Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Driving The Course

I drove the course of the Hurricane Half this evening with the offspring. I'm not sure this was wise.

I've driven between our house and Zion National Park dozens of times, but I never scrutinized the road and path like I did this time. Truth be told, it scared the bejeebers out of me.

There were big hills going up. There were big hills going down. The road seemed to go on FOR EVEERRRRRRRR.

About half way through Jackson said "Can you really run this far and not pass out?" When we reached Hurricane High School where the race ends he said "Dad, I bet by the time you get this far you will feel like you are going to die."

I have to keep reminding myself that if I ran 11 miles I can do two more. The kids encouraged me to go as fast as I can so I can win the race. I'll consider myself a winner if I cross the finish line.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Ultra Marathon Man by Dean Karnazes

Thanks to some extended time in an airplane, I just finished reading a fantastic book by Dean Karnazes called Ultra Marathon Man. Definitely a must-read for any runner. Here are some of the best quotes from the book. I dare you to not be inspired.

Dean had a mental breakdown of sorts on the night of his 30th birthday and realized his life was going nowhere. Out of the blue he started running that night, and finally wore out after 30 MILES! Following this he said:
“And that’s how I became a runner once again. In the course of a single night I had been transformed from a drunken yuppie fool into a reborn athlete. During a period of great emptiness in my life, I turned to running for strength. I heard the calling, and went to the light.

“For weeks after my thirty-mile jaunt I was nearly incapacitated from muscle spasms and inflammation. But it was a good hurt, one that would make Coach McTavish proud. As I limped around my office, trying to appear natural, I remind myself that pain and suffering are often the catalysts for life’s most powerful lessons. A passion I’d ignored for half my existence had been serendipitously reignited in one all-night thirty-mile hullabaloo. The resulting ice packs and tubes of Ben-Gay were a small price to pay. Every devout runner has an awakening. We know the place, the time, and the reason we accepted running into our life. After half a lifetime, I’d been reborn.”

“Some seek the comfort of their therapist’s office, others head for the corner pub and dive into a pint, but I choose running as my therapy. It was the best source of renewal there was. I couldn’t recall a single time that I felt worse after a run than before. What drug could compete? As Lily Tomlin said, ‘Exercise is for people who can’t handle drugs and alcohol.’”

After mile 73 at The Western States Ultra Marathon: “Pain is the body’s way of ridding itself of weakness.
Wait a minute, I thought. What was it that Coach McTavish had said? “If it feels good, you’re doing something wrong. It’s supposed to hurt like hell.” Perhaps I was doing something right here. Perhaps I was actually purging my body of weakness. Instead of trying to suppress it, maybe I should relish the pain, celebrate it. Maybe I like pain…”

“Somewhere along the line we seem to have confused comfort with happiness. I’ve now come to believe that quite the opposite is the case. Dostoyevsky had it right: “Suffering is the sole origin of consciousness.” Never are my senses more engaged than when the pain sets in. There is magic in misery. Just ask any runner.”

“There’s really no mystery to what I do, however. It hurts me just as bad as anyone else. I’ve just learned an essential insight: your legs can only carry you so far. Running great distances is mostly done with your head…and, as Benner taught me twenty-five years ago, your heart. The human body is capable of amazing physical deeds. If we could just free ourselves from our perceived limitations and tap into our internal fire, the possibilities are endless.”

His stories of running 100+ miles are entertaining, funny, and inspiring. It’s amazing to me that he decided at age 30 to become a runner, and eventually became one of the elite athletes of the world.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

23 Weeks To Marathon

Monday, April 20th: 3 miles in 27 minutes. Morning runs = ugh. Late nights of watching basketball don't appear to be conducive to early morning runs.

Tuesday, April 21st: Rest. Except for the energy I expelled watching the Jazz playoff game.

Wednesday, April 22nd: 11 miles in 1 hour, 59 minutes. My friend and pro bono running coach Tom suggested I get in a 10 or 11 mile run before the Hurricane Half Marathon coming up next week, which I think helped prepare me as much psychologically as physically.

I got a later start on the run than I hoped, and left at about 8:15pm. Thankfully I took a flashlight because I did most of the run in the dark. I was nervous about the run for two days beforehand because my body was still really sore from Washington DC and I didn't want to injure myself. Thankfully things went better than I expected.

I walked for a minute every few miles and stretched out my legs which helped the knees. The only bad thing about the run was a half dozen chunky burps. I was shocked at how well I felt after running for two hours straight. Granted, I was sore and tired, but this was a small price to pay for the accomplishment I felt after going 11 miles.

Thursday, April 23rd: Rest. Watched the Jazz win their first (and possibly only) playoff game against the Lakers.

Friday, April 24th: 4 miles in 38 minutes. It was really hot outside when I ran and I got lightheaded a few times. Muscles were still tight from Wednesday's run.

Saturday, April 25th: 2 miles in 21 minutes on the treadmill. I planned to just ride the exercise bike today, but decided to run 2 miles instead to put my week's total at 20 miles. I feel like I'm in pretty good shape for the Hurricane Half next week, and am feeling a bit more confident that I won't die on the course.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Registered for Hurricane Half

It's official: I've registered for my first half marathon coming up......next week.

The motto of the Hurricane Half Marathon is "She's fast but she ain't easy."

I recall thinking the same thing when food poisoning was going through my system.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

24 Weeks To Marathon

Monday, April 13th: 50 minutes on treadmill. This was our first full day in Washington DC. After going to George Washington’s house Mt. Vernon and the Air & Space Museum during the day, Mel and I went to the Fitness Room at our condo in the evening. It was hot, muggy, and moist. I did lots of hills on the treadmill.

Tuesday, April 14th: Lots of walking between Smithsonian museums and the US Capitol. I packed my stomach full of a huge hamburger and greasy fries for dinner at 5 Brothers Burgers. Yum.

Wednesday, April 15th: Lots of walking between the Holocaust Memorial and museums. I replaced any calories I may have burned during the day by eating some scrumptious chili and corn bread at the Hard Times Café.

Thursday, April 16th: Mel and I went on a run along the waterfront of the Potomac River on the Mt. Vernon trail. The weather was beautiful, and it was a really well-maintained, paved trail. I’d guess we did about 5 miles.

Later, we visited all the different memorials along the National Mall. I was really impressed with how many runners there consistently were in this area. There were a few times that it looked like runners outnumbered tourists. Seriously. I ran another six miles or so along the Mall later in the evening with a heavy backpack, and was very sore the next day.

Friday, April 17th: More walking.

Saturday, April 18th: Mel and I rented bikes and rode along the Mt. Vernon trail. The bike shop estimated that we rode between 18-20 miles.

We even saw a guy on the path riding a unicycle. Clearly he was very confident and rooted in his masculinity. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the ol’ unicycle riding doesn’t pick up a lot of babes.

Friday, April 10, 2009

25 Weeks to Marathon

Monday, April 6th: 30 minutes on exercise bike. After I finished I promptly headed for the fridge for a big muther piece of banana/chocolate pie.

Tuesday, April 7th: 4 miles in 38 minutes. I ran in the morning before work. I don't think I'm much a fan of morning running. My body doesn't feel like it's fully functioning that early and it almost feels like trying to run in a swimming pool.

Wednesday, April 8th: 25 miles on exercise bike, followed by a large bowl of chocolate brownie ice cream. Yea. I haven't yet mastered the whole "cut out junk food" thing.

Thursday, April 9th: 4 miles in 37 minutes. Another early run before heading to work.

Friday, April 10th: 6.6 miles in 66 minutes. This was not a good day of running. The whole run felt hard and I never got in the groove. My body felt like it was wrapped in duct tape. Considering the amount of walk breaks I took I'm surprised I finished as fast as I did.

It was a terrible feeling to know that my legs were moving but it felt like I wasn't going anywhere. I was originally planning to do 8 miles but ended up cutting things short. It felt like I was at the same level as the first week I started running.

To summarize the run: I wanted to curl up on the sidewalk, get in fetal position, suck my thumb, and whimper.

I'm not sure if my struggles stem from the bowl of cereal I ate before the run, not getting enough sleep over the last week, poor diet, over-training, or a combination of all those things. I'm assuming it's normal to have an off day every once in a while. Hopefully my body will mellow out with a few days rest and be back to normal next week.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

26 Weeks to Marathon

Monday, March 30th: 30 minutes on exercise bike.

Tuesday, March 31st: 20 minutes on exercise bike.

Wednesday, April 1st: 8 miles to Observation Point in Zion National Park. I went with brother-in-laws Dean and Matt on this steep 8 mile hike which gains more than 2100 feet. My body struggled much more with the trip down than it did on the way up. An amazing view and achy knees are the souvenirs for this hike.

Thursday, April 2nd: Rest.

Friday, April 3rd: 8 miles in 82 minutes. Mercy. It was cold. 42 degrees to be exact. A steady rain fell during the whole run. I'm a fan of rain running so I was happy.

While I was running I saw a middle aged guy walking from the other direction with a cane. He smiled at me and said "Show off!" People like him are one of the reasons I run - because I know one day I won't be able to. I know my health isn't going to last forever, so I want to take advantage of it while I can.

I work with people everyday who took their health for granted, and now would give anything to be able to go out and run a few miles. I have vowed to learn from them and take advantage of my health for as long as it lasts.

After six miles my muscles started to tighten up, and the cold was getting to my knees. They felt like rusty hinges and I was worried that if I kept pushing it I might hurt something. I decided to walk for a few minutes and got a second wind which gave me a few fast miles to end.

I was pleased with the run which is my longest so far. Even though the cold made my knees ache, I think it helped me to not get worn out and I felt good afterward.

Saturday, April 3rd: 20 minutes on exercise bike.