Thursday, December 29, 2005

Running on the Left Side of the Road

I do most of my runs in Griffith Park. It's nice, but on Sunday I got lost and wound up on a more scenic route. I had my camera with me and took some photos:

Buckingham Palace? Big Ben? I must have been REALLY lost.

I was in London over the holidays and did a city run. I've also done runs in Barcelona and Paris, and they're great ways to see cities. I have to give Londoners credit: there were joggers everywhere, throughout the entire day. I saw them in the freezing cold when we first left the hotel in the morning. They were still out there in the freezing cold long after sunset. i did think it was odd how many of them were out there in shorts and t-shirts while I was bundled up in thermal layers. Either our neighbors across the pond are far more hardcore than I am, or the Brits still haven't discovered long-sleeve technology.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Wedgie Power

Parade Magazine reports that Webster's New World College Dictionary is adding the word "wedgie". Now, I don't want to overstate the power of this blog but... It was only after Neoprene Wedgie was created that the word made it into the dictionary. Coincidence? I think not.

Their definition:
wedgie - a prank in which the victim's undershorts are jerked upward so as to become wedged between the buttocks.

My definition:
The Origin of Neoprene Wedgie

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Olympic Dreams

Last night I dreamt I was in the Olympics. Like all the other athletes, I parked my car on the street outside the Glendale Gymnasium. When I went to get my bike out of the trunk, I noticed I had a flat tire but no spare tube. I debated whether or not I should drive to the store to get a new tube, because I knew that I wasn't going to win my event anyway and it just seemed like a hassle. Ultimately, I decided I would go to the store because I thought it would be cool to log into the official Olympic website and see my name in 34th place. (I don't know where the number 34 came from, but that's what I was thinking.) If I didn't enter at all, I wouldn't be on the site.

The sad thing about all this is that your dreams are supposed to be the place where you can achieve your greatest accomplishments. But in my fantasy world, I'm still only striving for 34th place.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Tinsel Triathlon

I did my second tri yesterday, the Tinsel Triathlon in Hemet California. It was a short reverse tri: 5k run, 11 mile bike, 100 meter pool swim. The run was flat, and we had an entire 2-lane highway to ourselves for the bike. But let me tell you- jumping into an outdoor heated pool after an hour of hard running and biking was the Greatest...Feeling...Evar. I didn't even want to swim; I just wanted to lounge around in the pool. It vas vunderbar.

I went down with 2 other friends and we had a great time, but there was plenty to nitpick. There were far too few racks in the transition area; many people like myself just had to prop our bikes up against flimsy plastic fences. When I came back after the run, my bike had been knocked to the ground. (I guess that will teach me to run faster next time.) There was only one entrance/exit to the transition area, and I was at the far side so I had to run the length of the parking lot 4 times. That easily added at least an extra minute to my time over someone parked near the entrance. Not that it matters but, well, it DOES matter.

There were no mile markers. I like them for pacing, even if it's just a short run.

There was no Big Finish. You just sort of climbed out of the pool and handed someone your race number. I wanted a balloon archway or at least a sign that said "FINISH" to run under.

My event shirt, a very nice long-sleeve design, was stolen/misplaced/reaquired in the transition area. Sucks.

It was probably a 200-300 yard run from the transition area to the pool. Barefoot on pavement. Shirtless. It wasn't so bad getting to the pool since we were all still hyped up for the race. But coming back, soaking wet without a towel... that was a bit chilly.

Here's my biggest complaint: It's called the "Tinsel Triathlon", yet there was NO TINSEL ANYWHERE! If they want to have a themed event, then go with it: put up a Christmas Tree someplace. Bring $20 to Costco and get 800 yards of garland to create a running chute. I don't care, just do SOMETHING. Otherwise just call it the "Hemet Triathlon".

I placed 183rd out of 576 individuals (I ignore relay teams) which was pretty good. I placed 23rd out of 50 in my age group: with my finishing time, I would have won my division if I were a 67-year-old woman or a 10-year-old boy.

Friday, December 09, 2005

12 Miles

I passed a physical and psychological barrier today: I ran 12 miles. Last year while training for a half-marathon I tried running 12 miles and pulled my achilles tendon. Ouch Ouch Ouch. Couldn't run for quite a while after that and sort of fell into a quiet funk of self-doubt. I still have not done any running events longer than 10k. But a year later, and a year wiser, I seem to have survived the longer run unscathed other than some minor shin pain.

Now all I have to do is add another 14 miles on to that.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Friends don't let friends run cold

My "friend" Annie suggested that we do a morning run sometime. (I use the "quotes" because anybody who makes you get up early to go running can't possibly have your best interests in mind.) The plan was Wednesday morning, 6:30 am, Griffith Park. Now to be honest I was a little intimidated; not necessarily by her running (although she is a multi-marathoner and half-ironmanner), but rather by the hour. Could I really get up THAT early for a run? So I did a practice Tuesday morning.

When I stepped outside at about 6:20, it was chilly but not bitterly cold. This was a good sign. My car thermometer said it was 55 degrees. Not bad, but I was still in a covered parking structure. By the time I drove down a few levels, it was 53 degrees. Fine.

It is literally a 2 mile drive to Griffith Park, and the entire trip I watched the digital thermometer like a ticking time bomb: 53 degrees... 51...49...47... I could not believe the temperature was dropping that quickly, but there probably is a real difference between being surrounded by concrete and asphalt and being surrounded by wide-open fields of dirt. By the time I arrived at Griffith it was 41 degrees.

41 Degrees! I don't care where you live, 41 is still cold weather to go running in. But, I had to drudge through it so Annie wouldn't think I was a wimp the next day. I wound up running at a pace almost 80 seconds per mile faster than I usually do, just to get out of the cold sooner. I survived, numb ears and all.

I checked in with Annie later in the day to see if we were still good to go for Wednesday, and warned her that it's 41 degrees in Griffith Park in the morning. Her response? "That sounds cold. We should run at night when it's much warmer." See, that's the wisdom of experience right there. I, the novice, think "it's too cold! I better run faster!". The veteran thinks "it's too cold! I should run when it's warmer."

I have so much to learn.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Chariots of Fire

I watched Chariots of Fire this weekend. I figured it was time to be inspired by great films or whatever. I knew very little about the movie or the real-life history it's based upon. Pretty much the only thing I knew was that it's about a bunch of people running on the beach in slow motion with synthesizers playing in the background. (Ohmygod it's Baywatch!)

(The movie is 20 years old, the history is 80 years old, but if you want to avoid spoilers skip to the next paragraph.) I was somewhat surprised with the movie. The entire film seemed to be building up to the big race between two men: one Jewish, the other Christian. Both were struggling with conflict: one was trying to gain acceptance for who he was, another struggled with choosing God over Country. A typical story should finally wind up with the two men racing eachother in the Olympics, and determining once and for all which religion is better. (kidding.) But no, history wasn't kind to Hollywood because what happens? They run in different events, they both win gold medals, and everyone's happy. How can there be the thrill of victory if there's no agony of defeat?

I was looking for inspiration, and I was sadly disappointed. I knew the film wasn't about marathons, but I expected the races to be, well, longer. Not to take away anything from these athletes, but come on: they ran for 10 seconds. In the amount of time I stop in the middle of a run to adjust my shoe, their entire race has started and finished. Wimps.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Darkness falls across the land

I just can't do mornings. It's too tough getting up early to run, so I'm trying to shift to night time runs. Griffith Park has too much traffic to run in at night so I've been going to the Rose Bowl after work. It's a little out of the way, but it's a good 3 mile loop and there are lots of other people there.

There are some pretty dark sections of the road. Dark enough that I cannot see the road directly in front of me and I have to just take steps of faith that I won't trip over a rock or stick. There is some light automobile traffic to deal with as well. I wear a bright, solid white shirt and have a battery-powered flashing light which I clip to the bak of my hat, so I think I'm pretty visible. It amazes me how many people are there wearnig dark jeans and black sweatshirts. Literally solid dark colors from head to toe. And many of them are pushing dark strollers in the street! Look lady, I don't want anything to happen to your kid but if you get hit by a car I'm not exactly going to nominate you for Mother of the Year.

I don't think I'm going to settle on one place to do my midweek runs. They both have their pros and cons.

Evening Rose Bowl:
Darker, longer drive
Warmer, can sleep in late

Morning Griffith Park:
Bright, short drive
Colder, have to get up early