Nov 9 2010

the boy who cried marathon

Way back in August – which seems like a lifetime ago – I wrote about my lifelong dream to collect all of the world’s songs to feature the syllabic crutch of doo-doo-doo’s and compile them into a box set.  The Doo-Doo Box Set, I called it.  Many offered potential songs for inclusion in The Doo-Doo Box Set, which is shaping up to be no doubt the finest box set of its kind.  But one song in particular stood out.

M—–l posted a link to “The Hotrod Song,” which surprised me because I had never before heard of the song.  And to make matters even more strange, the lyrics of the song eerily paralleled many events of my own life.  Unfortunately, you’ll just have to take my word for it – as the song in question seems to have disappeared – but I swear to God there was even a couplet about me “run[ning] a marathon/but that will never be.”  Oddly enough, I was training for a marathon at that very time.  It was all very creepy, but obviously this mysterious song was about some other Hotrod, because I was totally running that marathon.

Until today.  I’ve been far too busy over the past couple of months to train, and this morning I officially bailed on the Phoenix Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon for the second year in a row.  I’d be disappointed if I wasn’t so scared.  Maybe that song was about me after all.  And how did it know I wouldn’t follow through?  How did it know??!?!

Aug 30 2010

week one

I’m gonna keep this short, because my fantasy football season starts in about half an hour and I’ve got some last minute cramming to do.  I’ve got scores to settle with Dabysan and Cap’n Crunch.  In other news: I never thought I’d say this, but I wish I could still link to Cap’n Crunch.  I miss his incoherent rambling.  I always enjoyed trying to decipher his prose.  It made me feel like a spy.

Week One
Miles Run: 8 miles
Long Run: 3 miles
Average Pace: 11:30

Aug 23 2010

prologue, week three

This week was sort of a step backward, and under other circumstances I might focus on that.  But I’m trying out this thing I heard about in which I don’t always and automatically look for the worst in any given situation.  I think it’s called “Optimus Prime.”  So the bright side is that I didn’t do any two-mile runs this week.  And not only that, but I ran more slowly – which is good because….  uh….  Hmmm.  It’s good because….  Oh, I know!  It’s good because I’m less likely to get injured if I’m barely moving faster than a brisk walk!  Man, this rules.  Optimus Prime is the BEST!!!

This, by the way, is the last week of the prologue.  The official training season kicked off Saturday with a breakfast.  Which I skipped.  This bodes well.  If I didn’t know any better, I might assume I don’t really want to run a marathon after all.  We’ll see how the first scheduled group run goes this coming Saturday.  I’d say somebody should start a pool on whether or not I’m going to make it out, but who would bet that I actually do?

Prologue, Week Three
Miles Run: 6 miles
Long Run: 3 miles
Average Pace: 11:25

Aug 15 2010

prologue, week two

I realize this weekly post is scheduled for Mondays, but I have other things on tap for tomorrow and I don’t want this getting in the way.  I didn’t exactly set the world on fire this week, but I did get a boost of some much needed inspiration and motivation courtesy of M-Dashes and Homebody.  And Mr. Dashes taught me a valuable lesson about running my mouth which I won’t forget for at least another week or two.  And, of course, many thanks to everybody else who called me out as well.  I’m not especially proud of these numbers either, but at least they’re not zeroes across the board.

Prologue, Week Two
Miles Run: 7 miles
Long Run: 3 miles
Average Pace: 11:15

Aug 9 2010

prologue, week one

This is like déjà vu all over again.

Now see… this is what I was talking about when I mentioned accountability.  A whole week has gone by and nobody – NOBODY – has hounded me about running.  And now I have to write this shameful post.  I’m deeply ashamed – so ashamed that I thought about lying.  That seemed wrong, though, so I thought next about going for a run when I got home from work this evening and pretending it happened yesterday.  Then I remembered that according to my schedule, Mondays are rest days.  And I certainly wouldn’t want to throw off my schedule.  And also that bit about lying again.  So I’m coming clean.  See what you’ve done?  I blame you; this is all your fault.  Unless somebody starts hounding me – and soon – next week I start in with the lies.

Prologue, Week One
Miles Run: 0 miles
Long Run: 0 miles
Average Pace: N/A

Aug 2 2010

philippides is a stubborn fool

There was a small change at recently .  You probably didn’t notice, so I’ll just tell you.  One of the links over there on the left used to say “Marine Corps Marathon.”  Now it says “Rock ‘N’ Roll Marathon.”  I officially signed up a little over a week ago.  Let’s hope I make it further than six miles this time ’round.

Whoa.  Déjà vu.

I didn’t make a big deal out of my latest failed attempt to run a marathon.  It was all part of the plan, but I’ll be the first to admit that the plan was ill-conceived.  After last year’s disappointment, I didn’t want to advertise my participation in this crazy endeavor and not follow through.  Again.  I was going to wait until I had a half-marathon under my belt – or at least a ten-miler – before I shot my mouth off.  What I failed to consider was the small matter of accountability.

I did okay through the spring.  I wasn’t setting a blistering pace, but at least I was getting out there.  That all went to hell after my trip out to Lake Tahoe.  A combination of post-ride letdown, work malaise, and general poor spirits has resulted in one, two… eight weeks since my last run.  The problem obviously stems from the fact that I had nobody to whom I had to answer over the past two months.  Oh sure, you could say, what about all those cancer patients you went on about back in May?  And you’d be right to a point.  But I never said I wasn’t a complete fraud when it came to my primary responsibility with this year’s spring cycle team.  If left to my own devices, lazy Saturday mornings are a perfectly acceptable remedy for whatever little tribulations the week brings.

So that’s what this is for.  The Phoenix Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon is in January.  The official training starts mid-September, so I’ve got about six weeks to get ready to train.  Again.  And this time I’m taking a page out of Dabysan’s book.  Over the past few weeks, he’s been posting an abbreviated version of his running log as a weekly Facebook status update.  I figure I’ve got a month and a half to get my statistics to a point where I’m not too ashamed for my mom to see them, so I’ll be doing the same here until training starts officially – after which I’ll be posting both places.  And who knows?  I might even get a decent story or two out of the experience.

Week Zero
Miles Run: 0 miles
Long Run: 0 miles
Average Pace: N/A

Jun 8 2010

it really is america's most beautiful bike ride

Do I know this ride or what?  Before I left for Nevada last week, I wrote that I'd be getting to the big climb "at about two o'clock in the afternoon."  Well, I thought to check the time when I got there because I was curious about how long it would take to get to the top.  (It took fifty minutes.  And though I've never timed it before, I'm reasonably confident that that's ten to fifteen minutes faster than I've ever done.)  It was 1:57 PM.

The day before yesterday, I rode my bicycle around Lake Tahoe for the sixth time.  It was one of my best days of the year so far.  It always is.  I know some people who have done this ride once or twice.  They won't do it again – and this never fails to amaze me – because they say they're tired of it; they want to try a new ride.  I don't get that.  At all.  Even after my sixth trip around the lake, I'm still feeling today the letdown that inevitably occurs after something to which I've been looking forward for so long has passed.

Homebody asked the other day how many miles I've ridden for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  I generally estimate that each century ride – once all the training is tallied – puts a little less than a thousand miles on my bike.  This was my eleventh event, so I'm going to be conservative and say this season nudged me over the ten thousand mile mark.  But that's incidental.  The important thing is that on June 6, 2010, over 1300 Team In Training cyclists – who raised over six million dollars – did something difficult because they are dedicated to finding a cure for cancer.  I was only one of them.

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Jun 4 2010

you can’t climb across a mountain so high

You know what this blog needs?  More GD Youtube videos.

That there is miles eighty-one to eighty-eight of America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride.  It starts at lake level and rises just under a thousand feet to Spooner Summit.  Because why not put the long climb at the end of the ride?  It's not that difficult, actually – it just keeps going up longer than is really necessary.  I mean, I get it already – life isn't fair.  Anyway, that's where I'll be Sunday at about two o'clock in the afternoon.  Between now and then, I'll doing my best Team Vox impersonation and posting pictures of the Lake Tahoe area from my glorious new telephone.
Have a good weekend, everybody.  I know I will.

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May 10 2010

mission monday

I haven’t been writing about this cycle season like I should be.  At least, I’ve not been writing here.  I have been writing, though.  I have an important job this time ’round; I’m the ‘Mission Mentor’ for the team.  It’s my job to keep people focused on the primary goal of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Team In Training: finding a cure for blood cancers.  Mainly, this means the duty falls to me to write an email every Monday about where the money we raise goes or new developments in treatments or something.  A couple of weeks ago, after a particularly rough Saturday morning which found me wanting more than anything just to crawl back into bed, I wrote the following message.

I’m going to let you all in on a little secret. I came really, really close to bailing on our ride last Saturday. Neither of my usual carpoolers was with me, and I was almost out the door when the thought popped into my head that I’d had a long week at work. And rain was likely. And Berryville was an hour and a half away. And I didn’t have to ride. And what’s more, I hadn’t yet missed any of our Saturday trainings. At six o’clock Saturday, the idea of a leisurely morning followed by parking myself on my couch until the NFL Draft lulled me back to sleep sounded like a pleasant way to spend the day. Until, that is, I remembered why I ride in the first place.

I signed up for my first event with Team In Training on a whim. One of my co-workers at the time was on the Tahoe Team, and she was talking to a few of us about it at lunch one day. I’d never been out to Lake Tahoe before, and riding a bike around it seemed like a cool way to see the area for the first time. I barely even thought about what I was getting myself into. That was six years (and ten events) ago, so needless to say my first century ride with Team In Training turned out to be pretty big deal for me.

The one ride that really stood out that first season isn’t on our training schedule this year. It’s a beautiful seventy-two mile loop starting from Gainesville through the Virginia piedmont.  And it kicked my butt. Most of the ride is rolling hills like what we did last Saturday, but at about the halfway point, the route goes up and over Naked Mountain. It was the only hill I had to walk up after I ditched the mountain bike I’d been riding at the beginning of training. When I got the training schedule for my second event, I immediately circled the date of the Gainesville ride. My most important goal for the entire season was getting up and over that one hill. Which, I didn’t. I bonked. It’s still the only ride on which I have ever bonked. Obviously, by that point, I had a score to settle.

The day before my third crack at Naked Mountain, I was talking to my mom on the phone when she mentioned that one of my friends from high school had recently passed away. My friend – Brenda – had cancer and had moved to Minnesota during treatment, but a hometown memorial service was scheduled for the following day. This was before the ubiquity of Facebook, and it had been at least five years since I’d even talked with anyone with whom I went to high school. So it pains me to admit that my initial reaction to this sad news was muttering something like “Jeez, that’s too bad” and then calmly going about the rest of my afternoon. The next day dawned about as perfectly as you can imagine. There wasn’t a cloud to be seen in the bright blue sky and the air was still and warm. I led the Team out of the parking lot with Rob and Karen. We were a couple of miles shy of the first SAG stop when it happened. I rounded a turn and crested a small rise in the road to see a vibrant green valley before me, when I remembered the phone call from the day before and suddenly made the mental connection with the main reason I was experiencing that perfect spring day on my bicycle. The rest of the ride, well…. let’s just say it was difficult. But that one hill with which I’d had so much trouble on previous attempts was almost easy. There was absolutely no way I was going to walk up it a third time. I had to keep riding. For Brenda.

I thought about Brenda a lot last Saturday. She died four years ago this past week. She had melanoma, which – as we learned last Monday – may one day be treated with LLS funded pharmaceuticals like Gleevec and Velcade. And she helped keep me going over the last twenty miles when I realized maybe I’d started a little too fast and should have saved some energy for the end of the ride. (To say nothing of helping me just get myself out to Berryville.) The thing is – and I know I’ve said this before – there are always going to be challenges. Sometimes it’s Naked Mountain or the Wall; sometimes it’s just getting out the door on a Saturday morning when you don’t particularly feel like riding. Cancer patients don’t get to choose to take a day off. That’s why I don’t get to either.

I’ve had that story kicking around in my head for four years now.  I’ve mentioned it in passing, but I’ve been wanting to share it in more detail.  It’s been difficult to get right.  It needed to be perfect, and now – now that I’ve had a chance to edit it yet again – it is.  And it’s timely, too.  The Naked Mountain ride wasn’t on our training schedule a couple weeks ago, but that changed last week (due, in no small part, to my email).  I spent last Saturday out there in the piedmont – suffering through the early rain and the wind and the hills.  There was nowhere I’d rather have been.  It was bliss.There’s no way I could possibly recapture that same vibrant green valley I saw back in 2006.  The photo above is woefully inadequate, but it will have to do.  That’s Karen and Rob in the shot, though.  I was so grateful to be riding with them back then, and I’m glad they were there with me for at least this part of our ride two days ago.

Mar 22 2010

photos from my bike

It occurred to me recently that I completely forgot to mention that I’m planning on riding my bicycle around Lake Tahoe again this coming June.  Maybe it’s because of the weather – we got a late start to our training because of the February blizzards and then missed another couple of weeks – or maybe it’s because I’m a slacker.  Whatever the reason, it’s time to rectify this situation.

So yeah – I’m planning on riding my bicycle around Lake Tahoe again this June.  And since I want to at least try to form some coherent thoughts about my Saturday training rides, I figure I need some sort of gimmi-   I mean, hook… on which to hang a narrative.  Last year, I posted maps of my training rides.  But we’re doing most of the same rides this year, so that’s obviously not going to work.  Then I realized: I carry my camera most of the time now, so I should post a defining picture of each week’s ride and talk about that.  I have no idea how this is going to work out; it’s probably a stupid idea.This first one is from a couple of weeks ago, because I am a deadbeat slacker.  It’s Beach Drive, in Rock Creek Park.  I don’t often ride here, so I am always amazed by how remote it can sometimes feel.  It’s right in the heart of the District of Columbia, but there are areas which seem like the middle of nowhere.  In other news, I should spend more time in Rock Creek Park.  It’s way more convenient than some of the other places I’ve gone when I wanted to feel totally alone.