Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I run like a predator

Today's lunch run took me through Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.  It's a nice park with some history including a very old army post  circa 1850's and was a wood mill during WWI and a ship yard during WWII.  There are pictures on the land bridge that commemorate the location.  

The site has an airport with museum as well as a fort.  Today I was running past the fort doing my best to avoid goose poop on the path.  It was fresh, very fresh.  I looked further down the trail as I danced through the feces like a gazelle and was startled to see a huge gaggle of geese.  There were hundreds of our northern friends all over the trail and field. 

What was even more interesting was that they weren't moving for the people ahead of me.  I passed a walker who had this shocked look on her face, like she had just survived the gauntlet.  I watched ahead as a runner entered and geese slowly moved out of the way only to fill the void once she passed. 

I kept running, doing my best not to squish.  I was about 20 feet from the challenge (or should I say opportunity) when the gaggle's preservation instinct took over and nearly the whole gaggle took off at once.  They honked, did some sort of evasive flying and flew right over me (I did worry about poop, and yes, I like to type poop) and then they landed a long ways away and stared at me. 

It was a this point that I began to understand that I am no ordinary runner.  I am in fact, not even gazelle like.  I run like a predator.  I'm not sure whether I looked like a hawk, eagle, agile mountain lion, or vicious puma but I am certain that I was a terror to them.

No wonder people don't wave or nod when we pass while running, they are terrified of me.  No wonder people politely say, "looking good" during races, they are afraid that I will pounce if they aren't nice.

I see things more clearly after today's run.  I still wish I could say that I run like a gazelle but today I accepted my evolution from hunted to hunter.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Beginners Guide to Post Race Chit-Chat

So you just finished your race.  You are drinking some sort of milky substance that someone handed you and even though it tastes slightly chalky, you can't seem to stop drinking.  You have oranges stuck in your teeth and are busy looking for the rest of the cookie you just dropped on the ground.  At this point someone engages you in post-race chit chat.

Typically the "chit" is started with the phrase, "How did you do?"

The post race chit-chat novice at this point will answer the question using the long answer format.  It will include a play-by-play starting with things that occurred in the past three months that contributed to a lower than expected result.  If the performance was very very very good (winner, top AG) then the person will still share how their performance didn't match up.  However, it typically will end with some sort of self-deprecation and goal setting.  For example, "...nothing compared to the pros at Kona but I know know I need to spend way more time on my bike."

Here is the main problem with the conversation that just happened...the person who initiated the chit did not want to hear much about your race, they wanted to chat about theirs.  The diatribe by the novice while very satifying for the novice did not provide any satisfaction for the person asking the question.

What the person initiating the "chit" really meant was, "Could you look at me intently so I can tell you about my race?"  They are looking for a very quick "chat" so they can "chat".  They want to hear, "I did okay, how did you do?"

I'm no expert in science but I do know there is a problem when two objects try to occupy the same space.  Communication problems also happen when two people attempt to talk at the same time.  Post race communication (chit-chat) is doomed because both people want to chat (drone) about their race.  

I know there are some of you out there that prefer to keep things to yourself.  Most likely you don't have a blog nor wish to blog your results.  You want to sit quietly in the back and wait for your name to be announced so you can quietly walk past the gasping people to claim your basket of bread and books.  You want to make a statement just as much as the rest of us, but would prefer to make it visually.

But for the rest of you that communicate, here are a couple of suggestions for how to engage in chit-chat.

1.  Show restraint by answering in one amazing sentence - One sentence that answers the question and transitions to..and you?  The best sentence is one that engages the other person to forget their chat and want to hear yours.  good lines are "Race went as I expected except I didn't think I would pass Lance Armstrong, how was yours?
2.  Ask a follow-up question before assuming the "chat".  The purpose of this question is to appear to engage in what they are saying. .  "Sounds like you were really focused, did you happen to see the belly dancers at mile 7?"
3.  Dominate the chat - You've demonstrated that you are perceptive, notice things they don't and won't monopolize the next hour of their time.  They trust you...NOW you have an audience.
4.  Develop an exit strategy -  If they don't seem to quit "chatting"  you can encourage them to talk tothe guy sitting at the back table looking aloof.   "See that guy over there...he mentioned earlier that he really wants to learn more about racing but is afraid of looking stupid.  I bet he'd learn a lot from your race experience"

Best of luck navigating the tricky post-race chit-chat.  And...your welcome.

Monday, March 28, 2011

One down - more races to go

I hate getting in the pool in the morning.  That first rude splash never seems to get easier.  I'm always glad I swam once I'm in the pool..but getting there is tough.

Well, I kind of had the same feeling for my first race which was this weekend and I whined about last post.  This was the "Spring Classic Duathlon) with a 5K, 15 Mile, 5K format.

Weather was rainy/misting and in the 40s with a light wind from the east. 

In typical first race fashion I forgot stuff and packed too many things that I didn't need.  I forgot my water bottle and for some reason didn't pack any rain gear for the race but seemed to have every jacket and blanket I owned for after the race. 

My goal was to run a sub 20 minute 5 K and I failed on the first 5K.  I ended up with a 20:04 which was close but felt like a brick wall (well maybe wooden wall).  My bike felt good, especially the down wind leg in which I was going 23-25 miles per hour.  The pavement kept getting rougher and peblier (more small rocks for those afraid of good new words).  The turnaround at 9 mile point was pretty demoralizing.  From 24 to 17 MPH is pretty tough to take, especially watching the other people zipping by on the other side.

I finished the bike and started the run.  I couldn't feel my feet.  I think they were down there but I wasn't sure.  The run went up a slight incline and then into the wind (wish I could have written "Jaws of the gail" but it really was more of a breeze).  I really wanted to break 20 minutes but was hoping for under 25 minutes.  I just ran as fast as I could.  Felt okay and so ran faster.  Before I knew it I was headed down toward the finish, they were mispronouncing my name and I heard the beeping on the second mat and discovered that the end was not under the "Muscle Milk" inflatable arch.  I was done with a time of 19:28.  I set a 5K PR! Total time was 1:27:08.

Overall it really was an encouraging race.  I've not been working on speed because of my knee and yet was able to run at a good speed and my knee feels great.  I finished 31 out of 169 overall and 8 out of 19 for my age group. 

It was a fun race and I was glad I did it.  There are some really fast people out there and I look forward to seeing whether I get closer to their finish times next year.

Friday, March 25, 2011

First race of the season

Well, judgment day is tomorrow.  I've been training all winter and it's time to see if I've progressed.

My first race of the season will be a duathlon (5k, 40k, 5k).  The race is along the Columbia river which is famous for two things.  First - windsurfing and kite boarding on the amazing steady winds.  Second- waterfalls created by rain and cliffs. 

The things that made the area famous are foretasted to be showing off tomorrow. 

One other problem with first races is that I want to do better than my last races.  Those were great fall events in which it was in the cool 70 degree weather, not a wisp of wind and angles seemed to carry me along at the speed of light.  At least that is how I remember it. 

I do have a plan for tomorrow:
  1. Drink coffee
  2. Stare into the gale with a stoic look on my face (imagine an old main fisherman)
  3. When the gun goes off, go as fast as I can
  4. Remember as many details as possible so I can exaggerate them later as I write a race report for this blog.
  5. Remind myself to go faster
  6. Remind myself that I paid $70 for the privilege of suffering in horrible conditions
  7. Remember the faster I go, the sooner I can drink more hot coffee
Can't wait!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

If you can't be snuggly - try smug

One of my favorite things recently is to wake up and discover I can sleep another hour.  Covers feel warm, pillow is soft and everything is quiet.  About 3 seconds later I hear the strums of a harp seemingly blasting from my alarm on my phone.  I silence the phone, try to remember what I'm supposed to do and then use every super power I have to move out of my snugly, cozy and warm bed.

Today the alarm went off at 4:40 AM which is pretty early for me.  I had a longer bike than usual and had to wake up early.  I got a movie fired up, bike ready, bottle nearby and started to ride.  My trainer is on the second story and I look out over our driveway into the neighborhood.

Not one light on, no one stirring, not even a mouse.  At that point I started to feel smug.  Not only was I doing the "Carpe Diem" thing, I was training when my neighbor was sleeping.  He is a much faster triathlete than me, and I will never catch him unless I work harder.  Today, at least for those two hours, I was working harder.

No one wants to be around a smug person but it sure helps fuel me during a sleepy morning.  Well, coffee helps too.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Plan B was amazing

I finally convinced myself to head out for my lunch run yesterday.  It was raining and I was cold and hungry but I started to get dressed to run.  I then discovered I was missing my shoes.  I had several offers to borrow shoes but the largest was a woman's size 7.5.  So instead of running, I ate my lunch and was read the newest LAVA magazine which is filled with people who not only are fast but can remember to pack their shoes.

I decided on "Plan B" which was to leave work a bit early and run at home, but I knew there was no way that I could show my face at home and not spend time with my girls.  So I called my wife and she got the girls ready so that when I came home, they would go running with me.  Well, not that they would run, but they would ride in the jogging stroller and I would be their mule.

I got home, loaded the girls, and then something amazing happened...the sun appeared.

We ran to a neighborhood park which is about 2.5 miles from the house.  Once we got there I they played.  Climbing, swinging, sliding, throwing sticks and making me feel really content and grateful.  I loaded them up, went back home.

I didn't hit my pace I typically do.  I didn't listen to my Ipod and instead listened to them sing.  My little one kept wanting to hold hands which made pushing hard.  We had to stop both ways to look at the chickens. 

I'm so grateful I forgot my shoes yesterday.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I would do triathlons except _______

I occasionally go on auto pilot during conversations.  I give the appearance of an attentive "active" listener but I'm most likely thinking about food. 

There are certain triathlon related conversations which seem to repeat themselves and follow a predictable theme.  The person typically explains why they choose not to do triathlons.  The person ends with one of two explanations.

I would do triathlons except I can't RUN (goes on to explain knee problems)
I would do triathlons except I can't SWIM (goes on to explain maternal grandmothers fear of water)

Well, I was busy thinking about food as the person I was talking with started the magical phrase which allows a person not to participate in triathlons.  It was at this point that I was genuinely suprised, a bit delighted for a new option and once again engaged in the conversation.

She said, "I would do triathlons except I can't BIKE"

Who can't bike?  Kids ride bikes!  - now if I really had been a better communicator, I would have refrained from asking those two questions.  I would have said, "Interesting, tell me more"  but instead I chose to belittle. 

There really wasn't much of an explanation except the person never really learned to ride and doesn't like speed.

I guess I now have heard it all!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Which seems longer?

For some reason, today I remembered a time when time stopped.  It happened an eon ago when my wife and I lived in Nebraska and were preparing to run the Portland Marathon.  Our long runs were getting longer and longer and as the designated mule, I had to haul more and more stuff to keep both of us fed and hydrated.  We then agreed on a brilliant plan.  We would "run" the Omaha marathon as a supported training run.  We would run like typical for 22 miles and then walk out the rest.  No need to be a mule and it would be fun.

We splurged for the weekend and stayed in a hotel and went to the registration and show.  It was at this point that we both thought another terrible idea was a good idea.  They were providing course previews.  For free, we could ride a bus and see where the course went.  We signed up for an allotted time and then waited at the designated spot.

The time warping device pulled up to the curb and we filled on.  The device was yellow, with wheels that go round and round, and wipers that go whish-whish-whish.  But not the kind of vehicle that they say "Tickets Please".  Instead this torture device was the kind that was filled with vynal seats that are designed for bouncing school kids and a special back section for defiant middle-school kids. 

Since my wife is motion sick, we found  seat toward the front and squeezed into the seat.  The bus headed out with the rattling surging only busses can do. 

26.2 miles crammed in a swaying, hot, and noisy bus is horrible beyond words.  It also can be demoralizing because it seemed like eternity and the hills (yes there is one that you go over and back on) seem really steep and long.  The bus didn't break down but it felt like time came to a stop.

Hours later, we somehow got out of the bus and desperately tried to get blood flow back into our legs and butt.  I was dehydrated from the heat and grumpy.

The next day we had a great run.  The course goes through the Omaha Zoo which is great and you even cross a bridge and head into Iowa which is kind of cool.  We didn't have to carry anything and the miles skimmed by.  At mile 22 we quit running ands started to walk and chat.  We were still spry and happy.  It was so much easier than being on the bus.

The race has an indoor finish and even through we were walking, we were keeping up with a lot of runners.  As we neared the finish line, my wife suddenly broke into a full on sprint for the finish.  She wanted to finish together but more than that, she wanted to finish strong and beat the others.  I was embarrassed, she was thrilled.

Great memories...I have a Vineman coming up.  I now have a fear that as we walk through the expo, now with two little girls that are collecting stickers and plastic stuff, that we will hear an announcement about a course preview and next thing we know, Four of us will be sitting in a school bus, my girls will both be jumping up and down on my bladder and six hours later, we will get off the bus and I will have to race the next day.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Now it is all my fault

My wife doesn't allow the girls to run in the house.  I'm all for running every chance it is available.  She wins...not sure why but at this point, she wins.

I've been getting my girls ready for their first triathlon.  I posted about it quite a while ago.  I finally found a video that some other really enthusiastic dad shot of his kids racing.  I've shown it to them several times...okay maybe 20-30 times.  There are two things that are great about this video.

1.  It has "Eye of the Tiger" as the theme.  My girls need to get that song drilled into them so can dominate the race by calling on its power.
2.  It shows them that they can win because other kids are weak and don't want it as bad as they do.  Well, I think that may be stretching things a bit, but the other kids seem to be doing it for fun, and not really focused.

Well, back to running little one was tearing around the house and my wife stopped her and told her she was supposed to walk in the house.  The little one answered, "But Mama, I'm training for my race"

Love that little girl!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Great Run - Bad recovery

Had a nice, typical run yesterday.   Nothing out of the usual if you follow my blog you will find that nearly all my running takes place in the rain and muck which is standard for living in the Portland area. 

I did a bit over 9 miles yesterday at a comfortable 7:40 is pace and was a bit longer than the 1 hour I planned on running.  I didn't do anything fancy, just ran. It wasn't a long run, just

I got back to the office tired, a bit cold and hungry.  My left but hurt a bit but nothing major.  I worked the rest of the afternoon and then got out of my chair and my left knee hurt.  I drove home, my knee hurt getting out of the car.  We went to eat for my wife's birthday.  Knee felt fine until getting out of the chair. 

I iced my knee and took Advil.  I also whined to my wife about my world coming crashing down.  Today, it feels okay, no problem going up or down stairs but deep knee stuff hurts.

I decided to swim today during lunch and write a whiny post. Maybe take a few days rest from running and then go out and do some speed work...

Maybe I need to go to the AS SEEN ON TV store to look for a miracle cure.

Any other ideas?