Red Legos & Hamm

Guest Post by Chief Husband and Editor Chris

It’s Championship Eve. The last holiday cometh. Tomorrow, my team, the Alabama Crimson Tide, will rematch Clemson to defend their national title and try to go 15-0 for the first time. It just so happens that most of this weekend was spent iced in at home. Everything was cancelled, travel discouraged, you know the drill. So after all the Christmas decorations came down, multiple Star Wars movies were watched, rooms rearranged and organized, my idle hands started playing with Lego.

My mantle rolled its eyes at me and smiled.

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It started with some fun officially licensed gifts Rachel has given me the past few years.

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Then I added some fan seating in various financial tiers.

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And the fandom I know best, the tailgating.

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The Wayne Enterprises skybox is for VIPs only, but its not the cheeriest place. The Dark Knight, the worried hobbit, and Mr. Attitude the Wizard enjoy their wealth and privilege, but there’s not a pom-pom in sight.

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The upper deck is bit less stodgy, and a solid cross-section of Lego society.

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Down in the safely guarded concourse, the crowd picks up their yummy fish.

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The grouchy custodian just came from cleaning the ladies’ room. She is no fan of the hovering fans she cleans up behind.

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Her coworker is having a better time taking care of the field.

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Meanwhile, outside the stadium, Ma & Pa Cop are hosting a fantastic tailgate outside their RV.

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And the grill masters are taking care of the hungry crowd.

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The whole crowd, inside and out, players and fans, are, like me, filled with hope and expectation. The game kicks off in less than 24 hours. By the time you read this, I’ll either feel like these guys:

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Or like Hamm.

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Either way, I’m over here having fun. Roll Tide.

The Reasonable Quest.

Guest Post by Husband and Chief Editor, Chris.

Hi.

My name is Chris.

I’m low-key obsessed with buying an NES Classic Edition. It’s a tiny box that contains 30 classic Nintendo games, all in the tiny box, no cartridges required.

nes-classic-edition

But low-key will not get it done. There are too few of them trickling into stores. There are too many people trying harder than me.

So I should just try harder, right? But life, and work, and family, and responsibility, and maturity, and reality.

The Evil Kermit meme series is very applicable here.

evil-kermit-meme-dark-side-funny-memes-221Me: It’s a video game. You are 40. You have responsibilities.
Me to Me: The fate of all mankind requires that I own this obsolete device.

I’ve had 10 browser windows open on my phone for 6 weeks. All of the online retailers, a Target inventory checker, an online inventory aggregator, Google news search results. I have a constant Twitter search term for all of the latest news.

I’ve had one in my online cart on multiple occasions at multiple retailers, only to have it disappear from my cart before I could checkout, thanks to the scalper bots buying them all in 30 seconds. The scalper bots, whose Grinchy owners take and list them on Ebay by the thousands at triple and quadruple the retail price. And they sell them for those prices, to desperate parents and dedicated gamers who care more than I do, or more than I am willing to admit.

evil-kermit-meme-dark-side-funny-memes-221Me: Don’t pay these inflated prices. Just wait until after Christmas. Be a grownup.
Me to Me: It’s just money. You can’t eat money. You can’t breathe money. Drop the money
.

I’ve stood outside a closed GameStop in the cold, knocking politely so the irritated manager could say for the millionth time, “We don’t have any.”

I’ve chased internet rumors to stores and lines outside stores. Nada.

I’ve watched bleary-eyed teenagers, spouses, and grandparents shuffle into a Best Buy with golden tickets they received by waiting all night outside the store, and walk out with that beautiful tiny box.

nes-classic-edition-box

The Target inventory checker occasionally shows small stock at 1 or 2 stores within 100 miles. Maybe 5, maybe 9, once 14. But within minutes of the store opening, they are back to 0, bought by the tired throng who lined up throughout the night, who care more than I do, or more than I am willing to admit.

evil-kermit-meme-dark-side-funny-memes-221Me: You have to go to work. You have to do Christmasy family things. You cannot wait all night on the sidewalk and be an exhausted waste of humanity.
Me to Me: Sleep is overrated. I can go one night without. It will be fine.

There are constant news stories about the quest to purchase the NES Classic.

Here are 2 headlines from December 20th:

Is the Nintendo NES Classic Edition the Key to Father-Son Bonding in the Digital Age? (WSJ) This article about a 40- year-old father and his 7-year-old son will bring a tear to your eye.

My children will remember this for the rest of their lives.

It’s time to give up on getting a Mini NES Classic Edition This Christmas. (Forbes) The article begins “Lose all hope”.

But its fine. Really, it’s OK. I’m sure they love me either way.

The FOMO has never been so white hot.

Is this what it’s like to grow up? To slowly strangle the unreasonable decision-making out of your inner child?

It’s almost Christmas. I’ll keep watching and waiting and half-heartedly trying. I won’t succeed. I’ll be smugly self-satisfied in my adult decision making.

I’ll buy one in February, when all of the Grinchy scalper bots are choking on plastic because they got stuck with them and have nothing else to eat.

Merry Christmas.

Redefining Hard.

A Guest Post by Chief Editor and Baby Daddy, Chris.

I’ve written about running before, several times. Running tourism, my first half, my first marathon, my second marathon. A central theme in all my running blogs is accessibility. As in, you can do this. You, the reader, if you are in reasonably decent health, can train and accomplish these things. I still think this is true.

I recently ran my first ultramarathon, the 27 mile option at the Lake Martin 100/50/27 mile endurance event on the trails at Russell Lands at Lake Martin. It was, by far, the most difficult athletic thing I have done. It was just a bit longer than a marathon by distance, but trail miles are very different from road miles. The terrain was at times technical, steep, slippery, sticky, and/or wet. The trails were full of roots, rocks, mud, clay, stream crossings, leaves, and pine straw. At times it was a 30 foot wide dirt road. At times it was a 12” wide single track ditch. As advertised, the rolling hills are relentless.

IMG_1069I was still feeling great after 90 minutes. {Photo Credit: Tanya Sylvan}

That said, I think for most of you, even an ultramarathon is achievable. It may seem crazy, but this is the heart of new, first time accomplishment – it redefines hard. You move the standard for what is physically and mentally possible.

So whether you are looking at a Couch to 5K program, 10k, Half Marathon, Full Marathon, 27 mile or 50K Ultra, 50 mile, 100 mile, or or a 150 mile race that starts with jumping out of an airplane and falling the first 2 miles (this does exist), that feeling of impossibility is just that – a feeling. It is not reality.

The truth is that with a realistic training schedule, a little knowledge about gear and injury prevention, some practice at hydration and exercise-related nutrition, and the support of your local running community (in my case, the BTC and the BUTS), you can do this.

FullSizeRender-3Rocking my BUTS gear after the race.

So, with all of that heady stuff aside, I’ll get practical. As are all first-time endeavors, it was a learning experience. So I will let you benefit from the wisdom of my experience.

What I did right:

Read. I read bunches of blogs about trail running, ultra running, gear, all of it. I read every line of every page of the Lake Martin 100 website, which is really thorough about all things course, preparation, and survival. (Gaiters For The Win!!)

Listen. I picked all the trail runner brains in my orbit. I did what they said. I like to benefit from the wisdom of everyone else’s experience. Because of others, I had all sorts of goodies like a blister kit, wet wipes, and super greasy feet impervious to water.

IMG_1065 copyI was still feeling good at the Heaven Hill aid station. {Photo Credit: Random Dude.}

Train. I asked a 100 mile vet what trails I should train on. She sent me to harder ones than I planned on, but I am so glad I listened and did what she said.

Overprepare. I had about 500 miles worth of Tailwind (advanced Powerade), snacks, sunscreen, bugspray, and socks in my drop box at the main aid station. Extra everything.

IMG_1063Ahhhhh, downhill. {Photo Credit: Tanya Sylvan}

What I did wrong:

Under hydrate. I drank approximately 5 liters of fluid, but I was on the course (including resting on benches and at aid station stops) over 8 hours.

Around mile 22, my legs began teetering on the brink of charley horses, twinging with every little trip, giving that moment of panic when you feel the muscles begin to tighten and curl.

At one point I intentionally fell down to immediately relieve the tension before it could tighten any further. By the time the race ended, I was walking all the hills, even the tiniest 1% grades, because even a minor incline was inducing the beginnings of Nightmare on Cramp Street.

Most of my trail training just happened to be on cold & dry days. The day of the race was humid, at times sunny, & after awhile, hot.

TMI, but after a final 6:35am pre-race port-a-potty stop, I didn’t pee until 4:30pm, long after finishing, rehydrating, and showering. Bottom line: under those conditions, 5 liters wasn’t near enough.

Not long enough training runs. My longest trail training run several weeks before Lake Martin was 16 miles. Since I had run a full road marathon 5 weeks prior to this race, I didn’t feel like a 20+ mile long trail run was necessary. Oops.

I felt great for about 20 miles. The last 7 were so much harder than they had to be. I wish I had done a 22 mile training run before I tapered down for the race. The single track inclines felt steeper and steeper as I went along, until I looked like I was sneaking up the secret path to Mordor, crawling with my weary hobbit legs at a 22:00/mile pace.

IMG_0992Mile 23. No comment.

What else:

When I got to Mile 23, the trail was named Rock Bottom. I sat on a bench. I took off my pack. I texted with friends. I just chilled. I did not see one other human for that entire section of the course, a 7 mile loop between aid stations. I assumed I was last, and I was just fine with it.

IMG_0993Rock Bottom wasn’t so bad.

I only got off track once for about 100 yards, but quickly retraced my steps and got back on the well-marked course. This is not unusual, but you can’t be lost for long. There are blue flags EVERYWHERE on the route, and signs marking every turn.

As it turned out, I wasn’t last. The last 2 miles of the 27 were an out-and-back to a spool of plastic tape to prove you made it to the turnaround. After I got my blessed piece of blue tape, I turned around for the last mile victory lap, and passed about 5 or 6 people. They looked just as tired as me.

IMG_1062-2The final stretch – I didn’t die! {Photo Credit: Tanya Sylvan}

But all of that eventually ended in a glorious wave of cheering, high-fives, a medal, pictures, fluids, potato chips, delicious soup, flip-flops, and later a giant cheeseburger.

FullSizeRender-4Kowaliga Restaurant. A+.

All together, it was a fantastic experience. The every-flavor forest was so many different kinds of beautiful. The lake itself was a frequent canvas behind the rustling trees. The birds and frogs and babbling streams provided the background music. The camaraderie of crews, pacers, and fellow racers – both old friends and people I met during the race – was worth the price of admission. The aid station volunteers were aggressively helpful and sincerely compassionate.

I definitely plan to do another ultra. Maybe a 50K.

And I will benefit from the wisdom of my own experience the next time I redefine hard.