Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Do or Die

Spring break is here for me and I didn't go anywhere.  I finished writing tests and grading papers so I'm fairly free to get my running in like I had planned.  Monday, I ran three miles in 27:52.  I was surprised because I hadn't run that fast in many months.  Tuesday, I figured would be rough due to going back to back and the 84 degree heat--not to mention the cream cheese and ice-cream shake I fed my lactose intolerant body. 

As expected, the first mile was rough, but I settled into a somewhat comfortable pace.  I figured I would try for four miles today because I'm not very smart when it comes to training.  Into mile two, I ran up on what I thought was a snake, but it turned out to be a bungee cord.  Those things look like snakes in the dirt.  After calming my heart down, I powered up a long incline and decided I could do 4 miles.  The last six tenths of mile four were rough.  I thought that there was no way I'd finish in under 40 minutes, but the Dropkick Murphys came on the Ipod playing Do Or Die.  I thought I'll either do this or die trying.  Being Irish and so close to St. Patricks Day, I mustered whatever Irish stubborness and stupidity I had and finished in an even 39 minutes. 

So far, so good.  Like Bob Dylan, I'm a keep on keepin' on. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Jump Around

Since I haven't written anything since December 2010, I guess that really was a tough thirty.  Running wise, things were going well during the summer.  I was easily running 15 miles every Saturday and getting ready to make the push to twenty so I could take on the 50 mile ultra races.  I took a teaching job and it has consumed my entire week.  Weekends are spent grading and planning for the next week.  Only recently have I begun to feel like things are slowing down. 

Prior to today, I had only run once in the last 5 weeks.  I had been playing some basketball with my team though.  Today's run was a short 3.1 miles in 29:33.  It didn't feel super easy, but I wasn't gasping for air either.  I was fading with 3/4 of a mile to go, but then Jump Around by House Of Pain came on and I had to speed up.  If you're Irish and that song doesn't get your blood pumping faster, you must have been adopted.  I kicked it in the last half mile to get under thirty minutes. 

The goal for 2012 is to run 40 miles in 8 hours.  We've (the "we" include myself and the voices in my head that talk to me when I run) got a long way to go (literally and figuratively), but Summer's coming and I plan to have a solid base in by then.

Until next time,

Jump Around, Jump Around
Jump Up, Jump Up, and Get Down.        

Friday, December 24, 2010

A tough thirty

I can't believe it's been 3 months since my last post. I've been pretty busy, and running, and most everything else had to take a back seat to school. In that time, I haven't really run more than a handful of times, so there wasn't much to write about anyway.

With the end of the school year, I had been hoping to do more running, but I was sick since it ended. Last night, after a full four hours of sleep, I woke up at 4 am and felt the best I've felt in a long, long time. I hopped out of bed and was out the door by 4:30. I set the modest goal of 30 miles in 6 hours.

I set out and the first five miles were fine. The next four miles seemed like they were all uphill. It was too dark to tell exactly. This stretch sapped my legs of all they had. By mile ten, I knew my legs were in trouble. I figured if I could go fifteen miles out, then I'd have no choice but to finish thirty if I wanted to get home.

If my legs were a car, the transmission started slipping after ten miles, and completely fell off after thirteen. The cold temps fooled me into thinking I wasn't thirsty. I had consumed 22 ounces of fluid in 18 miles--far too little. My hamstrings and calves were locking up. I was only able to run around 150 meters before the lactic acid flooded my legs and forced me to walk. I gutted it out like this the rest of the way.

In the end, I missed my goal time by 27 minutes, but I did get that elusive 30 mile goal.

Total time was 6 hours 27 minutes and some seconds.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


We've all heard or been told that we need to listen to our bodies, but I think we also have to know our bodies. If your body is like mine, then you know that it lies. The trick is in knowing your body well enough to be able to figure out when it's lying to you and when it's telling the truth. We've all heard our bodies tell us we need to slow down or quit, but we overrode those messages and found that we were able to push farther or faster. When the body does tell the truth, we can usually figure that out pretty easily. If we try to ignore the truth, the body sends us a message through our pain receptors. These messages are generally scary enough to get our attention, and all but the most stubborn of us will end the run at that point. Those of us who continue after feeling the pain shoot through a body part are courting injury.

To complicate the issue even further, the mind sometimes gets involved in the discussion. I know that I often have conversations in my mind like there are two beings in my head. The conversation usually involves "the mind" telling me that I should slow down, quit, or question what I'm doing. The hard part is trying to figure out if you're listening to the body or the mind. I can tell that it's the mind speaking when it's telling me I should slow down or quit, but my legs and breathing are fine. In this instance, the body is silent because it's okay, so I know it's the mind that is speaking. When my legs are heavy or my breathing is labored, and the conversation in my head is turning negative, then it's pretty difficult to assess whether it's the body or mind doing the speaking.

I don't want to ignore those exceptional runs where everything seems to be in sync. The body is telling you that everything is good and it can go faster. At the same time, the mind is filled whith positive thoughts or images of finishing future races and accomplishing goals. Those are the days when you feel like you could run forever, and I often find myself running with a smile on my face.

I did another 2 mile run with Kody today. It took 24:23 this time. That's over a minute faster than his time last week. I think he may have some running ability.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

My First Sandwich & Kody's PR

I completed my first sandwich run today.  For those who don't know, a sandwich run is where you do a long run on one day and then a shorter run the next day.  Usually the second day's run is about half the distance of the longer run.  After yesterday's 20 miles, I felt pretty good today, but was not going to be able to do 10 miles.  I ran 4 miles in 49:11.  I did it outside in the 100 plus degree heat, and I felt it.  Surprisingly, my legs felt pretty good during the 4 miles, and I had to hold myself back at certain points.

My 8 year-old, Kody came along for the first 2 miles today.  For the first mile, we did a 5:1 run/walk ratio.  For the second mile, I lowered it to a 4:1.  He held up strong and didn't show any signs of duress.  we finished the 2 miles in 25:34, which was a lot faster than I had intended.  Kody set a personal record in both distance and time today.  His previous long run was a mile, and that was around 9 months ago.  Looks like we may have another runner in the family.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Challenges--Do We Run To Or From Them?

Today's run--20 miles in 3 hours 45 minutes.

I got up at 4:30 am this morning so I could get to the YMCA when they opened at 5:00.  I hadn't been able to get a run in since the 17 miler in the heat a couple of weeks ago.  I got to the gym and began running at 5:10.  I started out really slow and steadily increased my speed.  I did the majority of the miles at 10:20 pace.  Miles 12, 13, and 18 were where I felt the best. 

Overall, the run was okay.  I'm not a morning person, and not a morning runner either.  I don't like to eat in the morning, so I didn't have anything other than a couple of gels during the run.  I hit the day's goal of 20 miles.  Maybe because it was so early, I had a hard time feeling enthusiastic while I was doing the run.  Usually I have to concentrate to hold my emotions in check, less I burn too much energy in the early stages.  Today was just a workmanlike, get it done kind of run.  Around mile 15, I noticed that my cardio was not where it needed to be even though I wasn't going very fast.  I don't know if that was a product of not doing anything for two weeks or not.  I hope it was.

Maybe my mood has been tempered by knowing that I'm nowhere close to being prepared to run a 50 mile race through mountains.  Registration for the ultra marathon I've had my eye on is in a month or so.  Once I sign up, there's no turning back, and that's scary.  One of the reasons I decided to do the 50 mile race is for the challenge.  For me, it really is a challenge, because I'm not sure if I can finish it.  That means there's a chance of failure, and no one, especially me, wants to fail.  I'm sure there are people who go about their lives never attempting anything if theres a strong possibility of failure.  There are definitely times when playing it safe is the right choice, but I've always been a competitive person, and these days the only competition I get is with myself.  If I had the time to train properly, I'm pretty sure I could finish a 50 mile race.  As things are now, I average one run a week.  Part of my brain lights up at the challenge this presents, and another part is definitely fearful.  When it comes to physical challenges, I've never been one to shy away.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Respect The Heat

I didn't get a chance to run last week, so I had high hopes for today.  I woke up at 5:00 this morning so I could get this run in.  I woke up and there was no sunlight.  I ended up waiting until 5:55 for it to be light enough to leave.  I would rather leave while it's still dark, but I have to watch for snakes.  For some reason, I was expecting it to be cold when I left.  I checked, and the temperature was 82 degrees with 35% humidity.  For some reason, it didn't resonate in my head that this was going to be a hot run.  I figured I'd run outdoors since the YMCA was closed because of Labor Day.  I picked up one of those Gatorade pre-workout fuel packs.  It said to drink it 15 minutes before working out.  Counting waiting for the sun and the higher than expected temps, this was the third thing that went wrong today.  I brought my hydration backpack and no-grip handheld water bottle holder. 

Anyway, I set out expecting to do an easy 20 miles.  Right off the bat, things just didn't feel good.  I was going due East and running directly towards the sun.  I had gone 2.68 miles and was struggling.  I had a rock in my shoe at this point so I stopped to take it out and, along with the rock, my metatarsal pad also fell out.  This pad absorbs and redistributes the shock forces away from my metatarsals.  The pad sticks to the top of my insert and when it breaks off, it doesn't go back on.  I was really worried now.  The metatarsal problem was the root cause of all my feet problems way back when.  I decided to keep going, but to keep a close watch on it. 

I started again and noticed a wetness on my back.  My backpack was leaking water.  It's done this in the past and I hate it--you get what you pay for.  The backpack was digging into my shoulders and really irritating me.  At 5 miles, I decided to use a gel, and check my water supply.  All of the water had leaked out.  I was so disgusted with that backpack that I would have left it on the side of the road if it wasn't carrying my other supplies.  My stomach was hurting a little the entire way.  I never have stomach problems while running--I blame the Gatorade pre-workout stuff.  I kept expecting to be able to find a groove and settle in, but it never happened.  I trudged on into the sun.

Finally, at 10 miles I stopped at a convenience store and got a bottle of water, re-applied Body Glide to my toes, and put on a fresh pair of socks.  Hoping this pit-stop would energize me, I hit the road again.  My feet felt better, but I just couldn't get anything going.  It was a struggle.  I thought (numerous times) about calling my wife to come pick me up, but I hate to quit.  After a couple more miles, I was able to turn towards home and put the sun at my back.  After 14 miles, I stopped at a store and bought a Powerade.  At this point, I knew that I had around 3 more miles to go before I made it home.  I was so done that these last miles became like a death march.  I'd run the flats and downhills as long as I could, and then walk the inclines and hills. 

I made it home after a long, long 17.5 miles.  When I got home, the temperature was 93 degrees.  I don't mind admitting that the heat destroyed me today.  It beat me mentally and physically.  I don't view today as a total failure because I did not quit.  This is why I didn't give in and make the call to come pick me up.  I knew that I would take some pleasure in knowing that I finished. 

Oddly enough, I thought I'd be laid out for the rest of the day, but my legs actually felt pretty good after a couple of hours.  I saw 5 snakes today--4 dead and 1 alive.  The live one was only about a foot long, and I didn't see it until I was next to it.  Fortunately, it was a few feet away from me when I went by.

Today's totals: 17.50 miles  3:47:49.