Baggage

I didn’t run the Hartford Marathon.

Training was going great through the New Haven Road Race – mileage was adding up easy, weight was coming off, life was good.

Then, the summer ended, opportunities in the form of a couple of new job opportunities arose, obligations with social commitments grew, and training just kind of fell by the wayside. Not enough to where I couldn’t have gutted it out and ran another 4:30 marathon. But enough to where I really didn’t want to devote an entire day to another mediocre marathon.

So I bailed. Just flat out didn’t show up.

I regretted not getting to see Dianna and my buddy Doug run, and regretted not getting the sweetest beer in the world in the tent at the end of a long race. But, I got to move tables with my Cub Scout pack. Got to enjoy a fall day with my lovely bride. And a last (and first for this year) dinner at Abbott’s for the year.

And y’know what? In hindsight, I’m glad I bailed.

Not sure if I’m going to register for another marathon for a while. I may train for a few smaller ones that I could run if training goes well, but for the time being, I’ve decided that there’s enough in my life. Running and biking is part of that; committing to a giant race doesn’t have to be.

So, that didn’t suck

Good news, everybody – looks like Sunday’s tough run was due to the flu vaccine rather than anything actually serious.

Yesterday – beautiful day. So, what did I do? Hit the pool for the first time in like freaking forever. Only 500 yards, but pushups and situps after.

Today? Humid but cool. Snuck out of the office before a late lunch, cranked out 4 miles. Felt great. Can’t wait for long run on Saturday.

Finally – USA! USA! USA! I won’t claim to be a terribly knowledgeable soccer/futbol fan, but watching the World Cup(s) is like watching the World Series, Super Bowl, Tour de France, and NBA Finals all rolled into one. You’ve just got to do it – excellence in anything is worth investigating. Regardless, it’s always more fun when the home team’s doing well. And in Brasil, I won’t even have to switch time zones to watch.

Good times.

Posted in Run

The miles flu by

Glorious weekend. Absolutely glorious weekend. Crisp, dark nights, bright pleasant days – just doesn’t get any better than this.

Of course, I worked Friday and Saturday, but still managed to get in a great run Friday evening, and a good run and bike* on Saturday afternoon, followed with some beers with friends in Newport before heading home.

This morning, I woke up early, strapped on the sneakers, and headed out for a run. Three miles in, felt like absolute and complete dog meat. Couldn’t breathe, couldn’t turn over the legs – nothing. Which was very odd, considering A) I’d had a great weekend running last weekend at New Haven 20k, and B) I’d had great but not terribly draining runs the previous two days.

I cut the run a little short, slowed way, way down, and suffered through. Got home, made breakfast, went to church…

About halfway through church, it hit me – my government-provided health care (Navy Medical) had given me a flu vaccine on Saturday afternoon. Me, being the brilliant guy I am, had gotten the spray up the nose, and then immediately proceeded to do 2 hours of pretty solid workout making sure I was sucking that virus down into my lungs. BRILLIANT!

Napped instead of having lunch, still feeling about 50%.

Stupid flu.

*So, the bike ride, as always, was awesome. Riding Ocean Drive never, ever, fails to bring a smile to my face. There was a little bit of breeze out of the southwest on Saturday – not so much that heading south to the point was super tough, but enough so that the ride from the Southwest corner of Aquidneck Island over to the mansions had a sweet tailwind the whole way. 20 MPH without breaking a sweat is always fun.

Anyway, we’re heading down Bellevue Ave back towards downtown, and there’s bumper-to-bumper tourists trying to find parking for supper in a town that was laid out in the 17th century, instead of just walking or riding. Bellevue’s pretty wide, and there’s usually plenty of “Bike Lane” between the cars and the curb – very pleasant place to ride, even in traffic.

Saturday afternoon in high tourist season – not so much. Drivers are pretty happy to give you the gutter when they’re passing you, but when you pass them …

We’re about two blocks from the stoplight on Memorial when all of a sudden a BMW SUV executes a perfect “Right Hook” in front of me. Traffic wasn’t moving, and the driver, I’m sure, figured they could take the side street around the light. Good plan, except he didn’t signal, just threw over the wheel and hit the gas.

I grabbed two fistfulls of brakes, heard the pleasant screech of Contis on concrete, and simultaneously put my left shoulder into the Beemer and unclipped both feet. I hit the car decently hard – good solid “Thunk”, bounced off, and managed to stay upright with my feet on the ground.

To their credit, the occupants of the car stopped, rolled down the windows, and asked if I was OK. Quick check of me (Nothing in pain, a decent amount of adrenaline, no blood) and the bike (No wobble in the wheels, handlebars still aligned), and I said “Yeah, I’m OK – didn’t see you signal the turn” with the “Jerk” left implied.

They asked again, I said “No I’m fine, please signal next time”, clipped back in and rode off.

Takeaways:

  1. Be Alert – can’t be said enough to both cyclists and drivers. Signal turns, know where you’re going to bailout, make eye-contact, check 6.
  2. Practice – Bike handling needs to be learned. Go to a parking lot or field and practice grabbing brakes and unclipping at the same time. Play some hoops or soccer, and practice making contact and staying upright. Jump curbs.

It didn’t make me feel lucky to be alive or anything – ultimately, it was a slow speed bump, not an “accident” or anything. Preventable, sure, probably by both me and the driver, or by better construction of roads – a painted bike lane would at least remind drivers that there may be cyclists cruising past when traffic backs up.

Good to get shaken up occasionally; but also a chance to think about the riders who don’t bounce off the car that hits them.

New Haven 20K / 2014 Bike Epic

Still the best run of the year. No question. Ran with Jon, saw a smiling Dianna at the finish, and I managed to get myself on the TV News talking about beer. Not a bad outing.
New Haven 20K start
The weather wasn’t nearly so flawless as usual, but the course was awesome, only had one person waiting for runners tell me to “F- Off”. But, despite the mist, we lingered on the green longer than we had in years. Youngest kid ran the kids race in a sub-7; oldest kid got caught in traffic in the 5K but still finished in sub-9’s. I managed to finish the 20K in under 2 hours, making 27 miles for the weekend, and showing I’ve got a decent Hartford base. And, I did get Pepe’s Pizza after the race.
Pepe's Pizza Post 20K

Big topic of conversation was how to do a big bike ride, outside of an organized event. It’s a continuation of a thread that I’ve had going on with Jeff and Warren ever since we did Mooseman back in *harumph*.

200 on 100, the classic Vermont Route, is the inspiration. It’s got a couple of great things going for it, such as:

  • being reasonably close to a critical mass of folks with whom I want to ride;
  • having all sorts of great beer on the route
  • Tough course but clearly doable

There is one chief disadvantage:

  • It’s freaking 200 miles
  • (Which is a long, long way)

So, in brainstorming, we came up with the brilliant idea: Why not make it a two day ride?. ‘Cause, y’know, two hilly centuries back-to-back, that’s super do-able.

Right now the rough outline is:

  1. Pick a date
  2. Find a place to stay about halfway up Vermont (Both Canadians and flatland New Englanders coming up)
  3. Arrive Evening of Day 0 (Geeky crews start with a clean register)
  4. Supper, beer, awards, and tea
  5. Wake Up
  6. Coffee and Bacon
  7. Ride to Canada on Day 1
  8. Have our awesome SAG drivers (who will likely be someone’s spouse/significant other) drag our bikes and sweaty us back to our HQ
  9. Supper, beer, awards, and tea
  10. Wake Up
  11. Coffee and Bacon
  12. Ride to Mass
  13. Have our awesome SAG drivers (who will likely be someone’s spouse/significant other) drag our bikes and sweaty us back to our HQ
  14. Supper, beer, awards, and tea
  15. Wake Up
  16. Coffee and Bacon
  17. Ibuprofen
  18. Return home, sleeping as the SO’s drive, and promise that we’ll do what they want on the next vacation
  19. Route map should be easy – “Follow VT 100”

    Anyway, there are details to work out. But, it’s giving me incentive for many more foggy bike rides next spring

    Foggy Bike

Fall (ing)

Man, I have no idea where this summer went. Between vacation, and camps, and not knowing if I was going to be working or not (I’m a fed, so the furlough thing hit close to home. Not in the “Oh my golly we’re going to lose our house” kind of close to home, more in the “Yippee! A summer full of three day weekends!” kind of close to home. Savings rate would have taken a hit, but, hey, who really retires these days?), and a couple other things, I never really felt like I was getting to relax.

More importantly, I never got into the groove this summer of doing bike rides with my lovely bride.

We rectified that this morning – 7 AM, out the door, and rolling down the road.

One of the reasons I love to ride (and only like to run) is that riding isn’t nearly so weather dependent during the summer as running is. As soon as you get moving, the miles just kind of click on by, and the temperature pretty much self-regulates. Make your own wind and what not.

Today was a great day for that. Wet and sticky, not hot in any way, shape or form, but uncomfortable nontheless (love New England summers!). But, once we got going, the weather was nice. Go too fast, and the humidity started choking the oxygen from the lungs. Too slow, and everything just felt damp. But, cruising along, watching the stone walls go past, everything was good.

We pulled into Stonington Boro about the time 7 AM mass was letting out; all sorts of confused by the huge volume of traffic coming over the railroad bridge – wondering if we’d missed a tsunami warning or something while on the road. Did the lap to the point and back, past the cannon that held off the British in 1814.

Back in downtown Mystic, Missy had to cruise on home to get ready for church. I loitered; had a coffee at Bartelby’s, and watched the Sunday morning crowd roll by. Downtown Mystic’s a great place to watch bikes on a weekend morning – there’s everything from the green stickers of bikes refurbished for Mystic Community BIkes (Free bike share for way longer than most places in the US) to the dude who rolled up to wait for a group ride on the Parlee with Lightweight wheels. My favorite, by far, are the tourists for whom this is like their only weekend on a bike, and for whom cruising down River Road (awesome road, next to no traffic, plenty of bikes, runners, rollerbladers, etc, so cars kind of feel like jerks for driving on it) and doing the short spin in traffic on Main Street (lots of cars, but enough pedestrians, parallel parkers, etc that noone honks at cyclists) leaves them feeling like I live in a bikeable community.

Ended the ride with a trip up to Old Mystic and B.F. Clyde’s Cider Mill for a half gallon of sweet cider and a dozen cider donuts. Tucking the cider in my jersey was surprisingly refreshing.

Today was a good day.

I ought to be asleep right now, ready for the New Haven road race, but I’ve been unusually productive today, and can’t quite spin down. Which means I ought to crash hard once I get on the road.

David’s Still Right

I run plenty. Several marathons under my belt, average 15 miles/week most of the year.

But still there are days like today – warm, humid, and breezy, when the legs just work, and I think to myself that I don’t run nearly enough.

Lunchtime run; shouldn’t have been anything special. Rained all morning. I’m in the middle of training for Hartford, pumped for the New Haven 20K, and getting busy as all get out. This should have been a “Get ‘r’ dun” run, not trascendence.

But yet…

I headed up hospital hill for the first time in months, instead of straight up the river. Little later in the day for a lunch run than usual, but, hey, it’s still good to get out, right? Today was supposed to be an easy day.

I’ve been doing my first post-weekend run in New Balance Minimus. It feels like I’m both reducing my chance for PF recurrence by really stretching out my achilles on the first post-long-run day an also increasing it by tempting too much mileage in minimal sneakers (I think I broke myself doing that a couple years ago). So, I’ve built up to about 3 miles at a time in the Minimus, and don’t really want to do more until after the marathon.

Halfway up the hill, I realized I was still running, still feeling strong, and not yet puking. Which didn’t really square with most of the times I’ve run this hill in the past.

At the turnaround point, I checked my watch – 30 seconds/mile faster than I’d been averaging for the last couple months. Interesting. Sweating like crazy, but breathing easy.

Cruised on in with one of the fastest 5K times I’ve had on an “easy” run all summer; <27 min which, while not stellar, makes me happy, and makes me think that this may be a good fall. Long run times are still crazy slow, so I don’t know if I’m going to go for a sub-4 hour marathon.

Anyway, I’m moved to remember Dylan/David’s words (adopted for my masthead) – “You always find joy in running. You should try it more often.”

Middle summer night’s dreams

Great summer so far. I’ve worked a total of 7 days since June. Mostly vacation, part sequester, part taking care of teeth and checkups. (No cavities, good cholesterol, 10 pounds overweight)

Back from Scout Camp this evening. A whole week without beer. Somehow, I survived. Solid work through the end of the year, though. Not sure how I’m going to handle it.

Sad I missed D and Dianna at the Kelley race at Ocean Beach this weekend, but hope I can catch some folks at New Haven or the Hartford Marathon.

Funk, but not really

I’m actually having a great late spring – lots of bike, pretty regular running, and about a swim a week. Weight’s come off a little bit – down 5 pounds, thanks, as always, to MyFitnessPal, counting calories, and not losing the bubble every time I lose a pound or two.

Tough week – A couple of huge deadlines at work, a couple of huge deadlines at home, the end of extracurricular stuff for the kids, and the general middle class, mid-life malaise has made it really easy to stay up too late, and hit snooze instead of getting out for a run in the morning.

Think I’m on the verge of picking back up. Lots of vacation this summer, lots of good projects in the air. I’m pretty happy in general, it’s just a matter of staying off of my butt.

About to start off on a goal – Hartford Marathon 2013. Training kickoff date kind of snuck up on me, but I’m where I want to be – held a 15 mile base all spring, PR on the half at the Vermont City Marathon, and survived the Bluff Point Twilight Trail Race. All sorts of good.

What are y’all looking forward to?

Galloway

So, we’re up in Burlington for the Vermont City Marathon (again). The greatest thing is that there’s absolutely zero pressure this year – Melissa, my longsuffering wife, and I are running the two person relay.

It’s an odd concept to consider, that a half marathon is an “easy” thing. It’s not, of course, for folks who haven’t been wearing out sneakers for a good long while, but Missy and I are both around a half dozen full marathons each. For the record, she’s faster. And base runs each week have included an hour and a half or so for each of us for the last couple years.

Plus, we’re not actually “racing” the relay, though when she ends up posting a faster split than me on Sunday I’ll not hear the end of it.

Anyway, going WAY back, I’m a huge fan of Jeff Galloway. Back in 1999, coming off of a couple years assigned to a fast attack submarine as a professional Steely Eyed Killer of the Deep, Melissa bounced a copy of Galloway’s Book On Running off me one night as we enjoyed our DINK (Dual Income, No Kids) bliss. “Hey, if we do this, we could head down to Orlando to run the Disney Marathon, assuming the world doesn’t end at Two-Thousand-Zero-Zero (Party over, whoops, out of time).

I took a look, and the book made sense – keep using your legs regularly, even if you have to walk a little, and they’ll get stronger. Build slowly, and you’ll avoid injury. All sorts of good stuff.

So, we jumped into the training program, little knowing that our first marathons would end up postponed by a kid, two moves, two career changes, another kid, a war, and general malaise.

After Missy found out we (she, to be completely accurate) were pregnant with J, I stuck with the training program. Check the day, run the mileage, and amazingly it kept getting easier to crank out miles. I topped out the weekend after Veterans’ Day with a 16 miler that I finished without really feeling winded, but then Connecticut winter set in, the reality of traveling to Florida with an extremely pregnant wife became apparent, and we decided to take a pass on the Marathon.

But I kept coming back to Galloway’s book. A huge personal accomplishment – doing something actually athletic is daunting to a bookish, overweight engineer – was broken down into an algorithm that I had evidence could actually work. So, it kept nagging away at the back of my head. Big rides were the first milestones I knocked down – Spent 99-2004 chasing Lance Armstrong’s myth, and went from being amazed I’d ridden the Colchester Half Marathon course without stopping to doing 20 on a regular basis after work, and eventually knocking out a couple centuries in Texas. But even cycling worked on Galloway’s model.

I eventually ran a marathon on Galloway’s plan. And a couple more, though I’ve tweaked the strategy.

This afternoon, I actually got to see the Man himself. He was signing books at the VCM expo. We’d driven up to Burlington early, let the kids skip school, checked into the hotel, and hit the Marathon expo on Friday night instead of Saturday after the YAM Scram.

Galloway was packing up after signing books. Wafer-thin dude, jeans and a long-sleeved tee.

It’s tough meeting a legend. “Hey, you changed my life” or “So, like that book you wrote way back when, yeah, that one was pretty good, and I’ve spent the last decade and a half trying to live up to it” or just throwing myself at his feet in supplication. None of that seemed appropriate.

The general feeling was like back in 8th grade when you finally go up to a girl to ask her to for-real slow dance. Knew I wanted to say hi, but also knew that, late in the day Galloway was probably way more interested in packing up and getting supper. So, I , like many, many others, I’m sure, thanked him profusely for the huge effect he’d had on me. He shook my hand, said something gracious. And much like my first real slow dance, as soon as it was over I ran off to talk to my wingman (in this case #1 son) and figure out how the whole thing actually went.

Despite being a bleeding idiot socially, though, I love this whole running thing. Got to run with Bart Yasso when Missy did Philadelphia through the Runner’s World meetup. Get to train on a daily basis on the same roads that John Kelley and Amby Burfoot cut their teeth on. Meet interesting people from all walks of life through races, training, and the internet. And get to talk about tough stuff like it’s old hat (most of the country still says “Woah” when you say 5 miles).

I got to meet one of my heros today, and tomorrow, like a couple of days a week for the last decade-plus, will be a better day because of him.

April Fool

Brilliant run today.

We’re in the funny time of year where there are three phases of weather.

  • Cold and grey, which is fine, ’cause as we all know, April showers bring roads free of sand and salt.
  • Or it’s brilliant blue skies and freaking freezing, ’cause the folks up in Canadia are still trying to pawn off their excess of winter onto us good, hard working Americans, forcing us to burn more fossil fuels
  • Or, it’s just brilliant. Warm, verdant and green, and a beautiful respite from winter before humidity and tourists set in for the summer.