Sunday, June 24, 2018

5th time is the charm...

Hello World! 

While it might be hard to believe, this is my 5th attempt to write this blog.  The times have obviously changed from my initial draft and things have shifted a bit, so I will just act as if I have been writing the past few months. Haha, just kidding, I will just summarize and go from there.  To be fair, I have a really good excuse. It was really hard to translate my thoughts into words, the words have been really hard to find. But back to some semblance of normality...

What I have been listening to lately.  A local band that brought it and thoroughly entertained, Wild Child.  One of my favorite songs from their new album is the following..

Their energy, fun lyrics and sound just makes me happy. Great listen! The lead singer has a voice that is both soft and hard, just wow!

So yea...5th time to churn out a blog about the status of things. I have not actually run in over a month, thanks to a lingering injury that I tried to shrug off.  You cannot shrug off an injury, you MUST give it your full attention.  That also brings up my other theory of possibly having some wolverine blood, you know, where I can regenerate at a quicker rate... the answer is no.  So yea, the injury has set in but I am able to cycle so there is that, at least. The other positive about this injury is that I am missing out on some serious humid/hot temps :)  But I do miss the team...

I start a new PT treatment tomorrow and am looking forward to getting back to the grind. I found out that I have a structural issues on my left ankle, so at least I now know why I keep spraining that ankle. Going forward, I will need to wear a brace if I  decide to run trails, but I need to get back to running first! More to come on that soon....

Image result for tony bourdain quotes

So Anthony Bourdain passed away on June 8th.  I did not know him personally, nor do I claim some special unknown relationship with him, I was just an avid fan.  His way of life, traveling, eating resonated with me more than anyone else and I envied his life.  I always felt that if I had his life, I would be happier, I would enjoy life more, I would just be better off...the sad truth is that no one really knows the inner workings of people unless they share.  While I gladly share my physical injuries like my other running friends, we rarely if ever share mental injuries.  We need to change that...   I will miss Bourdain's honesty, especially in these times where dishonesty is rampant and are accepted as truths. I will miss his optimism for cultural enrichment through shared meals and drinks. I will really miss his zero fucks given attitude to all things wrong and calling shit out... 

To continue the sad train, I also caught the new movie about Mr. Rogers.  I was hoping for more of a biopic documentary about him and not his show, but I still liked what they were able to capture in the movie.  If you do not know what I am referring to, check out this trailer:

I don't think words will truly capture Fred Roger's impact in this world. All I know is that I really wish there was a new Fred Rogers for whom the young and older kids can look up to  He really embodied what a role model should really be like, and showed people how to care care and show true empathy.  I really miss him.

Oh, one last current topic pointer... The Western States just finished this past weekend.  While the stories from mid pack and back of the pack are still being captured, the winners story of the historic 100 mile race cannot be under-stated. I mean, just WOW!  Jim Walmsley broke the course record and and flew to a 14 hours 30min finish for a hard/hot 100 mile race, just let that sink in. The ladies was won by Courtney Dauwalter in the 2nd fastest time for the ladies. The conditions were less than ideal, and these two just pushed and gutted out an incredible race!  Just wow!!!

sk out

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Deep breath in....deep breath out

I dub this past year, The Process.  What exactly does that mean in terms of running? I will explain later, but per usual, lets start this off with a song :)

This little gem made the "best of" compilation on many of my mixed tapes back in the day.  There is no real critical commentary to add, other than that they used to be my jam!  Well, it is also fitting for a year end kinda song, you know, right here right now...

I went into 2017 being optimistic with some pessimism thrown in for good measure.  I started off the year on a rocky note, by opting to run the Houston Marathon on a sub par training block, and when the conditions proved to be harder than expected, I crumbled down to the humid/hot conditions.  I survived that marathon but re-injured my left heel/foot and was out for some time. I took that time off to regroup and formalize a plan for the fall of 2017.  The decision to concentrate on a single "A" race is not something I like because I feel like it places too much pressure on my performance for that singular race. But, the "process" is all about doing that so off I went.  By getting into the Chicago Marathon, the what/where/when was settled.  Now, at the start of the training block, which was one of the hardest training blocks in memory, I went through a real world stresser that would leave a mark.  I highly recommend to anyone who is training for a marathon to not sell a house, buy a house, be the proud owner of 2 mortgages/bills/etc, be in a situation where money becomes makes training for a marathon to be doubly hard. Now lets fast forward to where the house is not an issue, the Chicago Marathon has already occurred, and as I look back on the year of running that was 2017, well...I am left with a resounding "is that it?"  To be fair, I have taken a lot of positives from the year, but I have found a lot of things I need to work on. I need to better deal with adversity, stay focused, work on the little things...I need to enjoy the process. Its funny how the last point is one of the hardest for me, to enjoy the process. It comes easy for some, as they make the decision to run and by doing so, they enjoy that decision.  I mean, why run if you are not happy?  I have some rather lengthy opinions on this topic but for brevity's sake, lets just say if it does not make you happy and you are not forced to do it, stop that which makes you unhappy and do what makes you happy! Simple enough.  I am making the the decision to be happy about running.

Oh yea, the definition of the word process as it relates to running. In simple laymen terms: To see the marathon not as a singular event, but rather the training and the race as one complete event. The race is only part of the process, it starts with the decision to run that race. It then proceeds to the training, both the physical and mental. The dedication, the willingness to do the little things, the ownership of doing the right things and pushing yourself to wake up at 4am to run. The race is not the all or nothing event, it is simply a small part of the process of the race decision. I learn that this only took 5 years :)

Stats for the year of the process, 2017.

I went through my racing schedule and I noticed that there were some gaps and my racing calendar was not as full as years past. I had to check my list 3 times to make sure I had captured it all...and when I was done, the list did not change. I ran a total of 6 races in 2017.  To be fair, I should have ran 2 additional marathons but due to issues outside my control, I had to DNS the 2 races.  But the 6 races that I did do was filled with valuable lessons and I took something from each one.

Races in 2017
Houston Marathon
Rogue 10K relays | The Maze, The Tangle, The Ranch
Chicago Marathon
Shiner Half

Strava Stats: Strava link

So yea, that is it, 2 marathons, a half, and 3 10Ks on the trail.  I hate qualifying things by saying "thats it" or "not a lot, just 2 marathons..." as it comes across as a jackass way of saying what you did, but I am just comparing myself to me. Before this year, I had a nice streak of running Austin Marathon, an ultra, and 1 or 2 other marathons with several half marathons mixed in.  Instead, I opted to concentrate on the Chicago Marathon and kept that as my singular goal. There is some positives and negatives to doing that, but definitely more positives. I went over most of those on the Chicago blog, but suffice it to say, I look back on Chicago with a measured fondness.

Here is some year end photos of life: Instagram picture of 2017

I am looking at 2018 with more optimism than I had in 2017. I still have a lot to learn about the process, and I know I will get down and negative when goals are not met. BUT, I will not live in that space for long, there is way too much ice cream to taste to be that negative!!!  And with that, thank you 2017, I leave a better person then at the start of the year. See you on the pavement and the trails in 2018!!!!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Short Game

The times are a changing, and I don't just mean the day-lights saving!  Haha!  So what to do after 2 cycles of marathon training? Take a long break and eat whatever the hell I want? Go pursue my interests in learning to juggle? Maybe take up wood working and restoring antique furniture? Things to consider haha...but first, some tunes...

I really like this song, but even more so, the video!  It's an epic journey that is a bit deeper than meets the eye. Critical commentary on this song, the meaning of this song has shifted from simply being "badass" to being a theme song for being yourself.  Don't believe me? Well, take a gander at these awesome lines: 

You can never ever leave without leaving a piece of youth
And our lives are forever changed
We will never be the same
The more you change the less you feel
Believe, believe in me, believe

I suppose the above did not really qualify as critical commentary, but I am just keeping with the pattern from the previous blogs.  :D  I digress, lets get back to the short of it, pun intended!

I took some time off to mentally gather myself.  I went over all the pros and cons from the Chicago marathon and have made peace with it.  So now I have opted to focus on the shorter stuff for, 10Ks and half marathons.  That doesn't mean there isn't goals, pressures, efforts - nope!  It simply means that I get to focus on something I have neglected for the better part of my short running career.  How will this look different? Well, for starters, it will mean speed workouts where I will want to puke!!!  YAY!!!!  There is a sick and masochist joy in suffering, trust me.  Long runs will consist of 12-16 miles and no more 20+ miles. So I think the mix of painful quality workouts and shorter long runs will make for a welcome change of pace, PUN intended!

So, with the intentions made, time to set some goals. I have some ideas on what to race, and I will throw in some races in between the 'A' races but here are the two races I will target for now.

Race 1: Cap 10K - Austin Texas | Date: April 4, 2018
Race 2: Revel Half Marathon - Denver CO | June 3, 2018

Cap10K has been something I have raced and ran for fun multiple times. It is hilly, painful, and is usually hot but it draws people in!  I suppose it is a great test of one's mettle, and an opportunity to utilize the training from the winter/spring marathon.  I have a 10K PR of 47 mins and change but it was at the 3M half marathon, a fast/net down course, so I am not sure what to aim for on the Cap 10K. I would love to break 40min - a 6:27/min pace but that is far from my reach at this moment. In fact, that seems 'impossible' for me at the moment. My goal will be to break 45min, 7:15/min pace. That is scary but hopefully it will seem less so as race day approaches.

Now, the half marathon in Denver...  This is very much like the 3M half, a net down course that starts with a small hill at elevation but then dives down to make for a fast race. I really want to break 1hr 40min for the half. My current PR is 2 years old and at 1:43, which I earned at the 3M half.  That is a 7:38 pace per minute to hit 1:40 and I am not quite as scared of that as I am of the 10K pace, but we shall see.  There is plenty of time to gauge how realistic this goal is, and plenty of time to to get scared shitless.

What am I going to do in between these two 'A' races? Well, I will run 3M, a trail race or two, maybe the Austin full marathon to check out the new route...the options are endless!!!  My default mode is to go back to long distance things as I have confidence in long distance races but lack that confidence in speedy endeavors.  So maybe I will try to fend off that desire to cave in and do long distance stuff until I have finished this half/speedy training block? Just ignore that, I am thinking out loud haha.  I have 3 weeks in this new training block but it still has not hit home for me, I have not felt that urge to puke yet, but I know it is damn exciting!!!

Footnote: I just finished the shiner half marathon last weekend. It was warm, humid, and hilly but I had a lot of fun running with a good friend. I like to think I helped her but I think I got more from running with her than she did. I actually ran happy!  I love/hate this race and I will seriously consider not running it next year, but who knows, I say that every year and I have now run this race 4 times...

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Chicago Marathon, the aftermath...

Chicago Marthon
So there was this little race on Sunday, October 8th, the 40th year of the Chicago Marathon.  After trying 3 previous years to get in, I found myself in the windy city, running through the 29 boroughs with thousands of other like minded runners. This was going to be an experience where I earn some valuable lifepoints!

In lieu of the race, I bring an oldie but goodie from the past. Not quite 40 years old, but close.

Shake out run with some strong ass ladies!
Critical commentary on this song, it turned 20 years old this past summer.  I remember hearing this song as a youth, ok, not exactly a youth but someone in their early 20's and really loving the song. Also, it reminds me of California and my cousin was on when we were hanging out and talking about life.  Because when you are in your 20's, you automatically know all that life has to offer hahaha! Also, this song is a good representation of the marathon...

What the fuck did I sign up for?
So the marathon...   it happened. The days leading up to the race, I was a nervous wreck.  I could not breakdown what Jen had said into tangible goals, how do you measure "to run happy" into something I can measure?  Mix that in with my OCD for numbers and well, I was restless.  The shakeout run was relaxing. In fact, I tend to relax more when I am surrounded by people who are even keel and chill, and the ladies I ran with are just that. Even if they were stressing, they didn't show it.  The expo was very well organized. The packet pickup was straightforward and easy. The shuttle was nice, but holy traffic Batman!!!  The shuttle from the hotel to the expo took almost an hour...That being said,  I did not really care for the lack of Chicago specific merchandise or the lack of swag...I got more swag at the Austin Marathon, come on Chicago - gimmie more FREE stuff man!

Race morning came fast, and I was able to get some sleep for a change.  I even got up before my 4:30 alarm.  It had to be a good sign right?  I did my normal morning routine, trying to calm myself by doing things like I would do before any of my previous long runs. I said my good byes to Andrea, who has been patiently helping me prep for the race, and headed to the bus stop.  After a few minutes, another runner said the buses were not coming...that sucked as I did not want to walk a mile but whatever.  I walked and talked to a runner who was running her 4th Chicago Marathon. Her goals were to run it in 3hours, but said she was unsure. I asked for any last minute tips and she said, soak in your first Chicago, there is nothing quite like it. It seems like everyone was trying to get me to run happy haha.

Before the race feeling nervous yet strong
I got to the start and met up with Jeremy and saw Marc and Natalie.  While we all checked in and moved to our starting corral, Jeremy and I moved into corral E and said we would run together for the start. It wasn't long before the corrals opened and we were off. It only took about 20 minutes to get to the start and the 40th Chicago Marathon was a go! 

I remember thinking to myself "am I breathing relaxed? Is this pace slow enough? Why are you passing people, you are supposed to run slow?!?! Are you happy?" But after the first 5K split, I saw that I was about 29minutes in and knew I was running too slow, but I wasn't going to worry about it.Also, I had lost Jeremy and was running solo. It was nice to soak in the atmosphere. I was running with people from all over the world, runners with various charities represented, and wheelchair/assisted runners who all shared the common goal, to finish. I was among'st my people, the group of people that show up on weekends running 12-24miles to prep for this race. This is what "being happy" must mean, maybe I was finally learning? I was also trying really hard to ignore the watch, but as the 2nd 5K ticked off and I was still running a bit slower than I had trained for, I was starting to press. But I kept the mantra, "Run happy you motherfucker!" I actually ran most of the race with that mantra, I was running happy!!!  I also started to dedicate certain miles for people who have supported me on this journey. What does that mean? Well, it means I got out of my head and thought of all the things these people did for me, what they meant to me, and how thankful I am to have them in my life. It kinda worked but I soon ran out of names haha...I need more friends! And yes, I realize it is really cheesy, but it all adds to the "being happy" theme.

Never given, always earned!
So why wasn't the race a full on success? Well, the pain started and took hold at mile 24. I can come up with millions of excuses but the fact is, I was just in a lot of pain. I dislike heat/humidity and the cramps took hold of my left side and just made the run hellish.  To which, I recalled the Peter Sagal moth talk, I was in hell and all I had to do was keep running.  I did stop to walk the water stops, but I immediately started to run after the stops and kept running, no matter the pain. I finished the marathon at 4:05:37 and look back at that with mixed feelings. I held my shit together for 24 just sucks the race is 26.2 miles long. I kept my gels to every 6 miles as planned and stuck to it, even if I was feeling OK at the start. I did not become overly emotional and assumed that the world sucked and everything in it was pure shit...instead, I took the run as a positive after the absolute shit that was Houston. I was an emotional sack of shit after Houston, I was not going to repeat that for Chicago!So in that sense, I was successful!

So whats in store for me now that my 'A' race is complete? I get to relax for a week, and then I am back at it...running has taught me that nothing is promised. If you want something, you have to work for it, sweat for it, cry for it, fight for it....and I fully intend to sweat, cry, fight, laugh, and enjoy the next training block.  Until the next race/blog, I leave you all with one of my favorite quotes and a photo of me and my new running friend... :)
Don't mind me, just hanging with my new
running partner, Galen took 1st at Chicago...

"To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life"

Friday, September 22, 2017

Here's goes everything!

I took some time off in writing a new blog, but there are 4 other blogs that simply did not get published, for one reason or another, I opted to keep it to myself.  I had full intentions of writing more this year, but it's funny how life works. I am going to leave those blogs there, but I am sorry you all won't hear the amazing songs I had picked out for those blogs :)  Speaking of songs, lets get back on point and start with a song.

The critical commentary for this song...I just love it. It is a melancholy sounding song but I feel happy when listening to it.  To me, the vocals add to the depth of the song, much like an instrument. I do not pay attention too much to the lyrics of a song, but instead listen for how the vocals add to the song, and in this song, it is nearly perfect. I just found this song yesterday and cannot stop listening to it. It instills in me a feeling of optimism. What do you think?

As of today, the the Chicago marathon is 16 days away.  By now, I have done what I can to better my performance on race day, and I just need to ensure I don't do anything to hurt my run.  There are plenty of things I can do to achieve that, so it is all about being mindful on all my actions.  You know, don't get sick, don't turn an ankle, don't eat gallons of ice cream, etc... Looking back at this training block, I am actually proud of what I have achieved, in terms of consistency.  But, I can see a lot of gaps and places where I could have done better.  I wish I had done a little bit more in terms of speed training, weight loss, mental strength training, etc...but that is the perfectionist in me.  I am slowly learning to love the imperfections, because life is imperfect. Getting deep!  So while this training block has not been perfect, it has been great as life can throw a lot of curve balls to slow your progress. And trust me, life has been a major obstacle haha.

As I venture to my 8th marathon in October, I will bring with me the joys of being in an amazing running group. These people have become more than just friends, they are essentially my extended family. Every one of them has affected me in one way or another and I am just profoundly moved by their dedication, kindness, support, and strength.  While I know these last few months have been hard on me, I know each of them has gone through their own personal issues, but they show up to practices with a smile and push their body and mind to limits that leave me in awe.  While running has always been a solo endeavor, I know that being part of this amazing family means I am never truly alone. So to that end, my goal for Chicago is to run the Chicago Marathon with joy. I always target a time goal or some other performance goal, but I am running Chicago for just myself and will find happiness, even if it kills me! :)  Speaking with Jen, my amazing running coach, she helped clarify my intentions and advised that I enjoy this race.  And you know what, that is exactly what I am going to do. I read on a post by another runner a few weeks ago where she was saying how she realizes that "right now" is the best time of her life and she is trying really hard to enjoy it because she knows she will look back with longing. In my 42 years of life, I know that this is the best time of my life.  It isn't exactly easy, because there has been hardships, but I truly believe it can be done. I am going to do my best to extract all the joy that I can, because in the end, the experiences we enjoy are what we really remember and long for when we are older.

To all my friends racing Chicago, thanks for the time spent together..  I don't always share my thoughts but each of you motivate me to be a better runner, but more importantly, to be a better person. Here's to us, time to chase down our dreams and celebrate!

5th time is the charm...

Hello World!  While it might be hard to believe, this is my 5th attempt to write this blog.  The times have obviously changed from my ...