Monday, May 26, 2014

26 May 2014

Ran 5.5miles with my Dad the morning of Memorial Day. For a 70 year old he’s in remarkably good shape; however the sands of time have slowed his pace noticeably the past few years. Nonetheless he still has the competitive fire, and is perhaps the toughest runner I’ve ever met… as measured by the amount of effort he’s able to summon  when he lines up for race. Today for us it’s a pleasant 10:30+ pace, which also serves as an easy day for me.  

Looking forward to some days off and downtime from work to be able to really let it wail down in the verdant countryside of Brunswick County.   So far mentally and physically I’m where I want to be… spiritually a few paces behind where I’d like to be. Though that tends to be the toughest element to quantify… yet the most rewarding when we do experience those seemingly fleeting moments of ecstasy and bliss. 

It may be too much to dream about the nights ablaze with fire... as by day we diligently pursue our excellence.  God tends to be in the details, like clicking off miles in a tempo run at threshold pace. Sometimes it’s the aahh of wonder after we do what we previously thought we could not do.  Or some new insight we gain into ourselves or the world around us. An angelic whisper in our hearts.

Maybe it’s like the girl Jen said in Born to Run …that she hoped running more would eventually make her a better person.

Onward… one step at a time.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

25 May 2014

60 mile week in the books, highest weekly mileage total since last fall. Thursday did speed work in Chappelle Park. 8 x 400m on the grass, on about a 75 second rest cycle. Averaged about 1:24 per rep. Felt fairly strong and consistent throughout. Pretty warm, humid out as well (11-12 am). Met Natasha later that afternoon in Wrightsville Beach and ran/ walked another 7 miles. Part of which was done while pushing her baby in a jogger stroller. Which after awhile turns into a bit of an upper body work out on the arms, shoulders, and neck (especially when running into any kind of breeze). Drank a fair amount of water (by then it was close to 90 ). Was pretty wiped by the last time we went around the 2+ mile loop. Had run to the south end and back... which always reminds me of when I first moved to the Wilmington area.

10 miler on Friday, again in the heat. Even at an easier pace of close to 9 minutes per mile its a bit of a slog at times. Ran mostly off road on the inner island connector roads and the CB State Park trails. Took off Saturday. Late night at work on the Iron Mountain website looking at past results plus going thru pictures posted from last year's race and reading some of the race reports from fellow runners (links into their personal blogs). Interesting reading the experiences of those who attempted the 50 miler, which I plan to try myself Aug30. Stoked for the challenge.

Sunday did 9+ in Shallotte. Looped out to the West Brunswick HS, put down a lap on the track in 1:32. Ran a bit of a friskier pace throughout, averaging 7:35 mile. Closed on my parents' road at about a 6:15 pace the last 3,4 tenths of a mile. Thoughts early in the run of the road and how I can spit, curse, cry, wail, rejoice, etc. and it doesn't care. It repels it all without a response, as it has in the past, and will so in the future. In some sense its my best friend, because no matter what, its always there.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

20 May 2014

25 miles in the last 2 days. My legs are coming back to life. Struggled a bit last week still in the wake of May 4th's half marathon. Was also aided by a drastic reduction in humidity and cooler temps the past few days, though that won't last for long.

Did my first 2 a day in awhile yesterday (Monday). Like to do for obvious time reasons on days that I have off from work. The first run of the day I set out mid morning and put down 12 miles. Mostly off road on the inner island dirt/grassy roads, and then back onto the CB State Park trails. Averaged an 8:30- 8:40 pace while just sort of cruising the miles off, and savoring the tranquility of the outdoors.

The second run of the day went back out about 5:30pm after doing an upper body workout which consisted off several sets of push ups and lifting free weights (while listening to Suicidal Tendencies). My legs seemed game so I opened her up some as I got into the 2nd mile of the 5.5+ mile inner island trail loop. Ran the last 2.5 miles at a sub 7 minute/ mile pace, ending on the beach at a 6:30s pace.

Plan short term is to get close to 60 mile a week, jumping up from the 50 a week that I averaged for a month before tapering/ recovering from the half. Thought of a Charles Bukowski quote again the other night which I feel is harmonious with what I'm seeking perhaps to do....

"If you're going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don't even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery--isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you'll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you're going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It's the only good fight there is.”

Monday, May 12, 2014

12 May 2014

Legs are slowly recovering from last weekend's half marathon  Ran an easier 5.5 miles on Sunday, and 7.5 miles today. As I've gotten a little older and perhaps a little wiser, I pay attention more to the art of recovery. What I eat, drink post runs (especially longer runs), to trying to get enough sleep, as well as taking the necessary days off and easier runs that are essential to allow my body and to some extent my mind to heal and rebuild.

One of the best runs from an instructional standpoint I've ever had was 3 or 4 years ago with my friend Colin in Wilmington. We ran if memory serves about 5 or 6 miles at a pace slower than ten minutes per mile. And discussed the importance of incorporating slow runs into one's routine. The legendary Frank Shorter... who incidentally served as the guest starter for this year's Quintiles marathon... is quoted as having said to the effect "when you're going to run fast run fast; when you're going to run slow run slow".  Furthermore adding that there weren't many runners who could run fast enough to keep up, nor many who would want to run slow enough on his slow days.

Want to also recover to be ready to start ramping up again... eyeing for one thing the Iron Mountain 50 miler the end of August. But I also want to ramp up and run more for the sake of running more... continuing a journey I've dubbed my own vision quest. Being loosely defined as an attempt to find what is currently beyond reach. A search for an undefinable something that may lie on mystical plains yet traversed. I don't know, I may just be a little nuts, or bored with the status quo. But I am eager for the pilgrimage... like some wide eyed religious enthusiast heeding an inner voice... whispering to them to keep on seeking.

Friday, May 9, 2014

9 May 2014

Ran the inaugural Plantation Builder's half marathon Sunday morning. Set a PR with a time of 1:26:57... however the course may have been short. My garmin had the distance at 12.85 miles, though one of the fellow runners said their watch was losing satellite connection on the course sections in the woods. So perhaps I have an asterisk, or an adjusted PR of about 1:28:30+... which is still a minute below my previous best ran at Quintiles in 2010 of 1:29:35. Either way I'll take it.

I drove down to Leland and Brunswick Forrest at 6am, just before sunrise. Even on less than two hours sleep I still acutely felt a healthy dose of pre -race adrenaline. Race mornings (and to a bit of lesser extent race evenings the night before) are magical times when I feel most alive... a heightened sense of awareness... mixed with butterfly like anticipation of the race itself. When I arrived and met my Dad down from the start/ finish area it was a bit cool out (mid/ upper 50s), with no wind... near ideal race conditions as I told him. But once the sun came up the air warmed rapidly, accompanied by a bit of a warm breeze.

169 athletes finished the half marathon, so it wasn't that big of a crowd at the start line. Nonetheless those are the super magical butterfly in the stomach damn its great to be alive moments. I remember at track meets in high school, especially the bigger ones like the league and district meets... thinking just fire the gun. Lets go. The hardest part was that last few agonizing, drawn out moments waiting for the race to start. Standing just behind a white line... leaning slightly forward. Fire the gun man. Perhaps its not quite as harrowing most road races don't begin with someone firing a starter's pistol. But I've learned to cherish those fleeting moments.

We were off after I think the bellow of a horn blow... and as usual the overall pace went out too fast. Normally I guard a little better against this...but I found myself 1/4- 1/2 mile in running in the 6:50s. Wanted to run the first mile closer to mid 7s. I seem to do better when I lay up a little early in longer races. When I ran my only sub 1:30 1/2 in 2010 I went thru 4 miles in about 30 minutes. So I dialed my pace back a little... noting how there were a few dozen runners still in front of me... and also thinking I would likely pass most of them at some point. A little competitive ego in racing is not necessarily an amoral character trait.

The course snaked on roads throughout the community planned neigbborhoods, and around a small lake (where it felt like you were constantly turning). There was also a small section of an elevated boardwalk which curled thru the woods. I brought my pace down into the 6:40s/ 6:50s range miles 3 through 6... at which point I felt pretty good... though cognizant that I was working a fair amount to maintain. Plus the aforementioned warmth of the sun was becoming a detriment. Stayed about 100-200 meters behind a man and woman who I knew were good runners... was sort of gauging progress based on the gap. Which started to narrow considerably near mile 6 approaching the race turnaround point (pretty much a double loop). Decided to pass them early into the second loop, and to go by at a decent clip ... resulting in a 6:29 7th mile.

Ran the next 2 miles in the mid 6:30s before the late race bear started becoming a bit heavier on my back. At this point it became somewhat of a guts race... me mentally reminding myself to be strong... click it off a tenth off mile at a time. (Started a countdown at 9 miles, or 41 tenths to go). Knowing I was in PR range and solidly in the top 10 of the field... while simultaneously telling myself I hadn't don't shit yet. (invented this mental contraption a few months ago... essentially blocking or cutting off pre mature self congratulatory thoughts before the final task is completed.. i.e all 5 mile repeats have been run, or all 31 miles in the 50k have been completed).

Caught up to a guy back on the boardwalk in the blessed, cool woods just before mile 12. Exchanged a few mutual words of encouragement before the last straight shot on the warm asphalt and concrete (could also run on the sidewalks) to the finish. Several times I could here the whack whack thump thump of someone right behind me. This is a point where a runner either has the you're going to have to bleed it out of me to beat me mentality or doesn't... there is no middle ground. This is hell... make no mistake, as far as the physical toll one's body is enduring. The mind either cooperates and obviates the discomfort, or it crumbles. Its also that netherworld where one speaks about the running gods smiling on them... or abandoning them.

The last few tenths of a mile became an elongated death sprint... finally the sounds of voices, cheers etc... and the end suddenly is not quite so far away. I really kicked it in on the last stretch up the sidewalk... and was fairly certain the sound of footsteps from behind had abated... but left nothing to chance when I was within site of the finish chute and clock. Finished harder than I normally do in a longer race... someone draped a medal around my neck ...  after which I fell onto the grass and dry heaved... one very happy runner. Not every race, not every run can I or we as runners summon that extra gear, or that extra ability to withstand the torment...and push thru... which makes it all the more sweeter when we do. Talked afterwards to my fellow runner who finished just four seconds behind me in 6th place. He thanked me for pushing him at the end. Said thanks to him as well for pushing me. Helped me to my first  Masters win.

 Today the running Gods smiled.

Friday, May 2, 2014

2 May 2014

Sometimes I wonder how much of an escape it is.. . all the running. But I also sense I’m escaping perhaps not from something but towards something. Something more wonderful, bigger…. perhaps more profound

Those were the thoughts I had one day last week while resting between sprints. Someone once asked me if I was running from something or towards something ... and it brought me pause. But there are days like yesterday that I don't really feel like putting my Sauconys on and heading out the door to run a few miles.  Plus do a 4 x 400m speed work session that I usually do a few days before an upcoming race... which I look at as sharpening the point of a spear before battle. So I do on occasion like yesterday question just perhaps what the heck I am doing out here, or maybe more to the point is just why am I doing all of this?

A few years ago I was reading in a blog by an old friend of mine Marlowe about an interview with the playwright  David Mamet. The context of which struck me and has stayed with me was he was asked why he did what he did... i.e all the writing. His answer was that he cant not do it.

So yesterday I got out the door and ran my miles and did my 400s... in the warm sun and high humidity... and didn't necessarily think about it all that much... and was pleased as I most always am that I had in fact done it and not shied away from it. The 400s weren't easy, but then again a lot of things in life that we strive for are not easy, and tend to challenge us in ways that ultimately if we complete the tasks, make us better people. And get us another small step closer to that more profound we are searching for.