Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Off Season Regimen

It’s the offseason. Not just for running but apparently for posting too. This is the time of year when my running usually takes a backseat to indulging my offseason hobbies of cookie eating and eggnog spiking. Last year I was unable to fully enjoy those hobbies because I was in the middle of training for a marathon but this year my plan to get back on the cookie wagon is in full swing.

In order to impede my poor eating habits I’ve also been doing a lot of cross training this winter in the form of P90X. You’ve probably seen the ads for it all over the place and now that I’ve mentioned it in a post it will probably show up in the ads here too. I’ve never been good at cross training because I’ve never really enjoyed it all that much, and therefore I’ve never stuck to it for more than a few weeks. To be honest I’d rather just go run than spend my time lifting weights or doing yoga or whatever else it is that you do for cross training, but P90X has been different. I actually enjoy doing it.

One of the reasons for doing P90X is so that I can start to look more like the cover models on Runner’s World magazine. I’ve often made mention on this blog of my chiseled Pecs and my rippling abs and it would be kind of cool if one of those things were actually true. Maybe then I could get on the cover of RW, I’d even be willing to wax my chest to help make it happen. Ironically, my quest to look more like a RW runner has led to me running less frequently (as little as twice a week) and doing more cross training, but it’s the offseason so I’m OK with that.

Site Note
Sorry about the lack of posting lately. I’ve been struggling to find the motivation to write something on a regular basis, but I’d like to get back to it because it’s a cathartic exercise for me. I’ll have a year in review post coming up next week that you don’t want to miss. If you’ve been following my race results this year then you know that there are going to be a lot of excuses. A. LOT.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas or a Happy Hanukah or whatever it is that you celebrate in the winter season that allows you to eat stupid amounts of fatty foods. The winter solstice has passed and that means that Spring (and racing season) is practically here!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Re-Naming The Half Marathon

I have long thought that calling a 13.1 mile race a ‘half’ was a great disservice to the distance. This is mostly because I enjoy running half marathons and intend to run many more of them. The same cannot be said for the full marathon. I did not enjoy it, and I do not intend to run many more of them... that’s what I meant when I said that the same cannot be said for the full marathon. Why are you making me explain this twice?

This naming problem has been brought up by countless other bloggers. Nitmos complained about it in this post back when he wasn’t lazy and used to post regularly (“Hello Kettle, you’re black!”), but as you would expect from Nitmos he didn’t really provide any workable solutions. Typical. Kristina touched on the issue yesterday in her Op-Ed Wed piece which I highly recommend as it is a great read almost every Wednesday (the one time when it was not a great read was when Kristina took apart Reebok* for their EasyTone ads because it made me feel ashamed that I had posted the ads even though I ranted against them lightly disapproved. - Not cool Kristina! Not cool.) Kristina also did not offer any naming solutions, although to be fair her beef was with some idiot whose resolution was to rename the half marathon the ‘13.1 Marathon.’ That simply won’t do. If you did this you’d have to start calling 26.2 miles the Double Marathon and an Ultra Marathon would become a Double Ultra Marathon (which would appropriately be abbreviated as DUM).

I think we can all agree that you can’t call 13.1 miles a marathon, but I don’t like calling it a half marathon either. With that in mind I’d like to offer the following suggestions for races so that the 13.1 mile distance can finally get some much needed respect.
  • The 21k - This is my second favorite option.
  • The Double 10k - Theory: We overcompensate for having to use the word ‘half’ by sticking the word ‘double’ into the name of the race. Problem: Not an accurate representation of the actual distance, which leads me to my favorite option...
  • The Triple 7k - This is my favorite option, stop making me explain everything twice. There is some serious overcompensation going on here which is what I’m all about. (In fact, the reason that I drive a beat up, crappy vehicle is to overcompensate for my huge, enormous... you know... ego... in a manner of speaking.) Plus, everyone knows that triple 7s are lucky. You might run a bad ‘half marathon’ but you’d never have a bad day running a ‘Triple 7k.’
  • The Thirteeny - Yeah, that ‘teeny’ on the end isn’t helping.
  • The 69,168 footer
  • The 6,864 Acre Race - This sounds much more massive than ‘half marathon’ doesn’t it? If my calculations are correct (and they’re probably not) you would encompass an area of 6,864.4 acres if you ran a 13.1 mile square (i.e. 3.275 miles on each side of the square). Awesome!

I really think that if we all adopt one of these names for the 13.1 mile distance that we can get some race director somewhere to adopt our nomenclature and then I can totally take credit for it. Come on race directors, if your race was called the ‘P.F. Chang’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon and Triple 7k’ it would make it sound like you were hosting two completely different races, and hey, guess what? They ARE two completely different races. Sure, the Triple 7k may often be run on a portion of the marathon course but it’s a different strategy and requires different training than the marathon. I’m not going to get into that here though because Kristina does a great job breaking down all the reasons why it’s a different animal in her post and I wasn’t smart enough to understand all of them.

Let me hear your suggestions in the comments.

*Actually, the Reebok post was fantastic, but I still don’t think people should make me feel ashamed of my chauvinistic tendencies.

Friday, November 20, 2009

More Podcast Goodness

The latest issue of Banned on the Run is ready for your ears to consume, unfortunately your ears are probably not ready for the latest installment of Banned on the Run.

In this episode we discuss a lot of things that are not even remotely related to running, so basically it’s just like every other episode. However, the short amount of time that we do spend talking about running is actually very beneficial as we discuss the variables of VO2 max, the ramifications of over pronation versus supination, and how to apply the Pythagorean Theorem to running. And if you believe all that then I’ve got some ocean front property here in Colorado that I’d like to sell you.

You can always find a link to the latest episode in the sidebar to your right. *Makes flight attendant motion to right.* We know that there are many different podcasts out there that you can choose from and we thank you for selecting Banned on the Run for your listening enjoyment. Your Captain today is Raz (blame him for any editing mistakes) and he is joined by me and Amy. Nitmos was unable to be with us on this podcast and his peculiar brand of humor was greatly missed. Don’t let that stop you from downloading the podcast though because we made up for it by repeatedly taking cheap shots at him and I was lying about his humor being missed. It was kind of like that whole idea of addition by subtraction which, I think, is what the Pythagorean Theorem is all about.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Vanilla Has Left the Building

When I first started this blog I was bound and determined to remain anonymous, and I debated long and hard trying to find a nickname that would conjure up the idea that I was just an average, ordinary guy (of course, the truth is that I’m an extraordinary individual and well above average in every way but I didn’t want to seem too imposing to my average readers). I considered Average Joe, but it was too mundane, and somehow I ended up going back and forth between calling myself Plain Vanilla and Joe Vanilla which I realize now were both awful. Finally I decided to keep it simple and just go with Vanilla. Surely everyone would recognize that I was shooting for a plain, boring, average descriptor and not a washed up, over-exposed rapper, right? Right?

Anyway, about a month and a half and a couple of subscribers into writing the blog I posted a picture of my race bib and a link to the race website and that was pretty much the end of my anonymity. Not that people were rushing to discover who the genius was behind this rocking new Half-Fast running blog, but I knew from that point on that I wasn’t really anonymous any more. A couple of weeks later I even posted race pictures and kicked anonymity to the curb, but still went by the name Vanilla.

The reasons for using my real name have been mounting for quite some time. My wife, Candis, posts here and she uses her real name and refers to me by mine. Try as I might I can’t get her to call me Vanilla around the house. I used my real name when I was posting for Complete Running, I’m involved with a podcast (new episode coming soon) and it would seem absurd to go by Vanilla on the podcast. Finally, I suspect that many of you have acted on your stalker tendencies and looked up my real name. It feeds my ego to think that I’m cool enough for you to waste your time trying to learn more about me.

Despite all the mounting reasons to discard the name, I continued to go by Vanilla because there seemed to be some humor in it. I even managed to get a whole post out of it (and now I’ve gotten two out of it), then there was the whole Gorilla Ice thing which wouldn’t have worked as well if I wasn’t known as Vanilla.

It all ends today. Hello, my name is Ian Hunter, it’s a pleasure to meet you. If you want to know more about me then be sure to check out my Wiki page.

Update from thrīv: Someone from thrīv left a comment on my last post and they were pretty cool about the fact that I was mocking their name. Leaving me a smartass comment gets you another mention and another link. According to the comment they left, they’re giving away more shirts on their website, check it out:
Thanks for taking the shirt out for a run, and providing great feedback on the brand name and look of the shirt. Have you seen the other styles in the fall line? They look more "tech" than the basic shirt we sent you.

Thank you also to the others that left comments--rest assured, we are listening. For those that are jealous of Half-Fast's free shirt, we are giving away more shirts, details are on our website.

Best of luck in your training endeavors.

And yes, we referenced Strunk & White's "Elements of Style" while writting this comment. K?
Go check out their site for a free shirt and be sure to let them know that there’s only one t in writing. Maybe Strunk & White didn’t cover spelling.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thrīv

Six weeks ago I received an e-mail from a gentleman who was working for thrīv Natural Performance Wear and he of course loved my blog and wanted to give me a free thrīv workout shirt that I could write about. Not one to turn down free things I graciously accepted. After all, the motto that I live by is ‘if it’s free, it’s for me!’

According to their promotional materials, thrīv performance clothing is made from eco-friendly bamboo and cotton, so it’s far more natural and lightweight than synthetic polyesters. This unique fabric blend wicks sweat better than Under Armour, and it also has a higher SPF. It doesn’t hold in odors, and it’s extraordinarily soft. Making things out of bamboo is the in thing to do. We own bamboo sheets and my wife has a bamboo case for her iPhone which just proves how in touch we are.

As promised, the shirt was ridiculously soft and very lightweight. In fact, it was so soft that I didn’t even put Band-Aids on my nipples because I actually wanted them to rub up against the material as my chiseled man-pecs flopped around. I took the shirt out for a quick 3 mile test run and was pleasantly surprised to find that not only were both nipples intact when I arrived back home but they were also a little aroused which leads me to wonder when thrīv is going to start making bamboo performance underwear. Oh come on, you were thinking it too.

The major downside to the thrīv workout shirt is that it looks exactly like a T-shirt so I was forced to tell everyone that I ran past that it was a bamboo performance shirt lest they think I was some rookie runner out running in a plain cotton T-shirt. Other than that slight downfall, the shirt works great. I did notice that by the end of my run the shirt was sticking to the gorge between my sweaty man-pecs, so I’ll be keeping an eye out for that on future runs.

The only other negative thing that I can think to say about the shirt is that I’m getting a little tired of companies misspelling words, or spelling them phonetically. “Hey, let’s drop the e and put a macron over the i so that it’s still pronounced like thrive.” You know what this kind of irresponsible behavior leads to? It leads to people sending me texts that use ‘ur’ in place of ‘your’ or ‘prolly’ in place of ‘probably’ and it annoys the crap out of me. Guess wut? Ur prolly failing English 101. (Blegh, I feel dirty just typing that.) Yeah, I’m the guy who sends texts that use correct punctuation and uppercase letters to start sentences because dag nab it, proper punctuation is worth the extra 3 seconds that it costs me to type it! And quite frankly, I don’t want to be the kind of person who uses those cutesy shortcut words because once you start doing that you’re only one step away from being the guy that forwards e-mails chock-full of hamsters giving each other flowers with the subject line ‘jus 2 make u smile’. You make me sick!

Anyway, huge thanks go out to thrīv (which I’m pronouncing like shiv because it makes me want to drive one into my temple) for sending me the shirt. After this post it’s destined to be the last thing that they’re ever going to send me unless we count bad vibes or the cease and desist letter that their lawyer just started hastily typing upon reading this. The shirt rocks, even if it does look like a T-shirt.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Reebok Talking Breasts Ad FTW!

You’ve no doubt already seen the first Reebok ad for EasyTone shoes where the cameraman can’t help but focus on the sexy model’s legs and butt which she so obviously got from wearing Reebok EasyTone shoes and nothing else. I saw that ad last weekend and I was ready to give Reebok my full endorsement, but then just when I thought that Reebok couldn’t get any awesomer they went and came out with the following ad featuring talking breasts. It’s like they’re in my head. Seriously, I’m always thinking breasts are talking to me.



Come now, when someone is speaking to you it’s rude not to look at them. But perhaps you find yourself thinking ‘the original commercial was pretty good but those shorts covered way too much of the model’s butt for me to determine how well those Reebok EasyTone shoes are working.’ Well fear not tushie aficionados, they also have the ad below which is just what you’ve been looking for, although it does get a little repetitive after the first thirty times through it.



By running ads that focus on the legs, breasts and the derriere Reebok has pretty much achieved the illusive Triple Crown of chauvinism in the objectification of women sweepstakes. Well played Reebok. So who are these ads designed to reach? While the frat boys in the Reebok marketing department are probably high fiving themselves over these ads, the shoes are clearly designed for women but what possible effect could those ads have on women other than to create a feeling of inadequacy? Is that really the route Reebok wants to go? Whoa. Sorry, I’m getting a little too deep and thoughtful for a Friday video post. (It’s just the medicine talking.) Heck, I’m getting a little too deep and thoughtful for a Half-Fast post period. Perhaps I’ll just go back to quiet admiration. Yes, that’s exactly what I’ll do.

[Via Warming Glow]

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Blegh!

Last week my 6 year old brought home something special from school, I believe the technical term for it is H1N1. Not officially confirmed (though there have been confirmed H1N1 cases at his school) but at the very least we all have some flu-ey type of virus thing. It sucks.

Combine that with the week (OK, fine two weeks) that I took off from running after the Denver Half Marathon and it’s been almost three weeks since I’ve run. On the bright side I can’t wait to get back to it. That’s about all I feel like typing today so enjoy this video of NYC Marathon winner Meb Keflezighi reading the Top 10 on Letterman. I stole it from Mike at Running Is Funny. (Shhhhh. Don’t tell.)


I think my favorites are #4 and #5.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Last Minute Halloween Costumes for Runners

Tomorrow is Halloween and if you’re like me you’ve waited until the last minute to think about what kind of costume you’re going to wear and now it’s too late to make that awesome Geico pile of money costume. Of course if you were really like me then you’d have some wicked good dancing skills and a Gorilla Ice costume to fall back on, but since you have two left feet and a dearth of gorilla suits lying around I’m going to help you out with a last minute Halloween costume suggestion for runners. Was that not clear from the title?

Are you ready for this? Go dressed as... a runner. I can already hear you saying “But I am a runner, so why is that a good costume?” It’s a good costume because many of the people at your Halloween party probably don’t know that you are a runner or may have never seen you running. It’s like when I go dressed as a banker, talk about a funny costume! I get all the laughs, especially when I do my dancing banker bit. Plus, this is a last minute idea so while dressing as a giant iPhone may sound like a good idea you probably don’t have a spare flatscreen lying around that you can use, but if you do then send it my way.

Here’s what you’ll need: running shoes, short shorts, a singlet with an old race bib pinned to it, Band-Aids for your nipples (or red food dye on the singlet), a watch and a headband. The headband is necessary for selling your costume as an obsessed runner, but what is really going to sell this is not what you wear but how you act. You should be in a hurry wherever you go. Grab people’s drinks out of their hand like they were a race volunteer and chug them as you run off, better yet splash them all over your face and toss the cup to the side. People won’t ever get tired of your drink-stealing antics and hey, free drinks for you all night!

If you don’t think you can get away with stealing drinks wear your fuel belt and fill up your 6oz flasks with your beverage of choice. Not only do you have a rockin’ costume but you can also have your hands free all night and you won’t forget where you left your drink. (Note: If you do forget where you left your drink, it’s on your hip and you are way too drunk. Go home now before you make a fool of yourself.)

You’re also going to want to stretch a lot. Don’t be afraid to bend over and touch your toes right in front of people or to just cop a squat wherever you are to do some stretches. Wear a watch with a stopwatch so that you can annoyingly time everything that anyone does.
Friend: “I’ll be right back, I’m going to the bathroom.”
You: “OK, I’ll time you. Ready... Set... GO!”
*When they return*
You: “3 minutes and 22 point 47 seconds! That’s a new personal worst! What on earth were you doing in there?”

Don’t you go looking for a bathroom though, just go pee by the side of the road as you would in a race. Blow snot rockets and wipe the debris on the bottom of your shirt. Wear an old race medal because when are you ever going to have another chance to wear it and not feel like an attention seeking showoff. Wearing your medal also gives people who may not know that you are a runner the opportunity to ask you where you got it, which gives you an opening to be an attention seeking showoff and tell them all about the marathon you ran while allowing you to stay in character as an obsessive runner.

If you don’t like my suggestion then you could always go as balloon boy or Kate Gosselin, but you know that everyone is going to be doing that. Be original. Be a runner.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Anthony Edwards is Running

Check out the hilarious new video from Funny or Die via the always humorous Mark Remy from RW Daily.

Anthony Edwards has finally found a way to get back into television: The ING New York City Marathon. Listen and learn as he tells you about his preparation and planning for this spectacular live television event.



I’m so brushing my teeth with Accelerade on race mornings from now on.

Yeah, that’s all I got today.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How to Avoid Halloween Candy

It’s that time of year again when you find yourself with so many opportunities to teach your kids about sharing as you sample the Halloween candy that they’ve collected and take that last fun size Snickers for yourself. Like many of you, I try not to overdo it with the Halloween candy. I mean I rationalize it away by saying that I’m a runner and I need the energy or carbs and that I’ll just run an extra mile or two tomorrow to make up for that fistful of Candy Corn, but the truth is I rarely run an extra anything. So, in order to maintain my finely tuned runner’s body (finely tuned like a kazoo) I find the best policy is to try to avoid the Halloween candy. Here are some of the best candy avoidance techniques that I’ve come up with:

Aversion Therapy
Every time you eat a piece of candy have your spouse tell you you’re fat. Eventually you will learn to associate eating candy with being fat and your spouse’s disapproval. If this doesn’t work then have your spouse tell you you’re fat while smacking you upside your head.

Exposure Therapy
Go out right now and buy as much candy as you can. Consume it all at once. Repeat until you become nauseated by the candy and the undulating waves of sugar highs and crashes. If you’re not getting sick, you’re not eating enough candy. I suppose it would be more accurately termed Over-Exposure Therapy.

Fat Disgusting Picture Therapy
Just look at this fat disgusting picture. If you still feel like eating anything then there’s no helping you.

Bacon Therapy
Eat bacon instead of candy. Bacon tastes good, but it’s kind of salty and it doesn’t go well with candy. Also, you probably don’t want to ruin that delicious bacon taste that you have in your mouth now by eating candy. I’m not sure that this is really a healthier option than candy but this isn’t a healthy eating list, it’s a candy avoidance list and the bacon thing will work. Trust me.

Beer Therapy
Beer does not taste good with candy. I cannot enjoy a beer and simultaneously be eating candy. ‘But Ian,’ you say ‘what about when I’m done with the beer? Won’t I be tempted to eat candy when I stop drinking beer?’ Solution: Don’t stop drinking beer.

Sex Therapy
Make sweet, sweet love to your spouse. I don’t know why this would help you not eat any candy, but mmmm boy, it sure does sound like fun doesn’t it? Plus now that it’s officially part of this candy avoidance list you have one more tool at your disposal to help you plead your case. Not that you need any help since you are probably already using my handy pick-up lines.*

Germaphobe Therapy
Pretend the candy is covered in swine flu, which it probably is since it has been sitting in that bowl and all those kids have been reaching their grubby little hands in there, snot nosed little Petri dishes that they are. Candy corn is a breeding ground for viruses and bacteria.

Punishment Therapy
Think of ways to punish yourself for eating any Halloween candy, because I understand that this kind of obsessive, self-destructive behavior is a healthy way to think about food. If you can get to a point where you start hating yourself for eating candy you’re well on your way to a candy-free Halloween and probably an eating disorder too. Hey, it’s not so bad. At least you’ll be skinny and happy OK, so maybe just skinny.

That’s it, that’s all the suggestions I have. Best of luck giving yourself a candyectomy this Halloween season and remember, if you must eat Halloween candy, eat it while you run. Who needs sport beans and gels when you can chow down on candy corn and pop rocks.

*If you are using those pick-up lines you really do need help, but not the kind that you'll find here, professional help.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

This is Me Enjoying the Race

Race pictures from the Denver Half Marathon have been posted and the good news is that they took a ton of me and Candis. The bad news? Despite the fact that I was taking it easy and tried to smile at every photographer I saw most of my pictures came out looking like the one you see on the right.

Before we get to the rest of the pictures, Candis wanted me to share the best part about the race with all of you, which I guess means that she’s not going to write her own race report (lazy!). As we were walking back to our car from the post race expo (interesting that the best thing about the race occurred after it, no?) we walked past an elderly couple on their way to church. The lady noticed Candis’ medal and not so quietly whispered to her husband “Oh look at that, she must have won something!” Candis was so delighted that she quite literally leapt for joy... and then promptly doubled over in pain.
“I shouldn’t have jumped like that,” she told me as she attempted to stretch “my legs are too sore for jumping.”


Here we are at the start of the race. I wonder why no one else has their sunglasses on?



Here’s Candis ‘enjoying’ the race.



Here I am coming down the final stretch to the finish. I’m practically euphoric.



Here’s some visual evidence that some poor guy got chicked by Candis. Notice the guy ahead of Candis in the black shirt and white visor.



Look, now there he is behind Candis as she crosses the finish line. That’s right buddy. That. Just. Happened.


Candis apparently likes to run with one hand up in the air. Maybe she’s practicing for running with the Olympic torch just in case she ever gets asked.

Monday, October 19, 2009

So Much For My Happy Ending

The Denver Half Marathon Race Report

Wherein I run the juvenile ‘happy ending’ allegory into the ground.

Given the lack of training and motivation that I have displayed over the last several weeks my goal going into this race was to run at a leisurely pace and enjoy it. Candis had hoped to PR in this race but given that we’ve been passing the same cough back and forth for the last few days it was not in the cards. Seriously, between the two of us we left more phlegm and snot on the Denver Half Marathon course than should be legally allowed. If Denver area runners break out with some kind of epidemic over the next few days it will be entirely our fault.

Candis finished in 2:21:00 (a 10:46 pace) and I managed a relaxed 2:06:55 (a 9:41 pace). This is the first half marathon that Candis had run without me at her side and she is feeling good about the accomplishment despite missing a PR. As for me, I thought about running with Candis again this year, but as is often the case I was more concerned with getting to my happy ending than helping her reach hers.

The temperature at the start was a chilly 50 degrees (burrrrrrr!) so we had to huddle together until the starting gun went off. This kept us sufficiently warm and also kept the other runners sufficiently nauseated. We ran together for a couple of blocks before I ditched Candis and went off on my own. Throughout the course I was a high-fiving, cheering machine. If anyone wanted a high five, I swerved over and gave them one (usually right after I had finished coughing into my hand). If someone was holding up an encouraging sign I thanked them as I went by, even all the people holding the “your feet only hurt because you’re kicking so much asphalt” signs which are both unoriginal and serve only to remind me that my feet are hurting.

I arrived at mile 9 enjoying myself and feeling pretty strong. Somewhere in my head a part of my brain kicked in to gear and ran some quick (and incorrect) calculations. “Hey, if you run the last 3 miles at an 8:15 pace you can still break 2 hours!” And so I sped up, hoping to get my happy ending after all and not realizing that my math was horrendously incorrect or that there were actually 4 miles left, not 3. My aspirations were fugacious (word of the day, anyone?) as I quickly realized that I would not be finishing in under 2 hours. I slowed down and went back to spreading cheer. Mostly cheer, with only a few germs mixed in. So much for my happy ending.

Look at these happy runners, surely they didn’t just post PWs?

Friday, October 16, 2009

I say like too much

A post in which I find word clouds, which the rest of the internet has known about for a long time.

Oooh, look at this cool word cloud that I made at wordle.net.


This is a visual representation of the things that I talk about on this blog. I think we can learn a couple of things from this nifty looking word cloud. First of all it would appear that I am overly reliant on the words ‘just’ and ‘like’ but fear not, I will use my handy thesaurus to help me eliminate those awful words from this post. (Update: No I won’t. I tried to do it, but like, I’m like a 14 year old girl or something because, like, I just can’t write without the word like. I guess it’s like a crutch or something, so now I’m all like ‘you totally can’t write without the word like.’ Instead what I’m going to do is overuse the word like in this post so that next time you come back and read another post you’ll be like, ‘wow Ian has totally cut down on using the word like since the last time I read his blog, I like this much better.’) Secondly, is no one from Propel paying any attention to this blog? This word cloud merely furthers my argument that Propel should be paying me some kind of stipend or something.

I actually feel kind of vindicated that race, marathon, run and running are as big as they are. It’s like I have proof that this really is a running blog. I’m a little disappointed that the word bacon is so small, I feel like that’s a subject that deserves more of my attention. Also, why did wordle put faster right next to Candis’ name? Just what are you trying to tell me wordle?

Have a great weekend everyone, and good luck to all those who are racing. I’ll catch you on the flip side with a post about what it’s like to run a race for fun.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ugh. 7am?

I just discovered that the Denver Half Marathon starts at 7am? Um, why? It’s not like this is the middle of the summer and we need to get the race in before it gets too hot. It’s mid-October for crying out loud! Why not start this thing at 8 or 9 o’clock so that I can sleep in a little? As if that wasn’t bad enough their published Race Etiquette states that you should show up an hour and a half before the race starts. 5:30? You want me to be there at 5:30? I’ll still be hitting the snooze button at 5:30, and if that makes me discourteous then so be it. You show me someone that got up early enough to be there at 5:30 and I’ll show you a discourteous runner.

The good news is that the Denver Marathon claims to be ‘iPod friendly,’ which hopefully means that I can listen to my iPod and not that they don’t discriminate against any iPods that want to run the race. This is good news because in the event that I have a really good race and win this thing, I’d hate to get disqualified like that one chick that you’ve no doubt read about elsewhere by now.

I have no idea if you will be able to follow us on Sunday at the Denver Marathon website, but I have complete faith in your online stalking abilities. I doubt that there’s anyone out there who can’t wait until the Monday morning race report to hear how we did, especially since I have no race goals other than something about a happy ending that I didn’t quite follow in the previous post. (What? You think I understand my rambling posts any better than you do?)

Candis is looking for another PR in this race and should be within striking distance of achieving that end. Her time to beat is 2:17:14 which is the PR she set on this very same course last year. Given her recent success I’m certain that she’ll come in under that mark, the only question is how far under? My guess is 2:08:37, your guesses in the comments.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Denver Half Approaches

I can honestly say that I’ve never been less prepared for a race than I am for the Denver Half Marathon this Sunday. The good news is that I’ve never been more prepared for failure than I am this time around. For the first time ever I won’t be going into a race with a time expectation or a goal in mind. Given my lack of preparation for this race I think it would be futile to have big expectations.

For me the ‘fun’ in racing has always been in achieving faster race times and in proving that I can perform at a certain (albeit mediocre) level. The race itself has never been the part that I enjoyed. The race itself is a punishing, physical exertion that I endure to get to the fun part, which is stopping my watch at the finish line sooner than I have ever stopped it previously. It’s the happy ending, if you will. The happy ending is realizing that I have accomplished what I set out to accomplish, that I have run faster than ever before. The happy ending is the improved race time which is the payoff of all the hard work that I put in during the weeks and months leading up to the race. However, since there has been little to no hard work leading up to this race it would be idiotic to believe that there is going to be a happy ending.

My challenge this Sunday will be to enjoy the race. I’m not looking for a happy ending, I’m looking for a happy beginning and middle. Instead of waiting until the end of the race to be happy, I’ll be happy right from the get go. Prematurely happy, if you like. On Sunday I will run just for the love of running, I’ll run for the camaraderie, and for all that other sappy, feel good crap that other people talk about. Perhaps it will be the shot in the arm that I need to get myself back on track. At a minimum it should result in some good race pictures, at least that’s what the Chic Runner says will happen when you ‘run for fun.’

I have no doubt that the future holds more PRs for me. I am certain that there will be many more races where I endure the pain to capture the glory, but Sunday will not be one of them. Sunday I will run to enjoy running. I’ll be the goofy idiot that’s smiling and chatting with anyone who will listen. I’ve always wanted to be that guy.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Free Stuff

Someone who likes to go by the inconspicuous name of Anonymous left a comment on my last post that was really long and looked like it would be tiring to read in its entirety, but the gist of it (I think) was that there’s some law being considered that will require bloggers to disclose any free products that they receive or face an $11,000 fine. My first thought was ‘yeah OK, good luck trying to regulate that.’ I’m not going to get into the politics behind this because I like to believe that none of you have a good read on where I stand politically and that’s the way (uh huh, uh huh) I like it, but I do want to respond to the comment. Despite my burgeoning image as a product whore, I really don’t receive that much free stuff and I have always disclosed anything that was given to me for free. Believe it or not, I even turn things down from time to time.

Did you know that I once received an e-mail from Propel Enhanced Water* offering me a coupon for a free bottle of Propel but I turned them down because the last thing I need is to buoy my image as a sellout, especially since all they were offering in return was a $1.83 coupon. And I like Propel Enhanced Water. A lot. Now, if they want to give me a car covered in Propel ads (like the Red Bull car) and have me drive it around then I’d be happy to help them promote their line of Propel Enhanced Water, which has less calories than Gatorade other unnamed sports drinks. (I have a really long commute, you people at Propel should totally do this! How many times do I have to mention it before someone takes notice?) But I would absolutely disclose the fact that they gave me a car (or maybe a bicycle?) so that you people knew that I had received something in return for my endorsement of Propel Enhanced Water, but as of right now I have not received anything (not even a logoed tech shirt?).

For the record, let’s set some things straight: If you see links over there on the side bar and they’re under a section heading of Paying My Race Fees or Sponsored Links, you’re never going to believe this, but I get paid for having those links there. I’m glad I confessed that, I’ve been worried sick that you guys thought I was just really that excited about Leptovox (whatever the hell that is). Any links that you see under Half-Fast Recommends or Running Links are not paid for. Those are just links that I like or recommend. I’ve had advertisers specifically request to put their link in the Half-Fast Recommends section but you can’t pay to get in there, all you can do to get in there is be funnier or more interesting.

Because this blog is not really dedicated to giving serious advice (see tagline) I don’t get many offers to do product reviews and that’s OK with me. Let’s take a look at the list of things that I’ve received for free so that I can brag about it it’s out in the open and there’s no hint of impropriety:
  • Pearl Izumi Running Shoes - on a couple of occasions including a pair that were given away as part of a contest.
  • Clif Family Wines - yes there is a Clif Family Winery, however I was given the wine after I had already written about their wine not prior to it, they’re just really nice people.
  • Tech4o running watch.
  • Pro Wash detergent - this barely got mentioned in a post by Candis.
  • SofSole insoles - these didn’t get mentioned at all. Note to marketers: I’m an awesome product promoter, send me more free stuff to review!

See, no Propel Enhanced Water on that list (not even a free Propel visor?). I just love Propel Enhanced Water. All this just to tell you guys that I disclose it anytime I get something in return for mentioning a product, it really doesn’t happen as often as you’d think, and not nearly often enough. Technically, I don’t just disclose it, I shout it from the rooftops to rub it in your faces because it makes me feel big and important. Now go buy some Propel (OK fine, I’ll take the stupid $1.83 coupon) and tell them I sent you, tell them repeatedly.

*PROPEL is a registered trademark of Stokely-Van Camp, Inc. and can be purchased at retailer in your area or on their product website.**
** Seriously, I’ve really never received anything from Propel.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Hey! What’s This? A New Post?

In case you haven’t noticed I haven’t been around lately. I haven’t posted, I haven’t commented on any of your blogs, heck, I haven’t even read any of your blogs. You see I have this thing called a day job and lately things have been pretty crazy. Good crazy not bad crazy. All the hard work and effort that I put into blaming other people for my mistakes and taking credit for their good ideas is finally paying off. So during the past week and a half I’ve had to do most of my blogging late at night after I get home from work and... well... you can see how well that’s worked out for me. I kept telling myself “good gracious Ian, you’ve got to write a post tonight after work. It’s been 3 days since your last post!” I’m so polite when I talk to myself, but then I never actually wrote any posts and when 3 days turned into 9 days I said to myself “listen you lazy sack of maggot-riddled-crap! You get busy writing a post tonight and get it posted or else you’re going to lose readers!” But apparently I don’t respond well to yelling and threats either because that just made me drink more during the evenings. To be honest with you guys I just didn’t feel like writing at all after work and I was wondering how I was ever going to write another post again because frankly I’ve been too busy with work to write a coherent post at the office.

Then just this morning, totally out of the blue, I pushed aside some pressing work issues and directed all my calls to voice mail. I opened up blogger and for no particular reason I just started typing. I typed to the end of the line and when I got there I thought maybe I’d type to the end of the paragraph. Now that I’m this far I figure I’ll just type a whole blog post. I’m like the Forrest Gump of typing. “You might not believe me if I told you, but I can type like the wind blows.” I’m back, baby! Just in time so that no one will have noticed my increased productivity around the office and won’t come to expect it of me.

You’re all probably wondering what happened to the lack of motivation that I talked about two weeks ago. Well, my plan worked. My laziness has been contagious and Candis has not been running or training much either. Welcome to the dark side. Anyway, with the Denver Half Marathon a mere two weeks away, we both needed to force ourselves to do a long run this past Saturday and I came up with an idea that I thought was brilliant (because it was my idea). Candis got up early on Saturday morning (brilliant!) made bacon for breakfast (brilliant!) then she got in the car and drove 12 miles away from home. She parked the car and ran home. Meanwhile I slept in (brilliant!) ate some bacon (brilliant!) and waited for her to return. When she arrived home, I ran 12 miles out to the car to pick it up. There was no quitting because the fastest way to be done was to get to the car. Next time we do this, I’m going to ask her not to tell me where the car is, instead she can just give me her Garmin (pbtn) and I’ll retrace her steps. It will be like geocaching. (Note: I have absolutely no clue what geocaching is, but using a Garmin to find your car sounds to me like something that would fit the definition of geocaching.) Besides you know how women are with cars and directions, it just makes more sense to put your faith in a Garmin (pbtn) than in any woman’s sense of direction, amiright?

Well, that’s probably enough for today, someone down the hall just had a great idea and I need to pass it off as my own to upper management. Time to get back to work. Ahhh, who am I kidding, I’ve got a boatload of blog posts to get to in my Google Reader and sarcastic comments to leave. I understand someone had an 18 minute marathon PR while I was gone. Of course, I’ll probably choose to focus on the fact that he still missed his goal by 4 minutes and change. FAIL much?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Failure in the Making

There’s been little running as of late and even littler caring. Shocking, right? I don’t know if it’s the product of a sub-par year of racing or if it’s just me being lazy. Probably the latter. With the Denver Half Marathon less than 4 weeks away now, I’m on a collision course with failure. The light at the end of the tunnel is actually a train and I can’t even muster up the fear to step off the tracks. Usually the closer I get to race day the more dedicated I become to my training but I can’t remember the last time I went out for a long run and I can’t even go look it up on my running log because lately I really haven’t bothered to write my runs down.

Unfortunately those crafty folks at the Denver Half Marathon suckered me in several months ago with the early bird discount otherwise I probably wouldn’t even consider running it. I’m thinking that my goal for the race should just be to try to avoid another PW at the half marathon distance this year but even that seems a little naïve. Even Candis’ taunts that she’s going to beat me haven’t scared me into training harder, in fact, the other day I told her that I don’t really give a crap how slow my time is and it’s completely true. 3 hours and 10 minutes, here I come!

It will make for an entertaining race report, as Candis likes to remind me: “It’s much funnier on the blog when you fail.” I’m sure when it comes time to write the race report I’ll be befuddled as to why I continue to get slower this year, but you can all point me back to this post and remind me that I haven’t been running nearly enough to expect good things at the Denver Half Marathon. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about getting slower (at least not in this post) I’m just putting it out there that I don’t feel like running much right now, and I’m OK with that.

Who you should be concerned for is Candis, because apparently laziness loves company just as much as misery does; I’ve been trying to talk her into skipping her training runs, and I know what her weaknesses are. While she’s trying to get ready to run in the evening, I’m pouring her a glass of wine. When she gets up to run on Saturday morning, I suggest breakfast at LePeep. I may be fixing to go down hard, but I’m taking as many people with me as I can. I’m like the Pied Piper of laziness. Speaking of which, why don’t you skip your training run today. You’ve earned a much needed break from running and I’m sure there’s something good on TV tonight. (Wipeout anyone?) In fact, you know what? Go ahead and take the rest of the week off. You probably deserve it, I know I do.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Podcasts Just Keep On Coming

Good news for all you aficionados of stilted conversation and awkward silences, the latest Banned on the Run podcast is up. Actually, I think we’ve found the secret to making the podcast funny, informative and useful. We just invite someone funny, informative and useful to be on the podcast with us. Ta-da! Quality podcasting ensues. In this most recent podcast we spoke with Kristina, the über-talented writer from Marathon Mama, about her recent run-about in Australia. We even accomplished the entire podcast without any of us attempting a cheesy Australian accent or a lame “throw another shrimp on the barbie” quote which shows remarkable restraint on our part. During the podcast we ask Kristina a few of the questions that you probably wanted answered as well as a lot of the ones that you didn’t really care about. We’re good interviewers!

I’m joined by these three bloggers as we discuss some things that are only loosely tied to running, because if we didn’t it wouldn’t be a Banned on the Run podcast. Anyway, you should go download it right now because Kristina was funny, informative and useful despite our attempts to interrupt and talk over her. Also you should give it a 5 star rating before you listen to it, because you certainly aren’t going to rate it that highly if you listen to it first.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Crapulous

This post feels a little disjointed, but it’s better than nothing, which was your other option for today.

I’m feeling crapulous today, which I just learned is an actual word. Seriously, look it up. (You should follow that link just to click the little speaker and hear the computer pronounce it for you, I did it like 14 times, but then I’m easily amused by things like that.) The real definition of crapulous is ‘suffering due to excess drinking,’ which is not exactly how I was planning to use the word. When I use the word I use it to mean ‘having the properties of crap’ or ‘feeling like a piece of feces.’ Classy, right? Anyway, I feel crapulous today, not the actual definition of crapulous, but my definition of it, although I did partake in some drinking last night so who knows what definition I’m really suffering from.

Oy vay, it’s been a while since I wrote a post. I can’t remember the last time I sat down to post something. Between Labor Day last Monday, travelling out to Salt Lake City for work last week, and the subsequent sickness that resulted from me spending time in those flying Petrie dishes that we call airplanes (aeroplanes for you Brits) I just haven’t found the will to post, or to run for that matter. My last run was in Salt Lake City last Tuesday. Being a creature of habit I ran the same route that I had run last time I was in SLC, around Liberty Park but was disappointed to discover that they still haven't erected the statue of me that I had suggested.

In other running related news my wife got me the new iPhone 3GS for my birthday last week and it is awesome. I’m not really sure how that’s running related but I’m guessing at some point in the future there’ll be a post about all the things I can do with it and how it helps or distracts from my running. I was going to formally acknowledge that Candis is the Best Wife Ever, but she’s been rolling her eyes at me since I’ve been answering every question with “I don’t know but I bet there’s an app for that,” and I think the Best Wife Ever would probably laugh at her husband’s jokes even when they’ve long since stopped being funny.

There’s one app that I’m downloading for sure, the shoelace app (video below).

Friday, September 4, 2009

Pearl Izumi is a Needy Lover

I got an e-mail from Pearl Izumi the other day, which is a pretty frequent occurrence, but I actually started to read this one before dismissing it to the archives and something caught my eye:


Sorry about the horrendous image quality, I only had MS Paint at my disposal.


First of all, Peal Izumi? Nice work PI marketing department and editing team.

Secondly, ‘my relationship with Peal [sic] Izumi?’ My ‘relationship?’ They give away a pair of shoes on my blog and buy me a couple pairs of shoes and all of a sudden we’re in a relationship? Whoa, whoa, whoa. Why don’t we back up the relationship train and turn down the heat on this pressure cooker. I mean seriously, we’re not even Facebook friends.

I bet Pearl Izumi is out there telling all her other girlfriends that we’re getting pretty serious and that we’re in an exclusive relationship, but it’s just not true. In fact, I’ve got some bad news for you, Pearl Izumi; I’ve got two other shoe brands that I’m still seeing on a regular basis. What? You thought the once or twice a week we get together was enough for a guy like me? I need it much more frequently than that, and by ‘it’ I am of course referring to running.

Crap. Pearl Izumi is totally going to key my car tonight isn’t she? I gotta’ get outta’ here pronto. I got a stage 5 clinger on my hands. Have a great weekend everyone.

Site Note: I’ll be travelling for part of next week so things might be a little slow around here, but I’ll try to keep the posts coming.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Drinking Induces Exercise

Jack & CatGood news everyone, according to an article that I read yesterday on WebMD, drinking alcoholic beverages on a regular basis makes you more likely to exercise. Even better, the more you drink the more likely you are to work out and I found the article on the internet so you know it’s true.

The study, performed by Michael T. French, PhD, from the University of Miami reports that “Compared with abstainers, light drinkers exercised 5.7 more minutes per week, moderate drinkers 10.1 more minutes, and heavy drinkers 19.9 more minutes.” Finally a French man does something useful for a change. (You see what I did there?) So the next time you find yourself lacking motivation to get out there and run, Dr. French and I both suggest that you pour yourself a stiff drink and watch your motivation soar. You’ll be running in no time, running out of Jack Daniels that is.

If you think that’s good news wait until you hear the rest. The study classifies ‘heavy drinkers’ as men who have upwards of 76 drinks in a month. That seems high to me but who am I to argue with a PhD? This means that at worst I’m a ‘moderate drinker’ and maybe even a ‘light drinker’ by their standards. You hear that friends and family members, I’m not a heavy drinker so you can take your interventions and stick ‘em in your ear. In fact, drinking leads to exercise and exercise is good for you, ergo drinking is good for you. (That’s deductive reasoning at its finest.) I will point out however, that most of your runs probably last longer than 19.9 minutes so you’ll want to go ahead and exceed the study limits of what constitutes a ‘heavy drinker’ just to make sure that you have all the motivation that you need for that 16 miler.

In summation, drinking adds minutes to your exercise routine. Now I’m not sure how all this science stuff works, but I think it’s pretty safe to conclude from this study that heavy drinking leads to increased endurance while running. Bottoms up running friends!

Fantasy Football League Update
As of this morning we had 7 out of 12 spots filled and we need to fill the other 5 spots by the end of the day otherwise the league gets disbanded and we’ll all be sad. :( So if you want to play or were thinking of playing you should go sign up. Do it now. (League Password is: fartlek)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Off Track: Fantasy Football

Half of the female readership of Half-Fast just rolled their eyes and ignored this post on their reader, but that’s OK because football season is almost upon us and that means it’s time for lazy Sunday afternoons on the couch with a beer in one hand and my scrotum in the other. It’s also time for the return of the Half-Fast Fantasy Football league (read: something else to distract me from being productive at work). Fall is coming, the temperatures are getting cooler and my long runs will get done on Saturday or not at all because Sunday is for football.

Last year someone other than me won the league and I would announce who it was except I’ve forgotten and CBS deleted the league so I have no way of finding out. If it was you, be sure to let us all know in the comments. This year, since I don’t have a list of everyone who played last year, I’m opening the league up to anyone, but you’ll have to sign up soon because the draft is on Thursday, September 3rd. I know it’s late notice but I’ve been too lazy to make this announcement prior to today.

Those of you who are fantasy football fanatics like me can click this link to sign up, those of you who are not can feel free to make fun of the rest of us in the comments. I suggest things like “fantasy football is just like Dungeons and Dragons for handsome, sexy people!” Ouch. I’m feeling the burn already.

Sign up link: http://freemeeting.0.football.cbssports.com/splash/invite/5960/370911/4f5dec490661d5ad
League password: fartlek

You know what you need to do.

Monday, August 31, 2009

9 Lousy Seconds

That was how far I finished behind Candis on Saturday evening. Candis finished in 27:41, shaving 2 full minutes off her 5K PR. What the hell? Sandbagger! I finished in 24:50 which is not a PR but that’s quickly becoming tired meme on this blog so I won’t pursue it any further. Congrats to Candis for destroying her old PR, I wasn’t planning on her being able to go sub-28, but it turns out that her desire to beat me is a pretty strong motivator. I actually think she’s been employing the rope-a-dope against me. Remember that Triathlon she just finished, the one where she shaved 10 minutes off her previous time? She ran a 30+ minute 5K in that. Also, at the Granby Gut Buster she conveniently ran with our 6 year old so I wouldn’t know how fast she was. I can’t remember the last time she actually tried in a 5K.

I gave it my all during the final downhill stretch of the race and couldn’t catch her. I didn’t even see her until she made the final turn towards the finish line. At that point she was no more than a block away from finishing and I was still a couple hundred yards behind her. I was still gaining on her but it became apparent pretty quickly that I wasn’t going to catch her. As we crossed the line we were funneled into overly congested chutes so that they could tear the tags off our bibs (it was not chip timed) and somehow Candis managed to get into the most congested chute. I was through the chutes at least a minute ahead of Candis and was hoping worried that they were going to mess up the official times and show that I had beaten her. They did mess up the official times, adding between 15-20 seconds to our times, but still had her 3 seconds ahead of me.

The after-party is somewhat of a meat market as they try to cater to the singles crowd with fashion shows and dating games and the like. They’re still foisting Dale’s Pale Ale (which is not good) on an unsuspecting crowd, but they also gave us Chipotle Burritos and Mad Greens salads, so I suppose the beer faux pas can be forgiven. We were fortunate enough to meet up with Simon (from RunColo) & his wife Kelly after the race and they were gracious enough to not tell us their times and pretend that ours were impressive. That façade quickly faded though when Kelly had to go up on stage to collect her 3rd place prize. Yes, 3rd place overall. Congrats to Kelly and Simon who are both obscenely fast.

Congrats again to Candis. She is getting faster by leaps and bounds and I’m proud of her. 90 percent proud and 10 percent annoyed. Well... maybe 70 percent proud and 30 percent annoyed. Okay, okay, 25 percent proud, 75 percent annoyed. Fine, if this happens again we will NOT be on speaking terms.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Truth

[by Candis]

And now the real truth. Someone in this household is yet to have a PR this year (ahem - Ian).

While I normally play the part of a loving supportive wife, this role has been suspended for the day in lieu of a demonstration on superior racing strategies and the truth of who is really getting faster in this household.

Half-Fast
Exhibit A: The Bolder Boulder 10K- almost 2 minutes slower. “Aw honey just a bad race.”
Exhibit B: Granby Gutbuster 5K- 30 seconds slower. “Aw honey it was at altitude.”
Exhibit C: Georgetown Half-Marathon- 7 minutes slower. “Aw honey downhill sucks.”
Exhibit D: no swimming or biking

Mrs. Half-Fast
Exhibit A: Bolder Boulder 10K- shaved over 6 minutes
Exhibit B: Tri Babes Sprint Triathlon - shaved almost 10 minutes

Ian once told me when a friend of ours went out without training and ran a 48 minute 10K, that “some people are just fast”

Apparently some people are just fast honey (ahem - me).

(Before you defend the sweet talking Mr. Half-Fast- You should not grant your wife posting access, then trash talk and get in the shower.)

Today is the Skirt Chaser 5K

In about 3 hours Candis and I will be running the Skirt Chaser 5K in Denver which means that our house has been filled with more trash talk than a garbage symposium. For those of you not familiar with the Skirt Chaser race series the ‘skirts’ get a 3 minute head start over the ‘skirt chasers’ which is going to make things interesting. At the Bolder Boulder 10K I beat Candis by 5 minutes, which would seem to translate to a 2½ minute advantage in a 5K, meaning that she would beat me. Of course I’m still confident that I’ll prevail but only time will tell.

I wanted to get this post up today because there have been numerous attempts at sabotage this afternoon and I am pretty sure that Candis might resort to poisoning me. So if I don’t show up with a gloating post on Monday then you’ll all know that it’s because Candis poisoned me, call the police.

Thus far today I’ve brought Candis a piece of cheesecake, added slow romantic songs into her running playlist, attempted to drain the battery in her Garmin and engaged in some psychological warfare by telling her that she’s really looking old. I’ve also advised her that her race strategy should be to start out nice and slow and then finish slower, but I don’t think she was buying it.

For her part, Candis has made me lunch which turned out to be a little spicy and has left my favorite pair of running underwear at the bottom of the dirty laundry hamper. The joke is on her though because I’m still going to wear them.

In the vein of equal time for opposing views I offered that she could add anything to this post or even write a post of her own. Her response was “Just tell them I’m going to kick your a$$!” Yes dear, that’s a pretty good joke, I’ll be sure to include it.

The only thing left to do is figure out what the loser has to do for the winner. Naturally I’ve got some ideas, but feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Unnatural

Some of you are not going to like what I have to say today. I know this because my reader has recently been speckled with more and more posts about Vibram Five Fingers and the benefits of barefoot running. My quarrel is not so much against barefoot running or those funny little hobbit shoes but more against the argument used to promote it which goes something like this: ‘Barefoot running is more natural and therefore better.’ I’m not buying it.

We’re supposed to believe that primitive man ran barefoot and so it’s the best way to do it, but you know what? There are a lot of things that came naturally to primitive man that we no longer do and I, for one, am happy about that. For example, do you know how primitive man trimmed his toenails? He didn’t! The toenails just wore themselves down from all that running around barefoot or broke off when they got too long or when he stubbed his fat little toes on rocks. In fact, I postulate that primitive man only ran barefoot as a means of toenail control and that had he owned a pair of nail clippers he’d have been hunting down behemoths in Nike Waffle shoes long before the 70s.

Just because the human body does something naturally doesn’t make it better or more efficient. As evidence I offer this heartily abridged list of things that are fake (not natural) and are vastly improved because of it: Meat Paste, Demi Moore’s face, Pamela Anderson’s chest, Cool Whip (interesting that this would be the next thing that came to mind after Pam Anderson, no?), Cheez Whiz, *breaks into song* ‘these are a few of my favorite things.’

If you played any kind of sports growing up then you have experienced a coach showing you a better way to throw, hit, shoot, etc. (followed by sobbing into your pillow at home if you’re like me) because your body doesn’t always naturally do things the most efficient way. As my son has been learning to play baseball his natural inclination was to throw with his feet firmly planted perpendicular to his line of throw. He had to be coached to step with the opposite foot when he throws, but now that he has learned this behavior he is able to throw with much more efficiency and effectiveness.

Even if natural was better, I’m not convinced that running barefoot is more natural than running in shoes. The human body is incredibly adaptive. When your parents first put shoes on your feet and you began walking and running, you didn’t make a conscious effort to change your stride, your body ‘naturally’ switched up your foot-strike pattern. Your body was smart enough to recognize the innovation of the shoes and adapt to them. Couldn’t you argue then that the way you run with shoes on your feet is also pretty natural? You could, because I just did. It doesn’t really matter though since I’ve already established that natural isn’t necessarily better.

To sum up: 1) Natural doesn’t necessarily equal better. 2) Running barefoot isn’t natural. That might seem a little contradictory but this is the kind of circular logic that I like to employ because it’s very hard to argue with. Go ahead and try arguing with me *sticks fingers in ears* “la la la la la la I can’t hear you!”

For actual scientific analysis of such matters I point you back to this article by Science of Sport. They agree with me... at least I think they do. I didn’t fully understand everything they said due to their use of big sciency words. We get it guys, you’re smart.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Rundom Thoughts

At the risk of starting another blog feud I’m going to go ahead and post some more Rundom Thoughts. If I don’t post them then the terrorists (Nitmos) will have won, and also, I’m pretty sure that they would just keep building up until the pressure caused my head to explode. As I’ve said before you can think of these Rundom Thoughts posts as me relieving myself onto the blog.
  • Shouldn’t Team In Training be abbreviated as TIT? I really think that this could only help bring more attention to their cause.
  • Unavoidable running law: If you arrive at a crosswalk tired and in need of a break all traffic will stop to let you keep going. If you are in the zone and feeling strong no one stops to let you cross.
  • Vibram Five Fingers are like the Crocs of running shoes. Everyone says they’re really comfortable but they look ridiculous. “Hey look at me, I’m Frodo Baggins!”
  • Do they also make gloves called Vibram Five Toes? The Hell?
  • And another thing, what’s with the discrimination against people with 6 toes, Vibram?
  • Three words: Bacon Flavored Gels. How about it CLIF SHOT people?
  • In order to recruit more people to become runners I think we need to update the lingo a little. Talking about the ‘runner’s high’ probably worked well to recruit people in the 70s and 80s but I think it’s time we all started referring to it as the ‘runner’s orgasm.’ That’s bound to entice more people to the sport. Sex sells, baby!
  • I received an e-mail last week (while my unsolicited e-mail rant was still at the top of the page) from Michelle asking for publicity for the Run For Life Salt Lake Half Marathon on September 5th. The subject was “At great risk of ridicule or mocking...” Ballsy move Michelle, but I was in a good mood, so go check it out.
  • Lesson to be learned: Make sure your solicitous e-mails show up in my inbox when I’m in a good mood. Good luck with that.
  • Yesterday I followed a car with the license plate MRTHNR. The license plate holder said ‘I do 26.2’ and there was a bumper sticker of a local running club on the car plus an additional 26.2 sticker. Naturally the car was a Toyota 4Runner. Even I thought it was a little over the top. I tried to get close enough to snap a cell phone picture but I couldn’t catch up... I think that might be a sign or something.
  • Candis finished the Tri Babes sprint Triathlon on Sunday in 1:27:38, a full 10 minutes faster than last year! I’m trying to talk her into a race report.
  • An awesome job to be sure, but a 30 minute 5k to end it? That’s never going to be fast enough to beat me at the Skirt Chaser this Saturday, even with the 3 minute head start they give the skirts.
  • I cannot reiterate this enough: They’re NOT Cargo Shorts!
  • I hate the T9 predictive text software on my phone. Candis and I had a major misunderstanding recently when I texted her to tell her that I was going on a ‘5 milf run through the neighborhood’ after work. 5 MILE run, a 5 MILE run you stupid phone!

Friday, August 21, 2009

The New Podcast is Up

Which is to say that it is available for download and has been posted at our podcast site. I should probably have a permanent link to the podcast site somewhere on the right side of this blog and get into the whole spirit of promoting it. I’ll eventually get around to that and maybe I’ll even take the time to figure out the embeddable player. The thing that I don’t get about the embeddable player is how it... THEY’RE NOT CARGO SHORTS!!!!!! I’m sorry for that outburst, I just can’t go on pretending that things are OK between us after your mockery of my race wardrobe yesterday. You all owe me an apology and a hug. I don’t wear cargo shorts when I run. I make fun of people who wear cargo shorts when they run (see here). These are the same shorts I’m wearing in this picture, which no one had a problem with at the time... in fact... that’s the same shirt and hat too, even though that was taken almost 2 years ago... hmmm... could it be that it’s time to update my wardrobe? No, the hat stays but maybe I should update the lucky blue race shirt (which has clearly lost its mojo) and the shorts (but not because they’re cargo shorts just because they’re old).

Where was I? Oh yes, the podcast. One of the searches that led to Half-Fast this past week was ‘half fast podcast’ but let me be clear that it’s not the Half-Fast podcast. (I know this because there is no Half-Fast podcast.) It’s merely the podcast that I, the author of Half-Fast, participate in. Sure, I may be the most blindingly attractive of the participants (it used to be Amy, but she went and got knocked up and fat and stuff) but it’s not my podcast and the other members of the team deserve equal recognition, actually probably more recognition. So once again thank you to Amy, Nitmos, and Raz who did their best to make me sound funny and whom I feel weird about referring to by their screen names since we all call each other by our given names when we do the ‘cast.

This week on the Banned on the Run we interview John from Hella Sound about the running music that he records. John has been kind enough to supply us with some original music for the podcast intro and outro (is that a word) which means we don’t have to steal stuff or resort to music that is so crappy that no one wants to copyright it. Thanks John! Anyway, if you don’t want to listen to the podcast I strongly encourage you to go check out John’s site at www.hellasound.com. John records original music for runners, synced to your individual pace to help you through your run, and if you’re like me, you can use all help you can get.

Enjoy the weekend everyone!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Allure of Race Pics

I was poking around the Georgetown Half website trying to find race pictures and then I began to wonder why I was doing that. Why would I even want to look at my race pictures from what is potentially one of the worst races of my life? What would make me think that the race pictures from a race I crapped out on would be worth looking for? Even my pretty face can’t save some things. I’ve stated previously my firm belief that no one looks good in their race pictures and yet I still go looking for them after each and every race. It’s like driving by an accident and thinking ‘boy, I hope no one was hurt’ as you slow down and try to see if you can see any blood on the wreckage. You can’t not look.

On the front page of the website I noticed that it said in big bold letters “Mark your calendar next year’s race will be held on August 14,” and so I did. I grabbed my calendar, turned to August 14th, 2010 and I wrote down “Find something else to do this weekend.” I hate that stupid race. Some people might be overcome by competitive spirit and want to go back for a third attempt in order to finally conquer the course, but not me. I live by the words that W.C. Fields once said: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then give up. There’s no sense being a damn fool about it.”

This race is my nemesis. The kryptonite to my Superman, the David to my Goliath, the internet to my newspaper business, the Pat Garrett to my Billy the Kid, the Google to my Yellow Pages, the Gigli to J-Lo’s acting career, the overly long analogy to my otherwise quality blog post. In other words it is my curse and the cause of my defeat. Of course, this could be said of several of my recent races but it I think it applies more to this one than any other. I’m not planning on attempting it again, or being so melodramatic about it in the future.

Anyway, that’s the only race picture that I’m posting. If you want to see the rest of the train wreck of pictures you’re going to have to put your stalking skills to work, which shouldn’t be too hard given the information in this post.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Off Track: How Not to Solicit

Yesterday I received an e-mail from someone inquiring about advertising here on Half-Fast, more specifically they were looking for a little link love. I get these pretty frequently and I tend to be quite stingy with the permanent links unless there’s money on the table, but if you use the correct approach (read: effusive flattery) then it’s pretty easy to get a plug in the Weekend Splits, you know, when I’m actually posting them. Anyway, there was nothing particularly out of the ordinary about this e-mail, nothing malicious to speak of, but the recurrence of these types of e-mails has been increasing lately. This was just the unfortunate one that broke the camel’s back and now I’m going to take out my frustrations with all those solicitous e-mails on this one. Let’s dig in, shall we?

“Hi I’m Brenda [last name redacted] from [URL also redacted]. We offer one of the largest selections of flowers, hampers and wines and champagne gifts online, giving our customers useful tips and information to help them find the perfect flowers and gifts to send for any occasion. .”

At this point I’m thinking ‘why are you telling me this, why didn’t my spam filter catch this and why are there two periods at the end of that sentence?’

“I am looking for partners that compliment our site and half-fast.org seems a good fit.”

Really? Half-Fast seems like a good fit to you? Because runners are the largest purchasers of flowers? I’m pretty sure that the only thing my readers care of wine and hampers is that too much wine before a race hampers performance, so this seems like a strange request to me, but let’s see what you’ve got in mind.

“We can either:- 1) Exchange links with you”

Right, because I’d get tons of great traffic from a British Florist. (The URL ended in .co.uk)

“- OR - 2) Our team have been working hard creating content on our own site and we wondered if you would be interested in some free of charge content written just for half-fast.org.”

Not based on the way that sentence was written. Seriously, isn’t that the clunkiest sounding sentence you’ve read today? The next one is pretty good too. It’s even missing a word.

“Our editors cover a wide range of subjects and can quickly agree a subject with you and write specifically for you - you will have full editorial control and it definitely won’t be a sales pitch for us. All we would ask is that you allow us to include one simple text link back to [URL redacted] towards the end of the content which will hopefully be found by the search engines in the longer term - which is how we would benefit.”

You know how else you would benefit? Proofreading. Also, by sending this e-mail to blogs that cover flower related subjects. That’s two freebies off the top of my head.

“Please let me know your thoughts.”

You want my thoughts? First of all, that was the best sentence you’ve written thus far. Secondly, I’m thinking that I’d rather find an IRS audit notice and a jury duty summons in my mailbox than allow you or any of your team anywhere near my blog with a post of your own. Believe it or not I’m pretty particular about what gets written here, in fact, I’ve only ever allowed one other person to write posts at Half-Fast and she had to sleep with me before I gave her permission to post. (BTW, she is on the record as saying that it was over quickly and she barely felt a thing so it was not as steep a price as it sounds.) I’d offer the same type of arrangement, but I’m pretty sure the last one was an ‘exclusive rights’ kind of a thing.

As if all that isn’t enough I received the exact same e-mail from her about two minutes later, further proving her incompetence. Brenda, I’m going to pass on your kind offer, because if I wanted a shoddily-written, double-posted blog entry I’d just do it myself. I’m getting quite proficient at shoddy writing. And before anyone else points this out in the comments, I’m aware that I probably don’t always use correct grammar (or even know what the correct grammar is), but then, I’m not offering to write a blog post for you, am I? You can be sure that if I was offering my services as a writer I would take the time to make sure that everything was correct or blackmail hire someone else to do it for me. That’s how I roll.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Party’s Over

You’ll be pleased to know that the pity party here at Half-Fast has come to a close. After two days of wallowing in my failure and moping around the house I finally went and ran again last night. We dragged our children (drug? - or is that a different parenting technique) to the local middle school track and forced them to sit on the hot metal bleachers and yell encouraging things as Candis and I did some 800s because we like to make it hurt so good.

In the past I’ve written some disparaging things about intervals but last night it was just what the doctor ordered, assuming the doctor is a sadistic prick who wants to hurt you. If runners were emo, intervals would be how we cut ourselves.

Surprisingly, it felt good to be out there struggling for breath. It felt good to push my legs to the point of exhaustion. It felt good to hurt myself and I couldn’t help but wonder if this is the same feeling or high that emo people get when they carve stuff into their arms. It was like I was connecting to them on their level, but without the skinny jeans.

Reaching your limits in training is what helps you to push them back, and that’s just what I needed last night. That and a good psychological evaluation but one out of two ain’t bad, right?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ooof!

Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon Race Report
Let’s play a little game where you guess why this race report is getting posted so late. Is it:

a) Because I suck.
b) Because it is deftly written prose with many clever turns of phrase and witty observations and it takes time to craft such beauty in writing.
c) Because I posted a new Personal Worst.
d) Because I don’t want to talk about it.
e) Because I was keeping you in suspense to build up my page views.
f) Because the first race report I wrote was so whiny and unbearably depressing to read that I just outright deleted it and had to start over.
g) All of the above.

If you took the easy way out and answered g) All of the above, then you’re wrong because b) clearly isn’t true. The correct answer is actually secret answer h) which is ‘all of the above except for b).’

Yes, it’s true. I put the ‘race’ in disgrace and managed to post a new Personal Worst! My time was 2:04:33 (9:31 pace). I won’t waste your time with excuses and explanations about why I failed spectacularly because I don’t really have any. The weather was just about perfect, the course was great, and I didn’t do anything stupid the night before. The only thing I can think of is that I had this Detour Runner bar that I was saving for my pre-race breakfast, but Candis ate it a couple of days prior to the race. I don’t even think she was running at the time, she just did it to spite me so I ended up eating plain old toast instead. Hence, the new PW.

There are a number of frustrating things about this new low, the first of which is that I’m not even sure I can put my finger on what went wrong. Somewhere around mile 8 or 9 my legs started getting really stiff and I just couldn’t keep them going at my desired pace. I even tried envisioning Kara Goucher, who is undefeated at the half marathon distance, but all that did was make other things stiff and further hinder my running. Perhaps I should have envisioned her running?

The second thing that is frustrating about this recent crapping of the bed is that it clearly signals that I have managed to get slower this year. (Perhaps you would expect nothing less from a site named Half-Fast.) This year I have run a 10K, a 5K and now a half marathon at slower pace than I ran them last year. One slow result is a bad day, two are an uncanny coincidence but three bad races in a year are a stinging belly flop into the realization that I’m slower. Join me won’t you? The water’s warm. I’m taking failure to all new levels and I can’t even argue that these results were due to tough courses because the 10K and the half that I ran this year were on the same courses where I PR’d last year. It’s like I have no excuse (except for that breakfast bar thing, I’m holding on to that one), I’m just slower. Fortunately I continue to get handsomer and handsomer with age so I’ve still got that going for me.

I’ll wrap up this race report here because I can feel it starting to head the same way the first attempt went (which is straight to the bottom of the nearest bottle) and I really am far too lazy to write it up a third time.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Just a PR, ma’am

That’s all I’m after at the Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon tomorrow, just a PR. There was a time in my running when attaining a PR was just a given at every race. That no longer seems to be the case and I’m learning to be OK with that (read: taking it out on my family). However having missed a PR at the Gut Buster 5K last weekend and at the Bolder Boulder 10K this year (the first time I haven’t PR’d that particular race) I’m in desperate need of a PR. I’m in need of some feel-goodery (that should totally be a word).

My current PR for the half marathon distance is 1:56:45, which was set at this same race last year incidentally, and I’ll be happy if I post a time that’s even one second faster because it will still represent a chest-thumping PR. It will help me to answer the nagging voices in my head that keep telling me I’m getting slower. Furthermore it will help me to answer all of you people in the comments who find something in every post to say “see, this is why you’re getting slower,” you know who you are.

The Runner’s World SmartCoach program that I’ve been following says that I should be able to complete the race at an 8:32 pace in 1:52:00. I’m planning on starting out a little slower than that and building up to it as the race progresses. I want to run this race a little more conservatively than I normally would for a couple of reasons: 1) Last year I started out too fast and the combination of running downhill and over-zealous speed led to cramping up in the final miles. 2) I don’t need 1:52, I need a PR. Not that I wouldn’t love to have 1:52 or even better, but this isn’t the race that I’m going to go after it. I have another half marathon coming up in October and maybe I’ll set some outrageous goal for that race and see if I can start fast and hold on.

Good luck to everyone else who is racing this weekend.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Deer Whisperer

As you already know if you read my last post (and shame on you if you didn’t) I spent last weekend in Grand Lake, CO. Despite my humiliation and failure at the Granby Gut Buster 5K I was still calling myself a runner and was looking forward to a Sunday morning long run which would take place on some of the nearby mountain trails. One of the great things about running on the trails is that it makes me feel at one with nature. I prance around the woods like a young fawn, I drink from the streams and I blend into the scenery as though I am one of the woodland creatures.

I was roughly 6 miles into my long run when I rounded a bend and came across the following scene:


It’s tough to make them all out but there were 4 deer on the trail ahead, one of them was a young fawn (like me!). Evidently they had not heard or smelled me approaching, probably because I was at one with nature and also because I had just doused myself in urine (unintentionally) when I stopped for a pee break a mile back. Now, unlike some cowardly running bloggers, who are apparently afraid of deer, I did not turn and run away like a frightened little girl. Remember that when I am running, I am at one with nature and so I continued to approach the deer. All but one of them immediately fled but the remaining deer (who will likely end up as some hunter’s dinner) stuck around to check me out. I approached her slowly, speaking softly like the Deer Whisperer that I am. I whipped out my camera phone to take some pictures and the deer was so at ease with me that we dropped into the roles of photographer and model without hesitation.

“Yes! That’s it baby! Work it! Work it! Yes! Now show me coy.”


“Excellent, now turn around and give me a shot of that sexy haunch. Ooooh, you’re giving me chills, you sexy doe.”


After I had taken a few pictures it was time to get back to running and my new friend agreed to pace me for a little while.


We eventually parted ways, but not before she told me a funny story about the rube she once saw running on the trails that was terrified of deer. We laughed long and hard about that one before we said our goodbyes. Can you imagine that? Someone being afraid of a deer? That’s funny stuff.
Bonus Deep Thought by Jack Handey
“I saw on this nature show how the male elk douses himself with urine to smell sweeter to the opposite sex. What a coincidence!”