Friday, May 20, 2011

A slow commute


Today in Ann Arbor was Bike to Work Day. The Frazz comic above pretty much explains while I rolled in about 40 minutes late.

We started our commute with a stop at Sic Transit, our really local bike shop (literally down the street from us). We had good conversation and ogled the new "vintage" bikes they sell.

We moved on to the Farmer's Market where there were bike to work pins and speeches, but mostly, a very nice spread of breakfasty type stuff from Zingerman's.


Eventually, it was time to go since bike to work day ultimately means biking to work...

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

An invasion of Martians

No one would have believed in the first years of the twenty-first century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's…

With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter…

Yet across the gulf of space, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us…

And early on the morning of April 2 in Dearborn, MI came the great disillusionment…

As Angela and I walked to the start line of the race, I started to notice some strange things, like this police cruiser..


The first thing I found suspicious the green man driving the car. And then I noticed the writing on the side of the car: “Be nice to people.”  Very clever. Lull the people into a false sense of security until the mother ship commands the start of the full scale invasion.

Despite my concerns, I continued to the start line of the 10K.


The race started and I found myself one of thousands of runners. Using my GPS, I hit my planned pace and stuck with it for the first 5K. Actually ran my fastest 5K ever. Unfortunately, I had 5K to go. As the race went on, I slowed down a bit. At first I thought it was due to the fact that it’s really early in the season and that I haven’t been doing a lot of mileage or speed-work yet. Then I realized what was really happening… the mother ship was using the hidden alien chip within my GPS to cause my body to slow down. That must have been it because it was soon after that I started to notice the Martians. They were everywhere; they were after me…


I mean, why else would I look like this doing something supposedly fun.

I have to say that Angela saved me at the last minute. When she wasn’t carrying things, shuttling things back and forth from the car to the race area and cheering me on, she was tackling Martians. Here’s one that she put out of commission by tying him to a tree…


Ended up finishing just out of the top 10, but very pleased with the performance, especially so early in the season. I’ll probably return next year, where I fear the Martians are plotting for an even greater invasion…


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Shamrocks and Shenanigans

Two hundred eager kids in various shades of green amass at the start line. Parents on the sidelines ranging from stressed to enthusiastic. The sound of a horn, and they’re off. This is the kid’s dash – 1K around a portion of the 5K Shamrocks and Shenanigans course I’ll be running in just a bit.
Every season is different and every race is different. This race is the earliest 5k I have run in a season, so I don’t know what to expect.
The kids come back around. Parents are cheering. Bag pipers are piping (I thought it was a Scottish thing, and this is an Irish holiday but what do I know). The leaders cross the finish line – 3 of the top 5 are girls. It will be quite a many years before the boys catch up in speed. But each passing year at all age levels marks a closing of the gap between boys and girls in distance. In fact, I believe I have recently read that women have the advantage at longer distances, but I digress…
I bike into town on my new cherry red cruiser and park it outside of a local café and walk to the race area.
It is a block further west of the downtown street I am most familiar with and it surprises me to see that over the years a string of new businesses in brightly colored houses and buildings have emerged. It’s always neat to discover something new in a town you’ve lived in more than half of your life.
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After the kid’s race I start my warm up. As per my plan – at fifteen minutes before the start, warm up for 10 minutes, then get in line. And so I begin. About 5 minutes in a volunteer yells to me – hurry up, they’re going to start – and even though my watch tells me I have 10 minutes left I cut my warm-up short and head to the start line. And it is a good thing because they start the race 6 minutes early (or my watch is 6 minutes late). Note to self: Synchronize watch with race time and stay in sight of start line.
I line up based on my pace at the end of the season. On the front line, just ahead of me is this guy from the race back in December. He drew my attention at the start at that race for talking quite loudly about his terrific speed to the other runners at the very front. In that race he was in the top 10…for the first 30 seconds, before just breaking down and finishing somewhere in the middle of hundreds of other runners. The horn sounds, and we’re off. I hang back a little. Mr. Loud Talker is elbowing people out of the way. I lose sight of the first 20 or so runners as we round a corner. The next thing I know, I’m passing Mr. Loud Talker who is already spent. But this race is not about him. That is just passing amusement.
I try to settle into a steady pace. This is kind of difficult for a couple of reasons. For one, the course is very hilly. The second is frankly, I’m not all that good at it. I tend to go out a little fast. Not Mr. Loud Talker fast, but fast enough that I slow down as the race goes on. I look for someone who is going at a pace that seems fast but sustainable for me. Not having much luck. Like Goldilocks, I find that this one is too fast, and this one is too slow. Finally, with about 2K to go, this one is just right. Some guy who apparently ran the Detroit Marathon the previous fall. Then we hit a hill and he slows down and I’m on my own again. The last half of the course is a bit of a challenge because of the walkers. Parts of the course have multiple laps, so now I’m lapping people. Stroller to the left; Large woman with headphones, pumping her elbows really wide to the right; obese labrador retriever getting dragged by college student straight ahead; quite an obstacle course.
Lungs are burning. Don’t know my heart rate (my best method for pacing myself) as my chest strap has slipped in the first mile and is now around my waist. Guess the one drawback to losing weight over the winter. Doesn’t matter at this point. The end is in sight: inflated Red Bulls finish line comes into view. Cheering crowds. Bag pipes. Finish.
Hanging out in the outdoor temporary beer garden outside of the local Irish Pub, I wait for my results. Wishing Angela was here. Or even that my phone worked so I could at least tell her I was done. Another note to self: If the phone is free, it probably sucks.
Results are posted. I’m third in my age group. Two thoughts at this point. First is that I am proud. My pace was essentially the same as my fastest from last year. Second thought: Damn it! Now I have to wait for awards. And wait. It’s past noon at this point, so I treat myself to a recovery drink that seems appropriate to the event.
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Half an hour later, they’re packing it up. No awards ceremony. I finally ask a volunteer what gives; The response: You can pick up your award at our store 6 miles away any time after noon tomorrow. Pretty anticlimactic.
So I buy my wife something nice, hop on the cruiser, and head on home. Looking forward to the next race. This one will have Martians.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Choosing your criteria for success

During our briefings, the judge at the trial this weekend reminded us that there is more than one criteria for success; a qualifying score, which can be rather hard to come by, is just one measure.

About 16 months ago, I came to the same conclusion, and have been instead trying to focus on what went right, and what can I learn from what went wrong.

This last weekend Django and Angela, Maebe and me had four runs over two days.  The qualifying score measure of success of two Q’s between us does not tell the whole story.

For Django, there was the story of his fastest most inspired runs; some of Angela’s best handling, recovery from situations that on other weekend became off-courses.


For Maebe, there were near perfect runs, tight handling, conversation stopping performances, and me remembering to really play with my dog immediately after each run, every single time, even when people came up afterwards to talk to me.


I also got to test out a new project of mine – an agility performance tracking sheet that allows you to measure your level of success an more than a dozen different areas; it allows you to celebrate your strengths; identify areas for improvement; and preserve the memory of your run. You can access a copy of it here or click on the image below. Please let me know what you think of it via comments, and if you want to share it with others, please send them the link to this post so I can track how often it’s being accessed.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year from the Dharmaspoon Guy

2010 was a great year.  Some highlights:

Our tenth wedding anniversary

Road trip to Florida

Lots of agility

Lots of racing

Lots of knitting

Lots of dog walks

Lots of feline shenanigans

Lots of time with friends and family

Celebrating the change of the seasons

A picture a day, every day

Speaking of which, here’s what our year looked like, more or less, in a single picture:


Hope you finished off a wonderful 2010 and have an even better 2011. – DSG

Friday, December 17, 2010

The last hustle of 2010

A few weekends ago I ran my last race of the season, a 5K “Holiday Hustle”. The weather was cold. My lungs burned with every breath. When I was done I could taste my own blood.
Every race has it’s theme. This time, it was working through discomfort, a skill I have to confess, is one that needs some improvement.
I’ve been reading a lot lately about top runners and one thing they have in common is that their training, their genetics, only take them so far. After a point, what makes them perform amazing physical feats is the mental ability to push through their discomfort, their pain, their apparent limitations and tough it out.
Now I primarily race against myself.  Yes, I enjoy placing and the accompanying swag that goes with it, but that’s not what motivates me (entirely). I want to see how far I can push myself. I like to challenge my mind and my body and running allows me to do both. And this race, more than any other this season, challenged me to work through an intense burn with every breath.  My reward was that I ran my fastest 5K of the season (and the sole ornament for our little Christmas tree).
As I reflect on my running season, I realize that my success came from not just my efforts alone, but the support of my wife, Angela, and Cadence, when she brought him, who were always there to cheer me on, either at the finish line or at the start.  For them I am grateful.