Friday, January 30, 2015

New vistas

Lehigh River corridor in Eastern Pennsylvania

I think in order to run fast we need to learn how to run slow. This thought came to me as I was out on a slow paced recovery run on Wednesday. The last few years I have paid more attention to the overall aspects of recovery and how it affects our ability to become better runners. 

Looking forward to advancing ahead on my Vision Quest. New adventures, new dawns... dreams undreamed. Taking the roads less traveled.

This thing keeps me humming internally. Its a big reason why I get up in the morning. Challenging myself to see how good I can become not only as measured by the clock... but by what can't be quantified inside of me. Pushing up against and through boundaries I never knew existed.  New vistas stretching in all directions.  Whispers on the wind.

Wishing upon falling stars.

Living on the knife's edge at times. Physically. Physiologically.

Storing energy up inside of me. Letting it ooze out like sweet summer sweat on a long run through the woods. Planning trips. Eyeing races. Smiling sublimely like a wise idiot as it all continues to unfold. Believing in magic. And the kindness of strangers.  Realizing I'm not much different from the animals I see some days. Communing. Moving forward.

One step at a time.

Monday, January 26, 2015

15K PR

WRRC I Baroque Something

Ran the 2nd annual Beethoven 15K in Leland on Sunday. Clocked it at 58:22 which broke my PR in the distance by over two minutes. Though my garmin had the course at 9.15... but my PR time was also measured short as well.  Still even if short its a sub sixty minute 15K which was a far reaching goal of mine.  Helped the team I was on come in second place, and also placed as top Master's runner.

Apprehensive going into the race as I've been feeling the affects of higher blood pressure of late. By-product of the work environment I had been in the past several years, plus a lot of self created stress. But if God wants me to keel over during a race or while out for a run who am I to argue with his master plan... plus I'll go out doing something that I love.

Though that's not quite the attitude and outlook I took once I got to the starting line on a crisp, but sunny winter morning. Plan was to run the fist mile a little under seven minutes and try to gradually bring down the pace from there. Initially as I checked my garmin I started at a pace in the I backed it down a notch or two, yet still went through the first mile in 6:45.  Which was a little faster than I would have liked to... but I felt good so I didn't let it concern me too much. By the third mile I was down close to a 6:30 pace...which was ahead of schedule.  But again I felt pretty good so I just tried to keep it rolling.

Which I did. It was one of those races that I got the sense early on that I was going to have a good race. How exactly that would translate time wise I wasn't sure. But it's just that intuitive feeling we as runners sometimes experience in the earlier stages of an event. And boy its a beautiful feeling as well, for it can be elusive and for reasons somewhat unknown, does not always occur even after good periods of training and good short term race preparations.

Or as I've written before, some days the running Gods smile on us.

So then the middle and latter stages of the race become an exercise in sustaining the good works already laid forth. Telling myself over and over just keep it together... just maintain. Hold the pace. Steady. Smooth. Run through it. Count off the miles. Count off the tenths of a mile. Keep repeating your prayers. God grant me the ...

Some of the best races I've ever had, similar to yesterday, is when I know I'm going to have a good time (and/ or overall place) if I can just keep it together and maintain through the finish line. 

Seeing that clock up ahead with forty, fifty meters to go at 58:xx............................

Giving thanks afterward.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Rambles in the Woods

Meandering fourteen plus mile run today. Mostly on the state park trails.  Ran some hills again by Sugar Loaf  while trail blazing. Took some hills yesterday fairly hard, alternating between the front, shorter, steep trail section of Sugar Loaf... the deep, sandy back side by the Cape Fear River... and the longer, winding approach that comes up a trail from the one side. Dry heaved once or twice at the top. Yak. Good stuff.

Saw an egret today along an out and back trail that predominately parallels the Cape Fear River. Its snow white plumage striking against the backdrop of winter browns and dull greens in a swampy area. Stopped on top of a small footbridge to look at some sea foam stuck in the backwaters. And wondered how it got there. But there were small waves rippling along the surface of the river... as the winds drove down fairly steady from the unforgiving, cold North.

Caught sight of a few deer as well in a denser vegetated part of the park. Four or five of them scattered abruptly when they saw and heard me... heading for cover deeper into the woods. Sometimes I feel a little bad when I disturb them. I'm traipsing through their home.

Got a little cold and damp... hungry and thirsty too during the latter stages of the run. Plus I had a little canyon fever off the marked trails. Poor me I even hollered a little at God to help me out. I apologized later. I told my friend Corey I didn't think of slitting my throat like persons have been known to do in the Copper Canyons. Truth be told I was not in a canyon. But the sandy little hills all started to look the same...

The sun came out during the way back on the roads home... I picked the pace up and ended the run strong. Another good long run... well over two hours on my feet. After which I ate and drank. Was quite refreshing after an honest day's effort.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

More miles & a little pain

My calves were killing me the last few miles of an eight mile run with my Dad in Shallotte Sunday. Running on the grass of people's front lawns by the road helped alleviate the pain a little. I told my Dad at the end of the run if he had wanted to go for a ninth mile he was on his own.

Training harder these days brings about a greater risk for injury as well as more attendant aches and pains. Its part of the process and the risk any runner takes when increasing their output. A well worn analogy in regards to over training and injury is a person reaching into a dark stove ... you know you've touched the flame when you feel your hand starting to burn.

But I've been using my massage rolling stick more not only on my calves but my hamstrings and IT bands. Also doing some light stretching most days.

Ran the five mile Brierwood loop Saturday bringing down the pace all the way to 6:04 the last mile. Digging in and gritting my teeth . Continuing to mix in some tempo and speed along with all the mileage... as most base building training plans I've read suggest doing.

Took Monday off. Try to do as little as possible on my feet or with my legs on days that I not only scheduled to take off... but that my body tells me I need a rest day as well

Today (Tuesday) and it was back to the Carolina Beach State Park... eleven miles total on the trails. Mentally putting together courses for Sunday's event with the WRRC. Last three with Patti who wants to run a ten mile race in April. Cloudy dreary, drizzly day... the woods are quiet and fairly still.  The camp sites are deserted.

Reading Born to Run again... thought about trail running scenes in the book and my own trail running in the present as I galloped along the single track trail by the Intracoastal Waterway.  Felt fortunate to have my own little paradise a mile or two from where I currently live.  Not all of us do.

Friday, January 9, 2015

A Cold Winter Day

It's cold today. I put on long pants, three shirts, a beanie and a pair of gloves but when I ran into that north wind blowing it was cold. The sky was a solid murky gray with no hint of a sun about to breach her dominion any time soon. The only thing to do is to get moving and know that eventually my body will warm up some.

Plus when I got into the Carolina Beach State Park I was sheltered to an extent from the wind. The good thing about real cold days is that there are usually not many other people on the trails... which was the case today.  In fact I only passed one person who was out walking their dog. We exchanged hellos.

I dropped down off the marked trail on top of Sugar Loaf hill and rambled along the Cape Fear River. There were small waves rippling from north west to south east across the water and towards the shoreline I was on. The wind off the river had an icy edge to it... but also made me feel acutely aware of my surroundings, and of the grip Mother Nature has on us on days like today. We are merely children beneath her breast.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The long run

Trying to stay vigilant with a weekly long run. Ran a half marathon this morning... first part of which was on the roads as I ran to the North End of Carolina Beach... then looped back around Snow's Cut Bridge and caught the trails by the Wildlife Boat Launch. Followed a narrow trail along the Intracoastal Waterway then merged with the State Park trail system. Been re -discovering the trails along the waterway the past few weeks... hadn't run them much over the course of the last few years (no particular reason). At a few points one has to be a bit more careful as a misstep could lead to a tumble down a steep sandy root strewn embankment and a roll into the water.

Sometimes I see egrets and herons perched on snags and downed trees that jut out into the gentle flowing waters. Or I catch site of a fisherman in a small boat.

Averaged a mid eight minute per mile pace sort of loping along and knocking out the miles. I tend to struggle a bit mentally on longer runs accumulating the mileage...or maybe more so just filling in the spaces in time that it takes to put down ten, fifteen, twenty miles. Physically its somewhat easier to deal with the increased fatigue and soreness in my legs, as well as in the upper body such as the neck and shoulders. But I tend to feel better as I get more and more of it knocked out especially as I get on the back side and in the last quarter of what I'm planning to do miles or time wise on a longer run.

Though there are those days when the miles and the time slip by almost imperceptibly like I'm floating through a pleasant dream in the midst of a deep slumber.  Or like sitting comfortably in church as the preacher weaves thru his Sunday sermon and the voices of the choir fill the room with lilting melodies from well worn hymns.

But also I ultimately appreciate finishing longer runs because they do require a bit of extra work not only physically, but mentally and spiritually as well.

A good friend once told me to work on my weaknesses. And in due time they can become strengths. Or if nothing else we fear attacking them a bit less than we did the week, month, or year before.

Monday, January 5, 2015

New Year

January. The miles are flowing. A lot of them back on the CB State Park trails, where the semi softness of the surfaces cushion the impact and force of every foot ball. I think I'd run just about every mile off road if I could. Taking the long view...

But I'm chalk full of contradictions so I went out a few days ago and put down a solid ten miler on the roads. And the short view of trying to pick up a little more speed on the asphalt. Plus its a different course that I hadn't run in several months. Was nice to reacquaint. I closed the last two miles @ 7 mins/ mile. Fluid and steady. Strong.

New Years Day and it was a meandering 12.7 mile run that took me into Kure Beach. I ran under a Happy New Years banner and past the detritus from the previous night's revelries. I'm the only one there. The solitude is pleasing to me. The views of the ocean are dazzling as always from my vantage running on the boardwalk. I decided to end the run running on the beach, up to the north end pier and back. I turned around literally under the pier. Was low tide so the sand was packed fairly firm where the ocean's waters had receded from.

More two a days. Late Saturday afternoon its a harder four miler on a familiar route which takes me on the inner island dirt roads... then ends with about one mile on the main road in Carolina Beach. I pictured it last Saturday as a scene in a race that's finishing on Lake Park Blvd... fans are lining both sides of the street... us racers follow behind a police car which leads us towards the lake and into the final turn before its one last sprint to the finish... the noise of it all is just one big swirling din in the womb of my mind.

All of which helped me finish my tempo run in a 6:08 mile as more rain began to fall... and the remaining light of the day faded into darker and darker shades of grey.

Happy New Years, here's to 2015.