Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mighty Mole Man Braves the Masked Bandits

Disclaimer: No animals were harmed in the making of this blog post. Mildly embarrassed perhaps but only they can speak to that for sure...

Apparently I am not only George Castanza, but also Dr. Doolittle as all creatures great and small came out to greet me on my long run (semi-long run...we're tapering) this weekend. I saw no less than some geese, one deer, two raccoons, a few funny bunnies (funny because they plop themselves almost on top of the trail and take care to move not a single muscle as you approach as if saying to themselves, "if I just don't move maybe she won't notice me." I like to wave, lest they think they have me fooled), many scavenging squirrels, and even a skunk (ok this one I saw actually walking around on the drive to the trail, but I can't say I've ever seen a LIVE skunk just walking around before and besides I practically choked on his fumes at mile 3 so it's like I ran by him anyway).


But it's the raccoons that freak me out. My mobile mile marker, affectionately referred to as Dad warned me on the way to the trail that they'd been out snarling at him all week long. (Let's just pause here for a sec and recap slightly in case someone stumbles across this blog and thinks I'm an abusive daughter forcing my elderly father to go out with me on 20+ mile runs. For starters he's not elderly, I won't give away his age, but I don't even think he qualifies for an AARP card yet. Secondly he's not running with me, he's on a bicycle and probably most importantly, the dude does more on a bike than most people half his age are capable of. His long rides are the day before my long runs. He rode 50 miles this past Friday. He uses my long runs as his recovery rides. Yeah, I think it's safe to say my little girlies do not have the average Grandpa. Oh and by the way, he just recently won the Gold medal at the Senior Olympics in our county. Awww yeah Dad!)


Anywho...back to the masked bandits. So as my Dad got his bike out of the back of the truck and I started on the trail in the pitch black of 5:30AM, I started thinking about what I'd do if I ran across one. I mean at least on a bike, my Dad was moving pretty fast and would be gone before the little guys knew what happened but me at long run pace, in the dark and on their turf...I was toast. With every step I pondered how they'd attack. One bite and take off? Do they chomp down and not let go? I think they've got pretty sharp claws too.


And just about the time I started wondering where the heck my Dad was with his bike light, I saw them. Two black figures off to the side of the trail up ahead. I became a funny bunny thinking maybe they wouldn't see me. They turned my direction and employed the same tactic. "Huh?" I thought to myself "Now what?" So I took a couple steps forward, heart pounding "This is it. I am about to be destroyed by a raccoon and I will most surely die of rabies and what a stupid thing to have to explain to my kids when they get old enough to understand. Sorry girls your mom got taken out by a rabid raccoon while running 15 miles in the pitch black at 5:30AM training for a marathon."

I stopped again, my confidence wavering and thinking it might be better to turn around and head for the car. But the strategy worked, well at least on one. He took off running away from the trail, across the street and into the woods. The other however, ran my direction across the trail practically giving me a heart attack, but dove under the rail and went down the hill. I heard a splash in the river (do raccoons swim or was he just totally thrown off his game?) so I figured I was safe and kept running.

Shortly thereafter, my Dad caught up and I of course let him know about the unwanted visitors (wait...maybe I was the unwanted visitor?). He nobly decided to defend my honor by riding up ahead to chase away any remaining hidden bandits that might lie in wait up ahead. No big deal for the guy who used to make a game of hunting ground moles (and bringing them in my bedroom at about 6:30AM on a shovel for me to wake up next to in the morning...I kid not. He thought it was funny. Me...not so much.) when I was a teenager. Although, I'll admit I was a little concerned. The moles were pretty much blind the minute they got out of the ground and not much bigger than an orange, the raccoons on the other hand have superior night vision and are roughly the size of a small bear (ok I'm exaggerating, but that's pretty much what it looked like in the heat of the moment). I swear I heard them growling (or whatever that angry noise is) not a minute after he took off from me. While not another one came within sight for the rest of the run, I'm thinking I'll do this last long run a little later in the day, you know, when the sun comes out and those fellas head for home.

'Til next time....

Keep your eyes open on the trails. You never know what might pop out!



P.S. On behalf of mighty mole man, please wear reflective or light colored clothing when running in the dark of night or early morning even when on the trails. Though he may not bike as fast as a car, he has been known to hit speeds in excess of 15 miles an hour especially coming downhill and even if you're running with football gear on that's probably gonna hurt a little bit. Mighty mole man thanks you for your cooperation!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Extra Credit Yassos

For those of you not familiar with a little running gem called Yassos, let me explain. Yassos are a speed workout. But as my three year old would say, "they're not just ANY speedworkout, they're..." the mack daddy of speed workouts for marathon training because they're a fairly accurate predictor of what your finishing time will be.

The founding forefather of Yassos, a Mr. Bart Yasso who happens to be not only runner extraodinare having run nearly every marathon on the planet and run each one faster than the average bear ("Hey Boo boo" use your Yogi voice please when reading) but also Runner's World Chief Running Officer (how's that for a job eh?) has no exact mathematical formula as to why this works. Only years of researching runners and their workouts and found that it proves correct nearly every time.

It's not a complicated workout. Just run 1/2 miles, 8-10 of them, according to his book My Life on The Run (one of my favorites by the way, it's got it all even naked running and being chased by wild animals of the scary sort). In between each one of them, jog a recovery for about as long as it took you to run the half. Then take an average of what your 1/2mile time would be and VOILA! You have your marathon finish time.

So taking Bart at his word, (I feel I can call him Bart. We are friends on Facebook and all. I think I wrote on his wall once, and him on mine...well...never. But still he accepted the friend request, so that makes us friends right?) I've been running Yassos. I think I started with 2, way back when. Tonight, however, it was 10. And my average time...drum roll please...4:00 minutes. Actually, it was slightly faster because the last one I ran was 3:45 and all the rest were 4:00. And it's quite possible that I could have run them faster had I been on a track rather than the treadmill, but I have this fear of running all out on the treadmill. On a track if you can no longer hang, you slow down. Whereas on a treadmill, if you can no longer hang, you fall off.

I even did the extra credit ones. You know, #9 and #10. Because everyone knows that when given the option of 8-10 on a running workout you choose 8. It's kind of like a test. You take a test in school and if you get all 8 questions right you get an A because you know your stuff. But if you get the two extra credit questions right, you get an A++ because you REALLY know your stuff. See if I would have stopped at 8, I would have stopped with a predicted finishing time of 4:00. But I went ahead and took on the extra credit, Yassos to see if I would REALLY run a 4:00 marathon. And wouldn't you know it, I nailed those too!

So, technically, I should be able to run a 4 hour marathon. My goal, however, is 4:30 which hopefully means I have now built myself a sufficient cushion, time for 19 potty breaks, a calf cramp, and tackling that one monster hill (or so I hear) at the end. So unless Bart himself wanders over here from Facebook and tells me otherwise, I'm saying goal is well within reach (although I'd really be flying high about it if he'd give me a little "Yes, Grasshoper you are ready." )

And now we're starting to taper...geesh it's getting close!

'Til next time.

P.S. Sorry to have virtually vanished for awhile. Flower girl in a wedding. First day of pre-school. First day of gymnastics. First birthday to plan (although none of these were actually me, just alot of me running around to make these things happen. But I did have an article due, money to raise for make a wish, a non-profit event to help organize, and what was that other thing? Oh yes, a marathon to train for.) So anyway something had to give and you know it wasn't gonna be the running! Things should be a touch slower though now, so I'll be able to share all my tapering woes with you before the big day!

P.P.S. Still time to donate to Make-A-Wish for our marathon relay in Detroit. Click here

P.P.P.S. Here's a link to an article about Yassos on Runner's World for more info.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

See George Run

And stop. And run. And stop. And run again.

That would be me this past Sunday on my 22 mile long run. Now don't freak out if you're new to marathon training or if it's old hat too you and start screaming I am running too far. I know already that most training plans take you nor more than mile 20. Only problem I have with this is my head, which we've already discussed at length numerous times. 20 miles is not close enough to the big 26.2 to make it feel accomplishable, at least not to me. Put me within two miles and I'm good to go. Anything more than that and there's a good chance Bad Kelly will talk me out of it. But I digress...

Back to start and stop. I kid you not. I stopped for potty breaks (some pottyless...ewww...gross...I know) no less than 7 TIMES! Four of which came before I hit mile 10. So what exactly was my problem? I haven't the foggiest. Nothing was different from any other morning except that it was a little on the chilly side. But come on, 7 times just because I was cold. I'm not buying it. Plus the last 3 were not of the quick variety if you know what I mean.

That being said, I did however finish just barely above 4 hours on a hilly course. Subtracting at least 10 minutes for all the ridiculous stops (am I the only person who frequently subtracts from her finishing time for various mishaps and obstacles?) that puts me right in range of goal time for Chicago. Yipee!

Now onto why I'm George Castanza. It's quite simple. I'm a mom (huh?). No, I'm not getting my Seinfeld's mixed up. Because I am a mom, I am frequently in a hurry and no matter how much time I leave myself, nothing ever goes as planned. There's always a last minute spitup, poop explosion, teary meltdown, injury of some sort (speaking of which...$150 for a 3 yr old's flowergirl dress, $40 for her dyed shoes, giant bruised knot on her head from twirling for Grandpa straight into the arm that lifts the leg rest on the lazy boy chair the week of the wedding...PRICELESS) or something, which prevents me from being on time and getting everything done that I want to get done (in other words, it's never my fault :-) And the same is true for my runs. I am rarely ever NOT in a rush to get them in and get cleaned up so that I can get on with all the demands from our littlest family members who do not understand things like a recovery period, ice baths, and time to stretch.

And it is because of this, that I, like George Castanza, probably more often than I would like to admit, find that...my showers don't stick (anybody see that one? Tried to find it to post, but couldn't. Sorry:-( ) I make a lame attempt to cool down from my runs with a hot shower (how's that for logic?). Then when finished, make a frantic attempt to get everything packed up for wherever we happen to be going that day. I get the girlies strapped into their car seats ("No, do not turn all the lights on in the car. Yes, I'll get you a drink. Yes. we can listen to your princess songs. WOULD YOU SIT IN YOUR SEAT PLEASE!") only to find that I am now pouring with sweat again which is not only unattractive, but also, well, stinky. But what's a gal to do? The runs got to get done right?!

'Til next time...
May all your showers stick!

P.S. If you've got another moment and you want to read something far more inspiring than anything you will ever read here. Hop on over and meet Karlos. He's just one of the many amazing kids we're running the Detroit Marathon relay for.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

George Castanza's CRIM Picture

Yep that's it. In all it's glory. That is my one and only photo from the CRIM (aren't you so thrilled I figured out how to get that beauty off my phone and onto this blog).

That is what happens when gorgeous temps draw out record numbers of participants for MI's most well known race (outside of the marathon of course). But your going to have to use your imagination a touch to get the full effect of this photo (sorry, I know you weren't looking to do any work reading this post, but it's not like I'm asking you to change a poopy diaper or anything).

You see this trash can was not only a trash can. No...it was a challenge. What you don't see is the reason the heaping mountainous trash has piled so high and no doubt piled higher even after I left. The very goal of every worn out runner with the trash from their post race goodies became to see if they could carefully balance it on the top. Now each person had only one shot at it. As you can see, nobody picked up the failed attempts and re-attempted to make their bannana peel king of the mountain. The greatest fear of each participant was that their empty water bottle would be the one to knock this magnicifent 8th Wonder of the World down. So one by one runners would tip toe over (I'm not sure why exactly the tip toeing, perhaps people were afraid that the very sound waves created by their feet might send the entire masterpiece crashing down) and then with just two fingers they would gently set their trash on top. And while there were no fancy medals handed out to the very best trash balancers. I think it's almost needless to say that for each participant who was able to successfully do so, the inner pride and sense of accomplishment for a job well done was priceless.

So why is it that this is George Castanza's CRIM photo? Well my friends, that is simple. You see I am George Castanza (in a more hair, less glasses female runner sort of way) and I took that photo. Now I had fully planned on explaining this to you all tonight, but I'm far too tired because of a 1AM wake up call from a 1 year old that started with tears and eventually wound up being a one hour conversation between her and her new stuffed animal Buddy.

So that's got me a little on the sleepy side, well that and I just finished MY RUN! That's right baby 5 miles. Albeit 5 slow miles but 5 nonethless and the calf is feeling pretty good. Whup pow! (not sure if that reads right, but that would be the way I am feeling like a bad mother for kicking a little injury A double es es tonight. You go right ahead and add a little awwwww yeah if you feel so compelled).

So I hate to leave you all hanging, but you all know my posts are too long anyway.

'Til next time...