That’s It, I’m Taking Up Chess – Part Deux

For part one, read here.

And I’ll reiterate –

OMFG that hurt. No, seriously, that F’ing hurt!

No, seriously.

Instead of the link, here’s the actual course profile:

That’s a profile for a saw, not a stinkin’ marathon.  At least not one that anyone with a lick of sense would run.  But there were 200 that signed up, which is the race cap. And many of us were repeats, so we really had no excuse.  As Trent, the race director exclaimed at the start – “Hello Idiots!”

The horn went off at 8am sharp.  And started immediately uphill, although this grassy field was a gentle rise.  After that, it kept going up.  In the first few miles, a small sign notified us that we had climbed 300 feet already and that we had 3200 feet to go.  Trent’s always looking for ways to encourage the runners.

I won’t bore you with mile-by-mile details, since it was a matter of going uphill, going downhill, going uphill, going uphill some more, then going downhill.  Followed by an uphill.  There really aren’t any consistently level sections of the course.  It’s always up or down, just some sections more up or down than others.

I really didn’t have any goals for this race.  All year it had been scheduled as an “A” race, but my glute issues of the past month, coupled with some long, long days preparing for my replacement as well as training him, then travel from Iraq, all while suffering from the “Iraqi crud” meant that Friday’s 5-miler was the only run I had in the past five weeks.  No excuses, just reality.

And the glute issues were my own fault.  While preparing for the hills of this race, I pushed myself too hard on the treadmill.  I’d warm up and then start out at a 8:00/mile pace.  After a few minutes of that, I’d start ratcheting up the elevation, getting up towards 8 degrees while maintaining the same pace.  After a long summer of long flat runs, the glutes just weren’t ready for that effort.  So they spasmed on me and remained knotted, no matter what I did to try and release them.  And the tension from those knots pulled hard on my calves, which made it very, very difficult to run without significantly changing my running form, which would do nothing but lead to more significant injuries.

Anyway, back to the race.

Up, down, up, down, up, down.  The miles ticked by, some faster than others.  And another word of encouragement by Trent appeared at mile 18 – “The winner is already finished”.  The sad part was that it was true.  And when I passed it, they had been finished for at least 20 minutes.

One thing I did not do this marathon was stick to a Galloway run/walk plan.  I wanted to see if my fitness from a year of run-focus had improved.  I didn’t walk, other that the water stations, until about mile 17, and that was by design.  One advantage I had by running this race last year was knowing which hills were worth attacking and which ones were better walked.  I found quite a few times last year that I could walk certain hills faster than I was “running” up them.  By mile 23, pretty much all of the uphills became walkers.  But one huge difference between last year and this year was that the downhills after mile 20 did not become absolute agony from all of the pounding.

The quads started cramping mildly around mile 21.  Nothing unbearable, but still painful.  It was a “low-grade” cramp, meaning I could work through it just fine, but it was there continually to remind me that I shouldn’t push my luck too much.  About midway through mile 23, my left hamstring immediately made itself known.  A quick cramp that had me pull up real quick and yell out “BULL$h!+”.  I was too close to the finish to be bothered with this.  A quick stretching walk and it didn’t reveal itself the rest of the race.

The last miles went by quickly.  One guy was a hundred yards or so ahead of me and I could hear persistent footfall behind me.  But I wouldn’t let anyone catch me and I caught the guy ahead of me with about 50 yards to go to the finish line.

The numbers:

2008 time – 4:25:39 (waiting for web site verification); 2007 time – 5:25:54.  That’s right, a 1:00:15 PR for the course.

2008 time – 4:25:39; 2008 Country Music Marathon time – 4:29:47.  That means that this was a 4:08 PR for the distance!  WHOO HOOO!  Not too shabby for not having run in five weeks.

And as a point of comparison, here are the two race profiles:

Monkey –

Country Music Marathon –

Makes me curious to know was time I would have pulled off had the course been flatter.  But no matter what PR I set in the future, I’ll likely be most proud of this one, given the course profile.

I started thinking PR at the halfway point.  I hit 13.1 at 2:08, compared to last year’s 2:15.  I didn’t think about it too much at that point since I still had a long way to go.  But I kept ticking away the miles and doing the math.  A PR was mine to lose.  The difficult thing was evaluating how close I’d be, since I somehow managed to turn off my Garmin for about 1/4 mile during mile 17.  During the race I was thinking it was turned off for closer to 1/2 mile, so I estimated a five-minute difference between my watch time and the course time.  So watching the clock, evaluating my condition and dancing on the fine edge of having my legs completely cramp up, I ran.

The proof was in the pudding.

It’s a good thing I don’t have to go to work tomorrow.  I don’t think I’m going to be able to get out of bed.

And other than a possible 5K with Goddess, that’s the end of the 2008 racing season.

2008 Country Music Marathon – A Training Run

Remember, this is a training run” – That’s what Goddess told me as we were driving to Nashville early, early Saturday morning. She’s a good egg, keeping in mind that I typically have great training runs and just don’t live up to my expectations on race day. So a training run it was.

Expo

We waited until the day before to go to the expo, even though they recommend that the locals avoid the rush and go on Thursday. But since my parents and sister were driving up Thursday and my sister had to pick her packet up, we waited until Friday. That was our first clue about how big this race was. We’ve never seen so many folks wandering around downtown Nashville.

The expo was an expo. Lots of ways to spend lots of money, if one’s so inclined. We did pick up a few magnets – “Will Run for Beer“, “Will Run for Wine“, “Running – Cheaper than Therapy” and “26.2 – Been There, Run That“. Gotta have some fun, right?

In the middle, we ran into a road block. At first we couldn’t figure out why, then I spied Denise Austin. So Goddess and I got in line to meet her, since she’s a fixture in this house. Actually, it’s a love/hate relationship. We love to follow her stretching routines and Goddess hates every time Denise says “One more time” during the workouts, because Goddess knows it’s a lie.

So here we are with Denise. Too bad I couldn’t work it out so I was the filling. 😉

Race Day

With Nashville only 50 miles away, we stayed home. Next time we think we’ll get a room in town, since it required a 3am alarm to get to the start line on time. A heavy, heavy rain and thunderstorms on the drive down really made for an upbeat drive (yeah, right). Then the horrible race traffic at LP field, which was backed up quite a bit on the interstate and some folks sat in line for over an hour.

This is where the Race Director really screwed the pooch. Instead of organizing police officers to direct traffic, the intersections at the top of the off-ramps were just flashing red lights. Imagine cars delivering 30,000+ racers and their families, all trying to converge on the same place at the same time. It just didn’t work. And where the 7,000 parking spots at LP field were sufficient in year’s past, it wasn’t even close this year. So lots of folks were ticketed and/or towed, according to news reports. The RD’s got a lot of thinking to do before next year’s event.

Anyway, the rain continued. Luckily enough I had enough foresight to grab some lawn bags to throw over us, so we stayed dry while we waited for the shuttle bus to get us to the start area across town, while we stood in line for the porta-johns (which didn’t have TP by the time we got there [AAARRRRGHHHHH]) and then stood in our corrals at the start line. The rain stopped right before the start, so I was able to toss the bag aside.

I was in corral 6, which was for the folks that were looking for a sub-4:00 finish. Did I have any business being in that corral? Probably not, but that’s where I thought I’d be when I signed up for this race back in December.

The gun went off for the elites right at 7am and it took me only 10 minutes to get to the start line. The RD did a great job of staggering the corrals so that we didn’t get all jammed together in the opening miles. The opening miles were nice and steady and I initiated my run/walk strategy just like I had been doing in training – run six minutes/walk 30 seconds. Lots of well-meaning folks were cheering me on, telling me to not “give up” yet whenever I stopped to walk.

Four miles into it and I finally felt warmed up and settled in to my pace. Right around 10K, I started feeling the joys of not having TP at the start and lucked upon several porta-johns that were well-stocked, with no waiting. So my average pace suffered, but in the long run I know it was for the best.

Solid, steady pacing for the next 10 miles. I hit the halfway point at 1:58, so I was on pace for a sub-4:00. I was feeling quite strong at that point, which fit into my plan of slowly ramping up the pace and pushing a negative split. I was poised well.

At mile 15 I felt a little bit of stomach pain. Nothing significant, but I’ve had enough issues in that arena to recognize the onset. So I settled back a bit and let it work itself out, which it did by mile 17. Which just happened to coincide with the longest hill of the course, located between miles 17-18. That’s when the wheels started to wobble a bit, but I didn’t worry about it. Pushing through that, mile 19 felt good, back down at a comfortable pace.

Mile 20 is when the wheels came off. And that’s when a sub-4:00 slipped by me, both figuratively and literally – I watched with slight dismay as the 4:00-pacer slowly passed by with a group in tow. The cumulative climbing caught up to me, as it did with a lot of people by this point. From here on out, my pace swung from 11:23 to a 14:07 mile 23. I didn’t bonk – even with the gastro issues earlier, I had been fueling right from the start at regular intervals, since I carried my fuel with me instead of relying on the water/food stops.

Elevation Profile

As you can see, mile 23 was the worst point. I hit a section where both quads locked up on me, so it was some ginger walking for a little while. This cramping surprised me, since I was taking Endurolytes religiously throughout the event and had even loaded up on electrolytes for the previous several days in an effort to stave off any cramping. But as you can see, I was able to work it out and started ramping up the pace for the last few miles.

Once the sub-4:00 goal slipped away, I started thinking about my standing PR. Even through the rough points I knew I was going to set a new PR, so it was a matter of by how much. My next floating goal was to break 4:15, but that slipped by too. Then it was to break my standing PR by over an hour, which was still within reach over the until mile 24. By then I knew I’d have to crank out two 7:00-miles to achieve it and that just wasn’t going to happen. But as you can see, I was able to ramp it up for those last two miles.

I was worried about cramping again, especially as I approached the finish chute. Crossing the 26-mile point, I kept looking at my Garmin and wondering if I was going to break 4:30. I wasn’t sure, since the Garmin turned off on me for less than a minute early on (between miles 3-4). That last two-tenths of a mile was uphill and then a hard left turn. I kept accelerating up the hill and made that turn, throwing all caution to the wind. My Garmin clocked me at a 6:15/mile pace for that last tenth of a mile and the legs locked right after I crossed the line. My Garmin told me 4:29:02, but I knew it was more than that. So I had to wait until I got home to find my official time, which was 4:29:47.

A new PR by over 56 minutes.

Official splits:

6084  •  Bill Anders  •  M-39  •  Marathon  •
Gun: 7:00:30 AM 5k 6Mi 10Mi Half 20Mi Finish O’All Sex Div
Chip: 7:10:42 AM 28:11 54:12 1:31:28 3:10:49 4:29:47 2294 1509 260
Race Pace: 9:05 9:02 9:09 9:33 10:18

Memorable moments

– At about mile two, a lady motioned ahead of me and said “Well, that’s something to see”. It was a “guy” wearing nothing but running shoes and a pair of hot pink daisy dukes. We saw him post-race at during our feed at Baja Fresh. Luckily he had changed, but I wanted to ask him if he had any chafing.

– Watching the blind runner and his guide, working smoothly as a team as she described the neighborhood so he could “see” where he was running. I reminded me of riding through the Hill Country of Texas with a blind rider while the captain on his tandem described the springtime scenery to him. I know he enjoyed the scenery just as much as we did.

Off-topic plug: For those of you looking to put in some serious early-season bike mileage, I cannot recommend Nick Gerlich’s “Texas Hell Week” enough. A non-supported, but highly organized event, you can meet and ride with cyclists from all over the world who are looking to build a significant base by riding 500-800 miles in eight days. You’ll be amazed that you can do it and after the initial saddle pain of the first three days, you’ll be sprinting up hills and flying along the flats on day seven. But if Texas doesn’t fit your schedule, he’s started up several other Hell Week’s that might work for you. It’s been nine years since I’ve taken part, but I have no doubt that it’s still a quality event.

– At about mile four, the leaders went by on the other side of the street. Impressive to see the leaders, who were now about three miles ahead, even though they started only ten minutes before me.

– At about mile 14, we turned and headed up a hill, which was located right in front of a church. Lined up along the hill were several dozen nuns, replete in their habits, cheering on the runners. Lots of hoots, hollers, and high-fives, as well as a water stop advertising cups of holy water. I should’ve grabbed one, since it was just a while later when the stomach started feeling wonky.

– Right at mile 18, we started heading downhill, which gave a great view of the oncoming masses running the half-marathon. We had split at mile 11 and now we were about to meet up again. With about 21,000 in the half-marathon compared to 5,000 in the marathon, there was a huge difference in runner density. Plus, right about this point I saw the helicopter hovering near LP Field, knowing that the elites were finishing up their races. I cursed.

– While Brian had to sing to himself, we had bands scattered all along the course. Some of the music was memorable, some was not. But as Brian would attest to, there’s a point in a run where one must sing the chorus from “Just a Gigolo”. Come on, you know how it goes – “I ain’t got no body“. Brian, you would have enjoyed the band at mile 23, who decided to play the song and I managed to time it to be right in front of the stage just as they got to the chorus. What a boost.

– Immediately following the “Gigolo” chorus, we met with the Hash House Harriers water/beer stop. For the first time in my life, I bypassed the beer table. I was focused.

– Climbing a small hill in mile 25, a guy was in the shade, holding a sign for his wife/girlfriend. It said “Lisa – Run! Dick Cheney’s right behind you!” I asked if Dick had a shotgun.

– Meeting with Goddess and my sister as they finished their half-marathon. After I made it through the chute, turned in my chip and grabbed some food, I called to find them. They still had a couple of miles to go, so I started walking towards them. I found some shade and then had a lot of fun cheering on folks in both the half and full. I walked with Goddess and my sister for a while, then cut the course to meet them at the finish. A bit of loud, obnoxious cheering and then some shame – I started running next to them and yelled “Hey, if I can do this, so can you“. So they ran to the finish line.

– Afterwards, my sister saw an old guy, with cane and race number, sitting off to the side. She went up and talked to him and found out that he is 88 years old and had walked the half-marathon in his walking shoes, slacks, button-up shirt and carrying an old cassette player so he could listen to his Elvis tape while he walked. He cruised, finishing the course in a time that Goddess and my sister were jealous of.

Summary

– Overall, a good race. I rolled into this one injury-free and rested, even though the previous weeks had been pretty hectic and stressful.

– While I’m very pleased with setting a PR with such a large margin, I’m still bugged by the cramping issues that seem to plague me at every long event. But that gives me room for improvement, right?

– Mentally, I made several breakthroughs during this race. One of the most significant was knowing that I could push myself harder through the pain in the closing miles. A lot of that came from running a strong double-long weekend as well as several other long runs these past few months.

All-in-all, a good day.

13.1 mile Train Wreck

Ok, maybe not all 13.1 miles, but a good chunk of them.

This morning was the Tom King 1/2 Marathon in Nashville. As forecast, we got there just in time for the thunderstorms to roll in. At 7am, in a driving rain and occasional clap of thunder, Goddess started her very first 5K, which she smoked with a 39:24!

While she was running, I warmed up under the overhang of LP Field, which is where the Tennessee Titans play. I’m not a football fan, so I won’t insert any comments about whether they play or not. If you do, I’ll shrug, since it doesn’t mean anything to me.

Lots of warming up, lots of stretching, then a run inside the stadium to watch her finish. For both races, the finish line was on the east side 50-yard line, after entering the stadium on the northwest corner and then running the perimeter of the field. Quite a unique finish, with everyone’s sprint displayed on the Jumbotron. Here’s the view, with the final turn before the final 50 yards:

tom-king-jumbotron-2-web.jpg

So at 8am we started the 1/2 marathon. A nasty start at that -> 48F, pouring rain and a good flash of lighting right before the gun went off, with the course turning into a 5-10mph wind after the first 1/2 mile. Good stuff! Starting off at a very comfortable 8:18 pace, I was right where I wanted to be, slowly warming up and then picking up the pace for a 1:45 finish, which needed a 8:00 average pace to pull off. That’s a pace I’m comfortable with for 10 miles on training runs, so I knew I’d have to push it a bit to go the full 13.1. But it’s a race, so isn’t that the idea?

I typically take several miles to warm up, often not feeling supple and smooth until the 5-6 mile range. Well, that never happened. For the next 10 miles, my average pace dropped a very even 5 seconds per mile, then I flattened out at a 9:02 average pace for the last 2.1 miles. I just never warmed up.

Before the start, I made the decision not to wear a jacket, since I heat up so quickly. So I was wearing an UnderArmour compression shirt under a long-sleeve technical running shirt. That wasn’t a bad decision, since I was pushing the arms up after mile 9 and was quite warm above the waist. Below the waist was where the train wreck occurred.

Down there I was wearing UnderArmour compression shorts under a pair of Nike running shorts. The quads were half-covered, but apparently not enough. I chose not to wear tights since I do heat up so quick; plus I didn’t want to deal with them soaking up water and making my legs heavier than my soaked shoes and socks (layered Injinji and Thorlo) would be.

For the first 8 miles, I wasn’t uncomfortable, but the legs were giving what they could (cue Scotty – “I’m giving it all I can, Captain”). At 8.1 miles, the fun began. The knee pain that cut short my run last Sunday reappeared. Luckily it wasn’t the stabbing pain that it was on Sunday, just an ache. Something to keep an eye on, so I pressed forward. Another mile or so down the path and I could feel both of my hamstrings start to tighten. Again, nothing significant, just something to keep an eye on. During these miles, my average pace was only dropping about 2 seconds/mile, so it wasn’t any significant discomfort.

As soon as the ache went away in my right knee, my left ITB started tightening up, which pulled on my left glute and made for a fun couple of strides. As fast as it appeared, it disappeared. And that’s when the right ITB pulled the same stunt. I tell you, I had a stinkin’ Rolodex of pains going on. The legs just spun the wheel and pulled whatever card showed. Fargin’ Bastages!

Like I said earlier, the goal was 1:45. Well, that slipped away. So I then hoped for a PR of faster than 1:49:38, which I set last October. That slipped away, so then I hoped to beat my January time of 1:55:46. Well, that slipped away, too. So then it was all out to come in under 2 hours. The trick was that I wasn’t sure what my time was. My Garmin turned off for about three-tenths of a mile between 9.5 and 10 miles, probably when I was pushing my sleeves up.

I snuck it in at 1:59:44. 60 of 91 in my A/G; 480 of 939 O/A. Here’s Goddess’ capture of me just yards out of the finish chute:

tom-king-half-marathon-finishing.jpg

Afterwards I told Goddess that I was going to change my tagline of “Races are a celebration of me being fit” to “Races are proof I’m too stupid to give up“. Quite a bit of frustration there, especially since I’ve been very diligent about stretching, especially my glutes, on a daily basis. But as the day wore on, my normal over-analysis of every run made me realize that I just never warmed up during the race, even though I did a warm up and headed out at a good clip.

The Good

– My Injinji. After first wearing them at my marathon last month and coming out completely unscathed, meaning absolutely no blisters at all, I bought another pair. Since my foot moved around so much during the marathon, I used the Injinji as a liner inside my Thorlos. Even with completely soaked feet, not so much as a hint of a blister today. Those socks ROCK!

– The fine gentlemen at the turn around point @ 6.21 miles. Runner’s choice of Michelob Ultra or Amber Bock. The bock for me, thank you. And since it was just an ounce or so, it didn’t impact my run. But it sure tasted good, even though it wasn’t even 9am yet.

The Bad

Did you not just read my post above?

The Ugly

– Not a single thing. Even the weather really wasn’t that bad. I don’t mind running in a driving rain. I just wish I had warmed up.

I’ll keep stretching and rolling and hopefully I’ll loosen up for the Country Music Marathon next month.  But I’m not betting on it.

Looking forward to tomorrow.  I’ll spend a few hours casting Wooly Buggers in front of a few browns and rainbows.  I may even catch one.

Nothing’severgonnastandinmyway(again)

I’d tell you the name of this next song, but if you don’t figure it out by the end of the song, you’re too stupid to talk to“.

That’s how Jeff Tweedy introduced the song that just happens to be the title of this blog. But that’s for later in this blog. First things first.

But before that, here’s another music entry. If it doesn’t interest you, then there’s nothing to see here. I’ll be back to regular training/racing entries soon enough, since this was the last concert for a little while.

Sunday night saw us driving to Nashville for our third concert in six days. In case you missed the others, it was Linkin Park on Tuesday and Kid Rock on Friday. Sunday’s concert was decidedly mellower since it was Wilco playing at the gorgeous Ryman Auditorium.

Sunday was another warm day, so after doing homework and turning in my exams, I was able to get a quick 12-mile MTB ride through the nearby park, checking out some trails and looking at the seams in the creek, anticipating them stocking it with trout in a couple of weeks. Time to get some new tippets and flies ready. Whoo hoo! A quick shower and a bite on the go and we were on our way to Nashville. We’ve been down there so much lately that Goddess and I discussed living there, if only gas wasn’t getting so expensive.

Anyway, after getting our tickets and poking around the Ryman, we made our way to the t-shirt tables. Looking to see what they had, I almost let out a yelp. I knew that Wilco was having a warm-up act, but I had no idea who. But up there on the wall were John Doe t-shirts. For those of you not aware of John Doe, follow the link and read how he was the guitarist and vocalist for THE seminal LA punk band X. For me, that makes connections to two great acts from my youth in one week. John played a mix of his solo stuff as well as a few songs from X, appropriately slowed down for the crowd. He was amazed that he was playing in the Ryman, an old church, mentioning that he would have to call Exene and gloat that he got to play “White Girl” at the Ryman.

After a short break, Wilco took the stage, fresh from their SNL appearance the night before. As soon as they took the stage, everyone stood up, which is understandable. But everyone remained standing the entire time. The Ryman’s way too small for that and Goddess and the Son had a difficult time seeing the show. Especially since the dude in the front of us was at least 8 feet tall (give or take a foot). It didn’t help that the folks way up front were standing, which didn’t make sense, since they couldn’t leave their seats and they had to crane their necks to see up on the stage anyway. I suspect it would’ve been more comfortable sitting. Anyway, since they stood, everyone behind had too as well, making it not nearly as enjoyable as it should have been.

Kluso, here’s the setlist:

1. Via Chicago
2. Blood Of The Lamb
3. Pieholden Suite
4. California Stars
5. Company In My Back
6. You Are My Face
7. Side With The Seeds
8. Pot Kettle Black
9. A Shot In The Arm
10. She’s A Jar
11. Handshake Drugs
12. Impossible Germany
13. It’s Just That Simple
14. Pick Up The Change
15. Too Far Apart
16. Nothing’severgonnastandinmyway(again)
17. Jesus, Etc.
18. Hate It Here
19. Walken
20. I’m The Man Who Loves You

Encore 1:
21. Someone Else’s Song (Jeff Solo w/o PA)
22. Misunderstood
23. The Thanks I Get
24. Red-Eyed And Blue
25. I Got You (At The End Of The Century)
26. Monday

Encore 2:
27. The Late Greats

While you’re at it, take a browse over at Kluso’s site. He’s an excellent musician, living in Okinawa and playing the local club circuit. You can buy some of his music on his site. And if you poke around the photo page, you might find one or two shots from yours truly. Kluso is the one who introduced Goddess and I to Wilco as he covered several of his songs while playing bars and other venues in and around Tokyo. We were his groupies for quite a while, tagging along and following him to some very interesting bars. Thank you so much, Kluso!

Also, if you look through his site, you’ll notice other artists. Kluso was very instrumental in introducing local Tokyo bands to the western expatriate community. Hands down, one of the best was Megababe, a trio of hot Japanese babes that would rock your (bleep) off while playing the hardest metal and punk they could find. Truly a hot show! BTW, one of my photos of them is in there as well. 😀

Anyway, time for Bill to swing way back from his tangent. But in case you haven’t noticed, I’m a bright shiny object kind of guy. But I refuse Ritalin since I enjoy every second of the ADD.

The Wilco set was excellent. As you can surmise from the setlist, they played quite a while. Over two hours and it was quite a good show (other than the standing). If they swing by your area, I definitely recommend giving them a couple hours of your time.

From now on, less entertainment-themed posts…

American Bada$$

Here’s another music post, so if you aren’t interested, there’s nothing to see here.

Well, thanks to Ticketmaster, we scored some good seats to see Kid Rock down in Nashville last night. I had mentioned in the last entry that I was thinking about convincing Goddess to go. But tix were around $43 and I’m not that big of a fan. Well, Wednesday night Ticketmaster announced that they were intent on filling the arena, so for 12-hours on Thursday seats would go on sale. And sale they did. We scored just off stage left, about 60 feet away and 30 feet above the stage, for $17.50 each. Now that’s a price I like.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Number of Kid Rock CD’s that I own = Zero. I haven’t bought any because, as a whole I find the lyrics to be quite vulgar and juvenile. That says a lot coming from this vulgar and juvenile guy. But I can only stomach so much, so I don’t bother buying the CDs (and no, I don’t download any music. Period). But there were two things that I knew to be true for this concert – 1). Kid Rock is an entertainer. Plain and simple. So I knew it would be a good show, much along the lines that Marilyn Manson puts on a great concert; MM’s a great entertainer too (it amazes me that folks take him seriously as a “threat” to whatever they deem him a threat too), and 2) Lyrics aside, I do like the music immensely. I learned as a teenager that most lyrics are inane and actually detract from a song, so I listen to the tune, preferring good hooks and grooves as well as technical mastery of the instrument. I love all kinds of music, from classical to bluegrass to hip-hop to punk; so does Kid Rock. The difference is that he can make great music tying those influences together. I cannot. So I knew that he’d play some good music. And he didn’t disappoint on both parts. The third reason that I was hoping for in this concert was that perhaps there would be an unannounced visitor, namely Hank Williams, Jr., since he owns a house here in Nashville. Unfortunately, Hank didn’t show.

Anyway, the crowd was much different than the Linkin Park crowd of just three nights before. But the women weren’t dressed much differently (short, short skirts and plunging necklines). Goddess and I found our seats and were quite pleased, especially since we were much, much closer than the seats way back up top that folks paid $43 for!. There was one hanging amp that blocked the view of front center stage just a bit, but no big deal, since Kid rarely stood there. And when he did, we just couldn’t see his head. And since he’s not much to look at, we took that as just a minor inconvenience.

The show started off with a salute to the military. Very nice. The Nashville US Marine Corp Recruiting Squadron appeared as the honor guard and stood at attention on stage as the National Anthem was played. Very nice to see at a concert.

After a bit of pre-show pump by someone who’s name I didn’t catch (there was no warm-up act), Kid and everyone took the stage about 30 minutes late, dressed in a white leisure suit, complete with matching cowboy hat. Straight into Rock and Roll Jesus, his controversial new song. The first several songs were his more “relaxed” style, mixing rock, bluegrass, country and blues. The big surprise of the night came when Kid announced a special guest, who turned out to be the one and only Peter Wolf of The J. Geils Band fame. Peter rolled right into “Love Stinks“, which had the crowd rolling. Kid joined him on “Centerfold” (link goes to video, complete with Martha Quinn goodness), then Peter left the stage.

Here’s a small clip from his song “Cowboy“, which gives you an idea of the view we had (although it looks much further away than it really was):

A few more Kid Rock songs and then he announced his first guest of the night, Dickey Betts, guitarist for the Allman Brother’s Band. They played a few Allman Brothers classics, including “Ramblin’ Man” and threw in a few riffs from “Sweet Home Alabama” just to get the crowd really riled up.

And what has to be a first for any of the gazillion rock concerts I’ve been to, Kid Rock announced a 15-minute intermission. They had already played 12 or 13 songs and it was time for a break. The house lights came on and I looked at my watch. It was a full 90 minutes after the show started! Hell, we already got our $17.50 worth!

The second part of the show started and Kid came out in Adidas, jeans and a tank top. Now was time for the harder stuff. A few songs into the set, he announced his second guest, who I was really, really, really jonesin’ to see. It was Rev. Run of Run DMC fame. I was grinning from ear to ear the entire time they performed together. It really took me back. Way back.

Back to when the album “Run DMC” was released in 1984. We were jamming to “Rock Box” and “It’s Like That” long before MTV “discovered” them. Good memories of high school cross country camp up at Big Bear Lake, CA, with the giant boom box thumpin’ out their rhymes. Also good memories of being 16 and running at altitude (6700′-7000′), including the loop around the entire lake, 17 miles of lung- and quad-busting goodness (click on the link and select “display elevation”. Whoever loaded this loop runs it the opposite direction that we did, so check out that descent between miles 7-8, which would have been a climb between 13-14 for us). Anyway, by the time MTV “discovered” them, thanks to “Walk this Way”, I’d been a fan for a while. The rhymes and rhythms have always resonated with me and the CD’s still go with us on road trips to this day.

Here’s a 5:30-minute clip of Run and Kid jamming through a Run DMC medley:

It was tough to hold the camera steady and jam to the music at the same time.

Many more songs and he ended with “Bawitdaba“, a full three hours after he started. I didn’t keep track of songs, but I saw a song list from another show that listed 31 songs. Again, well worth the $17.50 per seat for Goddess and I to enjoy a very entertaining show.

A few interesting vignettes:

  • Billed as a “Rock and Roll Revival”, the main stage had an extension shaped like a cross.
  • During one break between songs, Kid thanked everyone who spent money to see them play, considering how tight money is these days.
  • At another point, he stopped the show and, just like a good preacher would, asked everyone to turn around and meet the folks around them; that was pretty cool.
  • Probably the most interesting moment was right after he blasted through “You Never Met a Motherfxcker Like Me“, he led the crowd in singing “This Little Light of Mine“, an old Sunday school song.
  • The funniest thing we saw, which you can see in the “Cowboy” video, is the woman holding up the sign “I want to sit on your face and spin twice”. Real classy!

Well worth the money. If you’re a huge fan, I’d recommend paying more. A neighbor rode down with us and she bought a significantly more expensive ticket, but she ended up right next to the stage and loved every minute of it.

Tomorrow night – WILCO. Then the week of concerts is over. Darnit.

Rinkin Park, Rinkin Park

The title will make sense in a moment.

Last night was the delivery on a Christmas present to all of us. Goddess, son and I sped to Nashville after work to go to the Sommet Center. If you haven’t figured out by now, live music is my thing. I’ve been spending a lot more money on concerts since my mid-teens than I’d like to think about. But I wouldn’t trade any of those experiences. Not a single one.

Headlining was Linkin Park. All three in this house are huge fans and we were quite excited to see this show; matter of fact, hand me a beer (or three) and a microphone and I’ll karaoke with LP. Heck, at that point I’ll karaoke with just about anything.

Opening up was Chiodos (pretty good), followed by Coheed and Cambria (meh). We scored floor tickets (General Admission) since I’m a huge fan of being down in the mass of bodies. For rock shows, that’s all part of the experience.

As soon as we got down to the floor, son hooked up with his friends and was gone; we didn’t see him again until everything was over. Goddess and I hung out to listen to Chiodos, milled about during intermission, then left after a few Coheed and Cambria (C&C) songs to get a beverage (Widmer Hefeweizen for me, Michelob Ultra for her). We stood out in the atrium and watched the folks milling about. Plenty of others weren’t too impressed with C&C. Don’t get me wrong, they were not bad. Matter of fact, I though the individual members (especially the guitarist) were quite good, but as a whole they just didn’t do it for me. The songs that I heard were very formulaic and it was difficult for me to tell the difference between songs. In other words, nothing grabbed me. Although I did get a laugh out of watching the hirsute lead singer, who tilted his head forward, sending his hair over his face, making me think of Cousin Itt.

Goddess and I partook in one of our favorite activities – watching people. There were all kinds. From 12-year old girls in mini-skirts and F-me pumps trying to look 19 to 55 year old women in mini-skirts and F-me pumps trying to look 19. Goddess and I were quite catty from time to time, but it was all in good fun. Quote of the night? “He’s going down on that hot dog like he hasn’t had a date in a week“.

C&C finished, so we headed back to the floor. Since the crowd had thinned out for beverage and potty breaks, we were able to get up to about 20′ from the stage. Perfect. Initially I was surprised that Goddess wanted to get that close, but she said “Hey, it’s Linkin Park”. I was surprised since she’s never been a big fan of being close to the stage, ever since I made the mistake of taking her to her first big concert in Tokyo and poising us to be up next to the stage for The Prodigy. She lasted about 3 minutes in that crush of humanity. I lasted about 10 minutes, but dislocating my shoulder put an end to that pit. Good times!

Anyway, we stood and stood and stood. I figured it would be about 30 minutes between bands. The crew was done with the stage in 30 minutes, but we stood there for another 25 minutes before LP took the stage.

Back to the title. While standing there waiting for LP to take the stage, the crowd did the usual chanting for the band – “Linkin Park, Linkin Park”. It made Goddess and I laugh, thinking about good friends who saw LP play in Tokyo. It’s stereotypical and certainly not meant to be mean, but they couldn’t help but laugh as the Japanese crowd did the same thing, except it was “Rinkin Park, Rinkin Park”.

LP played for an hour, flowing from song to song, some fast, some slow. Excellent show from start to finish. They alternated new and old songs, so there was plenty for everyone. I laughed at one point, watching Mr Han, who’s the DJ for LP, playing “Rock, Paper, Scissors” with the cameraman during a point in a song where Mr Han didn’t have anything to play.

Goddess even swooned as Chester, one of her many, many, many “boyfriends”, peeled his shirt off. Since he started off the show in a jean jacket and t-shirt and was jumping all around the stage, I have no doubt that he was hot.

At the end of the hour, they bowed. Time for the first encore, which they came back and played a few slower songs, then ramped it up for couple more, then said goodnight again. Everyone headed for the exits. Goddess and I giggled, since the house lights weren’t coming on. The show’s not over until the house lights come on. So we moved forward and got up to about 5′ from the stage. The crowd thinned out even more. As expected, LP came out for a second encore and we were right up front.

Now, it wasn’t quite the second encore that we were hoping for. Last weekend in New York, Jay-Z came out for the second encore. We were hoping, since we’re big Jay-Z fans too. Especially when he and LP teamed up for their Collision Course. Great stuff! So the encore was “just” LP.

Up to this point, the crowd had been pretty energetic but behaved themselves pretty well. As LP launched into “One Step Closer“, the pit blew up since there was more room and folks could move around. I’m fine with that and actually welcome it, but one kid came flying across right at Goddess, swinging his fists about head-high. I snapped into protection mode. The kid didn’t partake in the pit the rest of the song, but I certainly did. 😉

Son and his friends were among those that made the choice to head for the exits after the first encore. So he got an eagle-eye view of the last song, including the pit. He couldn’t believe that we were up in the midst of it. He kept asking “really?”.

Afterwards we took our time filtering out so the crowd could disperse. The normal 45-minute drive took 2.5 hours! As we drove down to Nashville it was snowing. Not too hard, just flurries. But while we were in the concert, the temperature dropped and the ice set up on the roads and interstates. What a freakin’ mess. We sat in one line for our interstate exit for 30 minutes, then took a detour and worked our way through back roads. We got around the accidents, but it was a harrowing drive for the last 40 miles. We drive a Subaru Outback and love its all-wheel-drive. But there were stretches where I was holding the wheel straight and the crosswind was pushing us sideways across the lanes. We finally made it; not everyone did (that video was at least 7 hours after we passed). Son got to bed just four hours before he had to be at school; it was a rough day for him today. But hey, I did the same thing at his age, getting home from The Who‘s (first of many) farewell tours just in time to shower and head to the bus stop.

Me? I took the day off. And took advantage of the weather to get out and take some pictures.

Next concert? This weekend – WILCO at the Ryman Theater on Sunday. Even sooner if I can convince Goddess to go to Kid Rock on Friday night (it being Nashville, with any luck Hank Williams, Jr. will make an appearance). If not, the next one with tickets already bought is Gigantour (Megadeth, Children of Bodom, Job for Cowboy and High on Fire); Goddess will sit that one out, hanging out in the hotel room with Skinny while I take son and a couple of his friends.

Whatever your choice in music – live it, feel it, enjoy it.

The Pot and the Kettle

Well, I got called out for calling the kettle black. Luckily mother nature delivered today and helped provide a bit of motivation.

This photo has been in my head for quite a few months. I’ve always seen it just as it’s presented to you (yes, I always saw it in black and white) every time I cross this bridge on my long runs. I just needed a bit of snow to fall. We’ve had snow several times over the past few months, but nothing significant and certainly not enough accumulation to make this photo.

Had mother nature not cooperated, I would have dug back into the vaults a bit to answer the Kettle’s call. Not too far back, since I shot this a few weeks ago. But with work, school and myriad other things that make up this thing called life, I have yet to post any in my gallery.

These are the pews in the historic Ryman Theater in Nashville, TN. Home to the Grand Ol’ Opry for many, many years, it has since be refurbished and concerts are held their often. During the winter, they move the Opry taping over from the new house and record it here. Lots of history in these seats and on that stage. And it happens to be one of my favorite places to see a show, since it’s small and the acoustics are amazing.

The problem with the size is that seats sell out within minutes for big shows. For this upcoming Sunday’s WILCO concert, I was on the computer right when the tickets went on sale. I had our seats within three minutes and could only get the back row; the entire place was sold out in under five minutes. Shows like BB King sell out even faster.

While you’re at it, take a browse over at the Kettle’s gallery. The photos are both hers and her husbands. Amazing folks the two of them are. And if you look at this year’s gallery, you’ll see photos of her trouncing the competition in her cyclocross series.

On a final note, there’s one thing I can’t stress enough. When you’re viewing anyone’s photo gallery, you really need to be using Safari as your browser. I won’t get into the technical details, but Safari (both Windows and Mac) is the only browser that will display the colors that the photographer intended for you to see. The other browsers default to a standard colorspace, which I know typically washes out my photos and makes them quite drab. For example, the pews shot above looks significantly different in my Firefox versus Safari. Safari matches how I processed the image in Photoshop and that’s how I hope you’ll look at it.

Ass Sweltering Pain

Yep, that’s what I’m calling my race report. Three simple words, combined, encapsulate the week leading up to, and including, the National Marathon To Fight Breast Cancer, aka “Running with Donna 26.2”. Warning: This is a long, long, long post.

First off, the ass. I won’t include a link here, since most of you know what one is. Matter of fact, I’ve been called one from time to time. It’s even likely I’ve been called one in the past 24 hours. But I digress.

For those of you that follow this blog, you’ll know of my inability to run for the past month due to a very painful “calf pull” that I experienced in mid-January. A couple of weeks off from running, as well as stretching and massage, did seem to help. At least until I ran on it again. With only two weeks until the marathon, I was desperate to find something to fix my pain. So last week, while driving to the rodeo, I did some exploratory poking and squeezing on my calf (while driving, which I DO NOT recommend). The exquisite pain that shot up my thigh, into my glute and the small of my back got me to thinking and a bit of research once we got home that night. With the help of my Trigger Point Therapy Workbook and TriggerPoints.net, I was able to narrow down the culprit, which certainly didn’t cross my mind in the previous weeks.

Who would’ve thought that a debilitating calf issue would be caused by your butt? Even with my experiences and successes with trigger points over the past year, I certainly didn’t. In the picture below, my particular issue is the one on the right.

As you can see, the X’s mark the trigger points and the red areas mark the associated pain. I didn’t typically feel any pain in my hamstring area and had only felt the pain in my cheek area during my long runs leading up to my “calf pull”. The majority of the pain associated with this trigger point was in the area on the outside of my calf.

But that still wasn’t the “calf pull” area. That area was more associated trigger point #2 on the Soleus, but frequent massage and pressure on that trigger point did not solve the problem, so it had to have something else contributing. That turned out to be the Gluteus Minimus.

After referring to the book and the web site, it was time for a bit of exploration. For such a sensitive area, I’d normally turn to the Goddess for help, but one thing usually leads to another, so I had to do this one myself. Plus, since the gluteus minimus lies beneath the gluteus maximus, the probes had to be deep and forceful; not something she enjoys doing (she tells me “that’s your job”). The probes confirmed a line of large knots right where the muscle attaches to my pelvis. Let me tell you, there was no pleasant in this probing.

So all last week I massaged them by sitting on a tennis ball on the living room and slowly rolling over the muscle, working from one knot to the next. Quite a few times the pain took my breath away. Following each rolling session I’d stretch. I found the most effective stretch for me is the Prone Glute Stretch, which feels absolutely wonderful. By following this sequence on both legs last week, I was comfortable that I could start the marathon on Sunday.

In the final days before the marathon, I revamped my original goal (break 4:00) and came up with three separate goals, two of which I could fall back on if the previous goal was unattainable. They were:

  1. Break 4:00. Even with one month off, there’s always the possibility that the forced rest from the injury would deliver me to the line so fresh that I would comfortably crank out the required 9:09 miles (which I was doing with ease on my long runs leading up to my injury last month).
  2. Complete the race. With the most likely possibility that I would still be feeling the effects of my calf through the race, I would have to adjust my finish time goal on the fly and hold out for the finish.
  3. Stop the insanity, wait for Goddess and my sister to catch up, then walk the remainder of the half-marathon with them. The intent of this goal was to continue to heal and hopefully set myself up for April’s Country Music Marathon in Nashville.

The overarching goal was to not injure myself any more. But doesn’t that go without saying?

Goal number three was the only goal as recent as 7 days out from the race. I had resigned myself to not running the marathon and would enjoy the morning with Goddess and my sister. That certainly isn’t a bad thing, not by any means, but my goal signing up was to race the 26.2. But with the “discovery” of my gluteus minimus, goals 1 and 2 quickly became more attainable.

After a gaggle at the start area (see “BAD” and “UGLY” below), we were off. I was very comfortable at a 9:30 pace for the first few miles, figuring that if I was to achieve goal 1, I would warm up during the first few miles and then be able to slowly ramp up the pace. That’s my typical race strategy anyway, since I don’t typically warm up for 4-6 miles.

By mile 4, I could feel my calf. No pain, but a steady discomfort; enough discomfort to back off the pace and toss goal #1 out the window. At no point during the 26.2 miles did my calf hurt like it had during the previous month, so that was a huge success.

By mile 6 I had passed the turn-around for the half-marathon, so I was committed to the full.

At mile 10, my quadricep heads started to cramp slightly. Not a good sign, but a reality of the day.

By mile 13.1, I was a full 20 minutes slower than my half-marathon split at the Flying Monkey Marathon, which had over 2,000′ of climbing. This course was flat, with only 215′ of total climbing! It was a run-walk strategy for the last 13.1 miles.

Why so slow? Other than the leg issues, for me it was the weather. Over the past several months, I’ve been running in a Kentucky winter. Runs in the snow, runs in some pretty cold wind chills, runs in dreary overcast days with temperatures hovering in the 20’s. The morning we left to drive to Florida, it was 19 degrees. And that was after a couple of days of ice and snow. In Florida, by the time the race started on Sunday morning, it was 69F with 75% humidity and continued to get worse, settling at 75F and 65% by the time I finished. In other words, relatively oppressive heat.

Although I knew it was going to be warmer, I failed to properly build my hydration and electrolytes in the days leading up to the race. It caught up to me.

I inhaled my Clif Shot Bloks, wishing I had more than just one pack of the Margarita with Salt. I started gulping the Accelerade that they provided and even talked a First Aid tent volunteer out of his bag of Lays Potato Chips at about mile 20. I was able to keep the cramping at bay for the most part, but it would rear its head enough to keep me focused on sucking down as much electrolytes as I could.

Goddess called and told me that she and my sister had finished. I was (and still am) so proud of them; neither had done anything like that before, not even so much as run a 10K. They committed to walking the 13.1 with each other.

Between miles 20 and 21, I had the most amazing walk with a lady. I first approached her because she was wobbling like crazy and I was worried about her. The heat was definitely taking its toll on everyone. Turns out she was a 68 year old who was using the marathon as a training run for an upcoming 50-mile race. She was quite upset with her performance thus far because she knew she was fitter than that, just coming off a 70-mile training week and had run under 4:00 in the past year. She was from out west, so the humidity was definitely getting to her. I waved down medical support, who had a talk with her and let her continue. I was quite pleased last night to see that she had finished the race.

By mile 22, I did some quick calculations and realized that I needed to pick up the pace if I was to finish in under 6:00. With the heat and cramping, it was going to be a challenge. At this point, everyone was walking. Occasionally someone would shuffle for a minute or so, but it really was the walk of the dead.

I revamped my walk-run strategy and threw time out the window. No matter if I picked a 2:1 or 1:1 time strategy, I just couldn’t get the legs moving very well after walking. So I decided on a 30:30 strategy, not of time, but of foot strikes; 30 left foot strikes while running, 30 left foot strikes while walking. It kept me focused and moving relatively quickly at a 9:45 pace during the run segments. In the next two miles I figure I passed between 75-100 people. That was a huge confidence boost.

At a mile-and-a-half out from the finish, the worst climb of the day arrived as we had to climb a bridge that crosses the Intracoastal Waterway. Past the last water stop and starting to cramp again, it was back to walking. Turning the last turn, greeted by the sign “The last .2 mile will kick you in the ass” and seeing the finish line got me moving again. The cramping got me walking again. Even coming up to the timing mat that they had set up with 100 yards to go, my leg locked. Luckily that didn’t come through in the pictures. I was passed by quite a few folks at this stage, but I couldn’t have cared less.

Finish time – 5:57:14 by my Garmin, chip time 5:57:18.

The Good

  • I finished. Thanks to the lack of running over the past month, this entered back into my race goals.
  • I broke a rule of racing and was better for it. I wore my new pair of Injinji Toe Socks and they rocked! I had been wearing Thorlo‘s for the past year+ and had always had problems with blisters on the balls of my feet, no matter how much or how long I ran. The Thorlo’s are thick and have good padding while the Injinji’s are very thin with no padding. So I discovered that with the Injinji’s I’ll likely have to come down half a shoe size to make up for the difference in sock padding. With the thinner socks, my forefoot was sliding around a bit in the shoe box, but absolutely no blisters!
  • I had several mental breakthroughs during the race. Details are unimportant, but they happened.
  • The communities of Jacksonville Beach and Neptune Beach absolutely rocked! A significant portion of the race ran through neighborhoods, which effectively cut them off to all auto traffic. So the residents made the best of the situation and stood out in their driveways, sprayed the runners, provided oranges and cheered. One group of guys even provided shots of beer at the 21 mile mark (it was GOOD).
  • For a first-time event, the course was completely stocked with supplies on the course. There was never a shortage of water, Accelerade or Gu (I didn’t use it, but they had plenty). This was in sharp contrast to several of the more well-established events that I’ve participated in.
  • The support from the community and runners (I know I mentioned the community before, but this is different). Since this event was to raise funds for Breast Cancer Research, each of us could wear a sign on our back that said who we were running for. Mine said simply “Mom”, who is a survivor. I had many folks run past saying “I’m running for Mom too”. That was always a great boost. More humbling were the folks who ran by with 7, 8 or 10 names on their sign. More amazing was running and talking with survivors who were out there pushing themselves. The couple of times that I thought about folding I thought about what my Mom and all of these others had gone through; my discomfort paled in comparison.
  • The support and advice from those of you out in blogland. Thank you so much for the public and private advice and concern. That really means a lot to me.

The Bad

  • There weren’t corrals for the runners, just pacers with planned finish times, so you would look for your planned finish time and stand near that person. The gun went off and it took a couple of minutes to get to the start line (normal). But once we got moving, it was evident that several walkers had seeded themselves at the front, causing several traffic jams and collisions as the thousands of runners had to work around them. I applaud those ladies for getting out there and moving, but at the front of 8,000+ was not the place to be.
  • This also goes for the folks following the Jeff Galloway plan. Overall, I believe that this group did great things for thousands of runners at the marathon, but sticking to the plan in the first mile was a recipe for disaster as the pacer yelled “Walk” and groups of 60+ runners stopped to walk just 3 minutes out from the start line; again, they caused huge traffic jams and many collisions in a very crowded situation. Tempers were flaring already and I’m surprised no one got hurt.

The Ugly

  • The race started a full 30 minutes later than the 8am start time. They knew it was going to be warm and were announcing over the loudspeakers that folks need to adjust their pacing and not plan on a PR, yet still started it late. It looks like they’ve fixed this and have adjusted the start time for next year’s race to 7:30am. Hopefully they’ll start it on time.

Lessons learned

  • Electrolyte loading – I can’t believe I still haven’t figured this one out. I’ve known for many years that I’m a very heavy sweater and that I lose a lot of electrolytes during a race. Yet I never remember to load up on them until I’m in the race.
  • A stride-focused walk-run strategy is the key when I get to that stage. I was amazed at how easy it was to get moving once my left foot hit 30. And it was easy to hold an unflagging pace for “only” 30 strides.
  • The Base layer is crucial. What’s that? A base layer in 70 degree weather? Yep. After running the Monkey and chafing my nipples down a full 1/32″, I learned that I needed to wear a skin tight layer under my shirt. Let’s just say it was a good thing that I wore a red shirt for that race. Since then I’ve always worn a skin tight technical shirt and haven’t had any problems. I did the same for this race and it was a godsend. Once the heat got unbearable, I peeled my outer shirt and let the slight sea breeze cool me. The wicking effect really kept me cool, even though the shirt was black. I’d even dump a cup of water over me and get chilled, which was great! So if you look at my race pics, you’ll see that I’m wearing two different shirts.
  • Stretching, massage and cross-training. I need to do more of each to help with these injuries, all of which have been flexibility related over the past year. I’ve had much success with identifying the appropriate trigger point and relieving the pressure, but some have taken longer to solve and have kept me away from training longer than I’d like. So I now need to schedule more sessions each week.

Will I do this race again? Absolutely. The location was great, the community was great and it had the added bonus of allowing me to spend several days with my parents as well as my sister and her family.

From here it’s the Tom King Half Marathon next month and the Country Music Marathon in April, both in Nashville.

Toughest…

Last night was an interesting night.

First off, we headed down to Nashville to watch the “Toughest Cowboy” competition. Goddess, son and I had never been to a rodeo, so we decided to try this one; we’ll try anything once. Plus there was the added bonus of seeing Blue Oyster Cult play afterwards.

Apparently in a regular rodeo each cowboy rides once. During this one, they rode three times. First bareback on a horse, then saddled. The final ride was on a bull. It was an amazing experience, being so close to those large animals and watching them flail about, occasionally sending the rider flying. As the announcer described one bull – “That’s 1800 pounds of meat in a leather purse”.

Before we knew it, the two hour competition was done. We were actually disappointed that it was over, which was surprising since none of us ever really sat down and watched a rodeo before, even on TV.

BOC was an interesting experience. Being a huge fan of theirs as a kid, I was familiar with most of their set material. But apparently there were few of us in the audience (the country crowd filed out as soon as the rodeo was done). At one point after a few songs, a girl nearby yelled “Play something I know”. I had to laugh about that. Goddess wasn’t familiar with much, but she sat back and enjoyed the show anyway. As easily predicted, they finished with “Godzilla” and “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper“, which I suspect the girl might have known.

They even had a great sense of humor, starting off the show asking if anyone had a cowbell.

In developing news on the injury front, I made a discovery while driving along the interstate at 80mph. Not exactly the best place to manipulate a trigger point, let me tell you. But the discovery has led me in a direction that I wouldn’t have explored before.  Hopefully I’ll have some good news to report in a day or two.