Snow day thoughts.

Hell no, I'm not going outside. Not even to drive to the YMCA (which might be closed anyway).

I'll do at least one 1-minute plank in front of the TV. I might also lift the 15 lb. dumbbells a little bit.

And I'm going to drink at least one beer. And eat some sweets.


Lowering expectations.

I used to be a snob about those races that offer one distance and one or more easier distances. No more.

At age 56, I think I'd like to get in good enough shape to break my PR in the 5K (which I set five years ago) as more of a measure of success. Plus, I'm a lot likelier to enjoy a 5K if my first mile is crap. Have a bad first mile in a marathon, you've got a long damn day ahead of you.

Also, even in those days leading up to a race, I'm a lot less to be stressed out about undertraining for a 5K. Pretty much anyone, even the overweight and the aging, can finish a 5K and not have it ruin the day.

Having said that, I just signed up for the 5K portion of the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K. Significantly cheaper for the 5K, same swag.


Tentative 2018 Race Calendar, through June.

This year I'm getting smart: Rarely will I pre-register just so I can get those great early-bird prices. Too many times in recent years (OK, including this past year) I've had to punt on races because family obligations, travels, or other things came up. Also, I have one more child in college that we hope to visit, and I am on a nonprofit board that meets out of town quarterly. But here are a few I'm tentatively planning on. For now, here are the ones I'd like to do:

1/15: 5K4MLK: An urban run through East Nashville. I actually ran this one last year for the first time. Enjoyable run that's a sizable but not uncomfortably massive field of runners.

2/17: Hot Chocolate 15K: Fairly expensive, but great swag (pullover, medal, lots of chocolate to consume at the finish). Ran this two years ago and nearly froze my--well, let's just say it was dang cold.

2/24: Fangtastic 5K: A fairly boring 5K course through downtown, but OK swag (shirt, medal, 1 free beer) for the money, and hey, we're all about our NHL team in Smashville! Good memories of running this one with my son five years ago, when he won his age division.

3/17: Music City Trail 12K: Never done this or any other trail race before. Would be a welcome change of pace. 12K is a harder distance than it seems. That will be 7 miles and change on trails and gravel roads.

4/14: Purity Moosic City Dairy Dash "The Smitty" 15K: Newish 15K distance for a race that has long had a 5K and later a 10K. The sponsor of the race, a dairy, ran out of ice cream (promised to finishers) when I ran this two years ago. That better not happen again.

4/28: Iron Nugget Triathlon (sprint distance), Dickson, TN: I like this race, in part because the lake will most likely still be cold and I'll be able to use a wetsuit. A hard half-mile swim, followed by running up a bear of a hill to get to transition. By the time of the 5K run, I'm usually just wanting to die.

or, also on 4/28: Bo Bikes Bama in Auburn, AL. Not a race, but a charity bike ride with Bo Jackson! (If you even need to ask, then just leave now.)

5/28: Chattanooga Chase: As I've said many times, this is my favorite race, in large part because it passes in front of my childhood home.

6/9: Buster Britton Memorial Triathlon, Pelham, AL: Never done this race, but it's been around a long time, and I like these shorter-distance triathlons.

 


Unloading.

Taking the Swedish death cleaning thing (linked at right) to heart, I'm tossing a bunch of stuff. Giving away race t-shirts, even the technical ones. Selling a pair of ripped jeans on eBay. I sold a bass--a good one--and may yet sell some more stuff (like pedals--I had so much hope for them when I bought them) on Reverb or eBay.

I just tossed a bunch of magazines (mostly unread issues of Runner's World) into the recycling. Honestly, all the running advice I need is just run a few times a week. That's all.

I may not be losing weight (yet), but my house is.


A new year (and all that).

The need to do something differently, to improve oneself, to transform oneself, as one calendar year turns into another is something that I've somewhat come to terms with and hopefully made my peace with.

I ended the year with a net weight loss of 5+ pounds. Considering that a) normally I set something completely delusional such as "this is the year I finally drop 30" and b) losing weight is damn difficult in middle age, I'm going to call 5 pounds down a win. (Would have been more than 5 if I hadn't treated myself and my dear, long-suffering wife to a pretty fabulous New Year's Eve dinner which involved drinks and dessert. Most definitely worth the splurge.)

I also had a pretty good year playing music and writing songs, thanks in part to generous people who do that better than I do and nonetheless want to include me. I bought myself an Eastman mandolin, which I hope to record with (and maybe put onto this blog for the less-than-one-person-a-day who might find themselves reading this).

As for my off-again, less-off-again relationship with endurance sports, I did more swimming (two USMS meets), several races (not fast in any of them), and one sprint triathlon. I ended my year with one of my favorite races, the Hill Yeah 5K, three days after my 56th birthday. A cold day, a hilly run, a chance to remind myself that I'm alive.

Peace to all of you.

HillYeah5Kshirt


Thanks.

Socks

Thanksgiving Day always has one of my favorite annual runs, the Turkey Day 8K in Ridgeland, Mississippi. This year, my 19-year-old ran it with me, as he did last year. (He did not run this the years he ran high school cross country.)

Good course--about half of it is on a paved nature trail after a couple miles of really flat boring country. Not being in ideal racing shape (i.e. overweight, not running more than 2x per week), I thought I was looking at 13-minute miles. I got near the end and saw that the one-hour mark was within reach. After the race, I saw that my chip time was...one hour and five seconds. D'oh!

My 19-year-old did it in 34:53 (that's a 7:02 pace for those who are keeping score).

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Low expectations, met.

There is a sprint triathlon I'd done two years ago and enjoyed pretty well, in part because it was a new race and therefore pretty small. I had misread the date of this year's race and had originally thought the race was on a Sunday. When I found out early last week that the race was in fact on a Saturday, I decided to go ahead and enter. This will be my only triathlon of 2017.

I knew I hadn't done much of any of the three particular disciplines of a triathlon for this to be much good. I was a little surprised to find that when I went out to my garden shed to get my bike, the wheels had spider webs on them. Spi. Der. Webs. It also occurred to me that I most likely hadn't swum since before the beginning of school...which was almost two months ago.

But hey. Sprint triathlon, power through, slowly if necessary. And it would be necessary.

First off, I love that the only swag you get from this race are a swim cap and a postrace meal. Who needs another t-shirt or another medal? (OK, I do like medals, even for modest events.)

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Pool swim, 200 yards; bike, 15 miles; run, 5K.

The upside of the swim is that I started way in the back. Only one swimmer passed me, a younger, more-in-shape guy (which hardly narrows the field). I think I did breaststroke for 75 of those yards.

The bike was a little more challenging. It was described as "Out and Back course with some rolling hills but no hard climbs." (Italics mine.) Yes. Well. On two of those rolling hills, I got off and walked my bike for a minute or two. As such, it took me almost 1:09 to complete those 15 miles. One guy in my age group passed me on the bike. I caught him within a mile! On the last hill, I was walking. He passed me.

The run is mostly on paved golf-cart paths. And it was a hot day. For some reason, na├»vely thinking that cooler fall weather was here, I'd worn a long-sleeve tech shirt on the bike and run. Tactical error. It was probably already 70 degrees by that point. As I began the run, I saw the guy from my age group who'd passed me on the bike. I thought, well, that guy's slow, but he's maybe 30 yards ahead of me. I can take him.

I didn't take him. In fact, I pretty much ran a minute, walked a minute for the duration of the 5K, and he pulled further and further away.

So, no surprise here, another last-in-my-age-group finish. But: A) Not dead. B) See A.


A good race, a lousy t-shirt.

A lovely neighborhood run, the Oktoberfest 5K Bier Run in the Germantown section of Nashville. (Bier Run=beer run. Get it?)

But this has to be one of the worst excuses for a race t-shirt that I've seen in the past 25 years:

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100% cotton, white, short sleeves. Lousy illustration, lame fonts. On the other hand, this shirt will be perfect to rake leaves in.

On the upside: Nice course, mostly through residential neighborhoods, and a generous cup of beer--dispensed in one of these newfangled (at least to me) cups that have a small magnet at the bottom, like so:

 


(Slight downside: As with any race that's going to promise a beer to each finisher, they must start putting those out on the table well before runners arrive. So it was maybe not the coldest beer. But it was a beer (Paulaner, I think) and it tasted good.

Afterwards, breakfast at my neighborhood coffee shop, which was quite good but for the fact that they can also serve this on a biscuit, but they were out of biscuits that day:

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