Wednesday, March 28, 2012

4000 word race reports

Every so often, I think about these volumes of literature that endurance athletes routinely churn out after every race.  I ask myself, which contributes more to the existence of these recaps, the personalities of the people drawn to these events, or the very nature of the endurance race experience?  I never fully decide on an answer.  My first inclination is that it's the personalities of the participants.  No doubt, lots of similar personality traits amongst distance yoggers and tri fags.  Yet, I've been passionate about competing in sports since I was old enough to throw a ball, and only yogging has ever given me the urge to write a detailed account of a competitive experience.  Of course, when I try to identify specifically what about the experience makes me want to write it down, I can't quite capture it.  If I think about a tennis match, it's every bit as interesting or more than an OTCY.  The physical challenges, periods of surging and crashing confidence, momentum swings, fighting to retain and then losing focus, gamesmanship, confrontations over shitty lines would make for great stuff.  I retain vivid memories of matches from 15-20 years ago, but never have the urge to write them down.  Similarly, imagine a QB writing a blog about his in game experience that went into the detail that you'd see in a typical marathon report.  It has tremendous potential.  Yet, I don't know of the existence of any such thing.  Even when athletes put out their memoirs, the nitty gritty details about the actual in game competitive experiences are typically minimal.  Only endurance athletes seem to relish that stuff.  Whatever, it all makes for a good shallow lunch yog pondering. 

Well, with such thoughts swirling in my head, and with the Carlsbad OTCY approaching, I was reminded of my very first race recap.  Carlsbad OTCY 2006.  I signed up.  I yogged.  My on-again off-again x-girlfriend at the time sent a random social e-mail (I didn't yet do much texting) that amongst other things inquired as to how the OTCY went.  I seized the opportunity to write my very first race report, which I was dying to do anyway.  I dug up the e-mail:

my 5k was good.  it was definitely the best 5k i've run so far, much more so than last year when i felt terrible before the race and was dead after mile 1.  This time I was actually determined to not overdo it on the first mile and I think that was critical.  Everyone just goes tearing out of the gates and I had to make a conscious effort to just let them pass and fall back into a comfortable stride. 

About a quarter of a mile into it I realized my shoelace had come undone and I had to stop and retie it.  I was pissed!  Then I got behind all these slow people and had to waste a bunch of energy dodging around.  But I think my 1 mile interval workouts really helped because then I at least had an idea of where to exert myself and really stuck with it.  I passed the first mile marker at around 6:08 and felt pretty good about where I was at that point. 

By this time though I started to pass all these people who had blown themselves away with their first mile and were already dying, which sucks because it helps to use people around me as pacers.  There was one other guy who looked like he was pacing himself well and I ran with him for the next 3/4 of a mile or so as we started pushing past a lot of people.  The 2nd mile seemed to be a lot of incline, but I still felt good and was passing a lot of people and was pretty pleased when I hit the 2nd mile marker at 12:22. 

I lost the guy I was pacing with and pushed ahead for the last mile.  I just focused on my pace, passed some more people, and really probably could have pushed a little harder but since I didn't have a good idea in my head of where the finish was I didn't want to give that extra burst too soon. I had a lot left for the sprint at the end and crossed the finish line at 19:02 i think.  If I'm lucky maybe my chip time will be 18:59 or something.  That would be nice. 

I feel like it was my best managed 5k so far, but kind of like my philadelphia distance run where i went out in 7:12 miles and came back on the 2nd half in 6:47s, since I had so much left at the end I know I could have pushed more out of myself.  I mean nobody passed me for the last two miles of the race!  I guess I'll have to just keep racing and keep trying and see if I can figure it out eventually.  That whole idea about joining a club probably isn't half bad either. 

Well, the next time I saw her, she told me in no uncertain terms that my decision to write in so much detail about the race was FUCKING. WEIRD.  When she asked about the race, she expected no more than 3 words in response.  And to think, her claims of having run a 20 flat 5k in high school (later discovered to be an exaggeration) were the onus for my initial dabblings with yogging back in Philadelphia.  I guess the personalities that gravitate towards high school XC can be very different from those who pursue endurance events as adults.  I think she ended up marrying a guy who does not yog.  Probably a solid decision there. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

As a word document

The theme of my early morning today was prep work.  Up at 5:50 with the goal of cleaning last night's dirty dishes, prepping and making the french press coffee, bagging my snacks and lunch for the day, cutting the fruits and vegetables and loading them in the blender for my latest smoothie concoction, prepping baby girl's bottle, showering, shaving my balls, being ready to cuddle, change and feed baby girl when she woke, blending the smoothie, out the door and to work on time for once.  Doesn't seem like much but for me that's quite a challenge.  Anyways, right around 6:07 when I was midway through the massive pile of dirty pots, this scene I haven't watched in years popped into my head, right at the exact moment where he says "As a word document."  The rythm of the conversation up to that point, the tone, the look on his face...I just put those 5 seconds on a continuous loop and it kept getting funnier every time.  That's just the best.  6am, dark out side, in the kitchen in my boxers doing dishes and giggling uncontrollably.  Socializing with other humans is so overrated. 

Forgot to manscape and got to work 6 minutes late.  Nobody's perfect. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

This is how I do it

There's an activity called yogging.  I used to do it regularly.  Not so much anymore.  I'm not sure exactly how little, because I don't track these things, but it's minimal.   Also, in a feeble attempt to be a considerate boyfriend, I recently co-participated in a 10 day cleanse that involved a very restrictive diet.  This resulted in 13.5lbs of weight loss in the first 7 days, bottoming out at 162.5lbs and staying there for the remainder of the cleanse.  I didn't really want to lose weight, and was aware that if I actually knew the proportions of Fat vs Water vs Muscle loss that made up those 13.5lbs I would probably be horrified at what I was doing to myself.  I felt completely sapped of energy, and my few attempts at yogging felt like I was starting at around mile 33 from the second I stepped out the door.  Yet it was still enthralling to see the numbers dip day after day, thinking of the last time I was at that weight (16yrs old), and realizing that I was exactly 40lbs lighter than the first time I stepped on that same scale when I first moved to California 7+ years ago.  I knew there would be some disappointment in watching the numbers rise after the cleanse was over, and I'd think about what the scale would say each time I considered eating something that tasted good.  I didn't like the mindset that was developing, so the weekend after it ended, I ate a bunch of burgers and pizza, drank beer, and resolved to stop looking at the scale cold turkey.  Fuck it.  But before fully committing to my ascension back to my starting weight, only with more fat and less muscle, I signed up for Carlsbad.  Which brings me to my upcoming OTCYs. 

There are 2 OTCYs on my schedule.  First, the Carlsbad 5000 OTCY on April 1.  I decided to completely ignore the lack of speed work or volume in my training, my increasingly poor performances in my last 5 OTCYs, the fact that I generally feel like ass most of the time, and instead postulate that my newfound temporary 162.5lb frame will be able to fly in spite of it all.  Following Cbad, on the last weekend of June I have the STCC (Squaw-to-California-Club) 101.  This OTCY requires co-participation and completion of the less prestigious Western State Endurance Yog, followed by a 1 mile yog to the legendary Auburn dive bar California Club and consumption of at least one beer prior to last call.  Additionally, in STCC 101 official timing results, one hour will be deducted for each shot of tequila slurped out of the bellybutton of the Drew Barrymore look-alike bartender.  Barrymore's agreement to participate is unconfirmed but expected. 

So I got to thinking about these OTCYs.  I'm obviously completely unprepared and they won't go well.  Furthermore, this is exactly my routine.  I looked through my athlinks results the other day from the beginning.  Counting the OTCYs that are missing, I'm over 100 for my lifetime.  I'll give myself a pass on the first 20 or so.  I got my money's worth.  Yogging was new, I knew nothing about training, the learning curve was steep, the possibilities were wide open every time out, and it was exciting just to be able to yog several miles in a row at a pace that would have been an above average mile time in 5th grade gym class.  But around 2007 I decided that I'd try to learn something about training and actually make a point of improving.  Looking through each of the results, with the exception of perhaps 5 races in 5 years, it's all the same.  Mediocre results that were inevitable due to poor preparation.  So what keeps me coming back?  I can't help myself.  At some point, no matter how brief, I get an image of success and satisfaction with my performance into my head (realistic success relative to my ability level, I don't think I'm going to win or anything), and before I know it, I've clicked the mouse a few times and I'm signed up for another one.  I've never actually felt this theoretical sense of accomplishment after any OTCY, even the very few where I've actually prepared and performed well compared to my expectations, but I continue to believe it will happen some day.  This summer at Headlands 50 there was an awesomely low key finish line.  They had marked out a line in chalk in the mostly empty Rodeo Beach parking lot, and as I shuffled across the finish, the race organizer guy acknowledged me out of the corner of his eye without turning his head away from his laptop screen and said in a complete monotone "nice job."  I trudged over to a picnic table to enjoy some soup and conversation with the Suffer Seeker and the American Hero, and about 15 minutes later a young kid came across the line.  He was treated to the same uneventful finish line experience that I got, yet immediately upon crossing the line, he raised both clenched fists over his head and let loose with two of the most invigorated primal screams I've ever heard.  The specatcle was kind of comical, but at the same time I'm deeply envious of what that young men felt that day.  I continue waiting for it.  And on the other side of it, I have a very special place in my heart for all the spectacular blowup failures that I've piled up over the years.  My 2:55 2nd half of the Marine Corps Marathon, my multiple 2hr + run splits in 70.3s, my loopy death march in sideways freezing rain on Pikes Peak.   I wouldn't trade those experiences for anything.  So when you think about it, aside from the waste of my time and money, and the insanity of repeating this process over and over, there's really no down side.