iPhone camera phone.  It comes with a plastic arm that plugs into your earphone jack which sets up a tripod effect.  Set it on the ground, bench, or bedroom dresser and you "click away" with a device that's about the size of a thumb drive but much slimmer.

In other words, I can now take pictures of me running instead of standing around afterwards dripping in sweat.  Best part is that with a phone like the Samsung Galaxy S4, it takes INSANE pictures assuming you are holding the phone steady.  Problem solved with the handy tripod.  I snapped a couple pictures after my race and absolutely LOVE it!

#100DaystoBoston

Every time I start a marathon training plan, it looks ominous.  Sixteen weeks and over five hundred miles and I haven't even started.  As each run, day, week, and month goes by the adrenaline builds.  I started my one-man hashtag pilgrimage to the Boston Marathon with #100DaystoBoston.  As I've shown here, I created a 100 square matrix and planned to post each day's workouts for the one hundred days leading up to the race.  Dumb idea as that's a lot of photos and photoshop.  I am hoping that runners training for Boston are enjoying my journey along with those that are not running Boston.  Early on, the matrix looked pretty flippin' empty.  It has served as a good source of motivation to have to post each day and now see that I'm approaching the halfway point.  #bringiton

Catch my #100DaystoBoston on my Facebook Page, Instagram, and Twitter.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall

It's funny how intimidating an empty marathon training plan can look.  One hundred days away from the upcoming Boston Marathon, I committed to chronicling each day in pictures leading up to the race.  I literally build a giant square comprised of a 10 x 10 matrix which is roughly 100 squares (math joke.)  I tweeted last night the question, "is it really a hashtag if you're the only one using the hashtag, and how much wood does a woodchuck chuck?" #100daystoBoston


I have posted daily to my Instagram, twitter and Facebook feeds.  Yet another way to hold myself accountable to each day's and each week's training plan.  The squares filled slowly at first, but Wednesday marks 60 days from Boston.  Courtesy of Flipagram, the above video shows how things looked over the first forty days which included trips to; Boston, California, New York City, Mexico City, and a half marathon tune-up.

For some reason, I've got the song "100 bottles of beer on the wall" song stuck in my head.  The starting chart and forty days in are shown below.  Will be getting excited when I hit the sixty to seventy day mark.  For now, "it's the eye on the prize."  Enjoy the journey...



Friday, February 14, 2014

You're So Vain, You Probably Think This Blog is About You

(UPDATED) When I was trying to get my first job out of college, I took a personality test...sort of a Myers Briggs test that would determine if I was "fit" for a job in sales at their company.  Some of the questions, I could "see right through" as to the correct answer.  "Would you like to be seen on the cover of your local paper?"  #duh

My blog is often thought provoking (meaning it pisses people off, or makes them laugh...hopefully, the later.)  My disclaimer is that I started running for health and sanity purposes, and still believe that a large part of what I do with running and triathlons is because it makes me feel good.  It also makes me feel good to look in the mirror and see results of my hard work.  Runners come in all shapes and sizes and run for different reasons.

I admit, that I enjoy when I have a strong race, set a PR, or place in the race.  Call me vane, but I get a rush out of that.  I also enjoy that my body is in the best shape of my life at age 51 because of running.  Go ahead and call me a narcissist.  This brings me to the Runner's World #keepingitreal campaign

I initially did not know what prompted the campaign, but dug deeper into the story. The campaign was actually prompted by (professional runner and Oiselle model) Lauren Fleshman's blog post that went viral.  She had done a runway photo shoot which showed her "ripped" body, but she began to regret the pictures as she felt it didn't necessarily show her true self.  In her post, she shared pictures from earlier that week that showed a slight pooch tummy.

She compared to the Lady Gaga Glamour magazine cover shot.  There was a similar story with Lena Dunham with her Vogue cover shoot.

Ironically, while I'm a runner with a runner's body (translation; skinny by some definitions,) I lean towards an appreciation of the "Rubenesque" woman, but the point is that it doesn't matter what I think or what society thinks.

There's nothing wrong with any body type unless you are overly influenced by culture or trying to portray a body image that pleases someone other than yourself first.

Getting back to the promotion, Runner's World encourages you to post a body photo (good or bad by society's standards) and "Keep it Real."  I picked a race photo from this last summer at the Slacker Half Marathon.  It might arguably be the best race of my life ten plus years into my running career.  While at my age, I should be getting slower, I have the opinion that I haven't quite hit my stride yet and I'm in the best shape of my life.

Was I flattered by the "so strong, great pic" response from Lauren Fleshman of Runner's World? Yes. Vain?  Perhaps.  To keep it real, I have also posted my belly shot.  I don't have "six-pack abs" and not sure that I need to or can for that matter.  They're more like two quarts.  My son pokes my belly like I'm some kind of dough boy.  Am I okay with that?  Not always, but as they say, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" and that "beauty is only skin deep."  #keepingitreal

Enter the slideshow promotion from Runner's World HERE.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Seagull That Ate the Cigarette Butt

This was supposed to be another "where in the world is Seeking Boston Marathon" classic.  I've never seen a California redwood, and I still haven't.  I'll try and make this short.

Business travel took me again to California's Bay Area, but to an area I'd never stayed in before; Scotts Valley, California.  My least favorite day to travel is Sunday, but meetings started first thing Monday morning so I plotted a game plan to get there and still accomplish the long run scheduled for the day.  I had two options; 1) run in the cold front that was moving into Colorado and fly out in the evening, or 2) "bite the bullet" and leave early Sunday to get in early in the afternoon to run in the Henry Cowell's Redwood State Park.  Not much of a decision.  I opted "early."

I won't bore you with all the details, but my flight left nearly three hours late from Denver.  At this point, I'm literally doing the math to figure out if i could at least run to the park entrance and back to the hotel before dark.  That was possible as I took off after three San Francisco weather delays.  When I landed, I consulted my transport pick-up instructions which said proceed to Terminal 3 courtyard.  I resisted the man urge to find on my own and stopped at the information desk at the airport.  An Abbott and Costello "Who's on First" dialogue ensued.
Right before he ate the cigarette butt

"Where's the Terminal courtyard?" I asked.
"Which one?" she replied.
 "Terminal Three."
"You're in terminal three, courtyard three or courtyard four?"

I check again...no mention of terminal three, courtyard three or four.  I call the company and find out I'm to head to courtyard four.  It's now 3:20 in the afternoon.  Tick...tick...tick...  I had just missed the shuttle I was supposed to be on, but there's one at 4 o'clock.  Smells like 4:20 at best as there are 7-8 people from Canada, Virginia, Mexico, and India that are joining my ride.  As I sit in the rain waiting for the van, I realize I should be running through the redwoods at this point.  I spot a seagull walking across the asphalt...in courtyard number four of terminal three.  He pecks away at food that seems invisible, then plucks a cigarette butt and gobbles it down.  Such beautiful imagery.

Two hours later, we have the Indians, the Canadians, and the Virginian.  No Mexican in site.  I call him and he says he's at Terminal A.  "International?"  "Yes."  We drive over to the International Terminal and I tell him to meet us outside door number four.  He's nowhere to be found.  I'm getting frustrated at this point..."quatro, quatro!"  "What airport are you at?" he asks.  We are driving around the San Francisco airport, and he's at the San Jose Airport.  "Catch a cab," I tell him.

The driver has no address for the hotel, so I play navigator for the hour drive in the rain.  It's dark by the time we finally get there, but it looks like a nice hotel which normally translates to good treadmills.  Check-in takes 20 more minutes than it should as they don't have my reservation.  As I wait for them to find me a room, I notice a sign on the check-in desk. "Gym is under construction starting February 9th through the 28th.  Exercise equipment has been moved to the Oak Room."  This can't be good.

After I get my room key, I stop on three to check out the Oak room.  It's completely dark in there, but there are two of the Indians working out on the ellipticals (without power) in the dark.  Maintenance is on the way.  They arrive and "Abbott and Costello" Part II ensues.  "You can run two of the three treadmills and we'll have to unplug the elliptical." Power resumes and it looks like I'm finally get my fourteen in.  Fine.  I run to my room, get on my run gear, make my Generation UCAN drink and head back to the Oak Room.  It's dark again, and the Indians are doing sit ups in the dark.  I head to the front desk to look for a manager...I'm not sure what I'm asking for.

I explain that there will be forty sales guys descending on the Oak Room in the morning to work out with a room with enough power to run a desk lamp.  I explain that I'm training for a marathon and need to find a treadmill.  The closest gym closes in ten minutes.  It's almost seven PM.  The event manager takes pity on me and is willing to drive me to a 24 Hr Fitness 15 minutes away.

I get there and get in my fourteen miles.  No redwoods, but at least the Olympics are on t.v.  I apologize ten times on the return car ride to the hotel because I have cartoon type sweat happening in this poor woman's car.  At least I had the foresight to suggest she brought towels so I don't ruin her fabric car seats.  I've never worked so hard for fourteen miles in my life.  Tomorrow's forecast?  Sixteen hour work day and no redwoods.  Crap.

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Last Time I Saw my Dad in His Underwear

Arriving NYC in Style
The last time I saw my dad in his underwear was in a dressing room at JC Penneys.  I was in grade school and he was there to help me buy some "back-to-school" clothes.  As I was trying on pants, I was awkwardly dragging the pant legs on the dressing room floor.  The only way he could correct this was to show me how to properly take off and put on a pair of slacks without picking up whatever was on the floor.  This was likely very important for someone who grew up on a tobacco farm that didn't have but one pair of fancy pants.  This is one of those father-to-son lessons that I still deploy...especially, if I'm changing in bathroom stall at an airport.  Trust me, you don't want your pants mopping up an airport bathroom floor.

I was fortunate enough to draw the "long straw" among all my family members to accompany my dad to the Super Bowl this last week in New York City.  As I wrote in my Bronco's memories blog, my family is fanatic when it comes to Broncos.  I won't talk about the game itself or the disappointment here...I'm still in therapy and that part is still too painful.  What I didn't want is for the loss to tarnish the image of getting to see my dad in his underwear again.  Nothing improper here other than an awkward metaphor and that I'd be sharing a hotel room for four days with my dad.

What I started to realize when we left for New York City was that I'd never gone on a trip with my dad...just the two of us.  The Broncos "foot the bill" for tickets, airfare, and hotel so the least I could do was return the favor to my dad by making the time in the "Big Apple" special.

Before leaving Denver, we dined at Elway's at Denver International Airport.  It seemed only fitting.  He was dressed "head-to-toe" in Broncos orange and blue as he was throughout the trip.  I'm used to travel as I've flown over 100,000 miles the last two years so I know my way around an airport and hotel.  The charter flight itself was awesome. We spent four days as part of the "Broncos Family" with first class treatment.  On our flight were former Broncos including Rod Smith and current injured players that didn't fly out earlier in the week including Von Miller, Derek Wolfe, and Chris Harris.  I tried to act cool and resisted the temptation to ask for an autograph.  My dad on the other hand knows how to "work a room."

Denver's Mayor Hancock was on the flight and my dad made a point to shake his hand and introduce himself even though I know he didn't vote for him.  This was one of the many things I'd tease him about that week to get a laugh and he always did (laugh.)  I also became my Dad's "handler" that week getting him to and from places, making sure I wasn't wearing him out, or going beyond a velvet rope he wasn't supposed to.  I blinked and couldn't catch him before he asked the Bronco's Chris Harris for his phone number so he could send him the send-off Broncos video his (oldest) son made.  One of many people my dad asked for phone numbers so he could send the video.  We had a lot of laughs over that, and his wife finally told him to stop calling home and asking him to forward the video to any more people.

Getting off the flight was down the stairs onto the tarmac with the buses nearby that would take us straight to the Marriott near Wall Street in New York City.  There was no papparazi, but it felt like their should be.  Dad and son were walking like Broncos royalty.  The rest of day one was waiting for luggage, checking in, and me getting in a quick run.  We ended the night with a light dinner since we were still full from the endless stream of chips, candy bars, and Haagen Dazs on the charter flight.

As my dad sat there at the hotel bar dressed in Broncos gear a woman and her husband struck up a conversation.  She had more than a few glasses of white wine, and asked my dad, "where are you from?"  My dad, her husband, and I all burst out laughing.."where do you think?"  Her husband took some immediate wrath as she explained she meant "what part of Denver are you from?"  Another "inside joke" that we'd throw around throughout the trip.

For our free time during the day in the city, I wanted to show my dad some iconic parts of New York.  We caught the 9/11 Memorial and Times Square which was a complete "mad house" with the game's festivities.  We also played "tourist" and went to the top of the Empire State Building which had some absolutely breathtaking views of Manhattan.  With my brother's suggestion, we also stopped into Grand Central Station which was also pretty amazing.  As a movie buff, the images made it feel as if we were in a movie and once again caught some great photos.

With the Broncos VIP treatment, we had tickets to the invite-only "Broncos Bash" on Friday night at the 40/40 club.  We missed the Broncos bus from the hotel and the door man offered a white stretch limo out front.  When will my dad ever ride in Manhattan in a limo again I thought.  We splurged and rolled up in style to the party as my dad recalled business trips in DC where someone got out of hand and stood up in the limo's moonroof.  He didn't say if he was "that guy" but he could have been.

Our names were not on the list, but we had the VIP bracelets and both talked our way into the party.  The best part of that night was meeting some of my Dad's neighbors who are part of the youth movement that's moved into my Dad's older Bonnie Brae area in Denver.  They all raved about "Tom" and joked that he was quite the charmer around the ladies.

He was in "rare form" as he once again worked the room, got his picture with Hall of Famer, Floyd Little, and with a couple cheerleaders in the photo booth.  We all joked that he had improper placement of hands on the cheerleaders.  John Elway was nearby holding "center court" at the party exuding confidence before the "big game."  There were local car dealer owners, and lawyers you recognized from T.V. ads.  My dad and I both socialized throughout the room as I guess it's true that the "apple does not fall far from the tree."  We were able to leave after some woman who had too much to drink told me I looked like Kevin Bacon, but was much better looking.  With dad and son both getting compliments, we were ready to head home to call our wives.

The last night before the game, we (I) was tired from all the running around New York and opted to have dinner next door at Morton's Steakhouse.  We dined in the bar off their "happy hour" menu as player families filed in and out.  My dad asked the bartender for a "good glass of red wine."  I interceded the process and steered to a good glass...I'm not sure he realized that a "good glass" at Morton's could cost $40 in New York City.  We laughed some more and enjoyed the filet medallions and steak tacos.  Over the weekend, we became good roommates and yes, I got to see my dad in his underwear again and learned that he likes to sleep with the thermostat set to 60 degrees. #longunderwear weather for me.

I got my run in over the Brooklyn Bridge as I've always wanted to do on the upper wood planked section, but as one of my running friends quiped back home, it's funner to run below (via the New York City Marathon.)

The day of the game was a blast as I was hoping to witness my dad see his team finally win a Super Bowl in person.  He went to the Giants game in Pasadena for Super Bowl XXI to see Phil Simm's Giants beat Elway.  Having watched 100's of games, I wanted it for him, but it was just not meant to be.  After the national anthem and helicopter flyover, the next few hours were miserable. Texts with family back home went from jubiliation, to #WTF, to depression.  We have some hard-core Broncos fans in this family.  The few days after still ached for the whole family, but I'm not sure I'd change a thing since I got a trip of a lifetime out of it...other than to give my dad the gift of seeing a Broncos' Super Bowl victory.  Next year.

Footnote:  A special thanks to the Denver Broncos organization and all the folks from the Guest Relations that treated us with this trip and treat my dad like he is Broncos royalty.

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