Archive for November, 2016

Traveling Runner – The Stories

November 23rd, 2016

img_1382I see the world as a big neighborhood.

When you lose the feeling that traveling from one coast to the other is not unusual, but ordinary, your perception of our nation becomes…..that it is almost small.  In any given week, I will spend time in 2-3 of the time zones, except when I go to Arizona, because they don’t believe in the whole daylight savings thing and it completely messes up my TV viewing…. when is the 6 o’clock news on…..7 o’clock!

I have often said that there are times I feel like you could use a passport as you travel the U.S.A.  Leaving the Mid-West and traveling to either coast can be a culture shock if you are new to those areas and of course there is always Texas.  Texas wants no part of the title Midwest, Southwest, or West, Texas has its own identity and really good food.

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How does this all play in to an article about running?  Because over the last 15 years I have traveled on average 150 nights a year and in the last 6 years – that travel has included my running.  There was a time that my night ended at the hotel, with extensive snacking, sodas and laying around.  Those days are gone, the hotel room is now, no more than a launching pad to whatever run is on the schedule for that night.  I have run in all parts of this country, Central Park in New York, Miami Beach, Lubbock Texas, Hiram GA, Lacey WA, Sunnyvale CA, Peoria, AZ, Boulder, CO and there is a great story about Gillette, Wyoming, the list could just keep on going.

But it was a short run in 2011 that I allowed the title of Runner to be connected to my name.  I wrote about it one time years ago and it happened in a town named Kearney, Nebraska. I was early into my running and still was trying to figure out what the heck I was doing.  I awoke very early in the morning with a 3 mile run planned and it was pouring rain outside.  I sat on the edge of my bed in the dark having that all too familiar fight with myself, that all runners have, trying to convince myself that I needed to get out there and run. (The argument was not internal, but out loud and I am sure the room next to me thought I was crazy).  I did run that day, in the pouring rain and cold wind blowing, and I loved every moment of it.  I got back to my room, which was still dark, and I was on cloud nine.  I had no idea what was going on, but I felt like the king of running that morning and I couldn’t stop telling everybody that I came in contact with that day.  The server at the restaurant, got a 10-minute breakdown of the run before I ordered my lunch, the young guy I was training had a full day oimg_8419f me giving him a second by second recap of the that epic 3 mile run.  I would later learn that I was seriously hopped up on endorphins and the cashier at the gas station did not care about the negative splits that occurred during the run…she said she didn’t care…. twice.Time has passed and there have been epic runs and epic failure runs, but what is consistent is the joy of running all over this country.  I have seen downtown L.A. like you can’t see in a car and felt the serenity of western Iowa’s peaceful countryside.  I’ve run the trail that halfway circles Lake Murray outside of San Diego, not forgetting to punch the red dot on the sign at the turn around.  Took off for a run in Flagstaff, Arizona and wondered why I was out of breath so quick, only to find out I was higher up in the air than even Denver. By the way, I may have looked ridiculous gasping for breath in the hotel parking lot. Circled the town of Key West, enjoying the beautiful scenery of the ocean, making sure to reward myself with a pancakes from the Blue Heaven Restaurant, and then Key Lime pie. (it’s ok, I earned it) I once went for a run in Ashville, NC.  It was to be a simple 3 miler, but sometime into the run, my contact popped out of my eye, I could not see signs or my Google maps and well…..to make a long story short.  I ran 10 miles that night and here is a fact, Asheville has got some hills.

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This is an introductory article to what I plan on sharing with you all.  It will be stories of this amazing country seen from my running shoes.  I have met so many people in my travels and their stories are interesting, sad, and funny.  I have had skunks chase me (Nashville) and Grandmas high5 me as I finished a run (Utah).  I have gotten lost (more than once) and ended up in a race by accident (Central Park).  Running has challenged me, helped me find my competitive edge again, and allowed me to experience our country (and maybe a Caribbean Island or two).  I want to encourage you all to do the same.  Stories are coming, but for now why don’t you go for a run and experience your own story?

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Posted in Experience, For Fun, Inspiration, Marathon, Run, Running, Training, Uncategorized | Comments (0)

The Day the Music Changed – A Runners Story

November 16th, 2016

There was a pounding in my head each time my shoe hit the asphalt.

I already knew that the wheels were coming off and as the 16th mile marker came into eyesight, my spirits slowly drained through the pores of my skin leaving me with the hollow feeling of defeat.  My mile time hadn’t decreased yet, I was still on goal pace…….. but I KNEW.

19 weeks of training had been a great teacher.  It had brought me closer to my body and understanding how it would react under just about any situation during the run.  So although the times were still good, and a smile was still on my face for each photographer, under it ALL was the heart of a defeated man.  The miles droned on and my mile 16 prediction of disaster began to show it’s true self as I passed mile 19.

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It was a small crack in the armor but focus was disturbed.  The effort to remain at pace went from “marathon uncomfortable hard” (which those that choose to run 138,336 feet have prepared for and already accepted), this was not the “beautiful pain” of the marathon, it was just wrong.  I went deep inside for a little while, I played out every day of training, a cycle of training where I only had missed one run the entire 19 weeks.  It wasn’t making sense, why was this so hard?  This wasn’t my FIRST marathon, it was number 14 for goodness sakes.  How could I still be this bad at running 26.2 miles?  What did I do wrong this time?

My thoughts pounded in my head and became the harmony to the melodic sound my feet made as I continued on.  But now the music had gone from a song with energy, to a slow jam that would have made Luther Vandross proud to sing over.  I was rewinding back to mile 13 where it was simply a party in my head.  Math was still coming easy at that time and I was laying out the game plan for how this run was going to end.

In my head……..

  • Mile 21 was going to be the jump off point, I was going to find a gear that was going to propel me to the finish line and straight to the pancake buffet, where my medal was sure to be admired by all
  • My 21 mile warm up was just a prelude to the real story of this race, the EPIC FINISH. None of this played out in that way, I passed the 21-mile marker and there was no gear to be found, in fact I down shifted to a gear that was both painful and sad

There is so much talk about THE WALL, but when you hit it and I mean really smack your face against it, you are instantly humbled.  So here I was shuffling along, having those thoughts about how much I love 5K’s and how I loathe this race of 26.2 miles.  I dug out my phone and turned it on to call my wife.

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  • By mile 22, I should have already crossed the finish line and I did not want her staring down the road, wondering if the next person to turn the corner was going to be me, because I was not turning that corner. I was still fighting one difficult step after the next.  So many thoughts rush through your delirious brain at the end of a marathon, but it is so hard to keep them in order so that they make sense.

Think of a word jumble, you see all the letters but you have to concentrate and search in order for the letters to form a word.  Experience has taught me to just focus on something simple in order to just get me to the finish line.  I chose to focus on my yellow shoes and the design they made in my blurred vision as I took each step.  Over and over I watched my shoes until I started to realize something was different, I was sure it was a snake on my shoe, nope…….it was just untied.  I slowed to a stop and just stared at the untied shoe, stared like a man who knew what needed to be done, but had no idea how it was going to get done.  My foot was so far away and I was scared if I knelt to tie the shoe, because there was no way I could bend over and do it, that I wouldn’t get back up.  So right there on the course, I performed some kind of Yoga maneuver, one we will call “Tall Bald Guy Shoe Tie” and tied my shoe, I high 5’d myself.

By mile 23.5, I shuffled on and a ball of energy headed right towards me.  My son ran up to me and looked me in the eyes and told me that he was going to finish this run with me.  I was excited, happy and revitalized.  I showed all of this emotion with a really exaggerated nod of my head, and a grunt, maybe a smile.

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We ran that last 2.5 miles together, he never stopped talking, he used sayings and slogans that I have yelled at him as he runs his Cross Country races, he talked to me about the highlights of his homecoming dance, and I am pretty sure we talked about how bad I was looking. The music had changed again, to a comforting melody that didn’t pump me up, but left me relaxed and resigned that I was going to finish, let’s call it a “smooth jazz finish”.

He left me just before the finish line, and I crossed with hands raised as I am sure the winner had done.  My wife met me as I crumbled to the ground, reflecting on what I considered a failure, but she just looked at me and asked “What did you learn?” and promised that I was still getting pancakes.

I will run again…I am a runner.

GoRun-BeEpic

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Posted in Experience, Inspiration, Marathon, Race Recap, Run, Running, running log, Uncategorized | Comments (1)

Starting Over – 16th Time is a Charm

November 8th, 2016

I am starting over, for the 16th time.  I have a dream and the number of times I have failed is fueling this desire to succeed instead of diminishing it and allowing me to quit.  I have run 15 marathons and still have yet to get it right.  There have been some….better than others – my 2nd marathon still remains the only one that I completed with a negative split.  Now this next statement may not seem to make sense, although my marathon times have gotten faster but my performance has gotten worse.  I have become intimate with the “wall” and proficient at the “final 2-mile shuffle”.  So here I am, coming off of two of my worst performances in the marathon and WHY DO I HAVE SUCH HOPE?  Because each time I fail, I am challenged to improve the areas I am really bad at (on race day).

Here are some of my most classic finishes:

2013 Chicago Marathon – I was crushing it, I remember distinctly crossing the 18-mile mark and thinking how awesome it was that I was on BQ pace.  What seemed like seconds later, right after the 23 mile sign you could find me sitting on the img_0096curb looking like I was fighting with an invisible alien, otherwise known as full body cramps.  I finished that day in 3:44, the goal was 3:20.

 

2014 Portland Marathon – My goal this day was to simply PR and at that time it was 3:42. I ran with my good friend Devon who is very fast and she was pacing me.  We were all good and well ahead of pace until I threw in a 10:39 at mile 24 and finished that day at 3:43.

2015 MO Cowbell Marathon (The PR race) – This race had all the makings of greatness.  I cruised through the miles with little or no stress and as I hit mile 21 not one cramp or negative thought had dared entered my mind.  As I approached mile 23, I had to double check to make sure somehow I hadn’t left the course and found quicksand to run through, because the pace had slowed and I was forced shuffle home.  I was ecstatic to have broken 3:40 but discouraged with my late race performance.  Goal was 3:30, my finish time 3:37:42 (current PR)

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2016 MO Cowbell & Marine Corps Marathon – Both races started with such promise and slowly spiraled into sadness.  In fact, at that The Marine Corps Marathon, I actually had to have a frank discussion with a Medic just to let me finish…which I did with my arms raised.

What can we take away from these examples?  It is clear that I have a problem finishing marathons at my designed goal pace.  It is even clearer, that I have serious fueling issues, as almost every race has included a point in which the power immediately goes out.  When that power goes out, it is one of the worst feelings you can have as a runner, because there is no real way to get it back and you are often so close to your goal, it literally hurts your soul.  The one thing that you read though, was that I finished each of those races, often against my own wanting to finish.  I had serious discussions with myself with all the reasons of why I should just sit down and wallow in my self-pity, but it was other runners that encouraged me, pushing me to the finish line.

So what am I doing about it?  This summer before starting my training for the last two marathons, I admitted to myself that I didn’t know what I was doing and went searching for help.  I found it in a knowledgeable, at times snarky, but always supportive running coach.  And all though the last two marathons were disasters by the clock, I was able to eliminate the things that I was doing right and feel confident in knowing that my fueling was the key.  But now the challenge remains…………how do I fix it?

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The running calculators that are accessible have simply not worked for a large “Clydesdale” like me.  I apparently don’t process glucose and fat as effectively as I need to.  In fact, there is very little information out there for runners that are on the larger size (I am 6’3” and 205lbs) that want to run sub 3:30’s.  Sure there are those runners that are just naturally gifted – but I am not that guy.  I need help with this fueling issue, I am going to keep trying until I crack the code and when I do, I am going to spread that information to the running world.  There are many of us “Clydesdales” that want to run fast, but the calculators are not designed for us.  Often the generic calorie calculators end with the range of 180lbs and up, that is very general for what is needed to effectively fuel for a race. When you finally find a calculator that includes over 200lbs and all it tells you that you are going to have to take in 10 gel packets during your race, you make a funny face and do it.  But when it doesn’t work, you go back to the drawing board.  Here I am, drawing up a new plan, looking to “crack the code” of my fueling.  I am excited to be starting over for the 16th time.

Question:

Are you a runner that has “cracked the code” of your fueling?  Whether you are a “Clydesdale” or not, I would love to hear how you figured it out.  Send me an email with your story.  runhardalwaysfinish@gmail.com

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Posted in Inspiration, Marathon, Run, Running, running log, Training | Comments (1)