Thursday, April 21, 2016

My Emotions Come Out In Training, Not The Event

Tears come from the heart and not from the brain.-- Leonardo Da Vinci

I hear all the time about championship teams. Many of them exhibit what seems to be tears of joy upon winning a title. This is easy to believe but many championship teams will also say that they experience a feeling of relief. It doesn't matter which sport or business or even child rearing, when the goal is accomplished, there is an overwhelming feeling of relief. Success is attained through countless hours trying to get there and the expectation of success after such expectation isn't always pure joy.

A great deal of my emotional breakdowns have occurred while I am out on the road in the rain, snow, heat, or hills. The impulse to quit is even stronger in practice because so few people are watching. It is easy to quit because there is less on the line. It is easy to quit because you always have tomorrow... not really. There aren't tons of folks hanging out on the side of the road with clever and witty signs to motivate you. There are no people in the library telling you to keep going if you need to study. Pushing through when there is no stage to stand on is infinitely harder than performing for an audience.

When I cross the finish line I raise my hands and I usually kneel over to finally stop running after 4 hours. Victory is victory but 6 months prior I had to fight through moving form state to state or any number of issues that may arise. At Zero Dark Thirty there are a million thoughts parading through your noggin that will add considerable weight to your journey. Doubt creeps in. You ask yourself why are you doing whatever it is you are doing.

Glory comes in the spotlight but the every day grind of hours in the batting cage, in the library, on the roads, reading stock charts, playing the piano, and working late goes unseen. It actually bothers me a little bit when a new success comes around and folks say that they came out of nowhere. That us highly unlikely. That person probably toiled away in the basement to be at peak condition when they had to take a shot.

When I practice I have to look deep into who I am and where I want to go. One of my favorite athletes of all time, Barry Sanders, never celebrated after a touchdown. Jerry Rice had a belief after a touchdown to behave as though you've been there before. Kawhi Leonard barely pumps a fist. These are all people who are at the very pinnacle of their respective professions. The cramps and throwing up and the drenched tee shirts will squeeze everything out of you. I've pumped my fist more after tough runs in training than I have at the end of marathons.

When I take off from a plateau in practice it is exhilarating. I came home one morning after a 12 mile run which was my best ever and I felt like I won a championship. Kanye West referenced in one of his songs, "...empty bottles of No-Doz..." That is the work he did to win awards and make what many consider to be good music. 3am in a studio or analyzing a company isn't what anyone signed up for so the glorious moments are remembered by the masses but the Glory Getters remember the tears shed in the dark.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Race Report: Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon

It is time for man to mark his goal. It is time for man to plant the germ of his highest hope.-- Friedrich Nietzsche

Knoxville, Tennessee is about 4 hours away from Atlanta give or take a cow or two. Once again I had to hit the road and stay at a hotel. This time was different as I had the family in tow. Knoxville isn't a small town by any stretch but the southern feel was more prevalent here than in Atlanta. Knoxville is also a college town where half of the marathon participants wore University of Tennessee orange. It was slightly difficult to find a hotel room in Knoxville. I am not sure if it was because of the marathon or not but rooms were booked. I had no problems finding a room in Hilton Head so I was in no rush for Knoxville. I learned my lesson.

I parked for free maybe 200-250 yards away from the start for free. That my friends, is awesome. The start was very close to the Sun Sphere and it had enough people to feel like a big race but not so many that you had 50 waves and a 6 hour wait before you could start. I actually really loved the start of this race. There were 5 corrals and the speakers blared with "Rocky Top". I am not a southern boy but I know that song means a ton to Tennesseans. It was enough people for that runners camaraderie feel but I was able to hit my pace by the time I hit a quarter mile.

The University of Tennessee campus is beautiful and it offered a decent amount of fans. There seems to be a lot of things to read but I couldn't because I was a bit preoccupied but I remember seeing many historic statues. The down side to the race was the hills. According to my Nike+ App, the elevation was about 300 feet less than Atlanta. I suffered less but it didn't feel like much less climbing.

There were a few long stretches that were less culturally scenic but that was replaced by some amazingly beautiful homes. They were so appealing that I wanted to take some snapshots. I decided against that because I only remember seeing 4 black folks in the entire race (seriously) and I didn't want to be the one black dude photographing some rich white guy's house. The volunteers (no pun intended) and spectators along the route were terrific in these otherwise quiet neighborhoods. It waste of those things where it felt like they were clapping only for me.

Now the part that sucks. Noelton Drive was this big climb. People literally had signs apologizing for the hill. It was a two part climb and it is a spirit crusher. Despite the torturous climb, there were people with cool signs and words of encouragement. At the top of the hill, after we made a right turn, there was the biggest group of people along the course. That was a nice reward after the total annihilation at the hands of Noelton Rd.

Usually Half-Marathons and Full-Marathons have a pretty early split but this one lasted almost until the Half was complete. After the split the race went through World Fair Park and under the Sun Sphere.
That was super cool but then, like most marathons with a split, you hit no man's land. It turns into this sort of single file deal with one runner every 50 yards. It gets lonely out there.

As the race edged closer to the end the course took runners through this great little downtown area with bars and restaurants with people clapping or giving a thumbs up. There was one more uphill and then a turn to 100,000 seat Neyland Stadium. The approach to the stadium was nothing short of epic. My wife and children were sitting in the stands and cheered me into the stadium that finished on the 50 yard line. Aside from the NYC Marathon, this was the best finish ever.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Physically I'm Done But Runners Are Crazy

I'm convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from the unsuccessful ones is perseverance.--Steve Jobs

So I have 2 days until my next marathon. This time I have a 3 hour drive up Interstate 75 to Knoxville, Tennessee for the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon. It will only be two weeks between my last marathon and the imminent marathon on Sunday. I've done this time frame before so I have some sort of idea what needs to be done to get me from finish line to finish line.

It's easy enough right? Last time I took off 1 day and then I was back on my grind. The beginning of March 20th I had 32 miles for the month. As of the end of March, 11 days later, I have 90.9 miles total. I obviously ran a marathon but I added on significant mileage. When I ran the Publix Georgia Marathon I felt as though I hadn't done enough work in the weeks prior and I suffered because of it. So I was determined to not let that happen again.

This is precisely when Murphy's Law reared its ugly head. Here in Atlanta there is this thing called Yellow Pollen that seems to be straight out of a bad horror movie like, "Attack of the Killer Pollen". I suffered from allergies when I lived in New Jersey but I've never been pimped by pollen before. I guess there is a first time for everything. I also pride myself on never really getting sick. As I write these words I am not yet ready to concede to sickness but I am barely holding on to my record. Finally, I end up with a back sprain to slow me down on the last day of the month when I could have reached 100 miles.

I'm worried now. I am not certain if I can be good enough by Sunday. But let's be clear about 1 thing. I will still start and finish on Sunday, I just won't do very well. I imagine that I will creep along the course with periodic checks on the watch to ensure that I am not embarrassed when I see my kids at the end. There is also an outside chance that I will rise Sunday morning with a little bounce in my legs, fire in my belly, and a mission on my mind.