Friday, June 29, 2012

Hitting the Benjamin Mark

Yesterday's six miler saw me achieve a major goal of mine. I crossed the century mark, 100 miles, for the first time in a single month. Somehow the idea of laying down 100 miles in a month really inspired me. My guess is that I knew it would require me to run when I was tired and to commit to my running schedule in a way that I hadn't in the past.  And, it would require me to turn off all the How I Met You Mother repeats, which I need to do because Ted's been dragging this crap on for way too long!  Anyway, over the last three weeks I watched only 3 hours of TV and half of that was Enter The Dragon on Netflix, which shouldn't count because Bruce Lee films are High Art, and I'll brake out all my mad Nunchuck skillz from 1986 on anyone, who dares argue otherwise! 

But I digress, hitting the century mark was a big deal for me because I knew it would force me to run when I was tired, sore, sleppy, and wanted to do nothing more than roll around on the floor a bitch about how I was FAB (Fu@ked at Birth). Over the last month, I've stayed on course and as the days progressed I got more and more use to the routine. I realized that I have need to push myself more for a long time now and that after laying down these 100 miles, neither of my legs is going to fall off. So, next month looks like it might just be a 120+ month, if I don't melt from all of this 100 degree heat!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Two Day, Fifteen Mile, Festival of Sweat and Pain

Summer has hit here in NC.  We have had a few previews during the spring but avoided any sustained heat through most of June.  But, our luck seems to have run out and now everyone is going to suffer and sweat.  I am in the process of going for my first 100 mile month and have benefited a lot from the mild weather.  Thursday mornings sweat-fest provided me with all the warning that I needed to know that Saturday and Sunday's runs would be brutal.

Hiroko decided to join me at Umstead on Saturday morning.  She did a 3 mile power walk while I ran a 5 miler. My legs were unusually stiff when I started my run.  It was an odd sort of stiffness in my lower legs, which I attribute to switching to a standing desk at work (No, I don't own a Mac, a Prius, or run in Vibrams,  but the standing desk trend is something that makes a lot of sense to me).  The pictures below are all from Saturday's 5 miler and give an idea of heat and mugginess of the morning.  The are no pictures of Sunday's 10 miler and trust me, you wouldn't want to see them if there were!  On Saturday, the stiffness abated right around the 3.5 mile mark, but before that I wore a freakish scowl of pain for most of the run that just added the pièce de résistance to my appearances.  

I made sure to get up early for Sunday's 10 miler, and I started nearly an hour earlier than I have over the last few weeks in a vain attempt to avoid the heat.  My legs were sore, but I thought that the would be worse because I had spent 4 fours driving Saturday to meet some family members, who were traveling thru NC on their way back to WV.  But, my legs weren't as bad off as I feared at the start of my run.  By three miles I had turned into a sweaty mess and the run was beginning to turn painful.  I was glad to reach the midway point because it meant I was committed to 10 miles, but it also meant that the worst of the hills were rapidly approaching.  The hills of Umstead Park suck under normal conditions, but they are even worse when your shoes are filled with sweat and you're being chased but three horse files.

Luckily, shortly after I climbed the worst part of the hills I was able to pass of my horse files to a couple of interval runners.  I felt a little bad about it, but since there were two of them, they stood a better chance than I did.  The last 2.5 miles hurt and left my legs screaming, but I did them and completed my run, which gave me 26 miles for the week and 106 miles over the last 30 days.  At the end I could ring out my shirt and most have lost a good two or three pounds during the run if not more.  I spent the rest of Sunday attempting to re-hydrate and rest my legs. 
post 5 miler
Soaked in Sweat
Yep, ringing out the sweat.
After meeting up with Hiroko

BTW: we're having a boy! 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

You'll Never Know Until You Open the Door or Building the Active Runner Dad -- Greg.1 part IV

I thought  that my morning run was going to be a disaster.  All the signs were pointing a real slug-fest.  I had slept hard and didn't even hear my alarm going off at 4:30 until my wife woke me.  I stumbled and teetered around for several minutes before I could figure out what planet I was on.  After I realized that I was still on Earth, the reset of my reality seemed to fall into place, and I knew that it needed to get ready for my run.  I wanted to go back to sleep, but the idea of an afternoon run in mid-June was all the motivation that I needed, so I stumbled to the shower. 

I didn't open my front door until 5:45am.  What did I do in that hour and fifteen minutes, you ask?  DREAD MY RUN.  My legs were heavy, mouth was dry, nose was runny, and I was just all out of sorts.  I kept thinking of my five mile course and no part of it looked good.  In my mind, The hills looked bigger and each intersection more busy than the last.  The closer that I got to getting ready the worse I felt.  I got my body glide and deodorant confused, my cats was wanting to play, and my socks were AWOL.  Still, I knew that I need to do this run.  The dread would only compound if I went back to bed and tried for an evening run.  I couldn't decide if I wanted to take my water bottle and debated with myself for a good seven minutes, then filled it up with ice and water, only to change my mind and leave it.  I felt like an ass . . . an ass with shoes that weren't broken in enough.  It's bad enough to feel like an ass, but to feel like an ass with shoes that are guaranteed to cause blisters is the worst.

Putting on my blister makers, I knew that I was making a mistake.  I had to use the restroom, so I took off my unbroken shoes and went to the restroom for the third time.  Afterward, I put on my sole busters, pick up my Old Bob, who already had signal (thank you skylight), turned on my I-pod: Broken Bells -- I planned on listening to the whole CD.  Then, I opened the door and instantly everything went from wrong to right.  The air was cool, the streets were quiet, and my legs felt good.  When I began running, I felt like I was running upright and solid.  My shoes still weren't broken in and I knew that at least one blister was unavoidable, but everything else was fine.  In fact, it was more than fine.  It was going to be a good day dammit! 

Lesson for The Active Runner Dad is that worrying about is often much worse than doing it.  You have to be willing to go outside and face whatever the day has in store for you or your doomed to a lifetime of failure and frustrations.  I know that the isn't rocket science and that man other folks already understand these things, but unfortunately, I have not been one of these people in the past.  Far too often excuses have won out and I have gone back to bed rather than opening up the door to face the day.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Running Has Re-Kindled My Olympic Flame

The Olympics were huge for me as a child.  I grew up during the Era when the Games only took place once every four years because both the summer and winter games were held in the same year.  They only thing that I remember from the 1980 Winter Olympics was the craziness following The Miracle on Ice, but I'd be lying to say that I understood the importance of the event or even cared.  I was seven, and the Empires Strikes Back, which was coming out later that spring was about the only thing that cared about.  And, the summer games taught me the word boycott and that there was a place called Afghanistan.
Sam the Olympic Eagle

However, by 1984 all that had changed.  I watched nearly every moment that I could of the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo.  I couldn't get enough.  The US vs. USSR during the last days of the cold war made every event an issue of national pride.  My passion for the games hit a zenith in the summer of '84 with the game in LA.  The Olympic Torch ran through my town and I still remember like it was yesterday how our teachers lead us out of class at Fleming middle school, and we walked to Fairmont Ave. to watch the torch being passed off from one runner to another.  I am sure that every kid  dreamed that one day they might carry the torch; I sure did.  Once the games came around, and the US was dominating due to the boycott each day brought more reasons to celebrate, until August 3rd, when everyone in my little town of Fairmont, WV huddled around there TV to Mary Lou Retton, a girl from our town, bring home the gold medal in the Women's all-around with a perfect 10 on her vault.  The next day, you could not buy gold ribbon anywhere in North-Central West Virginia. Everything and everyone in town had gold ribbons attached to it, and I could never imagine that my love for the Olympic games would ever fade, but it did.  By 1988, I was in my teens and it just wasn't the same.  Then the USSR broke up and the Eastern Block fell apart, so the games were no longer a cold war battlefield.  By the 90's I was all into grunge music and professionals were playing causing controversies about, which sporting brand Micheal Jordan would or wouldn't wear and the Reebok Dan vs. Dave marketing bust.  And, could just care less about anything other Pearl Jam Ten and girls.

Over the years, my interest in the Olympics has ranged from minor to please stop talking about Nancy Kerrigan, Tonya Harding, French Gymnastics Judges, New Winter Events, the age of Chinese gymnasts, and anything to do with Dream Teams or Steroids!  However, over the last few years my transformation from non-runner to RunNERD had brought the Olympics back into my consciousness.  I've been devouring all the information that I can find on the US Tack & Field Team.  Of course, my focus is mostly on the Marathon, where I think that either Desiree Davila or Shalane Flanagan could end up shocking the world and bringing home the gold.  As for the men, I haven't pegged my hopes to any one of the American yet because I think that all three have the potential to run a great race.  For the first time since I was 10 or 11 years old, I am eagerly anticipation the games thanks to running, and more importantly running and the Olympics is allowing me to revisit a joy filled part of my life that I had mostly forgotten.  I know these Olympic Games won't feel like it did in '84, but 2012 doesn't have feel 1984 for me to enjoy the games.  What is important is that for the first time in a long time, I feel the spirit of the Olympics.

BTW: does anyone else remember Animal Olympics?  I loved that cartoon movie . . .

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Cinderella Effect

Once Upon A Time . . . I attended a wedding dressed as Little Red Riding Hood along with my wife, who came as The Big Bad Wolf.  One of my college roommates was having his wedding on Halloween and asked that everyone dress in costume as literary figures.  The Groom was Julius Cesar from Shakespeare with his groomsmen dressed as Centurions. The Bride was Titania from A Midsummer Night's Dream with fairies for bridesmaid.  Everyone had their costumes approved before the wedding, so that there was a good mix of characters in attendance such as  the Phantom, Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, and a Samurai Warrior, who performed the services.  It was very memorable wedding, and everyone seemed to think that I pulled off Little Red Riding Hood really well.  The bride was especially pleased that I had gone all out and embraced the spirit of the occasion. 

 But, no matter how well I pulled off Little Red Riding Hood at that wedding, I seem to be connected to another fairy tale figure in my running life, Cinderella.  My semblance to Cinderella isn't because of my on going quest to find shoes that will accommodate my size 15EE foot but because all of my runs after a certain hour turn into major pumpkins!   Over the last year, I have run almost exclusively in the mornings.  Occasionally, one of these morning runs will turn into a real slug-fest, but on average, the morning hours are a good time for me to run.  I've also been known to step out for a lunch time run on occasion, and those runs seem to be pretty good.  However, over the last few months, I began running a bit more later in the day in an attempt to take advantage of a very mild spring.  Over these evening run I have come to realize that when I run after 5 O'clock, my running fairy tale turns from the bright sun shinny Disney version to the dark and sinister fairy tales of the Brother's Grimm.  I had a fant-abulously cheerful 5 miler on Tuesday that was as cheerful as The Seven Dwarfs marching through the forest singing Hi Ho . . . But, Yesterday's after work 6 miler was felt like the Troll from Billy Goats Gruff (my favorite fairy tale when I was a kid) was trying to stop at every turn.  The odd thing is that this Cinderella Effect doesn't seem to apply to afternoon gym workouts.  Luckily, the solution to this problem is so clear that any child could point it out, get up early and run in the morning when life is still a Grand Ball.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

2012 Running of the Bulls 8k: A Tale of Two Races

looking Smurf-tastic at this year's Running of the Bulls
I just read over my 2011 Running of the Bulls 8k  race report and two things stuck out in my mind about that race: I enjoyed the race immensely and it was a turning point in the way I ran.  Sometime shortly after completing the the 2011 Running of the Bulls, I realized that I was half-assing it in races and I need to run all out or not run at all.  Following the race, I lost most of the summer to a sever flu and the onset of Asthma, which stemmed from it.  After regaining my health and learning how to manage my Asthma, I began training for a series of half Marathons, and with the lessens that I learned following last years Running of the Bulls 8k, I have managed to break nearly all of my PR's from 2011 (the one exception being the 10k, which would have also fallen if not for a course measurement error).  The 2011 Race taught me that I would never be happy with myself if I ran a race afraid to give it my all.

When I began signing up for spring races this year, the Running of the Bulls 8k was the one race that I knew I wanted to run.  Not only did I want to run it, but I wanted to Monster it.  In a many ways it became my goal race for the spring.  Running it, was more important to me than running any of the Half Marathons for which I had registered.  I think that I was among the first 5 people to sign up for the race, and I had literally been checking the website for days in advance waiting for the registration to open up.  I ran The half Marathon in Pittsburgh on May 6th, then left the rest of the weekends open to recover an prepare for the Running of the Bulls on June 2.  At Pittsburgh, I had a blast on the course interacting with the crowd, which made the experience that much more fun, so despite my desire to crush the Running of the Bulls, I also wanted to have fun with the race.  Luckily, I was able to do both.
Last Year: I'm in orange and half-assing it.


The Race:

This year just past the two mile mark.
I kept the importance of this race to myself for the most part. I just spoke about how much I enjoyed it last year, how it is so well organized, that the 8k is my favorite distance, and that the course and volunteers are awesome.  Last year, Hiroko could not attend the race, but her co-worker and his son had also run the race and enjoyed it as well, which made Hiroko want to attend this year all the more.  Because to her pregnancy, Hiro opted not to run, since she has only run in one 8k in the past.  I didn't set any time goals for the race, nor did I bother to look up my 8k PR before I left home.  I had already made up my mind as to how I was going to run the race.  I didn't want go out like a mad man and blow up by the third mile, but I wanted to feel the hurt through this race and push past it.  I wanted to run the race on the edge and not hold back.

Mile 1:  The first mile begins on an up hill (that I didn't remember being steep, but my memory must have been foggy) then turns on to a straight nearly flat stretch of Main St. right through the heart of Downtown Durham before turning into a residential area .  I ran up it hard, waved to Hiroko as I passed her, but was having some breathing issues as I made the first turn.  I was able to get my breathing under control and even out my pace before we turned into the residential area. Mile 1 in 2011 -- 9:24, Mile 1 in 2012 -- 8:25.

Mile 2:  The second mile is in residential areas, it has a nice downhill then an uphill and turn before ending at the first water stop right in the middle of the hill and next to the old Durham Balls Athletic Park where the film Bull Durham was shot and which we run through to the finish line at 3rd base.  I was feeling good at this point of the race but was pushing my pace to a point where I wasn't comfortable with my ability to maintain this speed for the duration of the race.  The downhill was welcome, but instead of slacking, I forced myself to push the issue and continue running strong into the hill.  I passed through the water stop without getting anything.  The weather was perfect: cool with a light breeze.  I didn't need water and could see both a brightly clad group of supporters and Hiroko just ahead.  So, rather than slow down I continued to push my way up the hill.  Mile 2 in 2011 -- 8:53, Mile 2 in 2012 -- 8:15.

Great Supporters!
Mile 3:  The third mile begins in the midst of a hill the turns onto another flat straight downtown road that eventually turns into a small but steep hill before turning left and into a long down hill that leads to the new Durham Balls Athletic Park and the Historic Tobacco District.  Last year, I struggled a bit in this portion of the course, so I wanted to keep my focus this year.  I was running well and had no issues as I made my way toward the small hill before the turn and downhill.  I kept my pace well on the hill and forced my legs to keep churning on the downhill despite a burning sensation in my quads from the climb.  As I made my way to the DBAP, I remembered that I felt like the wheels came off of last year's race right at the Three mile mark.  Mile 3 in 2011-- 9:19, Mile 3 in 2012 -- 8:29.

Mile 4: The fourth mile goes up a long slow gradual incline before snaking its way through a couple of parallel streets along the railroad tracks and leading back to Main St.  Last year, I lost my focus during this portion of the course and took this portion of the course way too easy.  I was determined not to do the same this year.  I kept pushing hard and was beginning to struggle with my pace.  Just before the four mile mark I decided to go all in and keep pushing, I didn't feel like I was going to puke or pass out, so there was no reason to back down.  I could fell a swell determination fill me up.  I could tell that this was the point in most races where I back off and play it safe, but I wasn't going to back down today.  Mile 4 in 2011-- 9:30, Mile 4 in 2012 -- 8:31

Near the 4.6 Mile mark
Hiroko and I following the race.
Mile 5:  The fifth mile (or .99 to be exact) went back down Main street then turned down the hill we had climbed at the beginning of the third mile before turning on to another downhill that led into the baseball stadium in right field, along the outfield warning track then down the left field foul territory to the finish at third base.  I began to pick up my pace even more as we turned onto Main Street again.  I had run the last four miles just the way that I wanted to going into the race. and I wasn't going to waste it now.  My chest and right side began to tighten and I could feel a side stitch beginning to form but chose to keep pushing. As we turned onto Morris Street leading back to the old DBAP and the finish, some people in cars stuck in traffic began to angrily honk there horns at the runners and police officer that was holding traffic.  I turned to them and waved my arms and yelled. "thank you for your support!"  This amused both the officer and the runners around me, but it also seem to work out the side stitch as well.  I continued to pick up my pace, collected a few high 5's from the brightly clad cheer girls that we had passed on our way of the hill at the two mile mark, waved to Hiroko as I passed her, and turned towards the stadium.  I began a head long sprint once I got in the outfield, but had to ease up a bit as not to lose my footing on the loose gravel warning track as I made the turns in the outfield.  I was breathing heavily and incapable of sprinting any more by the time I crossed the finish.  Mile 5 in 2011-- 8:22, Mile 5 in 2012 -- 7:40. I had done it!  I ran the race a close to the edge as I could and had crushed both last years time of 45:08 and my 8k PR of 42:58 with a time of 41:21.

The Race was awesome!  Well organized, perfect weather, and a result that I am very pleased about.  I can't wait to run it again next year.  I would like thank the Bull City Running Company for putting on yet another great race!  The Running of the Bulls 8k will always be a race that I have a great deal of fondness because of the lessons I've learned while running it. 


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Pictures From the Running of the Bulls 8k 6-2-12

Here are some pictures that my wife took at the 6.2.12 Running of the Bulls 8k in Durham.  Please help yourself to any of the images on here.  

Just After Two Mile Mark:

 4.6ish Mile Mark and Finish (Two Mile Mark and 4.6ish Mile Marks were at same location, but opposite Direction)

Everyone really enjoyed the support from these girls!

Anthony running barefoot

Paul & Dylan running together

The largest smile of the day!