Bum Bump Bum Bum (hum it)

Who doesn’t love a wedding?!?  I’ve been the groom…the best man…the usher…the groomsmen…the flower girl (just checking)…and just an innocent bystander.  Seen a beach wedding, church wedding, grass wedding, mountain wedding, chapel wedding, judge wedding, Disney wedding.  Been to a Catholic wedding, Presbyterian wedding, Episcopal wedding, non-denominational wedding, and Jewish wedding.  I’ve never seen a run-away bride though…except on Wayne’s World (yet another underrated movie!)…but the year’s not over quite yet.  So where does our little running community come into play with the land of white dresses, white cakes, and white jackets (been to one of those too…looked like something straight out of a 1980’s music video)?

Everything from folks who’ve met in running groups, to two people that tripped over each other on a morning pass (cute story…ended well…trust me), running communities bring us all together.  Heck, my wife and I started dating and stayed together due to some part that we were both extremely active people that kept it up…plus I make a mean…actually she’s the better cook…well…I do great…actually…she’s the cleaner one…why is she still with me?

From those opportune moments of running spontaneity to just finding out that you all have something in common, it all can lead to that spectacular day of bliss.  Let running be a part of it!  Now what’s already been done…dress with shoes…yep…race with veil and tux shirt (which I just can’t understand how they became popular at all)…done!  How about the ol vows at the start line?  Seen it!  They usually wear the “just married” signs on their backs during the race (usually accompanied by cheers and “woohoos” by onlookers).  If you’re going to let running be a piece of your special event this time….GET CREATIVE!

Let’s take some of the recent changes and enhancements to the sport and brainstorm.  How about barefoot running weddings?!  Well…this might be short lived due to the fact that most new barefooters only run a short distance to start out, and actually give it up soon afterwards.  Let’s try running in high heels and shiny tux shoes!  Ohhhhhhh…..just thought about the blister mania that would occur.  Not good!  Alright…what if we…no that wouldn’t work…think about the flower disaster.  You know…let’s just leave it as it is.  Why expand when you have something that works!

Why this post now?  Well I do want to take a moment here and congratulate my sister and her future husband on their endeavors as they enter this most joyous occasion…and all that jazz.  As couples would go…whether your runners or bikers…or even couch lizards…be happy!  But if you do go out for a nice run together…take your bride/groom…and do what we’ve practiced over these last few times.  Let them know you care about them…care about their well-being…care if they trip while out there.  Tell them to take a moment…look down…and both of you for crying out loud…lace up!

 

Running’s second cousin…or weird uncle…

Were you in a band in high school?  There were four of us in ours…and the ever so educational and creative name we came up with was “Random G.”  We had some great songs…actually there were only 3.  We lasted about 4 months…1 gig…and we all went our separate ways (kind of reminds you of Loveburger from Can’t Hardly Wait(very underrated movie)).  The only little lasting thing that came from the ever so short time span of Random G was a great song that was inspired by a group of people that make me so happy every time I see them, and I’m not being goofy here….Power walkers!

Power walkers are considered the second cousin to the running community (or actually Uncle or Aunt because…”You have to walk…before you run”).  I mean, if you have a sanctioned Olympic event (which if you didn’t know…they do!)…you are a true athlete!  Now, yes…does walking really fast and swinging your arms back and forth “look” kind of funny?  Well yeah…but so does leaping and flailing your arms while on a run!  I mean come on…if you think about it…runners look like tight deranged forward jumpers.  Now…sure…do we all love being a part of that group…yeah!

Now there are two indistinguishable characteristics that differentiate power walkers (PWs) from runners.  First off, PWs have this absolutely identifiable shimmy that occurs during their move from point A to point B.  It looks like a casting call for an Ace Ventura stunt double (ya’ll remember that seen where he comes walking in right?)  If there was a beat going on, you can almost see them breaking down to it.  The second one is that “leg throw.”  In real time, it looks like the knee is going to come right out of the leg!  There is an audible cringe with every thrusting advance from the audience.

The biggest question that always seems to come up every four years or so, when we are all brought back to this PW world during the Olympics (which by the way…is usually on tape delay or on late, late, late at night), is why don’t they just let go and start running?!?  I mean, what type of mental capacity does it take to “hold” yourself in that walking position for sooooo long?!?  A whole heck of a lot…that’s how much!  Talk about self-control.  I can barely walk on a path for half a mile without starting to move a little quicker than everyone else.

So as you get out there, whether it’s on a path or roadway…and you pass these second cousins/uncles of ours, throw up a little wave.  Ask for the high five…throw some bows with em…ok…I went too far.  Truth be told…many of them are better athletes than many runners are.  And if you are curious what happened to Random G and our hit…the song never went gold…thought we were going to get a Grammy for it, but never happened.  I think where we went wrong was that we never really appreciated how controlling and thought centered power walkers are.  Look, you know they never have any issue before they go out.  They take some extra time…getting their inside groove on…mentally preparing to pound that pavement…snap a glance to look down…and lace up!

The real question…to shave or not to shave….hmmmm

As it would go, I was not blessed with flowing locks of follicular goodness by my ancestors.  In simple words, I have no hair up top.  I look like a bald eagle in mid-flight each time I go out.  The best way for me to handle it is the taking of a hair clipper blade #1 and letting go all my inhibitions onto the floor.  Now the question comes up, to shave or not to shave?

Let’s break down the actual act of this strange idea first.  Our ancestors…monkeys (look… just for arguments sake…let’s say they were monkeys)…are completely hairy!  In fact, they thrive on being so much so…so to them…keep it on.  Somewhere along the generational gapping of our species, we all decided that shaving every last piece of our hair on our bodies would make us more “aerodynamical.”  Whether you’re a cycler or a runner or a swimmer, the tiny little hairs all over your body…to some…act like tiny little parachutes, catching the wind and slowing you down…ok?

Look, the hair on my legs, and around the side of my head is the only place left (I’m trying to be G rated here) that I can still see that at one time I had nice brown coloring (well, ok, in college there was a time in which the top of my head was completely bleached blonde…which now that I think about it probably directed me down the path of complete shininess up top).  Why would I take that away?  There is serious doubt among researchers if the “drag” from those tiny little strands really does anything to your PR in a race.

Now sports and racing is a huge portion mental, and there is to some degree the thought process involved here in that you “feel” faster if you’re clean and sleek.  I get that!  All that can really be said from this side of it is that if you don’t have it, you save what you’ve got!  Every…last…strand!!!

On the other hand…if you chop it off…there is never one single thought about what your head looks like after a run with a hat on!  In fact, it could be a headband, visor (especially if you’re trying to tan up top) or hat!  As long as something keeps the sweat out of your eyes…it’s a good accessory!

How about the ol sunglasses bend?  Where to the glasses go when you’re not using them?  Right up top!  So what happens if you have flowing locks up there?  You get this bend from the nose piece!  Now truth be told, you still get this actual dimple in your skull from those pieces with nada in the cerebral section…and in reality…it kind of looks freaky if someone doesn’t know what it’s from.  They may think your head is misshapen…or you may have come from a “galaxy far away.”  You know…let’s just call this one a draw.

Whose right is it to really say whether you should shave or not.  It’s a personal “mental” choice as to if you want to “feel” more sleek for the next race.  So get out there…grab your Mach3 (or do they make specific ones for really hairy people?)…and get that drag off your body!  Become the knife that cuts through the oncoming wind…be that streaking jet through the sky…but please…after you get all “clean”…look down…just so you know…you don’t trip…and lace up!

Chafing…need I say more?

Ahhh, that time of year, when you step outside, and your black soles melt to the pavement.  That time…when you just feel the sweat build in your armpits and neck area just by putting your shoes on in the morning/afternoon/night/dead of night (just to stay cool).  And yes…that time of year when the excess moisture and heat provide such a wonderful side effect of excessive running and body shape…CHAFING!

Growing up, I had no idea that chafing was…well…called chafing!  I just thought it was an unbelievably uncomfortable thing that occurred when you worked out too much (probably the reason I never really got into sports heavily until I was older).  And I sure as heck didn’t know that there were actual solutions to this wonderful thing that causes hair to never grow in certain areas on my body ever again (silky smooth after so many years of running…I know…I know…TMI…but I am just trying to make a point here).

So what is chafing?  If you haven’t experienced it yet…be blessed.  If you have…well you know that it’s just the most wonderful thing in the world…(taking from my former 90’s version of myself)…not!  Try taking two pieces of wet paper towels, and rubbing them together vigorously…what happens?  They fall apart and actually tear apart….right?  Now try that, and imagine the paper towels are your underarms, thighs, neck areas, or wherever else this might happen.  The only problem is that the tension from the paper towels breaks (or dies) after so long….your skin won’t do that…it just gets more and more irritated with each subsequent “rub!”

Now, you can absolutely do something about this.  It’s actually quite simple, and if you do it as a part of your routine, it actually works out.  It just took me over 10 years to figure this out.  So for the first 10 years of my running career, I dealt with this just horrible feeling on longer runs (usually anything over 6.5 miles…which if you’re training and over training for multiple half marathons over those years…these runs are quite often).

So what is the solution…kids hold your eyes and ears…lube up!  No….not with that.  Basically you need to make certain areas of your body greasier than a piece of corn on the cob on the 4th of July!  The old adage…and the one that seems to still be used quite frequently today…is plain ol Vaseline.  This guy works great in gunking your working parts.  Since then…there have been hundreds of variations on this basically taking the roll/deodorant stick concept and tweaking the ingredients to make something that works for them.  The one that I use is either body glide or the ironman version.  Both seem to work great…but one of them had a real weird odor to it that made my shorts smell like gooey moldy something (sorry I forget which one…been a while since I’ve actually had to use it).

“Here comes the sun….do do do do…” and the heat…and the humidity…and the build-up of excess sweat and gunk…and well…the rubbing and chafing.  If you control it, you won’t even notice it.  But trust me, it really is awful.  So the next time you have everything all packed and ready to go for your nice long run…do me a favor and roll on some ol greasy oil…you’ll thank me later…and just for safeties sake…look down…and lace up!

July Soundtrack…Songs to break the heat!

Oh it’s really hot out now…so we need to make sure that the songs I give you this time are at least going to do something for you out there.  Here is what’s pushing me along this month on my shuffle…

First off, and this one is straight down from the southland where I am, is by a band from the great ol Palmetto state…(man did that sentence sound like a radio DJ intro).  Anyway…the band is” Need to Breathe,” and the song is “Girl Named Tennessee.”  Look, if you don’t like southern rock…stay away!  It’s straight forward driving beats about well….a girl named Tennessee.  This quartet drives the beat home with this brief 2.57 minute song, but well worth it!

Up next in our driving down the needle section…straight from…well…not sure how to put this one.  The song was written by a band from the Bay Area of California, and was somewhat popular, but the real version that bungles my goose bumps is the NYC version!  If you haven’t heard the Broadway cast version of “21 Guns” originally written by obviously “Green Day,” then trust me….you are missing out on a great running song!  This thing goes from a smooth quite rock ballad to an all-out choral blast your face off into your shorts composition!  It will absolutely get you through your distance if needed, which after all, is what we are trying to do anyway.

Back down South…by yet another song written by someone else, and performed by another group.  The song which defines the great Peach state in which corners the country down here, was originally written by an ol country star (Charlie Daniels), and re-performed in a live version by another Georgia boy, Zac Brown and his band of cohorts, the Zac Brown Band.  Now this North GA performer has taken the already fast paced, religious under toned, beat your pants in, “Devil Went Down to Georgia,” and basically put a stock car engine inside.  The cut-time story of how Johnny kicked the bejesus out of the Devil in a fiddle duel just gets your blood flowing.  No matter if it’s the first song you hear on your shuffle, or the last one to get you home, this thing will put a firecracker up your….well…you know.

Sticking on the car theme here with our last one this month.  This exactly 3.00 minute long, mono-toned sung, racing themed song allows for a perfect tempo for those middle of the road sections where you need something to pick you up.  These guys…so aptly named for a piece of desert, give us a song that well…is so aptly named for where we want to go!  “Cake” gives us “The Distance” in a nice evenly structured patter; almost like…well…running steps!  I mean…who wouldn’t want something on there with lyrics like…”He’s going the distance…He’s going for Speed…!”

Look…it’s hot…it’s gross…here it’s humid, there it’s dry….I mean it’s freaking July!  The last few times I’ve been out…these have gotten me through that gross buildup of excess sweat, bugs, and dive bombing flies (but that’s another story for another post).  I hope this help out, but please, before you grab your ear buds, and start busting a groove to Johnny’s fiddle playing, look down, and please…for heaven’s sake…lace up!

July 17th, 2011 – What a day in sports!

Can you say goose bumps!!!  Running today took a major backseat to some unbelievable international events…and the parallels to our little community are just about as straight forward as well…a ruler?…yeah!

So some guy from Northern Ireland, who looks like he personally needs a running coach there, took part in some little tournament where you swing a long metal object numerous times trying to hit a little tiny white ball into hall with as little hits as possible.  That about sum it up?  Darren Clarke, who how could you not pull for this guy…wife died 5 years ago due to a long battle with breast cancer…just one of the guys attitudes…self-proclaimed casual pint lover…took the tournament by the horns in squall like weather!  If you have ever been on the Northeast coast during those summer months and experience a summer squall, it’s quite entertaining…and to try and play golf in it…well…good luck with that!

Now Darren literally had to pace his timing, and just hold down the fort once he was ahead.  The other golfers around him would catch up…then fall off…then come up again…and fall off.  Just as a runner throughout a race gets to a certain lead…and the others pace up behind…the leader just needs to make smart persistent decisions to continue and thrive.  Be persistent, and good things will come…and in this case…maybe a pint of Guinness!

The second event, took a squad of a little bit better athletes than ol Darren back there…and asked them to kick around an inflated ball for 120 minutes into the back of a big ol net.  The ladies World Cup championship was one of the greatest sporting events in recent memory.  It even sparked me to get up off my keister when it was all done, and go for a run!  How much more inspiring is that!  Japan vs. the USA (the Japanese eventually won it with penalty kicks), provided jumping and hitting and moving and shaking and pain and sorrow and joy and triumph and sadness…and that was just in my living room!

This isn’t going to be a recap of the game or where the technical issues might have played…but a parallel to the sport of moving your legs fast.  In fact, this whole sport is about moving your legs fast, and with respect to team USA…Japan just moved their legs a little bit faster.  As a racer moved into a lead, and is constantly caught by a following runner…eventually, the follower uses that last burst to pull past the consistent leader.  Unlike with ol Darren above, the persistent follower took the reins at the last minute, and pulled ahead to win it all.

Kudos to every athlete that participated on July 17, 2011.  It was a great day in sports…a great day to be an athlete…and a great day to be a fan.  There aren’t many days where we can enjoy consistent joy…triumph…sadness…and fun…again…just in our living rooms.  The real end to the day is when you sit down and realize what just transpired…what just took place from morning till night.  For me, when it was all said and done…and the TV was eventually off…I wanted to prove it to myself…that I could achieve something that day and be a part of this unique celebration of sport.  But I sure as heck had to make sure…that before I went out for my little post watching run…I looked down…so I didn’t trip over my stupid golf shoes, or soccer cleats…and laced up!

 

Rocky Mountain Runner’s High!!!

If you walk straight forward 12 inches, 5,280 times, you will end up 1 mile away from the original place from where you started.  If you live on the beach, and somehow, someway, turn yourself horizontal, and do the same thing…you will end up the same distance away as the steps to the capitol of Colorado.  I….LOVE….DENVER!

This dog loving, trail riding, sun shining, mountain viewing town (and yes…I did use that word right in my mind here) is just awesome!  Having lived here for a number of years, even then you just don’t realize how much this place has to offer the running community…so let’s explore…shall we?

So what does a runner really need to do something?  Yeah, ok shoes…well…actually nowadays with the whole barefoot thing that’s not true…how about a road/trail/track?  Yes…ok…we do need that.  Well in Denver, there are an abundance of these.  There are sidewalks all over the place, trails from the east to the west to the north to the south, and with the mountains less than an hour away (sometimes 10 minutes to the foothills); you can go as high as you want on some of them.

Now another fact of this great town (I am getting to why I call it that) is it’s one of the FLATTEST in the entire country!  I had my PR in the Denver Half when I ran it.  Denver itself sits in the flat area of the mountain section right before the plains and the continental divide smash right into each other at the Eisenhower Tunnel.  The ironic part about this, is that with all the mountain views that we get with our Denver Bronco/Colorado Rockies/Whatever Other Event being held there, they don’t really mention that it’s about as flat as a pancake (minus the blueberries).  So what’s the phrase….”flat and fast?”  Use that (as long as you can get past the lack of air, then you’re all good)!

Let’s get to that town thing.  Denver, yes…there are millions of people that live in the central and surrounding areas, so from a population standpoint, let’s not get the census people all riled up.  And yes….there are hundreds and probably thousands of restaurants, banks, clothing stores, malls…you name it, it’s got it!  And sure…Bolder, one of the surrounding towns (which is home to the largest state University) does hold each and every year the 2nd largest 10K race in the world (Bolder Boulder)!  From here though…after you digest all of that…it’s just a small little town!  You have to really dive into the running community to understand what I’m talking about here.  There is an underlying current of respect among all of these folks.  Go into a local running store…be prepared to talk for ½ an hour about where you go, what you do there…what’s your Bolder Boulder time…etc.  There is just a small town feel in these little microbreweries (that are packed after a local run), to the waves along the Platte River and Cherry Creek Trails.

Look…you might have something like this in a town smaller than Denver, but we all can’t find jobs in your little community.  Take that travel vertical 5,280 times, to the place of ever scheduled races.  Wait though to do that long distance run until maybe the second day your there….just so you don’t pass out.  But please…after you think you’re acclimated to the lack of oxygen, don’t be an idiot…look down and lace up!

Weight Loss or Love?

Oh we all know that there is an obesity epidemic out there, and that McDonald’s intake has overtaken Apple intake in this country.  So the real question here is not that there is a problem, but to take a second and think about an idea with folks who are trying to fix it.  At some point in all of our running careers, we probably got the idea that this thing that makes us sweat and breathe hard, and cause slight cardiac distress, is really really good for us from a health standpoint.  In fact, some of us lugnuts probably realize that if we control our calorie intake, running can actually help us lose weight!

Look, I was at one point 35 pounds overweight from where I wanted to be (namely right after we moved back down south, and I remembered how great sweet tea, pecan pie, biscuits and gravy, and every other thing that Paula Dean is an expert at).  So at some point, I took running to the extreme of helping me lose weight.

My direction here, is that at some time along the way, that “weight loss” idea turned into…”man….I really really enjoy doing this!”  Well, what was the tipping point (which FYI, is a great book by Malcom Gladwell)?  What was the point, in which I sat there and said…forget this losing weight thing…I’m running, well, just to run!

It was probably around the time that I realized that I was actually not half bad at this thing.  I was always given the idea that a 10 minute mile was a consistent even tracked average time to do a mile in.  That was a good “lose weight” cardiac rate.  So, for a while, I was happy with that 30.00 3 mile time!  Hey….some days…I am still happy with that 3 mile time (usually right after we have some friends out to the local Mexican restaurant).

During my first few timed races, I started to notice a trend…I was actually getting better times than those 10 minute averages I was practicing with.  When my running parents would ask me what my time was, I would casually tell them, and to my surprise (being new to all of this), they would come back with a “I never got that time,” or “Holy Cow, did you place in your age?  That’s a great time!”  I actually did place one time in my age group, but I think it was because there weren’t too many of us there that day.  Oh well…I got a medal!

No matter if it was like me the time you realize you might be ok at this thing called running, or if you just started with a friend, and something twitched in your brain….you realized that you love it!  If you haven’t realized it yet….keep trying.  It might not be for you, but it still might be.  You just have to find your groove.  But please…please…before you just throw things up in there air and say you hate it because the last time you went out you tripped over your shoes…the next time you go out….look down….and lace up!

 

Hate Baseball? Love Baseball Runs? Me too!!!

Well it’s that time of year again!  Summer!!!  Nope….. July!!! Nope…. You got it!  Baseball season!  To be honest, I have really lost interest over the years in this sport.  It’s just been one of those that as a kid growing up I was really really into…huge Met’s fan….which turned into a Rockies fan….which has now turned into really a casual nothing fan.  So why am I writing this now?  Hello!!!…..it’s Baseball Stadium Fun Run Season!

This is one of those gimmick 5K or 10K events that gets put together usually by the clubs to sponsor their charity organizations that they are affiliated with throughout the community.  It is actually a great event that usually pulls in quite a few folks who wouldn’t normally do such an event any other time….so all in all…a great way to raise money for a charity!

Now, why do I love it???  You get to run on the field!!!  I have absolutely over the last few years lost interest (which by the way MLB would hate to hear considering my age demographic) in the sport itself, but have never…never lost the want to get out there on that green green grass field!  Now in actuality, these runs are usually a run around the warning tracks of the stadiums, so you really don’t get to be out there on the field, but it’s closer than I have ever been!

Over the years, there have been quite a few that I have either been a part of, or wanted to be a part of, but there is one that is my favorite.  Does it have to do with the fact I lived there?  Maybe…  Does it have to do with the fact that I liked the team in the past, and at this point, would probably claim them as the team I follow the most now?  Most likely….  But in reality…it’s the view!

The Colorado Rockies Home Run for the Homeless 5K held each year is a blast and a half!  The stadium itself is centered right there in the LoDo section of the city, which is AWESOME!  It’s a restraurant/bar laden hang out area that livens up with a game!  Plus…and here’s the best part….you get to see the Rocky Mountains right there!!!  Just sweet!  Plus they have this mascot called “Dinger” that reminds me of Barnie on steroids…..kinda creepy!

Yes…it’s just a 5K fun run…Yes….it’s a reason to get outside…Yes….it’s a reason for some folks to hunker down and grab a brew at the end, but for me, a kid who loved the sport many years ago, but now has filtered away from it because of life getting in the way, maybe it’s just a way for me to catch a glimpse of what used to be.  So the next time you think about running a 5K, and you’re in a town that has an MLB, AAA or some other team that has a field….look up and see if they have a race.  It might be just what you need to turn back into that 8 year old representation of yourself.  However, because you are not that 8 year old version of you, please do me and everyone else a favor so you don’t trip over them….look down, and lace up!

 

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