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.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Race Report: 2012 Dreaded Druid Hills 10K

I guess I talked a little too much smack after the Dreaded Druid Hills 10K last year, because they made the course tougher this year.  Well, that and I'm running half the mileage if that I was running at this time last year, but mostly I'm sure it was just that the course was tougher.

Of course, it's all fun and games at the start of the race:

(The two druids were hilarious.  And they can have their stinkin' hills back.)

(Do you like my sexy compression socks?  Yeah, I don't particularly like them, either.)

(And we're off.)

(Do you see me near the front of the pack?!!!
Well, except for all the many, many other people ahead of me that aren't in the picture.)

(You can see the druids running. One of them, at least, disrobed during the race.) 

And then...the pain.

I've never taken a walk break in any race shorter than a marathon, but I took three today.  There's a really disheartening point in the race at about the 2.5 mile mark (I tried really hard not constantly look at Garmin) where I had climbed a big hill and was running down a very long steep incline, and volunteers said "Stay the left".  Yup, we had to go back up it.  The course was more of an out-and-back compared to last year, but I got to about the four mile mark feeling pretty good, and sort of died.  I also made my classic mistake at the beginning of the race:  I started out in Jackass Mode, weaving through the crowd and passing people.  In this case, it probably wasn't the difference between having to walk a little and not having to walk, but I need to get back my feel for pacing and I especially need to be smarter if I run this one again to take a more conservative approach at the beginning of the race, which is hilly compared to most local races but nothing compared to the toughest parts of this course.

I credit the race directors, Falls Road Running, for a tougher course this year, but still most of this bonkage is on me:  much less mileage and a lot less hill work put in.   All things considered, I'm pretty happy with my 1:00:34.  I was hoping for a little better, but anticipating slower.  From here, I can see that I need to decide my running strategy for the rest of the summer, but that's another blog post. But know this, today the Dreaded Druid Hills got the best of me, but I will be back again next year, hopefully coming off another marathon finish and ready to improve on this showing.

(The finish line is always a welcome sight.)

(Sadly eating my post-race watermelon.)

Thanks to Chris for all the pictures, and for driving us home while I whimpered pathetically.  Now it's my turn to put on m spectator hat (It doubles as an Orioles hat) and cheer her on in tomorrow's Baltimore Women's Classic.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

This is NOT Sparta

From: Brian 
Date: Thu, Jun 21, 2012 at 8:50 AM
Subject: Fwd: See Who Was Able to Finish the DEATH Race!
To: Spartan Race

Dear Spartan Race,
Please shut up.  Stop reminding me that I'm signed up for you in 3 weeks.  I've been barely able to get the running in, you see, let alone climbing things or carrying heavy objects (Other than my cat, I mean.  there's cats in the race, right?  Probably not.  I love cats.) or jumping over crap.  I have been doing a lot of work, though.  I mean A LOT.

How about we modify this year's event to being the "Senior Consultant Race", in which I'll run a little (we'll compromise) and then develop a highly customized set of deliverables designed to meet all your business needs?  Doesn't that sound WAY more awesome?

I thought so.

Your pal,


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Spartan Race
Date: Thu, Jun 21, 2012 at 8:06 AM
Subject: See Who Was Able to Finish the DEATH Race!
To: Brian


Your Spartan Sprint in Pennsylvania is only THREE weeks away. You better be training HARD the race is drawing closer and closer. We hope that you are as excited as we are!

The Sprint is 90% SOLD OUT!!
If you haven’t registered yet, now is the time!
Register Now
Don't Race Alone, forward this to a friend.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

This Was Probably a Bad Idea

I got this in my e-mail this evening:

Thank you! You are now registered for the Pennsylvania Spartan Sprint 2012 - 11:00 A.M. Sunday. Please check the event's website for updates.
Congratulations on signing up for a Spartan Race!

You are now a part of the Spartan Family! Not only must you train harder and stay healthy, you must also convince others do the same. Help us reach our goal of ripping one million people off their couches!

Chris and I agreed to be part of Spartan Race team with Tina from "For Love of the Run", so I knew this coming, but not that I was officially registered yet.  

There are some staples in our repertoire. There are also some venue specific and terrain inspired obstacles.

We will not, however, spell it out for you. As well, you will get no course map to inspect.

There is fire, mud, water, barbed wire, and occasionally Hell on Earth.

There WILL be obstacles to catch you off guard. Curve balls, so to speak.

Get over it.

Good.  Great.  Terrific.  This probably means I should pick up some weights again. 

And there will probably be snakes.

This is madness.


 (I'm low on blogging inspiration these days...
which means lots of Angry Talking LOL-Pooka.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Saturday Catch Up Post

Have I been worse at running or blogging lately?  It's probably a tie, but at least my lack of blogging probably leaves more Internet bandwidth for people to post pictures of sarcastic kitties and hence performs a valuable public service.

I had a goal of 15 miles this week and it looks like I'm going to fall a little short.  I had a really busy week of work again, but I don't want to blame that. I worked late into the night Sunday and Monday nights, so I didn't wake up early enough to go for a run on Monday or Tuesday morning, but I should have been able to get a few miles on Monday night, or a short run on Tuesday evening.  I didn't want to wear myself out or be up late on Tuesday, since I had to be out the door at 5am on Wednesday morning for a two-day trip into my company's Philly office.

I finally started to right the ship a little bit on Wednesday evening, which was great because I ate ALL DAY.  I only make it into my company's downtown Philadelphia headquarters two or three times a year, and I always bring a few boxes of one of York County's local delicacies, donuts from Maple Donuts (it's the name of the shop, not all of the donuts are maple flavored) into the office.  If I show up without the donuts, I am probably putting my continued employment at risk.  And since I am unable to resist donuts, I had two of them for breakfast.  I spent most of the day in an intense meeting, and of course there were sandwiches, salad, and brownies for lunch and then soft pretzels later in the day.  CARB LOADING!

But anyway, back to the point of this.  I had been hoping to get some miles in while I was in Philly on either Wednesday evening or Thursday morning.  While I thought it might be cooler on Thursday morning, I decided to head out on Wednesday night since I know my track record for morning runs lately is horrible, and it make Thursday morning more convenient if I didn't have to get up at 5am to run some indeterminate amount of miles.

So, I hit the old dusty trail at about 7 on Wednesday evening.  It was actually the Schuykill River Trail and it was not dusty at all.  I actually began my run from my hotel in Center City, which was a mistake.  There was just too much pedestrian traffic to really get any momentum until I get West of Rittenhouse Square.  Once I joined the trail at Walnut Street, though it was clear sailing.  I headed northwest toward the Art Museum and Manyunk, and there were a lot of runners and bikers out on this gorgeous evening, and its easy to see why this is one of the most popular places to run in Philadelphia.

It also paralleled the route of the second half of the Philadelphia Marathon. There was no way I was in any shape (or had time to) make it out to Manyunk and back, so I did a 3.something mile out and back (no Garmin) in 1:10:41, so I'm calling it 7.5 miles.  

And then I went to Nodding Head Brewery and had an amazing bacon cheeseburger.  I admit it, I run so I can eat more.

I planned to get up on run on Friday morning so I wouldn't have to run long this morning after fencing, but I was just too tried from my business trip and didn't make it out.  6.2 hilly miles today gets me 13.7 for the week, close but no cigar.

 My goal for next week is 20, so I think I'm better off just giving myself tomorrow off and having good runs on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and then getting the last couple on Saturday.  Schedule is going to be tough this week, so getting out there to run consistently is more important than an arbitrary mileage goal.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Too Busy to Run (Again)

("run less, feed moar" says Pooka.)

I'm still in a little bit of a running funk right now.  Real life is kicking my butt lately and I think the really tough month of work ahead will make it hard to get the miles in that I would like to in June.  School's out soon, so that means my normal routes starting from the high school become less-trafficked to run in the morning.  Great, but it's hard to get up and run in the morning if I'm up working till 2am the night before.

That's what happened this week.  I ran 5 miles on Monday morning, the miles I'd gotten in after my zero-mile week, and then work just took over my whole week again and I didn't run again until a hilly 6-miler this morning.  

I know my job is more important than running, at least until I start winning big races and taking home huge cash prizes and racking up sponsorships and endorsements.  So yeah, my job will always be more important than running.  And luckily, I'm better at it.  I'm sure with harder training I could be much faster than I am.  I think I could even get to Boston.  I don't think there's a chance in hell that I could be fast enough to earn a living as a runner.  I'm mediocre-to-good now and could probably train myself up to above average at best, which is not going to win lots of big races.  I've been told I'm very, very good or even great at my job.

But still...running IS important and I need to make time for it.  I spend hours every day (and well into the night, lately) sitting and staring at my computer screen while I write very very very very very very important things!!!!  (Not this blog!)  While I do so, I probably snack more than I should, especially when I'm stressed.  If I want to avoid looking like Comic Book Guy from the Simpsons (Worst. Character. Ever.), I need to keep pounding the pavement and get back in the weight room.

I also need the stress-relief that it brings.  I think I started running to drop a few pounds and get in better shape.  Now, I run to keep out the darkness -- to fight stress and feel better about myself.  When every workday is a quagmire of ASAP deliverables, my stress level goes through the roof.  I need that 30-60 minutes where I can turn my brain off, listen to crappy punk rock, and not be able to do a thing about any of my projects.  And even though I think I'm very, very good at what I do, it still stresses me out, and I've found that running's given me something outside that arena to be proud of myself for.  "Yeah, but I ran (insert number of miles here) this morning."

I've rambled long enough.  I need to do better and here is my goal:  Counting a week from Monday to Sunday, like dailymile, I am going to run 15 miles next week and 20 miles every other week in June.  I don't care if I'm running them at 3am or in the hottest part of the day, I will get those miles in.  I'm not going to be able drop 100-mile months all summer like I did last year, but I think I can do a better in my road back to being at least the runner that I was a year ago.