Monday, October 31, 2005

Using failure to create success

A few weeks back I ran a marathon in Columbus, OH. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't good. 3 hours 27 minutes. I was shooting for Qualifying for the Boston Marathon: 3 hours 10 minutes. So... I failed. (can you actually fail so long as you actually finish a marathon? seriously?) Leading up to the marathon I had been using a newly developed training program that limits your runs to 3 times a week. A series of sprints one day, a mid distance (5-10M), and a long run (15-20M) and on the off days you are to cross train: cycling, Tae-Bo, swimming, etc. The training went well but I failed to do the cross training. It was just too tedious and cumbersome to do. It's easy to throw on shoes and run several miles. Traveling to the 'gym' working out for 90 minutes, showering and traveling back would take hours, however, running 4-6 miles takes less than 45 minutes. When it was time to run the marathon, I was concerned because I hadn't been able to train right because I had my wisdom teeth removed 2 weeks prior. My traing was thrown off and I wasn't able to run for a week when that happened. Once the marathon was underway I felt great up until mile 15 and then I just ran out of gas. I slowed my pace down by about a minute per mile. I attributed it mostly to the fact that I hadn't logged the miles that I normally run. By only running 3 days a week I had in turn short changed myself the necessary conditioning that runners need: miles. So, right in the midst of the toughest part of the marathon, Mile 18, I vowed to retrain and run another as soon as I could. That has lead me to the present. The last 3 Sundays I have run a total of 65 miles. 26, 19, and 20. I've been running 45, 50, and 55 miles these past 3 weeks and I'm running approx 6 miles a day w/ 1 day off for my body to rest. I'm also reading a book called "This Running Life" by Dr George Sheehan. (no relation to the infamous "Rushville Sheehans" that I know of) Thus far the book has described the makeup of distance runners and how they are sometimes different from other athletes. It listed some of their (what Dr Sheehan refers to as Cerebrotonia-ectomorphy) attributes: detached, tense, anxious, considerate, love of privacy, introvert, self-centered, reflective, reserved, cool, suspicious, precise, needs solitude when disturbed, watches things happen. As I read over this list I considered myself and other distance runners I know and whereas I hate to stereotype I have to admit these characteristics do relatively accurately describe some of the distance runners I know: Tom Simpson, Steve Gosnell. Strange for me to think of distance runners having to fit a personality type, but maybe it's the personality type that attracts those people to distance running? It's tough, I'll admit to pushing yourself to run 20 miles or so. It takes a certain degree of insanity and forgetfullness. You have to forget that you've already run 6 miles and you have 14 to go. You just run 1 mile at a time at a nice, steady, even pace and you don't just go out and run 20. It takes weeks, months, and years to build up to it. I think it's partially a mental thing. Knowing that I've already run 20 miles before, I know I can and that it won't kill me. I end up distracting myself while I'm running as well as decieving myself that I am not running as far as I am. I'll tell myself that I'm only running only 10 and then only 15 then 18 then all of a sudden I'm at 20. I listen to music part of the time but in the final 10 miles or so I ditch the music and focus on my pace. It's tough. It's really, really, really difficult. Your legs are aching and feel like falling off. It took me almost 2.5 hours to run 20 miles today. 2 and a half hours of running, non-stop. Have we pushed physical fitness into something of a self-torture? Maybe. I don't call it marathoning. I call it enduring and that get's me through...

Friday, October 28, 2005


I agreed to sell the house. It was a relatively fast process. The guy buying it wants to rent it out. He made an offer, I countered, we went back and forth for a while and then I agreed to his price. It was a bit less than what I was wanting to get but I'm glad to be out of it. We will close on it and I will be out by November 21st. Word to the wise: it's difficult to sell a 2 bedroom house. I showed this house 20 times before gettting a single offer. Now that it is sold I have to get my stuff together and get the heck out of dodge. I've decided that I'm selling EVERYTHING. Couches, microwave, bed, dresser, lamps, TVs, you name it, i'm selling it. I plan on taking pictures of the main stuff and sending an emial to friends of a link containing an email of all my stuff which i'm selling CHEAP just to get rid of it. It all has to go by the time I close on the house. That weekend, however, I'm running a marathon in Philly, so this is all going to happen fast. I'll probably have a dreaded moving sale sometime in the next couple of weekends... blah! A necessary evil I guess.

Monday, October 17, 2005

3:27:21 Getting Closer

Columbus Marathon yesterday. (look carefully as I was sporting a serious fu-man-chu) It was a fabulous day for a marathon. A cool morning but warming up to the lower 70s by the afternoon. Near perfect racing conditions. Physically it was the best I've felt running a marathon. I started off close to what I wanted. About 15 seconds behind the pace I wanted to finish at. It's difficult to do that because at the start of the run you are so hyped up and you know you have so far to go that you automatically bolt out for those first 3 miles or so. I've run the first few miles of a race 45 seconds FASTER than I had anticipated without even knowing. "You can't win a race in the first few miles, but you can lose a race." The first 14 miles I was on pace to quailfy for the Boston Marathon which is still my ultimate goal and one I will accomplish before it's all said and done. To do that you must run a 3:10 marathon and average 7:15 per mile. At mile 15 I could feel that I wasn't going to qualify. My body just hadn't been conditioned properly and I didn't have the energy to keep that quick of a pace, so I dropped down into my training stride which is significantly slower just to enjoy the run and the race. If that would have happened at mile 20 or so I think I could have gutted it out, but not at 15. I picked up the pace again at mile 22 and finished strong. So, I'm proud of the first 14 and of the last 4, now if I can just work on those middle few. What effected the slowdown: old running shoes. I'm running on shoes I ran in last year because I just couldn't free up the $$ for new ones, so I'm going today to buy some new shoes and put them on a credit card which I'm proud to say I haven't used in almost a year. #2 Training. I didn't run at all 2 weeks ago for about 8 days because I got my wisdom teeth out and I think that had a drastic effect on my running. #3 run more miles. I tried a new technique for this race where you run only 3 days a week, but I didn't really do much cross training which is required. When I ran the Chicago I was running at least 5 miles a day. #4 find a training group. Run with people. This would result in being accountable for miles and just to have a group to run with would be more enjoyable. So... I made up my mind at about mile 18 yesterday that I would try to find another marathon to do this year with the above changes made. So on November 20th I'll be running the Philladelphia Marathon in hopes to Qualify for Boston. We'll see...

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

It's Marathon Time

So I'm totally cleared for the Peace Corps. Everything I can do is done and it's an unbelievably relieving feeling. All that's left is to recieve the "Offical Invitation" which will arrive in a manilla envelope in the next 1-4 weeks. Needless to say I can't wait to get home and check my mail EVERY SINGLE DAY. The one stipulation is that i MUST sell my house before I can accept the invitation. I was mistaken as to when I can leave. I originally thought that if I didn't leave in early November then I wouldn't leave until May or June. After talking to my recruiter I found out that those other dates were programs she could nominate me for at the time, but it's quite possible that a program has or will becomve available that will enable me to leave in December or January for a variety of reasons, for example if someone backs out or cannot leave at a certain time. On another, more painful note. I'll be running the Columbus Marathon this Sunday. 26.2 miles of hell. I'm still trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon which would require running a 3hr 10min race which is a 7:15 per mile pace. The closest I've come is in Chicago where I ran 3:18. One amazing thing about Columbus is that last year 20% of all runners qualified for the Boston Marathon!!! 1 out of every 5!! It's known for being a very flat, fast course, but come on! 1 out of every 5!!!??? I was able to talk my nephew Morgan into going w/ me. ("Hey, it will be fun!! You can stand on the sidelines for over 3 hours and play 'Where's Waldo' while looking for me. How could you spend a better Sunday??") Morgan recently ran a 5K w/ me at the Indy Irish Festival and did very very well finishing at 22 minutes and 2nd in his age group. He currently is playing JV soccer for Pike High School and all the girls think he's 'fine'... must take after his uncle...