Friday, January 29, 2010

G - day minus 140

I'm sick. I'm pulling out of it, I think, but I'm still not feeling like myself so I'm going to pack it in tonight and hope I can sleep it off. Its just a cold, but it hit me pretty hard on Wednesday. I somehow managed to get out of bed and go to class, but that's pretty much all I had the strength to do. I wasn't throwing up or anything, but you know how it is, I just felt terrible. Not too good considering I had a final the next day, but I managed to study a little and the test was pretty easy compared to how hard I thought it would be.

So I skipped my run on Wednesday and have been going short yesterday and today. I can't stand it, but yesterday I could hardly catch my breath on my five miler; it felt like I was running underwater. Today was better in that I ran some hills and felt strong, but still only five miles. Somewhere, I think on, I heard that your immunity takes a dive after a long distance race. I'm inclined to believe that because I haven't gotten sick since I've started running, but now that I've ran a longer distance race, I've gotten sick a short while after. Now, I know causation doesn't imply correlation, but its a theory. So, because of the short week, I think I'll forgo my long run this week, and put in two longer, but not that long runs. To see how much endurance I can recoup, not mileage.

Now, I love Daily Mile, I love the people I've met through it, but one thing I have a love/ hate relationship is the weekly milage leaderboard. Usually, I'm at the top, if not at the top. This week: 20 miles total, and obviously towards the bottom. I can't stand it, being a competitive person because I know I can do better, but I'll try to keep it together- on Monday eveyrbody starts out at zero. I shouldn't say that, it makes me sound cocky and arrogant as hell. Martin Parnell is running his MarathonQuest 250, his quest to run 250 marathons to raise money for Right To Play is my friend, so if all goes well, he'll put in 131 miles per week, and I'll be perpetually in second. Naturally, if you make the list long enough, I'll fall back far enough into oblivion, which is why I like to keep my lists short.

I switched to new shoes, well actually old shoes, but they're a new pair. I switched to a new pair of Adrenaline GTS 8's from my Adrenaline GTS 10's which had, I dunno, 530 or so miles on them. I could have kept running in them, but it seemed like a good idea to switch as I was at the end of a training cycle. I love both shoes a lot, I think I'm on my fifth or sixth pair of 8's, and will probably get a few more pairs of 10's- they're just a little different. I don't know if anyone was reading this when I switched to my 10's from an old pair of 8's, but I was complaining a lot from what I thought was Morton's Neuroma. If I remember right, I was close to a race, or something like that, so I was freaking out. In reality, I was probably just overreacting to adjusting to a shallow toe box. Well, I'm getting that pain again between my fourth and fifth metatarsals, but its confined to going up hills at this point. I'm re- adjusting to the wider toe box, and I really hope the pain doesn't flare up that badly again. I'm wondering what will happen when I get a narrow toe boxed shoe again?

Speaking of new shoes, I'm thinking of getting a pair of Green Silence's, Brooks' eco- friendly racing flat. I've never owned a racing flat, so I'm really interested to get some. However, that will probably make me push another 100 or so miles out of my 8's, but they're durable shoes and they can handle it.

In other news, why do I feel like I'm being robbed at gunpoint when I do anything at St. Thomas besides going to class. I like the school, don't get me wrong, but I'm glad my parents are footing most of the bill. I know St. Thomas is a private school so they can do whatever they want, but I'm really not a fan of some of their practices. But I don't want to get the St. Thomas suits mad at me- or should I say, The University of Saint Thomas presented by Best Buy suits (cheap shot, my bad), so I'll stay away from most criticisms, but here are a couple. So I had to buy three books for January Term, which cost $50 total. I sold all three back yesterday for a grand total of $8. ARE YOU KIDDING ME ST. THOMAS? This semester I rented all my books from and, although I wont be able to sell them at the end of the semester, I saved like $280 over the bookstore.

I also just finished reading Ultramarathon Man. Good book, very inspiring, and almost made me go out the door and run 30 miles. I'm probably not anytime soon, but how fun would that be? maybe I'm a masochist, but I think that would be awesome. I was thinking about checking out George Sheehan's book "Running and Being" because I want to read it, but second semester starts Monday, and I don't think I'll have time to read it.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I Am a Runner (And So Can You!)

The title is a parody off Stephen Colbert's book "I Am America (And So Can You)", but if you would like you can substitute "G- day minus 143/ How I started running and why you can start," but I think the title I picked is much more interesting. I've never read the book, by the way.

I don't know what you would call the beginnings in running. It all started in middle school when I would "run," under supervision from my Adapted Gym teacher before school in the weight room. You see, because of my AVM and subsequent stroke severely damaging my cerebellum, I had to relearn to walk first, then try and run. So, there I was, in the South View weight room, both hands on the treadmill handrails to make sure I didn't fall, churning out the 16:00 miles. This is probably where my contempt of the treadmill comes from, but that's just my guess.

After that, I started running with the Courage Center track team, and to be sure, I was a train wreck the first few years. Having a weak, maybe nonexistent cerebellum, I wasn't able to run straight so I was almost a sure- shot to false start every race by coming out of my lane at one time or another. However, I had a really great coach who was actually a St. Thomas grad and a Red Sox fan. So I think that was what kept me coming back twice a week- knowing that I could talk Sox with him week after week. Running wasn't something that came naturally to me- with an awkward gait, the left side that really did anything it wanted on account of hemi- parisis , and staggering around like a drunken sailor, I was a lost cause before I started. Yet for whatever reason, I suck with it- I'm not sure, but it was probably a combination of fear of failure and my mom forcing me to get out of bed. I wasn't fast, I was close to 15 seconds for a hundred, 45 seconds in the 200, and God knows how slow in the 400, if I could even keep it together for that long. I was slow, but getting faster in my group for sure. I had gotten my stride down, was a regular at practice, was sitting pretty finishing every practice interval in first, I even won a couple races at Junior National competitions.

However, I got put in my place pretty quickly. Two consecutive years, I had to miss the Junior National qualifying meet because of other sports obligations. I was thrown in a Bloomington Kennedy High School JV meet as an afterthought. I ran well enough to qualify for every event, but got blown out of the water in every event as well. Including, the 800. My coach convinced me to run it, but he wasn't at the track at the first High School meet I ran in, so I scratched out of it, hoping he wouldn't care. The next year, I still was afraid to do it, but my coach was there so I had to run it to impress him, if nobody else. In fact, I was scared to do everything. After last year's debacle, I didn't want to get shown up again, I wanted to pack it in, crawl in the equipment shed and cry. But I didn't. I ran and qualified for every race, but got blown out of the water again, no contest. My parents were really happy for me, and I wanted to be happy too, I really did, but I was apathetic for the most part. I went on to win some races, and lose some races in Tampa, FL, that year, but I really didn't care because I knew there were bigger fish to fry. I hate losing, and that fall from grace is never easy, but it hit me especially hard. To be winning on a national stage (however small, I thought it was the greatest thing in the world) to being blown away by JV kids was especially demoralizing.

I continued to go to track, and although I lost my coach, we had several new ones. One was a triathlete who held endurance in high esteem, and praised me for taking the sport so seriously. We did our warm up runs off the track, on streets, trails, whatever, which rekindled my love for the sport. The next coach we had was a charity runner, who scolded me for taking running so seriously, preaching to have fun, but to me that wasn't what it was about because there were guys out there that were faster than me and I knew I could beat them!

When I severed ties running for Courage Center, I went to St. Thomas student orientation. I hated it. Three days of staying in the dorms, attending boring info sessions, pretending everything was all hunky- dory. We had a lot of time on our hands. So, what do new college kids do when they're parents aren't around? Drink beers and make stupid decisions of course! Well, that didn't solve my problems because I can't drink due to the fact that my brain is wired nobody knows how. So, I decided to put on a pair of tennis shoes, a T-shirt, and gym shorts and tried to make a night out of it. Mind you, the farthest I've ever run before this was a mile or so. I ended up going, by my calculations, 5 miles in about an hour. I did five one mile loops around campus and got lost. I had tons of blisters. I loved every minute of it. I was hooked. Nobody was like me and I knew it, so I'd do something to make a name for myself- everybody wants to be somebody. I don't know if that's worked or not, but I'm still running, finding time to just be myself, not "that one crippled kid"for just one hour a day- the most valuable hour of my life.

When I talk about running, I always here people say "how can you do that?" or "I don't think I've run X miles in my life." Well, the point of this whole post is you can! and if I don't get that message across, sorry, I wasted your time, sue me. But the truth of the matter is, everyone's trying to get away from something, whether its a stressful class load, a broken relationship, or as in my case, the past. We all need time to be ourselves, be alone with ourselves without worrying about what our friends say, or who's dating whom, or what Taylor Swift wore at the Grammy's- we all need time to slow down, refocus and re prioritize. So, that's why you do it, the next question is how.

Get yourself a nice pair of running shoes- go to a specialty store, get a pair that's just for you, and cherish them like your baby. Put those shoes on, and just put one foot in front of the other. You know, in the book "Once a Runner," Bruce Denton said "the secret is this... there is no secret." There's no magic potion that will denote you as a runner, you just have to put in countless miles of training. It'll be ugly, and you'll fight for little victories. "Run to the corner of the street and back without stopping," or something like that. Don't get discouraged. The next thing you know you'll be running to the next street corner, and soon the next, and the next... Set a goal and strive for it, and when you reach it, set another one. Sure, you might look like you don't know what you're doing for the first week or so, but that's okay, having the courage to get out there is 3/4 of the work, running is the easy part. Yes, you might, and probably will fail, but hell, if you read this far you know it happens to the best of us. Read a book! get inspired! meet another runner and run with him, we don't bite. Runners are the nicest group of people you'll ever meet, and there's no "doing it wrong" to be afraid of. But above all, remember this: If a kid who was in a coma 14 short years ago all but pronounced dead, if a kid who has no cerebellum, if a kid who the best medical professionals in the world said couldn't walk, let alone run, you sure as hell can!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

G - day minus 145/ Frozen Half race report

There's nothing quite like waking up at 6:00 on a Saturday morning out of love. Most kids my age would be long asleep nursing hangovers, but not this guy. It was a 6:30 wake up call, which was later than I planned to wake up because my phone was set back an hour for some reason, but that was okay because I was set to leave my house at 7:30. I took a shower to wake up, had my typical race morning cup of tea and banana, stole a gel from my dad and was on my way. Check in was easy since there weren't that many people there, it still was a pretty good sized field though.

I met a bunch of my teammates in the skyway before and we went for a half mile or so warm up run. We ran on the sidewalks but it was real icy. I fell pretty spectacularly twice in a span of about 100 meters, then I decided to run on the roads- there were more runners than cars on the road before the race. Despite falling, I was feeling really good, so I just relaxed for the last half hour before the race and talked it up with the pace team. The race started, and it was windy with some rain, but other than that it was pretty warm.

I was wearing a Craft Wind Stopper long sleeve wicking top, with my TCRC singlet over that. On my legs I had on Brooks Wind Briefs, Paradox Running Tights, and my Nike Snake Shorts (I don't know what they're really called, but thats what the Run' N' Fun people called them, so we'll go with that.) Rounding out my attire was my wool trail socks under my Brooks Adrenaline 10's. The first three miles were pretty windy, but after that you ran into the riverbed where there are limestone bluffs on one side of Shepard Road and the Missisipi on the other, which blocked the wind pretty well; by this time I wasn't even noticing the rain. We came out of that wind tunnel, we could start to see the leaders come by on the other side of the road. It was pretty cool, we hooted and hollered and when I saw someone from my team I would high five him when he came by. The turnaround point was farther down the road than I thought it would be, it was near the first entrance to Hidden Falls park, right at the intersection with Cleveland Ave.

Going back was really boring, I was looking forward to running into the wind tunnel because the wind and rain were picking back up. The miles came really easy until mile 11 or so when Wes, who I was running with up until when dropped me when I pulled over to have a gel. After that the miles got really tough. There are some rolling hills up to Robert Street, and thus began the hardest half mile I've ran in a while. I haven't found an elevation chart, but I think the hill going up to the Securian building rises 300 or 400 ft over 200 meters. It was tough- my plan was not to run it.

As I made the turn on Robert Street, I started walking. There were two guys on the bottom of the hill, and here's how our conversation went:
Guys: "Come on big guy, over the top of that hill is salvation"
Me: "F--k that, that is not happening"
Guys: [almost dying laughing] "no, come on dude, make it your bitch"
So then I ran it, and then sprinted the rest of the course. I passed like 10 people in that half mile or so, which was pretty cool, although my legs felt like they were going to explode at any moment.

I had a couple blisters after my run, but that's because there was an unreal amount of water in the roads and it was bound to happen. Ironically, the last run ever in my GTS 10's I got my first ever blister in them. The only gripe I have with the race was that there were only 2 waterstops, and they gave out water bottles instead of cups which was pretty awkward.

Monday, January 18, 2010

G - day minus 151

We are officially in taper week 2010 phase 1. I say phase one because I'm going to do an official taper for at least two more races this year. I'm not so thrilled about it- I really don't know what I'm going to do with my life for a week with minimal running. Read more books I guess, and watch my sorry looking beard grow. I'm going to shave it off after next weekend, but I heard that it made you warmer, so I'll keep it for the half. That and my razor went dull so I had to throw it out and I don't have money for a new one.

Saturday I had to skip my long run which was kind of depressing. I work until noon Saturdays anyways, but yesterday I had to help my Grandparents for the rest of the day, so running didn't work in to my schedule. I went 10 on Sunday, but it wasn't really the same feeling since I don't consider 10 miles a long run. Why didn't I go further? I don't know, I was feeling pretty deadlegs, I hope I'm not overtraining...

Today I went 9 miles pretty easy. I went to the Pioneers and Soldiers cemetery and back on the Midtown Greenway trail. It was pretty nice outside actually, all except for the hill going toward the Lake Street bridge. There was ice on the path or whatever, but it was patchy and rough, the kind of ice that you can't slip on even if you tried. Same on the Midtown Greenway, although there wasn't that much ice or melting ice. I love to run that trail, I don't know if you could call it scenic, but its pretty cool being able to run through the city without getting stuck in traffic.

In other news, I came across a blog called Steve in a Speedo?! Gross! Its written by Steve who is a Triathlete from St. Paul. One thing about runners, and I've noticed this reading a couple back- issued posts, so like every runner, I feel like I know this guy already: I run some of the same races he has, I run most of the same routes. Except of course, he's a lot faster than me. I should probably work on what Philanthropy and brotherhood stuff we should do since I'm the chair of both, but I really want to finish Citizen Soldiers, I'm like 80 pages from the end, and I think I can finish it tonight.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

G day minus 155

Get it, its like D- day except G day for Grandma's... super lame I know. So, start the countdown now, because I just registered for the marathon this morning, although I probably shouldn't have because I've got to pay second semester dues for Sigma Chi soon and have no way to afford them, but whatever. I'm so excited for the half marathon in a little over a week, running is coming so easy right now. I may have nothing else going for me, but I'm clicking off the Miles like nobody's business. The only thing is Hockey Day Minnesota is the 23rd as well, so I'll get home from running and lay on the couch and watch hockey all day, it'll pretty much be a dream. Nothing really out of the ordinary to report in my running, except its been really warm, with a windchill above zero every day this week, which bodes well for my running for sure.

Wednesday I did a seven mile tempo run- my first tempo run in forever. I went one mile warm up, then four at around a 7:40 pace, then two cool down miles. It was tough, but I got through it. Really, it was harder going slow than going fast, but I think I looked like a trainwreck going at tempo pace because my form is admittedly terrible. Plus, there was a bunch of melting snow and nastiness on the ground which made it hard to get a footing.

Today might have been one of my best runs ever. I'm serious. It was 11.5 miles or so, my longest midweek run ever. I ran up to the U, down University ave. and then across the Stone Arch Bridge and back. That might be the greatest spot in the world, the Stone Arch Bridge- I love running across it. I can't wait until its nice outside, then it's going to be amazing running it, not to mention pretty romantic I guess when the sun's setting. I may incorporate that into my long run route this weekend, we'll see.

I was going to write a post on the Casey Martin v. PGA supreme court case because we were talking about it in ethics and I want to go into it more in depth, but I don't know if there are enough hours in the day. I have to read some of the Summa Theologae for like the sixth time in the sixth different class (how I haven't memorized that yet, I'll never know,) and make some dinner, so we'll see.

Half the calories, all the what?

I'm sure you've seen the Gatorade commercials for the new low calorie sports drink- oh, I'm sorry, the G commercials. Way to go Gatorade legal department. Anyways, who actually buys that? who are they trying to fool? apparently, a lot of people or else they wouldn't have made it. Riddle me this: If Gatorade is marketed as a sports drink, then it is targeted towards athletes. Athletes who, by the very definition of playing sports, expend hundreds of calories that have to be replaced. Which is precisely why they drink sports drink, correct? to replace calories which are tuned into energy. I don't see what the appeal of G2 is, but I guess there must be a market for it, or else it wouldn't sell. Who that market is is beyond me.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Wait a minute... 8x10%=.1, .1+8=8.8. Whoops.

There's a rule that says never run 10% more mileage than you did the week before or you'll get injured ingeniously called the 10 % rule, which was the calculation I did in the title, but don't blame me if I did the math wrong. Anyways, point is that I went from four miles per week two weeks ago to 8 miles last week, and 51 this week, and I didn't get injured. Honestly, not the greatest idea in the world, but I'm not going to run 9 miles a week three weeks away from my half marathon. It felt good though, hitting high mileage again. The only thing is when I'm not running, I'm eating. Running's an expensive addiction, but I could be addicted to worse things, right?

That's pre on the right, but if you didn't know that you probably shouldn't read my blog anymore. I don't know why I put a picture of him up, probably because he's a baller.

So, my 13 miler, somewhere in there. I called it 13.3 in my log because when I mapped it it came up as 13.5, but when I came back from my run I saw I double counted a little. Doesn't really matter, I'll remap it and see what we figure out. But the run itself went from the east bank of the U of M to the west over the Washington bridge, which has like a covered sidewalk above the road, which was weird, I've never run that before and am not sure I like it- it was like running through a sauna. Other than that, I bonked, hard midway through. I've done that before, and should have seen it coming because I have no energy gels and didn't eat that many calories the night before. I was pretty dehydrated as well, and started seeing stuff all over the place.

Funny story- I was oh, 10 miles in or so, and thought I saw this girl I knew from high school, so I stopped and started to talk to her, I mean I was really 'macking on her, or what I thought was her. This other runner taps me on the shoulder after five minutes or so, asks me if I'm okay, and hands me an electrolyte tablet. I answered that I was, and he's like 'are you sure, because you're having a really dirty conversation with a traffic pylon.' Whoops. I mean I finished the run up okay and in a respectable time, but I definitely could have taken that traffic cone home with me, I think she was really impressed.

Fun weekend, but lame at the same time. Friday night me and my roommate went to Midtown Global Market where we had to help my roommate's friend move a mixer from his house to his restaurant there. Before we did, my roommate's friend, who owns the restaurant hooked us up with some free food. His restaurant is called La Sirena Gorda (that's a link) and its like a seafood place with a Mexican flavor to it. I had the mero asado and the sopa de almejas and the hibiscus ice tea. It was delicious- If you're ever by Lake St. in Saint Paul, definitely pay him a visit. Saturday night I brought a girl down to Tom Reid's Hockey City Pub (also a link) to watch the Wild- Blackhawks game. After sitting through a sobering two periods that saw our boys down 5-1, the place just went crazy in the third. It was like being at the game. No one sat down, the service pretty much stopped for the third, OT, and the shootout because everyone had their eyes glued to the TV. It was so loud you couldn't hear yourself think. After Harding made the save on John Madden, everyone was hugging each other and shouting like crazy. We stayed for a while after the game, but then went home and fell asleep in pretty short order- I was exausted from my run.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I'm counting the miles, and cursing the signs in between

That's what I've been doing over the last couple days, just hammering with all I've got. Three hours of one class, four days a week, plus ten hours of work a week. For most other college kids that would mean 146 hours of getting drunk and arguing over girls. Not this guy. I'll let girls figure themselves out, thank you very much. I just love running this time of year, and I'm going to tell you why: because very few others do it. Like Dick Beardsley pounding his fists into his thighs every night, running through snowdrifts up to my knees probably doesn't do that much more for me, but it makes me feel like I've got an advantage, when that's really not the case. Plus, there's so much more to see during winter runs, and you have to go slow enough that you have a lot of time to look at the scenery.

Monday began my abbreviated half marathon plan with a five miler. I ran down the river road, across ford parkway and then back up Cleveland. Big mistake. The river road was really nice and ice free, however cleveland and even the better part of ford parkway were terrible. It was like an ice rink, but the key was to keep moving. Yes I fell a couple times, but I tried to go fast enough that I couldn't stay on a patch of ice long enough to slip on it. I made the same mistake on Tuesday as well. I tried to add an extra loop to put some extra milage on my Tuesday group run by going up cleveland and looping around St. Kates. Bad news again, although there are no fatalities to report.

After that I kind of figured things out. I did my mid week 10 miler mostly on the river road and university ave, which was really nice. Yesterday I did 8, which quickly turned into 9 and a half. I'll put the route at the bottom of this post, but it was nothing special. It was snowing relatively hard when I went out, and because of that I only saw like four runners out. It was cool though, the sense of community that runners have; I'd high five another runner when I saw him, and run along talking about nothing for a while- people I didn't know. The only dicey part was the Franklin bridge. It was runable, but icy, and the wind coming off the Mississippi was just brutal. The snow had drifted up along the running paths which made it slow going at times- more of a resistance workout than anything- but that's what made it so fun.

Monday, January 4, 2010

So, How do I restart things?

I apologize to all four of you guys who read this for not updating in a while. Its been like three weeks- thats pretty out of hand. I meant to take a break for a week off for finals, but after that I just got lazy. In fact, I only ran twice in two weeks of Christmas Break (I can call it that because I go to a catholic university.) Not such a good idea a month and a bit out from a half marathon, but whatever. So, honestly, what do I say after a three week hiatus? here's a couple things:

My roommate found a futon the day before new years. Who knows how he got it here but it looks super-legit once we rearranged our dorm. So, if you're looking for a good time, stop buy our dorm (but actually don't)

Oh, My race schedule for '10! Without consulting with my parents, or more important, my checkbook, here are the races I've scheduled myself to run:

January 23rd- Securian Winter Carnival Half Marathon

March 28th- Human Race 8k

April 24th- Get in Gear Half Marathon

May 17th- 10k Race

June 19th- Grandma’s Marathon

September 20th- Ft. Snelling 5x 5k relay

September 27th- Twin Cities Running XClassic 8k

October 18th- USATF Minnesota Cross Country Challenge 5k

October 24th- Jack’s Run 5k

October 30th- Monster Dash Half Marathon

November 14th- USATF Minnesota XC Championships 10k

So, there you go. I color coded them by priority, so blues are C races, Greens are B races, and Reds are A races. I may upgrade the Monster Dash to an A race, depending on how my training goes, since I know I can rock that course. Its a pretty ambitious schedule, I think, but I'm ready to get serious. This kid that I work with is an ultrarunner and he's only a year older than me. I can not let that happen. Plus this springs from two fifty mile weeks within three weeks that I felt amazing during. Call me crazy.

Marathon training!! yes, you may have noticed I've put Grandma's on my calendar. I'm upgrading myself from baby runner to big boy runner. My buddy's girlfriend, after running the TC10 mi said she wanted to run Grandmas. Well, my buddy was pretty hesitant to do it with her, so we were talking about it over work. To convince him, I told him I'd do it if he did, and he agreed, so February 15th training starts. Now this kid is an off and on runner, and he doesn't even have a pair of running shoes. So immediately I was like, "ohmigoshI'msponsoredbyBrooksIcantotallyhelpyoufindshoesIlovedoingthiskindofstuff"and BAM! next thing I know I hooked him up with a pair of GTS 10's.

So, I've thrown together a month training plan which seems overwhelming, but I've got a lot of time on my hands. So today called for a five miler. Terrible! Never run down Cleveland Avenue in Saint Paul, never, and here's why: they never shovel their sidewalks, so there's footprints in the snow, and then that freezes, so there's a sheet of ice covering the footfalls. They're ankle breakers, I'm telling you man. I fell once, and landed on one of my fingers and now its all messed up. It swelled up pretty bad when it happened, and now it hurts to move, although its getting better, so I'm not too worried about it.

One last thing: My J term reading list. I'm going to have a lot of time on my hands even with running and work and class, so here goes.

Citizen Soldiers: The U. S. Army from the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrender of Germany by Stephen E Ambrose

The Jungle by Upton Sinclar
Again To Carthage by John L Parker

I'm already 50 pages into Citizen Soldiers, its definitely a page turner