"There's only one hard and fast rule in running: sometimes you have to run one hard and fast."

Monday, February 9, 2009

This week in training and plotting

Stop reading this and congratulate Carl! 28:15 at Rocky Raccoon. Woo-hoo!

Monday: 8 miles in 72. Severe (excruciating) toothache just after.
Tuesday: 11 in 78, indoors at the Metrodome. Very varied pace, some sub 6 pace, some over 10 with my cousin. I started off burping chocolate and wine; somebody's Valentine's gifts are disappearing early! Mark S. and some others were playing a game of trying to catch up to me for just a second - I was really flying for part of the run. Got introduced to a woman who's exactly my type... and way out of my league... where's the rest of that wine?
Wednesday: 0
Thursday: 8 in 68 with 6x 1/2 mile in 3:19. Not used to running fast and, so, exhausted early.
Friday: 7 in 59. Involuntary slowing at 5 1/2 miles. Knee trouble at the end.
Saturday: 26 in 4:17. Ice, then unavoidable puddles. Shoes filled with sand. Right knee was wonky when making turns. Struggled a bit after 3 1/2 hours.
Sunday: 8 in 71. Left knee hurt for a change. Saw the first muskrat of the year, so spring is definitely on the way. Finished the run starving.

Why the letter H decides my plans this year

At FANS this year, the names to watch are Holmen, Henze, Hasse and Hans. Dave Holmen's already signed up; two years ago he did 124 miles and last year killed at Lean Horse. Mike Henze won last year in only his third ultra (finished second at Ice Age in his first 50 mile). Paul Hasse's hoping to get into Badwater, but this is probably his back-up plan and he's done 131 at FANS. Hans Bern Bauer tanked last year at FANS, but has done more than 140 in a day recently.

In the Fab 5 series, I'd like someone to push Joe Ziegenfuss, but I don't think it's going to be me, unless I get fast miraculously. Wynn was the obvious choice, but he's not entering this year. So, I start thinking about winning the master's division, which was pretty easy last year, but could be won this year by Mark Hanson or Steve Hagedorn, or very easily by Andy Holak; Dale Humphrey turns 50 this year and Adam Harmer has a couple of years before he joins the old-timers.

So the plan is still to rock FANS and Lean Horse. The back-up is to win the Fab 5 old-guy plaque. The back-up to the back-up is to finish all the Fab 5 races. The back-up to the back-up to the back-up is the MNTRS series, which could come down to who's willing to drive to the North Shore for short races. Suddenly, I'm up to 20 races totalling 700 miles; isn't that what went wrong last year?

Extended music metaphor

There are two recordings that explain my way of racing better than anything I could say.

In the 1920's, jazz was segregated and there was a search for a white answer to Louis Armstrong (as if that were possible). When Bix Beiderbecke drank himself to death at 28, the crown went to Bunny Berigan (who drank himself to death at 34). Bunny's best-known for one song: "I Can't Get Started." In it, he sings in an accurate, if reedy,tenor

I've been around the world in a plane
Settled revolutions in Spain
And the north pole I have charted
Still I can't get started with you.

As dated as it is, it's become a sort of theme song for me. It's at the end, though, that something happens. His trumpet solo is mesmerizing. On a first listen, after you get used to the mono recording, all you might notice is that he screws up. More than once. The more you know about trumpet, however, the more amazing it is. He heard the right notes in his head and tried for them, but they were impossible. But, failing the impossible, he managed the merely miraculous.

That explains emotionally how I approach a race.

In 1982, Richard and Linda Thompson recorded an album, "Shoot Out the Lights." It was the third they'd done since marrying; Richard as a soloist hadn't done much, because his voice wasn't great and he didn't have much maturity to his writing; as a team they grew. The marriage was failing by this album and the songs are all about a failing relationship. Richard's first solo album afterward was "Hand of Kindness," which has his best solo work, all about the misery of being alone and starting over.

The title song of "shoot Out the Lights" has what may be the greatest guitar solo ever (for metalheads, it's not a face-melting Vai or Satriani type solo). Frustrated, despondent, aching, he pours his heart into his guitar and turns it into a weapon - machine gun, chainsaw and flamethrower in one - and destroys everything in sight, leaving himself a completely spent shell of a man. When asked about it, he said he was high at the time and didn't remember recording it. He also added that he couldn't repeat it; some of what he did was impossible; he couldn't go back to that emotional space that allowed that solo to occur.

And that's how I race when I race well.

Favorite place to waste time this week? Georgie Fear's blog.

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