Monday, January 20, 2014

Sometimes Weathermen Lie

Some runners biggest enemies are weathermen.  This is through fault of their own. These same runners should realize by now they can not control the weather.  Regardless of how many times you try to sell your soul to Mother Nature, she is going to be a bitch sometimes, so get over it and just run. Or don't run cause she won't care either way.

Now I know I opened up things a little harsh here but c'mon guys/gals, don't get all worked up over the weather. Don't sweat the things you can't control. You work yourself up before you even get to the starting line. Worry about shit you can control like the right pair of shoes, shaving, eating pasta in the shuttle bus, clean undies, breath mints and the runs.

Having said that, the weather (10 days out) for the Jacksonville marathon was to be in the low 40's at race start warming to the low 60's.  That was ten days out.  Did you get that? TEN DAYS OUT.  The only guarantee ten days out weather related is that it will be light and then dark and maybe not even in that order. That. Is. It.

The runners I know were excited.  The weather was going to be ideal.  All those long runs starting at 4 am were finally going to pay off. Dreams of BQ'ing were in the eyes of some. PR's for others. Trips to Goodwill and Salvation Army were in the near future to get those cold weather throw away clothes.

Well wouldn't you know it, Mother Nature decided to show us who is boss.  The weather predictions changed way off course.  Something called a cold front decided to slow down a little and not make an appearance in Jacksonville until race night. Race morning would be high 60's and high humidity with a 70% chance of rain. Sweet.  I could hear all the cussing and crying across the BRA airwaves.

Race morning had arrived.  The BRA group met at the host hotel to ride the shuttle bus to the start.  It's been awhile since I have been on a school bus. The trip didn't take that long. I have to give it to the organizers. Convenience is another reason to do this race again.

Once at the start, you could already tell it was going to be a hot one.  Not much of a breeze and the air was sticky. I had debated on taking my shirt off but decided against it.  Didn't want to show off my battle scars from the buffet.

As the start time neared, most of us BRA'ers huddled and wished each other well.  Some were reminded to stay on pace and others told not to go out too fast and others to remember that running ain't for babies.

I was looking for someone to pace.  I honestly knew I was going to be slower and wanted to help someone maybe PR instead.  P-funk? 508? The Sick One? I found no takers. Dang it. Well I turned on my new iPod shuffle on and off I go.

Know I've done wrong, left your heart torn
Is that what devils do?
Took you so long, where only fools gone
I shook the angel in you!
Now I'm rising from the ground
Rising up to you!
Filled with all the strength I found
There's nothing I can't do!

First couple of miles were okay.  I of course have gone out too fast but that's what I do. Getting hot already.

With another anthem, why stop when it doesn't have to end?
It ain't over 'til I say it's over – enough when I say enough
Throw me to them wolves and close the gate up
I'm afraid of what'll happen to them wolves
When the thought of being thrown into an alligator pit, I salivated it
Weight is up, hands up like it's 12 noon, nah, homie

Just shy of mile 5 it started misting a little.  Not much of a relief from the heat. Yet.

Yeah, go 'head, ask me how I do it, bruh
The sky falling, but I'm still flyin' through-and-through
Hey this ain't willpower, it's wheel power
With God at the wheel, now that's some real power
I feel power, so I'm gon' trust that
That's how I persevere, that's how I jump back
Yeah, the hurricanes never go away
So I'mma stand firm, tell 'em I don't blow away

At around mile 6, the F-Word comes strutting past me. And at mile 6ish I see the F-Word has started walking on the side of the road.  I came by and tugged on her arm and said it was too early to start walking.  The F-Word then started running with me.

Come come come
When we comin some some
Yea a glass around
Yea I got me some pom pom
For fun for fun
Yea it’s getting undone
We’ve been here, we move on
It’s been so long since we hung

I seemed to have gotten my second wind and picked up my pace a little.  Just a little. For a little bit of time. Lack of training will show in your results.  I realize this and won't complain when it's my fault.

And now the rain comes. But just a bit of a sprinkle.  Just enough to cool me down.  I could hear some of the runners thanking the Mother.

Ah, ah,
We come from the land of the ice and snow,
From the midnight sun where the hot springs flow.
The hammer of the gods will drive our ships to new lands,
To fight the horde, singing and crying: Valhalla, I am coming!
On we sweep with threshing oar, Our only goal will be the western shore.

By now you're probably wondering why the song lyrics. Well here is a free tip from me to you.  When using new audio devices, make sure you test them out before your long runs or races.  I love me some music.  All kinds.  Most of all, I like podcasts on iTunes. I prefer the ones from Above & Beyond, Tiesto, Avicii and others with the high energy beats.  These podcasts are usually an hour long and free. Now if I could just run an hour I would be set. So having that in mind, I load two podcasts and about six other songs on the shuffle. About five minutes from the start, I realize that the shuffle will only play the six songs and not the podcasts.  I will now be listening to the same six songs for two hours.

At about mile 11, my hip and knee start to hurt.  Again no excuses.  Just lack of training.  Some would say my age catching up to me but I still say it is lack of training.

So you want to be free and live your life the way you want to be
Will you give if we cry? will we live or will we die?
Will we die? Jaded hearts heal with time
Now shoot that love, so we can stop the bleedin'
Solitary brother, is there still a part of you that wants to live?
Solitary sister, is there still a part of you that wants to give?

The rain now came and it was a down pour.  Also at this time I hear a familiar voice over my left shoulder.  It's 508. So much for her not wanting to pace and not thinking she could PR today.  Yeah right.  Not sure if she called me old man or not when she ran by but one thing is for sure; I am glad she declined the pacing.  I've been there before. I tried to keep up with her but she just picked it up. And off she went. Great job 508 on your PR.

I managed to bring it on in at 2:04.  Not my best but I will take it based on it being just a Sunday stroll in the park. I jest. It was a little tougher than I thought it would be. Legs were sore and I didn't even feel like walking.  Now the weather started getting worse but hey I was done now and could just sit under a tent and wait for everyone to finish. Or could I. The previous night at dinner, I told the F-Word that I would meet her at mile 24 to pace her in to an under 4:01 PR. Dang it. See what four beers do to guys. We lose our damn minds.

Up next: Father Time vs. Mother Nature


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Opossums, Carbs and Spooning

Our journey continues.

Off to the hotels we go.  I needed to take P-funk to her hotel which was also the host hotel.  She is such a big spender and quiet the socialite.  I thought for a second she was going to ask us to carry her bags into the hotel.

After kicking P-funk to the curb, The Caribbean One and I headed to our hotel.  We were staying at the Ramada Inn which was a block, or as TCO said, .2 miles from the host hotel.  The first thing I noticed about the hotel is that it is directly behind a Krystals.  The running Gods were with me now.

I also see that four tour buses are parked in the lot.  There are signs in the front windows with the University of Nebraska N on them and each bus was for the football team.  Nebraska was in town to play Georgia in the Gator Bowl on January 1.  I told TCO that the bus drivers were staying at the hotel and not the team.  He said, "you don't know." I told him I did know because the hotel wasn't big enough and it was a Ramada Inn for Christ sakes.

TCO checked us in while I emptied out the car.  He came back out to the car and the first thing he said was, "screw you Walt."  I asked him what that was all about.  He told me he hated it when I was right.  The first thing he asked the clerk at check in was about the buses.  The clerk said the drivers are staying here.  I told him that it's not about being right or wrong, it's just basic math.

We got our bags and went inside to our room.  We were standing outside our door and Steve was trying to get the card key ready when two young women walked by.  He asks them if they are doing the race and they said yes.  He wished them luck.  He then inserts the card key in the slot several times but it is not unlocking the door.  On his third attempt, an older guy walks by us.  As the guy is right behind us, I lean over an loudly say to TCO, "I can't wait to get you in this room so hurry up baby."  The guy picks up his pace and the two girls can't seem to get in their room quick enough. "Damn you Walt."

Once I was in the room I was surprised to see that we had two queen beds.  I thought for sure after our trip to  Londontown, TCO would have booked a...well never mind.  Two queen beds would do. I won't bore you with how we decided on which bed to sleep in.  Just trivial information at this point.

Well now what.  Do we sit in the room and eventually start our spoonfest or head to the hotel lounge.  You guessed it.  We headed to the lounge.  But before we got there, TCO had to run a few laps in the parking lot wearing his new shoes.  He just wanted to make sure they felt nice. I got my coach's whistle from the car and played for reals.

We made it to the lounge.  The bartender's name was Yai and she is from the Dominican Republic.  Oh great, another Islander.  This should make for great conversation.  Thing is, she didn't sound like TCO.  She said she lost her accent about 20 years ago.  TCO told her we were in town to do the race.  He said he was doing the marathon and I was his coach.  I told her I was also his translator.  She asked me why I was only doing the half.  I told her the coach doesn't always have to try and show up his students.  I have been there before and have nothing to prove.  Plus he wasn't paying me so why bother.

Somehow we ended up talking about food.  TCO was telling Yai about a big piece of cow liver sitting in a bowl of milk in his fridge.  She talked about fish head soup.  I then asked her if she has ever eaten opossum.  She said no.  I then told her she is going to love the story of how TCO caught opossum when he was little lad in the homeland. Let's just say a dead donkey, burlap sack and stick were involved.

Time got in the way so we headed back to the room to change for dinner.  A group of us from the BRA were meeting at the host hotel to caravan/carpool to dinner.  We then headed out to McDonald's.  Yeah right.  Just goes to show you that I didn't pick the location.  We were actually headed to a semi-ritzy Italian joint.  The restaurant manager told our coordinator we were not to wear cycling shorts or running clothes. Good luck. Group outings are always a time to see who might own clothes that are not designed to be worn during a race or workout.  I am not sure if some people either want strangers to think they finished a race or the only time they add to their wardrobe is when they pick up their race shirt. If you already know ahead of time where you are eating then dress accordingly. Just that simple.  Now I am not saying anyone in the BRA does this. Or do they?  Anyways, I am just venting a little for no reason.  Look, I am the one that wears overalls but is not a farmer. Or am I?

Made it to the restaurant in no time.  I will give credit where credit is due.  The restaurant was a great choice.  Nice atmosphere, cheap drinks and great food. The service was excellent considering our party of about 20.  Kudos to Stephanie 508 for finding this place and setting up the reservation.

It is hard to socialize with such a big group.  It was nice to see everyone having a good time with their own little conversations going. You could also see which of the runners were all worked up about their impending race. Also, the non-BRA members, Little Big Dave's Peter and Big 13, seemed to be fitting right in.

TCO and myself sat at the bar while our food was being prepared.  TCO wanted to watch the football game but I also think he was afraid of catching the head cold that the unnamed person he was sitting next to had.  She didn't look like she was feeling good. You can't do anything about the weather but you can somewhat control the contaminates.

TCO must have had about eight glasses of water.  He kept saying he needed to pee clear.  Not sure if that was reference a drug test or some type of hydration requirement.  I never question an Islander when it comes to drug tests.

Food was served and I shall say again that the food was great.  TCO ordered plain spaghetti. No oil, sauce or milk on it.  Just cooked spaghetti. When he put his fork in it to pick up a bite, the whole damn ball of spaghetti came out of the bowl.  It was like he was taking bites off a ball of yellowish yarn. Yummy.

We all finished and headed out to go back to our rooms. Some for the night and others for the fun.  There was also a group pic taken outside the restaurant. Or so I heard.

P-funk, TCO, The Injured Runner and myself headed back.  We drove by an establishment that caused quiet the commotion in the car.  I can't say if we visited that establishment but if you check my status on a particular date you will get your answer.

We eventually made it back to P-funk's drop off spot.  I pulled up to the front doors, as demanded, to drop her off.  There were several people standing by the front door talking and a couple of others walking towards the lobby doors.  As she got out of the car, someone in the car yelled, "next time you tell us it is $100, it better only cost us $100. Now get out."  A woman always wants to turn heads doesn't she. And turn heads she did.

Having dropped off our date, we then headed to Publix to get liquids and some food for the morning.  All three of us went inside.  I finished first and went back out to the car.  I was parked right in front and could see inside the store.  I could see TCO and The Injured Runner sitting near the front doors facing the isles.  They thought I was still inside.  You know if TCO had a phone I could have called him.  I just sat there waiting to see how long it would be before they either look outside or start checking the isles. What a fun game of hide and go seek this was.

Having been found, they loaded up and we went back to the Ramada. TCO and I were now in our room for the night.  I know you're getting anxious but give it time.  I have to set the mood first.

I turn the TV on to HGTV. I turn off all the lights but for the bedside lamp. Now I know of only two people that wear a button up long sleeve top and pants matching set of pajamas.  That is my 83 year old father-in-law and TCO.  TCO's this fine evening were light blue and made of thin cotton.

Prior to laying in bed, he drank another two glasses of water.  He went to the bathroom and yelled that he is now peeing clear. Yippee for all.

He hopped in bed.  I thought it only fitting to read him a bed time story.  It just so happened I found a 5k race recap that had been recently posted on the BRA groups page.  No sooner did I finish the story, TCO was already fast asleep.

I did my best not to disturb him while reaching over to turn the light out.  Now I know many want to know the juicy details about spooning.  I have respect for my roomies and would never kiss and tell.  If I did, how could I ever have a roomie again.  Any roomie.

Up next: The Weatherman Lied...Well Sort Of 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The HALFway Journey to The Half

I had not completed a marathon since October 2013 and then it was only because it was part of the Ironman Florida.  That marathon was a disaster.  I think I did it in over 7 hours.  Seems I managed to just miss the Boston Qualifier cut off time by a good minute or so. That race also did more damage to me than I thought it would both physically and mentally but that story is saved for another post.

I was also forced to have a new outlook on participating in long distance races without training.  Whether it be running, cycling or a tri, I can no longer just wing the long ones. The older I get the less fun I have.  I want to enjoy the races. Especially the post race festivities whatever or wherever they may be.

So having that in mind, I will not do a distance race just to do it.  I must and owe it to myself to train.  Now whether I train properly is still up in the air but I do need to put forth the right amount of training.  If I don't then I won't show up to the start line. Nuff said.

Now that brings us to the Jacksonville Marathon.  Many of my friends within the Brandon Running Association had signed up for the full or the half.  At about ten weeks out I was still on the fence about signing up for the full.  I still had the lingering mentality of, "I can do that. It's just a marathon."  I had to remind myself that I took a vow to train.  Since I was not in the training frame of mind, I did not sign up then. But I do like a good field trip.

At eight weeks out was when the entry fee would increase.  It was at this time I registered for the full.  It was only $65 which didn't seem like much for a full.  Jacksonville was not that far away and a one nights stay at a hotel wouldn't be expensive.  Especially if I room with someone.  So the full it was with only eight weeks of training.

I was able to find a 16 week marathon plan for beginners online. I just counted the first eight weeks as a base I sort of already had and figured I would take it from there. I was also going to be a 2:00 pacer for the Women's Running Half in that training time frame.  Hey why not. Give it a shot.  It's just a marathon.

Well, well, well.  After a week and a half of training, I got bored.  I just couldn't get my mind into the long runs.  I was just tired of running.  I would wear my iPod and still get bored about two miles into my run.  Whether it was a short day or long day.  I looked at the training plan and knew that I just couldn't, much less want to do a run more than 12 miles.  Hell, even the 5-8 milers during the week were a struggle.  It wasn't the distance that bothered me, it was just the mere fact of running.  I was not injured nor fatigued.  It was still a mental thing.  I guess we all lose and get back our running mojo a time or two.

I also managed to squeeze in the Women's Half with little training.  I was committed to that run as a pacer.  I had done it in the past and it was fun.  I was also the coordinator for the pacers so I had to show and go. People were counting on me. I couldn't let all those ladies down now could I.

At about two weeks out I officially decided to drop down to the half.  It was no love loss for me. So the medal would say half instead of just marathon. And it is not always about the medal.  I have earned plenty of them and to this day not a single damn one has paid a bill or fed me.

And with doing the half, I could justifiable drop back on my training.  My taper time would also start sooner.  Wait, I was actually already in taper mode.

I made an agreement with The Caribbean One for me to drive in exchange for use of the other Queen bed in his room.  P-funk would also be tagging along.  For ease of the madness, I picked up The Caribbean One first.  It started out with me telling The Caribbean One that P-funk had backed out due to some womanly emotional issues that only he would understand. I told him that we could go and talk her into going with us.  He also gave me a plastic container containing two fried buffalo chicken drummettes.  Both of us sharing fried chicken the day before a race goes way back to the time we went to Londontown.

We picked up P-funk from her palace and of course she knew nothing of the emotional issues.  She did manage to pack three bags for an overnight race.  That I couldn't understand.  Now she was, supposedly, staying in a suite by herself. Hmm. Oh well.  Now off to the races we were.

The trip to Jacksonville was fun filled as some would say.  P-funk sat in the front passenger seat and The Caribbean One behind her.  Now I am so glad I was able to take the SUV because that P-funk is a loud talker.  I remember saying to her numerous times; "We are not in a convertible. We are in the same car as you.  I don't have the music on.  Are you angry? What!"

I should mention how crappy traffic is on I-4 through Orlando.  I suppose it is the theme park traffic mixed in with the tourists from all over the world bringing their driving habits with them and showing them off in a matter of four miles on a three lane highway.

Once we made it to Daytona, it was lunch time.  Now it is the day before a race so you should pay strict attention to your food intake.  Shoulda, coulda, woulda if I cared about that.  My passengers decided on some turkey subs from Subway and I got a #1 large with coke at Krystals.  Krystals are great when they are fresh.  The bun is a little soggy from the steam. Yummy. Anyways I am sure there are some carbs in the #1.

Once I got back on 95, I was on the 80/80/80 plan.  What's that you ask.  It's 80 miles to go at 80 mph while listening to 80 stories from P-funk and The Caribbean One.

We  got to packet pick up in no time.  Seems P-funk was also going to drop down to the half as well.  We both had to let the person giving us our number know this change.  When I told the guy that I was dropping to the half he asked me what happened.  My reply was, "life." Packet pick up was a breeze.  We also had a little fun there as well.  But you had to be there to get it.

The Caribbean One decided to buy a new pair of shoes that were on sale. He was happy with the price and the fit. He was going to wear these shoes for the marathon the next morning. Now some say you shouldn't wear brand new shoes for any race. Much less a marathon.  I beg to differ.  If you are a good runner the shoes may not matter.  It is the engine that powers the legs, not she shoes.  For instance, Tiger Woods could get a set of clubs from Jungle Cove Goofy Golf while I use a $2,000 set of Titleist clubs and still beat my ass at Frisbee.  Get my point.  If you suck already then you just suck. Needless to say I wouldn't use a pair of new shoes for a marathon but hey who am I.  I was only going to do the half.

Off to our hotels...