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Archive for October, 2010

All Quiet

I totally stole this from the Wife – you can find her over at: http://adiaryofamom.wordpress.com/

.

On November first, 2010

Please join me

In shutting down Social Communication

For one day

.

No Twitter

No Facebook

No LOLs and OMGs

.

Just the quiet

That surrounds so many of our kids

.

A symbolic gesture

Of solidarity

And support

For those who struggle

Every day

To communicate

.

Raising funds and awareness across the globe

One person

At a time

.

Do you hear that?

The silence is deafening.

.

.

CLICK -> HERE <- TO JOIN

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High


Officer Thorny: Do you know how fast you were going back there?
College Boy 1: Umm…65?
Officer Thorny: …63.
College Boy 1: But…isn’t the speed limit 65?
Officer Thorny: Yes, it is.
[Pause]
College Boy 3: I’m freakin’ out, man!
Officer Rabbit: Yes, you are freaking out…man.

Opening scene of Super Troopers (2001)

Do you want to get high, so high

-Cypress Hill


[tweetmeme source=”luau” only_single=false http://www.URL.com]

Last March I ate a half marathon for lunch. At least, that’s the way I put it on my various social networks’ statuses. Obviously one cannot literally eat a half marathon, but I just as well could have said that I had smoked a half marathon because despite fighting a raging head cold, I spent the rest of that day and a better part of the following day on a high that I thought one could only achieve through, er, pharmaceuticals or love. I felt great. I don’t mean “walking around with a general sense satisfaction” great, no, I’m talking, Tony the Tiger, I…felt…GRRRRRREAT!  All of this due to a midday run that just happened to turn itself into a half-marathon.

By no means was it the farthest of runs; I had just done a slow rolling 18 miler with my buddy Mike a week and half before. Nor was it the fastest of runs either; I had flown through an 8 miler just two days earlier at a 7 minute per mile clip. It just happened to be one of those runs that hit that sweet spot (~7:45 pace for me at the time) – one that anybody who has been running for a certain amount of time eventually hits and then, like a love-sick teenager or a junkie, spends the rest of their time trying to re-create.

Personally, I love the runner’s high. You don’t get your heart-broken like the teenager nor do you end up ravaging your body like the junkie (quite the opposite really). Very few things feel better too – very few!

Just like any other potentially addictive thing though, you have to be careful with the runner’s high. I was still feeling great mentally the following night, but I could feel myself coming down. I wanted to pump up the endorphins again despite the fact that my head cold was now worse and had spread to my chest. The wife looked at me like I was crazy when I put on the shorts and began to head downstairs to run for an hour or two. I could hardly breathe and my eyes and nose were running like Niagara Falls. I just wanted a fix. I was also convinced that a run would cure my ailments. As I walked downstairs however, I had a moment of clarity and realized that rest was probably what my body needed more than anything else. That’s not to say I didn’t take one more step down the stairs before I finally turned around and crawled into bed.

Even as I drifted off to sleep, I could still feel my feet nudging me to get up.

I’ve spent most of my life not understanding why gamblers continue to gamble or why drug addicts continue to destroy themselves. I have a mildly addictive personality, but when something looks like it might permanently hurt me or those around me, I tend to know when and how to say no. But that night on the stairs, I caught a glimpse, just a glimpse, of what happens with true addicts. I just wanted to feel the way I had felt the day before and running was the delivery system. Had I felt just a touch better, I may have continued down the stairs, to my detriment.

***

After my run that day, all of the worries that had been weighing me down simply did not seem so weighty anymore. Yes, they were still there, but I felt better equipped to tackle them. And to a degree, that’s the point isn’t it? Running can better equip you to deal with your daily crises.  Imagine if we could get everyone to experience the runner’s high just once.  Just imagine.

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I have a friend, let’s call her K, who I have been encouraging to take up running for over a year now. She’s inching closer. Last year she got the equipment (shoes and clothing). This past summer she went out on a couple of short runs. There have been starts and stops. Currently she is in stop mode. She’s convinced that her time has passed; that time and children have done irreversible things to her body and she could never be a runner or in the shape she was in 20 years ago.

I tell K that I only took up running 2 years ago. Yes, I dabbled in running before, but 2 years ago, I was Christine O’Donnell…I was not a witch runner. I ate healthfully, I exercised occasionally, but by no means was I a runner. Today, I will admit that I am a runner.  I will also tell you that I am you (her).  When I started running, I didn’t think that I could run a marathon.

K looks at me and says she could never run as fast as me. Maybe. But I have the same thoughts when I look at my fast friends Steve, Caleb, Kristen and Lam. I don’t let that discourage me though. I use it as inspiration.  There’s always going to be someone faster and slower than you.

I tell K that because of running, I am in better shape at 41 than I was at 21.

Unless your name is Dean Karnazes, you don’t just wake up one day and decide you’re an Ultra-Marathon Man. It’s a progression. It takes time for one to go from the couch to the marathon. It goes faster for some, but the bottom line is, with little exception, we can all be runners, whether you top out at the 5K distance or progress to ultras.

K says over and over again, “no, I can’t.”

But I know she can say, “Yes, I can.”

Is it easy?

No.

Is it instant?

Never.

Is it worth it?

Absolutely!!!

There’s a reason why the Couch-to-5K and other walk/run programs are wildly successful.

So I ask you to leave a comment to tell K your story; tell my friend that she can turn back time and feel better than she did 20 years ago – that she needs to understand what we already know…yes, she can!

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[tweetmeme source=”luau” only_single=false http://www.URL.com]

You really couldn’t miss them could you? After seeing the pictures in my race report of the Smuttynose Marathon, many people asked me what I had done with my VFF’s (Vibram Five Fingers). You couldn’t miss the fact that I was wearing the bright radioactive orange Saucony Kinvaras for the marathon. Rest assured, I still have my Vibrams and I still use them.

Still, I know, it’s confusing. I’m “the Vibrams guy”. I’m the one who has been preaching the benefits of barefoot-style running. Every marathon I had run before Smuttynose, in fact every race save my very first, a 10k, has been in some model of the VFF’s.

So what gives? Why the switch?

Here’s the deal.  They don’t call the marathon a marathon for nothing.  It’s a long race.  I am still a novice at this running thing both in time and in skill.  Do I know more than the average Joe?  Sure.   Am I faster than the average runner?   Maybe a little.  But the bottom line is that my body and mind are still learning how to do this thing called running.

When running a 26.2 mile footrace, things start to break down, both mentally and physically. It can happen early or it can happen late, but inevitably, for me, it happens.  Somewhere along the course of 26.2 miles, my focus will wander and my form will break.  Old habits will kick in, and bad form will simply happen.

In shorter races (5K to Half-Marathon) I can get away with that. But at 26.2 miles, it’s hard to reel it back in.

What in the world does this have to do with the Kinvaras?

I love my Vibrams.  I do.  And I will continue to wear them and race in them at shorter distances. However, if I am going to be completely honest, I have to admit that in all three of my marathons where I wore the Vibrams, at some point, I was thinking about my feet.

Did my feet hurt? Not particularly.

Were there hotspots?   Definitely.

My problem was NOT with the Vibrams.   It was with me.  Physically and mentally, I am not good enough yet to maintain the focus and form necessary to run the way I want to for the marathon distance.

That’s where the Kinvaras come in.  They are Saucony’s entrant into the minimalist shoe arena. They are extremely light and have a minimal heel-to-toe drop (4mm I believe), and encourage a mid-foot strike.  They help you run the right way.

BUT they are soft underfoot. There is just enough cushion underneath to let you get away with bad form late in the race without encouraging it early on.  They are forgiving.  They also handle the road very well.  Tight turns or straight aways, the shoe has held up.

The one drawback of the Kinvaras may be that they want to go fast.  I found that from the moment I put them on the first time they simply wanted to go.  I initially struggled in keeping my pace down when I ran my long, slow runs.  I have since tamed the shoes somewhat, but I have discover that my perceived pace is actually much slower than my actual pace.  To have that feeling in a marathon is priceless, especially if you have the discipline to stay at your goal pace.  That feeling allowed me to have a nice kick at the end of Smuttynose.

I have found in the 8 weeks I have been running in the Kinvaras that I never, NEVER think about my feet.   As a runner, that is a huge luxury.  Even when my form began to break down at the Smuttynose Marathon, not once did I think of my feet.  My legs eventually grew tired, my energy ebbed, but my feet didn’t ask for attention at any point.

If you’re looking for a shoe that will encourage you to run with what I believe is proper form and let you forget out your feet, this is the one for you.  My personal favorite is the bright, radioactive orange, because you friends and family can spot you from a half-mile away.

The result at Smuttynose? The Kinvaras carried me to an 11 minute PR of 3:19:19.  An 11 minutes PR and a BQ.  A pretty convincing endorsement for a marathon shoe.

Team Kinvara at the Smuttynose Marathon 2010 - 3 PRs, 2 BQs

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[tweetmeme source=”luau” only_single=false http://www.URL.com]

So it’s finally sinking in. I did it. Almost 2 years ago I started running. Shortly thereafter I had the audacity to think I could qualify for Boston. A little under a year ago, my first shot ended in a Frankenstein’s Monster walk (3:54).  Next came the surprise of Boston 2010 as an invitational runner ending in heartbreak on Heartbreak Hill (3:32).  That was followed 2 weeks later with the oppressive heat and humidity of Providence (3:30).  Although I finished each of those marathons, they all ended in a failed attempt to qualify. I was inching closer, but a BQ still seemed like an impossibly difficult dream.

But two and a half weeks ago, I did it.  3:19:19.  I qualified for Boston with a little room to spare.  It has finally sunk in (I was one of the lucky one who signed up Monday morning at 9AM when registration opened). With New York less than 3 weeks away I have been wondering, “what now?”   Whether I decide to gun for 3:15 in New York or not, the truth is, for the last 16 months I have been focusing on one thing – a BQ.   As amazing as the feeling of finally accomplishing that goal was, the joy was in the journey. My three failed attempts fueled a fire and made the story that much more meaningful to me.

That journey is done, and despite my growing excitement for the New York Marathon and my anticipation of running Boston in both 2011 and 2012 (hopefully), I am now left with a feeling that something is missing.  In my world of running, I have done it!  I have achieved my goal.  It is time for a new journey.  So what’s next? What’s the next goal?  I’m still not sure, but here are two things that I am considering.

First, the probably impossible dream of a sub-3:00 marathon. Despite taking nearly 35 minutes off of my marathon time in just over 11 months, the idea of taking off another 20 minutes sounds downright insane. Plus, at my age, I’ll be lucky if I don’t start slowing down significantly very soon.  Still, it’s alluring.  Much like being able to say I BQ’d, how cool would it be to be able to say I had a sub-3:00 marathon under my belt?

The other possibility that I am seriously thinking about (and yes, Doug, I do remember that I did promise I would do it if I qualified for Boston at Smuttynose) is running the Vermont 50 this coming September. I have never run an ultra, and 50 miles is about as far as I ever want to go. I am definitely intrigued by the idea.  But this isn’t just 50 flat miles.  No, this is 50 miles through the Vermont terrain.  The elevation profile frightens me.  Because Smuttynose was run late in the year, I actually not only qualified for Boston 2011, but also Boston 2012 as well, so there won’t be the urgency of running another marathon in the fall – that is if the BAA doesn’t change the requirements for qualifying in light of this years rapid close.  If they do, that may be the tipping point for me.

So, what do you think? Do I go back to Hampton next October and shoot for a sub-3:00 marathon or do I head to the mountains of Vermont and run a 50 mile race?

Fortunately, I don’t have to decide just yet, so I’m going to concentrate on New York.  3:15 anyone?

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I think that BOS marathon registration just BQ’d…8h is a reasonable time for a 114 year old, right?

-Tweet by @petfxr

Only if the marathon is female.  It’s 7 1/2 [hours] for 114 yr old male

-Tweet by @LuckyRunner40

But age on race day is 115

-Tweet by @petfxr

[tweetmeme source=”luau” only_single=false http://www.URL.com]

Last night…no, check that, yesterday afternoon registration for the 115th Boston Marathon closed – 8 hours after it had opened.  This was, by far, faster than last year’s record of several weeks, which had in turn shattered the previous record set the year before of a couple of months.  Yup, if you had managed to BQ in the last 12 month months, but didn’t have phone or internet access yesterday, you are out of luck.  True, you can run for a charity or get lucky like I did last year by having an Invitational Entry handed to you, but if you simply wanted to register, and you went to do it after work yesterday, it’s “Sorry Charlie.”

I was lucky.  I got through on the computer at around lunch time.  Next year, who knows if that will be early enough.

8 hours.

8 FRAKKING HOURS!!!

As excited as I am, I am now a little nervous.  Another Twitter friend (@edschober) had the wisdom to point out, “[I] Bet the qualifying times for 2012 #bostonmarathon will be adjusted down…or they’ll triple the entry fee.”  My sudden fear now is that after BQ’ing for 2011 and 2012, I may get UBQ’s (UnBostonQualified) for 2012.  I understand the reasoning.  Although Boston isn’t the sole reason people run marathons in the Fall, there is a large contingent of runners who work all Summer to run a marathon in the Fall with the hopes of qualifying for Boston in the Spring.  Boston closing in 8 hours eliminated many of the Fall marathons, including the biggest one, New York City, from that equation.

If the BAA (Boston Athletic Association) doesn’t lower the times, you can bet that early fall marathons like  Bay State and Smuttynose will continue to grow in popularity, possibly driving up prices across the board.  I don’t know what the answer is.  It probably makes more sense for the BAA to lower the time rather than raise the fees (though who knows, maybe they’ll do both).

One final thought – let’s stop bashing the charity runners for this.  They only make up 5% of the field AND they do a lot of good.  Quite honestly, Boston would have closed yesterday regardless of whether there were charity slots or not.

Bottom line is that in all likelihood, I am going to have to get faster…or older faster, and I think I’m okay with that…I just hope that if the BAA lowers the times, they keep it within striking distance.

UPDATED: One last “last thought” – if runners are going to get angry at other runners for Boston filling up so quickly, they should be looking at runners like me.  Last year I was lucky enough to land an Invitational Entry and this year I was fortunate to qualify by a mere 1:40.  Please leave the charity runners out of it.

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New York is still just under 3 weeks away. Before running Smuttynose, I had told myself that if I had the good fortune of qualifying for Boston, my approach to New York would be that of a fun run, a celebration, a victory lap. I was going to soak in every mile of the New York City Marathon experience, not caring what my time was.

That was my intent.

However, after watching the fantastic finish at the Chicago Marathon and tracking my friends at Chicago, Portland and Bay State, several of whom had BQ’s of their own, there’s been this voice; this voice that’s whispering in my ear.

It’s whispering, “3:15…3:15…3:15”.

I don’t even know if I can run a 3:15!

And furthermore, there’s no real reason for me to be attempting 3:15. By the time November 7th arrives, I will have already registered for Boston 2011 (registration opens this morning at 9:00AM), so it’s not like I’d improve my corral placement. On top of that, with only 5 weeks between Smuttynose and New York, no one is really expecting to see any kind of improvement, are they? Of course, the last time I ran 2 marathons so closely together, I did manage a 2 minute PR.

So I’ve been asking myself, could I take 4 minutes off in New York? Should I even try?

To make matters worse, my friend David (@DP_Turtle), who BQ’d at Chicago and finished Boston last year 11 seconds ahead of me, has thrown down a challenge. He will be running New York and is thinking maybe we should have a little side bet. Before you try stop me, it’s too late! We have agreed that the loser at New York is buying the winner a beer at Boston 2011. True, that’s not a whole lot on the line – it’s just a beer…and bragging rights!

Now, I did say early on, that I was planning on stopping to see everyone I know along the way and snapping a picture. Can I still do that and run harder than I did at Smuttynose? I don’t know. It’s doubtful.

So you see? I’m conflicted. I want to enjoy my victory lap. I want to hug every friend along the way (though after a few miles they may not want to hug me). But the competitive nature in me is whispering, “3:15…3:15…3:15”.

What’s a runner to do? What do you think?

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