Sunday, December 31, 2006

'Tis the season... run with friends. It's been great, really, as I've only had to venture out solo a handful of times during the last 9 days. Last Friday was an easy hour with Hodge in Sterling before getting caught in the rain all by my lonesome on Saturday. Last Sunday marked a first for the weekly Carrara long run, as we fielded a full 7-person team for 92 minutes of nature romping through the Sudbury Town Forest. Monday's Second Annual Christmas Day run with KTGwyth went off without a hitch, and Tuesday saw a dandy little group parading around the Hopedale loop, with myself, the aforementioned KTGwyth, Mark Driscoll and Dan "The Man" MacKay all taking part in the fun. A couple solo shuffles through Auburn - including a hearty helping of hills on Thursday - took care of the next two days before venturing back to Hopedale on Friday, this time with Sean, Dianna and Driscoll, for 7 easy miles followed by the best brunch this side of 495. Yesterday capped the week with an easy 5 miles from the store after work and this morning was another solo shuffle from home to end the year on a high note, that being the fact I'm healthy and happy to be in good working order.

So that does it for '06. Due to a whole smattering of circumstances, this blog has taken a back seat in recent months, but I've decided that I'm not going to pull the plug on it just yet. Hopefully things will fall into place in the near future and that valuable ingredient often referred to as free time will resurface to some degree and my contributions to this space will be more fruitful than they have of late.

Thanks to all of you who have visited frequently, lurked quietly, contributed graciously and commented honestly over the past year. Your efforts are appreciated and didn't go unnoticed by this author, even if it seemed like I abandoned this project from time to time. You are what have made this experience enjoyable for me, so thanks again.

Until next time - and there WILL be a next time- take it easy.

Quote of the day:

A long December and there's reason to believe that maybe this year will be better than the last.
- Counting Crows

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Rocky Mountain high

Greetings from Colorado - let's cut right to the chase. Early highlights from my weekend trip thus far:

* Sitting next to perhaps the scariest, but most soft-spoken dude I've ever encountered in my entire life on the flight from DC to Denver. Turns out he's a holistic healer from Rhode Island on his way to Boulder for some sort of hippy healing seminar. Picture Mark Wetmore - ponytail and all - with a beard. Yes, it was really that frightening.

* For my first run at altitude Oscar took me to some trails nearby his place here in Lakewood. He told me "the loop" takes about an hour. He also warned me we would do a little climbing, but nothing too strenuous. 40 minutes and 1,600 breathtaking feet later we're at the top of Green Mountain as Senor Ponce proclaims, "That's Denver way down there." When I inquire as to just how high up we are, he laughs, "6,900 feet rookie. It took me 2-1/2 months after I got here before I did this run." Apparently, 2-1/2 hours was plenty of adaptation time for me.

* Dinner at a kick-ass authentic Mexican restaurant, complete with Mariachi band. I was the the token gringo among los Mexicanos, but got by just dandily with my limited Spanish vocabulary, including but not limited to: si, no, gracias y agua por favor. I was asked to refrain from singing, however.

And that'll do it for this brief edition; more to come soon. Take it easy.

Quote of the day:

"I didn't want to discourage you rookie."
- Oscar, on his reasoning for not telling me about the 1,600 foot elevation gain on our run yesterday.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Still kickin'

No, this blog hasn't completely shit the bucket yet. It's on life support and I reckon it will hang on till the end of the year, at least. I vaguely remember Kemibe posting something about the inevitable downfall of undertaking such an endeavor, but since he's terminated any evidence of said claim, you'll just have to take my word for it.

Anyway, not much excitement to speak of since the last posting, unless you count working 64 hours in a given week exciting. Actually, it kinda was. The adrenaline rush of finishing up at one job and rushing to the other provided small moments of excitement, but by Sunday I was pretty wiped. On the running side of things, my planned down week fell in nicely with the unplanned temporary spike in work hours, so no real trouble to speak of there. And just as well, because it allowed me to take care of some minor Achilles niggles earlier in the week, which as of right now thankfully aren't presenting me any further problems.

Kevin has helped me map out a rough plan for the next few weeks which should bring me into the new year in pretty good shape. Hopefully by then I'll be able to piggyback some of my workouts off of Ryan and his Boston Marathon cronies as I get ready for the New Bedford 1/2 Marathon on March 18. That's the working plan as of right now and I'm feeling pretty good about it.

Lastly, I'm off to Denver for the weekend to kill some vacation time, visit old pals Oscar and Carrie and make good use of a $133 Travelocity VIP round-trip special. It will be my first trip to the land of the Rockies and I'm very much looking forward to it. With any luck, I'll keep a journal and post it here when I get back. Keep your fingers crossed and it just might happen.

Best of luck to my New Balance teammates out in San Fran this coming weekend at Club Nats, as well as former Chieftain cross country teammates Sean and Dianna who are heading up from sunny San Diego.

And that'll do it for me. Take it easy.

Quote of the day:

The fire is still there. That's the only reason I'm coming back.
- Jason Lunn

Friday, November 24, 2006

Better than expected

21:05 for 4 miles yesterday at the Gobble, Gobble, Gobble in soaking wet Somerville - good enough for 4th place - in my first race back since suffering the stress fracture in early July. This was a whole minute better than I thought I was capable of running at this stage of the game, so I was very pleasantly surprised with how it all turned out. The mediocre time might reflect otherwise, but this is easily the best race I've run in two years. Trust me on that one.

Splits were 5:21, 5:25 and 10:20 (missed 3-mile marker) for the last two. A definite step in the right direction, but it's just that, a step. I've gotta be careful not to get too excited and skip any this time. One at a time, one at a time...

In greater news, congrats to Rich & Jess, my bosses at PR Running, on the birth of their first child, Nathaniel. Lil guy came into the world this morning at 4:44, a month earlier than expected, but happy and healthy nonetheless. He checked in at 18-1/2 inches and just under 6 pounds. He and momma Allen are doing well and Big Poppa Rich is one excited dude, and rightfully so. After enjoying the rest of his holiday weekend, Baby Nate will be working the floor on Monday as our infant fitting specialist, giving us a much-needed extra hand heading into Christmas season.

That'll do it for a few days, likely. Take it easy fellow bloggers, lurkers and the like.
Quote of the day:

The flame might be low, but the fire's not out.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Happy trails

Yesterday morning marked a much-anticipated return to the humble home of Ryan and Christy Mae Carrara and the soft trails of Hudson, Mass. Normally, "long" is the theme on Sunday morning at the Carrara household, but not yesterday - not for anyone involved, in fact. The customary post-run brunch, however, was still in full effect, so many thanks to Christy Mae for providing a fantastic means of replenishment afterward.

Back to the run itself. The three of us giddily (OK, maybe it wasn't that exciting) made our way into Memorial Forest for a pleasant 72 minute jaunt on the aforementioned trails. The air was a bit moist and the ground somewhat damp, but the running was of course fantastic, and Ryan and I felt so dandy that we finished up our 10-mile effort with 6 easy strides on the road. This was my first double-digit run since early July and I'm happy to report that as of 11:37 p.m. on Monday night everything is indeed still feeling good. 10 days till Turkey Day and the Gobble, Gobble, Gobble 4-miler in Somervile. The latest line in Vegas still has me coming in at 22:30 with a 30-second swing either way. I'm no Benjamin Eckstein, but I'd say that's a pretty fair bet at this stage of the game.

That'll have to do it for tonight. Take it easy.

Quote of the day:

I ran 2 mountain races this year because I am good at it. It does not mean I like to run hills. Does the local garbage man love garbage? No, but you gotta go where the money is.
- Eric Blake on his 2nd-place finish at the Monson Memorial 1/2 Marathon

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Pressure's on

Due to unyielding pressure from the unconventionally altitude trained Katie Gwyther, I bring to you this unplanned late-night entry. I don't have much to write about, but I aim to please, so here goes...

While working at the store the other night, I was visited one of our loyal customers, namely one Rich Marion. It was the first time I'd ever met one of the finest distance runners to come out of Templeton, but I did have some background information on him which I intended to have him expound upon. Thankfully, he obliged, and now I can share said information with the three of you out there reading this.

You see, for those of you unfamiliar with the now 40-something-year-old Mr. Marion, here's what I got. Back in the late 80s/early 90s he was one of the best distance runners to make his home in Massachusetts. His road times ranged from low 14's for 5K to 23:51 for 5 miles. Throw in a 2:21 marathon for good measure and you're looking at a pretty damn impressive running resume.

Now I had heard from my high school coach, Jim Gonyea, some tall tales about Mr. Marion and his training. "He doesn't know how to take it easy," is how Jim put it to me. "He set his 5-mile PR during a training run." For legitimacy's sake, Rich's 23:51 was run on the roads in Connecticut, but the preceding quote from old Mr. Gonyea pretty much exemplfies the point I'm trying to get it: this guy didn't mess around.

I also do know of a course record Mr. Marion holds, that being my town's 4th of July 2-mile Road Race record of 9:16. Rumor has it that Rich warmed up for the race by first running the course in 9:48, then coming back 10 minutes later to clock a 9:16. Not unbelievable, but impressive nonetheless.

Anyway, back to my chance encounter earlier this week with our aforementioned master's hero. After helping him find a new pair of lightweight trainers to pound out his miles in, I picked Mr. Marion's brain for some specifics regarding his training, and was rather surprised at what I gathered. He doesn't "pound out the miles" at all, so to speak, but believe me, he's not fooling around out there.

I'll preface the following summation of Rich's unorthodox training methods by saying the man works long hours in an office - has been for a number of years from what he tells me. He runs on his lunch hour - always has - typically 4 to 6 miles because frankly that's all he has time for. But get this, his typical 5-miler only takes him anywhere between 27 and 30 minutes.

"I try to run within a minute of my race pace," is how he desscribes his training approach. "That way when it's time to race, my body isn't surprised to run fast."

On the weekends is when Rich would run the bulk of his miles. Typically a longer run of 15 miles or so (longer if training for a marathon) and another of 8 miles, for a weekly total that usually averaged out in the mid-40's.

"Sometimes I was just wiped and had to take a day off," he said.

The longer run, surprisingly, was run quite slow. Typically he would slow the pace on those to 7 minutes a mile or so, and run for "two or three hours."

Not surprisingly, he ran a lot of his miles solo. When training for a marathon, his highest weeks would top out at 70 miles, but "over a 16-week period, most were between 40 and 60...I've never been a high mileage guy. When I was running 70, I might run closer to 6 minute pace when I wasn't doing a workout."

After a few years of low key running, Marion has been back at it of late as a master's runner for the BAA. He recently ran a course record in the Groton Town Forest XC races, as well as a 4:24 road mile in Marlboro. On December 31st, he'll be at the Millenium Mile in N.H., where he hopes to clock a time in the 4-teens.

"It's downhill and fast," he said. "I should be able to hit that time."

So what did I take from my conversation with Rich the other night? A lot of stuff, actually. To make it easy on myself and those of you who've made it this far though, here's the ever important short list:

1. Quality miles over quantity of miles. Do what you can, where you are, with the time you have. Simple as that. No excuses. (Editor's note: As brought to my attention by one Mark Driscoll, this not meant to be interpreted that I suddenly advocate low mileage training. I don't. As Malmo would say, I'm an advocate of right mileage training. Make the most of your mileage, whatever it may be.)

2. Emphasis on threshold type running. Even though Marion's overall mileage was low, most - if not all of it - was at a quick, but not killer pace. (Editor's note: Again, I am a NOT a sudden convert to low-mileage/higher intensity training), but do I think there's something to be said here for the importance of tempo running. Throw some easy recovery runs in there and some well-placed speed work and you've got yourself a recipe for success.

Unfortunately, that's all I've got time for tonight. Sorry for the above bit of rambling, but if I suddenly happen to remember anything I forgot to mention, I'll be sure to update in the very near future. Any questions the above text might generate, however, feel free to fire me a question at any time. Take it easy.

Quote of the day:

People who ran at that time were runners. They were weirdos... At that time, they were just a different breed.
- Patti Dillon on runners in the 70's

Monday, November 06, 2006

NY, New Balance, new additions and Nationals

Congratulations are in order on many fronts today, so let's not waste any time...

* First, to good pal Kim Nolan on a 2:57:44 yesterday at New York. When told she handed it to Lance Armstrong, the too humble Nolan replied, "I never even saw him." That's because his slow ass was behind you the whole time!

* Second, to the most underrated and underrespected man in marathoning, Pete Gilmore. He was the top American yesterday and 10th overall in the Big Apple, adding to his stellar peformance at Boston this past April. Get the guy a shoe deal already!

* Next, to my New Balance Boston teammates on solid days yesterday at the USATF-NE Cross Country Championships at Franklin Park. Both our squads ended up second in the team standings to the always well-stacked BAA. Erin Dromgoole was our top gal in third overall and the immortal Mike Maceiko led the men with an 8th place finish. We've got a pretty solid crew coming together and it's only a matter of time before things really start clicking for everyone.

* Speaking of NB Boston teammates, the next round of congratulations goes out to Brad and his wife Caitlin, who are expecting their first child this coming April. If he or she is like dad and has a firm hold on hitting splits dead-on, be on the lookout for Baby Brad sometime before Boston!

* To the flying Skyhawks of Stonehill cross country. Both the women's and men's teams qualified for Nationals yesterday with first and second place finishes, respectively, at the D2 New England Regional, also held at Franklin Park. Granted I only ran with one of the current studs on the guys' squad, if any of you badasses are out there reading this, I challenge you to become the first Stonehill squad to nab a top-10 finish. It's been long overdue. The talent is there; run with confidence and show the rest of the country where you stand.

That'll do it for now. There's much to get done with a free afternoon staring me dead smack in the face. Take it easy.

Quote of the day:

I think I bit off more than I could chew.
- Lance Armstrong

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Dead to me

Yesterday I picked up a copy of Jogger's World - the one with a corpse-like Deena Kastor on the cover - to entertain myself on a slow night holding down the fort at PR Running. Right off the bat, let me say that I have nothing against Deena Kastor - hell, she's one of my top-3 favorite runners of all-time - but RW did an atrocious job this month dolling her up for the cover shoot. Luckily, I'm not the only one who shares these sentiments.

Back to the issue itself. Lots of laughable stuff in there, as usual, but a piece entitled, "The American Runner, 2006", practically had me rolling around on the floor. It might not have the same effect on you, but for $4.50, you can find out "who you are, what makes you run, and why you like Chariots of Fire." What an eye-opener! For instance, I never knew that...

* There's a 49% chance I'm running with a water bottle on my person at all times, a 43% chance I've got my MP3 player with me for the 50% of the time I spend running on busy roads, a 25% probability that I'm carrying a GPS unit with me so I don't get lost on the treadmill I happen to run on 5% of the time, but only a 17% chance I'm carrying my cell phone so that I can call someone with the completely valid excuse that my wife is ovulating, thus preventing me from actually getting my run in.

* Each year, I buy only 3 pairs of running shoes because there's a 31% likelihood I'm running 4 days a week at an average of 9-9:59 per mile.

* The thoughts "latte, latte, latte" and "slow is smooth, smooth is fast" are the key mantras missing from my motivational strategy to help get me through a tough workout.

* Eminem's "Lose Yourself" and the Black Eyed Peas "Pump It" should be two of the songs I definitely have programmed into my MP3 player when I'm blazing a trail for 16% of my 20-29 miles per week.

* Pre barely edged out my dad and Jesus as people I'd most like to run with. And good 'ol George Dubya is a more desirable running partner than either Lance Armstrong or Will Farrell. Did they conduct this poll in Florida? I demand a recount.

* 59% of the time I'd rather get laid than go for a run. Actually, I can't argue with that.

That'll do it for this entry. If the numbers are accurate, there's a 2% chance I'm meditating before I head out for my run. It's 7% more likely, however, that I'm searching for my Fuel Belt. "You won't miss me anyway", however, according to the No. 2 excuse used when certain obligations threaten to keep me from a run. Take it easy.

Quote of the day:

Don't allow injuries or other setbacks to derail your faith in your ultimate goals. Everyone goes through hard times.
- Kara Goucher giving arguably the most useful piece of advice in the aforementioned issue of Runner's World

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Spare me

While I have a spare minute - and believe me, they've been hard to come by of late - let's re-cap.

* A belated congrats to the entire New England crew who ran Chicago some 10 days ago. On the whole, we were well represented. One of these days I'm gonna get myself to the starting line in one piece so I can be a part of it.

* My 8 week post-stress fracture "Re-Introduction" block is successfully in the books. Mileage totals were as follows: 6, 12, 12, 20, 26, 30, 35, 42. This week will begin a 4-week "Building" block, by the end of which I hope to be back in the 60 mile-per-week range. No planned workouts, other than the incorporation of 6 x 20 sec strides a few times per week, which I began today. This block will culminate with a 4-mile free-for-all on Turkey Day at the Gobble, Gobble, Gobble in Somerville, which will give me an idea where I am fitness wise before Kevin takes charge of the workouts. The early line from Vegas has me coming in at 22:30, with an over/under of 30 sec. Start placing your bets now.

Other than that, work takes up a good amount of my free time. I don't mind so much, but I do have to close up the store right now, thus ending this brief entry. Hopefully I'll have more to spill sometime soon. Take it easy.

Quote of the day:

It takes a while to figure out the marathon, so I think the earlier you’re willing to give it a shot, the better off you’ll be in the long run.
- Patrick Gildea

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Worthwhile investment

Greetings from Chi-town! This entry brought to you courtesy of the $9.95 I dropped for 24-hour internet access in order to file my column for work this morning. It's been a busy 36 hours since arriving here in the Windy City, mostly consisting of traversing the city by foot and dining at a few of the many fine establishments in close proximity to downtown.

For purposes of preserving anonymity, I won't reveal the identity of the former teammate who is letting me crash on their floor for the weekend, but I will say the two of us are having a grand ole time taking in the marathon weekend festivities. It's been nice to catch up given the fact that we currently live on opposite sides of the country, and that neither of us are actually running the marathon tomorrow. No pressure, despite the fact we're taking up space on the 13th floor!

Speaking of said floor, we both figured that it may have been a bad omen given the unlucky history of the number that typically falls after 12 and before 14, but any chances of ill luck falling upon us this weekend were quickly nixed when a giant gob of bird shit inconveniently fell on me as we were wandering through downtown last night. Hey, shit happens.

Anywho, it's time I hit the hay given an early wakeup tomorrow morning and no internet access again till Monday evening sometime. Hope everyone's having themselves a dandy weekend. Take it easy.

Quote of the day:

"We went 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 at New England's. We should've swept - it was fuckin' embarrassing."
- Idle chatter this afternoon with former Providence star Keith Kelly about the good 'ol days of New England cross country.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Blown away

Not yet, actually, but tomorrow I am indeed heading to the Windy City for a lil Chicago Marathon action. Well, the only action I'll be partaking in related to the marathon involves spectating, but I'm excited for it nonetheless. This should be a fun lil trip.

With that being said, best of luck to everyone racing this weekend, especially my boys in the Bay State crew. You clowns will be sure to hear me at various points along the course.

Back on Monday - till then, take it easy.

Quote of the day:

Chicago is a fast course, yes. But so many things must go right to run a fast time. You can’t plan on it too far out. Not until the training program is finished.
- Charles Kibiwott

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Status check

No worries, I haven't completely abandoned this space just yet, and believe it or not I have a few changes - albeit cosmetic ones - in the works, so continue to stay tuned if the signal hasn't gone dead already. With that being said, it appears I've got some catching up to do. Here goes nuthin'...

A lot's been going on since I last wrote - nothing terribly exciting, monumental or earth-shattering, but a lot nonetheless. At the forefront is my ever-so-gradual return to running. I've successfully completed Week 6 of the comeback and am two weeks away from being back on a regular 7-day-a-week shedule. Longest run thus far was an 8-mile misadventure last Tuesday evening in Newton, but otherwise I've been sticking in the 5-6 mile range for the last couple of weeks. So far, so good, knock on wood.

Between both jobs, work's been a bit busy, but rather enjoyable given the absurd amount of time I spend trying to make a buck. Nothing new to speak of at the ol' T&G, and business at the running store is hovering on the slow side now that cross country and marathon season is in full swing. The logistics of each operation are so remarkably different that it keeps my ever-shortening attention span somewhat in focus. This, of course, is a good thing.

Speaking of good things, former Chieftain cross country teammate and all-around good guy Greg Saia had a nice marathon debut in Lowell today, clocking a 2:57:24 to qualify for Baaahston in April. Nice work!

And while I'm on the subject of marathons, this coming weekend marks the arrival of the much-anticipated Chicago Marathon. While neither I nor fellow banged-up pals Adam Ten or Nate Jenkins are part of the crew any longer, do take note of the solid New England contingent making the trek out to the windy city for Sunday's 26.2-mile melee: New Balance Boston teammates Ryan Carrara, Brad Klinedinst and Chris Voce, former BAA teammates Terry Shea, Mark LaRosa, Pat Moulton, Ian Nurse, and a host of others I'm unintentionally leaving out. I do believe the whole lot of them will indeed tear things up. I'm disappointed not to be racing alongside my comrades in sweat, but I am uber excited that I'll have the opportunity to watch them all up close.

Random work-related fun fact of the night: The Walpole High School field hockey team is nicknamed the Porkers. You can bet your loose couch change I got that in a headline.

Lastly, I'm not one for political meddling, but this clown is a fellow graduate of the fine institution which also awarded me an undergraduate degree, which isn't saying much. Luckily, he has about as good a chance of being the governor of Massachusetts as George Bush does of making a rational international decision, which also isn't saying much.

Lastly, a shoutout to my boy Mark Driscoll, who should be outlining his thesis instead of pestering me to hit the PUBLISH button at the bottom of the screen. Take it easy all.

Quote of the day:

Eat the cookies, spare the children.
- Co-worker Mike Besaw in a phone conversation with his wife this evening.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Blessed trinity

I sold a pair of these at work today. It's a great running shoe - take my word for it, or better yet, go try a pair on for yourself. This probably doesn't matter to most of you who may frequent this space from time to time, unless your name happens to be Ted Fitzpatrick.

With that being said, how ya doin' Ted? A little birdie in San Diego told me you check in here from time to time. Thanks for visiting - and thanks for the bright-ass yellow Reebok pullover!

Quote of the day:

You've got to be both good and lucky to win at this level. You know that.
- Gary Gardner, coach of UMass Lowell men's cross country, 2006 New England Champions, in a short interview with me today

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Ride of the century

This past weekend I partook in this 100-mile adventure with four good 'ol pals of mine. The weather was great and the ride itself went pretty well, with three out of five of us finishing the trek around in and around Acadia National Park. Even with a slight misdirection - and more idling along than I would have liked - the full 103 miles took Bergs, Reino and I just under 6 hours. To be honest, I felt great, and still do two days later. The effort was long, but none too exhausting. I effectively managed to stay on top of my fluid and fuel intake and I think that played a huge part in the success of my longest ride to date.

Saturday I raced my two-wheeler in the Greenway Challenge relay as part of a corporate team for my primary employer. We finished 6th of 8 in our divison, a bit disappointing, but a fun time nonetheless. Above and to the right is a shot of me starting my leg, courtesy of team captain, Jackie Reis. I finished the 14-mile segment in 40:01 for a 21 mph average on a fairly hilly course. I managed to pick us up 22 spots in the process, which was a huge adrenaline rush.

These two big days on the bike were likely my last cycling hurrahs of the summer/early fall now that I'm successfully running on a somewhat consistent basis. I'm in Week 5 of my return and up to 5 miles, 5 times a week. The plan is to mix these few fairly easy miles of running with equally un-outrageous - but slightly more intense - miles of biking until the first week of November, at which point I will hopefully be covering up to around 45-50 miles a week by foot. If all goes well, maybe a Turkey Day race to see where my fitness is at, but right now, that's nothing more than a very distant thought.

While I'm touching on the idea of races, however, be sure to check out the primative version of my club's new Web site, found here. Same club, same coach, but a new name, some new energy and new life. I'm pumped to be a part of it.

Lastly, I got me some new wheels a week ago today in the form of a 2007 Toyota Corolla S with Sports Plus package, color: phantom gray. A pretty significant upgrade from the greenish-blue Escort, for sure, and it didn't even totally break my bank. However, it's easily the nicest thing I'll likely own - ever - unless I hit it big, that is. Pictures to follow.

That'll do it for tonight. Sorry for the infrequent updates, but in case anyone was concerned, I am indeed alive and well. Take it easy.

Quote of the day:

Wearing number 7, the man nicknamed “Ritz cracker” had never been considered a favourite for the race, just the latest bright prospect of American distance running gearing up for his marathon debut in New York City on 5th November.
- IAAF report on Dathan Ritzenhein at the Great North Run

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

It is what it is

It's occurred to me that I should probably change the name of this blog to the not-so-daily runaround, seeing that I've failed miserably in fulfilling my original intentions for this space. There's no time to look back, however, so the best I can do is move on. It is what it is, as KcoachB used to say.

In a nutshell, here's what I've been/will be up to:

* I went here on Saturday with old friends and lifetime Fraioli/Bergenholtz Superfans, M & M. Good times. The prize-winning show cow dropped his load right in front of us. It made Meg's day - I'm not even kidding.

* Saw this movie with CCS on Saturday night at The Flick in Lexington. It was a nice end to a long day. I laughed. I almost cried. I smiled, and I frowned. Now that's a good movie.

* Working - almost every day - anywhere from 4-5 hours at the running store some days and up to 8 or so at the newspaper on others. Throw in a few 3-to-4 hour freelance projects, and it doesn't leave for much free time. Oddly enough, it never feels like I'm actually "working" at any given time. I just like being busy, I guess. Getting paid is nice, too.

* Running - up to 5 miles now - every other day for the time being. I just began Week 4 of what I'm calling my 8-week "Re-introduction Period". I'm happy to report that thus far all is going well. No pain in the suspect area. I'm hoping to be back up to 45 miles a week by the end of this period, at which point I can begin thinking about actually training again. Let's not go there just yet, however - one day at a time right now. As Ryan has said: The schedule changes you, you do not change the schedule.

* Some racing on the horizon this weekend, in the form of this on Saturday morning. My main employer has entered a team in the corporate division and I've got the second leg, a 13.8-mile bike trek from Millbury into Sutton, which hopefully will take me just under 40 minutes. I've never raced on a bike before, so it will be interesting to see where my recklessness gets me.

* Speaking of recklessness, I, along with a few good pals of mine, will be heading up to Maine on Saturday afternoon for this bout of ridiculousness early on Sunday morning. 6,200 feet of climbing, including a 3-1/2 mile, 1000-foot ascent after an 87-mile warmup. Yep, it has potential disaster written all over it.

* My other, more mechanically-driven set of wheels needs some major repairs, so I've been in the market for a new ride. Specifically, one of these - same color and style. It's niiiiiiiice.

And that'll do it for now. Take it easy.

Quote of the day:

The last 5k really hurt.
- Haile Gebrselassie on his 2:05:56

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

They're watching you

Ahhh, I've made my return to the unforgiving arena of public domain, otherwise known as blogland. What leads me to this harsh realization, you might ask?

Well, if I answer the preceding question by giving specific mention to an easily identifiable person, institution, location or event, chances are someone will read it, call me on it, and the vicious cycle inevitably continues. If at all possible, I'd like to avoid these sorts of situations in the future, so I'll just have to watch my words a little more closely from now on, apparently. There's no trouble to speak of, but I continue to be amazed by the wide array of people who visit this space - some of whom I've met, most of whom I haven't. It's downright scary sometimes.

Ok, with that being said, it's time to move on. Lesson learned. Take it easy all.

Quote of the day:

Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.
-Frank Outlaw

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Giving chase

Ya know what? Life is good. Extremely busy, but good.

That is all.

Quote of the day:

I was at the 5K with Tom. I looked down at my watch - fourteen twenty-five. Way too fast. The goal was fifteen minutes. Right then it was over. I go to the next Starbucks and get a coffee.
- Coach Dieter Hogen on Evans Rutto going out too hard two years ago at the Chicago Marathon.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Scars heal

So it seems I have a penchant for abusive relationships.

Although she originally didn't seem to have a problem with it, I'm sensing that Celine must be feeling a bit of jealousy toward R since I began seeing her again last week. I'm not sure exactly what I said, or did, but while out on our ride this morning Celine got uber pissed and snapped at me, tossing me to the road at about 23 mph. The fall didn't seem to affect her at all, but left me with a couple nasty reminders of my apparent wrongdoings. We rode home in an eerily, uncomfortable silence.

I'm supposed to see R tomorrow, but Celine left me a little bruised by today's incident and I'm not sure if I'll be up to it or not. Maybe everything will feel better in the morning, but we'll see.

There's gonna have to be some bit of compromise here or I may have to re-think this relationship completely. I can't make everyone happy, but I do have to watch out for myself so I don't keep getting burned like this. Live and learn.

Quote of the day:

To beat Lagat, I will need to train harder than he does; that will be very difficult. He is the second greatest miler of all time. I think I can do it.
- Gabe Jennings, who else?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Great awakening

Yaaaaaaaaaawn, I've awoken from my slumber in order to provide ya'll with a short update. Actually, I haven't slept nearly as much as I should lately, but sleep is for the weak, right? Right, and if not, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

So what have I been up to? Good question, and while I don't have the time right now to provide a complete answer, here's the Cliff's Notes version:

* Trip to Michigan, interviewing for a position as the assistant web editor for the U of M Athletics Web site, In short, the interview went really well, the people seemed really nice, Ann Arbor is a beeeeeeeeautiful city, but after experiencing the ins and outs of the job up close, I just couldn't see myself being happy in that line of work. I haven't been offered or denied the job yet, but either way, I won't be moving to Ann Arbor any time in the immediate future (sorry Gwyth!). The interview experience itself, however, was invaluable and worth the trip itself.

* 72.5-mile bike ride with Bergs and Reino early on Saturday morning. Key word: early. Longest ever for all three of us, and really hauling for a good portion of it. Fun times.

* Starting a new part-time gig here next week. Should provide me some extra cash and a nice discount on running shoes and gear. Rich and Jess are great people too, happy I can help them out.

* Speaking of running, Week 1 of the return was a solid success. Three days, three runs totaling 15 minutes in 5-minute run/walk bouts, and no pain. I've got a long road ahead of me, but at least I'm making progress. Patience is key.

* Red Sox. I won't even get started on the Red Sox. Let's go Pats!

And with that, I'm outta time for tonight.

Quote of the day:

Mario, just take it easy.
- An older, wiser Ryan Carrara, giving me my own much-needed advice

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Back from the Big House

Back from Michigan, been awake for 36 of the last hours 40 and get am to starting get to bit a loopy. A more detailed and coherent report to follow sometime tomorrow after I make my way out of hibernation. Till then, take it easy.

Quote of the day:

Once in a while you have to take a break and visit yourself.
-Audrey Giorgi

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Baby steps

First attempt at any sort of meaningful forward mobility in 8 weeks and I'm happy to report that it went very well. 15 minutes worth of running in three 5-minute segments with 5 minutes of walking in between. Some expected tightness in the hip flexors, quads and calves - not to mention overall awkwardness from dragging my fat ass around the field - but no pain to report in the area of concern. A good first step - happier than a pig in shit right now.

That's it for now, take it easy.

Quote of the day:

Running to him was real, the way he did it the realest thing he knew. It was all joy and woe, hard as diamond; it made him weary beyond comprehension. But it also made him free.
- Once A Runner

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Sporadically boring

My updates of late have been neither consistent nor interesting, but I feel the need to chime in every so often to let anyone who may still be visiting this space to know that I am indeed alive and - for the most part - well.

As of tonight, all my projects are thankfully complete and I should be able to afford myself a few moments of much-needed breathing room now that I am done dealing with an uncooperative agent, wanna-be triathlete, overly confident African transport, potential state champion and a gaggle of horribly-spoken 16-year-old high school girls. All of my encounters with the aforementioned folks are documented somewhere in cyberspace, and if you look in the proper places, you'll be able to entertain yourself with the product of my toils. Except for the agent that is - that exchange will remain exclusive to myself and one Mr. Douglas.

Anyway, there is some potentially exciting news to report, which I haven't given any mention to previously. About 6-7 weeks back I submitted my resume to the University of Michigan for a web-editing position in the Big Blue's athletic department for It sounded pretty cool, so I figured what the hell. Well, I hadn't heard so much as a peep about the job until my current boss asked me last week if UM had given me a call. Honestly, I had forgot that I even applied, but whatdya know this past Friday I recieved a call in the middle of lunch from one of the Wolverine's associate AD's, who conducted an initial interview with me on the spot. I imagine it went pretty well, as I had another phone interview with a few more folks on Monday morning and this afternoon I got a call saying that I'm one of the finalists for the position. To make a long story short, the University is flying me out to Ann Arbor a week from today to get up close and personal. This whole series of events has spun me around about 4-1/2 times. It's exciting and confusing at the same time. If all goes well a week from today, I may have some big decisions to make at the end of next week. It would be a helluva opportunity should it end up presenting itself.

Other than that, life continues to move along at a steady pace of 20 mph on the bike. Next week I'll happily slow things down a little bit and attempt two-legged forward mobility yet again. I'm uber-pumped to get going - motivation is through the roof after 8 weeks of relative rest and non weight-bearing activity. As accustomed as I've become to the wonders of padded spandex, I've got a major itch to rock the split-legged shorts yet again. It will be a slow, gradual and assuredly patient transition back to normalcy though, believe me.

That's it for tonight. I'm going to bed before midnight while I have the rare chance to do so. Take it easy.

Quote of the day:

I was on a mission to win races, not just place in them.
- Bill Rodgers

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Late night, might as well write

OK, a couple days later than orignally anticipated, but I've made my not-so-triumphant return. The Sox are down 9-0 in the ninth to Oakland right now, continuing their dismal month of August, and once again keeping me at work till the wee hours of the morning without providing even a single freakin' run to get excited over. This is ridiculous - bring on Pats' season.

Speaking of which, and granted it's still only preseason, they looked goooooooood the other night against the 'Skins. Things seem to be clicking early on, which might scare some people, but not this guy. I'm not one to complain when things are going well and Bill Belichick is calling the shots. Sorry, Willie.

Onto things of a more personal nature, I'm still biking like a Tour de France wanna-be, yellow jersey and all. Totaling about 30-50 miles a day, six days a week, which is plenty enough time spent in the saddle. I'm having delusions of completing a century ride with my Stonehill buds sometime in October. Speaking of said buds, we had a nice lil rendezvous at la casa de Reino over the weekend, complete with Wiffle ball, grilled delicacies, fire pit and overly-Cuervoed Margueritas. Good times, good times.

Alrighty, it's now 1:22, the Sox farmhands have blown another one and I'm heading home. Looks like lots of rain is in the forecast so perhaps I'll have more to say tomorrow. The big countdown is now officially under a week. Take it easy all.

Quote of the day:

When you see someone running that well, it’s motivating. He shows the hard work, discipline, and sacrifice it takes to be successful. He’s showing the other young guys that you need to go out there and get it, instead of waiting and talking. Success isn’t just going to be handed to you.
- Abdi Abdirhamen on Matt Tegenkamp

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Token update

Still alive, just very busy with work and all the other wacky shit I've involved myself in lately. With a few projects now a fading image in my rearview mirror and a couple days off from work on the horizon, I should get around to a more meaty update sometime between now and Sunday. Until then, sit tight, or loose, whichever is more comfortable. As always, take it easy.

Quote of the day:

Nordy: You know what I can't stand?

Jim (from the back of the room): Midgets?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Midnight magic...or not

Well, the clock just struck midnight here at the Sports Desk, the Sox are still idling along and quite honestly, I have nothing to do until they inevitably blow another one to these bungholes from the Bronx.

But alas, I digress. Onto more productive, enjoyable endeavors such as this past weekend. I headed up to the Granite State with my good pals Bergie, Pat Long the Elder and Campbell for the soupy one's debut triathlon, a half-Ironman on the shores of scenic Lake Winnipesaukee. My junior-year roommate finished 438 out of 1400 in a total time of 5:31:25, well under goal time of 5:45. He finished up the 1/2 marathon in 1:40 dead-on, a good 20 seconds per mile faster than his planned upon 8-minute pace. Even more amazing, the 1.2 mile swim and 56-mile bike were the longest he's ever gone in either discipline. It was awesome to watch him power through it. I was inspired, to say the least.

The rest of the weekend consisted of a little camping and a bit of good-natured debauchery. After setting up shop at the base of Gunstock, Campbell rested his weary bones while Patrick, Bergs and I took off on an undulating endeavor around the aformentioned lake that eneded with an unrelenting 5K climb that I don't wish to repeat anytime soon. Sans shower, the four of us spent a good few hours at a local watering hole, leisurely finishing our dinner and assuredly annoying the hell out of the unfortunate waitress assigned to our table with our off-the-wall requests. She was a trooper, however, and eventually turned the Pats' game for us. Suffice to say, she was tipped well.

In other personally exciting news, I actually ran a little bit today while cheering for my friend the workout whore. It probably totalled two minutes worth of 30-second snippets of ridiculously slow jogging, but it at least resembled running and didn't seem to cause any ill effects. To those of you concerned that this will spark a premature outburst of my inherited obsessiveness, fear not. That'll be it until the 5-10 minute test run on Sept. 6 before my followup with Dr. Stevenson. I'm not gonna lie though, it was a helluva thrill, albeit a brief one.

And guess what? With two outs in the top of the ninth the Yanks just tied the game at 5-5. Given the cumulative ass kicking we've taken the last three games I shouldn't be surprised, but this is getting ridiculous. Take it easy.

Quote of the weekend:

Side boob!
- Campbell, who else

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Busy, busy, busy

And that was before I even took into account the fact that I'm the only guy on the desk tonight reading copy.

I've got nothing to complain about, really, but there is a lot on my plate in the coming week, including a few late shifts on the desk, a couple interviews for the people at this fine organization, a fresh running column, two high school cross country previews and a partridge in a pair tree. If I get my ass in gear and stay on top of things, I should be fine.

Speaking of my ass and gears, I biked 50 miles today - which is the furthest I've ever propelled two wheels with my own legs. It was an exhilerating - not to mention mildly exhausting - experience, to say the least.

And lastly, let me reiterate how much I hate dealing with agents. Sorry Jerry Maguire, but when I finally run some times worthy enough of a big pay day, I'll handle the media requests myself.

That is all. Until next time, take it easy.

Quote of the day:

Here you are, representing an organization that is no doubt paying [this woman] thousands just to show up, and [this clown] acts like you're trying to interview Dubya bedside for The Nation.
- A wise editor I do work for

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Ready, aim, fire

Bullet points, again. Sorry, my creative juices haven't been flowing lately - deal with it.

* 21 days (as of tomorrow) until I try to run again. Follow-up with Dr. Stevenson is on Friday, September 8th and he told me to run for 5-10 minutes and see how things feel. I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a highly-visible countdown on my bedroom wall. I'm healing pretty well, I believe - it doesn't hurt to walk downhill or down stairs anymore - but then again I haven't run worth a lick in 5 weeks now, so who the hell knows for sure.

* On to one of my favorite topics, that being the weather. I hope I'm not jinxing anything by saying it's been beeeee-u-t-fullllll lately. 70's to mid-80's all day and 50-60 at night. Nearly perfect. And ff one more person complains to me again that it's starting to feel like fall, I'm gonna knock 'em out.

* My good buddy Bergie turned 25 today. Congratulations you crotchety old bastard.

* Speaking of Bergie, I'm heading up to the great state of NH this weekend with he and Crazy Man Campbell for the loco one's first half-Ironman on Sunday morning. The archaic one and I will serve as an unofficial support crew/cheering squad for the fittest man currently residing on the South Shore.

* Quick recap of last week's cross-training endeavors: 6 days on the bike, totaling 201.5 miles with two long rides of 41 and a short day of 20. Two water runs at Walden totaling just under three hours of aerobic effort and three days of upper body/abdominal/core strengthening. Quads are thoroughly trashed but seem to be coming around in the early days of this week. The massage on Monday seems to have helped flush some of the shit out of 'em.

* Read this article. Sounded way too familiar to me.

* I'm sure most of you have seen the TV commerical for the new movie "Invincible" by now. At first glance, it looks like a blatant rip-off of "Prefontaine", right down to the soundtrack. Apparently, Mark Wahlberg is the new Jared Leto.

* My beloved Sox are really pissing me off. What else is new, I know. We know the bullpen blows, but here's my latest gripe: either the starting pitching sucks from the outset (ie. Beckett last night) or someone throws a relative gem (ie. Schilling tonight) but he doesn't get an iota of run support from his offensive-minded mates. Sorry boys, but two runs ain't gonna cut it against the best team in baseball.

* Did I mention I can lace 'em back up again in 21 days. For those of you concerned with how this will affect my relationship with Celine - no worries, we're already talking about it.

That'll do it for tonight. Take it easy.

Quote of the day:

Everything now is step-by-step.
- Stefano Baldini

Friday, August 11, 2006

Training wheels

For any interested parties, I began posting my training (well cross-training) log again over on athleticore. It requires a free registration, but believe me it's five minutes well spent. There's a plethora of training logs worth glancing at, including almost all the Hanson's guys and gals and lots of local studs and studesses such as Terry Shea, Carly Graytock, Mark LaRosa, Matt and Brett Ely, A-Ten, my boy Driscoll and a handful of his QU teammates just to name a few.

As for my own training this week, in a nutshell: six days on the road bike, anywhere between 20-45 miles; two, maybe three days of water running at 80-90 minutes per session; and an abs/upper/core routine on M-W-F. Also, I've thrown judicious amounts of stretching into the mix in order to keep me limber.

That's all for now. Time for a quick shower and then it's off to the motherland to visit some friends. Take it easy.

Quote of the day:

The four things that determine success in almost anything - it doesn't have to be distance running but it certainly applies - are, number one, you have to have to have some ability. Number two, you've got to have motivation to use that ability from within, not somebody else yelling at you that you've got to do this because you're talented. You've got to want to do it. If you've got the greatest VO2 Max and the best economy but your lifetime goal is to be a concert pianist, sorry, you're not going to be a great runner. Number three, you've got to have the opportunity to do it, which we pretty much leave to our school system in this country, with a very very weak club system in the developmental years. Fourth you've got to have good direction, which means coaching or a teacher or some plan to follow. And if you have all those things and they're all positive, then we're going to be good.
- Dr. Jack Daniels

Thursday, August 10, 2006

For starters...

More to come later, hopefully, but congrats to Ben Schmeckpeper for running away with today's....

Quote of the day:

I was feeling pretty good and looking forward to running hard; knowing that you're about to kick your own ass is a strange feeling.
- Ben Shmeckpeper

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Curiosity quencher

OK, to fend off the many curious inquiries as to how and where I met "Celine", what she looks like, etc.

I met this fine, sleek, black specimen on Saturday, July 29th at a rather odd location just off Main St. in Worcester. I'll be honest, it was love at first sight - I couldn't keep myself off her. Without hesitation, I brought her home, immediately jumped on her and starting riding her for hours on end. Man, it certainly did feel great to get the heartrate up and sweat again. She satisfies my innermost primal urges, you could say - for 90 minutes, two hours or longer if I so choose, but you know how it is - sometimes you just need to take a break and re-charge.

Sorry for the graphic images, but given my recent heartbreak, I was looking to fill the large void left in my life as quickly as possible. I'm happy to say that Celine has provided me that. For the time being, she's there whenever I need her, and it's comforting to say the least.

For all you curious pervs out there, Celine's measurements are 54 cm, 18 lbs, Shimano 105 shifters and components, an ALX 298 wheelset and a compact geometry that will make your head spin. She's one of the hottest-looking Specialized road bikes I've ever laid my eyes on.

That's right, I was talking about my new bike. And some of you thought I actually had a real girlfriend. Now THAT's funny.

Quote of the day:

Trials never end, of course. Unhappiness and misfortune are bound to occur as long as people live, but there is a feeling now, that was not here before, and it is not just on the surface of things, but penetrates all the way through: We've won it. It's going to get better now. You can sort of tell these things.
- Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Monday, August 07, 2006

Slow ride, take it easy

Sorry I haven't updated in a few days. Between busy nights at work and riding, er, I mean spending time with Celine whenever I have the chance, I just haven't had the time. Fortunately, work will be easing up this week and I'll have the opportunity to keep ya'll posted as to what I've been up to, when I'm not sweating profusely and breathing heavily that is. Take it easy.

Quote of the day:

When I’m running, I run on my own terms and do as much as I feel I need to do on a given day. With painting, I have the same control; I dictate what I’m going to do and how I’m going to do it. The way that you become great at both of them is by being willing to do what’s necessary to take it to the next level when other people aren’t.
- Anthony Famiglietti

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Bang bang

More bullet points. It's just easier this way.

* Although I've never met him, Corrado Giambalvo is the man. And he's got one of the coolest names, like, ever.

* Big double-date tomorrow as I'm taking Celine out to Braintree to hang out with Bergie and Natalie for a couple hours. Afterwards, Bergs and I will head over to Reino's place for a guys night at the bar while the girls spend some time with one other, discussing whatever it is that sleek, well-equiped girls like to discuss.

* Cross-training is now in full swing. Celine has been great about keeping me company five or six times a week for an hour or two at a time, which has been a huge help and should keep my fitness level in the "respectable" range while the stress fracture heals. I've also developed a thrice-weekly strengthening/stretching routine to address and correct the core weaknesses which likely played a hand in said stress fracture. My midsection was rather sore in a few suspect spots this morning, so I think I hit the right muscle groups. Lastly, I started on a three-to-four-time-a-week water running schedule with the aid of a handy belt on loan from this guy's wife. The same guy with the generous wife has also been gracious enough to let me use his pool on occasion, which is greatly appreciated. I also started making use of more natural bodies of water this evening with a 90-some-odd minute aqua jog in beautiful Walden Pond, where I had the luxury of company in the form of an also-banged-up Carly Graytock and Brett Ely, which made this otherwise painstakingly boring form of rehab that much more enjoyable for all of us.

* Walk-off wins for my also banged-up, but still beloved Red Sox are becoming a way of life. I'm OK with that, as long as we're winning.

* I interviewed Kevin Sullivan the other day for mensracing. I thought the conversation went pretty well, so keep an eye out for it over the next few days. He and I unfortunately have a lot in common, like nasty achilles injuries and pelvic stress fractures.

* Temps finally dipped below 90 today. Thank-you, Jesus! Thank-you, Tom Cruise! Tom Cruise, used your witchcraft to get the fire off me!
- Yes, you've probably heard that something similar to that on TV recently. Go see the movie.

That's all I got. One down in the ninth and Sox trailing by a run. Manny at the plate. Let's see if he can expound upon tonight's Bullet Point # 4. Take it easy.

Quote of the day:

I fight every day. But who said a fight has to be tongue and feet? You fight by showing you can overcome.
- Mookie Wilson

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Updated Quote of the Day

Not to discredit my earlier QOTD, but I like this one better. It rings so true.

When you have a passion for running, you have a passion for running. It's very difficult to do anything else.
- Julia Stamps

Viva El Papi!

A few random tidbits worth mentioning:

* I don't care if he doesn't get another hit from now until October and the Red Sox lose their remaining 58 games. Give David Ortiz the AL MVP trophy right now.

* The whole Floyd fiasco finds me dumbfounded. I don't know if he's clean. I don't know if he's dirty. I don't know what to think. I'll leave it at that for now.

* Descending a hill on a bike at close to 40 mph makes for one hell of an adrenaline rush. A tad dangerous, but if it wasn't dangerous, it wouldn't be fun. Right?

* Holy humidity Batman! What a wacky weather pattern we've gone through this summer. Rain, rain, rain, rain, nice, hot, hot, hot, hot, nice, hot, hot, rain, hot, hot, hot. Great Willard Scott this is ridiculous!

* I saw Dr. Stevenson, the orthopedic at St. V's on Friday morning. Aside from him telling me I run too much and no good coach would ever allow me to run more than 50 miles in a week (I stuck up for you Kevin, no worries), he said it will take at least 6-8 more weeks for the stress fracture to heal before I even begin to think about running. From my own research into pelvic stress fractures, and given that I've already got two weeks of no running under my belt, that sounds about right. He gave me the green light to cross-train as I see fit as long as it's not weight bearing and doesn't cause me any pain. During an otherwise grim visit, this provided a small ray of encouragement. Regardless, I'm getting a second opinion.

That's it for now. Too hard to think when it's 95 degrees with equal humidity. Take it easy.

Quote of the day:

Basically, you gotta do what you gotta do. The guy had to make a pitch at the time. You don't want to get the bases loaded and have a hitter like Manny coming up afterwards. So, like I say, you just gotta be ready. I just try to put a good swing on the ball. That's about it.
- David Ortiz

Saturday, July 29, 2006

First date

After picking up the new girl this morning I took her for a spin around town this afternoon before heading into work. You see, she's a little high maintenance but carried herself quite well as I gave her the tour of the mean streets of Auburn. A few awkward moments here and there, which was to be expected, but on the whole we had a great time together and seem to be clicking pretty well early on in our new relationship. We're still getting comfortable with one another for sure, but admittedly, I do miss her as I sit here idly on a slow night at work. We've got a double date out in Randolph tomorrow with Reino and his baby, so we'll see how well she interacts with my friends. In all honesty, I'm not the least bit worried - I know she's gonna do great.

That's it for tonight. Take it easy out there in blogland.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Official Verdict

CT scan showed a stress fracture on the ischium of my pelvis. I don't know much else at this time, but when I do, I'll share.

In the words of Ryan, that's all I got. Take it easy.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A rocky relationship

I liken my relationship with running to that of the girlfriend you never really wanted to be with in the first place but eventually grew to love. In the beginning, everything is awkward - you're unsure of each other, trying to figure out what you want out of the relationship and are still at the point where you can either take it or leave it and not lose much sleep over it. Think back to high school and your first week of cross country practice. Yeah, it was just like that.

Over time, however, the girl grows on you and a bond develops, which eventually strengthens and before you know it, you fall in love with her. Some days you find yourself on Cloud 9 - daydreaming of your future together and all of the special things you're going to do, see and accomplish. It's euphoric, and you lose yourself in these thoughts. Not a moment goes by you aren't thinking of your new love and all the things you're eventually going to do together. As in any relationship, you'll encounter your bumps along the road, but usually these issues are relatively minor, linger for a day or two like a set of sore quads and are forgotten about as quickly as they surfaced. Above everything, you're having fun with the girl and everything just seems to be clicking between the two of you and it seems as if nothing's ever gonna stop you. Kinda like running off a string of PR's, setting a few school records and winning races with relative ease. There are moments of joy and sadness, confusion and anger and everything in between, but this is part of any worthwhile relationship. You learn to take the good with the bad and the highs with the lows and eventually you don't get too excited or upset over either. Sound familiar?

Every so often, however, some big conflict arises between the two of you and inevitably leads to a long break. Trouble was probably brewing beneath the surface for a while, but you chose to ignore it, hoping it would just go away. Think nagging running injuries. One day, however, the issues explode through the surface like a volcano and it's obvious that it's probably gonna take a while to resolve the new, bigger problem at hand. This can be quite painful to accept - not to mention lengthy - and will likely leave you with a feeling of emptiness and withdrawal. You do whatever you can to fix the problem as quickly as possible, talk to anyone and everyone who you think might be able to help you but eventually just drive yourself crazy with your lack of success. She just wants to be left alone but you have trouble accepting that fact.

Eventually, you're forced to teach yourself a lesson in patience and you might back off for a while. Or you might not, and out of haste go find some new girl to occupy the time you once spent with your true love before realizing she just isn't the same, not to mention not nearly as fun to be with. Unsatisfied with the lack of fulfillment the new girl provides, you quit calling her and hope she gets the message loud and clear. In the meantime, you return to feeling sorry for yourself and wallow in your own sadness. Kinda like pool running. It can be downright depressing. The days - sometimes weeks and months - pass, and then one day, seemingly out of the blue, the original girl comes comes crawling back without warning and everything is as beautiful and perfect as it once was. Some awkwardness for sure, but eventually it's like you haven't even missed a step. A return to the good 'ol days, or so it seems.

For a while, there are no issues to speak of. Life is lovey dovey again and seemingly goes off without a hitch. Everything is agreeable between the two of you, and for a while this is comforting. You might even be feeling good enough about how things are going to commit to something momentous and possibly life changing, like marriage or the Chicago Marathon, the ultimate symbols of a beautiful relationship that can only lead to bigger and better things such as children or an Olympic Trials qualifying time. As time goes on, however, you realize that you aren't where you once were and might get the sense that something is missing in the relationship. You freak out. Almost if you're second guessing yourself because you haven't PR'd in three or so years. As a result, you try do everything in your power to find that something again as quickly as possible, even if you don't know what it is exactly. You jump into things too quickly and fail to let nature, or a well-thought out training plan, take its proper course. If anything, you overdo it.

Inevitably, it just leads to another major conflict. Your girl feels you aren't trusting her, maybe even rushing her, and one day she just walks out on you. Just like that. No warning, just one big, decisive blow that's not easy to recover from. It hurts. A lot. You're confused, more so than ever before because everything seemed to be going so good just a few weeks ago. Kinda like the pain in my ass that resurfaces any time I attempt to run these days. Eventually, you start questioning if the relationship is even worth it. You go back to consulting different people, like psychologists or relationship experts - or chiropractors, PTs and massage therapists - but aren't satisfied with anything that you're hearing. Not to mention you're out a down payment on a church and reception hall, or an entry fee and a non-refundable plane ticket to Chicago. Eventually you take matters into your own hands. You quit feeling sorry for yourself and decide to do something about it. Life's too short not to live, right?

Maybe you start seeing new people, like a road bicycle or a swimming pool. The latter you know you don't like, but she's a cheap date, gives you something to do and doesn't take much offense if you blow her off without warning. The former, well, she's all new to you. She's nice to look at, fun to spend time with, keeps you on your toes, and forces you to consider future possibilities. Sure, she's more expensive than the old girl, but when you're with her, you become overrun with an excitement and joy that you haven't experienced in years. You're not even sure if you really like her or not, or if you're ready to make the kind of commitment necessary for something worthwhile and long-lasting to develop, but she gives you that rush you're looking for and for now that's good enough. It seems like a fair trade-off. In the back of your mind, however, you're holding out hope that eventually the old girl might return and everything will be fine and dandy again. Some flames just refuse to die out.

When you talk to some old friends in similar situations, a few think it's great that you're finally seeing other people, a couple consider you a cheater for supposedly taking the easy way out, and others advise you to keep seeing the new girl because the old one will eventually come crawling back and if you're careful about it, you can see a little of both without the other one knowing. It's downright scandalous, but you keep your options open anyway.

This just leaves you in a world of mental turmoil. Your true love, who deep down means the world to you, has broken your heart - in my case, she broke my ass. You still love her to death but just don't want to talk to her right now. It hurts too much. You need your space, she needs hers. After the last big flare-up, everything appeared fine and dandy for a while but the two of you never really took care of the true issue and it just found it's way to the forefront yet again. It's a vicious cycle, which doesn't make for a healthy relationship. In fact, it makes for a rocky, often times frustrating and unfulfilling one. If you try to force the issue, it just makes things that much worse. Sometimes, I've found, you just have to let go - whether you like it or not - and give her the space she needs and let time heal the wounds. If things were truly meant to be, you have to trust that eventually she'll find her way back to you.

As they say, sometimes love hurts.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Detraining log (7/16-7/22)

SUN - AM: 47:25, 7 miles. Same shit, new day. Back doesn't feel too bad but right leg remains crazy tight and my right cheek is still a tad sensitive, especially going downhill.

MON - AM: 23:15, 3 miles. Plan was to go 7 again but a shooting pain from my ass through my hamstring forced me to turn around early and start limping home. Eventually, even that became futile and I was forced to walk the last 1/2 mile, which is a first for me. Not too fucking happy right now.

TUE - OFF. After yesterday's shit show and a sore ass upon waking this morning I decided that it would probably be best not to run today. Lots of ibuprofen, ice, heat, stretching and all that core strengthening B.S. I've been foolishly neglecting.

WED - 16 minutes, 2 miles. Feeling good after a day off, icing, exercises and all that preventative junk, but once I started running my ass started hurting almost immediately and my leg locked up shortly after. Hobbled back to the car in a world of pain. Called Dr. Sjogren, who squeezed me in this afternoon, where he did some more work but was basically dumbfounded by my relative lack of progress. He referred me to Dr. Ken Harling for a second opinion, whom I will see on Monday. Joan Benoit used to drive down from Maine in the early 80's to see him on a regular basis, so hopefully he can help fix my gimpy ass.

THURS - OFF. No running, but walked four miles after dinner which didn't seem to cause any further aggravation.

FRI - OFF. Walked three miles this morning, then drove to Connecticut and joined Driscoll for a 30-minute bike ride before going to donate my money to the Indians. Biking didn't give my tail any trouble.

SAT - OFF. 30-minute bike ride with Driscoll after a long night at the reservation, a net loss of 50 bucks and a few measly hours of sleep. Backside doesn't give me any trouble on the bike but doesn't feel any better, or worse for that matter, walking around and during normal activities. Soon as I try running, however, the pain starts in my ass and makes its way down my leg in a matter of seconds. It's a cruel existance.

WEEK TOTALS: 12 miles, 3 runs. OK, I've just about hit rock bottom with this thing and any remaining specks of light are slowly escaping from my view. This blog has been a sad sight of late, so to anyone who still checks in regularly, I sincerely apologize. As of today (Monday, 7/24), I haven't run a meaningful step in 5 days and I've run the gamut on doctors/chiropractors/PT/massage with no definite answers nor any real progress to report. Cross training, whether I like it or not, starts tomorrow while I get to the bottom of this. Pissed off would be an understatement right about now.

Quote of the day:

I see that I'm dealing with a whole different animal than I originally anticipated.
- Dr. Harling, after filling him in on the specifics of my normal training routine this afternoon

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Tour de Floyd

There are very few moments in sports that I would personally classify as inspiring, but Floyd Landis' dominating 124.3-mile ride from Saint-Jean de Maurienne to Morzine today is certainly worthy of such a classification.

Upon rolling out of bed this morning and habitually parking my ass in front of the computer, I didn't even bother to turn on the 'ol idiot box after yesterday's heartbreaking stage, but Adam Ten promptly informed me via the all-too-convenient AIM that I'd be well served to hit the power button. Well, I took my redheaded friend's advice and the other redhead named Floyd took care of the rest.

What an un-fucking-believable ride! I'm not a cycling guru by any means, but I do consider myself an astute observer of human condition and what this guy did today has to go down as one of the single most impressive displays of athleticism, determination and flat-out guts that I've ever seen. Just look at his face in the above photo - he wasn't taking no for an answer. Yesterday, Landis was all but out of the race - hell, he didn't even give himself much of a chance after losing the yellow jersey, not to mention over 30 minutes to the lead riders - but the competitor in him took over and put a hurtin' on everyone who counted him out, including himself. As OLN's Bob Roll - who rarely has anything insightful to say but hit this one right on the head - put it: "He's been riding the pendulum of pain since he started pedaling earlier today, but somehow he managed to put himself back in contention to win this race. ... I never thought I would say it in this Tour, after yesterday, but the truth is, Floyd Landis can win the Tour de France now, and it’s close enough to be tasted."

Now, I fully understand this race is far from over and Floyd very well may not be on top of the podium in Paris come Sunday, but whatever happens, the fact of the matter is this: Landis' ride today not only made an already unpredictable Tour that much more interesting - it made the race.

Quote of the day:

Everybody wants to say, 'I couldn't win because of this or that. To my way of thinking, it doesn't matter if your goddamn head fell off or your legs exploded. If you didn't make it, you didn't make it. One excuse is as good as another.
- Floyd Landis

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Self-inflicted jinxing

I take back my Floyd Landis comment from yesterday. Apparently I can't run with a busted ass, and believe me I've foolishly been trying to.

That's it for now. I'm gonna wise up and go swimming before I set myself back even more. Take it easy.

Quote of the day:

The more difficulties you have on the way, the more you will enjoy your success.
- Juha "The Cruel" Vaatainen

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Training Log (7/9-7/15)

SUN - OFF. Met up with A-Ten at West Hill. Limping since I rolled out of bed, continued to do so through an opening 1/2-mile of 4:30 before wisely calling it a day. Right leg is dead - felt like somebody was slicing me from my lower back through my hamstring. Shouldn't have tried to run, basically just wasted gas driving out to the trail.

MON - OFF. Another goose egg but some good news to report. Called Dr. Sjogren at 8 this morning and he got me in right at 9 which was fantastic. 30 minutes of testing this and that, a couple awkward contortions and a few pops later I could walk again without a limp. This guy is the man!

Bad news is my alignment was way off, particularly on my right side, which caused my SI joint to jam. This caused me to overcompensate when I was running and resulted in an eventual strain in my lower back/top of glutes, which 'flared up like a forest fire' and is likely pinching my sciatic nerve and putting me in a world of pain. Prescription is a couple days off from running, ice, heat, ibuprofen and a few specific targeted stretches. Hopefully this clears things up relatively quickly.

TUES - OFF. Day 3 on the shelf. Walking normally but tried jogging to my car this afternoon and felt like someone was stabbing me in the ass with a machete. Needless to say, I'm not feeling all that encouraged right now.

WEDS - OFF. Ultrasound/massage on my busted ass this morning, then went for a 4-mile walk/jog later in the afternoon. Going uphill, both walking and running, felt a lot better than going downhill. Going down, my right leg feels dead and sharp pain radiates from my butt through the hamstring. Quite sore afterward but not too much trouble walking around. One day at a time.

THURS - 28 minutes, 4 miles. Sterling Rail Trail solo. Painfully bearable is how I would best describe this run. Whole right side is incredibly locked up and butt is still sore but heat, stretch, ibuprofen seem to be helping matters. I'll try again tomorrow.

FRI - 36:20, 5 miles. Round 3 w/Dr.Sjogren this afternoon; ultrasound on my can, a few more adjustments to loosen up my back, and an elbow firmly planted into the middle of my ass seemed to help quite a bit.

Doc told me not to run for at least two hours after seeing him, not to mention it was still 90 degrees at 6 p.m., so I got kind of a late start tonight around 8:40. Right leg is locked up pretty tight and lower back still a bit off but my ass didn't seem to hurt as much today. Going downhill royally sucks but the flats and uphills are tolerable. Maybe I should just find a mountain to run up till this sucker calms down.

SAT - 44 minutes, 6 miles. Sterling Rail Trail w/Hodgie. Back/butt seem to be improving but right leg still very tight. Stride is almost back to normal. If Floyd Landis can ride his bike with a broken hip, then I guess I can run with a busted ass.

WEEK TOTALS: 15 miles, 3 runs. A shitty, shitty week all around - basically a week off. This recent calamity really took the wind out of my sails but I'm taking it as a sign to smarten up over the coming weeks. Based on the circumstances, Stowe was an obvious no-go this past weekend but Dr. Sjogren has been a huge help and hopefully I'm over the hump with this bastard. I'll take this week one day at a time and hopefully I'll be ready to get back to some real training by next week. Just gotta be patient and use my head.

Quote of the day:

"We are all of us very arrogant and conceited about running down other people's ghosts but just as ignorant and barbaric and superstitious abour our own."

"Why does everybody believe in the law of gravity then?"

"Mass hypnosis. In a very orthodox form known as 'education'."

- Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Grumble, grumble, grumble

So mumbled John throughout a slow night here at the T & G Sports Desk. Why? Beause he's John - he doesn't need a reason to grumble, it's just inherent to his nutty nature. I suppose you'd have to work here to see the humor in all of this, but on a rainy night when drumming up a means of mental stimulation proves a painstaking process, it's enough to keep me entertained.

But anyway, I digress...Still not running, but slowly making progress, or at least I'm trying to convince myself that I am. I saw Dr. Sjogren again this morning, who says structurally I'm back in good shape but mechanically I'm a mess. He attributes a lot of my problems to a weak right side, particularly the hip area, and believes this has caused various degrees of overcompensation which likely led to my past Achilles problems and current dilemma involving a strained muscle or two in my arse - specifically the gluteus medius and/or piriformis. This most recent calamity may also be contributing to a pinching of the sciatic nerve, which would explain the stabbing pain in my right cheek which radiates down through my hamstring. Doc performed some ultrasound today and more of the same is in order for Friday. Hopefully we've nipped the problem in the bud early enough that I can return to normal forward progress by this weekend.

Speaking of progress, I made some today by going for a walk this afternoon before work. Of course, I got a little testy and supplemented my leisurely strolling with some light running and was puzzled by how much less it hurts to run and walk uphill as opposed to going down. Descending proved a horrific affair complete with shooting pains down my legs but the ups were surprisingly, but uncomfortably bearable. The leg itself feels pretty much dead, so I was more or less just dragging it behind me anyway. Walking around afterward wasn't too bad but I popped a few ibuprofen with dinner just to be safe. Like I wrote yesterday, one day at a time right now, so I guess we'll just have to see what tomorrow brings.

And that'll do it for tonight. John's done grumbling so I'm taking that as my cue to go home. Take it easy.

Quote of the day:

It seems that people's pain thresholds aren't very big and if they're pushing (limits), they feel like the pushing is bad. But the pushing is actually good. But then you get the crazy runners that push too hard. I feel like I'm pretty smart about resting. I don't think that a lot of people are very good about resting. I think a lot of people who say that they've overtrained or thinking that they're overtraining are just underrested. If you rested a little more, your body can handle a huge amount of work — a high level of quality, and a lot of mileage, once you can adapt.
- Deena Kastor

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Training Log (7/2-7/8)

Current status: On the shelf with a lower back/butt injury which has been nagging since after last Saturday's tempo but flared up like a California forest fire this past weekend. I could barely walk Saturday afternoon but foolishly attempted to run anyway on Sunday morning at West Hill with A-Ten. An 'attempt' was all I could muster, as I didn't even last a half-mile at a pathetic 9-minute-per-mile pace before having to hobble back to the car. First thing Monday morning I called my chiropractor, Dr. Sjogren, and luckily he was able to get me right in. After 30 minutes of testing this and that, he surmised that my SI joint was jammed worse than Boston traffic on a Friday afternoon, thus throwing off my overall alignment and causing any attempt at forward mobility to resemble that of a cripple. A few awkward contortions and a couple of well-placed 'pops' later I was standing straight again and walking without a hitch. Unfortunately, my ass feels like its being stabbed with a machete anytime I attempt anything remotely resembling running, so I'm not completely out of the water just yet. Dr. Sjogren thinks I likely pulled a muscle in my glute by overcompensating on my right side and should rest it for at least a few days, so that's what I've been doing. He's fixed my biomechanically-challenged ass three times now so it's probably in my best interest to listen to him. Hopefully this is only a small bump in the road and I'll be back to the grind sooner than later. With that out of the way, here's how last week looked:

SUN - AM: 93 minutes, 13 miles. On the trails in Hudson with Ryan, Christy, Hodge, Driscoll and about 500 deer flys. PM: 34:10, 5 miles. Quick run before work, finishing with 6 Driscoll strides once I was able to shake-off the post-nap/pre-work sluggishness around mile 3 or so.

MON - AM: 62:30, 8 miles. Easy does it with Hodgie at the Rail Trail. Slow but sluggish. PM: 27:20, 4 miles. Some more of that pre-work sluggishness thing going on.

TUES - AM: 8 miles. John Carson 2-Mile in Chelmsford. Ugly. You can read about it here. PM: 65:45, 10 miles. Rail Trail solo after spending the afternoon lounging in the Carrara's pool. Got pissed at this morning's case of pussyitis and started hammering on my way back down the trail. Clocked a 5:13 last mile on the trail before wisely pulling the rip cord. Very tired, need to get some good sleep tonight.

WEDS - AM: 60 minutes, 8 miles. Solo and slow at West Hill. Not feeling too peppy this morning. PM: 28:30, 4 miles. Legs are flatlining.

THURS - AM: 2:09, 20 miles. Solo from the Stone Church, started off with an easy mile on the roads (7:39), then Rail Trail 10 (64:14 - 6:52, 6:36, 6:23, 5:58, 5:47, 6:09 on the marked miles), right into 8-mile loop (50:17 - hilly), then slowed it down and finished with the same road mile I started off with (6:50). Fastest I've run either of these loops in almost two years, nevermind both on a single run. Felt like a million bucks after about a week of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It's amazing what a couple good nights of sleep and under 70% humidity can do for your body.

FRI - AM: 46:25, 7 miles. Solo on the roads from home, finishing with 5 Driscoll strides. Legs feeling a bit heavy 1/2-way through. Right hip a bit out of whack. Stupid roads. PM: 60 minutes, 9 miles. Ran with Old Man Willy on the bike path/roads in humid Hudson. Finished up with 4 strides; hip/back still annoying.

SAT - AM: 40:25, 6 miles. Sterling Rail Trail; first 4 miles easy with Hodge, last 2 miles solo progressing down to 5:20-30 pace. Felt flat, couldn't open up my stride. AM: 53:30, 8 miles. First 1-1/2 miles real easy on the roads, next 5 progression on the trail (6:37, 6:14, 6:00, 5:48, 5:12), last 1-1/2 miles real easy back to the car. Felt quite good considering the quick turnaround, not to mention breakfast, between runs. Hip/back flared up pretty bad the last mile, forcing me to shorten my stride and crawl back to the car. Not good. Limped around all afternoon and almost called into work but sucked it up and went in anyway. Really hope this isn't anything serious.

WEEK TOTALS: 110 miles, 13 runs. In all honesty, this wasn't a good week. On one hand, the volume was where I wanted it to be but on the other I...1. raced like a chump, 2. didn't get nearly enough rest and to top it off 3. injured myself to an unknown extent. I'm not sure the direct catalyst of said injury but I'm willing to bet that it has more than a little something to do with my own stupidity (Tuesday-Saturday, failing to recover properly, etc.) than anything else. I was due for a down week heading into Stowe this coming weekend but as of right now it's probably gonna be a lot lower than originally planned. The race itself is still very much up in the air right now depending on how the next couple days play out. That's it for now. Take it easy (perhaps I should learn to take my own advice sometime).

Quote of the day:

Man, when you hurt yourself, you don't mess around.
- Hodgie

Friday, July 07, 2006

Weekend reading list

If you've got some free time over the next couple days, I suggest giving the following a read:

* Dick Beardsley's 1982 Boston Marathon Training Log. Wanna know what it takes to run 2:08? Click here to find out.

* Fernando Cabada's Training Log. Leave it to me to find this shit.

* Alistair Cragg interview with, which can conveniently be found here. I know the author pretty well - a fine bloke if I do say so myself.

* Floyd Landis feature from Outside magazine, which was brought to my attention by this fine fella from Minnesota. Don't wanna spend the 5 bucks for the print version? Well, today's your lucky day. You can access it here for free.

* Lowell Sun recap of this past Tuesday's John Carson 2-mile in Chelmsfuhd. This temporarily-not-in-training teammate of mine even managed to get a little ink for his noble efforts.

And that's gonna do it for now. Take it easy.

Quote of the day:

Floyd Landis: There's only one rule: The guy who trains the hardest, the most, wins. Period. Because you won't die. Even though you feel like you'll die, you don't actually die. Like when you're training, you can always do one more. Always. As tired as you might think you are, you can always, always do one more.

Dave Zabriskie: I hope some 16-year-old doesn't read this and then go kill himself on the bike.

Landis: That was what I did. I read something like that, and I trained like that, and, yeah, I was pretty damn depressed for a while. Then it got better.