Friday, September 30, 2011

For Ideas Lasting Longer Than Four Hours, see a Psychotherapist

When a neighbor heard that I had done the unthinkable, actually run 21 miles, they asked this, "What do you think about for that long?"

First, thank God they didn't say "I can't even drive that far..." Next, I've heard this one before and usually my answer to this often asked question is some self invented cliche like, "anything and everything," or "running," or "nothing at all." What I wanted to say was, "You're awake 16 hours a day, what do you think about for that long?" But I didn't (can't get too flip with the neighbors). Instead I made the biggest fun mistake of all and answered the question in vivid detail.

It must have been brutal for them. They thought they were asking something simple like "how are you?" and was expecting an equally simple answer like "fine." But, no. I went into the differences between a run like Monday's, where survival and disassociation from soreness were the primary thoughts, to Saturday's 10 miler in which I believe I nailed what is my next motivation-oriented class, or maybe even my next book.

So, I pontificated... "Well, first, there are people who associate when they run, they really get into their bodies and how it feels. Then there are the people who disassociate with the run. These are the ones who listen to music or a book or a podcast. For some reason, I have never been able to listen to music when I run, not sure why. Lately, I'll go with a book or a podcast about running or something like that, but not very often. I mostly run in my head. Speaking of podcasts, they have some great ones at http://competitorradio.competitor.com/. Anyway, most of the time, like I said, I disassociate from the run by associating with my brain. Which, maybe means I'm not disassociating at all. Hmmm, I don't know. I'll have to think about that, maybe on my next run!

"You know, I blogged about this once," I said. "It was early last year http://runspittle.blogspot.com/2011/01/rightside-running.html ("Doesn't anybody read my blog?" - Barney Stinson). I do my organized, checklist kind of thinking in the beginning of the run. I'm more logical, sequential, informational. Early in the run, I am a WHAT kind of guy. I make lists, check things off old lists and I am organized beyond the capabilities of mere mortals. Once a few endorphins have been released, however, the thoughts become more simultaneous, more about context than text and I begin to look at things within a bigger picture beyond the lists and details. I become a WHY and/or a HOW kind of guy. It's a beautiful time. Like I said, I've created entire classes, speeches and presentations on a good day and at the least, solved the world's problems on a bad one.

It was apparent after a minute or so that my inquiring neighbor had bitten off a little more than their ears or mind could chew. At this point, I had a choice: I could release them from this auditory agony or remain in full verbal flight in the hope that I would never again be asked such an inane sort of question. I chose to press on.

"You know, I love what John Parker Jr. described in his running classic, Once A Runner. 'When the trance broke and a word or phrase popped into his mind, his dizzy mind played with it like a seal with a beach ball, in a disturbing, gibberishly mad way.' 

But of course, that beach ball thing is what leads to the good stuff. After the disturbing, gibberish, mad stuff comes the clarity.

"Clarity can't be hurried and sometimes it doesn't come at all. Some runs are simply mental gibberish. Now that's not to say that I am unreceptive to life's gibberish (well, I don't have much use for politicians), I enjoy the random exploits of my mind's beach ball. The good ones, however, produce quality stuff. On that ten miler, Saturday, I thought of this quote about hope.... geez, I wish I had written it down, or told my iphone. Oh well, it'll come back - or not.

"I really like it when my run leads to something that winds up being a step forward. Saturday it was clear as it could be: The 4 Pillars. And then there was that hope thing - what was that....? It'll come to me. Anyway, running is really sort of like a mental and physical performance enhancer."

Then, like the executioner who decides there may be hope for this doomed person, and maybe they don't really deserve this, I pardoned them from further lingual torment. But before we parted, I had to fire one last shot. 

"Yeah..... it's alot like sex. There's all the fooling around before you get to the good stuff. And sometimes the fooling around is the good stuff. And sometimes it's all good stuff OR not so good at all. Then you hope it's not awkward and it really furthers the relationship in the end. For me, I really like the afterglow though, when I snuggle with my newest cognizance.

"Well, gotta go. I need to shower. Talk to you later."

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Long Run to Nowhere!

Yesterday's 21 mile run had some interesting little footnotes attached. Outside of the Napa Valley Marathon, it was the longest run of the year. Normally, I'm more than happy enough between 18-20 miles for my long run, but today's course had to be either 17 or 21. I opted for the longer run.

The other added attractions for the run were as follows: It brought my total for the year to 2039. In the whole of 2010, I ran 2031, so I have equaled that total with over three months to go. Next it finished my week at 76 miles, the most of any week during this year. Finally, it was the run that boosted my "haven't missed a day" streak to 365 days. All nice things.

The run itself was mostly uneventful. The first couple of miles are the hilliest so they were covered in the 10:20-35 range (trying to keep my heart rate under control). The next few were semi-catchup miles, drooping down to the low 9:50s while at the same time being VERY under control.The mid miles were right around 10 minutes with 13-17 in the 9:30's. After 17, my wife Linda joined me so we ran just under eleven minute pace for the final 4 miles. All in all, the average per mile was right at 10 minutes with an average HR of 142. Both citing an easy, relaxed run.

I certainly won't complain. I had some hip flexor stiffness through most of the run, but recovered well and was only a tiny bit sore this morning for a shakeout six.

I train on despite the fact that the goal of aiming this towards a specific race is temporarily on hold. A few weeks ago when I went to register for the Savannah Marathon, I found it full. Sooooo, I'm actively searching for a suitable replacement. At this time, I think I have it narrowed down to Cal International or Tucson (both in December). In the meantime, train on, right?

By the way, I always love awaking to an international marathon (this time Berlin) on my computer as I ready myself for the days run. Great runs by Patrick Makau (2:03:38 is REALLY fast) and Florence Kiplagat for the victories. Also a shout out to the great Paula Radcliffe, back and looking good!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Buggy Trail Run!

Bugs? No, that wasn't my problem. My problem on this morning's run was that the two things that bug me the most when I'm out trail running both happened AND they both happened with the same person. Allow me to explain.

We all have our little pet peeves. On the trail, I have two. The first, which is not trail-exclusive, is when I am running along (the pace doesn't matter) and an approaching runner says, "hi" and then immediately looks away (usually upward - not sure why). And that's the point, I'm not sure why. If you didn't want to have some kind of a salutory dialogue, why did you initiate it? Of course not everyone out on the run is friendly and I am perfectly okay with that. Heck, in the old days, the nicest thing said to you when running was "Hup, hup, hup."

I don't know. Maybe I'm overly sensitive.... maybe I'm feeling misled.

That brings me to buggy thing #2 (and remember, I got BOTH of them today, so I'm REALLY vulnerable). Approaching runner, singletrack trail, I move off the trail to let them have it, so they move off so that no one has it. What?

I suppose it's some kind of a,

"thank you,"
 
"no, thank YOU"

"NO thank YOU" kind of a thing.

Doesn't mean I get it. Take the trail, say Thanks, if you want. But please don't negate my niceness. I'm doing the best I can to get along with the other humans and every now and then I'd like to think they appreciate it.

Okay, gotta go. Have an appointment with my therapist.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A MILEstone week (pun intended)!

My log and my running-total log tell me that this is a week of milestones.

First, tomorrow I will hit 2000 miles for the year. In all of 2010, I ran 2031, so I'm thinking that I'm having a pretty decent year. The goal is 2700 and I believe it will be close. For me the mileage is an indication of being able to train consistently and without injury. At my age, or maybe any age, these are good things.

Next, on this coming Sunday's run, I will have gone 365 days without missing any. A nice streak - not my longest by far - but a good one nonetheless. Again, the idea here is not so much the streak as it is being consistent in my training and not being sick or injured enough to warrant time off. While different streakers classify "a run" differently, my guidelines are: It must be a run (not a walk) and the minimum is three miles for it to count.

Finally, yesterday at the end of my run, unbeknownst to me, I hit the career milestone of 97,000 miles. Obviously, I owe most of that number to myself, but on an obsessive compulsive scale, I owe my first coach, Al Pingel much of the credit. On day one back in 1966, he said, "log your miles." So, I have.

Hoping to hit 100,000 by Dec 21st of next year. After all, I'm Racing the Mayan calendar. http://runspittle.blogspot.com/2011/07/racing-mayans.html  

After that, who knows....

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Jenny B is the Queen Bee!

First, a shout out to Jesse Wiiliams and Lashinda Demus for winning Gold Medals at the World Championships today. Also, if you haven't seen Ezekiel Kemboi's last lap in the Steeple and his victory dance, you're in for a treat (kind of Usain Bolt meets Blanca Vlasic). The link for that: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGyBa1_YY4g.

The biggie of the day for this Coloradoan and former Boulderite was the 1500 meter win by Jenny Barringer Simpson. In what was a tactically superior run, Jenny kept her cool, made the move of the day and brought the first 1500 meter gold to the US since Mary Decker Slaney. 

There have been more than a few doubters when Jenny moved from the Steeplechase, changed coaches and set off for Colorado Springs. Looking back, it just goes to show that athletes, at least the smart ones, have a better sense of what they need and should do, than most of the "experts." Jenny has always seemed to have a good head on her shoulders and a huge commitment to doing her best.

Alot of us got to watch Jenny grow at CU and feel like we get to share in a little of this victory with her and with all fans of US Track and Field. But for her, a hard working, flat-out good person, this must be SO sweet!

Great job Jenny!

Speedwork? Getting Closer...

Yesterday I did the aging veteran's version of speedwork: 8 X 400 with a 200 jog rest. I don't remember the last time I did 400's (I'd guess it was spring or summer of 2000 - I could look it up - probably will - well, wait a minute, I'll check my log - never mind).

Nonetheless it was a pretty good workout, although I had considerable energy left in the tank afterward. My goal was to run 1:45 (7 minute or roughly 5K pace - although I really had no idea where I was fitness-wise). 

All in all it was a good day, 1:43, 1:42, 1:38, 1:41, 1:38, 1:39, 1:37, 1:33 and a huge lesson learned. This workout showed me that I need to get a better handle on the "quality" side of my training and stop treating myself so gently. I seem to be stuck in the long slow distance mode and I know better. 

Time to push it!