“Nenikékamen”


And with that single utterance to the people of Athens, "We have won," Pheidippides collapsed and died from exhaustion.


Or so the story goes.


Ol' Pheidippides and I; we're kindred spirits now. Sure, he ran his from the plains of Marathon to the city of Athens after fighting all day in full armor while I ran mine through the streets of Fargo (and Moorhead, don't forget Moorhead) after sleeping in the back of my truck. But basically it's pretty much the same deal. And it's kind of a big deal.


I'm a "marathon runner" now. I love that I can say that. And I love that I'll always be able to say that, even if I never choose to do this again.


Race results
Brace yourself, this is going to be another long one. I'll try and break it down with some subheads so you can just pick what (if anything) interests you!


Lodging


Races like these are trouble. But without logistical support, they'd be even more trouble. And no one is more supportive than Corinne. She's awesome.


There were 23,000 people signed up to run in Fargo this weekend (bunch of different races) and it seemed like every one of them except me remembered to book a hotel room. Fortunately my wife was able to find a space at what was either a former KOA or a former beet farm (or both).  Crappy road


So Friday night I wedged my Expedition between a rusty fire ring and an anemic maple sapling and we were home for the night. 


Truck camping


Training


My training was, again, less than it should have been. (I've got to stop doing that.) I did the Earth Day Half Marathon last month. I did a 10-mile run a couple weeks ago and an 8-miler the week after that. This past Monday I ran to work, so there's 9. Beyond that, I woke up and did 10k a couple of mornings here and there. Last year at Earth Day I ran the 20-miler. That's the longest I'd ever run. So once I reached that point in the race I knew I'd be in uncharted territory. And I was.


Nutrition


On Friday night, after we got into town and picked up my packet, we figured we'd better get something to eat. We stopped at an unassuming little sports bar called Labby's. If you're ever in Fargo I suggest you do your best to avoid it. Since it took approximately an hour to get my cowboy burger, I was logistically forced to have a second beer.


In the morning I was better. I had a banana and a Clif bar to go along with my can of Diet Coke.


Running


I've heard it said that a marathon is really two races. There's a 20 mile race…and then there's that last 6.2. Believe that. It's absolutely true.


The race had pace runners (which is a totally fantastic concept). I found the 4-hour goal time guy (that's 9:10 minute miles, in case you're wondering) and just hung with him.


Six miles? Feeling really good and almost exactly on pace. The halfway point? Still feeling pretty good, all things considered. After that came the 14-, 15- and 16-mile marks. Joints starting to get a little worn down – primarily my hips. By the time I hit 17 miles, I was beginning to realize that I wasn't going to make it the whole way with my pace runner. But realizing that and giving in to it are two different things. So I hung on gamely. He'd start getting some separation from me…and I'd reel him back in.


We went on that way until the 20-mile mark. After that, as the yards between us started to grow, I knew there was no comeback left in me. At that point it became a game of goal revision.


My 4-hour goal was bounding up the street, out of my reach. I needed to come up with a new goal quickly because, if I didn't, my brain was going to start playing with the idea that maybe "finishing a marathon" is a noble goal.


The problem with that is that "finishing a marathon" was never in doubt. I was absolutely going to cross that finish line. No question. So, out on that course, that meant that accepting "finishing a marathon" as my goal was the same as "giving up." I had tried my damndest for my 4-hour goal – and, for 20 miles, I'd been right there. But that wasn't going to happen. So what was going to happen?


I started with "RUN an entire marathon."


That sounded good, but I knew that still left me with a lot of wiggle room. So I eventually modified it to, "run the whole thing, and finish without getting caught by the 4:15 group."


That worked. I did it. I know it wasn't pretty. I could tell by some of the poignantly sympathetic looks I started getting from spectators along those last couple of miles. A few hundred yards from the finish, they had a camera that played video on a big screen alongside the road and also on the jumbo screen inside the Fargodome (so spectators could watch and prepare for when their special someones were about to come in) and I saw myself onscreen there. So I know it was ugly at the end.


But I did it.


Injuries


I was pretty worried about chafing. For that reason, I diligently lubed up my crotch and my nipples. Mission accomplished there. No problem. I forgot, however, to lube up my armpits. I'd never really had any problem with armpit chafing. That was a mistake. I'm pretty raw.


Other than that, not too much to report. Most of my toes are a little blistered, but nothing painful or traumatic. My right pinky toe is fairly bruised up, but no biggie. My wrist was a little bloody from my watch rubbing on it. Whatever.


Afterwards


I've never felt closer to passing out after a race than I did in Fargo. It didn't help that the finishing chute went on forever and then, when you did get out of the chute, you had to fight your way through the crowd and up two flights of stairs to get out of the building. So Corinne took me by the hand and guided me as I wobbled along the trek toward a door and a soft patch of grass right outside that door. I collapsed in a heap there and waited while Corinne ran to get the truck and pick me up so we could leave. I didn't even wait around to get my official time. Marathon finish


It didn't seem to matter at the time. I'd done what I came to do. I had the shirt. I had the medal… And I had my wife to do the driving on the way home. I was a happy, tired guy.




Gina, stay home


Three dogs


My good friend Gina is funny, charming, creative, and one of the most talented advertising professionals I've met in 20 years in the business.


I don't give a shit.


She needs to not travel with my wife. When the two of them leave town together, the moles of craziness start popping up all over my world and I can't beat them all down.


You know, stuff like bloody deer hides showing up on the front step.


A couple weeks ago (it's taken me this long to get the wording on this post to be sufficiently diplomatic) the two of them were heading down to Dallas to sit in on some focus group research. One day. Two nights. No big deal.


Monday. 2:00 p.m. Car leaves Creative Memories parking lot.


Monday. 2:30 p.m. School nurse calls. [unnamed child] is in the process of receiving the first of many monthly gifts.


Monday. 2:35 p.m. I call my sister in hopes that she's available to swing by after school and offer some…coaching. (Because she may or may not have very recent experience in just such…coaching. I'm not sayin' anything. But even if she doesn't, she's got to be a damn sight more qualified than me. Right?)


Monday. 3:00 p.m. I ditch work in order to get home before [unnamed child] because I'm not at all sure how much trauma is involved in this process. Do I need to be there for hugs? Ibuprofin? Emergency laundry?


Monday. 3:30 p.m. Arrive home to find [unnamed child] and her friends already home, running around the house with vanilla scented air freshener and screaming. Evidently, one of the dogs is sick. Evidently, it's the big one. Mr. Whipple, Mr. Clean and I manage to remove, dispose of, and scrub up all trace of four enormous piles of runny dog crap.


Monday. 4:00 p.m. Evict [unnamed child]'s friends and check in to see how she's doing. I suggest a phone call to my wife (who hasn't even boarded a plane to leave Minneapolis yet). To my disappointment, I notice that my sister's not going to be coming by to help with…coaching. She did stop by and leave a grocery bag filled with…paraphernalia…hanging from the front door. Lovely gesture. Very grateful. But stuff I can buy. I know how to insert a credit card.


Monday. 4:15 p.m. [unnamed child] talks on the phone with my wife and with my mother-in-law. Child opts to stay with the pad (whew) and take a shower.


Monday. 4:20 p.m. [a different unnamed child] bursts through the door in tears. The track practice we're almost-but-not-quite-forcing him to go to was too hard today. "They made us run all the way around the fenceline. And my legs just got really tired!"


Monday. 4:45 p.m. Finish reassuring [a different unnamed child] that running all the way around the fenceline is supposed to make your legs feel really tired. And the fact that he had to walk part of the way doesn't mean that's too far for him. It means he needs to do it a few more times in order to build up his muscles and endurance.


Monday. 5:00 p.m. Discover medium dog yacking all over entryway rug.


Monday. 5:15 p.m. Discover medium dog dragging litter-encrusted chunks of cat crap out to deposit all over the laundry room.


Monday. 6:15 p.m. Go outside to clean the car after a long winter.


Monday. 7:00 p.m. Return to the house to discover – based on two steaming, runny clues – that the small dog is also afflicted with some sort of intestinal malady. It's at this point that it begins to dawn on me that this could be a long night.


Monday. 11:00 p.m. Optimistically send all three dogs out for, "one last time before bed."


Monday. 11:50 p.m. Small dog needs to go out.


Tuesday. 12:40 a.m. Small dog needs to go out.


Tuesday. 1:30 a.m. Small dog needs to go out.


Tuesday. 1:55 a.m. Text wife.


Photo


Tuesday. 2:20 a.m. Big dog and small dog need to go out. Big dog doesn't want to come in.


Tuesday. 2:55 a.m. Big dog wants to come in.


Tuesday. 3:10 a.m. Small dog needs to go out. What? Oh. I guess small dog must have needed to go out a few minutes ago.


Tuesday. 3:15 a.m. Scrub carpet.


Tuesday. 4:00 a.m. Big dog and small dog need to go out.


Tuesday. 4:50 a.m. Small dog needs to go out.


Tuesday. 5:40 a.m. Small dog needs to go out. What? Oh. I guess small dog must have needed to go out a few minutes ago.


Tuesday. 5:45 a.m. Scrub carpet.


Tuesday. 6:00 a.m. Alarm goes off.


Tuesday. 6:01 a.m. Alarm reset for 6:45.


Tuesday. 6:45 a.m. Alarm goes off. (What? Over an hour? The small dog must be getting tired.)


Tuesday. 7:00 a.m. Come to the realization that I'm working from home this Tuesday. At home, no one makes fun of me when I fall asleep on my notebook.


 


So, with shaky hands and bleary eyes, I type this humble request: Gina, stay home.




The night has a thousand eyes


People in Los Angeles really like to look at themselves, right? A lot. Does that sound terrible? That’s just a stereotype, isn’t it? Or is it?

The cameras I knew about. Between the tourists, the reality shows, TMZ, and the news choppers hovering over high-speed chases, I think every movement within a 100-mile circle of that Hollywood sign is caught on camera from some angle.

It’s the mirrors I didn’t expect. They’re everywhere. Which I suppose makes sense if you concede my point from the previous paragraph. If you figure you’re on camera all the time, you probably want to be checking your look frequently.

Now don’t get me wrong, a mirror’s a handy thing. You can use it to signal a search plane if you’re lost in the wilderness and in danger of being mauled by ravenous wolverines. You can use it to find that popcorn husk caught in your teeth that’s been driving you crazy for an hour. In college I took a J-Term class called Geometric Patterns and spent an entire January playing with mirrors to discover planes of symmetry and to attempt to see up skirts.

I’m not mirror bashing here. I’m a fan. But when they’re everywhere, they’re going to result in some unanticipated reflections.

[Hold that thought. I’ll get back to it. I need to veer off in another direction for a bit.]

Corinne, who’s your favorite Little Rascal? Is it Alfalfa? Or Spanky?

If you’re working under the assumption that someone (a camera) is always watching, and you’re a woman, you’re more likely to spend more time sucking in your gut. Spanx, Inc. is making a fortune based on this little truism.

Every woman is wearing these fantastically restrictive undergarments. Ridiculously thin women are wearing them. If you were to undress an Olsen Twin, I’ll betcha she’d be wearing Spanx. (Somebody back me up on this? Statistically speaking, approximately 3.6 of my readers should have undressed an Olsen Twin.)

Given that, I don’t feel like I should get in trouble for revealing that when my super-hot wife wore this beautiful-yet-reasonably-priced dress (thank you Herberger’s; obviously such a great deal it put an overly-enthusiastic-but-still-beautiful smile on her face) in Los Angeles, she started with a Spanky little foundation layer.


Screen shot 2010-11-01 at 9.50.10 PM

As the saying goes, “Everybody’s doin’ it.”

Evidently, however, one area of concern with Spanx is that they ride up.

Speaking as a guy, I’d say big deal. As a boxer guy, I’ve been shamelessly adjusting stuff ever since I switched out of tidy whities in 10th grade. But women are more concerned with decorum and appearances.

So as Corinne was working behind the swag table at that Hollywood book launch party (for Nancy O’Dell’s new book, Full of Love, available now through your Creative Memories Consultant or creativememories.com), when she felt the fabric start to shifting, she skillfully executed what I would categorize as a brilliant maneuver.

She gracefully bent down (at the knees) “to reach for something under the table.” And, in the process, she reached back and gave a good, swift, solid tug on her underwear. Mission accomplished. Relief achieved.

[This is me getting back to my original point. Remember the mirrors?]

When Corinne elegantly and innocently arose from behind the table she was locked eye-to-eye across the patio with Karen the Hollywood make-up stylist.


"You are totally busted!" she shouted, for many to hear. "You were just yankin' your Spanx, weren't you?!"


Corinne was, indeed, busted. And, when she turned around and noticed the 6- by 10-foot mirror positioned behind the table with her, she knew just how.

Oops.




My Life Aspiring to the D List


Photo[2]


NOTE: This headline is in no way intended to imply that any of the guests attending the event to which I'm about to refer could or should be assigned to any "D List." I don't judge. I'm just alluding to the rumor that Kathy Griffin was going to show up…and how that very concept scared the crap out of my poor boss.


So I just got back from a few days in Los Angeles. You'll hear all about it cuz I'm probably going to milk this trip for a bunch of posts since the bulk of my day-to-day existence is boring like watching the bonus features on the DVD from season one of Numbers. (Hey, Mister. Are you calling a non-threateningly cute genius who solves crimes through math boring? Yes. Yes I am.)


Big picture, Corinne and I were there for work. Creative Memories has been working with Nancy O'Dell (former co-host of Access Hollywood, current co-host of Your OWN Show…). She just finished writing a book about how important scrapbook albums can be in raising happy, self-confident kids. I edited it and Corinne was the art director on the project. I'm not going to make any jokes about that (and not just because it could cost me my job) because I really do think that's pretty darned cool. She totally lives this stuff. If you were to cut Nancy O'Dell – and, let me be clear, I am in no way suggesting that you do – she would bleed fade-resistant, bleed-resistant (okay, that doesn't make any sense dumbshit) ink in any of six lovely jewel-tone colors.


The main event of the trip was the book launch party at the insanely swanky SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills. Now, I've never been to a Hollywood book launch party, so in my mind I had the event bracketed somewhere between:


An Academy Awards Red Carpet Arrivals Show


and


The Hamster Party we threw in our sophomore dorm floor study lounge where everyone brought a newspaper to shred and throw on the floor


I knew it was going to be something in between those two, coolnesswise.


So here are a few highlights.


Booze: Open bar with wine and beer. I thought this was a good thing, but I was wrong. It became a GREAT thing when I asked the bartender what they had for beer. "Um…Let's see… Bud, Miller Lite, Coors Light…and this Long Hammer IPA from RedHook."


Free RedHooks? Score! (Although it is a little awkward to approach the bar and ask, "Excuse me, do you have a Long Hammer back there?") Bacchus was protecting me from getting out of hand (which is good, because I was working and representing my company) by making sure that most of my bottles were tipped over by co-workers. And I couldn't even get up in anyone's face because all their titles started with "Vice President of". The bottles that didn't get spilled were mostly snatched prematurely by overeager waiters. No biggie. Still tasty.


Brushes with fame: The nicest famous person I met that night was Jeff Probst from Survivor. Wow. Just a really nice guy. And, when I explained that my son was such a fan that I had to switch my regular visitation night with my kids from Wednesday to Thursday this fall (because Quinn and his mom love to watch Survivor together), he got all excited about writing a note and signing an autograph for them.


The famous person I was most excited about meeting that night was Alison Sweeney. Corinne and I are huge avid Biggest Loser fans. She was nice, but seemed just a little distracted and standoffish. Nothing wrong with that when you're talking to some creepy guy you don't know. The only reason I even mention it is because it made her reaction that much more dramatic when I mentioned Jesse. "What?! How do you know Jesse? I love that guy!"


Then I had to admit that my connection was pretty weak. "Um…this guy we work with used to be his college roommate."


[Ali's look says, "You've got to be fucking kidding me. That's it?" But the only sound is the awkward pause.]


"But the guy at work, he sits, like, right next to me… And Brady – that's the guy's name – Brady's a really good guy… Seems like Jesse's probably a really good guy too… I'll bet I'd really like him… If I ever actually met him… Did I mention I went to that same college?… Only that was a lot earlier than Jesse and Brady… And Brady's the guy I work with… Really nearby…"


At that point I went looking for another Long Hammer. Cuz my hammer was feeling particularly short.


More details from the trip to come!


 


 




  • Photo

  • Photo[3]

  • Photo[1]

  • Photo[4]


Photo[4]



 


 




Any preferences?


[WARNING: Sports post ahead. If you don't care about baseball, skip this one (and go screw yourself).]


Damn, for years I hated this stupid The Natural thing before every pitch. Strange. For some reason I love it now.

I know the Twins haven’t clinched their division yet, but – with an 11-game lead and 12 games to play – I don’t think even the baseball gods would begrudge us a quick look forward.

So the question to Twins fans becomes: Who do you want first? Rays or Skankees?

In order to win it all, I’m pretty sure we’re going to have to face them both.*

So whom would you prefer to face first?

We’ll have one series with home field advantage (against the wild card winner) and then one series without it (against the AL East winner).

 

Images-1

Which way do you want it?

I hesitate to even say it, but I think I want the Skankees first.

In the Ron Gardenhire era, the American League team from New York has pretty much done to the Twins what those two hillbillies did to Ned Beatty. And (pardon my mixing of animal metaphors), as much as that monkey still scares me, I want it off my back. So let’s get it on. Bring it in here and let’s do this.

Plus, in that first series, we only have to win three big games from the Skankees. In the second, we'd have to figure out a way to win four big games. And besides, if we’re only going to have home field advantage in one of these series, Yankee Stadium scares me lots more than that juice box in Tampa.

Your thoughts? Anyone?




Images

*This question presupposes a few things:

1. I’m of the opinion that the Twins won’t do what it takes to get best record and home field throughout. (And I don’t think they should jump through hoops to get that.) That status is going to land with the winner of the AL East.

2. I think the Texas Rangers have a very good team and I wish them well. But I don't think they're going to beat the winner of the AL East. So I've pretty much factored them out of this discussion. (Sorry about that. I really am. My Google Analytics [which is easily among the top 5 most fun-to-say phrases in the English language] tell me that I have at least 2 readers in Texas. And I hope I haven't alienated either of you. I just don't think your team's gonna get it done this year.)




Half-assed training


NOTE: This one's not going to have anything too witty, clever, funny or emotional in it. It's just me blathering on again about triathlon stuff. So if you're curious about what goes through a less-than-average Joe's head as he contemplates a half ironman triathlon, read on. If you're looking for illuminating wisdom, read the Bible…or the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Laketrail006_000

Well, less than a week to go until I try my tri. I'm a little nervous, but optimistic.

So, Saturday, I decided I'd better take a test run at that 56-mile bike distance. Corinne and I were meeting my parents to play golf in Osakis, so I just took off a little early and went on the bike. (The distance from door-to-door was freaky perfect. My odometer rolled to 56 right at the golf course. Exactly. Kinda scary, actually.)

How'd it go? Well, it had its ups and downs.

• Conditions
If I get weather this coming Saturday like I had this past Saturday, I think I'll make it. Saturday was hot. Really hot. Snakes-frying-on-the-asphalt hot. But I had a good, solid 15-mph wind from the south. That means I was almost never fighting the wind as I moved northwest up the trail. It was either a crosswind or at my back. However, I'm announcing right here, right now, that if next Saturday comes and we have that same wind out of the north or west, I'm not doing this. I'm just not.

• Time
My original guesstimated goal prediction for the bike portion of my race was to average 17.5mph for the 56 miles. I zipped past that for this ride. Part of it was the fact that I hadn't just swam a mile. Part was the wind pushing me. Part was knowing that I didn't have to climb off and run 13 miles at the end. Whatever factored into it, I did this set of 56 miles in 2:52, for a 19.5mph average. This weekend I'll have to find the balance between pushing myself and pacing myself. I think I can beat 17.5 in that context…but I should NOT shoot for 19.5.

• Conditioning
I'm not in great shape right now. I haven't been working out as regularly/rigorously as I'd like and I'm probably carrying at least 5-10 extra pounds. (I've been carefully avoiding scales.) So a large portion of this is going to be a simple test of sheer, stubborn will and determination. We'll see how it goes. On Saturday's ride, my quads were pretty gassed by about 45-50 miles. I was having trouble consistently generating any real power toward the end.

• Gear
I'm a bit torn on what to wear here. My assumption all along was that I would wear my tri shorts and jersey. The shorts are quick-drying, so they'll work on the swim. And they have just a manageable-sized chamois – rather than a gigantic, gel-filled, cushioning crotch pad – so they're okay to run in… But for the ride I just did, I wore a comfy pair of cycling shorts, and my ass was STILL killing me by about 45 miles. It made me really think about finding a way to do at least the bike portion of this weekend's race in my nicest, squishiest pair of cycling shorts. (sigh) Tempting. Still, I think I'll just suck it up and take that pain for an hour or so. I have a feeling it's going to be just one of many breeds of pain I'm going to be in on Saturday. (My back was killing me toward the end of this past ride, too.)

• Transition

I think on Saturday I'm going to have to treat transitions differently than I'm used to in sprint triathlons. I'm used to rushing through, switching some gear and moving on as quickly as possible. And I think I'll still be able to do that in swim-to-bike on Saturday. But that bike-to-run transition is going to be different. When I got off the bike the other day in Osakis, the idea of running 13 miles really didn't sound very attractive. I think this weekend I'm going to have to spend at least a few minutes stretching and maybe getting a quick rubdown on my legs before I start trying to run. It's going to be interesting.

• Other events
I haven't been in a happy place with my swimming all year. So I was pretty worried about that one. But last week I did a full-on test run and it went really well. I need to do 44 laps to get my 1.2 miles in. Nine laps is a quarter mile. So what I'm going to do is 8 laps of front crawl, then a 1-lap recovery of breast stroke or backstroke. I do 4 of those, then I get to finish up with another set of 8 front-crawl laps. My original guesstimated goal prediction was 45 minutes. I did it in 39:20 at a nice, easy pace that didn't leave me gassed.

And as far as running goes, I haven't done any real long training runs, but the 10Ks that I've been doing have felt really good. My original guesstimated goal time for Saturday was 9-minute miles (just about 2 hours for the 13.1 miles). I've been turning in 8:30s pretty easily on my training 10Ks. And everything's been feeling good. No hip pain. No knee pain. Just some toe blisters. The fact that this event comes at the end of my race is going to make it the wild card. But I'm guardedly optimistic about my 2-hour goal.

• All together now
Forty-five minutes in the pool, plus 3:15 on the bike, plus 2 hours running…toss in maybe 25 minutes of transitions. I SHOULD be able to do this in about 6 hours and 30 minutes. I'll be happy with that or anything under it. I'll be satisfied with anything under 7 hours.

Wish me luck.