Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Get off my treadmill! Act 1

This is a two part story because it got kind of long when I was writing it and I was incapable of editing it down, a sure sign of a good writer.

As you know from my previous post I was in South Dakota last week for a little R & R but I packed some workout clothes so that I could squeeze in some running. The hotel website promised a fitness center, which if you travel a lot you know can be hit or miss. In this case the fitness center was a standard hotel room which had been filled with as much exercise equipment as they could squeeze in there along with a few TVs. It consisted of a treadmill, an elliptical, a recumbent bike (who uses those things?) a small sit up bench, a rack of dumbbells and a rack of towels. Frankly, I was happy with the set up as I never know what to expect when I’m at a hotel. My only concern with just one treadmill was that someone else would be using it when I was ready to run, it was a concern that proved to be valid.

On Friday morning we were on our way back from breakfast when I decided to stop by the “fitness center” to see if anyone was using the treadmill. If not, I planned to rush back to the room, change into workout clothes and then go claim the treadmill for a few quick miles. (Yes, “quick” should have probably been in quotes too.) As I entered the room I could hear the familiar thud of footsteps on a treadmill. Crap. Sure enough someone was using it, however that someone was a slightly chubby kid who I was sure was just screwing around and not actually working out. My assumption was not based on his weight but on the fact that he was running on the treadmill barefoot and in jeans. Jeans! As I left the fitness center I couldn’t help but notice that the sign on the door said “Under 18 must be accompanied by an adult” and I’m guessing this kid was roughly 8 years shy.

As I was changing back in our room I contemplated what to do if the kid was still on my treadmill when I got back down there. I figured my options were: 1. Anonymous tip to hotel security that a minor was using the fitness center unsupervised. 2. Go and use the elliptical while rolling my eyes and making disapproving faces at the kid until he felt uncomfortable enough to leave. 3. Be mature and say something along the lines of “Hey if you’re not really using the treadmill do you mind if I get in a few miles?” Mature and I don’t often get put in the same sentence like that though so I wasn’t going with option 3 and option 1 was too much of a prick thing to do, even for me so I settled on option number 2.

I walked back down to the fitness center practicing my disapproving stares and disgusted sighs only to find that the kid had already left. I have to admit I was a little disappointed that I was not going to get to use my new battery of expressions, but resolved to use some of my best ones on my family during the remainder of the trip. (I’m such a joy to be around!) My disappointment was short-lived however as the kid soon returned - without adult supervision!!!

I’ll post Act 2 in a little while, wherein the kid returns and makes an ass of himself, I respond by making an ass of myself and in general everyone’s an ass. It was not my finest moment.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I’m Back

What do you mean you didn’t notice that I was gone? You mean to tell me that you don’t hang on my every word? You don’t sit there helplessly staring at the computer screen waiting for a Half-Fast post, completely unable to do anything productive until you’ve heard what I have to say? I am deeply offended.

As you may have guessed from the picture above, my family and I spent most of last week in South Dakota admiring mountain carvings and buying up as much of South Dakota’s supply of polished rocks as my children’s little hands could carry. I tried to talk them out of the polished rocks but they had their own money to spend and when you’re six years old bagfuls of polished rocks sound like a wise investment. I would have told you all that I was going to be gone but I really thought that I was going to find time to post while I was away. Honestly I did have the time to post but just didn’t feel like it, plus I’ve got a really good story to tell you that deserves my full attention and a half-fast post from a hotel room just wouldn’t do it justice. I’ll get to the story tomorrow but for now just know that we had a good trip. We visited Mount Rushmore (very impressive) and Crazy Horse (less impressive, at least for now) and did you know that they carve those mountains with dynamite? I cannot begin to tell you how disappointed I was to learn that those are not natural rock formations! We also spent a lot of time at our hotel pool, which the kids loved because it had a waterslide. I totally owned that waterslide. I was like the German luge team at the Olympics. I would get to the top and grab the handle bar above the slide entrance, then I would rock back and forth counting out “eins, zwei, drei” and then I would fling my body down the tube without a thought for my own personal safety. That’s how you have to do it if you want to be the best in the world. The key to riding a waterslide is reducing your friction on the slide so you have to arch up and ride down on your shoulder blades and heels. None of the other kids were achieving the dangerous kind of speeds that I was or creating even one tenth of splash at the bottom that I was. They just could not match my derring-do. Candis and I were both so happy that the hotel had a water slide, you know, for the kids.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Back to the Track, Jack

(Note: I have no idea who Jack is, but I was feeling the whole rhyming post title and it sounded good in my head.)

On Tuesday night Candis and I took advantage of our extra hour of daylight and ventured out to the track for some intervals. You know what I love about the track? - Leaving. That’s right, I love it when the workout is over and I get to go home. Does running intervals at the track make me a better runner? Absolutely. Does it push me to my limits and leave me with a feeling of accomplishment? No question. Do I enjoy running intervals? No. No I do not. There is no better way to make yourself feel like a wheezing, lumbering fatty than to challenge yourself with some intervals.

I was a little slower than I would have liked and Candis was a little faster than I would have liked. I ran 5 x 800s (7:32 pace) and she had the nerve to stick with me for the first three 800s. Wha?!? Yup, she stayed about a step behind me for the first three intervals, probably so that she could admire my legs and butt. What am I a piece of meat? I managed to drop her on the last two intervals but I found little comfort in beating her because she cut them down to 400s so that I wouldn’t have the thrill of standing around at the finish line and waiting for her while repeatedly checking my watch.

There’s no motivation in the world like your wife starting to catch up to you. She’s getting faster and a cursory check of the last time I wrote about hating intervals reveals that I am not (see my pacing at the bottom of that post). I think she’s even starting to get ideas in her head about competing with me in races, which is just preposterous. How am I supposed to keep her in her proper place if she starts beating me in races? By the way, that’s just a rhetorical question because it’s NEVER GONNA’ HAPPEN. You hear me?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Runner Jumps off Cliff

In last Wednesday’s post I discussed all the ways that I envisioned myself escaping from any would be attackers who might be tempted to get up in my business while I was running. (I hope that phrase means what I think it means.) One escape tactic that I had never thought about was to jump off a cliff, but that’s exactly what one runner was forced to do recently in Malibu. From the AP:

MALIBU, Calif. — Authorities say a man tried to sexually assault a Southern California jogger who escaped by jumping off a cliff and sliding about 100 feet down a steep hillside.

Los Angeles County sheriff's Sgt. Derek Sabatini says the woman was taken to a hospital Friday with cuts and bruises from the fall in Malibu.

She told deputies she had finished a run at about noon at Point Dume State Beach and was standing at the edge of a cliff when she was grabbed from behind. She says she and the man struggled for several minutes before she was able to break away. That’s when the woman ran and jumped off the cliff.

Deputies say the suspect then escaped in the woman’s Toyota Land Cruiser. [Source]
I’m glad that the woman escaped and I hope that they find the prick that did this but sliding down the cliffs at Malibu is so not helping the coastal erosion problem that they’re facing there. Plus, what’s up with the AP referring to her as a jogger? She sounds more like a runner to me; jumping off a cliff is pretty hardcore.

Be safe out there, it’s not like this woman was out running in Compton. She was in Malibu for crying out loud. At noon!

Thanks to my sister/editor for the tip.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Half-Fast Friday: Virtual Race Report

Shouldn’t a virtual race be one that I get to run virtually? You know like on Wii Fit or something? I feel like I was conned when I signed up for this thing. Nevertheless, last night I went out and ran an actual 6.66 miles as part of Razz’s GW,MA!6.66MR. My FIRST training schedule called for a 7 mile run last night (1 easy, 2 tempo, 1 easy, 2 tempo, 1 easy) and I certainly contemplated just running 6.66 miles as fast as I could but ended up sticking to the suggested pacing. Far be it from me to question the authority of FIRST.

Yes, that means that my virtual race had 2.66 miles of easy running sprinkled throughout it but I think that was necessary for the following three reasons: 1. You can’t boast about being faster than me because I was taking it easy. 2. I’m lazy. 3. It was important to show a certain amount of disdain for Razz’s virtual race and what better way to do that than by throwing in a few apathetic miles.

The Results: 6.66 miles in 59:12, that’s an 8:54 pace. Meh.

Because no race report is ever complete without some excuses I feel like I should also mention that I’m still getting over a cold so I didn’t have a lot of energy for this race and it was really windy and it was hilly and it was at altitude. Basically what I’m trying to say is that my race was tougher than your race, but good job on beating me if you did. Bully for you. Try to not let the fact that I was throwing in easy miles tarnish your victory.

Enjoy the weekend, everyone!

Thursday, March 11, 2010


Do you ever keep watching a video over and over and you’re not sure why? Yeah, this video is kind of like that. I’m not sure why I like it so much, perhaps it’s the awesome title or the music. Or perhaps it’s the fact that it caters to my short attention span and my need to be entertained without having to invest too much of my valuable time.

On a running note, I plan to complete Razz’s GW,MA!6.66MR tonight so I should have a “race report” (air quotes!) ready to go for tomorrow morning... or tomorrow afternoon... or the next day, or whenever I feel like getting around to it. What are you, my boss? Get off my back already!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Things I Imagine While Running

When I was little I was in Cub Scouts, along with various other youth programs all designed to stop you from becoming the kind of adult that I became anyway. The motto of the Cub Scouts, which they drilled into our heads during my short time there is Be Prepared. You might have already known that. It was a motto that I took to heart and one that I still believe in today. Part of being prepared is imagining all of the worst case scenarios that could come your way and figuring out how you’ll deal with them. I employ this technique when I’m running.

For example, I often find myself out running when it’s dark. This is when there are unsavory characters lurking around every corner to get you so it is especially important to be prepared. Each cyclist that you pass could be a terrorist in disguise, sent to take you captive. That woman walking her dog could be an Al Qaeda operative whose mission is to rub you out. When I run at night I imagine that each pedestrian that I pass is a mortal enemy. I look around for reflective surfaces so that I can keep an eye on them without alerting them to my alertness. After they pass me I know that they are circling back around to attack but my Spidey senses are tingling and I feel the danger coming. As though I have eyes in the back of my head I deftly duck out of the way of their initial blow and then turn my defensive maneuver into a deadly counter attack. I spin around with lightening quickness and take the highly trained, combat-hardened terrorist completely by surprise. I execute a roundhouse kick with Chuck Norris-like perfection that catches my assailant squarely in the jaw. Stunned but not knocked out, the terrorist stumbles backwards and I immediately pounce and pummel them with brutal body blows from my steely fists. I put the terrorist in a choke hold and demand that he tell me who sent him. Seriously guys, I make Jack Bauer look like limp-wristed mama’s boy.

Later I’ll give an interview on TV where you’ll still be able to see my bloodied knuckles and sweat drenched shirt. I’ll describe in the most nonchalant fashion how I captured the most highly sought after man in the US and got critical information out of him that will save countless lives. It’s thoughts like these that keep me at a heightened state of awareness when I run, I mean sure, sometimes I almost run right into other runners because I’m so immersed in my daydreams, but for the most part I’m super aware.

Of course none of this has ever actually happened. It usually turns out that my tingling Spidey sense was just indigestion and if anything like that ever did really happen I’d probably crap my pants and faint. Later that night the local news story would be about a heroic woman who revived a runner that had passed out and soiled himself for no apparent reason.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Half-Fast Friday

One of the routes that I run through my neighborhood goes past the back of some houses that have 6 foot privacy fences lining their yards. Several of the houses have dogs all of whom bark at me and one of them even jumps so high that his head pops up over the top of the fence. Somehow I am always startled by this, even when I know it’s coming and prepare myself for it. Then his head pops up and he barks at me and I can feel myself jolt. I used to wonder if he was really jumping that high or if there was something on his side of the fence that he was standing on like a table or piles of dead runners that he’d somehow managed to grab. Then I saw this video (via WG). I wonder no more.

Let me add a note here to say that I own a dog and I love dogs, but I absolutely can’t stand it when dogs bark at me from their yards. Just leave me alone bitch! (Get it, bitch, because it’s a female dog! These are the jokes you get on Half-Fast Friday.)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Virtual Race Unlike Any Other Virtual Race!

Ok, so it’s exactly like any other virtual race but that’s not really very attention grabby now is it? Head on over to ROATM and sign up for Razz’s 6.66 mile virtual race. There are prizes and everything, in fact, one of the prizes is going to be supplied by yours truly and it’s autographed!! Let me say that again: IT’S AUTOGRAPHED!!! Do you have any idea what that’s worth? Roughly $8.57. You might think that I’m overstating it but the item that I’m donating as a prize really, truly was devalued by at least that much when I signed it with indelible ink. You won’t be able to wash that out.

There are certain rules and guidelines to signing up for the race, but you’ll have to go read them at Razz’s blog because I didn’t understand them the first time and I’m not about to put myself through another attempt to make sense of the stilted gibberish he posts over there. (Ooooh, the ref takes away a point for a low blow!) The race can be run anytime between March 5th and March 14th and you do have to sign up in the comments at ROATM.

I think that the idea behind the race is that we’re all giving Ol’ Man Winter the big middle finger, even though I don’t think I should do that since Ol’ Man Winter has been relatively kind to us here in Colorado the last few days. He’s been the friendly old grandpa who doesn’t come around much and always brings you money when he’s in town as opposed to the crusty old codger who finds the worst moments to be incontinent. Razz came up with the name of the race all by himself. It’s the Global Warming, My Ass! 6.66 Mile Run which I find kind of ironic considering all of the complaining that Razz did about lengthy race names. (PFCRNRAZM anyone?) Anyway you should head on over to his blog and sign up for the GW,MA!6.66MR which has an even longer abbreviation than the PF Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon, assuming that you count the punctuation, and I do.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Crazy Drivers!

You know what’s worse than a driver who won’t stop at a crosswalk to let you cross? A driver who stops when there’s no crosswalk. Here’s what happened on my run last night:

I had decided for no apparent reason that I would prefer to run on the other side of the street. Sometimes I do this in the middle of a run just to change things up, it’s the whole ‘sidewalk is always greener over there’ theory or something like that. As there was no cross walk for at least a couple of blocks and I’m extremely impatient I decided to wait for a break in traffic and make a run for the better looking sidewalk. Now, this street is not a busy four lane highway so I’m not talking about having to make a frantic, frogger-esque dash for the other side, but there are a few cars on the street so I stopped on the sidewalk to wait for a nice long break in traffic.

The car that is approaching from my left sees me standing there and begins to slow down to allow me to cross. I hate it when drivers do this because to the cars behind him it makes me look like THAT runner, the one that darts out in front of you and further impedes your commute, in fact if I was in the car behind him I’d probably be on my horn. So I try to wave him on and indicate that he should just keep going. He’s emphatically waving back at me signaling for me to go ahead, but traffic behind him is beginning to catch up and I’m worried that I’ll get smoked by the impatient driver behind him who I can see has four pairs of runners shoes tattooed on his front fender. One more and he’s considered an Ace. My concerns prove to be correct when the driver behind him, who clearly doesn’t see me despite the fact that I was flaunting my pasty white legs (53 degrees yesterday! Suck it East Coasters!), roars past him in the wrong lane yelling and cursing as he went. I give the polite driver a look that says ‘see, I told you’ and he can no longer be referred to as the polite driver as he too is yelling and signaling to me that I’m number one. Yeah, I’m the idiot here for not playing dodge ball with evening commuters.

To sum up, here are the driver’s crimes that landed him a mention on my blog today: 1. He was observant - he saw me standing there and recognized that I wanted to cross. 2. He tried to be polite, perhaps it even occurred to him that I would prefer not to have to stop running. So, my advice to you all when you get behind the steering wheel is to be less observant and less polite, the world could use a few more of these drivers.

Finally, I reserve the right in the future to complain about drivers being impolite and unobservant and not allowing me to cross the street.

Oh, and the sidewalk on the other side of the street was not greener, nor was it any more pleasant to run on.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Back to FIRST

As I prepare for the Bolder Boulder 10k on Memorial Day I am finally getting back on an official training plan. I’m going to be using the FIRST plan and will be doing some of the P90X workouts on my cross training days. You may remember that I had been doing P90X as part of my off season regimen. Or maybe you don’t remember since I notice that none of you have even bothered to ask how it went. Maybe that’s because you can tell how ripped I am just by reading the words that I type onto this blog, you can tell how quick and strong my fingers were when they typed these sentences and realized that obviously P90X had worked and obviously there was no need to ask how it was going because I’m so obviously ripped. Obviously. Or maybe it doesn’t seem like it’s been 90 days yet, but that’s only because the post where I originally mentioned P90X is still on the front page of this blog. Go ahead and look, I’ll wait while you scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page (no, I won’t actually wait, that would be silly not to mention a logistical nightmare). Or maybe you haven’t asked because you just don’t care about me like I care about you - by the way I care about you based on your worth to me, which Google AdSense tells me is roughly $0.06 per page view, which is why I haven’t asked YOU how YOUR training has been going.

Regardless of the fact that you haven’t asked I’m going to give you my thoughts on P90X (although you kind of tacitly asked by coming here unsolicited). P90X is a tough and challenging workout and you definitely see results with this program, but I prefer to focus on the negatives (it’s what makes me who I am) so here are some of the problems with the P90X program:

I am a free man.
It doesn’t make you do the workouts. I still have to choose to work out, which is kind of a problem for me because it turns out that I’m not very good at choosing to spend an hour sweating to a home workout DVD. What I really need is for someone to take me captive and actually force me to work out on a daily basis.

I figured out what the 90 means.
I started out doing pretty well. You may remember that I had intended to mix running in with the P90X workouts and initially I was successful with this. If you don’t remember that then you can scroll all the way back down and read the post again while I pretend that I’m waiting for you. So I was adding two runs a week to the six P90X workouts which was a shock to the system for someone who was used to running three or four times a week and doing little else. Eight workouts a week means no rest days even if you subscribe to Paul McCartney math. Anyway, there was no way I was going to survive eight workouts a week for 90 days. 90 days? This program is three full months? What kind of sick masochist came up with this?

I outsmart P90X.
I pretty quickly figured out which workouts were considered ‘strength training’ and which ones were ‘cardio.’ (Note to anyone considering the P90X program: the CardioX DVD is cardio.) This created a situation where I was able to rationalize (because I’m so smart) which workouts could be replaced by running which also happens to be a form of cardio. Pretty soon I had the P90X schedule down to three or four workouts a week because I was also running, only I wasn’t running. You see, I kind of stopped running on account of all the time I was putting in on the six P90X workouts, but I had (cleverly) pared down the P90X schedule to make room for the running which then turned out to be superfluous. I don’t expect you all to understand this because it takes a special kind of circular logic that only I possess, but just trust me when I tell you that it’s brilliant, bordering on genius.

I disagree with the nutrition plan.
A nutrition plan? Are you kidding me? I have to be careful about what I eat too? I thought that this workout was X-treme? If it’s so extreme why do I have to watch what I eat? Why can’t someone come up with a workout so extreme that I don’t have to watch what I eat? If the fire is hot enough anything will burn, even Big Macs.*

For the most part I liked the P90X program, which is why I’m incorporating some of the workouts into my training. Time (i.e. race results) will tell whether it has helped me or not. For a better review of P90X you can visit The Great Fitness Experiment because Charlotte is not smart enough to realize that you don’t have to do all of the workouts every week and so she did them all and in a completely unrelated turn of fortune managed to achieve better results than I did. Plus Charlotte always manages to get fantastic images for her posts and her P90X review is no different, I don’t want to ruin it for you but it does feature MacGyver.

*Quote stolen from that one famous book about a runner.