Marathon Mike

Marathon Monday's Week 5: Frozen fun for everyone

Welcome back to the personal journey of one blogger’s attempt to be the most amateur runner of all time. With a corny subtitle for the blog, lets dive right into it.

Last week had it’s challenges as it has truly become the dead of winter and is now obnoxiously cold. It is the point of the winter where I see these former track runners out in nothing but dick showing shorts and maybe a long sleeve shirt and I realize that I will never make the sacrifices needed to be a great runner or a fucking try-hard. If you are going to wear short ass shorts why do it in the freezing cold when your dick is going to look all shriveled up. Sure you look tough I guess, wearing nothing out there in the frozen tundra but these tiny flaps that show all your bony ass cheeks and withered tree branch legs, but all anyone is going to care about is that lack of bulge. Not putting yourself in a position to succeed. Or maybe I am just projecting my own insecurities. Continue on please.

Dick rant over, last week I had two challenging runs. The tempo run I thought went extremely well. After the first 20 minute tempo I knew that I had some more gas in the tank and could handle the second part without suicidal thoughts. I think for the first part I averaged close to a 7 minute mile, the second part maybe 7:30. Not too bad. I mean those runs at this point are going to be as long as my long runs, the workout topped out at almost 8 miles so they are not quick workouts. I can see that even from the last time I did it there was an improvement in both speed and endurance, maybe this fucker Hal Higdon is on to something. The long run was nothing crazy, I did an easy 7 yesterday as I had to shift the runs around. Add in three gym days and I would say I really got a good week in.

Which takes us to this week my friends. This week things are starting to pick up a little bit, the 3.5-miler from last week gets upped to a 4-miler, and now that it is at the 4 miles I am debating switching Tuesday’s and Thursdays so that I can do hills on Thursday’s without it affecting my speed workouts. Did that make sense? Whatever no going back now.

The workout is back to the interval’s, just throwing another one into the mix. I know that my workout says 5 miles, but now with 7 rounds of intervals it is def going to be a little longer. The long run is 8 miles. An 8 mile run is right about where I start considering the long run to be long enough that it impacts my day. When I am not training for something I rarely run over 6 miles unless I am feeling rambunctious or try-hardish so anything above 7 starts to feel like work. Which means it’s time to go to work, have a good week everyone. What a closing line, and while it may seem like I am ruining it by adding this, I would be remiss in my duties of self-promotion if I did not take this time to point that out.

Book Reviews

The Warrior Prophet Wrap-Up: Kellhus or die

With such a grim title it pains me to have to pair it with an exciting announcement. Due to the love of hearing the sound of my own voice I finally was able to scrape up enough equipment, technical know-how and free labor from a trapped significant other to put together an accompanying podcast. Media moguls start from somewhere and this was the logical next step.

Click below to listen to me grace your earbuds with the silky, sultry sounds of the greatest fantasy podcast out there. I promise it is not a virus!

https://swordsandsports.podbean.com

Did that have anything to do with The Warrior Prophet? Of course, as the book was the main subject of Episode 2 of the Swords and Sports podcast! So like that shit, listen to it, subscribe and please send any feedback to either the @swordsandsports accounts on Instagram or Twitter or email me directly at swordsandsports@gmail.com

While it pains me to have to cringeily ask for all that stuff I really am looking for feedback or trolls so don’t hold back.

The Warrior Prophet picks up directly where the last book left off, with the Holy War about to begin. Instead of all that setup my man R Scotty 2 hotty Bakers dozen gets right into the war and all it’s majesty. The best parts of this book are the emphasis on detail for both the political and military maneuverings of the Holy War. It really gave such an excellent feel for strategy and what being a part of it was like. Such a well done book I finally can see what the hype was all about. This is a significant improvement over the last book, which seemed to really become a slog in the middle of it. We get a lot less of the Emperor in this one, which automatically makes it better because his story line was pretty boring.

The Holy War and the Men of the Tusk are certainly not boring though. Achamian goes from a kind of whiny wack-ass spy in the first book to a drunkard philosopher in the beginning, to a warrior magician by the end and that transformation is really satisfying to watch because he was a fucking snooze for a long time. His obsession with Kellhus and his anointing of him as the Prophet were his main highlights in this, along with having a magical puppet that sliced the throat of a cat. His love for Esement despite her taking hella loads all the time is quite annoying but he redeems himself when he finally decides to start baking fools.

The best characters are by far Kellhus, and a step below that, Cnauir. Cnauir was one of the better characters in the first book, even though I am firmly against the barbarian with a brain trope. His ascension to the top of the Men of the Tusk command structure and subsequent fuck-up of aforementioned command was a great plot line to follow. His internal struggle to constantly battle the top minds in the book, Conphas and Kellhus, was one of the better psychological battles. He is one dude who has no chill. Also ritual scarring is fucked up I am way too pretty for that shit.

But all roads eventually lead to our title character: Kellhus. This guy is a fucking awesome dude. He is the definition of 2013 Drake’s chart topping song “Started from the Bottom.” I originally put 2017 but when I looked it up I realized that holy fuck I am getting old. Moving on. Kellhus begins this book as a sort of sideshow to Cnauir but through careful maneuvering, manipulating, and fucking people up becomes a separate entity that develops a cult-like following and becomes the face of the franchise by the end. Some of the stories of his training are awesome, like he went into a room with his old teacher where all these people are on stretchers with their faces stuck in various expressions. Kellhus has to identify the expressions and what creates them. Sickly and dope.

He also does shit like properly predict the outcome of a battle, finds water in a desert (I wrote dessert at first, HAHA words), acquires not one but two girlfriends which while I think is a terrible idea it does belay a certain cool factor, and eventually leads a group of fanatics seizing control of the holy war. On top of being an incredible swordsman that single handily holds the command position on the battlefield while everyone else ran, he is just a real swell guy. His lack of morals and emotions is a plus as well.

Did that tell you anything about the plot? Nope but once again if you listen to the podcast you will get wayyyyyy more recap then you ever could have imagined. O yea this book is chad to the max.

Marathon Mike

Marathon Mondays Week 4: Quarter down, much more to go

A quarter of the way through anything has to be one of the most difficult checkpoints to try and rationalize that you are almost done. I mean a quarter the way through the Texans/Chiefs game Bill O’Brien probably thought things were going pretty well. A quarter of the way through a semester you still think you are going to keep up with all the work and not have to pull a few all-nighters just to keep the semblance of a decent GPA. A quarter of the way through Season 8 of Game of Thrones I thought that the season was going well. Just kidding that whole thing was trash. Just like me making that joke a year too late.

Point being it’s Monday and radiating positivity isn’t always the easiest thing. Not that it is my strong point anyway. At least I am getting this out on Monday.

I thought I was in for this nice easy week, and I guess for the most part it wasn’t an overwhelming amount of running, but with two speed days I felt like death. I am sure things would be easier if I actually did the workout the correct way, instead of turning it into an interval workout. Well I didn’t so that is my own fault. Obviously with only four days of running last week there is not much to talk about, but I am concerned at my inability to improve my performance in the 5k distance.

I kept it under 24 minutes which I guess isn’t terrible, but I think I can attribute it to a couple of factors. The first is just poor strategy, I come out the gate wayyyy to hot, I think I ran the first mile in under 7 minutes which set me up for disaster. The second is that on top of this training plan I am doing a decent amount of other exercise, so those rest days are not really rest days they are gym or some other activity days. Meaning that I am fucking gassed. The third is some accountability, I am bad at that distance. If I want some excuses I could tell you I got caught at a light for a minute, but that would be dishonest as I was so happy I got caught at that light. I needed the break and I knew the man in the sky had just provided me with a ready made excuse. If I want to take something positive from it a few minutes after I finished the run I felt fine and ready to go again.

Looking ahead there are really two runs worth taking a look at. The running workout is the murderous tempo run. I am going to do the same thing I did last time, just adding 5 more minutes to the first tempo. I also changed the end of it so the cool down has not set limit. Last time I was far from my apartment and had to stop to make the watch start again. As much as I hate these tempo runs after the last one I recognize how necessary they are. I am sure I will not be this positive halfway through it. The long run is back to mileage building, so I have to bang out a 7-miler. I am also going snowboarding this weekend, so no rest for the weary. Lets get after it

Race Reviews

Hollywood Beach Broadwalk Half Marathon and 5k – January Race Review

Date: Saturday, January 6th, 2020

Distance: 3.1 Miles (5k)

Location: Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Time: 27:18

On a whim during my recent trip down to Ft. Lauderdale I signed up for this local 5k in North Hollywood. There was no real goal in mind besides looking for stuff to do and the desire to fill up valuable vacation time with exercise to feed a crippling exercise addiction. Nothing really prompted this, my sister sent me the details as an almost joke and me and my girlfriend decided to do it.

I have mentioned this about Florida races and Florida in general but it is worth mentioning again: Florida after 9:00 is a molten fireball where running gives you a similar feeling to that dude Icarus when he flew too close to the sun. Because of this the race started like super early, I think at 6:30 which is a fucking nightmare. Due to the last minute nature of this, we also had to arrive even earlier for packet pickup. All-in-all a clusterfuck of poor decisions designed to minimize my precious sleep.

So apparently this is a 2 part half marathon series, with the other event taking place in October. Considering I am already in training for a half marathon and trying to stick to the weekly mileage, we elected to just hit the 5k instead.

This was a cool idea, the field was small, maybe no more then 200 participants. That being said, any more then that would have made this 5k a nightmare. The course itself was pretty narrow, for a majority of mile 1 we spent it doing the ol’ weave and bob through the crowd, though it did eventually clear up. The best part of this whole thing was seeing the sun rise as we were running, what started off as pitch blackness and a freezing wind turned into sunshine and a freezing wind. As you can see from the race start line picture, the beginning of this race was a dark mass of people freezing to death because they chose to dress like it was a middle of the day Florida run. This of course includes me.

The swag to this race was nothing to write home about, you had the option for I believe a dri-fit shirt of a tank top, both in white so that you won’t get to wear them for very long. The medal was disproportionately large for a 5k because I think they gave the same medal to the people who finished the half. This part was cool, I want my medals to be as obscene as possible and this totally nailed it.

The course itself was fun, it was a little more then a mile down this kind of boardwalk, a mileish back, then one more time till it curled at the end. Felt a little bit like they really didn’t have enough room to make a 5k, like when you run up and down the sidewalk on your block to hit that last .09 mile. Also there was water at some point. The start to the race was a mad house, I actually had to do a quick trot from a deck down a flight of stairs, which I did successfully. The lady next to me did not and proceeded to bust her ass in front of everybody. I found this funny because I am a bad person.

To wrap up a really unnecessarily long race review for a race that I doubt anyone really cares about it is worth mentioning that my oft mentioned girlfriend Nathalie took 3rd place in her age group. It’s incredible that at 70-years-old she is still able to participate in these kind of events. Great job! That’s all folks.

Marathon Mike

Marathon Mondays Week 3: Thursday is basically Monday

Though my commitment to putting out this blog series every Monday has already fallen to the wayside, I am still committed to getting it out weekly. As we all know by now, I would never deign to make an excuse, but if I did I would perhaps put the blame on Florida’s beaches. A man can’t be expected to sit inside and write a weekly blog series that nobody reads when faced with such adversity as trying to stay awake in a lounge chair staring at the ocean. So if you want me to get these out on time, perhaps you should try and contribute to pollution so the beach is too gross for me to relax on. Ball is in your court.

Taking a look at last week, the real challenge was the 30 min tempo run. I posted the workout last blog, but it’s worth repeating that I broke the 30 min tempo into two 15 minute blocks spaced out by a 10 minute recovery. I think I needed to do this because I was moving during the first 15 minutes of the workout, and without that 10 minute recovery I wouldn’t have been able to get moving again for the second round. This was obviously the hardest run of the week, I think the whole run totaled around 8 miles but damn it felt good to get moving like that.

The rest of the week was pretty standard until I got to Florida. Saturday I did my long run of 6 miles, and since I slept in by the time I got started it was a solid 85 degrees and brutally hot. The last 2 miles of that run I literally felt like Mosses wandering the dessert for 40 years. I am sure he would agree our struggle was similar. For the 3-miler on Sunday, me and the ol’ ball-and-chain actually found a local 5k to take our talents too. Race review is hopefully coming tomorrow.

Lets take a look at this week. Since it is already Thursday half my runs are already done, but for the sake of this blog I am just going to power through it. This week starts the increase of the light runs, instead of two 3 mile runs to round out the week, the Tuesday runs are now going to increase every week. This shouldn’t really prove to be an issue, though in a few weeks it might be time to start slowing down all my other physical activities. The workout this week is the same interval/5k pace quarter-mile repeats from Week 1, though every time I do this workout it adds an extra one. Spoiler alert for next week’s blog, it sucked. Either way the workout is posted below. No long run this week, instead I am supposed to race a 5k. I am trying to look for a local one, but if not I will I guess make my own. For the sake of content and my own boredom, I hope I find one.

That about wraps up this week. Having gone from 75 degrees and sunny to 25 degrees and miserable I gotta say I really prefer the the sunny. Ooooo well. Have a good week everybody.

Book Reviews

The Grey Bastards Wrap-up: Half-orcs create full fun

Crushed that subtitle.

In order to begin this bright and glorious new year on the right note I decided the first blog of the year should be this magnificent review of The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French. French Lottana as he is known in certain circles has crafted one of the more (or less?) ambitious worlds that features your standard Tolkein fantasy characters and gives them a Son’s of Anarchy twist. I am sure you are asking how that works and my answer for you is it just does. I am realizing the Lottana joke doesn’t work until you know that the series he is writing is titled The Lot Lands. You can proceed to admire my cleverness now.

I have never watched Son’s of Anarchy, I only mention it because Frenchy does in the beginning of the book, so for the sake of making sense that is the last I will mention it.

This book absolutely excels in the world building, I found it the perfect mix of familiar and engrossing. Jonathan follows the kind of industry standard of fantasy species, he has elves, orcs and humans all of which have some beef. There are centaurs and weird gnome like things too but in terms of main species you got your three right there. What makes this story interesting is the idea of half-breeds, kind of like when Saruman creates the Uruk-hai but in this case you can breed elves and humans with orcs. This creates half-orcs, who as to be expected are smaller then regular orcs but bigger then humans. A big part of the book is that all these half-orcs are products of orcs raping humans or elves, since it doesn’t seem like the other two species ever try and pick up any female orcs. This essentially leads to an entire group of half-orc bastards. Due to the title of this book, can you guess what color they are?

The half-orcs, like many bastards, are unwanted by their unloving fathers and not exactly beloved by the human or elf societies, so they are kind of relegated to living in this barren like land that is a buffer between orc land and human land. Of course orcs living in the barrens is it’s own kind of trope but whatever it works and it is fun. They organize the barrens into different lots which are controlled by various half-orc clans ruled by a clan master.

I feel like Jonathan had so much potential with this story, he creates an awesome world, his characters are well-developed, the history of the inter-species relationships and conflicts are great, and the dialogue is good enough. The only failing is the kind of repetitive plot and sort of predictable ending, but even that to me was quickly overshadowed by the world he creates. I mean it isn’t the most original concept to prevent an orc incursion but here we are. He has a fun writing style and keeps the action moving, which is important because a story like this would start to suffer if it got bogged down in inter-clan politics and other meaningless trifles. He gives just enough backstory to flesh out the world and keep us engaged. Also they all ride supped up warthogs like they are horses and shoot crossbows like they are pistols, which is pretty fucking sick.

All in all a very enjoyable read and an excellent way to kick off 2020. Gotta rate this book as a Chad book. Anything that starts off with a naked half-orc female in a whorehouse fresh off a night of enjoying the house wares shooting a human with a crossbow is headed in the Chad direction. Barely coherent, run-on sentences all year baby.

Marathon Mike

Marathon Mondays Week 2: New year, new me

Nothing I like better then making corny end of the year jokes and ironically saying “New year, new me” with absolutely no intention of changing anything about myself or habits. But as the end of the calendar year approaches, it perhaps is a good time to do zero reflection and only continue to look towards the future. Maybe you thought something sappy was coming, you were wrong.

I mentioned that for this training plan I was going to attempt to push what I was using as my casual running pace in order to try and get faster for this thing. I think that I had a great first week doing that in terms of how fast I ran, the drawback being that my body is feeling it. I know there are a lot of theories from much more accomplished runners and coaches on how hard to go for each workout but I honestly find it difficult to make a conscious effort to pullback or push myself on any given run. So much of it has to do with how I am feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally, so to properly abide by the popular 80/20 intensity ratio seems pretty difficult. The answer to that would be to calculate exactly how fast I need to go for each run, down to the pace-per-mile, but that seems like way to much fucking work or way to expensive to pay someone to come up with that.

Rant on pushing myself over, I want to actually talk about the week. The real challenge was the Wednesday run, which was supposed to be 5 x 400 at 5k pace. I kinda just ran those 400’s like they were intervals, so I basically gunned em as fast as I could. Having not done intervals in a while, this was absolutely brutal. I didn’t get to do any hills, I know the plan doesn’t call for any but this race is in New York City so I need to make some of these runs hill runs. I have time for that. The rest of the week went fine, I was really feeling it on Sunday’s 5-miler, but I had worked out after the run the day before and my legs were sore as hell. In a few more weeks it might be time to cut down on the leg workouts if I want to have any juice left to actually run faster on the longer runs.

Projecting into the future it seems like the only two days that have any variance are the Wednesday workout and the Sunday long run. The Sunday long run goes up a mile, which while not crippling it is worth noting. The workout though is where I am going to struggle. As you can see from the image below, my goal is to break up the tempo run into two 15 minute segments. I don’t honestly think I can keep a good tempo for a full 30 right now, so hopefully this will be a nice way to ease into it.

That about wraps up this weeks half marathon talk so hopefully everyone hit their running goals for 2019 and if they didn’t well there is always next year so don’t beat yourself up.