Hiroko and I are still vacationing in Key West, so an in depth race report will have to wait just a bit longer. However here are a couple of before and after photos to give you all an idea of just how things went!
Thank you from the bottom of my dumb-ass heart. I am a F*$&ing idiot. No excuses. Had you, dear bus driver, splattered me all along Hillsborough Street this morning, it would have been entirely my fault. Granted, I was in a designated cross walk, but that was about the only aspect of my Super Dave Osborne-esquetemptation of fate that I got right. Normally, I am much more cautious and would never attempt to cross at an intersection that is clearly obstructed by trees, I would not have attempted to cross against the light, and I would have been wearing a effing blinky light! What got into me this morning you ask? A serious case of momentary lapse of reason is all I can figure. You see, I have a Half Marathon to run, which I understand that I can't run if I am busted all to hell and back because I lost a game chicken with a bus, but you see . . . my Achilles has been sore since Saturday and that is all I was thinking about. Well . . . not all . . . he is where I really feel like my frikin nincompoopery maxes out. And this my kindly bus driver is true! Not 15 minutes before I tested out my sprinting skill and your brakes, I ran past a guy dressed like the Frikin Grim Reaper! I know that you want to call bull-shit on this, but it is true. I would not shit a person, whose quick reflexes just saved me from accidentally pruning my own limb from my family tree.
It was before dawn and misting out. I was running past Smoker Friendly/Cigar Express gas station (google it if you think I am making it up) and out of the fog comes a guy dressed in head to toe black, wearing long flowing trench with a black hoodie underneath. His hood was up and his hands are gloved. When I first saw him walking towards me I thought "You've got to be kidding me. The Grim Reaper." But as he got closer I could feel my pace quicken and my heart beat faster. I couldn't make out his face as I passed, but really . . . . looking him in the eye was the last thing on my mind. I went past him and shortly got to my turn around point about a half a block down the street. When I turned around and headed back the way I had come, to my relief, Reaper dude was gone. Now, I at the time I didn't think that he step off into the ethereal plane or some shit like that. I thought that he just turned down a side street of crossed over to the other side of the road. But now, as I write this letter to my kindly Bus Driver, I am forced to wonder just a bit, if the reaper was doing a bit of scouting. Because, a mile a half later, even though I was looking both was as I began to cross the street, I did not see your ginormous "vehicle of mass transportation/express to the afterlife". Once again, this was entirely my bad and if it make you feel a bit better, I think I peed a little as I stared into your headlights.
Home today suffering through the aftermath of a bout of food poisoning. Yay. What a wonderful way to go into race week! I've also got a touch of Achilles soreness as well. But, I am hopeful that with some rest, stretching, and a good tape job, it will be fine come race day (crossing my fingers as I type).
Good news is that I am running well at the moment and feel confident that this will be a good race barring injury on the course or unforeseen calamity. I still had some major doubts and nerves when I took the line for my first half marathon, but this time I am, well to quote Tyler Durden, calm as Hindu cows.
Ok . . . maybe no that calm, but I feel good and have a much greater idea of what to expect from myself. My only worry is that this will be my first experience with a major destination race. And, just making it form my home to the starting line might be a bit exhausting.
As for expectations, I would like to run a sub 2 hour race and feel that I am very capable of hitting that goal. I would need to run around a 9:10, which I think is a very comfortable pace for me at the moment. I have worked on getting in better shape for this race and have lost somewhere around 7lbs since October 15th. I have also gained a some muscle. These changes are welcome and have added to my confidence. I have set PR's in both the 8k and 5k since November, so I am hopeful that this run will bring better than expected results.
I have already signed up for another Half in March as well as a 10 miler in April, so the next step will be to begin thinking about how I want to approach them. But, I'll wait to make any real plans until I see how this race goes.
I've been in a funk for the last week and have been struggling to stay motivated. The Miami Half is on short week away, but this week has just been a suck fest!
Wednesday the 18th, I got the bright idea to jump rope for 30 minutes even though I hadn't jump roped for a few weeks. My calf was super tight the next day, but I still forced myself to run my 6 miler. Afterward, I could hardly walk. I took Friday and Saturday off to let it rest up. Sunday I ran my 12 mile long run. Not smart. Monday off again. Tuesday failed to drag my ass out bed in the morning, felt like crap all day, work sucked, and I skipped out on most of my workout. Wednesday was worse! Skipped out on the gym altogether. Hated the world, life, and could muster the energy to do anything but sit in front of the TV and watch Hockey. Thursday morning I pulled a Lazarus and rose from the fucking dead . . . actually the Lazarus comparison isn't right . . .it was more like I had a Lindsay Lohan-esque moment of clarity and fleetingly pulled my shit together enough to run my morning 6 miler yesterday before work. But last night, I was back on the couch eating DiGiorno pizza and watching 4 straight hours of How I met you Mother. The low point came when I found myself reading the character backgrounds on Wikipedia. Honestly not sure how close I came to totally madness, but I am really thankful that I don't keep firearms, hunting gear, or renaissance fair equipment in our apartment!
When I went to bed, I thought that I had been through the worst of it and that the sheer joy of Friday's arrival would be enough to dislodge my sorry ass from the bed . . . but o-fucking-no, when my alarm went off at the ungodly hour of 4:20am, my first reaction was to go into full on Frankenstein Fire! Bad! Must . . . Smash . . . Shit . . . Now . . . mode and go back to bed. But after nearly destroying my alarm, as I lay there thinking what a waste of a human being I was . . . and a song came to mind. A glorious song of self loathing and hate. A song so annoying and ill composed that it forced me to get up from my bed and face this effing dread fest of a day. A song so stupid that it made me hate myself so much that my only options were to drown myself in the toilet bowl or go to the Y and workout. Some people use power mantras to motivate themselves, but they just don't work for me. No, I have to go all the way down through the The Rabbit Hole of self revulsion and today this song was what I found and brought back to the world with me! Enjoy!
I am sorry that I appeared to ignore you this morning. It was very early, and I wasn't expecting anyone to start up a conversation with me at 5am while I was in the midst of my run. I failed to realize that you were addressing me until you came staggering out into the street, and repeatedly greeted me by shouting what I think was "Hey, Brother Man!" Sorry that you had to repeat yourself over and over and get louder, you must have failed to notice that I was listening to my I-pod. I hope that didn't spill your drink (or cup of urine?) as you tried to catch up to me. Unfortunately, your unexpected appearance and the lurching nature of your unorthodox running style initially made think that the zombie apocalypse was upon us. Please forgive me, I have been watching way too much of AMC's The Walking Dead and Zack Snyder's Classic remake of Dawn of the Dead and must cut back. However, once I realized that you were capable of some form of speech and were not a "walker", I was suddenly reminded that I needed to get in some speed work. Since I am not that fluent in 'bum speak' I can only guess that as you staggered into the street and began to follow me that you were offering your services as a training partner, which I sadly had to decline. While I am certain that you are free of a performance enhance drugs, I am uncertain about about your regimen of performance inhibitors. Also, I know that as a heal striker, I should not point out the flaws in the way other people run, but I doubt that I could adapt to your weaving-stagger style of running. I just don't think that I am the right fit for you as a running partner. You need someone, who will appreciate your many personality quirks, like randomly falling down in the street or bursting into song mid run. And while I admire your dedication to the run, personally, I will stop if I feel the need to urinate or vomit and know that you will not let these bodily functions hold you back from anything. I am afraid that I am just not that hardcore and hope that you are able to find a suitable training partner.
"In an effort to record the year of his life leading up to the millennium, Jeff Harris began a project in which he used his trusty Olympic Stylus 35mm film camera (he’s since gone through six) to take a self-portrait each day and then posted the results on his website. The project, which began long before the widespread popularity of blogging, Facebook and Flickr, allowed viewers to follow one photographer along on his adventures. “I didn’t want 365 images of me sitting on the couch each day,” says Harris. “There could have been that tendency, especially during the cold dark winter months to stay inside all the time, but this project inspired me to get out there and seek out interesting things.” This year, Harris embarks on year fourteen of what has turned out to be an epic, inspired and ever-evolving art project that documents a life well lived.
The images range from completely solitary, auto-timed self-portraits to photographs inspired by a collaborative spirit with whomever Harris encounters on a given day. Regardless of the mood, location or activity at the center of any given image in the series, they all show a marvelously open and generous approach to both diaristically recording and sharing everything from intimate moments to athletic adventures with a wider audience. In fact, Harris evokes the full range of physical experiences a body can encounter: from mundane inactivity to joyful dives to his body being open on the operating table.
“I see no reason to not make a self-portrait each day,” the photographer says. “I’m always around and always free. It’s kind of like going to the gym—it flexes your muscles and keeps you in shape.”
Jeff Harris’s work was recently included in Auto Focus: The Self-Portrait in Contemporary Photography by Susan Bright published by Thames and Hudson.
Visit jeffharris.org to see the project in its entirety. Harris also has an interactive Journal that allows readers to submit writing about a day from their life. Their stories are juxtaposed with his self portrait from that same day."
After reading this story, I remembered a thought Thursday morning on my run. Since I began to run, I've come to know my city a lot better than I ever thought possible and to appreciate it in ways I never imagined. Anyone who knows me can tell you that I am am not in love with where I live. I have never felt like I fit in with Raleigh, and the idea of living in a major metropolis always pulls at me. I loved living right outside Tokyo and would live in a place like that again. However, it is just not in the cards for me to pick up and move at the moment. And, the idea of living my life in Raleigh based entirely upon the fact that my job is here, well . . . is kind of depressing. However since I have begun to run, Raleigh has become more appealing to me. After reading Jeff Harris's story it got me thinking out all of the interesting places that running has taken me over the last 18 months and all of the great things I have seen on my runs. I have shared a few on this blog, and this story has got me thinking that running got me outside not just physically, but mentally. Running has function for me in much the same way that Harris's photo project has for him. And here are just a few of the things that I seen and done thanks to running.
Past 5k Frustrations: The 5k has been a major source of frustration for me since I began running in June of 2010. It is my longest standing PR and has served as nagging reminder of a race that I would like to forget. In the 2010 Autism race, I went out way too fast, got a side stitch in the second mile, and had to stop running three different time over the last mile. The race was also the only time that I attempted to organize a charity team for a race, which was also a major failure. Somehow, I managed to Pull a 25:45 out of the wreckage, but it was bittersweet because the race was a train-wreck. Following that race, my running increased, but my overall weight and fitness were never really near the the level they need to be at to challenge that time. I was able to establish new times at other distances through pacing and increasing endurance, but the 5k is a different animal that requires you to maintain a sustained push throughout the race if you want to bring down your best times. I was never able to sustain the intensity of effort over 3.1 miles because I just wasn't in the right shape. Carrying an extra 10 to 15lbs around a 5k course is just a recipe for some sub par efforts that go like this: 25:59, 26:16, 26:19, 26:12, 26:10, 26:44, 26:37, 29:15 (ouch), 27:03. And, after so many flame-outs and busts, I really began to question if I would ever be able to challenge that old PR.
The Change: After running the Neuse River Run Half Marathon this October, I had to face up to the fact that I just wasn't going to become the runner or person that I wanted to be if I didn't change the way I ate and trained. Since that race, I have worked hard to better my eating habits and work harder at the gym. I have also been more accountable and not skipping workouts or avoided things like push ups and abs just because I hate them. The results have been fairly dramatic and visible in my clothes, the scales, and my energy level. The first indication that things were changing in my running came at the Ridgewood Turkey Trot where I shaved 39 seconds off of my 8k PR. Following that result, I decided that I would hit the gym even harder during the month of December, avoid all races, and do everything in my power to avoid holiday slacking and weight gain.
The Plan and the Change in Plans: My plan was to not enter another race until the Miami Half Marathon on January 29, workout or run six days a week, and focus on making healthy choices. I stuck to the plan until Noon on Friday January 6th, when the pull of a race became too strong and I decided to do a late registration for the Run for Young 5k that was being held the next day. I needed a race. I could feel it. And I was afraid the if I didn't run a warm up race that I would get over excited in Miami and red line the race.
The Race: I've run this course so many times in the past two years, and I always think that my knowledge of the stretch of Hillsborough street that runs from the NC State Bell tower to the Capital is going to work in my favor come race day. But, time and again it has crushed me. It looks so flat when you drive it, but anyone who runs it can tell you that stretch it is not at all flat at all and is a series of deceptive long and short inclines and declines that will sneak up on you if you not careful. The section of road between the Morgan Street traffic circle and the Bell Tower Traffic circle is my own personal running waste land.
Desiree Davila -- The X-factor: Right before I left for this race I read the first half or Desiree Davila Can Do It! - Runner's World and it put me in the mood to go out and crush something. I decided that I would leave my i-pod at home and just focus on running this race. By the time I reached the starting line I felt dialed in and focused.
Mile 1: Along Edenton Street right along side the Capital to until it merges with Hillsborough. There would be a nice down hill portion followed by a small up hill. I got out well and was able to avoid having to weave around at the start. I started out a bit slow, but fell into the pace I wanted within the first quarter mile. I didn't let myself get out of control during the downhill and kept my pace from falling off on the up hill. I reached the mile mark right near near the Morgan Street Traffic circle feeling great. I went right through the water station without even thinking about getting water. Mile 1: 8:06
Mile 2 -- into the wasteland: As soon as a passed by the Morgan street traffic circle, I knew that this part of Hillsborough street would either make me or break me. If I let my pace drop off or my stride shorten up as I made my way up the long slow incline to the Oberlin Rd. and Bell Tower traffic circles another race would bite the dust in the wasteland. As I approached the YMCA, I saw my pace beginning to slow, but my legs still felt great, so I passed the people near me who I had been pacing myself off against. They were slowing down on the incline, but I didn't feel the need to slow down. As I approached the turn on to Oberlin Rd and headed toward the smaller traffic circle, my calves felt a little tight. Nothing to worry about, I was wearing a new pair of shoes with a slightly lower heel than my old pair, but everything was still going really well. As I rounded the Oberlin Circle and headed into the Hillsborough Circle, I knew that I had a great chance at a PR because I hit the 1.5 mile mark in right around 12 minutes. The way back through the my wasteland was like it had never been before. It felt AWESOME. The YMCA was playing Kenny Loggin Footloose out the window as I passed by, I picked up my pace just a bit more. Mile 2: 8:07
Mile 3 -- planning for the kick: This is how good I felt going into the third mile: I knew that unless I had a breakdown, I was getting a PR. The question was just how big of one. I shot straight through the water station, said thanks the the volunteers, but didn't touch the water. My legs felt better than they have in a long time, and my breathing was doing well. A woman had huffed her way past me just before the water station, and I could hear the stark contrast in our breathing and knew that I would catch her on climb up Edenton street. As I made my way down Hillsborough Street the incline leading to St. Mary's school was nothing, the stretch of road past Char-Grill and Snoopy's was cake. All I could think about was once I went down the hill at Edenton Street, I need to maintain until the end of the climb just before the Capital, then pick up my pace, and kick the last 10th of a mile. I stayed in control on the down side of the hill, passed the huffing lady mid way up the hill, then picked up pace on the second half of the hill. There was no tightness in my legs and I knew that this was going to be a good day. Mile 3: 8:05
The Result-- I open up my stride and went headlong for the finish. I wanted an new PR. And, I wanted it to be a big one. The Gun time was 25:20 and my chip time was an AWESOME 24:43! 62 seconds off of my old PR! I would like to thank Desiree Davila