Monday, September 30, 2013

Movie Monday: Don Jon

Viva lá Rest Day!

Took myself to the movies this afternoon, as per my new rest day tradition, and saw Don Jon, the movie in which Joseph Gordon-Levitt has to choose between porn and Scarlett Johansson, and somehow chooses Julianne Moore in the end.

I'll watch Joseph Gordon-Levitt in just about anything.  This was a great film for his first time as writer/director/star, and it definitely had its moments, but overall nothing to write home about.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

20 mile Sunday

I ran 20 miles this morning.

Some notes:

  • I ate homemade veggie pizza last night and was in bed by 10:30pm.
  • Up by 8.  Finally left on the run by 10.
  • Weather was near perfect.  A little more wind and a little hotter than I would have liked, but really can't complain.
  • I was still feeling good at mile 10... 11.. 12... 13... I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, wondering when I was going to start feeling terrible (this was a 20 miler, after all), but the feeling never came.  I flagged a little around mile 18, but picked it back up again in the last mile and was easily running sub 8's.  I could have easily run another 6.2.
  • No pain at all during or after the run (as I knock on every wooden surface around me).  I was definitely tired, but no random aches or strains anywhere.
  • Towards the end I started pretending there was a sports commentator narrating the final mile of my run.
  • Overall, I ran 20 miles today like it ain't no thang.

This run caps off the biggest week of mileage of my life - 73 miles in one week - and my body is pain free and not overly fatigued.  This run has given me great confidence that my training is going well, I'm eating the right things and listening to my body.  

Boston is on the horizon.

World record in Berlin

The men are inching ever closer to the 2 hour mark in the marathon, as yet another world record was set this morning at the Berlin Marathon by Wilson Kipsang of Kenya in 2:03:23.  He beat his countryman Patrick Makau's time of 2:03:38 set two years ago at this very marathon.

That's a 4:43 minute per mile pace.  I don't think I could run a single mile in 4:43, let alone 26.2.  It is simply amazing to even think about.

Sadly, Kipsang's glory moment was ruined by some dumb asshole who jumped ahead of him and had the audacity to break the tape seconds before Kipsang.

I am working my ass off to achieve this goal of qualifying for Boston.  It's all for that one moment when I cross the finish line.  The glory moment.  I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like to run a world record, and to have that glory moment stolen.  According to the Berliner Zeitung, the guy wore the same yellow shirt when he ran across the field during a Bundesliga soccer game a few months ago.  The yellow shirt promotes a porn website he runs.

I can't even make this stuff up.

Good thing I speak fluent German, too, because there wasn't a single mention of the marathon in the New York Times this morning (a brief article has since been posted), and over at CNN, they made no mention of the guy in yellow but did manage to post the wrong picture of Kipsang:

I guess it's kind of ironic that the next article is titled "Biggest Bloopers of 2013."

At any rate, here is a video of the last moments of the marathon (which also uses the wrong picture):

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Saturday 10 miler

Post 10 mile chocolate milk in my "I really like NJ" pint glass.

10 miles this morning.  Gorgeous morning for a run.  Started out slow but finished the last couple of miles at a sub 7 pace.

Around mile 7 a kid started running with me.  I thought he might have been one of my students, but turns out he was just some obnoxious teenager who wanted to plug his yard sale up the street.  I looked at him, incredulous, and nearly yelled, "I'm in the middle of a 10 mile run!  I don't have the time or the money to stop at your stupid yard sale!"

Then I made the following breakfast:

Three scrambled eggs with fresh rosemary, ham steak, and cheese.  Toasted bagel with garden vegetable cream cheese, diced tomato and pepper.  Homemade juice with oranges, apples, carrots, celery and ginger.

I was hungry again 10 minutes later.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The journey

The thing about such a drastic increase in physical effort is that it not only strains the body, but the mind. I'm less than a month into school, less than two weeks into phase two of training, and generally I'm keeping it together.  But there are moments.  Cracks in the armor.  Weakness.  Mind games brought about by so much time spent alone running.

Wednesday was rough.  Yesterday I was tired during my track speed workout, but I made it to the end. Made a gorgeous homemade pizza for dinner.  Then, just as I was finishing up grading some quizzes and getting ready to go to bed, I randomly decided to watch this video for the thousandth time:

And I nearly lost it.  Tears down my face and a stuffed up nose.  And I know that, as a guy, my culture doesn't encourage crying, much less admitting to it so publicly, but there you have it.  The video resonates with me so deeply, and the reaction is just a small part of the process I'm going through, and I feel compelled to share the highs and lows of this process for those who may be interested.  The pressure I've put on myself is palpable and sometimes it isn't pretty.

Tonight at a coffeeshop I heard a cover of "A Better Son/Daughter" by Rilo Kiley.  Loved the following lyrics, not so much sung as yelled in defiance of the hurdles we face in life:

"And sometimes when you're on,
You're really fucking ON.
And your friends they sing along and they love you.
But the lows are so extreme
That the good seems fucking cheap
And it teases you for weeks in its absence.
But you'll fight and you'll make it through,
You'll fake it if you have to,
And you'll show up for work with a smile.
And you'll be better and you'll be smarter
And more grown up
And a better daughter, or son and a real good friend.
And you'll be awake, you'll be alert,
You'll be positive though it hurts,
And laugh and embrace all your friends.
You'll be a real good listener,
You'll be honest, you'll be brave
You'll be handsome, and you'll be beautiful.
And you'll be happy."

Here's a link to the song on YouTube.

I'm going to embrace the melodrama and embrace the experience last night and the song tonight as reminders that I'm on a journey.  It's a journey of faith and transformation, as much a product of my own hard work as it is of those closest who support me.

I'm still tired, emotionally and physically, but the journey marches on...

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Long Wednesday

Let me take you through today:

5am: wake up.

5:15: out the door for a five miler.

6:00: shower, get dressed, cook breakfast.

6:50: ride bike to school.

7:45 - 10:58: first four classes.

10:58: prep period and lunch.

12:15 - 1:44: last two classes.

1:44 - 3:00: prep period and end-of-day work.

3:00: get changed, realize I forgot my Garmin.  Bike home.

3:30: leave for 12 mile run.

5:30: home and shower.

6:00: dinner (black bean soup that Stevie made).

Post 12 miler, waiting for soup to finish as my stomach eats itself.

6:30: bike back to school and change back into work clothes.

7:00: back to school night begins.

9:15: back to school night ends.  Bike home.

9:30: brush teeth, load dishwasher, fold laundry and set out clothes for next day.

10:00: bedtime.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Movie Monday: Prisoners

One thing you may not know about me is that I love movies.  Freaking love them.  I read movie magazines and movie reviews, and on a bright and hot summer day, there is nothing better to me than sitting in a cavernous theater pumped with cold air while my senses are assaulted by sugary soda and marauding robots.  I particularly love big dumb summer blockbusters and ridiculous comedies, but I'll also gladly watch the occasional thriller, drama or what-have-you.

I've decided that since my rest day is on Monday, every Monday after school I'm going to take myself to the movies as a reward for a long week of running.  Today I opted for this movie:

Fantastic movie.  Highly recommend it.  If you can get past Wolverine yelling the whole movie, you'll find it deep, moody, thought-provoking and intense.  It's bound to gain some Oscar love.

Here's the thing about my movie habit, though: I nearly always have to bring movie snacks with me.  This usually means the aforementioned bucket of soda, as well as some kind of candy.  I never go in for the popcorn.  Needless to say, movie snacks and marathon training don't go together well.  So I consider it a personal triumph to have sat through the movie this afternoon with nary a calorie to accompany me.

My dedication knows no bounds.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

16 mile Sunday

Attempted 16 miles this morning and ended up doing 16.6.  Thought about doing the last .4 to finish with 17, but I was so thirsty by the end I couldn't imagine going one more step without something to drink.  It was still a good run, though.  Despite the thirst issue I felt strong most of the run.  I can feel the difference in my body from where I was this past summer, and my confidence is building.

Saw this quote on another runner's blog today:

The race always hurts, luv. Expect it to hurt. You don’t train so that it doesn’t hurt. You train so you can tolerate it.
— Mark Rowland, Lauren Fleshman’s coach

Stevie joined me for the first 8 mile lap on her bike, and afterwards ran 8 miles on her own.  Stevie isn't training for anything at the moment but has nevertheless been steadily increasing her mileage lately into uncharted territory.

Stevie: (astonished at how sore/tired/hungry she was) I have a newfound respect for what you put yourself through each week.

Me: you'll get used to it.

We ran out of bandaids awhile ago and I've been using duct tape ever since.  I figure taking them off after each run will toughen me up.

Also, that's what I look like without a shirt on now.  It's been one week since I last had any alcohol and two weeks since my last soda.  When I weighed myself yesterday I was down to 138.  That's 8 pounds down from July when we got back from the honeymoon.  Hopefully I'll be down another 8 pounds by November 17th.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Running at camp II

I tried, once again, to join Above and Beyond Fitness's training session this morning over in Medford.  Two weeks ago I didn't find them until their workout was almost over and I had already run 9 miles.  Today I found them in time but was informed their weekly Saturday workouts had been canceled because they're too far behind in setting up the obstacles.  Instead, I was invited to join them on their walk through (to show the volunteers the course).  I could do all the obstacles and would still get just as good a workout.

A - no I wouldn't.
B - wasn't I just told not all of the obstacles were completed?

I declined, told them I'd see them at the race in two weeks, and set off on an 8 mile run by myself.  I hadn't brought my Garmin with me so I had to run by time, like in the good old days.  Ran an hour and 11 minutes for good measure.

The bonus of running at camp, aside from running in the woods, is that I can go in the lake afterwards.  I've had a nagging pain in my calf the last few days, so I took off my shoes and went into the lake up to my knees.  Does a body good.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Going the distance and then some

Track speed session yesterday.  Part of that workout called for 4x400, but I ended up doing 6.

8 miles on the agenda today.  Ended up doing 10.

It's a testament to how good my body is feeling that I'll go beyond what is called for just because I feel like it.  Even after a full day of teaching.

I don't think getting in the miles will be a problem.  It's forcing myself to go faster than is comfortable that will always be my biggest challenge.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


The coffee shop downstairs likes to host local artists' work.  Here is a selection of this month's artist:

Well, I'm all done my Christmas shopping.  How about you?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Having fun while racing

Some pictures from Sunday's race:

Sometimes racing can be effortlessly fun, but oftentimes, under the stress of attempting a PR, it loses its appeal.  Yes, there is something to be said for pushing yourself and giving it your all, but I know I need to remind myself that this is a hobby and try to have some fun with it.

That said, I have a new goal in races.  In addition to setting more PR's, I am going to try to photobomb as many people's photos as possible.

Fellow runners, you have been warned.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Phase 2

Phase 2 is about to begin...

The Philadelphia Marathon is exactly two months away from tomorrow, and I am now into the portion of training I like to call phase 2.

Phase 1 concentrated on preparation for the half marathon yesterday and consisted of a gradual reintroduction to a training lifestyle: early morning runs, increased mileage, and a better diet.  It also included a lot of very sweaty runs due to the summer heat and humidity (and an awful lot of complaining about said heat and humidity).  Runs topped out at 15 miles.  There were a lot of speed sessions on my school's track.

Phase 2 will consist of runs in cooler temps now that fall is here.  The mileage will increase dramatically (including the Baltimore Marathon as a training run next month), and while I will maintain the track sessions, I also want to add more distance runs at race pace.  I will also completely overhaul my diet in an attempt to make myself leaner and lighter.  Not that my diet is that terrible to begin with, especially compared to the average American's, but I still eat my share of junk, and am certainly no stranger to a cold draft beer.  For the next two months I won't drink any soda or alcohol, and will attempt to cook at home as often as possible.

Get excited people.  I'm on my way to Boston with a brief layover in Philly...

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Philly Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon Race Report

Made homemade vegetarian lasagne last night for two friends of ours, with garlic bread and salad.  We ate at 6, and while they went to a production of Les Mis, I stayed at home to read and go to sleep by 10pm.

Up at 5:45am, out the door with Stevie by 6:30 and on the train into Philly by 6:45.  We arrived at the starting area around 7:25 and immediately got in line for the Porta Potties.  We then stood in line for a solid 40 minutes.  It was truly the worst wait time I've ever experienced at a race, and because of it I missed the start of the race.  I was supposed to start in the first corral, but by the time I jumped into the sea of people, it was the 8th corral's turn to start.  

I know from experience how important it is to start in the proper corral.  I was kind of freaking out about it while in line, and for good reason.  Once running, I constantly had to dart right or left to get around people, and frequently had to slow down for several seconds while I waited for a space to open up so I could move around.  When I tried to pass people and it was going to be a tight squeeze, I tried to alert them by yelling "on the right/left," but almost every one of them had headphones in and couldn't hear me.

The first five miles were extremely frustrating. 

Once we hit Kelly Drive, there was a bit more room to navigate, but the dodging and weaving didn't stop entirely.  I'm proud that I never threw in the towel but kept trying to give it my all.  Because of this, I was still knocking out sub 7 minute miles towards the end and realized I still had a chance at a PR, but it would be close.

I wanted that PR badly, but as you can see I fell short by about a minute.  I did, however, achieve my secondary goal, which was to come in under 1:32:30.  Double that time for the full marathon is a BQ, so coming in under that time was a good confidence booster.  (Runner's World's race time predictor puts me at a 3:08:37 given today's time, though)

Overall I'm happy with today's performance.  I wish I could have bagged the PR I feel I deserved, but still feel I ran the best race possible given the circumstances.  I now have two months and two days to train harder and return to Philly to kick ass in November.  Stevie has already started recruiting friends for a full support crew, which excites me greatly because having people I know and love out there makes such a difference.

Keep reading, folks.  The next two months are going to get wild, I promise you that.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Philly Rock 'n' Roll Expo

Headed over to Philly this morning for the Rock and Roll Half Marathon Expo.  Listened to John "the Penguin" Bingham speak, which was more of a group conversation between him and the few runners in the audience.  While we spoke, he said two things that resonated with me.

He spoke about amateur runners like us that tend to stress more about time, whereas the elite racers are concerned with racing each other and simply running as fast as they can.  This sounds pretty similar, but is the difference between racing based on how you feel, and racing based on what it says on your watch.  This is pretty much how I race every 5k, but have yet to do so in longer distances.

He took the time to ask each of us what we were concerned about tomorrow, and I mentioned that while I would like to PR, I am using the race as a gauge for my training for Boston.  He encouraged me to do just that and not stress over the PR.  If I don't PR, or I don't do well at all, it's just one stepping stone in the path to the BQ, and simply means I need to make adjustments.  This does help relieve the pressure of trying to PR, but what I didn't mention is that I really need a good race as a morale booster for the rest of my training.

The rest of the expo was the usual slew of free samples and crap for sale.  And this:

I regret nothing.

Say what you will about the Rock and Roll racing series, its exorbitant fees or its penchant for swallowing up beloved local races, but they sure know how to make an expo fun.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Date night in Ocean City

After work today I drove down to Ocean City to meet Stevie on the beach where she'd spent the day surfing. While she finished up I went on a 5 mile sunset run along the beach and boardwalk.

What a contrast to the shore that I'm so familiar with from just a few weeks ago.  The heat and crowds are gone, resulting in a more relaxed, less hectic atmosphere.  

We had dinner on the boardwalk, then played a few games at an arcade, then strolled the beach by moonlight.  As tired as I usually am on Friday nights, this was still an exceptional date night down the shore.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Me vs Humidity part trois

The heat and humidity returned in full force this week.  Yesterday went up into the low 90's.  All anyone at school could talk about was the heat.

One of my students was wearing this shirt today:

Just substitute "running" for "playing" and I'm good to go.  I ran 8 miles on Monday, 12 miles last night and did my track speed session this afternoon.  At this rate I'm going to have a goddamned heart attack.

I was feeling particularly woozy while riding my bike home today and have just generally felt "off" the past few days.  It's been a major effort not to snap at people over little things.

God please make it stop.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Running at camp

Set out for Camp Ockanickon this morning at 7am.  Had intended to join a fitness class there sponsored by Above and Beyond Fitness, in preparation for their semi-annual mudrun next month, but I couldn't find them. In lieu of the crossfit-style workout I had come to camp for, I set out for my usual Saturday 8 miler, which turned into 9.

Running in the woods always brings to mind Robert Frost's poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening:"

The woods are lovely dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Running at camp is so good for my soul, and today was just what I needed.  Gone is the humid nightmare I've been experiencing lately, replaced by the first fall morning chill with brilliant blue skies.  The 9 miles went by easily as I ran past deer, wild turkeys, people out for bike rides, and several girlscouts on a weekend retreat.

Caught up with the ABF crew at the end of the run and met the trainer who seemed incredibly nice.  Turns out they start their workout on a small patch of land recently acquired by camp that I didn't know about. Might try to meet up with them on a Saturday in the future.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Back to school

The door to my classroom

We've had two straight days of meetings, mostly to do with a new evaluation system being implemented this year.  Tomorrow is the first day with the kids.

This will be one of my biggest challenges of this training cycle: making the transition from August in which I had all the time in the world to get my runs in, to September when my schedule once again becomes highly regimented.  My time will no longer be completely consumed by running, but instead by student growth objectives, lesson plans, formative and summative assessments, grading, faculty meetings, document logs, and curriculum writing.  Oh yeah, and teaching.

Here's what my schedule looks like during the school year: wake up at 6am, shower, shave, make breakfast. Ride bike to school by 7am.  First class at 7:45.  6 classes, two prep periods, and one twenty minute lunch break.  School finishes at 2:30, and we are required to stay until 3.  Sometimes I leave right at 3, other times I'll stay as late as 5.  Often I'll dedicate an hour or two at night to grading, creating tests or assignments, or writing lesson plans.  It's definitely not a job that one leaves at the office.

So somewhere in there I have to find time to run 60 miles a week.  It's not so hard finding the time, mind you, but instead the mental fortitude one needs.  Two hours that have been given to running can quickly evaporate when I'm tired or cranky or hungry or generally looking for an excuse not to run.  Forcing myself to go run ten miles is one thing, but doing so on time is another thing altogether.

Here's to another great year.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Me vs. Humidity part deux

Well, today's run was one for the books.  Normally Monday is my rest day, but due to not finishing my long run yesterday, I had to try again this morning.

I made sure to finish eating by 6pm last night and went to bed around 10pm.  Wanted to wake up at 6am but that got pushed to 7.  Out the door by 8.  At mile 3 I ran headlong into a giant spiderweb stretched across the trail.  The humidity was just as bad today, so by mile 4 I was soaked with sweat and my shoes were squelching already.  Almost considered giving up again but the heat wasn't as bad as yesterday so I soldiered on.

While drinking Gatorade inbetween laps 2 and 3, Stevie poked her head out the window and asked me what lap I was on.  When I told her I had one to go, she said, "great, so you're feeling better than yesterday!"  "Fuck no!" I yelled back.  Pardon my French.

I was, in fact, feeling miserable, but somehow convinced myself  to head out on the last lap.  That's when things got interesting.

Somewhere along mile 12 the sky opened up in an end-of-days thunderstorm.  The sudden darkness was punctuated by flashes of lightning.  Claps of thunder set off car alarms.  The sidewalks were quickly filled with ankle deep rivers.  In some intersections the water went up to my knees.  The downpour felt amazing, but it certainly didn't make running much easier.  I had to stop and walk twice.

The storm lasted a mere ten minutes, and I trudged on despite my heavy shoes and sudden pain in my hips.  Finally made it home just before Stevie was about to come out and look for me.

And now I sit on the couch, wondering how spiders get from one side of a trail to the other to start their web, but more importantly wondering if I should feel defeated due to yet another difficult run, or triumphant that I finished at all.  Trying to enjoy my last day of summer and mentally prepare myself for school starting again tomorrow.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Me vs. Humidity

I'm so sick of training in heat and humidity.  I'm sick of the squelching shoes, of running in soaked shorts, the dragging feeling I get while running, and feeling like every other run I do ends in disappointment.  It's all killing my confidence, impeding my progress, and making this marathon training cycle a very shaky ride.

I had told Stevie about my dad riding alongside me during my run yesterday, and asked if she would be willing to do the same sometime.  She offered to join me on my 15 miler this morning.

Well, you might be guessing where this is heading...

I had planned to do three laps of my usual five mile route so that I could swing by the apartment for the gatorade, water and power gels I left there.  Naturally I got started later than I should have because we ate late last night and I was still waiting to digest this morning.  By the end of one lap it was already 88 degrees with 68 percent humidity.  I was soaked in my own sweat, like always, and could feel the heat radiating out of me.  I felt like I was becoming dangerously overheated and decided I needed to call it and try again tomorrow.

So now I don't get a rest day because I have to spend it reattempting my long run, hopefully this time at a reasonable hour.

And here's me dumping ice water on my head after the run:

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