Monday, October 27, 2014

HappY Running

First 40 mile week in almost two months last week.

I ran along side a butterfly for little while today. A bright orange and black one. Saw a bald eagle and one large deer Saturday morning in the CB State Park. Colin and I bush wacked it trying to follow and catch a better site of both. In between conversations about quarter mile splits, mile repeats, lifting weights, ultras...

Nice for a change not to have any specific races I'm training for on the calendar. No 20 miler I cant miss or speed work to be endured on a cold, rainy day. I can sleep in... or run a harder six mile cut down run like I did Sunday morning... closing with a 6:18 last mile. Counting it off a tenth of a mile at a time the final half mile. Finish strong, run thru the tape...

Hatching ideas/ plans to run races up in PA in 2015. Finding and reading thru old race results on the internet. Texting Paul. Checking how friends did in the Marine Corp Marathon.

Getting excited. Falling in love again and again. Running is a gift that seems to have an inexhaustible supply of giving. Which can be as simple as feeling good on a winding trail in the woods. Just for the moment things are alright man. We'll keep stretching our wings... heading towards new horizons, dreaming new dreams. Filling up scrap books of memories... peppered with joy, sweat, and a little bit of pain.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Pie. Motivation.

Ran 19:10 Saturday morning at the Son Run 5K in Wrightsville Beach. Not my best race but certainly not my worst.  Won top Masters, for which I got a pie and a bag of gifts that included a thermos and a pair of socks. 

Smaller field, only 115 or so runners. Saw a guy I know Steve from Jacksonville whom I correctly assumed would be my primary over 40 competition. Perhaps inspired (foolishly) by another Steve (Prefontaine) I made a tactical decision between a quarter and half mile in to front run on him and force him to try and go after me or chase me down. I figured also it wasn't the type of day...a bit breezy...that's conducive to running someone down. (preface: reading the sections of the book Bowerman and the Men of Oregon about Pre's years at the school. He was famous for his style of front running in races, and considered it some type of racing sin not to).

The net result of which was going out too fast in a 5:55 mile. The course though had to be altered that morning due to a water main break, and included a turn around.  Plus most of the last mile was back into the wind. Any kind of sustained wind makes it difficult for most runners I know to run faster, shorter races. Part of it I'm sure is psychological... but also its just physically harder to run faster into an impediment.

Anyhow it broke a streak of some pretty good races for me. Again wasn't a poor race by any means. But I didn't have that extra gear, nor the countenance to summon my very best. Nonetheless its healthy to not always race at ones peak. For one, its hard to sustain peak fitness levels. It can lead to burnout and/or injury. Second, it fuels me personally to kind of hit the drawing boards... realize again I don't have all the answers so to speak. And it motivates me to train harder to get back closer to those peak fitness and racing levels. Plus it makes me appreciate more when all the cosmic cylinders do click in to place during a race. (to paraphrase from the movie Field of Dreams.)

But for now I'll enjoy my pie. As I enjoyed the company on a nice fall morning with several friends and members of the Wilmington running community.

There are more runs and workouts on the horizon. And races.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Not vs giving in

Getting back into doing speed work and harder tempo runs as I'd like to concentrate on a few shorter fall races. Plus its nice to shift focus away from training for an ultra or longer races after some much needed rest and downtime.

Ran a set of 8 400s last Wednesday back on the grass of Chappelle Park.  Averaged about 1:23 thru the first seven reps on a short recovery cycle of 75 seconds. After the fifth rep I was starting to almost dry heave and would have to double over for a good 15-20 seconds before being able to slowly shuffle/ jog back to my starting line. The eight and final one again the lactic acid started tying my legs up already within a 100 meters or so... causing my breathing to falter and my chest to start to constrict and tie up ... or as described in the seminal classic The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner... it felt like I had a bag of nails in my chest.

Of course for those of us who labor in such endeavors this is nothing new, and is something we periodically encounter. But on the last rep I just couldn't seem to will my body, and perhaps more importantly my mind thru it. Subsequently my pace slackened and I finished in 1:28. Still a good work out, but that last rep would nag at me mostly because of how I reacted to it.

Some days we give in and succumb to the pain. We see the wall we must smash thru (and we know how to smash thru it from experience) but we stop short at its base. We flinch and back away, for reasons unknown.

Friday I set out on a tempo/ cut down run of 6-8 miles. Ran into a headwind up towards the north end of the island, but once I made the turn and headed back I attempted to drop the hammer down from the current pace of hi 6s the last 2 miles.  I heard a voice say I'll catch you if you fall at the end...a strange mystical whispering. I was cognizant of that last rep Wednesday too. I wanted to hold it close to full throttle all the way around the neighborhood that juts back into the far end of the canal. This time when it all rushed at me I kept it at bay and fought the last stop sign... 5:57 pace for .63 miles. Just for today, I had won.

Reading Bowerman and the Men of Oregon. Made some tweaks to my speed work approach Monday. In laymen's terms I shouldn't quite be keeling over on the back half of interval sets. The results of which were a set of 12 200s at :37 on 90 seconds rest on the inner island dirt roads. Felt fluid and hard but not killer.

There will be plenty more walls to try and smash thru...

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Spirits increase

Back in the CB State Park running on a rather warm and muggy early October morning. Taking notice of all the small yellow and light purple flowers which  pop up seemingly at their own whim. Their colors stir in me some primal urge to be forgiven...or maybe to not have to be reminded of  the natural, simple beauty that is all around us.

I feel like I've been taking more than I've been giving of late, especially in regards to other people. Sure I have not been feeling well the past several weeks; vertigo and headaches, and a head cold that effectively took away my voice the last few days. Still though I feel this is but a crutch to excuse poor behavior...and today while running in the woods, without having to express it thru conventional language, I felt as though the God I continue to strive to find understood this. And said without saying that it was all ok. You're human and fallible. I can and will forgive you.

Somewhere I read that a trick to life was getting the present moment right, mentally and spiritually. One of the best by products of running is the ability to often times do just that. By being present. By being aware of our internal mechanisms moment by moment, or by being acutely aware moment by moment of our surroundings. Like all spiritual insights into right living, it can be rare and fleeting...though seemingly at our finger tips. Which makes the taste oh so sweet when we do find ourselves in such a state of being.

On my way back out of the park I crested up and over Starvation Ridge as I've named it...and wound along one of my favorite sections of trail towards Walden Pond { named by me as well}. I saw an egret at the edge of the pond...its white plumage striking against the background of greens and browns. I thought about all the birds in the novel Chesapeake I just started to read, and how things may have appeared  hundreds of years ago in the wild. And what runners or travelers had passed through this very spot many many years ago... quietly enjoying their own revelries with the world about them.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


Went for a faster 5 mile run Sunday night. Down the main drag on the island to Kure Beach and back in the dark. Been fighting a head cold and sometimes the best response I can summon against it is sort of like one big bleep you... I'm going to strap on my shoes and go blast a few miles.

Was the first time I had run hard in a month since Iron Mountain. The old sensations return quick; the tightness in the chest, lactic acid in the legs... the visuals of things whizzing by a little quicker than normal. Even at night. Finished a little under 34 minutes. Passed a young lady twice out running near Kure Beach... could hear music from her ipod. The waves crashing onto the beach as I ran the boardwalk by downtown KB struck some undefined chord deep within. I knew I was where I was supposed to be. 

Easy 3.5 Tuesday enjoying the over grown vegetation of the inner island trails and the pleasant, gay warmth of the autumn sun. Thoughts of nothing in particular. Flowing.

7.5+ again by day on Wednesday, taking the inner island trails into housing developments that lead me down past Kure Beach towards Fort Fisher. Not letting a cold lay me up. Knocking out 8 minute miles with not a whole heck of a lot of effort, though fighting a bit a headwind on the way back.  5 in and out sprints by the CB Lake. First time doing since August. Gradually upping the mileage and incorporating speed. But trying not to be in a hurry with any of it.

Enjoying the basics.