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.........

Friday, September 24, 2010

uhhhh..... Because WE Just Do

Sometimes the VOICES ask some crazy questions. I usually avoid answering because the answers are hard and sometimes embarrassing. They used to ask, "Why do you run?" and my answer usually came in the form of "uhhhhh....." It was not meant to be a trick question yet it was so HARD to come up with an answer. Why do I run when there are so many days that I do not feel like lacing them up and going? Why do I run when there is no real incentive? I mean, I will never be paid, will never get famous, will never win a big event, will never........ Why do I run? The short answer is..... uhhhhh...

Some things are impossible to put into words. The feeling of peace that accompanies every run is part of it. The sense of accomplishment is another. Going to work after completing a long run, marathon or ultra and feeling a lot like the dude in Fight Club. You know, the scene where he is in his office and looking around thinking something to the effect of "You people have no idea what I do when I'm not here". Maybe it's the chase for that elusive endorphin "high" that I hear so many talk about. In the end the VOICES were satisfied with this answer. "Because WE just do."

Another question THEY ask is "Why do you blog?" Huh?? What do you mean WHY? Because I am a world-class, first rate writer that everybody wants to hear from. DUH. That answer only got a huge laugh and a few not-so nice comments about the blog. So, this question is a lot like the other. Simple question- hard to answer.

There is no REAL incentive for me to write ANYTHING. I am not an expert, not an elite, not a writer, not even very smart. But what I do have is questions that only seem to work themselves out as I write. Nothing I put on here is meant to be profound, brilliant or inspiring. (and trust me, I know it's not even close) It is a way for me to work through my own running issues, problems and goals. A way that, as crazy as it sounds, can ONLY work themselves out by "putting it out there" for a few to see. Don't know why this works for me but it does. So in the end, the same answer probably applies. "Because WE just do."

Of course those are non-answers to simple questions. The REAL answer for every question THEY ever ask is much easier. Because THEY believe in me and I believe in THEM. Together WE can do anything. Maybe not better than anybody else but we CAN still do it.

~I'll never be an elite runner. Probably no better than average at best. This I know. I hope that nobody tells the VOICES these facts...... I like how they still BELIEVE.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Finding Time

I don't have time.... too many things to do today. This was my first thought this morning when I woke up. Amazing how I already had jumped from A to Z and forgot the other 24 letters in between. My wife left early to work on a float that she and a friend were constructing for the annual Hootin and Hollarin parade. So I was "the dude" in charge.... scary. I decided to FIND a way to get at least something in. After some coffee, a MUST for any morning, I cooked the boys breakfast and we headed downstairs. They were able to play (and check on dad) while I worked out in my weight room. I also managed to squeeze in a quick 3 miles on the dreadmill. Total time for all of this was about 2 hours.

I was left with a grand total of 30 minutes for all of us to be showered, dressed and ready to roll out the door. Not REAL easy with a 7 and 3 year old but we got it done and zipped to town to play our part on the float and pass out candy. The sun beat down on us and everybody, including me, was wore out when we got home this afternoon. With my wife staying after to clean up and take the float apart- I was in charge of dinner. When she came home, the boys were fed and ready for a late nap. I thought about napping myself but then the VOICES kicked in.

"Are you REALLY going to nap? You're wasting precious time...... INVISIBLE MILES!!" Invisible miles?? Those are my favorite. They are the miles that you "sneak in" and do not affect your family at all. They are invisible in the sense that nobody but you can see them. I love invisible miles. I had to drag myself out the door- but it was well worth it. 6 miles of gravel roads at a decent pace- invisible to everyone else AND a double-dip.... can't beat that.

So, I guess what I'm saying is this...... sometimes we have to quit looking for excuses to not get it done and FIND ways to make it happen. Right now I have to find my way back to town for some more of that Hootin and Hollarin fun.... good music, square dancing, great people and FUNNEL CAKES.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Thanks to LSD....

Yesterday on September 11, 2010, The VOICES Club showed up in full force. Seems fitting that our BEST 5k performance would occur on this date. The race was held in Seymour, MO at the town's annual Apple Festival. It is a great little race because it is FLAT and FAST- I have been every year except once for the last 5 years. It draws a small crowd but grows a little each year.

I fit this race in as part of my everyday running with the thought that it would be fun and a good way to squeeze in some speed work. Speed work. I HATE that stuff and it is a very RARE occasion that you will catch me at the track running Yasso 800's or some other variation of KILL YOURSELF repeats. I just don't care for it or I'm not willing to work that HARD- both of these are probably true. My friend, Charley, and I had decided that we would run the 5k and then run afterwards to make it a combination speed- long run day. His training schedule called for a 20 miler and mine called for.....uhhhh..... whatever, 20 sounded great to me.

We lined up, said a prayer for remembrance and took off. I managed to keep a hard pace (for me) and kept Charley within sight even running with him for the first mile. Significant because he is FAST. I crossed the finish line in 2nd place with a time of 17:07. WOOOOO!!!!!!
WAIT....17:07?? No- that couldn't be right. It wasn't. A quick glance at the Garmin showed the course to only measure out at 3 miles instead of 3.1. Bummer. Doing the math- I have calculated the actual 5k time to be 17:48- Still a PR by 30 seconds or more. Of course, some would claim that it is NOT a 5k PR but those people SUCK. I call it a 5k PR. Done. That's how it is.

Charley and I ended up getting just over 20 miles in for the day- and had a great long run together. This is something we have not been able to do in a while due to schedule conflicts so it was really nice to run with my REAL training partner and friend. Dude knows how to push me when I need it.

Weird. That is how WE explain it. Because of my lack of "expertise" when it comes to all things running, I am confused. There has been ZERO speed work, ZERO training plans, ZERO pressure to improve and ZERO focus on races. Oh well, no need to think to much about it- that just ruins the fun. The VOICES have explained in very simple terms that even a dummy like me can understand. A whole bunch of LSD can really speed a guy up. (no drug test required)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

How to Win - Guaranteed

You don't have to win the race to win. THAT makes sense..... Sure it does. All it takes to win is effort. Put out enough effort and you win every-time. Push yourself to do something you haven't done before- put the time in to make it happen and THEN go and DO IT. That is winning. Won't make you rich or famous but it will make you feel good about yourself and the accomplishment.

It is easy to sit back and worry about NOT winning. Or making a fool of yourself. Or just saying "I can't do that". Easy sucks. At some point in our lives we have to get past all that and just throw it out there and see what happens. Who really cares whether you come in first or last? Who really cares if others laugh at your attempt? Why would you settle for "I can't"? NOBODY cares if you come in first or last- for the most part, people are impressed that you did it in the first place. Those that laugh? You can pretty well bet the farm on the fact that they are too insecure and scared to even try. "I can't" is a cop-out and we all know it.

Yesterday, I scribbled out a poem and posted it. I know it's not very good- but THAT was the point. A few years ago, I never would have done that. Or this blog for that matter. But somewhere along the way, because of my running, I have lost a lot of those insecurities and quit worrying about how "cool" I was.....I'm not. Just a big old dork like everybody else- might as well quit being scared and start exploring and enjoying life. It has worked for me and I think it will work for anybody. Set aside the self-doubt, put forth some effort and MAKE IT HAPPEN. You don't have to BE the best to GIVE your best.

What's the point here? Well, there is this little event that I've dreamed up and I am hoping you will ALL participate. (all 5 of you that read this) It is the 'I BELIEVE....5k' event set up through the facebook group Get Up Off the Couch. (the finest and most inspiring group ever on fb) Here's the scoop;

Join us for the "virtual" I BELIEVE.... 5k Walk/Run. Do it on YOUR terms. Pick your day, pick your location and keep your own time. Run an organized event, a course of your own, by yourself or with a friend. This is a way that EVERYBODY can complete a 5k. I BELIEVE...... Just pick a day between October 16, 2010 and October 23, 2010 and hit the road, track, treadmill or your favorite mall. Post your results and include location and date. If you want you can include your finishing time but it is not necessary~ time does NOT matter. Even if you are not a "runner" you can complete this distance. Walk if you want or google a beginner plan and run ~ either way, YOU win. Entry fee is a smile and 1 act of kindness to a stranger. Just don't get any cheaper than that.

A few excuses have been addressed above, there are others but you get the idea. Throw the excuses out the window and try something new. Even if you have done a 5k before it can still be a new opportunity. Set a goal, beat your old time, run the entire thing or push a stroller...... lot's of ways to make it different. The journey leading up to any event is usually the most rewarding part, so take time to prepare and enjoy every minute of the experience. I guarantee you WILL WIN.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Search....

The gravel crunches beneath my feet-
Dancing to the rythym of my own heart beat-
Up and down this peaceful road -
Out for another run I go-
As the miles stretch from 2 to 3-
It is clear what has become of me-
A runner I am, that is what I do-
The search is over, I have found my WOOOO!!!-

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Time to Make the Donuts.....

The "Streak" had to come to an end..... Here are the numbers:

45 days
326 miles
7.25 miles/day average
A few 3 milers on the low end and one 17 miler on the high end, several 6 - 10 mile runs sandwiched in the middle.

The streak just kind of happened. I didn't realize that there were no rest days until I was about 10 days in. My longest stretch ever had been 9 days so WE got to thinkin'...... what would happen if I kept going for a while? Naturally, I assumed it would lead to injury or burnout- so I made a deal with the VOICES. If things started to get out of hand- which I knew they would- WE would stop. No problem.... Yeah, right.

The idea was to keep running like I normally would, 5-6 miles per day through the week and some longer stuff on the weekends. Of course, all this changed and I found myself running a few 10's through the week and not really going long on the weekends. Another change was my pace. There were more slow miles than ever before. By slow, I am talking about maybe 30-40 seconds per mile off my "normal" pace. Even the VOICES seemed okay with this.

Everything was humming along smoothly until about the 30 day mark. Then it started going downhill. With the One Mile of Honor month-long event only half over, I felt like I HAD to press on. There were no injuries, it just started to feel like "WORK". Almost like the old commercial- "Time to make the donuts....." you know, really hard to drag myself out there day after day. Not really burn-out but more like I had a TRAINING PLAN- and I really dislike the pressure of a TRAINING PLAN.

Finally, this past Thursday, things got so jumbled up in my day that time slipped away and it just didn't happen. I went to bed a little disappointed but kind of relieved. When I woke up Friday morning.... Guess what? The world did NOT explode, time didn't stop and (this is the biggest shock of all) NOBODY cared. The best part? I actually felt like going for a run.

So, with one day of precious rest, the burden of the streak disappeared and I decided to hit the road for about 10 miles. The first 5 miles felt so good that I decided not to turn around and head back home. Before long, I was 10 miles out and feeling GOOD. Glancing at my Garmin, I took note of the average pace for that distance. 7:45/mile. How did that happen? I was just taking it easy and ENJOYING the morning. That gave me a little boost and the next 10 went a little faster. 7:15 average. There were even a few sub 7's mixed in on the later miles. Not sure what happened here- but one thing I do know- it was, for me, a GREAT run. Not only was it my longest in a while- since the Relay run back in June- but it was also a solo run- which is always harder.

The streak was an experiment- another silly stunt, really- to test myself mentally and physically. I somehow managed to avoid injury and, thankfully, LIFE intervened and took the decision to keep going out of my hands. A few things learned here.....

First- running IS and always should be fun. This is why I despise training plans so much- they suck the fun out of it.

Second- too much is too much. Not too much running but too much pressure. Pressure that I placed on MYSELF. Nobody else cared- but I have this crazy habit of piling it on when there is no reason to. That probably won't change much but at least I can recognize it a little easier.

Third- Mixing some SLOW running in with my training is going to become the norm. It WORKS- I have "known" this for a while but the last couple of months re-affirms my belief that sometimes you have to go slow if you want to go faster.

Fourth- Rest days are NOT evil. It is okay to chill once in a while. Once in a while.....

Simple lessons that I HAD to learn the hard way- that's how WE roll 'round here.