Wednesday, February 21, 2007

As you can tell, I have not titled this post. I have not been able to come up with anything appropriate to name it, so to honor my lack of enthusiasm, I will not name the post!

I have been running a little bit, here and there, after the Mercedes. This is not a post race funk. Rather it is a work funk. Some of us have been working some long hours for the last couple of months. I was in Vidalia, GA last week and worked some long hours under some not so nice conditions. Heading back down to Vidalia on Thursday morning. Things just sort of start grinding on you, you know what I mean? An earlier post I had mentioned that I am Dilbert. Let's take it a step further . . . . remember seeing the commercials where the man is working with a bunch of chimpanzees? Yep-that's my office. I love my work. I love what I do. If we could just keep management and executives from making decisions, we'd all be better off. Example: exec #1 says "Hey, we can outsource some of the major capital work and reduce staff". Exec #2 says "BRILLIANT". Jim and remaining co-workers not only try to do what is left of their work and the work that fellow fallen staff has left behind. We are also directed to help the company that we have outsourced to. Would some of you accounting types or executives out there please explain to me how this works!!!! Anyway. I still have tons of MY work to do between now and mid-April. Additionally, I am getting phone calls on an almost dailey basis from the company that took over our big jobs asking for help. If I had made this kind of decision, I'd have to fire myself.

I will keep on plodding. Figuratively and literally.

I am hoping to start back to concentrating on running. Susan wants to try to make an effort at the Nashville Music City Half. I guess we're going to buckle down and start training for it.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Mercedes is over

Good morning to all. Yep, our local race, Mercedes Marathon, is in the books. This race gets better each year and you really need to try to make it over here the first week in Feb. The expo is decent, the bands are good, the party atmosphere is superb, the give aways and freebies are like that of a big time race. The half and full race courses are pretty nice and scenic, except for the couple of miles that run through parts of downtown. It is a hilly course and it will challenge you. There will not be many PRs to be had here but it is fun. Go check it out . . .

If you've been following the story, Susan and I had been planning on running the half over the last couple of months and training was going okay. However, about two weeks ago, we both came down with a headcold that just seemed to hang on. Bottom line is that I didn't do any runs over 10 the last several weeks and Susan did less than that. In fact, my guess is that she didn't run more than 10 miles the last two weeks. Needless to say, I was apprehensive that she could pull it off. She admitted that she was a little nervous about it and that she would walk if she needed to do so. I had planned from early on that I would run with her and be her support team. Knowing that she was going to be running a slower pace than my racing pace, I felt confident that I could help her get through her second half-marathon.

It started off a cold day. It was clear and very slight breeze. The temp was 27 at the start but it was supposed to warm up during day. Unfortunately, with the race starting at 7:00, there wouldn't be much warming up in the morning hours. It is always funny to see how people are overdressed, even at 27 degrees. I always try to remember the rule . . . you should not be comfortable when you start. I wore shorts, a lightweight cool max long sleeve shirt, my wind vest, gloves and ear band. Susan wore (not so tight) tights, a lightweight cool max long sleeve and a running jacket, gloves and ear band. Of course we stood around in our home made garbage bag ponchos waiting for the start but stripped those off a minute before the race started.

Mercedes starts and ends in Linn Park, a nice park downtown, near one of the civic auditoriums. The first couple of miles is in the downtown business district which is constantly undergoing changes. Miles 3 thru 5 run through the southern part of the downtown. This part takes you through the UAB campus and amongst student housing. Not a wild party campus so you really don't know that you're running through it. The first challenge is mile 5-6. This is a nice mile long climb up a road called Greensprings Highway. Great view of the city from the top. This is the first crossing of Red Mountain. You see lots of people walking this stretch. I told Susan that our goal was to run it, even at a slower pace. We didn't want to give up more than a minute to our average pace. Miles 6 thru 8 beat you up pretty good. They go due east an Valley road. The road runs parallel to the mountain along the side of the mountain. There are continuous rolling hills and mounds and you never get to run any flat land through here. Nice scenary but you really have to focus to keep your pace. Mile 8-9 flattens out and lets your legs get a break before heading back over the mountain into downtown. Mile 9-10 is a nice steep climb back over the mountain. Again, you see lots of walkers and lots of Gu and E-Gel packs along the road. Mile 10-11 is tough for me, though most people love this stretch. It is a very scenic, fast downhill run back into downtown. I hate it because I am not a good downhill runner. I'd rather run up than down. Beats my legs up too bad. Once you hit mile 11, it is pretty much flat except for a few bumps in the downtown area. 11-12 is running west for a mile through a commercial district. The local hashers have rest stop here and if you want a donut and beer for a rest stop, this is the place to be. At mile 12, you turn north into the business district and run almost straight back into the park.

Here's our splits. Remember, this was slow since we had lost training over the last few weeks. However, our goal was to finish with a steady pace and have fun.

Mile 1- 10:01 (I think this was a short mile)
Mile 2- 13:12 (I think this was the part of mile 1 that was missing)
Mile 3- 11:55
Mile 4- 12:33 (Susan was taking off her jacket and repinning her number)
Mile 5- 12:16
Mile 6- 12:50 (the long uphill climb . . . felt good about not giving away too much)
Mile 7- 12:02
Mile 8- 11:59
Mile 9- 11:35 (the nice little flat stretch)
Mile 10- 12:15 (pretty nice pace since it is a mile climb)
Mile 11- 10:57 (down hill and I'm talking to Susan telling her now is the time to start tweaking it up)
Mile 12- 10:52 (She's hurting but really wanting to finish strong. Very proud of her and her effort)
Mile 13- 10:18 (It is here that I discover that Susan has been holding back on me. The girl started running like someone said "free ice cream")
Finished the last 0.1 miles in under a minute.

Here's a few photos we took along the way-

Susan just getting out of the car at 6:00. I think she was still asleep. We have an hour kill. Not long when you're standing in line at a port o let.

Susan wasting time monkeying around with here race number. I had given her a belt to put her number on but she wanted to pin it to her jacket. This is what happens when you take your jacket off!

The race number is fixed and jacket it tied around the waist. She is smiling now but she hasn't run up Greensprings yet!!!

Yes, I took all the photos on the run.

Running past the walkers coming up the mountain is a confidence builder. We are near the top and she is still smiling. It is hard to tell from the photo but this is the long uphill climb. She just had to tell someone that she made it up the hill. Yes-she is on my cell phone!

If you ever see this in a race, you must be moving slow. This is what I look like as I crush the competition!

The west end of an east bound Susan

Susan grabbed the camera from me decided to take a picture of me after a water break. I love my bright colors!

This is the downhill section between mile 10 and 11. Way too easy!

This is about mile 11 1/2. That is Susan watching the marathon winner blowing by us.

Hey! We finished and survived. 13.1 mile. 2:33 and change. It is time to go to the party for BBQ and beverages! See you next year!

Thursday, February 08, 2007


CHAOS. I detest it. I am a notorious ISTJ type personality. Look it up if you don't know what it means. Sometimes I have trends that run contrary to the classis ISTJ but everytime I take the test, it is the same . . . ISTJ. My hero is Inspector Javert (Les Miserables). Look that up if you don't know the reference. Bottom line is I like order. I LOVE ORDER. My life has been anything but over the last several weeks and I am beside myself trying to reach balance. Almost all my chaos stems from work . . . . we go through a crunch time, not unlike accountants at tax time, each spring as our deadlines (executives prefer to call them milestones) close in on us. In typical Dilbert "mis"management world there are two things with a milestone . . . One, I make it. That means somebody who has no clue what I do will make a big bonus off of my efforts which will result in my getting more work assigned since I did such a "good" job. Two, I miss it. Our latest batch of self centered ladder climbers . . . errr, I mean executives, have threatened all employees who miss milestones with some type of punishment up to and including termination. Have I told you how much I love my job? I don't mind the occassional push to get a job out the door but when it becomes routine to work 10-12 hour days and one day a weekend, it becomes a little too stressful. Okay . . . venting complete.

I ran 4 miles on Monday . . . . still feeling sluggish from the cold.

I ran 5 miles tonight and felt much better, especially after the first mile and coughing up something that did not belong in my lungs! If a cold makes me feel this way, I cannot imagine how smokers have got to feel.

It is just a few days away from Mercedes Marathon and I know I can run 13 . . . No problem. I am concerned for Susan (whom I am running with). She's been skipping runs the last week and a half because of a cold. It was going to be work for her had we kept up her training but now I think it will be a nice slow training run. But that is okay. I'm looking forward to it.

wish all a nice weekend and watch out for the sleet!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Aqualung, Superbowl, and Brussel Sprouts (long post)

"Snot is running down his nose. Greasy fingers smearing shabby clothes." For those of you over the age of 40, you know where those words come from. Yep . . . that was me running yesterday. I have not quite been able to shake this stupid head cold. I know that the experts say it is okay to run when you don't have a fever but they seem to overlook the fact that I have 5 pounds of the slimey stuff in my head. Yuck. To top it off, I have never been very good at firing of "rockets" . . . some of you chuckle because you know what I'm talking about. I'm more of a snort and spit or just use the shirt kind of guy. I know-very disgusting subject. I have not been able to run the way I have wanted to the last few days. I only did 3 miles Friday night . . . just too fatigued from work and the cold. I didn't have the "spririt". Yesterday, Susan and I had planned on running 10 or 12 miles in preparation of next week's half-marathon. We went to church, trying to encourage each other about the run we were going to be doing afterwards. We were about as excited as a I get over eating brussel sprouts (more on that later). The bottom line is that Susan hasn't been feeling well either. Same symptons. She felt it would be better to totally skip the run. Okay-now I'm on my own and my encouragement level just hit the dumps. I decided to suck it up. I went home, changed into running clothes, stretched, blew the nose several times and headed out the door with every intention of doing a ten miler. The temperature was in the 50s and the sun was shining-a perfect day for a run. Somebody forgot to tell my cold that . . . my head was pounding (sinuses?), my nose was flowing, the mind was wandering and weak. I got in 4 miles and just quit. Yes, I JUST QUIT. I couldn't breathe, my feet were just slapping the pavement and I did not feel like a runner. I felt like a giant germ wandering aimlessly down the road. I did take Kelsey (my Cairn Terrier) for a little jog afterwards, which she enjoyed thouroughly. I showered up and headed back to Susan's for the Super Bowl.

Ah yes, Super Bowl. That great American tradition where most of America sits on the sofa, eats cheese dip, drinks beer and watches a bunch of overpaid men play football. Don't get me wrong. I believe in market economics and if the market supports the salaries, so be it. Actually, football isn't near as bad as baseball players . . . Can you imagine getting paid thousands of dollars for every time you stepped up to the plate. This is a GAME! At least tennis and golf are performance based . . . . you do good, you earn money. You do bad, you end up working selling shoes.

Sorry . . . that is a whole other rant. Back to the Super Bowl at Susan's. We invited a friend over-his name is Tom and he checks out my blog on occasion-Hi Tom. I got over there around 3:30 . . . just in time to start making my CHEESE DIP! Not just ordinary cheese dip. This is EXTRA FATTENING! As with any good fattening dip you start with Velveeta (have you ever read the box? It says "cheese product"). To the 1 1/2 lbs of cheese product add 1 large can of black beans, 2 cans of Rotel (hot is better), a small can of diced chillis, and a pound of ground beef that has been prepped with taco seasoning. Throw it all in a crockpot, drink a beverage of your choice and come back an hour later. Presto! Heart attack in a crock pot! Yummy. Tom got there around 5 ish so we could share our cheese product with him.

The dip was not enough, so Susan made loaf of meat (meat loaf). Before you ridicule me, think about it . . . do you say bread loaf? I think not. She used a recipe from Southern Living that was really good. She also made mashed potatoes. That would have been a fine meal for halftime. HOWEVER, she felt that we needed a vegetable. C'mon . . . this is the SuperBowl. Meat, Potatoes, Cheese product dip, beverage of your choice. Who needs stinking vegetables? If you have made it this far (I know this is a long post) you have probably guessed her vegetable of choice-BRUSSEL SPROUTS. Have I ever told you how much I dislike them. I love veggies and fruit and I usually have a pretty good love affair with most. There is just something about those ugly little green things that just don't seem right. It's not the taste. It is a typical green vegetable. It's not the texture . . . I eat all kinds of food. Maybe I'm adverse to eating something the size of a testicle or eyeball. Whatever it is, I DO NOT LIKE THEM. Tom doesn't like 'em. MA doesn't like 'em. E doesn't like 'em. Why on earth Susan made them I don't know. Of course, me being me, I felt it my duty. No, my obligation to eat some of the nasty little buggers. The look on Tom's face when I dipped up four of the lovelies was something to behold-the blank stare was priceless. Tom, being a nice guy and not wanting to hurt Susan's feelings, got one. Of course, after Tom and I got our brussel sprouts, the pressure was on MA. She wouldn't succumb easily. After seeing Tom and I making faces while chewing on them, she thought it was funny and she wanted to make faces. We told her the best way to make an ugly face was to eat a brussel sprout. Believe it or not, she did! Good for MA! E wasn't having any part of it. She didn't even want the loaf of meat. 6 year olds seem to be exempt from the social rules that structure our lives and make us a civil society. If we could all just cross our arms and shake our heads when something we don't like passes our way!

Bottom line is that we ate well and enjoyed the ball game. I really didn't have a dog in the hunt (good old southern talk) and it was a fun game to watch, though the commercials were a bit of a disappointment.

I am planning on putting in some miles this week before the half. I am feeling better (again) and hope to not have any additional setbacks. Sunday should be interesting. We'll see how Susan does in her half. First one she's run in several years. If it is not raining, I am planning on taking a camera on the run with us.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Feeling better

Yep . . . it must have just been a head cold. It is starting to subside and I predict full recovery by the end of the week (unless I do something really stupid which I am sometimes prone to do).

I did a good hard 4 miler Wednesday afternoon. Susan invited me over for dinner so I took my running clothes over after work. Susan didn't run but her oldest daughter, MA, rode her bike with my while I ran. It is hard to explain to a 10 year old that we're going to a "medium effort". It worked out good though. I ran much harder than expected . . . I didn't have a watch but based on effort and the amount of heavy breathing and sweat in 40 degree weather, I'd guess we were turning in the low 8 minute range.

I am going to run this afternoon after work and I think MA is wanting to ride her bike again. I have to work Saturday so I am moving my long run to Sunday afternoon. Susan and I are planning on a hilly 10 or 12 miler Sunday after church. This should help us rid ourselves of any guilt over eating cheese dip during the SuperBowl!

Have a great weekend.