Reboot

My last post came more than two months ago, which may have been the last time I participated in any kind of serious training or realized any kind of motivation towards exercise.  “You should get up Nick.”  “You should fuck off brain.”

Unfortunate in many ways as I have a Tough Mudder in two weeks, I will have to regain all of that lost fitness, and, well, it just makes me feel kind of off.  My diet has been inconsistent of late to say the least (“Nick, do you want some cake?” “Umm…it’s 8 in the morning Bob…of course I fucking want some cake”), which always fills me with a sense of…what’s the word…blaeracholkjga.  But no more, I hope.  A strong 8 mile run in the Houston heat and an hour on the bike today gently stroked my ego out of self pity for a little while (“there there Nick, see, you can run…AND bike…you’re a big boy”).

On the diet side, my wife started a 2-3 week Juice Reboot designed to…well…reboot your system.  I think a lot of people subject themselves to these things in order to “detoxify” their bodies.  I have no fucking idea what that means.  “Man, that guy is toxic…he needs to detoxify his toxicity before his toxins tox over his life.”  What?  I don’t know what toxins I’m supposed to be eliminating.  What I do know is that eating healthy  makes me feel better and I’m hoping will make me live longer and raise my children better.  It certainly made for an energetic run this afternoon though that may be a temporary high “we’re getting back in triathlon shape…good food…let’s go fuck shit up” to be quickly followed by a crash two days later “what the hell were we thinking?  All we’re eating right now is juice and vegetables…we don’t have the energy to train for anything” which is why I may not be able to completely stick to the juice-a-thon.  My body needs protein and carbs, but for the short term, it feels amazing.  I mean, you haven’t lived until you’ve had a carrot-avocado soup/smoothie/juice/enema…truly satisfying.

All joking aside I’m excited to reintroduce greens to my body and retrain healthy habits.  I’m also excited to do it with my wife.  She and I struggle to find things to do together outside of tv and raising our children.  She’s made an effort to get excited about triathlon and I made an effort (one time long long ago) to get excited about vaulting, but neither of us, I think, is super committed to either endeavor.  We (Adryan) recently started square foot gardening and we found we enjoy doing that together (if anyone needs any Arugula or Cabbage, please feel free to stop by “Dad, seriously, cabbage ice cream? That doesn’t even make sense.”  “Zip it! We have 8 pounds of cabbage and 2 days to eat it!  Now everyone pick up their forks and get started…I’ll take the midnight shift”), but I’m hoping this diet allows us to work towards something together.  Obviously, we each have our separate goals, but we’re achieving them together through a common medium.  I’m hoping for a positive outcome and not a War of the Roses scenario “I said I don’t want any more FUCKING broccoli and yes, I gained a pound, and no, I will not put down this oreo.”

What does all this have to with triathlon and training?  Well, life is about balance.  Happiness at home and within (both physically (‘yay broccoli!’) and mentally (‘my wife loves me..yay!’)) make for smoother training.  Zero motivation probably came from slacking off in my diet and getting started on the tv show ‘Alias.’  Yes, THAT Alias…Yes, I know I’m a decade late on that, shut the fuck up!  If I can get through the Tough Mudder in a couple of weeks without killing myself (“I’ve never actually seen anyone die within the first 30 feet”) I’ll give credit to the Juice Reboot of 2012.  If not, fuck broccoli.

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Goal Setting Silence

I lay down on the couch and after 10 minutes into The Godfather, I’m fast asleep.  I’m awakened by the sound of Carys, our youngest, crying in her crib.  My wife and I are still trying to get her on a consistent sleep-through-the-night schedule and so I do not move.  I just lie there, listening her to struggle with sleep almost as much as I do. 10 minutes pass…then 15.  I mentally count the seconds and realize I should go in there, but I don’t.  A sudden sloth falls over me and I remain on the couch only to hear my wife walk from our bedroom to Carys’s bedroom to nurse back to sleep.  Guilt replaces the sloth as I think “idiot, you should have gotten off your ass and gone in there…it’s your night with the girls anyway.”  I hear my wife finish, lay Carys back to bed and crawl under the covers in our bedroom.  I lie on the couch and let my mind start running again about the past week at work, things to do around the house and missed opportunities everywhere.  I start thinking about the disgusting food I ate for dinner, the lazy feeling that washed over me just a few minutes ago and I’m up.  I find some dirty socks in my car, slide my feet into my running shoes, turn on my ipod, and start running.  Somehow my body feels fresh.  I ran Thursday at 5pm, Friday at 12:30pm, and now again I’m running at 4:30am.  How is that possible?  All runs were more than an hour, this early morning run finishing at around an 1:45:00.  I’ll never understand the human body.

It doesn’t matter though, I got lost in the silence of the empty streets again this morning.  I just find it amazing how quiet a city as big as Houston can get.  I see Sysco trucks being unloaded at the back of grocery stores, huge parking lots in front of HEB, Walmart, and the like nearly abandoned, but perfectly manicured as if someone built this great monument to cheap retail and then forgot about it.  A police officer cruises by, flashes his lights and shakes his head as he passes.  “Why the fuck are you running at 4:30am on a Saturday?  I HAVE to work, what’s your excuse?”  I feel guilty about binging on food and sloth, which is ironic because my solution is another long, self indulgent run that I know my wife will hate.  “You think it’s safe running at 4:30am around Blalock and Longpoint?”  No, I don’t and she’s right.  If I’m going to give into these early morning cravings for exercise, I should find a track, a gym, hell just run around my back yard.  I took my phone this time and wore lights all over my body…a flashing beacon of idiocy running between street lamps.  “Baby steps…untie your knots!”

Besides that, the early morning solitude allowed me time to think about my goals for this next year.  Despite advice to the contrary, I signed up with a team to complete the Tough Mudder in Austin on October 6th.  Why?  I have no idea…ok, I have some idea.  First, I get asked every year by someone to do it with them.  I think they are under the impression that I am in moderately good shape because of marathoning and my recent stint with triathlons.  That really only means I’m in good shape to marathon and triathlon.  Running a 12-13 mile course filled with obstacles designed to test every strength muscle in your body…maybe not.  So, this will force me to focus a bit on strength training. Also, the event isn’t timed.  “Then what’s the point?” I hear all my marathoning friends ask.  I actually have a similar thought process.  Well, for fun.  I complain so much about Ironman being to much about the Ironman brand and not enough about the athletes and the charity…why not do one that is COMPLETELY focused on the athletes and the charity.  As an Outrival coach pointed out…the potential for injury is high.  Jumping over walls, crawling under barbed wire and through electrically charged wires isn’t the smartest thing in the world, but it’s supposed to be fun…right?

So, that’s October.  Blake, a friend in San Antonio, and his friend’s wife Kerri signed up for the Rock n Roll marathon in November prompting me to do the same after much goading (by which I mean “Hey, Nick, are you doing any events this fall?”).  My last experience with the San Antonio marathon involved my brother and I signing up, traveling to San Antonio the night before, getting sick and coming back home the morning of the race.  Let’s try this again.  Just like with Galveston, I’d like to do it in under three hours, but I won’t kill myself to make that happen.  If it happens, it happens. If not, oh well.

After that, nothing until Ironman Texas in May 2012.  Goal?  Not sure yet.  I know that I’m capable, if healthy and smart about training, of going under 10 hours, maybe 9.5 if I have a great run, but honestly, the training, preparation and pressure to make that happen is a little much for me this year and I’m only 30…I have plenty of time to improve and reach that goal.  Plus, after halfway joking about it, I think I’d like to do the Texas Water Safari next year.  A 260 mile canoe race from San Marcos to the gulf.  You have to finish in 100 hours and essentially canoe all night for 4 days.  What do I know about canoeing?  About as much as I knew about Ironman training when I signed up for my first Ironman.  The canoe race is in June though, which is why I may take it easy during the Ironman just 3 or so weeks before.  So that’s my next year of events.  As with any training session, the beginning is exciting.  I haven’t accomplished anything, but I haven’t failed yet either.  Plenty of time for either, but until race days get closer, I will live in the fantasy land of overachieving where I break every course record and wake up the next day unphased

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Finding Ultra

More book reviews?  Are you shitting me?  No, I am not shitting you.  This week, “Finding Ultra” by Rich Roll.  For those who do not know Rich Roll, he’s a California attorney who, as he tells it, went from a “midde-aged couch potato to Ultraman”mostly, according to him, thanks to a vegan type/plant based diet (oh and a shit ton of training).

The book is an honest account of his mental, physical, and spiritual transformation.  The overall transformation is awesomely impressive.  That said, I do not think Rich and I would get along.

The book opens with his account of one of his first Ultraman (basically a little more than two ironman distance triathlons spread over 3 days – 6.2 mile swim, 260 mile bike and 52.4 mile run) before backtracking to his days as an alcoholic and the many talents he wasted as a result.  He still managed to get a law degree from Cornell (which just goes to show you how difficult it is to become a lawyer) and get a job with a decent law firm in California, but he wasted what sounds like a decent swimming talent and probably night after night of college memories.  He’s honest about it and takes responsibility for it, which is nice.  As a lawyer myself whose mother struggled with alcoholism, I can relate to Rich on many levels.  His honesty is refreshing and his redemption is inspiring.

After recounting his struggles with alcohol, we soon see that his addictive nature is still there, just refocused.  He becomes frustrated after getting winded going up a flight of stairs and becomes enamored with healthy eating, which, typical of his extreme nature, becomes vegan.  I will say that he addresses the term “vegan” and denounces the politics that come with it and simply states “I want to eat healthy and I think plants are the best way.”  I think taking the politics out of it, whether honest or not, was a smart move.  It certainly makes his transformation more relatable because honestly if I have to listen to a PETA advertisement IN ADDITION to how animal protein is overrated, I’d probably kill myself…with an animal.  Per the above, you can probably tell that I do not agree with Rich about animal protein.  Can you survive and excel on a plant based diet?  Clearly you can, Exhibit A: Rich Roll, but I still believe animal protein and certain animal fats are, long term, a better/healthier route.  I’m impressed with him for sticking with it.

I’m even more impressed with his accomplishments, which he finally gets to in the last 50 pages of the book.  He recounts his Ultraman experiences, both the good and the bad and closes with a recounting of his EPIC5 experience.  What is that?  It’s five ironman triathlons in five straight days.  Rich’s friend Jason approached him with the idea and after much contemplating (I’m guessing like a day and a half) Rich agreed and they set to training.  If you ever want to feel inadequate about what you’re doing, read the chapter about his training regimen and the miles he puts in.  Truly incredible.  Also incredible is the detailed account of the “event” itself.  SPOILER ALERT – Do they accomplish their goal?  Not quite.  They complete the five ironmen, but not in five days.  It takes them seven.  The sections dealing with his failures, his attitude, his family struggles are all real and amazing.  He talks about how training affects his law practice and social/family life though not as much as I’d like.  I’d love to meet and hear this account from his wife’s perspective because he seems to gloss over the financial/family struggles.  He does address them, but almost as an afterthought.

The remainder of the book deals with how to implement a plant based diet – probably 30-40 pages of pretty useful information on just eating healthy.  Even if you do not want to become a vegan, there are a lot of good health tips contained in those pages.

All in all, I enjoyed the book.  Again, like Salazar’s 14 Minutes, the meat of the book (i.e. minus the diet tips) comes in at under 240 pages so it’s a quick read with a fairly fast pace.  Before I get on my soapbox, let me reiterate that the man is a testament to healthy eating, exercise, and is extraordinarily impressive.  Like any American and average reader though, I take issue with some things and, well, if you’re going to put yourself out there, you’ll be subject to idiots like me thrusting their judgments and opinions on you.

SOAPBOX:

One major problem I have with Rich that comes through in the book is one I consistently have with Ultradistance athletes including some triathletes.  I may have addressed it before, but I’ll repeat myself because I have time to kill.  During one training session Rich suffers an accident on his bike that lands him in the hospital.  Here again, I’ve been there and I can relate.  During his time in the ER, his wife asks him “Well, if you hadn’t made it, would you be happy with how you were living your life/what you were doing.”  I took that as a “Has all this training etc. been worth it?”  He seems to take it the same way and responds with a “Yes.”  No problem, that’s fine.  My problem comes with his conclusion afterwards.  His wife smiles a knowing smile and says “I’m so glad to hear you say that.”  Rich goes on to say that she smiles because she already knows what’s taken him years to figure out, i.e. safety is an illusion.  Julie, his wife, doesn’t want a 9-5 husband who grills out on the weekend and watches football on Sundays.  He seems to say, if you’re stuck in that scenario, you’re not trying, you’re not achieving, you’re hiding behind this curtain/illusion of safety.  You’re not taking any risks.  Now, is that the way he meant it?  Maybe, maybe not, but I hear similar expressions from other ultradistance athletes.  Christopher McDougall, in his book “Born to Run” seems to downplay mere marathoners as he discusses the elite ultradistance runners.  The latter are REALLY achieving, pushing the envelope…marathoning is sooo passe.  Can I just say…Fuck You.  I think that’s  complete horse shit.  My 9-5 job as an attorney and coming home every night and grilling out on the weekend IS my achievement.  I enjoy doing Ironmen, marathons, triathlons, but if all that was gone tomorrow and all I had left was my mere family, GREAT!  I don’t need those things in my life.  I LOVE to run.  I LOVE to swim and bike…it’s not what I think about at night.  Some people reading this will say “oh, he’s not a true runner..he’s not a true triathlete.”  Why?  Because I don’t measure my fucking food by the ounce?  Because I don’t ponder ways to punish my body in new ways?  Because I don’t buy the latest and greatest in technology?  I’ll take a stable family life and kids who grow up to be successful.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m indebted to running and triathlon for a lot of things, but I get frustrated with the mindset that “if you’re not doing what I’m doing and pushing yourself to find the next great endurance event, you’re probably stuck and just don’t realize it.”  You know what, I could argue the same thing.  You can’t be comfortable with the life your living and can’t be happy with having a wife, a job, and two kids so you have to find some extreme bullshit adventure to satisfy your wanderlust.  Is that true? NO!  You like your life and I like my life…I’m going to sign up for Ironman Texas now. 😉

Anyway, go read it…it’s good. 🙂

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Drunk

I just got ridiculously plastered.  I’m high as a kite right now.  I don’t know if I just had weed or ambrosia.  These are phrases you will never hear me say.  I’ve never had alcohol.  I’ve never smoked a cigarette.  I’ve never had marijuana or anything other drug.  Hell, I can’t stand over the counter drugs.  The point being, unless I suddenly change course, I’ll never experience the buzz, the high, the euphoria that supposedly come with those activities…at least according to the numerous tales that I’m regaled with every time I attend a reunion or meet someone close to my age (30).  “Dude, I was sooo drunk one night.”  “Man, this one time…we got some primo weed.”  The closest I think I’ll come is the running high.  A high I am actually experiencing right now and what has prompted me to post a random blog at 3 am and droll on and on about subjects (alcohol and drugs) on which I know very little (never stopped me before).  I ate like shit tonight.  I gave into every one of my cravings.  Chocolate?  Sure, why not.  Are those truffles?  Yes please.  A fajita and two salami sandwiches?  Don’t mind if I do. I do not know from whence these cravings came, but fuck them and fuck my will power or lack thereof.  Thank you, however, to Alberto Salazar’s 14 Minutes and Rich Roll’s Finding Ultra (another great book – good news…review coming soon…try not to shit yourself in anticipation).  I read those books and watched a brief snippet of “Spirit of the Marathon” and became ridiculously motivated.  After a late night discussion with my wife about the stresses of the day (You only think because it’s 11:30 pm it is time to wind down.  My wife’s brain thinks “you’re alone with him…time to destress and vent…quick…he can’t get away…think of everything that’s ever bothered you ever and that you may have wanted or may ever want to talk to him about…he may be dead tomorrow”) I got up, laced up my running shoes, strapped on my ipod and set off at a fairly easy pace.  From the moment my shoes hit the pavement until I walked back into the house 17 miles later…I felt amazing.  I drank hardly any water and feel like I could run another 17 right now.  I feel like anything is possible.  I will probably crash in about 20 minutes when the adrenaline stops coursing through my veins and the high wears off.  I will wake up tomorrow and say “what the hell did I do last night?  Is that the sun or God’s flashlight…turn it off.”  I will regale my friends (what friends) with tales of silent streets and abandoned parking lots.  Dark pavement and flickering street lamps.  I will tell them how I imagined competing in the Olympics and finishing my next Ironman in record time.  People will think I’ve exaggerated.  People will roll their eyes and probably think a little less of me.  People will think had just a little too much to drink.  My running high and its aftereffects will be as close as I’ll come to a late night binge and a hangover.

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14 Minutes

Is this a sports related blog?  The last 18 posts have been anything but.  That’s mostly because I’ve hit kind of a lull in training and rather than craft a melancholy, woe is me, dissertation to garner sympathy, I just stop posting or post about happier things, i.e. family.  Never fear, this post is about books.  WHAT??  More specifically, it’s a book review.  “Books?  I don’t need know book learnin’…my brain done hurt from readin’ this here blog.”

I recently read 14 Minutes: A Running Legend’s Life and Death and Life by Alberto Salazar and John Brant.  The book is structured as Salazar’s memoir bookended by his account of 14 minutes of clinical death and is essentially a dramatic account of the risks and rewards of top-level long-distance running.

At just under 270 pages, the book takes you through Salazar’s brief but brilliant running career at a fairly brisk clip.  Salazar describes his upbringing under a stern Cuban father who was previously one of Castro’s inner circle before losing respect for Castro and the cause.  The effect this and his religious upbringing on his life and running is quite interesting.  He also recounts a terrible incident where the 9 yr old Alberto experiences another childs’ death.

The book then takes the reader through Salazar’s days as a world -class runner through high school and college.  He discusses his awkward social nature and the camaraderie brought to his life through running.  Throughout, Salazar gives us glimpses into the mind of an elite athlete.  Nearly every setback in his early running career serves as a sign of Salazar’s destiny to become the best runner in the world.  He is seemingly undeterred from his goal after nearly dying in a 1977 Falmouth race.  It’s fascinating to read his relationship with Bill Rodgers and the infamous Duel in the Sun with Dick Beardsley.  He manages to make individual long-distance races distinct by showing us how he put his preparation and strategy into practice against the world’s top runners.  Salazar’s prime arrived right as I was being born in 1982 so I missed the live performances and the feel of that era.  I also knew little about Salazar before reading the book so I had very little bias for or against the man.  He consistently defends his perceived “arrogance” stating several times that he was just being honest about his expectations.  From reading other sources, I gather he came across or at least the media portrayed him as cocky/arrogant.  Here are my thoughts on that.  Elite athletes in any sport have to have an ego.  They have to believe in themselves to a degree most of us will never understand.  Salazar nearly dies and takes it as a sign that he’s going to become the greatest runner in the world.  Lance Armstrong has three different kinds of cancer and decides he’s going to be the greatest cyclist we’ve ever seen.  I have zero qualms with that.  I have even fewer qualms with an athlete being honest and upfront about his mindset.  I weary of the standard athlete soundbites.  Macca comes across as arrogant, but I don’t mind hearing what he’s thinking about his own expectations.  “I’m here to win.”  Glad to hear it.

A large part of the book focuses on Salazar’s religion and how he has managed to mingle science and faith within his running.  He describes taking a pilgrimage in 1987 to Medjugorje, in the former Yugoslavia, where six children claimed to have seen apparitions of the Virgin Mary. There he experiences a minor miracle when, he says, his silver rosary beads turn to gold. While he acknowledges the implausibility of this event, the reader can’t help feeling that the journey—along with his spiritual quest over the past couple of decades—is an attempt to find meaning for an athletic life cut short.  It’s fascinating to read, from my perspective, because I have a strong faith, but find myself turning to science too often for answers for mental stagnation and psychological depression.  Again, I find it refreshing that he’s so straightforward regarding his religion in a running culture, especially back then, that was not too open to it.  I often find myself praying during long runs and sometimes think the only reason I finished my first marathon was because God decided he didn’t want to hear my silent prayers anymore.  Even distracted prayer is better than no prayer, he says and then gives a dissertation on how Nike and his Oregon Running Project use the latest in sports technology to train their athletes.

Speaking of Nike, Salazar’s relationship with Phil Knight and Nike is another theme rampant throughout the book.  His undying loyalty to Nike, Knight and the brand make you want to believe in Nike again.

More compelling though is Mr. Salazar’s acknowledgment of his struggles with depression, which led him in 1993 to try the antidepressant Prozac.  Again, he’s brutally honest about his experience and not ashamed of where he’s been and how he got there.  Prozac allows him to return to serious training where he decides to enter his first and only ultramarathon and, oh, just fucking wins the thing.  That said, I think it’s fascinating that he acknowledges the mistakes of his youth and how training too hard shortened his career, but then upon returning to competition, even just for this one race, resumes his self-depriving ways and hardly takes in any calories during the hourslong race.

Per the above, Salazar and Brand bookend his story with Salazar’s brush with death in 2007 where he collapsed and was clinically dead for 14 minutes.  I’ve read many reviews of this book and all describe his account of THAT specific event as mundane.  I couldn’t disagree more.  I suppose for many people once they’ve heard a near death experience, they’ve heard them all.  I always find it fascinating the number of random events that fall into place for these near death experiences to be NEAR death.  His account of the 14 minutes I thought was fairly gripping.

I can relate to Salazar’s love of running and how he defines himself through his sport.  I can relate to his struggle and balance among religion, science, and family.  I can admire his dedication to a fledgling sport and be inspired by his struggles.

Though a fairly quick read, the book is meditative and affecting.  If you’re a runner or have any history with Salazar, it’s worth the day or two of reading.

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Crawfish and Hillbillies

Two posts in one month?? What??  I know, I know, I think I just pooped a little too.  Go change your pants and we’ll get started.  This one will be fairly short.  Not a great deal has happened since Daddy/Daughter weekend II.  Rowan and Carys decided that Daddy has no idea what he’s doing at the piano and should probably just take over from here on out.

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The only other event of note occurred this weekend when we attended the Spring Crawfish Festival (“SCF”) with my brother and his girlfriend.  The event itself was entertaining, but is it all festivals or is just Spring that empties every Wal-Mart and nearby McDonald’s of its patrons and dumps them into one location?  Are you 450 pounds, but still desire to wear a bikini in public? SCF it is!  Do you hate sleeves like they’re the plague?  Come to SCF.  Do you believe that everything looks better hitched to the back of a pick up truck with your wife’s ass dragging along the concrete behind you?  I’ve got just the place.  Ok, maybe it wasn’t that bad, except it was and everything smelled like crawfish, but seriously, we had fun and the people watching was spectacular.  I got no pictures of that so you’ll just have to imagine and now that I’ve loaded all the family pictures I realize there are too many so 15 of my favorite are below.

We began, as we do all festivals, with food.  Adryan shown here with a shrimp po-boy.  Now, I’m not an expert, but I picture a po-boy with stuff on it.  These consisted of bread and fried shrimp and…that’s it.  But oh well, Adryan seemed to enjoy it.

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Here’s the whole group minus me of course enjoying lunch before we were all raped by a gang of rednecks “Squeal boy squeaaaall!”

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Below…a bunch of crawfish.  I have never had crawfish and still haven’t.  No, I did not partake in the crawfishery.  I saw what it did to my fellow human beings and decided I’d wait.

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I did discover that Carys eats sunglasses and Rowan sweats like her father, i.e. copious amounts after seconds in the heat.  “Wow…you must have been out there forever…you’re drenched in sweat!”  “What…oh…yeah, probably like 15 seconds.”

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Rowan enjoyed herself immensely.  Honestly, I think if you put a bounce house in the middle of a junkyard surrounded by a mound of dog shit, she’d enjoy herself.

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What goes up must come down…quickly and with wild abandon.

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And what festival would be complete without farm animals.  “Hey, you guys want wander around in the cage for a bit and let small children molest you for a bit?  We’ve got cheap animal feed.” “Food?  Food? Food?”  “Right this way llama.”

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“That’s a llama penis!”

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Uncle Chris doing what he does best.

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Finally, a normal picture of Chris.  We had him wear his sunglasses because if he’s not making a ridiculous face, he will blink…even when there’s no flash.  “Chris, a camera went off somewhere”  “Cover your eyes!! cover your eyes!!  My God, everyone shut your eyes!!”

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But Rowan has a forgiving heart.  Bunny ears are not the worst thing in the world.  Plus, she needed some muscle (yes, all 140 pounds of Chris’s muscle) to take on some fat Spring kids.  When did plaid shorts come back in?  My God, we need to stop this trend.  The 80’s and early 90’s were a terrible time for fashion.  If Vaurnet starts coming back, I’m moving to China.  Yes, Communism is better than plaid shorts.

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After a long day of playing with Daddy…relaxing with Mommy sounds amazing.  Popsicles please…rocket shaped popsicles…now!  Carys on the other hand took Daddy’s approach…completely disrobe and crawl around aimlessly until someone puts you to bed.  I’ll tell you, if you haven’t tried it…do yourself a favor.  Adryan hates lifting me into bed and man do I hate ass lint, but god is it worth it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, another successful family outing.  I define success by 1) No injury or death; 2) Rowan and Carys had fun; and 3) no hillbilly rape.  2 out 3 ain’t bad. Yay crawfish!

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Mardi Gras Marathon

Two months in between posts is okay right?  No one reads these anyway so I may as well just look in the mirror and talk to myself, but hey, just in case, right?  What’s more, my wife has abandoned me this weekend for a trip to Vegas and I have time to write something.  This post will focus on the Mardi Gras marathon I completed on February 5, 2012.  For those who do not want to read the entire post, I’ll give you a brief summary – “Fuck You Mardi Gras Marathon.”  A more detailed report follows.

For those keeping track, the goal here was under 3 hours.  For those who looked it up, the result was 3:48:00.  I learned a great deal from this race, but most importantly, Fuck You Mardi Gras Marathon.

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I struggled with a nagging injury going into the race and a fever the week leading up to the race so I suppose I should not have expected to attain my goal, but 3:48:00?  Next time can you just punch me in the face and then shove me in an ice bath?

My brother did the half marathon that day so we shared a hotel room the night before (no, nothing happened…that I know of…though I was drowsy the morning after and my ass hurt.  I now wear the cone of shame anytime we are in the same room)

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Oh well…back to the race.  We step out from the hotel lobby into 20-25 mph winds and freezing rain.  Now let me qualify that statement and remind everyone I’m from Houston.  No, it wasn’t 10 degrees or ACTUAL freezing rain, but it was in the low 40s and raining and, well, really fucking cold and windy.  We share a look of “fucking Galveston”, take a deep breath and run to the car.  We arrive at race start where, somehow, it’s colder and windier.  We stay in the car as long as possible then shiver next to the start line while some injured goat mewls out the national anthem.  I’m usually not so critical because that’s a ridiculously difficult to sing and it takes guts do it in front of anyone (even the 6 people who showed up for the Mardi Gras Marathon), but this was brutal.  I literally felt as if someone was stabbing my brain with every note. 

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So, the mewling stops, the gun goes off and I start running.  Not too bad.  Sore, a little tired from the fever, but feeling good for the first 1.5 miles, i.e. the only portion (save the last mile) NOT on the seawall.  I turn right on the seawall and into those 20-25 mph winds.  Wait…I was going to say something…oh, right…FUUUUUUUUCK!  I could see and feel my feet and legs moving, but I wasn’t going anywhere.  Alright, that’s ok, no pain, no gain, we aren’t setting a PR anyway.  I step up the pace and get into a rhythm and I know on the way back, this headwind will be at my back and, oh, look, we turn back into the neighborhoods for a little bit, that will be nice…or so logic and fucking physics would dictate.  How, Galveston Seawall, is it possible to have a constant headwind no matter what direction I turn.  “Oh, you want to go North…HI!! HEADWIND!  You’re heading South now…HEADWIND, HERE, HOW’S IT GOING?!  Going East you say?  HEADWIND AGAIN, CAN I COME!?!??  YOU LOOK EXHAUSTED!!” 

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Damnit Google Images.

Piss….and shit….and whore.  For those who think I’m exaggerating, blow me, but also see the photographic evidence below…that is me…really. The wind literally blew my clothes off…and gave me a Hitler mustache…and pube head.

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So I take it fairly easy the first lap with a 1:45:00 or so thinking, ok, I have a feel for it.  I step it up the last 2 miles of the first lap and continue that pace through mile 16 of the second lap when the small “nagging” injury decided to join up with Dr. Headwind and become my worst fucking nightmare injury.  “Oh, hey, you’re not using that knee are you?  I’d like to test the effect of this sledgehammer on common joints.”  So, I end up walking the next 5-6 miles…in freezing fucking rain and a constant twiriling, swirling, hurling wind.  And you know, I may have been ok with it, except, I saw several people cutting off parts of the course.  Here again, I’m distracted, I’ve lost my train of my thought…no, no, here we go…FUCK YOU!  Now, some of you may have just decided “Fuck this, I’m going back home” which is fine, but I followed many of you all the way to the finish where you accepted your medal like you earned it you sack of shit.  Most of the course was on the seawall so, it would have been (and apparently was) really easy to just turn around on the seawall and cut off 3-4 miles each way. 

And you know, running and triathlons and all this crap is individual.  You’re not supposed to care what other people are doing.  Don’t get depressed when the 300 pound guy wheezes passes you taking a hit from his inhaler “Are….you…o…k?” Nonetheless, the sport is self governing, i.e. the MOTHERFUCKING HONOR SYSTEM.  I won’t cheat if you won’t ok?  Now, I’m not, nor will I ever get paid for this stuff, but I will strangle you with my medal if I see you cheating (I’m now on trial for murder by the way…this post from prison).  So…cheaters will be cheaters. 

If that weren’t bad enough, my absolute worst nightmare happened.  “Injury?”  No, I never really think about that. “Bad weather?”  Still, no, never crosses my mind before I race.  What does cross my mind before I race and every runner’s real fear is having to take an enormous dump right in the middle of the race.  Never happened in 10 years of running…except during Fuck You marathon day.  Well, I’m walking anyway may as well drop a deuce as well.  Lord Almighty.  And yes, if you’re wondering, I found a toilet…I’m not that hardcore…or vile.

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I make it to mile 22 or so and the pacer with the “3:50:00” pace starts passing me and I don’t know why I then suddenly cared about time.  I thought to myself, you know what, no, I’m not going sub 3 hour today, but fuck all if I’m going to go anywhere closer to 4 hours than I already have.  I ditch the pity party and all but sprint the last 4 miles to the finish where my brother awaits with his “If you ever talk me into this shit again, I’ll kill you” face.  We ride off into the sunset (bleak disgusting morning), relax in our palace ($2/night Days Inn with complimentary feces and herpes with every pillow mint), and then enjoy a beautiful post race meal at a quaint little Italian hole in the wall (shithole…literally a hole in the wall.  Never sure what was going to come through that hole).

Below is a picture of my shoe after the race.  Apparently, I needed new shoes.  This lead to weeks of achilles issues.  Fuck You Mardi Gras Marathon and myself for not paying attention. 

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Also, to add insult to injury, literally, the shirt they gave us was hideous (see below).  I know what you’re thinking “Nick, someone has taken the liberty of urinating on your shirt before soaking it overnight in diarrhea.”  No, dear reader, that’s not what happened.  That’s the shirt.  Lime green with Mardi Gras colors.  This will come in handy when I’m directing traffic for the colorblind olympics “Wow…what a great shirt man!!” “No, RED means stop, GREEN means…oh shit, sorry man.”

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So, after all that pissing and moaning and self pity, what did I learn from this race?  A lot.  First, I’m not a cheater.  Second, I can finish any race.  Terrible weather, poor mental attitude, pre race fever, etc, etc., but I finished.  Third, rest is ridiculously important.  That sounds obvious, but I never pay any attention to it.  It’s sometimes better to miss 3 workouts and sleep then do 3 workouts on little to no rest.  I’m told your body needs to “recover.”  I don’t actually know the meaning of that word, but it’s a positive thing.  Four, never forget the basics.  Shoes, shoes, shoes.  That was a stupid thing to let happen.  Now I have bloody shoes and socks…take that Curt Shilling. 

Next post will be more positive and less whiny, but still about Galveston.  I was THIS close to beating Lance Armstrong. 

 

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