Thursday, July 21, 2011

And Still I Run

This has not been a ‘Summer to remember’ in the Evolving family world.  Abundant stress and pressure in our professional lives has spilled over into our personal lives, and it’s just not much fun.  Just do a Google search on ‘Biggest layoffs IT’, and you’ll see the main source of stress.  I’m averaging about 4 hours of sleep a night, and my family is going on our beach vacation next week without me.  And still … I run.
Training is going very well ... a nice oasis of something I can control in a boiling sea of things which largely force me to react.  My usual repertoire of injuries is mostly contained, and I’m in a nice groove where I’m disappointed and antsy when the plan tells me not to run.  Currently in the middle of week 3, and week 4 kicks off with a 14-mile long run that I’ll be tackling at my new hilly running destination that I’ve come to love/hate.  Looking forward to sweating out some worry.

I’ve been horribly out of the loop with blogging, both in terms of reading and posting, so I hope all is going well with all my virtual friends.  Hopefully some sanity will creep back into my world soon.  Until then, I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

110th of 111 Males In My First 5k ... The Perfect Race

Prior to Saturday morning, I had never run any sort of race other than a Marathon.  Didn’t run track in high school.  Never managed to sign up for a 5k, or a 10k, or any flavor of metric racing.  Nothing against the metric system … I loves me some Canada … just never made it happen before I started marathon training, and hadn’t worked it into my training plans despite my best intentions.
I had visions of my first 5k being a stunning discovery of my inner Prefontaine – tearing through the course with fabulous short shorts … a blur of sideburns and  70’s mustache.  Unleashing my inner racer, versus my inner survivor that emerges by the time I've dragged myself 26.2 miles from the start of what seemed like a good idea at the time.  My first 5k did not exactly align with this vision.  It was much, much better.

Those that subject themselves to my blog on a regular basis will recall the virtual 5k that my son and I completed a couple weeks back.  From that experience my son expressed an interest in running a real-life 5k, and on Saturday that became a reality at the DennysChallenge 5k.

Contrary to its name, the DennysChallenge did not involve copious amounts of bacon.  No Maple Bacon Sundaes.  No bacon of any kind.  Not even a stray pig.  Really a missed opportunity to find out if in fact everything is better with bacon.
Actually, the race is a memorial race for a man named Denny who lost his fight with melanoma in 2009, and near the end of his life challenged everyone in the room to a fifty mile race.  Last year there were 132 runners.  This year there were 221.  The event was very well organized and everyone seemed to have a good time.  Kind of a cool feature was awarding prizes to the first 16 finishers, since they collectively covered the 50 miles that Denny had challenged his friends and family to race.

The boy and I got up bright and early, and did some pre-race fueling together – bagel with peanut butter and honey.  I stretched and he teetered on the edge of awake and asleep, we got decked out in our matching shirts, sweatbands, and disoriented early-morning expressions, and off we headed to the race.  We checked in, chatted up anybody who would listen, and soon we were off.

We started out running, which lasted about 3 minutes, then we alternated walking and running for the first mile.  Fair to say my son is not a natural athlete with a  great deal of stamina, so by the end of the first mile he was already hurting.  There weren’t a lot of volunteers on the course, but the cool thing is that every one of them called him out by number shouting encouragement and telling him how great he was doing and what a good thing he was doing supporting the cause.  He got a little embarrassed with the attention, but it gave him a little shot of energy every time it happened, which was so great to experience.
Mile 2 was actually surprisingly hilly, so the running decreased and the walking increased.  He apologized once for going so slow, and I explained that it wasn’t about where we finished, it was about being there helping fund the fight against cancer, and about the two of us doing something together that was good for us and for others.  That really sunk in, because he didn’t complain or apologize again.

Mile 3.1 was mostly walking, and unfortunately we were far enough behind that we didn’t really see any other people, which I think would have helped keep his spirits up.  My wife and daughter were waiting near the finish taking pictures and cheering, so we ran the last .2 miles to the finish line.  Our finish time was around 52 minutes, but the best part of the finish was him telling me how much fun he had, and that when he gets older he’d like to do a Half Marathon.  It makes me proud to know that he probably wouldn’t even know about Half and Full Marathons if I hadn’t started training for and running them, so my example is fueling a interest in my kids.  That’s better fuel for my training than any Gu could ever provide.
Overall a great way to spend a Saturday morning, and next time out we’ll be going to get three matching shirts, since my daughter wants to be a part of the action now.  Happy Dad.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

17 Weeks of Semper Fi

With the first step of a humid, mid-tempo, fairly unremarkable 10 mile run on Sunday, my training for the Marine Corps Marathon is officially underway.  I am so looking forward to both the race itself and the many weeks of training.  With so many stressful variables swirling around in my life right now, running is one of the few things where I feel I am in control.  Injuries may come along that knock me down for a bit, but I make the plan, I execute against the plan, and I drag myself across the start and finish lines on October 30th.
I am definitely in better shape going into this training plan that I have been for the prior two marathons.  I put together a 19-week base-building plan, and with the exception of one week of no-running to deal with an ankle issue, I stuck to the plan.  I completed 379.29 out of 407 planned miles, and kept up with upper-body lifting 3x weekly, and lifting legs (mostly) weekly.  Most of my nagging injuries (calf, hip, ITBand) have gone into hiding, but I am dealing with some recurrent soreness/tightness with my left groin that I’m monitoring.  Not any true pain, but it’s letting me know that it is not entirely happy.

As for the next 17 weeks, the key will be finding the intersection of what I know I need to do and what I actually put into practice.  For example, I know I need to x-train, particularly with some bike training to hit my quads where running doesn’t seem to do much work for me.  However, I’m doing a lousy job of this so far.  Bad runner …. bad.  I know I need to hit the gym and include core work, and I’ve been really good about doing this as much as 3x a week so far.

Other ‘need to do’ items:
  • Need to stretch – before and after runs, and on non-running days
  • Need to ice bath after any run longer than a half-marathon
  • Need to drop 5 pounds – gotta get more lean – cut down on amount of weight when lifting (and amount of food when eating)
  • Need to include more speedwork in my mid-week runs – this was a big positive training for M2
  • Need to slow my pace on my long runs
  • Need to stay diligent about mid-foot strike form at all speeds
  • Need to work more hills into my collection of running paths
  • Need to do more long runs without my iPod – no earphones allowed at MCM – pretty sure Marine snipers take you out if you get caught
  • Need to continue fine-tuning my hydration/fuel plan – didn’t execute on this terribly well in my last marathon and my stomach wasn’t pleased with me by the end of the race
  • Need to sign up for some races between now and MCM – 5k, 10k, Half … something
  • Need to get more sleep – I’m very bad about doing this, and I know I need to get better.  Find myself dragging by Thursday afternoon after consecutive days of 5AM runs.

The list goes on and on.  I’m pretty good about most of these things, and I’m pretty good about knowing what I need to do.  It’s all about the execution.

In other news, following the great success of the ‘Sweat Your Thorns Off’ 5k (and the great comments I got – all of which are greatly appreciated), my son and I will be running a real-life 5k this Saturday morning.  We went and got matching C9 Technical shirts at Target last weekend, and he’s been ‘training’ all week.  I don’t think any course records are in jeopardy, but it should be a lot of fun.