Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Black Stripes

Going back to school has put me in situations that I wouldn't be in, had I continued in the business world. For example, I have become intimately familiar with those local establishments that provide free WiFi.

One of these establishments is a Caribou Coffee, located less than a mile away from school. I went over there to read up on the physiology of respiration and to get my mocha on. Shortly after I settled down at a table, the music of the White Stripes came on over the coffeehouse speakers.

The nerdy, white, IT professional behind me audibly tensed as he spoke into what can only be described as a double-laptop.

If you are unfamiliar with the White Stripes, they are a two-person rock band from Detroit. They look like this:

They sound like this.

The IT man's comment to his co-worker was that it was rather "jarring" to hear "southern, African-American, rock-and-roll blues at a homogenous, suburban, public place."

He then went on to erroneously compare big band jazz (which he found delicious) to "African-American jazz."

I can only assume that Steve Urkel was on the other end of the line.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


C managed to lure me over to a marathon tapering seminar that her running club hosted. She successfully got me out of the door with the ever-enticing promise of free pizza.

This attendance-driving strategy harkens back to random lectures during college:
Lecture on Market Strategies for Widgets in Southern Missouri -- wow that sounds boring.
Lecture on Market Strategies for Widgets in Southern Missouri (Free Pizza and Refreshments Provided) -- AMAZING! Let me call all of my friends!

I agreed to go and we drove over to the event. Upon arrival, I immediately felt like an intruder.

Here were running folk for all to see: sweaty from after-work runs, wearing Saucony or Brooks clothing and undoubtedly talking about running.

And there I was, nervous-eating a heap of free pizza and downplaying the fact that I also "run." But I'm not going to brag about my 12-mile week while the old lady sitting next to me is doing an 8-mile taper run.

In a lot of ways, I think that running is a lonely sport but I can't help but compare myself to these marathoners. And, truly, there's no comparison at this point.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hard Boiled Eggs and 23 Minutes

When I first embarked on this crazy running ride, I had one short term goal: to run a 5K race in less than 23 minutes.

My first 5K race this month was kind of a disappointment because I ran it in slightly over 24 minutes. Sure, it was also surprisingly exhilarating, fun, cold and wet, a chore, an annoying early morning run -- but I am pretty disappointed with my time.

Maybe you're reading this while thinking, "stop being a baby. I would kill to run anything at 7:49 pace." I agree with you. Maybe I am being a baby. Maybe I should be happy. After all, I haven't run regularly since 2002. I only started running two months before the race. All things considered, it was an okay time and I should be happy with it.

However, regardless of how quickly (or slowly, in my case) someone runs, it's always disappointing when they feel like they have left something on the table.

I encountered a similar experience late last night, as I was trying to make hard-boiled eggs. Because I am a completely inadequate and impatient cook, I managed to undercook them. I hate undercooked eggs with a vehement passion.

In this analogy, my first 5K was a hot egg. Yes, it looked delicious. But I found out that it was a runny, yoky little bastard when I opened it.

Now I have to step up to the plate and run like I'm capable of doing. My new goal is to drop a sub-23:00 at the Hot Chocolate 5K in November. Ring the gong because here I come!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Here Come The Weekdays

I didn't go on one run this weekend.

On Fridays, I work from about noon to about 9 PM. The before work run fell apart because I wanted to get as much sleep as possible. I'm too burnt out after work to even contemplate doing anything physical so I scratched that day.

I went to Notre Dame on Saturday. My girlfriend's dad got football tickets on short notice and I was invited to go. I love going to Notre Dame games so I couldn't pass it up. But unfortunately, it's a full day affair. I left my house at 7:00 AM and returned at about 10:30 PM. Besides a halftime bathroom break at the stadium, I did not run this day.

I am currently going to school full-time at the local community college. So I hit the books all day today. I could've slipped a run in but because of my academic neuroticism and laziness, I opted to play NCAA Football on the 360 during study breaks instead of going for a run.

I'm slacking on the running front. Gotta get after it this week.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


I finally feel like I'm starting to get physical and mental running gains.

Since the 5K, all of my runs have been at a faster pace than my latest race pace -- with one exception -- so I'm very happy with myself.

And I've also been able to steadily increase my mileage. I'm not longer wallowing around 1 or 1.5 mile runs. I'm up to 2.5 miles per run at a minimum. Two miles is starting to become cake, baby yeah!

Who knew after two months, I'd be in okay regular-person shape? I guess if you're at the very bottom, there's nowhere to go but up. Let's keep this going!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Plantar Nerve Pain

I've been getting a bit of plantar nerve pain on both feet lately. I quickly blamed it on my "worn-out" shoes because, hey, who among us wouldn't want an excuse to buy a fresh, new pair of kicks? (I've been eyeing those new Saucony Guide 3's for a while now...)

But alas, during my run today, it occurred to me that the nerve pain and muscle tightness might be due to excessive heel striking. So, although it was a quick run, I kept consciously trying to shorten my stride and work on keeping my knees above my feet on each step.

I'll need to test this hypothesis more to make sure that my overstriding's the real problem. In any case, the nerve pain went away. And even though I felt like my increased stride turnover was slowing me down, I still ran the 2.5 miles at a decent 7:41 pace. Rejoice!

Monday, September 20, 2010

DuPage PADS 5K Race Report

The Day of Reckoning has come and past!

When I woke up that morning and looked outside, I realized that the weather wouldn't cooperate. It was cool, dark and rainy as I left my place which added to the ominous feel of the morning.

C picked me up and we drove to the race site to check-in. We grabbed our stuff from the nice registration staff and went about our warm-ups.

She motored along for two miles or so. I only tagged along for about a half of a mile before turning around and walking back to the race area. I still have no endurance so I figured that it probably wasn't a great idea to warm-up for a distance anywhere near the actual race distance.

Even though I felt like that was a good decision, I still felt like I had improperly warmed up. And I didn't stretch out either. So I started the day with two big no-no's, especially since it was drizzling and the temperature was about 60 F.

I walked back to the car to pin on my race bib and fumbled around nervously with the chip timer. Surprisingly, I wasn't too nervous as I approached the start line. I signed up for the race with my girlfriend and two other friends so maybe the company helped soothe my soul. Or maybe I've just gotten wise beyond my years -- I was an absolute nervous wreck while waiting for the gun during my high school track days. Whatever the cause, it was nice to stay loose and easy before exerting myself in the longest race of my young life.

Mile One

We were off before I knew it. I started the first quarter mile rather slowly, trying to ease into the race. But I quickly got irritated with having to sidestep slower participants so I weaved my way around to the front of the large pack during the first half mile. Once clearing the mass start clot, I found myself pacing with a grandpa, a guy about my age who was wheezing very hard, a gentleman scholar with a nice Saucony hat and an older, ninjarunner (all-black clothing) woman. Together we hit the first mile marker at 7:45.

Mile Two

My dream of starting slowly and running negative splits just disappeared. I rarely ran below 8:00 pace on my training runs so what the hell was I thinking running a 7:45 while ducking people for most of that mile? When I realized this, I kind of freaked out. I tensed up a little and consciously slowed my pace.

The Saucony Hat Gentleman dropped off shortly after the one mile marker. At about 1.5 miles, Ninjarunner Woman started to peel off of Grandpa and Wheezy. I started to follow her and realized that my lungs were starting to burn. So I focused on breathing deeply (which helped) and slowed my pace. Eventually, Wheezy picked me back up with Grandpa in tow. I hit the second mile marker at 16:16.

Mile Three (and change)

I saw that time on my stopwatch and freaked out again. I had slowed dramatically without really realizing it and my goal time of sub-23:00 was slipping away. I caught a second wind, of sorts, aided by the growing amount of spectators. So I picked up the pace. Grandpa stayed with me and we dropped Wheezy. I was almost worried for the guy. Wheezy had been breathing very, very heavily since right before the first mile marker. Hopefully, he's still alive somewhere.

I had never run a 5K before. In high school, I was a 400 meter, 800 meter and hurdler. I ran the mile only once so I had little idea on how to run a 3.1 mile race. I severely miscalculated when to start my kick and it was way too late. But still, approaching the finish line was difficult. My lungs were burning.

Race Time: 24:15

A good minute off my preferred time. I was happy with the effort but felt like there was a lot left on the table. I'll live to run another day. It's a good start, I suppose.