Wednesday, June 28, 2017

110,000 Milestone and Magnolia Part 2

110,000 miles

Around the world almost five times
Today, on an uneventful, but incredibly HOT run in Chandler, AZ (101 degrees at the run's beginning), I passed 110,000 miles. I'm not bragging, of course, but that's almost five times around the Earth at the equator. 

The journey that began 50 years, 10 months, and 16 days ago has hit another milestone. While I am proud of this milestone, I would like to think that at least two more await: 120,000 miles and 200,000 kilometers (124,274.3 miles). Looking at the math, we'll see.

It took 46 months and 25 days to run the last 10,000 miles. That's roughly 5.78 miles per day. That's including a pathetic start to this year, barely 400 miles in the first six months. Nonetheless, that would bring me to 120,000 somewhere around mid-March of 2022. The ripe old age of 71. That means that if I can hang on another few years at the lovely 5.78 per day, I will only need another 739 days (slightly over 2 years) to nail the 200,000 kilometers. 

I realize, by the way, that there are some variables at work that, at this time, cannot be foreseen. How will my knee go in the next few years? How will Father-Time mess with the rest of me? Will I melt from global warming?

I remember watching the awards ceremony for the 1994 NYC Marathon. The oldest finisher in the race that year was Robert Earl Jones, 89 years young. He was so cool. Little biker hat (cycling, not motorcycle), long white hair, skinny as a rail. He was truly inspiring. THAT was the day I decided to run till I was well into my 80's. 

So, in the end, who knows how many miles are left in the tank or what the future holds. 

Flashback:    The 100,000th mile. 

Magnolia Road: The return.
Looking down the first mile

Last Sunday, my son Ryan and I ran 10 miles on Magnolia Road above Boulder. For him, it marked his first double digit run ever. For me, it was my longest run since my surgery and a return to the hilly beast that is Mags. (see my first visit at ).

My last run on Magnolia Road was a fifteen mile affair on a nice day in March of 2016. My recollections are slightly overdone in that I thought I ran it much faster than I actually did. In fact, my per mile average this time was a mere 20 seconds slower than last, truly a testament to how slow I was at the time. I digress.

Sunday's run began, as it does on Mags, with a .87 mile downhill. I must confess, my knee didn't like it much. Once descended, the roller coaster of hills began. At any given moment on Mags, you're either going up or down.
Nice view of the continental divide 4 miles up

The day was cool with clouds sitting just above and sometimes within the trees. It made for a beautiful sight. Given the coolness and the absence of the University of Colorado Cross Country team, the road was considerably less crowded than my first visit. On the way out we saw an obviously very fit young woman hauling along at a quick pace followed by an equally fit gentleman I'd guess to be in his fifties. Then, THEY came by.

A group of lean, mean, young fellas flew by chattering like they were discussing everything that could possibly be discussed. They said HI, gave the usual Mags encouragements and disappeared into the clouds.

The fourth and fifth miles, were a struggle being mostly UPhill. My knee had begun feeling considerably better, but my lack of miles had caught up with me early. At about 4 3/4, Ryan came by heading back. I handed him the car key and he blazed on (Ryan, by the way, is a natural distance runner. He ran a 6:22 mile in the FIRST grade. He has never really taken his running seriously before now and I am anxious to see what he might be able to do once in great shape). Then, I hit the turnaround.

I have to confess, I felt pretty okay coming back. The miles clicked off nicely. My knee felt good. I got into a bit of a zone. I could no longer see Ryan on the road ahead when I heard the pitter-patter of studly feet as the chattering fellas flew by on their return. "Did they really run out to the 7.5 mile turnaround and are already coming back," I thought. As before, they were encouraging, almost annoyingly so.

Dallas Baptist cross country guys group it up
I pressed on. Then, the last mile happened.

Now if you recall, the first .87 miles of this run were downhill. So, because I didn't just fall off the turnip truck, I was acutely aware that the last .87 miles would be UPhill. So I looked upward, up the hill, not to the heavens, and trudged on. Amazingly, the clouds had dropped even more and visibility was almost non-existent. I knew one thing, however, the road kept going up and my car was at the top. So like any red-blooded American tech user, I relied on my Suunto Ambit3 GPS to keep me informed.

With about a 1/4 mile to go, I could see an RV. Next to it were a bunch of guys chattering. Yep, the fellas had lived through their quickly paced 13 mile run (they hadn't gone all the way out as I had thought). Then Ryan emerged and the run was over.

The fellas, who turned out to be seven cross country guys from Dallas Baptist University, gave me a plethora of high fives and kudos (probably being the oldest, fattest, guy they'd ever seen run hills). Then we chatted a bit. They were on a two week self-imposed high altitude camp and their next stop was Estes Park. Good guys (but most cross country kids are).

Ryan informed me of the ease and speed at which he ran the back part of our out and back, and then we were off.

So, I conquered Magnolia Road once again. Well........ lived to tell about it again. It is a tough run and once navigated, you can clearly see why it is a staple of the CU cross country success. I vowed to return in a few weeks perhaps lighter, in better shape, but knowing that any run can be tough if you make it that way.

Run on.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Feeling Groovy. Six Months Down, YEARS to go!

Bolder Boulder 2017
June 1 was the six month surgery-versary for my knee. Better than that, it marks about six weeks of consistent running. Nothing incredible, mind you, just a steady flow of extremely slow miles run in fear of the next step.

Yeah, it's true. The last six weeks have been run in a constant fear that the next step would be the one that caused SERIOUS knee damage. That, however, is something that has come to an almost conclusive end. About a week ago, it dawned on me that I run so slow (most miles at 12:30 + pace) because I am scared of going faster, scared of pushing it. So, I looked back for some reinforcement.

I had just run 9 miles without incident and logged a 40 mile week. If my knee was going to give out, surely that would have been a good time, right? Well, it didn't. Next came the Bolder Boulder, Six point Two miles of asphalt and concrete in the People's Republic of Boulder, surely that would be the breaking point. It wasn't.

In fact the Bolder Boulder showed that I could push a bit and still be okay. Everyone in our group: Ryan, Brian, Mason all set personal records. I was elated to be thirty minutes off my BB PR at 1:06:33. Up until the BB10K, I had yet to run a mile under 11 minutes. On Memorial Day, I strung together 6 of them, with a best of 10:11. I don't ever remember being happier at a BB10K finish line.

Six Months Ago
I realize that this is not the story of quickness or a comeback. It is, however, the story of seeing a hope and a future for this 50 year running career. And frankly, I was getting a bit worried about that.

Life changes. The 30 and 40 mile weeks seem pale in comparison to the good old days. Ha! The good old days. While organizing some logbooks, I found a stretch of weeks from 1991 where the mileage went: 101,105, 107, 82, 101, 106, 100, 71, 109, 120, 100, 89, 104, 106, 100, 82, 100. Holy crap! That's 1683 miles in seventeen weeks! And no injuries. Incredible. THAT was a while ago.

For now, I'll take 30-40 going on 50 as I build for the New York Marathon in five months. At least, at this point, I see that as something that can happen. When I was scared, I didn't.

I still feel the knee. Most days the discomfort (I hesitate to call it pain) is a one on the ten scale. Occasionally it peaks up to a three. Heck, most days, the rest of my body feels worse than my knee as I come trudgingly closer to 110,000 total miles (that's 120 miles away). 

It's been a long trail. Still nowhere near the end.

Run on! 

Running Bucket List? Yeah, I've Still Got One.

June has arrived and the weather has made a change to FABULOUS. Moisture and chilly was much of May (sounded like Yoda said that), but the w...