Saturday, January 28, 2012

Across the Pedestrian Bridge

There is just something about crossing bridges that gets inside the psyche of people.  Everywhere in our language, bridges have extra meaning.  "Don't burn your bridges," "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," "It's a bridge over troubled waters," "Bridging the gap." Well, I guess you could say that today's bridge was as much metaphoric as it was physical, as it was a bridge to recovery for me and my foot.

Why is it I can't seem to get my bum in gear when I want to on Saturdays... Blast, I set the alarm earlier and actualy used a checklist last night and still didn't manage to get out the door when I wanted. Of course, the slightly irregular stomach this morning didn't help, I'm sure.

Got up this morning and thought I had plenty of time. In keeping with my normal routine, I had taped last night before bed and I simply made sure I didn't need to retape anything. I noted that my foot wasn't really hurting, this was definately better than last weekend! Then I checked the temps outside and pulled on my clothes. I didn't take a second outer layer this morning because the temp was at 30. Just as I am about to head out the door, my stomach strikes. delay of game - 15 minutes. Finally, annoyed and in a hurry, I move out. I grab one of my Gatorade bars and eat half of it as I head to the start for this morning's run.

So, once again, I started at 7:15 this morning, this time from the Ampetheater. The winds are light and the morning really isn't too cold. The route is to run south to the Pedestrian Bridge, cross the bridge and up the Midland Valley Trail to 18th, then head out to the River Parks Trails and head north around the Southwest Blvd bridge and back to the Ampetheater. I'm already late, so I head out. I leave my headlamp in the truck, as dawn is coming on quicky and since I am on the trails instead of the road, I can see where I am going and I don't need to have cars not see me.

I pass the boathouse and the dreaded docks and for just a moment, I have a thought of going down to the dock and back up a couple of times, sort of a bonus exercise. I remember how much it worked me out on the Polar Bear Plunge. Then I remember how hard it was to keep from falling in and I carry on. I pass under the 21st Street Bridge and am actually feeling pretty good. Everything is clicking like it should and my foot is only a dull ache. I'm running about every 3rd light pole for the span between light poles. Soon, I see the sun coming up and before I know it, I'm at the Pedestrian Bridge.

The Pedestrain bridge is a new experience for me. I've been on it, but never all the way over it. And certainly not from the west side. I think it is fantastic what they've done with this old railroad bridge. the fact that the bridge is flat, instead of arched, makes my crossing it just that much easier. In the morning sun, there is a certain beauty to this part of the run. Coming off the bridge, I turn and head up the stairs to the top part that crosses over Riverside and I take my first break. I take in some fluids and some Sports Beans and get going again.

I really enjoy the scenery on this part of the trail and soon, I am smelling horses. I thought maybe it was my mind playing tricks on me, but then I turn and see 3 horses grazing in someone's back yard. Who knew. It's a little after 8 and I am nearing the 2 mile mark. Slow for my first 2 miles, but steady and my foot is still only a dull ache. Soon, I take a second break and I am watching the steam rise off my back, through my jacket. I guess this is kinda what Sloan was talking about, even though you don't feel sweaty, the steam is my sweat. Emptying my first bottle, I get going again. Before I know it, I'm at the water stop. Half way!

Look close and you'll see I'm really steamed
 Around Veteran's park and across the street and I'm back on River Parks Trail. I take great pains to go around the race that is taking place there and get headed north. There is a slight breeze now, but it's not too bad. I catch myself taking off my cap from time to time, because I am just toasty. It's during this time that I realize my strides are longer on my run portions, although not consciously. That thought is one that makes me feel good, considering all the troubles I've been having with stride length and my IT Band.

Very familiar territory coming up as I round the trail to the Southwest Boulavard bridge. I take a brief rest here and then I'm off. I run light pole to lightpole on at the first and the last pole spans on the bridge. At the west end of the bridge is a steep hill going back down to the trail and this is my bane. It is steep, but thankfully short. It always hurts going down, my muscles straining and my knees taking a pretty big hit on each step. Finally, I am down and on the last leg of the run. I take one final rest, as the hil really takes it out of me and then In to the Ampitheatre. I even run the last 20 meters or so, a testament to how much better I was doing today as opposed to last week.

After finishing, it was time to start the post-run recovery.  Several of our group headed over to Tally's and I joined them for some breakfast, since I didn't eat my normal Breakfast Burrito prior to the run.  It was a great time to wind down and talk.  All in all, it was a great day to run!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thankful Thursday

I've been asked who my heros are, who inspires me. For a long time, I didn't have an answer. I was just out there kinda floating lazily in the milk, so to speak, without any real direction. But when I started getting serious about doing real distance, I began to really think about the fact that I needed to remind myself that God created human beings with a capacity to go beyond what we ever thought was possible. To do things that are truly amazing. So I think it is fitting to take a little bit of space to showcase some of those public figures who really inspire me.

To be sure, I have personal friends and family who also inspire me, but for privacy's sake, I will simply say thank you to those. You know who you are. I wouldn't have gotten here without you and your support. You have believed in me when I didn't even believe in myself and helped me believe in the right things, inside and outside myself. These inspirations I am going to write about in the coming weeks cannot take that away. Ever.

With that having been said, each Thursday, I plan to post up someone whose story and triumph has inspired me. So, today's inspiration is:

Dana Bowman, US Army, RET

In 1994, Dana Bowman was Army Special Forces and a member of The Golden Knights parachute team. In February of that year, he and his team were making practice jumps. Bowman and his teammate were performing a maneuver known as the Diamond Track, where the divers speed apart to a designated distance, then reverse their tracks and head toward each other at a closing speed of about 300 miles per hour. The approach did not go as planned and the two men collided, instantly killing his teammate, Sgt Jose Aguillon and rendering Bowman unconscious. The impact was so severe that it also completely severed both of Bowman's legs, one below the knee and one above the knee. Bowman's parachute was activated by the impact and he landed unconscious in a nearby parking lot.
Rather than giving up, Dana Bowman chose to fight his way back to a normal and active life. Over the course of the next 6 weeks, he wore out 4 pairs of prostheses. Rather than sit back and wait or let the doctors dictate when and how and what he could do, he helped them to design prosthetics. 5 months after his accident, he left the hospital to go skydiving as part of a Golden Knights wedding ceremony. Four months later, he became the first double amputee to reenlist in the Army. After he retired, he went on to get a bachleor's degree in commercial aviation and is presently the only double amputee to hold a commercial helicopter instructor pilot certification in the world.
Dana Bowman has worked through his pain and became an overcomer. He inspires me any time I think I have the market cornered on pain and suffering.

Thank you, SFC Dana Bowman, for being one of my inspirations.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mid-week Blues and Horrifying Realization

It's Wednesday. I am sitting here in my office realizing that there are still 2 more days until the weekend and Saturday. The weather has been fantastic the past couple of days and I've wanted nothing more than to be out in it, but between work and school, it just hasn't happened. I had every intention of going to the gym last night, but then my stomach started giving me fits and... well, it just wasn't a pretty picture.

I want to be out on the road when the temps are 60 degrees and the wind is blowing only lightly. But it looks like this weekend is going to be cold again. I have the gear for it now, but it is so much better to have nice weather when you run. Not being able to get out in the nice weather is kinda bringing me down. It's midweek and I don't have the time today to even go to the gym. Tomorrow is a gym day, but it's not the same.

Sitting here, I came to a horrifying realization. Today is the 25th and there are only 39 more days until the Little Rock Half Marathon! That is 4 more training runs to try to get up to par! Then a week off before the run! My foot injury has really put me behind the curve -- WAY behind. The realization is that I won't make it to the milage I wanted to before the race and this worries me. I have to put out all the effort I can, but I am also worried about overtraining. And while my foot is much better, I don't want to push it and re-injure it. So I feel like I am on a very thin tightrope. So, Instead of 5 miles on Saturday, I want to try for 7. And add a mile to each Saturday run after that, putting me at 10 miles on the 18th. I hope that I can manage this. But whatever I manage, it will have to be enough. Times like these, going out on untried distances... it scares me quite a bit. So I have to have faith that I can keep going and do my best. I don't want to conk out after 4 miles again!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

18 and Life!

** UPDATE!!  Pics have been added of me and the run!  Thanks to the one, the only, Ken "Trail Zombie" Childress!**
Saturday runs are somewhat ritualistic for me.  I have a pretty set ritual that starts at all kinds of unreasonable hours.  The first part of the ritual begins the night before, when I lay out the gear I think I'll need.  Then I shower and apply whatever ointments I am currently using for the aches and pains.  Then I carefully clean off those areas that I am going to tape.  They say to use alcohol, but since I don't really drink, I chose to use Sea Breeze.  Then I put KT Tape on.  Lately, this has included taping my foot where it has been hurting, my knees and my elbow.  Then I set my alarm and crawl into bed for the few hours of sleep.

My alarm starts a new round of rituals.  The required slapping of the snooze, of course.  The panic when I realize I've slapped it a couple of times too many, causing me to be late.  Then I get up and start with my skin layer.  Underwear and compression shorts tops the list.  Then whatever ace bandage wrappings I decide I need come next.  Then shirts and shorts get pulled on.  Finally, if it is cold, I put on my outerwear.  Finally, I round up my "expendables" for the run, grab my wallet and keys and head out, trying to get to our starting point early enough that my slow tukis is not the last one in.

So, today's run was no different.  Last night I checked the weather and knew it was expected to be in the low 20s and planned accordingly.  I laid out my headlamp, windsuit, compression shorts, ace bandages, both sets of gloves, my hat and my shirts.  I also laid out my nutrition for the run.  I showered and put tape on.  It was later than usual and so I skipped the ointments, although I usually use Tiger Balm.  I put the tape on my foot and my right knee and my right elbow, which has been pretty sore lately.  Then I set my alarm and crawled into bed.
Strangling the alarm because I had finally had a nice dream (They've been pretty rare in the last 9 months), I got up and started my morning.  The first thing I do is check the temperature.  18 degrees.  Fahrenheit.  14 degrees below the freezing point of water.  Now that's cold and for an instant, I thought about just forgetting it and crawling back into the bed.  Instead, I wrapped my right knee and my right arm, pulled on my compression shorts, my shirts and my windsuit pants.  I pulled on some homemade sleeves made out of some old socks, my wind jacket, an additional jacket, 2 sets of gloves, my hat and headlamp. 

The other day, I was at one of the big-name Athletic stores in town picking up some stuff and I pass by the nutrition aisle.  I see something different to try and so I pick it up.  It's by Gatorade and I trust them with my drink, so I figure why not try this.  So this morning I put my Gatorade Series Pro 01 Prime Nutrition Bar in my pocket along with my bottles of Gatorade.  So I have my fluids, my nutrition, my gear and I am about as ready as I figure I am gonna get.  I stop off at McDonalds again for the same pre-run meal and Iget to the starting point a little after 7.  It is still 18 degrees and it is still dark.  I get things together and get stepping off.  By this time it is 7:10 in the morning and I am on the course.  My legs are fine, my arm aches a little, as does my foot.  But it's not bad and I am off at a decent walking pace.  Around the first mile, I miss a turn and go long.  Recovering, I move on.  Before I even realize it, I've covered 2 miles.  I see Kathy Hoover pull up and she asks how I am.  The hills and the headlong segment into the rather breezy north wind are certainly making me tired, but my new gear is holding up very well.  Better than I had expected at these temps.  I tell her I'm doing ok, tired, but not even chilled, except in the face.

I move on out and by the time I make 3 miles, I realize that without being really aware of it, I've been moving at near my 5k pace and I think, wow, I could keep this up for a while longer, but then I think that maybe I should slow down a bit.  So I do.  At 3 miles, my foot isn't bothering me too much and I am feeling good, so I go ahead and try the new nutrition.  It's delicious.  The flavor is called Chocolate Chip, but the taste is kinda like a rice krispie treat combined with cinnamon and spice oatmeal, sprinkled with chocolate chips.  I find it very tasty and easier to eat than the tigers mile I normally carry.  I eat half of it and take in some of my Gatorade and keep on going.  Shortly thereafter, I had a squirrel come within a foot of me and stop and look up at me.  I think he was hungry and thought I was a nut. 

At 4 miles, I am beginning to feel my foot ache more and I start thinking about shortening the run again.  I stop and eat the other half of my nutrition bar and look at the map to start planning accordingly.  I hate doing it, I feel the desperate need to finish the full length of the run, but when you run hurt, you have to make some concessions.  Today's came a few steps too late for me to get back under my own power, although I didn't know it at the time.  I made the turn that would have shaved 3/4 of a mile from the total and headed down to make it back.  As I neared mile 5, I knew I still had too far to go and the pain was really beginning to ramp up in my foot.  I kept going as long as I could, crossing the 5 mile mark.  Finally, I end up sitting down as I am afraid if I don't, I could jeopardize further training efforts. People who know me know I absolutely hate not making it back to the finish under my own power.  I hate the idea of accepting rides while I am on the course.  But I ended up having to call for a ride today.  I had reached the end of what   While I am waiting on a ride in, I sit and reflect.  I know I have gone further than last week.  I also know that I had a great time off the start, even with a hurt foot.  I've tried new nutrition and found that it is something that will work for me.  And even more than all of that, my new gear for cold weather performed better than expected.  Above and beyond anything, I am thrilled with that.  18 degrees plus a constant 5-10 mile per hour wind gives a wind chill around 9 degrees F as an average.  And in all of that, I could stand or sit still for a short time without any major chill.    It was not that long ago that I was terrified of hypothermia.  After this morning, I know I am good for upto 3 hours in subfreezing weather and I know what kind of gear I need to wear to be so.  I went further on an injured foot in these crazy temperature, to boot. Maybe it sounds crazy, but I feel more alive, not being afraid of the cold anymore.

Nutritional Facts on the Gatorade Nutrition Bar:
Calories    230    Sodium    170 mg
Total Fat    4 g    Potassium    430 mg
Saturated    1 g    Total Carbs    39 g
Polyunsaturated    0 g    Dietary Fiber    2 g
Monounsaturated    0 g    Sugars    16 g
Trans    0 g    Protein    10 g
Cholesterol    10 mg        
Vitamin A    20%    Calcium    30%
Vitamin C    45%    Iron    6%

Friday, January 20, 2012

Running With Injuries

"You have to pick your battles. And not all the battles you pick are going to bring you victory."

I am not sure who, exactly, said that. And I am pretty sure they weren't talking about running. But I try to remember that every time I suffer a setback. For me, the important thing is to just forge ahead and keep on keeping on.

I have certainly, in my short running career, had a good share of injuries. Some I've managed to overcome. Some are a constant struggle. A few are daunting challenges and leave me fearful.
Hypothermia left me fearful, to be sure. Between the Polar Bear Plunge, where I learned that I could keep pushing myself in the face of extraordinary circumstances and the new running equipment I got, I've been able to largely put that behind me. It still creeps up in my mind from time to time, like for my long run tomorrow where the temps are expected to be in the 20s when I get started. But for the most part, it is settled for me.

I was once in the Army. I trained hard to go into the Army and worked hard while I was in. But the repeated stress took its toll and one day on a run, I was ordered to fall out because I was limping. I didn't want to. I wanted to keep on going. Eventually, the Army would determine that I had damaged my knees. When I got out of the Army, I stopped running and let my knee pain become my big excuse.

It wasn't until I had someone in my life who cared enough to drag me off my couch that I sat down and had a negotiation with my pain. And then we started training. She really showed me that she cares and even though things have come between us, there is not a day that goes by that she doesn't motivate me, even if she doesn't know it.

Early on in my training, I had a plantar plate disruption (turf toe). I didn't have the right shoes and caused myself a great deal of discomfort. The Doctors at the VA wanted to put me in a post-op boot. Yuck! I declined and they advised me that it might not ever heal correctly. They gave me some inserts that helped a great deal and I've been dealing with it ever since. Almost 2 years later, it still aches a little, but that was a battle I chose and fortunately, I've conquered that one.

Over the course of the past year, I've had other problems. My IT Band would flare up on longer runs, I've had various heat-related problems, cold related problems and muscle problems. My current ailment is a pain on the front of my right heel. Is it a stone bruise? Is it Plantar Fasciitis? Or something else? I don't know. I'm not liking the idea of going to the doctor because I figure he'll say I should stay off it.

But taking a break from getting out there is the hardest part. I had so much help to build my motivation the first time that I constantly worry if I I take a break if I will be able to muster the motivation to get back out there after an injury. So I often run hurt. It's hard not to for me. I've run so often with various hurts that I do wonder just what I could do if I ran without injury.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Be Prepared!

*** I want to take a quick moment to say that Sloan did contact me back shortly after I posted my last entry in this blog, and that we are now working together to fine-tune my diet and get some positive work going on my weight and my ability to perform.***

This morning began last night as I used the last of the KT tape to tape my foot and my right knee. I only had the two strips, so I did the best I could. Then I pulled out my new compression shorts (I just got them last night, so I was stoked about that.), my wind suit, shoes and socks and put my computer in my backpack. I would carry it with me since I am oncall this weekend.

Oh, I could hide 'neath the wings
of the bluebird as she sings.
The six o'clock alarm would never ring.
But it rings and I rise,
Wipe the sleep out of my eyes.
The wind outside is cold and it stings...

Ok, so I took a few liberties with the last line to make it fit today. The six o'clock alarm did ring, however, and I got up, even though I struggled to do so. One step at a time, I got my running clothes on, layering my body the best I could without going overboard. The one thing that I grew concerned about was that the jacket might not have enough protection on my arms, so I took an old set of tube socks out of my drawer that I haven't worn in years and I cut the toes out and put them on as sleeves.

  Slipping on my jacket and grabbing my gloves, cap and headlamp, I was finally ready to do battle with the cold. The thermometer showed 34 degrees as I drove down to McDonalds for my traditional pre-game fuel -- a breakfast burrito. (Sloan's gonna kill me for this) I actually bought 2 and some hot cocoa, but only had a few sips out of the cocoa and I ran with the other burrito in my pocket in case I needed extra fuel.

I arrived at the fairgrounds and looked around as I finished my burrito. It was stil dark, but it was a bit later than I had wanted to get started. I got everything organized, slipping on my new UnderArmor glove inserts (i had worn them at the Polar Bear Plunge and they had worked much better than I had imagined, so I decided not to use them as inserts but as my only glove -- a great decision). I donned my UA Storm Beanie and my headlamp and filled my pockets with the necessities, 2 bottles of Gatorade, a Tigers Milk bar, my truck keys, and the second burrito. I slipped my phone on my belt, grabbed a pack of gum, and strapped on my computer and started off. The course was supposed to be 6 miles for the day and I had every intention of making that. I was ready and I was back.

 As always, I start off strong and am running some pretty tight intervals for me. The first mile goes by and I am feeling pretty good. It is windy, but not too bad. I feel the sore spot in my foot, but not too bad. My quad and my IT Band are kinda tight, but not too bad. My fingers were a little cool starting out but I notice that by the end of the first mile, I am actually quite toasty, a very good sign. I take a moment to enjoy this fact and I drink about half my first bottle of gatorade. Carry on.

Mile 2 puts me in the middle of TU and I've had to stop a coupe of times, but I am feeling real good about the time so far. I started off at least 10 minutes after 7 and it is just now 8 at the 2 mile mark. I didn't stop and do the math, but I am pretty sure it is the best 2 mile effort I have had in a year! That gets me excited, but then my foot starts protesting a bit more. I slow down hoping it will work itself out. It never does, but it doesn't get too much worse. At 3 and a half miles, I figure I'll cut the run short this morning and just head in. I'd rather save the foot than push it and hurt it worse.

I cut my losses and headed on it, saving my foot in the process. A grand total of 4.25 miles, further than I did last weekend and more importantly, further than I had made it on the Rt66! Under similar conditions! This has made a very positive impact on me! I wish I had this gear for that race, I might have just made it! So, it is good to have the right gear!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Overhaul and Motivation

Ok, so having attended the Nutrition class at Runners World last weekend and then the article I read yesterday from Dave Ramsey and then watching some video clips last night about dramatic sports finishes (mostly running, but also the 1984 Miracle on Ice) and some interviews with Ironman Triathletes, I came to a realization last night and this morning that I need an overhaul. Top to bottom, I need to reorganize and rework the way I am doing things to make them more healthy.

Time for a little transparancy here. I have not been doing everything I can to lose weight and get into shape. I talked to Sloan Sunday like I didn't have a clue why I was having such a long plateau, and told her then that I needed to chart my food intake for a couple of days anyway. She wanted me to send it to her, and I did. I went from Sunday to Tuesday and what I saw as I did that just blew me away! I've not heard back from her, but do I really need to? Sunday alone, I took in a tremendous amount of calories. Lets just say I won't be getting Sonic's Steak and Egg burrito again anytime soon. What happened to me? I had been doing so good.

Laziness is what happened. I let my guard down and I have been fortunate not to have paid for it worse than I am. So, time for an overhaul. Top to bottom. Going forward, I track everything that goes into my mouth - only exceptions, water and meds. Water's free and meds are kinda necessary. I may not like what I see but until I get back to being hyper-aware of what I am doing, I can't fix it. So, onward from here.

Something else I realized while I was watching those video clips was something I kinda hinted at when I ran the Zoo Run a few months ago. I watched people coming across the finish line who had given it their all. The guy who had to crawl across the finish line at Canberra in 2010, the 1992 finish of Derek Redmond after his hamstring snapped, a video of Sarah Reinertsen talking about her first attempt at Kona and her return with her bike, Unfinished Business, The video of the two women, Sian Welch and Wendy Ingraham, fighting to finish in 1997 at Kona and falling, each of them standing up again and trying to take a step and then falling again, finally crawling across the finish line. These scenes told their stories. These are people who gave EVERYTHING in them to finish their races. They didn't give up, no matter what the odds, no matter what the pain. They gave it their all.

When I ran the zoo run, I'd been training for the Rt66 Half and I was very disappointed that I had not run a better race, that I had not given my all in the race. I could have done better and should have, the way I feel about it. Somewhere, somehow, I didn't pour everything I had into it. And I knew I had wanted to. Why not? I am not sure, at least not yet. But I do know that I WANT to pour everything into my races. I WANT to be like that guy whose legs just gave out and couldn't walk anymore. I WANT to be like those girls who tried so hard, not once, but several times to stand and cross the finish line on their feet but couldn't. I WANT to be like Derek Redmond and just give my all to JUST FINISH, no matter the pain. I can't explain it but something deep inside wells up at these thoughts!

So, the complete overhaul begins. Because I can't bear the thought of going through all of this and not give it my all.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What. Am. I. Doing?!?!!?!

The disappointment of my failure at the Rt66 is still fresh in my mind as I try to work through all my thoughts of where I've been and where I'm going to.  I've had a lot of encouragement to not let this get me down.  People saying that they are proud of me just getting out there or inspired by my brave attempts.  (Their words, not mine - You know who you are. :-P) So I decide that the entire year of 2012 is going to be one long training session for a marathon race.  No more training for halfs or short races.  All the chips are in.  Any halfs I run are just going to be training runs for the big thing. 

Through all the encouragement, people kept suggesting races to do.  Well, someone suggested the Little Rock Half.  I looked at it since it was where I lived for a while just out of high school.  When I looked at the map, I realized that it ran right by my first apartment.  But I was still reticent.  So I prayed and put it in God's hands.  If I am supposed to do the Little Rock Half, then I will get the extra money I need before the month is out, I said.  And I did.  So I signed up and now I'm going to Little Rock.  Great.  So now I need to get out in the cold and train. 

But the fear nags at me.  I got hypothermia.  Me.  The guy who hasn't been afraid of the cold.  At the beginning of the year I did the Race into the New Year and the wind was blowing hard and race time temps were in the 20s before the wind chill and I welcomed it.  Mr. I was stationed in Alaska.  And that bothered me.  A lot. 

So I tried to figure out how to approach this.  I knew I had to get over the fear... to know I could put myself out there and still perform.  I also knew that I needed to find a better way of protecting myself, especially from the wind. 

Facing my fears head on, I signed up for the TATUR Polar Bear Plunge to prove to myself that I could get beyond it and I could accept it.  I also found a good Russell Athletics wind suit to help with my training.  So the first day I got out in my wind suit, it was just the pants and it was the day before the polar bear plunge.  The suit worked great, but I had to pull up short because of a foot problem.  Sometime the week or so before, I had stressed something in my foot, either the Plantar Fascia or I'd stepped on something wrong.  So I started having pain just on the front part of my heal.  I went ahead and ran on it at the training run New Years Eve, but it hurt and I decided I could cut the run short and save it.  I was scheduled to do another 2 miles the next day anyway, so I stopped after 3 and a half miles. 

Sunday morning comes and I tape my foot and get my stuff ready.  Temperatures were predicted to be in the mid 50s so I didn't want to over dress for the run.  I settled on a 2-layer system with compression shorts , thin socks, a rayon-type technical on the under-layer and my normal running shorts and running shirt as the outer layer.  I also made sure I had towel and robe and good dry clothes to change into afterward.  And I had bought some Under Armor ColdGear moisture-wicking liner gloves, I decided to wear them as well.  The last part turned out to be an excellent idea.

So, I turn up at the race and I'm in the first heat, which is a good thing.  The gun goes off and I get started, but my foot starts giving me fits quickly.  It started getting difficult in the sand part of the run, but I kept going.  Backtracking to the dock, I managed around that obstacle with some discomfort - not just from my foot but from the fear of falling in!  Finally, I hauled myself up from the dock and was on my way to the first of 3 pools. 

The first pool was a bit of a cheat.  I was allowed stay mostly dry and just get my feet and legs up tot he knees wet.  This was the warmest pool and yet it was very painful, as I had the pins and needles feeling in my feet.  But 1 down, 2 to go.  The next pool was the horror I had expected.  No way through it but to be drenched.  I pulled my swim goggles on and didn't let myself hesitate any longer than to determine the best path.  So I dove in.

The first instant didn't bother me so much.  But then I came to the surface and tried to breathe.  At that point, I knew I was in trouble because I couldn't get a good lungful of air.  I also couldn't touch the bottom and I wasn't near enough to the edge to grab it.  So I said that I was in trouble and couldn't breathe.  It must have been largely psychological because as soon as the hook reached out and I touched it, I was able to get a good breath and move on to the end of the pool.

Onward to the last pool, at this point it was just a painful trudge.  By the time I got there, the water was very murky and I had difficulty seeing where I wanted to jump in at.  I spent several minutes on the edge and looking in the water got my nerves going.  Finally, I jumped in feet first.  The water was absolutely frigid and needles and knives cut through me as I slogged my way to the steps and up and out of the pool.  I pondered my achievement then realized the race wasn't done yet.  I slogged on to the finish line and finally was done.  I considered the hot tubs at the end, but decided against them as the water had become tepid and would only serve to prolong the time I was wet.  The gloves I wore performed better than I could have expected, though.  The one part of my body that wasn't freezing was my hands!

Finally, I went in and collected my bag and got changed. I felt pretty good walking out of the tent but knew that I needed to get something to eat quickly.  I had a single piece of pizza provided onsite, but really had problems eating it.  So I went and got something else on my way home, but already felt the nausea of exhaustion waving over me.  I got home and laid down and nursed myself as much as possible, but it was too late.  I had 1 more run left in me that day -- The run for the porcilin.  Finally, I was done.  Rest and a warm bed for the rest of the day and I felt better, emotionally, physically, and mentally.  Onward from here.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Picking up and Brushing Off

It is history now.  My first half marathon didn't go anywhere near as planned.  Getting out there early in the cold wind and then standing for nearly an hour before the start... An hour that I could have been on the course and generating heat... It hurt me in ways that I couldn't, at the time, realize.  Almost 2 hours into the race and only 4 miles into the course, I fell victim to the cold and wind and my body succumbed to hypothermia for the second time in a month (the first time had been a mild case on a previous training run and I was able to manage the symptoms without medical intervention).  I was angry with myself and disappointed by my failure.  Sitting in the medical bus trying to regain my body heat, I watched others cross the finish line where I couldn't.  I wondered if I had bitten off too much... If maybe I was never meant to do even such moderate distances as the half.

Several hours after having started the course and only a little while after I had finally been released from medical, I sat on my bed at home drinking some hot cocoa, still trying to finish warming up and thinking that I should just stop trying to go for such distances.  3.1, I thought.  That is a good number.  It's more than most people my size ever do, anyway.  I don't have to prove anything to myself and I don't want to ever be cold like that again.  Why put myself through it.  These were the thoughts that danced in my head.  I posted my faliure on facebook and I talked it over with my friends and my pace leaders from Runner's World.  I was mad at myself, mad at the weather and mad at the race organizers and I said I'd never train for a half again.  I meant it.

But something my friends will say is that Robert may quit, but he can never stay quit for very long.  My anger started getting the better of me and I decided I still wasn't going to train for a half... but that I would use another half a step in a bigger training program.  The only kink I have in this is a little fear I've developed of the cold and hypothermia.  So, I have worked on that, getting new gear and doing things to help me get past that.  More on this in the next blog.

What is this?

Up in the mornin', 'fore day
I don' like it, no way.
Eat my breakfast, too soon.
Hungry as a mad dog, 'fore noon.
Went to the mess Sergeant, on my knees
"Mess Sergeant, Mess Sergeant feed me please!"
Mess Sergeant said witha big wide grin
"If you wanna be Airborne you gotta be thin"
Up in the morning at the break of day
Working so hard we never play
Running through the jungle where the sun don't shine
All I do is double time.
Welcome to my blog.  I am going to try to update this weekly along with my training runs(walks, whatever - when you get out for several miles carrying an extra 200 pounds, you call it whatever you want :-) ). The above words are from an old US Army Running Cadence and that's where I got the name for this blog.  It just seemed appropriate, as you may see.
Some people think I am crazy.  Oh, ok, everyone thinks I'm crazy.  On Saturday mornings, way before the break of day and usually with only a couple of hours of sleep, I am hitting the road, doing my best to get my milage in while everyone else catches up to me.  How early I start often depends on the milage.  Usually somewhere between 4 and 5am, while the rest of Tulsa lies snuggled up under their blankets and sheets, snoozing peacefully.
I've only recently started doing this, although I've been doing this "running thang" for over a year now.  I say recently, but I started with the group at Runners World Tulsa in June of last year.  That's when I started training for my first half marathon.  Before that time, the furthest distance I had gone since the Army, nearly 30 years ago, was 3.1 miles.  And it was hard for me to get even that short distance.  But through the program, I started getting further and further, eventually up to 10.5 miles in one day.  Unfortunately, weather and poor planning got the better of me on race day and I only got 4 miles before ending up in medical for hypothermia.
At that point, I wanted to just give up and stay with the shorter distance runs, but something in me just wouldn't let me, so I am back at it again, training for another half marathon and you, dear readers, are lucky enough to read about my misfortune and torture.  So... enjoy.