Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Last Long Run Before My First Half and Understanding My Need: 10/8

I began my training program for this half marathon nearly 10 weeks ago, and the whole process seem daunting, and my reasons for deciding to run a half marathon in the first place had become somewhat muddled.  I had been sick and was beginning to have doubts concerning my need to run.  I kept asking myself why I felt so compelled to run and what was I hoping to prove to myself.  I never doubt that I would return to running.  In fact, being able to run again was nearly all that I thought about.  However, the thing that I was trying to ask myself was other than the obvious health benefits, why did running matter so much to me.  I thought about what running meant to me and why I felt this deep seeded need, but I couldn't to come up with an answer that satisfied me.  Eventually, as I began to feel better and started my training program, the question faded from mind for the most part.  That is until this weekend when I returned home from my final long run and turned on my computer to upload the data from my Garmin.  As I waited for my data to transfer, I noticed the internet headline that Al Davis, the owner of the Oakland Raiders had passed away.  As many of you may no, I am a life long Raiders fan, and I bleed Silver and Black.  Mr. Davis was the Raiders.  It is that simple.  And, he was a man, who I respected a great deal for a multitude of reasons both football related and not.  Rather than giving you a the same litany of reason why he was a great man that have been shared over the weekend or share the multitude of reasons why I admired the man, I've decided to keep them to myself.  My reasons are mine, and I truly cherish them.  I take pride in supporting and identifying with the organization that Mr. Davis spent his life building.

Now, one may wonder "what does this have to do with running?"  Well, after a very emotional Sunday, I lay in bed and tried to go to sleep, but I began to think about life, death, and the nature of our existence on this big blue world of ours.  It was then that I realized that I haven't had any instances of night terrors in months.  I don't really talk about it much (and who would), but I've had night terrors periodically throughout my life.  Mostly, they have been centered upon thoughts of death or feelings of overwhelming dread.  For anyone who doesn't know about night terrors here is what Wikipedia has to say:  

"A night terror, also known as a sleep terror, incubus attack, or pavor nocturnus, is a parasomnia disorder that predominantly affects children, causing feelings of terror or dread, typically occur in the first few hours of sleep during stage 3 or 4 NREM sleep. Night terrors should not be confused with nightmares, which are bad dreams that cause the feeling of horror or fear. An estimated 1-8% of children have at least one night terror in their life but have no memory of the occurrence"

Ok.  I am a child.  A giant child.  Well, no not really.  And my night terrors were never the nature of a violent fit or any thing you might have seem on tv.  I would just wake up and be seized by this overwhelming sense of dread..  I would be overwhelmed by it to the point that my heart would race and would feel like the wall were closing in on me.  I know that it sounds cliche, but that is truly the best way to describe the feeling.  I would want to scream just to snap myself out of it.  I can't really say that the source of these terror was a fear of death or the insignificance of human existence, but my mind often wandered to these subjects when these feels came upon me.  I think that my mind went to these subject because they seemed like the only subject worthy of producing the type of dread that I felt, rather than vise versa.  I can't explain what would produce these attacks because I am generally a pretty positive person.  Nor, have I ever really talked about then with anyone till this very moment.  And, I wouldn't be talking about them if not for the passing of Mr. Davis.  Sunday night, I start thinking about all of those big questions, but there wasn't any dread, which isn't surprising because, like I said earlier that isn't really how it works.  But it got me to thinking that I haven't had one instance of night terrors in a long time.  I could even really remember the last time I've had it happen in the last year, and immediately, I understood why I need to run. 

It was so clear and nearly a revelation.  Running is my mechanism by which I process the world.  I don't know how it is for anyone else but while I am running my mind churns more than my legs ever could.  My brain just goes into over drive and bounce from one random subject to the next thing to the next until by the end of a run I feel mentally wrung out.  Some people call it me time, but it isn't that selfish in nature.  At least I don't think about it in that manner.  It is just that running allows me to put my body in to the rhythm it needs to stimulate my, normally screwed up, little brain into working correctly.  Simple as that.  That is my need for running in a nutshell.  Distance, speed, times . . . none of those thing matter.  I just need the process.

9 Miles 1:29:11 9:54

1 10:42
2 9:34
3 9:21
4 8:56
5 9:47
6 10:34
7 10:56
8 10:03
9 9:14


  1. Running from terrors us a good reason to run. Lucky you found yours. I'llbet there's more dimensions to it than that though.

    RIP mr. Davis. As much as I detest Raider Nation (My beloved Dodger stadium is overrun with RN), football is better when the Raiders are on their game.

  2. Please don't get me wrong. I am not running away from anything. It is just that I process things much better when I am running. I guess you might say that it is my form of meditation.

  3. Well stated Greg. I run for a litany of reasons but it's really more about sanity than it is about health. If I didn't enjoy running I couldn't force myself to do it for health reasons. I often mark in my training log that it was a "therapy" run. Sometimes I run to punish myself (running with the thought that I should keep going until I literally can not keep going).

  4. Greg, right there with you! I have had several days where suppose to be easy three milers, but I've been so frustrated with myself for the way I have handled my non-running life that it turns into a form of penance or personal atonement.

  5. So sorry for the loss of Mr. Davis, I heard that and immediately thought of you.
    Running is different for everyone, but glad you are seeing many benefits to include the decrease of night terrors. I am with you about the process it helps me to sort things out.

  6. Jessie,

    Thanks. It is really difficult for me to put in words just how much Al Davis meant to me. I think that for so many of us Raider fans we are drawn to the team because the Raiders have an identity like no other organization in sports. And that identity is 100% derived from Mr. Davis. I would in no way say that he wasn't a flawed man. I know too much about him to deny his flaws. But, I also know for more about what he stood for, the loyalty and love that he to the people around him, and his unwavering willingness to do the right thing because it was the right thing to do. One small example: Leon Bender was a kid that the Raiders drafted in 1998. He has a seizure and died shortly after signing his contract but before he ever played or put on the Raiders uniform. Al Davis honored the contract and never publicized it in anyway. That is one of many many examples of why I loved Al and why I am proud to support his organization.