Thursday, May 28, 2015

More runs and miles

Signed up to a run a 1500m on the track in Myrtle Beach next Saturday. Part of a meet that I will be coaching at. Decided this morning I need some "get down speed" to quote the fictional character Quenton Cassaday in Born to Run. Ran 10 x 200m at about 35 seconds but legs were just too fatigued to do more, and the mind was half checked out. Ran again at noon 5+ miles and got in 6 x 150 In/ Out sprints.

Going to cut the mileage going into next week. Also have a 4 mile race the night of June 11th in downtown Wilmington. Been running a harder average pace on most of my runs the past few weeks, while also accumulating a solid chunk of miles. Might be some kind of coping with grief mechanism... just seems more natural to go harder. Bash and bash some more. Throwing the rule back out a little.

Though there are days where I swear my legs respond to being in motion. Like they are returning to some primitive, natural state. Where it all just seems to flow. And I can get semi-fatigued but never too tired.

Up in Pennsylvania two weeks ago to say goodbye again to my Mom. And of course I ran. Got in as much as I could. 10 + miles that Saturday morning, weather in the upper 50s and raining. In fact pouring at times. Wailing on up and down the hills. Running with ghosts of the past. Floating around familiar bends on country roads. Flying down alley ways in my old hometown. Yesterdays long forgotten spring to life for a few fleeting moments... if I reached out I  swear I could touch them.

Ran into (almost quite literally) and old friend from high school. She was out on a 13 miler. Had run the Pittsburgh marathon a few weeks ago. We chatted amicably in the rain. I forgot that my hands were getting a bit numb.

Then 7 miles hard on the Towpath that evening. Out onto the single track trail that winds thru the valley up to Jim Thorpe. Was sunny, muggy and hot then. I pushed the pace and enjoyed it. Beautiful scenery. Like being cut off from the World. Came upon a bunch of people out walking, kind of looked like some sort of Outsiders. Couple, adults, kids. They all said hi, friendly. A girl asked if I was sweaty. Kinship I think because at heart I'm an Outsider too.

9 more miles Sunday morning. Hills. More hills. Up and down. Then back on the road, in my car.

Monday, May 25, 2015

On and On

The humidity suffocated me a few times last week. Trying to run threshold miles on my lunch break when its 85 degrees out with an even a higher heat index. Like I told my Dad tonight, I don't care how good of shape you are in, it will chew you up and spit you out onto the asphalt.

But later last Thursday afternoon a quick storm blew thru the island and in its aftermath we were left with rain cooled temps and a drastic cut in humidity. Met my old friend Burt that evening as the sun came back out. We headed back into the Carolina Beach State Park and put down close to eight miles. Showed him my little hill circuit, and he showed me a way to cut from the end of a pier by the Cape Fear River back onto Sugar Loaf Trail. (included 2 'long jumps' to clear water that flowed up in between small sand bars and into the reeds.)

Talked about the good 'ol days and our epic trail runs all the way down the back side of the narrow island to behind the Armory. Out and back runs that took 3 hours or more. Changes in terrain, vegetation, into the woods, out of the woods, running by the river, around water towers and drainage ponds where gators live. Exploring the brick and cement ruins of the Dow Chemical Plant. Passing on tales of what they did there (made gas to unleash on the Germans in WWII ?).

Friday...lunch time run...and what a difference in weather from the past few days. I am able to get three miles in at threshold pace, negative splitting them in 6:23, 6:19, 6:09. Working hard, but cruising at times too. That empowering feeling of being in control of it. Dictating pace. Even dialing it back if need be.

Saturday and an early morning trek to Durham to coach with the Cape Fear Flyers. Rode up with my buddy and fellow coach Shawn. Russell slept in the back. 17 year old beast of a shot putter and discus thrower.  It was a sea of humanity at the stadium, white, black, young, old. And everything in between. I cheer, coach, record splits, finish times. Advise, counsel, fellowship. The kids are alright.

Two straight 70 mile weeks. Pain in my right foot ebbs and flows, and sometimes it tweaks my knee, but I run on and through it. I run, run, and run. Sometimes I don't think it matters why. Its something to ponder another day. Probably while I'm running.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Loose Thoughts

I like to think about pushing things to the extreme. Living on the edge running and training wise. Maybe it's wired into my DNA. For years I lived on the edge with the booze and the drugs. Maybe I don't know any other way. Or I feel more alive and like I have more of a purpose, a reason to be... when I am chasing IT into never never land.

Some would argue it's just a coping mechanism. Coping from what I would ask. Life, they'd answer. Or an escape. I think I like an escape better. Seems more proactive.

"The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom" wrote William Blake. Maybe he was a runner at heart.

Think of the word too, runner. We run. We cover ground. We are simultaneously moving away from things while moving towards something else. Our first coaches if we've run competitively tells us "don't look behind you".  But like Don Henley in The Boys of Summer video most of us have looked back.

So I think about what's next. It's wide open. Full of possibilities. I am bound only by the limits of my imagination. Free to dream. Free to dare. Free to explore.

I've been reminded of late how quickly all of that can change. A fellow coach and running buddy has a big electronic machine strapped to him at all times to monitor his heart. I saw him at mile 24 of a marathon he finished back in March. I thought about him and thought about how lucky and fortunate and how it cool it truly all is that I could get up and go out and race a 5K that Saturday morning. And I prayed that he'll be better soon. And I ran like hell.

And it clicked. The race Gods were with me. Like I said to Ron today when we were running down a trail in the state park... we can do everything right as runners going into a race and it can still go to shit less than half way in.

I closed a 5K in a 5:42 3rd mile Saturday. I may never do that again. Nobody knows. But I dam sure enjoyed it. And am damn grateful for all of this. Every step, every mile, every heart break, every triumph, every dream, every crazy thought.... every moment being involved with something that I love.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Post HS 5K PR

Ran the Teacher Trot 5K at Ashley HS (Wilmington, NC) in 18:00.5. Which broke my post high school 5K PR set back in 2010.  ((( and one of my former HS teammates back in the early 90s said "great job... but 17 something would've looked even better!"  ))).  A sense of humor in this sport is indispensable.

Training for the most part has been going well. Lesser mileage in April but more intensity. Adding in threshold runs and speed work on a weekly basis. Plus trying to stay diligent with the ancillary work on my core, and upper body strength. Resistance exercises such as sit-ups, planks, push ups, along some free weight exercises like arm curls.

Coaching kids in track 2, 3 times a week. Mix of runs with them. Had the pleasure today of racing with two them, and got to witness both of them set PRs. Owen in 19:36, and Paxton in 21:34 (which were awesome times for a 12 year old and 12 year old girl... plus they love the sport and are having a lot of fun).

Got to also race with my Dad today. Not too shabby himself, winning the 70+ male division with a time of 26:34. It was the first run together we've had since my Mom and his wife passed away earlier in April. The fact that my Mom started her career as a teacher made this race all the more sweeter. The awards included apples on top.

Happy running all. I cannot fully articulate how much this little sport of ours has meant to me the past few weeks. Onward we go.