Best.Run.Ever 2.0

So, as good as Friday was, Saturday may have been better. Wake up, the wife makes her specialty French Toast (whole wheat cranberry-pecan loaf dredged in cinnamon-vanilla egg mixture, served with some real maple syrup), the boys and I putz around in the yard for a while, and about 10, Missy says “Hey, before you take a shower, why don’t you wash the dog?”

I say, “OK, but why don’t I run first?”

She says “Sure!”

I think “Man, I got the better end of those wedding vows…”

So, I lace up the sneaks, head up the hill through the neighborhood, and enjoy the absolute best Saturday morning run probably ever. Head down Cow Hill Road, bypassing the part of the hill that finally got Warren, and just kind of cruise down to the river. All cylinders are firing, the run is pure – no iPod, no watch, no heart rate. Not much better than this at all.

The cyclists pass me, head down, elbows pulled in, feet churning, and, for once, I’m not envious of them. Something’s snapped inside, I think I may be a runner after all (chances are more likely that it’s just that I’ve hit Mach-S and couldn’t be bothered with envy.

But everything was Holiday Weekend Perfect – after the foggy run yesterday, the sun was blazing, the humidity was up around 90%, and everything was set to get me in the mood for summer. 5.3 miles, pretty reasonable time (I’m guessing about 40 minutes based on the clocks in the house). Not sure if it’s the shoes or what, but for some reason, the body’s clicking. And the scale – after French Toast and the run – told me I was at 165, which I haven’t seen since September or October.

Oh, and in the continuing story of the T-Ball team, practice today was absolutely outstanding. Started off a little inauspiciously – only about 2/3 of the team showed up, which isn’t surprising given the holiday. Warm-up catch and the fielding drills were only middling, but when we plopped the kids out in the field and started hitting and fielding, something clicked, and the boys were digging it. No fights for the ball today at all, the kids were starting to back each other up, and there were a couple of cases where the ball actually got lodged in the mitt to count as a catch.

Technorati Tags: , ,


Wrapped up work a bit after 3 on Friday. Called the wife, told her I was grabbing the kitchen pass for dinner. Grabbed the keys to a friend’s apartment, told him I’d be back to the office to pick him up for supper around 5, and headed for a run in downtown Newport on the holiday afternoon.

The weather was absolutely perfect – cool and foggy; the last, desperate gasp of winter prior to the regularly scheduled arrival of summer on Memorial day weekend, and the legs were there. Rocked Prince’s new album on the iPod; eagerly anticipated the arrival of Nike integration, and the miles just seemed to slip by.

Admittedly, I haven’t been nearly so good about running regularly during the week as I’d like. Pitiful, even. But, there’s something that’s still clicking, some reason why when given the chance I’m blowing out epic runs. I’d like to be on more of a routine, but if this is what I’m stuck with, this is what I’ll take. Plus, the brain’s in a good spot.

Coming off of the Cliff Walk, I spotted a friend up ahead. Surprised her, and we walked a couple blocks to her stylist’s place. Finished the run blowing back through downtown, feeling sorry for folks who don’t live near the ocean. Running in the fog is about the greatest thing ever.

6.75 miles, 53+ minutes.

Technorati Tags: ,

Use it or lose it

So, by my recollection, it’s been over a month since I hit the pool. I finally pried myself off the couch tonight and headed down to the Y after the boys were aslee… in bed, ’cause lord knows they’re not actually asleep until after I am.

And, man, was it tough. I managed to squeeze out 1000 yards (250 breast, 750 free) and my arms were aching. Hmm, guess maybe I should do those pushups each morning…

Still haven’t run again since Monday. But, it’s a holiday this weekend! Break out the flags and charcoal, folks.

Technorati Tags:

Be the ball…

So … Visualization…

There’s a school of thought out there that much of sport is rote reflexes; that training should primarily focus on the physical. (Actually, as far as I know, I’m just making this crap up. But it’s going to sound good, so please bear with)

I’d like to turn that on its head and propose that the biggest value in training, regardless of the activity, is to build a mental database for the athlete of situations, such that the conscious mind can anticipate any potential situation. From the ability to, on a split second basis, be able to develop a theory of how an activity is going to progress, develop an execution plan, begin to carry out the plan, and to receive feedback such that the plan can be adjusted to fit conditions.

Wha? you say…

This evening, the boys are in bed, the sun is still shining, the birds are singing, and I grabbed the mountain bike to chase the last rays of day and get in a quick workout. I haven’t been actually riding singletrack much for about 5 or 6 years, so the last couple of times I’ve tried have been disastrous. But, I’ve come back with a crap-eating grin each time, so it’s not all a lost cause.

Anyhoo, tonight I had my first MTB visualization moment in about a decade. My mind eased into the zone, the deathgrip on the handlebars eased up, and I was flying, ’cause I was picturing myself flying.

The downside to visualization, though, is that it’s easy to get sucked into the vision. The ability to cope and remodel one’s theory of execution is what separates the elite athletes from, say, me…

On the next to last stretch I came to tonight, I was loving life. Spot a newly knocked down , shift the weight, and deal with it…

and the next thing I know, I’m lying on my face in the dirt. The visualization failed to catch the stick that jumped into my spokes…

Man, I love to ride…

Come on Aboard!

I’ll follow you, it won’t hurt the horse…

So, it looks like my next pair of shoes are going to be Nikes. Already went and pre-ordered and everything. “Why?” you ask.” Aren’t you an Asics guy?”

Well, yeah, and I’m just starting to break in a new pair of Gel Cumulii – the finest shoe known to man.

But, even more than being an Asics guy (and probably even more than being a runner), I’m a gadget guy, and this announcement from Apple + Nike today freed up $150 that ought to be going into my new MacBook fund. I’ve been dying for something like this:

  • Information on time, distance, calories burned and pace is stored on iPod and displayed on the screen
  • Real-time audible feedback also is provided through headphones

It’s the audible feedback that’s getting me hooked; that and the promise of having all the data handled when I sync my iPod, a workflow I’m already doing every day. Sure, it’s only 5 minutes or so that I’m saving over breaking out the HRM or Forerunner and keying in the data, but it’s also 5 minutes of not having to think about it.

Bit of advice – if you are going to order, sign up for a Nike online account – you’ll get free shipping on your next order.

So, the rest of y’all can save your money – I’ll happily pay it and see if Lance Armstrong and Paula Radcliffe are shilling for crap.Now, all I need to do is to figure out how to migrate the data from Nike+ over to BreakingTheTape.


Life’s been hectic as of late.

Little back-story: A couple of months ago, I sat down and thought, really thought, about where I was professionally, where I wanted to be, and fleshed out a job description that was realistic and appealing. Not the “if I win the lottery” or the “if I drop everything and spend the next couple of years back at school” job description; this was the “I’ve seen a lot of cool stuff, and know what interests me and what does not interest me” job description. Complete with consideration given for actually having a life the 14-16 hours a day I’m not at the office.

Great mental exercise if you haven’t done it lately, by the way.

Based on that, I fired off a couple of extremely targeted resumes (and by couple, I literally mean less than a half-dozen) and directly approached exactly two people. I didn’t want to shake the boat with where I was – I knew that i was in a good spot professionally, and, absent the moon-shot, I was going nowhere.

Well, boys and girls, the moon-shot paid off. I got the job; started a week ago, and it is looking like all that and the bag of chips. So, I’ve been busting the last two weeks, making sure I left the last company happy, and hitting the ground running with the new position. I’m getting somewhat back into the nuts and bytes side of engineering, which pleases me to no end, while still leveraging my MBA. Somewhat of a step up responsibility-wise, but, since I walked off the brow of USS ANNAPOLIS back in 1999, I’ve missed being “The Man”, and actually having weight on my shoulders. Give a 20-something real power and responsibility early in his life, and you’ve ruined him or her for the rest of their careers.

There was also a little matter of a trip down to Norman, Oklahoma to see my little brother graduate from Law School. Granted, the last thing the world needs is another lawyer; but if someone’s got to do it, I’m glad it’s my little bro. “Doc” (his first two initials are MD, and everyone needs a nickname) is going to be doing title law, specifically for oil and gas. He’s a runner – ran Mystic Places with me, and has done the Austin marathon several times.

The trip was unexpectedly great – Norman is every bit as cool a college town should be, and Oklahoma gave me the same vibe as Texas used to before it went all suburbia – the vibe of the possible and of community all at the same time. Did some good running, and had a great time spending a night camping in the Witchita Mountains Nat’l Wildlife Area.

I took last week off from running. Got to go to the Bluff Point trail race – saw Susan, Dianna, Michelle, and April-Anne (who completely thrilled Jake by wearing #100 and being a school teacher), and proved that my wife isn’t just a figment of my imagination. Our sitter couldn’t get off of work in time to support the race, so I didn’t run, but it was good to go huddle in the rain, and even better to see the rainbows as the sun set.

And T-Ball has been completely great. Practice was rained-out on Tuesday; we had a great time on Thursday, and a good game on Saturday. There’s a ton, ton, ton of energy on the team. If we were playing soccer, this team would be killer. As it is, I’m happy – my biggest job as a coach with these kids is to stop them from all trying to pile on the ball after it’s hit, which is infinitely superior to having to watch it dribble past the kid drawing in the dirt. And they all seem eager to get back on the field each week, which is progress towards the larger goal of giving them a life-long love of sport.

So, next week is a new week, with hopefully less life-related stress. The new job gives holidays on top of vacation – I’m looking forward to my first Memorial Day that hasn’t counted against vacation since 2001.

As an ironic aside, Missy’s been watching the help-wanted ads in the newspaper for the last few weeks. Yesterday and today, after I’ve started the new gig, there were two ads that I could have written as pie-in-the-sky jobs:

1. The New London School Board is looking for a physics teacher, specifically with an engineering background, to start a program at their magnet high school. Luckily for me, they aren’t offering any alternative certification paths…

2. The Cannondale Corp is advertising for a Mechanical Engineer with experience with composites to do frame design at their lab in Connecticut. The ad mentioned something about “passion for cycling”… I wonder if building a plywood/fiberglass/epoxy kayak counts as “experience with composites”. The downside here is that I don’t think I could pay the mortgage at the lowest salary to which Cannondale could get me to agree.

Stupid gift horses…

More than a Tasty Sandwich 2.0 – Giro D’Italia

The Giro’s underway. Paulo Salvodelli, winner of last year’s Maglia Rosa, and the heir apparent to Armstrong on Discovery, took the prologue by 11 seconds (out of an approx 8 minute ride, so pretty powerful), and is starting in pink. The Giro is in Belgium for the first couple of stages, which is kind of appropriate, as Eddy Merckx (a belgian) was the last guy to hold the Pink Jersey from start to finish of the race.  Will Salvodelli? Likely not, but there’s always a chance. Especially this year, where, given the absence of a clear favorite in any race, the whole season’s up for grabs.

In any case, check out the Web 2.0 goodness over at VeloNews’ live coverage.  The same quality play-by-play you’ve come to expect, with real-time GoogleMaps goodness including updates on the position of the peleton. My only question – will they include the location of the breaks?

Ouch… (Well, the good kind of Ouch)

Finally did it for the first time since the marathons.

Ran until I woke up sore the next day. 8.5 on Thursday. 7.5 on Friday. And Saturday was the perimeter loop with Mac, the guy who ran the Marine Corps Marathon, and Ron another guy from the unit who just happens to be our PT coordinator. Both of the guys apologized to me before the run in the event they weren’t able to keep up (the marathon thing carries a lot of weight, apparently), and proceeded to run me into the ground.

No, actually, it was a great run. We all stayed conversational, even over the steep, steep parts of the perimeter road, pushed hard, but not injury hard, and had a great time. Kind of a confessional of sorts between us, admitting that indeed, we all loved to run, and were even closet hippies in that there were times that we wished we could lose the cages and quit burning fossils for transportation. Not a bad way at all to spend an afternoon.

This morning, I woke up with the familiar tightness in the thighs, and the good tightness in the calves. Stretched a bit, stopped for a Tim’s on the way to the office, and decided to be happy with my 20 miles for the week and declare victory.

Hope everyone else had a great weekend. The first t-ball game went better than expected – only had one kid (somehow not mine – I’m still aglow as a proud father) watch a ball roll past while he was digging in the dirt, and only had one fight over who got to catch the ball. But all-in-all the kids were amazing. Everyone seemed to be having a good time. There was the whole “Can I hit first? Can I? Can I?” and the “Oooh, Oooh, can I play pitcher?”, but I count that as pretty much my fault for not making lineups ahead of time.

But I’m excited – We even started working on the concept of “backing up” the teammates – letting the guy closest have the first shot at catching the ball, and the next closest go a couple of yards (meters) behind in case the ball or the throw gets through.

Nobody got hurt, there were no tears. And, the wife remembered to go and get Snack, which, of course, is the most important part of the game!