Monday, February 28, 2005

Skinny Steven

My ITB has had it. Advil, heat, and ice aren't enough to conquer the gremlins that are screwing with my ITB. This past Saturday, I went out for a relaxing twenty miler. I had a light breakfast, had my running pack full of goodies, my watch was ready to go, Advil had been taken, and I had figured out how to get to the east side. (I bribed an east side 'friend' during the week for the password. I had no idea they were so easy.) In short, I was raring to go.

It was not to be. About four miles into my run, as I was descending a hill, the pain in my ITB broke past the Advil barrier that I had set up and caused my leg to falter under the pain. I didn't fall down. Thankfully. I stood there for about five minutes, hoping the pain would subside, so I could continue. It didn't. It was then that I made the gut-wrenching decision to call Liz. She was there in ten minutes. I'm still not over it. I only ran 31 miles last week. That's a two month low.

It's going to be even worse this week. A big fat goose egg. Yes, I'm taking a week off. I guess I'll cycle and/or swim to maintain my fitness. What I guess I'm saying is that my sub-three hour attempt at Boston is off. That will need to wait until I achieve a similar fitness that I had last spring. Hopefully, my ITB heals itself before I'm 35 or a sub-three hour 'thon just won't be happening.

I can't decide which exercise I'll be doing. I hate both of them. Pedalling those ridiculous stationary bikes gives me headaches just thinking about it and swimming in a gym pool makes my skin start to itch.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Faulty Genetics

One side of my family has given me the desire and the ability to run genes. The other side of the family has given me short hamstrings, inflexibility, and the little piece of bone that likes to rub on my ITB (iliotibial band - runs down the outside of the leg from the hip to the ankle) genes. I won't tell you which family gave me which genes because I'm not playing the blame game here. I'm just pissed off.

I can run. I can run far. I can run far fast. I love running far fast. It's a rush that isn't just physical. It's emotional and spiritual as well. I love this sport and how it completely shreds my body and builds it back up stronger than ever.

I don't love the bad genes that I've inherited from my goose-stepping German forefathers. If you haven't figured it out by now, my right hamstring and my right ITB are absolutely killing me. This is putting a damper on my sub-3 hour Boston Marathon attempt this April.

The thing is I hurt when I'm not running and I hurt for about the first two miles, but after that, I feel pretty good. Last night, I did a cut-back speed workout where I warmed up, then ran three one-mile repeats at 6:15 pace. It felt good. I didn't feel so good this morning. As a matter of fact, I could barely limp to the train station and almost missed my 5:14am train. The slip on the ice didn't help matters.

This morning, I ran a slow ten with my friend Ray. I was limping for the first couple of miles, but after that, again, I felt good.

What this is all telling me is that the distance isn't the issue. My speed is the issue. I need to get in some more speed work and tempo runs without snapping a muscle. I'm going to try a ten mile tempo run tomorrow. If I haven't posted by Saturday, you'll know it didn't go well.

One more thing. I'm going to see my sports doctor tomorrow. In order, these are the things on my shopping list:

- refill of my Bextra prescription (Yes, I know Bextra is a COX-2 inhibitor and that Vioxx was pulled off the shelf because of a link between COX-2 inhibitors and heart failure. Do I care? Frankly, no. Just kill the pain and stop the inflammation.)
- use his medieval stainless steel instruments of pain on my hamstring and ITB
- electro-stim, yes please
- a cortisone shot in my ITB
- a cortisone shot in my hamstring

Can't wait! I love going to the good doctor.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Garmin 301

This is the Garmin 301 Forerunner, a GPS watch and heart rate monitor. Sorry for the blurry view of the heart rate monitor. I'm not enough of a photographer to have two things in focus at the same time. I should have had Liz do the honors. Some of 301's features include total distance, pace, customizing laps by distance, elevation, etc. It's a very cool toy for the hardcore runner or cyclist.

This past Saturday, I used the 301 on my long run. It's a good thing I had it, as Liz wasn't able to drive me up past Armonk. I had to just leave the house and run willy nilly. I decided to head towards the east side (Mamaroneck, Rye, Harrison). I didn't really know where I was going as I'm unfamiliar with the east side. Let's just say that I'm the one who lives on the other side of the tracks and the east side is where people like to take pity on us west siders. I think they gave me a free turkey last year for Thanksgiving. God bless the east siders.

Well, I didn't really end up on the east side. I ended up in New Rochelle and when I tried to head east, I actually ended up going northwest to Scarsdale. The east side must have one of those leprechaun gates where you can only head east if you have a magic feather.

Scarsdale isn't bad, but I was only at the eight mile point. I had fourteen miles left. I didn't have a lot of choices, so I had to head to where I belong. That's right, White Plains. I ran all around White Plains, up many a hill until I hit the sixteen mile mark and I could return home with a twenty-two miler under my belt.

Here's just a glimpse of the output of the 301. Elevation, distance, and pace. You can click on any spot of the chart and it gives you precise information on each of these three measurements. It's sweet!

The green line is the elevation and the blue line is my pace. As you can tell, I went up and down a lot of hills. I'd see a hill and I'd charge up it. I call it my long strengthening run. All those hills contributed to a much slower than normal pace (8:31 avg), but that's ok, I feel much stronger today.

It also gives you a map of where you've been. I can see where I began heading in the wrong direction, but I swear I turned right at Wilmot. Stupid east side leprechauns.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Subway Singer

I've just been lucking out recently. My favorite subway preacher last week and my favorite subway singer this week. When I say that this person is my favorite subway singer, that's saying something. There's some serious vocal talent riding the subways. This woman walks through the cars, using her cane to keep the beat, and sings gospel and R & B tunes.

I would have given her a quarter, but my hamstring hurt and the multi-tasking of reaching for change and taking a picture at the same time was too painful. I had a tough choice to make and I went for the picture.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Big Harry

The beauty you see to the right isn't Big Harry. I'll introduce him later. Yesterday, I ended up going to Delaware for the day. For work. I know. You all thought that I didn't work. Mike just runs, goes to school, and picks up a paycheck. The paycheck comes from a magical place that Mike discovered, but refuses to share.

Sorry to destroy the dream. I actually work for a living. This is proof. I had to go and check out a bunch of these things. Egeneras are my favorite piece of engineering of all time. Shiny blue lights. I'm not sure why Sun, Fujitsu, and IBM haven't gotten their acts together. I don't care about compute capacity, MTBF, or price points. Just give me the shiny blue lights. Egenera has my business.

Now on to the title of this post. My hamstring has really been bothering me. Due to my all day trip to lovely Delaware (chemical plants and call centers, gotta love 'em), I was unable to run. Probably a good thing as my right hamstring was twice as big as my left one. Liz named my right hamstring Big Harry due to its enormous girth. The thing is swollen. Not sure where the Harry part came from. Maybe she just thinks it is a funny name.

I asked Liz to help Big Harry out by taking a baseball and jamming it into my swollen hamstring and then rolling it up and down. Never has pain felt so sweet.

Stay tuned for the Garmin 301 review.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Reservoir Dawn

Reservoir Dawn II
Originally uploaded by PassTheChips.
This is why I run. I see things that few others do. The first time I ran the Central Park loop and I ran by the reservoir, I was awestruck.

Yesterday, at 5am, I woke up and couldn't fall back to sleep. As I was planning to go and photograph The Gates later in the morning anyway, I decided to just wake up then and go photograph the dawn as well.

It was well worth it.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Holy Running Utility Belt

Utility belt
Originally uploaded by PassTheChips.
This is my utility belt. I use it on training runs over 20 miles, which is to say that I only use it about 14 times a year. This puppy holds two 22 oz water bottles, has a big pocket in the back in which I carry my phone, has two zippers above the water bottle holders that can carry two Clif-Shots (running candy with caffeine) in each of them, has a pocket in front that holds my ID, credit card, $20 bill, and my house key, AND as I discovered yesterday, has two loops in the front that you can hang things from, such as gloves. It wouldn't surprise me to discover at some point that this thing has a rocket booster button. It's that impressive.

Yesterday's 20 miler was my first 20 miler in almost a year. Last summer's ITB injury kept me from training for a fall marathon. As I hate loops and out and backs, Liz agreed to drive me to a point 20 miles away from our house and drop me off. It's a lonely feeling when you see that car pull away and realize that you have 20 miles to go before you're home.

I started off slow, running at about an 8:45 pace. After about three miles, I was feeling pretty good, so I picked it up and ran 7:30s to the ten mile mark, which I completed in 1:18. I'll have to post a photo slide show sometime because the scenery is breathtaking. Upper Westchester makes me feel like I'm heading to the Weber's cabin for some snowboarding. At ten miles though, the scenery ends as I enter White Plains.

Now White Plains is a nice place. My son was born there. I've had great sashimi in White Plains. My favorite running store, Westchester Road Runner, is in White Plains. But, it's no Armonk, Scarsdale, or Bronxville. Plus, the lights. I hate stopping.

As I left White Plains, at the 14 mile mark, I was still feeling strong and was confident that my second 10 miles would come in around 1:10. The running gods chose otherwise.

At mile 16, my legs locked up. They were done. I could hear them crying, "Stop. Please stop." My right hamstring in particular felt that it was going to snap and roll up like a window shade at any moment. I took this as a sign to slow down. My last four miles were torturous. 9 minute miles, maybe slower. It's all still hazy. I still ran a negative split, but barely at 1:17.

Can't wait to do this again next week.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Piano Boy

piano boy
Originally uploaded by PassTheChips.
My son likes to scream. Not cry. Scream. He once noticed that whenever he made a noise in his parents' room, that the baby monitor in his room would pick up the sound and the monitor in our room would light up. He likes it when things light up. A lot. Now he thinks that whenever he screams, things should light up. So he spends his mornings screaming.

I am only home in the mornings a few days a week and think it is cute, especially when he screams and plays his piano at the same time. (I think he's going to be the next Buddy Holly.) His mother thought it was cute, but now turns on the very loud dishwasher to drown out his screams. Ominous, I know.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Ghost Train

ghost train
Originally uploaded by PassTheChips.
Usually I write about my adventures on the number 4 train. However, just to show you I'm not a line bigot, I had to take a picture of the W train, which I also ride. I haven't ridden on it in a few months and it was nice to see an old friend, even if that old friend is still using cars from the 70s, unlike the 4 train and its sparkling new cars.

The thing about the W train is that it is always empty. Last night, I was one of about five people on the entire train. I had an entire car to myself and this was during rush hour. It's like everyone knows something that I do not.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

To Protect the Unclean

My clean hands
Originally uploaded by PassTheChips.
I won't be using any names. However, to protect me, I've taken a picture of my hands to show that the experience I'm about to share, was not in fact about me.

I went running at 6am today with some friends. Our typical 6am Wednesday and Friday loop around Central Park. It was gorgeous. 43 degrees and the park was full of people enjoying it. Walkers, runners, and cyclists (by the way, I hate cyclists) were all out in full force.

One of the guys told us he had a pizza smothered in tabasco sauce right before he went to bed. I knew he was in trouble. You just don't eat that much cheese and hot sauce for dinner the night before an early run. I learned that lesson the hard way at last year's Queen's Half-Marathon.

We're running and he's farting like mad, so we all make sure we're staying in front of the guy. No need for more than one of us to suffer. At the 3/4 point, we pass the Boathouse and he sees that the restrooms are open. He bolts and we decide to wait. About ten minutes later, he comes out with a horrified look on his face and tells us that that was the most disgusting thing he's ever done. I'm thinking that the restroom must have been really dirty. That wasn't the case at all.

The restroom was out of toilet paper and he didn't find out until after he'd done his business. You may shiver now.

He had three choices: just pull his shorts up, use his clothing, or use his hand. He chose his hand. He proceeds to flush the toilet about ten times, then dips his hand in the toilet water and uses the water to clean himself. Rinse and repeat. I feel dirty just writing this.

All I gotta say is I'm never shaking his hand again. Ever.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Subway Preacher

4 train preacher
Originally uploaded by PassTheChips.
I see this guy every other week or so. He takes the 4 train, reads from the Bible and includes his own personal commentary. Then at Wall St, he says, "Well, I need to go to work now, just like the rest of you. God bless."

He's one of those fire and brimstone kind of preachers. Done in a kind of sing-song voice, where his last word always trails off into the ether. Today's preaching included no idol worshipping, no fornication, and no masturbation. My favorite comment was, "...and if you're masturbating, you better stop!"

Most people ignore him. Some laugh at him. Once in a great while, he'll get an "Amen, brother". I've always wanted to get an "Amen, brother." Maybe I'll turn from my wicked running blog ways to the goodness found in the preaching blog. My first sermon is thus: "My message today kids, is if you're masturbating, you better stop!"

Monday, February 07, 2005

Rotting and Burning

I really shouldn't be posting that my right leg feels like it's rotting from the inside or that my upper chest feels like it's on fire, but oh well, I'll fight that battle with Liz once she reads this. She's not very fond of me running when I'm sick and can barely walk. We've had some of our best brawls when I've insisted on running in minus 10 degree weather when I have a fever. If you haven't figured it out yet, don't let me beat you over the head with it, just look at the picture of me to the left, with my tough as nails beanie with a tassle, and you'll figure it out.

So I ran this morning, on my rotting leg, with my burning lungs. Man, it was great!! With school on the weekends, which is over, thank the Maker, I was only able to run five days a week. Last week, due to that freaky sleet storm, I only ran 35 miles. Now, that my Ops and Global Perspectives classes are complete, I have my weekends again. Let me tell you that I am looking forward to my 20 miler through Armonk, Valhalla, White Plains (ok, maybe I am not looking forward to running through White Plains), Scarsdale, and finally home to you know where.

Back to this morning's run. A brisk 6 miler on the treadmill, averaging about a 7:30 mile on a 1% incline. Today, I was able to stand it. It being running on the treadmill. Usually, I want to shoot myself when I'm on that thing, but the Super Bowl highlights were on and it was bearable. Good thing it wasn't Judge Judy or The Simpsons. Falling off the treadmill is never a fun experience. Thankfully, Liz has only seen that happen to me once.


Originally uploaded by PassTheChips.

Just a tease.

Credit to Liz for this great photo.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Instant 4 Train Classic

subway guy
Originally uploaded by PassTheChips.
Balding white guy with dreads tied in a bow. Thank you camera phone.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Ready to run

My Pearl Izumi beanie. Too bad you can't see the nordic tassle. I told you. I'm hardcore.

Ready to run
Originally uploaded by PassTheChips.

Slurpee Running

I'm training for the Boston Marathon. Yes, I qualified. I ran a 3:08:41 last May at The Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati. Today's training called for an 18 mile run. I've been doing my long runs on Fridays, as I've had school on Saturdays and Sundays for the past six weeks. This morning, I woke up at 4:30am and took the 5:14 train in to meet my buddy Ray. had listed a 30% chance of snow/sleet this morning. I'm a gambler, I liked those odds. The past four weeks of running in sub-zero weather had me thinking that the weather gods were going to be on my side for once. It was not to be. I stepped outside the station at 48th and Park and it was sleeting. It wasn't that cold, but I was not very excited to run in sleet.

When I saw Ray at the gym where we change into our running gear, we both looked at each other and said, "What the hell are we doing?" Did we reconsider? Nope. We're hardcore and we wanted the respect of the security guards who guard 277 Park as we walked out and when we came in drenched from snow. That's the best part of the run. Walking back into the building and having the 400 lb security guards giving us an attaboy. It makes it all worth it.

So we take off for Central Park, where Ray will be running 8.5 miles (6.1 mile loop, plus the 1.2 miles there and back) and I'll be doing 18 miles(two 6.1 mile loops and two 1.7 mile loops, plus the 1.2 there and back). I brought my trusty fanny pack, with the 24 ounce water bottle (which happened to freeze when I used it two weeks ago), and three Clif-Shots, from here on out known as candy with caffeine, mmmmm.

We get to the park and the roads are closed off. Good for us, no cars to contend with. We make our way to the main road within the park and bam, we're sliding all over the place. It's still sleeting by the way. There are at least two inches of sleet on top of the road. Do we stop. No way. We're hardcore. We're collectively wearing at least $1000 worth of running gear. We keep going, slipping, sliding, all over the place. To make my very long and very boring story shorter, let me just say that I ran at least 9.5 miles. Step, slip, step, slip, step, slip. Oh, you noticed that my 18 mile run turned into technically 8.5 miles? I couldn't take the damn slipping anymore. I'm a wuss. Only 41 miles this week. So much for my sub-3 hour Boston attempt.