Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

I don't need this PS Vita, but I'm thankful Edz bought it for me.
Every year I think about writing a Thanksgiving blog.  I actually do so about half the time.

I'm thankful that my job continues to be exciting and challenging.  I get to work with amazing people who inspire me every day.  This year I traveled to Guam, Palau, Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Fiji, The Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Trinidad, Grenada, and the Netherlands to talk about sharks.  Tomorrow I'm going to New Zealand and Samoa.

Edz continues her march towards achieving the American dream.  The job she started this year offers a 401(k) and an employee stock purchase plan, so I like to tell her that she's technically self-employed now.  This year we managed to save some money, while still purchasing some toys we honestly don't need.

Speaking of Edz, I'm thankful for her poor eyesight.  Even after 3 years of marriage and 7 years being together, I still don't understand why someone so beautiful and kind would settle for me.

I'm thankful for my health.  This year I started to get back in shape and dropped 30 lbs. on my way to running my first half marathon.  I'm running, and hopefully finishing, a marathon in January.  I'm especially thankful that I did all this without dieting.

Next year we're going to spend Thanksgiving in Florida.  Edz has never spent Thanksgiving with the O'Connors and my last time was 2008.  Prior to that it was 2003.  I've been a bad son, brother, and uncle.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Still Hurting

As I ran today, I thought back to a brief moment of insanity I had back in September.

The Disney Marathon weekend isn't just a marathon.  There's also a 5K, 10K, and a half marathon on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, respectively.  Disney offers up something called the Dopey Challenge: runners try to finish all four races over the weekend.

Back in September that sounded like a great idea.  I'd run a couple of hundred miles and dropped two dozen pounds after two months of training and I figured that with three more months of training the Dopey Challenge would be no big deal.  I suggested that I take the challenge to some of my coworkers; they suggested that it would probably kill me.

I took their advice and just signed up for the marathon.

Am I ever glad I did that!

The half marathon was 10 days ago and I still feel like I'm still recovering.  I thought I felt ready to start training again, but my first two runs since the race have been miserable.  I'm crampy, stiff, and slow.  Can it really take this long to recover?

Anyway, today's run was 5.6 miles in 53 minutes.  I've now run 204 miles since October 1.  The Disney Marathon starts in 46 days!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Training Break

Today was my first run since the Anthem Richmond Half Marathon. I started out thinking I was going to run about 9 miles, but about 3 miles in I realized that wasn't happening. I felt some tightness in my legs and tasted the bacon cheeseburger and fries I ate for lunch. I cruised home with 5.3 miles under my belt.

I've been training consistently since August 15 and spent the better part of the last three months either starving, exhausted, or both. Rain or shine (rain just meant a treadmill), I'd knock out about 5 miles each day or 60 minutes, whichever was shorter. The half marathon (and some travel) put a hiccup in my training, but I think I needed it.

I took about a week off before the race (due to travel) and a week off after the race (due to laziness) and now I feel great. My plantar fasciitis is gone. My achilles don't hurt. It doesn't hurt to walk and my muscles thank me for that. And I drank a lot of beer, which always makes me feel good.

I've got 48 days left to train for the Disney Marathon. If I'm to reach my goal of 500 miles in 100 days in training (plus the 200 prior to signing up for the race), I'm going to have to up my mileage, which is something I should be doing anyway. Hell, I can average 8:30 miles over a half marathon now, so no reason I can't pick up the pace and distance during my daily runs.

The half was a wake up call to how difficult the marathon is going to be, but I'm still optimistic that I can run 9:00 miles to finish in just under 4 hours.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Concert for Valor

Last week, one of Edz' managers gave her two tickets to go see the Veterans Day Concert for Valor on the National Mall. She texted me frantically around lunch time to let me know that we had to arrive before 5:30 PM for the 7:00 PM concert.

I left work early and met her at 4:00 PM at the Starbucks in front of the Federal Center SW Metro station. With our two blue tickets in hand, we walked towards the entrance on 4th street. I've been to three presidential inaugurations and two July 4th fireworks on the National Mall. There's always the public section that is usually about half a mile away from the stage. With tickets you can get closer, but often not that close. When I was at Obama's first Inauguration I was in the standing only section. When he was sworn in the second time I was closer and actually had a chair (and thanks to Kilili for both tickets!).

I thought of those experiences as we walked towards the entrance. Where would we end up?

After going through security we followed the signs to the blue ticket section. We were led to the area right behind the bleachers, then around the bleachers, and then right down to the front of the stage. At 4 PM there were lots of people spread out on blankets. We walked around them to go right up to the front, about six bodies from the stage. Then we stood in place for three hours as we waited for the concert to start.

Metallica was the best act of the night. You haven't lived until you've seen them live. Rihanna and Eminem were also amazing. Dave Grohl rocked. About half the crowd didn't understand Bruce Springsteen was protesting. I'd never heard Zac Brown, Black Keys, or Carrie Underwood sing before, and probably won't make an attempt to again. And I still can't name a song Jennifer Hudson sings, although I've heard the name.

I posted a few of the photos I took to Facebook. Here are a few of my favorites: