Aaron's Real Opinions:

Aaron's Crazy Race Diary - 2008
Day 22
Regression is Good in Economics but Bad in Running
Saturday, May 10, 2008
15 Days Until Bolder Boulder

Although I had a lot of work to do, today was a family day. I got up too early and was tired but ready to run. I worked for a while primarily answering e-mail correspondence. Today's running goal was to break 80 minutes. I also was supposed to be at 195 pounds and was at 202 instead. It appeared progress had come to a halt. And, as far as the 80-minute goal was concerned, I had no inkling how far away from that number we would be at the end of today's run - and it was all my fault.

It was a chilly but gorgeous day. I arrived at the trailhead ahead of my running partner for the first time in recent memory. I was tired and sore from yesterday's run and knew today's goal would be a challenge because I usually took Friday off if I were planning to do a long run (i.e., almost 7 miles was a long run for me - not for those training for a marathon who might do 10 to 20 miles).

Angela started us off at a very fast pace and, in a matter of minutes, I knew I didn't have it today.
The path was muddy right from the beginning of the trail due to a sudden downpour which had occurred last night. I didn't expect to see much mud but our shoes were totally caked within a matter of minutes. While the actual weight of the mud was marginal, today the combination of the suction of the mud and the weight of the mud seemed overwhelming. It shouldn't have been a big deal but both of us allowed it to bother us. For me, it was the proverbial straw which broke the camel's back.

We ran a mile and I was ready to collapse. We crossed Boulder Creek and Angela pointed out five young deer, with the closest one only 25 feet away. We stopped to watch them and I was happy to have the break. For some reason, they were not frightened by us so I chatted with them. They continued to look at us and graze as if we were part of their family. We both were amazed.

With only one mile down and almost six to go, I was a hurtin' cowboy. I knew I was in trouble and that the sub-80 minute goal wasn't going to happen. I started to walk instead of run and ended up doing a combination of walking (60%) and running (40%) for most of the remainder of the path to the water tower at the end. The wind was brisk and blowing against us but it wasn't enough of an excuse to justify my pathetic pace.

My running partner was a good sport about my state of exhaustion. I knew I had been running on reserves for several years and today was evidence, once again, those reserves were now gone. That wasn't a good thought.

We saw several people going the opposite direction as we walked and ran. The sky was overcast so the sun never was a factor and one result was we stayed quite cool the entire run. I had forgotten the headband I had been wearing to keep sweat out of my eyes but the wind was strong and constant enough to keep me relatively dry. I also was wearing only a T-shirt, shorts, and shoes so that meant I had a lot of evaporative potential anyway due to so much exposed skin.

As I stumbled towards the end of the first half of the run, I decided to try and run up the final and longest hill at the halfway point. That ended at a water tower where the views were spectacular. I somehow managed to do it and, at the end, was breathing so heavily I probably sounded as if I were going to die. And I felt like I was about to croak. It was muddy in the area and I was so exhausted I didn't care any more - I was ready to lie down. If anyone had gently pushed me, I would have fallen and gone to sleep.

I was pleased to have made it up the hill but now didn't even feel ready to walk back downhill. We started to circle the water tower and, after getting halfway around it, broke into a trot to head back. The path was easier going back because there were more downhill than uphill runs.

With high hopes of running the entire way back and regaining some of the lost time, we shot downhill. Unfortunately, after just another quarter mile or so, my body told me to stop running and I did. I knew this did not bode well for the Race. I was seriously considering whether or not I should even run it. At this rate, my time would balloon to 80 minutes or more. That was a depressing thought.

Somehow I managed to keep going. This time my estimate was I ran most of the way back (70%) and walked the rest (30%). Towards the end, I totally lost it and walked more than I ever imagined.

With only a quarter mile to go, we saw two geese in front of us on the trail. They waited until we already had started walking slowly so as to not frighten them before deciding to leave. They were only 10 feet away when they took to the air. If you've seen a full-grown Canadian goose (they are large) take off, it's a miraculous sight as they somehow lift their large bodies off the ground. They somehow managed to hover in mid-air in front of us for a few seconds so we got an extraordinary view of their wings as they were spread out to raise them above the ground and maintain their altitude of only about 15 feet at the time. Then they accelerated and gracefully flew away.

Towards the end, Angela admitted she was tired, too. We were walking with only about 300 yards to go. She had been encouraging me to get moving the entire time. Now I turned the tables and encouraged her to run the last tiny segment. She was game and we both took off for the end of the trail. That 300 yards, although a pitiful distance, was the fastest part of the run for me. What a joke!

Angela told me to not even check the time but I couldn't resist. The run had taken 93 minutes. That was our second worst time ever and we had no excuses. Sure, the wind didn't help and, yes, the mud slowed us down, and yes, we were tired from yesterday's 5½-mile run, but we knew we should have done better. She could have run the trail in under 80 minutes today. I was the one who held her back and I felt badly about that. I guess I just needed to train more, eat better, and get more sleep but I knew that, with two weeks to go, I was in serious trouble.

At home, I thought about going back to bed but my daughter was up and ready to get going. I started a long series of laundry-related tasks, worked more on issues related to the television show, made breakfast, and coordinated arrangements so Holly could have her friend Kayla over for the day and night.

We then headed out to pick up her cousin, Joel, who I had promised to take to see the new movie "Ironman." It was a Marvel Comics production and I was looking forward to it. I had collected Marvel Comics and still had a good part of my collection. It had been decades, however, since I sealed them in paper and plastic bags so I didn't know what I had. I never focused on collecting "Ironman" comics so I doubted I had any at all. I knew I had issues of "Spiderman," "The X-men, and "The Fantastic Four" and a few others but I didn't recall keeping any "Ironman" comics. I began to wonder what my collection was worth or if all the comic books would disintegrate into dust after being kept in a box for almost four decades.

Holly and I headed out to pick up Joel and then we drove to southeast Denver to pick up Kayla. Once Kayla was onboard, the kids were hungry so we stopped and grabbed some food at a Burger King en route to the movie theater. It was the first time we had been to a Burger King in three or four years. I was naughty and consumed a few items whose description shall remain unspoken. Let's just say none of it was organic.

We got to AMC Westminster Promenade Theaters half an hour before showtime so we watched all the features, previews and advertisements in theaters these days. I enjoyed it. Then the feature presentation began. The movie was great. I enjoyed it more than any of the kids. The girls were determined to not like it but I could tell Joel enjoyed it almost as much as I did.

The movie's plot was decent and the special effects were very well-done. It had received a "Rotten Tomatoes" Website rating of 93% or so, which was extraordinarily high, especially for an action flick. The humor was excellent and the performances by Robert Downey, Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow were quite good.

Afterwards, we took Joel home and the kids played on his Nintendo Wii while I visited with his parents (my sister and my brother-in-law). Then we went home and I made the girls a pizza for a late lunch. I worked, took care of the dogs, and then went to the store to buy roses for my sister and my Mother.

Next I picked up Leah and then we drove to Boulder to pick up my Mother. I was taking them to Dolan's restaurant for a Mother's Day dinner. Dolan's was one of my favorite restaurants. It was owned and run by Mike Dolan, one of four Dolan brothers. His older brother, Jeff, and I had played together on the tennis team at Fairview High School in Boulder. Jeff was a City Manager and now was at Manhattan Beach, California. He had been the City Manager for Longmont for a while before leaving Colorado for a better opportunity.

The meal at Dolan's was superb. The place was packed because it was Graduation Day at the University of Colorado so we were lucky to have gotten a table. I had the Crab Louis Salad and enjoyed every bite. We had ordered the crab cakes dinner and I ended up eating almost that entire dinner, too, because Leah's sole dinner filled her up and my Mother had ordered the fish stew, which could have fed three people.

I ate too much bread and butter and also downed six Arnold Palmer's, so I knew I was in trouble weight-wise. Mike Dolan stopped by our table to chat and we learned he had almost died a year ago from an incident related to diverticulitis. He had been hospitalized and almost didn't make it out. He looked and sounded great today, so it was wonderful to see he had made a full recovery. I had known one person who had died in a similar situation so I appreciated how close he had come to leaving this world.

At home, I made the girls another pizza at their request, did some work, and called it a night at midnight. It had been a long day. I was unhappy with my running time but looked at the Brightside - I had gotten 93 minutes of exercise instead of the anticipated 75 or so. My problem now was I had only 10 days or so to really train for the Race and I was in a worse position, in terms of conditioning, than I was several weeks ago. Darn it, I just can't resist temptation

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