3.1, 6.2, 12.4, 13.1, 26.2

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Impact if Ink

When first putting together my fitness program to get me to Boston in 2011, I never thought getting a tattoo would be something I would have to alter my training schedule around. Since I started my quest to qualify for Boston back in October, I’ve had to alter my work outs or running schedule for injuries, work schedule, vacations and now ink. Well, pigment is technically the accurate term. As many of you know, I have an intricate tattoo covering the top portion of my right shoulder and upper arm. Its one continuous piece of tribal-like marking I created myself that engulfs my existing “SF” logo tattoo with every piece of the tattoo interlocking with the next. What’s there already was, by design, the first of three phases of the tattoo sequence. The first phase, what exists as of last week, covers the upper part of my arm and shoulder. The second phase, what I had done last weekend and will finish this upcoming weekend (it's going to take three 2-hour appointments to complete this phase), covers most of my right peck and the under-side of my right arm. The third phase (scheduled for later this summer) will cover most, if not all, of my right shoulder blade. I’ll start work on that design in the spring.

So how does this impact my training you ask? It’s simple: the healing process. Let me explain: there are a few key people that I talk to and receive advice from that directly impact my running schedule: my trainer, LL. My wife, Shannon. My body. And most recently, my tattoo artist, Jonny. Jonny works at Skin Kitchen Tattoo here in Des Moines. And let me tell you, in my opinion, this guy is the Pierre-Auguste Renoir of tattoo artists in Iowa. I won’t let anyone else put ink on me; it’s Jonny or nobody. So aside from the hetero man-crush I have on Jonny and his amazingly detailed work ethic and out-right passion when it comes to the art of painting on skin, I let him tell me if I can run or not. And I do that, because he knows best about how the body heals after getting inked. In the place where I’m getting this tattoo, there will be a lot of skin movement and friction from running or the functional movements from my lifting exercises. And with Jonny being the expert on how new ink reacts to those types of circumstances, he’s really good for saying “yay” or “nay” to how soon I can run after getting new ink. Case and point – when I go for the fill-in portion for this new tattoo, I have to wait at least 5 days to allow the skin to heal enough so that the ink won’t bleed out and scar from the friction of my arm swinging as part of my running stride.

With all that being said, I’m hoping to get a 14-miler in this Saturday afternoon before my 9PM appointment with Jonny later that night. As of today (Monday), the weather looks good, so hopefully it all works out. Because after I see Jonny Saturday night, I’m on the shelf for a week.

Still haven’t gotten the bugs worked out for the countdown component for my blog. So consider that still under construction.

Training Update:
This past session with LL was a good one. We took a break from focused leg work to do more of an all-around functional workout. This week’s routine consisted of: squat-to-press, Bosu ball lunges, bicep curls, sumo squat to up-right row, backward lunge with peck fly and, as always, a shit-load of ab work. J Though there wasn’t a lot of specific ab exercises, what she had me do was very oblique-focused. This is what I get for complaining about having “back fat” from not wanting to give up Taco Johns. All-in-all, it was a good workout and I’m looking forward to doing it a couple more times before we meet again.

The Running Route:
This past Saturday’s long run was only 10 miles. Based on how I felt after last week’s run, I probably could have gone another two or three miles, but I didn’t want to push my luck and force miles. Going into the run, I had already decided on an easy 10-miler, so that is what I stuck with. But I’m happy to report that for the second long run in a row, I felt great and wasn’t gassed at the end; a good sign that I’m finally getting back into the shape I was in towards the end of last summer before all my injuries piled up. This route was pretty much the same route I’d been running through Ankeny with the exception of staying on the streets instead of using the trails. Literally. For the entire 10 miles, I was in the street. Which was disappointing considering the 10 ft wide sidewalk along 18th street wasn’t cleared from the snowfall the day before. This really surprised me, to be honest. Usually the city of Ankeny is really good about getting the trails and city sidewalks cleared off right away after a snowfall. Especially since those pathways are used so often by runners, walkers and bikers year-round. But, for whatever reason, the sidewalks were junk, which meant Yours Truly was street-bound the entire run.

If there’s one thing I enjoy about running through Ankeny, it’s the scenery. For the most part, it doesn’t matter what side of town you’re on, Ankeny has done a good job over the years of backing up quaint neighborhoods to other developments (new or old) that almost always offer a pleasing sight while running. The route I took Saturday was no different. Starting in my brand new development (Cherry Glenn Estates) and running north, then east I passed a few open fields and an undeveloped lightly wooded area. Just in the first two miles alone, I saw a picturesque snow-covered hill side, the wide-open space of huge corn field and even a couple of deer. Continuing east on 18th St, I ran past another new housing development that backs up to one that’s been there for several years. But the transition from new to old development isn’t so dramatic that I feel like I’m in another town. That’s the thing that I’m learning to appreciate about Ankeny; one development naturally flows into the next. From there I traversed a smattering of new and existing neighborhoods, a sports complex and eventually ended up in “Old Town Ankeny”. This is, by far, my favorite place to run in the entire town. Old Town is only a fraction of the size of Ankeny itself, covering less than 10 square blocks, but the layout and nostalgic feel of the buildings and houses is something out of a small town portrayed in a Hollywood movie. The two story buildings are butted quietly up to each other with store fronts on the ground floor and studios above. And where there are houses mixed in, they are larger, dated homes will yards full of huge trees that have been there for a hundred years. This neighborhood isn’t full of houses that are run-down, but you can tell the homes have been a part of the landscape for several decades. Just running those 10 blocks completely relaxes me. From Old Town, I continue east on 3rd St, crossing Hwy 69 (Ankeny Blvd) and through an area that consists of a couple busy street, some small shops and fast-food restaurants. Once through that, I’m right back into an older, quiet neighborhood that joins another older, quiet neighborhood. Eventually, I hit my 5 mile turnaround sport and get to run back through all the pleasing sights from which I just came. No deer on the return trip home, but still some pretty nice views.

Non-Running Thoughts of the Week:
Here are some of my non-running thoughts since my last blog posting:
- Went and saw Valentine’s Day last night with the Steele's and Hanson’s. I have to admit, I really enjoyed this flick. I didn’t think I would, but I did. I recommend it as a good date night movie.
- Is it OK that I think Ashton Kutcher is cool? I’m sorry, but he is.
- Our new TV doesn’t arrive until Tuesday, but I’m already looking forward to watching something, anything, on it. For those of you who haven’t seen and LED TV, go check one out. What a difference from an LCD it is.
- I’m still sick of shoveling snow. Even though Shannon shoveled from the last round of snow. Thanks Babe!
- I think it’s about time to turn over the music on my iPod. I’ve played out every current playlist I have and now the songs are starting to annoy me.

Running Rant of the Week:
To the super smart high school chick that almost ran me over while turning out of Casey’s: pay attention, put down your damn cell phone and take a freaking look around before running the stop sign and tearing onto the street!

How kids these days are such terrible drivers is beyond me. I have no doubt that this girl at some point was shown the proper way to drive by her parents. We’ve all been there before – 10 and 2 on the steering wheel, radio down, use your turn signal, always be on the lookout and….I don’t know…. don’t run stop signs!

If you haven’t guessed by now, this week’s rant goes to the airhead that almost plowed me over coming out of the Casey’s on 18th. If it hadn’t been for me paying attention to her (not that I wouldn’t anyway), I would’ve been sliding across her hood. But not in a cool way like Bo or Luke Duke. But like in the rolling from hood-to-windshield-to-ground way when someone’s clearly not paying attention when behind the wheel.

And this rant really isn’t about almost getting hit, as any runner will tell you over the course of a running season, you almost get hit several times. That’s why it’s so important as the runner – or biker for that matter- to ALWAYS pay attention to the cars and NEVER assume they see you. In my closest of near misses (there have been several over the years) it’s always a situation where the driver is not paying attention and bleeds through a stop sign or intersection. So I’m not ranting about almost getting hit. But rather because this girl was obviously so engrossed in her phone conversation that not only did she not see me, she didn’t see the stop sign she blew through on her way into a busy street. And I would think I would be easy to spot because; 1) I was wearing all black against the white background of snow. 2) her view of me was not obstructed by tall snow drifts. 3) In anticipation for both of us arriving at the corner at the same time, I put up both my hands just above my head (think referee when a field goal is good) as I always do to draw more attention to myself. 5) I slowed down and locked eyes with her. But despite all that, she still came within a couple feet of hitting me as a result of running the stop sign.

You may be asking, after this latest near-miss, will I be running in the street anymore? Answer: damn right I will. I have just as much right to be in the street just as a biker or a car does. Granted, I’ll admit it’s not the safest place to run, that’s why I always do everything I did above to avoid getting hit. But with sidewalks that have 2 – 4 inches of snow on them, I was left with little choice for a clear running surface. And, I’m not one of those naïve, “feel bad for me” runners either; I realize I’m in more danger when I’m running in the road vs. the sidewalk. So I’m not going to pretend that I’m surprised by almost getting hit. Hell, I’ve almost been clipped while on a closed course during a marathon. It happens on a regular basis for me and every other die-hard runner out there. It’s something I’ve learned to stay aware of when I’m out in the street. So again, to the chick in the red Cobalt, pay attention. Next time it might not be a runner at the intersection. Next time I might be an 18-wheeler that can’t stop on a dime. #justsayin’.
Oh, and one more thing to Little Ms. Oblivious: put the cigarette out, you barely look old enough to drive, let alone smoke. It looks trashy for someone your age. Don’t you know smoking is the most unattractive things a woman can do?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Qualifier Set

Greetings from the snowy Midwest. I don’t think it’s gone a week without snowing since Thanksgiving. Fortunately, the weather has been cooperating on the weekends lately to allow me to get my long runs in. Three 10 milers in a row over the past three Saturdays with a 12 miler planned this weekend. Of course that all depends on how much snow we get this Friday afternoon and overnight. I’m hoping for only a couple inches, but not holding my breath. I need to be able to log miles Saturday morning because of my upcoming tattoo appointment Saturday night. I’m having more of my arm/should tattoo filled in, so I won’t be able to run for a few days due to the fresh ink. So I need to get my log run in Saturday morning or afternoon or I’ll have to push-back the tat appointment.

It’s Official – Qualifier Set:
I’m registered for Grandma’s Marathon on June19th. This race is best known for its mostly flat route and ideal qualifying conditions. This will be my first attempt of 2010 to quality for the 2011 Boston Marathon! I’m excited and nervous all at the same time. Excited because the route is quick and ideal to qualify with; nervous because of the preclusive off-season of running I’ve had due to various injuries or weather-related setbacks. I feel like I should be farther along in my training and logging more miles a week than what I am (currently logging 20 -25 miles/week), and I also feel like I should be posting faster training run times (averaging 7:45 – 7:50/mile over the last several long runs). Technically I haven’t “officially” started my marathon training that LL is putting together for me, so I may just be antsy or overly paranoid at this point. Nonetheless I officially have a set date for a qualifier. In the coming months as the race gets closer, I’ll start lobbying for everyone to make the pilgrimage to Duluth to come hang out and support me as I try to achieve my goal.

I was planning on adding a countdown timer for Grandma’s, but have yet to get the stupid thing to work on this blog site. Once I figure it out, it’ll be at the top under my intro.

The Routes:
My last few long runs have been primarily the same route through Ankeny. Leaving from my house, making my way around the NW side of town to the main bike trail (formerly a railroad track) that bisects Ankeny diagonally. Then I take that path to “Old Downtown” Ankeny, then east to East Elementary School and back. If I have one complaint about Ankeny it’s that it isn’t very big, so in order to log any kind of serious mileage, I have to double loop my routes just to get in 15 & 20 mile runs. I remember getting burnt out on running the same route over and over last summer and fall. I get easily bored with running the same route week-in and week-out; especially when I’m on them for 3 hours at a time.

Training Update:
After having a couple weeks of focused core and back workouts, this last one was all legs. The good news is I can tell that the muscle weaknesses in my inner thighs and glutes are strengthening (TMI?), but I’m definitely still feeling the burn from a full hour of quad and calf focused exercises. I have no idea how LL comes up with some of the exercises she has me do, but man, they certainly kick my ass each week. In a good way, of course. Last week’s work out included exercises called, “speed squats”, “single leg step-ups”, “standing lunge step-through” and “crouching Cohen curls”. All of them are leg exercises designed to strengthen my quads, hammies, calves and my money-maker. J All of which have to be in top condition to handle the long, steep hills in Boston. I’m secretly hoping for a lighter workout today when I meet with LL, but we’ll see. I’ll let everyone know how today goes in next week’s entry.

Non-Running Thoughts of the Week:
Here are some of my non-running thoughts since my last blog posting:
- Spencer now has an open gap where his two front teeth previously were a couple weeks ago. He’s proudly sporting and empty grill since he lost both front teeth in the last 2 weeks. Mom and Dad are not proud of his ability to squeeze food out of the opening like a Playdough Fun Factory.

- Ty has now become the chattiest 4 year old on the face of the planet. I can remember just a few short months ago when he would say all of five words a day. Now he’s chattering from the time he gets up in the morning until the time he puts his jams on at night.

- I’m having a lot of fun in the poker league I joined. It helps that I’m currently in first place in the overall points standing, but I still have a long way to go to win the league (5 weeks left). Plus I have everyone gunning for me. But, I like that it forces me to keep my poker skills sharp and is helping me become a more-rounded poker player.

- I’m sick of shoveling snow.

- My wife is a damn good cook. Next time you see her, you should ask her to make you salmon or turkey chili.

- I think Shannon is going to have a blast on her ‘MILF trip’ this spring. I hope she remembers her phone has a camera.

- My contract at my client was extended through June 30th, 2010. What a relief to have that locked down.

- Last week’s long run was the most fun I’ve had on a run since Thanksgiving.

Running Rant of the Week:
This week’s running rant isn’t about a person or place. It’s about a thing: the treadmill. Let me ask you this, Mr. Treadmill: why do you suck so much? I mean, no offense, but I loathe running on you. You’re big. You’re bulky. And quite frankly, no one really likes you. It’s very rare that you’ll hear someone say, “I really love running on a treadmill. I’d rather do that than run outside.” In most cases, if someone is on you, it’s because they have to be, not because they want to be. You are to running what a slump-buster is to baseball.

I bring up the treadmill because thanks to Mother Nature being a pain-in-the-ass last week, I was stuck inside on tready for my Tuesday short run. I’ve often said that I have a 4 mile max on a treadmill for no other reason other than I simply hate running on a treadmill. It doesn’t matter what kind of shape I’m in, I still can only manage 4 painfully-long miles on tready. By the time I hit 4 miles on the ‘Machine of Despair’, I’m so mentally defeated that I can’t stand to run another 10 feet. There are just so many things about the treadmill that I do not enjoy capped off by that stupid mileage gage. Or as I like to call it, “The Gage of Evil”. For me, that is the worst part of tready; the mental mind job I get from that gage. I’ll be on a tready, running along, thinking it’s been like 20 or 25 minutes and I feel like I’ve covered 3 miles, but to my unpleasant surprise when I look down to check the mileage, it’s only been .4 tenths of a mile. Aarrgggghhh! I’m the type of runner that has to have stuff moving by me when I run; gives me the sense of accomplishment and the feeling of making progress. But on tready, I’m stuck staring at a TV screen that I can’t focus on because of the bounce in my stride. Or I’m stuck enjoying the obnoxious sounds of the heavy-footed person next to me pounding the shit out of the treadmill while clambering around, arms flailing like they’ve never run upright before. Though it’s quite comical to see, it’s annoying having all that ruckus next to me with no way to run away from it.

So, to you Mr. Treadmill, this week’s running rant is dedicated to you. With any luck, I won’t be on you for the rest of the year. It’ll be like we’re married and my birthday has already come and gone.