Wednesday, 28 December 2011
I'll admit it. I have had some second thoughts over the past few weeks since I crazily signed up for the inaugural Rock and Roll New Orleans marathon in March...until today.
I had been running in a mix of my VFFs and my Brooks Beasts...two extremes, to be sure. I love running in the barefoot shoes, and have wanted to be able to go the marathon distance in them one day. However, the only running injury I've ever had was sustained while trying to go 8 miles in the barefoot shoes, too quickly, too soon. Fractured my third metatarsyl in my right foot, and was out of commission for nearly three months...until saved by Chinese herbs. Really.
The Beasts are just that...and although they have served me well over the course of 30 marathons and all the training that went into them, I have hated running in them lately. I have been dreading the prospect of doing RNRNO in them. I have considered dropping out, but I have a group of amazing friends who are going, too...so pulling out would not be cool.
Fast forward to yesterday. I realized what I needed was a mix of the two shoes...although leaning more in the direction of the minimalist option. I put the question out on Daily Mile, Facebook and Twitter...and within 20 minutes I got some really thoughtful suggestions. Long story short, two people recommended a shoe company I'd never heard of...Altra. I checked out their web site, found two styles I really wanted to try and discovered that one of a handful of running stores in the entire Bay Area to carry them is Transport, which is about 5 blocks from my house. Go figure! Half an hour later I arrived home with my new, zero-drop Altra Instincts, thrilled at the idea of hitting the pavement in them this morning. The new shoes are pretty much VFFs without the toe slots, replaced by a big toe box that allows the toes to spread naturally, with a tad more protection underfoot. I was hoping this was the perfect combo.
I rolled out the front door in the dark, with fully-charged Garmin 305, similarly-energized and podcast-loaded iPod, snuggly-warm beanie and gloves and Santa Barbara International Marathon hoodie, and hit the road for my scheduled 12 miler.
I thoroughly expected to experience new-shoe break-in wobblies...and figured I might make it 5-6 miles before worrying about hurting myself, and heading for home. Didn't happen.
The first three miles were pretty much all uphill...and the zero-drop design takes a little getting used to because it changes one's posture to a midfoot strike, and uses different muscles in the legs and back than regular running shoes. Downhills and flats were a blast. There were many moments that I ran through my scheduled walk breaks, because I was engrossed in my movie review podcasts...and didn't even notice that I'd forgotten about my strides, heartrate, and pace.
Again...long story, short. These shoes were a revelation. I did my scheduled 12...and may even have had another 2-3 in me, gladly. But I was home, and packed it in for the day. Upon entering my apartment I told my wife "I'm a runner again!" This is what it felt like during the best moments of the 12 in 12.
I am retiring my Beasts. They will now be gardening or casual shoes. They have served me well over the past ten years. But I am moving on. It's all minimal from now on.
Bring it on New Orleans. I'm now looking for a fall marathon, too.
Monday, 19 December 2011
I needed some inspiration this morning. I had a 10 miler on the schedule...written in ink on my desk blotter. In ink! That means I had no choice. But, I was not feeling it. Thanks to my Facebook friends who pushed me out the door.
I have 2.5 months to go til my next marathon. Rock and Roll New Orleans at the beginning of March. I have worked my way back up to double digit mileage, as of this morning, and I am happy with that. But, I'll be honest...it's bloody boring...other than the scenery.
I knew that already...having run a few of these things before. But, seeing that I've taken a couple years off, I seem to have forgotten a lot. I am getting reacquainted...with the drudgery. But, it's a good drudgery.
I was ridiculously slow. 13:00 per mile pace. That sucks...but it's all I had in me. I thought about bailing early on, but decided I it was more important to remind my limbs and joints of what distance is all about. They're remembering.
Undaunted...I am pressing on. 12 is next.
Tuesday, 29 November 2011
Saturday, 29 October 2011
Yep! You guessed it.
Sunday, 23 October 2011
Since then, I have run little. I didn't work to not run...but I didn't try real hard to run. I just couldn't find a reason to do it anymore. Until now.
A few months later...I "qualified" for acceptance into the Goon Squad Runner's club...based in Boston. Yes, THAT Boston. As I was sitting in my Motel 6 room, having a beer, after finishing the 12 in 12 in Santa Barbara, I got a congratulatory call from the Goons. One of the best calls...ever.
Monday, 26 September 2011
My heart pounded like crazy for hours last Sunday night, as I squirmed atop my Sacramento Hosteling International bunk bed. I was, admittedly, in some "discomfort." I'll not call it pain, as whatever it was that hurt, after my 75 mile, 6 hour bike adventure across the Sacramento River Delta, was tempered with the realization that, on the downhill, freewheeling side of the slope that leads to 60 years old, I can still do this sh*T. And, perhaps even more importantly, for me...I still want to.
Monday, 15 August 2011
There are now, as always, changes in the works.
Monday, 25 July 2011
Saturday, 2 July 2011
No sooner had I committed to my next distance run, the NorCal Half Marathon in San Jose in September, than my work life got in the way of training for same. But I'm still in.
Thursday, 9 June 2011
It is still a functioning lighthouse, and the hostel part is where the keeper used to live. If you've never done the hostel thing, I will highly recommend it. Most have just about everything you'd want, except privacy. But, that's the draw for many. This is a view from the self-catering kitchen. Nothing to sneeze at there.
The picture above was taken in the morning. The one below was taken at the other end of the day, as the sun sunk below the horizon. The quiet was stunning.
The next morning was about coffee, and an early start in search of breakfast. I made two new friends here. One was heading north, the other was going the same way as me, with the Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel next, some 30 miles away. We didn't ride together, though, preferring to go solo.
From here on out it was all about the ride...and artichoke garlic bread. No, really. The Pigeon Point Lighthouse's address is Pescadero...but it's actually about four or five miles outside of the little coastal town. There's not much to see or do in Pescadero, however, cyclists, motorcyclists, and drivers alike all make the trek here anyway...for the aforementioned bread. It's freshly baked all day long and is packed with quartered artichoke hearts and garlic. If you time it just right you can grab a loaf straight out of the oven, take it to the picnic area round back, and just shove it into your mouth! Unreal...but real. When I arrived my new friend from the night before was already there, stuffed..and happy. After I had mine, I bought all the fixin's for a big pasta meal at Pigeon Point, and headed out.
Said goodbye to Pigeon Point at about 8am, after finally getting a decent cup of coffee, but nothing to eat. I was looking for breakfast somewhere, but not really wanting to stop for a sit-down meal. Chose a basket of organic strawberries instead, at a roadside produce stand, as the clouds burned away and bright blue skies opened up. With only 11 miles to go, I was looking forward to the ride being over, but sad that it was over so soon. I hadn't done any sort of touring since my last trip to England to ride the End to End...that ended with me throwing in the towel because both hands went numb. This ride reminded me that I actually love doing this...and I'm so looking forward now to next year's return to finish the E2E...and training for it between now and then.
But that's not all. I really did have a Skippy burger. It's a burger with Monterey Jack, bacon AND peanut butter. And it is good!! Really.
Tuesday, 31 May 2011
Wednesday, 25 May 2011
Sunday, 15 May 2011
This year's race has new sponsors, who, by the way, did stellar work, I must say. I was worried the new rules limiting the participants to JUST 55-thousand, banning booze, floats, and nudity would just take the magic out of it. Didn't happen. I will say I saw only one person flagrantly imbibing, tossing back some Jim Beam. She was handling it pretty well, for 7:15am. I did miss Cal's Tiki Bar, but all-in-all, I think the booze ban achieved its goal. The spirit was goofy, and fun, not out-of-control stoopid! There were many pleasant references, however, to the excess of years-past.
The course was alive with all manner of delight. These folks were powered by Tiger Blood, apparently. I passed them, Tiger Blood-less, regardless. At this point we're still in Mile 1, running west on Howard Street, heading for the hard right turn at the Chevron station on 9th. The best part of this mile for me was coming up on my good pal, Paul, and his young son, Connor. We did a quick catch-up...and then I headed off, hoping to reconnect at the end. Didn't happen.
We stay on 9th for about a quarter-mile, turn left on Hayes, travel through the good eats paradise that is Hayes Valley...and onwards to the infamous Hayes Hill. This is the only hill on the course, but it is a doozy. There's no point trying to run up it, unless you're one of the elites, who, by this time in the race, were about to win the big money about four miles west of us. The cyclone fencing I'd heard was going to be erected here, to keep runners from peeing on residents' doorsteps, was not.
Or, what! Seriously. Those are bison. In the city park. If you're from here, you don't care. If you're not...it's pretty cool, right? This is literally...where the buffalo roam.
I posted a 1:29, according to my Garmin 305. It's not my fasted B2B, but not my slowest, either. I would have loved to have come in at 1:15 or 1:18...but I haven't been running for a while, so I'll take what I get, with bells on.
By the way. If you're wondering about the whole nudity thing during this year's B2B. It has NOT gone away. If you want to see a picture of the 50-60 year old dudes who thought we wanted to see their junk, check out the post before this one. I have a shot of the same guys from this year's race. They have nothing to add. For those who wonder about the female nudes...there were, by my count, none. That is, unless you count the young lady above. I have it on good authority, there's nothing much under the tutu. I'm just saying.
Monday, 9 May 2011
Friday, 29 April 2011
The plan..is to get lean.
Sunday, 3 April 2011
Perhaps you have noticed, if you've returned here on more than a couple of occasions. There's a subtle (?) theme to many of my posts. That theme, food and/or drink.
Thursday, 31 March 2011
Sunday, 13 March 2011
Tuesday, 1 March 2011
As you may recall, 2010 was not the best year ever, for me, or a whole lot of people. Fortunately, the time bomb that was never did ignite, largely, I think, because my gym has a jacuzzi.
What little I did run or ride last year had more to do, I'll be honest, with my need to sit in some hot water and just forget. After visiting Budapest a few years ago I became convinced that in a former life I lived there, or Sweden, or somewhere else that has what I've heard called a "bathing" culture. If you know nothing about the baths of Budapest, check this out.
So far, 2011 has been better than 2010, by leaps and bounds. So much so that during a recent run in San Francisco's Mission Bay neighborhood, I realized it was not about the tub. It was again about the run. It was a stellar moment. I made no proclamations about it then, because I've tired of making those announcements and then having to back off from them. I still end up in the hot tub, but it's no longer the goal. I'm good with that.
Not only have I been running more (although, still not a lot), I have also been on the bike again. With just over a year to go til my 60th birthday I have begun to seriously plan and train for my ride from John O'Groats in Scotland to Land's End in England. Here's a video put together my three guys who did the same ride, so you get some idea of what it's all about.
A few days ago I installed new the new "moustache" handlebars on the touring bike (picture above) AND a camera mount...and headed off for a 15 mile ride along the Richmond shoreline to test both out. Both get good marks. I then spent five hours yesterday learning how to use Windows Movie Maker and put together this little ditty. YouTube made me change the soundtrack (some goofy thing about copyright. I really don't think CSNY would mind if I put "Carry On" under my production...but, there you go. The original is posted on my Facebook page.) I intend to vlog much of my bike training over the next year, before I head across the pond...to do 1000 miles in 3-4 weeks. Guess I have to find a new source of useable music tracks.
Training for my "mystery marathon" has not begun in earnest yet, but it will soon. For those of you eyeing the "Just Finish" technical shirt that I'll be sending to whomever guesses where I'm going before I go, the next clue to the destination is...I have until May 28th to register at the current price of $85...after which the fee skyrockets to $90. That's all you get for now.
I am in the market for my 2nd pair of Vibram Five Fingers "barefoot shoes." I have stayed true to my commitment to not return to regular running shoes, and am very happy with that decision. I now wear my Brooks Beasts when gardening. Before I buy the new VFFs though I would love to hear from those of you who run in Nike Frees. I think they may be a good option, too, but would like personal testimonies before I make my final choice.
Gotta run, gotta ride!
Monday, 14 February 2011
I have finally run far enough in my "barefoot shoes" that they're getting close to wearing through. Time for another pair.
It's a good thing, as I've been running a lot lately (compared with last year), exploring parts of San Francisco I know little about, namely the South Beach area. It's were all the cool kids live these days.
I began running in VFF's a couple of years ago now..even before the book "Born to Run" came out. I had no idea how much work it was to run in regular running shoes until I ran without them. I bought my old red Sprints, online, on sale, after trying some on in a brick-and-mortar store to determine the right size.
Recently three of my running friends have decided to give the VFF's a try. I hope they love them as much I like mine. It has made running sort of kid-like. Can't wait to get my new KSOs.
An that's not all. Just bought moustache handlebars for my touring bike. They're kind of bike geeky, but they offer a number of hand positions not available with my current drop bars. As I am about a year away from riding the End to End in the UK, doing 60-80 miles a day for about three weeks, variable hand positions are a good thing. They also have enough room for my nifty new camera mount, which means I'll get to post some yummy videos of screaming downhills and torturous ups, along with the requisite still shots of the end-of-the-day beers and other pleasures.
Our effort to live more simply and cheaply is bearing some fruit...actually, vegetables. Have joined a community garden project in our little town of Albany, and have our own raised bed. So far we've planted cauliflower, broccoli, peas, beans, spinach, lettuce, beets, artichokes, radishes, cabbage and brussels sprouts...and it's only about half full!
In order to put all that work to good use, we have returned to the kitchen where we used to spend a lot of time. My favourite "cuisine" is Indian, and we're doing a lot of that. The apartment very often smells of roasted cumin, which is NOT a bad thing, believe me. We're also doing lots of slow cooker recipes. Bung 'em all in the cooker, turn it on..come back in eight hours and dig in!
and...I have again begun work on my book. Late last year I started it, and had a full introduction and one chapter done. Then spent a few days at a friends cabin at Pt. Reyes, read what I had written, and quickly decided it was crap. Spent the next few months waiting for inspiration...and trying to determine my "voice" for the book. Think I've found it this time. I may post excerpts over the next few months to get your feedback. Please, be brutal.
Mystery marathon CLUE #4 - The course is marked in kilometers!
Monday, 31 January 2011
Thursday, 20 January 2011
Tuesday, 18 January 2011
Monday, 17 January 2011
I am ready to admit it. There are very few things I can commit to doing every flippin' day.
Drinking two cups of coffee, first thing. That one you can bank on, full stop. Checking my e-mail and my Facebook page. Two other sure things. That may be about all I am able, or willing, to commit to. That leaves a lot of stuff, while attractive and inspiring in many cases, subject to not much more than whim or mood of the day.
This does not bode well for my Janathon adventure. The goal there was, seriously, to run or walk or ride everyday in January and then blog a bit about the day's achievement. My intent was pure and good. My follow through has been dismal. I am officially accepting that...and conceding. I will NOT be taking home the gold at the end of this month.
I am more than willing to go on epic bike rides between now and the end of the month, and will try to log as many miles I'm able, with that and running and walking. I could even possibly rack up more miles than anyone else, but I will not have done it according to the proper guidelines.
My best wishes go out to all the Janathon participants who are still in the hunt for glory! I will be watching, reading your blogs, and cheering you on. If there was even a chance that I might have been able to take part in the post-Janathon celebration in London in February I might have stayed true to the game...but that's not happening.
And then...there's this. In order to keep myself moving at some level of respectable pace for the better part of the rest of 2011, I am telling myself that I will run another marathon this year. However, once I've chosen it, I am going to keep it a secret. The way it's going to work is...I am going to do some research, pick a great destination race, train, FINISH...and then, just like at the end of a home-makeover show on television, there will be the big "reveal."
So, just think...one day later this year, you'll get to wake up one morning, wipe the sleep from your eyes, pour your cup of morning joe, and check the runners' blogs you check...and learn that I've done it again. Won't that be awesome for you?? Okay, maybe not. But that's how I'm doing it.
I may drop a clue every now and then...and you can try to guess where I'm going. And get this...if you're the first one to get it...BEFORE I run, I'll give you a free membership in the Just Finish group AND a brand new Just Finish running shirt. Truth told, membership in Just Finish is always free and you can (and really should) sign up now. We're a fun bunch of athletes. You could make it that much more fun! Check it out, huh? See you there.
By the way, don't guess yet. I haven't chosen my race. And...thanks to Kevin at Just Finish, for providing the awesome prize!
Thursday, 6 January 2011
(First off I must say I absolutely HATE Blogger! I have tried three different browsers and none of them will let me put these pics where I want them. Arrgh! You'll have to connect the not-too-difficult dots. Sorry!)
NOW! After my miserable attempt at a three mile run earlier this week I was afeared that I'd aged over the last year of inactivity to the point where the damage could not be repaired. However, somehow, awoke this morning with an itchin' to get on my bike, despite the frigid temps.