Saturday, October 31, 2015

2015 Potter Village 5K

We began having a neighborhood Halloween party around five years ago, though often it has been cancelled due to inclement weather (in one case, due to hurricane.) Last year organizers of the event arranged a 5K run, which I had originally enthusiastically announced interest in, and then had the decline due to a work conflict.

The race went ahead as planned, with one participant - Aaron. He had a great time as it was his first 5K and he came in first. As I recall it was a pretty miserable, rainy day, but I understand a good time was had by all.

Today, for the first time, our neighborhood party fell on Halloween day itself. And it was cool and in the mid-40s and overcast but at least it was dry. And so we held the Second Annual Potter Village 5K with three participants, all dudes - myself, Aaron and Jeremy.

Unofficial time: 21:50
Overall Place: 1st
Actual Distance: 3.2 miles

Yes, I smoked them. Had to. Okay, not by much. We each came in roughly oneminute after each other.

Four laps in the streets around our neighborhood, the first half of each lap almost entirely on a steady incline, the third-quarter lap a serious decline back to the street on which I live, which is pretty level. I'm too good on hills, and then open up my stride on the downhill, it's like walking. Each lap we received a set a beads to mark our progress.

The finish line should have been well, a tenth of a mile sooner, but we all forgot that and went all the way back to the start.

I'm still coming off marathon training, so this was pleasantly easy and I'm still a little crazy. I'm also eating a lot. At the potluck a had a piece of fried chicken, two hot dogs and a lot of other things. This morning I was at 160 lbs., and tonight there will be candy. We must be careful.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

This is Halloween.

No, I haven't wanted to run. And the snacking has begun. It was a long day, taking me from school to library to desk, to Lorain County in the rain and back, in a suit and tie. Arriving home I wanted to take a nap, but the weather is so nice, overcast and cool.

Checking my phone for music someone suggested the boy come with me, he asked if he could ride his bike. And that was an even better idea.

Distance: 3.3 miles
Avg Pace: 9:18
Route: Boulevard Loop

He asks me a lot about how I am able to run long distances. We talk about health and fitness. He extols the beauty and wonder of our city, and how nice all the people are that we pass. We stop and take pictures of that amazingly vast and grotesque annual yard display on Mayfield.

Temperature: 63°
Climate: cool with light rain
Weight: 157.5 lbs.
Mood: very positive, now.

We had a spelling bee my fifth grade year and I was eliminated first by leaving out the "o" in Halloween but I still enjoy the holiday.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Won't you breathe with me?

Sad runner.
Now that the dust has settled, that my training is concluded and the race has been run, let me speak on behalf of long distance runners.

Stop being an ass when talking to your friends who are long-distance runners.

This summer there was an article on a certain website which flogged a recent British Psychology Society study which determined that most long distance runners (which in this study meant people running for eight miles) are miserable when running.

A lot of people made sure I knew about this article. To see if this is true. Because I'm a fucking moron or something because I run long distances.

Now I don't know anything about this study, only what I read condensed in that one blarticle. I do know I ran 26.2 miles on earlier this month - which isn't even a normal distance for me, you know - and I wasn't miserable. I was only feeling discomfort the last few miles, and no one thinks that football players or soccer players become "miserable" when pushing their abilities from playing their sport.

Who are these people, these people who run eight miles and are asked to record their thoughts while running, and for three minutes out of ten babble about how in pain they are? I don't have a clue. I would recommend they choose a different exercise routine. They should just freaking stop.

So should the people who keep asking their running friends if it's true they are totally stupid for running.

Distance: 3.2 miles
Avg Pace: 7:38
Route: Boulevard Loop

I don't like being negative on this blog. Don't be negative with me, okay?

Temperature: 57°
Climate: cool with light rain
Weight: 159.5 lbs.
Mood: anxious

What's That Lyric?
Born Under Punches - Talking Heads

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

If you say run, I'll run with you.

A photo posted by Toni Thayer (@beediekt) on

Once I was the only person in my house who said things like, "It's beautiful out, I'd really like to take a run." Or even say to another family member, "I want us to finish this conversation, but first I really need to take a run."

Now I am not the only person in the house who says things like that. And that makes me very happy.

Distance: 3.23 miles
Avg Pace: 26:24
Route: Boulevard Loop

Temperature: 61°
Climate: cool & humid
Weight: 157 lbs.
Mood: positive

What's That Lyric?
Let's Dance - David Bowie

Saturday, October 17, 2015

When everything feels all over.

White Rabbit Red Rabbit
October 24, 7:00 PM
Oh, hai, running.

Lot of stuff going on in our little world. Work, good work. Very good work. Not just for me (though I reflect on that at length in my writing blog) but for all four of us.

I want to, need to be sure to strike a balance between the mind work and the body work. Karl and I were discussing that around the fire in Athens last week, you can push so hard in pursuit of a goal, but once the (literal) race has been run, you can just stand still, and wonder what is left for you to do.

This is true about figurative races as well, you know.

The people around me set a good example, the children are very physically active, and the wife continues successfully with her routine. There are laments, not enough time to get the running in, too many days between workouts. But that's just totally normal. We all feel that.

Distance: 3.2 miles
Avg Pace: 7:37
Route: Boulevard Loop

My goal for the marathon was to run an average pace of 8:30. Did I mention I made 8:29? That's how I did that.

The list of posts at right are the most popular posts in my nine-plus years of keeping this blog. That accumulative, so it takes quite a many view to jump into the list. I don't know why most of them are there, except for passing references to Impossibly Photogenic Guy or Jenn Shelton or perhaps a very popular song lyric.

However, I was very happy to see the TCM post make the top 10. Thanks for that.

Temperature: 43°
Climate: cool and overcast ... hail?
Weight: 158 lbs.
Mood: very glad to be working out

Obsessively eating these days. Mostly almonds, though, so that's better than the alternative.

What's That Lyric?
Let My Love Open the Door * - Pete Townshend

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Homecoming 2015

Just a beautiful weekend with friends and family in Athens, Ohio. We did this two years ago, three Yogamomz families taking over the back 40 of the Wolf homestead for some late nights of food and beverage and pool and vinyl and last night practically the entire crew was in and out of the kitchen, contributing to an amazing dinner of locally everything.

Yesterday, following the Homecoming parade (which is generally the extent of my alumni involvement) I had the chance to give our visitors a brief tour of the campus. We were fortunate to skulk the RTV building at just the right time that a generous faculty member invited us into the Patio theater where they were having tech for The Penelopiad which opens next weekend. I spent a lot of time in that theater once. An awful lot of time.

This morning my wife and I went out to the bike path for a partner run. We have never had the chance to run together, ever, really. Earlier in our relationship she might come with me, but she couldn't run so far and I wouldn't stop. Now she can run further, and I don't need to go so far nor fast.

We will head out in our own good time, time enough to get home and prepare for a normal week of school and week. Are any of them them truly normal?

Brian Blessed: I delivered a baby in a park, bit the umbilical cord and licked the infant's face 
The larger-than-life actor speaks for the first time about delivering a baby girl under a tree in Richmond Park while he was out running.
- The Telegraph, 10/7/2015

Wait ... Brian Blessed was a runner?

Walk/Run: 2.15 miles
Avg Pace: 13:38
Route: Hocking River Bike Path

Temperature: 54
Climate: cool and clear
Mood: calm and happy

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Wake up.

Bizarre to think this is entirely normal to me now. By mid-morning Monday I was taking the stairs like it was no big thing -- had to, I needed to make my way across Charlotte Douglas Airport for a connecting flight. Standing up, sitting down, I had little painful reminder that twenty-four hours previous I was in the process of running like hell for 26.2 miles.

My sister-in-law was very attentive and asked if I needed anything. Water to drink? Something to eat? I did need water to drink, and things to eat, but I had done so much eating and drinking on the run I didn't feel particularly depleted, of anything.

It was not just that my body has become accustomed to long-distance running, but that I have become accustomed to always been ready for long-distance running. Staying well-fed with the right foods, remaining hydrated. My brain pings when I am missing something, and do I have that. More good fats, the right kind of salty food, the good beverages.

For my father's 80th birthday there was a happy gathering of folks from around Flood's Cove, we had invited them all for "wine hour" and they all came. Family and friends and strangers. It was marvelous. Just before the hour was over, the wife came over and suggested I say something. I was not prepared to speak, but of course. I am very glad she reminded me to do that, that's just the kind of event after which I think, "I should have said something."

I spoke on behalf of my brothers, and spoke for myself, thanking my father for the impression he has made on me, and how he gave me a great appreciation of reading, and of history. My cousin added, "Don't forget running," and I quickly agreed - yes, I said. My father had inspired me to be an athlete.

To this he got that look on his face that I have inherited when something has said something we find entirely ridiculous. He said smilingly, more dismissive of his own efforts than of mine, "Oh ... running isn't athletic."

That's something else he gave me, the feeling that I could never be an athlete.

Distance: .85 miles
Route: once around the block

Other success story, I had no chafing, no bleeding. None. The right equipment, and plenty of glide.

Temperature: 66°
Climate: cool, overcast
Weight: 15 lbs.
Mood: decent

What's That Lyric?
Mouthful of Diamonds - Phantogram

Sunday, October 04, 2015

2015 Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon

Full Minnesota
Official Time: 3:42:07
Avg. Pace: 8:29

Previous Best: 3:56:19 (Cleveland 2012)

First of all, everyone loves Captain America.

Nine years ago, in New York, I wrote PENGO on my shirt. It was a great thrill hearing all the spectators cheering me on as "Pengo!" I mean, I could have written David, but then I wouldn't be sure they were talking to me. Lot of Davids in that race.

Today, I wore the Captain America shirt. And everyone loves Captain America. And that was entirely awesome.

Everything went very well, beginning last night when I finally (thanks to my sister-in-law Julie, who has been totally awesome and supportive through all of this) got on the phone with their friend Kelly, who has run the TCM some fifteen times.

"Hey, David," he said, when I got him on the phone, "Why are we doing this?"

"Oh, uh," I said, "I want to ask you about the course."

"No," he said, "I mean ..."

"Oh!" I laughed, "Yeah, no idea."

He told me about the route, many things I already knew from driving it. But he also said he was going to be using thin gloves and keep them on during the race. I'd gotten some beat-up winter gloves, which I assumed I would be dumping at the start. Ditto, the sweats.

But he encouraged gloves to use or not use while running, and I remembered how I lose feeling in my fingers on long runs. Denny was glad to take me to Target last night to get some ($3 for two pair in the dollar section) and also large trash bags so I could wear one after packing my sweats. I had planned to just throw them away, but if I timed it right I could pack them in my bag for UPS to take to the finish, and just wear a bag to hold heat in until the start. I could change into them at the finish.

After two races, I think I know how to time my intake-output cycle. I had the biggest pre-race breakfast yet: two fried eggs, toasted ciabatta, and a banana I pockets for just before the race. Many thanks to Denny for making breakfast and taking me to the light rail stop to catch the train for the starting line.

I arrived an hour before the gun, plenty of time to get oriented, have water, use the facilities, adjust my socks, and generally not stress. It was cold, but not too cold. Forty-five degrees at the start, it would be fifty at the finish.

My one error was entering the corral a bit too late. They are called corrals for a reason, and trying to make your way up to the front is very challenging once it is full. I was stuck behind the well behind the 4:00 team, I was supposed to be up with the 3:45 team. Catching up can be very hard, you're all moving fast in the same direction.

Making my way up to them, I could have missed downtown Minneapolis, in general, at least for the first twenty miles, I did a decent job of taking in the Most Beautiful Urban Marathon in America®.

By the way, it really, really is.

I caught up with the 3:45 team, and passed them. I wanted them behind me. From childhood, I have been very bad at catching up. It brings out a failure anxiety, an ancient reminder that I am never the best player, ever. Always the slowest, the least coordinated.

However, I am apparently very good at running away from things.

The first five miles were amazing, deliriously so. Once I had headed out in front of my goal ... I slowed down. I relaxed into my running. I was like, "Really? This pace? I can make it just running like ... this?" Delusions of grandeur overwhelmed me. Maybe I could do three and a half!

Meanwhile, people kept yelling for Captain America! I passed this one guy who told me, "Oh, it's you! I was wondering why everyone was calling me Captain America, I thought I was just doing really great."

Denny and Julie and my seven year-old niece caught up with me in three locations, Julie took this action photo.

The fact is, the entire thing went by very well. I had an electrolyte drink and a water drink at every stop (except the one at Mile 25.) I had two GU gels with me, which I had at miles five and ten, and they handed out Cliff Shots at mile 17.

Just an endorsement, GU gels taste good. Cliff Shots do not.

I took on banana, an orange slice - but no Twizzlers. Those get stuck in my throat. Basically, I was extremely well-fed and hydrated, when I finished I had not felt and would not feel any cramping or nausea or any of the feels I had during my first marathon. I felt like I needed to pee through pretty much the entire race, but not urgently and so when I thought about it, I gave myself the same response I give the boy, "As soon as we get home, son."

Speaking of waste, however, I would like to mention what I have noticed as the increasing number of spectators signs relating to shitting or pissing yourself. Ha ha, now knock it off.

The signs were by and large very supportive and clever they always are. And some surprisingly topical:

If Trump Can Make It To The Primaries, You Can Run 26.2 Miles
- and -
If Mark Watney Can Grow Potatoes On Mars, You Can Run 26.2 Miles

The most difficult aspects of the race occurred around mile ten, I think, when it felt like both socks slipped, and suddenly I had seams biting painfully into callouses on both feet. The thought of blistering my feet open for the next sixteen plus miles was distressing, but all I managed to convince myself the pain would eventually go away, and it did. The flesh of my feet doesn't actually appear too damaged, actually.

I wish I could say the same for my toenails. For some reason training alone has been very hard on those and I believe I may actually lose a half dozen. Seriously. They're are all chalky and bruised. Weird.

One other thing, and this may have had something to do with my gloves (which I chose to wear for the entire race) or my awesome Captain America shirt, I don't know ... but my arms hurt more than they ever have. I mean, they started hurting halfway through the race, I have never felt so weak in my arms before.

The dreaded Mile 21, however, was not a problem for me at all. Thank you, Little Italy for all of those training runs, the miles up to Summit was no big deal at all. My brother's family had planned to catch me one more time, at Fairview and Summit, where we had watched the marathon four years ago. But I was too fast for them and they could not bicycle their way there in time.

However, by Mile 23 things had gone the way of all marathons and I was ready to be done. Just tired, stiff, looking forward to the state capitol building and the finish line.

Family at the finish line.
But what a sight it was. There are a few dips in the road but mostly downhill the last couple miles, where I could see the finish line dead ahead for the last point-two miles, and ran flat out towards the end.

I hadn't beaten my personal best - I had crushed it, shaving fourteen minutes from what I thought I was best capable of.

Maybe Amy is right. Maybe I can make 3:30. And where might that happen?

(Many thanks to the organizers and volunteers of the Twin Cities Marathon, which is an extremely fun and pleasant event all the way around. Extremely well-organized and truly the most beautiful urban marathon in America.)

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Get out of the way.

Spoonbridge and Cherry
Yesterday was one, big, successful check list. It began by sleeping in, at least for as long as possible. I get up at 5 AM on a normal day, that's 4 AM here. I did manage to wake and then go back to sleep long enough to achieve some semblance of rest. It's just how my brain works.

My brother and I headed out in late morning to drive the entire route of the marathon. This was good, as I am now aware of certain long inclines, and generally know what I have to look forward to. For example, when I pass Spoonbridge and Cherry there is a long steady incline past the Walker Arts Center.

Footnote: Spoonbridge and Cherry at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, the team who (figuratively) gave Cleveland The Free Stamp.

We got turned around a lot around the many lakes, and I carped that my brother was making the race seem a lot longer than it actually is. But we got straight by the second half, which is pretty much north to the East Franklin Avenue Bridge and then East to the State House.

But there is Mile 21. It is a steady incline, for an entire mile. We are not safe until we have passed the 22 mile marker and are heading due east on Summit Avenue. And that is the distance at which I began to cash out last time. It is good to know.

Then we proceeded to the Expo at the Saint Paul RiverCentre, which for those who have never attended one is like a runner's mall. There are kiosks of product for runners and its very crowded and busy and you always have to pick up your bib number in the back to make sure everyone buys something. I told my brother it would be quick, that I wasn't there to do any shopping, and yet I found myself lingering over the displays, hoping to find a new glasses strap. I did pick up a few gel packs and we headed back onto the street.

Big river.
Interesting ... unlike any other of the races (Kids' race, 5K, 10K) the marathon runners don't receive their shirt until the finish line.  This was new to me, I wonder the logic behind it. Why would organizers want to handle the additional headache of bringing thousands of shirts to the race on Sunday? Has there been a rash of individuals registering for the race, getting their shirt, not running it and then fraudulently claiming that they had?

It's always an exciting vibe, though. Seeing all the different kinds of people who run races like these. And today was Friday, tomorrow the joint is going to be packed.

After we met up with my sister-in-law for lunch, and then a trip to Goodwill for a cheap set of sweats. I got an awesome hooded MINNESOTA shirt I wish I could keep and some boss pants to keep me warm until the race starts Sunday morning.

Distance: 3 miles
Duration: 25:30
Avg Pace: 8:28
Route: Summit Avenue

Brisk morning run, low sun and somewhat blinding. It will be very cool tomorrow when we set out, I may begin the run in this sweatshirt, I do not know, it will collect a lot of sweat and losing it will make me cold. But I do not want to wear shirtsleeves.

I will run with the 8:35 group. I have been able to maintain eight and a half minutes very well throughout my training. And that will help me break my previous time. Because that's the plan.

Temperature: 43°
Climate: sunny & cool
Intake: none
Hydration: yes

What's That Lyric?
Houses In Motion - Talking Heads

Friday, October 02, 2015

The fear is falling away.

Many years ago I asked for something, a solo trip to Chicago. The wife was pursing her Masters at Goddard College, and I had had a few solo weeks with the children (aged 4 and 2) and wanted some time on my own in the summer, before residency rehearsals began.
The Lakeview Cemetery
Photographs from Cleveland's Historic Landmark
By Barney Taxel

I took one bag and caught a bus to the rapid to work, and then the rapid to the airport. I took a plane to my destination, and another train to the neighborhood where I would be staying. Never drove, never took a taxi. I was proud of that. It's not like me to be out there without a car, not alone.

Today I walked my son to the bus, and walked from there to the Little Italy RTA stop. Perhaps more of a walk than I was prepared for, it really did take about an hour, which surprised me. Then the train downtown.

Throughout the day my right thigh, which had been a little pained that morning, started feeling more and more uncomfortable. That has since died down. The only thing I can compare it to is the meralgia parasthetica I occasionally suffer from, though it feels quite different.

End of the day I took the rapid to the airport, It is at times like these that I notice the solitude, even in crowded settings. How long I go without speaking to anyone, or communicating in any fashion. It can feel calming, not to have anyone to speak to. It can be melancholy.

Trying to find a place to be, or at least a satisfying place to wander before my flight, I came across an exhibit of beautiful photographs of Lakeview Cemetery, taken by Barney Taxel. You can find them between concourse A & B at Cleveland Hokpins. I have spent many runs this year, since the summer, training for this race by taking turns through the cemetery. It felt auspicious to linger over these images on my way to the starting line.

My loving wife with a great deal of forethought had gotten us rewards credit cards, and so I was able to make the trip with frequent flyer miles. And as long as these are imaginary dollars we don't really have that we are playing with, why not go first class? This was new to me. Having so much leg room will be particularly helpful on the way home, when who knows what shape I will be in.

However, what truly got me was the convenience of not having to pay for drinks, of receiving drinks on the ground before we took off - and another in the air - and that these drinks were served in glass.

Not just the alcohol. Water ... in a glass. I felt like a person.

Brothers at O'Gara's
The book I have brought with me is Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. Within the first few pages I feared I had made a terrible mistake, due to the subject matter. Adolescence has swept through on our home, sweeping personal items clear of every surface and crashing furniture through walls and I could go on with Hulk Smash devastation metaphor point being this tale of tragedy that befalls a suburban family might not be a good fit for someone in my mental state at the moment.

By the time I had finally arrived in Saint Paul, I'd read half of it. It's really good.

Distance: 5 miles
Duration: 40:43
Avg Pace: 8:11
Route: Summit Avenue to the Mississippi

Temperature: 63°
Climate: idyllic
Hydration: yes
Water Stop: yes

Beautiful fall day in St. Paul, clear and cool and bright. Took a run down the wide, grassy median of Summit Avenue, because people do that. It's a path, and an uneven one, but it's more fun than the sidewalks. Also more dangerous, wen it comes time to cross side streets and not at the crosswalk. But people do. I did.

Today we went to the Expo. More on today tomorrow.

What's That Lyric?
Jump In The Pool - Friendly Fires