Route 66 Blogger’s Forum

Route 66 announced it today… I’m on the Blogger’s Forum panel again this year — woot!

I did this last year, and met some wonderful folks.  It was cool to just kick back, and talk running and blogging for a little while.  It helped settle my nerves before embarking on my first half marathon, and I really needed it then!

This year, Friday evening (November 18th), from 5pm to 6pm, I’ll be at Cox Center in Tulsa, talking with other running bloggers, spilling all my racing secrets.  (OK, I don’t have any real secrets, but it’s still a fun time!)

I’ll also be volunteering from 2-4pm on Friday at the FanZone.  Find me, and we’ll make some great signs!!!!

If I hear about about any live broadcasting of my panel appearance, I’ll update this post.

Tulsa is getting very, very, very real!!!

What Mad Universe!

In the mid-50’s, Frederic Brown wrote a novel titled What Mad Universe.  In it, our protagonist, a science fiction editor, becomes the victim of a shift left logical event that lands him in a familiar, but not altogether sane alternate reality.  Our editor eventually saves the world, which is not an unexpected result.

In my mad universe, I’m running.

The non-alternate-reality me would say Really?  You’re running?  Well, yeah, I am… and at times, it’s overwhelming.

It’s just over two weeks away from the Route 66 Half Marathon in Tulsa — my second half marathon, and a race I said I’d never run again, and a distance I said I’d never do again.  I was “one on done” with half marathons.  In fact, if you look at the finish photo of me crossing the finish line in Tulsa last year, it’s like some photo for the loneliest runner.  I was spent, and walking slowly across the line, ready for the day to be over.

And yet, here I sit, listening to the eighteen hours of music on my running playlist, overwhelmed by the thought that in just about two weeks, I will finish this race and distance once again, with high hopes to clobber my time from last year.  (We’ll see how that goes!)

In Star Trek IV, Kirk quips, “May fortune favor the foolish.”  Who, other than a fool, would not only chase a half marathon they said they wouldn’t ever do again, but use that one as an excuse to sign up for more of ’em?

Enter this fool.

Last year, at the Route 66 event, I won an entry into the Mississippi River Half Marathon in February.  And after doing the math, I realized that the MS River event and Route 66 were less than 90 days apart.  That’s significant.

Why?  Well, there’s this running group out there called the Half Fanatics, who celebrate running half marathons all over the place.  But, it’s not just a running group for which you sign up… you have to earn your way in.  There are loads of ways to do that, and they range from the just plain crazy to the man, you should be locked away somewhere.  For me, my path of lunacy was three half marathons inside 90 days.

So, you see the problem, right?  A challenge, a calendar, and bookend races for completing this big challenge.

That put me on a quest for a half marathon that was close to Da Lou, and somewhere in between those two races.  I found that race — the Run For The Ranch in Springfield MO on New Year’s Eve.  It’s definitely close, but this isn’t going to be an optimal race for me… it’s laps.

I loathe laps, but this race only has four, so it’s not too traumatic, and frankly, feeds pretty well into my mindset around the half marathon distance.  I try to think of a half marathon as four 5K races, with a little bonus kilometer at the end.  That keeps it sane, and keeps me from thinking just how far that distance is.  This maps pretty well to that view, so I think that’ll be a good thing.  And, they have a six hour cutoff.  That’s well within my ability, even if I have to loaf.

And you’d think I’d be done, right?  Well, not so fast…

I’ve given a lot of props to the Moon Joggers virtual running outfit over the last couple of years, and have run a ton of their events.  The people are fun, and I’ve had a hoot getting to know them virtually.  Earlier this year, they talked about setting up an “in person” gathering of the group at some event somewhere.  Well they did, so…

Yesterday, I signed up for the American Fork Canyon Run Against Cancer.  Yep, I’m running down a canyon road in Utah in June 2017.

This is supposed to be a beautiful race, with loads of support, a cutoff time that oughta be right in my wheelhouse, and a chance to run some really fast miles since the course is essentially all downhill. How downhill is it, you might ask.  Well, it looks like this:

I’ll admit that I gasp just a little every time I think about this race, and what I’m setting out to do.  But I’ll tell ya, half the battle is actually clicking “submit” on the race entry web page, and that’s the harder half to me.  Now that I’m committed, it’s just a thing, and like so many “things” over the last five years, I’ll nail this one, too.

What mad universe, indeed!  🙂

#154 – Go! Halloween 5K

With the onset of fall, it’s time for autumnal races to begin, and that means the Go! Halloween 5K gets a turn on my calendar.

After Saturday’s Midwest Jeepthing event at Moonlight Racing, I was pretty dang sore, and wasn’t entirely convinced I’d get up on Sunday for this race.  The race began at 7am, so I had to get up at 4:30am to drive to the Metrolink station in Brentwood, where I’d catch a train into downtown.  That was seriously early, and when I went to bed last night, I wasn’t sure I’d have it in me.

When the alarm went off, I rolled out of bed, threw on Flat Colin, and motored toward the train… after a stop at Dunkin Donuts for some coffee and Munchkins!

Beers on Wheels
Beers on Wheels

I got to the race site, early of course, and wandered around.  Kaldi’s was there with free coffee, and three food trucks were setting up in the shadow of a double decker mobile bierhaus.  It was a glorious fall pre-dawn, and I was waking up and ready to run.

And then we waited.  And waited.

Sunrise
Sunrise

I don’t know what happened, but we kicked off twenty minutes late, and when we did finally begin, we started the race with a hard right turn.  For some reason, the race folks had to change the course unexpectedly right at race time, which meant they had to move the start line timing mats to the new start line.   The horn sounded, and 1500 of us turned on a dime  and were off to the races.

Two Medals!
Two Medals!

Surprisingly, I found a fair amount of mojo, and ran a pretty good race.  The course was flatter than last year, and was really pretty enjoyable, and without hills to fight, I made good time.  And, I got a bonus medal for completing the Triple 5K Challenge.  (The Go! in April and All-American in June were the other two legs.)  I love working on multi-race challenges like this, and I was thrilled to get the extra medal for my labors.

This was also the first race I’d run in three weeks.  I suspect the time off helped my body do some recovery I didn’t know I needed.  No matter why, it was a great race, I had a ball, and I’ve got more hardware for the wall!  🙂

Race Course

#153 – Mo’ Cowbell 5k

5kmYesterday was my fourth running in the Mo’ Cowbell in St. Charles (last year’s race was EIGHTY-SEVEN races ago!!!).  This race is a favorite of mine for a lot of reasons.

It’s flat.  It’s fun.  It’s fast.  So there.  🙂

I got up super early, got my usual breakfast (half an English muffin, toasted, with peanut butter), stopped at Dunkin Donuts for a cuppa joe, and headed toward St. Charles.  There’s always a ton of traffic on I-70 dropping into St. Chuck for this race, but I’ve learned some back ways to scoot in, so I had little traffic to deal with.  Part of that is that I also elect to park at Ameristar, and walk a mile to the race site.  It’s a great warm up before the race, and cool down afterward.

This year, the weather was amazing, right at 60° at the start of the race.  The last three years, it’s been much cooler, prompting longer sleeves and legs.  This year, it was shorts and a running shirt, which is ideal for me!

Like previous years, the event kicked off with “Don’t Fear the Reaper”, and 5000 of us clanging our cowbells in rhythm (more or less!).  It’s a sight not to be missed!

The marathoners kicked off at 7:30am, and while I knew a couple of folks in the throng — one of whom ran his first-ever marathon this weekend! — I didn’t see any one I recognized.  I cheered ’em on, and waited for our 5K to start at 8:00am.

It came quick enough, and I got on course at my running pace.  The first hill (and really, the only hill of any significance) came about half a kilometer in, and I chugged right up it, slowing to a walk to catch my breath a bit at the top.  I remember thinking how quickly we’d gotten to the hill.  And that was the theme throughout the whole race.  I don’t know if it’s my comfort with this distance or this race, but either way, the race seemed to fly by.

Not Quite Flying
Not Quite Flying

I got out on the street, headed toward the turnaround, and saw a co-worker on the way back in from the turnaround.  A quick high-five, and I was left to my race again.  After making the turnaround, we headed for the Katy Trail, paralleling the river.  I enjoy this part of the race, as it’s crushed limestone, so a little easier on the knees, but it’s also beautiful, with loads of trees around.

Soon enough, I could see the finish line, and like I’ve done lately, I’ve tried to be photogenic, and kick in some hustle for the finish line photographers.  While I didn’t have a “flying” shot this race, I came pretty close.

And I did pretty well in the race.  Last year, I was a skosh over 45min (a PR for me at the time), and this year, I was a skosh under 50min.  That’s kinda my bar for a “good race” anymore, and I was pleased to just be under it.  Yeah, there were places I coulda run more, and added a little speed, but it was wonderful to just go out, and enjoy the surroundings, the nice weather, and commune with so many other runners!

This race benefitted the Boys and Girls Clubs of St. Charles County.

Race Course

#152 – Run Long and Prosper 5k

I hate running in the summer.  It’s too hot, and I melt.  That’s been well-documented here.

Ordinarily, our weather indicator here in Da Lou flips from summer to fall during Jeepstock weekend.  However, that didn’t happen this year.  In fact, summer held on for another week, with highs well into the 90s and heat indices approaching 100°.  Not exactly running weather for your intrepid author.

Sunday night, however, the weather changed, and suddenly, our temps dropped by about twenty degrees, settling the Midwest into fall.  With the busyness of the work week, last night was the first night I’d been able to get out since fall fell.

When I headed out, it was cloudy, with occasional breaks that let the sun shine through.  Temps were in the mid-60s, and the wind was blowing.  Perfect shorts and t-shirt weather for me!

This was the first time I’d been on the path in two weeks, and while I could feel the stiffness in my joints that comes with extended spans of not running, the lack of blazing sun and scorching temps made last night’s trek (get it?) so very easy.  With fall firmly in place (I hope), I certainly expect that I’ll have more runs in the books over the next few months.

And I need to, as I have some long races coming up.  I’ve signed up for the Route 66 Half Marathon in Tulsa (November), Mississippi River Half Marathon on the Mississippi/Arkansas border (February), and Gasparilla 15k/8k in Tampa (February).  And, I’m looking for another half to do somewhere between Route 66 and the Mississippi River half.  So, why would I do that?  Well, I have a desire to join a group called the Half Fanatics, and membership is gained through running a number of half marathons across a span of time.  For me, it’s three halfs in ninety days.  We’ll see what happens there.

So, welcome back fall!  I’ve definitely missed you, and look forward to enjoying your cool, wet weather over the next few months!

This event benefitted the Space Camp General Scholarship Fund.

Race Course

#151 – We Shall Never Forget 5k

On what my mother would call a “bluebird day”, reminiscent of another one fifteen years ago, I ran today in memory of all that was lost on that terrible day.

As I ran, I thought about those that were lost, those left behind, and all the aftermath of that awful morning.  I thought about where I was when it happened, and how I’ve marked Patriot’s Day ever since.

I ran a meter for each soul lost, and I ran some extra, because sometimes that’s what you need to do.

Hug your family today.  Revel in your life.  Thank God for your blessings.  And thank Him for this great country.

Race Course

#150 – Star Trek 50th Anniversary 5k

Yesterday was the Golden Anniversary of the premiere of Star Trek, and I could think of no better way to celebrate than running.

Trek was a huge part of my childhood.  I don’t remember watching it during it’s run on NBC, but by the time the animated series began in 1973, I was already a huge Star Trek fan.  This was due, in large part, to James Blish’s short story adaptations of the original series episodes.  I’d gobble those up as soon as they hit the spinning book stand at the 7-11 I’d walk to.

The first episodes of Star Trek that I can remember watching were in Florida.  My grandparents lived on a little island west of Ft. Myers, and when se’d visit, we’d turn the antenna toward Tampa, and watch Trek in syndication from there.  I even recorded the audio with a little cassette recorder, holding the microphone up to the speaker, so I could listen to a few episodes over and over.  Because of that, there were a few episodes I could almost quote, word for word.

When I was approaching my teens, WTVC in Chattanooga started showing the original episodes, and finally I was able to watch episodes on my own turf.  The rest, as they say, is history… multiple television series, movies and books later, and I’m still a fan.

So yesterday, on the Golden Anniversary of it’s first airing, I tackled the 50th Anniversary 5k.  It was a day filled with rain, keeping the temperatures down.  I went out shortly after work, and after the rain.  Despite the heavy clouds, the humidity started to really climb as the rainfall evaporated.  With temps in the low 70s, it was still pretty easy to run, so run I did, putting another 3¼ miles in the books.

This event benefitted the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Race Course

The Nano-Octagon

Well, the spambots are at it again (as they always are!), and once again, I’ve selected what appears to be a real-human-at-the-helm spambot delivered email to respond to.

Stephanie McGlauflin, from Funding Fastlane, dropped me a note to offer some funding for my business, presumable Canapeel, since that’s where it was sent.  I’m still not entirely sure I understand how folks are coming to think this is a business, but for now, that’s creating some entertainment opportunities for me!

Steph sent a note on Tuesday (click to enlarge):

And since I didn’t respond fast enough, just about 28 hours later, I got another prompt from Steph (click to enlarge):

I guess she was truly concerned about me!  I hate to let someone that concerned about me go without a response, so I put my hands on the keyboard, and replied as only I might.

Hi Stephanie (Steph?) —

Thanks for the follow-up! I don’t know how I missed your email, but I’m sure it had something to do with the heat generated by My Industry. You see, the heat affects the wi-fi inside My Industry’s building, and, well, that leads to missing emails from folks! I also can’t play PokemonGo on My Industry’s factory floor, which is a bummer. I mean, if you can’t collect ‘em inside My Industry, you can’t collect ‘em all!

Fifty millimeters of funding in My Industry? Jeepers! I had no idea that the size of My Industry was so vast! I mean, 50mm is about two inches, right? That’s just about enough space for a nanobot-scale Battlebots arena, something My Industry has a certain amount of “guilty pleasure” interest in. I mean, who doesn’t love watching itty-bitty robots duking it out in the tiny octagon for their human overlords? You can’t find that kinda devotion just anywhere. To that I say, “Domo arigato, nano-roboto!”

Aside from the metric nano-scale funding for My Industry, I appreciate your offer of capitol for My Industry. My Industry has long held that we need an extra capitol, just in case. I mean, what if Hurricane Sandy had gone a little more east, and our primary capitol in Washington was swept away … or worse, covered in barnacles from all the sea water! Having a spare capitol would be an ideal thing, and likely keep us afloat (get it?) until Washington was dried out, fumigated (think of the dead sea creatures!!!) and made respectable to host state dinner parties again. Of course, we could just build a wall around our capitol to keep the water out, and that might keep us from needing a backup capitol, but that’s probably getting too far into politics. Think about it… What would the 49 states (I count Virginia and West Virginia as one state) think if suddenly there was a wall separating them from a lowly district? I’m sure it wouldn’t go well. Then again, given what happens in Washington, maybe it would! Am I right?

My Industry is pretty secretive about how long it’s been around, but I’m not sure how that relates to how fast it spins. You mention something about 15k revolutions a month. That’s a lot of spinning! If I take into account the spin of the Earth on its axis (about 30 spins in a month), the spin of the Earth around the Sun (about 1/12th of a revolution in a month), and the spin of the Sun around the galactic center of the Milky Way (an infinitesimal amount of spin in a month’s time), I come up with being just about 14,969 full spins short of 15k/month. Now, my desk chair can spin, so if I do the math… that’s about 500 spins in my chair daily (assuming an average month — stupid February!), or about 62 spins an hour during my industry’s normal workday. That’s assuming that My Industry is busy seven days a week — and we are! After all, someone’s gotta feed the nanobots and train them for their bouts in the octagon, and that’s a daily mission.

Further extending that math, 15,000 revolutions per month yields about 50 millimeters of growth for My Industry. So, if we suddenly had a need for a second nano-octagon, it stands to reason that I could set up a second chair, and have someone else spin around in it each day to gain another 50 millimeters of growth. It’s not hard to see that My Industry could build a whole army of nanobots, spinning in nanochairs, fueling the growth of more nano-octagons to create the world’s tiniest largest nano-dojo for the training of nanobots in all the skills they’d need to please the human overlords of My Industry. What a thrilling dream!!!

Since My Industry is really focused on nanobot fighting machines, the only real outcome from our work is spare micro-parts, snipped off loser nanobots in the micro-heat of micro-battle. To be honest, I’m not sure what My Industry would do with a sudden influx of one-to-two times the number of itty bitty damaged robo-arms and robo-legs. I mean, we have a janitor-nanobot, Rufus, who sweeps up the nano-octagon after the nanobot battles, but I just can’t see paying him the overtime to sweep up even more damaged itty-bitty-bot-body-bits. Unless, of course, you’re talking about sending intact, ready-to-fight-ready-to-die nanobots that can enter the octagon for the pleasure of us human overlords, as we really enjoy watching them whack each other to pieces. In that case, you have My Industry’s attention!

Sadly, I think My Industry’s lust for nanobot fighting is likely singular, and not really ready to come out of its teency-weency shadows at this time. If we can get this country past its nano-robo-stigma, the world will be a better place, and My Industry will conquer the world!

’Til then, I believe My Indsutry’s itty-bitty-Italian-stallions will be limited to the dark nano-back-alleys and nano-gin-joints, where they’ll conquer the world, one nano-fight at a time.

Have a super itty-bitty Thursday!

Your pal,
Colin
CFO (Chief Fighting Overlord)
My Industry

P.S. Do nanobots dream of electric nano-sheep?

P.P.S. I suppose that last post scriptum implies some religious and philosophical overtones about the sentience of nanobots. I can assure you, we have a tried and true process to exorcise the soul from any nanobot used in the nano-octagon. Having a nano-conscience gets in the way of the nano-robo-mayhem, and that just doesn’t make for good nano-entertainment. We ensconce our nanobots in a cube farm, taking tech support calls and sending out bulk emails to unsuspecting businesses in order to drive out any soul our nanobots may have acquired during their robo-studies. I mean, cube farms are described as soul-sucking, so My Industry figured that’s the best way to get rid of that pesky soul.

P.P.P.S. Except the Godfather of Soul. All our nanobots have a healthy reverence for James Brown. They even jump back and kiss themselves. It’s part of their basic programming.

P.P.P.P.S. But not David Soul. There was a dubious flirtation with David Soul back in the 70s, but the nanobots pretty much got over it after Starsky and Hutch went off the air in 1979. However, we still carry a line of Zebra Three nanobots, a leftover tribute to that adolescent dalliance.

I have no idea what the response will be, but it could be microscopically epic!

Reap What You Sow

I love silly things, and one of the sillier books I’ve read is Idiot Letters by Paul Rosa.  I think it’s out of print, but it’s well worth the read if you can find it.  Essentially, the author initiates conversations via postal mail (!) with corporate America, offering up fine, well-reasoned suggestions for their products and services.  Needless to say, most of the suggestions are a little … bizarre … and aren’t things a company would really wanna do.  As funny as his letters are, the bewilderment from those whose job it is to respond to the public is every bit as entertaining!

Recently, I had one of those moments.

I got a bit of spam from someone named Robert Powers representing a company named Ocoos.  I like playing with the spam telemarketers that call the house, and I thought this was an opportunity to have a little fun along those lines.  Here was Robert’s email:

ocoos

Obviously, this website ain’t a business!  With that in mind, and tongue in cheek, I set about to reply to the kind offer of help for my business website…

Hi Robert (Bob?) —

Did you even look at my website?  You should.  It’s pretty awesome, using the latest technology and plenty of industry-leading tools and secrets.

If you had, you’d realize pretty quickly it’s *not* a business.  I mean… Canapeel?  Really?  Who would come up with a nonsense word for a business!!!  (No offense!)

Nope, I have no customers, no referrals, and no advertising (mine or anyone else’s).  Pretty plain jane website, lived like a hermit lives, including a stream o’ consciousness about life, the universe and everything.  Sometimes, there’s even something useful there!  (I try to minimize those flashes of brilliance in order to curb expectations, however.)

And most of all, not being a business means I have no real need for spammy-spam-spam-and-spam like this.  (Did you notice the Python reference?)  Whoever sold/rented you the mailing list that included my website fed you a load of bull-squirt, and you should try to get your money back!  I mean, if it included my non-business-website-that-you-never-vetted-before-sending-out-an-email-blast, there are probably other non-business-websites-that-you-never-vetted-before-sending-out-an-email-blast included in the list that you paid for.  Your kind offer to do… something… fell on deaf ears with me, and it probably did with many others on your rented/purchased list of contacts.  I hate to see our economy impacted by peddlers of bad goods, and it looks like you just paid for a big one!!!

But, me being a good guy, and seeing you’re interested in doing the neighborly “business” to “business” thing for my benefit, I thought I should return the favor, and offer up my advice above, free of charge!  Yep, I’m not gonna send you a bill for my awesome suggestion.  I sure hope you recoup a load o’ dough from that list.  Maybe you’ll donate a little bit of that to some deserving business — like a microbrew! — this weekend.

Have a great, and prosperous Thursday!  (Or, if you’re across the international dateline in Ceylon or Burma, or some other far off land, Happy Friday!  [And yes, I know, those should be Sri Lanka and Myanmar, but I’m an old fashioned kinda guy!])

Your pal,
Colin
(not a business)

P.S.  Ocoos is a cool business name.  How do you pronounce that?  I kinda think it oughta sound like an owl… “ocoo”.  (And you’d be lying if you told me you didn’t just hear an owl’s voice in your head!)  Of course there’d have to be more than one owl in order for it to be “Ocoos”, hence the trailing “s”.  I guess that’s a flock of owls.  Or would that be a herd?

P.P.S.  BTW, while Flock of Owls isn’t a band I’m aware of, I am a big fan of Flock of Seagulls.  How much hairspray do you think Mike Score had to use to get his hair to stand up like that?

I fully thought this would land in some spambot’s lap, and I wouldn’t hear anything back.  I was wrong!  Apparently, the real Robert Powers responded with a simple answer:

Thank you for the kind suggestions

Of course, being a fine correspondent,  I had to have the last word:

You’re very welcome Robert!  Enjoy that microbrew!

Yes, I now have my own Idiot Letter!

#149 – Go Gold 5k

With Sunday came another opportunity to get out there, celebrate the close of the summer Olympics, and put some miles on my new shoes.

Wait… new kicks?

Yep, new Nike Vomeros.  If you’ve read my trials and travails since late last year, I’ve been struggling with shoes.  I wanted new shoes before the Route 66 half marathon in November, and that’s when I put my feet in a pair of Hoke One One Bondi 4 Wides.  Very cushy feel, but I ended up with a black toe, and early this year, got blisters in Chattanooga.

Then I moved to a pair of New Balance.  It’s the first time I’d tried that brand, and while they felt good, I consistently got a blister on the back of my right heel every time I ran.

So, I went back to what I knew, and got a slightly wide Nike Vomero, and I love ’em.  They fit nicely, are comfy, and have the right kind of feel at the back of my foot.  Woot!

The air temperature was fantastic when I got up — about 61°, rare for August in Da Lou — and I shoulda gone out then.  However, I had to get my coffee, Crunch Berries and British soccer going.  Becky also had a CGC trial in the morning, so I waited for them to get on the road before heading out.

Despite the later start, it was still only 67° when I headed out, and even without a cloud in the sky, it was the best morning for being out in more than a month.  My feet were pretty fatigued from Saturday’s run and five hours on my feet at a Jeep show, so I took it easy, and just did a fast walk.

It was a glorious day, with just enough wind to take the edge off the sunlight.  And again, I had a great outing, with only one obstacle…

This time, it was a german shepherd puppy.  That little guy just came up to me like I was a long-lost friend, and laid on my foot while I petted him.  Wonderful!

All in all, a good weekend, with two events done, two puppies played with, and some mileage building.  And why am I building miles?  Well, like a crazy person, I’ve signed up to go to Tulsa for the Route 66 half marathon again in November.

Yeah, I’m nuts.

This event was sponsored by Virtual Run Events and benefitted the Rally Foundation.

Race Course

can·a·peel (noun) ˈkan-ə-pēl – A meal with a lot of variety, where each participant finds and cooks their own food.