A Simple Running Log

January 14, 2013

Training for 1/14/13

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 6:22 pm

What an awesome weekend.

I used to hate January. Nothing fun or exciting happened in January, and it was cold and gray and miserable. The holidays were over, I was stuck in the house and I still had more than a month until the next NASCAR season finally began.

While it is still cold (most of the time), January is no longer the miserable black hole of a suckfest it once was, thanks to two new interests I’ve developed over the past few years, running and the NFL.

Running keeps me sane in the winter, particularly training for the Shamrock Marathon, which always falls around the first weekend of spring. The daily workouts, which get progressively longer and tougher through January and February, provide a way to make the days count, rather than just counting the days.

Running also led me to discover technical fabrics that make it possible to get outside on a daily basis, even when it’s snowing or just so cold I otherwise wouldn’t have even considered leaving the house. I don’t get cabin fever, and I don’t get sick either. Contrary to popular belief, cold air isn’t any germier than warm air. People get sick more often in the winter because they stay cooped up inside together a lot more, and share a lot more germs.

And wet hair on a cold day most definitely doesn’t make you sick. I sweat so much, even in the winter, I’d be sick every day if that was true.

Then there’s the NFL. I did not grow up in a football family. We didn’t have a local team until 1996, when the Browns moved to Baltimore and became the Ravens, and by then I was way too entrenched in NASCAR to give a crap about stupid football games. I barely remember the Ravens winning their first Super Bowl in 2001.

I started dating Clark in 2004. He’s a longtime Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Sometimes I’d watch games with him. Eventually, I started learning about the game. It wasn’t so stupid anymore once I understood it. (By the way, that didn’t work with baseball — I’ve tried to watch those games with Clark too, and I still think baseball is the slowest, most boring thing to watch on the planet. I couldn’t have cared less when the Orioles actually made it to the playoffs this past fall.)

Clark would always ask me if I’d picked a team. I settled on the Ravens. It made sense, being from Maryland and all. (Clark is from Maryland too, obviously, but he picked the Steelers long before we had the Ravens.) Even better, the Ravens are the Steelers’ sworn enemies. Clark is a Jeff Gordon fan, so we already had a history of rooting against each other while watching NASCAR. Why not keep it going with football?

Thanks to our friend Mike, I’ve gotten to go to a couple of live Ravens games in Baltimore, which, just like my first live NASCAR race in 1992, made me love it that much more. (Again, the same didn’t hold true for the live baseball games I’ve attended in Baltimore, Pittsburgh and L.A. Boooooorrrrriiiiiinnnnnnggggg.)

The past couple of years in particular, I’ve really enjoyed watching football and having a team to cheer for, and not just because it conveniently fills in most of the NASCAR off-season, either.

Which brings me to this weekend. The Ravens made it to the playoffs again this year. They won their wildcard game against the Indianapolis Colts last weekend, and advanced to the divisional game this past Saturday against the heavily favored Denver Broncos.

Saturday morning, I ran a lap around my 7.2-mile loop at goal marathon pace. We got a bit of a warm front, and it was just barely warm enough for shorts and a long-sleeved T-shirt. I ran the loop in 55:48, a 7:45/mile average pace.

After my run, I baked three dozen sugar cookies and a dozen banana-oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies, for a Ravens game party at my brother’s house that afternoon.

Clark and I got to Dave’s house not long before kickoff. On the first drive of the game, the Ravens didn’t accomplish anything, going three and out. They punted to the Broncos, who returned it 90 yards for a touchdown the very first time they touched the ball.

Yikes. It wasn’t looking good for the Ravens! Clark’s dad later said Clark’s mom got so mad she turned off the TV, barely a couple of minutes into the game.

We left it on at Dave’s house though, and I’m glad we did. The Broncos would make big plays, and the Denver crowd would go nuts, but the Ravens kept coming right back at them and shutting up the crowd. They were tied at the end of every quarter.

Nearing the end of the fourth quarter though, the Ravens were down by a touchdown. After years of suffering as a Bobby Labonte fan (who hasn’t won a race in nine years!), I was already accepting the inevitable. I sank farther and farther into the couch until I’d practically slid off of it.

Clark said to me, “Remember where you are. You’re about to see history be made.” He said he just had a feeling the Ravens were about to pull it off. Oh, whatever. I’m about to see the Ravens’ season end. I just figured he was drunk.

But then, Joe Flacco heaved the ball 70 yards down field, right into the waiting hands of Jacoby Jones, who neatly ran it in for a touchdown. The point after was good, tying the game in the final seconds and sending it into overtime!

WHAT.

The living room at my brother’s house exploded! Screaming, jumping, hugging, high-fiving. I don’t know how nothing got broken! Even Clark, the world’s worst Steelers fan/world’s greatest football psychic, was pumped.

We still had to score in overtime to win though. We all settled down and crossed our fingers, hoping for another miracle.

When Peyton Manning threw his second interception of the game to Corey Graham, we started screaming again. When Ray Rice gained enough yards on a running play to get the kicker within field goal range, we jumped out of our seats. When Justin Tucker drilled it, giving the Ravens a win in double overtime over the Broncos, pandemonium ensued!

Two days later, I can’t stop smiling about that game. This is why people love sports. Sports don’t serve a purpose the way researching cancer cures does, but they sure are fun to watch. Especially when your favorite team wins, haha.

We stayed at Dave’s house long enough to watch the 49ers beat the Packers in the second game, and then stayed even longer. It was after 2 a.m. when Clark and I finally left.

We didn’t go home though. We went to my parents’ house. We drove down to the woods to toss out our Christmas tree, and then we went back up in the yard. Clark got five gallons of non-ethanol gas from my uncle’s gas tank (he paid for it!), for his ’69 Camaro, which he wants to get running again. We also dug out of the barn my authentic sheet metal from one of Bobby Labonte’s race cars. It’s been in there since I got it in 2003.

We were crashing around in the barn for quite a while. The truck was running the whole time, with the headlights on, shining toward the house. I kept expecting my dad to come out to see what the hell was going on, but we apparently never woke up anyone. Bandit didn’t bark at us either, or even come down to the yard to see what we were up to! Some watchdog.

It was after 3 a.m. when we got home. I went straight to bed.

Yesterday morning, I got up around 10:30 and ate some breakfast. I was supposed to run a 14-miler.

It was past noon when I finally left the house. It felt colder yesterday than it had Saturday, so I wore capris instead of shorts, which annoyed me. I thought it was supposed to be warmer.

Usually, running too late in the day throws me off, but not yesterday, probably because I went to bed so late that noon felt like 8 a.m. The run actually went pretty well. I felt great overall, but I had to stop in the woods twice. I expected that though, because of all the junk I ate and beer I drank at my brother’s house the day before. I finished my 14.5-mile loop in 2:00:45, an 8:19/mile average.

After I got home, I spent the rest of the day watching the second half of the Seahawks-Falcons game, which got pretty exciting in the second half, and the Patriots-Texans game. It hasn’t been that long since I never would have considered spending an entire afternoon watching football, let alone caring about or enjoying it.

This morning, I ran an easy lap around my 4.5-mile loop first thing. It had rained early this morning, but it stopped the whole time I was running. The sun was even peeking out of the clouds when I first left the house, and there was a huge rainbow over the field right across the road.

After breakfast, I did my strength training upstairs — abs, push-ups, invisible chair-sitting, weights and stretching.

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