Nothing earth shattering in the article; it has the same arguments for and against. Perhaps I am most excited that with year 2 of the minimus, comes the retirement of year 1 which means, wait for it, Minimus at the New Balance outlet store in Gilroy. Suck it full retail price.
One of the best parts of the Ipod revolution has been, in my humble opinion, the proliferation of the podcast. I can absolutely assure you that regardless of what you are interested in, there is a podcast somewhere with your interest in mind. (For those that have been locked out of the internet for the last ten years, podcasts are essentially pre-recorded radio shows ranging in production value from crappy to completely professional.)
I became truly addicted to the podcast medium during my nearly two years as a professional commuter, during which I logged about ten hours on the road each and every week. I can't stand to listen to music for that long as it tends to put my brain to sleep, so I relied heavily on the thought-sparking podcast. That being said, my favorite podcast is a little on the goofy side, perhaps even bordering on the raucous.
The Mike Omeara Show originally began as a terrestrial radio show in Washington D.C. and was a spin-off of what was known as the Don and Mike Show. WJFK abruptly cancelled the show about two years ago and the cast decided to strike out on their own and record the show in Mike Omeara's living room. The show is basically four semi-interesting guys sitting around shooting the shit. It's brain candy but it's funny as hell. In truth though, you really need to give it a week to understand the dynamic; after a week, you'll be hooked.
In any case, I love the show and listen to it all the time, especially on long slow runs. I have discovered though, that when I listen to podcasts/talk radio while I run, I naturally slow down. I don't know whether or not it's because I am trying to listen intently or because I can't hear my footfall or breathing. Either way, I'm slower, so I can't listen if I'm not on a treadmill that FORCES me to run fast.
On the other hand, when I listen to music with some beat and lyrics, I jump on the gas. This isn't unique I'm sure; the nike+ will even select a "pump" song for you if you let it. When I throw the music on, I need to make sure I don't hit burn out. On the other hand, the problem I generally have is that I honestly don't know how fast I can go and for how long.
So the silly bit of trivia here is that I have to make my choice very carefully. I've tried to run fast with a podcast loaded and I had to shut it off. I've also tried to run slow to music and that didn't quite work either.
Put these two things together and I suppose you have a pretty good argument for me leaving my ipod at home, which has been the trend as of late.
As many of my friends know, I can be a bit obsessive about my hobbies. If I'm going to "try out poker" I'm going to study it like an academic and build my own poker table from scratch:
I've gotten pretty good at that particular hobby, if I do say so myself. The point being that when I tackle an interest I actually learn something; occasionally I learn a lot. I'm quite sure that I am not in the minority here. When this happens however, it comes with a byproduct. You end up knowing more than the guy in the store.
I simply can't count the times that I have walked into stores that allegedly contain informed customer service representatives, such as Best Buy, Barnes and Noble, REI etc., where I have had to explain TO THEM what a particular product does or what it is. This isn't entirely shocking. I mean I can't blame the 18 year old kid working the floor at REI for not knowing how many different flavors of Hammer-Gel that exist. (I do however take issue with the fact that I ask for a specific product and they tell me it doesn't exist, when I know it does.) That being said, as someone who makes a living leading and training, I find it ridiculous that they don't have a program in place to make the rep. more informed, but I digress.
When MSNBC published this article on Self-Checkout kiosks, many responded with how they hated them. I guess the logic is that they are impersonal and some would prefer more interaction. My personal opinion is that if many of these stores are going to retain their current policy of reps knowing little more than the catalog, I'm all for them. I much prefer that than the semi-genuine interaction designed for the express purpose of getting me to sign up for the Wazoo Rewards program which gives me a 5 dollar coupon every 9 months in return for my demographic information. At a minimum, having one of these at Best Buy would keep those knuckleheads from asking me about signing up for a bogus warranty program for an additional first-born child. At REI it would keep me from interacting with some of the uninformed. Don't get me wrong here, I'm not saying I know everything, but I would at least like the option of getting in and getting out with no speed-bumps or irritations. If I need help, I'll head to the local Mom and Pop store where I know their living absolutely depends on them knowing what the hell they are doing.
It isn't very often that my wife and I are without our children. We've quite literally had children as long as we've been together so when Grandma and Grandpa offered to take the youngest daughters on a ten-day whirlwind tour of Southern California, we jumped at the opportunity to spend some time together. Given my class schedule, this really only left us with one weekend to get away as it were, so I decided to make some reservations at, what turned out to be, a very pleasant little bed and breakfast in Cambria, CA. In case you were wondering, running wasn't on the menu. I had very little interest in spoiling a nice evening away with concerns of hydration, nutrition and the ubiquitous and always horrible alarm clock. I'm perfectly happy/confident enough to take two days off and just enjoy the ride.
Which we most certainly did. Fog's End bed and breakfast is located in the cool, if not a wee bit expensive, town of Cambria, California. Aptly named, it sits right where the morning fog meets the mountains. The owners, Jan and Jim, were quite nice and took great care of us while we were there. The photo on the webpage honestly doesn't do the place justice enough. The place has a barn with some pool tables and enough room to host a wedding reception. There is even a small little vineyard in the backyard that provided the pinot noir grapes that were used to make the jelly served with breakfast. I have to admit, that was a first. The motif was of classic design but clearly modern. Honestly, I enjoy having the classic look with modern features (i.e. wifi) so this was a nice fit. At 175 a night, and considering there are rates as high as 350 in the area, this was a nice affordable luxury that we really enjoyed. (The review of the cookies we purchased at Red Moose Cookie Company will have to wait however, as they were purchased for our returning children who arrive today. I'm really looking forward to the Peanut Butter version.)
The most awe inspiring part of the trip though, was the drive itself. If you ever find yourself in a position to drive the Pacific Coast Highway and decide not to do it, you have made an enormous mistake and missed what is easily one of the best, if not THE best, drive in America. The cliffs, the trees, the rivers, the ocean, the Zebras . . . what? You didn't know that there are parts of California where Zebras run wild amongst the elephant seals? You need to get out more, because they totally do. The shock and surprise in my wife's voice as she spotted them on the side of the road was nothing short of hysterical and genuine. Obviously an animal native to another continent was not something we expected to see. What a thrill.
Not a half mile away was another amazing lookout. Dozens of elephant seals, sunning themselves in the afternoon's rays, were splayed out along the beach. The seals were no further than 20 feet away and spent their time scooping dirt on themselves and fighting, not unlike how most of my friends and I spent our childhoods. I'm not the greatest photographer in the world but the photos I was able to take were nothing short of fantastic. As soon as I get them up on FLICKR I'll post a few of them here.
On the way back, my wonderful wife mentioned that I needed to pay attention to the Big Sur Marathon route and went to searching for the exact start location on the trusty iphone. Though that race is 9 months away for me, it was great to see the hills (and there are more than a few of them) and all that lies in wait for me next April. I can now see why many runners drop their Garmin into the ocean and decide to run the race for beauty rather than time.
We ended the weekend refreshed, tired and full of food. Perhaps the perfect dichotomy for a race in two weeks that is likely to leave me tired, hungry and exhausted. There's nothing like touching both ends of the spectrum.
A year ago I was suffering in the heat of the eastern United States, desperately trying to get my mojo revved up while I attempted to make good on a promise to finish the Marine Corps Marathon on behalf of the Fisher House. I was enjoying the hell out of running, but frustrated like hell that I could not make the gains I was hoping for and thinking to myself that a marathon was something that you survived but did not enjoy. Nowadays though, with temperatures in the mid 70's rather than the low 90's, so much more seems possible.
Friday's run with famed nouveau blogger and friend Mike made me realize just how far I had come since last summer.
For those of you keeping score at home, that's a 10:20 pace for almost 21.5 miles. Nothing particularly impressive about that really.
The confidence builder here though, was how I felt about halfway through. As we started the ascent around mile 15 or so, I felt decidedly better than I did on the first lap. I doubt that I was moving faster, but the fact that I felt great and wasn’t moving decidedly SLOWER was an enormous breakthrough for me. I was subsisting on my homemade GU concoction and some electrolyte laced water and I knew I was running pretty light as far as carbs and energy go and yet I didn’t feel like I wanted to die. Last October I vividly recollect crossing the finish line and thinking “I know running 50 miles ISN’T impossible, but Jesus it sure FEELS that way right now”. On Friday I remember thinking, “Shoot, if someone just stashed a few PB&J sandwiches and some water in the bushes over there I could easily go another loop, if not two”. The loop of which I speak is 10 miles and has a couple thousand feet of whoopsy daisy. I might have been running 10:20, but feeling like I could knock out 30 on a random Friday felt pretty damn good.
All of this would appear rather random were it not for the fact that I have another goal for 2011: The North Face Endurance 50 miler (San Francisco) in December. I made this decision a while back but have chosen not to blog about it thus far. I think I had some doubts as to whether or not I could achieve it and wanted to see where the San Francisco marathon left me. I honestly had no idea what a course like that might do to me. After watching this video last Thursday, I was downright scared. The course elevation profile is downright scary.
Friday, though not an exact representation of the course in Marin, gave me a huge boost of confidence. I no longer think of the 50 as some kind of lofty goal, but rather as a completely achievable (albeit difficult and daunting) goal.
From this point forward, I’m going to try and focus a little bit more on the transition from Marathoner to Ultra-marathoner (hopefully) and the trials and tribulations therein. I’ve already learned quite a bit from my time on the trails in the last two weeks and I’m sure the learning will continue. What I’m truly excited about though, is the fact that this no longer seems superhuman to me. It just seems hard. In my mind, once something is reduced to appearing at least possible, I can begin to chip away at it from there. If there is one thing that the running experience has taught me it’s this: You just have to trust that your training, in concert with your heart, will get you where you can at least SEE the light at the end of the tunnel, if not out of the tunnel altogether.
Right now I’m stoked to make visual contact with that light and now I’ll spend the next four months trying to get my ass through it. Any and all comments on this are certainly welcome!
I seriously ought to write a book on the subject. I consider myself a fairly intelligent fellow, but occasionally I impress myself with my stupidity and lack of foresight.
Allow me to explain myself. I have, what I believe to be the cutest dog on earth.
Jeff is an exceptionally intelligent Mutt with a love of children and a fearful hatred of skateboards. In short, he's everything you hope you get when you adopt a dog on a whim, which is what we did. My wife routinely teaches him tricks and he's liable to learn them in under fifteen minutes (it’s been done repeatedly). He’s also incredibly energetic with boundless energy once he is outdoors, but somehow seems to mellow when he gets inside and very seldom causes a stir unless he’s been absolutely neglected in terms of attention.
Occasionally I take him running. Most of the time I do not. Many of my runs are 10 miles or more and I often wonder if he’ll overheat or just generally get in the way; he also have very little in the way of “car awareness” and I’m constantly concerned he’ll get himself killed. Most of the roads here in Monterey have very small shoulders and therefore this limits where I can take him when I run from my house.
Yesterday though, the plan was to head out to Laguna Seca and hit some trails for a run of about eight miles or so. This, I figured, was a perfect chance to take Jeffy out for a little run. He’d been stuck at a friend’s house while we were in LA over the weekend and I thought it’d be good to get him out of the house and under some open sky and onto some dirt. I’ve taken him on some 7 milers before and I thought this would be a nice step up in mileage; even if we did 10 miles I wasn’t concerned from a conditioning standpoint.
The ship of expectations however, rapidly crashed ashore upon the rocks of reality when my partner and I realized that what looked like an eight mile loop was actually going to come out to roughly 10.5 miles. Whoops. The silver lining here was that it was not hot in the least. There was a nice breeze despite the intermittent sun and I knew that Jeff wasn’t going to overheat. I knew he was going to start feeling it past eight miles and that is exactly what happened. What I did not realize however was the REASON for his slowdown. Essentially he developed two large blisters on each of his largest pads; one of them popped and one did not. Luckily he’s not a “licker” and has largely left them alone. Today the plan is to wash his paws and gauze him up if necessary. I think he’ll be fine, but I’m kicking myself for not considering this. That being said, I grew up around hunting dogs and have never even seen this happen. Of course, those were dogs that grew up on the dirt and in the sagebrush. I took it for granted that he would be fine, and now I feel absolutely awful.
So here is my public apology to my loyal and trusting four-legged running partner. I’m sorry dude and it won’t happen again
Wow, has this week really gotten away from me. Our house has really been more like a hostel for visiting family which has been both wonderful and demanding at the same time. I've somehow managed not to completely lose track of my training (mostly as a result of said family being supportive and understanding) but I've slipped somewhat when it comes to nutrition, hydration, etc.
Examples of slippage include trying to knock out a 19 mile run at race pace on Sunday after crushing a bottle of wine and a few beers with my Dad the night prior. I'm not exactly sure what I was thinking. The upshot, if there was one, was that I discovered that I can feel like absolute crap and still manage a sub 9 min/mile pace. I wanted to poop and puke the entire time, so perhaps it was more like "ultra" training than marathon . . . In any case, it sucked, and that leads me to my first public statement of nutrition. I am boarding the booze wagon today. Nothing more than 1 light beer, regardless of circumstance or training, at least until the marathon at the end of the month. I have a wedding to attend on Saturday, so we'll see how well this commitment holds up under pressure.
The second public statement of nutrition involves the desire to make more of THESE:
Grilled Artichokes. Wow. Just Wow. We figured since we live in the land of artichokes here in California we might try our hand at these; we were richly rewarded.
Boil for ten minutes, slice in half, remove the choke and baste with olive oil, lemon juice and garlic mixture. Grill for about ten minutes to put a nice even char on them . . .and done. These things were absolutely out of this world and easily the best way that I've ever had artichokes. Combine this with the discovery of the Mexican Supermarket down the road that sells pre-marinated chicken for 1.29 a pound and you have yourself an amazing meal on the cheap.
Unrelated, but perhaps more important, was my daughter's desire to pick up a pair of pink Adizero running shoes. I thought she might be more concerned with fashion than function, but after her research indicated that people were complaining about the amount of cushioning which led her to believe that they were great minimal running shoes! Ah the pride of fatherhood . . .