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My Run Journal – March 2012

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“True strength comes when you’re tested.”
Theodore Roosevelt

If you’ve found this post and want to go back to the beginning of my running journey,
start here.

Click here to see my February 2012 Run Journal

March was a pretty crazy month…about as busy as my February. I did a pretty poor job of tracking my running, and it took awhile to break through that wall I was hitting at 2 miles. I think what finally did it was getting outside. I hate the treadmill. With a passion. When I’m running on the road, I run a slower pace, but it’s more enjoyable, and I don’t feel the pain as badly. It’s a more realistic run for me. I certainly haven’t done as well running with consistency as I should be. For most of March, I hit it only 2-3 times a week, and I tracked it even less. Below is a brief summary of the last few runs.

3/20
Outside
Mile 1 – 14:20
Mile 2 – 14:45

3/21
Outside
Mile 1 – 14:10
Mile 2 – 29:50
Mile 2.6 – 39:30

3/22
Outside
3 miles on the high school track

3/24
5 miles on the high school track

3/28
40 minutes leg and abs workout

3/29
Outside
Mile 1 – 13:50
Mile 2 – 14:30
Walked 4 minutes at mile 2
4.5 miles – 1:05:16
1179 calories

My overall per mile pace is pretty weak, averaging 14+ minutes. But I’m moving, which is more than I was doing this time last year. I’m starting to see the pounds dropping again too. It’s helping that a friend from church has been running with me every now and then. We’ve been meeting at the high school track a couple nights a week. It’s nice to have someone there pushing me to keep going. He’s not really even pushing me, so to speak…just having him there makes the run easier and motivates me to keep going further and faster. With a month to go to my next half marathon, I definitely gotta keep going. To continue with me on this journey, read My April 2012 Run Journal

Love,

Dad

My Run Journal – February 2012

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“Anyone can give up. It’s the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that’s true strength.”
Anonymous

If you’ve found this post and want to go back to the beginning of my running journey,
start here.

Click here to see my January 2012 Run Journal

Here it is, the 26th day of the month, only 10 weeks until the next half marathon…it ain’t looking so good yet. I chose the quote above for a reason. I’m on the verge of giving up. To start with, I haven’t been running on schedule like I should be. My training has fallen by the wayside as I struggle to keep up with life and all that keeps me busy during the Upward season. What little running I have been doing I’ve not been tracking. I can say with accuracy that I’ve only run 2-3 times per week, max. At most, each of those runs has only been 2 miles. I’m at a wall here, and I haven’t been able to dig down deep enough yet to find the drive to get over the wall. I’m going to have to do some serious soul searching to find something within to keep me moving on this journey. The strength and power to keep pushing and training is going to have to come from above, because I’m not seeing it within myself. And I’m going to have to find it pretty quick, or I won’t be ready.

2/27
Week 3 Day 1

With only 10 weeks before the half marathon, I’m way behind my intended training schedule. I usually follow a 12-week plan and add extra weeks in, so if I follow the 12-week plan to the letter, I should be pretty good to go by race day. I found a revised novice training plan from the Hal Higdon site that seems a little closer to what I’m already doing, so I’m switching to that one. My plan is to run per the training schedule, and any time I have left after the run to fill up a full hour, I’ll walk. Then I’m going to throw in some two-a-days here and there with cross-training and strength training to help speed things up…not over pushing it during the second workout, but something extra to keep moving forward. Today’s workout on the treadmill:

mile – speed
.25 – 6.0
1.25 – 5.0
.05 – 3.2
.20 – 5.0
.05 – 3.2
.25 – 5.0
.05 – 3.2
.15 – 6.0
.05 – 3.2
.20 – 5.0
.05 – 3.2
.25 – 5.0

This 3 miles took 38:23, and I finished the full hour with a nice walk. Hard run, because I didn’t stretch beforehand. I know better than that.

I’m in a “two-a-day” kind of mood this week, so all week I’m going to try to get two workouts in every day. The second workout will not be over-taxing, but will be a cross-training opportunity to build my strength, improve my cardio ability and burn calories. This afternoon, I went back to the gym for 20 minutes of swimming, followed by a 15 minute “cool down” in the hot tub. The 20 minutes in the pool kicked my tail, and now as I write this, only 4 hours afterward, my arms and abs are already hurting. Feeling pretty good about it, though.

Love,

Dad

Don’t Quit

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Ran two miles today. Ugh!! Here’s an unsolicited tip. When you set out on a goal, don’t ever stop. EVER! In particular, with getting fit, it’s harder to start back up once you stop. My two months off is kicking my tail! I gotta keep reminding myself that it took me 38 years to put myself in this condition. Reversing it isn’t a battle I’m gonna win overnight. It’s a lifelong war…one that I’m determined to win. For your sake – and my own – I won’t quit.

Love,

Dad

My Run Journal – Jan 2012

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“Nothing changes until something moves.”
Unknown

This particular post is meant to be read from bottom to top if you want to follow it chronologically. If you’ve found this post and want to go back to the beginning of my running journey, start here.

Click here to see my October 2011 Run Journal

1/20
Two hard miles on the treadmill. Ran first mile at a 5.5 in 11:00. Walked .1 then ran .4 at a 10:00/mile pace. Walked another .15 then finished the last at a 7.0 speed to finish the two miles in 23:35. I’m getting faster more consistently.

1/19
So much for swapping days off. Lazy day today.

1/18
Two mile walk on treadmill. Alternated the incline from a level 1 all the way to a level 15, alternating my speed to accommodate my perceived work level. Great cross-training workout. Sweated as much as I do on a moderate run.

1/17
Pushed my week back a day to make up for yesterday. Plan to swap Thursday’s rest day for yesterday. 3 miles on the treadmill. First mile in 11:30, then alternated .1/.15 walk/run at a 6.0 run speed (10:00/mile pace) for another mile and .15/.1 walk/run at a 7.0 run speed (8:41/mile pace). The last two splits, I jogged at a 4.5 speed after .05 mile, building into the run. Total time 37:30.

1/16
Supposed to be 3 miles. Talked myself into running in the early evening. Then got lazy. Nothing.

1/15
Rest Day

1/14
Treadmill again. Long run day, 3 miles today. Ran 2.1 miles at a 5.1 pace, just under a 12 minute mile. Then alternated walk/fast run (under 10 min/mile) for the rest. Never walked more than .05 mile and finished the whole 3 miles in 36:10, just over a 12 min/mile average. My lungs were hurting, and my legs are rubber. I need fuel. Feel good to accomplish it.

1/13
Treadmill. 2 miles in 24:02, my fastest pace for any sustained run over one mile without walking.

1/10
20 minutes on the elliptical followed by 20 in the pool, alternating swimming and walking.

1/9
3 miles on the treadmill with your mom walking beside me.

1/4
Supposed to be 3 miles today. Did 1.1 at a 5.0 pace on the treadmill, followed by alternating walking/running for .1/.15 for another 1.5 miles, to for a total of 2.5 miles. I was done…I know I’m not starting at square one, because I jogged a little over a mile right out…but it sure feels like it. My legs hurt. Should have stretched beforehand. Oh yeah…and running in the dark is not really good for me. The gym has a movie theater room, with cardio equipment so you can run/bike/eliptical while you watch a movie. I almost fell off the treadmill three times. I think I’ll stick to the regular cardio area from now on.

1/3

Cross-training day. Joined the gym across the street from the house and swam for 25 minutes. I like swimming. It’s a full body workout with cardio included. Weighed in while I was there. Confirmed six pounds shy of where I started last year. Ugh.

1/2
You might notice I don’t have a November or December Run Journal. There’s a reason for that. It’s been two months since my first half marathon…71 days to be exact. In that time, I’ve run 4 times, for 2 miles each run. In case you’re wondering, 71 days is too long of a break after a half marathon. I’m 18 weeks out from my next half marathon, and it’s like I’m starting over. Because I am. My body forgot that I’m a runner. One mile in today, I felt like I was going to die. Heck, my legs felt like death after two minutes. I did a mile at a 5.0 on the treadmill, then walked .05/ran .25 twice and walked .5 to finish out the two miles. It’s time to get serious again. My next race will quickly sneak up on me if I’m not careful, and I really want to improve on my time. My weight is back up to just under where I started in March of last year…about 5 pounds under. It’s time to get it on!

Love,

Dad

I Have PMS

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Yes, you read that title right.  I am a sufferer of the PMS.  I read a blog a few days ago by “Ask Coach Jenny” about the aftermath of running a long distance race, like the half marathon I ran a month ago.  I knew going into the race that there was a chance I would enter a stage of mild depression following the race…I’d read about it from experienced runners.  Even the most seasoned runners are not immune to it.  Long story short, as the sense of accomplishment and the “high” of race day fades away, a depression sets in.  The technical name is Post Marathon Syndrome…PMS for short…and I’m all up in it.

Six of the warning signs of PMS that the article listed include:

  • Comparison shopping and minimizing your marathon accomplishment
  • Lacking interest in setting a new goal
  • Feelings of sadness, pessimism, and worthlessness
  • Feeling lost without your training
  • Not able to see the light through the fog
  • Rounding your marathon time down–”I ran around 5 hours for a 5:55 finish”

I have cycled through all six of these symptoms several times in the last month.  Even as I write this, I’m living three of them right now.  It’s been a month since I ran the half marathon, and in the last 4 weeks, I have been lazy and unmotivated.  I’ve run only twice, two miles each time.  I can feel the pounds slowly creeping back on, which should be no surprise.  My level of activity has dropped considerably, while my eating habits haven’t changed.  I’ve been feeling lethargic and unmotivated.  Even though, I’ve registered for another half marathon…one that looks to be an exciting experience…I have not found the inner desire to get back to the training regime.

What I’m learning about PMS is that it’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Life has cycles.  God makes this clear in Ecclesiastes 3:

 1 There is a time for everything,
   and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,
 3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,
 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,
 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
 6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,
 7 a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,
 8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

Although I do not prefer this stage of my running life, I am learning that the PMS I’m in now is a time of learning for me.  There can be benefits to living in this cycle a for a little while.  It gives my body a chance to heal and rejuvenate, and it has allowed me to start gaining an awareness of the natural phases of a runner’s life and see it as an opportunity to run seasonally and make the most of the free time.  Today, I ran two hard miles on the treadmill, alternating one minute at a pace of 8.0 for two minutes at a 3.5 walk.  Prior to the run, I spent 20 minutes doing some strength training, focusing on my upper body, back and abs.  I’m learning that to improve my performance, I need to strengthen my core muscles, and to continue losing weight, I need to do more than just run.  For the first time in several weeks, I’m feeling less lethargic and drained of energy.  I know it’s because I got the workout in early today.

The past month has been busy in planning for the new Upward season, and certainly the next few months in the heart of the season will not be different.  It’s a good time for this cycle of life.  I can feel that as the date of my next half marathon starts to draw closer, I am starting to find little spurts of motivation…pockets of energy sandwiched between the lackadaisical times.  Hopefully, these pockets come more and more often and last longer than not in the coming months.  I agree with the author of the blog in her statement, “Ultimately, I believe PMS is the body asking for time to heal, and when you listen and invest in it, you run away with a renewed spirit to train again.”  I’m finding that renewed spirit, day by day.  In the meantime, I’ll learn from my PMS.

The Journey is the Reward

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Last Saturday night, I slept like crap.  It was already one of those nights I knew would be a hard night to sleep.  Going into my first half marathon had been a trying time, filled with nerves, excitement, and anxiety.  Renting a hotel room within walking distance of the start/finish line was intentional.  I wanted to be able to sleep in a little longer than I would be able to if I stayed at home.  It’s about a 45 minute drive from home, not counting time to find parking and navigate the people to get in place on time, so I was looking forward to a rest-filled evening.  it did not help that some yahoo decided to run through the halls at 2:00 a.m. knocking loudly on every door…twice!  Ugh.  What I had not taken into consideration was the need to turn off the text and notification features of my cell phone.  All the friends and family sending me texts and commenting on my Facebook posts with words of encouragement coming in through the wee hours of the night were appreciated for their intent…next time, though, I think I may turn the phone off and read them in the morning.  🙂

So, after a pretty restless night, I was up at 5:30 a.m., which is WAY early for me anyway.  After some good stretching and a couple cups of coffee, we were off to the race.  A half mile walk to the start line, we remarked on how nice it was…cool but not chilly, and a little warmer than the forecast predicted, it was shaping up to be a great day to run.  We walked the site the day before, and while I knew there were 20,000+ runners registered for the event, I was not prepared to see such a mass of people in one place.  With the band playing and the excitement of the atmosphere, I can see how it would be easy to get wrapped up in the day’s events and lose focus.  As the race was starting at 7:30 with the runners at the front of the line, I was able to focus on my race, remember my preparations and training and get in a zone to set out on a 13.1 mile journey of a lifetime.

At about 8:00, 30 minutes after the initial start for the front corrals, I was off and running.  Having your mom walking alongside me outside the barrier right up to the start line was encouraging.  The first few miles were pretty easy, as I was distracted with the mass of people running with and around me.  Weaving in and out of thousands of runners while making sure not to cut someone else off is not an easy feat, and it served to keep my mind off the pain my body feels when it starts adjusting to running as I first start out.  At mile 2, I looked up in time to see your mom taking this picture of me:

STL Rock & Roll 2 Mile Mark

STL Rock & Roll 2 Mile Mark

Seeing her was the encouragement I needed to keep pushing.  At the 5K mark, my time was 39:48.  With a pace of just over 13:00/mile, I was on target to reach my goal of finishing in under 3 hours, and feeling really good.  The next three miles, I settled into a groove and hit the 10K mark at 01:23:02.  Calculating that I had slowed in that second 3 miles, I tried to pick back up to a 13:00/mile pace and hold it.  As I was in the middle of mile 9, I could see it off in the distance.  It was creeping up on me slowly but surely, and I knew it.  At mile 10, I hit it.

They say there’s a point in long distance running when all runners hit it.  For some, it creeps up sooner than later.  For others, they find it later in their run.  For me, it was at mile 10.  The wall is that mental and physical barrier that jumps up and bites you in the butt.  It hit me like a ton of bricks.  My lower back was hurting, and my hamstrings were killing me.  Even my shoulders and arms were tired, which was a first for me in my running.  I’m not sure if it was a lack of sleep, improper pre-race diet/hydration or something else that brought it on so quickly and with such force, but as I crossed the 10 mile mark, I was right in the middle of it.  I’m sure most of it was psychological, but nonetheless, I lost the battle.  I had to slow down to a walk for about half of mile 10, running every now and then, but never more than about .10 mile at a time for that mile.

In my training, the most I ran was 10 miles.  The experts say that in training, you never really run the entire race distance beforehand.  The theory is that on race day, the adrenaline and excitement of the atmosphere around you will keep you pushing and carry you through that last 3 miles.  Yeah, okay!  As I finished 11 miles, I was receiving texts from your mom and other family, encouraging me to keep pushing.  I got emotional in that 11th mile, and was able to kick it up to a steady jog for the last mile and a half.  I was disappointed in my finish, in that I wasn’t able to find the strength to finish strong.  I crossed the line pretty slowly, not with the rush of emotion and energy I’d hoped for.  I finished with a time of 03:10:02, 10 minutes slower than my 3 hour mark, but still faster than my couch.  The emotion hit me when I saw your mom.  I almost cried like a baby.  Almost.  🙂

In no particular order, some of the lessons I’m taking from this first half marathon:

  1. Turn your phone off the night before the race.  Get in your zone and focus your attention on the task at hand.  If you want some encouragement from friends, read it in the morning after you’ve slept all night to a quiet phone.
  2. Eat more than a bagel with peanut butter for breakfast when running 13.1 miles or more.  I should’ve eaten the banana too.  I had a huge carb-filled meal the night before, but that was at 6:00 p.m.  The only other food I ate was the bagel in the morning about an hour before the start.  I fought hunger from early on.  In mile 5 or so, I could start feeling the energy drop as my sugar level dropped.  Take a sports drink with you instead of water.  They’ll have water on the course, and while some races have energy drinks, you need more than water.  Take it with you.  Also, take a snack for the post-race.  I was relying on what food would be provided.  An apple and a few orange slices were not enough to carry me through the next 2 hours until we got to lunch.  As we got to the restaurant, I had a sugar crash and almost puked.  I didn’t, but came close.  Treat yourself to a nice meal afterward…feed your crave, whatever it is.  Mine was a gourmet burger and fries.  Best burger I’ve ever eaten.
  3. I need to strengthen my core and major muscle groups.  My hamstrings tightened up pretty quickly, and my back was killing me.  Strengthening the abs and back will help hold my frame up better, which will lengthen my endurance and tolerance for pain as my running posture holds up where it should be.  My knees held up pretty good, so the stretches I’m doing are working.
  4. My running stance sucks.  As the full marathon runners were passing me in the last couple miles, I would notice their posture.  Their shoulders were pulled back while their chest was pushed forward, almost exaggerated in appearance.  But their stride had bounce and energy.  I’d try to mimic it, but my lower back was already hurting so badly from my poor posture that I couldn’t hold it for very long.
  5. Along those lines, the extra weight of the cotton shirt when it gets sweat-soaked is weighing me down.  I need to either learn to eat better and lose more weight or get over my self-consciousness about how I look in the tight-fitting, moisture-wicking shirts.  They’re designed to be worn by people with fewer curves than me, and having my fat jiggle as I run is not something I’m prepared to put on display to the world.  Haha.
  6. Until I can fit in the moisture-wicking shirts, I need to apply more Vasoline to my nipples.  The sweat-soaked shirt runs the Vasoline off within the 13.1 miles.  They weren’t bleeding, but they were close.  In the shower afterward, I could tell they would have been bleeding within another 20 minutes of running.  The extra set of dry clothes in my gear bag to change in to after the race was a good call.
  7. There’s no shame in stopping to stretch for a minute when you hit the wall.  I could have used it, and I should have done it.  Looking back, I think it would have helped.
  8. Take some single-use ice packs with towels and tape with you in your gear bag.  I would have loved to have ice on my knees and ankles for the ride home.
  9. Spend the money for a good post-race massage, within a couple days.  I did, and I won’t do another long distance race without one afterward.  It works out the soreness and speeds the recovery process.
  10. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment.  With the excitement of the event and adrenaline pumping, the atmosphere can quickly envelope you into losing focus.  You have to run your race.  Do what you’ve trained for and what you know is right.  In life, it’s not much different.  The world around us demands our attention, distracts us from our race, and competes for our time and attention.  It can be easy to get caught up in it and lose sight of the end game…the prize waiting for us at the end of our life when God calls us home.

Mostly, I was reminded that God has a plan for my life.  I don’t know the full extent of His plan, or how He intends to bring all the pieces of the puzzle together, but it’s there nonetheless.  I’m moving forward in my running journey and already looking at four long distance races for next year.  Two are local, and two are within a day’s drive.  While this race did not end with the euphoric high I was expecting or the strong finish I’d hoped for, I’m happy with my effort and the result.  I set out with one goal…to complete a half marathon.  I did that.  Not in the time, i was shooting for, but within a respectable time for my overall physical condition, running history and level of training.    I can say with certainty that completing this race has been the single most rewarding personal accomplishment of my life.  Not to be confused with experiences like the birth of my children or marrying your mother…those are things I either experienced or accomplished with someone else’s effort.  Running is a solo effort.  While the encouragement and support of friends and family definitely helped me find the motivation and resolve to get through the tough times, when you find yourself in the back stretch of a 13.1 mile run, hitting a wall like no other…it’s all you and God at that point.  You either have to find the resolve from within or from above, but no one can do it for you.  There will be days I don’t know if I can do a Half Marathon.  There will be a lifetime knowing I have.  The reward was not waiting for me at the finish line.  The journey is the reward.

Love,

Dad

The Earth is my Treadmill

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The day before my first half marathon, and my nerves were really setting in last night and this morning. More excitement than anything I think. I drove the course this morning, plotting out water stations and scoping out the elevation. I gotta say it’s a beautiful course…starts on Market Street with an amazing view of the Arch, passes by Busch Stadium and the old courthouse building, City Museum, the Fox Theatre and the campus of SLU before heading south past the Botanical Garden and through Tower Grove Park, circling Lafayette Park and finishing back near the start line with another great view of the Arch in the background…not to mention all the beautiful neighborhoods with gorgeous architecture! The elevation is pretty level, with at least one awesome stretch of moderate downhill for about a half mile near mile six. All uphill runs are short, a block or two at most. The pavement is uneven…potholes and sewer covers abound. For the last six miles of the course, I had two cars following me, doing the same thing. Haha.

Afterward, I went through the expo, registered and picked up my bib, swag bag and freebies. Got checked into the hotel, ate a sub sandwich for lunch, picked your mom up from work and finished up some last minute errands before settling into the room for a few hours for some stretching and a short nap. We walked up Market Street to scope out the start/finish area for your mom, and one carb-filled meal and a snack later, I’m laying down for the night, what I pray is a restful night.

God has eased my anxiety, removed the nervousness and replaced it with a confidence in knowing I’ve done all I can to prepare. All my pre-race preparations are done. I’m physically prepared. I’m mentally ready. Over 160 miles ran in 4 months. Running in the heat. Running in the humidity. Running in the rain. Running in the cold. Running in the cold rain. Waking up to run in the wee hours of the morning before the birds are even awake. Staying up to run late at night. Running through the pain. Repeatedly pushing my body past the point of exhaustion and failure. Countless hours of training my mind to accept a new comfort zone. And baby, it all comes down to this!!! One race and only 13.1 miles stand between me and the finish line. “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Donald Walsch

No matter where I place or how well I do, I’m already a winner. I’m walking alongside Christ in this life, secure in my eternal destination. “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”Phil 3:12-14.

I am not yet the man God has called me to be…but I try every day to be him. With each day, I struggle to let more of me out and let more of Christ in. That is big part of what motivates me to keep running…with each pounding of my foot against the pavement, I envision my weakness and imperfections leaving my body and Christ’s love and strength replacing them. When I’ve fulfilled God’s purpose for my life here on Earth, He will call me home and I pray, reward me with seven words…”Well done my good and faithful servant.” Until then, “The Earth Is My Treadmill.”

Love,

Dad

Stop the Insanity

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Today is a long run day. Nine days until my first half marathon, so it’s my last long run before then. Ten miles today. I REALLY wish I was a morning person. I need to be asking God to turn me into one, because what lies ahead of me is not able to be accomplished at the status quo. When I said on my entry for Oct. 4th in this month’s RUN JOURNAL that maybe I set the bar too high, this is what I’m talking about. To run 10 miles will take me about 2 1/2 hours, not really adding a time to warmup and cool down and shower afterward. Three hours…not an every day commitment, but an average day ends up being about two hours of working out. Two hours a day for a dad with three young children, a full time job and a full time ministry is not easily attainable. The bar I set too high is not my commitment to a better level of fitness and overall health. The bar I set too high was the time frame in which I hoped to accomplish it. While I am physically prepared to run and complete a half marathon within the time I set out to prepare for it, I am not prepared for the aftermath. What lies ahead after next weekend is a lifetime goal and a desire to continue getting healthy and to stay there. It is intermingled with a desire to be present in the lives of those most important to me, my family. It’s in the intertwining of those two desires that the difficulty lies in reaching my goal.

Unless God miraculously makes me a morning person, I don’t know how to continue on at the status quo. Something needs to change, because I don’t currently have time to be spending two hours running every day…nor do I have the desire really. What I want is the ability and passion to wake up every morning with enough energy to go out and run before my kids even wake up…to have the rest of the day to play with you and accomplish all I need and want to do, without the day’s run looming over my shoulders like an unattainable deadline.

Today specifically, I’m struggling with a severe shortage of patience, compassion and kindness toward you. That looming run on the horizon has me somewhere else mentally, not here with you. I’m finding it difficult to engage with you in the way you so richly deserve and are so eagerly yearning for from me. I don’t like this part of me. I want to be the dad that wants to be here with you 24/7, playing and doing the things you love. I want to be the dad that can bring himself down to your level anytime, anywhere just to be with you. I want that so much, it burns the at the very essence of my soul when I have a day like today…when my selfishness is at the forefront, and all I want to do is what I want to do…to run. It is painful on so many levels to know that God did not bless me with the gift of the ability to spend days at a time with you, without going temporarily insane.

It’s hard to admit that about me, because I don’t like to show weakness. The last thing I want to do is leave you with the impression I don’t love you. Nothing is further from the truth!!! I love you with every fiber of my being, so I will continue to ask God to fill me with the Spirit’s fruits and to lead me and teach me how to be the father you need and crave. I will continue to pray that my weakness in this area of my life is not passed on to you, and that you will forgive me this weakness as you grow.

I’ve heard the saying before that “insanity” is defined as doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. Basically, if I want different results, I’ve gotta change my approach. Aristotle said what is one of favorite quotes, used in My Sept. Run Journal “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” Something I must repeatedly do…create a habit to achieve excellence…both as a father and as a runner. The real-life application of that truth requires I step up my game…requires I change something if I want different results. That means with God’s help, forcing myself to become a morning person…to get out of bed at 5:00 in the morning to run before you wake up…so that my focus for the day can be where it needs to be…on you.

Love,

Dad

My Run Journal – Oct. 2011

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“It does not matter how many times you get knocked down, but how many times you get up.”
Vince Lombardi

This particular post is meant to be read from bottom to top if you want to follow it chronologically. If you’ve found this post and want to go back to the beginning of my running journey, start here.

Click here to see my September Run Journal

10/28
Five days after the race, my first Half Marathon, I need to run…to maintain the foundation I’ve built. Two miles on the treadmill in 23:45, a pretty strong pace for me. I followed it with 5 minutes of jogging in the parking lot at work, just to remind my body that I can run in the cold. I feel good. I think I need to work in the coming weeks to increase my speed over the shorter distances, 2 miles and less…and then take that new faster pace and start adding distance to it. Yesterday and today, I’ve been researching and praying about my running future. There are four long distance races I want to do next year, culminating into my first full marathon at the 2nd annual Rock & Roll in October. I’m learning that the reward is not at the finish line, it’s in the journey. It’s gonna be a great journey!

10/20
Week 17 Day 4. Another easy run before the race, 2 miles in the early pre-dawn hours of morning. Still not a morning person, but I really want to run once or twice in the cold before race day. It’s in the upper 30’s this morning, and this was a difficult two miles. For starters, I dressed for the cold…shorts covered with long, swish pants and a sweatshirt over a t-shirt. I did the 2 miles in 37:30…not a great pace. I was winded nearly the whole time. There was a brisk wind, and my hands were frozen by the end. I honestly never imagined I could be overheated and freezing cold at the same time, but it is possible. I was wheezing when I finished, cold in the extremities and sweating from the core. I am not adequately equipped with what I need to run in the cold, and it will be difficult on race day. My racing bib has to be visible the whole race, so it’s not like layering my attire will be easy. When I ran in the cold rain two days ago, I wore a light rain jacket and shed it halfway through when I warned up. I was able to wrap it around my waist for the rest of the run. That won’t be easily accomplished with a racing bib. This is gonna be interesting, to say the least.


10/18

Week 17 Day 2. It’s “taper week”, in that I’m backing off the intensity and duration of the week’s running and doing easier, short runs to maintain what I’ve built up while giving my body a little time to recover and prepare for the 13.1 miles I’m going to force it to do in five days. It’s cold today…in the low 40’s and rainy. I don’t like running in the cold…would rather run in the heat and humidity. At least that was the old me. After 3miles, I’m realizing I’m not who I was when I first started this journey. Today’s run was good…41:06 for 3 miles. Not my best pace, but not my intention. What surprised me was how well I did in the cold. I was afraid I wouldn’t perform well, because in the past when I tried jogging in the cold, I’d struggle with the cold air down deep in my lungs. It was painful and hurt to breath as that cold air hit the lower parts of my lungs. Not today. Only thing I can figure is seven months of running has improved the ability of my lungs to perform under stress, including running in cold weather.


10/14

Week 16 Day 5. Long run day…10 miles. Nine days until the half marathon, so it’s my last long run beforehand. I intended to run first thing this morning, but it didn’t happen. It’s an afternoon run in what feels like a 20 mph wind. A headwind for about half of the course. At about the halfway point, I stopped at the house long enough to refill my water bottle and guzzle down a bottle of Cytomax, a power drink they’re using on the course next weekend. I’ve never had it before, so I want to test it out beforehand, make sure it agrees with my system. Also tried GU energy gel too, since it’s available at the race too. Did fine with both, and the run was good. Ten miles in 02:25:20, which included the two minute refueling stop halfway through. Burned 2805 cal with an average heart rate of 164 bpm and a peak heart rate of 187.

The first 8 miles were not extremely difficult, keeping a steady pace and pushing though the discomfort. It never hurt until about the last 3 miles, and it was my left hamstring more than anything. I started bonking in the last mile and really struggled in the last .5 mile. Just about the point I thought I was gonna bonk, my gps hit 10 miles about a quarter mile before I thought it would…and poof! I was done. I am as physically prepared as I can be at this point…next week is a “taper” week, easier runs and more rest to allow my body to recover as I come into race day for peak performance.


10/10

Week 17 Day 1. A 5 mile day, I hit the treadmill for what was a difficult run. It should be, though, as I push myself harder, longer and faster. That’s the point…to push the limits of what I imagine possible. I ran the first two miles at about a 6.0 or 5.5 pace, and then I did one minute intervals at paces up to 7.5…walking or jogging for the cool down minute, depending on my heart rate. My shins were the weakest link today…cardiovascular-wise, I pushed it hard enough to be short of breath with a heart rate averaging 160, maxing out at 177. I did the 5 miles in 01:04:44, burning over 1100 calories. That’s including a 2:30 break at the half mile mark due to equipment failure. That’s a 13:00/mile pace…not too shabby, and a personal best…to hold that pace over that distance.


10/8

Week 16 Day 6. Long run day. With two weeks to go to the race, I’m about three weeks behind schedule in my training…not where I want to be, but I’m not losing ground, so I’m content. Today, I set out for 9 miles. The route was such that I’d be running back by the house at just over the halfway point, so I had a replacement water and a fuel gel pack waiting for me. The first two miles were pretty smooth, and through miles 3 and 4, the knee pain started creeping in. In mile 4, I was focused almost solely on putting random thoughts into order in my head for a short inspirational quote of my own, and I found that it was my easiest mile. Seems I perform a little better (at least mentally) when channeling my thoughts and not focusing on my body and the race. Gonna have to remember that in the future, since not all race events allow the use of an iPod.

What’s really ironic is that my little inspirational thought had to do with finding the strength to persevere through trial. “Resolve breeds perseverance. Perseverance, strength. True strength comes when the body is pushed beyond the limits of what the mind imagines possible. This is precisely why true strength comes not from within, but from above.” God is funny, because shortly after He put that in my head, my iPod shot craps…stopped working. Ugh. I had to run just over a mile with just me and my pain…and God. While it was indeed a slower pace, and I was focused almost solely on my pain, it was nice to be alone with God…and it was in that test, and the last 4 miles, that I confirmed the truth of it. Those last 4 miles were by far the hardest of my running career to date, and in my mind, I didn’t think it possible so soon in my running life. I did the entire 9 miles in 02:12:16, burning over 2000 calories. It’s 7:30 at night as I write this…about 12 hours afterward. I am so drained of energy, I can barely keep my eyes open…and every joint from my mid back down to my toes aches like never before. My knees are on fire, even after using an icepack most of the day. Moving is a well thought out process, so as to not move more than necessary. Haha. I need to start taking ibuprofen before and after these long runs.


10/7

Week 16 Day 5. Today is a 60 minute cross-training day. Walked with mama and the boys, and did 3.1 miles up to the store and back. Did our shopping for dinner supplies while we were there. It was a nice walk in just over an hour, not including 30 minutes of shopping time. Mostly, I enjoyed the company. We need to do that more often.


10/4
Week 16 Day 2. As you can tell, yesterday was a bad day. Today was a little better. I’ve learned over the last several months that distance running is about 90% mental strength and tenacity. If you lose the mental battle, the odds are against you even more than before. Within the last few weeks, I’ve lost my mental edge…the sharpness that is required to keep pushing through the pain. Yesterday was more of a mental defeat than a physical one. As much as I hate running, I enjoy getting fit and healthy. I enjoy the challenge of doing what looks impossible…what others have told me I cannot do. I’m currently losing ground in the mental battle, but I’m making a stand. I hope to hold steady and at least not continue losing ground. If I can do that, then I can eventually get a good foothold…firm enough from which to mount an offensive and push forward again. For now, I’m going defensive and protecting in place…I will hunker down and do what needs to be done to not lose ground. Fortunately, God has blessed me with a wonderful network of friends and family from which to draw support and encouragement. It’s in times like this that I need them the most, and I’m thankful God has placed them in my life. It’s my prayer, as with all of these notes, that you draw from my experiences to succeed in your own. Learn from my weakness and setbacks and do better.

Anyway, I ran 3 miles today. Did it in 35 minutes flat, which is a 11:40 pace average. I did the first mile in just under 11;00, the first 3/4 mile at a 6.0 pace. This was my fastest overall pace for 3 miles to date, and although I would have liked to run further, I’m happy to hold ground not lose what progress I’ve made. I added the quote at the top today…after posting yesterday’s update. Tomorrow, I will face when it comes. With the help of friends and family, I will get back up from this setback and tackle this mental loss one day at a time.

10/3
Week 16 Day 1. Three weeks till the marathon. I’m not ready. I ran 2.3 miles tonight, and I’m mentally done. I hate running. Hate it. I don’t want to run anymore. Ever. My knee hurts with every step it pounds into the ground. It’s not the same pain as before. It’s moved onto the lower part of my kneecap, and it sucks. It’s hurting so much that I’ve noticed I’m changing my stance to handicap it. That stinks, because it’s asking for trouble in the form of a serious injury. Less than three weeks until the race, and I can’t go more than 3 miles. I honestly don’t know what I was thinking. I set the bar too high. Fat men can’t run.

Total miles logged in October = 52.5. And that’s October 2011. To continue this journey with me, check out my January 2012 Run Journal.

Love

Dad

My Run Journal – Sept. 2011

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“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit.”
Aristotle

This particular post is meant to be read from bottom to top if you want to follow it chronologically. If you’ve found this post and want to go back to the beginning of my running journey, start here.


Go here to see My Run Journal – August 2011


9/30

Week 15 Day 5. My first run in almost two weeks. I did 2.5 miles in 35:57 today. Cardiovascular-wise I could have kept going my intended 4+ miles. My knee started bothering me though, so I called it before hurting it worse. I really just wanted to do a light run anyway, to ease back into the schedule without injuring the knee. Mission accomplished. My phone is jacked up…won’t play my iPod through headphones now, so I had to do it solo…no inspiration in my ears. That’s harder than I thought it’d be. I used my new heart rate monitor for the first time, and I like it. It helped keep me in a moderate effort zone easier than I have to do myself. Nine hours after the run, my knee is not too bad.


9/26
Week 15 Day 1. I’m getting worried. I didn’t run at all last week, because I spent the week in Indiana at a swiftwater rescue technician class. I took my gear to run if I had time, and I did. I didn’t have the energy though. Spending 8-10 hours each day Monday through Thursday on the river, taking a beating and putting my body through torture was enough. I was so sore on Wednesday morning, getting out of bed was a task. After not running for a week, I’m looking forward to getting back on schedule and preparing for this race. Today is a 5 mile run. What I’m worried about, though, is this…I hurt my knee yesterday while filming an Upward promo video. I don’t know what I did or how I did it, but my left knee feels like it’s bruised…right on the knee cap. It hurts to walk, and my limp is evident there is something wrong. All my other knee pain in the past has been right above the knee cap, and I’ve not had any real problems with that pain in a week or so. This new pain has me worried for two reasons…it’s a new pain, unusual to anything I’ve ever felt and doesn’t go away with stretches like the past pain…and it hurts so bad to even walk that the thought of running is out of the question. The last thing I need is to keep running and blow it out completely. However, I’m already off schedule in my training that if I take much more time off, I won’t be ready for this race on October 23. I know God works all things out for His plan and His glory, so I’m trying not to get bummed about this. I know it’s only a temporary setback in my overall fitness plan of running for the rest of my life, and I’m praying it’s a temporary setback for this race goal…that I can get it healed and get back on the road.

9/18
Week 13 Day 7. Today is the Cardinals Care 6K Run Home for Kids. A chilly morning in the low 60’s with rain on the horizon. My last two races were in the rain…I’m getting used to this. At the start line, the rain backed off to a drizzle and held throughout most of the race. Not too often I get to participate in a race where Jackie Joyner-Kercie gives the start command. Pretty cool. I held a steady pace throughout the first two miles, and on the last 1.74 mile return trip to Busch Stadium, I picked it up, trying not to let anyone pass me. Two people did, although I passed over two dozen. I was winded and hurting, but knew I could make it, seeing Busch Stadium in the distance all the way back. In the last block leading up to the stadium, I picked it up even more, and as I ran through the tunnels under the stadium and onto the field, I was at near sprint. Pretty amazing experience to be able to run through the tunnels and onto the field, to hear my name called on the stadium PA as I crossed the finish line. The rain was really coming down in that last two minutes. I finished the 3.74 miles in 44:22, an average 11:45/mile pace! My fastest yet. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – Phil 4:13 I can’t wait to start experiencing these races with y’all. I think you’d enjoy doing this. I know I’d love to do it with you at my side, instead of alone. Next race is the half marathon in 5 weeks.

9/14
Week 13 Day 3. I traded this weekend’s long run day for today…7 miles today. I started this run early, even though I’m not an early morning person. Most races are morning races, so I need to be able to adjust to running early…6:15 this morning…still dark…and raining, with temps in the 60’s. I was cold as soon as I got wet, within the first quarter mile. I jogged this entire route, stopping only long enough at the gas station 3 miles in to buy a gel pack for fuel. It rained the entire time, which actually served to keep me cool…but it also kept my leg muscles from warming up and loosening like I’m used to…they were tight the entire run. This run took me 01:49:29. When I look at that number…almost two hours of running non-stop, I’m in denial still. It’s just over half of the race I’m training for…I just ran a fourth of a marathon. I burned over 1600 calories before 8:30 a.m…more than most people burn in a day. The pace was slower than I’d hoped for, over 15:00/mile. Not the pace I want, but I ran 7 miles! I’ll take the pace…and get better.

9/12
Week 13 Day 1. At 10:45 p.m., I still hadn’t run today, and knowing I need to keep at it, I set off on a 4 mile run in the dark. Difficult run in the dark, but I took a flashlight to help light the road in front of me…no time for stepping in a crack and twisting an ankle. This was a great run…51:40, just under a 13:00/mile pace. I found my comfortable “push pace” and kept it throughout. I need more of these runs.

9/10
Week 12 Day 6. Normally a long run day…7 miles, but today is the Fight Like a Firefighter 5K in Wentzville. It rained all morning and all through the race, very chilly. Which is fine by me…I’d rather be cold and wet than hot, humid and sticky. Ran this race in 36:36 which is 2:58 faster than when I ran this course on June 25, and just under a minute faster than my last 5K on July 4 at 37:30. I’m ecstatic about that! I started out very strong, in the middle to the front of the pack for about the first half mile or so. Much faster than my normal pace, I pushed it through some chest pain and shortness of breath for an extra few minutes before slowing back. I would pick it up every time someone passed me, trying to keep their pace for as long as I could. I know I had a pretty slow pace in the back stretch as I worked past the chest pain. It never reached a critical point, just took 5 minutes or so at a slow jog to get past it before I could resume my normal race pace. Gotta push through the pain if I ever want to get past this plateau in my training. No one new passed me in the last mile…just a few that had been leap frogging me for awhile, and I stayed ahead of them in the end. Overall, I feel very positive about this run because of that…pushing past my comfort pace for longer than I ever have, and improving my time…small improvement, but an improvement nonetheless. It’s a great day the Lord has made..great day for a run! He is my Sustainer.

As I came into the last .25 mile, with the finish line in sight, I picked it up to about a 10:00/min/mile pace and held that throughout the last .25 mile, sprinting the last few hundred yards or so. Your mom brought you all out to watch me, and I thought I heard SD yelling as I passed…turns out it was mom. While I didn’t see y’all, just knowing you were there to cheer me on was awesome! I love y’all so much, and it’s encouraging and uplifting to see you in my corner. Here’s the post-race picture with you. I hope I do you proud.

9/9
Week 12 Day 5. I haven’t run for a few days. My work schedule this week had me pulling some 12 hour shifts at dispatch, and it ain’t easy to find motivation to run after a 12 hour dispatch shift. It didn’t help that my knees are killing me. They’re getting worse after each run…taking longer to recover…it’s definitely time to get them checked out, because if things keeps going like this, I’m not gonna make the half marathon. Today, I did 3 miles on the treadmill…interval work. For the first mile, I ran two minutes at a 6.0 (10/min/mile), then jogged at a 4.5 or 5.0 speed 4 minutes for two intervals. From there forward, I did 1 minute at the 6.0 speed, and 2 minutes at either the jogging speed or a walk, depending on how I was feeling. I think I only walked two or three times, and still only did so for no more than a minute before picking back up to a 4.5 or 5.0 speed. Did the first mile in 11:07, which is smoking for me! Finished the 3 miles in 35:30 and was winded…felt really good.

On another note, I got the results of my department health/fitness test back today. I already knew a lot of what I’d be seeing, but I picked up some additional stats and information to help gauge my progression through this journey. I’m meeting with the owner of the company next week to redo my custom-tailored diet and fitness plan around my current training plan for the half in October. He’s also going to hook me up with a sports physical therapist to figure out what’s going on with my knees and find a plan to get that issue fixed. Woo hoo!

Tomorrow is another 5K race, same course as the Run for the Ridge I did back on June 25. I did that one in 39:34, which was 3:30 faster than my first one a month earlier. On July 4, I did a 5K in 37:30, so I’m really looking to beat both these times. Your mom is bringing the three of you out to cheer me on, so I know that’ll provide me an extra boost! She sent me a text tonight that reads:

I asked if they wanted to watch you run a race tomorrow. NE says, “That will be AWESOME!”

Wish I could’ve been there to hear that. 🙂

9/5
Week 12 Day 1. Yesterday was rest day. At work again today, and 4.5 miles await me. Circling the block around the fire station, I got 3.7 miles done before getting dispatched on a house fire. Pretty pathetic run at 01:01:57. Got no excuses for this one…it just sucked.

9/3

Week 11 Day 6. Long run day. Six miles. It’s a work day, and I’d planned to get up at 4:30 to run before work, because I really don’t like running long distance at work…and I don’t prefer to run on the treadmill. Running almost always leaves me wiped, and the long runs are energy zappers. Anyway, you know me…I’m not a morning person, so when the alarm went off at 4:30 this morning, after laying in bed trying to fall asleep until 12:30, I hit reset and fell back asleep. At work, we spent two hours in the heat testing fire hose, and when we got back I wanted to get it over with while I was still hot and sweaty. I told myself if I ran at least 3 miles, I’d be happy. At the 3 mile mark, I was right at 40:07 and feeling decent, a 13:35/mile pace. I wanted to finish the 5K distance, so I did and then walked for a minute. My left knee had been hurting since about the 1 mile mark, and I was mentally ready to call it done. As I walked that minute, though, I psyched myself up for one more mile, convincing myself to at least do 4 miles. I finished that 4th mile and as I was taking a walking break, I was vividly aware of the pain in both knees, my hamstrings and my back. But I reasoned that if I knocked out one more mile to hit 5 miles total, I could rest easy knowing I could take tomorrow off…with just one more mile.

To be honest, I should have stopped there…or at least at the 4.6 mile mark. At 4.6 miles, the treadmill timed out at the one hour per session maximum, so I had to reset it and start again to finish. The pain in my knee was at least not unbearable anymore…because I could barely hold myself upright. By the time I reset the treadmill, I reasoned I only had 1.4 miles to go. If I could just push through the pain for 1.4 more miles, I’d have the rest of the day and all day tomorrow to rest, knowing I’d pushed myself past my comfort zone. For that last 1.4 miles, I could only run for .10 miles, having to walk for .15 for every .10 mile. After each running segment, I had to hold onto the treadmill to keep myself upright…my back is still sore. That last mile was the hardest mile I’ve ever run…mentally and physically. I was short of breath the entire time and really struggled to get through it. I definitely went past my comfort zone in that last mile. It wasn’t a pretty mile, but I finished 6 total miles in 01:30:40, just over a 15:00/mile pace overall. As I write this, I’m sitting with an ice pack on both knees and wishing I was in an ice bath. My legs are screaming “I hate you!” On a side note, a coworker showed me some exercises to do on a foam roller with my quadriceps and knees. It’s excruciatingly painful, but it stretches the quad muscles and the adjoining ligaments and tendons, expanding and strengthening them so that the knee pain will eventually improve…maybe even go away.

9/1
Week 11 Day 4. Ran 4.5 miles tonight about a half hour after dinner. The temp was probably still close to 100*, and this run kicked my butt. I did the first half without stopping, then stopped to buy a power drink at the halfway point, and on the return trip, I had to stop and walk about a dozen times for 50-100′ at a time, always trying to run twice as far before and after each walking break. The first mile took me 11:47, which is awesome. My fastest mile yet. Total time for the 4.5 miles was 01:07:02, which averages out to a 15:00/mile pace overall. Part of my issue on the return trip was not only the heat, but an upset stomach. I was not adequately prepared for this run. I was slightly dehydrated, and I ate a heavy meal about 30 minutes beforehand. The power drink at the halfway point only served to exacerbate the problem. At least I didn’t puke, though I felt like I would at any time. Overall, I’d be happier with tonight’s run if I could have done more without walking. Stupid heat.

Total miles logged in September = 38.7. And that’s September 2011. To continue this journey with me, check out my October Run Journal.

Love,

Dad

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