Posts Tagged ‘ultra marathon

16
Jul
10

Some thoughts and food update

I have given a lot thought to the marathon or longer races that I have been doing lately.  I enjoy the races very much and they give me a sense of satisfaction or accomplishment.  I feel good knowing I can run 26 miles with no problem, or finish a 50 mile race, or head down to Tennessee for my favorite Strolling Jim 40 Miler.  I have finished 26 races of marthon distance or longer but I have been asking myself why lately.  You see, I don’t want these races to be my “identity” or self-worth measuring stick.  I have been thinking that if these long races are creeping into the arena of meaning THAT, then I need to back off of them so that I can regain a healthier sense of who I am and what is most important to me.  I don’t want to get to a place where I think I am not in shape because I don’t want to or can’t run a 50 miler anytime I want to.  I don’t want to be thinking, “man, I only did 1 marathon this year I’m must not be a real runner.”  I am not there yet but I know myself and my tendency to do this so I have had to put myself into check regarding this.  So I have been considering drastically cutting back on these races so that I can begin to focus on more objective measures of success that define my fitness and my goals more accurately.  I am not looking to be one of the best marthoners or ultra-marathoners, I am looking to be in very very good condition as a runner who still enjoys running for the rest of my life.  Anyway, these are just the thoughts I have been having regarding this.

My eating went very well yesterday again.  I went to Taco Del Mar for dinner but had the calories and points to be able to do it within my plan.  It was very tasty too.  It’s friday and I don’t work tomorrow so I am finishing off my lunches today.  I feel pretty darn good physically and have lots of energy.  I will also run today, I think it is a marathon goal paced run for 5-6 miles.  I am just going to focus on enjoying that run for running’s sake.  Just be outside and enjoy the sensation of movement and experience the blessing of being able to run at all.  That’s all for today.

02
Jun
10

A life lesson from a “tuff” race!

 

photo by strangesports.com

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.

04
May
10

Strolling Jim 40 miler 2010 continued: 22 miles, chocolate cookie, heat, humidity, not good!!!!!!!!

Here I am out on the course. The man in front of me was 65 years old and very encouraging. He had lost 30 lbs and was going to lose 50 more. He said he was proud of me and "JASON!!!! Keep Going and NEVER stop running!!! GO GO GO!!!" That was at the tope of his lungs as I passed him. He also said I was a wise runner.

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.

Just another pic of me running from afar

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.

Adjusting my water bottles as I run in to meet my friend at a 5 mile marker.

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.

At this point I am starting to move a bit faster. It is getting closer to the end.

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.

19
Feb
10

Point of inspiration and rememberance.

Had a horrible day the other day.  It was just killing me how I have been eating, how I see my body, how I see my running, how I see myself in general.  Basically, had a bad day because of my self talk and just feeling bad for myself and so unconfident.  But……..I got an email from a good friend.  My good friend did not know I was basically in the pit of self hatred that day, but he was sensitive to it.  I can’t even express the importance of that email to me.  The only way I can explain it’s impact on me is LIFE CHANGING.  The email did not have any information that I don’t already know.  It did not have any secret to success.  It was just a PERFECTLY timed picture of my story injected into my life.  Basically, the jist of it was that he was telling a group of people about my journey from the start of WW all the way to DNF’ing at 63 miles in the 100 and through to present.  You see, my friend knows my “situation” in my personal life.  He knows that what I have accomplished during these dark days is nothing small.  So his email was a reminder to me.

It is so easy to forget what I have done.  That I have really done amazing things even for a person who has not lost 130 lbs.  He described the faces, the emotions, and the tears of the listeners of the real life story.  And by reading this, I was completely filled with life again.  It was like I was encased in this bubble or dark room but when I read the email I was removed from that fog and put into reality again.  I was humbled by the achievements that I had done.  I was appreciative of all the people who have helped and supported me along the way.  I was thankful for just not giving up on my own dreams while others were giving up on me.  I have a hard time, REALLY HARD TIME, having confidence these last three or four months.  I have been broken and forgot the stength that I really do have.  The ability to overcome.  I still struggle so much with loving myself, and accepting my body, and taking myself for who I am.  But yesterday I started out a fresh.  I ate perfectly.  I exercised well.  I thought well of myself.  Maybe………….I can start my new life on good terms with myself and achieve what I want for myself.  I want to achieve a healthy self respect.

10
Feb
10

Feet Before and After: Warning, not very attractive.

As you have already read, I DNF’d at 63 miles because my blisters on the balls of my feet was just to much for me.  I took pics before and after of my feet just to see.  The pics don’t do justice as far as the pain goes.  They really don’t look to bad in the pics.  I had deep blisters from my big toe to my little toe that completely covered the pad or ball of me foot.  On my left foot, the blistering was so bad that it was pushing my last three toes up.  I also had a bad blister underneath on of my toe nails so that my nail is actually still just sitting on the blister and not even attached to my foot really.  It will fall off soon and is just about to today.  Take a look if you want.

So you can see that my toe nails are already black from the training. They are just about to fall off even before the race.

Just another pre-race view of the feet

This is a pic of my feet at 40 miles. I was not having to many problems at that point. But the fine sandy dirt made its way into my shoes to cause a lot of irritation. i was cleaning my feet here and changing socks.

Just a little foot massage before I went to the medical tent for the blisters. You can see the bad ones under my last three toes as well as the one under my toe nail. This is at 60 miles

In the room after my DNF departure

You can see the medical tents handy work in this pic. They used second skin and duct tape. Much of the blister was deep so you can't really see it.

02
Feb
10

Shipping out!

I just packed up most of my suppllies and they are ready for next day air to Huntsville, Texas.  It was an excited step towards my goal but it makes me nervous too.  It should all work out very well though.  In my little box I have:

  • 12,000 calories worth of my food for approximately 30 hours of running.
  • I have a box of safety pins
  • Duct tape for blisters
  • Scissors
  • Towels
  • Water bottles (4 hand held ones)
  • 90 electrolyte tablets for approximately 30 hours of running
  • Extra pair of shoes to change into around mile 60
  • Two boxes of bandaids
  • One new container of vicks vapo-rub for chafing needs
  • Two boxes of Rolaids
  • One bottle of Advil

That is all I can remember at the moment.  It will be an exciting journey to be sure.

16
Jan
10

An amazing realization for me and running!

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.