Marathon Mike

Marathon Mondays Week 16: O crap this is really happening

We have approached the final rendition of the Monday (or Tuesday, or even in this case Wednesday) marathon training blog. If you are reading this for the first time well the context is pretty easy to figure out if you have any type of awareness. Sunday is the TCS New York City Marathon and I will be participating in it. This is my first marathon so I have no idea what to expect. The only thing I know is baring death I will finish it. So if you never see another blog posted on this illustrious site know that I am not resting in piece.

Might as well talk about last week, though at this point the recap is just to put off having to talk about the future. Last week was one of the lower mileage weeks as the taper is in full effect. Tuesday was a murderous tempo run that I thought I flew through. Every single tempo run in this entire plan I have absolutely dreaded, and every single time I finished the tempo portion I have never felt better. There is something about pushing myself that really feels good. This was no exception. Like even if I am bone tired I seem to be able to push it for an extended amount of time. No one may care but if for some reason you see tempo run and think “fuck that,” well try it. Or don’t I do not really give a shit. Word.

The rest of the week was simple. The Wednesday and Thursday runs were easy enough, and the long run went really well. I see that I clipped off the Sunday run in that image but I am not going backwards so I ran five that day as well. Honestly that week felt nice, I did some yoga and flipped unto my ass trying to do a head stand and the instructor laughed. I mean I laughed too so whatever.

Lets talk about this week. Two 5-milers, a 3-miler and a 26.2-miler. The strategy is simple: don’t worry about time and try and have fun. Fun comes second, I didn’t do all this training to fuck around, I plan on finishing this and doing a respectable job. The strategy is going to be very similar to how I was doing those long runs. I will start by hydrating every 5 miles and will continue to try and keep that up as long as possible. I plan on having gel at miles 6, 12, 18, and maybe 24 though that seems like a lot. I do not think I am going to be able to have a little bit of a banana but whatever.

I will be sure to take enough pictures to make a somewhat decent race review but I make no promises. It is kind of hard to write about this the last week because at this point it feels so close that I just want it to happen but instead I am here writing about it. O well.

Final Note: Not really sure how I am getting to the race so there is a chance none of this happens. That is what I get for not selecting transportation when they asked. Go me!

Also I kind of mailed it in on this blog so if for some reason you actually read to the end of it don’t judge me on this try reading another one.

Journey around the Wheel of Time

The Shadow Rising Audiobook Update 1: The start of the rise of a shadow

God damn I did not realize last week I just did a recap of the third book meaning that update 1 for this book has the potential to be absolutely massive. Checking the progress on the audiobook I am a quarter the way through it, which is the not-so-crazy 10 hours to cover. If I am not communicating sarcasm effectively well that is the fault of the reader not the writer.

This book is fucking massive. Sometimes since I typically read things on the Kindle app (no free ads) the size of a book never really crosses my mind. Unless of course it is the Dark Tower, where every book felt like 1,000 pages too long. This book actually is over a 1,000 pages which is insane to think about. This book is also the start of the plot meandering, since Jordan is not exactly known for his brevity. Whatever it has been great so far.

In order to avoid having to write 90,000,000,000 words talking about all the great stuff that happens, I think I will cover two parts. The first is always the introduction. I actually just read that this is the only book without a prologue in the series. Whatever the first chapter is essentially that. We start the book with the ever rare Min POV. Min’s eternal war in subverting gender roles has unfortunately hit a snafu as she must do away with britches and throw on a dress in order to infiltrate the seemingly easy-as-hell to enter White Tower in order to deliver Moiraine’s message from 40 years ago to the Amrylin. I don’t care about those two meeting at all, I just like Gawyn, who she runs into on the way. Bornhold goes to the Two Rivers with ya boy sneaky Ordeith. I also don’t really care about that but I like the part where Ordeith is saying how he hasn’t tortured anyone but later says he was torturing some I think travelling people but they don’t count since no one will even notice. Just found that part funny.

As to some actual action that effects important people. I’m talking the Ta’vern Trio. The Big Three if you will. Rand has started to go low key psycho, and as a result he starts using the one power to “acciedently” try to murder his friends. First off is your boy beared Perrin. See clean-shaven Perrin is a guy you could trust. An offensive lineman who is an all around decent chap. Bearded Perrin is a horned up maniac. First off the guy almost gets killed by his own ax, but fortunately he is able to stop Rand’s attempts at murder. Bearded Perrin fuckksssss, no doubt about that. Ask Faile.

Then the hero of the story is busy hustling some lordling losers in cards like a regular Phil Ivy (that is the only pro poker player I know) when the cards start trying to fight back. Mat has that drip. He is in a fresh new coat, he has a bunch of Tear lords sons eating out the palm of his hand, hes checking out the ladies anddddd he gets that feeling that he is about to make some cash money. Turns out Rand can’t possibly leave him alone and the little pictures on the cards try to murder him. Mat throws knives at the cards, which is a dope defense and saves himself. DRIP.

I guess this forces me to talk about Rand. So Rand is in his chambers when Berelain decides she wants to booty call him. There is not doubt that Berelain is that bitch. She is the First of Mayene, which is a tiny little shit country, but she is also wild hot. I know this because every chance that little horn dog Robert Jordan gets, he talks about her tits and ass. Rand of course is a little bitch boy, so instead of laying down the dragon, he traps her in some air. Maybe he is one of those dudes who gets off on watching naked women be tortured without doing anything? Who knows the levels of Rand’s depravity. Either way, some reflections come out of the mirror and start fighting him. He wins, but the reason behind this is obvious. He had to make it look like he wasn’t trying to activly kill Perrin and Mat so he faked having his reflections try to kill him. Loser.

That about wraps up one fraction of this monstrosity. I think next week I will try and do the battle that takes place in the Stone of Tear. Mainly because it is the easiest subtitle. I also want to do a little deep dive into Mat’s run in with the doorway ter’angreal. Happy Friday!

Final Notes: Since I did not Photoshop an image for this week here is a little bonus. It is supposed to be a picture of Gawyn though I didn’t think much of the original. Also I took the over last night at 41.5. Not even close.

Book Reviews

New Spring Wrap-up: Springing me deeper into the Wheel of Time

Trash subtitle, not a trash book. New Spring is a Wheel of Time novel and serves as a prequel to the Wheel of Time series. One may question what would posses a man who has spent 100+ hours listening to the WoT audiobook series and writing about it weekly to also pick up a prequel book to the series and to that I have a simple answer. I am not a wealthy man and this book was offered by Tor as a free e-book. Being a man that quite enjoys both the WoT and free things, this was a match made in heaven.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that it was quite the mindfuck listening to the audiobooks during my run, I think I was listening to the second or third book when I read this, and later on reading about events that transpired 20ish years prior to the start of the series. Felt like things were hopping around a lot.

So this book follows some of the best characters in the WoT series, Moiraine (I think I actually spelled her name right on the first try) and ya boyyyyyyy Lan Mandragoran. Set twenty years before we are introduced to fuckwad Rand, the book opens up with the oft mentioned Aiel War wrapping up. It’s funny I just listened to a part of The Shadow Rising where both Gaul and Lan are in the same room and they both have a mutual dislike for each other and it is obvious that the Aiel remember Lan whipping their asses in the war. We rarely see Lan as an actual battlefield commandeer so him strategizing and leading men was a great opener. There is a part where some lord requests for Lan to be the anvil in a hammer and anvil type trap on a group of Aiel and Lan agrees, despite having a feeling that the hammer is never going to show. So when questioned about it Lan says something along the lines of “I gave my word so I will stick to it.” Badass. I should go look for the quote but I won’t, read the book if you want it.

We get introduced to Moiraine and Siuan when they are Accepted. They are serving as cup bearers to the current Amyrlin, Tamra, when Gitara, who is the Keeper of the Stole, has a god damn seizure and croaks out a prophesy that the Dragon has been reborn. She then abruptly dies, which is kind of funny. Moiraine and Siuan vow to find and protect the Dragon without letting anyone know what they are doing. The Amyrlin tries to track down the Dragon by offering money to anyone who pushed out a kid in the last week, and the two collect all the possible candidates in a list. This list becomes their own personal quest. They wind up getting raised to Aes Sedai and set out to start tracking down kids.

Lan on the other hand is in a little bit of a pickle. Returning from war, he realizes this old milf he used to sleep with has tried to raise the Golden Crane while he has been gone. Not pleased with this he decides to track her down. He meets, you guessed it, Moiraine on the way and the two begin an adveserial relationship.

When they get to the city of Chachin some stuff happens with the Black Ajah and stuff. Having spoiled 60% of the book I won’t ruin the ending.

Many lovely people of Reddit question if this book should be read before one begins the WoT. While that would make it a nice number of 15 books, the answer is an emphatic NO. Reading this book contains massive spoilers for the series as you know the driving forces behind Lan and Moiraine’s actions. This severely takes away from the mystery and intrigue of those two characters, as well as spoiling a whole bunch of stuff about the Dragon. If you go into book one having read this, it takes away a lot of the fun. Save this for after, as a nice reminder of how great the series is. If the idea of reading a prequel novel after reading a masssssive 14 book series is too much for you, give it some time and come back to it.

I rate this book:

Marathon Mike

Marathon Mondays Week 15: The calm before the storm

Not really sure what I am going to do to replace this Monday series after this is all said and done but with just one more blog to write after this one maybe I should focus on the task ahead. The title of this blog says it all, with two weeks left until race day this is the time to really focus on making sure my legs will function properly come time. At this point I am delirious with running, it has consumed my every waking moment. I wake up sore as hell, whether it is my calves twitching like a addict in withdrawal, my lower back feeling like I spent the previous day carrying overpriced textbooks I never planned on reading around campus, or my hips feeling like I just finished shooting an adult film, my shit hurts. Those were some A+ analogies.

Week 14 on paper did not seem to be the worst thing, in practice it felt horrible. The week started off with some solid intervals, as I previously mentioned I was going to do 2 minute intervals and I did. 2 minute intervals are god damn torture. Maybe that is why last week sucked, I don’t think I ever truly recovered from the intervals. Moving on to what should have been a nice easy 4-miler. If you were in the tri-state area on Wednesday, you may remember the tsunami. I ran in that. NEXT. Thurday was actually not too terrible I ran with my favorite running partner (that would be my gf, yes a blogger who reads fantasy books can have one of those), and Friday was of course the greatest day of all. I’m talking hills! Also hit the gym Friday night not to brag or really just show how little I have going on in my life that I can work out twice in a day, on a Friday no less. I promise I have a 9-5 job. I also so Post Malone Tuesday night. Not like I saw him while I was out, I paid money to see him preform. No real reason to include that in this but here you go.

The long run physically was difficult in the sense that I felt as if my body was already starting off sore. I didn’t do legs at the gym, but my body felt as if it was stiff and it never really seemed to loosen up. Fortunately my mental game seems to be on track, I just listened to my audiobook and knocked it out. No gels or anything, just a quick pit stop at the water fountain around mile 8.

Looking at this week there really isn’t much to talk about. The 6-mile tempo run tomorrow will probably be the most difficult thing I have to overcome, and since that is in the beggining of the week at least I will get that out the way. I am taking off today, and while I have a day off on thursday, I think it is crucial to get in a yoga class. The long run of the week is 8 miles, so no real challenge there.

Wrapping up this whiny ass blog it really hasn’t hit me that this training is almost at an end. I am not one to get wrapped up in the moment so it still doesn’t feel like I will be running the marathon in two weeks. As someone who had always had ‘running a marathon’ on his bucket list or whatever you want to call it, I am surprised that the buildup hasn’t broken me mentally. Perhaps running those crazy long training runs, and slowly building up to this distance has just made it seem like a tangible goal as oppoosed to a pipe dream. Who knows maybe I will freak out next week. Lets get after it.

Final Notes: For your own mental sanity please don’t ever watch nor bet on the Giants. Shurmer calling a draw on 3rd and a million when we needed to convert that first down to keep the games hope alive has haunted me since yesterday. Also the decision to take the ball out of the end zone after the Cardinals field goal and not just take the touch back, essentially negating using the two minute warning as a time-out was one of the worst time management coaching decisions I have ever seen. So bad.

Book Reviews

Port of Shadows Wrap-up

I have fallen very behind once again on reviewing the books I have been reading and almost forgot all about this one. Which would have been a shame because I am a huge fan of both Glen Cook and his masterpiece series The Black Company. Widely considered by every blog and fantasy book site to be the father of the Grimdark sub-genre, Port of Shadows is a worthy edition to the series. Despite what stupid ass reviewers think. People just love to hate.

To be fair I thought Cook was dead so it’s good to see that is not true. Congrats on being alive bro.

On Goodreads they have this book listed as Book #1.5 which I guess puts it between books 1 and 4. It is not exactly clear to me the timeline of the book, but than again the timelines for any of the books are not exactly linear. Honestly the beauty of these books is that they just go from spot to spot with absolutely no time explaining things. From the first time the company fights a werewolf thing in the opening chapter of book one I was hooked so I might be a little skewed in all things Black Company. Actually I just looked it up (despite my commitment to no research) and this book takes place between The Black Company and Shadows Linger.

This book has not been well received. The reasons for this seem to fall into two categories, the first is that it has a lot of contradictions that don’t mesh well with the rest of the lore and history of the series. The second is that there is a plot device that Cook uses involving the characters losing their memories of the events taking place in the book, which conveniently allows this book to fit in between books 1 and 2 without ever being mentioned in any of the later books. Sure that is not the most original concept nor is it great to have conflicting lore but as I mentioned the beauty of these books are that they are super confusing and the details are murky. The individual story itself is a ton of fun and fits in well with the style of the series.

Port of Shadows has two separate story lines. The first is a flashback to the time of the Dominator, where we follow a necromancer who has an obsession with trying to bring back dead girls to I guess replace his dead daughter. This story line is cool as hell, the girl he revives happens to be a Senjak sister that got raped by a bunch by the Dominator’s guards and disposed off. Here is where the details conflict, we have no idea who the sister is supposed to be but whatever. The Howler and another Senjak sister, probably either The Lady or Soulcatcher (all time villain btw) attempt to rescue the sister and the Senjak girl gets captured. The necromancer bolts with the two girls and creates a kind of fortress in the world and of course bangs the dead girl eventually, starting a breeding farm of Senjak clones.

The other story line follows the Black Company who are in service to The Lady and are posted in the city/town of something I honestly can’t remember. Their goal is to root out the rebel group called the Resurrectionists who are trying to, you know, resurrect the Dominator. They capture a sorceress known as Tides Elba, who looks remarkably like the Lady. As they continue to root out rebels they keep finding more girls that look like Tides Elba, now known as the Taken Mischievous Rain. The people in these books have the coolest names. Eventually this leads to an underwhelming confrontation at the fortress from the other story line, and we find out that the girls have been breed in order to open up the Port of Shadows, which is supposed to bring back the Dominator.

I hate writing summaries of books as you can kind of tell, because I would much rather talk about things I liked and disliked. It just is hard to talk about things without at least summarizing the book somewhat. I thouroughly enjoyed the creativity of Cook in this book. Sick rhyme. Like the necromancer thing was so engrossing, just the obsession of this creepy old diddler experimenting and essentially creating a self-sustaining castle through his cloning was interessting and made a lot of sense in terms of the overall plot. You could kind of tell from the beggining that eventually the clones the Black Company kept finding were this revived girl, but that seemed intentional. The way the Black Company is organized and their relationship with the Taken is always a fun read. Mischievous Rain was equal parts awesome and a sympathetic character. It is such a cool concept that The Lady transforms these people, who may or may not have opposed her, into her minions. Also One Eye is the best.

Read this if you like The Black Company. Don’t complain about it. Also I finally figured out a simple way to rate books. Books are only going to be rated on the widely academically accepted Virgin/Chad scale. If you want an absolutely hilarious Reddit post on this read below.

Journey around the Wheel of Time

The Dragon Reborn Audiobook Wrap-up

Feels like years ago but I have reached the end of The Dragon Reborn. In truth I reached the end of the audiobook one day after my last write up, which makes remembering all this stuff quite the challenge. No challenge is too great for the number one audiobook fantasy blogger of The Wheel of Time so lets get after it.

I would like to talk about the ending because it is super boring. As you can guess since their are other books in this series, the good guys win. Though I deeply question at this point if Rand al’Chore is even a good guy. I call him Rand al’Chore because I feel like it is a chore to have to listen to anything involving him. Cue the joke drums.

Rand seizes Callandor and defeats one of the foresaken. Honestly it is kind of unclear who he actually defeats because he believes he smoked Ba’alzamon but he is of course a dumbass and is wrong. The giant magic fights at the end of the books are easily the most boring part. Through this second run of the Wheel of Time I have a much greater appreciation for Moiraine. She is ruthless, her entire plan was basically to just run up on Be’lal and use this crippling balefire that she knows the consequences of using and hope that she gets him. If not than shes fucked and will die. And you know what, it works.

As for the book overall, I found the third book to be much better than the previous two. We are done with kind of creating the world and developing the the basics of the characters, instead we get to actually work on the story. The lack of Rand chapters is also a major plus. But on a more serious note these books are best when the characters are less focused on the intricacies of the one power and are interacting with the world around them. Jordan does such an excellent job of introducing characters and people that make these interactions so enjoyable.

Some of the hightlights of this book I have talked about at length, though if I had to pick a favorite it would be when Perrin and Gaul massacre all those whitecloaks. Such a solid read, you can go back to my blog on that if you want a deep dive into it. Actually thinking about it, it seems like a majority of my favorite parts of these books involve the Aiel. I kind of remember them getting super annoying later on but for now I enjoy them. Also Mat coming back to basically life is amazing. On to The Shadow Rising!

Final Notes: So I think that I have to cancel Mat’s Money Makers blog series because it clearly is a curse. Took the Chiefs last night at -3 and they covered. It seems like destiny

Marathon Mike

Marathon Mondays Week 14: Taper time!

For some reason in my mind I am celebrating the start of the taper like this is the end of the road and the race is already over. Stupid but I can’t help it. Last week was an absolute beast and from purely time management standpoint the start of the taper will make my life infinity easier. That is not to say it will be easy, the point is to try and get some juice back into my zombie legs but still maintain some fitness.

Last week beat me like I was the Giants secondary. The 10-mile tempo run was brutal, I mean a 10-mile run in general is no walk in the park but the pace changing was torture. I thought it went well, I mean I was kind of rushing it because I was trying to the see The Joker but my watch got messed up and I wound up feeling like I needed to run a little extra. The tempo itself was fast, doing a quick mile 5 separate times really pushed me. To follow that up with a nice 8-miler the next day was death.

As for the other two runs, I almost didn’t know what to do with myself on the day off, Friday’s run came around and I felt great. Kept the pace night and light, ending with 4 rounds of strides, which entailed a pushed pace for 30 seconds followed by a 1:30 minute recoverary. Helped with staying loose.

The obvious beast was the 22-mile monster. I ran it Saturday, which was good because it was a nice cloudy 60 degrees when I started. The run went smoothly, I did a 14-mile loop followed by an 8-mile loop. Took the goo at mile 6, a quarter of a banana at mile 14 and another goo thing at mile 18. Hydrated at miles 7, 14 and 19. No real outlying difficulties besides overall pain in my entire being. My knees were hurting but nothing crippling. I thought I kept a solid enough pace, I mean it was a lot slower than some of my other training runs but I wasn’t too concerned. I listened to almost 4 straight hours of the audiobook though so expect Friday’s blog to be a monster. Having to run 6 miles the next day fucking sucked though. O well it’s in the past now.

Lets take a look at the upcoming week. The big runs are 8 and 14 miles, don’t really anticipate much of an issue with either of them. The 14-miler I might try and push the pace just to get used to running a little harder. Prob not though. The workouts are a 6-mile interval and a 4-mile hill run. Hill run will be the most fun of the week. Well that is all I got. Stay in school.