Friday, December 24, 2010

Me vs. Cheese

Excerpts from some of the text message conversations I had with Cheese yesterday:

RM: "Just passed a funeral home called "ya sik." I was like no, they're probably dead."

EA: "Btw, my mom, who still has questions about sending emails, has signed up for facebook. maybe the mayans were right about 2012."

RM: "I just showed up to P's house. He comes out with a machine gun."

EA: "12:45am - gus and i get home and make cake shakes in the basement to not wake our parents."

RM: "7:00pm. My dad has never seen a shake weight. I instruct him how to use it, then laugh."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Shake It

I'm taking a break from my Shake Weight workout to write this.

Seriously, it's the secret power of dynamic inertia that makes this heart-pounding workout so effective in just 6 minutes a day.

I ran Celtic Solstice over the weekend and it went...well, it went. I love this race, and it is always great to see so many familiar faces before, during and after the race. After last year's insane snowstorm reduced the field to about 400 finishers, this year's conditions enabled the majority of the 3000 registered entrants to compete. With basically our entire posse there in some fashion - volunteering or racing - it was almost like a Tuesday Night Track workout.

All of us were up at the front, as the start is quite narrow. Fortunately it starts with a quarter mile uphill, so it makes it thin out (at the front) pretty quickly. I kept Arjun, Pat and Seth within range as I ran next to Tom Stott, and figured those guys would be in the 5:30-5:40 range for the first mile. Imagine my surprise when they were around 5:50 and I was just under 6!

Going back to Friday for a brief second - I was walking down in Fells Point and fell on ice outside of Shucker's. I landed pretty hard and did not feel good about it. The fall also broke my camera, so I need to get that sorted out with the establishment.

Anyway so my right hip was not feeling great and as mentioned in the earlier post, I just haven't been feeling great running lately. My stride felt short. I wore my flats, my feet felt alright, but my knee was not real excited about the idea of running fast. In the 2nd mile, Anthony went by me, as did Dave Berardi. I clipped that one in just over 6, so I guess I was right on 12 minutes at 2 miles. Approaching the little out-and-back section, I was able to see that Mellow, Prada and Tom Stott were close behind. Pat, Seth and Arjun had long gone, as had Kris, who was having a great race.

Mellow went by, and then the first placed girl caught up. I ran with her, figuring maybe I'd help keep her ahead. We re-passed Mellow and hit mile 3 in 6:10 or something, then got onto the Reservoir loop. I was running the tangents well, minimizing the distance I had to run, but mile 4 still seemed long at 6:17. I realized breaking 30 was mostly out of the question, unless I ran a 5:30 last mile (actually not impossible as the last mile is flat and finishes with a quarter mile downhill to where the start was).

I was on that line of I couldn't go any faster, but if I had gone any slower I would have felt like I wasn't going anywhere. I ran a 5:49 last mile into the finish and stayed just ahead of the first girl. 30:18 was my finish time, a scant 3 seconds slower than my Born to Run race from a few weeks back. I felt much worse during that race, but I was still fit. This race exposed the very minimal amount of running (and riding and swimming) that I've done.

Talking with people after the race, almost everyone who wore a GPS watch recorded the run at 5.1 miles. It stands to reason that, if one did not run the tangents well on the Reservoir loop, it would be long - but that still seems pretty long. Jim had the race certified, but on race day there are cars parked along the Reservoir, which undoubtedly throws off the trajectory of your straight line running. I guess my point here is that it is definitely a full 5 miles, and probably a little long.

I thought I could run a bit quicker than I did, but I also can't say I'm surprised as I've done virtually no running, and certainly nothing quicker than the pace I ran, in a month.

Following the race, everyone enjoys the best winter post-race celebration under the big top, and then a few of us hit up Kisling's. Kisling's has been a favorite of mine since 2003. I used to go a lot more frequently, but now I limit it to a few times a year. This time, however, totally hit the spot - it was the most on-point their wings have been in a while. Delicious.

Sunday morning I had planned on getting in a longer run, and I figured it would be cool to run at the park. Real bad idea. It was a winter wonderland in there, and within a few minutes I did something I've never done at Patapsco - I fell. And I fell hard. The stream crossings were quite treacherous. The water was running really high, and the rocks were iced over. Since I no longer have the ability to jump or hop, my choices were limited to caulking myself and floating, fording the river or paying a Shoshoni guide $2 to help me across.

I made it (barely) over the first two small crossings, but then came a bigger one. I stepped delicately on a rock that looked half dry, and then WWWOOOOPPP there went my legs. I landed on some ice and, more significantly, in the drink. It was cold. And wet. I got up and kept going, figuring now that I'm wet, I'll just splash through the streams. That's what I did. It was kind of fun, although just as I would regain feeling in my feet, I would lose it again splashing through the water.

My knee started really bothering me, and I wished I hadn't gone to the park. But I finished the run, 1h45m, and then went to the Ravens game with Brennan. Following the game it was time to watch this year's Hawaii coverage (broadcast the day before) and then 3 hours of Survivor season finale. It was a late night and a long day.

Monday I figured I would run TO Fed Hill with Pat and BG, and then get a ride back with Ed. But then Pat said he was going to run back, and Ed said he needed to put in 4 more after the run, so my option was wait until Ed finished (30min) or just run back. I figured it was easier to just run back. It was another 13+ day. I felt better running on the road, but by the end of the run I was pretty cooked.

Tuesday I got on my bike for the first time since Arizona, for an easy 75min on the trainer with Pat. He smeared poo all in my house (literally, Ed).

Today's plan is to run tonight and then head back to NJ tomorrow for some Yuletide greetings.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Whoa, It's Me

I started writing this post a few days ago, and it was a little too woe-is-me/I've seen a little turnaround, so I figure a rewrite was in order.

In the weeks since Arizona, my body has not been excited to move. By the end of the third week post-race, I had run a total of 38.5 miles across 7 runs, had ridden my bike exactly zero times, and swam 5 times for a total of 18,5000 meters. Suffice to say, I decided to give up the ghost on the 400 miles of swimming. I looked at it and realized I was going to have to swim at least 5k every day that I could possibly swim (between going home for Christmas, some house guests and the wedding, I had about 16 swimmable days this month.

Running hasn't been great mostly due to the cold. It's been unseasonably cold in the last couple of weeks, and this has been having a really negative affect on my knee. I used to be able to run in shorts into the low 20s, now if it's below 50 it's got to be covered up. It aches all day, and I make it through runs only to have it ache all day after I run. Basically, once I run in a day, that's it for me. No swimming, no riding. Have to do those first. Pretty much I will only be running at night for the next few months.

I ran a week ago (Thursday) without a watch for the first time in a real long time. I was trying to trick my brain into running however necessary. I ran the same run on Saturday following the timing of the Figgy Pudding 5k, and didn't run terribly slow, so I felt better about that. But it still didn't feel comfortable. Saturday afternoon/evening was our annual Christgiving pot-luck dinner, a great new tradition for our team in Baltimore, and then the Festivus celebration followed. After a pretty late night, Sunday was a flush-the-gunk run with Pat, Cheese and Brennan. The run was really slow, but I did feel slightly better than Saturday.

Monday I felt a lot better, so I tried to put an end to the gloomy outlook of "I'm not going to run this winter" and instead adopted an "I am going to struggle running this winter but I'll still do it" mindset. The weather, however, was adopting an "I hate you" motif. Air temp around 27 with windchill around 15, the winds were howling. A small yet hearty group of runners showed up to FHR, and the dudes went out for Shady 7. We picked up a pretty sweet tailwind in Cherry Hill, but then got brutalized on the Hanover bridge.

Last night I managed to run 10 miles with Pat, Barf and Harvey at WNR. Once again it was super cold, and still windy but not as bad as Sun-Tues. Of course, my satellite doesn't care, any wind over 15mph is enough to knock it out. I haven't had TV since Sunday. But as far as the run went, I was able to run alright and that's the longest in 25 days I've run, so that's good.

Now rather than rewrite anything else, I'm just going to post the remainder of my original post about how my motivation is low. Ha, man if that doesn't prove I'm lazy, I don't know what does!

Swimming is just annoying. I have swam so much in the last year and a half and I'm tired of it. I also know that I can literally take two months off and get myself into the same shape within a few weeks, so it's like I'm not even worried about it. Maybe that's a positive thing, the one thing I've learned over time is that, even being horribly banged up, I can pull myself into shape very fast. I'm trying not to sweat it. The pool is never the problem, it's getting to the pool. I am cold by the time I get there, and just don't want to get in. I ultimately jump in and get going and am fine, but then I get out, and I'm cold all day, and I smell like chemicals. Turn them down!

The bike, well that's been pure laziness. I didn't want to have to start up again by riding the trainer. I was hoping for a few days outside. But every day I went to go do it, it was shitty out. It's generally been pretty gross the last three weeks. Very cold, very windy, lots of rain. So much rain that my house sprang a leak again and damaged the beautiful wood floors.

Speaking of the house, I will be house-less in just a few weeks. Yep, Emily and Bryan received an offer and accepted it. As of this Friday, they will potentially no longer be the owners of this place. I say potentially because there is a small possibility that it may fall through, so until the ink is dry on the paperwork, I still live here. But, it's another thing I'll have to deal with in now a very short amount of time.

Part of my lack of motivation has been my schedule lately. Post-AZ week was of course Thanksgiving and a wedding, and then I had to go up to NYC for a wedding the following weekend. I stayed in NJ for what looked to be my last surgeon visit (sweet) but wound up not running for 8 days straight. I did go for an 8 mile hike on the Appalachian Trail up near the Delaware Water Gap in northwest NJ one of the days, which rocked me pretty hard. Uphill wasn't as hard on the body, but the downhills were killing me.

I think part of the new me is the need to have consistent training. I saw that, for 142 days, I did not have to take a break. Of course, it rarely dropped below 60 degrees during that stretch, which helped, but I kept moving and had very few problems. Now I feel like the decrepit shell of Alfred Terry has consumed me, and I move slowly and with nothing but aches and pains.

I am running the Celtic Solstice 5 Miler this Saturday. At this point, with 50 miles in 3 weeks and an inability to run faster than 6 minute pace, it may not be pretty. In addition to the new stress of Friday being the day of reckoning with the house, and this potentially being the last weekend of living here, I have a houseguest for roughly 5 and change days in the form of Brian Godsey. Pereless stopped through this past weekend, so it looks like the Inn at Fleet Street will keep its occupancy record until the very end. We're even thinking about having a last bash on NYE if we're still here.

I realize that it's "only" been a month since I competed at Ironman, and the point of a late season race is to chill out for a minute, so like I said, I'm not sweating the lack of training - but I am concerned about how I've been feeling. I need to get ahead of it and figure that out so I don't go too far backwards. Race season is a long way off, and as always, I'm less concerned with May than I am with next fall. But, it is nice to be able to look at next year with some certainty, as opposed to the speculation of 2010.

Coming into this year, I was full of doubt, but also optimistic that I'd be able to get back to training and racing. I was so optimistic that I signed up for Columbia and Eagleman, Arizona and even Chicago Marathon. At least I was able to do one of those four. Between 2009 and 2010, I was out about $2000 in race entry fees. Man, that's harsh. By the time I was able to start running again, I had to amend my goals. They kind of looked like this:

Run in Patapsco
Run 30 minutes for 5 miles

Do Ironman Arizona

Never before have goals been so scattered or the gap between goals so immense. On the one hand I wanted simply to run in Patapsco, but then also complete an Ironman? Crazy, Ryan, just crazy. Fortunately, I can gladly say I did accomplish all three of these goals.

I have done a few runs in the park, and as long as I can see the trail (i.e., no leaves) I can continue to run there this winter. I managed to run under 30min (off the bike) at Red Bank Tri. I ran 30:15 at Born to Run 2 weeks ago. This weekend is Celtic Solstice, where I hope to be under 30, and then I'm going to do the Polar Bear 5 Miler on 12/26 in Asbury Park. And of course, I did the Ironman. Not too shabby.

Since I feel like this post has been somewhat scatter-brained, I'm going to save my 2011 plans and goals for another post. For now I'll enjoy the surprising amount of snowfall we are getting.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Cold November Rain

Alright so let's see, I've had two really, really long posts now, so I should probably cap the volume of words in this one.

As I continue to replay last week's race, I feel pretty good about a number of things. For instance, I feel like it was the best I've done with nutrition in any race I've ever done, and as a result I'm sure that helped me not feel totally wrecked at the end of the race or the next day. I also feel good about the effort level, as in I didn't get ahead of myself and try to get after it too hard. In the future, that will change, but for this time, I think it was the best move. Of course, that didn't really help my time at all, but that's the breaks.

Following my 5 miler on Friday, I headed back down to MD for rehearsal dinner/wedding. This week is another rehearsal dinner/wedding. While I would like to just be able to chill out for a minute, I suppose it's better than them having been prior to AZ, and at least they're immediately following the race so I don't feel as bad about taking some time off.

I think doing that race may have set my recovery back a few days. I have been tired, and haven't really been in the mood to do any "training." Maybe that's just what happens when doing a big race so late in the year. Even though I only started preparing really in July, it's still the farthest into the year I've ever gone, with NYC Marathon 2008 the previous mark. I took Sunday off and went to watch the #2 Terps men's soccer beat #15 Penn State on a goal in the 88th minute to advance to Friday's NCAA Semi-final.

Monday I made it to FHR and did the 6 miles. We ran together for a mile, then the pace picked up and I got left behind. Fortunately, Zero was okay with running my slow pace and eventually we picked up a few others to run with us. Tuesday, the last day of November, was rainy and windy. The temperature, though, was mild. A fairly large group met at the track to do a workout, which was surprising because there were weeks when it was nice that we didn't have that many people out. I ran the warmup and cooldown, and that was enough for me.

Today I finally made it back in the pool, after swimming just 1500m last week. My goal is a lofty one, to make it to 400 miles. After today I'm at 350, so I need to swim another 80,000m this month. Normally I wouldn't think that's too bad, but I'm going to miss a bunch of days due to traveling this month. I'll see how I feel after a few days of this, it's a less-than-significant goal, but I'd like to get there. I'd also like to get to 5000 miles on the bike, currently I'm 570 miles away. And I'm at 770 miles of running and would like to get to 900. I think that's reasonable.

For the month of November, I ended up with 36,500m of swimming, 455 miles on the bike and 131.5 miles of running. I was a little disappointed with the bike, as I could have just gone out for one 45 mile ride and had a cool 500 for the month. But then, I just didn't feel like doing it last week and didn't have time over the weekend.

I have one more goal this year - the Celtic Solstice 5 Miler on December 18. The first two years I ran it, I ran 30:46. Exactly. Both years. I wasn't "racing" either of those years, so in 2007 I tried to see what I could do. I managed a 29:06, which was a pretty decent time. In 2008 I hadn't run much following NYC Marathon but managed a respectable 29:28. Obviously didn't get to race last year, but this year I'm hoping to take a crack at getting under 29. I think it's reasonable, but I'm not going to beat myself up if I don't hit it - I won't do anything but easy running between now and then anyway.

I've started to think about my goals for next year, as well as my race schedule, so I'll get to that next.