Monday, February 28, 2011

18 Mile Thoughts

I had to make my big decision before I went to bed. I had a commitment in the mid-morning (dress rehearsal for my symphony concert), so would I wake up early & run a smallish run, or would I wait until after rehearsal to see what kind of run I might be able to fit in.

The early morning had its draw - I mean, I'm used the early morning runs. Since I had some extra time, I'd be able to a little more than my standard 4-6 miles. I'd be able to get a 10 mile run in, head to rehearsal, and then play the rest of the day however I felt like it. But an afternoon run, well, I might be able to test just how "on target" I was for the May 1 marathon.

The kids were up early, and that kind of settled things. Duffy tried to deal with a persnickety CJ for awhile, but something clicked in my mind, and Leila decided that she wanted to play - so I relieved my wife in the kid-watching department. After getting them dressed and fed and keeping them entertained . . . well, it was to head to the dress rehearsal. That's ok, though, I really wanted the afternoon run.

Following the dress rehearsal and lovely family brunch, it was back home. Duffy wanted to run, so I got myself ready as I watched the kids and my wife ran. Then, she was home, and I went out.

My goal was 18 miles - this is the pretty standard "ready for a marathon" run, the theory being that adrenaline is enough to keep somebody going for 8.2 miles . . . although, damn, 8.2 miles is a long way to run on fumes. It was actually a nice-ish day - some cloud cover as the temperature neared the 50's. I left at 3:30, and if I could manage eighteen 10:00 miles, well, that fits neatly into three hours (and puts me well on pace for a 4:30 marathon).

Now, when I'm really running a long distance, I just try to keep things even. I don't want to be "too fast" so that I'm truly sucking wind mid-way through. At the same time, there is nothing worse than sprinting the last mile of a long run and feeling like you still had a lot left in the tank, that you took things way too easy at first.

I'm not even a mile into the run (I have Runkeeper set to chime in with my splits every mile, which is the only reason why I know the approximate distances throughout the run) when I hear something behind me. It's another runner, and he flies right by me. I know I'm not fast, but I have really fucking long legs - to feel like I'm walking as Usain Bolt sprints past? Well, it sucks.

So, I try to process being left in the dust. I knew I was taking it easy, and, ultimately, I'm running my run, he's running his run, so some random runner being faster than me makes absolutely no difference. I absolutely refuse to pick up my pace, even as he gets smaller against the horizon. In fact, I intentionally slow down....and then I hit the first mile mark, which I've hit in 9:02. I was convinced that I was running a 13:00 mile, so that's something.

I continue running in & out of the neighborhood, and then in & out of my own neighborhood, and then in & out of another neighborhood, consistently marking times between 9:00 and 10:12 / mile. I'm feeling good, but then I hit the golf course.

Somehwat near me is the Army Heritage museum, which is a really great little place. It's a walking trail that takes you through US military history - from Revolutionary War forts to Cold War tanks to Vietnam-Era helicopters, to World War II bunkers. It's also adjacent to the Carlisle Barracks golf course, which has a 2 mile jogging trail around it. I hit this right around the 10 mile mark, and my goal was to run everything three times and then work my way back home.

I'm used to running this, though, in bone dry conditions. It's packed pebbles, which aren't too bad to run on when dry, but in melted snow, wearing Vibram Five Fingers? It's pretty icky. Still, though - this was my plan, so I run the jogging trail, and then through the walking path, and then through the jogging trail, and then the walking path when it started to get dark.

Well, it was getting dark, and while I wanted to hit 18 miles, that number was just an "out of the air" number, and didn't really hold any significance. I'd work my way back home maybe run around my own neighborhood once or twice if the mileage isn't just where I want it.

As I ran through the muck, my times started to slow, but I really thought I attributed things to the icky conditions. I was stepping much more carefully, so 10:30, 11:00, even 12:00 miles weren't all that bad. Slipping and falling would be disastrous.

But, when I got back on the road, there was simply no picking up my pace. I could sprint if I needed to, but my "go" simply was turned down a few nothces. I made it back home, hitting the 17 mile mark at the very top of the biggest climb during the entire run. It was dark, and I was rapidly approaching three hours on the road. I decided to skip my 18 mile requirement and sprint my way back home.

17.25 miles in three hours. I was tired. But, I was able to lift my kids and climb the stairs and do all of those things that you're afraid to even try to do at the end of a run.

The Gettysburg marathon is in 60 days, and I'm feeling pretty good. Due to a blister on my right foot (a small hole opened up in the rubber coating the shoe, and I suspect a small stone snuck in - good excuse to buy a new pair of shoes), I took Sunday completely off, and I have early morning work commitments on Mondays, and Duffy runs on Tuesdays, so it will be Wednesday, at the earliest before I get to run again, but I may actually spin, instead, waiting for my new shoes to arrive (although I guess I could run in regular sneakers, but Super Troopers isn't going to watch itself, meow).

My favorite part, after a long weekend run, is how I feel a day or two later. My legs are mostly recovered, but they want to go. My hamstrings aren't quite tight, but I can feel them, as if they were springs ready to be spring. It actually takes restraint to sit at my desk and not just do jumping jacks or sprint to the end of the hall. I absolutely love this feeling - where your body is still in the recovery phase, but, at the same time, it wants more. It's nearly as addictive as logging that next mile.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Work Gets in the Way

So it's been a little while since I've posted, again. This really needs to stop happening. No excueses, remember? The issue is that I simply don't have the time in the day to do everything that I'd like to do.

I wake up before 4:30 every weekday, which sucks just as much as it sounds. I have a video teleconference with my offshore team in Manila at 6am on Mondays, so I'm out the door as soon as possible. Tuesdays & Thursdays are my wife's days to run, so I could get some writing done as she's out doing her thing. I could. But, I choose to get a little bit more sleep.

Then, Wednesdays and Fridays, I run in the mornings before work. Sure, I could sacrifice this time for writing, but I have this marathon in May, and, dammit, I'm gonna beat my Harrisburg marathon time. Plus, as we all know, I feel so much better throughout the day when I manage exercise in the mornings.

So, before work - no blogging.

After work - well, have I mentioned my kids lately? They're 15 months & 8 months and they're handfuls. Actually, all things considered, they're not too bad to take care of - but, two kids under a year & a half old . . . yeah, there's not a lot of "free time" that I can spend at a computer.

That leaves work itself. And, unfortunately, I'm quite busy at the new job (don't snicker, I actually am). I can spend a few minutes writing here or there, but that would cut into the few minutes I spend following bloggers. Seriously, I can't miss new pieces from A Diary of a Mad Woman or Pretty All True or Fat Kid Suit or A Little Wicked or Oh Shit, She's Awake or Momma Kiss or Have We Met? or Amid Life's Crises or Funny or Snot or The Kitten that Dates or Mental Poo or City Midwife or my first blogging crush Jen's Voices? I spend what time I have checking in on these writers, commenting where I can, and between work & stuff, well, that's the end of the day for me.

The thing is, there are certain activities that I simply feel better when I make time for them every day - exercise, meditatate, perform, and write (yes, perverts, you can add something else to this list, too). I need to find time to write - be it here or for myself...take the crazy that lives between my ears & let it out for little bits at a time.

About that blog roll, though? Read through them - as you read, if you're not drawn to be a better writer, yourself, well, you're simply not subject to whimsy.


Ok - so that sums up why I haven't been here as often as I should...how is everything else going? Well, it's a rollercoaster. I live in Pennsylvania and this winter has included a fair amount of snow & ice. This means that I haven't been able to run like I want to. As weekends are perfect times for road trips, my long runs don't always happen on schedule. However, I really think I'm ready, today, for a marathon, if I absolutely had to (becuase, you know, there are armed gunmen standing outside that will make me run 26.2 miles because, dammit, if someone doesn't run a marathon right now, the bunny gets shot). Considering I have a full two months left before my next big adventure in making myself tired, I'm well on track.

This morning, it was 7F outside, with a significant breeze - I did not run. I did, however, watch Super Troopers as I spend some time on my spinning bike & with my free weights. Meow.

Eating - well, I have a fun story which, on the surface, appears to have nothing to do with eating. As I was making my way to my father's 65th birthday party last weekend, I stopped to get gas. It was a beautiful, though very windy day. I pull out my debit card (because I'm trying to keep myself from ever getting into major financial dire straights, I only ever carry the debit card) and get startled. The card, I kid you not, catches the breeze and takes off. Whoosh. I couldn't find it.

I call and make the customary "cancel" call, but I'm now on the road with only the cash in my pocket. I beg, borrow, and steal the cash to get myself back home, but I'm still a few days from getting a replacement card. I hold onto any cash I get just in case I need to head somewhere unexpected and need a gallon of gas.

What does all this mean? Well, I'm packing my breakfast and lunch (I always mean to do this, but if I don't do this now, I starve). I'm eating healthier and yummier frugalier than I ever have. I need to keep this up after I get my replacement card.

Anyway, so that's all of what I've been up to as I haven't been here. I'm really going to try to invent the 30 hour day simply for my own blogging.

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Day in the life

While I have my eyes on the future, an event on the first day of May seems impossibly far away, so finding shorter-term motivation is a necessity. Let me run through what a typical morning workout is.

  • 4:25, wake up to the alarm clock. Swear. Curse. Get really pissed off when one of the dogs decides that he'd rather sleep in than go for a walk.
  • 4:50, return from walk & feed the dogs. Fight off tears of jealousy as the dogs get to go back to bed.
  • 4:55, start drinking water.
  • 5:00, go outside. Remark that it wasn't this cold just a few minutes ago. Start audiobook and runkeeper on my iPhone.
  • 5:01, take mental note that, perhaps, running gloves will be a wise investment.
  • Sometime before 5:10, cross the one busy street that I must cross
  • 5:10, Runkeeper chimes in that I ran a 10:20 mile and that my current pace (as I climb a hill) is 13:20. Try to see if I can bring my time down to 10:00 / mile.
  • Sometime before 5:20, have the internal conversation:
    • "is that Douglas Ave?"
    • "I need to make a right onto Douglas Ave or I'll get lost in this neighborhood."
    • "Why the fuck do I run so early when it's dark and so cold that my eyeballs don't work right?"
    • "Oh, the street sign is on that corner."
    • "No, not Douglas Ave."
  • One minute later, make right onto Douglas Ave.
  • 5:20, hit two miles of running, hear that my pace is now at 10:02 and that I'm running a 9:40 mile.
  • Sometime before 5:30, "Is that Mary Drive?..."
  • 5:30, hit three miles of running, time per mile down to 9:59, ask self "For how long do I think I can keep this pace up?" Immediately realize that I only have time to log another mile. Kick up the tempo.
  • 5:31, realize that there's a reason that the mile isn't considered a sprint, continue pushing myself without going "balls to the wall."
  • Sometime before 5:40, with the single busy road busy, say to self "shit, this is going to affect my timing," think about sprinting across street with a car coming that would probably leave me, remind self that, while I'm certainly not a small object, I'd lose against a car.
  • Seconds later, cross street safely. Pick up pace.
  • 5:40, hit the 4 mile mark and note that my time is down to 9:50 / mile. Begin "balls to the wall" sprint.
  • 5:42, end run.

Without this little running commentary (and without Runkeeper chiming in every mile to tell me how I'm doing), I'd really fear the run just being ordinary...I need to find that thing that will allow me to push myself.

Of course, today's run was on a Friday, and Fridays require special handling. As it's the day that my wife works at the library, we need to both take morning showers & get the kids ready & all that stuff. Well, I get upstairs and my wife is, obviously, not feeling all that great . . . so let her sleep in while I get in the shower while recovering from the run.

Did I mention it was cold out?

Trying to find the right shower temperature, I used my hands, which were numb with cold. But, as my body starts to warm, my extremities get downright hot. So, stick hand in stream of water "way too hot," turn the temp down. "Still too hot," turn the temp down. "Still too hot," but maybe I can bear it. Step into stream of water, shriek as it's downright cold. Turn water back up to a reasonable temperature, realize that showering while you can't really feel your hands is really difficult.


The best part about this run was that I pushed myself, but it's not affecting my legs right now . . . they feel absolutely great. I'm really hoping that I get home at a decent time tonight (after playing a Battle of the Bands) and the weather cooperates enough to allow run another 13-15 on Saturday before my wife leaves for the Library, because I really don't want to wake up early on Super Bowl Sunday to run such a run.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Workout Entertainment

I truly prefer to work out outside. I simply don't trust myself to do what I say I'm doing when I do something inside. Yes, I might spin or row for an hour . . . but did I really push myself? Just what did I manage to accomplish? The answer is that i don't know - when I'm outside, I know I managed to go so far. It may be a good workout, it may not be, but I know I went so many miles in such an amount of time, and this compares, directly, to previous workouts. It's easy to map progress.

Inside? Not so much.

As somebody who was born in the technological age, though, I'm someone who needs near constant entertainment. When I'm outside I, obviously, can't be watching anything, so it's been audiobooks - lately, I've been in a bit of a "young adult" kick...the entire Harry Potter saga (for the umpteenth time), the Hunger Games, and now the Artemis Fowl saga for a second time. Soon enough, if my kids are anything like me, I physically won't be able to read enough to satisfy their desire to be read to...so audiobooks it will be.

Audiobooks are good because they keep my mind engaged. I can absolutely lose myself in music, and then you have no idea where the heck you've gone to. For an actual event, music is the way to go (assuming they allow music on the course), just because it's quite rude to ignore somebody that strikes up conversation..."wait, hold on, Wormtail just killed Cederic" is not a best first line when making new friends.

Working out inside, though, brings a whole new level of distraction. It used to be that, during the height of football season, I'd pedal on a stationary bike while playing Madden...but, well, daddyhood has gotten in the way there. If I actually manage to watch football, it's the actual game, and not a video game. So, I watch movies. And I'm attracted to B-Horror films like flies are attracted to those electronic bug zappers. I know they're bad for me, but I can't help myself. I swear, between April Fool's Day & Sleepaway Camp, I could entertain myself for days. Anyway, I just went through a string of three impressive movies (even if they're impressive in the amount that they're depraved):

  • Human Centipede (the First Sequence)
  • Machete
  • The Last Exorcism

I should be watching things that engage my mind, make me think...but, no, I'd rather see people get chopped into little bits and horrible makeup.

The winter is actually really great for this little obsession of mine. There is no shortage of truly horrible Christmas-related horror films...and considering my body's fighting of the change in temperature as you go from "chilly" to "freezing," I end up spending a lot of time in late December indoors (especially if we get early snows).

Anyway, just thought I'd share here . . . I have a more-fun post set for tomorrow :-)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Events on the horizon

I was talking on Twitter the other day about running strategy. I've come across an absolute treasure-trove of runners, from the truly competitive to the "just doing this to get myself into shape." Some people run a mile at a time, and some run one-hundred miles in a day. Why some of these people look to me for running advice, well, I haven't a clue (though I kind of think whenever anybody decides to do a LOT of something, they become a bit of an expert).

Staying motivated is, easily, the biggest hurdle to any plan - especially when you don't have an endgame in sight. My goal is to be healthy, which is entirely undefined...yet, I've been paving this road for awhile.

In a conversation with a person who could easily run circles around me as she trains for a March marathon (and, oh how I'd love to be in an area right now that you could actually schedule a marathon in March...too much of a risk for snow/ice here), she asked what I was training for. And, I was able to spit out a whole list of things..this runner came back to me, applauding me for working ahead. I realized, at that moment, that it's how I stay motivated. I like to think I'm not like the Mad Woman's Ex Fiance, ignoring those things that are important to me for the next event . . . but I need something to look forward to, lest I grow stagnant.

So far, I have:

  • Gettysburg North/South Marathon, which is the very first running, and I think it's pretty damn cool to know that I'll run the very first running of this event.
  • The Central Pennsylvania Tour de Cure which is my big charity event every year. It's a 100km bike ride to benefit diabetes research, and just a very beautiful ride that I look forward to each & every year.
  • The Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), which (as the name might lead you to believe) is a bike ride across the great state of Iowa (is Iowa a great state? I don't know . . . my sole memory is of a very, very cold afternoon in downtown Des Moines, a stinky & obese cab driver, and a walk through the woods).
  • The Boiling Springs Sprint Triathlon, which will be my first ever triathlon (though it shouldn't be a surprise to any of you that I plan to run an iron man at home point)
  • The Hershey Half-Marathon, which is the single event that I'd expect other runners with. The Tour de Cure is an absolutely LOVELY bike ride, through some of the prettiest scenery . . . but a 13 mile stroll through the chocolate capital of the world? Well, let's just say that I'm not anticipating doing this by myself.
  • The Three Creek Century, which is one of the most understated bike rides - it's absolutely beautiful, usually occurs in the very peak of fall (my favorite time of year)...a one-hundred mile bike ride benefiting a domestic-abuse shelter. Really, this event should be much larger than it is.
  • The Harrisburg Marathon, where I'll tackle the course for the second time . . . hopefully, with all of the good and none of the bad from the last running.

Of course, I'll have some 5k/10k runs in there, just to ensure that I keep my eyes looking forward. And, there is the Cannonman Half-Ironman in the back of m mind. I'd need to train, and train seriously for it. Even now, while I'm not in the best shape, I'm confident that I can complete each of the branches: 1.2 mile swim, 55 mile bike ride, 13.1 mile run. Well, the swim I'm not entirely sure about, but I'm pretty sure I could . . . the issue is, would I be done for the day? I think I need to sign up at a pool, and quickly, if I want to manage. I can just see my training, though:

  • 4:00 am: wake up, walk & feed dogs
  • 4:30 am: out the door to the pool
  • 4:45 am: swim swim swim
  • 6:00 am: change into bike gear, bike to work
  • 7:15 am: arrive at Planet Fitness & shower
  • 7:30 am: work
  • noon: change & run
  • 12:45 pm: back to Planet Fitness to shower the run stink off of me
  • 1:00 pm: back to work
  • 4:30 pm: bike back home
  • 6:00 pm: assume daddy duties
  • 8:30 pm: hope that I can outlast the kids for bedtime

What scares me about that schedule? I'm tired thinking about it . . . and, I'm seriously considering trying to live it. Hold me?