Saturday, December 22, 2012

Running is Stupid and No One Should Ever Do It

Today I ran 3 miles.  It felt like 26.  Not quite 26.2, maybe, but pretty bad. As I was arriving back at the house and limping up the stairs I thought to myself, "last year, or even eight months ago, this would have just been a nice little jog."  I need to make it that way again, it's no one's fault but my own that 3 miles seems like an epic struggle right now.  I've had bad luck with injuries this year, but the real problem is I just lost my motivation somewhere along the way, too.

In January and February, I did push myself to come back from the same injury that cropped up again in September, and when I did start running, I made quick progress.  I had shin trouble in September, and just kept doing a whole lot of not very much for the next two months.

And even though I started running again earlier this month, it's been hard to tear myself away from work or get my lazy butt out there in bad weather to run.  Today's 3 miles in 28ish minutes (I'm guessing, forgot my watch) was a struggle, but it was great compared to the crash & burn 5K I had last week at the local Jingle Bell 5K, where it took me 3 walk breaks to finish the race.  (I accidentally erased my race review somehow, and am not especially inclined to rewrite it.)

The last few weeks have reminded me that I really don't like running in and of itself, and the only way to make it tolerable is to get myself in better shape so that I can run normal or longer distances without being a huge wheezy mess.  It also told me that there's basically no way I'm running a marathon in March, so we can write off "Comeback 2012" as a huge failure.  I'm now signed up for the half marathon at Shamrock, which seems like it might be more realistic.  Maybe a full later in the spring or in the fall of next year, or maybe never again, but that's a decision for when I'm not quite this negative.  I'd like to do at least one more full marathon, even if it's my last, but again...I'll worry about that when four miles doesn't seem like an insurmountable challenge.

This is how lazy and unmotivated I feel, lately.  Just not this cute.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Fifteen Weeks

On September 22, I stopped running.  It had been a tough September, with lots of pain in my left ankle and shins.  Two weeks earlier, I'd had to stop a run when the pain in my left leg just became too much.  I'd come back with a decent five miles and thought nothing of it, but after running my last race, the Sasquatch 5K (my wife reviewed it at "Never Trade", but I never bothered), it just been bonk after bonk after bonk. On September 22, I went down to the rail trail, knowing that if I was going to have any shot at all at the Atlantic City Half Marathon, which I was going to run with no expectation of PR, anyway, I had to have a good run.  I labored through 5 miles, getting only that far because I had to in order to get back to my car.

I called my orthopedist, I deferred from the race, and most significantly, I just quit. In January, when I couldn't run, I did everything I could to stay in shape and I got right back out there and made some quick progress in my spring races.  This time, I gave into my depression and did I ate and drank a lot and did a lot of sofa exercises (like sitting on a sofa.)  In early November, when my doctor got my MRI results back (diagnosis is shinsplits, or something similar, since the placement on the leg isn't the classic case of shinsplits) and said I could start running again, I took that as "Wow. I need a couple weeks at the gym to get myself back in shape a little."  And I tried, but in the meantime I'd gotten heavier than I'd ever been. 

I started doing the elliptical at the gym, doing 45 minutes with different inclines to work different muscles, but we all know that's not the same.  When I joined my wife for a session with her personal trainer on Monday, which I'm signed on for for the next 10 weeks, I got the rude awakening of out-of-shape I'd let myself get.

My long-overdue Day of Reckoning had come at last, and I ran again.  Two miles on Thursday and three miles today, which felt like 10 and 20 miles, respectively, but it was good to be out there again.  I have 15 weeks to get ready for my third -- and let's face it, quite possibly last -- marathon, and from here on out I'm going give it everything I've got, even if it's probably too late.  I know if I can get myself up to 6-7 miles by the end of December, I'll be at the place in which my 2011 Shamrock plan began (I was ahead of schedule then!).  I can't let fatigue, work stress, or fear of failure stop me.  If I CAN run, I have to do it.  There's just not time to slack off.  I'll need to work harder than I've worked before at running, and I suspect that the next three months will my make IT band rehab look like a walk in the park.

There's a chance.  Probably not a good chance.  But there's a still a chance a chance for the revenge I've sought all year.  And I'm going to take it. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Differential Diagnosis: Part 2 of ?: MRI

I went in for my MRI today.  There's not much more to say at this point, since my doctor hasn't seen the results yet, but that makes a crappy blog entry.

My MRI was scheduled for 8:00am this morning at the WellSpan Imaging Center in York.  First of all...8:00am?  I work from home, and lately it's been all I can do to be out of bed just barely in time to make coffee before starting work at 8:30.  Secondly, I'd never had an MRI before, and I was a little bit nervous.

Fortunately, the people at WellSpan Imaging could not possibly have been any nicer.  (Please note:  I do not yet know what my co-pay is on this.)  They answered all my questions, ran through a checklist to make sure I didn't have anything metal in my body (if you have a pacemaker, you can't have an MRI, for example) and then made sure I was comfortable on the machine before it started MRI-ing me.  

The MRI in question was a 2010 Hitachi Oasis, an open MRI, meaning I wasn't going into an enclosed tube like the thing they were always scanning people with on House.  

Anything that might have metal in it, including all my electronic gizmos had to be put in a locker, so I couldn't take any pictures.  However, the MRI at Wellspan looked exactly like this one (which is at the Carlisle Regional Medical Center):

Because I was only having my shin scanned, I didn't need to be all the way under the dome-like part of it (which I guess is the MRI itself), but really just my head was sticking out, and since the table was raised pretty high, I think I would have hit my nose if I were pushed in any further, making the experience a little claustrophobic.  It really wasn't too bad, though.  My only instructions were "try not to move your leg" and "don't freak out" (really it was "Press this call button if you need anything.")

Once the test begins, the main thing you'll notice is that an MRI is REALLY LOUD, with lots of banging and whirring noises indicating that its scanning.  Luckily, they'd provided me with foam earplugs and big headphones.  I'd requested a rock station, and ended up listening to the greatest hits of U2 through the whole 30-ish minute scan.  I have a friend who loathes U2, and at the beginning of each song I thought "I'm glad I'm not him."  To which I'm sure he'd reply, "I'm not the one stuck in an MRI machine at 8:00am!"

After the scan was over, the technicians lowered the platform down, and warned me that I would be dizzy for a few minutes.  They weren't kidding!  Apparently the MRI stimulates the balance center in the inner ear.  I didn't notice anything (other than how noisy the machine was and how tired I was) during the scan, but I felt a bit off-balance for about 5 minutes after the scan.

So, I learned something today. Just not anything about what's actually wrong with my leg.  Hopefully that's coming soon.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Differential Diagnosis: Part 1 of ?

I'm officially out of the AC Half Marathon with my shin/ankle/vein/whatever problems, and I went to the orthopedist on Tuesday.  

I got x-rays, which didn't show anything obviously wrong, and my doctor said I had decent leg and glute strength, which he ascertains by telling me to hold my leg in a certain position while tries to push it down.  He also used a tuning fork on my shin bones, the purpose of which seemed to be further testing for fractures.  There was only one tuning fork in the whole office, and he had to go hunting for it before doing the test.

It's probably shinsplints, but I'm getting sent for an MRI tomorrow morning.  I'll post those images on the blog, too, if I'm able to without violating HIPAA regulations or causing any expensive equipment to malfunction.

"It's not Lupus."

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Yeah? Well I Never Liked Running, Anyway!

This running year seems to be all about setbacks, and now it seems pretty certain that the AC Half Marathon isn't going to happen.  Well, it will probably still happen.  I'm almost certain it will.  I just probably won't be in it.

I've been a little behind where I should be in my training, but with cooler weather coming and a very flat course, I wasn't too worried.  I knew if I could get my long runs up to 8 or 9 miles that I could finish a half.  I wasn't going to break any PRs, but I could finish.  However, over the last two weeks it seems like even those modest goals are out of reach as I seem to be having some injury problems that are limiting me to around 3 miles or less.

It started two weeks ago, when I went out for a run and had to stop after about a mile and a half with lots pain in my calves and ankles.  No reason for panic, I'd missed my runs the previous week when work took over my life (again), and had spent a weekend on a roadtrip with some college friends and I'm sure I was still dehydrated.  I came back in the middle of the week with a better run.  We ran the Sasquatch 5K in York last Saturday.  It was a trail run, and our goal was to have fun, laugh at or run from bigfoot, and not kill ourselves since we're not really very accomplished trail runners.  

Since then, I just haven't had any success.  Another 1.5 mile bonk this past monday.  A little better on Wednesday, 3.5 miles before my left ankle and shin were just hurting too much.  Today, desperate for a good "long" run, I headed to the flatter rail trail.  I ran 3 miles north, feeling good for about 2 miles of it and bad for the last half mile.  I stopped to try to stretch my ankle out, and I realized that I didn't have the full range of motion in my left foot.  I'm not sure if it's related to my varicose vein, or if maybe I sprained my ankle at Sasquatch, or all of the above or none of the above, but it's time to get this checked into.  On the positive side, I did see a cute black and white kitty.

(I'm sitting on a bench, trying to flex my feet upward as much as possible.  
The left one just wasn't able to move as far as the right one.  That shouldn't happen, right?)

Through a combination of factors, both within and outside of my control (mostly my own stupid fault, though), I'd gotten myself in a situation regarding the AC Half where I just couldn't afford any setbacks.  I'm probably going to defer from this one, but hopefully whether it's rest, PT, or surgery on my varicose vein, I can get this taken care of pretty quickly so that I can still realistically train for the Shamrock Marathon in March.  I know if I can get myself back up to 7-8 miles by the end of the year, that I'll be in an ok starting point to train for it.  After that, I'm probably done with marathons, but getting back to Shamrock's been one of my goals this year, and I still think I can -- even if it's been mostly frustration along the way.

Ok.  We now return to our regularly scheduled blogging hiatus.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Bad Idea

I'm on pace for by far my worst-ever blogging month and my worst running month since February, when I had the excuse that I was coming back from a month off with injuries.  I really should be doing a better job with both.  As for blogging, there's actually a lot to write about, I just haven't found the time or motivation to write it lately.  But since I actually have a few post ideas rattling around in my brain these days, I'm going to stretch them out over the next week rather than doing a big catch-up post like I usually do.

My biggest running news is that I signed up for the Atlantic City Half Marathon.  It's unquestionably a bad idea.  The half marathon (and marathon) is on October 21, and here I am, on August 25, not having run more than 5 miles since the Fourth of July (6 miles).  My left leg has been giving me problems, my tailbone has been a pain in the ass*, and I'll be honest, I've been having trouble finding the time and motivation to run lately.  (That's a blog post that I probably won't ever get around to writing!)

Chris and I have been contemplating the AC Half for months, and she put together training plans for us.  Mine called for an 8-mile run today.  Problem:  I haven't run more than 5 in months and my last run was last Sunday in the burning desert of Las Vegas (more on this in a future post).  8 miles was too ambitious.  My plan was to try for it, but to be happy with 6 or 7, and I extended my usual out-and-back route accordingly.  It was a cool, if very humid morning, but I felt pretty good.  Unfortunately, by extending my route, I hit some steep hills that I'm just not ready for these days.  By the time I'd hit the 4-mile mark, my left leg was in a lot of pain.  

Chris' training plan calls for a step-back week every other week, so next weekend is a 4-miler.   Yeah, no.  I've got to do a good job lifting this week, get the midweek runs in, and bust out a 6-8 miler.  The whole summer has been a step-back week, and my day of reckoning is fast approaching.

*So, back in July I wrote my Spartan Race reviews and said I wasn't sure if I would do one again.  Well, I'm sure now.  No way.  My tailbone still isn't all the way healed a month and a half later because of a stupid slip'n'slide of all things and it's been a pretty big setback to my running.  Seriously, screw Spartan Race.  I'm proud of how Chris and I did, and I do have some good memories of it, but I'm definitely a one-and-done Spartan.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Going for Gold

I'm addicted to the Olympics.  I don't know why.  I don't watch a second of track & field, soccer, swimming, gymnastics, indoor volleyball, boxing, and a whole bunch of other silly sports (seriously...who invented some of these things?) the rest of the year, but for those 2 weeks every four years, I can't get enough.

But I'm a little concerned.  Let's take a look at the medal count:

China is leading the U.S. 64-63 in total medal count and 31-29 in the all-important gold medal count.

The U.S. swim team did a great job again this year, Gabby Douglas certainly did her part, and this year's version of the dream team, led by 76er Andre Iguodala, seem to be up to the task. Still, I can't help but notice that China completely dominates diving and table tennis, which remain in the Olympics, while softball (where the U.S. women were dominant) and baseball (where the U.S. would be at least a medal contender) are gone.

I don't think this is fair.  It's time to add some other sports to the Olympics:

American Football (aka Football) -- The rest of the world loves it.  Who cares that they might not play it outside the U.S.  We don't dive, do gymnastics, play table tennis, play soccer, or do synchronized anything here in the U.S.  It will instantly be the most popular Olympic sport.  We can even give the national team Rich Kotite as coach, just to make it interesting, and we'd still win. 

Beer Pong -- I don't think this requires further explanation.  If table tennis is an Olympic sport, why not this?

Spartan Race -- The rest of the world probably thinks this is stupid.  They're right, so we'd dominate.

Bowling -- Again, look at some of the things that are in the Olympics and tell me that bowling doesn't belong.  There's several gold medals to be had here.

Poker -- It's on ESPN.  Therefore, it's a sport. 

Americaball -- the rest of the world can't win if we never tell them the rules.  USA!! USA!!  USA!!  It comes in Men's, Women's, Team, Mixed Doubles, and Synchronized versions to allow for lots of Gold Medals.

Come on, U.S. Olympic Committee, you have just a few days to get this done!  There's still time to go for the gold!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The ABCs of Being Pain Free?

I ran just 10 miles this week, but that's not important.  What is important is I ran 10 miles without a hint of trouble from my shins or varicose vein, and I'm cautiously optimistic that I've found the fix for it.  And by "I've found the fix for it", I mean Chris told me something to try that seems to have worked.

It's writing the alphabet in the air with my toes.  Here's an example that's a little more thorough than what I've been doing:

Please note that I can't endorse all the Red Sox stuff in the background, but this seems like a good example.  I've just been writing through the alphabet once or twice several times a day while I'm working or watching TV and before I run.  I've been doing a little better with strength training lately, which may be helping, but I've noticed I didn't have any exercises for the muscles on/next to my shins, which is where I have so much trouble on my left leg.  This alphabet thing seems like it fills that void in my workout routine.

Now, my quads were another story.  My quads felt weak (I blame last night's fencing class for this) throughout the run, I've clearly lost some conditioning over the past month, and it was digustingly humid and warm this morning.  A four-mile run (per my training plan) that I wanted to turn into a six-mile run since my shins and ankles felt so great ended up a five-mile run when I felt like I was going to overheat if I went another mile.

So today, I lost the battle.  But for the first time in quite awhile, I think I'm going to win the war and be ready for a fall half marathon and spring full marathon.

And since this post is boring and people come here for the cat pictures, here's Higgy helping me work. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Trying to Come Back...Again & Some Off-Topic Fun

I went on my first run since the unfortunate events of Spartan Race. I'd gotten up to run a few other times over the past week and a half, but aborted due to either weather (Saturday), too much pain in the tailbone area (several days last week), getting home at 4am after an excellent Dream Theater concert in Atlantic City (Sunday), waking up too late (Monday), or staying up all night working on Monday night (Tuesday).

I decided that I'd run out of excuses, and so this evening I ended up running 3 miles in 28:46.

It felt like 20 miles.

It was a gorgeous evening, but in the 80s and still Sunny at 6:15ish when I hit the roads. I'm not used to running in the 80s, so I've got to either get out earlier and beat the heat, like I did last summer, or perhaps try 9 or 10 at night, when it may be a few degrees warmer than 6am, but less humid and no sun. We'll see.

At any rate, I feel like I'm starting over and I'm not sure that's necessarily a bad thing. After a pretty good start, the comeback had badly stalled over the last two months. And I do have a plan this time, but I have to save something for my next blog post, right?


(So, how was the concert, Brian?)

It was great, thanks for asking. For those unfamiliar with Dream Theater, who have failed to achieve the level of fame that their talent deserves, they are a progressive metal band (I don't really know what "progressive" rock means, but think Queensryche or Rush, but heavier) that I've been listening to since high school, when they released Images and Words, which features their best-known song, "Pull Me Under" (which is still not THAT well-known) and Awake, their best selling album to date, in 1992 and 1994, respectively.

However, I was unforgivably behind on their albums. It's easy to lose track of them, since they're more of a cult following-type band then a widely-known band and most of their songs are at least 10 minutes long so that they get almost zero airplay. So last week was spent working long hours and "cramming" for the concert any time I wasn't on conference calls. Except for the side of effect of this metal marathon turning our kitten evil, it was time well spent. Their last three albums, Systematic Chaos, Black Clouds and Silver Linings, and A Dramatic Turn of Events are all excellent, all with Dream Theater's distinct combination of metal and melody.

At any rate, the concert was excellent, with a good mix of old stuff and new stuff that left me feeling evil...but also uplifted at the same time. Musically, they're just amazing. Guitarist John Petrucci, bassist John Myung, keyboardist Jordan Rudess and drummer Mike Mangini on the drums (replacing long-time DT-er Mike Portnoy) are all at incredible. And they like to show off; almost every song has long instrumental bridges between verses, during which lead singer James Labrie wanders off stage to (I assume) play Angry Birds.

Their newer stuff is heavier than their earlier albums, and heavier than I what I usually listen to, but the frequency with which they change mood and speed from heavy to melodic and the vocal range of Labrie, and their often contemplative lyrics make them always interesting to listen to and also made me glad I'd done my homework and caught up before seeing them live. If you like metal or hard rock, check 'em out...these guys can make anything sound epic.

And, during their intro, they also had these cartoon versions of themselves playing on the three screens above the stage. Fun!

Ok, we'll now resume our regular running and complaining about running blog posts.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Post-Spartan Blues

The Spartan warriors are celebrated in history and popular culture not because of their own military triumph, but because they sacrificed themselves at the Battle of Thermopylae. (Remember, this is a crappy running blog, not a history lesson.  I'm going to over-generalize things like this.) So, if you run something called a "Spartan Race", it seems appropriate that you're out of commission for at least a little while.

That's what I'm telling myself, anyway.  

My legs felt really good after the Spartan Sprint, though my ankles were a bit wobbly the next two days.  It's my bruised (I think it's just bruised, because it does feel significantly better than it did on Sunday and Monday) tailbone that has kept me off the roads all week.  I'm hoping to get out for 3-5 miles tomorrow morning, but I was hoping to do so yesterday and today, too.  If not tomorrow, I think by next week I'll be able to return to normal activities.

Missing a week of running won't kill me, and it'll probably help to rest my legs.  But I did end up skipping the Harrisburg Mile on Wednesday, which means the 5:59 mile won't happen this year.  It probably wasn't going to anyway...but still.

I've gone back and forth about whether I'd do a Spartan Race again.  On one hand, I'd like to try again to see if I could do better.  I swore right after my first marathon that I'd never do another one, but by the time we got home from VA Beach I knew I wanted another shot.

On the other hand, note the disclaimer:

I'm sitting here a week later alive but with a not catastrophic injury by any means, but still a significant one that's kept me from even attempting one of my goal races for the year.

Maybe this is just one better checked off the bucket list.  (Note to self:  Start a bucket list and cross "Ridiculous Obstacle Race" off of it.)

Chris and I had a funny conversation yesterday with my Dad about the Spartan Race:

Brian's Dad:  "Why did you do this again?"

Brian:  (several seconds of dumbfounded silence)......"But Dad, free beer!"

So, we'll see.  This is probably the end of obstacle races for me this year, but who knows what the running future holds?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Pain, the Blood, and the Gore: Race Report Part 2: Pennsylvania Spartan Sprint 2012

In my previous post, I tried to describe my experience at the Spartan Sprint PA.  In this post I'd like to review the event itself in terms of organization, strengths and, in my opinion, a few things that could be done to improve the event, as well as my critique of my own performance and what I would do differently.

Race Review 
This race was a unique experience, and three days later I'm still not sure how I feel about this one.  Did I enjoy it?  Parts of it I enjoyed very much.  Other parts were less enjoyable, and some parts made my question my own sanity and that of the course designers.  Would I do it again?  I'm not sure.  Am I glad I did it?  Absolutely.  It was an adventure, a great story, and a unique challenge that my best friend and I triumphed over together.  I went in as a somewhat jaded marathoner ("Whatever.  It's five miles.") and left with a true sense of accomplishment (despite all my burpees!).

The Pennsylvania Spartan Sprint definitely lived up to Spartan Race's billing as a super-tough obstacle race.   Sadistic, even.  (Having the monkey bars right after the pancakes?  Evil!).  The ascents and descents were brutal.  While I wouldn't say I enjoyed all the obstacles, I would say that they were generally well-designed to be challenging.  Some of them were really fun.  The mud pits were fun.  Climbing walls is fun.  Rope ladder is fun.  Spear toss, fun, even though I failed. Jumping over fire was cool, too.  And I think the others were generally tough but fair.  Being tall is an advantage the higher walls, but Chris and I both found ways over them, despite our vertical challenged-ness.  There was a mental aspect to most of the challenges that made them enjoyable.  Not just "can I do it?", but "what's the best way for me to do it?"

That said, I think they should change how they market this race.  Here's how a Spartan Sprint, the shortest Spartan Race distance, is described on their website:

Spartan Sprint - 3+ MILES / 15+ OBSTACLES. The challenging sprint obstacle trail races are a great way to get off your couch and start living. From beginner trail racers and mud run participants to hardcore warriors, tough guys and marathon runners, they all come out to test themselves on the insane obstacle races! 99.9% of all people who try this event will finish, and 100% will have their thirst for mud & trail racing fully satisfied! 

This is how they described the 2012 Pennsylvania Spartan Sprint (from their facebook page):

Spartan Staffers are currently testing out the PA Sprint course and the verdict is in! Our Pennsylvania event will go down as the toughest Sprint we've ever done.

More (from a congratulatory e-mail):
Hey PASpartans! Congrats on finishing the race! Spartan Sprint Races are typically 5K long...but we thought you were tough enough and made the course ~5 miles long!

Don't underestimate your potential! You are much stronger than you think!
It's cool to know I finished their toughest Sprint ever.  It also seems that the element of surprise and the challenge of the unknown are important parts of the Spartan Race mystique that the company is trying to build.  No course maps, no exact mileage given, and people only give vague hints given by on-course volunteers about inquiries about what's next, etc.  But when people sign up for "3+" mile Sprint, to then late in the game make it "The toughest sprint ever" and 5 miles long on really, really challenging terrain, well, I feel that crosses the line from badass/challenging to dangerous.   Two extra miles on this type of terrain is nothing to sneeze at.

I personally would warn anyone that when Spartan Race says a race is tough, they mean business.  (There's a lot of mud/obstacle race series out there now, and it seems as if there are several different niches of difficulty level, and the differences might not be apparent from descriptions or websites).  I just think people signing up for this should have had a little better idea of what they were in for.  

I'm not advocating making the course easier, or  suggesting that organizers shouldn't take full advantage of the rough terrain. I think just some fair warning for people before they sign up that this is longer and more brutal than a typical sprint would be a positive. Call it a mini-beast or just mention that this is significantly longer (again, two miles on this type of terrain is no small thing!) and tougher than a typical sprint.

One obstacle that I do have some really negative feedback on is the one I was looking forward to the most.  I either broke or bruised my coccyx on a rock underneath the slip 'n' slide.  While there were some obstacles I couldn't complete and I did some burpees, I felt like the slide was the only one where I was completely at the mercy of the course.  On the hills, I could choose to press for speed or  to go slow and steady.  I could choose my own strategy to carry Spartan pancakes.  On walls that appeared to tall for me, I was able to pause and think of ways to climb up (or I could have done the burpees).   On the slip 'n' slide, I slid into a lake and there was nothing at all I could have really done to try to avoid injury.  I enjoyed every second of the slide until I landed in the water in immense pain, but on this obstacle I feel (in hindsight) like I was completely and totally at the mercy of nature and Spartan Race for the only point in the whole race.

Please don't think this just sour grapes from a guy not up to the challenge.  I did finish, and in the process of doing so I got over obstacles that I didn't think I could, pushed my mind and body to the limit, and I found the experience of finishing to be very rewarding.  I am no stranger to endurance sports with two marathons under my belt (and more on the way next year) in addition to two half marathons and more races than I can remember at shorter distances.

One thing that was really disappointing was that when my wife and I finished, the food vendors were closed and the merchandise tent was closing.  We started at 3:30 and did take 5 hours, so I know that our performance wasn't great, but we still rose to the challenge and had a memorable experience and we were by no means the last to finish.  I think those last finishers deserve the same finish experience as anyone who finished earlier and/or faster.  God forbid I want a cheesesteak or to buy a second beer after one of the most physically and mentally demanding things I've ever done!  (Thank you to the Long Trail Ale table for staying open!) And I didn't want to buy a hat or sweatshirt until after the event because what if I'd hated it, or worse yet, didn't finish?
I also thought all the staff and volunteers were responsive and extremely encouraging.  The EMT who rushed to assist me at the bottom of the slip 'n' slide was both professional in trying to make sure that I could physically go on but also understanding of me in the challenging situation of being in immense pain while also trying to make the go/no go decision, and in general there seem to have been adequate and responsive staffing to make this even relatively safe. In talking about the staff I must also say that I really appreciate the Race Director taking the time to read and respond to my previous post.  (He mentioned that elite Spartan Racer Hobie Call ran the whole course with the exception of the uphill sandbag I'm glad it's not just my imagination that this obstacle was super tough.)

The camaraderie and collaboration among participants was superb and I think was my favorite part of the event.  For example, everyone held the bottom of the rope ladder for the people after them, and I was happy to return the favor when I could help boost some people up some of the walls.  

The registration/bag check seemed well-organized and I appreciated that there was a post-race cleanup station and locker rooms. The medal and t-shirt are very cool, too. And I also wanted to add that honestly, I can't imagine the level of work that goes into setting up events like this one quickly and repeatedly throughout the country.  Spartan Races and other obstacle events seem to be quite a bit more expensive than similarly distanced road races, but it's easy to see why that's so.

Performance Review
Despite doing a decent amount of burpees, I'm pretty happy with how I did on the obstacles. I climbed high walls that I didn't think I'd be able to get up.  I gave a good effort on the monkey bars.  I don't kick myself for not being able to flip the tires.  That was so far outside the realm of objects that I'm able to lift that I was glad to take the burpees.  I should have been able to do the pulley obstacle...I know I can lift 60 pounds.  

If someone asked me what advice I'd give them about preparing for a Spartan Race, I'd say "Go ask Hobie Call instead of me."  But, if they insisted, I'd say do a lot of hill repeats and try to get really good at doing pull-ups.  

I'd say don't really worry about being a really good distance runner, just being in overall good cardiovascular shape and having good upper-body strength are more important than being able to actually able to run the whole course distance.  On this particular course, I, and I suspect the average participant, didn't do a great deal of running.  More upper body strength would have helped me quite a bit, though.  I think that even in my peak of lifting back in 2009 that I couldn't have gotten up a rope climb as high as the one on the course or flipped the 200lb tire, but I might have been able to pull myself up over some of the walls without having to precariously climb up the support beams.
In general, I still think of myself as a road runner and marathoner more than an obstacle race runner or ultra-endurance or multisport athlete, and I'll always run more "regular" races. I said after Mud Chasers, which was a cakewalk compared to this, that I wasn't sure that these mud runs were my cup of tea and I stand by that. But I'm grateful for the experience of this Spartan Race, because after finishing this unique and uniquely challenging experience, I feel like I can do anything.   

Overcome injury to get back in marathon shape?  Absolutely.  I've been through hell and back again.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ow, My Ass! -- Race Report Part 1: Pennsylvania Spartan Sprint 2012

(This issue of "Earn Your Donuts" is probably going to be more vulgar and profanity-laced than usual.  Don't say I didn't warn you.)  

I had three goals for Saturday's Pennsylvania Spartan Sprint:

1. Finish
2. Don't get hurt
3  Don't sack my nuts

Two out of three ain't bad.

This race, if you can even call it that, held at the Blue Mountain Ski resort in Palmerton PA, was absolutely brutal.

I've run two marathons.  The five miles I traversed (It's not fair to say "ran", as we'll get to in a minute) on Saturday took roughly the same amount of time as each of them and were at least as -- if not more -- challenging.  I expected the Spartan Sprint to be a good deal more challenging than the only other mud/obstacle race I'd ever done, Mud Chasers, but I was completely shocked by how tough this was.

Chris and I left for the race, two hours away in the Lehigh Valley, at 11:00 and arrived around 1:30.  Our heat started at 3:30, but we were anticipating getting lost along the way and having to take a shuttle from the parking lot the staging area.  Neither occurred.  We found Blue Mountain easily and parked right by the starting area.  This gave us a chance to pick up our packets, liberally apply sunscreen, write our race ID numbers on each others' arms, legs, and foreheads so that they'd be able to identify our bodies, and gaze in terror up the steep inclines that we could see runners in the earlier heats ascending.  

We could see several places on the mountain where runners were ascending or descending.  In some places, they seemed to be moving quickly, in others it seemed as though they were standing still.  From our parking lot vantage point, we could see rope climb, an obstacle both of us were pessimistic about, but not much else.

At about 2:30, the rest of Team For The Love of the Run arrived, and after they picked up their packets, we chatted for a few minutes, dropped off our bags, and then it was time to head for the starting area.  There was a little too much pomp and circumstance at the start for my taste.  There was a bit of a speech from one of the race organizers about the triumphant weight loss journey of Chris Davis -- no, not the Orioles' designated hitter -- a guy who is going from almost 700lbs to under 200lbs with Spartan races as a goal and part of his training; some Spartany type cheers from a guy in Spartan warrior garb ("Who are you?"  Spartans!"  "No...I'm just Brian.")

Then, to the cliched sound of Dropkick Murphy's "Shipping up to Boston", our heat began and we charged up the hill.  I will try to describe the course as best as I can remember it, but as I outline the obstacles that we faced, I cannot emphasize enough that the mountain itself was the most fundamental obstacle.  I train on hills.  I live in a hilly area.  I ran a 10K a few weeks ago that brags about how hilly it is.  I'm not afraid hills.  This was not hilly.  This was insane.  The steepness of both the uphills and the downhills made it so that we did very little running during the race, instead treading carefully.  The race began with a steep uphill.  I'd love to give estimates of time or distance, but with no GPS or even a watch, I can't even guess.  I just know that it took us five hours to a little more than five miles.  I apologize if these aren't in the right order...I'm going off of painful, painful memory.

The course began with a steep climb with no obstacles.  As we turned downhill, things started to get fun as obstacles started to appear.  These first obstacles came in the form of walls to climb or vault over and "Spartan Windows", taller walls with window-shaped holes that you could climb or hop through.  I did well at these, I was able jump a little grab the top of the wall (4 feet high) and jump up and vault over it, or some that were a little higher, get my feet up and jump over it.  Chris and I had very different, but equally effective techniques for the windows.  She went through backward, I grabbed the top and swung through.  Nothing so far to challenge my badassness.

The next obstacles were a steep hill that you walked up by climbing  a rope.  There were several of these throughout the course, and they were fun!  Not so fun was what appeared next, a legitimate rope climb, the scourge of middle school Brian and still not something I can do.  I think on dry ground I'd have a shot at this, but the bottom of the rope was down in a 2.5ft (guessing) mud pit, and I either couldn't get my feet high enough to get purchase or there was an under-mud knot that I just wasn't finding.  

The penalty for failing or skipping an obstacle was 30 burpees (get down in a crouch, kick your feet back as if you were going to do pushups, pull back into a crouch, and stand or hop).  I burped 'em out, no problem.  Burpees would become more frequent and progressively harder throughout the day.

After this, and then a steep, endless climb up the mountain.  No obstacles for a long time, just the steep ascent.  I felt decent during this, and we paced ourselves, but IT JUST DIDN'T END!  Eventually, though, the course briefly leveled off, to allow participants to fill big buckets 3/4 of the way with gravel (gee, thanks!), and carry them around a several-hundred foot course.  I did really well at this.  I know that I'm at my strongest when I can carry something on my shoulder or above my head, and so I got the bucket up on my shoulder and just concentrated on not putting it down.  There were bales of hay to step over, but I navigated this obstacle pretty easily.  Another rope-assisted hill climb, and then more, unending ascent up the mountain.

Finally, we neared the summit, and the course started to level off for real.  There was a rope ladder to climb over, which was tough but fun and a good example of the teamwork that existed throughout the course.  As we climbed, the people who went ahead of us held the bottom of the ladder steady, and then we in turn held it for the next racers.  Nice.

Thusly, we came to the top of the mountain and what I feel was the single most devastating obstacle of them all.  The aforementioned Chris Davis was camped out here, serving "Spartan Pancakes".  Mmm...pancakes.  No!  Emphatically no!  Instead of delicious syrupy breakfast pastries, these pancakes are 40lb (for the guys) or 20lb (for the girls) pillows (for lack of a better word) that needed to be carried.  A course volunteer said "Head down Nightmare and back up The Razor's Edge".  Ominous?  Yeah.  These are the names of two double-diamond (tough) ski slopes.  Carrying the pillows (really sandbags) down was not so bad.  It was steep, but the the terrain was clear.

Going up?  Hell.  Pure hell.  The uphill climb seemed straight vertical, and you had the choice of either a slippery, grassy right side of the slope or the more traveled left side, with sharp rocks.  I started on the right, and it was literally take one step forward and slide two steps back.  I'll be honest, I was ready to quit here. This equaled the discouraging, defeated feeling I had when I bonked at the Philly Marathon, but this time Chris was there to encourage me. 

The rocky side was a little better, but the incline just made it hard to make progress.  Everybody had their own way of coping with this obstacle, and I finally found a "system" that worked for me, basically, pick the thing and scramble uphill forward as fast I could for as long as I could (usually about 30 feet -- I think?), drop my pancake, and sit on it so it wouldn't roll or slide down at all.  It wouldn't surprise me if we spent 30 or even 45 minutes on this probably quarter-mile uphill torture chamber.

Once we'd climbed back up The Razor's Edge, we were back at the summit and almost immediately -- Monkey Bars.  D'oh.  I have a fighting chance at Monkey Bars, but after the pancakes?  No fucking way. One of the volunteers yelled on the way to the bars "You don't have to get all the way through, just touch bar at the end.  Still, maybe I should just take the burpees.  You know what?  I gave it a good try.  It was probably about 20 feet and I made it to the last bar.  Arms failing, I swung my feet for the bar, hit and dropped, and was ordered to 30 burpees.  Sorry to say, but I went into Angry Brian mode and cursed out the person in charge of monkey bars, but I should have been mad at the guy that had given me some false info.

The next obstacle, just past the bars, was a pulley that was used to lift a cement block in the air.  Supposedly the guys' were 60 pounds, but I just couldn't do this.  I sat on the ground and pulled (the suggested way to do this) but the weight of the block kept lifting me into the air.  I weigh 145 pounds, so I don't understand this.  I probably should have been able to figure out this one, but still frustrated from the monkey bars, I took the burpees.

After the pulleys, we had a long trek downhill through the forests and at times across the ski slopes.  At times, the footing was very treacherous.  We kept our pace, but like the uphill sections, these long downhill stretches just seemed to go on forever, and with no idea of time or mileage it was frustrating.

The next obstacle we came to was were two high walls to climb over.  These walls were higher than I could "vault" over.  I tried to jump up, grab the top, and haul myself up, but I just wasn't tall enough and to be honest didn't have the arm strength.  However, mind over matter prevailed.  On we are able to use the triangular support beams that held the wall up, climbing up them to get over the wall.  Other participants and the volunteers at the station gave us some helping, telling us where to put our feet since it was hard to see down.

I wasn't sure I'd be able to get over a wall this high, and as we descended back into the woods Chris and I high-fived, badassness restored.  We had another long descent through the woods, and the whole time I was saying to Chris and race volunteers that we encountered "There had better be a Slip'n'Slide somewhere soon!".  

Instead, the next race was a series of 2-foot log posts driven into the ground about 3 feet (guessing) apart.  The idea was to make it across 10 or so posts without falling to the ground.  Being short seemed like a big disadvantage here, and I didn't make it past the second post before I was off doing 30 burpees.  At this point, I was having to take little breaks to make it 3 sets of 10 burpees.

Next was a fun one.   A windy path in the woods and a jump over a ravine took us to a series of huge mud mounds with muddy pools in between.  I hopped into the water of the first pool, and was surprised by its depth.  Instead of being a negative, this made it more fun because I could confidently take a big jump into each pool. last!  The obstacle I'd been looking forward to the whole race, a big Slip 'n' Slide into a lake.  This was gonna be fun!  And it was!  I was laughing gleefully the whole way to the bottom....until the moment a big rock underneath the slide nailed me right in the sphincter!!!

I was in immense pain.  I half-crawled, half-swam to the shore where I dragged myself up on the rocky "beach".  A volunteer, who turned out to be an EMT came over and helped me up, leading me over to a bale of hay that I sat down on for several minutes.  At some point, Chris made it safely down the slide and came over.  I didn't want to give up yet, but I also didn't think I could stand.  I was in a lot of pain, but we'd come so far and I didn't want to give up when the had to be near.  With help from Chris, I stood.  The EMT checked to try to see if I'd broken anything.  I guess there was nothing obviously broken (more on this later in the week), and I decided to continue.  The pain was bad but seemed manageable.Of course it had been the obstacle that I was most looking forward to that I got hurt on!

We swam through the lake, going underneath some floating barrels.  The next obstacle involved dragging 30 pound rocks up and down a loop course that went downhill, into a lake, and then back up the hill. This was not terrible, but I think me levels of rage and adrenaline were just so high that I could have powered through almost anything at this point.

That said, what came next was awful.  A long narrow (100 feet?  longer?) field of hardened mud and rocks, with barbed wire strung approximately a foot and a half high, which we had to crawl under.  According to the volunteers, the best way to go through this was to roll rather than crawl.  I went as fast as could, covering the obstacle quickly but developing a huge headache from dizziness in the process.  There were also some mounds that forced the rollers to crawl for awhile.  And there were guys shooting at us with a big pressure hose.  I think I let loose on them with a string of profanities that would have been not out of place in a Tarantino flick.

I came to the end of the barbed wire field, I climbed over a fence, rested for a minute, and then helped give some other runners a boost over.  Then, more barbed wire to roll under.  This barbed wire seemed lower, but the second field was mercifully shorter and flatter.  

The ground was flat here, and Chris and I ran for awhile, hoping to end our suffering as quickly as possible.  The next obstacle was huge monster truck tries, that we had to lift up and roll onto and then off a post four times.  I could barely lift my tire off the ground, much less roll it.  Burpees ensured.  I don't feel too bad about this one, the volunteer at this station, who had run the course earlier that morning, said that he was estimating their weight at 200-250lbs each. 

Next obstacle:  Traverse wall=climb sideways on a wood wall on which the hand and footholds were brick sized wooden blocks.  My arms were toast at this point.  Burpees.

Next obstacle.  Spear throw.  I gave a good effort and chucked my spear with all my might.  It went far enough but unfortunately had a little too much spin on it and bounced off the target.  By spin, I mean that it was going end-over-end.  Burpees.

Jump over fire.  Badass.  (And relatively easy!)

Next, another rope-up-hill obstacle.  This time, the hill was really just a wooden structure with a rubber mat on it, that volunteers were spraying with a pressure hose.  I did well on these rope-hill-climb obstacles all day and did well on this one.  

Chris and I got over the top with just one obstacle to go...pugil stick armed Spartan warriors guarding the finish line.  At this point, however, these guys were only really making a token effort to hit runners, and I was making a token attempt to deflect the pugil sticks, and I with a noticeable absence of any Spartan war cry, I "leaped" over the finish line, victorious(?).

For our troubles:  A medal, a t-shirt, a delicious "free" Long Trail IPA, more bumps and bruises than I can count, memories -- both good and bad -- of a unique experience, and a broken ass.

At least I didn't sack my nuts.

It took me long enough to write this post that I didn't feel like grabbing photos of every obstacle from Spartan Race's facebook, where there are tons of photos of the event.

Spartan Race Facebook: Photos from Saturday (Spartan Sprint and Kid's Race) 

WPHL 17 (Philly TV) coverage with photos and video 
Coming in "Part 2" -- Thoughts on the Strengths and Areas for Improvement for the event, and more personally where I think I did well and could improve, and where I think this leaves me as a runner.  I've got some very good things to say about the race, and some constructive criticisms, too.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The July Blog Post's gotten a little dusty around here, hasn't it?  I think this is the longest I've gone without a post since starting this blog, in this case mostly due to lack of time, but also because I've been pretty uninspired lately and several "I went running around Manchester and Mt. Wolf for 5-6 miles and it was humid my legs felt crappy" posts in a row don't do anyone any good at all.

Still, a few interesting things going on...

1. This is SPARTA!!
So, yeah, this Spartan Sprint race thing is tomorrow.  It's going to be 5ish, muddy, hilly, obstacle miles and I'll probably die because that's about the distance I'm stuck on lately, and other than two trips over to the playground, I haven't trained for any of the obstacles. I'll put up a very self-deprecating race report on Monday.

2. Time to Hit the Old, Dusty Trail...

In my minimal Spartan Race training, I went with Chris on my first ever real trail run on Saturday.  (I don't count the rail trail).  We ran about 3 miles in 40 minutes on the Lakeside Trail and Old Farm Trial at Gifford Pinchot State Park, in northern York County.  It was challenging, fun, and most importantly, shady.  The day was scorchingly hot (highs got up to 102 and it was in the 80s that morning). but the shade kept it much cooler, albeit still very humid in the woods.  It's definitely something to mix in, although I need to really start adding distance to have a shot at a half marathon in the fall, and my paralyzing fear of snakes probably will keep me from being a more than occasional trail runner, anyway.

Photos from Chris at, who ran with me on Saturday and had run the same paths the previous weekend by herself.

3. It's Just One Mile...
If I feel ok after Spartan Race, and even if I don't, I'll probably try the Harrisburg Mile next Wednesday.  I've had the busiest two months of work of my life, and I haven't done any speed training, and am indeed barely hanging on as a runner in general lately.  But even though my chances of a sub-six-minute and even a new PR are probably not good, I realize that I'm probably approaching the end of my natural peak as far as speed and I'm running out of chances.  I'm 35, and without changing my training style it's probably downhill from here in the next year or two.

Because I've never really done speedwork, I think I can speed train myself to better results in the future (so the quest for 5:59 isn't over even if I bomb -- as anticipated -- this year!) even if my natural speed declines.  However, I think in a year where I've already gotten new 10K, 8K, and 5K PRs, that there's no reason to not try the mile.  Plus, there's free beer at the end.  Free beer.

So, that's probably two race reports next week, and then this unofficial blogging hiatus will likely continue.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Crashing and Burning

This post isn't meant to be as doom and gloom and the title indicates; it just hasn't been that good a week of running.  I had a gorgeous morning on Tuesday but could only put together 5 miles because of discomfort in the mystery bump area around my left ankle and shin.  I had a little bit of  a comeback on Thursday and managed 6 hillier miles despite the warmer morning.  Today, on an oppressively humid morning, I ran 5 again.  I hate the heat, but I should be able to do more than legs just didn't feel well enough.  I had the same pain and weakness in the lower left leg, and the left quad was very achy, too.  I'm not sure if the culprit is fencing, Dreaded Druid Hills, one of my runs on this week, or something else I'm forgetting.

I need to find something that can help me make that left leg strong again, whether it's more (any!) strength training, exploring more medical options, or something else, compression socks and foam rolling alone just aren't cutting it.  As Chris said last night as we left our fencing class at the Y, I'd also be very grateful if someone invented an air-conditioned bodysuit.

(NOT an air-conditioned bodysuit)

Speaking of fencing, the last two weeks of fencing have been really fun.  Instead of just working on footwork and different blade moves (lunge, parry, repost, etc.) we've spent the whole class in round-robin tournament.  I know practice is important, but this is a lot more fun!

I'm holding my own, at 4-1 over the past two weeks, and came in second last week and this week we didn't total it up.  I think I tend to press my attack too much, because I really don't parry (defend) well at all.  I should have another loss, too, Chris got totally hosed by the judges (other members of the class) in her bout against me last week!   It's fun, but I'm still not sure I have any real desire to enter competitions or take it more seriously than just the class.

But enough about that.  You don't come to this blog for running, or fencing, or me complaining about my stupid legs.  You're here for the KITTENS!!!!

("You work. I'll lie under your desk and purr.")

Friday, June 29, 2012

Monkeying Around

Signing up for the Spartan Race was definitely a bad idea.  I definitely won't be ready for it, but I am trying to make sure I'm not completely unready.  Chris and I headed over to the local park at lunchtime on Tuesday, since she has Tuesdays off and I, as usual, was working from home. 

We ran approximately a half-mile from her car to the playground, where there were some pieces of playground equipment that we hoped would simulate some of the Spartan Race obstacles.

The first thing we tried was the rock climb.  It's really made of plastic...a mini version of a climbing wall.  Getting up it is pretty easy, getting over it to climb down is not so easy, especially because there's the possibility of discomfort to one' know.  Anyway, I did pretty well at this.

I was also able to make three successful crossings on the monkey bars while we were there, so I hope that bodes well, since I'm sure there will be some similar thing at Spartan Race.  Hopefully it's not too much longer than these, or I'm probably falling in water, mud, fire, spikes, alligators, or whatever.

I think the idea of monkey bars it to really brachiate like a monkey, swinging by the arms and shoulders.  I'm not every good at this.  As seen in the picture above, I'm holding most of my weight with my upper arms and just kind of going hand over hand rather than really swinging.  On my third attempt, I tried to swing a little bit more:

We also tried some of the other obstacles, as well as climbing up the sliding boards (and then sliding down, just for fun!) just kind of running around like idiots that would sign up for an obstacle race. 

The above obstacle was one we tried several times.  It's challenging because it's curved, you go up a concave side and climb down the convex side, or vice versa, which makes getting over the top a challenge, but we both did well in this.  I think we're probably more likely to encounter a standard rope laddery thing, anyway.  

Chris excelled at these, I did not:

I think the Spartan Race equivalent is just round wooden posts that are driven into the ground.  They'll probably be smaller than these, but some of these bounced up and down and others spun, which usually caused me to fall off.

We'll head back a couple more times to practice.  It was fun and tiring, but I'll probably still fall to my bloody and embarrasing death during the race.

I've done ok in running this week:  a kind of disappointing 5 miles on Tuesday morning when it was cool and beautiful, but I think I was probably still sore from Dreaded Druid Hills.  I'm also going to shelve the Brooks Adrenalines for a few weeks until I get back into a little bit more consistency.  I think they're more comfortable overall than the Adidas, but until I get some strength back, the lightness of the AdiZero Tempos seems to be helping. I'm having all my best runs in them, lately.  I ran six hilly miles on Thursday morning, which I'll probably count as my "long" run for the week because it is supposed to 1000F tomorrow.

Monday, June 25, 2012

So, Where Do I Go From Here?

 This is has been an interesting running year, to say the least.  I've hit rock bottom, deferring from what was going to be my third marathon, but I've also salvaged the year thus far with some success at the shorter distances, including new PRs in the 5K, 8K, and a 10K that is such a ridiculous outlier from any other 6 miles I've ever run that I question the accuracy of the course measurement. I've had some other good, fun races too, at the Sole of the City 10K and the YMCA Armed Forces Day 10, and even my return race at the St. Patrick's Day Parade 5K was a good effort.

I'm in another slump, of late.  I try to keep this blog mostly focused on its core subject matter -- running and pictures of cats -- but basically in the first six months of the year, I've done approximately a whole year's worth of work.  Great for my company's bottom line, I hope, but the late nights have not made for many good morning runs, or any morning runs, period. 

I got the first half of my comeuppance at the Druid Hills 10K on Saturday, and I'll get the second half at the Spartan Race on July 14.  It's ok, it really is.  I know I'm not ready and I accept that whatever humiliation I suffer is no one's fault but mine.  In one sense, I'm ok with that.  I think of myself as a runner, not any sort of extreme multi-sport athlete or any kind of tough guy at all.  So yeah, I haven't really gone out of my train for it, either. (Sorry, Tina!)  Like I said, it's been tough enough for me to hang in there just as a runner, lately.  But on the other hand, I'm going to be lifting as much as possible (yeah, I've kind of failed at this through May and June, too) and swinging on the monkey bars and climbing the little fake rock wall over at the playground (hopefully while there is no one else around to watch.) Perhaps it's not too late to avoid complete disaster.

I think I am, however, headed for disaster on one of my main running goals for 2012:  the elusive (for me) sub-6:00 mile.  Needless to say, with my training spotty at best over the past several weeks, I haven't mixed any speedwork in there.  It's not too late to get a few speed workouts in, though, and while my maximum distance is probably seven, maybe eight miles if the weather is cool and the terrain flat, I seem to be a little faster than I was last year.  So, I have a shot.  Where the disaster comes is that the Harrisburg Mile is four days after Spartan Race, so any kinds of weird soreness or injury (or death!) would probably slow my mile pace down. 

So, I'm debating bagging my mile PR goal.  I can register for it day-of so I'm not wasting money if in bad shape from the Spartan Race, but we'll see how much running I can get in.  If I run it, I'm going to do my best, but this might not be the year for 5:59, after all. 

That would be disappointing, but overall, I think that for the second half of Summer and into the fall, I really need to focus on pacing more than speed.  It's become apparent to me that I have lost all sense of how fast I'm going.  I start every run, especially races, too fast, and I've got little left for the finish.  In the half and full marathons that I plan to run in the fall and spring, respectively, I'm going to need to keep my pace more consistent than I have been. 

(More time here.)

The first step, though, is getting myself more consistently back on the roads, and that starts tomorrow. says it's going to be in the 50s tomorrow morning, and I'm not going to miss it.

(Less time here.  No offense, kitten.)

Sorry for the boring post.  I cracked a lot of jokes in my Dreaded Druid Hills review, though.  I was overdue for a boring, running and complaining about stuff type post.