Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snowfall, Vacations, and Injuries. One Stop Shopping.

We've got it all here at SailRunClimbRide. Well, everything except sailing, running, climbing, or riding. But if you're all nice, we might just throw in some of that as well. Let me talk to my manager and see what I can do for you...

It's snowing. But you know this because it is WINTER STORM 2008! or some variant thereof, depending on which local channel you watch. I'm happy to not be out in it, though I am tempted to go for a run on the BG trail later. And actually, given the experience I just had delivering SuperVan to the bottom of the hill for any future transportation needs, I don't think running is a terribly strong plan.

Dear students,

You have had 11 weeks to ask me about grading policies and assignment scores, and my Out-of-Office message should be a hint that I don't want you to bother me about why you missed 3 points on your first paper back in October. Also, I apologize on behalf of the US Public Education System that you don't understand how percentages work or how to read a simple chart that converts percentage scores to decimal scores. I'm on vacation. Leave me alone.

I am also not a financial aid advisor, so I don't know how you're failure in my class will affect your cash flow. Sorry.

Oh, and I recognize your name from my roster, but since you never came to class or office hours, I have no idea who you are. I don't know if that has any effect on your grade or not...

Dr. Hilarious is on vacation until January, so I don't have the details yet, but symptoms suggest GVB is running with torn abdominal muscles (aka sports hernia). Awesome. When I was running every day in training for the Seattle Marathon, I assumed the pain in my non-existent abs was simply sore muscles. But when the pain got worse in the layoff after the race, knew something was up.

Sports hernias are interesting monsters. Apparently what happens is that the muscles of the upper leg get stronger than the muscles in the abdominal wall, to which they are attached. The stronger muscles win the tug-of-war and tear the weaker ones. Good times. So know it is a forced layoff to see how this heals up. Then a LOT more core strength work in addition to ramping up the training for Vancouver. I'm not to hip on the idea of surgery to repair this thing. I'd rather not have someone cut me open and stitch my muscles back together, thanks. Even doing sit ups and crunches sounds better than that.

Bonus Material
  • The 'Hood is officially for sale. You can make the check out to the Pacific Seacraft 25 we want.
  • The 12K's of Christmas, scheduled for last Sunday and "skipped" by me when the sheet of ice appeared on our hill, was apparently canceled, though the race committee didn't notify anyone of that fact. As a consolation prize? I get to sign up for another one of their races at a discount. Oooooh. Thanks. Assholes.
  • Puerto Vallarta, Florida, New York City, Pasadena, Kenya. Anywhere else I need to go in the coming months? Let me know.
  • Confession: I watch The Real Housewives of Orange County. Fact: I didn't know shows like that could jump the shark, but apparently they can. Yikes.
  • I am going back to school to become a chef. It seems fun.
  • is the latest reason I am not getting anything done. Related note: a few episodes of Kitchen Nightmares are ok. More than that and you are just torturing yourself with massively formulaic "reality" television.

End Transmission

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Of Goals Not Met: Now With More Shame!

CNN is Calling it Early...
I know the year isn't over yet, but it's 8:00 p.m. EST on election night and a comeback is a mathematic improbability. I'm calling it. I missed my yearly mileage goal. And that might explain part of why I sucked so bad at the Seattle Marathon. Now that I've officially come up short, the pundits can tear into my past mistakes and analyze them with the precision of hindsight...

Today's 5 mile run through the ghetto of Kenmore put me at 803 miles for the year. Unless I do nothing but run from now until New Year's Eve, I'm going to come up short of the 1,000 mile goal I set for myself. So that sucks.

I'm shooting for 1,000 next year, and how much do you want to bet that if I get there, my marathon times will improve along the way? Sucker bet, I know. Mileage is the key to those long races, and I just didn't pack in the miles this year. My best months were October and November, at over 100 miles each, but those included all of my long training runs AND the Seattle Marathon, so you would expect those to be high. I should be running consistent 100 mile months (more like 150, actually, if my weekly mileage is where it should be).

Obama raised his campaign fortune $5 at a time, and I think there is a lesson there for everyone. I need more frequent little runs packed around my long weekend runs to build up the miles. 5 here, 6 there...that's the ticket. Anyone care to make a small donation?

So in addition to not making my goal pace at the Seattle Marathon, I am now shamed by missing my mileage goal. I also didn't cure AIDS, discover any physical principles, or bungee jump from a bridge in New Zealand. Oh well, there's always next year.

Hey GVB, What's Up Next?
Another chance to come up short! The Vancouver Marathon is on May 3rd. Cap'n Ron will be there again, and so will Former Fraternity Acquaintance. Anyone else? Early registration ends December 15th. After running Seattle, I am actually looking forward to Vancouver for its organization, support, and attention to detail. They put together good races up there.

I'm really going to train for this one. Speed work, hills, and distance. The whole ticket. I'd like to get this Boston Qualifying monkey off my back. He's heavy to drag around the course.

What's Up at The Factory?
Well, let's see here...
  1. Our union president is a complete idiot
  2. The Colleague's computer is magically downloading porn on its own
  3. Our dean has lost her mind (and, apparently, her hairbrush)
  4. We get to teach more students in more classes for less money!
  5. I might be going to Florida for 3 days to do focus group work on a textbook
  6. The Colleage and I have officially announced our exit strategy for the department chair work
  7. Sweater is expanding
  8. Pear is expanding
  9. Mysterious Math/Science Tenure Abuser is expanding
  10. The Factory itself is shrinking. Something has to give here...
  11. Everyone is carefully studying the RIF list...

Monday, December 01, 2008

Half and Half (13.1 + 13.1)

I have officially survived another 26.2 mile romp through a northwest city. The Seattle Marathon is over, and I managed to force myself around the course in 3 hours, 42 minutes, and 12 seconds, well off my goal time but satisfying nonetheless.

The Seattle course reinforces just how far 26.2 miles in real terms. From the start at Seattle Center, the course starts off down 5th Avenue, past Pioneer Square, and onto I-90 at Safeco Field. That takes care of 2 whole miles. 2 miles from one end of the city to the other. Then it's across I-90, through the Mt. Baker Tunnel, across Lake Washington to Mercer Island, BACK across the lake, south to Seward Park, back north through Leschi, up and over Capitol Hill, through the Arboretum, and back down toward Eastlake into downtown again for a finish at Memorial Stadium. Sheesh.

For a bit of scale, 26.2 miles is roughly the driving distance from:
  • Seattle to Everett
  • Seattle to North Bend
  • Bellevue to SeaTac Airport
  • and, for you Californians, Pasadena to LAX
Still, it's a good course that avoids a few of the things that suck about the Portland and Vancouver courses, namely shady industrial districts and crack house row. The long stretch next to Lake Washington is great, and the two parks included in the course add a nice non-urban feel.

Here are some highlights and lowlights from race day, separated into the first half and last half of the race.

  • Who needs to rest before an endurance event? I got somewhere around 3 hours of sleep the night before the race. I have no idea why I was so amped up, but I just couldn't sleep. And once I can't sleep, it all goes to hell. Worrying about waking up, about transportation, everything. And here I thought sleeping in my own bed the night before a 'thon would be a good thing. Nope. I'm like the Seinfeld marathoner, Jean Paul...
  • The Colleague and I slipped into Seattle Center the back way down 99 rather than dealing with the Mercer Street nightmare. Stress-free, cheap parking, and plenty of time to spare! A small miracle. I had a lot of time to walk toward the start, find the uncrowded port-o-johns, and start to plan my race. Local knowledge wins again.
  • Despite the fact that the Seattle Marathon organizers insist on sending all of the walkers and half marathon runners out right before the marathon runners, the start was pretty good. We were up to pace quickly and after a glimpse of The Colleague standing under the Monorail on 5th, I cruised through the first mile. A little fast as usual. In mile two I caught up with Owen the Tattoo Guy from Parlor F. Owen is a running machine who apparently just decided the day before the race that he should run a marathon this week. What the hell, right? We ran together for the next 13 miles or so, while he tried to talk me into running an Ultra Marathon this summer. By Owen's logic, if you can do 26.2 you can do 50. That's some sound reasoning right there.
  • Course Problem #1: The merge onto I-90 has two lanes separated by a concrete barrier. You go left, you are stuck left. Go right, you are stuck right. No signs and no volunteers to explain that every marathon walker is 1/4 mile ahead in the left lane? Awesome. Scene: runners coming up behind a mob of slow walkers on the first real hill of the course and jumping over the median to avoid them. Nice.
  • Running with Owen is its own reward for the pure entertainment of watching the crowd and other runners react to a guy in shorts and a tank top with tattoos covering most of his body. On the out-and-back sections we heard a lot of "Hey! There's the Tattoo Guy again! Go tattoo guy!!"
  • Course Problem #2: I know there isn't a good way around it, but running through the I-90 tunnel is miserable. It's incredibly loud and the air smells like exhaust even though the tunnel is closed for the race. I overheated like crazy in here and it is the part of the course where the walkers seem to want to stop and have coffee around the aid stations. Dodging walkers is great fun!
  • Running across the floating bridge could be cool, except for the dense fog that, after coming out of the oven in the tunnel, sucked every bit of heat I had right out of me.
  • A lot of really rich people live along Lake Washington, and many of them are NOT happy to have their road closed for an event like this. That's you, grumpy Asian guy. Thanks for stopping short of actually running anyone over to get out of your driveway.
  • To the woman chain smoking on the side of the course near Seward Park. $%k You! You know what runners love when they are sucking wind and trying to keep their pace halfway into a race? Cigarette smoke.
  • Praise for the Seattle Marathon: Aid stations every two miles through the whole race. Rather than having to memorize where they were from a map, I could just count on every odd mile having an aid station with water and Gatorade. Also, thank you for not having different energy drinks at each station based on sponsorship (Portland). I don't need to be switching from Gatorade to something else in the middle of a race.
  • The run around Seward Park was nice and reminded me of the halfway point of Vancouver through Stanley Park, only there wasn't a soul to be found at the 13.1 mile mark of this race. Isn't this a split? I at least want a kid with a "You're halfway there!" sign. Sheesh.
  • My half marathon split was right on my goal pace, but I knew the hardest part of the course was ahead of me, and I had no potential Colleague sightings until the finish.
  • Course Problem #3: Because the course leaves the city so quickly and spends so long on the Lake Washington side of town, it is impossible for spectators to get to multiple spots along the course. Portland has a similar problem, but even there someone on foot can get to 2 or 3 spots ahead of the runners. Vancouver is awesome for this. Seattle sucks. Sigh.
  • Let the beating begin! I like to think that Owen pulled away from me in the late teen miles, but I slowed down. My "even" effort was taking just as much energy but giving me less output. Still, I was around my goal pace and everything felt good. I was just dragging a little.
  • GU is gross. It tastes fine and everything, but once you are really working hard, it is hard to suck those things down for energy. I spent several miles telling my stomach to shut up about the torture, to little avail. During my complaining about this is when Owen told me that he ate 60 GUs during his 100 mile race this summer. 60? I had 4 during the 'thon and wanted to puke.
  • Climb! The Galer Street hill. Not so bad. For all of the worrying I did about this barrier, I pushed right through it. Slower than on the flats, to be sure, but solid.
  • Top of the Hill. Ouch. The climb wiped me out pretty good. It's mile 22 here, and I'm definitely, definitely tired. 22 is the limit of my long training runs, and anything after that is a crap shoot in terms of how my body will react. I still think it's weird that a the marathon people make the early miles so short and the late miles so friggin' long!
  • When the course dives into the Arboretum it should be time to start pressing for the finish. 4 miles to go! 4 measly little miles! Just suck it up. I got a little downhill spot and picked up my pace here.
  • And this is when the wheels come off. My left hamstring started to threaten to cramp so I changed my stride to keep it from locking up. But changing my stride has a ripple effect on the rest of my sorry, sorry, pathetic excuse for a runner's body. I kept the cramp from going completely postal on me, but I had to slow way down to do it.
  • Course Problem #4: The Arboretum is pretty. A narrow road winding through the trees above the city? Awesome! The problem? The pavement is NYC pothole bad. Asphalt on top of concrete on top of brick with some gravel and sand mixed in. Holes everywhere. So, add trail running awareness to this stretch of the course.
  • Back to the City! Coming down off of the hill and back toward downtown is a nice easy part of the course but I'm completely spent by mile 24. I get my glimpse of the finish line and decide between stopping at the pub right there on the corner or torturing myself for another 2.2 miles. I watch a few guys in front of me quit and sit down on the curb and decide that I don't really want to be one of them. So I keep going. Slowly.
  • Memorial Stadium. Done. Unlike my last two marathons, after the finish here there was no elation or happiness. In fact, I sort of lost consciousness for a minute or two after they took my chip and handed me a space blanket. The Colleague was hollering at me, apparently, but all I wanted to do was sit down and pass out.
  • Warm Bananas? Acupuncture? Are you kidding me? I was actually craving a banana and some water in the recovery area. But who serves WARM bananas? Actually heated up? And clam chowder? What?! I understand massage after a race, but acupuncture? What the hell? We bailed the "after party" as quickly as possible.
One day later and I feel ready to go for the next event. Stay tuned for Vancouver Marathon training plans! This time I won't be quite as embarrassed to be an American in Canada.

Thanks Barack!

(now fix my economy)