Tuesday, December 29, 2009

First run with Harrison... first run with Galloway...

Around the beginning of the summer I found myself having a few beers over at my friend Harrison's house. It's a very social place and one learns very quickly that if you're lucky enough to be hanging out at the Harrison's there are two rules. 1.) you will probably drink too much and 2.) if Mrs. Harrison offers you food, don't be a fool. Eat it! No matter what, it'll be good!

So as I was saying, I found myself drinking at the Harrisons. The conversation somehow got off on running, marathon running to be exact. Then to my amazement both the Harrisons started talking about how they plan to train and run this little marathon called Disney Marathon on Jan. 10th, 2010. A little taken back I was fucking shocked at this as neither Mr. nor Mrs. Harrison* are avid runners. A few more beers and I stood up in front of a modest large ** crowd of friends and proclaimed that "I TOO SHALL RUN THE DISNEY MARATHON!" I mean seriously, 2010 is a LONG ways away, right?

The next day I woke up, slightly hung over, grabbed the cell phone, called Harrison and asked, "did I really say I would run a marathon last night?" His response was simple and in a matter-of-fact tone of voice all I heard was, "yes you did... you sure did!"

Here we are only days away from Jan. 10th, 2010 (not so far away now) and after having my training scheduled FUBAR'ed by a nagging Achilles tendon injury I've gone from Plan A to Plan B to Plan C to Plan WHATEVER. The one thing I know is I will run this race and I will run another marathon at a later date to get the proper training experience once I'm completely healed.

So onward to Plan WHATEVER. The best I can say right now is after months of training and countless conversations about our injuries (Harrison has struggled with shin splints, minor Achilles pain and a few other problems) that we will both attempt to run this Marathon together with the understanding that we can leave each other at anytime to finish or get a better time.

We came up with this idea and then we realized we have never run together. It's very ironic because early on I would ask and pester Harrison to go for a run with me, but he would always find a reason to decline my offers, for fear that I was too fast for him. In recent months I've run very little being injured and I'm glad to say Harrison's confidence has made leaps and bounds. Now I am the run finding reasons not to run with him for fear I am too slow. Finally, we decided to do a long run together to serve a couple purposes. First, to see if we can run together at all and second, to see how his running style "Galloway," jives with me as I've never attempted the run walk run walk training style.

During the Holiday Halfathon I was forced to walk a lot of Mile 8 because of annoying cramps. This allowed my legs to get cold and caused them to ache upon starting to run again and that led to further cramps in my calves. My muscles aren't used to stopping and starting back up again. Harrison assured me that if I started walking earlier and for shorter amounts of time that I'd actually feel stronger down the stretch. What the hell, I'll try anything once!

On Sunday we set out for our long runs. The air temperature was 55 degrees. I decided for a short sleeve tech shirt, shorts, normal socks, a beanie and some light weather gloves. I plotted out a route on MapMyRun that fit both our needs; 10-12 miles for me and 20 miles for Harrison. Me being the genius that I am, I'm not going to attempt 20 miles until Marathon day (note: that was a statement of sarcasm about being a genius).

We set out a little goofy. I lunged ahead of Harrison for a few steps then slowed down only to lay chase as he sped up to match me. About 50 feet later we were pacing the same. I asked if this was the correct pace and he agreed that it's a "good pace." It felt slow to me, but I was prepared to go slow rather than my faster "pretend I'm not injured" pace. Another thing to note is I totally forgot my watch. I'm such a failure when it comes to timing my runs. I guess time isn't as important to me as others. According to the more responsible Harrison, who remembered his watch, we started our first walk around 13 minutes. The entire run went this way; run for 10-15 minutes and then walk for 1-2 minutes. At first it seemed very ridiculous. I wasn't even sweating and I didn't feel warmed up and we were already walking? After an hour of this my legs felt great. Time was flying by and I was truly enjoying our conversation. I hate doing long runs alone. I really think all long runs should be accompanied by a good conversation pal. Since the temperature was colder than I've ever experienced on a long run (yes, I'm used to Hades and our 80+ degree weather before the sunrises most of the year) I found that I did not sweat very much at all, but still forced myself to take a couple of Gu gels and even had to use the bathroom once (a rare occasion for me well into a long run).

Overall the run was excellent. We had one scare while trying to run along side each other on a narrow sidewalk. Harrison slipped off the shoulder of the sidewalk and almost twisted his ankle, but he was fine and we continued on to better running conditions such as a boardwalk and a little bit of the beach with the wind at our backs. I decided to end my run at 11.65 miles, which took us about 2 hours and 8 minutes according to Harrison's watch. John hashed onward and I drove ahead providing two additional water stops for him before he finished 20-miles. He is so ready for Disney and I'm so proud of him. He's come so far since that night of beer drinking at the beginning of the summer. I feel like I'm ready as well and could have easily gone 20-miles with him using his running method, but with only 2-weeks until the marathon I decided to be cautious and not risk further injury.

I can honestly say this was the slowest-best long run of my life. If there is going to be a way to finish the Disney Marathon completely unprepared like I am without injuring myself this plan is it. Plan Whatever with a bit of Jeff Galloway! Hey Disney.... Bring it!

*Mrs. Harrison, bless her heart, had to drop out of the training program due to poor knees.
** You guys have no clue how stoked I am to finally figure out how to do the strike through line!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Hitting the trails in Gainesville

Ahhhhh Gainesville. So many memories, so many stories. It's hard to believe that it's been a decade since I lived in this small, yet big, college town surrounded by what I like to call "real Florida," or otherwise known as the north central part of the state that tends to be more "southern" than the Hispanic dominated south Florida or the Yankee dominated coastlines. It's amazing that my college memories during my years at the University of Florida seem to be primarily limited to parties, football games, friends and a few bars, some of which no longer exists, but the parks, natural environment, recreation areas and outdoor activities are nothing but a void. I guess I had a few too many beers back in the day.

Nevertheless, I'm happy to say that last week I got to experience a small slice of this town that I'm actually a little ashamed of never taking advantage of while I was a resident party animal. The San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park, located just north of Gainesville off C.R. 232, is absolutely beautiful. It's about 6,900 acres of trails accommodating hikers, bicyclist and equestrians. The Dietitian and I planned out a 4.5 mile run, turned 5-miler (we got temporarily confused), along the Cellon Creek Loop, which is described as "traversing both sides of Cellon Creek as it winds through rolling terrain and across small jog jumps. This is a 4-mile intermediate level trail."

It was a crisp morning as the air temperature was in the upper 40s. This would be my first trail run since before injuring my Achilles tendon in September. Not really knowing how to dress for running in cold weather (we're used to running in 90+ degrees down here in Florida) I opted for a long sleeve Under Armor Heat Gear top, running shorts and some wool snowboarding socks. The dietitian wore a long sleeve tech shirt, long running pants and gloves.

The trail was super fun right away. Unlike some of the trails I run around New Smyrna Beach, this area of Florida has very little palmetto plants and palm trees. There's less under growth in the hammock making for better visibility. Less palm trees mean more oak and pine trees and other hardwoods. The trail was heavy with gnarly roots protruding chaotically here and there on the trail requiring constant attention to every step. This dodging of the roots works the core muscles so much more than a regular run on pavement. I love it! The ground is laden with leaves. So much so that extra care must be taken not to slip. The leaves also have the tendency to cover up and hide one of the gnarly roots just waiting to twist an ankle, but this is what I define as trail running!

About halfway through the trail we realize that we're not on the trail. We've been chatting up a storm and totally not paying attention. It's a good thing the Dietitian knows the area because I'm completely lost and would otherwise have to pull out some Bear Grylls knowledge to get us back on track. We double back and find our way back on the trail. About a mile later we're chatting away again making a bunch of noise while I hear a loud shuffle ahead. At first I think some mountain bikers are headed our way and then appearing out of nowhere two deer jump right in front of us not but 20 feet away! They're both doe. Figures that the one time I leave the camera in the truck, this happens! They stop and watch us run by and I sense little fear from them, unlike the deer found in the woods around my home that are more accustomed to hunters shooting at them. Awesome.

Right around the 4-mile mark we emerge into a huge grassy field rolling with small Florida "hills" that reminds me somewhat to other areas of the south like Alabama. The last mile skirts the tree line just within the woods but keeping visibility of the field before we arrive back at the parking area. The run was great. My company was even better. My Achilles tendon spoke to me a little, but did not complain in the hours and days after the run so I'm giving myself a big SUCCESS on this trail run and look forward to visiting the preserve again on future trips to good old Gainesville!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

TallGuySurfing wishes everyone a Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

Mr. T Wiggles a.k.a. Sir Tucker the Labradoodle wishes everyone a woof woof Christmas as well...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Thursday Stoke!

Merry Christmas Eve!!!!

Wishing the best for the entire Blogsphere! Here's a few Christmas wishes.

M-istletoe, may I find myself under some with a special someone...
E-pic Waves, for Easy Tom, Vancity Allie and Christian...
R-ecords, as in PRs for Redhead Running, Spike, B.o.b. & Lisa...
R-incon baby! Puerto Rico... I'll see you again in a few weeks...
Y-ou know you want some tasty Christmas food. Forget training and indulge...

C-ompletion, as in goal completion for the Redhead and Operation Jack...
H-anging ten, as in lots of noseriding in 2010...
R-aces, lots of races in 2010 including Muddy Buddy, Bay to Breakers and maybe Seattle...
I-njury Free, for myself and everyone else dealing with injuries right now...
S-eventeen days until Disney. Good luck to me, Harrison, Lucy, Julie, Jessica and Melissa...
T-ibialis, as posterior tibialis or a new one for Frayed Laces. That girl is inspirational...
M-any more posts from the Beginning Runner's Blog, that girl's humor cracks me up...
A-wesomeness stoked out positive karma all around...
S-well, as in fun swell waves for Wiffleboy, Surfsister, JY, Mick and Holly!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Thursday Stoke!

Check out these epic waves!

Yes, I'm stoked about the amazing everyone-at-work-thinks-I'm-at-a-lunch-appointment-but-I'm-really-surfing-with-my-bros surfing session we had at the inlet on Tuesday!

It's Thursday and I'm still stoked!

You can clearly see in the picture above the super glassy, chest to head high peelers that were rolling in out in the background behind my 9'8" Anderson noserider!

Or perhaps not. There was a rumor in town that the surf was really fun. Only one obvious problem.... due to the fog you just had to paddle out and find out for yourself.

Text messages are great when you're friends with a lot of surfers. If there's good swell in the water your phone will start blowing up with messages of wacky named surf spots, wave information and sometimes unintelligible jibber-jabber that only surfers "get." Tuesday was one of those days. It started at dawn, about 7 a.m., as my phone sounded off. It was Dees. He's already at the beach. He can hear the surf, but not see it. There's no wind and he just "knows" it's good. He doesn't want to paddle out alone, but I'm due at an 8 a.m. meeting and can't join him. Surfing alone is usually not a big deal unless the conditions are dangerous (i.e. Hurricane swell), but surfing alone in heavy fog is just down right spooky. It is sort of like surfing at night, only you can still get sunburned. You can't see the beach and your only indication of the direction of land is the direction of the waves. Dees drives down the beach until he finds parked cars, paddles out and finds some strangers to surf within sight of, which is less spooky than being alone in a fog bank.

I attend my meeting, which sucks, and then sneak out for "lunch." I rendezvous with Norton and Tennessee Jeremy. Norton is a flight instructor and doesn't have another flight until 3 p.m. Tennessee Jeremy is a student and is in between final exams. Surfs up!

For the longest time it was only our threesome and of course the dolphins and spotted eagle rays that decided to say hello between waves. The rides are long, clean and perfect for noseriding. We have no idea if we are drifting or even what direction we are drifting. If it were a point break there would be no way to triangulate ourselves to the point. Sound seems to carry better through the fog, perhaps due to the high humidity/precipitation? We cheer each other on wave after wave and hear other surfers off in the unseen distance doing the same. It's one of those days where it's hard to leave the water, but work beacons.
We leave the water and return to our lives, but with huge smiles all around. My feet are sandy within the socks inside my shoes and my hair is tangled, damp and salty. As I return to work a couple co-workers that also surf give a nod of approval for they "know." And the other co-workers? Well, who cares what they think.

Yes, I am stoked. The windless fog is my friend.

Here's another picture of the epic day of surfing at the beach!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Holiday Halfathon Recap...

25 Days until Disney Marathon...

I am not ready.

I'm aware that I'm not ready, but last Sunday's 8th Annual Florida Gulf Beaches Holiday Halfathon (Half Marathon) was reality knocking on the door. Overall it was a great weekend. I got to see the west coast of Florida, a coastline I've only seen a handful of times. There were no waves, but that's expected. I met up with the Dietitian and seven of her female runner friends the night before at the packet pickup, which I have to say was way more exciting than the Daytona Half Marathon "expo" since Brooks was there, and we all ate dinner at a hotel restaurant on the beach right after sunset. It was interesting seeing every one's dinner choice. How often do you go out on a Saturday night and eat at a table of nine at a nice restaurant and the entire table orders water? I felt like I was surrounded by "speed" and it was great!

Jump to 6 a.m. Sunday morning. The group meets in the lobby of the hotel. Two of the girls are drinking Rockstar Low Carb Energy drinks. Amazing. Maybe I should try this before a race? Since our hotel is at the finish line we decide to all pile into my pickup truck and only take one vehicle to the start line 13.1 miles away. Five of the girls jump at the opportunity to ride in the back of the truck and the Dietitian and another jump in the warm cab. As I drive up to the starting area I think about the massive amount of estrogen-packed running speed I am delivering all in one small pickup truck! We get our chips, use the bathrooms, stretch, warm up, drink more water (some drink more Rockstar) and before I know it the race is about to begin.

The horn blows. 1,099 runners slowly advance across the start line each finding their own pace. The air temperature is 79 degrees and visibility is down to about 100 feet as there is a heavy fog. The group is split up from the beginning. The Dietitian and another runner start near the front while most of the girls start in the middle. I start back from the middle and on the edge. My only goal for this race is to NOT make my Achilles tendon worse. It's been several weeks with no pain. I can still feel a small lump in my Achilles, but my doctor says it could be scar tissue since it is not painful. If I can finish this race today and manage NOT to re-aggravate the tendon like I did at the Daytona Half Marathon it will be a huge boost of confidence for the Disney Marathon.

Mile one flies by and I never see the mile marker. At mile two I check my time and I'm pacing under a 9-minute mile. This is faster than I want to be running. Part of my plan is to experiment with taking a few intentional walking breaks early on to try and keep my leg muscles from fatiguing too early and allowing me to finish strong. During Daytona I ran super slow intentionally allowing many runners to pass me for the first half of the race and then I ran faster each mile to the finish line. For that race I had only taken three weeks off from running, thought my Achilles was healed and it wasn't. In this race, it's been 41 days since Daytona and I've only done short distance runs (4-miles at the longest) since.

Mile three comes and goes and I'm still running at around an 8:30 pace according to my sometimes not-up-to-par math skills. I consider walking, but I'm feeling so damn good that it just seems ridiculous to walk. I'm usually pretty good at pacing myself for whatever distance I'm aiming for so I decide to trust my gut and continue on running to run. I stop looking at my watch until mile six. At this point my amazing math skills tell me that at my current rate I'll shatter the 2-hour mark, beat my Daytona (also my Half Marathon PR) time and not seem insanely slow as all of the group is ahead of me and I haven't seen them since the start. Then I start thinking about how much it will suck to injure myself today and not be able to run Disney at all? I continue on because.... well.... I'm stubborn.

At mile 8 I feel something new. It's a painful stabbing feeling on both sides of my ribs up high almost under my arms. With each breath I take I feel like someone is punching me in the ribs. This is a new cramp I have not felt before. The fog has not lifted and the temperature is now in the 80s. I'm sweating like crazy and decide to take a GU and walk at the aid station I'm approaching. The cramps just won't seem to go away as I stretch and continue on walking at a fast pace. I feel that 2-hour Half Marathon barrier slipping away, but at this point I'm more concerned about getting these cramps to go away. This is the worst part of the entire race. I walk for what seems like an eternity. By my guess, somewhere around mile 8.75 a speedwalker
passes me. The official start time for walkers was 35 minutes before runners and I passed most walkers miles ago. I immediately think about the Snickers commerical with Mr. T yelling at a speedwalker and say to myself, "Oh hell no! I am not getting passed by a speedwalker!"

I start to run again, pass the speedwalker (who never passed me again) and continue on for another couple miles until exhaustion causes me to stop and walk again. This time I'm somewhere after mile 10. I tell myself I'll allow for a walk break for one minute after each of the remaining miles. This seems like a logical compromise at the time. The problems I'm experiencing seem to be more muscle related than general endurance. Having an Achilles tendon injury since the end of September has seriously taken a toll on my leg muscles. I've managed to stay in shape by other activities (Surfing, yoga, bicycling, etc.) but I've lost the strength in my legs I had while I was training each week. Each time I walk it becomes harder and harder to start running again. So much for my brilliant "walking" plan!

Finally mile 12 comes along. I check my watch and realize I'm not even going to beat my Daytona Half time. This sucks. I remind myself that my Achilles does not hurt right now and that seems like the one thing I have going for me. The final mile and a half does a huge loop around a lake. Part of the course goes through a disc golf course. I wasn't aware I was running through a disc golf course until I felt a sharp pain in my right hamstring. When I realized it was not muscle pain a nearby runner says, "well, that adds insult to injury." I had been hit by a disc in the back of my leg. No one yelled "fore" or even "hey dude, look out." I stopped and started to walk. I considered throwing the disc into the lake, but that would take too much energy. I have a friendly conversation with the runner that saw the disc violation and then attempt to run again. We can see the finish line. I hear my name being yelled and I can see the Dietitian up ahead. She has walked back from the finish line to cheer me on. She runs the last quarter mile with me and it helps. I cross the finish line and we immediately put ice on my Achilles tendon and my calves, which felt like someone was stabbing with a knife on each step of the last tenth mile.

I'm a mess. My official time was 2:27:55. Absolutely horrible, but at the same time humbling. All of the seven girls finished way ahead of me. They were all amazing. The Dietitian got second in her age division. Another girl made a PR and another finished her first Half Marathon having never run further than 7 miles. Someone mentions free beer and it sounds to me like free medicine. I down a beer and immediately start feeling better. On the bright side, my Achilles tendon is not worse and appears to be unchanged. If I can get one or two more long runs in during the next 25 days before Disney, I might actually have a shot at finishing. I would not have finished a marathon on Sunday. So much of running, like surfing, is based on experience; knowing your body, how to pace yourself, prepare and finish. I've got some serious work to do in the next few weeks!

As or the Holiday Halfathon course I would say it was an "ok" race. The race coordinators need to have at least one more water/aid station. Toward the end of the race I needed water really bad and I wanted to take my last GU. It was at least 2 miles before that water station finally came. At one point it appeared as if an aid station was ahead, but turned out only to be a few volunteers handing out orange slices. If you're going to have a station for orange slices you might as well have water too, right??? The course was flat and fast. There was one small bridge to run across and the only other hills were several sidewalk overpasses. A majority of the race was a long straight bike/running path that was somewhat boring. The food, beer, drinks, snacks and entertainment at the finish line were great. However, there was no more water at the finish line when I arrived and I had to walk to the food tent to find water. I will probably not be running this race again as there are too many other races yet to be run and for me to come back and run it again it has to be extraordinary.

Oh and in case your wondering after seeing that first picture, I did not run the entire race with the Santa hat. I chucked it into a trash can at mile 2 because it was too damn hot! Most of the girls ran with jingle bells on their shoes. I thought this was awesome! The Dietitian even told me a guy told her during the race that he was pacing to her jingle. Ha!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Thursday Stoke!

Need I say more???

Look what was waiting for me in my inbox this morning. Guess it's time to sign my life away! Apparently, I'll be bib number 4379.

I showed this to a co-worker. He asked me "how far is this marathon," and when I told him he shook his head and walked away. Non-runners.... they'll never understand.

Disney Marathon here I come! January 10th baby! Totally stoked or slightly insane!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Runners are Great!

I love the running community. Runners are a masochistic bunch that seem to share the same sick and twisted view of the world and somehow manage to be amazingly friendly at the same time. Maybe it's because we share the same common feelings that seem insane to non-runners?

For example, last weekend I volunteered for the first time at a race. A runner, whom I'll call The Firefighter because, well, he happens to be a firefighter when he's not running, saw me at a time station and yelled out, "Why aren't you running man?" I only had time to respond with, "I'm injured... Achilles tendon." He kept on running at his sub 8-minute pace for the 10k and missed his PR by 10 seconds. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see him after the race. It was raining and he was soaked so he left before I got back to the finish line. The Firefighter has run the Disney Marathon and the NYC marathon and I wanted to pick his brain a bit about my situation and ask for advise.

Then on Monday my phone rang and almost as if he knew I wanted to talk to him, it was the Firefighter calling out of the blue. I consider the Firefighter my friends, but he's not someone I actively keep in touch with; I see him around town and say hello, but that's about it. He was calling only to check on me and ask about my "injury." I didn't even know he had my number! He said he had noticed me running all around town all summer long and was thinking "man, he's going to smoke me this year at the Ed Root," and then he was shocked and concerned to see me volunteering. I was so stoked when he called that we chatted about running for a good half hour.

It was a case of one runner being concerned about another runner and having the common bond of knowing how much it sucks to be injured. The Firefighter gave me a few suggestions and I'm sure we'll keep in better touch as he plans on running MCM next year. Since I've missed out on the whole "training" experience and will never be ready to seriously run Disney I'm already eying a few other marathons including MCM later next year where I can get the full experience.

Part of The Firefighters advice was to run on a rubberized track and to walk stadium steps. I tried this out yesterday morning before work. There happens to be a track within a mile from my house that I had forgotten about. How crazy is it that I can be so crazy about running and forget about the track? I ran a few miles at a perfect 8 minute pace switching directions every two laps to be careful of my ITBs. Two things I noticed right off the bat.... track running is fast and extremely boring. I had forgotten my iPod. However, it felt good and I even ran the stadium steps for 10 minutes after (I'm no good at walking them). I felt no discomfort in my Achilles tendon after so I'm going to give it another whirl soon!

But seriously, the running community is great and I'm glad to know the runners that I'm lucky enough to know!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Take one for the team... Volunteer!

I watched the SEC Championship last night.

In case you are wondering... I only have one thing to say.

Go Gators! ... that is all.

But I do have something else to say about yesterday. I volunteered for the first time during a race. It was the 26th annual Ed Root 10K/5k race here in New Smyrna Beach. It was the first 10k race I ever ran last year and I really wanted to run it again this year. However, in an effort to "take it easy" with the Achilles tendon recovery I decided the best way to ensure I don't run it is to give back and volunteer. After reading a post by Redhead Running several months back about her experience volunteering at a race it's been on my mind. This was the perfect opportunity.

I contacted the race director a few days prior and despite the late notice she was more than happy to accept my offer to volunteer. So I showed up at 6:45 a.m. eager to work. They let me help pass out T-shirts at registration and then work as a time person at mile 4. I had expected to be put to work handing out water at an aid station, but was giving a stop watch instead. We started our stop watches at the sound of the start horn and then drove to Mile 4. It wasn't long before the leaders showed up as mile 4 and mile 2 intersected. When they returned to really hit the mile 4 mark I not only yelled out their times to them, but also their respective places and their time behind the leader. This got rather complicated rather quickly and I had to stop and settle for only the race time after about the 20th person from the leader passed (I got confused).

Over all I was so happy to help out with whatever they asked me to do. During the last year I've run numerous races and it was really nice to give back a little as so many races would not happen without the support of volunteers. It was also fun to yell out the time to a handful of friends that happened to be running the race.

The weather was sub-par with some relentless light to moderate rain. The temperature would have been perfect without the cold rain at around 55 degrees. Kudos to all those that participated and hashed it out in the rain. I heard a lot of soggy shoes slosh past me.

If your injured, or recovering from an injury I highly recommend volunteering at a race. It keeps you feeling like you're in the running community, keeps you motivated to recover and get back in the game and is a good overall experience!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

...So give a Cheer for the Orange and Blue...

In case you don't already know, I'm a huge Gator fan. I have absolutely no idea nor comprehension of what it would be like not being a "Gator." I was born into it, love it and wouldn't consider anything else even if the University of Florida football team had a losing record. Of course, they don't and in case you've been living in a cave in Afghanistan they are far from a losing record. As of this morning they are undefeated and what's even more impressive is they are the defending National Champions and still undefeated this late in the season. So today I'm writing about Gator football. I just can't help it!

One of my earliest memories involves Gator football. It was November 8, 1980 and I was 3-years-old (go ahead figure out that TallGuySurfing is quite old) and all I remember is my father screaming at the television. It was one of those "gigantor" early color televisions that seemed to be swallowed up in a cabinet twice the size of the actual screen. I remember being concerned why my father was so upset and him trying to explain to me that the Gators had just lost to The University of Georgia Bulldogs 26-21, thanks to Herschel Walker's freshmen year as a Dawg. This early memory not only instilled in me a healthy rival-related hatred for the Georgia Bulldogs, the biggest rivalry of the Gators (we really don't regard FSU as a rivalry game like the media wants to hype it up) and a deeply embedded loyalty to the Gators. When it came time for me to apply for college I only filled out one application and that's where I went to school. I never considered another school. I marched in the band at all the games home and away and also played in the basketball band.

So now that I've told my story and made it sound completely impossible to write in an unbiased and objective manor I'm going to tell you about today!

Today is the SEC Championship Game (again in case you've been living in an Afghan cave). It's Alabama vs. Florida. What's unique about today is it's also the first time in the history of NCAA football that an undefeated No. 1 ranked team is playing an undefeated No. 2 ranked team for a conference championship. This usually happens for the National Championship, but not this year. This year it's today. Obviously, I'm for Florida, but win or lose, at the end of the day I'm going to be ok. Here's why. One name.... Tim Tebow. Now if you're still in that cave and haven't heard of Tim Tebow lets just say he's been pretty dang successful as a college quarterback. He's been involved in two national championships and has been a finalist twice for the Heisman Trophy, winning it once and may have another shot at the award this year. He's absolutely smashed just about every record a quarterback can do and then some. He's surpassed Herschel Walker's record for most rushing touchdowns in a college career. By the way, Walker was a running back and Tebow is a Quarterback! (Although I'll be fair and admit that Walker did it faster and in less games).

Even if the Gators lose today I'll still be Proud to be a Florida Gator! I'm proud because I can honestly say that Tebow is the best college football player I've ever witnessed play the sport and how completely awesome is it that he's a Gator?!? Not only is he an amazing athletic, but his leadership skills are out of this world. I can also honestly say that if he were the quarterback for another team, let's say Georgia (remember I hate Georgia), I still couldn't help but love the man for who he is and the good he represents. He's probably one of the best athlete roll models I've ever seen. He's a deeply religious man and if you're a Gator you can't help by have Faith and Believe in him and the Gators. He's surrounded by elite athletes whom some of which have followed him from their high school days. It's living proof that great people will follow great leaders. Watching him play football this year has been unbelievable. It's an exciting time in college football and I'm sure today will be one of the highlights of the season. Both these teams know each other well. Last year Alabama was ranked number one and undefeated. Florida marched into the Georgia Dome in Atlanta and unleashed hell upon the Crimson Tide. Late in the fourth quarter Tebow led two scoring drives to take the lead and hand Alabama their first loss. It's No. 1 against No. 2 in more ways than one. No. 1 offense against No. 2 offense. No. 1 defense against No. 2 defense and the list goes on and on.

No matter who wins I believe in Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators. He's made me into a Believer! Go Gators!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Thursday Stoke!

This week is the first week of December and I am stoked because the hour is upon me to start marathon training again!

In the past 11 weeks I have only run twice (I've been dealing with an Achilles tendon injury both mentally and physically), the Daytona Beach Half Marathon, which made my injury worse and last Saturday in the Run to Sun 4-mile MDA benefit race.

Yup, I jumped the gun a little bit and ran a race before December (the doctor's orders), but I had some really REALLY good motivation so it was worth it and the best news of all is everything went perfectly fine. Of course I thought I was just going to walk most of the race and maybe only run a small portion. Well folks, that's just not me. I ended up running the race at an 8 minute pace until the last half mile where I admit I did feel some discomfort in the Achilles so I slowed down considerably to give me a finish time of 34:36. After the race I stretched and iced the Achilles and in the following days the injury remains unchanged. I feel that it's getting better very slowly, but the best part is it is not getting worse.

Each day since I have been testing myself a tiny bit more every workout. On Monday I played outfield in a Men's league softball game and that means sprinting. This went fine and I even hit an in-the-park home run when I burned the right fielder. On Tuesday (Dec. 1, aka, official start to marathon training) I weight trained and then rode the bicycle. Yesterday I set out bright and early at sunrise to a beach boardwalk that is a 1.5 mile loop. The idea was to start off running short distances. A lot of short distances to get my legs back in shape and if no problems persist with my Achilles go for maybe one or two long runs before the Disney Marathon. I know this probably sounds ludicrous, but you have to take what you can get sometimes. My nemesis is definitely over doing it and training too hard so this plan forces me to take it slow and hopefully not re-injury a healing Achilles. Only problem yesterday, was I'm not good at running slow.... specially when I know I only have to go a mile and a half! When I finished I looked at my watch and it read 10:30ish.... yup, my slow first official training run somehow turned into a 7:30 minute pace. Then, just for good measure I decided to play softball again last night. It was a double header and I played outfield again (more sprinting) and even managed another in-the-park home run (super fast sprinting).

The best news of all? Today my Achilles is fine. It's still not 100 percent, but it's not any worse and I think the fear of making it worse and the trauma I've been through is going to be enough to force me to take it easy the next 38 days until Disney.

I'm a 100 percent open to suggestions. I've had to tweak my original training schedule twice since September and each time my Achilles tendon has blown it out of the water. Essentially, I have not trained in two months (running wise) and now I have only one month to get ready for the Disney Marathon on Jan. 10th. This sounds insane even to myself. I'm determined to at least finish the damn thing and if that doesn't satisfy me I'll go for a respectable time in a future marathon down the road. But, if anyone has any ideas of how to get ready for a marathon in 38 days, please feel free to speak up? I'm in above average shape, but my legs are not ready to hash out 26.2... I know that much.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Trial Tuesday... Socks!

After mentioning the free Asics socks I was given after purchasing some new shoes recently at Spikes Athletic Footwear, I was asked to review them. I think all of us that have never worn an anatomically correct left and right foot construction sock are naturally curious about the pros and cons (if any) so here's my review:

The Asics Kayano II Low Cut socks

First things first, they look cool and with a blend of nylons and elastane they feel high tech! Far more superior than traditional cotton socks that will leave you with painful blisters. I live in Florida where it's a blazing inferno most of the year, which means sweat. Lots of sweat on long runs, which means lots of Body Glide and good socks to avoid blisters. Reading over the features of the Kayano II low cuts, they fit the bill.

* Anatomically correct left & right foot construction and high-density cushioning.
* ASICS exclusive ankle fit
* ASICS Tiger Stripe Design (maybe they'll make me fast like a tiger?)
* Articulated arch band for better fit.
* Flexible horizontal lace pad cushioning
* "Y" heel gore for improved fit, reducing slippage

The first thing I notice upon trying them on is how snug they feel to my feet, almost like wearing a skin-tight wetsuit. There are no loose spots or extra clumps of fabric around my toes, heel or Achilles tendon. They just feel good.

The chosen test subject is a 4-mile race (yes, more to come on TallGuySurfing's return to running in a future post) called the Run to the Sun benefit for MDA. At the race start the air temperature is in the high 40s so my feet are a little cold for the first mile. This concerns me because I begin to fear that I may be developing a blister near my big toe and I'm uncertain if I'm just cold or something is going wrong in my shoes. After the first mile my feet warm up and feel fine. Throughout the race my feet feel snug in my shoes and I do not feel any slippage, discomfort or rubbing. I can honestly say these socks feel great. There are cushions near the edges of the arches in the socks, but not thick enough to interfere with arch support of my shoes. I have one collapsed arch and one high arch, but the socks fit both feet superbly.

After the race I give both feet a full examination. I'm one of those lucky people that rarely blister from running and I've never lost a toe nail, but occasionally I do get some raw and tender spots. With the Kayano II low cuts my feet pass the examination with flying colors. These socks rock! Seriously, the only con I can find is the cost. A quick search of Google "shopping" (since my socks were free) reveals an average price of $13.99 for only one pair. I'm relatively new to distance running, but I have extensively tried similar performance socks by Adidas and Nike and the Asics Kayano II low cuts blow them away hands down. The real test will be to see how they hold up over time. For the price I expect them to last at least as long if not longer than your average performance running sock. However, I will probably splurge in the future and buy a few more pairs.

If you feel like treating yourself to some higher priced socks I definitely recommend giving these socks a shot. They are probably worth the price if you are blister prone. I'm looking forward to wearing them on my next long run.