Saturday, February 23, 2013


I got out for a 3-mile run this afternoon.  It sucked. (My leg injuries were fine...just lack of conditioning). It was my first run in 11 days.  That's a big part of why it sucked.

I'm caught in a trap right now.  Running is a lot harder for me right now than it was in my glory days of 2009-2011.  Therefore it's less fun, and so it's easier to find an excuse not to go.  

Too much work.  It's icy out there.  I don't feel well.  I didn't sleep well enough.

They're all true.  But I can't make all these excuses all the time.  I must run more.  As I get in better shape, it won't be so unpleasant and I won't dread it so much.  

I can recognize the trap I'm in.  I know exactly what I have to do and what I need my mindset to be.  I'm just having trouble freeing myself.  There's no magic motivation switch I flip back on. 

Could today be that start?  I made excuses all week.  I woke up to a freezing drizzle this morning, went and got breakfast, and settled in for a lazy by myself.  (Chris is in Wisconsin on her own adventure).  I ate my breakfast sandwich and donuts.  I watched two episodes of Game of Thrones. I resigned myself to running tomorrow, and flipped on the Flyers game, and took a nice three-cat-assisted nap during the second period.  

(I swear that cats must radiate some kind of sleepiness drug into the air.)

But THEN I went out and ran. 

I'm going to be sore tomorrow, but between a really tough day of work on Monday and picking Chris up from the airport that night, I know I won't run on Monday.  So I'm going to try 2 miles tomorrow morning and get myself out of the bear trap.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

What I Learned from the Cat

With only a few exceptions, every time I've run for the past two years, I've used my foam roller to stretch out beforehand.  And almost every time I've used the foam roller, a big, friendly black cat comes waddling slowly over, flops on the floor, stretches out, and purrs his head off.

It probably makes my pre-run preparation less efficient since I have to break in between reps for tummy rubs, but it's really cute.  

Unfortunately, for the last two weeks I've had to foam roll without any assistance.  Pooka the Cat lost the use of back legs two weeks ago, due to what seemed to be a pinched nerve (at least this is the level of detail at which I can explain what the vet told me).    Since then, he's begun a slow and steady recovery and he can now limp around, though he usually falls every few steps. 

Since he's been injured, he's had to be confined, partly for his own good, and partly for ours, since I didn't think he can make it to the litterbox under his own power.  As soon as I brought him home from the vet, I set up a comfy nest for him in a big plastic bin.  He had, food, water, blankets, and a litterbox.  He hated it, but when I gave into his crying and put him on the spare bed in my office, he dragged himself off of it the second my back was turned.  Though he's getting around much better now, I still don't want to leave him out and wandering when we're not around, since he's not navigating stairs very well and since getting down from furniture is still a challenge for him (he can get up on some things, but doesn't land well when he gets down.  He's feeling well enough now that he can climb out of his bin, so I have to leave him in the bathroom closet when we're not around.

What's impressed me, though, is the cheerful good humor with which Pooka has endured this and all his other medical mishaps (he's had surgery for bladder stones, was diabetic, and has hyperthyroidism).  Despite being completely unable to walk, he still was usual happy, purry self.  I, on the other hand, have let some shin problems turn me into a bitter, lazy grump.

It's ok to be frustrated by injuries.  But, as my expensive, fluffy pal taught me, I don't have to be such a dick about it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

2013 Race Schedule

Everywhere I go, people ask me, "What races are you running this year, Brian?"  I'm kidding.  No one ever asks me that.  Nor do they ask me to sign copies of my book.  But that doesn't stop me from putting my John Hancock all over their personal property, anyway.

Therefore, without further ado, my tentative 2013 race schedule:

Italics indicate races I'm currently registered for. 

  • 10 - Kelly St. Patrick's Day 5K, Baltimore, MD.
  • 17- Anthem Half Marathon, Virginia Beach, VA (To be honest, there's probably no way this is happening.  I'm just putting off deferral until closer to the 3/8 deadline to see if there's a breakthrough, but I will probably do the 8K the day before, again.)
  • 6 - Movie Madness 5K, Manchester, PA.  (There's a half marathon, too.  Even if I do magically get myself in half shape in time for Shamrock, I'll just do the 5K here.)
  • 13 - Yuengling Light Lager Jogger 5k. Pottsville, PA (Hershey 10K is the next day, but we'll probably skip that one this year.)
  •  20 - Sole of the City 10K, Baltimore MD
  • 12 - HACC Dash 5K, York, PA
  • 19 - YMCA Armed Forces 5K, Harrisburg, PA
  • 1- Manheim Downtown Development Group: Rock-N-Glow 5K Race, Manheim, PA.
  • 15- 1/2 Sauer 1/2 Kraut Half Marathon, Philadelphia, PA (not sure about this one...I HATE running long distance in warm weather.)
  • 22 - Dreaded Druid Hills 10K, Baltimore, MD.  I look forward to a measure of revenge here.
  • 17- Harrisburg Mile.  5:59 or die trying. 
  • Probably a few 5Ks that I've either forgotten about or haven't heard of yet.  Mostly training for November
  • 12 - Atlantic City Half Marathon, Atlantic City, NJ.  (Oops, forgot about this one that I deferred from last year.)
  •  10 - Harrisburg Marathon, Harrisburg, PA.  Maybe?  I'm not going to be kicking myself if I don't do a full this year (or even a half if the schedule doesn't work out). I'll be most likely targeting Shamrock again in 2014, but I just wanted to put this on the calendar as a stretch goal.  It's a small race, so I wouldn't have to sign up way in advance to get a spot.

  • 14 - Celtic Solstice 5-Mile, Baltimore, MD.  
Right now, that's 11 races that are somewhat likely to happen for me this year.  I didn't count the half in June or the marathon in November.  In reality, I'll probably not run a few that I have on this schedule, but pick up a few more that I've forgotten about.  One thing that's NOT going to change is the absence of Spartan Races on this schedule. On the other hand, if there's a race to raise money for helping victims of Spartan Race, I'd sign up for that in a second.


I'm having a good week of running.  I haven't said that since at least September, and probably earlier than that.

It's only good in my current limited perspective.  The 3.1 miles I ran on Sunday and the 3.1 miles I ran tonight would be 2 of my 3 slowest-ever 5Ks (along with the York Jingle Bell 5K last December).  It's not hard to think back exactly two-years ago, when I ran 10miles effortlessly on Fat Tuesday as my last double-digit run before my first marathon taper.  It's a long away from that in terms of both distance and pace.

But that's not important right now.  What is important is that my left shin felt great.  What's important is that on Sunday I ran through Mt. Wolf, which, as the name implies, is super hilly, and finished my 3.1 without any walk breaks.  I was sore tonight, mostly in the quads, from that run and from last night's session with our personal trainer at the Y, but the shin was fine.  

I still think I'm going to have to defer from the Shamrock Half Marathon in a little over a month.  Adding 10 miles of distance in a month is more than i can do, I think.  But for the first time in a really long time, I can actually envision myself coming all the way back and finishing half marathons, marathons, and Spartan Races (just kidding!) again.

What's made the difference?  I think it's that for the first time ever in my running career, I'm really worrying about core strength and working on strengthening my legs.  I have to give most of the credit to Chris for dragging me to her personal training sessions at the Y, and to our trainer, Mike F. at the Harrisburg YMCA, for making us do 6 different kinds of squats in a row, followed by 4 or 5 different kinds of planks.   Though I'm usually cursing him at the time and threatening to kill and/or divorce Chris for dragging me along, it's the only thing I can think of to explain this recovery.  No pain-free runs in a row hasn't happened in a long time, and I should probably downgrade myself to "cautiously optimistic" instead of "dreaming of long distances."

I'm guessing I'll come crashing back to earth soon, but I'm going to enjoy the rare runner's high while it lasts.
Meanwhile, as sketchy a runner as I've been lately, I've been an even worse blogger.  A couple of entries though that I'd like to get posted "soon":
  • The sad yet inspiring story of an injured kitty and his adorable kitty PT. (With cute pictures!)
  • 2013 Race Schedule
  • Running....From the Police? (Not as exciting or useful as it sounds)