Glass in Glasgow

Goddess and I just got back from a wonderful eight days in the United Kingdom.

A lot to catch up on here in the house, so I don’t have much time to update.  But I wanted to share the impetus for the trip.

A few months ago, Goddess was doing her internet perusing (dreaming), looking at travel destinations and/or concerts.  As you probably know, we’re big fans of traveling to new places.  And if we can sync up a concert with those travels, all the better.

So Goddess scored.

By finding a concert in a place we haven’t been.

Two nights in Glasgow, Scotland to see Philip Glass perform live.

The rest of the trip (to be covered later) was to be built around that.

Friday night was a double treat – Philip Glass performing with Kronos Quartet, another favorite of mine.  They performed Philip’s soundtrack to the Bela Lugosi‘s performance as Count Dracula.

Here’s a quick of Philip talking about the evolution of the project (along with a view of the performers and stage setup):

And it was Goddess’ first time ever seeing the movie, so that made it fun.

And just in case you haven’t seen it:

The second night was originally billed to be just Philip solo on piano, which is always incredible.  But just a couple of weeks ago, we found that the evening had been modified to include Tim Fain, an accomplished American violinist.

As it turned out, it was this exact same show, which was fine, because it’s so much better in person, especially with seats just 30 feet away.

http://www.metmuseum.org/metmedia/video/concerts/glass-chamber-works-with-philip-glass-and-tim-fain

That now makes three times that we’ve seen Philip Glass perform live.  I hope for many more, since I’ve been a huge fan of his for thirty years now.  The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall was quite nice, but I don’t think it was a match, both visually and acoustically, for the Schermerhorn in Nashville.

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Schermerhorn Symphony Center. Image ©Thomas Clay

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a better resolution image of the inside of the Glasgow hall.  It certainly wasn’t lacking for quality.  I just preferred the Schermerhorn.

And if you look on the left side of Glasgow hall, you can see the forward corner of the loge level, just next to the front row.  That’s the corner that Goddess and I sat in for the showing of Dracula.  So we had front row seats.  For the second night, we picked the opposite corner, but just a few seats to the left, so we were even with the second/third row.

And those tickets were an unbelievable £25 (about $38 US) each!  And neither performance was sold out, which was a shame.

All in all, the music and the experiences were amazing.

Whew

All done with this training cycle.  Now for a bit of active recovery this coming week.

But first, I need to give credit where credit is due.  I’m married to a true Goddess.  The one who asks me what I want to do during my holiday break, to which I answer “sleep and run”, and she gives me that “Are you serious?” look, to which she already knows the answer.

So that’s what I did over the past two weeks, which was my last Base period before racing at the end of January.

All told, 110.97 miles of running in the past two weeks; 50.43 miles last week, 60.54 miles this week.  Snow, rain, well below freezing, well above freezing.  The whole stinkin’ gamut.  And it was all good.

I did get a few commutes to/from work on the bike, but swapped one ride home for a run, which served two purposes.  And instead of 35 minutes to get home, it took 1:20.  So it really didn’t impact the home life too much.

And the runs were a mix of short hill runs, medium tempo runs and long steady runs.  In other words, a normal training plan.  But it wasn’t all normal.

- A 10-mile tempo+ run last Monday, which started out slow thanks to the 50 miles of the previous week.  The first three miles were OK, but nothing to get excited about.  Then the gears switched and I was rolling through the forest at a comfortable clip, finding my groove.  The (+) portion of the tempo was when I decided to go visit an old friend, the pain cave, whose threshold I hadn’t crossed in quite a while.  I didn’t want to get too deep in, but decided to head over, open the door, look around the make sure that the drapes hadn’t been stolen.  Nothing was disturbed, but there was definitely a layer of dust from lack of use.  I’ll have to get back there soon.  So even after the slow opening miles, I finished the 10 miles just a few minutes off my 10-mile PR.  But I did feel it the next day.

- The 20-miler on New Year’s Eve was a mixed bag of weather.  It was a steady 45F, rapidly changing from sun to pouring rain and back again.  Since the rain was going to be intermittent, I left the shell at home, which made for a few borderline hypothermic moments.  Luckily it cleared out just before sunset, which let it cool down quickly into the upper 30’s(F).  So soaking wet, cold.  I couldn’t get into a warm shower fast enough.  But that worked out well, since it was New Year’s Eve.

- New Year’s Eve detraining – lots of resveratrol was consumed, which my doc (“drink early, drink often”) swears is good for my heart.  And let me tell you, the German’s know how to greet a new year.  I swear every family up and down the street bought hundreds of euro of fireworks.  It looked like a war zone out there.  It did my teenaged-boy heart good.  And though I was perfectly fine the next day, I just didn’t get out the door to run.

- Today’s 15-miler through the ice/snow was great, especially considering the amount of miles these legs have endured in the past 14 days.  Although after a poor night of sleep, I wasn’t too motivated.  Goddess got me through that (something about “get out now”).  The legs were heavy and tired, but found their rhythm after a few miles.  Then a nice negative split.  Nothing too drastic, but considering the abuse that I’ve put myself through, I can’t be anything but pleased with that.  It was a great way to close out the cycle.

So now it’s a recovery week, which will include some thigh-busting skiing in the Alps.  And if that doesn’t teach the quads who’s boss, I don’t know what will.

=====================================

Year in Review – 2009

Lots of thoughts during these long runs about posting a year in review.  Some discussion with other folks on their year’s in review.  For me, the review is only meaningful to the one posting it, unless the numbers posted are compared to the year’s goals and/or previous year’s totals.  Otherwise they’re just numbers.

So for those of you who want numbers, you won’t find them here (unless you read above).  I look through my numbers fairly often in both Training Peaks and SportTracks.  Matter of fact, I keep a rolling 10- and 28-day chart in my SportTracks to make sure I’m not doing anything too crazy.  With the move to Germany this year, there wasn’t any sense in setting annual goals, since there were way too many variables.  All of my short-term goals were early in the year (March’s LBL 60K and April’s Country Music Marathon) and were resounding successes, even if I didn’t meet certain time goals.  I learned quite a bit, including how much I enjoy a good trail run.

But thanks to the commute to/from work, my bike mileage jumped considerably over last year, which had a six-month chunk taken out thanks to a deployment to Iraq.  No cycling during that time.

And what will 2010 bring?  Who knows.  A 50K at the end of January, then I’ll start searching for something to do later in the year.  The Antwerp 70.3 looks fun (I love that distance triathlon), but finding a swimming pool with good hours is a trick.  The local pool is open 10am-10pm, but is too far from work for a lunchtime swim.  After work I’m usually too knackered to do anything.  Plus, that’s Goddess’ time.  So unless I think I can pull off a 70.3 without any lap time…

So here’s to a great year for each and every one of you.  If you’re one that makes resolutions, I hope that the resolve you currently have lasts through the year.

Breathe!

Seriously, I needed to remind myself (and Goddess) to do just that.

Over the past couple of weeks, post-duathlon and post-CMM, we’ve been busy taking care of vehicles and getting the house packed.

Vehicles?  We had to take my ‘64 Chevy truck down to my parent’s house for storage.  It made it about halfway before the transmission went thermo-nuclear.  Seriously, on the side of the freeway that thing was white hot, boiling off all the transmission fluid.  So we drug it the rest of the way.  Then the Subbie made a trip to St Louis so it could be shipped to Germany.

Then the house was packed.

But in the meantime, a good friend made it to Nashville.  So we made a trip, had some drinks, and enjoyed his reminiscing of growing up in that town while seeing (through his eyes) how things have changed.

Then last Saturday was the Elton John/Billy Joel concert.  Three and a half hours of some of my favorite karaoke songs.  We definitely had a great time.

The last of the moves is tomorrow morning. 

And here’s a pic a couple of hours before the concert.  The shirt says it all (after the sign):

Xing

Then we finally made it to the local running club’s monthly meeting.  We got to meet Runnermom, as well as the guy who I suspected was drafting during the duathlon.  I recognized him, then when we met he said “Hey, I read your blog”.  It could have been awkward, but it wasn’t.  Good folks all around.

Finally, over the weekend Goddess prevailed and I finally set up a Facebook account.  It has been everything I feared, namely a huge time suck.  But then again, I’ve already talked to people I haven’t seen in over 20 years, so it’s a good thing.

In the meantime, man I’ve really got to get a run or two in.  Next weekend is the 10-hour overnight “Run Under the Stars”.  I haven’t put a single mile in in the past two weeks thanks to all of the other activities.  Hopefully it just means that I’m well-rested.

I may or may not get a race-report in after that one.  I finish at 6am Sunday morning, run a 5K (Run for Beer) at 5pm Sunday afternoon, then fly to Germany on Tuesday.  So I’ll fit it in when I can.

CMM 2009 – A Race Report (of sorts)

Well, you’ve already seen the final results, so I won’t rehash that.

And we don’t have much in the way of photos, so I can’t post those.

But I can post this:

 

Pre-race

– The forecast as far as ten days out was for a hot, dry day.  But I know that 10-day forecasts are a roll of the dice, so I kept my fingers crossed.  Unfortunately, as race day approached, the forecast held true.  My goal when I registered for this race was to break four hours.

– Four hours for me would be a huge PR.  An over-reaching PR, considering my PR is 4:25:40, which was on a much, much hillier course.  But I knew where my fitness and preparation put me, so four hours was not out of the question.  But I’d definitely have to work for it.

– With a forecast of 70F at the start and mid-80’s by noon, I knew that I needed to adjust my plans to just get through the race.  Time goals should go out the window.  But I don’t give up that easy.  I still planned on pacing for a four hour run, with a negative split.  I’d evaluate where I was by the half-way point and push as hard as I could, regardless of the conditions.  Also, the wind was forecast to get gusty from the south, which may or may not help.

– My mom and sister were in town.  Sister would walk the half-marathon with Goddess, while mom would come down and support.  But she also planned to meet a friend for brunch while we were out flogging ourselves.  And since she couldn’t ride the shuttle to the start line from the parking area at the finish, we had to leave early so I could drop off all three at the start line, then head across town to park the car and ride the shuttle back.  So we were headed out the door at 3:45 am.  So much for my own advice from last year where I said that I’d get a hotel room next time we ran this race.

Race

– I read that they had sang the national anthem and made several announcements before the start.  But unlike last year, they didn’t have loudspeakers along the length of the masses. So we never heard it.

– As forecast, 70F and humid at the start.  They adjusted the course this year to take a longer loop through the landmarks in the downtown area.  An excellent sightseeing option, but included quite a few more hills.

– As always, great crowd support along the majority of the course.  With 31,352 registered runners, there were lots of friends and family and locals supporting the crowd.  It definitely added a lot of energy to the course.

– The course was very crowded for the first eight miles.  With so many runners, there’s just no way around it, even with the wave start.  But that worked out well, since it forced me to keep my pace under control.

– A quick potty stop at 4.6 miles, thanks to the ungodly lines at the start area.  Sure, they probably had 100 porta-potties in the start area, but that’s nowhere near enough for 31,352 runners.  There were news reports of people complaining about the lack of TP in the porta-johns.  We found that out last year, so we brought our own. 

– The half- and full-marathon routes split at 11.5 miles.  With only 3,961 running the marathon, the course emptied out real quick.  So did the spectators, although we still had some great pockets of support until we met up with the half-marathon group again at 19.5 miles.

– At the 13.1-mile point, I was right on my planned pace to break four hours.  I hit the half-marathon at 2:03:35, which poised me well for a comfortable negative split.  But even when I reached this point, I knew that sub-4 wouldn’t happen.  Thanks to a tailwind for the past six miles, the heat was already getting to me.  I was running a comfortable 9:15-ish pace, but my heart rate was wavering between 150-155, which is high Zone 4 for me.  I backed off a bit to see if the heart rate would settle down, which it didn’t, even though this portion of the course was pretty flat; a couple of minor hills pushed me into Zone 5, even though I was backing off the pace. 

– By mile 14, I kept thinking about the mantra – “It’s not who’s fastest, but who slows down least”.  Folks were fading fast.  Much faster than me.  I was feeling good and was still positive on the outcome.

– Out along the flat of the river between miles 15-17, many folks were commenting on how surprised they were at how hilly the first half was.  I was surprised last year, too, so I understand where they were coming from.  If you run this race, IT IS NOT FLAT!  Matter of fact, the hill during mile 18, especially after several flat miles, will kick your ass.  Up until this point, I had only been walking the water stops.  But starting at this hill, I had several unplanned walk sessions.  I started feeling gentle cramping in the quads, but nothing debilitating.  So I just kept running through it and keeping a close eye on things, backing off before things locked up on me.  Here’s the profile of this year’s course, with 1,420’ of elevation gain and 1,525’ of elevation loss, for a net loss of 105’:

CMM 2009 Elevation ProfileSo how do you like the look of that wall at mile 18?  It feels like it looks.

– Joining back up with the half-marathon crowd at mile 19.5 was interesting.  So many on both sides of the street were walking.  The only disappointing thing about the course changes was that it took away the most interesting view for me.  Last year, we rejoined at about mile 18.5 and the way the courses were laid out, we ran straight at each other for half a mile before we turned and followed the same road.  With such a huge difference in the number of runners between the half and full, it was a very surreal scene.  But not this year.

– Just after mile 20, it was very, very tempting to turn right with the half marathon crowd and run the last 400 yards to the half-marathon finish line, ending the marathon at about 20.5 miles.  But I wasn’t going to do that.  The tide turned on me a bit through the next few miles as I started to get passed by more than I was passing.  But I was still moving forward, unlike many others.

– The next few miles where where I really started noticing the heat casualties.  The medical support crews were getting their workouts in, sprinting from one crumpled heap to the next.  Most folks were OK, just needing to set down for a bit in the shade.  But quite a few got rides to the hospital.  The sirens were wailing for the last few hours that we were in the area.

– Several times over the last five miles, folks had hoses out.  That really helped.  The winds were gusty at this point, so any amount of water on the body helped cool me down.  Honestly, at this point the heat wasn’t getting to me.  I was overall pretty comfortable, since I was keeping myself soaking wet with cups of water and the hoses.  At one point I even asked a guy if he’d be uncomfortable if I told him I loved him.  He had a good laugh, which was the intent.  The volunteers really rocked, standing out in the sun all day to make sure we were comfortable.

– The last mile was good.  I called my mom, who was waiting at the finish line.  I told here that I’d be there in about ten minutes.  So I couldn’t disappoint.  I started pushing the pace, really keeping the quads on the edge of cramping up.  I turned the tide again and started passing people left and right.  The crowds started getting thicker and completely lined both sides with about one-half mile left.  They definitely helped me push the pace as hard as I could.  The mile between 25-26 was a 9:05 and the last .2 mile was average 7:43, with the last hundred yards peaking at 6:22 and my heart rate deep into zone 5c (>167bpm).  Another strong, strong finish.  I just wish I knew where that energy was earlier in the race.

– Right after the finish I struggled to stay upright as mom pointed me towards the showers to cool down.  They were a huge relief.  I stood there for a few minutes and caught my breath, then moved to get my finisher’s medal.  Right after the lovely lady put it around my neck, another lovely lady handed me two sponges that had been soaking in ice water.  One went down the back of my shirt, one went down the front.

Post-race

– CMM has a good post-run spread for the runners before releasing them “into the wild”.  Lots of food and drink.  And dozens of coolers full of ice-cold Cytomax, my preferred post-run beverage. 

– Lots of sirens wailing in the distance. 

– Goddess and my sister walked on in, finishing another half-marathon together.  I know they weren’t comfortable, but I’m proud of both of them for pushing through and finishing in the heat.

 

Vignettes

– The porta-potty stop was funny.  I spied two of them at mile 4.5 and bee-lined for them, even though it meant I had to cut across half the road (and the masses).  I got there to find no line at all.  Both porta-potties were shaking pretty violently.  The doors flung open on both at the same time and two very, very portly police officers walked out.  Turns out the porta-potties were setting on the edge of the wheelchair ramp for the corner, so they were not even.  Standing in there was like standing in the back of a Greyhound bus as it speeds down the rough interstate.  It was an experience.

– To the volunteer working at the water stop at mile 10, I am truly sorry.  Just a few feet earlier, I was handed a cup full of Cytomax and ice.  It was very refreshing.  But I couldn’t  eat the ice.  I didn’t want to just drop the cup since someone would slip on the ice.  So I looked for a break in the runners and a clear area to toss the cup off to the side of the road.  So I did.  What I didn’t see was the girl standing at the table.  The cup hit the edge of the curb and shot ice up everywhere, which clearly surprised her.  Again, I AM SORRY!

– Right before the two races split at mile 11.5, several guys had a beer table set up.  I asked if they would be at mile 25, which they laughed at.  Bastages.  ;^).

– A few feet after the beer table, a couple was running with their recently acquired beer.  Just as I passed, she dropped her cup right next to her, spraying beer all over my legs.  Clearly she was the karmic twin of the water table lady.  Damn that’s karma is a bitch.

– All along the course there were bands and cheerleading squads.  Just after the half-marathon point, a cheerleading squad was in costume as the “Heffers”.  They were wearing shirts and pants made to look like they were cows.  Pretty funny.  But girls, I must tell you that tying inflated surgical gloves on your belly to look like udders probably wasn’t the best thing to do.  Just a thought.

– At the top of the long hill at mile 18, I saw and experienced something that choked me up.  Everyone was walking or shuffling along.  Off to the side stood a brother and sister, both aged right around 6-8 years old.  They were standing side-by-side, holding out their hands to give the runners high-5’s.  Every single runner that I saw completely broke their line in order to walk single file between the two of them and give them high-5’s.  Awesome!

– At about mile 19.5, when both races were headed down the same street, but on opposite sides, I saw a family waiting for mom.  The son, who was probably 8, was making some odd motions with his hands.  As I got next to him, I saw that he was watching a caterpillar walk on his fingers.  Very cool.

– At mile 21, a lady was cheering “If this were any easier, we’d call it football”.  I laughed.  Then a few miles later I laughed as I saw a guy headed out to the turnaround wearing a shirt with the same saying. 

– At the water stop just before mile 25, a couple ran by and said “Hey, we did that race”.  I was wearing my race shirt from my LBL 60K, mainly because it was so small and breathable.  Apparently they had a different experience than I, because when I said that I had more fun there, the wife said “No way, there was too much mud”.  I couldn’t have disagreed more.  I never saw them again.

 

The GBU

The Good:

– My performance.  Even though I was shooting for a sub-4 race and I didn’t get it, then shooting for any PR (and didn’t get it), I finished this course less than three minutes slower than last year, when it was rainy, cloudy and 20 degrees cooler.  That right there proved to me that had conditions been similar, I would have crushed my PR.

– Fueling, hydration and electrolyte intake went very, very well.

Nip Guards.  I had never worn these before.  I broke the cardinal rule and used something in a race that I had never used before.  But given the forecasted temps, I knew that I couldn’t wear my standard tight lycra shirt under my running shirt.  I’d roast (and likely would have DNF’d).  So we saw these at the expo and grabbed them.  They were great!

– I picked up a great shirt at the expo.  It’s for a run that I wish I could participate in, but we’ll be in Germany.  It’s The Bourbon Chase, a 200-mile relay race along the Bourbon Trail of Kentucky.  Right through the mother lode of great American bourbon.  The shirt is a great performance t-shirt, with the saying “Will Run for Bourbon” emblazened across the front.

The Bad - Other than the porta-potty lines at the start area, not much.  But…

– Lots of people broke the cardinal rule of t-shirts, namely “Do not wear the shirt of the event that you are parcipating in, before you finish the race”.  Not that I’m a stickler for such things, but for the marathon, that meant that the folks were wearing a black technical shirt.  Granted, the shirt was very light and airy, but I’m absolutely sure that the black really heated those folks up.  C’mon folks, spend the $15 for a light-colored singlet at the expo.

The Ugly – For me, not a single thing.  But I am saddened by the death of a local Soldier, who collapsed and died right after finishing the half marathon.  His mother and father were out from Montana and ran the half also, so they were both there when it happened.  The medical authorities were adamant that it wasn’t heat related, first explaining that it was a “sudden cardiac event”.  Reports today say that his lungs were filled with fluid.  Regardless of the cause, a seemingly healthy young man’s life ended.

So that’s the race.  In a very, very large nutshell.

With bands every mile and tons of cheering support over most of the course, I can definitely recommend this one.  But be warned that it is a huge race, with over 31,000 people.  And it’s expected to grow even more in the coming years.

If you do decide to do this race, I’ll leave you with this little hint:

— If you are parking, DO NOT follow the crowd and use the exits from I-24 next to LP Field; you’ll be in line for hours.  Instead, take the I-40/I-65 exit for Charlotte Ave, then cut east across downtown and cross the Woodland Street Bridge (the same one you’ll run across later).  I was able to pull straight into an empty parking lot right across the street from LP Field and right into a waiting shuttle bus.  All told, the whole trip, from dropping Goddess, my mom and sister off until I was back with them, took me 30 minutes.  Much better than the hour sitting in line just to get off the interstate last year.

CMM 2009

Just a quick post.  Family’s in town and lots of things going on right now, so the race report will wait.

Let’s just say it was freakin’ hot.  The temperature at the 7am start was right around 70F (21C) and it just got hotter from there.  By noon, it was 86F (30C) with a gusty southerly wind of 12-25mph.  All week long I knew that it was to be a run of survival, although I was still motivated to break four hours.  That didn’t happen.  But I’m still quite pleased with the results, considering the conditions.

Finished in 4:32:20, less than three minutes slower than last year’s edition, which was overall 20F (11C) cooler.

 

image

Even with the heat, I was on track through the half marathon to negative split and break four hours.  But even then I already knew it wasn’t going to happen.  I was OK with that.

Lots of folks took rides in ambulances.  The heat was taking its toll.  Unfortunately, a 25-year old Soldier collapsed and died after finishing the half-marathon, but they are saying it wasn’t heat related, but a “cardiac event”.

Damn shame.

Warning

“Warning: This concert will be extremely loud and consist of continuous strobing lights”.

Ummm, as if there’s any other way for a concert to be?  And posting an 8.5×11″ sheet of printed paper on the door of the arena as you enter is ample warning?

Hehe, as if the people that bought tix to last night’s show didn’t know what they were getting themselves into.

And it was a completely different crowd from Thursday night’s B.B. King concert that Goddess and I enjoyed.  Completely different.  And that’s why Goddess stayed home.

Did I mention it would be loud and out of control?  Check.  It was.

My ears are still ringing.

The body is tired.  As it should be after two hours in the crowd and flailing around in the pit.  I wonder how I can track that in my journal.  Perhaps it would count as an interval workout.

First up was Trivium.  Meh.  Technically a good band, musically pretty soulless.  The guitarist could throw down some decent chords, but it was all about trying to impress, not build a good song.  One of Son’s friends that accompanied us loves this band and took quite a bit of offense when we told him that they just weren’t good.

Next up was Coheed and Cambria.  We saw them last year when they were warm-up for Linkin Park.  They did not impress then, they did not impress now.  Next.

Now for the loud and out of control.

Slipknot!

Photo by David Shaw
Photo by David Shaw

These guys know how to put on a show.  They lived up to expectations.  Their 100-minute show was a non-stop visual and aural assault.  Hands down one of the best concerts I’ve been to (and I’ve been to quite a few over the past 30 years).

The real surprise was the crowd.  I fully expected an out-of-control, violent explosion of bodies from the get-go.  Not so much.  The crowd was definitely excited and fully in to the band, but we had to work our way completely through the crowd to find the pit.  Once we got there, I was surprised to find out how well-mannered it was.  They were actually abiding by proper pit etiquette, making sure no fists went above chest level and no kicking.  Everyone was looking out for each other and if anyone went down, ten sets of hands instantaneously went down to pick the guy up off the floor.

For those who have never experienced it, I know that from the outside a pit sure looks violent.  Sometimes it is.  And those are the ones I stay out of, mainly because I have a very short fuse.  I grew up in the pits of the SoCal punk scene during the ’80s, where we all looked out for each other.  It’s not about getting hurt or hurting someone else, it’s about enjoying the music and letting off some steam.  If an outsider showed up and wanted to get violent, he usually got his wish and the pit returned to normal.  In these big shows, there typically isn’t that sense of brotherhood.  Last night was different.

A good introduction for a friend, who had never experienced anything like that before.

Anyway, back to the show.

Y’all likely have been to concerts where the performer works the crowd.  Slipknot worked the crowd, but I guarantee it was like none other.  Several times some of the guys (there are nine in the band) left the stage and walked through the crowd.  No barriers.  One even walked up between a couple of sections in the arena, then wend his way through the aisles, actually having to step over shocked concert-goers to make it to the next section.  Even on the floor we got to high-five one of the percussionists, Shawn “Clown” Crahan, as he worked through the floor crowd.

If they’re your cup of tea, you’ll go.  If not, watch the videos below (volume down if you prefer) and watch the entertainment factor.

Although this video is a few years old, it’s still a pretty darn good representation of what last night was like.

And a cell-phone video from a couple of weeks ago that shows some of the energy of this year’s tour:

Definitely a good time.

Wrap Up

Well, the miles are really cranking by.

As of yesterday, I have 231 miles for the year, consisting of 41 runs in the 45 days.  I do take one rest day per week, no matter what.  And that day is always Sunday.

The consistency is really starting to show the benefits.  Even after a very hilly 16-miler on Friday, I was still able to crank out a sub 60-minute 7.5-miler on a very hilly course on Saturday.  Today the legs are twitching, ready to run.  But they won’t get it.  It’s rest day.

I covered 54 miles this week.  I have not been in this territory for weekly running mileage since high school some 23-24 years ago.  Back then it was all about collecting miles.  Volume was king.  Nothing else mattered.  And I was doing a fine, fine job of driving myself to consistent over-training and serious injury.  How I didn’t I still don’t know.

But now it’s completely different.

I am really amazed at how well I’m able to handle it now.  I’m pretty confident that the periodization helps, not only during the yearly schedule, but weekly and daily.  Rest, not volume, is king.  Smart training leads to bigger gains.

Now I just need to hold it together the next couple of weeks as I push to 65 miles per week and then start my taper for next month’s 60K.

Off to Nashville again tonight for another concert.  This time with Son while Goddess holds down the fort.  That means it’s loud and likely to get out of control.

Whooo hooooo!!!

The Thrill Is Gone

Ummm.  Yeah, no it’s not.  Not even close.

But what a great tune.

One we got to see played live Thursday night.

First off, for those of you who are fretting over the silliness known as Valentine’s Day – I’m sorry.  Goddess let me off the hook regarding that day while we were dating.  Simply put, the day doesn’t make her feel special, so what’s the point?

Instead we celebrate (Goddess’) Day.  I inserted (Goddess) to save you all from the pain of my syrupy pet name for Goddess.  Besides, it’s just between me and her.

Anyway, (Goddess’) Day happens to fall on February 16th, which is the day that I proposed to her in the middle of White Sands National Monument in New Mexico.  Right at sunset.  That day makes her feel special.  And no, the thrill is definitely not gone.  And if you ever get a chance to visit WSNM, I highly recommend it.

Picture by kds4850
Picture by kds4850

So last week, I happened to browse across the link for the B.B. King concert at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, which sold out in minutes back in December (so I thought).  Much to my surprise, I found that there were actually a few seats available.  We’re both big fans, so I snatched up two and decided to make a night of it to celebrate (Goddess’) Day.

What a great show!

The warm-up act was Buddy Guy, who was just amazing.  His set was unfortunately only one hour long, which he filled with ten minute songs and jams.  Seriously.  Thirty minutes into his show and he was just finishing up his third song.  And he’s quite a showman, playing tricks with his guitar while playing, even leaving the stage and strolling through the audience while playing.  He had the whole place rocking, which takes on a new dimension in the Ryman, which is an old church with a wooden floor and wooden pews for seats.

Which makes for amazing acoustics.

After a 45-minute intermission, which proved once again that the Ryman is the only place I’ve ever been where the line for the men’s room is huge and the women walk straight on in, B.B.’s band took the stage.

The next two hours were incredible.  B.B. even apologized for keeping us so late, ending the show after 11pm.  But he was clearly having a great time.  And that’s what impressed me the most.  Here’s an 83-year-old guy who’s been playing for over sixty years (he even mentioned that he was playing clubs before most of our parents were born), but he clearly loves what he’s doing.

And the two thousand people in attendance definitely loved what he was doing too.  The entire show pulled hoots and hollers from the crowd, lots of clapping in time and plenty of toe tapping.  Again, on the wooden floors and pews, the toe tapping takes on a whole new feel.  During quiet portions of songs, the crowd kept time, which sounded pretty good.  Except there are quite a few in the audience that didn’t have any rhythm.  Some so bad that it’s a wonder that they could even procreate.

Here’s Buddy and B.B. playing together (in what appears to be a video from the 80’s).  No video or pics from last night’s performance.  The camera nazi’s were in full force, swooping down on people as soon as they lifted a camera.  A few were even escorted out after repeated warnings.

After the show, we were starving.  We were hoping to grab a late-night breakfast at IHOP, but the one that we knew about was closed.  Since when does IHOP close?  So once again, the romantic side of me comes out and there I was, at 1:30 am, treating Goddess to Waffle House.  Reminds me of the romantic birthday dinner we had for her at Kentucky Fried Chicken.

But we won’t go into the reasons for that one.  This is a family show.

Is the thrill gone?  Not for B.B. King.  Not for Buddy Guy.

And certainly not for Goddess and I.

Ice

We really dodged the bullet with the ice last week.  We got about 1/2-inch, then it warmed up just enough that while the next three inches of rain fell, we sat at 0.3C, which was too warm for any additional ice but cold enough that the ice that had fallen didn’t melt off.  We lost a fair bit of trees in the area, but nowhere near as bad as folks just 10-20 miles to our west and north.

But there was beauty to be found wherever you looked:

Speaking of ice, we went to Nashville Saturday night to see AC/DC, who are in the midst of their “Black Ice” tour.  It was a hell of a show, easily one of the best I’ve ever attended (and I’ve been to quite a few).  I had never had a chance to catch one of their concerts and was quick to snatch up tickets while I was in Iraq.  We were lucky to, since the show sold out quickly.

While it was pretty funny to see 53-year-old Angus Young still strutting around in his trademark school boy uniform, it was pretty clear from the onset that they were still a bunch of guys who love doing what they do.  I can only imagine that recording and touring for 35 years would really get to be a grind, but that wasn’t evident in the guys.  Angus and singer Brian Johnson were all over the stage the entire time, soaked with sweat from their efforts.

And what was really impressive was the wide range of ages at the show, from the young teenagers to the grandmothers who dressed as if they were teenagers (really, did you really think that you looked hot when you looked in the mirror?).  But there was no doubt that, regardless of age, they were all fans.  And with ticket prices starting at $90 per seat (and going astronomical from there), I guess you’d better be.  If you get a chance to see them, I’d recommend it.  Click on the pic above to go to The Tennesseean’s review of the concert, including the set list.

Finally, training is going swimmingly.   Except there isn’t any swimming.  Just running.  Hell, even if I wanted to swim, I couldn’t, since the local brain trust decided to wait until late fall to start an overhaul of the only local indoor pool, instead of doing it over the summer when all of the outdoor pools were open.

Anyway, I’m ramping up the mileage, slowly and steadily.  The ice storm threw a wrench in the works early on, so I had to reshuffle to load up my weekend, including pulling a couple of two-a-days.  All went well.  I’m pushing right up on 50-miles a week, which isn’t a huge, huge amount, but is the tipping point of having to consistently do two-a-day’s in order to increase and maintain the mileage.  Otherwise, I’m looking at starting to take a significant amount of time away from family every evening.  That’s not something I’m willing to do.  It was easy to do in Iraq, but it’s not a sacrifice I’m willing to make here at home.

So I’m at just under 40 days until the 60K and a few 60-mile weeks are scheduled.  The beauty of having done my 40-miler last September is that I’m really not concerned about the distance.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got a healthy respect for it, but there certainly isn’t the pit-of-the-stomach feeling that I had a month out from that run, or a month out from my IM-distance race.  Perhaps that moment will come, but I am confident that each run is building towards a successful run.

And every run lately has been a huge boost in confidence for several reasons.  The biggest is that I am consistently negative-splitting my runs, whether they be 5 miles or 15 miles.  And not at pedestrian paces either.  I’m beginning to wonder if it’s the switch in my training plan.  Since I started using Training Peaks in mid-2003 to track my workouts and build training schedules, I’ve been on a 4-week cycle, with every fourth week as recovery.  Once I turned 40, TP switched to a 3-week cycle, with every third week as recovery.  Although I’m only a few cycles into it, I am definitely seeing the benefits of more frequent recovery weeks.  Gotta love the recovery!

Speaking of recovery, that’s what this week is all about.  And I’m already relaxed.

‘Tis the Season…

…for Bill to say “Bah Humbug”.

Yep, that’s right.

I don’t get the “holiday spirit”, at least the “spirit” that is perpetrated by the masses. I just don’t get it. For many reasons, most of which are better discussed over a beer.

As someone without faith, which takes a lot of faith in and of itself, I shake my head at the rampant commercialism of what should be a season of reflection , service and togetherness. Instead, it’s become more about someone crying on the local news that times are so hard that their six year old is going to suffer because they won’t get the laptop that they deserve. Or trampling a guy trying to make $5.50 an hour just so they could get to the half-price DVDs.

Anyway, my frustration with the season does cause a bit of disparity in the house. Goddess is very in touch with her faith, which I admire and support. And Goddess, with her long background of singing in choir, etc., really enjoys the music of the season. Me? Not so much.

But there are two songs of the season that I look forward to hearing. The first:

This one is all about textures and rhythm for me. Absolutely mesmerizing. Although I can do without the Garmin commercial every 20 minutes.

And the second has always been amazing to me. Bing really had a voice.

Those are the two. That’s really it, although I will watch Bing sing with David Bowie. Again, Bing’s got an amazing voice for these songs.

But one Christmas special has been announced that’s really got me excited:

Click the pic for details.

I. Cannot. Wait.

But until then, Goddess, Son and I will just have to enjoy the concert tomorrow night, headlined by Disturbed, with Taproot, Hollywood Undead and Egypt Central.

We are all looking forward to it.

So in case I don’t get around to it in the following weeks, I do wish each and every one of you a relaxing and safe holiday season, surrounded by those that mean the most to you.

Because isn’t that what it’s all about?