Friday, August 31, 2007

Away From the Keyboard a Few Days

I'd written a lengthy, thigh-slapping post about some tunes for Friday posting, but it's not going to happen. I'm heading out of town asap due to a death in the family, so I'll be gone for a few days. Unfortunately, I'll be hitting the highways over the holiday weekend; so be careful out there, and I'll do the same.
Have a good holiday...

- R

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Police Blotter: Broker 1, Hedge Fund Manager 0

This typical New York Post-type story has been around for about a week, and it reminds me of some of the rants we’ve all had about folks at the gym that continually annoy us. I don’t belong to Equinox Gym, though this location where it occurred is three blocks from Chez Cranky.

This article comes at it from a different angle than the ‘fight breaks out at the gym’ piece it really is, but I especially like the part that informs you that the ‘hedge fund manager’ screams to himself ‘you go, girl’ while in spinning class. He sounds like an idiot, but I have to admit, I’ve never had the urge to attack someone at the gym because they were an idiot. With the number of human beings in that subset, I just don’t have that much time.

When Brokers Attack!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Scream in Training

It occurred to me during one of my mind-altering long runs that I never actually discuss what or how I train for races or any of that crap. Guess I’m too busy complaining about something or discussing the weather in some race I just finished.

Part of the reason I don’t discuss that part of my life is, well, I don’t always think it’s particularly interesting reading for those of you furtively blog-surfing at work or those of you at home, neglecting some preferred leisure activity (like running). Well, I’ll fess up a little about what I do to get from Point A to Point B, but I gotta say there’s nothing better than getting out there and finding out what works best for you. That’s not a disclaimer per se, just my way of saying what works for me may not work for you… though I’ve run enough damn races to have strong opinions, some of which are spot-on correct if I say so myself. So here goes with some random thoughts about training…

Hmm, where am I at, that’s a good starting point… I’m training for the Chicago Marathon, six weeks from last Sunday. In Marathon Preparation Land, I’m at the ‘holy-shit-I-better-be-ready-for-this-thing’ part of the training. And I’ll begin the taper in just under four weeks, scary as that is. Anyway, here we go, you decide if any of this makes sense enough for you to consider, or to perhaps nod your head in agreement…

I keep a running base all year. Good news: I’m ready to train for a marathon about 12 to 16 weeks out instead of 24 weeks out. Bad news: I’m always getting ready for another damn marathon. No rest for the wicked.

I am not a slave to any particular marathon schedule. Put a nicer way, I’m always flexible about which days are ‘workout’ days (two a week), but I still make sure I get one long run in on either Saturday or Sunday. I am very, very lucky in that it doesn’t matter to me whether I run 18 miles or 21, my legs gave up complaining a long time ago. Oh, they have bad days, and they aren’t happy sometimes, but whether or not I run a set mileage or not is not as important as the time put in.

That said, this year I’ve been using Jack Daniels’ training program with VDOT charts and the like. So I’ve been training based on my ability to manage lactic acid buildup and aerobic capacity, while maintaining long-run easy pacing. If you’re looking for a bit of a scientific approach, this is a good one, though I think any marathon training program works, especially if it’s your first. You have to just get out there and do your time. And of course, I was long ago attracted to a training program with the name ‘Jack Daniels’ because it’s somehow fitting, right? If anybody knows of a running coach named Tom Collins or Glen Fidditch, just let me know…

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I like races. You will get better at races if you do more of them. And they are perfect substitutes for #$%&% 800 meter workouts at the track. Plus the race organizers feed you and give you something to wear later, which is more than you’ll get for your trouble at the track.

Stretching. Hmm. I do a little before, but mostly I stretch after a run. I have extremely tight hamstrings, it’s something I constantly have to work at. If you are in the same boat, believe me, you’re not alone. I know I will never, ever be a yoga instructor.

I have, unfortunately, trained my body to be somewhat dehydrated during a run, so I don’t carry gallons of water with me if I can rely on sips from water fountains. However, after long runs (2-3 hours) in the morning I find that I have to drink water all afternoon, or else I start to get sleepy and feel grumpy, to name a dwarf or two. So keep drinking water after you run, sometimes there’s a delayed reaction to that earlier drought.

I’m not a big fan of gu or gel, so I don’t bring much with me, but if I’m running longer than two and a half hours, I’ll bring a packet. I’ve read that you should eat gel every 45 minutes during the marathon, but I’ve never managed to eat more than two during that distance. The stuff is kind of gross, actually. Pretzels are a bit better for me, I get some salt with a little bit of carb, and the taste is bland enough so I don’t feel sick. On occasion, I have brought a packet of table salt with me, and downed it with a cup of water; yes, it’s awful, but at least it helps a little with water retention if that’s an issue.

And I’ll admit it, I’m a bad taperer. I do take it easy during the two weeks before a marathon, but I don’t cut my mileage drastically, just enough to feel like I haven’t ‘lost’ it, and to give my legs a small vacation. So I might run a 16- or 17-miler the week before, which is high depending on which training schedule you’re looking at. I do take the day off before the race, though. All this works for me because it has in the past.

So now I’m running a bit on the high mileage side, 60+ miles per week, with 1-2 tempo/speed workouts each week on Tuesday and Thursday (or thereabouts), followed by a mind-numbing 3-hour(ish) long run sometime over the weekend. My long runs have been going well lately because I generally run more during the week. By ‘well’ I mean ‘not having the desire to stop after 18 miles and murder innocent bystanders’.

One thing you can take away from all this is: after so many marathons, many of the same issues that you encounter training for the first one come back to, well, haunt you. However, you learn to deal with them better because you’ve already been through most of them. They may not be any easier to deal with, but you learn to adapt yourself to any circumstance or issue, be it weather, injuries, fatigue, etc. It does get better, though sometimes depressingly familiar.

So that’s pretty much it for me.

Hey, why are you reading this crap? Either get out there now and get on with the training, or get mentally prepared for that next training session, whatever it is. You heard me!

With Alliterative Love,

Stern Sergeant Satan

Friday, August 24, 2007

iPod Friday 18

Getting back to music blogs, here’s one I check out from time to time: Silence is a Rhythm Too, a nice overview of current music you’ve probably never heard of. And blogger Michael just happens to highlight one of my favorite new bands right now, Midnight Juggernauts, from Australia. Anyway, check it out for some new stuff to listen to on those long runs this weekend. And good luck on those training runs... races and marathons are getting closer...

Silence is a Rhythm Too

Thursday, August 23, 2007

NYC Marathon Winner 'Just Went Out There And Had Fun'

An article from The Onion from way back, but still worth a look… you know you’re a runner if you read this and think to yourself ‘what’s so funny?’

Onion Article from ’05, NYC Marathon Winner Paul Tergat

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Race Report: NYRR Team Championships (5 Miler)

I don’t know why, but every time there’s been a race in New York this summer, the weather has been spectacular. During the week, it rains, it floods, tornados appear, horrible heat arrives, etc., and then all of a sudden it clears up and turns dry and cool for each race, whether it’s a Saturday or Sunday. Really amazing.

And today was no different; after last night’s downpour, it turned dry and dropped into the upper 50s and lower 60s, under bright sunny skies. So it was only the New York City teams who competed in a 5-miler today, and your pal managed to be in this one, running it for the first time.

I knew I’d be in shark-infested waters; later I discovered that was an understatement. With an 8AM start time, the men (only, women had their own race at 9) lined up in Central Park for an unbelievably quick counter-clockwise loop. My FrontRunner team had their place staked out, and I let them stake all they wanted, I was just showing up for the ride after eating way too much granola and coffee for breakfast. I stood to the side so as to not call attention to my poor expected showing and inability to generate ‘points’ for the team. Yes, teams were competing for points that would determine the top, well… points accumulators. As I heard a lady say in a movie or TV show once (I’m not sure where), ‘fellas, why don’t you get a ruler out and settle this once and for all’.

So we took off, and of course, an idiot immediately begins to run over and knock me (and a few other guys) down to make up for his starting near the back of the crowd. I’m OK, but I yelled out ’Jeez’ to make the folks ahead aware of an an incoming jerk. Well, that was about it for the really bad experiences… though a fellow ‘teammate’ didn’t want to answer me as I egged him on once in the last mile, and he decided to let me pass him temporarily so he could sprint past me at the end. Hey junior, I don’t care if you want to sprint past me so you can feel better about yourself and move up in the team placement, just have the decency to at least acknowledge friendly encouragement.

As for me, I gave it what I could, running pretty fast, at least for me. I actually started to get that nauseous feeling you get when you’re pushing too hard, in the last mile and a half. I rarely get that, I’m a good pacer, but I was determined to not end up in the lowest 10% of finishers. Plus I didn’t once stop for water, figuring I’ve run over a half hour without getting water before, why not today…

So I finished the damn race, with no stops, feeling a little queasy, and getting increasingly tired because the crowd is REALLY fast and pissing me off, I’m ready to stop NOW. So I cross the finish line, look at my watch, and let out a fairly loud ‘Oh My God!’ as I realize I’ve run the fastest-timed 5 miles in my life, 32:04. It was loud enough that three infant runners stopped in their tracks to see what my problem was. No problem, it was only six seconds less than my 5-year-old PR, thank you.

So I check the statistics later, and they’re ridiculous. The top 15 ran sub-5-minute miles; all of them had, well, surnames from sub-Saharan Africa (including the winner, who ran it in a 4:45 m/m). The top 200 finishers ALL averaged less than a 5:50 minute mile, which already meant my placing would suck big time. I don’t know what you’re definition of fast is, but I think if you’re running under 6 minute miles in a race, you’re fast. So I’m so far back among the finishers, it’s pathetic. Ultimately, I came in 324th (my lowest placing so far this season) among 777 finishers. And 33rd in my age group, also a low point for the season. That’s compared to the 25th place in my age group in the NYC Half a couple of weeks ago, when there were nearly 10,000 runners!

But you know what? They can all bite me, because I ran the fastest five miles I’ve ever run.

And so end my races for the summer, and what a summer it was. Despite the usual crap pissing me off, I came through it OK by running seven races under seven min/miles, keeping my marathon training mileage intact (I just passed 1500 miles for the year on Tuesday), and actually having enough ‘fun’ (your definition may vary) to keep doing all this crap.

You can damn well bet on carrot cake for me tonight.

Friday, August 17, 2007

iPod Friday 17: List-O-Rama

I done got tagged, dagnabbit, so ‘here’s the 411’ as we used to say when it was a hip phrase back in the day. In fact, ‘back in the day’ used to be hip, but not anymore, so I’ll have to stop there. ‘Oh no, he di-unt’.

Job's I've Held

Busboy, waiter, mail fulfillment manager, courier, music store manager, retail buyer, marketing manager, record label VP, performance artist/exotic dancer (hey, it was one night, one show, and I got a $1 tip in the tightie whities; I call that a job), account manager, CD manufacturing department manager, TV/film/commercial extra, fine art and decorative art appraiser

Movies I Can Watch Over & Over

 King Kong (1933); Wild Strawberries; Young Frankenstein; City Lights; Female Trouble; Faster, Pussycat, Kill, Kill; The 400 Blows, Mr. Hulot’s Holiday.

Guilty Pleasures

Disco, New Wave, ‘70s Soul, almost all types of cheeseball music. Higher-priced ice cream, especially made by guys in Vermont. Repeating out loud what nearby people yell into their cell phone during their conversation (Them: where you now? Me: where you now?; Them: I can’t hear you! Me: I can’t hear you!) on and on, until they can’t take it anymore and stop yelling.

Places I Have Lived

 Huntsville, TX; Mathews, VA; Springfield, VA; Mainz, Germany; Heidelberg, Germany; Tehran, Iran; Washington, D.C., Charlottesville, VA, Williamsburg, VA., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City

TV Shows I Enjoy

 Charlie Rose, Rescue Me, The Daily Show, Le Journal/France 2 News, Little Britain, 24, Ugly Betty, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Real Time with Bill Maher; The Office, The Sarah Silverman Show, The Western Tradition

Vacation Spots

Paris/6th Arrondisement/Odéon-Blvd St. Germain (I’ve vacationed in many places, but this neighborhood is where I keep coming back to). And locally, a grassy, sunny area in Central Park behind The Met, surrounding a statue of Alexander Hamilton (nicknamed ‘Hamilton Beach’ by the locals).

Favorite Foods

Pasta, carrot cake, French bread with imported butter, and coffee so strong that it will remove grout

Websites I Visit Daily

The New York Times,, everybody’s blog (well, I try at least), one out of three auction websites, and about a dozen rotating music blogs out of fifty

Body Parts I have Injured

Right ankle (twisted), left lung (collapsed), my pride

Awards I've Won

’Manager of the Year’ (music retail chain!); Best Actor in a Musical (high school!), First Place (2002 ‘Brooklyn Catholic Charities Run as One 5K’ where there were only 30 other runners!), a trophy from ‘H’ acknowledging mental issues for running two marathons a week apart; oh, and running pal ‘Bambi’ gave me a good samaritan award once for running the NYC Marathon with her, bless her heart.

Nicknames I've Been Called

Dickie, Dieter, Dickster, Mr. Dildo, Mistah Wichad, and… Satan!

Yeah, blogboy here has been around a while, but you knew that already.

Well, Steph tagged me earlier this week, so you can sort of blame her. And here’s some extra credit, the iPod part:

Favorite Song of All Time:
Marvin Gaye – What’s Goin’ On

New, Fun, Yet Repetitive Tune That Fits The Topic:
Junior Senior – Can I Get, Get, Get

P.S. And yes, that’s The Simpsons version of me… Oh, I won’t be taggin’ here, I think Steph got enough folks already (sorry), though anybody reading this is welcome to it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Questions I Think About While I’m Running Alone (And Not Listening to an iPod)

In no particular order.

Why do team sport stars and teenage ‘actresses’ get paid millions while school teachers earn a tiny fraction of that?

Why are/were so many artistic geniuses (Picasso, Beethoven, Hemingway, et al) such flaming assholes? Do you have to be a great asshole to be a great artist?

Why do so many intolerant conservatives lead secret lives of hypocritical and ‘deviant’ behavior? Why can’t the liberals call them on it? What are the liberals hiding?

Why are Van Halen (can’t put a tour together) and Guns n’ Roses (can’t release an album) so fucked up? And why would anyone care?

Do people actually watch those ridiculous reality/competition shows on TV?

Will the world really end in 2012 like the Mayans predicted? Or does that mean it’s the year Mel Gibson releases ‘Apocalypto 2’?

Why do people who can’t biologically have children (i.e., men) have the right to make decisions on abortion?

How long is that note at the end of The Beatles’ ‘A Day in The Life’, anyway?

Why did George Lucas sap all the fun out of the Star Wars series? And with all his money, why is HE such an asshole? And is that a hairpiece?

What’s up with those ‘American Flag’ running shorts? Should there be a constitutional amendment about putting the flag on your ass?

Why are the much-touted economic theories of the Chicago/Freidman school no longer applicable in a post-Reaganomic climate? (yes, I’m serious.)

Why do so many African-Americans from New Jersey and New York (and further north) speak with a southern twang?

When are we going to stop hearing about celebrities going into rehab? When’s it going to start working?

When are people going to stop committing murder in the name of their religion?

Well, you can certainly read between the lines as to what you might think my answers would be, my snarky worldview is not limited to crowded races and annoying runners and all that crap. So I’m not asking any of you to tackle any of these ‘questions’. Maybe you, too, can come up with a list of your own. It will provide HOURS of pacing fun, especially that last one.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Creepy Crawly Sound Effects, Volume 2

Months ago, I posted about one of the more annoying sound effects coming out of wintertime racing, and it’s taken me this long to write about sound effects again. Actually, the current issue of Runner’s World got me going on this.

Since they haven’t posted this on their website yet, here’s the text of a letter and response in the ‘Ask Miles’ section of the September issue (page 32):

"DEAR MILES: My running partner grunts and groans during a hard workout. What can I do? -Trey C,. Timonium, Maryland.

Short of using an iPod or finding a new partner, there’s only one thing you can do. Buck up, Trey, buck up. I’m not exactly sure why you’re annoyed, but I have a pretty firm stance when it comes to such matters related to physical activity. If you’re going to be a runner, part of the deal is that the sport comes with sweaty shorts, can’t-hold-it-cramps, oozing blisters, and the occasional sound effect. You don’t like it? I recommend running faster so you don’t have to hear him. Or take up snorkeling."

OK, um, I guess that’s… wait a minute, that’s the LAMEST fucking advice I’ve heard coming out of that magazine in a long time. I always like the ‘make sure you drink water’ tip they manage to lay on you every other issue, like they just figured that out, but this little suggestion is so downright dumb and wrong and phoned in, I don’t even know where to begin. Oh, and just to be oddly insulting, the magazine printed an illustration of a grunting gorilla dressed as a runner next to the advice.

Did they actually imply it’s better listening to an iPod to drown out the ‘grunts and groans’? How rude is that? I’ll tell you, ruder than actually breaking the news to someone that they sound like the dinnertime soundtrack at the Rainforest Café. What if your loud running friend is, God forbid, wheezing through a medical condition? I guess we’re supposed to just clam up. Or perhaps ‘running faster so you don’t have to hear him’. That’s right, they suggested you could just leave them behind.

I’m sorry, ‘Miles’, or ‘Kay’ (in the European issue, probably), if you’re ‘not sure why… (we’re) …annoyed’ it’s because needless sound effects are, you guessed it, damned annoying. If I’m running with someone, they’re probably a friend, and friends tell you when there’s something hanging from your nose or when toilet paper is stuck to your shoe. And if you’re running comrade trusts you enough to keep their pace then they trust you enough to be constructively honest with them.

I may be cranky in prose, but in person (sorry to burst bubbles here), I’m not an asshole. I would never come out and tell someone to cut the unnecessary noise or else, nor would I avoid running with a good friend and give up on them just because they make annoying sounds. You can be tactful without pissing people off, ‘Miles’. Wet shorts, blisters and cramps come with the territory because you can’t always keep them from happening. You CAN control sound effects, such as vocalizing your respiration. And doesn’t all that sound take energy to create? Wouldn’t you rather redirect that energy to maximizing your run?

Enough of my rant (and don’t get me started on wannabe weight lifters at the gym who scream out on every single damn rep). Be nice to your running friends, gently let them know how to be better runners and help them clean up their act, they just might return the favor. Because stupid sound effects are frickin’ unnecessary.

Friday, August 10, 2007

iPod Friday 16: Truck Rock!

Years ago, I came up with my own name for a music genre that I started hearing every so often on oldies stations: Truck Rock. You know, lots of Steve Miller, Foreigner, Pat Benatar, Heart, et al; heavy, but not quite metal. Something white male, middle-aged truckers would listen to while driving skids of Styrofoam cups across the country.

The gym I’ve been going to for about a year now plays Sirius Radio, and the tuner is permanently set on a commercial-free Truck Rock format. Today I heard ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ while doing lat pulldowns, and I couldn’t get ‘Bis-millah! I will not let you go! Let him go!’ out of my head for hours. The gym owners are serious trainers and good guys, but like many who are in or approaching middle age, they kick it old school. That’s OK, but I’ve heard ‘Cold as Ice’ enough times now, thanks. Oh, I like some of these songs, I’m not hating on anybody, it’s just, well, do I have to hear Eddie Money’s ‘Take Me Home Tonight’ every single frickin’ day? Well, it could be a lot worse, I’ve just heard the new Kanye West song…

So today I leave you with an appropriately heat-related tune that ties in the last post and the Truck Rock format. From the biggest-selling album of ’82, here’s one I’ve heard while on the lat machine recently, it’s a lightly seasoned slice of truck rock, a guilty pleasure straight out of Honkyville. (That last sentence was way too-‘Casey Kasem long distance dedication’, sorry.)

Happy Weekend! Enjoy your long runs and races and whatever-athons….

Asia – Heat of the Moment

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Hot in the City!

‘Of Mans First Disobedience, and the Fruit
Of that Forbidden Tree,…’*

If any of you are English majors, you’d recognize that as one of the best-known opening lines in literature. And the author was blind when he composed it; he’d probably be on the Achilles Running Team if he were around today (whoops, another reference to epic literature, it’s not intentional).

So this morning we in the NY area were treated to an amazing weather light show that got me thinking of the fireworks that accompanied the fall of… Satan. I know, I don’t know how I come up with this crap, either. But the wind and rain and lightning that hit us (oh, and a possible tornado in Brooklyn?) was straight out of Industrial Light and Magic. It was serious business, and the roads instantly flooded and the subways turned into, here we go, Dante’s Inferno. I half expected to look out the window and see Satan coming down to join us right after getting kicked out of the Hair Club for Men.

BUT, the skies soon cleared, and after a short delay, I made my way out to Central Park for a tempo run. Oh, I know it’s hot out there, but I’m used to it, and the thermometer just says 88, it’s not like… and then wham!, the wall of humidity hits my post-race hubris and I’m gasping for air. Damn! It’s hot in herre, Nelly.

But I’m a Machinedamnit, I can do this, so what if I only see three other runners in the first ten minutes? And off I go, two miles easy, followed by the first 20-minute tempo run. And my brains starts to say: ‘Jeez, it’s really hot, wonder why I don’t see anybody, I hope I don’t chafe my….. oh good, there’s a cloud, now I can gessome shade….. if I can juss maykih too thuh next wawa founta, I’ll beeawri…. rojpsoduf…. oshjgohjoi…..mmmmbopppppp….’

So my brain begins to fry, just like in that ‘Silence of the Lambs’ sequel kitchen segment. But the legs keep going, and God, or Satan only knows how I could finish the first 20-minute tempo section. With a ten-minute easy interval, I’m scheduled for one more 20-minute session, but the legs say no, no, no, and I hang it up after 6 miles. You know it’s too hot to run when you can wring quarts of sweat out of your shorts WHILE YOU’RE WEARING THEM. I ain’t lyin’.

So if any of you experienced Doppler radar drama this morning, followed by a wet heat that could deep-fry a runner’s brain, then you know what I mean. Next time, I’m staying home and re-reading *Paradise Lost.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Race Report: New York City Half Marathon

Whether or not any runners had a good or a bad day (including CR here), you had to say that the race here Sunday morning was well organized. This is only the second year of this race and course, and it’s kind of surprising how smoothly it went. The New York Road Runners organization has turned this race into a smaller version of the marathon, with similar number pick-up, corrals, post-race amenities, etc., but on a more manageable scale. It must be something of a dry run/rehearsal for the marathon in early November, and that’s just fine.

The best part, at least for me, was the corral system; it was loose enough to not make you feel like you were part of a Nazi regime, yet well-enough enforced so that the 12-minute milers I usually rail about did not try to sneak up front to hang with the Kenyans and Ethiopians. And that was the other aspect of this race that made it remarkable, world-class runners from around the world flew in just for this race. Overall, ten thousand runners, including some of the best in the world, were to make their way once around Central Park and south to Times Square and the West Side Highway.

And the weather was beautiful. The humidity dropped Saturday night, just in time for the 7AM start, and it was clear and gorgeous. As I’ve said before, I’m glad Jesus took time out from his busy schedule to make life a little more bearable for running fools. Thank you, Mr. C.; peace out.

So with a bib number below 3000, I was able to get close enough to the front of the pack to not feel like the first mile would be slow enough to kill my finish time (whatever that would be, though I wanted to beat my time last year). The gun went off, and though it took me about a minute to cross the start line, I knew the crowd ahead would slow me down anyway. I knew to just relax, there’s more than 13 miles to go, get over it. It was indeed a little slow (why people have to wear headphones blasting tunes into their heads in a race is beyond me, especially on a beautiful and one-of-a-kind course), but not too slow, because the corral system had gotten the faster folks up front, and the slower folks further back… imagine that. Refreshing. So I pass the first mile marker, and my watch says 7:18. Wow, I was kind of hoping to run a 7:10-7:15 pace today, so that first mile time is pretty good under the circumstances. But six more miles of hills lurk ahead, and I pull back, especially knowing I have about an hour and a half of running left to do. So I start doing that mental ‘pace yourself, concentrate’ stuff we all end up boring ourselves with sooner or later. Gotta save something for those final miles in the second half.

So rounding the park, and finishing most of the northern hills (I don’t mind hills, I’m lucky that way), I settle into a fairly even pace while going down the east side. The first 10K chip mats go off, and the clock says 44 minutes. Had my brain been able to complete metric conversion at that point, I would’ve known that meant a 7:10 mile, and I was getting faster. But I felt like I was, and once I was out of the park, onto 7th Avenue, the course opened wide, and cheering crowds appeared. I have to admit here, that despite my reliably cranky worldview and cynical outlook, cheering crowds often turn my race experiences into mushy lovefests. Unless I’m having a really bad day, and it’s happened, if you want to yell ‘you look great’ at me as I ran by, you’re getting a smile and a ‘thank you’ back. And sometimes crowd support makes me run faster.

And I did, with 9500 runners behind me, I booked down 7th and into Times Square, past the rock bands and DJs blasting tunes along the course. Rounding the corner onto 42nd Street, I found myself running with the crowd I knew I’d finish with, more or less, and their/our pace made me want to never let up. So onto the blessedly flat riverfront we went, and I got faster. Three or four miles to go, and I’m relatively fine. At around mile eleven, a spectator saw me coming, picked me out, and yelled out my bib number with a ‘you look great, you’re going to do it!’. Since stopping to write this guy a check would’ve meant ending the ‘you look great’ aspect of my race, I decided to… pick it up. And I did, and I knew I was a little faster when the mile marker race officials started telling us we were at a 7-minute pace.

After mentally texting the requisite ‘where is that %&^# finish line?’ e-mail to my brain’s inbox, there it was ahead. The race announcers are telling us we’re clocking in at 1:31, holy shit. I pick up the pace even more, and see the wristwatch staring back at me with my chip time: 1:30:29. Holy shit!, Part 2. Not my fastest time, but my second fastest, and best in six years. It wasn’t until later that I realized I actually averaged less than a 7-minute mile over the course (25th out of 500 in my age group). Of course, it didn’t take long for mental health issues to mix with the endorphins, as I began to wonder if I could keep that pace for a full marathon. Sorry, Tarzan, that’s a whole different ball of wax.

So I basked in the post-race inner glow of knowing I ran better than I dreamed I could on a warm morning in August (plus 8 minutes faster than last year’s Half) and also in the knowledge that the damn thing was over. No matter how I do, I’m always immediately relieved to be done with races, knowing I didn’t injure myself, didn’t hurl Gatorade, and that my pants didn’t fall down. Everything’s going to be OK, Junior.

Of course, the crowds started rolling in bigtime, and finding Susie-on-the-mend among the thousands was much harder than either of us thought, but we finally did meet up by chance. She didn’t do too badly either, she came in 30th in her age group, and considering she had been turned into biker roadkill exactly one week earlier, her performance was better than either of us would’ve predicted.

Well, I’ll be back to my old cranky self soon, it’s just a nice change to be part of a well-run race and finish in a time, which at least for me, was better than usual. Today, we’re back to humidity and unhappy weather, and that dreary ‘end-of-summer’ vibe building up, but I know yesterday I had a fine time on one of the last, and possibly one of the best race days of the New York season.

- (C) R

P.S. Oh yeah, the winner was Haile Gebrsalassie from Ethiopia, with an amazing finish time of 59:24. I saw an interview with him later, and he was very cool, he laughed about his superfast comrades who had ‘started on the park hills too fast’. He said he thought they were kind of crazy to do that, but in the end that pacing helped him finish over a minute ahead of the second place runner. I found it refreshing that he referred to his competition as ‘crazy’, because sometimes I think the runners around me are crazy, too…

Friday, August 3, 2007

iPod Friday Fih-Teen Feat. Da Crunky R

Mr. Angry Runner/Ironman Playa’s fine comments about starting a rapper clothing line and the usage of ‘Mofo’ in yesterday’s post got me coming up with lots of strange ideas. First, I’ve been thinking about clothing lines vs. running teams vs. strange themes (more on that later), and then I thought it would be ‘fun’ to start an alternative universe blog that translates the regular version to another language, in this case, urban rap. And it would practically write itself: Crunky Runner, race pimp. Nice idea, but I don’t quite have the time to translate every blog entry into some alternate reality, whatever it is. But I did make a go at it, and below a ways you’ll find a posting by your pal Crunky, a down and dirty rap translation of the previous post about ‘Da Half’, kickstarted by one of those lame ebonic translation websites. And something of a pale homage to The Onion’s Herbert Kornfeld, who was there, doing it better, long before me. Love me some Herbert.

And while I’m on that theme, here’s a new offering from Fiddy, shamelessly lunging at the Top 40 with the help of Justin Timbaland, uh, Timberlake. Not the greatest tune, but what is nowadays…

50 Cent featuring Justin Timberlake - Ayo Technology (She Wants It)

Crunky Runner Playz Da Half

Soze I gots muh ma-fuh-in official race shit… lookin’ cot-ten, but
it’s uh cotton/poly Mikro-Tyson TV dinner blend pretending ta be like, uh, some gray-ass, whitey scrub triple-XL shih. ‘Property uhda' En Why See Half’, it say. Thassome REEE-al highclass sheeyit goin’ on, damn. But yo’ name printin’ 4 free, can’t pass dat shih up. Should’ve had dem spell out ‘D-A C-R-U-N-K-Y S-A-T-A-N’, but I don’t wants ta scare da baby’s mama’s babies. Oh, you know wha’m sayin’, I didn’t th'o't o' getting’ dat put onnit foe-iss done. Shee-yih, I ain’t frontin’..

So I gotsta be in line by 6 or somefin’ (da race start at 7…why day wanna play dat?), 'bfoe Da Man cut off da course. 10,000 sorry-asses loopin’ ‘round CP yo, down 7, through da white-ass/Kid Rock tourin’ cribba Times Square, ‘cross 42, then down da Wesside ta Battery P. Hills, mo' hills, flat, yo. Buncha muh-fuh, shee-yit, y’ask me.

Yearbefo it rained like muh-fuh-in Duke and Duchess uh Mofo, an' kicks turned inta buckets. This year, da foecast iz fo' hot an' hotta, an' I gotsta believe in it. We done official reached da tyme when you wantin’ more than shawtyz to gets da grime offa yo trainuhs and whatnot, huh?

Shee-yih, not trying ta th'o't about diss here one too hard, but wiff da last races bein’ mid-6 minute onda miles forda Crunky Runner, da speed crack lookin’ mighty fine, mighty fine. Then ag'in, wudden’t half marathongs in 80-90 degree outdoh, but ah flow like mah doe. So I leave da crib, gets dere, curse da fannypack playa hatas up front at da game, haul mah shih, an' git muh-fuh-in tired-ass an' angry in da last two. Bitch inner voice sayin’ ‘where iz dat dang muh-fuh-in finish, BITCH?’ near da end. Or dat Frankenstein-peesa-shih sayin’ ‘gotta… haul… ma… ass… to… muh-fuh-in Springsa… Poland…DAMN!’, which iz about all yo' membrane can come upwiff in this fuh-in ‘hood ‘bout to pop off, huh!?

Thass how I roll, bitchez! Shee-ih.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Sunday is the NYC Half Marathon

And I got my official race shirt… looks cotton, but it’s a cotton/poly microfiber blend pretending to be a gray, standard college jock/lunkhead tee. ‘Property of NYC Half’, it says. Some real cutting edge shit going on there. Anyway, free name printing, can’t pass that up. Should’ve had them spell out ‘S-A-T-A-N’, but I don’t want to scare the little kids. Oh, who am I kidding, I didn’t think of getting that put on there in time. Hey, at least I’m honest.

So I have to be in line by 6:15 (the race starts at 7), before the stern race directors cut off the course entrance. 10,000 runners looping around Central Park, down 7th, through the tourist black hole some call Times Square, across 42nd, then down the West Side Highway to Battery Park. Hills, more hills, then flat.

Last year it rained like Mr. and Mrs. Mofo, and shoes turned into water buckets. This year, the forecast is for hot and hotter, and I believe it. We have officially reached that time of the year when you find yourself wanting to take another shower mid-day, around five hours after the last one and five hours before the next.

Hmm, not trying to think about this one too hard, but with the last five races being mid-6 minute miles, the speed carrot dangles. Then again, they weren’t half marathons in 80-90 degree weather. As usual, I’ll just show up, curse the fannypackers up front at the start, maintain 85% effort, and get really tired and angry in the last two miles. I can practically hear myself saying ‘where is that #$%&@ finish line?’ near the end. Or the ever-popular Frankenstein-inspired ‘must… make… it… to… next… water station…’, which is about as complete a sentence as your brain can compose in summer race heat. The horror… the horror…