It’s All In The Socks

I got an L.A. Marathon merchandising email in my inbox today. They’ve finally stopped offering me ultra-discounted crap from the last marathon four months ago and they’re finally focusing on next year:

marathon.jpg

Time for me to do the same.

My marathon history in a nutshell — no, let me go even one better: bullet points! Little opportunity for digressional tangentalization for which my nutshells are known:

  • 1994 – Marathon
  • 1995 – Bike Tour
  • 1996 – Bike Tour
  • 1997 – Bike Tour
  • 1998 – Bike Tour
  • 1999 – Bike Tour
  • 2000 – Bike Tour
  • 2001 – Bike Tour
  • 2002 – Bike Tour
  • 2003 – Bike Tour & Marathon
  • 2004 – Bike Tour
  • 2005 – Bike Tour & Marathon
  • 2006 – Bike Tour

In 2003 my very good friend and Candy Goddess Cybele decided she was going to walk the marathon. After doing what I had expected would be my first and last back in 1994, I found myself deciding to join her. We engaged in some training and felt confident we could cross the finish line in anywhere between 6 to 6.5 hours. On the big day I got up early cruised through the 21-mile bike tour, met Cybele up near the marathon startline after putting on a bad pair of socks for walking 26.2 miles in and by the time I dragged out our finish time to just under eight hours (Cybele could’ve finished it in 6:30 easy had she not had to hang back with my limping/cringing self) I was in blistered agony and swearing never again.

That didn’t last long and I signed up to get my six-hour revenge with the 2004 edition not long after my senses deserted me. Cybele was eager to do so as well, but injuries along the way ended up keeping her from training and forced her to bow out. Me? I wound up doing no training either, but had no injuries I could blame it on. To top it off about a week before I got a head and chest cold, but still hadn’t made up my mind not to walk it until that morning after wheezing and sniffling through the bike tour. Only on my way up from that finish line near USC back to my truck parked downtown with temps already in the 80s and threatening to go much hire did common sense whallop me upside the head and send me home. See ya next year, marathon.
2005 was the same as 2004 in that I didn’t train a lick. The positives when marathon time landed was that I hadn’t been hit by any colds or flus, and the temps were much more seasonably cool. So I did the bike tour and then walked the marathon solo. The majormajormajor negative was that for the 2003 marathon I weighed in the neighborhood of 235. This time around I was up to 260.

And once again, I put on a crappy pair of socks to walk 26.2 miles in. On top of that I freakin’ live-blogged my slow descent into hell, posting audio and phonecam pix made and taken along the route. Even better, without Cybele to give me a “whoa idiot!” I got caught up in the energy and actually jogged the first mile. Stooopid.
The only good news to report was that I came in four minutes faster than my 2003 time. So instead of it taking me a full eternity of agony (aka 7 hours and 47 minutes), I shaved 240 seconds off the pain. Small victory.

I was wiser this year. From the get-go I had no delusions of walking the marathon. I signed up only for the bike tour and stuck to it. Sure I wavered when I went to the convention center to pick up my bike tour bib; I was a few months into my diet and beginning to shed some pounds so the little devil on my shoulder said “Oh but you can soooo do this!” But I didn’t listen. And this time I met a few cycling pals and for the first time in all the bike tours I’ve done I biked all the way from home to the bike tour and back. When I got home I watched the marathon on TV. Didn’t miss it a bit.
It wasn’t long thereafter that I found the registration for the 2007 events open and of course I signed up for both the bike tour and the marathon. But I’m not in it this time for the six-hour finish. Hell no. Now that I’m presently down to 208 pounds and expect to be at my final goal of 195 by the beginning of November, this time I’m going in for some longer-term steady training so that I’ll be trotting across the finish line aiming for a finish somewhere between 4 and 4.5 hours.

That’s right, I’m talking about averaging 10-minute miles from the first one to the last, but don’t shake your head like you’re just now realizing I’m crazy. I’ve been a loon all my life. But with six months of regular and consistent output beginning in September — and some really good socks — it’s totally doable. I’ll show you.

Sha-wing Baby!

So I didn’t dive deep into the motivational pool and accomplish any of the gardening tasks I had considered doing today. Hell, I didn’t even register any hammock time as planned. But I did haul the old and long-neglected golf clubs out and over to the triple-tiered Majestic Golfland driving range on Melrose just west of Vermont to hit 110 balls — the first I’d whacked at in well over a year.

The bad news: I have the most jerky and abreviated old-man backswing of all time. The good news: I actually managed to hit more decent ones than I’d expected after such a long lay-off.

Of course I took pictures:

swing2.jpg
[large version here]

I even snagged some video.

Manifestation Of Loss

I found it interesting to realize that the amount of weight I’ve lost since beginning my diet in January now corresponds to a filled one of these five-gallon jobbers…

wb.jpg

…which translates to 43 pounds. Having once been employed to carry these where ever they needed to go, it’s a weight with which I’m definitely familiar. But the thought of no longer physically carrying that amount is something I haven’t been able to wrap my head around, in part because despite being able to dimensionally quantify it via the way my clothes fit (or no longer do) I haven’t been able to really recognize the reduction physically — until last night on the tennis court.

One of the reasons I backed away from tennis about a year ago is that regardless of how decent a player I was, my age and weight were co-conspirators against me taking it to the next level. No doubt I won more than my share of matches, but the simple fact was that I was older and fatter and thus not as quicknimble and that was demonstrated to me every time I ended up a discouraging step or two late getting to a passing shot that my younger and more fit self had previously been able to do.

Not that I was ever at all fast, but one of the beauties of tennis is that the relatively tight dimensions of its playing area offer bigger guys like me the illusion of zoom. Clock me running a 100-meter dash and I’d bet it would take me at least 13 or 14 thick-ankled and flat-footed seconds. But dang if back in the day I couldn’t deliver a burst that would move me from one side of a tennis court to the other and get stuff, much to many an opponent’s surprise.

Well, it looks like those days might be back or at least on their way. Last night after the drill session at the rooftop downtown YMCA courts during a pick-up doubles game with others from the class, I was firmly ensconced on the baseline to the left with my partner covering the center up at the net. In the middle of the point the ball comes crosscourt past my partner to the deep right. Instinctually I break for it only to surprise myself not only in getting to it so quickly but in then sending it back with a nice backhand low and down the line that the guy on the other side can’t handle. Point ours. Compliments follow.

It’s amazing what can be done without a five-gallon water bottle on your back. And waist. And thighs.

On This The Day After: Super Bowl XL

It’s the rare Super Bowl that never fails to disappoint, and yesterday’s was not one of them. Though I’ve been a life-long fan of the Steelers, I aligned with the Seahawks for two reasons: 1) with everything I read and heard Seattle apparently had no chance to win and 2) Shaun Alexander, one of the best runningbacks to come from ‘Bama, my favorite college football team.

After realizing the horrible idea of having Aaron Neville sing the Star Spangled Banner with Aretha, things started off well enough. We had nachos in full effect and I’d mastered the proper mixology of ice, tequila and margarita mix for some perfectly blended maggies. Seattle was moving the ball nicely from the get-go, whereas Pittsburgh couldn’t even register a first down until midway through the second quarter. And the commercials were all right. In particular I enjoed the Bud Light spots, but my all-time fave of the day had to be the Fedex cavemen.

I knew Seattle was doomed, however, when their first touchdown was negated by an egregiously bad call of offensive passing interference and they had to settle for a field goal. Then their fieldgoal kicker missed two long tries that had the distance but not the right direction. Somehow Pittsburgh managed a touchdown, but what shoulda/woulda/coulda been a 13-7 Seattle lead was instead a snooozy score of 7-3 in Pittsburgh’s favor and the two teams abandoned the field at halftime for a short perfunctory set by the Rolling Stones.

Any remaining hope for Seattle was lost when on the Steelers first possession at the start of the second half their runningback busted through a glorious hole in the line and sprinted 75 yards to the endzone, breaking Raider Marcus Allen’s previous 74-yard Super Bowl record set back in 1984. Seattle never quit, but couldn’t manage more than another touchdown, which the Steelers matched. Final score 21-10.
I thought it bad form of the winning coach Bill Cowers to start his celebration with 3:20 left on the clock, but once the final seconds ticked off, I wasn’t at all upset. Seattle may have earned the right to be there with their super 13-3 season behind QB Matt Hasselbeck and league MVP Alexander, but the Steelers at 7-5 had to fight tooth and claw just to get into the playoffs and then did the unthinkable: won three playoff games on the road to end up there in Detroit. Congrats to them, they deserved it.

Just A Thought Before I Go (To Bed)

I was surprisingly indifferent — even siding with the underdogs throughout most of it. But wow what an awesome game. I’ve seen a lot of football but I’ve never seen such a clutch performance in such a clutch game as Texas Quarterback Vince Young’s at the Rose Bowl leading the Longhorns to a 41-38 come from behind victory against USC tonight — a win that not only broke the Trojans 34-game win streak, but also dashed their hopes of an unprecedented third-straight national title.

Young didn’t just complete 30 out of 40 passes. He also rushed for 200 yards. And he led them all the way back from a 12-point deficit with six minutes left in the fourth quarter, with his go-ahead TD enabled not only by his poise and spectacular athleticism (word to an incredible offensive line), but also by USC coach Pete Carroll’s gutsy yet ultimately unsuccessful call to go for it on fourth down and one yard near midfield. Personally, I would have punted and made Texas drive 80 yards instead of 50, but that’s why he’s a phenomenally successful head coach and I’m just a stuggling hack.

In the pregame hoopla I heard someone comment “First one to 40 points wins.” Spot on, whoever you were. Spot on.

And my bet for tomorrow’s sports page headline? In-Vince-Able!

‘Bama Wins Cotton Bowl!

Aw yeah! My underdog Crimson Tide beat Texas Tech 13-10 in the last second of Cotton Bowl regulation with the strangest looking field goal I’ve ever seen kicked through the uprights.

And as a bonus, in the Capital One bowl Alabama archrival Auburn gets its top 10-ranked asses kicked by the badgers of Wisonsin, 24-10. Love it!