Thursday, July 12, 2018

But officer, I didn't mean to Streak!

It began innocently enough. I was compiling miles on June 29 to be able to know my mileage for the first half of the year. Because I don't use an online log, I actually write in one in pretty much diary form, I also use this time to flip through some pages as well as check my math. While working my way through the front half of 2018, I had a thought: I don't think I've taken a day off this year. Despite the knee issues, the butt issues, and life in general, I don't think I've missed a day. Lo and behold, It is/was true. I have strung together, somehow, a streak of sorts.

The next step was to grab the 2017 edition and see how far back this phenomenon goes. I knew I had missed a bunch of days/weeks/months post surgery, but had no idea when my daily running dose became consistent. Huh, not that far. The last day off in 2017 was Christmas Eve.

SO, long story short, today was my 200th day in a row. A streak is born.

A streak, yeah right. I've had plenty of longer streaks. In fact, long ago, I bundled up almost 1000 days in a row (falling short when jinxed by my ex-mother-in law - that being another story for my memoir). But if I have to be honest, this one was kind of a pleasant surprise. I did not, at the beginning of the year, set out to run every day. I have had years where that was one of my goals. This time, nope: didn't even think about it.

So how did this non event occur? Cycles. Cycles? Yep, cycles.

I think runners with any kind of longevity go through cycles. The Creation cycle, when you first discover the activity; the Competition cycle, when everything is about racing, competing, PRs; the Creative/Challenge cycle, when we attempt to find ways other than the competition to excel; the Comfort cycle, when we merely fit it in and it becomes, while still semi-important, more low key; and the Cornerstone cycle, when we realize that fast or slow, this running thing is deeply a part of our lives until it no longer can be. I am in the Cornerstone cycle (or maybe they're more like phases). I don't run because I want to or need to or I'm hoping to qualify for this or that, I run today because today is a day and a big part of any day is the run.

By the way, I don't think there is a set order for these cycles/phases. I have gone in and out of the competition phase at least five times in my almost 52 years running. There is no set duration. I've comforted out for a few months, sometime longer. From the end of 2000 to the end of 2008, I sat in the Comfort phase knowing that I was in a place that really didn't allow me to devote the time and effort needed for competition or challenge. What's become important to me is understanding where I am and (most importantly) being okay there.

Right now, I like this Cornerstone phase. There's no need to dazzle anyone, no need to adhere to anyone else's expectations of me as a runner, and most importantly, no judgment of myself. I am a runner, albeit a slow one, but a runner nonetheless. Because I am firmly impeded in that, I can both celebrate and dismiss this 200 day streak. I like that!

Run on.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Isn't that the way it goes sometimes? 

So last week, after my Runspittle whinefest ( , I actually had a pretty good running week. Got in 56 miles and some of them were as close to pain free as I think It could possibly be at this time. All in all, I was pretty jazzed up. A definite step forward. Then, it happened.

Sunday, we (my son Ryan and me) were moving some stuff from the garage to the basement in an attempt to make some room in several places in the house. Up and down the stairs with couch pieces, desks, and other assorted stuff. Now, I should mention here that I am pretty cautious on steps since my knee surgery. I go up carefully, and down gingerly. No hurry and no need to have an issue, right? Well, all of the actual moving went without a hitch. Then I was walking through the kitchen, just walking, and BAM..... knee totally buckled. Not good.

Immediately, I went in to monitoring mode as to whether something structural had happened. Didn't seem like it. So, ice was the answer (well, actually, frozen corn was the answer). I gimped around most of the evening hoping that the next day would be acceptable. Hmmmmm.... not so much. I Rock Taped myself and shuffled my way through four fairly uncomfortable miles (although slightly better than I expected) and spent most of the rest of the day frozen corning.

This morning I decided to head to Tagawa Gardens and run strictly soft on the trails around the area. I taped up (trying a new meniscus wrapping I had seen on youtube), and shuffled off again. I won't say there was no pain, but I will say it began better than yesterday. By two miles, it felt fairly normal, and after four I was tempted to keep going. Decided to NOT. Safety before miles, right? I'll be corning for the next few days to keep the inflammation in check (got some Great Value frozen corn wrapped around as I type). In the end, I'll chalk this up to it being an easy week.

In the meantime, there were some great races to monitor over the weekend. The USATF National Championships were on Thursday through Sunday and it was fun to follow some of my favorite athletes. Probably the best races were the 1500's. Both Men and Women had tight races with quite a bit of depth. Shelby Houlihan impressively beat Jenny Simpson on the women's side (and came back to win the 5000 meter run as well), and Matt Centrowitz pulled off one more tactically awesome victory. Was also excited to watch Evan Jager, Paul Chelimo, Lopez Lomong, Rachel Schneider, Courtney Frerichs, and others. Just fun to watch some track and field.

Then, there was the Western States 100 where Jim Walmsley finally had the WS100 that everyone knew he was capable of having. He broke the course record by over 16 minutes and defeated Francois D'haene by way over an hour (and he's one of the best in the world). Technology and great sites like make "watching" these races possible and ALOT of time was spent on Twitter refreshing updates.

So we trudge on ever so gingerly towards the next mile. I hope your miles are relaxed and fun.

Run on.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Clarity Through Whining Makes a Winning Combo

Only need one, actually
Two weeks ago, I ran the Dexter to Ann Arbor Half Marathon. It was okay. It was slow (that's what old, tired, fat guys do, they run slow). Mostly, it was eye-opening. I thought I could run faster. I didn't. Of course, I have been doing this long enough that I am quite aware that when you train slow, you race slow (and I train slow). So.... no surprise. The surprise (although it really isn't) is that I just don't care at this point.

It's been a year and a half since my knee surgery. While it isn't worse, it's certainly not much better. Every day is a mystery, not of WILL it hurt, but how much. Getting tired of that (by the way, if you read this and are wondering why I do not seek other medical help, that will never happen again. Every doctor I have ever seen for a running related issue has botched it up. Every one since Dr. Schroeder in the tenth grade. Don't get me wrong, I seen some good PA's, PT's, and some good Chiros. Doctors? You can have them..... all). 

Anyway, while running Friday in my favorite woods, clarity hit: this knee thing has drained me. I am no longer a fan of pretty much any kind of running discomfort. When the going gets tough and I get into discomfort, my option is don't fight, don't push, slow down. And the problem is that for the last year and a half, it is ALL discomfort. The result of this? No discomfort, no speed. No discomfort, no fast racing. But what's amazing is that once that awesome realization hit, I experienced a nice calming sort of feeling and see the running thing much more clearly than I have in quite some time. Mindset alteration in progress.....

By the way, without choosing to deal with discomfort, real racing is not an option. Racing, I said, not races. I can still shuffle my way through a 10K or a Half and have no issue with my detachment from "racing." Simple deal, mindset alteration. 

But some other things have to change too, if for nothing else, my own self-respect and sanity.

First and foremost: marathons. If I am uninterested in 13.1 miles of discomfort, who in the hell wants it for 26.2? Not me, that's for sure. SO, the Chicago Marathon? Probably not. I will more than likely defer my entry until 2019 and hope that by then maybe the mood will resurface. If not, that'll be okay too. Cal International in December? Doubt it.

I had a goal of finishing 26 of them. I'd like to think that I still might do that. Then again, maybe not. I'm okay either way.

Realization: I never really was a good marathoner. I've probably run three decent ones and the other 14 have just sucked: completely mediocre. Given my 15:09 5K, 32:21 10K, and 1:12 Half, my marathons should have always been faster. They weren't, and it's been decades of frustration until my present ah-ha moment: I am not a marathoner. FINALLY, I am okay with that. 

Next, you know what? No next. The rest of my issues are for me and you really don't want me to head down that road. Let's just say that it has been a very discouraging last couple of weeks as far as other parts of life are concerned (maybe disappointing is a better word). Suffice it to say that in my sunset years I will strive to make things easier and go out of my way not to get entangled into everyone else's bullshit. Too much of life is spent focused on the "wall of no control." No more.

In the meantime, Eliud Kipchoge's words are more meaningful than ever: "Run with the run."

Run on (your way).

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Enjoying a Little Kicking Back And.... the Bolder Boulder

Bolder Boulder 10K
With it having been a hair over a month since Eugene, I have been enjoying this time to sort of kick back and run some lowish miles and not think about much. The weeks have averaged 40-50 miles and with the exception of one tempo run, nothing significant has happened. 

Well, almost nothing, there was the Bolder Boulder. Once again I have followed the masses to a race with whom I have a Love/Hate relationship. Followed the masses? For more on that, read In the meantime.....

HATE. 1) I hate the crowded roads. Don't get me wrong, the Bolder Boulder has done a great job creating one of the most effective wave starting systems in the sport. And don't get me wrong, I love that so many people want to run the streets of the People's Republic of Boulder. It's just too crowded. That's all. 2) Hate might be a bit strong, but I've never cared for the course. Again... don't get me wrong, I love finishing in the stadium. The rest of it.... eh.... no big deal.

LOVE. The event. Despite all of my dislikes (and there are a bunch of other minor gripes I've neglected to write about), I Love the event itself. It's a place where people of ALL abilities are welcome, including pro racers. And ESPECIALLY.... it is a wonderful celebration of Memorial Day. No matter how the Bolder Boulder has evolved in the past 40 years, oner thing has stayed true: it is a Memorial Day extravaganza and that has yet to be forgotten.

Thank you, thank you very much
So anyway, I sort of ran the thing, was unable to breathe at any time, slapped a high five with Elvis, and that was enough for a Monday. Maybe next year I'll run this thing seriously, but I doubt it. My last serious BB 10K was in 2000 when I ran a hair over 41 minutes two days after a 1:25 half marathon in Michigan. Speaking of half marathons in Michigan, that's where I sit tonight: Michigan, awaiting tomorrow's Dexter to Ann Arbor Half Marathon.

I have run Dexter to Ann Arbor two other times. I ran the previously mentioned half marathon in 2000 and ran it when it was longer, the first one, in 1974. Now, let's get this right, the half marathon wasn't longer in 1974 (it's always been 13.1 miles - a half marathon). Originally, the race was a fifteen mile race. Maybe it's farther from Dexter to Ann Arbor than it used to be? Whatever.

It's this 13.1 mile jaunt that will be the springboard into my eighteen week buildup for October's Chicago marathon. Three six week macrocycles, each focused on a different training component. Hoping my knee improves, hoping to run well. We'll see, right? The beginning always supports optimism.

Nonetheless, here we go. Run on.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Post Eugene: Pre The Next One

One more sucky race photo
The euphoria of my Hayward Field finish wore off rather quickly. Having to rush out of an Airbnb and head for Portland to catch a flight home made for a harried day to say the least.

All in all, there were few post race effects. I was a bit sore for two days although nothing monumental, my toe still hurt from that unfortunate encounter with the root on Hollister Trail, and I seemed to have brought the rain home with me. Other than that, piece of cake.

This week's training had a built in back-off. I ran slow and easy Monday and Tuesday just to keep the blood flowing (not just from the race but also because of all the traveling the two weeks prior). Wednesday felt like a halfway decently normal day and the rest of the week fell into place. Plan: run consistent, not a lot, and slow.

All that changed Sunday as I was out on an 8 mile run and I got this idea in my head. "You say you're going to start training now, instead of just running, so how about a little tempo action?" I looked at my watch, saw that I had been going for about a mile and a half, so decided to 5-4-3-2-1 it (with apologies to Mel Robbins - or maybe not). Off I went.

I was not only unsure of the pace I should be running, but I wasn't completely sure of the duration. Also, only a vague idea of the heart rate. SO..... I relied on my past. In the old days, a tempo run was 18-22 minutes at a pace around your 10-13.1 race pace. Simple enough for me: 10:00 - 10:10 probably. 

By the way, nowadays we call so many different kinds of run TEMPO runs that it's become rather confusing. I'll rely on my two experts: Coach Joe Vigil and Jack Daniels (the coach, not the whiskey). 18-22 min at roughly VO2Max pace.

The first mile or so was labored and uncomfortable. Mile two eased up a bit but I could tell that after all this time of simply running, training would be a whole different feeling (you'd think that wouldn't be a surprise after 51 1/2 years). Nonetheless, the uncomfortable mile was around 10:24 (and mostly downhill - yikes, that's slow), the second a 10:04. My heart rate was around 154 during mile two, averaged 146 for the whole thing, and maxed out at 160. The heart rate aspect was okay. I should be tempo-ing around 155-158 for my age and fitness level. Then I got home and discovered, much to my chagrin, my pace should have been 9:50. Maybe next time.

The roughly four mile cooldown brought about two emotions: I was happy to have accomplished the first real workout in a long time, and a bit sad that just 18 years ago, 6:30 was tempo pace. (did he write JUST 18 years ago - Ha!). Of course, if you'd like to go WAY back, 45 years ago, we ran nothing slower than 6 minute pace. I digress.

Looking for a good week of training. Thinking I might jump in the Colfax Half in two weeks as it's a local race I have yet to run, and the Bolder Boulder 10K the week after. Then.... it's the Dexter to Ann Arbor Half on June 3 in Michigan a race I ran during its debut in 1974. THEN...... a summer of TRAINING for the fall racing season.

So, that's it. Have a great week. Run on.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Eugene Half: Passing Grade with Needs Improvement add-on

After a nice two weeks of training in the lovely State of Idaho, I was ready to face the always challenging prospect of "racing" the Eugene Half Marathon. What  follows is my evaluation of that race...

I rolled in to Portland early Friday morning after a late flight from Boise Thursday night netted me about 4 1/2 hours of sleep. Undaunted, I decided to have a little fun prior to race day. Just outside of Portland is the Nike World Headquarters and I needed to get in a run. Theoretically, the HQ (as we insiders like to call it) is designed to be strictly for the use of Nike athletes and employees. I figured this: I bought my first Nikes in 1975, if that doesn't make me a Nike athlete, I don't know what would.

I parked the car, emerged to grab some things from the trunk, and lo and behold, there is Nike superstudette Amy Cragg. I say, "Hi Amy!" Amy says HI and I notice she looks tired/cranky. I decide our conversation is over. Then it's off to run the Hollister Trail. Across the street from HQ, the Hollister is a 1.5 mile loop crushed rock trail that was (because it
was lunchtime) full of folks enjoying the trail. I get in just under 6 miles and then detour to the Michael Johnson track, surface of the stars. Amazingly, I get in a couple of laps without incident.

I say, without incident, but I guess there was ONE. About 3 miles into the run, I trip on a root and go down like a ton of bricks. A nice lady inquires about my well being, says I should be careful of those "root-snakes" and we move on. The fun doesn't end, however, back at the car it takes 20 minutes to find my wallet and then a usable bathroom for my bleeding knee.
Time to exit HQ.

Next stop is Eugene and a check in at a cozy little Airbnb place. I exchange pleasantries with the owner and get settled in. What next? Maybe a quick stop at the expo to pick up my number and a swing-by at Hayward Field to check it out.

The Expo was okay, as Expos go. I loved the Oregon Track Club booth (I AM a member,
you know), was disappointed with the sizing of the mediocre race T Shirt, but okay with the overall days happenings. After a tasty meal at the Agate Alley Bistro, bright and early, I am off to dreamland.

Other than a fabulous 8 mile run on Pre's Trail, Saturday was uneventful. I poked around the Expo a little more, went to the Eugene Running Company, and mostly laid around. But Pre's Trail, made the day. I love that trail and simply couldn't stop running. It is the embodiment of one of America's greatest runners and it's a shame he never saw his vision firsthand (Steve Prefontaine died about four months before the trail opened). It was packed with a nice mix (probably) of out of towners and locals. Then...... it happened.

I was slipping out after sundown to grab some bananas for the morning when I opened the fence and bam! A mosquito flew straight into my mouth. I tried desperately to both swallow and/or hack him out. Neither was easy. Finally, I figured I had beaten the monster. Now, the only thing that remained was careful monitoring to see if 1) he has stung me in the throat, 2) it would swell to the size of a melon, and 3) I wouldn't be able to breathe come morning. And West Nile....... don't get me started.

I awoke bright and early on race morn, drove to the shuttle lot and proceeded to have forgotten my wallet. Thinking it would come in handy post race, I blitzed it back to Casa de Eugene, retrieved it (wallet issues this weekend?), and made it with time to spare. After a mile warm-up, I moved quickly to Corral E for the start.

When it said, Corral E, on my number I didn't think much of it. WRONG!!! Corral E was the last group to leave. Filled with walkers and people who appeared much slower than even me (which is not an easy task), I cursed my stupidity at not checking out the corral when I moved my entry from the Marathon to the half. Live and learn, right?

Then, the race began. It was right as the first Corral departed that I completely reduced my expectations for the day. Fortunately I was wrong. While my first half mile was a testament to lateral movement and supreme coordination (passed in about 6 and a half minutes), I found some room on the side of the road and began moving.

The course was fine, hillier than I thought, and my pace was even. I have no exciting moments to share (although I hear I butt dialed everyone from my phone -21 times to be exact). I kept a good steady pace, never going beyond that semi-comfort/discomfort place of early pacing. I never felt great, but never felt lousy either. 

My goal was to run 2:15. I ran 2:13:30. Heart rate 154, which is indicative of my semi-effort. The best part was finishing on the Hayward Field Track. A decent crowd was in the stands and along the side and it made for an epic finish. I captured the 200 meters via video and will not torture you with the contents.

All in all, it was what I wanted; an honest evaluation of my current fitness. The realization is that my next move needs to go from running to training. My next big test is the Dexter to Ann Arbor Half on June 3. I ran the first Dex to AA run in 1974. We have history. I'd love to get in sub 2:00 shape by then.

Well, after two weeks on the road and a plethora of exciting experiences during the Tour de Teaching Idaho and the Eugene Half, I'm happy to head home. In the meantime, Run with the Run.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

On the Road Again

Even the river has traffic signs
Seven short days until the Eugene Half Marathon. Excited? Well, no, not really and with pretty good reason.....there's no time to be excited.

For just over a week now, I have been on the Tour de Teaching Idaho. It's a twelve day journey in one of my favorite states doing what I love a bunch, teaching me some real estate agents. I figured the Tour, or should I call it Le Tour, would really cramp my training but it hasn't. In fact, I had a good week, this last one, of 63 miles.

There's nothing significant about any of the runs. Well, that's not entirely true, as a couple of them were downright good. But, first and foremost, it has been a week of River Trail runs. I've been on the Boise River trail, the Snake River Canyon trail, and now the Spokane River trail. I'll confess that while there is little overly challenging about the river trail, it makes for good, simple, usually close to the hotel running. And, I like good, simple, and close.
Sunrise on the Snake River Canyon trail

It's also been a week of watching marathons while on the road. Boston was Monday and I will confess to having it live streaming on my iPad in my podium while teaching Pricing Strategies (didn't miss a beat, either - on either). And this morning, London, and the great Eliud Kipchoge. Never ceases to amaze me how easy he makes it look.

As previously insinuated, a couple of the runs felt great. A nine miler Wednesday morning in Twin Falls left me wanting even more. Just felt easy, smooth, and paced. I don't get those kinds of runs that often so I LOVE it when it happens. Then, this morning (Sunday) I must have been channeling my inner Kipchoge as I actually threw in a bit of a 20 minute tempo during 11 miles. SICK (that's good sick, not like, ill sick)!

On the other hand, my knee has had good days and bad. When it's good, I feel like I am getting in better shape and might be able to put together a good 13.1 mile effort in Eugene. When it's bad, I just want to give up on this whole "racing" thing, stop over-spending on entry fees, and be a slow, casual, jogger dude. Oooops, getting the Debbie Downer thing going. Sorry.

So, three more teaching days then back home for a quick night in Denver. Then off to Eugene. We'll see how that goes.....

Run with the run.