Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Cherry Blossom 10-Miler goals

The Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-Miler holds a special place in DC running/racing for me.  It represents the first time, the first race, where I started to believe . . . to really REALLY believe, that I could go long distances.

After my first Marine Corps 8K, it wasn't long after that I ran a 10K, and then another. 6.2 miles? Why not 10? 10 miles seemed . . . long. But I did it, just kind of trotting it with my then-girlfriend, and booya, I was a CUCB 10-miler finisher.

Hmm.  10 miles.  Why not a half marathon?  Hell, if I was going to run a half, why not just jump up to a full marathon?

It made sense at the time, ok???
And off I went.  Miles of races, people, and sights I'd never think I'd encounter.

So now, here I am, about to run my (possibly, perhaps likely) last CUCB 10-miler EVER.  Don't ask.  It refers to a thing I've taken to calling #SecretProjectProjectSecret and that will be (kind of) public sooner than later.

Anyway, it looks like I'm not much longer for this area, and CUCB was the springboard to my longer distance races.  We've now come (kind of) full circle -- just a few days away from the 2016 Cherry Blossom 10-Miler.  I started running longer distances in this area because of this race, and I'm back one last time to say goodbye.

My 2013 course PR of 85 minutes and change is quite safe.  I'm heavier (due to food), slower (due to ultra training), but way stronger (thank you Atlas Fitness DC). 

So what should my goals for this race be?

I thought about having my (A) Goal be:

Run Naked!

No, not the "omg barf" type running naked.  Like, run it without tech.
This might be grosser than me running naked.  Ok, fine, it's not.

But really, nobody needs to see that.  And even the THOUGHT of running naked is scary to a tech-addicted runner like me.

Look at that Garmin tanline.  That is NOT for the faint of heart (neither is my wrist hair). #Barf

So, no, I'm not much of a "no-tech" guy.  I just love mah data.

What, then, should my goals be?

I think I've narrowed it down to this.  Lately, I seem to be able to train around a 9:15-9:30 pace/mile lately, doing a bunch of 7 mile training runs.  I can go faster if need be (if it's a shorter distance), and as I train over 10 miles, I go slower.

I think I'd like to shoot for an A Goal of a sub-90 minute 10 miler, since I don't anticipate actually doing that, and A Goals tend to be "reach for the stars" goals.

It seems a valid B Goal would be finishing in sub-95 minutes, which would mean I'd basically be doing a 10-mile training run.

Finally, my C Goal has GOT to be . . . don't get hurt.  You have 31.5 miles to run in six days.

Yeah . . . I'm also running The North Face Endurance Challenge 50K on Saturday 9 April.  It was the site of a last-second decision to run last year, after a stretch of knee pain had abated.  I finished, but ran it quite slow (although it was the source of many Twitter cameos).  I'm not hurting this year.  I'm just fatter and slower.  I want another crack at this course when I'm not worried about my knee exploding.

So there we are.  Run like hell this Sunday, but if you can't do that, run smart.  And run with gratitude.  Because the CUCB showed me that I COULD take on longer distances than "just" 6.2 miles.  It allowed me to do more than dream.  It allowed me to dare.

Thank you CUCB.  See you Sunday.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Good Luck Box unboxing

I remember being in college for my freshman year.  Just prior to final exams starting for the first time, my mom sent me a "Care Package" from a company that specialized in them.  The box was nice. It had snacks, goodies, and tchotchkes, and made me feel grateful for such a thoughtful gesture. It surprised me that my mom would do that, because I we weren't around each other a lot in high school (I lived on my own a significant portion of that time).  It was really a great pick-me-up.

Fast forward ONE ZILLION YEARS to present (I'm old). In preparation for the Credit Union Cherry Blossom 10-miler, the folks at Good Luck Box sent me a care package free.  They aren't mom, but they're still quite kind. And clearly, they must know the awesome power I wield . . . as a BLOGGER.

Ok, fine.  As a Run BLAHGGER.

Even though I think almost every CUCB social runner/ambassador has done a blog reviewing what they got, I nev--

Fine. Let's see what's in there. Captions for each picture below!

I'm fairly certain, even with my color blindness, that the box is green.

I'm a sucker for puns. I got this. It would be funny if it opened from the other side or something.

Right from the start, the presentation is top notch.  I like the green(?) laces. They could've saved my ass on St. Patrick's Day.

I got a lucky penny!  Does it substitute for not training?  Let's hope so.

The safety pins are a cute touch, although I now use RaceDots for my bibs. Actually, a package of RaceDots might be a really good inclusion for future boxes!  Give it a consideration, BoxPeople!

A paper card with the weekend schedule is a nice touch. Also, a "Tiger Tail" which is a rolling stick, is one of the hits for me in this box. That's a really cool inclusion.

I made this picture larger so you can see all the stuff. There's Balega socks, a sample of sports detergent, body glide, the stick-ish Tiger Tail, and lots of food samples. Confession: I ate the Honey Stinger bar like 10 seconds after this photo.

So, big shot blogger/ambassador that I am, having received this bountiful tribute from this company, what are my thoughts?

One thing's for sure, I would have agreed to The Turk's proposal and joined the heroin trade.  But I digress.

This box is a really kind gesture to do for a runner. It's a good runner gift. It really is. Any runner who gets one of these things will be happy to receive it. I mean that. Is it chock-full of stuff you can't live without? Nope. But neither was the box my mom sent. It had some nice things a college student appreciated, but what was more important was the gesture itself.

This box will set you back less than $40, and you're giving your runner close to that in value. Do you send flowers? Do you like to receive them? Do you appreciate getting them, or appreciate the feeling of doing something kind for someone who needs support?

Of course you do. 

And that's the benefit from this box. It's a nice thing to do. You're not going to change anyone's life, but you're going to show someone that you care. I still haven't used everything in the box yet, but I will. If I got one of these before a marathon, or even a shorter race (like the CUCB 10-Miler!) I'd be super appreciative to whomever sent it to me.

I know a lot of bloggers go nuts over free stuff, and do infomercials for the items. Maybe I'm being a little cold.

But it does me (or a reader) no good to just be a shill. This is a NICE thing to send (and receive). It isn't going to make or break your race, or even "necessarily be a necessity." But it won't break your wallet, and if you get one it just MIGHT break you from a bad day you're having. That's good enough for me. It reminded me how grateful I was at 19.

Thanks mom.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Nats Clubhouse Social

Warning -- this will be a bitter rant.

My guess, although right now I'm not able to say why, is that 2016 is my last year living in Washington, DC. 

That feels so weird to even write out. Anyway, back to bitter ranting. But maybe that's why this stings so badly.

I've been to more Nats games than I can count, both at RFK and Nats Park. I've freely shared my dedication to the team, and hell, I specifically WEAR Nats gear in almost every one of my races. It's a trademark. I was looking forward to following the Nats from my new locale, when/if I move.

Today, however, I'm just gut punched.

I have a long history in life of being picked last for things, or just being outright excluded from events, so I'm particularly sensitive to "cliqueyness" in groups.  I quit applying to be the CUCB Social Runner after getting turned down enough, although to my shock they later asked me to be an ambassador.  But, one group that is noticeably insular and clique-minded is #NatsTwitter.

#NatsTwitter is a hashtag, unsurprisingly, designed to find like-minded Nationals fans on the Tweeter and chat up games in real-time, or share Nats news. I use it sometimes, and it is, by far, the LEAST effective hashtag I could put out there (of the hashtags I use to be serious). While I've interacted with a few (just a few, like . . . 3?) NatsTwitter folks who've let me in their fold, they are --by far-- the online exception and not the rule. There's definitely a "Cool Kids Club" vibe to the rest, and it's pretty distasteful. They're generally insular, circular, and exclusive.

I noticed last year, when the Nationals put on their "Nats Clubhouse Social," that some of the "coolest" of the cool kids got invites. The Nats made no bones about it being a subjective choice, and those who got in reveled in that.  I can't say I blame them at all for being so happy, but it wasn't anything but the Nats reaching out and picking people who got their attention enough over the prior year. The blogs/reports I read from people who went amounted to, "Whore it up more next year, and maybe you'll get their attention."

This year, the Nats went a step farther into the sunlight, and invited fans to nominate themselves.  

I jumped at the chance:

Then, I just . . . waited. I didn't spam entries like others did. I didn't cross-promote like I saw the in-crowd doing, where they highlighted each other's entries to the team. I just linked to the Nats page with Beakertude, which lays out my fandom for the Nats, my trademark of wearing their gear when I race, and even when I train. I kept waiting. Then, just this afternoon, I saw #NatsClubhouseSocial popping up from Nats fans who made the cut. They were going. Tonight.

Two things struck me:

1. Damn, not good enough again, and

Not cool. Not. Cool.

It's one thing to put something out there and let us peons seek to get into the Cool Kids Club. It's way the hell another to offer, in multiple years, the same folks to come back to this event. That means the "entries" weren't that, so much as just a circular means of an in-crowd taking care of their own.

Whatever. I'll keep supporting the team, even if I'm living in (REDACTED) in 2016 and beyond.

But this sucks, and yes, I'm bitter. The in-crowd will keep having their circle jerk, congratulating themselves on how amazing they are, and I'll be outside, training. Because unlike #NatsTwitter, I find runners far more egalitarian.

Have I mentioned I'm bitter?

Fuck it, clicking publish on this blog before I reconsider posting this.


No, really!  An update!

Ok, writing this on Tuesday night, 5 April, after having run the Cherry Blossom 10-miler.  If you recall, I also volunteered again at the race expo the Friday before the race.

So. Funny story. Well, not funny to ME.

This is more like it.
So CC and I are at "our" end of the info table at the CUCB Expo, chatting up a 3rd person, a woman who is a personal trainer near AU. She volunteers for the CUCB yearly, and, if I recall correctly, she gives the guaranteed lottery entry to her husband. At one point, I mentioned that I was juggling with my phone so much because the race ambassadors were supposed to help highlight the race this weekend too.

What follows is (roughly) our exchange:

Me:  (blah blah blah, I am doing this CUCB thing)

Her:  Wow, that's great, how did you get to do that?

Me:  Well, I'm pretty active on social media, and have a history with the race, so they asked.

Her:  Hmm, my friend who's running this is really active on twitter, I wonder if she should do this next year?

Me:  Does she have a lot of interaction with CUCB, or talking about the race?

Her:  No, but she's on Twitter a lot.



Me:  Wait, what?

Her:  Yeah, she and her friends all nominated each other for this thing, and they got in.

Me:  (starting to feel woozy) Wait . . . what?

Her:  It was really cool! They got all this free Nats stuff at a preview.

Me:  Was it the "Nats Clubhouse Social?"

Her:  Yes!  That was it!  Her friends got together and even nominated her dogs, and so THEY got a separate invite too!

Me:  (Has some trouble hearing, because CCRuns, who is watching this exchange is --literally-- doubled over laughing at me, because she knew how crushed I was)


Her:  (not smiling as much) . . . um, yeah.  I didn't want to make you angry.

Me:  You're not. Look at her (pointing to CC, who is STILL laughing). All good.

Her:  It was just a thing I guess her friends did for her.

Me:  Yeah, I get it.

Her:  (She now refers to her friend's first name, which I won't say) and her friends all wrote the Nationals about her and her dogs, and they got the invite.

Me:  (Stews more, while CC dries her eyes from laughing)

It turns out that --literally-- just before I walked a block or two from work to the Expo, I had been (surprise!) on Twitter. This person whose DOGS got invited came up in the algorithm as a "who to follow" suggestion. I hadn't followed, but her handle was easy to remember.  I normally hate when people say, "Oh, you're from New York? Do you know X?" because it's so random. But I couldn't help it. The names matched, and it was coincidental.

Me:  Is your friend's twitter handle (X)?

Her:  Yes! That's her! OMG she must be twitter famous!


Her:  I'm sorry, I didn't want to make you mad.


This personal trainer goes on to discuss how her friend must truly be seriously-omg-so-twitter-famous-and-important for me to have "heard" of her, and I am STEAMED for even asking now, because this "NatsTwitter CoolKid" was just suggested to me minutes earlier as a person to follow, and her handle has her name in it. WHY DID I ASK WHY WHY WHY

Anyway. It turns out that the circle jerk theory I had was true (it was already quite publicly proven), but fuck. If it wasn't for CC laughing so hard at me and how ridiculous it was, I might have been genuinely pissed, instead of just, I dunno . . . stunned. I get tired of being right all the time.

Cliquey. So. Fucking. Cliquey.

I know, I know. I'll let it drop. But I had to update with this info. Why should CC be the only one to laugh at me??

See?  I've already covered what most people are thinking.