This is how it works-
I love to run but there are times when I would rather not. This is when the voices start. Chants, name calling, guilt and reverse psychology is how they get me up and out the door. I don't really mind the voices and have actually started looking forward to their daily calls. Together we have formed a running club that supports, encourages and competes with each other. I love these peeps. They are much more experienced, talented and tougher than I am. Pushing me out the door, through the hard miles and up the monster hills when I am feeling lazy or want to give up. Some people have "real" training partners, coaches and support crews. My team is ALWAYS with me and helps me to keep my eye on the prize and not veer off the track. Sounds crazy- Yeah, probably is.........

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Search for Balance

Balance. An important part of anything we do in life. Too much of any one thing can have negative results in another area of our lives. Sometimes it is seemingly impossible to find the right mix to keep everything running on an even keel. Any exercise program will require balance in our lives. I don't mean balance between different target areas or groups of muscles but rather the balance in our daily lives between family, work and THE WORKOUT.

It was easy for me at first. 30 minutes a day, tops. Easy to squeeze that amount of time in. Diet? That too was easy for me. Just cut back on the junk and go to smaller portions. The scale was a friend as the weight came off. I had goals and everyone understood and was supportive. But all that soon changed. I started running more and more, always passed on the dessert and stepped on the scale every time I walked by. The time it took to work out or run increased and if a planned run had to be skipped because “life” got in the way, well, I got more than a little irritated. Grumpy would actually be a better way to describe it.

I would love to say that all of that has changed but it would be a lie. I have learned a few things though. The scale is still a friend but like a “true friend” it tells me when I get out of line. There is no real panic now because I know what I need to do to get my friend to be nice again. I have discovered that dessert is not the devil and it is possible to enjoy a PIECE of cake without eating the entire cake. those areas at least.

My wife really does support my running. She thinks I'm out of my mind sometimes for putting my body through the punishment of a 20 mile training run or a 50k trail race but she is still supportive. Where she gets upset is when I have to plan everything we do around getting a run in. “Weekend plans? Sure, I would love to do that with you and the kids. What time do we leave? Will I have time to run for 2 hours before we leave or do we need to cut it short so I can have time when we get back?” It would be easy for me to just write it off as her not understanding that I HAVE to do these runs in order to be able to finish my next event. The truth, well that is not as easy. She may not understand all the crazy thoughts in my head but the fact remains that the time I NEED to set aside is very intrusive in our family's life. It does take away from family time.

I try to get as many “invisible” miles in as I can. Invisible in the sense that it does not intrude on time I need to spend with the ones that I love. Running on my lunch break at work or scheduling a long run early on a Sunday morning helps. Missing a planned run does not grind on me as much as it use to but can still put me in a foul mood. I have caught myself becoming very snappy with everybody if I can see that my run is not going to happen that day. I know that it is selfish and sometimes I can convince myself that it is fine, make it up tomorrow and that a rest day is just what I needed. But the other times.......I am a jerk. To everybody. Not really fair to my family and not really fair to me as far as the kind of husband and father that I strive to be.

Balance? NOPE. I will continue working on it by getting those “invisible” miles in and attempting to become more aware of the fact that it is okay and, at times, necessary to rearrange MY running schedule to enjoy the IMPORTANT things in life. It is very easy for me to lose focus on many “real life” things when tunnel vision takes over and running gets to high on the priority list. Running is an important part of my life but it does have it's place. That place HAS to be lower on the ladder than the ones that mean more to me and most of the time it is but, regrettably, not always. I don't think that I am the only one to ever have this issue but who knows? I am kind of in my own little world most of the time.

The search for BALANCE will continue. Maybe I will find it one day.......on a long run.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sylamore 50k Race Report

Saturday, February 20th 2010, Allison AR.

Charley and I made the trip down to Allison on Friday afternoon. We picked up our packets, bib number and swag at the starting point (Angler's restaurant and Gas Station) then made our way into Mtn. View to spend the night. After a quick dinner and a few beers we tried to sleep. I was pretty restless all night in anticipation and my mind kept coming back to the same old question. Am I ready? I always have so many doubts in the hours leading up to any race/ event.

The alarms started at 5 am and we were up and at 'em for a quick breakfast. Charley likes to eat light so he opted for a granola bar but I NEED food before a race so I had 2 bowls of oatmeal and some pretzels. (odd combo- I know) A check of the local weather forecast showed a gorgeous day with temps ranging from 40 degrees at the start and 60 by the finish. About 6 we checked out headed back into Allison where I found some coffee and we checked in with the event staff. There were no timing chips this year but they wanted to make sure who actually showed up and was going to be on the course in case somebody didn't make it back in.

At 7 am we lined up at the start and headed out. About ¾ mile straight up hill along the highway and then a detour down a gravel road leading to the trail. At mile 1 we had to cross a waist deep creek. I was pretty happy that it was lower than last year and had just mentioned that fact to Charley when I slipped and fell. Sufficiently wet and a little embarrassed I climbed out and began the climb up the first slippery trail. We stayed behind a pack of other runners for a mile or two through some really cool scenery. Running under rock bluffs with icicles hanging and hopping over more than a couple of fallen trees. We decided to pass this group which was difficult because of the narrow trails but they were very gracious and stepped aside.

We continued at an easy 10 minute pace through the first aid station at mile 5 and continued to run together. At mile 10 we hit another aid station and filled our water bottles and grabbed a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Here we got a little confused on which way to continue and ended up in a larger pack of runners. We hung together through mile 12 or 13 but Charley ended up drifting farther ahead. I seen him only one more time at the turn around aid station at mile 15.5. I spent a little too much time here trying to find some Gatorade. The first cup I picked up was full of Mtn. Dew and about made me gag. I sorted it out grabbed a handful of pretzels and headed back to Allison.

The return trip was a little more difficult because of the runners still coming down the trail. At this point I was in about 15th place and there were still a lot of runners on the “out” part. The trail is narrow in most places and it was difficult to get around in spots. I was gradually slowing down but not to bad. Grabbing another PBJ at mile 20 I continued through the trail by myself. It can get hard the last 10 miles especially when you are by yourself but the great thing about an out and back is that you can always count on the encouragement of the runners that you meet along the trail. Even though they are still on the first “out” part of the course they are very gracious and positive. I love to encourage them and hear their words of encouragement in return, it is part of what makes these events so cool.

I found my way to the mile 25 aid station where they had some potatoes on hand. I wish they had had these at the earlier aid stations because they helped me get through the last leg. The day had got very warm by this point and I was losing a lot through my sweat. My navy blue shirt was streaked with white from the salt my body was losing and I had some salt build up around my eyes. I managed to pass a few people on this stretch but I am not sure if they were running the 50k or the 25k. I found the creek crossing at mile 30 and knew I was home free. Only one big hill to run up and then ¾ mile down to the finish. I crossed the line with Charley cheering me on in 5 hours 15 minutes and 48 seconds.

It was a great race and I will have to wait a few days for the official results before I know my exact placement. That is really irrelevant but I would like to know. The experience was great and the terrain is definitely technical. I can't wait until next year to do it again.

Post Script= I came in 19th and Charley was 10th. The field was 139.

Friday, February 19, 2010

50k to 6,000 miles.....What a Run.

The Sylamore 50k Trail Run. I have been looking forward to this race for a while now. Last year after running the 25k, I swore that I would never come back. But....You know how it goes. A few hours later I was thinking about the 50k. Could I cover that distance over this terrain? Would I want to push myself that hard? Hard questions and easy answers. Here I am. We arrived at the packet pick up around 4:30 this afternoon. We are now resting at the Mtn. View Best Western, drinking a few beers and watching UFC. Trying to stay relaxed despite the butterflies that come with nervous excitement. I am looking forward to crossing the finish line tomorrow, not just for the satisfaction of completing this challenging course but also because the final mile will coincidentally be my 6,000th since I began my "running life" back in 2006. Just a number, yes, and not worthy of the HALL OF FAME but in my own mind WE will be celebrating like it is.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Funny Thing Happened Along The Way....

I didn't set out to become a runner. It just happened. In the beginning there were no thoughts of marathons or ultras. In fact the idea that I “might” be able to run 3 miles one day was dreaming big. To think that running would become not only a passion but a lifestyle for me would have been laughable. It was definitely a case of one day at a time and not looking any further than the next run.

Running was the only reasonable way that I knew of to drop a few pounds and that was my goal, to lose some weight. Why? For my health or to look better in a swimsuit? Nope. Money. Plain and simple, it was greed for the cash that got me up off the couch and out the door that first rainy day in 2006. I had entered a “Biggest Loser” type contest and wanted to win. I weighed around 230 lbs and knew that I needed to lose some weight and this seemed like a great opportunity to try. With the cash as motivation, I set out on January 16, 2006 in the early afternoon to run 1 mile. No problem, easy as can be, just a mile- how hard could it be?

I couldn't hardly breathe, my heart felt like it might explode and my legs were dead tired. I had covered almost 1/3 of a mile. Luckily, I am hard-headed and a little stubborn, so I continued running for the entire mile. It took a lot longer and much more energy than I had thought it would. It seemed like 30 minutes before I could breathe normal again and left me wondering how I was going to be able to do this again. I really had doubts about doing it again but for some reason there I was the next day, ready to torture myself again.

It didn't take long to lose a couple of lbs and that helped to fuel my motivation. Soon I was stretching the distance to 2 miles and shortly after, 3. Secure in the knowledge that I could run the entire distance, I registered for a 5k run in May. Wandering aimlessly with butterflies before the race an older runner asked if it was my first one. Replying yes, he just smiled and said, “You're going to love it. After this one you'll want to run more.” Yeah right, that was my thought. He was right. By the end of that first year I had run several 5 and 10k's along with two ½ marathons.

The running has brought me to a new place in my life and a realization that motivation comes through passion. I love to run. Plain and simple. Some days are harder than others but EVERYDAY that I run is rewarding. The weight loss may have served as a catalyst for my motivation but has become more of an added benefit than anything and I guess I have become a runner. This week I will cross my 6000th mile since that first day 4 years ago and I have learned a lot about myself in this time. There is still a lot more to learn and I look forward to the next 6000 miles......still just one run at a time.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tyler is my HERO

"Hey, you created me. I didn't create some loser alter-ego to make myself feel better. Take some responsibility!" - Tyler Durden in Fight Club.

     I don't have Tyler Durden in my head. But I have a dude a whole lot like him. In fact, I call him Tyler. He likes to cuss me and bully me around. I love him. He pisses me off all the time, gets on my nerves when I feel like I am going to die and pushes me to get up and get the miles in when I have no interest at all in training. Fortunately, for me, my Tyler only wants to punish me. Unless, of course, I can rope somebody into coming along on a long run in the heat of summer or the freezing temps of the winter, but that is more their own fault than mine or Tyler's. 

     I think that anybody who pushes themselves out the door or onto a treadmill and runs has someone like this in their head. An instinct or drive to focus on the task and complete something that is HARD. Without this "voice" they're would be no distance runners, without this "voice" a lot of us would be eating Doritos or Cheetos on our couches while slurping down a soda and watching re-runs of Seinfeld. Accept it, we all hear "voices". It is what keeps us going in the lonely and difficult runs, be it a marathon or a short training run. We need to hear that encouragement and, at times, that kick in the butt to finish strong. 

     Many people say that runners, distance or endurance runners in particular, are crazy. I think they may be right. Most runners have a loose screw or two but not my Tyler. That dude is a STUD......

Monday, February 8, 2010

List of Milestones and Races

The following are dates, times and races completed since my first run in 2006. Nothing fast and nothing special. Just a diary of accomplishments and events. Looking at this I can easily see my level of training/over-training. If only I could have seen it at the time........

*January 16, 2006 – 1mile in the rain. First run.
*January 20, 2006 – 2 miles
*February 1, 2006 – 3miles – 30 minutes
*May 6, 2006 – Bradleyville 5k -21:06 -17th overall 2nd age group
July 1, 2006 – Seymour 5k – 19:43 -2nd Overall
*July 4, 2006 – 5 miles -39:37
*July 11, 2006 – 6 miles- 43:15
*July 15, 2006 – Hall of Fame 10k- 43:15- 7th Overall
August 5, 2006 – Mtn. Grove YMCA 5k -19:13 -2nd Overall
August 12, 2006 – Finley River 5k Ozark- 19:22 -12th Overall
August 19, 2006 – MSU Alumni Run Springfield -19:25- 17th Overall
September 2, 2006 – K-Life 5k Branson 1910 - 10th Overall
September 9, 2006 – Seymour Apple Festival 5k- 17:53 -1st Overall
October 7, 2006 – RRS 5k Springfield- 19:14 -8th overall
October 14, 2006 – Sunshine Run 10k Springfield- 39:56- 23rd overall
*November 18, 2006 – Mtn. Home ½ Marathon Arkansas- 1:30:36 -5th Overall (Flu)
December 2, 2006 – Jack Frost 10k Springfield (ice)- 42:09- 1st age group
December 9, 2006 – Jingle Bell 5k Springfield 19:47- 16th overall -2nd age group
December 16, 2006 – Ozark Christmas 5k -18:41- 16th Overall
December 17, 2006 - 1st 20 mile run. -2 hrs 28 min.
December 31, 2006 – Run for the Ranch ½ Marathon Springfield -1:34:04 Rain
March 25, 2007 – Frisco ½ Marathon Springfield- 1:33:54- 16th Overall *lesson learned
May 5th, 2007 – Bradleyville 5k -19:30 -10th Overall
May 12, 2007 – Caney Mtn. Trail 5k- 19:42- 1st Overall ($100)
June 9, 2007 – Finley River 5k- 18:32- 7th Overall
June 30, 2007 – Seymour 5k -18:16 -3rd Overall
July 14, 2007 – Hall of Fame 10k Springfield- 40:44- 10th overall
September 8, 2007 Prep Summit 5k Springfield -19:25- 2nd Overall
September 15, 2007 Are You Faster Than a 5th Grader 5k Springfield- 18:18- 3rd Overall
September 29, 2007 Kiwanis 10k Springfield- 38:23- 5th Overall
*November 4, 2007 Bass Pro Marathon- 3:13:48- 20th Overall- BQ
March 2, 2008 Little Rock Marathon -3:29:17 -60th Overall
April 26, 2008 Gainesville 5k- 19:20 -2nd Overall
May 3, 2008 Bradleyville 5k -19:18- 17th Overall
May 17, 2008 RRS Springfield 5k -19:18 -12th Overall
June 14, 2008 Seymour 5k- 18:10 -4th overall
June 21, 2008 Nixa 10k -40:00 -7th Overall
August 30, 2008 Branson k-life 5k -18:42- 2nd Overall
October 1, 2008 Gainesville 5k -20:04- 2nd Overall
October 18, 2008 Rogersville 5k- 19:34- 4th Overall
*October 26, 2008 Dogwood Canyon 25k -2:11:30- 8th Overall
November 2, 2008 Bass Pro Marathon -3:16:54- 12th Overall
November 15, 2008 Mtn Home Marathon -3:26:43- 3rd Overall (Sick)
November 27, 2008 Turkey Trot 5k Springfield -18:48 -50th Overall
November 29, 2008 Mtn Grove 5k -19:01- 2nd Overall
December 6, 2008 Charleston Mo 5k -18:25- 5th Overall
February 21, 2009 Sylamore 25k Trail Arkansas- 2:31:33 -5th Overall
*April 18, 2009 Frisco 50k Willard to Bolivar -4:20:57- 5th Overall
April 25, 2009 Gainesville 5k -20:08 -2nd Overall
May 2, 2009 Bradleyville 5k -19:49- 8th Overall
May 16, 2009 Branson Rec Plex 5k -19:52 -1st Overall
September 12, 2009 Seymour 5k -18:36 -3rd Overall
September 13, 2009 Tulsa Turkey & TATURS 50k- 6:05:23- 6th Overall
October 10, 2009 Gainesville 5k -20:13- 2nd Overall
October 25, 2009 Dogwood Canyon 25k Trail- 2:11:13- 8th Overall
November 1, 2009 Bass Pro Marathon- 3:15:03- BQ -20th Overall
November 21, 2009 Mtn Home Marathon Arkansas-3:32:39- 6th Overall (calf strain mile 1)
February 20, 2010 Sylamore 50k Trail Race- Allison, Arkansas- 5:15:52 19th/139
*April 17, 2010 Ouachita 50 Mile Trail Race - Little Rock, Arkansas- 8:47:07 3rd Overall
April 24, 2010 Gainesville 5k- Gainesville, MO- 19:24- 1st Overall
May 1, 2010 Bradleyville Scholarship 5k- Brownbranch, MO- 18:39 7th Overall, 1st Age
May 8, 2010 Ava Lions Club 10k- Ava, MO- 37:39- 1st Overall
*June 18-19, 2010 Relay for Life- Gainesville, MO- 54.08 miles- 10:33:00
*July 11, 2010 Lake Freebird Sprint Tri- Mt. Grove, MO- 1:29:20- 27th/65
July 17, 2010 West Plains 5k- West Plains, MO- 18:45- 2nd Overall
September 11, 2010 Apple Fest 5k- Seymour, MO- 17:48- 2nd Overall (short course-5:44 pace)

* denotes 1st time at distance *

Sunday, February 7, 2010

But the BLING is nice........

Sometimes the VOICES chime in with this......Why keep racing? You will never win. Just stop already..........

To this I don't usually have an answer. Could it be for the BLING, the friendships or the self-satisfaction of pushing the limits of my own body. I will never be an "elite" runner and at 190 lbs it is unreasonable to believe that my PR's will ever rival those "fast dudes" at the local races but I can push myself to run my time and have a respectable finish.  I love to expand the distance and have completed numerous races including a few 50k ultras since my first 5k in 2006. 

It is nice to get a finisher's medal at the bigger events and the age group awards are always nice. I have even WON a few smaller 5k's and raked in a whopping $175 in cash awards. Nice but not fooling myself. The friends I have made are much bigger than any win. The people that show up to regular area events are always friendly, focused and very generous with encouragement, tips and good conversation. I have had the good fortune to be featured in the local newspaper and have made an appearance in another because of my running. This is as close as I will ever come to SI's Man of the Year and oddly, I am good with that. 
When the VOICES ask again I will tell them.......For the camaraderie of fellow runners, the fame, the fortune and the BLING baby. But they will know it is more about pushing the distance and challenging myself to see just how much I can handle. That is what really drives me....The challenge of it all, everything else is just frosting on the cake. Delicious frosting but still just frosting. 

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Procrastination and Skittles

        Saturday morning. Time for a long run. Maybe after some coffee and breakfast. Maybe later in the morning. Maybe this afternoon. Maybe tomorrow.
      And this is how it usually goes for me. I LOVE my long runs but hate to actually get out the door and on the road. Why? I have no idea. It usually takes 1-2 hours after I declare to my family that I will be going for a run before I actually lace 'em up and go. Today was no different. Finally at about noon, I sent a friend of mine a text. He is running a half in Little Rock this March, so I knew there was some type of long run in his plan this weekend. He called just a few minutes later and we agreed to run 8 miles together. I was hoping the he would run 10 but I'll take what I can get.
       I decided to run 10 miles before meeting him. Leaving my house I started at a slow pace but picked it up as I went. Keeping in mind that I would be running 18 miles total I tried to keep it slower and ended up with a 7:45 pace as my house came back into view. The timing was perfect. There he was, ready to roll. One problem. It was now 3 pm and I hadn't ate since about 7:30 a.m. One small bowl of oatmeal and a piece of toast were not cutting it at this point. Running into my house, I grabbed a quick drink and a handful of Skittles. I had my doubts about this choice but I was in a hurry. Mouth full of candy and water bottle filled I was ready. We took off on a very hilly route and had a great run. 8 miles at a 9:20 pace.
      I ended up with my 18 and learned a new trick. A handfull of Skittles worked as good as any energy gels I have tried and tasted a whole lot better. The procrastination thing........I'll worry about that later.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Sylamore 50k

I am officially signed up for the Sylamore 50k Trail Run in Allison, Arkansas on February 20. I think. Maybe. I'm not sure. I paid the money through pay-pal but the race website wouldn't let me register. The race director caught this immediately and emailed me for my information so I think it is all good. I ran the 25k there last year and had a great time. It is very well organized and the volunteers are great. The course is rugged but not extremely technical and the hills are just about right. The creek crossing at mile one was surprising and somewhat challenging because the water was chest deep....and cold. Since this race is an out and back, the creek comes into play again right at the end. Just enough shock to wake you up for the last mile or so. I had a blast in the 25k and hope the 50k is just as much fun. Really looking forward to running this with my training partner, Charley. We haven't had much of a chance to run together lately and this should be a lot of fun.

The Voices

This is how it works-
 I love to run but there are times when I would rather not. This is when the voices start. Chants, name calling, guilt and reverse psychology is how they get me up and out the door. I don't really mind the voices and have actually started looking forward to their daily calls. Together we have formed a running club that supports, encourages and competes with each other. I love these peeps. They are much more experienced, talented and tougher than I am. Pushing me out the door, through the hard miles and up the monster hills when I am feeling lazy or want to give up. Some people have "real" training partners, coaches and support crews. My team is ALWAYS with me and helps me to keep my eye on the prize and not veer off the track.  Sounds crazy- Yeah, probably does.........