Thursday, February 28, 2013

Cover Of My New Novel

Cover Reveal
 "On The Lips of All Children"
A novel
 coming April 2013
Cover art by 'Li Vincent'



A tattoo artist and his human canvass are kidnapped in a San Diego to Tijuana drug tunnel.
Inspired by the quote: "Mother is the name for God on the hearts and lips of all children."

The prologue is available here on Fictionaut. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Rules For Vacation Running



Back from vacation.

8 days of scorching sunshine on a Caribbean cruise, hopping between islands on a floating pig trough and gorging on the buffet, taking midnight strolls in the dark of the night with the moonlight glowing down and heavy winds ready to scoop me off the deck and into the deep blue sea. At port stops, I was offered some Jamaican marijuana and some Cuban cigars, in Grand Cayman I heard  bankers wearing bermudas making business deals on the beach. And then it was on to my favorite spot, Cozumel, where everyone’s an amigo and the Mexican pleasantness soaked through all the sunscreen and deep into my pores.

 And don’t forget the staple of all cruises: overworked, underpaid workers who have been plucked from poverty-stricken countries and taken away for years so that they can fold up animal towels for your kids. (that’s another story for another day)

All of that, and I got in 4 glorious runs in 8 days. Vacation runs are filled with the greatest joys and fueled by invigorated legs. I have a list of unwritten rules about running on vacation that I go by.  Here they are, unwritten no more.

Rules For Vacation Running
1. Be safe. You’re a stranger in a strange land. Carry cell phones, mace, run with partners. 

2. Wear your running shoes to the airport for comfort. They won’t get mangled and disfigured in your suitcase, and Airports are a great time to stretch your legs with a run. If you feel weird running through the terminal while the rest of the folks take moving sidewalks, hold a boarding pass in your hand, and keep an anxious look on your face. You’ll surely look like you’re trying to catch a flight. I didn’t count this in my above mentioned 4 runs, but I logged close to a mile on a layaway on the flight down to Texas.

2. Exploit your freedom and your environment and do something different. As that famous Jamaican bartender said in the movie Cocktail: Anything else is always something better.” (One of the lesser known  “Coughlin’s Laws”, far behind, “Bury the Dead, They stink up the place”)  Try to run a path that would be impossible to run at home. If you are from the flatlands look for hills, if you’ve been stuck on a treadmill, run outside, if you’re from a Michigan winter, run on beaches and Caribbean islands. Tap into the core of your exotic locale. 
Coughlin's Law: A run on vacation means another walk through the buffet.

3. Take advantage of Jet-lag.  Traveled West? You’ll still be able to sleep and slow wake, but have time for a predawn run just as the sun rises. Some of my greatest memories are due to jet-lag that allow a 5 or 6 am run on the pacific coast, including this last vacation where I ran Galveston beach.  The sand was hard enough to run on, and an orange hue outlined the horizon for the first 3 miles until the sun rose over the gulf. It was a gorgeous, paint by number morning sky, (looked so phony.)   Angels and humans all gathered at the beach to watch the sunrise.  During a 3 week trip to China which is 12 hours opposite of us, I took a few 3 am runs where statues of  Budhas came to life and watched me from the shadows.

4. Check for a running event in the area. You never know. I stumbled upon Chicagos R'nR half-marathon last season that just happened to be there the same weekend I was visiting, and the early start of these races means less intrusion for the rest of the family.

3. Hi-tech, dry-fit, race event t-shirts are perfect for vacation. For one, they can be conversation starters with other travelers or locals. Then, of course, you can wear them on a run, and afterwards, bring them into the shower with you, shampoo and soap them off, hang them up to dry, then overnight they’ll work their magic and you can wear them stink-free to the buffet the following day.  They also make great pajamas, a tourniquet if you get bitten by a shark, they pack light, and don’t get wrinkled in your luggage.

3. Run for joy of it, you’re on vacation. Even if I’m training for an event (I have about 70 days until I taper for the Bayshore Marathon) I take myself off the grid. I don’t worry about weekly mileage or targeted workouts. It just puts undue pressure on that day

4. Doesn’t mean you can’t push it.  Fartlicks are in the air every vacation run, everything is a fartlick.  I don’t measure my speed, but run faster when I get the itch, and turn it up for a few strides, a few miles, whatever seems to fit, but no pressure to keep it going. I pull back or even walk break as needed, especially when I smell an interesting tangent in the air.  If it looks interesting, I veer off the beaten path and take the road less traveled.

5. As far as roads traveled, ask around for paths or popular running trails in the area. But ask the right person, since chances are, the person you ask won’t realize how far you run. (Beware, they may call you a jogger) so look for a runner or ask the hotel staff if they know where the runners go. Better yet, call ahead, google it, and look at message boards.

6. No matter what, it’s a vacation run. Expect cosmic powers to be revealed and visual wonders to appear, all powered by refreshed legs. You haven’t really been somewhere until you’ve seen it through the eyes of a run.

Just some rules to go by, but a vacation run is unique and to be cherished. It was a year ago when I took a run along a San Diego highway trail in the dark of night, with homeless men laying in sleeping bags all around me, and the ideas started to flow and the seed of my next novel was born.  The results are in full bloom and are coming soon.

Now it’s back home to my regular running routes, which are about to get dumped on by 8 inches of snow, but I’m tanned, rested, and ready. No problem man, Good Day Amigos.  See you at the buffet.




The Jade Rabbit on Amazon

  
 











Thursday, February 14, 2013

Random Thoughts Before I Run

Vacation time! But first some thoughts before I run off to the Gulf of Mexico.
-Being on vacation automatically makes my legs fresh, and they also recover quicker on vacation runs. Never fails.
-If this doesn’t work, and my injurious-aging self doesn’t heal,  I am comforted by the FAQ section of the Bayshore Marathon website which states: "Bayshore does not offer refunds. In some cases we may allow you defer your entry to the following year as long as you notify us before May 1st."
-If I had to buy an extra plane ticket in order to take my Kindle on vacation with me, the only question would be first class or coach.

-I love reading about running in literature. The most recent example is Bran from 'Storm of Swords', who is paralyzed in real life but in his dreams, is a DireWolf, and declares; "There was nothing better than running, unless it was running after prey."

-Last cruise I was on, the running deck was probably a third of a mile around the boat and offered some glorious morning runs.  This  ship I’m going on  has a sports deck with a running track (strike that, a 'jogging track') which is just a 6th of a mile, but I got to believe it wasn’t built by runners. They would never do that. I’m anticipating a lot of left turns or the view from a treadmill, or perhaps running with the locales on an island stop.


-Being on vacation and being sober is like being in Vegas and not gambling. You always wake up each day more rich than the person next to you.
 


-Yes, I am floating on Carnival, whose slogan is "We provide the discounts, and leave the safety onshore."
-If I do get stranded, my expectations are high. I demand a lifeboat with a tiger named Richard Parker, a Hyena, a Zebra, and an Orangutan.

-If you are reading this and plan to rob my house while I am away, be forewarned that my brother-in-law will be at our house doing some work. He’s 6 foot 3 and an ex college football player and is the one who has been buying up all those guns that are about to be banned.
-Plus We also have two very vicious Guinea Pigs who will stand their ground.

-Some day there will be a messiah guinea pig who will lead all the Guinea Pigs away from the terrible slaughter and experimentation that has been done onto their species, and he will lead them to the promised land. 
-Guinea pigs are way more interactive than you would realize, and make sounds for treats.
-I’m 89% excited and 10% nervous about my next novels release. The 89% comes from a years worth of work and how deliciously twisted it is, the 10% nervous comes from being worried someone’s going to check my basement freezer for bodies. The other 1% is constipation.
-The characters in this novel are my most vivid yet, the cover most striking, and the narrative tries to tattoo a burning image onto your eyeball.

- My novel, STRAY, was just given some great love in a National Literature Examiner article. 
-The more I read about runners, the less of a runner I sometimes feel.  My weekly mileage is what some folks run on a boring Tuesday.
-Being nearly injured but enough you can run is a form of self water–boarding. 
  
-Marco Rubio also grabbed a gatorade and a Gu. 

-There is a Finite number of blogging options on blogger. Sure, it may be in the billions, but I’ve tried half a million of them.  This current creation is what I settled on for now.  Feel free to log in and change the setup on your own.  The password is  “EepOpOrkAhAh”  



Monday, February 11, 2013

Running As An Experiment Of One

I wish I had stronger convictions at times, but then again, one thing I am sure about is that I truly dislike certitude.  When I hear someone speak with certitude, it comes across as narrow-minded, rigid, and dogmatic, and that they have perhaps not taken the other side of their own argument. 

Running is an experiment of one. The results you get will work for you and you alone. Sure, there needs to be some sort of theoretical and empirical reason for your training efforts, but we all have different body types, muscle types, strengths and weaknesses. God knows I have training logs that, based on specific theories, should have provided specific results.  It just doesn’t work like that.  

In the huge smorgasbord of decisions you have to make while training, there’s not necessarily one that’s right, but there is what works best for you. Finding what works is a perpetual battle.

Here’s a list of just some of my ongoing experiments.

1.  High Mileage versus High Speed
I realize these two, like all on this list, aren’t mutually exclusive, but it’s difficult to run high mileage while also recovering from speed workouts.

I run a lower number of weekly miles than most marathoners. In the past, I have topped out at 55 miles for a few weeks, but this didn’t do anything for me. My performance was best when I topped out in the mid 40’s, but mixed it in with some recovery weeks of mileage in the 20’s. These days, I top out at in the low 40’s during marathon training.

2. Long or Short Intervals
When it comes to doing speed workout, I have nailed my ten Yasso 800’s in my projected marathon time, but once again, it did not get me my hoped for goal. I fared better when I did longer intervals and more tempo runs, such as 2 x 3 miles with a mile recovery in between. Or threw in hills to substitute for speed.

3. Longest Long Run of 16 or 23 Miles
Hanson’s method versus the Michael Jordan method. I’ve tried all sorts of variations. So far, doing up to 22 or 23 has worked for me, but as I age and run slower, and my body breaks down faster, I’m thinking of scaling back. As I’ve heard more and more, there’s less to be gained for running longer than 3 hours except for a dictionary of injuries.

 3. Outside or Inside
Running on streets of ice and snow messes with my gait so much it doesn’t’ feel like running anymore.  Trying to find clear trails to run long runs can feel like a chore, and there’s something wonderfully mindless about going to my basement and putting on a movie. I can handle long treadmill miles. But treadmill running seems not really running but a simulation of running, a cheap substitute at times, and rarely have I regretted forcing myself outside.

 4. Long Steady Distance or Progressively Faster Long Runs
There are so many variations to do long runs. On one end there is the belief to run them a minute slower than goal marathon pace. Another method is to start at this pace and then pick up along the way so that you are running at or under goal marathon pace at the end. 

“Why should I learn to run slow? I already know how to do that,” said Emil Zatopek.  Doesn’t it feel great to rip through the last miles of a long run? And I nailed my BQ after doing progressively faster long runs. Then again, this is a near race effort and requires days of recovery. Last season, a slew of progressive long runs injured me.


5. Practice Fueling on the Run versus Glycogen Deprivation Runs
Should I take a gu or stop by a gas-station and get a kit-kat? Or eat nothing and make my body suck out all the mojo in my own cells, so that it teaches my body to burn fuel more efficiently and preserve my glycogen.   Yes, I need to learn what my stomach can handle, but it’s also good to know that a gu is just a race day benefit, rather than an essential crutch. Gu is like a cheering spectator this way, something to take a few seconds off my time, not an everyday crutch.

 6. Running on Injuries or Complete Rest?
I can run through pain. I expect it and welcome it, but injuries are different.
Rule of thumb is if it gets better as you run, as opposed to worse, than running on an ‘injury’ is a go, to a degree. And if it doesn’t’ mess with your gait. But complete rest, like taking the entire course of antibiotics, seems to be the best way to wipe the whole thing out.

7. Maximalists versus Minimalist
Shoe, shoes, everywhere, but not a Zero-Drop to drink.
I have experimented with some Saucony Kirvana’s.  We had a torrid 3 month affair, but they left me after mile 16 for something younger and with more social status, so I’ve moved on to something more stable and predictable. I do run in as light a shoe I can get away with, but this debate carries on.

8. Two, 3, or even 4 Week Taper?
Switching from a two to a three week taper paid off huge for me, so, if two is okay, but three is better, why not do four?  About a month after a marathon, I always feel like I could run another, faster one.

9. Gatorade or Electrolyte Tablets
Rather than Gatorade, I  started taking S-Caps, and it made a noticeable difference. (placebo?) I am a salty sweater, and there are dried white streaks down my cheeks after a summer long run. It's bizaree to see. At times, deer come out of the woods to lick my face. But S-caps are a great replacement..  (click here to learn about  S-Caps) To the dude who stopped me in Hines park after the Running Fit training run and preached the benefits of the little white pill, I thank you.

10. To Cross-train or Not To Cross-Train
In the past I have done heavy mountain biking and played hockey while marathon training, and my aerobic threshold was sky-high, but my tendons and ligaments weren’t so happy. These days I only do light biking.

 11. Compression Socks or Calf-Naked
I love compression socks and they've done wonders for my calves. They are like a warm blanket for my soul. But are they good for recovery, for the actual run, or for both? I have settled largely on only using them for recovery, and not for the run itself, since it feels like if my calves are tight, the compression sleeves make them worse. This could all be in my compressed head.

12. Buy the Professional Course Photos or Not
Where else are you going to find professional on-course photography?  Then again, should you contribute to this insane market of 50 bucks for a photo?

13. Oil Change at 3,000 or 5000 miles, Regular or synthetic
The auto manual and oil shop guys say change every 3 months or 3,000 miles. The car talk guys say that’s bull crap.

So many choices, so few days in our lives. When it comes down to it, and you’re unsure, I go by what Jack Kerouac wrote: Until you learn to realize the importance of the Banana King you will know absolutely nothing ….”  


Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Race is Long, And In The End, It's Only Against Your Brother - Darryl V. Merle

So, this is sibling rivalry week.  The week of an historic showdown of Brother 'V.' Brother, blood versus blood, sib versus baby sib.

I'm talking about the Jim Harbaugh versus John Harbaugh, the historic super bowl, right?


Nah.

I'm talking about DARRYL V. MERLE.

Darryl is by far the fan favorite. Woman swoon, men bromance, and he's come so far since he's been away from his red-necking, backwoods-living, back-stabbing, rascist rambling, hand chop off-ing brother Merle. The best parts of Darryl have come out in this worst of worlds, and he's awkwardly finding himself.

 But Darryl's blood is thick, and brother Merle speaks to the worst parts of him. At the time of this writing, they are trapped in a pit with a freaky mob and some hungry human eaters, so I'm thinking they are gonna have to forget their differences and work together for a  moment.

Don't you ever forget who you are!

Come back to life as Lego people.

Not everybody realizes that Darryl Dixon is, in fact, a marathoner. Yep, check it out here.

 If you can't wait for the showdown, My own little Zombie Story is a fun read and available on Amazon.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Bandit?

Would you be a bandit?

In my novel,  The Jade Rabbit, the main character is a marathoner who takes Sharleen,  a 18 year old homeless girl, (nicknamed the Ghost of Moonlight) under her wing during the last days before the Detroit marathon. They run together a few miles on the track, and Janice decides Sharleen would make a perfect bandit. Janice digs up an an old race number, pins it to her shirt, and has the little ball of spunk meet her at mile 20 to run alongside her for a few miles.

Had I been fast enough to be running behind her at that point, I don't suspect I would have appreciated this.  I kind of hate it when fresh legs jump in and out of a course. In some way, I'd rather they bandit from the start to the end.  Based on Sharleen's life story, however, and the fact she was trying, she should be given a free pass to Bandit for life, but otherwise, I'm on the anti-bandit side of the fence.

Am I just being a crotchety, 'get off of my lawn kids ' old man when I get a bit irked at fresh legs jumping in and out of the course?

 It kind of crushes me to see someone jump in a course and start running free and easy. Sure, mentally I know their situation is different than mine, but it doesn't sit well with my legs, zaps me mentally. Not to mention that bandits take from resources and has to add to my costs.

Is there ever a time it's okay to be a bandit?



Kathrine Switzer
The Original Bad-Ass and Best Excuse to Bandit

When I was in Boston, I learned it's a pretty regular thing for thousands of runners to sneak behind the official pack of runners and run the course. Google "Boston Marathon Bandits" and you'll come across dozens of articles.

There's a group called the " Red Snakes" who actually awards the boston bandits  with a special certificate As they cross the starting line, the Red Snakes chant, “Gombatte! Try your best!”

Reading another article,  One bandit says, “You’re the same as everybody else, but at the end you don’t get the official time and you don’t get the finisher’s medal.”

Um, no you're not the same as everybody!  You weren't invited, you didn't raise the funds (raising funds is harder than training, if you've ever tried)  and you didn't qualify. I worked for for Ten Years to qualify. That's a decade in scientific terms. A quarter of my life dedicated to getting an invite to the big dance, and you show up with shoes and you're in? Maybe you ran 26.2, but we got there different. You're doing a Paul Ryan, dismissing the achievements of those who did when you speak in these terms.

I'm not being all moral about this. I'm as subversive as the next guy. Fight the power. Elitists should wipe the arses of the poor with their silk handkerchiefs.

In fact,  I've been caught stealing once when I was 5... I enjoy stealing. It's just a simple fact.  When I want something and I don't want to pay for it.  I walk right through the door.  If I get by, it's mine. Mine all mine!



I also realize that, there's sanity in numbers and had I lived close by to Boston, I may have bandited as well. But what a waste it would have been. To think of all the character traits I built through the trials and tribulations of those ten years. Same as if I had taken a Lance Armstrong cocktail.

So, in this case, I'm the elitist.  and like any elitist will say, I earned this right, damn it, I did it the right way, I worked harder than you.  (Forget that I just may have had genetics on my side, or body type, or opportunities that others didn't, that I was maybe born on third base and didn't hit a triple.)

So, go ahead, fight the power, practice your subversions.


Love your rage, not your cage.
I will run your marathon. But not on the fifth of November, for I am busy.



But when it comes to Boston; I'm a bit of a fascist.


And That One's a Bandit! and That One's a Goon! Who let all this rif-raff into the room.
There's one smoking a joint, and a Runner With Spots. If I had my way, I'd have all of them shot.
 

 I suppose if we all try our best and are good to each other then all will be well.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Reading On The Toilet and The Tao of Injury Prevention

My Version of Groundhog day.
I wake up, run really hard for many weeks or months, realize I am injured, curse myself, research, swear prevention, buy some injury prevention knick-knacks, wake up, run really hard for many weeks or months, realize I am injured, curse myself….
Yes, this is my Groundhog Day curse.
My injuries have not been huge over the years but they’re coming with more frequency.  This week, I have scaled back my training in a major way after feeling the same injury that hit me last November just before the New York marathon. 
It’s probably too simple and just wrong to think of training as just  pushing  one’s body to the edge of injury, and then waiting for it to adapt to the demands and get stronger, but that’s been my guiding philosophy it seems. There's this feeling that the only way I'll get the most optimal results is to always dance on the edge of injury. As I’ve heard one local running celebrity say, “If you’re not icing something, you’re not trying.” 

So, when in doubt and in need of wisdom, I like to refer to my Bathroom reader for all my wisdom. (If I could fill up a library with only my Bathroom Readers it would include the poems of T.S Eliot, The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova,  Collected Stories from Franz Kafka, and of course the yearly ‘Keeper’ version of  Michigan’s Outdoor Athlete.)

 

 

 Right now I have some Eastern philosophy; “366 Readings from Taoism and Confucianism,” and as with any religious tomes, things are not true because the book says them, but the book says them because they are true, and during one especially pleasant and illuminating sit-down, I ran into this bit of injury prevention wisdom:
"Lieh Tzu continued:  ‘When the eye can discern the tip of a hair, it is about to go blind. When an ear can discern the wings of a gnat, it is about to go deaf. When the tongue can discern the difference between the waters of one river and another, it is about to lose its sense of taste. When the nose can discern the difference between the odor of scorching linen and scorching silk, it is about to lose its sense of smell. When the body takes special delight in sprinting, the limps are about to stiffen. And when the mind distinguishes most sharply between right and wrong, it is about to go astray.
So do no push yourself to the limit."

Yeah, well, if Lieh Tzu had ever felt the rush of a negative split marathon run, he’d be foam-rolling and icing himself somewhere.

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