Tag Archives: MLS

MCM 2019/T-Minus 4:Logistics, T-Minus 3: Ceremonial

T-Minus 3: Ceremonial

Working backwards from right now, 5:01 p.m. EST

Just got done with a very late lunch from District taco, a short walk outside my hotel in Arlington, VA. Three delicious spicy shrimp tacos and a small bag of chips with guacamole. All for sixteen bucks.

After what I spent on the hotel and rental car-and oh, by the way, your debit card is on-hold until you check out Monday morning-I’m on cash for Marine Corps Marathon weekend. Which means cooking up a great big Dutch oven full of my classic Chili Cubano. I call it that because the meats resemble those found in a traditional pressed Cuban sandwich: pulled pork, ham, and in variant, spicy pork chorizo sausage. I’m using Johnsonville chorizo; it’s pretty good, but it’s not a traditional Mexican brand chorizo.

But I’m eating it and you’re not. Hahaha!

Anyway, I’m planning on fixing my dinner-cum-carbo loading for the weekend about 7:00, an hour before the last Major League Soccer conference semifinals.

Today, about 2:45 p.m. EST:

I was somewhere on I-395 south, heading into the Arlington/Rosslyn area, when I saw the standards for the runner’s corrals. There are where the runners will be grouped by their expected finishing time.

I saw the standards, and then it hit me: I am driving down the road where the 44th Marine Corps Marathon will be starting. This is it. This is why I spent so much money yesterday. This is the payoff for all the midwinter conditioning…answering the 4;30 a.m alarms (and sometimes earlier)…the early mornings at the Apex Clubhouse gym…and all the running of damn near every hill that the State of maryland could offer, from the Capital Crescent to the Chesapeake and Ohio Towpath.

This is why I’m here…to finish. For the FIFTH time.

I saw a Facebook post by a guy who had a picture of all the MCM patches from forty-one consecutive runs. May I live that long.

Wal-Mart Parking Lot, 1:15 p.m.

…aaand I’m on the road to Arlington, VA, leaving Wal-Mart only fifteen minutes later than I planned, but I’ll just get to the hotel just in time for 3:00 check-in.

I had to hit Wal-Mart for a bottle of Fairlife chocolate milk. It cost me about $3 at Wal-Mart and would cost me a lot more in VA. I also bought some cheap throw-away sweats for Sunday. I am expecting it to be cold and rainy, so bought a zippered hoodie and a pair of sweat bottoms with side pockets, both in large. Mediums would have been tight, but maybe I would have been warmer. I expect to be drenched in sweat and much warmer when I finish the Marathon on Sunday afternoon.

Speaking of sweats, I plan on breaking an old habit and actually using the clear plastic security bag that is packed with my runner’s bib, this year’s mock hoodie and accompanying patch, and other swag from the packet pick up. I plan on better recovering from the run this year, so I will pack my old olive bra green Marine sweats and a pair of compression socks. As soon as I finish, I plan on donning those sweats and socks. Maybe I can find a vendor selling chocolate milk to go with the post-race bananas handed out by Marines.

So what did I forget to pack this year? Just my epsom salt and dishwashing liquid for the post race cool-down bath. The Target had both; didn’t mind the expense, but I wish there was a smaller size bag or carton available for the epsom salt. I also forgot my rechargeable batteries; I had to borrow the set I was saving for my small camera that I use to take my in-race selfies (race start, Mile 8, Mile 16, just before 14th St. Bridge, Mile 24, finish). One more trip to Target.

Marine Aviation Detachment headquarters, 8:35 a.m.

The Ceremonial, the very last run of the training cycle. Arrived at the MAD at 0750. Five minute warning at 0755. Morning colors sounded at 0800. I took off my ball cap, put it over my heart, and faced in the direction of the flag to render honors. Made a few other drivers stop and pause…LIKE THEY’RE SUPPOSED TO WHEN COLORS SOUNDS on a military installation.

At the very last second, I decided to ditch MapMyRun and just go and run. Today was not about pace or negative splits; it was about taking the first step in regaining that Marine Corps connection. I remember the morning that I decided to run my semi-annual Physical Fitness Test on the same day I was due for pistol qualification. My arms weren’t that sore from the pull-ups, but I didn’t feel them until I had to fire those last five rounds on the twenty-five yard line slow fire.

Yes…that kind of Marine Corps connection.

I remember the last half-mile, going back to MAD HQ; I realized that this was the last of all the training I was doing for this year’s MCM. All the early mornings (and late afternoons), all the humidity and cold, and every hill that I climbed this year…it was almost over.

That last half mile, and then the final turn for home, I just took off. Ran fast enough to reach the official sign outside of MAD HQ…and then I got in the car and took off.

I was so focused on getting home to go pee that I completely forgot to get a selfie next to the MAD HQ sign. Instead of taking a few moments to be…y’know…in the moment, I skipped out to go take a potty break. Yipes.

Post script: Just Crack an Egg is a very quick (total 2 minutes prep/1 minute cook time) and very good source of pre-run protein. No water of any kind because I didn’t want to take a No. 2 this morning. Had to take a No. 1 though.

T- Minus 4: Logistics

Just after midnight, Apex Clubhouse

Just got done watching Seattle beat Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference Semifinal. Good game by Seattle, and going to their third conference final in four years. Sad way to go for RSL goalkeeper Nick Raimundo, who won the penalty-shootout for RSL just ten short years ago.

Toronto knocked off NYCFC, converting a last minute penalty kick after drawing the most obvious foul ever in the NY penalty area. Single-game elimination, that’s how it goes, y’all.

I will let the official MLS website break down the matches right here, but for the record, Seattle and Toronto are advancing to the Conference Finals with the same head coaches and core players that got both teams to the MLC Cup Finals in 2016 and 2017.

3:40 p.m. yesterday

Getting ready for the bus so I can pick up the rental car and so some quick shopping. I got a hotel room (at the last minute, NOT recommended) so I have transportation and a hotel room within VERY comfortable walking distance…just a block from the MCM Finisher’s festival, although there is a couple of flights of steps/stairs to navigate.

In reality, I was prepared to do without the hotel room, if there were none available. Plan B would have been:

  1. Stay in Lexington Park for the weekend
  2. Uber to The MCM Runner’s Expo and back. Packet pick-up, shopping at the Expo, lunch in downtown National Harbor, then Uber back home.
  3. Sunday morning: Uber to the MCM Parking Lot (or closest point thereabouts), arriving no later than 6:30 a.m. Check in, run the MCM, chill out at the Finisher’s Festival, then either attempt to get a hotel room or Uber back home.

Plan B would have been much MUCH cheaper (how much? I’m pleading the Fifth).

But it would not have been the same experience.

Song of the Day: Robert Plant/”Big Log”

This is how I feel, near the end of a journey I started way back in February~March. Not exactly from Robert Plant, but from a Genius contributor:

“Truckers in the US comply with driving legislation by filling a log book recording miles and hours drove,
“A Big Log is slang for a long journey, hence lots of time and miles recorded.
“To me, as an ex-trucker, this song is about the call of the road, the next city and the next stop.
“It’s the thoughts that go on in the background of your mind as you punch out the miles on automatic.”


MCM 2019: Crescent-Plus

My smartphone alarm clock went of at 0400 this morning. At 0420, I was dressed and fully prepped with Skin-So0Soft and the first BodyGlide of the season applied to the apropriate regions. At 0445, I was at the hotel lobby, summoning an Uber driver. I got a driver who followed his own path and not the GPS and for me to the georgetown Waterfront Park in record time.

The GWP main building was a half-mile or so from the actual start/finish line of the Capital Crescent Trail, my running trail for this week’s long run. I decided to jog to the start/finish line to warm up my body for the 8 mile run ahead. I had to take a No.1 as I approached the gate in front of the Potomac Boat Club, so I stopped by the convenient Port-a-John and did my business.

I did some research on finding a proper Uber drop-off point for the CCT, only to find info that the main trail was going to be closed down and detoured for a major renovation. I stretched out at a spot just in front of where the actual road to the trail begins. believing that the renovations were already underway, I picked a telephone pole as my start/finish line, then activated my MapMyRun on my phone and took off.

Knowing that the Georgetown point of the run was an uphill climb, I concentrated on keeping an even pace with the intent of picking it up on the return descent. I noticed that MApMyRun gave off my mile splits about a quarter mile ahead of the half-mile and mile markers. I made a note of it and decided to just focus on turning around at the 6 mile marker (what would be my four-mile turnaround point).

The Dellacaria Tunnel was my three mile point, and I made the turn at a bridge that was where my planned four-mile turnaround was. I felt good during the run back to Georgetown, even though my splits were not as consistent or faster than I thought they should be. As I passed the 10 mile marker (what should have been my finish line) I realized that the actual Georgetown endpoint was a half mile from the 10-mile marker. Overall, I ended up running 8.54 miles in 12:02.

The run was an unqualified success (because FINISHING!!!) but I forgot a couple of things. First, I didn’t get any Noun-Water (one Nuun tablet dissolved in a 20-oz. bottle of water) to get a boost for the run, nor did I take my KrampKrusher endurance chew before the run. I did have a “pre-breakfast” of a bottle of water and a Snickers, so I did hydrate and fuel up before the run. Second, I left my white runner’s cap at home, so I had to apply some s Skin So Soft to my  Marine hi-regs haircut. As of 1524 (3:24 PM) EST, I can happily report that my  head and limbs have no new insect bites at this time.

Today was a good run for my current part of the training schedule; at least I know I can run about a third of the Marine Corps Marathon at a 12 minute clip (14 mile pace is recommended for the MCM). I also have not felt any side effects from only doing one gym session this week.

Winning, I guess.


Soccer Saturday: Tottenham Hotspur versus Liverpool

My yearly trip to The Nation’s Capital for the UEFA Champions’ League Final Bar Hunt and subsequent DC United game trip was more or less done on the fly. I was expecting to help a co-worker move in to her new house and celebrate with her Marine son. Unfortunately, she was out all this week and I had no way of contacting her.

Friday about lunch I scanned the Hilton Honors app for hotels with rooms available. The prices were damn near bargains with the first weekend in June, compared to May (college graduations and every high school senior class in America taking a trip to DC). I booked a hotel based on familiarity and price. After getting off work, I hastily packed my bags and called an Uber to take me to DC. The price was relatively inexpensive and my driver was an old friend from work.

I spent the early Saturday morning searching Google Maps for a good place to watch the match. The three closest pubs were Hi-Velocity and Presidents Sports Bar, as well as an Irish pub with a name I cannot recall right now.

I found Presidents after a fashion; Google maps led me to the general location, but the bar I went to was not it. The bar that I entered was not necessarily going to be a “viewing party” place, since they would only offer to turn one TV to the game. I ordered a beer as a courtesy, then discreetly checked my phone for the location of Presidents. It was located in the lobby of a hotel in the adjacent block. I paid for my beer, then slipped out to find the actual location of Presidents. After walking around the entire Marriot’s hotel structure, I found Presidents in the hotel lobby. The atmosphere didn’t say “viewing party,” so I set off in search of High Velocity.

High Velocity was a five minute walk from Presidents, and I walked into a sports bar with many sizes of hi-def big green televisions. The bartenders were friendly, the beer selection was well-done and the food menu was satisfying; I ordered the crab stuffed deviled eggs and a reuben sandwich that was stiffed full of meat between sumptuous rye bread and thousand island dressing. The only thing that was missing was a sizable and noisy contingent of Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur fans. I spent the game with a lone Spurs supporter to my left and a contingent of Liverpool fans in the corner to my right.

None of them sung “You’ll Never Walk Alone” either. Dammit.

The actual game won’t go down as an instant classic. Liverpool was sort of gifted a penalty due to the handball, even though the ball was not kicked as a shot attempt or even a pass. Liverpool did earn that second goal, though, and their goalkeeper made some fine saves to keep Tottenham off the scoreboard.

Tottenham 0, Liverpool 2.

Walk on, walk on…


Soccer Saturday: DC United vs. San Jose Earthquakes

Audi Field is a job well done by the builders and team management, but getting there is NOT half the fun. There are bus lines that run close to the stadium, but most of those stops mean a couple of blocks’ walk to Audi Field. Also, no DC Metro rails to the stadium…which means no easy egress either.

There are also no paper tickets anymore, you have to display them on your Ticketmaster app from your smartphone. If you are a proud owner of a “less than Galaxy or iPhone” phone, this can be a hassle when you try to post your ticket on your phone as you are here’d through the security gates.

DCU did get a great goal to tie the game, but the host Quakes decide to play less than positive football. The Q’s did break up a lot of United passes in the final third of the field and in the 18-yard box, but they also spent too much time playing goons, with a few rough tackles that didn’t earn the ref’s whistles until late in the match.

Lastly, that didn’t fell like seven minutes of injury time, but there was a scuffle during the injury time period, so maybe the refs decided to pull chocks early to prevent a brawl.

Not a very pretty Soccer Saturday…but it beats working.

DC United1, San Jose Earthquakes 1


Song of the Day: I know this getting to be a recurring theme lately, but today YouTube is acting like a little bitch. Are there some serious technical problems, or is YouTube trying to scare us “freeloaders” into being paying subscribers? WTF, is this cable TV now?

Other than the Merseysiders’ “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and “Ferry ‘Cross the Mersey,” no videos…again. Sorry.


MCM 2019: Bike

I had to cancel the planned Ceremonial Run on Memorial Day. The prospect of 20 mile bike ride to the Marine PFT Course on base, running for over a half hour, then another bike ride off base, was just too much for the mind and body too handle.

I overslept on Tuesday and paid for it with a four mile run in the early evening of a 95-plus degree day. I did the iStore4, which starts out with the hilly HWY-5 southern half of Willows Road, then a flat cruise to the iStorage facility after coming down the hill from the Abberly Crest Apartments entrance.

Because I had an event at work, plus my annual evaluations afterwards, I postponed my 2×1600 intervals to the late afternoon. I completed the two sets of 2 1/2 laps around the Navy Physical Readiness Test Course, then hit the bile for the long bike ride home. I scarfed down junk food instead of dinner, then promptly hit the rack around 8:30 p.m. Good Lord I was tired last night.

This morning I hit the circuit cycle for the first time in nearly three weeks. Because of the extended absence, I hit lighter weights for most of the exercises, but it felt good to hit some weights after too long of a layoff.

Provided that Hilton Hotels doesn’t do a bait and switch on the online rates, I am planning to go to DC for my annual UEFA Champions League Weekend. It involves weekend stay at a selected Hilton hotel, a Saturday afternoon at a sports bar that is showing the UEFA CL Final, and then an evening at Audi Field to watch DC United battle the visiting San Jose Earthquakes.

On Sunday morning, I will head to the Capital Crescent Trail for my scheduled 8-mi. run for this week. I really hope it doesn’t rain in DC this weekend because a good part of the trail is heavy forest and marshland, especially in the starting 2~3 miles from Georgetown, where I plan to run.

Sooner or later I will have to make a decision on whether to go to the full-body exercises laid out by the training plan, or just stick with the circuit cycles for the rest of the year. I have not had a chance to look them up, and I think I know how to do them, but I’m not sure. or maybe it’s the whole “exercise until you can’t do any more” part of the training.

God I’m such a lazy bastard.

Song of the Day:

Continuing the Guns N’ Roses Use Your Illusions tribute: I start with “Civil War,” featuring the famous quote from the late Strother Martin in Cool Hand Luke. “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” would make both Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton nod their heads and smile approvingly, as rough around the edges as G n’ R’s version is. If I had to pick one favorite “deep track,” it would be the burning for vengeance of “14 Years;” that song can make an honest preacher/priest fell mean.

Aside from the kick ass music and Axl Rose’srazorblade lyrics, I like how the little additions in “Civil War (Strother)” and “Knockin’ (Axl’s little “voice mail” before the last chorus) set the tone for the songs.

MCM 2019: March Madness

From my “March Madness preview” about ten days ago:

“It has been 37 years since I watched the Braves defat the University of Tulsa 82-79 to clinch the Missouri Valley Conference regular season title. Although they lost the MVC tournament semifinal to archival Illinois State, they did make a run to the 1982 National Invitational title. I was in the stands for the quarterfinal victory over Tulane that put them in the semifinals to be played at New York’s Madison Square Garden. Courtesy of my high school speech therapist I got a chance to work Bradley games my sophomore and junior year (1985 thru 1987).

My beloved Braves have had a long, rough year plagued with issues on scoring points. They have had a brief revival of a four game winning streak, ended abruptly with a 77-68 loss at Drake on Wednesday. Starting today, they have three games left, and sit in a four team jam at 7-8, just outside the top six teams that will receive first round byes in the conference tournament. If Bradley finishes 7th or lower, they will play the dreaded Thursday play-in game, and will need four straight wins to win the tournament and the trip to the Big Dance.

Today the braves host dead-last Evansville, then host Valparaiso, one of the teams that they are tied at 7-8 with. They end the regular season next Saturday at defending champion Loyola of Chicago, Bradley REALLY needs to sweep all three games and get that top-six birth; from there, anything can happen. The Braves did beat Loyola at home earlier this season…if that means anything.”

Sunday, March 10, 4:20 p.m. EST: Bradley 57, Northern Iowa 54.

MVC Tournament Champions for the first time since 1988, and first NCAA bid of any kind since 2006.

I couldn’t pick out any of the current roster out of a police lineup, but I DO know that fourth-year head coach started his Bradley career with a roster of eight freshman. Three of them took the floor in today’s starting lineup.

The game started out like butt for the Braves. They couldn’t shoot field goals, they couldn’t shoot free throws, and they couldn’t defend UNI’s three point shooting. Despite a brief rally, BU trailed the Panthers 27-15 at the half. On merit.

The Braves were down 18 with about 14 1/2 minutes to go, and then they got HOT. The defense made some stops, they Braves shooting got much better, and wouldn’t you know it, they Braves drew a flagrant foul 1…four straight unopposed (no rebounding the miss) and the ball.

“Please, God…please, God…” four times, and four times he made the free throws. The Braves inbounded on the next possession and got the bucket. BU 56, UNI 50. After a nervous final minute plus, two more free throws and a missed Panther three pointer…

…and there you go.

A week ago last Saturday the Braves got rolled at Loyola-Chicago. I stopped watching the game with about ten minutes to go, thinking that the Braves were headed for the Thursday Matinee of Horror. They ended up as the fifth seed with a bye to the quarterfinals. For the record, UNI was the sixth seed, finishing 9-9 and ending 2019 at 16-18…

…and there you go. Anything can happen.

Now that I’ve been back at the gym for about a month, it’s time to really start working out. Here’s my proposed weight increases for the next 30 days:

  1. Leg press: 80 to 100 lbs.
  2. Chest press: 60 to 80 lbs.
  3. Lateral pulldown: 60 to 80 lbs.
  4. Overhead (dumbbell) shoulder press: (2 x 15 lbs.) x 12 reps
  5. Leg extension: 80 to 100 lbs.
  6. Bicep curl (dumbbell): (2 x 15 lbs.) x 12 reps
  7. Leg curl: 80 to 100 lbs.
  8. Abs curl: 100 to 120 lbs.

All of this is subject to me being able to perform 12 repetitions of each exercise, using proper form and technique. My focus is on gradually building a physique that is able to withstand the rigors of training for a marathon. I’m not gonna be the next Arnold, but if my legs can go 26.2 miles without straining my hamstrings, thighs groin, or ligaments, then it’s all good.

I am also lengthening my elliptical time from 32 to 47 minutes, with the goal of burning more calories and helping me get back to my running form. I am thinking first week of April (April 2 to be exact) before I actually hit the road.

I t has been months since I actually hit the scale, and I’m getting ready for another double dose of MLS Soccer with a side of DiGiorno’s Deep Dish pizza for the second game. I’ll probably weigh in before I start my trek to the gym tomorrow morning.

Song of the Day: three random tracks because MLS is stating in about 60 seconds:

Kasabian/”Club Foot:” band named themselves after on of the Symbionese Liberation Army members that kidnapped Patricia Hearst. or was she a member of the Manson family? Good trivia question. This band plays some killer make you wanna jump up and down stuff, tho’.

Led Zeppelin/”Immigrant Song:” “On we sweep with/A threshing oar/Our only goal is the western shore!” Yes I picked this over Kashmir. My blog, my rules.

Iron Maiden/”Run to the Hills:” Bradley University adopted the nom de guerre of “Braves” in reference to the Native American influence on the Peoria area. If I could go to the Braves upcoming NCAA game, I would attend in full “Injun” headdress, war paint, and leather made trousers and moccasins, political correctness and social justice warriors be damned. By the way, I didn’t know there was a seven minute version of this song, unless this version is about two minutes of silence…DAMMITT!!!

Sorry, game’s on…talk to you tomorrow.