Monday, June 20, 2016

Running with Bowling Balls

I don't bowl much.  A few weeks ago I bowled for the first time in a while with my team from work on a team outing.  Let it be known: I'm a bad bowler.  I barely broke 100 with a few lucky strikes the first game, then the second and third games I choked.  So why am I writing about bowling on a running blog?

I bowled with a 12 pound ball.  I don't normally have a good mental concept of what 12 pounds weighs.  It's sort of heavy, when concentrated into a bowling ball.  Then I realized, since the peak of my running a few years ago, I have packed on the equivalent of more than 2 of these bowling balls!  Since my college weight (and I was never known to be particularly thin), I have added more than 3 of them!

I know my pants are a little tighter than they were 3-4 years ago, when I was putting in a good number of miles each week.  But when put in terms of bowling balls, it really hits home.  I can't imagine trying to run while carrying 2 or 3 bowling balls.  Even if I put them in a backpack, it would be extremely tough.  But that is what I have done to myself.

I haven't run consistently in some time.  My main excuse is getting Zippy to school at 7 every morning for gymnastics.  We left the house at 6:40 every day, I dropped him off and went straight to work.  Getting up early enough to run before that just wasn't happening.

School's out now, and Zippy is done with early gymnastics (next year he'll have gymnastics after school), so my excuses have diminished.  Out of the last 21 days, I have run 16 (and biked 9 miles one day).  I'm not going far, usually just 2 and half miles or so, nor am I going fast, a 10 or 11 minute pace.  But it's a start.  I do have an excuse for not going fast: I am carrying two 12 pound bowling balls!

Now if I can build up some mileage, while finding some resolve not to eat and drink with abandon, as I have been doing, maybe I can drop some pounds and pick up the pace.  It sure would be nice to get rid of my bowling balls.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Dallas Marathon--new PR!

I'm the first to admit this may not have been the smartest thing I've ever done.

If you have read this blog before, you will realize the last time I ran an organized race was my 2013 DNF at the Rockledge Rumble.  I haven't run a lot since then.  Over the summer I decided to sign up for the Dallas Marathon.  It was August, so I had four months to train.  Unfortunately, training never happened.

December rolled around, and I decided that, since I paid the fee, I might as well show up and participate.  So on virtually no training, I showed up this morning for rainy start.  The posted time limit was 6 1/2 hours.  I printed a 6 hour pacing wrist band and hit the road.  I stayed on pace pretty well for the first 14-15 miles, then miles 18-20 were slower, dropping me out of the six hour finish range.  My average pace was 14:05, for a final time of 6:14, the slowest road marathon I've ever run, by more than two hours.

As often happens when I run (or walk/run/jog) a race, I am left feeling tired and thankful.  I am thankful for:

  • My body.  Today I abused my body, putting it through an ordeal it didn't deserve.  I'm feeling it now, and will feel it more tomorrow, I'm sure.  I don't eat particularly well, and don't exercise enough, but I don't get sick much and can run 26.2 miles on no training.  For that I'm thankful.
  • To continue that thought, today I saw a young lady being pushed in an oversized jogging stroller by her friends.  I saw a guy with two crutches running.  I saw several people who, judging by their gait and posture, clearly had some kind of physical disability.  Those runners are so inspiring, making me feel humbled for taking my own lack of disabilities for granted.
  • The race organizers and volunteers.  I couldn't even begin to count the number of people passing out drinks on the course, cleaning up cups and gel packs dropped by the runners, passing out medals and bananas at the end, taking care of injured runners, playing in the many bands along the course, cheering on friends and strangers.  The Dallas Marathon is well-supported and provides a fun atmosphere.  
  • The great weather.  This is why we love Texas in the winter!  We ran in light rain for the first part of the race, but mostly it was cool and overcast, perfect running weather!
  • My sweet family.  Kelly, Chloe, and Zippy came to Dallas to meet me along the course.  We thought we had the time and place all worked out, but we never could get together.  Thanks for trying, though!
  • My sweet wife.  Kelly greeted me at the car to see if I needed help getting to the house.  I barely made it on my own. . . .  Then she drew a nice bath for me and my sore body.
  • Craig Alonzo from Irving.  We kept leap-frogging each other, so finally instead of passing him I decided to run with him for a while.  We were in the same boat, survival mode, but he had a better excuse, as he was running with a limp.  He had clearly done something to injure himself.  He helped me get a (relatively) good pace back when I needed it.  Craig, I see you finished!  I hope your wife was waiting for you at the finish!
  • Jesika and Jolene Posthuma from Wisconsin.  We were also leap-frogging for a while.  They had on some rather distinctive matching tights, so I couldn't miss them.  A couple miles before the finish I caught up with them and visited with them for a couple miles.  They were walking at a good pace, a bit faster than my running pace at that time, so they pushed me along for a couple miles.  These sisters travelled all the way from Wisconsin to run in Dallas!  Wow!
  • Finally, I'm thankful I have the day off of work tomorrow!  I think I could use some rest!

So, my word of advice for runners out there: if you sign up for a marathon, train for it.  At least a little bit.  I'm not saying I'll never do this again, running a marathon when I haven't run a step for two months, but I'll certainly think twice about it and come up with a plan.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Rockledge Rumble DNF

Lining up for the 7 a.m. start.
I've always said that the only way for me to stay motivated to run consistently is to have a run on the calendar for which I am training.  I will add to that: I need a run on the calendar AND a specific training plan to get me going every day.

I registered for the Rockledge Rumble 50K and had some spurts of decently consistent training, but never made a training calendar and didn't train as consistently as I needed to.  I knew I wasn't in 50K shape, and e-mailed the race director to request placement in a shorter distance (they had a 15K and 30K).  She wrote back saying all distances are full, and that I couldn't change.  I debated just showing up and getting my race t-shirt, but decided to give it a shot and see if I could get in under the 8:30 time limit.

The good news is that this was a perfect day for running.  Cool and cloudy most of the morning, it was shorts and short sleeves weather (for running).  It did warm up a bit later, and the sun came out, but it was still comfortable.  And, of course, the trails on the north short of Lake Grapevine are terrific to run on.

I considered walking the first 10 miles to conserve energy, but decided I would just take it slow.  I started at the back of the pack, and stayed there.  For the first 10 miles or so I kept a pretty steady 14 minute pace, just what I needed to finish by the cutoff, with a little time to spare.  The next 7-8 miles, I slowed 2-3 minutes per mile, walking some, but still within time for the cutoff.  But after 20 miles, I tried to run but just couldn't get my body to cooperate.  I thought after I got to the last aid station I could find a new reserve of energy and pick up the pace for the last 5 miles back to the start.  Alas, when the aid station came in sight, they were packing up, and informed me that I had missed the cutoff by 5 minutes.  DNF for me.

I hate that I didn't push myself to pick up the pace, but I did enjoy my time on the trail.  If I can't be at Floyd Casey Stadium cheering for the Bears (They played on Thursday night this week.), running--or walking--at Lake Grapevine is a great alternative.

Next race, I'll make a training calendar!

These races could not happen without a ton of race volunteers.
These ladies would disagree with my statement that today was a great shorts and short sleeves day!
More terrific aid station volunteers.  Thanks for being there!
The trails and the trees and the views of the lake make this trail system and this race worth showing up for.  So close to the city, but so easy to feel all alone in the woods.

Me with R.D. Cindy Melder, who told me not to be a sissy and man up for my 50K.  OK, she didn't exactly say it like that.  But she deserves a boatload of thanks and good wishes for doing such a great job for the second year in a row, organizing D/FW's premier trail race.  Thanks Cindy!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Whispering Pines Race Report

Last weekend, Endurance Buzz Adventures hosted another great trail race at Tyler State Park.  I have never run there before, and haven't spent much time in East Texas.  A couple hours from home, it felt like traveling to another region, with the tall piney woods that seem so different from Fort Worth's trees.  Tyler State Park is a beautiful park, and the trails are hilly but very runnable.

In a rare moment of realistic expectations, I actually registered for the 20 mile race rather than the 50K.  I felt like I had enough of a base built up that I could do relatively well in the 20M, but knew 50K would be a stretch.  I was right.  The warm, humid day slowed me down.  I took it pretty easy most of the day, then really slowed the last couple of miles.  I was exceedingly glad that I did not have another loop to run!  I ended up finishing in 4:55:27, good for 31st out of 40 overall, 20/22 male. 

This was a hot, sweaty, steamy race for me.  My clothes quickly became completely soaked with sweat, but I managed to stay well hydrated.  I have eaten my last Sport Beans.  Every time I ate some during this race, I got nauseous.  Thankfully, the aid stations were well-supplied.  Dave Hanenburg continues his streak of awesome races with Whispering Pines.  This was my fourth EBA race, and every one is better than the one before.  Thanks, Dave!

The bonus for the weekend is that the whole family came out to camp!  The boys each brought a friend, and they played like crazy men all weekend.  After the race, we went canoeing and swimming, then back to camp.  Thankfully, they weren't too disappointed when I declined to go on a trail run with them in the afternoon.  We would love a return trip to Tyler S.P., although I think all of us would like to go back when it's a bit cooler.
My friend Brittany ran in her first trail race, and took 2nd place in the 10 mile!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Race for The Cure

As a fan of alt-rock band The Cure, I had to laugh at this cartoon:
The Argyle Sweater, by Scott Hillburn
In case you were not privileged to be a fan of The Cure, you may not get the reference. They were known for their distinctive mops:
Who knows if these guys are actually runners, but I get they get a kick out of all the races put on for them each year!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Daddy needs a new pairs of shoes

Traditional running shoe manufacturers will tell you to replace your running shoes every 300-500 miles.  The cushioned becomes compressed and worn out so that it no longer cushions.  Since I run in Vibram Five Fingers, which have no cushioning at all, I don't pay attention to the miles I put on a pair.  The attraction of VFFs is better "ground feel."  The foot responds to the ground and the runner's gait is a more natural, barefoot gait.  So I just run in my VFFs until the "ground feel" becomes a bit too close, as it did tonight.

I hadn't realized the sole was getting so thin there on the ball of my foot.  It's the same spot that always wears thin on my Vibrams (here and here).  But early on in last night's run, I started feeling a sort of hot spot.  I finally stopped to investigate, and sure enough there's a hole.
I completed the run and confirmed what I has suspected: once the hole was completely through the sole, a hole began to be worn through my foot.  (Kelly's right; I do have stubby little toes!)  Too much ground feel.
So, with Kelly and the kids in bed, I hopped on the internet and set out to order some new VFF sprints.  I have been running in these for several years, but it seems that Vibram is phasing them out.  Vibram has come out with so many varieties of running shoes (seemingly less and less minimalist) in recent years that I can't keep up.  One time I bought some Bikilas, but only ran a few miles in them before I knew they were not for me, so I sent them back.  With Vibram discontinuing them, I feared I would not be able to find my Sprints!  That would stink.

Thankfully, the good folks at had some in stock!  And, since they are an "endangered shoe," they are on sale.  I joined their VIP club for $2 and got 3 pair for under $100!  These used to retail for about $60-$80 a pair.  I'm so sad that Vibram has discontinued the Sprint.  These 3 pair will last me for at least a couple years.  After that, who knows what I'll do.

Oh, and since it was late at night and I was probably not thinking that clearly, I surfed over to REI and found some Vibram Treks, my go-to trail running shoes, for 1/2 price.  Sure enough, they are discontinued, so I picked up 2 pair.  Someday I'll have to find other shoes to run in.  In the meantime, I'm stocked up.

Friday, May 10, 2013

A graphic marathon

The legend of the first marathon is well-known in one form or another to marathon runners.  Boaz Yakin and Joe Infurnari tell the story in a dramatic way in their graphic novel, Marathon.  I am in no position to evaluate the historicity of their account.  Probably no one is, given that CNN wasn't there to record the events in 490 B.C.  The gist of the story is that the Athenians defeated the Persians at the Battle of Marathon, and a messenger ran all the way back to Athens to alert the city of the Athenian army's victory.

But was the runner Pheidippides?  Or Eucles?  According to Wikipedia, Plutarch was the first historian to mention this run, and he calls the runner Eucles.  A later historian calls him Philippides.  But of course the 19th century poet Robert Browning settled the matter with his poem Pheidippides, so now few remember the name Eucles.  Whatever the name, the victory of the Athenians over the Persians was significant for the future of democracy and Western civilization, and worth remembering.  Not to mention this race that thousands of us run every year. . . .

Yakin and Infurnari capture the history, the political background of the war, and the violent clashes in Yakin's sharp text and Infurnari's sketchy, sometimes chaotic illustration.  I personally am not a big fan of the style of illustration, and both the illustrations and the text sometimes seemed to leave too many gaps in the story and in the action.  Fans of graphic novels and movies with gladiator action will enjoy this bit of historical drama.
Marathon runners can relate to how he felt at the end of his run,
but most of us don't run while being pursued by armed men intent on killing us!