Sunday, July 19, 2020

My First Races OR How I Became a Runner

Was listening to a podcast the other day and the runner being interviewed was talking about his first races in school. It got me thinking about my introduction to running and racing before I ever put a uniform on my body. FIVE races in five years. And I remember WAAAAY too much about each.

It was fifth grade and the culminating activity of the national physical fitness test: the 600 yard run. My gym teacher Mr. Wenzl had us primed and ready to run this monstrously long distance TWICE (I guess they figured if the first time didn't kill us, they'd try a second). The "track" was simple. We ran the bases of the hardball field. 90 feet to each base, made for 360 feet or 120 yards per lap. Five laps made 600 yards. And without ceremony, we were off!

I have no idea what my time was for the first go round. I do know, however, that I WON! Ah, the taste of victory was divine, short-lived, but divine. I say short-lived because since I had won my "heat," I would be placed in the second running with Larry Roma, who no one had told me was the school record holder. Well, I broke Larry's record with a quick 2:06. The problem was that Larry broke Larry's record with a 2:04.

In sixth grade the much awaited rematch was set. We both ran easy in the first running knowing the big matchup would be coming. The"final" had me taking an early lead only to have Larry come up on my shoulder with a little over a lap to go. Well, sorry Larry. I'm not sure if I had my Wheaties that morning and you did not, but I was not to be denied smashing through the finish at 1:58.

Next came Junior High. We were a 7-9 grade school and while we did the obligatory fitness test jive, we also did a thing called, are you ready for this, The Distance Run. WHOA, that seems intimidating. Turns out that the "distance run" was about 3/4 of a mile (which by the way, made it more than twice as far as the measly 600).

Anyway, 7th grade, I won with a 4:26 breaking the 7th grade record and coming up 2 seconds short of the record for the entire Junior High. In the 8th grade..... well, in the 8th grade I ran 4:00 "shattering" every record (closest guy was my buddy Steve Sly who was 20 seconds back). 

9th grade, well 9th grade changed my life. I had always thought I'd play baseball in High School. I was a very good pitcher and an excellent hitter. My Dad, with all of the optimism of a Dad, thought that baseball might be my ticket. Turns out he was wrong. And so was I.

I ran 3:36 that day and the next day the High School cross country coach just happened to show up at Jr High PE class to chat with me. That was all it took to win me over. I became a runner that day.

(By the way, on a side note, as much potential as I had, my youngest son Ryan was scary...... 6:22 mile as a first grader)

115,000+ miles later, I still look at it as the best decision I've made.

What's your story?

Run on.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Running in the Pandemic: The Success of the Infinite Game

In his book The Infinite Game, Simon Sinek, pontificates about the differences between the finite game (one which has set rules and a scoreboard), and the Infinite Game (which is flexible and looks at the big picture).

During this pandemic, there is a great many runners/racers/people in general who are extremely frustrated with the lack of competitive opportunities at this time. Without the chance to compete, without the chance to see yourself in relation to the/their scoreboard, the process gets fuzzy and sometimes not so motivating. Because they often see themselves in relation to the scoreboard, this time can be frustrating and even depressing.

On the other hand, because I cannot compete even if I wanted to at this moment, I have no such expectations of my running, and haven't for sometime. Within the non-confines of that mentality, I am able to flourish in this environment. Without question, I have done my best running of the last few years in these past three months and feel little other than optimism about the coming weeks/months/year. I have no small picture other than the individual run and the big picture has endless boundaries.

By the way, this doesn't make me better, smarter, or anything than anyone else, I'm just settled into a different perspective. Would I actually like to be getting ready for a fall marathon right now? YOU BET! That however is not in the cards in the foreseeable future until my impending knee replacement and LOOOONG recovery. So maybe I am better able to roll with the pandemic punches because it's the only place I fit. 

I have to confess, however, that I am more comfortable in the infinite game anyway. I see my life as mine and yours as yours. In order for me to have something, it doesn't mean that you get nothing. I like to think the glass is half full for everyone, if you know what I mean, or if you choose to see it that way. The beauty of that philosophy, too, is that it doesn't leave a place for jealousy, envy, and all of the crappy self image issues that go with those things.

Anyway, the running has been pretty good the last two weeks. 52 miles last week led to 53 this week, and as I write this I am sitting at 900 even for the year. I had pictured this all going much differently. As I am losing weight, I am having less problems with my knee. As I have fewer knee problems, the more I enjoy being out there, and the spiral goes UP!

So, I hope your running is bringing you whatever it is you'd like in this very weird time. I'd like to think things will be more normal soon.

Until then, run on.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Juice Time and two Streaks


I had that experience again where I decided I was massively discouraged about the weight loss part of all of this transformation stuff, so I decide to get on the scale when I feel I'm at my heaviest. If I do it that way, I'm not as surprised if I see a bad result on the scale. So, I jump on saying "223" out loud, only to find we are at 214.8. Well, that's good because it's lower than I thought, but it's bad because I feel like I wasted a week with not zeroing in on better eating habits.

But, this week..... the dreaded juicing begins. Five days for this first cycle: 2 plant based juices a day, one "shake," and a salad or other non/low-caloric meal. Maybe then we'll "shake" this thing up. My hope is to have the juicing result most men my age and size have which is a significant drop on the scale in a short time. I'd love to sacrifice a bit and drop another 10-14 before the end of this month. Once at 199, only 30 pounds to go. The original quest began here: http://runspittle.blogspot.com/2020/05/transformation-day-one-or-so.html  Only takes some discipline, right?

The juice recipe, for anyone interested, is: two handfuls of organic Kale, two handfuls of organic baby spinach, 2 or 3 organic granny smith apples (according to their size), one lemon, a half of a pineapple, 3 good size organic carrots. All of this makes a "bag," and a bag makes two large glasses of juice (one for Linda, one for me - she's been doing this for months). The juicer is an Aicok slow masticating juicer and it is excellent. The shake/smoothie is the Fat Flush Body Protein recipe (yummy stuff) from Uni-Key.

52 miles in the book last week. Hit the halfway point of the year at 807 miles. Hoping to get to about 1700 by early December when it's knee replacement time. It's still SOOOOO slow, though. The upside, however, is that whenever I'm beginning and I make that move from the walking to the running, there is a very cool feeling that comes over me. It's hard to describe, so I'll leave it to another day, nonetheless, a good feeling to be in the running motion, no matter the speed.

The meditation is going extremely well. While I seem to be riding a running streak of 68 days, I have a meditation streak of 69. As previously mentioned, I use the Headspace app and while a little tricky getting into the groove right away, now it is a part of the morning.

Saturday, I went to Magnolia Road in Boulder. No, not to run, silly, I went to support my fabulous grandson, Mason for his 18 mile run. A couple of observations: 1) it was packed and there was auto/truck/motorcycle traffic everywhere. Too much in fact (of course at some point coming home we figured out that the Independence Day weekend may have been a factor), 2) LOTS of runners out on a gorgeous day, 3) Next time, maybe in two weeks, we will start earlier. It got hot too fast 4) and most importantly, Mason looked awesome. Ah, I remember the days when an 18 miler in the mid 6's was a piece of cake, and it was a nice memory. Being young, fit, and fast is a fleeting gift. I hope he enjoys it (in fact I hope he savors it).

All in all, everything is good. Work is steady considering that this is usually a slow time anyway. Life at home is fantastic. All is good.

For you, stay safe and run on.

Pops and Buckles: What Happens to My Knee

I was running down the Kestrel trail in the foothills near Boise last night and it happened: my knee popped. Then a minute later it did it a...