Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A response to a non-response

About a year ago I was trying to get rep for a spec pilot I wrote. Queries went out and in them I called the script "funny as shit." One agent said he would read it on the condition that it was, indeed, funny as shit. I told him that it was, but to be safe he should eat it with an all you can eat buffet of Indian food. I sent him the script and didn't hear from him for months, which speaks volumes, of course. So I sent him the below email. I just found it now while searching my email box for "pants shitting," which I wont endeavor to explain, and thought it warranted a post for posterity.

"My assistant told me this morning you never invoiced us to have your trousers dry cleaned. You must have an iron stomach as you're the first. Though we did originally suspect my grandfather was just blaming my script because it's what he was holding. This confirms it.

Thank you for your consideration!

Gregory Boytos

P.S. I don't have an assistant. Or a grandfather. They're both dead. Probably."

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Pilot Breakdown (overheard) round 3: NBC

It’s pilot season, which means for the next couple/few weeks everyone is going to be wondering what’s going to be new on their televisions this fall. Not being an “insider,” I usually am in the same boat, but I had the good fortune to be sat next to a couple of real Hollywood types at this great lunch place that doesn’t have a name but they seat you on long benches like you’re in Europe, but they treat you like shit like you’re in prison and then they charge you like hell because you’re in Beverly Hills (adjacent). I got to overhear their conversation, which was literally just a list of all the shows at all the networks. Between bites I took notes on a napkin. These are those notes and my reactions.

Sixteen Hundred Pens – this is where I lose a bet with my college televisualism professor. 7 years ago, he said that Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes was tailor made for television. I yelled BULLSHIT and got kicked out of the library. After he finished his research, while he was driving me home (he was my ride), we made a bet. I lost. If eating 7 years of toenail clippings will kill a healthy(ish) adult male, then it was nice knowing you all and thank you for reading this. Also, THAT’S A LOT OF PENS!

Fanciful King Dumb – this was the most alarming of any pilot I’d heard of. Honestly in 2012 I thought we would be beyond deriving humor from the mere fact that a man is a homosexual monarch on the autism spectrum. I’m wagging my finger at you NBC. Shame on you.
Down in Chernobyl – ok, so a bunch of strangers on a plane crash in some faraway place in the pilot episode? Then what? Sounds like it’s going nowhere to me.

Fry the Bright Sinner – maybe the first contestant on this show should be the writer of Fanciful King Dumb, because that’s a goddamn sin if I ever heard one! I’m really interested in this show, though because there’s too many people working against the lord and no television shows kill any of them. this isn’t niche programming, this is the broadest appeal ever. And it takes god’s mind off of the bright sinners to free him up to smite all the non-believers and other minorities.

Fry Hay Mike Winter! – I see this as a blue collar take on “john tucker must die” mixed with “10 things I hate about you,” which I could see as appealing but tough to sustain without a doubt unless there is some sort of deal with the devil type situation where the main character has to be ridiculously unlikable to people to force them to get so angry that they tell him (mike winter) to go fry hay, which is a real big insult in texas. I guess it could work as a game show, too but I don’t think NBC is really looking for any game shows, they know that reality TV is worthless and never benefits anyone. Either way, I’m going to skip it, because it’s too close to “deep fried movie” and wont be anywhere near as funny.

Pies with Lids – first of all, genius. This show markets itself (and it’s gonna have to because there is literally NO platform on the network or coming in the next 3-4 months from which to launch anything at all). But a food improvement show like the shark tank where virile young food inventors pitch their improvements to established food executives and lunchrepreneurs (I just made that word up. What I did was combine: lunch and entrepreneur), is bound to at least make people hungry, which is when NBC reveals that it’s been purchased by con-agra and now they’re making and selling food! Some might say that a tv network being owned by a food conglomerate is a conflict of interest, but that is a phrase for poor people and weak stomachs. Tell me what I want to eat with your programming and commercials and then sell it to me, I’m tired of this charade!

Nappy Sally – just because 30 rock did a sketch with john hamm in blackface does not mean that we can start making fun of minorities again. Sorry NBC. Though, I really do think a black ugly betty would rake up ratings in the middle of America, some of the rest of the country with their fancy political correctness and smart lawyers might ruin the fun for the rest of us good ole patriots.

Is a bell? – I’ve never even imagined what an existential television program would look like, how it would form, if it would occupy a time slot or have commercial breaks or even have pictures. This is that program. I think. Though it could be dead air for the entire season with the finale being a bell ringing in an asking tone like “ding?” I might have to watch, but what is watching?

Fetch Baller Please – ah, the bachelor killer that networks have been wanting for 22 cycles. Here’s the twist: well to do woman sends her ASSISTANT to go out into the city and fetch her a baller. So you’re not competing for the assistant, but the assistant’s boss, so you don’t really get to know what the prize is, except that it can afford an assistant which is pretty sweet and honestly is probably is the least crazy thing about anyone who would go on dating shows like this. also, because of the use of the word “baller” it’ll probably be “urban” which may encroach a little bit on the whole let’s not be racist thing, but it’s much less obvious and may actually slip by most untrained and unprofessional viewers.

Bic and Ben – a story about a man who can see his razor is actually a person and even though he’s the only one that knows this truth it actually teaches him how to be a better person and reveals certain previously inaccessible truths about the world? Hm. Actually really original. Never seen anything like it, ever. I’d change the name though. Bic and Ben doesn’t roll off the tongue like “Ben and Gillette.”

Snoozing free for teens – this is a bad idea. Trust me. First you are trying to be the cool neighbor and let the high school kids hang out and crash sometimes so they don’t drive drunk because that’s the right thing to do, but sooner or later the parole board gets involved and they’re fucking rude and insist on watching you pee in the cup once a week. It. happened to my friend. Not me. I never made and posted that sign in my front yard.

Stable for Dreams – Horses don’t get enough play since Mr. Ed got cancelled. I mean sure the Kentucky Derby was on NBC this year, but it didn’t do well enough to spawn a whole series on the breed, did it? I just worry about who they cast for Dreams. I doubt they’ll have the command of the English language that Mr. Ed did and believe me, the comparison is inevitable and if they had a horse that stood up already, there would be a show about him already. Nuff said.

Now onto NBC’s Drama

Fat Pearl – I don’t get how this isn’t a comedy instead of Nappy Sally. Nappy Sally is racist. Fat people don’t have feelings because they squash them all with poor diet and exercise choices so we can make fun of them all we want, right? You don’t have to answer it, I own a TV and know a little bit about hate speech, being 1/64th jewish American. Thanks to missing the target on the genre, I will refuse this show outright. It just can’t be good and I’m not sorry.

Snooty Cool Steeple – A hipster adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I don’t think the world is ready for someone judging others with such gems as “I was differently abled back when it was ‘handicapped’!”

Mounty – I’m in. A cop show about the Royal Canadian Mounted Police? What could be better than polite Canadians trying to assert authority over other polite Canadians. “oh, I think you might have been speeding, eh?” “who me? I surely didn’t mean to speed, I’m so sorry.” “oh no, I’m the one who is sorry. I don’t like writing tickets.” “I feel awful for putting you in this position, officer, allow me to write my ticket for you” “that’d be nice of you.” “I agree.”

Moo no Farm – EMMY BAIT! Critics will love this story about a cow searching for the farm on which it was born so it could regain a relationship with its biological parents (set in feudal Germany) but ultimately realizes that the journey is more important than the destination, BUT it will be tough to find an audience.

Fun Tears – I think all tears are fun tears because crying is the funniest of all emotions. This is so much on the nose that I don’t think it leaves enough of the goal of the show to the imagination. Good TV needs to hide as many facts and realities from the viewer as possible so they will keep tuning in week to week and year to year (look at M*A*S*H* and LOST), guard those truths and lie about them as much as possible at every opportunity. That said, the show about fun tears will be more like a wheel than a roller coaster.

Slow Torrie Bus – first of all, were busses around back in whig / torrie days? I doubt it. I hate to be the logic police, but someone’s gotta do it and the mounty’s are just too nice to say anything. No. No. No. you can’t mix realities, otherwise you’ll slide down a slippery slope to shows with multiple universes, shows that happen in “real time” yet conveniently no action happens to happen during commercials and people can make 30 minute car trips in less than 5 (with no traffic). We can’t let that happen, so we must put our foot down at our first opportunity. We cannot continue to appease writers who want to break basic rules of the universe! BOYCOTT!

Midnight Pun –  it is clear that the writer just gave up on this.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Pilot Breakdown (overheard) round 2: CBS

It’s pilot season, which means for the next couple/few weeks everyone is going to be wondering what’s going to be new on their televisions this fall. Not being an “insider,” I usually am in the same boat, but I had the good fortune to be sat next to a couple of real Hollywood types at this great lunch place that doesn’t have a name but they seat you on long benches like you’re in Europe, but they treat you like shit like you’re in prison and then they charge you like hell because you’re in Beverly Hills (adjacent). I got to overhear their conversation, which was literally just a list of all the shows at all the networks. Between bites I took notes on a napkin. These are those notes and my reactions.


Friend Fee – I think ABC family already tried this show which is so clearly obviously about the fraternity sorority system. They called it GREEK and it was ok. Feels like a cable show unless you can broaden the appeal to normal people who never had the chance to get college like our fancy president.

Fart Nurse – If this is a reality show, I definitely want to be a contestant. I would like nothing more than a fart nurse as being a fart doctor is very stressful and busy and I feel like a fart nurse would be an invaluable asset to my practice.

Fupa Sun Fight – for those not in the know (I had to look up FUPA too, guys!) a fupa is a dirty word for a part of a specifically female anatomic feature on a particularly out of shape person, or one with a weird hormonal imbalance and unfortunate fashion choice so as to make their upper pussy area appear to be a little bit “fat.”


Applebottom – I’m SO glad Nelly is back. To be honest, when he founded his own line of denim and accessories I thought that was him signaling to the world that he was no longer interested in entertaining us, but clearly not. God bless you, St. Lunatics. You have a spot in my DVR any day of the week.

Baby’s Big Sloth – I don’t get the recent obsession with sloths. Kristen Bell cries one time on ellen and all of a sudden the big wigs at CBS are screaming for a show? adapting a twitter feed to a show is one thing ($#!+ my dad says) but adapting an interview into one is unprecedented and frankly, erroneous. However, if it were reimagined as “Big Sloth Babies” I would get that tattooed across my neck just for the pleasure of being able to watch sloths on television (I love sloths so much).

Filament Larry – Call me old fashioned, but shows used to be something. The brady bunch was a whole family… TWO whole families. Drag Net was a POLICE force. Now all you have to do is be a mashup of a lightbulb and a human being and CBS gives you a show? this is dumb and stupid and vacuous and will amount to nothing ever because half the time he wont be lit up and then we’ll all just be staring at our dumb tvs that will just be black and then there will be a bunch of commercials. yuck.

Window Detective – an hour a week of a man detecting windows? How hard could that be? I could do this job easily. All I would need is a straw and some baby powder and a small brush and a large brush. They could all fit inside of a tacklebox that my assistant would carry. I would also need an assistant. Preferably an ethnic male who has something to hide but nothing to fear as he did a bad thing for a good reason and when I find out what it is in 22 weeks I will forgive him because he’s already proven himself.

Stupor – I’m really upset that my fifth year of college is finally a TV show after nobody wanted to watch at the time (so they voted unanimously at both interventions), and now it’s being made and I’m out in the cold. I mean the idea is great, but it’s just not fair that I suddenly don’t get to participate because I’m “violent” and “a general risk to myself and anyone close to me.” Fuck this, let’s get drunk.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Pilot Breakdown (overheard) round 1: ABC

It’s pilot season, which means for the next couple/few weeks everyone is going to be wondering what’s going to be new on their televisions this fall. Not being an “insider,” I usually am in the same boat, but I had the good fortune to be sat next to a couple of real Hollywood types at this great lunch place that doesn’t have a name but they seat you on long benches like you’re in Europe, but they treat you like shit like you’re in prison and then they charge you like hell because you’re in Beverly Hills (adjacent). I got to overhear their conversation, which was literally just a list of all the shows at all the networks. Between bites I took notes on a napkin. These are those notes and my reactions.

They talked about ABC comedies first
American Jewy  - not really into religious stereotypes, especially in comedies, but it will do well in the middle of the country because it has the word American in it, so it’s got that going for it.
Possum clown – I love cartoons. This is a winner. I like possums. I like clowns. This show has BOTH and probably the possum IS THE CLOWN? Hell yes.
Malibu cunty -  Probably about an actress they both had sex with who really liked spiced rum! I’m not sure anyone who didn’t sleep with Malibu Cunty will get the premise of the show, and why you’d want to cast a rude ex-girlfriend in a broadcast show is beyond me.
prairie doggin - yeah right, like a whole show could exist about the 30 yards between your car and your toilet after dollar taco night! I’d give it a shot though, because it’s got everything people want: the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat and probably a few slow motion farts and diarrhea which are comedy gold.
The Smart One - good to see Taj Mowry getting back in the game
Bread Ham Fan - A cooking / DIY / enthusiast fusion in primetime? Good luck!
Only rule is Morris - Seems like the Caeser in pre-christian Israel instead of rome. I’m into it, but I don’t see much a need to make a period comedy, especially since most of the conflict wont read very well on screen. I mean, what do Egyptians even look like?
How to Live With Your Parents for the Rest of Your Life -sounds like a really shitty stupid long title of a ridiculously boring show.

ABC Dramas were next
DICKS DICKS DICKS Fart avenue – seems a bit crass and I hate dramadies, but I see they’re trying to fill the void left by our friends on wisteria lane and are desperate to recreate that success with another road-based show. not sure this is the right way to do either, but I’m no programming exec.
Bearijuana – I don’t know if the networks are ready for a drug dealing bear. Breaking bad meets the jungle book may sound like a great marriage concept but I don’t know where it would fit on the schedule.
Beauty and the Beast – are they just going to show the movie every week? I don’t understand what this means.
Previous Maids – An interview show about people reminiscing about the people who used to clean your house. Seems more TLC than ABC. Or even lifetime. Again, I’m no programming exec.
Pill and Billy – I highly doubt the guys I used to buy drugs from in college got a tv show. last I heard they were raising ducks in Ecuador. Though if they switched to Alpaca (pill’s dream) I’m sure that’d be an interesting drama to follow. An alpaca / duck farm? Brill.
Flotsam – really? Too soon. The Japanese haven’t even rebuilt from their disaster and you’re making a show about the havoc the shambles of their former lives are wreaking on our coastlines? Too soon.
Last Retort – clearly a broadcast adaptation of the Colbert Report’s final word. Seems pretty derivative but cable is clearly the minor leagues and broadcast is the big leagues, so if it works on cable it’ll work on broadcast, but since it’s bigger it’ll work better. Excited about this one.
Hashville – How do Pill and Billy have two shows on broadcast tv and I haven’t even sold the screenplay I’ve been working on for the last nine-years. I’m IN Hollywood and they’re in fucking Ecuador. Life isn’t fair.
Penocha – I don’t speak Spanish but I’m pretty sure they can’t say this on TV. It’s unpromotable. Fail.
Soup-les – Souples? Like super hero soup couple? Again, I don’t know what they’re trying to do here, but the super-hero love story was my favorite part of hancock and the soup nazi was my favorite episode of Seinfeld, so if they can soap it up, I’d tune in for this on Sunday nights!
Hero Sour -  another food / super hero show, but without the love story? Tough sell. I like love. I LOVE love. But I do like sour as opposed to savory. Maybe they can send these two back to development and combine them. like a super-hero love triangle. Soup and Sour competing for one super-heart. Sounds like a bachelor replacement to me. And super commercial.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Missed Race # 2 – or – the $37 beer and t-shirt

Missed Race # 2 – or – the $37 beer and t-shirt

It’s been 3 weeks since I have run a step aside from a painful accidental jog while taking the stage for a comedy show, which reinforced my current restful lifestyle. I missed my second race this past weekend, but in true sad-loser fashion, I showed up anyway to get my swag. Luckily my girlfriend and her sister were also running the race so I could blend in with the other non-runners and have someone to cheer for.

Of course I’m talking about The SoCal Warrior Dash. A 4.99k obstacle course / mud run. I did it last year and it was a lot of fun. I ran it in a hotdog costume and aside from my incapacitating fear of heights, I did very well. There was only one height obstacle and I powered through well enough, but definitely not with any semblance of speed. This is all, of course, beside the point because I didn’t run it this year. I did show up and get my t-shirt and complimentary beer. And a couple more beers. Hadn't drank before lunch in awhile, so that was worth getting up at 6am.

My foot still hurts. A lot. And as luck would have it, the other foot’s capsulitis has crawled back, so now I don’t know which foot to favor and now it seems I won’t be able to avoid inserts as all the information I can gather on capsulitis is rest until it goes away, stretch your calves and use a metatarsal pad or have surgery. I’m down with minimalism and good form running, but I am definitely averse to surgery, so I will sacrifice one point of view for another.

I’m still holding strong onto the belief that most, if not all, running problems can be solved with form, strength and drills and will try any drill or stretch or exercise to relieve myself of any pain before sentencing my feet to the stockade. I just have to find the right exercises to get myself better.

The next race I’ve registered for but wont toe the line at is the OC Marathon. This one’s in 4 weeks and I’m absolutely certain I wont make it. Last week I transferred entry to the half marathon on the same day which at the time was smart, but as it stands now, I wont be able to run that one either. If my foot stops hurting by then I don’t even think it’d be smart to throw a half marathon at it, since running too much too soon on bones that couldn’t handle it is what got me into this mess to begin with. But I’ll be at the expo to collect all the free fun stuff I seem to be collecting.
I had a great year planned on my feet, but obviously it’s not to be. I’m still processing all the lessons learned from this injury, but I am keeping a list so I wont have to learn them twice.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Resting the flat tire – or – footgate 2012

I obviously didn’t run the LA marathon, but I did make sure to carbo-load the day before because I love pasta and the pasta makes the sad go away. But only for so long. I woke up race morning and hobbled up to McDonald’s for an egg and cheese McGriddle but failed. It’s a long story.


Int. McDonald’s Morning

An unremarkable McDonalds except for GREG – handsome, mid 20’s, handsome - steps up to the counter to order from a smiling GRISELDA – latina in her 40’s.
                                                Could I have an Egg and cheese
                                                McGriddle, please?
She stares.
                                                An Egg and Cheese McGriddle?
Nothing. She stares through him like he is a ghost. A white ghost.
                                                Could I have a bacon egg and cheese
                                                McGriddle, please?
She snaps to action, punches keys on her touch screen.
                                                (THICK Hispanic accent)
                                                Meal or Sandwich?
                                                Meal, please.
                                                Coffee or Juice?
                                                Soda, actually. Is that ok?
                                                What kind Soda?
Even more confused, Greg turns around to obviously look at the soda machines near the tables.
                                                Dr. Pepper?
She punches more keys on the computer. He pays. She gives him an empty cup, he fills it with diet coke, smiles to himself, gets his McGriddle, leaves.

Please hold your applause until the end of this post.

So that obviously made my day start off in a very weird place. I figured since I had to cross the marathon route to get to the McDonalds, and I told a few people I’d be there that I’d stay and be there like I said.
Plus there was an annoying 40ish dude spectating who would yell at you if you tried to cross because “you’re going to mess up their strides!” which would be true if we were crossing an indoor track race, but if we can get across quickly enough so that the runners knew they wouldn’t hit us thus not altering their stride, it was a non-issue; especially when there were fifty yard gaps between runners. That guy drove me crazy and I made sure to cross twice, pretending not to know where I was going to settle down and cheer. Watching him squirm was great.

Then I got to play asshole when a darling toddler and her dad came to watch the race because they lived in the area and she just wanted to look. The problem was, we were at mile 18(ish) and they were chanting “five more miles!” which was an inconsiderate thing to do on the off chance someone wasn’t exactly aware about how wrong they were. I don’t know if I snapped or not, but I do know that I felt like shit right after I got done speaking so I went home and went back to sleep, since I planned on sleeping the afternoon away back when I had the marathon on the books.

I weighed myself Monday morning, back to the pre-training weight of 217.0 but with a higher fat % (now 23.9). I decided I had to get into something else or risk blowing up again and all the inconveniences that added weight gives me and my health both in general and acutely related to my colitis and depression. I went back to the slow carb diet and bought swim goggles. I’m sticking to the diet but still haven’t touched a pool – going to go for my first swim in years on Saturday, so look for me to get addicted to that and turn this into a swimming blog or maybe I’ll get a bike and start a triathlon blog.

Speaking of triathlon, it turns out I’ve only typed it once (now twice) in my entire life. And it’s not spelled triathAlon. My mind is blown. I’m not sure how the spelling will affect my attitude towards the sport in general, but it does feel like I was just kicked in the gut.

I finally went to the doctor again today to get results of my x-rays. After 10 days of waiting between the urgent care and the appointment with the specialist we uncovered the following truth: the X-rays weren’t exactly done right. Apparently there is a different protocol to x-ray for stress fractures than there is for normal fractures and while there were no fractures, there was insufficient indication of a stress fracture, so bottom line is: I don’t know. My foot pain decreases with rest, increases with activity, does not respond to ice, came on over an extended period of time and hurts when you apply pressure to it directly.

So naturally an orthotic will solve this problem.

What?! An orthotic? Are you mad? I got hurt because I didn’t move properly, why am I being allowed to continue to move improperly?! Why is equipment the answer? Is this equivalent to someone almost drowning in a pool and responding by prescribing them a boat? Shouldn’t I learn how to do it right? No? just pay $30-$300 and continue to do it wrong? WHAT?!

I also got a coupon for 10% off at a local shoe store. I will use this coupon to buy minimalist shoes to spite the system. I know it’s a scam because the doctor didn’t make a diagnosis, yet prescribed a catch-all cure AND gave me a coupon. Now I’m not saying my doctor is shady. I’m saying maybe the medical establishment should reconsider how they approach running. It seems to me to harken back to a bit of a snake oil science, especially considering the last time I tried orthotics and motion control shoes was because of the way my body wore down after using stability shoes and the expensive motherfuckers made me worse instantly. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

5 weeks later - or - RACE WEEK #1!

I’m quite embarrassed to check in again, 5 drama filled weeks after my last post, but here we are. The last good run I had was February 5th and it was a great run. I smashed my PR by almost 7 minutes, felt great the whole time and ran with my two [temp] converts – GF and her sister. Then I picked up the flu and was out for two weeks and my ability to run the LA Marathon was in doubt. I viewed it as my first major setback, completely ignoring the foot pain that wrecked my run on January 29th, which we’ll get back to, of course.

The flu was rough. I picked it up on a Thursday, attributing the first sign of it to post-run cigar throat soreness. I’m a comedian and I like to smoke a cigar between my Thursday post-work run and my Thursday night comedy show sometimes. The wrong cigar or if I smoke to much of it will give me a sore throat, especially if I went hard on the run earlier, which I did, so I didn’t notice I was sick until half-way through my Friday when I caught the chills and went home early.

Needless to say I didn’t run that Sunday. I did go for a walk, though, about half a mile to the store and back to get some orange juice in the hopes that getting bundled up and getting outside in the crisp night air would relieve my dizziness, which it didn’t. After the fevers went away and I could sleep again, the cough lingered for a long time. Thanks to my Ulcerative Colitis, I’m on immunosuppressors which means infections and sicknesses are more easy to catch and harder to get rid of, so while a flu might knock a normal person out for 10 days, I was hampered for 2 weeks.

2 very slow weeks because my last run was my first run in my new Merrell Road Gloves, which I had been waiting for since I had read reviews and got caught up in their hype. It was awful just staring at them knowing I wasn’t able to use them properly. Sometimes I’d put them on instead of slippers just because I was excited to have them. Mercifully my girlfriend understood or didn’t notice, so I wasn’t teased or bullied about my childlike need to play with my new toys.

My first “run” back was a hike just to get my feet back under me and it went just fine except for some pain in my left foot coming down the hill. The same pain I had towards the end of the Rose bowl half marathon and the same pain that slowed me down near the end of the Surf City half and the same one that popped up near the end of most of my long training runs and forced me to skip more than one shorter recovery run on Tuesday and even stop the Back-bay run 11 miles short of what I had planned to do that day. I dumbly thought my shoes were too tight, a likely story as it hurt right under the laces. I thought my shoes and socks were too snug to accommodate my foot as it swelled during exercise and that caused me pain. No big deal, as I had new shoes that fit better and thinner socks.

Thanks to all the flu and injuries I realized I would have to adjust my goals for the LA Marathon. I was no longer going to attempt to get through it faster than my last marathon, though that would be nice; I didn’t have the volume behind me to do something like that safely or effectively. My new goal was to just finish. By this point I had yet to acknowledge that my foot was a problem aside from mentioning the pain casually and saying I’d see a doctor after the OC marathon in May, then dropping a “something’s broken in there,” laughing and moving on. In my head I sounded like a total badass. In their heads I was an idiot.

But I only live in my head, so my awesome self hatched a new plan. I had 3 weeks before the marathon. I would go for 20 miles on schedule. If I made it, great, I’m ready to run the marathon. If not, no worries, I would just trim my taper to 1 week and go for it again the following Sunday. I did not make it. My morning run turned into an afternoon run thanks to the ole’ rumbly in my tumbly and it was warmer than I thought it’d be. I started feeling tired around mile 11 and barely made it to 16 before run-walking three more and calling it quits. I decided run-walking was an effective strategy and comforted myself in knowing that if worse came to worst, I’d still roll through the finish line and grab that finisher’s medal, knowing full well I’d not given my all, but still somehow pulling it together to just get it done, setting the bar low for 2013.

The next week was the same except it was 80 degrees by mile 9 and there is no shade on the beach, where I run because I can and it’s amazing. Plus there are tons of public restrooms and drinking fountains. It took me 4 hours, but I finished. It felt great: 20 miles done despite all the setbacks I had (still not acknowledging the nagging pain in my left foot as a thing).

Do you see where this is going? I didn’t. Call it a mix of confirmation bias and hindsight, but I should have sought medical attention at the first or second incidents of pain instead of toughing it out because I had already signed up and paid for a bunch of races and didn’t want the doctors to tell me the dreaded truth: this is an injury that needs attention and that attention will be at the expense of running. I ignored it.

I ignored it and now I can’t run. Hell, I can hardly walk. Would have been nice if it held out for another week, but it didn’t. I took a 9 mile spin down in San Clemente this Sunday morning. Usually in the two days leading up to the long run, any pain in the foot goes away, but this time it didn’t.  I took some Excedrin and headed out the door and a snail’s pace. The pills worked until about mile 5 when the pain overtook them and every step was slightly worse than the last. At mile 8 I left the cement / asphalt in lieu of the soft sand which only helped a bit, then I started running in the cold water which helped a bit more, but by the end I was definitely limping. I took my shoes off and waded into the water for a little pseudo ice bath. It didn’t help. I limped up the hill back to the condo where I stayed and haven’t taken an honest step since.

It was so bad that I went to urgent care and they took X-rays and now I’m waiting. If there’s no pain in it by Saturday, and the doctors haven’t told me no, I will be running the LA Marathon. I say that and I know I sound like an idiot, but I also know that it’s a non-issue and it won’t not hurt so I’ll never have to prove how badass I am, and instead can take some lessons away from this debacle. Lessons I already knew but didn’t believe such as establishing a base of fitness when starting a barefoot / minimal running regimen and if you ignore that gem then at least listen to your body when it screams STOP! Also, I’ll wait a bit longer to sign up for races and definitely hold off on multiple races in quick succession to avoid the domino effect that I’m about to ride out.

At least now I’ll have time to get back to trying to sell a TV pilot and won’t have an excuse not to get back to my slow-carb weight loss goal, both of which conflicted heavily with running 9 hours a week and working full time. I’ve never been the silver lining guy. I hate not running already.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Long Runs 12 and 13 – or – broken wheel back bay / Surf City Half Marathon

I ran the Surf City half marathon in Huntington Beach on Sunday. It was a flat out and back with a loop of one hill. The total climb was about 700 feet which isn’t totally flat, but the last one I ran was almost double that so this was relatively the flattest half marathon I’ve run to date and I was feeling quite good to start, if a little weary thanks to the injury I mentioned in the last post.

I was definitely rested, as I hurt myself on weds 1/25, skipped Thursday the 26th, cross trained on Friday, took Saturday off as planned to rest for the 18 miler on the schedule for 1/29, but only got 7 miles (SLOW!) because the one day off wasn’t enough, then cross trained Monday and Tuesday, rested Wednesday and finally got some quality miles (3) in on Thursday. My foot hurt after the 3 but I wasn’t too concerned as it was a dull ache and not the stabbing pain that it had been on the Sunday run through Back Bay in upper Newport harbor (which was lovely).

I was running the Surf City Half with my gf and her sister. We crashed at her sister’s place around the corner from the start/finish to save ourselves the commute down from LA the morning of. It was good practice, as I’ll be lobbying to stay there again the night before the OC Marathon in May, but I fell victim to my away-game pre-race affliction which is: stress dreams and anxiety induced insomnia. I had wine with dinner which usually puts me down in a couple hours, and I was tired right on schedule, but as soon as my head hit the pillow I was assaulted with “you’ll never fall asleep and even if you do it won’t be enough sleep and if it is you will have overslept and missed the race,” thoughts which don’t make any sense because in effect, I’m losing sleep over a hundred dollars. That is all I have invested in the race. But you can’t apply logic to anxiety. I think I fell asleep around 3 and was awake again at 5 to shower and eat to leave by 6 to arrive on time to be comfortable and take my time and start on time, all of which I did.

It was the first race I started on time. I’d say it was perfect, but it was rushed. My stomach wasn’t ready to start. I blame my late coffee intake and the fact that I was rushed in the porta-potties and there was only toilet paper in 1/3 of them and I hate using them in general. I wanted to make a second stop but the lines were too long, so I decided to tough it out and use one on the course if I needed to, though that was a guaranteed PR killer so I was hesitant, but I had no other choice. I wanted to start on time and see what a race was like not having to spend the first 4 miles bobbing and weaving around walk-traffic.
           I found out what it was like, and it was nice. I found the tallest guy on the course and stuck with him for a mile to see his pace. It was 9 mins on the nose. This made me happy as I only get updated every half mile by choice, but this guy was obsessively checking his watch, so I knew he’d be more consistent than I and took the pressure and stress of keeping pace off of me. I stuck with him until the first aid station when he slowed to a walk to take in fluids and I kept going. Without my rabbit I was on my own, only getting updates on the half mile and doing what felt right in between, which was difficult due to my recent rest.

                Then my runkeeper app did what it does best, and added distance throwing off my split. And it did it again and again and again until I was 4 minutes ahead of my pace. This was impossible as I was clearly not running an 8:30 pace considering the hill climb from miles 3-5 and the stitch in my side from miles 4-7. I was worrying about being forced to stop, not digging deep and running a race. I was lost. Every time a new mile would click on my runkeeper, the mile marker would be farther and farther in front of me and that is when I could find them and tell them apart from the marathon mile markers which were probably a different color or something but I wasn’t really concentrating, so I couldn’t tell you.

                At mile 9 I figured I was chasing down a PR and the gas pain in my gut would have to wait. I figured it was on the right, ascending side so it was more of a comfort issue than a danger of having a grown-up accident – one of the benefits of being broken is knowing where the parts go, and the left side is the danger zone, not the right – so I ran through it and rubbed it and dumped water on it, and it went away, mostly. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t run through the finish and directly to a shitbox, but that’s at the end of this story so wait, goddammit.

                Also at mile 9 I started to feel the juice come out of my legs. I was so wrapped up in not having a stomach issue that I had abandoned my nutrition plan (clif bars / nature valley trail mix bars) and was only getting half a cup of water and half a cup of electrolyte solution at every other aid station. The air was cool at 66 degrees but the entire course was exposed to the coastal sun and though you could see Catalina and fancy a swim to it (so clear!), the heat was getting slightly uncomfortable. I started to chug at the aid stations, grabbing 4 half cups at each pass, and even got desperate and put down some gel square things because I figured they’d have more electrolytes and the cramping  twinge was not going away.

                I could feel my pace slipping as well. Indeed mile 9 was the slowest I would run in the race (tied with mile 11 at 9:06, but flat. Mile 11 was a tiny rolling hill nightmare so at least I had an excuse). I needed this PR. I refocused and picked a guy that was slowly passing me and decided to ride his coattails for a while. I made it about a mile before I walked through an aid station to get in fluids and lost him. I decided my kick would be the last 2 miles and not the last 4 as that didn’t work out well in my last race, and mile 11 ended on top of a hill, so I figured that’d be a good a place as any. I summited the hill and saw the pier near the start/finish (actually a gazebo, but whatever – it stuck out against the sand and sea), and dropped the hammer.

                My feet hurt. Both of them. both of my prior injuries – the bizzaro foot pain from the sprints and the mystery metatarsal inflammation that’s been plaguing me since I bought the Vivobarefoot Neos – both raged into effect, but I was racing! I didn’t need to save anything. I didn’t need to run 13.2 miles; I needed 13.1 and a step for good measure so I pressed on. I passed the coasters and the bonkers and a few people who were just slowing down and finished like a champ. A fat, sweaty, gassy champ. I hustled through the chute, got my medal, my free fruit and snacks and drinks and high fives, thanked as many volunteers as I could, then hit up the porta-potty row and found one with toilet paper and the cycle was complete.
New PR: 1:55:22 pace: 8:48 (official)

I broke my old PR by about 7 minutes, finished 2518 out of 14099 overall, 1655 out of 5516 men and 224 out of 661 in my age group. I was totally stoked for the PR. The rest of the stats kind of don’t matter too much to me as I know I’ll never win a normal race, but it’s nice to see how I compare in a very general sense to every other endurance hobbyist on that day.

In regular greg boytos fashion, I then consumed about 2x the calories burned at chilis and a super bowl party and a subsequent half-drunk pizza purchase, but I’m only human. For now. (cue music)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Week 11 or speed [doesn’t] work

                I took the opportunity last Wednesday to get in some speed work. I worked them into my schedule lightly since my first marathon was far below my goal but I realize that I still need a lot of base miles to finish. They come up every other week in place of my medium length mid-week run and they didn’t start until week 9. That is the Robert is your father’s brother way of saying it was my second shot at 800 meter repeats.

                Since I started running in a minimal or barefoot shoes I’ve done 1 set of sprints and 1 session of 800 meter repeats (yasso 800’s). The sprints were a very short workout my girlfriend took from her rugby days and wasn’t supposed to get me ready for anything or assist in anything but general fitness as I was very new to minimal running and still building my general mileage so I needed a higher intensity workout. I did fast and full sprints in my Merrell Trail Gloves and after the first set it was clear that I was going too hard too soon. I was not a mature athlete at that point, so I worked through the pain, finished the workout and the jog home and took the rest of the week off with severe foot pain.

                The second time was months later and went far better than the first. It was, after all a completely different workout focused on sustained high speed not short burst of all out effort. I didn’t escape unscathed (I never do) thanks to a pair of cheap socks that I happened to be wearing with a thick seam that wore a couple holes in a couple of my toes and made the run miserable until I took the socks off and wrapped them around my hands (yuck) and ran the rest of the workout sockless, which is fine as I was in my vivobarefoot neos which have really comfortable liners.

                This third session of speed work I made sure to wear proper socks (new drymax ultra thin socks) and not hit too hard. The track is 1.5 miles from my apt. I ran to it as a warmup and hit the track and got going. I did 6 x 800m each at 3:50 with 3:50 as a rest for 400m. It wasn’t easy, but it was doable. It hurt just like all good workouts hurt. I grabbed a drink of water at the fountain, changed the playlist on my ipod and set off back home. After about half a mile I noticed that both Achilles tendons were remarkably tight and seemed to ache with every step, along with the outside base of my calves. Once I noticed that I noticed the top of my left foot hurting with every footfall and the bottom of my right foot as well.

The bottom of my right foot pain is old hat. Something about my stride and the way the neos are constructed make this pain consistent on runs longer than 4 miles. I’ve taken the pain as a sign that my stride was wrong, but after weeks of adjustments nothing I’ve tried has helped and I don’t have the time to build a new box, so I’ve phased them out of every workout except for short runs and for some reason, speed work seemed appropriate since I’m on a track. I’ve tried metatarsal pads but I felt like that was cheating, and they would always slide into my arch so it doesn’t really matter if a foot pad in a minimal shoe negates the minimalness of the shoe because it never stayed put long enough for me to even tell if it worked.

I would replace them if I had the money, but my budget only allows for so many shoes, and I’m due for another pair, but I’ve been enamored with the Merrell Trail Gloves and heard amazing things about their next iteration the Merrell Road Gloves so those are my next pair, but they’re not out yet, so until then I’m running in neos (and i wear them to work a couple days a week to get my minimal fix and i do all of my strength training in them. actually, aside from the toe pain at mid length runs, they're wonderful shoes; i'm not sorry i bought them)

I had to walk the rest of the way home; another mile total. It wasn’t all walking, as I have a stupid voice in my head that constantly says “you can probably bang out a few more strides,” and it was on full volume so I’d run until the pain was too great or when the tightness on my calves/Achilles was fearsome or both, and then walk a bit more. I got home and was insanely sore for the rest of the night. I hobbled around my apartment and iced iced iced to no avail.

The next day it hurt. I knew I wasn’t going to take my scheduled 4 miler the second I woke up. I wore soft shoes to work, kept it up on the desk whenever I could but before I got into bed I noticed a red spot on the top of my foot and some minor swelling. It hurt when I rubbed my big and 2nd toe together but I couldn’t produce pain any other way (much like the pain on the bottom of my right foot, there is no way to make it hurt save for running in the neos) so I figured it would go away. It didn’t. Friday the pain was less present but still there and with the long run (18 miles) scheduled for Saturday this week and not Sunday, it was in real jeopardy.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Rose Bowl Half Marathon - or - long run #10

For the 10th long run of my training quest, a step down week, I chose to run the Rose Bowl Half Marathon in Pasadena, CA. While it was 1 week off the suggested half marathon distance for the LA Marathon according to most (or many) training schedules, I chose it over the “properly dated” LA Half marathon for a few reasons. First, when I was signing up and developing my race / training schedule for 2012 the LA Half was an out and back on Venice Blvd and the Rose Bowl Half was a scenic trailish run through the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. While I grew up mostly in those very same foothills, I had never run in them and I ran the Venice area up to 3 times a week. I also dislike Venice very much both as a thoroughfare and a neighborhood. There are too many lights, not enough turn lanes and it’s a magnet for crime and drugs. People say I’m uptight and that it’s funky. I say fuck people. Venice is just an expensive piece of shit homeless colony and the few cool parts of it are ruined by the seemingly encouraged, if at the very least condoned and I am not okay with any of it. Also, the Rose Bowl Half had a Clydesdales division for men over 200 lbs. I know I’ll never finish well against all these little guys in my age group, so the fact that I could run against other bigs was appealing and made the deal, as if I needed an excuse to not run in Venice.

My stomach was sketchy the whole day before thanks to soda and a touch of nerves. And I had way too much cream in my coffee for breakfast, and then more in my coffee at lunch, and then I had brie and a baguette with salami for dinner because I’m mostly a moron who doesn’t learn from my mistakes. I also went to bed at midnight after drinking a half a bottle of wine. I woke up 5 hours later, still mostly full, but I shoveled in my race-day staple of sausage, peppers, onions, quinoa scrambled in egg whites. I had packed the night before so the morning was smooth. We arrived an hour before the start, just enough time for me to get my packet, warm up, and alleviate any, erm, pressure that may have—I mean take a dump… I sometimes forget who writes this blog… but it turns out that an hour early would just not cut it.

I parked and jogged down to the packet pickup. There were 4 races going off on that day so there were 16 lines. Each one had about 4 people except 1. I’m sure we can all guess which 1 had about 20 because I wouldn’t give half a shit if T-Z had a bunch of unlucky fucks in it that stood around while some high school mouth breather stopped what he was doing to help the windows with the mini-lines solve their bullshit problems. It was obvious that not only was this the slowest window, but it was also over-loaded. If I were a race director I would divide windows by number of entrants, not by how many letters are in the alphabet.

I also had the good fortune to meet the only person in line. She must have been sisters with the only one running a half marathon whom I met later, so it was an honor. She walked up to the next window and said “hi. I’m at the back of the line. Can I just get my stuff without having to wait in the line?” This is an infuriating statement for many reasons. It’s obviously not what she actually said, but I half translated it to get to the theme. I’ll fully translate it and then explain why I hate it now. What she really meant was, “I didn’t plan ahead or make an honest effort to get here on time, and if I had it was ineffective. What I need from you now is special consideration otherwise I will feel slighted. I do not believe I am subject to consequences from my lack of foresight.”
    I don’t know if you can tell, but I hate entitlement. I hate people that try and dodge the line, go around the traffic, get theirs in before others, block the way, and any other situation where people knowingly try and avoid the unpleasantness that living in a society can present. If you don’t think you should have to wait, you should have gotten here earlier. This isn’t about racing. This is about any queue anywhere from the airport to Starbucks to a fucking bottleneck going from asphalt to single track trail to a traffic jam on the freeway. Wait. Because everyone else has to wait and the more fucks that try and cheat and skirt the waiting, the more good people have to suffer through this mess. If you were as special as your apparent need to be somewhere you’d have a goddamn helicopter so fuck off. I refuse to ever be complacent about this or anything like it, or even apologize for offending the cheaters, cutters and other swine that refuse to be a part of humanity, this woman included. We’ll get to her sister later.

                I ended up having enough time to jog back to the car, peel off my sweats and jog back to the bathroom, but not enough to complete my pit stop before the start making this race the first one I’ve arrived to on time, but the third that I haven’t started on time. I rolled through the finish about 5 minutes after the gun and passed the walkers on the flat street for the first mile before a bottleneck came up and forced us all to walk. All of us walked. Not just some lazy people, but every single person who was there had to walk. This is because we were going from 2 lanes and a sidewalk wide course to a single track trail and there is nothing anyone can do about it aside from getting there before it got crowded – i.e. at the front of the pack.

                But hark, what cunt from yonder back of pack breaks up onto the hillside to wave her filth past the rest of the group by walking slightly faster? Ah, another one. Insert previous ranty tangent here, I refuse to waste the calories typing it again. All I can say is I wish I had enough balls to blow a snot rocket at this woman or at least spit near her. Instead, when the course opened up in 50 yards and I passed her 20 yards after that – she was remarkably slow for how impatient she was – I made sure to cut extra close, so she knew she was getting passed with purpose. If karma were real, she would have fallen in the river and screamed for help as people wogged past her shrugging and pointing to their watches, “I have a shot at a PR. Good luck swimming!” Yuck.

                The course opened up for a mile or two before another bottleneck, but this one was friendlier and notably asshole free. Except for me. Not me exactly as I am quite polite, but my thoughts are evil and I found myself choosing a line of people’s backs that looked weak enough to be shattered by me in my bowling ball position so that I could get going. Needless to say I didn’t do this, I kept my mouth shut and build my energy so when it opened up I was back to weaving around the slower runners.

                I had a lot of fun. This was my first foray into trail running. While seasoned and experienced trail runners may scoff at that notion or qualification of the arroyo trail system / Arroyo Park as trail running, but for me who’s used to training on 100% pavement, this might as well be a safari. It felt like I was playing, not running. I was jumping from rock to rock, hopping puddles, passing people, climbing sticks and logs and fighting to stay out of the rain ruts like some shitty kid who was too fat to have real fun growing up. I kid. I wasn’t fat until high school at which point I was too cool to run. The remarkable thing about the run was the air. It smelled nice. I’m used to running on Santa Monica Blvd and Ocean and Sunset which are all choked with cars and I never noticed how terrible it all smelled until I ran through the arroyo. I will definitely try and include more (some) trails in my runs as I’m a spoiled brat and beach running just isn’t pretty enough.

                I started having a tough time when we got back on the road and started running with the 10k crowd as I’m always comparing my pace to others’ and I wasn’t aware that they were 10k’ers so I was feeling really terrible about myself for a couple miles until all the fast ones turned to finish and I had another 5.1 miles to go. And they were going to be 5.1 terrible miles if the first hill held any clue. Since I’ve never run on trails before, I’ve never come across a hiking hill, which is a hill you have to hike up instead of running. It was awesome but steep. After we got to the top some people were walking, but there was a cool tunnel about 50 yards ahead so I ran for it. I like tunnels and at the other end of this one was an aid station. I walk through aid stations or run past them and after the hill we just climbed, this one was a walker.

                It was at this point where I realized how far off my Runkeeper app was. Mile 8 was at the bottom of the hill which was about 100 yards behind me and runkeeper was saying I had just crossed mile 8.5. Psychologically I think this hurt the most, as all of a sudden I was behind myself. The pace I got was a lie, the distance I got was a lie, and the only thing I could trust was duration. When I crossed the 9 mile marker on the course it had been an hour and 31mins. To PR I needed to finish in about 30 minutes. It wasn’t going to happen. But this wasn’t a training run, this was a race. I only needed to run 13.1 miles, not a step more, so I said to myself “let’s race,” and took off.

                I stopped to walk once, when coming back down the crazy hill. It was precarious and there was a lot of 2 way traffic so I couldn’t pass anyone anyway, even if I weren’t staying safe. Plus I was eating the last bit of my clif bar and I can’t eat right when I’m running hard because I have to close my mouth to chew, so it worked out. At the bottom I took off again. I passed a lady who said “good job!” between pants and that made me run harder. She was cheering for everyone going either direction. It was awesome. It made me smile. She got it. I was chasing a PR and had miscalculated the distance so I was kicking hard, not worried about anyone else except to not run into them.

                While runkeeper continued to siphon bum info into my ear (distance: 13.5 miles, pace 8:56) I pushed and pushed and held on and finally when we came into the home stretch I couldn’t kick any harder than I already was, so I dug into the stadium and crossed the finish line (with video proof thanks to my awesome GF) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2pAVRNtTaY&feature=g-upl&context=G212c425AUAAAAAAAAAA and for the record that was as hard as I could go. I even jogged a bit on a downhill leading into the Rose Bowl so I’d have enough juice to finish strong (however weak it may seem, but my form is still decent and cadence is still very close to my target), and that’s how I felt I finished. Despite my GF editorializing, that was a sprint.

                I missed a PR by fifteen seconds (official time: 2:03:04) and missed a podium in my weight class by less than 2 minutes and was only 5:35 behind the winner. I finished 4th in my division and 247th overall. It’s fun to throw a weight class into the mix because it lets me race against my peers. I would not describe myself as fat, but I am a big man with extra weight. With my current muscle mass, if I were to drop to 5 percent body fat I’d be a waif at 170lbs. I was down to 179 with nowhere near this amount of muscle 2 years ago and people thought I had an eating disorder. Essentially I do not have, nor will I ever have a pure runner’s body. It does not appeal to me, nor am I willing to put in the work to obtain it, so I know I’ll never win a race of substantial size and I’m okay with that but it IS nice to see how I stack up against other MOUS (men of unusual size).

                Statistics aside this race returned my confidence in my nutrition plan, my previous training as well as my ability to summon some extra get up to finish strong. It also hinted at a love for trail running that I will definitely be exploring more. The Rose Bowl Half Marathon also reaffirmed – as most public interactions do – my strong hatred of most people, so there’s that. All in all I give the race a B+ because I feel like I saved too much in the early goings and my exhaustion at the finish line was not a result of a consistent effort as much as it was the last gasp from an extended kick which definitely petered out towards the end. Finally it taught me to look where I’m running unless I enjoy hobbling foot pain from stepping on every single rock in Pasadena, and that I may need bigger shoes and a bit more stack to conquer a proper marathon but that’s a thought that’s been marinating for a few runs now, as my feet have been swelling a bunch with the higher mileage.

                Also, I weighed in again on Monday. I stopped mentioning my weight loss efforts after the holidays because the wheels came off the wagon, but I’m back to 214 lbs. and 23.6% body fat and 53.6 of the third thing my scale measures, which is relatively the same as it has been. This week I’m abandoning the donut and chocolate diet that I was crushing last week (hostess devil’s food pop ‘ems are you kidding me?!)(so good) and getting back down with wholesome, purposeful meals and snacks. I’m really looking forward to this weekend as I get to take an 18 mile tour of Back Bay in Newport Beach and then head north to Costa Mesa. 8 weeks until the LA Marathon.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Long Run # 9 – or Surviving the Game

                I just got a box of Honey Stinger Waffles (http://www.honeystinger.com/) after trying one a few weeks back and having it give me noticeable energy near the end of a long run and after reading a glowing review from http://www.runningandrambling.com/. This past Sunday was my first shot with them. They’re only 160 calories so since I go through about 1,000 calories an hour at my weight and speed, and since I tend to shy away from sports drinks during runs, these smaller, easier to eat guys were preferable to my normal routine of half a clif bar every 3.5 miles. Before the run I had a Gatorade G series Prime, per usual on runs over 10 miles and I packed 5 waffles. 1 every 4 miles and 1 right after I finished as a recovery snack.

                Needless to say things didn’t quite work out. They never do, it seems. After about 9 miles and 2 waffles, I could feel my calves micro-cramping. I typically like to run without calf sleeves, but as I cramped up pretty bad during long run #8 I figured I could use the compression, so I was wearing them. Micro-cramping is a word I made up, I think, just now, so if it’s already a word and I’m using it wrong then I’m probably looking like a real asshole, but for the purposes of this blog micro-cramping is that little twinge in your muscle that you always ignore, because it’s nothing, but then a few miles later it’s a full on cramp. So I had those in my calves after about 3 miles of running through some Achilles soreness, so I attributed it to that and kept going.

                I ran the last 6.2 miles of the LA Marathon first, then continued south along the boardwalk to Ocean Park before turning around at about 10 miles. At the turn around      I was dying. I thought it was the heat and sunlight so I stopped at a drinking fountain and filled up both of my bottles before continuing on. The last sub 10 minute mile I ran was mile 9. The last sub 10:30 I ran was mile 10. I typically cruise around 9 minutes per mile, so this should be an indication of my struggles. As I left the shore behind me, clouds started to thicken and at least I got a respite from the sun exposure.

                But it didn’t help. By mile 13 I was shuffling. Not on purpose as I was zoned out in my brain, but instinctually. This was distressing, as I do this from time to time and when I notice I usually think “no. go harder” and then do, but this time I thought “no. go harder” and didn’t. At this point, short of life and death situations, 11:10 min/mile was my top speed. I hoped to catch every single red light I could so I had an excuse to walk a few steps. I ate my 5th waffle. Nothing seemed to stop the cramp tsunami and when it hit I was a mile from home, holding myself up on a tree branch while my hamstrings sang pain chorus, and to boot, thanks to my new kettle bell, my traps and biceps were well on their way to the same concert.

                I lowered myself back onto my legs and they took the weight. At this point I hurt more than after a marathon and I was 10 miles short of that, but I still had 1 to go. I started walking, but knowing the Giants game would be starting soon and remembering the tri tip I had to marinate for halftime, I started power walking, then shuffling, then – more shuffling. Shuffling was all I could muster at this point. I was sprinting and 14:09 later I was home, pulling myself up the stairs and running the water for an ice bath.

                I figured I was in better shape than the performance suggested so I decided to check the nutrition info on my in-run snack. 55mg of sodium and 0 potassium. It said it right there on the label. I was not misled. In fact I wasn’t led at all, as leading would imply thought beyond caloric load. Another lesson learned for Forrest Dump. Now I just have to figure how much sodium and potassium I need and how to get it and I’ll be fine. And. I figured that paragraph could use another “and,” so that’s how I learned what Ice-T has been telling me since surviving the game in ’94. “Always check the barrel!” or in this case, the label. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Long Run 8 – or – We know each other, don’t we?

                15 miles on a Sunday after skipping the previous week’s run and running half of my diet (breakfast + 1 meal per day as high protein low / no carb) left me feeling a little bit nervous, especially considering the earliness needed to start the run in order to catch my beloved Giants fight for their right [to party]. The night before I ate questionable chicken but stayed away from beer which I had previously blamed my belly difficulty on, but I couldn’t resist the dr. pepper which weighed heavily on my mind, and my gut when I woke up.

                The unexpected run-ins started early. On my way out to breakfast with the GF we ran into a man I work with who I didn’t expect to see as he doesn’t live in my neighborhood, and he didn’t expect to see us either, heading back to his car at 7:45 on a Sunday morning, you never count on encountering work colleagues, but such is the life of young entertainment folk, or so I’ve heard. We had a brief stop n chat while I sat in my car, which is the piece of shit you imagine, but without all the windows you hope for. I drive a shitty car. My daily round trip commute is 1.95 miles, so I’m fairly safe from judgment as I live quite close to work and in a nice ‘hood and have developed a reputation for being extremely cheap to cover my inability to effectively save or earn money.

                We ate a small breakfast but the dinner from the night before wasn’t sitting right, so I left my apartment at 9:45 with a planned slow and easy 150 minute 15 miler and probably catch the 4th quarter of the game that should never have been. That went out the window kind of early as I wasn’t having a good day, energy-wise. I had an FRS energy drink before the run but it wasn’t enough to overcome the low energy absorption that I was going through, and it was unseasonably warm and I refused to run on the shady side of the street because it would mean about a half dozen more traffic lights, and my new shorts had a much smaller pocket so as a result I was only able to carry a clif bar and a honey stinger stoopwafel which is only about 300 calories. That caloric load would have been more than enough had I been able to get running earlier or hold in dinner, but all things considered, it was a bonk recipe.

                I ran into a friend while running on the ocean park in Santa Monica. I doffed my cap and seeing his confusion added a friendly “Howdy!” but got nothing in return. I realize now that the last time I saw him I looked like a Geico Caveman and suddenly there was a cancer patient doffing his cap in weird ole Santa Monica (I shaved my head and beard on New Year’s) so he may have just written it off. A couple texts later, and I’ve discovered that’s exactly the case.

                I hit the wall hard at 12 miles. I had to stop at 9.8 to use the bathroom, then from mile 10-11.5 I had to run insanely slow because I was either sunblind or about to pass out. I had taken in 2 fills of my handheld – a Nathan quick draw elite 22 oz. but still had the thirst, so I pulled into an emergency room that I frequent as the water fountain is cold and the bathroom is always open. I filled up my bottle a third time and on my way out heard someone say “excuse me,” and panicked, as I had no business using the facilities and do it often enough to have some kind of nickname (I hope it’s Forrest Dump as I’m a runner who consistently disappears into their bathroom for curiously long intervals), so I literally ran out of the emergency room and sprinted about a half mile in case a nurse was following me, the whole while convincing her in an imaginary conversation that I was well within my rights to use the drinking water there as it was an emergency and I was catholic so they should double-lay off but I turned and looked and realized I was alone, then refocused on pace and the painful cramp that exploded out of both of my calves.

                Incidentally, and conveniently within the theme of this piece (don’t I know you?), when I heard the “Hey” I turned to see someone who I thought looked a lot like another person I work with, but was too frightened to stick around to see if that was indeed him, and why would a guy who is an engineer at a broadcast network be an intake nurse at an emergency room? So I told him of his doppelganger and it turns out it was him. Completing the triforce. Because everything happens in threes. Accidental spoiler alert, I will not run into anyone else I know for the rest of this post.

                I bonked 3 miles from home. Or I should say I bonked 3 miles from the end of my run, which thanks to a miscalculation and a bit of lengthening in order to get to a bathroom I knew would be clean was 4 miles from home. So I toughed it out, made it a point to push extra hard on the last mile and when I could not take a step without seriously fearing a muscle pull, I stopped running and started walking. At least then I could get some text message updates on the game, though I had missed all but the last 3 minutes after spending 2 hours and 39 minutes in the sun, 2 minutes in the emergency room and 10 in a toilet at the Santa Monica ocean park, but we won, so I’m okay with it.

                Lessons learned: no more soda on nights before long runs, when stomach is being funny, pack extra fuel after funny tummy evenings, plan runs better, stay in the shade and get out early. This coming weekend I have to get in 17. I’m much more confident about it. And as a bonus, the Giants don’t play until 1pm, so I’m going to have all morning to get the miles in.

Finally one of my favorite running blogs is giving away a pair of Merrell Road Gloves, which I haven’t pre-ordered only because I don’t know how to pre-order them, but I have my cash in a wad waiting for these shoes to hit the store so I can own them and run the shit out of them because I love the trail gloves so much and I desperately want to love these shoes too. So click here and maybe you can win a pair so you don’t have to admit your shoe fantasies to your reader(s) http://www.runningandrambling.com/2012/01/merrell-road-glove-review-and-giveaway.html