Archive for the ‘Random Thoughts’ Category

marathon man

Wrong Marathon man……

So here we are….48 hours away from a Marathon.  I’m reflecting on the words that a friend of mine offered me on Monday of this week after discovering that I had signed up for the Lansing Marathon:  “What on Earth made you think that this was a something you should do?”  A fair question to be sure.  This particular friend hadn’t seen me in over 3 years.  He was with me during the period of my life when 2AM Friday nights, 4 martini lunches, and 2 packs of cigarettes per day were the norm.  I’ll admit to the fact that if I were him, my thinking would have been much the same.  By all accounts, the idea of me being at the start line on Sunday doesn’t make sense.  Maybe the 5k, but the full 26 point freakin’ 2 miles?  There is a glitch in the Matrix here.

I’ve already posted why I started running in the first place so I’m not going to rehash here, but for those who don’t know, I’m hardly the poster-boy for what a runner should look like. (previous post link here)  The weirdest part about this whole journey is that I didn’t see it coming.  If you had come to me one year ago and said, “you’ll run a marathon next year.  And you’ll have fun doing it.”  I would have cocked my head to one side, lit a cigarette, and calmly asked what mind-altering substances you were on.  One year ago there was no way I could ever have seen myself running this.  One year ago I would have said there was no way, NO WAY, I would even casually entertain the thought or doing something like a marathon.  Why would any sane person do something like that?  What kind of a crazy person would look at 26.2 miles of road and say, “F#$@ the car, I can totally get some gym shoes out and run this!”

resolution founders

when I finish, it’s only because the other 3 made me do it

And then I went running with my friends Jojo and Justin. (see first post)  And then Schmitt joined us.  And then we did a race and Andrea Poole joined us.  And then we started meeting every Monday night to run.  And then we moved up from 5ks to 8ks.  And then Tim Davis came along one Monday night and has been there for nearly every run since.  And then Dishaw joined us for a run and we saw what a real runner looks like.  And then we signed up for the Capital City River Run Half Marathon and conquered it (and then conquered more than a case of beer afterwards).  And then Holly started running and became faster than we could have ever imagined. And then Barb showed up and brought friends.  And we did some more races.  And then we kept running every Monday night despite the fact that the temperature was 28 degrees with snow and ice some nights.  And then Craig, who I hadn’t seen since High School, joined the fray and I got to reconnect with someone who I always admired.  And then it seemed like running was something that I was SUPPOSED to do.  And then it didn’t seem so crazy to sign up for something like this……and then I asked myself, “Why WOULDN’T you do this?”.  And by then, the credit card was out and I was signing up.

My decision to go down this road wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment impulse.  It was a product of everything I’ve experienced in this running group.  The longer the 4 Founders met up and ran, the more people joined us.  The more people joined in, the more fun it was.  The more fun it was, the longer we wanted to run.  So 3 milers became 6 milers and the 6 milers became 10 milers, because you’ve got to see if you can last that long…because you’ve already done 6 miles and you KNOW you can do that…..

I looked back on “Quit Smoking” date, and realized that it synched up with the Lansing Marathon day, and it was fate.  I HAD to do this, if only to prove to myself that I was capable of doing it.  It’s what I’ve learned from the last 10 months of this group:  the fact that I’ll never be mistaken for an elite athlete is no reason not to push myself towards something worth reaching for.  In my own case, better fitness, less weight, no more smoking, an improved outlook on life, and a sense of accomplishment that I never thought would be mine.  The rally-point here is that you should be moving forward in life towards something….otherwise you’re just marking time and taking up space.

And then Monday happened.   And my whole running group watched the news from the Boston Marathon.  And we posted on Facebook that we were all in each other’s thoughts on that day.  And then we met up and went running, as a group and as a family.  We made plans to honor those affected by the tragedy in Boston in our own way, and, separately, pledged to go through with our Marathon plans because that is how it should be.  Then we took some time out of the next couple of days to support one another and wish each other well.  Much like the entire nation is doing for Boston and the community of runners affected by the tragedy there.

The race, the Human Race, will go on.  And on Sunday, we plan on being the part of it that RUNS…..that runs because it’s something that feels good; because we CAN.  Because it offers us the freedom to test ourselves and accomplish something that (one year ago in my case) we could only dream of.

April 21st will be one year to the day that I quit smoking.  This marathon was supposed to be a symbol to myself of how far I’ve come in a year.  And yet that doesn’t seem to matter that much to me now.  The Lansing Marathon has now become a very personal undertaking for the entire Monday Night Hangovers crew; whether Half-Marathon, Relay team for the Full Marathon, or helping the Heavy-set-yet-still-incredibly-sexy former smoker out in his attempt to run the full 26 point freakin’ 2 miles.   We’re headed out there on Sunday to run, because we want to cheer and support one another.  We’re headed out there on Sunday to run, because life demands that you test yourself every once in a while.  We’re headed out there on Sunday to run, because life is way too short to take it slow.

Speaking personally, I’m headed out there on Sunday to see if I can do this.  I want to see if I can push myself through something that I would have thought impossible one year ago.  And while I’m doing this on my own two legs, I’ve got a big group of amazing people who’ve volunteered to run a couple miles with me to help get me to the finish line.  A family of runners, if you will, that’s rallying around one of their own who is going to need some help.  As we all need help from time to time to get through challenging moments in life.  As Boston needs a little support and help right now.

Run for the House

The family… They’re amazing

When I look at the number 26.2 on a piece of paper, I’m totally convinced that I won’t be able to do this.  And then I remember that I won’t be running it alone.  Schmitt’s with me miles 1 to 3.  Andrea is there from 3 to 4.  Craig will be there with water and a slow and steady pace from miles 5 to 9.  Holly’s waiting for me at mile 10 to 15 (which will be when I need her the most).  Jess is going to “suffer” (as she puts it) with me through miles 17 to 21. And Jojo (who started this whole crazy thing) will be there with a smile on her face and a bottle of Powerade at mile 22 to take me to the finish line (picking up a few people along the way at miles 23 and 24).  With this much support, I can’t possibly fail.  With this much support, NOBODY could fail.

The Marathon’s coming.  And this ex-smoker is going to toe the line and slay this, but certainly not by myself.  I’m coming for that finish line, and my family’s coming with me.  And when we get there, it’s going to be one helluva party!

See you on Sunday.

bisonsoul

bring it home, big fella!

(if you’re curious, I’ll be the guy who crosses the line around 1pm with BEER written on his socks…._)

Post by Tim Nester.  Father, Husband, Broadcaster, Cook, taster of many beers, lover of life. Senior Founding Member of Monday Night Hangovers.  Follow On Twitter at timnester.

injury

Yes…..that. That right there.

Marathon update:  It’s March 14th The Lansing Marathon is April 21stThe training has been going alright.  Not great, but alright.  I think I may be able to pull this off, not totally sold that I can do it, but reasonably sure that, within a 5 hour timeframe, I can move myself 26.2 miles down Lansing’s streets and trails and “Git ‘er done”….

However, there is a problem.  A problem that has plagued seemingly every runner throughout history……I have been be-felled (is this a word?) by injury.

I have what appears to be a strain of, or partial tear of, my Achilles tendon or calf muscle (what am I?  A doctor?  It’s my lower leg, closer to down by the heel,  and it hurts when I run.)  It doesn’t stop me from running completely, but it hurts when I run and it keeps hurting when I stop running.  It’s also forcing me to over-compensate my stride which is causing my hip on the other side to strain.  Basically, I’m hurting and every time I try to run again I cause more damage to the leg.  The people I’ve consulted with have basically said the same thing, “You’ve run too hard on it.  You need to back off until it heals and then ease back into running.  Ice it and use ibuprofen.”

I’m sure that’s sound advice.  These folks know what they’re talking about.  But…… Hello?  Marathon in 5 weeks?  There is no way I can just sit around resting and still be able to make it through the race.  I’ve been training pretty well (up to a 15 mile training run), but I can’t ease up right now.  These next 3 weeks are crucial for aerobic conditioning, muscle building, and weight loss.  No couch time for this boy!

Of course the conundrum I face is that if I stop running, I won’t be ready conditioning-wise; but if I keep running, then there is no way I will be ready because I will worsen the injury.  It’s maddening, it’s discouraging, and I hate it.

gluttony

That sort of relapse right there.

It also caused me to reflect on what used to happen to me all the time at this time of year.  I would make a New Year’s resolution (usually something overly ambitious), work like crazy to attain it over the course of the first 2 or 3 months of the year, get burnt out from too much effort, take a day off, which would lead to two days off, which would lead to a relapse of behavior, which would lead to me feeling worse because I had failed to do what I had set out to do, which would lead to an even bigger relapse. (Maybe this sounds familiar to some people)

Luckily, I’m slowly becoming self-aware enough that I recognize this recurring tendency and am resolved to do something about it once and for all.  With the training that I was doing, I was pushing my leg too hard.  I compounded that damage by not resting it and pushed on even harder.  Short-term gains in fitness are being washed away by long-term injury concerns, and I won’t stand for that.  It’s times like these that the wise man finds a SMARTER way of working, not a HARDER way of working. (And since I wish to be a wise man, that is what I must do)

wiseman

Seriously…I Googled “running wise man” and this is what popped up. I have no context for this awesome pic.

So I consulted the interwebs and once again pieced together a hybrid plan of what I must do going forward in order to get me across that finish line on April 21st.

A:  No running for 2 weeks.  I still need to workout, but running is off the table for a while. The pounding that 238 pounds (down 18 since I’ve started) puts on my lower leg is just too much right now.  I can take long runs aerobically, but not physically.  2 weeks ought to give my leg a chance to heal up and give the joints a chance to rest a bit.

B: Other Workout time and intensity has to go up.  I now am faced with the less-than-appetizing option of having to really kick it into gear each and every time I am in the gym.  Each workout now has urgency attached to it, because the lungs have to be ready when the legs are all healed up.  Elliptical training resistance levels and times have to go up to the max (3 hours last week for one session), bike training is intense intervals, weight training to follow a 30 minute swim session.  I need to add workouts on top of workouts in order to get ready for longer runs….without actually running those longer runs, yet.

C: Ugh…Two-a-days.  Anybody remember getting ready for a high school sports season in the fall after a solid summer of relaxing?  Yup…two-a-days.  We all used to have to do them, and we all hated them.  However, the practice whipped you back into shape pretty damn quick.  I don’t have a lot of time (what with the 2 kids and 4 jobs and all) but I can usually carve out an hour to an hour and a half of time TWICE a day.  So it’s up at 5:10AM(bleech), in the pool at 5:30AM, weights or elliptical until 6:40AM, back home to get the kids off to school, and then try to grab an hour or two later in the day.  It is not desirable, but it’s what must be done!

D: (spoiler alert…biggest trouble spot here) Diet and weight loss need to become the most important thing in my life.  As it turns out, I’ve been doing OK with the eating and drinking.  True, I’ve dipped into the fast-food comfort source and danced with sweet lady beer a couple of times, but overall I’m doing OK.  Here’s the thing…OK won’t cut it if I’m not out there running.  Weight has to come down and the diet has to improve for me to have a chance at making it past mile 13.  Time to rededicate myself to reasonable dietary choices and to re-exam my relationship with food. (cue Liz Lemmon clip….)

E: Adjust expectations on Race Day.  Look, I wasn’t expecting to win this.  I’m not even expecting to finish in what anyone would deem an “impressive time”.  However, I was still holding out hope that somehow, someway, I would be able to pull something special out of my hat on April 21st and crush even my wildest expectations.  Those days are now gone.  It’s not that I’m giving up totally or anything like that, but if I really try to push this too hard I know I will definitely hurt myself and not finish at all.  I’m setting a realistic goal and trying to accomplish that. (11 minute miles…4 hours 46 minutes)  If I hit that, or even just finish without having a stretcher carry me across, then I’ll be just fine with it.

So there you go.  A younger, more foolish me would have tried to just “out work” this injury.  A slightly older, yet still foolish me would have just thrown his hands up and given up.  The wiser, more mature me knows that while I should have been more careful about over-working right out of the gate, I would be making a bigger mistake by quitting.  I’ve got a strategy that allows me to get the work I need to do done, and still allows my body a chance to heal itself before race day.  I’ve got 5 weeks left.  It’s time to buckle-down and work smarter, not harder.  Let’s do this…

See y’all on the line on April 21st in front of the Lansing Center!

Post by Tim Nester.  Father, Husband, Broadcaster, Cook, taster of many beers, lover of life. Senior Founding Member of Monday Night Hangovers.  Follow On Twitter at timnester.
Marathon Finish Line

Yup…that’s the goal

So I was asked to blog about my prep for the Lansing Marathon.  An amazing honor, and perhaps a useful reinforcement of the fact that, like it or not, I’m scheduled to run 26.1 miles on April 21st.

I have a serious love/hate relationship with running, but have recently come to embrace it as part of my life and a fun way to get healthy.  (read this post to get the full story)  I’m like a lot of people approaching or stationed firmly in “Middle Age”.  I wouldn’t call myself horribly out-of-shape, and yet I know that I am hardly the gleaming example of peak physical condition.  There are things I see in the mirror that I need to improve, and that is one of the reasons why I chose to sign up for my first marathon.  The fact that it was in my hometown and was affordable sealed the deal.  April 21st in the shadow of the Capitol….I’ll be there on the starting line.

This isn’t my first athletic endeavor, but it is by far the most demanding that I’ve ever attempted so there is a bit of nervousness associated with it.  Not wanting to fail horribly in my first attempt, I went online and checked out about 15 different “Marathon training” schedules and used some accumulated knowledge of what works for me and synthesized the following plan.  These are more guidelines than laws, but it’s a good starting point of where I should be going from here to the finish line on Marathon Day.

aubrey's race Tim

Not exactly an elite athlete…..

Tim’s guide to training for the Lansing Marathon:

20 Weeks Starting December 1st.  Lansing Marathon=April 21stth 2013. (one year after quitting smoking)

Target Time is under 5 hours.

Get to the gym 4 out of 7.

  • absolute goal for workouts should be 4 days per week in the gym.  Nothing else can count as a workout…I know when I’ve had a good, solid workout and when I don’t.  They take place in the gym.
  • Running outdoors is fine as long as you do it and are pushing yourself a little bit. I’ve done enough running now that I should be able to concentrate on the road.

When in doubt, Veg out.

  • Vegetables are for eating…every chance I get.  Less processed foods, less meats.  I always feel better when eating veg, so do it.
  • I’ve got a juicer sitting there.  Use it!
  • Food is not for enjoying so much for the next 5 months.  It’s the minimum amount of food to keep me going.
  • I can eat as much as I want…..of celery and lettuce.
  • Fruits for flavor. Grab apples and bananas and such.
  • NO FAST FOOD!  PERIOD! NONE OF IT!

Runs, Runs and more runs

  • Establish a race schedule.  Try to work in a half-marathon in March if I can.  Go 10k instead of 5k if offered the chance.
  • Training Runs are going to be exceptionally important.  Need at least two 20-milers in before the race.  2 additional half-marathon distances would be preferable as well.  Maybe re-run the Capital City River Run half course.

Drop the weight, Drop your time.

  • I’m at 265 lbs as of December 1st.  If I dropped 8 pounds per month (2 pounds a week) I would be down to 210-215 by race day.  That should be the goal.  Anything over 225 is really going to hurt me.
  • Weight MUST be a focus.  Would love to hit 210 by race day.

 Aerobic fitness and strength.  The upper body and core are going to save me in miles 15-26.

  • Full body workouts. The upper body has to get strong and tight along with the legs and lungs.
  • Weights for legs too.  Calf injuries are a problem because I’m not getting them stronger.  Balance the muscle gains for the later miles, when the legs are going to start crapping out on you.
  • Eliptical is my friend.  Running is going to be very important, but if I can crank out an hour or two on the elipitcal to build aerobic endurance, than the road work will be that much easier.
  • Cross train on the bike.  I’m going to need bike muscles for the triathlons anyway, have one day per week be bike heavy….and go after it on those days for the first 2 months.  It’ll get me motivated, bring my aerobic endurance level up, and I know can crush a ride on the bike.

 Be the course.

▪        Run as much of the course as I can previous to the race.  Practice runs can be done on the segments on the map.  Need an 8 miler on the Saturday run?  Mark off 4 miles on the map and run it backwards and forwards.  Get comfortable with where I’ll be on race day.

Go to bed, I’m not in college anymore!

  • Any chance I get, go to bed early.  Don’t stay-up past 10pm.
  • Sleep..lay there..use it as a time to NOT do bad-for-you stuff.

Training plan:

Week Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
1 4 miles <2.5>(Dec3rd) Gym<weights full body.  Bike=30 min. intervals> Gym(light)<light curls and overhead..3 sets.  Eliptical= 30 minutes> Rest Bike, 30 minute intervals.  Weights Rest Bike 30 minutes weights
2 OFF(Dec 10th) Run 3.5 miles..heavy weights Gym(light) 3 miles Rest 5 miles Rest
3 4 miles(Dec 17th) Gym Gym(light) 4 miles Rest 5 miles Rest
4 4 miles(Dec 24th) Gym Gym(light) 4 miles Rest 6 miles Rest
5 4  miles(Dec 31st) 5 miles Gym(light) 4 miles Rest 5 miles Rest
6 4 miles(Jan. 7th) Gym Gym(light) 5 miles Rest 7 Miles Rest
7 4 miles(Jan 14th) Gym Gym(light) 6 miles rest 7 Miles Rest
8 4 miles(Jan 21) 5 miles Gym(light) 5 miles Rest 8 Miles Rest
9 4 miles(Jan 28th) 5 miles Gym(light) 6 miles Rest 8 Miles Rest
10 5 miles(Feb 4th) Gym Gym(light) 6 miles Rest 10 Miles Rest
11 5 miles(Feb 11th) Gym Gym(light) 4 miles Rest 12 Miles Rest
12 5 miles(Feb 18th) Gym Gym(light) 4 miles Rest 8 Miles Rest
13 5 miles 6 miles Gym(light) 5 miles Rest 8 Miles Rest
14 4 miles(March 4th) Gym Gym(light) 6 miles Rest 15 Miles Rest
15 4 miles(March 11th) Gym Gym(light) 7 miles Rest 10 Miles Rest
16 4 miles(March 18th) Gym Gym(light) 8 miles Rest 17 Miles Rest
17 4 miles(March 25th) Gym Gym(light) 8 miles Rest 20 Miles Rest
18 5 miles(April 1st) Gym Gym(light) 8 miles Rest 8 Miles Rest
19th 5 miles(April 8th) Gym Gym(light) 8 miles Rest 3 miles Rest
20 5 miles(April 15th) Gym(light) Gym(light) 20 minutes Rest Rest MarathonApril 21st

Expectation:

11 minute miles(average)

4 hours 46 minutes

Best Possible:

9:30 minute miles (average)

4 hours 7 minutes

Minimum Acceptable:

Finishing!

But probably want under 5 hours 15 minutes.

So there you go….that’s what I’m looking at in the coming weeks ahead.  Wish me luck!  If you’re on the line with me that morning, good luck in your prep!

Alright, it’s you and me, Marathon….let’s see what you’ve got!

 

Post by Tim Nester.  Father, Husband, Broadcaster, Cook, taster of many beers, lover of life. Senior Founding Member of Monday Night Hangovers.  Follow On Twitter at timnester.

Our running group has thrived and prospered over the past couple of months. We’ve seen new members come and go and then return again. We’ve run routes and rediscovered old routes. And we’ve drunk many a beer in fellowship after cranking out a solid 4 to 5 miles. But we stayed true to our original plan, which was meet-up and run on Monday nights.

route

The Route

Well, as it turns out, that wasn’t enough for some people. (It’s the funny thing about running, the more you do it, the more you WANT to do it) And so a breakaway faction of MNH was born and started running on Saturday mornings. Most of us dismissed this as a fad and went on our way. (seriously, Saturday mornings? Umm…hung-over…hello?) But they kept at it and so the Saturday edition on “Monday Night Hangovers” is an actual, real thing.

So last Saturday I figured I would join them for their insane, crazy, and ill-thought-out running plans. The course was set at a 7.5 mile out-and-back loop from Macguire Park in Lansing, through Hawk Island Park, down the River Trail to Potter Park Zoo, and back. It’s a bit of a longer run than I am used to, but I needed to start packing on the miles for my marathon training plan and I figured I could probably handle it. (plus there was the promise of pancakes afterward. I freakin’ love pancakes) At 8:15AM on a on overcast Saturday, there I was. Sweatpants and long sleeve shirt on, grumbling attitude in tow perhaps, but present and correct.

Off we started and immediately I knew there was going to be a problem. I had recently bought a new MP3 player (product reviews will be added to the site shortly) and I was trying new headphones with them. The bloody headphones kept slipping out of my ears. I could go a couple of steps and then the left one would slip out. A couple of steps and the right one would slip out. It was annoying to say the least. Adding to my increasing rage was the fact that my sweatpants were deciding to slip off of my waist. I was literally running my pants off. The elastic is old and the draw-string couldn’t be knotted effectively so they kept falling down. After a half-mile or so, I had had enough. I was cold, I was going slow (everyone was at least a ¼ mile ahead of me…probably more like ½ mile ahead of me) and these stupid pants were driving me crazy!

In my moment of rage, I pulled off the damn headphones and launched the MP3 player into the grass beside the paved trail. Tugging at the drawstring and tromping through the mud, I tried to calm myself down. I still had some miles to put in after all and everyone else had already disappeared. I knew I was going to be last but didn’t think I was going to be a half-hour slower than everyone.

fatguy

a not fully inaccurate representation

Gathering whatever dignity as cursing fat man with sweatpants falling off his butt can muster, I looked at the situation. I wanted to finish the run, but couldn’t. Not if I had to hike up my stupid pants every two steps. I also couldn’t listen to any music, a blow to be sure but nothing that was insurmountable. So I picked up the MP3 player and looked at the blasted headphones. One of the ear buds was busted. Fully snapped off. As I contemplated the maddening series of events though a thunderbolt of insight popped into my head. The headphone cord was about the circumference of me.  Since they were garbage now anyway, I could turn this into a belt! Eureka!

So I looped it around my waist, tied it tight, and took off for a few paces. It was holding and seemed like it had enough strength to get me through. Relief washed over me and off I went. I knew I wasn’t going to catch anyone, or even finish the full 7.5 miles now that time was ticking away, but I could probably get in 5 miles or so and still have myself a nice little run. The day was warming up and there were plenty of other folks on the river trail (and some deer, too) and there was nowhere else I needed to be at that moment. Just put one foot in front of the other and work on becoming a fitter, thinner, and better person. What more could I ask from a Saturday morning?

It turns out I did 6 miles. (Everyone else did 8…..bastards…) I felt great at the end of it and the biscuits with sausage gravy and cup of coffee I had afterward have never tasted better. It was a great run that I look forward to repeating with this group of crazies that decide to wake up early on a Saturday in January in Michigan and go running. I also have a new moment in my life that I can reflect on when I’m faced with a situation that seems to be getting worse with every step. Instead of raging at it, maybe I just need to step back, take a look at what’s going on, and come up with a solution. Weird how running keeps adding fresh perspective to my life, but there you go.

Post by Tim Nester.  Father, Husband, Broadcaster, Cook, taster of many beers, lover of life.  On Twitter at timnester.

spirithorseLike the ancients who strolled these lands before I was born, I recently embarked on a sacred quest to find a guide-post on this windy road of life. (I think the ancients did this….most of my knowledge of history is pieced together from old “The Simpsons” episodes and period sketches from “Portlandia”, but it sounds mystical and old-timey so everyone play along…) Of course the ancients had a name for this creature; they called it your “Spirit Animal”. A mystical projection from the netherworlds that helped you on your way, taught you more about yourself and your place in the great tapestry of life, and showed you the path to enlightenment and spiritual harmony. (I really hope at least 10% of this is true, if I’m insulting anyone than I’m really sorry.)

So, much like the runners at the end of the book “Born to Run” (buy this book…great book), I searched within my own “runner soul” to see who reached back from the mists of the spirit world so that I might learn, and grow, and become wiser and faster and thinner and sexier. I meditated over the course of the last several weeks (read: once for 35 minutes, two weeks ago.) and asked myself what qualities I have that would be ideally embodied in a mystical spirit-beast. The ancients, apparently, fasted for days and went out into the wild in search of this vision, so I decided I would do the modern-day equivalent: I had a salad at lunch and walked around the block once. Deep was my quest for spiritual awakening.

Surprisingly, nothing showed up. Not a mystical purple rhino, not a glittery parakeet who signs life lessons to you in the form of riddles, not even a ghostly chain-smoking cockroach that starts every sentence with, “Let me tell you something there, bub.” Nothing. Zero. Zilch. It was as if the afterlife had taken a look at my sacrifice (seriously, I ate a salad in place of actual food. It’s like I’m freakin’ Gandhi over here!) and said that it was not enough. Or that I was too sucky a person to be bothered with. Or that I had not given them enough money. Or something. You never know with spirits.

So I searched some more. I put my mind to thinking about what spiritual qualities I have that are considered positive. What do I possess within myself that others think of as worthwhile? And what animal would be an accurate representation of that?

panther2My first thought immediately was…..a panther.

Look at him…smooth, sexy, powerful, brooding, vicious but only when provoked. The kind of animal that both men and women alike point to and say, “Damn…that is one well put-together animal.” Prized both for its sheer beauty and enchanting musk.

However, after further consideration, a panther was just not me. In fact, my spirit animal would be the ANTI-panther for sure. The thing furthest away from the sleek, sexy, gets-all-the-girls-without-even-trying, stupid, jerk-faced panther. (Seriously, go f$%^ yourself, panther!) That would be me.

So I was going to need something else.

mooseA friend of mine played upon my height and size and Northern-roots and suggested the Bull-Moose. Not a bad choice, except, I’m not Canadian. I’m not even from Minnesota, which is as close to being a Canadian as one can get while still holding onto the “Everybody sucks but me” attitude that we Americans cling to like grim death.

While the moose is certainly majestic, potentially lethal, and a noble representative of the frozen North, there’s just something about the moose that doesn’t speak to me. Possibly because they are too graceful compared to me. Dainty even. I would need more of a man’s man spirit animal. Something a little more bad-ass but NOT “maul you to death or attack you unprovoked and feast upon your entrails” kind of bad-ass.

There were other suggestions.
mastiff
Meh…….

Maybe this:
manatee
Oh. Hahahahaha…real funny. (extends finger)

and finally…..
kungfupanda
Well that’s just mean…….

And so I went running. (If you are wondering about why I would do this, see previous blog post) And as I plodded along mile after mile and waded through some music that I’m considering holding onto for my Work-out mix, I let my mind drift back to my quest. Certainly there must be some spirit animal out there designed for me. One embodiment of my greater qualities.

And then it appeared to me.

bisonsoul

Oh. Hell. Yes. The Great American Bison. How did this not occur to me sooner? It’s everything that is the best qualities of me: Big, powerful, majestic, gentle-and-yet-still-badass, a caring parent to its offspring, possessor of deep soulful eyes, capable of impressive land speeds but taking a long time to accelerate and decelerate……..easy to kill.  Also, an adult bison was capable of feeding a family of four for nearly 3 months….much like myself if I were to ever go down in a plane crash like that soccer team in “Alive”.

The bison is what I am when it comes to running as well: not the fastest, and yet when you consider the sheer scope of how far they roam, how far they move all of that beef while galloping, then you have to come away impressed. When I finish my marathon in April, that’s exactly the response I’m hoping to get. “Dear God, how can something that big and awkward have made it that far?”

I considered all of this and my soul agreed. I mentally pictured my spirit animal and asked him to be my own and guide me through the path of continued health, speed, and happiness. I saw him clearly in my mind. He knowingly nodded at me and winked. Then said to me “there’s the track…doesn’t matter how fast you go, but you best keep moving along. Wolves will eat you if you stop.”

And so I ran 6 miles. And the wolves went hungry. And now the great bison will be there with me every run, pushing me and reassuring me that the path that I have chosen is the right one. Because he’s absolutely right, it doesn’t matter how fast I’m going, it’s how far I’m going. (26.2 miles in April!)…..and I don’t want to be eaten by wolves.

Post by Tim Nester.  Father, Husband, Broadcaster, Cook, taster of many beers, lover of life.  On Twitter at timnester.

T Shirt Ideas

Posted: January 6, 2013 in Random Thoughts

These are suggestions…we can design whatever the hell we want, of course.

Figure around 20-25 buck per person if we want to do it.

Maybe someone else knows of a cheaper source.

t shirt 4 t shirt 5 t shirt 6 t shirt 7 t shirt t shirt 2 t shirt 3t shirt 8

t shirt 9

tim bolt

It began around April 20th of 2012.  I had been working out for a month or so because I was running the Hawk Island Triathlon for the third straight year. I was pretty darn slow the first two years and so I wanted to put up a better time and figured that biking like crazy and getting better at the swim would do just that. I was running a little, but I’ve always hated running….HATED it. I’m a big framed dude and it’s hard for me to get any type of speed going and it always felt horribly uncomfortable maintaining it past 1/4 mile. My friends could all bust out a couple of miles without a problem. My wife pops out of the house and goes like crazy. My Dad was a runner, my older brother can bust out a 5K in respectable time, even the old couple down the street enters runs all the time and they’re 70! For the life of me I could never figure out why this was such an ordeal for me. I can bike just fine, for miles and miles in fact. Running, however, remained one of those activities that I figured I would never enjoy and only do because it was the inevitable part of triathlons.

So I got back from vacation in South Carolina and decided to face my fears.  Figuring that I could always go back to the relative safety of biking, I decided that I should run….a lot.  Run whenever I worked out.   Run for as long as I could before stopping, as far as I could without stopping.  Time to slay the demon!  And so it began.

Couple of things I noticed right away.  Firstly, and this probably should have occurred to me before, I was able to run for a longer time and ultimately run a faster overall time when I slowed my pace a little at the beginning.  I must have spent my entire life trying to keep up with people who’s bodies are much better built for this running thing than mine.  By slowing my pace down by 30 seconds to 1 minute per mile, I was able to consistently run for about 2 miles before having to walk (which is about a mile and a half further than I could ever go before).  It wasn’t pretty and I’m certain that the people in the gym who saw me plod along the track were making fun of me, but it felt like I was making progress.

Secondly, I noticed that each day was a little easier than the run before.  Each run made it a little easier for me to get back on the track the next time out.  I was able to relax a little bit and even enjoy the run.  It felt….good.  The more run time I was able to squeeze in, the more I looked forward to next time.  I was always so intimidated by how bad I was at running that I felt tense the entire time before.  Now that I could go at my own pace and just work on starting out slow and getting better, I didn’t have to panic every time I stepped on to the track.

Finally, and this is so obvious to all that it’s a bit embarrassing for me to admit, I was able to feel the affects of NOT smoking.  It had only been 2 or 3 weeks at that point, but I was honestly feeling like I could breathe easier.  Apparently, smoking is bad for you.  I know that the science might confuse you a little, but when you take smoke, toxins, and carcinogens into your lungs it will affect how well you can breathe.  What a revelation!   I also found out that because I was able to run better because I didn’t smoke anymore, I was running more to avoid smoking.  It worked out to be a nice substitution behavior that helped out with the cravings.

So that’s how I got going with the whole thing.  It certainly wasn’t easy, but the triathlon was looming and I had made a side-bet with my brother-in-law on who would finish first, so I kept at it.  And when the triathlon got here, I discovered something else.  I was better at running than I had ever been in my life, and I was still awful at it.  31 minutes on the 5K portion of the tri was not exactly horrible, but it was far from being even remotely impressive.  Afterwards, I decided that I still wanted to work out to keep the pounds off and do a few more triathlons, but I would go back to biking and working on swimming.  Running would shift back to “only when I have to” status.

Then my friend Jojo asked me if I wanted to run a 5K in DeWitt with her.  The last 5K run I had done was in college, somewhere in the neighborhood of 16 years ago.  Since I had dropped 17 minutes off my triathlon time, I figured I would give it a shot and signed up.  It was awful.  It was painful.  I suffered through the whole darn thing and only managed 32 minutes on the clock (which was slower than the triathlon time).  But I was also happy that I had done it, that I had stretched my limits a little.  And was happy that I got to spend a little time with my friend doing something fun and rewarding.  We agreed to meet up for a run soon.

A couple of weeks later I showed up at the River Trail to meet up with Jojo, Justin, and Schmitt to go for a bit of a run.  I knew I couldn’t keep up with them, but we were meeting up at the bar at the end of the run, so if I was a little behind the pack then it would just give everyone else an excuse to have another beer, making me the hero!  It turned out to be a little bit of a life changing experience.  Justin and Jo disappeared pretty quickly, but it turns out that Schmitt and I are about even paced when it comes to running.  Though we’re built slightly differently, we’re built for the same basic purpose.  Power and not speed.  We’re linebackers and not marathoners.  We also found that both of us could push ourselves a little without dropping the other one and that if one of us needed a break and a bit of a walk to recharge, then that was cool too.  We ran for 4 or 5 miles.  It took us 50 minutes or so, but we did it!  I just ran further than I had ever run before!  And had fun doing it!  Plus there was a beer waiting for me at the end of this…..sweet fancy Moses what a deal!

It turns out that my life-long dread of running was based on a misconception that I had to be, well, good at running to enjoy it.  I’m not good at running.  I’m probably never going to be what’s known as “good” at running.  But I am getting better at it, I am enjoying the hell out of it, and I’ve found a group of people who have the same sort of opinion about it that I do.  We get together Monday nights to do something we know is good for us, exercise….and then go to the bar so we can keep a balanced life.  It’s running to have fun, not running to run faster and stronger and better.

As we’ve progressed through the late summer, fall and now into winter, we’ve kept up the runs.  We’ve made new friends who have joined us on Monday nights.  And we’ve embarked on a few adventures for 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons and the like, with each race run celebrated at the end.  Not because everyone ran it really fast or won their age division or anything like that, but because we all finished it, we all got off the couch and did it.  And then we went and had fun.

I thank each and everyone of the Monday Night Hangovers crew for getting me into this.  I am easily the slowest one of the group, but they don’t seem to mind and they keep up the encouragement, just as I keep up my encouragement of them. I went from having run in a 5K once 16 years ago to having completed 18 races of various lengths in the course of 8 months….and quit smoking to boot!  Wish I had realized that sometimes it doesn’t matter how good you are at something, just that you enjoy doing it.  I’m very glad I discovered it now though.

Happy 2013 to everyone!  Let’s go running!

-Entry by: Tim Nester.   Senior Founding Member of “Monday Night Hangover”.  Email me tnester66@gmail.com