Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ten Meaningful Miles

This is today's answer to #WhatMakesYouSoar.

It is another Thursday night and I am sitting in the ice rink.  This has become a Thursday evening habit as my middle son skates during the free style session with the Baltimore Figure Skating Club.  It is a great time to chill out.  (No pun intended as I usually sit in the lobby rather than going into the rink.)  I chill after dinner.  I chill after a hard day at work.  And I get to chill after a hard workout.  The other habit during this marathon training season has been hard workouts on Thursday.  I have run a combination of track workouts and progression runs on Thursday.  This week was a progression run.  A ten mile progression run.  One that I had done well on but not executed exactly in my multiple attempts to do so.

The plan for today was to start at an 8:15/mile pace.  Then to speed up at each mile marker so that my pace would get faster by 0:15 per mile until reaching 7:15.  Hold the 7:15 for a second mile.  Then work my way down to a 6:30 before cooling down with an 8:00.  And I planned to meet a training partner who had paced the Marine Corps Marathon this past weekend. She was going to help me keep up the pace, despite what she had more or less just run.

So, I left early enough to put gas in my car and be at the Dunbar track in downtown Baltimore shortly after 5:15.  The officer had already opened the gate, so I knew we would be able to use the track later in our workout  My partner arrived shortly after that and we began our run just after 5:20.  I was in shorts and a t-shirt.  She was in longer running tights and a thin long-sleeved layer.  We each know what to expect of our bodies when it is about 45 degrees.  (At least that is what my Garmin report told me the starting temperature was.)  

We planned to run on a course that we had run nine days earlier.  On that day we had run 7 miles.  a 6.5 mile course on the streets of Baltimore followed by a half mile on the track.  Today we were going to go 14 laps or 3.5 miles on the track.  So, not all 40 laps or 10 miles, but a lot more than the 0.5.  That was fine.  We headed north along Ensor, turned left to go west on Madison, and chatted.  It had been about nine days since the last time we had run together with another partner.  So we had things to catch up on including running plans, work, and her experience at the Philadelphia Back on My Feet Bash and the Marine Corps Marathon.  As we headed past the prison facilities on Madison and then turned south on Fallsway we were at a comfortable pace.  We hit mile 1 just about at St Vincent de Paul church at President and Fayette with an 8:04.  Nice start.  A little fast but not crazy.

So, we had to pull up at Fayette for traffic, the continued down President Street, hung a left on Baltimore St, south on Exeter, and west on Aliceanna.  Always love the smell of the H&S Bakery, especially on cool, pre-dawn mornings.  Second mile--7:38.  A little overzealous so we decided to be careful on the third mile.  

We continued onto Boston Street.  Chugging along the street by the harbor.  Not too many runners or others on the street that morning, but what seemed like lots of cars.  Third mile 7:45.  Right on target.

As we headed into mile 4, we turned up Ellwood.  We reached a point at which we were not talking that much.  It was time for the hard work to begin.  Ellwood crests before the south side of Patterson Park.  I do know that one comment during mile 4 was the observation that mile 5 would involve the run uphill on Baltimore Street.  That was yet to come.  Mile 4 was run in 7:22--8 seconds below the target but not out of control.

We picked it up as we ran downhill a bit to Baltimore Street and turned west to run along the north side of Patterson Park.  The climb really begins at Linwood.  We have run this a lot of times.  Today, we ran it in 7:12 as we reached Patterson Park Avenue.  Doing pretty well.

As we moved into mile 6--the last one that would be completely on the road, began by finishing going up on Baltimore Street, then headed down toward Central Ave.  The mile did not end until we had turned north and headed across Fayette and toward Orleans.  We had to stop at traffic lights a couple times.  The downhill added speed and we ran a 7:04.

We continued north on Central and turned left on Monument to run along the south side of the Dunbar High School athletic facilities outside the iron fence.  We went back up along Ensor to the entrance to the entrance to the track and ran just under 2 laps on the track.  As we had entered the track area, we were running a 7:08/mile pace.  Over the course of the two laps we sped up a little at a time and pulled some time off the pace.  As we reached the near end of the bench (in the direction you run) on the north side of the track, we found we had run a 7:01.  That was the first time we had a "slow" mile but it was slow only by 1 second.  So, no stressing over that one.

We had been running side by side throughout.  During mile 8 an ever so slight gap opened up.  We train with partners to benefit from each other.  But we also train with partners who understand when we need to meet a goal.  My watch signaled the end of mile 8 slightly before I returned to exactly four laps from where I'd begun.  So, I hit the lap button again when I reached the exact lap point, and when I added up the times later had a 6:45. Right on schedule.  Now was the real test.  I had never gotten much lower than this all summer and fall thus far, except on a treadmill.  No treadmill today.  Just the need to keep pushing.

So, with four laps at pace, I picked it up some more.  Each lap went by easily.  I don't know where all the energy came from.  But I watched the average mile time go down.  My watched beeped at a 6:20 but that was a little early.  I was running faster than in mile 8, but even if it had taken me the same nine seconds extra as in the eighth mile, I would have still run a 6:30.  That was a crowning achievement in my marathon preparation.  

Final mile at what seemed like a really slow pace was still below 8:00.  The total time was 1:13:09.  That is exactly the same time in which I ran my first 10 mile race back in June 2011.  What a long way I have come.  

So, I had finally executed a progression run with the goal of finishing at a 6:30 not on a treadmill at the proper time.  That combined with my excellent 22 miler 12 days earlier really gives me a shot of confidence about the Philadelphia Marathon in 24 days that I didn't have before.  

My training partner is quite confident I can run a sub-3:10.  The person who developed my training plan says maybe even 3:07ish.  Either would be amazing.  But I take nothing for granted.

I have to earn a marathon finish.  I have to earn an PR--even just running a 3:14:24.  I have to earn that 7:20 pace (an improvement to 3:12-something.)  I have to earn the 3:10.  And I would have to earn the 3:07.  These will be earned (or not) on race day. But they are also earned every day when I take a series of steps on the road or on the track or on a treadmill.  They are earned by missing some sleep and awakening at crazy hours and sacrificing other things that could be done.  They are earned through focus, strength, ambition, perseverance, and love.  They are earned by being me.

And if I complete it will show, once again, that I can complete something I begin.

I am looking forward to this marathon more than I ever would have imagined.

I am now at 1864.3 miles.  Somewhere on County Road A020 in Corona, NM.    

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Athletes and "This Cures Everything"

Today's entry will be a short one. I ran 10 miles on the treadmill to simulate a track workout that included 7 separate 1/2 mile runs at 6:00/mile pace.  That puts me at a total of 1847.3 miles.

The most interesting observation for today is that according to my wife, the two hockey players (age 9) whom she drove home today said, "Hockey is the cure for everything."

A lot of runners say that.

I don't know that I'd ever heard any other type of athlete say that.

The key is that for nine year olds to recognize this and feel this suggests that the feeling goes pretty deep among athletes.  People who love what they play.  People who are good at what they play. People who in participating in an activity get into a "zone" feel that it can solve just about anything.  It allows them to shed the cares of the day. It allows them to change their focus.  It allows them to chill out (no pun intended in the case of hockey).  It allows them to relax.  

All of these things are good for this 44 year old.

All of these things are apparently good for my nine year old son.

#WhatMakesYouSoar--knowing that there is an outlet that feels like it can make everything better.  Does it really?  Of course not.  But it can make a huge difference in how I feel and in many cases half the battle is just feeling better about something before I take on more critical aspects of solving a problem. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Out of My Element

Today's run was an unusual one.  Even the city's wildlife could tell that.  This morning began with my leaving home just past five taking the oldest car that we still have and filling it with gas on the way downtown.  Once there, I parked it on Howard Street for my oldest son to pick-up and use for a trip he needed to make today.  As I was sending three texts--one to my son to let him know where the car was, one to the person I was going to meet for a run, and one to someone I wanted to wish good luck for the Marine Corps Marathon, I saw a rat run what seemed to be within 3-6 feet of me down Howard Street.  It did pause long enough to look over at me as if to ask "What is a human doing here at this  time of morning?"  There were not man others around.  

On the rest of my run, I saw one more rat as I headed to the Patterson Park area to meet the person I was running with and then had an otherwise uneventful run from Patterson Park to Boston Street to Aliceanna to President to Pratt to Light then looping back to Charles just as we got to Key Highway and making the long trek up Charles to 25th where I cut over to Guilford and then wound my way to 30th and Greenmount before coming home.  

The run was an "easy" 14.  Most times on the weekend I begin and end at the same place unless I am running a race that makes provision to transport runners.  Today was an oddity, and I ran the first three very easily, the five with my friend harder, then four of the final six relatively easy, with the last two being up tempo and pulling the last one in at race pace.  

Why do I title this "out of my element"?  Because of how unusual it was and the look I got from the rat early in the run.

Was there anything else out of my element this weekend?  Only that I continue to be amazed when friends turn up Bible verses that I did not know about that are incredibly meaningful to me.  For example, my one friend pulled out 1 Cor 9:24.  I actually like 1 Cor 9:24-27:
Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win.
Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one.
Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing.
No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.
This rings true with me in a few ways.  First, the "Run so as to win" is like advice that my boss gave me.  Don't play to tie.  Don't play to just play.  Play to win.  Not running aimlessly--although some people think that training for a marathon really doesn't serve much purpose.  The key is that no activity in my life should be aimless.  Or if there are things that are aimless they should be in "measured portions" as stress relief.

In any case, I appreciate my friends who point out such things.  And I love to keep running.  I'm now at 1830 for the year.  Within 170 miles of my goal.  This is today's answer to #WhatMakesYouSoar.  

Those are the two main tie ins.  

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

My Blogging Version of #tbt

I have posted very few pictures for throw back Thursday.

In general, I use words rather than pictures. More accurately, I try to paint a scene with my words.

Today, I have no new words. Instead, I received a gift in the mail from a former student, running mentor, and dear friend.   Today's answer to #WhatMakesYouSoar. To put the gift in context, I draw on a post from August 1, 2010--where my blogging began.

August 1, 2010--A Spiritual View of a Marathon

The marathon this fall has a lot of meaning and a lot of meanings for me. The meanings have evolved over time: getting in shape; proving I could do something I did more than 20 years ago; a promise to myself; a promise to others; overcoming an injury; running for charity. Today as I ran 15 miles and attended a memorial service, my outlook on the marathon took a spiritual turn.

I’ve never run 15 miles continuously before. Today felt good. Despite having an opportunity to train with others, today’s run needed to be done early so I did it myself. During the run, I focused on thinking about Gerry, the fellow parent at my kids’ school who recently lost his battle with cancer—in whose memory I will be running and for whom the memorial service was today.

Later, at the memorial service, I realized just how blessed Gerry’s life was. He could find the good in just about everyone and every experience.

During the service, someone shared an incredible story. While the story-teller’s faith and Gerry’s faith were different they shared a bond through faith. And when she took her family to Israel for her son’s bar mitzvah, she asked Gerry what he would like her to bring back. Gerry asked for five smooth round stones. Remember that David had five stones when he went to face Goliath although he needed only one. The five stones were at the memorial service today.

I don’t necessarily plan to carry five physical stones 26.2 miles while I run in October, but I could have five “figurative” stones in my pocket representing love, strength, perseverance, ambition, and focus. Each could help me achieve my goal in the way that any of the stones could have helped David. But, as David needed only one, I really need only one; the others are just backup. The one I need—love. Love for my friends, colleagues, and family members who have been touched by cancer. Love for my children as I show an example of setting and achieving a goal. Love for my wife who has endured the extra time I’ve spent training this year. Love of and thankfulness to God who has given me so many gifts. Love will guide my way, and everything else will just fall into place. I should not even need the other “stones”—even if having them does provide reassurance. 

In addition, I post a picture of the stones I carried with me during the marathon in 2010.

And below is a picture of what I received today.  The words my student shared with me led to my first reaction of "what a gift to know how much my journey has had an impact on someone else's journey."

Today, there are no more words to say. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Still Progressing

Today's run was a progression run.  It was fun as I was joined by the person with whom I ran the 2 person marathon relay on Thanksgiving weekend two years ago and the person with whom I'm going to run the same race this year.  We had a fun 7 miles running a loop from the Dunbar track back to the Dunbar track and then two laps around the track.  The pace was conversational for most, but not all, and we ran from a bit under 8:30 for the first mile down to 6:54 for the last.  And the last didn't feel like we were pushing all that hard--although having half of the mile running around the track didn't hurt.

Running that distance with the times we hit and keeping pace up Baltimore Street running east to west along the north side of Patterson Park is my latest answer to #WhatMakesYouSoar.

Today's run brought me up to 1800 miles.  As for my virtual pilgrimage, I am still on US 54 west of Santa Rosa.  I continue to move toward Truth or Consequences, NM.

The miles came easily and other than a little tightness in my right calf this evening, I'm feeling like I didn't do 22 miles at a 7:41 pace on Saturday morning.  Three days to recover seems pretty surprising to me.  Pleasantly surprising.  Surprisingly resilient.  Learning more about what my body can do.

The title of this entry it "still progressing" rather than progression run.  How am I progressing still? I am progressing toward the goal at the end of nine years of running.  I will continue to run after the marathon on November 23, but I have reached a point at which I can see that this is the end of the line for running at this level of intensity.  I have made the decision to put a big effort into this marathon.  I am progressing quickly toward the end of this road.  I am glad to see the end.  But I am also scared to see the end since I have put so much mental and emotional energy into this one race.  We shall see how much further I can progress.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Lessons from a Short Run

Today, I ran 4.3 miles at an 8:43/mile pace.  What a difference from yesterday.  Yet, I learned a few things.

(1) The little aches and pains I had after the run yesterday had all disappeared this morning.  Little issue in the right knee--gone.  Little issue in the right ankle--gone.  Right thigh tightness--gone.  Everything felt like it should.  Which brings me to...

(2) There really is an important difference between a tired muscle and a sore muscle.  After running 22 miles at a 7:41 pace my muscles should have been tired.  And they were.  And my whole body was after an incredible day.  But it was just tired.  Up a little later than planned.  Dishes to wash.  And I got out a half hour later than I'd expected.  So I cut my 7 miles down to 4.3. Which brings me to...

(3) I can tell whether I am well on my way to recovery from a long run in just a few miles.  To run 8:43 average, I started above nine and went faster in each of the next three miles.  No, not at the same speed as the day before.  But it was all there.

(4) I am beginning to learn better what my body needs to take in after a run.  I used to eat a ton right after a long run.  (When I BQ'd I finished off a double burger at Red Robin not long into the afternoon.)  These days the hunger isn't immediate but comes the next day.  This morning I woke up feeling like I almost had a hangover although I'd had no alcohol yesterday.  Just exhaustion.  And something wasn't quite right.  I had sought salt right after yesterday--eating kale chips that my 15 year old had prepared and adding extra salt.  And my search for salt continued today.  I finally feel like I'm back in balance.

After walking 2 miles or so in Chicago today (work), I have tomorrow off.  Then it is the start of a less intense week--just 37 miles.  Today's miles put me at 1793.3.  That puts me just outside Santa Rosa, NM on US 54.  The Catholic Church in town, not surprisingly is St. Rose of Lima.  Interestingly, the story about her on Catholic Online talks about her wanting not to make use of her beauty.  It is interesting that my running was originally to show that I could do something other than academics and thinking big thoughts.  But in the end, my life is about how to integrate thinking and running.  Neither one nor the other but both together are what makes my life go round.

Life is good.  Life is full of lessons.  They will never end.  And when you are only doing something for the 7th time in life (5 marathons and this being the second workout this length) there is still a lot to learn.  The last time I did a workout like this the pace was 20 seconds slower.  And it was as fast as my last Baltimore marathon meaning I had only run faster than that pace for more than that distance three times before.

There will always be more lessons.   

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Closing Chapters

The phrase "chapter of my [or anyone else's] life" is often used. Sometimes, it is not entirely clear where chapters begin and end.  My adult running journey began back in 2006 after I took off some crazy weight that I gained during the first year of my youngest son's life.  I hope to be a life long runner.  A phrase mentioned to me today by a classmate at Upper Darby High School in 1987 who now coaches cross country near where we grew up.  I'd say that my "competitive" running journey began in 2009 when I ran my first half marathon.  Maybe even when I decided to push hard to quality for Boston.  What I know now is that I am approaching the end of the chapter of my life on "competitive running" for distances long than a half marathon.  I've enjoyed my 60+ mile weeks but they take too much time away from other things.  Today, I had experience with closing one part of the competitive running chapter of my life and being just about ready to close another part.

The part that got closed?  The Boston Marathon 2013.  I qualified for it.  I ran it.  I experienced the stress of the bombing--from afar.  I felt a need to deal with the stress.  I wrote 27 healing essays.  I talked with the Baltimore Sun and the Anthony McCarthy show in 2013.  And with Doug's help and encouragement from several other runners, we made the award that I got to see in person today a reality.

The award had been in Doug's classroom all week and his students apparently were very impressed by the award.  Today, it sat in a gazebo at Rose Tree park waiting to be given.  I had a chance to take a good look at it.  It is truly amazing to see.

I had a chance to meet several near and dear to athletics back where I grew up.
The inscription on the award was read during the awards ceremony.  The girls from Upper Darby and the boys from Lower Merion got the awards.  It was so cool to see it go to my alma mater.

It was also fun to watch the boys and girls varsity and junior varisty races.  I forgot how fast some high school students can run. It was also amazing to see Conestoga dominate the meet.

All of this at the Central League Cross Country championships occurred after I had an opportunity to have lunch with my sister and have a brief visit with my godmother.

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And  all of that occurred after my very intense workout this morning.  Here is a link to where I ran, my splits, and the elevation.

The goal for my run this morning (not just the 3.1 around the horsehoe twice at Rose Tree as the high schoolers did) was 22 miles with an average pace of 7:45.  I had a great workout with a fellow runner two weeks ago.  But today I was going it alone.

So, I began with an easy mile.  Mostly flat once I was out of the neighborhood.  8:10.  Relaxing start.

Mile 2 was flat to a little down along northern parkway and headed around the Mars shopping center at Loch Raven.  Brought the pace down to 7:51.

Miles 3 and 4 were primarily flat, both run at 7:50, and brought me back to York and Belvedere.

Mile 5 was mostly down and flat along York and starting across Woodbourne to get to Charles St.  (7:47).

Mile 6 was up along Homeland and then down along Charles--7:43.

Mile 7 took me along Charles and along St. Paul to 39th St, and then back over to Charles.  Ran that in 7:48.  Just needed to get myself in gear again after that.  It did not help that I hit my first red light just as mile 7 ended and then hit another red during mile 8.  Speaking of mile 8 mostly down on 39th and San Martin: a surprising 7:29.  It didn't feel that fast.  I finished mile 8 approaching my tiny overlap with the Baltimore Marathon course that had not yet started--along Wyman Park Drive.

Mile 9 was more up than not along Remington, 33rd, Keswick, and 36th.  Back to 7:43.  Still below the goal pace.  So even thought it was slower it was not an issue.

Mile 10 was along Falls Rd.  Rolling.  From 36th to Cold Spring.  7:41.

Mile 11 then had me climbing Cold Spring and climbing Roland.  Much to my pleasant surprise the initial uphill was very steep--I've run it before.  I was at a pace slower than 8:30 for the first quarter mile.  But I brought mile 11 back down to 7:50 with some good hard work during the remainder of the mile.  That felt good.  I would have to say that running up 36th from Keswick, the rolling hills of Falls, and up Cold Spring and onto Roland had always been challenging for me.  Today it was not so challenging.  That was an initial sign that the end of this marathon training season and the end of the competitive running chapter of my life might be a very positive one.

Mile 12 took me the rest of the way to Northern and across to Charles: 7:35.  Very comfortable.  Nice to see that I regained control and was improving my overall pace.

Mile 13 up Charles St--a comfortable 7:35 again.  Then I had to turn onto and eventually climb Stevenson.  I did mile 14 that included the Stevenson uphill but not real downhill on Osler in 7:41.  That was another reassuring moment.

However, then I took my second nutrition.   I had done Gu after 8.  Now with 14, I did a Stinger.  My body liked what it got at first.  Running down that hill came as a 7:28--picking it up again.  When drinking I had Gatorade and my stomach was not sitting well.

So headed into 15 I decided to head back to my own neighborhood sooner than planned.  Mile 15 was along Osler and I slipped back to 7:34 despite going mostly downhill

Mile 16 was then along Towsontown Blvd to Bosley and then headed on York.  Mile 16 took 7:41 and I got concerned.  I focused and brought mile 17 to a 7:33.  In addition to running through the uphills earlier, having this opportunity just to keep going even after a slower mile made me feel great.

Mile 18-20 included 7:33, 7:32, and 7:32.  I could not have planned that better if I'd tried as I came down York, and then crossed back over to Charles and to Northern to head back.  In fact by the time I was done 20, I had gone down Bellona to York and wondered if I would have much for the last two miles.  I'd consumed a second Stinger after mile 19.  This time my stomach felt okay.

Mile 21 was easy enough (not really much up  but just continuing without interrupting).  I ran a surprising 7:24.  For the last mile I ended up going up the hill of my street and several others in the neighborhood and ran a respectable 7:25.

So what was the most important thing I learned as I get ready to close a chapter--believe in the workouts, trust that I have prepared, and trust that a slow down here or there does not necessarily imply that I won't regain my speed.

In short, the end of this chapter is going to be an exciting one.  All the prep has led me to a very good place.  We'll see if I can execute in 5 weeks.

Quick note on total mileage: 1789.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Two Runs and Thoughts About a Lake in New Mexico

The past two days have yielded some very interesting insights to my running.

First, before I began yesterday’s workout I looked at the planned progression.  Miles at 8:15, 8:00, 7:45, 7:30, 7:15 x 2 (holding my target pace), 7:00, 6:45, 6:30, and an 8:00 (cool down).  It was pretty amazing to think of 8:00 as a cool down.  For some that would be faster than race pace.  For me, I can certainly run that pace, but after what I had already run it would not feel slow.  I knew that ahead of time.  I also added it up and it turned out that it would add up to 1:14:30 or a few seconds faster than the racing PR my running mate for a Thanksgiving weekend 2 person marathon relay had just run in the Army Ten Miler.   I knew I could hit everything down to the 7:00 but wasn’t sure of what would come next.  Was I deterred?  No.  Just knew that it was time to go out and “do it”.  I thought of St Sebastian and how he just kept doing what he did.  I thought of the recently passed runner who always knew that just keeping up was very important.  And I headed out.

The miles at first came pretty easy.  8:06 for the first mile.  That was out to York Rd, down to Northern and over toward Loch Raven.  That was somewhat downhill after I got out of the neighborhood.  The second mile was similarly easy at 7:55—over to Loch Raven and around the square block that includes the post office.  Both were a little faster than planned but not by extreme amounts.  Third mile was 7:40—headed down to and across Belvedere.  Pretty much running flat.   Then I ran a 7:28—going across Belvedere toward Northern again.  Now, it was time to see if I could run the race pace that was planned for the next two miles.  I did—as I ran over to Charles, up Charles, and across Stevenson toward Dumbarton (7:12 and 7:09).  At that point I found it difficult to get down to the 7:00 I was supposed to have for mile 7 (I ran 7:06 fighting up hill on Dumbarton back to York).  Then I ran a 7:02.  I was disappointed in that one as I got to Sherwood/The Alameda and headed back to Northern for one last time around.  Finally, I was able to use the downhill on Northern headed back toward Chinquapin to get a 6:45.  That was an interesting mile as I saw a tire on a car blow out on Northern Parkway.  Fortunately, the driver had a cell phone and the driver of the car behind it must have heard the sound of the tire blowing out.  So, no one got hurt.  I didn’t get my 6:30—when I mentioned it to my relay partner she agreed that I probably wouldn’t get much sympathy for not being able to run a 6:30 as the last of nine miles of progression.  I finished the run headed home with an 8:03.  I was surprised to hit the last one near 8:00 as I felt beat after the 6:45, but near 8:00 miles come pretty easily for me at this point.  I learned a lot about getting my mind ready for a progression run, sticking with it, pushing through, and getting the time I was aiming for.  Despite the missed three miles (adding on 6, 17, 15 and 3 seconds), I had run under by enough on the other six miles that I got 2 seconds under the projected time.  It was quite a workout.  For yesterday’s answer to #WhatMakesYouSoar it was certainly not the good weather yesterday.  It was warmer and more humid.  But it was hitting the overall time goal and pushing through and the feeling of satisfaction of a goal achieved.

Today’s run was completely different.  I stayed in DC overnight for work with a 9 AM meeting in DC today.  I was out the hotel door just past 5:30.  I ran 7 miles in 1:00:05 or an 8:35 pace.  Such a difference—over a minute a mile slower.  And I actually took about another 10 for the run as I stopped to take some pictures.  It has been a long time since I ran in DC.  In fact, last time I ran I found a group from DC’s Back on My Feet to run with.  Which was a great way to see parts of the city I had not seen.  Instead, today I ran toward the mall. Started with two photos of myself to show my faded blue shorts and blue running shoes.  Celebrating the cause of a friend who encouraged her fellow runners to think about Idic15 World Awareness Day.  I then snapped the Washington Monument, the World War II Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the FDR memorial, the MLK memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial before heading back to the hotel.  It was great to see the sites. I have been in DC as a tourist only one day in the past ten years.  Last time we walked the entire mall was when Sherry was six months pregnant with Daniel—ten years ago.  I did not run past the Vietnam Veterans memorial this time.  I will make sure to do that next time I stay in DC.  It was the first time I had seen MLK in person.  It is quite imposing—particularly when it is dark and you suddenly come upon the lit memorial.  I was also surprised at how little some of the trails in the area are lit.  Today was a day just to run and enjoy.  And take in what I don’t often have a chance to see. 

As far as total for the year goes—now 1757 miles.  I just continue to be amazed at how far that is. I am now back near I-40.  The “detour” along NM 104 took me up to see Conchas Lake State Park.  At least on the map application I’m using I don’t see any Catholic churches closer than the last city I was in.  Does that mean the area is spiritually desolate?  No, of course not.  It just means it is an area in which I would need to simply enjoy taking in the scenery that God created and feeling the closeness to something greater than myself or anyone by seeing the beauty around me.  The entire fact that I draw on what other people are thinking of running and what motivates them in life and that I am trying to tie together 2000 miles with thoughts and not just heartbeats reflects the “something greater” that I seek.

Monday, October 13, 2014

God Weaves in Pure Joy

The past two days of running have brought one thing--pure joy.  The past two days have not been fast.  But the mornings have been an awerome temperature for running (better Sunday than today).  Neither morning had any pressure attached to it.  And I just went through what I mostly think of as "gliding motion" miles.  The plan I work under calls them GM miles--standing for general maintenance.  But I have come to call them gliding motion.  Everything just feels easy at an 8:22-8:35 pace.  Days like these are the answer to #WhatMakesYouSoar--the question posed by Back on My Feet Baltimore as it prepares for the Sixth Annual Bash in November to celebrate the many miles the many residential and non-residential members have run and to continue to seek new heights for all its members.

The two runs have put me up to 1740 miles.  In some ways this is "exactly what I have been working for."  But in other ways it continues to amaze me.  I am pretty sure I will hit 2000 even before the marathon in Philadelphia.  On my virtual pilgrimage, I'm taking a route up toward Las Vegas rather than directly from Tucumcari to Truth or Consequences.  I'm 45 miles outside of Tucumcari along NM 104 in pretty much the middle of no where.  If this were an actual pilgrimage rather than a virtual one I am pretty sure this would be one of the toughest parts with a need to carry lots of water with me each day.

Along the way for my virtual pilgrimage, it has been wonderful to see what others see in running.  On Sunday, I caught up with my friend Joselyn. I had not run with her in two months.  She told me that she had received her bib number for the Marine Corps Marathon--10023.  That was meaningful to her because she remembered what I had done with my first marathon bib number--1313.  I had chosen to focus on the Bible verse 1 Cor 13:13 for inspiration.  She focused on Psalm 23 ("The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want") and Psalm 100 ("...shout joyfully to the Lord, all you lands...").  Given the tough time she has had preparing for this marathon, she took this as a good sign.  I had not realized that any of my friends still thought back to that type of inspiration I had (and sometimes continue to draw).

In fact, I have been thinking about my goal of 3:09:59 and with 3:09 as the focus, I would choose 1 Samuel 3:9 in which Eli tells Samuel, "go to sleep and if you are called reply, 'Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.'"

Why that one?  Well, it has to do with the rest of the title for this blog entry.  I didn't just call it "pure joy" which I got from my last two runs (and which will be much different from the very challenging run I face in the morning).  I called it God weaves in pure joy.  What did God weave in the midst of my joy yesterday and today?

Well, when I arrived at church and looked at what we would be singing yesterday during the 5:30 mass the responsorial psalm song was an arrangement of "The Lord is My Shepherd."  How interesting that God should have woven two references to that song in my life so close to each other.  Then, Fr Ray in his homily talked about the Gospel reading (Matthew 22:1-14) in which the people who were invited to the king's feast completely underestimated what they were invited to--we should avoid that happening in our lives with respect to what God invites us to.  He also pointed out that the readings talked about God being able to fill our true and deepest hungers and thirsts.

I have thought about what that means.  The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.  I should be happy with what I have.  Material goods.  My running.  My relationships.  I should figure out what is really most important.  And focus on it.  And when God chooses to offer me something (in other words, when God speaks to me), I should be listening.  For it is through listening that I will be led on the way to fulfill my deepest hungers and thirsts.

And experience more ways of feeling pure joy.

Life all comes around.  

Friday, October 10, 2014

Contrasting Runs

Two runs since my last blog entry.  Each one was seven miles.  Yet they were incredibly contrasting runs.  The run on Tuesday was yet another outdoor progression.  I started fast at 8:10 (I was supposed to run 8:30) and brought the pace down so that mile 6 and mile 7 were run at right about 7:15.  That is good as that is supposed to be my marathon race pace on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. I was quite comfortable with the pace coming down each mile, and I was definitely happy to comfortably hold the race pace for two miles.  I did find it interesting to note that when I first sped up from 7:30 to 7:15 I felt like I had to scamper just to make sure I increased the pace satisfactorily.  But within the first blog of running at that pace I felt much better.

Then, today, I was supposed to run 10 miles that included a track workout.  Sometimes for long track workouts I run to the track, run on the track, and then run home.  Today, I drove to the track and intended to run on the track with a friend.  Instead, after we circled the athletic field several times we decided that the officer who normally is there to open the track was probably not going to show up.  In fact, we found that the officer never showed up even after we completed our run.  So, it was good that we decided to do something else.  We agreed on a run down to the far side of the Inner Harbor.  A run with which we are both very familiar. 

The run involved splits of 8:58, 8:39, 8:09, 7:58, 7:53, 7:41, and 8:43.  It was all good.  We sped up so that my running mate could get the feel of running closer to what she expects to be her race pace in the Army 10 Miler this weekend.  And I felt good without over-exerting. 

The run was not what I had planned.  It was not as challenging.  It was not as fast.  It was not as flat. 

But it was with a friend.  And it was something that just felt good.  And since it occurred during a rest week, it was not something that I worry too much about not going exactly as planned. 

The fact that I took it all in stride shows how easy it has become to just deal. I didn’t feel the need to push much harder on what is supposed to be a relatively restful week. I know I can probably fit in a track workout tomorrow without disrupting the flow of my overall training.  And I know that no matter what else happens all I can do is work with the time and resources I have to prepare for the best run on one day.  And I just have to accept that.  And make the most of the opportunities that present themselves. 

By the way, that puts me up to 1712.9 miles total on the ear on my way to my goal of 2000 miles.  I have no doubt I will make it.  Now it is just a matter of getting there.  And I’m continuing along NM 104.  It is interesting to think of myself as being in the state in which my virtual pilgrimage will end.  What will I find when I reach the town called Truth or Consequences?  What will be the truth that is revealed to me in my life through all my activities?  What will be the consequences of all the running I have done this year?  How will I be better off?