Monday, August 31, 2015

August Recap

Yet it is far from obvious that something as simple as a checklist could be of substantial help.-- Atul Gawande

The month of August is in the books and I reached my goal of 150 miles in August. It is my biggest month ever but it didn't come without a little bit of trouble. I took 10 days off this month. I did 22 runs which means I averaged more than a 10K every time I laced them up. That's just a figure of speech. I never actually lace or unlace anything outside of the first time I run in shoes. I slip on and slip off but that doesn't sound as poetic.

When I hit the 2 mile mark I got emotional. Not like boo hoo emotional but that against all odds emotional. This month I had to drive up to New Jersey from Atlanta. That's about a 13 hour ordeal. That forced a few days off. I was behind at the halfway point of the month. That was discouraging. I know half time doesn't matter as much as the final score but it's nice to be on track at the halfway point. I have never run this many miles so I didn't know if I could actually reach it.

August had me log miles in 3 different states. I did 5 double digit runs this month, which I believe is the most ever. I did a lot of squeaking in runs. I did more evening runs than I am used to. I did a bunch of runs in the afternoon when I had to run and then quickly shower and then go pick up my kids.

Overall, I got it done. The question is as it always should be. Where is the lesson? How can one learn after winning? It is so difficult in any sport to repeat as a champion. In general, those that repeat as champions are considered one of the greats of said sport. Haile Gebreselassie, Paula Radcliffe, Steve Prefontaine, Mo Farah, Muhammad Ali, Tom Brady, Derek Jeter, Jay-Z ( 21 Grammys, 13 Number 1 Albums second only to The Beatles) are all people that have won multiple times. All of these people are considered hall of fame caliber. The question is, how do I do it again.

I cannot take ten days off again. Two times this month I had a 3 day span with 26 miles and 28 miles respectively. That is a lot for a body that is usually sleep deprived and under nourished. I have to plan ahead and anticipate pitfalls and adjust accordingly. Although it looks like I increased 50% month over month, in reality, it was only a 10% increase from my best month. My goal for September is a 33% increase. The goal is 200 miles.

Comment if you think I can do it. Comment if you think I am crazy. Comment if you are betting against me.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

I Am The Eli Manning Of Non-Competitive Long Distance Running

I'm worried about doing my best, playing to my potential, helping out my teammates, and trying to win games for the Giants.-- Eli Manning

I am not a quiet guy. But I am a very quiet guy. I can raise my voice to be heard in a very big room with high ceilings. But many have called me soft spoken. Although I have a very consistent personality, ten different people may describe me ten different ways. In general, a person like this would be described as an enigma. If there is anything that may get a consensus in adjectives to describe me would be my directness.

This oftentimes can be a gift and a curse. When folks don't understand something, they find it hard to support. I've been running now more than I played football. Tons of people still see me as a football player. My last game was in 2003. My first run was in 2000. The gift lies in the fact that as a mystery, it is easier to go about my business without distraction. The curse is that it is hard to see my accomplishments.

I've gradually increased my mileage. I have consistently added medals to my collection. Every year since the fateful first-run in 2000 has been a better running year. I've paced people in marathons to better times than mine. I've paced beginner runners. I've given advice to advanced runners. I have gotten better at this with age. Despite all of these things, I still feel like a blip on the map of successful recreational runners.

This is mostly about running but here is an analogy from my original sport life. Eli Manning has won two championships. In both of those championships he was the underdog. In both championships he was the MVP. He has thrown for more TD's than the other players in his position that were drafted at the same time. Most people say Ben Roethlisberger and Philip Rivers are better than Eli though. There is no evidence to prove such a claim.

I am not young. I am not cool. I am not fast. But I sure do run.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.-- Vince Lombardi

I'll never know why I chose running over every other sport that is more ubiquitous where I am from. I love football but after a certain point football sort of ends. Lots of guys I know play pick up basketball. The vast majority of people I know have moved on to simply going to the gym or cross fit or some other fitness activity. I know very little people that have taken to running. Let me rephrase that. I have little to no friends or acquaintances that run. The only friends I know that run are the ones that I met as runners.

Running is a lifestyle and culture. Running has a community of 55 million or so. I am an active member of this community and the funny thing is, if I never met another runner, I still belong to the community. Even the most recreational of runners will set a goal to do something better. Or they might set a goal simply to feel better. Runners, those that call themselves runners first, in general will not say that they run in order to lose weight. Running to them is not cardio. Calling yourself a runner is akin to calling yourself Italian, Spanish, Black, White, Male or Female. It becomes part of your identity. "Yeah, I'm a runner" is something I say with tremendous pride. It is not just what you do, it's who you are.

Every day that I set a goal it is building character. Whether or not I reach my goal is important obviously but just the motivation behind setting a goal has an impact on you. I've made long term goals, short term goals, I've followed 20 week programs, I've made adjustments in my training. I've read books. All of this isn't something exclusive to me. Most of us have done or will do things like this. There are few things in life where some of those elements won't play a part in doing things well.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Waiting For The Other Shoe To Drop

Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.-- Thomas Edison

I have 3 days left. I am 28 miles away from my goal. Is it doable? Of course it is. Can I still do it? That is the real question. A couple days ago or a couple weeks ago I spoke about what it means to set goals publicly. That was what I did. I told anyone who would listen that I wanted to run 150 miles in the month of August. I kept everyone updated on my status and now it's crunch time. The "world" is watching. It will be known if I could be successful or not. Success is measured by the parameters that one sets. Everyone knows my parameters. Everyone knows the criteria so if I miss in my attempt, I am unsuccessful.

Some bright points. I have run 19 times this month. I just looked it up and my best month actually was 138 miles with 38 runs. Last month I did 102 with 26 runs. This month I have 122 miles with 19 runs. Average per run is 3.63, 3.92, and 6.42 respectively. Month over month is a 61% increase in average miles per run. I know that you might be thinking either blah, blah, blah, or only hearing "wah, wah, wah" like in the "Peanuts" cartoons with Charlie Brown, you might not be thinking anything at all, or perhaps you have already closed the tab and moved on to Runners' World.

The point is that I have some wins this month. I notice that there is a moral victory here. But Jay-Z said, "moral victories are for minor league coaches..." I don't set goals to fail 3 days before it ends. Are there doubts? Certainly. If I don't run tonight, I need to average 9.33 miles per day over the next 3 days in order to hit my goals. It will, without a doubt be tough but toughness, work ethic, and hunger are the type of adjectives I want used to describe me when I am long gone. He was tough. He worked hard. He was hungry.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Until It Becomes Habit

High repetition is the most important difference between deliberate practice of a task of performing and the task for real, when it counts.-- Geoff Colvin

I was in a rush most of today. I woke up late so I didn't run this morning. When I wake up late it puts a wrench in lots of my morning. I stayed up late last night so I couldn't wake up at 4am. No regrets because I enjoyed my night but I was chasing the clock. I had to set up coffee, the kids' lunch, and dress myself. I'm usually pretty direct when I do anything but when I am running late, I'm like a drill instructor. I hustled the kids out of the house, off to school and then I headed home to start work. I ended up on the phone for 90 minutes. I still needed to run because I missed yesterday and I have less than 7 days to reach my goal.

Unbelievably, I ran my fastest 6 miler since I moved to Atlanta. Actually, it was my fastest 6 miler other than the "Peachtree". My races are always faster than my training. I needed to move quickly today as I had to retrieve my daughter at a certain time. I moved comfortably fast and I had time to shower and get in the car. Unfortunately I still hadn't eaten. I picked up my daughter and returned home to get more work done. She knocked out on the way over so I stayed in my car for a little bit. Anyone with kids understands why I let my 2 year old sleep. When she woke up I went home and prepared myself breakfast, which was really lunch at this point. My daughter, with her healthy appetite, and her inability to let me eat alone, enjoyed 25% of my meal. She did however let me get some work done.

The reason all of this appears to be such a hustle is because running now plays a bigger, different part in my life. It has been pervasive for a decade now but outside of being the soundtrack to my life, it is now the story line (somebody should  write that one down). I have done research on nutrition, training, rest, injury, etc. One will never have absolute knowledge of any subject area but at present, I've nailed down what I need to move to the next level. The trick now is to create a regiment and practice. I have to become consistent across all categories in order to truly accomplish the lofty goals that I have set.

I've been building this base and as I mentioned before, September begins the actual training. Speed work, scheduled rest days, weekly long runs, planned diet, intervals, tempo runs, Fartleks, stretching, recovery, etc. All of this will be done on a program, week in and week out. I will always run because I love it but now I am chasing excellence. One doesn't need to place in a road race to be considered excellent at their chosen craft. My goal is to be an excellent runner. In order to achieve that goal I will need to work relentlessly and display tenacity in the face of adversity. This doesn't mean that I don't love what I do. I work at it because I love what I do.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Emotionally Attached

Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.-- Sigmund Freud

In recent years I have become sort of dependent on running. I don't need it to lose weight. I don't need it to get in shape. I don't need to do "cardio" (I hate that word). I do however live for the euphoria that I feel while running and even post-run. The average cost of a therapist range for $50-$240 per hour. Run therapy will only cost you the price of shoes, shirt and shorts unless you plan to run barefoot and go streaking. If that is your thing, running is absolutely free; save the opportunity cost of jail time.

There are lots of ways to get some sort of therapy outside of actual therapy. Running just happens to be the safest, healthiest, and cheapest. Let's go to everyone's favorite. Old reliable alcohol. Whether it's wine, beer, or hard liquor, booze can solve many problems; temporarily. Remember the old adage, drink away the pain. That pain comes back in the form of hangovers and bad decisions. If you have lots of issues, like me, you would end up drinking every night... I'd rather run every day.

I find running works wonders in some of your greatest moments, like the morning I graduated after waiting 18 years, or horrible moments, like when I found out that my company transfer just wasn't going to work out in a different state. Problems never go away without solving. One can't drink away the pain. One can't smoke away the pain. One can't fly away from the pain, sniff the pain away or sex away the pain. It will still be there. That said, you can't go for a 15 miler and expect the pain to drop like the sweat that you lost. That too will be there when your run is complete. It does give you clarity at times.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Fourth Quarter

Starting strong is good. Finishing strong is epic.-- Robin Sharma

I went out this morning at the crack of dawn to add another 6 miles to my tally for the month. Actually it was pre-dawn because I was back and showered before the Sun came out. I usually have a goal but this one is the biggest that I've made as a runner. I decided to make a SMART goal. Smart is an acronym for goal setting typically used in project management and other areas of business.

S- Specific. The goal I set was 150 miles to be completed in the month of August. I didn't say that I want to run more this month. I specifically picked a distance and a time-frame in order to accomplish the goal. If I made an ambiguous goal it would be hard to accomplish.

M- Measurable. I know everyday that I run I will run a particular distance. Simple math will tell me how far away or close I am. I can check everyday to see what I've done compared to where I want to be. Many runners do not "keep score" when they run. That is perfect. But when one has a goal, said person has to find a way to measure progress.

A- Attainable. I know people that can put up 300 or 400 miles in a month. Perhaps some day I will be able to reach mileage like that. That day is not today. I set a goal that was challenging but within the realm of my ability and perceived effort. I had reached 100 miles several times in the past. My best month was 125 miles. It isn't a given that I will hit 150 miles but it wouldn't be outlandish if I did.

R- Relevant. In 2016 I will run 12 marathons. I need to condition my body to roll out of bed and knock out 20 miles without thought and then recover like I ran 5 miles. The only way to do that would be to run more miles, more often. Generally marathon training is about 4 months or 16 weeks. Sometime in September or October I will need to train for the Callaway Gardens Marathon on January 30th. Slowly building a base now will help me transition to the ramp up in training and potentially reduce overuse injury.

T- Time Bound. It doesn't matter what I do. August will end on the 31st. I cannot extend the deadline. Knowing that I had a finite amount of time I can plan my long runs and rest days accordingly. It forces me to really create a plan of action. I found myself constantly recalculating the average per day in order to reach the mark.

I have 7 days to run 38 miles. It is very doable. Although it is doable, I still need to do it. I need to decide if I will run every day at an average of 5.42 miles. That's easy because I very rarely go below 6 miles on a run. Then I have to account for taking a day off. Either way you look at it, this will come down to the wire like a last second shot. And for the WIN...

Sunday, August 23, 2015

I Did... I Do... I Will

Two things define you. Your patience when you have nothing and your attitude when you have everything.-- Imam Ali

Yesterday I had a rough outing. I was close to severely dehydrated. I hesitate to upgrade my dehydration to severe because I know very little about the stages if stages even exist. I know I was bad but certainly not near death. So today I went out for a little shake out run. I know 14 miles for many of you isn't necessarily a big deal. It was the longest I've run since moving to Atlanta a few months ago. I have the goal of 150 miles in August and I couldn't afford to not get after it today. With that in mind, I still decided to not go crazy.

The first mile I felt a little creaky. Additionally, I ran in shoes that I use for 5k's. My hamstrings were tight and I came in pretty slow at the 1 mile mark. But by the 2 mile mark I felt pretty good. I decided to run a flat route. Oh wait, there aren't very many flat areas down here so I ran the most flat of the hilly courses. The Atlanta Beltline in relatively flat but getting there has some rise to it. The whole thing felt good. I need to ice a bit and foam roll to get set for tomorrow but overall it was solid.

Every time I step out into the road or onto a trail to embark on a run it creates a sort of cathartic feeling. I am not expressing myself to others verbally but with my actions and consistency it is a figurative, veritable soap box to silently express my thoughts and beliefs. At times words become white noise or filler for what could be necessary silence. When I worked on Wall Street it was the silent pause that usually got the trade after making an offer. The pregnant pause in comedy is a staple for many.

Certainly people speak to others when they run but most of our runs are on our own aren't they? We run around giving head nods, smile, and waves. These gestures say so much more about our community than if we sat down and filled the air with pleasantries, formalities, and air-filling adages. In order to reach my goal I needed to run. In order to shake out what I ran yesterday I needed to run. In order to get my daily therapy I needed to run. So I did, and I do, and I will.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Coffee Colored Urine

We're here to put a dent in the universe. Otherwise why else even be here?—Steve Jobs

Today was long run Saturday. As a runner I feel as though Saturdays were made for going some long distance. At least a long distance relative to whatever your regular average distance is. A long run for me is different than a long run in marathon training and that's different for a person ultra-marathon training. Ask a non-runner what Saturdays or for and you will get innumerable responses, none of which would be to wake up early and run 1, 2, or 3 hours.

I ran 14 miles today to get to 100 for the month. I didn't feel great when I started but somewhere around 4.5 miles or so I got a second wind of sorts. I was able to move comfortably and consistently from that point until about 9 miles. That was the point where I started to feel a little dizzy. My mouth was super dry and my pace began to suffer. I never run with water. I never carry money on my runs because I program myself to believe that the only way back is to run.

I knew that I needed hydrate. I know myself well enough to know that this wasn't a matter of toughening up. I knew I wasn't doing well. I seriously started looking around for a water fountain. I got to the point where I would have knocked on someones door just for a drink. I finally saw a beacon of light. Starbucks was just sitting there with open arms. I had no cash but I had the Starbucks App on m phone. I bought 48 ounces worth of water and drank it all in the first mile after my stop. The funniest part of the Starbucks intermission was the way people looked at me. Sure I was sweaty after 11 miles. I probably smelled too. I don't understand why people looked at me like I was homeless or nude.

When I reached home I knew that I had beaten myself up a bit. I went to use the bathroom and I was scared at the darkness of my urine. I had only read about this stuff. I then got on the scale and saw that I had lost about 10 pounds in a run. I was at risk when I stopped to drink. If I had pushed further, it could have experienced serious issues.

Friday, August 21, 2015

What are you doing to do with that shovel?

True genius resides in the capacity for evaluation of uncertain, and conflicting information.--Winston Churchill

Once a week or so I make a little pilgrimage to one of my favorite places in the world, Barnes & Noble. Even as a child I've always loved to read any and everything. As I got older, I began to read specific things about my interests. It's usually something that I obsess about. If you've been following along, you know that I tend to obsess about things. Generally I care about only a few things but those few things occupy my brain constantly. So what do I obsess about now? Running.

I buy books but it's the magazines that I pick up all of the time. Magazines are almost like newspapers in that you get information monthly about the happenings in the sport of running. You can't turn on ESPN, listen to sports radio or flip to the sports pages to get info about running. On top of that, the type of running that I do, the non-competitive every day sort isn't sexy and wouldn't get coverage any way.

There is so much stuff out there now. Runners World, Running Times, Ultra Running, Trail Runner, Double Runner, etc I read them all. As I transform myself into a professional runner I learn more about the culture, the nutrition, and virtually everything else. By reading everything consistently I have better antennas for BS. I've read journal articles and books about a number of topics and I have experimented with my own running.

Because I read so much I can dispel nonsense immediately. I read something the other day where some yahoo said to never run with your head down. I thought to myself, hey genius, if you don't look down on a trail, you'll be looking up... At the sky. Another schmuck said that you shouldn't run with anything in your hands. Try doing a long run without a handheld water bottle in the heat.

Keeping abreast of the changes in running as well as the nonsense helps me focus my training and lifestyle.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Is It Weird To Sleep Midday?

Sleep is a death, O make me try, By sleeping, what it is to die: And as gently lay my head On my grave, as now my bed.-- Sir Thomas Browne

When I hear someones story I'm not the judgmental type. I let people do what they do and live their lives as long as I am allowed to live mine. That said, my short answer to the title question is, yes. I'm not doing any research on this topic I'm just dropping opinions like its hot.

I thought about this because in back to back days my daughter knocked out on the floor. Both of my kids knock out in the car. There is no specificity in the time or method of sleep for my 4 and 2 year old. They just kind of do it. I'm usually tired. I routinely sleep 4 hours a night and I burn a lot of energy. I could always sleep.

A nap right now would be awesomcredibatastic. Who doesn't just want to pass out when tired or eat immediately when hungry? I wish I could crap and pee when I need to just like a baby. Babies cry and get fed. The bottom line is to drop in the middle of the day and enter REM sleep is mind boggling to me. There are very few things that we can do in life as soon as the urge hits. Anyone that has run a marathon or any run for that matter knows about in the moment needs. Even in those moments we have to wait a little.

Now here is the background to this particular rant. I hate to sleep. I fight sleep like a toddler. I feel is I am sleeping that I am missing something. I could be working. I could be running. I could be playing with my kids. I could be staring into the sky with my wife. Sleep interrupts all of these things. Let's just say my niƱos go to bed at 9:00pm (don't judge me). I usually talk to my wife about her day and then wrap up whatever work I need to do for the night. I usually reach bed around midnight. I then rise again between 4am and 5am to do it all again. Imagine what I could get done between midnight and 4am. Jim Cramer wakes up at about 2:37 am and he wrote in his book, "Confessions of a Street Addict" how useless he felt sleep was. He also had a problem sleeping.

In the quiet of night I could get tons of work done. I could catch up on 4 different Sports Centers. I could binge watch film of running gait analyses. I could do a half-marathon at 4am be back by 6am and still wake my kids at 7am. If I could work and live non-stop, I think I would be a more complete human. I don't think sleep is that satisfying that people would miss it. Psychologically we think that sleep feels good. Think about that first seat after a long run. How amazing is that seat? Or think about that first meal after being so hungry. Everything tastes like grandma's cooking even if it came out of a freezer and was nuked and ready to go in 3.5 minutes. Relief feels good and the relief of sleep after exhausting is the satisfaction. Other than that, the benefits of sleep, for me, are actually hindrances.

So yes, I think sleeping midday is weird but I also would rather write, run, or do anything else than sleep. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Run... These... Streets

There's always a hyena at the garden gate, and the real wolf at the end of the street.-- D.H. Lawrence

My first ever run was in a nearby park. 95% of subsequent runs were on the streets and roads in an urban setting. It wasn't until recently that I fell in love with and started to consistently take to the trails. Trails are accessible and within a mile running for the most part. Specifically in Atlanta where everything is within 10 minutes I've added trail running to my arsenal.

Despite my newly attained adoration for running trails, I have once again shifted the majority of my runs to pre-dawn. Running the trails in the dark is very difficult. Granted, I can only imagine because I've never tried. But in not going no to try. That's just crazy talk about me running in a forest in the dark. I know, I know, folks will say just get a head lamp... Duh. But I'm like, I don't care if I had 17 lamps on every appendage and orafice in my body. The woods are a dangerous place in daylight and forget about night time with bears and snakes and crazies lurking around for the one half-wit trotting through Middle Earth without so much as a care.

No not I said the, whoever or whatever said not I. I'm not the guy who's going to end up on "Criminal Minds" as they try to figure out how many bodies are dumped.

Without the scary reasons to not run he woods in the dark are the awesome reasons to run the streets. We all get caught up in the trail life once we really adopt running as a lifestyle. What many runners forget is that he streets have offered a warm embrace to the legions of folks who love to run but cannot find grass and dirt except for between the cracks in the sidewalk. I really enjoy the streets and the cool pics. Perhaps in theory, oncoming traffic can be as perilous as a brown bear if one isn't well-versed in avoiding either one.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Hey Tough Guy, This One Is For You

It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong.--Thomas Sowell

First things first. In this entry I will use the phrase tough guy. This will include both men and women.

I like to fashion myself as a tough guy. What is that exactly? Hollywood will tell you what they think it is just like magazines will tell you what beauty is. Unfortunately, like mice to the Pied Piper, we will follow that piper wherever he tells us even if it ends in an ocean. That might be another story but you get the gist.

A tough guy, as defined by this guy, two thumbs pointing to my chest, is the person that just does what needs to be done. The tough guy is not a hero. He or she could be a hero but that is not the goal nor is it usually the result of the tough guy's actions. Just get it done is the mantra of the tough guy. Bouncers at clubs are called tough guys. No one wants to end the fun but this guy's job is to do just that... if it needs to be done.

The tough guy is not the chest pounder. The tough guy isn't looking for recognition. He just does the work. The tough guy makes that decision that sucks for everyone else but needs to be made. Tough guys aren't born in the same places and don't have the same backgrounds. There is no set system of how to become a tough guy. The only thing I would say is necessary is sustained consistency in doing the tough thing. One tough decision does not a tough guy make. 100 tough decisions, now we're talking. In the movie "Knockaround Guys" Vin Diesel had this long monologue about what he thought a tough guy was. He said, "Five hundred... 500 fights, that's the number I figured when I was a kid. 500 street fights and you could consider yourself a legitimate tough guy. You need them for experience. To develop leather skin. So I got started. Of course along the way you stop thinking about being tough and all that. It stops being the point. You get past the silliness of it all. But then, after, you realize that's what you are."

I am not telling anyone to go out and have 500 fights. But who is going to make the tough decisions? Who will take that last second shot? Who's going to be the tough cop parent? How many times will a CEO have to fire people and justify it. Whether it is right or wrong, it's tough. What about that person that has to cut the red or blue wire? Who wants to do that? Who wants to do 4 years undergrad, 4 years of medical school, 5 years of residency and 1 year of fellowship while having two children? Yes Adriana, I'm talking about you. That's tough. Who would get an Ivy degree, an Ivy law degree and then come out to do "good work" for the "people"? Yes Julia, I'm talking to you.

This isn't one type of person though. What about the girls that grow up being told... you're a girl and this is why you can't. Then they just go and do it. I'm not talking simply about the amazing ones in the spotlight. I mean the women that are just like, ok thanks for telling me I can't, seems pretty much like I can so here I go. What about the "statistic" kid in a bad neighborhood with dead friends and dean young relatives being told that they aren't supposed to make it? Then they just do. It's tough to just get it done and buck the trend. Or perhaps the rich kids that are raised to be "a certain way" and they just say, "ehh, I'm going to do this instead"

Whether you are poor or rich, black or white, male or female it is not easy to just get it done. Running is a beautiful sport that gives me great joy. It is not hard to go a and do a run. The hard part, the tough part is doing it when it hurts a little. Doing it early in the morning, late at night, or on weekends. I was already a tough guy... ask around. Running has made me tougher. Running is a quiet, blue collar, daily grind type of thing that forces humility and makes you understand the guy in the mirror. What does a runner do on the road after a fall, 3 miles from home? They get up and make it back. The tough decision is whether or not they will call and get a cab or have someone pick them up or will they just get it done? The tough guy doesn't always make the right decisions or take the right course of action but they will do what is necessary at the time.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Once It Becomes Public, It Becomes Real

You are what your record says you are.--Bill Parcells

Every day, we set goals. Actually, not everyone sets a goal. Some people go with the flow and let their day come to them. This is not a judgement of anyone. I do however believe that every single person makes some sort of a goal on a daily basis. Some of these goals are what I call microgoals. For example, one would never believe that a homeless person has a goal. Their goal is to eat... today. That is their goal and whether or not that goal is accomplished depends on each action taken to bring said person to said goal.

That was an extreme example of a microgoal I guess. Perhaps someone set the goal to make it to work on time every day. That person will make sure they get enough sleep in order to not slam snooze 13 times in the morning. Maybe they will lay out their clothes. If they are close to not making it on time, they speed, they run through transit stations. The difference between the highly successful and the average is simple. The average person, like most Americans, will be on time for work. If they happen to be late, its kind of an apology and a shoulder shrug and then it's back to the grind. A successful person will say point blank, "I will never be late". That person becomes known for punctuality and will do everything in order to maintain their record.

People that become president can quietly say that they want to be the leader of the free world. By the way, aren't most countries free? Is the President of the United States the leader of every free country? I always found that to be a weird phrase. Once that person decides to tell people that matter now they are held to that goal by every person involved.

The same thing applies to our running goals. Many people may decide, in private, that they want to run a 5k or a marathon or run 3 times a week. As long as that goal is private, you can fail or succeed at your leisure. When you are not doing what's necessary to reach your goals who will call you out? Will you call yourself out? In general, I am super motivated. That said, everyone knows my goals and if they looked at my Nike+ mileage and saw I did 20 miles in July and 34 in June they may look at me like, bro, how are you going to do all of the crap that you said you would. That drives me a little bit more. (add me, I did more than that) I wake up and sometimes I don't want to get out of bed. I ALWAYS want to run but oftentimes my bed feels great. The lack of humidity in my home is great. I could probably do something else in those hours I spend running. But I set goals and I'd rather eat glass than not attack my goals every day that I have air in my lungs.

I am currently registered for 5 of the 12 marathons I plan to run next year. I set a goal, I told people and I am driven to be a man of my word. One doesn't have to stand by their word if they never speak it.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The World Through Poop Colored Glasses

Things without all remedy Should be without regard: what's done is done...--Lady Macbeth (William Shakespeare)

Ironically yesterday was such a good day. I referenced Ice Cube and his classic song of the nineties. The irony lies in the fact that he had kind of a sequel video when everything turned bad. This is not to say that everything turned bad but let's just say that I did not run today.

A day without running is an incomplete day. I decided to sleep in a rest myself a little because I felt as though I was close to physical breakdown. Additionally, my wife was sick and so were my kids so I figured I'd sleep in and run when they went to bed. He kids went to bed late so I had to eat late. In short, running wasn't going to be on the menu particularly since both my kids are back to school tomorrow. Some of the flex time I had before shifts. I must run early in the AM in  order to get my runs in now. Running at 10pm and waking up to run again at 4 is a failing proposition.

It wasn't all bad. I still spent the day with the family. Any day with the family is a day worth noting.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

I Don't Always Have Good Days, But When I Do They Look Like This

I believe every day is a good day when you paint.-- Bob Ross

If you haven't already guessed it, today was a good day. I feel like any minute now I'm going to hear some 90's west coast beat and Ice Cube will gangsterfy my blog entry for the day. Truth be told, it has been a good 24 hours or so. My good vibes has spilled over two days and I am dreading going to bed because shuteye will bring the day to an end.

I don't eat a lot but last night I had an entire pizza pie to myself. I don't know what the calorie count was but it was certainly higher one meal than I usually consume in an entire day. The best part of the meal is that I got to enjoy it with my wife and kids. We simultaneously decided that cooking was not happening that night. We then walked over and enjoyed ice cream from a shop that is 20 yards away from where we ate pizza.

I average about 4-5 hours of sleep but last night I got maybe 7. I woke up and ran 10 miles almost entirely aerobic. It was about 10 minutes below my 10 mile PR but it was hilly and I felt good. I ran a route that I don't normally run so I took some new pics. Photos become a struggle when you run the same route.

Usually when I do a double digit run I need some rest before I get on with my day. I didn't need that extra rest. I was able to get home, shower and be ready to start the day with the entire family home. We went to a place called Highland Bakery here in Atlanta. Usually for brunch the wait is and hour or maybe 45 minutes. Today, we waited 25 minutes and got outside seating. My wife and I will choose outdoors 99 times out of 100. Once again I got calories I don't normally get.

Afterwards we took the kids to Zoo Atlanta. It was my daughters first time going to a zoo. My son has gone a number of times. The walking after the run actually felt like a benefit. The kids had a blast and aside from innumerable instances of horrible parenting, it was a great experience for the young ones. It was also cool to be there with the family because I had run Grant Park at least 7 times and ran pass the zoo.

Alas, no one knows what the future holds but I will close my eyes after a fantastic day.

Friday, August 14, 2015

You Can't Game an Gamer

In contrast, the men who framed the American Bill of Rights understood history and tradition, and they understood nature in the light of both.-- John Courtney Murray

I am a runner. That title has been a part of me for 15 years now. I am also a marathoner.  I gained that title 12 years ago. I am now after the title of ultra runner. I love the idea of not being able to just "do" an ultra. Coming from someone that has crossed the finish line a few times I know how much commitment it takes in order to actually cross that finish line. To the lay person that doesn't run at all or has topped out at 5k or 10k, a marathon finish is the holy grail.

When I say that you can't just "do" an ultra it sounds as though I minimize the accomplishment that is 26.2 miles. What I mean is there is no quick formula for doing an ultra. I've seen countless books declaring to run marathon in four months. I've even seen some that proclaim something to the effect that one can do a marathon running 3 days a week. I'm sure these things are true or close to true or not true at all. Frankly, I don't know which of those methods work. I haven't seen a book yet with a testimonial alluding to "couch to 100 mile in 90 days".

100 Miles is a massive undertaking. It is a commitment that requires all of your attention at all times of day. You worry about rest, diet, running economy, and countless other things on the "dashboard" of an ultra runner in training. Maybe someone exists that can eat poorly, train sparingly, and isn't focused, and still complete an ultra. I haven't read anything about that person yet. Wait, let me check the Google. Nope, still no one. One can do that and still complete a marathon; I know because I did. My first marathon was a horror show but I finished.

I've always looked to the course of most resistance. If it is difficult and people say I'm crazy, I want to do it more. When I decided to enter the military I wasn't sure which branch. Someone said USMC is the longest boot camp and it's the hardest. Those Marines are crazy they all said. I said, where do I sign. People call me crazy for running marathons. I want marathoners to call me crazy for running ultras.

Truth be told, I have already started training for an ultra. I probably won't until 2017 or later but my running style has already changed. My nutrition is different and I am generally running aerobically to be able to run forever without faltering. There is a certain purity to those that run obscene distances. You are out there for 2, 3, 4 hours on a regular basis. I spend 4 hours on a run maybe twice a year. Just imagine thinking and running all the time with your legs just churning away.

My theory, running is a beautiful thing. How can running more not be more beautiful?

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Yea But I Can Back It Up

I've got a lot of compassion but I don't waste time with people.-- Anthony Hopkins

Things happen. I didn't get to run today. As I've said before I try to live as a professional athlete to some degree. That means no wasted days. Instead of getinng upset about not running, I called it a "recovery day". I did a little more stretching. A little more hydration and ate more than a usual day. 

Truth be told, I am horrible when it comes to nutrition. Particular the caloric consumption part of nutrition is where I fall behind. I had a big breakfast with cheese eggs, turkey sausage, and waffles. Some might say that is horrible. I say it is better than the alternative of no calories.

Aside from stretching and nutrition I read some more today. I have the most recent issue of UltraRunning Magazine. I looked through my Running Mechanics and Gait Analysis book and read about recovery. No day is wasted.

I give advice and I talk a lot about all aspects of running. The reason I do is because I'm like that robot Johnny 5 in the movie Short Circuit. I consume more information about running everyday. Knowledge about running is like the rabbit hole from Alice in Wonderland. The more you see and learn the deeper hole gets.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Beaten Up But Not Broken

You play the way you practice.--Glen "Pop" Warner

I woke up super early today. Okay, maybe not super early but I woke up at 5:00 am after going to bed at 2:00 am. It was a pretty hilly course but the cool part is that I hadn't run that route before so I have plenty of pics from my journey. Aside from a cool new route it was really tough on me. 

Without a lot of sleep I knew my legs were shot when I hit the 1 mile mark and my Nike+ lady said, "One mile, dude you took forever and your pace is embarrassing." I kept on trucking though. I vowed to myself that I won't play catch up games with my goals. I also told myself that I won't get caught up in how many miles other folks have. It's exactly like the marathon for me. If I want to run, hypothetically speaking, a 4 hour marathon, I know that you will average 9:10 per mile over 26.2 miles. If you start falling behind early it may not be advisable to try to race to make up time. Plus, if someone flys past you it's probably not a good idea to go chasing that speed demon.

My goal of 150 miles in August is still within reach. I've travelled this month and I've had to take unscheduled days off. Today was also rough because it was my daughters first day of school and I had to run, shower, feed two kids, and try to manage curly hair while getting there in time. I never fed myself. After 6.25 miles I ate hours later. I ran at 5:30 or so and I ate cereal and taquitos at about 3:00. I took my son to the College Football Hall of Fame and did moves that I haven't done since 2003 when I was 12 years younger. 

Overall I'm a little sore and my hip hurts from trying to catch a football. I am having some cramping in annoying places (bottom of foot, the bend of my elbow) and my urine looks like good motor oil. My black toenails are in some pain and my calves have knots. 

My body hurts a little... As it should. I'm turning myself into a get up and go, always ready to hit the road type of runner. When you stress your body, younger progress. I plan to be stronger than ever before but I won't get there unless I go through some tough times.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

When I'm This Pissed Off, I Just Need to Run

Anybody can become angry - that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way - that is not within everybody's power and is not easy.-- Aristotle

Something happened tonight that made me so angry that all I could think to do was run. Unfortunately, I am in for the night and running is not an option. I am forced to think about my run tomorrow morning and write about it tonight. In general, when I run, I run happy. My mind isn't clear because "the run" is where I do the majority of my thinking. When I am not running is when I am doing; everything that I just thought about while running.

In the past, I would get uncontrollably angry and punch walls or break stuff or drive recklessly. None of those things are productive. For years now, since I've been running, virtually every emotion is organized on the run. I think about love for my wife and kids on the run. I know some of you may be thinking, just love who you love. That is true but only partially. The same way one must clear their minds when they are angry, one must also have a clear mind for happiness, sadness, confusion, and whatever emotion comes to mind.

If you go out on a run with something on your mind, likely you will have a clearer picture when the run is complete. Let's say you're thinking about proposing. Go for a run and think on it. When you return, the picture will be more vivid. Sometimes there could be a death in the family and your run will help you let  out those emotions. Truth be told, I cried on the morning of my graduation. It took me 18 years to get my degree but i finally finished it. I didn't cry in front of people but I did on the run... so technically I'm still a tough guy. I was so overcome with joy and the thought of everything I went through to make it that I couldn't hold it in.

It is actually therapeutic right now getting some of this out in the ether but I will need to hit the road in the morning to get my emotional state back to normal. My wife would claim that I am never actually normal. I don't know any runners that are.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Dancing in the Dark

The earliest experience of art must have been that it was incantatory, magical; art was an instrument of ritual.--Susan Sontag

Ahh, back to Atlanta from the armpit of America, New Jersey. I never found that phrase odd until I moved here 10 years ago and I realized that New Jersey has some seriously beautiful vistas. It is also called the Garden State.  I guess they can call it the oxymoron state or the juxtaposition state. Perhaps they could call it the allegory state or better yet, the euphemism state. Either way, I see great sights year round in my former state.

I spent a great deal of time running in the dark for most of my years. I always start work early and I truly hate to do anything after work. If I could put myself on a ventilator to relieve myself of breathing on my own I would. Oddly enough, my wife is amazing at home. She gets a boost when she walks in while I wind down. There was never a chance that I would run consistently after work. I was even madly inconsistent with run clubs. Most clubs and crews start late. Folks would say hey do you want to run with us and I was like no, I ran 10 miles this morning at 4:00am.

So for years I ran before the sun came up and it has become a part of my ethos. I rarely dealt with hot temperatures because I was always done with my run before the sun came up. Once I had children, in order for me to remain serious about my runs I had to wake at 4:00am to run because my wife would go to work between 5:30am and 7:00am. I got used to having the streets to myself. I love the idea that few people are stirring so early.

Everything looks different in the morning. Pictures come out looking as though you were in a completely different place had you taken them in the daylight. Many runners disagree with music and photos on runs but I've grown to absolutely love both. I don't take pics when I race but almost every time I run. The Bank of America building is incredible and I've photographed it during a day time run but I can't wait to get a dark shot of it.

When I run in the dark I feel as though my senses are heightened. My music sounds different; or at least it has different meaning. Every picture has it's own type of beautiful. I would challenge all runners to explore the other side. If you run days, try the dark. If you run in the dark, try daytime running. It can make your runs feel fresh.

Are you day or night runners?

Saturday, August 8, 2015

On the Road Again

So long as you have food in your mouth, you have solved all questions for the time being.-- Franz Kafka

Tomorrow morning I will be on another 14 hour or more journey back to Atlanta. This time around I'll be traveling with my 2 and 4 year old... For 14 hours. I figure at some point they will get into a zone as I let DVD's do the parenting for me. The car is packed and I am prepping for the trip that will be somewhat physically taxing.

I have a bit of arthritis throughout my body and in general, if I sit for more than an hour my knees feel horrible and my back is stiff. I have been living my life like an athlete for the past 90 days or so and I can't afford a physical setback. Motrin is less and less of an option these days as I desire to put more natural foods in. I have researched some anti-inflammatory food options and it was an adventure trying to pack for a long car trip with natural foods in mine.

Typically I have the standard chips and other crap to munch on as I suffer through Pennsylvania and West Virginia and the long winded Virginia. Those aren't the best options this time around for me as an athlete and certainly not for my children. Sure I can say no, this is for daddy but my smart aleck 4 year old would probably call me a hippocrite. 

This trip I am loading my cooler with still the standard Turkey and Cheese sandwiches but I now have Walnuts, strawberries, grapes, blueberries, celery, coconut water, peaches, and pears. I'm still going to guzzle triple grande lattes like its crack in the 80's but I've made many other changes.

I've taken off more days than expected so I will have to dive right in when I reach home and step my mileage up 20% or so to get back on track. Hopefully my eating habits over time will help with soreness, inflammation, and recovery. Traveling is no longer an excuse for lack of performance.

Friday, August 7, 2015

This Time It's Different

Don't' give me timing, give me time.-- Jesse Livermore

It's been a beautiful week of running. One of the beautiful things about it is that I've been out of town all week and I've logged over 30 miles. I made sure I packed enough stuff and most importantly my foam roller. Historically, when anyone is out of town running suffers. On my honeymoon in 2008 I ran twice in 9 days. But this time I packed to run. My other clothes ended up being whatever was on the pile. I literally put zero thought into my wardrobe. I I counted my underwear and socks and t-shirts. I traveled with 3 pairs of running shoes. One that I wear, training runs, and race day running shoes.

I got in a couple 10k's, a ten miler and a race. My family is always the priority, always, but as I get older, I care less and less about everything else. This makes running the second most important thing to me. I wake up, check on the kids, check on the wife, go for a run. When I get back from my run, I tend to my kids and then I get to work. I wouldn't say that I live a Spartan lifestyle but it is simple. I've trimmed the fat and now I focus only on the things that matter and it has made me a better father, better husband, better businessman, and a better runner.

In the past I've turned it about 50% poor performances on my marathons. I've always had tons of excuses but the reality is that it wasn't a priority the way it is now. The only thing that I would rather do than run is spend time with my wife and kids. Kids go to school and wives go to work. That leaves me to work and run with the remainder of my day.

I smile oftentimes when I run. I don't all the time but often enough I have kind of a toothless grin when I trot along on the road. I can't help but smile when I see my two curly-haired children. I smile as soon as I see my wife pull into her parking spot. Although I am hyper-aggressive in life and I always feel like there is work to be done, I am perpetually happy because my escape is always right there. 

What's the point? I'm running twelve marathons in 2016 and I am certain that my worries will be minimal because this is what I do. I may have said this before but my advice to people expecting children without having any yet is to just live your kid and it is hard to screw it up. I absolutely love my wife, I absolutely love my children and truly love running. How can I go wrong?