Thursday, October 29, 2009

On Your Feet!

Today proved a difficult - and painful - discovery: no amount of long slow distance runs, tempo runs, or intervals can prepare you for 14-hours on your feet; in a booth; standing. That's what happened today, and, sadly, that's what will happen again tomorrow.

I'd liken the time I've spent thus far at my job's annual conference to running a marathon. There's the optimism at the starting line. A freshness to the morning and bounce to your step. The coffee's been brewed and consumed. The mood is high.

Time moves quickly, the miles and minutes turning over like a flip book. You just think this day or this race is going to whiz by. A healthy dose of reality begins to settle in, though. There's a slight twinge in your calf (this actually works well for both scenarios), but you trudge on. A quick glance at the watch reveals that the pace has fallen off a bit and those easy minutes and miles aren't coming quite so easy any more.

Half way. If you haven't eaten anything yet, it's time to dip into the stash. Energy gels, jelly beans (in my case today, pickings were slim: halloween candy, cookies...really nothing with any nutritional value. I mentioned coffee brewed...that served as my breakfast. I could have killed for an apple or even some pretzels!) This is about the time that I mentioned how quickly the day was going by to which my boss replied, "our booth is open until 7." It was only noon. It was here that I died a little bit inside.

Mile 17 or four hours to go. Twenty miles is so close and you've cruised passed half way. That twinge in your calf if gone and instead replaced by stiffness in your knees. Sure, seven hours have gone by, but you feel you've aged seven years, and you've got the frankenstein walk to prove it.

Mile 20 or two hours to go. The glycogen stores are completely gone. You've heard about the wall and now you've run smack into it...and you're losing. You want to stop, you want to sit, you want the torturer to strap you down to the rack and stretch your spine just so your lower back doesn't feel like it's being scrunched in a vice...perhaps I've said too much. You look at your watch thinking that the mile marker must be getting's only been two minutes.

The point is, the crankiness has begun to set in. People you know and love probably wouldn't recognize you, and chances are, you wouldn't want them to...because that means you'd have to interact with them.

The legs are heavy. The mind is weary. Every step is agony. Each sentence formed requires you to dig into the depths of places you never knew you thought you had just to put together a coherent thought.

The finish line is in sight. There's pain, but you know it can all be over soon. In fact, the end looks like relief. It looks like bare feet laid up on a couch not coming any where close to touching the ground. It looks like a nice tall glass of beer.

And good Lord how that big soft bed is going to feel when you slide under the cool covers.

Finally, you break the tape. You cover the table. And by God it's over. The sweeping euphoria washes over you. Do you smile? Do you cry? Do you have a choice?

My choice is to get up tomorrow and do it all over again because this week is an ultra. I'm doing my best "Michael Wardian" and pulling back-to-back marathons.

The plus side is that we've located a grocery store and tomorrow, there will be fruit, there will be yogurt, and, yes, friends, there will be kashi. And now, I sleep.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Furnace is Hot...I Hope

One of many favorite scenes from "Once a Runner" is Parker's description of the whippet-thin runners storming into an all-you-can-eat fried chicken buffet and simply piling the picked over carcasses in the middle of the table and downing pitchers of beer without a thought. Cassidy declares, "The furnace is hot."

Indeed. I remember back to my 50 and 60 mile weeks, when I had to eat every hour or so just to keep from getting hangry. Oh, how I would get to work on Monday mornings and crave the sausage and egg sandwiches from the deli across the street and not care a bit because I knew it would just slide off without a chance of sticking to my bones.

Well, I'm hoping to channel those days. I cranked out a killer 12-mile run that included 20-minutes of intervals in the middle (30 sec sprint followed by a 90 sec jog) that left me ravenous. This came on the heels of my first-place age group the day before in a local 5K that included a 2-mile warmup and cool down. The furnace was a-burning.

Now, I'm on a five day business trip and the diet has not fared so well. The sodium! My God the sodium! Thus far my two dinners have consisted of a 16oz Kansas City strip and what can only be described as a meat platter (three different kinds of ribs, deep fried mushrooms, and a LOADED baked potato. Seriously, if they had pulled some pork and used it to top a sundae, I would have eaten it. Now, I feel pretty awful. This of course doesn't include the abnormal amount of alcohol imbibed. Blaaaah.

So, I here I am, at the mercy of local restaurants, far away from my Kashi, yogurt, and otherwise butter/sugar free diet. I'm contemplating a 5:50 a.m. detox run on the treadmill (I'd rather die in a fire) tomorrow morning, but the kahlua and cream to round out tonight is arguing otherwise. We shall see. I think my mood when the wake up call comes will determine whether that happens or not. I'm staring down a minimum 12-hour day, in a booth, on my feet, the whole time. Perhaps that's the only detox I'll need. The furnace might need some more fuel.

Friday, October 23, 2009

XT Thursdays - Sweat it out

Like taking a break from running one or two days a week to x-train or rest, Thursdays have become my day to “rest” from writing about running. A couple weeks ago I wrote about the cage match-like atmosphere that has become the Northern VA Floor hockey league I play goalie in.

My wife, currently nursing a full-blown cold, asked the absurd question, “Are you going to hockey tonight?” Which resulted in the following exchange:
“Of course.”“Even though you don’t feel well?”
“Um, it’s the playoffs.”

Channeling hall of fame goaltender Patrick Roy (childhood hero), I vowed to be the bastion of defense my team needed, raw throat be damned. It’s the playoffs, baby. Sacrifices must be made!

Last night featured what should have been a breezy first round matchup for the Neanderthals. We came in ranked as the No. 1 seed and faced a Loudon Pirates team who we thumped earlier in the season. Things did not go according to plan. To start, our leading goal scorer couldn’t make it, which created a giant hole in our offense. Second, there was no sense of urgency last night. We spent the majority of time in our own end and yours truly felt like he should have been wearing a blindfold and smoking a cigarette as the firing squad bared down.

Nevertheless, we escaped into the half with a 0-0 tie. We took a 1-0 lead into the final ten minutes before the Pirates evened the score on a shot that, had I seen, I could have/should have saved. Then, the unthinkable happened. The shot heard round the world. With three minutes left, a seemingly innocent pass to no one in particular in front of our goal caromed off the foot of my defenseman and into the net. Maybe you heard about it on SportsCenter? No? Well, that proved to be the final stake in the heart. Number 1 seed officially bounced. Thursday night officially ruined.

I thought my night was over there; however, as is the case in this league, other goalies can be unreliable, so I hopped back between the pipes for the next game (3 vs. 6 matchup). Playing for the 6th seeded Equalizers, I knew I’d be in for another firing squad-esque game. Luckily, I came out on the right end of that one and completed the second upset of the night.

Still fending off a sore throat with no other symptoms (and thinking that strep throat may actually be a viable explanation), I hesitated to play the second game; however, the more I played, the better my throat felt. I have to admit, I’m a heavy sweater. After many a summer run, I trot up the stairs of our house looking like I’ve just jumped in a pool…it’s pretty gross actually. I’ve gotten in the habit of weighing myself before and after running and hockey to see how much water weight I’ve lost so I can rehydrate appropriately. Two games of hockey = Sweaty, sweaty goalie. How sweaty? I lost six pounds last night.

The upside is that I woke up this morning…and the sore throat was gone. Still putting the tempo run on hold this afternoon but thinking I’ll squeeze it in tomorrow as a tune up for Sunday’s 5K.

With my team bounced from the playoffs, I get a well-earned week off next week (though I’ll be in Kansas City for work anyway), but I’ll return to the hard court on Nov. 5, for I have been elected to the All-Star team. Check your local Versus listings for exclusive coverage.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Paging Dr. Wait and See

You've been there before. The alarm goes off. The inward groan. You peel the covers back. Feet hit the floor. And...something's not quite right. You gather some saliva, swallow hard. But it's still there. You think, "Coffee. Scolding hot coffee will take care of this. I'm just thirsty. Something warm." It's that dreaded scratchy, dryness that starts in the back of your throat. Then it doesn't go away. In fact, it gets worse.

I feel fortunate that I'm not training for a fall marathon, but can certainly empathize with those who are. Every door handle looks infected. Every stray cough causes pause. Tall glasses of OJ become a diet staple. I actually slept in our guest room for a few nights when my wife had the sniffles, which only turned out to be allergies. I may or may not have Purell holstered to my belt. Take no chances!

As I've started to run and train harder over the past two years, I feel a deeper connection to my body. When I can push through, when I need to back off, when something is coming on, why those neck lymph nodes feel a touch swollen and tender. It's those last two that have become both a blessing and a curse. Blessing to be so in tune. Curse to know what's to come.

For me, it starts in the throat. There's a slow migration to the sinuses. Breathing from the mouth becomes essential because, well, there's no other way to take in air. Then the tide shifts and flows down to the chest and it rattles around there for another week or so. Finally, normalcy returns.

Well, yesterday morning, I entered stage 1. I tried all day to convince myself that that raspy-ness would go away. Until it got worse last night. Then I woke up this morning and not only did it hurt more, but my wife had the same symptom. My immediate thought was strep. To be fair, any sore throat I get now, I automatically think strep. I had strep back in May - the week before my marathon mind you - and it felt similar. Plus, one of my co-workers has a sister and nephew who always seem to have it. Seriously, I've never heard of two people having strep more. I swear she's a host because she never gets it.

Then I spent the day thinking it may be a side effect to last week's flu shot...but my wife never got a flu shot. Scratch that off. We went to a wedding up in Mass. this past weekend. That means flying on a plane, strangers coughing next to me, just a big iron lung of germs, really. Break out the lemon and honey.

Point is, it could have come from anywhere. After much deep thought, the only casualty of the day became my scheduled 6-mile tempo run. This was a hard decision. To call off a run, I mean, this is coming from the person who played hockey through bronchitis and had it turn into pneumonia, not to mention running an effing marathon having just barely recovered in time from, bum bum bum...strep.

I'm a big fan of the "wait and see" approach; i.e., let's wait and see if it gets worse...or better for that matter. After a day of waiting and seeing (and some hard core salt water gargling) I have to say, I'm feeling better. But the morning is the true test isn't it? Thursday is cross training day so running is out tomorrow; however, it's a crucial floor hockey first round match up for my team.

Until then, I'm in for a night of hanging out on the couch with the dog, catching up on House episodes, and one magical shot of Nyquil around 10:00. As Tom Hanks as Chuck Noland said in Cast Away, "And I know what I have to do now. I gotta keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?"

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Flint Hill Football Team Hates Me

The title may be a slight exaggeration - in fact, I'd say most of the members of the Flint Hill Football team have little to no regard for me. But seriously, what is it with football players? Actually, I'm going to lump lacrosse players in there as well now that I think back to my high school days, but for all intents and purposes, this is about the FH football team.

For the past year-and-a-half, I've been using Flint Hill's track for my interval workouts. Should I be? Maybe not. It's a private school after all, but no one has said anything about it yet, and, reaching back to elementary school excuses, "other people do it too!". Normally, it's dark and desolate in the winter by the time I get there or it's summer break and no one is using it; however, there is some overlap and, let it be known, I will yield to any practices actually taking place on the track. Disclaimer concluded.

The past two weeks, the football team has been using the field on the inside of the track. For the record, last week they moved up there after I'd already been on the track, but tonight they were already there. I'm not sure what goes through the minds of an adolescent football player when they see a bare-bones runner whipping around a track (donning a Michael Wardian-style backwards hat). I hoped nothing. I didn't hope hard enough.

It all started last week. I was in the middle of a killer 4x1600m workout followed by 4x200m, and I was in the flow. I snickered to myself watching the tubby linemen chug down the sidelines to finish their practice with coach's obligatory sprints. We coexisted peacefully. Then, on the third lap of my final mile repeat, some of the team had spilled over onto the track while they waited to begin their sprints. Let me clarify: spilled over into lane 1. Track etiquette faux pas.

My original thought was, "My track, my workout, my lane." Of course if anyone had the right to be on it, it was these kids, but that's hindsight.

I came off the turn and prepared to ride the line separating lane 1 and 2, just close enough to brush by him and let him know I was there (I had seen him run, I knew I had him if it came down to it), but at the last second he stepped off the field. Altercation (and forearm shiver) averted.

Today, I believe the freshman football team was on the field, maybe it was JV. They were running pass routes. I was running 6x800 (at a good clip I must say). We paid one another no mind and just went about our workouts...until theirs finished. Players began to trickle on to the track to make their way either to the locker room or up to the soccer field to catch the end of the soccer game (more toward the locker room, though -- football players can't be bothered with any other sports, a constant sore spot for this former hockey player).

All but three players had left the field. The last two fled across the track as they saw me tearing down the backstretch. But the third one had other ideas on his mind. He slowed his trot down and began ambling along the sideline, staring me down the entire way. In my great maturity, I pumped my arms harder and bared down him. My track. My workout. My lane. Within roughly 20 meters of each other he decided to cross the track......we nearly collided. Nearly. He timed it well enough so that we just missed each other. Meat had a good 50-60 lbs on me but I'm pretty wiry, so I like my chances if it came down to something. No words were exchanged, only a chilling look from him and a big, shit-eating grin from me. We each turned over our shoulder to deliver these fierce looks...then moved on.

For a second, I thought I had returned to high school...or Staten Island, I'm not sure which is worse for general cocky, thuggery.

Two near misses in the last two's such a damn nice track, though. Here I thought I had left all that football macho BS behind after college. You can bet I'll be back next week...after a quick trip to the gym.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Bus Ticket Punched

Well, as you can see by the graphic at the header of the post, I am officially registered for the Boston Marathon on April 19, 2010. Excited is a word I'd use, but more than that, I'm relieved. I've never registered for a race before in which you have to wait one month-plus to hear if you get in or not. Plus, I suffered through about six weeks after qualifying in Vermont where I was afraid they'd lower the qualifying standards, and my 3:08:41 wouldn't be good enough. The. Wait. Is. Over!

It's been hard hearing about all the marathon-prep going on throughout October and November. Between Chicago, Marine Corps, New York, and many other smaller races, it's all over Runner's World, Running Times, even sneaking into the Washington Post here and there. All I'm looking forward to these days is the Goblin Gallop or Turkey Trot 5Ks that also complement this season. You could say I'm antsy for a big race (even though the Army Ten-Miler was less than four weeks ago).

My saving grace has been that I'm finally back on a training program. Tacked to the fridge, I've got a ten-week "Boston Buildup" plan I put together back in June (excited much?). As my friend Tim will tell you, "I love a good plan," and what's more, I love ticking off each workout once it's complete. Of course the plan also comes with the obligatory guilt for missing a run and the constant schedule shuffling to get everything to fit in. Take this past weekend. My 12-mile cut down run got nixed because of a wedding. Returning home late last night, my hard core visions of heading out the door once unpacked quickly faded as I traded my running shorts for pj pants and a fat steak.

Today's 7-miler I think more than made up for it, but I went to bed second-guessing. When preparing for the Vermont marathon, I kept telling myself that if I didn't make it, it wasn't going to be because I didn't work hard, and that means hitting all the workouts.

What I love about this new plan, though, is that it's building off my heavy mileage from earlier this year. That means fewer high mileage weeks now (topping off between 35-40) and focusing more on speed work, i.e. quality over quantity. Each workout essentially ends with a series of striders, hill intervals, or some sort of tempo pickup in the middle of a longer run. I'm now using words like "progression run," "cut down run," and old favorites like, "short intervals" and "mile repeats." My quads and hamstrings are awake!

I can already notice the difference, however. My legs have much more pop and turnover than before, and my easy runs clock in around 6:50 pace with ease. If you asked where I found it, I couldn't tell you. But I believe it's from the Running Times Web site and a modified program of what Ryan Hall works with.

Will it work? Time will literally tell. Until then, just happy to be on the road and officially pointed toward Boston.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Army Ten-Miler Redux - Part 2 + Weekly Ramblings

This week didn't exactly go according to plan. When shit goes down at work, some things have to suffer, and unfortunately it was running this week. I traded my planned seven-miler for an afternoon of beers on Wednesday. Next thing I knew, it was Thursday cross-training again and tempers roiled at the JCC with the Neanderthals eeking out 3-2 win.

I hoped to return to thoughts on my Army Ten-Miler PR from this past week with some general ramblings. Better late than never I suppose:

1. The Army does it right. Race not only started on time but proved quite moving. The race officially starts with runners who have lost limbs in Iraq and the prayer at the start, mixed with the helicopter flyover is enough to stir emotions and make you thankful that you're part of this race.

2. First time racers can be morons. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy for all the people who get out there and run. I mentioned in a previous post that it's a comforting and even motivating thought to be lined with people who have traveled from all over to that one starting line. But come on, people, a little race etiquette, please? If you know you're supposed to be in the last starting corral because you plan to run slow, then for the love of God get back there. I spent the first mile dodging walkers, joggers, and folks taking pictures. To the back of the line, please.

3. Christmas comes early. I opted for the green Nike singlet and red shorts, to which Rachel has enjoyed pointing out for consecutive long run Sundays leading up to the race that I look like Christmas. To further reinforce this, the first words out of my friend's mouth in the parking lot were, "Nice, Brad. You look like Christmas." Validation achieved.

4. Superstitions are crucial to success. I've had a relatively new pair of Asics GT 2140s since March that I've been wearing, but in terms of a starting pair, these are my backups. Instead I've been sporting an older GT 2130 model. The 2140s were being phased into the starting role; however, after my impromptu tempo run in the 2130s, I needed to see if they still had some magic left in them. I'll let the time speak for itself (65:02). You tell me, huh?

5. Speaking of superstitions. I am beardless. It's still difficult to talk about. I watched a small piece of my friend swirl down the drain with each swipe of the razor Sunday night. I like to say it's the shoes, but really, it was a perfect blend of karma between beard, shoe, and short. A moment of silence for a fallen comrade.....

6. I love sausage. Since my marathon training earlier this year, I have come to appreciate the salty sensation that only sausage can deliver after a long run or a race. Two questions: Did I enjoy sausage after the 10-miler? Yes. Will I be delighting in sausage after tomorrow's 5K? I know no other way.

I'm still shocked at last week's 10-miler time, though I feel it bodes well for upcoming training, the simplicity of a 5K, and, yes, evidence that superstitions do in fact work.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Army Ten-Miler Redux - Part 1

Simply put, some days it all comes together. A sub-70 10-miler was the goal, no matter what I told people. In my head, that was always it whether I said so or not. You might call it my little secret. I came up 1:03 short at last year's Army Ten-Miler, hampered by a shin injury that stifled my training. Yet, I ran my first sub-70 in the National Half Marathon (a 66-low) and my second in the Burlington, VT Marathon (a mid-69). But never had it happened in an actual 10-mile race.

I would classify my summer of running as almost anything but. I spent more time in the gym, but not because I wanted to, because I was forced to from that pesky IT band injury from the 2004 Marine Corps Marathon. I still remember the ill-fated nine-miler: I was coming up the Fairfax County Parkway, a tough stretch of highway with no turns, only a stop light that never seems to get any closer. I tried to ignore the muscle starting to clench on the outside of my right leg, but nothing could convince me otherwise when, with just 2.5 miles to go, I pulled up and felt that long tendon tighten like a bow string. I ended that "run," hobbling and walking back to my house. That was July. It didn't get better until the beginning of August.

Training became a frustrating and unfulfilling chore that usually ended after only a mile or 1.5 (normally a warm up), and left me with thoughts of "Did that hurt?" "Is it ok?" "How's this hill going to be?" Sub-70 in jeopardy once again.

As I mentioned before, my hike out west proved life-altering. I felt whole again, and the training started to click, not so much the pace, but at least the distance. Then, two weeks ago a normal 7-mile run went from humid and awful at the halfway mark to a turning point. I cruised the last 3.5 miles as if I had been running all summer. Then I followed it up with a 5-miler at 6:50 pace. A glimmer.

Yesterday, I put no pressure on myself at the start. Nothing to prove. No expectations. The weather was perfect (Sunny and 57 at the start). Had a nice mile and change warmup with some striders, a warm sweat beading up....

I was through the first mile in 6:59. That proved the worst mile of the race as I zigged and zagged through the mobs of people who decided to ignore their corral assignment. We turned onto the Memorial Bridge and I tried to enjoy the shimmering Potomac with the Kennedy Center and Georgetown to my left and the 14th street bridge that would lead me to the finish (last year's undoing) to my right. I kept channeling that magic 7-mile run, knowing that I could do my best running in the middle miles.

Two went by without notice because of the chaos at the water station. At three, I checked the watch, 20:17. A quick calculation and I'm at 6:30 pace with plenty of gas in the tank.

Halfway comes up (literally) and Jefferson looks on from the right...33:02. Can that be right? Still no signs of fatigue and we're heading into the downhill portion of the course, i.e. down Independence to the Capitol. I'm thinking that if I double that, I'm at an impossible 66, but most likely a 67-68, and worst case, I blow up but hang on for a 69. The leaders pass by on the other side and look to be feeling that hill. I try to block them out and run my own race but damn I wish I was on that side of the cones.

I labeled this my recovery mile and also enjoyed the open space that cleared up as the crowd began to thin. I needed to regroup here for the long charge back up independence from 7-8, and then 8-10 across that damn bridge.

Preparing for the march up Independence, I looked at my watch and, trying to calculate my pace and options for 7-8 (I don't do math, I should mention. I'm a writer after all who went to a Liberal Arts College), I look up again to realize that I'm actually cresting the hill and making the turn onto 14th street. I can run two 9:30s and come in under 70. All that's left is that bridge.

The 14th Street Bridge rolls over the Potomac, connecting the District to Virginia. There are no buildings to hide the sun and crowd support is sparse. You're essentially alone with the last two miles of the race extended before you and, like the stop light on Fairfax County Parkway, the finish line not getting any closer. This bridge broke me last year and nearly slowed me to a walk at Marine Corps. She's a mean bitch.

But this year, she's my bitch. With each hill I rise over, I take the declivity to recover and prepare for the next climb. Nine comes and goes and I just bury my head and take off for the finish. The hills are no match for my quads and I barely feel my breathing waver. Taking the exit down to the Pentagon, the crowd noise gets louder as we funnel under a bridge and toward the finish line -- that big beautiful banner. "Keep the flow. Ride the current," has been my mantra for the last 9.5 miles and I repeat it over and over. "Keep the flow. Ride the current." Here comes the finishing kick. "Keep the flow. Ride the current." Stomach starts to strain, arms keep pumping, stride lengthens. "Keep the flow. Ride the current." The banner passes overhead, and I click my watch just after the line. A big deep breath and a few steps before looking down....65:02. YeeeeeeOwwwww! Hot damn!

I walked around (albeit a bit stiff) for the rest of the day, with an ear-to-ear grin wrapped around my face - that is when I wasn't going in and out sleep on the couch.

Here's the official:


Gun / Chip




6.5Mi Split

Chip Time


1:06:56 / 1:05:02

440 /21289






Tomorrow, I have a few odds and ends to wrap up, including a near tearful good bye to a good friend. But until then, I nod off to bed once again, sub-70 in the books, with the thought that started this post...some days it all comes together.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Cross Training Days are Intense

In an effort to embrace cross-training/find an excuse to keep my hockey equipment out of the attic, I joined a floor hockey team that plays every Thursday night. Did I mention we play at the Jewish Community Center? Well, we do. *insert pause for hilarity*

Can we move on? Let’s. So, we gather every Thursday to do battle in this cramped, stuffy, coliseum, where the men and ladies of the greater northern Virginia area, of varying degrees of physical fitness, duke it out for glory for 40-minutes. You can’t imagine how seriously people take this. I’m not kidding. People get thrown out each week. Punches are thrown. Shins are slashed. Egos inflated and destroyed all in the span of two 20 minute halves.

As much as I like to play this off as my fun, cross-training activity, that old competitive (and, yes, superstitious) spirit comes out. Take last night for example. I had the mentally arduous task of bouncing back from last week’s three-goal nightmare, i.e. I let in three goals, yet we still won 6-3. This is the most goals I’ve let it in during a game in three seasons. I was distraught to say the least…I am the reigning Neighborhood Athletic Association “Top Goaltender” from last season after all. Are you basking in my glory? You should see the certificate I’ve hung in my middle-management cubicle – the name reads Brad Holdsworth. Solid.

So last night, as I was saying, I’m trying to recover from last week’s debacle against, who else, but our arch rivals, the Bushwackers. Note: the only undefeated team left in the league. It all started out well. We jumped ahead to a 1-0 lead at the end of the first half, and scored quickly in the second half to go ahead 2-0. The general rule in hockey says that the two-goal lead is the worst to have.

It’s at this point that a rather stocky gentleman, who I started referring to as “meat,” decided to park himself in front of me to screen/irritate the piss out of me for the final ten minutes of the game. Without being able to get to the referee’s attention and point this egregious violation out, I simply pushed back.

The final seconds ticked down with the ball in our zone. In fact, the ball was in the corner and we’re clinging to a 2-1 lead. You’ll realize how relevant this is in a moment. So “meat” sticks his beefy self in front of me, and, fed up with it, I fall back into the goal, knocking it off. He falls down on top of me, it’s a big mess of limbs and hockey equipment. The referee, in his infinite wisdom, looks at me, and says, “You’re not going to believe this. I’m calling a penalty shot.” Well, you can imagine the fury that ensued and the string of obscenities uttered by my teammates. I mean, just the most garbage call of time. Worse than the Tom Poti obstruction call in OT, in Game 7 of the 2008 playoffs, that led to the Capitals elimination.

Bearing down on me, their forward walks in (it’s floor hockey remember), game-tying goal on his stick, undefeated season on the line. He makes a move to his back hand, and I stuffed him with a flash of the right pad. Game over! Ah, the sweet, sweet sound of redemption. A victory in the bag. Confidence levels high. Cross training complete.

And to top it all off, the Caps opened their season with a 4-1 drubbing of the Boston Bruins. But like I said, it’s just floor hockey. Bring on the Army Ten-miler.
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