No Tolerance for A-Holes When the Running Shmood Hits Hard

No Tolerance for A-Holes When the Running Shmood Hits Hard
I’ve officially hit “burnout” phase of Ironman training. You all know the feeling–you just want to go into hibernation mode after logging into Training Peaks and seeing what your week’s worth of workouts looks like, and even a one hour recovery spin at an easy heart rate feels like a two and a half hour threshold sufferfest. Not helping matters was the fact that I started a new job right when my last big training ramp up hit, so balancing a demanding (yet thus far exciting) work load with over 15 hours of training has left me exhausted and cranky. August 26th can’t come soon enough. Last week I was faced with a two hour run that I very much did not want to do, but since I hadn’t had a long run on my schedule in a while (minus my Rev 3 Portland run off the bike), I forced myself to grab my running shoes because I figured the workout was crucial. Plus, since I was already mentally and physically drained before even starting the run, the workout seemed especially beneficial since it’d probably emulate how craptacular I’d feel at around mile 18 of the Ironman Canada run course. I took off from my house rockin’ a pretty wicked running shmood (that’s “shitty mood” for those of you who aren’t hip to the Mediocre Athlete lingo). My legs felt heavy, various body parts ached, I felt like I needed to sleep for 14 straight hours, the sun was too bright, it was hot and muggy out, my stomach ached, you know the drill. Every ten minutes I contemplated throwing in the “Fuck this” towel and heading back to my house, but I forced myself to run further out and intentionally place my groggy ass far enough away that I’d have to run back without being able to cut the workout short. You’ve all had one of those days where you feel like ass and just want to get through your workout–you’re not in the mood to talk to anyone or put up with any bullshit. All you want to do is stick your head down and swim, grit your teeth and bike, or squint your eyes and run, and you don’t even want to do the stupid workout but you’re making yourself anyway, so you’re already in a shmood before you get going and a mixture of exasperation and general irritability is all that’s fueling you to get through it. That’s how it was for this run. So perhaps the minor altercation I had with a dude in front of the Seattle Tennis Club could have been avoided or handled better, but I had been hit hard with the running shmood and my tolerance was at an all-time low. I was running on the sidewalk approaching the Tennis Club when I saw a grubby guy who looked very much like Carl from Aqua Teen Hunger Force loading items from a delivery van into the building via a side entrance. I would have paid this man no mind were it not for the fact that he was blocking the entire sidewalk with boxes and a hand truck. Not a big deal, he’s clearly working on moving supplies from the van into the building–it’s not like he’s intentionally blocking the path or anything. As Carl pivoted from the van towards the building entrance with his hand truck of boxes, I said, “Excuse me” and ran in front of him on the sidewalk, between the entrance and the van. I couldn’t run off the sidewalk onto the street because the van was blocking me, and I wasn’t about to stop and...
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Boston Deferrals Need to HTFU

Look, I get that it was unseasonably warm on Monday and that it made for hotter than usual Boston Marathon race conditions, but deciding not to race or deferring to next year because you didn’t like the temperature is just laughable. If you’re elite or athletic enough to be able to qualify for the Boston Marathon, you can deal with a hot race. There are thousands of runners who would have killed to race on Monday, regardless of the conditions, and you’re telling me that you’re too big a diva to run when it gets to the mid-80s? Gimme a break. A higher than usual percentage of racers (3,863) didn’t even bother showing up to pick up their numbers this year. Obviously a portion of the no-shows could be folks who had injuries (as was the case of a friend of mine who tore her hamstring and was unable to race) or had a situation pop up where they couldn’t race (a family emergency, work conflict, etc), but the rate was higher than in previous years. Of the 22,426 runners who did show up to pick up their numbers, 427 deferred, which is even worse than not bothering to show up in the first place. You travel all the way to Boston, pick up your number, and then decide that you’re going to chump out and run next year in the hopes that temperatures will be more to your satisfaction? Ridiculous. Yes, I know it was hot. I know it was uncomfortable. I know that overall times were slower than previous years and that more people were treated for heat-related ailments (cramping, exhaustion, overheating). But that’s the nature of racing. You sign up for a race not knowing what’s going to come your way. You can do the training and prepare for it as best you can, but there are certain factors you can’t control on race day that you just have to deal with. Do you think the 2011 Ironman Canada athletes wanted to race in upper-90 degree heat all day? Obviously not, but they showed up at the start line and powered their way through like champs, and they raced 140.6 miles in adverse conditions, not just 26.2. Do you think Ironman Louisville athletes want to spend an entire day pushing themselves through ungodly heat and humidity, or that Ironman Coeur d’Alene athletes want to swim 2.4 miles in a ball-shrinkingly frigid lake? Did I want to race Costa Rica in the searing sunshine and come home with absurd tan lines? Did I want to battle ridiculous crosswinds at Ironman Boise 70.3 in 2010? Did I want to run through a windy monsoon during the Seattle Half Marathon this past year? No. Hell no. But you know what? I gritted my teeth and persevered, just as the Ironman Canada, the Louisville, and the Coeur d’Alene athletes did and just as every athlete should. Boston was hard this year. Harder than usual, I’m sure. PRs were shot, everyone was uncomfortable, it was a miserable day. But if you sign up for a race and aren’t prepared to deal with the potential curveballs that go along with it, you shouldn’t race at all because clearly you’re not cut out for it. You’re kidding yourself if you expect all of your races to have perfect weather, perfect race conditions, and that you’ll post a PR. You’re delusional if you think you’ll never get a flat tire, experience gut rot, be forced to endure wind or rain or snow or heat, and that everything will be hunky dory for you. The challenges behind racing are more mental than physical. The people...
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Celebrating Christmas the Aggro Athlete Way: Holidazzle 2011

When you spend a decent amount of time training with fitness-oriented people, you often get sucked into extra-curricular activities that have an athletic or healthy twist. Like the time I went to my coach’s bachelorette weekend and ended up riding 80 miles through a canyon. Or the time I went to a dinner party that turned out to be gluten, dairy, chicken, various nuts, and egg-free. Or when a couple of weeks ago I did a “holidazzle” run with some of the fittest and fastest females in Seattle. It’s my fault, really. I accept these invitations knowing full well I’m in over my head and that these speedy chicks are going to mop the floor with this Mediocre Athlete. But I go anyway because I’m a glutton for punishment and because I think of myself as fairly easygoing (probably ingrained from “youngest child syndrome” and having grown up with two older brothers barking at me to get in the back seat without asking my opinion on the intricacies of vehicular seating charts). So, with some trepidation, I accepted Ms. Cathleen Knutson‘s invitation to partake in her annual “Holidazzle” pre-Christmas holiday run through Queen Anne. The plan was simple enough: dress up in your goofiest Christmas attire and meet at Cathleen’s apartment before running to a bar for some drinks, then running some more throughout Richy Richville before returning to Cathleen’s for food, booze, and merriment. I tried not to think about how I was going to be the slowest chick there (Cathleen, aka Female Rambo, was fresh off her second straight Ironman Kona appearance and regularly kicks my ass in age group placings [meaning she wins our age group while I’m finishing in the middle of the pack on a good day], and a bunch of other females were also Kona veterans or could outswim, bike, and run me any day of the week). Since I was sorely lacking in the “Christmas merriment” clothing, I settled on a glitzy run headband I received as a Secret Santa gift, a red scarf, and my beloved shark mittens, then waved goodbye to Jas and hopped in my car. Unfortunately, the dreaded Denny traffic ensured that I was super late in getting to Cathleen’s, so by the time I got to her apartment, the girls had already left. I knew that they would end up at the Paragon Bar & Grill towards the early part of the evening, so I looked up the address on my phone. Then I realized I didn’t want to run who knows how many miles with my phone and that I had the bare minimum definition of a pants pocket (thanks for the Lululemon run capris, Teresa!). After some head scratching, I found a clean Subway napkin in my glove box, scrawled the address onto it, shoved my car keys into the tiniest pocket ever, and took off for the bar. Cathleen assured the girls that this would be a “leisurely” run, but she didn’t account for the fact that some of us would show up late and spazz-sprint through Queen Anne to try and meet up with the main group. I ran up several hills, then would get turned around and double back to where I started. Eventually I came across the sketchiest and rapiest staircase in Seattle and reluctantly made my way up them, sporting my most convincing “You best not mess with me, muggers and/or serial killers!” sneer while simultaneously trying to look where I was going in the nonexistent light to avoid tripping and breaking my neck. I made it to the top unscathed and continued on, struggling to read my scraggly handwriting...
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Seattle Half Marathon 2011 Recap: Gone with the Wind

Before yesterday I had never actually run the Seattle marathon or the half marathon. I had tried to convince Jas that we should sign up in previous years, but he never wanted to because it sounded terribly unappealing to him. I don’t blame the guy; the race is three days after Thanksgiving during a supremely shitty time of the year to be running outside in Seattle. Despite his yearly disinterest, however, this time he finally agreed to sign up for the marathon since he cut his triathlon season short and wanted something to train for before diving into Ironman training. Meanwhile, since I was finally healed of my running ailments and was once again able to run relatively well, I wanted to do the half marathon. I hadn’t run a standalone half marathon since Eugene in May 2010, and since I had only been running strong for 2 1/2 months, I didn’t really have many expectations going into the Seattle half. It’s a tough, hilly course that isn’t typically PR-friendly, so although I was hoping to run 1:45 or better (my previous best was a 1:46:46), I figured I’d be satisfied with a sub-1:50. Jason, meanwhile, was hoping to finally have a “good” marathon (his words), as he usually ends up cramping towards the end and has to compromise speed for the last few miles due to his size. This time he’d be racing 40 lbs lighter and with a ton of mileage under his belt, plus he figured the cooler temperatures would mean he’d be less likely to cramp, so he was excited and nervous for Sunday to roll around. On Saturday we did our customary “Ugh, I’m feeling so tired ahhhh why does my foot hurt oh god I’m getting sick aren’t I man this race is not going to go well” freak outs and lazed around the house hydrating and acting like hypochondriacs. We also agonized over what to wear for the race. Naturally, since the weather had been relatively mild for the past few years, weather forecasts called for supremely shitty weather on race day because we were unlucky enough to sign up for the race this year (no joke, I was watching the news and the meteorologist actually said Sunday was going to be “sucky”). It was projected to be warmer than usual temperature-wise, but it looked like we’d have to battle rain and wind, so Jason and I were scratching our heads and putting way too much effort into what to wear: Underarmour shirt and a long-sleeved shirt with tights and gloves! Wait, no, just an underarmour shirt and a t-shirt with a pair of shorts Well hold on a second, what about a long-sleeved shirt and shorts No, tights and a t-shirt! Or I could do tights, pants, underarmour, long-sleeved, gloves, a hat, a parka, a hazmat suit, ski pants… This went on for about an hour before I ultimately muttered “Fuck it, I’ll just figure it out tomorrow when I’m half-awake” and we went to bed. The next morning we woke up at 5:45 and ate breakfast (I got my “race day” coffee, something I haven’t ingested since July’s Rev 3 triathlon). I went with the uber-dweeb getup of tights, run shorts, an underarmour shirt, and a TN Multisports t-shirt and also packed a cheap pair of gloves to wear. I grabbed my fuel and some dry clothes to put on after I was done because the genius organizers decided to start the half marathoners at 7:30 and the marathoners at 8:15, so I’d have to wait around for 2+ hours after my race for Jason to be done and didn’t...
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One of Those Days

We’ve all had them–I’ve certainly had my fair share, like when I set out to ride the Lake Stevens course a couple times and made it 10 miles. Or when I set out to ride 82 miles and made it about 30 and nearly froze to death. Sometimes you just have one of those days where you set out to do something and the forces combine to eff up your ess so that you have the worst day imaginable as one thing after another goes wrong. Yesterday was one of those days for me. I had a speed run workout scheduled, so Jas and I headed to the Greenlake track on our lunch break to bust it out. The plan was to do a 20 minute warm up, then two miles all out with a five minute recovery, then 4×100 at my previous all out pace with a three minute recovery, then a 10 minute cool down. Total workout time: 1 hour. I started my warm up then began my hard effort. It sucked. Bad. My stomach was really sour and I felt like I didn’t have any speed. I stopped after one mile, figuring I’d do my recovery and then I could do another hard mile. I started my recovery time and the sour stomach went into overdrive. My easy set quickly incorporated some “awkwardly mosey over to the portapotty and unleash the fury” time (at least there were portapotties nearby — I wasn’t about to fail my #1 goal). When my stomach quieted down, I left the portapotty and dejectedly made my way back to the track. Okay, so my two mile hard effort was kind of a bust, but at least I could do my 4×100 sets, right? I started one and had a decent lap time, then did a recovery lap. During my second lap the stomach acted up again, and once again my recovery lap included a sprint to the bathroom where I had to do the walk of shame past the same tennis players who I had just passed five minutes ago. I felt like waving and announcing, “Yes, yes, it’s me again. Yes, clearly I’m having some sort of bowel issue. Thank you for noticing. Yes, I have seen Anna Kournikova on The Biggest Loser. Uh, no, I don’t really like her more than Jillian. I mean, she kind of sucks and she’s got the crappiest team, so…you know what, speaking of ‘crappiest,’ I really gotta go. Again.” After Wave of Number Two #2 came and went, I managed to bust out a super sad cool down mile, figuring that the workout was a complete bust considering my guts weren’t letting me run hard. Instead of 7-7.5 miles, I managed a fairly sad five. We drove home and I had some soup and some tea to try and quiet things down, then I headed to the allergist to get my weekly shot. I needed to get a swim workout in but wasn’t sure I’d make the swim time at our gym, so later that evening after my shot I headed over to Medgar Evers to drop in on their lap swim time. When I got there, the employee recharged my parks & rec card and was about to scan it when I looked over at the pool and noticed an unusually large amount of pre-teens occupying the lanes. Me: “Uh, is lap swim going on right now?” Employee: “No, it’s a youth swim clinic.” Me: “Oh…how long does that go for?” Employee: “From now until 6:30.”┬áDamn it all! Me: “Does lap swim start after that?” Employee: “Yeah, from 6:30 to 7:00.” Oh,...
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