Marathon Mike

Marathon Mondays Week 10: 3 quarters down, one to go

In a blog I wrote an eternity ago, I mentioned at great length how a quarter the way through anything is one of the worst milestones to hit. Only having a quarter to go though, is a superbly improved situation. I mean a quarter left feels almost like you are done. On reflection, this really only applies to running, a quarter to go in a basketball game feels like there isn’t enough time in the world. This start to the blog is an absolute train wreck.

With 9 weeks in the books there the end is in sight. It is fortunate that I really feel like I am starting to hit my stride, as I had a great week of running and am starting to feel comfortable at the 8 minute pace I am going to need to hold to hit my 1:45:00 goal. Last week I had two tough runs, the interval run was brutal and the 15k was difficult. The interval run came the morning after a soccer game, so I was already feeling sore, but 9 rounds of quarter mile repeats is going to suck no matter when you do it. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find an official 15k but the ran around Hoboken. While I didn’t really keep the pace I had too, it is always hard to judge my true speed when I have to stop for cars and traffic lights. Overall, the extra day off day from running has me feeling reenergized and ready to take on the next week.

So talking about next week, I have to do quite a bit of run swapping. I am starting the week off on Monday and going 4 straight days. With a little snowboard trip on the horizon, I am going to have to take Friday and Saturday off. The long run is an 11 miler, which is going to be hell after two days of riding but whatever thats the price you pay for fun. The tempo run hits the peak with 45 min, once again I am going to break it up into two parts. Hopefully it goes well. Thats all I got.

Race Reviews

Life Time Miami Marathon and Half Marathon Race Review

Date: Sunday, February 9th, 2020

Distance: 13.1 Miles

Location: Miami, Florida

Time: 2:32:54

A long overdue race review but here it is. One of my favorite races is the half marathon version of the Life Time Miami Marathon and Half Marathon so I was real excited to get the chance to run it again. I know I normally am one to complain, but I really love everything about this race. Didn’t have any personal goals here, the goal was to help my sister finish her first half marathon. She failed miserably. No she did great but that doesn’t move the needle like abject failure.

The expo is also in Miami and while I normally hate spending any extra time going to get my race materials, especially if I have to travel to go get it, I actually enjoy this expo. I guess it helps that I can literally drive right to the thing and leave the second I want. The expo is pretty big, if not as big as the NYC one then pretty close. Lots of discount sneakers which I always love, as well as the standard array of gels, weird protein foods, an espresso machine and a snack bar. Overall it is as good a time as those things could get, something about the energy of Miami makes things always just a little more festive. Plus that Wynwood area is fucking awesome to walk around.

The gear is simple enough, a short sleeve shirt that is of a heavier material then the one I got the last time I did this and a cool enough bib. The real draw is the medals, this race is well known for having these crazy medals and this year was no different. This thing looks like a spin bike wheel. And it spins like a . . . uh . . . spin bike wheel.

The race starts earllllllllllly, our chip time start was 6:28 AM and we had to be one of the last groups to start. I have gone on many rants about the early start times of Florida races but in this case if we honestly had to wait any longer we would have got fucking cooked. I think the temperature was 78 degrees and the second half of the race was starting to get crazy sunny so I was thankful. The race start is also accessible by car, which makes things about a billion times easier. I maybe had to walk 15ish minutes to the start. It is also fairly well organized so that is no stress to finding your group or having to deal with a million people.

The race itself winds through Miami, you cross a few bridges though it is mostly a flat course. The biggest incline is right in the beginning, so once that is out of the way the rest of it is fairly flat. I don’t know any areas in Miami but I think at one point you go through South Beach. Around the 10 mile mark there is music on every corner, which always gets me pumped up. Most importantly though, my sister did great and really pushed through to the end. Crushed the race. Obligatory picture of the running crew, we did not look this put together at the end.

Book Reviews

Warrior of the Altaii Wrap-up: Jordan from the grave

I would like for you all to play this whilst reading this blog. This is one of my all time subtitles, and after the terrible atrocity that was my subtitle for The True Bastards, it is an honor to have such a tremendous comeback. Never count me out. You can count out Robert Jordan though, because he is dead. Sorry Robert. If you were still alive I would love to tell you how much your books have meant to me. I give a little bit of sour all the time, but sometimes I come with the sweet.

You know what would mean a lot to me, if you lovely and not lovely readers of the greatest fantasy and sports hybrid blog gave the greatest fantasy and sports hybrid podcast a listen. In this weeks episode we go over Warrior of the Altaii, the posthumous work of fantasy legend Robert Jordan. We also go over some other funny shit.

Click the link here to get an instant audio erection. If you don’t get that joke, this is a link to the podcast not to Blue Chew, though I know the lovely folks over at Blue Chew are longtime silent fans, so maybe come through with a sponsorship?

Three paragraphs and shameless self promotion later, it is time to get into the book. Apparently this book was written before Jordan exploded onto the scene, in fact it is the first book he ever wrote, and one of the more interesting things I found about the book is how he clearly has the idea for the WoT already in his head, as there are many elements in Warrior of the Altaii that are expanded upon in the WoT. So for WoT fans I would call this a must read, for everyone else it is simply an average fantasy book.

The story goes like this, the Altaii are a nomadic barbaric people that live on the Plain, and their primary purpose in life seems to be raiding caravans and selling slaves and stolen goods. The Plain is drying up, and the city of Lanta is plotting to expand their city state into an empire, but the Altaii are in the way since they just keep wrecking all the trade. Both of these things are making life a pain in the fucking ass for the Altaii, buttttt fortunately we got ourselves a hero named Wulfgar (all time badass name). The Altaii go into the city and meet these two queens, which sit upon the Twin Thrones. The queens are hellbent on killing Wulfgar and the Altaii, but they fail miserably and Wulfgar takes their city and destroys their army, essentially installing himself as the new emperor.

Along the way we have some interesting tidbits that show us where Jordan’s head was at. First and foremost is Jordan’s love of having female characters strip and talk about their bodies. I have written in past WoT audiobook recaps that Jordan is obsessed with tits, and already in his first ever book the Sisters of Wisdom, who are the magic users in this book and an obvious foreshadowing of Aes Sedai, having to get naked and paint on themselves before they do any magic. One of the queens is also naked quite a bit, and there are bath girls that only seem to serve the purpose of bathing characters and looking hot. Another theme that continues in the WoT is that women have all the magical and political power. I was going to say they have rights as well, buttttttttt they are constantly getting either raped, prostituted or enslaved so it seems like there is a trade off. This would now be considered slightly problematic and would need to have some character addressing the immorality of it in order to appease the readers if it was written today. The Altaii are the obvious an early prototype of the Aiel, with all their focus on rituals and proper protocol and traditions and their warrior culture. And and and.

With all that being said, since it is such a quick read and me being an avid WoT fan this book was enjoyable. Not the greatest thing I ever read, but still leaning Chad on this. Not a fully torqued Monster and Blue Chew Chad but a Dubstep in your Jeep Wrangler one.

Marathon Mike

Marathon Mondays Week 9: Get yourself some miles

Whats up everybody it is time for me to commiserate on my many failures and praise myself for my few successes. Of course this means it is time for the next edition of the greatest weekly running training blog series of all time. This includes that series that elite marathon guy and his coach put out. I will not link it or include his name because his is infinitely more impressive then mine in terms of the actual running/fitness, not in terms of funny. I stick to my strengths, one of them being self-aggrandizing.

We are cooking with gas on ol’ Week 9 so lets waste no time and get into last weeks runs. In the course of one week I actually put up a 40 mile week, not intentionally, it just happened to work out that my long run the prior week was on Sunday and the long run last week was on Saturday. A lot of miles to be putting on the legs with little rest, but I think I balanced it well despite not taking any rest days. I did the first run on Monday, running 5 instead of 4.5 because I don’t read great. Not a big deal. On Tuesday my cross training was a soccer game, I may have mentioned this before but intense organized pick-up soccer is not the best cross training to supplement a running schedule. It is fun as shit though. That Meetup app is amazing for finding games.

I switched the tempo run with the 3-miler, my legs were killing me and I wanted to make sure I was able to focus on getting the most out of the tempo run, which is really hard to do the day after soccer. I think the tempo run went great, those runs wind up being close to 9 miles so besides being difficult they are also long. Solid workout though. The long run was 10 miles this week, which was actually a drop from last week. Honestly it went pretty poorly it was absolutely freezing out and I was shot. The pace run the next day went well though. We are at the point where my own refusal to scale back my other activities to ensure proper rest starts to take its toll. It is a problem I have no difficulty identifying, but refuse to do anything about.

Looking ahead things are pretty standard, until the 15k I am supposed to run this weekend. Where the hell am I going to find a 15k this weekend. This time I am supposed to run 5 miles, which for honesty’s sake I have already done. Soccer again this Tuesday. The workout is the same interval run I have been doing, just 9 rounds instead of 8. I know the workout I posted says 10, just change that number in your head with 9. Lets get after it this week!

Book Reviews

The True Bastards Wrap-up: A ride on the hog side

That is an egregious offense to the subtitle gods but in some odd way I am proud of it. Coming in hot with another review is the next book in a series that is slowly creeping its way to the upper echelons of my heart. The True Bastards by Jonathan French is the second book of The Lot Lands series. It takes what made the first book such an interesting and fun read and improves upon it. The plot is much more expansive and original. Don’t just take my written word for it though, also listen to me verbally jerk the book off on another edition of the greatest fantasy, nay, the greatest literary podcast of all time: The Swords and Sports podcast featuring yours truly.

Click the link below to be transported to a magical place owned by a fruit (not a gay joke simply an apple joke) and have all your audio fantasies come true.

Click here to start your trans-formative journey

Now that is how you sell a fucking podcast. Where do I begin with this review. I already know this is going to be a clusterfuck but whatever. Jackal is no longer the POV character, instead we get our main homie Fetching. She is attempting to lead The True Bastards in the wake off having the Kiln destroyed by old sludgey but of course life ain’t that fucking easy. First she needs to contend with her own version of black lung, which is essentially that she is coughing up sludge like a frat boy throws up beer the morning after a sick rager. The town of Winsome has zero, nada, zilch food and motherfuckers are hungry. So she has to find out why none of the food is getting there. Turns out a pack of super hyenas controlled by a giant orc shaman are causing terror throughout The Lot Lands. Some frails have started setting up shop in an abandoned lot but none of the other hoofs no what to do. Hispertha is getting real mouthy in their quest to expand the empire. Basically she is going through a Lot. Get it, its because the series is called The Lot Lands. Let me end this monster paragraph.

That is quite the predicament to find oneself in. Fortunately for the lovely half-elf, half-orc super hybrid there is one simple answer. Violence. As the famous Jedi Mind Tricks song Violence begets Violence taught me, it’s that Violence begets Violence so that means madness ensues. We are talking hoof on hoof war, hoof on Tine war, hoof and hoof on magic orc shaman and hyena war, and all types of fun.

This fucking book is awesome. I love, love, love the use of all kinds of mythical races and that they can mix creating all different species that have to make their way in the world. I love that they ride hogs and shoot crossbows like they are a fucking motorcycle gang. I love the interplay between the clashing cultures and factions along The Lot Lands. The world Frenchy Lotana builds is absolutely brilliant. The characters are hilarious, believable and have realistic arcs. The curse words are great. The use of the word “cock” is without equal. Basically read this series if you like fun.

This book is literally the definition of chad. Easiest rating ever.

Marathon Mike

Marathon Mondays Week 8: Bienvenidos a Miami

For anyone following along with this blog series, that subtitle isn’t just a random attempt to make this a bilingual blog despite the lucrative opportunities that would provide. Lucrative in the sense that I will still lose money on it, but the joy of education will be it’s own reward. I was in the lovely city of Miami for the half marathon, though that is for another blog. I like to believe that the artist behind the classic “Big Willie Style” famous song is never far from my mind. The haters will point out that the song is not actually on that album. That is okay.

While the vacation was certainly enjoyable, it pains me to say that I left my Garmin Forerunner 235 running watch at the TSA checkpoint at the United Terminal in Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) on Friday, February 7th around 7:15 pm. Why all that specific detail, well imaginary person I am talking too, this blog is extraordinarily popular with TSA Agents and I know those longtime readers will be able to help me out. And longtime silent supporter Garmin will be able to make me whole again.

Okay with those tangents out of the way, time to talk running. Last week was a relatively calm week, this was the first week I was running 4.5 to start the week. Didn’t really make a difference, though once again I ran it Monday as I played soccer Tuesday Night. 1/9 with 4 shots on goal no big deal. Running the intervals the following day was kind of brutal, it was in exercise in control as I balanced keeping a good speed with keeping my hamstrings intact. Since a sadly lost my watch, I have no data on Thursday’s 3-miler and I also messed up my photo editing, please trust me that I ran it. Saturday I was supposed to run another 4, but seeing as I was already going to go 4 miles over on my long run, I kept it an easy 3. The long run went great, which you can read about later this week.

Looking ahead, well I already did one of the runs this week. But I despair as I think I need to move my running workout to Thursday so that I can have a running watch for it. Tragedy. Other then me continuing to complain, the long run is 10, and with the way I felt running that half, I anticipate no issues. At some point I lost the enthusiasm that I started this blog with and it shows. Shame, shame. Please find my watch TSA.

Book Reviews

The Poppy War Wrap-up: Popping off

As another week passes by, it is time for yet another book review. This time I would like to present The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang. Before I go too far into the weeds, I think it is once again worth mentioning that if the written word is not enough for you, feel free to listen to the SwordsandSports podcast. You can find that shit on iTunes, and maybe one day when I get around to it you can find it on Google Play. This week I recap the super bowl, I beg for money because I lost it all, and make other hilarious comments on the book. 52 books, 52 weeks, 52 podcasts. Join the movement now or die a horrible death.

You can find a link to the podcast here.

Alright another unsuccessful promo done so we can move on. I got to be honest about The Poppy War for real, for real. To me this seemed like a story you have read at least 14 times in your life, except the characters and culture is all Asian. I know this is both controversial and brave of me to say. Let me break it down for you clowns out there who are ready to throw me into the fire. The book is essentially two parts.

Part one is your classic orphan goes to school and learns magic tale. I am going to use no gender pronouns here, not to be progressive but to prove a point. It starts out with this kid, the kid is naturally an orphan. The way out of a tough living situation is to get accepted into this special school. The only way to do this is to be super smart. Of course the main character is beyond smart so the kid gets accepted to the school. The school is male dominated, but there are some women. The school is run by Masters, each Master has a specific subject that they teach. But there is a Master that is loopy, wacky, disheveled and frankly childish and immature. Most of the other professors think he is cracked, but of course he is the Master of magic. The main character has a rival, this rival is super wealthy and the son of an important lord. Their antics trying to one-up each other provide a lot of the filler. Eventually the main character has to choose her track. The main character begrudgingly earns the respect of the wacky Master and does a bunch of things that don’t really seem to have a point, but are actually teaching The main character magic. The hunger for more power eventually leads to a schism, as the Master doesn’t think this power should be used for violence.

Is part one The Name of the Wind? Nope. In this book replace Kvothe with Rin, Master Elodin with Jiang, and Ambrose with Nezha. Make everyone Asian and we have ourselves an award winning debut novel. Part 2 on the other hand, is where things take a turn.

At some point in the book, we replace the quaint orphan goes to school tale with an X-men in a fantasy world witnessing and causing massacres story. A littttttle bit different. The second part goes way off the rails, and frankly it is refreshing. Eventually Rin joins this crack team of a magic using military branch and causes absolute fucking mayhem. Not to spoil everything but the kind of amoral heel turn Rin takes is awesome. The second half is a little crazy and disjointed but a ton of fun.

So ends another dope ass review. This book teeters the line between virgin and chad so I place it firmly in the middle. On the one side, orphan goes to school and learns magic is one of my favorite kinds of stories but is def a virg move. On the other hand mass murder is very chad. The two balance each other out, the perfect yin to yang ratio.