2018 Chicago Marathon Race Report

2018 Chicago Marathon

October 7, 2018 / Chicago, Illinois

Time:  3:52:07

Place:  11629 Overall / 8508 Male

 

For my 19th time, I hereby do declare I WILL NEVER RUN ANOTHER MARATHON AGAIN!  This time I MEAN IT!

This Chicago Marathon will definitely go down as one of my most memorable.  The race was my third long distance race this year that was run in the rain.  It brought back memories of Boston last April, cool temps, wind and rain.  This was a light version of Boston though.  The temperature was near 60 degrees instead of 40, and the rain wasn’t pouring.  The wind was only noticeable when running certain directions, and only briefly.  Thankfully, Boston taught me how to manage crappy running weather, but you can never be fully prepared.  And it turns out I’m not sure I was fully prepared for this one.

I was looking forward to running Chicago, as my son was going to be running it as his first marathon.  Notice I didn’t say that we would be running it together.  He’s fast, I’m not.  Well, not as fast as he is anyway.  But I looked forward to sharing that experience together.

Here’s the lowdown on how the Chicago Marathon went for me.

TRAINING

After finishing the Boston Marathon I needed to give my body a break.  I was beat.  I showed up at Boston way overtrained and worn out.  The day after Boston I ended my three year running streak of running at least a mile everyday, and told myself I had to get myself right again.

After a trip to the doctor, I learned what I was kind of assuming, that I had thyroid issues.  Blood tests confirmed it, and now I’m taking a synthetic thyroid medication for the rest of my life.  I had thought that it might change things for me metabolically, but my doctor buddy said not to expect miracles.  He was right.  I really struggled to lose the ten pounds I had gained over the winter and spring.  Eventually, I did drop a few pounds, but nothing like what I had expected.  One positive was that I wasn’t as tired as I had been before, so that is a plus.

In mid-June I began following the same 16-week advanced training plan that I usually use.  I also had been doing some triathlon related training, hoping to throw in a couple of races before the longer mileage weeks started to kick in.  I ended up doing a sprint triathlon in June and the Chicago Triathlon in August.

I was a little nervous about the training after struggling with the Boston training and the race itself, but it actually went pretty well.  The highlight for me was the 20 mile training run I did three weeks out from the race.  I was able to hold my 8 min/mile pace fairly easily through that run and it really gave me a confidence boost.  You can read about it here:  The Dreaded 20 Mile Training Run

 

RACE WEEKEND

I took Friday off and headed to Chicago to attend the expo with Ben and his girl friend Emily.  Every year that I had gone to the expo I would see proud Boston finishers parading around in their Boston Marathon jackets and be somewhat envious.  This year, even though I didn’t really need a jacket, I decided I was going to peacock the hell out my one Boston Marathon finish and sport that damn jacket at the expo.  I wasn’t alone.  I saw numerous Boston 2018 celebration jackets.

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Me, Ben and my jacket heading to meet Emily and go to the expo.

 

We ended up getting there around midday, and man was it crazy!  I had never seen it so crowded before.

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For a minute I thought I was in the corral of the actual race.  This was just the holding area to get in and pick up the race packet.  I had never seen it this bad before.

Ben and I got our bibs and started the trek through the expo.  We ended up spending money on mostly disappointing official Nike marathon gear and other odds and ends.  We caught a glimpse of Deena Kastor and then decided to get out of there.  The expo can be overwhelming after awhile.

Saturday, we all met downtown in the late afternoon and met at our hotel, the Chicago Palmer House Hilton.  The hotel lobby was impressive, the rooms not so much.  It’s location to the race start area was ideal, but a little bit of a hike from the finish.  The Chicago Hilton is a better option for being closer to the finish, but I didn’t book it fast enough and had to settle for the Palmer House.  I will say there were better dining options nearby, and I opted for the Corner Bakery and got some loaded baked potato soup and bread for an evening carb load.  I had already eaten some pasta at home around 1 pm, so I think I had enough carb loading for the day.

Ben and I talked some race day strategy and I laid out my options for what to wear in the race.  I had already kind of chosen the outfit, but I had brought some options in case I changed my mind.

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Only thing not showing is my matching grey with red Hoka Cliftons.

Sleep went well except for a weird moment in the middle of the night where I found myself sweating like crazy.  I got up, used the bathroom, and went back to sleep.  The alarm finally went off, and I got myself ready for the day.

 

RACE MORNING

Ben met me at the room and after some last minute assurances, we decided it was time to head to the corrals.

 

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It wasn’t raining yet, but we wanted to keep warm.

We were advised to go into the corrals by entering into a specific gate based on our corral assignments, but I wasn’t having any of that.  The first and closest gate was at Jackson and we got in line.  Just as we were getting near the inspection point this Chinese guy cuts in front of us.  Then he couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t let him carry in his sling bag because only the clear plastic gear bag was allowed.  Fortunately, they let him put it into his gear bag, which he should have done in the first place.  Off to a great start, but we weren’t done with him yet.  As you pass security, there are event photographers ready to take your pre-race photo, so Ben and I decided to do so.  Just after the guy takes our picture, we realize the guy photobombed us.

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We made an international friend!

I’m smiling in the photo, but I was laughing right after it when I realized he was in the photo too!  Here’s one without Mr. E10796:

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Still laughing about our friend.

Ben and I got to the split where Corrals A and B went one way and C through E went another.  I told him that I loved him and that I was proud of him and that I don’t tell him that enough.  We hugged and I headed straight to the toilets.

Once in the corral I found it pretty empty as I was there pretty early.  So I headed to the front of it to the rope that separates the C corral from D and just hung out.  I used my portable urinal (my nearly empty Gatorade bottle) under my plastic bag three times before the race started which surprised me, as I had used the port-o-lets twice before getting into my corral.  Nerves I guess.  After the anthem the start horn blew and I pulled the plastic garbage bag off and tossed the bag and bottle over the fence, and we started the 7 minute shuffle to the start line.  Ben said he crossed the line within 10 seconds.  It took me 7:18 to cross it.  I gave him a head start.

 

RACE

Start to 5K:  Overall Time:  0:25:12 / Ave. Pace 8:07 min/mile

I started off well and felt pretty strong, although my first split was about 8:15 min/mile which surprised me a little.  It is hard to concentrate on pace right at the start because we are still packed tight a little, and you spend more time getting through the field than thinking about pace.  It was in that first half mile that my Garmin lost track of me as we were under Randolph Street and Wacker Drive and put my split a couple of tenths off at each subsequent mile marker.  Ben was going to hit his lap button every mile, but I’m done with that business.  I had decided I was warm enough without my homemade tube sock arm warmers and stuck them in my shorts in case I needed them again.

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Ben (in blue) coming thru the 4K area where our cheer crew was waiting.

Our Cheer Crew was amazing.  Kari and Rebecca, along with our friends Jeff and Jill were there, plus Emily and a couple of Ben’s running buddies from Loras College braved the wet day to cheer us on.  Although I had told Kari to stick with Ben, I saw Jeff and Jill up through the half way point, and then Jeff at a few other spots.  Seeing everyone was always a big pick-me-up.

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Me greeting the Cheer Crew.  

 

5K to 10K:  Overall time:  0:49:03 / 5K Split:  0:24:31 / Ave. Pace 7:54 min/mile

It was raining pretty steady now but I wasn’t cold really.  I managed to get my pace under 8 minute miles and was feeling good.  Nothing out of the ordinary through here, just still going north.

 

10K to 15K:  Overall time:  1:14:29 / 5K Split:  0:24:27 / Ave. Pace 7:59 min/mile

Miles 6 through 9 really had nothing remarkable about them.  Right about the 10K mark the 3:25 pace group went by me and I took note of that.  I usually see an Elvis impersonator through this stretch, but I’m guessing that he wasn’t into the rain this year. I did start to sense I was getting a blister on my left pinky toe from my shoes being soaked.  That was a little surprising because I had lubed up my toes very well.  Kept my average pace near 8 min/miles.

 

15K to 20K:  Overall time:  1:39:55 / 5K Split:  0:25:26 / Ave. Pace 8:11 min/mile

As I neared the halfway point, I started to tell I was slowing a little.  The effort was getting harder even though I was on top of my nutrition plan.  I felt okay, but that would change as I passed the halfway point.

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Wet, but still content.  (This photo won’t stay center justified for some reason!)

 

Halfway:   Overall Time:  1:45:42 / Ave. Pace 8:29 min/mile

I hit the halfway and felt not so great.  I was only 45 seconds over my intended split of 1:45:00 for the half, but I knew that I was losing it.  My average pace dropped from 8 to 8:30 min/mile and I really didn’t see how I was going to maintain it.

 

Halfway to 25K:  Overall Time:  2:06:32 / Split:  0:20:51 / Ave. Pace 8:36 min/mile

At the 14 mile area I saw Jeff and Jill and said I wasn’t feeling good any longer.  It seemed like I was being drained of my energy.  We had just passed a couple little inclines downtown, but I don’t think that was a factor.  I was starting to realize that this was going to be a get to the finish line in one piece marathon for me.  My time goal of 3:30 was slipping away.

 

25K to 30K:  Overall Time:  2:34:01 / 5K Split:  0:27:30 / Ave. Pace 8:51 min/mile

I generally call this section the Dead Zone and it was no different this year.  It’s mainly just runners along this portion as it is the farthest west part of the course.  I will say though, that I expected the rain to drive away the crowds this year and in reality, the course was pretty populated with cheering fans.  My time is creeping closer to the 9 min/mile average.

 

30K to 35K:  Overall Time:  3:03:47 / 5K Split:  0:29:46 / Ave. Pace 9:35 min/mile

Running through Pilsen and Chinatown are highlights of the race usually, but not this time.  I just wanted to get past the 20 mile mark and know I had 10K to go.  It was in this section that the 3:30 pace group passed me by like I was standing still.  I was resigned that my goal of finishing 3:30 was gone, and I also knew that being sub-3:35 for a Boston Marathon qualifier was pretty much out the door.  I was a just finisher now.

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Mile 21 – Chinatown

 

35K to 40K:  Overall Time:  3:37:22 / 5K Split:  0:33:35 / Ave. Pace 10:49 min/mile

Hello 3:35 pace group.  Goodbye 3:35 pace group.  I was walking the aid stations now and willing myself to keep moving forward.  In 2016 I was passing these zombies, this year I was one of the un-dead.  Along this section I did get a pick-me-up though – I saw the guy that is always at Ironman Wisconsin on Old Sauk Pass wearing the orange afro-wig.  He was cheering us on here as well.  I stopped and said hello to him because we spent some time with him on that course cheering for Jeff and his sister Jan.

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I wish I had a good side, but sadly I don’t.  This definitely isn’t it.  I feel bad for E8772, having my dumb ass in his photo.  

 

40K to the Finish:  Overall time:  3:52:07 / Split 0:14:46 / Ave. Pace 10:50 min/mile

I saw Kari and Rebecca waiting for me after the 25 mile mark and I stopped to say hello.  Not much longer and I would be done.

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Saw Kari and Rebecca and I headed to their side of Michigan Avenue.  

I started to press forward and make it up Roosevelt Road and head to the finish.  As I was climbing Mount Roosevelt as we marathoners call it, a volunteer said to “Fight up the hill!”  I told her I was a lover not a fighter.  She laughed and then I heard her yell, “then Love up that hill!”

As I headed toward the finish I heard my name get called out from the stands.  I turned to look and saw Calvin Jordan, a fellow runner from New Lenox that I had met this fall.  I made a beeline over to him and said hello.  I think he thought I was nuts not sprinting for the finish, but I was glad to end the run with a friendly face and hello.

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Wrapping it up.  
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Finally done with 26.2 miles.  

 

Conclusion

The goal for me was to take advantage of a 10 minute Boston qualifying cushion that I would receive just by turning 55 years old.  But in September, the BAA decided to reduce the qualifying times by 5 minutes.  So I went from needing a 3:40 marathon to 3:35, which didn’t seem to be out of the possibility for me seeing that I had ran a 3:25 in 2016.  But this just wasn’t my year.  I wanted to join Ben and Emily in Boston in 2020, but instead of being in the field, I will happily go to be a spectator.

I think my main issue this year was volume, and essentially too much of it for a guy in his mid-fifties.  When I finished Boston in April, my body was beat.  Everything hurt.  So I dropped the 3+ year running streak I had and worked on rebuilding myself.  I was really feeling pretty good again come summer, and when I did my 20 mile training run in late September, I held that 8 min/mile pace well.  Just wasn’t my year this year.

But I must say I’m very proud of my 3:52:07 finish.  Being sub-4 hours is always pretty cool.

 

Ben made me very proud.  He crushed his first marathon in 2:47:11!  After the race he seemed like it was just another day of running to him!  Not tired at all.  The next day I went out and got my Chicago Tribune and saw that he was in the banner photo at the top!

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I also found this photo of him online.  Not sure where that hard left turn is, but seeing that the field is pretty spread out and the sparse crowd, I’m guessing toward the latter part of the race.  It could be up near mile 8 though.  

 

We wrapped up race day back at the Corner Bakery with some hot soup and then headed for home.

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The Trump Tower was off to the left of me and I was trying to pull Ben over to get the sign in the photo, but he wasn’t having any of that!  Proud dad with his running boy!

 

 

 

Memories Of A Now Gone Park

Yesterday I was on an after dinner walk with my wife Kari, and daughters Ashley and Rebecca.  As we wound our way back through the neighborhood, I headed toward the park to deposit some of the trash I had picked up on the walk in the trash bin adjacent to the playground.  I saw the swings and couldn’t resist.  I hopped on one and began swinging.  The girls soon joined in, with Rebecca also swinging, Ashley opting to walk on the balance beam and with Kari heading for the main play set.  I followed Kari on the bouncy bridge, across the pedestal bridge, and back on to the wobbly bridge that lead to the corkscrew pole, in which, of course, I had to spin down.

The memories of taking the kids to this park when they were young came flooding back.  Having to hold hands as they made it across the wobbly bridge; lifting Ben up to the monkey bars to help him get around; giving ‘underdogs’ to all three of them on the swings; to even our dog Lucky, teaching him how to climb the steps to take a trip down the slide.  We maybe spent five minutes playing around before heading home.

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2009 – Ashley on the playground
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2009 – Rebecca on the springy dinosaur we naturally called Barney

Today I started my noontime run, which takes me past that very same park, and I was shocked to discover it was gone.  All of the equipment removed.

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2018 – No more park

It was surreal to me.  The park was now surrounded by some plastic caution tape, acting as a barrier to keep others away.  But it was almost like crime scene tape to me – someone had stolen the park that had generated all those memories that we had just recalled.  For the next 7 miles, I thought only about that park and the times I spent there with the kids.

I’m sure the park district has plans to replace the park with newer equipment, equipment that will be just as much fun to the kids of today as the old stuff was to my kids.  But the memories of playing at our park, will now just be what we have stored in our minds, with no physical equipment to hop on to rekindle those memories.

I am glad I made that stop at the park last night.  It was like being drawn there to say goodbye to an old friend, without even knowing they were leaving.  I wish I had more pictures to remember it by.

Live Classic Rock Songs That Are Better Than The Studio Versions

I was listening to Classic Vinyl on SiriusXM radio in the car the other day when they played the original studio version of Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band’s Turn the Page, and it didn’t seem right.  It sounded different in my ear, as I was used to the live version of the song.  That got me thinking about live versions of rock songs that are much better than the original studio version.  Songs that if the radio DJ was going to play that one specific song, he or she would grab the live version over the studio version every time.

Not sure what propelled the popularity of live albums during the 1970’s.  You don’t see them being as popular in later decades.  Live music and concerts were growing to huge proportions in the 70’s.  It may have been a money grab from the record label, but I’m just guessing.

So here are a few of the songs I could easily think of that the live version outshone the studio version, maybe not on the charts, but definitely were played more on the radio.

 

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BOB SEGER & THE SILVER BULLET BAND – Turn The Page:  Live Bullet (1976) – I’ll start with this song as it was what made me ponder this in the first place.  Apparently the song was never released as a single, but it got lots of airplay on FM radio in the 1970’s.  The original song was recorded in 1972.  Not only did Turn The Page live fare better than the studio version, the songs Travelin’ Man/Beautiful Loser, and Katmandu also are songs that you only heard the live versions on the radio, not the studio versions.

 

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KISS – Rock and Roll All Nite:  Alive! (1975) – Originally appeared in studio form on 1975’s Dressed to Kill album, but the KISS ALIVE! album version is what was played on the radio.  Gene Simmons sang the song, but I think it’s Paul Stanley shouting “I CAN’T HEAR YOU,” “C’MON” and “WHAT?!” which are classic and intergral parts of the song.  12 year old me wore this album out.  The live version made it to #12 on the Billboard charts in 1976.

 

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Paul McCartney & Wings – Maybe I’m Amazed:  Wings Over America (1976) –  Paul McCartney wrote this song in 1970 and dedicated it to his wife Linda, in an effort to heal after the Beatles break up.  After forming the band Wings, they released a triple live album, and it reached number 10 on the singles charts.  The drumming on this live version really stands out.  Can you ever recall hearing the studio version?

 

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Lynyrd Skynyrd – Free Bird:  One More From The Road (1976) – Another live album from 1976, and this won’t be the last on this list.  This one is a little bit of a cheat, as the original studio version did just fine on it’s own.  Matter of fact, the studio version hit number 19 on the charts in 1974, with the live version making it to number 38.  But in all actuality, “What song is it you wanna hear?”  The live version answers that question.  “FREE BIRD!!!”

 

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Jackson Browne – Running On Empty:  Running On Empty (1978) – I had this album on cassette and it popped into my mind for this post, but I was very surprised to learn that it was never released as a studio version.  They recorded this one live and released it as a single, which reached #11 on the charts.  The Load Out was also was released as a single and hit #20.  But radio generally plays the two songs The Load Out/Stay together.  So I guess the live version can easily be better than the studio version if the studio version never existed.  Honorable mention to this one.

 

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Cheap Trick – I Want You to Want Me:  Cheap Trick at Budokon (1978) – Two songs stand out on this album, I Want You to Want Me, and Surrender.  I Want You to Want Me was originally released in 1977, it didn’t even chart.  Was Cheap Trick even known until at Budokon came out?  I certainly had never heard of them.  The song went to #1 in Japan, no surprise there.  But it also hit #7 in the USA.  Surrender did well on it’s own, as the studio version hit #62, and was not released as a live single from what I can tell.  The studio version of Surrender stands on it’s own and didn’t need the live version to bolster it.  What is interesting about I Want You to Want Me is how Robin Zander introduces it, in a very clear spoken English so that the Japanese audience could understand.  I crack up every time I hear it.

 

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Peter Frampton – Show Me The Way:  Frampton Comes Alive! (1976) – Easily the greatest live album ever released.  It was the best selling album of 1976.  And it held the top spot on the album charts for 10 weeks.  I’m slightly embarrassed to admit, I never owned this album.  But you couldn’t escape it anyway.  The song was one of three singles released from the live album, joining Baby, I Love Your Way, and Do You Feel Like We Do.  Show Me The Way hit #6 on the charts, and did slightly better than the other two.  I’ve seen Peter two times now, both in good old New Lenox, Illinois, where I grew up.  Incredible guitarist.  I don’t believe I have ever heard the studio version of any of Frampton’s songs.

 

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REO Speedwagon – Ridin’ The Storm Out:  You Get What You Play For (1977) – Ridin’ The Storm Out hit #94 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.  The original version appears on their third album, also called Ridin’ The Storm Out, but here’s the odd part – Kevin Cronin doesn’t sing the original version, a guy named Mike Murphy does.  Cronin left the band due to “creative differences.”  But he does in fact rejoin the band to lead them to greatness, and still is leading them today.  Kevin introduces the song by yelling “LAST SONG PEOPLE!”  And on that note, I will make this the last song on this list.

 

 

 

Dad To The Rescue

I spent this Father’s Day in my typical fashion, goofing around doing my typical stuff. I enjoyed a nice bike ride with Kari and spent some time swimming on a very hot day. The extended family appeared and more swimming and good food and talk was enjoyed.

At one point in the conversation we talked about the need to purge some of the junk in our house, and I admitted that I was the hoarder in the family. “But I’m a neat hoarder!” I exclaimed, and the wife agreed.

After dinner everyone was getting ready to leave for home. I noticed that Ben’s car had a brake light out. I thought I had a spare, so I attempted to fix it. It turned out I had a different bulb than what he needed, but I remembered that my mom had this old cabinet thing with a bunch little odds and ends in it. Sure enough, the bulb we needed was in there. My mom had saved the bulb, and I had saved the cabinet full of junk. We swapped out the bulb and off Ben drove.

I had barely got my tools put away when Ben pulled back into the driveway. I could see that his front tire was flat.

We pulled the tire and I couldn’t see any nails or punctures anywhere. I filled it with air and pushed it around the back to the pool to check for leaks. The problem became apparent immediately, the vavle stem was leaking.

That could have been a problem, but thankfully I had a tool – a tool that was my Dad’s that I had kept. It’s probably been in my possession at least 40 years or so. A simple little device to remove and install a valve stem core. Hoarder? – pffft. Please.

I tightened the valve stem and tested it again and it was still leaking. The valve stem core must be bad, no longer holding air. That’s a problem, because I knew that I didn’t have any extra valve stem cores laying around. I may be a hoarder, but I’m not crazy.

But wait! The tool itself was just a cap on an old valve stem, and the valve stem itself probably had a core in it. Sure enough, I pulled it out and was kind of shocked to see that valve stem cores had not been reengineered in 40 years. I put the old one in and surprisingly it no longer leaked. Fixed!

So on Father’s Day, I was able to save my son’s day, thanks to my dad leaving behind a simple tool for us to use nearly four decades later. Dad to the rescue for sure.

Happy Father’s Day!

RIP Running Streak

 

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My running streak is over.  Three years, three months, and 16 days.  At least a mile run every day since January 1, 2015.  6116 total miles of running over 1202 days.  It was a challenge, I was glad to have kept at it.  It made me a better runner, at least for a while.  It overstayed its welcome.  Now it’s time to move on.

The running streak kind of started by accident.  New Year’s Day is usually a day of laying around, watching the Rose Parade (a parade I marched in in 1982!), and spending time with the family.  But I ran on January 1, and then again on the second, and then by the fifth day I realized what I had started.  Then it became a challenge to see if I could run every day for at least year, and it seemed like a fun thing to try.  Most runners who attempt a running streak (AKA – “streakers”) follow the basic self-administered rule that you have to run at least a mile every day to have an active streak.  Since I felt that I could easily do a mile, I made my goal to run at least two miles a day.  That lasted until fall of that first year when I got some sort of stomach bug that knocked me out.  After spending most of the day trying to retain fluids and bring my fever down, I felt good enough to head downstairs to the treadmill and attempt to keep my streak alive.  I ended up jogging a mile, and it about did me in.  So even though I couldn’t keep the two mile goal going, I still maintained a running streak.  That was the only time in which not feeling well almost ended the streak.  There were a couple of times when a pulled muscle during a run almost ended the streak, but I was able to hobble through it.

The other challenges to keeping the streak alive were after a handful of big events.  When I ran the Chicago Marathon in 2015, I was more worried about doing the day after mile than I was running the marathon.  Same thing for the 2016 Chicago Marathon.  The day after completing Ironman Lake Placid in 2016 was a challenge.  My wife and I drove to Cooperstown, NY the day after, and upon getting there after a two hour car ride, we chose to walk around the Baseball Hall of Fame.  After the walk back to our bed & breakfast, I attempted my mile.  It was rough, but I got it done.  Interestingly enough, after completing Ironman Louisville in 2017, the long car ride home from Louisville and the race before didn’t have much of a negative effect.  I think I could have run 3 miles that day.

But after completing the Boston Marathon in 2018, I was sore.  I had shown up with symptoms that were clearly signs of being overtrained.  My feet were always sore.  I had developed a knee issue that forced me to dial back the training.  And my overall mile pace had diminished significantly.  The sub-8 min/mile pace that I comfortably ran at the 2016 Chicago Marathon was not even a possibility without really pushing myself into a higher heart rate zone.  I knew that upon getting to the Boston Marathon, I was going to be lucky to manage an 8:45 min/mile pace.  Boston is a net downhill course, and it tore me up.  I was really sore in my legs, so the decision to drop the running streak was pretty much made for me.  I could keep the streak going, but continue to have soreness, not see any gains in running efficiency, and jeopardize the other racing I wanted to do in 2018 just didn’t make much sense.  In the words of my buddy John, who taunted me occasionally, it was time to “let it go.”

The Annual Totals

2015 – 365 days – 2112 total miles run

2016 – 366 days (leap year) – 1824 total miles run

2017 – 365 days – 1682 total miles run

2018 – 106 days (ending with the Boston Marathon) – 498 total miles run

What were the negatives?

Training for an Ironman requires a smart plan, and I was following up non-run workouts with a one mile run.  It added an extra workload to an already tough training regimen.  It also added leg work on rest days that followed tough workouts.  Mentally it drained me, having to swim or bike and then do a run afterward.  Somedays, like Thursday would normally be a swim/bike workout day, and then I would also have to do a run, making it a mini homemade triathlon.

After completing the third year, I was getting pretty sore and tired.  My foot started to hurt most of the time, exhibiting a kind of plantar fasciitis-type symptoms.  Then my right knee started to hurt, really right below it on the top of the tibia.  As I got into my 16 week Boston Marathon plan, I had to take a couple of recovery weeks, which forced me to reduce my overall weekend long runs by about 4 miles each week.  The week of my plan that called for a 22 mile run before tapering for 3 weeks I only ran 18 miles, and I couldn’t hold my marathon race pace very well.  I was laboring.  I made it to Boston, but I was sore and knew I was just there to finish.  Boston 2018 was tough for many reasons, but my Boston Marathon time of 4:10 was 5 minutes slower than my Ironman Louisville marathon split of 4:05.  The proof is in the numbers.

Lastly, I had to plan a way to run on days when skipping it would have been nice.  We were up at our home in upper Wisconsin over Christmas and I had to get in several runs in sub-zero and single digit degree weather.  It was not fun.  Any trip anywhere meant also bringing the running gear and doing at least a mile.  I got through it, but some days it just wasn’t easy.

Was it worth doing?

When I started the running streak I really had no goal with it other than to last a year.  I mentioned the streak to my son Ben, a D-III college runner who mentioned that it might be beneficial to me.  He then added that it may not be apparent until year two, though.  Interesting.  There was a little bit of adjusting to the streak at first, both mentally and physically.  I didn’t really feel any different or notice any huge leaps in performance in the first year, with one exception – I got my first Boston Marathon qualifier at the Chicago Marathon in October 2015.  I basically got a personal best by about 10 minutes.  That was significant.

By year two in 2016, I had two big races on the calendar:  Ironman Lake Placid in July and the Chicago Marathon in October.  By this time I was really reaping the benefits of the running streak.  Running every day meant also doing the run after a swim or bike.  And since I liked to knock out my workouts in succession, running on days after a bike meant doing a lot of brick workouts.  And brick workouts build a strong ability to run after a hard bike effort.  Triathletes will often complain about having dead legs or legs of stone when trying to run after getting off the bike.  It didn’t take long for me to not notice that at all.  I actually felt pretty good when I started a run after a bike workout.

Doing well at IM Lake Placid also meant that the cross training involved with triathlon was also going to benefit me in the marathon in October.  When I finally ran Chicago in October, I was feeling strong and ready.  I lowered that marathon personal best by another couple of minutes, not only re-qualifying for Boston, but also making the cutoff easily.  The second year of the running streak got me to Boston.  Ben was right.

During the third year, I kept the running streak going and felt great as I got closer to Ironman Louisville in October 2017.  Louisville has had a reputation as being one of the tougher North American courses, but that was mainly due to the fact it was in held in the August heat, and the rolling hills that never end on the bike course.  Since it had been moved to mid-October, the heat wasn’t really an issue.  The weather did play a role the day of the 2017 race, but it really didn’t effect me negatively.  I set a personal best at Louisville in all three disciplines and overall.  I had a great swim, a pretty decent bike, and a run in which I almost went sub-4 hours.  Damn toilet breaks!

Conclusion

I decided a day or two before running Boston that I thought I would drop the streak after the race.  The race did take a toll on me.  Running a down hill marathon really tears up your quads, and around Mile 22 or so I remembered thinking that I really couldn’t feel my legs anymore.  Most of it was due to the 40 degree temps and all day driving rain and wind.  But after limping it home from the finish line, I kind of knew that I had had enough.  There was nothing left to prove.  The streak helped me get to the Boston Marathon, and I am forever grateful for that.

It’s been 9 days since I finished the marathon, and I have run a total of four times.  I have done a little biking just to do something different, but I have tried not to overexert myself.

I thought I would miss not running every day, but I am surprisingly enjoying the time off.  I’m looking forward to getting some rest and rebuilding my running without the pressure of keeping a streak alive.  At 54, it’s not like I was going to set a Guinness World Record for most consecutive days running.  One of the longest streaks lasted 52 years.  I’d have to live a very long time to be able to do that.  Had I started the streak in 1989 when I started keeping track of my running, I might have had a shot.  But I wasn’t as crazy then as I am now, I guess.

RIP Running Streak, it was a good run.

Further info on running streaks:  http://www.runeveryday.com/streaks.html

 

Confessions of an Un-peaceful Peaceful Sleeper

Last night I was enjoying a really deep sleep.  Honestly, most nights I enjoy a really deep sleep.  Now, you might ask how does one actually “enjoy” a deep sleep?  Well, I’m not sure really, but when the bedquake hit, it jolted me from the deep sleep I was enjoying and I was now no longer enjoying it!  A bedquake?  What’s a bedquake?

A bedquake is something my wife Kari has invented in order to prevent me from having a really deep sleep.  It’s a tactic she resorts to when the foot rub on my calf doesn’t work.  The foot rub on the calf is only good to disrupt my sleep if I’m not that deep into it.  One night I was just dozing off and could feel this strange calf massage thing going on.  I thought, “huh, that’s strange,” and just rolled over and went back to sleep. But if I’m in full REM, she goes nuclear and employs the bedquake.

Now since I am asleep I’m a little fuzzy on the details of how she carries out the bedquake, but what I can surmise from the brief few disoriented nanoseconds of awakening, is that maybe she is doing some jumping up and down on the bed, or possibly standing next to the bed and shaking it hard and then jumping back in just before it awakens me, like nothing was going on.  She’s somewhat subversive about it, just wanting to disrupt my sleep enough to get the results she’s looking for.  She thinks I don’t know about these two tactics, but I’m starting to see the big picture.

Now, you might ask why the hell is she doing this?!  It’s simple really.  I’m enjoying a really deep sleep and she is not.  And the reason she’s not – apparently I am a snorer.

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The Bedquake – Kari’s version of “Wake up and go to sleep.”

The best of wake up and go to sleep – A link to ten great seconds of the Three Stooges

I say “apparently” I am a snorer, because it’s very difficult to realize you are a snorer while being asleep.  But I am told I snore by Kari.  And the kids.  Sometimes during a nap I will wake up suddenly, like I was actually awoken by a loud noise.  I’m starting to think that I might actually be a snorer.  But being a denier is easier.  Okay, I snore.  Big deal.  I admit it, even with circumstantial evidence, I admit it.  But I don’t want to admit it because the implication is that there is something wrong with me for being a snorer.

I sleep pretty soundly, but I find that I sleep most soundly on my back.  Years ago I saw a report on back pain and how sleeping on your stomach would lead to back aches.  Since I had back pain, I switched.  And I have been a back sleeper ever since.  And I don’t move.  I’m like that scene in the movie Psycho where they show the bed where mother “sleeps.”  My side of the bed is starting to get a channel in it as well.

psycho_mother_bed
Mother was apparently a side sleeper.

But I usually start on my side, and that will generally last until I’m about to be out.  Kari prefers the “on the side” sleeping me, because that is the non-snoring me.  Apparently there is a link to my sleeping on my back and snoring.  Side sleeping me = no snoring.  Back sleeping me = OMG!  TIME TO EMPLOY THE BEDQUAKE!

Snoring can be caused by several things, all of which I categorically deny having.  I’m not obese, I don’t smoke, drink or take drugs, nor am I pregnant (I looked up reasons for snoring and it was there).  Sleep apnea?  I looked at the symptoms of that too and none of them apply to me, at least the awake me.  Even if I did have sleep apnea, there’s no way I’m wearing that dumb mask thing.  No way.  I do go to bed with some nasal congestion.  Maybe I should look into a decongestant prior to bed, or a nasal spray or something.

I really think the issue lies with the jaw.  Try making a snoring sound, then move your lower jaw forward and try to make a snoring sound.  Can’t do it, can you?  When I’m sleeping on my back, my jaw naturally relaxes and gets into a position that promotes snoring.  That’s my thinking, and I’m sticking with it.

So last night I was having this dream, I don’t even remember what it was about, but it was building in intensity and then the bedquake hit.  For a moment I thought that maybe the dream was what jolted me awake, because I hate being unsettled by dreams.  But as I lay there in the brief moment of being suddenly awakened, I started to piece it together.  The bedquake was employed.  And maybe it was because I was snoring.  I was probably snoring.  OKAY, I WAS SNORING!  I’m an un-peaceful, peaceful sleeper.  I guess I better get used to bedquakes.

zzzzz – foot/calf rub

ZZZZZ – BEDQUAKE!!!

 

 

Ranking the Rock Group Names of RnR HOF Inductees

Okay, I’m bored.  My training is over for the season, and it’s raining outside.  I was running on the treadmill, listening to my shuffled music playlist and thinking about the names of the bands that I was listening to:  Judas Priest.  The Babys.  Foreigner.  So I started thinking which names were just bad and which names were bad ass.  Then I thought there are too many names out there to list, so I decided to rank the names of the groups that have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Although I did give a pass to a couple of bands with proper names, I immediately dismissed singular artists and those who went by their names from this list.  Although the Jimi Hendrix Experience might be one of the most bad ass names out there, I am choosing not to use proper names.  These bands didn’t choose the name, it was given and they probably couldn’t think of a cool name on their own, or they had the “all about me” attitude.  So forget Elton John, Billy Joel, and Bruce Springsteen.  It’s my list, go make your own.  I also omitted back up bands that were second to the main star, such as The Comets, The Crickets, and The Four Seasons.

I ranked them not by how musical they are, or how much I like the band.  If that was the case the list would be 1. Rush, 2. Styx (not in the HoF, I know.  They’re in mine.) – but more about how I feel the name conveys the spirit of the group.  I have tried to include an explanation of the name, which can make their ranking better or worse in some cases.  Special consideration is given to how rock and roll the name is.  And mostly if it really is bad ass.  

Remember, this isn’t about the band or their music – just their names.  This might be the most useless list of all time.   I probably wasted five hours on this dumb list.  I had fun with it though.

 

 

FROM WORST TO BEST – MY RANKING OF ROCK AND ROLL GROUP NAMES FROM GROUPS INDUCTED INTO THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME 

 

Now for the really bad.  The Worst Name Goes to…

85 – THE STOOGES – Year after year my favorite band Rush was passed over, and these guys get in way before them?!  I can’t even think of a single song that these dopes even sang.  They do absolutely nothing for me, and the fact that it sounds like they ripped off the name from the Three Stooges really pisses me off!  WORST NAME ON MY LIST, BOYS.  P.S. YOU SUCK!

84 – N.W.A. – W.T.F.?  Not rock and roll.  Hate the genre, hate the name, hate the fact they are in the HoF.

83 – THE MOONGLOWS – Never heard of them, typical 1950’s era singing group name.  At least they aren’t N.W.A.

82 – THE BLUE CAPS – I never heard of these guys either, but I have learned that a whole lot of awesome musicians were inspired by this early rock and roll back up band.  The name is a bottom feeder.

81 – THE FAMOUS FLAMES – Never heard of them.  Have you heard of James Brown?  He got his start here.

80 – THE FLAMINGOS – Inspired by flamingos, apparently.  I’m uninspired.

79 – THE DELLS – Not sure of the origin of the name, but the band hailed from Harvey, Illinois.

78 – THE RONETTES – “Ette” anything is uninspiring.  Inspired Eddie Money, though.

77 – THE SHIRELLES – Shirley = Shirelles.

76 – RUN-DMC – Again, not rock and roll.  Just nicknames.

75 – THE COASTERS – The story is they went from coast to coast.

74 – THE IMPRESSIONS – Sorry, they never left one on me.

73 – THE COMETS – These guys produced the music for Bill Haley, who took all the credit.  Not sure why the RnR HoF gave them their own induction.

72 – THE CRICKETS – Buddy Holly’s band.  Named for the insect that seems to them to be the most musical.  I guess they carried on without Buddy.

71 – SEX PISTOLS – Okay, I’m not going to even look this one up.  I don’t want to know.  Very punk rock though.  I should probably rank them higher, but screw punk rock.

70 – TRAFFIC – They got the idea from watching cars drive by.  Boring activity, boring name.

69 – LOVIN’ SPOONFUL – A nod to heroin?!  Yikes.  In reality, it came from a song lyric by some guy named John Hurt.  Do you believe in magic?

68 – THE HOLLIES – Must have thought the world of Buddy Holly.  A lot of those in the HoF did.

67 – THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS – Folkies, whom I would have guessed the Mamas portion of the name came from Mama Cass.  But I guess the Hell’s Angels referred to their female companions as “mamas.”  Why they would honor that, who knows.

66 – JACKSON 5 – They were the Jackson’s and there was five of them.  One was named Michael, I believe.

65 – THE YARDBIRDS – I would have guessed they added “yard” to the “birds” to differentiate themselves from The Byrds, but I guess it referred to hobos hanging out along the rail yard.  That little fact alone moves it up a little higher on the chart for me.

64 – THE VENTURES – Suggested by one of the band member’s mother.  Negative points for that, dudes.  Hawaii 5-0 is legendary though.

63 – THE BAND – When Dylan switched to electric guitar, it pissed off the critics.  The Band worked with Dylan at that time and apparently the band known as “The Hawks” were snubbed by the critics, referring to them as just “the band.”  Uninspiring name, but they have their devotees.

62 – U2 – Most assume it has to do the spy plane, but apparently Bono says it was about interacting with the audience, as in “you too.”  Okay, Bono.

61 – THE POLICE – I couldn’t confirm this, but apparently Stewart Copeland’s dad was in the CIA, and he suggested the name. Great band, boring name.

60 – THE BEACH BOYS – These California boys were supposed to be the embodiment of the beach lifestyle.  In reality, none of them knew how to surf.  But they nailed the culture for sure.

59 – THE O’JAYS – Named themselves after a popular Cleveland disc jockey.

58 – THE PLATTERS – The name defines the 50’s era groups.

57 – THE DRIFTERS – Apparently, a lot of members drifted in and out of this band.

56 – RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS – They’re red, they’re hot, yada yada yada.

55 – THE (YOUNG) RASCALS – They wanted to be called “The Rascals” but another group called “Harmonica Rascals” said to stop it, so their manager added the “Young” part.  I wonder whatever happened to the “Harmonica Rascals?”  Actually, I don’t care.

54 – PARLIMENT FUNKADELIC – Basically a combo of two groups, but I don’t care where the name comes from, the name fits the band.

53 – ABBA – The name comes from the first initials of each of the band members:  Agnetha, Benny, Bjorn, and Anni-Frid.  Is it Ah-baa, or AB-a?  I’ll never get it right.

52 – GREEN DAY – Pot plays a roll in this one.  No kidding.  Originally they called themselves “Sweet Children.”  Green Day is a reference to Billie Joe’s first pot experience.  Okay.

51 – THE SMALL FACES/FACES – We have small faces, lets go with that!

50 – THE DOORS – Typical of 1960’s era bands, it seems like they just said “Hey, there’s a door! Let’s roll with that.”  But actually it came from a book called “The Doors of Perception,” which had some sort of trippy meaning.  Far out, man.

49 – CREAM – They considered themselves the cream of the crop.  I guess.

48 – NIRVANA – “I wanted a name that was kind of beautiful or nice and pretty instead of a mean, raunchy punk name like the Angry Samoans.”  – Kurt Cobain.  Talk about taking people by surprise.

47 – TALKING HEADS – A friend of Tina Weymouth’s suggested the name.

 

The names are getting a little better…

46 – EAGLES – In Steve Martin’s biography he mentions that Glen Frey (I think) was a friend and was starting a band called “Eagles.”  Steve questions it and inquires if he means “The Eagles”.  Frey was adamant about it just being Eagles.  I’m with Steve.

45 – BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD – Took the name from a steam roller parked on a roadway.

44 – R.E.M. – They had some really bad name ideas prior to Stipe randomly picking the name from a dictionary.  Thank god.  Previous suggestions of “Can of Piss” and “Negro Wives” probably were not in their best interests.

43 – BEASTIE BOYS – My thoughts on the Rock and Roll HoF are that it should only include true rock and roll artists, but that line isn’t clear cut anymore.  And even though I kind of dismissed this band as being rap-crap, it’s rap-crap with a rock and roll attitude.

42 – ALICE COOPER – Wait a minute!  I know I said no proper names!  But who we all assume to be Alice was really Vincent Furnier.  Originally they called themselves the Spiders, but decided to change their name from something obvious to something a little more “old lady-ish” to have more shock value, according to Vincent – oops, I mean Alice.

41 – BLONDIE – Pretty obvious that the name comes from Deborah Harry’s bleached out hair. Got into the HoF on the strength of what, two songs?  Gimme a break.

40 – GUNS N’ ROSES – Shouldn’t it be Guns ‘n’ Roses?  I always heard it was a combo of the names of L.A. Guns Tracii Guns and Axl Rose’s names.  This is a band that makes me immediately change the radio station.  I’m not sure why.  I bought the first album and liked it.  Just got sick of it.  But the name defines the hard rocking Hair Band era.

39 – PUBLIC ENEMY – Again, not a fan of non-rock and roll.  But a pretty good name.

38 – CHICAGO – These guys went from calling themselves the “Big Thing” to “Chicago Transit Authority,” who quickly ordered them to cease and desist.  They shortened it to Chicago, playing homage to their city.  I’m surprised old man Daley didn’t tell them to knock it off too.

37 – AC/DC – The Young boys got the name from the back of their sister’s sewing machine that was labeled AC/DC.  She sewed Angus’s school boy uniform for him.  They thought that reflected the power of their sound.  Later they were bit embarrassed to find out that it also meant being bisexual.

36 – THE PRETENDERS – Apparently took the name from the song “The Great Pretender” from fellow inductees The Platters.

35 – STEELY DAN – Are you ready for this?  It came from a name of a dildo in some book.  Dan was Steely, for sure.  I would have ranked them higher if it wasn’t for the dildo thing

34 – CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL – John Fogerty had a friend named Creedence Nuball, and the Clearwater part came from a beer advertisement.  The Revival was a nod to the numerous changes the band had gone through.  It’s a mouthful, but CCR is all you need to say.

33 – KISS – This was the band of my preteen years.  I had every album.  The best part of the name is the logo.  One of the best logos ever.

32 – QUEEN – I took several years of me listening to this band to understand the reference.  And I was shocked when it was announced that Freddie had AIDS.  Certainly rock royalty.

31 – HEART – Started as Hocus Pocus and White Heart and dropped the unnecessary parts.  Great band.  Definitely defines the spirit of the Wilson sisters.  I hear they are fighting and not talking to each other.  Maybe should rename themselves “Broken Heart.”

30 – THE BYRDS – The Birds would probably be at the bottom of the list.  Changing the “i” to a “y” = genius.  Actually, they were just following what the Beatles did.

29 – FLEETWOOD MAC – I’m giving another pass to a group name consisting of proper names.  The drummer isn’t named Fleetwood Mac, or Mac Fleetwood.  His name is Mick Fleetwood, and his buddy was bassist John McVie, aka Mac.  Apparently Peter Green who was the guitarist in the group at the time coined the name to keep them from leaving.

28 – YES – A simple positive name that was supposed to be temporary.  It stuck.  One of the best band logos ever.

27 – ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA – From what I can gather, a “light” orchestra was just that, a small group of string instruments.  And ELO electrified that concept.

26 – THE ANIMALS – Given the name thanks to their wild stage performances.  Easy there, tiger.

25 – THE TEMPTATIONS – This group may own the record for most “previously known as” group names.  Another iconic name.

24 – THE SUPREMES – Staked their claim to girl group rock royalty with that name.  This list isn’t about my favorite groups, remember?

23 – THE WHO – Apparently they were already going deaf from how loud they played that they couldn’t hear the suggestions of friends.  The who?  Yes, that’s right.  Whatever the name, they should be on Mount Rockmore with the Beatles and Stones.

22 – JOURNEY – They tried a radio contest to name the band, but didn’t click with any of the suggestions.  They went from “Golden Gate Rhythm Section” (horrible) to Journey after one of their roadies suggested it.  Their “journey’ took them from jazz fusion/prog rock to arena rock kings.

21 – EARTH, WIND & FIRE – A couple of the band member’s zodiac signs had influence on the name.  I think it conveys their music pretty well.

20 – PEARL JAM – If I get this wrong, I’m going to hear about it from a buddy.  They loved basketball player Mookie Blaylock for some reason, and originally called themselves that.  Avoiding possible legal issues they changed it to Pearl and added Jam.  Eddie Vedder had a great-grandmother named Pearl, and the Jam part I read came from attending a Neil Young concert in which he “jammed” on stage.  I dunno.  Cool name though.  I should rank them higher, but my buddy dissed the Barenaked Ladies once.  There has to be some punishment for that.

19 – JEFFERSON AIRPLANE – One of the members had a friend who gave out silly nick names. The nickname “Blind Thomas Jefferson Airplane” was shortened.  I’m guessing they jumped on the sci-fi bandwagon of the late 70’s to change Airplane to Starship.  Both are unique and interesting, and fit the styles of music the band was playing at the time.

18 – THE CLASH – Inspired from newspaper articles referring to news about clashes in current events.  The name fits the band.

17 – DEEP PURPLE – Ritchie Blackmore’s grandmother liked a Bing Crosby song called “Deep Purple.”  No lie.  I looked it up.

16 – THE VELVET UNDERGROUND – The name comes from a book about “the secret sexual subculture” of the 1960’s.  Whatever.  Cool name though.

15 – THE BEATLES – I get it, they got the beat.  Actually, they pretty much defined where rock and roll was at and where it was going.  For the early 1960’s, it was spot on.

14 – GENESIS – The band shortened the name from “Genesis to Revelation.”  I’m glad they did.

13 – THE GRATEFUL DEAD – I never got this band or their popularity, but the name is super cool.  Apparently chosen by Jerry Garcia from a dictionary.

12 – THE KINKS – A huge part of the British Invasion, and one that left a mark.  Great name.  It probably pissed off a lot of Archie Bunker types with baby boomer daughters.

11 – METALLICA – For someone who liked hard rock, I never clicked with these guys at their start.  But the name exemplifies BAD ASS.

 

And now for the Top Ten…

10 – PINK FLOYD – By the way, which one is Pink?  Actually Pink is Pink Anderson and Floyd was Floyd Council, two blues artists that Sid Barrett had records of.  Was called “The Pink Floyd Sound” for a while, and apparently David Gilmour occasionally refers to the band as “The Pink Floyd.”  Iconic rock name.

9 – LED ZEPPELIN – Keith Moon was said to react to the formation of this band with how he thought it would go over.  I guess he was wrong.

8 – CHEAP TRICK – Apparently they took in a Slade concert and Tom Petersson commented that they used every “cheap trick” in their show.  The band nails the moniker.

7 – VAN HALEN – It’s a last name, and I’m breaking my rule again.  But you can shut up.  Probably one of the coolest names from bands from my era.

6 – ZZ TOP – Lots of arguing over the origin of this one.  Popular is the suggestion that the two most known cigarette rolling papers were Zig-Zag and Top.  Makes sense.  Very unique name and band.

5 – AEROSMITH – Joey Kramer thought his take on the book Arrowsmith was pretty cool.  I agree.

4 – LYNYRD SKYNYRD – If you don’t know the story behind this name, shame on you.  Go back to your pop, or alternative, or whatever the hell you listen to.  Easy choice to be near the top.

3 – BLACK SABBATH – They started out with Earth, but got told to change it thanks to another band already using it.  Geezer Butler was into black magic and the occult, and wrote the vast majority of their lyrics, so there was influence there.  But they had seen a 1963 Boris Karloff filmed called “Black Sabbath” and the rest is history.

2 – THE ROLLING STONES – References to rolling stones abound in blues music.  Brian Jones is credited with suggesting it, inspired by the Muddy Waters song.  Maybe the most iconic rock band name ever.  Maybe.

And Number One goes to…

1 – RUSH – The name was given to them by the older brother of the drummer they kicked out of the band.  Classic.  There was no way I was not putting my favorite band number one.  It’s my list, remember?