Jiminy Cricket

You would think that living a life of ultra running and being around The Pig would be plenty exciting.  However, when shopping at my local MOM’s Organic Market I was bored enough to be looking through the energy bars.  What did I find but a new cricket bar.

Cricket like the bug?

Yes, cricket like the bug.  Turns out that cricket protein is a thing (who knew).  Being a sucker for the odd, I thought I would buy one to try. Needless to say, if I was going to do such a thing, why not blog about it (because let’s face it, your opinion of my really can’t sink too much lower and I’m not sure crickets would do the trick in any case).

After looking at the available flavors, I decided that “Coconut, Ginger, Lime” was the way to go (“Cricket Intestines” just didn’t seem my speed (OK, that wasn’t a real flavor)).

Looking at the ingredients, the bar contained both Brown and Acheta Domestica crickets. I know you cricket aficionados are wondering which of the two types of crickets was predominant in the bar, and all I can tell you is that Brown is listed first so I guess there is more of that.  I know I am disappointing the cricket aficionados out there, but all I can tell you is that the disappointment line when it comes to this blog starts WAY in the back).

Yup, it's a cricket bar.

Yup, it’s a cricket bar. As a bonus I get all my essential amino acids.  Guess cricket guts are good for such things.

So it was time to try the bar.  I opened the package, looked at the dark brown bar and

Called The Pig to Try It

Hey, what is the good of having a pig around if you can’t call on him to try new food.  I mean, he IS a pig (though for the record although he will eat anything, he’s a bit of a beer snob).

The Pig tries out the bar first. If he doesn't keel over, then I'm up next.

The Pig tries out the bar first. If he doesn’t keel over, then I’m up next.

The Pig gave his squeal of approval (see what I did there) so it was my time to try it.  So how did it taste?

Kind of Almondy with a slight ginger kick

It was OK, and I lived to tell the tale.  Next time though I think I will try to get my amino acids and 200 calories some way else, though if somebody gave me a free bar I would certain eat one (or let my co-workers try it and tell them what was in it afterwards)

Later,

Marsden

 

Time Keeps on Ticking (History of Timing)

One of the few advantages of being older than dirt is I have seen how running has changed over the centuries (I won’t give my exact age, but instead of age groups, I am categorized by geologic age (Mesozoic currently)). One of the biggest areas of change is race timing.  Here is some of the changes that occurred over the years.

In the Beginning

In the beginning running was about chasing animals, or being chased by animals so timing wasn’t a big thing. Although timing may not have been a big thing, DNF was even a bigger thing because it meant you were some animals dinner.

The Sundial

Soon mankind was running for recreation, but nobody knew how long it was taking to run a race.  The sundial worked for long races (and really slow runners such as myself) but it didn’t work so great for a 5K.

Picture of my garmin saying I should wait 41 hours until my next workout. This was after a 12 hour race.

My Garmin thinks I should rest after 12-hour races. I did listen, but only because I could barely walk.

The Watch

Things got a lot easier with the invention of the watch. Of course unless the start and finish lines were in the same place, you had to get the start time to the person timing at the finish (I am starting to suspect those under the age of 50 are starting to look at this post like a horse and buggy just showed up via Uber). Eventually radios made it so that all the people with stop watches had the same time and you could actually get splits read to you mid-course (and I can only tell you how much fun it was to read 34:15, 34:15. 34:16. 55:00, ha ha just kidding, 34:38… (turns out nobody ever liked that joke)).

The Chip (shoe version)

Then came the automatic timing chip. No longer did people have to race each other through the chute post race (don’t ask) the magic of the chip allowed for automatic timing. Although it had the obvious upside of not worrying about starting toward the back, you now had to worry about a volunteer accidentally cutting your shoelaces while trying to remove the chip.

The Bib Chip

OK, now we are to the point that most of you remember.  Instead of having to worry about the 30 dollar fee if you didn’t return a shoe chip (and no, they didn’t pay you 30 bucks if you returned more than one), they put a chip on the back of your bib.

The Future

What will the future hold? (beer I am hoping) but given the increased emphasis on people cutting courses, I’m thinking GPS chips will be added to the bib chip not only to get your splits but to see if you cut the course.  Well, if they can get the Garmin Connect website to work…

Later,

Marsden

Actually Failure is an Option

So I haven’t signed up for Sole Challenge yet and the race is next week. Two things have kept me from signing up. One, I am still recovering somewhat health wise. I started running last weekend, but I haven’t run over 10 miles in few weeks and the jump to 30 miles is not a small leap (particularly when you are as vert challenged as I am).

Mission Control Center (from the old days)

Mission Control Center (from the old days)

Secondly, I don’t want to fail.  In Apollo 13 Gene Kranz said “Failure is not an option” (side note, he was in charge of my directorate when I worked at NASA and he also when to the same rehab place I did when I blew my knee out).  However, in running failure is largely self defined. In large races failure is a relative thing since most people aren’t particularly close to the top or bottom (I like to say I typically range from the bottom of the top third to the top of the bottom third (there are exceptions like Umstead (like I was going to let you forget me getting an AG victory, ha never))). However, in a smaller race (like 10-20 people) coming in last isn’t out of the question. Now I could lower my risk and sign up for the 12 hour race. I know this seems counter-intuitive (much like most of this blog).  However, the badasses sign up for the 24 hour race, the 6 hour race is full of marathoners who are well-trained, but the 12 tends to have a mishmash of people and 12 hour races play nicely to my one strength as a runner–stubbornly moving forward.  I would like to say I could run a long run pace and be happy with my effort no matter the result. Long time readers of this blog know that even when races go well, I can be hypercritical of myself.  I remind myself that this is a step along the way to a 100 miler, not the final destination, but whether I am listening to myself remains to be seen.

Unless of course by some miracle I podium in the race, then it is totally the end all/be all and the epic pinnacle of my running career (go ahead and laugh, I am),.

Hope everyone has a Pigtastic weekend!

Later,

Marsden

 

 

Running Lonely’s Guide to Summer Running

Oh sure, it snowed last week for many of you, but you know spring is going to last as long my will power not to eat pizza (about 2 nanoseconds) and soon the scorching temps of summer will be upon us. Now in some places summer weather is temperate (mostly the places it snowed last weekend) but for most us, summer is the equivalent of Dante’s Inferno (look that reference up if you must).

Being the helpful blogger than I am (hey, stop laughing), here are my tips for summer running.

Run in the morning

Pros: It’s cooler in the morning. You start your day off with a run. There are fewer people to laugh at you (maybe that last one is just for me).

Cons: It’s morning which means you have to be awake before noon. The humidity makes  seems like you are in a sauna. You won’t stop sweating until you go to bed.

The Treadmill

Pro: You aren’t out in 100 deg F heat.

Con: After whining all winter about running on the treadmill  like a 3-year-old boy who just dropped his ice cream cone, do you REALLY want to run on the treadmill.  Is heat stroke that bad? (answer yes)

Run in the Late Evening

Pros: It’s cooler than mid-day. It is more socially acceptable to have a beer after your run.

Con: Cuts into happy hour.

Run in the Mid-Day Sun

Pros: Good training if you ever want to run Badwater. People think you are a badass.

Cons: People also think you are a dumb ass. Death by heat stroke isn’t the funnest way to die.

Happy sweating!

Later,

Marsden

Think cold (because that always works)

Think cold (because that always works). Leave it to me to put a winter picture with a summer running post.

A Weekend Without a Long Run

As I wrote about Friday I have been under the weather (which BTW who came up with that saying? Can you be over the weather? (well maybe if you are an astronaut in space)). I wasn’t going to do a long run this weekend, and this is the first time in a long time that I wasn’t doing a long run on a weekend but felt good enough to go out and do something.

I got to admit it was a really odd feeling. I think the last time I didn’t have a long run and wasn’t sick was Jan 2015.  So I woke up Saturday with the sunrise and the world was my oyster.

I went back to sleep

I woke up a 2nd time and the sun was still up and The Pig was still asleep (so it was before noon at least). What do normal people do on a Saturday morning? OK, what do abnormal people do on a Saturday morning?  I decided I would go to the Alexandria Farmer’s Market.  I used to go to that farmer’s market when I lived in Alexandria, but not living as close and my long runs being on Saturday I hadn’t been in over a year.  Although I knew I shouldn’t run, I figured some race walking would be OK, so I headed out the door.

And I'm off and it is still AM so I am calling that a win

And I’m off and it is still AM so I am calling that a win

After the better part of a week of not working out much, my legs were a bit wobbly, but I wasn’t trying a full-out effort (though in fact was probably going faster than I should have).  The first thing I figured out was that the farmer’s market was further away than I thought (4 miles).  I decided I would look on the bright side that it would give me an opportunity to get in a good block of race walking practice.

IMG_7860

Actually taking time to take a picture on the Mount Vernon Trail. Still AM and still a win even looking goofy race walking.

I got to the farmer’s market browsed.  I bought some asparagus  and then decided I would go to Sugar Shack to get a doughnut and latte (you know, because I am all about balance).

I walked over the Sugar Shack.  One of the interesting things is what you notice walking an area that you wouldn’t notice running or driving (like there is a new restaurant opening called “Chickpea” which will go out of business because I almost didn’t notice it and I was walking at the time).

For those who haven’t heard about Sugar Shack it’s a doughnut place started in Richmond, VA and has a couple of branches in Northern VA. They make a pretty decent latte and I grabbed a Butterfinger Doughnut to go with it (OK, maybe my balance was a bit wobbly).

A 3 ft doughnut. Just as well The Pig wasn't around.

A 3 ft doughnut. Just as well The Pig wasn’t around (OK it is made of cloth but he would have wanted it to decorate the living room).

I went back home and found it is interesting the different way you look at things walking vs driving (I know, “duh” but sometimes I needed to be reminded of the “duh”).  You see different places (new Ethiopian restaurant about to open and a pizza place I used to eat at closed) but even more so you get a different perspective (the area is building up fast).

I walked by the Porsche dealership and glance at the price tag of a 911.  Turns out I still can’t afford one.  Then I thought about what would happen if The Pig got behind the wheel of one and determined that it was probably just as well.

The rest of the day was spent running errands (I purchased an energy bar with cricket protein so maybe not having a long run makes my thinking even more muddled), pulling weeds, doing core work and other assorted items.  I survived a day without a long run. I didn’t melt and the world didn’t come to an end (surprising I know).

To give this post a happy ending I did go for a short run on Sunday. My heart rate was typically for a slower pace. I picked up the pace for the last 1/4 mile and everything seemed OK so I think I am back on track to resume training.  I haven’t tried the cricket bar yet though…

Ready to get back at it (once I figure out what it is)

Ready to get back at it (once I figure out what it is)

Later,

Marsden

Bleh

So this week has pretty much sucked.  I have been sick. I had a cold that then turned into upper respiratory infection.  Given my pneumonia last year, you can image how happy I was when I started feeling pressure in my lungs again.  Things are a bit better today, but I haven’t run since Sunday and I am trying to keep my mind from death spiraling (i.e. I will never run again and nobody will ever speak to me again and the Pig will leave me for a WAY cooler person (kinda surprised the later already hasn’t happened come to think of it)).

Trying not to rush a return to running. I’m not good at that sort of thing. I’ve heard that you should wait until you are ready to run and then wait one more day. I’m more the “if you aren’t in the grave, get out there” school of thought which hasn’t served me particularly well.

If only I would learn these things.

I am what I drink

I am what I drink

The weather in DC hasn’t been helping (either health wise or mood wise). DC has set the record for the most consecutive days of rain in a row (14 as of drafting this).  Normally it would be OK for me, but the constant overcast has just put a damper on my mood.

Woohoo, of all the things you could have done with your time and you wasted it reading my whining.

So, to attempt to make up for it, I will give you the following joke:

Last night I was going to sleep, looking at the stars and thought…

                                                    Where the hell is my roof???

Hope everyone has a Pigtastic weekend!

Later,

Marsden

 

Photo Finish

We all know that race photos are mostly taken by vengeful exes fully determined to make us look our worst.  Well I have decided it’s time I fight back on crappy race photos.  I have come up with some strategies to improve the biggest weakness in my running game (well, other than the whole running part).

Plan A Bradley Cooper

I will have Bradley Cooper take my place in a few select races and my race photos will be a big hit.  Oh, sure having someone using my bib is wrong, but at least I will get a halfway decent race photo out of the deal.

Come on Bradley, nobody is going to believe it's me if you just "happen" to forget your shirt

Come on Bradley, nobody is going to believe it’s me if you just “happen” to forget your shirt

Plan B Hide

Bradley isn’t always available (no, it’s not just you) and when that happens my plan B is to hide whenever I see the photographer I duck behind the nearest person or throw my hands up in front of my face.

Plan C Own It

If you are going to take a picture, take a picture.  So maybe I will start doing ballet leaps (trust me this is as awful looking as you think), high-fiving other runners, or mooning the camera.

Maybe if I can get Bradley to moon the camera…

Later.

Marsden

Somebody equally doesn't remember to put his shirt on

Somebody equally doesn’t remember to put his shirt on

When I am in Charge

It is the political season here in the US (which come to think of it, it is always the political season here in the US).  It got me to thinking that what is important to runner’s don’t get much traction from politicians. Well, when I am President of the United States there are going to be some changes.

  1. Anyone  would be able to redact bad race photos
  2. Anyone saying “you’re almost there” outside of 100 yards of the finish line would be sentenced 5-10 years.
  3. There would be more beer tents at races (maybe even pre-race).
  4. I would move mountains for runners (so they wouldn’t have to climb them).
  5. No porta potty lines.
This is The Pig and he approves this message

This is The Pig and he approves this message

6. Bart Yasso would be Vice President and would travel the country singing the praises of running (which is what he already does, but being Vice President pays a bit better and the Secret Service detail would be cool).

7. Race entries would be tax-deductible.

8. Running shoes would be tax-deductible as well (and with these two items I would be paying zero taxes, but I’ll throw in other running gear to sweeten the pot for others out there).

9. There would be more national holidays so there could be more races.

10. New trail running path on the White House grounds (hey, my wipe-outs need to be kept from the press)

So what do you think needs to be added to the Running Party platform?

Later,

Marsden

 

 

Third Time is the Charm?

Two years ago I signed up for Endless Summer 6 Hour Race, ran Oddyssey Half Marathon as a tune-up, hurt my knee during the Oddyssey, but managed to recover enough to limp through my first ultra a month later thanks to a monster knee brace.

Last year I signed up for Endless Summer, ran Oddyssey Half as a tune-up, ended up with pneumonia and wasn’t able to run Endless summer.

This year I signed up for Endless Summer but I am hoping the curse is because of Oddyssey because I am skipping the half (and using another 6 hour race as a tune-up, but since Sole Challenge is in PA, if anything happens this year, I am blaming the state of PA).

Here’s hoping the third time is the charm.

Hope everyone has a Pigtastic weekend!

Later,

Marsden

Picture of a beach with the caption "in search of the perfect ultra"

Of course a 6 hour race at the end of July may not exactly be perfect

 

Either Or (not neither nor)

One of the more unusual games I used to play with a co-worker in a former job was coming up with two crappy options and you had to pick one of the options (not neither nor).  For instance “you have to choose– either swim a mile in raw sewage or be branded (we both held our nose so to speak and went swimming (which living in Houston during the 80s probably every open swim I ever did involved raw sewage (and for the record I am talking about the 1980s, not the 1880s in case anyone needs some clarification on that point))).

So how would this game work with running?

Either hearing “You’re almost there” with two miles left in the your race, or two miles into the race.

Either running out of beer post race, or running out of water during the race.

Either running with a stranger for 20 miles that doesn’t speak or won’t shut up.

Either enjoy the picture or not

Either enjoy the picture or not

Either coming in last in a race, or sprinting to beat a 6 year-old to come in next to last. You are wondering if this has ever happened to me and all I have to say is that there are few records from the prehistoric days when I started running.

Either a blood blister on the big toe, or a full body sunburn.

Either having 50 people in the line ahead of you for the porta potty, or using the filthiest porta potty you have ever seen.

Either continuing to read this blog post or… OK, we all know what you will pick on this one.

Later,

Marsden