Summer Blockbusters

When you are a runner, you spend a lot of time of running, working on strength, stretching,  foam rollering, and probably don’t have time to go to the local movieplex and spend 2 hours watching a movie when you could be doing hill repeats, or heck even cross training.  Not to mention, 10-20 bucks that buys more than a couple of gels, so going to the movies is just out of the question.

This poses a quandary though because you are likely from time to time interact with people who don’t spend every waking second running and every dime on running (you are likely to interact, me, I avoid these people like…well they were me and didn’t run).  With these interactions non-runners it helps to go with the flow and be part of the conversation.  However, it is hard to talk about a movie that you haven’t seen, and that is where I am come in.  Here is a short summary of the summer blockbusters.

1. The Avengers- Age Of Ultra

After saving the world yet again from some super bad thing, the Avengers enter a 100K.  Can the Hulk stay angry that long?

2. Pitch Perfect

The story of a person looking for just the right hill steepness for hill repeats.

3. Tomorrowland

Tomorrowland is the time/place when I will return to speed work and will start doing yoga in public.  Wait, that is Neverland.  Never mind, no clue what this is about.  Just talk about the great CGI because that always works for summer movies.

He isn't part of a summer blockbuster, but he is a cute little guy.

He isn’t part of a summer blockbuster, but he is a cute little guy.  Maybe he will star in a film next year.

4. Mad Max-Fury Road

This is what happens when a 5000 person 5K doesn’t have a corral system and everyone is mixed up for the first mile.

5. Inside Out

A movie in super slow motion which goes over how you feel the last half mile of every race.

6. Insidious

This describes the weather every time I go for a long run.

Hope all of this helps!  On the other hand, taking social cues from an introvert such as me may not be the best plan.

Later,

Marsden

The Year So Far (Mid-Year New Year Resolution Check In)

Bloggers love to write “year goals” posts because it gives them something to write about in January when no one wants to run, gives them another post in June to do a mid-year check in and finally one at the end of the year triumphantly declaring how great they did (or just not writing the post if everything went to hell).

Well back in December, I wrote my ambitious set of goals as part of my New Year’s resolutions.  Well it is time to see how I am doing.

1. Set a PR in the half marathon.

Check.  I accomplished this in May on the first attempt.  Probably the last time I try to PR the half though to be honest.  If it happens in the course of training for other distances, great, but I don’t think I will focus on trying to lower my time.

2. Beat my 1775K time from the year before.

Check. I did this by several minutes though in true Running Lonely fashion, I didn’t feel all that great about it.  Oddly enough, that wasn’t part of my goal.

3. Set a 9.39 Miler PR

Wow, what are the odds I would actually run a 9.39 miler?  Well I did and I did PR it (and would have PRed 10 miles had the race lasted that long).

Blossoms from the 9.39 miler.  I miss those days.

Blossoms from the 9.39 miler. I miss those days.

4. Do better at Oddyssey than last year.

Well I did do better, but still managed to have my training halted afterwards (this time by pneumonia instead of a knee problem).

<for those who are smelling a rat at this point, I would encourage you to look at the link above and read all the way to the bottom>

5. Set a PR in the marathon

Well, I was on track…

To be honest if I can restart my training, I should be able to do this.  Hey, gives me something to shoot for during the 2nd half of the year along with:

6. Survive “Swine and Dine”

The Pig, alcohol, and Disney.  What could go wrong?  This may be my toughest challenge yet.

7. Set a 12 HR PR.

This may be one of the goals that mysteriously disappear in the December year-end update.  But hey, isn’t that what goals are for?

Later,

Marsden

Finally Friday (returning version)

So I have been offline for the last week plus.  I had a plague-Ebola-Black Death-Really Nasty Paper Cut combination which put me in bed (with a short detour for the hospital) for the last week and half.  As nasty as the last days were, I will say that running did help me survive.  Here are a few of the ways that running helped:

1. When you have a fever, you sweat a lot and all those tech shirts you hoarded over the years, come in very handy.

2. You have a ready supply of carb drinks and gels when you can’t eat solid foods.

3. 103 deg F fever really isn’t that much different from running in DC summer.

4. Coughing is great core work.

5. Compression socks make a decent makeshift scarf in a pinch.

6. The doctor commented that my running must be doing some good given my heart rate.

So, I don’t know how much I am going to be posting in the coming weeks. I need to slowly recover and get ready for a move at the end of July (and a 6 hour race I am steadfastly (or steadslowly given my condition) ignoring). So things may be bit more random around here.

Here is your Flowers for Friday and I hope everyone has a Pigtastic weekend!!

Flowers for Friday

Flowers for Friday

Later,

Marsden

 

More Infrequently Asked Questions

Well, like summer blockbusters, sometimes a blogger runs out of ideas, so you recycle your old ones.  Last year I wrote a blog on Infrequently Asked Questions and I cleared up next to nothing about me (well, other than I am a guy, and most of you figured that out (or at least the “you go girl!” comments have mostly stopped)).  So here is another batch of questions you didn’t think to ask.

1. Why don’t you do more pictures of the Pig?  He is SOOO cute.

Give a pig and inch, and he’ll take a mile (or maybe it’s give a pig a cm and he will take a km since he was made in China).  Either way, I don’t want the blog to be about the Pig.  I have noticed my Instagram pictures get more likes with the Pig than when I do a selfie.  I am sure that makes my parents proud.

2. You ran a 24 Hour Race last year.  Why not something bigger this year?

Although I did fairly well at my 24 hour race (85.03 miles) I cracked badly in the last 8 hours and I need to become a stronger runner before I try that again.  I will be running a 12 hour race in December which should allow me to gauge my ability to go after a 100 miler or 24/48 hour race in the following year.

3. Are you crazy?

For running a 24 hour race, having a toy pig, or using the word lachrymal to describe my weekend?

Garmin needs to make a smaller version for some animals.

Garmin needs to make a smaller version for some animals.

4. What happened to Canadian trivia?

Well after the pig wars, I went to Canada and stopped the trivia.  Since I am going back in the fall, Canadian trivia might return.

5. Are you as weird as you come across in your blog?

My personality quirks are a curious mix of me being profoundly introverted with an active imagination which usually presents itself in my unique sense of humor.  Or in a word–yes.

6. What is your favorite distance race.

Probably the half marathon though I have an increasing soft spot for the 10 miler.  I basically like running a hard effort, but not so hard as to kill myself.

7. What is your favorite timed race?

I have only run 6 hour and 24 hour.  I have high hopes for the 12 hour though.  It is a time I can run without totally killing myself.  Yes, I worry about killing myself in races.  Basically I like running, but don’t like feeling like crap (or dying).  My mantra is “Please don’t die”.

8. How many times have you sprained your ankle.

I stopped counting around 30.

9. Can you help me with my corrupted data set?

Yes, at 110 dollars an hour.  Truth be told I not worth that for any task (well, maybe pro-rated).

10 .Did you really make me google “lachrymal”?

Later,

Marsden

 

 

Oddyssey Half Marathon Race Report (2015)

Last year when I ran the Oddyssey Half marathon in Philly I went to run it as a long run but in the back of mind I thought I could turn in good time. Then I hurt my knee at mile 3, and then became dehydrated, and then I barely finished the race and spent the entire 3 hour ride home berating myself for my “performance”.

So would this year be "Bad Neus" or would I have an happily ever after ending?

So would this year be “Bad Nues” or would it be happily ever after ?

I returned to the Oddyssey Half Marathon this year, and although my goals weren’t overly ambitious, I figured I could at least improve on my time from last year.  (the race report part of this blog is after the Pig video if that is all you care about).

So on Saturday the Pig and I packed up the car (OK, I packed, the Pig mostly drank coffee and supervised)

So off we went.  I already had my bib sent to me, so I didn’t have to go to the expo (side note, they hold the expo the weekend before the race for the people in Philly and the smaller one the day before the race for out of towers like myself).  Last year when I went to Philly I did the Art Museum, ran the Rocky steps, and generally stuck to that side of town.  This year I decided to go to the area around the Liberty Bell.  Living in the DC area, I come to loathe tourist (or tourons as I like to call them) so it was a bit embarrassing to be taking pictures of this

Sigh, I am a touron. Picture of Independence Hall.

Sigh, I am a touron. Picture of Independence Hall.

I wasn’t going to stand in the long line for the Liberty Bell, but I was willing to elbow some foreign tourist out of the way to snap this pic.

Yes, it is a crappy picture of the Liberty Bell but it isn't great but standing outside on a hot day the day before a half marathon wasn't my idea of genius.

Yes, it is a crappy picture of the Liberty Bell but standing outside on a hot day the day before a half marathon wasn’t my idea of genius. For the record I did see the Liberty Bell as a kid if you are worried I missed out on the experience. OK, no one was worried.

Next I went to the National Constitution Center where they have a copy of the Bill of Rights that I was the only person  viewing because everyone else was taking selfies with the statues of members of the Constitutional convention.

Sigh.

Sigh.

After looking at the exhibits I went to the Jefferson Science and Exploration Museum. It was interesting to look at some of his contributions to science and his attempts to convince his “old world” friends that the Americans was not a wasteland for plants and animals (before my Canadian readers start snickering he was defending you as well).

T-Jeff in the house

T-Jeff in the house

So after being a tourist I went to the Franklin Fountain to get some ice cream.  OK, the Pig was the instigator.

Maple Walnut ice cream is what we had if you are curious

Maple Walnut ice cream is what we had if you are curious

Then in the name of carb loading I had some cheap pizza.

The Pig did share (a little)

The Pig did share (a little)

I will spare you the rest of the evening other that after dinner, back at the hotel the Pig was head banging to tunes to pump me up for the race.

So I got up at 4:30 AM on Sunday, took a quick shower, brushed my teeth, foam rolled, packed the car and it was off to the Please Touch Museum for the start of the race.

I got there, parked, walked about a half mile to the start, warmed up and was ready to start when they announced that there would be at least a 30 minute delay to the 7:00 AM race start because of a “traffic issue”.  So it was off to the porta potty line, more warm up, and a generally cursing the later start time.  I knew the race was going to be warm and humid (it was) but a delayed start was not going to help matters.

Delayed flight time.

Delayed flight time.

Then the race organizers announced they were going to start the blue wave (faster people) and then would start the other waves after that. It was about 25 minutes late.

My game plan for the race was to run something akin to marathon pace and see if I could hold it in the heat (I wilt in the heat like lettuce at the bottom of a container of Chinese food (@midpackbiped I told you I would steal that one, but I will tell people you have a new blog, so consider us even)). The first three miles went a little faster than I wanted (try to contain your shock) and I was averaging around 9:20 per mile.

Elevation profile.  Kick in the pants after mile 5 and that hill at the end feels worse than it looks

Elevation profile. Kick in the pants after mile 5 and that hill at the end feels worse than it looks

The fourth mile was fine but my heart rate started to climb so I backed off during mile 5 and then had to be careful on the hill not to overcook myself and repeat the mistakes of last year.

After mile 6 I picked up the pace a bit, but then hit a sunny patch and dropped right back down in pace to keep my heart rate down.  The course itself is mostly tree line and much of the race is along the Schuylkill River.  It is a  pretty course and I was able to appreciate it more than when I was limping along the course last year.  They also have games you can stop and play along the course (I preferred the “Don’t Die Marsden game” and kept going).

I won’t bore you with the rest of the race other than to say the hill just after mile 12 was more fun this year since I wasn’t about to drop from heat exhaustion unlike last year.  Of course there is a fun limit on a hill right before the end of a half marathon.

I finished in 2:05:57. 737 out of 2433. I was the top finisher with my last name, so I will declare victory.

The good:

1. I was able to run something resembling a marathon pace despite not being a very good warm weather runner.

2. I managed to stay hydrated using a water bottle and stopping at EVERY water stop.

3. The misters at the water stops were very nice to have.

4. I did set a course PR for myself by over 10 minutes.

5. The medal for the race doubles as a bottle opener.

The Bad.

1. My time was 10 minutes slower than my PR.

2. My heart rate got higher in the last few miles than I would have liked (which is nice way of saying I couldn’t have held the pace for a marathon in those conditions which makes me wonder if it is really a realistic pace goal).

3. My cadence was lower than I would like. That has been a problem for my last couple of races and I need to work on that for my fall races.

So after the finish, it was off to the beer tent (free beer glass!), drink a beer, grab my race shirt, and then drive back to DC.

 

The Pig and the race medal

The Pig and the race medal.  I have a better pic of me and the pig, but it didn’t show the race medal.

So all in all I accomplished what I was looking for out of the race and now it’s on Endless Summer at the end of July.

Later,

Marsden

 

 

Ottawa and Oddyssey

To my Ottawa followers, I will be coming back to Ottawa September 11-14 to run the Ottawa Beer Run on September 13th.  It’s a 15K that includes stops at 4 places for beer. Anyone can run a beer mile, but a beer 15K?  Will this turn out to be insanity?  Maybe, but how can you resist beer and running?  Plus, I want to see how the Pig sneaks by customs this time.  Yes, I did check and my training plan does not require any taper in drinking beer the week of the race, so it is all good.

Flowers for Friday

Flowers for Friday

Sunday I will run the Oddyssey half marathon in Philly.  I was going to wear a hydration pack, but the organizers sent out a notice this week that only “small” hydration packs would be allowed and mentioned the number of cops that would be on the course.   Instead of a hydration packs I bring a water bottle and use the water stops on the 2nd half of the course.  Since it will warm and humid (and I wilt in the heat like a cheap piece of lettuce), this won’t make things easier for me, but fortunately I wasn’t trying to PR this race.

My plan is to run the race as a training run in the marathon pace range (or what I think my marathon pace will be).  Of course I am to pacing what Einstein is to MMA so who knows what will actually happen (other than I will go out too fast, I am pretty darn sure that will happen).  Hopefully I will exorcise the demons from last year, or if not, maybe I can can exercise the demons 😉  A course PR would be nice.

What I really hope to accomplish is to enjoy the experience of getting out-of-town, running and getting home in one piece.  I haven’t been outside the DC area since January so it will be nice be elsewhere before I have to get down the business of moving.

So expect a race report on Monday, and everyone have a Pigtastic weekend!

Later,

Marsden

A picture of some random pink flowers

As pink as some of my compression socks

 

The Time I Actually Placed in a Race (like top 3 not 18,076th)

I was thinking the other day that the two things that were left on my running bucket list were to place top 3 in my age group and to run a 100 miler.  While doing some cleaning for my impending move, I ran across some old photos from my trip to Aruba and then I remembered.

I actually placed in a race and totally forgot about it

The year was 1991 and dinosaurs roamed the earth.  OK, future dinosaurs like me roamed the earth.  Some friends work and I wanted to go to Aruba for vacation and we found a package deal where you would spend three nights in Caracas, Venezuela and then spend three in Aruba.

The girlfriend of one of the people on the trip was an avid runner and knew someone in Aruba.  Her friend said he would organize a race down in Aruba for when we were down there.  There was only one minor problem.  She and her boyfriend were to be scheduled to be in Aruba when the rest of us were in Caracas and in Caracas when the rest of us were in Aruba.

Of course the race was scheduled for when she wasn’t going to be in Aruba.  She didn’t want there to be a race without someone from the US being there, so she asked if someone would commit to running the race.

I had been running fairly regularly, so I said I would think about it.  Later I asked if there would be beer afterwards.  When she said yes, I said I would run.

So the time came and I was ready to go to the island.

1. I sucked at air guitar. 2. My sense of style has not improved. 3. At least I don't have to wonder why I am going to die alone.

1. I sucked at air guitar. 2. My sense of style has not improved. 3. I should have paid the money for better looking glasses.   4. At least I don’t have to wonder why I am going to die alone.

So after a fun time in Caracas, it was off to Aruba.  My friends thought I was nuts for going off in the desert to go running instead of sitting on the beach and drinking all day but I was looking forward to actually meeting people who lived on the island and not a bunch of tourist.

I rented a car and drove to the interior of the island where the race was to start.  I knew this was something of a trail race (my one and only attempt at trails so far), and I started to get nervous when I was driving and started to see a cactus filled landscape.

This could turn out to be an interesting trail race I thought.  And by interesting I mean I will be pulling needles from my butt for the next three weeks.

This could turn out to be an interesting trail race I thought. And by interesting I mean I will be pulling needles from my butt for the next three weeks.  Yes, Aruba is a desert (but a nice vacation destination).

I found the house where the race was going to start.  The format of the race was the trail would be marked, but there would be false leads and part of the concept of the race was to work together to find your way along the trail.  As they explained this part to me, I basically figured I was going to get lost in the desert and die.

As we made our way to the start line, one of the people pointed out a small cactus and said “Don’t step on that one, the needles will go through work boots”.  This was worrisome, but even more disconcerting was that most of the small cactus looked very similar and suddenly my running shoes made me feel like I was running barefoot.

There were about 20 people running ranging in ages from about 10-60.  We all lined up, someone yelled “Go!” and we were off.

Since I had zero idea what I was doing, my strategy was to find someone who looked like they knew what they were doing and stick closely to them.  This strategy worked pretty well as we zig-zagged around the desert.  A group in front of us went down one set of markers and the guy I was following went the other way.  We had gone the correct direction and all of a sudden we were the top two in the race.

I kept following closely but he figured out I was following him and he veered quickly to a path on the right.  I didn’t veer quite a quickly and was met by a line cactus that I tried to thread the needle and run in between them.

Frick!!!

I didn’t succeed.  OK, it really looked like I was trying to run over the cactus. Now my legs had cuts up and down them and I had a cactus needle sticking out of my shoulder (which I wouldn’t notice until someone pointed it out post race).  I caught back up to the leader and started to look for an opportunity to pass.  After about a mile in the desert we finally followed a trail which lead back to the road heading to the house where the race started.  I visibly relaxed now that I was back on firm road.  I was right behind the leader and as we came to the final hill, I knew it was my time to pass.  I kicked it high gear…

Why are you all laughing?

OK, I went up the hill with what I had left.  I passed the guy in the front.  All I had to do was turn right, sprint to the house I the victory would be mine.  I turned right and

Hey, where’s the house?

Well it as luck would have it; I should have made a left turn.  By the time I turned around, the other guy, who was not directionally challenged, had passed me and was out of reach.  I picked it back up and finished 2nd.

Well, I have never finished so high in a race before or since.  We all celebrated post race with beer (the international runner’s drink it seems).  I enjoyed actually meeting people who lived on the island and hearing their stories, and got to tell my NASA stories and we all told our running stories.   I didn’t know any of these people, but we were all runners, and it felt like we all belonged.  That is what I remember most, not that I came in 2nd.

So, if you ever wondered if you can do the impossible, I think me placing in a race is your proof that just about anything is possible.

Well, other than me dressing myself in a competent manner.

Later,

Marsden

 

You Know You Are a Runner When

You know you are a runner when you go in for a pedicure and everyone runs away screaming.

You know you are a runner when you ask for GU for your birthday.

You know you are a runner when you can name the top 5 finishers at the Boston Marathon, but aren’t so sure of the name of that person in the cubicle next to you.

You know you are a runner when you use empty Nunn tubes for holiday decorations.

You know you are a runner when you have more water bottles than glasses.

You know you are a runner when you know more people at Runner’s World than in your own neighborhood.

You know you are a runner when you wonder how many kilometers Special K is.

You know you are a runner when you spend more time on perfecting you fueling strategy than doing your taxes.

This blog brought to you by the number 5

This blog brought to you by the number 5

You know you are a runner when you have more pairs of compression socks than dress socks (or in my case use compression socks as dress socks).

And you really know you are a runner when you are still reading this blog post.

Later,

Marsden

 

Frivolous Friday, though not completely

<editor’s note FR those who are looking for the humor piece “it’s the law” just scroll past this post and it will be the next one (If you are in the home page)

The last week has been more stressful than normal.  I had two friends end up in the hospital.  One person was scheduled for surgery, the other wasn’t.  Add that to work stress, move stress, and general everyday me stress and I am wound tighter than a frozen golf ball.  Thank God for the ability to run.

No, I didn’t test frozen golf balls for tightness

Investigating an interesting mystery regarding the blog, or more specifically, how many people are reading this. I noticed about two to three weeks back there was a 50% drop in number of page hits on the blog.  Now, I haven’t raced in a few weeks (and that does drive traffic (don’t ask me why since I am hardly a speedster)) but the numbers were WAY off according to the WordPress stats.  Then I looked at the Google Analytics  and the numbers were around normal (~1500 a month if you are curious (well it is the number even aren’t curious)).  It seems that the difference is mostly where the city and language of the reader is “not set”. However, the country is set as the US.  Most likely a bot (though why a bot would spend a minute on a page is beyond me). The mystery will give me something to look at in more detail because I love a good mystery. Here are the top 9 cities that are viewing the blog these days (removing the famed “not-set”).

Chicago is new to the list.  I used to live in Naperville (a far west suburb of Chicago).

Chicago is new to the list. I used to live in Naperville (a far west suburb of Chicago).

This weekend I hope to run 14 miles on Saturday and 5-6 on Sunday.  I’m signed up for Oddyssey Half the following week, but I don’t think it will be PR weather, so I don’t think I will be putting in PR effort.  A sorta taper is in order for next week, but decided keep my long run long this week and just suffer the consequences.

So the moment you all have been waiting for:

Picture of yellow tulips

Flowers for Friday. Tip toe through these babies.
I’m such a dork.

Everyone have a Pigtastic weekend!

Later,

Marsden

Bonus Flowers for Friday with no nimrod caption

Bonus Flowers for Friday with no nimrod caption

It’s the Law

I know I am not the most law-abiding citizen on the planet, but some of the laws of running seem to bite me in the ass more often than not.   Here are a few of the running laws that I have run afoul of over the years.

First Law Of Thermodynamics

The second you put on gloves, you will have to pee.

 Law of Diminishing Returns

The probability of determining that a running item doesn’t work for you increases exponentially after the return deadline has passed.

Law of Attraction

The porta potty line that is the shortest will only contain people who take forever in the bathroom.  The corollary to this law is that the need of going to the bathroom is inversely proportional to length of the line.

e equals MC HAMMER Ok, it is a lame joke, so sue me.  Actually don't.

I may be the only one who reads this blog that is old enough to get this joke. For my UK readers you can order this shirt from nerdtshirtsuk (I figured if I was going to steal their shirt design, I should give them a plug).  Once again I have managed to have the caption of a picture be longer than the rest of the blog. Whoop!

Benford’s law, also known as the First-Digit Law

This is the law that  some people think that OK to come to a dead stop right in front of you during a race.  This law includes the reaction of the “first-digit” (which this case is the middle one).

The Second Law of Thermodynamics

You will not need an article of clothing until you have tossed it on the side of the road.

Law of Auditory Exclusion

It is a little known fact that the Star Spangle Banner is at such an auditory frequency that is causes a runner to remember what key piece of running equipment they forgot (like Nip Guards, a scrunchie, or running shorts).

Law of Laws

At least one person you know will get away with breaking all of these laws.  You will hate them, and that’s OK, because…it’s the law.

Later,

Marsden