Friday, December 24, 2010

Back on my feet

I know you're supposed to rest a bit after a marathon, but since White Rock I have gone 18 whole days without running a step!!  Ugh!  Excuses?  Not really.  Just 1) lazy, 2) tired, and 3) lazy.  Plus, I don't have a running plan in place right now.  That's the main reason.  If I don't have a plan laid out telling me what to run today, I tend not to run.  I have decided not to run the Bandera (100K)/Rocky Raccoon (100 mile) combo I had said I would run (back in October).  I'm thinking my next run might be Cross Timbers (50 mile) in February.  Yes, as I crossed the finish line at the last one, I swore I'd never do it again.  But after coming in last place and nearly setting the record for the slowest time ever on the course (report here), I feel like I have to redeem myself.  Plus, I can probably beat my time from last year!

So this morning I slept in, but I did get out and run 8 miles.  I returned to my hilly route.  I didn't run there for several weeks leading up to White Rock, since I was focused on upping my pace.  If I go to Cross Timbers again, I will definitely have to be doing some hill work.

More importantly, whether you're running, sitting on the couch, flying or driving to see your family and friends, have a very merry Christmas!  I pray that Jesus will be more real to you than ever this year!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Jogging for Jesus, soul music style

More fun from my Google searching!  Ever heard of  Leslie Harris and the House of Fire?  Me neither.  But they recorded at least this one song, that, for its silliness, has stayed alive on the internet.  It is silly, but oddly addicting. . . .  Click on play and hear this musical treat for yourself!  (This link will take you to another site that plays the file.  It's safe as far as I can tell. . . .  And I have no idea if posting this falls under fair use, so if I'm breaking a law or violating copyright here, please forgive me.)

Early one Sunday morning Jesus came into my room.
He woke me up saying, "We gonna have a run."
I jumped up out of my bed, put on my jogging shoes.
My wife she woke up saying, "What are we gonna do."

And I told her (I told her!)
Jogging (I'm jogging!) for Jesus (for Jesus!)
Oh yes I am now! (I am)
I'll keep on, I'll keep on running with the Lord.

My wife, she got up, ran in the other room
Said "All of the children get up, we gonna have a run!"
And as we ran for a mile or two I noticed we never got tired.
Every time I looked around, God was by our side!


Some people jog-a for pleasure
Some people jog-a for fame
And all of us get in line, we're gonna jog-a in my Jesus' name
All of you people get up on your feet and put on your jogging shoes
And all of us get in line, we're gonna spread the news.

We are (we are) jogging (jogging) for Jesus!
We are running with the Lord!
(etc., ad lib, keep on running, keep on singing!)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Running with Jesus kitsch

In my last post, I wrote about my "Running with Jesus" friend at White Rock.  While looking for an image to include for that post, I ran across some Jesus kitsch that I thought I'd pass along.  I was reminded of the time when I was 12 and decided I would be a jogger.  I used my lawn mowing money to by some Nike running shoes with the waffle soles.  I saw a t-shirt in the Christian bookstore in the mall with a turtle wearing a sweatband that read "Jogging for Jesus."  I asked for the shirt for my birthday, but I didn't get it.  I wish I could find a picture of that shirt!  Here are some more modern interpretations of the theme.
I <em>Jog</em> With <em>Jesus</em> T-Shirt (Guys), Navy Blue, Medium
Looks like Jesus is in the lead.

<em>Jesus</em> the Jogger <em>Jog</em> Rectangle Magnet by CafePress
Does Jesus need to stretch before running?
He must have been pretty fit, walking everywhere he went.
Did people in the first century have a clue about stretching?
If Jesus stretched after a day's walking up toward Jerusalem, the disciples would probably have thought he was nuts.

<em>Jesus</em> is my <em>running</em> buddy keychain
Not a very good picture.  It says, "Jesus is my running buddy."  You can get this on key chains, shirts, mugs, bags, etc. at  Jesus is a good running buddy.  He never gets too far ahead or behind, doesn't care if you fart, and will always listen.
Here's another view of the one from the last blog.  Cute?  Dumb?  Silly?  Inspiring?  You be the judge.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Running with Jesus at White Rock

I know a lot of people use their running time as devotional time, enjoying fellowship with Jesus as they run.  I have to admit I'm not one of those people.  I do pray occasionally when I run, like when I'm struggling during a race, looking for divine power to go on.  But running time generally isn't prayer time for me.
Sunday at White Rock, I came up behind a runner whose shirt said "Running with Jesus" on the back.  I asked him if Jesus was helping him out today.  Sure, he said, but ask me again in 15 miles.  I told him about one time when I asked Jesus for help in a race.  Last February at Rocky Raccoon, I was tired, hurting a bit, and running out of steam.  I asked Jesus, sincerely, to give me some strength to go on.  He didn't take long to reply: I didn't ask you to run this race!  I didn't sign you up!  You're on your own, buddy!  (All of this said with a friendly punch in the arm.)  I had to agree with him, and knew that my training and my mental and physical stamina would get me through the race.

My Running with Jesus friend, after I told him that story, was not too impressed.  "He told you that, did he?"  I said, yeah, he didn't make me sign up today, but I sure could use some help.  So right there while we were running he put his hand on my shoulder and prayed for strength in my legs to go on.  I guess I did feel a little boost there!  (I sure could have used some more of his prayers around mile 21.) 

I quickly let my friend know that I am in fact a believer, and that I do believe in the efficacy of prayer, and that I meant no blasphemy by my story.  I'm sure that wasn't Jesus I heard from on the trail at Rocky.  I know the ability to run, the time and resources to train and enter a race, the beautiful places to run, the very air, water, and food I rely on to run, are all wonderful gifts from him.  But I'll continue to rely more on training than prayer to get me to the finish line.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pacing and negative splits

I've heard of negative splits.  I've even run negative splits in training runs.  But negative splits in a race?  Forget it!  Usually when I run in a race, I try to hold back at the start, to hold some energy in reserves for later in the race, but it's never enough.  Negative splits constantly elude me.

The official results page from White Rock lists the times and rank for 10K, 1/2 way, 20 miles, and finish.  I don't feel like figuring the paces for each of these, but it's instructive to look at the relative rankings of the winners.  The following is the rank at 10K, 13.1 miles, 20 miles, and at the finish for the top 10 males:
9, 5, 1, 1
7, 6, 2, 2
5, 7, 3, 3
10, 10, 6, 4
14, 13, 8, 5
4, 3, 4, 6
1, 1, 7, 7
2, 4, 10, 8
13, 14, 12, 9
15, 15, 15, 10
From this you can't tell how their pace changed throughout the race, but you can sure see that the winners were holding back.  The seventh and eighth finishers must have had some confidence at first--or maybe they knew those Kenyans (1-5 were all Kenyans) were just a few paces back and they would inevitably close in. . . .

In my case, I'm guilty of going way too fast out of the gate.  I felt like I was doing great.  But check out my places, again at 10K, 13.1 miles, 20 miles, and finish: 403, 477, 666, 1241.  My pace was steady from 10K to 13.1 miles, but others were gaining on me.  I lost some ground to mile 20, then a lot of ground the last 6 miles.  Compare these results to Mark's: 1193, 1139, 1048, 1027.  I'm not sure he ran negative splits, either, but at least he gained position throughout the race instead of losing.  To further illustrate, according to the White Rock data, Mark passed 129 people in the last quarter of the race, and 32 passed him.  Me?  During the last quarter, 436 people passed me, I passed 1.  Ouch.  As I look forward to another race, I definitely need to work on pacing and finishing strong.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

White Rock III: Two Races in One

Today I ran the White Rock Marathon for the third consecutive year.  It was an absolutely perfect day.  Sunny, cool, but not too freezing, with very little wind.  The race started at Fair Park this year instead of the American Airlines Center, which gave us quite a bit more room to move around.  For an urban marathon, White Rock does a great job, with terrific support and amenities.

As I said in my last post, I had several goals for White Rock today.  The biggest, same as last year, was to qualify for Boston with a 3:20:59 finish.  I figured this would be a stretch, and it was.  I started with the 3:20 pace group, and at first thought I would struggle to keep up.  But after a mile or two, I got in the rhythm and really did not feel like I was pushing it too much.  In fact, when we saw the 8 mile marker, I was a bit surprised; I couldn't believe we had already run that far.  I stayed on pace for the whole first half, and felt good about finishing with the pace group.  But I stopped at about the 1/2 way mark to use the porta-potty, and never did catch back up to them.

Even though I was behind the balloons of the pace leader, I had a wrist band that told me what my time should be at each mile marker to finish in 3:20, and for the first couple of miles after my break, I was still on track.  But gradually, each split became longer: 30 seconds behind, 2 minutes behind, 4 minutes behind.  After mile 16, each lap became progressively slower.  I didn't really hit "the wall," I just got slower and slower.  Those last 10 miles were so discouraging, as virtually every runner near me was passing me up.  So my second goal, to beat last year's time of 3:35:32, gradually slipped away, and I began to focus on beating my time at WR I in 2008, 4:03:15.  I ended up finishing under 4 hours, at 3:57:29.

My brother Mark ran, too, and finished about 5 minutes faster than I did.  I think a better strategy for me would be to accept the reality that I don't have a 3:20 marathon in me, and Mark and I could have run together.  If we had started together with a 3:40 or 3:50 goal, perhaps we could have helped each other run even faster.

I had a lot more fun the first half than the second, finishing with my best-ever 1/2 marathon time, but that took so much out of me that most of the second half was nothing but toil, finishing with my worst-ever 1/2 marathon time.  The two halves together made a not terrible finishing time, but I know had I run smarter I could have achieved a better finish.  I guess I'll start making plans for the next BQ attempt!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

White Rock III

Sunday morning I will run the White Rock Marathon for the third consecutive year.  WR I, 2008, was my first ever marathon.  I was pleased with my finish, coming in at just over 4 hours, 4:03:16.  By the time I ran WR II, 2009, I had run a few marathons and ultras, and improved my speed.  I started with the 3:20 pace group, but had to slow down after 18 or so, and finished in 3:35:32.  Still a great improvement over my PR, but short of the goal: a 3:20 Boston qualifying time.

So for WR III, I have several goals. 

1. 3:20:59.  This is the time in which a 40-44 year old male has to finish a certified marathon in order to qualify for the Boston Marathon.  Boston is the only major U.S. marathon that has a qualifying time, and it's the goal of many a runner to get there.

2. 3:35:31.  If I don't qualify for Boston, at least I would like to beat my time from last year.  I read somewhere about a guy who held the world record for the number of marathons in which he beat his previous time.  This is my 4th road marathon (I ran the Cowtown in February of 2009; all my other marathon and longer races have been on trails.), so why not keep the streak going?

3. 4:03:15.  Surely I can run faster than I did at my first marathon, when I didn't really know much about training or running a race!

4. If I can't beat any of those times, I'd at least like to have fun and finish without injury.  Mark is running, too, but he says he'll be slower than me.  (So I guess goal #4 could be to beat my little brother, who, as Zippy says, is nowhere near as fat as me!)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Things seen while running: a wild hog in the neighbors' yard

I wrote a few weeks ago about seeing the small herd of wild hogs crossing the road behind my house. (this post).  Last Wednesday morning, the day before Thanksgiving, I saw on on my street!  He was hanging out in Stacy and Brent's yard, on the corner just where we enter the neighborhood from Precinct Line.  It was about 5 a.m., and I'm sure he thought he had the street to himself.  I stopped and watched him, wondering if he would stick around long enough for me to go get my camera.  I didn't have to think about it long.  His early morning activities interrupted, he took off toward Precinct Line, to disappear into the woods.  I'm glad he didn't run toward me; he can run much faster than I can!  I will have to remember always to run in the morning with a camera and a high-powered rifle.  Wild pork sausage anyone?
The swine was in this front yard.

This is the swine's work, not in someone's yard, but along Precinct Line.

Stacy and Brent were spared the hog landscaping job, but I did see some houses that were attacked.  In fact, our next-door-neighbor's flower bed was turned up pretty good.  I don't know why they didn't get the grass at our end of the street.