Welcome to DC Marine Corps Marathon Runners

You have been training for months to get ready for the Marine Corps Marathon.  We in DC are so impressed with your efforts that we have made mass transit mostly impossible for your stay just so you can get some extra workouts trying to get from place A to place B (or is it the other way around, I always forget).

So, this is my annual blog post welcoming all the runners coming in from out-of-town to the DC area for the Marine Corps Marathon.  Even the locals may learn a thing or two.  I’ll give you tips and advice that you will find nowhere else.  Of course given the track record of this blog, that is probably a good thing.

First of all I want to apologize to the person who took my advice from a previous year’s MCM blog post and went to the Pentagon, drove up to the front, tossed your keys to the guy with an assault rifle and said “Don’t scratch it”. In retrospect this wasn’t a great piece of advice. Although you lost your car, I hear you made the podium for the Guantanamo Marathon, so at least there was a silver lining of sorts.

What’s the best way to come in from the airport?

The rail system (Metro) has instituted a new program called “Safe Track”. This is code for “We figured out the only way to make this safe is to rarely run trains”.  In fact they will NOT be opening early for the start of the race like they typically do forcing the race organizers to leave the start line open longer (before you avail yourself of this option, think about how well you run in warmer temps since it will be warmer later in the day).

So if you can’t take Metro, you could drive. I would recommend this except that eventually you have to park and although it seems like every street in DC is a parking lot, this actually isn’t the case.

So what about the bus? This would combine the worst of Metro and the worst of driving. Instead of one of these crappy ideas, why not get some last second training in and run in from the airport?  Considering you have luggage, it will make race day seems that much easier.

Any Suggestion on Places to Eat?

Well, I hate standing in line, so avoid anywhere I would eat.  That way I won’t have to stand in line (yeah, the joke isn’t as funny when you explain it (OK, it wasn’t funny anyway but I trying to rescue it by doing a long aside (it’s not working))). I will say if you are looking to spend $1000 a person, I here http://www.minibarbyjoseandres.com/  is good. If you are looking for a blogger to tag along during your meal there and are picking up the tab, The Pig is a very good eating companion.

OK, he is known for hogging the bread

OK, he is known for hogging the bread

Any Suggestions on a Place to Stay?

I would suggest National’s Baseball Park because God knows it’s never busy this time of year (yes I am still bitter). I will say that if any the Crystal City hotels have last second cancellations, being able to catch the shuttle (or walk to the start) is a nice option.

What should I wear for the race?

If I was running the race I would suggest that you wear 50 layers so you would burn up and I would be able to pass you. Since I’m not running, I am just recommending you wear clothes (I told you this was advice you would not get elsewhere).

OK, this is totally useless; do you have any real advice?

OK, if you have read this far, here is a real piece of advice: The first two miles are uphill and you are likely to go out too fast because you are with 30,000 other runners who are pumped up by troopers dropping from the sky and a howitzer to start the race. When you make this mistake, do yourself a favor and don’t charge the downhill at mile 3 like you are storming the beach at Normandy. Your quads and your race results will thank you.

The other thing is that the hill at the end is not fun. Leave just a little in the tank for getting up it and keep on the gas to the finish.

The last piece of advice is for my female readers. The cutest Marine handing out medals is usually the one with the longest line.

Good luck to everyone running!



Post race bling

Post race bling

Best Served Cold

No this had nothing to do with the post, but I wasn't going to do anything to my own shoes (and even The Pig knows better)

No this had nothing to do with the post, but I don’t want to provide any photographic evidence

“Living well is the best revenge” – George Herbert

“Unless it is a runner you seek revenge against in which case screw with their running shoes” – Running Lonely

Sometimes relationships fade and sometimes they blow up like fireworks on the 4th of July (or the 1st if you are Canadian). For the later some people take the high road. For the rest of you, this blog post is for you.

Running shoes are to a runner like the summer sun is to crops–a basic necessity to maintain existence.

So if you want to exact revenge on a runner, what better place than to start than with their running shoes. Now you can be blunt and just steal every right running shoe they own (no style points for that) or you can try one of my more creative suggestions.

Laces Up

The obvious trick is to steal all the running shoe laces, but if you really want to go the extra mile, just snip the ends of the shoes laces toward toes.  This way your ex-runners won’t figure out something is wrong until mid-run and the shoes start loosening up.  If you ex isn’t very bright they will go through this on more than pair of shoes.

Stealing Their Sole

Stealing the sole inserts out of all the running shoes (or all the left ones) will drive your ex-runner nuts.  This of course doesn’t work if the runner wears Vibrams. In that case just cut the forefoot out of one of each pair of shoes.

Pebbles from Hell

Superglue some pebbles into all their running shoes.  They will spend the better part of the next two months trying to shake pebbles out of their shoes to no avail. So when you see them by the side of the road hopping on one foot and shaking their shoe, you know that revenge is yours.


My lawyer <aka The Pig> requires that I remind you that following the advice in this blog may get you arrested, slow your running times, and generally isn’t the type of thing you ever want to admit in public.

Side note.  Thanks to everyone for their well wishes from the last post.  It is much appreciated.

Hope everyone has a Pigtastic weekend!



Replan Time

Boston. This has nothing to do with my plans, it's just a pretty picture.

Boston. This has nothing to do with my post or replan, it’s just a pretty picture.  I could use a vacation though and Boston is a nice place to visit.

You may have noticed recently that my blogging has been a bit more erratic in terms of how often I post (as far as the content goes I am consistently erratic).  I’ve been holding back on you  for a few weeks now.  Well it turns out that my plan B of running the Marine Corps Marathon is blown out the window.  I was all ready (well to the degree that I am ever ready for anything running related (read: I was totally winging it)).  However, I have three skin cancer surgeries in the next two weeks and the middle one requires me to take 10 days off from “Strenuous exercise”. Yes, I actually asked if a running a marathon counts and oddly enough it does even when it is me doing the running (I can only assume they have never seen me run).

You know I’m a runner when the idea of no running for 10 days is more disconcerting than having cancer.

I thought about delaying the surgery until after the race, but, as important as running is, living is slightly more important (now if it were an ultra instead of a marathon, I might have a different view on which was more important).

None of this is likely to be fatal (and for those rooting for my death–#sorrynotsorry) so there is no need for concern.   At the moment my plans are not to blog about getting carved up like a pork loin. This blog is light on the personal aspects of my life (you’re welcome) and there aren’t too many ways to make cancer funny (try as I may). So I think I will stick to my erratic postings.

So starting the 25th I will be taking 10 days off from running (and cross training and anything remotely “strenuous”). I may try to convince my doctor that walking a marathon wouldn’t be all that strenuous, but I suspect he will take one look at me and say “no way in hell”. Maybe I’ll get lucky and my doctor is one of those people who don’t know the difference between a 5K and a marathon.  Maybe I should be smart on my own and just give it up (it’s OK to laugh, I am).

My blogging will likely be a bit more sporadic over the new few weeks.  My funny bone will be in a splint and nobody reads this blog for serious posts (or if you do please comment in the comments section because I would love to know what I am doing wrong).

So, it is time to search for a new plan, as well as a better sunscreen.




Army 10 Miler (2016)

How to try to screw up a race in 10 easy steps (and in the end fail to do so)

  1. Step One- Sign up for a race randomly

I like 10 milers and signed up for this race even though it didn’t really fit in with my race calendar (originally I planned on running a 100 miler at the end of the month) but I signed up anyway.

2. Step Two- Over Train

In the run up for this race I was running 20% more mileage than I usually do (for a race it turns out I not running).  It was totally overkill for a 10 miler and beat up on my legs and made me more sluggish than normal.

3. Step Three- Under Train

My Plan A was 100 miler I haven’t been doing a lot of speed work recently. By not a lot I mean almost none (particularly given the heat of this summer).

So being ill prepared I made my way to the DC Armory (sans Pig because there is ZERO way they are letting him near functional weaponry)  on Saturday to get my packet for the race.  I was able to snag a parking spot in the neighborhood and not have to deal with the Armory parking.  I will say that picking up the packet was super efficient. I walked around the expo but all I bought was some Run Gum.

4. Step Four- Taper my Butt

This is why you do squats. The Pig is bringing home the bacon.

This is why you do squats. The Pig is bringing home the bacon.

Normally I would cut back my mileage and intensity before a race, but the week before I ran the fastest 10K of the year and had more weekday mileage than I usually do.  I even ran the day before the race which is something I almost never do.

Step Five- Have no race plan

Long time readers of this blog are wondering when I ever had a plan going into a race. OK, that may be a valid point, but I all I had was a high level goal (come in faster than I ran Cherry Blossom 10 miler back in 2014) and no real speedwork to back up the plan. Yup, I was in trouble.

I thought about this as I made the two-mile walk from my house to the Pentagon in the rain.

I arrived and made a bee-line for the porta potties.

Porta Potties by the Pentagon (try and say that 10 times fast (it's not that hard I just want people to look at you funny while you say it))

Porta Potties by the Pentagon (try to say that 10 times fast (it’s not that hard I just want people to look at you funny while you say it))

I got there way too early, so I checked my bag, and went over to my corral to warm up. Army 10 miler is a huge race and the waves go off every 8 minutes. The race is so big, 30,000 people signed up, the winners of the race finish before the last wave starts.

I alternated warming up and pit stops (with the 20+MPH wind and the rain, porta potties were actually a welcome respite from the weather).  Finally the helicopters flew over, the howitzer was fired and after the first wave my wave went off.  Fortunately the rain had stopped by that point. Unfortunately the wind had not.

Step 6- Start to fast

Ha! I didn’t start to fast. I will now pause a minute for long time readers of this blog to get off the floor after fainting from shock. Yes, I started at a reasonable pace. In fact my first mile was my slowest of the race (9:24) and only a bit of it was due to crowding.

Step 7- Double Down on The Stupid

At mile one I noticed my pace was slower than I had wanted and that my heart rate was near max.  This was more than slightly disconcerting given that I had 9 miles to go and it was totally unrealistic to hold that high a heat rate for that long. I decided I felt OK and would just take my chances even though we were running into a pretty stiff head wind.

Somewhere around mile 3 there is a slight hill and two things happened simultaneously–my heart rate dropped to something more normal and the hill energized my pace.  I picked up the pace as we went by Watergate (hush, I know what you are thinking) and started to feel good.  Miles 4, 5 and 6 were consistent miles (9:03 each) and I was starting to feel pretty good. But after the 10K point my knee started to ache and I started to think about how long it was to the finish.

Step 8- Think about giving up

Part of my post mile 6 struggle was I knew that the 14th street bridge was coming up and that I don’t have a good history with that bridge (it kicks my butt most of the time (and for those who live in the DC area let’s say I like the 14th street bridge less than I like Hains Point)). I thought for a moment of mailing the rest of the race in but figured that the postage would be too expensive and forced myself to try to keep up my pace.

Step 9- Please let this end

I came up to the 14th street bridge and said “screw it” and picked up the pace.  I decided I didn’t care how I felt. Then quickly my mantra soon became, “please let this end”.  Then a funny thing happened, I actually started to feel a little better. Maybe the 14th street bridge was torturing some other poor soul and didn’t notice me.

I came off I-395 into Crystal City and The Pig was waiting to give me encouragement.  Well, to the degree “Run faster” qualifies as encouragement. However, when Coach Pig says run faster, you run faster (or you find your credit card mysteriously disappears and you get charges from “Pigs on Parade” (don’t ask)).

I whizzed through Crystal City (as opposed to taking a whiz in Crystal City (though I’ve done that before)) and back toward the Pentagon. My new mantra was “Where the %&)@%**! is the finish line”? I tried to hold the pace and eventually did find the finish line (the thousands of runners and a banner that said “FINISH” helped).

I managed a PR (well sort of.- CUCB in 2015 was faster but it was 9.38 miles so wasn’t really a 10 miler so technically this was a PR). It was the fastest I had run since May of 2015, so I really had no complaints (OK, we all know that isn’t true, but I will spare you the whine).

I grabbed some water, ignored the nice volunteers handing out finisher coins, grabbed a food box, walked over to get my bag from bag drop.  Since this is a blog, I felt the need to take at least one selfie.

The wind did my hair (what little is left) no favors. Yes, as soon as Army personnel saw me taking the selfie they ran me off lest I ruin their slogan)

The wind did my hair (what little is left) no favors. Yes, as soon as Army personnel saw me taking the selfie they ran me off lest I ruin their slogan). My BB8 shirt was a hit with the spectators. 

Then I ran the two miles back home to celebrate with The Pig (read drink heavily and eat every carb in sight).

Step 10- Blog about it.



Flat Running Lonely. I threw in the photo for the hell of it

Flat Running Lonely. I threw in the photo for the hell of it. You can go back to whatever you were doing before you started to read this post. Really, there is nothing more. Please go you are starting to embarrass me by  continuing to read on and you KNOW that I don’t embarrass easily. How about we both leave a the same time. One, two,… 



You can’t make this stuff up

I ran the Army 10 Miler today (unless you are reading this on Monday then it was yesterday (no I am not going to go through each day of the week)).

My race report will come out on Tuesday, but I thought I would share an interesting story from the race.

Like many races, the Army 10 Miler pumps up the crowd of runners by playing music (and oddly enough none of my song from Worst Running Songs III made their playlist). They pump the music through the megawatt speakers pre-race and keep playing the music as the 30000 runners make their way over the start line in multiple waves.

My wave started and “Uptown Funk” was playing. About 100 ft or so from the start we start running and right before we get to the start line the song come to the line “Stop, Wait a minute” and simultaneously the runners  come to a screeching halt.  A few of the runners noticed the timing and we got a good laugh at it and charge off over the start line.  If only it had been the liquor part…

You just can make this stuff up.




The Pig waits to coach me up when I run by in Crystal City


Well Then

I’ve been thinking about going back to posting two days a week on the blog. One reason is that coming up with three vaguely humorous posts a week is a pain. I, unlike most blogs, don’t talk about myself very much (trust me when I say I am sparing you). Since the focus of this blog is running humor, there really is a limit to the number of shoe buying or porta potty jokes you can make (211 and counting).

More and more I draft these posts staring at a blank page and it is taking longer and longer to find the inspiration to fill the blank space. In the past I would have an idea of what my next couple of blog topics would likely be  about. Right now I have no clue what my next humor post will be (well there may be the Army 10 Miler which given my running history probably qualifies as humor, but let’s not delve into that).

Some of my lack of inspiration comes from being burnt out on running.  I have been training for an ultra distances for a couple of years now and it is just getting harder to get out of bed in the weekends to crank out a 20 miler (and The Pig is NO HELP in that respect since he sleeps in).  Also, my race calendar is looking bare. I knew I couldn’t pull of Javelina Jundred, but I haven’t replaced it with a new goal.  Although I have a tortured history with races, races give me the motivation to train and right now I have all the enthusiasm of a condemned inmate for running.

Maybe the cooler weather will help. I did have a decent training run this week, so there is that at least.  Maybe that will the springboard to greater things. Maybe I should stop saying maybe and in the words of Nike, “Just do it”.

Yup, when I start quoting Nike for motivation, it is time to reduce the number of blog posts a week.

Hope everyone has a Pigtastic weekend!



Running in cooler weather near my old place

Running in cooler weather near my old place

Running Apps That Should Exist

There are a ton of running apps out there from the normal, Runkeeper (is there a Runloser? (if there was it would be on my phone), to the not quite so normal, the now banned Situationist App (I can’t imagine why one would want a random stranger hug).

However, there are some areas that have no apps at all.  Here are a few ones I would pay to have.

Fast Runner Avoidance

Sometimes I get tired at being passed by every moving object when I am out for a run. There should be an App that warns you when someone fast is around so you can avoid them. Sure, it might send me to somewhere where there is nobody running. Being an introvert that sounds good to me.

 Taco Detour

Ever finish a run and figure out that there was a great taco place you could have stopped at midway through your run? Me neither because there isn’t an app that alerts you to such things.

Bad Air Quality Alerts

Wait, you think, aren’t there already alerts for bad air quality? I am not talking about LA smog, but rather extra grande bean burrito bad air quality.  I’m thinking the App should alert with a “Fire in the hole!”

Superstar Sightings

I noticed when I was in Boston earlier this year I saw Shalane Flanagan running in Boston. I thought that it would be cool (if more than a bit stalkery) to have an app that alerts you when some super star runner is around.  Of course this would be going off continually if The Pig is around so maybe it is just as well this app doesn’t exist.

There needs to be an app to remind you not to do the "Breakfast Club" ending (note the tons of people crowding the course). Go Rice! (said virtually no one ever)

There needs to be an app to remind you not to do the “Breakfast Club” ending during a race (note the tons of people crowding the course). Yes 80 miles in and my feet were barely getting off the ground. Go Rice! (said virtually no one ever). This has to be one of the dumber captions ever (said lots of people often).

So what running apps are missing that you think should be out there? (or would you just be happy if GarminConnect was up on a Sunday morning).



Drop Bags

One of the differences between ultras and short races is the use of the drop bag(s). The idea is that instead of carrying everything you need for 50 miles, you put some of it in a bag and grab it when you hit the aid station (hoping the entire time that you can tell your drop bag from every other blue drop bag out there). There are limits to what you can put in a drop bag. For instance George Foreman grills are frowned upon (stupid race directors).

So with limited space, what should you put in your bag?

Gels and other food

This is a no brainer (which is how even I can remember it). By putting some spare food (gels, drink mix, sport beans, trail mix, those little bottles of vodka you get on airplanes) you won’t have to carry as much food.


The arguments against having a phone in a drop bag is that it could get stolen, rained on or you might not even make it to that aid station and will have to wait for drop bags to be returned before you get your phone back. Plus do you really need a phone in the middle of a national forest where the reception is so crappy your Uber App isn’t likely to work anyway. However, if a Pokeman battle breaks out, you will be ready.

Personally I don’t carry my phone during ultras because I don’t want to crush it when I invariably trip and land on it.

Gauze, KT Tape, Neosporin

Although some aid stations have basic first aid, given my skills at staying upright I find it is a good idea to keep enough Neosporin to bathe in to cover all my cuts.

Bug Spray

You would think I would be a natural repellant, but somehow I attract pests (you could at least seem surprised) so a thing of bug spray can help keep the bite factor down.

Dry Clothes

Always nice to change into a dry shirt and socks after sweating on the trail all day.

Double trouble

Double trouble

The Pig

It’s nice to have someone at an aid station to perk your spirits up. However when The Pig hits on some aid station volunteer and her boyfriend linebacker takes exception you are somehow held responsible. I guess this is an advantage of sorts since you get some extra speedwork trying to flee the aid station (and I have learned how to defend myself with throwing a gel at 20 paces (or a George Foreman grill if needed).

So what unusual items doing you have in your drop bag?



Stats and other made up stuff

Well the Boston Marathon cut-off time came out today and it was 2:09.  So you had to be two minutes and nine seconds faster than your qualifying time for your age group to have made it into the race.

Needless to say I didn’t make the cut-off. Of course the fact that I didn’t run a marathon last year and my PR in the marathon is over an hour and five minutes over my qualifying standard for my age didn’t help me any (well that and I suspect that it helps if you register for the race (not that I will ever get to test out this theory)).

For the record I would have to get down to my 10K PR before I have even run a pace during a race that would be a Boston marathon pace (and that was just over 30 years ago). So, let’s just say the Boston marathon qualifying times isn’t one the things that keeps me up at night.

However, I, being a geek, do find the statistical analysis predicting what the cut-off time will be an interesting study.  There are sites like http://bqrun.com/ that go through all the major feeder races and make a prediction at what the cut-off time will be.  These estimates are updated throughout the year and have thousands of people looking at what the predicted cutoff time will be.

Much like me and my training for my races, they got it all wrong (and they can’t throw cute pictures of The Pig to make people forget).

See, you don't even remember what this blog post is about anymore (which is a good thing because I am just rambling incoherently)

See, you don’t even remember what this blog post is about anymore (which is a good thing because I am just rambling incoherently)

So why did they get it wrong? Any statistical model is only as good as its assumptions. The trick isn’t looking at the feeder races to make a prediction, the trick is figuring out of the people who qualify, how many of them will actually register. In this respect, predicting the cutoff time for Boston is as much a behavioral model as it is a pure statistical model.

However, modeling human behavior is notoriously tricky (think of it as trying to guess what I will blog about (OK, maybe not that scary tricky)). And it is in this area that the models got it wrong. BAA has done a great job increasing interest in their product (the race). The mere fact that there is qualifying standards increases interest. Throw in everyone talking about what the cutoff will be and you get even more interest. More interest equal more people trying to register.

So what’s my point?

My point exited a long time ago.

My point exited a long time ago.

Happy Wednesday. How’s that for a point?



Fall TV Season For Runners

Rumor has is that some of you have friends or coworkers that aren’t runners.  If you happen to encounter one of these individuals they may want to discuss a TV show (which is an odd name now that everyone is streaming it on all sorts of devices but Tablet Show sounds like something out of the Old Testament). Since you are a runner, the last TV episode you watched that wasn’t a sporting event was the finale of Friends (or maybe Game of Thrones but that is basically a sporting event).

Well I am here to help you with those awkward conversations by providing a basic summary of some TV shows so you can fit in with those co-workers/spouse that want to talk about something other than running.

The Flash

A dude runs really fast and makes poor strategic decisions. I know you might be tempted to watch this show to see if there are tips that you can use to run faster. However, it turns out that you need a particle accelerator accident (I’m on my third one with little success).

The Blacklist 

This show is about people caught doping.

Orange is the New Black

A runner decides to try to wear something other than black running clothes. Turns out that tights were not a good choice to start wearing orange.

The Bachelorette

A bunch of sweaty guys hang around the three women at an ultra.

Mr. Robot

 Heck if I know what this show is about. Heck if anybody really knows what this show is about. If asked about this show just say “Is this real?”

Hawaii Five-O

This is about a runner doing a 50 miler in Hawaii.


This Canadian show is about the motivation needed to kill your next workout.

The Late Late Show

No runner has a clue what this is about since we are all in bed by 8:30 pm.

So what are you supposed to do if someone brings up a show that isn’t on this list? Be like me and start talking about your last training cycle. That should drive them away before it gets too awkward.



Like some much of life, I have no clue what this is

Like some much of life, I have no clue what this is