I had a terrific week and a few days ago I wrote a lot about the confidence I had in running long distance training or race runs. As I ran my 6 mile run today I thought and thought and thought about this but I didn’t know I was until I finished. I said to myself mid-way that I should go for ten miles because I knew I could do it and it would increase my long run distance build-up faster. I held back though. I thought to myself that I am 100% sure that even right now I could push through and battle out a marathon finish. I mean heck, when there is so much on the line (a finishers shirt!!! 🙂 ) you always finish. I know I could. Would it be really fun? Would it be “relaxing” and benificial? Would it foster good thoughts or bad ones? Then it struck me about training for me personally. My body responds well to pretty much any kind of training I think. I recover well. I can go a long ass ways. But it REALLY struck my that a conservative build-up (like the one I did when I first started running) did more for creating an ATMOSPHERE OF CONFIDENCE within my own mind than it did for creating a super fit person. Of course the super fit goes along with the running but the multiple ultras and marathons, the way I explained to myself in my writing how I thought and felt going into a race, the sense of almost scoffing at a distance (with respect though) because I had done the work in the trenches far before hand. It struck me that the ATMOSPHERE OF CONFIDENCE in my own mind was what I need to foster more than anything. THAT is what creates IN ME the ability to stick with it, the ability to enjoy it, the ability to endure much longer distances. In other words, I held back. I cherished the “small” 6 mile victory. I saw in my minds eye the red line on my confidence meter bump up because I finished my 6 miles in complete comfort and with a sigh of satisfaction followed by a smile. There is plenty of time to build-up to 20, 30, 40 mile long runs. I was reminded of the times where I had a 30 mile long run and I felt this exact same way when I finished: in comfort and with a smile. Not sore for days, happy I did it, confident I could do it again.
Posts Tagged ‘Marathoning
So I have been thinking about this blog post for about two months now and this last race pushed me over the edge to finally be able to articulate in some form what I have wanted to say. Most of you know that I think ultra-running parallels life in many interesting ways. One of the ways is the unexpected blow up. Just reading what I just wrote possibly brought up your own sacred times in life where you experienced a “blow up”. Not of temper, not of fire, but of life itself and the dreams that are contained within it. Times in your life that forced a renegotiation of your goals or path. We have all experienced this in some form or another. But what we do with these times is what counts the most. Avoiding times like these at all costs will not permit you to totally avoid them. We can plan, we can hope, we can pray, but these times occur regardless. It is possible to minimize the damage they can cause or possibly their frequency but one thing is for sure; they will happen. And this is ok. So I am going to write out one of these the best way I know how because I think you’ll like it and I just need to do it so here it goes. Picture your own life as I describe the situation in running form.
Ahhhhhhh……….my goal is ahead and I have worked so long and hard and dreamed for so long about it. I can taste it. I can almost experience my dream in my mind just pondering on the attainment of the goal. THAT place is so happy. I know it will be amazing to get there and the sense of peace I will have knowing that I got my dream. The journey has been long to get to the starting line but I am here. I start my race with such joy and comfort knowing what my future hours hold for me. Running in the breeze thinking how blessed I am to be able to be taking part in life like this. I meet people along the way that improve my experience greatly. I find out more about them as we run together. I know that they are most likely just for a time but at this time it is great to get to know them. As I am running I see the hills before me without fear because I know I can walk if needed or I can slow it down enough to conserve my energies. There is no rush really, I have a long race ahead of me but the excitement must be contained so that I don’t burn out on a good thing. I keep on just getting more excited that my dreams are ahead of my and they will become a reality. Of course there are rough patches during the run. My legs burn and I want to rest. My back is tight and I want to stretch. Many thoughts come during those rough patches that widdle my dream down to barely possible. Then the sun shines in through the trees and my life returns as I eat some more carbs. My mind awakens and I am in “the good” again believing all is possible. Time moves on and on as I run. I’m running, I’m running, I’m running. After a long time of pursuing this dream something happens seemingly out of nowhere. It’s the blow up. The blow up is a devastating crushing blow to my mind and emotions. The dream is shut down and the door feels closed. Survival is my only thought during a blow up. That and giving up completely. I know the end is near enough but the short distance from the present darkness to the light at the end of my great achievement appears to be many more miles than it really is. My thoughts change from delight in life and running to self questioning and sanity. “Was I stupid for trying to achieve and experience great things. Did I bite off more than I can chew. Will I hurt myself doing this. Am I in danger in this dark time” . All the negative thoughts that I was able to conquer regarding my dreams before are now so consuming that I cannot shut them up. Panic sets into me just as powerfully as the joy set in earlier in my journey. Will I be able to get what I want so badly out of this now that attaining my original goal is impossible????? This is where the magic happens in ultra-running AND life. I know I can’t make it to my original goal. I am already running longer than my goal finishing time and I have so far to go still. What am I to do with all of this. If I give up and quit I still have to walk to the finish because there is now way out of the race (life). If I keep going through this blow up it’s going to hurt really bad and I don’t want to hurt that bad anymore. If I just go slower I might as well quit! But then the renegotiating happens. At first I hate it because it feels weak like a cop-out but the courage begins to build again but for a new purpose. The original goal is now very far gone but the endurance and capacity to conquer the blow up now takes precedence. I find myself realizing that the journey could very possibly be more important than the attainment of the original goal. The the experience of this hurt, this “failure”, this “shame” could be worth millions more than crossing the finish line without scars. Although down and out, I forge ahead with a new but painfully real struggle. I must not let the “blow up” finish me. Then it hits me, “OMG………..the goal is not me. I’m me and I don’t have to let the circumstance finish me and in fact I can let it refine me.” My heart melts at the prospect of making it through this blow up as a better man, as a better more knowledgable runner. I find great peace in this painful experience knowing that just making it through to the other side of it means so much to me. And when I cross the finish line where my goal once sat waiting for me to take it, I am thankful for making it at all. I am thankful for that pain and hurt that even though at the time seemed so intense was really only temporary as compared to the impact it will have on my future runs and life.
So I think it is with life too. We all have goals and aspirations and dreams. Sometimes it is as though we are running through life so smoothly but we don’t see that huge cliff that drops off just ahead. That cliff that swallows up so much of what we think we have in us to give. That blow up that takes so much out of us that life seems terribly painful to keep at. So much is possible for us. So much is right there for us to become if we can renegotiate the path and the goals. In a sense I feel like even though we might not get what we originally wanted, we will get the best that is attainable by moving on through the blow up. Things get painful, and slow, and don’t work on our time line but keeping on develops in us such a tremendous power to achieve the most important thing. That is to achieve the depth and reality of the person that we can be.
I really only had one rough patch during the race and that happened at mile 22. A dear boy said, “Hey mister, do you want a chocolate cookie??” Well I knew that this did not do well with my tummy but how could I say no. I had three bites and threw it in the bushes when he couldn’t see. I almost immediately got blood sugar roller coaster mania and felt sick. This last for about 2 miles when it finally evened out. No cookies for me. Not that early at least. HAHAHAHAHA. Basically I ran all the flats and down hills at a nice relaxed pace. It is a VERY hilly race so when I got to any hill I just walked and talked with other runners so that I could learn about them and meet people. It was really nice not to push pace at all. I was also heavier during this race than any other race I had ever done but I fared well I would say. And my green shirt looked cool I think.
The guy behind me in the above pic was probably the only factor that added some “push” for me. He was in front of my most of the time and we also leap frogged often. But towards the end he was in front of me by a long ways and I was determined to beat him in. I did beat him in by a long ways in the end. I really picked up the pace for the last 5k. I was happy about this. LOL. I hit the marathon and 50k marks feeling very good. I did not struggle in this race to keep on really with the exception of the cookie incident. It is amazing how the beauty of the course takes you in and helps you to enjoy your time out there with friends. Speaking of friends, my friend was an awesome handler. She met me every 5 miles and because of this we met a fantastic family from the area. The guys wife also met him every 5 miles or so and she had about three weeks worth of yummy food in the back of her suburban. She was so kind to me and many other runs always stopping and asking if I needed anything to eat or drink. Thankfully, she had REGULAR COKE in the back and I took a bottle of it around mile 30 and it FELT GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. I took another one at 38 miles. I love regular coke during an ultra marathon. Because of the 100 year flooding that occurred during and after the race, I was blessed enough to be taken in by this family for about two days while I searched with my friend for a way back to the airport. This woman, named Lisa and husband mike, made me biscuits and gravy. I mentioned how much I loved them at the finish line and she invited us over to eat some that she especially made for me. HAHAHAHA. They are wonderful and I will never forget them for as long as I live. They made the trip so much more memorable.
I also have to say that having my friend meet me every 5 miles was such an encouragement. Even though I did not need anything, it was nice to know that someone was going to be waiting for me just to look at me with encouragement and tell me to keep on. I have never had this much support on this race before. It was really cool.
During this race I pondered on many things in my life. What was to become of it, what had happened in it, what I was going to do with all of it……………and it was really good for me. It was hard as I have a lot of memories with Audrey for this race. She had gone with me the last two times I ran it. This time, I had to work at making new memories, with new friends, with new strategies, and a new future. I have to admit, it was not easy at all. In fact, it was really hard, but I made it to the end with victory. I feel good about that.
I have come a long way in my running but not just physically. I have grown and matured through my running journey. Running has changed my mind and attitude right along with my body. I recently had a very special email conversation with my coach regarding how things are going for me lately. As you all know I have been having a hard time lately. To be honest with you all, I am completely amazed at the fact that I have stuck with running at all let alone actually completing the final months of 100 miler training. It is intensive for me to do this running as I work about 70 hours a week, have my own personal problems, and other stuff that regular people do. But to my astonishment I have kept at this. But it has not been easy I tell you. It has not been easy at all. Here is what I wrote today about my running because I could not finish my 10 mile goal paced run today.
that first three miles TOTALLY WIPED ME OUT. I am not joking either. It just wasted me and it was very difficult to do it and then to keep going even for the next three miles. Got little over 6 miles in for the day.
My thinking on this conjured up a couple of things. Of course, the PR of 55 miles in like 22 hours last weekend has its residual effects. I am sure that that had something to do with how I felt today but I don’t think that it is the main factor. My legs and body can take it no problem. That is what my body tells me anyway. Here is what I really think is going on.
I am really on the edge of what I can do right now. I know beyond any doubt that given different circumstances I could do more but I don’t have different circumstances. I have my life the way it is right now and I am me, just the way I am right now. I am EXTREMELY proud of what I am accomplishing through all of this. At times, to be totally honest, I don’t even know how I am still pushing on with running like this. I feel most people would have just settled for barely maintaining SOME running, let a lone pulling off distance PR’s every other week and such. HAHAHAHA. I don’t sleep enough right now and this is a huge factor in all of this. I am exhausted much of the time but I just can’t do it. Sometimes I can’t because I am talking WAY to late. Sometimes I just can’t because I am mad or I am sad or whatever you know. I am not ashamed, this is just how it is right now and it won’t be that way forever. So all of this said, we are doing a fantastic job taking me right to the edge of what I can do at this real and authentic point in my life. What I can survive in this last month of training for the 100. If it were another time, I would be able to finish every run just as planned but it is not another time. The speedier work just totally kills me. For some reason, the long runs are so much more manageable because I have one goal of finishing the distance, but the speed works my mind over because I have to maintain another goal during the run. I have exhibited vast amounts of persistance in my training, great endurance, great commitment, but I am pretty sure we have taken me to my limit for where I am at right now. I don’t so much mean what my body can do but just what I as a person can do at this time in my life if that makes any sense. This is a most glorious thing. It is what it is. I need to be at my limit for such a race. We are not injuring me. We are not making me overtrain into collapse and despair. I have never really had problems with finishing workouts as intended but at this time I realize that I am doing ALL I CAN DO. It really amazes me.
I thank you so much for bringing me to the edge. I think of it as the “red line” that you have talked about with world record marathon attempts. I am hovering just under that “red line”. I feel like this whole experience IS A PR for me. I different type of PR, but a real one nonetheless. Like you said before, I am ready for the 100 miler. Ready as I ever will be for this time. I will run that race with all I have. Maybe I am just realizing I only have all that I have. And if I don’t have it I can’t give it more. HAHAHAHA. This is true.
Please let me know if all of this is just bullshit and a cop-out. I don’t think it is though. It is the way I perceive what is going on but you are on the outside so you have a great perspective for me to hear. It might not all be perfect but I know I have vast amounts of ability to keep on keeping on my friend.
So those couple of paragraphs were right from my heart. I am on the edge. I am training right at this point where I know that I can’t do anymore. But I am thriving at the same time. I am glowing with accomplishment that I am sticking with this goal. I have stuck this out for basically two years. That is a long ass time to prepare for something. It is not the same like the years of preparation from college or things like that. I have trained for two years for an event that will be over in one day. That is it. No more. But like I said, I think that the true victory is going through this process in general. I took one step and one run at a time until I reached this point. Sure I have had many curve balls thrown into the mix but I stuck with it. Here are the wonderful words that my coach told me. He always has the best thing to say.
I have some ways I have to tell you… you have made a major breakthrough in running. But the breakthrough is not what you think. It is the fact that you are comfortable having “done all you can do” and come race day you will “do the best you can”. Too many runners are all or nothing… do or die… finish or else… PR or else. You have learned that the process IS IN FACT a PR for you. Huge breakthrough. And it ultimately reduces stress for race day.
You’re right, mentally and physically you have done and are doing all you can. No worries. The hardest stuff is done. Stay focused now on race day… relaxing and enjoying the process of the race itself.. and how it unfolds… with all its uncertainties….
This was such a wonderful thing to hear at this time in my life. Thanks for listening.
I had several days of heavy running. I feel really good about it. I discovered much about my body, my running, and my emotions. I had a great experience doing all of these runs. Extra special though was the LOOOOOOOONG one. I of course LOVE those long runs. I mean, sometimes I don’t look forward to them but they are so good for me I think. I have to concentrate and push and step and walk and run and eat and drink and do it all again and again. Pain comes heavy, easy , then nothing, then elated joy and amazement, then back do boredom, and on and on. As many of you have read my knee has been bothering me. I have never been injured. I am still not injured thank GOD. And for some odd reason I don’t push if I think I am about to be injured which has saved my running life many times. This wisdom is contrary to my normal obsessive desires but I have such a desire to be a life long runner that I don’t want to jeapordize my future in running. Not that I have a future competitively but I want to be able to run looooong in to the future you know what I mean. It is an important activity for mind and soul and body for me. Here is a picture of my knee and where it hurts. Then I will tell you about my 20 miler turned 14 and then my 40 miler.
So there is my knee. HA! I thought I did not have really hairy legs. Weird. Anyway, on Saturday night after work I had scheduled a 20 mile long run. I headed out and my knee hurt from the start. It does not hurt real bad but I know that my knee is there if that makes any sense. I had a couple of fast spurts across the street and a jump up to a curb that hurt VERY bad. This caused alarm in my little heart and I called it short at 14 miles so that I did not do any damage that would hinder my ability to run 40 the next day. Basically, I knew I could have finished the run if I shortened up my stride, went slower, and babied it but I did not want to chance it because the 40 is the staple of my running diet for the 100 mile race prep. So on to today. I got up at 7 a.m. I had a fabulous mental and emotional break through. It was exhilarating. I was so happy to realize the things that I realized. I felt totally liberated for the moment so I figured that would be a good time to go tackle the mental and physical trials of a 40 miler. Once again, I headed out and my knee hurt right away. It hurt a little more than the day before but I shortened up my stride and slowed it down a bit like I realized I could. One step after the next, I made it to the marvelous moment at 1:54 into the run. THAT IS RIGHT. YOU HEARD ME RIGHT. I RAN IN A BIT OF PAIN FOR 1 HOUR AND 54 MINUTES BEFORE THE JOY CAME. AT 1:54 ALL MY KNEE PAIN WENT AWAY. NO MORE. IT WAS GREAT. I proceeded to keep on keeping on until I reached home at the 41.5 mile mark. I had to go that extra 1.5 just to put a middle finger up to my current life events. I also went that extra 1.5 as a show of gratitude for those same life events. I hate them but I appreciate them. Does that make sense to you guys.
BIG MISTAKE OF THE DAY
I drink hammer nutrition perpetuem for my calories and hydration during my longer runs. I usually use the orange flavor. No problems at all. This time I only had the delicious flavor of LATTE. It tastes great but it has caffeine. Lots of it. So image drinking like a four shot every hour for 8 hours straight. I almost had a fit out there. At the 6.5 hour mark I could not take anymore in. It was just to much caffeine for me and I have a HIGH tolerance as it is. By the time I hit the 7 hour mark I was collapsing bad. No water, no calories, and still running. At the 38 mile mark I was dizzy, just about to throw up, and barely making it. I did make it though. I kept on. Readjusted. One foot in front of the other until I finished. Then I had a king size fast break candy bar. MMMMMM.
Total miles: 41.5
Total calories burned: 6,528
Total calories eaten: 2,080 (not enough)
Total hydration: 147 ounces
I was victorious again. I only have 27 days until the starting line of my 100 miler.
Well, well, well………. This marathon was a totally different experience. It was not even slightly the same as other marathons that I have run, even other Portland Marathons.
It was a mighty good challenge to say the least and I am very happy to say that I got a new PR and actually finished in like the top 10% of all runners. That was something very pleasing and new to me. I ended up with a time of 3:33 for the marathon. This is an improvement of 25 minutes compared to my former personal record marathon time. For that day, on that course, using the strategy I used; I COULD NOT HAVE GONE FASTER. That was it. I gave it my all. I have had to fight off the disappointment of not finishing the marathon with my goal pace range of 7:30-7:50 miles but I am trying to focus on the positive. In the last 10 months I have went from a 4:14 (9:41 miles) to a 3:33 (8:06 miles). This is a vast improvement and my hard work paid off very well.
One mistake that I made was to try and do the marathon using the strategy of the Pace Groups. They use an effort based model where each mile is run in a different time in order to create the same “feeling” or “effort”. This is not how I have practiced. I always run mile goal paced miles strictly within my 7:30-7:50 range. Using the pace group strategy I was doing some miles in the 6’s and that just was to fast for me even if it was only for one mile at a time. I normally stick to my plan, go slower on the uphill and make up for it going down the hill. This has always worked out well. I should have been more confident in my own plan. I may not have finished with a 3:20 (the pace group I ran with) but I would have probably finished better than I did. But like I said, I did the best I could with how things were in reality and I exploded my previous PR.
Running a marathon faster like this is totally different than what I am used to. It is not as enjoyable to run like this but it has it’s own special appeal and allure. It is very satisfying in it own way. For one, you run along side some very focused people and you are just going, going, going, very focused like. There are also WAY MORE SPECTATORS. This was shocking to me. Usually by the time I go by most of the spectators are gone because there person has already passed through. Being in the top 10% made it that 90% of the people had not yet passed through so 90% of the spectators were still waiting. And that was a lot of family and friends. It is fun though, they call out your name (it is on the bib) and it is motivating.
Overall I am pleased with how things went. I am also sore as hell today. Much more than normal.
I have been waiting for this moment now for a long time To be exact, I have been waiting and running now for 2 years and 7 months. For some reason 20 marathons is a major milestone in my head. It is a big deal to me. Not only is it a big deal to have 20 marathons under my belt, but this will be the first marathon that I really go for it. It is also neat that for my first goal paced marathon and for my 20th marathon, I will be doing my 3rd Portland Marathon. It is kind of an anniversary marathon I guess since it was my first marathon ever back in October 2007. My time in that first marathon was 5:45 or so. I can’t exactly remember now but I am pretty sure it was in the 5:40’s.
There are many areas of running that a person can see improvement and I am going to share some of the growth in running that I have experience. My goal is to inspire hope that sooooo much more is possible for us than we think when we are first starting out. I remember that when I first started out with a long run of two miles that I wanted so bad to someday be able to run a mile in the 7 minute range. Now I will be trying to run a marathon with 26 consecutive miles in that range. I hoped to be able to run a marathon in about 6 hours, now I will be running one in hopefully half that time.
My goal was to run injury free and still love running after a long time. I have done this. I have not sustained an injury nor have I given up the most basic of exercises. Despite my general sense of low self-esteem, I have been proud of what I have accomplished with running and weight loss. This is possible you guys. It is possible to be transformed from an overweight person who hates exercise to an athlete with many accomplishments. Here is a little bullet list of what is possible. At least this is how it worked for me.
- All out mile: 9+ min., 7:52, 7:07, 6:56, 6:41, 613, 5:41 is now my new PR.
- Half-marathon: 2 hrs, 56 min, now it is 1:32 (7:02 pace)
- Marathon: 5:45, and my new PR is 3:58.
- 50K: 5:35 to a new sub 5hr
- 41.2 miles: 7:51 to a new 6:56
- I breathe about as hard running 8:30 minute miles as I did running 13:45 minute miles in 2007.
- My legs heal faster and my soreness is gone on the third day compared to being sore for almost 6 days after my first marathon.
- I increased my long run from 2 miles to 50 miles. That two miles seemed just about as hard as 50 at the time, at least mentally.
I am a new man. I hope that this little changes that I have made can inspire you to believe that you can make sure strides yourself. Thanks for listening.