Saturday, February 25, 2012

Your moment of zen

I had a moment on my run this afternoon when I thought to myself, "shoot, I forgot to do the bit through the woods."  I hate it when I set out to do a certain distance and end up doing less, so I almost turned around, until I remembered that I had, in fact, covered that stretch.

I've been known to zone out sometimes while running and forget entire portions, like my mind has decided my body can go on cruise control, and I guess today was one of those days.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Run Lola Run

We watched Run Lola Run in one of my classes this past week.  Watching Franka Potente charge around Berlin makes me want to crank my next run up to ludicrous speed.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The difference between going for the occasional run and training for a marathon is that while training for a marathon, runs can't be skipped.  When it's cold and gross out, it takes an enormous amount of willpower to get outside and get the job done for the day.  Sometimes I lack that willpower, but usually I make it.  Despite the crap weather today, I made five miles happen.  If anything, I'd like to think I'm building character by submitting myself to such conditions.

I've noticed, though, that some of the winter teams at my school use the hallways for their workouts.  Sometimes I leave my classroom in the afternoon only to be bowled over by the track team doing windsprints.

During my two seasons of winter track in high school, I recall doing exactly one workout in the hallways, and that was when there was a foot of snow outside.

Running in the cold darkness after a long day of work is hardly enviable, but it does help me focus. In the short term, I have to focus on the steps directly in front of me, lest I trip over a root or crack in the sidewalk and plant my face on the ground.  In the long term, the extreme discomfort helps me focus on the payoff that I envision down the road when I'm running the Boston Marathon.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Movie Monday XXXI

In honor of St. Valentine's Day tomorrow, this week's video features a man proposing during the Boston Marathon. Watch as Mr. Livestrong Muscle Man completely fakes out his girlfriend and family, making them think he's about to keel over and vomit, only to end up on one knee with the ring in hand.  All about the theatrics.

Love is in the air, folks.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

12 miles

Notes on today's long run:

  • 1:45:21, roughly 12 miles.  The longest run I've ever done in the month of February.  Part of me is grateful we haven't had much snow this winter, which has allowed me to be more successful with running, but part of me is also longing for a good old fashioned snow day.
  • It was 23 degrees when I set out, and I spent the whole time bracing myself against gusts of wind.  It was pretty heinous.
  • Stopping to relieve myself in such conditions is, uh, distinctly uncomfortable.
  • My mittens work too well.  I have a pair of Moss Brown and Co. Gortex mittens that my uncle gave me, but even in sub freezing temperatures, I found my hands sweating profusely until puddles of sweat formed in the tips.  That's gross.
  • I started out the run feeling sluggish and weak, but about halfway through I started to feel strong and confident.  I love it when that happens.
  • Boston, I'm coming for you.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Flashback Friday III

Part of the fun of being a twenty-something is doing all sorts of strange things to earn a buck. Eventually you settle into a career and begin to forgo the spontaneity, indecision and uncertainty that are hallmarks of your young working life, but until then, you might end up looking like this:

June 2006

It's a fact that in the summer of 2006, I earned money to dress like this every two weeks.  I was a "village chief" at Camp Ockanickon, capping off a total of six summers and a trove of unforgettable memories.  Each session ended with what we called the Blue Feather Ceremony in which one or two boys from each village would receive the blue feather, camp's highest honor.  Shortly after I finished my time at camp, I got a blue feather tatooed on my right triceps - such is my love for this camp.

Knowing my time at camp was coming to an end, I spent my final year there trying to take advantage of it all, which mostly took the form of running its many trails.  With nearly 600 acres and a spiderweb of trails strung about its landscape, camp is a runner's paradise.  I trained for the first marathon of my life on those trails, usually at dusk, often setting out around the lake and trying to make it all the way around before darkness enveloped the woods.  It was during these runs at dusk that I often encountered several deer.  Two or three off in the distance, eating calmly, raising their heads to watch me bound past, sometimes breaking into a run themselves.

I continued running into the summer, despite the heat and prevalent exhaustion, so much that when it came time for the first Blue Feather Ceremony of the summer, my village chief name became obvious.  Though we took pains to be historically accurate and culturally sensitive to the area's rich Native American history, it didn't stop the village chiefs each year from assuming pseudo Indian-sounding names for this ceremony.  I took my inspiration both from Dances with Wolves and the countless deer I'd seen over the past year.

Looking out over an audience of impressionable young boys, eagerly awaiting the announcement of each village's blue feather recipient as the firelight danced weakly on the trees around them, I bellowed into the darkness, "I, Chief Runs with Deer, declare the Mohawk Tribe, of the Ockanickon Nation, to be in council."

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


At some point the general populace at my high school discovered that I can do a backflip.

2007, 2010, 2011

Several students have started a campaign to get me to do one in school, and there is one student who has literally never said any other word to me this year other than "backflip."  I don't even know this kid's name, but the joke has progressed to the point that, when we run into each other in the hallway, we now have entire conversations that consist of one word.

Student: Backflip.
Me: Backflip?
Student: BACKFLIP!
Me: Backfliiiiiiiiiip.
Student: Back.  Flip.
Me: Backfffffffflip.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Movie Monday XXX

Here's a commercial for the new Honda CR-V.  Why post a commercial on my blog for which I'll receive no compensation?  For starters, it features a woman who just completed her first marathon. Second, it features music by one of my favorite bands on the planet, Wakey! Wakey! (though you can only hear about three seconds' worth at the end.)

For a better idea of what Wakey! Wakey! sounds like, click here.

For a better idea of what the woman in the commercial is feeling, run a marathon.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

10 miles

As my weekly long run steadily creeps back up into high mileage, it can only mean one thing: time to break out the energy gels and body glide.

I'm a fan of the body glide, because it stops chafing and it's less messy than vaseline, but if you've read this post, then you know how I feel about energy gels.

Here's me finishing one before my run today:

Gu Octane: not for the faint of heart

Normally I go for Powergels, but I had a Gu Octane lying around from a previous race, so I thought I would finally use it.  It's not so much the taste that gets me, but rather the consistency.  Trying to choke down a thick sludge is an awful way to start a run.

I ran for 1:31:21 this morning, roughly ten miles.  Because I don't own a Garmin, I usually base my long runs on time.  Next week I'll go for 1:45, then 2:00, all the way up to 3+ hours.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Just another normal day

Stevie and I met last spring when I directed her in a one act play at Haddonfield Plays and Players. We started dating last September.

Me: What if I just kept directing you, even though the play is over?
Stevie: What do you mean?
Me: Like if you're doing work on the computer or something and I come along and say, "Ok, that was good Stevie, very nice character development there.  Next time, I'd really like to see your motivation come through, and really hit those keys like you mean it."
Stevie: ...
Me: I love you.
Stevie: [sigh] I love you, too.
Me: Ok, great job.  Take five and then we'll do notes.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

On books

The last three books I've read

I was reading the Norman Mailer book The Naked and the Dead in study hall the other day when a student asked me what I was reading.  I showed her the title.

Student: Like the band, The Naked and Famous?
Me: Not quite.

Let's talk about books for a minute, because I love them as much as I love running.  With so much to choose from in this world in which one can invest one's love, why books? (why running, you might also ask)

  • "He slept little and he slept poorly.  He dreamt of walking in a flowering wood where birds flew before them he and the child and the sky was aching blue but he was learning how to wake himself from just such siren worlds.  Lying there in the dark with the uncanny taste of a peach from some phantom orchard fading in his mouth.  He thought if he lived long enough the world at last would all be lost.  Like the dying world the newly blind inhabit, all of it slowly fading from memory."  The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  • "'I... I...'  Albinus drew a deep breath which seemed to make his chest swell into some vast monstrous globe full of a whirling roar which presently he let out, lustily, steadily... And when it had all gone, he started filling up again."  The main character discovering he is blind in Laughter in the Dark by Vladimir Nabokov

I should clarify that I'm not some kind of academic snob.  I enjoy a zany episode of Family Guy just like the rest of America, but just like I try to push myself in running by chasing ever elusive PR's, I try to push my mind a little above the lowest common denominator as well.

If you don't feel any kind of chill from the preceding passages and the way words can be strung together so creatively to elicit such strong emotions in people, then that's ok.  We can always just talk about running.

That is all.
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