Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Made My Day

Whoever worked the front desk at the Peak on Sunday made my day, possibly my week.  The Peak is the gym that I go to when I'm feeling frisky, however on Sunday I just went there to change into my running clothes before my horrible 20 miler.  I put my bar code in front of the reader, the computer beeped, and I went on my way.  That is when I heard the front desk girl say "um, can you come back here please!".  I thought I was in trouble or my $20 bills that I used to pay my membership dues bounced.  I mean, nobody ever gets good news when they are called back to front desk right?  Right?

Not this time, my friends.  Not this time.  

"Can I take another picture of you?", she asked.  You see, every time you check into the place, their nifty camera takes a picture of you to compare to the picture on file.  I don't remember the last time my file picture was taken, but it was probably at least 3-4 years ago.  She turns the computer screen around to show me my profile picture and I said "yeah, that picture was taken awhile ago, and I'm bald now, so it may not look too much like me".  She says, "well, maybe, but you've lost a lot of weight and you are looking good today".  

Made my day.  

I never really had a problem with my body image.  I mean, I thought I looked pretty decent.  I have a pretty muscular frame, although I have always wished I was a little bit taller, but what you gonna do.  The  main reason why I started running again was my ex-girlfriend, in one of her many fits of rage, boldly claimed that I was "fat".  Well, after the term ex was applied to the term girlfriend, I decided I needed to show her what was what*.  That's pretty much when I started running again.  

So having a complete stranger tell me I've lost weight and look good made me feel pretty good about my workouts and training.  I know there are things I need to work on *cough* diet *cough*, but I'm feeling pretty good.  I've lost 7 lbs. in me and Amy's contest.  Not great, but after winning the last contest, I wasn't too confident about this one.  I would like to lose 1-1.5 lbs./week until the marathon.  7 more lbs.  Just gonna keep running and lifting.

All of you look beautiful how you are.  Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.  Screw 'em.

*She hasn't seen me since and hopefully never will, but if that day ever comes, I'll be all slim.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Pity Party

I had a few blogs in my mind to write this week as I was running yesterday.  I have pushed those back so I can feel bad for myself.  This is going to be a downer blog.  Boo.

This past weekend had a grand total of 35 miles ran.  Yep, 35.  I'm trying to get two big runs in a row to train for my marathon and the secret project (shhhh).  Saturday I ran 15 of the crappiest miles ever, but that had nothing on Sunday's run.  

The plan was to just get an easy 20 miles in on the River's Edge Trail in Great Falls.  Almost 8 miles are paved, while there are countless trail miles after the pavement ends.  I had two plans in mind in order to get twenty:  run to the end of the pavement and back and get four more miles somewhere along the route (there are arteries that go off from the main route, so this would be easy to do) OR run a 4 miles on the trails.  

The run started at 2 PM after Mass and some lunch with the fam.  I had my tunes, my camelbak, and my watch.  I was ready to go.  The weather was 75 and cloudy with approaching thunderstorms in the distance.  I needed to get out and done before I would get electrocuted.  The goal pace for this run was to be 8:45-9:15, not too fast, not too slow.  I hoped to get into some sort of rhythm where I didn't think about it too much and I just kind of floated.  Well, that didn't exactly happen.

The first few miles were good.  Fairly slow and easy.  Tons of people outside hanging out in the parks and pools, having picnics, drinking beer.  They seemed to be enjoying themselves and laughing at me for running on a lazy Sunday.  I was having fun, bopping to my tunes, drinking some water every now and then.  This run has a great view of the great Missouri River.  It takes you past two dams and countless falls (get it, Great Falls?) so there is no shortage of views on the run.  I was taking all of this in when I hit the end of the asphalt.

There was a sign at the end of the trail telling us that Cochran Dam was open for crossing that day.  This is only open for 5 days of the summer for pedestrians and bikers to cross, so I was excited to get a chance to cross it and be on the river, even though I'm afraid of water.  The problem was I didn't know how far along the trail the dam was, but I feared it was over the two I needed to get my four miles out and back.  I took the trails nice and easy, which made me feel pretty good.  There are some good uphills and such, but nothing too difficult.  I reached the 10 mile mark of my run and was still a mile from the dam.  I considered running to the dam, but considering it was 400 feet below me, I knew I'd have a tough climb plus an additional 2 miles.  Nope, Craig is not doing that.

I turned around and started to head back to the vehicle, which was imperative as the clouds, I thought, were getting a little closer.  Now to this point, I had rationed my water fairly well, but after hitting the asphalt and going uphill aways, it was clear the heat was going to get to me and I would NOT have water soon.  Uh oh, trouble.  I knew there were some bathrooms along the route, but didn't know if any, or where, there could be water fountains, even though I've run this trails many times.  I figured if I could get to the Fish and Game building, I could probably at least get a drink in there.  I just had to make it 2 miles.  This, my friends, was the longest two miles of my life.  I tried to ration the water better, but I had an unquenchable thirst.  Then, about 100 yards out was my salvation, a water fountain.  I then prayed that it was in working order.  IT WAS.  That could very well have been the best water I have ever tasted.  I drank a few gallons, it seemed, filled my camelbak, a mistake, and was on my way.  I say filling the camelbak was a mistake because the added weight seemed to hurt my feet.  This was the common theme for the last five miles.

I was beginning to think WAY too much about how my legs and feet hurt and how many miles I had to go.  I began to count down every half mile, then quarter mile, then tenth.  This seemed like it would last forever.  I then slowed down to a walk with 4 miles to go.  I pointed out a bench 100 yards out and decided to start running ahead when I got to that bench.  Then a mile later, same thing.  Walk, then run.  With 3 miles to go I told myself I could run the rest of the way as long as it was slowly.  This was successful, until a mile out when I saw a bench and had to sit down, my feet hurt a little too much.  I sat for a minute and ran back to the truck.  I hurt all over and needed some electrolytes, as I had become somewhat nauseous from, what I thought, was too much water and not enough salt intake.  I had taken a GU at the halfway point, but it wasn't enough.  I speeded to a gas station and got a vitamin water and a wild cherry pepsi.  Yum Yum.  I then called Amy and cried on her shoulder about my miserable runs.

Oh, and my left foot hurts right at the ball of the foot in front.  Can't seem to find any info on it, but I'm sure it may have something to do with running 35 miles in a weekend.  

Rest rest, blah blah blah.

Hopefully this will get better, this running thing.  

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Running Technology

When I first got into running, all I thought I needed was a pair of running shoes.  That was NOT the case.  First came the running shirts, then the shorts, then I had to have some long spandex because of FPS (frozen penis syndrome.  OUCH).  

Now, I'll be the first to admit, I'm a nerd.  My ex-girlfriend gave me a Nike + for Christmas a 1.5 years ago (which is odd, because she is Jewish.  I don't get the whole Jewish giving gifts on Christmas thing.  But, then again, I gave her a gift on Christmas.  Sooooooo complicated.).  I loved the Nike+.  Lance Armstrong told me every time that I went longer than my previous long run.  'Congratulations, you have completed the longest run of your training!'

So that was good, but then I realized that GPS was the way to go.  4 years ago, my parents gave me a timex GPS watch, but I had to wear the receiver on my arm that would send signals to my watch.  I ran with it on one of my half marathons, in which it was off by more than 5%, and it also took more than two minutes to lock onto the satellites.  The Nike+ was more accurate, but seemed to be a little off when I mapped it on runningahead.com.  At the time the timex was an expensive watch, so I felt very bad when I replaced it with the Garmin 305.

I did tons of research before I bought the 305.  The 405 had been out for a couple of months, but most of the hardcore runners believed the 305 was superior, except for the looks of it.  (The 405 actually looks like a watch, but has less front area than the 305).  

I bought the 305 for $160, which is STILL a good price (go buy one...AMY).  So for the past 6 months I haven't gone running without it.  Amy loved that I had it because she would know exactly how far we ran (she had Nike+, but it was, as we found out, a little off).  I LOVED it.  I could import my run into runningahead and think nothing of it.  It knew my route, my elevation, everything.

Fast forward to last Saturday.  I hoped to run 13 miles in the city of Great Falls.  It has  a route along the river that is meant for only runners and bikers.  I try to run it twice a week.  It has very little elevation change and a great view of two dams.  (We are THE great falls of the Missouri river, look it up)  This run is 30 minutes driving time from my house.  I was out the door and halfway to town when I realized I didn't have my watch.  Would it have been that bad if I didn't have it?  No.  Who cares if I didn't have it?  I could have known my total time and distance (the course has mile markers), but I NEEDED to know my splits.  So I turned around and got my watch.  My dad shook his head as I explained I wasted a gallon of gas to get my watch.

I started the run in rain and 40 degree temperatures (June in Montana is CRAZY).  I had to wear my winter running shell, which meant I covered my hands.  That's right, I ran without looking at my watch the entire time!!!!!  I didn't look at it at all.  I ran based on effort.  I also had to run in efforts to get back to the truck in time to circumvent the entire FPS syndrome, as I had  a mild case, even in June.  I ran 13 miles in 1:46, which was the same as I raced the half the week before.  How did that happen?  I wasn't that tired.  I ran this WAY too fast, yet didn't look at the watch.  But you know what?  I'm glad I didn't look at it.  It was very freeing!  The next day I ran 17 and didn't look either.  Even as a nerd that likes numbers, it was refreshing.  I'm sure I can't do it much more, but my next marathon (August 1st) I'm gonna try not to look at my GPS.

Technology may rule, but it may not help.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Random Things About Craig

I've decided to do a running column with random facts about me just so you guys can get to know me just THAT much better.  

Here goes.

  1. I hate airing up tires, even though I've done it hundreds of times.  All it takes is that one bad tire to blow up in your face.
  2. I have FOUR middle names.
  3. I hate Duke, Florida, Kentucky, and Tennessee more than all other universities combined...oh, and don't forget Montana State.
  4. I knew how to drive a stick shift and a tractor before I knew how to ride a bike.
  5. I hate it when people use their fingers to do quote marks.  Don't do it in front of me.
  6. I am afraid of any body of water that is deeper than my head.
  7. I went 13 years at the same school growing up.
Cool, well that's it for now.  I can't exactly give everything away all at once, now can I?

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ulm Half Marathon Race Report

The time had come.  It was time that I finally run a race here in Montana.  Ok, ok, I had planned this half marathon for the past few months, but it kind of snuck up on me.  I hadn't pre-registered and didn't carb load, or abstain from alcoholic beverages the two nights beforehand.  I didn't have a plan for the race, I just kinda figured I'd get some miles in.

This particular race is held outside of the bustling metropolis of Ulm, Montana at the First People's Buffalo Jump.  You know, a buffalo jump, where Native Americans would herd buffalo and run them off of cliffs.  My dad made the joke that they were gonna run us runners off of the cliff.  He's very funny once you get to know him.  It's located about 30 minutes from my house via 10 miles of gravel road and some local paved roads.  The plan was to get up about 6:30 for the 9:00 start time, however that got changed a bit since I didn't get to bed until 1:00 AM.  I was out the door by 7:40 after eating a banana and drinking some water.  I also stole a powerade from my folk's fridge.  I decided to take the backroads to the race instead of going into Great Falls and the interstate, even though I would get my newly washed truck a little dirty.  The reason for this detour will be the subject of an upcoming post (teaser anyone?).  

I arrived at 8:15 AM and only 10-15 people were milling around the visitor's center.  I registered (40 bucks!!!  Little pricey) and waited around for the start.  They also handed me a map of the course as if I would be out front leading this mania.  I checked it over and got my phone to take some pics, since I don't have Amy around anymore to take pictures for me.  

This was from the edge of the parking lot looking back to the start/finish line.  Notice how smallish the parking lot suggests this race is.  This race was a fundraiser for the University of Great Falls cross country team, so there were a lot of skinny, pale white dudes running around the place.  The one thing that was great was that this was the FIRST race of 2009 for me where it wasn't raining!  It was great except that it was 80+ degrees outside by the end of the run.

Start line...or shall I say, start cone.  I liked it.  

Finish cone.  Shortest half marathon I'd been to as they were only 10 yards from each other.  Hee hee.  Notice how crappy of a photographer I am?  Stupid pudding head can't get his own shadow out of a picture.  What a dork.  

This is my attempt at getting the mountains.  A bit of a failure.  I guess I should try to get a real camera instead of my stupid camera phone.  As you can see, bright and sunny!

So after waiting around for 45 minutes, the RD lined us up at the start cones and gave us some pre-race instructions.  Here they were:  
  1. There is a baby antelope on the course.  The mom only comes around in the afternoon.  Please don't disrupt the baby antelope.  
  2. (The following was after a short exchange between the RD and the worker at the State Park)  Oh, yeah.  There are TONS of rattlesnakes in this area due to the number of gophers.  Please stay on the roads.
  3. Course description.  Including the words 'gradual hill'.  I'll get to this gem later.
So after the warnings about snakes and angry antelope mamas, the RD said go and off we went.  The first 4 miles or so are downhill on pavement leading into downtown Ulm.  These miles were fairly uneventful except for my 'are we done yet?' joke.  No chuckles.  I'm a dork.  The race then takes a sharp left hand turn in Ulm and goes from pavement to very loose and large gravel.  This is the best maintained country gravel road in Cascade county, I swear.  Most of the time the roads are made up of hard dirt and potholes.  I need to figure out how they get good maintenance and the roads in my part of the county suck.  This gravel was not good for running, however, and there were many slippages.  Halfway between miles 4 and 5 was the 'gradual hill' that the RD mentioned.  He seemed to shrug it off as this harmless little bump in the road that isn't that hard.  I know the first 4 miles we lost a ton of elevation, so I knew there would be hills, but I didn't think we'd gain it all back in one mile.  Yes, this stupid hill was a mile long with at least a 4% grade the entire way.  Also, to make things a little tougher, we were going into a 12 mph wind.  Nothing like going up a hill and into the wind.  There was also the whiff of some sort of carcass that wasn't too pleasing.  

Look at that damned hill.  Gradual my ass.

The course leveled off and turned into some rolling hills, although the footing didn't get any better.  It was difficult to find the most compacted route to run in.  I kept weaving from the left to the right and back to the left of the road.  I did have to negotiate passing a tractor that was out spraying some wheat.  It was a mighty game of chicken, but in the end I dodged.

As there were only about 50 runners, it was a little lonely out on the course.  I did talk to a dude that passed me at about mile 9.  He seemed to be a little less stressed as I was and he ended up going ahead of me, but it was nice to chat it up with someone after not seeing too many people.  

The course headed back to the state park, but first it had to do a loop up the hill that leads to the top of the buffalo jump.  This can be seen by the little blip right before the 11.5 mark.  This, my friends, was almost the end of Craig as you know him.  I was sweaty, hot, thirsty, and tired.  I did not want to go up this hill, but the site of more runners (the 10 k started at 10 AM, and we shared the final part of the course) gave me a boost.  I like passing people and this was my chance.  We headed back down the hill and towards the start of the race.  A 10k runner passed me and I noticed he didn't have a shirt on.  I thought this guy knows what he's doing, so for the first time in a race, I ran shirtless.  It was very liberating.  I especially liked that a photographer took a picture of this pale skinned, farmer-tanned, white boy as he finished.  Awesome.  So, in the end, I finished in 1:45.  Not a PR by any means, but good enough for 4th overall and a decent training run.

Now I have to complain about the water stops.  This race started in 75 degree heat, so we need water and gatorade.  The first station at mile 3 had two people handing out dixie cups of water.  These cups held about TWO ounces of water.  I needed some water and I got TWO OUNCES.  I learned my lesson and the next water stops I actually stopped, chugged water and refilled while chatting with the kids that were manning them.  Much nicer.  Oh, and no gatorade or anything, just water.  

So, there, I'm done.  First race in Montana.  I'm glad it didn't rain, didn't like the heat, but all in all a good small town race.  There is another half in a month I may run.  It's along the river, so it's very flat.  We'll see.  

Sunday, May 24, 2009


First I would like to congratulate the Vandy baseball team for getting into the championship game at the SEC tournament.  I'm a little upset because it's a double elimination tournament and we only lost in the championship game to LSU, who we beat the in the first round.   Shouldn't we play another game?  I think this should be changed...I guess I'll do it when I'm commissioner of the SEC.

So, this is about my latest plateau.  I just posted this in a thread at Runningahead...

I think I've hit a running plateau as of late.  I feel more fatigued, I can't keep my +30-60 second marathon pace for as long as I could in the past, I'm not having as much fun, and I find it a struggle to get out and run.

There are a few things that may have played a part in this plateauing...
  1.  I recently moved from 500 feet in elevation to 4,200.  Not only do I have this altitude change, but the wind blows CONSTANTLY and the first mile out of my house has a 300 ft. elevation increase.
  2. I gave blood three weeks ago before the move.
  3. I lost my training partner and have been running alone the past three weeks.
  4. My headphone wires keep getting caught in the wind and my camelbak, resulting in me having to adjust my headphones constantly.  I may have to quit running with music.
  5. I went from a pretty sedentary job (grad research) to a vigorous job (ranching, thus lots of physical labor, and the hours are long).
  6. I've started to lift weights.
  7. I run/lift after work.
Does anyone have any suggestions about how to bust through this?   You can take a look at my log.  I have a marathon on August 1st and am trying to get in a lot of 50-70 mile weeks the next few weeks.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Rooney Rule

Disclaimer:  This post is NOT about running or wine. 

I am not a fan of the NFL's Rooney Rule.  This rule states that a team, when in the process of hiring a head coach, must interview a minority candidate.  On the surface, this may make me out to be racially insensitive, but let's take a look at it from a different angle.  

Let's say that you are the owner of the Oakland Raiders.  You haven't had a winning season since you went to the super bowl in 2003.  All of a sudden Bill Belichick, coach of the New England Patriots, becomes available.  Not only do you want him as your head coach, but he wants to coach the Raiders as well.  This dude has won 3 super bowls, so you KNOW he is qualified to be the head coach of an NFL team.  Instead of just offering him the job, you have to interview a minority candidate in order to fulfill the Rooney Rule.  I think this is degrading to the person in which you interview.  Do you keep an African-American coach on speed dial for these occasions?  I understand that there are very few African-American coaches in the NFL, however I do not think that instating a mandatory interview process will accomplish the goal that the owners think they will achieve.  I, maybe a bit naively, think that a team will hire THE BEST COACH POSSIBLE, whether he be black, white, green, or purple.  I know there is racism in the 21st century, but a team that does not hire the best head coach possible will have very little fan support.  Persons wishing to become head coaches in the NFL must pay their dues and progress at a rate that makes them stand out in the eyes of the owners.  (As a side note, I do believe there is a problem in the number of minority assistant coaches in the NFL.  I do think owners need to somehow think of solving that issue)  

Now to why I'm posting this.  The owners are about to expand the Rooney Rule to General Managers.  Thus, when hiring a new GM, teams must interview a minority candidate.  I think the same rule applies here.  I have no idea as to how many black (and let's face it, we are talking about African-Americans rather than any other minority group) GMs there are in the NFL, but I don't think a mandatory interview process is going to work.  I know there are qualified black candidates out there.  I mean if the Lions can go with Matt Millen forever, then they sure as hell can find a qualified minority candidate.  

I don't support the Rooney Rule, I don't support term limits, and I sure as hell don't support Tom Cable as the coach of the Raiders (At the powerhouse that is the University of Idaho, he obtained a record of 11-35, where he lost to Montana 4 times).  

I think there should be a Montana rule that states a team, when searching for a new QB, should have to try out at least one runner/wine drinker/rancher.

Sorry about this vent.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Sorry folks, but this is going to be a quickie.  I'm just getting tired from starting work at 7 each day and then running and sometimes lifting after work.  Not much time to decompress and let the legs recover, but I'm trying.

I went to the gym today thinking I was going to do some chest and bicep lifts, but as I was doing bench I thought that today might be a good day to do some leg stuff.  I took Saturday off, ran 9.4 on Sunday and 8.4 yesterday so I thought this may not be a great idea, however there is no time like the present to do something.  All of my lifting life I have HATED two things:  leg days and ab work.  Can't stand them.  After my last marathon, I decided that maybe doing some lower body strength training will give me that extra boost later in the race when I need it the most.  

So today I lifted before I ran.  I did some squats, Romanian dead lifts, leg curls, and leg extensions...all at 3 sets of 15 reps.  I've decided that for my strength training I'm going to keep my repetition range at 12-17, which would encourage muscle recruitment rather than pure strength training.  Curls and extensions are not a problem, however I hate squats.  Dunno why, it may be because for a three month period in high school whenever I lifted a ton of weight on squat and leg press I would get intense migraine headaches (which was due to a freak digging grave/backhoe accident).  Thus, I hate them.  I finished my three sets and washed my hands of that exercise until next week.  

Interesting things I noticed about my leg lifts today were:  minor, no thought knee injuries are brought to the forefront during leg curls, I'm not as strong as I used to be, my hammies are wussies, and again, naked old men are gross.

I ran 6+ miles after my lift (I would usually run before my lifts, but for some reason I wanted to get into the gym, I may have seen a cute girl, who knows).  The run was fine, a new route through the metropolis that is Great Falls, MT.  A few hills, lots of wind, you know, the norm for this part of the country.

Has anyone here done any lower body strength training while in the midst of a marathon?  If so, what sort of exercises/sets/reps did you do?

I'm out.  I have a few fence posts to pound tomorrow...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Apparently this is a running AND WINE Blog

I am sorry for you winos out there as I have been neglecting you as of late.  My stupid marathon seemed important, and I was out partying in Nashville, so I haven't been drinking from my cellar as of late.  If you live in Nashville or are visiting, please go out to Flyte.  They have a great wine selection, both by the bottle and glass.  Try the St. Urbans Hof Riesling on their list.  Superb.  

So tonight is the first night in awhile where I opened a bottle.  It's Friday night, and I've been busy working on the ranch this week, so I decided to open a bottle.  This past week I unloaded my cellar (81 bottles) into my parent's place.  I've tried to keep mum on how much I actually have, and it took up a lot of space in my closet.  (I live in the basement below ground level, so I think those wines will keep rather well, even in the summer).  So the wines are about 5 high stacked, so I tried to put the wines on top that I plan to drink soon.  Tonight happened to be the 2007 Domaine La Garrigue Cotes du Rhone Cuvee Romaine. 

Domaine De La Garrigue Cotes Du Rhone Cuvee Romaine 2005 from Labels at Wine Library

This was a great QPR wine at $11.99.  My decanter was a little dirty, so I just opened the bottle and let it breathe while I went on a run.  (See I can have a running and wine post!)  

On the nose this wine displays a big dust and leather component.  I love that.  Have I mentioned I LOVE earth, dirt, dust, leather?  I love that in my wine.  I'm not a big fruit fan, but if it tastes/smells like a cow, I'll probably like it.  Seriously.  Blend a cow hide and make it into a liquid, I'll rate it 90+ points.  This wine had a nice dark fruit aroma as well, with some plum and a little strawberry.

The initial attack displayed the leather and dirt component I love.  This slowly transitioned into the plum/mushroom flavor.  Awesome.  The back end had some tobacco and spice.  It was especially spicy with food, which was some pork chops along with spaghetti with a dark beef based sauce.  Great long finish with that dust and bitter component lasting awhile.  Not a bad wine for the price at all.  

I'm glad I have 3 more bottles!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Trail Running on the Range

Trail running while at home really isn't trail running.  I guess it would be more cross country running than anything.  There are cow trails to follow, but those buggers pretty much just go in a straight line to wherever it is they want to go, which is a little on the boring side.  I like to zigzag around and try to cover as much area as possible, mainly to ensure I get the milage I need for that particular day.

I've really never run on the ranch before.  I've run on the highway, but the 70 mph speed limit is a bit intimidating for the runner, especially with the narrow shoulder.  I got in late from doing some field work, had some dinner, and was off to run.  I didn't get out until 8, so I only had about 50 minutes until sundown.  I decided to run along one of our machinery roads that leads to some hay and wheat fields.  I started by running around each individual field, below the road.  This would give me some nice downhill slopes to negotiate.  It's been a pretty cold, wet (snow yesterday morning) spring thus far, so the grass hasn't grown as of yet, which makes for easy running.  I did the bottom half of the fields, and was as far away from my house as I can be, and had run about 5 miles.  Callie, our family golden retriever, was following me the entire way and she looked a little on the tired side.  Oh, that and I spotted a porcupine.  I did NOT want her to see that creature as I have had, on more than one occasion, to pull out many quills from my dog's mouth with pliers.  It's not really a fun experience.  So all in all, I did 6 miles on the ranch.  Not bad, however I do want to finish by going around the fields on the upper side of the road, but that will add a ton of elevation.  

You can check out the map/run here

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Unlike Nashville, there aren't too many things to do after work here in rural Montana.  There is the always entertaining Sip 'N Dip Lounge, which, of course, has a mermaid behind the bar and Moose Drool on tap, then there is the Peak Fitness Center.  (And no, I'm not getting paid by the endorsement)  

I ended up signing up for the next two months at the low, low rate of $25/month.  I used to lift a TON in high school, college, and early grad school.  I loved it.  I loved being in the gym, the fatigue, helping friends with spots, the views, you know, gym stuff.  I hardly ever ran.  I basically ran in order to get my HR up for lifting, and then another cool down jog, both on the treadmill.  I ran to supplement my lifting.

Things have now changed.  I don't want the body shape I had when I was lifting.  I was too muscular (is there such a thing?) and not lean enough, due to the lack of cardio.  I HATE that look, btw, of these amateur bodybuilders with muscular arms, shoulders, and legs, but also has a bit of a gut.  Not good.  I want to be both lean and muscular, and I've decided that I need to hit the weights, but not as a headliner, but the opening act.  I need the weights to supplement my running.  This, I hope, will get me my stupid PR in the marathon in 80 days.

So, today was my first day back at the gym, basically one of the few opportunities for any social interaction.  This experience today got me thinking about what I like and hate about the gym.

Love:  The adrenaline of lifting weights.  Even though I've lost a lot of strength, I always feel really good after a good lift.

Hate:  People who use dumbbells and do their sets RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE DUMBBELL RACK.  There is plenty of space to do your exercise.  I need to use the dumbbells too, idiot.  

Love:  The equipment.  No one could have a home gym like that unless they have tons of money.  Free weights, Hammer Strength equipment, cardio, spin classes, pool...

Hate:  Women who have abnormally large, fake breasts that dress a little too scandally.  Yep, you read that right, I'm not a fan.  I was doing some curls when a woman approached to do some exercises.  She was in skimpy shorts and a sports bra with huge boobs that pointed at 45 degree angles.  She then proceeded to do some sort of running in place, which just made everything go everywhere.  Definitely an attention whore.  I mean, it's like a car wreck, you know you shouldn't look, but you HAVE to.  And I did.  She didn't even have the 'best body', whatever that means.  Just go naturally, folks.  Home grown country cookin'.  

Love:  Steam rooms and saunas.  Best way to end a workout.

Hate:  NAKED, OLD MEN who sit in the steam room, saunas without towels, even though there is a large sign that says not to do that.  A guy today was sitting naked on the bench, his bare ass on the tile, but he had FLIP FLOPS ON!  He's worried about stepping on the floor of the locker room but has no qualms about his hairy, wrinkly ass and balls on the benches in the steam room?  Gross.  

Hate:  Teenagers.  Especially the ones that fool around in the weight room.  I did not do that when I was in high school.  I worked hard.  (State Football Champions, 1999)  If you and your pals want to lift and be obnoxious at the same time, do it at your school.  I'm paying for this experience, I don't need you guys being idiots.  I especially dislike those that don't know how to use the equipment.  Do it properly or don't do it at all.  

Love and Hate:  Treadmills.  I get bored by them, but in Montana they are a necessity.  I ran 5.5 miles in a 30 mph wind today and halfway through I thought I should have stayed inside.  I quickly regained consciousness and finished my run.  It would take nothing less than snow for me to run inside anymore.  

That's all I can think of right now.  I had tons more while at the gym and I should have written them down.  I will keep a running tab of what annoys me at the gym this summer.  

If any of you have any advice as to what sort of weight training to do while training for a marathon, let me know.  My plan is to lift 3 days/week, chest/biceps, triceps/back, shoulders/legs, all with low weight and high reps.  I will also be doing abs one day a week, which I have neglected for the better part of my lifting life.

Adios, Folks!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Is Craig Really, Finally, Truly, Blogging?

Well, kinda.

Sorry for the layoff, but I had a horrible marathon, followed by the death of my grandmother, then had to pack and move across the country.  It's been a busy month.

I'm in Logan, Utah, for a brief stay before I head back up north to Montana for a  bit.

Today's topic:   Easy running.

Is there such a thing?  Two months ago I could get out and run seven miles without even thinking about it.  I loved being outside, didn't even feel my leg muscles tiring.  It was great.

Now?  Not so much.  You see, I'm tired.  I'm crank.  I'm sick of running.  Yep, you heard me, I'm sick of it.  

Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to quit, I mean I already signed up for the Grizzly Marathon AND the Bourbon Chase Relay.  No, this ain't my last rodeo, Hoss.  (RIP Vern Gosdin)

There are a few things working against me right now.  

1.  Post crappy marathon blues.  F-U GO! Marathon.  May I never speak of you again.
2.  I gave blood last week.  They love the O+.  Couldn't give double due to me giving too many RBCs this past year.
3.   I was pretty much drunk the entire week last week.  Didn't help I gave blood.
4.  I'm running at a start elevation right now of 5,200 feet.  My place in Nashville was about 500.
5.  I'm running trails IN THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS.  Yesterday's run (if you can call it that) went from a start elevation of 5,144 to an elevation of 5,600 at 1.75 miles to a peak of 6,500 at 2.5 miles.  Yep, a gain of 900 feet in   3/4 of a mile.  That ain't running.  Oh yeah, I was knee deep in snow for a bit of it.

That's pretty much it for why I'm not into running much.  I do plan to get 40+ miles this week for the first time since the marathon.  We'll see how it goes.  

Just for shit's and giggles, here is a self portrait of my demise yesterday.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Weight Loss Challenge

So Amy and I have been in a weight loss challenge for the past couple of months, with the loser buying the post-marathon burgers.  Well, since we are about to start our carb loading, yesterday was the final weigh in. 

Here are my results...

Initial weigh in:  185.6 lbs
Final weigh in:  172.4 lbs 
Difference:  13.2 lbs

Glancing over at Amy's  blog, it looks as if I have come out the victor today...

Since I bought my body fat scale (8-10-08) vs. (4-13-09)

Weight:                204  -  172.4 lbs.
Body Fat %:         25.0  -  17.1 %
Body Water %:   53.1  -  58.2 %
BMR                   3698 -  3454  kCal
Metabolic age:     46  -  23  years

I'm pretty happy with that progress.  In fact, I am now below my weight on my driver's license, which I renewed back in 2002 when I turned 21.  In the future I hope to incorporate more lifting to help with the trails and to tone up a bit.  I'd like to get down to 165 lbs. or so (my high school football weight) if I want to ever try for Boston.  Now, however, is not the time to talk about that.  I'm getting my mind psyched for St. Louis on Sunday!!!!!!

Congrats to Amy on her continuing progress, but Sunday I'd like a double cheeseburger, loaded, side of fries, onion rings, and a big shake, flavor to be determined later.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Pre-Marathon Depression?

So I've less than two weeks until the St. Louis Marathon.  I believe I've put in the proper training and am in adequate shape to finish at a reasonable time.  However I'm still feeling a little blue. Why is this?  I've heard of post-marathon depression, but pre-marathon depression?  Has anyone experienced this?  I have a couple of theories as to why I'M feeling this lowness.  First, I'm leaving Nashville in a few weeks.  I've lived here for almost 9 years, and I LOVE Nashvegas, but there are certain circumstances beyond my control that have given me little option but to move back to Montana and work on the ranch for awhile.  Second, I've been having some bad allergies.  I've had hay fever all of my life, even to the point where I had to get two allergy shots a week, but everything subsided a bit when I moved to Tennessee.  The only problem I have:  the month of April.  I don't know what little stinking tree or bush or flower is pollinating (or as I like to say, having some 'special time') right now, but I wish it would do it in a month when I'm gone.  I'm on all the drugs and got my inhaler, but I've had a couple runs where I had to walk because it felt like I was about to drown.  I probably have some sort of asthma, but I don't go to doctors.  What sucks is that I'm going to hit the bad allergy month here in Nashville, and then hit the bad allergy season, for me, in Montana.  Kick me while I'm down why don't you, Mother Nature.  

So I'm a little blue :(.  Today, to perk me up, I went and ran some trails, even though I'm in a 'taper'.  It was great (except for the mucus, of course); the sun was shining, the squirrels were canoodling, the chipmunks were doing their hilarious antics (or is that Alvin and the Chipmunks?), and the trails were pretty dry.  Great day for running.  

So that helped.  What else can I do?  I'm very much looking forward to my STL trip next Friday, but until then I'm blue...

But the MASTERS is this weekend, so I'm happy about that.  I'm rooting for my Vandy boy, Brandt Snedeker, and the Shark, Greg Norman.

I hope Sergio Garcia misses the cut.  Ug....

So any help with my depression???????

Monday, March 30, 2009

Hammer Gels and Other Products

I emailed the directors of the GO! St. Louis Marathon last week to question them about what kind of performance enhancing drugs they will be giving out at the aid stations.  Ok, maybe not the same kind of performance enhancing drugs that Barry Bonds did NOT use during his stint with the San Francisco Giants (I'm not sure about his Pirates days), but the electrolyte gel/bean replacement product.  I needed to know if there was a chance my normal GU would be the favored product, and, of course, it was not.  They replied to me that they would be using Hammer Gel on the course.  I was very happy that it would be a gel and not those darned 'beans' that I could choke on, but was disappointed in that it would not be the GU that I'm oh so used to.  Frankly, I had never heard of Hammer nutrition and their beloved gels.  I wanted to get out and try them as I did not want to have to carry my own gels out on the course.  I figure the less I have to carry, the faster I will be.  Thus, I decided to buy some of their gels online, as it costs me less to have stuff shipped than to drive my truck around town.  

I ordered a 12 pack of their banana (I hope it doesn't ruin bananas for me) flavored gels.  One day later I got a phone call from Hammer telling me that they included a whole bunch of other items of theirs for me to sample.  When I filtered this call, I see that the area code was 406.  Yeah, I'm sure you've never taken a call from the 406 area code, but I have.  I have taken thousands of calls from this area code.  This area code is used for the state of Montana.  Yes, Hammer Nutrition is based out of Whitefish, MT.  I'm in love with this company already.  

Here is what they sent me:  

Hammer Gel Banana (12x1 Srv)
Hammer Gel Orange (1 Srv)
Hammer Gel Raspberry (1 Srv)
Hammer Gel Vanilla (1 Srv)
HEED Strawberry (1 Srv)
Perpetuem Orange-Vanilla (1 Srv)
Recoverite Citrus (1 Srv)
Hammer Bar Coconut Cashew
Endurolyte Samples (4 Cap)
Whey Chai (1 Srv) 1 0 1
New Customer Packet - MAG/PUM
Product Usage Manual - Red
Book - Endurance Athlete's Guide
Whey Unflavored (1 Smp)

I only ordered the first item.  They gave me a lot of stuff.  

So, I got the box today.  Why don't you and I sit on the couch, open it up, and see what kind of initial impression they will make on me.  Hang tight...

First I see that I have a magnet with my client number and ways for me to re-order.  Let's not get ahead of ourselves, Hammer.  

Endurance News, March 2009 issue.  Just flipping through it, it seems it's quite nerdy for the endurance athlete.  Me likey.  

The Endurance Athlete's Guide to Success-8th Edition.  Eh, a mini book telling me how I need to replenish electrolytes and such.  Basically an exaggerated advertisement.  Good bathroom reading.  

Hammer Nutrition Product Usage Manual.  I actually like this.  No more squinting to read labels (if I were my Dad, I have perfect vision.  No squinting here).  I will read it.  

Actual Products:

Banana Hammer Gel box.  Big and yellow with a slight dent.   
Comparing to my GU vanilla:

Serving Size:  G-32 grams   HG-36 grams
Calories:  G-100  HG-90
Sodium: G-55 mg   HG-30 mg   (This concerns me a bit.  Advantage GU)
Potassium: G-55 mg  HG-doesn't say 
Total Carbs:  G-25 g  HG-23 g
Sugars:  G-5 g   HG- 2g

All in all, I think GU would act as a better electrolyte replacement option.  Damn.

The rest of the stuff I may try, like the Recoverite after my 20 miler this weekend.  They all look interesting, but I don't think I'd spend any money on it.  Since I haven't used it in my training, I won't use any of it (except the gel) for the marathon.  I just hope that the gel works during my 20 miler this weekend...

Friday, March 27, 2009

First Trail Run

So I wanted to start some trail running since I've been getting pretty bored with running the streets of Nashville.  Well, I figured the first step would be shoes.  I asked some questions around the Running Ahead community and settled on the Adidas Adistar Revolt.  The reviews I received on these particular pair of shoes said they are good for all types of terrain, from rocks and tree roots to flat trails.  Of course, I would do minimal amounts of running on asphalt with these shoes.  

I check ALL over nashville and could not find a store that carried this shoe, and was pretty disappointed in the overall trail shoe selection.  I went on the good ol' internet and purchased them online, which is always a trail since I don't know how their sizing is going to work, although all of the reviews said they were true to size.

Fast forward to this morning when I take them out of the box.  They are an impressive pair of shoes, I think the coolest looking I've ever owned.  I love the pewter/red/yellow color.  They fit PERFECTLY, which was a very good relief.  I had decided I would go down to Leiper's Fork, TN, where the Natchez Trace trailhead is located.  If you have never driven part of the Natchez Trace, I would highly suggest you try it out.  Beautiful.  

So the weather said that rain would move in about 9 am, so I wanted to get there and finish before the rain came.  Well, when my alarm went off I wanted/needed some more sleep.  Whoops.  I got to the trailhead EXACTLY when the rain started.  ouch.  So for my first trail run I sloshed around in the mud and the rocks and the rain.  I LOVED it.  I didn't like the wet feet and the mud, but I can't wait until I can do some training when it isn't wet out.  I didn't do too much running because I have a 5k tomorrow, but it was enough to get a taste.  

I just opened another door.  Probably one I won't ever be able to close.  Uh oh.  

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Things That Will Ruin an Otherwise Nice Run

I was having a nice run through Percy Warner Park today when I began thinking what can ruin a perfectly good run.   Most (if not all) are from personal experience.

  • Inconsiderate Drivers
  • Hangovers
  • Not eating/drinking enough before running
  • Eating/drinking too much before running
  • Bad songs on your ipod
  • Getting pooped on by bird/squirrel  (you know who you are, I WILL get you)
  • Cramps
  • IT band issues
  • Knee/back/stomach/leg/foot/arm/pinkie/eyelid/head/toe pains
  • Cold wind when you didn't wear enough clothes, especially in certain areas...my college friends and I called it FPS, or Frozen Penis Syndrome
  • Prince's Fried Chicken, a Nashville tradition in what the call Hot Chicken.  I had some for the first time yesterday.  Big mistake.  Luckily there is a golf course pro shop halfway through my run.  Interestingly, my Garmin never lost satellite signal while I was in there.  Hmmm...
  • Bicyclists
  • Guys running with their shirts off when they have no business running with their shirt off
  • Counting the miles until you are finished
  • Rain/Lightning
That's all I can think of at the moment, but I'm sure there are more.  Feel free to comment anything that my ruin YOUR run.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I have a conundrum.  I like races.  I would think that everyone like races.  I mean it's great to actually run with a group of people instead of that little guy in your head when you head out alone each morning (unless you have a cool running partner like I do!).  Races are great because of the camaraderie between runners you haven't even met!  We all get together because we have the same problems: IT band, runner's knee, back problems, stomach issues, traffic, time constraints, weight loss, plantar fasciitis, running routes...

But we all experiences these issues, and we thus have a large network of people to give us encouragement.  Running is NOT an individual sport.  Running is probably the largest group sport in the world.  The Country Music Marathon will have close to 40,000 individuals running as one, from the elites to the walkers.  We're all the same.

Yes, I love races.  I have a rather important 26.2 mile race on April 19th.  The question is, do I run a 10k the weekend BEFORE the marathon?  Back in 2006 (was it that long ago?), I did run a 10k the weekend before, however I didn't have the knowledge I have know, and definitely did not have the base milage.  This particular 10k is flat, which would be an incredible chance to get a PR, something like 43 minutes or so.  The two things I'm worried about are fatigue and injury.  Fatigue I'm not worried about TOO much, because I'll be tapering already and will have a fairly easy week working up to the marathon.  Thus, injury is my largest concern.  I've not experienced an injury during a race to this point, but there is always a chance.  I would hate for 20 weeks of preparation go down the drain the week before a marathon.

What do I do?  What do I do?

Adios...I'm upset I have to watch the President again.  I mean, jeez, how much face time does he need?  I guess when you are trying to get over $3.6 TRILLION budget passed, you have to sell it...

My unborn children need a stimulus package.

(sorry about the political rant, but I just saw that Obama is having an hourlong 'speech' tonight)

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Welcome to my favorite day of the year!  I LOVE March Madness.  I love rooting for the little guys, the David's, the Santa Claras (look it up, first 15 seed to win over a 2 seed, oh, and they had Steve Nash and an ugly haircut), the Weber State's, the cheerleaders, oh, and illegal gambling.  Today I will be going on a trail run and then heading to Buffalo Wild Wings for 12+ hours of basketball watching.  I may get a protein coma, but I will have a smile on my face.

So, in full disclosure, here is my final four:

North Carolina

I heard on ESPN that this is actually the most common final four combination.  I have Pitt over Memphis in the championship game.  No real upsets in my pool.  

Do you love this time of year?  My favorite thing about it is Kentucky is NO WHERE to be seen.  Love it.

Oh, and Amy has Gonzaga in the final four.   Go over to her blog and laugh at her.  

Monday, March 16, 2009

Half Marathon Recap

Last Saturday was the annual Tom King Classic here in Nashvegas.  I did not run last year (my fat/lazy period), but I have heard harrowing stories of the cold/rain/lightning from those that did.  Two weekends ago, the Nashville Striders had their first 21 mile training run, and plenty of those that ran were a little cautious to talk about the weather for this year's King Classic.  

Well, I'm here to tell you that it rained.  I wasn't a hard rain, but rain nonetheless.  I woke up about 3 hours before the race to the sound of water draining down the side of my building, a good indication of what was about to happen.  I rose from my slumber and headed to the kitchen looking for some good pre-half food, and being the bachelor that I am, didn't have much to choose from.  I decided to eat a whole grapefruit topped with some sugar.  (Sidenote:  I just purchased fruit from whole foods last week.  They have a GREAT Chilean fruit selection right now.  The oranges, plums, and grapefruits were awesome).  I finished all of my pre-race activities while waiting for Amy to pick me up, and I was torn in what to wear.  The weather said rain with temps in the low 40's, perfect running weather if it wasn't for the rain.  I was going to wear simple shorts and short sleeve shirt, but at the last second I decided to bring my longsleeve running shirt as well.  I pinned my number to my shorts, put on my San Francisco Giants batting helmet (works GREAT in the rain, doesn't get my head wet) and away we went.  We got to the race about 30 minutes early, so we sat in the warm for a bit.  I goo'ed up, we went inside LP field (where the Tennessee Titans play) and waited a bit more under the concrete overhang.  We finally were able to talk to Stangluvr for a few minutes before heading to the start line.  Now here we are, huddled amidst about 1000 people waiting, and I did not hear them play the national anthem, give announcements, or anything.  Just BOOM from the horn/gun or whatever started the race.  I was a bit back in the pack, which made the first mile or so a little crazy with all the dodging and passing people.  I didn't really know what I wanted to do as far as a time goal was concerned.  I had run a half a month ago in 1:40:40 on a hilly course, so I figured 1:38 wasn't out of the question.  This sets up for a 7:28 pace.  I ran the first mile at 7:40, which was according to plan.  I wanted to start out easy and ramp it up as the race went on.  I paid special attention to making sure my feet were dry when I started the race, but about a mile in...SPLASH...puddle city.  I cursed out loud (sorry) went ahead with a wet right foot looking for another puddle to get ol' lefty wet too.  He didn't want to miss the party either, right?  Next mile:  7:16.  Little fast for my liking.  Now, I didn't wear my new Garmin (oh, btw, I bought a Garmin 305.  I bought it during my little blogging hiatus) so I didn't really know what my pace was until the end of the current mile, but I ran into a fellow Nashville Strider who I had met on the forum.  He was running at 7:30 pace which he carefully kept with since he WAS wearing his Garmin.  I latched on to him for a couple of miles to even out my pace.

The race course is interesting.  It's VERY flat, which is nice, but miles 3-10 are run on a greenway along the Cumberland River.  This greenway has an asphalt trail that is about 8 feet wide.  That's it...oh, and it's an out and back, so you have to pass people coming the other way.  Very hard to pass people and you want to wring people's necks who are running 2 abreast.  UG!  The cool thing was I got to see everyone who was running the race, from the elites to Amy, who attempted a high five with me as we passed each other.  She's blaming me for high five 'failure'.  Sorry, no refunds on high fives.  

So the race was going well, I was banking 7:20-7:25 splits.  I felt good, and was even chatting it up with a few fellow runners, which is ALWAYS a good sign.  I latched onto another runner at about mile 9.  He was doing 7:20 splits, so I just kept on his six.  

The cool thing about this race is that you finish on the field at LP field, ON THE JUMBOTRON.  It sucks that I can't pose for the camera and look at the screen at the same time, but I thought I gave a good pose.   Also, the Titans cheerleaders are there to put the finisher's medal around your neck.  I wanted to ask if she could keep me warm, but I kept my juvenile comments to myself, begrudgingly.  Oh, and I finished in 1:36:06, almost two full minutes ahead of my goal!  

Once Amy finished we headed back to the warm car, where I swapped my wet shirt for a dry one.  There is where I first realized a mistake I had made:  I had bloody nipples.  I had run in this shirt many times w/o getting chaffed, but the combination of rain and running did them in.  It'll be awhile before they get to 100%.

Oh, I then drank lots of Guinness, the world's largest black and tan, and about 6 Irish Car Bombs.  

It was a great post-race celebration...oh, and a good St. Patrick's Day party hosted by Amy, I suppose...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

New Half Marathon PR!

I ran a 1:36:06 this morning in rain/puddles!  New PR by over 4:30.  Details to follow Monday!

Off to Amy's St. Patrick's Day Party!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mid-Marathon Report Card

My marathon training hit it's midpoint a couple of weeks ago, culminating in my first 20+ mile training run.  I thought it would be a good idea to give myself some grades on parts of my training up to this point.  I had a few goals while using Hal Hidgon's advanced-I training guide:

  • Weigh 175 pounds on marathon morning
Grade:  A.  I started this training (roughly) in mid-December.  I weighed 189.2 on December 14th.  As of March 8th, I weigh 179.2.  10 lb loss without changing much of my diet.  I believe in order to make my weight, I will need to change up my diet just a tad.  The alcohol consumption will be taken out completely after this Saturday.

  • Do not skip any workouts
Grade:  B+.  It is tough to define what I skipped as there are some days that you may have 3 miles scheduled, but you need the day off.  Your legs and head both tell you that the muscles need some repair time.  I believe I only skipped out on Amy once and, if I recall, it was because I had IT-band issues.  The weather has been cold thus far in the training, but that has not deterred me.  I could improve with incorporating some weight-training.

  • Incorporate Speed/Hill workouts
Grade: B.  Hal's guide calls for speed/hill work once a week.  I've done pretty well with the speed work as I'm up to 7 yasso's on the track, however the scheduled hill work hasn't been completely adopted.  I run at Percy Warner Park that has incredible hills, but I don't measure off a quarter mile of hill and sprint up and down a half dozen times.  I just run the 11.2 and do the hills that way.  Eh.  I need to work on pace runs and some tempo runs.  

  • Diet
Grade:  D.  My diet has barely changed.  My portions decreased a bit, and I'm going out to eat less, but I'm still eating things I shouldn't.  I don't eat fast food anymore but I started drinking 2% instead of skim (I'll thank my mom for that).  I have stepped up the carb loading for long runs and races, but it hurts that I can't eat meat on Fridays and runs are on the weekends.  I like some protein with my carbs.  I hope to improve this the most.  

  • Enjoyment
Grade: A+.  It's nice to have a running partner and it's fun to run in groups for the long runs.  My first go around with this marathon business I had neither.  It's great this time around.  I'm looking forward to races and long runs, and even don't mind getting up at 5 for them OR skipping my Friday night debauchery.  

So there you have it.  I need to improve some aspects, but as I told Amy after our run last weekend, I'm very happy with my training.  My normal, without-thinking pace I run while I'm alone is roughly 8:40, which is a vast improvement over last year.  My heart-rate is down to about 143 while doing those miles.  I feel good. 


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Recent Wine Purchases

So in an effort of full disclosure, I suppose I should let everyone know what this poor grad student has been spending his money on.  Lent has arrived and being the good Catholic I am, I have decided to give up a few things.  The idea is to give up something that will be very difficult, thus I have given up wine purchases for the next 40 days.  But, of course, Wine Library had a decent sale/free shipping offer yesterday...yep, I bit.  I mean, if I can't buy wine for awhile, I need to stock up, right?  I also bought a couple bottles at a LWS last friday.  Here we go!

2 x  '06 Cova Dels Vins Ombra (Grenache, Cab, Carinena)
1 x ' 06 Cantina Dolianova Cannonau Di Sardegna Anzenas (100% Grenache)
2 x '06 Vallee De Valeur (Bordeaux)
1 x '04 Leeuwin Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon (Austrailian)
1 x '03 Nicholas Cole Cellars Camille (Washington Red Meritage)
1 x '05 Chateau Haut Brisson La Reserve (St. Emilion  Bordeaux)
1 x '05 Chateau La Galante (Bordeaux- 65% Merlot, 30% Cab, 5% Cab Franc)
3 x '04 Monteviejo Festivo (Argentina Malbec)
1 x 2005 Petit Chapeau Côtes du Rhône
1 x 2002 Rotllan Torra Priorat Reserva (Grenache Blend)
1 x 2005 Domaine de la Serre Vin de Pays des Côtes Catalanes Cailloux Vieilles Vignes (Grenache Blend)

As you can see from above, I'm getting fairly into Malbecs and Grenaches.  I've been loving the leather, dirty, earthy, poopy aromas and tastes lately.  Dunno, maybe it's from growing up on a ranch.  

What do you guys think?  

Monday, February 23, 2009

I Cheated

I'm going to come out and say it...I cheated on my running partner.  Yep, I ran with others and didn't consult her about it.  Do I feel bad?  Yeah, a little.  Do I feel a little guilty for not asking her to come?  Maybe.  Did I have a good run without her?  Not too bad, except for my IT band (again.).  Was I upfront with her about it afterwards?  Yes.  Did she have any idea I cheated on her?  She says yes, but I don't know how she would have known.  Was she upset?  I dunno, we only texted, hard to get a feel about one's feelings through text.  

I guess the backstory is in order.  Amy and I headed out with all of our fellow Nashville Striders on our 18 mile training run on Saturday.  The run started at LP field, went downtown, and went along the final 16 miles of the Country Music Marathon route.  Now, I had never run the full CMM, so this was pretty new to me.  Amy, however, had run it and told me it was a pretty boring run, scenery wise.  Boy, was she right.  I don't know how marathoners running that race could keep themselves motivated.  Anyway, we finally met Strangluvr along the way (BTW, sorry we didn't chat) and we ran with another nice Striders newbie.  It's always nice to meet new people when running.  I've found it kinda hard to get into the clique of certain runners, so it's nice to meet other newbies.  About 14 miles in, my IT band was starting to kill me, but I kept at it.  Other than my knee, I felt great.  It was very nice out, although a little windy towards the end.  At mile 15 or so, another runner ran with us for a mile or so and told us that he and another training group had runs on Sunday morning and invited us out at 9 am the next day.  I had planned to run a bit on Sunday, but I really wanted to sleep in and run in the afternoon.  I told him thanks and he went on ahead (thanks to Amy, who had some sort of issues, I'm sure she'll talk about those in her blog).  I left Amy at the water station at and did a couple miles by my lonesome (first sign of a troubled running relationship, I say).  She leapt back on the road and we hobbled to the car.  18 miles at a 9:05 pace.  I was pretty happy with it except for my IT band.

Fast forward to Sunday morning.  I had gotten to bed about midnight with hopes to sleep in a bit.  I was EXHAUSTED and didn't feel all that well.  I woke up at 7 am and tossed and turned for an hour or so.  At 8 I decided it wasn't worth the effort, so I got up and started to stumble about.  I checked my knee...it was OK.  I figured I could run 5 if I needed to.  Then I remembered the invite to a training run out at Percy Warner Park.  Well, I might as well run and get it over with, I told myself.  So, without any consultation with my running partner, I headed on out to PWP.  When I got there, I saw a few people warming up, but I decided to stay in my truck until a few minutes before start-time as it was 19 degrees according to my truck.  I got out at 8:55, asked if this was the running group and waited around a bit.  I found the guy that invited me and he introduced me to the leader of the pack, who seemed like a nice guy.  He then told me that they usually start about 10 minutes late!  Jeez, I had no long spandex on and it's 20 degrees!  But, it gave me a chance to meet a couple of the regulars and chat with them about the group.  Right before the run, I met another group newbie, who I ended up running with.  The group had three divisions: novice, intermediate, and advanced.  The run-wrecker and I decided to go with the intermediates, because I had never run trails, and I didn't know how my IT band was going to take the hills.  We ran a comfortable 9 minute/mile pace for the 5.8 mile loop in the park.  The intermediates were then supposed to run another 4ish miles, but my IT band had had enough, so I left the run-wrecker to finish the run without me.  

Well, Amy, I hope you aren't too upset with me.  It will not happen again (until maybe next Sunday)...

Peace out, homies.  

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Wine Philosophy

Got this from a wine forum...


When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the lecture on “The mayonnaise jar and the 2 glasses of wine”.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous 'yes.'

The professor then produced two glasses of wine from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

'Now,' said the professor as the laughter subsided, 'I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.

The golf balls are the important things---your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions---and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car. The sand is everything else---the small stuff. 'If you put the sand into the jar first,' he continued, 'there is no room for the pebbles or the golf
balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

Spend time with your children.
Spend time with your parents.
Visit with grandparents.
Take time to get medical checkups.
Take your spouse out to dinner.
Play another 18.

There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first---the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the wine represented. The professor smiled and said, 'I'm glad you asked.' The wine just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple glasses of wine with a friend.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cedars Lebanon Frostbite Half-Marathon Report...Sober...

I'm sure some have read Amy's 'report' of the Frostbite Half.  Well, we were in that condition because we both PR'd and had to have a little celebration.  Oh, and I was drowning my sorrows at the sorry effort Vandy put forth against those orange dudes from the east.  Ug.

The plan for this half was to just run nice and easy, getting used to race conditions, and have a nice plan for my pre-race routine.  Now, I'm a huge Seinfeld fan, and I'm sure that some of you may remember when Elaine had a world-class marathoner stay with her before the NY Marathon.  If you can recall, this particular marathoner slept through his Olympic run because of the volume on his alarm clock.  Later in the episode he again almost sleeps through the alarm because Kramer fell asleep in his hottub (that ran out of heat) and his internal alarm clock didn't work.  ANYWAY, on this particular day, I thought I had set my alarm for an hour earlier than I actually did.  Luckily I woke up about 15 minutes before I was supposed to pick Amy up, so I didn't get to do any of my 'pre-race' routine, like find a healthy banana that wasn't as black as the one in my fridge.

So here I was, breakfast cut short, running around like a chicken with it's head cut off, and a little late to pick Amy up.  Luckily we had planned to get there rather early, so we had plenty of time to park and pick up our shirts.  FYI, congrats to the TN State Park Running coordinators for putting together great shirts.  For 18 bucks, you get to run and get a decent Tech-T.  They kinda resemble the home jerseys of the female basketball team of the east tennessee variety, but good other than that.

I had hoped to finish the race in a comfortable 8:00-8:10 pace.  I didn't want to push it or get injured because I have another chance to PR on a flatter course in a month.  Over 300 runners gathered at the starting line on a fairly nice day (partly cloudy, wind at about 10 mph).  The start was a little cozy as we all darted out, the first mile was my slowest as I ran an 8:25.  I wasn't unhappy because my plan was to start off slow and work off some time as I went.  Now for the next 1.5 miles, we ran on the side of a rather busy road.  This left about 10 feet of road to work with.  I had started a little back in the pack with respect to my predicted finish time, so I had to bob and weave around some runners at this point.  Probably not the safest thing to do.  After mile 2 I look at my watch and see I ran it at 7:22...uh, wow, a little fast.  It was a downhill section, but jeez.  I felt good though, so I'd take another mile and do a systems check.  Next mile: 7:45.  Alright, it seems like I can't go as slow as I want (this happens during training runs to), so I guess since I feel good and don't think I'm pushing it, I'll keep this pace.

So, that was the plan.  It worked out well as I posted splits from 7:30-7:50 the rest of the way.  I did run into a little trouble a bit after mile 7 when a runner 10 yards ahead of me decided he needed to 'blow off a little air' if you catch my drift.  I yelled up to him 'Whattya doing, stepping on a duck?'  He said something I couldn't hear, but I thought he could have given me a warning or something.

So, all in all, a good race.  Finished in 1:40.40 with no injuries and feeling great.  Took Sunday off with a rather painful headache, and ran 9 today.  Today's nine miles were probably the best 9 I've ran all season.  8:33 splits.  I need to learn how to run more slowly.  Felt great.

Have a great week!!!!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Craig has had a few...

See Amy's post...  I was a co-writer...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Well, it has been awhile since I've posted anything, but it has been busy on this front!  

First things first...SHARKS WIN biggest game of the season in the NHL.  They were losing 2-1 going into the third period at Boston. I was a little frustrated at how we (yes, WE) had been playing so I took off my newly purchased jersey.  Well, that must have worked because we scored 4 unanswered goals for a final tally of 5-2.  This was the first loss in regulation for the Bruins when they had been ahead going into the third.  I'm telling you, this is the season.  They will not let us fans down in the playoffs.  The Western Conference Final is going to be a great series if it's Sharks-Red Wings...

Nabokov's awesome save in the 2nd!  

Last week I decided I needed to figure out my knee problem.  I figured the best place to look would be the shoes.  I have 200 miles on my current Nike Vomero2 pairs, so I took a nice little trip south to Franklin, TN to Fleet Feet.  I had never had my gait analyzed and I thought it would be a good idea to have that done.  Now, I hate going to stores.  I'm the kind of person that does all of my research beforehand and only goes to the store to pick the unit and pay for it.  I hate salespeople and I hate asking questions.  However, this time I had no idea what I was looking for because I had no idea about my gait.  I figured I was a neutral striker, but Amy suggested that maybe I was doing a little over-pronation with my knee problems.  

I talked to the salesperson and told her about my knee problems.  I brought my current running shoes and wore running socks (like you should when you buy new running shoes).  She could not tell from the wear on my current shoes, but she wanted me to run a bit to determine my gait.  Well, we did all of this, including running on a treadmill with a video of my foot strikes.  Lo and behold:  minor over-pronation.  *sigh* Amy was right.  

Now, I've been a Nike person since I have been running.  I have the Nike+ ipod setup and such, but I told her I absolutely have no loyalties to Nike.  I don't care what my running shoes say as long as they aren't UT orange.  She showed me the Saucony Guide's and another pair of Nikes.  I ran in the Saucony first and felt very comfortable in them.  They are a good stability shoe with over-pronation correction.  Much sturdier and less giving than my current Vomeros.  I then tried the Nikes, and by the time I walked to the door to go job in them I already knew I hated them.  They made contact with the top of my feet when I pushed off.  Ug...

So, I ended up buying the Sauconys.  I asked if she had another pair that may be in another color.  I like to have two pair so I can rotate and such, and another color so I could tell them apart.  She looked and only had the one pair in my size.  Ug.  She then told me that she was getting the 2nd generation of the Guides in in a couple of weeks.  She said that the only changes were purely cosmetic.  Well, I bought the shoes for $90; quite a steal I though when my Nikes were $125.  The only problem was that this particular store does not take the Nashville Striders discount.  Oh well.  

I then got into my truck and thought that maybe another store that does take the discount may have another pair in my size.  I went to Athlete's House and their display model for my shoes were the same color.  I asked if they had another pair in a different color, but he said no, but he DID have the Guide 2!  I tried them on and liked them, so I bought them as well.  They are cosmetically different, but the same colors.  I then bought red shoe laces to tell them apart without having to look at them for more than a second.  One problem: Now the Guide 2 pair with the red shoe laces look like a pair that an Ole Miss fan would wear.  Stupid SEC schools (other than Vandy, of course).

My new shoes!  Guide 2 on top.

Stupid Ole Miss colors.  Why can't shoe companies make Black/Gold or Maroon/Silver shoes?

Oh, and when I got home I looked to see what other colors these models come in...yeah, they come in ORANGE.  Stupid UT.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Sad Day

I have finally come to a stark realization.  I know that I'm going to have trouble with what I'm about to say, but I think it's time that it happens.  This won't only affect me, but it will also affect all of my karaoke fans.  

So here it is:  I've decided to quit drinking beer/hard liquor until the marathon is over.  Oh, wow, I can hear the gasps from here.  Not true, you say?  Yep.  No more Guinness, no more single malts, no more IPA's.  I'm going cold turkey.  Now, I will have the occasional glass of wine, mainly because I need to trim some inventory before a big purchase in April, oh, and it's apparently good for you.  

This is not an unprecedented move; my last marathon I went cold turkey on all alcohol for the month prior to the marathon.  Of course, I was 24 years old then and a little more rambunctious, as were my friends.  I remember one of them telling me that I was 'no fun' anymore.  I thought that was a really funny thing to say.  I mean, jeez, thanks for the support.  Well, all of those friends are married, with kids, or have moved away, so I think this venture will be a little easier.  I have no trips planned, no college friends coming into town, and no friend's birthdays that require two tequila shots.  Just me and my will.  Plus it's a TON easier to run those long weekend runs without a hangover.  

I am doing this as a preliminary step to lose another 12 or so pounds before the marathon.  I've lost 20 so far, but would feel a lot better if I get down to a decent fighting weight.  I have a little more than 10 weeks before the race, so I figure I can lose a pound a week.  I'll be happy with that.  Next I look to eat a little healthier, you know with vegetables and fruits and stuff.  

So if you see me out in the greater Nashville area, say hi and buy me a water.  Or a Rioja...maybe just the water...

Monday, February 2, 2009

Ice Packs, Knees, and Frozen Peas

Last week was a rough week for me, as I continued to be nagged by my knees.  Just when I think I have reigned in my IT-band issues, I get some tightness and discomfort in my left knee.  This inconvenience (not a pain yet) is located on the inside of my knee a little below the knee cap.  I haven't seen much information about pains in this location, but my 0 days of Med school tell me that it's just tightness.  It is a nuisance for the first mile or so of a run, but it subsides to a point where I don't really notice.

So last week I took a total of 3 days off, which really bugs me since I have to get my mileage up for this marathon I have already paid for. 

Friday's run was a sprint interval workout with Amy.  A lot of people don't like these workouts, and some neglect them, but I kinda like doing some sprinting.  It takes a lot of monotony out of the workout.  Amy and I run the 2 miles to the Vandy track, do the 800 Yasso repeasts, and then run the 2 miles back.  It makes for a good opportunity to get a good warmup and cool down period.  The Yasso repeats are designed so that you run each 800 at a pace predetermined by your expected marathon finish time.  You take your predicted marathon time and just switch the hours to minutes and minutes to seconds.  For example, if you hope to run a 4 hour marathon, you should be able to do each 800 repeat in 4 minutes.  I really haven't decided what time I expect in my marathon (I did put down 3:40 on the entry form), but I've tried to do my Yasso's in 3:30.  I was excited that even after my knee problems, I was able to do my 5 repeats in 3:27, 3:30, 3:31, 3:31,3:35.  I held out a little bit on the last couple and I think I could have done one or two more if my schedule told me I needed to. 

Saturday was an 8 mile run at marathon pace.  Again, I haven't really decided what that exactly is, but I finished the run with 7:55 splits.  Probably a little too fast, but the last mile is downhill, which I had a 7:30 split.  

Sunday was the famed 11.2 mile loop in Percy Warner Park here in Nashville.  I really wanted to run this loop because I'm trying to plan out my running schedule for the remainder of 2009.  I am very interested in doing the Flying Monkey Marathon in late November so I wanted to make sure I could actually finish this extremely difficult course.  We ran it at a pretty steady 9:25 pace, which i was happy with especially since there is a 1500 foot climb throughout the route.  Amy has her own insights into this run on her post today.  

I'm still a little sad they didn't review the last Cardinals play in the Super Bowl, but I doubt it would have been overturned anyway.  My chili was extraordinary, however.

Favorite commercial:  either the career builder commercial where they punched small animals (I believe it was a Koala with glasses and a cup of coffee) OR the E*trade commercial with the talking baby and the skins beatdown.  HA HA.  Shankapotumus.  

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Riesling? You Talking About Riesling? Riesling?

Wednesday nights for me are pretty much set.  A local restaurant has a wine 'class' each Wednesday where everyone tastes 5 different wines from the same varietal.  I guess they do this to get everyone to eat at the restaurant afterwards, which we are reminded of every 5 minutes.  Each week the class displays a different varietal, which happened to be riesling this past Wednesday.  Up to this week, all the wines tasted had been pretty disappointing.  The sauvignon blancs were bland and I'm not fond of chardonnay.  I had high hopes for the riesling.  I figured we'd see two from California, one from Washington, one from Germany, and one from Alsace.  I wasn't expecting anything too great as usually the high retail value of the wines is $20 (not that price is an indicator of quality, but Nashville doesn't get the highest quality of wines, even in the $20 value).  

The first wine had a nice citrus aroma, but was very one dimensional on the palate.  I sensed a little chalk with a very little finish.  This was a medium-dry riesling, definitely not over the tope sweetness.  On a second taste after I had tasted the other wines, I actually bumped it up a couple of points when I got a little cherry sweet-tart action.  I still didn't like it enough to buy it.  The wine turned out to be Jed Steele's Shooting Star Riesling.  Eh...  13/20.

Second wine was, for my palette, not good at all.  Ug.  This wine had aromas of wet rock, petrol, and moss.  I know moss because my parents have mossy rock in their house, which if you spray with water, is the best smell EVER.  Taste was a little better than awful.  It was confusing, with little fruit components.  This was a dry wine with a very bitter finish.  Not good.  Wolf Blass Riesling from Austrailia.  Ug... 11/20.

The third wine was very getting better.  I had some green apple on the nose, with some more citrusy fruit, mainly grapefruit, on the nose finish.  This wine was dry with the same citrus flavors on the palate.  This wine would be great with some food as it was very acidic.  Not a bad effort.  Not my favorite, but up there.  Pacific Rim Dry Riesling.  

The fourth wine was my favorite of the night.  The initial aromas had some orange peel with some more grapfruit and peach.  I love me some peach action.  Favorite fruit of all time.  This was the sweetest wine of the night.  I just had lunch with a friend who put down the riesling varietal because they are 'too sweet'.  I had to explain that the riesling varietal is one of the most versatile grapes out there because it can be very dry or can have some residual sugar and be very sweet.  Well, I must have had a sweet tooth, because I was in like with this wine.  Not love, but like.  I guess it would be a 7th grade girlfriend.  16.5/10.  Rhein River Riesling from Germany.

The last wine was my favorite dry riesling of the night.  Citrusy fruit on the nose with some chalk action.  I found some kiwi and grapefruit aromas, which I like.  A little old world, so a little tough to get anything on the nose.  Palate showed some nice peach flavors, with a medium-dry mouthfeel.  Pretty nice.  A little oily, but not bad.  16/20.  Hugel Riesling from Alsace.

Overall, these wines weren't that bad, with the exception of the Wolf Blass.  Not a big fan of that one, sorry.  I will try to get some rieslings in my cellar as I have exactly zero.

Next week is 'alternative' whites.  He promised me an albarino.  I'd better get it. 

Oh, and Vandy lost to South Carolina.  I could hear Amy celebrating from 4 blocks away.

The Raiders took the interim tag off of Tom Cable.  As coach of U. of Idaho he went 0-3 against Montana.  Just sayin' he might not be the best hire.