Random Rantings and Ravings from a Slow-Poke Runner in the Heart of the South. (A Weeekly (sort of) Blog about running and just about anything else)

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Curse of the DOWN !!!!!!!!

To get the full effect of this blog entry, you need to read the title in a low and echoic voice and follow up with an immediate Jaws-like, "da duh.........da duh................da duh da duh da duh da duh!"

What you are about to read is true. Nothing has been changed to protect the innocent.

I discovered this morning that my running habit has often been affected by a curse. It is the curse of the down! (Repeat the first paragraph if you'd like.) You see, my wife and I bought a down comforter approximately 12 years ago. While the duvet covers have changed through the years, the soft, warm, plush, (did I mention soft?) comforter has remained the same.

I was all geared up to start the morning off right. I had my coffee set to go off at 5:15 in the Quisinart, gym bag packed up, lunch prepared, and clothes laid out. My alarm went off promptly at 5:15 am. I actually remember that I was having a dream about terrorists. I was working with an individual of a particular religious persuasion and trying to determine if he was being honest or buying his time to carry out his evil plan. It was a true "24" dream and not the kind you particularly want to go back to sleep for.

I pushed my arm outside of the covers and hit the snooze but then, suddenly, the down comforter wrapped around my shoulder, pulling me back into a spoon-like position. I could not escape its grasp! Before I knew it, I was fast asleep.

No more than ten minutes later this scenario would be played out all over again. The down would tease me by allowing me to get one arm out just enough to hit the alarm but then suck me back into its clutches like a helpless bug in a toilet flush. Another ten minutes later its “game” would begin all over again.

It wasn't until an hour and a half later that I finally escaped its evil…although…oh so comfortable grasp! As I staggered down the hallway I could almost hear its goose feathers swishing in glee that another workout had been thwarted.

I got ready, repacked my gym bag with my workout clothes, and headed out the door. I would have the last laugh! I would work out after work! My new plan worked out flawlessly except that a newly formed hole in my sock began to cause a blister and cut my run short. Who knew all these fabrics work together? But I have to figure out how to break the powerful grasp of the down each morning.

Tomorrow is a bike day and I plan to preload my bike on the trainer tonight so I will be all ready in the morning. I have 2 hours of Cyclism Sundays on the DVR I can watch as I ride. Tomorrow I will try a new plan and set TWO alarms to get up in the morning, with one all the way across the room. Tomorrow the marathon starts all over. I just hope I can break the curse!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Building the Base

I ran an easy 14.5 miles this week. After taking off several weeks of running...uh...who am I kidding.....a couple MONTHS of running, I am focusing on a slow build for my 10K race in May.

I ran only 14.6 miles this week but feel like I had some pretty good runs. I finished off this week with a nice 5-miler on a beautiful 50 degree sunny day. I will build up about a mile and half each week up to a peak of 23 weekly miles, two weeks before the race. In about four weeks from now, I will add in one day that will include either a tempo run or speed work and a long run each week that will cap off at 8 miles.

I have been actually riding the bike more lately, completing a pretty easy 15-miler with 7 church friends last weekend. Cycling takes me back to my childhood and feels almost more like playing than exercising. Plus, I have gotten really into "Cyclism Sundays" on Versus so I can imagine myself in the pelton when I am out there on the roads.

I plan to ride an easy 10 miles tomorrow but I am always a little scared to ride around here with all the crazies and narrow roads. The town I live in is a great community but there are no bike lanes or designated routes. I know I am always taking a chance when I go out there but I enjoy the rides.

I hope everyone has a great St. Patrick's Day!!!

WEARING THE GREEN! Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, March 05, 2007

The REAL Marathon

I know.

It has been three months of no posting whatsoever from mississiprunner.

After completing a life long dream of finishing a marathon, he just vanished off of the face of the earth. What happened?! Did he die? Got hit by a car maybe? Well, he lives in Mississippi so maybe he got attacked by a deer! No. It was nothing like that. I probably have lost any regular readers of this blog, but I think I its time to describe just what happened; if no one else, but for myself.

The marathon was a great success for me. I had thought about trying to finish a marathon for years and last December, my dreams came to fruition. Nagging injuries and burnout affected my training in the waning weeks and my time suffered from what I had hoped, but it did not serve to dampen the joy of finishing the distance for the first time.

Those of you who have trained hard for a race for weeks or even months, know all about post-race depression. It is kind of like postpartum depression but without the baby. (Just joking for all those who have suffered or is suffering from postpartum!) But seriously, there is a let down after a big race when a runner wonders, what’s next? At least there was for me anyway.

I had suffered though ankle and foot pain through several weeks of training and the marathon distance brought on a brand spankin’ new pain on the outside of my right knee. I knew I needed a few weeks of rest, possibly with no running at all. With the holidays coming up and the business of life at full steam, it was easy to sleep in every morning and enjoy the gratification of being a sloth – knowing, of course, that I was actually a runner just on a short furlough.

I didn’t intend for such a long layoff. I started running again a few weeks later but the lack of a goal revealed little motivation. The injuries were still present and whispered in my ear that a few more days off were really necessary. I went through the Christmas holiday and New Year’s with very little running to show on my log. In fact, the last two weeks of December, I ran less than 20 miles.

I decided I needed a new goal. I have always had an interest in triathlons. I have a road bike and thought that this may be just what I needed to get my motivation back. I logged 12 miles the first week of January with some cycling mixed in. Then the flu bug bit me, zapping my energy for a full week. A visit from corporate followed shortly after that, gaining my full attention. Continued work stress and a heavy load of outside activity seemed to take over my life and take away my ability to avoid the snooze button every morning.

I was starting to lose the daily battle of getting out the door to run. Even more, my eating habits were on the slide. My appetite had increased significantly throughout my months of training for the marathon. All the full fat foods and sweets during the holidays, New Year’s eve parties, and college bowl games were REALLY taking their toll. My clothes began to fit more snug and the poor eating habits continued on, reeking havoc on my energy levels. I had lost my desire to eat right, lost my desire to exercise, and lost my desire to run.

What happened? I didn’t really know but I tried to exercise again, starting on the “Ab’s diet” and the corresponding exercise program in early February. I was shocked to discover that 3 miles on a treadmill seemed hard. I slumbered off each time worrying to myself that I had lost all the endurance I had trained so long and hard for. Could I really have lost it that quickly? I didn’t have the answers and knew I had lost motivation. I wasn’t blogging, not even logging in my runs.

Then came another big illness, strep throat. I thought the flu was bad but it doesn’t have anything on its big bully, strep throat! Apparently, adults suffer much greater than children do when they get strep throat; or at least that is what my doctor told me. He said I tested higher on the strep test than anyone he had ever seen. In other words, I had it bad! Another week of absolutely NO running. The week after, I found it even harder to start up again.

My wife began to question, “Uh honey…when are you going to start running again?” She recognized the behavior from a time I weighed 80 pounds heavier. She worried that I was returning to my old patterns that would pack on the pounds once again.

I was getting slower, fatter, and lazy. I looked at the calendar. The month of March had arrived. OH CRAP! Where had the weeks gone? I was hoping to compete in a sprint tri in March but I am not even sure I could finish 3 miles anymore!

That is when it hit me.

I had completed the St. Jude Memphis Marathon in December of last year. But I had discovered that I was currently losing what is my REAL marathon in life. The real marathon was not the one I ran last December or the ones I hope to run in years to come.

The REAL marathon is the one that begins every day with the sound of the alarm at 5 am.

It is the marathon I face as I strap on my running shoes and step out of the house with temperatures under 40 degrees.

It is the marathon I face at 3 pm this afternoon when I stand in front of the snack machine with hunger pains, staring down a snickers bar, playing with the change in my pocket.

It is the marathon I face at 9 pm this evening when I am tempted to empty a half roll of Chip’s Ahoy’s or fill up a mixing bowl full of Fruity Pebbles. It is the marathon I face at 10 pm when I am tempted to stay up a little late watching television, rather than get the sleep I need.
It is the marathon that starts over the very next morning.

It is a marathon I have to face each and every day due to the genes I inherited, the upbringing I experienced, and the lifestyle I have lived.

I know we all face our marathons. Your marathon may sound similar to mine. And I didn’t even mention the spiritual marathon we all face if we are people of Christian faith.

See, I thought I had finished my marathon in December. Thought I had the finisher’s marathon to prove it. But in reality, it was just a corner I turned, or maybe a hill I topped in the REAL marathon I run each day.

So I sat down this weekend with my wife and wrote out a new running plan to compete in the Gum Tree 10 K this May. 10 weeks of running. I entitled it, “The Return”.

The last few months? Let’s call it a pause at a water station.

Now it’s time to start running again.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1 NLT