Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Javelina didn't go so well for me. My IT band on my right side flared up again, and I had some other issues lower on that leg, I think from over-compensating a bit. At mile 30 I sat down to change shoes, and when I stood up again, I had that all-too familiar lock-up in my knee from an over-stressed IT band. IT isn't something to "run through". And I wasn't in the mood to walk 70 miles and wreck myself for the rest of the year. I wasn't happy about it, but I guess quitting was the right call.

Nice job to Jeff Riley who represented Oregon strong, and took the overall victory. There was some stiff competition, but Jeff ran smart early, and put the hurt on the field late to take the win by a large margin.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Jowling at the Moon

Just three short days to go until the Javelina Jundred. Make that two long work days plus one short travel day.

My legs are feeling great. I haven’t had the least bit of soreness/tightness in my knee / IT band in any runs the last couple weeks. The rest of me though… so/so. I’ve got a few more days to finish off a bit of a bug I’ve been fighting. At least symptoms have remained “above the neck”, so I should be fine. I always seem to get sick, or at least think I'm sick, before a race. "Above the neck" might be "in my mind."

All runners will be wearing transponders for the race. Race fans (I assume there are untold millions out there) can follow progress in real time on line at the Live Raceday Webcast.

Wish me luck!


Monday, November 10, 2008

Party Favors

I may be wrong, but I’m pretty sure when I was a kid, you’d go to a birthday party, have a good time, stuff your face with cake and ice cream, and that was enough. But somewhere along the line, “gift bags” became the norm, and it’s no longer enough to entertain and feed, but you need to send the little ones on their way with a bag full of goodies too.

(I wonder people of my parents’ generation had the same reaction when I was a kid… “In my day we’d go to a birthday party, give the birthday boy our one and only toy, then the birthday boy’s older brother would beat the snot out of us for two hours, until it was time to walk 4 miles back home… and we liked it!”)

So anyway, Saturday was Avery’s 6th birthday, and to celebrate, we hosted her and a dozen or so kids at the “bounce park”. The “bounce park” is a large, run-down, soon-to-be-condemned, dimly lit roller rink, with a leaky roof, horrifying restrooms, and creaky floors. They’ve got a bunch of those big, noisy, inflatable slides, climbing things, tunnels, bounce-rooms filled with balls, etc. There were at least four simultaneous birthday parties occurring, which mean forty or fifty fructose powered kids going full speed, in their socks, climbing, sliding, bouncing, pushing, shoving, falling, crying, screaming, and smearing every bodily fluid a prepubescent kid can spread, on, under, and through inflatable nylon adventures. Of course, the kids had a great time, while the parents looked on with a mixture of horror and amusement.

I had a few key responsibilities. One of which was to go pick up the pizza. This was a wonderful opportunity to take a long drive, in a quiet car, listen the game (OSU 36, UCLA 6), and just be away from the madness for a few minutes. I dutifully obeyed all speed limits during this ½ hour stretch.

After I got back, the hordes of children inhaled cheese pizza and fruit juice, and immediately ventured back into the “fun zone”. I began to clean up in preparation for cake and ice-cream. We had forgotten to bring trash bags, but I did find a smaller bag that appeared to have some trash in it, so I filled this bag a few times, each time emptying it into the dumpster outside.

It turned out, though, that what had initially appeared to be “trash” in this bag was, in fact, the dozen or so “gift bags” that were to be sent home with the party guests. I’d thrown them all into the dumpster. Bad, bad Dad! In my defense: 1) the room was very poorly lit, 2) despite my opinion of gift bags, I wouldn’t, and didn’t, actively try to subvert the process. To quote Homer Simpson: “Just because I don’t care, doesn’t mean I don’t understand. And 3) there is a very, VERY fine line between $20 worth of cheap plastic crap from the dollar store, and actual trash.

In fact, on this last point, I figure if you follow the “life cycle” of the gift bags - from petroleum extraction, to a refinery in the middle east, to a plastics manufacturing facility, to a production line in China where the plastic is assembled into toys, to an Ocean liner travelling across the Pacific, to a shipping dock in Seattle, on to a semi-truck, to the dollar store in Albany, to our house, to the party, to the party guests, and soon thereafter to the party guests’ trash cans, and finally into the local landfill – I’d say cutting out the step where the “toys” actually pass through the kids’ possession only cuts about 0.03% out of the toys’ life cycle. That really doesn’t seem like a big deal to me.

But anyway, the kids were sent home without a gift bag, which caused confusion and horror so spread amongst the young guests. They did each get a glow stick, but it didn’t come in a bag, and some didn’t even glow, so they clearly weren’t up to the current party-favor standard. I hope Avery’s friends can forgive and move past this oversight prior to, say, Avery’s senior prom, or other key social milestones in a child’s life.

Monday, November 3, 2008

One Jundred, Coming Soon

OK, time to get my head into the fact that I’ve got a 100 mile race in less than 12 days.

Best case scenario is that my upcoming run will demonstrate that a year of running and training can’t be undone by a few weeks of unsteady and interrupted training and a couple nagging injury concerns; that residual fitness, cross training, and a precious few excellent recent training weeks and speed sessions, coupled with an excessively long and easy taper, is a recipe for a surprisingly strong 100 miler.

Worst case scenario is that my tendinitis hasn’t sufficiently healed, and I limp off the course early with a sore knee and a bruised ego.

I honestly wouldn’t be surprised at either result, but I’m just going to assume the first scenario and damn if it turns out otherwise.

Anyway, there’s not much I can do now to improve my fitness level or the health of certain tendons, except continue to rest, stretch, ice, and let sore parts heal – specifically my IT bands. First my left leg/knee was injured this summer. Eventually it came around, and I was downright confident in it, then, after my longest training run, my right IT band tightened up. It didn’t see that coming! My right IT band never got to the “I can’t run” point, and it was nowhere near as bad as my left, but it sure made me worry, and I’ve cut way back on the mileage since, doing only one “long” run, a 20 miler, during which I never quite felt or trusted that it was right. It’s feeling better now though, and I’m actually feeling pretty darn close to 100%. Though really, how can one tell? I’ve also got a matching IT band strap for my right leg, and an extra strap for below the knee that seems to ease stress down where the IT band connects to the lower leg. I’m not sure if these straps do any good or if I really need them, but they don’t hurt, so for the moment I’ll keep using them. But they do sort of give them impression that I’d crumple to the ground were I not held together with nylon and Velcro.

In lieu of high mileage for the last couple weeks, I’ve been doing lots of mountain biking, to keep up my aerobic fitness and just to get out in the forest and have fun. And in theory, it is low impact, so any residual running over-use injuries should heal nicely. In practice, though, it’s occasionally not-so-low impact. These occasions usually result from a disagreement between my bike and I about where rider and bike belong, relative to each other and the trail. Thus far, though, there’s minimal overlap between running-induced and mountain biking induced injuries.

Speaking of biking, check out the sweet shades Vic found along the trail. The dude must be living right!

Of course the other thing I’m always concerned about during a taper is coming down with a cold or flu, or perhaps Bowel Associated Dermatosis Arthritis Syndrome . This time around I’ve had the added bonus of having every lurking virus in the neighborhood visit my door, using small, candy-demanding persons as transport vehicles. If my immune system survives that, then there’s always Avery’s birthday this coming Saturday. Nothing says “germ warfare” more than a dozen or so six year olds with pizza and cake dripping from their hands and faces.

Wish me luck. I’ll need it.