I am the ghost blogger

I guess my posts are getting sporadic again.  Sigh.

Let’s see, I ran a race and got 2nd in my age group.

I was pretty pleased with this.  Not so much about placing (because it was a VERY small race) but because my time was 21:34, just shy of my 5K PR (21:16).  Sadly, in this one I was not able to run faster than all the children.  Two 6th graders still beat me.  Grrrr.

In other news, I went camping in the High Peaks region of the Adirondacks.  Camped at Marcy Dam and hiked to Avalanche Lake, which is a very cool place if you ever get a chance to go.

In sad news, an old friend from high school died from cancer this past weekend.  I last spoke to her earlier in the summer when I went to see the SCA folks play with swords and armor.  She had brought me there and introduced me to people, but she was linked to me on LinkedIn and Farcebook.  I knew she had been ill and had recently had a setback, but I didn’t realize she was that ill.  I think nobody else realized either.  We said our final goodbyes to her tonight and I will miss her.  I just can’t believe she is gone forever.

back again

Sunday I ran in the Celebrate Life Half Marathon in Rock Hill, NY.  As with previous times, this was a fabulous race.  Very hilly compared to others I have been in, but each year the hills seem smaller.  Except for the giant hill at the start.  Heading up that one I took my time and saved something for the end.  My time was halfway in between my best and worst, so I was pretty happy with it.  My former running partner was volunteering and it was a nice relief to see her smiling face at the halfway point.

As my reward for a good race, my back blew out on Wednesday morning.  Yea.  I’ve been in the house ever since.  Today is the first day I can actually stand up straight.  I can sit for very long and can’t stand for very long.  And quite frankly, I’m really sick of lying down.  I’ve managed to stretch out almost flat on the reclining sofa, so that I can type and lie down at the same time.

Last week I stopped at a used bookstore that I had seen many times but was never there when they were open (Fri, Sat. Sun).  So I went for a short visit during lunch.  The place looks like it was an old barn or small house.  The insides are are stuffed from floor to ceiling with old books, loosely organized by topic.  Children’s.  History.  Fiction.  Etc.  The foyer is packed full of unsorted books.  Just the smell of the place is welcoming, if you like the smell of old books.  The place was heated by a pot belly stove in the middle of the main room.  The basement was filled with paperbacks and the upstairs seemed to house mostly non-fiction with topics like Geography and Government.  I would estimate there were at least 20,000 books in that building.  If I spent all day there, I could not read every title.

I pulled a few books to take home:

Run Fast – Hal Higdon – I always wanted that one but never got around to buying it.

The Complete Book of Running – Jim Fixx – Another one to have in the running library.

Twelfth Night – W. Shakespeare – This was a small hardcover version published by Yale University Press in 1954.

DreamThorp – Alexander Smith – This was published in 1864.  I like the hard leather cover and the gold inlaid design in the front.

All that fun for only $14.  Seemed like a good deal.  There were a lot of other books I wanted, but some were too expensive.  An old torn up bible from 1800 but it was $100.  Too rich for my blood.

My writing has ground to an abrupt halt.  I’ve painted myself into a corner.  I’ve been trying to just get words down on paper (figuratively), but the plot has changed so much that the beginning doesn’t match, and motivations of the characters seems very odd now.  In fact, the entire premise seems horrendously illogical.  I was being guided by what I felt each character would do next.  But when I go back to the beginning, their early behavior doesn’t fit.  I guess that means that I didn’t know my characters well enough at the beginning.

Margaret Atwood gives this advice:

“Don’t sit down in the middle of the woods. If you’re lost in the plot or blocked, retrace your steps to where you went wrong. Then take the other road. And/or change the person. Change the tense. Change the opening page.”

Good advice.  Its so very hard.  I hate to go back and cut out things I liked.  I had heard it was Faulkner who said to “kill your darlings”.  He is referring to cutting things from your writing that you find so appealing that you can’t be objective.  Maybe its a scene or some dialogue that you can’t give up because you like it so much.  I guess I just need to be cautious that I don’t keep something in that doesn’t fit.

Which brings me back to the problem.  The current place in the storyline no longer fits with the beginning.  Its hard to describe without telling the story (which I’m not ready to do yet), so let’s use a Star Wars analogy.

In Star Wars, Luke is looking to 1) rescue Princess Leah and 2) avenge his father’s death.  But what if his original goal was to marry Leah.  Once he rescued her, then he would simply be trying for the rest of the movie to get her to leave with him and run away to the Chapel O’ Galactic Bliss, which 1) doesn’t make for a good movie and 2) makes the whole Death Star assault seem like a pointless diversion from the main topic.  Fortunately George Lucas was smart enough to change the plot and delete the wedding scene.

This is basically where I am.  No, there’s no wedding.  But I have taken the characters someplace away from their original goal, and now their actions conflict entirely with what they wanted.  I know this happens in life, but I don’t want it to happen here, simply because by the time they reach the end of the book, the closing scene will not make any sense at all.

Lots of rambling.

So, I need to retrace to where I started and decide if I started wrong or if I took a wrong turn.  Nothing really gets cut, just saved elsewhere.

Now I see where I messed up

Looking at my Forerunner data, I can clearly see that I didn’t stop the Forerunner at the finish.  I pressed something because there is a tiny pause symbol right there (hidden in this pic).  I must have hit the lap button and not the stop button.  You can see where I finished and then stumbled over to the food area and wandered around in a hyponatrimian daze.   You can even see where I walked over to throw trash into the garbage can.  :D

 

My time was still under 2 hours.  Yea!

so much going on

Thank you to everyone for your kind thoughts and words.  I appreciate the support.  :)

I’ve had alot going on since my last post.

The writing is going well.  I’ve had the plot change around dramatically, which is good I guess.  I’ve had a hard time letting go of an opening chapter that I really liked.  It was the first thing I wrote down, so it was tough to send it to the chopping block.  But it no longer fit with the rest of the storyline, so tore it apart into little pieces.  Saved all the clever wording, but let the meat of it go to the cutting room floor (so to speak).

Its amazing how I see things so differently now that I am writing.  I find myself stealing names for characters.  I see plot lines and ideas in everything people do.  I keep small notepads with me so I can write ideas down (which becomes somewhat hazardous while driving).

I’ve really started to see familiar patterns in other books.  Things that other writers have given as tips and guidelines for writing great fiction.  Suddenly, reading a fictional story takes on an entirely different feel.  I find myself zeroing in on the main character and looking for what they “want”.  It seems like they always want something, and then for the rest of the book, they are trying to get it.  They want money, or a lover, or freedom, or a magical ring, or something.

Speaking of fiction, I finally saw the last Harry Potter movie.  Ended up seeing it at the iMax because the show times worked out best.  I don’t think it was really worth it in 3D, but it wasn’t aweful.  Avatar was worth it, not so much Harry Potter.

I was happy to see it all end.  I didn’t want to keep waiting to see how they would play out that monster of a final book.  I think Rowling got pressured at the end to close it up fast.  It was like she used one dream/death sequence and the pensive bowl thing to explain the entire book series.  And then we go “Aaahaaaa, that’s why that happened.” Sigh.  I never did like the ending of it all.  And the prologue was too shmalzy.

But I was happy to see Bella Lestrange one last time.  :)

I’ve been running.  I ran two days last week and I did weight training twice as well.  Its going ok.  Very slow and sluggish, but at least I am moving.

I ran in the Warrior Dash this weekend.  I guess you can’t say ran.  I walked much of it.  Why?  Why would I walk in a race, you ask?  Well, for one thing it was on a SKI SLOPE.  Oh yes, the race went up a ski slope and then back down.  So about 98% of us walked it up, because running up a 70 degree incline for a mile and a half, truly sucks.

There were all kinds of obstacles, but the most welcome one was the giant pit of cold muddy water that waited for us at the top.  I was never so happy to get wet and dirty.  We had big logs in there to climb and roll over.  I ended up with big bruises all over me.  There was a big mud pit near the end with barbed wire to crawl under.  And a giant slip and slide that really hurt because there were rocks under it.

But I did get to jump over fire at the end and I did eat a giant turkey leg.  :)

The warrior dash is ok.  Very tough and the food is ultra fail: bananas and cups of water.  Everything else you pay for.  The turkey leg was $8.  We did get a free shower to wash off the mud.

So today my legs hurt and my feet hurt too.   And I have some bruises to show at work tomorrow.

Hope you all had a good weekend.

Last Run Albany

I ran the 5K tonight in Albany.  I really did not want to go.  Aside from being horribly out of shape, some things happened today that put me in a really foul mood.

But I changed my clothes and went anyway.  It was in the low 30’s, so I wore my running pants and a long sleeved shirts.  I had gloves and ear-warmers.  I was a little chilly watching the fireworks, but not too bad.

I started in the middle of the group, which got me to the start line a little late after the gun.  This was a chip-finish timed race.  Basically, gun-time with precision.

The course was nice, and had big Christmas light displays in the park we ran through.  The first mile went quickly, and I spent a lot of it trying to get around people.  Probably not the best idea on the big uphill start.  Mile two was slower and a little rough.  Mile three was the long straight stretch down the main road to the finish.

There was a woman in front of me in the final stretch, wearing a wool knit hat that hung over her back.  She looked in her 20’s and was easily under 5 feet tall.  I passed her as she slowed down during the last mile.  But as we approached the finish line she came charging up and pulled by me.  Then another woman on my left (also maybe in her 20’s) also passed me.

No way was some young’n in a goofy hat going to beat me in this race.   I don’t know where it came from, but I SPRINTED.  I mean, I was up on toes, digging in, and the feet were flying.  Going downhill was killing my feet as they slapped the asphalt, but I blew by those two like they had nothing left in the tank.   Spectators seeing the sprint were cheering like crazy.   Those two finished behind me.

I’m an older guy, and I’m not very fast, but I’m getting a little tired of 20-year-olds passing me.  If I can go faster, I will.  If you want to pass an old man, then you have to work for it, and want it more than I do.  Most will likely find this easy to do.  :D

I got so distracted by the fireworks, that I forgot to turn on the Forerunner.  When I finally did, it wasn’t reset, so it started adding time to my last run.  Oh well.  According to the results sheet, I finished under an 8:00 pace (beat those two women by a couple seconds only).  I guess I’m happy it wasn’t slower.  Its a far cry from my PR, but given my condition, I’m satisfied.  For now.

Stockade-athon 15K – PR

I just got back from running in the Stockade-athon 15K this morning.  Let me say it was damn cold at the start. 31F or something like that.  I was frozen.

I sat in the car until the last possible minute, and then whipped off the running pants to run in shorts.  I kept my running jacket and heavy gloves on, but soon found them to be a serious burden.

The race started in Central Park in Schenectady, headed down into the Stockade area and then back up State Street for one final loop around the park before finishing.  Overall, its a splendid race location.  Although, if you don’t like hills, you will hate the one at the end going up state street from Proctor’s Theater.   Big, steep hill.  After that hill, my gloves came off and my jacket was unzipped, I was so overheated.

I did pretty well in this race, considering my running has been extremely light since the marathon. Less than two miles into the race, that evil monkey crawled up on my back and whispered “What are you doing? Did you forget how awful the marathon was? This will be just as bad!”.  Then a good little monkey crawled up next to him, yelled “F#@% YOU!”, ripped the evil monkey’s head off, and ate it. Good little monkey.    :)

There were lots of spectators on the course, and a few bands.  Well, a guy playing a drum set, and four older gentlemen with a kazoo band, which made me laugh both times I went past, even near the end of the race.   I saw a woman holding a giant sign that said “Run Blogger Run” (or something close).  I wondered who she was cheering.

I tried not to look at my Forerunner too much, just to let my legs run the race.  I saved a little for the big hill at the end, so I wouldn’t die to badly.   I passed lots of folks in the last two miles, as they slowed down after the hill. My breathing was very even, most of the way.   I even passed two high school kids who were part of a larger group earlier. Any time I can pass the speedy youts, I’m happy.

As I came into the finishing chute, I spotted Darlene cutting chips off runners’ shoes.  Too many folks in her line, so I moved on.  I got a chance to introduce myself later.  Nice to meet you, Darlene!

Unofficial time: 1:12:27, which cuts about 18 minutes off my previous PR.   Although, that PR was set when I tore my calf muscle at mile 7, so if I couldn’t beat that today, I was in serious trouble.  I should have been a bit faster than what I got actually.  My New Haven pace was faster and that was a 20K.   Oh well.  I’m still happy with the time.

One thing that the marathon does for me, is it teaches me that normal races will never feel as bad as the marathon.  Don’t get me wrong, this race did not feel good (they never do actually), but compared to the marathon, it was like lying in the hot tub for an hour with a fruity drink in one hand, and the remote control to the DVD player in the other.  Its kind of like what speedwork does for me.  It teaches my brain that I can feel really really awful and still not die.  So when I run a 5K and feel like I want to die, I remember that it never feels as bad as speedwork does, and then I know its ok to push harder.

Food Report:

All I can say is WOW. I counted twenty (TWENTY!) extended picnic tables covered with PILES of food. There were bushels of apples, bananas, oranges, bagels and cream cheese, cookies, doughnuts, multiple brands of granola bars, chocolate and vanilla pudding cups, Welches fruit chews, chocolate milk drink boxes, Stewarts lemonade and iced tea, bottle of Gatorade, water bottles, Slim Jims, Motts fruit juice boxes, Bazooka bubble gum, twizzlers, bags of Snyder’s pretzels and pretzel twists, cans of Coke and diet coke, hot chocolate, sliced pizza, and hot vegetable soup. I didn’t want to leave. This set up even rivaled the Silks and Satins 5K.

I think I just found my favorite local fall race.   :)

rest day

Today is a rest day in my recovery schedule.  Its almost as tough as tapering.  I want to go running today.

Registration for Boston is closed already.  I know lots of folks who ended up registering this year.  Seems like they are all over the place.  Had to fight the cranky green monster inside me today.

I’m trying to find a nice spring marathon to run.  I wanted something close by, but it seems there isn’t much.  I realized that my three marathons have all been in different states.  I guess I am well on my way to doing all 50 states.  Well, I’ve got three of the 50 anyway.

There’s a local marathon here in February.  100 entrants.  5X loop of the city.  Mile markers at only a few spots.  No finisher’s medal.  Pretty much a bare bones, no frills race.  For $25, its actually a damn good deal.  I’m thinking about it.

So, I’ve got a few races I’m considering:

10/31 – Hairy Gorilla Half Marathon

11/7 – Stockade-athon (15K)

12/11 – Santa Speedo Sprint (5K)

12/18 – Albany Last Run 5K

2/20 – Hudson Mohawk Winter Marathon

3/13 – Celebrate Life Half Marathon

7/10 – Boilermaker 15K

7/?? – Silks and Satins 5K

A few of these I have run before, and some I have always wanted to run, but never was able to because of schedules.  I haven’t checked the Boy Scouts schedule yet, so some of these may not be possible.

I had the possibility of another race in Ireland this year, but I decided against it.  I would have had to stay away from home 3 more days and spent time/$$ that I really can’t afford right now.  Next time.

I’ve been thinking about long term running goals.  I know where I stand right now for PR’s.  I think I can go faster, but I don’t know how fast.   So I have some very lofty far off goals.  Ones I think I can get to (someday) if I train very hard (and shamelessly neglect my career and family).  For a 5K, I want to be under 20:00.  For a marathon, I want to qualify for Boston.    These two may be mutually exclusive.  We’ll see how it goes.

Did you run today?

Hartford Marathon – just bullets

I’m still trying to figure out what to say about the marathon.  It wasn’t what I had hoped for but the net result was faster than anything I ran before.  I have so much to say and haven’t got the words to say it all well, especially when trying to write it.  I’m just going to put in bullet form, to get it all out there.

Things I remember:

  • thinking my calves shouldn’t feel tired before the race
  • standing at the starting line looking for the pace leader
  • listening to the Star Spangled Banner and smelling body glide
  • running
  • finding the pace group leader
  • wondering why the pace group leader is going so fast
  • deciding if I should go slower
  • losing the pace group leader at mile 8 because he decided to stop and give a gel to someone on a bike who was standing by the side of the road as he pushed one runner into a mud puddle
  • running along the river and seeing the crew teams rowing (8 and 4-man boats)
  • slowing down and wishing I had gone slower from the start
  • Dianna gently touching my shoulder as she came up beside me near mile 14, and trying not to cry because I felt like I was dying already
  • rounding the turn at mile 17, seeing the little curvy arrows on the the ground, and trying to focus on “heading for home”
  • everything looking really really bright and sparkly and wondering if I was passing out
  • walking, eating a gel, wanting to puke
  • seeing my pace leader finally catch up and pass me and hearing someone ask him “where’s your group?” and thinking, I’m the only one still here, and now I’m not
  • seeing the next pace leader pass me
  • meeting Dianna at mile 20 and wishing I could stop and take the relay bus back, knowing that if she wasn’t running with me now, I probably would have
  • walking more, stretching
  • trying to make it to the next water stop without walking
  • seeing the another pace leader pass us
  • bagpipes
  • trying to make it to the next driveway without walking
  • stopping to stretch less than a mile from the finish
  • a sharp sharp pain in my left hip
  • hearing my mouth ask Dianna where the finish is, but not having consciously asked it, like somebody else said it
  • seeing the clock at 3:55
  • finishing
  • hearing them call my name
  • getting my medal

Things I don’t remember:

  • why I wanted to run this marathon so damn fast
  • most of miles 14-19
  • PR’ing my half marathon
  • hitting the lap button on my Forerunner 4 times between mile 25 and the end
  • losing one of my gels
  • getting from the finishing chute to the lawn – first I was getting my medal and then I was sitting in the grass

Things I will never forget:

  • Dianna putting my sorry butt into a wheelbarrow and carrying me to the end
  • running the most painful race I ever ran
  • breaking the 4 hour barrier (for me) and cutting about 30 minutes off my marathon PR
  • learning that I need to train a lot deeper than just running faster, if I ever want to BQ
  • learning that I need to run 30 seconds per mile slower than I think I can run the marathon, which I know I could have done in this race, without crashing, and still have gotten a faster time
  • a marathon is not, and never will be, a 5K, because the pain that I can endure for 25 minutes, is not endurable to 4 hours

I’ve run out of bullets.  There’s more details, but that’s all I really can write.  Looking at final results this morning, I still stayed in the first half of the marathon finishers for overall, age group, and gender, which I guess puts me in the better-than-the-average-bear category.  I am happy that I PR’d and happy that I beat 4 hours.  The medal is a giant honkin’ chunk of brass and looks mega-cool.

I have 5 weeks of post-marathon recovery training to go through.  Today is Sunday and, for the first time in 18 weeks, I don’t have a long run.  :)  I have some races to pick out for late fall/early winter, and I’m looking forward to find some spring races too.  I am trying to arrange a half marathon in Ireland for December, but logistics may get in the way (those being that I don’t drive well on the left side of the road).  We’ll see.  I’d like to get back to strength training, and have been mindlessly thinking about P90X.  Again, we’ll see.

Thank you, Dianna, for hosting me, carrying me, and making sure I didn’t quit.  I owe you so much.  Thank you to my RP for letting me abandon you while your legs are healing so I could go and run this horrendous race and finally beat your marathon time.  Thank you to my family for putting up with my absences and whining while training, and I’m sorry for being grumpy about not getting enough sleep.  Thank you to the Running Blog Family for your encouragement and friendship.  Good luck to all of you who are racing next weekend!  Thank you to everyone who still reads this blog.  Blogs are a dying internet phenomenon and I’m happy to have someplace to write and someone who reads it.

a whole month later

One month later in the year than the New Haven Road Race.  One would expect cooler weather for a race in October.  One might expect lower humidity.  What do I get?  The same.damn.weather.

I was hoping I would get cooler weather to help with my time, but no such luck.  :(

A good race at New Haven

I had a good time at the New Haven Road Race this year.   Unlike last year when I crashed and burned.  I can’t believe its been a while year since that.  Not such crashing and burning this year.

I met up with Bill (and Melissa), Dianna, and Danny in front of the church on the corner.  Its was good to see all those folks again after another year had raced by.  My RP came with me this year as well.  We had cool weather early but it warmed up a lot as far as I was concerned.  Bright sun and low 70’s, was more than I wanted to have.

At the start of the race, I lined up about a third of the way from the front.  I think it actually was a good placement because there weren’t too many people racing past me and not too many falling back.  The first couples miles felt sluggish.  My legs were heavy and not very peppy.  I was used to feeling like I wanted to fly, only a couple days after my long runs.  Yet, here it was three days from the last mid-week run and I felt like I was trudging.

By mile 3 I was feeling pretty good again.  I had tucked in behind a blonde woman in florescent green running shorts who was running at a pace close to mine.  I stayed with her for about 3 miles, but she kept stopping for water and I didn’t want to slow down any more, so I left her behind.

I pass the same jerk I see every year smoking his cigar near mile 4.  Bright orange shorts and filling the runners’ paths with second hand smoke.  Thanks, Buddy.  I saw him again on the other side of the course.  Some day I will be running this race for fun and I will jump up and rip that thing from his face.

I came up on a guy running barefoot.  At mile 5 he was doing well, but I couldn’t keep up with him at that point.  I wish I knew his number so I could see how he did overall.

The miles moved along very quickly it seemed, up until about mile 8.  Then they seemed to drag.  Between mile 6 and 8, we ran along the water and everything was out in the sun, and I started to really feel the heat.  By mile 8 I was feeling pretty toasty.  I think at this point, the route has a slow steady uphill and dragged a bit in there.

I had brought my own gatorade in my fuel belt, and drank the water on the course.  Sometimes the course water got poured down my back.  It was a brief break from the heat, but it did feel good.

We swung into the park eventually, and in the shade I felt much better.  It was uphill for a while, then a sharp downhill and onward towards the bagpiper.  Hearing the bagpipes is the sweetest sound in the world, when you know the end is near.  I had my Garmin to tell me the same, but seeing it live, made a world of difference.

It was mostly flat after that and I tried to keep my body straighter so my form didn’t slip and make me slow down.  The end of the race has a lot of spectators and lots of folks cheering, so it does lift your spirits a bit.

The end of the race was a blur to me.  I was so hot and tired, I couldn’t turn my head to look at my RP when she called me name.  Dianna, Danny, and Melissa were only as few minutes behind me somewhere, and apparently Audrey was already crossing the finish line a few minutes ahead of me.  Sorry I couldn’t find you afterward, Audrey.  I’ll save chocolate for you next year.  :)

Two other runners passed me as I crossed the line and I tried to make sure I ran all the way to the third mat.  I’m not sure why there are three mats, but I wanted to make certain I hit all of them.  I grabbed my water and poured some down my back and some into my mouth.  I staggered to the food line, filled my arms with stuff and wandered until I found a good place to sit.

According to Garmin, the splits look like this:

mile 1: 7:38
mile 2: 7:32
mile 3: 7:43
mile 4: 7:38
mile 5: 7:40
mile 6: 7:44
mile 7: 7:37
mile 8: 7:38
mile 9: 7:57 (uphill)
mile 10: 8:20 (more hills and into the park)
mile 11: 8:04
mile 12: 7:42
and the last bit: 3:08.

Official time was 1:36:34, which was 7:47/mile. Slower than I was hoping for but it was still a PR for me, by about 6 minutes. Jumped way up in my age group ranking compared with the PR from 5 years ago (egads, have I been going to this race that long?). I missed my 10K PR by one minute, which was still very encouraging to me actually.

So, the hills really nuked my time. I think the heat just drained me and I didn’t have any steam left in me to run the hills. When I plug my times into McMillan’s race calculator, its predicting a 3:34 marathon time. 3:34. Seriously. Four more minutes and that’s a BQ time. I’m hoping that with cooler weather, good preparation from here on out, and healthy eating, I can cut 4 minutes.

A wonderful time again with blog/real world friends.  I’m looking forward to next year already.  :)