King Kong ain’t got shit on me

Obviously, today was Training Day, hence the title. (For those of you who haven’t seen Training Day and were expecting a post about Godzilla’s evident superiority to King Kong, let me redirect your attention elsewhere. SPOILER: King Kong wins, which is a bag of bullshit, since Godzilla has fucking atomic breath. What’s Kong got? A weakness for blondes. But I digress).

With the marathon just three weeks away, I had decided that today would be my longest run, and that the next three weeks would be about tapering and making sure my body is as healthy as possible on race day. I had hoped for good weather, and the forecast originally called for only afternoon showers, so I was optimistic that I could get in an early run and stay dry.

No such luck, of course. I was running by 8:30a but the rain had started before I even opened my eyes. Given my circumstances, I didn’t really have the luxury of rescheduling, so it was time to nut up or shut up. I did my ~20 miles (~32 KM) and got rained on for about ~19.5 of them (all distances are approximate). All things considered, the rain wasn’t too much of a factor (most of my route is fairly well-covered by trees), and the cool conditions kept me from sweating excessively, always a plus. Still hoping for clear skies on November 19th, but we roll with the punches, no?

I did my ~20 in a timed 2:55, which (if my distances are at all accurate) works out to around 8:45 per mile. That includes a three-minute pit stop around mile 14 at the aid station AKA backpack for some water, IBs, and a quick-hitter of IcyHot. If I can maintain that pace for the full 26.2, I’ll be thrilled, but it should be noted that my last three miles were more like 9:35 per mile, so I slowed down considerably at the end. Still, that’s about 75% of a marathon right there, so I’m feeling very confident that injury is the only thing that will keep me from reaching my goal-time of sub-4:00.

With that in mind, let’s break down the areas of concern ESPN-style, from least worrisome to most worrisome.

3) Knees

On both my race-type runs (~16.5 miles and ~20 miles), my knees have started to bark at around mile 15. I’m frankly not that worried about this because it isn’t a muscle-related issue, it’s a pain-threshold issue, at least as far as finishing is concerned. I’ve also made the calculated decision not to take ibuprofen before my runs so that I can see how my body is responding (though as I mentioned, I did take some towards the end of today’s piece). I think if I dope up pre-race there’s a good chance I can mitigate the issue.

2) Hamstrings

Seems like the bane of every athlete at some point. Unless you’re some mountain-dwelling, lotus-sitting, tantric-sex-having yogi, it’s hard to get these puppies adequately loose. So far during my runs, the cardio has never been a problem–at an 8:45 pace, I’m doing all aerobic exercise, and since I never approach my anaerobic threshold, I’m never out of breath at any point during the run–but muscle fatigue is an issue. My hamstrings tighten up around the 13 mile mark (hence the IcyHot), but even with the help of my old standby, it’s hard to really get loose once you get really tight (frisbee players used to coping with a mid-day bye before a big afternoon game will recognize this feeling). In the practice runs, this hasn’t shut me down, but to compensate I have to shorten my stride considerably, so that the hammy doesn’t have as far to go with each step. Then I’m stuck trying to increase my RPMs to offset the shorter stride in order to maintain the same pace. So far, it hasn’t worked out so well, as evidenced by my slow finishes to both runs. But I’m hoping that better preparation–including better stretching, better hydration, and a pornographic slather of pre-race IcyHot–will keep me loose enough to smell the finish line.

1) Nipples

What’s up with your nips, bro?

This shit is not cool, yo.

I thought this shit was an old wives tale. Chafed nipples? Whatever. Just made up to scare children, like anal fissures. Or if it does happen, it happens to other people, NOT ME.

Just in case you can’t tell from the photo, those red spots are where my nipples used to be, until they were abraded completely off my chest between miles 9 and 13. This shit is so, so NOT cool. He leakin! Not only is this crazy uncomfortable (although after awhile you stop noticing it), but it leaves you looking like Dracula’s wet nurse at the end of your run. I mean, I’m trying to get a sweet picture of me crossing the finish line, so that I can frame that shit and brag on facebook about how fast I am. You know what ruins a nice victory pic? When people think you spent the last 26.2 miles breastfeeding The Count. Obviously, the surest solution to this problem is to run shirtless, but since it may be too cold for that, I’ll be experimenting frantically with various balms and ointments over the coming weeks. Or at least wearing a black shirt on race day.

And, to all the people out there walking around with blissfully soft and occasionally erect nipples, let my pain serve as a warning. THIS CAN HAPPEN TO YOU. One day, you’re out in the world, minding your own business–maybe you’re buying a papaya at a fruit stand or pretending to text someone to avoid being accosted by the neighborhood derelict–and somebody taps you on the shoulder, and you spin around ready to make a new friend, and your new friend says, “Bro, what’s up with your nips?” Or, worse still, you’re chatting up the cute chick in the “It’s not easy being green” t-shirt who just walked into the Mission District Muppet Bar you’ve been “working” at (just till things pick up!), and you think things are going really well because you both like The National, but she excuses herself abruptly, so you go into the back room to apply your makeup and see the red blotches on your normally pristine Swedish Chef apron. IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU AND PROBABLY WILL.

This November, I’d like you all to join me in celebrating Nipple Awareness Month. Together, we can make a brighter, healthier future for our children’s nipples!