Today's Mighty Oak

This week was unseasonably hot, and (I think we can all agree), just a dumb week, from work to personal lives, but hey, we survived!

  • Monday: Rest.
  • Tuesday: 7 miles. Tiny loops in the neighborhood.
  • Wednesday: 5 miles. Tiny loops in the neighborhood.
  • Thursday: Rest. This was supposed to be speedwork, but after 90 minutes and driving to three different tracks, I finally gave up (they were all either closed or so crowded I couldn’t park, nor would have I felt comfortable with that many people). I added the mileage to my Sunday run, and I’ll put the speedwork in Week 4 (which is a down week, but speedwork really is important).
  • Friday: Rest.
  • Saturday: 16 miles. Got to the trail early to beat the fishers, but and it was a good run!
  • Sunday: 14 miles. Ended up with an extra mile by mistake, but a good way to cap off the week. Was so incredibly foggy and humid that it felt and looked like I had run through a rainstorm, but it was just what was hanging in the air. Then the sun came out and baked me a bit. Was good to do a back to back, but I’m certainly sore from it.
  • BWF/Core work: Finished up the next mission of Zombies, Run!: Home Front. It feels like they’ve really gotten into the story at this point, so I’m enjoying it a lot!
  • Stretching: I did my stretching routine after every run!

First week with speedwork in this cycle, time to see how much speed I lost!

  • Monday: Rest.
  • Tuesday: 8 miles. A beautiful day and I was in Oakland, so I went to the park to do a combination of one of the Frontrunner loops and lots of fun and some winding through CMU and Pitt.
  • Wednesday: 5 miles. Tiny loops in the neighborhood.
  • Thursday: 6 miles. Remember how beautiful Tuesday was? This was speedwork at the track in the snow. Proud of myself for doing it, but man, what an April Fool’s day. VO2 max: 6x1000m, 5K pace. I’m actually a lot faster than I expected to be, and not nearly as slow as I was expecting. Still took a lot out of me, but I’m hopeful with the rest of this plan I can get back to where I was!
  • Friday: Rest.
  • Saturday: 15 miles. Ended up with an extra mile by mistake, but that’s okay. Was also the first day of trout season, so the stream (and parking areas) were full. I’m always happy people are getting outside and enjoying nature, so nice to see.
  • Sunday: 5 miles. Back to the track on Easter morning to do some loops as well as the first event in the 2021 Corndog League season: Thatch Hut Rabbit Habit: A 100m one-legged hop. So much harder than I expected, but I did wear a costume (bunny tail)!
  • BWF/Core work: I was in the middle of a Zombies, Run! Home Front mission when the app crashed, so I’ll have to pick that one back up.
  • Stretching: I did my stretching routine after every run!

One of my recurring posts.  Happy Easter!

The year that was. Well, you know. 2020. What I had been training for (Eagle Up) and all my tune up races (Get Lucky and O24) got cancelled, so what was supposed to be a 24 week training cycle, got extended to 36 weeks and I ended with the Pink Lightning 50K as the end goal of my training.

Pink Lightning is the running camp at Burning Man, and I hope to someday run this with them, but it was nice to do it as a fundraiser for their camp, even if we can’t all be in the dust together. It looks like it will once again be offered virtually this year, so I’ll be able to participate again, which is nice.


The aforementioned training plan was a combination of the 50 miles per week and 70 miles per week plans from Relentless Forward Progress, with the speedwork from a Pfitzinger half marathon plan built in as the workouts.

After O24 got delayed I took a week off, restarted in the middle, and eventually, when O24 was finally cancelled, decided to do a virtual 50 miler to cap off this year of training. I put together a plan to use my car as an aid station on the Westmoreland Heritage Trail. Going east was a ten mile out and back, going west was a five mile out and back. I put together a plan of four of the longer legs and two of the shorter ones and had a great spreadsheet (of course) of fueling, nutrition and gear to keep me on track.

I feel like I had finally, maybe not gotten used to, but at least better acclimated, to running in the summer heat. Of course the week of my virtual race, the weather turned extra hot, and the night before, a huge thunderstorm rolled through (more on that in a bit)

Miles 0-15

I got to the trailhead as it was still dark to get some miles in before the sun came up. As I was getting everything ready out of the trunk of my car, a runner came in from the western side and let me know that a tree had fallen across the trail on the eastern side, about a mile up, due to the storm the night before.

Well, that threw everything I had out the window and I had to adjust on the fly. It was a big defeat, and I decided to cut down to a 50K instead, still a good run (and the actual distance of Pink Lightning), but also because at this point in the year, I just did not have the mentals to deal with that kind of big wrench.

I ran out east to at least turn that side into a two mile out and back, and sure enough, a huge tree had fallen across the trail. I took a moment just to make sure that I really couldn’t go around it, and confirming that, began redoing all the math in my head. This now meant that this was a two mile out and back, and I knew if I ran past the original turn around on the western side, I could increase that to a six mile out and back (instead of five). This let me cobble together a new race, although it ended up just over 32 miles.

The day was hot, but I was (over) stocked on Tailwind, Gatorade, water and food. By this point, I had dialed in my fuel, and swapping between gels and Bobo’s bars for the first half the race, and I just ticked off miles. The day was humid as well, and there were a few other people on the trail, but generally it was pretty quiet, except when I ran past BY Park.

Miles 16-32

The second half of the run, as expected, brought some more walking breaks, and truthfully, more than I had hoped for, even if I had been running 50 miles. The mental break was a bit of a letdown, but honestly, it all felt okay for 2020.

The second half of a run like this, especially after mile 20 in the heat, is always a bit of a grab bag for what I’m going to want to eat or able to stomach. Thankfully, some Pringles and a Moonpie just hit the spot, were easy enough to get down and kept me going. I was actually very consistent through mile 25, but after that, the temperature, humidity and direct sunlight just zapped me.

As I was coming in from my last eastern out and back, I saw the crew of volunteers assembling with their chainsaws to take care of the fallen tree. By the time I finished my final western out and back, they were packing up and heading out, having opened up the trail. For a moment I thought about continuing on and changing it back to a 50 miler, but having already changed once, I was dialed in for that distance and decided to call it at 50K.

Final time, 6:18:04, 32.13 miles. Still missed by goal of a 6 hour 50K.

Why yes, I did come in fist place, in my corner of the Multiverse

Mental Health

This race seemed to be the embodiment of 2020, so I just had to roll with it. I’m certainly proud what I ran, but even more so for training and running over the summer, normally a season where I don’t, so that’s a huge win in my book.

I still have yet to hit my goal of a 6 hour 50K, which is disappointing, especially since this was after two (or maybe one and a half) training cycles. I surprised myself when I broke two hours in the half marathon, so I know this goal is possible, I’ll just keep working on it.

Looking forward

I’m finishing this as I start up my next training cycle, so it has been seven months since I ran this. Knowing everything that has happened, I wonder what was going through my mind about future goals and races. Plans, as we first lay them out, as well as hindsight, are always 20/20.

And, I’m back at it, and what a journey it has been. Even putting the global pandemic aside, after my running season last year, I took some time off after my last virtual race (Pink Lightning) and enjoyed some downtime. I was getting back into it, and ramping back up, when I got super, super sick (not COVID, at least but getting healthcare during a pandemic was an extra challenge).

That sidelined me completely for two months. After the new year, ice settled in, and that also held off my running (as I’m still not comfortable going back to a gym and ice and lightning are the two things I won’t run in/on), but I did what I could. As the weather broke, I increased my mileage and did what I could to get back up to a a decent (for me) number of miles per week.

Currently, there’s a lot against me: being sick for so long, the sudden temperature swing (except it might snow again on Thursday), sudden humidity, extremely high pollen count, and a busy work schedule. I’m also in the last week of a Phase 1 Clinical Trial, which is great science, but as such, is rough of me in terms of the amount of blood draws and tissue biopsies, so it leaves me a bit drained. But nothing is ever easy I suppose.

I have a race in mind over Labor Day Weekend. It’s really small, vaccinations should be widespread by then, so I should feel comfortable. I’m giving myself three weeks of this plan to see how I handle it after being out of practice so to speak, for so long, as well as to give me time to get past the last phase of this clinical trial. As well as these three weeks go well, I’ll sign up; and the idea of having something to train for, something to look forward to, is really appealing.

And truth be told, last week, my first week, went really well. I hit all my mileage (speedwork starts this week), did all my stretching, even got in a bodyweight workout. I did a really good job dialing in my food too, so now I just need to keep that up for the next 23 weeks.

I’m once again, because third time is the charm, doing my hybrid plan based off of RFP’s plans. I took the 50 and 70 miles per week plans, split the difference to make a 60 miles per week plan and added in the speedwork from a Pete Pfitzinger plan. I’ve certainly lost a lot of speed with my time off, but after the second day, I at least felt good about the volume, so I can work with that.

Aside from the goal race over Labor Day, I’m also looking at two tune up races, one would be a virtual race, the other would be an in-person point to point that looks like it lines up pretty well and is one I’ve wanted to do anyway, so as it gets closer, I’ll reevaluate safety levels and protocols.

That’s it for now, I’ll keep this updated as I figure things out and hopefully everything goes well!

I’ll have a longer post up soon about my state of running and what I’m potentially training for, but in the meantime, here’s my first week back on a training plan!

  • Monday: Rest.
  • Tuesday: 7 miles. Tiny loops.
  • Wednesday: 5 miles. Tiny loops in new shoes!
  • Thursday: 7 miles. Tiny loops in the rain with a friend!
  • Friday: Rest.
  • Saturday: 5 miles on a new trail! Hit up the Five Star trail in Greensburg on my way out to Ligonier. I parked at the Trolley Lane access and went north to the Route 30 underpass. Spoke with a cyclist after, he suggested going the other way for a more scenic view, so I may do that next!
  • Sunday: 12 miles. Glad to be back on the Westmoreland Heritage Trail. Was able to start my run in between the rain, although it really opened up on the way back, so the last five miles were really wet.
  • BWF/Core work: Zombies, Run! Home Front mission with Peter.
  • Stretching: I did my stretching routine after every run! Glad to be in the habit of doing it, it’s much needed.

I’m still working on my race report for Pink Lightning, I promise!

Alright. First up, here’s the roundup of Superbowl commercials. I loved the ones from GM, Paramount+ (even if we don’t need yet another streaming service), Bud Light lemons, Fivr, Klarna (just because Maya Rudoulph) and of course, the beautiful, beautiful, Michael B. Jordan for Alexa:

Clue, which had at one point been adapted into a comic series, is not becoming an animated show. We’ll have to see how this goes.

In politics, the GOP is spending its time, across the country, trying to restrict voting. Because that’s the only way they win (but they are very, very good at this, and this is a huge threat).

In exciting news, John Fetterman is running for Senate!

And lastly today, a new preview for The Nevers, which looks like a neat Victorian era Magicians, kind of. I’m excited for it!

Alright, let’s see what we have today. First up, with Mardi Gras parades cancelled, residents instead decorated their porches as floats, and they are amazing!

Pigments are fascinating and so complex. And to prove that, we have the first new shade of blue…in 200 years.

And speaking of things that are blue, a gemologist opened a rock and found a geode that looks like Cookie Monster!

We have a ton of work to do (pandemic, dismantling ICE, climate change, employment, racial inequity, the list goes on), but in some good news, President Biden signed the most substantive LGBT protections order ever. We still need to pass the Equality Act, but this is a great stop-gap.

Great news for the county, and sad news for those of us in PA, Dr. Rachel Levine has been tapped to join the administration as the Assistant Health Secretary!

Fun news: The USPS is partnering with Lucasfilm to do a set of stamps commemorating the droids of Star Wars!

Frightening news: Microsoft has patented a chatbot specifically used to recreate personalities, such as those of people who have died. I can see the therapeutic uses of this. But also, this could easily be exploited in so many bad ways.

That’s it for now, have a great one!

Alright, let’s see what we have today. First up, here’s your reminder that the Republicans are about to once again care about the national debt, and that 45 added over 8 Trillion to it (but they won’t care about that fact, it’s all hypocrisy).

On a much happier note, it’s the 35th anniversary of the movie Clue! Celebrate with these 10 quotes (and if you’ve seen it, yes, you know what is number one!).

Here’s the trailer for The Watch, the BBC show based on the City Watch books of the Discworld series:

Hey look, it only took a global pandemic, but I may be able to donate blood in a year or two!

I got sucked in and loved watching Bridgerton, and it really does live up to it’s reputation as ‘horny Downton Abbey’:

More savagrey from the administration, and look for more of this tactic, especially from the states, in the future: using “religious liberty” as an acceptable way to discriminate.

And finally, the latest WandaVision trailer looks bonkers and wild and I cannot wait:

I’m actually not one for new year’s resolutions. Typically I set out some very manageable goals for me at my birthday, and work on those for the year. So what did I do this year? Set new year’s resolutions.

To be fair, last year I had a new year’s resolution to update my wardrobe and (to steal from Thug Kitchen Bad Manners), dress like I give a fuck. It went well, and I’m generally really happy with what I did, so let’s apply that to this year!

Anyway, here’s what I’ve been working on:

Read more books

I read a lot, but feel like I’ve fell behind that a bit lately, so I set out to read at least seven books this year. Modest, I know, but with everything else going on, and an ever-growing pile on my nightstand, this seemed like a good place to start. Here’s what I finished:

  • Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore. The second book in the death series (after A Dirty Job), such a fantastic time!
  • The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis. I enjoyed this a lot, and the ebook that I borrowed from the library had a short afterword by the author, as well as the ‘Toast’ from Screwtape.
  • Alice Isn’t Dead by Joseph Fink. This expanded on the podcast of the same name, both of which are highly recommended!
  • Queer x Design by Andy Campbell. Amazing book about the history of queer design, highly recommended!
  • The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited. Book two of the Balance Arc of the podcast, brought to life as graphic novels.
  • hello mr., Volumes 7, 8, 9, 10. Literary journal about queer men, consistently some of the best writing in print, and a shame that it’s no longer in production.
  • Naturally Tan by Tan France. A deep dive into Tan’s life and work, a fun read that showed me a different side of the Queer Eye star.
  • Hamilton: The Revolution. Book about the creation of Hamilton, including a full script with notes from LMM.
  • The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Kramer. A book about the character from Welcome to Nightvale involving pirates, spies and revenge.
  • The Power by Naomi Alderman. The story of the women who have the power to destroy the world.
  • Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh. A reread for me, but I had forgotten how poignant and good this book is!
  • Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh. Her next book, just as fun as the first.
  • The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. I reread this so I could discuss it with a friend, and I as reminded why it’s easily one of my favorite books of all time.
  • Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix. Murder in a haunted Ohio IKEA competitor, just wonderful.

Other books and audio books

So, I’m not counting audio books for this challenge (hot take: it’s not actually reading. Not saying it’s not great, it’s just something else), or a couple other books that didn’t really require much reading:

  • The Little Blue Kite by Mark Z. Danielewski. As recommended by the author, I read it through three times, each time following a different path (but it’s a really short book).
  • Coincidences at Museums by Stefan Draschan. A wonderful little book of photography at my uncle and aunt’s house.
  • The Infinite Noise by Lauren Shippen. Audio book based on the podcast, listened to during my long runs.
  • Vodou by Manuela Dunn Mascetti. Short little book.
  • Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow.: Quick-fix recipes for Hangry Athletes by Shalane Flanagan and Elyse Kopecky. Some great recipes, but like any cookbook, many I won’t make. But some great running and racing content in there as well!
  • Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John. A series of meditations on the writings of John.
  • The Book of Blessings. Small book about Tibetan prayer flags.
  • The Book of Urizen by William Blake. Small textbook that was mentioned in Origins so I decided to give it a quick reread.
  • Firefly: The Sting by Deliah S. Dawson. Graphic novel about the women of Firefly/Serenity.
  • Vox Machina Origins Volume II by Matthew Mercer. Graphic novel about the Twitch/Youtube show

Clean spaces

In a general sense of decluttering and cleaning, I’d like to clean ororganize 12 small spaces, one a month. These are things like closets, bookshelves, dressers, etc. I have too much stuff, and it’s time to do some purging!

  • Dressers in my guest room
  • Filing cabinet in my office
  • Nightstands in my bedroom
  • Glove box
  • Desk
  • Organized office bookshelves
  • Cleaned office closet
  • Cleaned and organized laundry room
  • Organized hall closet
  • Scrub kitchen counters (bigger deal than it seems, finally found the right combination of cleaners to get them really clean!)
  • Cleaned cable totes (random computer/electronic cables)
  • Garage shelves
  • Camping/Burn/Relay race totes

Buy more music

So, I get in the habit of hearing new music that I like, identifying it, and then not actually buying it. So I’m making an effort this year to put together a playlist throughout the year:

  • The Times They Are A-Changin’ by Fort Nowhere
  • Julie-O by Kevin Olusola
  • Arsonist’s Lullabye by Hozier
  • Calvary by Mashrou’ Leila
  • Dreamboy (album) by Dan Terry
  • Hiroshima by Ben Folds
  • Your Turn to Roll (Critical Roll theme song)
  • Take Me Away by Barefoot McCoy
  • Precious Love by James Morrison
  • Dreamboy main theme by Dane Terry
  • Hallelujah by Panic! At The Disco
  • Be Me by VINCINT
  • All Rode off Together by Meeting of Important People
  • Caution by The Killers
  • Reasons I Drink by Alanis Morissette
  • Simply the Best (From Schitt’s Creek) by Noah Reid

This goal took a bit of a backseat after Google Play Music closed, and now I’m at a loss of where to buy music from if I don’t want to use iTunes (and not stream). Any ideas?

Diversify meals for game nights

My last goal for the year is to make something different each time I host a game day. I’ve fallen into a lot of the same things, and I’d like to expand a bit, so the goal is to not repeat over the course of the year:

  • January: Broccoli and chickpea tacos (Thug Kitchen Bad Manners)
  • February: Curry Slurry (poorly named from The Lactose Free Cookbook)
  • And then we didn’t have any more in person games due to the global pandemic. Will try this again when we can meet up again in person!

Well, I’d say I was successful! The trick for me is to set reasonable and attainable goals, then I gain momentum to do more! (Side note, just surviving this year is enough. Don’t let anyone tell you differently).

I have some ideas for what I’ll be working on in 2021, including a lot of cleaning those same spaces again! I also have some digital cleanup to do, and am hoping to knock out some TV and movies I want to catch up on, as well as restart an epic fantasy book series.

Here’s to a great year!

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