Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Texas Independence Relay

I am running the Texas Independence Relay the first weekend of March. It is a 203 mile relay race that starts in Gonzales Texas and finishes at the San Jacinto Monument. I will run it with a team of twelve people most of whom already know one another. I know some of them and have read most of their blogs so I really feel like I kind of know them all even though I’ve only met three of them in person.

It is interesting that the blog world allows me to read what people write on a personal level and I feel like I know some of them better than the people at the other end of the building I work in.

I attended a conference a couple of years ago and there was a blogger’s break-out session. A group of people from all over the country that had read one another’s writing and had carried on multiple conversations over the course of a couple of years met in a room and it felt like everyone knew everyone even though they were meeting for the first time. It was for me a truly strange experience.

I read all of my blogs with a feed reader. So if someone posts something I at least skim it. I read blogs from people all over the country and overseas that have various reasons for blogging – not just running. Sometimes I read something someone has written that is so intensely personal I feel like an intruder in their personal life. But then I think, “They wrote it and put it on the internet for the world to read … I guess it is okay.”

The fifteenth anniversary of my running is coming up in May. In those fifteen years I have mostly been a solitary runner. I am completely comfortable with my own company and running has always been a very personal thing. Our team members were listed on the team captain’s blog and my name was the only one without an affiliation to a running club – and I am cool with that because that is who I am.

Even though I have for the most part been a solitary runner, during the last couple of years I have started running more with others. A couple of years ago I started running with my son Jakeb. Then last year I ran a test event for the Blue Planet Run. There were four of us that ran the night shift 10 miles each. I ran from 2-3:30 am. It was good to run with three other guys and have a common goal. Then last summer I ran one of the 5k legs of the Brazosport Relay Triathlon. Again I found that running with a team towards a common goal elevated my running to a higher level. I ran with a friend occasionally on my morning runs this past summer. I have run long runs with other friends who are training for long races like I was. I still want to run most of my miles alone but I am getting used to running with others too.

All of that to say, I am excited about being a part of a team of people who will take turns running for two consecutive days in order to cover 203 miles and have a blast doing it.

That last post was gross ...

Clearing my head - mentally and physically

I ran 5 miles this morning at a relatively quick pace. The weather was just right – 66 degrees and some humidity. I have been a little bit congested lately and there is nothing like a good run and a couple of farmer’s blows to clear the head if you know what I mean.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Planning the Journey

“…half of the joy of the journey is planning it; the other half is coming home and bragging about it.”
- Mike Moe from the book A Man’s Life: Dispatches From Dangerous Places by Mark Jenkins

I plan my journeys by surfing the internet for a good race to run. I look for just the right location, distance and type of race. I read race reports from runners who have finished in years previous. I look at maps, course profiles, weather reports and pictures of the scenery.

After a race is chosen I fill out a training schedule with the appropriate mileage and training components. I adjust for holidays, vacation and family schedules. I add races that will aid in my training for the peak race. I tweak it for days maybe even weeks until it is adjusted for optimum stress, challenge and recovery. And then I run …

On some training runs my planning is mental. I think about what the race will be like. Are there hills to conquer? Will I have rough spots? Will I have to be patient or should I push hard until I almost puke?

On most days though my planning is physical and I run so that my muscles will remember how and in the process get better at it. I run further as each workout builds on the previous to cover the optimum distance for the race that is planned so that I can reach whatever goal I have.

Lately I feel like my mooring has come loose and I am floating on the ocean aimlessly; without direction. I am not currently training for anything and it feels weird. I have no training schedule meticulously filled out in excel to indicate how many miles I should run today based on a number typed into a cell, printed out and taped to the inside of the door of the laundry room cabinet. I run on any given day based on what I feel like running knowing that I need to maintain some sort of base so I can plan another “journey” in the near future.

This morning without a plan I ran nothing. I’ll have to admit it was good to stay in my warm bed next to my wife but I am also scared on mornings like this that not running will become a habit. And that cannot happen.

Bragging about the last journey is getting old. In fact it got old after I told the story more than once. It is time to start planning for the next journey.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

11 miles and a realization

I ran 11 miles yesterday morning. My plan was to run 18 but mid-way through the run I knew my legs were not going to let me go that far. I have too much residual marathon junk in them apparently.

Somewhere around six miles into the run I can to a realization. I have had a really good couple of months by my standards. I ran a 50k at Sunmart (my longest run to date) and a marathon PR in Houston. Pushing it to train for a 50-mile race in just a couple of months would be too much. I am sure I could get ready for 50 miles and I could probably finish the race but I don’t want to train to just finish. I want to run my first 50 miler well. Training for it would have been a stretch always pushing just a little too hard to get a workout in. I already felt like I was behind in my training. So hopefully there is a 50-mile race in my future but it will not be in April – maybe in the fall.

My focus this spring will be to train for and run Hog’s Hunt 25k with Jakeb. In March I am running the Texas Independence Relay with a team made up mostly of runners who blog. I may post more on that subject later.

I will keep up the miles and maintain a base but I look forward to enjoying my runs for the sake of running rather than being a slave the training schedule. Don’t get me wrong my personality is bent toward running what is inked in the calendar for today but it will be good to set that aside for while and just run.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Running again

Last week on Thursday I started getting a sore throat. Immediately it ticked me off but then as I thought about it I was thankful that I did not get sick during the days leading up to or during the marathon.

I ran Friday morning and there was some soreness in my legs that was not evident when I walked. It was not bad enough to stop but it made the four mile run more difficult than it normally would have been.

On Saturday the weather was chilly, but I put on warm running clothes and turned the iPod to King’s X Dogman and ran hard. It was a good run.

Sunday Jakeb and I ran 5 miles together on a mixture of soft stuff and concrete. Afterwards I went on alone. I was supposed to run 12 but at 10 miles I was near the house so I stopped. If I could have stopped at 8 I would have. It was a miserable couple of miles. My body was drained.

This morning I ran 5 and the first 3 were solid miles … the last 2 were a bit more difficult but not as tough as Sunday’s run. My sore throat seems to be fading but I am still tired. Between being sick and marathon recovery running hasn’t been the most fun activity in my life, but I look forward to when I will enjoy it again.

On the food and weight front, Andrea has helped me work on eating in a more balanced way. I am a carb fiend. I love a huge bowl of cereal in the morning and bread all day. I also have a weakness for anything baked sweet and gooey. Andrea showed me how to add protein and eat carbohydrates in a more natural form. I have cut out dairy, refined sugar and lowered my sodium intake. I eat 5 times a day. In the last week I have lost nine pounds. Hopefully being lighter will help my running.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Marathon Finish Video

I am in the black with my race number pinned to my shorts. I finish on the right side of the video.

My finish time on the clock was 3:56:34.

Race morning picture with Andrea

Monday, January 14, 2008

2008 Chevron Houston Marathon

The weather was perfect for a good marathon. Andrea, Jakeb, Gwen, Matthew, Mike and I parked and went to the George R. Brown Convention Center to get out of the cold. We saw a few people we knew. Wes, Jenny, Jay and Laura were right inside the front door and we hung out with them most of the time before the race. We saw Brenda who was running the half and a good friend from Arkansas Ronnie who was running the full.

After some stretching and standing in porta-potty lines I left the family to go stand in the cold until the race started. I wore shorts and a short-sleeved shirt and no gloves. I decided I would gut it out in the cold until the start. It wouldn’t have been too bad were it not for the wind. After I started running I was comfortable.

The first mile was crowded as usual but runners spaced out pretty well in the second mile and beyond. I ran too fast through 10k and decided to slow it down to a more reasonable pace for me.

I ran at an even pace through 20 miles and then slowed a little. At mile 22 my legs started cramping and I walked some but then I thought “This is not happening to me again” and started a slow jog that I could maintain. My legs loosened up and I picked it up a bit … but not much. Most of the rest of the race was a mental battle to keep running rather than run/walk.

At mile 23 the guy next to me looked over and said, “Our goal is to beat the Super Heroes.” I ran most of the day near these two guys who wore Super Hero costumes. One dressed as Flash Gordon and the other dressed as Superman. I got sick of hearing “Look there’s Superman! Go Flash!” I guess that is why they wore the costumes.

At mile 24 I was walking through the water station and as I grabbed a cup of water my stomach seized up. It was like someone was inside of me squeezing my stomach like ringing out a wet rag. I ran to the side of the street and dry heaved three times. Then as fast as it came on it went away. I’ve never experienced any kind of nausea during a race. I hope this isn’t reoccurring. I got back out on the road and headed into downtown.

I felt much better running into downtown knowing that the race was almost over. Near the finish Jake and Andrea yelled at me but I didn’t have it in me to even look over at them. I finished in 3:55:13 and beat the Super Heroes. I found the guy at the finish who told me his goal was to beat the Super Heroes and I said “You did it! You beat Superman!” And he laughed and said “Yeah.”

I finally broke four hours in a marathon. Now what?

My plan is to work for the next couple of weeks to lose 10 pounds and if my legs will let me I will start training for the Ouachita Trail 50 Miler.

Andrea and Gwen walked the half and beat last year's time by 13 seconds. That is a one second per mile improvement which is good considering they thought they would finish much slower this year.

Overall it was another good day at the marathon.

1 – 9:08
2 – 8:25
3 – 8:34
4 – 8:48
5 – 8:33
6 – 8:35
7 – 8:43
8 – 8:33
9 – 8:39
10 – 9:09
11 – 8:27
12 – 8:59
13 – 8:53
14 – 8:42
15 – 8:37
16 – 8:48
17 – 8:46
18 – 9:03
19 – 8:57
20 – 8:47
21 – 9:32
22 – 9:45
23 – 9:20
24 – 10:07
25 – 10:16
26 – 9:09
26.2 – 1:53
Total – 3:55:13

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Taper and a funeral

Marathon taper is going well.

I rested yesterday but not on purpose. I went to work an hour early so I would have time to go a funeral for the pastor of the church I went to from childhood to my teenaged years. His name was Cecil Uzzel and I knew him in typical Baptist fashion as Brother Uzzel. Brother Uzzel as they said at the funeral was a man who loved people. Much of what I know about the Bible began as I listen to him preach for all of the years I was at Emmanuel Baptist Church. He survived his own marathon as he was a prisoner of war for 41 months in Japan and survived the Bataan Death March. He was a great story-teller and the time he spent as a prisoner of war colored some of his messages and captured my imagination. He was a good man.

The day off was apparently good for me. This morning I ran 3 miles with Jakeb and then topped it off with one more alone. I felt great and could have run much further.

For inspiration this week I have been reading the race reports of runners who set some goals for themselves and achieved them in the marathon and beyond. In almost every case their mind had to be discipline to run on as their body told them it was time to stop.

I am stir-crazy as normal and I’m ready to run this race.