Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Radioactive Chicken Heads were robbed

OK, so there's this band in LA called the Radioactive Chicken Heads (they're both on the web and on MySpace). I've never seen them live, but they're kindred souls in the weird-getup comedy rock.

So, being in the LA area, they have access to television shows that we up here in Seattle just can't match. And somehow they ended up on the Tyra Banks show. And the results are, well, insanely amazing. Not only does the song rock, and not only are the costumes great, but the crowd reaction is perfect. They don't know what the hell they're seeing or how to react to it. My band (Chicken Starship could only hope to have such a great response.

Get this video and more at

Monday, October 23, 2006

European jails must be really, really comfy

'cause people just don't want to leave 'em. First up you've got this German guy who flat-out refuses to leave, and then there's this Belgian who managed to get himself sent back shortly after being released.

Maybe the food's better on the inside.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Race photos

Finally I've got some pictures from the marathon, 'cause there's nothing more facinating than pictures of some dude running...

First up, the start. Look at that sea of people! And to think there's even a bigger sea in front of me...

The next sighting after that was at 18 miles when the McKinstries showed up and I took a little break to walk with them:

A few miles later (OK, technically it was 3) I'm again walking, this time with Paige and the kids (they're behind her in the picture...):

Then you've got a shot from about 35k in to the race (roughly 22 miles):

And then it's on to the finish:

And I'm done! Dang that Gatorade tastes good!

Thank God someone tracks this stuff...

From the Albuquerque Tribune:

The balloon fiesta is the largest portable toilet event in the state

I skimmed the article and it's the largest number of portable toilets, not the largest portable toilets.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Next up: Seattle half marathon

Clearly I've gone insane. Why else would I willingly sign up for yet another running race? Well, a couple reasons...
  1. I'm in reasonably good shape thanks to the marathon training plan (thank you, Hal Higdon!) so it's really a matter of STAYING in shape rather than GETTING in shape
  2. I felt pretty darn good through the half-way point of the Portland marathon
  3. I've already run the course (or most of it) during my two longest training runs
  4. It's October, it's dark, and it's getting cold...why not continue to get up at 4:30 to go running?
The race is Sunday, November 26th, which I believe is the rainiest day in the history of rain (OK, that's probably not true...but Thanksgiving weekend is notorious as the first weekend of flood season...and it's when the I-90 bridge sank back in the day...I'm just sayin'). When I started running I kind of liked running in the drizzle, 'cause it kept me cool. Then I discovered the wonder of dry-fit and the cool-staying became less of a problem. Now I'm not so sure. Definitely going to need a long-sleeve shirt or two, though, 'cause it's getting COLD in the morning!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Go buy this book.

So this guy who sings in this band I'm in wrote a book. This book, in fact.

You should go buy it immediately. Unless you're related to me, in which case don't buy it because that would spoil the Christmas surprise. Which is now spoiled anyway.

Haven't read the book yet because either Amazon lost the order I'm sure I placed back in, oh, July, or I was just insanely high at the time and haleucinated the whole thing. One of those.

Did I mention you should go buy the book? 'cause you should. And no, I don't get a cut.

Monday, October 02, 2006


That was my final time according to the "champion chip". Yes, I made both of my goals: I finished (goal #1), and I beat my friend Jaime's time from her marathon in this summer's Coer d' Alene Iron Man. So I can now say I'm faster than a woman 10 years younger than me who has already swum 2 miles, ridden her bike 113 miles, and has 4 bruised and blistering toes. Hey, when you're almost 40 you've got to take your victories where you can, right? Right.

Here are the full stats:

Place Overall: 4845 out of 7548
Men: 2710 out of 3328
M 35-39: 478 out of 545
AgeGrade: 40.79% Place: 5842
FINISH: 5:17:17 pace: 12:07
10k: 1:12:00 pace: 11:36
Turn-9.1Mi: 1:50:03 pace: 12:06
Half: 2:30:45 pace: 11:30
20 Mile: 3:58:29 pace: 11:56
35K: 4:21:03 pace: 12:01

Not sure what "AgeGrade" means, or if 40.79% is a passing "AgeGrade" or if I have to go back for summer school. Anyhow, here's the fairly detailed recap (mile-by-mile seemed a bit excessive):

Saturday Night:
I prepare for the race the way all the greats do, by attending the championship bout of the Rose City Rollers roller-derby league. This was my brother-in-law Tim's first derby bout and he was, predictably, confused as hell by the rules and scoring. It's clear that Rose City is only in their first year...the skating was ok, but not inspired. Not a Femme Fatale or Burnette Down to be found. The commentary isn't quite as good as Rat City's, but it's still amusing. And they've got a great drum core to open the show, which is often hard to beat. All in all it's a good time and helps relax. We stay for the first half, then head back to Tim's for some pasta and a quickly whipped-up marinara (thanks, Timmy!). Then it's off to bed to lie in the dark and try to sleep.

Sunday morning:
Up at 5, get dressed, eat a packet of instant oatmeal (maple and brown sugar, if you care) and a banana, drink some Gatorade, then hit the restroom for that vital pre-run voiding. In the car around 6, and Tim drops me off a block from the race site at about 6:30. I hop out of the car, forgetting my sunglasses and my Albuterol inhaler. Luckily I won't really need either.

I work my way through the crowd, trying to figure out where my "pace group" was. You're supposed to line up by how long you think it will take you, and since my goal is to beat 5:30 I am looking for signs that would put me somewhere close. I knew there were going to be "pace runners", and there were supposed to be banners grouping people, but I can't see either in the sea of people. Finally I spot a woman carrying a yellow balloon on a stick with "5:15" written on it. I'd found my group.

We stand around chatting (she had run many marathons before, but had had to take some time off because of hip and knee problems...another woman in the group was on her 75th. I was the baby of the group, the "Almost 40-year-old Marathon Virgin" (which I should have put on my shirt...). Finally 7:00 rolls around and the gun goes off and we start to surge forward. Well, walk forward. Then jog. Then it is "avoid being trampled while avoiding tripping on someone else's feet or getting popped in the nose by an elbow" time.

First mile:
The first mile runs down 4th street through downtown Portland. It's a slow down-grade, which was very cool because you could see the sea of people stretching out in front. There were probably 6,000 of the 7,548 participants in front of me, and the line stretched an increasing distance as the faster people took off. Close to the 1 mile mark we pass a drum core beating a nice cadence. As I hear them I think "gee, wonder if that's the same group we saw last night at the Derby..." It is, and they continue to rock.

Second Mile:
The run on 4th continues through Chinatown, then turns around and starts north on the Naito Parkway. At this point I drop my extra shirt - I'd worn an old flannel from back in the day (complete with grunge-rocking torn elbow) to keep me warm while waiting for the start, and after a mile I am all warmed up.

About mile 1.5 we meet a motorcycle cop heading north on the Naito Parkway (the course starts out heading south on it, then turns north) escorting the first of the wheelchair racers. This dude on his hand-bike has just rolled 5 miles in the time it had taken us to run 1.5 (roughly 20 minutes, since he started at 6:59 and I crossed the start line at about 7:04).

Shortly after this we hit the first aid station, I slow to walk, sample my first "Ultima" of the day (a Gatorade clone...the orange is lousy) and take a much-needed bathroom break to get rid of all the Gatorade I drank with breakfast. Somewhere in there we pass a guy with a bright red sweat-suit banging those inflatable "bang sticks" they give a way at NBA games and cheering us on.

Third and Fourth Miles:
The first real hill hits just after the 2 mile marker, as we turn away from the river and run back up to 4th. Not too steep, not too long, but enough to wake up the legs which have basically been coasting along (amazing that I can now "coast" for 2 miles when back in February I was laboring to cover the same distance). After heading south on Barber Blvd. for a mile or so we turn back north on Front Street (which becomes the Naito Parkway) and pass under a marimba band performing on a pedestrian overpass. I fight the urge to correct the runner next to me who says to his girlfriend / running partner "Cool! A steel drum band!"

Fifth, sixth and seventh miles:
We continue down Front and back along the parts of the Naito Parkway we covered in the first few miles. Red sweat-suit guy is still there, banging and cheering away. We head north out of the downtown area and in to industrial NW Portland. The Ultima continues to be orange and continues to suck. At Mile Post 4 I have the first of my Hammer energy gel. It's vanilla, and kind of tastes like custard.

Eighth, ninth and tenth miles:
Continuing north on Front we pass a Christian rock band singing something I can't understand (not because I don't get the religious references, but rather because the crappy guitar is drowning out the vocals) and a hippie jam band. I stop for another restroom break at about mile 9, take a couple Hammer Endurolytes (electrolyte replacement capsules), and keep on truckin'. Well, truckin' for a mile, then walking a bit, then truckin' for another mile...

We turn around just after mile 9 and head back south, again passing the jammers and the Christians. Still can't understand what they're saying. At some point in there I pass the guy in the red sweat suit again. Apparently he has nothing better to do on a Sunday morning than to come and cheer us on. It's appreciated, if a bit odd.

Eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth miles:
Just after mile post 11 we turn up hill again, heading toward the half-way point. I'm still feeling good, and take the hill in stride. At mile 12 I take in more Hammer products - a raspberry gel this time, which tastes a bit like jam, and more Endurolytes. Both products are new to my training, so I'm not sure exactly what I should be taking in when. During my long training runs I drank Gatorade and ate Clif bars, but the Gatorade alone didn't do the trick and I ended up cramping. And the Clif bar was solid and toward the end of the bar just kind of sat in my stomach. So now I'm experimenting with dosage during the race, which is probably not the best idea.

Mile 13, the mid-point:
I've now been on the road for two and a half hours and feel remarkably good. I'm on a pace to hit 5 hours, which is insane. I've told Paige to meet me at mile 21 at 11 and am now wondering if I'll get there before her. That would be bad, since she's packing my final 2 gels and I'm sure I'm going to need them to avoid bonking. At some point around mile 12.5 my Garmin GPS decides that I've leapt forward in space and have actually covered 13.5 miles. So now I have to consciously subtract a mile every time I look at it, and the "average pace" readings are all wrong. Not a critical issue, but an annoying one.

Fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth miles:
We head north along Highway 30. They've coned off the left lane, but the street is open to traffic and there are a lot of cars going by. So everyone pretty much hugs the gutter to avoid accidentally getting clipped. Lots of cars honk as they pass, which is nice. Fewer bands out here, since there's not much space to set them up, and a lot of traffic noise to compete with. At about mile 16.5 there's a string of port-a-potties with a DJ station set up next to them. I take advantage of both, and thanks to the delay get back on pace to meet Paige at 11:00. As I leave the DJ launches in to "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It." Perfect song to eat your last energy gel.

Seventeenth and eighteenth miles: The Big Hill.
Throughout my training, every time I have talked to anyone who has run this race they talk about the big hill at mile 17. So in the training I've tried to put in some big hills at points where I'm tired. Now we'll see if it paid off...and it does. One advantage is I've ridden my bike up this hill on the Portland Bridge Pedal, so I know roughly how long and steep it is. It is both, but not insanely so. The hill on Madrona up from Lake Washington (in Seattle) is longer, and Lake Washington Boulevard is steeper. I chug up it, skipping my standard walking break at mile 17 since I just rested at 16.5. The hill is easier to run up than to ride, since I can run slower and don't have to worry about the bike tipping over. Waiting at the top of the hill, just before we turn on to the St. John's Bridge, there's another marimba band. They seem to be following me. I slow to a walk at the top of the bridge and enjoy the view up the river at downtown Portland.

Eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth miles:
As I come off the bridge and turn down the hill, I see my friends the McKinstries. Now that is unexpected! I'd heard they might come down, then that they weren't, and so I'm a bit shocked to see them. I slow down, walk with Dave a bit, get some pictures taken, have some water, then continue on up the hill while Dave reports in on the phone to let Tim know where I am.

Within the next three miles I start to hit the wall. My feet are getting sore, I'm out of gel, and need a refill on water. At the aid station at mile 20 I get both, accepting a "Honey" gel that's flavored with bananas. One small taste and I toss the whole thing, because the combination of honey and banana is just plain wrong. The water is good, though, and the orange Ultima is starting to grow on me. The guy in the red sweat suit pops up again, banging and cheering. He's clearly having a good time watching us sweat.

Twenty-first mile:
Definitely flat against the wall now, I'm walking more frequently and my right heel is starting to hurt. I'm now pacing with a race walker...I jog past her, get ahead a bit, then slow to a walk and she chugs by me. She's got great form, just like Bill Nye in the old "Speed Walker" bits on Almost Live. I'm glad I wasn't near her at the start or I'm sure I would have been clocked in the chin by one of her elbows.

My back starts to itch, thanks to the sweat. It's right on my shoulder blade, and I'm sure I can reach it, so I reach up with my right hand to scratch it and my tricep starts to cramp. I curse at it silently, massage it a bit, and shake it out. Stupid arms aren't even doing any exercise, so they have no excuse for cramping. I pop another Endurolyte and drink more water to try to fight off the cramp. It seems to work.

Mile Post 21:
Paige, the kids and the McKinstries are waiting for me at mile 21. Paige hands off the gels, I crack the raspberry one, and Logan takes some pictures of my number and my sweaty head. I pop a few more Endurolytes, upping the dosage to 3 from 2, and drink more water. I scratch the back of my neck and my nails come away gritty with salt. Yum...

Twenty-second, and twenty-third miles:

We continue south along the bluff on Willamette boulevard, looking down at the city and the river. The view is great, but my legs hurt. A lot. And now my left heel is starting to hurt a bit too. And downtown looks a long way away. I'm now in uncharted territory, having never run farther than 20 miles. I shift the Endurolyte dosage, adding one pill every mile and a half or so, with two on the 3-mile marks. I pass a guy wearing an all-black outfit - the dry-fit style wicking stuff. He's got a great salt pattern on his back...looks like a dry lake bed in the desert.

Twenty-fourth mile:
The road heads down hill. A nice, long, not too steep down hill. Another one I've ridden on on the Bridge Pedal. Unlike the hill at mile 17, this one is definitely easier on a bike. My thighs are now starting to cramp up a bit, so I pop another Endurolyte, drink more water and Ultima at the aid station, and walk a bit. Down is definitely harder than up on the thighs.

After we hit the bottom of the hill there's a slight incline...not nearly as easy as the hill was at mile 3. Wonder why. Shortly before the mile 24 marker there's an aid station with a guy cheering us on. He's wearing a bib number and looks totally relaxed, so he's clearly been done for a while. He talks about how we've "only got 2 miles to go!" I round the corner and run another quarter mile and finally come to the mile 24 marker. Only 2 miles my ass...

Twenty-fifth mile:
Another quarter mile after marker 24 I find Tim. He's waiting at what originally was the "unofficial Beer Aid Station." He's been with these guys most of the morning as they handed out PBR to runners, interviewing them and the runners. At some point before I get there the cops show up and shut the operation down and there's apparently a bit of a confrontation. I'm sorry I missed it, not for the beer but for the fun. The end is now almost in sight and I start in on the "only a mile and a half to go" mantra that worked so well during my 20-mile training run.

Twenty-sixth mile:
Mile Post 25 is at the beginning of the Steel Street bridge. It's a moderately steep on-ramp to the bridge, but I hit it in stride continuing my streak of not walking up any hills. My legs really, really hurt. I walk on the top, then jog down the other side and turn back on to the Naito parkway. My shirt is still hanging on the fence where I tossed it 5 hours ago. I leave it there, hoping some homeless person will find it and it. I grab a few cups of water at the last aid station, drinking one and pouring the others in my bottle so I'll have them after.

2 tenths to go:
I jog up Naito toward Salmon where the finish chute starts. There are people calling out the number of blocks left..."Only 10 blocks to go!" "Only 9 1/2 blocks to go!" (this roughly a block and a half after the last guy...). I pause to walk and drink some water shortly after the 9 1/2 block lady but before Mile Post 26, then gear up for the final surge. It's slightly less painful to walk than run at this point, but the difference is minimal. A block or two later and I can see the turn and I pass Mile Post 26. The signs loom: "No non-registrants past this point!"

I turn in to the chute.

The finish:
The finishing chute is about 4 1/2 blocks long and up hill all the way...3 up Salmon street from the river to 3rd, then 1 1/2 up 3rd Avenue to the finish line. It's lined with barrier fencing, and that's lined with people. None of them, as far as I know, are there to see me, but they're all cheering nonetheless.

I'm now in full-on game-time mode: I'm going to push through the finish. I know I've got the energy, I know it's a limited distance, and let's face it, I've always been a better sprinter than a distance guy. So now it's time to prove that. I start to push. (It's really too bad that Paige couldn't get a good close-up photo of me chugging up Salmon, because I'd like to know what I looked like. In fact, that thought passed through my mind about half way up the hill, in between the mantra of "breathe...push...breathe...push..." I was definitely focused on finishing)

I pass the "fat lady" - a caricature of the classic opera diva, complete with Viking helmet and metal bustier - blaring opera music. I'm passing people as I head up the hill. I cross the first mat - the one that lets the announcer know I'm coming - then turn on to third and the finish line is in sight. So are Paige, the kids, and the McKinstries, lining one section of fencing on the right side and yelling at me. I waive, then push on toward the finish. The announcer says "It's a strong finish for Scott from Seattle," I take a few more strides, cross the final mats, and I'm done.

The post-finish area is a frenzy of activity: Get medal, have timing chip removed from shoe, get space blanket from kindly old man, move to food booths, grab some grapes and water and stare dazedly around at other people doing the same thing. Move further on, having a banana and looking for the yoghurt smoothie that guy over there is drinking. Find smoothie, see more grapes, grab them. Avoid cookies (shocking, I know...) because they might hurt the stomach. Oh, there's some more water...grab that and drink it. Finally find myself at the end of the food area and it's time to get a pin on the way out. Now there's a Girl Scout handing me a rose and a guy asking if I want the white or green shirt. I chose green. There's a kid with a bag of goodies (mostly crap...) for me to take, and other kids handing out tree seedlings (it's a Douglas Fir, I think...not sure where to plant it, but I take it anyway). My hands are now totally full, so I pause for a photo. Pick up the stuff after the picture and head out to the Reunion Area where I find Paige, the kids, and the McKinstries.

Many hugs and photos later Tim shows up with my post-run bag and the cooler full of Gatorade. I crack a cool LemonLime, pass some stuff off to the family, and we start the long walk to the car. We get there, I go to change my shirt, and realize that somewhere along the way we've managed to drop my fancy green Finisher shirt. Shit. Hopefully they'll sell me another one (they will, but it's white and not green. Sigh...). I put on a t-shirt and sweatshirt and we drive back to Tim's where an ice bath awaits my sore legs and a nice soft couch awaits my sore behind. The race is over.