Jetlagged Musings

May 10, 2013

IMG_0652The travels have begun again in earnest.  I was in Argentina, Chile and the UK all in the span of the last ten days.  Can you say jetlagged?  What the heck is jet lag anyway?  I looked this term up in the Urban Dictionary as I figured since I liked this phrase so much it must be used by the cool hipster underground.  They say it is a euphemism for a hangover.  Ok, so they don’t actually use the word euphemism.  Instead they say “Dude, that stuff we smoked last night was tight but now I’ve got some serious jet lag.”  You can always count on the Urban Dictionary folks to clear things up.

That picture above?  That is the Tower of London.  I took this shot Wednesday night of this week when we brought a bunch of our biggest UK customers on a guided tour.  I’m sure many of you have hit this same tourist destination on your visits to London.  It doesn’t get old;  what an awesome place!  And to top it off this week we saw all the crown jewels without the masses and a Beefeater guy explaining how big each of the diamonds are and such.  But the best part of the jewel tour was to see the very same crown the Queen wore earlier that day as she opened Parliament.

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This Wednesday, May 8th, was a big day at the tower.  Besides the Queen stopping by to pick up her crown, they were holding the Tower of London Run.  It is a 1k up to 10K run in the Tower’s moat.  It is the oldest running event in London and looked awesome.  I wanted to get out of my monkey suit and into a red Tower of London Run t-shirt and jump the fence!  Maybe next year.

IMG_0662A little trivia for you blog followers – did you know that if the ravens that live at the Tower were to leave one day the entire country would fall apart?  I guess that is why they have one in a cage now to protect against this?   The last time I was here I completely missed the ravens for some reason.  There is even one named “Jubilee” who was given to Queen Elizabeth this past year to mark the event.  And once a week they enjoy an egg and an occasional rabbit.  Who’d have thought, right?

IMG_0621Running Update:  I have really fallen off the wagon when it comes to running (other than a recent Nashville Country Music Half Marathon) but I do have a new Google Drive training plan that takes me through November 9th where I’ll run the Savannah Marathon again.  I guess given the travels I have an excuse including my complete annoyance with treadmills and having to convert kilometers to miles in my head since that is all they have in these other countries.  My best run of the year so far was in Chile as I was able to run four miles in a park that sits at the base of the Andes.  It was a holiday there so the park was full of families and food vendors and dogs and normal Chilean life.  They live in a very beautiful part of the world.  If I ever get a chance to go back I’ll be blogging about my time running in Patagonia.  Bucket list.  Oh, and I have no idea who that cowgirl is in our picture from the Nashville Country Music Half Marathon expo.  She worked for Women’s Running and was promoting for subscriptions I suppose.  If it works for their magazine I figured it can’t hurt with the blog.

Only 23 months and 26.2 miles to go…


Long Runs Suck

September 10, 2012
“That day, for no particular reason, I decided to go for a little run. So I ran to the end of the road. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d run to the end of town. And when I got there, I thought maybe I’d just run across Greenbow County. And I figured, since I run this far, maybe I’d just run across the great state of Alabama. And that’s what I did. I ran clear across Alabama. For no particular reason I just kept on going. I ran clear to the ocean. And when I got there, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well turn around, just keep on going. When I got to another ocean, I figured, since I’d gone this far, I might as well just turn back, keep right on going.”  Forest Gump, 1994
My wife and a few other friends I know are training for their first long race.  Some are doing half marathons and some are doing the full marathon.  But in either case this is their first exposure to training for a real race.  I thought since I’ve strayed a bit in the past from the running “theme” (ok, I’ve strayed a lot) I would write one that might actually have some good tips in it from my perspective.  For sure I am still a Novice runner and I still run mainly to try to work off the pizza from last night.  But I have gone through this once for a marathon and am about in the middle of training for my second.  The training has been totally different both times so we’ll ultimately see what works and what doesn’t.
What Doesn’t Work: Tripping and falling.  One thing I can tell you that doesn’t work – running on the streets of Westminster in London where they have these 12″ x 12″ square cement pieces that aren’t necessarily aligned.  Digger.  Can you say digger?  Yes, last week I took a face plant.  Well, it was more of an elbow and knee plant thankfully but still a digger nonetheless.  Expletive.  That was my reaction.  Then I got up and kept on running.  I went about a half a mile and realized my super expensive over the ear headphones and iPod were probably laying back where I was just laying.  So I turned around and came to the spot of the fall.  No iPod.  No headphones.  I look over at the cleaning truck parked along the street and the guy who is sitting in the car with his window down holds out his arm with iPod and headphones in hand.  He says “the gentleman that just passed said if that chap who fell comes back make sure you hand him these.”  Two thumbs up for London hospitality!
What Works:  Sticking to the Sunday Long Runs.  Hal Higdon (my mentor and nemesis) says “don’t cheat the long run”.  What he means is this is the most important aspect of getting yourself to the finish line of the race.  In my first time around as a marathoner I stuck to his program verbatim.  This time around, not so much.  I’ve done things this time around that would make Hal hang his head in disgust.  Things like telling myself instead of doing 8 miles this Wednesday I’ll just do 4 miles one day and 4 another.  Seems like a fair trade-off.  And instead of running 14 this week maybe I’ll just run 10 and walk 4.  I think he’d ultimately be ok with this if he knew what a lump I was but it seems like “cheating” anyway.
There are going to be times where you just have to cheat because your body isn’t up to it.  Let me tell you about one of those times.  Yesterday and when I was supposed to run 17 miles (which turned into 16 with a bit of walking in the middle).  NOTE: Skip this next paragraph if you are squeamish.
What Doesn’t Work:  Road kill.  This Sunday I decided to try to imitate everything I would do during the marathon and then run my 17 miles.  This includes the normal runner body glide stuff, the taping and the meal.  I usually eat a banana and a bagel with peanut butter and away I go.  So this time I eat the banana and toast up some wheat toast.  I spread a little of the good for you Organic Peanut Butter my wife had purchased and take a bite.  Alarm, alarm!  Waving arms like Danger Will Robinson!!  Puking is about to happen.  Here’s what I can tell you.  There had to be a rat or a mouse or something dead that had been mixed in with that stuff about halfway down the jar.  My wife laughs at me but guess what.  We’ve been eating the top half of the jar for the past month without a problem.  So who’s laughing now.   And I can tell you my stomach is still not laughing.  It made for the longest 16 miles in my life.  Literally came to puking about 5 times on the route given the road kill between Jones Bridge and Holcomb Bridge.  I’m sending that jar back in with a scathing letter that is for sure.  If they say I can have a few free jars I’m sending those back too with another letter.
What Works:  Water belts.  Long runs make you thirsty.  So go buy yourself one of those fancy water belts.  They are heavy and bulky but they work.  They don’t make you look pretty though.  In my case it kind of looks like I have two of them on.  But they do work.  And fill two of the four bottles with Gatorade or whatever you plan to drink on race day.
What Works:  Motivational sayings.  I’ve seen things people use like “Just Do It” or “Keep Moving” or “This is for so and so” to keep themselves going.  I’ve found a new one that plan to use “Suck It Up Princess”.  In the end finishing is 90% mental if you’ve done even half the training.  So this is to combat that left brained nay sayer and works for me.

Running Update:  I’m more than half way through training.  Just an 18, 19 and 20 miler ahead (with some “shorter” weeks in between).  With all the traveling of late including a trip to Peru this week it is tough.  I’ll be talking to Mr. Treadmill to avoid the kidnappers.  That’s a shame because the weather is sunny and a high of 66 low of 61 each day.  I did consider putting on that fake stache and staying on the main roads.  But then I saw that they border Columbia so I’m not wanting to say hello to any little friends this week.  Treadmill it is.

Only 31 months and 26.2 miles to go…


Mr. Whippy and the Flake

July 10, 2012

Mr. Whippy and the Flake are not alternative lifestyle 1950s neighbors to Dick Van Dyke.  They are also not the names of the iceberg characters in Elf.  Mr. Whippy is a swirly ice cream cone and the Flake is the kit-kat like cocoa stick that is stuffed into it.  And it not only makes for a jazzy blog title it is one of the best ice cream cones around.

This past week my family and I took a vacation in Europe.  I know these blogs are supposed to have some running theme running through them so I’ll give that a go.  But mostly I thought I’d capture some of the signature highlights of the week.

“Sign Boy” – do you ever wonder who those people are that stand for hours at the airport with various names on signs on them?  What if they really just had nothing else to do and decided “today, I’ll make a sign that says Wilson and go stand around the airport for a few hours to kill some time”.  Well, that was me.  Sign boy.  But I was official.  Legit.  My sign read “Welcome to London, [my last name] Family!”.  Of course I did get to the airport a bit earlier than planned so it was kind of like being the loser Wilson sign boy as I stood there for a couple of hours with it.  But I did meet some nice red-coated bus drivers.  Maybe that will come in handy someday.  Not.  And I learned that the way they kill time is to make fun of the stupid Americans who look lost coming through the tunnel.  I shouldn’t have joined in but I couldn’t help myself.  We bonded over this fun.  Next life, tour bus driver.  Finally, my family arrives and the adventure begins.

“Fish and Chips” – what do you think of when you think London or the UK?  Big Ben?  Parliament?  London Eye?  I think of Fish and Chips.  And guess what meal I encourage my son to partake in that first night.  Yep.  These things are so big they fold over either end of the plate as they sit on top of a pile of hand cut french fries.  He ate about a quarter of it.  It was Friday so what it reminded me of was good old Wisconsin and their famous Friday Night Fish Fry just a bit bigger and 4000 miles away.

“Moko.  Rhymes with Cocoa.” – we took a Eurostar train over to Paris from London.  It only takes about 2 1/2 hours to get there door to door.  I have many, many things to say about Paris (“a different breed of rude” was one Londoner’s description of the local Paris folks).  I’d say it was about 75/25 rude to not rude in my opinion including the gray-haired mustache wearing Frenchie waitor who took about 15 minutes to finally arrive at our table and then only doing so reluctantly.  He fit the mold.  Two top things from Paris on my list.  First, let me tell you that the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays.  That is just plain stupid.  But no Mona Lisa means let’s do what a Parisian would do.  We stop and buy a bottle of wine and go sit in the park on a sunny day under the Eiffel Tower.  Some of you probably saw those posts on Facebook.  It really was as good as it looked.  So the Louvre actually did me a favor.  Second top thing from Paris was the first full day we were there.  Under sunny skies and given our kids are now old enough to try just about anything we went on a guided Paris Segway tour.  We pretty much saw all the sights over about 3 hours riding around and stopping here and there to hear our New Zealand guide named Moko (“It rhymes with cocoa” he tell us.  What?) describe the Paris sights.  He did say he’d been there awhile so maybe he did know something but who cared.  He was a very funny Spicoli kind of guy and made for a great day.  We didn’t get run over and only hit (bumped) one person.  I won’t say who did it but it wasn’t me.  We just zipped away quickly.  No time for jail or lawsuits.  Toughen up kid.

“Rachel McAdams is Stalking Us” – I sometimes think I am a celebrity magnet (in my own mind).  I run into all sorts of top athletes, models, actors.  Tiger Woods, John Madden, Miss World (Venezuela), Bart Starr, Don Majkowski, Ned Beatty (queue the music) and many more.  This trip it was Rachel McAdams (star from Wedding Crashers, The Notebook, Mean Girls, Sherlock Holmes, Midnight in Paris, etc.).  The first night of the fish fry we happened upon her shooting a scene for next year’s movie About Time.  We were like 10 feet away and pretty much just walked right on into the scene, almost.  We stayed to watch it and then went off to eat.  So then a week later and half way across town and as we’re walking to the park up Abbey Road, guess who’s shooting another scene?  She was shooting it right on the famous Abbey Road cross walk and again we just randomly walked right on up again.  We even took a picture in the road minutes before Action!  We talk to the security guy for a while and he says all the major films were trying to finish things up before the Olympic madness comes to town.  He has the job.  He’s done War Horse, Batman and after this shoot Fast and Furious 6.  He said one of his most amazing moments was when he was doing security and he was down in the man-made bunkers in War Horse.  When he looked over the edge all he sees are the thousands of extras (Germans) coming his way.  “It kind of freaked me out” was his comment in his best northern England accent.  It is amazing how many people it took to set up the one Rachel cross walk scene that takes less than a minute.  When they were done we walked on over and this time walked right on by her, inches away.  She looked at me.  I looked at her.  And then we walked on.  She’s probably blogging or tweeting about it right now as we speak.

Running Update:  There are a million more stories from this trip but no one reads pages of blogs.  A page maybe.  Pages no.  I even wrote up short notes on our iPad to try to remind myself of all the things we saw and did and it covers four pages.  I’ll have to save those stories for later.  As for running, this was week 1 of the Savannah Marathon training.  I’d say it kicked off in style with my first run being down the Champs-Elysees (pronounced Chomp E Lee Say I’m told).  Then my second run being within a short distance of Roland Garros.  And a fifth (of five) being down Abbey Road again.  I am still recovering a bit from surgery but the running has begun; just not in earnest as yet.  Slow and steady.

It was a great trip and I highly recommend it to anyone.  When your kids are 14 and 12 and you can kind of quarantine them from cell phones, e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, etc. for a week and actually talk to each other there is nothing better.

Only 33 months and 26.2 miles to go…


Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

June 9, 2012

I was fortunate enough to be in London for one of this past weekend’s parties celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.  I figured I’d write a bit about it for posterity.  All Hail the Queen!

I arrived on Tuesday, June 5th.  This was the final day of the weekend’s four-day Diamond Jubilee celebration and the grand finale “Thanksgiving” celebration.  I was completely zonked from flying across the pond all night but decided I had to at least see a bit of the pomp and circumstance.  So I made my way to Hyde Park figuring there had to be something going on.  I was right.

The park was filled with local vendors selling “Happy Sausage”. Strawberries and Cream and Back Bacon Sticks among other things.  There was a big stage and four monster big screens showing the concert that was underway.  All of the acts were local UK stars and were awesome.  I made my way to the middle of the park and had the thought that since I’m so close to Buckingham Palace why don’t I just walk on over and wave to Elizabeth.  As I’m walking out of one of the pathways there were hundreds coming in the opposite direction.  They obviously knew something I didn’t know.  There were many dressed from head to toe in the Union Jack flag and others just carrying commemorative flags and others with fake Kate or William or Harry faces on the backside of their heads.  I asked someone why they weren’t headed to the palace.  After a long pause and a few odd looks at their friends I’m told “Mate, there is no possible way to get anywhere near the palace.”  Ok, I’m a stupid American.  I’m naive.  There were literally millions in the “mall” which is like London’s version of Magnolia Lane at Augusta.  I turn around.

When I get back to the park I find that they are going to show the entire procession and views of all the horses, military, fly overs with WWII planes and such on the screens.  If they were looking at this as a practice session for the Olympics they are ready.  Everything seemed to go without a hitch.   I got a kick out of all the ceremonial carriages accompanied by all the horses and guards.  I really wish we had Royals.  I guess we’ll just adopt William and Kate since they are from Cambridge and go with that.

I walked around and took some pictures of the crowd (below) including many who had a full-blown picnic going on with Champagne, cheese, crackers, sausage and flags.

Walking back from the event to the hotel I find a couple of guys that look like true Londoners and force them to let me take a picture with me.  You can see they are very happy to do so from the look on their faces.  I think one is thinking “Bloody Hell, why did I wear this outfit today.  Americans can spot me from blocks away.”   And the other is thinking “Bugger.  I need a nap.”.  I’m thinking “Why is the guy on my right grabbing my arse? Stop it!”

Running Update:  So sad.  No running to speak of.  I’m in week 3 of recovery from Sports Hernia surgery.  It really does stink to be over here in London and not being able to run around and see some sights while doing so.  Instead, I walk.  And walk.  Today I walked more than two hours through the fancy shmancy neighborhoods near Regents Park.  It is actually amazing what you see when you slow down and walk.  Goats in some school’s yard taking care of the grass.  Figaro old school cars along with the Maseratis, BMWs and Mercedes in virtually everyone’s drive.  Kids playing cricket in the park in their matching white pants and white sweaters.   And dogs.  Lots of people with dogs.  And no leashes.  What is amazing is not one dog seemed out of control or came over trying to maul me.  They just marched right along with their owners.  I literally saw 20+ different dogs like that.  Running begins again in earnest later this month and I’ll write again after my family joins me to bounce around London and Paris for a week.  Cheers!

Still Only 34 Months and 26.2 Miles to go…

P.S.  Here are a few more shots I took from the Jubilee and one I love that I just found on the Internet that shows the Queen really does have a sense of humor.  I should send her my blog.