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  • Biloxxxi’s Keys to Riding MARTA

    2013 - 02.11

    I’ve been riding MARTA to and from work several times a week now since August. I think that’s enough to time to consider myself a seasoned rider. I ride the bus as well, which is about as scary a prospect as any of those softies in Cobb county can imagine. Given this and this article I read in today’s AJC, I’ve decided to share some of my thoughts on good ridership and keys to survival.

    First off, the biggest reason I ride MARTA is the God-forsaken traffic it Atlanta. I work roughly a dozen miles from where I live and rarely can I drive home in less than an hour. It doesn’t take me much longer than that to run home from work (which I’ve done.) The stress of not sitting in stop-and-go traffic for an hour cannot be understated and neither can the savings from avoiding that wear and tear on your car. I also don’t drive the world’s most economical vehicle, so it costs me about half as much a day to ride MARTA as it does to drive.

    Given this, here are some of my survival rules for navigating MARTA:

    1. Know your route. Know the route name/number as well as the final destination. This is doubly important on the buses. If you screw up on the train, you can just hop off and catch one in a couple of minutes going in the opposite direction, but if you get on the wrong bus, you might be waiting 40 minutes for one to come along going the other way. Also, be careful that you don’t get Northbound and Southbound mixed up when boarding trains. It’s easy to get turned around when you transfer lines. Especially if you’re boarding from the middle platform.

    PRO-TIP: Google Maps does a great job of planning your MARTA trip. Just input your Point A and Point B and click Transit Directions. You can input your departure time and it will do the rest. It’s usually easier than using the MARTA website itself.

    2. Buy a Breezecard. Keep it in your wallet. You can load it online without ever having to use the machine at the station at Breezecard.com. You look like a tool paying for your bus ride in quarters, plus sometimes the fare machine on the bus will be down and you get to ride for free!

    PRO-TIP: You don’t have touch the Breezecard itself to the sensor to open the fare gate. You can leave it in your wallet or ID badge carrier and just press that to the sensor. It’ll usually detect it. I’ve even had success leaving it in the case on my phone.

    3. Get your self some headphones and listen to music or something while you ride. Folks are usually pretty quiet on the morning buses and trains, so a lot of times I’ll just chill and drink my coffee and kinda take it all in. That dynamic is completely flipped in the evening, however. That’s when you typically have to deal with the more unsavory elements of public transit; people that have no concept of how to talk quietly, people that smell bad, people on cellphones, Bums, etc. Just turn on your headphones, crank the Bob Seger and work on some Nightmoves.

    4. Look like you you’ve been there before. This goes back to #1. If you know your route info and how the system works, you’re less likely to wind up in a situation you don’t want to be in. Don’t be freaked out by the bums or invalids or any of the other exciting new creatures you might encounter. Just treat it like you would a visit to Little Five Points; roll with it and head to the Vortex with all due haste.

    5. Give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination, especially when utilizing the buses. The trains pretty much run on time, but the buses are subject to traffic just like you would be if you were driving. I’m fortunate that I don’t have to be at work at exactly 9:00. If the bus is a couple minutes late and I’m late to the station and have to wait for the next train, it’s no big deal.

    Also, pay attention to what’s going on in the city on any given day. If school is out, the bus I ride in the morning will be right on time. If it’s in session, it’ll be 6 or 7 minutes later than the advertised time. You’ve gotta be attentive to that sort of thing or you’ll be late.

    Some general common courtesy guidelines:

    If you sit on an empty row, always sit on the inside seat by the window unless you’re really sure no one else needs to sit next to you. It’s a total dick move to just move your legs and make the other person climb over you to sit on the inside. If you’re one of those folks that’s uncomfortable having someone sit next to you, stand up. You can usually get a good leaning spot at the end of each car where the luggage and such is supposed to go.

    Don’t take the seats for people with disabilities or old folks. If you do, you damn well better get up when someone gets on the bus or train that needs them. I’ve seen people get stared down for this. It’s pretty entertaining.

    Always be polite to your bus driver. Say hello when you get on and thank them when you get off. They’re the folks that get you where you want to go and they’re the folks that will slow down and let you get on the bus when you’re 30 seconds late to the stop and they’re driving off.

    When you’re at the train station and riding the escalators, move to the right if you’re just gonna stand still. Many folks are hurrying to catch a bus that’s about to leave the station and you’re just standing there blocking them. I’ve missed buses because some jackwad halfway up the escalator is blocking up the works.

    Please, for the love of God, don’t ever get into political discussions with random bus riders. You inevitably end up yelling to someone on the other end of the bus and it’s just awkward. (One particularly strange guy on the 36 bus loves to do this. Unfortunately, someone always takes the bait)

    That’s about all I’ve got for the time being. Really, the most important thing to remember is that MARTA is never going to give you the kind of freedom you have in your car, but in exchange for that you get less stress, save some money on gas, possibly the chance to get some exercise, and the ability to explore some new areas of your city.

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    Some Updates

    2012 - 12.12

    So I’ve been rather lacking on the blog front for roughly the last 10 months. I’m gonna try to fix that. I spent most of yesterday cleaning up behind the scenes on the website. I deleted about 1200 spam posts (all comments are approved by me first, but still it’s time consuming.) I also had to run about 5 WordPress Updates since I was so far behind on that. Things are running much more smoothly now.

    On your right, you’ll see that I’ve added Amazon Ads. This gives me greater control over what folks see on here, so hopefully you’ll get stuff relevant to what I’m writing about, since that’s what you came for anyway.

    I’ve got some good stuff in the works for big time posts (along the lines of the Great Atlanta Fire and the old Candler Mansion) and I’m also gonna try to blog more about my everyday adventures. I don’t have quite as much free time to sit around and do nothing all day as I did in my previous job, but I’ll give it the old college try.

    Thanks for stopping by!

    -Biloxi Von Lutz

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    Kickball and the Smangin Pine

    2012 - 01.18

    I start walking your way
    And you start walking mine.
    We’ll meet in the middle,
    ‘Neath that old… Smangin pine?
    -Diamond Rio Meet in the Middle

    “Why do I still have that God-forsaken song in my head, and why can’t I hear anything?*” I asked myself as I disentangled myself from the 67 blankets on my bed. I hesitantly opened one eye and then the next, poking at my head with my senses to see just how hungover I was. Thankfully, not very.

    I reached over to check the clock. 11:30, it said, or near enough to make no difference. My head hurt from all the beers the night before, but I knew that could be handled with a hot shower and a cup of coffee, my shoulders ached from the previous morning’s swim, and my ears were ringing from the previous evening’s annual visit to the Monster Jam at the Georgia Dome. That, by the way, is a blog post unto itself, which I shall delve into when I’m feeling a bit saucier.

    I laid there in the bed for another half hour so, gathering my thoughts and plotting my next move. At the end of that span, all that I’d come up with is that I needed to shower and I needed to eat something.

    I crawled out of bed, which in my case isn’t a metaphor since the ceiling is only a couple feet above the bed, and made the precarious climb over all my assorted footwear and down the ladder, noting how sore I was. I fired up the Keurig coffee maker and hopped in the shower to wash off the scent of redneck and 1500 horsepower, alcohol-fueled beasts.

    An hour later I was sitting in my worn out, but incredibly comfortable recliner, watching Van Halen videos on YouTube when my cell phone rang. It was my friend Courtney. She’d called me the night before, but I was out at Monster Jam so I missed it. Better to not dodge two phone calls in a row…

    Me: Que?
    Courtney: What you doin?
    Me: Oh just sittin here watchin Van Halen videos on YouTube. Have you seen the vid for their new song?
    Courtney: No time for all that. You wanna play kickball this afternoon? We’re one person short for our game today…
    Me: Sure. Where do I need to be and when?
    Courtney: Piedmont Park at 2:00
    Me: It’s 1:30 now…
    Courtney: Yep, better hurry.

    I threw on some athletic clothes, grabbed my running shoes and water bottle, and skipped out the door to get in my truck, only to realize that it was… still at the bar from the previous night’s adventures. Shitballs.

    The bar was the opposite direction from the park and either route was gonna require me to run, so I just took off running towards the park. I arrived right as the game was starting and they immediately had me play first base. Seriously. First base.
    How did that conversation go? “Let’s put the kid who hasn’t even thought about a kickball in 10 years at first base that way he can be part of 75% of the plays.”

    Well, I ain’t one to argue. Sure enough, the first kick was back to the pitcher who immediately threw it to me. I caught it on the bag for the first out, but evidently there are two first bases placed side by side and I’m supposed to use the inside one for defensive plays and the runner uses the outside one. I was ill-positioned apparently, because the umpire gave me a bit of a lecture about it.

    I made it through the next couple of innings without incident, then someone fielded a ball and threw it to me when I wasn’t quite expecting it. I almost caught it, but it went through my hands and hit the runner. The umpire called him (or her, I can’t remember which) out. And so it began… the other team bitching and moaning about every little play.

    This other team, professionally known as “Bloodbath and Beyond,” colloquially known as “Team Pink Tampon,”  was mostly clad in pink. In fact, they had a rather large gentleman with a broken leg wearing a pink suit as their ringleader of sorts. While our team was cobbled together with 3/4 of the normal team, me, and a couple of pickups from other teams, our opponent took things really seriously. Especially once we took the lead.

    In one particularly egregious incident, one of our guys was trying to stretch a single into a double and slid feet-first in second base. The girl playing second caught the ball, but was off the bag. She stepped to the bag at the same moment our guy slid in. She inevitably fell and landed on top of him, dropping the ball in the process.

    The girl was not what you’d refer to as “spritely” and she hit the ground like a sack of rocks. The guy on our team slid past the bag, but kept his body on the base. The umpire rightly called him safe.

    Presumably, no one on their team had ever seen a baseball game because they all argued that he was out since his feet weren’t on the bag. The umpire’s proper call would have been right any day of the week and twice on Sunday, and fortunately for us, this was Sunday so he was doubly right. Team Pink Tampon was none-too-pleased with that call.

    I didn’t do much on the offensive side of the ball. I grounded out in both plate appearances, but if it’s any consolation, I thought at was safe on the second.

    The next to last inning, I was playing first base again when a guy kicked a sky-high foul ball. It took off to the first base side of the field and I took off after it, never really thinking I could catch it, but determined to give it the old College try. I chased it way off the playing field, and right before it hit the ground I stretched out and barely caught it with my fingertips.

    Unfortunately, I spent too much time congratulating myself and forgot that you could tag up on caught foul balls and didn’t throw the ball in as quickly as I should have, but the runner only made it to second, and ended the inning there. So no harm no foul.

    We held them scoreless in the last inning and handed Team Pink Tampon their first loss of the season. Afterwards, over beers and cheesy tots, I was made an official member of the team. I got a t-shirt and everything. We play again next Sunday and hopefully with a week to think about where plays should go and how to handle situation and all that, I should be able to improve my game.

    *Wiley bought a Diamond Rio t-shirt to wear to Monster Jam. Details of that event will follow. In the meantime enjoy having this stuck in your head for the next week…

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    A Wedding Fit for Princes of the Universe

    2011 - 11.28

    “Here we are, born to be kings
    We’re the princes of the universe…”
    QueenPrinces of the Universe 

    If my calculations are correct, I’ve been in ten weddings. Ten. That’s pretty much all the credentials I need to be the romantic interest in the next Katherine Heigl straight-to-video Rom-Com. I could at least give Seth Rogen a run for his money in the Knocked Up sequel, Knocked Up 2: Single Mom Raising a Kid in LA on TMZ Reporter’s Salary.

    Before you get the idea that I’m bitching, let me preface this by saying that I love being in weddings. Being a Groomsman is not nearly as stressful as being a Bridesmaid. You usher some folks in, you stand in the front looking regal while no one pays a bit of attention to you, you get introduced at the reception with an attractive girl who everyone knows you have no chance with, you do some dancing, and you get liquored up. What’s not to like?

    The only real downside to the whole thing is the tuxedo. Unlike Bridesmaids dresses, we don’t buy them, we rent them. That might seem like an awesome idea until you realize that you’re paying $150 for something you’re gonna wear 5 or 6 hours at most. You can’t use it for a Halloween costume the next year or cut the sleeves off of it like Rick Vaughn for your next AMEX commercial. About the only cool thing you can do is send it back stinking of Jim Beam and bad decisions.

    I’ve been in ten weddings, so at an average cost of $150 for a tuxedo rental, that means I’ve spent $1500 on tuxes over the last couple of years. It was an honor to be in each of these weddings, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat, but my memory is long and that money ain’t gonna earn itself, as they say. The time is not yet here, since I have no bonnie lass to offer my hand to in the hopes that what God hath made no mortal may wash assunder, but alas, here is how I plan my revenge…

    My wedding will be more of an “event” rather than a simple ceremony. I intend on having a medieval theme of sorts, but nothing at all like the Renaissance Festival or one of those LARPer outings. Think Highlander mixed with “A Song of Ice and Fire” and a little bit of “Lord of the Rings” thrown in for good measure. This is a marriage of royalty, not a bunch of ingrates renting out Medieval Times for the renewal of their common-law marriage vows.

    A simple wedding that was a day’s drive from where most of my friends live would not suffice at all. No, indeed it would not. A wedding for those born to be kings has to be held in the land of kings, the United Kingdom. Dover, more specifically. It’s right there in the name; Kingdom. From King, the Latin word for “King” and Dom, the Latin word for “Land of.”

    The Groomsman, of which there will be 13, will be spending the day preceding the ceremony learning to ride horses and wield swords at a marginally functional level. These will be no ordinary ponies like you see at the petting zoo or those inbred quarter donkeys you go ride on in North Georgia that couldn’t buck a paraplegic if he sank a hot poker into its ass. No, these will be Destriers. Great beasts of war bred by the Gods of yore for the sole purpose of frightening the innocent and riding down those that dare question the supremacy of the rider upon its not inconsiderable back. In essence, the small-block Chevy of its time. I expect a few broken bones.

    The rehearsal will be held at the training grounds where handlers will be on hand to help keep the horses calm and so as not to give away the beauty of the actual ceremony location. It should be just as magnificent to the Bridal (Groomal?) Party on the day of the ceremony as it is to all guests.

    The rehearsal dinner will be held on board my yacht (that I hope to own within the next couple of years), the U.S.S. Possumbane, a converted Galleon from the Colonial Era. Entrees will include bacon wrapped oysters, prime rib, lobster tails, and Publix Brand Pizza Rolls. I plan at least three varieties of homemade mac and cheese in addition. Vegetarian fare will be available as well, although I cannot guarantee its edibility or freshness.

    At the rehearsal dinner, all will be invited to share toasts and or stories of times gone by that pertain to me and and my betrothed. Many vintage libations will be available for consumption, so please try to keep it between the ditches until you’ve shared your toast. I know my soon-to-be wife is hot. You don’t have to remind me in the least respectable way possible by letting those in attendance know you’d smang it Tarantino, from dusk till dawn.

    After the rehearsal, members of the Bridal Party will be escorted back to Dover Castle for a sleepless night fraught with ghosts and waking nightmares of charging Destriers. The Bride’s parents will be escorted back to their rooms in Canterbury Castle (XOXO – Biloxxxi).

    On the morning of the wedding, each Groomsman will be attended to by a Squire who will help them don their boiled leather and light suit of armor, which they will be required to rent. I’ll provide each Groomsman with a customized helm and great sword or battle ax as gifts.

    The ceremony itself will be held on the White Cliffs of Dover and presided over by the Honorable William James Robert Peel, the 3rd Earl Peel, and Lord Chamberlain of the Household. For the uninitiated, he’s married to Winston Churchill’s granddaughter.

    White Cliffs of Dover

    The Groomsman will each ride to the altar on their respective Destriers whilst the incomparable Eric Johnson play Cliffs of Dover as they enter. A stable hand will be in attendance to help each Groomsman dismount and lead the horse to the tie-up point to the left of the altar. All horses will be equipped with those handy poop bags that are so eloquently referred to as “Horse Diapers” so as to prevent any unfortunate incidences during the ceremony.

     The Bridesmaids will then walk to the altar to whatever song the bride chooses as long as it’s sung by the girl at 0:22 in this video.

    That’s Roman’s younger brother’s girlfriend and she can sing. And I don’t mean sing as in she can sing “Highway to Hell” just like Bon Scott. I mean like actual, for real, “Holy shit, I just chose the right chalice to drink out of at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and God has sent this awesome voice to carry me on to eternal life” singing. Seriously, she’s good. She sang the Lord’s Prayer at Roman’s wedding and it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

    I myself will then ride to the altar on my black Steed of War, Pestilence. A massive Clydesdale bred in the Blue Grass of Kentucky. I will dismount and my Squire will present me with my wedding cloak. A black and gold cloak with the Von Lutz family coat of arms on the back fringed in the fur of a black bear.

    Rather than lighting a unity candle, I’d like to light a rope that burned slowly up and over the audience, so that right as the ceremony was ending it would let the hammer of the bells loose and the bells would start chiming. And yes, before you start asking, I am trucking the Liberty Bell in from Philly for the occasion. You can’t say you spared no expense without trucking in the Liberty Bell.

    The ring will be brought forth by a child dressed in a magnificent golden suit of armor riding a Shetland Pony. He’ll remain mounted throughout the ceremony and will lead my bride and I out at the end of the ceremony. Sort of a drum major type role, if you will.

    As far as vows go, I was tempted to borrow from Ricky’s vows from The Trailer Park Boys

    I Richard, promise to love and to not break the law as much as I used to. I promise to be a good father to my child and to not swear any more or as much as I do in public places and I promise to love you as much as I can and as often as I can under the circumstances…

    But I thought better of it, given the classy, biblical nature of the wedding thus far. I’m gonna keep that portion of the ceremony between myself and my future ex-wife for the time-being.

    After the exchange of vows, the bride and groom (me, in case you haven’t been paying attention thus far) will remain at the altar until all the other members of the wedding party have retreated down the aisle, unlike most weddings. The Groomsmen and Bridesmaids will pair up and ride out on the groomsmen’s respective horses. Once behind the audience, the horses will stop and the Groomsmen will raise their swords to the sky. the Bride and Groom will ride betwixt them and gallop off into the sunset… only to reemerge 20 minutes later at the reception.

    The reception will be held in a huge tent, henceforth referred to as the King’s Tent, heated with braziers on the grounds of Dover Castle, but before the reception, the guests will be seated in a small arena erected on the grounds. The wedding party will be introduced to the audience at this point. The introductions will be made with Queen featuring Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden on vocals playing Princes of the Universe.

     After the introductions are made, a tournament will be held in honor of the wedding day. Jousting seems kind of stupid to me so there will be none of that. There will be a horse racing tournament held between the Groomsmen and some select guests. Other guests are welcome to bet on the outcome and a Las Vegas bookie who attended the previous day’s training will be present to set the handicap for the riders.

    There will also be a melee where the Groomsmen and select guests will fight until surrender or victory. This will follow Royal Rumble rules where if you’re thrown from the melee area, you are eliminated, but can come back one additional time later in the contest. The winners of these contests will receive the ultimate honor of sitting at the table with the bride and groom and getting a dance dedicated to them with their lady or wench of choice. Bets are welcome during this event as well. (Brief Note: In the unlikely event of a kidnapping of the groom, winnings will be confiscated to pay for his ransom.)

    After the tournament, dinner will be served in the King’s Tent. Guests will be served by a dedicated wait staff, each hired specifically for this wedding. It will be the ultimate honor within their industries. They will from that day forth speak of it as if it were the “Fuckin Catalina Wine Mixer.”

    The meal itself will be 30 courses; one for each member of the wedding party plus an appetizer course and a salad course. Whole cooked animals will be brought forth so guests may decide for themselves which cut of meat they prefer. The 27th course is mine, and in a nod to my best man, the Most Interesting Man in the World, it will be a turkey shoved inside a duck, shoved inside a chicken, then shoved back inside the original turkey.

    There will be an open bar and getting excessively drunk is encouraged. Once again, this is a classy wedding and the goblets are made from silver and the finest Czechoslovakian lead shot crystal and will knock your ass out cold if you’re hit with one, so please avoid throwing them and using them as weaponry.

    Dancing will not begin until the crowd is sufficiently wined and dined. There will be no waiting around for the drinks to kick in before the dancing starts. I’ll not have my best songs wasted on a bunch of wallriders.

    The first dance will be Something by the Beatles performed live on a grand piano with genuine blood ivory keys by Andrew Cooper. He’s taken an already great love song and injected way more meaning into it by transposing it for the piano.

    There will be a Father-Daughter dance and a Mother-Son dance as per usual U.S. custom, then the winners of the melee and the steed race will each have a dance dedicated to them. After these dances, the floor will be opened to everyone and the music selection will ensure that every person in attendance dances their asses off.

    When all the dances have been danced and all the toasts toasted, the Bride and Groom will be prepare for “The Bedding.” I stole this one straight out of “A Song of Ice and Fire.”

    In “The Bedding” the women carry the Groom up to the marriage bed on their shoulders, all the while joking with him and making fun of his angry Irish inch, amongst other japes. The men do the same thing for the Bride. It’s all in good fun and makes light of what everyone knows is about to happen once the Bride and Groom leave the reception; A proper doin’ is about to take place.

    Hopefully a gloriously epic destination wedding such as this will allow me to get even with all my best friends for the financial burden over the years, but still be awesome enough to totally make up for it. Except for the guy that loses a digit or two during the melee. Things are gonna be touch and go for him for awhile after that.

    I leave you with a selection of lyrics from one of my favorite songs that I think sums up my wedding plans quite nicely:

    Yes there were times, I’m sure you knew,
    When I bit off more than I could chew.
    But through it all when there was doubt
    I ate it up and spit it out. I faced it all
    And I stood tall and did it my way…

    My Way – as performed by Elvis Presley

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    Atlanta Half Marathon – 2011

    2011 - 11.27

    A few days ago on Thanksgiving day I finally did something that required real effort; I ran a half marathon. I set a goal for myself and I met it, even if just barely. I’m pretty damn proud of myself, so bear with me while I brag, and hopefully convince you that you can do it too.

    The Lead Up

    I started running back around my birthday in July. I wasn’t in bad shape, but I’d go out and throw the frisbee or something and I’d be out of breath in no time. That would not do. No, not at all. So, I started running a couple times a week with Buda and Anna. At that rime, my only real goal was to be able to run 4 miles by my birthday.

    I struggled to meet that mark, which seems ridiculous now. I turned 29 on a Friday and I wasn’t able to run 4 miles without stopping until the following Monday, and it took me 40 minutes to do it. I had only been running seriously for about 2 weeks though, so I couldn’t be too hard on myself.

    Up until this point I’d been running in some old New Balance Cross Trainers I’d had forever. They got the job done, but they were heavy and kinda beaten down, and I really just wanted something else. Since those Vibram Five-Fingers shoes came out a year or so ago I’ve had my eye on some, but I just never had the $100 to throw down on something that might not work out for running and I sure wasn’t gonna wear them around casually. My Mom solved that dilemma for me by picking up some of the Fila Skele-Toes shoes that were on sale at JC Penney’s or something. They’re basically the same thing as the Vibram’s but about half the price. Mine look exactly like this:

    Fila Skele-Toes


    Anna and I signed up for a couple of 5Ks in September and after vacation time in August, we started getting a bit more serious about running. My first 5K was the Kaiser-Permanente Corporate Challenge. Jenn joined me and we ran for Anna’s corporate team.

    I finished the race in 24:50. Not too shabby for my first 5K, but nothing spectacular either. I ran the Lexis Nexis 5K a week later up in Alpharetta and finished that one in 23:52. I was pleased with that. Any time my pace is under 8:00 a mile, I’m pretty happy.

    Anna and I ran the East Atlanta Strut 5K at the beginning of October with Rick from Fontaine’s. Rick and I matched each other pretty much step for step and I finished in 24:07. The course was a little longer than the usual 3.14 miles so my pace was actually still under 8:00.

    After the race, Anna started talking up running some longer distances. I figured she just meant a 10K or something. No, she wanted to try for The Half; 13.1 miles. I certainly wasn’t going to let Anna get all the credit for doing something badass, so I agreed to run it with her.

    We had exactly 8 weeks from that point to train to do this, and it’s not like we had been ramping up our distances in our runs up to this point. We’d basically go out and run for half an hour then go eat chicken wings and drink beer. Adding 8 to 9 miles to our distance in 8 weeks was gonna be a tall order. Fortunately, I like my orders like I like my women… tall. (Not necessarily true, but it sounds good.)

    Anna found an 8 week training plan online and we adapted it suit our needs. The plan originally had us running 4 times a week, but we dialed it back down to 3 times just because of our busy schedules. On Saturdays or Sundays we would run longer distances and then Tuesdays and Thursdays we’d dial it back just a little to try and get used to running the distances we were adding.

    About 4 weeks in, my feet and my knees really started to hurt. And I mean really hurt. I’m not a wimp. I’ll run right on through stuff that would make most normal people quit long ago, but when we did our first 7 mile run, I barely finished. The only reason I didn’t quit was that running was the absolute quickest way for me to get back to my sofa to pass out.

    By this time, Brett had started running with us. He’d just moved back from New York where he ran in a couple of half marathons. He was instrumental in pushing us to run further and since he’s about the same speed as me, he’s good for my pace.

    I took a week off to rest my feet and knees and did a bit of research on what could be causing some of my issues. I bought an IT band for my right knee which solved almost all the knee issues. My feet I just chalked up to running too much and them not having a chance to get acclimate to the distance.

    From that point until the race, I only ran once a week. Brett, Anna, and I would start out in the Highlands, run down Virginia to Monroe and then cut over to Peachtree and run as far up Peachtree as we needed to go to get in our distances. In the 3 weeks leading up to race, we did 8 miles, 10 miles, and 12 miles. I was sore for a couple of days after each of these runs, but I was having way better results than I was when running 3 times a week. Despite not ever making it to 13.1 miles in training, we felt like we were ready.

    Race Day

    Thanksgiving morning was cold, but clear. I decided to go with my shorts even though it was so cold. I was a bit hesitant to wear my running tights for that long of a distance since I’ve never run in them before. I didn’t know if I’d wind up with some weird chafing issues. With shorts, I might be a little cold to start off with, but at least I knew what I was working with.

    Brett and I were in the B coral with a projected finish time of 1:45. We were scheduled to start at 7:35 am. Anna was in coral D, scheduled to start 10 minutes later.

    I had some technical issues at the start of the race. I couldn’t get the music app on my cellphone to work and I was a little worried that I’d have to run the whole 13 miles with no music. I didn’t know if I’d be able to make it that far without Elvis and his American Trilogy to motivate me at mile 10.

    The more pressing issue at the start was my feet. They were numb from the cold. It took a good two miles before they thawed sufficiently, but even then it felt like only half of my heel was there. It was really unnerving. Fortunately I was able to get my music app to start working so that was one less worry.

    Brett and I stuck together at the start. We started really strong once the crowd thinned out a bit. Our pace was just under 8:00 a mile through about Mile 5 or so then we got to the hills…

    About Mile 8 my feet really started hurting and my pace began to suffer. I was still right around 8:00 a mile, but Brett was starting to pull ahead of me. I was able to dig deep and catch back up with him, but then we got to another hill and I just couldn’t keep pounding my feet at that pace.

    I held steady with a respectable pace for the next 2 miles, but then we got to Auburn Ave. where a stretch of the street is paved with those octagonal concrete pavers. Those things just beat the hell out of my toe-shoe shod feet. Then I got to Boulevard and it was also paved with concrete. (For those of you that don’t know, asphalt is a much softer surface to run on than concrete. You’d never notice it in normal shoes, but when you run in minimal footwear, you can tell a huge difference.) My pace suffered horribly here and for the next mile or so which was basically just a long uphill.

    About 11.5 miles in I started seeing the 1:50 pace team pass me, so I realized I was falling behind. Like it or not, I had to put the pain out of my mind and finish this thing strong if I was going to hit my goal time. I dug deep and I as I rounded the last corner and saw those Olympic Rings on Capitol Avenue, I forgot all about the pain and sprinted. I passed a ton of people in those last 100 yards and when I crossed the finish line, I realized something; I really didn’t feel that bad, but my feet felt like they had axes buried in them.

    Post Race

    I grabbed a bottle of water and a banana and set out to find Brett so we could cheer Anna on as she crossed the finish line. I found him soon enough and we set up post right near the finish line. I stretched as best I could and tried to keep loose. Anna crossed the finish line a little while later with a strong time considering she’d never run more than 10 miles in training due to some shin splint issues.

    As the day wore on, I realized that all the parts of me that were typically sore really didn’t feel that bad. I’d taken extra care to stretch really well before the race and I stayed hydrated throughout. The only thing that held me back was my feet. Those toe shoes just don’t provide enough cushion for 13.1 miles of battery. I can run like the wind for 5 or 6 miles in those bad boys, but they really held me back at this distance. I had way more in the tank cardio and muscle wise, but my feet just couldn’t hold up.

    That night, before I went to bed all fat and happy and with a sense of accomplishment, I checked online for the official times for the race. I’d finished in 1:50. I hit my goal right on the nose.


    Friday I helped my Mom rip up the old carpet in their living room and clean the hardwood floors underneath. It was quite the undertaking. I wish I had some before and after pics, but the camera on my cellphone is acting up. The room looks a hundred percent better without that nasty 20 year old carpet in there. In exchange for working my tail off all day, my Mom and Dad bought me some of the New Balance Minimus running shoes. I’ve only gotten to try them out for a couple of short runs up the street because my feet are still recovering from the half marathon, but so far they feel great.

    Below I’ve included the Google Map data from the half marathon. You can click on the little pins and it will tell you my pace and all that stuff. (7.5 mph is an 8:00 per mile pace.)

    View 2011-11-24 07:34 in a larger map


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