Chilling at the Surfside Beach Half Marathon

It was a rise and shine super early kind of day Saturday for a 13 mile run on the beach in Surfside, Texas.

Sunrise at Surfside – Totally worth the early drive down

I have run Surfside numerous times, including marathons, half marathons and even a 10K. Surfside is one of those races where the weather can be anything.

My first Surfside race (a marathon in 2007) the temperature was near freezing and an ill wind of over 20 mph tortured runners. Years later in 2012, myself and my fellow marathoners ran in a literal monsoon. Not a figurative monsoon mind you, but a literal monsoon that delayed the start of the half marathon for several hours.

From 2007: First race at Surfside – Mother fonkin cold!

But this Saturday brought mild temperatures (low 40’s) and an easy ocean breeze to the start line. Certainly a good day for a run on the beach.

Truth be told, there were a few things weighing on my mind prior to the start. Thursday and Friday were “bad” nights so I was tired. My left hip has been acting up recently and my half training started later than I would have hoped due to a stress fracture. That said, this was a day to put the mental and the physical issues in the back pocket and enjoy the sand and the surf.

And that I did. The race went mostly as expected. The easy breeze turned into a stiff wind just in time for the six and a half mile northeast leg, however it is like this virtually every year, so not a surprise. My hip really tightened up during this part of the race as well; however neither the wind nor my hip was much of a bother. I was too busy enjoying the crashing waves and the views of seabirds skimming above the surf in search of fish and other delicacies.

This Year’s Medal!

Mile Nine is always a joy (and in some years, a relief) as that is the turnaround and you have the wind at your back for the final four miles. I learned early on running Surfside that it is best to relax and not fight the wind as it usually pays dividends later on. Unfortunately, some of my running brethren focus too much on pace as they fight the wind and suffer the consequences; if being passed by Jamoosh is a consequence!

At the Mile Nine turnaround my pace was sitting at 9:47. Slower than anticipated, but nothing to be concerned about as the wind would be at my back. Sure enough, I took 23 seconds off my overall pace. What that means is my average pace over the last four miles was well over a minute faster than my pace for the first nine miles. Not too shabby.

Additionally, my goal, my hope, my expectation for this race was 2:05:00 and as you can see above, I did myself well.

That finishing time is my second fastest Surfside Half Marathon and faster than any of my half marathons last year. Definitely not a bad day for a run on the beach!

I Yam What I Yam

Truth

In 2006, with the permission (of course) of my then wife Jaclyn, I purchased my first MINI Cooper. I cannot tell you how long I had wanted a MINI Cooper, but admittedly it is a car that inherently felt like and still feels like, well – me.

My original MINI Cooper – Code name: The Wombat (circa 2006)

I have owned a few Coopers over the years and although I am not a “car guy” I absolutely love the Cooper (2-Door).

Fast forward to 2018 and my Cooper turned into a Toyota Tacoma. The things we do for love… Without getting into details, I wanted to show I was ready to accept certain responsibilities and was all in on helping out.

Unfortunately, as several of you know, my attempt at showing someone I was committed did not work out too well and left me feeling pretty shitty.

Next thing you know, I am talking to a therapist.

Like most people, I never thought I would be the one seeing a therapist; much less needing one… But I have to say it has not sucked. The thing I like most about my therapist is that he never tells me what to do, but instead helps me find my way.

As humans, we are not perfect, and I certainly embody that. However, even though we are not perfect, self-awareness of our imperfections goes a long way and helps us understand who we are in the most naked sense.

For example, I am a dork. I accept this and know that from time to time I will say or do something random that is absolutely stupid.

A screenshot of a cell phone

Description automatically generated
How ’bout cheesecake? Mmm, Cheesecake…

I also know I am not really a truck guy. Maybe one day, if I retire and have a small farm, I will be a truck guy. But today is not that day. However, I am the owner of a truck and as mentioned above, I purchased the truck in an attempt to show my commitment to someone else and that did not work out. Sure, I could have gotten an SUV, but I felt the truck would give me more utility. And it did. But, the person moved on and I no longer need the utility, so…

Say hello to VuduCat!

Yes, yes; take a few long seconds and bathe yourself in the beauty of this most awesome MINI. Please contain your excitement for me although feel free to offer to buy me a beer. A good beer that is.

OK, one more peek!

To be sure this is a small thing (get it – MINI/small thing… never mind), but it helps me reclaim something about who I am. My therapist is going to be proud!

VuduCat!

Forts

Remember this from your childhood?

Weren’t forts awesome?

In my family, the building of indoor forts was reserved for rainy days. This was before we got the “nice” couch – you know the “nice” couch; the one nobody is allowed to sit on unless company is over and even then it is an adults only affair…

But early on, we had a cheap couch along with our other cheap furniture, so when the rain fell hard and being sent outside was not an option, forts were on the agenda and everything was game. I am going to say my sisters and I made some pretty spectacular forts only because I do not have pictures to back it up.

A fort building machine and damn cute too!

Unfortunately, at some point a “new” couch came into our lives and that was the end of the fort building. Except, we were living in Southern California at the time and there was an entire patio at our disposal along with a plethora of great weather days (and nights). The picnic table and benches soon became beams and load-bearing walls. My sisters and I discovered that piles of discarded materials from the homes under construction behind us were the perfect places to go rummaging around for fort making supplies.

Enough supplies in fact, that we were not only were we making forts, we were making our own personal forts!

The best fort I ever (helped) build was in the company of my Uncle Mike. My Uncle Mike was the sixth and final child of my Grandpa and Grandma Dunston and is only a few years old than I am.

I used to spend summers on my Grandparents farm in Oregon and at some point a guy would show up with bales upon bales of hay which my Uncle Mike and I would be tasked with stacking in the barn.

Hay there…

One year, we didn’t just stack the hay, we did it in such a manner that we ended up with a hay fort. All credit has to go to my uncle. He told me where and how to stack each bale. When we finished the task at hand, there was a small entrance and tunnels you could climb through and up, ending at the top of the haystack, which was surrounded by walls of hay.

That become my (and our) secret spot the rest of the time I was there.

Forts are great for kids because whether they are in the house or in the backyard, it is a moment for a kid to have their own place and be on their own, even if they are just a few feet from mom and dad.

Parents, let your kids build forts. And buy a couch everyone can sit on at any time while you are at it!

Listening to: Victim of Love – Charles Bradley

Love Stinks – But My Running is Better

I’ve had the blues, the reds, and the pinks; one for sure, love stinks! – The J. Geils Band

Hey now. Let’s see if we can’t get this thing started (again). I want to promise – I really do – that I am going to keep it going and be consistent, but… Heavy sigh.

My girlfriend (now ex-girlfriend) found a better option and I am 20 pounds lighter. Maybe love does not stink so much after all.

Go forward; move ahead; try to detect it; it’s not too late.

That’s a Devo reference for the younger peeps out there.

One noticeable effect of losing weight is my running has been much better since I started up again at the beginning of November. Better to the point that when I did the 4-Mile Pearland Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day I was pleasantly surprised.

I was hoping to meet or beat 36 minutes and I was secretly hoping I could manage to get closer to 35 minutes. Imagine my surprise when I clocked a 32:50. Wow! Go me. Apparently I was 3rd in my age group as well. Podium finish! Double go me. I certainly earned that turkey dinner later in the day.

Weight can influence how fast or slow you run in a couple of ways. First, your body weight. For those who are over-weight, each pound of weight loss can shave anywhere between 1.8 and 2.4 seconds off your pace depending upon which studies you read. Second, the weight of your shoes will also impact your pace.

While actual weight is important; where that weight resides is also important. “Even if you aren’t into the physics of all this, you might find it interesting that losing weight from your body is only about thirty percent as effective as losing weight from your shoes. Apparently extra shoe weight requires much more energy to heave forward each and every time you take a stride. In comparison, your muffin-top basically gets to go along for the ride. ” (Brock Armstrong – Can Losing Weight Make You Run Faster? 11/17)

The more you know!

Additionally on the running front, since I relocated to The Woodlands, I opted to join The Woodlands Running Club.

Many of these folks not only look fast – they are fast!

It is a great group of people and there is some great running up here. It’s a win-win since I have been told to get out more and be more social.

Listening to: Everywhere At Once – The Plimsouls

It Is The Shoes

Random note, my Wu-Tang Clan name is Mighty Demon. Word to my brothers and sisters…

mars_blackmon___spike_lee_by_cassodinero

One of the things that makes me cringe on the inside is when a runner states, “I can only run in <insert shoe name and model here>.”

I know running shoes are a personal thing and it is so much easier to find a shoe that works and keep buying it.

But the problem is running shoe designers keep changing/tweaking each and every model of shoe they produce each and every season. So the shoe you loved last year is not the same shoe you are buying this year.

If you do not think that matters; think again. Now really think again.

-new-balance-me402-

I will always maintain the best running lessons you can learn are those you learn about yourself. Understanding what works and what doesn’t; knowing what is good and what is bad; and determining what is best for you often requires experimentation and some failures along the way.

And believe it or not, the subtle changes of our shoes (and our bodies) can turn from a positive to a negative over time if we fail to notice.

For example, I have run in Newton shoes over the past seven plus years. I first fell in love with the Newtons (specifically the Distance and then the Gravity) because they did help my gait and I was faster to boot.

Most every other shoe I tried during my Newtonian period did not have the energy return of the Newtons, which is disappointing because who really wants to run slower when they are already slow? No need to raise your hand.

Enter my massage therapist. She has been working my body after long runs and races for over a decade. So it was surprising when she noted during one session that my feet wanted to supinate.

Of course, immediately after my massage I fired up the internet machine and became an expert (random note, I am not an expert)… Sadly, running shoe companies do not make shoes for those who supinate. I consulted my local running store expert and he gave me the story why and much like the internet machine recommended a neutral shoe.

NWT140_1000_1Both the Newton Gravity and Distance are neutral shoes. But the changes to both the Newton Distance and Gravity, along with the changes to my body, created a mismatch where there was originally a match.

So the question became which neutral shoe.

This is why it is a good idea to visit your local running store (for me, Wild Pear Running). They have expertise and they want to keep your business, so they are going to try and find what is best for you. After testing several shoes, I gave the Altra Torin a run for their money.

I was pleasantly amazed. I do not know if it is the zero drop or the generous toe box or both, but suddenly there was no hip or calf pain. That said, the Torin features a bit too much cushion for my liking and compared to the Newtons, the energy return lacks. Hence, using my running stores 30 day return policy I checked out a pair of  the Altra Escalante.

altra

Winner, winner, chicken dinner. Shoes do matter. No more getting out of bed and waddling to the bathroom in the morning; no more persistent hip pain; I feel good during the run and after the run. I am a tad slower in these shoes, but at my age (56) it is a trade off I am happy with.

This is not meant to be a shoe review. It is meant as a reminder that what you put on your feet affects the rest of your body. So, if your favorite shoe does not seem to be as favorite as you remember, perhaps a trip to your local running store is in order.

 

Those Gosh Darned Eagles

This week, the RIAA announced The Eagles: Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 has overtaken Michael Jackson’s Thriller as the number one selling album of all time. Both albums have bobbed and weaved between the number one and number two slots for several decades. There was enough of a bump after Michael Jackson’s death to push Thriller to the number one spot, where it remained until this week.

https://i0.wp.com/assets.rollingstone.com/assets/2016/media/225017/_original/1453312278/1035x1035-117182610.jpg  See the source image

But the big news isn’t really that Greatest Hits overtook Thriller. The trending news is apparently millennial writers hate the Eagles. Writers at online sites such Jezebel and The AV Club have lamented this development. According to Maria Sherman, “You have every right to be outraged, and I have every right to blame the shift on your Dockers-donning dad.”

Never mind that Sherman has no clue what tracks are on Greatest Hits, but does apparently know those tracks are “baby boomer easy-listening shit.” I also suspect she doesn’t know what tracks are on Thriller either (other than “Thriller”). That’s not the point. The point is that dads (loosely translated as white dudes over 40) should not be buying music.

Which is pretty much a what the fuck moment filled with irony. Apparently, because me and my ilk have had the audacity to pay for the music we consume for the last millennia we are bad people. My generation (and the ones before me) supports and supported artists and musicians we enjoy by actually buying their product versus the millennial approach of streaming half a Drake song and moving on to the next thing, whatever that may be (nearly 50% of Spotify users will skip a song before it ends).

See the source image

Many people hate the Eagles. Many people love the Eagles. Same with Michael Jackson. But millennials should not get their panties in a wad because old people buy music and they don’t; not to mention we are talking about two albums released long before they were born.

By the way, I own both The Eagles: Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 and Thriller.

 

 

Hack This!

What the funk?


hack

[hak]

VERB

  1. cut with rough or heavy blows:

    “hack off the dead branches” ·

    synonyms: cut · chop · hew · lop · saw · slash

     

  2. use a computer to gain unauthorized access to data in a system:

    “they hacked into a bank’s computer”

     

  3. informal

    (hack it)

    manage; cope:

    “lots of people leave because they can’t hack it”

    synonyms: cope · manage · get on/by · carry on · come through


25 Bathroom Hacks You’ll Want to Share With Everyone

Use shampoo bottles to keep the shower curtain in place – seriously. People have been doing this since there were shower curtains and shampoo bottles

50 Time-Saving Kitchen Hacks The World Needs To Know

You can use a cheese grater to grate other things – who knew!

Can someone explain to me why everything nowadays is a hack? How has this previously oft-used word invaded internet headlines and given people the impression if they are not hacking their way through life, they are not doing it right?

The way they are presented, hacks are new information to make everything easier, yet it turns out most hacks are the following:

  • A previously forgotten old-school, but efficient, method of doing something
  • A simple do it yourself recipe (for example making your own glass cleaner) that has been around for eons
  • A recent discovery that is getting more play than it should

Apparently this new generation eats this stuff up although you would be hard-pressed to find a millennial cooking in the kitchen or cleaning a bathroom because cooking and cleaning are serious drags on their social media time.

Hacking is becoming so prevalent that companies, organizations and even cities are hosting hackathons or in layman’s terms, an opportunity for you to submit an idea.

Here’s an idea, let’s call it what it is:

  • A new innovation
  • A revived innovation

Perhaps the word innovation isn’t cool enough.

Surfside Race Report

surfsideI am a conservative runner by nature, but after a few beers and some peer pressure, some things can seem like a good idea. And so it was that I agreed to do the Surfside Half Marathon (02.04.2017) with a few running friends; although they would be well ahead of me.

Of note, my friend Jon finished third in his age group and Lynette (Jon’s wife) took home second in her age group. I finished in my age group, so that was an accomplishment as far as I am concerned.

In mid-January, when I agreed to this nonsense I had three weeks to get ready with a long run of six miles (back in November) under my belt. My plan: a five mile long run the first weekend, an eight mile long run the next weekend and hope that was enough.

Apparently, it was enough. But…

The Wind in My Face

The one thing about running at Surfside is the weather is different every year. Freezing temperatures; gusty winds; severe thunderstorms; crazy fog; you can even combine some of those elements and come up with a weather forecast for Surfside. This year, it was (I guess) thankfully just wind. But what a wind it was. Constant at 25 miles an hour, I could barely hear the surf during my 6.5 mile trek into breach.

The Surfside Half begins with a 2.5 mile jaunt to the southwest before turning around and facing the wind for a full 6.5 miles. I have run the Surfside Marathon multiple times and I certainly did not envy the marathoners on this day. The temperature was not bad, but the wind was relentless.

The strategy at Surfside is predicated by the condition of the beach. Although there is plenty of hard-packed sand to run on and very little camber, vehicular traffic and nature can impact the condition of the beach.

This year, I opted to run along the shoreline and it worked out very well. My feet were soaked several times, but is was more exhilarating than anything. While sea water was not necessarily a concern, the wind was.

506756E5-1264-4F9D-90FB-901973D3C364The best one can do is relax and not fight the wind. Many folks likely pushed too hard into the wind and it would come back to haunt them. For my part, I did not worry about my splits on the way out, especially during a race I was not exactly prepared for.

At mile 9 I registered an 11:06; my longest mile of the day and the last mile before I turned around. Turning around was glorious; I improved by nearly two minutes, registering a 9:15 for mile 10.

Each successive mile was exponentially faster than the previous as I tore through the sand so I have that to hang my hat on.

Finishing time was 2:13:24, which is not too bad as I expected to be somewhere between 2:10 and 2:15. 8/18 in my age group and 22 out of 81 Masters Runners.

Final Wrap

I am not sure what to think of this race. I was not exactly prepared, but I didn’t have a bad race. Could I have run it faster with proper training? Indeed. Also, I don’t run races for the medals and at the moment I have no goals to speak of. So…

To be honest, I am glad I did the race. I have always enjoyed running at Surfside, even when the inclement weather produces additional challenges. Plus running on the hard-packed sand is easy on these old bones.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Race Report: Pearland Turkey Trot

turkeytrot

The Details

Event: Pearland Turkey Trot 6 Mile Run

Weather Conditions: 57 degrees / 87% humidity / clear skies

Goal: Maintain form throughout

Chip Time: 53:40

Place: 5/12 Age Group – 89/290 Overall

Let’s Get This Party Started

This was the first year of the Pearland Turkey Trot and it was evident by the delayed start to the 6 mile run as the cones were still being set up on the course. I assume the 4 mile, which was slated to start 20 minutes after the 6 mile run started on time as many of us 6 milers caught up to the slower runners at the back of the 4 mile pack.

The One Runner  I Vowed to Finish in Front Of

I try not to judge (at least externally!), but sometimes people just bring it on themselves. For instance one runner was wearing a long-sleeved shirt with the name of a race on the sleeves. Not such a big deal and I get that even though the temperature was in the upper 50’s, for some, that is long=sleeved weather. But…

Over that, a short-sleeved marathon finishers shirt. Around his neck, a Tough Mudder headband. And to top it off, he wore a hat with the name of yet another race. I guess he could not find any socks with a race name on them.

I am not sure whether that made him a Clinton supporter or a Trump supporter, but I am sorry, either way, he must go down.

Easy Does It

This was the first race I ran since I seriously focused on changing my form and rather than get caught up in the obvious excitement of a great running day, I wanted to focus on keeping it easy and staying in form.

It wasn’t hard to keep things easy the first mile as within a quarter mile the course narrowed from two lanes to a single lane and apparently several of the 4-mile walkers decided to start with the six mile runners.

Miles two and three were virtually identical and I felt good. A beautiful morning; I was out with fellow runners; and my form was good.

Perhaps I can kick it up notch and during mile four I did just that.

I Feel Good

I have been doing some sub-nine miles during my runs here and there and mile four’s 9:01 pace left me feeling I could do better. My form was still good and I felt even better, so why not push it a little more. I turned in an 8:31 at mile five and was still feeling great so why not go for it for the final mile.

Surprise

The downside of mile six was having to weave through the back of the pack four mile runners and the one mile walkers. The upside was I felt stronger than I have before.

This was not just my first race since my July accident, but my longest run since then as well.

Turns out it was also my fastest mile (7:22) in a very long time according to my Garmin.

I’ll take that.

Overall

It was a great run. I absolutely enjoyed myself and will have to sign up for more. I was probably a bit too conservative at the beginning, but as I gained more confidence in being able to maintain proper form, I obviously picked up the pace.

Outside of the cone delay, the organizers did a great job and we also had plenty of police presence, so hats off to all of our men and women behind the badge.

Splits:

  1. 10:04
  2. 9:22
  3. 9:22
  4. 9:01
  5. 8:31
  6. 7:22

 

 

 

 

Sigh – Beer is Getting Less Fun

Over the last few years, Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev or the Beer Leviathan) has ramped up their purchases of not just craft breweries, but other industries (suppliers for example), to put an almost monopolistic strangle-hold on the beer industry.

Nowhere is this more evident than the craft beer segment where the Beer Leviathan has attempted to stem the growth of craft breweries, if not crush them altogether. AB InBev has poured cash into local and state lobbies in an attempt to put archaic laws on the books; has created (often illegal) programs that reward sellers for moving Budweiser over other brands; and has tried to purchase or cajole distributors to sell only their product.

When these efforts continued to fail, the Leviathan opted to “join the revolution” by purchasing craft breweries and creating a company (The High End) to manage them. Sadly, the Leviathan continues its shady (again, often illegal) practices of rewarding (or threatening) sellers, but with the twist of pushing AB InBev’s recently acquired craft brands along with the Budweiser staples.

And by the way, if you think the Leviathan only wants to consume the United States, the European Union and India heartily disagree.

voltron-002

When these purchases started, I had a pure craft dedication and welcomed the opportunity to boycott any AB InBev owned product. But for a moment I reconsidered. As long as the quality remained the same, why not enjoy some craft brews I had been consuming for years. Hey, these guys worked hard, made it, and decided to cash in; isn’t that the American Way?

But, as more craft breweries fell to the Leviathan, I started to have a change of heart and began wavering. And then two recent purchases put me back where I started; I do not want to have anything to do with any brand related to AB InBev.

In October, it was confirmed the Leviathan purchased Northern Brewer, considered to be the largest supplier of home brewing equipment and ingredients in the United States. And just this week, AB InBev purchased Karbach Brewing here in Houston.

karbach-weekend-warrior-pale-ale-label

Sorry Karbach, your Weekend Warrior is sure tasty, but it will no longer grace the shelves of my refrigerator.

I know, I am like that guy who loves a band and incessantly tells all his friends about how they are missing out by not listening to them. But when the band makes it big decides he now hates the band he followed as they struggled to find their sound and their place. I appear to be such a hypocrite. Or am I…

Because the record company came along, watered down their sound, auto-tuned the shit out them and brought in a stylist to make them look edgy but safe. All in an effort to make them appeal to a bunch of teenagers who will grow up to eventually hate them.

What is worse is those guys made it big and became assholes.

I am not surprised Karbach sold out; they were built to be sold. Further, I am not surprised Karbach rolled out essentially the same response as every other brewery that has succumbed to the Leviathan; it’s not about the money – it’s about the resources and opportunity. Please, it’s always about the money.

I do not begrudge a brewery for selling out; it is their prerogative and being flush with cash is always a good thing. But sadly, it is getting to the point that no matter where you turn, the Leviathan is there in some form trying to dictate what you drink for their profitability. And they will do anything to ensure the only choice you have is their brand(s).

I realize that some day I will not have a choice, but as long as I do…