Monday, April 30, 2012

"Looking good Billy Ray!" "Feeling good Louis!"

Rememeber the good ole days when Eddie Murphy and Dan Akroyd actually made good movies?

Someone was taking pictures at our group run this past Saturday and I was tagged in a couple on facebook tonight. My sister saw them and said one of them reminded her of the "ridiculously photogenic guy" photo that I'm sure you've all seen. Usually I look all kinds of pissed off and like I'm the only passenger on the struggle bus in running pictures so this was a surprise to me! So in light of this rare picture of me smiling while running, I wanna see your best "ridiculously photogenic running" photos and to make it even better, for comparison, your worst, most spent looking running photo!

First my worst!
Sunburst 11' It was HOT and I look like I'm 80!

And my best!
It's amazing what 40 degrees and an easy pace can do for ya! haha

So lets see em! 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

EZ Memorial 5k

On the morning of April 19th, 2011 I was driving to work just like any other Tuesday morning, half awake and hoping my coffee would kick in before I arrive. That was until I heard a news update on the radio stating that a Kalamazoo Police Officer was shot and killed in the line of duty the night before. Immediately I no longer needed the caffeine to rouse my senses because I was shocked at what I had heard. This has never happened in Kalamazoo before and my shock quickly turned to fear as my best friend Bryan is an Officer with the department and he happens to work nights. In no time I was dialing his number and when he answered the phone after the second ring, I was never more happy to hear him say hello. We've been friends since joining the cross-country team together freshmen year, lived together for a bit and I was even the Best Man at his wedding. We've been through some crazy times together and I'm not ready for those times to end, especially not that way.

I was relieved to know that he was okay but I was still shaken and saddened by the news of the Officers death. It is a horrible tragedy. I've known many police officers in my life (not for the wrong reasons either! Thank you very much!lol) some have even been family. I am fully aware of the risk they take everyday that they go into work to provide a safe community for my family and I to live in.

Eric Zapata is the name of the Officer that died that night, while coming to the aid of a fellow officer. He made the ultimate sacrifice, trying to make a difference in this world, and I know I can't even begin to do enough to thank him.

It's been a year since that horrendous event took place and last week was filled with memorials and events honoring the life of EZ. One of these events was a 5k race that is to be an annual event to raise money for a scholarship fund for individuals wanting to pursue careers in law enforcement. The EZ Memorial Run 5k was held at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. When they first announced the race, I knew I wanted to run it.

It was a fairly flat course with a small rolling hill near the middle. There were roughly 550 participants in the run/walk and many more cheering people on. The start/finish line was flanked by two firetrucks with ladders extended overhead forming an A-frame with a massive American flag draped between the two. It was quite an impressive sight for sure.

I wanted to get a good warm up in especially because it was just barely 40 degrees. I've noticed that I really don't feel loose until I'm at least 3 miles into a run so I decided to jog the course once as my warm up, change shoes and head to the start. I noticed during my warm up that the first half mile was straight into a fairly significant head wind.

The race started and the first few guys took off like they were shot out of a cannon! I noticed myself really pushing trying to stay with them. There was one guy by himself up front, two right in front of me side by side and I realized that I was in the best spot. I was using the two as a wind block for that first stretch. Just past the half mile I moved into third along side a friend of mine who normally would kick my tail in a race, but has been going through some burnout/over training lately and was just coming off from a break. I was feeling good and had my eyes set on the guy in first so I started to pull away from my buddy and began chasing number one. I finally caught him at the mile mark and looked down at my watch to see my first split (5:41) right where I wanted to be!

I was feeling great at this point and was able to keep truckin along but he started to drop back pretty soon after I caught him. I had taken the lead and wasn't going to give it up for anything! I'd never been in the lead of a race like this before, especially not this far in. The route was an out and back that went around a loop at the half way point before sending you back toward the start/finish. When I came out of the loop I was running towards the rest of the people in the race who were still on their way out and this was AWESOME because people were literally cheering and clapping for me! For me! I've never experienced so many people wishing me well cheering me on! At one point I was almost completely overcome with joy. I think this may have been the only way I was able to hold my pace. The support from the other runners and spectators really carried me to the finish.
I forgot to mention that the race was being led by a few motorcycles, two police bikes and two from a local bike club, and it was pretty cool chasing them down. I kept trying to get closer to them and actually almost caught them at the end! haha They slowed down to turn off the course right before the finish and they slowed down so much that I was gaining on them muy rapido! I could see the race director waving his arms frantically at them to get moving so I didn't have to run around them to get to the finish. I thought it was funny and part of me totally wanted to pass them!

Sure, Sure, Unsure...
As I approached the line I thought about how this was the first race I'd ever win and all I could think about was.....what do I do!?! should I put my arms up in a fit of joy? lunge forward like it's neck and neck? Trip and fall and finish second!? Well at the last second I realized they had a tape stretched out for me to break so I went with arms up over my head. It seemed like the right thing to do, if not...who cares, I just won a race!!!!!!! I can do what ever I want with my stinkin arms!

Collecting my trophy (good hair day ha eh...)
Glass trophy = doesn't show up well in picture

My time ended up being a new PR of 17:53, the first time I've gone under 18 minutes since high school, and even then I only did it once!  I jogged back out a little ways to cheer on some friends who were still finishing and then hung out to collect my sweet trophy. I got messages on my phone and facebook from friends all day congratulating me. I was whole heartily filled with happiness and had a smile from ear to ear. I even made the news briefly as they showed a clip of me crossing the finish! Oh and on top of my sweet trophy, I also won a pair of Brooks shoes! Baller! Anybody have suggestions on which ones I should get?

I had an amazing day, and thank you to those of you who sent me congratulatory messages on facebook and daily mile. I also want to remind you of the reason for this race in the first place, and maybe next time you see an officer, you'll thank them for the job they do. I'm sure they don't hear it often enough and after all, they keep the streets safe that we love to run on.

Rest In Peace, Eric Zapata.

Monday, April 23, 2012


I promise I'm going to get to writing a recap for this weekends 5k race, but in the mean time here's a preview of how it went.....

Why yes that is the tape that I'm "breaking"!!!!!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Martian 1/2 Marathon Recap

It's taken me a few days but I'm finally getting around to letting you all know how last Saturday's Martian 1/2 Marathon in Dearborn, MI went. It's been a busy week of...Okay fine that's bullshit, it hasn't been that busy but I haven't had a plethora of free time either. So without further ado, let's talk racing!

I took a half day on Friday, which was welcomed with open arms, and frankly I wish I could take half day every Friday but apparently that is frowned upon. I asked. They lauged. I rode over with three other guys, two running the half and one running his first full marathon. We hit up the expo, which was small as expected, but not horrible considering the size of the race. Dinner Friday night was pizza at Buddy's pizza. It's pretty good pizza, nothing mind blowing, but I'd recommend checking it out if you're in the area.

Another friend met us over there after he got out of work, making five of us. Dan, Don, Andrew and I were running the half and Mike was running his first full. Race morning came and the marathon started an hour and a half before the 1/2. Mike was shooting for an ambitious, though totally possible sub 3:10 marathon. I made sure to express my thoughts about not pushing too hard for the first half so that maybe he could benefit from my failures. If everything went okay he would be finishing right behind me due to the staggered start so that would be cool.

I had a delicious belgian waffle with peanut butter and syrup from the hotel continental breakfast about an hour and  half before the race. I'm trying to figure out what works best to eat, and when, before races. Jonathon and Brett met us at the hotel before heading to the race, both also running the half. Jon, Andrew and I jogged a mile to warm up before finding bushes to water while waiting for the race to start. They were both looking to hit 1:17, I was shooting for anything under 1:30 which I failed to do last year. Seceretly though I felt like I could hit a 1:25, so that goal was in the back of my mind too.

I was rocking my new blue Kinvaras for the race and I've come to notice that the laces seem a little shorter than my last pair. Maybe they just need to stretch a little? Anyway I went to re-tie one of my shoes right before the race but the slightly short lace meant I couldn't double not it like I usually do so I just went normal style as I was tying it though everyone started moving forward toward the line and I hurried. This hurry meant that I would have to tie it again before the first mile mark. After that though there were no more wardrobe malfunctions. Thankfully.

I took it somewhat conservatively and comfortably for the first half. The course was and out and back, relatively flat, but with few rolling hills.I was trying to be around 6:35's for my first few miles and hit them pretty well. As I was getting closer to the turn around point the leaders were on their way back, a couple of minutes ahead of me. My buddy Andrew was leading the way with about four guys on his tail and Jonathon was a couple hundred yards back from them. It was good seeing my friends out front like that! Gave me a nice little boost. As I rounded the halfway marker I could tell I would be running into the wind so I flipped my hat around backwards so as to not catch the wind. Game face on!

I started picking up my pace a little and picking off some people as well. Some shirtless dude drew even with me and wanted to pass, but I wasn't about to let that happen. I don't know about you guys but when I'm in a race I make up some reason of why I shouldn't let someone beat me, as a motivational tool to keep trucking along. Unfortunately for shirtless wonder guy, his lack of a singlet became the easiest reason for me to not let him past without a fight.
Other things I pick out to give me reason to pass people include but are not limited to:
  • Wearing the shirt for the race we are currently running
  • Wearing shoes that are not designed for running
  • Vibram five fingers (I don't know why but I dislike them, no particular reason)
  • Looking like you might be in my age group
  • being too tall
  • Blonde
  • Brunette
  • Ginger
  • Guy
  • Girl
  • You're in front of me
  • What ever reason pops into mind first
Don't take it personally but if we're in the same race and you're either in front of me or trying to pass me, I'm probably saying vial things about you in my head. It's not you. It's me. And I want to beat you haha. (and yes during the moment I will think this about ANYONE just as motivation, I don't actually feel that way about you. Well...maybe you....j/k.

So around mile 9 the song Through the fire and flames by Dragon Force came on my iPod which if you don't know it is a 9 minute song with a quick tempo that I love to hear near the end of races to help spur me along a quicker pace. I didn't want to have to try and find this song again so I actually kept hitting repeat the last four miles and listened to one song for almost half an hour haha. It worked though! my last three splits were my fastest! I even dropped below 6 minutes for my last mile! boom!

I passed a couple guys in the last stretch which always makes me happy! I finished 23rd overall with a kick ass new PR by 8 MINUTES!!! 1:24:32!!! I was so incredibly excited! To add to my own celebration, Andrew held off the others and took the overall win and Jonathon finished 4th! All of my other friends running the half had new PR's except one, but he was sick so we'll let it slide.

Mike popped his marathon cherry with an impressive 3:11 and some change. He wasn't happy at first that he missed his goal but we all reminded him that it is a killer time for a debut race, especially for a 43 year old in his first year running. He'll break that time many times over I'm sure of it.

So all in all the race was a success! Everything (other than the shoe lace) went right, which doesn't happen often and I am glad I decided to sign up for it. This weekend I'm changing gears a little bit and trying out a 5k at a memorial run for a Police Officer that was killed in the line of duty a year ago. I'll have a new recap on that for you hopefully this weekend.

Hopefully you all are having a wonderful week! Good luck to anyone racing!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

What's My Age Again?

This week was kindo of blah when it came to running. In fact this morning was the first time I ran since last Saturday! But hey it's a race week sooooo taper is good? I don't think that counts as taper though, probably just lazy.

Anyway I did get a new pair of Saucony Kinvara's in from running warehouse the other day and got to take them for their first miles today! It's amazing how different a new pair of shoes can feel compared to a pair I've been running in for hundreds of miles! I'm planning on using them for the Martian Half Marathon in Dearborn Saturday morning. The last pair were all black so I thought I'd brighten things up this time with a bright blue pair. I still can't wait to try on the Kinvara 3's when they come out next month but now that I've got a new pair I'm not as anxious to get them. These should tide me over until the 3's are on sale lol.

This morning was pretty hard to get out of bed at 4am to meet Jonathon but of course I didn't regret it at all as soon as we were moving. Getting up early to run might get a little easier the more often I do it but it had been a few weeks since we last met up before work to run, so it was struggle city for sure.

Random side note, I was just checking the registration list for Saturday's race and while the names are in alpha order by last name, the first names aren't in order so with a last name like Smith there were plenty to look through. I got part way through the Smiths and found -Jordy Smith - male - 36....At first I thought, shit, they got my age wrong, now I'm gonna have to get that changed. Then I started to think a moment and realized that I didn't register as Jordy and in fact haven't gone by that since high school so how did they get that name....oh duh.... that is someone else. My registration was ten more spots down the list. Under Jordan. With the right age. Now I'm intrigued, I've only met a handful of Jordans in my life and never another Jordan Smith! I must meet this man....and of course beat him!

Are you racing anywhere this weekend? There's a good chance it could rain during the race, but as long as it's not uber cold on top of the rain then I'm not too concerned. I actually enjoy a good run in the rain from time to time.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Hunger Games, Tigers Games and Easter, Oh My!

Did you have a good weekend? I know I did. Let's go back to Friday, shall we? I met up with a couple friends for dinner and a movie Friday night. This all came about because a week earlier my friend Timis said he had started reading The Hunger Games and wanted to see the movie after he finished. I told him I had just started it too and we agreed to both fly through the book and be done by last Friday so we could see the movie. Every time I talked to Timis during the week he said he was still reading along. I had nothing better to do last Sunday and promptly destroyed the first half of the book and used my lunch breaks to make quick work of the rest of it and finished by Wednesday. Side note, I'm not a great reader, and really haven't read a whole lot of books in my lifetime so for me to finish this book in a matter of days is a testament to how hooked I was and how easy of a read it is!

Long story short, when I met Timis and his wife for dinner at Chicago Pizza I was surprised to learn he hadn't even made it to the start of the games yet! We had a good laugh about this over dinner and had a good time catching up on the happenings of our lives and chatted about upcoming races.

We originally planned on seeing the 8:45 show but apparently everyone else did too and it was sold out, so we bought tickets to the 9:30 showing and jumped around the corner for a beer to kill time. I probably could have done without that last beer because in hindsight the shaky camera work of the movie combined with the cerveza wasn't a happy mix. It wasn't that  bad but I really was not all that happy with the first half of the movie and attributed it mostly to being buzzed and annoyed by how shaky the movie was. All in all the movie was okay in my opinion. Sadly I became the person I so much love to hate that when asked for an opinion on a movie the only thing you can say is "it wasn't as good as the book." Never in a million years did I want to be that guy but alas there I was. I enjoyed the movie for the most part but at the same time I was disappointed and the only reason I could come up with was there was no surprise to it. Instead of going into a movie with a vague idea of what would happen, I knew everything that would happen and a lot that didn't happen. I like to be surprised by a movie, not disappointed by what was left out. It actually has made me second guess whether I want to read the second and third books now or wait until after I see the movies, because let's be honest here, even after I see the movie I'll still learn a lot from the book that was left out from film.

Okay, off from my soap box. Because of the later movie time it was 12:30 by the time I got home and I still had to switch my laundry over so I would have shorts and socks for saturday mornings run.
I was up and out the door by 7am to meet my group for a long run, and while I was looking forward to the run, I was also desperately wanting to get it over with because after then run my family was heading to Detroit for the Tigers game!

I ended up only running ten miles because of time constraints, being tired, and the fact that I'm racing a half marathon this Saturday and didn't want to push it the week before.

After I showered up and got to my parents house, my mom, dad, sister, brother and his girl friend and I all loaded up into the truck and headed east to the D. We tailgated for a bit and then headed into the stadium for what ended up being a damn good game. As long as you aren't a Boston fan.

Saturday was my parents (yes both of em) Birthday and my dad turned 60 so we decided to take them to a game to celebrate. It was a perfect day, everything cooperated, the traffic, the weather and the outcome of the game! Cabrera and Fielder both connected for a pair of home runs each and Avila went yard as well! I'm so excited for baseball season to be here again!
Brother, Sister, and I

The Family
New Ginormous scoreboard!

Family that tailgates together, stays together!

The Birthday Couple!

Sunday we did the whole church thing, which was made interesting for once when the girl directly behind me passed out in the middle of the gospel! She's okay and I'm betting she's lucky it wasn't at one of those crazy big box churches! They might have thought she was possessed and needed to be saved...though this also might have livened things up from the typical mass...

After church we had a delicious lunch of pulled pork sandwhiches, cheesey taters, and some cole slaw. Not you're average Easter meal, but well received none the less! I also engorged myself on starburst jelly beans and sweedish fish! I somehow managed to make it all the way through lent with out eating candy and rewarded myself accordingly :-)

We followed lunch with a much needed nap and watching the Tigers game, which they won in fantastic come from behind, walk off home run fashion thanks to Avila! Did I mention I'm excited it's baseball season?

When the game finally ended I got to work on my car and fixed her up so I don't have to run to work anymore, but I am going to get a spare tube for my bike and start logging some miles on the road so that I feel comfortable enough that I can start riding to work.

Hope you all had wonderful weekends! I'm looking forward to this upcoming weekend too, I'll be racing the Martian Half Marathon in Dearborn, MI. Looks like it's back to the east side of the state!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Hoofin it bi-ped style!

So rememeber last week when I said I was going to add in a speed work day every week? Well that didn't happen this week.... I know, I know you're all saying "wow that lasted a long time!" but there were some unforseen circumstances that caused me to change my plans around this week.

Lets go back a few days shall we? Monday I met up with a few buddies for an easy 8  miles after work. It went really well, good run and good conversation. Tuesday I went for 7 miles after I got out of class and really tried to focus on my form, specifically trying to maintain a midfoot strike. Class doesn't get out til 8 so it was 9:30 by the time I finished my run and I still needed to get dinner! So I went and picked up an uber late dinner and upon arriving home, litterally in the driveway my car stalled out. Ruh-roh. After a couple of half ass attempts to restart it with no luck I pushed her in to the garage and said eff it, I'll deal with it tomorrow.

Lucky for me I live with  my sister and she is a school teacher who just happens to be on spring break this week. Since she had no plans of going anywhere Wednesday she let me use her car to get to and from work. After work I took a look at immobile mobile and figured out what I'm gonna have to do to get her rolling with out me having to Flintstone it.

My mom offered to let me use her car today to get to work but I decided that I wanted to hoof it instead. Being as it's only 7 miles to work this would allow me to get my workout in and actually kill two birds with one stone! As odd as it may seem, this is the first time that I can think of I've used the miles I run as actuall transportation to somewhere and not just as a workout haha.

So this morning bright and early I took the bladder out of my camelbak so I could use it as a small pack to carry a couple things I'd need with me at work. put on my headlamp and headed out the door. I actually got to use the sleeves I ordered from Running Warehouse a month or so ago and they worked well. I figured that way if it warmed up during the day I wouldn't have to wear them on the way home and that way I wouldn't need to take a short sleeve shirt with me. (it was about 40 degrees when I left this morning)

After work I made the same 7 mile journey home, albeit a little faster than originally intended, but there is a significant downhill for a good portion of the way home. I could also feel this mornings run in my legs and standing for 8 hours at work surely did not quicken the recovery process.

I'm pretty beat tonight and with a long run on deck for Saturday morning I decided to take my mom up on her offer to let me use her car for tomorrow's transportation needs. I'm so lucky to have an amazingly helpful and supportive family! I do own a kickin 1974 Schwinn 10 speed that I have intentions of riding to and from work a bit this summer but there are two big reasons I'm not doing that this week. First I want to get a spare tube and means of inflating that tube just in case of blowout, and second, I want to get a little more comfortable on a bike before I'm having to ride in rush hour traffic on my way home. I haven't had the best of luck on 2 wheels in the past five years so I'm a little nervous about the whole riding thing.

I'll hopefully get my car done on Sunday and back to normal transportation for next week. I won't be able to work on it Saturday because it's my parents Birthday and my siblings and I are taking them to the Tigers game to celebrate. Really looking forward to it, I'm so excited baseball season is here once again!

I hope you all have had stellar weeks and your weekends are even better!
p.s. next weekend I am racing a half marathon so even if everything else is back to normal I probably won't be doing much in the way of speed work then either....but the next week it's on like Donkey Kong!

Updated with pictures!!!!!!!!
Not bad lookin for 38 years old!
 Part of being nervous about riding bikes stems from my short lived motorcycle ownership. I had one for a couple of days and it didn't end well. Four stitches in my knee, being able to see my knee cap and pinky toe and a lot of bruised pride.
Results of stupidly buying a motorcycle and not being experienced

More carnage from 4 years ago