Monday, June 23, 2014

Half Way There

So, in the three days that included yesterday (since I last blogged), I have run 8 miles, 7 miles, and 13 miles.  Yesterday’s 13 miles was nice as it was the furthest I’ve gone on one run since I did 14 on the day before Mother’s Day.  That’s a long time to go without hitting a half marathon distance.  But that’s okay.  The 13 miles today run as 3 by myself (warm-up) and 10 with my long time training partner (passing one other pair of runners three different times on the NCR trail) brought me to 1,000 miles total for the year.  Before I go and reflect on that, I will explain how I passed one set of runners three times.  In short, I ran from about the half mile point on the trail up to the two mile marker and back to get three miles as warm-up.  On my way back, I passed two runners just before the mile marker.  My running partner was already there when I got back so after sending a quick text to my 18 year old we turned around and headed back out on the trail.  We were running a pretty solid sub 8:30 average—a bit faster than this other pair.  So, we ran past them headed up to the 5.5 mile marker.  And we passed them again as we (and they) were returning to the parking lot at the half mile point.  I’m not sure if they thought I was totally crazy.  They realized how fast I was running.  So did another pair who were setting up a water stop at around the 2 mile marker and then were sitting on a bench at the parking lot at the half mile marker.  They commented to me and Joselyn that we must have been going pretty fast as they had just gotten back by driving.  Of course, the drive is longer than the run.  And they were not yet in the car as Joselyn and I ran past.   

That leads me to think about six different things.

  1. Where am I on the 2000 mile quest.  Obviously, at mile 1000. But where on the map to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico am I?
  2. What are the nearest Catholic churches?  Where I am there is not a lot right on the roads I am on.  But it is interesting to see what is nearby.
  3. The very different way I accumulated 1000 miles by June 22 this year compared with how I accumulated 1000 miles on June 30 last year.
  4. The fact that I registered for the Philadelphia marathon and put down 3:10 as my goal time.  Today’s miles were run as 3 and 10.  That sends me looking for scripture inspiration.
  5. With the thought of scripture, I consider what I heard in church this morning.
  6. Plus one comment I heard on a radio program this morning about letting ourselves have a time each day to be purposeless and timeless.

Let’s begin with the easy one.  On the map that I created with 2000 miles by walking from St. Pius X in Towson, MD, to Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Truth or Consequences, NM, I am on Lowell Williams Road in Linn Creek, MO. I am about to turn onto A-68.  Pretty much the middle of nowhere.

When I search for Catholic churches in the area, what comes up?  Two different St Anthony churches sort of nearby.  One in Camdenton and one in Iberia.  In any case, St Anthony is the saint to whom many Catholics say a prayer asking for intercession for finding something.  Whether there is anything other than superstition there is not for me to judge at this time.  What is interesting is that while someone running with no purpose out in Linn Creek might seem like they themselves are a bit lost and need to be found, I’m actually feeling less lost than I have in a long time?  Is life perfect?  Of course not.  But all that is good about my professional life (that was good a year ago) and all that is good about my running while (which I think is better than ever) and all that is good about my kids’ lives (which has more certainty than a year ago) and all that is good about my church life (a new ministry role for the first time in a long time and the right combination of ministries) and all that is good in my spiritual life (mostly writing this blog) and all that is good in my married life (stronger than it has been in a long time as we move ahead to a new life with only two kids at home regularly starting this fall) is good.  A year ago I could have said that some parts of my life were feeling very lost.  Now, I still have a ways to go to find balance.  To make sure that everything gets done.  To make sure that I fulfill all responsibilities.  But I am not feeling lost at all.

Accumulating 1000 miles.  Last year, I ran the Boston marathon in April for 26.2, plus three workouts of 20+ miles, and a couple 18’s.  That is more than 15% of the distance in just 8 runs.  I was still running with Back on My Feet a lot and I was trying to mix it up a bit.  That is much different from this year.  My longest this year is 16 miles.  And I don’t think I’ve done that more than once.  I have run a lot of days.  I have spent less time driving to run.  About the only place I’ve driven to run is the NCR trail.  Perhaps a couple times from the store in Timonium.  I don’t think I’ve been to Loch Raven this year.  And I have run the old B-10 course that goes through Druid Hill Park just once.  So, a completely different type of consistency.  A lot more 6-8 mile runs.  A lot of time spent just putting the miles in.  Just three 5K races.  It is a much more liberating and liberated feeling.  Of course, I have a purpose—stay fit  But no particular place to go.  A lot more “making up the course as I go along”.  And a much different feeling.  I may not be as fast as I was last year (at least based on my race times so far this year) but I am fitter, I have a better sense of how important running is to me.  And I have continued to develop a better sense of just how to work in running around the other things in my life that are ultimately more important to those who are important in my life no matter how important running is to me.  Another thing about 1000 miles is that it is half way to my goal.  I’ve thought a lot about halves recently. Celebrating 22 years of marriage at age 44—I’ve been married half of my life.  Depending on what life expectancy calculator you use, I have lived just a little over half my life.  What will I manage to do in the second half that I haven’t done in the first half?  Hopefully lots of things but given how much I’ve already crammed in, it will be interesting to see what happens.  Finally, this week we will be running half miles at half marathon pace for our track workout.  So, half is a good thing.  And with my focus on positivity, I always see the glass as half full rather than half empty.

So, I stopped here yesterday and I’m picking up on Monday morning with the remaining three topics.  So far, the key is that 1,000 miles in just 173 days has changed how I look at the importance of running, the way I run, the way I see running interacting with the rest of my life, being positive, and being the employee, father, and husband I am supposed to be. 

I hope that others find a similar return from their running or other fitness activities in terms of how it can improve their well-being and their basic outlook on life.

So, on to the last three topics.  I ran the workout yesterday as 3 and 10.  I also put 3:10 as my time for the Philadelphia marathon.  I would love to hit 3:12:08 (a 7:20 pace the whole way).  To get myself down into the 3:10 range, I would have to take off another 3-4 seconds per mile.  The 7:20 per mile is something I’ve held for 20 miles.  Just have to hold it for the last 6.2.  And taking another few seconds per mile off, we will see.  But the key here is that I turned to scripture for some inspiration from 3:10.  I noted Acts 3:10 in the missal yesterday.  “they recognized him as the one who used to sit begging at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, and they were filled with amazement and astonishment at what had happened to him.”  (From the USCCB website.)  In any case, this is at the end of a story about Peter and John curing a man who was “crippled” from birth.  He had been begging for alms all his life.  The man’s feet and ankles were described as growing strong.  This story about strength and being helped by faith and by saintly individuals rings true with me.  The strength in light of my running is obvious.  But there is emotional strength as well.  And there are the many people—coaches, fellow bloggers, friends—who have helped with both physical and emotional strength over the years.

What did I hear in church yesterday?  It was the feast of Corpus Christi.  It was interesting as the Old Testament reading mentioned manna, a food the Israelites were not familiar with.  In the Gospel reading, the idea of real presence (the Catholic belief that we participate in the body and blood of Jesus through the Eucharist) was explained—another story of a food that the people were unfamiliar with.  The homily given by our Deacon explained that well.  And it reminded me of connecting the dots between readings.  And he even used the phrase nourishing the soul to talk about what the Eucharist does.

Finally, the comment about purposeless and timelessness.  The program is OnBeing.  It is a program about religion and philosophy.  The host was interviewing someone who was talking about play.  I was listening to this after my run and thinking about running as play.  Is it?  It is purposeless?  In the scheme of wanting to run a faster marathon, no.  In the scheme of weather my running matters to anyone other than me?  It is pretty purposeless.  And although I can say that I was looking at my watch occasionally while running yesterday, it was a time of relative timelessness.  Talking without worry about how long it was taking.  And sometimes running in silence.  The last mile and a half or so was that way. Just running.  On the NCR trail there are some notable things to see but it is quite possible to lose one’s sense of time and place.  It really is an incredible meditative experience.  Especially when running at a pace that was enough to be “work” but not so much that I was breathing hard. 

So ends my epic blog entry.  Now, it is time to get on with a new day.  A new run.  A new attitude.

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