Monthly Archives: October 2009

The process

The guys I trained with for Chicago are all in varying states of post-marathon training as we each feel out the damage done and rest needed for a full recovery. The one thread that weaves through all of us though is that none of us DON’T want to be running, which causes individual frustrations when our bodies don’t comply. Jessie is back running easy again I think. Poray has broken something or other in his foot and is figuring out how to deal with that. Little is making efforts to run but scaling back when the runs feel like crap. I have still been holding consistent with training, but working out weird pains in my right upper leg area, yet still able to knock out some solid runs if I put in the effort. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m in a different mode of running right now, where it’s probably most adviseable to back off for awhile I’m still working up to some harder and faster workouts for the upcoming races I have. Most runners who complete a strenuous marathon take off for awhile and ease back into it in preparation for another marathon or big set of races. And that’s great, but follows the pattern of a specific type of competitive running, where the efforts are highly focused on large career making races instead of a continuous streak of effort.

I fall somewhere in between both perspectives for training, but lean a bit towards the latter. I love to run, plain and simple, so to take a significant break, even if it is part of a larger process of recovery and performance, feels incredibly unnatural to me. Running is such a routine part of my day now that to miss a run throws me all out of wack. I’m sure it’s part of my type A personality, but when I miss a run I feel like I’ve certainly missed something in the day. Like I went to work with my pants off and didn’t realize it until the kids starting showing up. Something just feels off until I supplement that extra time with a similar activity, such as spending the day with Michelle and Noah plotting our next camping trip or just hanging out in our local outfitter store (‘Sup Rusted Moon!).

Add to that almost necessity to run at some point in the day, a couple upcoming races, and the need to get back out there is nearly irresistable. I MUST run. This, however, is against most of the common knowledge that pertains to strenuous running and recovery….and I’m well aware of this. Ultimately though, I think the ability to get back to running without worry or debilitating injury comes with a matter of perspective, where an individual isn’t going ALL OUT ALL THE TIME, but looks at running as a serious of valleys and plateaus, where through it all, no matter the intensity, they are still running. So for me, I don’t look at running as blowing everything I’ve developed on one run, even though I’ll focus buildups on specific races, but also enjoying the process enough to continue on once the race is run. I don’t want to take breaks…I just want to enjoy my days running.

Looking at running like this enables me to gather other benefits I might miss by taking longer breaks. It has been suggested that I don’t run the two upcoming trail races in the coming months in fear that I’ll “screw it all up”….whatever that means…and though taking that longer break might be needed for others, I get things from those races that build into my running experience and give me a deeper well of motivation to draw on in the future when I might need it most. There is nothing more comforting than stepping to the start line and KNOWING you’ve done the work, that you’ve put extra into the hills, nailed your speedwork and kept your miles up. The runner draws on these experiences to give them the confidence to put it all into the race without reservation and this is the same perspective I hold with continuing on at this point.

I know I may have some more serious success on the roads in the future, but I also know that knocking out these trail races can only help me in that process. To be able to draw on a (hopefully) successful trail marathon in the future might prove to be invaluable beyond all measure. Believe me, I’m running this race because I love it and I’ll love the challenge, but I also know that adding this to my well of experience is all part of the process of my running, where I don’t have starts and stops, but a continuous and consistent trajectory upward.

For if nothing pans out the way I want it to in the future, at least I know I made the most of every second I had out there.

To each their own.

——————-

Log

11 miles – Started easy then continuously picked it up. Felt good.

Diet

Breakfast – 2 english muffins w/ peanut butter, raisins, agave nectar, coffee
Lunch – Leftover pasta soup w/ veggies
Dinner – Chili with dark and light beans, sweet potatoes, bread with veggie spread, water
Snacks – Banana, water, coffee, soymilk, tea

Music

Still Remains – The Serpent

Advertisements

pre-climax

“…like breaking the tape but forgetting the run…”

There is so much pressure on running a good marathon, I know, because I put a lot on myself for Chicago and I’ve seen so many others do the same, having such terrible breakdowns if they fail to run the race how they imagined. This is completely understandable considering just how much time and effort goes into preparing for that one race on that one day. You can’t take it back, no matter the outcome. What’s run is run.

I was fortunate enough to have a really great race for my expectations, so that post-marathon disappointment fell elsewhere and I’m only left with a temporary satisfaction and a flood of memories. However, now that all is said and done and that cycle of preparation is over, I’m still left with an uneasy feeling, which I’m understanding is what they call the “marathon blues”, the post-xmas like period where that intense sense of purpose is played out and we’re thrown out of a routine we carried out for months up to the race. Granted, I’m still running every day I can and enjoying the effort, but there are other elements of my old routine that have been put aside until the next marathon (well, road marathon anyways).

There is that structure of speedwork and recovery. There is the internal dialogue and visioning. There is the apprehension of a race gone bad…or good. There is an overall drive and mental state that embodied our days. Then there is the lack of camaraderie. Gone are my Tuesday Night Terror runs with some of Indy’s best runners and motivators and that’s the part I miss the most. Where leading up to Chicago I was an entirely solitary runner, but I grew accustomed to meeting up on Tuesday nights to beat it out on the rail trail with a group of other runners faster than me. Now we’re all scattered in various states of rest, recovery and training. This is just how things go.

These are all the sorts of things that make the marathon such a great experience, which pointedly struck me as I ran the Monon trail by my lonesome last week and I realized how relatively anti-climactic the marathon itself can actually be. Sure, the race was the piled-high icing on the cake and it tasted great…..REALLY great, but beneath all that sugary fluff was the foundation of the race itself, all that time built into the experience. Ultimately, whether I ran 2:22, 2:25, 2:30, or 3:00, I had already achieved a massive victory by starting, carrying through and finishing the days upon days of preparation that led to Chicago. All the base building, hillwork, speedwork, long runs, and everything between. It wasn’t the marathon that was the supreme accomplishment, it was the preparation itself. Now, if you short changed yourself, or quit, or half-assed everything, than you have reason to be greatly disappointed, but if you came through every day of preparation knowing you put in a full effort of work, than the marathon is only of partial significance. The real victory was in your months of preparation.

Then again, if you had a great race on top of all that, then that pile of icing just got a lot higher and a lot sweeter.

————–

Log

10 miles – grey, chilly and rainy. Felt decent despite eating too much. Picked up the pace periodically through the run.

Diet

Breakfast – Oatmeal (w/ peanut butter, flax seed, agave nectar, raisins, almonds), coffee
Lunch – Soup w/ Pasta, tofu and loaded with veggies and spices
Dinner – Same as lunch (Michelle made A LOT!)
Snacks – Apple, coffee, Emergen-C, Toast w/ peanut butter, raisins and agave nectar, Bananas w/ peanut butter and agave nectar, tea

Music

Justin Timberlake – Justified (Hey! I went to the library and picked this up for Michelle…a not so guilty pleasure of hers)

Off the road again.

My relationship with trail running started when I signed up for this years DINO (Do INdiana Offroad) trail race series, thinking it was going to be more a set of cross country races than anything else. I was stoked to get off the roads, into the woods and wear spikes (spikes!!!) through it all, but when I went to my local running store to get some shoe advice I was warned that I should get actual trail shoes, not minimally padded xc spikes. I was a little bummed, but deferred to the professionals. Good thing I did.

As it turns out, trail running is absolutely NOTHING like cross country. Where the terrain of cross country is grass, trail running is on every single surface you can imagine, whether its dirt, rocks, sand, gravel, trees, asphalt, water, etc. Where cross country has hills, trail running has fear-inducing ascents! Where cross country has course sections into the woods, trail running is essentially THE WOODS.

So when I found myself chasing a trail running veteran from Colorado in my very first trail run I was a little taken aback at the speeds and sheer recklessness with which we were tearing through the woods, blasting off course through skin-ripping trees, jumping into 3 foot drops over fallen trees blocking our path, and screaming down dangerously steep descents. Cross country this certainly was NOT. And I was absolutely loving it. I felt like we were on edge of broken bones the entire race and after all was said and done, with a final sprint to the finish, I took inventory of my scrapes, cuts and bruises. I was hooked. This was certainly my kind of race….even without spikes.

So I continued on with the series, always fighting out to the finish with the same competitor every race and having a blast the whole time, each race coming back with another small wound of some sort, even managing to roll my ankle and limp the last mile in one particular competition. I consistently placed first or second in every 15k distance and am now facing just one more race to finish out the series, and since my other competitor moved back to Colorado I’m pretty much set to win the series itself. But this is not the end.

After the final DINO series race I am finishing out this racing year with one last hurrah, on the trails….for 26.2 miles. And damn am I excited. I mean, as if 26.2 miles isn’t grueling enough, throw in some super long climbs, focus breaking rollers, treacherous footing over roots and rocks, and quad busting descents….in December weather, and we’ve got ourselves a party. The race is the Tecumseh Trail Marathon and embodies the insanity that suits trail running culture -light-hearted, but tough as nails.

I had the pleasure of doing a couple 2 hour trail runs this past weekend, which has left my legs in nearly post-marathon condition, and part of those runs were on the course I will be racing on. While doing these runs I came to a very clear realization….this course is going to chew me up and spit me the hell out…and I’m looking forward to coming out the other side, no matter how beaten up. And I WILL get beaten up.

There are hardly any flat stretches I could see and even the flatest points on the course were pocked with ankle-breaking roots, hidden rocks and freezing stream crossings. Once you get beyond those you face long gradual, and sometimes not so gradual climbs, which transition into screaming downhills with 180 degree switchbacks, also spotted with hidden rocks and roots.

This weekend as I was rolling (not literally, but I’ll get to that) down one of the trail descents I suddenly found my upper body weight shifted forward when my toes caught either a root, rock or something else beneath me. As if in slow motion I came closer to the ground, put my hands out to catch my weight and slid forward, watching a rock hard….well…ROCK move closer and closer to my face, but just before I made contact I dipped my shoulder, rolled forward like a ninja and before I knew it I was up and running down the hill. It took me a few seconds to process how quickly I fell without warning and then was right back up. Honestly, it was pretty amusing, and I was just glad I wasn’t injured and could keep running on. And this happened being careful. This is also not uncommon. Welcome to trail running.

So in about 6 weeks I’ll be facing the amazingly beautiful, and all the same vicious, trails of Southern Indiana where I’ll be running 26.2 miles as fast as I can considering the conditions.

As if all that craziness wasn’t enticing enough, there’s one more element to Tecumseh that makes this race all the more exciting. Since 2003, when this race was first run, no one has ever broken the 3 hour barrier. The closest anyone has come is 3:03 and change….but this year I plan on being the first. I know it won’t be easy and it certainly won’t be a guarantee, despite the training I did for Chicago and my subsequent time there, because this trail stuff is an entirely different world. All it takes is one wrong mis-step and the race is over. All it takes is a massive misjudgment of endurance and those hills (up and down) will crush your body into submission. Still…it’s gonna be fun to go for it!!!

So for now, I’m getting my body back into hard-training condition, but with this past weekend’s two hour trail runs, I’m feeling confident that I’m ready to focus on a good dose of hillwork and final dose of intense running. Michelle and I have already started planning more trips south for hiking and running on the trails I’ll be racing, and I’m pretty thrilled about it all. So, with the help of my sponsors Vegan Dandies Marshmallows, I’ll be tackling one last marathon and going for the course record in the process. Of course, I’ll keep you all posted as to how this plays out.

For now, here are some amazing photos Michelle took of the trail….none of them showing the monsterous-nature of the trails, but certainly displaying their fall beauty.

The secret world of long distance runners

I, not too long ago, seemingly lived a life in complete opposition to the one I’m living now, well, in regards to time anyways. I was, undeniably, a night owl, staying out as late as I possibly could while still functioning at work the very next day. Wage slavery be damned, I was set on sucking up all the best in life, which I once thought resided in the events that began far after the sun hit the switch on the sky. I’ve seen the car commercials. I know when people my age have the most fun, when it seems our biology lets loose its stores of energy, when the sun goes down and the streetlights go up.

The dancing starts when the floor goes dark. But I never liked dancing with pop culture. The conversation starts when the work is over, but I just wanted to finish my books. The people come out to play when they finally wake up, but…well, ok it took me as long to wake up as well. I only wanted to sleep away the passive mornings, when the rest of the city is still asleep or too tired to be exciting. There was essentially NO LIFE in the early hours of the day. There were only business suits relying on coffee in place of energy and the beginnings of scripted routines that I wanted no part of. I wanted liberation and action, bikes blasting through crowded trafficked streets choked with creeping cars, adventure in darkened alleys and hidden passageways, and I took it wherever I could. We stayed out late, whether in the streets or in coffee shops reading political communiques, sometimes writing them until the cup ran dry and the employees kicked us out. We resisted sleep and reluctantly woke up when we could no longer ignore the sun crashing into our studio apartment windows.

Then I had my son. And the unwavering force of human biology changed the game overnight. Gone were late nights on the town, replaced only with late nights trying to get August back to sleep, so I could do the same. Like the rudest of awakenings my entire scheduled flipped upside down and mornings became nights, nights became desperate attempts at sleep. Coffee became more valuable than gold. And before I knew it, I forgot what happened after 7pm. It took my biology quite some time to catch up, but slowly the forces of nature took effect and my mind responded to the new morning routines, essential to deal with my high-energy child raring to go as soon as his eyes opened wide from a massively full night of sleep. Things fell into place, but the energy and excitement of a hipster nightlife still remained within that unattainable realm that lay just past 7pm. When the daylight disappeared, so did my ability to see what happened in that darkened city.

Then I started running. And I turned the game on its head, where once mornings held only the struggle to get through the passivity until I could both create and comprehend the day, now I woke up with a renewed sense of purpose and preparation for, quite possibly, the most exciting part of my day. And I ran, sometimes far, sometimes fast.

Mornings became the equivalent of the hipster nightlife, until enough moments of superhuman effort coupled with stunning sunrises, air that went from chilled to soothing, and the ability to hit 8am with more energy than most conjure up with 6 cans of redbull at 1am…..everything changed. Nightlife became not only unappealing, but downright unmotivating. I lost the drive to search out the excitement in such an obviously passive effort. The whole charade is a delusion where overworked and emptied husks desperately reach into the dark, grasping for awkward moments of excitement that merely come and go with the effort. Theirs is never the guarantee we get from the morning routine of lungs and legs, sun and breath, power and strength.

The morning is more beautiful and more awe-inspiring than the city grid defined by dotted lines of streetlights ever was. The ability to run through dark into ever-increasing light at an equally ever-increasing pace dwarfs the chaotic action of clubs and streets shrouded in darkness.

You’ve got it all wrong. The night is empty, darkened to hide the saddened masses gasping for fulfillment, to hide their obvious shame and resentment. The morning is honesty, bringing light to our reddened faces, mouths gasping for the air that brings ultimate fulfillment in the completion of our physical task, of our ability to refine our bodies into machines built to always become better selves, to always surpass the person we once were. Every morning we find beauty and action unparalleled, unmatched, and in the shameless open….for no one to see.

For they sleep away the space where life begins.

———-

Log

9 miles w/ Michelle riding along side. Felt better and better and picked up the pace throughout. A solid run that built great confidence in my recovery. Looking better and better to get back into speedwork, possibly sooner than I thought.

Diet

Breakfast – Oatmeal (w/ peanut butter, almonds, raisins, flax seed, banana), coffee
Lunch – Stir fry
Dinner – Tofu scramble w/ black beans in a spinach wrap, water
Snacks – salt and pepper chips, water, coffee, banana, orange, soymilk, emergen-c

Music

Refused – The shape of punk to come

Before Chicago

The cliche is that when you finish a marathon you are a changed person, nothing is the same and I suppose in some regards that is very true, and I haven’t yet fully grasped what that experience means for my future. I’ll admit, I already feel like I could easily start talking about my running in terms of “before Chicago” and “after Chicago”, but it’s early enough in the game that those statements could be said with either a positive or negative sentiment. Right now it is wholey positive for sure, but I’m trying to remain tempered until we get back into full training.

I’m still really trying to wrap my mind around what happened at Chicago. It was such a surreal experience and the extreme doubts I had going into the race simply never materialized like I imagined, subsequently the race was absolutely awesome. Granted, 2:25 was more of a best case scenario, and seemingly even a long shot one at that, but the numbers don’t lie, and I know WITHOUT A DOUBT I had so much more in me if only my legs would have held up. Ultimately this gives me something pointed to overcome and the confidence that I can knock that time down further given more focused training. Before Chicago I had never imagined I could run like that for that distance and now I think I can run even faster, bringing those numbers down even further.

Speaking of numbers, they’ve been bouncing around my head a lot lately and I’m still unsure of what they all mean. 53rd overall in the CHICAGO MARATHON. TENTH in my age division in THE CHICAGO MARATHON! 2:25:55 in my FIRST marathon. I mean, to come in 53rd in one of the World Major Marathons (Chicago, Boston, New York, Berlin, London) just humbles me to no end. Granted, I know I’m still a nobody when it comes to the running circuit, and most likely I’ll always stay a nobody, but that doesn’t stop me from celebrating my own personal victory in this matter. Of course, these numbers only compel me forward and I can only wonder where this goes from here.

And where we go from here is the big question in my head right now. Before Chicago I haven’t thought too far ahead in terms of preparation or racing. I simply love to run and that is all I’ve done up to this point. I never took breaks and I never ran in training cycles….I simply ran. So to be essentially FORCED to take nearly two weeks off from running is a wrench in my system, but I also know it’s a good wrench lest I break all the machinery. However, I’m not yet done with this season of racing either, despite the current state of my personal machinery. I have the final DINO series 15k trail race in 3 weeks and the Tecumseh Trail Marathon on Dec. 5th, but as it stands that’s the farthest I’ve definitively planned ahead. I’ll be taking a break from racing, but not running, over the winter season before gearing back up for the Fall. I’m still looking to solidify the coaching opportunity which will help me determine my goals into the future and I think that is where Chicago has really changed everything.

Maybe before I might have run a marathon and said, “That was awesome, I need to see how much faster I can run that.” and do it again and again. Essentially, that’s what I’ll still be doing, that’s what all of us competitive runners do, but the magnitude of Chicago has changed the perception of my abilities to strive for something larger in scope and exposure. Without making any definitive commitment, I’m looking strongly at qualifying for the olympic trials, of which I’ve talked about in the past. But where I’ve once TALKED about qualifying, now I’m starting to believe that I can actually materialize that. Granted, that was still only ONE marathon and I have a good dose of improvement before I get into that range of performance, but I’m not so quick to drop the consideration anymore. I mean, really, why the hell not?!

Before Chicago I thought making the olympic trials was pretty cool for the other guys I run with and I toyed with the pipe dream every once in awhile, but things are different now. I’m a different runner, yet again, in both performance and confidence and I can’t really see a reason why I shouldn’t start focusing my sights on something of that caliber. Life is for the living and I’d rather not die with that sort of “what if” on my conscience.

So here we are, After Chicago, with only one direction to go…onward!…faster!!!

——————

Log

8 miles – 2nd run back after chicago, only minor soreness in quads, good improvement for the coming week.

Diet

Breakfast – Oatmeal (w/ peanut butter, flax seeds, almonds, raisins), coffee
Lunch – Peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat, water
Dinner – Stir Fry w/ teriyaki sauce, water, Emergen-C
Snacks – Apple, coffee, peanuts, twizzlers (don’t ask, craving at the movies), puffins cereal w/ soymilk

Music

Refused – The shape of punk to come

The urge

There are too many thoughts in my head to really focus on something more extensive right now, so here is a little of what’s been going on with me. (I’ll get back to more involved posts soon).

———————

Despite the subtle tension in my lower calves (where my marathon problems began) this past week, I’ve been physically twitching with desire to get out and run again. I couldn’t hold back on Monday and went out for my first run since Chicago and right out the door I felt invincible, however, a few miles down the road and the tension in my calves began to grow. Although I should have turned around at 4, I continued and finished out the 10 miles probably a little faster than I should have as well. Too many should haves. The tightness was noticeable the next day, but dissipated by the afternoon. I took that day off and today as well, and everything is feeling really good right now. I’m going out for another easy run tomorrow, still trying to gauge how I’m recovering. I have solid hope for the next few days and am looking forward to easing back into it, because damn I miss it, both the feelings and the routine.

——————

Although I registered for the Monumental Half-Marathon, the pride of defending my title getting the best of me, I’ve decided to back out. I still think I’d be healed for the race, but there is no point in chancing injury and with such a small timeframe to heal and put in a few hard runs, I just wouldn’t have the necessary confidence on the start line that is crucial for a good run. So to Gerry Groothius….I concede the victory and course record to you my friend. You better not disappoint!

——————

I AM going to run the final DINO series 15k race in my new Salomon Speedcross 2’s, and with more excitement, I’ll also be running the Techumseh Trail Marathon on December 5th, hoping to be the first person to break 3 hours. I’m not putting any pressure on myself for this race (spent all that on Chicago), but am simply looking at it as a fairly crazy way to end the best running year of my entire life. Last year the course entailed snow, ice and a parking lot so slick that cars were sliding down the angled surface. Sounds like a party to me!

——————

Finally, I’ve discussed the possibility of taking on official coaching from Matt Ebersole of Personal Best Training here in Indy. He is the coach of everyone I was training with for Chicago and whose workouts I was piggybacking on for a few months. He obviously knows what he’s doing and I know I can really benefit from the structure and obligation that coaching provides. It’s too early to make commitments, as I’ve said previously, but I’m not gonna lie and say I’m not thinking about qualifying for the olympic trials next year, however, something like that will involve a bit more experience and understanding of my potentials with the right training. Time will tell. Certainly though, we’ll be looking at a spring marathon, maybe Boston? I haven’t pulled the trigger on the coaching decision yet, as first I have to figure out some financial readjustments (sacrifices?) to make this work, but I sure hope it’s something I can incorporate.

—————–

Stay with me…I’ll be changing the blog title and banner soon. Maybe at some point going straight to Runvegan.com?

—————-

More involved posts coming soon.

Still here

I apologize for the absence, but I’ve been quite busy these past few days and have been unable to sit down and put out a good post. Regardless, I’ll get something up soon and change all the visuals of this blog as well. Talk to ya soon!

-Scott