Sunday, October 26, 2008

Write away

Man, there's not much to write about when I'm not running, not that I actually write all that much when I am running, but what the heck, it's Friday, I ain't got no job and I ain't got shit to do.

Alright, so maybe it's really Sunday, as far as I know I still have a job and I'm pretty sure I've referenced the above movie quote somewhere else amongst these pages, but this ain't no time for fact checking, it's time for writing, so let's get to work. For a little while, anyway.

Today was the umpteenth running of the Mayor's Cup cross country races and as usual they didn't disappoint. The ladies of NB Boston tore up the team race, the men more than held their own and many of my other fast friends had killer days out on the course, and it was all very exciting to watch. I had a great time catching up with my 'mates and the many others who frequented Franklin Park on this incredible October day. I enjoyed taking it in and talking it up with everyone, and despite the disappointment of not racing I left the park encouraged, excited and eager to get back out there. This is a complete 180 from a couple weeks ago when I was discouraged, borderline depressed and ready to join a rec basketball league soon as my broken butt started to feel better. Luckily, I've adjusted my attitude -- not to mention my killer crossover still needs some work -- so it's probably best I put my hoop dreams off for at least a few more years, anyway. Plus, I'll be back schooling this guy in his driveway prior to Sunday long runs again before he realizes I've just nailed three straight fadeaway jumpers in his eye as my warmup to an 18-miler.

Injuries, frustrations and diminishing ball-handling skills aside, I feel extremely lucky to be in a good place surrounded by great people. Today served as another reminder of just how good this place is and how great those people are, so thank you guys.

Lastly, and speaking of great people, Rich and Jess had a baby girl yesterday, making me an 'uncle' for the third time in the last two years. I leave you with a couple photos of my newest 'niece', born Saturday afternoon at 2:09 and checking in at 20 inches and 7lbs, 3 ozs. She's a cutie.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

After midnight musings

Now that I've got all this free time on my hands I've got no excuse not to be updating this space on a more regular basis. Keeping with the spirit of this blog, however, I'll continue to make those excuses anyway because, hey, consistency is the key to success in life -- no matter what form it takes.

That said, I've got no real desire to ramble on about anything because it's almost 1 AM and I really should get my inactive ass to bed. Of course, I've got no real reason to get up in the morning either, so let's see what I can come up with in the next few minutes.

There's been a big to-do in the news about the gal who "won" the Nike Women's Marathon last weekend in San Francisco, as Arien O'Connell ran the fastest time of the day but wasn't awarded the first-place prize because she didn't start in the "elite" corral. Pardon my elitist insincerity, but this entire situation has hilarity written all over it.
1. O'Connell had a PR of 3:07 going into the race, and as such she didn't feel she deserved a spot in the elite field. Good on her. 3:07 is far from an elite woman's marathon time.

2. The "elite" race was won in 3:06, which sorry folks, isn't much more elite than 3:07. O'Connell finished amongst the rest of the non-elites in 2:55, surprising herself and throwing everyone from race officials to newspaper columnists into a ticked-off tizzy.

3. "At this point we've declared our winner," Nike media relations manager Tanya Lopez said Monday after the race. O'Connell went home prize-less and is pictured with a pissed-off scowl on her face, presumably the result of being slighted by the Swoosh.

4. Note the snazzy Nike sweater O'Connell is sporting in the photo that ran with the article.

5. Two days after the race, Nike changes their tune, sends O'Connell an award and "decided to eliminate the 'elite' category in the annual San Francisco event and would let everyone start at the same time."
Race organizers could have just saved face, gave the girl a lifetime's supply of Rice-A-Roni and forgot any of this mess even occurred, but in the end, they decided to sing Kumbaya, eliminate the "elite" start and let everything else come full circle, which is worth chuckling at. The comments on the article take the cake though. I'll share a couple of my favorites before I head off to bed.

krwalsh - 10/20/2008 10:20:37 PM
Arien, get on the phone with New Balance, or Reebok, or anyone BUT Nike and get yourself a sponsorship deal, now. Any shoe company would buy the publicity that Nike is apparently willing to piss away. You win. Nike loses.

Sorry krwalsh, but not Nike, New Balance, Reebok or even Keds are gonna sponsor the girl.

albanyan98 - 10/20/2008 10:21:48 PM
At 8th grade graduation my name was left off the announced list of the top students in the class when I had the best GPA in the school. I've never forgotten it. Maybe if it had happened when I was older I would have handled it better. After that I just quit trying, dropped out of school, wrecked my car, picked fights in bars, got into drugs and finally overdosed on cough syrup at 9th and mission and now I'm in purgatory awaiting the final day of reckoning. See you in hell you stupid race organizers.

Best. Comment. Ever.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Can't catch a break

Actually, I caught one for the second time in as many years, as the results of the MRI revealed to me today. As suspected, there's a stress fracture in my sacrum -- only one of them, not two as I was lead to believe at the beginning of the weekend. A silver lining, not so much, but one crack is better than two as one Katie Gwyther so eloquently put it to me earlier this evening.

The prognosis? 8-10 weeks no running, maybe more, depending on how quickly the damn thing heals. Obviously, the quicker, the better, but at this point there's no reason to rush. Time -- along with rest, PT, cross training, a few new supplements and the right attitude -- heals all wounds. That's my belief, anyway, and I'm sticking to it.

Look, I don't want one more person to tell me they're sorry or feel bad that I can't run for 8 weeks, 10 weeks, or however long it's gonna be. Yeah, it sucks -- no doubt about it -- but in the end it's only running. Yes, it's a huge part of who I am and what I do but it's not all that I am and all that I do, although it may seem like it sometimes. Trust me, I'll be just fine. I've dealt with a lot worse this year. This is nothing.

The gal pictured below and to the left, however, now she is something, that something being the champion of yesterday's Bay State Marathon. Christy Mae blazed the blacktop with a 2:51:38 clocking, some six minutes -- yes, 6 minutes! -- ahead of the second-place woman. And an almost 7-minute PR to boot!

On the whole, it was a solid day for the boys and gal of NB Boston. Ryan, my trusty training partner, took second overall behind the always tough Matty Pelletier, who still had 16 miles of shit in his legs from Chicago the week before. Not to take away from Matty P's near-record and incredibly impressive performance, but my boy in blue put forth one hell of a solo effort himself into the wind, finishing up in 2:27:13. It was killing me not to be out there with him.

On the undercard, Mike Maceiko - or MacEiko, according to the finest newspaper in the Merrimack Valley, the Lowell Sun - won the half marathon by a convincing 5-minute margain in 1:09:24. Must've been all those Wednesday night hill repeats on Eli Whitney Street in Westboro with myself and the Movie Star.

OK, maybe not but let's just go with that theory. There's no way to disprove it, so we might as well just give ourselves all the credit.

Kidding aside, I was proud of my 'mates and and happy to support them, as well as all my other friends, out along various points of the course yesterday. Each and every one of you provided the injection of inspiration me and my injured ass so desperately need right now. Thank you.

Friday, October 17, 2008

No news day

For those who are curious, I've got no news on the MRI front, except for a rescheduled appointment to 7:45 tomorrow morning because HMO's apparently exist on making things difficult for those who carry their type of insurance.

I won't even get into the load of BS I've been through the past couple days, but luckily I've got some great people working on my behalf and after jumping over this fence and running into that wall this thing is finally gonna get done, and more importantly, be covered.

And that's about it. Bay State is two days away and I'll be heading up there to give a good yell for this guy, this gal, this animal, this gal, as well as this guy and a whole host of others I wish I was joining for a 26.2-mile stroll around scenic Lowell.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

No news isn't good news

Sorry I haven't updated this space in about a week but the fact of the matter is there isn't much to update. My left lower back/butt/hip are still jacked up despite hours of icing, e-stim, numerous adjustments, ART appointments and massages. On a scale of 1-10, walking yields a constant reading of 2-3 on the discomfort meter; any attempt at running, which hasn't exceeded 20 yards in the last week, and that number immediately escalates to 9-10. I had x-rays done on my back/pelvis last Wednesday, which, as expected, revealed nothing. I have an MRI in less than two days time and hopefully that sheds some light on this gloomy situation.

Given my lack of physical improvement since two Tuesdays ago, earlier today I decided to officially pull the plug on Bay State this Sunday. Let's face it, I can't run 26.2 yards right now, nevermind race 26.2 miles. My fitness is fine but trying to tough it out on a busted ass probably isn't best for what's left of my competitive career. I had a nice chat earlier today with Keith Kelly, my Reebok rep and race # hookup, who has suffered two stress fractures in his pelvis and one in his sacrum during a similarly injury-riddled post-collegiate running career. As sad as it sounds, it was comforting to share familiar frustrations with bad timing and bad breaks, both of the literal and figurative sort.

So what am I gonna do? Good question, and one I don't have an answer to right now. I know I need to get the MRI done and read, figure out what's wrong, why it happened and how to fix it. Other than that, I honestly don't have a clue.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Bummed out

About two months back I proclaimed that by the time October rolled around, "I'll either be in 2:24 shape or very very injured." Well, call me Moses because as of October 1 both of those prophecies came true, apparently at the same time.

As I was finishing a workout with my 'mates around the BC Res last Tuesday night I felt two things: elation at the ease with which I was able to execute the intervals, along with a sharp pain in my lower back - just above my left butt cheek - toward the end of the workout. The former feeling was quickly overtaken by the latter as I was forced to cut my cooldown short because of the sharp, stabbing sensation surfacing with every stride.

Bottom line is I haven't run in over a week, minus 2 measly miles on the grass at Balboa Park in San Diego this past Saturday. In the meantime I've been mixing water workouts with 60-minute sessions on the spin bike in an effort to maintain some semblance of the hard-earned fitness I've busted my butt for over the past 12 weeks. And yes, the pun there was indeed intended.

I'd best describe my mindset right now as optimistically pessimistic - optimistic because if we can get this thing figured out sooner than later I'm confident I can still run in the 2:24-range 10 days from now at Bay State; pessimistic because my current symptoms eerily resemble those of the stress fracture of two years ago and aren't improving efficiently enough to leave me feeling even the least bit encouraged.

At this point I'm just doing what I can do, controlling the things I can control and que sera sera.