Saturday, September 27, 2008

Relaxing Saturday

Well, it’s been a very relaxing Saturday after a very busy two weeks. It’s been a day of reflecting and recharge. Yes, I did get up this morning and ran through a morning mist along the trails in Trumps National Golf Course. But it was just an easy relaxing pace and enjoying the calm. Everything was calm. Even the Pacific Ocean was relatively peaceful.

Running is a balance. There are days that you really push hard and work yourself to the limits and then there are these kind of days were the workout seems like cheating. That balance is what we need in our lives both running but also professionally, socially and spiritually.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Doing your best

This week has been a blur. I was focus on getting a few key projects done and on the running side of the equation, was looking at how I was going to run the Long Beach Marathon in October. But at 12:30 on Monday afternoon that all changed. I was notified that one of the primary runners on our Los Angeles AFB Team was out because of medical reason and that they needed me to step up to fill out the team.

On Thursday we flew out to Dayton, Ohio for the race. This was to be my twentieth marathon. So there was no doubt in my mind that I could complete the distance the question was how fast could I do it?

Back in October 1977, I ran my first marathon in Waynesboro, Virginia. I was a sophomore in college at the time. I ran the first half of the race perfect, but after the 18 mile mark, I fell apart and struggled to finish the race in 3 hours and 30 minutes. It would be seven years before, I would attempt my second. In 1984, I ran the Mississippi Gulf Coast Marathon that celebrated the 100 anniversary of the local newspaper. Although it was a November race the heat was a major handicap as I finished in 3:52.

In 1986, I began a program that took three years with the goal of breaking the 3 hour mark for a marathon. Over the next two and a half years, I ran two marathons each year, one in the fall and one in the spring. The result was a 3:07 at the Marine Corp Marathon in 1988. But before I had the chance to do the last one in the spring of 89, I joined the Air Force and was unable to finish the plan.

Since then my running has been erratic and never focused. That was until this past year. In February 2007, a friend of mine who lost his leg, but ran the 2006 Marine Corp Marathon, inspired me to get back into the sport with a purpose. The goal I formed was to run 5 marathons in 12 months. So I started training while deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan.

So here are the five marathons:

1. Marine Corp Marathon, 29 Oct 2007, goal to finish, ran 5:24
2. Los Angeles Marathon, 2 Mar 2008, goal was to run with a group of was about friendship...not time
3. Big Sur Marathon, 27 Apr 2008, goal to run 5:00, ran 4:59:23.
4. Palos Verde Marathon, 17 May 2008, goal to run 4:40, ran 4:39:49.
5. Rock-n-Roll Marathon in San Diego, 1 Jun 2008, goal to run 4:20, ran 4:20:58.

So the goal was accomplished. My focus this summer was to help my daughter (#3) run her first half marathon. She did that on 31 Aug.

On Labor Day, I sat down to focus my running for this next year. My new goal was to see how fast I could run a marathon. Part of this goal was because I had been selected as alternate for the base team to run the Air Force Marathon. The challenge that it presented me with was: "How fast could I go? "

I had the Air Force Marathon penciled in on the calendar, but never expected to run. Then last Monday happen and threw all my plans off. I hadn't focused on preparing for the race. So now the question was: Do I run it fast or do I just run it?

So what happen? I started off the race on Saturday with an easy pace of about 10:00 per mile. But then in the second mile I found myself wanting to push the pace. I fought the feeling, knowing that I hadn’t run over 14 miles in the past two months. But then at about 10 miles, I realized that I was still feeling strong…so I gave into the desire to push. And push I did. At about 20 miles the heat and sunlight started to drain me and the lack of training started to take their toll on me. Still I hung in there and ran a 4:10:40. I have to go back to 1994 to find a marathon that fast in my logs. So I know I still have some ability to run fast. Saturday race provide that to me.

This race on Saturday has helped me focus my running even more. I know I am capable of running a fast marathon. Maybe the 3 hour mark is reachable…but the goal for this year is run 3:45. So stay tune…

Monday, September 15, 2008

Good News??? Bad News!!!!

It was one of those days. I'm running from meeting to meeting all morning. The day was so full of meetings that I had to schedule a lunchtime meeting with the representatives of the Gideons International. Love the group, but hate eating a huge lunch...which it was...but a really productive meeting. Then I rushed to get back to work and I had my senior enlisted troop come up to me before our staff meeting asking if I wanted the Good News or Bad News or should he wait until the staff meeting. My response; "...never tell the boss bad news in a meeting so let me have it."

Good news...the Command Chaplain was coming for a visit "next week." The Bad news...the number 8 runner for the base team was out of the marathon and I was now selected to run the race on Saturday in Dayton. Or was that the other way around...sometimes the good news sounds like the bad news and the bad news sounds like the good news.

Honestly both pieces of information were both good and bad. Good that the Command Chaplain wants to visit us...bad because we have to rush and get things ready for the visit...not really a lot to do but just having to get it done in 8 days. The run was bad news for the runner not being able to compete. I know she trained hard and was ready to run a super fast on the other hand...I'm about 45 minutes slower even on my best day. Good news because I really wanted to run the Air Force Marathon again. I've run the race in 2002 and 2003 when I lived there. I love the course and the people.

This is what life is about. Things happen and if you are prepared for them, you can step up and take full advantage of them. Most people, I know would really panic if they knew the big boss was coming to visit. But I've got a great staff and nothing seems to phase them...and with me being gone for 4 days out of the 8 to prepare for the visit they will do a better job then with me standing over their shoulders trying to get them to do things my way. Again most people would not be able to say...okay...I'll do a 26.2 mile race this weekend and give it my all...okay...a few of us insane runners could do it. But I'm really not worried about the run. I've done 19 marathons, and since last October, I've done 5 and 3 of those were done in a 32 day window of time.

So these two pieces of information that would petrify others are only challenges for me...not because I'm anything special...but because I'm prepared. So my encouragement to you is stop worrying about the things you have no control over...but prepare yourself now for the challenges that are coming in the future.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

104 Miles and 3 Flat Tires???

Picture here are the guys that got me to ride this 100 mile, ride of horrors. The two in the back ground were the really conspirators. The guy in front helped me with my blow outs. Read on:

It was a long day and what made it painfully long were the three blow outs I had. No one else in the group lost a tire, but I ran over a nail, and then blew out the replacement tube about 40 miles into the ride. Finally at about the 75 mile mark, I again blew the second replacement...luckily a fellow rider had another tube. The biggest problem was with the Tire. It was split, so we had to rig it with a patch and plastic to make it work for the finally 29 miles. But it turned a 6 hour and 40 minute ride into a 8 hour ordeal.
Still, I am glad I finished. I was ready to throw in the towel at the 75 mile when the tire was shot. That plus my upper legs were killing me really made me want to just quite.
But I didn't I got up and finished the thing. And so my first century ride is done. first, there will be others in the years to come...why...because I know I can ride it faster and not blow a tire. That is what really drives me. How can I improve on this? I'll figure it out and then press back and do it all again.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Night Before

Well, I'm about to head to bed...if I can sleep. I'm looking forward to tomorrow's test of the Century. My biggest fear is that I've never done one before...not that I can't do it. I'm not sure what to expect. I've done a 68 miler a few months ago but this is 32 miles further down the road. So...I'll say a prayer that I can relax and try to get a few hours of sleep. I'll be up at about 4:30 so I can get to the rally point in time to make the trip up to Santa Barbara. I'll let you know how it goes tomorrow. Till in something greater then you...especially when facing the unknown.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

What did I do?

I can't believe myself sometimes...I just signed up for a 100 mile bike ride from Santa Barbara to El Segundo? Now, yea I'm in shape, but my all time most miles on a bike was 68 and that was back in February...and I've not been on the bike since then.... And the ride is on Saturday? So now if you've stopped laughing at me...there is some logic to my madness.

See the way I look at it is, it’s about taking things to the limits and stretching beyond what we think we can do. I know I'm in shape to run 26.2 miles because next week, I might be running the Air Force Marathon in Dayton, Ohio. But there is an old rule that riding a bike takes 1/4 the effort of running so that 26.2 miles would mean the equivalent of 104.8 in theory I should be able to do this. But the truth is there is a difference between theory and reality. Theory doesn't hurt you, reality does. So I'm putting it to a test, and I'll let you know what happens.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

All Out Effort or Just Plain Fast

I ran a short 3 mile race today on Base. It was the first time I've run a race that short in a few years. And because of that I decided to run a different style. I pushed the pace for the first mile and then stepped it up into the uncomfortable zone for as long as I could. That lasted for about half a mile. I never looked at my watch and in fact didn't know my time until after I had finished the run and did a half mile cool down. My time was around 23 minutes. So I was very pleased.

Tim Noakes in the “Lore of Running” says these shorter "5K to 16K races are excellent forms of speed training." He goes on to write: "These races should be run as hard efforts controlled by the sensation of effort rather than by the stopwatch."

In my next marathon, I want to improve my time. Actually, I want to run between 4:00 and 4:20. I need to increase my speed…so today’s short run was the first step in making that goal possible.