Grass Mountain

December 12, 2012

Trail trash. Trolls.  Dirt monkeys.  Grunge sponges.  Traily.

The road runners are not kind to the trail runners.  They assume that all of the Trailies  are  just a bit off and have hobbit feet.  Granted 50 and 100 miles races are not something normal people would do on purpose, but perhaps the Trailies do not consider themselves normal.  And what if one just enjoys getting dirty sometimes?

I have never considered myself a full-on Traily but I do enjoy a good trail whack every now and again.   Can’t a street runner find happiness in a trail run if he pleases?    Maybe it was time to go back to the other side to find out.  The dirty side.

An opportunity came to support the Santa Barbara Trail Council and I decided to take it.  This is my race recap from the Montana de Hierba Trail Race.  Well really it was called Grass Mountain but that does not sound as dramatic.  That sounds like the place the dudes from Midland School went to smoke.

Most of the story will be told with pictures

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The Trail Council thought it would be a good idea to put Nancy in charge.  There have been well organized  races in Santa Barbara and there have been some poorly organized races.   Nancy did a good job with this one.  Except I gave her a B- on the marking of the 2nd half of the race because I  got lost a little bit.  It’s all good though because I got in her face about it and gave her the old wherefore and everything else was great.  And what’s a trail race if you can’t complain about the markings?

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All trail races have the same profile.  You run up a hill and then you run down a hill.  Sometimes you have to do that a lot.  This is what our race looked like.

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I decided to run the 10k, mostly because I have not been on trails much lately.  I went and ran with Mark.  This was one of the last glimpses I saw of Mark.  He came in 2nd overall which was cool and he asked that we now call him “Deuce”.

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The views were great, the weather was perfect…

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I ended up behind this guy.  I later found out his name was Adolfo.  Adolfo did not like going uphill but he could bomb down the downhills.  Whenever we reached an uphill, he would scream.

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It reminded me of this kid. (Not necessarily safe for work language)

Rudolpho was always just a little bit in front.  I could catch him on the uphills and he would pass me on the downs.

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The first two miles went well.  Then I needed to pull out an excuse from my Excuse Folder.

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When the marathon was over, I decided to donate blood and I did so last week.  I am not recovered yet.

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It is like the opposite of doping.  Smarting.  You take out 10% of your blood but you don’t replace it.  It’s not a great method for improving hill performance.

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I ran out of juice.  But that’s ok because giving blood saves lives and running races usually doesn’t.  Unless of course, you are raising money for a charity in which case you would be as heroic as I am.   And well, sure there’s that whole zombie apocalypse thing…

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I kept up the constant forward progress mantra, made it to the top of the hill at  Lover’s Loop and started to catch up to people again.

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Ahhhh… now the hunters become the hunted…

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…at least until some one gets hurt.  This man was in my way.  He won’t make that mistake again.  I leapt over his carcass and continued to ramble to the finish

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Unfortunately, there was no one left to catch.  I ended up coming in 7th.  That seemed about right for my level of fitness. So, all in all, a fun day at the races.  Would I do this one again?  Sure.  Why not?

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Still trying to figure out why they call it Grass Mountain though…

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Amusing Running Photos

So I put together my year in pictures.  Many of them come from Remy’s World on Runner’s World.  But we tend to think alike…

a daily motivation Daily motivation (22 photos) . daily motivation 314 Daily motivation (16 photos) daily motivation 56 Daily motivation (16 photos) photo day 11 27 12 920 0 Photo of the Day: they cant stop Redmond Ramos (Click here for High Res Photo) They said I couldn't do it. They said the road was too long, the journey too arduous. They were wr- Oh. Dry heaves. Hang on. And this is why I run... That is me on a daily basis! haha true #35 Motivational Poster #6 | Remy's World Ha. So true. #34 Just to follow the secuence Motivational...with some funny thrown in for good measure. :) Motivational Poster #5 | Remy's World Motivational Poster #21 | RW Daily I need music In honor of the 1 year anniversary of Jobs' passing TRUTH poster24-new.jpg 850×641 pixels So terribly true This.is.awesome!    Wordless Post: A Ticket for Running Violations | Remy's World The first step is the hardest.  Although the subsequent steps are no picnic, either.  I mean, let's face it : running stairs kind of sucks. bahaa! Runners Anonymous hahahah  |  Motivational Poster #20 | RW Daily #itmakestotalsense   #runnercool  |  RW Daily Motivational Poster #22 Don't let anything stop you! ;)

Funny running picture - Flash

Marathoning

November 15, 2012

So hey, did I tell you I ran a marathon?

I had done all of the hard work, all that was left was to run the race.  The race however, which I had intended to own, did not cooperate.   Sneaky little hobbitses.  Wicked, tricksy, false!

I woke up the morning of the race with nervous excitement.  It was just a matter of time before I made this race my bitch.  I put on my race pace tattoo, confident that I would stick to the numbers.  Sure with my bad eyes I couldn’t read them but this fuzzy picture let’s you see what I saw.  Spoiler alert….this may have been a clue.

I customized my race bib, carefully picking out just the right moniker so that when the throngs of adoring crowds cheered, I knew they would call out my name.  (The flaw in that plan, of course, was that there were no adoring crowds.  The volunteers were great but Santa Barbara is pretty apathetic as far as the race is concerned unless you are a runner or had a family member running.  Even the Edhat Trolls ignored this race but that’s probably a good thing.)

I even threw in pictures of Jake the Dog and Finn the Human from Adventure Time to prove how cartoon hip I am

My intention was to run with the 3:10 pace group.    I  drove to the race with Gene, who was the 3:10 pacer and we picked up Mark so the Sausage Run Part Deux was a go.  For the the first 18 miles or so, that was a good plan.

The weather was as desirable as it gets for running.  Gene was a perfect pacer for the first half and we were probably about a minute in front of pace because we were trying to bank time for the second-half hills.  If anything, it was hard for me to hold back.  I was feeling smooth and strong.   And then something started to go wrong.  I am still trying to figure out what that was and I am open to theories.  We hit the bike path  and around Mile 17, Mark asked me how I was doing.  He said he was feeling a slow degeneration.  That seemed about right.  I took a mental inventory.  My left Achilles was burning, both of my calves were quivering just to the brink of spasm and then they would back off, my adductor was pulsing in a way it is not supposed to pulse, my quads had turned to stone, the tendinitis on top of my foot was groaning and the plantars on the bottom of both feet were cramping.  Was that enough wanking for one sentence?

I plodded on to Modoc, tried walking through the water stops, reached Cliff Drive in full cramp down and trudged the death march up the hill.  Celeste raced down the hill to prod me into finishing with some dignity intact but it was too late. I made it most of the way down Shoreline hill and then I had to walk.  Who walks down a hill less than a mile from the finish of a race?  Ummm…me.  Everything just hurt too much to keep running.  I did rally to run through the finish chute so at least the finish line photos wouldn’t show me decaying on the course.

There has definitely been a pattern in my marathons for not being able to finish strong.  The first two I could chalk up to injuries and naiveté.   This one I have a different theory.  When I look at how salty I was after the race, I am guessing there were fueling issues.  The weather was cool enough that perhaps I was not replenishing as much as I should have.  That could lead to cramps, right?

Big proboscis but cool scar

Post race – This was about right

So I think I would rather do marathon runners than marathons.   Maybe it is time I should start to think about racing cars.  They can cover the 26 miles in a fraction of the time that I do.  And at least in car racing, if a car goes down they put up the yellow caution flag and there is no passing.  If no one was allowed to pass me once I put up my personal flag, it would do wonders for my self esteem.

I am choosing to look on the bright side of this race though:

1.  I made it to the starting line healthy and I gave it my best shot

2.  It was still a PR and technically a Boston Qualifier thanks to my advanced years.  If you don’t count the pacer that only ran half of the race and finished in front of me, I was 3rd in my age group

3.  Dead at the Finish is better than DNF is better than DNS

4.  My hair looked really good in pictures

Next time I guess I’ll just drink more.  Duh.

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On my bucket list is to some day do a mud run.  And maybe a zombie run.  And a neon run.  And other theme runs that are just fun.  I wish one of those entrepreneurial UCSB kids would hurry up and figure out that there would be demand for  one in town.  In the meanwhile, here is an interesting article which is really about why it is so hard to get insurance for these races.  A bit dramatic, true, but they make their point.

http://www.menshealth.com/health/mud-run-risk-factors?fullpage=true

A Race to the Death

Mud runs are the new rage, but their popularity could be their undoing
By Laura Beil, Photographs by Jamie Chung, Posted Date: October 11, 2012

At his gym, Tony Weathers was known as Weatherman—a ripped demigod who could curl 225 pounds and run a mile in under 5 minutes. Outwardly he was a humble sort, but inside, down to his bone marrow, he hated to lose. If his fitness class was assigned one sprint around the gym in 15 seconds, Weathers ran two. If a coworker beat him in table tennis in the company break room, he challenged the victor again and again until he won. So on Saturday, April 14, as Weathers paced around the starting line of the Original Mud Run in downtown Fort Worth, Texas, he was probably synchronizing every cell in his body to win it all. Even if he didn’t finish first, he told his friends, he would be among the top 10 finishers. Just wait.

The starting line sat atop a levee that managed the occasional flooding of the Trinity River, and next to LaGrave Field, home of the minor-league Fort Worth Cats. The parking lot below hosted a lively bazaar of sponsor tents; waterlogged mudders from previous heats helped themselves to the postrace beer, and promoters aggressively pushed leaflets for still more muddy adventures.

A few minutes before the 2 p.m. start time, Tim Munetsi, a 35-year-old telecommunications specialist and Weathers’s friend from class, trotted up the levee to give his buddy a send-off. A coworker of Munetsi’s, Huong Morgan, 33, followed behind. Munetsi and Morgan had already run in the morning fun races. Weathers had signed up for the final start of the day—the timed competitive run.

Morgan pulled out her phone to snap Weathers’s picture. It was to be the “before” shot—before he crossed the finish line plastered in brown muck. She spotted Weathers, his head bowed, fist to his heart, lost in silent prayer. He kissed his hand and pointed to the sky, and then opened his eyes.

“Hey, Weatherman!” Morgan hollered when his prayer was finished, and raised her phone. He served up the same Hollywood smile that had made him a favorite amateur model for Krave magazine and earned him a spot as Mr. July in the magazine’s 2012 “King of Hearts Kalendar.”

Weathers made a lazy hand sign at the camera. He noticed the crowd gathering around the starting line. “Time for me to leave Tony behind,” he told his friends, “and get into Weatherman mode.” He positioned himself toward the front of the pack; when the announcer finished the countdown, Weathers bolted out like a cannon shot.

A mile from the starting line, Tony Weathers was dead.

THE mud run was supposed to be just a warmup for Weathers on his way to his ultimate goal: Hawaii’s Iron-man triathlon. Today mud runs abound, but the Original Mud Run claims the distinction of being the first-ever military-style obstacle race for civilians. Started by a band of Marines raising money for charity, the inaugural race, held in 1989 in Tustin, California, had 99 participants. For years, even before relocating to the Dallas-Fort Worth area in the late ’90s, this production dominated the field. That’s no longer true: Mud runs today are as packed as rock concerts, attracting as many as 25,000 registrants in a weekend. Their meteoric rise is hard to exaggerate; Warrior Dash, which began in 2009 with one race and 2,000 people, is predicted to field more than 800,000 runners this year. The company that runs it expects to earn $65 million. Spartan Race also began in 2009 and will host around 750,000 this year. Tough Mudder, in only in its third year, is on track to rake in $70 million in 2012. Those are just the majors. Florida alone will host 40 different mud runs before the year is out.

“I think the appeal is that it gives you the opportunity to almost be a kid again,” says Warrior Dash race director Alex Yount. “It is not every day I’m rolling around in the dirt, scraping my knees and getting muddy, and then jumping over fire.” People have embraced the idea of competitions that don’t require months of disciplined training, so if you just want to wallow in mud holes, beer, and chicks in wet sports bras, you can. The appeal is in the camaraderie and the sense of accomplishment that comes only from sustaining electric shocks with friends . . . while dressed as Gumby. Some promoters emphasize the physical challenges while others talk up the Mardi Gras-style joviality. Still others offer both, with a dose of Camp Lejeune thrown in. Richard Lee, a cofounder of Spartan Race, good-naturedly refers to Warrior Dash as “Woodstock, with obstacle-type things.”

Yet as more people are drawn to the runs, reports of injuries are making news. Risk is inherent in any sport, but racing veterans like Troy Farrar, president of the United States Adventure Racing Association, worry that mud runs may be growing too popular too quickly for the well-being of their grunge-soaked fans. Weathers might have been the first to die at a mud run, but reports have surfaced of mud race participants in California, Michigan, and Virginia sustaining paralyzing injuries. Three people reportedly became ill from E. coli after competing in a mud race earlier this year in Scotland, presumably from contaminated mud. In Wisconsin, 26 mud runners were hospitalized after an event, including one with a fractured neck vertebra.

Since the sport of mud running has no governing body, statistics on injuries are hard to come by. Race organizers say the number of participants who’ve been seriously hurt is relatively tiny when the hundreds of thousands who compete annually are taken into account. But Farrar notes that in 17 years of adventure races—arguably the closest cousins to these mud runs—only one critical injury has occurred, when a boulder inside a canyon became dislodged and crushed a runner. He can’t recall anyone ever being paralyzed.

“Originally we were sanctioning some of these events. We liked them,” Farrar says. His insurance underwriters have now placed mud runs off-limits, he says, citing too many claims. He sees a phenomenon in danger of imploding under the weight of its own crowds. “If it doesn’t get cleaned up,” he says, “it can easily become uninsurable, and it will go away.”

Tony Weathers did not come to Lagrave Field for the beer and babes. That was not his style. He was reared in a working-class neighborhood of Dallas, his formative years spent in the care of a doting aunt, Zenill Traylor. In middle school he started track and for a time tried football, though Traylor jokes that the pads and helmet probably outweighed the spindly boy. He graduated from Skyline High, worked his way to a college business degree, and eventually landed a job at Fort Worth’s Mercedes-Benz Financial Services office.

His love of winning was famous, but so was his bighearted-ness and gentle charm. He was one of those people who always seemed to be in a good mood, and if you weren’t, “he’d do anything and everything to make you smile,” says coworker KeBrenda Jackson.

In his late teens, Weathers discovered a love for weight-lifting. He joined the Texas Gym, a storefront operation that caters to unadulterated brute force. With free weights piled in random clumps across the floor and a banner boasting “Best Hard Core Gym in Texas,” it’s the kind of place that props open the back doors on a sweltering afternoon for an influx of fresh air that doesn’t smell like yesterday’s sweat. Weathers—his gym buddies called him T-Dubb—would slip in the door, baseball cap turned backward, and start his reps. He drifted in like smoke. “When he appeared at the gym, you never knew he came through the door. That’s how quiet he was,” says Mark Echols, a Texas Gym veteran. Weathers prided himself on being one of the strongest at the bench, but he never put his muscles on boastful display during a workout. He rarely wore shorts or even tanks. His muscles were his business. “He was one of those men who was willing to take his time, stop his workout, and help a guy who didn’t know how to do it,” Echols says.

By the time of his death at age 30, Weathers had developed a chiseled physique that he’d worked to maintain like a prized possession. He was devoted to his health, prone to eating pungent helpings of hard-boiled eggs and broccoli at his desk, and dedicated to working out two or three times a day. “He was funny about what he put into his body,” says his aunt. “He hadn’t drank a soda in 15 years.”

In March 2011, to build his endurance and speed, Weathers joined a fitness class at the Cimarron Park Recreation Center in Irving, a city situated between Dallas and Fort Worth. The trainer, Lynetta Moore, bills the training as a “fitness boot camp.” Weathers walked in wearing the saddest athletic shoes she’d ever seen, she says. “Look, Weatherman,” she told him, “you’re going to need to buy some new shoes.” He said they were hard to find because he had a size 17 foot. “And the women were like, ‘You’ve got a what?’ I said, ‘Calm yourself, ladies.'”

She turned back to her new recruit.

“Are you ready to get broke down?”

“I am unbreakable,” he answered, without hesitation.

Over the next few months, Munetsi and Weathers would chat after class about the new woman Weathers was dating, about work, about family. In March, Munetsi suggested they do the Original Mud Run. (Through a spokesman, the company behind the event declined interview requests for this story.) His coworker, Morgan, an occasional participant in the boot camp class, had gone the previous year and had a blast. They signed up the same day.

On race day Munetsi and Morgan arrived early, before Weathers, for their races. As they finished their run, they saw Weathers smiling—he was always smiling—as he waited for them to cross the finish line.

“How come she’s dirtier than you?” he asked, laughing at Munetsi. In response, his friends smeared a generous helping of mud down Weathers’s black T-shirt. As the rules for the competitive division required, Weathers was wearing combat boots and long pants.

They walked to a truck where muddy runners were being hosed down. After a communal shower courtesy of the Fort Worth Fire Department, Munetsi and Morgan picked up sandwiches and bananas and the three sat down at a picnic table. Weathers quizzed his friends about the obstacles. Were they hard? “I told him it was easy,” Munetsi says. “I figured for him it was going to be a piece of cake.” They discussed the water crossings; the first was about a mile into the course. When Morgan had done the race last time, the Trinity River was low because of drought. But this year a rainy winter had swollen the waters deep and wide. Anyone who didn’t want to swim to the other side could jog across the Samuels Avenue bridge further downstream. Morgan, who can’t swim, and Munetsi had chosen this option.

Weathers listened as his friends described the river crossing, weighing his plan. He could swim, and he was strong. He was gearing up for a triathlon. “He did not seem too concerned about the swimming,” Munetsi says.

No event is without risk. They key to safety is knowing what you’re signing up for and then training to meet the challenge. In some ways, the hazards of mud runs are difficult to compare with those of other sports. Unlike most traditional competitions, mud runs attract both elite athletes and contenders who have—how to put it?—more enthusiasm than ability. To build in thrills, race organizers ask participants to do things they may have never done or not done in a long time. “Most of us haven’t climbed monkey bars since we were 9 years old,” says Pete Williams, who runs EnduranceSportsFlorida.com and is writing a book on training for obstacle races. “Even people who do a lot of CrossFit don’t usually combine lots of running with throwing tires and pulling hunks of concrete.”

Williams, who has completed nine separate mud runs, doesn’t believe these races pose unnecessary hazards. He’s never felt unsafe, for himself or anyone else. “Certainly the onus is on the race organizers to make all of their obstacles as safe as possible,” he says. “It’s also incumbent upon the athletes to take a look at the obstacle and see what they’re dealing with. If they cannot do it, then they should skip it. These races all give you the option of doing that.”

U.S. Adventure Racing president Farrar has heard this line of reasoning before. “Here’s something you also have to take into account,” he says. “When people get into race mode, some still make wise decisions and consider their self-preservation. Other people, when they get in race mode, are in race mode and they just don’t make good decisions. You may have some people who are really not comfortable and who say, ‘I’m going to walk around,’ but who wants to be that first guy?”

Even risk-calculating professionals are confounded by mud runs. Sports insurer ESIX covers 50,000 events annually, but it categorically rejects applications from almost all mud runs. “Insurance companies can wrap their arms around events that are consistent and require certain standards to be met before the event is allowed to happen,” says company president Mike Price. “Mud runs have no sanctioning body to control the standardization, which greatly contributes to the potential risk.”

Another company, SportsInsurance Hawaii, reviews each mud run application obstacle by obstacle because of inconsistencies in risk management. “Everyone is wanting to hold one of these because they’ve become so popular,” says company president Dana Cagen. He has been noticing a kind of arms race among organizers of these events to create ever more outrageous experiences; one proposal recently crossed his desk that had runners entering a gas chamber. “I’m like, well, no,” he says. “We’re not going to have people going into something where they have to breathe something other than air.” He also stays away from barbed wire, fire, and live electrical wires.

These challenges happen to be badges of honor for some of the nationally known races, though organizers insist that their environments are tightly controlled and that no one has ever suffered serious injury from them. “We constantly adjust and assess the risk of every aspect of our race,” says Lee of Spartan Race. “If we’re having too many injuries at a certain obstacle, we may remove it from the next race because we ultimately need to be safe.”

Water is a triathlete’s greatest fear. In 2010, researchers from the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation investigated fatalities in the almost 3,000 events sanctioned by USA Triathlon from 2006 to 2008, publishing their findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Out of 14 deaths, 13 occurred in water. It can be a place of panic; there’s nowhere for a fatigued athlete to go but down and under. The more crowded the race, the researchers found, the greater the odds of drowning.

With his running speed, Weathers would have reached the river in less than 10 minutes. The only real obstruction before it was a wooden wall that most people easily vaulted over. Lance Westlake, a 27-year-old supervisor at a mortgage company, was also running the competitive wave; he estimates he was about a third of the way back from the lead racers. Westlake splashed through the high grass at the water’s edge and gave himself a push off the bottom. “My first thought was, ‘Holy shit! I don’t know if I’m going to be able to make it across this!'” he says. “My boots immediately filled up and felt like weights on my feet.

“I was probably 5 feet from land, and I started to realize people were freaking out,” Westlake says. He heard women sobbing. Swimmers screamed for lifeguards. “It was constant screaming,” he says. “That was the first time I’ve ever feared for my life.” He calmed himself, recalled water-safety instruction from long ago, and rolled over onto his back. Suddenly he felt himself being pulled under by a terrified man with a desperate instinct to grab anything to stay afloat.

“You need to get off me now!” Westlake says he yelled, and he rooted around in the water for a guide rope that had been secured across the river. To his shock, the rope was so loose that there was no way to hold on without going under, Westlake says. He passed it to the man anyway, and quickly paddled away. He thinks he saw three lifeguards, but “there were, like, 80 people in the water.”

Another participant, Paul Page, a 50-year-old financial planner for a fencing supplier, would have entered the water after Westlake. He had done the mud run in 2010, and back then he estimated his wave had about 50 runners. For this race, he says, the starting line was “probably 250 people deep. I dropped to the rear because it just bothered me.” As he swam, “I saw that one woman was crying. People coming up behind me were kind of flailing around.” He was exhausting himself battling the water-filled boots and pants, so he flipped over to float. He yelled advice and encouragement to the panicking swimmers around him: “Turn on your back! You’re gonna make it!”

When he reached the other side, Page clambered up the bank and grabbed the guide rope, leaning back hard, pulling it taut so others could hold on and make it across. He stayed until everyone he could see came ashore.

Munetsi wanted a photo of Weathers during the race, so he dashed across the river at a low-water concrete crossing near the starting line, waiting a couple of miles into the course at a high wall everyone had to scale. After a few moments he saw the first runners appear. He pressed the button to turn on the camera on his phone, expecting Weathers to be out front. Another clump of runners passed, and then another. Finally Munetsi walked back across the river to the finish line, shaking his head, thinking somehow he must have missed his friend.

Munetsi and Morgan waited, but Weathers wasn’t among the initial finishers. They started seeing the first women, and finally the walkers. No way would Tony have let this many people in front of him, they thought. They scanned the crowd, thinking Weathers had eluded them a second time. Finally, at nearly 3:30 p.m.—90 minutes past the start time—the two approached the race timekeeper. “Has runner 2889 finished?” they asked. No, the woman said, but someone else is asking about that bib number too. They turned around to see a pretty woman, stricken with worry. For the first time, they met Weathers’s girlfriend.

Lynetta Moore, his trainer, was at home waiting for word from Weathers. Finally she sent him a text: “How’d you do?” The answer came back: “This is Lauren, Tony’s girlfriend. Tony is missing.”

Mud runs are approaching a criticial juncture, says Cagen of Sportslnsurance Hawaii. In some ways, he says, it’s part of the natural evolution of athletic events. He talks about slopestyle skiing and ski jumps–how insurance companies were loath to take on coverage until the jumps and terrain features were set up according to a specific protocol. He predicts the same trajectory with mud runs: increasing risk and more injuries, followed by safety standards. If mud runs resist standardization, he says, “there’s always going to be somebody who will maybe take the risk to insure them, but the premiums will be a lot higher and the insurance providers are going to probably do a lot more to say, ‘We’ll insure it only if you meet certain criteria.'”

Mud run producers may also be bracing for the impact of lawsuits. Litigation has a history of changing industries, says John Shea, a Richmond, Virginia, attorney representing a runner who was paralyzed after diving into a mud pit. (As the complaint describes, the crowd around the man was urging him, chanting, “Hit it!” and “Dive! Dive! Dive!”) “That’s partly why the legal system exists,” Shea says. “They either need to stop these races or ensure that they are run in a safe manner.”

But just because it’s not an official, sanctioned sport doesn’t mean it has no safety codes, says Tough Mudder spokeswoman Jane Di Leo. “All our obstacles are drawn up by engineers. They manage our crews on the ground. Once the obstacles are built, they are weight-tested for safety,” she says. “We want people to be challenged, but we want the challenge to be fun.” (Not deterred? Then before you set foot on a course, study our Mud Run Training Guide.)

“I’m starting to worry about your friend friend,” a race staff member told Munetsi as dusk approached. By this time Weathers’s girlfriend had spent an hour desperately calling area hospitals as Munetsi and Morgan searched the course for injured runners and quizzed the on-site EMS workers. At 5:08 p.m., race coordinator Chasity Cooper called 911. “We have one of our participants that has never come through the finish line,” she told the dispatcher. By then Weathers’s family and members of his boot camp class were descending on LaGrave Field.

They wandered the riverbank all night, calling his name in the darkness. They waved their cellphones like beacons, hoping he might see the blue glow and call out. Fire department officials suggested to his Aunt Zenill that she and other family members come back in the morning; a storm was blowing in. “I will not leave this place until my baby is found,” she told them defiantly. People took fitful naps in their cars, then pulled on their jackets, and walked back out into the rain.

Divers arrived at dawn. A few hours later, they pulled Weathers’s body from the muddy waters of the Trinity, about 10 feet into the first crossing. The medical examiner ruled his death an accidental drowning.

As the news broke, the mud run’s Facebook page exploded with impassioned comments from people who believed the death was a tragic fluke, countered by those charging that the race endangered participants. Some noted the sagging guide rope and the overwhelmed lifeguards. Others speculated about Weathers’s skills, and how prepared he was.

The eeriest feeling for Westlake that Sunday morning was his utter lack of surprise that someone had drowned. “I don’t think swimming ability had anything to do with it,” he says. “You have to understand—if you’re wearing pants and boots, pretty much all your swimming ability is diminished.”

Munetsi didn’t need to check the news to know his friend was gone. He was sitting in church that morning, and suddenly, in a burst of despair, he just knew. He dropped his head and began to weep. He thinks about Weatherman often and is considering signing up for next year’s event, in the competitive division.

“It’s something he would want me to do,” Munetsi says. He believes that the greatest honor he can offer his friend would be crossing the finish line he never lived to see.

No one will ever know how Weathers became trapped beneath the water. Westlake is convinced that Weathers died trying to save another racer. “He was a great person from what I hear, so you could imagine if he saw somebody in trouble, he’d have tried to help.” If a terrified swimmer had been drawn to Weathers, buoyed by strength and confidence, and inadvertently pushed him under, his leaden boots might have dragged him to the bottom.

And that’s where his life ended.

However he spent his final moments, his family takes comfort in thinking his story may save someone still. Her nephew is dead, Traylor says, but she hopes that after hearing how he died, other racers might live to run another day.

Read more at Men’s Health: http://www.menshealth.com/health/mud-run-risk-factors?fullpage=true#ixzz2C7HtpfQn

Transitions

November 8, 2012

It has been a couple moons since I last wrote anything.   After my last race report, I was feeling too much deja vu.  Or was it deja poo?

Deja poo The feeling you've heard this crap before

It felt like I was starting to repeat myself.  It felt like I was starting to repeat myself.   I was almost crossing over to the world of boring.  I said “almost”.

Do people want to read about my race splits?  This weeks’ latest injury?  My uncanny ability to overcome adversity?  There seemed to be a certain repetition to the writing and I was at a loss as to how to get past that.   Plus, we are living in a world of instant gratification.  We used to have books that you would buy in bookstores and that has morphed into twitter feeds that you read on your phone.  The concept of writing seems…. quaint.  Out-dated.  Old-fashioned.  Do I want to be thought of as old-fashioned?  I guess technically you might say at 49½, I could be considered old but anyone that has seen me run knows how fashionable I am.  When is orange ever not in season?

http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/fc6604dcd5/old-man-runner  (This video serves as a physical manifestation of  the concept of myself as an old man and represents the eternal conflict of a man trying to withstand the ravages of time…Ahhh nuts…who am I kidding…it’s just funny and I couldn’t get this MotherFathering video to embed. It’s only 90 seconds and you can watch it at work without sound.  Watch it.  Now.  I’ll wait.).

So as of now I am not saying that I am abandoning Brizzle but it will probably be published a lot more randomly.  Like if I actually have something to say.  And of course, I will try not to bore you.

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So what’s up in the Land of Brizzle the past two months?  Well do I want to go all Facebook on your asses and tell you the weather report?  Is it necessary for you to read what my kids have been up to?  Why would any one want to know about my marriage?  Maybe it’s because we get to stalk some one else’s life and be grateful that we are not them.

Ok let me catch you up quickly.  Sage spent the last two months playing soccer like the rest of the Stepford Children in Santa Barbara.  So what does that mean for her Dad?  He gets to ref.  Did you know her dad really does not know the rules of soccer?  He never played before and really does not enjoy watching the game, even when his daughter is playing.  But that does not stop him from reffing (remember that earlier comment about the uncanny ability to overcome adversity?).  Poor kids.  As a bonus, her coach is a barber in town that works on Saturdays so we got to play all of our games at 8am which happens to coincide with our Saturday tempo runs.  How else has the girl decided to punish her parent?  Drama class.  I can tolerate a couple songs in a movie if the movie is really good, like Grease or ….well, like Grease.  The singer in our family though is all show tunes, all the time.  It’s like a bad radio station from hell.  Granted we all have our own versions of hell but in mine, the demons sing show tunes while playing soccer.

Just imagine he’s kicking a soccer ball too…

Now Caillou has been running.

He is on the Dos Pueblos Cross Country team but does not run any of the races.  There are 150 kids on the team and one of them does not races.  Sigh.  Maybe next year.  In the meanwhile the Dos Pueblos team been ranked number 1 in their division and their captain is number 1 in the country so we are expecting big things from them this weekend at the CIF prelims.  Track training starts soon.  We’ll see how the elitist runner does there.  In the meanwhile, he and a couple friends have started their own version of the Engineering Academy.  They are building robots to enter in competitions.  We are headed down to Pasadena next week to watch them in a competition.  I’ll report back.

The wife?  She always has some scheme up her sleeve.  The latest one had her going to LA to take a class to learn how to put on eyelash extensions.  Why? Why not!?!  How else are you going to go from this…

to this?

Fake Eyelashes

Or this?

It's love at fur sight!

And that brings us up to me.  Where have I been and what have I been doing?  Working on my bow hunting skills, my nunchuck skills, my computer hacking skills.  But mostly getting ready for a marathon.  With only a couple of days to go, I think it is fairly safe to say that I have successfully made it through an entire training cycle for the first time.  So that means that I am supposed to do better this time than I did the last time, right?  I did all of my track workouts and all of my tempos.  I put in high mileage weeks and worked hard to listen to what all my coaches said to do.    The real life coach, the online coach, the Do-as-I-Say-Not-As-I-Do Coach.  They know who they are.  And then I discovered the one thing that guarantees that this race will be a success

Last time I did not use all of my Jersey Style.  I forgot to put on hair gel!  But not this time.  This time I am going Full Jersey.  I can take advantage of additional electrolytes and added endurance.  I imagine the race photos will look particularly good this year.  Plus, if you notice…this is not regular endurance gel.  It goes to 11.

The French have a saying, if the training is difficult the war will be easy.    Bring it.

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This is kind of old news but it still seems relevant since he won the Santa Barbara Half Marathon (and the State Street Mile) last year.  Usually I am all high and mighty so when I am out running and I see a flock of cyclists I’m all, “hey look at the dopers” but now I will be more careful with my words because they may start to say that to me.  Except probably they would say “hey look at the hair geller”…

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/15/sports/runner-christian-hesch-describes-doping-with-epo.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2&

In Chase for Wins, a Runner Cheats

Marcus Yam for The New York Times

Christian Hesch, a runner, said he used a banned substance for an injury. Then he kept winning.

By STEPHEN KASICA

Published: October 14, 2012

Marcus Yam for The New York Times

Mr. Hesch said he injected the banned substance EPO 54 times in two years before he was caught.

Hesch, 33, a competitive runner, had bought the banned blood booster erythropoietin, known as EPO, at a pharmacy in Tijuana, Mexico, and was driving home to Hollywood, Calif. He ordinarily preferred to do push-ups to prime his veins, but he did not want to pull off the highway so close to Tijuana.

With one hand on the wheel, he recalled later, he slowly inserted the needle into his forearm. He pressed the plunger into the barrel and forced the clear liquid into his vein. After removing the needle, he put down the syringe and rubbed his finger over the puncture mark. After three years, he was proud that he had never left a bruise.

Hesch, a self-described “profligate road racer,” said that over two years, beginning in August 2010, he injected himself with EPO 54 times before an empty EPO vial was found in his bag and he was reported to antidoping officials. In that time, he won nearly $40,000 in prize money in more than 75 races, including international competitions, United States championships and local road races.

“You get a little money at one race, maybe $1,500 at another,” Hesch said. “And it adds up quickly.”

Last week, the United States Anti-Doping Agency released details of what it described as a sophisticated doping scheme involving Lance Armstrong, one of many cases in recent years that have linked star athletes to doping. Hesch’s story illuminates a different end of the sports doping spectrum, away from the power, money and glamour of Tour de Francechampions, home run kings and Olympic gold medalists.

Hesch, who has been a competitive runner since 2001, said he wanted to publicly admit to doping for the first time because he was facing punishment from antidoping officials. His justification for doping stemmed from this harsh reality: A few runners obtain lucrative shoe contracts and compete in a handful of high-profile, televised races; the rest are ordinary weekend runners. On Saturday mornings they lace up their running shoes and slip on dry-fit T-shirts like anyone else.

Hesch exists somewhere in the middle. He supports himself running full time without a sponsorship by cherry-picking road races across the country, favoring the ones with the largest purses and the least competitive fields.

This job does not come with workers’ compensation. In May 2010, Hesch was cross-training on his bicycle along Highway 1 in California between San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay when he was hit by a car.

“It was one of those instances I should have been dead,” Hesch said.

He picked himself off the road and received only six stitches to his left elbow, a few deep bruises, minor road rash and a dislocated shoulder. He was able to walk away from the accident but was not able to train adequately for nearly five months.

For the fall racing season, he decided he deserved some extra help to get back on track.

“My justification was that if I used it for three weeks, was running three weeks after that, then I’ll race in another two to three weeks, and, theoretically, I’ll have all the benefits out of my system,” he said.

EPO is a hormone that stimulates red blood cell production and, thus, oxygen-carrying capacity. Quietly obtaining it in Southern California was easy, Hesch said, and cheap.

He made the two-hour drive to Tijuana three times. On this first visit, another runner recommended pharmacies that other Southern Californian runners preferred. But since then he has chosen to find his own.

He bought a month’s supply: 18 vials holding 1 cubic centimeter of concentrated EPO for $400. Athletes say they feel dramatic effects after six doses, or six vials, said Dr. Michael Ashenden, director of the Science and Industry Against Blood doping research organization.

In the privacy of a bathroom stall, Hesch held the vials against his inner thigh, secured them under his shorts with plastic wrap and walked back across the border. On the next two trips he simply stuffed the vials into his pockets.

“You get a little nervous when you just brought it back into the country,” he said, recalling the first trip. “You just want to start driving and get away from the border because you feel the dirtiness of what you just did. Yet you have the EPO in the seat next to you, and you can’t escape it.”

In 2009, Hesch had been studying to be a paramedic, and this experience equipped him with some knowledge about how to administer his own doping program, he said. The first day would include two shots, one in each arm. He would give himself a shot once a day for the next two days. Then he would end his three- to four-week program with shots every other day.

In mid-September 2010, a month after starting the first program, he found that the percentage of red blood cells in his blood shot to 51.7 from 44. Monitoring the red blood cell levels was easy, too. A county health clinic offered anonymous testing, and Hesch got his blood work back by making up a story about having just returned from altitude.

Taking EPO in this amount and in this frequency is “a huge program,” Ashenden said.

“But it’s old school,” Ashenden added. “No athlete would dare do that program nowadays if they were subject to testing, as they’d be blown out of the water. You only need six injections to get pretty dramatic effects.”

But it took two more years and two more regimens, each lasting four weeks, before Hesch’s performances showed drastic improvement, Hesch said.

At 7 a.m. on Aug. 19, Hesch toed the starting line at the Rock ’n’ Roll Providence Half Marathon in Providence, R.I. In a field of more than 5,000 runners, Hesch raced to the front alongside Ethiopia’s Fikadu Lemma and Demesse Tefera.

Lemma took the lead, and Hesch, as any other experienced road runner would, tucked in behind him and drafted. His legs felt strong, but sluggish, as they clipped along averaging almost 12 miles per hour. Hesch had run a four-minute mile two days before at the GNC Live Well Liberty Mile in Pittsburgh, finishing fourth.

Through the first several miles of the half-marathon, Hesch said, the lead pack went out at what he felt like was a jogging pace. They began to accelerate and pull away from the group of runners behind them.

“Your running feels like what you imagine when you see all those Kenyan runners floating down the road,” Hesch said about competing with the aid of EPO. “And two to three weeks in your cycle, you start feeling like that yourself.”

At Mile 10, Tefera fell behind, and Lemma looked at Hesch as if to say, “Are you going to do any of the work?” Hesch took the lead and decided to test him with another surge. Lemma eventually pulled off to the side and started jogging.

Easing into the finish chute in his Team USA jersey, Hesch stopped a foot away from the finish line, laid down on his stomach on the road, took a whiff of the asphalt centimeters from his nose and performed five push-ups, a pre-victory celebration.

With Lemma sprinting toward him, Hesch smiled and got back on his feet. He broke the finishing tape with his hands above his head.

It was the last race he won before Nike Team Run LA teammates found an empty vial and confronted him.

“It was a weird situation to be in because you only read about top athletes doping,” said Justin Patananan, the captain for the Nike Team Run LA men’s group. “We gave Christian the liberty of dealing with Usada when he thought the time was right.”

When Usada officials confronted him by phone in late September, Hesch was initially inclined to fight the accusations. Over the last two and a half years, he said, he was never required to perform a drug test at any race, including the five-kilometer national championships and the Fifth Avenue Mile in New York City. He also was not tested when he represented Team USA at the Armagh International Road Race in Ireland.

But as he followed Usada’s case against Armstrong, he decided to come clean.

“It would be fairly expensive if I wanted to fight it,” Hesch said. “Usada only brings cases when they’re pretty sure, and this is coming from a guy with a pending case.”

On Sept. 26, Usada requested that Hesch not compete until the terms of his suspension have been resolved.

He faces a ban of up to two years. Regardless of what Usada decides, Hesch said he will regret losing many of the privileges and friendships that allowed him to live a running lifestyle. Many races do not allow athletes who have been caught doping to accept prize money or free room and board.

“I fully accept whatever punishment I have coming,” Hesch said. “It’s my bed. I made it. Now I get to sleep in it.”

Hesch maintains that he never raced on EPO but used it to recover from injuries.

“Maybe this is my cue to walk away, but I’m real tempted to make a real clear point that I can and have run all those times perfectly clean. It’s not that difficult to run these times, and it doesn’t take any outside help.”

Climbing Mountains

September 6, 2012

The last time I ran Pier to Peak was in 2010.  I recruited  two elite Support Girls with the idea that they would peel grapes, spritz me with mineral water and fan me while I meandered my way up the mountain.  Apparently, I was not clear enough with my instructions to the Support Girls, however,  so my  first meeting with them was after the finish line.  After a tough uphill run on a hot, dry morning, I was pretty dehydrated, somewhat heat-exhausted and frustrated from not hitting my time goal when I saw them for the first time.  Unfortunately, I was not nice when I saw them.  My mouth blurted out words that bypassed the filter that a less tired brain would not have used.  I have been apologizing since.

Months Ago Tags Ecards Jokes Inappropriate Jokes Youre Welcome Funny

Two years have passed.  Shannon and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary last week.  Was I brave enough to ask her again to ride support for me this year?  I began to think of ways marriages are like marathons.  They are too long and it is easy to get hurt come quickly to mind.  You are not supposed to cheat.           (This article really was fascinating  by the way.  Not only cyclists cheat… http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/08/06/120806fa_fact_singer?currentPage=all)

There is a big time commitment.  They start off really fun and you are really optimistic but then there are tough stages that are difficult to endure.  But where a marathon gets harder as time goes on, marriages are supposed to get easier.  Key words being “supposed to”.  I had kissed enough butt for the last two years that I was willing to ask.

For some reason,she said yes.  But then I threw a curveball at her.  Hey, instead of driving our car, you are going to be driving Rob’s Tahoe.  Ummm…ok.  Sorry about that All-The-Other-Drivers-On-Gibraltar-Road-That-Day.  The Little Missus has a habit of looking at you while she is driving.  Or looking at runners.  Or Squirrels.  Just not necessarily the road.  But Rob’s wife told him before he left that she would be thrilled if the car never came back sooooo….

The guys had all trained together for the past few weeks and we decided to ride down to the start together.  The training had been good with very little hill work, the weather was mostly cooperating and we even had a blue moon to send us off.  When the race started, we ran as a Pack of Sausages for the first five miles and then we slowly began separating.

Preparing to toss sweaty shirt to lucky fan…
(L to R) Gene, Jeff, Mark, Brian, Rob

I could tell at that point that the race would be a grind.  Yeah, I know…it always is but I was not feeling as perky as I would have liked to.  Could the Summer-of -No-Days-Off been a mistake?  Mebbe…

I’ll spare you the parts where I discuss my splits and give you excuses about dead quads and I’ll just skip right to the ending.  I missed my goal by 59 seconds.    I have now run this race 5 times and my times were 2:50, 2:25, 2:15, 2:07, and now 2:00 in that order.  At least they are going in the right direction.  I am almost ready to declare myself a distance runner.  Maybe next year.  Then again, maybe next year I will tie my shoes better so I won’t have to stop and re-tie them.

Maybe next year I won’t stop to listen to Katy Perry sing about Fireworks.   Perhaps I will not stop to get introduced to Kelly’s husband.  Or maybe I will just pick up the pace and run 5 seconds per mile faster and still do all of those things.  At least I have a reason to come back next year now.

I may have been the slowest but at least I am the tallest…

So now the search begins for my next challenge.  I have already been notified by some of the boys that they will be training to run the Santa Barbara Marathon.   I know they all look up to me as their leader but I was not really planning to do a marathon this year.  Perhaps it is time to give them the Key Cleaner Test…

Electrical Socket Key Cleaner

Wildwood

August 30, 2012

The experiment is winding down.  On Tuesday I hit 60 days of consecutive running.  For someone who is frequently hurt, it was probably a pretty stupid experiment to try but people do not accuse me of being an overly smart runner….doesn’t follow paces, usually goes out too fast, needs to work on turnover… but I am good at being stubborn.  In running, that can be an okay thing.  Plus….Kenyan.  And injuries are so 2011.

Bye, Snookie!  Bye, Situation!  Bye, Jwoww!

Well the past couple weeks I went home to Jersey to visit with friends and family.  I continued to run but added some humidity to my environment and changed my diet.  I pretty much went full carbs…pizza, pasta, cheesesteaks, diners… and resumed pronouncing the “aw” in words like coffee and dog.  I knew that I would be running a race in Wildwood at the end of the week and I was excited to do so.    On the plane ride to Jersey, I read an article in USA Today on the latest stats for the obesity rates in each state.  Mississippi was the worst at 34.9% and I figured NJ couldn’t be too far behind so I would do great in the race.  Well as it turns out, NJ was in the top 5 for skinniest states, one place in front of California.  How the hell did that happen?

So now I was worried…what if all of those fit Jerseyans are in the race?  Was there some way I would still be able to compete?  The answer came to me in a boardwalk epiphany…I must go Full Jersey and that could only mean one thing…tattoos.

I know what you are thinking…those tattoos must be HUGE!  How else could they fill up that much space?

The conversion complete, it was time to run.

Alright, enough of the build-up.  The race organizers had scheduled the race to coincide with high tide.  Yay, there goes the idea of a fast time.  The first mile and a half or so gave you a choice… run in sand the consistency of wet cement or run in sand the consistency of fine powder.

I started off as best as I could to straddle the inch of sand between wet and dry and I got pretty close to the front of the pack.  Then I remembered that in my 10th grade geometry class we had learned that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.  I will ignore the water and just run straight.  Duh.  In 8th grade we must have learned that sneakers soaked in water quickly quadruple in weight.  How had I forgotten that lesson?  Ok, so now there were two 4 lb blocks on each foot trying to run through soft sand

I finally made it to the boardwalk.  Had the whole race been on the boardwalk, I would have easily broken a world record just like in all of the other imaginary races I do not run.  The problem now was that my legs were wobbly from the effort in the sand.

But as usually happens in these races, the cream eventually rises to the top.  Normally, I am not the cream.

However, there are times where the creamee becomes the creamer (did he really just write that?!?).  When I checked the results after the race, I came in third overall out of 170 finishers.  I was psyched to finally have my name called and step on to the podium to get my bronze medal.

But my buddy Paul and Sage, while excited for my success, were just as excited to leave so we could go get pancakes.  Perhaps you yourself have realized that no one really cares about our running success, even when it is the sweet success of a 3rd place finish.  I agreed to leave but not before at least getting one shot of a man desperately trying to see what it would have felt like if the waffles were not more important.

As it turns out, when the official results were posted, I came in 4th, not 3rd.  I would not have been on the podium so pancakes were the right decision.  Real life wins again

Random shot of guy at race who probably just sat on a wet bench but I imagine funnier things

New Jersey Smells </p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>Like Old Jersey </p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>Funny </p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>T-Shirt” /></p>
<p>Since my legs passed the test, I tried to sign up for Pier to Peak but surprise….online registration was closed.  I debated banditing it, but in the end I drove down to Jake’s house and delivered a check.  See you at the top of the mountain</p>
				</div>

				<p class= Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments »

Olympic

August 14, 2012

If you are reading this, you know I am already gone.  These are my last wishes which I have put into this blog so that they could be entered into the record.

Now that the Olympics are over, may I say that I am officially Olymptic’ed off.  If all they want to show are events that take place in pools, they should call these games the Splashalympics or maybe the Aqualympics.  I work during the daytime so I did not see any events live except on weekends.  No, what I saw on the network broadcast each night was synchronized platform diving.  For four nights in a row.  When it gets to the point where you feel like you could competently judge this event, you know it has been too much. When I was a little kid, we used to watch the Olympics live.  And they had people that ran in races around a track. Those were the days.  In my online searches to try and find a replay of some of the races I wanted to see, I came across this race that I remember from my youth.  All the kids started to wear hats afterwards and you know I am partial to the 800 meters and a good comeback Other than the 800, I thought the 10k race was great and the 100 meter run was very watchable.  This interactive about the 100 meter graphic was very interesting. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/08/05/sports/olympics/the-100-meter-dash-one-race-every-medalist-ever.html?smid=pl-share

And that’s all I want to say on the Olympics.

See ya on the other side of Jersey

Training

August 10, 2012

If you are married to me I will save you some time and let you know that this post is kind of running oriented so you could stop here if you want…

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The current record holder for most consecutive days running is a fellow by the name of Ron Hill.  Ron started his streak in December 1964 and by my back-of-the-napkin calculations, he is somewhere in the neighborhood of  17,400 days without missing a run.  In my Amazing Summer of Running, I have made it up to 42 days.  In my world, that is a huge number and I feel like I am getting stronger and just the fact that I have not hurt myself is impressive in and of itself.   The target for all of this running is, of course, Pier to Peak.

I find goals as useful motivation for training and while I do not love Pier to Peak, at least it is not along a bike path but it is long enough to provide a good target for the training.  As part of the training process, I decided to consult with Rusty on the appropriate way to prepare for this race.  In the past I always just added runs up Old San Marcos or Gibraltar and called it good.  Rusty said it was also unnecessary.  He told me the speed work and the tempo workouts we do are plenty and as long as I just kept my mileage up, there was no need for me to tire myself out by running up hills.  Go figure.  I, of course, did what any other runner would do when you are confronted with advice that contradicts what you thought was the right way.  I got a second opinion.

I went to Mike Swan and asked him if hypothetically, one was to run Pier to Peak, what would be an appropriate way to train.  Mike basically seconded everything that Rusty had told me.  He threw in that if I wanted to run the hills hard on the Thursday Hope Ranch run, that would be ok but there was no need for the Old San Marcos shuffle.  Well, I may be stubborn but I ain’t stupid.  I am going to give the no mountain-climbing training a try.  It is probably sound advice and plus, If I don’t hit my goal then I could blame the coaching.

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running running running

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Cheap

The times when I would get excited about getting a new pair of sneakers or running shoes ended when I was about 10 years old.  I wear my shoes now until my toes come out.  About the only thing I care about now is that the shoe is light.  And it can’t look like Herman Munster would wear it.  And it can’t hurt my foot like my flippin’ Adidas trail shoes do.  I plan to kill them soon.  But otherwise, I buy a pair of shoes and just wear them till they are dead.  I was thinking about the Brooks shoes that I currently wear and I am guessing that I have about 1200 miles on them by now.  As far as I am concerned, they look fine and I feel fine wearing them so no need to get new ones, right?  Well I was curious about that so I chatted up Runblogger. He teaches exercise physiology so he knows a little bit about the subject and he confirmed what we intuitively know….as long as it feels good, wear it.  But he also pointed me to an interesting article by the University of Virginia Center for Endurance Sports

http://uvaendurosport.wordpress.com/2011/05/16/do-shoes-have-feelings/

(I think it proves that you are a true running nerd if you make it all the way to the end of this article and are actually interested in the subject matter)

Do shoes have feelings ?

Let’s say you are out for a night on the town. Your significant other turns to you and says how do you like my outfit? Unless you answer this question perfectly (still not sure how to answer this even after many years of marriage!) you may notice that your significant other withdraws for a while to cool off. Could be a few minutes, could be for the night, but this time away allows things to mellow and return to a state of bliss yet again. What does this have to do with shoes?

It’s common practice for a lot of runners to have multiple pairs of shoes at one time. The thought process behind this has been that running in a shoe breaks down the cushioning properties of the shoe, and it takes time for it to rebound before your next run.

Well, Let’s look at some objective information on this subject. This is not going to turn into a discussion of minimal shoes vs. traditional construction. We are simply going to look at what happens to the properties of the midsole itself. The midsole is the squishy part of the shoe that lies between your foot and the tread. Its commonly made of a chemical compound called ethyl-vinyl acetate (EVA). Shoe manufacturers manipulate properties of the midsole to get their shoe to perform a certain way. Obviously a minimal shoe has less of this midsole material in it then a traditionally constructed shoe, but they both have some type of cushioning material between the foot and the shoe tread.

As you run, you are applying mechanical forces to the shoe itself. These forces physically break down the midsole. In fact, lets look at this at the microscopic level. The following picture is from a study (1) that looked at the state of the midsole at various points in the shoe’s lifespan. In fig A, you are looking at an electron micrograph cross section of a brand new shoe. It’s easy to see the outline of the well defined air pockets in the midsole. This intact formation allows the midsole to perform as it was designed. Fig B shows a cross section of the midsole after 500 kilometers (310 mi). This type of magnification allows you to see that the edges of the former well defined air pockets are now frayed and weakened. Finally, Fig C shows the midsole after 750 Kilometers (466 mi). It is now possible to see that the majority of the air pores are frayed, and in fact some of them have actually deformed enough to create holes. Thus, the structural properties of this midsole material are now very different from what they originally were when new. While your body can repair tissues that have been affected from mechanical stresses in running, your shoes cannot. Resting your shoes by the front door between runs won’t reverse these changes.

While it’s probably a good thing to be nice to your shoes (running in wet environments with no chance to dry out may accelerate breakdown of the midsole), they don’t have feelings. You can pound on them day in and day out  – even 2 runs in the same day. The breakdown of the material in your shoe is cumulative. So what happens to our gait as shoes breakdown?

A 2009 article (2) revealed that running in worn shoes caused the runner to increase their stance time (time spent on the leg) and alter their lower leg range of motion in order to keep forces on the body somewhat constant. What does this mean? As your shoes break down, the body will slightly alter its gait style adapt to the gradual changes that occur in the shoe itself.  When do these gait alterations reach critical mass (causing injury if you don’t buy new shoes)? Shoe breakdown is variable depending on the runner’s mass, running surfaces, and gait style. I know runners who note that they become injured if they put more than 250 miles on their shoes, and I know runners that put well over 1200 miles on a single pair. The old school rule of thumb states 400-500 miles, and is likely a good starting point based on the research stated above.

Happy Running!

  1. Verdejo, R. , Mills NJ. Heel-shoe interactions and the durability of EVA foam running-shoe midsoles. J Biomech. 2004. Sept; 37(9):1379-86.
  2. Kong, PW., Candelaria, NG., Smith, DR. Running in new and worn shoes: a comparison of three types of cushioning footwear. Br J Sports Med 2009 43: 745-749

Ok, that’s all the Brizzle you get for a little while.  Headed back to Jersey on Tuesday with Sage.  Still hoping I can run The Wildwood 5k the following Saturday so I’ll write that up when I get back.  Stay gold.

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P.S.  Suck it, County of Santa Barbara speeding ticket!  I out-geeked ‘em, John…

Betsy

July 31, 2012

I was thinking back to the good old days.  In December of 2009, I ran my first marathon.  It was an exciting time because this was going to be the rebirth of the marathon in Santa Barbara and we were all psyched to support Rusty in his new endeavor.  The weeks leading up to the marathon were spent in our groups doing tempos and speed work together.  I put in many long hours with good old Group 4 that year but when I look around now, where are they?  Rob had knee surgery, Phil has something like a hernia, Susie finally caught my dead leg, Jerry and Dave are always fighting some sort of injury,  Brett returned to his ultra roots, Hari moved away and Fred focuses on triathlons.

And then there was Betsy.  Betsy and I always ran together.  Betsy was four years older than I and still always beat me in our tempos.  I had the speed and she had the endurance.  I would always go out fast and eventually, I learned to identify Betsy by the sound of her footfall behind me as she would slowly reel me in and then pass me.  That scenario played out exactly in the marathon as she finished precisely one minute in front of me after passing me on Shoreline Drive.  We both qualified for Boston but Betsy decided to just plug away and ran Boston in April of 2010 while I decided to wait a year.  After two marathons in less than six months, Betsy’s body told her no more and she had to stop running for awhile.  I was very excited when about a month ago I saw her return to practice and we connected right away.  She told me all about her trip to Turkey this summer and how she had spent a night in prison there.  She looked great running for someone that was just starting up again and I looked forward to seeing her each week.  She said she was going to start back at the track on Tuesday morning.  Well misery loves company so I thought that was great.

When I came home from work yesterday Shan told me she had some bad news.  Betsy had been in a bike crash on Las Positas and was in a coma.  I subsequently learned that she has a broken pelvis and collar bone.  Doctors are going to wait 48 hours until the swelling on her brain goes down before they operate.  She is in the ICU at Cottage Hospital but she is starting to be responsive, thank God.

These kind of events make us think about the people that come into and out of our lives and how fragile life can be.  Betsy is a tough woman and I know in my heart she will come out of this ok.  You know that Brizzle is never serious but I just wanted to let people know  what has happened to my friend  and ask that all keep her in your thoughts.

Betsy with another Group 4 MIA, Angie. Betsy knows I am not a good photographer so this is the best I got

Safe

July 27, 2012

I am what is known in the running world as….safe.  My attachment in a dream marriage to a beautiful woman for almost twenty years allows others to have a sense of security with me that is the perfect cover.

Now when I say “others”, of course you know I am talking about pretty women runners.  Throw in a couple of kids that I was able to flawlessly parent and the illusion of safe is complete.

Our running community is such that we all have our real spouses and then we have our running husbands and wives.  If I was to just randomly name any given runner in our group, odds are you probably could name who their running husband or wife is.  In all likelihood, you may not have any clue who their real spouse is.  Especially if their spouse is anything like my spouse and could give a rat’s ass about running.  Sorry to throw you under the bus Shan but I am just making a point.

Many of us spend quite a bit of time with our running spouses.  I use the plural form of the word because as most of you are aware of, I am quite polygamous in Running World.  In the real world, if I engaged in such behavior I would be called any one of many derogatory terms .  Hussy.  Tramp.  Floozy.  Perhaps you could think of others not created in the 18th century.  But I digress….we spend quality time with our running spouses.  If it is just a casual run, what else is there to do but talk?  One can only bring up the weather or sports so many times.  Eventually, you work your way up to politics.  Religion.  Sex (Well ok, maybe we are not that brave but I’m just throwing it out there as a potential topic of conversation in case any of the spouses read this).  Ultimately, you hit the electrified third rail of conversation…relationships.  When you run with someone of the opposite sex, it is very easy to give too much TF&E….thoughts, feelings and emotions regarding your real spouse.  But often it is useful to get that neutral third party to look at the story with a different lens.  And being an expert on the topic with many years of experience, I am frequently asked for this kind of advice.

There are certain rules of engagement that must be followed when running with members of the opposite sex.  One of the most important is that you always chew gum.  The likelihood of your coach saying that everybody should do a 3-mile tempo and then make out is remote but does fresh breath really ever go out of style?  And of course, every spouse gets the Asteroid Exception.  If you happen to be on a run with your running spouse and you see a huge asteroid hurtling to Earth and you know you have less than a minute to live, it is perfectly acceptable to make out.  Provided you have fresh breath.

Another consideration is the sweaty hug.  Many runners tend to dress in as little clothes as they can get away with, especially when it gets hot out, and as a result of all of that running, we sweat.  Now what is the proper length of time for a sweaty hug?  When does the hug cross the line from casual to creepy?  In my expert opinion, the right number is 3 seconds.  And it can not involve any sort of grinding.  Running spouses need to respect the space below the waist and keep at least enough distance that a beam of sunlight could pass through.  In a lot of ways, it will look like a Man Hug.  I would say the pat on the back is optional.

Activities need to be contemplated carefully.  It is perfectly fine to run half-naked for hours on end with your sweaty running spouse on isolated trails but other undertakings need general rules.  Is it ok to go to the movies with your running spouse?  Sure, but let’s be reasonable.  The movie should be a matinee and it needs to be more like The Avengers  rather than Unfaithful (It is here that I must mention this rule does not apply to Hall Passes and my wife already knows that Diane Lane is on my Hall Pass list in case we ever run together).    Can you go to coffee with your Running Spouse?  Absolutely, especially after a run.  What about a race that is out of the area…is it ok to share a room with your Running Spouse?  Here is where it gets a little tricky.  It is somewhat counter-intuitive but if it was just one on one, this would probably be a violation.  Ironically though, add another woman to the room and…voila!  Problem solved.  When has a guy ever gotten in trouble with two girls at the same time?

I couldn’t possibly go through all of the scenarios you could get mixed up with your Running Spouse but I am happy to answer your questions on this most intriguing topic.  Just submit your questions to the unauthorized expert that writes this blog.

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Some of them are worse than others but they are all self-submitted so beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  I know I could upload a few of mine.  But am I really that desperate for attention?  Follow the link…

Brian Philadelphia Marathon November 20, 2011

http://uglyracepics.tumblr.com/

Oooooo….great idea for a new website….rate the runner.  Runners upload their photos and then we rate them.  Who wants to set that up for me?  I am more judgy than techie…

The Summer Update

July 20, 2012

People are always coming up to me and asking, “Hey Briz, how come you never talk about what your running plans are for this summer?  We love to read about other people’s running and we find your schedules so particularly interesting”.  Of course, these are not REAL people but that does not mean I won’t still share those plans with you.

So get comfortable…this could take a minute.  I started running again about January 1st of this year.  I have the same bumps and nicks that any other runner would suffer but nothing has been serious enough to keep me from missing a run. I feel like I have been able to keep my plantars just under the edge of inflaming and my quad goes out regularly but who cares.

A confluence of events in June occurred.  For my birthday, I was gifted the book Running With the Kenyans.  I say the title the same way that David Lee Roth would sing it.

fishmunky - running with the devil

The gist of the book is that the author is trying to find out the secret to the success of the Kenyans.  Near as I can figure,  without giving away the ending, the only secret he comes up with is that the Kenyans run all the time.  It’s the same reason that Brazilians grow up to be great soccer players.  The Kenyans start running when they are 2 years old and never stop.  It is part of their culture.  So I says to myself, myself I says, “Briz, why don’t you just go Kenyan all over their asses and run everyday this summer”?  That is a very new concept for me.  I have always been a run-4-days-a-week guy and go to the gym the other days.  But I let my Spectrum membership lapse since I have not been injured so I figured, why not fill the off days with running?  I started on June 30th and have not missed a day since.  Now obviously I know all about the importance of rest so I would not attempt to do this long-term but I figure I could do it for the summer at least.  My mileage will not be crazy but I plan to run at least a little every day and then have the ultimate goal be to see how I can do at Pier to Peak.  Then I can be in mad crazy shape for when Cross Country season starts in the fall.  Oh wait, that’s the boy and he is pretty much slacking his way through the summer.  But that’s a story for another blog.

I have also started to run the trails again.  This week we had a marriage of Scott DeVores’ trail group with the Santa Barbara Trail Runner group and we did half of the 9 Trails course.  31 people started out on the happy trail to Badassdom.  I knew most of the peeps but not everyone.

The morning started off like any other Mugly morning (I was trying for a combination of muggy and July there but I think it looks more like a combination of mug and ugly).  This is the only time I appreciate the fog.  Most of the other time, I gripe about it.  For better or worse, the 9 Trails race went away after the fires we had and was replaced by the Red Rock 50 Mile run.  I still don’t have it in my head that I would ever want to run 50 miles over trails.  Anyways, one way covered Romero-Buena Vista-San Ysidro Fire Road-Hot Springs Connector-Cold Springs East Fork-Cold Springs West Fork (Gibralter rd.)-Rattlesnake Connector-Tunnel and finally, the Baby Jesus  and was about 17 miles.

As you know, I prefer to not run with dudes but I had to here otherwise I would have gotten lost.  I called our three-pack The Awesomes since The Incredibles was already taken.  It took us about 3 hours and 45 minutes to finish.  After a hard workout on Saturday, I was feeling pretty Kenyan.   We earned our burgers.

Thanks to Nancy for sitting up at the No Shooting sign and giving us cold watermelon.  Does everybody remember how amazing cold watermelon tastes after a run?

Ok, the other run I want to do this summer is a 5k when I head back to Jersey in August.  It’s an add on to a triathlon so I figure all of the Jack-of-all-trades will be racing the triathlon leaving the 5k wide open for a specialist like myself to sneak in for a win.  Well, even if I don’t win it will be a good race since it is short, at the beach and part of the course goes on the boardwalk.  And plus I am Kenyan now.  I went online to look for just the right Kenyan name for myself and I finally settled on Keambiroiro.  It means Mountain of Blackness.  I’m sure the Guidos will just call me moulie.

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If you saw this, would you think to yourself, why didn’t she duck?

epic fail pictures

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Hoping this video inspires some of the girls in my group


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