Thursday, June 16, 2016

Stamp Carving

I have a very modest amount of artistic talent. But given a decent medium, tools, and the ability to play without pressure, I can improve. At a modest pace.

Here's my first carve

It was a decent first attempt. And I still like dragon flies. I completed it in August of 2014. I've done some letter boxing since then, but kept the carve because I didn't want to invest time in making a new one.

This week, I've gone a little carve crazy. Here's the first negative carve (I don't know if that's the actual term: I took away everything I didn't want, instead of carving the drawing into the medium):

Its about the size of a quarter, and was inspired by my runwoodstock medal hanging from a lamp.
I then pulled from Stand Up Palleboarding for inspiration:

It turned out okay. Though without context it looks like messed up cave entrance with a street sign next to it. I might carve out "SUP" out of the board's body.  Still trying to decide.

After that, I went to running:

Though after the carve I wasn't sure if it's someone running or falling.
Then I went a little bit overboard. These were all done in one session-

Last but not least, I did one this morning:

I'm thinking the Sunflower will be my first plant; maybe as a hitch hiker; maybe if I find a field of sunflowers somewhere. Or maybe just flowers.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Martian Marathon 2016 (Cross posted to Facebook; nothing new to see :)

Summary: Time 3:43:30. Pace 8:31 min/mile. 55/199 overall, 48/124 gender, 6/13 age group.
When I run, I like to think; the longer the run, the more uniquely philosophical my ramblings can get. So when I see a sign that says: “Sweat is your fat crying” I can’t help think that isn’t quite true. Really, sweat is the the bodily remains of those fat cells that have been burned in the furnace of your metabolism; a much more violently cathartic image to me.
I thought these thoughts as I ran the Martian marathon this morning; and wish I could have turned up the furnace a little bit higher, because between the temps in the 20’s and the 20 mph wind (that seemed to always be blowing in to us runners- a trick on an out and back course) it was pretty wretchedly cold.
We were served gatorade slushies. I had to crush the cup of water a bit to break up the ice that formed at the top before drinking it. And when I did stop at and aid station, I could feel the cold start to work it’s way into me pretty quickly, which probably meant I was a little underdressed. All credit to the poor volunteers who had to stand out in the snow, wind and cold- it would have been an impossible race without them.
The experience can be broken up into three different mental periods for me. The first 15 miles was me trying hard and taking it seriously, thinking: “I have a goal time I’d really like to do” Miles 15-22 had more of a “this is not my ‘A’ race of the season, if I slow down I might enjoy this whole process a lot more” and finally 22 on where I said “screw it, I’m going to get this thing done ASAP.”
The first two parts were run with my friend Megan, who has more enthusiasm than any two other running friends I know. We were in a pretty good rhythm, chatting occasionally or being silent and thinking about chemistry or fat cells or puppies or whatever. Conversations can get kind of random in a glucose and oxygen deprived brain, especially the fatigue kicks in. When we caught up to a friend of hers that wasn’t doing so hot at mile 22, she stuck with him as I decided to push. We were among the half marathoners at that point, and the roads were getting crowded and I was pretty ready to be done.
When I finally got to the finish line, I had the pleasure of stopping and not needing to run anymore, quickly followed by the pleasure of having a couple of muscles decide to cramp up on me. Walking was what walking usually is after a marathon, but I kept at it. I bumped into a few different friends and chatted a bit, but got progressively colder even after putting some of my waiting around for the race to start clothes back on. I got to see Megan and her friend finish, then decided hot coffee sounded better than anything else in the world. The drive home was memorable. Trying to get out of the car was even more fun. But after a large amount of coffee, food, and a nap, I’m feeling almost normal again. At least, until I try to get up out of the chair.
In any case, I’ve got two weeks till my next race, a 50K. Good times!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Another week, and it was successful, and I have no complaints. Here are the days-

M -
T  10 (Q workout)
W 6
Th -
F- 20
S -
Su 13

Total of 49 miles for the week, and my goal was 48.

Tuesday was my only Q workout of the week; supposed to be 10 minutes easy, 4 x 2miles at Tempo pace (for me, 7:30-8 min/mile) with a 2 minute rest interval. I was supposed to do 30 minutes of easy running after the intervals, but I had to cut it short due to darkness. It went pretty well, although I slowed a bit when I ran out of sunlight. Next time I'll either wear a headlamp or do it on a treadmill.

I was really pleased with how the workout went, though. Last week's intervals were slower, but they felt harder. Of course, they were longer. But there were only two of them...

Wednesday run was a night through the woods with DJ. Lots of fun, although I was tired for the run on Tuesday.

Friday was a long run- didn't need to be, and I think I probably should have toned it down a bit, and run easy on Thursday and Saturday, but a long run in the woods on my own was kind of like a Christmas present to myself. And it was a beautiful day to be out.

Sunday was a nice easy run with a couple of friends at Island lake. Brought me back to last winter trudging through inches of snow or through the freezing cold. Ah, those were the days!

This week upcoming should be interesting. 54 miles, and two Q workouts, first involving half and quarter miles, totaling 10 miles, and the second almost exactly like this week's Q workout. I'm a bit nervous about them, but we'll see how they go...

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Falling off the wagon before officially starting.

So, I did this thing five years ago, where I ran using the Jack Daniels' training program (yes, it's a real program designed by an excellent exercise physiologist). Every week completed I took a shot of Jack Daniel's Whiskey and did my best to blog about the week.

Being a lightweight, it got harder and harder to be interesting, or even coherent, as the training progressed. But I persevered.

This time, trying the same program, I ran off the rails the first week. Oh, the training went fine, but when I sat down last Sunday to do my shot and write in this blog I didn't have any energy for either. So I scrapped the idea and went to sleep.

Today, however, I'm trying to make up for lost time. Shot done, and nursing the second. Let's see how coherent I can be.

I have this theory; training is great for the body, and getting strong and dealing with stress are but two of the many wonderful physiological benefits I get from running. But the biggest thing that training does for me is making me comfortable with a whole new level of suck.

So as I run, and things get tough, I think to myself: "Well self, this isn't so bad. I could get used to this. And if this is the new normal, than regular life is really pretty blissful, when all is said and done."

And suddenly that which was rough becomes normal, and my mind takes a shift towards being tougher than it was before.

So I did this run last Wednesday that was run three miles hard, then take a three minute break, than run another three miles hard. After that, run easy for about an hour.

The running hard was rough. The break felt nice, but the three minutes went by about as quickly as when kissing a new found love. The next three miles of fast was an exercise in forcing my body to endure, then an hour of easy running which- even though slow- still felt awfully rough.

But I got a little bit better at dealing with the Suck. And today's long run- a double loop of the bike trail at Pontiac Rec didn't seem so bad. 20 miles, but it was okay. And the company helped a lot.

So that was the big realization of the week, even though it's pretty self evident. Embrace the difficulty, and later difficulties won't seem as bad.

And hopefully next week I'll be tougher than I am today.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Woodstock 100K

So I finished the race, sat down, and had a cookie.

It was soft, maybe a little warm from the sun and oh-my-god yummy. Every bite was another slice of perfection. I remember  closing my eyes and thinking of how this moment encapsulated one of the key joys of running- the stopping, and pure simple indulgence of a well earned treat at the end of a long, difficult slog.

One of my friends asked "are you okay?' while I was eating the cookie, and I replied with something like "I'm just enjoying the cookie." When I think I should have said: "I'm just enjoying the hell out of this cookie." because I was. And I think in that moment each of the 18 hours I spent out on the trail was rewarded but the simple bliss of a single cookie, of sitting down and resting, of the contentment of finishing another race and not taking it for granted.

And that is one of the many reasons I run.

It was a good race, with only a fraction of the pain I experienced doing the 100 mile in 2013. The weather was even better, and I ran with good company for the entire time. My feet hurt, but that was the only real discomfort. I stopped being able to drink the water out on the course (similar to the Hungerford issue last year) about 30 miles in for whatever reason, so I drank sprite instead. No biggie.

I got to share stories and encourage people on and I found the the night is not half so difficult when there's good conversation. And the stars were lovely.

But there's a bit of sadness, too; a very real sense that I may never enjoy a cookie quite so much as I have already, that my 2015 Woodstock cookie experience is as good as it gets. Which is kind of a scary thing.

But I digress. It was a great run, and an excellent way to end the run, and I am content. Though I do hold out hope for an even better cookie experience, some day.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Labor Day 30K

Running easy sounds like a contradiction in terms, sometimes. Racing easy sounds impossible.

But it's exactly what I did during the labor day 30K this year; it's one of my favorite races, and I met up with some friends and ran with them through the race. Walked the hills, relaxed and kept an easy feel to it. Chatted, came up with a few plans for Woodstock next week, and tried to put my mind in neutral and just let the miles roll by.

Strangely enough, that's exactly what happened. I saw the mile markers, but didn't let myself think about them. I focused on my breathing, my stride, and on not on any pain I was feeling or how hot or humid it was or really anything much. And it felt pretty good.

My ribs ached quite a bit when going from walking to running, though. And I"m getting some plantar fasciitis. Both of these worry me for Woodstock. Hopefully between Aleve and stubbornness I'll be able to get across the finish line.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Week in review

Thoughts for the week-

Weight training makes hills a lot easier. 
Plantar fasciitis bites. 
It's best to go into a race with a plan. Even if it isn't an important race. Even if it's a bad plan.

The hills of highland rec are fun. It's a technical course, and never really seems to let up. And I've spent a lot of time in my own head there, thinking in everything from work gripes to the banality of evil. 

It's scary when it's hard to tell the difference. But I console myself that it's just the run getting in the way of clear thinking. Otherwise the introspection would tread dangerous ground. 

In any case, I've finished the first of three races, on the first of three consecutive weekends, at a distance of one third my next race. No, that wasn't planned. But it's kind of a beautiful pattern. And no, the third race isn't exactly a perfect multiple of three of the second. It's pretty close, though. More on that later, I hope. 

My biggest concern is that this plantar fasciitis doesn't get worse. So far, the lacrosse ball and  kenisotaping seems to be helping. Crossing fingers that more aggressive treatment won't be needed, and I'll be able to do my races. 

After my 16 at highland. I wanted 20, but wanted to TLC my heel more.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Week in review

I've had some really good weeks of running of late; 50-60 miles where I felt good, ran with great people, endured some tough weather without a problem. Bizzards that dumped 18" of snow, negative temps (-30 with wind chill), and that sort of thing.

This week, however, was not so great. What I discovered is that giving blood when trying to train hard for a marathon is a bad idea for me. I had a good weekend, took monday off. Gave blood on tuesday, and ran hard on wednesday. (13 miles, with half mile pick-ups and rest intervals x5). Thursday, at work, after finishing with a patient I kind of lost my balance, and have been feeling kind of off ever since.

It's not a great place to be. But I imagine it will pass with time. Still, I haven't run since wednesday, which means pretty much a wasted week. On the other hand, since I'm not really on any training plan besides "run more miles, some of them faster" and don't really have any time goals, I figure I'm okay.

I am kind of worried about the rather large amount of bone that seems to be growing on the back of my heel just lateral to my achilles tendon. But hopefully it'll go away...

Saturday, January 17, 2015

18 weeks to bayshore; I'm at roughly 25 miles per week running and three hours of mixed cross training- yoga, bike trainer and the like. If it were all running, it would be not unlike having 40 miles per week base, which isn't all that bad.

So, what changes am I going to make starting Monday? Not yet set in stone, but here are a few I'm playing with:

keeping track of food eaten, breaking down servings of grains, fruits, veggies, meats and the like.
being more organized about my training; catch as catch can is all well and good outside of training cycles, but I want to know what I can do when I'm really trying.
Getting to the gym to try longer runs. It's impossible to do them at tempo outside right now, and it may be something I can accomplish on a treadmill.

I'll have to see if I can make it work...

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Well, the year in running is taking shape. So far, I've signed up for

3/29 Ann Arbor Half
4/25 Let's Move Half
5/23 Bayshore Full
9/5 Labor Day 30K

~20 weeks to Bayshore. No real goals but to finish, and hopefully have a fun time. Quasi goals of a negative split, and maybe to run the final 10K faster than the first.

Time to start putting together a plan. I'm thinking it'll be based on hours of cardio, weight training 3 days/week, yoga 3 days/week.

We'll see how it goes...

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Ramp up the running, Achilles tendonitis rears its ugly head. I think this'll be an unserious spring season; taking it seriously starting off with an injury sounds like all sorts of stupid.

Probably means the blog will go back into hibernation. Oh well, such is life.

Monday, November 24, 2014

18 weeks to Ann Arbor marathon. Or possibly half marathon; I haven't quite decided yet. Whatever i choose to do, though, I've decided to give Jack Daniels' plan another try. Modified, of course, because it's insane.

After yesterday's 9 mile run and fencing practice, I decided to take it easy: 20 min on the bike and whatever yoga glow offered as their daily practice. It turned out to be a gratefulness meditation, which was timed for the holiday this week, I guess.

And I have a lot of things for which I should be grateful.
sore muscles
frustrating injuries
disappointing performances
hitting the wall
hitting the pit
hitting the abyss
overwhelming fatigue
upset stomachs
biting winter winds
and psychological trauma

... because in these things, I remember I am alive.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Hungerford Games

There are moments in your life when things fall into place for all the right reasons, where the stars align and the people you meet are exactly at exactly the right time for something wonderful to happen.

That's exactly how I feel about this year's Hungerford Games 50 mile, and part of the something wonderful was me to come in dead last in the race. And I couldn't be happier about it, and not just because of the saying DFL > DNF > DNS.

Serendipity #1: Rick, Andrea, Bill and Jan walked into the hotel at exactly the same time I did. I held the door for them.

I had a vague sense that we were probably going to be leaving at the same time, but I stopped by Running Lab and chatted and shopped, and I visited rest stops pretty frequently to stretch my legs, and I just let things happen. It worked out perfectly for me to join up with them for dinner, packet pick up, and a look at the course to see what it would be like.

Well, dinner left a little to be desired, but that happens. At least, I didn't pay for my choice nearly as much as I should have. No GI issues at all, and considering I chose barbecue, it may qualify as a minor miracle in itself.

Serendipity #2: As I got back from dinner and was walking in to the hotel, my running buddy/coworker Megan bumped into me. She was inspired, I guess, by my Woodstock 100 mile experience to see if this ultra marathon thing might be something fun. It turned out that she and her boyfriend Ian were on the same floor, one number up from me- though halfway down the hall. The hotel had a few... curious feature that made me think it was put together by a committee.

Serendipity #3: Megan and I started off the race slowly, and in the first few minutes met up with Cami, who seemed to want to run about our speed. We struck up a conversation and chatted though the usual preliminaries over the first few hours. It turned out that Cami's father, sister Jamie, and nephew Sam were there to support her, and this played a big role in me being able to finish the race.

It seemed, for whatever reason, when I drank the water at the aid stations I would feel sick. When I didn't drink their water, I didn't have a problem. But it was a high 70°s and a 50 mile, and that's a pretty tough combination to try to go through without any sort of fluids (I didn't even try the Heed; it upsets my stomach even when the water it's made from doesn't).

Jamie, though, was able to refill my bottles from water she had on hand when we met up, which was often enough to keep me from getting heat stroke; or even really suffering from more than mild dehydration. I stuck with Cami for dear life- not just because of the water, of course. Good conversation makes the miles fly by, even when they're tough, through sand, hilly and occasionally horrible.

The heat got rough, but we got through it. A tear in my shoe let in enough sand to build a sandcastle, but these things happen. My right achilles tendon began to act up, and my compensation probably caused a muscle in my left knee to freak out. I wasn't able to fully extend my knee for the last 15-20 miles of the race. All part of the game.

The sun went down, and neither one of us had a light. So we kind of finished the 30-45 min of the race by feel and starlight. The scariest moment was a slight rise about 20-30 feet before the finish line that neither of us saw; we both had to seriously work to keep our balance. Easier said than done after over 13 hours plowing through sand. But we crossed the finish line together (though I tried to be slightly behind I could be the official DFL).

A lot of things had to turn out to make this race the truly wonderful experience it was; the hard parts helped define the truly glorious. The weather, though hot, was wonderful. The course was absolutely beautiful, perfect timing for the fall colors; well marked out but with its own challenges. We had to walk much of the last loop, but it wasn't half so much as I walked at Woodstock. And, of course, the people who help you through.

I'll end with a picture of Cami and myself at the end of the race, after night had fallen (Megan was feeling strong; she finished 20 minutes before us).

Thursday, September 4, 2014

My first stamp: bit crude, like a child's first steps.

I'm okay with that.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Harry the Runaway Horse

So, remember how I said I can't wait to try this again? Umm....

In a way, this was a twofer. I knew of one very easy find at a local college on my way home from work; unfortunately, I think someone not looking for it found it. Such is the way of the Letterbox, I guess. It wasn't where it should have been. I noted it at atlasquest and moved on.

Hess Hathaway Park was only a couple of miles away, on also on my way home. Even better, it's a park I've been wanting to explore for a little while.

The clue was kind of a Dylanesque stream of consciousness story: Which I won't go into.  I can say that during my search I failed to see quite a few of the landmarks; perhaps because I'm unobservant, or the undergrowth hid them, or I started off in the wrong place and managed to blunder may way to the box through good fortune. All are possibilities, and all may be right. But I did manage to get some nice vistas...

Geese! Geese everywhere!

A field mentioned in the clue

A tree: if you zoom in, there's a branch with a 90 degree bend that looks like it could be an "h". Could this be "h" mentioned in the clue? Hint: the answer rhymes with "Poe"

And yet, given time and a bit of perseverance I find this:

And Stamp my stamp:

This time getting the date right. If you look closely, I'm also trying my hand at being a bit more creative in my stamping. I can only get better, right?

Another fun adventure, exploring someplace new!

Things I learned:
-I really should have used bug spray. again. So maybe I should put "demonstrated not to have learned" as a section
-Things can change a lot; even relatively obvious landmarks can change, be hidden, or be less obvious given the season.
-even though I went over a mile out of my way, it was a lot of fun exploring a new place.

Things I'm looking forward to:
-A couple of three part boxes at parks I'm pretty eager to explore
- coming up with a slightly see simple stamp
- remembering to use bug spray

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Letterboxing virgin

Shopping, hiking through the forest, and christmas, all rolled into one!

My first letterboxing adventure consisted of a shopping trip for a stamp and ink, journal and pen. It was made possible by one of my favorite philosophies of life: "Anything worth doing is worth doing badly." If I wait till I'm perfect at something before I try it, I'm going to wind up never trying anything new.

So I found myself on those well worn Pontiac Rec trails; this time instead of running them I was figuring out the clues. To be fair, most of them I could see in my mind's eye as I read them:

"We're going on a hike today! Start at the picnic area, go to the furthest corner and park. Don't use the bicycle trail you will see from the parking lot. Instead, follow the sidewalk toward the picnic area. When the sidewalk ends, cross the sea of tables and grills, and you will find the hiking trail. Observe the description of the hiking trail markers. Pass 1 of the described markers.... be very careful approaching the second one.... and look both ways as you approach the third one. The threat is smaller here, but it's also quieter. Pass one more hiking trail sign without the designated marker. See the big hill? You can thank me now - i won't make you climb it. Instead, continue up what looks like a dry creek bed. You will see a very large, obvious tree on your right - that's not it. A little further, see one with a large wound on the side. Here is where our treasure hiker, loaded down for a much longer walk, decided to rest. 4/2013: Then he got back up again, and continued up the hill. At the intersection, he turned right and walked a short way to an out-of-place looking evergreen shrub. He decided that was a safer place to rest, and there he remains."

Hiking down the trail:

Some of my favorite country, though some hunters don't seem to like the idea much:

I found both the first big tree and the wounded tree that was the box's first resting place. I think I had noticed them prior to this trip:

But I followed the directions to the intersection to turn right. And wandered down the path, completely failing to spot any evergreen bushes on the side of the path.

I turned around and walked more slowly. Gave blood to mosquitoes and the occasional biting fly. Turned around again at the intersection and walked yet more slowly. Aha! A evergreen bush looking out of place. I poke around a bit, cursing at the thorny undergrowth which wanted it's donation of blood too. I resolved to bring gloves if the clues ever mention undergrowth. No letterbox. I notice that there's more evergreen a few feet away poke around more, this time with a stick.

No dice.

I think to myself: should I wait a few days till winter comes and kills off all the regular plants to try this one again? I wander dejectedly up and down the trail again hoping to spot another evergreen bush. On my fourth or fifth pass, I see a bush that looks much better positioned than the first I searched through. Trying not to be too obvious or get my hopes up too high, I look through the undergrowth and see the plastic box.

I reach with trembling fingers, pop open the lid and hesitate, wanting to savor the moment. So I grab my phone and take a pic:

And remove the lid. Just like a kid during Christmas; really, more anticipation than I've had from Christmas in a long while, *because* I had to get bitten, scratched and frustrated trying to find it.

I find the logbook and add my stamp (deciding not to show the letterbox stamp. If you want to see it, my advice is to go find it! :)

Sadly, messing up the date. :P It's a complicated process when you've never done it before, and I really need to learn my way around an ink pad and stamp a little better. Oh well, such is life.

So Things I Learned:
- I need a better bag for things like food and water. I started off hungry, and it only got worse as I was trying to find the letterbox.
- I really should have put on some bug spray
- gloves and a long sleeved t-shirt would've help me figure out that the first bush I poked around was the wrong one a bit more quickly.

Things I look forward to:
-Finding letterboxes in more unfamiliar territory
-getting more proficient and possibly making my own stamp
-dreaming up my own letterboxes to place at Pontiac and Highland Rec.

I can't wait to try this again! :)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Woodstock 2013

The race started at 4 PM Friday, and would take up the next 29 hours and 10 minutes of my life. During it I would experience chafing on a level I didn't know possible, nearly fall asleep standing up leaning against a tree while having a pee, and feel like someone used my lower body as a piƱata at a party for ill tempered mafia goons.

There were moments of glory, too. When the first dose of Aleve kicked in. When the sun started to lighten the sky through the canopy of trees. When my pacers picked me up and handed me off, and I realized that I wouldn't need to be as clued in and could focus on moving my left foot in front of my right.

And of course, that moment when I crossed the finish line and realized that I was able to do something that I'd been dreaming of for hours and miles- collapse like a puppet with it's strings cut.

Quick executive summary:
Woodstock 2013
Distance 100 miles
Time 29:09:26, pace 17:29/mile
10 AG, 69 Gender 88 OA

Let's talk about pain.
I mentioned chafing; it's something that I didn't experience at all during my training, so it was hard to address intelligently. I didn't. Pretty much just ignored it and hoped it would go away.

It didn't. 'Nuff said.

I had the weird experience of feeling like muscle on both sides of my rib cage were slowly being pulled off. I thought it mostly likely a muscle called serratus anterior, but it might have been lats. Anyway, It was a constant thing, too, like a 1st or 2nd degree burn. Annoying, but not really all that bad. It only hurt when I was breathing in or out.

The one pain that I thought might be enough to end my race was in my hip flexors. For half of my third loop I felt pretty intense pain when I brought my legs forward. Thankfully, it was a lot worse on my left than my right, so i was able to go up steps forwards instead of sideways- though I did that a few times, too. This is the pain that made me do my part to keep the maker of Aleve in business. I didn't take more than the recommended dosage in 24 hours, but it was a near thing. And remember, my race took longer than a day. :)

My poor little toe on my right foot was rubbed raw, but I almost saw that coming. That'll teach the little piggy to go "wee, wee, wee" all the way home. Weeing causes blisters if not done at the proper time. And the peroneal (fibular) muscles on the outside of my lower left leg are still in spasm. I'm currently using KT tape on it, and it seems to be helping a lot.

Finally, during my last loop, I felt electric jolts through my lower body at odd intervals, like someone flipping a switch to wake me up. I was seriously worried that it would turn into a muscular thing and my legs would stop and refuse to start again. The most intense shock was about 20 feet in front of the finish line and just about dropped me. That would have been embarrassing. But I probably could have crawled through in the time left. I think.

I was privileged to sample as many different flavors of pain during my race as when I hit Plum Market's cheese counter and sample the various kinds of cheese. Some mild, some sharp, some subtle and insidious, other brash and forthright. Some as multi-faceted as a gemstone.

Perhaps that will be my contribution to science: At work we use three or four different scales to help us understand how patients experience pain. I doubt anyone has ever made up a "cheese" pain scale. But it makes a weird sort of sense. Bree would be soft and mild and nice on a cracker. Gouda would be smoky and complex, Blue would be intense... anyway, I digress. Sorry about that.

I do remember coming in to lap 5, and mentioning to my friend Jenna and her husband Steve about it. I think one of them asked: "How do you feel?" I believe I answered "I feel a symphony of pain. And it is... exquisite." I'd been thinking about how I'd been feeling for a while; it was nice to be able to express it. Many thanks to Jenna and Steve for the straight line! :)

I was lucky enough to meet and run with far too many wonderful people to be able to do them any justice in this race report, but I'll give it a whirl.

My Pacers, Arin and Katy, were two of the most helpful, encouraging, and all around awesome folk with whom I was lucky enough to spend five to six hours of race time. They kept me going when I didn't want to, and not only helped me get through my fifth and sixth laps, but also to those laps. I had pacers lined up, and I didn't want to disappoint them by not running when they had made the effort and cleared away the time to help me.

Ken, a RUT friend and all around great guy, was at the middle aid station 11 of the 12 times I went through, always encouraging and giving helpful advice that I actually tried to absorb with the 1.5 synapses I still had firing. I always got a lift coming in to aid station- the volunteers were awesome everywhere, but particularly there. And I got watermelon! Yum. It was a spiritual experience.

There were a great many people I got to run with during the race- Sandra, Andrea, Lori and their pacers, Rick from lap two, who told such interesting stories about ultras he'd done in the past, Martin, Ben, Caroline- the list goes on, and many of the names and faces blur due to fatigue and distance. All I do know is that I couldn't have done it without the people around me.

The aftermath was even more of a blur than much of the race. I remember Melissa and John, two friends from the West Bloomfield Running Fit group being sky high from their first 50 mile, and being happy and proud that I was a part of their experience. Being fed by Jenna and Steve, and being convinced that a shower was a really good idea. It was, but fatigue and pain nearly made it impossible. I remember staggering around and Jenna saying that I was walking like one of her spinal cord injury patients, and being helped back to my tent like I'd had a few two many...

I remember waking up in the morning and trying to remember how to get up, and not really being sure that I wanted to. But also sure that my bladder would burst and not really wanting that, either.

It was an amazing experience. And I'm not ruling out doing another. Just... not anytime too soon. I think my legs could use a rest for a bit. My recovery is going well, so far. Not sure when I'll run again; hopefully in the next few days. But I'm not going to push it. I did a months worth of pushing already this week.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Hidden forest trail run

There's a fine line between running had enough to make me feel sick, and running hard enough to make me sick.

I tread that line fairly closely today, running with a friend who was kind enough to pace me through the race. I did reflect on an upset GI system, and how it mess things up. such is the stuff of life.

Quick vignettes:
Chatted with a fellow who had a IM tattoo. Turned out to be my junior high assistant principle's son. Small world.

Chatted with the lady to parked next to me, who was also sporting something Iron man; this time a hat. I was seeing a trend.

This year, I ran roughly 45 seconds faster than five years ago. I find that curious.

20 degrees warmer today than yesterday. I may have done better with yesterday's weather.

I need speedwork. I'm thinking treadmill. Maybe some strength training, too.

Post run meal at the woodshop in clarkston was a spiritual experience. And I can't afford to become a life to eat person. I like being eat to live. It helps not having either the confidence or inclination to prepare good food.

Good friends after the race, too, are a wonderful thing.

Tomorrow, day of rest I think. I'll figure out the rest of the week as it comes.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Woodstock 2012 Babel

When you start a story, the words you use have meaning. If I say "Once upon a time...", I'm probably doing a children's fairy tale. If I say "No shit, there I was..." it should be a war story. And if I begin "It was a dark and stormy night..." it should be a mystery.

Unless, of course, it really was a dark and stormy night.

Woodstock 2011 was a bit of a mess. Rain for three days made the the race a pretty unique experience. The mud was unbelievable in some areas, comical in others, and unrunnable for a lot of the course. Led to a lot of great stories, though.

This friday, as the sun went down and drops started to fall, I thought: "uh-oh"
When the wind howled and the rain blew sideways, I thought about the 100K and 100 Milers out of the course, I continued to think... "uh-oh"
And as I failed to fall asleep because of the occasional plink of rain on my face through the 12 year old seams on my tent, the slightly more coherent yet no less valid thought sparked in my brain "Tomorrow is going to be interesting."

I do enjoy camping at an event. There's nothing quite like rolling out of a sleeping bag 30 minutes before a race to change, get stuff together and wander to the starting line. Saves on a lot of early morning driving frustration.

I started the race wishing luck to a few ultra newbies; Christian and Carolyn from the west side of the state, Becky with whom I ran most of the race, and Andy a quasi coworker from my days at Running Fit. We played tag during the race; occasionally fading and running with others or catching up when feeling good.

During the race I also got to hang with some of the best ultra runners I know: Ken the "green hornet", Martin S, Kevin G and others, all of whom have running CVs as impressive as the dedication it takes to run multiple 100 mile races.

The race itself, for me, went quite well. I planned to run it easy, if not necessarily smart. I think I succeeded in that. I wanted to enjoy the whole experience, and I think I did pretty well on that front, too.

I recited some poetry: yes, the obligatory Frost poem, but also Kipling's "Hymn of breaking strain" which is my long running anthem. No songs, though. Thankfully, this race was ear-worm free.

To me, there was something vaguely surreal about the race. Last year I stopped wearing my garmin regularly, and this year I stopped wearing it for most of my races. If I'm running for fun, I don't want to know my heart race, or pace, or time. And I *really* didnt' want to know how much further I had to go. Ignorance is bliss.

I still get the energy from the race, but it kind of removes the pressure. Makes for an interesting experience... a long hike in the woods with people cheering you on, giving you food, and a peace symbol medal at the end to go with the sense of accomplishment.

I'm very glad I got to see so many wonderful running friends this weekend; for those who were there and I missed, perhaps next time! For those who weren't, perhaps next year!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A tale of two races

Seven years ago I started my racing adventure when I ran the Crim 10 miler. It was not an overwhelming success.

Big races aren't really my thing. I mean, they're fun if you're there with people, and crowd support can get you through some tough times, but I'm much more of happy camper on the trails, and you just can't fit thousands of people comfortably doing that sort of race.

But I digress. I didn't discover my passion for trails until '06, and really I should be talking about this weekend, not history.

This Saturday was the 35th running of the Crim; my 6th. And though this was the first time I didn't score a course person best, I was very happy with the way it went.

I had a good time and didn't blow up.
My pace for the first three miles and the last three was almost exactly the same (7:40 vs 7:41)
I got to meet some daily mile friends.

This was Saturday. On Sunday, I ran the Merrell Down and Dirty Mud run. Sadly, there was really very little running through mud.

As I parked and started wandering around looking for packet pickup, I started chatting up a women who mentioned doing Tough Mudder. It turned out she had run the Crim the day before, and has almost exactly the same 10 Mile PR as I.

It also turned out that she ran the Woodstock half last year, and that she ran a good chunk of it with someone who I had trained for that race. Small world.

I started to pick up a few more more friends (One was the daily mile friend I met at the crim the day before; two were from my west bloomfield running group) we all sort of figured we were all at about the same speed. We hung together for a bit during the race, but once we got the a balance obstacle I was toast. My balance is kind of the suck.

Something to work on, I guess.

Anyway, the obstacles were fun for the most part, although the variety was a lot better at Warrior Dash. The hills were a lot more fun during this race, though. I think I know where to go for hill training.

On the other hand, after the race (where I believe I came in last of five of us) we agreed to think about doing the Michigan Tough Mudder next year. And I'm getting pretty excited about pursuing the possibility!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad