Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 Mileage + more

I finished 2012 with just over 1,400 miles run.  I was hoping for somewhat more (and had planned to kick in a bunch of miles this week), but flu and cold weather conspired against me.  So, this past week, instead of the 40-50 that had been planned, I got in 4.  That's right, 4 miles.  And I didn't do anything else.  I was sick as hell, with cold and hot spells, muscle and joint aches, a cough, headache, and lots of clammy sweat.  Thankfully I had no stomach issues.  But I couldn't even get my swim or biking on.  For a few days I found it to be psychically distressing.  Yet as the week progressed, I became much more philosophical about the issue of mileage and workouts.

During my days off, I realized that I sometimes treat my annual mileage like I used to treat races (before I stopped doing most races).  That is, I put too much emphasis on a specific number.  Whether it is a number that represents a time, or a number that represents a distance, I have a tendency to care a bit too much about  digits.  So I stopped.  Sort of.  I'll always keep track of what I run.  But I'm not going to go out with a target in mind, or having to beat the previous year's total.  I am happy just running.  In fact, I love it - maybe too much.  For example: minutes before I was wheeled into surgery last year for some work on my knee, I told my friend, Marisa, that if the surgery didn't go well, that I didn't want to wake up.  I couldn't bear the thought of a world without running.  Kinda pathetic?  Maybe.  But it is the way I felt (and feel, maybe).

Running connects me to myself intellectually and physically, yet also on some kind of instinctual level as well that is neither of the mind or body.  There are times during a run where the mind is apparently unaware of anything that is going on, and the body just keeps moving in an effortless manner.  Is that being in the zone, running on autopilot, or going on some basic instict that keeps putting on foot in front of the other without troubling the mind or body with the process?  I don't know, but I really like it when it happens.  And it happens pretty often.

I think I'll leave this line of thinking right where it is and move on to thoughts for the New Year.  For the year 2013 I hope to do the following:

1) Give a lot more of my things and money away to people, groups, causes and charities that can use help.
2) Buy less, consume less, desire less, and need less.
3) Continue to eschew organized racing in favor of solitary running (there may be a few exceptions).
4) Travel more
5) Be more present in my relationships with friends and family
6) Dump cable TV (that may be difficult as well, to be honest).
7) Find a way each week to help someone out.
8) Finish major writing project (it has now been just under a year)
9) Spend a lot less time on Facebook and other time sucks.
10) Be less self-critical (something many of us could benefit from).

Finally, if you want to know a good read for runners, go get 'Running with the Buffaloes.'  It is a fantastic book about the 1998 CU Buff's CC team's season.  It is an amazing inside look at how top teams train, work together, race, and deal with injury and loss.  It is available in hard copy or Kindle through Amazon.  And remember, if you do go to Amazon, access the site through links on pages of charities like - a farm animal sanctuary that can use the help.  It doesn't cost you anything, but by linking to Amazon through their site, the charity gets a tiny percentage of your purchase as a donation.

Have a great new year.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Snow, Swim, Run

Ah, snow.  Gotta say that I am not a fan of snow or ice.  Either one makes running difficult.  But together they conspire to create an impossible/impassable obstacle for an over 40 runner.  It isn't that I'm afraid of falling.  It is simply that I don't want to fall now much more than I didn't want to fall when I was in my twenties.  For some reason, falling after 40 sucks just a bit more than it did in my younger days.  So, when the ground gets slick, I put off running and hit the pool.

I got in three days of swimming this past week.  I really love the change of pace and should do it more often. But the roads and trails have their own alluring nature that calls to me as a siren does to a Greek sailor.  I have a tendency to eschew all other activities when the weather allows, lace up my kicks, and head out the door.

Yesterday, I thought I finally had a good window.  I set off for the easy 7.5mi Lecompton Interchange loop. The first 2.5mi were good, with only a couple of detours to avoid ice/snow.  But once I got farther out, I had to run in the snow-covered grass beside the path.  About 3/4 of a mile of that and I said 'eff' it - not aloud, mind you - just internally, to myself.  So the 7.5 became 6.5 with some snow and grass running thrown in.  It kicked my butt slightly.

Today was much colder, but I wanted to get in a decent run.  I put on my trail shoes (Mizunos, of course), and popped over to the river.  It took a bit of time running (about 2 mi) before I finally warmed up to where I was comfortable. The trails were frozen solid in the a.m. hours.  Every now and then I'd crunch through some bike-rutted ice packs. But mostly it was frozen ground.  On the way back I finally encountered an interesting little hill.  It was covered in ice.  I attacked it, and found the experience much like trying to go up an escalator that was moving rapidly in the other direction.

There is something about the River Trails that always buoy my spirits.  I don't know what it is.  Running through the frosty woods today felt like something out of a Disney movie.  It was like an enchanted forest -beautiful, but (due to the cold) with a slight whiff of danger (maybe).  I finished the run feeling wonderfully at ease.

This afternoon will entail a little bit of shopping for last minute Xmas items, reading, and a nap.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My Only Planned Race For 2013

So I got talked into entering a marathon; next year's Hawk 100 Marathon, that is.  I thought about doing it this year, but was volunteering at the race and opted out.  Several other Hawks did the race and still volunteered, making me wish that I had done it.  Or did I really wish that?

I generally don't race.  I used to.  But I found that when I did I cared too much about the outcome.  Even if I ran a good time, if I didn't meet my goal and PR, I was really disappointed.  So, one day I stopped racing and began to simply enjoy running.  Running by myself has become my favorite thing to do.  Running with others is my second favorite thing to do.

As the race grows closer, we'll just have to sit back and see what I really plan to do.  I think it'd be fun to do a trail marathon race as an actual registered participant.  At least I think that it seems like a fun idea right now...

I got back from a 23 hr trip to LA yesterday.  Literally, the whole trip, flights and all took 23 hours.  I wouldn't recommend that anyone reading this try that.  It was for business, and business got done.  But it was a lot of ass-time in a plane seat, a car seat, and a hotel bar and restaurant.

Double Eagle:
On Monday, before I flew off, I took a run out along 6th St near Wakarusa.  Heading west up the hill toward Queens Rd, a bald eagle flew right over my head.  It was a gorgeous sight - and one that I have never experienced outside of the River Trails.  A few hours later, on the way to the airport, I again saw a bald eagle as the bird flew over my car on the highway.  I felt doubly blessed for the day.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Disc Golf and Trails

I'm getting ready to head out for a short recovery run before the weather turns really cold later today.  I had a nice week of 3.5-8 mi daily runs.  The weather was cooperative.  I also played the best round of disc golf I had ever done.  It was over par.  But it was over par in the mid-single digits (6).  I had one approach that may have been the best I've ever done.  We do a lot of running and walking for disc golf,so I always feel as if I get a second workout on days I play.

Anyway, I met a large group of runners at Clinton at 7 a.m. yesterday.  We split into two groups and set out for a 10mi out and 5mi back run (basically out 10 on the white course and back 5 on the, more direct, blue trail).  It was a good run, if a bit slow at the outset.  The conversation was great, and the weather, cold yet not unpleasant.  I ran with the lead group until Lands End, about 6.5 mi into the course.  Then, I somehow missed the continuation.  I latched on to the second group until the 10 mile marker.  At that point I figured I'd just run the final 5 miles back on my own.  So I took my leave and shortly thereafter passed a sign that signalled that there were actually 6 mi left to run.  Honestly, the difference between 15 and 16 miles is not that great.  But ten miles into a run, it is a little disheartening.

Since there was nothing else to do, and because I didn't really have to be anywhere, I soon got over my surprise and settled into the return run.  I am not a fan of the Clinton trails, but I found that there were parts of the return run that I really enjoyed.  The miles ticked off pretty quickly, which was good, because I actually started to get pretty cold on the run back.  I had gotten pretty sweaty, which led to me being pretty soaked, which led to me needing to run faster to generate more heat, which led to more sweat.  Vicious cycle...

When I got home I took a seriously hot shower and ate a couple of steamed vegan tamales as my reward for the run.  I promised myself that I would take Sunday off.  But now it is Sunday, and there is no way I'm taking today off.  I might take tomorrow off and swim in the indoor pool 100 yards from my back door because it is supposed to be seriously cold.