Thursday, June 30, 2016

Summer Running Streak, Day #32

Went out for 4 miles tonight, just to see what I could do with my climbing goal of 2k meters for the month. When I got back I saw that Strava had me totaled at 1,908 meters, so I decided to hit up my Urban Mountain Goat loop a few times to bring in the last meters.

I ran it four times, this time not pushing on the hills (because it wasn't really a speed workout) I just focused on keeping an even pace. I certainly didn't run negative splits, but they weren't terrible all considering.

All week I've been running and seeing rabbits all over the place. Hopping along with and in front of me, really gracefully bounding off into the bushes in curvy patterns. I actually started thinking, "Hey, maybe I was wrong about this whole opossum thing, maybe the rabbit is more of my spirit animal."

As I came into the driveway from the mountain goat-ing I saw what I thought was one of my feral cats scurrying off into the back yard. Upon closer inspection, it was in fact an immense opossum. I didn't get too close to it or anything, so I didn't get hissed at by my spirit animal, but truly this is my spirit animal.

So with regards to my New Year's Resolutions: one of them was to "set and achieve a climbing goal at least 6 months of the year." I've been using Strava's 'climb' badge to set my goal and measure my effort, and doing that here are my results so far:

January: Goal of 1,000 meters. Climbed: 1,295 meters.
February: Goal of 1,500 meters. Climbed: 1,856 meters.
April: Goal of 1,750 meters. Climbed: 1,823 meters.
June: Goal of 2,000 meters. Climbed: 2,029 meters.

So, that's four months down. Two to go for that goal. Obviously, Strava is pushing the distances higher as we move into the summer and so July's goal is 3k meters of climbing. July should be a high mileage month for me, though, and I am starting to set heavier goals for myself in terms of hill workouts and midweek long runs. So we'll see if  I can meet it. I am hopeful, but as always getting lots of climbing in here is tough.

Going hiking tomorrow! Hoping to get in about 8 miles of good hiking, and then will do my mile or so to keep the streak alive.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Summer Running Streak, Day #31

Eight miles tonight. Felt pretty meh about it but wanted to start getting a longer midweek run back, plus I wanted to see what I could do for elevation gain. My climbing wasn't where I wanted it but my numbers for pace and heart rate were right on the money, even going up hill. Maybe seeing some early benefits from the hill routine last night, but we'll see if that trend continues going forward.

91% of the way to my climbing goal of 2k meters for June! That has me pretty pumped to go out tomorrow and climb the rest of those meters!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Summer Running Streak, Day #30

Decided to head out for a run late tonight -- waiting for a thunderstorm to break out any hour now so I went out with a flexible plan of doing a couple miles of warm-up, and then running some repeats on some hills. I planned to run no more than 5 miles, but no less than three.

Once I did my two mile warm up, I laid into my hill repeat area with a goal of running it four times start to finish.

All told the "Urban Mountain Goat" as I call this little segment is about a half mile with three (or four, depending on how you look at it) hills. It has a 69 ft. elevation difference. It's basically an out and back with three hill climbs of varying lengths and grades on it.

It starts downhill before a moderate climb, then another downhill before turning back around for a second harder climb, then a downhill before a sort of double-hill. That last hill lets me practice some hill pacing technique, because it is easy to break into thirds for a progressive effort.

The last part of the climb is pretty bitter, but I gritted into it. Once I had covered the little section three times, I decided I may as well go a fourth time or risk kicking myself later.

So I'm hoping to cover this little route again on Tuesdays going forward into the summer. Hopefully on nights that the humidity isn't like 80%.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Summer Running Streak, Day #29

One quick mile today after more hammock time. Feeling very humid out, and I am thinking there is a better chance of rain tomorrow than is predicted. We'll see. I'm hoping to cover about five miles tomorrow and get in some hill repeats.

Hiking schedule is laid out for the next couple of weeks, and it looks like I'll be getting in some good distances not running. Pretty excited for that, both to put the new watch to use and also to get some lower intensity work done on the old aerobic system.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Summer Running Streak, Day #28

Four recovery miles tonight, feeling pretty good. It has been comfortable here at night, not too hot and perfect singlet weather. Hopefully my night time race in July will have similar conditions, but I don't dare dream it to be the case.

First time since Big Sur that my weekly mileage has been up over 30 miles. Very happy about that, and very happy that I'm feeling strong while covering that mileage. Planning to add in some speed work this week, and then we'll see where I am in a couple weeks as far as adding in tempo runs again.

Planning some hiking trips, and even a trip to go climb Mt. Monadnock later next month. Used to live up near there as a kid, but only did the hike once or twice and never went all the way up to the top. It isn't a long hike from what I recall, but I'd like to do that anyway and hope it can push me to the point of not caring so much about the drive, because I'd really like to do more hikes up in the white mountains.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Summer Running Streak, Day #27

Very long, hot 15 miler today. Need to get some runs in the sun and heat in to be ready for my July races.

Additionally, I have been trying to keep an eye on my heart rate, which was not easy in the heat. Still dialed in a good long run averaging just over ten minutes per mile.

After we had a great night out after with a couple of beers, some veggie burgers, friends and family. Overall not a bad summer day in spite of the heat!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Summer Running Streak, Day #26

Ran four miles easy tonight, planning to cover about 15 miles tomorrow. That will bring me to thirty miles so far, and I'm hoping to get another few miles Sunday. We'll see, but that's the plan so far.

Signed up for the Blessing of the Fleet today, and also on a whim signed up for a 10 mile trail race a week before it. I had been planning to run a half marathon in my home city, but I need something different from the road racing. Something that appeals to my inner opossum and a desire to find a new kind of fun in my sport. I mean, we'll see if anything comes of it, but I'm pretty excited for this race.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Summer Running Streak, Day #25

Had a late four miler tonight as my daughter protested every time I tried to leave. She's in a leap where she is starting to do that. I will admit to sort of enjoying that, because it is nice to feel wanted, but obviously I don't want her to grow up preferring one parent to the other.

Nice run tonight, feeling strong and stayed decently close to my target heart rate the whole time (if a few beats above...) Will be adding in lots of hiking and walking in the coming weeks, and I'm planning to log those on my Ambit3 (one of the reasons I got it...) so hopefully it will help build my slow burning aerobic ability up. I'm even toying with the idea of carrying progressively heavier weight, if only slightly, with me on these hikes.

Happy summer!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Summer Running Streak, Day #24

Out for a little over a mile walk with the family, then after sunset a four or so mile jaunt. Absolutely gorgeous out right now, feels about in the 60s with a very low humidity. That's pretty rare for these parts so I'll take it.

The wife is planning on getting some running in this summer, too, which is good. With the jogging stroller I can start doing some two-a-day sessions running with her and pushing the baby. Then I'll do my slightly harder efforts on my own time. Should be a good time.

I'd like to also start a running streak for the dog -- she could really use the workouts. So maybe I'll look into doing a mile a day for her in July, or possibly August.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Summer Running Streak, Day #23

A quick mile tonight before my social club meetup.

Thinking about three or four tomorrow, depending how I'm feeling. This is the season when the running will be primarily at night or early in the morning, due to the unbearable heat that occurs during the day. I'll still plan to run my warm ups during the day because that is when races tend to be, and I like to be acclimated somewhat to the heat.

Also going to start being better about what I eat starting tomorrow. Going back on my multivitamin (which I have been neglecting) and trying to lose about ten pounds. I expect that is doable over the course of the summer.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Summer Running Streak, Day #22

Long day at home today taking care of the kiddo, who is still sick with a nasty cough. She slept most of the day, then my wife came home for a bit, before heading back out. The night shift was much rougher, with the little girl refusing food and screaming for over an hour straight. I did manage to calm her down by giving her a bath, but you can only stay in the tub for so long. Late night, which ended in her finally wearing herself out and falling asleep on my chest. Truly an awful feeling to watch one's child go through that range of emotions. Recording of crying and screaming babies are supposedly used on inmates at Guantanamo Bay. Seems like it would be a real punishment. Certainly is taking its toll on me.

In light of that I only ran a short run tonight -- mile and a quarter. Felt good to burn off some of the adrenaline. The moon is big and full -- with a tinge of yellow. The adrenaline was really surging, so I didn't really appreciate the night as much as I could have, but I have work early tomorrow so I also need to get some sleep in.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Summer Running Streak, Day #21

Just under two miles tonight, to keep the streak alive and to round out my 30 miles for the week.

Hoping to do a similar mileage next week, while building up my long run and possibly adding in a pickup workout over the course of the week. Also, going back on the vegetarian diet in a big way this week, so hopefully I'll get down to my fighting weight during this training cycle.

My first father's day was really nice -- or it ended up that way. Started off the morning taking the baby into the doctor's for a cough she has, which ended up not being too serious but something we need to keep an eye on over the next week. I also have a pretty decent set of sinus symptoms going on, so I may plan a trip to the doc's myself.

Anyway, stopped and got bagels after that appointment, then watched some movies before a low key dinner with some friends. All in all, that's exactly my idea of a good time, although I could have stood to throw some hammock time in.

Just a couple days left until I start my summer training season for real.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Summer Running Streak, Day #20

Felt really beat just three quarters of a mile into tonight's long run, but kept an eye on the heart rate and dialed in a solid slow 9 miles.

Slept a lot last night, and today prior to the run, but I think my body is still getting used to building mileage. Glancing at my running log on Strava, it seems as though I haven't run more than 30 miles in a week since Big Sur. That's a really long taper back to training, but I've also had a ton of work to be busy with, and I try to keep in mind that while my running schedule shows up on Strava, it isn't uncommon for me to walk five or six miles a day at work, and that doesn't get logged. Anyway, I will build in more rest tonight, but planning to run 2 miles tomorrow to round out 30 for the week.

So far father's day weekend has been excellent. My wife (and daughter) got me an awesome hammock with stand that I'll be setting up outside tomorrow, and then some great shirts: "Real men change diapers" and a "Best dad in the galaxy." Love it. We went to breakfast this morning, as per usual, and then spent the day lounging around the house.

Baby girl's six months old on Monday! I know I posted that yesterday, and it will get posted again. But I'm so happy to see her doing so well.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Summer Running Streak, Day #19

Just over six miles tonight. Comfortable, again, like last night if a bit humid.

Was battling some mental demons the entire time, but I settled on a secondary goal of covering at least the six miles. Will go out for a long slow run tomorrow, aiming for maybe 10 miles. That should me in a comfortable striking distance of getting back to 30 miles per week.

Then I can start building up from there.

Little girl's going to be six months old on Monday. I'm excited and at the same time I will admit to being a bit melancholy about how much time has passed already. I'm very excited for when she is a little kid and more interactive, but at the same time I am trying to really savor the time I get with her as a baby. It is hard to describe the feelings, as they contradict each other and pull one in a multitude of directions.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Summer Running Streak, Day #18

Lovely weather for my one and a quarter mile jaunt tonight. The moon is mostly full (about 82% according to my app) and was throwing some lovely rays down onto the earth. The temperature was nice, even if it was a little humid. Would have been a great night for a ten miler except for three things:

  1. I need to be up early tomorrow
  2. I'm full of pizza. Again.
  3. Pulled a muscle in my back today while moving equipment at work.

Aside from that, would have been a great ten miles. Nights like that don't come along all the time, but I knew I had to wave off those dreams of an evening long run for another night. Ah, well. Hopefully my back will be better in the next couple of days (I've already rolled out) and I'll be back in prime form before too long.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Summer Running Streak, Day #17

10k tonight, at dusk. Was pretty warm today so I figured I'd wait until the sun had set, and even then it felt pretty warm. There was a nice breeze though, so that made the effort feel easier.

Actually managed to keep this run in zone 2 of my heart rate goal for 93% of the run -- as was my plan. Means I averaged a 150bpm heart rate. I dialed in an easy pace, watched my breathing and effort, and just covered the ground focusing on my form. Still managed to run negative splits, too, so feeling pretty good about that.

Working on a couple of bigger feature posts for the next couple of weeks -- a follow up to the opossum and a story-post about my early adventures in long distance running. Stay tuned.

Hope the week is rounding out nicely for you other folks doing the summer run streak!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Summer Running Streak, Day #16

An easy four miles tonight after work. "Over the hump" work wise, so will all be down hill from here until the summer season when I am off. Planning on lots of training once I'm able to dedicate more time to meaningful rest.

Also have a couple of races coming up, so I'll be updating the calendar on the side of the page. I'm planning to do an update for each event I run, as well as continuing these blurbs about how the running streak is going. After the last two days (which I won't kid you, were really tough) I am confident I can keep up this run streak for a good long while now. My record (from last season) stands at 39 days of straight running. So we'll see how I do this time around...

Staring Down the Surly Opossum

He jumps out in front of me in the new-born night. Illuminated by the street lights and close enough that I can see his wiry hairs and straight, long tail. He hisses and stumbles off into the dark, putting a good amount of distance between us before turning and looking back.

A more surly animal there could never be than this opossum. So of course, I'm sure he's my spirit animal.


I have mentioned before that I'm in a transitional period in my athletic life. I see my athletic life sort of like this:

Childhood: base skills (running, jumping, climbing trees, avoid 'hot lava' floors.)

Teenager-dom  (lazy, stupid, walking everywhere, choosing too late to take running seriously)

20s: ("Hey, let's eat whatever!")

Late-20s to Present: (OK, let's try to live as long as possible.)

So after coming off a good few years of getting in shape, the tough part is figuring out what I want my life to look like so I can keep going into the years ahead. Which is important to me because I want to be here for my kids and family. So I've hit a crossroads that basically boils down to this:

Do you to run farther, or faster?

There are a lot of pros and cons to both approaches. I like the idea of running for long stretches of time regularly, and I like the idea of being able to qualify for and run some really neat races. There is a lot of ego behind being a faster runner, and I'm not absolutely certain that it would be great for me to start bragging that I've "run Boston". To be really honest, I get it, it is 'the' big marathon, but in the grand scheme of things a whole life is much longer and harder to survive than 26.2 miles.

I see this as an inward search, and these two combating parts of my personality are described thusly: the unicorn and the surly opossum.

The opossum (or possum) is a creature that has to be ready to be constantly on the move, because he doesn't know when he's going to get flushed out of someone's shed, or the bushes by a raccoon. I see them a lot at night around where I live, and they aren't super friendly.  Recently, I almost ran head first into one. I actually thought at first that someone's pet pig had gotten out due to the wiry coat. Then I saw the pointed snout, and long tail. Then it hissed and darted off into the street. Then I screamed like a small child and ran away quickly.

So they aren't super friendly, especially when you almost run into them. But, they are runners by necessity, and they 'ramble' similar to the way I do on a long run:
Although they can climb and are good swimmers, opossums prefer to amble about on the ground. With a top speed of about 4 miles per hour, when “running,” opossums appear to be walking quickly, with the tail rotating in circles for balance.
--Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (link here)
Four miles is slow (won't get you into the Boston Marathon, big guy), but it means that you can be on the move whenever you need to be, keeping an even steady pace. I'm a bit quicker than that, but I could dial it down to run further and for longer duration. And honestly, like he wouldn't just chew up the BAA's bib-medal-shirt-goodie-bag.

(North American Opossum with Winter Coat, by Cody Pope)

So anyway the Surly Opossum is a tough little thing with some impressive endurance. I can see an animal like that working if I wanted to train some ultra long distances.

I have concerns, obviously. Because I want to be a big part of my child's life. I want her to actually remember me, so I am not sure it is really wise to go out on three or four hour rambles multiple times a week. I'm not sure that I have the Karnazes-like strength to just muscle along on four hours of sleep, either. I could probably learn to make some of it work, but honestly that type of endurance and knowledge of my own limits could be some years off for me, anyway, as I'm a recently-minted athlete.

Eventually, I'll have to start trying some stuff, to see what works. I'm thinking I'll mix some things up, because as I learned from reading the great Arnold Jacobs: the best way to work through a block, or to learn something new, is to add an element of 'strangeness.' This also gets called 'altered stimulus' and it is a way of becoming familiar with something unfamiliar.

I will follow up more on this concept later, as I address my thoughts on the other half of this dilemma of athletic self-identity: Staring Down the Unicorn.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Summer Running Streak, Day #15

Just a quick mile tonight amidst all the crazy busy work hours. Have another big day tomorrow so I expect it will be another short one tomorrow, then hopefully able to add some mileage on in the last part of the week. I'd like to end up with 26 total for the week, but we'll see how that goes.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Summer Running Streak, Day #14

After yesterday's race I'm feeling totally beat, and while doing some chores around the house (deep cleaning, getting the mower together so we can start yard work) I'm reading the signs of burnout from my body. For me that means a slightly higher resting heart rate, but also a feeling of fatigue and a very slightly higher body temperature. It isn't really worth calling that a fever, because I'm running between 98.9 and 99.3, but it feels like a really weak fever to me. All that said, I decided to abbreviate my planned long run today down to a mile. Need to be able to maintain the streak.

I have a secondary goal of covering about 1,500 miles this year, and according to my tracker I'm currently 84 miles behind that goal. Shouldn't be too difficult to close the gap on that this summer, when I can run two-a-days and have quite a few more races. Just have to be smart about it.

Lastly, I feel compelled to write a bit about what happened in Orlando in the early hours of this morning. This isn't a political blog, and this isn't a political post. I'm hoping to speak to some basic truths that I hope we can all agree on.

Being a person who was active in Youth Pride in my high school days, I can't help but think of all the events that I went to in support of people I value and care about. It pains me tremendously to have heard the news this morning, but I have to say, I'm also not surprised.

As an American, I have to say I really kind of expect this. I can't expect the exact context or scenario, of course, but statistically speaking, at this point, these events are absolutely certain. I am completely ashamed of our society and the way my country's electorate lacks any sort of value over human life. I find it disgusting and despicable. I won't wash over this with false positivity: yes, it is very nice that people went out in droves to donate blood. But we have a greater responsibility than being reactionary. We ought to begin from a proactive place and prevent these things from ever happening in the first place. If you think that isn't possible, you are kidding yourself.

I mourn for the people who lost loved ones, I mourn for a community I truly value, and I really hope we can start to come together to build a better society for our kids. We really need to do that.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Summer Running Streak, Day #13 (The Gaspee Days 5k)

Today I ran the Gaspee Days 5k in Warwick, RI. It is sort of in Cranston, too. Whatever.

It is a really tough course in that it is an out-and-back that starts down hill, and finishes climbing back up the same hills.

I've run it twice before, in 2014 I ran the course in 21:50, in 2015 in 23:20, and this year's time is 22:03.

 I have a couple of ideas as to why I ran the course faster two years ago: for one thing, the conditions really have to be ideal for a race like this. One or two things being just slightly off effects the performance quite a bit. Today wasn't too bad, temperature-wise, but it was humid, and I had a lot of congestion going on in my nose. Big crowds along the course meant I felt bad clearing my sinuses (using the patented snot-rocket I learned in Runner's World) so I had to do all my breathing through my mouth.

Additionally, the start chute doesn't make it easy for runners at the Gaspee to seed by pace, so you basically have to guess and then fight your way out at the start. It means working really hard in that first mile until the pack breaks up, which makes it hard to save effort for the back half of the course (which is all climbs.) According to my gps, I covered that first mile in 6:40, but the effort cost me because I covered mile three almost a full minute slower. I was able to kick it in to the finish chute with some good rhythmic breathing.

Coming into the chute I could hear the race director say "Somebody is really proud of her daddy!", and I could hear the cowbells we brought along, but I couldn't find my wife and I was focused on hammering the pace into the chute. After I found my wife, she said that the race director was directly commenting on her ringing the cowbell! So cool. Can't wait until the little one is old enough to run some of these races with me. The Gaspee is a real family affair, and there are lots of little ones who run it, although strollers are prohibited on the course.

So, certainly this isn't a course I'd expect a PR on. But it is really fun to run before the parade crowds, and to feel the energy of the pack. This race is one of my 'tent pole' races (one of the big ones that holds up my running calendar like a tent pole) so I'll certainly run it next year. I'm going to dig back into my running journal and see what kind of work I was doing back in 2014 to get those times. I'm pretty sure I was doing speed work and tempo runs much more regularly back then, so they will need to find a way back into my training this summer.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Summer Running Streak, Day #12

Decent little 1 miler late tonight. Excellent temperature, and the humidity isn't anything to complain about.

Have a 5k race tomorrow, so I'm thinking I will get up a bit earlier to run a warm up, then grab some food before heading to pickup my packet. I'd like to use the race to inform my upcoming training cycle (as I can plug the data in for Strava to analyze, and haven't used that feature in too long) so I'm hoping to put in a good effort.

I have to do my best to remember the course -- I have run this twice before -- it isn't too bad: out-and-back style, downhill for the first half and climbing up the second half. Near the three mile mark there is a nice little climb that can be a bit in the legs if you don't save something for it, which then ends on a level tenth of a mile into the chute. If all goes well I'll be able to really gas it there and put in a strong finish, too.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Summer Running Streak, Day #11

One easy mile tonight. Construction in the area means I have to get adventurous in my route planning.

All is well, otherwise. Working on a big post for next week. Please tune in :)

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Summer Running Streak, Day #10

Ran a good three and a half miles tonight. Have been trying to keep an eye on the heart rate, but I think I'm slightly off in terms of the numbers Strava is using to calculate them.

I haven't updated a recent race time since I ran the BAA Half back in 2014, so I will update with the data from the 5k I'm running this weekend.

I'm not really sure how seriously I take all the numbers, anyway. But I'm trying to run easier to see if I can do more with less effort. We'll see how it goes. So far ten days into the streak I feel pretty strong, and I'm managing to pull myself out the door everyday.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Summer Running Streak, Day #9

Very warm one today. Got in a little over 2 miles after work.

Feeling confident about this run streak at this point. Last run streak went 39 days, so I am interested in keeping this one going. It will be a whole lot easier in a couple of weeks when we have a break in work schedules, but for the next couple it will be tough.

Lots of late work this work for the wife and I, but fortunately we have people to tag along to keep an eye on the little one.

Oh! Fixed my GPS. For whatever reason I had to re-login to the app I use on the computer. So that's pretty exciting. Glad to not be running on West coast time for no apparent reason now.

...and back to work!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Summer Running Streak, Days #7 and #8

Oh man. Crazy rain last night, which meant I only ran about a mile. Had to try and pick a window through the rain to get the run in, and the humidity was... noticable.

Today I got out after work for about four miles, with the sun beating down on me the whole time. Very warm. There was a nice breeze, but it did little to take the edge off. I've always been someone who runs early in the morning or at night, so I'm not really used to the sun. I would do well to get used to it, I suppose, since most races are not held for vampires.

Looking forward to a good night in with the kiddo tonight. My wife has plans with friends, so I'll be on my own. Should be lots of fun! I imagine that between bouts of puppet shows, stories, and song I may even be able to get in a couple of rounds of Overwatch. I've been really digging that game lately, but I also like that I can dip into it for ten minutes to play a round, then back out to hang out with the kid.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Summer Running Streak, Days #5 and #6

Good running these days. Hit the road for an ease mile yesterday, which was a warm one but still good.

Went out planning to do 9 tonight, ended up covering 11 with relative ease. Batteries in my bluetooth headset died at about mile 8, but that was OK. Ended up carrying myself through the remaining miles with some good old mental grit.

Feeling good now that I'm back on the road, and thinking a lot about my upcoming race schedule and summer training. Love summer training. Have to run early or late to avoid the worst of the heat, but I can generally dedicate most of my energy to training in the summer.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Summer Running Streak, Day #4

Just a mile this evening. Feeling OK, still have some pain in the right quad, so hoping that eases up. I should probably do an ice plunge this weekend to see if I can work it out -- I think it is a knot.

Yesterday was Global Running Day, so it got me thinking about what running has done for my life. I'm working on an entry now about where running has brought me, so keep an eye out for that in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Summer Running Streak, Day #3

Went out for four miles tonight. Right quad was feeling kind of tight all day, so I wanted to take it easy but in this humidity I end up feeling like I'm working really hard anyway. Just happy to get a run in when it was pretty nice out.

The wife and I are jazzed at the start of American Ninja Warrior tonight. If you don't follow it, I'd strongly recommend it. These people are excellent athletes but beyond that you get the feeling they are really incredible people, with a very supportive athlete-based community. Reminds me a lot of marathon runners I know.