Saturday, June 26, 2010

5k's and Lots of Scathes

I have two things to report. I ran a 5k. And I have bruises all over my body.

I ran a 20:30 in the 5k (6:36 mile pace). It was a small race with 142 people, and I managed to get 5th place with this time. The whole fifth place thing makes me feel good. But the fact that I was able to run a 5k just as fast six months ago makes me feel bad. In the end, I think it averages out a little on the feeling bad side. I've been running, but apparently not enough to get faster. Boo.

And then the bruises... Those make me feel good. I don't watch football, I don't drive a truck, and I don't have cravings for steak and potatoes. Something has to connect me to my fellow man species, right? So why not bruises all over my body to show how tough I am? If you got 'em, flaunt 'em. That's what I say. So last weekend I took my shirt off and hung out at the hotel pool to show everyone what's up. I know what you're thinking. But I earned them fair and square so shut up.

Anyway, I quickly realized that perhaps people thought I was diseased. The circular wounds did look a bit like ring worm. Holy crap?! People think I have ring worm? I put my shirt back on.

The bruises were caused by a fun filled day of playing paintball. Hence, the circular shape. Me and fourteen other guys had bruises everywhere. One guy went running shirtless on a treadmill afterward. The lady next to him at the gym did a double take at his ring worm looking torso and moved machines. Perhaps paintball wounds are contagious. You can never be too cautious.

This week I'm kicking my running up a notch to 20+ miles per week. I've realized it's due time for me to get more aggressive about reaching my goals. I don't think 20 miles/week is a ton, but at least progress.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Lake Tahoe Relay 2010

The Lake Tahoe Relay is a 7 person, 72 mile relay around Lake Tahoe. This year 150 teams signed up, many of them running clubs from around Northern California. Each team drives around the lake during the event, cheering on their runner and making sure that the next runner is waiting for the hand-off at each transition area. My team was organized by employees of the National Children's Study, and I was kindly offered a spot on their team.

One of the memorable teams was "Man Beef," noted for their blue sleeveless shirts that had their team name written on the back. Another was "Hells Bells," which handed off a tutu and a long pink boa to the next runner. I couldn't help loving Hells Bells. They all had cute outfits with little devil horns and long striped socks. Man Beef though was a different story.

From the look of Man Beef, I honestly couldn't tell if they were referring to their special appendage, or if it was a reference to their extra preparation for the long, cold winter. Regardless, I smelt weakness. And I was determined to take them down. And by "take them down" I mean that they would get last place, and we would get second to last place...

After 12 hours of cheering on each runner in our team, hunger and exhaustion must have diverted us from the any sort of competitive nature. For the last hour I was pretty much dreaming of pizza. And dreaming of all the good pizzas I've ever eaten. I guess that dried apricots and peanut clusters don't tide you over for another 6 hours after you run twelve miles. Lesson learned. Anyhow, as we were celebrating our last runner coming in (and celebrating the realization that we would soon be saved from our peanut clusters), in comes Man Beef. Ohhhh snap!! Man Beef just got schooled by the National Children's Study!

I must say that our team did well, regardless of the place we got. We averaged under an 11-minute mile over the entire course, with almost each leg of the course containing climbs of 300-800 feet. For myself, I ran the 4th leg and tracked my run on my GPS device that also auto-tweets my pace and time every mile. I felt fortunate to run a leg where I recognized many of the sites. My girlfriend's aunt/uncle used to own a cabin in this area. So it was a run down memory lane. I passed the yogurt shop, the hidden entrance to the beach, an awesome restaurant called Garwoods where I spent my first $50+ dinner with my girlfriend (soon after college), and finally past the street that takes you to the cabin. Here are my mile splits:
  • Mile 1 - 7:02
  • Mile 2 - 7:23
  • Mile 3 - 7:14
  • Mile 4 - 7:14
  • Mile 5 - 8:39
  • Mile 6 - 7:22
  • Mile 7 - 7:13
  • Mile 8 - 7:54
  • Mile 9 - 7:42
  • Mile 10 - 8:07
  • Mile 11 - 8:17
  • Mile 12 - 7:54
For those that followed my run on twitter, you may notice that these times may be +/- a few seconds off the posted tweets. This is because the tweets showed my current pace (averaged over the previous 400 yards) at the time the tweet was sent, while the posted times here are my pace as averaged over the previous mile. Each would show the same result of an average pace of 7:40 over the course of the run.

Ok, now for the fun stuff.

Our friend Renee had one of the two toughest legs. She had a continuous 800 foot climb for the last 3 miles of her run. As she was ascending, some guy pulled up next to her, started chatting with her about how he recently had surgery on a collapsed lung, and then proceeded to pull up his shirt and show her a scar going from his abdomen to his back. Right after explaining this to her, he put it into high gear and ditched her up the hill. She pretty much wanted to wring his neck. "Yeah, I'm dying up this hill and some guy with a collapsed lung passes me at like 50 miles per hour," she would later explain. I'm just many people did this guy show his scar to?

I think next year I'm going to put on some of those plastic chicken feet that you can buy for Halloween. And when I pass people I'll say, "Damn, I just had my feet removed to get these new chicken feet." And then I'll ditch their ass. Weird? Yes. As weird as the collapsed lung guy? Hell yeah.

Other highlights...well, Amy got passed by a 70-year old, who I must say was on a team with a bunch of very old, and very awesome runners. But it never feels good to get passed by grandpa. Man Beef, however, got passed by yours truly (that's me). And for the finale, we saw a bear while picking up pizza.

While this bear is half the size of the dumpster, he is only an adolescent. The dumpsters in Tahoe are all bear proof, so the fact that this bear is actually trying to get inside shows that he's a rookie. He was so cute I just wanted to go over and scratch behind his ears. Something tells me he's not as friendly as my old Teddy Ruxpin though.

I'll end with a couple beautiful pictures from our weekend.

View from the back yard of the cabin we rented.

Emerald Bay. View from leg 7.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Death Metal and the Coordinated Head Bang

I first realized that a friend of mine was into death metal when I heard him grumbling what sounded like chants to Satan. In case you're into more wholesome music, I should probably explain that death metal singers grumble and scream. You can't understand a single word that they're saying, which is probably a good thing since they're usually singing about going Freddy Krueger on your ass.

Last week my friend got word that a death metal concert was coming to New York. He invited me and another person, with this poster image displayed in his email invite.

Yes, that is a cloaked figure sacrificing somebody on an alter. And yes, there apparently is a band called "Hate." I hesitatingly accepted the invite, and the other person declined. The other guy is a christian and I think was concerned with his salvation. He asked if he could still go to heaven if he attended. Probably not.

The first band I saw was called Blackguard. Scary as shit. They were all painted up like demons and the two guitarists on each side of the stage had long hair that they would eerily sway around in unison as they head banged. They seriously practice their head bangs. They would do some circular head banging for awhile and then both change to a vertical head bang at the exact same moment. Impressive.

The next two bands were a good time, and appeared to be well known to the crowed. So everyone was really into it. When death metal-ers get "into it" they do a couple things. Let's make a list.
  1. Head Bang: people actually exhibit unique styles when head banging. I could write an entire blog entry about head banging styles. Let's just say it's really annoying when the dude's hair in front of you keeps hitting your face. It's especially annoying when you aren't sure if he'll try to kill you for complaining about it.
  2. Mosh-pit: when death metal-ers get pumped up they like to run around pushing each other really hard. This ends up forming into a congested mass of pushy people. Sometimes the pits can get overly aggressive, but mostly people are just trying to experience what looked like "happy aggression."
  3. Crowd Surf: this became the ultra-cool thing to do about halfway through the concert. It seems like somebody was crowd surfing at almost every moment. Get a couple big dudes to pick you up and the crowd takes care of the rest. They might take care of your wallet and phone too if you're not careful.
  4. Put up devil horns: this is that hand gesture where you extend your pinkey and forefinger so they look like horns. People throw these up instead of clapping their hands. I don't know if this is supposed to be the devil salute or what. But all the cool kids were doing it.
I'm proud to say that I engaged in all four forms of death metal-ness. With a little encouragement from my friend, I broke into the mosh-pit and started pushing people around while trying not to get injured. And then I did it about six more times throughout the evening. What I learned about the pit is that death metal-ers aren't trying to hurt each other. People are pretty physical, but if somebody fell down, they wouldn't start stomping on you with their goth military boots. They would make sure you got up. I know because I tried to stomp on someone after I pushed them over, and people gave me funny looks. Ok, maybe not.

Crowd surfing. Oh yes I did. I had some big dudes pick me up. And next thing I knew I was being carried over the death metal-er's heads toward the stage. Some security guy grabbed me and helped me down near the front of the stage. Then I ran back and tore up the pit again. This is getting fun.

A note about head banging. It's the cool thing to do. Apparently it's also cool to get in a row, put your arms around each other's waists like a bunch of can-can girls, and head bang in unison. I saw this a couple times...head bang bonding.

I'll finish with a photo of me and my friend with his newly purchased poster. See that hand sign that we're doing? Those are the devil horns. Guess that makes me a cool kid.