Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
As we are all well aware, it's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year! No... I'm not talking about the Christmas season with all its twinkly lights and festive charms. And although it comes in as a very close second, I'm not even talking about the back-to-school season, when, after three long months, we can finally shoo the kids back to the classroom to once again become the problem of their respective school teachers. No, folks, I'm talking about Thanksgiving. Or, as I like to call it, The Day of Pure and Unadulterated Happiness.
Tuesday, May 04, 2010
I went out this morning for my first sunrise run of the year.
I'm no stranger to early-morning workouts, mind you. Summer training finds me on the road as early as 4:30 in the morning and winter training finds me in the gym at an equally ungodly hour. It's taken until the first week of May this year, however, to find the gumption to hit the pavement at the break of dawn.
I'd forgotten how perfect early morning running really is. Surreal, I'd even go so far to say. I wasn't more than a mile down the road when I was struck with the impression I was in the middle of the movie Mary Poppins when it goes from real-life to animation. You remember that part, right? When I was a kid, I wished over every birthday cake I ever ate that I could play in an animated world like that, even just for one day. And then I blew out the candles and opened packages of socks and underwear instead.
As I headed out that morning, the sun was barely peeking over the eastern horizon, illuminating the sky in subdued watercolor hues. The clouds were wispy, gently floating in the cool, crisp morning air. For just another hour or so, the atmosphere would be absolutely silent except for the sound of the chirping bluebirds and the red tulips opening their delicate petals to greet the azure sky. I think the birds could have been singing a Rob Zombie tune and it would have been the loveliest melody ever heard.
As I climbed the butte behind my neighborhood to run the farm hills above it, I saw six bunny rabbits casually sunning on the side of the road. (They weren't just regular rabbits... they were bunnies.) They eyed me cautiously then scampered quickly away before I could get too close to them. I startled a mallard duck out of the stream I was running alongside, fascinated by its brilliant colors as it flapped its wings in retreat. Even the farm horses grazing in their pastures seemed extraordinarily regal.
As I ran, lighter on my feet than I'd been in a very long time, I marveled at the sheer resplendence of it all. It may have taken thirty years, but I finally got my chance to play in an animated world. As the song goes, happiness was blooming all around me.
I'm just glad Dick Van Dyke didn't show up doing a tap dance in those creepy penguin pants.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
My treadmill died last night.
His name was Wes (short for Weslo Cadence, 340 CS the Third). He was a good treadmill.
I bought Wes eight years ago when I first entertained the notion running might be a fun thing to do. I didn't spend a lot of money on him since I wasn't sure how much time we'd be spending together. In fact, I think I even bought him on clearance, knowing I'd feel less guilty about wasting the money on him when he turned into a storage shelf within three months.
Wes never did become a storage shelf, nor even a clothes hanger. Wes lived out the days of his life being precisely what he was meant to be.
At first, I didn't put many demands on Wes. We were just getting to know each other, after all, and I didn't want to scare him off prematurely. I'd go for a trot a few times a week and call it good. But as time went on, Wes and I became much more intimately connected. Soon we found ourselves spending hours upon hours together. We were like Bonnie and Clyde, except there weren't any bank robberies involved. Wes never complained and he never failed. He just kept churning away as slow or as fast as my legs demanded.
Wes's demise came on suddenly. In retrospect, I believe it was an act of mercy as I think he knew I wouldn't be able to handle watching him suffer for very long. We were halfway into an hour-long tempo run when he started coughing and sputtering. I was surprised and confused but after a few minutes, I knew what was happening. The sorrowful gravity of the moment I had long dreaded gripped ahold of me. I was going to have to put Wes down and I was going to have to do it within the next 27 minutes.
I spent the final minute of Wes' existence gripping the handrails, dripping sweat on the console and breathlessly expressing my gratitude for all he had done for me. When I mercifully turned him off and unplugged him for the last time, my heart runneth over as I imagined a host of little naked, winged angels carrying him away to a happier place.
Thank you, Wes. I am a better runner because of you.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
It's been a very long time since I last blogged. Let's just say I've been in a bad mood for six months and leave it at that. And while I can't promise this post won't be just a lead-in to another extended hiatus, I at least thought I could de-hibernate enough to poke my head out of my cave for a few moments and update my readers. All seven of you.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
It's been awhile since I've blogged. Finishing another grueling round of marathon training then topping it off with a successful race apparently puts me in automatic vacation mode. Not the lounging-on-a-sandy-white-beach-listening-to-the-waves-and-sipping-piña-coladas kind of vacation mode. More like the shutting-off-the-alarm-clock-instead-of-getting-up-to-run-in-the-cold-dark-because-I'm-not-training-and-don't-have-to-run-anyway kind of vacation mode. It's no fruity drink with a miniature umbrella, but it's a pretty good place to be nonetheless.
Monday, September 21, 2009
They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. Seems to me that's one good reason why marathon runners are considered insane (besides the obvious ones, of course).
Saturday morning, I ran my fourth marathon and for the first time, I ran a marathon I'd already run before. A marathon that'd already kicked my butt before. And yet, there I was again... begging for more.
Insanity at its finest.
To be fair, the technical results this time actually were different... 14 minutes and 35 seconds different, to be exact (which was the improvement I made on the same course from two years ago). Even better, I set a new marathon PR on Saturday as well by clocking in at 4:19:22, more than seven minutes faster than my previous personal record.
I should be ecstatic, right? Well... I am. Sort of. But here's where the insanity comes into play.
At mile 20, I was on course to shatter my PR, not just clip it. The first 18 miles of the course were downhill and despite my efforts to keep my legs in check, they were on fire. Even the weather was working against me with a strong 15mph tailwind pushing me even faster down the canyon. Over and over again, I checked my GPS for my pace and over and over again, I had to force myself to SLOW DOWN. It was all an effort in vain, however, and although I managed to keep things from going wildly out of control, I failed miserably at disciplining myself enough to stick to the negative split strategy in order to finish strong.
It all felt sickeningly familiar.
Two years ago, I did the exact same thing. I built up a full head of steam the first 18 miles running downhill only to crash and burn and lose a PR in the final six miles. For all intents and purposes, it should have been a lesson learned... if I were sane, that is.
In the end, I still got the PR I was coveting on Saturday morning, one that has eluded me since I ran my first marathon more than three years ago. And while I'm annoyed with myself that I can't seem to find the necessary discipline to avoid the Crash and Burn that would've resulted in a much bigger PR, I'm still supremely pleased with my accomplishment. Perhaps I'm the kind of runner that will only make PR's in small chunks at a time... and that's okay. At least the numbers are going in the right direction and that's reason enough to keep trying.
I don't know if I'll be back to Top of Utah. Although I love the event, I just don't get along with the course. I'll be researching marathons in the coming months that will be much more forgiving of my insistence to start out too fast. If it has to be an uphill marathon, so be it, as long as there's enough flat or downhill at the end of it to finally turn my legs loose.
It's the least I can do to repay them for all the hard work they do at the hands of a lunatic.
Warm orange Powerade never tasted so good. If my tank top seems a little... errr... off kilter, it's because my last energy gel (out of four total) is still stuffed in the right side. I've never felt so voluptuous.