Friday Friday Friday

No typing it three times doesn’t make it any better.  So on with the show.

1. Monday’s post of the Richmond make your own 50K was one of the more difficult post for me to write.  Normally I have 4-5 drafts before I publish, for that post it was 15.  The day after I really was unhappy with my results and really tore into myself in the post.  It took a while to get to the point where I could be more objective.  No, it didn’t go as well I as I wanted, but there were reasonable and somewhat unavoidable reasons for my results (well maybe it could have been avoided by running a real 50K instead of trying to cobble together two races back to back).

2. My friend Jen K recently wrote a blog post about her daughter being dyslexic.  It was a really strong post and reminded me of all the tricks I do to work around being dyslexic myself.  As an example I find it is easier to proof read my post if I let them sit for a bit first and then come back and proof them.  Yeah, there are still plenty of typos and misspellings, but the drafts are worse if it makes you feel any better.  I really try to avoid reading aloud in public, so don’t expect any public readings of my blog ;)

The Pig in Richmond

The Pig in Richmond

3. Had my first post Richmond run and it went fairly well. My chiro/physio was happy that my knee was no longer swollen on Wednesday and wished me luck on my training for a 24 hour race.  His “You’re Nuts” seems to be the general consensus on my doing this race.  Sometimes it is a “nice” way, sometimes not so.  I do sometimes worry about the not so part and occasionally question the line between challenge and stupidity.  I’m sticking with challenge for the time being.

It is a scientific fact that an extra N increases the enjoyment index

It is a scientific fact that an extra N increases the enjoyment index. Flying Squirrels! Whoop!

4. I finally found a sucker volunteer to do a guest post on my blog.  Expect something the week after Thanksgiving.

5. I haven’t shared any past history personal stuff in a while.  I never went to any dance in school either high school or college.  Try and contain your shock.

6. I am starting to cobble together a training plan for Across the Years.  Runs Sat/Tues/Th and Long Race walking on Sunday.  Might toss in a hill session or two, but that will depend on the knee.

Flowers for Friday

Flowers for Friday

7. I had a really good pizza in Richmond while I was there. It isn’t worth the 3 hours of driving there just for that, but it is close.

I’ll close with a picture of a pizza. Have a Pigtastic Weekend!




The Fig and Pig pizza.  Don't tell the Pig.

The Fig and Pig pizza. Don’t tell the Pig.  The crust rocked. 

Lessons Learned Part Dos

Back in July I wrote a post documenting some of my lessons learned from my 6 Hour Race It was a universally disliked post (I didn’t hide my disdain for myself behind my humor).  So I went for another 6 hours last weekend in my last big tune up for my 24 hour race.  Did I learn anything this time?

1. I reviewed the old post and I mostly took my own advice.  About the only outstanding item is “Train appropriately” and given I am 42 days to race day, it is more a matter of fine tuning that any real training.

2. DO NOT GO OUT TOO FAST. Yeah, I didn’t have much of a choice but to go out fast in Richmond, and I paid the expected price.  In a 24 hour race it will be a LONG 22 hours if I break my half PR in the first two hours.

3. Get used to being passed.  I joke about getting passed by a women in a neck brace or the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, but in Across the Years (my 24 hour race), there will be people clipping off sub 6 minute miles.  Reading the blogs of a couple of participants who were trying for 50 miles in 7 hours, it is not beyond possibility that I get lapped 35 times by a person in the first 10 hours alone.  I can’t let myself get caught up in other people’s races and I have to stick to my plan (which given me means it is probably as flawed as using your SSN as your Twitter handle).

Note the pig is ahead of my arch enemy

Note the pig is ahead of my arch enemy

Side note, it just dawned on me that given the quality of the people running this race, I am going to be the equivalent of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.  Nobody is going to want to be passed by the guy with a monster knee brace.  Another reason to run my own race.

4. I need to temper my expectations.  I’m not going to podium this race anymore than I am going to podium any other race (which is a nice way of saying Toronto is more likely to be 90 Deg F on New Year’s than I have of reaching the podium  (FYI the record high for New Year’s Day is 9.2 Deg C)).  What I can’t completely figure out is what my expectations should be.  Reading the blogs of people who ran similar types of training, 60 miles is about the tops I can expect, but it seems like a low mileage total.  I don’t want to sell myself short, but  I equally don’t want to set a bar at a point where it is ludicrous to think I can achieve it.  For the record, 60 miles would give you 74th out of 190.  When I filled out the expected mileage when I signed up for the race I put 75 miles. It had no basis in reality.  Par for the course around here I think.

5. My fueling and hydration worked pretty well, but I need to experiment with adding calories with real food and with sports drinks.  The idea of eating 60 gels is not very appealing.

  1. Although I don’t plan on using music most of the time, my Ipod shuffle was close to being out of charge after 6 hours. I have a Rio Sport that would work (if you know what a Rio Sport MP 3 player is, you are old), but it isn’t compatible with the new versions of Windows, so I would have to stick to my 6-9 year old playlist (Mexican Radio anyone? No I have no idea what is going on with the twitch in the lead singer’s eye in the video).
  2. I am probably not in good enough shape for this undertaking.  I haven’t let that stop me yet, so no reason I am going to let it stop me now.




Richmond 8K/Marathon Make Your Own 50K Race Report

Richmond is a city full of history and I made the trip down to Richmond looking to add to that rich history.  OK, that is total BS, I made the trek south to run an 8K, then run the Richmond marathon..  No, I can’t even run a normal 50K.    Fortunately I left at a time of day which made the trip fairly reasonable (traffic typically between DC and Richmond makes running quicker). So after flying down I-95, I arrived to packet pick up armed with my bib numbers.  The parking for the expo is next to Flying Squirrel Stadium, home of Richmond’s minor league baseball team.  Every time I come down to Richmond and see the stadium I think I should come down for a game.  Come on, a flying squirrel?  Right down my alley.  So far a Flying Squirrel game has eluded me, and this time in Richmond I was here for bigger game (insert groan here).

I excel in this arena.

I excel in this arena.

So I grabbed my bib numbers (OK, I took them from the volunteers) and went to find where I could test my plan of shielding my marathon bib with aluminum foil (and yes, I was the only one that the expo holding aluminum foil, but I suspect that probably wasn’t the oddest thing about me at the expo). The bad news is that they didn’t have a timing mat to test my shielding theory.

A quick review:  I was running the 8K and the marathon and since they started 50 minutes (and 3/4 of a mile) apart. I needed to have all my marathon stuff with me for the 8K including my bib, so I had to come up with a way to keep it from registering at the 8K (spoiler alert: the aluminum foil worked).

So I picked up my shirts, walked around the expo and bought a beanie since the predicted temp at the start was 26 F.  I then went off for my standard pre-race meal (Thai or Chinese, this time it was Thai). Then it was off to Whole Foods for some snacky stuff (yes, snacky is a word) and then off to the hotel which afforded a nice view of the Capitol:


It's the white building in the back.  Ok, nobody cared, but if I fill up the post with pictures, then you may not notice how my races go

It’s the white building in the back. Ok, nobody cared, but if I fill up the post with pictures, then you may not notice how my races go

My allergies had been acting up during the day and I was dead tired by 7:30.  Finally I fell asleep around 9 with a very early alarm ready to wake me.

No, I am not going to include a picture of myself in bed, geeze.

Richmond 8 K

So it was up at 4:50.   Straight away I made my pre-race peanut butter sandwich (PB for a PB?).  Then I did some foam rolling, light stretching, and brushing my teeth since I am actually on an occasion an optimist (spoiler alert: I needn’t have bothered). Since it was going to be cold for the start (and for at least the first half of the marathon) I was wearing my beanie, arm warmers and gloves.  I was not wearing tights since my monster knee brace has difficulty staying in place with tights.  So at 6:15 it was off to the start of the race.  Bag check was a breeze since none of the marathoners were there yet.  I did some dynamic stretching, a few strides, and less dynamic porta potty activities.  It was cold enough that the person in the one next to one I was using declared “It’s warmer in here, I am not coming out until the race starts”.  That should give you an idea of what kind of day it was when camping out in a porta potty sounds like a good idea.

You know there really isn't a caption that sufficiently  describes this.  I do like the umbrellas behind them #classy

You know there really isn’t a caption that sufficiently describes this. I do like the umbrellas behind them #classy If I was really crass I would make a joke about the name of the company on the door.

I was in the first start wave (10 minutes average and under).  I lined up in my corral about 5 minutes before the start.  Gulped down a couple of gels and took a sip from my hydration pack (and yes I was the only person I saw in 8K with a hydration pack).

The course goes two miles away from downtown and then comes back three miles (with the last part being VERY downhill).   I wanted to go out at slightly under my half marathon pace and hit the first mile around  that (9:02).  My legs were finally warming up and the next mile came in at 8:55.  Then I started to get ahead of myself and felt good as I increased the turnover in my legs.  We made the turn going back toward downtown and I got somewhat caught up in the race instead of doing it as a run.  The street we were on had bricks instead of pavement and the sun was straight in our eyes (or at least my eyes).  This made it hard to tell exactly where I was stepping or to check the Garmin to see what my pace was.  Mile 3 was 8:49 and then mile 4 was 8:39.  This was going in the wrong direction.  Then was the big drop into the finish.  I didn’t want to bomb the decent and tear my quads up for later but that being said I probably took it a bit fast.  Finished in 43:45.  Leave it to me to do negative splits the one time I shouldn’t be doing them.  Later, my Garmin would tell me I ran my fastest 5K of the year.  I placed in the top 20% overall.  So I set my 5K PR for the year at the start of a 50+K (Spoiler alert: Bad idea).

Then I weaved in and out of the crowds since I needed to get to the marathon start.  I grabbed my medal, a bottle of water and finally got out of the finish line area.  With the clock still ticking, I found an area to unwrap my marathon bib.  Turns out when you fingers are cold, safety pin use is not as easy as it looks.  I chugged the water, took a gel and headed off to the marathon start.  Unfortunately I took a wrong turn and had to back track a bit.  When I got to the marathon start I could see that the final bit of the last wave was going through so I ran the long way down the block so I would hit the line at 6 miles over all and I happened to nail it.  Mile 6 (including bib swap) was 13:30.

The Richmond Marathon

So my plan was to go out fairly hard in the first half, and then work on my 5/1 run/walk 24 hour plan in the 2nd half.  This plan wasn’t the best in the world– I just wouldn’t figure that out for about 12 more miles.  The first mile was great since I was basically running alone.  But I was running too fast (9:33) which is closer to my half pace than marathon pace.  BTW anyone who tells you Richmond is a flat course is lying to you.  It isn’t a horrible course, but there are a couple of very noticeable ups and downs (like the finish line).

Flat my butt

Flat my butt

Around mile 2 I started to run into the people who actually started the race on time and spent some time weaving in-and-out.  This was probably a good thing since it slowed me down a bit (Mile 2, 9:55) but then I got some clear space and Mile 3 was 9:45. Well if my goal was to become tired, I was doing a bang up job.   Miles 4 I started hitting traffic again (9:50) and then the next two miles was mostly uphill (9:56, 10:05).  Then was a nice downhill (9:53).  Although overall I noticed my half marathon time (including the 8K) was a better than my average half, I also notice I had more than a few miles left to go (like 19.1).  To emphasis my the distance remaining my ankle on my left side had a sharp pain and I almost tripped. The downhill continued over the bridge but my hips were starting to have more issues with keeping a high cadence. Mile 8 came in at 10:19 and I was starting to worry I was fading.

The pretty part of the course was Riverside Drive, as we ran along the James River with the fall leaves in full color.  It almost made me forget I was running.  Just, kidding I was about to blow up and I could sense it.

One quick story.  There was one place where I saw people go toward the river and then come out.  Normally I would say it was runners taking a nature break, but since there were many women going down the path, I wasn’t really sure that was what was happening.  When I got to the spot, I figured out what it was.  People were stopping to take a picture of the river.  I laughed at myself as I ran by (let’s ignore I was adding to the chorus).

This wasn't on the course, but it gives you an idea of the pretty river.

This wasn’t on the course, but it gives you an idea of the pretty river.

I pushed to keep my pace and the next couple of miles  (10:15, 10:18) and held the line as I rambled along the tree-lined road.    Mentally I was started to fight myself.  After coming out of the wooded area, I shed my arm warmers and gloves since we were in full sunlight and I was starting to get too warm (spoiler alert: big mistake).

I struggled a bit for the next three miles (all around 10:30) and when I hit the half marathon point, I thought it was a good time to practice my 5/1 run/walk ratio.   The next couple of miles went fairly well and I was able to transition between walking and running fairly well.  Then we hit the Lee Bridge and it was cold, and windy and I really started to wish I had my arm warmers and gloves back.  I also switch from 5/1 to more of a run by feel (ie. start walking when you feel like crap).  For  a second that I thought about taking a right hand turn after the bridge and going back to my warm hotel with its cold beer, but I knew I was still on track to put in an OK time so I pushed (sorta, kinda) on.

I really don’t have a lot to say about the next 10 miles.  Some miles were better than others.  At some point we hit the part of the course that I remember from the half marathon I ran here back in 2011 so I knew what to expect (or more specifically, just how much longer I would be running).

About the only memorable moment was being passed during a walk interval by a woman in a neck brace who told me I was doing a good job and gave me a high-five.  She was being nice, so I successfully didn’t laugh.   When I started to run, I did dig a little deeper to make sure once I passed her, she stayed passed (I’m SO classy that way).  Yes I have in two marathons managed to be passed by the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and a woman in a neck brace.   *sigh* Why am I the only blogger these things happen to?

In the end I finished the marathon part about 15 minutes slower than I finished Marine Corps Marathon.  Under the circumstances, not too bad.

But there was one more thing to do

I still had time left on the clock to add additional mileage to my 6 HR PR, so once again I grabbed my medal (the guy seemed oddly disappointed I didn’t want him to hang it around my neck), grabbed a bottle of water and headed past the bag check area to get some additional mileage.  In the end I hit 33.0 miles once I subtracted for the additional miles during the marathon (Garmin 26.4 vs 26.2).  Better than three miles from 6 HR race in July.

Still thought I was a BAMF at this point

Still thought I was a BAMF at this point.  If only I had stayed in the hotel room.  I do have the crazed eyes down pat.

OK, What am I going to Whine About?

I went into the race wanting to run a decent 8K (check),not have my marathon bib clock in at the 8K (check), get to the marathon start before they took up the timing mat (check),run a sub 5 marathon (check), set a 6 hour PR (along with a 50K PR) (check and check) but it still seemed somehow unsatisfactory.

Maybe I thought I was some sort of badass who could instantly recover from his first marathon in less than three weeks, crank out a quick 8K, turn in a solid marathon and then crank out a few miles afterward, just to drive home his badassry (or is it badassery?)

Spoiler Alert…



Guess who slept in

Guess who slept in

Continue reading

Award Winning Friday

Originally I was going to post today about how I have no clue what my strategy for Richmond 8k/Marathon is going to be and how I don’t even know what to wear.  You are fortunate in that you are going to be spared that crap and you have @rebeccaruns and her blog RunningFoodBaby to thank for it because she nominated me for the Liebster Award.  The Liebster Award is a chain letter prestigious award where I get to answer a bunch of personal question (and we all know how much I LOVE to do that).  Then I get to torture nominate more bloggers to help widen their audience.

I can't help but wonder if this logo has an embedded virus in it.

I can’t help but wonder if this logo has an embedded virus in it.


1. What is your current health related goal?
At my age, just staying alive qualifies as a health related goal.  So far, so good for this year.
2. What is your biggest irrational fear?
That someday this blog will go viral.
3. Do you enjoy wrapping presents?
One on the advantages of being a loner is that it really cuts down on the number of presents you have to buy and gift bags become the way to go.
4. What’s your favorite cross training activity?
Does eating count?  If not then swimming even though I get passed by kids with water wings.
5. If I came to visit you, what would we do? 
Well, I first would have to reassure you that all those people who think you are crazy for coming to DC just to visit me have it all wrong.  The tour of the National Mall (with a mandatory unicorn selfie), plenty of cupcakes, and beer or three.  And Rebecca, you should SO run Marine Corps for your next marathon.
6. You have 2 weeks off of work and 2 round trip plane tickets to ANYWHERE. Where would you go and who would you take?
I think I would go to Australia if it was not on my dime.  I think I would just go solo and not have to worry about fighting anyone for the armrest.
7.  What’s the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you during a run or race?

You mean other than running in public? It the time I dropped my keys at the start of 10K.  I chronicled the moment here.

8. Tell me the 3 best days of your life. Or at least the first 3 that pop into your mind.


9. Okay, you HAVE to eat a fast food meal. What restaurant would you choose and what would you order?
First get the gun out of my face Rebecca.  Come on, you are Canadian for goodness sake.  I will gladly eat my Five Guy’s burger and fries without the threat of bodily harm ;)
Flowers for Friday.  This has nothing to do with the award, but that is pretty much par for the course around here.

Flowers for Friday. This has nothing to do with the award, but that is pretty much par for the course around here.

10. Have you ever met a celebrity?
Hey, I look at myself in the mirror every day.  OK, even I can’t keep a straight face with that one.  I have met Neil Armstrong, Tom Hanks, Alan Shepard, and the band Rush. I have also met Goobermonkey, which if you are a Disney runner certainly qualifies.
11. Share a picture of yourself in non workout clothes!
Well for all you know I am wearing running shorts though.  Shows you what you know I wasn't wearing pants at all.

Well for all you know I am wearing running shorts though. Shows you what you know. I wasn’t wearing pants at all.

12. If you could choose to have a ‘do-over’ and switch careers, what would you choose and why?
I took a test when I was in high school to see what type of careers would suit me.  When the results came back it basically said I would not be happy doing anything.  Given that, I would probably stick with the same soul sucking job I have since it pays well enough to keep me in running shoes (if not pants).  Now if aptitude wasn’t an issue and the money was the same, I would like to be a painter.
13. If you won the Olympic Gold Medal – how do you think you would react?
Well this is me we are talking about, so I would probably be irked that I didn’t break the world record. Then I would immediately start thinking about my next event.  Actually I would probably start dreading meeting Bob Costas for the mandatory interview.
14. What do you want for Christmas?
A safe landing in Phoenix since I will be traveling on Christmas Day for my 24 hour race.
So here is the point where I get to annoy highlight a couple of new bloggers (or newly returned to blogging) to tag next.  Check out their blogs because they are way better than this one.  Kate and Jen, feel free to ignore the nomination if you want.
Kate and her blog Kate in New Mexico
Jen and her blog Crazy Cupcake Runner
Answer the questions I did, but you can replace one question with any question you would like to answer.  Dont hate me Enjoy!
Everyone have a Pigtastic weekend!

Why a 24 Hour Race

Well my Richmond 8K/Marathon, make your own 50K is just a few days away. So since we all know I will be looking ahead the second I cross the finish line, I thought I would get a head start and answer the obvious question.

Why are you doing something as crazy as a 24 Hour race?

The short version is: I AM crazy.

But since this is a blog, I’ll give you the long version.

No, the big does not have access to classified documents.  Well, at least I hope he doesn't.

No, the Pig does not have access to classified documents. Well, at least I hope he doesn’t.

I had moved from Houston to Naperville, Illinois and after a long winter of not running I was looking for a race or two to run in the Spring.  I remember coming across a 24 hour charity relay run and thought to myself, it would be really cool to do the entire thing all by myself.  This was 1998 and I didn’t even know that ultrarunning existed and certainly didn’t know that there were actually races for people that were 24 hours, 48 hours, or even 6 days long.

I knew  a couple of months didn’t seem like a good training period for a 24 hour race (see, even back then my “brilliance” shone through) so instead I ran a couple of 10Ks.

But the thought stuck in my head and every so often would come to the forefront.  It just never though got to the point of reality.  Until this year that is.  This is the year I wanted to try something different, to not give in to what I can’t do (it’s a long list) and focus on trying new things.  This new focus collided with the 30 days of challenges I did in April/May.  I knew it was time to tackle the monster that is a 24 hour race.  I debated back and forth in the last couple of weeks of the challenge whether to commit to such a monstrosity.  Although I had not run more than 12 miles at once in over 2 1/2 years, I made the leap of faith and committed to race for all of Twitter and my blog readers to see (which at the time was about 10 readers and 400 Twitter followers).

Once again the picture has nothing to do with the post.  Pretty fall leaves though.

Once again the picture has nothing to do with the post. Pretty fall leaves though.

I could have ditched the plan at several points during the year.  The smart play would be to leverage my 50K into training for a 50 miler and then to 100K before tackling a 24 hour race.  It’s not like there is a “didn’t meet a Twitter commitment police”. But I am worried that if I don’t do it now, I never will and running a 24 hour race will be another in a list of unrealized dreams.  I want to push myself to my limits (and then some) and see how I respond.  I can’t run fast, but can I go far?  It is one big unknown, but I want to find out the answer.

So onward I go.  Saturday will be the last race(s) before Across the Years (my 24 hour race).  I hope to break my 6 hour PR and learn more about running while fatigued (racing an 8K and running up a hill to the start of the marathon should get me well on the well road to that goal).

So that’s the why.  It was an idea that was stuck in my head and I want to make it a reality.

Or to put in succinctly, I AM CRAZY.




Several months ago, when I was still new to actually interacting with anyone on Twitter, I got the following Tweet from a ultrarunner I had just started to follow with the caption “Twinsies!”:



I stared at the picture in total befuddlement (and I will spare you that selfie).  I had utterly no clue why someone would send this (well to me anyway).  Yes, I got the part about how her outfit matched my Twitter AVI, but since I didn’t understand the whole concept of “Twinsies!” I just scratched my head.  So after a bit I did what I often do when I have no clue how to respond, I just mimicked the original message.  I tweeted back “Twinsies!” and never heard from her again.

This story has a point other than to document another in a series of me being utterly clueless. It caused me to think about how I have been racing many of my races in pairs (Racing Twinsies so to speak).  So I thought I would go back and review the previous pairs to see if there was anything I could learn before my 50K on Saturday.

1. Cherry Blossom 10 Miler/ Marine Corps 1775K

After training most of the winter for the Cherry Blossom 10 miler, I hit my goal, but I didn’t feel all that great about it.  I felt like I should have done better.  In 1775 the next week I had no idea how my body would respond to another double-digit distance race since I had never done that in back to back weeks.  Well I did better in 1775K than in Cherry Blossom and on a far more difficult course.  About the only difference is I attacked the course more and didn’t have to worry about weaving in and out of people after the first mile.

2 Alexandria Running Festival Half Marathon/Oddyssey Half Marathon

Going into these two halfs in three weeks, I decided that I would target the 2nd of the two for a good result (which was not smart in retrospect).  The result for the Alexandria Running Festival was OK, but I was somewhat disappointed given my spring races were a bit faster.  I went all in for Oddyssey and its odd spelling, but my knee decided not to play along and then my hydration went to hell and it was a lousy race.  I learned to pay more attention to the signs of my knee not recovering and carry a hydration pack when it is warm.

3. Marine Corps Marathon/ Richmond 8k/Marathon (make my own 50K).

Well Marine Corps was OK, but I didn’t meet my goal and I feel OK, but not great about it.  So basically the first of all the Twinsie races went so-so.  So what does this mean for Richmond?  I have been taking care of myself (mostly) from a recovery perspective and had a good 13 miler over the weekend. So I feel pretty good going into the last week before the race.  Still haven’t decided on my race tactics yet (and even if I had no one would believe I would stick to them).  Since I don’t know what to do, maybe I should just mimic my 1775K performance.




Experienced Fridays

More Friday musings so buckle up, here we go:

OK, here we go after a cute picture of the Pig and my running shoes.

OK, here we go after a cute picture of the Pig and my running shoes.

1. I read a New York Times blog post about fueling for marathon which suggested taking gels at a faster rate that I typically take (I take a gel at the start and every 45 minutes or so thereafter).  The small scale study suggested 2 gels at the start, 1 gel 40 minutes in and then 1 every 20 minutes).  Although it isn’t something I plan on trying for next week (18 gels is a bit more than I want to carry), it is interesting to see someone challenge the standard 1 gel per hour.  Since I tolerate gels fairly well, I may after next week play around some of taking gels more often.  I hope there are more studies on fueling in the future.

2. I just got you to read a serious running piece without any humor and you didn’t blink.  Go ahead and blink now.

3. Made you blink.

4. I find it easier to sleep if it is raining.  Maybe I should move to Seattle or Portland.

5. I had an interesting discussion with a friend the other day.  I was talking about the Army Run and how I started out way to fast  and how in the end I was 24 seconds from breaking 2 hours. She questioned (OK, it was more of a statement) that it must irk me that I didn’t break 2 hours by doing something stupid.  My response surprised even myself (and folks at my age that takes something). I said I wouldn’t trade the experience I had at the start of the race (getting to lead out a wave and feel like I was at the front of the race) for breaking 2 hours.   I said this knowing it might have been my last, best chance to break two hours (or maybe I will try to break it as part of my 50K next week, you just never know with me sometimes).  This is first time I think I have acknowledged to myself that I am running for the “experience” more than the results.  In looking back at this year I have achieved some results, but I have achieved more experiences.  I think this is partially why my running plans and strategies which look so bizarre to the outside world make some sense to me (OK, and it is partially because I’m a loon, but thank you for not pointing that out).  I know I race too much, and the races are too close together and on my legs which aren’t anywhere near even strength.  Honestly if I didn’t have a “running” blog or Twitter account I might have shut down running for several months after hurting my knee in June. Although I am less likely to break my 10K PR of 41:47 than becoming People’s Sexist Man Alive (OK, maybe that’s a toss-up) I can still have experiences and that is what may be pushing me toward my make your own 50K and 24 Hour races.  That or I am just plain dumb (maybe I should rename this post toss-up Friday).

Flowers to start your weekend.

Pretty flowers to start your weekend.

6. My first hit in T-ball was a home run and I almost started a riot by running over the catcher (the kid was standing on home plate).

7. The long term forecast for Richmond is calling a chance of snow changing to rain. Last time I pulled out of a race was 1997 (good call BTW) but the thought of 6 hours in a cold rain sounds fairly miserable. Not sure what I will do if the forecast holds.  Knowing me, get wet.

8. Have a pigtastic weekend!  Yes, I stole that from you Bill.



Infrequently Asked Questions

One of the mistakes bloggers often make is assume that their audience (that would be you, buster) keeps up with every blog post and remembers it in detail.  Since there are a few readers who are relatively new to the blog, I thought I would answer a few questions you didn’t think to ask. Think of it as a primer that keeps you from going back and reading earlier blog posts. (So what I am really doing is a public service).  Admit it, you were wondering about the monkey blanket and The Pig.

1. What’s up with the monkey blanket?

The first race post on this blog was the Love the Run You’re With.  As part of that race you got a fleece blanket with a monkey logo and I put a picture in the blog.  Someone commented that not every blog had a monkey blanket and term “monkey blanket” stuck.  It makes an appearance from time to time.  If someone (OK, me) did a search on Google for “monkey blanket running” this does come up as one of the top images:

There is no caption that sufficiently can describe the Monkey Blanket

There is no caption that sufficiently can describe the Monkey Blanket

2. Are you a girl or a guy and either way why don’t you post tons of selfies like the rest of civilized society?

People get this confused more often than you would think (OK, more often than I would think).  For the record I am a guy.  This confusion happened more in the beginning when my AVI on Twitter was the same as the blog (R2 has SOOO cleared that up (OK, not really)).  I’m not a big fan of pictures of myself so selfies are somewhat rare, but not unheard of.

This is about the best I can do in proving that I am a guy (well that I willing to do in a family friendly blog).

So here is a rare, but not unheard of selfie.  This is about the best I can do in proving that I am a guy (well that I willing to do I am going to do in a family friendly blog (OK, period)).

3. Why do you have a toy pig and why did you take it to the Canadian Parliament? Does the pig have a Twitter account?

The Pig was a Christmas gift from my brother. Very long story short, I needed to take a picture with a running theme in my office at work.  Since all I had was a pair of running shoes, I thought I would liven the picture up with the pig.  It kinda snowballed from there.    Yes I took the pig to the Canadian Parliament and other landmarks while in Ottawa.  The pig shares a Twitter account and is half of @AbbyAndThePig(I will leave it as an exercise to the reader to figure out who the Pig shares the account with).  More people read the blog for the pig than for my rantings, but since it is a two for one sort of deal, it works out well for me.

Looking cute, or is the pig really mooning my blog?

Looking cute, or is the Pig really mooning my blog?

4. Why the heck are you running a 24 hour race?

I plan on writing a post on this subject later, but basically I thought it was a cool idea before I even knew 24 hour races existed.  We will see how cool I think it is on Jan 2, 2015.

5. Why do you always tweet about your blog being so bad?

If beauty is the in eye of the beholder, there are a lot of seeing impaired people reading this blog. Most blogs build readership by connecting the author and the audience.  Since I don’t really connect with people (either on my blog or in real life) I use humor to pique people’s interest.  My tweets are an extension of that strategy.

Yes, I used the term pique

6. Why do you use words like “pique”?

Because “whet” isn’t as funny unless used in the do the term “do whet??”

7. Why do you insist on putting jokes in the blog that only you get/think are funny?



My Richmond Problem

When I signed up for the Richmond 8K and Marathon back in early May, it was part of a 30 day Challenge I was doing at the time.  I had just signed up to run Marine Corps as my first marathon and needed sufficiently badass sounding to top that.  Richmond had an 8K that started at 7 AM and a marathon that started at 8 AM.  So I figured that I would sign up for both, make my own 50K, and impress the 10 people who were reading this blog at the time. Never mind that at the time my longest run of the previous two years was around 11 miles.  I’d had run the Richmond Half in 2011 and liked the race (even though I did fairly crappy because I was under trained (sound familiar?).

Well the hubris bill has come due and I have two problems because the organizers moved the marathon start to 7:50 and have made it clear to me that once the last person crosses the start they are pulling the timing mat.

Problem 1: Timing Chips

How do I keep my marathon chip from registering at the 8K start and finish lines?  Originally I thought I would have time to swap out bibs, but I think I will have to keep my marathon bib with me during the 8K.  My current plan is to use aluminum foil shielding around the bib (yes, something like lead would work better, but I have to carry it for 5+ miles).  I will be able to test my contraption at the expo since they have a timing mat for runners to test their chip.  If that plan doesn’t work, I will probably just try to hide the bib in the bushes somewhere and try to grab it between races.  Honestly, this is the lesser of the two problems.

I wrote this on Halloween

I wrote this on Halloween

Problem 2 I am too slow

The finish of the 8K and the start of the marathon are about .7 miles apart (up a hill no less).  So I need to run an 8K, get through the finishing shoot, grab my medal (OK, they are likely to hand it to me), get rid of the timing strip on the 8K bib, put on the marathon bib (after unwrapping it from aluminum foil) and haul my considerable butt up a hill and hit the start all in about 50 minutes.


The Pig attempts to keep me from increasing my size by eating my cupcakes.  Taking one for the team (or 2 as the case may be)

The Pig attempts to keep me from increasing my size by eating my cupcakes. Taking one for the team (or 2 as the case may be)

Now for many (most) of my readers this is child’s play.  For me, I will have to run at just over 5K pace.  I’m pretty sure this isn’t how the experts suggest you start a 50K.   In addition to starting fast, I will have to warm up like I was running a short race (read actually warming up with strides, running and all that stuff) vs the lesser (for me at least) warm up I do for longer races.

A part me wishes that I could go back and tell the early May version of me to be a little less aggressive, and tell my 10 readers I would run an 8K after completing the marathon.  My readers would have been equally impressed/laughing at me and my life would be a bit simpler and I would have saved myself the 8K registration fee.  I also would not have to risk telling my blog readers that I can’t even make it to the start of a marathon on time.  But a bigger part of me is glad I am challenging myself and pushing my limits.  Part of running to me is challenging yourself, whether it is just getting out the door to run on a day you really would prefer to sleep in, or to set a new PR (or PB for you peanut butter fans, or PBR (fans of which you know who you are)).

In two weeks we will see what kind of problem solver I turn out to be.



Friday and my ‘Effed Up Thoughts

Well here are more semi random thoughts in semi coherent fashion.  Just remember, you are the folks you wanted me to be more open and talk about myself and what I was thinking.

1. I haven’t commented on the blog about the tragedy in Ottawa, but it scared me to worry about all the people I know there (and there are quite a few) and the reality of such a tragedy occurring somewhere I had visited and run right by during the Army Run only  a month earlier.  Then it saddens me to think of the impact it could have on Canada.  I love the US, but I like Canada because it isn’t the US.  I hope these events don’t cause a longer term change in the Canadian identity because that identity is pretty special.

2. I signed up for my 24-HR Race, Across the Years.  This caused me concern for two reasons:

A. I signed up for a freaking 24 Hour Race.

B. I already had a user ID and password for

Both are equally scary to me considering this time last year my long run was around 4.5 miles.  As part of the registration, I had to submit a bio.  Here is what I gave them:

Marsden has run half marathons, full marathons, a 6 Hour Race, and a race where they gave a monkey blanket out to all participants.

Oh shit, I signed up for this.

Oh shit, I signed up for this.  I really wear a medium these days, but decided on large for some reason.

2. There were several things about Marine Corps Marathon that I found as learning experiences.

A. I spent the last 20 years (since my knee surgery) assuming that I couldn’t run a marathon.  In April I decided to challenge that assumption and it makes me wonder what other assumptions I have made about life are wrong.

B. Although I got smoked by the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, I did look up his final time and I did beat him in the end.  Still, “beat Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in Marine Corps Marathon” is not going on an updated bio for Across the Years.


Hi trail.  Not today, sorry.

Hi trail. Not today, sorry.

C. I need to work on my race walking more because anything beyond 50-60K and I will be relying on my walking skills a lot more.  My legs just don’t have the stamina to run much further.

D. My fueling and hydration plans worked well for the race.  I ate a sandwich the morning of the race and took gel/sport beans every 45 min- 60 min and drank around 80oz of liquid (lest you think that is nuts I lost 5 lbs of water weight by the time I got home).  So hey, I am taking credit for doing something right.  If only I had not put it so low on the list that no one is still reading.

E. Although my ankle did its collapsing trick around mile 11, I was able to work my way around it and it wasn’t a big factor in the run.

F. Eating dinner with other runners made me realize I don’t really notice what is going on around me as much as other runners seem to do.

3. This blog has its best day ever this week and it is the first time I have had more than 100 hits. This is mostly because I had several people with a much larger following than mine either retweeted or commented or my blog post.  In the grand scheme of running blogs it is still peanuts, but hey, I’ll take it.  The post was the MCM race recap and I thought it was a decent encapsulation of my roller coaster humorous/serious blog style.  To give you an idea of the recent spike in traffic, I will end up with more hits in October than the first 4 months of this blog combined.  In other news, DC took the number 1 city spot away from Arlington.  I suspect this is purely because of the # of DC runners looking at all things Marine Corps (or maybe they are just looking for another reason to feel superior over Arlington).

4. While drafting this post I found out a friend of mine from work has uterine cancer.  Sometimes life just sucks.  In times like these I just try and remember that on balance the positives in life outweigh the negative. For the record she is taking it all in stride and I will leave you with words she said today, “If I die tomorrow or 40 years from now, I know I will die having lived my life to the fullest”.  A good way to live life indeed.

Have a good weekend folks and best of luck to those who are racing.