Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My First Marathon

For anyone who doesn't want to read through everything, I finished. I'm incredibly proud of myself, and I fully intend to make marathons a regular part of my year. A full account is after the jump.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Playlist

I just spent way too much time setting this up. I started, I ended up with a 15 hour playlist...and then chopped and chopped and chopped. As it stands, this comes in at a little under 5 hours, which seems just about right. I start slow and loose . . . and I get progressively faster and angrier (mixing some inspirational stuff in). My main goal - keep relaxed. Hope you enjoy.

Artist Name
Bruce Springsteen Born To Run
P.M. Dawn Set Adrift on Memory Bliss
Aerosmith Just Push Play
The Beatles With a Little Help from My Fri
Elton John Rocket Man
The Kinks Lola
Blues Traveler Hook
The Black Crowes Remedy
Dave Matthews Band Ants Marching
Michael Jackson Billie Jean
The Killers Tranquilize (Feat. Lou Reed)
Black Eyed Peas Pump It
Janis Joplin Me And Bobby Mcgee
Def Leppard Pour Some Sugar On Me
The Beatles I Am The Walrus
Eminem Without Me
Queen Under Pressure
Black Eyed Peas Tonight's Gonna Be a Good Night
Everlast What It's Like
Red Hot Chili Peppers Californication
OutKast Ms. Jackson
Gloria Gaynor I Will Survive
Guns N' Roses Sweet Child O' Mine
Geto Boys Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangsta
Bon Jovi Blaze of Glory
Pixies Where Is My Mind?
Red Hot Chili Peppers Breaking The Girl
The Rolling Stones Paint It Black
Warren G (featuring Nate Dogg) Regulate
Beastie Boys Sabotage
Kid Rock Cowboy
Bob Dylan Knockin' On Heaven's Door
Kid Rock Only God Knows Why
Temple of the Dog Hunger Strike
Aerosmith What It Takes
Kid Rock I Am
Black Sabbath Iron Man
Metallica Whiskey In The Jar
U2 Sunday Bloody Sunday
Rocky Gonna Fly Now (Theme from Rocky)
Metallica Enter Sandman
Faith No More Epic
Bon Jovi Livin' On A Prayer
Red Hot Chili Peppers Scar Tissue
Dinosaur Jr. Feel The Pain
Kanye West Jesus Walks
Red Hot Chili Peppers Suck My Kiss
Midnight Oil Beds Are Burning
Nirvana Smells Like Teen Spirit
Orff Carmina Burana
Eminem Lose Yourself
OutKast The Whole World
Outkast Hey Ya
Queen The Show Must Go On
Red Hot Chili Peppers Cant Stop
T.a.T.u All The Things She Said
Toad The Wet Sprocket Walk on the Ocean
Vangelis Chariots of Fire
U2 Beautiful Day
Kid Rock Bawitdaba
Queen We Are The Champions
REM Everybody Hurts
Survivor Eye of the Tiger
Dr. Dre (featuring Eminem) Forgot About Dre
LL Cool J Mama Said Knock You Out

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Plan

In two-days time, I'll actively be on the marathon course. My excitement is hybrid of that felt before a big concert and a first date. I'm giddy. I'm nervous. I'm confident that I'm going to rock, but at the same time I'm running through a list of things that could go wrong. I feel that I'm both criminally over-prepared and horribly under-prepared. This is all new.

My plan for the next few days is pretty simple. I've been abstaining from caffeine all week (save for a single cup a few days ago because the kids had me up and I figured it would be bad to fall asleep at the office). I haven't had a drop of liquor since CJ's birthday party. I'll start "carb loading" with pasta today, which means that I'll simply have some pasta at meals (as opposed to the "eat tons of pasta because it's there, I'm not changing my eating habits, just choosing to eat portions of pasta instead of a sandwich or salad).

Tomorrow, outside of chores & "daddy duties," I'll drive over the Harrisburg to pick up my race packet. I'll organize my running play list. I'll drink lots of water. I'll try to stay off of my feet as much as possible.

Sunday, I'll wake up early and make myself a big cup of coffee. I'll drink that with a bowl of oatmeal and a glass of water. I'll be completely done putting liquids in my body by 7, when I'll leave for the run.

The run starts at 8:30. The most important thing from that point forward is that I truly do not care about my time. My goal is to finish. Plain and simple - finish the run. I'll follow my time, surely, but that will be a curiosity thing. I will finish. I will not care about my time. Maybe, if I chose to run future marathons, I'll have a time goal - but not on Sunday. Just cross the finish line, having been powered by nothing by my own two feet.

Tapering my running this week has lead to some very interesting side effects. First off, my legs are itching to go. I mean, I can almost hear them asking me "what's up?". I've gone on two small runs this week, and that's it. My legs are ready for something. Second, I have a true explosion of energy. I haven't had any coffee today, yet I am "wide awake & busy tailed." Maybe it's just adrenaline kicking in early, but it really feels like my body is starting to say "you need to do that thing you trained for, and soon!" Of course, there's a significant amount of excess energy in that department, too. Ahem. I shall say no more.

So, I'll be posting as I can to Twitter and Facebook throughout the weekend. And, of course, expect at least two posts here - one with my playlist and one with a breakdown as I go.

Thank you, all, for cheering me on.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Last Run

I'm hesitant to post this. There's a chance that my kids will wake up screaming before the butt crack of dawn the next two days, and then I'll be wide awake. Of course, then they'll go straight back to sleep, so I'll think "screw it, I'm running." Barring that highly likely event, however, I think this morning was my last run before the marathon.

I ran four miles - and rather than the new route through two neighborhoods that I've been running (3 miles in total), I ran my original 5k training route. Four-tenths of a mile to the trailhead, then seven-tenths of a mile per lap for 4 laps, then six-tenths of a mile back home (via a different route). I worked up a little bit of sweat, but I was hardly "tired".

For a "last run," it was simple, but it was a good one.

Now, my dear reader, I need a favor. I have somewhere between 3 1/2 and 5 hours that I'll be running on Sunday. I am allowed an iPod. I need a playlist. I'll be starting "relaxed" and working my way to "super-motivational" (e.g. "angry"). What songs do I need on this? Obviously, I'll post my running playlist after the run.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Why I'm Running

I think there's something in New Providence's water supply. Seriously, when I look through my Facebook friends (specifically people I went to high school with), there is a seriously disproportionate number of serious athletes. Marathon runners, triathletes, cyclists, distance swimmers, cross-country skiers, rock climbers . . . you name the grueling event, I can point you to a former classmate that participates. In fact, for most of the above, I can list at least 3 or 4 individuals. This person biked across the country. That person has run four marathons. This person has not only completed, but has been competitive in half-Iron Mans. That person popped out three kids and would probably qualify for the olympic triathlon team if it weren't for her fear that she'll be eaten by a shark in the open water.

My graduating class was 94 people. It seriously feels like there are significantly more endurance athletes that I went to school with than non-endurance athletes.

I'm not running this marathon to join the ranks of my classmates.

People participate in endurance events for great causes. However difficult it is to run 26.2 miles, or bike 100+, or swim until you're pretty sure your skin is so saturated that it will just fall off your body, that's nothing compared to overcoming breast cancer, or fighting diabetes every day, or living with an physically abusive spouse, or losing a loved one to prostate cancer. For some people, the act of waking up, getting out of bed, and trying to "live a normal life" requires more effort, perseverance, and inner strength than the world could ever know.

I'm not running this marathon to raise money or awareness for a noble cause.

I am running this marathon for myself. Somewhere along the way, I told myself that I could do this. And, at that point, it became mandatory. In five days, I'm going to show myself that I can set a goal and do it - even a seemingly impossible goal if you knew the John of a few years ago.

I don't care about my time. I don't care where I finish. The only thing that matters is that I will have traveled twenty-six miles and three hundred eighty-five yards, powered by nothing but my own two feet. I will do this. And I will allow myself to be proud of the feat.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Yes, I'm still ignoring my weight

I've kind of gotten used to the fact that there will be a segment of the population that simply won't believe that I don't know, exactly, how tall I am. When people ask, I tell them "about 6'3" ," but inevitably somebody will say something like "my second cousin's next-door-neighbor's kindergarten teacher's father was 6'3" and you're way taller/shorter than that person!" Of course, I have no comeback to that - the truth is that I've been measured anywhere from 6'1" to 6'6". Most of the time, it's right around 6'3", and that's what I say. I know there are people who are adamant that they are 6'4" that I'm taller than. I know there are people that claim to be 6'3" that I'm shorter than. It doesn't matter to me - but it seems that the vertically challenged portion of the population absolutely refuses to believe that "that number" doesn't really matter.

Well, since I've started running, I've been getting a lot of "how much weight have you lost?" questions. This time, I can't even give a guess. I, honestly, do not know. And, not knowing is keeping me a bit more sane. See, the last time I got serious about my weight loss, I weighed myself daily: nude, 6:30AM, after a workout, at the gym. I'd track this number, chart this number. I'd fret if the number didn't move in the right direction or if it moved "too far" in the other. The important thing was that I was making myself healthier, and I was working out and I was eating right (well, maybe not eating enough at the time, but that's a story for another post). I was doing things that were doing good for me. That fact should have been enough, it should have been all that should have mattered. But, I obsessed about "the number".

If we use "weight" as a barometer for one's health (and, we shouldn't, but it's such an easy metric to follow that it's difficult not to), it's best to treat it like a retirement investment account. If you must check "the number," check in on it only every now & then. Just make sure that it's traveling in the right direction, moving toward a goal. The best analysts will tell you that, if you trust your strategy, follow your strategy and know that the results will be there when you need them. If you obsess about a $100 drop when you're looking to make $1,000,000, well, you're going to go crazy. And, the last time I was looking out for my health, I think I may well have been crazy. As I approached my "goal weight," I'd obsess, plain & simple. I wasn't healthy.

So, when I re-launched this blog, my goal was to be "healthy." The goal was never anything more than that. Sure, I have goals like "run a marathon", "complete an iron man", etc. but I don't have a picture in my mind of what I'll look like when I'm "healthy." There isn't a scale reading that will say "hey, look, I made it." "Healthy" is a commitment to yourself for forever. And, it's wonderfully vague. I'll never be able to obsess.

Well, all that was a longwinded way to say that, yeah, my clothes are fitting me differently. My face is thinner. I can squeeze places that I wasn't able to squeeze at some point. People who have known me ask how much weight I've lost. I always have to say "I haven't a clue." Nobody believes me. That's fine, though - I'm feeling pretty good about myself these days.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Feeling Good, though I Didn't Run

I did not run this morning. Did you hear that?

I did not run this morning!


All in all, I feel pretty good about it. The kids, well, they had me up for some weird hours of the night. It was Duffy's day to run (she's doing the Couch to 5k, running Tuesdays, Thursdays, and a day every weekend), and the bed just seemed extra comfy at 4 in the morning. I ate well on Monday. I have no regrets in getting a little extra sleep.

Tomorrow, though, I'm out the door by 4.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Enough Excuses (Back to Writing)

I keep on saying "hey, I'm going to post to this blog more," but then time passes and I don't. So, yeah, I suck - but y'all knew that anyway. Well, we're at the beginning of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), I'm 13 days away from my marathon, I've promised myself that I'd write for an hour a day a long, long time ago...It's time to stop making excuses for not writing this blog.

Personally, things are as crazy as they've ever been - CJ turns one on Thursday, Leila is growing like a weed. The dogs like to bark. The cat has decided, now that it's getting cold out at night, to spend more time inside (meaning that she whines a lot more to get the human servants to abide by her wishes). I still have symphony rehearsals on Mondays and band practices on Thursdays. Work is everlasting. I'm still running.

The marathon is in 13 days. The marathon is in 13 days. Actually, I think I'm well-prepared for this run. Over the past several weeks, I've done some pretty kick-ass training runs on the weekend. A week after I won a motherfucking medal, I returned to the Cumberland Valley Rail-Trail and ran it. I started in Newville and ran to Shippensburg, took a quick rest break and then ran back. Round trip, it was twenty-two miles. I was tired. I was hungry. I was sore. But, I wasn't dead. In fact, I was able to drive myself back home without stopping at a diner and ordering the menu. I was proud of myself.

Of course, it took me a little while to recover. Three or four days went by before I ran again, but I eventually ran again, and it felt good. Then, two weeks ago, my mom was in town to help with some babysitting duties (as Duffy and I were both involved in the Carlisle Theather's production of Beauty & the Beast), and with her still around in the morning, I went for a run. This time, it was "only" 17 miles, but it was my favorite 25k biking loop. It's a hilly 17 miles. I'll admit that this was significantly more difficult than flat 22 mile run. But, again, I made it. I got back, didn't die, somehow managed to clean myself up. I made it to the theater for a 2PM matinée, then out to dinner with my wife & mother, then played a 7:30 show. I went to bed quite tired, but also with a great feeling of accomplishment.

Again, I took a few days off of running after that run - just to let the legs recover (I'll likely take a full week off after the marathon), but I was back out, training, before too long. And, I swear I feel stronger pounding pavement each time I'm on the road.

Of course, then there was a tiny bout of panic. I was running along, barely paying attention to the road when I misstepped. I hit a ditch on along a gravel path and my ankle felt a bit funny. I walked it off, and it was still a bit sore. I went home, went back to bed, slept for an hour with it iced, kept ice on all day, and then gave it two days of rest. In all honesty, I probably over-babied it . . . I actually think I could have completed my run that day (the lure of my bed for an hour, though, proved a Siren's call), and then sleep issues the next two nights were as much a part of my not running as the ankle recovery. Still, an injury that close to the actual event, well, it freaked me out a bit.

So, I started being extra careful when I ran, and last weekend, I completed my last "long" training run. Twenty-two miles - that hilly 17 mile course, with a 1 mile loop thrown in, then a 4 mile meandering ending. For the most part, the run was great. It was a beautiful day (started cold, but I had on a long-sleeved shirt which I ended up stripping off at about the 15 mile mark), the roads were barely trafficked, and I just kept on going. Well, until my last climb. This is a hill that I climb a lot - I work up it as part of my typical morning run, and while it's not very long, it's very steep (18% grade). I started the climb, and *nothing*. I tried to make my legs go, but they just wouldn't. So, I stopped and tried again. And again, nothing. Just standing there. I reached to my water pack, had some water, gave myself a minute, and powered through the climb. I reached the top of the hill and, then, the last mile until my "cool down" point. That, well, was weird - but considering the general flatness of the Harrisburg marathon, I don't think I need be worried. And, even if the marathon were hilly, I did manage through - it just took a little while.

So, I got home, made macaroni & cheese for an afternoon party, played with my kids, showered, and then partied. Again, I went to bed exhausted, but I went to bed feeling accomplished.

Now I'm 13 days out from the "big run." I ran 5 miles this morning, I'll run between 5 and 15 miles each morning this week. Saturday, I'll run a final training run - probably 13 hilly miles - and then take a full week off.

And I'll post here every day between now & the marathon.