Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Funniest IM Ever

A "friend" sent me this IM recently. I almost peed my pants.

(Beth - this is for you, but I think everyone will get a kick out of it.


That title has nothing to do with anything. I just can't come up with any sort of witty title.

There really isn't much happening here. Fall continues to come and go and come and go in the north country. One day cold and rainy - one day sunny and beautiful - three days cloudy, cold and rainy - half a day sunny - etc. - etc. This has been one of the suckiest falls in memory. It will all just make winter seem that much longer. I better figure out something to do to entertain myself (No! Not that way, you dirty birds.) I mean in addition to running and biking on the trainer.

Speaking of running and biking on the trainer - I have started an off-season training program. Monday was my first day. It was stellar! It was also a rest day. Yesterday, was my first real day of training - one hour on the trainer. Oh, I should point out that my daughter was home sick (more about that later) so I had a terrible time finding time to do something I don't really like to do anyway. But I completed it - heart rate in the target range. This morning I ran. Not like that is any news, but I didn't run with "the ladies." I have been encouraged to run with "the guys." So "the ladies" and I are currently separated, for no other reason than they know I want to run faster. This morning's run was good. I could tell I hadn't run since last Thursday and biked yesterday, but it was good. "The guys" were very welcoming and well behaved. Actually, the conversations were considerably tamer than "the ladies" - no talk of vaginas, poop or snot. Not to say "the guy's" conversations were "better," just different (football, bars, news.) But now my back is sore. Like right in the middle. It has to be from the bike. Somewhere along the line here I have to work in some weights and core work. It's a lot to schedule!

It seems like the kids have been trading off sick days from school lately. The crazy thing is their illnesses are the most innocuous illnesses ever. No seasonal flu, no Hini flu, no explosive diarrhea - just a cough, a mild ear infection or a low grade fever with no other symptoms. E has been home four days in the last two weeks with a mild cough and a minor ear infection that is being treated with antibiotics. If I was my mom and E was me, she would be in school, but because we are not those people, she gets to stay home - and it's pure torture. She leaves a trail of destruction behind her wherever she goes so the house is a total disaster. She is a tremendous lallygagger as well. An hour of homework takes her three to complete because she gets distracted and insists on fighting with A and I about getting her work done. It is not this way when she is in the classroom. Arrrgghh! Please, go back to school!

So, there. That's Wednesday. As boring as a Wednesday can be. Carry on!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Greatest Story Ever Written

F came home with a story he wrote last week. I am rather shocked by how good it is.

The Legendary Sword
Once there was a sword a
legendary sword. A long time ago
a man named Terrace found the
sword! But...
...trouble came. Giant mushrooms
with a goblen with a
crossbow! He went into the
portal and he returned to town.
He showed the sword to his
mom and dad "wow"! they said
(by the way this was made in
mideval times) He showed
everyone in town and went
to bed.
Although impressed, I also have some issues with this fine piece of 2nd grade amateur literature.

I have to admit to a sneaking suspicion of plagiarism, but that's only because I had no idea the kid had it in him - if it's true.

His punctuation is for shit. I mean really, use a comma once in awhile.

Who names their kid "Terrace?" I know these are "mideval times" and all, but why name your kid after an architectural detail? They might as well have named him "Lanai."

This story has more holes in it than Swiss cheese.

Then the "trouble" came in the form of giant mushrooms and a "goblen?" What, was the land dark and covered in a thick layer of shit? Where the hell do the mushrooms come in? And what kind of mushrooms? Poisonous? Hallucinogenic? If the were hallucinogenic that would totally explain the "portal." And that would make for an awesome story!

And what kind of ungrateful parents does "Terrace" have? The guy slogs through a world of shit that breeds mushrooms and an armed "goblen" and then goes through a "portal" and returns with this kick-ass "legendary sword" (if that illustration is any indication, that is one bad-ass mofo of a "legendary sword") and all mom and dad can say is "wow!" Not even "Wow!" or "WOW!" Those parents have some pretty high standards especially considering they saddled their son with a fancy name for a deck.

Then, to curry favor with the townsfolk he showed them all his "legendary sword" and we can only assume that they were as underwhelmed as mom and dad, so he just said "screw it" and went to bed. What? Really? Maybe he needed to sleep off his magic mushroom portal trip and he just couldn't deal. Who knows.

Meanwhile, we can only assume that the "goblen" is traipsing around the countryside with his cross-bow all tripped out on hallucinogenic magic mushrooms and wreaking all kinds of havoc. The kid really needs to figure out how to resolve all these plot holes if he ever wants to make it to 3rd grade.

But, perhaps I am selling my son short. Perhaps this story is a cry for help. It is very possible that this is a thinly veiled plea for positive affirmation and recognition that he does a good job using a knife and fork at dinner and goes to bed on time.

"Terrace" - the hero - is most assuredly, F. The "goblen" could be his sister and the "cross-bow" might represent the withering way she talks to him sometimes. The disaffected mom and dad - that is so transparent. Obviously it represents his mother (I am not sure why I am not represented in the story, but I suspect I am the unnamed deity that protects him from harm and leads him to the "legendary sword." I could also be the "mushrooms" because I am kept in the dark and fed bullshit.) The "town" is a melding of his mother and sister as they sit at the dinner table and their
unimpressive reaction to his skillful use of eating utensils. (I usually stand in the kitchen and eat so I can't be included in that miserable hoard of "townsfolk.") The "legendary sword" is a representation of all eating utensils. "Bed?" Well, that is just bed. Duh.

So there are two ways to look at this. I guess I could look at it other ways, but you are all already bored out of your minds or incensed at the hardheartedness of my wife toward our son and so overcome with admiration for my incredible parenting prowess, that I will leave it at two.


F playing Mad Libs.

F: (reading) "What is 'past Tennessee?'"
Me: "Do you mean 'past tense?'"
F: "Yeah."

E: "Give me a noun."
F: "Fart"
F: "Hahahahaha! This is comedy gold!"

Monday, October 19, 2009

Porcupine Lake and My First Trail Runs

This past weekend we went to northern Wisconsin to hang out at my aunt and uncle's cabin. The kids had an extra long weekend due to the Minnesota teacher's convention so we didn't feel like sitting around the house staring at each other - let's go run around in the woods.

After work on Thursday we piled everyone in the car - including the dog - and hit the road. The weekend was supposed to be cold and warm so we over-packed and it took me way longer to load the car than expected. It was dark by the time we arrived, but Friday morning greeted us with decent weather - although a little chilly. Kids, get outside!

Rake up all the leaves in the forest.

F sporting the "Northwoods Ninja" look and E working the "Northwoods Homeless Person" look.

Learn to start a fire.

"Now kids, the first thing we do in Northern Wisconsin is learn to play with matches." (That is my aunt - the kids' great-aunt. She is a Girl Scout leader so she is fully qualified.)

My mom - "Grandma" - and the kids.

Good job with the matches, kids.

Build your own shelter. Make it sturdy, it's where you will be staying for three days.

A, reliving her favorite high school graduation picture poses.

As you can see we spent much of our time traipsing around the woods. The dog had a wonderful time following every scent he came across. Turns out he is a pretty good mouser. He found two mice and proceeded to walk around with them hanging out of his mouth by the tail, flipping them up in the air, pouncing on them and picking them up again to do it all over again. Good times. That should probably have been an indication that we should keep a close eye on him, but we are dumb.

It's hunting season. The dog needed a jacket so he wouldn't get shot.

After he had disappeared for about an hour, I started to get worried. I started calling him and then I heard barking. That's never a good sign. It should be noted that there are bears, wolves, coyotes, foxes, skunks, raccoons and any number of other critters in these woods, so I was fearing the worst.

Here is where the trail running comes in. The dog never barks and when he does it's like two or three times and then he's done. Well, he was barking like crazy. Not a panicked bark. An excited bark. Son of a bitch, he is fighting with something.

Standing near the cabin, I could easily tell the direction his bark was coming from so I started running toward him. I ran down a ravine and up the other side.

Through a heavily wooded area.

Then through a bog and found him fully engaged harassing something under a log. When I yelled at him he looked up at me and I immediately knew what he was tangling with.

A damn porcupine.

He had a face full of quills, but was undaunted.

I grabbed his collar and dragged him away from the porcupine but he fought me to get back at it. In my haste I had neglected to grab a leash so my only option was to pick him up and carry him back home - through the bog, through the dense woods, down the ravine and up the ravine.
He weighs 60 lbs! All in my Blundstone boots (surprisingly capable trail running footwear.) It was like half a mile.

Once home we started yanking out quills. Luckily none of them were in his nose or eyes.

Blissfully unaware that he has over a dozen porcupine quills firmly embedded in his face.

We got a pair of pliers to do the job.

Northern Wisconsin medical equipment.

He wasn't real excited to have these removed so I had to be a little persuasive.

Yes, I am fully laying on top of my dog. And, yes, I am getting a little thin on top.

We were able to get all of them out without breaking any, but man is that dog strong.

Almost done.

After all that excitement and hard work, I didn't need to do the run I had been planning. We kept the dog on a leash the rest of the night and spent more time around the fire.

Gotta love the fire.

Apollo thinks he is a lap dog.

A likes her beer. (E likes her marshmallows.)

A likes her beer A LOT!

My smokey family.

I am the dog bed.

Sunday morning we were all well rested and got packed up to head home. We let the dog roam around a little bit and kept a close eye on him. For awhile.

The kids went to visit their fort one more time and the dog followed them, unbeknown to us. Suddenly, I had a panicked feeling. I ran to ask the kids if they had seen him and they said, "Oh, yeah. He went that way." Back into the bog!

I ran back to the cabin to grab a leash this time. When I got back to the top of the ravine, I could hear him barking. This time it was even further away. I ran my ass back to the spot where the porcupine had originally been, fearing that he went back to settle the score. When I got there the porcupine was gone and I could still hear the dog barking.

I was closer and had to run up another heavily wooded hill at which point I saw the dog with is his head behind a tree. When I yelled at him, he poked his head around and I saw his face again covered with quills - more than twice as many as last time.
That fricking dog picked up the scent of that porcupine and followed it to it's new hiding spot.

When I went to grab his collar he took off. I ended up chasing him back toward the cabin for over an hour at a pretty good pace.

We got him back to the cabin and proceeded to pull as many quills out as possible, but about four broke off. He didn't seem to care and after I was done he tried to lick my face.

When we got home we took him to the vet to have the rest removed.

Sad pup.

Awaiting his fate.

The vet was easily able to get the few that were still embedded and he was back to his old self this morning.

Next time we'll bring a long leash and I will bring my trail running shoes.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I Used to Have Something to Say

Now I am just a sullen shell of my former self. Why? You may ask. Or perhaps you don't care and you are now moving on to some other site, because the potential for this post to become:

a) weird
b) boring
c) depressing
f) rife with hyphenated words
g) any combination - including "all" - of the above

is quite real and you just don't have that kind of time to waste. Or you don't care, but think there might be something funny. Or you do care and you are my mother.

After a brief chat with Natalie, I think I may know what my problem is. Or at least the problem that is contributing to this lack of something to say. (We all know I have many "problems" and I should be specific when I blame an action on "my problem" - but I digress.)

I have PESSD. "You just made that up!," you say. And in agreement I say, "Yes. Yes, I did." To which you, in turn, reply, "Well, what the hell does it stand for?" And I reply, in kind, "It means Post Endurance Sport Stress Disorder." You cock your head slightly to the side and sensitively respond, "You are an idiot." To which I respond, equally sensitively, "Touché."

Regardless of your feelings toward my made-up malady, my personality, endurance sports or acronyms I am quite sure my feeling of ennui is directly related to the end of my racing season with my completion of the Twin Cities Marathon, at which I did not develop bloody nipples or poo my pants, and watching the Ironman World Championships in Kona, during which I did develop sympathetic bloody nipples, saddle sores and explosive diarrhea - weird. These events were big milestones - the races, not the other "events" - and now I am on the steady decline to cold, darkness and snow. Riding my bike inside, lonely weight training and Christmas shopping. Really, can anything be more depressing? ("Yes. This post.")

I am determined to get over this dip in my mood. I have considered increasing my off-season training, but that will take time to build up so I don't injure myself. I have considered the use of prescription drugs - oh come on, I am already using prescription drugs. Really, who did I think I was fooling? I have considered illegal drugs, but I like to sleep too much to do meth and I already eat too much to smoke "the chronic" (How totally "street" did I sound right there?) So, what I have decided to do to help myself (because, frankly, none of you are any help) is pick an obscure topic and rant about it. Today's topic: Lanai v. Porch

There were many references to "sitting on the lanai" by people who were racing Kona, spectating at Kona or knew people doing either of those two things. At some point D made the observation that a "lanai," which sounds so tropical and exotic is really just a deck, patio or porch in the rest of the world. Good point, D! So as to not go off "half-cocked," but to be "fully-cocked" I did a little research. (I Googled "lanai." I truly meant "little research.")

First of all, Lanai is an island. The sixth-largest of the Hawaiian islands and known for growing pineapples. A "lanai" is defined as "an Hawaiian-style covered veranda or patio oftentimes furnished and used as a living room." So let's be clear, if it doesn't have a roof, it's a deck, patio or veranda. My mother-in-law has a condo in Florida. It's your typical high-rise condo built in the late 50's or early 60's with balconies hanging off the side and yet everyone refers to their balcony as a "lanai." This is just ridiculous. It has a "roof" only because there is another "balcony" above. You can fit, like, two lawn chairs on there - far from "furnished and used like a living room," and it's in fricking Florida! It has nothing to do with Hawaii!

SO. All you people (you know who you are) who feel it necessary to throw around the word "lanai" - you are all rétards. I bet when you're at home, if you called your falling-down rotting deck a "lanai" when your neighbors were over swilling your piss-warm PBR and eating grilled salmonella burgers, they would take off their seed company trucker hats and pummel you to within an inch of your sun-burned, washboard-ab sporting, super-fit life. Even in Hawaii a deck is still a deck! So knock it off!

NOW. Before you all get uppity and do a "little more research" and point out some obscure comparison, definition or crayon drawing of a veranda, patio, deck, porch or sun-room that looks remarkably like a "lanai" I will stop you and point out that I don't care. Remember when I made reference to the level of my "cocked-edness"? Well, the fact that I was "cocked" to any degree should be an indication that I am a a guy and as such, I prefer to believe only what my small brain can discern from one Google search. Let's not confuse the argument with more "facts."

Well, I feel much better. I can feel the endorphins rushing through my veins. The overcast skies seem brighter, the death-metal I am listening to sounds happier, the obnoxious holiday theme sweaters surrounding me are not quite as glittery and the "mom-jeans" I see around me are more "flattering", dare I say - sexy.

And with that it appears I have rediscovered my voice. I did have something to say. And I don't doubt that this post has inspired all of you to say something as well. (Something like, "You, sir, are a complete moron!")

Monday, October 5, 2009

Twin Cities Marathon 2009 Race Report

Hopefully this won't be some epic (or epically boring) post. It is only running after all.

Sunday was a perfect day to run a marathon. It was about 45 with no rain in the forecast. We hopped on the bus near CS's house so we wouldn't have to worry about parking downtown. We get off the bus and are walking toward the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome - where the start is - and suddenly some dude from the local FOX station steps in front of us and asks if we want to talk about the marathon on camera. As a rule I decline and add that my handlers in the witness protection program would not appreciate seeing my face on TV. It also didn't help that I looked like a longshoreman with my black knit cap on. After some hemming and hawing and misdirection on our part we dodged that bullet and made our way to "The Dome."

Nothing much to report here. We ran into a long line of people waiting to go in the one door to get into "The Dome." As we got closer we realized they were doing a security check of our bags. One guy. At one door. I looked to the right and saw a wide open gate so I, and about 50 other people, peeled off and went in there. Security checkpoint = FAIL! Besides if I was going to be packing heat I wouldn't have it in my gear bag anyway. I would have it in my running holster.

Once inside
"The Dome" nothing to report. (This is quite possibly the most boring post you have read so far, I am sure.) Smelled like Ben Gay. ("How long have know...Ben Gay?")

Everyone peed and pooped as usual. (Sorry, I really got nothing here.)

The start was uneventful. We were in Corral 1 - which I love - so we were only about a minute behind the gun. CS and I started together but I took off after about a mile and a half. I was working my plan and CS was working hers. Hers worked better.

The miles really clicked along nicely. I had started with a long sleeve shirt, but that was discarded by about mile three. I was drinking the Powerade on the course at every stop and about eight miles in my stomach started to feel a little "funny." I have had tummy trouble in the past so I wasn't too worried. I had taken Immodium with breakfast so I figured that would help. And for a long while it did.

The half-marathon split came up and I was dead on my goal. I was feeling fresh and was working my plan, although my stomach was still feeling "funny." I continued to drink the Powerade and after each time, I noticed my stomach felt worse, but then the feeling subsided.

As we made the turn on a straight stretch of River Road I realized I could see the 3:20 pace balloons ahead of me. They were within reach and I had plenty of time to work my way up without blowing. I was making great progress. My splits were right where they should be and my heart rate was good. I was thinking, "I can totally do this!"

When someone suggested I run a marathon I was like, "No way! I don't want bloody nipples or to shit myself!" Well Sunday - I had neither but the the second one came pretty close.

Around mile 18 I started to feel a little gassy, but I knew it wouldn't just be gassy for long and started to look for a porta-a-potty. Alright, 3:20 is out the window, but let's just go for a PR. My potty stop helped and I got right back on the horse. For about two miles or so.

I took a couple more cups of Powerade, but they made me really nauseous. I tried a couple cups of water. Same effect. So I stopped drinking. That combined with the "fluids" and nutrients I left somewhere along mile 19 left me dehydrated and I started to bonk - hard!

And I was so close. Look at the splits from my Garmin and you can see.

Mile 19 jumps up for the potty stop, but then I am back under 8 minutes for a couple of miles and then the downward slide.

For the last three and a half miles I would run until I thought I would puke, then walk until the feeling subsided, then run again.
It was a terrible way to finish. CS came by at this point and I ran up to her and we ran for a little while together. She confided in me that she thought she may have "sharted" (she hadn't) so we were both having some GI issues - brothers in arms. She finished with another PR. I did suck it up and ran the last half mile or so to the finish so I finished running. Then, to add insult to injury a nice light, freezing cold rain started as I was coming through the finishing chute. Now I was feeling shitty, dehydrated, wet and cold. Hypothermia here I come!

That was close, too. I was really considering hitting medical to get some fluids and to get warmed up. I got my gear bag and even while it was still sprinkling I got into dry clothes. Then the rain stopped. People finishing behind me never got wet. Thanks, GOD!

So - net-net of the Twin Cities Marathon 2009 t-odd Edition - 3/4 kickass marathon. 1/4 marathon betrayed by my stomach. Overall, I am encouraged. I took people's advice and went for it. My fitness was great, my plan was great, I was holding it all together. I just need to figure out what I can eat and drink that won't make me feel like hell. I also have to remind myself that this is only my fourth marathon, I have only been running for two full years and I would say I am doing pretty well. I came through healthy and injury free. One of these times it will all come together - probably when I least expect it.

On a lighter note:

I didn't hear too many strange words of encouragement, but CS reported a few.

  • Love it! (Two times!)
  • You're almost to the point where it's all downhill from there.

And one of my favorites reported by CS's friend who rode on the bus with us: As she was getting to the top of Heartbreak Hill at her first Boston Marathon and totally dying some dude stops cheering and tells her, "My hands are really sore from clapping."

So now I am on to my off-season. Main goal: get my nutrition figured out. 2010 is going to be a HUGE year!

Thanks to everyone who offered their advice and support. It is all very much appreciated.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Ironman Snobs

As I am preparing to run the Twin Cities Marathon on Sunday, I can't help but think about next year and the fact that I won't be able to run this race (or at least run it well) because I will still be recovering from IronMoo.

In fact, A and I were just "discussing" (read: arguing) about the schedule for IronMoo weekend 2010. When I explained to her that participants would need to arrive on Friday for the race on Sunday her response was, "Well, that makes absolutely no sense." I really think she is coming around and getting in the spirit of the whole thing.

Then this morning CS sent me the following email:
I just thought of something...

Next year at this time as everyone is getting ready to run the TCM, we can be total Ironman snobs and say stuff like, "Just a marathon?" or "You mean you're doing just the run portion of an Ironman?" I plan to use these lines a lot with Mike [CS's husband.] :)

Which brings me to a new addition to your list, Todd. Although this one can only be cheered at a marathon of course...

"You got this! [It's] just a marathon, I did an Ironman a few weeks ago!!"
Of course this "encouragement" is only fully marginally effective if you aren't on crutches, in a wheelchair or embroiled in divorce proceedings stemming from your "successful" completion of an Ironman.