Thursday, March 23, 2017

My 40s in review

In somewhat chronological order, my 40s in review:

Gained my second marathon finisher's medal, lost motivation to train.
Became a father again, when I gained a son.
Lost a ton of sleep.
Gained a ton of weight.
Went through the motions for a time, both at work, and by running.
Trained up for a marathon for realz, but just missed my sub-4 hour goal.
Lost my mind and went to Disney for all the Dopey races over a single weekend.
Did some triathlons on a lark, including 3 in one month, because why start small?
Gained confidence, lost a lot of weight.
Overtrained.
Ignored my health, got hurt. Lost my mojo.
Gained an appreciation for Marzen-style German beers.
Gained a ton of weight again.
Went to over a year's worth of PT sessions.
Came back and lost weight slowly.
Got better at running, lost the desire for triathlons.
Kept my wetsuit.
(Re)Gained a fanatic love of baseball, particularly the Nationals.
Lost the ability to pick up my daughter and carry her on my shoulders.
Gained the ability to curse in front of her.
Went to Hawaii. Like, a lot.
Got better at my job.
Got better at a lot, including losing weight.
Got under 4 hours in a marathon.
Almost lost something ridiculously important to me.
Got it back.
Lost my father. Didn't know. Didn't care. Then I did. Then I didn't.
Got close enough to whales to (literally) touch them.
Decided I hate all things seafood.
My son taught me that sometimes it's ok to deviate from the directions in a Lego set.
Ran my first ultra, 50 miles, because why start small?
Lost my appreciation for all things dairy.
Ran more ultras.
Lost friends.
Got better ones.
Saw my first no-hitter in person.
Lost all hope I'd ever see the Nats make it out of the first round of the playoffs.
Got so confident in my job that I got a little tired of it.
Thought, "What if I issued decisions in Court, rather than defended them there?"
Thought that was a ridiculous, overconfident, and needlessly-fanciful idea.
Went for it anyway, because why not.
Held my dog in my own home, in his bed, in my lap, in a sunbeam, when he lost his life.
Ignored another injury.
Gained weight.
Lost my mind.
Gained a new job.
Left the city I'd known as my home for (literally) more than half my life.
Crossed the US (and the Atlantic) way more than I thought I would.
Gained an Oregon driver's license (and probably perjured myself for the "weight" entry)
(probably got it wrong for the height one, too).
Got my stuff back, including, of all things, my wetsuit.
Got a FitBit.
Got this written before I turned 50.
I'm starting my 50s with the goal to get even healthier.
Because, if my 40s taught me anything, why set a small goal?

Friday, August 26, 2016

Leesburg 20K Race Report

I wasn't in a good mood for much of this summer, with my running severely limited to shorter distances. Thanks #PITAChat


Not that I was bitter.

Now August was winding down, and I was preparing to move to the west coast at the end of the month.  It was time to begin a Very Different Life than what I've experienced for some time.  Not feeling like myself as a runner was having side effects on my mood.





Because I'm into symbolism and marking important events, I REALLY wanted to do a kind of "farewell to DC" race, but just couldn't make it work with all my various goodbye trips. Plus goodbye happy hours, goodbye luncheons.  Goodbye time for racing.


So many Goodbye Speeches

In the meantime, I'd marked my LAST Nats game as a DC resident, my LAST time running the Mall, my LAST time on the Mount Vernon Trail . . . etc.  Between my penchant for marking "lasts," and all the goodbyes, they were having quite an effect on me.

Looking back, the wallowing probably wasn't doing much good for my well being.

I was packing in the symbolism.  I had to.  Because I wouldn't even BE in DC all of August.  was going to be in Philadelphia to see an old buddy before I headed to the west coast. As a couple of Gen Xers, we figured a boozy weekend might be fun before I headed out.  NO, NOT THAT KIND OF WEEKEND.




All of a sudden, early in race week, I got a message -- he's having a baby soon (well, his wife is), so he felt he had to bail.  Ok, fair enough.  Out of all people *I* ought to get making sacrifices and choices for children.

What then, to do??

I didn't even have to think about it -- the Leesburg 20K, set for August 21, 2016. It was perfect. It was a low-key, good distance race.  It was in DC, at least in the exurbs.  Ok, fine, it felt like the moon, but it was a DC (area!) race and I could do it!

I just hadn't trained.  20K is 12.4 miles.  I hadn't run farther than 6 miles with the literal pain in my ass.  In fact, most training runs were just over 4 miles.  BUT DID I MENTION I WANTED A SEND-OFF RACE??


Safe to say SHE has a pain in her ass now too.

Fuck it, I'm in. Let's run! I registered online, and was already giddy at the prospect of a farewell run. Plus, Leesburg is where my daughter moved to back in 2013 (that's related to SOME of the personal/legal/family drama I experienced that year).

My daughter is my partner in crime. We go see movies together, assuming the movie is animated, or has a superhero, or a hobbit. This race would take me right by her high school, so that was a nice touch, too.

The day before the race, instead of resting, I took her to see "The Secret Life of Pets," at her request.  It meant that I had to drive an hour out to Leesburg from Capitol Hill to be with her.  We did dinner, dessert, and the movie. It was worth the haul out there, even if I'd have to make the same round trip in about 12 hours.

  
It was a sweet movie.  Not great, but sweet.  But, towards the end, this song plays as a little montage of pet owners come home to their beloved pets.  And there I am, in the dark, like a fuckin' dork . . .  Crying.  




This little scene isn't THAT tear-inducing.  What happened was that right then it hit me -- I worried it was the last time I'd sit next to her in a theater.  Because, you know, I was rather Primed for Symbolism.  The lyrics were sweet, and when the lights came up, she turned to me with a big smile, and everything was still routine.

I dropped her off with her mom, and headed back to DC, stopping for powerbars in a supermarket (needed breakfast in a few hours before the race!), and FUCK if this damn song wasn't being piped in at the DC "UnSafeway."




I of course teared up, but you can't show weakness in a place like that. You'll be cold cuts.  But the song was now in my head.  I suspected it would be for the race too.  I got home, and between dinner, the movie, dessert, the LONG drive home, and Safeway, I realized . . . it was WAY fuckin' late.


I did the math on how much sleep I'd get:

Uh oh.

Race morning:

I made the trip (back) out to Leesburg.  I just BARELY got parking on the very top level of the parking deck by the start (protip for this race:  yes, they do have parking nearby, but that thing fills up FAST).  I then got in the hay-uge line to pickup my shirt/bib (and race pin!).  

After barely making it to the start line, I told myself that, no matter what, I had to treat this race as a long run with a bunch of friends, and just have Zero Competitiveness.  My ass would thank me.


If only my booty were as small as hers.  And as young.  And shat gold records.

I forget what a nice small feel Potomac River Running races are.  The Leesburg 20K is a well-attended race, but it just isn't so large that you feel you're in an absolute mob.  I knew that within a mile or so, we'd be well-lengthened out.


What, you'd prefer more of Bert and Ernie at a glory hole?

BANG! Off went the gun, and off we went.


I figured for this race, I'd have to run by feel.  If my booty started to hurt (which it typically would do after 3-4 miles), I'd be in deep trouble, and would have to walk/run the course.  So it seemed to me that slower was smarter.  

Based on the summer I'd had, that wouldn't be a problem.




Mile 1:  10:30ish

The first mile was crowded, but despite that I went faster than I wanted, for having NO idea what would happen to my body doing double the distance I'd been training at lately.  So of course, I sped up.  



Makes about as much sense.

Mile 2:  10:16.

"Well, this is BULLSHIT," I thought to myself as I ran.  I had a vision of what mile 7 would be like, with 5 more miles to go.




So.  Enough of THAT shit.

Dialing it back had a rather . . . humbling effect on me.  People were passing me like there were only 2 miles or so to go, instead of, you know, more than TEN miles.


I GET IT -- ON MY LEFT ON MY LEFT ON MY LEFT -- I GET IT

Interesting.  Humbling.  Ouch.

I made my way into an initial clearing, just trying to keep good spirits.  My farewell race!   Happy!  New life ahead!  Totally not going to finish last!  Maybe.


I like this pic because it looks like I'm leading, and distracts from the trivia that
I weigh more than the combined total of every other runner in this picture.

Starting about the 4th mile, there was a pretty significant (relatively speaking) climb, and just kind of sustained through mile 5.  I was still holding back, although (who I am kidding?) that climb was NOT fun.  But I kept smiling.

Those "Lovely Day" lyrics were creeping back into my head.


When the day that lies ahead of me
Seems impossible to face



Fuck.  Another climb.  Head down, short steps, lean forward.



When someone else instead of me
Always seems to know the way



Sing it, Bill.

We passed an exit sign with my daughter's new home street on it.  Ugh.  I'm going to miss her so much.  But this isn't the end of our relationship just because I'm taking steps not to ruin other lives.  She's in her senior year.  She's looking at colleges.  She'll still be my partner in (movie) crime, right?


Then I look at you
And the world's alright with me
Just one look at you
And I know it's gonna be
A lovely day

 
Yes she will.

Press on.  We were over the hill, and now I could make up some time on the downhill.

Wheeeee!

Fuck, you know what?  I'm not sure anything hurts THAT badly.  This isn't going that badly.  I'm smiling, thanking volunteers, and generally just having . . . fun.


George Takei approves


We came to the turnaround.  I was now in a position where I was closer to being finished than from the start.  We headed back.

Of course, it meant that the hill I'd just climbed and then ran down needed to be RE-climbed again.




Whatever.  I did my thing, grinding my way back up the hill.  I decided that about the point we went back DOWN, I'd try and reevaluate pace.

That put me around mile 9.  So, I'd decided to increase "speed" back to the mid-10 minutes per mile again, just to see how my body would react.  



I was now starting to pass some familiar faces/bodies as I picked up the pace.  Negative splits are for realz.  Mile 10 featured a slight slowdown for water/Gu, but no biggie.  I went right back to my "faster" (ha) pace, and the last 4 miles were just enjoyable.  I had the same PITA soreness I'd come to expect, but nothing debilitating.  Plus, hell, I was approaching mile 11 after having not really gone beyond 6 for the summer.  I SHOULD be a touch sore from the effort!

Anyway.  I pressed on.

Mile 11 was almost as fast as mile 2.  Humph.  So THAT race plan worked, at least.  



Good thing the "plan" was to get my ass kicked and finish at the back of the pack.


video

Finally, mercifully, because I really was feeling myself start to fade from miles 11-12, we'd made our way off the W&OD path, and back onto city streets to finish.  I actually think I saw a few folks I know from Instagram (not Twitter, of all things!), and also made some new friends via the pics.  Ok, fine, I picked up a few IG followers because NARCISSIST.

Boom.  Finished.  12.4 miles, just over 12.5 on my watch (tangents, smangents).  Negative split for pacing.  And if I'm going to finish out a course as a DC local, this was the race to do it.  Even if it was on the moon.

Time for a quick IG post from the parking deck, and then back to DC.  I needed to finish logistics (read:  sleep, eat take-out Chinese food, and convince myself that this was a good move, long term).



Race by the numbers:

Overall:  Bottom 30%

Sex:  Bottom 21%


AG:  Bottom 21%

Ask me if I care (spoiler alert:  I do, but also I don't).  I got to have a meaningful goodbye.




And now it's time for some hellos.

PDX, here I come.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

#PITAchat

Fine.  I'll admit it.  I'm not a huge fan of the #RunChat thing.  I don't like that they encourage people to reply publicly to their questions (as opposed to doing the less-public method of replying just TO them "@runchat A1: Yada Yada #runchat") -- my preferred way seems less spammy, and people who follow both me AND @runchat will see my answer anyway.  I've seen them request that people not do that, but screw that, I won't spam/advertise for them.

Anyway.  I have a Pain In The Ass ("PITA").  It isn't fun.

Which brings me to this . . . HEY, IT'S TIME FOR #PITAchat!

Welcome to #PITAchat folks! Make sure you answer all #PITAchat questions using the hashtag #PITAchat because otherwise you might not see all the other cool answers involving #PITAchat and then you'd miss out on more people who also use #PITAchat in the course of their #PITAchat!  #PITAchat

Q1:  Are you currently experiencing an inexplicable Pain In The Ass?  #PITAchat

A1:  Yep.  Almost immediately after finishing the North Face 50K, I noticed that (1) I wasn't healing up from a race nearly as fast as I'm used to doing, and (2) there was an unusually strong PITA that would NOT go away.   #PITAchat

Q2:  Where IS this pain?

A2:  It's in my left glute, but can sometimes feel a little like it's in the side/hip area. It's definitely a shooting pain at times, and I feel it even when I'm not running, at least sometimes. It's like a knife under the muscle of a glute, but I almost wonder if it is rooted AROUND it.

Q3:  Did you immediately take time off and rest it like a normal person? 

A3:  Ha ha! Don't be ridiculous. I of course ran on it a LOT! And then wondered why my training was going straight into the toilet!

Q4:  How long did you press through this pain?

A4:  The rest of April after my 50K mud-fest, then all of May. I then took a little bit of time off in mid-June.  I tried running the next day after the Lawyers Have Heart 10K, and ended up having to walk back most of the way because the pain was so strong.

Q5:  What did you do then?

A5:  Took off a TON of time in July, and slowly eased my way back into running.

Q6:  How slowly?

A6:  Like 2 mile runs slowly. While carrying my phone, which I would NEVER do, but hey, if I was going to run THAT little, and THAT slow, I was going to catch Pokemon on the Mall.

Yes I play Pokemon Go. #TeamValor 

Q7:  Did you ever figure out what was wrong?

A7:  What WAS wrong? Nope. Nor what IS wrong. It still kinda hurts, but not as much. I'm trying to do stretches, foam roll, and my personal weight trainer has been working with me on it. It's a long road back. Anyway, did I mention I like to play Pokemon Go?



Q8:  So will the Lawyers Have Heart 10K end up being your farewell to DC racing as a local?

A8:  SHUT YOUR FACE.

Q9:  Why did you stop using #PITAchat in all your answers after Question 1?

A9:  For the same reason you stopped using them in the questions. 





Q10:  It's time for a #PITAchat brag! What did you do that you're proud of lately?

A10:  Basically, I'm doing my best to Fix This. I have to if I'm going to run pain-free again.  I'm trying to stretch, heal, and be smart. So really, I'm trying to utterly break from what is my nature. I need to run long, and run again.




Sunday, June 26, 2016

2016 Lawyers Have Heart Race Report

The good news:  Short post.
The bad news:  Because I hate this race and am SO done with it.

I tried to protect my aching piriformis, still left over from the North Face 50K about 7 weeks earlier.  I wasn't SUPER psyched to do this race, but I love my team, and we have a great brunch afterwards, so I was most definitely IN.  I wasn't happy to do this as my last "DC race as a local," but I was going to give it a go regardless.

I have a love/hate relationship with this race.  The DC Lawyers Have Heart race has been the site of two of my fastest 10K times, including one sub-50 minute race.  But it seems like each year, it's marked with tremendous screwups/snafus, at least prior to the race.

I think they're geared towards making money for their cause, as opposed to putting on a smooth race.  That, or they cater to the (very) large law firms that supply the lion's share of their donations.  They don't give a whole lot about 5-7 idiot lawyers from a government agency who don't really raise a lot of money beyond their entry fees.

Just like many years previous, we fielded a team.  Every year, there's a screwup from the organizers.  The LAST time I did this race, they said I hadn't registered.  This year, I showed up for team packet pickup and, sure enough . . . no bibs, no t-shirts for our team.


Kinda verbatim, when I found out.

So, of course, I had to stand there while they re-registered us, and assigned us new bibs. Somewhere there is one HELL of a landfill just STACKED with unused extra bibs from this race, because they've had to duplicate so often.  So I just stood there, like an angry, bitter . . . mop (I hadn't had a haircut for some time).


That really IS a mop!  You can't unsee now, can you?

So.  Freaking.  Done.

The don't have a clue about putting on this big of a race for this many people, imho.



Anyway, a few days later, it was Race Day, and, thanks to a timely UberX driver, I was at the start line WAY early. So early, that I got a couple of nice pics of the Georgetown Waterfront pre-race:


Looking across the Rosslyn VA

The Kennedy Center

We lined up in our corrals, and I turned on my Garmin (along with every other Type-A running lawyer in DC).  Just then, a teammate/friend of mine (she doesn't want me to use her real name, so let's call her "Lori") stopped me and asked if I knew where our boss was. I didn't, and Lori mentioned she wasn't going to run this race too fast, as she hadn't been training and didn't want to risk injury. She fell back.

BANG!  Off went the gun, and off we went.


GET OUTTA MY WAY I GET MIMOSAS POST-RACE

I was a little too fired up for this race, particularly being hurt.  I looked down as I ran (you start under a bridge), and my Garmin said it was up and running.

Mile 0-1 5:40

Wait, what?  The Garmin warbled at me just over halfway to the mile marker that I'd run a mile, and I was all, "NOPE" but then I'd realized it hadn't made a satellite connection from under the bridge.  FUCK.

I do NOT handle mid-race snafus well.  But I hit "lap" on my watch as we hit the mile 1 marker, and saw I was going a too-fast-for-a-guy-with-a-sore-ass 9:34.

Mile 1-2 9:19

Well, this wasn't any better.  It was WORSE.  I was weaving way too much as well, but I guess I was just caught up in the crowd, and generally not being Smart.

Mile 2-3 9:19

Still cruising, still kinda happy that I'm not hurting worse.  Humph.  It sure had hurt worse on training runs.

Mile 3-4 10:02 (water/gu)

Along here, Lori actually caught up to me just prior to starting mile 3, and began to Chat Me Up.  I'm normally not a guy who talks/chats while running, and DEFINITELY not during a race.


In this case, it was because I was running so hard I couldn't breathe.

But I just let Lori run with me, and she talked.  A lot.  Like, from pre-mile 3 all the way to mile 6.  At first, I was sure it was going to make the race hellish.


TALK TALK TALK TALK TALK TALK TALK TALK TALK TALK

But it was along this stretch, as Lori talked to me, effortlessly, maddeningly, that I realized I was actually pretty grateful.  My ass was starting to . . . wait for it . . . ASSert itself.


C'mon, you kind of appreciate I went without an actual ass gif

I was hurting, and Lori was able to tell me fun stories/dirt/complain while I said insightful stuff like, "(wheeze) really?" "(puff) wow!" and (chokes back vomit) "FUCK FINISH THIS STORY AFTER WE CLIMB THIS HILL HOW CAN YOU TALK FOR THIS?"

Oh yeah.  New course this year.  The fast, speedy, out-and-back 10K was gone.  Now this course was pocketed with climbs, turns, and double-backs.  Not sure who designed it.


PROBABLY
Lawyers Have Heart Elevation Chart



Mile 4-5, 5-6 (9:48, 9:54)

These two miles had way more climbs in them, but I'm sure I was just slowing down from real, genuine ass pain, but Lori was happily just chatting me up, and I was happy to have my mind off of my ass.




We pressed on, and Lori didn't want to sprint in for mile 6 to 6.2, but I did, just to ensure I'd come in under an hour.  For the .2, I hit a sub-8 minute pace, and was happy to see I'd made it under an hour (not by much!).

The end of this race meant it was . . . time for brunch and mimosas!


I'M-A GET MAH BOOZE ON!


We had a few minutes to kill, so we did usual goofy race poses . . . 

"Act fierce" the photographer told us.  I don't think we quite hit it. Come find me on Instagram!
. . . and I added a couple of shots to Snapchat (add me! Tai_Fung) 

Best medal for this race in years. Worst. Course. Ever.

Snapchat made a filter for this race, not bad.

When the brunch was over, we bade our goodbyes, and that was that. It turned out that my daughter had gone to NYC with her mom and nobody told me they'd left, so I ended up being pretty bitter and hurt over the weekend because of that. But it ALSO had been a good weekend too. My son made the little league All-Star team, and also hit his first (little league) home run. Having a farewell race like this mixed in was bittersweet, but also a nice break from a weekend of daddy-ing and drama.

Plus, now that I'm leaving DC, I'm SO DONE WITH THIS RACE!


Monday, June 20, 2016

Father's Day

I've made no secret that for me, Father's Day comes with LOTS of baggage. There's a weird history there for me. Lots of ghosts and demons to fight off (which is troublesome for a guy who doesn't believe in either).

Longtime friends might recall that in 2013 I took a pretty decently long chunk of time to "go dark," re online stuff, as I had been in the middle of a personal shitstorm, and I just couldn't fake it online anymore. I needed the break. Something had to give, and it was online activity.

Then, yesterday, for Father's Day 2016, I just said, "why not," and (with permission) put him back out there.






THEN, all of this reminded me that I used to tweet about him a LOT pre-2013. I captioned the photos (screenshots from 2016 for calculating the TimeHop app). As TimeHop presents me funnier ones from earlier, I'll probably update this post with screenshots of those too. I think some of these are a hoot!



From April 4, 2012



From January 3, 2013



From May 4, 2012



July 19, 2012


It was right to avoid hyperdrama and stop with him, because real life is far more important than this online blogging nonsense that some people take WAY too seriously. But he's older now, and the decisions I've made in my life are MINE -- your opinion on them are irrelevant, because they work for me. I'm a RunBlahgger -- I don't do a lot of "DaddyBlogging" (apart from the HooWow Issues).

He'll be in Oregon ahead of me, but will be waiting to see me, and it will be hard to tell which of us will be more excited. His sister will remain with her mom in the DC area (see the bit above about my life being mine, and keep your opinions to yourself!). Life will progress. It will work out.

But, I thought it important to acknowledge him more formally, as I've made adventures with my daughter so prominent as we get into various shenanigans.

Happy Father's Day. Let's make sacrifices to atone for generational-old sins, and stop the cycle with this generation - they don't deserve the baggage (particularly in light of the national debt we're leaving them!).