Friday, June 30, 2006


What would you do...


...if you were asked to stand up in a wedding scheduled for 4PM the same day you are to run your first marathon?

UPDATE 7/8:  I finaly got a hold of the groom yesterday and told him that I wouldn't be able to participate in (or attend) the wedding.  He was cool about it.  We're going to get together later this summer and barbeque.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Busy Weekend

This was a busy weekend...

Thursday night I went with Jay to the Liquor Stop in Highland, Indiana.

My objective was the purchase of Arrogant Bastard, a terrific beer not available in Chicago.  I was pleased to acquire several bottles.

We then drove to nearby Three Floyds Brewery for dinner and drinks in their brewpub.  Great food and beer in a bizarre, out-of-the-way location.

Friday night Shea came to town and we ran four miles at a 8:30/mile pace, which for me was a new short-distance PR.

After a shower and a beer on the back porch I went to Delilah's with Justyna, Shea, Michelle and Sarah.  There was much enjoyment of whiskey, Strongbow, and (especially) Manhattans.  We closed the place down, and I even shot a decent game of pool for once.

(I have a funny video of some drunken antics in the back of my car, but to protect the innocent I'm not going to post it.)

Saturday I went with Justyna and Shea to the Intonation Music Festival.  The weather was perfect.  For two days we sat out on the grass and heard some great bands, including Chromeo, Lady Sovereign, Roky Erickson (a very rare performance), The Stills, Dead Prez ("DPZ"), The Streets, and Bloc Party.

Here's a picture of us waiting for Lady Sovereign to come on stage.  She gave one of the best performances of the weekend.

I got to experience a few great bands that I had never heard of, such as the Boredoms (a "Japanoise" group).  I also liked either Robert Pollard or Jon Brion, though now I can't remember which.

On Sunday morning, before heading back to Intonation, I went on my first official marathon training long run.  I've decided to train at a 9:30/mile pace.  My new pace group is, unfortunately, a bit boring -- it was tough getting these people to socialize.  Hopefully these people will open up a bit once we start going longer distances.  I miss my old group!  But they are training at a slower speed on a different day.

Monday I called in sick.  It just had to be.

Tuesday night, instead of meeting with my Gumballhead running group, I went out on my own and ran 3.3 miles in 28 minutes.  Perhaps 8:30/mile will be my new short-distance pace.  Gosh, can you just imagine how smug I would be if I could run the marathon at that speed?

OK, back to reality now.  Have a good week, everybody.  Keep on running!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Josh's "I Feel Fat" workout

Yesterday was the kickoff workout to my 18 week training period for the Chicago Marathon.  Here we go!  (cue fanfare)

My plan is to train hard, live right, and generally take care of myself straight through to October 22.  After that, I can watch TV and eat Ho-Ho's.

Unfortunately, not every good plan works out right from the start.

You see, for reasons buried deep in my psyche I chose to overeat at lunch yesterday, and then go right to bed.  Not the best prelude to my first run in nearly a week; I woke up feeling fat.

Fortunately, last night's run was with Jay, so anything less than a full workout would have let us both down.  So I puttered along, starting at a slow pace while the pork chop bounced around my stomach.

In the end, I managed 5.8 miles at a 9:46/mile pace, though I did sweat a bit more than usual.

Lesson learned.

Today my mom is taking me to Fleet Feet for a gait analysis and some training shoes.  Thanks, mom!  She's also taking me out to lunch, where I plan on having a salad or something like that.

Friday, June 16, 2006


Chicago Running Blog Family "CRU"

Chicago runner bloggers at Goose Island

These are the pictures I uploaded right from the restaurant, so I would be the first one to post about the debut get-together of the Chicago runner-bloggers CRU.  Yes, I am a geek.  (And I also like Buffy the Vampire Slayer.)

I took a video, where you can see OOSG, Running Jayhawk, Jason and Leah discussing Alf.  Also in attendance were Dawnie, Frank, and tmt4TNT and her support crew Jacob.

It was really great the meet the people behind my favorite runner blogs.  But now I'm way too tired and full of beer say anything about it.

And I have to get to bed, becuase my marathon training officially begins in just a few hours from now.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Running/Consumer Stats


Here are my latest personal stats..

Number of recent expensive gadget purchases:2
Checking Account Balance:$0
Half Marathon Pace:9:19/mile
Leg Muscles:still a little tender

So it seems I can run a little bit faster than I thought I could, but only if I allow myself several days to heal.  I'm going to finaly get out tonight for a recovery run.

Meanwhile I've been engaging in some healing consumer therapy.  I'm going to need every last overtime dollar to pay for my recent indulgent purchases, though I can't say I have buyer's regret.  I got some good deals on things I wanted.

My new SanDisk Sansa e270 mp3 player arrived in the mail yesterday and I am thrilled with my "iPod killer."

Geek info: 6GB flash memory, mp3/wma music ("plays-for-sure" compatable, screw you iTunes), color screen, video playback, FM radio, music/voice recorder

I can't help but brag about my new mp3 player, because it will be the last major consumer purchase I will be able to afford for quite a while.  The huge 6GB memory can accomodate a marathon's worth of tunes, which may force me to finaly decide just what kind of music I like anyway.

I'm thinking about maybe Tom Waits for tonight's recovery run.

Monday, June 12, 2006


Northshore Half Marathon


Yesterday I ran my first half marathon.

Here is the route:

This was my first real road race since the Shamrock Shuffle and is what I'd been training for the past three months.

Overall I did better than expected, though the going was tough the entire way.

30 minutes before start time.  Shea provided us both with some inspiring warmup music.

We didn't start together and I saw Shea only once during the race, as he was passing me at mile 2.  

For Shea it would end up being a very challenging day.

1600 people showed up, many of whom were excellent runners.  I started in the front 1/3 of the pack to avoid any bottleneck at the starting line, but none of the faster runners shoved me or cut me off (unlike at Shamrock).  I would also like to point out, for what it's worth, that I have never in my life seen such patient and polite lines for the port-o-potties.

Mile:  1
Pace:  7:56

Typical for my lack of discipline, I started out at a brisk pace.  I don't know what made me think I could keep up with all the Boston Marathon alums and other serious runner types, but I gave it my all.  Being passed by people is never fun.  (I would be passed by people until at least mile 7.)

I was struck by the tranquility of this suburban course.  Especially early in the race, when there were no cars and few spectators along the route.

Mile:  3
Pace:  9:28

After a couple of miles I came to my senses and settled into a comfortable nine and a half minute pace.  I had trained to run this race at a 10:00-10:30 pace, but those plans fell away when I was faced with an intimidating crowd and my own overconfidence.

My new goal was to finish the race in under two hours.

Mile:  9
Pace:  8:59

The big hill the race promoters warned us about ended up not being that big a deal, and may have even provided some relief to my overworked leg muscles by temporarily re-focusing the stress on different muscles.  But all the turns of the course around residential neighborhoods were unwelcome distractions, serving to remind me how far I still had to go.  A straighter course would have allowed me to zone out better.

Jeanne took this picture just as I was starting to realize that the last few miles were going to be difficult.  My motivation was slipping, my quads were screaming with pain, and the Cliff Shot I had carefully divided into three portions hit my stomach like a rock.

Jeanne's cheering helped just when I was starting to wonder what in the hell I was doing out there.

Mile:  11
Pace:  9:21

The woman I had been pacing behind for six miles finaly fell away and I was on my own.

I tried to sprint, but my legs wouldn't budge.

C'mon, damn it!

Saw a number of injured runners fall by the wayside and a couple of bicycle collisions.

I tried to slow down at one point, but running slower made the pain more intense.  So, unable to sprint or rest, I maintained a steady pace.

This was the only part of the race where I passed people by.  Everyone appeared to be in some kind of pain.

Mile:  13
Pace:  8:37

My goal of finishing in under two hours was frustratingly in sight... IF ONLY I COULD FUCKING SPRINT!

But my legs, finaly fed up with the oppressive instructions from my brain, took over and would not respond to my commands.

I did manage to pickup the pace a bit, but it wasn't enough.

It was when I reached the rubberized track for the final lap that I realized I would just barely miss my goal of finishing in under 2:00.

Unofficial Time:  2:02

Now I know what some of you are thinking: "Isn't 2:02 pretty much the same thing as 2:00?"

No, it's not.  Not when it's the goal itself that keeps you going.

Overall, however, I was extremely pleased with my performance.  When I started training for this race I never in my wildest dreams thought I would do so well.  And as an added ego boost, many of the runners with whom I originally trained in the CARA program finished at least 20 minutes behind me.

Now I have a new goal: run the distance at 9:30/mile or better and still have something left over for the end.  Few people run their first marathon in under 4 hours, but I'm going to try at the Chicago Marathon in the fall.  Yesterday's race did not make me any less stubborn.  I have learned nothing.

Aaah, sweet pain!

I finaly took my first ice bath.

Justyna's cosmopolitan helped with the shock of getting into the icy water.  Once submerged I felt quite comfortable.

Later that night myself, Shea, and Justyna enjoyed dinner at Wildfire, followed by more drinks and cigars at Sheffields.


After we dropped Shea off, I returned home for one hour of sleep before having to go into work early to cover for a co-worker.

As I type this my shift is nearly half over.  I can't wait to go home later this morning and take another ice bath.

Acknowledgements:  Thanks to Shea for being such a great role model, to Jeanne for her photographs and enthusiastic cheering, and to Justyna for everything (including the best pancakes).


My official time was 2:01:57 (9:19/mile pace).

As of 5AM Tuesday morning it still hurts to sit down or descend stairs.  But I successfully took a couple of short bike rides this morning, and that helped.  Getting a combined afternoon/evening total of 9 hours of sleep yesterday didn't hurt either.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


First Job


When I was 16 I operated the Tilt-A-Whirl and a number of other rides at Kiddieland in Melrose Park, Illinois.  It was a great first job, even if I was too troubled and immature to realize it most of the time.

So many memories...

There's nothing like one's first job, is there?

I would love to hear if any of my readers remember their first jobs.  Please share in the comments.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Tapering Off


I've been shortening my runs lately as I taper off in preparation for the North Shore Half Marathon this Sunday.  I have one more short run this week and then I'm going to take it easy for a couple of days.

Last night I had a pleasant run through Lincoln Park with Jay.  I averaged a comfortable 9:24/mile pace and didn't hurt at all the next day.  Short runs like this really make me appreciate how far I've come since I started running in the spring.  My breathing is easy now, my stride consistent, and my posture correct.  Distances don't frighten me anymore and I'm starting to pick up speed.

I'm excited about this weekend's race.  Shea will also be running and I believe we will both set new PR's.

Monday, June 05, 2006


Bloody Mary Review: Charlie's Ale House


This morning I will inaugurate a new feature in Full Metal Lunchbox: the Bloody Mary Review.  

Today will be the first in an occasional series of reviews on what I like to think of as the cocktail of choice for today's runner-drinker: the bloody mary.

Ah, vodka and tomato juice.  Much like the chocolate and peanut butter-like substance in a Reces Peanut Butter Cup, they are two tastes that go great together.  Each ingredient serves a purpose:

**  tomato juice to stregthen the immune system

**  vodka to kill the pain

**  vegetables to treat dietary guilt complex

**  fatty meat for winter body insulation (optional)

**  seasonings to control midwest lameass symdrome

**  worcester sauce for Queen & Country

**  hot sauce because you are a bad motherfugger!

Our first Bloody Mary Review will be of Charlie's Ale House

Charlie's Ale House is a Chicago-area chain of bars that attempts to re-create the atmosphere of a turn-of-the-century saloon.  With branches in such disparate locations as Wheaton, Andersonville, Munster Indiana, and Suburban Tourist ("Navy") Pier, Charlie's is trying to develop a cross-market appeal for their themed atmosphere and menu of comfort food.

But how is their bloody mary?

Pretty darned good, actually!

Justyna took me to the Andersonville location and treated me to the Grey Goose option.  <funny anecdote>When the waiter brought us three glasses of ice water, I assumed we got one extra becuase it was a warm day.  Imagine the look on my face when I took a sip from one of the glasses to discover that it was entirely filled with vodka!</funny anecdote>  Yes, the very extensive bloody mary bar at Charlie's leaves everything to the customer, and I had a great time building my beverage from the ground up.

The bloody mary bar at Charlie's had all the ingredients one would need to construct a kickass breakfast cocktail, including a bunch I had never seen before.  For example, they had more spices on hand than I have in my spice rack at home, and more hot sauces than Shea has in his refridgerator.  My favorite option was the availability of actual tomato juice as an alternative to bloody mary mixes (of which they also have several on hand).

Lunchbox Rating:

Thursday, June 01, 2006


Josh's Run to the Border Far Southeast Side Crazy Fun Jog


Alright, let's get back to the topic everyone cares about: running around.

For a change of scenery I departed the lakefront path and ran southeast.  Destination: Indiana.

It was a stupid plan.  Since I would be running almost entirely on city streets I couldn't necessarily expect water stops or consistently level running surfaces.  I didn't always know where I was going, either.  But everything turned out alright and I had a lot of fun running through some of Chicago's strangest neighborhoods.

Staring Point:  7628 S Essex Ave
Turnaround Point:  service station at 108th & Indianapolis Blvd, Hammond
Final Destination: 103rd & Stony Island bus terminal
Total Distance: 9 miles
Time: 1:34:07
Pace: 10:27/mile

The highlight of my adventure was at the service station in Indiana where I finaly took a water break after 5 miles.  An old lady approached me while I was waiting in line and said, "I just saw you run by my house!"  It turns out she lives a few blocks from me and saw me run right past her front door, just before she hopped in the car to drive to Indiana for cigarettes and candy.  My 10:27/mile pace wasn't very fast, but I did manage to beat out a car traveling about the same distance!

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