Sunday, December 20, 2009
A scene from the movie Saint Ralph it wasn't.
It wasn't even fucking close.
The start of the story came from my dog, Chewy. He was the main reason I ran the 30k.
You see, with the exception of Chewy, I lived alone. I worked extra long hours and had a crazy long commute. I would come home and things would be in disarray. Chewy, very true to his name, would dwindle down odd things around the house to the point of bits and pieces. He was notoriously high-energy, and when I regularly came home from work, I was the exact opposite. The stress of rush-hour traffic through multitudes of arterial highways, as well as the job itself, left me exhausted.
One day, after coming home from another bullshit day, I just got tired of it. I came home to Chewy beside something that resembled being ass-raped-destroyed, and put on some running shoes and leashed him up.
So we ran. To a body of water that was close to my house and back.
Just like that. He wasn't even breathing heavily. I, on the other hand, was feeling rough.
Our mini runs became frequent. Slowly, I increased the distance. And I didn't die from it, which amazed me, considering how much of a piece of shit my body was(believe it or not, I am a FAT man, trapped in a SKINNY man's body.). My tolerance for pain got better, thanks to some breathing techniques from yoga, keeping me calm and cool.
Stupid Chewy loved the whole thing. I got a good chance to tire him out, and expend his destructive energy. Nothing was torn, as he was calmer and more content.
I, on the other hand started to realize my abs. I thought I had a 6-pack for a while. My body slowly took shape. My lung capacity increased, and my energy levels went up. I started to push for more, and our Sunday-Morning-Fun-Runs became 5 to 10k Nipple-Chafe-rs.
That's when the stupidity dawned on me.
Why don't I run a fucking marathon?
I had months and months of half-assed training, I was in semi-decent shape. I was feeling pretty good about myself, thinking that I can take on the world. What the hell? I kept on with the running while I hacked through a debilitating chest infection, so I thought, 'if I could run through that, I can do anything!'
But 30k of that? Really?
The day of the race came quickly. I didn't think that I had enough training in, to be quite honest. When I walked over to the starting line, seeing everybody in their spandex and all of their gear, I felt intimidated and out of place.
But fuck them. Those fuckers ran in groups, like support groups. The only other soul I ran with was Chewy, who was with me through it all. But he wasn't going to be with me on this run.
It was fucking teeming down with rain. Wicked cold, as well. Out of all my runs, I could never muster up the nerve to go out in the goddamn rain. This day had to be the worst ever picked day to go for a run.
So off we went. I read all the advice through all the websites and blogs, telling me to stay calm and not get into the excitement of it all. Setting a consistent pace that was more suited to me was the mantra. Everybody passed me, but I had to keep my own speed.
Did I say that it was raining and miserable?
It was fun to see everybody come out to give us support, but if lard-ass me could do it, why couldn't they? It drove me nuts when people sit in the stands and are just spectators. A little bit of physical exertion isn't going to kill you, you know.
At the 5k mark, I started to feel a tinge from my left knee. I regret having that extra large, extra greasy pizza that my sister caught me bringing home a week before, saying that I was in, 'deep training,' and she should mind her fucking business.
Good one. Maybe I should have tried some more plyometrics to maybe condition my joints for this kind of torture.
My pace slowed a lot, and I limped through the main parts of the race with hardly any incident. By the time we got closer to the water, the wet conditions felt worse. But we all had to trudge through it, so there wasn't much room for complaining. The people around me were going through the same problems.
The last 5k of the race was brutal. At that point, I was in total agony. Both my knees were fucked totally. I started to think about my future in running, and how it's going to be over after this. Then I started to think about walking out the garbage and the recycling to the curb, and if I will ever get to do that again. I mean, it was a long walk.
I half-sprinted and half-limped to the finish. My time was 3 hours and 47 minutes. I was ranked between the old and the obese.
But that didn't matter. What counts was that I started something with the intention of finishing, and did. My pride would have gotten the best of me if I had quit at the 5k mark, when things started to get hard. It just seemed like my stigma that I couldn't shake, so I did run with a chip on my shoulder.
Chewy also would have my head if I didn't finish. There would be something with the way he looks at me that would be different.
But still, fuck Chewy.
10 Things To Prepare For A Marathon
10. Make sure your heart is in it. If you come out second-guessing yourself and giving into doubt, you've already handicapped yourself before the race even started.
9. Leave enough time before the race to train. And I don't mean the week before. Your legs and the rest of your body need to be conditioned for this kind of physical exertion. Your body doesn't need that kind of shock the day of. Here's a link to a training program specifically designed for this race:
8. Try to eat as clean as possible. When I was training for this ordeal, I'd be ravenous afterward. I was truly burning more calories than I put back in. And whatever I put in my body was straight junk. Over processed fast foods, refined sugars, loads of fat went into my body. Instead of replacing muscle fibers in my body, I actually lost muscle and began to store fat, which hindered my performance. Laird Hamilton would always say, 'garbage in, garbage out.' I never related that message until after the race. Eat as much fibrous foods as possible: fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and lean meats will help you on your way. Stay off the greasy pizza!
7. Lay off the alcohol. It is a total detriment. I would spend my Saturday nights boozing it up and shaking my ass off at Absinthe, and spend the following morning running a 10k with Chewy. I'd brag to everybody about this, saying that it was a testament to how great of shape I was in. It was all machismo bullshit. There were mornings when I felt that my liver was punched repeatedly, and I would smell of the shit from the night before. The alcohol would literally be coming off my pores! Boozing does not aid in muscle recovery, just the opposite, while storing fat in your body at the same time. See number 8.
6. Scout the course and try to run the thing in sections. I checked the map, found the 10k mark and ran the rest from there. I found this helpful in the visualization of finishing the race, making mental notes of certain landmarks before the finish. This helped a ton, since I didn't follow much of a training program and had no intention of doing so.
5. Invest in some gel-packs. Go to a running-specific store. They're inexpensive and a life saver. Hunger and weakness is an inevitability somewhere in the race, and will be more than enough to make you quit. In every long distance run that I've done, I've ended up calling it, just so I can quickly get to a burger joint and feed my face. Pocket a handful of these for the race, pop one in your mouth at every 5k increment and you should finish just fine.
4. Hydrate. Early and often. You should be drinking right now. Doing long distance without rehydration is a no-no. It keeps your joints lubricated and protected for the grind of a marathon. Carry a bottle of water and trade hands when you're running. If you don't want to hold it, put it on the small of your back, tucked in your pants. Go get a drink. It will help you.
3. Plyometrics. Look it up, and do it religiously. Save you knees for bigger things. Like walking. Don't destroy them for a stupid marathon.
2. Keep YOUR pace. A lot of these running knobs will peer-pressure you into falling into their speed during the race. Fuck them. Listen to your body. A steady, consistent pace is the most efficient calorie burn with the least lactic acid production. Run YOUR race, not theirs.
1. Have fun with it. Every chance you get, enjoy those little things. Remember to put it in perspective. It is YOUR universe at the moment, but if you step back to take a look, you have to remember: It's only a run.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Diego showed BJ this Saturday how tough he was by hitting him repeatedly on the fists with his face. What a massacre! It broke my heart to watch Diego lose, as he is my favourite fighter to watch.
When BJ Penn knocked Sanchez unconscious even for a brief second in that first round, there was an inkling that Diego's heart shrank a shit-ton. That was the deciding factor, since the 'Nightmare's heart was his most dangerous weapon that he brought to every fight.
Here's to hoping that crazy fucker comes back a little stronger next time and shows BJ a thing or two.
Heal up, Nightmare!
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Where do I begin?
Harry Leroy Halladay III, also known as Doc, has been a source of many hero-worships, flattering imitations, feelgood stories, and lately, plenty of discussion and speculation regarding his future with his current team, the Toronto Blue Jays.
Having the luxury of living in the area, and being devout baseball fan, I've had the greatest pleasure of witnessing many of the games(and mostly gems) that he has pitched. Since he was called up late September of 1998, and was one out short of a no-hitter on the last game of the season. I just had a feeling this tall motherfucker had something special to bring to the table. I witnessed a pitcher with an arsenal of pitches: a 95-96mph fastball, change up, slider, and that wicked knuckle-curve, all at his disposal.
It was a pleasure to see somebody hitting the catcher's glove with such fervour and regularity, after being subjected to a pitching staff, who at that time, looked like a bunch of bums who couldn't hit a fucking barn(that is, with the exception of Chris Carpenter, who moved on with St. Louis, won a World Series title, and two NL Cy Young awards. But he was such crap then, too. He only had an inkling of being great then.)
But the years after that game didn't dictate that. The next year, Doc was figured out all around the league. His fastball was fat and flat. The strike zone for his breaking pitches shrank. He got lit up like a Christmas tree. His confidence went to the shitter. Roy got dropped all the way down to the lowest wrung of professional baseball to try regain his composure and reinvent himself.
This is where the feel-good of the story comes in. At this point, Halladay was pretty much one wrung away from being out of baseball completely. Everything in his young pro career was in shambles. It seemed then, whispers from the top of the Toronto organization had the tone of hopelessness, and that they eventually, have to move on without him(I have to put in that Doc was a high draft choice for the Blue Jays, and he was a major part in the team's future plans).
The Blue Jays just treated him like a reclamation project, with very little upside.
But it was there in class-A baseball where Roy Halladay, the Roy Halladay that we know today, found it. Mel Queen, former Jays pitching coach, helped Halladay with a arm delivery, discarded the plethora of pitches, and started from scratch.
In later articles, Halladay mentions teachings from his Dad about trees with dangling branches. Instead of breaking the branches clean off, Roy's father taught him to bind the branches back together with the tree. The joint of the branch to the tree was stronger than it ever was.
Or something like that.
I can't remember every fucking thing.
So there Doc was, re-armed with a 3/4 delivery(that I still mimic to this day), and three new pitches: a cut fastball that goes in on the hands of batters, a sinking fastball that just go dead when batters make contact, and a curveball that dissappears for anybody standing in the batter's box. And all of these pitches move wherever Doc wants it to go.
The shit was just unfair. Suffice it to say, Doc Halladay made his ascent back to big league baseball relatively quickly.
The one major thing that I notcied about the reinvented Halladay was his efficiency. When he first came up to the organization, he threw a lot of pitches, mostly striking out batters.
Bill Lee, the Red Sox junkballer, who was notorious for his opinions, once said in his book, The Wrong Stuff, "strikeouts are boring and fascist. Throw groundballs, they're democratic."
That's what Roy did. And with this newfound efficiency he sped up the games he pitched, kept his defence on their toes, and pitched more complete games than anyone in the league. In an era where starting pitchers are only expected to pitch six good innings before letting their bullpens mop up the rest, Halladay is the Renaissance by becoming that pitcher who finishes what he starts.
That bulldog quality in a pitcher, these days, is rare. Halladay going nine innings a game makes the rest of the pitchers in the league look like a bunch of pussies. Doc IS the throwback to the days where pitchers threw until their arms fell off. He established a high number of innings pitched and separated himself from the pack.
And besides that, he was very fun to watch. In the American League, and their Designated Hitter rule, most of the emphasis of baseball come from the team swinging the big bat. The most pomp the pitcher can bring for himself are those flashy fascist strikeouts. But when Doc is pitching, the emphasis is on defence. It made me appreciate what a beautiful thing a groundball double-play is.
And Roy dictates the pace. He works fast, leaving batters guessing and being beside themselves. A Doc Halladay pitched game would start at say, 7:00, and we'll be out of the park by 9:00 with our subsequent plans intact. We love watching games where Halladay is up on the mound. He's fast, he's tidy, and he's that fucking good.
Which brings us to this. Our very own homegrown talent, up from the crevasses of A-Ball, an unhittable workhorse, a straight-up winner, first-class human being, my inimitable hero, our source of great baseball entertainment, won't be ours any longer.
Roy Halladay has all the credentials to be inducted to baseball's highest honor, The Hall Of Fame. His only detraction is the team that he plays for, the Blue Jays, have not provided him with many meaningful games to play for. Playing for and performing well to achieve a World Series Championship would be the feather in his cap that would make him a shoe-in for the Hall.
As much as he has been a class individual for the team and the city that he loves, there is the yearning for that championship that would cement his legacy. Roy always says the right thing by being loyal and wanting a Championship title for Toronto, but it seems under the circumstances, these wants won't materialize.
So as much as we love Doc, we have to let him make his jump to another plantation that can utilize his services and accommodate his wishes. The days of watching one person put on one team's uniform are looooong gone.
But in Doc's case, I'm wishing and hoping.