Sunday, August 31, 2014

NCR 20 Mile Run--Race Report

Today, my bib number was 97 for the Charm City Run NCR 20 Mile Race.  I was on the last bus from the shopping center at Ashland and York in Cockeysville up to the starting line near the Maryland/Pennsylvania border.  I lined up a few rows back and settled in.  I ran a 2:29:57.  Life is good.  I met my goal and may never run this race again unless I have reason to pace someone else some day--for instance if one of my sons gets into running.  This is not a great weekend to have a 20 mile race.  But I've done it four times.

That is the short version.  Mission accomplished.  Near even splits (I ran the second half about 40 seconds slower than the first).  Continue to prepare for the marathon in Philly.

Now for the longer version.  

Today began with doing dishes from last night and walking the dog.  Then, I made a shift in what I was going to wear.  In any race before when I'd carried Gu or Stinger supplements, I'd worn shorts with big pockets.  The only shorts I have with big pockets are made of thick material and are heavy.  I got some advice to take some extra safety pins and pin the packets to my shorts.  Placing them on the inside to rest again my hips.  (Although the person giving the advice realized I have less "hips" than she does and that I don't have a sports bra to attach an extra one.)  That worked amazingly well, except for the one of the two packets I had during the race that ripped off the safety pin but didn't rip and I had a heck of a time with one wrist still not 100% mobile trying to get it open.  Nevertheless, it didn't cost me.

Then, I made the decision to race shirtless.  I've worked out shirtless before.  But I had never raced shirtless.  That meant attaching the number to my shorts.  Worked pretty well in the end.

With those adjustments taken care of, I consumed one Stinger and I drove to the shopping center at Ashland and York Roads.  There was no line at the porta-pottie, so I took a quick bathroom break.  I also took a quick selfie to show where I had my number pinned.  Then I waited.  I was there before 7 and didn't see a bus that I thought was supposed to come at 7.  There were a lot of people there for the bus that showed up at 7:15.  They got us all on but adults sat three to a seat.  The person sitting next to me in the very back row (which was made for even 2 kids at most) was in training for the JFK 50.  And many of the last people on the bus--mostly runners from Navy--ended up in the aisle.

The bus ride to the start took nearly 30 minutes.  The only good thing was that there was no line at the porta-potties there either.  Quick second use.  Another Stinger.  Jogged to the starting line.  I had forgotten how far up the trail it was.  At the starting line, I had to wait for the rest of the people from the bus to make it up.  By the time we started it was 8:09 according to my watch.  I saw some running friends I had not seen in a long time at the start.  That was great.

So, we began.  I jockeyed for position in mile 1.  One downside of having to walk up the trail to the start is that people who don't belong near the front based on their expected pace end up there.  Not too big a deal.  But not ideal.  We ran back past the parking lot where the buses had been and continued down the narrow section of the NCR trail.  First mile tends to be a little fast.  I ran it in 7:19.  Time to be a little more cautious heading into mile 2.

So, I really found my pace in mile 2.  I was not doing much passing at that point.  I was being passed by people.  I had to remind myself of one thing.  This was my race--not theirs.  Just stick to the plan. The goal was under 2:30.  While I believed I could run faster as that is only a 7:30 mile and I've held 7:20 for 20 miles in the past in marathons, I have not run marathons in which the starting temperature was 75 degrees with 89% humidity.  Second mile--7:29.

So, now I knew that the goal was just to hold that.  Still running along largely tree-lined paths, I continued to be passed by people here and there.  Some of whom would pull away.  That was okay.  Mile 3--7:31.

Mile 4 was, I believe the first water stop.  Took a Gatorade and a water. Drank the Gatorade.  Poured the water on myself.  Felt refreshing.  Life was good.  Mile 4 at 7:27.  Coming in just a bit under 30 minutes for 4 miles.  Exactly on schedule.

Mile 5--continued to be passed here and there.  Just kept running my race.  (You will see how much it became just "my' race later on.)  Ran it in 7:29.

Mile 6--first attempt at pulling a supplement off a safety pin.  Worked wonderfully.  Life was still very good.  Cruising along.  Ran it in 7:19.  Getting a little ahead of myself.  Don't know what made my break pace there.  But not too out of control.  Two years ago when I did this, I think each of the first six miles was faster than that and I went downhill starting at mile 12.  

Mile 7--7:24.  Not much to report.

Mile 8--this was the last time anyone passed me on the course.  I ran it in 7:26.  

Mile 9--I started to rein in people who were out ahead of me.  I don't know how many I picked off between the end of mile 8 and the end of the race, but it was nice that I was picking off and not getting passed.  I picked off some runners whom I know sometimes have better times than I do.  I picked off at least two Navy runners.  I picked off a couple people who had been just ahead since the start.  And I picked of one or two who had been way ahead at some point.  In any case, as I reached the trail mile 10 marker and the race mile 9 marker, I ran a 7:32.

Now it was time to really concentrate.  The easygoing nature of the pace for the first 8 turned into a battle of mind over temperature.  Mile 10 was another 7:32, but I reached the half way point with a little cushion between me and 1:15--half of the 2:30 I hoped to run.  During that mile I passed the point at which one training partner who was not running the race might have stopped out to say hi but there were other things to do on a Sunday morning.

Moving along, mile 11 was fine and I ran it in 7:27.  During mile 12, I consumed Stinger #4 for the day.  Maybe a little earlier than I should have.  And this one was messy as I had to try to open it without having the full use of my left wrist--still in a brace.  In any case, I came through in 7:26.  

 Up to this point everything felt fine.  Miles 13 and 14 were run in 7:26 and 7:25  Pulling a little faster.  Much like I had moved to a faster pace later in my training runs during the past several weeks.  Maybe a little too early.  Keys at this point: I passed the half marathon mark just around a 7:30 pace.  I made it through the first 14 in under 1:45.  Not just to hang on for the last six.  This was taking more concentration every mile.

So, mil 15 was okay at 7:32. I still felt like I was cruising mile 16 but apparently ran a 7:39.  Still, I came in under two hours but now the work got really hard.

Mile 17 was 7:43.  I slowed down particularly at the end as I passed the very familiar 2 mile marker on the trail.  I tried to get myself going again as I was slowing.  My stomach wasn't sloshing but maybe I had taken in too much liquid as I was getting a cramp in my side.  Mile 18 was 7:50.  I thought now that it would just be about finishing.  Maybe beating the 2:31 and change from three years ago.  Mile 19 has seemed short ever year I've run this race.  But my Garmin said 7:48.  And mile 20 (which is a full mile but my Garmin only recorded 0.93) was run at a 7:52 pace but in 7:17.

So, is the course off or is my watch off?  I don't know.  What I do know is that this was my PR.  I ran it in under 2:30.  Aside from any minor misplacement of the start or the turn around on the course, this is the same course I've run three times before.  So, I achieved my goal.

What else did I learn?  I compare this with the same race two years ago.  Temp was about the same to start although they day didn't get as warm two years ago.  I went out much faster and died by mile 12 and took over six minutes longer.  Today, I went out more slowly and held until mile 17.  And while I slowed down it was not by as much as two years ago.  Going out with a plan and sticking to the plan works much better than trying to excel too early.

Where does this put me? 1456 miles from the start of the year.  Still on US 54 heading west.  

What else did I think about?  I thought about not giving in.  I thought about all the advice from Shannon.  I thought about pushing with my multiple training partners.  I thought about my tattoo and how St. Sebastian didn't give in.  And I thought about Hebrews 12:1 that I saw posted this morning before the race and that is the motivation for a group called Team Persevere that I have mentioned before:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us (from USCCB website)
I also thought about the second reading this week (Romans 12:1-2).  That says:
I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God,
to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,
holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.
Do not conform yourselves to this age
but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
that you may discern what is the will of God,
what is good and pleasing and perfect.   (USCCB website)
My personal spiritual search is for what is right.  Am I perfect?  No, of course not.  But my search is through my running.  The relationship between my running and my spirituality.  My transformation given a focus on serving God and not doing all the things that the current society suggests but to focus on excellence.  

Finally, my bib number (that I started with) was number 97.  If we look to Mark 9:7, we find:
Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; then from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him. (USCCB website)
This serves as another note to myself to focus my spiritual search in the same way that I focus my running.  

And, last but not least, with the focus comes joy.  I want to share two pictures.  They show the joy with several fellow Back on My Feet runners who I actually know through several things each and then with a fellow blogger who writes So What?  I Run.  These pictures are after each of the four people in the pictures ran 20 miles.  Were we tired?  Yes.  Were we covered in sweat?  Yes.  Were we achy?  Yes.  But we were joyful at the completion of the race and what we had accomplished.  I should have gotten pictures with a few others--next time.

To conclude--today I focused and persevered.  As long as I continue to focus and persevere in both my physical and spiritual and friendship pursuits life will continue to be amazing.

Friday, August 29, 2014

What am I Made Of?

So, the last time I blogged I had completed an easy 6 to reach 1408 miles.  On Tuesday I did a progression workout still feeling slightly tired legs from Sunday's 18.  But I was able to do it with miles ranging from 8:15 down to 6:30 in 15 second increments with the last at 8:00.  I stopped twice rather than once (once, because the treadmills at the Y only allow me 60 minutes maximum, and the second time because I must have hit some control that stopped it).  What was nice is that neither time (especially after the second) did I have difficulty getting started again.

Then I ran an easy 7 on Wednesday.  A nice course mostly east at west going no further north than Walker and no further south than Belvedere.

Then, there was yesterday.  Yesterday, I had a track workout scheduled.  I ran the 2.3 miles over to the at an 8:54 pace.  I felt really sluggish.  I had had several long days at work.  I had had a late and very heavy dinner the evening before.  I just wasn't sure if I could meet the goal that had been set: 10x400 at 1:27 +/- 2 seconds.

I took off my water belt and set it by the side of the track.  I took off my shirt and set that by the side of the track as well. I mean--it was 73 degrees at 5:35 in the morning when I was getting ready to leave.

I ran a warm up lap.  Nice and easy--just under two minutes.  Then, I took off.  First one--1:27.  It was great.  I concentrated. I kept my mind completely on what I was doing.  I did not run too hard.  I did not push myself too much.  And I did not look at my watch as I rounded the track.  It felt, just right.


Second one--1:27 again.  Same thing.  I was amazed at the consistency.  As I completed my 200 meters of rest after lap 2, I hit the wrong button.  Distracted but not deterred, I corrected my watch and did the third one--1:26.  Stopped purposefully for a small drink of water, ran an active rest 200 meters, and ran the fourth one--1:27.  Feeling good I went on to do the fifth at 1:26, the sixth at 1:26, and the seventh at 1:27.  I thought about taking a drink but waited until after number eight--1:27.  Number eight was tough.  My legs were starting to yell at me after five days of running in a row that included the harder but not raced 18, the progression, and now this.  Number nine--1:26 again.  By that time, I was feeling confident but didn't want to push the last one too hard--1:26.

So, for a workout where I had a watch to time the laps, but I didn't look at my watch except at the end of each lap, I had run the most consistent times ever.  The rounded times were all 1:26 or 1:27.  I think I have found my "natural" fast pace, given the end result.

I ran home the 2.3 miles at a 9:09 pace.

I have never had a workout so consistent before.  All by myself.  Persevering.  Having had to go around two different runners who were running slowly in lane 1.  One with headphones.  A workout on which I had never thought I could do what was planned had turned into one of the most revealing workouts I had ever done.  What can I do?  What can I keep up?   What are my limits?

Hopefully what I pulled out yesterday will translate into a good performance in Sunday's race.  I now have 1432.6 miles.  I am still on US 54 west as I will be for a long while to come.  Making my way west.  Aiming to reach 2000 miles.  As I will likely reach 1500 by mid-September, I am way ahead of schedule.  Life is good.   

Monday, August 25, 2014

Familiarity, Self-Discovery, and Rising

This morning I ran an easy six miles in 50:18, an 8:23 pace.  Nice loop out York Rd, along Burke, then Towsontown, back up Osler, across Stevenson, down York, and into my neighborhood.  Felt great.  I am up to 1408 miles in my goal of 2000 miles.  I am still on US 54 in Kansas in my virtual pilgrimage.  And I move forward.

Today, I ran over the spot where I tripped last Thursday.  I looked at it as I went by.  There are two sidewalk squares connected by a surface that went up at a relatively steep angle.  But there was not the same type of "jutted up division between squares" that caused my trip back in the spring.  It was just a surface that was at an angle that if I did not raise my feet enough when running, I could have caught a foot on.

That spot was raised and not familiar to me before I tripped.  
But now, I am becoming quite familiar with the spot.  

Yesterday, I commented that the best way to get to know someone or something is to spend time with that person or thing.  I don't want to get to know the spot where I tripped any better, but this will be helpful for me.

I also commented yesterday that knowing something or someone else helps me to know myself better.  Seeing what I tripped over, I thought about how silly it was to catch my foot on something that was not particularly dangerous.  I know myself better because I am willing to come back to where something bad happened and face it again.  I know myself better because I have overcome and I have moved on.  And there will be plenty of times in running when I need to move on and leave things behind.

And as in running, so in life.

So, while the fall and the aftermath have been sobering, the new knowledge and self-discovery are enlightening.  

And the discussion of a rise in the sidewalk does tie in with one other theme today.  As the first day in my middle son's high school experience and the move in day for my oldest son at college, there was a lot of celebration of rising--rather than being tripped up by rising.  And in the spirit of things that are rising, I made a loaf of semolina bread this morning that was the best loaf of semolina bread I've ever made.  That was a wonderful celebration of yeast rising.

So, familiarity, self-discovery, and rising come together in my crazy life. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

1400 Miles from Home--and a Little

Today, I came back after my injury, ran 18 miles on the NCR trail at a 7:58 pace, and am now up to 1402 miles for the year.  Pretty cool to be up to that many miles already.  I am still on US 54 taking the long road through Kansas toward my ultimate destination.  The next time I'll be on a road other than US 54 I will be in Oklahoma on my virtual pilgrimage.  

Today's Gospel reading at church was one in which Jesus asks the disciples "who do you say that I am?"  The priest put this in a really interesting context.  He pointed out that if we don't try to give it some context then it is just an interesting historical reading and not tied to our lives today--which it should be.  Instead, he encouraged us to wonder why Jesus would ask this question. Was he insecure?  Was he curious?  Did he want to see what he had accomplished so far in terms of their understanding?  

No simple answers.  But Peter gave him an answer that led Jesus to announce that Peter would hold the keys to the kingdom of heaven. 

Notably, Fr Ray did point out a series of things that I found very interesting.  Knowing how well we are known by those around us is a natural thing to want to explore.  Partners (husbands and wives or any other variety) would want to know about each other.  Parents and children.  Friends.  Coworkers.  Many people would want to know what someone else thinks of them.

And the interesting thing is that the better you know the other person, the better you usually know yourself.  Everything I know about someone else can get turned into a question about myself.  Do I agree with this  if I don't, where do I stand?  Why?  What difference does it make?

And the most important way to learn--spend time.  I spend time with my running friends on the pavements or on the trails.  I spend time with Sherry in parenting, when we go out together, when we spend time just talking as couples do.  I learn about my children through spending time with them.  In the car.  In the kitchen.  Doing chores.  I learn about my faith by spending time.  Over the years I have read, studied, participated in student organizations, gone to mass, played in a worship band at mass, been a Eucharistic minister, taught Sunday school, and now serve on parish council.  All ways to learn about God.

But there are so many ways to learn about God.  When Father Ray asked if I'd seen or heard God this week, I could have said yes.  God is clearly present on the NCR trail--the natural beauty, peace, and serenity.  God is present in my son helping me to get bandaged after my fall.  God is present in my son getting ready to move into a dorm for his freshman year tomorrow.  God is present in so many ways in my life.  A bigger plan.  A bigger theme.  A call to follow and serve.

And while I was out on the trail today, I saw a number of people.  My friend Sandy was running north as I was running south and turned long enough just to say hello.  There were many other runners. Some made it as far north as I did from the same start.  Others I saw only as I was running south at quite a pace.  

And the most interesting thing I saw and a good opening line:

The morning's run had many interesting facets--the fact that the sun was not over the horizon as he started his first run since the injury and yet he went full speed ahead, the run all the way to the nine mile marker which he so rarely reaches for fear of boredom on a nine mile out and back run, and the two gentleman walking each with a pair of waders slung over his shoulder but with just one fishing pole between them as they prepared to enjoy a day fishing on the river.    

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Track Workout, A Long Run, Two Opening Sentences, My Running Family, and an Injury

It has been longer since my last writing in this blog than I am used to.  I hope not to have that happen again for several reasons. First, I lose track of some ideas that I have had for writing (although if I start writing notes on what I want to write about I should be able to figure out a way not to lose interesting ideas).  Second, I think that this writing helps me to get things out of my head.  And one of the distractions I had in my writing this week was an injury that happened on Thursday and that I am still resting from (today is Saturday).  On Thursday I have a bad fall that has led to my needing to wear a wristbrace for four weeks.  I hit the ground hard enough that I smashed the face of the watch I was wearing.  And I seem to have damaged the cartilage where the ulna meets the wrist.  That is not going to be fun--especially when I run and sweat.

So, on to my other things to write about.

(1) Since the last blog entry when I was at 1348 miles, I have run 8 miles (track workout), 12 miles (long), 6 miles (maintenance), and 10 miles (progression).  The progression was hard as I was just back from a "day trip" to San Francisco.  I was supposed to be running 7 on the day I fell.  I missed yesterday's 12x400 (damn!), and I am resting today.  That puts me up to 1384 total.  That puts me on US 54/US 400 west of Wichita and southeast of Dodge City.  I hate to use this term but pretty much middle of nowhere.

(2) I have taken (in the spirit of the comment about the crane) to writing first lines for four of the last five runs.  Not much to write about on a progression run on the treadmill.  But here is what I have written from my last four runs:

8/14 As I came down the home stretch finishing the first lap of a sixteen lap workout at 4:57 AM on a surprisingly cool mid-August morning, my eyes drifted up toward the eastern horizon and I saw Venus to the north and Orion to the south with Saiph hanging low in the sky.

8/16 During an early Sunday morning run, I shuffled my feet on the ground a bit as I climbed Roland Avenue north of 36th Street trying not to scare the second pedestrian whom I saw outside my neighborhood that morning who was walking about 20 yards ahead; she was dressed in one of the dandelion yellow shirts worn by employees of a large supermarket chain, clearly on her way to work, and carrying an iced team from a competitor’s local convenience store in her hand. 

8/18 As only his forefoot gently struck the sloped pavement where the driveway met the curb and he launched into his next stride, he recognize that the morning was quieter than usual—both because there was an unusually small number of runners out on this Monday morning and because many of his footsteps, like the one just passed, were gentler than normal on this day when he was running a full minute slower per mile than his typical workout pace. 

8/20 He had so much on his mind that morning that when he came to an unusual upslope in the sidewalk during his run, his foot got caught on it, he stumbled and tried to catch himself, but ended up falling and hitting the ground hard enough to shatter his watch’s face, tear the skin on his elbow, cause abrasions on his leg, bicep area, and hip, and have the wind knocked out of him; as he rolled to his side on the pavement he wondered if this would be the beginning of a downward spiral for his running. 

To me, it is mostly interesting to think about the stories that could be told with each of these as starters.  The first one focuses on the sky.  Saiph is the "right foot" of Orion assuming we are lookign at him "face on" when we see the constellation.  The second captures the familiarity of being in a city for 18 years.  The third on reflects the elegance and ease of running and easy pace.  The last one suggests the negative feelings toward running itself that I had as I fell and worked to recover on Thursday morning.  These could be used as the start of four very interesting stories.  Or maybe (like in my life) tied together for a complex story.

(3) Finally, I want to make a comment about mass last Sunday.  At that mass, the Gospel reading from Matthew told the story of a non-Jewish mother who wanted healing for her child.  Her faith was put to the test by Jesus several times before he healed the child.  This suggests the importance of faith and family.  On Sunday at mass, when mass started, we were the only "family" (in the sense of two parents with non-adult children) there.  We were asked to take up the gifts.  That is always an empowering experience to be an active part of the mass.  It also makes me think about the meaning of family as I have many times.  I recall at the end of 2013, writing about how family is the people with whom we eat meals.  (Thanks to my friend Alex for that quote.)  But family can be so much more than immediate family and blood relatives.  But our "church family" included the piano player and the sound guy.  It included several peopel we'd seen at mass for the past 18 years.  It included a number of members of the mission and planning committee I serve on.  It included, a couple of rows behind us, the woman I taught Sunday school with in the first year I taught.  Immediate family over the past year ahs grown stronger.  I've worked longer at the office but concentrated more on family at home.  So many changes we've all gone through.  More changes on Monday--when our oldest starts at Peabody.  Work is even like a family.  And my running group is like a family.  Recently, the running family has become a bit more fractured.  We don't have easy access to the Dunbar track any more--which limits access to my Tuesday running group.  My main training partner is still out.  Other training partners have different goals right now.  But there are many more years to run and rely on  my running family to help with running--always remembering that the most important family is the four peopel with whom I share the home we have lived in for 18 years.     

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Is Everything All Right?

Since I last blogged I have run 6.1 and 5.7 miles easy and an 8 mile progression workout.  Four days.  Three runs.  Adding 19.8 miles so that I stand at 1348 total and continue west on US 400/US 54 in Kansas.

Over the time since I last blogged things have gotten worse in Ferguson MO after an 18 year old who was unarmed was shot and killed by a police officer.  The American involvement in Iraq continues to get deeper again.  Some are already referring to it as the third American War in Iraq in the last 25 years.  The violence in Baltimore at all times of day and in some neighborhoods not used to violence continues.  And Robin Williams was found dead--having committed suicide.  

There has been an enormous amount written about Robin Williams.  This is one of the first stars whom I think of as having been brilliant in so many contexts that I have watched over the years to have died an early death.

He suffered from clinical depression.  He fought drug and alcohol addictions.  He is now said to have been diagnosed the Parkinson's.  That could contribute to or exacerbate the depression.  He had so much going for him.  He had some much going against him.

What I think of most is how man people--even those who were lucky enough to know this brilliant comedian well--were surprised by what happened.

It is a reminder that despite my being told that appearances matter in life, appearances are NOT everything.

It is a reminder that appearances can hide feelings.  Deep feelings.  Dark feelings.  Hurt feelings.  Feelings that are overwhelming.  Feelings that seem so incongruent with success.  Feelings that can lead a person to feel like there is so little reason to live that the choice of death seems preferable.

It is a reminder that I might never know who among my family, friends, and colleagues is feeling this way.

That is scary.  

Some people are in their own world that is separate from the rest of reality, despite being so physically close.

It makes me think of a statement made by my friend Travis when I was running with Travis and Lauren on Sunday (the day on which I ran more miles before 8 AM than I have run total in the last four days).  As we were running along the brick promenade toward the Inner Harbor we looked back to the east and saw the silhouette of a crane standing majestically on the end of an abandoned pier separated from us by overgrown vegetation.  (That actually sounds to me like it might be a great start to a novel...I'll have to think about that.)  

The key is that we coudl see the crane.  We were no more than 75 yards from the crane.  If we had stayed at the start of the overgrown vegetation we would have been no more than 30 yards from the crane.  The crane could see us if it cared to look.  But as it stood there looking majestic (and presumably looking for breakfast in the water), it was essentially in a different world from the three of us running.  It was in its own world.  Was that world as confused and troubled as the world of someone with clincial depression and Parkinson's?  Of course not.  But it was sufficiently different that we had absolutely no understanding of it.  No knowledge.  No insight.  And we could not predict at all what the bird was thinking or what its next step would be.

That separation from me in an animal meant to live in the wild is fine.  If I am ever that separated from an individual in my life about whom I care deeply, I will be worried.  The ksy is that people who are suffering from clinical depression may be sufficiently in their own world that my understanding is truly limited.  My ability to help is truly limited.  I assure my friends--if you need someone to talk to, don't hesitate.  Sometimes I am so busy I don't know whether I could live up to that.  Sometimes life is so full it would be hard to fit in the time to live up to that.  But I want the offer to stand.  And several friends have shared deeply personal issues with me.  But I hope that I am never the one who has to ask myself, "What if?"  What is I had made sure to be closer?  To get closer?  To stay closer?  To make sure that the risk of feeling so far away from others and so overwhelmed that death was better than life was minimized.  

That is my goal.  Would I ever approach the crane?  No--it is meant to be left alone.  But if a friend or family member or colleague is like the crane--separated and in their own world--my job is to go to them and ask, "Is everything all right."   

Monday, August 11, 2014

20 Miles and Mass

So, yesterday I wrote about Day by Day as part of my spiritual journey.  Today, I want to talk about mass last night and the wonderful run I had this morning.  Let me start, as I do almost every day, with the run.  Today, I ran my first 20 in training for Philadelphia.  I haven’t usually done 20 this early in my training before.  But this time I am training for a pretty serious time.  I’d like to be able to run my 7:20 pace not just for the first 20 miles but through the whole thing.  That would put me at 3:12:08.  And my bigger goal is to hit 3:10:00.  That would require running an average pace of 7:15.  Can I do it?  I don’t know but I am going to try.

In the mean time, I have signed up for a 20 mile race Labor Day weekend.  It is difficult to impossible to predict how warm it will be that weekend, but it will be nothing like the weather in November for the Philadelphia Marathon.  I want to prove to myself that I can get an official 20 mile time below 2 hours 30 minutes just once.  This will be attempt #4.  I wasn’t really trying all that hard in attempt #1.  And attempt #3 was a complete failure.  So, showing that I could run a 2:43:10 today—without really working all that hard and finish with six sub-8 minute miles is a good sign.

The 20 miles today put me up to 1328.2.  That puts me 8 miles south and west of where NE 10 St intersects US 400/US 54 and is right around Kingman, KS.  A Catholic church in Kingman is St. Partrick’s.  I don’t recall reading before working on today’s blog entry that St. Patrick wandered in Britain for 28 days after he escaped from Ireland when he was taken there against his will.  While I would not wander for 28 days and the marathon is only 28 miles, there is definitely a  bit of kinship that a marathon runner would feel with St. Patrick.

Mass time this week was dictated by my running schedule.  Specifically, I went to 4:30 mass yesterday at St. Pius X and had the opportunity to hear Father Sam.  The readings included the story of Elijah finding God in the whispering of the wind from 1 Kings.  This is a great story about finding God in all sorts of ways that do not require anything really exciting.  God can be found in little things.  The beauty of friends supporting friends in running. (My friends ran with me from mile 7.8 to mile 14 today—one say it was to pay me back for running some miles with her when she was doing very long training and I didn’t need as long runs.  I certainly wasn’t keeping score on “running favors” but I did appreciate the thought.)  Or the beauty of the sunshine rising and reflecting off the Legg Mason building in Harbor East as we ran the promenade.  The responsorial psalm was from Psalm 89.  Verses 13 and 14 (the last part that was read to respond to) end with “Justice shall walk before him, and prepare the way of his steps.”  I don’t know if many people associate John the Baptist with justice.  But forgiveness, particularly for those who are repentant, is an important part of justice.  Even more than that, the consequences of not being repentant reflect God’s sense of justice.  It is also interesting to see a line that looks so much like “prepare the way of the Lord” in the Psalms.  When I take the time to do the analysis the interconnections are always amazing.

Finally, the Gospel was from Matthew (as it is for this liturgical year in general) 14: 22-33.   This passage is when Jesus has dismissed the crowd after feeding the crowd with 5 loaves, then the disciples go out to the boat.  Jesus walks on the water toward them and invited Peter.  As long as Peter stayed focused he could walk across the water toward Jesus. When he lost his focus, he sank and Jesus rescued him.  This is fascinating to me because it goes along with the things I wrote yesterday from the song Day by Day from Godspell.  Even in his homily Father Sam mentioned our spiritual journeys, talked about the day by day experience, and talked about the waves that were coming at Peter as distracting him from his focus.  He was having difficulty seeing Jesus more clearly and following Jesus more nearly.  One of the hymns was “Be Not Afraid” which ties in with what should happen when the focus on Jesus is clear.

As a side note, Father Sam also was a little loose with is reading of the Gospel text. Jesus told peter to “Come”.  Father read it as “Come on.”  I like his more modern interpretation in cases like this.

Day by Day--From Saturday

I last wrote on Tuesday—after my sons and I made a very nice dinner that I took pictures of and wrote about and posted in my blog about A Dad and Three Boys in the Kitchen as well as cross posting here.  Since then I have run seven miles on Wednesday morning (at a pace of about 8:08), a great track workout where I ran 10 x 400 with each under 1:30 and the last in 1:20, took a much needed day off, and then ran an easy 6 this morning at an 8:10 pace.  I slowed down the last mile as I constantly reminded myself that while I could run the last mile faster and it felt easy to run the last mile faster the challenge and what counted was not how easy the last mile was today.  What is important is how easy the last six miles feel tomorrow after my training partner departs and I climb from the Penn Station area to our neighborhood at a sub-8:10 pace.

The added miles put me up to 1308 miles for the year.  Hard to believe I have already passed 1300.  The total puts me on NE 10 St as I continue my westward movement from Wichita.

This week has been one in which I have continued to expand the range of people I know who run.  I was added to a most local group called Fitness Fanatics on social media.  It provides a great chance to share with people who are as crazy about running and racing as I am.  The woman who added me to the list has the distinction of having run in 50 races during her 49th year on this Earth.  What a wonderful accomplishment.

I met the new students in our 2 year MBA program.  I had two chances to get to know then. One during their team building day at a local ropes course.  The other at a happy hour gathering yesterday.  I enjoyed both experiences.  When I shared my track workout report with the person who has developed y training plan for me, she commented on how well I had done for having run it alone. I was not completely alone.  There were two others on the track doing 400’s.  They were not going as quickly as I was but I knew one of them and we shared the track nicely.  So, I did have a little company.  But the running by myself was fine.  I commented that it was the introvert in me feeling at home and providing energy while I was preparing for a very “externally” facing day.  That was the day of the second graduation ceremony of the year for the school at which I am the Vice Dean for Education.  Between that, addressing and having lunch with new faculty, and two experiences with the new students, I had a very external facing week.  While I do not feel like as much of an introvert as I used to imagine myself to be, I think it was mostly imagination as to how much of an introvert I was.  However, I still get energy from sometimes just being alone and doing my own thing.  Thursday morning was a great example of that.

The interesting thing about the experience on Thursday at graduation was the clear value of making an effort.  I will write more about this in my professional blog, but suffice it to say that I spent time learning some of the nuances of pronouncing Chinese names and it made a great impression on the students and families.

That effort is a sign of going the extra mile.  My entire team at work went the extra mile for graduation and orientation this week.  So, it was a good week that way as well.

Spiritually, it has been a week in which I have listened to Godspell.  I realize that the plot of Godspell is only loosely based on the Gospel but I do enjoy the music.  I especially enjoy Day by Day.  Three things to pray—see God more clearly, love God more dearly, follow God more nearly.   For me, that is based on my Catholic faith tradition.  For others, there are other traditions.  The key is that it is important to have a focal point for spiritual development and growth, to perform a personal continuous quality improvement cycle focused on spirituality, and to make it more and more central to one’s life.  I certainly try to do that.  Running helps.  I will continue to run and seek and share.