Monthly Archives: May 2007

Am I a Cheese Roller?

Recently, the following email showed up:

From: James Fryer
Date: May 14, 2007 1:07 PM
Subject: Are you a cheese roller?

Hi Jason,

Apologies for the out of the blue email.

I’m actually looking for the Jason Crowther who won last year’s cheese rolling event in Gloucestershire. I noticed on your website that you are a downhill runner and thought I might have found the right man – but then looking at your picture you look nothing like the picture of the Jason I’ve seen.

Perhaps by some strange coincidence you share the name and sporting interest of the person I’m after!

Would really appreciate it if you could get in touch.

Kindest,
James

Cheese Rolling, for the uneducated, is pretty much what it sounds like, chasing a wheel of cheese down a hill. I giggled as the read the Cheese Rolling Wikipedia entry where it says that later rounds of the competition are postponed as the ambulances need to return from the hospital after dropping off contestants from previous rounds.

Turns out that I’ve been warring for top search result on Google with a few other Jason Crowther’s. The guy in the top spot at the moment happens to be Jason Crowther, the Cheese Rolling Champion.

Couldn’t leave my new friend James hanging, so I sent this back:

hi james,

sorry, but I think you’ve got the wrong jason crowther. I’m more of the flatland running type myself. it appears that the jason crowther, the cheese roller, is besting me on google again. darn. by the way, I’m also not jason crowther the grad student, or jason crowther the triathlete.

cheers…

-=>j

I thought my wise ass reply would be the end of it. But, surprisingly, I got another reply.

Hi Jason,

Thanks for your email. Maybe you should give the cheese roll a go? It’s a bit of a vertical shift from flat running but I reckon it must be your destiny :)

Man, that’s a hoot.

hi james,

hmm. think I’m gonna pass on rolling. I seem to have enough trouble trying to keep myself injury free just running on the flats. knowing my luck, I’d probably break my leg on the walk up the hill. 😉

Nice to bump into someone a nice sense of humor.  He was kind enough to let me share this with his blessing.

Latest In Anti-Theft Technology

(Via the TechEBlog, via Digg) the Brief Safe. How clever! They’re a pair of fake tighty whitey underpants with a secret compartment for hiding your valuables. Nothing special there, we’ve all seen clothing with special pockets like that before. The Brief Safe goes a step farther by adding a realistic looking skid mark on the hind quarters. If I was a burglar, rifling through your drawers, I’d pass those over, for sure!

Mountain Goat 2007

Despite, my recent medical break, I was inspired enough by my short training run yesterday to give the Mountain Goat Race a shot. After missing it do to medical problems last year, I was really interested in doing it this year. Thankfully, my hand was well enough to let me give it a shot.

My running buddy, Larry, and I made the scene about 8:30. I second guessed myself a little bit about getting there so early, since I already registered and picked up my packet. Other than a chilly wind, it was quite comfortable out. We opted to leave our coats for the pre-race and make a trip back to the cars to dump them off before the start.

Before the race, we stumbled on some other 1st Marathon folks. It was good to see them on race day. I think some were kinda surprised to see me there, after basically blowing off the latest 2 weeks of training. I was almost as surprised to be there as them. I also got a chance to introduce myself to Arlene, the volunteer coordinator that I worked with to set up the Mountain Goat Volunteer Signup Page. She thanked me and said my little page helped her a lot. I thanked her for helping put together another great race. Its not the runners that make the race, its the volunteers. Props to everyone who helped out!

So, here’s the blow by blow, complete with route sketched out the Gmaps-Pedometer (disclaimer, I did this purely from memory and may have been off by a street or two here or there.) so you can follow along if you like. Normally, I like to include the splits for the miles, but I couldn’t wear my watch due to the wrist brace; I tried putting my watch on the other wrist, but it was just too uncomfortable, doh!

  • Start — With all the folks huddled into together for the start, I was starting to feel a lot more comfortable. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough PA power to cut through the crowd noise to get much useful info from the announcer. All I could make out was occasional numbers which I assumed was the time to start. Soon enough, the starters pistol fired and we were off. Same old, same old, run a few steps, stop, walk a few more, etc. I think was a little worse than usual as the running field crunch inward to get across the rather narrow mats.
  • Mile 1 — For me, the hardest part of most races is the first mile(s). Running to get to my comfortable pace in the middle of the crowd is always tough. This race wasn’t too bad, but there were a couple of times where I had shift around to get buy slower people. It did feel nice to get access to the entire road, unlike just the shoulder in the training runs.After making the turn onto Onondaga Street, traffic thinned substantially and I was able to slow things up just a little bit to leave something for later. Even a the slightly slower pace, I was still passing a lot of folks. That made me just a bit nervous that I was going to fast.
  • Mile 2 — Ah, here come the hills. As I made the turn on to Onondaga Ave, I heard a basketball bouncing. At first, I thought it was someone on the side of the road, but after closer inspection is was someone dribbling while running. Hmm, don’t think I’ve seen that trick before (even after some weird Boilermaker experiences…)I’m not sure why, but I think the transition from Onondaga Ave to Bellevue to Summit is my favorite part of the race. Maybe its because this where the part timers start to fall off?
  • Mile 3 — The bigger groups of runners are starting to fragment into smaller and smaller clumps. On Stolp, I’m running solo most of the time. I pass a few folks on the way up to the first water tower, but got a little winded, and they blew right back by me when things flattened out on Hancock.I’m still a little nervous that I’m going a little fast. I’m not passing hordes of people, but I’m still catching up to people that I think should be faster than me.
  • Mile 4 — This mile begins on the cusp of the first major downhill section. Man, if there’s one thing I gotta work on, its downhills. I think I’m way too tentative, as other folks are sailing past. I think its Out of Control Truck Syndrome. Just don’t feel stable when I’m getting major gravity assist. Something to work on. I was happy to make the slight climb back up Strathmore.In upper Onondaga Park (geez everything is named Onondaga around here, isn’t it?), I grumbled to myself that I always wanted to visit this park outside of running. It looks like a great place for a picnic and some pictures. The view from the tippy top is spectacular; it makes both race day and the training runs so worth it.
  • Mile 5 — After the nice view, its back to work. Ugh, more downhill. I’m happy to report that they moved the planters and cleaned up all the loose debris at the bottom of the hill where you make the left on Onondaga Park Drive. Again, folks cruising by me.Phew. Break time. Things are relatively flat until the monster that is Colvin. I had to duck an overly zealous volunteer pointing a Power Bar at me on the bend on Kirk Ave.
  • Mile 6 — Hydration check. Wanted to make sure I was good before Colvin. Still doing pretty good. Getting a little warm, but the cool breeze is keeping things comfortable.After enjoying a few blocks of relative flatness, I made the turn off of South Salina St onto Colvin. Its kinda deceptive. It looks like its not too bad; but, its pretty long and the steepness ramps up toward the eventual summit. For the first time this race, I saw some folks walking. I wasn’t gonna have any of that!
  • Mile 7 — Now we’re in the thick of it. I shortened my stride just a bit and chugged my way up the hill. I didn’t have any doubt that I’d make it, but I was noticeably tired at the top.Hmm, left knee is also feeling a little weird. A little pinch every now again.After the turn onto Comstock, my wind was pretty much back. The SU band was a great pick me up.But, Houston, we have a problem here. The left knee is starting to hurt more. Its not constant, and its not really in beat with my steps.

    Time for some water. That hit the spot.

  • Mile 8 — Making the turn onto Stratford and then again onto Ostrum, the pain was getting worse. Oh crap, its elevation related. I confirmed this as Ostrum began to level off. Geez, this is getting less and less fun, another big uphill followed by a bunch of downs.I made turn into Thorden Park and started up the steepest hill the course (not sure if its officially the steepest, but this far into the race, it sure feels that way.) Knee is really not happy with me. I really shorten my stride and grunt it up the final uphill part. Phew, maybe it was just tight?
  • Mile 9 — Hmm, nope. For a few steps, I thought I was in the clear. But, as soon as I the long rolling downhill around the pool, the pain came right back. The rest of my time in the park was wrestling with if I should hang it up or (stupidly?) try to finish.Soon enough, I was making the turn onto Harrison, the final downhill section. Ow, ow, ow, I kept to myself. Hate downhills enough as it is, the new knee pain thing took it to a whole new level of ick. Tons of people go blasting by me.Then, things level off for a block and the knee feels a little better. But, the final downhill section brought the pain right back.
  • Mile 10 — Wait, a second. Did they change the course? I’m sure if it was this year or last (especially since I missed last year.) But, the last time I did the Goat it went straight down Harrison to Salina. Now, it turns at South Crouse Ave and hooks up with East Genesee St. Fine, by me, but I wasn’t expecting that.Now that I’m back on the flat land, the knee is still hurting, but its pretty tolerable. So, I decided to keep the pace a little on the slow and ride out the rest of the race. I was little out of sorts with the change in course. The last mile felt a lot longer than it really was. It took forever to make it to the final turn back on Salina Street.The Goat finish always feels weird because after running on 2 lane roads for a while, ending up on Salina with its 4 lanes everyone spreads out. Kinda gives you the feeling that you’re the last person on the course. Luckily, there’s a sizable crowd out to pull me in.

    The clock was just about tick into 1:20 when it go close enough for me to read. Even with my knee still hurting, I gave a few full strides to get across the line.

So, how’d I do? 80:26 (as reported on the timing website; I looked at the print out at the race and it said 80:11; don’t know wassup with the difference.) I thought this was my 4th Mountain Goat, but after digging back through my logs, it was actually my third. My last time out (2005), my time was 90:42. So, even with the knee annoyance, I’m still a lot faster than back then. That, and 23 pounds lighter.

All in all, I was pretty pleased with the effort. I was a little disappointed about the knee problem. I suspect I could have been a few minutes better had it not been there. I think the lack of training in the last few weeks and inexperience on the hills did me in. Probably not the smartest option to keep running. But, I’m not going down with a fight!

Update — Here’s are clips from the local news:

Rock’n Band: Umphrey’s McGee

Recently, while digging through the Live Music Archive for something new to listen to, I stumbled on Umphrey’s McGee (excellent website too!). I had see the name a lot on both the Live Music Archive and etree; mainly when I scroll past them to find Dave Matthews Band stuff.

This particular time, I stopped on their 20070228 show. I saw Baba O’reilly (aka Teenage Wasteland) from the Who, in the set list. Hmm, don’t think I ever heard anyone cover that before. So I gave the show a spin. A huge shout out to the Live Music Archive for their awesome in page flash player. Hold the phone, we’re on to something here. These guys rock. Intrigued, I listened to the rest of the show.

Hmm, what else can these guys do? I scanned for some more shows. I was pretty intrigued when I saw 20070303. Oh yeah, baby, covers of Pink Floyd‘s the Thin Ice and Another Brick in the Wall. Now we’re talking. Good stuff. They go traditional with just enough of their own stylings to keep it interesting. They also rock on with Neil Young‘s Cinnamon Girl. To wrap up that show, they also pulled off a great cover of Nirvana‘s In Bloom.

So, for the last few weeks, I’ve been digesting a show or two per day. Its been a while since I was excited about a band, but these guys have been doing a pretty good job keeping me entertained. I came for the covers originally, but their originals are pretty spicy on their own. A little hard to describe; kinda like a jumble of Greatful Dead, Dave Matthews Band, phish (though I’m not enough of a fan to know for sure), Rusted Root, and some others I can’t put my finger on. My current UM originals are Party’n Peeps and Resolution.

Check ’em out, I bet you’ll dig ’em.

Keep listening and you’ll find more excellent covers:

Good-bye Cast!

Me with a brace...
My incision... (click for bigger view)

Yesterday, I got the cast off from my ganglion excision surgery. Felt like an eternity that I was stuck with it, but in retrospect it wasn’t so bad.

Getting the cast of was kinda fun. I thought they were just going to unwind me luck a mummy. Forget that. They just whipped out some bypass scissors and hacked it off in a few seconds. Guess I’ll never know exactly what material the support in there was driving me nuts was made of; it was laminated in cushioning.

Then I got my first look at the incision itself. Man, that’s quite a bit bigger than I thought it would be. 2 stitches, but the length-wise one was pretty long. I though it was gonna hurt when they pulled it, but a couple of snips and a little pinch later, it was over with no big deal. With that, the nurse pointed me to the sink and said to give my arm a good scrub down. Man, that felt really weird.

The nurse then gave me a brace and said to hang out for a few minutes for the nurse practitioner to give me a going over. The practitioner said to where the brace all the time (except for showers, duh…) for another 2 weeks and then come back in for another follow up. She was also nice when I bugged her with all my questions about running and typing. The former as 100% ok (phew!); she even asked if I was doing the Mountain Goat (more on that in a second…). The typing was fine too, in moderation. If I started to get any pain, to just lay off for a while. Man, a load off my mind.

So, I just got back from my 1st Marathon group run. I’m extremely happy to report that wrist didn’t bother me at all in my 30 minute mini-run. I was really nervous that the brace would irritate the area, but it was just fine. I was also kinda scared that I’d forgotten how to run after 12 day break. The weather was beautiful and I felt great. Could have easily run for hours today, but thought it better to save myself for the Mountain Goat, tomorrow. Yep, I’m gonna give it a shot. In fact, I’m heading down to the expo to register now.