Thursday, July 30, 2009

Shake What?

As a world renowned and well respected running blogger (and part time sex symbol) I often field questions from readers about workout tips. Mostly I just ignore them as this helps to amplify the idea that I am far too good to be corresponding with common folk, but recently I’ve seen an influx of e-mails asking me how a runner might go about toning their arms so that they match up with their hard, chiseled legs. Since I am in a particularly generous mood this morning I’m going to answer your questions and show you an exercise product, designed for women, that receives the Half-Fast seal of approval. Behold the Shake Weight.

You see that ladies, in just 6 minutes a day you can tone and shape your arms and get me all hot and bothered at the same time. If you can’t afford the $19.95 (+S & H) then I feel certain that your husband/significant other will be able to think of something that you could use in place of the Shake Weight. It might not last for 6 minutes, but 6 times a day is no problem at all. (Hey-yo!)

As always before beginning an exercise regimen with the Shake Weight you should consult your doctor, probably your optician since you could go blind if you over use the Shake Weight! (High Five!) I’m renewing my gym membership based solely on the hope that they are going to add this piece of equipment.

Other jokes that were considered for this post:
Shake Weight is ideal for women who are into looking their absolute best and not looking to get pregnant right now.
Shake Weight will help you tone your arms and get you ready for a lucrative career in porn.
Shake Weight, because practice makes perfect.
When using Shake Weight be sure to use a firm grip, but not too firm.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

47¾ Laps

Well, I resisted the urge to try my hand at the steeplechase jump pictured in the post below. It was tempting but I didn’t want to run the majority of my long run with a wet foot, or worse a wet torso and a busted up chin. I considered trying it on my last lap and having Candis film it just in case I took a digger, but since I didn’t start running until almost 8 o’clock it was dark when I finished and you wouldn’t have been able to see much anyway. Plus, by the time I finished my legs were pretty shot and I wasn’t liking my chances of completing the jump without injury. Maybe next year.

The goal was to run 12 miles on the track which is roughly 48¼ laps, but only if you do all 48¼ laps in lane one. Throughout the night I found myself weaving back and forth across the track to get around large groups of walkers and in some cases groups of large walkers. At the start of my 48th lap my trusty Garmin (p.b.t.n) informed me that I had completed 11.82 miles and when I was ¾ of the way around the track it beeped out a distance alert for 12 miles. Actually, it didn’t so much sound like a beep but rather like a heavenly chorus of angelic beings serenading me with the most beautiful sonnet known to man that simply translated to ‘you can stop now.’ It was exquisite. So, after 47¾ laps I stopped running because you don’t question the infallibility of The Garmin (p.b.t.n.) you just do as it says and then hope that it is appeased and gives you good splits. It did not.

I can tell you unequivocally that this was the second most grueling run of my life, with the first being the marathon. I went into it knowing that it would be boring but figuring that I would just keep plodding along at my usual pace until it was all over. I underestimated the effects that boredom and monotony can have on your pace and your desire. You would think that running your entire run on a perfectly flat, rubberized surface would be ideal, but by the end of mile 4 I was begging for some downhill sections and some uneven concrete to run on. By mile 8 I was longing for an uphill section to break the tedium and force a change in my stride. I came really close on multiple occasions to running out through the gates into the parking lot and down the street for a few miles, but I managed to stick it out and I completed all 12 miles on the track at a dismal pace. I do not recommend it.

Adding insult to injury (by which I mean my slow pace) was the fact that the official event photographer did not manage to capture a single photograph of me running. I think he was probably intimidated by my regal stride and overbearing magnificence. He did however take several pictures of Candis and the boys which is why there’s a picture of them at the top of this post. That picture was taken during the Candy Lap, and yes, I participated in the candy lap while I was running although you’ll have to take my word for it as there are no pictures to prove it. Stupid photographer, I think he had the hots for Candis. If I see him again I’m gonna’ have to whoop his butt.

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to all of you who donated. There’s something really special about seeing donations come in from people that you only know on the internet. You guys are the best!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Must Resist Urge

48 Laps

Tonight I’m doing my long run (12 miles) on a track as part of the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life. You can donate by visiting my fundraising page, and if you need a little tugging on your heartstrings then you can read my post from a couple of days ago. If you need a little tugging on anything else you can do that on your own time.

As Nitmos astutely pointed out in that previous post, 12 miles on a track is actually a little more than 48 laps due to a mile being a little more than 1609 meters. So technically I’d have to run 48.28 laps but it seems highly improbable that I’ll fell like doing an extra quarter lap after having done 48. I’ll probably let you know what I decide to do about this matter in a 3 post series next week. It will be captivating.

To ready myself for the boredom that comes from running 48 (and a quarter, maybe) laps on a track I’ve been doing some preparation exercises. Things like:
  • Watching paint dry.
  • Watching fishing on TV.
  • Reading all of Nitmos’ archives. (Zing!)
  • Slowly spinning around and around in my office chair.
  • Working.
  • Talking on the phone to my Mother. (Hi Mom!)
  • Watching the Hallmark Movie Channel.

Hopefully I won’t get too bored, but maybe I’ll take my Blackberry and surf the internet while I run just to be safe. Although, I somehow doubt that would actually be safe. You’ve got to keep your head on a swivel when you’re at the track otherwise you’ll end up like the girl in this short 9 second video. I bet you watch it more than once.

Now, please go donate. Do it for the moral sense of superiority that it will give you, do it for the tax break, do it because you don’t want to be seen as less generous than this guy.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Rock Out

Do you ever get a rock stuck in your shoe when you’re running? This happened to me last night and it sucked. Now I don’t want to make it seem like I’ve never had a rock in my shoe whilst running, it has just never been quite as painful as it was last night and honestly it has never occurred to me that I could squeeze a blog post out of it. Plus this wasn’t just any old rock that I got stuck in my shoe. It was an angry devil-rock, intent on destroying my sole *rimshot!* and I suspect it was made out of kryptonite because what kind of pansy complains about a regular rock in his shoe? Not this pansy guy, that’s for sure.

It happened early in the run, within the first mile, but I was already starting to get into my groove like Madonna, and I didn’t want to stop, untie my shoes and go through that whole rigmarole just for a teeny, tiny, little rock. I was in the zone and everyone knows that you don’t ever stop when you’re in the zone so I kept on running. Usually when a rock gets into my shoe if I keep running it moves around and nestles in to one of the nooks or crannies in my shoes and I don’t feel it anymore. Despite me routinely shaking my foot mid-stride to move the rock, it never moved. Instead the devil-rock planted itself squarely beneath the ball of my left foot and it stayed there for the remainder of my run. Again, I could have stopped and removed the rock, but I really, really didn’t want to because I didn’t want to mess up my splits and it really didn’t hurt that bad.

When I got home I took off my shoe and held it up vertically so the rock dropped into the heel section. My eyes narrowed to a glare and I found myself mouthing ‘well hello there you little sonofa...’ and then I realized that my neighbors were watching me and probably wondering why I was so mad at my shoe. I dumped the rock onto the driveway and noticed that it wasn’t nearly as big as it felt inside my shoe. Not so tough now are you?

This morning I have a nice big blister from that stupid little rock. My advice to you, fair reader, is that next time you get a rock in your shoe you should stop running, remove your shoe and evacuate the superfluous rocks. You heard it here first; don’t continue to run with rocks in your shoe. Additional advice columns that you can expect to see in the near future at Half-Fast include:
  • How Hydrating Could Benefit You
  • Don’t Eat Mexican Food Before a Run (Note: I did this last night too, but that’s a story for another post.)
  • Peeing Into the Wind, Why It’s a Bad Idea
  • Running Up Hills, It’s Harder!
  • Off Topic: Buy Low, Sell High - A Revolutionary New Way to Invest.
  • The Sky, It’s Blue!

If you missed it yesterday (what, you don’t come here every day?), please see the post below in which I do penance for all the mean-spiritedness that pollutes this blog on a daily basis and donate to a good cause if you feel inclined. Don’t make me break out the ol’ Jedi Mind Trick.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.

This is supposed to be a humorous blog about running, which may come as a surprise to you but that’s because you have no sense of humor. “You see everyone thinks they have a sense of humor but then they don’t all.” Today’s post is going to be a little different in that it will take a more serious tone, but I’ll probably still throw in a few sarcastic remarks so you don’t forget where you are, just like Lady Gaga will probably wear something ridiculous this week.

Some time after I started writing this blog we learned that my Dad had cancer. At the time I debated whether to share that on the blog or keep it to myself. It was a short debate and I went the typical guy route of bottling up my feelings and I felt decidedly macho about doing so. Fortunately, the doctors caught the cancer early enough, my Dad opted for the most aggressive approach to fighting it (surgery), and he has been cancer free for over a year. It’s a story with a happy ending.

In November of 2008 Candis’ Aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer and has been undergoing treatment. She is currently in the final days of treatment and doctors are amazed by her progress and her positive and upbeat attitude. Recent tests indicate that she too is cancer free and has fought the battle and won. Another story with a happy ending. However, there are many families out there for whom there are no happy endings. (Ed. Note: I really should have rethought using the phrase ‘happy ending’ but I don’t feel like going back and changing it now.) Candis and I realize that we have been blessed by fortunate outcomes in our encounters with cancer, but there are still far too many families that are negatively affected by cancer which is why we are participating in the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life.

The Relay For Life is an all night walk that takes place at a local high school track. Our team, which includes Candis’ Aunt, will join other teams in walking around the track throughout the night this Friday, July 24th. Last year there were a couple of guys there who were running laps while everyone else was walking and this year I’m going to be ‘that guy’ (or one of those guys). I’m going to stave off the insanity that comes from running at length on a track and attempt to do my long run. 12 miles. 48 laps. Ugh! That ought to show up those walkers. Silly walkers, tracks are for runners.

You can learn more about the Relay For Life and donate by visiting my fundraising page. If you can give even a dollar it will be appreciated, by me and by the thousands of families that are affected each year by cancer.

As a side note, this is the type of post that always gets very few comments here at Half-Fast because you’re probably asking yourself ‘do I say something funny like I normally would or do I say something sincere?’ Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s OK to leave funny comments on these type of posts but let’s face it, you’re not that funny anyway. Go ahead and feel free to say whatever it is you want to in the comments. With that I’ll leave you with a video that I’ve posted before of Jimmy V giving a speech at the ESPYs.

Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Downhill Running

As the Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon approaches I find myself starting to fret over some of the important details, things like:
  • Where will I park?
  • What will they be serving for the post race spread?
  • How should I handle the downhill course?
  • What if it’s really hot that morning?
  • Should the timing chip go on my right or left shoe? - (This is a trick question. Everyone knows that the timing chip always, ALWAYS goes on the right shoe.)
  • What shirt should I wear?
  • Should I wear a hat?
  • Compression shirt or band-aids to protect the nipples? Or both?

Of course all of those questions are important but the one that has been weighing on my mind the most is the issue of post race food. Is it going to be the same dry bagel and bananas that they had last year or will they upgrade to something better? Since there’s not much I can do to affect the post race spread (you can only e-mail pictures of bacon to the race director so many times before you get added to the junk mail senders list), I’m going to focus on something I can affect; learning how to run a race that is mostly downhill. As with any major life decision the best people to ask for advice on such topics are anonymous internet commenters, which is why I seek y’all’s counsel on this.

Last year I failed miserably at downhill running and had to slow way down at the end of the race. You can read the race report and see the splits here if you’re into reading about other people’s pain. Basically I think there are two strategies when it comes to running downhill. 1) Apply the brakes and control your pace and 2) give in to gravity and let yourself go. Last year I opted for number two because it felt so good (for 10 miles) and if Sheryl Crow has taught me anything it’s that if it makes me happy it can’t be that bad, right? Wrong! If it makes you happy, it’s probably only temporary and then the pain and leg cramps start, but that’s a little too wordy for song lyrics so I can see why Ms. Crow went with what she had there.

Anyway due to last years catastrophe, I’m obviously giving serious consideration to reigning in my pace a little more during the early miles of this race and trying to remain controlled on the hills, but in the interest of analyzing my running ad nauseam how should I do that? Run with a vertical posture? Slightly forwards or backwards lean? Gangsta’ lean? Chin up or down? Longer stride or shorter stride? Land on my heels or my midfoot? Hat on forwards or backwards? I just don’t know, which is why you’re here. Let me hear in the comments what you’ve heard or what you know about downhill running so that I can ignore you and do it my own way anyway. It will make it that much sweeter for you when you can tell me “I told you so,” after I fail again this year. Positive thinking, schmositive thinking!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Weekend Splits

Weekend Splits is my recap of things that I found interesting or humorous over the past week. If you have a submission for the weekend splits, e-mail me.

That is Aubrey Miles [via KSK] and I don’t think she’s a runner, but her name is Miles. You know, like those units that you use to measure your runs. It’s easily a close enough tie-in to running for me to post her picture and pass it off as running related. You know what? Why are you even reading this lame explanation of why it’s running related when there’s that picture up there? On to the links (like you’re even reading this).
  • Jamoosh presents the Man-Laws of Running.
  • Beth at Shut Up and Run is trying to win some competition so she can win a trip to Oregon to run the Hood to Coast Relay... wait the winner has to run and the losers don’t have to? What kind of twisted contest is that? Anyway, she needs your help and she’s even promised to post more booby pics if you help her, so get over there and do it. Do it for the booby pics. Won’t somebody please think of the booby pics!
  • XC2 staged her very own duathlon and you're not going to believe it but she won, although I thought the judges should have penalized her for using the word “pre-bonky” and for misspelling duathlon.
  • Me Too Marathon admits to being a whore... oh... check that. She actually said was that she was a downhill whore and wondered if they have porn for that. Indeed they do, get a load of the elevation profiles on this course.

Random Non-Running Related Video of the Week
SNL proves that they are still capable of turning out good, short skits.

That’s all I got. Enjoy the weekend everyone.

Friday, July 17, 2009

You know what your long run needs?

You know what would make the miles just melt away on your long run this weekend? A hilarious running podcast to listen to, but in the event that you can’t find one you could always listen to the latest episode of Banned on the Run. It’s full of awkward silences that will make you think that your iPod battery has died and will also totally throw off your pace. You don’t have to thank us, we do it for the joy we get out of it.

From your comments on yesterday’s post I gather that no one wants to listen to me whine and complain about running in the heat, and if that’s the case then you’re not going to like what’s coming. I went out yesterday for a 6 miler in the devastating heat (read: 82 degrees with very little humidity) and I was sweating like a pig in a synagogue. It was almost hot enough to make me long for the snow and wind that I complained bitterly about during the winter months. Almost. I managed to stick to a route that is mostly in the shade but it was easily 70 degrees in the shade and that slight breeze in my face wasn’t helping my pace. I tell you guys, it’s hard running here in Colorado in the summer months; I could barely even see the mountains with the glare from the sun in my face! But I struggled through it because I know that some of you look to me for inspiration. So next time you think that you’ve got it rough or that the conditions won’t permit you to run I want you to think back to me running 6 (six!) miles on a shady path, with mountain views and little to no humidity. Perhaps you’ll be able to turn those feelings of envy and hatred into determination and go run in any conditions.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hey! Where the hell is my afternoon thunderstorm?

I don’t usually like to make snap judgments about people that I don’t know but I think it’s pretty safe to say that the local TV weather girl is a lying whore! A couple of days ago she told me, nay, promised me that we were going to get some afternoon thunderstorms. Based on this information I decided to sleep in and go run after work because I wasn’t worried about it being sunny and 90+ degrees when I got home. Well apparently I forgot to take into account that our local weather girl is a compulsive liar who gets her rocks off by duping handsome bloggers into running in the extreme heat of the day. Well played madam, but I’ll have you know that I’m not that easily duped nor am I that committed to running that I would be foolish enough to run in such conditions. ‘I’ll show her,’ I thought to myself and instead I went down into the basement and ran on the treadmill. It was as boring as watching the weather channel, (Oooh burn! Chalk one up for Vanilla!) but it was worth it to avoid the heat.

One run on the treadmill is bearable, especially considering that it put me 1 - 0 up on the weather girl. Two runs on the treadmill in a week crosses the line from bearable to irritating and three treadmilling sessions in a week would trigger a DEFCON 2 level emergency in which all sharp objects must be placed out of my reach and the shoelaces are removed from all my shoes, thus preventing me from having four treadmill runs in a week which would cause the universe to collapse on itself. I don’t want any of you to worry but last night Candis forced me to run on the treadmill for the second day in a row, putting me into the irritating category (shut up, you know what I mean).

I had planned on running outside last night, but was informed when I arrived home that Candis had a meeting she needed to go to and I had to stay home and watch our two boys. I started to protest that she couldn’t just spring these things on me at the last minute but then she did that thing that women like to do where they say “Don’t you remember? We talked about this a couple of days ago,” when clearly we did not have any such conversation and even if we did, I’m really supposed to remember conversations from a couple of days ago? If the conversation did take place, and I’m not admitting that it did, she probably tricked me by talking to me while I was in the middle of trying to do something else like watching TV or sleeping or breathing. Of course there’s no point in me trying to argue this because then it just makes it look like I don’t pay attention to her which somehow equates to not loving her in the female mind. It’s easier and much less energy to just say that I do remember the conversation (which never existed) so I can get back to watching Ice Road Truckers uninterrupted. Incidentally, I need to share with you sometime how Candis came to have a meeting last night because it’s hilarious, not to mention a little humiliating for her.

Anyway, that’s the (longwinded) story of how I came to have two treadmill runs in a row and the reason that I’ll be running outside tonight when I get home... or simply not running at all (hmmm... tempting). It’s supposed to be hot and sunny again tonight, at least that’s what the weather girl says, but I can’t possibly torture myself on the treadmill for another day.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Curious Case of Cyclists

I’m back from my two week blog sabbatical and today I want to try to formulate my opinion on those spandex-loving, pedal pushers that we call cyclists. You know what they say about opinions; they’re like A-holes, everyone has one but mine’s the only one that doesn’t stink. Coincidentally cyclists are sometimes like A-holes too. Sometimes. When I started running I was one of those annoying people who waved at everyone else on the path; runners, cyclists, rollerbladers, dog walkers, squirrels and speed-walkers. If you were out there exercising then we were kindred spirits and I figured the decent human thing to do was to acknowledge each other. Can you guess which of the aforementioned groups proved to be least likely to return my smiling head nod? If you answered ‘squirrels’ you’re absolutely right, but cyclists were only slightly behind them, scientifically proving that cyclists are only slightly smarter than squirrels.

Now I’m pretty sure that I have some cyclists that read Half-Fast (at least I did until I wrote that first paragraph) and I know I have some triathletes who visit, my wife for one, so please hear me out before you go getting all offended or leaving me nasty comments or putting my pillow and some blankets on the couch. This past week I had the misfortune of being accused by a cyclist of being a ‘douchebag’ and showing signs of ‘douchetardation’ in my very own comments section, which is annoying because I thought ‘douchetardation’ was pretty funny. Anyway, I’m probably projecting my displeasure at that one cyclist onto all cyclists which is a lot of fun for me, but completely unfair to cyclists in general. I hear that painting people with a broad brush and creating stereotypes is not a nice thing to do and can apparently be quite insulting, not to mention that it could lead to me being wrong about something which would be a travesty. Just as there are a few runners who are idiots (I can think of at least three), I’m sure that there are only a few cyclists who are idiots and the rest are probably nice people. For example, I bet all of you reading this are of the nice variety (read: please don’t be mean in the comments, I’m a crier).

Still, there’s a part of me (the part of me that sucks at cycling) that wonders if there really are nice cyclists out there. Take the Fat Cyclist for instance, on the one hand he is a cyclist and a law-breaker. On the other hand he has a blog that’s well worth reading, a writing style that I find quite similar to my own (i.e. plenty of baseless braggadocio and sarcasm except immeasurably better all-around) and he has helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity which would indicate that he’s a nice person. It’s so confusing. Could it be that cyclists are people too? Can it be that they deserve equal rights, even equal access to the roads? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that they do because I’m a forward thinker like that. Cyclists, you’re OK in my book. I can imagine what a sense of relief you’re feeling knowing that you have my approval, but there’s no need to thank me.

So go ahead fellow runners, add a cyclist to your reader. You’ll feel good about having some diversity in your reader and you’ll realize that there’s more to life than running.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

30 Days, 30 Runs, 30 New Curse Words Learned

You know how sometimes people decide to do something (e.g. running) every day for a set period of time (e.g. 30 days) and then when that period of time comes to an end they decide they’re just going to keep doing the thing they were doing every day anyway because they wouldn't know what to do if they stopped, or they feel like they’re on such a roll that they just can’t stop? You know how that sometimes happens? Yeah, me neither. What the hell is wrong with those people? My 30 day running streak is over and I’m taking some days off. That’s right, days - plural!

The streak will officially be over at midnight tonight. I knew from the start that I would not be enticed by the thought of continuing the streak, just as I knew before my marathon that I wasn’t going to get bitten by the marathon bug and sign up for another one. I accomplished my goal of running at least a mile for 30 straight days and I learned a very important lesson: I need my rest days. My joints hurt, my muscles are stiff in all the wrong places and my pace has deteriorated faster than everyone’s respect for Governor Sanford. Running every day in the month of June has pushed me to the brink of burnout, I know this because usually when I see runners during my morning commute I wish that I could be out running with them. This morning I saw a couple of runners and thought “ha ha suckers! I don’t have to run today, it’s July!” So yeah, I’m taking a couple of days off and then I’m getting back into it. I’ve got 6 weeks before the Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon so it shouldn’t take long for motivation to kick in.

Here are numbers for June:
Total Miles: 105 - New monthly PR!
# of Runs: 30 - (Duh!)
Average Pace: 9:36
# of 1 mile runs: 11 (Way more than I wanted.)
# of innocent bystanders I innocently screamed at during runs: 2
# of different shoes used for running in June: 4
Chance of me doing this ever again: 0%

Site News
I’m taking a little Blog Sabbatical this week (present post excluded) because I’ve never really taken any time away from this blog and because I deserve it. I’ll be back again on Monday, unless I decide to make it a 2 week sabbatical in which case I’ll see you all the following Monday. I hope you all have a fun and safe 4th of July, and I’ll catch you all on the flip side.