Saturday, November 29, 2008
Running 0 miles, Biking 0 miles.
That's right, nada. Bubkus. And it feels pretty good. I suspect, though, that early next week I'm going to get the itch to run again. I even felt a little bit of it doing our traditional after-Thanksgiving antiquing.
However, this has given me time to looking towards 2009 and decide what I'd like to do in the coming year.
After JFK I made a decision to put off doing 50 miles again for a couple years. I think I might have rushed into it this year and would like to take some time to build up my weekly mileage to at least 30 mpw (that's miles-per-week). I'd also like to work on getting some speed, so if I do fifty miles again, I won't be fliting with the cut-off times again.
So I've picked some major races for me to aim for next year. This is all subject to change, and the further out a race is, the more likely it is to change.
March: The HAT Run. This is a 50K run in northern Maryland (just South of the PA border). Since it won't start until 9:00 AM I will be able to sleep in my own bed the night before. This race has a reputation for a really fun course (with several stream crossings) and great SWAG. I made the decision to do this one shortly after it was featured in Trail Runner magazine.
May: The Pittsburgh Marathon. This marathon was discontinued a couple years ago but will return in 2009 for its 20th running. This will happen the weekend before mine and Beth's third anniversary so it gives me a reason to relax the rest of the week.
September: The ASC Trail Marathon. This marathon is run on a trail network in Fort Mill, South Carolina. I know a marathon in the South in September is probably not a good idea - especially someone who struggles with the heat like me. But if the weather is warm, I'll slow it down and enjoy the time on the trails. I'm not going to set a personal record on a trail course anyways.
October: Whiskeytown Trail Runs. This one is still sort of a big maybe. This race happens just after mine and Beth's birthdays so it will be a good time to go out of town. Since these races are in Redding, California, we'd also get the chance to see our friend Brenda who is at Simpson University. There are 50K and 30K trail races - ideally I'd do the 50K, but if something holds back my training I may settle for the 30K.
November: Harrisburg Marathon. Why not? I get to sleep in my own bed, run on familiar roads and November is a darn good time to do a marathon.
I'm also looking to do some more adventurous things on my own:
Cumberland Valley Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim: This is sort of like the Grand Canyon R2R2R, but shorter, cooler, flatter, wetter and I just invented it myself. This run would start on Blue Mountain where the Darlington Trail and Tuscarora Trail meets the Appalachian Trail. I then run South towards Boiling Springs and South Mountain, where I'll tag the sign on Center Point Knob, turn around and come back. There are a few things I need to scout out on Blue Mountain before I do this, but I'll probably complete the CV R2R2R in February or April. This would come out to 32-35 miles.
Darlington Trail Thru-Run: Okay, it's only a 7 mile trail, but to run the entire length of a named hiking trail would be pretty cool. Since it's in a state gameland, there are other trails there that I could work into a nice loop.
Epic Bike Ride: In May I'll take another break from running, but instead of sitting on my can (like I am right now) the additional daylight will give me time to do some major cycling. With a few weeks of training, I think a 100-150 mile solo ride would not be too much to expect.
As nice as it is to have time to do Christmas shopping, blogging and work around the house (okay, I'm not doing that much work) I am looking forward to the end of my time off when I can start piling on the miles again.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I'm not a fan of crowds.
And I knew that supermarkets today would be busy. But Beth needed pumpkin and milk for Thanksgiving, and I pretty much owe her one (or one hundred...million).
In high school I had a part-time job at a supermarket. First, there was Jubilee Foods in Ontario, NY where I worked about a year and a half. Then I worked for about five months at Tops when they came in and put Jubilee out of business. Through this experience I identified the Grand Triumvirate of Supermarket Insanity (GTSI).
The GTSI are the three days - or types of days that stores are the busiest.
The Day Before an Impending Snow Storm
As anyone in central Pennsylvania knows, when there is a snow storm approaching it is imperative that you stock up on everything you probably already have. Milk, bread, eggs, and toilet paper. What could be worse than being snowed in without anyway to leave your home and run out of bread or eggs? Disaster.
The amount of expected snow to cause this insanity is generally inversely proportional to a city's annual snowfall. In Ontario, New York, this required a solid twelve inches. Maybe more. Here in the Harrisburg area, if there's anything more than a "dusting" you can expect supermarkets to be clogged with shoppers. In Rock Hill, South Carolina if there are flakes in the air the entire town will shut down except the Winn-Dixie.
The Day Before Thanksgiving
This one baffles me a bit, because it's not like you're being blindsided by Thanksgiving. You know it's coming, so why are you waiting until the day before to buy your $300 worth of sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie filling and cranberry sauce. I know, I was at the store today. But we needed canned pumpkin to make pumpkin cobbler. And I only spent $8.54, not dump-truck load of food needed to pull off a successful thanksgiving.
The Grand Opening of a Store
...where no such store existed before. I was hired by Tops about a month before their Ontario store opened. I spent a good amount of time cleaning shelves and stocking shelves and washing glass freezer doors in the time leading up to the opening. On opening day, I was incredibly busy stocking milk, fetching carts from the parking lot, stocking milk, stocking eggs, stocking ice cream and directing people to the opposite end of the store when they asked me where something was and I didn't know the answer.
"It was like having a Nor'easter moving up the coast the day before Thanksgiving" was how I described the Tops grand opening afterwards.
I suppose if a new store were to have it's grand opening scheduled the day before Thanksgiving when a Nor'easter was preparing to slam into the Eastern Seabord that would be a mighty collisiong of the GTSI. Were that to happen I would fully expect the downfall of Western Civilization, or at the very least a massive shortage of milk, eggs and cranberry sauce.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
She got up at 5:00 AM to drive to the start and saw me as often as she could along the way. While it turned out that I didn't need a lot of the aid that she brought with her (GU, twisted bars, a spare hat) it was great knowing she'd be there if I needed to ditch my jacket or unload some sticky GU wrappers. And I'm not so sure I would have been able to drive myself home Saturday night.
My body is recovering from the 50 miles more slowly than I had expected. The conventional wisdom from ultramarathoners is that ultras are easier on your body because you're taking it easy and the trails give you more cushion than the unforgiving road. The conventional wisdom is wrong.
After my two marathons I was able to go downstairs pretty easily after just a day, and bowling the day after the Harrisburg Marathon proved to be no problem at all.
It's now three days after the JFK 50 and my quads are still sore - especially when I use the foam roller on them. I also have some pain behind my knees, but that isn't really affecting my day-to-day activity like the quad soreness.
You can also toss on top of that chapped lips (from 12 hours out in the freezing cold) and blistered feet. Although, my feet are feeling considerably better except for the blisters that are between my toes (I thought the Injinji socks would prevent those!).
So naturally, I'm pretty glad that I had planned beforehand to take a few weeks off. I feel no pressure to pound out more miles on the trail or to bundle up for freezing bike rides. I'm just going to take these two weeks to heal up, do some stretching, maybe strengthen my core a bit and be ready to up the miles as I train for the 2009 HAT run.
Monday, November 24, 2008
The race began at 7:00 sharp in "downtown" Boonsboro, Maryland. The bank sign indicated it was 19 degrees out. But I warmed up quickly as we headed down the road towards South Mountain and the Appalachian Trail. (This is an entirely different section of the Appalachian Trail than I had been training on - although the terrain was fairly similar to the Pennsylvanian part of South Mountain.)
It was about 2 1/2 miles to the trailhead and it was almost entirely uphill. Immediately I noticed the relative lack of ego among the runners around me as we headed towards this trail. In a typical marathon or shorter race I would be walking as runners buzzed by me refusing to succumb to walking. But as we climbed this hill, everyone around me was walking. There were maybe one or two people in a big hurry to get to the top who flew by us, but for the most part it was me who was doing the passing with my typical fast-paced hike.
The Trail was as rocky as advertised - or at least as rocky as it was rumored to be. This of course brought out many Appalachian Trail horror stories from JFK 50 veterans. "A buddy of mine once fell down on this section and broke his leg and couldn't finish." "Another guy I know rolled his ankle on a rock and couldn't finish." It seemed like everyone had some sort of trail horror story.
I made it to the second aid station at Gathland Gap (9.3 miles) on pace - just about 2 hours even. It was actually a little slow, but I did just climb a mountain to get there.
After the aid station I got chatting with some other runners. I mentioned my ordeal at the Erie Marathon in September and an older runner said he had run it some 12 years ago and had the same experience. Hot temperatures and slow times.
I met another runner, Chris, who was from Charlottesville and was gunning for the same time I was - 10 hours. He had done the Bel Monte 50K in March. It sounded like he was pretty well trained - trained much better than myself and my intuition said that he would probably end up finishing well ahead of me. But somehow I got ahead of him on the Appalachian Trail - I was downhilling pretty fast (as is my fashion) and put some distance between us. Not intentionally - he just wasn't keeping up.
I came off the mountain after about three and half hours, and I was feeling great - but frustrated. The descent off of South Mountain included a long series of switchbacks where you had to carefully choose when and where you could pass other runners. Unfortunately I got caught in a conga line behind a couple of early starters who weren't nearly as confident on the downhills as myself (or many of the runners in our line). As we reached the towpath I grabbed a couple pretzels and refilled my water bottle and blew by a good number of these runners. I was a little behind schedule, but still nothing to worry about I had 26.3 flat miles ahead of me on the C &O Canal towpath.
I was immediately surprised by the number of runners passing me on the towpath. Based on the splits from last year's race I had expected that many runners were trying for even splits and would continue the slow pace we maintained on the AT. But I guess my strategy of making up time on the flats was adopted by many more people than I had expected.
The towpath was boring. Every aid station was the same and the trail never changed. Potomac River to your left, empty trench or swampy stagnant water (formerly the C & O Canal) to your right.
After about 4.5 miles (and one bathroom break) the aforementioned Chris from Charlottesville caught up with me.
"Hey, I didn't think I'd see you again after I lost you on the trail."
"Yeah, it seems I'm getting caught and passed by a lot of people - I also stopped at the porta-potty a ways back there."
I was working a 4-minute run 1-minute walk rotation and Chris suggested we take turns blocking the (very cold) wind for each other. This proved to be a big boost for both of us. I expect that those 6 or so miles that we were doing that were my fastest miles of the race. But just before we reached the aid station at mile 27 I started to lose steam and a mild headache began to set in.
I decided I needed to walk for a while to "clear the cobwebs" and Chris ran off ahead. I saw Beth at the aid station and she asked me how I was doing.
"I've got a little bit of a headache, so I'm going to walk for a while and see if I can adjust." If this were a shorter race, and I had five or fewer miles to go, I would have forged on ahead and dealt with the consequences. But knowing I still had over twenty miles to go I thought that if I could get my stomach and head sorted out now I could avoid disaster later down the line. After all, time wasn't important (as long as I met the cutoffs) I just wanted to finish.
So I walked for about 30-45 minutes and started feeling better. The reduce strain on my legs seemed to transfer blood back to my digestive system, allowing me to process the water, GU, gatorade, pretzels and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I'd been taking in throughout the race.
Slowly I started working in regular jogs. I would run until I felt my head get foggy or my stomach upset and then walk until it all cleared. This lasted until the aid station at mile 38 and I got a second wind (just in time to let Beth know I was feeling better) and managed to run more regularly. (I'm really looking forward to when they post the splits from the race so I can see where I was doing well and where I slogging.)
I reached the aid station at mile 38 just ten minutes before the time cutoff. I had to make the next four miles in less than hour to beat the cutoff at the final aid station of C & O Canal Trail and move onto the road section of the course.
Around mile 40 I felt a bit of a pop on my left pinky toe and felt sudden pain with every step. If this kept up I wouldn't make it. It hurt. I sat on the side of the trail, took off my shoe and sock to examine my foot. Yep, broken blister. Not much I could do out here on the trail but tough it out and try to make the cutoff. I put my sock and shoe back on and started up again. Eventually the pain faded and I was able to run again.
The end of the Canal trail came with nearly twenty minutes to spare. They were handing out reflective vests and I pulled one over my head grabbed a couple pretzels and refilled my water at the aid station. At the rate of my water consumption for the past ten miles or so, this bottle full should last the rest of the race.
I headed down the pavement about 200 feet turned a corner and saw the wall. Okay, it was just a really steep hill, but it might as well have been a wall when you've been on your feet for nearly ten hours. I hiked up the hill. Slowly. The people who had just exited the trail before me pulled away into the distance. The people who had just exited the trail behind me, passed by and pulled away into the distance.
But eventually I reached the top and I ran the downhill. Hiked up another hill, ran down the other side. This went on as the sun sank into the west and I only saw other runners as the occasional street light or a headlight from a passing car would illuminate their vests.
I was surprised when I came across an aid station nearly two miles before the 46-mile mark where I expected to encounter the final aid station. Here they were serving chicken broth which I grabbed a cup of to warm me up and get some salt and protein in my system.
I saw Beth again at the aid station at mile 46, but I was suffering from "ultra brain" and could barely acknowledge her. I grabbed a couple pretzels and marched on. Walk up the hill. Run down the hill. Repeat.
It seemed like forever before I reached the last aid station. By now every step was hurting. My quads ached with every step running the downhills, and my blisters screamed when my feet shifted in my shoes as I climbed up the hills. Despite having just passed the 2-mile sign I was
informed at the station that there was only a mile and a half to go.
"The two-mile sign is wrong."
"That's the best news I've heard all day!" I quipped as I grabbed a couple pretzels and headed up the hill.
I ran down the next hill where I-81 was passing overhead. 1 mile to go. I was around another group of runners now and the promise of the finish line (and warmth) was spurring us forward.
After a couple more turns where local police where directing traffic I could hear the finish line.
"Fifteen minutes left before the final cutoff and we sweep the course." The final 200 yards or so were uphill, but I didn't care. I ran. The finish! Finally!
I was definitely suffering from ultra-brain because I had trouble comprehending the finish clock, but somehow I surmised that I had finished in 11:47 (later confirmed as 11:47:37 on the JFK 50 website). I got a finishers medal around my neck and a big hug from my wife.
We went inside the school where I had initially planned to take a shower and chill out for a while. But the parking situation made it a little tough for Beth to get my pack with my clean clothes, my shoes and my coat to the school, and finishing so close to the cutoff meant the likelihood of hot water being available was minimal. Besides, at this point I just wanted to go home. I grabbed a slice of pizza and a coke and collapsed on to the bleachers.
Beth informed me she hadn't really eaten all day, so we went to McDonalds and I downed a quarter-pounder meal and she had a filet-o-fish. I slept on and off on the way home. We got home a little after nine and I took a shower and crawled into bed. Then I don't really remember anything until my alarm went off for church Sunday morning.
And I had to usher.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Thursday: Run 3.7 miles, 33 min. Another fast (but cold) run.
Saturday: Run 50.2 miles, 11:47 JFK 50 Mile. Tough race. Report to follow...
Total: Run 59 miles.
Wow. Definitely ready for a couple weeks off. My feet are covered with blisters (I count three on each big toe) and my legs are sore (especially walking down stairs). I'll give the my full report on the JFK 50 tomorrow, but for now, I'll just tell you some of what I learned:
1. Fifty miles is a long way to run. Like a really long way.
2. If I take a break and walk some when I feel my hydration/elctrolytes get out of whack I can recover and still go a lot further.
3. It's going to be a while before I attempt a 50-miler again. It's going to be 35 and under for me in 2009.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Originally, my plan for the pace was simple: 13:00 minute miles on the Appalachian Trail (15.5 miles), 11:00 minute miles on the C & O Canal Trail (26.3 miles) and 12:00 minute miles on the somewhat hilly road section (8.4 miles). This would give me a 9:51:36 finishing time.
I don't think that is going to happen. Actually...I think it might be close. The way my legs have felt lately, I feel like I could probably pound out a marathon PR if I were running in Philadelphia on Sunday instead of Hagerstown on Saturday.
So my pace plan is going to be the same, except and extra 30 seconds per mile on the C &O Canal Trail. This would give me a 10:04:45 finishing time, about five minutes slower than my original goal, based on me running a sub-4:00 marathon in Erie (didn't happen) and doing a 30 mile training run (also didn't happen). So here are this Saturday's goal times:
Optimum: 10:10 Originally I was going to say 10:05, but 10:10 will give me an extra five minutes at an aid station (or porta-potty). Besides, 10:10 looks cooler.
Satisfaction: 11:00 I was going to put 11:11, but then I would just be pandering.
Disppointment: DNF. I will be pleased if I finish. Actually, I would be satisfied if I finished, but I always use three times, and I didn't want to mess up the system. Besides, I think that if I'm slower than 11 hours something would have gone wrong, either I got injured and DNF'd or dehydrated and was forced to walk an extended period. That being said, at least I realize that I will be fine if I do have to walk for a while to get my hydration/nutrition/electrolyte situations balanced out.
My next post will be my week log on Sunday, but I will submit a race report sometime Monday. If you need to know how I finished before then, race results "will be somewhat live" on the JFK 50 mile website.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
My hydration plan is more like a bathroom plan. The plan is to empty my bladder every 2-3 hours. If I keep that up, it pretty much means I'm on top of my hydration. I figure that in cold weather that should take about 20-25 ounces per hour. If I find myself without a call from nature after 3 hours I will start drinking more. If I find nature calling more often than that, I will cut back. I'll start off with water and add in electrolytes (gatorade) as the race progresses.
I'll be carrying two water bottles. One in a hand-held:
The other in a waist pack (I have the black version):
And no, I'm not sponsered by Nathan - but if they wanted to sponser me, I wouldn't say "no" (I could really use one of those sweet hydration vests next summer)
I saw today on RunnersWorld.com's Ask the Running Doc blog that non-steroid anti-inflammatories can reduce blood flow to the kidneys and contribute to hyponatremia. So I will be skipping my last dose of meloxicam, which I've been taking for my IT band issues. (Which makes me wonder if that may have contributed to my cramping issues a few weeks ago.)
That will help keep my water and electrolytes in balance, but I also will be taking in gels and the occasional salty snack from aid stations to help keep everything in check. I plan to eat - but not a lot. I've found that eating slows down my absorbtion of water (and food), contributing to dehydration. So when I'm feeling good, I'll eat. If I'm feeling bad I'll just sip water.
And that's the plan. Nothing too scientific about it - hydration and nutrition is best done intuitively. Here's hoping my intuition is honed enough to keep me strong for 50 miles!
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
The temperature at the start of the race will be somewhere between 25 and 30 degrees, and it should peak about the time I'm getting off of the C & O Canal trail at between 35 and 40 degrees. Sure beats the heck out of 85 degrees.
So this afternoon's temperature in the low-mid thirties figured to give me a good average temperature feel for this weekend.
So before dressing for this afternoon's run I considered three things:
1. I don't want to be too hot.
2. I don't want to be too cold.
3. I don't want to chaffe.
I donned two pairs of socks as if I were attempting a long run. I will not be wearing those socks on Saturday. They felt weird. I must have ordered the wrong size Injinji socks the last time I bought some, because these seemed a bit big. And the outer socks were too thick and too fiberous. I could feel the little strings chaffing against my feet. No good. I'll wear the Injinji socks I wore at Erie and some long, warm socks that I've worn on long runs in the past.
I wore my New Balance tights. The compression of the tights will actually help reduce fatigue in my legs by reducing the "jiggling" of the muscles. And they will keep me warm. (And according to my wife, my butt looks good in them.)
I put on the generic-brand Wal-Mart compression shirt underneath my North Face long sleeve half-zip flight series moisture wicking shirt. For some reason that cheap-o Wal-Mart shirt is more comfortable than the Reebok one I bought at Dick's last month. I think this combination will be just warm enough for Saturday without letting me get overheated.
I also wore my North Face gloves and Nike Pro cap. I was a little worried about my ears being cold, but it wasn't an issue.
The main thing I was reminded of tonight was the affect of the wind. If I had a tailwind, I was hot. If I had a headwind, I was cold. I'm guessing that this will prove challenging for me on the U-shaped JFK 50 course.
So I think I've got clothing figured out. I might be a little cold, but I'd rather be a little cold than overheated (and dehydrated). Originally my plan was to change my shoes and socks after the Appalachian Trail section, but the more I think about it and the advice I see posted around the internet is that this would be unnecessary. And it would make my feet really cold for the few minutes they are bare.
So I've got that part of the planning figured out. Tomorro I'll post on the tricky part. Hydration, electrolytes and nutrition. (Oh my!)
Monday, November 17, 2008
That's all just to say, that running and cycling are the ways I stay healthy. I hadn't really thought of it before today, but running and cycling are my hobbies. Hobbies that I love to do that also make(/keep) me healthy.
And I realized today that that is pure genius.
Because there are plenty of hobbies out there that aren't so healthy. Like building model airplanes. Not so healthy. Even my former favorite hobby of baseball card collecting is pretty sedentary. So realizing that I wasn't healthy, I picked up a healthy hobby that was fun. I don't work out because I have to, but because I want to run or ride my bike.
That's the beauty of a healthy hobby. Tennis works too, even an obsession with yard work can give you a good workout. And if you're not into getting all sweaty, you can choose organic gardening or healthy cooking. The point is your workout doesn't need to be a chore if you make it fun.
Consider this Swedish kid, who had an epileptic seizure after playing Warcraft 24 hours straight on his computer. The Foxnews article indicates that the boy's father intends to limit the time his son plays video games. You mean less than 24 hours at a time? What a Tyrant!
That kid definitely needs a new bike, or tennis racket...or at least a Nintendo Wii.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Friday: Run 4.4 miles, 40 min. Misty and damp, but perfect temperature. Still feeling good, although I had a strange sudden buckling of my knee. I'm not sure what caused it, but it hasn't happened since then, so I'm not going to worry about it.
Sunday: Run 4.9 miles, 55 min. Ran from Boiling Springs to Center Point Knob and back on the Appalachian Trail. No walk breaks on the way up the mountain. There's a sign at Center Point Knob that says "Boiling Springs, 3.2 mi." This sign lies. It couldn't be more than 2.8 miles (maybe 2.9) to Boiling Springs, even if you measure all the way to the AT Conservancy office on Route 174.
Total: Run 14 miles, Bike 0 miles.
I'm in full-fledged taper mode now. It's a feeling very reminiscent of the days leading up to the Harrisburg Marathon last year. I don't even feel like running more than I do, and it's accompanied with a nagging doubt about my preparedness. Last year that doubt proved unfounded, and I expect that is the case leading up to JFK 50 as well. Six days to go...
Thursday, November 13, 2008
So let's take a look at a few of the blogs on my list:
The Adventure Blog
I discovered this blog in just the last week or so, and I have loved it. I'm a big fan of Discovery Channel shows like Man Versus Wild and the two seasons of Everest. So it's not a surprise that I like this blog that has covered all kinds of adventures, from Antarctic exploration to Himalayan climbing to fishing for marlin from a kayak.
It's Gonna Take More than a Hamburger to Make Me Happy!
This blog is really unique. The writer works in a restaurant that her family owns in Canada. She has some great restaurant stories and interesting takes on things that are happening around her (and around the world).
I went back and forth several times over whether to link to "Snobby". He's an excellent and witty writer, but his language does get a little colorful (well, not necessarily his language - but he quotes some colorful language...and those who comment on his blog aren't censored) and he occasional references racy topics. So I'll put up a "Parental Warning" on this one, but I have decided that he can stay in my blog list. For now. (He's not too bad about the language, but it is there.)
The Adventures of Mike and His Bike
Mike is a regular commentor on Fat Cyclist and Dug, so I came across his blog from those two sites. He lives in Washington state and as of late has been doing a lot of his cycling indoors due to rain. Why not cheer him up and give his blog a hit?
...And the Adventure Continues
...is the story of "Running Man Dave" and his adventures trail running in Texas. He looks to be at about the same level I'm at now, still working on his first ultramarathon (he unfortunately DNF'd at his first attempt in October - a fate I hope to avoid next week), so his site seemed to relate really well to me.
I think that covers all the newest blogs on my list. I'll still be on the lookout for some quality blogs for some time, so don't be afraid to click to your left. And they're all rated "G" or "PG" (Dug for his bathroom humor) - with the except for Bike Snob.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
You may remember some time ago I had a post about CarFax and how they used copy in their radio ads that didn't make sense. Beth later told me it was a lousy rant and I shouldn't write posts like that. Yet here I am...
But this isn't a rant, it's just a funny observation.
Today I heard one of Duracell's latest commercials.
They were touting their corporate citizenship and mentioned how that when the Mattel children's hospital receives a load of toys (presumably from Mattel), they also get a load of batteries to power those toys.
In the commercial, they mentioned by name three (and only three) toys:
...and Polly Pocket
Now does anyone know what these three toys have in common? You guessed it! They don't use batteries! So I hope that duracell packed plenty of nine-volts so the Mattel Children's Hospital can at least use them in their smoke detectors!
Disclaimer: I am aware that Mattel does in fact make toys that require batteries, it's just that Duracell didn't mention any of them in their commercial.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
But if you're not really there for the bowling don't ruin it for the other teams (or your teammates) by neglecting the bowling aspect of a bowling league.
9-spare, strike, strike, strike, 3-spare (I drop the ball a little early on the first roll), bathroom, 9-open, 9-open, 9-spare, 9-spare, 9-open.
The loss of my path to the pocket was a high price to pay for a little bit of comfort.
Monday, November 10, 2008
You see, some time ago, Beth found the recipe for "Babs Platts' Presidential Request Peanut Butter Fudge" in a local magazine. (Babs is Todd Platts' mother.) She made it this weekend. And it is amazing! (You know I like peanut butter!)
I ate roughly 12 pounds of it.
If you've beeen following this blog, that should be no surprise to you. And now we're heading into the time of year that means there will be copious amounts of sugary goodness in the Lorow household. Fortunately most of that will be sent off as gifts to neighbors and friends, but of course I will need to test each batch to ensure that it meets Beth's high quality standards.
Beth has also informed me that she won't be making her own Christmas cards this year, which simultaneously surprised, relieved and concerned me.
Surprised because Beth makes her own cards every year, and they always come out looking fabulous.
Relieved me because this is something Beth stresses over every year. She always says "I need to start working on my Christmas Cards in August." But she usually gets started on them around Christmas Eve and the last cards usually arrives in their recipients' mailboxes in time for Presidents' Day. (Okay, I used a little Hyperbole there - everyone always gets their cards by Groundhog Day.)
Concerned, because this will give Beth more time to pursue her true Christmas passion. Making cookies. And fudge. And all kinds of deliciousness that I lack the self-control to deprive myself.
To make matters worse, this time of year also coincides with my post-JFK break from running. To give you an idea of how this will affect me, I gained about five pounds between the Erie Marathon and the point when I could run 20-30 miles per week again. And that was without the constant presence of mocha fudge, red and green M & M cookies and frosted sugar cookies shaped like Christmas Trees.
Fortunately, this will happen a solid three months before the 50K HAT run, so I will consider them strategic fuel reserves. Necessary for an endurance athlete...yeah, that's it...
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Thursday: Run 8.4 miles, 1:27 Another mid-length run around the neighborhood. Felt a little bit beat up from the miles of the last few days, but otherwise strong. This made forty miles over six days.
Friday: Run 4.0 miles, 39 min. Took it fairly easy.
Sunday: Run 6.5 miles, 1:05 Used the treadmill at the Hotel. Beth and I met her parents in State College for the weekend, and I didn't feel like packing for what would be a pretty cold run outside.
Total: Run 30 miles, bike 0 miles.
The end of daylight savings essentially meant the end of cycling for me in 2008. I may do one or two rides on weekends, but until at least February my cycling will me minimal.
I am really happy I got thirty miles in this week, it gives me a bit of a confidence boost heading into the JFK 50. I'm feeling pretty beat up from all the miles (50 so far this month) so I'll do my best to taper properly. This is the point when all the training is done and the real race planning begins. So the time I had spent training, I'll be using to write up directions for my crew (Beth) and make decisions on my nutritional and hydration plan.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Between sunset and sunrise AM radio stations have to change the patterns on their signals so that they don't interfere with stations in other markets that function on the same amplitude. At night, with the absence of solar radiation AM signals can reach much further and much clearer than they do during the day.
When I run at night I kind of feel like my spiritual signals get sent much clearer to God. It's probably just the absence of distraction, seeing only what's immediately in front of me (and the occasional - okay, frequent - passing cars) and being able to focus my thoughts without interuption from dog walkers, toddlers playing outside or the occasional sarcastic teenager (who thinks that they're funny - "run, Forrest, run!" I've never heard that before).
Running has always had a bit of a spiritual side to it, feeling the energy drain from your body, the rhythm of your footsteps, it can put you in a very different place than you are the rest of the day. I often use it as a way to decompress after a stressful day, making me much nicer to be around through the evening. But running at night is definitely something special. Maybe some day I need to try trails at night.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Let me be the first to say, "thank you." I certainly had my doubts about your motivations, and I probably have been misinterprenting how you have been servicing the company I work for, but now I realize that you are concerned for your customers and only want to help us.
Over the last couple years I've noticed that you have been phasing out standard-sized candy bars in our vending machines. I had simply thought that you were trying to make more money out of your limited space for your machines and make us all fat in the process.
So obviously, I was a bit confused when you started supplying on the lamest of products. We had mocha frappaccinos in the machine, when everyone knows that mocha is terrible. We all wanted vanilla or caramel. You offered as many as four Reese's products at the same time. It made no sense. But now, I get it.
Monday, I went down to the machine and saw that you had jacked up prices for the second time this year. Standard candy bars went from 65 cents to 75 cent to 90 cents in less than 12 months. At first I thought to myself, those greedy jerks! Gas prices drop and they jack up the prices AGAIN!
But then I realized something. You care about your consumers. You know our company has been striving to help us become healthier individuals. So you are turning us off to candy. Personally, I'm finding it liberating. I no longer want to go downstairs and buy a 200-calorie chocolate bar, because the price is so out-of-whack. So I stay at my desk and eat a banana. Or a kashi bar. Maybe I'll starting bringing in yogurt with my lunch for me to have as a morning snack.
So thank you. Your commitment to have the worst selection, bad prices and unhealthy choices will be making me a healthier individual.
Monday, November 3, 2008
I had planned to do thirty miles as an appropriate last long run before the JFK 50. And I decided to run on the roads instead of the trails, so I could do the hydration thing "by ear" rather than careful planning.
So a little after 9:00 AM I started on my way towards Harrisburg's Riverfront Park where I planned to do a good chunk of my run. On some nice, flat, traffic-free pavement.
On the way there I realized that there wouldn't be any place to restock on fluids, so I stopped at a convenience store in Lemoyne and bought a bottle of water and gatorade. The clerk asked me, "how far are you running today?"
"Thirty miles. I'm training for a fifty miler."
"Wow man, that's awesome." the tattooed clerk replied. A little different than the usual response--"Why?"
So I continued on my way. Once I was at Riverfront park and lolligagging up the flat, paved path I realized something was wrong. I had gone about ten miles, but I was feeling more tired than I normally am at this point. Or maybe not? And my water bottle seems to be leaking. I noticed that happening through the threads where the lid fastened before. No big deal, I shouldn't lose too much water. So, I kept going.
Around mile fifteen I started to get "the stitch." You know, that pain you get in the side when you run right after eating something. Which was wierd, because I almost never get "the stitch" on a long run. I went to switch from my gatorade bottle to the plain water, but that leak seems to be more severe than I first thought. My water was 3/4 gone. I grabbed my bottle of Hammer HEED and kept going.
I stopped for a bathroom break on City Island and used the last of the toilet paper. My apologies to whoever used that port-a-potty after me. Hopefully, they'll restock before the Harrisburg Marathon next Sunday. Having evacuated my bowels, I still wasn't feeling right.
I still had a few more miles to go, but I needed to restock my fluids, so I started heading for home. I headed towards Camp Hill feeling sick to my stomach. I was running much slower than my 11:00 minute per mile pace I had planned. Once I got my fluids re-stocked I'd re-evaluate my situation.
On my way back up to the same convenience store, there was a guy on a stoop who asked "how far are you going today?" Strange, I thought, I don't think I've ever been asked this question before while on a run, but today I've been asked twice.
"Thirty miles," I replied (optimistically).
"Are you doing JFK?"
"Is this your first time?"
"I've done it twice. Walk up the first hill and it's cake after that."
Yes, I'm sure running fifty miles will be "cake." If only I could get through thirty.
I finally got to the convenience store and restocked my fluids. Different clerk this time. No questions.
After that brief respite to refill my bottles, I was now traveling at a 12:00 minute per mile average place. But I had gotten something of a second wind. So I continued on, heading towards Camp Hill, on my way to Mechanicsburg, deciding that if things go wrong in the last 5-6 miles, it might be good to be close to home.
So I passed the West Shore Plaza and into Camp Hill. I had just passed the old town hall when I felt a twinge in my calf. A minor cramp. That was it. I need to call it off and get a ride home. I stopped at a bench and called Beth.
Unfortunately, Beth was shopping in Gettysburg, a good 45 minutes away. "I'll take a few minutes see if I can stretch it out and recover a bit, then I'll call you back."
So I stretched some and jogged a little, but it was clear this cramp wasn't going to let me run. Time on my feet, I thought. That's a big part of Ultra training. I can walk the last few miles home and it'll just be "time on my feet" training. So I called Beth and told her I decided I wouldn't keep running, but it would be good for me to walk home.
So I walked, and walked, and walked...it turns out that I was a bit further from home than I had imagined. I stopped a couple times to sit on a bench or curb and catch my breath and suck down some more fluids.
Finally, I got home.
I sat on our steps and started taking off my shoes. I got my right shoe off, then my phone rang. It was Beth, I told her I had just got home and she said she was almost home as well. As I spoke I tried to kick off my left shoe with my right foot and it hit.
"Can I get you anything?"
"N..NO...I'm...just going to get...a...shower."
And I don't remember too well, but the phone call pretty much ended there. I was feeling queesy and a little light headed, so I ascended the stairs on all fours. (I couldn't help but wonder, how did I make it all the way home?)
I undressed and got in the shower, but I was feeling so light-headed I had to sit in the shower. Once I had recovered some I got up and rinsed all the dried salt (from my sweat) that covered me.
By now Beth was home and got me some water. I put on some clothes and laid down for a bit, occasionally sitting up to sip some water.
"Okay, I'm just going to ice up my calves and lie down in the living room."
So I grabbed both ice packs from the fridge and used an ace bandage to press them to my calves. Big mistake. After I had been lying there a few minutes both legs cramped up simultaneously.
"What's the matter?"
"Can I get you something?"
"JUST HELP ME GET THESE ICE PACKS OFF!"
So we got the ice packs off and the cramps persisted. Horribly painful cramps. Beth ran upstairs to use the computer to find a remedy. While I withstood the pain of both calves cramping like I had just jumped in the pool after Thanksgiving dinner.
"It says on this sight that you should help the muscle finish it's contraction by 'grasping with one hand just under the knee and the other at your achilles and pulling the muscle in on itself. This is excruciating painful, but is necessary to'"...something, something... "to fight contraction risks tearing the muscle tissue."
More excruciating than this? No thanks, I'll risk the muscle tear. So for the next hour or two I kept my lower legs incredibly still while the muscle fibers twitched and occasionally cramped.
Eventually I managed to get in the shower again and the hot water seemed to soothe the muscles, so after that point I only had one more cramp that evening.
In retrospect, I realize that I didn't drink nearly as much as I needed. I had 70 ounces over four hours, which is a minimum of 10 ounces short of what I needed. And it was pretty warm out, so it was probably a good thirty to fifty ounces short of what I needed.
As far as JFK goes...at this point I'm going to still go for it. I'm a little undertrained, but I feel confident that I can finish the race. I'm going to try to get about thirty miles of training in this week then take it easy next week, hopefully having a chance to do a long hike or something that weekend. I'm throwing out my 10 hour time goal and just aiming to finish the race. The worst that could happen is a DNF, and at least I'd get to take part in what should be a really fun ultra marathon.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Wednesday: run 4.8 miles, 47 min. A quick jaunt around the neighborhood. IT band was a little sore today, but it didn't slow me down much.
Friday: Bike 3.3 miles, 12 min. That's not a typo. I got a flat tire less than two miles into my ride. After fixing the flat I noticed I had torn a good sized hole in the sidewall and decided not to finish my ride. Fortunately, it remained inflated long enough for me to get home.
Saturday: Run 20.6 miles, 4:10 Things didn't go exactly as planned. I had intended for this to be a thirty-miler. It didn't work out that way...more to follow.
Run 30 miles, bike 3 miles.
Not the best week, since bad things happened during three out of four workouts. Normally, I'd be pretty happen with the total mileage, but I'm training for a 50-milers and I haven't crested thirty miles in a week since the Erie Marathon in September. I really wish I could have gotten thirty miles in yesterday, but it just wasn't going to happen. I'll explain yesterday in more detail in a separate post tomorrow. I'll also explain whatever my plans will be for the JFK 50 tomorrow, or at least whatever I have figured out at that point.