Sunday, November 28, 2010

2010 Black Friday 20K Solo Relay - EPILOGUE

I got this invite as we were ramping up towards “Run Like an Idiot”:


Start organizing your event now !

Run, Walk, Waddle
Scurry, Scuttle, Scamper or Sprint
Trot, Trample, Trod
Trudge or Shuffle
25 or 50K's
Around the Track, On the Trail or In Traffic
Yer The Boss !!

Event runs from Thurs Nov 25th through Sun the 28th


Who's in ??

* Reminder - This is a weekend long event. You have 4 days to complete your race and the only competitions are for The Best Race Report and The Best Photos. Details forthcoming depending on interest.

To which I replied “I’m already running a 20K on Friday, I SHOULD be able to find time to do another 5K”

Yeah -NO

20K = Success
25K = DNF

No biggie

Friday, November 26, 2010

2010 Black Friday 20K Solo Relay - FINAL LEG!!!

Planned Start Time – 11:00PM
REAL Start Time - 9:40PM

“Dammit! I’m getting myself an Energy Drink!!!” I cheered and opened a Victory Prima Pils at 6 o’clock

I’d been at this for 12 hours now, and had been doing everything [mostly] according to plan. Now, much like an expectant Mom, I just wanted it to be done with.

It was now time for dinner, and not wanting to make a WHOLE meal, I whipped up a batch of fresh gravy [we don’t save it] following a recipe I’d seen on Rachel Ray’s new show “A Week in a Day”

Maple-Worcestershire Gravy
4 tablespoons butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves finely chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock-in-a-box
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup dark amber maple syrup
Lots of coarsely ground black pepper

Add the butter to a medium sauce pot and melt it over medium to medium-high heat. Add the shallots and thyme and sauté for 2 minutes, then add the flour and stir 1 minute. Whisk in the stock, Worcestershire and maple syrup. Season with black pepper, to taste, and reduce the mixture until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 10 to 12 minutes.

I threw a bunch of leftover turkey in it and stirred around … “Dinner’s ready,” I shouted to D’Kid, “Make what you want.”

Again, I was getting that twitchy feeling; I just wanted to go.

‘This must be what any athlete who performs in “heats” must go through. I guess that makes me an athlete’ I rationalized. Not being of the same caliber of Michael Phelps and having my own Green Room to put on an iPod to chill out and prepare for “the next round,” I put on the TV … again … this time we had
The Sandlot which D’Kid had never seen before. It was a pleasant diversion.

“One hour and forty minutes” she reminded me at 9:20.
“I dunno if I’m waiting that long” I answered her “Ten o’clock might be good enough.”
“It doesn’t have to be EXACTLY six hours, does it???”

I was tempted to explain the whole 4-5-6 sequence and the spirit of the thing, but …

“No, not really.”

After she had eaten and gotten caught up with her emails and Facebook [around 9:30] D’Wife announced “I gotta get a walk. I had a mind-numbing day, I’m feeling a little stiff and I want to get outside. I’ll be back before you do your next ‘thing’ … Eleven, right?”
“Yeah … I guess”
“Mare, you wanna come with me?” Mom asked, as she bundled up. It had gotten pretty cold since we’d been outside last [it was now below 40°].
“No, thank you” D’Kid answered.
“Okay, fine” and she was out the door.

It was barely five minutes later that I had an idea.

“You know what??? Let’s go NOW! We can catch up to Mom and I can finish my last three miles with both of you”
“Don’t you have to run it???”
I made an Executive Decision as Commissioner “At this point? Not really.”

I quickly asked D’Kid to find my phone and to call her Mom; firstly to tell her that we’d changed our minds and were coming out and to find out approximately where she was. Mare told her to “Wait for us” but that wasn’t happening; we’d have to chase her down.

We got ourselves bundled up as well and headed out to the other development that Mom likes to walk in. We ran the first half mile, but stopped after that, since D’Kid isn’t used to running that far at once, especially on a cold dark night, and pretty much past her bedtime.

When we got to the first “decision point,” I asked, “Straight or left? Which way do you think Mom went?”
“We could call her”
“Good idea, give me the phone”

Yep, we left it home.

So our back-up plan became: walk about a mile and a half, constantly scanning the neighborhood for the flicker of a flashlight, then turn around, perhaps to meet up with D’Wife on the return. We reached our pre-determined turnaround point with a glimpse nor a sound of her [I figured that since it was pretty much silent out there, we’d be able to hear the rustle of leaves or crunch of gravel generated by anyone walking near us within a couple hundred yards or so] We didn’t give up entirely, however. We stopped and looked down each cul-de-sac we passed by, in the hope we’d spot her.

Just as we were descending the last dip out of the development and heading back to our own, D’Kid halted turned around.

“Is that a flashlight?” she asked, pointing behind us.

Sure enough, a single, small flicker danced rhythmically toward us.

“You guys are nuts!!!” she shouted to us with a laugh as we backtracked to rejoin her.

D’Kid gave her mom a hug and we strolled home, chatting about not much at all. We were almost all the way home when she asked me …

“So … when’s your next race???”

Final words in The Epilogue >>>

2010 Black Friday 20K Solo Relay - Third Leg

Start: 5:00PM

At this point, the challenge had become, “refuel and rehydrate when you can, but not so close to the next leg that your tummy bothers you.”

In other words “How many bagels with peanut butter can you eat today?”

It didn’t seem like we had been back from the Dentist very long before the sun was down and we on our way back up to the High School. The temperature was now 48° … Ten degrees colder than when my day started. This lap would be done in sweatpants, with a short sleeve cotton T-Shirt over a poly longsleeve. The sky was clear; the wind had scrubbed the clouds away and thankfully subsided to a comfortable breeze. As we drove up the street [the High School is a mere mile and a half away] I wondered:

“Are there lights on the track?”

‘No, there aren’t’ as it turns out, merely the ambient light from the orange lights on the parking lot, a few utility lamps around the school and some super-bright lights at the used-track and trailer lot next door. The darkness didn’t seem to deter a half dozen or so OTHER souls who were already looping the track when we arrived.

I – again - set my bottle down at trackside, it almost the same spot as lunchtime. I left the keys with D’Kid, fearful I’d lose them in the dark. I quickly crossed myself and started off again.

It didn’t take long for me to get on another runner’s shoulder. In the dark, I couldn’t picture an age on him, but he had the same “old school” outfit as I was wearing. I gave him a few yards on me, just for politeness and my own security; you never know how a person will react when a stranger decides to run beside him in the dark. I also wasn’t sure if, perhaps, these were an organized Friday Evening Running Club, and I may have been jumping into their gig, unannounced, uninvited and unsponsored …
Localism, remember??? It COULD happen on a track, just as easily as on a beach [surfers] or a trail [MTBers].

Eventually, he kicked away from me and finished his run for the evening. That left only myself and a woman I’d seen who I reckoned to be on the other side of the track from me, but travelling at an unknown pace. If she were going faster, she’d pass me eventually; if I were the quicker of us, I’d catch her. However, if we were going the same speed, or very near the same speed, we’d never meet.

Such is life.

Left Brain was pondering the math of this while Right Brain was following some light in the air above us. It’s not unusual to see helicopters out here; there are commuter flights, traffic spotters, MedEvacs, and Army / Marines flying around all the time. But they don’t usually circle around like this one was. They also don’t have Police and Fire equipment rushing up to where they’re circling around. I didn’t see any accident-like activity on the highway nearby, so when the Firefighters lit some flares in the parking lot area behind the bleachers [and AWAY from where we had parked, I could only assume it was some sort of Emergency Landing / Take-Off practice.

I was at the far end of the field/track the NJ State Police S-76 began its approach, thumping and whirring to its landing spot to my left.

‘I’d better let M know what I think’s going on, when I get back to the car’ I thought to myself.

I was one lap too late to come up with that idea, as I saw a little shadowy figure running onto the track toward me.

As I suspected, she’d been watching the DVD in the car with her headphones on and hadn’t noticed any activity until she saw the helo come down. She couldn’t see across the field in the dark and had no idea what had become of me. The poor little miss was pretty shaken.

The girl I’d been “chasing” was there also, and she had no idea what the hubbub was about either. We all figured that if there had been something very serious, the Police, Firefighters and Helo Crew would be doing something far less casual than the “not much” they were doing at that moment … OR, they would have had the courtesy to chase us away.

“I’ve got another mile to go,” I semi-invited the runnerette.
“No, I think I’m done for the night,” she declined.

“I’ve got two miles done, sweetie” I comforted D’Kid “Would you like me to walk with you for the last four laps”
“Let’s run!” she cheered through what was left of her tears and took off, her UGGs galumphing on the rubberized surface.

We Gallowalked the next 1200 yards together, before she allowed me to run the last lap by myself.

We were into the Home Stretch. This leg felt the best of the day; hit 2 miles in about 16 minutes without much of a push, maybe having someone to “chase” helped, or perhaps the “six-mile warm-up” had something to do with it

Sadly, no one asked about the custom bib. To their credit, it WAS dark and the bib WAS black.

On to the FINAL Leg!!! >>>

2010 Black Friday 20K Solo Relay - Second Leg

Start: 11:00AM

A little extra challenge was added to my day, as D’Kid had a Dentist Appointment at 12:30. The plan was then to shuffle the schedule a touch and do: 6AM > 11AM > 5PM > 11PM.

HEY!!! I’m “The Commissioner!!!” I can do that!!!

After we got D’Wife off to work at 9:30, we chilled out a little and impatiently watched the clock. I had a bad feeling about this … I knew that once I finished the first leg, I’d want to get to the second ASAP [there’s a dog joke in there someplace, I’m sure].

I resisted as best as I could, killing time in front of the TV. Somehow, while channel surfing, I discovered
Fanboys on Encore. It had been recommended to me by a Dad dressed as Buzz Lightyear on Halloween, after I told his kid in the Boba Fett costume that “Han shot first!”

D’Kid and I were enjoying it, but at 10:45, it was time to get ready and roll out. We only saw up to the part where Zoe bails the dudes out of jail, so … NO SPOILERS PLEASE!!!

The cold was coming in strong and the wind had seriously kicked up; there would be NO bike-pacing today. We switched to Plan B: D’Kid would sit in D’Car with D’Laptop and watch
Alice in Wonderland while Dad ran 12 laps and change around the Winslow High School track. I had already done my pre-run warm-up routine for Leg One, so there was no need to repeat it, as I had kept myself busy and mobile for the morning.

“Good luck Dad,” D’Kid wished me, “And pace yourself.”

I stepped out of the car and gust nearly took my 20in24 hat off my head. I laid my water bottle and car keys down at a random spot by the side of the track, stepped out of my sweatpants and started off. 11:13AM. Another gust DID take my hat off, but it didn’t fly far, so I grabbed it and put it back on, backwards this time.

That didn’t help, since once I made the turn at the far end of the track, the headwind became a tailwind and flipped it off again. I dropped my hat on the pile and continued, knowing that an ice cream headache was in the works.

As I finished Lap Two, I notice the headlights were still on, so I took a detour back to the parking lot. I turned them off, gave D’Kid another hug, was reminded again to pace myself and got back on the track. My bib rustled in the seemingly near gale-force winds. I tucked my hands in my sleeves, since dumbass me forgot my gloves. My legs were pinking up and warming in the chilly wind, but my toes were going numb.

After Lap Four,
The Voice started her crap.

“This is stupid. What’s the point??? You’re SO Undertrained. There’s NO WAY you’re doing all 12 miles today. You’re gonna get sick, you know. Stop now, who’s gonna know? No one else is doing this … Any idea WHY??? Because it’s pointless!!! Idiot.”

I just let her talk and ignored her while I counted the laps, completing one just about every two minutes
“Six done … Six left”
“Seven … and Five”
“Eight laps … two miles … One mile left … Four Laps”
“Three …”
“Two …”
“One …”
“… and DONE!!!”

11:40 … just enough time for us to shower up and head off to the dentist.

Bon Jovi started playing in my head: “Ahhhhh-ah!!! We’re halfway there …!!!”

On to the Third Leg >>>

2010 Black Friday 20K Solo Relay - First Leg

Start: 6:00AM

Just as The Weather Channel had predicted, it was warm, wet & windy when I woke up at 5:20AM. Shorts, T-shirt and Team Tania socks would work fine. It was pretty dark and foggy, so I put on the Reflecto-Vest and Team Tania blinkie, to be safe and to be seen. I couldn’t count on what traffic there was to be very attentive to the little dude running around on Black Friday, as they would probably be cursing themselves out for getting to WalMart so “late.”

My choice for my first course route was easy; I had to run past our Church, so I could see The Blessed Mother: say a Hail Mary; give extra thanks for my family, friends and relatives; and ask for to watch over me on this silly thing I was doing. I wasn’t racing for time today, so what was a minute or so, right??? [even on days when I have raced this course, on my own, just for fun, I’ve always stopped there, too, so …]

I reached the mile and a half turn in 13 minutes or so. I wasn’t running for time on the day, but I still wanted to keep myself around a 9-minute mile pace, for clock management’s sake. I cruised down the street towards Chocolate Pretzel Heaven, and passed the spot where a few months earlier, the first rumblings of what would become “
The Big POING!!!” in my calf came upon me. It was there that Left Brain calculated / recalled that we reached 0.7 miles left to go in THIS LEG, we would have run EXACTLY 500 miles for the year. That’s nothing compared to what some of marathoning friends do, but pretty impressive [I must say] for a dude who runs for - essentially - no reason whatsoever.

I rounded the final turn into the development as the 6:26AM train whistled at the crossing about a mile away. I refrained from throwing any kind of a kick or sprint in at the end; we still had a long day ahead and had only reached the first “virtual water stop”

On to the Second Leg >>>

Thursday, November 25, 2010

2010 Black Friday 20K Solo Relay - Prologue

It’s Virtual Comp time again [where does the time go???]

Last year I did the Mini-Half Ass [25K] also known as "
Alice's Restaurant Massacree Virtual 25K" In ’06 there was the 3rd Annual Slowtwitch Turkeyman Virtual Triathlon/Duathlon

This year I "hosted" the "
Black Friday 20K Solo Relay" for my FB friends [and anyone else who wanted to jump in].

Also known as "La Tortuga's 4x5x6" or "Run Like an Idiot" ... It’s a virtual / online competition of 4 Runs x 5K each x 6 Hours apart ... Runners may start any time, but I recommended something in the 5-7AM time frame.

HISTORY: My first coach [AKA “ La Tortuga”] would do this while on business travel ... she'd do three miles on the hotel Dreadmill in the morning, 3 more at lunch [preferably outside], ANOTHER 3 before dinner [again, preferably outside] and finish up with a final three at bedtime on the ‘Mill

She presented this to me and we made a game of it … I had YET to get the 4th leg done.

“Run Like An Idiot” comes from the Phish tune “Run Like An Antelope” specifically the line “Run like an antelope; out of control”

I've attempted it a time or two or three but I had YET to get that 4th Leg done


I set up an “EVENT” page on Facebook and invited all the runners / triathletes I could think of from to participate; friends from Kick, Slowtwitch, high school, college and church. I sent out maybe five dozen invites; I received two dozen “nopes” another half a dozen “maybes” and bunch of “awaiting replies” and four “yeses” [including myself]

To be fair, some of the “nopes” already had events planned or in other cases, had just run the Philly Marathon the weekend before.

For an extra treat, I made up custom bibs for the people who committed, one for each leg [so they didn’t have to re-use the same one all day] and THEY could pick their own number. I emailed them out as PDFs for the participants to print on their own and wear [or not] as they see fit. I also figured that if it was raining or snowing and our bibs got trashed, we could print another one for the scrapbook!!!

I’m a GENIUS!!!

Two of them picked hockey players:
Jenn - #9 [Maurice Richard]
Rebecca - #66 [Mario Lemieux]
Gina - #10 [she had to be different and pick Larry Bowa]

I chose #37 … I always choose #37 … Even BEFORE I saw “Clerks”

Note: Jenn’s boyfriend asked her “Why not just do a 20K?”
She replied “What fun is that???”
SHE’s a real trooper, since she’s in TOR and they DIDN’T have the day off


After having a “Thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat” I was DEEP In Pre-Race mode ... reviewing the course[s], managing the gear, checking the talismans, dorking out on The Weather Channel [looked like a little bit of everything: warm in the morning => a little rain in the afternoon => steadily clearing but cooling], fueling & hydrating, of course. Just the same, I allowed myself a “dessert beer” just for fun and … jeez, you GOTTA be thankful, right???

[Krooked Skateboards pint glass]

Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin (Pugsley’s Signature Series)
Smashed Pumpkin is a big-bodied beer with a light coppery orange color and pleasing aroma of pumpkin and nutmeg. The OG and final Alc./Vol. provide the structure and body. Pale Ale, Wheat and Light Munich Malts combine with the natural tannin in pumpkin and the delicate spiciness of Willamette and Hallertau Hops to balance the sweetness of the fruit. To fully enjoy all the flavors, this ale is best drunk at 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Smashed Pumpkin pairs well with sharp cheeses, nuts, lamb, hearty stews and desserts like flan or pumpkin pie. Chefs find this an excellent beer to cook with in dishes such as braised short ribs.

As you can see, it’s a little thin in the head [much like myself] but that’s not all that important in this style, I don’t think. At 9% ABV, it was a bit stronger than I would have wanted on a race night, especially after the “Thanksgiving dinner that couldn’t be beat” we’d just had an hour or two before. The spiciness, caramel and brown sugar hints and the high alcohol where a good warmer on a day which had seen our first snowfall around noon

On to the First Leg >>>

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Pebble Into the Pond

I’ve been kind of a dick lately to one of my online running pals and Genie called me on it.

“I mean, we all get snarky on occasion (even perfect little me.....SNORT) but as a rule you are way less mean than any of us. I just couldn't figure out why him. I know he’s kinda pathetic, but harmless, and basically good people. Unlike those idiots at The Bad Place. That's why I was surprised you've been so critical of both of them lately.”

Yeah, I came to realize that’s really not my way. So, I made a gesture of good faith that I hoped would restore balance. Something pretty effortless on my part that I figured had no chance of succeeding but, if it should, would mean so much to the recipient.

I tossed a pebble into the pond, to see if it might make a splash, and where the ripples might go.


To: Sue Hoxie, Co-Race Director, Addison County Chamber of Commerce; Andrea Solomon, Co-Race Director, Middlebury CollegeRe: Middlebury Maple Run
Sue & Andrea;

Last week a friend of mine, Kevin Yetman, informed our online running club that he had registered for your Middlebury Maple Run Half Marathon on May 1st, 2011. He further let us know that he was the SECOND person to register.

Kevin [who goes by “EQ43” online] is a lifetime bib-holder at the
Equinox Marathon, run every September in Fairbanks, AK. He has a particular grudge with a hill on the course called “Ester Dome.” This year, through a LOT of hard work, he conquered his personal nemesis, and had his best race there ever.

Can you guess which number he “owns”???

Kevin is a hardcore marathoner and all-around great guy. It would mean a lot to him [and our online group] if you could see fit to “manually” assign him #43 for YOUR race as well. Seeing as he registered so early, I hope this wouldn’t be too much of a bother. If #43 has already been assigned, rolling him back to #143 or #243, would be an equal treat for him I’m sure.

As he posted: “LOL, that would be funny if it turned out I was bib 43”

If you could make this happen, it would be beyond awesome; if not, we totally understand.

Thank you for your time

Randy Marthins
Atco, NJ



I don’t assign numbers until a couple of days before the race, usually alphabetically, but I can certainly force my system to do something else.

Could you kindly send me a reminder early the week of 4/27? I’ll file your email and will make every effort to remember this, but a nudge would certainly be helpful.

Hope you’ll be joining us as well!

Thanks, Sue.

Sue Hoxie


When I let the Misfits know that I’d succeeded, Genie emailed me back:

“EEEEEE!!! YOU DID IT!!!! This is gonna be so cool! He is going to be sooooo surprised!!
Are you eventually going to tell him you asked for this or just let it remain a coincidence?
One of us can tell him, if you don't want to. I think you deserve credit for it and it would mean a lot to him to see the email you wrote about how hard he works and stuff.”

My coach, Xena’s doing the race too, and will probably be there when he/they get their bibs; I’ll let her know that she can tell him THEN

I figured it was the least I could do … actually the LEAST would be nothing at all, so I stepped it up a little. Balance may have been restored. Namaste.

Speaking of …

Dogfish Head Namaste

Availability: Limited, Draft Only

A Belgian-style White made with dried organic orange slices, fresh cut lemongrass and a bit of coriander. This beer is a great summer quencher.

Namaste was originally brewed at our brewpub in with our friend Leo from Birra del Borgo in Italy as a tribute to our friends at 3 Fonteinen brewery in Belgium, who had devastating production loss (1/3 of their annual production!) at their brewery in 2009. You can read more about the original brewing of this beer here on Sam's blog.

For summer 2010, this beer will be brewed in a larger volume and packaged in bottles (750ml) and draft. It will be available in the great state of Delaware - both at our Milton, DE brewery and at our Rehoboth Beach, DE brewpub. We're shooting for an early June 2010 release.

ABV: 5.0%

If not for the fact it comes in these big bottles and is kinda pricy, this would have been a Serious Contender in the 2010 Lawnmower Beer Championship 3-Way Dance.

It pours a hazy amber with a quickly disappearing but brilliant meringue-ish white head. No wait time like Hoegaarden, so it scores very comparable to Whirlwind. It has a rich, hazy amber color; almost closer to an IPA than to a Wit [means “white, right?]. I like color. Sometimes lawnmower beers are just too light; let me know that I’m holding something substantial as a reward for the work I’ve done [assuming I have actually cut the grass].

DFH Namaste has a neither overpoweringly yeasty nor citrusy aroma; not quite the “bagel with Pledge” but more like lemon marmalade on white toast with just a dab of bananas foster. Great for sipping, as there are lot of flavors going on in there; all sorts of citrus [lemon, orange, grapefruit], spices [coriander and pepper], floral [lemongrass, nasturtium] … in fact it may be TOO busy. Your palate is so busy decoding things that it’s not exactly refreshing.


It’s got a stupid label. WTF is with a skeleton with Aquaman telepathy ripples coming from his hands??? Wait, is that an ape head on there??? And a tail???

Plus…It’s SERIOUSLY pricy = 22 oz. for the price of a six-pack of Whirlwind … that’s HUGE!!! In fact it’s the ONLY place where it falls short of Whirlwind.

You gotta give Sam props … he did something nice for his friend in Belgium, just because it was the right thing to do.

That’s the spirit.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

That Sinking Feeling

With Daylight Savings Time now at an end [are we on Daylight WASTING Time now?] the mornings are slightly brighter than they have been for a while. In fact, the Reflecto-Vest may have been a touch superfluous on my first run of the season in long pants this weekend, but it DID manage to provide a bit of extra comfort when some pretty stiff breezes kicked up. This won’t last long, I know, and soon it will be just as dark and starry when I come home from my Pre-Dawn Patrol as it will be when I take off.

Sunset is dropping earlier now, too. Monday, sunset was at 4:52PM … right around the time that I left work for the day.

The shortening of the days is kicking off people’s concerns about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

“Anyone else a sufferer? Looking back, it's been a factor for about five years now and it gets worse every year. Since realizing that my, uh, issues are seasonal, I've taken steps to mitigate it as much as possible - medication, sunlight exposure, exercise, etc., but it still is a factor about half the time, mostly manifesting as insomnia. It does wonders for my exercise regimen, allowing me to get to the gym very early and get that done, but it certainly takes a toll.”

Personally, I LIKE this cold, dark, cloudy, grey, rainy time of year. It’s not at all because – perhaps – under this easygoing surfer/runner persona lurks a gloomy, murky, angst-ridden soul. Just because I was born on Halloween, doesn’t mean I’m all about Death and Doom. Sure, when I met D’Wife, my wardrobe was pretty monochromatic [black, mostly, but also, “slate” and “charcoal”], but that was a club-land sort of Fashion Requirement / Uniform.

I like this time of year; it energizes me, if anything else, for two simple and semi-selfish reasons:

First of all, the dreary weather presents a wonderful challenge for me as a runner. To get up, before Sunrise, and go out for a few miles when it’s definitely cold, possibly foggy and very likely raining, maybe even snowing, is a true measure of what kind of a Zen-Core Dork I really am. That being said, there are athletes whom I can’t even BEGIN to aspire to, in terms of getting out and performing in ultra-nasty conditions …

Great Lakes Surfers

As documented in the film “Unsalted” [one of my favorite surf movies, BTW] these dudes go out when the air temp is below 20° and the water is just above freezing, usually with a pretty stiff wind, besides. Granted, Jersey surfers are just as hardcore, and we are FINALLY starting to get the recognition we deserve, but whenever I think that the weather is just too nasty for a run, it’s those guys & gals out on Lake Superior of whom I remind myself. Suddenly, things feel pretty sunny in comparison. I often find myself looking at the overnight weather reports and smiling when I see “Chance of Precipitation: 80%”

Soup for breakfast!!!

Or … my second reason for loving this waning time of the year: dark beers.

I’ve said before that I like to vary my “menu” by the season depending on the weather; “Example: Hefeweizens are only served when it’s 80° outside or warmer [preferably after cutting the grass]; stouts & porters are for 30-40° and overcast/rainy days.”

To me, nothing is more satisfying, more rewarding after a sloppy ride through the woods on a foggy afternoon or a drenching trot between football games, than a nice cool [not COLD] dark beer. Not a terribly strong one, mind you … not necessarily one whose name begins with “Old” … just something with enough kick to gently warm you back up, and enough toasty chocolate flavor in there to make you believe that you’re snacking on a post-workout cookie.

These elements blend wonderfully in Edmund Fitzgerald Porter by Great Lakes Brewing Co. There are three ships that are at the top of the Pop Culture regatta by virtue of being immortalized in song: the Titanic, the Minnow, and the Edmund Fitzgerald. In fact, in this week’s Social Studies lesson, D’Kid’s teacher found the video on YouTube and played it for the class on their SmartBoard … I found this rather amazing, since the song is probably older than Mrs. McNulty herself.

This was a most excellent choice for the season’s first dark beer. It is CocaCola-ish in color and capped with a sturdy creamy brown head. It brings the flavor of a chocolate almond biscotti dunked in iced mochaccino. It's not very strong [only 4.7% ABV] so you could easily put a couple away while waiting for your fingers & toes to thaw after a brilliantly inclement adventure.

No, I’m not so concerned about another bout of SAD this year. I’m looking forward to some nice sloppy runs and rides then enjoying some refreshing dark brews afterwards. There is no sinking feeling here, my friends; no storms, no shoals, no anchors, no negativity.

At this juncture, I’m positive-ly buoyant.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

“Thar she blows!!!”

tidal tid·al (tīd'l)
Resembling the tides; alternately rising and falling.

glacial gla·cial (glā-shəl)
Suggestive of the very slow movement of glaciers

D’Wife decided that it was time for me to get a top-down physical, because it had been so very long since my last one. We’re both of “a certain age” now and neither of us is getting any younger. I think we’re holding up pretty well; better than well, in fact. With all modesty not many folks our age are nearly as “studly” as we are; training up to 60 miles a week on the bike in ALL weather, plus the running I’ve always done on top of that.

We’re fit old fuckers, D’Wife and me.

On St. Jude’s Day [October 28th] I visited our Primary to get the overview.

Height: 5’6”
Weight: 155


It wasn’t so long ago that I’d
finally reached my “absolute minimum” weight per D’Wife’s instructions. Now, it seems, I have put it all back on. Granted fifteen pounds over two years isn’t a lot nor did it come on quickly [in fact, almost imperceptibly], but I’d thought I’d be able to maintain some sort of stability there. To my defense, we have been without a scale since Early Summer, so my ability to monitor this aspect has been hampered. It still sucks to know that after all this time – since beginning “400 Beers” – I am, again, back where I started. Truthfully, I’m up a little from that even; but at least I didn’t rebound up to my high-water point, two years previous to hitting that goal weight and four years past from today [a check-up which brought some irony of its own, as that was my HIGHEST weight, but LOWEST B/P]

Which is where we went next …

Blood pressure: 150/80


That’s NOT at ALL what I’d expected!!!

But then, things have been kinda stressful lately, PLUS being hurt and unable to run most of the Summer, may have affected my release mechanisms which would pump it up, so to speak. Historically, there have been some fluctuations over the years, as my Red Cross Blood Donor Card testifies; basically, I ramp up from normal [120/80-ish] to high [140+] and back down again over a cycle of 18 months or so.

My weight looks like it’s on a two-year rhythm.

As it so happened, they collided right about NOW, with devastating results.

Even with changes in diet [no more red meat, and even more green veggies], cycling to offset the lack of running for the cardio and more yoga added to the mix, I just couldn’t get out of the way this rogue wave of “uh-oh”

Blood work followed up with nothing out of the ordinary – sugar’s fine; liver and kidney functions are fine.

Like a friend of mine asked: “How can Mr. Cool, the Zen-Core Dork, possibly have high blood pressure???”

Maybe it was lurking just off the horizon all along, but we just happened to be fortunate enough spot it at this place and time.

“Thar she blows!!!”

In the meantime, I’ll continue on like I have in the past to bring the B/P back down: running on the Pre-Dawn Patrol, getting out on the bike when possible, prayer and meditation to de-stress, finding guilt-free time to do nothing if I feel like it and NOT taking everything so personally.

Basically, circumnavigate back around to 2007 and re-achieve those successes … we can totally do that.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Vaguely Accurate

Anyone looking at my RunningAhead Training Log would probably say, “Wow, he’s scary consistent” seeing that I almost always run at a 9-minute per mile pace. I’m in “maintenance mode” for the time being, just running for fun – and mental health - while not training for any particular race or time, I’m fairly relaxed with all the time-keeping and subsequent data analysis that some of my friends thrive on.

The truth is … I don't actually use the "Start/Stop" function on my watch these days. I know I should, but lately I’m content to use it to guesstimate how many miles I can get in. I allocate 10 minutes for each mile, running at 8½ to 9 minutes per PLUS another couple for cool-down.

For example, if I have about half an hour between tasks [like waiting for my clothes to go through the washer at the Laundromat, when ours was broken] I’ll say “That’s just enough time for 3 miles”

[I never DID do a run down there, as much fun as that would have been. That part of the Township happens to be sort of sketchy; not dangerous in any way, but I don’t know just how a little runner might have been regarded. I had a bit of an incident once while riding down there; it turns out that no matter how photogenic you think that a junkyard might be, some folks really don’t want you taking pictures of their rusting artifacts, regardless of HOW delightfully whimsical you found that old school bus to be]

Therefore, my “event duration” stats are accurate to … the nearest minute or so, maybe??? Some days I do get lucky and - in a fleeting moment of profound awareness - notice that “I finished my 5 miles in LESS than 45 minutes” How much less??? That can be tricky to define with any certainty.

Left Brain: I think we broke 9 minutes!!! When did we leave?
Right Brain: After we did that toe-touchy thing
L: When was that???
R: After that ankle-grabby thing
L: NO!!! I mean what time???!!!
R: It was the 3rd Quarter; Michigan and Illinois were tied at 38
L: OF DAY!!!
R: Can't help ya
L: I. Hate. You