Thursday, May 27, 2010

Up to Speed Part 1

Oh, so, here's a bit of catch up.

Just when I started feeling back to normal after the marathon and ready to hit the gym again, work started picking up. As you may know I was working for four tutoring companies, but that has since narrowed to two. One of these is a hospital tutoring company that only cares about money and the other is a test prep company that is really spectacular to work for. To the former I am only a body that meets with kids whose schools pay the bill. To the later, I have been deemed one of their top tutors and have become a hot commodity when it comes to subject tests. I stayed with the hospital company because it gave me a chance to work with patients in various hospitals. Nevertheless, both of these jobs started producing and the result was a 90 hour work week. That's right, 90 hours crammed into one week. That includes the 20 or so hours of commuting I do weekly around the great Boston region. After this 'marathon' work week (get it?!) needless to say I was pretty spent and ready for a night off, which leads to my first story.

Bruins Tickets
On May 10th, the Bruins were about to play Game 5 against the Phillies in a series that turned out to be one of the biggest chokes in professional playoff hockey history, and I was walking home from the local hospital where I work. It had been another day of busy tutoring and I was ready to call it a night and catch up on some much needed sleep. As I entered my building I noticed another man going for the door. He was several steps behind me, but I decided to hold to door nonetheless. After doing so I started my trek up the stairs toward to elevator. The man, who I later found out was also named John, turned an went toward the concierge, but all of the sudden stopped short and turned toward me.
"You wouldn't happen to be interested in going to the Bruins game tonight would you?" he asked.
"Umm...possibly," I replied turning toward him. "Are you selling a ticket or something?"
"Well I bought 4 tickets, one for me and three for my sons. However, one of my sons is sick and can;t make it to the game."
"How much?"
He handed me the ticket, which clearly said $152.00.
"I'm sorry, I can't afford that."
"Well it wouldn't be for face value, of course," he quickly spat back. "What do you think a fair price would be?"
"I can't pay what I think is a fair price."
"$40" he said before my words had time to echo.
"Done" I said just as quickly.
As I fished around in my wallet for what ended up being $38 dollars, he handed me the ticket and said, "Tell you what, if you come to the game tonight, just buy us some beers or something and we'll call it even."
" Are you sure? I can go to an ATM real quick."
"As long as your the one coming to the game and not selling the ticket, it's ok."
"Oh I'll be there."
After quickly changing into the only Bruins shirt I had, the one I got from donating blood at the arena, I went to the ATM and headed for the game.
Upon meeting John and his two sons, I immediately offered to buy a round of beers. However, his sons were both underage (one a senior in high school and the other a freshman in college). I offered pop, but both were fine and John was content. I settled into my seat to watch the first period. But this wasn't just any seat. The ticket was $152.00 for a reason. I was seated at center ice in the 14th row, just above the glass. I felt like I was watching a high school hockey game, except it wasn't high school. At the first intermission, John and I headed up to the concessions for a round of hot dogs and a few beers. Upon ordering the beers, the clerk asked for my ID, and I proudly produced my Minnesota ID. After a brief inspection, he said, "You have to be 25." After a brief moment of shock and disbelief I curtly asked him is this was indeed the United States of America to which responded with an unintelligible confirmation. To this I looked at John, who, by the way, had left his wallet and thus his ID at his house on Cape Cod, and simply shook my head. Upon paying for these thirst provoking hot dogs, John told me that we were even. I offered to pay for whatever else they wanted that night which turned out to be nothing. During the course of the evening I offered to pay John the $40 I promised, but he simple refused and thanked me for the hot dogs. The Bruins proceeded to play terribly and the Phillies walked away with an easy victory. Despite the loss, it was a great evening and I enjoyed every minute. All said, that is how I was able to sit at center ice for a playoff game for the price of three hot dogs.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Not Marathon Monday

Well, as Angela said, it is no longer Marathon Monday. Alas, it is more than a month past marathon Monday, and what do I have to say for myself? Where have I been? Well, sit back relax and enjoy an overview of the last few weeks...

The week after the race I was suffering. It was a painful recovery. Not muscularly, that was gone in a day or two, but my left foot hurt like hell. It slowed me down and even forced me to walk on the balls of my feet for a few days. After about a week though, that went away and I was able to walk around normally again. However, with this hindrance now absent, I had a whole new set of challenges on the horizon. As I find time over this next week, I will do my best to relate to you the course of the last few weeks and highlight some of the more interesting events. Keep your eyes posted and hopefully you'll be in for a treat.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Marathon Monday!

Yesterday I ran the Boston Marathon and what New Englanders in the Boston area call Marathon Monday. Since Patriots Day is celebrated here, most people have work off and have time to drink/line the marathon route. This makes for great motivation since there are few spots along the route without spectators cheering you on. The crowd helped substantially, but they did not lessen the pain in the final few miles. Here's how it went down.

Short Version:
Finished in 3:43.

Marathon Version:
We got up early (5:30) to be picked up by the rest of our group; we were running as 4. We then drove out to the start some 26.2 miles from Boston. We got there at around 6:30 and took about 15 minutes to find the start. The four of us were running bandit and had not registered to run, so we had to fend for ourselves to find the start and pass the time. Before leaving Boston, we found a registered runner who was lost, so we gave him a ride too. When we got out at the start, it was a little chili - mid forties or so. We didn't want to leave anything at the start, so we were in our running gear and went numb for the next few hours. To put the size of the event in perspective, there were 26,000 registered runners and about 5,000 bandits. The little town of Hopkinton was packed. After the elite men and women had gone, we hopped into a corral (sneakily so as not to be caught) and waited for the starter's pistol. From there it took 16 minutes to get to the starting line and the beginning of what would be a once in s lifetime experience.

We had talked ahead of time and decided to shoot for a 3:45 pace. That meant we would have to hold back in the beginning since there would be a ton of adrenaline. Since I'm used to explosive sports--crossfit, ski racing, etc.--it was a very anticlimactic start. The first mile slowed us more than we expected since we had to weave though literally thousands of people. After 1 mile we were already 1 minute 30 seconds back from our pace. We picked it up for the second mile and shaved that down to 30 seconds. We then held that pace for a while shaving off a few seconds here and there. Even from the beginning there were people cheering us on. Also, we found it funny that many people had what I like to call 'cocker spaniel' syndrome and were in the woods relieving themselves not even half a mile into the race. The first many miles were fun and kind of drifted by. One notable moment was when a spectator on a ledge was throwing orange slices into the crowd saw us running by. I motioned for him to throw one to me. When he did everyone I was running with thought it would go over our heads, but, in stride, i leapt up and caught it with left handed behind my head. I received many cheers and a delicious orange. Somewhere around mile 8 we lost one of our group. She was the only experienced marathoner with us, but she was having problems with her hips. She told us to go on and finished the race on her own suffering great pain and showing extreme determination.
For two of us, reaching mile 10 was the end of known territory. Over the next 16.2 miles, each step would be the furthest we've ever run. At about mile 12, one of our friends jumped into the course and ran with us a ways. She then jumped out and found the girl who had split off. At about this point we entered the halfway mark and Wellesley College. This is an all girls school where the students have been known to scream, flash, and occasionally latch on to runners. Most of the girls were holding signs saying 'Kiss Me' and were yelling. We saw no flashers. We had thought about slowing down for this section and really taking in the atmosphere and taking advantage of our surroundings, but when my two friends saw the line of girls, the both kicked it into high gear and got about 1000 high fives. One of my buddies had written his name and phone number on a few wrist bands that he planned on throwing into the crowd at Wellesley, but as soon as the moment struck him he completely forgot.
We continued to make time and eventually got ahead of pace. We were all feeling good, so we kept up our pace and cruised through several miles. Somewhere along this, probably mile 14 or 15. I stopped to use the bathroom (enough said). We had planned that I would run ahead, they would slow down and I would catch them after. Surprisingly this worked. I sprinted, so to speak, ahead, did my business, and kept a fast pace for the next mile or so. Luckily, I saw the tattered American flag boxers and Vibram 5's (that's right he ran in 5 fingers) my friends was wearing. He said the other guy had also made a pit stop. He caught up with us shortly thereafter.
The night before the race I was given the advice from an experienced runner, that BC should be thought of as the halfway mark both physically (body breakdown-wise not distance), and mentally. Unfortunately, I started getting sporadic cramps in my calves at about mile 18, 3-4 miles before BC. Once this started happening, I drank as much Gatorade and water I could get my hands on. This worked for a while and I was able to keep pace with my friends until Heartbreak Hill. My calves were cramping too much to keep up so I let them go ahead and I would face the next 8 miles alone. I didn't stop at any point on the hill, but the pain was getting pretty bad. Somewhere along the way my hamstrings joined in the fun and I would cramp up every third step or so. Nevertheless I pushed on. The rest of the race was mental. BC was huge. The student body has so much energy that they pretty much carried you through their section of course. A little while after that, at about mile 22.5, some of my friends were watching. They had beers ready and it was good. Then I hit the BU campus body, who had a similar effect to BC. I did stop to walk at some random water station to get my fill, but at this point, liquids did little for my legs. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and thought to myself, only a few more miles. At this point in the race, I drew inspiration from some of the runners around me. I saw many bands of soldiers carrying 50lb ruck sacks who had left hours beforehand, but were still en route. I also saw a man pushing a wheelchair, who had also left ahead of me, but was determined to reach the finish. Both of these sights spurred me on. For a few miles I found myself singing military running cadences, that I listen to running, half out loud half in my head. This was an emotional portion of the race and my adrenaline brought me through the final miles. When I rounded the last corner and saw the finish line, nothing could stop me. I ran as fast as my now hardly functioning legs would take me and crossed the line with a time of 3:43. The big clock said 3:59, but I later found out that we had crossed the start when it said 16.
They kept us moving through the finish area. Everyone got a heat blanket, a bag of food, water, water and more water. The registered runners got a medal and could receive medical attention if they needed. Us bandits just took whatever we were given. There were so many people at the end of the race that I was sure I wouldn't find my friends. I did a slow, very slow, walk around the meeting block and finally found one of my friends back at the beginning. He had finished in 3:35 and our other friend finished 30 second thereafter. However, this second friend, Dave, was given medical attention by his girlfriend who was working in the medical tent. We then sat and waited for the spectating crew to come pick us up. There were many congratulations and victory beers. However, someone had the bright idea to pick a bar over a mile from the finish. We set off at a slow hobble and finally reached the bar for a delicious after run celebration.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tapering I guess

As mentioned before, I did end up doing those treadmill sprints last Tuesday. They went a little something like this:

8 Rounds
30 seconds on 20 seconds off
12% grade
7.8 mph (7:41/mile)

It was a tad slower than the last treadmill hill tabata I did, and although it felt a little easier and I made it through all eight rounds, I did have to dig deep for the last three. Good news is that me feet and calves have learned to deal with POSE running. I wonder how long that will last on Monday.

Ang, as far as tapering, I feel the same way. I think I'll run today and tomorrow, but hold off all weekend. If it's not a hard work out it just doesn't feel right.