Sprouting New Thoughts

The following is an account (and the subsequent letter sent to customer service) of a recent trip to my local grocer, Sprouts.

Yesterday, as I often do on the way home from the office, I dropped by my favorite grocer to grab some produce items for dinner—quinoa salad with tomato, cucumber, red and orange bell peppers topped with a light chipotle cheddar dressing. As a result of being a single male with a halfway health conscious appetite and a mostly barren refrigerator, I’m sure you can imagine I embark on this adventure regularly, almost daily. I imagine in a perfect world I’d have a garden—that someone else mends—to provide all the freshest, vine ripened produce I could ever want. Until it gets that cold in Arizona and elsewhere I guess I’ll just have to count on Sprouts. Or, I wanted to just count on Sprouts.

Apologies, I got lost somewhere between Vanilla Sky and What Dreams May Come, back on point. I saunter in (might have swaggered actually) and jump into my usual routine; hand basket, produce aisle, squeezing melons, and finally grabbing some peppers and cucumbers—the English seedless variety, I’m down with GMO when the benefit is so obvious. Oh I almost forgot, beer too. You see, in addition to the fine produce and $3 lunch sandwiches, Sprouts’ fine selection of delicious hops and grains is the second (oh let’s not kid ourselves, it’s the first) reason I choose to come here. Ok, sometimes I feel like I’m going to get mugged or herpes if I go to the other grocer that sounds like what you order with your burger across the street but that’s third on the list. Anyway, I hope you can feel the love and admiration here.

There I am watching the sweet girl ring up my peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes and beer—I went with a nice porter—and as I’m swiping my debit card I notice something seemingly out of place. Glance to the deli counter, back at the bagger—paper of course as it provides me some false sense of environmental consciously aware do good fuzzy butterfly feelings—and then back at the miniature bear of a dog with its owner at the deli counter.

Now, if I were a dog I would surely love to continue to make my almost daily stops into Sprouts. What dog wouldn’t? Maybe if that ever becomes the case you could start carrying some pickled cat paws on the meat counter? I know it’s silly to think I’ll ever truly be a dog, at least in the most literal interpretation of the word, which is why I find it silly to even spot this creature inside your store.  I assure you I had not started drinking (that much) yet so I’m pretty sure this wasn’t a vision. Besides, who has visions of dogs? If it were a vision I’d absolutely hope it was a bit more majestic than a labradoodle or cockapoo or whatever boutique mixed bred mutt du jour it was.

Back to the sweet girl checking me out while I’m running my card—I run it before checkout is complete so as to speed up the process, I’m that cognizant of others’ time—and my inquiry, “are dogs even allowed in stores?”. I probably should have started with confirmation first, “am I seeing a dog or is that just a vision of a not so majestic creature over there” and then moved into my original question after affirmation of said creature of non-majestic stature and being. She kindly informed me that dogs were not allowed in the store and it was, in fact, against store policy.

But then everyone just stood there, staring. Did they want me to inform this person of Sprouts’ policy towards animals? As an aside, this was not a service dog, I know this because it had neither cape nor white collar, neither robe nor vest and it certainly wasn’t carrying anyone’s cane or luggage. There we are, all staring at dog and owner. I get it; the deli counter employee would inform them of the policy. That only makes sense because the dog is sitting there with his paws on the counter. Staring, watching, anticipating, waiting; they write down her order and I can only assume the dog’s order as well. If I were a dog ordering at the deli counter I’d probably go turkey and bacon with extra mayo, extra bacon, hold the sprouts and onions, and Gouda on whole wheat.  But I’m not a dog standing at the deli counter nor should I ever be.

Nobody said or did anything! I’m perplexed and dumbfounded. You see at my place of business it’s against policy for people to work in their underwear. Once someone showed up in their underwear and we had to, sadly, inform them that they had to leave and go put clothes on. Nobody wanted to do it but you see that’s the thing with policies (and you know, those pesky health codes), if they aren’t enforced then just do away with them. Maybe I just missed something and “Dogs Welcomed” is the new store policy and you forgot to put a sign up and inform the staff? If that’s the simple explanation here then you have my most sincere apologies for the misunderstanding.

I’ll see you tomorrow on my way home, in my underwear, with my dog.

The Wild Side

Contained herein one shall find another severely awesome race report, this time of my adventures during The Boston Marathon.   In all honesty there’s been a lot of adventures leading up to, during and for a while, following The Boston Marathon but in my ever gracious ways I’ll once again spare you from boring, mediocrity overload. Plus, I’m just too lazy to detail that much right now.

But before we take a walk on the (Boston Marathon) wild side, there’s a few updates I know you’re salivating to hear.

  • I successfully finished my 30 Days, 0 Cah (Boston is still with me) challenge. What made it successful? I didn’t die from not showered, mustard gas toxic, body odor poisoning on the bus, nor did I get hit by any cahs.
  • After no vehicle I felt like something was missing, I needed another challenge like an addict needs their pipe. To fix this I sold my TV and joined the elitist, smug group of no TV people that will go out of their way to make you feel bad for watching your TV. Stay tuned but don’t ask me “did you see…on tv?”, the answer is most likely NO.
  • Probably a whole host of other things you don’t really care about that I don’t really care about you not caring about.

On to the awesomeness that is The Boston Marathon Race Report:

Who the hell starts a marathon at 10am? Seriously, that’s a long time to wait and forces one to eat three or four breakfasts until it’s finally time to start running. I’m guessing the person that decided on that start time really liked breakfast. Can’t say I blame them.eggs

Getting to the starting line from downtown is a whole mess of a logistical nightmare but ends up orchestrated fairly well. There’s a T (mass transit good for spreading communicable diseases throughout Boston) ride to Boston Common followed by what seemingly takes forever (45 minute) bus ride to Athlete’s Village. The whole way I’m thinking “This bus drives faster than I run, why is it taking longer to drive the marathon route than to run it? Maybe they screwed up the starting point and it’s a 100 miler?”.

Finally, three moons later you arrive at Athlete’s Village and have the pleasure of sitting around for another moon and a half. Just a suggestion, live band would be nice for entertainment. This wasn’t so bad though as there were plenty of super weird runners to watch all over the place. And I thought triathletes were odd ducks!

After sitting two eternities it’s finally time to walk to the start and load your corral. The added distance of this walk officially makes The Boston Marathon an ultra distance event, I’m buying an ultra sticker to go next to my 5k, 10k, 26.2, and 1/2IM stickers.  I found one that says “Ultra runners do it longer and dirtier”, seemed fitting. The corralling of the runners was actually pretty dang efficient and easy and for that I want to send a special, heartfelt “Thank You!” to Temple Grandin, she obviously played a role here.

temple

Temple is a looker. Hubba Hubba!

The run itself was awesome, frustrating, annoying, amazing, painful, awesome, dizzying, memory fuzzing and amazingly awesome. If you want to actually read the details you can do so here. I knew the people of Boston would be out in force but I never knew how much they’d make you feel like a rock star. When was the last time you ever had someone congratulate you after a race that wasn’t a family member or a friend (that you didn’t win, smart guy) let alone shake your hand, thank you for running “our race” and then buy you a beer? Yeah, that awesome!

After the race I visited some awesome ladies that had set up a post party tent just off the finish line and got some VIP treatment. Seriously, one more shout out to those amazing gals and their skills, wowser! You can read more about that in my details linked above.

One final thought, all joking aside I have to say this was easily one of the most amazing experiences of my life. The people of New England were absolutely the best and I couldn’t help feeling proud to be an American.

race

Running will set you FREE! Marquee RR

This past Sunday I ran the 10k portion of the Lifetime Marquee Triathlon. Team “Whale Oil Beef Hooked” (say it out loud, fast) took 4th overall, 3rd in group. Knowing that everyone loves a boring, drawn out, self indulgent, race report I will not keep you waiting. Cue the music:

 

Pre-race routine:

Thanks to family coming into town and being the designated airport cabbie picker upper dude I got to bed at midnight. Being the designated race morning awesome guy that wants to hang out and bring coffee to awesome people (  sorry dudes, ladies only) I woke up at 4:30am. Solid night of sleep! Nailed a solid pre race nutritious dinner Saturday night consisting of chicken and ice cream; seconds on the ice cream.

Event warmup:

Sprinted (in my car) to Starbucks only to find the manager of Starbucks completely botched their event morning routine and DNS’d. Sprinted to another Starbucks, PR’d the ordering and was on way. Hung out for 17 hours while waiting for my run. Warmed up by glaring at the other relay team runners in an effort to persuade them to DNF. May have worked on one young child.

RUN
  • 37m 57s
  • 6.2 miles
  • 06m 07s  min/mile
Comments:

Ran. Reary fast. Tried running faster. Wasn’t having it. Crossed the finish line and melted.

What would you do differently?:

Run faster. Glare at competition harder and longer.

POST RACE
Warm down:

Broke my no beer promise, drank beers with awesome teammates, Team #Zoot. Waited 1,276 hours for awards ceremony.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Leg turnover. Solar flares. Possible on course abduction.

Event comments:

Awesome event. Great announcers. The best volunteers. Most amazing team(s).

TeamZoot

#TeamZoot

Whale Oil Beef Hooked

Team Whale Oil Beef Hooked

Dude, where’s my car?

Plenty of people tackle the daily challenges of life without a vehicle, although often times in cities with a transit system much more supporting of such an endeavor.  Regardless, it’s an adventure I intend to embrace soon, if for nothing more than an experiment in what we think we cannot do without.nocar

I first started toying with the idea of going car-less a few months ago and admittedly, at first thought it seemed a little daunting. I mean, how would you get stuff done? The Phoenix valley isn’t completely void of public transit options but it’s also not exactly booming with them either. Scary buses, a light rail that services roughly half a mile of the usable city (nowhere close to me) and a few smelly cabs are pretty much the only options. However, I’ve a few extra options at my disposal, my legs and the love for the adventures they take me on.

So in a few short weeks I plan to park the car at my parents’ (so I do not have convenient access to it) and see how horrible, or delightful, a month without it is. My main mode of transportation will end up consisting of my bike and running, although I’m not completely writing off utilizing the bus, uber, lyft, cab, lightrail, big wheels, radio flyer, miniature ponies, magical unicorns, piggy back rides, etc if the need really arises.  Living in the middle of town definitely lends an advantage but visiting friends and family outside of town is going to be a bit trickier and involve a bit more planning. My parents’, for instance, will involve at least a 45 minute bus ride followed by a 9 mile run or a couple hour bike ride. Good thing they have food and a shower!

Even though I lived in Australia for almost four months without a car I’m still not really sure what to expect this time around, in this city. There are some things I already do expect though; dating is going to take a hit because who wants to grab drinks with a bum without a car? Spur of the moment trips to the grocery store for Diet Coke and popcorn just isn’t going to happen. Midnight jaunts to Vegas to put it all on black, forget it. Planning is going to become much more important in daily routines and I will no longer be able to hit snooze seven more times and just drive to the office.

Even if you don’t care at all I’ll still be sure to keep you posted of my adventure. And if you have any helpful tips or suggestions for me before I embark to the land of looneyville please send them my way!

Cheers!

Pemberton

A day of firsts…and lasts

Wow, it’s been forever since I’ve managed to find my way over here for an update. Perhaps I just haven’t had much good to say since my last update? Some would argue I never really have much good to say but humor me. In all actuality, things have just been super busy. Work is running along at ludicrous speed, training is in full swing, the weather has been awesome and my father is out for his yearly, three month visit, trying to convince the ladies that I’m a worthy Valentine’s purchase (oh yeah, I’m single girls); add it all up and it doesn’t leave much time for other stuff. Not an excuse though, I’ll do my absolute best to avoid future neglect, after all, we can’t have you suffering through the days without my meaningless drivel.

busy busy busy

busy busy busy

First things first, I won a race. Wait, let’s try that again. I WON A RACE! That’s better. And this one was legit, believe it or not. I will add the disclaimer that it did not involve swimming because we all know there would be no winning if that was the case. And yeah, maybe some people got lost on course, suffered debilitating cramps, stopped to take pictures of the amazing flora and fauna offered up by the McDowells, stubbed a toe, showed up late, whatever…I still made it across the line before them and you’re not taking that away from me. In all honesty though, the greatest part wasn’t the finish but rather the entire event. Sunday’s race really illustrated to me how much I’ve come to love this community, how many amazingly awesome friends I have and just how cool I have it. If you feel like being utterly bored I’ve posted a race report here….

Happy Dance!

Happy Dance!

 

Whole lot of awesome there.

Whole lot of awesome there.

All in all it’s been a really fun month, that’s for sure. Unfortunately, there’s been a significant decline of runners on the canal since the running of P.F. Chang’s Rock n Roll Arizona Marathon, pretty typical though. I guess it’s all the one and done-ers? I always enjoy the increased traffic because usually, runners are cool and they give you great words of encouragement, awesomeness, smiles and waves, all things that, while not huge, are just enough to brighten your day a bit more. I’ll leave you with some of my recent favorites:

The family that proclaimed “We’ve been trying to catch you since the light, and we are on bikes!”

The super rad old guy stating “I wish I could run your pace”.

At the end of the day I just  hope I’m able to run his pace.

Some of my Zoot teammates

Some of my Zoot teammates

 

 

White Tanks

Running on Empty

Still battling. That is the current status with this plague. Coming into this weekend’s Xterra Trail Race 20k White Tanks I had hoped the disease had moved on by now and I could race healthy. Hopes and dreams, we were having none of it. At least there has been some improvement somewhere, notably my back. While not 100% I can at least put socks on without having to contort in the most odd ways to facilitate such a simple task. Training hasn’t bothered it either so while it’s been an easier week because of being sick, I’ve still managed to get some time in.

Cue Sunday morning, race day. Start the morning off with what has become the standard routine lately, decongesting myself. I won’t go into the graphic detail of this process as I’m sure you can imagine what it’s like; the slime from Nickelodeon or ectoplasm. Who’s ready for breakfast? Thankfully the awesome folks at Tribe Multisport were providing the race day transport which is even more awesome when you consider the White Tanks are over 6 hours away, nearly to the beautiful coast of Huntington Beach.  This is an opportune time to mention if you live in the area you should definitely be checking out Tribe and if you don’t live in the area, you should anyway. White Tanks III

Cold seemed to be the mantra of the morning and I’m not talking about the stares into the souls of the other competitors. No way, I’m talking 39 degrees outside! Yeah sure it’s like -350 in Wisconsin right now but it’s relative man, and 39 for us fair weather fools is downright miserable. Thankfully it wasn’t that long before we were warming up with some prancersize and then we were racing 20 kilometers through the beauty of Waddell and the White Tanks Regional Park. Anytime it started to hurt really bad you just need take a look around and it seemed to get easier. I was looking around a LOT!White Tanks

So I ran, climbed some hills, turned some corners, almost fell but stayed upright finally, coughed, ran, coughed, blew snot and crossed the finish line pretty close to the same time I crossed it last year. Bummer! Then things got worse, Fifth place in my age group, same as last year, but what’s this? I forgot my good ol friend Jake aged up this year into my AG and he bested me for Fourth. Unwritten rule you cannot be friends with someone in your age group so our friendship is postponed until 2017. It’s been fun man, I hope you trip at Boston!White Tanks II

Now for the silver lining because I’m always a silver lining kind of guy. Sure I was still sick and ok, I didn’t PR this race (that’s the first actually) but going back to last year I was on the tail end of an 18 week, 85 mile a week marathon build for P.F. Chang’s Rock n Roll Marathon. This time around I’m one sick week into just starting a build for Boston so if my math is correct that puts my base fitness this year pretty close to my peak run fitness last year. Shwing! Now I feel better.

This is why we race

This is why we race

 

 

Party like it’s 2014

Happy New Year!

Ok I’m a day late on that but in my defense I was entirely too occupied with important stuff (hangovers, Rose Bowl victories, etc) to get around to it on the actual day of the new year. Remember that uncle that would always send you a birthday card two weeks after your birthday? Now remember when he stopped sending them? Good, belated is always better than never.

First bike of the new year

First, on to the good stuff before getting into all that self reflection, goal setting, “new year new you” junk that nobody really wants to hear. I’m back to running and biking and swimming! Back turned out to be a muscle pull and is coming around nicely. Not 100% but it doesn’t bother me when training so we’re easing back into it. Oddly enough it bothers me sitting though. If that isn’t motivation to get moving I don’t know what is. In light of this awesomeness I started the first day of the newest year with an easy 5 mile run down the greenbelt (they closed my canal!) followed up with a couple hours on the bike. Well I guess technically I started the day with aspirin for the scotch induced headache and alka seltzer for the bubonic plague that still ails me. Anyway, such a beautiful day out there, still not sure why people live in the snow. Oh then we added things up and came up with this awesomeness

  • Swim – 228,552 yards
  • Bike – 5775.39 miles
  • Run – 1658.79 miles

Or roughly 580 hours of training for 2013. Not quite where I want it (especially the swim) but for a year that challenged me with shoulder injuries I’ll take it.

Looking back 2013 was a lot of fun for me.  I PRd at every single distance in both running and triathlon, qualified for Boston, found a few podium appearances and gained a ton of knowledge. Yep, pretty much all self absorbed stuff. That means 2014 is my year to contribute to others in any way I can. If you have any suggestions then go for it but “put a bag over your head” has already been used. Besides this beauty is a gift unto others on its own. Oh and I have some goals too although I’ve read that you’re actually not suppose to put them out there because you’re then less likely to achieve them. Something about gratification but then aren’t they just wishes and not goals? I mean we all know you can’t tell your wish or it never comes true. So here some of them are

  • Sub 3 at Boston with an eye on 2:50
  • 70.3 World’s qualification
  • Break into the 16s on a 5k
  • Keep smiling and having fun
  • Do good, lot’s of good

One last thought. I stepped on the scale this morning and it read 172lbs, guess I did a halfway decent job of not turning into Porky McPorkster over the holidays. That leaves 15 weeks til Boston and 12lbs to drop by then…

sick

Alka Seltzer, Herbal Tea and Hills of Dreams

One could say it’s been a fun filled last few days but then again, one would be lying. Truth is the last few days have been full of adversity, at least in a first world sort of way. The eve of Christmas I found myself with a throat that was starting to itch and ears slightly plugged, a feeling I’m not all too unfamiliar with as it’s usually a signal of allergies flaring up again. Thursday morning greeted me with some aches here and there along with a cough and I knew it was here, flu season.

Keep in mind I’m usually healthy as ox, or bull or whatever beast is the symbol of health and vitality. What this means is that when I actually do get sick I turn into the biggest woe is me whiner in the world. Hey, we all have our shortcomings. But there was work to get done and Thursday called for an hour run with 4×1 mile intervals at 6:50, 6:40, 6:20 and 6:10 minute miles offset with 1/4 mile rest periods. Remember this is a training and racing blog so I have to post numbers somewhere. Plus I’m a data obsessed individual that really thinks somewhere out there, someone gives a crap. Anyway, the day also called for a couple hours on the bike and that’s that. Well as the day progressed I continually fell further into the abyss of imminent doom and before it was over all I could manage was my run, conducted on “rolling hills if you can run it on them”.
Ah the hills of 32nd Street. Run went well but my lungs were crying the song of mercy the entire way so I decided that was enough, no bike to be had today. Cue Friday morning and a fever of 100.2, nothing is getting done today. Three years without being sick and it decides to happen two weeks into my build for The Boston Marathon. Have I mentioned I’m running Boston? Pretty geeked about that as it was the one running goal I promised myself I would not stop until I achieved three years ago when I first started training for a marathon.
So Friday was a wash with all this being sick and everything so after rising at 6am (I’m not the typical 4am up and about triathlete freak) I went shopping. Not exactly the post Christmas sales you envision hitting. The rest of Friday is but a mere blur clouded by the overdose of herbal tea and citrus Cold and Flu Alka Seltzer. Day one with no training.
Saturday was pretty much a repeat of Friday; couch, couch, couch taking in every single episode of Orange is the New Black, fully catching up on The Walking Dead and spending more time getting to know Breaking Bad. Oh but there was good in Saturday, if good means “if I were a horse they would have put me down by now”. I threw out my back. I feel 90 just saying that but it’s the truth. After 48 hours of nothing but horizontal on the couch (in the sick way, not the good way) I stood up and proceeded to bend over and grab my socks when it hit, pow! Back is done. Cue the ibuprofen, no workouts today. At some point I got stir crazy from sitting inside staring at the idiot box non stop that I had to get out so I went and had some drinks. That trip is mired in a fog of Alka Seltzer, herbal tea and ibuprofen so don’t ask me the details. Day two of no workouts.
Sunday, you guessed it, nothing happening here besides more whining and self pity. Good thing there’s nobody under this roof to hear my cry or they probably would have left by now. I did manage to make it up to my parents’ because I was hungry (easier than shopping), know mom is always game for a good self pity story and I wanted to watch football but do not get the stations that football is on. So mom, thanks for the food, the care and the free TV, you’re the best. Day three of no workouts.
Three days with no workouts and after talking with the coach, aprising him of my state of affairs and impending demise, Monday is a day off too which leaves me feeling fast as a sloth and fat as the Hutt.
Bring on Boston!
So here I sit with a microwaved bag of beans pressed firmly against the small of my back, hoping tomorrow brings news of being able to lace the shoes back up again. It is not all bad though. Through it all I managed to get some much needed laundry and cleaning done, watched Eisenburgh turn even more bad ass, re-learned the art of the hot toddy and kicked off the “clean up your diet” campaign for the run to Boston. Also had a fun conversation with a grocery store teller about how to prepare kale properly for a salad and did my best to still be pleasant even when staring down the plague. Making the world happier one person at a time.

Well I did it.  I toed the line.  Pulled the trigger.  Officially plummeted into the wanker chasm.  Ventured into a realm only the most self absorbed triathletes go.  The blog world.

Anyway, what better day to proclaim your own awesomeness than Christmas? While I’m at it, no need to send me all those happy birthday wishes and please, I’m overloaded on frankincense and myrrh too. I promise this isn’t all about my awesomeness in the tri world because well, I’m fairly mediocre. There will be some running goodness in here and more than anything just some life awesomeness, thus the “love” portion of the title. After all, if we are not loving whatever it is we are doing then why the hell are we doing it?

On to today, Christmas. I’m still nothing more than a big kid so I crashed at my parents’ last night (dude, free food!) and sprung up at 6am hoping to open presents. Actually, I enjoy the giving more now and you know you’re old when… Anyway, nobody was up (bollocks!) so I crashed on the couch and woke an hour later to smells of coffee. Christmas has been postponed until 11 when my sister arrives. No worries, I’ve shit to do!

So I donned my finest running kit (the clean one), laced up the shoes and headed out to McDowell Sonoran Preserve to run Gateway Loop a couple times.  It is a fun trail to run, 4.25 mile loop, approximately 750 feet of elevation gain, nothing too technical but enough to keep you aware of what your feet are doing.  Man, I love this shit! Flying down the trail, high stepping big rocks, juking left and right, it’s just so much fun! I swear I’m taking up ultra running some day and running all over the mountains of the world. God’s country, amazing. Made sure to wish everyone a “Merry Christmas” that I passed and here are the results: 78% responded back in kind. A fair number proclaimed the more safe “happy holidays” and at least a half dozen just grunted.  Yeah, you’re awesome. You go you. And then there were my favorites: the 5ish year old boy that shouted “Good Job!”, cheers buddy, and the old lady that proclaimed “Happy hunting”. Loved her comment the most because I know she knows we’re hunting souls and dreams. Get it!

Run done, home, shower number 2 (I’m odd, I have to shower before I run in the morning) and then on the bike for an hour ride. Spun through the neighborhoods of NoSco, nothing amazing, just got it done. Home, shower number three, PRESENTS! Oh but first food and my favorite, wine. Delish!

Turned out to be an awesome day but then again, every day is awesome. If you ain’t livin you’re dying! Ok, that’s corny but there’s a lot of truth in it. Christmas highlight, making my step father cry (in a good way) and hanging out with my nephew who is four, watching him open his gifts. Can’t wait to buy him a bike and get him tri-ing.

Merry Christmas!

A mediocre athlete's foray into running, triathlon and living