Thursday, September 27, 2007

Paolo, Dr. Hilarious, Students, and Al's Leg

Paolo Nutini

Months ago The Colleague and I got tickets to see Amy Winehouse and Paolo Nutini at the Paramount on September 25th. Then Winehouse had to go all Rehab on us and cancel the tour. Seriously though, she's getting her act together.

Truth be told, we weren't interested in Winehouse anyway. It was Paolo we were after.

Then, in a bit of web surfing delight, I noticed that Paolo kept his concert date, moved to the headliner spot, and moved the show to The Moore. Yee Haw!

I'll say this much: Paolo can sing. His voice is amazing, and he writes some damn good songs. But dude has no stage presence and it only gets worse when he is HAMMERED on stage. He and Winehouse would have made an excellent duo. Here's Paolo covering Winehouse's "Rehab". Appropriate...

Dr. Hilarious
In other news, I finally broke down and went to see Dr. Hilarious about my tweaked calf muscle. It has been healing, I think, but it still worries me to race on it next week.

Dr. Hilarious: What the FUCK are you doing here?
GVB: Errr. It's running related.
Dr. H: Of course it is.
GVB: So...I have this marathon coming up.
Dr. H: Of course. Why wouldn't you?
GVB: What should I do?
Dr. H: Stretch, hydrate, and run like hell.
GVB: Oh. Ok.

Totally worth the co-pay.

Back to school, back to reality. This was in my email this morning:

yo G i have some quests bout the essay so were basically supposed to describe how sports is a lil world in our society or that sports is its own lil world and then after describe how it affects our culture and everything that goes round in sports for example like racism, cheatin n etc right?

Dear Student. Are you FUCKING KIDDING ME?

Al's Leg
Al B is pondering some racing and other idiocy in the face of an injury. Let's all join in and tell all to settle down with a nice bottle of scotch and chill of a couple of weeks. At his advanced age, one more injury could be curtains.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Long Run Review

Three weeks to the Portland 'Thon. After hitting a massive training wall, losing my will to lace up the shoes, and vowing to quit training and just run the damn race, I sucked it up and went out for my weekly long run on Sunday.

I barely managed 38 miles last week, and that included the 20 Cap'n Ron and I did last Sunday on the always tragic Burke Gilman Trail. So this week needs to step up a little bit so I can hit my peak mileage before starting to taper for the race.

So I put together a route from the Palace to Edmonds, ending at the health club, where The Colleague intended to meet me after her stretchy-bendy class. I built in a three our and fifteen minute window and headed off in the rain.

The run details are here.

The first two miles loop from the Palace, out around Bothell High School, and down into Downtoown Bothell. It's still weird running these streets that I grew up hating so much. The neighborhoods are still the same, and I remember who lived in which houses as I run past them. Miles 3-6 head out to Canyon Park and then back up toward my childhood neighborhood (my junior high, elementary school, etc). Weird. A lot of the same families live in the same old houses, and really not much has changed over the years. At mile 7 I realized I was running around 8:15 per mile and needed to slow down. But by this point I was feeling great and was running downhill with several flat miles ahead of me on the Burke Gilman Trail, so I just backed off a little bit and thought I was doing 8:30 or so.

I ran down through the Cascadia campus and picked up the trail there for a flat cruise down to Lake Forest Park.

During the stop for more water at Log Boom Park I checked my splits: 8:15 up to mile 14. Damn! Well, fuck it. Let's do this.

The next 4 miles were a brutal series of hills and windy roads up from Lake Forest Park to Mountlake Terrace. There's just no way around those damn things. But when I reached I-5 I was still averaging 8:20 and feeling strong. I sucked down a gel, realized I was almost out of water, but pressed on. All I had to do was get to mile 19 and then the last 2 were a downhill cruise into Edmonds where the hot tub and The Colleague were waiting!

Those of you who know the area know how "lovely" the main drag from Mountlake Terrace into Edmonds is. Screaming traffic and brutally crooked sidewalks. Still, I've run this stretch several times and knew what I was in for. I also know that I could, if I wanted to, veer off into the neighorhoods and get away from the main drag.

As I was checking my watch at the top of the hill and marveling at how good I still felt, I stopped feeling so good. I had about 3 steps worth of warning before my right calf cramped up. A big old golf ball right on the lower part of the muscle, and a big old F-Bomb from yours truly. 2.5 miles to go!

I stopped for a minute, thought about quitting and hitching a ride into Edmonds, stretched, tried a little jogging, and found a stride that I could manage, especially down hill. I'm sure I looked like I had crapped my pants or had suffered some sort of testicular trauma, but I was running and it didn't feel that bad. At one point, I thought the leg might stop hurting and give in to my willpower. But no, it kept on hurting and cramping up.

I limped into Edmonds 21.35 miles after leaving home, with plenty of energy left but a wounded muscle.

Of course Cap'n Ron yelled at me for running too fast, but after hitting the wall the week prior, I had to get out and convince myself that I could still do this race.

Here's what I learned:

•Running on hills and in varied terrain makes long days actually fun. No more long slogs on recreational trails.
•The taper is massively important. The only reason I could do this run is because I had taken a few days off before. My body was just getting beaten down by the training.
•If I hadn't cramped up, I could have maintained a pace around 8:15 for quite a while. When I look at my splits, there are a few 8:05 miles in the middle of the run, and an 8:20 at mile 21. Could I have done this or more for another 5 miles?
•It doesn't seem to matter how much I drink on the run, I still get dehydrated. The trick seems to be saturating the system in the day and hours before the run and then just maintaining during the run. The fact that The Colleague and I were out on the boat all night the night before, sampling wine and scotch to our late night (ok, early morning) content probably did not help the hydration much. Errrr.
•There is no time that Paolo Nutini's "Rewind" isn't a perfect song. Mile 20? Perfect.
•Body Glide. Don't forget the nipples. Never forget the nipples. Or wear a shirt that doesn't show blood stains.

That's all for now. I'm off to have some more water.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Learnin' Factory 2007-2008 Preview

Woke up this morning and it was fall already. Foggy and cool, school buses everywhere, spiders in every sink drain, and an In Box full of "Welcome Back" messages from various ineffectual leaders at The Learnin' Factory.

So, after killing a spider the size of a small salad plate, dropping kids off at their respective institutions of public education (and saying howdy to "Too Old For MySpace Guy"), and purging my email, I have given in to the idea that work is once again starting. Here is my official 2007-2008 preview of the Learnin' Factory...

The More Things Change...

After ending last year with hopes that Pear Shaped Woman, Sweater Girl, and the MW's would use summer to get lives of their own, all early evidence suggests that the lame bitching and whining will continue full-force and in a variety of venues. On the plus side, all participants in the bitch-fest are at least 3 full sizes larger than they were in the spring. It's ok to skip a meal once in a while, folks.

Prediction: GVB, RPD, AW, and Math Dude, and The Colleague will get the pleasure of watching the world's slowest train wreck over the next three months. By the time The Colleague and I are luxuriating poolside with tropical drinks over the holiday, Pear Shaped Woman will be contemplating retirement, MW#1 will have alienated those few remaining people who think she has a brain, and MW#2 will be acting like nothing ever happened. Also, GVB will continue to hold a grudge over MW#2 for comparing me to the asshole who runs this country.

Get Thee Back to Kansas
Once this ridiculous self-study fiasco is complete, the exhalted leader will shuffle his 5'2" body back to Kansas, where he will spend his recent 20% raise on corn fed beef and shoe lifts.

Prediction: After lamely promoting a non-descript, feckless female dean or VP to Interim President, the BOT will hire a 75 year old handicapped black lesbian former Tully's manager to lead the college into the inevitable dark ages ahead. Theater Gal will not-so-quietly take over the college from inside her "Black Box"

If You Build It, It Will Be Obsolete in Two Years

Those new buildings sure are nice. Too bad they don't add any classroom space or public areas that students can use. The only benefit will be clearing the god damned Math Department out of Alderwood Heights.

Prediction: Five years from now I will still have the same lame ass office space I have now, while an over-paid computer instructor with no students to teach and no advanced degrees will have the entire fourth floor of a new building, with a private elevator and a staff of hundreds to manage his/her reassigned time project: "Creative Funding for Obsolete Faculty Positions".

Problem Solved, Problem Revisited, Problem Re-Solved

Complaint: We don't like A&W Rootbeer in the vending machines.
Response: Ok, we reduced the amount of A&W Rootbeer in the vending machines and have a plan for making the vending options more representative of the desires of the staff.

Complaint: Why was there A&W Rootbeer in the vending machines? It used to be that we had Fanta.

Respose: That change was made several years ago and you were given a chance to express your preferences at that time but did not. And in fact, over the last 20 years, we have changed rootbeer brands several times without complaint. This change is no different from those.

Complaint: It appears that there is a conspiracy to force Fanta out of the college. No one asked us if we wanted A&W Rootbeer. Those who prefer Fanta have been here for 20 years. Where is the respect? Maybe in the future you could ask one of us about what is best for the college's rootbeer needs. We have been here for 40 years collectively.

Response: I believe we answered the question as to how the rootbeer change was made and when you were able to be involved in that decision.

Complaint: This is a radical departure from the way soft drink selection has been made in the past. We just want to know how this decision was made.

Response: Errr. What is this really about?

Complaint: I'm old and not very smart and increasingly irrelevant and mean and petty and I despise people who appear to be better off than me and...

Response: Right. This isn't really about rootbeer? Shocking. Go away.

Blood Transfusions Work!

In the coming year, several new teachers will arrive at the factory and illustrate through example that most of our faculty here at the Learnin' Factory are terrible, terrible teachers who only have jobs because there is no real assessment of performance here.

Stop Hitting Me!

At some point in the coming 9 months, GVB will come unglued at a meeting and will tell Pear, Sweater, and the MW's exactly what he thinks about them. This will not be received well.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

This is What I've Hit

I officially hate training now. My last three runs have sucked. MOST of the last long day was good, but I suffered for the last 2 miles and just wanted to quit. Now I have to force myself to get the shoes on, and I am coming up with a million better things to do instead of training...

1. Wash the neighbor's dog
2. Kill the neighbor's dog
3. Dig up last year's papers and re-grade them all. Longhand.
4. Hunt a gray whale with a high powered rifle
5. Reduce my forces in the war against idiocy by 30,000

And to make it worse? Cap'n Ron is motivated and running away from me as I sit and type this.

So, come on folks, send along the motivation. Let's hear it.

Is it October 7th yet?

Monday, September 03, 2007

Race Rules Committee Report

A couple of weeks ago I was running the Burke Gilman Trail near the new Suburban Palace and saw a sign that said "Expect Heavy Pedestrian Traffic September 3rd". Turns out there was a half marathon planned that day. Hmmm. Why not throw a race into the training mix? So that night I signed up for the Super Jock and Jill Half Marathon.

Before I get into the race details, here are some New Running Race Rules as drafted and approved by The Colleague and myself as we arrived at the starting area today.


Runners Race Rule #1A: Never wear the shirt from that day's race in the actual race.

Runners Race Rule #1B: Never wear the shirt from the same race last year before, during, or after the actual race. No one cares that you ran this course last year.

Runners Race Rule #1C: Those "Such and Such Marathon Finisher" shirts are great for wearing around town or even training in, but they don't do much to impress the people at the starting area of a major race.

Runners Race Rule #2: You aren't as fast as the people around you. Line up farther back than you think you should.

Runners Race Rule #3: Thank all volunteers, cops, crossing guards, and friendly locals who come out to support your race.

Runners Race Rule #4: A fat out of shape Boeing engineer who finishes a half marathon in 4 hours deserves more acknowledgement than super-fast Lycra Man from Eugene.

Runners Race Rule #5: I'm all for combining walking events with running events, but any group of housewives walking five abreast on a narrow part of the course should be shot on sight.

Runners Race Rule #5A: Men who run races while their spouses walk the course must take at least one race off a year to walk with said spouse.


Organizers Race Rule #1: Gun time sucks. If you're using chip timing, you MUST have both starting and finishing mats. I shouldn't be counted for the time it takes for Crazy Legs McGee and his seven drinking buddies to get the hell out of my way.

Organizers Race Rule #1A: Use the shoelace timing chips. Whoever invented the timing chip that straps around your ankle should be killed.

Organizers Race Rule #2: All races should start and end at a brewery. Having the finish line at Red Hook? Brilliant! How good did a cold ESB sound at about mile 10?

Organizers Race Rule #3: Announce finishers' names before they get to the finish line. If a runner has friends and family supporting him, give them a chance to cheer to them TO the finish line, not across it. Duh.

Organizers Race Rule #3A: Have an advertised spectator area in the middle of the race, complete with split times, a clock, and announcers calling out runners' names.

Organizers Race Rule #3B: Have reliable splits on the course. Some wonk with a stopwatch sitting under a bridge calling out seconds doesn't count.

Organizers Race Rule #4: Real goodie bags. Coupons? Advertising? Ink pens? What the fuck? How about something useful?

Organizers Race Rule #5: Racers should be able to declare personal goals before the race and should be acknowledged for meeting or beating those goals. No one really cares who wins these things, except the winners.

Organizers Race Rule #6: T-Shirts AFTER the race, idiots. It goes like this: show up, stretch, hydrate, fuel, race, finish, timing chip off, water, "here's your t-shirt!"

Organizers Race Rule #6A: 2 t-shirts, idiots. Cheap one for everyone, cool tech shirt for finishers.

Organizers Race Rule #7: Out and back sections suck balls. And not in a good way. Loops, folks. Loops. The clusterfuck on the UW Bothell campus that runners at miles 6, 8, and 9 passing the same fuel station? Pure pain. No one wants to see the 5:00 milers on their way to the finish line while they are struggling up the hill at mile 6.

Spectator Race Rule #1: If you don't want to be there, don't. Your spouse or girlfriend or boyfriend doesn't need you "cheering" him or her on if you are pissed that you aren't at home watching football.

Spectator Race Rule #1A: If you're coming out to cheer on a friend or loved one, it might help to know his or her goals so you can congratulate them at the finish. This means you, Bored Woodinville Housewife at Finish Line: "Hi honey! You finished in 1:40. Is that good? What place is that? What do you get?" Ugh.

Spectator Race Rule #2: Cheer for other people. Someone struggling through mile 11? Give them a pep talk! It sounds stupid from the sidelines, but even a complete stranger saying "Come on! Only 2 more miles! You're looking great!" matters. (see Organizer's Race Rule #3 and #3A regarding calling out runners' names)

Spectator Race Rule #3: Stay the fuck off the race course. This means you, fat stupid redneck from Bothell in the yellow Ford t-shirt on Main Street with your toothless girlfriend. "Der, what are all of these cones for?"

Ok, so to the race...GPS data is here. Comments below...

I've never actually run a race when I was seriously training, so I had no idea what to expect. In fact, I signed up for the Half just to see how the training would affect my racing. Short version: training works. How do I know?

1. I ran a very consistent pace (7:16) without using my GPS or a stopwatch on the course.

2. I was a full half minute per mile faster than my previous half marathon pace.

3. My heart rate stayed low most of the race, and when it did peak (on the steep climb around mile 6) it dropped right back down as soon as my pace evened out.

4. I had plenty of fuel and very little muscle fatigue.

5. I needed no recovery time the next day.

This race is a keeper, for sure. I'll come back next year. It is well organized, the course is fast, it's close to home, and it starts and ends at the Red Hook Brewery. That's hard to beat.

Now I'm back on the training for Portland. One month away now. Yikes! Cap'n Ron thinks I should revise my goal pace for the 26.2 based on this half, but I am holding to my original goals for Portland:

1. Finish

2. Don't get injured

3. Have fun running with the Cap'n

My plan is still to go out at 8:30 or so for the first 20 and see how I feel for the last 6. Since I haven't done a full 26.2 before, I have no idea how to push for a time. I'll race for time in Vancouver next spring...Of course, I was going to go out to this half marathon and run 8:00 miles and take it easy. Best laid plans and all.