Saturday, March 30, 2019

Brain/Body Not Connected

I ran four miles this morning. That shouldn't be a big deal, but I suppose it is. It's been a pretty lousy week of some running and some non-running. Getting in good runs during my peak work/travel times is always a challenge, but with this shitty knee, it's even worse. But enough about that.

This morning's run was for the most part not bad. In four miles I had only one knee incident (a knee incident, what I call a pop, is when my leg straightens a little too much, my knee hyperextends and OUCH - feels like bone on bone). Most of the time, if I'm really focused, I can monitor each leg strike and avoid the dreaded pop. That is, however, a lot of focusing on each plant of my left leg.

Anyway....... I had a bit of a revelation this morning. Maybe better named a reality moment. I was running (very optimistic word to describe what I was doing), passed through the first mile at a jog-like 15:19. YIKES, I thought. I have run a 5K faster than that. I have passed through the three mile almost faster than that on my way to 12. I felt embarrassed. Then I thought, what am I embarrassed about? And really, who cares?

It's not like I was fast yesterday and today I am not. Granted, I've evolved from being a 32 minute 10K guy, to trying to break 40, to trying to break 60. But, it's not like that happened overnight, right? Now getting slower, like aging, is a gradual process. But in a way, it's kind of like a haircut where even though you know that your hair is growing consistently, you wake up one morning and BAM..... you need a haircut. AND..... stay with me here..... then you get a haircut and your hair grows again, and BAM.... you need a haircut.

I've had the wake up call that I have been getting slower numerous times. It has, in fact, been documented within this blogging venue. What happened this morning was two awakenings: 

1) My brain is out of touch with my physical reality. My brain still thinks I am a runner. I am motivated, optimistic, ready to hammer that long run. My body, however, does not deliver. Despite watching the World Cross Country Championships this morning and being mentally ready to nail the run, my body says, "not so fast (pun intended)."

2) It's time for a metaphorical haircut. This time, though, I am getting the buzz cut. This time we're taking it all off and starting from scratch. I've been setting myself up for disappointment with this motivated mentality (and don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with motivation). So now, the mindset is simple: I am starting from the basics of someone who just began running, someone freshly recovering from surgery. 

One step at a time. That's the way of the body. It's a long term project with few setbacks if long term is the mindset. And embarrassment? That's strictly mental and.... Please, when was the last time I actually judged myself by what someone else thinks? Hardly EVER. So we simply bring that mindset, along with my overly inflated carcass and run judgment free (hopefully escaping the harshest judgment - my own). I like it.

Run, as Eliud would say, with the run.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Heat Wave AND Are We Still Doing This Stupid Daylight Savings Time Thing?

It was a balmy 14 degrees for my run this morning. That's up from 0 Sunday and then 2. Now, don't get me wrong, 0 in Colorado is not like 0 in say.... Detroit or Chicago. I'll take 0 here over 20 in the Great Lakes. Still a hair chilly - at the least it's tights weather.

In general, this running thing has been light, at best. 30-35 miles a week is the norm and that is with good knee days and bad knee days. What I have enjoyed the most has been the earlier sunrise. I like being able to see at 6 or 6:30. I like that little kids don't have to wait for the school bus in the dark, and I like not having to wear my headlamp for my early jaunts.

Of course, all of that is going away. Soon.....

On Saturday night we will be taking that annual journey into daylight savings time. And let me say right up front, I still don't get it. Why do we humans believe we can't live without manipulating things, especially time? I suppose it's because we invented it.

George Hudson, a New Zealand entomologist, was the first to suggest this in 1895, mostly so that he could have longer light in the evening to, I guess, chase bugs. Port Arthur, Ontario, Canada was the first city to actually implement it back in 1908. Port Arthur, for those of you non-Great Lakers, is on the North side of Lake Superior, which is on the North side of civilization. I've been there and don't understand what there is to see in the evening anyway.

Then came the German Empire. Don't even get me started on this one as my wife and I both have German cars, and given the mediocre GPS functionality, I know why they lost two world wars. In the 70s, the U.S. of A. came onboard.

Proponents cite reduced energy use (been proven to be minimal 0.34%), economic effects (People are more likely to stop at a convenience store on the way home from work if it's still light......... or maybe if they need something. Golf courses see a higher revenue. Oh boy! On the other hand, farmers dislike it), crime rates (some thought they would go down - no significant change), health gains (it's been discovered that some people are more apt to exercise with the extended daylight, BUT heart attacks are up 10%). The jury is OUT. 

So, why?

Not to seem paranoid, but, I believe that Daylight Savings Time is a clear attack on morning people. We morning folk love the sunrise, love the early daylight and are generally the chirpiest of people in the A.M.  Depressed, cynical, grumps can't stand it. And since the world is run, for the most part, but depressed, cynical, grumps..... we're stuck.

Just know this, grumps: until the light comes back (May-ish), there'll be fewer people whistling, humming, and being chirpy. In your world that means fewer annoyances. It's okay, we'll get even in November.

Run on (although in the dark).

Monday, February 11, 2019

Valentine's Day Mantra: I Heart My Running, I Heart My Running. I Heart My Running

Hoping to avoid another whine session, I'll get this out of the way early: what a crappy beginning to the new year of running. Already down 45 miles from last year. Done. Now, let's move on.

I've hit this little groove the last few runs. It's called minimal discomfort. It is characterized by there being no pain in my knee, no sensation of imminent collapse in my knee, no feeling of structural damage in my knee. I realize that my knee is there, and that it's not perfect, but it's okay (and okay is the new awesome). This phenomenon is three days old.

On day one, I ran a meager 3 miles. I was kind of amazed at how I felt (knee wise - I still felt old and out of real shape otherwise). Day two had me waking with less stiffness and pain than is usual, so I doubled down. I decided to give the Rock Tape thing another whirl. Result: another good run. 5 miles. So yesterday I decided to GO BIG, or go home. I ran 7 pretty nice miles (by the way I did go home after I ran so I guess I did GO BIG AND GO HOME).

Rocking the Rock Tape
There truly is a part of me that is hopeful that today's run will be #4. I'm also smart enough to know that these things do not simply disappear. The wear and tear of 53 1/2 years and 113,000+ miles is not something that magically vanishes. The bad knee run is coming and when it does I'll have to tolerate it. In the meantime, I am seriously on the lookout for a good doctor to help me re-evaluate what has transpired since my surgery over two years ago. Finding that "Dr Right" is kind of difficult and very scary as I thought I had her last time and was so, so wrong.

On yet another optimistic note, my pace, while incredibly pedestrian, is getting better. My 14 to 15 minute shuffles has given way to 12 to 13 minute blazing as I slowly (and I mean SLOWLY) make improvements. Like any progress, what was once challenging has given way to what is now challenging. The best thing is that despite all of this frustration and some high level impatience, my motivation is high.

So that's a wrap (or maybe a Rock Tape job). Hope your running is going well. Hope your life is going well.

Run on.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Nothing to See Here, Move Along (Caution: Whiner alert!)

This isn't the blogpost you're looking for. Obi-Wan Kenobi tried to tell you that. Well, since you're far too powerful to be Jedi mind tricked and you're not moving along, let's get on with this post.

As I am already immersed in my running for 2019, I look back upon the previous year understanding that it was not the best running year I've had. It was not the worst either, it just seemed like it.

It began innocently enough with a five mile run on New Years Day. I wrote, "Not too bad - knee stiff and sore but loosened some." The next day, "Advil and Rock Tape helped knee a little."  Knee, knee, knee..... if I had a hundred dollars for every time I wrote the word in my logbook..... well, I'd have a lot of Benjamins.

It wasn't all bad. The first half of the year it actually seemed like I might approach 2500 miles for the year and get comfortable with this questionable joint whose name I will no longer type. I had runs of 13, 14, and three 16s just in March alone. I put together three weeks over 60 miles. Not bad for an old guy.

April was highlighted by a two week work sting in Idaho where I ran consistently well with good overall mileage. It all culminated with the Eugene Half Marathon (was originally running the full marathon) where I ran without significant pain or discomfort and did okay. May went pretty much the same and the annual Bolder Boulder 10K was decent. June began with the Dexter to Ann Arbor Half, a race that was originally fifteen miles (I know this because I ran that first one in 1974 - placed 14th, by the way). A terrible rainy, chilly day where everything felt lousy. The half year ended with 1250 miles, I hadn't missed a single day of running and I had the thought that I might be able to crank it up and get in 2700.

July went well until the San Francisco Half Marathon (which was also supposed to be a full marathon). I felt pretty darned good through 10 miles and then on a downhill heard/felt two pops in my knee (oops, I used that word, sorry). I jogged in. That moment of hyperextension on a downhill changed the year. The day after: July 30, I took a day off

For the next five months I would spend the time dodging the hyperextension. My mileage dropped, my pace slowed. The "normal" feeling was one of pain (felt like bone on bone) along with a sense that any moment that thing that connects my shin to my thigh might buckle. Sucked. Many log posts in August were reduced to how many "pops" occurred on a run. I repeat: it sucked. (By the way, I withdrew from the Chicago and Cal International Marathons in addition to those previously mentioned).

On November 8, I awoke with the Mother of all colds and decided to take the day off. That day became ten days. Why not? There was certainly no reason to run through a cold (the old me would have never believed I'd have that attitude, but I did).There would be three more days off bringing the total to 17. So, I ran 348 days last year. Most people would find that to be a good thing. I just stare at the seventeen 0s (glass WAY half empty on that one).

Long story short, I ran 2148 miles in 2018. The early ones went fairly well, the later ones not so much. It brought the grand total to 113,198.

After clicking "publish" in a few moments, I will head out the door. That THING will feel as its felt the last half year or so, lousy. Something's gotta change. We'll see what it is.

Run on.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

It's Been Two Years.......

On December 1st, my knee surgery "celebrated" its two year anniversary. The hope, as is the hope with any surgery, was that I would be good as new upon completion. Oh well, so much for hope in that particular area. You see, when you have run for more than 52 years, there are plenty of milestone type moments. Some are great, some only good, some not so much. PRs and great races or workouts land in the GREAT column (had some wonderful moments there), DNFs and DNSs land in the not so much side. This surgery was a significant not so much.

My knee's not terrible, mind you, it's just not good. I can still run, but the slow pace and complete lack of being able to go longer distances has dampened my spirits far more than moving up yet another age group might (and for some reason that continues to happen - Father time). And while my racing has been limited to when my mind is racing, each run is still a gift, still a moment to be savored.

Two things: the moment, and savoring. In his awesome book Athletic Excellence, Jim Loehr wrote: "When I say that my focus is the MOMENT, I guess what I’m really saying is that I savor the moment. Every moment of every performance is something to be totally experienced and totally enjoyed. I simply seize the moment for what it is and, whenever I do that, I begin immediately to experience a sense of calm, strength and energy that continues to amaze me."

Since the day in1982, when Loehr first enlightened me about the moment at a Track clinic in Phoenix, I have adopted the moment as my place to be. It is in the moment where all the good stuff sits: love, empathy, self-awareness, joy. Sometimes, however, the moment is not so hot, sometimes downright shitty. 

So what then? Loehr had an answer for that too.  "Don’t misunderstand, the feelings don’t always come, and I still lose them sometimes and can’t get them back. Even when I go to the moment, they can be a little stubborn. To help things along, I’ll start acting “as if” they were there and often that’s enough to get the feelings going again. As soon as that happens, I start becoming a performer again. I used to think those feelings came only when I played well. I really had it backwards. I played well because I got the feelings, and believe me there’s a big difference."

So, in the middle of this huge knee slump, in the middle of discomfort ranging from a pinch feeling to flat-out no support pain, I choose the moment. I choose to enjoy each opportunity to do this thing I love even though some of the "outcomes" are different. I choose to be, as Loehr masterfully wrote: "right here, right now, loving every minute of it." 

Run on.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Boston: Forget the Tea Party, Let's Run!

I was fortunate enough to spend a few days in the great city of Boston, Massachusetts this last week. It was, as it usually is when I travel, business. But like most trips, this one allowed for some good running and some great memories.

First and foremost, on day one of the trip, an easy 6 miles slid me past 1900 miles for the year. I always measure a good year of running, especially as I get older, by whether I can still manage to log 2000 miles. Baring the unforeseen, that is certain. Maybe even 2300. Cool. I also remembered that the last time I was DOWNTOWN was finishing the Boston marathon in 2001. Of course I made the trek to the finish line for old times sake.

Day two saw me on a rainy, wonderful 10 mile run on the Charles River. While my “surgically repaired” knee has been a problem the last month, it was great to get in a double digit run. It was chilly, windy, and as mentioned rainy: perfect. It was on this run, that I
passed another career milestone: 113,000 miles. At this point, every thousand miles clicking off is another blessing being able to continue running and still having the passion and motivation to get out there every day.
Only missed two so far this year.

Finally, day three of my visit, included a 5K “race.” The National Association of Realtors held the Realtor Relief Run this morning (Saturday) and even though I had some residual stiffness from the ten miler, I participated anyway. The results: a new PW for the 5K. Yeah, that’s PW: Personal Worst. The upside? The course halfway point was Commonwealth Avenue about a quarter mile from the Famous Citgo sign (one mile to go for the Boston marathon – in case you’re wondering what’s so famous about a Citgo sign). Also cool.

My PR is 15:09 in a race where the winner (Gordon Minty) ran 13:22 and I was soundly lapped AND placed somewhere around 25th. My reward, other than a nice PR, was a pat on
the back from my coach. Today, I ran seventeen minutes SLOWER, placed third in my age group AND received a big, hairy medal for my efforts (okay, actually it wasn’t hairy). Man….. times have changed.

The things that haven’t changed are interesting. I still have the same little excited butterflies before the race. I still go into pre-race anti-social mode, and I still do my warm up jog to Mozart (Jupiter Symphony, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Oboe Concerto mostly - yeah, I know: ROCKIN' IT!).

While not being pleased with my race time, I was happy that it was very easy and my knee was very good (and very good is the new awesome). I also beat the Tyrannosaurus Rex (he nailed me at the San Francisco half-marathon – different T-Rex, maybe).

So, I say to him at some point,
“Hey I have a T-Rex racing joke for you. Wanna hear it?”
He says, “SURE.”
I say, “How do you outsprint a T-Rex at the end of a race?”
He says, “I don’t know.”
“You go to your arms.”
Hilarious, I thought, since it came to me kind of spur of the moment. He didn’t laugh.

No wonder they’re extinct.

It's also New York City Marathon day. More great memories. Maybe another time.

Run on.