Reunited

and it feels so good.

It Has Been a Long Time, Friend

My waffle iron broke a couple months ago.  Catastrophe.  Perry only eats about 6 things and waffles is one of the healthiest ones.  I got my new waffle maker on Friday.  This weekend it was like watching 2 long lost lovers finding each other again.  A beautiful sight.

The Blue

is it’s own entity here in Boise.  As game time approached last night, we drove to Matt’s work to park the car at Albertson’s and walk to the Albertson’s stadium (LOVE that Matt’s company bought the naming rights to BSU’s stadium).  The sea of orange and blue emerged from every nook and cranny filled the sidewalks and streets, all heading to one place… to cheer on the Broncos.  We knew we were going to be Broncos fans before moving here.  How could you not?  Broncos rule Boise.  Last night was the perfect night to go, not too hot, not too cold, not too early, not too late.

At first all the kids were truly excited about was pigging out on stadium junk food.  I can’t blame them, it was always a fun part for me too.

When Do We Get Our Food?!?

Even Perry was content with soft pretzels and m&ms.  He did so great, I was shocked at how we got through the WHOLE game and did not have to leave super early.

Orange Orange Everywhere Orange

But after everyone’s bellies were full and sweet tooth had been satisfied, they really got into it.  It was hard not to be excited.  You are in an energized crowd.  A happy crowd, which is so different from a lot of games we had attended in Pittsburgh or Chicago.  No one is screaming profanities at the players when they lose the ball or raging because the ref made a call against our Broncos.  Sure there were “Boos” to the refs on some calls, but my lord the chanting you would here at Steeler games when a bad play or call occurred was embarrassing.  Pittsburghers are passionate, but this crowd was just as passionate about the game.  The kids really couldn’t help but cheer along (as you can see Cale in the background…)

Go Boise Go Boise

Our favorite cheers were 1. the guy behind us cheering “Go Boise Go Boise” every 10 seconds and 2. the announcer saying, “And that’s another Broncos…” and we responded “1ST DOWN!!!”  We even got some pom poms at the 4th quarter.

We sat in the North End Zone, the cheapy seats and the party zone.  Definitely some wafts of weed were detected and many painted faces observed.  A great view of the first half as the Broncos scored at our end a couple times, not as good of a view of the second half as they worked their way down to the other end of the field.  But “the blue” turf was as cool in person as it is own television.  At one point the sky matched the field…

The Blues Match

A Full Year Later

Congratulations Marathoners

One year ago I ran my first (and only to date) marathon.  Yesterday I watched runners completing that same marathon down the streets of Chicago.  It fueled my long run for the day.  It is always exciting to watch other runners doing what we love.  You can see the dedication on their faces and in the churning of their legs.  Especially in a marathon, you are witnessing their bodies doing what it has been trained to do over and over again.  It is almost automatic.  It doesn’t FEEL automatic for a great portion of the race, but as a spectator you can almost see all the training runs that runner has put in.

After the excitement came a bit of sadness.  I realized that it has been a full year since I have raced.  No half marathons, no 10Ks, not even a fun 5K.  I don’t consider myself much of a racer.  Racing is a separate skill from running.  There is strategy, precision, and competitiveness that all goes into being a good racer.  I don’t have any of those.  I haven’t raced enough to know what strategy works for me, pacing is still a major goal, and I’m really not driven, as some, competitively.  That being said, I didn’t choose to be raceless this last year.  If it was my choice maybe it wouldn’t have felt so bad, but because I couldn’t race it felt really horrible to think a year has passed.

I was raceless because my body gave out after Chicago.  I was spent.  Drained.  On empty.  Mentally I had dedicated years towards training without much of a break.  I was constantly pushing every run.  I was seeing the joy I got from running sliding into the background and sitting in the shadows, as the “I have to…” runs became the regular.

Physically, I was even more broken.  My iron stores (or my ferritin) levels were VERY low.  Despite my doctor feeling it was at the low end of normal, I could FEEL that it was not at all normal.  Even more telling my performance was suffering when I tried to run.  I couldn’t maintain my usual pace.  The tendons in my feet were still healing and sore.  My hamstring was the worst of it all.  It hurt on every run and it gave me no power to drive forward.  Then my hips began to hurt.  My body was failing me.

At least that’s what I started to think.  Until I realized I was failing my body.  I was not respecting all the work my body did day in and day out.  My body would carry me through 60+ miles a week, yet I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t run all those miles at my marathon pace or faster.  My body had just plowed through a marathon in pretty quick time for a newcomer, yet I did not allow for rest.  My body would endure double runs that I scheduled several days a week, yet I never slotted extra sleep in the morning to help with recovery and repair.  Sure, I would have my rest day, but one rest day was not going to help me if 6 other days I was slamming my body to its limits.

Finally, it began to crash.  And I woke up and took notice as to why it was crashing.  Ever since I saw my tower beginning to collapse, I vowed to respect my body.  Now providing myself not just a full diet, but also the supplements I need to keep things healthy.  I promised to take easy days easy.  EVERY single training plan does not tout easy days, yet not mean to actually take it easy.  I am not beyond what even the professionals runners do (THEY DO EASY RUNS!).  Pulling back takes as much effort sometimes as drilling myself into the ground.  And it takes courage.  It takes knowing that running slower does not mean I am losing fitness or not a “insert race and race time here (i.e. 1:35 half marathon…)” runner.  I need to have confidence that those runs are actually what benefits me AS MUCH as the fast tempos and speed sessions and long runs.  While I wish I could have back the time I had to take off from running, I wouldn’t give up some of the lessons I had learned in that process.  I truly believe I am a better runner (be it faster or slower…) because of it.

Congratulations to all the runners who ran Chicago yesterday!  You made me smile and reflect, yet again, on what last year’s Chicago marathon taught me.

The Harrison Classic

The North End was rated one of the 10 best neighborhoods in 2008.  Harrison Blvd. is a main component of that.  We live in the foothills of the North End.  Just a 5 minute bike ride to Harrison Blvd.  When the kids were excited to participate in the Harrison Classic, a one mile kids only run that goes down Harrison Blvd, I was ecstatic!  Running, close to home, and a beautiful environment?  Win-win-win.  Kids had a great time, minus a few sour grapes attending the race.  They participated all by themselves.  I was so happy for them to run all on their own.

Take Off Brodie!

Marley, Marley, Marley!!

Go Cale!

Lifting

Weights


Disclosure: This post has NOTHING at all to do with lifting weights.  The title just inspired this picture.  It does have everything to do with running… please read Warning below.

Warning: If you do not run and/or have absolutely no interest in running this post may be extremely boring to you (it may also be boring to those interested in running).* *However, much of what I blog about is boring and you are back to read more, so press on…

 

I came across this quote this week

“You can tell who the strong women are. They’re the ones building each other up, not tearing each other down.”

I think you could replace “women” with “people”.  Lord knows I have experienced both men and women that want to tear you down, as well as build you up.

A lot of tearing down was seen in the running community because of the B.A.A. cut off (must be 1:02 under your BQ) for the 2015 marathon.  Almost 2000 qualifiers did not get a spot in the race.  I am the first to say I would have been devastated, crushed even, were I to have missed that cut off.  But would I have questioned the B.A.A.’s clearly spelled out rules or cut other runners down?

I don’t think so.

I guess I don’t know fully unless I am in that spot, but I knew my BQ was just a chance to get a bib for the race.  I had read the qualification process that the B.A.A. posts on their website.  I knew exactly what happens during the weeks of registration for the Boston marathon.  I knew it well before I ran Chicago as my qualifying race.

Having it laid before me, I set my goals.  When I set race goals I always set 3 goals.  1- “no doubt” goal, 2- “real world” goal, 3- “fuck ya” goal.  I, then, set my training to reach that “fuck ya” goal.  For Chicago, my “no doubt” goal was to get to the race healthy, my “real world” goal was to BQ (3:40), and my “fuck ya” goal was to BQ -5 minutes (to be 5 minutes under my BQ cut off).  As the B.A.A. explains, those with -20min+, -10min, and -5min under the BQ times get earlier registration.  Then it opens to the squeakers, those of us just making that BQ cut off.  It is a totally fair process for a race that is all about the fastest runners running it.  So I trained to run at least a 3:34:59.

When I qualified with -1:38 under my BQ I knew it was close.  I knew there was no guarantee.  In fact if the topic of qualifying ever arose I made sure to tell people that it didn’t guarantee me a spot.  I knew that for 2014 the exact cut off was 1:38.  I would have REALLY squeaked into that one.  My hope was that some of the popularity of wanting to run Boston would wane as time passed after the bombings.  Luckily, I was right.

But some people who either don’t take the time to understand the process or don’t have the intellect to understand the process got upset about the B.A.A.’s way of fairly filling the race spots.  These are a few of the arguments I have heard about why the qualification system and the registration process are unfair:

  1. Charity spots take away the qualifier spots.  Wrong.  Charity spots are separate spots.  Most people who fill these spots did not quality for Boston to begin with.  That means their running pace is significantly slower than the large pack of runners.  That means it is SAFE to add them to the pool of runners.  They will not be adding 4000 runners in the 6-8 min/mile runner group.  The B.A.A. and city of Boston have to ensure that those running the race have a safe environment.  Too many runners would not make for a safe environment.  Congestion can lead to trampling.  The B.A.A. also commented that they want to continue the tradition of their racers having an amazing experience.  Regardless of whether I made the cut off or not, I wouldn’t want to FINALLY make it to Boston, only to be packed like sardines and unable to reach pace until miles into the race because there were so many runners.  I love that the B.A.A. is protective over this race that people are so passionate about.  That protectiveness is why the race is still around and still so sought after.  Besides why try to end a REALLY good cause that raises over $10 million a year for charities.
  2. Young males are at a disadvantage, tighten up the older standards.  Before age 45, the time standards give you an extra 5 min per 5 year age groups.  So, right now I needed a 3:40 to qualify in the 35-39 age group.  Upon entering the masters division and turning 40, I get 5 more minutes and will need 3:45 to qualify.  Then at age 45, I get 10 minutes added on to my standard (3:55).  Some say this is unfair to the younger runners.  All you need to do is look at a chart on how average runners show marked decline (7% per decade starting at 40) in their pace as they age.  The young runners that feel so disadvantaged now, will feel even more disadvantaged when they are 45 and still not able to make their time.  And then they probably will be complaining that the standards need to be loosened up for their age bracket.
  3. Females have too much of a qualifying difference from their male counterparts.  This one aggravates me to no end.  It is usually said by someone who has no idea what they are talking about.  Usually said by someone who looks at the average elite male marathon time (about 2:05) and the average elite female time (about 2:20) and think ‘Oh, a 15 minute difference.  So, it should be a 15 minute difference across the field.’  They fail to understand that 15 minute difference at that fast pace is a 15% detriment that females have to their male peers.  When you look at elite (and average runners) finish times across all age divisions this 15% gender difference is consistent.  So, what does a 15% detriment look like for the average runner in my age group?  Well, if 35-39 yr old males are expected to run 3:10, 15% of that is 28.5 minutes (making 35-39 females average 3:38.5).  That seems pretty damn close to the 3:40 I am expected to run.  If you do the reverse and take my 3:40 BQ time and look at 85% (discounting the 15% gender differential) you end up with 3:07.  So a few minutes with one calculation benefitting males, a few minutes using a different calculation benefitting females… it all evens out.  The same is true for the other age groups, by the way.  Let me close by saying, women would LOVE to be able to compete fully with their male peers and try and kick some ass.  Unfortunately our muscle, fat, and skeletal make up just doesn’t quite allow that.
  4. Standards need to be cut again across the board.  Hmmm… I am not opposed to this one, but I don’t quite understand what this would solve?  Those who were a minute under are still not going to make their cut off.  Unless they train harder and run faster, which would get them a spot anyway.   In 2013 the standards were raised by 5 minutes across the board, regardless of age or gender.  There was a lot of hoopla at that time about cutting times.  I am sure these runners, complaining and wanting stricter cut offs now, were complaining back then that the cut offs made it too difficult.  Complainers seem to complain.  I find it pretty good that the B.A.A. standards are within a minute of the times that, ultimately, filled the race.  I know one minute is a long time in racing, but getting it that close and filling the race is pretty great.  Remember, the B.A.A. needs to make sure they do fill the race and that it is still prestigious and exciting and an accomplishment.  If it weren’t, would “running Boston” be a goal?  Probably not.

I have to say that most runners, who didn’t make the cut off, gracefully, yet sadly, accepted their position and vowed to get that extra minute in order to run Boston 2016.  For those that are upset, think more of yourself than to put other runners down.  You got cut.  It SUCKS.  I can’t say I truly know how you feel, but I had placed myself in your spot hypothetically before I got acceptance (hence this letter to myself).  It felt like crap.  I couldn’t believe that I ran as hard as I did and still possibly didn’t get in.  I felt like I didn’t know if I would ever get my chance again.  But I would have used that to fuel my next training.  I knew I could do it. And you can to.  Let your running community lift you up and encourage you to push harder.  In turn, use your time to lift others up instead of spending it breaking others down.  Be a light in this world, not a shadow.

Pizza and Wing Night

is beloved by all.  For Marley, Brodie and Cale it’s Matt’s homemade wings that bring on the smiles.  Well, those wings and the pop they get to have with dinner.

For Matt, he likes the wings AND the pizza.  AND the pop.

For Perry and I we are all about the pizza.  Perry is strictly a cheese pizza kinda guy.  We buy dough from the co-op…

Dough Ball

I like to mix up what I put on my pizza.  I have a current addiction to sundried tomatoes.

New Addiction

For last night’s pizza it was a white garlic and olive oil pizza with mozzarella, sundried tomatoes, spinach, and chicken.

Toppings

Most of this made it on the pizza, but I do have some leftover for a delicious omelet later this week.  This pizza was so good that I can hardly wait…

Sundried and Spinach White Pizza