Marathon Mike

Marathon Mondays Week 10: Amateur hour is over

That seems more like the title of a bad action movie or like the fourth season of a sports movie that went straight to DVD. Maybe when they reboot Air Bud they can borrow my subtitle. Either way it is week 10 of this magnificent series as well as the 10th week of my marathon training so let’s talk about it.

Last week was nothing short of brutal. Just a heavy workload capatalized by the monster run on Sunday, which of course you can read all about in the previous blog if you are so inclined to hear more whining. To be fair hill workout’s are slowly becoming my absolute favorite workout so to start the week off like that was ideal. I mentioned before that I did some hot yoga later that tuesday night and I fully credit my success for the rest of the week on doing that class. Two-a-days are a lot to put on your plate, they consume an enormous amount of both time and energy while depleting an already drained body, but yoga has almost the opposite effect. Besides the obvious stretching aspect I just think it helps so much with strenghting without straining and reenergizing the body by increasing blood flow. So if you are a dude who is too masculine to do it well you are a bitch.

So I switched up the 7 and 8-mile runs to accomadate my schedule, but I am convinced that those Wednesday/Thursday mid-week medium mileage runs are the hardest runs of the whole training plan. Something about those two days absolutely murders me. Wednesday I ran in the morning and had planned on doing the extra mile but physically I just called it quits, which is crazy considering it was only an extra mile. Could have been an extra 10 miles for all that mattered because I just couldn’t do it. It’s weird that I can have such a bounce back for the tempo run on Friday, which went excellently. I mean 2 1/2 miles at a 7ish minute mile pace is great for me. Felt good after it as well

But taking a look at this week there are a few things to note. It is certainly a de-load week, which at this point I know I need despite my body feeling great. I am headed to Fort Lauderdale for the weekend so I squeezed in a workout yesterday to try and find my abs in order to flex for social media. Sadly they are still lost. I am highly encouraged that I was not really sore at all the day after the 18-miler, so I want to keep that momentum and push it with the extra workouts. I did the intervals this morning, they went fine. No other running workouts this week which is a blessing. Just gotta knock out a 10-miler at some point then straight lounging on the beach. Till next week . . .

Final Notes: Pray for Daniel Jones. O lord.

Race Reviews

TCS New York City Marathon Training Series 18M Race Review

Date: Sunday, September 15th 2019

Distance: 18 Miles

Location: New York, NY (Central Park)

Time: 2:44:51

Welp the big training event before the marathon is now officially in the past. I learned a lot about what to expect, what I need to work on, where I am at with my fitness, what kind of runner I am, and how much I dislike central park all in the course of almost three hours early Sunday morning.

First off lets get to the gear. For some reason I can only imagine was due to overstock, the gear for this race was the ever practical arm sleeves. The arm sleeve, as history commonly accepts, was not made cool until Allen Iverson wore one. In of course, as many readers are aware, a sport that involves your arms. So just to get it out of the way, these arm sleeves are wack as hell. They look like bad stained glass windows. I already have tattoos I don’t need fake ones. Of course here they are for reference. Make your own judgement.

Moving on. The race itself went surprisingly well. The start time of 7:00 AM would normally have me throwing a fit, but I actually think with this distance it was a blessing. I had little time to think about the task at hand, as I was mostly focused on staying awake and maneuvering the PATH and subway. I wound up taking an Uber to the start line anyway. But because it was early I just woke up and got right to it.

The weather was great for it, I think it was high 60’s low 70’s for the entire time, if the race started any later it would have been a nightmare, as it crept up to 80’s later on. I had planned on taking my sweet ass time for this, really emphasizing the “training” part of the race, but I think I either got caught up in the moment or just had a good day out there. I am by no means a great runner, I would say for my age I usually sit about average, but I was extraordinarily consistent throughout the course.

Originally I planned on running 10:30-11:00 minute miles in order to focus on just getting the distance in without injury, but around 3 miles in I noticed that I came out the gate faster than I would have liked. I know I have the watch, but I kept trying to do the math every time I passed a timer, which by the way they had at every mile, and I was surprised that I was moving quicker. I thought I actually slowed down at some point but clearly I stayed consistent throughout.

For anyone who has ever done a NYRR race or ran in Central Park in general, they are familiar with the fucking up-and-down nature of NYC’s one redeeming place. The race was three loops around the park, which is not only really unoriginal but also means you know where the hills are and can start dreading them. Now this wasn’t really an issue for me until the 3rd time around, by which point I was working on miles 12 through 18 and knew exactly where every incline was. That third lap was torture, I hit like a physical wall around mile 15 where I honestly questioned if I would be able to go another foot.

My strategy going in was water every 5 miles and some bee goo around the halfway mark. This did not happen, I took water/Gatorade at miles 5, 9, 12, 14, and 16 which shows me that I need to be aware of how necessary hydration is. My fear with water breaks is that as I slow down to grab a cup that I just physically won’t be able to pick it back up, but experience has shown the actual opposite effect. It’s not like when I have to stop for stupid cars that I just collapse, idk what kind of mental block makes me think it is going to happen during a race. I also think I need more of those gel packet things.

Either way, I smoked that last mile finishing nice and strong. Physically the largest challenge I had was in my legs. My groins were killing me, which is surprising as usually my hamstrings are the first thing I feel. I honestly thing doing yoga earlier in the week was the game changer. My quads felt like bricks by mile 16, I am not sure really how that is going to change besides just getting in better running shape, but it has motivated me to keep going to hot yoga torture chambers and get a few more gym sessions in before the big race.

Ultimately I finished and considering I wasn’t “racing” this race I am beyond happy with my times. This was a huge validation of my own ability and the success of sticking with the program. No more races on the agenda until the big one, so it is on me to stay focused. Bonus picture of me looking like human death at the finish line at the end of this.

Final Notes: Same thing as last week about the Giants, I don’t want to hear it.

Book Reviews

The Dark Defiles Wrap-up: Defiling expectations of good fantasy

Ehh not my best title. Then again I am exhausted with writing about this series. I finished this book on the way to Colombia and the time spent reading this book was worse than anything I experienced on the entire vacation. Though I did have a great vacation so I guess the bar for that wasn’t very low. Either way l have finished the series meaning fortunately this is the last blog I will ever write about it.

I want to take a look at some of the positives first, since it is much easier to just blast the shit out of this final catastrophy. There are some better parts, at one point we get introduced to this charctar Sharkmaster Wyr, who was some famous pirate guy. He is imprisioned on this ship in the harbor where he is supposed to be living out the remander of his days. Both interesting and well done. The backstory on this dude is badass. To me this like one chapter of a minor character who winds up having no real impact on the plot was the best part of the book. What this tells me is that while I’ve spent way more time than what is healthy bashing this Richard K. Morgan guy, he defienitly has the talent to be a good writer.

The problem is his story stinks. He relies on magic/sci-fi technology to kind of clean up these situations the characters get in, and it all feels meaningless in regards to the story. The characters themselves are very stereotypical. I get the vibe he goes for but to me the plot kind of falls apart because the situations the characters find themselves in are just not well done.

A big part of the book that gets a lot of praise is the fact that the main character Ringil is gay. He subverts your typical gay character in a fantasy book stereotype by being this grizly, hardened veteran who men rally to and are willing to follow into anything. This is great, and I fully support the idea of having a character like Ringil. The problem is the Ringil we get is boring and unimaginative. His being gay seems to be used to mask the fact that the character isn’t very fleshed out. And there also is a noticeable drop off of graphic sex scenes throughout the series. The first book was chock full of them, by the last book I am not ever sure if anyone has sex. Just seems like what could have been fascinating and progressive is instead a tool to boost lazy writing.

This third book has a plot that is alllllll over the place. The end of the second book they plan on going on this journey to an island to find a dead former wizard king of the humans before the Dwenda resurrect him to take over the world. Within 100 pages instead we have a completely different book. The plot ambles on, Egar Dragonbane gets killed by a . . . you guessed it, Dragon. Archeth finds herself through the challenges placed on her and becomes the next viable option for the throne. Ringil gets his revenge and when he finally meets the great bad wizard king, easily deals with him in 3 pages. We have been hearing about this guy since book one, he’s gone in 3 pages. Reminded me of the death of the Night King in GoT. Super underwhelming.

There are some cool characters and parts though. Hjel is an awesome dude, his backstory about wishing to be this great warrior and like becoming a musician was entertaining. Jhiral the actual emperor was fun. But these people played such unimportant roles that they became irrelevant. I believe if he made these characters have their own POV, maybe we would have got somewhere.

Rant over. Series over. Moving on.

Journey around the Wheel of Time

The Dragon Reborn Audiobook Update 2: A wolf and a white tower

Fresh off of losing even more money on the illustrious FanDuel app (sponsor me por favor) is the Friday Wheel of Time Audiobook update. Having put in some hefty mileage since last week there is plenty to talk about. First though, I know that title makes it seem like Perrin had some crossover with Tar Valon. He didn’t, it is just a much better subtitle.

BUT that doesn’t mean that there was no Perrin. In fact I thought this entire book was Perrin. Which is not a bad thing, he has a lot of action happening around him. He is at the point now where he is being bombarded by this wolf life and he is being a little bitch about embracing it. Like your boy Hopper, a true OG, is basically telling Perrin to stop being a baby and the guy can’t get out of his own head.

So essentially Trollocs run up on the little winter Dragonsworn camp and Perrin gives them the fucking business. A little weird that he fights with the wolves, but I get hyped up when Robert Jordan does a battle scene without magic. Young Bull, Perrin’s alter ego, is a legend of the fight game. He just runs around barefoot chopping trollocs and fades with a giant fucking ax. His fight with the fade is dope, Perrin is an awesome undisciplined brawler. You know who is a wack fighter? You guessed it! RAND. When Perrin goes to find him Rand is crying about how he did nothing. Good job bro. Pathetic.

So post battle your boy Perrin, Lan, Loial and Moraine start following Rand. They roll up to this village, where everyone is busy fucking because Rand came through and basically started up a giant orgy. Not exactly true, as these people were getting married first, but what is marriage but an excuse? Some would say Rand shares many tendencies with Lucifer himself. This innkeeper asks Moraine to heal his brother, but when she and Perrin go to see the brother, they can’t do anything as the brother has basically become a wolf. This chapter shows the depth of Moraine’s character. It is so easy to see her as uncaring and cold, but in actuality the way she talks to Perrin and shows sympathy just makes her continuously more likeable.

On to the White Tower. The hero of our tale is unfortunately incapacitated at the start of this book, he has come down with a case of evil magic sickness. So Verin, Egwene, Nynaeve, Elayne, and Hurin the crime watchdog sniffing out crime from Tear to the Two Rivers get accosted by these White Cloak goons while trying to get Mat to the White Tower. I lovvvvve this part of the book because I find it so funny. This scene reminds me of like getting mugged by people with knives, when all of you are holding guns. Verin is diplomatically trying to get shit done while Egwene the whole time is getting more and more impatient until finally she pulls out the uzi and starts blasting those clowns with the one power. Elayne and Nynaeve are so relieved to not have to listen to Verin’s terrible attempts at diplomacy and start popping off as well. They absolutely body the White Cloaks in like three seconds. Then as Verin is trying to discipline them, she is just resigned to the fact that it worked. OOOOO WELL.

When they finally get to Tar Valon, we are treated with an Amyrlin Seat chapter. Of course this means stupid fisherman expressions but looking past that I enjoy Siuan as a POV. My time with the audiobook ended with rain blasting me at about mile 5 yesterday, so until next week that is all.

Final Notes: God damn it Cam.

Mat's Money Makers

Matrim’s Money Makers: Thursday night bonus

To set the stage

The Game:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1, 0-0 Away) vs. Carolina Panthers (0-1, 0-1 Home)

Date: Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019

Time: 8:20 p.m. EST

Venue: Bank of America Stadium – Charlotte, NC

The Bet:

Spread: TB: +7 (-120) | CAR: -7 (+100)

My Guaranteed Winner:

CAR: -7 (+100)

I am off to a hottttt start this football season. After last week’s incredible prediction that was thwarted by a man who can’t even chug a beer in what is widely being considered the biggest fluke in gambling history, I am back on the horse. I was not stagnant during the weekend, I won a gimmie pick on the Patriots game. Of course I did no write up for it because I never share my true winners with anyone. I am starting to consider the fact that I might be cursing these teams.

That being said, HAMMER the Panthers. They looked solid last week against the Rams minus the collapse and I think this season they are going to get the ball rolling again. Cam seems to be somewhat healthy, the Panthers are always a tough team and I can not stress this enough, the Bucs fucking suck.

More importantly then all of this I want to talk about how fucking bad these Thursday Night Football commercials are. The premise of the commercial is so stupid, these two fans are talking shit not too each other, well kind off, but to the other team. This guy Jim/Bob/standard white guy is talking about how the Panthers can’t handle the Bucs while wearing this ridiculous Hawaiian shirt. Everyone can handle the Bucs. Then this frumpy ass gross looking lady in front of this massive grill is going on about “Super Cam” and how he won’t be bothered by Tampa. We know, no one has been bothered by Tampa in the history of sports. Except I guess that Super Bowl. Shut the hell up both of you. Shit talking should be visceral, you should be talking about how the Panthers suck because your husband cheated on you with your best friend and now has two families. Let’s run through a much better example.

White Guy:

Get ready you inbred cousin fuckers Tampa is going to molest you like you are driving an Uber that Jameis is in.

White Girl:

Tampa is poor man’s Miami. Big Willie wasn’t singing about “Down to Tampa where the crystal meth is on”

Listen that is not great either but at least it is a launch point for a better commercial. Regardless, the Bucs are god damn terrrrrrible. They are coming off an atrocity, they are playing on the road, and Bruce Arians is lost out there. Panthers easy.

“You could put a man’s eye out with that thing, and normally I wouldn’t mind, but I’m running short on eyes these days.”

Marathon Mike

Marathon Mondays Week 9: Halfway Home

Chronicling on a week-to-week basis my progress on this training plan has had nothing but positive effects on the actual training. The old adage “you have to put it out in the world to make it happen” or something along those lines has forced me to hold myself accountable. I am at the start of Week 9 which means I have crossed the halfway point, hence the super clever and original subtitle for this thing.

This week is one of the 3 peak weeks of the training plan with 50-54 miles as the weekly mileage. I already skipped the optional 4-mile run so 50 it is. When I was shopping around for (free) plans, I thought that a week like this looking fucking impossible, now I’m so used to this thing that all I can think of is if I will get home from the 18-mile run in time for the start of the Giants game. No doubt sitting through a Giants/Bills game is going to be a way worse three hours then the run. Probably will be sorer from it as well, as I internally rage and pop a blood vessel or take a kitchen knife and gouge out my eyes to save myself from the misery. If I have to listen to Troy Aikman, Troy fucking Aikman of all god damn people, defend the Giants and Eli Manning against Joe Suck for my Sunday afternoon my ears are going the way of the cameras of Jeffery Epstein’s cell, off. Nailed that joke 3 weeks too late. Man the Giants have a way of getting me off script.

It is a testament of how sticking to a plan and continuing to push yourself can really pay off. I swear when I started this thing I thought the concept of having to run 18 miles sounded impossible. I knew how gassed I was after running half marathons and an additional 5 miles seemed like a worse torture then being a cornerback on the aforementioned Giants last Sunday. Now I’m thinking that after the 5-mile run on Saturday I might hit the gym and get a little extra work in. Crazy.

On the subject of progress, I have to say that taking a week off had noticeable effects on my running last week. I mentioned that my body had felt great after not running which was wonderful, but I feel like I struggled to get through the Wednesday 8-miler and the Thursday 7-miler. Those runs felt absolutely torturous and the only things I can really attribute that too are the weather (maybe?) and the break. Perhaps not for the first time but certainly this was noticeable to me, I actually worried that I would be unable to finish the run. I almost started walking, which to me is equal to quitting. I was fucking gassed after both of those runs. I don’t think it was exhaustion from the interval run, but I definitely was exhausted. Terrible. On a lighter note the rest of the week went great, the Friday tempo run I really cruised through, I ran the 10-miler on Saturday with no issues, and Sunday’s run was torture but for different reasons well documented here: https://swordsandsports.blog/2019/09/10/new-balance-5th-avenue-mile-race-review/

So what am I looking at for this week. I mentioned already that the long run is an 18-miler, which I will be doing the NYRR training run thingy for (review to come). That obviously is an enormous challenge, but after the relatively successful 16-mile run (minus almost drowning and having rain drops assault my bald dome) I hope to cruise through it. I ran the 6-mile Hill run this morning and it was relatively easy. I will see how the 8-mile, 7-mile, 6-mile tempo, and 5-mile runs go but I really don’t foresee any problems. My hamstrings still feel absolutely murdered but that will fade. Alright time to stop talking about it and instead get too it!

Race Reviews

New Balance 5th Avenue Mile Race Review

not me…obviously

Date: Sunday, September 8th 2019

Distance: 1 Mile

Location: New York, NY (5th Ave between like 62nd and 83rd St. or something)

Time: 0:05:59

I was looking for the format I used last time for one of these race reviews and realized it has been almost two months since I last ran a race, which for someone who runs consistently seems like a really long time. In actuality doing races is almost getting in the way of the actual training. For example, this race is only one mile (which you probably got from the name of the race). I had to run 10 miles on Sunday, so after finishing the race I would have had to either run before the race or after. If I got a medal for the race or any other swag, I would have had to either run with the stuff or leave it. I keep all this stuff hypothetical because they gave no after race stuff so this didn’t really apply. I also did my long run on Saturday so I had to run 4 after the race which isn’t bad at all. Point is, the races can in theory get in the way of training, or at least force it to take way more planning around, hence why I only signed up for two races during this 16 week thing. One of those is the 18 mile training run, which lines up with my 18-mile run so that is actually great.

Complaining about things that didn’t actually happen at all aside, the New Balance 5th Avenue Mile race is a really cool concept. They do the race in waves (they might call them heats but it’s the same concept) broken up by age so you actually line up with a bunch of people who are in your own age range, as opposed to around your same speed. It definitely has an actual person against person competition feel to it, because you know everyone around you started around the same time as you so anyone you pass you beat. If you care about those things. Which of course I do because I am hyper competitive.

With 9,172 running this thing, broken up into a lot of groups over not a lot of space, it seems like it would be an organizational nightmare, but NYRR does an excellent job of keeping the thing moving. My wave, the 25-29 age group, went at 9:20 AM, if I remember from last year that is an hour later than last year. Last year’s weather was trash, this year it could not have been more perfect. I think it was 60ish and sunny.

This is an awesome race. That being said, I fucking hate it. I easily think it is the hardest race I run. This is entirely my own fault and has no reflection on the race. Last year I flat out sprinted the first quarter mile because I tried to keep up with all the dudes in the front, and after that quarter mile I felt as if death had come for me. I spent like 20 minutes after this thing hacking up a lung.

This year was still not great, though I didn’t feel like death so that’s an improvement. I spent much more time loosening up, stretching actively and statically in an attempt to get my hammys at the minimal working. I also came out much more reserved. This helped a lot, as I cut off 18 seconds from the year prior.

Still though, after I passed the quarter mile timer, I had fleeting thoughts about bailing on running hard. I honestly think I would have if I didn’t think that stopping would have caused me to flat out tear my whole leg. The second quarter of the race is slightly uphill, so all I see in my vision is emptiness, very uninspiring. At least the second half is better, it starts off downhill and I could see the finish line so at least I knew my torture was coming to the end. I felt my hamstrings pulling the entire time though. I tried to kick it up another notch at the 200 meters left sign, as I saw that I was getting close to getting under 6 minutes, but I didn’t realize that I had started like 8 seconds after so the timer at the end line was over 6 minutes I was too deflated to run harder. Good thing I didn’t slow down though because I was literally one second from not being under. That was not intentional at all.

Either way, if you are great at running a mile this race is probably a blast. I mean I came in 408 of 825 in my age group. As I said I am irrationally competitive, so even knowing I am not a great mile runner, the fact that 407 dudes finished ahead of me is infuriating. And on top of that I was basically dead average. I hate this race. At least at other distances I don’t really care as much because I know I suck at it. This one hits harder for some reason.

The gear though for this race is sweeeeeeet. Last year they gave out the wackest hats known to man, I don’t even have mine I threw it out instantly so no picture. This year though they gave out a pair of running shorts, but like really nice ones that have pockets. The women’s shorts don’t have pockets but I am a man so that is zero issue to me. Here they are:

I didn’t take any of my own pictures because I forgot my phone in the car, for some reason bringing my wallet instead, which of course is very useful for running a mile. So my apologies.

So in review, this race is really cool and probably a ton of fun. Unless you are me and find no joy in anything. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Jenny Simpson won this thing for the 8th time. What a fuckkkkking beast. Who cares about the guys. Also Tiki Barber I think ran this. It infuriates me to no end that this guy is apart of NYRR. Stay tuned for a race review next week!

Final Notes: No comment on the Giants game yesterday. Leave me alone.