The salmon may be discounted, but the food poisoning is free!

You are my enemy.


Editor’s Note: There’s no real smooth, coy or soft way of talking about diarrhea.

So there I am, meandering through Dillon’s grocery store like a guy with time to kill on a Tuesday evening. I grab some eggs, organic Greek yogurt (I’m an elitist), fruit, Gatorade, protein bars–ya know, exercise super foods. I move into the meat section to snag some Smart Chicken.

As I’m sure you’ve observed at your grocery store, there is a small section in the meat department where the store sells various products discounted, because they are nearing their expiration dates. It’s organized much like the $1 DVD bin at a Wal-Mart, only this has decaying meat and a touch of Russian Roulette.

I take a quick gander at the compost pile and see this label on an Alaskan salmon package: $12.50. Now $5. “Oooo!!” I proclaim giddily in my inner dialogue. “That’s the best meat-based protein you can find. Could literally be the healthiest food out there. It’s mine. I’ll just cook it tonight and it’ll be fine.”

The next day I eat the salmon for lunch. “This center part looks undercooked,” I comment to a coworker. “Eh, s’all good.”

3 a.m.: Eric’s bed

Eric’s covers have been kicked on the floor. He is sweating in the fetal position and holding his intestines like they have just been bayoneted. “Bllllgbgbgbrrrcck,” he stammers.

6:30 a.m.: Eric’s bed

Eric’s alarm literally almost scares the crap out of him. He hurries to the bathroom. Stays a while.

8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.: Eric’s office

Eric, who had no time for breakfast, arrives at work with full flop-sweat and sprints to the men’s restroom for the first of 20 or so times at the office. No other men are in the office this day, for which he is thankful.

9 p.m.: Eric’s couch

Exhausted, Eric decides he will sleep off what has been the longest day of his life.

9 a.m.: Eric’s office

After what he labels as a “morning flare up” at home, Eric must use bathroom at work for third time in an hour. After, he tells his boss he his going to the doctor, which he rarely does.

11 a.m.: Doctor’s office

Doctor: “How many times did you go to the bathroom yesterday?”

Eric: “Like 20?”

Doctor: “Jesus,” she says with laugh.

Eric: “Hey! Just diagnose me! I’m dying here!”

Doctor: “Yeah, you have food poisoning. Did you eat anything that could have caused this?”

Eric: “Maybe?”

Like the diehard I am, I inquire about how many days this will cost me in training. “Three to seven days,” I’m told. “I can’t spare that many. I have to run 20 miles Saturday,” I respond. “Good luck,” quips my doc.

I lost weight (seven pounds or so), I lost muscle mass, I lost days of training, I lost two days of work, I lost taste for salmon, I lost lots and lots of pride, but I didn’t lose my will to train, which kept me focused on eating right and medicating for my 20 mile run on Saturday. Even if I wasn’t cured, I wanted to have three or four hours of normal health.

I ran with Nick, plus our friend Kelli, who joined us for 10 miles or so. I had to make a pit-stop to lose my breakfast, and Nick and Kelli were dolls and waited out my brief episode that one Hy-Vee bathroom will never forget. Nick and I finished the 20-mile run (the morning he celebrated his birthday, no less), and felt horrible after. But it was amazing. We could have suffered through 6.2 more miles, and we’re confident now. We burned something like 2,567 calories on that run. Crazy.

This brings me to bad news, and good news.

Bad news: My brother, who had complained his knee was in serious pain, apparently had been running 13 miles a day on an injured ACL. OUCH. He had to withdraw from The SF Marathon that’s in a month, and was incredibly bummed about it, as was I. Adding insult to injury, we had paid his non-refundable entry fee. I’m in good with the race organizers, so I email them and ask for a favor…

Nick's birthday celebration started with a 20 mile run. Somewhere in the middle of afternoon madness, he destroyed this piñata that Guy was safely holding on to.

Good news: I wonder to myself, instead of biting the entry fee bullet, could we replace the runner? Who could be ready in a month to run a marathon on arguably the hilliest course in the country? Nick. I ask him, if I could somehow swing it, if he would take Ryan’s place. “Yeah. I’ll do it.” One email later to my peeps in SF, Nick Nelson is now the proud owner of a full marathon racing position. It’ll be nice to have someone to run with on that day. We wish my brother could join us, but we’ll endure all the race pain for him.

Bear Grylls catches and eats raw salmon, then goes and lives in the forest for a bit. I grill some salmon, and live in a bathroom for days.


The sound of races

Come walk on sunshine with me, why don’t you?


There’s a parcel of concrete on top of a hill surrounded by buildings that nearly touch the clouds. Elevated highways bow tie this tongue of land I stand atop as the morning sun dissects the surrounding skyline. I have only felt this nervous a few times before, and I am coming to grips with my cold sweat and nausea, which will surely be followed by my vomiting. Luckily I’m shirtless.

I take a moment and stand in awe of my surroundings, then I turn around to look down the cement hill. One hundred meters ahead are 28,000 people, crammed together forming a phalanx bearing down on me. I am standing by myself in the middle of a road in downtown Kansas City, about to race in the largest, most competitive, and unnerving 5K of my life. I stand tall and look down at the thousands waiting to charge.

There are so many, the hoard bends at an intersection a half mile away, and continues on for another mile at least. I can’t see pavement between them.

I move down the hill with my eye on the crowd. Walking to the starting line, I can’t hear anything other than arteries pulsing in my head. I cross the starting line and am infused with everyone’s nerves and anticipation. Shoulder to shoulder, chest to back, feet to feet; we are all claustrophobic today.

I take a deep breath, drop my shoulders, bend slightly, tuck my chin, and dig-in my right foot for a Spartan-like push. The starting gun fires and organized madness ensues. This is one time in my life I could hear soundtrack music playing in my mind, complimenting the rush of 28,000 racers behind me.

The song?

You know that 30 Day Music Challenge bonanza everyone is doing on the FBook? I scoff at that. I laugh at that. How conforming of you to give in to such a stupid idea.

I was busy thinking exactly that when I saw a person whom I immensely respect had started their own 30 Day Challenge. My perspective changed, and I thought about songs that define me, or at least bits that comprise me. I thought of the start to that 5K, and how I wanted The Last of the Mohicans’ theme blasting. Me passing people, people passing me, thousands more behind me, pushing, sprinting, madness… I thought this song fit. It sounds like agility.

In the face of this chaos, I somehow found my cool and slithered through the people until I was with one of the lead packs on our way through downtown KC.

If I could, I would listen to that song at the start of every race. It sets my pace perfectly. It’s uptempo, yet relaxed. It reminds me I need to be hustling, but that sprinting isn’t necessary yet. What song indicates, for me, it’s time to bury my heels deep in the pavement and haul ass? I’m going to play this idea of racing music out:

The start: Promontory, like I said.

Once I’ve established my pace and have hit cruise control for the middle portions of the race, there are a couple songs that, for whatever reason, feel appropriate and energetic:

1) Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) by The Arcade Fire.

2) Born this Way by Lady Gaga…. get off my balls already. Don’t act like you don’t like it, hypocrite.

I’ve likely been running a negative split, so the racers ahead of me falsely believe I am firmly in their dust. That’s when the clouds open and the Imperial March momentarily erupts (nerdy). I pass my opponents. I am their enemy, the bearer of bad news–I’ve been holding out on them, waiting to strike.

I see the finish line. It’s time for something loud that beckons all my strength: The Inception Score.

The finish line is less than a quarter mile away and it’s go-time. I’m trying to pass every last person between me and the end. I’ve moved off my heels and onto the balls of my feet. My knees are cranked high and my velocity is the only thing keeping me from losing my balance and falling face first. Now I’m on my toes and pumping my arms wildly. I want this song blasting so loudly it compresses my brain and makes my stomach turn inside-out. It’s epic, and I’m hoping my finish will be, too.

When I finished that 5k, the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Kansas City, I didn’t hear any music–only my heaving (racing protocol: sprint the finish, puke). In 2009, my first Komen and the one I described before, I finished 89th. In 2010, I finished 69th.

Non-running music

I’m more likely to be listening to Huey Lewis and the News than Metallica when I lift.

Despite my marathon training, I still lift quite a bit. And I’m so far out in left field with my lifting music, I’m practically blacked out drunk somewhere in the bleachers. Most guys listen to the hardest of rock, or heavy bass hip-hop.

Not I.

I listen to Walking on Sunshine and the rest of the American Psycho soundtrack, because it reminds me of how buff Christian Bale got for that movie, and that drives me to lift hard enough to achieve the same physique. Throw in some Top Gun and epic movie scores and I’m prepped for beastmode.

To each my own.

There is one song I listen to when I’m really about to unleash the fury. Du Hast by Rammstein. JACKED. UP. I’m ready to sacrifice a goat.

Music is proven to help you workout. I can’t race with my iPod, but I can train with it. And I take full advantage of it with 80’s mega hits and movie scores.

What do you listen to? I’m looking for gems.

Come out to Dog Days. Also, found a site better than Daily Mile.

The iconic image of Red Dog. The man with a bull horn and a mission.

Yesterday (Monday, June 6) was the first day of summer Dog Days. Dog Days is a community exercise program administered by former Marine Drill Instructor Don “Red Dog” Gardner. It meets 6 a.m. inside Memorial Stadium, and 6 p.m. on the lawn in front of Robinson Gymnasium on KU’s campus. It’s free, voluntary, and the best part: if you attend 25 workouts, you earn one of the free, legendary Red Dog t-shirts, which are customized each summer.

Update: Dog Day’s meets Monday-Thursday at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. They have bonus get-togethers Saturday mornings at 7 and 7:45 at the Lied Center for short distance runs, and also Sundays at 7 a.m. and J&S Coffee for seven-mile runs. Again, these are all free and voluntary.

Hundreds of people attend these workouts, which aren’t difficult. If you’re looking for something to help you get in shape, Dog Day’s, with its calisthenics and runs, will do the trick. If you’re looking for something to supplement what has likely become the monotony of your marathon/triathlon/whatever training, mixing in Dog Days into a workout is great.

The longest you’ll ever run at a Dog Day’s workout is two to three miles, so if you’re distance training, you might consider running to and from Dog Days. While there, you’ll do abs, pushups, stretches, speed/track workouts, and then middle-distance running. It’s legitimate, and lots of smiling faces root you on. Many of the Dog Days crew will meet for longer runs on the weekend, and race in half and full marathons together, if you’re looking for a team. They also get together for beer or coffee after plenty of workouts.

Full disclosure: I use Dog Days as speed training in the middle of my longer runs mid-week, plus I get to see lots of friends. I’ll jog the three miles to Robinson (I don’t have enough time to complete the morning workouts before I have to report for civilian life) and complete the calisthenics and stretches. When it’s time for the group run, I have a slightly different mentality than the “community building” workout.

I enter races because I’m a blood-thirsty, competition-eating American machine with an appetite for victory. I treat Dog Days as a primer for this lifestyle. Dog Days is about community, achieving health goals, fun, and is certainly not a race–but that doesn’t mean you can’t win. Winning for me is starting dead last on the group run, after all the runners have left the field for the mean streets of Lawrence, and then seeing how many people I can pass before I finish. There are a lot of fast runners at these workouts, so I don’t always finish first, but I do finish near the front despite my late start. Each day I try to pass more and more people, which keeps me giving full effort at these workouts. On days when some of the better runners are absent, I will somehow finish first. I get more excited about this than I should. Then I cool down for a minute, and trot my butt three miles home.

Dog Days is a lot of fun, and this is how I keep it relevant in my workout regimen. Come out and run with me. If I have buds to run with, it gives me a good excuse to run slower.

I’ll still operate my Daily Mile account, because I’m vested in it this year–it’s keeping a running total on my logged miles.

My brother, and my friends Tyler and Ashley, say Midnight In Paris is the best movie of the year--and that it's not even a close competition.

Once 2011 ends, I’ll drop that account in favor of my new account at Run Keeper. The idea of Run Keeper is similar to Daily Mile; it’s a social networking website with an emphasis on fitness. The difference is: Run Keeper is to Daily Mile, what a Ph.D grad is to a high school grad: It’s more sophisticated and likes Woody Allen movies.

Everything you can do on Daily Mile, you can do on Run Keeper, only much much more. It will actually track your diet, BMI, and overall fitness. I would argue it maps your runs more accurately. Plus, instead of “Friends,” you have “Your Street Team.” Yeah, pretty sweet, I know.

It’s quite impressive. I’m still new to the site, so I really can’t break it down much further, but I definitely recommend it.

This Saturday I’m planning on running 18 miles as part of my marathon training. I expect zero persons to run this with me. That being said, if you’d like to join me for part of it you could! Nick joined me for a third of my 17.5 miles this past Saturday, and that was after he swam for an hour.

The weather will be cooler, so I’ll probably run sometime mid-morning, likely running six-mile loops that end at my house so I can reload on Gatorade, eat gel packs, drink, pee, poop, whatever comes up. I might even hit up Red Dog’s Saturday Fun Run at the Lied Center. That’s a seven miler, I believe.

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