Monday, March 5, 2018

Turning the Corner?

So maybe, just maybe, we turned the corner last week. First off, it was a 50 mile week. I haven't had one of those since October of last year and actually only had 6 weeks in all of last year at 50+. Next, a 13 mile run on Saturday. 13 isn't 18 or 20 or more, but it's a long run for now and since the word "long" is relative anyway, I'm happy with it.

The real upside is that I'm actually on runs right now, as opposed to the jogs I've been on the last couple of months. The 13 mile run was at 1:30 per mile faster than I have been doing my regular runs and I wasn't really pushing at all. That's a good thing. Probably also means I run my regular runs too slow.

So with a hair less than eight weeks until the Eugene Half or Full marathon, I'm making zero decisions for another month. Just going to run.

Busy week coming with four days of all day teaching and three days on the road. The goal is to keep the mileage up as that is always the business traveling challenge. I have hopes of the 55 mile week. We'll see.

So that's it. As Eliud says, "run with the run." Run on.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Wind, Woods, Emerson

Well, long story short, I ran 45 miles this week. It's not the 50 I was planning on but frankly, I'm pretty okay wth it. It was a week of 5 and 6 mile runs mostly with a 10 thrown in yesterday. It was the ten, that defined the week.

I did the usual thing I do in the morning looking out the window at a nearby flag to see how the wind was blowing. Hardly any. Then, again as usual, I check the temperature: 20 degrees, a freakin' heat wave compared to the past few days. So, I throw on my long sleeve shirt, grab a light wind breaker and head out the door. Five steps out, I make a decision: Overdressed. Back inside I trade the windbreaker for a light fleece vest. Big mistake.

For loops between 7 and 10 miles, I go the same way almost every time. It's out the door, down Chambers to Belleview; Belleview to Parker and then into the Cherry Creek State Park at Temple St. It's pretty much downhill all the way into the park and a route I've been running for 10 years. Once in the park the shortest loop is 7. If I go into the woods (my favorite spot) it can go on for up to ten miles according to how I run the trails. Actually, I suppose it could go much longer if I chose to double loop. I rarely do.

I love the woods. I've run in a great many awesome places (see for a list), but I have a thing for the woods. In high school, the last half mile of our cross country course in Elizabeth Park was in the woods. In college, the same thing in Rouge Park in Detroit. The goal was always the same in the woods, don't get passed. In high school: never. In college: once.  I digress.

The best thing about the woods is how no matter how busy the surroundings might be, there is serenity in the woods. Emerson wrote:  “In the woods, we return to reason and faith.” Dude was right. Whatever is wrong in the world can be fixed in the woods. Maybe not fixed in the world, but fixed in my head. And after all, the world is in our heads.

So this day in the woods, the noise began. First a steady WHIRRRR through the tops of the trees, followed by real live wind cutting right between every tree. Well, THAT doesn't happen very often, I thought. Serenity gone. Then, it got even noisier. By the time I'd half looped my favorite loop, it sounded like one heck of a wind. And it was.

Normally, on a windy day I'd prefer to just stay in the woods and run in the protection of the trees. Maybe I can get airlifted out, right? Not so on the ten miler. Protection had given way to a very different swirling kind of wind. Strange. I did know, however, that once I emerged from the woods, unless something weird had happened, there would be a tailwind home. And there was.

Tailwinds are nice. The best ones give you just enough push to make a pace easier or faster without being a nuisance. This tailwind was not so nice. Yeah, it pushed, but at the same time, it was cold and a little inconsistent. Where's my windbreaker? And it just kept getting stronger. 

The great thing about emerging from the woods is that I was halfway home. Halfway is good because there is pretty much no turning back into it from there (wind pun intended although very lame). So I just went with it. The final half of the run was on an auto-pilot kind of thing that bounces between association and disassociation. I'm there, but not. Running, but maybe not. Pretty much just focused on getting home. And, I made it.

My knee is coming along pretty well (and pretty well/good is the new awesome). Most runs would be classified as somewhere between 1.5 and 3 on the 10 point pain scale. Given the miles on the poor thing, 1.5 might be as good as it gets. Nonetheless, one run at a time.

Looking to log 50 next week and then make some "racing" decisions. 

Life's better when we run. Run on.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

My Run With Eliud Kipchoge (grossly exaggerated)

Those of you who frequent this blog offering vividly remember my run with Jenny Simpson (grossly exaggerated). You can find it at . Well this morning, even more grossly exaggerated, was my run with marathon G.O.A.T. Eliud Kipchoge. I say MORE grossly because at least Jenny was on the same road as me..... like, IN PERSON. My run with Eliud was a dabbling into the Nike Run App and an audio run.

First things first, if you've never done a Nike audio run before, it's kind of lame. Not lame in that it's a completely bad idea, and not lame in that Eliud didn't have some great things to say. It's lame to really think that you're running with Eliud Kipchoge. Having said that, maybe it's not so lame as I run often with the likes of Gary Vaynerchuk, Tony Robbins, Seth Godin. And they don't even talk to me about running. Hmmmm....

In my 52nd year of running, I've pretty much heard it all. Kipchoge, however, is the Zen Master. While chatting some about how he got started and while being questioned by "Coach" Bennett, his answers were the stuff documentaries are made of. But when pontificating on issues like why he loves running and what he thinks about out there, the Zen Master was awesome. My favorite Kipchogeism:

"Run with the run."

Eliud only made it an hour. Unfortunately, I needed to run for an hour and 45 minutes or so. I had to leave him behind. Sorry Eliud. I have to confess this to you folks: I actually ran better than I have in a long time (must have been the company). Thanks Eliud.

So long story short, the week was okay. 44 miles. The plan says next week at 50. We'll see about the Eugene Marathon. There's ten weeks to go and my mileage should be in the 65-70 range right now. On 45 year old knees, I'd say NO sweat, BUT.....  So, I'm contemplating a drop to the half marathon. Whatever. No decision needs to be made that soon.

My knee has felt better this week than it has since last summer (and for sure since my surgery warranty ran out ). I'd rate the discomfort as a 3 on the 10 scale and today, probably a 2. I have another week where I don't travel so I'm hoping to make even more progress.

So, here's that one step forward thing. All I'd like is to keep stepping FORward.

Run with the run.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

One Step Forward, One Step Out of Water

My frustration with this running thing is getting to be a pretty consistent thing. I literally had nothing to write a week ago and am merely faking it today. 

The two weeks have been 41 and 37 miles and while I suppose I should be happy to have run everyday, I'm pretty discouraged. Feel like a fish out of water.

Also: am NOT a whiner. So done here.

Run on.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

If You Thought Last Week Sucked.....

The real long road of running
WOW! Another crappy running week. 34 miles. No long run. No tempoish run. Not much fun. Too many runs in the dark. 

The culprit? Work.

Work? Yep, work. In case you don't know, I train/teach/facilitate/instruct sales courses (mostly real estate, but other industries too). I've really only ever done two things in my work life; teaching and real estate. When I am working, it usually means one of two things: I am actually in front of a group of people (anywhere from 12 to 1200), OR I am preparing for being in front of a group of people. When prepping, the running thing is easy. With a little self-discipline and effort, "being" a runner is a piece of cake. I get up (usually between 5 and 6), I work for a few hours, I run, then I work. Life is simple. Life is easy.

When actually fronting my work, it's a different story. Those days the work is rigidly scheduled and runs must fit around the work. Half the year that means running when it's dark or cold, or dark and cold. It means running when I'm groggy or running when I'm tired. Tired is, at this stage of my life, an understatement. When I am in front of a group, I work, and I work hard. If you're in my audience, you get all of me. I pour it out to you. And these are most often full day or two day courses/classes. So, there's not much left, I'm tired. 

By the way, if I were younger: 35, or 42, or even 50, this burning of the candle at both ends might not be as big a deal. At 66, however, with 111,000 miles on the transport mechanism, it is. AND..... with age comes slowing, which means it takes LONGER to get in the miles. When I was in my twenties, a one hour run yielded 10 miles (or more). Today, not as many. That takes time, and TIME is the critical variable. I know you know this, but there are 24 hours in the day and I, or you, have yet to figure out how to create more (I'm working on that, but even Einstein, Edison, or Gates failed on that one).

Don't get me wrong. I AM NOT COMPLAINING (Did I emphasize that enough?)! The lack of time is a wonderful bi-product of being busy, really busy, and the beginning of this year has exploded. In all of last year, I taught 79 days. So far, on this writing January 28th, I have 74 already booked, and I haven't really begun focusing on the booking thing. I think that's absolutely awesome because I LOVE what I do and I love placing my wife and myself in a better financial position. It also means, however, that choices must be made; priorities must be shuffled. It's all about adaptability: physical, mental, emotional.

In the end, I run less and maybe, just maybe, I'm not as prepared for that race as I'd like to be, or maybe, as in the case of the Canyonlands Half in Moab in March, I have to skip it. I think I'm okay with that. At least for now. I think..... maybe.

In the course of 51 1/2 years, my relationship with my running has been an always evolving thing. I've run to win, I've run to race, I've run for weight loss, I've run for sanity, I've run to think, I've run to create. I've run, at times, for all of the above all at the same time. In the end, what's most significant to me is that I've run. And...... I will tomorrow.

Run on.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Snow Day? No Way! AND..... a Lousy/Busy Week AND.... The Return of the CAT

It has been a moderately crappy/busy/uneventful week. Not in all aspects, by the way, mostly just in the running arena. On the whole, life is great and I am extremely work busy. That is a good thing. 

When I am busy, it usually means I'm traveling. If I'm not cross country traveling, it's metro Denver traveling. Frankly, that's the worst kind. Flying somewhere and scheduling runs on the road is, for the most part, easy. I book flights to accommodate my life/running, book hotels near running places, and schedule time to get it done! Around town, though, the 1+ hour drive to get to a class 45 minutes ahead of time, can make for some EARLY morning running. This week was that week (meaning that two of the runs were the 5 am type), the one where every drive was long and running was something done in the darkness. Nonetheless, 38 miles AND..... a self proclaimed recovery week (it was supposed to be next week, but whatever, right?).

BY the way, I'm not complaining, or if I am, TOO BAD, because my schedule is flat out crazy until the end of May. It is my hope, of course, that by the time May arrives, the schedule will be jam packed until December. That is the nature of trying to run a successful business: work happens. I will adjust, knowing that light will slowly come to the morning a little earlier, and my ailing knee will feel better so that I get in more miles per hour. 

All is good. Actually GREAT!

My 38 miles this week were moderately spread even. Four days of 5 miles, one 3, and a 7 and an 8. Nothing spectacular, just trying to stay in the habit and log some miles. I'm also venturing into what I lovingly call the Pit of Misery, the basement. It's where the workout crap resides: that stuff that helps us work on strength, core, flexibility. And I need, D) all of the above.

So, today my run was highlighted by a so called winter storm warning: snow. In the park, or anywhere devoid of cars, winter running is what it was today: FUN! Snow, crispy cold, breaking the trail, plodding along...... FUN. I had an absolute blast today trudging along the trail and logging the miles when no one else was out there. I can't imagine retreating to the dreadmill just because of some snow (unless, of course speedwork or a tempo of some kind were scheduled). Snow Day? No Way!

The fun, however, ends when needing to "share the road" with our vehicular friends. In fact, fun can lead to sad, scary, bad news, accident.

In the public interest, I submit and oldie, but a goodie RunSpittle post, the C.A.T. system. The C.A.T. is my little system for staying safe when I need to be out there with those crazy, lovable drivers during snowy conditions. Here you go:

The C.A.T. System.  I approach my winter run with two irrefutable rules: 1) Vehicle vs. Rich = Rich loses (the same goes for you), and 2) something I taught my sons at a young age, for your safety, you assume that if someone is behind the wheel of a vehicle, they are an asshole. In deference to those rules, I run the sidewalk whenever I can. Often times, especially when the storm is happening during the run, the street can be the safest place. It is that occurrence that activates the C.A.T. System.

C. Car.  I ALWAYS run FACING traffic. I joke that I do this because I want to see the look on the drivers face when he/she hits me. In reality I face traffic because, yes, I want to see them but mostly because I want them to see me seeing them. As a vehicle approaches, I try to identify something about it. Is it an SUV, a truck, a little compact car? Right off the bat, I equate the type of car with the driver's potential ability to maneuver. Next I check speed and control. Is their speed appropriate for the conditions? Are they under control? If any of these checks create nervousness, I retreat to the sidewalk or anywhere well off the road.

A. Awareness. Once the car has been evaluated, I look at the driver to see their level of awareness. Are they on the phone? Do they appear to be seeing me? Do they look petrified? Often I will wave at them (a hello wave, not some other gesture) to capture some semblance of awareness. The other part of awareness of course is activating my own heightened awareness. I don't wear headphones when I run, but if I did, I surely wouldn't be doing it on the winter street run. By the way, just following the C.A.T. System will elevate your own awareness. Again, if their lack of awareness or my own nervousness about them sends me a red flag, I retreat.

T. Tires.  C and A have taken all of a couple of seconds. Most often the car has to be evaluated and awareness activated very quickly. In traffic (more than one vehicle coming), I multi-evaluate. Finally, as the vehicle gets closer, I lock in my sight and complete awareness to the TIRES. It's mighty difficult for that vehicle to slide your way without the wheels locking, so my eyes become totally fixed on the tires. I've escaped a few incidents in my time because I saw it coming before even the driver knew it was happening. Any indication of locking wheels or a loss of control sends me retreating as well, and as you can imagine, QUICKLY. The biggie here is simple: PAY ATTENTION and assume they are not.

Mostly, remember our formula.... Vehicle vs. You = You Lose! 100%.

Run on (carefully).

Sunday, January 14, 2018

T Minus 15: BORING!

T-minus fifteen weeks until the Eugene Marathon and I have to say that this week has created a more hopeful attitude about the journey ahead. While it was far from a perfect week, it has ended on a high note and for that I am thankful. Yesterday (Saturday) I ran 10 miles. I wasn't supposed to, theoretically it was scheduled as an 8 mile run. But I just felt so darned good that I kept going.

This 10 miles wasn't a PR (don't think I'll ever run 51:45 again), it wasn't even anywhere close to being fast. What is turned out to be was a run of 10 miles without significant knee pain. Haven't had one of those for a while.

What this means, hopefully, is that slowly the knee re-therapy is beginning to take effect. Not like, I'm ready to run a marathon tomorrow, take effect. More like I might actually be able to train for one. AND..... After appreciable effort and a plethora of youtube videos, I have found the Rock Tape protocol that seems to work best. Looking at the taping as a short term psycho boost. For now, I'll take that.

All in all, 43 miles logged and building to 45-48 next week. Feeling confident about a mileage increase as the last four days were 7, 4, 10, 7 with no ill effects. Hoping to stay on a healthy path.

Boring this week? Yep, sometimes it is. Not a fan of drama anyway.

Run on.