Wednesday, December 31, 2008


I am a big fan of the New Year's resolutions. I pretty much view every day as the opportunity to start anew and make significant changes even if I actually never do accomplish it. That's why I prefer mornings to evenings. At night I tend to focus on what I didn't do that day rather than what I did. Maybe I need to check the items on my to do list rather than erase them when I am done with them. When I wake up in the morning it is a completely clean slate; I have done nothing to disappoint myself.

That's what the morning of January 1 is like; a completely clean slate. Which is why I don't get the whole binge drinking on December 31. Starting a clean slate with a hangover is a recipe for failure. Plus I am a lightweight.

Some of the resolutions I am willing to go public with are:

1) Get sponsored for endurance sports, no matter how small. A free pack of gu, a free t-shirt, whatever. I don't need a $100k contract or free sneakers. Whoever sponsors me gets a free logo on this high traffic site

2) Run two marathons, annihilate the New York Marathon to get revenge for 2005 and 2007 and run under 3.30 to qualify for Boston 2010.

3) Get to level 3 in all Petraneks. This might run counter to goal two but if I complete this then I am very close to reaching level four and becoming a 16 year old female gymnast.

4) Read much more. I religiously follow the four horsemen (Krugman, Friedman, Dowd and Kristoff) but I need to expand my knowledge. I tend to get bored of reading about politics and government in non-election years but Obama year 1 should be fascinating as well as the continued rise, fall and rise of Gavin Newsom.

5) Be totally organized. I need to let my complete anal retentive man out to play this year.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Random Updates

I have been going back and forth on whether to try and qualify for the Boston Marathon, which is one of the big swinging dick accomplishments of geeky runners. I was pretty much resigned to postponing trying it until 2010 since the qualifying standard for 40-44 year old men is 3.20 and that ain't happening as long as I refuse to train with some semblance of intelligence. But I just checked the Boston Marathon site and the qualifying time you need to hit is for the age group that you will be on race day. I'll be 45 in April 2010 so I just need to run 3.30 or better next fall. In other words, screw NY Marathon and its hills next year - I am going back to do the flat California International Marathon to nail the time.

I was in New York a week ago and I have officially become a wussy. I had several opportunities to go skiing (even for free on my birthday) but didn't because I didn't feel like getting cold. And it was 25 degrees, not bone numbingly cold. I need a major gut check in 2009 or I am going to go speeding into old age in a hurry. Youth isn't just about feeling good or being in shape, it's about attacking challenges. And sitting in the Belleayre Lodge sipping $3 crap coffee while Sam snowboarded is not attacking.

I am waiting to baited breath whether Kona Endurance will sponsor me. I have given them several ground breaking proposals involving the SF Triathlon Club and CrossFit and am awaiting a response. This will be a good test as to whether Twitter makes for a good agent.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Almost 44 years old

Six days post marathon and for the first time I am not suffering from a lack of focus or post marathon blues. I don't know what my next race will be but it will be a long one and it will be soon. CIM buzz is still there and I want more of it.

One day before my 44th birthday and the issue is whether I need to start becoming comfortable with the onset of a steady decline in performance. I feel awesome during most of my workouts, as good or not better than I did 10 years ago. But peak performance for endurance athletes is not on this side of 40. My saving grace is that I have trained mostly like an idiot for the last ten years. No speed work, no hard day easy, and certainly no attention to nutrition or training. So if I were to actually pay attention to any of those "secrets," I might combat the slight percentage declines in performance each year I get more mature.

But I'm not sure if I really want to do that. There is a certain pride I take from doing things the stubborn way. I know not resting after the marathon hasn't been wise. My left quad hurts since I went right back to running 5-6 miles. But I like being the guy who doesn't rest. I like being the person who leaves the party early so he can run at 3:00 am on a Saturday before an early flight. I like having Rebecca try and talk me out of doing pullups every day. That is my equivalent of winning a race because I live for the spontaneous admiration as opposed to the planned, expected one. It's why I don't like my birthday. Once a year, everyone has to pay attention to you, give you props. And that feels cheap and forced. I'd rather get their attention for just being me on a normal day. The surprising attention is more exciting, even if I make it happen by doing things that I know will get it. Like working out every day. Or doing pushups at OAK gate 5.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Breakthrough Race

I didn’t set any personal records but yesterday’s California International Marathon was the race I have been waiting for my entire life. I always hear stories about people discovering untapped strength when they do endurance events and learning about themselves. This has never happened to me. Until yesterday, my best race ever was the 2006 CIM marathon because I ran a whole marathon for the first time ever and beat my dream goal of sub 3 hours 30 minutes. But this race went like a dream. I trained really well, ran on a perfect course, got great weather and never was in trouble physically.

This year I trained well but I just didn’t have it on race day and the weather was cold and damp. For the first six miles, I didn’t want to be running. 26 miles seemed very intimidating and I had no passion for what I was doing. Then I saw Rebecca cheering at mile 7 and for the first time all day, actually conceived of finishing. I saw her again at the half marathon point and got another charge.

However, once I hit mile 20, things started going downhill in a hurry. I started getting cold and the inevitable quad soreness and calf cramps began. I held it together mentally for awhile but at mile 22, I walked for 20 seconds and assumed I would do yet another 5 mile death walk, and
the attendant tales of woe. I started to play the “run a minute walk 10 second” game which never works. Except that I ran for a few minutes and started to get pissed, thinking why the hell should cramps defeat me? I was staring a mental test in the face and finally realized that this is what a marathon is about. It’s not about training so well that you avoid the wall. It’s about what happens to you when you hit the wall. All of a sudden I felt the best I had all day. The cramps and fatigue didn’t disappear. I still felt like crap, but it didn’t matter. I was in the moment and it was not going to defeat me yet again. I didn’t finish strong but I did finish proud and pumped. It was the breakthrough I have always wanted. The 3 hours 33 minutes and 24 seconds I raced were transformative.

So there is no post race retirement. I am in. Bring on the last four miles of NYC in Central Park, or the Ironman. Because my mind is finally catching up with my body.