Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Last Runs

While I try and figure out a way to write a year recap (been a really busy year) I thought I would share something awesome from last weekend. It has been, for the most part, unseasonably warm. I know one long run it was almost 80 out, in late December. Well, winter is a cunning warrior and was just setting us up. Winter’s distraction tactics are second to none. Little warm weather, holidays, ample food…then pow, hit them square in the jaw. Yes, winter is a ninja, and we forgot it was there. But alas, he has shown himself and the throwing stars of cold air are flying all over the place.

Luckily for me I like the cold weather much more than hot weather. I can put more layers on if need be and it offers a sweet opportunity for ice beards (more on that later). Something about some cold air in the lungs and seeing your breath is rather exhilarating. Also, the near total elimination in spider attacks cannot be understated. So really I was rather excited to see winter make an appearance in something else besides vague foreshadowing in Game of Thrones.  I decided to go ahead and take advantage of this and get some good long runs in. When we started on Saturday it was a balmy 3 degrees with a -9 windchill. Not the coldest weather ever (see: Antartica) but it was a bit chilly. I was glad for that too, I had new cold weather gear to try out. What resulted was an amazing run. 2 hours and around 10 miles later I was still nice and warm. It really was a lot of fun and after about 5 min I didn’t really notice the weather except when I took the gloves off to snap a picture. Oh the punishment we take for a picture.

That night we got a nice dusting of snow. So I was very excited to get out and run again. It was a bit warmer but same general principle as the day before. The run was even better!. 2 hours and around 12 miles in the fresh crunchy snow. I really felt like I was flying. It was amazing. Special thanks to Island Boost For anyone who has not tried it, it's AMAZING. Straight rocketfuel, and tastes great, easy on the tummy, and most importantly…DIDN’T FREEZE! I really didn’t want to stop. This was really a great way for me to kind of wrap up my year (I know a couple weeks left).  Now, if only those spiders would just leave me alone…

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

KC Marathon (The Low)

I came To Kansas City for the KC Marathon on leftover fumes of awesomeness from Hawk 100, trepidation from getting back to this evil concrete, and an overwhelming stench of Vicks. Yes, because my timing is impeccably bad, my body decided this in between month was the right month to run down the list of illnesses sweeping the nation like they were the hot hits top 20 or something. I had some sort of plague flu, some sort of stomach adverseness to eating (which if you know me, if I am not eating it can be safe to assume I am probably beating on deaths door), some violent reaction to breathing and using my throat in general properly. And because my family loves me so dearly, everyone decided that they should pitch in and get sick in KC too, ‘cause they care.
Skora Forms with the loot

So the hotel room was a bastion of illness and little sleep. There was even consideration of packing up and going home. Even after waking I wasn’t sure I should be out there. But instead in the dark and quiet (or as quiet as you can be getting race gear ready in the dark) I got ready. My hotel room looked out of the opposite side from where the race start was so it wasn’t until I got down to the lobby and out the door that I could see the throng of people. It was, jolting. Not the “touched a live wire and now have no eyebrows left” kind of jolt but really a “this is freaking awesome”. I have never experienced a race this large before. This many people toeing the line all at once. It was amazing to see and even more amazing to swim through the people to find some friends and get in our areas to start.

On to the race itself. First of all the course was gorgeous. If you have never been to KC I would highly suggest a trip down. It goes through a cool area of town from the Power and Light district, by the hotels again, up to and out of the War Memorial (incredible in the early morning), through the plaza, through the very upscale neighborhood, then through the not so upscale neighborhood, and back home. It was a scenic route. It was billed as hilly (for around here anyways) but I didn’t think it was THAT hilly. Maybe that’s the recent trail running spurt talking but there were hills and they were manageable. You probably won’t set a PR here if you run other super flat courses, but it was a very solid course. Perhaps the most evil part of this course was running by Gates BBQ while they were smoking ribs. Slight aside, KC is really known for 2 things, fountains and BBQ and you get both on this route. Again, come check it out. You will not be disappointed. Back to the route, the day was also perfect. Cool in the morning, sunny, just warm enough by the time I crossed the finish line.
War Memorial - Not befitting of the awesomeness

I had high hopes for this race despite the fact I wasn’t feeling nominal. My goal was under 4 hours. I had felt good coming out of the Hawk in Lawrence. Well. Things were ok for a while. I was hovering around that 4 hour pace for about 16 mi then I really started laboring. Then it really just fell apart. Started feeling pain in my right hamstring and had to stop and walk. That was really the last thing I wanted to do.  If this was a trail race I would have been running with intermittent walking, but this was not and walking was the absolute death of me. The slower I moved the more things tightened up. I tried to run/walk/run as best as could. It would work for a while until the pain crept in. Slowly I crept towards the finish getting passed by people, encountering other “walking wounded” (that’s another post for another time). Finally getting close enough to hear the finish I had to pass a group of people sitting, tailgating really, with a sign saying “Free Beer if you quit”. That was when I started running and carried me right up to the finish line with many adoring fans lining up to see me finish (sorry what I really meant was a few people left over waiting for others to finish who really wanted me to get out of the way). It was one hell of a feeling to stagger across, grab my bagel and fruit, grab my water, grab my medal and correctly put one my neck and the others in my pie-hole.


But that isn’t quite the end of the story. Another reason I had hoped for a 4 hour marathon was to give me time to shower, get dressed, get the van packed up , maybe stop by the free bbq/beer tent before I headed home. Well, that didn’t really leave me a lot of wiggle room before I was unceremoniously booted from my hotel room. The slower I went the slower I wedged up against that time. Sure enough the margin was too thin and the family packed up and checked out right about the time I was crossing the finish. This meant that no food and no shower. It also meant a stink van ride home. Sorry all involved. That seemed to be the worst part until I tried to get out when I got home an hour or so later…you know, once rigor mortis had set in. Getting out of the car may have been the hardest part of the whole weekend.

Where's the crash cart, with beer?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hawk100 Marathon (High Point)

I like to start my posts off with something funny or catching so that you, the reader, might actually hang around for another sentence or two. I am having a hard time starting this one off. I am quite literally that speechless about what I did on Saturday. In my previous post I stated I had signed up for back to back races. It was time to reap what I had sown.


Back to the North Shore trail around Lake Clinton in Lawrence for me. It wasn’t just the chill in the 5 AM air that had me shaking, I was nervous. The race the week before had shattered any semblance of confidence I had in what I was about to do.  I did take solace in knowing I learned a lot the week before. Eat, drink, pace yourself, be smart. I kept going over that in my head. I took time to go watch the ultra-runners take off for a little extra inspiration. Something about seeing the headlamps dive into the woods like a pack of fireflies was pretty awesome. After that, it was watching the sun rise over the lake that really started getting me amped and ready to go.  By the time we were lining up to start. I was anxious to get going. I felt ready.

This really has nothing to do with the race other than... JESUS LOOK AT THAT THING. I better run FAST lest I get eaten...

This race was completely different from the one before. First of all, the weather was amazing. We started in the low 50’s. A nice cool breeze blew for most of the day. Even at the end it as warm but not “I could catch fire if I trip and hit the ground” hot. It was awesome. As we took off the sun was rising, the mist was lifting, was really quite the sight to behold.

Aww that's just majestic, I bet it was fleeing that hellacious spider.

For me, cause of my terminal case of stupidity, it was imperative that I start in the back. This would keep my ability to go galloping forward to a minimum. The marathoners started with a little out and back loop through what looked like a nature preserve trail. Easy stuff, single file, CONGA LINE!!!! The group kept me in my place pretty well. Next up was Saunders Mound, a little uphill/downhill with a cool top and a cooler view. More conga line preventing my poor pacing decisions. Finally things started to open up and I had the opportunity to show my true colors and outrun myself. Lo and behold, I stayed put. I fell in behind a couple nice ladies that didn’t mind me stomping and clomping behind them (thank you). They were going about the right pace for me not to shoot myself in the foot. I should probably mention right now that my goal was under 6.5 hours. I had no idea what I should expect and I was rather skittish after the week before and it’s, um, horror?

My hands look weird cause I still had the creepy crawlies from that terror-spider.

So apparently I can be taught. I was running within myself. About 5 min of every hour was spent walking. The course wasn’t chock full of hills, so some time was just spent walking of my own volition. It was nice. It was peaceful, and what the course lacked in hills in made up for in good views. The shore line of the lake was magnificent. That was also the hardest part as far as rocks go. It was easy going honestly. I was gliding. It was about 11 miles in that I broke off from the people I was tailing. This was also one of the coolest parts of the course. It was circling up a hill with a bunker (or some structure) built in the side, hence the name bunker hill. At the top we could see across the whole lake/park area. It was exhilarating.


Bunker hill was sandwiched between rest stops. It should be mentioned that the Hawk had amazing aid stations. The food and drink were varied and plentiful. The people were amazing. I got my pack felt up one two occasions to make sure I wasn’t lying about my water situation. The best though was definitely the awesome lady who threatened to give me “angry mother eyes” if I wasn’t eating anything and that she would find me if I wasn’t telling the truth. Ahh, nothing says caring volunteers like motherly threats to eat. They knew me well.  


Coming out of those stops I was about 14 miles in. I felt good, I was pacing well. Then something happened that has never happened to me up til this point. I fell. I was cruising along thinking about lots of things and nothing at the same time when that ghost root snagged me. Down I went, leaving an offering of blood to the trail gods. But thankfully no one saw me so it never happened. Back on the move I went.  And on to the last Aid station.


I had been glancing at my watch from time to time, seeing how I was doing. I was pleased at my time relative to how I felt. Now here I was, about 5 miles from home and pacing well ahead of where I thought I would be. This was a jolt. I took off and ran and ran and ran. It was exhilarating. So exhilarating that when I came to the turn off to go cross the finish line I ran right past it. It wasn’t until I hit a volunteer about a third of a mile ahead that I realized what I had done and backtracked. Back to the turn, out and around the parking lot and down the finish line I streaked. It was…indescribable the feeling of crossing the finish line. The race director asked me how I liked it as he handed me my medal. “Incredible” was all I could think to say. I had done it, and in 5.5 hours no less.  This was a high point for me. First marathon completed and conquered the trail that whipped me the week before.  I even managed to play it relatively smart (minus the running right past the turnoff). 
It would appear the bright green repels SUV sized spider monsters. Well done Trail Hawks.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Skora Affiliate

Just a quick update as I FINALLY finish up my marathon update just in time to finish and write another one. I am now a Skora affiliate. I absolutely love these running shoes. I currently own a pair of Forms and pair of Phases. They are minimal and zero drop. They have really helped my running by helping my form. Helping me to shorten my stride and get away from hard heel striking. If you are interested check them out here and learn how they help you RUNREAL.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

2013 North Shore Trail Half Marathon Recap (See: Hot)

I am a firm believer in the words “There is no try, only do, or do not”.  Thanks Yoda.  I am also a firm believer in this nugget of wisdom from the gentleman scholar Ron White, “You can’t fix stupid”. Right now I feel both apply very well to me.  Shortly after finishing (barely) the Psycho Wyco 20 miler I signed up for the North ShoreTrail Run Half Marathon. The intent was to really push the “no try only do” quote but as I found out, I was really testing the “stupid” quote the whole time and only working my way up to Yoda.


For those unaware, Kansas in the summer is insane at best. We may have 80 degree highs or 80 degree lows. I was very fortunate to have gorgeous weather for my first trail race. The second one, not so much.  I knew it could be iffy signing up for a race in Sept., so I signed up for 2 anyways (more on the other later). Come race day, I realized I should have known better. Highs around 100, 9 AM start, it was time to SWEAT.


So before we get to the flame kissed Sasquatch, let’s talk about the course and other pertinent stuff. I got some decent trail running in before the race. However, this trail was a wee bit different. Very rocky compared to what I had been running. Not devastating, just different footing. Next, it was a bit more flat, except the stairs of impending doom. Those were less than pleasant and thankfully few. Course itself was nice. It ended up being a 2 loop out and back due to some park snafus which may have been a blessing in disguise as people were dropping due to the heat. The race was put on by the local Trail Nerds, and Ben’s races are top notch. The volunteers did a fantastic job tending to the numerous “casualties” from the heat and rocks. I know one person got ambulanced off and I also know runners, a ranger and volunteers did an excellent job helping that person. A gentleman that was in front of me as I came to the finish had a particularly nasty gash on his chin from falling on one of the rocky sections.  We helped him up to the line. The day took its toll.


I was no exception. I started off strong and made it through the first loop strong. There, however,  things started to deteriorate. It was @#$%^&* hot out. Before I said I signed up for a second race. One week after this one I signed up to run a marathon on the same trail. Remember that fixing stupid line? That’s me. But it sounded like fun. So as I went through the gate and back down for the second loop I started thinking should I slow down and save a little something-something for next weekend. I tried to run-walk-run for a while and it just kept getting hotter. Then I slowed down even further. I pretty much walked the last mile and half and that alone was a bear. And not a Winnie the Pooh bear, but a bear-shark from syfy wreaking havoc all over. Finally I got to the finish line pretty much crawling across. I was done. I got my medal, got a drink, and promptly crumpled like a wet towel dropped to the floor.


Generally this is where the race recap would end, but let’s go a bit further, overtime recap if you will. I sat in the shade and watched the walking wounded stagger in for a few minutes. I was legitimately scared for a few minutes. I hadn’t felt this bad for a long long time. And seeing others miserable wasn’t helping. I still had to heft my deflated self up off the shady grass and walk what seemed like 20 miles (.25) back to my car. Got there, poured myself in, and then felt REALLY bad. At Wyco I had drank too much. Not enough electrolytes to balance it out and gotten to feeling miserable. Here, I drank too little and surprise surprise, was feeling miserable. On the way home I had to stop at convenience store to grab some cold water and a Gatorade cause I was shaking so hard. Suffice it to say, I learned another hard lesson. Hopefully next week would be better.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Psycho Wyco Psummer Run Toto Run 2013 Race Recap

So I have made it well known that I am not the smartest of all the upright mammals. A while back in a fit of gross overestimation of my ability I signed up for a 20 mi trail race. The lucky event, KC Trail NerdsPscyho Wyco Psummer Run Toto Run. The real problem with this was 2 fold at the time, 1) I had never run on trails and 2) I had never run close to 20 miles. But hey, I mean, it’s running, how hard can it be right.


Apparently, I am an idiot. I have been training hard for the KC Marathon. Miles, speed, hills, eating right(ish). Well, I am told this is not quite a direct correlation to trail running. I finally decided I need to work a few trail runs into my routine. Unfortunately by that point I was but a few weeks out. And then the panic set in. Why this isn’t the same thing AT ALL. While gloriously fun, trail running is hard. It requires focus that is directly opposite of road running, sort of. On the road I try and zone out and focus on nothing, well except for that semi barreling down the street. On the trail I was focusing on EVERYTHING that could send me flying, roots, rocks, branches, evil mutated horror spiders trying to trap me and kill me. Side note, early morning trail run was incredibly gorgeous except for the shock and awe display mother-nature puts on with her spider army. Suffice it to say, I screamed like a girl more than once and I am in no way shamed to admit it. Anyways, focus, it is required lest you go nose first down a hill. Speaking of hills, they are nothing like the paved gentle sloping roads I run on. They can be steep and tough even for little ones. All in all, I was screwed.


So race day came, I was completely jacked ready to go. If anyone is ever in the KC area, run a Trail Nerds race, just do it. It was amazing. The people are amazing. Most of the volunteers are trail tested and knew what they are doing, the runners are incredible, the organizer is top notch. He is the one the put eh medal around my neck and asked me if I had fun. he also paid for pictures, which I thought was amazing. They are the ones you see in this post. The trail itself was amazing as well. Tough but not impossibly so, especially for a newb like me. It was well maintained and incredibly well marked (One of my fears was getting lost). Like I said, if you can get in the area to do a race, do it, it is worth it.


As far as the race went, I DID TERRIBLE. I think they say that  for trail races you should start slow and go slower. Well, I did that, for a while, ok like 5 min. Once the “conga line” kind of broke up I went into road mode and took off. I did ok for the first lap of two around the lake. However towards the end I was slowing down. Unfortunately the hills were there too so I was trying to save a little something. Well, that was dumb. I should have saved some from the beginning. I got through the first pass and started the second, I was gassed going through the gate.


Then it got worse. Cramps. I fought them from mile 12 to 18 when I got to the last aid stations. The amazing volunteers saw my patheticness amble in and asked if I was ok (I was not). At this point I was really contemplating stopping. I hurt, my stomach hurt, my legs were cramping all over the place, it was rough. They saw I was struggling and suggested electrolyte/salt tabs that they had there. I took some. Magic. After a little sitting and calming of myself I took off again and could move a little bit. Lesson learned. Once again the last mile was hills and it was not what one would call easy. That being said coming down the last hill to the finish line was like nothing I have experienced yet in racing. Never before had I considered walking no less quitting and here I had and here I had fought it off. So thank you aid station volunteers and random runners who urged me on, showed their confidence I would finish, and who made sure I was ok. It was my worst race but also my best race.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cowtown Recap

It's been a while, but I am back. Here is a much much much delayed race recap. So, as expressed before, I am fairly new to this running thing. I have spent the last year building up some meager skills in the running arena. Being the competitive idiot I am, I want to race. Mostly it is to beat my own times in an official setting, but deep down, I like to see where I stand against others. I ran 2 races last year, learned a lot, did ok for what I expected, and kept on training. So as 2013 started, I wanted to see what my training had wrought. Enter The Cowtown.


Papa-squatch offered to fly me down for a runcation. Hang out, do a little running, general merriment. I was excited. Took a couple days off of work, got entered in the 10k. I was pumped. Being a creature of nature I should have known that Mother Nature was not amused with my general excitedness and decided that she had had enough of them shenanigans. To bring me down a peg or two she pummeled us with a double-barrel shotgun blast of blizzicane. I was supposed to fly out late Thursday evening. It was a chance to spend a whole day with the family before fleeing for warmer temps. Well. Instead I got to shovel snow, a lot of snow. For the first time in memory they shut down the damn airport. Flight delayed. So I rescheduled for the next morning, nope. Not happening. Friday afternoon it was then. Got up ungodly early, took off on my trek to the airport. Kudos to the Kansas and Missouri road crews for making things passable. Lo and behold I got to the airport in one piece, met a few people that were going down and were in the same boat I was…stand-by. Sadly, I wasn’t a chosen one so I had to wait til my afternoon flight a few hours and $30 dollar airport lunch later. Finally, FINALLY I made it to Ft. Worth.


Well that was fun. But I was here for a reason and that reason was to run a race. So, we went to the expo and got our packets and wandered around. I had never been to a race with an expo so it was new to me. Got some gear cheap, some free Chobani , some other freebies and went to eat a dinner and get some sleep.  I woke up the next morning early, got fueled up and was ready to go. I didn’t forget anything, got my bib and chip put on, I was ready to go.


It was a great morning out. Sunny, not terribly cold, but not terribly hot either. A great morning for a race and I was ready. The race area was a cool part of Ft. Worth which made for a good route and cool start/finish corral. I got warmed up, pumped up, and lined up. I wasn’t too far behind the big boys who were running for a win, I was just trying to not suck and not die. Looking around, I had never ran a race with this many people.  4108 10k finishers to be exact. This was going to be fun. It was time. Ready, set, GO.  And we were off.


One thing I noticed getting into the starting corral was a lot of kids and coaches, which meant track teams. From the looks of it, anywhere from maybe late grade school to high school and maybe even small college teams. Mix that in with the normal group of runners, walkers, really fast, really slow, there was a wide variety. This would come into play later on. In the mean time, I was cruising along, dodging kids, generally sticking to my own pace. Things were going generally well, I was making very good time. Then around mile 4.5ish or so, it happened. I got chicked.


Now this in itself isn’t that big of a deal. There are tons and tons of females far faster than I am and I am ok with that. But this particular one was all but maybe 11 years old and I am fairly certain taking the speed powerup (pretty sure that is a banned substance) you get in a video game cause she flew right by me. Well, I may be a humble guy, but I still have some ego and pride. I was stung. I picked it up a bit, too late mind you. Well, lo and behold about a mile and a half later this young girl was struggling mightily getting up one of the larger hills at the end of the course. Yes, that's right, I was excited to pass an 11 year old girl. My shame knows no ends. Anyways. Moving on. So I left the girl and my shame in the dust and kicked hard and crossed the line, 44:17. My old PR was in the trashcan much the same as my breakfast was threatening to become. Once I regained composure (not barfy) I found my family and went through the breakfast line. Yeah. Nothing says you almost chunked after your race like fruit and yogurt. It was good.  All in all I was thoroughly pleased with the race and my little part in it. Well done Cowtown. Cannot wait to see ya again.


But that isn’t the end of the story. This was supposed to be a runcation. Well. After running around Ft. Worth all day after the race, I got a call from home with a rather frantic warning of snowpocalypse v.2 currently aiming towards my future destination.  So after some lengthy phone calls with the airline I got my flight bumped and came home early to avoid the deluge. And just as one last little nugget of awesome to remember my trip by, this happened. God bless Texas.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Belated Brooks Pure Cadence 2 Review

My running life really started with Mizuno Wave Rider 15’s. Before that I had been doing elliptical machine work almost exclusively to get back into shape. When I felt that wasn’t enough, I started running, first on the treadmill then a track my in-laws house. The shoes at the time were some K-Swiss tubes and I knew almost immediately that things weren’t right. I searched and scoured and found the Riders and they seemed like a good fit, so I got them. They were amazing. Truly a great starting shoe.  Over time my mileage increased, my pace increased and my knee pain/foot pain increased. It was time for new shoes. For the first time I went into a running store and consulted someone with real knowledge, not just what them wacky interwebs told me about my shoe choices.  He said the Riders would still work for me if I wanted to stay, but there were other options out there if I wanted to try something else. Well, I love trying new things so bring on the shoes.
He brought out a few boxes of shoes and I tried them on. Some being too cushy, some being too stiff, I had a few that I liked, one still being the Riders, and then he handed me the last box. “If you are willing to try something a bit different, try these out” he said. The box he handed me was the Brooks Pure Cadence 2. He told me that they would be less drop, less cushion, a bit closer to minimal versus where I was. I tried them on and something felt right. So, that was the box I walked out of the store with that day.  Now I have around 150 miles on the shoes and I thought a little review/recap was in order since I am already running in other shoes as well, with more to come. Building a nice little rotation.
So my initial reactions of the shoe were interesting. I have never had the “burrito wrap” tongue before. I liked it. The shoe laces had flares on it which I assume (hope) are there to keep my shoe laces from slipping. I still tuck them under some of the crossed laces just in case. That is probably a relic of the 18 mile long Mizuno laces. The most interesting thing I felt when I put them on was that just standing there, I hated these shoes. They felt odd, like I was standing on a ball. No way these would be comfortable running. Argh, this is why I have massive respect for all you guys working in a running store, cause you know what I want when I don’t. I kneel before you in reverence. Jogging around the store showed it to really flatten out and feel great. The toe box was very spacious, didn’t even know that was a thing, or comfy, until then.
There is a piece on the side of sole about midfoot that seems to be there for a little bit of stability. I was a wee bit anxious about this causing problems running. I was wrong for the most part. Occasionally as I got up over about 10 miles I could start to feel that “bump”. But that was very occasional. My one true gripe was the sock liner. It seems like every run at some point it would get a little folded over and become uncomfortable. Then, after a bit, it would up and vanish like a fart in the wind (thanks Shawshank Redemption). It never created a blister or anything and didn’t make me have to stop, but it was an annoyance to say the least and at worst made me alter my stride a bit to accommodate.
All in all, these were very solid shoes and probably a perfect fit at the time for what I wanted and what direction I was moving with my running. Of course I didn’t stop progressing and now my appetite for new shoes is voracious. But I do think that for a new runner or for someone that is really finding their own this is a great option. As well as someone who likes cushion and support coupled with flex, but doesn’t want to be running around on moon shoes.

Friday, March 1, 2013

4 Stages of Pre-Dawn Runs

5 AM: Alarm buzzes, I mumble unintelligible obscenities and flip the alarm off (err, I mean turn it off as alarms cannot recognize middle fingers).  As I look out the window I see a few things. First, a very marked lack of sunlight. Second, cold. Yes I know you don’t see cold, but trust me, I can see it is as cold as those things in the picture outside. Also, warm blankies. So why in God’s name would I get up and do anything when I don’t need to. The answer is simple, I am bat-shit insane. I am ok with that though. To help me cope with that, and maybe help others understand this affliction I have put together my ‘4 Stages of Pre-Dawn Runs’. They are as follows:

Blind Drowsy Rage

What?!?!?! Why in the hell am I up this early when I don’t need to. Oh you’re kidding me, I actually set this alarm? Why? I wanted to do WHAT? Run? It’s like 20 degrees outside, and dark. Come on, it’s so warm in here, and I am tired, and the kids were up late, and I got to work. Aww man, I got to get up and get clothes on? Yep. That is how early morning runs start. Suffice it to say, it takes a bit of willpower to not take a sledge to the alarm and go back to sleep in that cozy bed. Furthermore, now I gotta pack a bit of food and water in too. Ugh. It’s way too early for these kinds of shenanigans. Alas, I am up now, fine, let’s do this. BUT I AM NOT HAPPY ABOUT IT.

Dark Drowsy Denial

I am not really out here starting my run am I? Jeebus it is cold out. Can I go back to bed and get another hour of sleep? Please? No? Fine. Let’s go. Still not happy about it. Man it is dark out, I hope an equally drowsy driver doesn’t mistake me for a Starbucks and drive right through me. I have no rhythm in my strides, even Elaine is cringing at my awkwardness. Man this street is dark, if I don’t make it out of here alive I hope my family knows I love them. So I have started my run and things are still stiffer than a double shot of cheap whiskey, straight, no chaser. Yet still, onward I trudge. At least very few people are out and about to see me lumber along. Oh, and don’t mind me huffing and puffing with morning breath.

Fine, I am Running Now When Can I Stop?

Seriously? I chose this? It’s cold out. I could be sleeping. I haven’t even had my coffee yet. Did I mention it was cold out? What time is it? How far have I gone? Can I be done now? Well, crap I still have to get home. Well, I guess that means I can’t stop. Oh, and it is still cold out. I bet I look like a big icicle. So, I have gone for a good while and begrudgingly it hasn’t been the end of the world and maybe it is almost ok. I keep looking to see when I will be done, but occasionally a few minutes go by where I don’t even pay attention to the fact that I am running. Just know that I am moving and it doesn’t feel so bad. Is it possible that I chose…wisely?

Wow, that was a hell of a run

Wait, sorry, I haven’t been paying attention for the last 15. How far have I gone? And how long? Well that is faster than my average time. So wait, this was a good run? And did you see that sunrise? That was amazing! Yeah. Fine. Ok. It was TOTALLY worth it. Now I am going to have that awesome sore for the day. That one you knew would remind you that you did something awesome. Who needs coffee now? Ok, fine, it wasn’t that amazing. Regardless. I should totally do this again tomorrow…


And so the cycle goes. The 4 stages set to begin anew tomorrow.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Hobo in the Mist

Gather round my children and listen to my tale of the HOBO IN THE MIST….

It was a cool, quiet, dark pre-dawn morning as I pulled into the parking lot. I was the first. Out of the darkness appeared another, and then another, then 2 more, with one final one showing up rounding out our 6. As we gathered and shared pleasantries, I was nervous. I had never gone as far as I had planned to go and wasn’t sure I was going to make it. With that fear lingering like a dog fart, we took off. Into the morning we ran, oblivious to what would come…

We weren’t far into our journey when it happened. Our route took us down a main thoroughfare and then under a bridge to connect to a trail that runs throughout most of the city. What was lurking under that bridge?  It was the horror, the unfathomable…the bridge hobo.  At first it was hard to make out in the greys and blacks of the pre-dawn morning. One of our group had a headlamp and its yellowish tint briefly splayed over the object in question. Nestled up amongst the shadows was a patch that was decidedly not rock. Not fully believing what we saw, we quickly ran past. No matter, the damage had been done…THE CREATURE STIRRED! We had woken the HOBO IN THE MIST.

Oblivious to what terror had been unleashed we moved on, wondering if what we saw was real. It was turning into a very nice run. The sun was rising, cutting through the darkness and lighting the path ahead. The group was lively and moving at a decent clip. And then it happened. Due to prior commitments, they turned back. About half the group returned to brave the creature under the bridge…never to be seen again. (Until next week)

The rest of the outbound journey was uneventful. More bridges but a suspicious lack of hobo nesting. Finally, after just under 7 miles out it was time for me to turn around and face my destiny.   It would be 6.5 long miles back to that point, to that shifting mass of uncertainty. The closer I got the more I worried that I may not make it out alive. And then around the bend I came and I could see it, looming. Under the bridge my eyes scanned the darkness as my legs ached; this was the longest I have ever run.  Would I have the intestinal fortitude to do battle under the bridge?

Hell no. I am not dumb. That dude could be crazy and I was alone. I would prefer to not turn up on a Dateline NBC show. I cut up above ground and skirted the bridge, running across the open street. I could see the parking lot in the far distance so I dialed it up a bit. I LOVE finishing strong. Finally, FINALLY I got to my car. 13.93 miles under shoe I had eclipsed the half marathon distance I had been chasing for so long now.  Of course, as tired as I was, I had 2 young kids’ birthday parties ahead of me.  In the end, I think I would have been safer fighting the…HOBO IN THE MIST.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Shoe Wishlist

I haven't posted for a while (working on a few), so I figured I would whip something up. I am taking the easy way out and making a shoe wish list. I don't know why ANYONE would want to read what shoes I would like to try out, but maybe a shoe company is out there that needs a shoe reviewed or takes pity on me. Maybe someone has used one or more of these shoes and has a few comments to give. Or maybe I am just deliriously optimistic (betting on the latter). Without further blathering...the list:

Skora Running Form R01-002M02 SKORA FORM, Men's Natural

First of all it should be known that I am sucker for a company that interacts with people. I love twitter. I think it is a great medium to interact, even if briefly. Skora has a fantastic social media presence. That alone would make me interested. Their customers have given absolutely RAVE reviews about their shoes. I love their philosophy of "Run Real". Something I am working on in my own running. Another great thing I have heard from others who wear these is that they are absolute energizer bunnies. They just keep on going and going. I definitely like that in a world where 250 miles is the supposed max life on some shoes. Another cool thing about these is the different material on the uppers. Everyone needs more goat skin in their life really.

Altra Zero Drop The One
Altra is another company with a very good social media presence. I appreciate that. I have made a move to less drop to try and get my striking more forward. One thing I am intrigued about Altra footwear is their options as far as the inserts. That seems like a cool feature to be able to adjust accordingly. I am still learning about my running and developing as a runner. Those options would help a lot in my development. This is also another company that has gotten good reviews from most everyone I have talked to. This and the Skora brand are a little less widespread throughout the retail outlets, so they have very generous return policies as well. I like that. However, this shoe doesn't come out until March, so, definitely going to have to wait it out...

My first pair of true running shoes were Mizuno Wave Rider 15 LE’s. I love them, I still have them, and I still run in them occasionally. I also tested a pair of non-running shoes for Mizuno (which hopefully I can/will review later). The company has a special place in my heart as they are one of the major reasons I love running so much. Of course, I am also competitive as hell, so I always want to race. Hence, race shoe! This was one of the first that I read about and the first that I wanted to try. Cannot have a wish list without this bad boy on there. Another shoe that seems very well recommended, with one recommendation being a tattoo of this shoe. That is good enough for me.

First of all, I am sucker for color. As numerous scientific studies (I made this up) have proven, color = fast. Look at it. Just having it on my screen has made my computer process faster. That being said, it is a 0 drop, flexible shoe built to move naturally. I like flexible and I like natural and I like this shoe. And because that just isn’t enough, it actually says ‘bootie’ in their website technology description. The 12 year old in me finds that hilarious. I know and run with a lot of people that are die hard Saucony fans, wife included. Sign me up.


I don’t do much trail running, but I can appreciate the need for a good trail shoe to get ready for them mud runs, or just change pace from the pavement. So I am throwing a trail shoe in here because I have none and would love to get in one to run a few trails near my work/home.
Men's ATV19+ Shoes V53165

Haha, just kidding. I love trying new things, but this may be even a bit too far for me. I really don’t know what I want out of trail shoe, again, as I have not run much on trail. I am intrigued by the Inov-8 Trailroc 245 and the Merrell Mix Master Move. I could also see maybe the Brooks Pure Grit 2 as I currently log a lot of miles in the Pure Cadence 2. Maybe someone out there has some good recommendations as I am not very well versed.

So that is my list, really hoping my budget (kids, they’re expensive) and miles put in allow me to experience a couple if not all of these. I am sure once I do, I will only want to try more.



Monday, January 21, 2013

That's a new year if I've ever seen one

Well, lo and behold, the Mayan's were wrong. We are still here, more or less. There was also a Christmas, a Haunakka, a Kwanzaa, maybe some sort of Pastafarian holiday, a New Year, a like 3 other non-holiday days in between. Each one being more devastating than the next. And again, in the legendary words of Bill Pullman in Independence Day: "We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on! We're going to survive!" That is what I kept telling myself. And the fact that I am here writing this means that either I did survive, or, I have a very social ghost. Either way, it was a struggle. There was running, and injury, and gift opening, and injury, and New Years, and some horrific sickness which was like an injury. Let's take this one at a time here.

Let's start with the running shall we? Right before the holiday-splosion I was doing well. My legs were churning out some good runs. Got all the way up to 11 miles, had some good tempo runs mixed in as well. Life was good. And then, as Dave Chappelle would say, keeping it real went wrong. First, the aforementioned deathness (that is sickness to the second power, so as to be closer to death) arrived. It hit me like Mike Tyson punch. See left for an actual photo of me vs. the deathness. But there will be more on that later. So that kept me in comatose state for like a week. Finally, I got back out on the road (or treadmill). I got some miles in, and then injury. The left side of me decided it was going to violently revolt against this running thing. First it was the left calf, then a tendon on the outside of my left foot, and then my left knee. It was a protest, a bodily Arab Spring if you will. Come to find out, shoes have a life span and mine more resembled Bernie from Weekend at Bernie’s than the shoes I had come to love almost a year and 500 miles ago. Well, we all know what that means...yeah, these babies. Pretty sure I just dropped a nuke on those upstart protesting limbs. Target eliminated. I will have a review up soon for the new kicks.

Speaking of new things, there was some gift-giving occurrence that happened recently. Something about a fat guy, in red, in some flying apparatus? No, not this one, this one. Yes, Santa stopped by my house and left some treats for the little Sasquatches. There was much paper-tearing, some paper-eating attempts, a relatively sturdy bike construction job and an equally successful toddler toy barn raising. I consider it a success and they went bat-shit insane for it all. So. Well done fat red man. Me on the other hand got clothes to be less pathetic in (thank you mom and sister), clothes and aforementioned shoes to be a running machine in (thank you dad and Mrs. Sasquatch), a Nike fuelband + to have imaginary numbers assigned to my awseomeness (thanks mom and step-father and certain coworker), and finally some great freebies from a couple fantastic companies (thanks EnergyBits and Premier Protein, my shameless plug). It was good haul. I was blessed, and very thankful. Sorry, no joke there.

Enough of the happy things, on to the epidemic sweeping nation: The Flu. As mentioned above, some sort of deathness attacked me over the holidays. I am pretty sure I lost the battle and got pummeled on my retreat. I should have seen the ambush coming, my kids both had it. One had to go to the ER on thanksgiving day and the other was so out of it Christmas morning it took her 2 hours to want to open gifts (it was a floodgate though, one rip and bedlam ensued). I thought I had survived the wrath, and I was sooooooo wrong. They (Wikipedia) say that the human body is around 60% water. I tested that theory by wringing every last bit out of my nose. Many trees, or whatever makes tissues, had to die to stem the tide of snot making escape vectors out of my nostrils. And that wasn't the whole part. Fever, there was a fever. Apparently you can have such a fever you hallucinate, because I woke up talking to my grandma that has been gone for over 10 years and then later waiting at the door for a friend, at 3AM. Drugs, we need more drugs, STAT! A face-melting fever wasn't enough, however, as this was a 2 front war. Asphyxiation was the awe to fever's shock. Apparently breathing is more important than I had previously thought. Every time I tried to do it, my lungs decided coughing was a more exciting way to draw in oxygen. And so, for a week and a half, I learned what smokers cough feels like. You will flu epidemic, you win.

And so, in the end, all is now right with the world. It is 60 in Kansas in January, major college football players are making up girlfriends and their deaths, Lance Armstrong went to Oprah to tell us what we all knew already, and KU is still winning the Big 12. So glad things have returned to normal.


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Some GIFs to make these cold winter days more awesome....


...and then dear God this...