Halloween / Make


Originally uploaded by billjank.

Jake wanted to be an airline pilot. We built his plane out of a 12″ cardboard tube from the hardware store, some 1/4″ plywood, and wrapping paper.

Been a big fan of Make since it launched, and have been trying hard to get Jake and Nate to see the beauty of DIY. The costume was a hit at Mystic’s Halloween Parade. It was exciting for me to see a majority of “made” versus bought costumes.

There were two “Wow, wish I’d thought of that” constructions, though. One was a girl dressed as a princess. The “Wow” bit was the unicorn she was “riding” – it was hanging off of her, much like Jake’s plane, ‘cept it had legs that hung down that she kicked with each step, looking like the unicorn was walking.

The other was a family of 3 kids, oldest Jake’s age, youngest about Nate’s age. They’d converted the family wagon into the coolest pirate ship I’d seen in a while. The hull was wood-look corregated cardboard, like on a school bulliten board; the masts looked like cardboard tubes, with sheets or pillowcases hanging of yardarms as sails. Very cool.

Lazy, Lazy


No, not really.

Well, kind of. Haven’t run since Wednesday, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Been resting and kind of stretching. Those are good things, for sure. Probably will try to do a pair of 5 milers this weekend to see how the old wheels feel.

Speaking of which, I got a mono-cog conversion kit for a Shimano hub for the old trek about a month ago so I can see what the old single-speed magic is all about. Granted, it’s not all hardcore and fixed gear, but that’s ’cause I know I like coasting.

In any case, I stopped by Mystic Cycle Center to see if I could pick up a chain for the new beast. I’ve got a brandy new 8 speed chain as backup for my wife’s bike at the house, but figured I’d check out their new digs. Didn’t get a chain, though. Cheapest they had was $25, which even the guy behind the counter told me was a rip-off. Guess they’ve got a mortgage to pay now. I can understand, but MAN.

BTW, I’m writing this waiting at the elementary school for the wife and boys. There’s a Halloween Ice Cream social tonight.

That’s about it. Liz and my new navy buddy are in my thoughts this weekend as they’re pounding out the Marine Corps Marathon. I’d wish them luck, but both of them are more than ready.

Life is good y’all. Enjoy the fall.

Podcast #4 – And the beat keeps runnin runnin

Podcast #4 (Will sound scratchy – recorded via phone)

Did the gerbil thing after work today. 25 minutes, about 2.6 miles.

Running felt good. Started at 6.5 MPH, about 9 minute miles, but had to slow down to 6.0 after a couple minutes. One of the upsides of the marathon is that I now have exact knowledge of where my achilles tendon and hamstrings are. But that can be solved by stretching.

About 15 minutes into the run, I bumped it up to 7.5 mph – felt great. Held it for about 5 minutes, and then back down to 6 mph for the rest of the run.

Only concern was that my heart rate peaked about 185 during the “fast” part, but I didn’t feel like I was in the red.

Mixed Emotions

There’s no real rhyme or reason to tonight’s post. Up front, I’ve got to say that I’m happy. Didn’t run today, but I will run tomorrow. I’m psyched I finished, I’m unbelievably blessed and know it, and, thanks to my lovely wife, am the happiest man in the world. Tonight, I just want to hash out a couple thoughts in public. That, and try to stay up to see the Astros struggle back.

As one of the wise men in my life said: “(D)on’t let yourself get too blasé over the whole thing.  A marathon is tough to finish.  Marathon training is tough to do.  You’re well on your way to your 6 impossible things before breakfast.  =) ”

I feel great today – even started taking the stairs again at work. Although that was probably defensive against loss of power thanks to the early nor’easter we’re getting. Could have run, but didn’t. Will run tomorrow. Gots to taper again…

Q1. Hindsight being 20/20, I had to ask the question: Would I do a first marathon again? Was the whole thing worth it?

A1. Yes, overall it was. Marathon is, in fact, a huge thing. It’s physiologically at the limits of what people can do, ultras nonwithstanding. There’s a reason the first guy to do it died – it’s a long, long, way. I now know there’s a huge depth of will in my chest that I don’t tap often enough.

Q2. What would you do differently?

A2. Stick completely to a training plan. Not make any excuses to put off or re-arrange the schedule unless absolutely necessary.

Longer long runs, and more of them. I only did one 20 miler. I made excuses for all the 18 milers. And I would have pushed through to about 24 miles.

Better planning on training runs. The “Circle K” water stop plan is nice in theory, but leaves a bit to be desired. Works for cycling, but in cycling, an extra 4 or 5 miles is like scratching your nose.

Set a reasonable time goal. Based on New Haven and my long runs, I don’t think it would have been unreasonable to shoot for, say, a 4:30 or even a 4:20. It’s probably just a personal thing, but finishing is kind of ambiguous for me personally. I don’t want to take anything away from anyone – believe me, I completely buy the “personal race” thing – but, for me, a reasonably fit guy in my early 30’s, with a history of at least attempted athleticism, an affinity for backpacking and manual labor, and a stubborn streak a mile wide, a six hour marathon (equates to between 4 or 5 miles an hour) should be something I could do almost without training, and with a week’s pack on my back. (This theory would also explain why most of my backpacking trips tend to turn into “death marches”.) Your mileage may vary.

Concentrated more on losing weight in May-July. I’m still 10 lbs or so above the top end of my BMI. 10 lbs I didn’t need to carry with me on the marathon. But food is so tasty…

Started with a bigger, better known race. Not to take anything away from the folks who put on Mystic Places or the valiant efforts of my younger brother, but a pace group and a better marked course would have been hugely helpful. Ditto well-known course. I’m still having chills about the last set of hills – dude, I felt mugged.

Continued to cross train. Running just completely burned me out. I said mean things about running, which has helped me through more rough times than anything else. I think I could have gotten away with switching one of the weekly runs for a ride or a swim. And, once I’d logged the 15 miler, I should have done the “short” weekends on the bike (10 minutes of riding for every mile of running scheduled).

Been better about using a course from either the house or the office instead of relying on Jamestown so often. Too easy to keep driving if timing is off…

Q3. So, why the long face, buckaroo?

A3. Partially exhaustion. Largely confusion. A wise man, discussing his own experiences, once said about a major accomplishment “(it) was far from what I had expected.  Its hard to put it out there just yet, but it wasn’t the glorious feeling I wanted.”

You’d think I’d have learned to have more realistic expectations by this point. Top 10% in high school. BS in Engineering and Math minor in 4 years without summer school. Strings of certifications and qualifications in the Navy and real world. MBA. Yet somehow each new thing I accomplish leaves a bigger gap.

In large part, it’s my own darn fault. 33 years old, and I’ve spent most of my life letting other people set goals for me. High School and College were givens. The Navy had a nice career path laid out – I played that as long as it was appealing to me. Since resigning from active duty, I’ve just kind of been floating, looking for someone who could use me, rather than figuring out how I wanted to drive my life.

At the same time, I’ve been somewhat stubborn and obstinate in wanting to find a way to live my life on my terms, instead of trying to listen to the still, quiet Spirit. The next phase of my life is going to try to concentrate on Him more than me. Dedication.

Q4. So, what next?

A4. New York.

After that, I’m not quite sure what I’ll be training for. Likely December to March will be weight loss. I’d like to drop from this morning’s 166 down to 150 before racing next year. Entirely within the realms of health and possibility.

Next year’s campaign is going to be focused on the Terramuggus Tri series. I cannot emphasize how much fun I had last year. Love the bike, love the run, tolerate the swim. Running for sure will include Bluff Point and New Haven, and I may have to squeeze in the trail half-marathon that Chris pimped earlier this year.

Q5. Any marathons?

A5. Not in the near future. I’ve done it – the box is checked, I can now sign my letters “Bill Jankowski, Marathoner” even if I get fat and lazy again.

For the record, that’s not a blanket “No, nuh-nuh, nada, nyet, never, rien.” 48 hours on, and only a dozen or so aspirin down the hatch, I’m kind of happy about the whole experience. But for the near future, there’s a ton of other stuff I’d like to do with the time. Not all fitness related. Actually, most of them not fitness related. And I’ve just got zero interest in sinking that much time into running again.

Q6. Should I run a marathon?

A6. (The following is an option by runmystic, and should not be acted upon without consulting with a physician, a physical therapist, your second grade teacher, preacher, two ex-girlfriends/boyfriends, and a half dozen people selected at random and paid for their effort in a half-day focus group. Any plans hatched after reading this opinion are the responsibility of the chicken who sat on that egg, and the writers, editors, staff, and investors of runmystic accept no liability beyond the price paid for the content. Which, last we checked was running us $5/month for hosting. Which, as a proxy for a shrink, is a pretty darn sweet deal for us.)

Absolutely, you should run a marathon. Why? Because you can. Because it sucks. Because pain is temporary, and can be overcome.

That’s it. Love watching baseball at Minute Maid with Bar in the box behind home plate.

Mystic Places Marathon

A huge thanks to the RBF – You stood by me through my venting, laughed at silly jokes, and, through your continued dedication to your own training programs, have continued to inspire, amaze, and encourage me. Huge thanks to Susan for showing up at the finish – sorry I was far from witty and erudite.

The short of it – I finished. 403 out of 577, 62 out of 72 in my age group. Just under 4:30. My little bro, god bless his heart, finished too. Sister-in-law provided brilliant on-course support, wife and boys were at the finish line, and Jake ran the last 100 yards with me.

The long of it – Continue reading Mystic Places Marathon

Redefining “Bike Geek”

Wired’s got a story extoling the benefits of steel and Campy. Gripes with the story – the guy didn’t take pictures of his “new (to him)” ride.

He’s got a certain point – there are some technologies that evolve until they’re pressing against actual laws of physics, and bicycle frame construction out of steel hit that in the 70’s and 80’s. I’ll buy his gushing about the frame.

But I don’t necessarily agree with his joy over Nuevo Record. Granted, my only experience with downtube shifting is the Suntour stuff that was on my first road bike. But man – STI… I also haven’t had much of an issue with durability on either my 105 gruppo or the Deore gruppo retrofitted to my mountain bike.

Sure, high-end components may be overengineered. But there’s still durability to be had, even in fancy new stuff. Likely at lighter weights than the old stuff, if not the lightest stuff out there.


So – I blew off Sunday’s run in favor of trying to completely lick this left foot thing. Think it was the right decision, the twinginess was almost nonexistent this morning.

Today’s supposed to be a rest day, but after a great day of twitching and wanting to sweat, I got the kids in bed, gave my annual kickback to my undergrad school, and headed off to go swim. Got to the Y and

Darn, no goggles.

guess I’m resting.

Should be sleeping, but there’s playoff baseball, baby! Love watching the ‘Stros at Minute Maid – George and Bar are sitting behind home plate, cheering like the rest of the unwashed. One of the few redeeming things about the Bayou City.

Here’s hoping for two teams in the World Series, neither of whom have been to the Series since 1959 (before there was a team in Houston). I’m going to have to pull for Houston, since they actually play baseball in Houston, instead of the watered down version popular on the South Side, Boston, and the Bronx, where only 8 of the players have to bat. My pop’s going to not speak to me during the series, though – a product of Dwight David Eisenhower High School in Blue Island.

11:32 – Stupid Eccstein – punching a base hit with 2 out in the top of the ninth. I want to go to bed.

11:33 – Eccstein again – stealing second with Edmonds at bat. At least the ‘Stros won’t lose to the Braves again. Though this St. Louis thing is getting old.

11:34 – Lidge goes way inside, almost hits Edmonds. This isn’t really happening. Nope, nope, nope. Choke City got killed in 1994 with the Rockets, right?

11:35 – Lidge walks Edmonds. I should have hit “Post” and gone to sleep 10 minutes ago. Acid in the stomach. Is my ankle twinging? Geeze.

11:36 – Pujols – makes the second grader in me laugh, even though he’s about to plant one in the Crawford Boxes. I may be ill…

11:37 – I was wrong. He hit it over the railroad track, bounced it off the window. The upside? More baseball to watch.

11:39 – Reggie Sanders. Took a huge cut for strike two. Went down looking. I dunno if I can make it through the next three outs without puking. Advertising helps – the first commercial was Gatorade’s “It’s 90 feet to first – no matter where home is” spot; possibly the finest bit of sports writing in the last two years, since Bill Simmons went all California on us (Sorry Jeff).

11:41 – Brief wish I were still drinking – at least I’d have fallen asleep at about the sixth inning.

11:42 – Pujols beats Willy Taveras, Rookie of the Year candidate, to first on a slow roller. One out. Minute Maid is absolutely silent.

11:43 – Jose Vizcaino? Wow. I thought he retired. Is Nolan Ryan warming up?

11:45 – Isringhausen is pitching. Grudzielanek plays in the infield. I wish I had the Card’s contract, per letter, for doing jerseys. Pujols makes another great play at first – two outs.

11:46 – Chris Burke is the last chance to end the series tonight. Granted, he was clutch to break the Braves. Not tonight.


Hmm, this may be the last play-by-play I do for the ‘Stros. Though, got to hand it to the Cards, and Eckstein, especially. It ain’t over till it’s over.

This is what I’ll remember from mile 26 to 26.2…

Meme o’ riffic

David reminded me that Dianna had tagged me for the fifth sentence in the 23rd entry deal. Here it is:

There was a park at Savage Mills along the middle branch of the Pax river that was between the lab and the hotel.

Well, unless we’re not counting parenthetical sentences. If we are, it’s:

Good times.

Which, frankly, I kind of prefer.

I chose not to tag anyone, mostly ’cause this is last week’s meme. Sorry. One day I’ll be with it enough to catch one of these before they’re over the hill (BTW, that’s a submariner metaphor, not an age thing).


I’d like to extend an invitation to folks who might be near Mystic next Sunday to a post-race shindig at our place.

What? Post marathon celebration/consolation
When? Sunday, 23 October, 4 to 7 PM
Where? Chez Jank in Mystic, about 15 minutes east of Rocky Neck State Park (leave a comment, will send directions)
Why? Celebrate fall and running. And ’cause i’m gonna be hungry