25 April 2012

Boston Bake-Fest, Part Two: Tales From the Oven

Ed. Note: For those of you who wandered here via the Marlborough Enterprise or the Hudson Sun, welcome! This article consists of various tidbits from Boston. The primary story on the race can be found below this posting in "Boston Bake-Fest, Part One". Enjoy!

Mama Nature, she is maddening. Last week, it was July. This week, it’s April again. It’s lovely marathon weather, in the forties and fifties every day, even a bit cold. It’s made for some delightful runs, like yesterday’s nine-mile hammer through the north Worcester and Holden hills. But it’s a week late. Mom, check your calendar next year, OK?

The fallout from last week’s Oven Roaster Special has been on a different plane from usual. I’m used to complimentary comments from fellow runners on my pace, to which I remind them that everything is relative, and their views of my times are entirely consistent with my views of the truly fast guys’ times. But this year the runners knew how tough it was, and while I’d considered my three-oh-five to be merely a survival standard, others thought better. I found myself on the receiving end of comments like, to quote a highly experienced co-worker runner (and with apologies for violating my usual family readership standards), “3:05 in that s*** ain’t no joke!” Spoken by a guy who passed out in Boston’s hot 2004 edition. Says it well, I guess.

And I’m used to the “Wow, you ran the marathon?!” and “Gee, I can’t drive that far!” comments from the non-running majority of the population. This year, however, the event took on an almost epic image in the eyes of the public. Everyone knew it was hot, and, we New Englanders being a highly running educated crowd, everyone knew how bad this was for we poor marathoners.

Yes, your average New Englander is quite running educated, and very involved in our annual signature event. More than ever, this was a race of the people. More than ever, the crowd pulled us through. More than ever, they made it possible not just with their vocal emotional support, but with their hugely omnipresent material
support. I am humbled at the goodness that a half-million souls can pour (literally) upon us, and I offer an entirely inadequate thank you to every person with a hose (like the one here in Wellesley), with water, with ice, with other refreshments both virtuous and otherwise, with comforts of every imaginable sort, and even with those young ladies near Heartbreak with their Super Soakers which frankly just about bruised my ribs with their power, but felt great just the same.

And with that, some snippets from the day…

Old Friends, New Friends: Paying it forward, it was fun to provide guide service to my training buddy Issam and show him the ropes of getting to the Athlete’s Village. Unfortunately, I lost him amidst the throngs, but linked up with GBTC compatriot Joe the Plumber (who, in my usual blog style, is not a plumber at all, but as a principle in his family’s firm which does, among other things, plumbing, and as such he’s gained this moniker) …just in time to make the jog as a team to our common starting corral number two. It’s always more fun to head downtown with a bud.

Unable to find the usual Squannacook River Road Runner camp at the Village, I did happen across Central Mass Strider friend Cyndy and her two co-runners, sporting bright color-complimentary shirts stenciled “Forrest”, "Bubba”, and “Lt. Dan”. (Never mind that they were all ladies.) I loved it. Run, Forrest, Run! And though I
missed them before the race, afterward the Squannies once again hosted a fine finish-line fete (feety foto!) replete with goodies, beers (I brought the ibuprofen), and probably most important of all, a shower (though ironically, with the constant bathing on the course, I was pretty clean at the end). Always a good time.

En-route I made acquaintance with a young lady who wisely elected not to run as an elite. That might seem odd, but since the women’s elite race goes off twenty-two minutes early (yes, it’s an odd number, but it does), Elizabeth reasoned that if you’re not going to be in the thick of it, which she wouldn’t, it would be a very lonely race. She opted to run with the crowd, and her reward was a share of the precious ice my friend supplied at mile eight. When Cori held up that bag as I approached, I watched several runners lunge for it. It looked like a game of keep-a-way as she protected that life-giving gift until my arrival. On a hot day, nothing makes friends like a bag of ice!

We ran together off-and-on till sixteen or seventeen (you never really remember when you part ways, though I did see her being interviewed after the finish…) during which time we came across Kim, she of the duo of Kim the Winner and Ryan the Pacer of Baystate Fame. At mile fourteen, Kim was not a happy person. Yet she hauled through it and finished quite respectably. Way to hang in there!

And finally, taking a needed rest on a downtown Boston curbstone, chatting up some New York Road Runner guys about my plans for NYC this fall, who happened to meander by? None other than arch rival BadDawg EJ, his three-seventeen putting me up three-to-two in our series. Nyah.

Are You Kidding? The day before I was chatting with friend Michelle, who oversees the “Sweeps Team”, the two hundred or so volunteers who patrol the finish are for people in medical trouble, the open end of the triage funnel. In her usual chipper way she insisted that I stop in to say hello at the med tent upon finishing. In the face of an expected onslaught – which certainly did materialize – her insistence of hospitality was charming, but I couldn’t fathom getting in her way. Needless to say, not needing medical services post-race, I left her to her Herculean task undisturbed.

Germs? What Germs? In a world overburdened with hand sanitizer, which I am convinced does nothing but kill off the easy marks and leaves the nasty ones to evolve on, this marathon was a celebration of the power of strengthening your immune system through shared everything. Water was simply not to be wasted. If it didn’t get drank or poured on the body, it was passed on, cups, bottles, whatever, we simply didn’t care, we shared. And I didn’t catch Ebola. Imagine that.

About That Headband… I mentioned wearing the freebie expo-provided headband. I mentioned that it worked wonders. I mentioned that it was Geeky as Hell (can’t get much geekier than this photo before the start, eh?). I should also mention that it’s in my genes. Way back in my First Lap days, my red, white, and blue headband (shown here in black & white, we didn’t have color photos, it was so long ago) was a trademark, ultimately geeky, yet so well known that I still own it
and stuff it in my pocket for a good laugh at high school reunions. Check out those sweat socks!

Ever the Obsessive? In a low-tech throwback tradition, we set up the VCR in our non-TiVo, non-DVR household so we can catch the race coverage. Entertaining in its own right, it’s always fun to look for Dear ‘ol Dad on the tapes. We usually get lucky and get a good long shot or two, and this year was no exception. There’s that long shot up Boylston Street, and sure enough, there I am, a minute from finishing this beast, and, what? After a week of telling people that I didn’t care about times, there I am, caught in the act, looking at my watch. Ten Yard Penalty, Excessive Obsession.

I confess, I did click a split. But I didn’t care what it was. Really. Trust me.

And Did It Work? I’d been told that wearing Greater Boston Red would bring out the crowd support. And the verdict is? You bet it did. Granted, the awesome Boston crowds will yell out just about anything written legibly on a runner, but it was clear that wearing BOSTON while running BOSTON brought out the hometown spirit. And yes, it lifted me. Especially the guy who yelled out, “Greater Boston, this is BOSTON, this is YOUR RACE!” He got to me. Really. It WAS my race. Cool. And I got to pay it back as second man, scoring for our Greater Boston Masters team. No dramatic victories here, but thirteenth out of sixty-eight masters team, hey, I’ll take it.

Translating to Normalcy: I pulled out last year’s results and saw that my time would have only earned about 220th place last year. No surprise. What was interesting was that my 742nd place would have meant having run about a two-fifty-two last year – right around my target time had we had somewhat normal weather. Deep and mystical, I know, I know.

Damage Report? Minimal. I expected major blistering from wet shoes. Somehow, my body was drenched, my feet were not. I expected major chafing from wet clothing. Didn’t happen. Half a bruised toe, but as someone’s sign read somewhere along the course, toenails are overrated. The usual quad burn, maxed out on Wednesday, but not bad. Miles of Cape Cod beach walking that day probably helped. Thursday I found myself going sub-sevens on the Rail Trail. Go figure. Truth is, dropping the pace to lower the temperature made it pretty mild on the mechanics, even if the overall effort in the heat was mighty. In general, ready to get back on the horse.

And the Crowd: I have to mention them again. Thank you again.

17 April 2012

Boston Bake-Fest, Part One

It was epic. I can’t think of any other way to begin to describe yesterday’s Boston Marathon. Utica may have their Boilermaker, but we had ourselves a Broilermaker. And how hot was it? That depends on who you ask. The Weather Gods said it would be seventy-five at the start. Some reports had it over eighty. I can’t say for sure except that it was hot. Those same Gods said we’d see eighty-five by the finish in Boston, assuming you finished by 1 PM. Some reports had it closer to ninety at various points on the course. And most didn’t finish by 1 PM. It kept getting hotter.

To steal the Arizona joke, “Yeah, but it was a dry heat.” Truth be told, it was not summertime oppressive. The humidity probably stayed south of fifty percent. That saved us, or at least it saved those of us who were saved. That made it possible to control the core temperature, and that was the key to the day. But not everybody succeeded at that game.

When was the last time you went to a race where the race director told you (in this case, via email, the day before), to consider this not to be a race? They suggested we look at it as an experience. Well, they certainly got that right. It was an experience like no other.

Cutting to the car crash, I’ll tell you that I survived, and survived quite well. I suggested pre-race that my seemingly increasing tendency to feel cold the last couple winters probably worked in my favor. I’ve never thought of myself as particularly heat tolerant. But hey, those senior citizens sit in the rest homes under blankets with the heat cranked to eighty-five. Perhaps heat tolerance is a function of age?

I went into this race thinking significant Personal Best. No, scratch that, I was thinking that when I was expecting a traditional Boston Marathon, doing the traditional planning for how to keep warm at the village, what clothing to donate at the start, whether to don the long sleeves, you know, the usual Spring in New England survival stuff. When I found my baggage bag mysteriously light, since there was literally no warm clothing in it, when I found myself seeking the tents at the Athlete’s Village not to stay out of the cold spring rain but for shelter from the 9 AM sun, when I couldn’t even don my traditional modesty shroud (a.k.a. long garbage bag) to hide the, ehem, in the starting corral, the reality of the day was inescapable. Slow the pace twenty to thirty seconds per mile, stay to the right for maximum shade, drink obscene amounts of fluid, and settle for whatever time comes up on the ticker, so long as your own ticker is still ticking and you are vertical all the way down Boylston Street.

And I say all the way down Boylston Street, because it was so tough a day that even having the finish line looming large in your sights wasn’t enough. Upon returning home late Monday I found a phone message from the Beth Israel Hospital Emergency Room, trying to reach me as they had a friend and co-worker of mine in their possession and hadn’t been able to reach his wife yet in Canada or his travelling companion (who of course had his wallet and passport, because these things always work out for the least convenient option). Dave made it to Boylston Street. But not all the way down Boylston Street. Twenty-Six-Point-One, lights out, woke up in an ice bath in the E.R., and learned that his core had been at one-oh-five. And another two hundred were scattered across the city in various hospitals, they being the worst of the twenty-five-hundred treated in the med tents. That’s what kind of day it was.

At nine miles, I knew a loyal friend would be waiting with her traditional oranges, but this year also with ice. Approaching, I bellowed out “ICE” to make it clear that citrus was detritus in my eyes. My reward was a healthy Ziploc of life sustenance (and the ire of several runners who didn’t get that targeted prize, but yes, I shared). Using a trick from a friend in my church band (thanks Julie!), I gripped those cubes in each hand till they vanished a mile and a half later. Hands turned radiators. And it seemed to work.

It was those kinds of tricks that kept me going. Ice whenever available, clutched with abandon to squeeze out every kilocalorie of kool. Water from every table and many rogue sources, two sips for me, the rest over the body. Pictures have me utterly drenched, but it was worth it. Even the bathwater served up at some of the sunnier stations served as effective evaporative cooling. Not just a family refueling, but a complete belt swap at Newton Lower Falls, and complete consumption of every drop of rocket fuel in both belts. And rather than donning a hat against the sun, which I know from training runs does nothing but wick fluids away from my head to drip, pour, roar uselessly off the visor onto the street, I opted for the freebie headband given away at the expo courtesy of JetBlue. Geeky? You bet. Effective? Priceless.

Dropping the pace meant turning down the burn rate, which combined with all those tricks meant I hit the half feeling pretty good. And though I was on two-fifty-seven pace, knowing that I never run Boston in negative splits, that was in fact evidence to me that I’d kept the pace well under control. The other way that was obvious was the notable absence of mental math. I didn’t count, didn’t know, didn’t care how many seconds were in the bank for any given time goal. It just didn’t matter. After all, on a day when a ton of people are already walking at five miles, yes, five miles in, having started in the second corral with the front ranks, you know it just doesn’t matter.

Into the hills, it was a game of metering the effort to control the temperature, which meant slowing the pace as much as needed, into the high sevens here and there, and not caring what time was lost. In a typical race I’m wondering whether my glycogen stores will hold out. In this race I thought of nothing but whether my temperature would stay down.

In a typical race, I’d never try anything I hadn’t done in practice. In this one, I had my “In case of emergency, break glass” plan in my back pocket, a sample pack of electrolyte capsules I’d never tried. Somewhere between eighteen and twenty-two, can’t even remember if it was before or after Heartbreak, I broke the glass. Here goes nothing, let’s hope they go down and don’t come back up. Two miles from the finish, feeling no ill effects, down went the other half of the pack. Did they help? Who can say? But with the calves starting to twitch around twenty-two, telling me that electrolyte levels were not where they should be, it seemed a reasonable gamble.

And here’s the irony. This was the first Boston since 2008 where I never stopped for a walk break. Certainly the eased pace helped with that, but still, I am somewhat mystified how that was possible under the conditions. And that was really what turned this into a big success. I passed few when they were actually running, and was passed by plenty of running bodies. But I passed scores and scores and scores some mores of walkers, some time after time after time as they’d blow past and pull up short in the heat. I’ve nothing against walk breaks and know they can improve your final time. But Monday those cool-down walk breaks the other guys were notching didn’t match my luck in being able to maintain temperature while continuing to motor on.

Running with bib number 1520 (adorned with Meb Keflezighi’s and Bart Yasso’s signatures for divine protection), which isn’t an exact seeding due to the mysteries of elite number assignment but is pretty close, I halved that by the end, nabbing my best Boston finish ever place-wise. Granted, nearly five thousand didn’t come to the starting line, though the bulk of those were not in the first two corrals. Granted, nearly one thousand didn’t finish. Still, I have no complaints. On a day when most people I knew ran twenty, forty, even sixty minutes or more behind their normal expected performance, I pulled it in less than nine minutes off my Boston best in 3:05:07, for 742nd place, and a surprising 38th among the 2246 finishers in the 45-49 Old Farts Club. For an added bonus, possibly due to a few of my teammates pulling out for injuries, possibly not, matters not, I scored for the Greater Boston Masters team. It was nice to know I could contribute to the cause.

Sixteen marathons, six Bostons now in my bag. None like this one. Not one I’d like to repeat. But it’s nice to know it can be done.

More stories on the Bake-Fest will follow in future posts.

Oh, and not to forget, that first photo courtesy of Ted Tyler from Coolrunning by way of JimRhoades.com. Thanks, as always!

14 April 2012

So Much For That One...

It was a lovely day in Boston today, a delightful day for a walk across the city, across the Seaport district, through Common and the Public Garden, and out Boylston Street to the finish line.
It might have been a tad warm for a marathon, but it would have been quite manageable. Unfortunately, the marathon wasn’t today. Today was just the annual trek to the expo, and a fine time it was, this year gaining mug shots with none other than the leader of the US Olympic Marathon team, Meb Keflezighi, and the namesake of my favorite track workout, Bart Yasso.

Since this year’s event was summarily evicted from the Hynes Convention Center and had to make do with the low-rent digs on the waterfront, it was a two mile stroll to take Darling Daughter the Younger over for her desired re-exploration of milepost twenty-six-point-two. But hey, what’s two miles on a lovely day? Remember that lovely day? It’s springtime in New England, when we often have lovely days. Often, but not always.

We always talk about how anything can happen on race day, and no matter how well prepared and trained you are, you just might wake up on the wrong side of the athletic performance bed, or you could spring an injury mid-race, or a North Korean rocket might fall out of the sky and interrupt your focus, or, yes, the weather might stink. And we always talk about how the very nature of the marathon, which limits the annual number of do-overs for most mortal souls, means that if any or all of these things happen, it’ll be a while before you get another shot. Yet somehow these things don’t seem to happen. Oh sure, I’ve had marginal days, but by and large, when marathon day rolls around, the ducks line up, and we put in a respectable day at the races.

Till now.

Mother Nature, she is a mean one, and not just overtly, but in subtle ways. Don’t just stick it to the man, stick it, pull it out, and stick it again. Make it hurt doubly, playing not just on the absolute pain, but the mind game as well. Gee, doc, putting that needle in really hurt. Why are you taking it out and putting it in again?

We can’t resist a car crash, and we can’t resist checking that ten-day forecast as soon as it pops up on the weather web sites. We know that at ten days out, it’s as good as a roll of the dice, but we do it anyway. Besides, I am convinced that since it is simply a roll of the dice, it’s good to see it early and see it look bad, because you know it’s going to change.

And so on the April seventh, Marathon Monday came into view, and they reported a forecast high of sixty-two. Not bad, though fifties would be nicer. Hey, it’s ten days out, it’ll change. And within hours, they added showers to the mix and bumped it up a degree, and then another degree the next day. Ah, so we’ll have chafing and sore pointy bits in the mix. No worries, it’ll change.

A day later, on the ninth, the unthinkable came. The marathon equivalent of hearing that the dam has broken upstream and disaster is coming. Low sixties became, er, excuse me? Eighty-one degrees. Um, er, uh, say what? In one day, Mr. Weatherman, you went up sixteen degrees, from a little warm to Minor League Hell? Now I know why that radical group in the sixties called themselves the Weathermen. Panic in the streets. Emails flying. Whaddarwegonnadooo? That’s easy, sit tight. It’ll change. Though at this point, we’re thinking, not so sure…

Silly us. We should know better. Only two days later, now on the eleventh, back to sixty-five. So perhaps there was a glitch in the modeling software. Perhaps that eighty-one-degree-scare wasn’t real. Of course it wasn’t real. And there are no monsters under your bed or in your closet either. Now get a drink of water, go back to bed, and get some rest.

Not so fast. Before the day was out we were back to seventy. And just for sport they threw in thunderstorms. Of all the things I’ve contemplated happening in a marathon, getting hit by lightning hasn’t usually been on the docket. We just don’t do that in the usual New England marathon seasons of April or late October. Then again, nobody thought they’d get stuck at a railroad crossing at Buffalo 2010, either…

Mommy Nature wasn’t done. Two days later, now on the thirteenth, she traded the excitement of watching the photographers on the crane trucks getting fried by million-volt bolts with a return not only to Minor League, but indeed Major League Hell. Mid-eighties. Yes, doc, I really liked the pain the first time you stuck it too me, but it was nice that you pulled it out, except that now you’ve stuck it in again, even harder.

And so this is where we stand. Having endured the emotional and meteorological roller-coaster to get here, the target is eighty-nine degrees on Monday. But hey, only eighty-five by the time I hope to get to Boylston Street, downright chilly. Race officials have re-instituted the ability to defer your entry, a nicety they’d pulled in the recent New World Order of registration. And they’ve gone much further than that, issuing a statement that anyone not truly fit for this effort (code language for charity runners), and even perhaps those who are (code language for all of use sacrificial lambs) should consider not running the race. Hey, what if they held a marathon and nobody came? The streets would run with the blood of a million dumped-out Gatorade cups. What a sticky situation…

My Greater Boston buds are exchanging laments. Many of them, like me, really felt like the stars were lined up for a good one. My training, my racing, pretty much everything was pointing to a possible breakthrough. We’re all now focused on survival. Ratcheting it back – way back – to assure we don’t end up on the casualty list. It’ll be an entirely different kind of adventure. No personal bests. No sense in any sort of heroics. But at least we won’t be shivering at the athlete’s village beforehand!

It kills me to think we’re throwing in the towel before the gun has fired, and I hope we’re all wrong on this one, but human physiology and common sense must prevail, and we must live to race another day.

So much for that one.

02 April 2012

It's Baked

Why wouldn’t I think I was ready to go? Lessee, since October, a marathon personal best, a 10K best, a 5 mile best, two solid halves, a twenty-mile paced well beyond any previous trek in that distance class, then a 30K best and a few more goodies in the mix. It’s really been quite a ride the past six months. Yet there’s always the training run after, when I feel like stale crusty bread (or worse), and wonder how the heck will I make it to Framingham, let alone Boylston Street.

OK, it’s time to quit whining and accept the fact that it’s baked. My training is in. I’m ready as I can be. Saturday pretty much nailed that down beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Tri-Valley Boston Tune-Up 15K is usually the weekend before Boston, and being a Saturday race (I love Saturday races, no church conflict), that gives you nine days before the Big Boston Party. Really a nice time slice between a last hard outing and Boston. Yet for some reason, this year’s thirty-second running was moved up a week. I forgot to ask the organizers why. Matters not, two weeks out is still a nice time slice between the last hard outing and Boston. Thus we trundled down to Upton (or perhaps up to Downton?) this past weekend for a slog in what threatened to be up to three inches of snow, a rather cruel joke coming two weeks after our eighty-degree scare.

For picnickers it was a dreadful day. For racers, it couldn’t have been better. I think back to that miserable day at the Wineglass Half last fall when forty-one degrees and a wind-driven rain made for a truly dreadful (yet still fast) day, and marvel at how this thirty-eight degree day with a mild drizzle was oh so different. No wind. And somehow a warmer thirty-eight. Hard to pin down why, but it worked.

And the Tri-Valley course is right up my alley. Very few flat spots. Several notably non-flat spots. My favorite spot where a homeowner has posted a street-sign-like-sign reading “Entering Heaven” right atop a significant climb. Indeed, about the only thing I’m not crazy about is the downhill finish, tough for we who prefer the climb to the free-fall, especially the final sprint combined with free-fall.

Coming into this race I had little reason to believe I couldn’t top my best or fifty-eight and a half, set two years ago since last year an errant shoelace cost me twenty seconds. What surprised me is by how much it happened, and, I hesitate to say but must, how relatively easy it was. Not easy, but relatively so. This wasn’t Stu’s, which devastated me for two weeks. Granted, this was only half the distance of Stu’s. But still, there were really no lasting effects whatsoever. Hallelujah!

With the mark to beat being six-sixteens, and the plan being to nail six-tens and go home happy, we embarked into the gray morning. Now, a year ago, if I went out sub-six for anything longer than a 5K, I’d think I’d killed it in the first stage and wait for the inevitable crash. Saturday, when we hit the mile in five-fifty-two, it was a “yeah, that’s cool” moment. Perspectives change. I knew I’d ratchet it back a bit, but the bearable zone was in the six-ohs, easing up to the teens only on the miles with notable climbs. No mistake, it was hard work the whole way, but manageable.

Mental math told me I’d banked enough to mail it in from the halfway point for the personal best, but when I hit six miles on 10K personal best pace, crazy thoughts germinated about not just going below fifty-eight, but below fifty-seven minutes. Tri-Valley always brings a decent crop of solid competitors, but it’s still slim enough that the higher miles are usually lonely. Pleasingly, this time I hadn’t lost contact with those in front. Around mile seven, Dan, a frequent though young rival from the Central Mass Striders, started creeping back till he was in shooting range. Knowing his lack of advanced years, I really didn’t care place-wise whether I took him, but knowing his competitive nature, I knew that if I threatened, he’d respond, and the battle would drive us both to better times.

At eight and a quarter I pulled up on him and grunted the possibility of sub-fifty-seven. As expected, he responded, and I dogged him for a half mile as we crested the last rise before putting on a small burst to overtake. Expecting his return, it was all hands on deck, dropping to five-thirty-something for the last downhill third of a mile and holding seventh place across the line, dissolving the fifty-seven minute line, slicing nearly a minute-forty off, and burning 15K at my 10K PR pace.

Frequent readers know that I usually eschew specific numbers when I commit these tales to virtual paper. It’s not about my numbers, because every reader has their own. Instead, it’s my intent that every reader be able to relate to the underlying story, unclouded by their impression of the absolute results. This time, however, the numbers mattered. The numbers, especially relative to the effort, drove home the reality that it really is time to quit whining. It’s time for Boston. It’s baked.

[Photos by and courtesy of Ted Tyler of Coolrunning. Thanks Ted, even if I do have that usual Death-Warmed-Over look!]

Finally, here’s a post-script on last week’s diatribe on the luck of not losing an eye to the Killer Roadside Thorn of Lincoln Street. A couple days later, bad things happened, literally seeing spots, or at least a spot, but in the other eye – the one I didn’t think I’d hit. As we typically do, the mental race was on, c’mon, remember, what happened at that moment? A response of alarm from my friendly local optometrist with instructions to see a specialist immediately didn’t help. Shades of Wineglass, another, “What have I done?” moment. Angst. Not, as my daughter likes to cite, teen-age angst, but real-live, grown-up, I might have just killed half my sight major-league angst.

Well, no, I didn’t kill anything. Nothing dead, and I didn’t do it to myself (I swear!). No real damage, and to my utmost relief, an assurance from Herr Eyedoktor (he was a bit German it seems) that the blunt-head-trauma-by-Hawthorne-branch wasn’t to blame, nor would my continued training up to and through Boston contribute to continued woes. Just age. Which, considering how I actively deny that concept in most other aspects of my life, I suppose just has to try harder to pop into my field of attention. Age, you won this round, and you will win the war, but now it’s time to put you back in your box and ignore you. I’ve got a marathon to run.