Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Running stuff...

Wow, a ton of stuff has happened in the last few weeks since I posted at the end of July.

I ran my 8:00 mile.  It was on a treadmill, it was indoors, but it was 7:51.  I'll take it because I could have run it faster.  In fact, just to prove it I may run a sub-8 mile out here at the park some time in the next few weeks.
The under 2:00 half marathon I was looking at for mid September is likely going to become just another training run because as of right now I'm less concerned with speed and more concerned with distance.  Why?  Well, that's because...

I just received notice that I was selected in the lottery for the Houston Marathon in January.  The goal for January is pretty much 40 miles, because I want the marathon distance to be well below my max extreme.  If it's below my max extreme, then running multiple marathons in the same month isn't going to be quite so hard to do.  In fact, 26.2 will be a proverbial walk in the park.  Target time:  3:59:59.99

That said, my 3 mile runs have become 6 mile runs.  My 6 mile runs have become 9 mile runs.  And my weekend runs, when I get off my ass to start doing them again, will be 11 to 14 mile runs.  For what it's worth, during the month of August 2010 I haven't run anything less than 6 miles at a stretch.  Last year during this month I only ran 6 miles once.  This is a very, very different year.

Even better, the weather is beginning to break a little.  Yes, it's still hot as blazes out there.  Yes, the humidity is ridiculous.  But it's beginning to break, and break early.  Usually we have to wait until mid September for the hottest of the hot days to be behind us, but there have been remarkably few 100 degree days this summer and the pattern appears to be holding.  There's still time for that to change, though.

My average mile so far this month is 9:45 over a 6 mile stretch.  It'll probably stay there for the remainder of the month while I start trying to stretch the distances out.  The next scheduled race is the Houston Half Marathon in October, but I may get a few 5k and 10k runs in during the interim to work on a little bit of speed work.

An interesting thing happens during my 6 mile runs, right around mile 3.5.  I smile.  Yea, I know.  It's weird.  It only lasts for about a half mile or so, then the grimacing death mask descends on my face, but that little stretch of the run is actually quite pleasant.  Not as pleasant as the nap following the run, but pleasant enough in its own rights.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Runner attacked

Has anyone heard of any incidents of runners in Houston having things thrown at them from car windows.

Things such as rocks, chunks of concrete, bricks, bottles, etc?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The run

I said yesterday's run was in jeopardy due to complete lack of energy.  Well, I managed to get up off the deck and post a decent run:   6 miles in 1:03.  It wasn't great, but wasn't so bad, either.  I've done better, but not since January.

But here's the kicker:  yesterday was a scheduled rest day.  The TUESDAY run was scheduled for 5 miles, but I was on the deck so hard Tuesday night my schedule was off by a block.  So, the rest day that I THOUGHT was today is actually a day scheduled for speedwork.

I so hate The Almighty Schedule I can taste it.

I've been tinkering with The Almighty Schedule anyway, so a little more tinkering may not be so bad.  I might skip tonight's run and overload the miles tomorrow (with a little speed work thrown in), tack on a 3 easy miles Saturday (scheduled rest day), and then be back on track for the LongSlowDistance run for Sunday (9 miles scheduled).  

Or, I might get in a long, easy run tonight, skip tomorrow, sneak in some miles Saturday, and be on track for the LSD on Sunday.
Or, I might rest tonight, run tomorrow morning with an easy 6, cross on Saturday, LSD on Sunday.

I don't know.  Maybe I just need to rest to the weekend and try and get my clock straight.  I'd hate to lose out on the miles for this week--I don't have any more time in July to make them up.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Setback... of sorts

Ok, I've fallen a bit ill over the last few days.  My energy level has been ridiculously low to the point where I was beginning to feel physically ill.  The last scheduled run on The Almighty Running Schedule was skipped as well as the two short bonus runs I had planned to squeeze into the mix.  Tonight's run is, to say the very least, in jeopardy.  The Almighty Schedule for the week is almost certainly trashed.  I can only hope to get back on track for next week, even though I have a business trip planned--all hotels do have treadmills and the mileage is light to moderate.  I may overdose the mileage simply to keep myself "normal" in a foreign city.

This could become, to say the very least, a problem.  Let's hope it doesn't go there.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

True beauty in the park

5 good miles today. I'll try and knock down 4 in the morning tomorrow, but I have a very bad record of getting up in the morning and running.

But the real point of today's post...
Yesterday, while running in the park I saw a thing of true beauty. And no, it wasn't attached to a sports bra or in any way related to the "wildlife" that can be found in the local running Mecca of Houston during the deepest, hottest parts of the summer.

No, this was a thing of true, true beauty. An inspirational sight that my imagination STILL cannot release.

As I was chugging through my second mile yesterday at what I thought was a decent clip, it happened. Three guys come cruising up on my left in a V formation. Their backs straight, their heads held up high, eyes forward, a light banter going on between them. Then I looked at their FEET. They were keeping an identical cadence, all had identical strides, and their footfalls were so light. The balls of their feet hit at exactly the same time, just under their knees, and then seemed to just slide back.
It was so easy, so light, and so smooth.
It was truly beauty in motion.
For just a brief moment I was able to follow behind them and keep their pace (it was a blistering pace for me, but so light and smooth for them). It felt like I was running with gazelles! It was so light and breezy and inspirational. It's HOW I want to run.
And these guys... they were like ghosts. They seemed to appear over my left shoulder out of nowhere, and then after a few moments of pacing with them they were gone just as quickly as they showed up. I've actually seen them around the platforms--they're always there. But I've never seen them actually running.
But now I have. And wow. I so want some of that.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Ran 5 miles in 51 min 29 sec @ 10:18 min pace, weather was humid, hot, and full of blech. typical houston july., temperature around 89 degrees, After a 5 day layoff where I felt generally like garbage, I finally took to the road again. The schedule had 5 miles at 10:30, I ran 5 miles at 10:18. I was going to run 7, but the first 3 miles were at a "blistering" pace of 9:48--much faster than I had planned. 1. 10:02 2. 09:41 3. 09:41 (last quarter mile was 2:00) 4. 10:01 5. 12:02
The first 3 miles weren't going to be that fast, but I got passed by a rabbit who was taking it far, far to easy to be passing me that quickly and had to chase her down. 2 miles later I not only caught her, but the person I mistook for her who was a half mile in front of her. So, that's why I didn't run 7 instead of 5--I overdid it for the first 3 miles. I need to do a better job of sticking to the schedule and getting my long runs in on the weekends. I'm satisfied with the intensity I'm putting in for the short runs, but intensity is no substitute for distance. It doesn't matter how big the pipe is if it's stuck into a shallow reservoir. So, I'm either going to have to start extending the shorter runs or actually DOING the LSDs.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Getting off, and on back on the rails

The Almighty Training Schedule is kind of bumming me out.
Generally speaking, I have a problem with authority.  When that authority is some sort of generic, outside designed round hole that I'm expected to jam a square peg into, then I start to have a real, real problem with the authority.

And that, for me, is what training programs tend to be.  Some guy (or chick) decided that in order for ME to accomplish my goals (in this case, sub 2:00:00 half marathon), I need to do X, Y, and Z.  Forget the fact that I've got schedule conflicts on three of those days.  Forget the fact that I have a travel schedule.  Forget the fact that I actually want to see my family on the weekends.  Nope, forget all that, and you get no alternatives.  Do the program, or good luck.

Well, you know what?  Bite my ass.

Don't get me wrong.  I understand the program is intended to help.  There are specific workouts that seek to deepen the reservoir, widen the pipes, and improve the pump.  Each one targets one, two, or (for a time) all three aspects of the machine.  I get it.  I really, really do.

I also get it that the program is a good starting point, and if I want to get more sophisticated with my training I should consult someone who knows a little more about me than some editor in Colorado (or where ever the hell he is) for Runners World Magazine.

You know what works really well for me?  A long, long run on Monday and Tuesday, then a rest day for Wednesday, then some speedwork for Thursday, and a shorter (but still long) run on Friday.  Then I can take the weekend off (when most people prefer to run their long runs) and spend time with the family that I haven't seen all week.  Maybe that'll change in the winter, but in the summer that's how the schedule works out.  Does that fit into the Almighty Training Schedule?  Nope.  Does it work?  I'll betcha it does.  In fact, I have yet to find anyone who can give me a good reason why it wouldn't work other than "that's crazy", "that's stupid", or "no program would have you doing THAT".  The problem, though, is if the schedule has me doing something else, and I'm not following the schedule, then the schedule simply doesn't work.

So, that's where I'm at right now.  I've got a schedule I've tried to stick with.  And for the weekday runs, I've done a pretty good job.  The weekend runs, on the other hand, I've not done so well sticking with.  I'm going to have to rejigger the schedule a bit and see if I can rearrange the runs and the days in order to fit them in a little bit better.  I might even wake up a bit early a few times a week and run before work--something I have extreme difficulty doing.

Nonetheless, though, I'll take a stab at reforming the Almighty Schedule into something that's more compatible, while at the same time reforming my own schedule to better accommodate the schedule.  Tuesday's 5 mile run will become Tuesday Morning's 6.5 mile run because I'm not sure where the 5 mile turnaround point is on my local route (maybe I'll run 8 miles, depending on how I feel).  The shoes, socks, and kit will be laid out tonight and when the buzzer buzzes at 10 to 5 tomorrow morning, I'll be out like a shot.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Speed work Thursday!

Ran 3 miles in 27 min 33 sec @ 9:11 min/ pace, weather was sunny, with a hot breeze. humid, but not sauna humid., temperature around 93 degrees, The schedule said 1 mile warm up, then 2x1 mile splits at 8:25. 1. 10:46 2. 08:06 3. 08:40 (average for the two miles, 8:23.5) Booyah!
Ok, so the first mile was fast, and that was a mistake. In fact, the first quarter was REALLY fast, at 1:40. After I saw that time, I decided to shoot for the 8:00 mile. I missed it by 6 seconds... grr. And then I totally bonked on the last half mile. That's just the way it goes sometimes.
Tomorrow's schedule has 5 miles at an easy (10:30) pace. I'm gonna gobble them up, while taking it easy.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The pump, the pipe, and the reservoir

There are three parts to a fluid energy system. There's the pump, which actually pushes (or pulls) the fluid from one point to the other. There's the pipe, which allows for the flow of the fluid energy. Then there's the reservoir where the fluid energy is stored. The human body is not much different, even if the parts are not necessarily tangible.

Our pump is, of course, our heart and lungs. In a fluid system the pump will draw the fluid or energy out of the reservoir. The larger the pump, the more that can be drawn out. If the pump is stronger and more efficient, then it can operate at higher speeds for longer periods. Also, less energy is required to operate and cool the pump so it can run for longer periods. The longer it can run, the more can be drawn from the reservoir at a given time.
A good portion of our training has to do with building the strength of the pump. Marathoners have huge pumps that can be set to run for hours and hours at a time. They can fire up a sprint, but they're not designed to sprint. They burn long and slow, and control the flow through the pipes.

The pipes convey the fluid from the reservoir to wherever it's going. If it's an electrical system, the pipes are actually wires. If it's a fluid system, the pipes are... well, pipes. The bigger the pipe, the more that can flow along the pipe with less resistance. The smaller the pipe, the less that can flow and the higher the resistance.
For a runner, we'd be talking about "fast twitch muscle fibers" and "slow twitch muscle fibers" and such things. It's the efficiency with which we can transfer that energy that our heart and lungs are pumping through our body into actual exertion.
We're also talking about discipline and pace. If we open the pipes too far too fast, we burn out. If we keep them constrained too much for too long, we never hit max performance. Marathons are never won in the first mile, but they can be lost completely in that first mile. Go out too fast and you can sacrifice performance in the final miles. We can always open the pipes up for a sustained release of speed, but then we can close the pipes back up to try and conserve and replenish some of the reservoir. A good portion of the training is also learning how to control the flow through the pipes.

The reservoir simply is what it is. In a fluid system it's the lake, or snow caps, or aquifer. In an electrical system it's the battery. For a runner, it's the... well, it's the "IT". You know, do you have "IT" to make it through to the end? To push through exhaustion? To keep those feet moving even when you can barely focus your eyes? Do you have "IT"? When your lungs are burning and your legs are beginning to tingle and your breath is coming in rasps on every footfall and the line is approaching but not approaching fast enough and the clock is ticking the RELENTLESS CLOCK IS TICKING and the white spots are forming in your field of vision AND THE CLOCK IS STILL TICKING and you just can't go another step but you have to keep pushing for just another few feet and you have to reach deep, deep, deep down into the reserves and pull up just a little bit more of "IT"... yea, that's what "IT" is.

And "IT" is the great mystery of long distance running. Training can expand that reservoir mathematically. But there's something else that adds that little something more beyond the mere edges of the pool of reserve energy. There's that little something else that holds the wellspring of amazing, superhuman energy that separates mere mortals from mere mortals who run... and then those mere mortals who run from mere mortals who are runners... and then those mere mortals who are runners from the gods who walk among us.
Anyone can TALK about running.
In fact, anyone can run.
In fact, anyone can run unfathomable distances--it's in our DNA, we're built for it.
And you know, for that matter, on a full tank of gas anyone can blast off an explosive sprint for a 150 meters or so.
The REAL question is whether or not you can blast off a sprint AFTER running 5 or 10 miles.
Or after running 5 or 10 miles, can you run another 5 or 10 miles? Or, on the brink of exhaustion, can you get up and finish?
That's when you start to find out what IT really looks like.
Not in the fresh legs of a new morning, but in the sweat drenched, slightly parched emptiness that lies just before the edge. When you look deep within and see nothing, but then reach down into that inky darkness and find... yea, there it is.

No more comments, for awhile

Due to a douchebag spammer, comments have been turned off. I'll be simulposting on facebook, so you can comment there if you're so inclined.

I don't like to turn off comments, but until the douchebag spammer dies or grows some dignity--or Blogger figures out a way to allow us to ban or report douchebag spammers--I'll have to leave comments off.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Run update

Ran 5 miles in 52 min 46 sec @ 10:33 min/ pace, weather was hot in the sun, cool in the shade... but no shade., temperature around 91 degrees, I skipped the 8 mile LSD run over the weekend due to too many good excuses. So, I made up for it on today\'s rest day. I ran 3 fast miles with a 2 mile cool down. It\'s not on the schedule, and it wasn\'t 8 miles, but it needed to be done and I could barely walk at the end. 1. 9:49 2. 9:32 3: 8:58 (and I really felt like I was going to vomit after this mile... but I didn\'t) 4: 12:03 5: 12:22

I didn't really mean to make the first 3 miles of this run speed work, but that's how it happened. I felt good on the first mile and then saw the time, so I kept banging on the second mile and the time was even better. So, on the third mile I kept banging and the time kept falling. Then I felt like I was going to puke, so I laid there on the grass until the urge to throw chunks passed, dragged myself up and tossed off another couple of miles to cool down. Now, at the end of that second cool down mile someone came up on my left shoulder and slid past me at just the right pace, so I got on his heels and paced him all the way to the finish pole. 10 feet from the finish he cracked. That felt good.

Tomorrow is a rest day. 5 easy miles are scheduled, but I've got an appointment to keep. So, I'm swapping the Tuesday and Wednesday schedules with speed work scheduled for Thursday (2 x mile repeats, 8:30 pace). To make up for skipping this weekend, I'm going to add a mile to the easy run and maybe add a couple to this weekend's LSD. This is looking like a pretty good week.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Day 5, wearing down.

Ran 4 miles in 42 min 49 sec @ 10:42 min/ pace, weather was effin muggy and blech, temperature around 91 degrees, The schedule said \"4 miles at 10:30\". For some reason I thought that meant to start on a route that would take me 5 miles. It took me a mile to figure out what I had done wrong and I corrected course. Der. I also missed the pace by about 19 seconds, or 5 seconds per mile. 1. 10:41 2. 10:51 3. 10:20 4. 10:55

I'm so freaking tired. I wake up and I'm tired. I go to bed, and I'm tired. I spend the day alert and focused, but I'm tired. The fatigue has GOT to be a part of the program, I'm just not sure it's a good, or necessary, part. I'm going to keep with it, even though I'm skeptical. The worst that can happen, I suppose, is that my half marathon time drops from 2:30 to something between 2:00 and 2:30.

Or, I could get hurt because these training programs are stupid. We'll see.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


I have started a 10 week program to run a half marathon in under 2 hours.  I figured it was time to just go ahead and quit putting off setting a goal and just jump in, both feet, and get this thing done.  Enough with the conceptual knowledge that I can do it, it's time to actually begin the slow, steady process of wearing away, molecule by molecule, the rubbery soles of my shoes.  Target day:  September 11, 2010.  I've plotted out a half marathon course that's actually 13.4 miles long, and I'm calling it the "Half to Beat The Heat Half Marathon +"

I know, I know...  it's a little longer than a true half (hence the Half Marathon + tag), but the point is to be able to run it in under 2:00:00 and, more importantly, when the actual half marathon season comes back around I'll actually be able to knock out a half marathon at the time benchmark I've set.  Additionally, I can use this 2:00:00 baseline as a launching point for marathon training.

I should also say that I'm thoroughly skeptical of this "program".  Yes, I have mined it out of a very respected running publication.  Yes, it has been put together by some very respected running coaches and folks very knowledgeable about these things.  But all the same, I'm very, very skeptical about what this program will actually do for me that I wouldn't be able to do by simply going out there and running as far and as fast as I can run 3 or 4 times a week logging between 20 and 30 miles per week (the same mileage the program has me running).  I mean, why does running 16 total miles (in 3 outings) at 10:30 and a "tempo run" of 5 miles (with 3 at under 9:00) produce better results than simply running between 6.8 and 8 miles on 4 separate days at under 10:00 per mile?  I just don't get it.  I really don't understand.  But I'm willing to try and see if it'll actually work, considering I haven't stuck to the "run between 6.8 and 8 miles on 4 separate days" program much, either.  I'm going to give it an honest try, though, and see if 1. I can stick to the program and 2. if it'll actually work.  Maybe I'll set the next benchmark as a 20:00 5k!

So, on with the program...
Today is a rest day/cross train day on the program.  Yesterday was, I thought, 4 miles at 10:38 pace, but was actually scheduled to be 4 miles at 10:30 pace.  All the same, I knocked out 4 miles in just under 10:30.  I tried really hard to stick to the 10:38 pace that I thought I was supposed to be keeping, but in the beginning that felt SOOO SLOOOWWWW...  towards the end, though, it was a bit tougher to hold on to the pace, so it balanced out.  This was also about a mile longer than my typical weekday runs.  Usually at the park I'll whip out 3 miles with about a mile of speed work.  Yesterday was just 4 steady miles.  I'm not sure why, but today I'm a little bit exhausted.  I DO know that 16 laps around a track is bo-ring.

Tomorrow the schedule has a 5 mile tempo run.  I've never done a tempo run, on purpose.  The schedule says to start slow for a mile, then blast 3 miles at 8:54, then finish slow.  Finishing slow runs completely counter to everything I've ever learned and every habit I've ever developed, but I'll give it a try all the same.  I'm thinking it'll be 4 laps around the oval, then 1 lap around the park, then 4 laps around the oval.  I suppose I'm going to have to suspend the 8:00 rule for the park circuit for awhile.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

From running to training

Up to this point I've called myself a runner, but not a Runner.  I'm running for recreation and out of that recreational effort I have been able to build a base that can support the effort of a half marathon distance pretty much whenever I want to just "roll out of bed" and run 13.1 miles.

Of course, that distance takes 2 1/2 hours to cover.  And I don't care what anyone tells you, running 13.1 miles at a 11:30 pace is not fun.  Not fun at all.
I'm also fairly certain, though I haven't had the opportunity to prove it, that I could knock off a full marathon as well.  Of course, THAT pace will be something south of 12:00, and as much fun as running a half marathon at 11:30 may sound, running a full at more than 12:00 per mile is even less fun.  I don't care what anyone tells you.

Sure, sure, there's the sense of accomplishment blah blah blah...  once you've accomplished one, running for 5 1/2 hours ceases to be a marvelous accomplishment and becomes a hot, sweaty, miserable plod.

SO, then, what's next?

Well, I've already set my sights on the mystical "8 minute mile" (that I already know I can run) to be logged by the end of this month.  En route to putting that little accomplishment into the books, I've decided to put myself on a 6 week training--yes, training--program to prepare to run a half marathon in under two hours.  THAT means I can set my sights on knocking out a half marathon (or half marathon distance) over Labor Day weekend.  And if I'm at the point where I can knock out a half marathon (or half marathon distance) by the end of August, then I can seriously start thinking about setting specific time goals for the full marathons I'm looking at for January.

In just my neighborhood alone, there are 3 full marathons in the calendar month of January 2011.  I'm thinking I might run all three.  I'm thinking I might run all three in under four hours, or at the very worst, between 4:00 and 4:30.  Besides, I already KNOW I can run a marathon.  Now it's time to find out if I can just run marathons.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Going longer

Last Friday I ran the longest post-hiatus run to date--8.5 miles.

In the searing heat.

I ran out of water, was under fed, suffered cramps and various pains, but I made it all the way through.  It took me a little longer than I expected--a 13:00 pace--but I made it.
Yesterday I followed that performance with a 6.8 mile run at about 11:30.  THAT run actually felt pretty good, if not fast.  From here forward my 3 mile runs are going to be considered my short runs, and my 6 mile runs are going to be considered the normal runs.  Anything over 10 miles, on my chart, will be considered long runs.  It's time to start getting serious.

Basically, at this point I feel like my baseline has been built.  I'm able to go adequate distances, even if at slow paces.  I'm satisfied enough with the distances and can start whittling down the times.  I'm still debating whether or not I want to make the transition from recreational running to honest-to-god training.  3 or 4 runs a week seem to be plenty for now, and if I do manage to squeeze out a 2 hour half marathon while keeping to the decidedly non-schedule schedule that I run with, it'll be a very, very satisfying "I told you so" that I'll be able to deliver.

One thing I won't do, however, is sign up for another 5 hour marathon.  That's just not any fun.

If the weather holds for tomorrow, I may run home from the office again to tack on another 8.5 to the ledger.  It'll be a good way to start the month.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Ok, so I've been complaining lately about plateaued performance and acheyness and blah blah blah.  I've been fretting about managing exertion and heart rate and overheating on the runs.  Well, both Monday and yesterday's runs were remarkably better than any of the runs last week.

Monday's run featured a 32:00 run around the 3 mile loop at Memorial, followed by 3 penalty laps.  I know it should have been 4, but I miscounted and only ran 3.  I made up the missed lap Wednesday, so it was ok.  The primary goal was to manage my pace, heart rate, and exertion.  The first lap went off at a quick 9:45, the next two slid down precipitiously.  The speed laps, however, were all at a 2:00 pace, so I was satisfied with that.  Plus, the last mile and a half or so was run in pouring rain and through slushy muck, so even though I wasn't over heating I was still slogging through mud and blechiness.

Wednesday rolled around and I renewed the focus on pace above all.  Mile 1:  10:00.  Mile 2:  10:01.  Mile 3:  10:02.  I nailed it.  Of course, I cheated a bit on the third mile because I took it easy on the first half of that mile clocking a 5:30.  The next quarter I clawed back ten seconds from my target pace to put the total at 7:53, which allowed me to crush the final quarter at just over 2:09.  I counted that final quarter as my first penalty lap, and the makeup lap from Monday's workout.

So, in keeping with the "rules" I made up, because I was over my target of 24:00 by 4 portions of 2:00 intervals (24-26, 26-28, 28-30, 30+), I owed 4 more penalty laps.  These laps went at 1:54, 2:02, 2:01, and 1:54, which got me the :09 back from the first penalty lap at the end of the 3 miles.  All in all, a very, very good run for this point in my game.
Now that I'm running 2:00 quarters consistently, I'm going to change the rules.
For every 4:00 increment I'm off my pace, I'm going to owe a half mile penalty lap with a target time of 4:00.  If I can keep stringing these guys together, I should be able to hit my goal of an 8:00 mile.  If I can run a single 8:00 mile, then I can start tacking on additional quarters and push the long distance times down.  My last marathon chugged along at about 12:30 per mile.  I'm looking to shave--well, really more like amputate--2:30 off that time for my next marathon.  And really I'd like to trim about 3:30 off that time and notch a sub-4:00:00 marathon.  That won't get me into the money, but it will get me into Denny's before the lunch rush shows up.

THAT'S worth the effort.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The lifestyle

I read a phrase today that struck me as odd.  Haruki Marakami referred to himself running regularly and falling back into the "running lifestyle".  This is something I had never used that specific term to describe, but still was something I tended to avoid.  My preferred terminology was "Runner" versus "runner" versus "someone who runs".  I had personally travelled from "someone who runs" to "runner", but never dabbled into the realm of "Runner".  Those people are the ones who lived the "running lifestyle".  The guys at the smoothie shop knew their names.  The folks at the shoe stores knew their sizes and exactly how much they tended to pronate.  These were the folks who hung out in the running clubs, chatted together at the stretching platforms, and generally chilled in their running gear than hung ever so casually over their gaunt, skinny little runner bodies.  

These were, basically, folks that I didn't have the time to become.  Why?  Because I had other hobbies.  I have my garden.  I have my bike.  I have my classes.  I have my family.  I have other things to occupy my time that makes running as much imposition as it is a blessed escape from the general business of my everyday life.

But, then again, there's that "running lifestyle" that helps light the fire that burns the engine that allows those of us where are/were merely "people who run" to make that transition to "runner", or even "Runner".  Some people are born with it, others have to catch it from someone else.

So, now the thought has begun creeping into my mind, as I contemplate running either 3 or 6 miles this evening, do I want to turn that corner and allow myself to be drawn into the "running lifestyle", or do I want to continue to dabble my feet into the pond without ever really taking that plunge?  Honestly, I still don't know the answer.

But anyway, I've thought about the running performances over the last couple of weeks and realize that when I start breaking down toward the end of runs it's not because I'm tired.  I still have plenty of fuel in the tank, I'm just having trouble getting that fuel to the parts that make the locomotion happen.  It occurs to me that I may simply be overheating.  My heart rate may be running too high and the breathing, no matter how regular and steady, simply isn't keeping pace with the heart rate causing a general breakdown of the system.  I may have to go off and get a heart monitor, or simply learn how to take it just a tad bit easier on the front portion of my out-and-back runs.
Either way, I'm going to test the theory out today by attempting to better manager the heart rate and body heat as I run.  It won't be easy, on account of it being close to 5,000,000 degrees outside, but I'll see what I can do.  Maybe I'll figure this thing out afterall.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Speedwork day

Today will be a day of speedwork.  This week has been a week of declining performance and increasing times, and it's generally been a bummer.  The body has been fighting back, the diet has been a shambles, and pretty much everything has gone wrong.  I'm even feeling sore in my shins far, far ahead of when I should be feeling sore in the shins.

On the other hand, at this time last year I wasn't even tracking times yet, and when I did start tracking times I was a step slower (in July) than I am now.  So, even though I'm running slower than I'd like to, I'm still running better than I was last year.  So, I guess it's a good news/bad news sort of situation.

Nonetheless, I need a change of pace.  The various three mile workouts (3.0 and 3.6) I've been running the last couple of weeks are getting tedious.  My legs are getting achey.  Waa.  So, I'm going to start killing some speed workouts all next week.  Tonight, running's out of the question since I'm going to be home watching the rugrat on my own and leaving him upstarts sleeping while I go out for an hour long run is, for some strange reason, frowned upon.  Tomorrow, though, I may load him into the running trailer and go for a run with him.  That might be fun!

Anyway, blah blah blah...
I picked up a couple of new books that should be fun to read, too.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The quest for 8 continues

I took in another 3.6 mile run last night, and the first half of the run was again a faster front half than the previous run's first half.  The run overall, however, was slightly slower than the previous outing, partly on account of pushing the pace a little too aggressively on the front half and partly on account of having a headwind for the front half.  I just pooped out on the back half of the run, even with a tail wind.

Nonetheless, I ran a little more than 1.75 miles at a 9:45/mile clip.  I suspect that if I went to a track this weekend and laid it out I could break 9:00 for a mile.  I feel the 8:00 mile is within reach by the end of next month.

Last night I was looking at a calendar and realized that in the month of January there are 3 marathons in the Houston area--1/1, 1/16, and 1/30.  Conceivably I could take a stab at running all three of them.  Something of a "Houston Trifecta".  Of course, for the 1/30 marathon I'd have to actually win a lottery now that the Chevron Houston Marathon has decided to switch to a lottery system rather than simply require their runners to stick to the registration guidelines (roll eyes).  Nonetheless, pulling off a feat like that--with no gu, gatorade, or other manufactured assistance--would be pretty impressive and merely prove that I don't exist.  

Because, as we all know from common knowledge, running is a punishment on the human body and you must feed it artificial garbage, ice it down, wrap it up, and medicate the hell out of it in order for it to be able to run 26.2 miles.

Unless,that is, you think common knowledge is simply wrong and believe that humans are, in fact, born to run.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Almost back to pre-hiatus form

I'm 9 days back from hiatusville.  In those 9 days I've taken in 4 runs, with 3 in a single week (and it will probably be 4 before the start of next week).
Last night's run was a quick little 3.6 mile jaunt from the homestead along our little river path.  It's a good run, but it's nothing exciting.  This weekend may feature a long run (for me) of about 13 miles.  It'll be slow, and agonizing, but it'll get finished, and at this stage that's what's important to me.

Meanwhile, the observations continue.
Last night and this morning, the legs were a little bit wobbly.  There was a point where I could barely maintain control of the muscles last night.  It wasn't entirely a bad thing, just curious.  I'm actually running at least as much now than I was prior to the Chevron Houston Half Marathon, but I was much stronger prior to the CHHM.  Either way, I expect the volume and distances to continue to rise.

On the appetite front, I'm surprised at how quickly that has turned over, too.  I'm ALWAYS hungry, but the cravings are for unusual stuff--at least for me.  Peanut butter, bread, milk, berries and fruits, chicken, leafy greens, eggs, grits, and beans beans beans are the fare that I am seriously wanting to cram down my gullet.  Burgers?  Not so much.  I even went out and bought some chia seeds for tea and gardening.  I may be off my culinary nut.

On the sleep/energy side of the equation...  After the late-ish run last night I showered and settled in for dinner (eggs, grits, milk) around 10pm.  Very late, you'd think.  The food didn't stand a chance.  Before the first commercial break the food was gone, as if it was never there.  I leaned back with the tall glass of milk and nearly passed out right then.  About 10:30 I got up to finish up some chores and clean up a few messes and hit the sack close to 11:30.  When 5:00am came around I was awake before the alarm and rejuvenated with energy I didn't know I had.  They say that with regular exercise and extensive physical exertion your body tends to recuperate and reenergize quicker, and you require less sleep.  The least healthy people actually require the most sleep.  And I remember from prior to the hiatus that I was actually getting less sleep and feeling better in the mornings than from when I had started running the summer prior.  What I wasn't expecting was that particular switch to be flipped quite so quickly.  I figured it'd be a few more weeks before my eyes were snapping open at 5:30 and my legs were getting all twitchy for the day to start.  

Of course, even with the extra energy this morning my legs were still a bit wobbly.  That switch won't be flipped for another few weeks, I'm sure.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The 8 minute mile

It's time to set out some performance goals.

Sure, I want to run farther and faster in general, because running is a primal function that helps me feel healthier.  But how much farther?  How much faster?  That's the thing.

As best I can remember I've never run an 8 minute mile.  I know what it feels like to run a 2 minute quarter, but not an 8 minute mile.

That's a good place to start.

Then, I want to run a 25 minute 5k.  That's right, a 25 minute 5k.  Because I don't know what that feels like, either.

And even more importantly than that, I think I can do both of those things before the end of this year.

And if I can do both of those before the end of the year, I can set my sights on a 50 minute 10k, and a 10 mile run in 1:10--which would be the 10 for Texas in October.

And then once I crest the 10 mile hill, I can start zeroing in on the 1:30 half marathon, and maybe start looking at a 3:00 full marathon.  I mean, why the hell not?

I think it's time I started seriously looking into running an 8:00 mile.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Barring any calamities

Today I'm looking at a 6 mile run, possibly in Memorial Park, possibly closer to home.  I'm not sure yet.  And that's if the weather and circumstance holds so that I can even pull it off.  I've discovered that if I head to the house first, the likelihood that I'll actually leave to go run is diminished.  On the other hand, when I do leave to go run, the likelihood that the run will be longer is greater than if I run before heading to the house.  It's as if I'll cut a run short in order to get home to the fam and tend to the homestead.  Alternatively, if I skip the run and head directly to tending to the homestead, if there's still energy (and will) after the chores are done, I'll bound out the front door and run for an extra few miles.  Of course, that is only if there's still energy and will (and daylight) to do so.  It's a very curious balancing act.

And speaking of balancing acts, lunch is a tricky thing to figure out.  Like I've already said, it's amazing how quickly the switches have been flipped once I started running again.  I ran the first mile back from hiatus on the 2nd, and the appetite cravings immediately changed gears.  The burger I choked down on Monday was a reluctant compromise with time, and I paid for it.  Since then I've wanted nothing to do with burgers, or much red meat at all.  I craved, and I mean CRAVED, a bean burrito yesterday--fuel food.  Today, I want only a chicken salad.  Yea, that's right, chicken salad.  That's the only thing I can think of right now.

Chicken salad.Chicken salad.Chicken salad.Chicken salad.Chicken salad.Chicken salad.Chicken salad.Chicken salad.Chicken salad.


The other balancing act that's a real challenge is the technology versus naturalism struggle.  With everything today, there's a gadget.  There's the music player, there's the "fuel belt", there's the specially formulated water product, there's the specially formulated carbo product, there's the specially formulated energy gel, there's the specially formulated shoes, there's the specially formulated socks...  pretty much anything and everything you could imagine you needed or wanted in order to make running easier and more expensive, there's a gadget for that.  It makes you wonder how our ancestors ever managed to find, hunt, chase, and kill a beast.  Occasionally I'll plug in the music player, but the less I carry, the better I feel.  Can a person run a 2:00 half marathon, in today's relatively comfortable society, without energy gels, fuel bars, or specially designed "gear"?  I'm not sure, but I'm determined to find out.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Getting into the swing of things

I was thinking last week how odd it was that the switches would be flipped back on so quickly after a mere 1 mile run.  After Tuesday's quick run I was hungry, but not HUNGRY!!  On Wednesday there was a little more of a spring in my step, I didn't need/want as much coffee, and there was no craving for an afternoon sugary snack.  Then, come Wednesday night, the crash came and I was EXHAUSTED.  Completely and totally wiped out.  A very, very good, full body weariness decended over me and I completely shut off at a relatively early hour.
Thursday came bright and early and most of the spring was out of my step, the coffee craving had returned, but the afternoon sugar binge was still absent, but the old fuel lunch craving was back, rather than just food/filler lunch cravings.  It seemed like the engine had been stoked.  Right around 4:00pm the legs started twitching for a run.  Again, it seemed like the running switches had been flipped.

Then I got distracted by more important things and the twitchiness went away.  The drive home was hectic, dinner was a mess (I "had" to order pizza at 9:00pm, that I munched on for 4 days), and instead of being full-body-wiped-out, I was merely tired and wired.  What a crappy night.  Friday passed much the same way and I was just glad to slump into the couch when I got home to relax for a few minutes before the night life began.  We had a terrific night out with friends, but again, no running.  Had I gotten up in the morning I'd have been able to run, but the terrible Thursday precluded a Friday morning run.  These are the challenges that accompany having a real life and being a runner.  Of course, if I were a Runner (capital "R", big difference in my lexicon), the real life would accomodate itself to the running schedule and all things would be second to squeezing in a mile or twelve--but I'm not a Runner, nor do I aspire to be.  I am a runner by right of genetic and evolutionary history, and I am reclaiming that fact from the unnatural world that has been foisted on us.  But enough of the soap box talk...

Saturday morning started late after sleeping off the weight of the week.  A trip to the market, a rondezvous with friends, and a quick couple of chores later, the morning was complete and the running (which was never really committed to in the first place), was scuttled.  News, nap, and preparation for a deliciously natural and local dinner were made and we were on to Sunday.

Another late morning started with communing with my Lord in the garden and tending to chores around the homestead.  I might have been able to get a run in yesterday, but the flesh simply wasn't willing.  I'm not entirely sure the mind was particularly willing, either.  As amazing as it is that the running switches get flipped after a mere 1 mile primer run, it's equally amazing how quickly the switches get flipped back off.

Which brings us to Monday.  I pack the running bag in the morning with the specific intent of sneaking out of the office early to dash off to the park and get in the first significant run since February 28--the Cowtown Half Marathon.  It was an excruciating 3 miles (in 33:48), and I earned every agonizing minute of the run.  I had a bad breakfast followed by a TERRIBLE lunch and didn't hydrate nearly enough during the day.  

And just to put a cap on the run, because I was almost 4 minutes off the pace, I tacked on a pair of "penalty lap sprints" on the quarter mile loop.  These laps averaged 2:00 per lap, faster than any of the quarters I ran on the long run, and were a proper penance for my sloppy run.

Next scheduled run will be Wednesday morning.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Hiatus terminated

As of today, the hiatus is officially complete.  I will head home, then run this evening as the sun is setting.  Probably only about a mile, but it might be a full on 3.5 miles.  I haven't decided yet.  We'll have to see.

Now would be a good time to recap my running "strategy" and my approach to the whole thing.

First and foremost, running is not, and should not be, a strange suit we humans put on for the sake of fitness or a means to some other end.  Fitness, or body health, or whatever other end you seek to gain from running is not an end, but rather a by product of the act itself.  Running, in other words, IS the end.  We run because, evolutionarily speaking, we are runners.  Now, that's not to say that we all are Runners, because that is a state of mind.  But we are, as sure as we are humans, runners.  That's what separates us from the animals.  That is what makes us who we are.  Paleoanthropologically, it makes sense, too.  Running afforded us a steady source of meat that our slow witted cousins couldn't secure for themselves because they couldn't run like us.  They were left to sit back and bludgeon their prey to death and risk life and limb in close proximity to an injured beast that was more predator than prey.  Meanwhile, we could chase down swift beasts that were more accustomed to being prey until they dropped dead from exhaustion or slowed to the point where a point could be introduced to their bellies.  That is the essence of how we became what we became.  We run not because we wish to get fit, we get fit because we run, and we run because we are runners.  Only after we run can we then become a member of that strange tribe of people we call Runners.

Secondly, I have a general problem with authority.  Consequently I have trouble joining with running clubs and maintaining a running calendar.  I do maintain a running diary, of sorts, where I track my times and distances.  But that's about as disciplined as I get.  If I can't run today, I don't run today.  I'll pick up the miles later on, or I won't.  Either way, I'm not going to get heartbroken about it.

In the same vein, I have trouble buying into the "common wisdom" of typical running clubs, training programs, and the "you should" crowd.  Sure, I know I should eat certain foods and wear certain shoes, and go out at certain times, and maintain certain paces, and taper, and ice, and stretch, and blah blah blah.  I like to hear that stuff.  I really do.  No, SERIOUSLY, I do like to hear that stuff!!  I just don't abide by all that stuff and, quite honestly, don't care if you do, either.  If it works for you, go for it.  But it doesn't work for me.  Sure, maybe I would run a mile in only 9:34 instead of 9:38 if I did some minor tweak of this or that.  But 4 seconds?  Really?  I heard the same crap when I was cycling, too, that I should this and should that.  Bah.  Trimming off 4.8 grams of bike weight isn't going to make a whit of difference when you're pushing a pair of "C"s up a hill (as in, CC, as in 200 lbs).  Besides, gazelles don't taper.  Antelope don't go out for pace runs.  The rarimuri don't stretch or ice.  And if you're truly a runner, you should be able to run at 3:00pm or 5:00am, the position of the sun is just a coincidence.  Hell, Kenyans don't even WEAR shoes for the first 16 years of their life.

Finally, if I had to sum up the approach to running in just a few words, it'd be these:  just run.  Everything else is a result of that first principle.  Do you want to run a mile?  Just run.  5k?  Just run (a little farther).  Marathon?  Just run (a little farther still).  Ultra?  Just run (even further).  A 4 hour marathon?  Just run (a little faster).  Want to lose weight?  Just run.    Want to lose more weight?  Just run (a little more).  A lot of weight?  Just run (a lot more).  

It all starts there.
That's how it's always been.

Just run.

See you on the trails.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cowtown recap and the ongoing hiatus

Well, waaaaaayyyy back in February I ran my second half marathon in 2 months up in Fort Worth.  It wasn't a spectacular showing, but it wasn't terrible, either.  I wound up the race in about 2:20-ish.  The last half was far worse than the first half, mostly because it was mostly uphill, but partly because I thought the run was Sunday when it was really Saturday and my entire preparation schedule was off by a day.  I hadn't eaten right, I hadn't hydrated right, I hadn't done anything right, really, and I just plum ran out of gas in the last 3 miles or so.  
I was on a great pace for the first 6 miles.  It was a great pace.  Of course, it was mostly downhill, too.  But then the engine started to sputter and the 2:00 pace that I had been running slipped to 2:15.  Then a mile or so later it slipped again to a 2:30 pace.  But I was able to rally for the last couple of miles (where the route flattened out a little) and trim some time back off and finish in the low 2:20s.  There you go.  That's how the cowtown shaped up for me.
The real highlight, though, was that my son got to watch me finish the race for the first time.  He was overjoyed.  That was a cool feeling to be able to hear my boy squealing with delight as I cut through the crowd that had formed around the last few turns and sprint my way to the finish line.  Yea, I may not have finished first, but in his eyes I'm a giant among men.  And that'll do just fine.

The next run on the schedule was Angie's Half Marathon down in Clear Lake.  I went out and ran a few times to prepare for that one, but the rigors of school and work started to weigh down too much and right around the end of March I officially decided to claim a hiatus until after school.  Come June, I'd start running again, but not before.  There were just too many things to do and not enough days in the week to do them.

But as of now, school has ended and one of the jobs has become mothballed.  The garden is planted, the chores are mostly caught up on, and running will commence again shortly.  I'm still looking at the half marathon schedules through the end of the year, but I may modify the schedule to accomodate a few full marathons starting in November or December.  Why not?  By then an extra 13 miles shouldn't be all that tough (he said, ironically).

Monday, January 18, 2010

Chevron Houston Half Marathon recap

In November I injured my right calf and the wheels came off the training for the marathon. So, in December I switched to the half marathon.

Here's the results:

Overall: 2:23:24
The miles:
1: 11:07.59
We started in the crowd, of course, so the first mile was a little slow. That's ok, since this gave me a chance to speed up towards the end AND warm up in the beginning.
2: 10:15.51
3: 10:06.09
4: 10:14.40
These three miles blew by without much excitement. The first mile was over the Elsyian (sp?) viaduct and the next 3 were through the neighborhoods on the north side of town. It was all flat and crowded. I believe there was a water stop just after mile 2 and mile 4. At this point I'm cruising along just fine. I've fallen into a rhythm and separated myself into a nice clearing from the crowd.
5: 10:29.68
6: 10:22.56
These next two miles featured what little bit of terrain there is on the route. There were, if I'm not mistaken, 3 underpasses where the route drops below street level. The first one on the route is near mile 4, but these last 3 seemed to have slowed the crowd down a bit and bunched the runners back up. I remember being exceptionally crowded through the midway point until the crowd started to break up again. I also realized I had to pee real bad, but the lines at the bathrooms were all too long.
7: 10:38.77
8: 10:39.17
Here is where I finally decided to pee. I was thinking about needing to pee so badly I was beginning to get a cramp on my left side--which never, ever happens. So, just after mile 7 I tucked into a port-o-let that had a remarkably short line and emptied the tank. The relief was a relief, but 2 things happened at that point. My rhythm was thrown completely off which led to my times dropping off the cliff. Mile 8 is also near where I was expecting to see my lovely wife so that I could take in some frozen grapes and apple juice (the race fuel I expected to consume for a final kick). Unfortunately our timing was a bit off and I passed this point about 10 minutes before she arrived. This left me jonesing for some fuel that I had to go scavenging for further down the route.
9 & 10: 12:01.09
11: 12:05.55
I was too busy scanning the crowd for my lovely wife to see the 9th mile marker. Nonethless, these three miles were by FAR the slowest on the course. Once I realized I wasn't getting my fruit yummies. I had bypassed oranges and gatorade up to this point because I was expecting to get my afore mentioned race fuel. Had I known... Needless to say I was VERY happy to grab a drink of gatorade (only 1 cup for the whole run), 2 animal crackers, 3 pretzels, and 2 orange slices during this stretch of the route. The legs were genuinely starting to feel a little leaden by the end of the 11th mile. However, things started to perk up a bit when the fruits kicked in.
12: 11:26.97
13: 9:59.93
+.1: 0:54.73
This is what happens when the race fuel kicks in. The last two miles were faster than the previous 3 and I was cruising again. I was chugging down the route and into downtown when I realized that I was still tucked comfortably within the crowd. I had not been left behind, and that is a damn good feeling... until you get to the final chutes. What happens is the route gets a little narrower toward the end, which limits the amount of space you have to maneuver. All that elbow room you had a few blocks ago suddenly vanishes at the finish line. That didn't happen to me when I ran the full a few years back because it was just me and a few dozen other people finishing at the same time.
Anyway, we rolled into downtown and the finish line came into sight. That means it was time for the final kick. The girl next to me takes off a little bit, then the guy next to her takes off. Naturally I decide to give chase and put myself just ahead of both of them. She then presses forward for a couple of steps, followed immediately after him, followed once again by me. Except this second time I don't take my hand off the throttle and I juke to the left to avoid the person ahead of me and then bolt down the side. The bad part about finishing in the crowd is the very limited space you have to maneuver in. The GOOD part is ALL THE PEOPLE YOU CAN PASS AT THE FINISH LINE!!! I quit counting after 12. But damn I felt good.

What will I do differently before my next half marathon? Well, the next one will likely be in 3 or 4 days, so the only things I'm probably going to do very differently is pre-race fuel. I'm going to eat more fruits before taking off--probably about an hour ahead of time--to get that fuel into my system. It's remarkably liberating to know I can run a half marathon without manufactured products running through my system. Give me some grapes and a flask of apple juice and I'll do just fine.

So, now the question becomes whether or not I can break 2:00 before my birthday in June.

Chevron Houston Half Marathon epilogue

In January of 2009 one of the ambitions for the year was to train for a marathon. I started training with the 2010 Chevron Houston Marathon in mind, but then became inspired to take it a step farther.
Way back in the late 1990's I started riding my bike--far. I started participating in the MS150 events in Texas, which are a series of 150 mile or longer bike rides across this fair state. I rode in a pair of MS150 rides and decided the next year that I wouldn't "train" for the Houston MS150, but rather would train to be able to ride MS150s whenever they might come up so that I could ride the Houston ride, then follow up with the Dallas ride 2 weeks later.
When I began my marathon "training" in 2009 I stumbled into a "natural man" philosophy of running that suggested man's natural state is to be able to traverse long distances while running. This intrigued me because I had always assumed that running marathons was beyond the natural grasp of man. It was, effectively, an extraordinary feat. The reality of the thing is that long distance running is man's natural state and man should be able to simply just run.
Granted, under today's conditions of 10 hour work days and constant, frenetic activity that accomplishes nearly nothing, running ANY distance is an extraordinary feat and a full marathon is superhuman.
Nonetheless, I embarked on a "natural man" philosophy of running. Not so much training for a particular marathon at a particular time, but training to be able to run ANY marathon, ANYTIME. In November the wheels came off of that preparation and I realized I would not be ready for the Houston Marathon (it takes time to rub off the modern patina of industrial life). I chose to switch to the half marathon instead.

How did I do? Remarkably well. My time was 2:23, which the fastest 13.1 miles I've ever run. My last mile was the fastest of all the miles. But that only tells half the story.

You read the stories of the people who train for months and torture themselves on the roads doing all kinds of invented training methodologies. They train their stomachs for GU and carbo fuel bars. They lay it all out on a Sunday morning to nail that 5 hour marathon time and this extraordinary effort leaves them wrecked for a few days, unable to climb stairs or move freely for several days. And they call themselves heroes.

And for the most part they are heroes. They've accomplished an extraordinary feat that few will ever try. I do not wish to diminish that feat whatsoever. The ability for a desk jockey to rise up over the objections of his own body to do something magnificent should ALWAYS be applauded.

However, I've already done that. I wanted to do something more. I wanted to be able to get up the next day and live a normal life. And that is precisely what I accomplished.

I ran 13.1 miles fairly well, but not expertly. I am not wrecked. I will likely go out in the next few days and run ANOTHER 13.1 miles. In 6 weeks I am going to travel to Fort Worth and run 13.1 miles and set another PR. I did not train to run a half marathon, I ran a half marathon because I trained to be a natural runner.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

2010 is upon us

Ok, so 2010 is here. The half marathon is just a few days away and I'm as ready as I'm going to get. In January 2009 I wrote down that I "would train for a marathon". I never committed to actually running a marathon, and had my training not jumped the tracks back in November I still think I'd have done fine running the marathon this weekend. As it is I'm satisfied that I accomplished that goal.

In a broader sense, in 2009 I discovered what it means to "be a runner". It has nothing to do with training for a specific race. It has nothing to do with ticking off certain goal, mile markers, or personal achievements. Any task oriented person can do that, given enough time. Running, in and of itself is no special thing.

No, BEING a runner is a different animal entirely.

I have come to learn that we are all, fundamentally and undeniably, runners. So running, per se is no special feat for a human to do. It is, after all, what makes us human and separates us from our cousins from the Neander valley.

But for 99.9% of us, we have no special talent to run 2:00 marathons. That's what separates the elite runners from the mere mortals. No, most of us merely possess the standard tools that have been handed down for centuries from the first group of hunters who chased down an antelope and watched it die from heat stroke right before their eyes. That's all, and nothing more.

We are ALL capable of running a marathon. Most of us, however, have cars and, therefore, no need to travel 26 miles on foot. And that's probably what separates me from most of my fellow runners. I agree that most of us have no special talent. I just have a higher opinion of what our natural talent happens to be.

There are other things that separate me from many of the other runners I know and over time I may explore those differences further.

So, were do I go in 2010? That's a good question.
I've signed up for the Houston Half and the Cowtown Half in February. The Cowtown Half was my concession to myself for dropping from the full to the half for Houston. In March there's a half marathon in College Station. That's 3 half marathons in 3 months without a major adjustment to my "training" schedule. They're really just an extension of the running that I've been doing. Rumor is that there are half marathons in the Dallas Metroplex area just about every month of the year. There's also a pretty decent (and slightly longer than a) half marathon route that starts and ends at my front door that doesn't cost me anything.

Maybe I'll run a half marathon a month, every month, for 2010. And, while I'm at it, I'll maintain an easy preparation schedule and continue to prove that you can be average to above average, compared to the general population, without torturing yourself on a daily basis. In 2009 I logged 193 miles and probably ran closer to 215 miles. This represents the most miles I've run in a year, ever (as far as I know).

I think my goal for 2010 will be 216.