Monday, June 30, 2014

Late -night Running

3 hours and 27 minutes. Started the run at 1:30am. Headed up Canal Drive to the north end of Pleasure Island. Under the fishing pier then on to the sand. Nothing but the rhythmic sound of the surf rolling in and out, beating its own ancient time. A solitary light of a fishing boat out in the murky black colossal nothingness... which stretches to infinity and beyond.  A flashback to a night run last year with Natasha on Airlie Road... rounding a bend and seeing Gatsby's green light across the sound.

Out here on the perimeter... where tonite the sky is filled with hundreds of twinkling stars...  we is stoned immaculate.

Out here life seems like its suspended in a parallel galaxy. The lights of Wrightsville Beach appear in a slightly blurred haze several miles up the coastline. I can tell you they were there and I saw them but by the next day you or I may begin to have doubts about any or all of this ...

Its Cliff bars on the go and 3am cravings for a cold can of Coke.

Its total silence on the road save for the whap whap of shoes hitting the macadam.

Its when you start to catch a glimpse that God is inside of us and has been all along.

Its the lights of the Kure Beach pier stretching out into the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean... as I lope on the sand and fidget mentally about how long it takes for 3 hours to elapse.

Taking stock and making calculations.

Not giving in

Feeling acutely alive and thoroughly exhausted.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

No Title

Sometimes I wonder what the end game is here. Not only in running but in life. Sure we're told its the journey not the destination right? 

Can we truly be without limits, to borrow the name of a local training group (which derives from a movie about Steve Prefontaine... who certainly did not subscribe to any notion of limits)

Ran an 18:24 5K this past Saturday, my fastest 5K time in close to 4 years. I'd like to think its a by-product of the past few months of training; the entire spectrum of running, ancillary work like strength/ core, better recovery habits, diet, ambition, spiritual seeking....

Not so secretly I'd love to quit my job and just run and write about running full time. Follow the "running waves" like a surfer follows the ocean's waves. I've already got 1 offer for an indefinite stay above a friend's garage in PA, in exchange for money to pay for air conditioning.  Also a friend's place in Colorado to use as training grounds for Iron Mountain.

25 miles yesterday. 20 early in the morning; first 10+ on the roads of Carolina Beach, followed by the trails of the CB State Park. Almost stepped on a baby copperhead. Stopped and watched it for a few moments.  Had a more of a burnt orange hue behind its head than the usual copper like color. I should have told it I was sorry... but I didn't see it in the dirt and sand of the trail until the last second.  Averaged hi 8s pace, legs held up. Mind held up.

Quicker 5 in the early evening on the grass around the CB Lake. Thoughts about all the time I spent out there in the dark and cold last December and January training for Gator Trail 50K. How nice the Christmas lights looked. Counting off laps (.67 around lake). What determination looks, feels, and tastes like.


Travelled to Omaha, Nebraska last week. Its always a welcome challenge to find places to run when visiting somewhere new. Discovered a network of single track trails just over a mile or so from the hotel we were staying at. Went out running the first afternoon in town and came to a park called Tranquility Park, which looked like it was nothing more than several soccer fields with macadam pathways that went around and between the playing fields. But saw a large power line adjacent to a gravel parking lot and decided to see if could follow (I've always been fascinated by power lines, those large ones that look like big green Ts with lines attached to both sides.... and the notion of wanting to see how far I can follow them).

So bypassed a metal gate and followed a dirt road aside of the lines until discovering a narrow single track trail cutting thru the meadows of high prairie grass interspersed sporadically with purple and yellow flowers that grew atop thorny type weeds (quite a pretty sight). Found a single track trail no more than 8-10 inches wide that was part of a  network of trails that covered probably a good 12-15 miles weaving back and forth parallel to a bigger road that headed to the north and out of the city. Trails had numerous small hills and twisted in and out of prairie lands as well as wooded areas. Reminded me of some of the trails that I've run in Colorado. Saw a wild turkey and its young twice (the first day the mother turkey even tried to attack me as it may have perceived me to be a threat to her chicks).

Did a solid hill work out/ tempo run one morning on the roads. 8 miles, which primarily constituted 4 repetitions of 2 long hills on 2 boulevards that intersected.

Got in more miles than I had planned but was pleasantly surprised by how good and challenging the running was out there (didn't expect the hills. ).  Also some good running with my Dad and time spent on the roads and trails of the Midwest.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

200s and a little zen

Ran 4 x 200m, 2x 400m, 4x 200m at Chappelle Park this morning.  Ok workout; legs are still kind of beat up from heavier work load and mileage past 7-10 days. Plus the heat and humidity was up there again. Used my familiar "track" which is mostly grass and some dirt on the outside perimeter of a soccer/ softball field.

Clocked 43, 44 seconds on the first 2 reps thinking that I was running a little faster than I apparently was. Got them down around 40 seconds from then on, though I was thinking that the last time I ran 200s I was closer to the 35 second range. Ran both 400s pretty strong in the low 1:20s. About a 150 meter slow jog rest cycle.

On one of those recovery or rest intervals I was thinking about how not to think... just look at the dirt and the grass and let the mind go blank. Rejoice in the silence. Meditation seeks those empty spots. And its of little benefit to be thinking about the next one... it will  come and be there and you'll be in the breach again soon enough.

Sometimes running can strip things down so bare like that; or its sort of a conduit for being totally present in the now. Its a almost a mystical place where just about everything vanishes... except one's heartbeat, breath... and the feel of muscles propelling the body forward.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


Thought about this when I was out running on Sunday. How hungry am I as well as what motivates hunger. It seems like the less that I perceive myself to have (which admittedly is a skewed and somewhat false perception), the hungrier I become in my running.  Hungry people will lay it all out there to get fed. An empty belly... (or an existential craving) fuels a person to push beyond the normal limitations imposed by time and space. Remembered back to being in college at Penn State when I had the re-occurring thoughts that running was the only thing that mattered to me.  During a period of situational depression, I had several weeks and months of solid runs. And I can still recall how good it felt.

This is not to say that a "well fed" person cannot be highly motivated in his or her athletic endeavors.  But I do think a "real hungry" person has a certain edge in how they approach their daily running tolls. The thing in itself has a higher weighted importance in the totality of their being in those stages in life.

Yesterday ran 24.5 miles. An 18 miler in the morning, hi-lighted by several miles running thru a tropical like monsoon in the state park. Early in the run I could see a bank of greyish purple clouds building to the south and west...  was sunny and noticeably warm and humid at 7:30 as I ran thru the center of Carolina Beach on the roads. Was actually hoping it would rain to cool me off. And 30-40 minutes later the first drops started to fall as I approached the state park. Really opened it up like the sky had been sliced in two back on the trails... which in no time became water logged and splishy splashy as I galloped along enjoying every minute of it. There's something some days about the rain and being out in it that is almost indescribably beautiful. The sounds, smells...

Late afternoon run in the sun was a harder 10k on the inner island roads/ trails...ended at the beach. Hi 45s, good, solid effort. Last 2 miles well under sub 7 minute pace. The last .2 in a hi 5s pace. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

5 June 2014

The miles are adding up. I like to do the math while I'm actually out there running. 46+ this week, 107 the last 10 days... Ran hill repeats on Snow's Cut Bridge again this morning. Didn't get out there until after 11am. Was already about 80 degrees and quite sticky humidity wise. Plus a 10-20 mph breeze thrown in I suspect just for an added encumbrance to the day's proceedings.

It's also at points like this that the whole mental countenance of the little project I'm undertaking can get challenged. Weak spots can become exposed. Resolve can and will get tested. And words are just that; whether they be words written on the paper or words spoken by the mouth. Words don't get one over that damn bridge a 5th time.

I saw some pretty yellow flowers near the end of Monday's long run. Seeing them, acknowledging internally their beauty, grace, etc. helped get me to end of a 14.5 miler in the early summer sun.

Watched a large hawk one morning last week in the state park. Perhaps a red tailed hawk. It saw me and flew sort of parallel to the path I was on, then landed and perched on a tree branch.... and intently watched me as I slowly ran by and underneath. I could see the size of its beak. And thought man he could thrash me pretty good if he wanted to.

Some young man hollered "run Forrest run" by the CB Lake as I was doing my in and out sprints. A group of "tourists" asked for directions in the State Park... then saw me later on another trail (in which my immediate thought was you all didn't follow my directions or you wouldn't be here), whereupon one lady said to another lady "there's that runner again."

I suspect had one seen me later a small smile would have been etched across my weary sun beaten face.

Monday, June 2, 2014

2 June 2014

Registered for the Iron Mountain 50 mile trail race in Virginia yesterday. So now its official... and I officially have felt also a few pangs of doubt wondering if I can actually finish this dang thing.  But my doubts are allayed somewhat by the running and training over the past few days and weeks. And doubt can be a healthy motivator especially when paired with vigorous ambition.

Got in another 60 mile week last week (a little over 61 miles to be exact).  Running down in Brunswick County in and around where my parents live. Been doing a 9 mile loop that takes me past a horse farm, where in the past I would watch them graze as I ran by. No horses though as I went by this past Friday though I was reminded of the scene in Once a Runner when Cassaday and Bruce Denton run by a group of horses which start running parallel to them... and in perfect pace with them. They talk about rider-less mounts in the minds of the horses. Or something like that.

Ran a 3 mile tempo last Thursday up and over Snow's Cut Bridge four times. Trying to incorporate some hill work into the routine. Or as much hill work as one can do here in the flat lands. Cruised it in 20:35; felt rather strong. What a strange site it must be to the casual observer; seeing someone run back and forth up and over a bridge.

Did speed work again on Saturday. 8 x 400m at the West Brunswick High School track. Felt good on a 4+ mile warm up run to the track, and debated about just doing a 10 mile progression run instead. But was nice to be able to feel the hard spongy surface under my feet and blaze by the familiar lane markings of an oval track again. Averaged about 1:21 per quarter on a 60 second rest cycle; last 2 or 3 reps got really hard and I found myself doubled over on the infield grass gasping for air at their hallowed conclusion. Lactic acid would come on steady and start to tie my legs up a little about 100-150 meters into each 400. I kept telling myself "you can at any point always make it around a track one more time." 

I find things out here that I cant find anywhere else... and I'm not even sure what per se it is that I even find. I guess its something that nothing else ever seems to fill. Maybe its all horse shit anyway, I don't know. But as long as there's an open road to run down, a trail to follow, or a track to circle... I'll carry on. Perhaps somewhere inside that very notion is a piece of what I'm searching for anyhow. More I suspect, will be revealed...