Friday, May 31, 2013

Marathon Pictures Or It Didn't Happen

Why do we wait so impatiently for the race day photos?  Pictures or it didn't happy, I suppose, but I also think we want to see if our outsides matched our insides, and to get an outsider's visual perspective on our internal experience. A marathon is experienced through visceral emotion and a dazed brain, but the camera eye is completely objective and without bias.

Here are some photos I very crudely lifted.  I left out those which showed my zombie stiff legs and crawl to the finish. (No pictures so it didn't happen.)




Feeling Groovy Camera Dude




Pretending I don't see the camera dude.


A runner in yellow tries to overtake me for 929th place











Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Master of My Domain: No Running For 30 Days

That's it. No Running For 30 Days. None. I'll walk out of my house if it's on fire.

I'm to be Master of My Domain.

The first week or so will be easy. But once the acute pain from the marathon fades the real test will begin. I will need help to do this.

Picture this...

Your beloved son knocks on your door. "I'm a heroin addict and can't shake this habit. I've tried everything. I'm desperate, mom, desperateLock me in a room with 10 gallons of water, a blanket, and a piss-bucket," he asks of you, "and don’t let me out for 5 days no matter how hard I beg, plead or cry.”
 

You decide to lock him in the room, but then have to turn up the Neil Diamond CD’s so you can’t hear his frantic screams to unlock the door when the withdrawals hit.

Or imagine your daughter knocks at your door, "Mom, I'm a werewolf, yep, a werewolf, and I'm tired of feeding on innocent humans every full moon. I beg of you, lock me in your cellar. Reinforce the walls with concrete. Leave me there and vacate. Tonight is the Harvest Moon”
 

You’d gladly show her the cellar, pour the concrete, but load your Glock up with a silver bullet, just in case.

Well, I’m a heroin addicted werewolf, asking to be locked into a room, cemented in, and not let out for at least 30 days. Expect me to change my mind. I certainly can't trust my own moronic brain that brought me here. 

My legs are no longer muscle but filled with scar tissue.  My IT band on my left leg aches, which caused a sharp, knife-like pain on the outside of my knee during the marathon.  This is the spot that’s screaming the loudest right now.  On the other side, just under my right kneecap, it still shouts in pain, especially walking down stairs. My thigh continues to have these odd spasms that over time tighten up into a hot ball of thorns.

I've never met a Hyperbole I didn't love, but this isn’t something where a week's rest will help. My legs have been dead for quite a while, and I’m trying to heal them deep and thorough before I do some New York City marathon training which will include greater weekly mileage and less long runs.

On schedule for the month of May is daily foam rolling, walks, some light biking, upper body weights, stretches, and lots of reading.

My focus will be elsewhere anyway.  June 10th is the expected release of my next novel, “On the Lips of Children” from Books of the Dead Press. Guaranteed to tattoo the insides of your eyeball. In a good way.

Also…

I have rewritten, revised, and revitalized many of my running blog posts, particularly ones related to addiction and running, added some new material, and I’ll be releasing an ebook in the next 4-6 weeks with the working title; “Chasing the Dragon: Running to Get High”.  Guaranteed to tattoo your running spirit. In a good way.

In the meantime, double lock the door, reinforce the walls, and don't let me out to run. No matter what I say.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Bayshore Marathon: Recapped to the Album "Graceland"

Short story: Finished in 4:01. 2nd slowest marathon time ever, but one of the best marathons ever.  Bayshore marathon was the prettiest course, smooth as silk, surprisingly nice fan support (intermittent, which is how I like it. Coming upon a group of spectators after there are none is like an Oasis desert.)

Long Story: (and I'll try to skip the parts that people don't read anyway)

I am driving up north to Traverse City, singing to the album 'Graceland' very loudly and badly. I'm 2 hours from home, change lanes, hit a HUGE pothole, tire is blown like I hit pile of bricks.

Waddle over to the emergency lane. Triple A comes 45 minutes later, (because I'm not into hanging my legs onto a busy highway while I change a tire.) The exploded tire is replaced with a tiny 'only drive for 50 miles' spare tire.  "Who am I to blow against the wind?"   
           


 Triple A guy follows me to 'Timmy's Tire's' and the tire guy (I don’t' think it was Timmy) says they can't fix it. Rim is shot, shattered.  No rims anywhere. Only a Mazda dealer can help (they don't do Mazda dealers up north). I search on laptop using McDonalds’ Wi-Fi, and phone many Mazda dealers down south. No help at 2 pm on Friday.  Calls home, and there's really nothing anyone can do. Next solution: dump this car and rent one. More phone calls, no rental cars anywhere. Resign to going home and running a solo 26.2 in the morning, just to see what might have happened.

"Break downs come and break downs go, what are you gonna do about it, that's what I'd like to know?"

No, I can't give up.  Instead go to Belle Tire website and search custom inventory for all of Michigan. Find a rim and call. They have a custom rim and can get it done if I am there by 5. Drive on a tiny doughnut with my hazards on an hour back south the way I came. New rim and tire is installed in an hour and a half. Mismatched rims. This Rim is pimped out (just one of them). Get back on the road. The trip takes 9 hours instead of 4.

Sleep well. 430 am wake up. Take a world class BM which should have earned me an age group award.  Coffee and breakfast and check email. Message from the publisher that my novel is to be released on June 10th (tentative). Psyched! Write emails back.

Wait, I have to leave. I get to the marathon at 7, package pick up at 7:05, walking to the chute as the anthem plays since it starts at 7:15. I'm pinning on my bib as people begin. Oh shit! I'm still holding my goody bag. Give it to a stranger and beg them to put it at bag drop off. They ask me suspiciously if there's something dangerous inside. (There were dog sniffers for all the packages, I later learned.) 

Race starts. Beautiful fucking course, great stuff, great communal running spirit. Start slow and all is well. At mile 8 knee pain inflames. "Why am I soft in the middle when the rest of my life is so hard?"

 Mile 13 I feel a surge of energy and tap into my primordial brain matter and flow the next 5 miles. I dig into that area that only comes with marathons, some strange mix of anger and joy and subconscious life matter that makes me keep coming back. The running mojo flows through my veins and Icona Pop sings “I Love It” in my ears and Lake Michigan glistens with diamonds to my side. These miles will be what I grasp onto.   "I've reason to believe, we all will be received, in Graceland."
Feeling Groovy Camera Dude

Knee pain becomes terrible between miles 17 and 18.  I envision a red, throbbing tendon that is cracking and may snap. Running gait is affected and I walk/run mix and feel I may fall over. I become carnage and harrow hell for 8 miles, see a few friends there, and get out before the devil knows I’m dead.
A runner in yellow tries to overtake me for 929th place

The day after, I feel a truck has hit me, of course, and had those crazy weary marathon day dreams last night.  My ego is still in ICU in critical condition for not breaking 4 hours, but my spirit has already visited and said, "You know if given the shot, you would take the same exact experience tomorrow and would do it all over." 

My spirit is right. Even though in my head I was writing letters to the New York Road Runners begging to defer my planned 2013 NYCM to 2014 (they would say no). "There's a girl in New York City, who calls herself the human trampoline."

Today, I'm looking forward to many weeks of rest.

On the drive home, I took a different route, still sang loudly and badly to Graceland, and I ate a full Hot and Ready Little Ceasers Pizza that sat on the passenger seat, not to mention 2 big cookies, a candy bar, a granola bar, and some sweet-tarts.

I thanked and hugged my wife and children, put my race shirt and medal on my child, and watch the Red Wings lose. But they still have game six, and I still have miles to go before I sleep.

"I need a shot at redemption. Don't want to end up a cartoon, in a cartoon graveyard."


Still the best driving album ever.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What's the Minimum Miles Per Week You Can Run and Still Finish A Marathon?

(You may have to kill a few Kraken to find out)

As I prepare for Saturday's Bayshore Marathon, I've looked back on my last 16 weeks of training and did some math. I'm averaging a whopping 24 miles per week.  This does not include my three week taper where I ran only half of that.  I plan just one 4 miler this week plus Saturday's Bayshore Marathon. There's been no real cross training other than an occasional light bike ride.

How the hell am I going to finish this thing? Did my mouth write a check my ass can’t cash?  Did my legs bite off more than they can chew?

This voice of doubt needs to get out of my head. I think I will be fine, mostly because of my long runs. In this same period, I ran three 20 milers, an 18, 17, 16, 15, and 14 miler. Plus I've been there before.

As long as I pace myself, start slow, and don’t expect to run much faster on marathon day than my long runs I'll see the finish line. I may need to Galloway method the Mo’Fo a bit. The weather on Saturday looks to be near perfect for a lovely run up and down the shores of Lake Michigan.

And this is my secret weapon. Lake Michigan.   
The Bayshore Marathon Course Runs Up and Down this Penisula
I have never told anybody about this until now, but years ago, I made a deal with a mythical creature who lives in Lake Michigan. Here’s the story of what happened:

I was 10 years old on a family trip to Lake Michigan and I was skipping stones across the tiny waves that lapped onto the beach.  I searched for the flattest stones I could find and then zipped them side arm and watched them bounce; one, two, three… skip skip skip.  After hours of this, I grew tired and had one last stone ready to skip but then something in the distance made me stop.

What was that?

It was then that I saw it. A mermaid with a blue, scaly tail and golden hair was floating in the water. My breath left me, my heart stopped, and I knew I was witnessing magic. The water glistened in the sun like little diamonds waiting to be gathered. Music played to the beat of my brain waves from somewhere in the distance as if angels were strumming their harps.



Magnificent.

But then the diamonds vanished and the music stopped.  Bile rose in my throat, and a dark cloud started to bubble from the depths of the water. Long tentacles reached out of the lake, 8 of them, with huge suction cups ready to pounce. The Lake Michigan Kraken was attacking the mermaid.

I had to act. I gathered pebbles, a hundred or so in my hand, and threw them at the Kraken with all of my 10 year old might, hoping they would hit their target like machine gun splatter.

I am no David, and did not slay the Goliath sea beast with a stone that day, (who would believe that?)  but I did waken the mermaid, who dashed beneath the water in a flash and flipped herself to safety. The Kraken’s flailing tentacles came up empty, and it disappeared into the depths.

 
The Lake Michigan Mermaid came to shore and thanked me, but I've promised to keep this conversation secret in order to preserve the secret kingdom of the great lake sea creatures. I can tell you that she granted me one wish. All I have to do is sprinkle some Lake Michigan water over my head if I’m in trouble, and I can have any aid my heart desires. No cramps, no painful tendon aches or ITB flares can match mermaid magic.

So, I got that going for me. Which is nice.
Aid Station to Your Right
If you look close, you can see the mermaid


 



Friday, May 17, 2013

New York City Marathon 2013 ~ Looking For Revenge



I registered for the 2013 New York City Marathon today and paid $266 dollars. This is steep at ten bucks per mile, but it is worth it. You don't take nothing with you but your soul. And I like to think that our souls are full of our memories and energy from our lifetimes, so I intend to gather up what I can for that day I take the trip to the next stop.

I had hoped that I could wait to register for New York until I had finished the Bayshore Marathon on May 25th and I could assess the damage done. I've been whittling my legs down to nothing, and who knows what will be left after this run.

But, as the cosmic joker in the sky would have it, deadline to register for New York is 12 midnight, May 24th, 7 hours and 15 minutes before Bayshore starts.

Either way, I'm all in for 2013, 

New York City Marathon Redux. Part 2. The Sequel. There and Back Again.  This time for a real run, not a Central Park "Run Anyway" marathon. I"m not leaving until I cross that finish line.

Every time I put on my Orange 2012 New York City Marathon shirt, my daughter scolds me with "you didn't earn that shirt."  

"I know," I think to myself, "she's right," so like Bruce Willis going back home for his watch in Pulp Fiction, (as I described it in full detail in this post here) I am going to return. And like Bruce, this time, I'm a little pissed off and looking for revenge.



Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Arena Is Empty ~ Except For One Man: Distressed Runner Part 2

Forrest Gump as the iconic distressed runner seeking and finding peace in a long run. This was distressed runner, part 1.

Distressed runner part 2 is about another runner. This one is unnamed, but he is featured in that Cake song which deserves a spot on everyone's running playlist. You know the one. Sing along... "He's Going The Distance. He's Going For Speed."



Here's a closer look at:

Cake - The Distance

---The song starts with what seems like a typical 400 or 800 meter race at any track event.

Reluctantly crouched at the starting line,
engines pumping and thumping in time.
the green light flashes, the flags go up.
churning and burning, they yearn for the cup.
they deftly maneuver and muscle for rank,
fuel burning fast on an empty tank.
reckless and wild, they pour through the turns.
their prowess is potent and secretly stern.
as they speed through the finish, the flags go down.


And that's when something strange happens...

the fans get up and they get out of town.
the arena is empty except for one man,
still driving and striving as fast as he can.


What's that? Everybody has left but one distressed runner is still running?  How long will this go on for?

the sun has gone down and the moon has come up,
and long ago somebody left with the cup.

but he's driving and striving and hugging the turns.
he's thinking of someone for whom he still burns.

There's an insidious obsession here. He's certainly not content with his little 1/2 mile run. What does this runner want anyway?

no trophy, no flowers, no flashbulbs, no wine,
he's haunted by something he cannot define.


Oh, I see... no trophy's, no flowers, no race day t-shirt, no medal, no goody bag either? He's probably not even wearing a watch, that doesn't matter. It's something deeper, he's haunted by something he cannot define, but it probably feels like....

bowel-shaking earthquakes of doubt and remorse,
assail him, impale him with monster-truck force.
in his mind, he's still driving, still making the grade.
she's hoping in time that her memories will fade.


It's about a girl huh. Well, she's forgotten him, the trophy is gone, he'll never seem to find peace, and day after day, he's...

still striving and driving and hugging the turns.
and thinking of someone for whom he still burns.


Forever running with the burn. It's a lovely song either about a distressed runner haunted by bowel-shaking earthquakes of doubt and remorse. Or a metaphorical song about a pathetic, sad man, trying desperately to hook up at a bar before closing time.

Then again, maybe we are all versions of that sad drunken man at closing time, fighting against the clock to get what we came for before we have to go home.

Drive safe.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Do Runners in Distress Run Best? Revisiting the Run of Forrest Gump

If you've ever ran a distance event, I'm sure someone has yelled "Run, Forrest, Run" to you and then laughed as if they were hysterical.


It has grown tiresome, right? 

Still, Forrest Gump is one of those movies if I'm ever flipping through the channels, I will stop and watch for a bit.  I love the message of the movie, and I admire and covet Forrest's saintly simplicity. His famous run is still iconic and rings true for many of us. If you are in distress, and don't know what to do, sometimes you have to run.

Forrest's run was triggered by Jenny leaving him.  Jenny had just came by his house to dry out, once again using Forrest as her safe place, and then refuses his request to marry.





 Jenny does sleep with him, but, just like Forrest, she needs to 'run' too, and takes off and leaves him the next morning without a goodbye.

And when Forrest wakes up to an empty house, he ponders for a moment, and then darts down his long driveway for a run.

He runs for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours. This is how long it takes to reach some peace, and think to himself; "My mama always said you got to put the past behind you before you can move on."

 So, do distressed runners run best?  Are the most avid of runners maybe already living with this constant distress... all of use recycling having our "Jenny" leave us again and again. Because we all know what it's like when Jenny leaves and the house is empty. We go on runs and fill that big gaping hole inside of us, stuffing it with runs and miles and an incredible supply of new oxygen from our gasping lungs.  And once it is full and we've reached some peace, we stop or slow, only to have it drain out and then the hole needs filling again. 

Am I asking because this is me?

I certainly know when I'm at the most primal moments of my runs, I tap into this distress. It's a wonderful arena to play out the angst and issues and drama.  Maybe it's not the best way, but I know of many worse.

So, when I am done with the Bayshore marathon 12 days from now, I hope I end feeling a bit of peace, and turn to some random perplexed runner and, just like Forrest, say, "I’m pretty tired… I think I’ll go home now." 




Friday, May 10, 2013

"SHAZAM!" - A Must Have Runners' App

"SHAZAM!"  Say it out loud, and it's like magic.


If you don't know what the SHAZAM app is, I'm going to tell you of course.

You're driving in a car and hear the perfect running song.  Maybe you have heard it a hundred times and can never know for sure what the name is. Maybe it's the first time and you just need to have the song to play again.

But what the heck is its name?

 Maybe the DJ will announce the song at the end. Or maybe you will remember the lyrics and can google them later. Or maybe you'll be the 100th caller and can ask the DJ himself when you visit the radio station to pick up your free Lady Gaga tickets.

But never more. Now you can just click one button on your shazam ap, hold it up to the speaker and 'SHAZAM!" it tells you what song you are listening to and the artist.  It has never failed to retreive the song title for me.

I did test Shazam on various other noises around my house, and found some oddities.  For example, my daughter yawning is Ozzy Osbourne's "Over the Mountain."    My dog snoring is a never before heard before Mumford and Sons melody.  My own flatulence is Paul Simon's "Sounds of Silence." Go figure.

These minor problems aside, SHAZAM is my favorite app to both use and to say.

(Go get SHAZAM and test it on the song below)



Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Trail Runner Read - The Summit Seeker


Trail runners and road runners are common kin, yet not fully of the same breed. I’ve never ran a trail I didn’t enjoy, and have in fact completed the recently run Ann Arbor area Trail Marathon sponsored by Running Fit.  Still, as someone who visits nearby trails at the most once a month, I wouldn’t call myself a trail runner.  
Trail runners and ultra runners are amazing creatures who have my awe and respect.
For some reason a trail runner with tattooes is just a bona fide bad-ass to me.  All that time in the woods toughens their hides, fills up their soul, and mutates them into something a bit more evolved, but also closer to mother earth.
Trail runners seem more solitary yet at the same time more communal. More solitary, in that they seem to run longer distances, and by  the nature of the secluded trails, more alone. Yet they also seem to share a secret language. An unspoken bond.  You’ll see this at events,  you’ll see it in their eyes, and it’s evident in the book I read, The Summit Seeker.
I came across The Summit Seeker because I have been secretly rewriting a series of blog posts to mash them together into an ebook (oops, secrets out of the bag) and was looking for similar works. Summit Seeker was a great purchase. The book is a great mix of running moments, glimpses into a very interesting life, and reads with a near stream of consciousness. Runners of all types will see themselves and feel inspired. In fact, I will guarantee you will like it, or I’ll give you your money back  (if I can just find those secret forms you first need to fill out, now where are they...? )
There were so many take aways from this book. I enjoyed the discussion how trail running is less focused on time and how the solitary nature of a trail run contrasts to the crowded chutes of marathons. The author goes into the Stages of being tired, without being all scientific and stuffy, but is much more visceral and spiritual. It always reads with the joyful wit of someone who has logged enough miles to ascend to higher planes and then return to tell us about it. There is a great conversation on what she learned from Hobbits, and the spot-on insight into how nobody asks why we do other things, like  go to the movies or why we listen to music, but they do ask why we run. 

Many of these things are of course universal to all of runnng, and if you've never ran a trail you'll still find something that resonates with you. Running music, the author explaines, is best when it has a personal history in it for you. That ran true, as did the discussion on how we crave the suffering and discomfort of the run, and when we line up at the start of a race, we can never fully know what we are going to get. And that’s the beauty of it.
Due to the greatness of the Kindle, the best invention ever in the history of everness, I can easily highlight some of my favorite passages and then reread. Here’s a peek into some of them:
Our evolutionary instinct, when faced with a danger or threat, is to run. The best runners were the ones who survived.  Today we have different threats.  …While some run as a social activity, I usually prefer to run alone. ….Running taught me to survive. And then it taught me to thrive
Running in the winter is to not give up when the road gets hard. It’s about willpower and perseverance and being faithful to your sport. Loving your patch even when it’s ugly.
When I run barefoot  my instincts come alive. It’s like I have an extra sense. I’m sharply aware of every creak….. I can almost hear the neural connections in my brain.
Running for me is the physical and emotional act of moving forward. Leaving all the garbage behind and striving toward a better future. The greater the physical pain, the deeper the emotional relief.
I chose my poison and can drink it gladly. My mantra for the rest of the race became, “I Chose This.” It reminded me to bear my suffering with joy. And for the entire race, joy was what I found.  (Blogger’s Note: “I Chose This” has immediately been deposited into my bank of personal Mantra’s, to be pulled out in time of need.)
You don’t have to be fast, but you better be fearless.
Where marathons force you into corrals based on your speed, the ultra slaps you on the back and says, “stand wherever the hell you want. Your chance is as good as any of these other poor suckers.’ And when you believe that, you know you’re an ultrarunner.
I don’t think running is supposed to hurt all the time. But if running never hurts, I wonder if you’re doing it right.  I wonder if you’re  growing or exploring your limits
Visit her blog at: http://vanessaruns.com/   
From what it sounds like, she’s now living in her RV (no joke), traveling to trails here and there, living off the bugs who fly into her mouth, and in general completing her full mutation into a new, more advanced species.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Third 20 Miler Done - Hasa Diga Eebowai

My third 20 miler for the Bayshore marathon is done.  Painful and hard, and my training has been such that I had no idea what to expect, but then again, that's kind of why we do this.  The run was at a slow pace but some of my faster miles were in the later half. As always, the long run tapped into parts of me that regular runs never do.

It was 71 degrees and sunny. We skipped spring, and ran into summer it seems. I took a usual route, a 4 mile run to 8 Mile, then a 4 mile loop down 8 mile, out and back to my makeshift aid station of water and gu and S-caps under an evergreen tree. Only problem was, today they were pouring new cement on all the major sidewalk curbs, so I had to run around construction workers and avoid the wet cement.

Some random thoughts:

One More Day from the Les Mis soundtrack is a great playlist opener.

Paint It Black by The Rolling Stones is a great running song. So is Man Up from Book of Mormon and the song Hasa Diga Eebowai, which is not only a great song, but ended up being my mantra.

(What does Hasa Diga Eebowai mean? Whatever you do, don't go googling it, you'll regret it, please don't, don't... You did it anyways! Ahhhhh!  Don't judge. Context is everything, go see the play before you condemn me)

KT tape on my legs got me some looks.

Miles 1 to 7 of a long run feel harder than miles 8 to 14. That was when I was in my sweet spot.

I don't like Chocolate Mint Gu. Wanted to throw up.

I become the incredible hulk at about mile 16. Not one but two drivers didn't bother to yield when I fully had the right of way. I stopped in the street full of raging testosterone and yelled "Hey, Red Light!!!: and when the next car turned into me,  I yelled into his open window, "And you too Fucker!".  Yes, it's true, and I'm a little bit ashamed.

"Hasa Diga Eebowai"

Also, just because someone raises their hand, they may not be waving to you. They may be smoking a cigarette.I waved back anyways, they puffed out smoke.

Accountant looking people in suits will give you looks when you are singing out loud.

When you are running, you can't tell how loudly you are singing out loud.

Your brain will tell you that your body can do less than it can, and the trick is not to believe it. No, that's not my thought, I read it somewhere, but it was what I thought about as I ran.

Eminem has gotten me through so many tough moments on runs. I'm a lukewarm fan of his on most days, but on a long run day, I'm a groupie. Maybe it's a white-man angst thing. 

Now it's time to ice that incredibly aching spot in my knee and rest up and taper like a Mo'fo.

Video below from the musical. Rated R.




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