Sunday, August 03, 2008

July was an ass-kicker month because of how busy it was. August is going to kick my ass in a totally different way. This must be the variety that makes my life so darn spicy.

Today I got up at 5:30 am to be a pacer for the 2nd half of the SF Marathon. I've been a pacer a twice before, but never for this course (which was hilly), never for marathoners (although I split the pacing duties with a partner who ran the first half), and never for this particular speed (which was a challenging pace for me).

(The goal of a pacer, for those of you who aren't familiar with this, is to run the race in a specified amount of time while carrying a sign that announces your predicted finish time. The idea is that if other runners have specific time goals that they're shooting for, they can run with a pacer and have confidence that if they stick with the pacer, they'll get to the finish line on time. It's a service provided by most big marathons and half marathons. A pacer who doesn't finish on time, or finishes way too early, or who runs a crazy pace swinging wildly between too-fast and too-slow, is a bad pacer.)

Overall the race went pretty well. Because I didn't run the first half, I'm not exactly sure how close to the goal we came in, but I'm pretty sure that we weren't far off, hopefully less than 60 seconds early. There were people running with me who were hoping to qualify for the Boston Marathon on this run, so it was important to deliver them on time.

Equally important (to me anyway) was to provide a little chatter. Running a marathon is mind numbingly boring and painful, so I figure it's my goal to distract the runners, while still keeping them on schedule. In this regard, I totally failed.

I whipped out my best material! I bantered with the spectators, made fun of people not running with our group, told running and port-a-potty related anecdotes and in response I got.... nothing. I don't know if it was the fact that this group had already logged 13 miles by the time I got them, or if they were just really serious runners, or if I'm just not as funny as I think I am, but aside from one guy who gave me a sympathy "heh" after each of my jokes, they were a silent bunch.

The spectators loved me though. When people on the sidelines cheer and then actually get a response from the runners, they become very appreciative. Even cheesy stuff like cupping my hand to my ear and saying "I can't hear youuuuuuuuu!" after they'd half-heartedly cheer us would get a laugh (and a bigger cheer) from the spectators.

So, that was the first 13.1 miles of my day. Unfortunately, I'm planning on running a full marathon in 9 weeks, and that means that I needed to do a longer run today in preparation. So, after running the half-marathon, I turned in my pacing sign and then launched back out on the course for another 3 miles on my own. Blech.

Then, after that long run, what did I get to do? An ice bath!

Man, do I hate ice baths. If you gave me the choice between a 15 minute ice bath and a 2 hour run, I'd pick the run every time. Unfortunately, on days like today, I get to do them both.

I filled up the tub with cold water, sloooooowly lowered myself in (whimpering and squealing), and then dumped in all the ice from our freezer. Gah. Midway through the bath, concerned that the water wasn't cold enough, I called out to Hank to bring me our meat thermometer. She brought it into the bathroom, politely failing to point out my shrinkage-affected penis, and handed me the thermometer, which I dipped into my bathwater.

"You're not doing that right. You need to stick it into the meaty part of your thigh," she added helpfully.

I should have listened to her. The pain might have distracted me from the cold.

Anyway, today was just the beginning of my August fitness nightmare. Since I'm two months away from the marathon, this is the peak training month. Thus, tomorrow I start a morning "boot camp" program where I have to wake up at 5:30 three times a week to go join an exercise group in the park. This will give me the strength training that I need to go along with all the running and ice bathing that I get to do.

That'll be my Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. Then, on Tuesday and Thursday, since I've been having a hard time getting in lunch-time runs at work, I figure I'll just get up at 5:30 on those days too, to go for a early morning run.

So, 5 goddamn :30 every weekday for the month of August. And long runs. And ice baths. Crikey.

Running a marathon was a terrible way to express my mid-life crisis. I totally should have bought a motorcycle or found a mistress.


Meg S. said...

I thought they used cars for pacing. A little moped would be good too. But humans! Ack. I keep printing out the "The Couch-to-5K Running Plan" from Cool Runnings every month or so, but that's as far as I've gotten. Do you run with Daisy? I never know what to do with the kids when I'm trying to do something like that.

I think it's awesome you're doing it! Your girls must be so proud of you! What's the deal with the ice bath? Just for more torture? To freeze your muscles into submission?

Dr. Jeff said...

You need to leave more high school comments.

Mike said...

Daisy doesn't care much for running, but we have "jogged" a 5K together a couple times with lots of walking breaks. The ice bath is all about reducing inflammation and thus soreness. It prevents me from being hobbled for a couple days

Jeff, you mean you can't see the thought bubbles over my head when I read it and think my comments? I think there's browser plugin for that.

Sue said...

Mike - you are a God. I am so impressed. And slightly envious since I've totally wimped out on the "big achievement" for my 40th. Guess I'll just read your blog and bask in your glory.

loveyh said...

You go on with your bad self. I'd be a runner...but I can't have the cops showing up when I have two constant black eyes.

tinyhands said...

It's not too late for the motorcycle. I want to get one. We should get matching bikes and jackets so we can be motorcycle buddies!

The Illustrious Ms E said...

OK, I've been following your Blog for some time now, Mr Mike, and have never been able to figure out the whole "running" thing...I mean, you've never said anything about wild animals in your neighborhood, and that is the only good reason I can think of for running anytime, anywhere, but...*shrugs* To each his own, right?

But ICE BATHS?!!?!??!

Oh dear god...

Ms E

P. S. Do you think they will let you continue Blogging from the sanitarium?

Mike said...

Sue, a god? Nah, that would only be if I did triathlons LIKE YOU! Sheesh.

Lovey, that's an excellent visual, but I totally know what you mean. If I didn't strap down my manhood, I'd totally have a little bruise just a teeny bit above my manhood.

Tiny, wooooooo hoooooooooo! I like that plan. We'd be the Blogging Bikers. Blikers!

Ms. E, oh, I don't really have a good reason. I just felt the need to get some exercise one day and running is a super efficient way to do it. Then, it got really boring, so I needed to run a race or two for motivation. Then, that got boring and so on and so on and so on. Soon, the arms race of fitness led me to the marathon. Me dumb.