Friday, December 13, 2013

Blah, Blah, Blah

I'd like to apologize for not staying up to date on my running blog, Run Spittle. I would like to, but I'm not going to. For the most part, I just don't have anything to say. My running is still happening, my running is slow, my running is un-motivating , even for/to me.

I ran the Marine Corps Marathon in October. The course was cool, the people were great, the Marines were INCREDIBLE! The line to pick up packets was disgraceful. I had fun seeing my sons. I ran slower than I have ever run a marathon in my life. And honestly, didn't really care. Just wanted to finish. End of that story.

I've run 2501 miles in 2013, as of today. I'll reach 2600 by the end of the year. That's only 100 miles short of my original goal and since I lost a full month to my foot injury (during prime training time), I'm okay with coming up a little short.

It's cold, and for some reason this year, I don't like it. Normally, a wrap-up-and-let's-go-no-matter-how-brisk-it-is kind of guy, I've hit the treadmill four times in the last nine days. I hate the treadmill. See where this is leading?

On the bright side, I still get some great work ideas while out there. I haven't gained TOO much weight the last couple of months. I haven't worn out my shoes as quickly as usual. (See, I can be positive about this).

So there it is. You are up to date. I'll let you know if anything changes........

Friday, October 25, 2013

Showing Up

In less than 48 hours, I will be running the Marine Corps Marathon and it's almost impossible to believe it. No, I haven't overcome any life changing, wonderful circumstances to arrive at this spot. In fact, quite the contrary. I've just run. But, this might be the worst I've ever felt right before a marathon. I've run sixteen of these things and never been less confident or focused.

My eighteen week training block produced 1160 miles. That's 64 a week. Not too shabby, I'd say. Problem is that was a rushed 1160 miles that began an injury (zero miles for the four weeks prior) and one in the middle. It's been a constant walking of the injury tightrope that has led to almost no focused, quality runs. And there is the problem, it's hard to focus when my training hasn't been focused.

I'm counting on experience and a couple of twenty mile runs to get me through. The goal is to finish and to do so comfortably. That's it. Nothing complicated. Just finish. And have a good time.

While it is very difficult to explain my pre-race funk, I'm not trying (to explain it, that is). I will just go with it. Sometimes all we need to do is show up and get it done. And I am here. Bring it on.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Validation: In The High Country

It wasn't that I felt the need, after viewing In The High Country, to walk up to Anton Krupicka or Joel Wolpert and utter the words, "You complete me." I didn't need completing. In fact, I didn't need anything. But, I felt something. Something familiar.

I'd spent thirty minutes at The Boulder Running Company, had been to Marshall's and had even grabbed a bite to eat. Still, I was over a half an hour early and the first to be seated at The Dairy Center For The Arts for day two of the movie's world premiere. Quickly scanning for the perfect location, I pondered row two, but opted for the third, smack dab in the middle.

What followed was a parade of interested runners, enthusiasts, hipsters and hipster runner enthusiasts. Compared to me, they all looked hipper and more like runners. None were more enthusiastic.

Lately, the trails have been calling me. After pretty much missing four weeks with a nasty foot injury, I returned to running with a very simple goal: to run. I had races on the schedule and had lost valuable preparation time, but that didn't really matter. I just wanted to run again. In my desperation to feel like a runner during this downtime, I devoured every running publication known to mankind, watched youtube and flotrack videos, and read the blogs of those engaging in that activity I was missing. I bought the movie Unbreakable about the Western States 100 (fantastic), and learned about the Nolan's 14    (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4S7k13mUlM). Then..... about five weeks ago, I could run without foot pain. Yay!

I recovered pretty well, if I do say so myself. I ran 4 miles a day the first few days and then dove in beginning the buildup for my Marine Corps Marathon date in October. The eighteen week plan commenced. In the last four weeks I have logged 47, 55, 60, 78 miles. Happily, I am right on schedule with fourteen weeks to go. Interestingly though, I don't actually care. I'm not, although I believe this to be a fluid thing, overly caught up in one race, track workouts or timed miles. I'm just loving running.

Last fall in the 100,000 mile report (http://runspittle.blogspot.com/2012/10/the-100000-mile-report.html), I wrote, "Running was/is a simple activity, cyclical in its nature. One foot placed in front of the next in order to move forward: to cover ground, to open my mind, to allow me opportunities to escape my troubles or celebrate my triumphs. Mostly, to connect me to and strengthen my relationship with this planet upon which I exist. For that, I am ecstatically, humbly grateful."

It's been challenging at times to explain this "connection with my planet thing" to my own fellow runners, let alone civilians. But finally, sitting in row three at The Dairy Center for the Arts, I found someone who understands. Joel Wolpert produced a film that touched the topic of running in a unique way, a familiar way. Early in the film, Tony Krupicka says (and I know this isn't an exact quote), "Running defines the landscape. The landscape defines our home. Our home defines us." (Wish I'd have written it down right that moment.) Nonetheless, I get/got it. And it's what I've always believed. Running is an act that, for me, is the essence of being alive. I am living, breathing, connecting and exploring my limits every single day when I strap on the shoes and hit the earth. It is an act that is, all at once; effort and relaxation, pain and joy, hunger and fulfillment. Geez, I love running.

And yes, I guess, while it may not complete me, it sure did validate me. Thanks Joel and thanks Tony for an incredible movie.

Run on...

Monday, July 8, 2013

Fortune In Misfortune

It's been two and a half months since I last blogged about running. That blog was written following the tragedy of the Boston Marathon.

April was completed with over 900 miles for the year and I was well on my way to my goal of 2700. I ran through my trips to California, Virginia, Alabama and Georgia. All systems were sort of "go." Sort of.

Throughout the year, I have had this pain on the joint on the outside of my left foot. Because it's mostly tolerable, It has not kept me from, as the post office would say, my appointed rounds. In early May, it worsened. Then, it spread over into my arch. It seemed like Plantar Fasciitis. Days before the Bolder Boulder, I was limping and on the Saturday before, I decided I needed to stop (and I am not good at stopping).

I have run for nearly 47 years. I have coached for decades as well. For the most part, I am self-diagnosed and self-treated. This time, however, no matter what I did the injury was not responding. 

The first step, of course, was to take some time off. Ice and massage worked well and each day I could see progress. As soon as I'd try to sneak in an easy 3 miler, I'd get set back. So,
the next step of my misfortune, was to seek help (and I am not good at seeking help). I researched EVERYONE in an attempt to find someone who could cure my PF while understanding the nature of my obsession for running. I found Dr. Carly May (she got my vote when I discovered that she would be gone for four days in June working at the USATF Track National Championships).

Our first meeting was a lot of chatting about my history, mileage, and habits. Then a bit of ART (Active Release Therapy) and some dry needling. I learned I had tight glutes (I thought that was a good thing, it always worked for Jennifer Aniston) and began doing an exercise to loosen those pesky things. I would return in a week and we'd see how we were doing.

On that return visit, after the usual ART and needles, it was decided I would have my foot x-rayed. My overwhelming thought was that FINALLY I might find the origin of this problem. The results sent me a bit of a shockwave.

My foot wasn't broken, nothing torn. The x-ray person did, however, see what he/she called "medial calcinosis," and then added the kicker, "suggestive of diabetes." 

What? Suggestion of what? Hey, I know my Mom had diabetes and my Brother has it, but not me. No way. Immediately I set an appointment with my primary physician. 

Maybe not THIS thin...
Long story short, my tests came back within the normal range. Once again, I believe, running 101,700 miles for almost 47 years allowed me to dodge a bullet. The scare factor, however, finally replaced bullet dodging with a cleaned up set of habits. The biggie: Pepsi. Sorry Pepsico, someone else will have to carry the weight (pun intended) for the company. It can no longer be me. We had a nice run, so to speak, but our time is over. I have also replaced garbage snacks with fruits and vegetables. 

AND, of course, I am back on the trails. Broke in slowly with 12 miles the first four days. Found most everything to be in good order, so quickly moved to 47 and 55 miles the last two weeks. Most importantly, I have dropped 15 pounds in 19 days. I have a long way to go and hope to have to do some serious wardrobe purchasing in September or October (maybe I can find some clothes from college). The goal is to return to the form so that if my Grandma Sands were still alive, she'd say, "You look like hell. Let me feed you."

I am fortunate that my misfortune was only a scare. This time, I am listening. And pass the scotch tape, I'm getting ripped.

Run on!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Perspective

As I watched Shalane Flanagan be dropped from the lead pack in today's Boston Marathon, I was sad. Knowing what someone as mediocre as I do to prepare for the 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston, Shalane must have done so much more. Elite runners give their hearts, souls and bodies for those two times a year when they can hit the marathon starting line. I felt badly for her, and badly for myself as a fan.

Little did know that three hours later I would be glued to the Frontier Airlines television watching the details unfold concerning the horror of this year's Boston. It left me speechless, shocked and angry. How could someone do something like this......at a marathon? And especially Boston!

I ran the Boston Marathon in 2001. Actually had a TERRIBLE day (qualified at 3:10) and ran 4:08 and change (oddly enough a minute before the first explosion). Boston was the first race I ever heard about as a youngster, my first real running dream and the holy grail of marathoning. To me, and many like me, the Boston Marathon is bigger than any annual so called Super football game, larger than the World Series and way ahead of anything the NBA or NHL does. The Boston Marathon is..... well, the Boston Marathon. It has been around for more than a century and is on the goal list for nearly every serious distance runner.

We don't know who is responsible for this act of terror. It may be quite awhile before we do. But know this, whomever you are, messing with runners is messing with the wrong group. Runners, and those who love and support them, are a unique breed. Overcoming obstacles, for most, is a daily occurrence. You don't mess with the toughest people around and you won't discourage them for more than a few minutes. Runners will bounce back, as will the people of Boston and most certainly their marathon too.

So consider yourself on notice terrorist, your act only brings this already united group closer together. Runners share a common bond that goes beyond most sports, a bond of commitment, dedication and participation. You can't beat that with just a bomb or two.

Heartfelt thoughts, prayers and condolences to all of the innocent people affected by this senseless act. It's a sad day on the planet.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Low Mo, So Go Slow

My running is in a bit of a slump. I don't mean mileage-wise. The last five weeks have been in the 50's and 60's in total miles per week. I'm on my way to a 2800+ mile year. I've done a few longer runs of over 15 miles. I have even done some speedwork. My slump is mental. It's a no motivational kind of slump. And here might be the surprise, I'm okay with that.

One of the things I've learned in the past 46 and a half years of running is that my motivation ebbs and flows. The tide comes in and out. It goes up and down (any more metaphorical ramblings?). And I'm okay with that too.

I'd hoped to be psyched up enough to participate in a few local springtime races. Maybe catch a half or even a full marathon. That probably won't happen. I don't race when I'm not fit and I am not fit in a racing sort of way. And that is alright with me.

So what I do when I get the running blahs is simple: I keep running. Some people take an all out break, some follow other endeavors. I like to keep plugging away and focus my runs on other things. My unmotivated runs feature listening to audiobooks, working on presentations in my head, enjoying the scenery, and not thinking about running faster, longer, or racing. I don't take my watch and pretty much care nothing whatsoever about where or how fast I go. The idea is to GO WITH my lack of motivation, not fight it. And it's really something I feel good about.

In fact, it's kind of motivating.

Friday, January 25, 2013

How's Your Handwriting?

I finally picked up my running log for 2013. Luckily, I found one at Barnes and Noble, so I didn't have to send away for one like last year. Yep, it's a real live grab-the-pen and write in it log. And yep, I know there are a multitude of websites where I can log and track my miles (in fact, I use one: dailymile.com). I simply prefer the written log for several reasons.

First, I'm an old school kind of guy. I began running in 1966 and on my first day of cross country practice, Coach Pingel said, "log your miles." So, I did. I've put logs on lined paper, self designed calendrical formats (calendrical..... like that one?), and pretty much every major log ever published in the running world. My preference is The Runner's Diary, designed by Matt Fitzgerald. I like the ease of writing a workout and the subsequent ease of reviewing them as well. There is plenty of room to pontificate the virtues or flaws for any given workout and pages for goals, progress, pace charts and more.

One of the driving forces behind my running is the connection of me to my planet. Maybe it's a kinesthetic thing. I like the actual act of running, the doing it. As a result, I like to actually write about my runs. Pen to paper. What a concept.

I like the privacy of my log. Fitzgerald calls it a "diary," and some days it reads very much like the musings of a heart-broken or extremely smitten teenage girl. I get to ramble, praise, criticize, and rant to my heart's content. And..... like I said, I get to write. And Lord only knows, in this 21st century most humans handwriting has gone to hell in a hand basket from lack of use. On dailymile.com, much like other forms of social media, anyone can read my postings, so I tend to be a little more guarded. "Just the facts, ma'am, just the facts." In my log, I can let loose.

More than privacy, I have concerns about the Daily Mile's (and any other website's) longevity. What happens if they fold tomorrow? Where do my workouts go? I know that if Facebook dies tomorrow, I'll still have friends and still have pictures. I won't lose the content of my life. I will survive. But lose my workouts? No, not willing to risk that!

Mostly I enjoy using my log to reflect back on my running. I can trace progress prior to a race, see where I overtrained, relive the fast days. It's fun to look back and see entries like: "10 miles easy, 57 minutes." 

Reflecting on my running is, in many ways, reflecting on my life. Having chronicled forty-six years of an activity gives me wonderful insight when it comes to the years gone by. I can read the highs, the lows, and everything in between. It has become, maybe, a snapshot of a life on planet Earth.

So, I was excited to catch up this morning. And excited to look ahead. 

Run on!

Monday, January 7, 2013

What is a Goal, Anyway?

Mine must be the Red ones.

The question, as I ponder my lack of goal achievement in 2012, is what is a goal, anyway?  According to one of the many only dictionaries available, a goal is "the result or achievement toward which effort is directed."

I like that definition because it targets "achievement toward which effort is directed." I think that means if I'm making the effort toward my goals, even if I don't make it, I've been successful. Right?
Yeah, sure.

So here's how we did with the 2012 running goals:
1. Run every day. This is a goal I set most every year as I strive to be consistent in my running. I had an excellent string going until the calf injury hit in September. Having lost 11 days of running to the dreaded calf heart attack, this goal was not completed.

2. 2500 miles. Here's what I wrote about this one..... "After nearly 2800 in 2011, you could say I'm backing off or wimping out (that's okay, you really CAN say it). Actually, I'm simply trying to be a little more relaxed. PLUS all I need to do is get to 100,000 total career miles by the Mayan Calendar deadline and we'll see after that (need 2195 miles for that)."   Mission accomplished. 2762 total and the 100,000th mile run far before the Mayan miscalculation.

3. Races. Simple: 3 marathons (would love it if one is New York but that's a crap shoot and a VERY EXPENSIVE crap shoot at that), 1 Half Ironman, a 50K+ and 10 other assorted runs of varying length (time to hit the 5K - Half Mar circuit). I raced thrice in 2012. A 4K, a ten miler and the uncompleted Savannah Marathon. In the first two, I placed in my age group.

4. More weight loss. I said: "ended up with 26 net loss last year. Need that much again to be lean and mean." I suppose this one could be called accomplished as I have a net weight loss of 6 pounds for the year. The hope was to go much lower, but that is a daily struggle which continues in 2013. 

5. Strength and Core work. The goal is 120 days of S & C. Ha! Not even close.


So, it didn't go quite as well as I might have liked. Luckily, I don't get paid to accomplish running goals. The mileage does make me somewhat happy as the 2762 is my eleventh highest total in my 47 years of logging runs (not bad for an old man). And of course, completing the journey to 100,000 miles was very cool.

2012: Book CLOSED. On to 2013......

1. Run every day. I'm not as hung up on this one as usual, but I throw it in as it is the initial goal every year.

2. Run 2700 miles. This goal, too, has some flexibility. I'd actually like to approach 3000, but don't want to get overly hung up on it. I would have been fairly close to that this year, as I figure I lost at least 200 miles during the calf issues, maybe more.

3. Race. Again, three marathons, an ultra (probably 50K) and a host of other events. Let's put a number on it....... okay, 12 other events. I still have half an inclination toward a half Ironman, but I know how little time there is to add swimming and cycling to the program. New York? Boston? No, not on the radar this time.

4. Weight. Okay, last time we were WAY too vague, so here goes: 170 at the end of the year.

5. Strength and Core. Same goal as last year, 120 days.

6. Broaden my horizons. I want to improve as an athlete this year and I'm still unsure as to what that might mean. In my mind, I see yoga, maybe Tae Kwon Do, who knows? But the key here is to increase strength, flexibility and coordination. Very tired of being the tight runner guy.

7. Have fun! As is always the goal, I will continue to lead my life as an exercise in FUN!

Happy Belated New Year!