Friday, July 30, 2010

Going out for # 2. Run that is…

Friday started for me on Wednesday morning. While I struggled on an 800 meter sprint around the track, my body and soul decided to bring me to a screeching haul. The workout was 2 X 1200’s and then 4 X 800’s. The 1200’s were on the mark, but on the first 800, the week had caught up with me and I pooped out. I had nothing in me. So, I stopped. I grabbed my bottle and shirt and advised Amy who was drinking between her intervals that I was done and I was heading back.

There are days you have it and there are days you don’t. Wednesday was a don’t day. The run on Saturday of 18, though it was completed took a lot out of me. I ran a tempo tread mill run with Ann Marie on Monday which was hard, but not a problem. Then Monday arriving at work until 6:15AM on Wednesday morning while I stood out on the track with no mojo in me, it was a whirlwind trip.

Work stress, home project stress, hard swim on Tuesday and though it was not stress, my parents came in for a visit. Just adding everything together put me in a funk.

It happens, the funk that is. You cannot control everything in your life, but manage it the best you can. My parents visit was nice. They are excited about their next journey in purchasing a new home. It was good to see the excitement on them about the area, the home and what they are going to do once they buy. Work, is work. You have good days and not so good days. This week, not so good, but next week is another week. The home project that I thought would take a week will not be finished in time for when the girls get home from Boston. Two weeks of stripping tiles, Wonder Board, paint and applying all new tiles, Wonder Board and paint. The tile design I wanted to match the Mud Room was discontinued. This meant searching for almost a week for new tile. Painting bathroom vanities sounds like a good and cheap job, but man, is it time consuming. Layer after layer of paint to insure curing is correct. Next time, I buy a new vanity. Tiling a small floor seems easy. I have tiled 5 rooms in our home so far, but this one is tough. A small space to work in which means only a few rows of tiles can be laid down and cured before you can start again. The room is uneven, so the calculations of the tile cutting has to be precise or the lines will slant. The tub is angled from back to front adding more calculations.
It will get done, but not as fast as I wanted.

Work, the home project and actually taking care of a full house even when no one is home is a full-time job as well. I drive home at lunch to let the dog out, eat lunch, drive back to work. At the end of the day, I am back home working on the project, cleaning, cooking and managing the house. With my family gone I can appreciate how much it takes to run a home. Not as I don’t do my fair share, but things run smoother with 4 than with 1.

Wednesday at 8:15AM, I made a conscious effort to start to prepare for Friday. Friday is the long run of 20 miles. I needed to wrap my head around this run so I would not have a dud of a run like the one I had out on the track.

The rest of Wednesday was dedicated to eating and drinking. I usually do right on these two accounts, but I focused more on it for Friday. Wednesday night, I was in bed by 9PM. I wanted to ride the Reality Ride on Wednesday night, but work prohibited for it. Right now, I can say, I am glad I was stuck at work.

Thursday brought on an easy 3 mile run and a half and hour of stretching. More fluids, I ate lightly every 2-3 hours and by the time dinner came, I was not starving. I ate dinner after working on the project for 2.5 hours and then headed up to bed. 8PM.

On a 20 mile run, you need to treat it as race day. You prepare for it 36-48 hours before with fluids and nutrition and set out all your gear the night before.

Friday at 3:50AM. I am standing in the kitchen eating a PBJ sandwich, sipping Gatorade and plotting what I need to do on this run. 4:15AM, out the door. I headed over to the McFarland Parking lot of the Big Creek Greenway to drop a gallon of Gatorade before heading to LTF. This gallon was at mile 11. With the humidity and heat even this early in the morning, the Gatorade at this point was needed.

I met Bob, Jay, Todd and Evan in the parking lot at 4:50AM. The goal was to run the 15 mile loop I had designed. Bob, Jay and Evan were running at 8:23’s and Todd and I at 8:11’s. The 3 8:23’s left 3 minutes before Todd and I with the perceived notion that we would meet up with them at the end. Then Bob and I would refuel after the 15 and finish up the 5 through the streets of Alpharetta.

Time is a constraint today, so the rest I will give the Cliff Notes to you:

Todd and I for some reason caught the Bob, Jay and Evan 2 miles into the run. Too fast. We eased off and let them stay ahead of us. The run was good. Todd and I kept a nice pace throughout the hills and flats. Bob was having my track day so he peeled off early. Jay and Evan motored on with Todd and I 20 clicks behind.

We hit the refueling station, filled up and needed to take off to keep the time. Ronald Regan was easy out and on the way back up hill was an ease again. This is where Todd and I moved ahead of Jay & Evan to hold our pace.

All the way back was trying to hit the marks in time. The mind plays games and for a couple miles I thought we were off pace even when the pace was faster? Figured out that the course on the way back was shorter. We hit the lot at 2:00:19 for a little less than 15 miles.

I refueled and took off at 2:00:48, 12 seconds ahead of plan. I cruised down Morris, no dogs in sight, onto North Point, then onto Windward. I heard a “cat call” and honking from a car merging onto 400 North. Ann Marie was giving me a little motivation, which helped. Thanks.
I cruised up Windward, left on HWY 9. Little tougher on that corner to hold pace, but I eased off and regrouped knowing that Henderson and Westside were places to make up time. I hit Henderson, took a gel and drank while I sped down the first portion. The rollers were no issues as my only thought at this point was to finish! Cumming street, then Westside straight down. When I hit Westside, the pain was there, the sweat was pouring, the heart was pounding and the breathing was erratic. Little more than 1 mile. I took off and made the turn onto Webb Bridge over 400 then onto Morris.

I had plotted that I needed to hit the fire hydrant on Morris right before the hill for 20. When I hit the hydrant the watch read 2:40:33 for the full 20 miles. I pushed a negative pace on the last 5 miles.

I was done. I cooled down by jogging up Morris to the entrance of LTF. I met Jay and Todd, talked to them for a minute and then saw Bob. I gave Bob some encouragement well knowing he is in a funk on the long runs like I am on the track. Bob can do this training and the long runs, he just needs to prepare.

Heading in I saw Evan. That run was the longest run he had ever done. Coming in on Todd and my heals, the boy is going to be a dangerous runner.

Number 2 is in the books. This ends another week of training and the last day my family will be away. Friday has turned out to be a good day.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


With the family being out of town in Boston for 2 weeks I thought the weeks would drag on.

The first couple of days I lived like a hermit in a cave. Did my own thing, hardly went out except to train and repeated the same process. As the first week was ending, the days continually got busier. I had decided after 10 years of hating the White Tile in the main floor bathroom to rip it out and replace it. The process has been time consuming with tearing out the old tile, removing the Wonder Board, replacing the Wonder Board and prepping it for a layer of tile. I went to Home Depot to find out that they discontinued the style of tile I wanted to lay down. The tile was to be consistent with the tile in the Mud Room. Plans changed. Now, I had to search for a tile similar to the discontinued tile.

I made the decision as well to paint the bathroom vanity instead of replacing the sink. The sole purpose for this endeavor was to save money. The sink, though a cream color works fine, so why get rid of it? But the process of painting a vanity is again time consuming. Sanding, priming and painting layer after layer of paint after a sanding to even out the paint is hard. The project has begun and now there is no turning back.

In addition to tiling and painting the vanity, the walls are being painted. Who knew a 7 X 6 foot bathroom would take 5 hours to trim and paint? I guess, not me.

In between this renovation I have worked every day, trained every day and maintained the house in working order. Yes, a single human in a home does make a mess. Cooking, washing dishes, washing clothes, feeding animals, doing yard work and getting ready for the next day east up a lot of time.

The training has not suffered through all of the household items being completed, except for strength training. I usually hit the weights at lunch but I have had to head home to let the dog out after being couped up for 6-7 hours. No biggie, I will resume weight next week.

I have hit all my runs even the 18 mile heat fest on Saturday. To summarize since I don't have a lot of time, it was hot, it was hard and I got heat stroke. Magic potion of an Ice Cold Coke and a dip in the cold Chattahoochee gave me the ability to drive home. Well, to Home Depot in Sandy Springs. I found some tile there and picked up 3 boxes. After the hot 18 mile run, each of those boxes felt as if they weighed a ton.

The family will be home on Saturday.

This does not give me a lot of time to complete the bathroom. Painting, tiling, switching out facets and hardware and clean-up. I am going to attempt to get it done by Friday night come heck or high water.

Busy is an understatement, but since it has been started, it must be completed.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Busy Wednesday, No Hermit Day

My head hit the pillow at 11:20PM last night. 1 hour 20 minutes later than normal for me.
The day I had was lined with activities, meeting and food. Wednesday was one of the days, though I am groggy and a little out of step was all-in-all a good day.

It all started with the typical schedule for a Wednesday, track. Bob was in Florida, Jay is in Utah on this day, but the rest of the running clan were waiting in the lobby to jog down to the track. It has been known that during this training session the track is my least favorite workout. I despise it actually. I have no desire or motivation for it. I continue to motivate myself for the tempo runs and long runs but if it were not for the following runners out there, I would bag it: Rebecca, Stacey, Ann Marie, Amy, Shane, Ken, Darin, Ken B, Jay and Bob. Wren and Ed decided to show up for a speed session as well. It was good to see Wren and “check out” her running form. Strong as always.

The track was a little congested with all of these runners, which is not a complaint at all. The environment that was set on the Oval was good for me. Fast runners, motivated runners and me.

My workout was 3 X 1600 meters at 6:12’s. The first 1600 was timed at 6:10. The second at 6:12 and the third…6:12. I could say it was easy, but from above you get the jest.

After each 1600 the R.I. was 1 minute. During that one minute the air was thick, stale and heavy. No coolness, no wind, nothing, just humidity and dampness. I took 2 minutes just to catch my breath.

After I was done, Rebecca finished her set which mirrored mine. We watched as the rest of the group ran and ran and ran. When they hit the line everyone had the same look of pain and anguish on their faces. Rebecca and I chuckled and comment on why do we do this to our bodies…Do I need to answer? One runner that is very impressive on the track is Amy. Amy continues to show consistency in her pace, her form and being as efficient as possible. Modeling after her anyone would become a better runner.

Rebecca and I also discussed her training, though it is going well for Chicago, she is treating the long runs in a negative way. She wants them over with. To accomplish this Rebecca is increaing her pace to finish quicker. We discussed that this process is counterproductive. We can run the 20 miles, but it pacing yourself over the last 6.2 of a marathon where it counts. More runners fail within that last 10K of the race I think than anywhere else on a course.

I will follow up with her on Friday to make sure she remembers, pace.

After the track, we all headed our separate ways by car or by foot back to LTF. I hope Wren and Ed decide to hit the track with us more. It is good for the psyche to run with other runners who are faster and even slower than yourself. 6 days, 19.5 hours until I have to torture myself again.

The day was busy. With the family out of town, I have the responsibility of caring for the dog. This means daily treks home at around lunch to let her out and then head back. I eat lunch while she is doing her stuff in the yard and then I head back to the office.

In the late afternoon, I had a conference call that was to last 1.5 hours from 1:00PM to 2:30PM. I thought this was aggressive after reviewing the schedule and items up for discussion. Needless to say at 4:34PM, I had to cut the meeting off and suggest we pick up the rest at another time. 3.5 hours was enough for any human to endure a conference call. However, I have to say I would rather do that then run around a Oval leading nowhere 4 times!

The next portion of my day was the Reality Ride. This is where I had some real tangible motivation. Not only was I riding with a group of “super fast” riders, but after the ride Reality was sponsoring an Italian Dinner for everyone hosted by Pinarello, an Italian bike manufacturer that Reality has teamed up with. The first thing that motivated me getting back to the “super fast riders” was the group I rode with. I left Reality at 5:30PM on the wheels of Ann Marie, Amy, Ken, Randy, Susan and Yenke’. Thought out the ride I kept hearing, “this is a recovery ride” as the group continued to pull ahead of me until they were out of sight. Now, it is not that I could not crank up the speed and jack my heart rate up to hang with them. I wanted this to be an EZ ride. The temperature was 96 degrees. I ran track this morning and have an 18 mile run on Saturday and a 63 mile bike on Sunday. The last thing I was looking for was a crank fest.
I let them go and soon enough caught up with them. This group of riders (especially the women) set that blinding pace. During the back end of the ride heading down a long slight grade I hit something in the road going almost 30 miles and hour and blew out my tire. I was thankful that the group waited for me as I would have waited for anyone of them any day and on any ride.
We completed another sweat pouring ride and headed to Reality’s bike shop for some food. A lot of riders and their families showed up for the dinner. The food awesome. The beer was ice cold and the conversation was continuous. I hung out with a number of friends and riders I have rode with on the B rides. We talked and laughed until I realized the time had slipped away as Todd, the owner, returned after a beer run. 9:10PM. Late for me. I started to say my good-byes to a number of people ending with Ann Marie. We chatted for a few minutes. Got our schedule together set for Friday’s swim and I took off for home.

I have been training a lot with Ann Marie lately in the swim, bike and ride. She continues to amaze me and the rest of us with her dedication and speed. Strong biker (I can’t keep up with her. Yes, I know I need a more aggressive cassette!) and a super fast runner. I feed off her energy to keep me motivated and also it allows me to keep my eye on her so I know exactly how fast she is becoming! I do the same with my Sarah on her rides. Sarah continues to progress forward on the bike sticking to her “plan”. I am learning on Sarah’s plan from Ken that a workout on the bike does not mean a ”crank fest”. Under the controlled plan, you build speed and strength without going all out all the time. I applied this on the ride last night as well. The heat was a factor, but I was not spent.

I left Reality and call Sarah from the road up in Boston. She had called the house and got no answer assuming that I was already asleep. She knows me too well. Therefore, it was a surprise when I told her that I was on my way home at 9:40PM from Reality. I told her about the ride, the dinner, who I talked to and I also told her I wish she was there with me.

Turning into the driveway, we said out goodnights as I headed into the house to prep for the next day. I had burned off the dinner from the ride so I grabbed a snack, made my lunch, coffee, fed the dog and then headed up to do my stuff for Thursday.

The head hit the pillow after coming down from the day as I set the alarm for 6AM. Rest day after a good day was the order of business for tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Hermit

“Solitude is painful when one is young, but delightful when one is more mature.”
Albert Einstein

Einstein does have a point and he also solidified that I am not mature yet. Thanks Albert.

My wife and two daughters left for Boston on Saturday evening. Since then they have traveled to New Hampshire, dropped Grace and her cousin, Jen off at a weeklong camp. Then Sarah, Ellie and 5 other relatives cruised across the “Live Free or Die” state to “Story Land”. They have been swimming, hitting the amusement park, eating and just having fun.

Me on the other hand, life has not changed. I get up, workout, go to work, come home, make dinner, get ready for the next day, repeat. Actually, there has been a slight change in my schedule. I am traveling home at lunch to let the dog out and with no one being in the house to deter me from my regiment, I am done and ready for bed by 8PM.

I have always enjoyed the comforts of solitude on occasion. With no one in the house I am able to get some “projects” done. Painting trim, working on bathrooms, fixing odds and ends. These things do get accomplished with my family in the house, it just takes longer. After a day of work you usually want to hang with the family and have dinner and talk about the day.

Alone, this time is decreased 5 fold with no conversation and dinner has become a vehicle for just refueling your body.

I had some social interaction this morning in the pool. When I reach the home front for the next 11 hours the only one, I see and talk to has been the dog and she is not too receptive.

Coach Mike has had us knocking out 100’s this morning.

150M EZ
200M Side Kick
10 X 25 Power Kicks underwater
4 X 50M reducing stroke every 50
3 X 100M’s on the 1:50
3 X’s 4 X 100M’s
3 on the 1:50’s
1 on the 2:10
200M for time
10 X 25 Up and Out’s
100M EZ

I think I am missing a set in this workout, but it is close.

I swam with Melissa and Jerry this morning. Both of these strong swimmers keep my honest in the lane. When I lose concentration I am getting a slap on the feet from Jerry. Having Jerry in the lane has helped him as well. He stated he has not hit these times on the 100’s or even the 200 ever. He is getting faster.

Next week, Michelle is taking over the swim workouts while Mike is on vacation. I told Mike that I would be transferring to Johns Creek for the week. He got the roundabout compliment and made it known to me that he got it. Just keep the workouts interesting Mike by mixing up short interval and long stuff and we will all be happy.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Negative Guys and Man Deemed a Runner

The title is misleading and not “negative” at all. It is a statement. It is what happened to Bob & I and what we were after our first 20-mile training run.

We met Calvin and Evan at 5:00AM in front of LTF. We headed out down Morris and up Westside Parkway. Conversation was light. We talked about races and rivals. We discussed other training partners and their training regiments. And we found out by the slip of the tongue Evan’s nickname in college, Joe Pesci. This is because in college Evan who is 5 foot 6??? was over 185 pounds. There was some more stuff he said, but as soon as he told the 3 old dudes he was running with that are relentless, it was over. He is forever deem, “Little Joey P” in our book.

The mile clicked by. At mile 5 we saw a familiar runner heading towards us. Amy was on her 12 mile run and was using the 10 mile (opposite) as part of the 12. She cruised by as we hooted and said hello as we all made our way back into the dark of the morning. We stayed on pace for the almost 9 miles then at the end we kicked it up North Point from Old Milton to give a little cushion to refuel at the LTF parking lot.

I made a snafu by saying that if the second 10 were like the first, this was going to be an easy run. This was after we easily made it up North Point.

Little Joey P had peeled off after 10. Calvin was in for 15 miles and standing waiting our arrival was or next running stud, Hokan. He saw Bob and I come in shirtless and immediately ripped his shirt off and ditched it. His wife, Andrea had said that “real runners” run shirtless. Well, My friend, “you are a real runner”.

The next 10 miles was the exact opposite of the first 10 mile loop. I designed it this way for the mental aspect of running 20 miles. The endurance part on the body is not the issue, it is who the mind screws with you and tells you things that are not true. The mind wants you to stop. It hurts, but you need to be strong and focused to be able to overcome this and push through, as you will see.

The 4 runners, yes Hokan, runners, headed down North Point towards Old Milton. The conversation was lively with a fresh runner in the mix. Hokan told us a story of a frog, his wife and two wasp. Let’s just say it was humorous (the frog part, not the wasp) and would help me about mile 17. The pace was right on, not fast, not slow and not sporadic. We rounded onto Old Milton headed towards Alpharetta center. Bob was on my right shoulder (nice Bob) as Calvin and Hokan took up the rear. The conversation died at this point because ahead we could see the long gradual hill of Old Milton that lay before us. I believe we all saw what lie ahead and as any runner (Hokan you are included) would do we assessed the hills to find where we could attack to hold pace and where the natural forces of gravity would pull us forward with less effort. We became silent.

Hitting mile 12 at the front corner of the abandon mall on the right of Old Milton the long climb to Wills Road 2.1 miles in front of us began.

I shortened my stride and increased cadence as I leaned into the hill with Bob on my right shoulder. The climb was more mental than physical pulling up towards a crest that was nowhere in sight. At the corner of Westside Parkway, Calvin, said his goodbyes as he hooked right onto the blocked off road back to LTF to complete his 15 miles.

The three runners continued on, upward hitting mile 13, the funeral parlor (ironic) the sound of heavy breathing was heard almost drowning out the daily car commuters. Fatigue was setting in. Bob grabbed a Gatorade bottle stashed in the brush at Haynes Bridge as Hokan and I slowed the pace to allow him to drink and regain the pace we had established.

Nearing mile 14, Bob announced that he was done…Done? What? I told him to hang on and get through another mile that would level out and head downhill. I increased the pace to push Bob a bit and to also give him some cushion since we were on the decline near Wills Road.

Wills Road was a gradual incline again, but Bob hung 10 steps behind the whole way rounding onto Milton. Milton started downhill to give a little reprieve but then sharply turned to an incline towards the intersection of Milton and Canton. Bob said needed to run into “The Corner Deli” to grab a Coke to help him make it. Hokan and I decreased pace as Bob was in and out in 15 seconds??? Fast! He drank as he made some ground to get back to us. I looked at my watch as we hit mile 16 and we were 20 seconds off pace! I said to Hokan we will give Bob a few more steps to catch up. Bob, never did. He seemed to fade just slightly. I knew he was struggling, but I also knew that he would had felt bad if we slowed further for him losing our pace.

With Bob knowing the course, the sun being up…The sun was up?! I had not even noticed…Bob would want us to continue. I told Hokan to pick it up as he did at a hard, fast pace as we turned onto Vaughn heading right for HWY 9. Vaughn was my demise as well. Until that point the legs were strong, the mind was sound, but within 3 minutes heading up Vaughn it all went down the toilet.

I focused on Hokan’s shoes and his repetitive stride. He crested Vaughn almost turning left on HWY 9 when like a true, good guy he asked what he could do for me. Talk? Shut up? Increase pace? What? I told him whatever in a less than cordial voice. The demons had set in at that point. We hit mile 17 and all I wanted to do was to stop. My mind said, “let him go, this is a bunch of junk!” But, as Hokan hit mile 17 and made his way up, yes up again, HWY 9 I figured I only have less than 3 miles. 3 freaking mile left! After cresting this one hill I knew it was downhill and flats for over a mile. I knew I could recoup and get my mojo back. Then the mind said, “no way! You are mine!” I pushed through as we turned right onto Windward Parkway passing another runner looking more confused than me. I knew that I had until the turn to get my facilities back for the last 2 miles to make up…23 seconds! Crap!

I dug deep pushing the pain and the thoughts my mind was telling me to do aside and just cranked it up. Hokan still was ahead of me by a step as we hit Westside Parkway with a little up then a huge, long downhill. I leaned into the decline and turned it up. Sensing a surge from behind, Hokan kicked it as well. At the end of mile 18 we hit a 7:40 pace. That made up the deficit and then some. I attempted to calculate how much time left and rounded to 9. 9 minutes for the last mile of 20. I eased up, gathered myself and prepared for the .85 mile hill to the finish. Running Morris, I took the inside corner to make ground on Hokan and to stay even with him. We rounded the corner of Morris and went straight up. The first part was a hill then plateau’d for brief second as it winded up to our final destination.

With less than a quarter mile to go, my track experience kicked in and I was off. I passed Hokan and tore up the hill and rounded the 25 meters to the end.

A few minutes after Hokan and I finished Bob came in looking strong. HE stopped and collapsed on the sidewalk. He told us of his adventures of getting water at the BP and stopping at Holiday Inn Express for some mango/orange juice before meeting up with us.

Now, I don’t know how long he was in these two establishments, but to come in a few minutes behind, if he had carried a bottle with him, we would have been trailing Bob.

The run ended for Bob and I, though at different times at a negative split. The first half was slower (by design) that the second half. A true runner wants this and rarely can accomplish it.
Ending this 20 mile run, I mentioned about a frog, Hokan’s wife and two wasps. The story is funny and painful, but at certain points on the edge of the abyss from mile 17 to 19.7, the story, though funny in some areas clouded my mind over the doubts.

I am grateful for Hokan's companionship on the last 10 miles. I wish him strength and enjoyment as he and his family venture to Lake Placid, New York as he participates in my favorite Ironman Race.

I am finding that readjusting my goals for Chicago so far it is turning out to be a good decision. As for the number of injuries that are plaguing me? No change. Pain Management…

And Bob, good job.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Realizing Defeat and Moving On

After posting yesterday my father sent me this qoute:

"History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats."
In order for me to triumph I must get past my defeat....
Thanks Dad.
I have decided to backdown on the Chicago Marathon in my training. I hate to use this, but "one man's misfortune is another man's gain."
With one of the Wonder Twins being out for the past week with an illness, I have picked up a running partner for the interm. I am planning runs with Bob. I will be running the 20 miler with him based off the 3:15:00 plan. If that is too aggressive for both, we will scale back to the 3:20:00. If this is the case and Todd decideds to run Chicago, I may be able to run with him to get him across the Finish Line in 3:20:00.
It is not fun being injured, but I have accepted that I am so that is how I will be until I can rid my body of this plague.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Internal Crossroads

“If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere.”
Frank A. Clark

After a good bike ride on Saturday with Sarah I started to really think about the Chicago Marathon. I continue to struggle with my desire to be my best and achieve goals that I set out for myself. I push my body and mind to places I never thought were possible to be faster and stronger. I stick to my plans (most of the time) and as Sarah points out, I am regimented in my life. I wake up at a certain time (mostly without the alarm), I at certain times eat, I drink when I am supposed to drink, I workout at the same times, I get to work at the same time, I get home on time, get ready for the next day and start it all over again with very little deviation. Note: this is Monday through Friday.

When deviations to my schedule do happen, I adapt make changes and move on, even though I may not like it. I have a goal and must achieve that which makes me who I am as a human. Human…that is what I am. Not immortal, not a machine and not a super hero. Just a human, with doubts, feelings, guilt and failure.

I have this quote above on my board in my office. I placed it above my phone on June 21, 20102 so every day I reminded that life is a journey and no journey is easy.

Over the weekend, I will tell you that I was not in the best of moods. No external factor put me in a cauldron of despair of a bad attitude. It has been the last 21 days of internalizing my failures and doubts. My failures of being able to achieve a realistic goal I set out for myself. I have failed myself in the ability to train for the Chicago Marathon and achieve the training schedule that I have set for myself over the last 16 weeks.

I have internalized my failure of myself and have doubts that I will be able to complete my own objective of a PR time at Chicago.

The continued presence of my own injuries has left me beaten. Icing, stretching, weights, rest, ibuprofen, repeat twice a day sometimes three times a day are wearing on me. Nevertheless, I am stubborn and do not like defeat. So I continue on.

Running had become fluid for me over the last couple of years. I need no music to push me up a hill, no GPS system to tell what my pace is or how far I have gone and no heart rate monitor to warn me that I am out of my Zone. I eagerly plot a course and run with hitting my times and distance with only the help of a $30 Timex watch. It felt good.

Lately this fluidness is a struggle. Warm ups are like fingers on a chalk board, the serenity of the sound of my shoes clicking along are overwhelmed with negative thoughts of doubts if I am even going to finish the run.

Burned out? No! I have taken time off, I still do. I am only on the roads 3 times a week and have my off time. There are glimpses of the feeling that are smoldering in my core and I have ignited bursts of “the feeling” and in an instant I am Zen running again, but then the reminders of injury creep back to me.

Well, “you should stop, take some time off”, I have been told. I don’t reply or comment, because it comes from my friends that are forged from the same mold as I. They are stubborn, determined, strong willed individuals that if I told them the same thing they would react in the same manner.

This is my burden that I carry and will continue to internalize. I confide in Sarah, because she is the one person in my life that truly understands what I go through. I am not weak. I don’t complain. I don’t say poor me. I push through it. I refuse to believe I am defeated. I have not reached my potential yet, even at my age of what I can do. Sarah understands this because she’ forged from the same cast and I appreciate her understanding while I deal with these demons.

The quote above places me at a crossroads. Do I back down the pace for Chicago that leads me where? Alternatively, do I keep pushing through my internal obstacles towards my goals?

I know the answer, I just cannot accept it.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Getting on the Track

I recently read an article on efficiency. Not for business, but for pleasure. The reason for the interest is that I have picked up a few runs with a running group and the see how a “true” runner runs. They are aerodynamic, fluid and efficient in their stride and paces. I have also run with my friends over the last month as well. The traits I see in the running group versus my friends are not egalitarian. My friends compared to the others are equal in athletic abilities and desires, but the “way they run” are not.

The example I am about to discuss is one that you need to open your mind to and think about what is being said instead of the object being discussed.

"Today, we can move a ton of freight an average of 410 miles on just one gallon of diesel fuel."

The article brings into light a number of different variables into the situation for a modern locomotive to haul a 1 ton load with only 1 gallon of diesel fuel: Aerodynamics, friction, perpetual motion, maintenance…

An average modern diesel freight train weighs 180 tons. It takes 180 gallons of diesel fuel to just to move itself 410 miles. Add cars and supplies being transported the weight has increased to 25,000 tons or even more, but it still only uses 1 gallon of diesel??? In 1996, the heaviest transport by train was 79,900 tons, but each of the 10 locomotives attached averaged still 1 gallon of diesel per 400 miles.

Now, how can a massive piece of machinery average 1 gallon per 410 miles when a Tractor Trailer truck can only aver 7 to 8 miles per gallon? Aerodynamics, friction, perpetual motion, maintenance play a key role in the transportation by rail.

Trains are designed to be aerodynamic to slice the wind resistance and be streamline. The locomotive slices the wind causing a draft behind for the pull cars which decreases total drag. Trains from point A to point B are using perpetual motion. Starting and stopping uses the most energy, but once they are at a constant, the efficiency increases and is less strain on the components to move the mass forward. Friction comes from the rails and parts, but is constant also and varies slightly. Maintenance of the locomotive is important was well in order to maintain the high efficiency rate of diesel use, the train must be working effortlessly by constant upkeep and repair.

We all see trucks on the road of even cars. None of the principals of efficiencies applies due to a number of factors. You drive, you know. Some of us are guilty as well of the "lead foot" which decreases our fuel economy to get from Point A to Point B.

So what does all this mean? Why the education in physics and motion? Read the first paragraph again and tie it all in.

I run with a runner in the running group name, Chris. He is 6’5” over 200+ lbs. He ran a 2:54:00 at the last ING ATL Marathon. He has only been running for 4 years and is 43. I am 149 pounds, 5' 10" and have been running for 30 years and ran a 3:11:00? Natural born runner? Maybe, but I do notice his stride, his pace, his form. All efficient, nothing varies. If Chris has all these principals of aerodynamics, friction, perpetual motion, maintenance down when he runs, does it not make sense that he uses less energy and can travel further and faster than another runner who may only have 3 out of 4 principals going on?

The biggest thing I see in my friends when they run is that they want to run to beat a time. They have 400 meter intervals in 0:01:28 they need to run and they push it to run them in 0:01:23 as an example. Alternatively, when they are running around the track instead of maintaining the constant velocity pace they increase it when another runner is on their heels. The increases in pace uses energy, more energy exerted fatigue kicks in, the more fatigue, form (aerodynamics) suffers, etc. Yeah, you “blow” away for set times, but for what? Injury? Soreness the next day? Not being able to hit the “training” paces on the next run?

I see the same in long runs or even races. Be fast, shave the time and finish before “that person” is all that clouds the mind. During training runs, If a pick up happens (even when the "pick-up’er” is on another pace schedule) the runner who is training at a certain pace will pick it up as well. Why? Do they not want to be last? Do they think they other runners will think they are weak? What drives us to compete even in training when training by definition is:

"the education, instruction, or discipline of a person or thing that is being trained: He's in training for the Olympics."

Do you see the words, race the other person or beat the other person in a race in this definition? I see education, instruction, discipline. All wording that is a part of every one of our training plans. But, do we apply them???

So why do we do this? I am as guilty as any one of my friends for doing this foolish act as well. A training run is a training run, not a race. But with age and experience, I believe I am becoming a better "runner" instead being good at running.

I believe we as humans are capable of more speed and endurance that our grey matter can comprehend.

Just think, if each of us took into consideration: aerodynamics, friction, perpetual motion, maintenance and remained constant with these four principals would we be faster, stronger and more efficient on the run? On the bike? In the water?

I believe it is human nature to be part of a group. No one likes to be alone, but in order for you to be you and for you to tap into your potential, you need to get to know yourself to find out if you are “runner” or one who runs.

Here is an email conversation I had with a running friend of mine. The potential is there, but the use of principals is lacking in all four.

To set it up. Runner B had a 17 mile "training" run at an 8:20 pace.

Runner A: Uh, you went a lot faster. Your pace was 8:12 for 17. Time to step up to 3:15:00 Marathon or even the 3:10:00 my friend.
Runner B:
You are out of your mind.
Runner A:
What, that you had an 8:12 pace or stepping up on the marathon time?
Runner B:
Marathon time. I'm still trying to wrap my head around a sub 3:20
Runner A: Piece of cake, Mr. 8:12’s on the 17 miler.
Runner B: Race pace is 7:37. What is it for 3:15 (Can you see that Runner B is interested in a faster time?)
Runner A: 7:26.
Runner B:
Hmmmm. I know I could do it for 15 miles. The last 11 would be tough!
Runner A: Not if you are consistent in your pacing. I would stay consistent for ½ mile every so often and you would continue to drudge forward faster and faster while I stayed at an even pace. Fast then slow, fast then slow, eats up a lot of your energy. Just like a car. Step on the pedal, ease off, etc…eats up gas, thus less efficient.

You have the mentality and athlete ability to break 3:15, just not the structure. Training is not a race. It is training. You train your body for the distance, not to get from one point to the next “faster” than you are supposed to do. Just like what you do on the track.
I am not beating you up, I just believe you have a lot more potential and if done right you could break 3:15 no problem.

My personal opinion is that I suggest you run some of the long runs solo. The reason being is that you are running against the runners you train with. I use the word “against” because that is what goes on.

Run to become your own better runner and not to run to beat someone or the time. Find your mojo, find your groove and not worry about anyone else. It is not as fun to run solo, but I believe it is necessary in order for you to find out what kind of runner you are. I found this out with all my solo runs and I was able hit my times and not have to take a nap after wards.
You can do whatever you set your mind too and I am here to help.

The 10 miles this morning though it was a good run was filled with paces that were up and down. It zapped energy because of where Runner B wanted to be in the pack and was too fixed on being faster than the training time and not feeling the pace for the training run.

Every motion for another runner to lead would result in increases in pace and Runner B in the front. Aerodynamics was not used to settle in to the draft to conserve energy behind other runners. Friction was increased because of fatigue and foot strikes longer on the pavement. Perpetual motion was void from the increases and sudden decreases in pace and maintenance was okay, but for 2+ hours out on the roads more fuel and fluids should have been taken in to continue a constant velocity in pace.

This entry is by no means bashing on my friend or any of my friends. Like Runner B, they are all excellent athletes and each one pushes me to strive for greatness every time I am around them. I just want to open minds to the potential of what is achievable. You say, "I can't" and guess what?

I witness Runner B’s untapped potential when I run with him and if he became his “own runner” instead of the lead runner in a training run (aka race run), his potential to succeed is unlimited.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

"Fast Women and The Old Dude"

When you think of fast women this is the type of image most men and yes, women think of:

However, after the last two weekends my interpretation of the phase, “Fast Women” has taken on a completely different meaning.

The weekend before the Fourth of July, I witnessed 9 females that I know participate in the Iron Girl Sprint Triathlon up at Lake Lanier. I watched in amazement as Sarah, Carmen, Ann Marie, Stacy, Raquel, Jennifer, Susan, Josephina and Amy tore up the tri course bettering their times from the last time they attacked this course and for some even a podium spot. All 9 made qualified for the National Championship for Sprint Triathlons as well.

Now, I say, “amazement” not that I doubt their abilities, but how far a number of these women- athletes have come. Each one of them continues to become more efficient, stronger and of course faster in all 3 disciplines. The development of these 30 & 40 something athletes in swimming, biking and running is nothing more than amazing.

As we stand watching the runners come in during the final stages Carmen (I have to say Carmen took an overall win position at Iron Girl…) she asked me, “why don’t you do triathlons anymore?” My answer was easy and honest, “Because of you, my wife, Sarah, Ann Marie, Stacy and down the line, everyone is getting stronger and each one of you can blow the doors off this aging athlete”.

I told Carmen, “I stick to running. At least I know I have you there.” Well, for now.

Jump forward one week. After a week of vacationing with my family of 15 in Ocean Isle and a 7.5 hour car ride home on Saturday, I got up at 4:45AM to run the Peachtree Road Race on the Fourth of July. I usually do not run this race because we are out of town, but this year with us being home, I snagged a number from Chris (thanks again buddy) and decided to run it.

Now, for the now. I was running the 10K or 6.2 mile run with Ann Marie and 60,000 other runners.

Ann Marie since February has been under the guidance and control of her triathlon coach, Ken. Ken for your information has deemed her “The SD”.

The both of us had decided to run the 10K together to see if Ann Marie could break her PR of 44:37 set in 2008.

We set out along with Amy, Scott, Ken and our loyal supporter, Susan on Sunday morning from the Old Milton Waffle House down to Buckhead and the start of the Peachtree 10K.

Doubts continued to fill Ann Marie’s head as after a number of potty breaks for all and a warm up we nestled into Corral 1A for the start. We saw, Wren and Seth while we waited. I talked to Dave and a few other people I know as we hung out on the road to await the announcement of the start.

Ann Marie, was nervous about even hitting a 44:00 on this course. But her training and the conditions that day made it ideal for her to shatter that 44:37 set two years ago.
We sat and waited and waited with Seth and Amy before the start. After the “Star Spangle Banner” it was time. Ann Marie said she is staying “left” on the road and will not deviate from this set course. Since this was a training tempo run for me I was happy to just have someone to run with and who better than “The SD” and a friend.

When the gun went off and Corral 1A made its way across the mats to clock our chip time, Ann Marie took off like a rabbit out of a hole. She stayed true to her word and hugged the left side of the road making sharp but efficient darts in between the slower runners. For the first mile, I shadowed her moves with Seth on my heels. After the first mile the runners started to thin out and there was more room for me to lock onto Ann Marie’s right shoulder. I decided to hang her and let her set her own pace.

By mile 2, Seth had peeled off (he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro just two weeks ago) I had settled in to a rhythm and was comfortably running a 6:20 pace less than ½ of a step behind Ann Marie. We continued downhill picking up speed and by the mile 3 marker I looked at my watch and the split time was 18:57.

I knew the next 2 miles were going to eat up the split time due to the hills. We grabbed water, drank and soaked ourselves to cool down as the hills grew in front of us. The next mile came and the runners thinned out more. I moved along side of Ann Marie so she could she me and pace herself against my stride and cadence as we journeyed upwards. Mile 4 was complete with a little reprieve of a down grade in the road. We swung over to douse and drink in preparation for the next series of hills. This is where I saw Ann Marie let up just a little as the pace declined. She looked fine, but her form was a little off indicating some fatigue. I moved in front of her and allowed her to focus on me and help pull her through the gravity induced inclines that came.
The further we progressed the pace fell off. (Keep in mind, that when I say the pace declined I am talking seconds not minutes.) As we hit the mile 5 mark a water station waited. I moved to the left in front of her and picked up 2 water cups as I saw her grabbing cups as well. (We were running through most of the stations at a sub 7 pace) I drank then dumped on my head with one and dumped then drank with the other. For good measure, I took one more and splashed it on me as I saw my running partner taper off just a hair more.

I moved to the right and saw Ann Marie drop back again. I slowed but did not want to slow too much and loose the momentum that I had built up. As we passed the mile 5 marker and water, I kept looking back spotting her and hoping that she would catch up. My pace was constant and with a little kick, she would be there. Her paced did not waiver and the gap stayed consistent. Again, remember we are cooking at a 6:50 pace at mile 5.

I decided to make a move and increase my cadence and speed over the last little incline before hitting the downhill portion. I gradually progressed forward as Ann Marie kept her pace and followed behind at a good pace.

Passing 12th street, I took a glance back and saw my friend cruising along as I kicked it up the last small incline heading towards 10th street. This is where the guilt started to overwhelm me. I felt like I had abandoned her on the side of the road to fend for herself. What would she think of me? Leaving her behind? Then I thought, “I know exactly what she would think!” If I had not tested myself and gave a good effort to the finish, she would think I had left too much on the road that day. Ann Marie is a competitor. She is a good friend as well and I think that is why we get along so well. She knows that I am a competitor as well and if for any reason if I thought she was in trouble I would have stopped. But, the fire in her eyes said something else and if I had “eased” up I think she would have been disappointed in my effort.

Besides, I know with me trudging ahead sparked the competitive juices in her and she stepped it up even if I could not bear witness to it.

Rounding 10th Street I increased the pace maybe a few 100 meters too soon. The fatigue hit me at that point and to add to the fatigue my right shoe lace came completely undone with a half mile to go. I heard a spectator calling my name as I glanced to my left and saw Susan taking a sanp shot as I went by.

I changed up my stride and hit on the tips of my toes to keep the shoe from flying off. I found an area on the road with no runners so no one could step on my laces. I kept my head down so I would not trip myself as I gradually increased my speed. I saw the finish ahead and looked at my watch. 41:53. With the shoe lace undone, I knew the sub 42 was not going to happen.

I crossed the line at 42:03.

I waited around (being yelled at to “keep moving”) and told a volunteer I felt sick as I wobbled a few steps. I told this fib because I wanted to wait for my running partner, Ann Marie to cross. 31 seconds later here she came, darting across the line.

Ann Marie got her personal best at the Peachtree that day by almost a full 2 minutes. 42:34 was the official time. A time I know, she is proud of and a time, I am proud of for being a part of.

The pace for me was 49 seconds faster per mile than was scheduled. I felt good, so I kept going, not at 100% effort for after all, it was just a “training run”.

Fast women and the old dude does sound appropriate for this entry. At least for now, I know I don’t need a fast car to beat them on foot.