Cornfield Meet

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Eighteen Saturdays: Canton Marathon 2012, Week Two

I feel much better after this week’s four-day running schedule than I did after finishing up Week One. I think actually managing the three consecutive mid-week days went a long way toward re-establishing my training rhythm, I know I was glad to have just one treadmill session, and I think I’m starting to feel the familiar benefit of just putting in the miles.

By the numbers:

  • Tuesday,  Feb. 21 – Schedule: 3 miles. Actual: 30 minutes (approx.) on the treadmill.
  • Wednesday, Feb 22 – Schedule: 5 miles. Actual: 5 miles. Time: 45:40. Pace: 9:08/mi.
  • Thursday,  Feb. 23 – Schedule: 3 miles. Actual: 3.14 miles. Time: 26:52. Pace: 8:33/mi.
  • Saturday, Feb. 25 – Schedule: 9 miles. Actual: 9 miles. Time: 1:23:36. Pace: 9:17/mi.

Tuesday’s treadmill run was about as much fun as expected – in other words, not much – although it was nice to have the Retroist podcast about Revenge of the Nerds to keep me distracted while I ran in place and tried not to hear every little creak and groan of the machine.

Because Kelsey had her tonsils taken out that day and we had had to be at the hospital at 5:30 a.m., I didn’t run until late afternoon – late enough that my next run was less than 12 hours off.

Wednesday morning, shortly after 5 a.m. my brother Adam and I went out for the same 5-miler as a week before, though this was just a “normal” run, and we weren’t supposed to be running for pace. We ran it about 6 seconds per mile slower than last week, but I felt better about this Wednesday’s run than the last one, because my recovery was much quicker, and I felt like I still had gas in the tank at the end. We’ll see how next week goes, when we’re supposed to be aiming for pace time again.

I worked from home on Thursday so I could keep an eye on Kelsey, and I went for an outdoors afternoon 3.14 miler (henceforth known as the Pi-Mile loop, as noted by my friend Kato). I really enjoyed this one: My first third-consecutive-day run in a looooong time, and I managed a much more acceptable pace.

Saturday morning was cloudy with flurries and just below freezing when Adam and I went out. We ran into a bit of a headwind on the outbound portion of our loop, and encountered some slushy spots, but it wound up being a much better run than I anticipated: a mile longer than last week, and yet we did it with an average time of 9:17, which is more than a half-minute faster per mile than I managed on Week One’s 8 mile.

Canton Marathon is 16 weeks from tomorrow.

February 25, 2012 Posted by | Ohio, running | , , , , | Leave a comment

Lazer Tag – pewpewpew!

My brothers and friends and I jumped fairly late onto the Lazer Tag bandwagon when my mom found stacks of the original Game Kit on sale at Kay -Bee Toys for $9.99 each. At that price, once we’d given our kits a test run, we went back and bought spares, and I think that may have been when my friend Adam picked up a set for himself, too.

Over at his blog, Adam recently posted some Lazer Tag comic book ads, mentioned the backyard battles we’d have with our friends, and naturally, brought up “the time John ran into a tree, full bore, at dusk.”

It wasn’t one of my finer Lazer Tag moments: We were playing at Adam’s house (Unfamiliar Territory: -1 to Perception checks), and it was getting dark. I was charging across his backyard, hunched over and bolting for the area beside the garage. Thanks to one of those big mercury lights, this meant barreling through a bright pool of light before disappearing into the cover of shadow.

Just inside the line of that shadow lurked a medium-sized tree. Fortunately, since I was rounding a corner, I was leaning into the turn, and I didn’t smash into the thing with my face – the trunk caught me right in the chest and stomach, knocking the wind out of me and sending me to the ground, flattened.

If I recall correctly, Adam saw me go running across the yard through the light, vanish into the shadows for half a second, and then bounce back into sight like a cartoon character punched by a boxing kangaroo.

Like I said – not one of my finer moments, but it reached “someday we’ll laugh about this” status about three nanoseconds after I was able to breathe again.

I’ll counter with one of my favorite memories from one of the two-on-three or two-on-four conflicts that my friend Aaron and I used to engage our younger brothers in.

Partly because we were James Bond fans at that age, Aaron and I loved to take our strategy and daring seriously, coming up with ways to distract and divert and bait the other team, since we were almost always outnumbered. We’d take turns climbing the shed, for example, or take up positions on opposite sides of the yard, each squeezed between the close-knit branches of the rows of pine trees there. (Pine needles are of no concern, you see, to a Lazer Tagger.)

So, one night, Aaron is over, and we’re playing Lazer Tag against my little brothers in the darkness of the yard and the shadow mazes of the house and trees. It’s probably June.

I have climbed the TV antenna next to the chimney and positioned myself atop the wood-slatted roof of our back patio, over on the southwest corner where I have partial cover thanks to the branches of a big birch tree.

Aaron is patrolling the yard, seeking to draw Nick and Adam from their hiding spots and bring them around the south side of the house, into my field of fire.

I rest on one knee and try to breathe without sound or motion.

I hear sudden calls in the night air, carrying from the front yard: Nick and Adam are chasing Aaron. Silently I count down: Three … two … one! And there’s Aaron now, his rifle in both hands, held low at his side as he rounds the house and looks up to my perch, even though he probably can’t actually see me. Nick comes charging behind, his red target light pulsing at his waist. I fire twice and hit him once.  At the sound of his sensor alarm, he turns his back to hide the target, looking for me over his shoulder.

Adam emerges from around the corner slowly, seeing Nick shaking his head in warning. I get one shot off at Adam before he, too shields his target.

My hiding spot is soon discovered: My brothers are getting better at this, and they’re not surprised as easily anymore.

Stay up here another second, I think, and there’s no way down that doesn’t involve Nick and Adam flanking me and peppering me with Lazer fire.

And then I’m all unfettered reaction, coiled and released, springing to my feet and racing across the porch roof to the north side of the house. My veins are afire, shot through with adrenaline, my brain iced and thinking only of escape.

I don’t stop at the edge of the roof.

My mind photographs, in that heartbeat, the hulking shadow of the neighbors’ house and the India-ink sketchings of tree branches against the sky. There is a tightening of my chest in the gasp of a moment when, without slowing, I set one foot high onto nothingness, and in the core of my mind a realization that there is no pulling myself back from the brink. The other foot follows with a leap toward Ursa Major, and I am in flight on the summer air.

The yard is dark and empty below, and I let my legs fold to cushion my landing, rolling in the dew-gathering grass, darting east toward the driveway with my pursuers in the darkness behind…

In the years since, I’ve gone back and estimated the height of the roof at maybe 11 or 12 feet, which isn’t high, really, but still – climbing up there again and standing at the edge, I know that if I had paused even for a blink that summer night, I wouldn’t have jumped. And I wouldn’t do it again today.

But for that one instant, the impossible was forgotten, the dangerous was unknown, and there was me and there was a leap.

February 25, 2012 Posted by | 1980s, Games, geek, Ohio | , , | Leave a comment

Eighteen Saturdays: Canton Marathon 2012, Week One

So, my first week (of 18 total) in preparation for the 2012 Canton Marathon, by the numbers:

  • Tuesday,  Feb. 14 – Schedule: 3 miles. Actual: 30 minutes (approx.) on the treadmill.
  • Wednesday, Feb 15 – Schedule: 5 miles. Actual: 5 miles. Time: 45:09. Avg: 9:02/mi.
  • Thursday,  Feb. 16 – Schedule: 3 miles. Actual: NONE. Overslept.
  • Friday, Feb. 17 – Schedule: Rest. Actual: 30 minutes (approx.) on the treadmill.
  • Saturday, Feb. 18 – Schedule: 8 miles. Actual: NONE. Run postponed a day.
  • Sunday, Feb. 19 – Schedule: Cross train. Actual: 8 miles. Time: 1:19:07. Avg.: 9:53/mi.

I’m following the Hal Higdon Novice II training schedule, though it should be noted that it’s likely (as was the case with my first marathon) that the “cross training” Sundays will become rest days, unless – once the weather gets nicer – you count things like push-mowing the lawn.

Notes from Week One:

I still don’t like running the treadmill, and I don’t trust its mileage tracking, so I figured that running for 30 minutes should more than cover a 3-mile run. When the weather’s nice and it gets lighter, I plan to take these short Tuesday and Thursday runs outside so I can better work on my pace.

My friend Keith gave me an older model Garmin Forerunner, and I love it. In 2009, I did all my training carrying a stopwatch. While the pluses are many – I like being able to monitor my distance and pace, upload and crunch all the data, and wear the timer on my wrist – I confess that it can be too easy to glance at it too often, especially toward the end of a tiring run. It can also contribute to a habit I hope not to get into, which I’ll touch on in a minute.

My mid-range and long runs this week were much harder than I’d anticipated, and I was discouraged by my times. Wednesday morning, I ran with my brother Adam, and this was supposed to be a run at my race pace goal of around 8:23, so coming in at over nine minutes per mile was a gut check. I mean, I ran my first marathon at an average of 9:01.

Today’s eight-miler didn’t help. I was supposed to run yesterday with Adam, but Kelsey had an all-day gymnastics meet, so I put it off until late this morning. It was right around 32 degrees and pretty nice – overcast at first, then sunny with a high haze of clouds. The thing was, what I took to be a pretty calm morning, wind-wise, turned out to have been simply having the wind mostly at my back for the first four miles, which meant spending the second half of the run heading into a steady and pretty cold breeze.

And while I have made at least one freezing-weather run a year since March 1, 2009, I think today’s was probably the longest I’ve ever done, and it took a toll.

Which leads me to a confession: The route I had planned was a complete 8.3-mile circuit. Armed with the Forerunner, though, I stopped the timer right after passing the 8.0 mile mark, and walked the rest of the way home. During the summer 2009 Seventeen Saturdays training, I can only think of one other time when I “moved the finish line” in similar fashion, meeting the planned distance goal, but still feeling like I fell short. Both times, it’s probably worth noting, I was running solo, which made the mental battle a little tougher.

My nearly 10-minute-per-mile pace today didn’t help things. (I am at least somewhat encouraged that what slowed me up today was my legs: Lungs were fine.)

I think most of my frustration lies in my own impatience, and I need to remember that I haven’t been running regularly at all, and I can’t expect to just pick up and start again at the paces I was running in the summer of ’09, when I was out in the nice weather four days a week. There are adjustments to be made and miles to go, and I know that the seconds will come off incrementally.

It does feel good, though, to have that schedule taped up beside my desk again, and to see that one week of miles are already behind me.

February 19, 2012 Posted by | Ohio, running, Sports | , , , | 2 Comments

Eureka Co-Creator Andrew Cosby: GeekDad Interview

In early 2011, not long after I got hooked on Eureka, I wrote a post about the show for GeekDad, which elicited a brief note from Andrew Cosby, one of the show’s co-creators. We exchanged a few emails over the course of the year, and this week, I published a full-on GeekDad interview with him. I really enjoyed working with him on this – please go enjoy it!

“Hack of All Trades” – An Interview with Eureka Co-Creator Andrew Cosby

February 14, 2012 Posted by | Film, geek, science fiction, Television | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Canton Marathon 2012: The Journey Begins


As of 6:30 this morning, that Feb. 14 square is marked with an X, since my first official training run for the 2012 Canton Marathon is in the books.

It was not enjoyable. The schedule only calls for three miles, but I wound up doing them on the treadmill. And since I don’t trust the treadmill’s distance gauge, I figured I’d be safe going for 31 minutes. It didn’t help that I haven’t run in awhile.

Tomorrow calls for a five mile pace run. My brother Adam and I are shooting to beat his first marathon time of 3:40, so we’ll be going for an 8:23 pace.

February 14, 2012 Posted by | Ohio, running | , , , | 3 Comments

Jim Carchidi’s Florida Visions

So, the Orlando Museum of Art is putting together an exhibition of Florida photography called “Picturing My Florida: A Grassroots Portrait of the Sunshine State” and they’ve posted the entries under consideration on Facebook.

Three of my friend Jim Carchidi‘s photos are in the running, and all of them remind me of some of the things I have missed from time to time since leaving central Florida in 1999.

Not only that, but I think Jim’s entries all include aspects which are particularly Central Florida-centric and tap into the region’s history and identity – they’re not just fantastic eye-catching shots of things which happen to be in Florida. To sum up: I think Jim’s art deserves inclusion in the exhibit, and the more Facebook “likes” his photos get, the better the chance that will happen. So:

Clicking on any of the photos below will take you to that picture’s entry within the OMA’s Facebook “Made in Florida” gallery, where you can provide the all-powerful “Like.”

You can also peruse the entire gallery of Made in Florida Entries.

I also love that Jim’s entries also push some geek buttons: NASA space shuttle launches, Space Mountain at Walt Disney World, and giant monsters echoing a faded age (of sorts).

Final Discovery, 2011 - by Jim Carchidi

Spire, 2011 - by Jim Carchidi

The Dangers of Tourism, 2011 by Jim Carchidi

February 4, 2012 Posted by | geek, photos, Travel | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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