Friday, December 16, 2011

I Want You

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Buy War Bonds

When a good man goes to war, he needs your support.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Nothing to report

Seriously, nothing. I went to Ortho today on the advice of my PT and their only advice is to wear a heel lift. Great. That's totally going to make it heal up really fast now! I figure I should be ready to run again just as the temperature turns from an unusually warm winter straight into -20 degrees. Being injured sucks. Being somewhat injured but knowing you can't run because you'll make it worse is just an excruciating agony.

So since I can't run I suppose I will be

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Still Not Running

It's been a month since the marathon and I am still not running due to the issue with my Achilles. (ok, I ran once) It is still swollen and sore so I'm still icing, stretching, going to PT..blah, blah...I even got a Strassburg Sock on the advice of my therapist. And here I am still waiting. And getting fatter. And being super-pissed that it is 60 degrees outside and I'm not running.

Time to get back on the horse (figuratively of course) and get back to training. 2012 will be here soon and I've got big plans for the next year. I can feel all that speed just flowing out of my legs and fading away. Need to run!

Four! Four weeks of not running! Ah ah ah ah.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Wrentham Halloween Duathlon

Postponed from last week due to the snow which means it suddenly fit into my schedule. I've been wanting to do this race for a couple of years so the timing was great. I pulled out the bike, which hadn't been touched in four months, and dug out my shoes, which also hadn't been touched in three weeks, and got ready for my first duathlon!

Realistically I had no idea what I was doing, but I figured that was part of the fun so just go with it. With an extra hour of sleep courtesy of daylight saving time I was ready to race even if it was only 24 degrees out. Really, 24? That's just freakin cold. I'm not a big fan of riding in the cold so I wasn't sure how that was going to go over.

I arrived at the venue, got my number and made my way to the transition area to rack my bike. Now it seems to me that triathletes spend a lot of time setting up and getting everything perfect, at least that's what I gather from all the race reports. So here I was expecting a big to-do and having to get all my gear and stuff just right. Really though, I hung my bike on the rail, put down a towel with my shoes and set my helmet and gloves on the bike. It took like ten seconds.

Race time! No gun, just a "Go!" and off we ran. I figured I would run a conservative 6:30 so I stuck to that and was surprised to see that the leaders weren't that far ahead. Cool. Three miles went by quick and I was doing ok, not great but ok. On to the bike! My first transition ever! This was going to be awesome. I ran int o the area, put down my running gloves, pulled off my shoes, put on my bike shoes, and finished with the helmet and bike gloves. Grabbed the bike and it was time to have fun!

Ow. Remember when I said that I hadn't biked in awhile? Yeah, it took a couple of miles for the crotch to get used to the saddle again. But I was passing people! Hooray for me! Then I got passed by other people. Boo. By mile 5 or so everyone was pretty set so no more passing around me. Everything was going good, I wasn't cold and I was moving along ok. Mile 6.5 my leg starting cramping, ouch. I kept going, it was either going to seize up or not. No time to worry about it. Eleven miles flew by and I began to wonder if I should become a bike racer instead of a runner, so much easier. No! Time for transition 2.

I got right up to the transition area and jumped off my bike and, HOLY MOTHER OF GOD! Why won't my legs work right?! So I gingerly and slowly jogged my way back to my area. Did the reverse transition, running shoes back on, running gloves, etc. and ran (um, jogged) back onto the road. Two miles left to go so I dug deep and powered my way to a brisk 7:30 pace. Really, 7:30? Come on legs, quit complaining and move! Surprisingly they did. I managed to finish off the two miles with a 6:45 average. I can live with that. Crossed the finish line in 1:09:29 and I had official done my first duathlon! Yeah me! Oh, and I managed to get 3rd in my AG (Men 35-39). Sweet.

Run 1 (3 mile) - 19:21 Cat/Ov 3/15
T1 - 1:19
Bike (11 mile) - 34:12 3/24
T2 - 1:20
Run 2 (2 mile) - 13:15 2/14
Overall - 1:09:29 3/17


Hee hee, look at those transition times. Ouch.
Other notable racers in attendance: Tracey Jones, Melissa Bair (3rd AG), and Lisa Perna (2nd AG).

Sunday, November 6, 2011

First duathlon

Sitting in the parking lot getting ready for my first duathlon, the Wrentham Halloween Duathlon. It's local, it looks like fun,  it's festive. Should be fun!  It's 24 degrees out and I'm wearing shorts. What have I gotten myself into?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Week of Debauchery

Has come to a close.

After every marathon I allow myself to just do whatever I want for a week. No worries about what I'm eating or drinking or whatever. Months of training and worrying about all of the details can stress out even the hardiest of souls so you need to take some time to let go every so often. It just so happens that this past week coincided with both my daughter's birthday and my brother's birthday party. So there was plenty of cake and cookies to stuff myself with. It didn't help much that I was responsible for baking many of those cookies so I always had a supply on hand.

They may be baked but that doesn't mean they can't be awesome

But with the week behind me it's time to settle back in to a more reasonable diet and to start to focus on the future. I have at least one more week of no running to go in order to get my achilles back to normal and then I can get back out on the roads. My fitness level is higher than it has ever been so I don't want to blow it all with too much punch and pie and too little exercise. There are always more races to be had and singlets to look good in.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen

I would like to introduce you to the newest member of the sub-3 hour marathon club:

Me!

Woohoo!! All the training and preparation paid off as everything fell in to place at today's BayState Marathon. The weather was near ideal (could have used less wind and more cloud cover) with a starting temperature of 55 degrees and low humidity. The fear that my achilles would end up causing an issue proved to be for naught; it wasn't even a factor. My calves hurt most of the race but they held up and there was no cramping. All those months of training had made me into a mean, lean, running, well, not really a machine but more of a person who ran really well.

I was lucky enough to fall into a group of four (and later five) that all ran the same pace for the first half. We traded off being the person in front so we all got some relief from the wind. One of the runners was a female who ended up doing a 3:03 (and score second in the 40-49 division). It was nice running with her for so long. Everyone kept yelling out her name and I was so impressed at how many people she knew! Then I remembered that our names were on our numbers. Doh!

After the halfway mark I was all alone, literally. Strangely enough, no one was within 20 feet of me for more than a short period for almost the entire second half. Weird.

I was nervous on approaching mile 18 because Mary had told me that if I get to mile 18 and want to die "YOU HAVE DONE IT RIGHT" (accent hers). So as I hit mile 18 I realized that I didn't want to die. The calves hurt but that was about it. It was then that I knew, I had this in the bag as long as there weren't any cramps.

So I ran, and ran, and ran. Mile 20, still feeling good. Mile 22. Doing alright, the legs kept turning over. Mile 23, or was it 24? Uh oh, I was starting to get confused; clearly I was getting tired. I had stuck to my nutrition plan though and even though my head was getting fuzzy the legs kept moving. Finally mile 26 arrived. Now I wanted to die. But I kept going. At this point it was all mental.  I knew I was going to finish with a 2 as the first number in my time, I just needed to keep running. And I did. Here is where I have my one complaint about my race (I have to nitpick at something); this was the only mile I ended up running slower than 7 minute pace (7:05). By the time I crossed the bridge with less than half a mile left I was sufficiently toasted.

Last turn. Into the Tsongas Arena parking lot and the clock at the finish was just turning over to 2:58. I crossed the finish and let out a roar. I'd done it. All the training. All the pain. All the worrying, the stressing, the being a cranky bastard had paid off. Two hours, fifty-eight minutes and five seconds. I had beat three hours, taken 21 minutes off my best and virtually guaranteed myself a spot in the 2013 Boston Marathon.

And I had a great bottle of beer waiting for me at home. Time to relax and enjoy again. Cheers.

2:58:05
6:47 pace
29th overall
12th place 30-39 division
Boston Qualifying time for 2013

Baystate in an hour

Ok. Now I'm nervous.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Not Today, But Soon

Three days left until the big race. At this point there is absolutely nothing I can do to change how it is going to go down. The training is long over, the weather is set, and the fee has been paid. I have no idea if I am ready for this race. I think I am but I won't really know until it is all over.

This will be my sixth marathon and what is interesting about this one is that I will be doing it completely alone (not counting the several thousands other runners). What I mean is that I will be driving to, running in, and coming home from the race by myself. I only know one other person actually running in the marathon but who knows if I will even see him there. This is a strange situation to be in as it will be my first marathon without anyone else.

So how is this going to affect my run? I usually like being able to do my own thing before a race so I certainly won't mind being alone in the morning. But on the other hand it also means that I need to get myself to the start and I won't have anyone to divert my nervous energy onto. It's always nice to have someone around that you can take your mind off what is soon to come. I've only done one marathon the whole way with someone else (I was a pacer) but it always seems much easier to keep up a pace when you have someone there with you. Even if it is for a short time there is some psychological benefit to running alongside someone instead of being out on your own. Probably because you can put some of the focus on what they are doing instead of constantly worrying about your own running. It'd be nice to have that during this race but oh well.

The hardest part though, is knowing that both during and after the race there will be no one to share it with. It's nice seeing a friendly face during some tough stretch, it really helps to lift your spirits. And as you near the finish it is always a boost to know that someone is waiting for you as you cross the finish line. If there are other people running the race with you, just knowing that you will get to hang out afterwards and relive the day is a nice way to cap it all off. Not this time though. This race is all business. It's going to be a real test for me, both physical and mental. Three more days.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Miserable

That about sums me up this morning.

Last night I decided to start the final week before BayState by getting a good night's sleep. By 9 O'clock I was happily tucked in to bed and looking forward to a solid 8 hours. By 12:30 I was ready to kill myself if I didn't fall asleep soon. So instead of getting some extra sleep to start the week I actually ended up getting about 2 hours less than normal. Great. But at least I could take a nap on the train on the way to work like I do every morning. Yeah, I don't think so. Apparently my body had no interest in sleep at all this morning. Add in the no caffeine and I am exhausted. Great way to start a week.

Now compound this with all the other crap going on and you can see why I am getting miserable. It was about a week ago that I realized that the shoes I had been planning to wear during the race have become too small and I need an alternative. Awesome, last minute shoe changes always work out well.

And my heel is killing me. And my calves are sore. And my knee was giving out this morning. And I keep wondering when I get to start my taper (hint: it started a week ago). Aack.

At least the view from my office will inspire me this morning:


Oh no, wait. That's what everyone else in my office gets to look at. Here is my view:


Blow me.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Hell Weeks

Allegedly my taper for the marathon has begun. Although you probably wouldn't know that from looking at tomorrow's workout (10 miles, 7 at MP). Tapers are never fun. You feel lazy, restless, and you really have to watch what you eat. But that's not the reason why the next two weeks are going to be hell. No, it's because I can't have any caffeine during that time. Aargh! No coffee for 2 weeks! The horror. I don't know what is worse, the pain that is destined to come or having to face it without any caffeine. Marathons make me cranky enough, take away my go-go juice and I'm an irritable bastard.

Caffeine-free living began today. I'm already freakin' tired.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Injured, again

Last week I ran the CVS Downtown 5K and it went really well. Better than I had expected actually. Although I just missed getting into the 17:00s I was excited about how well I ran and my big new PR. Life was looking up! And then I woke up on Monday and just went "Ow. What the deuce is this?" Apparently I had managed to injure myself again, pretty badly from the feel of it. Every time I moved the muscle there was a good deal of pain and there was obvious visible swelling around it. This did not bode well for me.

I've been dealing with an achilles problem for about seven months now and that has provided me with enough pain in my daily life so I could do without another injury right now. Not to mention that I am merely weeks away from the marathon. But unlike injuries of the past I wasn't freaking out just yet because, you see, this time the injured part of my body was my wrist. My pre-pubescent girlish wrists had finally decided to give out on me. I don't know what caused this particular problem, I think it was the yard work I had been doing, or why it was perfectly fine Sunday but flared up Monday, I suspect running the race aggravated it, but it's become really annoying.

Just how is it that a wrist injury can hinder or be affected by running anyways? Well, every time I flex it or move it there is a jolt of pain and since you swing your arms several thousand times over the course of a marathon... I think you can see where I am going here. I've been keeping it in a brace but you just know it is a bad sign when after completing 24 miles yesterday Jen looked over at me from about 5 feet away and was shocked to be able to actually see from that distance how swollen it was. Not good.

Luckily this is a wrist injury and not a foot or leg injury because it would have been a show stopper. But it still hurts like a bastard so let's hope it clears up before BayState.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

CVS 5K Final

18:04 unofficial
5:44 pace
36 second PR

I tried hard to get a sub-18 once I realized it was possible but it was too late. Happy with the results just wish it was 5 seconds faster.

New start was decent but I still got stuck behind walkers. Walkers in the 15 minute corral! Get a clue, asses. And that's all I have to say about that.

CVS 5K

I'm sitting in my truck before the start of the CVS Downtown 5K. My seventh consecutive running. With an hour to go it's starting again. The nerves, the anticipation, the fun. Normally I run this with a group but this year I am on my own. No one to deflect any energy onto. All of my focus is on myself this time around.

The six grade 1500 meter just finished. Lots of fun watching them run their hearts out. Running in its purest form: very little technique but lots of heart.

The weather is nigh on perfect. Today is a good day for a PR.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fall Marathon

I finally made up my mind, this year's fall marathon will be BayState.  Again. It was a hard decision to make and came down to the Smuttynose marathon or BayState for the third time. Smuttynose was really appealing as I would know several people running it, it was being billed as super flat, you got a jacket instead of a shirt, and it wasn't in Lowell. Overall it looked like pretty good marathon and it remained my first choice for awhile.

So how did I end up with BayState?  A pretty boring, drab run (as I may have mentioned previously) in Lowell. Two things finally tipped the scale in BayState's favor; timing, it is two weeks after Smuttynose which means I get two extra weeks of training, and familiarity.  I've run the course twice before (four loops in total) so I am familiar with it. The last thing I want is a surprise out on the course and with BayState I know what I am getting into. Everything from the crappy start, to coming off the second bridge at mile 13, to the banked road after mile 25, to the painful last lap around the outfield in the stadium.  I've done it twice before so it is one less thing I need to worry about.

Hopefully that will help me on the day of the race and let me focus on getting the job done.  Because I'm certainly not doing BayState for the lavish after party.  Now we just need to cross our fingers and hope for decent weather; I'm one for two at this race.  First year was cold and snowy, the second was cool and sunny.  Which will it be this time?

Edit: Mere minutes after posting this I found this on the BayState website:
Note: starting this year (2011) we are making a change to the Baystate Course to make it easier to run and easier for the runners by moving the finish to the Tsongas arena.  This puts the finisher and the start in the same area and makes it much easier for you to leave the race area.
So much for "knowing" the course.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Rock N Roll Providence Pt 3

It hit me all of a sudden in one big wave; I had screwed up this race really badly.  Coming into and during the first ten miles of the race I kept telling myself that I can't.  I can't run a 1:24.  I can't keep a 6:24 pace for 13 miles.  I just can't.  But at mile ten I realized that I felt too good.  The fatigue that I had been expecting the entire time hadn't appeared yet and here I was seeing the runners near the lead passing by me on their way to the finish which I could almost just see. What the hell had I been thinking this whole time?

In essence, I had sabotaged myself before this race had ever started and it took me ten miles to realize what I had done.  It was never a case of I can't but rather a terrible example of I won't.  Of course I can't run a 1:24 if I don't ever try. I spent so much time convincing myself that I couldn't that I never took time to believe in myself.  The lessons of the Ultra relay were completely forgotten and I chose the route of self-pity and doubt instead.

I had failed myself.

The last mile ended up being my fastest, I still had energy to burn.  I turned up Francis street and prepared to battle the long hill to the finish.  But it wasn't that long and it wasn't that hard.  I wasn't totally spent, I didn't want to puke on the side of the road.  As I ran to the finish virtually by myself I threw my hands out to the crowds on both sides and enjoyed their cheers. The announcer called out my name and I crossed the finish line as the clocked ticked off 1:26:25.  A four minute PR.

This is where it gets difficult to explain.  There is no doubt that I was thrilled with that PR but I was conflicted.  My race was lost before it had ever begun and I was pissed at myself for that.  I could have done better, I should have done better but I chose to play it safe.  There was no confidence in my own abilities and for the first time at an important race I felt like I hadn't left it all out on the course. I should have been more attentive to my pacing and stuck to a 6:24 instead of settling for less.  I'm still torn, I did great, but not good enough.  Next time I won't doubt myself so much; if I fail then that's alright as long as I fail trying my hardest. There is nothing comforting about getting a good time in a race but knowing you didn't give it your all.

One final bright spot helped to cheer me up a bit after the race. Later that night I was sitting on my bed icing my heel when Jen came in.  "Have you seen the results?" She asked. I had not, they only had individual results when I had last looked.  She told me to go and look.

There I was, still a 1:26:25.  But what the hell was that number 1 doing next to my name?  "You won your division!" Jen said.  "Huh? But... Huh?" was basically all I could muster up.  This was a big race, over 7000 people, I couldn't possibly have won my entire division.  Could I ?  I was still doubting myself.  But there it was on their website and there it remains this morning.  I had won the 35-39 age group in a pretty big race. Me. Wow. Maybe I can do this running thing after all.

1:26:25
1st AG
33rd Overall

Side notes:

Pace5 Km10 Km10 Mi12 MiChipTimeClockTime
6:3620:1841:001:06:141:19:2401:26:2501:26:31

5K time was 9 seconds faster than my last 5K race (granted this was a comeback race after injury)

CVS/Caremark Downtown 5k5K00:20:27

10K time was only 35 seconds slower than my previous 10K PR

James Joyce Ramble10K00:40:25


10 Mile time was 90 seconds faster than my best 10 mile race

Old Fashioned 10Miler10 Mile01:07:44

Rock N Roll Providence Pt 2

The day had arrived, the time was now.  No more lead up, it was race time.

The arrival of race day brought with it a lot of rain. Warming up beforehand it was a slow rain so it wasn't too bad; enough to keep us cool but not enough to slow us down.  At least that was something. We had meant to meet up with some friends, including Mel B. but circumstances conspired to not make this happen so I kissed Jen who was on her way to her first half marathon (yeah!) and I went off by myself to get ready. So far so good.  Got in my warm up, took my Gu, and headed for the corral where I ran into Vin making his way to his corral.  He left me with an amusing story of how that morning he was applying Glide to his nether regions when he began to feel everything getting a bit warm down there.  He looked at the stick and realized there was a red cap.  That wasn't Glide, it was the warming pain relief stick he had just rubbed allover himself.  Several painful minutes passed of which I imagine him to be hopping around wanting to die and then he was ok. That brought a smile to my face.

As I stood in the corral waiting for the start, which was so pleasantly delayed for almost 20 minutes due to who knows what, I kept running through the plan in my head: start out at a 6:24 pace, hold that for a bit, and then it will slow down when I get too tired.  Seriously, my plan was to not run a 1:24.  I had actually managed to talk myself out of running an aggressive race.  Never before have I entered a race convinced that I couldn't do it so I shouldn't bother to try.  The longer they held us at the line the more annoyed I got and the closer I came to smacking the overly-perky girl next to me.  Seriously, shut up for a freaking second I'm trying to get prepared here.  I was at the point that I wanted them to start just so I could get this over with.

Finally, we ran.  Surprisingly I found that my pace very easily settled into the low sixes.  That was a good sign but, as I kept reminding myself, there was no way I could hold it for the entire race. It's good to start in the front of a race; much fewer people to have to navigate around so after the first mile the road had opened up quite nicely and I had lots of room to work with.  From here on in I was never in much of a pack and even though there were a few times I wish I had some people in front of me to break the wind it was nice to have so much breathing room.

The first few miles ticked off and I had already become lackadaisical about my pace; if I saw that I was in the 6:30s I just accepted it and figured it was good enough.  After all, I was bound to get tired at some point and crash.  Around mile 5 the weather stopped being a mild annoyance and decided that it was time to step it up a bit.  From here on in it cycled through periods of light rain and pelting downpours that stung your eyes and really made things miserable.  Blasts of wind were always at our front, even though parts of the course doubled-back on itself.

I kept running. I stuck to the hydration and Gu schedule.  I liked where I was in the race and knew I was doing ok.  Heck, I might even make it into the top 50 of a Rock N Roll race.  Wouldn't that be a rush!  Through the wind and rain and flooded streets I kept on picking up one foot and putting down the other and I actually felt pretty good.  Even though I kept expecting to peter out I was doing alright and continued to pass more people.  After the first couple of miles I don't think anyone passed me that I didn't then overtake a bit later.  I felt a bit too slow on the uphills but was usually able to make up for it on the descents and the flats were still fast and strong. But I knew it couldn't last, inevitably you begin to wear down and get tired.  The last part of a half is always a challenge and it was going to be a struggle to maintain a good pace.  The thought of that last hill in front of Providence Place at the finish was filling me with dread.  That hill is a killer at the end of the 5K so I could only imagine what it was going to be after 13 miles.

At mile 9.9 I took my second and last Gu packet and ran on to the 10 mile marker.  And as I crossed the Point St Bridge I suddenly realized that I had made a colossal mistake; I had run this entire race all wrong.

P.S. 200th post!!

Rock N Roll Providence Pt 1

I am going to split up my report on the Rock N Roll Providence Half Marathon into a few posts.  There is a surprising amount of stuff I want to cover with this race so bear with me.

The Lead Up
I signed up for this half almost a year ago.  "They're having a Rock N Roll half in Providence?" I thought when I first found out. "Sign me up!" So I did and then anxiously looked forward to it for months.

Meanwhile I got injured real bad. But I recovered! I got faster, I got stronger, I kicked some ass (with help) at the New England Relay! Everything was going great.  Until July.  Suddenly it didn't feel the same.  I felt slower, workouts felt harder, the needle on the scale was going the wrong way. All of my workout times and distances were perfect on paper but they just didn't feel right.  What was going on?

As the race got closer and closer I stopped looking forward to it and began to dread its inevitable arrival.  What had once been something to look forward to (another half marathon, yeah!) had become something I wanted to avoid.  Sure I could run it and I was reasonably confident that I could set a new PR but it was that number on my schedule that had me worried. My target time had been set at an alarming 1:24. No freaking way was that happening.  I kept saying that to myself.  No way I could run 6:24 miles for 13 miles.  Impossible.

I kept repeating that.  Wasn't going to happen.  Can't happen.  Way too fast.  I did my last half around a 6:55 pace. 30 seconds a mile faster just couldn't happen. The more I though about it the more depressed about it I got.  How could I be expected to run that kind of pace, that's just crazy.  I am nowhere near the kind of shape I need to be in to run that fast of a race.

Sometimes everything just seems to line up and fall into place for races, this was definitely not the case for this one.  My training felt off, my weight was off, I wasn't sure what shoes to wear, I didn't have a good shirt to wear, and to top it all off, the forecast called for rain and then more rain. The perfect storm of self-doubt was brewing in my head.

As I toed the line on Sunday morning all of this uncertainty and doubt remained.  I had no idea what to expect over the course of the race but I wasn't too confident in myself.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Shoes

God I hate you so much. You are the bane of my life. All shiny and happy with your fancy stripes and colors.

"Oh, look at me." you seem to yell out "Look how comfortable I am!"  Naturally I am drawn to your sleek lines and promises of fast running.  I see myself putting on a pair and running along the tops of clouds on my way to a magical realm where marathons are easy and every run is a new PR.

First the box is opened.  Delicately the tissue paper is peeled back to reveal your splendor as you slumber in your box just waiting to provide me with hours of running joy. I pick you up, gently remove the paper inside that helps you maintain your figure (a girls gotta look good!) and lace up your last two eyelets.  Sometimes you have a big anti-theft tag attached to you, don't worry baby, it's nothing to be ashamed of; you're still sexy.

Just for a moment I cradle the shoe, the anticipation building.  This is it, this is pair I have been searching for.  My quest is at an end, I have found the perfect pair. I slowly slip the shoe onto my foot, barely able to breathe.  The soft insole rises up to meet my toes, the tongue gives way as I move my foot further into the shoe. Every stitch is felt, every seam explored, every texture sampled.  Finally it is on, fully encasing my foot.  Is this the one?  Could it be?

Daaaaaammmnit! Too tight. Too loose. Heel sits funny. Weird bump rubbing my foot.  Etc and fucking etc.

I rip them off, stuff them back in the box. "Next" I call to the salesman who scurries off to the dungeon for another pair.

And then he is back, holding another box of shoes.  This is it, this is pair I have been searching for...

Repeat until all pairs have been tried on.  Leave store empty handed.  Fuck you shoes, I hate you.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Treadmills

Every day on my way to work I pass a gym.  This gym has big windows so everyone can see out and we can see in.  Every morning I watch all the little mice on their treadmills running to get nowhere.  Now I have nothing against treadmills, except for the fact that they suck your soul out of you.  After all, they are a tool like anything else and can be helpful when used properly.  But what I don't understand is why someone would want to pound away on a spinning rubber mat surrounded by sweaty people who all have headphones on and are doing their best to ignore you?  Sure, if it's raining or snowing or cold or too hot, ok, I get it.  But when it is 60 degrees out and the sun is rising over the harbor and the streets are quiet?  Why are you trying so hard to remove all of the fun out of running?  Go outside!

As I said, I will give some leeway if the weather sucks; to each their own.  Some people just don't want to run in crappy weather. There are also sometimes when there are circumstances where your only choices are treadmill or not running.  If you find yourself in that dilemma go ahead and run on a treadmill.  Otherwise treadmills should only be used for one purpose and one purpose only; to dance!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Off the Rails

Recently I feel like my training has been a real struggle.  Going into the relay I felt like everything was clicking and that I was running the best I have ever run.  Now, not so much.  Since the race I have managed to put on about 6 pounds, even though I have adjusted my diet to be much healthier, and I feel like my running is complete crap.  I've had more days in the past month where I have been really disappointed with my training than I ever have before.  The closer I get to the half marathon in August the more I feel like I am just not ready for it.

I'm not sure exactly what is going on here.  Part of the reason is the weather.  It's just really difficult to put out a solid, hard run when it is 92 degrees out.  No matter what I want to do I just can't give 100% for an hour in temps like that.  I can accept that, but it is still frustrating as all hell.  But to solely blame the weather would be disingenuous and too easy.  Something else is going on here. Mentally I have found it much harder to keep my focus and it often feels like I am just going through the motions.  I've been really looking forward to running the half in Providence and had big plans to set a huge PR so I don't know why I can't seem to stay focused on it.  It seems that the more weight I gain and the more bad workouts I complete the more I get sucked into a downward spiral of negativity which leads to more bad thoughts messing up my head.

You know it is a bad sign when you are trying to choose which marathon to run in October and you begin to favor one over the other solely because it is two weeks later than the other.  That's where I am at right now.  BayState is two weeks after Smuttynose and I keep finding myself picking BayState only because it would give me two extra weeks to train.  Two weeks is nearly useless in terms of marathon training and won't somehow end up putting me over the final barrier to greatness.  And yet here I am, picking a marathon because it is a bit later on the calendar.  I'm not even sure I want to do BayState again, that's the sad part.

Today is another big workout, and another hot day.  The way my numbers have been lately I have a better chance of qualifying for WIC than ever qualifying for Boston.  I'm going to try to pull it all together and get back in the rhythm.  Not much else I can do.

Alright, I'll shut up now.

Edit: Just got back from today's run and it went ok, but frustratingly so.  First half was feeling good and the pace was spot on.  I picked it up and found I was going faster than expected but it still felt great.  Then around 50 minutes in I started to crash.  It was taking all of my energy just to keep a moderate pace, not even marathon pace.  This was not a crazy-hard workout but I still felt like ass towards the end.  Managed to step it up for the last few minutes but goddammit.  Seriously, goddammit.  One thing to note; going the bathroom afterwards I noticed that I was pretty dehydrated, that could have been an issue.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Dog Days

It's freakin' hot out there.  I actually cut my hour-ten run short by seven minutes today because I was starting to feel the effects and didn't want to end up in a bad state.  The heat was definitely beating me up and anytime I got my pace down to around the 7:20's my breathing would start to skyrocket.  Luckily I had the foresight to bring along some Gatorade but even that only helped out so much.

It's not that I was feeling bad during the run it's just that I could feel how limited I was in terms of pace.  It didn't matter what I wanted to do there was a hard limit set by the heat that I didn't dare try and break.  So how did it go overall?  My max heart rate hit an unheard of 201 bpm. 201!  Damn, that's just crazy talk for a run that averaged out at a 7:40 pace.

 I guess this is the part where I could say, "Hey, remember when we were all bitching about the cold and snow in December and how we couldn't wait for summer to get here?  Well you get what you ask for."  But then I would have to smack myself and tell myself to shut it.  No sense in lamenting about days gone by.  For now I'm going to get back to drinking another 60 ounces of fluids in an hour.  I told you it was hot out there.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Warrior Dash


Or: How I Spent My Sunday In Mud

I knew that the Warrior Dash was going to be pretty crazy, after all it bills itself as the "Craziest frickin' day of your life", so I was expecting it. It did not disappoint.

We arrived at the shuttle area with plenty of time before our 11AM wave and was greeted by this:

One big-ass line
Don't worry, we made it to the start eventually.  Then I began to wonder whose bright idea this was.
Um, okay then?

But we are warriors dammit!  Right?  Whose with me?! Anyone?  Okay, time to get into the corral for our start.  Looking around I noticed one interesting fact: (two actually, the first being that people will look for any opportunity to dress up crazily, but that is irrelevant to my story) I was the only one in the group wearing trail shoes.  You know, shoes that are designed to be worn while running over dirt and grass and mud.  Pretty much the exact conditions we were to be facing.  Interesting fact, let's see how it plays out.  One thing I will give the race credit for though, is that they have a recycling program for old shoes.  Wear your shoes during the race and instead of bringing home a souvenir pair of mud sculptures you just throw away the shoes. So this may explain the shoe wearing.
Apparently it is a popular option.

Enough of that, race time!  The gun, er, the shooting flamethrowers go off signaling the beginning of our wave and with a warrior yell we start to run!  And then everyone starts to walk.  The start of the race goes right up the side of a moderate hill for about 120 yards. Here I am thinking how much easier this is than Mt Washington and  yet everyone around me is walking.  Only one thing to do, pour on the speed.  I rapidly left many of them behind and powered my way up the hill into the Forest Of Doom™ (I made that name up) where I leapt like a stag picking my way through the downhill slope.  It was here that I realized that the race wasn't just going to involve running through mud, it was running through mud the entire way.

I continued to pass people.  I ran through muddy puddles.  I slipped, and slided, and generally had a fun time.  I also began to notice that  I was pretty much the only one still running. At the half way point I was still cracking jokes and I was still being ignored by everyone around me.  No accounting for taste I guess.

Finally we began to get to some good obstacles.  The first real one (I omitted the one called "Arachnaphobia" because it was really just a cord stretched between some trees) was a series of walls which were about 3.5-4 feet tall.  You jump over them then scurry under the next one.  Easy.  I attacked it with vigor and leapt over the first wall.  My right foot landed in some mud and I expected the same of my left but instead it managed to find the one piece of solid ground anywhere on the course.  It crunched down hard and hurt.  Visions of a swollen and bruised ankle danced through my head, and marathon training began the next day!  No!  I'd have to deal with that later, onwards through the mud!

More obstacles appeared; the balance planks, the tall wall to climb, the slow walkers (the actual people, not a real obstacle).  I approached and conquered them all.  Truth be told, I was really just jogging the course and having a good time.  The weather was great and the mud wasn't too bad once you figured out how to run through it.  As I rounded a corner I then came face to face with the most intimidating obstacle of the race, the Warrior Roast. Two lines of burning logs stood between me and the free-flowing beer at the end of the race.  I put my head down, quickened my pace, and soared over the flaming debris to freedom!  Actually the logs were only about a foot high so all I needed to do was lift my feet slightly higher than normal.  That was kind of a let down to tell the truth.

Finally I reached the top of the last hill.  Scrambled over the rope wall and slid my way down the steep mud slide; making sure to perform a flawless 360 degree turn on the way down.  There I was presented with a surprise final obstacle, a rope walk, which I rapidly defeated by running over along the support beams.
Jen's technique works too
And then the finish.  Huzzah!  I was covered in mud but had a fun time all around. Next up, turkey legs and beer!
Warrior food

I actually ended up placing 76 overall and 17th AG with a time of 34:05.  Next time I think that I'll actually try instead of just jogging it.

Some pics for your enjoyment.
The "before" picture

And after

Happy to be done
Me and my warrior



Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mount Washington Road Race

Twice now I have competed in what is perhaps the dumbest race anyone could ever think of; the Mount Washington Road Race. Why anyone would want to run up a mountain is still a complete mystery to me, even though I have completed it twice now. I think it may be one of those cases of "Because it's there". There really is no other reason for this race to exist. The best quote I heard when telling people that I was doing this race came from Zac when he replied "Why would I want to do that? I already know how to run slow." And run slow I did.

Can you blame me for being slow?
The first time I ran this race in 2009 I fell apart real early and ended up only making it about a mile and a half before I started to walk. It was a source of embarrassment being passed by everyone as we made our way up the hill. I just couldn't hold it together and felt like I walked more than I ran.
My final time was 1:49:57 and I was none too happy about that. 2009 was a big year for me running-wise and going into the race I thought I was ready to rock and show that mountain who was boss! Then it bitch slapped me hard and I learned a valuable lesson; confidence is good but you better have the skills to back it up. Apparently I did not have those skills. My goal this year was far more humble; run as far as I can without walking and then do my best.

As we waited in the field for the start it began to rain, nay, it began to pour. Maybe I should put on a long sleeve, it could be cold up there. Oh yeah, I sent all my gear to the summit. Total dumbass move. Luckily it stopped raining about ten minutes before the start. We made our way to the start and settled in about half way into the crowd where I promptly turned to Mel B and mentioned that I was a bit unnerved being so far back from the start. This proved to be very prescient of me as I thought that since they were using the B-Tag system it wouldn't matter where I started but little did I know that it only recorded the finish time, there was no start line mat. Tricia's kids were there at the start to cheer us on and then the cannon went off to herald us up the mountain.

I had decided on a conservative approach this time so I tucked in behind Mel and Tricia and let them set the pace. Since I had recently received my new Garmin 610 one of the goals on the day was to test out the heart rate monitor. I switched over to the hear rate screen so that I wouldn't keep looking at my pace and instead I just ran by feel. The hill got steep real quick but I managed to keep shuffling along until I found myself moving past the girls around the first mile mark. So far so good.

By mile two I was still making my way up the hill. It was certainly no fun but my legs were holding up well. Apparently around this time a girl managed to fall of the mountain. Tricia and Mel were right there when it happened and saw her tumble down the steep road side and possibly break some bones. Tricia sprang into action and asked if she needed CPR but then realized that she did not and continued on with the race. There are no guardrails at all on the road and one wrong step can easily result in this type of tumble. I had thought of this exact scenario as I was running since most of my first few miles were run right up against the side of the pavement.
Nothing here but sky
Half way arrived and I was still chugging along. It was getting harder but my spirits were high. If I could make it 3.8 miles I could make it 4. And if I could make it 4 I could make it 5, etc. Mile four arrived and the legs were starting to feel it. 4.3 and it was getting real steep. At mile 4.4 the road turned to dirt and the legs were really feeling it now. Finally I made the decision to take a break, 4.5 miles I began to walk for the first time. I was happy that I had made it so far, but it still felt like the worst was yet to come.

The last three miles were a series of walk and runs. At first I would walk for no more than 90 seconds and then run for however long I felt I could. Eventually I abandoned any plan and just went with how I felt. Surprisingly I found that my walking time was getting shorter and even thought the time running wasn't really long, in total I was running much more than walking. Once we broke through the tree line there was a cool breeze to help me along and some spectacular views. Unfortunately I could not see large portions of the road where before I could only see about a quarter mile at best. It was a bit demoralizing looking up and just seeing the road stretch on for a couple miles. But at the same time I could look up and plan what sections to run and walk.

Towards the top the road flattens out a bit into long stretches. It was easy to walk the small steep parts and then run the longer bits. I found that I would walk for about 30-60 seconds and then I could run for almost a half mile. The only limiting factor now was the elevation, I was starting to feel it in my lungs. The lingering cold I had was causing me to wheeze and it was clear that it was getting harder to suck in enough oxygen. Passing the 6000 foot marker I knew that the end was near. A couple of young girls were dancing on some rocks cheering us on, they had drawn encouraging slogans in chalk on the road. The observatory was looming overhead at this point.

The last half mile and I was determined to run it all the way in. It wasn't bad, some of the flattest parts of the race, right up until you hit "The Wall". A 22% grade slope which is the last test before the finish. It is short, maybe 30-40 feet long but it hits you like a truck. Even though I was ready for it as soon as I began to climb up it my head got dizzy, I slowed down to nearly nothing, and I wanted ever so badly to throw up. But I kept those feet moving, inspired on by the cheering crowd and as I made the final turn to the finish I saw the clock flashing out a 1:37 and knew that I was going to beat my old time by over ten minutes.

I crossed the finish line gasping for breath. This was the second time I had made it all the way to the summit but this time it was different. In 2009 I was utterly defeated by the hill, there was virtually nothing about that race that was positive (except the weather). This time I ran the race with respect for the course and it made all the difference. I didn't defeat the mountain, but it didn't beat me either. Overall the day was a success; good weather, good pace, the legs held up, and I had redeemed myself from the last time.


As I looked out over the valley from the highest peak in New England I smiled and enjoyed having finished another great run. And then I smiled some more as I realized that I had packed some great beer for the ride down.

And there was much rejoicing

Monday, June 13, 2011

NE Relay race report

27 hours, 21 minutes, 46 seconds.
223.1 (official) miles
6 guys
1 van

An epic struggle of Man against asphalt across all six New England states concluded at 1:02 PM Sunday afternoon on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean in Kittery Maine.  And the result of that battle was a resounding win for Man.  The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad (or Divas, as everyone was calling us) dominated the race as the team to reckon with.

9:30AM on Saturday Cisco began our journey as our first runner.  Because of the tornado damage in the area legs 4 and 5 were cancelled and instead those two ran leg 2 and 3 with the other assigned runners.  It was kind of a messed up solution to the problem and I'm still not entirely convinced it was the best solution.

Although I can see their concern
By round two I had enough of the warmup and decided that I was just going to hammer each leg.  Screw saving some for later; I figured that it'd be better to push every leg and eventually succumb to fatigue towards the end than to save some energy and find myself with a lot more to give.  This was a challenge of attrition not a contest to see who feels better at the finish.  I started my second leg with UMass Amherst as my destination and with Zac's final words as he approached the transition area ringing in my head:

"There was a bear in the road"

Great.  I'm going to be eaten by a bear.  That thought never left my mind for the next 150 miles.

Leg three and I got the honor of crossing from Vermont to New Hampshire.  It is exactly as exciting as it sounds.  Round the rotary, down the hill, over the bridge, and pass off the baton in the parking lot of a liquor store.  Welcome to New Hampshire.

As we milled about in the third major exchange area (the area where the significantly less-abled runners would meet their other van full of sub-par runners and hand off the running duty to so that they could sleep and sip champagne instead of running) we began to hear rumors that the DVAS were so hardcore that we had managed to pass all of the other teams and were now leading the race.  The only other team ahead of us was another Ultra that had started 4 hours before us.  This instantly did two things to me psychologically.  First it instilled a "Fuck yeah, we rock" attitude in me.  Good for moral.  But secondly it also planted an idea in my head that I would be damned if I was going to let anyone pass me.  It seemed inevitable that a 12 person team had to eventually catch up to us but there was no way that I was going to be the one to let them by.  And I wasn't.  Although someone did get pretty close on my fifth leg.

But back to leg four.  It was a lot of downhills. A lot of downhills.  But there were also plenty of uphills too; especially at mile 8.7 when I was nearly reduced to a walk because the hill was so steep (I did not walk!).  Luckily the team with the cute girls on it kept stopping along the route to cheer me on.  Probably because I rocked that course so hard that they were drawn to my awesomeness.  But they also could have been cheering on a teammate that was running behind me.  I'm pretty sure it was my awesomeness.

Look at that freakin' hill at the end

Leg five began at 4:15 in the morning.  It was dark and the parking lot of the school we were at was completely empty.  We were alone at the front of the race.  That meant there were no lines for the porta-let.  Finally!  I took off into the darkness instantly stepping into a huge puddle but happy to be starting the last of my long legs.  Soon enough the sun was coming up and for the first time since the rednecks in Vermont stumbled out of the bars and into the streets there was some traffic on the roads.  Signs of life were starting to appear around me as I made my way down the road on my run towards Manchester.  It was getting harder to keep up a fast pace and the fatigue was setting in earlier than it had over the previous four legs but I still managed to hold a good pace. Soon enough I crossed the bridge and was in Manchester itself.  Being that it was not even 5AM yet I took every opportunity to run right down the middle of the road.  Take that largest city in New Hampshire!  

The leg ended with another gigantic hill that lasted about half a mile.  I struggled and pushed and ran my way up that thing and as I got close to the transition area I could see our van but Jake was nowhere in sight.  WTF was going on?  There was no way in hell that I was waiting to pass off this baton.  Suddenly he appeared, running out of the porta-let, ripping off his shirt and grabbed the baton just as I arrived.  Perfect timing.  Apparently the sequence of events went like this: they arrived at the transition area and he badly needed a toilet but there was none to be found.  The truck with the porta-let arrived to deliver it and as the base of it touched the ground he was in there taking care of business.  While this was going on I was making my way up that final hill.  The choreography of it all was sublime.

As we approached transition area 29 we were told that there was going to be a one hour hold until we could proceed because our current pace would bring us to the finish before the park it was in would even open.  Further proof that we were both kicking ass and, when the mood struck us, taking names.  But trouble was brewing, the team stacked with Brown college track runners was starting to catch up to us.  With the delay we would be starting the next leg together and it turns out that they had started the race at the same time as us.  This had suddenly become an actual race.  Exciting but short lived; she kicked Ollie's ass over that 11.6 mile leg.  C'est la vie.

Leg six and we were back on top.  Cisco and Zac had managed to beat out the Brown team and I had no intention of letting them back on top.  This was my shortest leg and I planned to give it everything I had left so when Zac handed off the bracelet I took off flying.  Mile two I came upon a trooper who had pulled over a car and in the process managed to block both the gigantic shoulder of the bridge we were on but also half of the travel lane.  As I ran towards them he was approaching the car he had stopped and for some reason he turned his back to me.  Noting the hand on the gun I made sure to loudly yell out "Behind you" as I approached.  Always a good idea to avoid startling anyone with a loaded weapon.  My last leg went down as my fastest and while it felt good I was glad to be done.

Three legs later we were done.  After downing our lobster rolls (but no beer, you bastards) we stood on the finish line to watch the Brown team cross before us and then to welcome Ollie back as he finished our run off a few minutes later.  It was done, nothing left but the drive home.

The finish.  At least it stopped raining.

My stats (via my GPS): 
TL;DR. We ran an Ultra relay this weekend.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Done

Let six is done. Apparently I had a bit left in the tank as I managed to cover the 3.9 miles in 23:27, a 6:34 pace. My best of the race.  All told I covered 39.9 miles (officially) with an average pace of around 6:55 over 4 hours and 37 minutes. Not too bad considering it dogged the first 4.4 miles.  Zac and I both managed sub 7 pace for the whole race.

Two legs left until the finish and we find out if we took the Ultra division and how we fared overall. I'm really thinking we are top five. We will see.

Dominance

That's what the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad has been doing. Around the major exchange at the end of the third leg we began to hear rumors that we were the first team. Not the first Ultra team, the first team overall. Now it was still a bit early,  there's no prizes for being the leader halfway, but this was a great place to be.

We were the ones that everyone was whispering. That Ultra team that was passing everyone. We had no decoration on the van and no identifying markers so we cruises on incognito. 

My last transition there was literally no one.  I took off without a team in sight.  We passed the final Ultra team at exchange 25. They had started 4 hours before us.

We have dominated so hard that the race director has ordered a one hour hold something that we don't arrive at the finish before the park opens.

Yeah, we're that good.

Two more

Four and five are in the books. And man, leg four was a bitch. Zac handed off to me after a brutal 8 miles straight up hill. My legs looked to be all downhill but I quickly found out that it wasn't. The severe, arm flailing downhills were matched by equally fun uphills. Wisely the race director decided to put a hill so steep right at mile 8.7 that I could almost touch the pavement as I ran. That sucked.

One time warp of a nap later and apparently it was time to get ready again. Let 5 was a gentle 8.1 which took me through Manchester.  The bad part. And once again there was a half mile hill to climb at the end where I found Jake frantically running out of the porta-let to start his leg. Good times. 

One more state to go.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Three down

Three to go.

Quick note: after one leg Zac came into the transition area saying that there was a bear in the road. I kid you not.

First of the long runs for me. 8.1 miles which kept going and going,  probably because it was actually 8.8 miles.  My bad. I pushed it hard,  maybe too hard. Finished off at 60 minutes 15 seconds for a 6:49 pace. Yipes. Let's see what that does to me later.

Hoping to catch some sleep soon beforemy longest run of the race, 9.6 miles. Long,  but it's all downhill.  Should be fine as long as my stomach holds out.  Starting to get duvet in there. 

Think of us tonight as you hoist another brew.

Second round

Second run done. 5.1 miles in 34:26,  6:44 pace. A bit quick but there were some good downhills for the assist. Next leg will show us if we have been going out too fast or not.

So far both runs have been solid but the next three are all near or over 9 miles long, so the real work begins then.  9.5 down, 30.1 left to go.

One down

At exchange 6 waiting for Ollie to get here. That will mean we have each run once. Only 5 more legs for each. So far everyone is running well and nothing has gone "sproing" yet.

Rain is on and off and it is cool out.  Should be interesting this evening as signage on the course has not been stellar.

The non–ultra teams seem to have so much energy.  Meanwhile we spend most of the time sitting. Bastards, we'll show them.

Race time

<p>The day of the New England Relay is upon me and as the rain falls down on the windscreen our van as we head to the start all I can think of is,&nbsp; this can is going to reek by tomorrow. Six guys,&nbsp; running, rain, and one can. Yipes. </p>
<p>So much I ready?&nbsp; I guess I'll find out soon. My training has been much better than ever.&nbsp; I've hit every key workout and my recent performance at the Corporate Challenge leads me to believ that I am. But then again,&nbsp; it's 40 miles over 24 hours. The fatigue will be a huge factor. </p>
<p>There is only one thing I am disappointed in myself with: I never did reach my goal weight. I got close,&nbsp; within one pound, but close isn't good enough. A 3:11 isn't a 3:10. One gets you into Boston the other gets you does calves. Something to work on. </p>
<p>Finally, the only thing that has me worried is my heel. It has been an issue since April and while it had leveled off into a predictable injury it still has the potential to be a huge problem. Time and miles will tell.</p>
<p>Off to the start now,  more later. </p>

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Unknowns

"[T]here are known knowns; there are things we know we know.
We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know."

—Former United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
Such as in war, so as in racing.  We spend months, sometimes years training and preparing for certain races and in the end there will always be aspects that are completely out of our control.

Some of these things are obvious and known to all, for instance, the course.  Being that it is usually proper form to lay out the course before race day, we can easily look at the route and study it.  The more studious amongst us will also try to train on the actual course in order to become familiar with it.  For races like a relay the organizers send out a course packet with each leg's map and elevation chart so that we can review what we will be running.

The known unknowns would include uncontrollable aspects of race day such as the weather.  With the relay this weekend it looks like we have gotten really lucky.  Tomorrow it is going to be over 90 degrees, some reports top it out at over 100, and humid but that weather pattern will clear out by Friday leaving us with temps from the 50's to the low 70's.  The difference of 48 hours is looking to be the difference between excellent running weather and an absolute weekend of hell and misery (think: being stuck in an elevator with Carrot Top for two days).

Another important known unknown for many runners when racing is who else will be racing that day.  While this may only be a factor for those runners trying for a win (overall or AG) it is definitely a huge part of racing.  After all, you way run the race of your life but if you are up against an Olympic qualifier then chances are you're not going to win.

Now as for unknown unknowns, well, these are the things that we either don't even realize that they can effect us or we just fail to even think about them during race planning.  For instance, the tornadoes that hit western Mass last week have forced some of the legs of the relay to be changed.  Who could have seen that event coming?

There are countless things that could be considered unknown unknowns and I tend to categorize anything that I ignore in that category.  Unfortunately one of those things hit me last night at 1AM.  I woke up and had trouble getting back to sleep because I was having trouble breathing right.  My throat was sore, I was choking, and yup, my glands were swollen.  Damn, I was getting a cold four days before the relay.  I categorize this as an unknown unknowns just because there is nothing that can be done about it.  I can't plan to not be sick and even if I do have a cold there is nothing more that I can do about it then what I am doing on a normal taper.  It's a fact of life and it sucks balls.

Ultimately, one has to just ignore the unknown unknowns and learn not to stress out about them.  There is nothing that you can do to try and mitigate problems when you don't even know what they may be.  Focus on what you know and can control, or at least plan for those things that you can't control but may be able to mitigate.  Much of the anxiety for some in the lead up to a big race is the fear of the unknown.  This is counter-productive.  It is good to have a plan.  It is good to be nervous and excited and to triple check your gear and food and drink and etc.  Channel your energy into that and stop worrying about what you can't control.  At the end of the day we're just racing ourselves, everything else is just background noise.