Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Asking for abuse

My bud Jason loves to heap (richly deserved) abuse on my bud Fil. So it had to take a lot of guts to show up at Good Times tonight wearing the ugliest kit I’ve ever seen. Bar none folks, just hideous. No way I could bite my tongue on this one.

The fact that it’s the uni for a REALLY fast team that won the inaugural Massachusetts Reach the Beach Relay doesn’t help. The fact that J gave me some race swag doesn’t help. It’s beyond help.

It would make an OK kit for a women’s team, or a French team or something. But dude, no. It’s like the Tour de France had a bastard child with USATF New England Grand Prix. No wonder they set the course record, I’m guessing they wanted to get off the road as quickly as possible.

As soon as I got home, I poured some bleach in my eyes and I'm feeling much better now.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Off to a good start

So far I like 2011 a lot. Saw Doug for a moment before the Wicked Frosty 4, then turned in a pretty good effort. Took over a minute off my time from a year ago, and finished 7th overall and 3rd in 40-49 age group (after the amazing Dave Dunham was pulled out of 40-49 as the 2nd overall!!!)

After a good run, I headed for the Irish American Club of Woburn for even more fun. Good food, good drink and good friends add up to a great way to celebrate a New Year.

Tonight, I'm off to Lowell to have more food and beverage with the Merrimack Valley's finest running club. Tonight features a special guest, Tony Mangan is running through town on his way around the world. A runner who is clearly crazier than my bud Jason should definitely have a tale or two to share.

Since I've consumed far more calories this year than I've burned, I'm going to try to join Tony for a bit of tomorrow's run from Lowell to Hudson. Go Tony, go!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Over the hill

When you're over the hill (Hill? What hill? I don't remember running over a hill...) there is no sense putting anything off (unless it's that credit card payment...) Men of a certain age shouldn't buy green bananas, know what I mean?

So I decided to do my 78th (and final) half marathon run of 2010 on my hilliest course. I've only been a flatlander for a couple of months, so how hard can it be? My muscles wouldn't forget how to climb, it's just like riding a bike.

Yeah, just like riding a bike.

Ouch, today's one of those "hurts so good" days.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Time to hit the hills

I was about to walk through the gate at Hookslide Kelly's last night as half a dozen runners flashed by me. Literally. Decked out for a run on snowbank-narrowed streets, the boys were lit up with flashers like Christmas trees. Very seasonally appropriate, very festive.

I knew my arrival was going to be really close to the 6:30 start, and was glad that I made it because I didn't know the course. I jumped onto the end of the conga line, and off we went.

After dodging some traffic in downtown Lowell, I settled in with Jason, David and Cullen for an exciting run. The company was good, but wasn't the source of the excitement. It was the ice on the downhills that made the run an adventure, and reminded me that I am in need of a last will and testament.

Another reminder followed, as J left me behind on a fairly steep grade. I've become a flatlander. For several weeks leading up to Hartford, I avoided my hilliest courses to rest my legs. After beating the hell out of my legs in Hartford, I stuck to my pancake flat Mass Ave and bikepath courses for the most part. When I started chasing J around the indoor track at the Lexington fieldhouse, I had a brand new excuse for cutting my calves and quads a break.

Gasping at the top of the hill, a terrible thought occurred to me. Stu's 30k really isn't very far off. So track-tired legs be damned, it's time to take to the Heights and get ready because Stu's is no place for a flatlander.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Taking a mulligan on WMBL (Part II)

About 24 hours after I passed my first WMBL test, I failed my second.

Unlike the day before, my morning walk with Chui was uneventful and I found myself driving through the largely deserted streets of Arlington Center. As I passed the temple of tasty treats known as the Gail Ann Donut Shop, an Irish electrician's box truck pulled away from the left hand curb up the road.

No problem I think to myself. Medford Street's a one way, I've got my headlights on and I'm not in his blind spot...

If my Irish friend (who shall remain nameless) had a right hand turn signal, he was doing his best to preserve the bulb's life expectancy. I was doing about 30 as I traveled in the right hand lane and approached the truck which was lumbering up to speed.

I was right next to him and noticed the gap between our vehicles was rapidly disappearing. Our doors were right next to each other. I know he didn't check his mirror as he left the curb, if he had he would have seen my headlights on the move. I know he didn't actually turn his head and look right (for either a direct view or using his mirror) because I was looking at him as he closed in on me. If he had used his directional (yeah, I know nobody does...), I would have known he was coming and hit my horn for a second to say good morning.

I hit the gas to get out of his way and just cleared his fender. At this point I know my fellow motorist is aware of my presence because he leans on his horn like my carefully coiffed friend from the day before.

I've created my share of close calls, and I've had one at-fault accident in 30+ years of combat certified Baystate driving. I know stuff happens, but given the position of the vehicles when he gained consciousness the only way for this to be my fault was if the crew of the Enterprise had beamed my Jeep onto the street next to him. As he leans on his horn, WMBL moves directly into the fail category.

At the next light, I rolled down my window. In the spirit of holiday giving I shared my thoughts on looking at the lane you would like to move into and using a turn signal. With a degree of sarcasm that only a brogue can produce, he calmly dismissed my tirade with "oh I'm soooooooo sorry, buh-bye."

That was a useful exchange. One of those situations that leaves me wondering if I was acting like a bigger jerk than the jerk. It didn't seem to faze my new friend at all. Since he drives this way with his (or his employer's) name emblazoned on the truck, it was pretty unlikely to change his driving habits. It didn't seem to raise his blood pressure, but mine was certainly elevated.

I'm pretty sure this was a complete "whatever" non-event for the electrician, forgotten before he turned off of Route 60. At least I get to take away some food for thought (the only kind of food that won't add to the holiday pounds I've tacked on.)

So I'm going to give myself a mulligan, and go back to the drawing board to try developing better perspective and more patience overall. Like my running, the blueprint includes consistent effort, incremental gains, and occasional failure. At 48 years old, I can only say "better late than never".

Given my previous attempts, there should be some rich fodder for blog entries. But you have to dream it before you can do it, and this is a good time for renewed dreams however unlikely they may seem.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Taking a mulligan on WMBL (Part I)

I've never been big on New Year's resolutions, because most of them have the lifespan of a mayfly. But I do believe it is a good idea to occasionally pause the headlong rush toward an eternal dirtnap and reflect on your personal state of being.

On a very regular basis, the motorists of Arlington and its surrounding environs operate their vehicles in a manner that is likely to cause me grievous bodily harm as I run (or drive). I take great offense at the more egregious threats, and don't hesitate to share my thoughts in some very colorful terms. After doing so, I often wind up feeling like as big a jerk as the NASCAR wannabe trying to turn me into a new hood ornament.

I decided to make a pre-New Year's commitment to Wag More & Bark Less, in my travels on foot or behind the wheel. It lasted about a day, but I think it's a worthy goal so I'm going to take a mulligan and see if I can 't make it stick for two or more days (give me strength Spaghetti Monster, give me strength...)

The kindling was an event on my morning walk with Chui. Yes, in the urban jungle your fellow man can tick you off on a ten minute trip around the block at 6:15 in the morning. I was at a major signaled intersection where I normally wait for a walk light. I was running a bit behind schedule, and was sizing up the opportunity to cross before the walk signal. An older model Subaru wagon was coming down the hill toward Chui and I, at an agonizingly slow pace. Somebody's lost...

When the Subaru finally made it to where I was standing, a white haired nana seemed to be trying to get the passenger window down, but she was too flustered to do it. I tried the door handle, and found it unlocked.

"Oh thank you...I'm looking for Woodland Street...I'm the lost mother in-law..."

I'm terribly sorry, I'm not familiar with the street...

"It's near the park" she said hopefully.

Oh boy. If Arlington has anything, it's parks. I rattled off a couple, and on number three I hit a homerun with Menotomy Rocks Park. Just to be sure, I asked if it was off of Jason Street.

"Yes it is" said nana, and her face showed great relief and hope for the first time.

That's when WMBL was subjected to its first test. The b*tch with the $300 Newbury Street haircut in the shiny new SUV leans on her horn for all she's worth.

I check the intersection, there is nana's beat up Subaru, the SUV with a very special human at the wheel, me and my dog. Are you sh*tting me? My first instinct is to go nuclear and tell her to go the f*** around, but I generally have an excellent profanity filter around seniors and kids and thankfully it kicked in. But I'm definitely thinking "who the hell do you think you are?"

The hope and relief has now left nana's face, and she's flustered again.

"I should go...I'm messing things up..."

No. Just pull over, she can go around.

I gave nana directions with simple landmarks, and thankfully Jason Street is another signalled intersection right on Mass. Ave. The look of relief and hope returned, and she seemed very confident that once she got into the right neighborhood she would be all set.

Score one for WMBL. The victory would be short lived however...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Not so new...and probably not even improved

(I'm tired.)

Running can teach you some things, and one thing I think I've learned is you almost always have more to give than you think you do. The same legs that were exhausted from carrying you almost three miles are recharged as you draw close to the finish of a 5k. Can a tired old man apply this lesson of resource reserves to other aspects of his life?


I know I enjoy my bud Jason's blog very much, and look forward to his web blathering. He's been bugging me to bring the very short-lived Dawg Blawg back to life but I've found about a million excuses not to do so. One major obstacle is the incredibly mundane nature of my very existence, but most of the excuses really boil down to the time, energy and gray matter required.

Can't do much about the gray matter, but I do believe I have more energy in reserve than I've previously been willing to admit. More effective application of this "newfound" energy should result in more available time, right? Right?

So here it is, the return of the DawgBlawg. Remember J, you asked for it. And it might even bring a smile to the face of my sister, and Mel and maybe even Toad. Who knows?

Like my dad used to say, Why not? What the hell?