Tag Archives: nashville running company

Now or Never for New Orleans 70.3

I’m not gonna lie . . . the Dry Creek Trail 1/2 Marathon knocked me out for a week.  I was tired as hell and completely lost my mojo on the new diet.  I’m not sure why it cooked me so much, but it did and I’ve been fighting to make a comeback.  It hasn’t been easy.

I’m not in terrible shape by any means, but I’m not a big fan of driving 7 hours to half-ass a race.  It’s actually kind of cool to be sitting here thinking I have a Half Ironman staring in my face and the distance doesn’t intimidate me.  I was talking about that with some of the guys when we went down to do Goosepond last fall.  I had barely even worked out for over a month after Ironman Wisconsin and “knocked out” a half at Goosepond.

Well, it was actually more like Goosepond knocked me out and that’s exactly what I need to avoid in New Orleans.

So tonight I got back on the wagon and did a little workout that gave me some hope.  I went over to Nashville Running Company the other day and got me a pair of Pearl Izumi N1s and running socks, both of which performed awesomely tonight.  Pearl Izumi N1 Road

So, we’ll see.


Dry Creek 1/2 Trail Marathon Race Report

Not many would call me country, but what transpired in the deep woods of Tennessee yesterday will soon have dozens of Crushing Iron readers calling me a nature boy.  The Dry Creek Marathon (and half) was another spectacular example in the long list of contributions  Nashville Running Company has delivered to a growing, and wildly masochistic, running community.

I woke at 5:30 am, walked the dog, then followed my printed Mapquest directions to the covert Dry Creek Race Headquarters.  I shared war stories with Corey, Wasky, and Jim, then dug into my pre-packed race bag.  First thing I noticed was (even with the uncanny day-before-planning) I forgot my Swiftwick’s.  Luckily I was wearing a pair of Timberland over-the-ankle-hikers, but this adds to my increasingly controversial history with socks.

The race started predictably enough.  Wasky shot out of a cannon, and I stayed with Corey for a couple miles until I realized our 9 minute pace goal was in the 7’s.  I dropped back, but an unexpected “ab flash” by NRC Kingpin, Lee Wilson, gave me the adrenaline I needed to attack the wilderness.

Around mile three, we turned off the rather smooth roads and plunged down a steep, single track–covered knee-deep in leaves.  It reminded me of my childhood and I took a retroactive risk by falling to my ass and gliding across the leaves like I was riding a luge.

It was dicey to say the least, but I crashed at the bottom of the hill, dusted off my Vince Wyatt for judge tech shirt, and tore through the rushing creek.  That’s when the race got unusual.

While crossing the first creek, my foot slammed the rocky bottom, narrowly missing a helpless turtle flipped on his back.  I was somehow flooded with a surge of compassion and decided to rescue the powerless creature.  I tiptoed into the water, grabbed the outer edges of his shell and somehow avoided the turtle’s vicious snap that would have quickly removed my forefinger. I moved him to deeper water and watched like a proud father as he swam into the sunrise.

The creek bottom gave way to a gorgeous meadow and, while drifting into meditation, I was startled by a piercing screech.  The loud, Macaw-like gobble was a heinous distraction, but clearly a cry for help.  I tread lightly as the commotion unfolded before me and I spotted a wild turkey with its talons trapped under a boulder.

I approached the frightening scene with caution and, for reasons I can’t humanly explain, started calling the helpless bird, Frank.  I calmed him with Zen mantras, “Ohm little bird,” “be at peace wild one,” “soup, soup, relax.”  Frank responded with timid unrest as I softly pet his mane.

I sacrificed race hydration by unloading my water bottle at his feet and watching in bewilderment as the hard soil turned to mud, releasing the talon to freedom. Unfortunately my generosity did not confirm our connection as Frank took a wicked parting swipe with his claw that broke skin through my stylish knee wrap.

I was waterless, bloody, and facing the meat of the 700 feet gain.  A beastly two-mile climb stood in my path and my valiant rescue efforts were falling on deaf ears.

Halfway up the monster, I locked eyes with a fainthearted deer, and let me tell you, the expression “doe eyes,” is no joke.  The rough winter had taken its toll and this animal was obviously struggling to find food.  I stopped again and approached her with a handful of quinoa which she eagerly lapped from my hand before bashfully begging for more.  I reached into fanny pack and pulled what was left of my nutrition to feed the starving doe.

I wanted to stay, but these interruptions were a major drag on my time.  Thankfully this new Zen Racing approach is paying dividends in other ways.

At mile 7 my favorite race photographer, Carolyn Wasky, snapped a fantastic shot of me before I flew back through base camp.  Little did she know, the story on my face was showing much more than pain.  It was a life altering 7 miles . . . and the last 6 would never live up . . . or would they?drycreekm2

Virtual high fives greeted me as I lumbered though the campground and Jim graciously took the above picture with his iPhone.  I stopped in my mind to give him a hug and he wished me well before swearing to uphold his oath as 2014 Social Chairman at my above ground swimming pool backyard resort.

The road was rocky, but all that was left was a 3 mile out and back.

It’s always painful to see competition going the other way but in an unbelievable move of generosity, the leader, Connor, graciously stopped in his tracks and poured what was left in his water bottle over my aching ankles.  A true pro.

Shortly thereafter, I saw Bryan, of Pearl Izumi fame glide by me with complete grace while answering email on his phone.  It was a remarkable show of “endurance racing” meets “stalwart employee.”  I was absolutely captivated when he flashed a picture of the new Pearl Izumi Road N-zeros and delivered a quick, yet heart felt sales pitch on the move.   Consider me sold.

One by one, Wasky, Corey, Daniel, and Steven flew by in the opposite direction and, rather than lose my cool, my mind drifted to the creatures I had saved that morning.  It was a wonderful day for nature lovers and I secretly inducted myself into the fraternity.

Around 1:56, and easily under my 2 hour goal, I staggered to my first Trail 1/2 Marathon finish.    I stood tall, soaked in the magnitude of the day’s events, then slowly walked to the food table . . . and ate everything in sight.

Tom King Half Marathon

Today, part of the Fab 5 +1 went out to help at the Nashville Running Company water stop for the Tom King 1/2 MarathonjimkevinJim, Kevin, and Alli alli 2rode their trainer bikes for inspiration, I handed out water, and Daniel decided he was gonna bust a groove on the course.  Mark was taking care of his daughter.

It was a beautiful morning for running, mid-50s, a little overcast, and it served Daniel well as he nailed down the fastest Fab 5 half marathon time of 1:33:30.  A great time that beat his best time by over 2 minutes.  We are all getting stronger and faster by the day and, as good as it is, I anticipate that number will be beat by someone in the group soon.  He’s set the new goal for a 1/2 and it’s 1:30.  Who’s gonna get it?

danielmikeJim, Kevin, and Alli put in two hours on the trainer then the guys rode the road for another hour.  I left, joined them for breakfast, then put in a couple hour ride on the Greenway.  It was a really nice day and the ride was great except for the throngs of people walking on the BIKE PATH!

Actually, I’m kidding.  They deserve to be out there and quite frankly I get a tad annoyed at bikers when I’m running, so, oh well.  Everyone, including me has to chill.

I have to say, the first outside ride kicked my ass a little.  Yesterday’s swim was lurking and I just haven’t been feeling it.  Tomorrow we’re going for a two hour jaunt on Natchez Trace and while my legs are saying no, I love that I’m able to get off the trainer.

Here are a few pics from the race today.  Hope you’re having a great weekend.

Save it, or Shave it? Video

The other day I posted about fellow Ironman Wisconsin teammate Daniel Hudgins and his quest to raise money for the homeless by using his controversial hair as bait.  You could vote (by donating) to “save or shave” the hair and the tally came down to the wire in a tension filled finish!  He raised over $3,000 dollars and all proceeds will be given to Room In The Inn.  The excitement was captured in my latest video:

If Running Clubs Were Gangs

Before East Nasty floods the streets on Wednesday runs, Mark Miller stands before us offering sage advice, group events, and a list of great things the running club is doing for local schools and charities.  I’m not sure why, but every time he stands on that hill and “calls for everyone to move closer,” I imagine he is the Guardian Angels’ version of Cyrus from the Warriors.

The Warriors is a 1979 Cult Classic that follows one gang’s (the Warriors) struggle to make it back to Coney Island after being framed for shooting New York’s kingpin or the underworld (Cyrus) at an all-city gang retreat in Central Park.  As you can imagine the Warriors did a lot of running in the movie and it made me wonder what it would be like to have other running clicks trying to take us out as we pound the streets of East Nashville.

“Can you dig it?”

The East Nasty “Warriors,” hit the streets armed with tight lycra, head lamps, and Gu energy packs.  The goal: Talk or run our way to a safe return to 5 Points (Coney Island).

We turned right on Woodland with eyes peeled for the NRC “Boppers” led by Lee “Big Moe” Wilson, Hunter “Boxcar” Lane, and Season “Greenback” Kaminski.  The Boppers roll in purple vests, ties, and fedoras and protect their turf with high speed chases.  They are difficult to miss and even harder to escape.

The Boppers, however, must have been grilling veggie burgers out back because we cruised through Upper 5 Points without incident.  But a new challenge awaited as we descended a short hill on mid-foot onto the turf of the Lipstick Lounge “Lizzies.”

Starr, Sarah, and Roxanna use seduction as their weapon of choice.  They lull you to sleep with flashy smiles, spike your drink, then steal your girlfriend.  Fortunately they were distracted by Karaoke night and we rolled by unnoticed.

We pushed the next hill with intrepid smiles and gazed an eery school building which doubles as the home of a low class outfit known as The Orphans.  Often found lurking in dirty green t-shirts and jeans, the Orphans are more bark than bite.  They have low numbers and offered little opposition to nearly 200 Nasties armed with water bottles and reflective vests.

Glancing at our Garmins, we turned down Eastland then crossed the dangerous 14th Street intersection before hearing the startling sound of clicking beer bottles emanate from a rundown hearse. We turned down our iPods and noticed the disturbing rattle was accompanied by a hipster vocal.

“Nasties . . . come out and play . . . ”

The Bad Kroger “Rogues” were up the their old shenanigans.  Always a spine-chilling sight, the Rogues are a prominent street gang typically too drunk on 40’s to pose a real threat.  We cut a hard left and headed toward safer terrain.

But we were far from home.

This particular route is called “The Church Run” and several gangs were sure to be waiting, including The Southern Cross.

We weaved our way to Fatherland and headed straight into harms way at East Park.  Even though it’s the off season, everyone knows the Baseball Furies are in Winter Training.  Sure enough, less than one block from their natural grass turf, I caught a glimpse of pin striped uniforms and heard the signature sound of baseball cleats clicking on pavement.

Luckily one of the East Nasties is an college baseball umpire and knows how to eject angry ballplayers.  Another scare averted.

After the Furies’ fiasco, there was only one obstacle looming, but it was a big one.

The Shelby Street Turnbull ACs cruise the neighborhoods in a ragged school bus and get their kicks from picking on defenseless runners.

Our only hope was to catch them napping because Shelby is a big ass hill with no escape routes.  We turned our headlamps to dim and made a run for it.  Thankfully, the Turbull’s didn’t see us until it was too late and their bus wouldn’t start.  These guys are a lot of things, but runners isn’t one of them.

On this night, the East Nasty Warriors would prevail.  We told war stories at home base, took off our colors and strolled down the street to the running club Christmas party.


Tonight’s Diet:  Water, Beer and Chili

Why Not You?

I’m finally reading Born to Run, which is an otherworldly story about a mysterious tribe of super- centered and super-human athletes nestled in remote caves of Mexico.  They’re called Tarahumara (the Running People) and routinely run for dozens or hundreds of miles in the course of a normal day.  It is their lifestyle.  Children run free as soon as they leave the cradle, adults run for fun, ritual, and competition, and elderly Tarahumara continue this tradition late into life.

In Chapter 6 they referenced a 90 year old man who commonly hikes 20 plus miles into the mountains.  The writer asked another tribesman how a man of his age could complete such feats of strength and endurance?  In true Tarahumara fashion the man simply said, “Because no one told him he couldn’t.”

I once heard someone say “Florida is God’s waiting room,” and while it made me laugh, I always thought it was sad.  Sure, we get old, but I’ve never liked our culture’s view of aging.  Why do we settle for a pension, rocking chair and a handed down afghan while watching re-runs of I Love Lucy? (Well, besides the fact they are hilarious!?!)

My father has never been the healthiest of men and, in many ways, has succumbed to the myth of aging, but I have always admired his passion for being a good golfer.  In fact, because I don’t see him often, that’s how I gauge his health.  He can still hit the ball as far as me and routinely scores in the 70’s as he approaches that age.  More importantly, he does it often.

Like many people I have casually thrown the phrase, “It sucks to get old,” but never wanted to accept it.  Ache has always been a part of my life and in youth you simply play through the pain.  I’d drag myself back to shortstop and embrace the next challenge.  The body always adapted and found its way back to “normal.”

In January I attempted to run as an endurance exercise for the first time in my life.  I wasn’t sure I had the patience to stick with the “slow build” Couch to 5k program, but, for once was determined to follow the rules.  There were many days I didn’t want to go, but I dragged myself to NRC and met the group.  There were other times when I felt good on an off day and wanted to test my limits, but resisted.  I stayed on course and credit that program for everything I have done since.

The more we do something, the more it brands our fiber.  It becomes natural like running is to the Tarahumara.  Whether it is writing, reading, photography, dancing, swimming, biking, running; we can do it if we create a good base and develop habits.

The Tarahumara seem super human, but for them, running is easy.  It’s kinda like lounging in a recliner to us.  Running People don’t design spread sheets or sit through webinars, but they do make sales calls (in person) and drink corn beer like it’s a treat from God.  My guess is, to them, posturing in an ergonomic chair and staring at a computer screen sounds harder than running 100 miles.  It’s what we do that makes a difference.

So, I have set my sights on the “impossible.”  A 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike, followed by a full marathon.  The marathon alone (on my best day), will be 240 of those first day sixty-second-runs in succession.  The bike ride will take at least 6 hours.  The swim is the equivalent of 42 lengths of a football field.  But, like the elderly man, if I believe it, who’s to say I can’t?