Accessorizin’! Nathan Trail Mix 4 Fuel Belt

There are lots of opinions out there surrounding the use of fuel belts on long runs.  Put me down for a “Hell Yes.”  It’s well established that I have no problem looking like a thoroughbred dork while I’m out pounding the pavement, so wearing this thing is definitely not a stretch for me.  About the only minor complaints I have are that carrying 2-3 pounds of water around my waist takes a little bit of getting used to (yet the 20-25 pounds of fat I carry around my waist is no big deal; go figure…), and the belt tends to loosen itself a bit when there are 3-4 full bottles on it, requiring the occasional (easy) on-the-fly adjustment.  However, words cannot adequately express how much better I feel in the throes of a 1.5+ hour run, with ample water and fuel within arm’s reach.

‘Tis better to be a well-hydrated doofus, than to look cool (yes, a most relative and charitable term) and be thirsty, sez me.

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Pride and Fall: 16.02 Miles

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Loath as I am to recap an entire week or so of training here on SFOT, I will do just that, if only because it was remarkable.  By my piss-poor standards, that is.

Less than two weeks ago, I did the unthinkable: logged four miles at a 9:00 pace.  I hadn’t done that since my first running “career,” over a decade ago.  So, it is only natural that I would try to get this down into the “eights” the next time I would do this loop, a week ago.  And I did, but at a price.  Setting out at a brisk pace last Monday, I covered so much ground before the thirty-minute “beep” sounded on my watch, I was certain the sumbitch was broken.  With the finish line in sight, I decided to pour it on, only to catch a bit of uneven curb with my toe, a mere 40 yards from the end.

It happens so quickly, but time really does stand still.  On my half-second tumble to the asphalt, every hospital in Mercer County flashed before my eyes.

Graveyards, too.

Shit, I have a flight in three hours!

Did I leave the oven on?

Impact.

There were no audible signs of broken bones, which I took as a good sign.  I pretty much hurt like bloody hell, but stubborn pride would only allow me to “spring” up and “bolt” to the newspaper boxes at the next corner, where I would take inventory of my wounds.  Somehow, I got out of there with a bloody right knee, a pretty badly bruised right elbow, and some scraped knuckles on my left hand.  On the bright side, the next day would be my off day.  And what timing; one more 5:00 am run in Houston might really have been the death of me.

Despite the near-ER experience, I knocked 19 seconds/mile off my past performance on the 4-mile loop.  A new bar has been set for me on short runs; 10-minute miles are no longer acceptable to this garden slug with running shoes.

The after-effects of this spill made my Wednesday 8-miler a true exercise in masochism; I’m hard pressed to conjure up worse running partners than a sore back and stiff neck.  Still, I managed to log a 10:15 pace on an easy-ish course, selected as a concession to my convalescence.  For good measure, I followed that up on Thursday with my best 5-miler ever (9:24/mile).

There was a time, not too long ago, where any plans to add mileage on Saturday would haunt me all week.  Not this time.  I woke up.  I dressed.  I ran.  I ran some more.  I stopped to take a squirt somewhere in Hopewell, shortly before the woods thinned out (First time Road Whiz.  I know; what took me so long?!?).  I made it home in under three hours, at which point I could have bartered away a family member for five minutes alone with a bottle of Flexeril and a fifth of Irish whiskey.  Coffee and a donut would have to suffice; beer would be about twelve hours away.

I know you’re only as good as your last run, but for the first time ever, I really feel like I’ve GOT this, despite how much preparation still lies ahead, not to mention the prospect of six additional miles of who-the-hell-knows-what on race day.  Still, the fear is gone.  Gone.  For now, anyway.

Deer Count! 9 (Living Deer Count: 9!)

Toenail Update!  About three sore ones, bilaterally.  A little bit of discoloration on the right middle digit.

Fifteen for My Fifth: 15.05 Miles

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Who’s wedding anniversary is today?  Who kicked off their big day by getting out of bed at 3:45 am to run 15 miles?  How does the divorce rate of distance runners compare with that of the general population?  Who’s had enough questions for a Saturday morning?

If I were to say that I’m not yet tired of going to bed at 9:30 on a Friday night, I’d be lying.  Lying like Paul Ryan about his marathon finish time.  Yes, this getting-up-way-too-damn-early nonsense is quickly getting old; Presidential campaign old.

But the show goes on.  I walked out the door at 4:00 am sharp, into a beautiful, clear, 60-degree “morning.”  Sigh, I remember when 4:00 am was still “night.”  But I guess there comes a time to put away childish things.

After the usual (i.e., sucky) first mile and the big climb up Bear Tavern past the airport, everything fell into place very quickly for me.  I can honestly say I didn’t really “feel” anything until well into the thirteenth mile, when a bit of hunger set in, and various minor twinges made themselves known to me.  For my money, the scariest part was the two miles or so spent on Route 29 and Maddock Road.  The former is a two-lane State highway with no shoulders to speak of; the latter, a 1.5 mile stretch of rural beauty by day that is just so much pitch-black nothingness in the middle of the night.  Oh, and I almost rolled my ankle something wicked at about the 14-mile mark.  Occupational hazards of running in the dark, I suppose.

Crossing the imaginary finish line, I absolutely, positively could have kept going, believe it or not.  Overall, this journey was a massive win for me.  Beyond the objective data from this run (especially, longest distance ever), knowing how good I felt throughout and how much energy I had at the end are very good signs.  I fully realize that I’m still eleven miles short of my ultimate goal, but this is some real progress I’m making here.

Deer Count! 6 (Living Deer Count: 5)

Toenail Update!  All ten still look and feel A-O-K.

According to my dailymile stats, I burned over 2,000 calories this morning (in reality, my actual burn was probably quite a bit higher, because dailymile doesn’t know I’m a lard-ass).  Before the sun came up.  Happy Anniversary, indeed.

Speaking of…hardly anybody reads this pile of garbage (yet, I hope), but I can’t quite explain how lucky I’ve been to have Lady Legs-o-Lead by my side all these years, and as my wife for the past five.  She has given me undying love, a beautiful son (with another on the way), and too many memories to count.  Happy Anniversary, Lady.

Clearance!

WARNING! DO NOT READ WITHIN TWO HOURS OF A MEAL!

I was unable to log my short Monday run.  Several hours after enjoying a yummy Sunday lunch with friends at a beloved haunt near the West Trenton train station, I still felt…full.  Which is extremely odd for this here human trash disposal.  Visiting friends for an impromptu barbecue/playdate (oh, my…I just used the “p-word,” without irony or derision.  I have indeed gone to the dark side), I could barely eat a damned thing.  I’d planned on putting back just enough to be polite, but that was about it.  However, when not even the hot dogs looked good, I knew something was amiss.

Nobody bothered to give me much advance warning, but I would soon learn that my gastrointestinal tract decided to have a Closeout Sale, as in EVERYTHING MUST GOOOOO!!!  Somehow, I was able to neatly and discreetly “relieve” myself in our guests’ powder room, in a short enough time span that nobody asked me if I “fell in,” or something similarly sophomoric.  Hoping I was all better, I gutted out the rest of the gathering, though my complete lack of interest in food, even after I’d just “made room” for it, was alarming.

Except I wasn’t better.  Once I’d admitted my plight, Lady Legs-o-Lead could not get us home fast enough.  I was afraid I was about to destroy the interior of our sensible compact sedan, torpedoing its resale/trade-in value before we unload it in favor of a “family car.”  I learned that Kegel exercises are definitely not just for women.

Home.  Believe it or not, about one half dozen episodes of”Family Guy Puke” ensued.  I was a human fountain of partially digested food and liquefied excrement, racked with chills, and more than a bit dizzy.  I wanted to die.

The main symptoms subsided in the middle of the night, but I awoke Monday a hollowed-out half-a-man.  Weak as a kitten with feline leukemia.  So dehydrated, and having donated every nutrient in my body to the local sewage system, I could have cramped up my calves just by looking at them.  Work was out of the question.  Food was out of the question.  Running was definitely out of the question.  The only thing not out of the question was wrapping myself in a blanket, lounging on the recliner, and catching up on The Sopranos (What a great show!  Have you heard of it?).

So THAT is why I skipped my Monday run.  I know; what a wuss, right?  I should probably stop kicking the shit out of myself over it; I’d been 100% compliant with my training schedule for the first ten weeks, and I only missed a 4-miler.  Looking back over the training for my 13.1s, I recall that I missed training runs (even weekend 8- and 10-milers) like the NFL replacement referees miss obvious cases of defensive pass interference (i.e., left and right), yet managed to do just fine on race day, but this is different.  TWICE as different.  But still, as much as I read about flexibility, flexibility, flexibility, I feel like missing even one training run will be the difference between a finisher’s medal on November 18th, and an unscheduled visit to Hahnemann Hospital.

I’m overthinking this, aren’t I?

Radioactive Technical Fabrics!!!

“Oh…it looks good on you, though.”  -Al Czervik, Caddyshack

In addition to my new shoes, I decided to stock on up running clothes over Labor Day weekend.  September really is like Christmas for this tubby stumbler.

Because I am not made of money, I want the cheapest comfortable gear I can get my hands on, because I’ve learned the hard way that no matter how well I care for it (better than I used to, but I’m still often forced to stuff wet gear into a suitcase for the day, or “bake-dry” it in a rental car) it will fall apart and/or smell like hot greasy death before I know it.  Therefore, Nike, Under Armour, and whoever else can suck it; I prefer the Champion C9 line, which is carried exclusively by Target.  Insert joke here, about “exclusively” and “Target” appearing in the same sentence.

Since I do the majority of my runs before most of the world gets out of bed, visibility is of paramount importance.  This means I deliberately select colors that I would otherwise not be caught dead wearing.  Luckily for me, one of my favorite colors has always been “Highway Safety Cone, with a Whisper of Salmon.”

This photograph really does not do it justice.  I’m can’t be absolutely certain of this, but I think the label describes the fabric content as “99.5% Polyester, 0.5% Plutonium-239.”  When I showed this piece of haute couture to Lady Legs-o-Lead, she was temporarily blinded.  And her hair started falling out.

Because we live in a century-old home with period-appropriate closet space (i.e., hardly any), and also enjoy pretending we’re still in college, we keep some of our clothing – and all of my running gear – in a re-purposed bookcase in our bedroom.  I was a little bit worried that the glow from this shirt would keep my lovely bride awake at night, so I usually hide it under several pair of old, crotch-rotted compression shorts.  I’m a little bit afraid of being subjected to “enhanced” security screening at the airport, so I think I’ll have to leave this item behind when I skip town on business.

Suffice it to say, if I’m ever vaporized by a motor vehicle while out on an early morning run, it will probably not have been an accident.

SLoB is an ID-iot: 9.4 miles

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“Life I embrace you / I shall honor and disgrace you / Please forgive if I replace you / You see I’m going through some pain / But now I see clearly / And the dawn is coming nearly / And though I’m human and it’s early / I swear I’ll never forget again”

-Blues Traveler, “Optimistic Thought”

I wish I could say that Trenton Thunder baseball did not mess with my Saturday long run a second week in a row, but I have the willpower of a hypothetical someone named I.D. Idderson, so you can imagine how that went.  Aggravating matters further, a postponement to Sunday was out of the question due to prior engagements, and the rest of Saturday was not looking so good, either.  So I set a 5:15 am alarm on my cell phone, which happened to die while I was in the midst of sleeping off nine innings’ worth of beer and hot dogs.

Falling out of bed a few minutes past 6:00, I realized that the full ten miles was not in the cards, because I was hoping not to be the rate-limiting factor in the day’s activities – nobody’s fault but mine that I didn’t get up on time.  Rather than bag it altogether – which really was looking like a great option at that point – I decided to modify my Ewing-Hopewell Death March, down to (what I thought would be) a reasonable eight miles; considerably less than what Hal Higdon ordered, but a galaxy better than my fat ass going back to bed for another hour.

I felt way better on this run that I deserved to and, thanks to my failing spatial skills, only pared about a half mile off of my scheduled ten.  Which was great for the training schedule, but not so much for Saturday’s “life” schedule.  I can’t wait until I need to get up at 3:30 on Saturday mornings to get in my long runs without ruining the rest of my and my family’s day.  Just why am I doing this, again?!?

The good news is that my stunning lack of self-control Thunder baseball will not wreck a long weekend run for me until next April at the very earliest.  The bad news is that I just know it will happen again someday…because I know me.

A Half of One: Aftermath

The Boy woke up a little bit before I got home from today’s run, so I excused Lady Legs-o-Lead, so that she might finish her sleep.  I started my post-run recovery by sitting on the couch, watching a Curious George DVD, eating a toasted bagel with peanut butter, and drinking three cups of coffee.  You have to replenish those fluids.

A few hours later, I folded myself into my Volkswagen Jetta and drove the 45 miles to Philadelphia International Airport.  Creaking out of my low-end German import, I felt ninety years old.  Just missing the cut for a standby seat on an earlier flight, I had an hour to kill.  Because Terminal F at PHL sucks donkey dong (even more so than the rest of that ghastly airport), there was nowhere to sit.  Which was probably a blessing in disguise; who knew if I would be able to get up?  I stood near a recycling bin for an hour, feeding it sections of The New York Times as I finished skimming them; I was too tired to read.  The flight attendant would thank me.

I boarded a Canadair Regional Jet, the passenger cabin of which was likely engineered by a midget with a vicious mean streak; I mean, what the FUCK?!?  Using this aircraft for a flight of more than 250 miles should be a felony, but I digress.  After two hours on this medieval torture device with wings, I disembarked in Indianapolis, hobbled into a rental car, and drove two hours to Fort Wayne.

Thankfully, my rental car had a satellite radio, so I rocked out to “Hair Nation” for all 130 miles of this road-tripper’s paradise.  Faster Pussycat, anyone?  Arriving at the Fort Wayne Marriott, I dumped my gear and treated myself to a succulent plate of barbecue pulled pork, and a sufficient quantity of red, red wine.

I might be wrong on this, but this could be exactly how NOT to recover from a 13.1 mile run.  To get back on the schedule, I owe myself four miles before the crack of dawn, but I am already stiff as a board.  I don’t think this will end well.