Calculator Mania

Upon reaching my 55th birthday (FFS) a couple weeks ago, I decided to dig through some severely ancient age group awards and 5K times I had filed away from when I was about 25-27 and then use an age-graded  race calculator to see what I’d have to run this year to match my old race times.

I sound like a real blast on my birthday, don’t I? Party down!

Generally speaking, in my heyday, my 5k times ranged around 19:15-20:00 with one anomaly race of 18:55ish. That was a nighttime race on a completely flat course, and I was used to running 5Ks almost exclusively in Golden Gate Park where, invariably, the final mile was gradually uphill. So that may have been the difference. Or the course may have been short. *sigh*

Anyway, the equivalent range at 55 would be a range of 23:07 to 24:01 with an anomaly race of 22:43. Basically, it looks like 5K times drop roughly 80 seconds a decade, making my equivalent times now about 4 minutes slower than 30 years ago. Right? (Fuck you, math!)

Amazingly, almost a decade ago, my times were nearly identically equivalent to my mid-20s. My range was right in the 21:25-22:20 zone with an anomaly race at 21:03 (the calculator put the anomaly at 21:04). That race was thanks to JK.   All these years later, I can still picture him glancing over his shoulder at about the 2.5-mile mark, seeing me on his heels, and yelling, “Are you fucking kidding me?” with several impressionable children within earshot. Ah, good times.

So, for me anyway, the calculator times appear to indicate what I should be capable of.  I mean, if I train correctly and don’t lay around in a heap eating Ding Dongs and drinking Schlitz. Right now, I don’t think I’m even in 24:45 shape, but since I haven’t raced a 5K in nearly a year, how the hell should I know?

I don’t tend to post goals a lot in this blog, but it would be nice to at least go under 24 minutes at some point this summer. There are any number of complications and whines that a calculator can’t take into account, but that sounds precariously close to excuse-making, so I won’t focus on all that. And I definitely won’t consider even mentioning how these past 8 years of chasing miles and marathons may have zapped some of my speed. Nope! Nary a word spoken of it.

I’d like to think that once a racing capability is in you, it remains in its equivalent form throughout your life. It stays in you.

We’ll see.

(If you’ve enjoyed this self-absorbed, number-based post, stay tuned! More to come as I flail my way through intervals, run 5Ks, and fully engage in running calculator mania.)

 

 

 

 

ON YOUR LEFT! ON YOUR LEFT! ON YOUR LEFT! ON YOUR LEFT! ON YOUR LEFT!!!!!

I’d like to take just a sec out of my busy day to ask a sincere, heartfelt, and thought-provoking question:

What in the ever-loving fuck is wrong with cyclists?

I know I have (along with roughly one bazillion other runners) pondered this question before, along with attempts to demystify their flags-o-many-countries spandex costumes and their general super-irritability. I’ve never had much success at pinpointing the root of why so many cyclists are so crabtastic (though if I’m injured and have to resort to a stat bike, by the end of an hour on the bike I  genuinely look forward to the opportunity to lash out unprovoked even at a small child).

Anyway, since it’s the middle of the winter and there are no flashy cycling events on TV and it’s kind of chilly, the cyclists, naturally, have all disappeared. Their bikies are all safely stored away and their costumes await, neatly pressed and stretched out over large wicker frames so that they will not be impossible to fit over bloated bodies come May. This is typically a pleasant time for runs in the park, void of the ear-splitting bellows of confounding instructions from cyclists coming up from behind or the colon-clutch moments of cyclists careening around corners directly toward you at top speed with their heads down. (WHY?)

Nonetheless, if the weather is decent and a new biking toy has been acquired over Christmas and the flab can be packed into the spandex and there is A Resolution to keep, there can often be a flurry of cyclists from about January 1st to, say, January 2nd or so. Then it ends abruptly until May. My experience is that these out-of-season cyclists are something like exhausted and bewildered bears who have accidentally stumbled out of their caves. Nothing good can come of it. And it’s really in everyone’s best interest to give them a super-wide berth and maybe even avert your eyes if they look your way. At no time is it a good idea to provoke the January Cyclist, and I would even recommend playing dead if one directly approaches you. Blowing a shrill whistle, banging pots together, and shouting, “NO! GO AWAY!” at them really doesn’t do much good. I’ve tried.

But, on occasion, The January Cyclist appears out of nowhere and scares the living shit out of you. This happened a few days ago when I was out for an awesome New Year’s Day jog-a-thon in the park with a couple of the Run Bitches, the KOB, and two neighbors who are new to the whole concept of running for “fun.” It was a beautiful morning, and we were all feeling great in spite of mild gin/champagne/something-made-with vodka headaches and a smattering of flatulence as a result of… well, who really knows what. As if we ever need (or ever have) a specific reason. Lolz.

Anyway, there we were jogging away into our final mile down to the Stoned Gates when (and I promise I am not exaggerating the following events AT ALL) The J.C. suddenly came up from behind yelling, “ON YOUR LEFT! ON YOUR LEFT! ON YOUR LEFT!” One of our neighbor friends, who was about 50 yards behind us, just about jumped out of her skin and rocketed off into the woods, not being familiar or experienced with people who sneak up behind you and scream for no apparent reason.

Within seconds, J.C. wheeled up behind three of us who were running pretty much on the edge of the left-hand side of the road already. Mind you, the entire rest of the road (one-way and rarely traveled by cars) was empty, and any imbecile (like me) would figure that a cyclist would not want you to cross the entire road right in front of him just so that he could pass on your left. Right?

*SIGH*

Astoundingly, this guy continued with the “ONYOURLEFTONYOURLEFTON YOURLEFT” in an increasingly belligerent tone until he was literally (as in literally) right on my heels. In a surreal moment of true what-the-fuckery, January Cyclist crowded around us on the dirt shoulder on the left, all the while lecturing us on The Rules of the Road and how we needed to learn them.  He actually said, “You double your chances of my hitting you if you don’t move out of my way.”

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaat? Can anyone explain this to me? FFS. Is there a separate set of dumbass rules for people on bikes? Or have cyclists been sitting on those tiny little leather seats for so long that, in a real sense, they have sticks up their asses?

An abrupt shower of obscenities may or may not have been hurled at the January Cyclist’s stupid pinhead as he disappeared down the hill and I might have yelled, “Enjoy your New Year, moron!”

The good news is that it fueled a super-peppy last mile during which the KOB said, “I could probably catch him” (he probably could have) and we all had pleasantly gratifying daydreams of the January Cyclist receiving a throat punch.

Anyway, if anyone out there can explain what is wrong with cyclists (okay, some cyclists), please enlighten me.

Thanks in advance.

‘Prec!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Final 2015 Post

Ha ha ha. I think I may have posted 3 times this year (somebody correct me), so having a “final” post is kind of, well, lolz-esque.  Anyway, I thought I’d pop in for a quick My Year In Running! wrap-up. When I think back on 2015, in running terms, it was the year of Not.

I did not run many races. I did not run the totes arbitrary and baffling 2000 Miles that I’ve run every year for the past 7 years. I did not set a PR or run a BQ. I did not even run a 20-miler in preparation for the NYC Marathon.

On the other hand… I ran New York and gave not nary (back off, grammarians!) a shit about my time. I did not miss stressing the hell out over minutes, miles, and the relatively bland graph in my running log. I did not get injured. I did not feel guilty or worthless. (Although, let’s face it. I may have felt a tad flabalanched at times.) All in all, this was the year that I felt like I mentally said, Back off, Bitch.

For me, I find that the Back Off is really pretty much required, mentally and physically, about every 5-10 years, depending on my level of intensity and freakishness during the preceding time period. It’s hard for me to ramp up and get “back into” running and racing if I don’t allow myself to wallow around in Not Runners World for a space of time. Back in my late 30s, that space of time was about 8 years, during which I got PFDOS* and averaged about 10 miles a week of blob-a-jogging in order to remain a “runner.” The idea of racing back then, even though I had raced constantly in my 20s and early 30s, was both hilarious and ghastly.

Natch, I don’t plan on spending 8 years lollagagging. Somehow, I suspect that  ramping up! and going for it! at 63 would not be as invigorating and attractive as it was at 45. I don’t really have a timeframe in my mind. Like always, I’ll know when I know. After nearly 40 years of running (dear God), my intuition for the ebb and flow is pretty decent even if my intuition for pacing the first mile in a 5K and for when a constant pain is becoming-an-injury-you-idiot is still fairly sketchtastic.

That being said, I plan on remaining consistent, if less anal about piling on miles or having panic attacks over speed work for a while. I’m pretty sure the “getting back into it” would be a tearful event of gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair, if I didn’t continue to jog along 30 or so miles a week. I can go back and forth with the latest silver bullet training concepts, entertain quackery approaches, ingest chia seeds, consider an elliptigo, wear negative ion necklaces, bathe my legs in that stinky shit used to rub down horses (WTF, Tanya?), and try any manner of footwear from racing shoes that look like jaunty neon slippers to training shoes that look like motherfucking boats.

But in the end, and over the years, the only thing that has ever (EVER) worked is month after month/year after year of consistency and a whole hell of a lot of miles. Sometimes I wish it weren’t that simple. And that hard. Which is why sometimes I take a break. Sort of.

Happy 2016, Runner Freaks!

 

 

 

*”pretty fucking disgustingly out of shape”—A mikeymike original!

 

 

 

Yay! And Stuff

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(LOL. Love me some Notorious RBG!)

So, naturally, there were tears and laughs and beverages and about a billion Likes over at The Facebooks and two visits to the conveniently arranged-for-within-9-hours-of-the-SCOTUS-announcement Pride Festival downtown where this awesome picture was taken of me and Cheryl:

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Ha ha ha ha ha! Those poor hellfire and brimstone Bible thumpers! Cheryl and I had to wait our turn to have our picture taken in front of them while some dude in tights and roller skates and huge pink wings kept skating by them and blowing them dramatic kisses. Finally the two guys (yes, there were only 2 protesters for the thousands at the Pride event) got super-frustrated and stomped away in a major sanctimonious huff.

Anyway, Friday, June 26, was indeed a momentous day. I can honestly say that I would not have believed that in my lifetime I would see the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage. I still have a pretty vivid memory of sitting in a basement room at the student center at the University of South Carolina (Go Cocks!) with about 8 other students in 1981 as everyone self-consciously formed the first Gay Students’ Union organization. No one really knew what to say or do, but I recall that we agreed that no one wanted a picture of the group in the yearbook because, you know, we were gay in South Carolina in 1981. Two of the students were majoring in education, and they worried that they’d never get teaching jobs if anyone saw that picture. What with it being commonly accepted back then that homos preyed on teenagers. Good times.

Flash-forward 34 years, and I think most teenagers would totally be all LOLZ about the idea of hiding in a basement to talk about being gay. In fact, the above picture of me and Cheryl was taken by one of the teenage girls I coach who was there with another girl I used to coach who’s a college sophomore now. They were both covered in flags and buttons and seemed entirely void of any shred of self-consciousness. They waved their arms around at the thousands of people, the endless rainbow stuff, the music, the day, and said, “Isn’t this awesome!?” Indeed.

As Obama said in his speech, the SCOTUS decision came down like a lightning bolt. To me, and many other older gay people, the entire embracing (sort of) of Gay World has come in a kind of 0 to 90 dazzling and baffling rush of acceptance by Straight America that barely 10 years ago was like, “Um, gays marrying? Seriously? WTF?” and now is all decked out in equality shirts and slamming rainbow jello shots while doing some major foot-tapping to vintage Sylvester at the Pride Fest.

I’ll admit that it has all felt a touch bandwagon-y to me. But I’m all for the Bandwagon Effect if it helps bring about change. However, I’m not naïve enough to think that so many hearts and minds have been really changed due to new laws and a major groundswell in the popularity of supporting gay marriage. I mean, discriminatory feelings and inclinations don’t just *poof* overnight or even over decades. I think we all witnessed that fact in Charleston last week, Baltimore before, NYC, Ferguson, and on and on. Anyway. Not to be Debbie Downer. I’d prefer to think of it as Regina Reality. (Lame.)

And let’s face it—marriage is a glamorous, food-filled, big dress, tears and flowers and champagne extravaganza. Who doesn’t get a little amped about supporting that? However (and I think I brought this up in a blog post eons ago), the fact remains that there are still NO anti-discriminatory laws on the books for gays and lesbians in (are you sitting down?) 28 motherfucking states! That’s right folks—in more than half of the United States it is still technically legal to deny employment, housing, or even a Big Mac to homos. Naturally, that kind of behavior is no longer popular, but it’s legal.

Why? I have no idea, but changing anti-discrimination language in state laws is so *YAWN* compared to Weddings! that I think most people can’t be bothered to think about something so tedious. Meanwhile, everyone is totes aghast when Joe Blow in Indiana won’t serve pizza to gay people. Breaking News: it’s legal for Mr. Blow to do that. In fact, he could fire one of his pizza peons for being gay. Same thing in Chicago or Philadelphia or Key West. Or several thousand other places.

Still, I’m pretty darned happy that one year after getting married, I can finally wake up married in my own house. It has been no picnic living in one of “those” 13 states.

And yet, I love living in the South. It isn’t always easy, but it is most definitely always worth it. I have friends who mock the South as being full of lard-brained morons who drink Crisco and burn crosses. When the Bible thumpers down here threatened to light themselves on fire if gay marriage passed, some of these liberal thank-god-I-don’t-live-down-there friends lumped The South into one big pile of idiocy and stereotyped everyone, judging left and right. Irony much? All I can say is that in spite of its faults, I’ve always found that the South often has an unparalleled sense of grace and humanness that is both surprising and unexpected to outsiders. Again, see Charleston.

Anyway, now I’m exhausted. Peace, everyone. I’m fucking married, bitches.

Still Funny. Four hours later.

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So, this is my 3rd year as an assistant cross country coach at a local totes awesome high school, and summer training began last week. The kids are not required to show up during the summer, but it’s always encouraged so that, come early August and the start of the XC season, they are not completely WTF, YOU HELLISH COACHES?? about running in 95 degrees.

Anyway, the summer training always starts off with some hilarious (to me anyway) bangs. Last year, I was running along with the girls on 21st Avenue on a particularly windy day. As expected, there were some ongoing hair disasters which required stopping completely, some flouncy tossing back and forth of hair, and total re-tying or braiding or whatever. This got a little tedious by the 3rd hair emergency. Naturally, I am utterly unfashionable and wear a hat or visor to avoid hair comic-tragedies on the run, so I was kind of all, “Okay, can we possibly TRY to run an 8th of a mile before the next hair appointment?”

So everyone was calmly running along for a good 12 minutes without adjusting their coiffures when a pathetic, “Help!” arose near the back of the group. One of the freshmen had gotten her hair stuck to a utility pole. A utility pole! HA HA HA!!! Somehow, the wind had whipped her hair around the pole and it had gotten stuck to some old staples. Now THAT was a hair crisis. It took 3 girls a good 7 minutes to extricate that poor freshman from the pole.

Anyhoo, this year’s very first run resulted in a freshman having a fairly astounding hurl only 12 minutes into the run. That wasn’t exactly a laugh riot, but it was memorable. It happened right in the middle of a busy entrance to a parking lot, so I had the truly enviable position of having to direct traffic around this poor young girl who would absolutely NOT budge until she was sure her stomach had settled. It took for. ever. Ack.

Today, however, we decided to run downtown to laugh at the tourists here for the CMA Festival. CMA brings in tourists for days in brand-new uncomfortable boots, ridic hats, and generally-speaking, far too little clothing for their corpulent frames. It’s a 5-day blowout of country music, flat beer, and sweat. Jealous?

So, we were running along and some 20-something dude with a startlingly huge tattoo of the Ragnar symbol on his back came flying up beside us and began yammering non-stop about himself and his running (startling behavior for a runner, I know). Then he launched into how he’d done 7 Ragnars and was a “Ragnar Ambassador” and Ragnar blah blah blah. I was silently thinking, go away go away go away go away and most of the girls were just running along quietly, glancing occasionally out of the corners of their eyes at Ragnar Man. He was also wearing black socks, which put no one at ease.

Finally, one of the braver seniors asked him, “So is Ragnar a 5K?” Instantly, Ragnar Man looked super-irritated-crestfallen-deflated.

I WAS DYING! I had to slow down so I could snort! A 5K! HAH HA HA HA AHHA HA!!!

Well, after that, Ragnar Man made an abrupt turn off Broadway and we saw nary hide nor hair nor jumbo tattoo of him again.

I’m not sure if that tops the utility pole hair debacle of last year, but I’m still laughing. Four hours later.

p.s….5K!!!!

Hi!

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This past weekend, 2 (TWO!) people asked me if I had stopped blogging. I couldn’t tell if they were asking that hopefully, curiously, or tsk tsk-ily, but I decided that I might as well pop in here once a week and write a few hundred words or so about something in order to ward off these overwhelming hordes of people nagging me about blogging.

Naturally, I’m still running and will continue to run until I’m dead or my legs fall off (pleasant visual), so there’s that. I think, like a lot of bloggers, I just kind of reached a lull in desire to write about my running. To me, running and racing goes in waves of OMG! RUNNING! for a while to lah lah lah running for a while. I can’t stay super geeked-out about running all the time or I’d blow up.

Anyway, this past Saturday was supreme for observing running, both for horsies and humans. Cheryl and I met up with Bitch Melissa and SOB Jeff to watch American Pharoah race into history with his big old long face and misspelled name. Jeff took a video of the TV screen as the race happened, and I’m sure he enjoyed my arms flailing all over the place in front of his phone while I shouted, “GO GO GO GO GO GO GO GO!!!” 500 times. What a historical momento that will be! Anyway, the last Triple Crown winner happened the same year I began running. I feel like this is symbolic or meaningful in some way, but I really don’t know how or why. I don’t anticipate winning 3 races in a row this year or starting to eat from a feedbag.

Following the horse race, we headed over to the Vanderbilt track to watch a bunch of really fast people (slight jealousy, angst, and indigestion) race at distances from 800 to 5000 meters. This included the steeplechase, which still baffles me. Jeff and I parked it over by the water thing, silently and shamefully hoping to see someone do a face plant, and we were not disappointed. I enjoy running with the occasional ungainly leap over a creek or mud puddle, but I cannot fathom hurtling around a track at top speed and propelling off a bar (or whatever it’s called) across 6 feet (or whatever) of water…IN FRONT OF SPECTATORS. Yikes-o-rama.

The highlight of the evening, even more impressive than the puzzling and terrifying steeplechase, was watching the national record for the mile for masters women get broken by local runner, Sonja Friend-Uhl. 4:45:68! At 43! It was stunning to watch. However, we were all a little grumbly about the fact that the Mister Man race director could not be bothered to even announce that the record had been broken or to congratulate Friend-Uhl. It seems that he was totally kerflustered with the upcoming men’s mile which included The Star of the Evening (Nick Symmonds). *YAWN*

Anyway, all in all, a great evening of horse and human speed.

I’ll be back next week with another brief post that, with any luck, will be more self-involved and navel gazey than this one. Yay!

Cornball Picture Alert!

So, as an addendum to the last post that had no pictures of us, here’s a gem from the finish line:

Canyon City Pic!

It wasn’t enough to pose with our gargantuan medals in front of the fake mountain backdrop. We had to hold up major bright orange placards announcing BQ! and PR! I really can’t imagine why non-runners find runners to be obnoxious.

Anyway, I don’t care. I looooove this picture. There’s a picture of Cheryl crossing the finish, but she’s looking at her watch. There’s another of me at the finish, but all you can see are my hands waving behind some fat guy. There’s another picture of me around 22 where, as usual in race photos, I look like I’m about ready to either burst into tears or go insane. Good times.

As a side note, about 20 minutes after this picture was taken, Cheryl nearly passed out and ended up in the medical tent for 30 minutes. (After a bunch of Pedialyte and a Miller Lite, she was fine.) But as always, she looks freshly pressed and sparkly here. On the other hand, I have mascara (yes, I wear it in a race. DON’T JUDGE ME.) streaming from my eyes and the typical explosion of Espresso Love gel on my white shirt.

Enjoy!