Friday, May 21, 2010

Adjusting to early morning runs

Warning: this is a really boring post.

I've been on the day shift for 4 weeks now, and my body is finally starting to adjust.  I have been getting up at 5:30 most mornings, running many of those mornings.  Since the 5K a couple weeks ago, I haven't made a new schedule, so I'm just running most days, as long as I have time.  Not the best plan, I know.

When I was running after taking the kids to school, I had time to eat breakfast, mostly digest it, and be up and around for an hour or two before running.  Now I get up, groggily grope around in the dark getting dressed and finding my Garmin and ipod, drink a little water, eat half a banana, then hit the road.  It takes me some time to get the kinks out; those first steps, I'm stiff and creaky.  It takes a lot longer to warm up.

Right now I'm having a hard time conceiving of getting in the mileage I used to put in leading up to a marathon or ultra.  We'll see what happens when I get a race on the calendar and have a more directed running plan.

So this won't be a totally boring post, I'll add this mildly amusing cartoon:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Different Kind of Ultramarathon

In the mid-1980s, Valentino Achak Deng and thousands of other refugees set out from their homes in southern Sudan to refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya.  Over the course of months they walked, mostly barefoot, with little if any clothing, for hundreds of miles.  Many of the walkers were the "Lost Boys," many of whom had witnessed the horrors of their parents being murdered, their homes and villages being burned, and worse.  They had little choice but to keep walking. 
Some of their other choices included:
  • being captured by the rebel soldiers and forced to fight
  • being captured by the Arabs and forced to serve as slaves
  • being eaten by lions
  • being eaten by crocodiles at one of the river crossings
  • being eaten by the circling vultures, who tried to eat walkers who stayed in one place
  • drowning in the river crossings
  • dying of malnutrition
  • dying of disease
As noted here a few weeks ago, some runners pay good money to trek across a different part of Africa.  Reading Achak's story in What is the What is a great reminder to me what a privilege running for the sake of running is, with no fear of attack or capture, with plenty of food and water, and a home and family to return to.

Achak and author Dave Eggers started a foundation to assist Sudanese refugees and promote development in Marial Bai. That must be immensely satisfying for Achak to be able to make such a huge difference in his hometown. Read about the foundation and his work here.

Friday, May 14, 2010

24 incredible hours of running

I just can't let this go without comment.  The International Association of Ultra Runners just held their 24 hour world championship.  Shingo Inoue of Japan won, running 273.708 kilometers in 24 hours.  That's a pace of 8:28 minutes/mile, about the pace I ran my fastest marathon (3:35:32).  To keep up that pace for 24 hours boggles the mind.  Scott Jurek, who has won Western States 7 times and Badwater twice, took second, running 266.677 km, setting an American 24 hour record.  Amy Palmiero-Winters, the first amputee to ever make the American team, was the fourth female American finisher, running 199.544 km.  (I saw her at White Rock last year.)
Jurek celebrates breaking the American record.

It must take a huge amount of mental toughness to finish this type of race.  These races are typically run on a short loop; this one was 1.25 km.  The sheer monotony of the course must be enough to drive many runners nuts.  As crazy as this race sounds, it has a strange appeal to me.  Maybe one of these days I'll run one.

Article here.
Official results here.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Things Seen While Running: Cute Little Geese!

Last fall I wrote here about some animals I saw while running, including the geese by our lake.  They have goslings again this year!  They're so cute.  But the mommy and daddy geese hiss at me when I come around, even running after me sometimes.  The goslings try to hiss, too, but they're more cute than threatening.

The gosling who bravely ventured into the water with his mom had a difficult time getting back up out of the lake and was almost left behind!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Official Results: Amazing RiverRun 2010

Official results of the 2010 Amazing RiverRun have been posted here.

My official time: 24:49, 4th in my age group (35-44), 30 seconds behind #3.  I should have pushed just a little harder. . . .  Thirteenth overall.

With the shorter training window, and more realistic possibility of improved results, running this little race sort of makes me want to race in some more 5Ks and 10Ks.  I'm still planning on the Palo Duro 50 mile race in October, and the White Rock Marathon in December, but in the meantime, I may seek out some short races to complement my training.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Amazing RiverRUN 2010

Tonight was the 5K sponsored by my boys' school, River Trails Elementary.  One of the people helping to organize told Kelly they had over 300 register, a huge leap from last year.  The volunteers who put this on do a great job, with professional timing, nice goody bags from the sponsors, hot dogs, bananas, and chips at the finish, and fun family atmosphere.

This was my first time to run a 5K all out.  The ones I've run before, I've just run at my kids' pace, pushing Chloe in her wheelchair.  My best 10K time is about 47:28, and I guess ideally I could run a 5K in less than 1/2 that.  But I'm a little out of shape, so I set my goal at 25 minutes.  According to my Garmin, I made it in 24:50, closer than I thought I'd be to missing goal.  I am not sure what the official time was.

The overall winner tonight ran in 18 something; I don't know that I'll ever be able to run that fast.  Last year the winner in the male 35-44 category ran in 25:52, so I secretly hoped I could come away winning my division, but I didn't even make the top 3.  Were I in the 26-34 division, I would have taken second; in the 45 and up division, I think I would have won first.

Most importantly, we all had a good time.  Zippy skipped the run and went to McDonald's with the Johnsons.  Elliot ran with some friends, Kelly pushed Chloe and walked/ran with our friend Mandye.  After I finished, I circled back and pushed Chloe for the last mile and quarter or so.  We were all stinky and tired.  Maybe the kids will sleep extra late tomorrow.
Elliot and pals

Mandye and Aaron

I got to run with the 2 most beautiful girls in the world.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Nice Place to Run: The Lake at Lakes of River Trails South

Of all the places I run, I am pretty partial to the lake at Lakes of River Trails South, chiefly because it's out my front door.  Convenience is certainly the number one attribute for me, but it's great for a few other reasons, too.  One lap around the lake is right at a mile; it's actually a tad less, so if you want to run your best mile, you can tell yourself it's a full mile around and shave a few seconds off your time instantly.  I like to run intervals here because the surface is predictable--a wide, level sidewalk, with very few cracks, all the way around.
Besides all that, it's just pretty.  One side of the lake is lined with trees, and the side with houses has a nice hill up from the sidewalk to the houses.  The HOA put in some benches along the lake, picnic tables at one end, and recently added a volleyball court, tetherball pole, and a horseshoe pit.
I share the lake with a variety of water foul (you can see the Canada geese at the bottom of the picture above if you look closely).  There are some decent sized fish in the lake (eat them at your own risk), and a few years ago someone caught several ugly gar.  This morning I saw a beaver, and one morning a while back I was chased by a skunk.

So come for a run at our little lake.  Look for the overweight guy wearing Vibram Five Fingers, running really slowly or huffing and puffing through a set of Yasso 800s.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Need a little inspiration?

If you ever need some inspiration to overcome obstacles in your life, you need look no further than the ranks of disabled athletes who accomplish feats most able-bodied folks never even try.  (I wrote of my brief encounter with one here.)  Scott Rigsby has accomplished what many never dream of trying, and what many who tried, failed to finish: completed an Ironman Triathlon.  For the uninitiated, a triathlon is a race in which athletes swim, then bike, then run.  Races can be a variety of distances, but the Ironman distance is 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run.  A momentous feat for anyone who attempts it, but for Scott Rigsby, even more so: he did so on two prosthetic feet!  He is the first double amputee to complete an Ironman triathlon.
Rigsby lost a leg due to injuries sustained in a terrible accident.  He was riding in the back of a truck, and when they were sideswiped by an eighteen wheeler, he bounced out of the bed and was dragged under the trailer they were towing.  One leg had to be amputated immediately.  The doctors reconstructed the other, but after years of problems with infection and incomplete healing, Rigsby had the other one amputated as well.

The accident happened the summer after he graduated from high school.  Scott's plans for college went out the window, and for many years he struggled with purpose and meaning.  Seeking fulfillment in drink, drugs, women, and money, he coasted through life until, through the patient ministry of a campus minister, Rigsby gave his life to Christ.  Rigsby is very honest about his life after becoming a Christian.  Besides the usual struggles of a 20-something new Christian, he had to deal with erratic behavior caused by his traumatic brain injury, the emotional and physical pain of being a double amputee, and the difficulties of finding and keeping steady work in light of his TBI and physical disabilities.  He eventually did graduate, but had a hard time maintaining a career.

His moment of revelation came shortly after Christmas in 2005.  After reflecting on what an aimless mess he had made of his life, his mom, a faithful Christian, prayed with him.  He responded by telling God, "If you will open up a door for me, I will run through it!"  He didn't know how literally God would take that promise.  A few weeks later a magazine cover caught his eye.  It featured a single amputee who had completed the Ironman triathlon in Hawaii.  He read that article, then picked up another magazine with an article about a soldier who had returned to Iraq after having a leg blown off.  In those few minutes, he sensed that he had found the door he had asked God for: he was going to compete in an Ironman triathlon!

The tone of Rigsby's book, and the tone of his whole life, changed at that point.  He was a high school athlete and an active kid before his accident, but he had never done anything like a triathlon.  He had to learn how to swim again, teach himself to run on his prosthetic legs, and figure out how to ride a bike  with prosthetics.  I couldn't help being impressed and inspired by his determination and commitment.  The best passages are where he describes his experience at the Emerald Coast Sprint Triathlon in Panama City, Florida (1/3 mile swim, 15 mile bike, 3.1 run).  Before this, he had never even run a 5K, and was completely clueless about transitions between events, equipment, and racing.  He finished dead last (I can relate to that) but realized that he could do it, and left that day even more determined to finish an Ironman.

I thoroughly enjoyed Rigsby's story, but I think I would have enjoyed a substantial magazine article just as much.  In the first half of the book he tells every excruciating detail of his life.  I wondered if the publisher said, "OK, this has to be at least 250 pages, so you need to add more filler," and he went back to tell stories and conversations that didn't add much to his story but added to the length.  His coauthor, Jenna Glatzer, has written books about Celine Dion and Marilyn Monroe, so I guess the People magazine style of writing is to be expected.  (And I wonder why they decided to capitalize the T in UnThinkable in the title?  That kind of thing drives me crazy!)

My petty criticisms of the book aside, Rigsby has my full admiration.  He has started The Scott Rigsby Foundation, "dedicated to influencing all physically challenged people and youth to pursue an active lifestyle."  He is an active and inspiring speaker, traveling to schools, hospitals, churches, and companies, telling his story and encouraging the physically disabled and able bodied alike to pursue their dreams and reach for fantastic goals in spite of what might stand in their way.  He challenges all of us to pursue a dream bigger than what we think we can accomplish, and make that dream a mission that can change the world.  Thanks for the inspiration and more power to you, Scott!