Saturday, August 31, 2013

End of Month Report: August 2013

It is the norm that I run 160-180 miles per month throughout the year. I don't ever have a monthly goal or even a weekly goal, for that matter. This month, though, was filled with more opportunities to go long more often, a 10-day challenge where I hit my 100-mile goal and an unscheduled 50K race last Saturday. Put those things together and I just wrapped up my highest mileage month...ever. 223.3 miles were sealed and delivered after this morning's 7 mile, 100 PERCENT humidity run through the country. It was a pretty good week, too. After last Saturday's 3rd fastest 50K, I ran a recovery 10 the following day, took 2 days off then ran each day following including a half marathon on the trails of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park yesterday. 46.7 miles since Sunday and still feeling strong, except for the thick, humid beatdown this morning.

Pure Flow 2 pair #4. Cool colors, eh?!
I'm also at 380 miles on my 3rd pair of Pure Flow 2's. Since it seems like 400 miles is the magic number for me on those shoes (and many stores tell folks 250 miles), it was time to bring out pair #4 today and break them in before a last-minute decision to race this Monday...Labor Day. So there is this 5K up in Cleveland as part of the Oktoberfest that is taking place on the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds. An entry gets me 2 tickets to the Oktoberfest afterwards so it's a win-win! I've been wanting all year to run a 5K to see what I can do. My PR (personal record) in the 5K distance is something like 19:41, set over 10-12 years ago. I have NO CLUE what I'm capable of in that super-short distance...but I'd LOVE to go below 20 minutes. An exact 20min finish equates to 6min, 26sec per mile average. Given a crowded start, I'm sure, that's going to be difficult. However, I'm not the person who pays a 5K entry fee to jog to the finish. I have every intention of running as smartly as possible and giving it everything I have. It WILL be a lung-burner, for sure...and I see no other way to approach it. If I can cross the 1 mile point within a few seconds of 6:30, I'm confident I'll be able to do it. If I'm stupid and am closer to 6min, I'm dumb...period. Once it is spent in a short race like that, there is no getting it back. If you want to know how I did, come back here around Noon on Monday and check my Twitter feed to the right. I'll tweet my results there after the finish. Race starts at 11am.

Leaning forward, September will be a month of maintenance, staying injury-free, and getting some long back-to-back runs in. The West Virginia Trilogy is getting larger in the distance. Only 6 weeks to go until a stage event of 50 kilometers, 50 miles, and 13.1 miles...Friday thru the mountains...surrounded by fall foliage. I.can't.wait.

For now, it's family time. Labor Day 2013 weekend is in full swing and we're ready to enjoy it.

Run Happy, friends!

Monday, August 26, 2013

M-Cubed for 8.26.2013

M-Cubed (Monday Morning Musings) for August Twenty-Sixth, Two Thousand Thirteen...a random smattering of thoughts that end up here on Monday morning.

- Welcome to the last week of August 2013. In our home, the "seasons" of life switch as school buses begin to roll again, homework becomes the norm, and bedtimes for the kids actually matter. On the good side, I will welcome the re-introduction of 'routine' back into our lives.

- To homeschool or not to homeschool...that has been the question. Much more than me, my wife has investigated this path heavily. There have been days where we were totally sold on it then others in the polar opposite direction. Ironically, our kids have literally begged us to homeschool them. In the end, they are heading back to public least for now. We continue to do the best we can and make the most wisdom-filled decisions we can and hopefully, we are on the right path. I'm sure the option will be revisited again as well as alternative schooling options but for now, it's back to the buildings where their mom and dad once roamed the halls, too.

- So my 24th ultra marathon is a wrap and compounding that with my 27 marathons, that brings my "grand" total of a 'marathon or longer' to 51. One thing I didn't want to waste yesterday morning was a decent length recovery run. In October when I run the Trilogy, I need to run two ultras back to back. As I woke up yesterday, I felt groggy, sore, and not wanting to run. However, I insisted (to myself) I would and to stay the course. True to history, I was perfectly fine. I headed out and zero soreness actually was present. If anything, my left calf was sore due to the charlie horse I got while writing my race report! I ended up running my favorite 10 mile hilly route through the country and was pretty fast in parts where I stopped paying attention to pace. Even better was that I got through 3 podcasts from James MacDonald which I've been wanting to do. It was a beautiful, cool sunrise run. I captured this photo around mile 2. I always look for this white horse along my route.

- See the MTV Music Awards last night? We cut the cable a year ago so I did not and I wouldn't watch it, regardless. But, the social media feed was buzzing this morning with Miley Cyrus' performance. Isn't seeing her these days like watching a complete disaster in the slow motion? Once the innocent Disney girl and now? Sex, skin, and zero self-respect of any kind. Trainwreck. Here's one of many headlines from last night. I know it's too much to ask but it would be great if someone close to her that knows better would step in and reign her in.

- I got my funnel cake. I got my sausage sandwich. The 2013 county fair is a rap. Thursday was kids' day so all kids got in free. We got an all-day ride pass for our kids and my wife and I tag-teamed morning and night to maximize the number of rides they could enjoy. It was a great time and I especially enjoyed watching them on the ferris wheel. Giggling, having fun, and just being sisters. Nothing can buy that! We stayed until around 9pm when both girls took one final ride: back to the big wheel where they squeezed into one seat with their grandpa. Not too sure they'll fit next year!
That's row up from center. :)
- Speaking of "fitting"... never mind. That word and what I observed from the youth of today at the fairgrounds is an interesting combination. Gone are the days of acid-washed jeans, 80s hair, and pegged jeans. I once again received my annual culture shock at the fair. "Where are you moms and dads? Do you even care? Do you even know?" Maybe we should talk about homeschooling again...

- Thoughts and plans now turn fully to October when I'll challenge the West Virginia Trilogy. I'm not entirely sure how to best train for this as I think my entire game plan that weekend should be: 1) Keep my head screwed on straight. (that's debatable considering I already signed up for this event!); 2) Don't get injured between now and then.; 3) Don't get injured during the race. 4) Do some "tired" training runs to simulate the stages.; 5) Set up camp in our backyard to make sure we have everything we need to live out there for 3 days in a tent. 6) For real this time: no more racing until the Trilogy! :)

- If you hear a boom today, that's our 3' in diameter tree crashing to the ground in our backyard. Rotting on one side, it's height, width, and power worry me every time a heavy storm rolls in, especially given its proximity to our home. Hopefully by days end, it'll be firewood and the house un-touched. Here's to a tight winch pulling it in the correct direction, little to no wind, and safety for all!

Have a great week, everyone, and Run Happy!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Race Report: Moebius-Green Monster Trail 50K

So the plan was no ultra-marathons until mid-October when I head to the mountains of West fact, no racing at all in the month of August. Well, that all changed when yesterday, I just "felt" like running a 50K. Just so happens, that a local one that I hadn't done before was today and the weather was looking really good.

I contacted the race director, Stephen Godale to see if was too late to get in and it wasn't. Same entry fee as well. So after work yesterday, I went to packet pickup at Sunny Lake Park in Aurora, OH and dropped off my check and registration form signing my life away. I had never talked to Stephen before, a well-accomplished (and fast) ultra-runner who lives a few miles away from the park. As soon as I walked into the boathouse at the park and saw the old-school pencil-n-paper scoring system for split and finishing times, I knew I was in the right place. I love ultras that are pure, simple, low-cost, and put on a quality event that takes care of the runners. No need for all the fluff like big races and marathons...keep it simple. So simple is this race that Stephen hand-made the finishers awards. Take a tree limb, slice it up like zucchini slices, draw some art and attach it to the sanded "slice" and BAM! ... finishers award. My first impression upon leaving the park yesterday was very good. It was beautiful there and I was anxious to see a new area to me...only 30min from my house, too.

After my ritualistic race morning routine of espresso and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I headed out to Sunny Lake Park. It was a cool-n-crisp 52F out and the dew coated everything and the mist was rising from every lake I passed. Mr. Moon was still high up in the sky and would keep us company for the morning hours until he set late morning.
Sunrise over Sunny Lake
Arriving at the park, familiar faces were already swarming and I readied my new UltrAspire pack. I have found over the last few ultras that I really, really like my hands free. Before, I always carried one handheld during races and wore a Nathan single-bottle waist-pack. Gone are the days when I'd wear a water bladder on my back. I found that it really wears on my shoulders so I no longer use them. The UltrAspire Impulse pack is unique in a few ways. For one, there is no buckle across my mid-section which is actually common on other UltrAspire minimize chafing and the pressure from the buckle. Instead, it hooks flat near my left hip bone. Also, the two bottles move independent of each other in the back as my hips move back and forth when I run. That makes it a snugger fit and hopefully less chafing. In this photo of me post-race, you can see what I mean. They are held together by a D-ring of sorts and also has bungie cord back there for storing a light jacket. There are also a few storage areas around the waist. Anyway, after one adjustment about a mile into the race, it was perfect and remained perfect all day. I love it...and loved having plenty of fluids at all times at my disposal thus cutting way down on aid station stops.

After a super quick brief by Stephen at 6:55am, we were off and running at 7am over a newly paved hiking trail. We didn't stay on there long and before you knew it, we were in the woods. This race is five 10K (6.2 mile) loops...equaling 50 kilometers or 31.2 miles. My plan was to really take it easy and run the first loop slowest then negative split every loop thereafter. I did just that...for the first three loops. Things were going well! During that 4th loop, I wouldn't say that the wheels came off but I did slow a bit. The previous loops were 61 to 62 minutes in length and that 4th loop brought me in around 68 minutes. No big deal, though...I knew I was going to still have a great time and I wasn't having any physical issues of any kind...just tired.

The course is probably one of the easier 50Ks I've done. No giant hills but a few that warrant a fast-paced hike up them vs. running them. Most of the course is in the woods over single track trail with lots of roots and the occasional rock. The course is rolling with gentle climbs and descents. From time to time, we popped out of the woods onto grassy plains and footing got a little tricky. Underneath that grass, the ground wasn't level quite often so care had to be taken to not twist an ankle. We also hopped up on the asphalt trail a few times that circles the lake before diving right back into the woods a short time later. It is certainly a very runnable and fast course. It would be a mess with lots of rain but we're in a stretch right now of little rain so the course was bone dry...even cracked, often.

During the 5th loop, I got my mojo back but I did walk a few times to chat with a few people. The infamous Fred Davis was out there today and I tell ya what, Fred is funny! He is a super-accomplished ultra-runner that has long ago retired out of Cleveland. It was great to talk to him but I'm pretty sure he had no clue who he was talking to. I also talked to another friend who was running her longest run EVER today. She was doing 3 loops and if memory serves me right, her longest run before today was a 25K (15.6 miles) and 3 loops today gave her 18.6. Way to go, Celeste!!!

In the end, I finished in 5 hours, 37 minutes, 35 seconds and couldn't be happier. The temperature had risen to 77F and not a spec of a cloud in the sky. That's 2 hours and 15 minutes faster than my 50K of Misery in mid-July! I'll take it! At the finish, Stephen handed me my sweet finishers award and after chatting with another fellow runner for a bit, I hit the road. Of course, I had to capture a few photos before that. Gotta document, ya know! I loved the course and park so much that I'm going to take my family out there tonight to walk around the lake and have a picnic-dinner on a few blankets. It is really nice and very well maintained by the county.

So yea...I didn't plan on this race. I just "felt" like running one and am so glad I did. Stephen put on a fabulous race and he had a great team of volunteers like Dan B.'s team that headed up the aid station exactly one half of the way around the loop. There isn't a thing I'd change and not a complaint do I have. I loved it. I especially like I how I feel after race...except for my taste buds. I tried to enjoy a few guacomole chips and my favorite red pepper hummus and everything tasted wrong! I just need to give it a few more hours and keep my water intake up.

I highly recommend this race for the first-timer and veterans alike. To Stephen...THANK YOU!!! I'm very thankful I had the opportunity to run your race this year and meet you. You can be sure that you'll see me again.

PHOTO FINISH! Photo courtesy of fellow 50K finisher, George Themelis

Run Happy, friends!!

Monday, August 19, 2013

M-Cubed for 8.19.2013

M-Cubed (Monday Morning Musings) for August Nineteenth, Two Thousand Thirteen...a random smattering of thoughts that end up here on Monday morning.

- I debated whether to post or not to post today. Some days, I feel like I don't have much to say and others, I feel like I could talk/type forever. Today is the former.

- It was a weekend of zero miles. Instead, I enjoyed sleeping in and doing some hiking with my kids. Back on Saturday, we headed down to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and enjoyed breakfast at Fisher's Cafe and Pub right along the Cuyahoga River. They only serve breakfast on the weekends and back a few years, it was a staple for me post-long runs in the CVNP. It was great to share it with them and laugh a little in the early morning hours. Awesome breakfast, too.

- Shortly after our breakfast, we headed to the gorgeous Brandywine Falls and hiked the short loop to end at the Falls, themselves. Along the way, due to little rain as of late, we spent quite a bit of time in the creek bed downstream of the Falls. I took a lot of great photos using different shutter speeds which I've shared at the end of today's post. I've also posted my favorites at Arms Up and Out Photography.

- May I be blunt for a moment? Well of course, I can. It's my blog! Unlike the lynching I would take on Facebook, I'd like to just state something for the record. I believe in Jesus Christ. I don't only believe that He died, was crucified, and rose again, but I believe He lives today and leads me intimately on a daily basis. I do not subscribe to any "universe" that controls anything. I believe that He created the universe (God, that is) and has perfectly knit everything together. I also believe that the Bible is the perfect, spoken Word of God. It is not missing anything and needs nothing added to it. It has everything we need to live and live for Him. I say all this because I think it gets lost in the translation quite often. Online on Facebook and Twitter, for example, I believe living a life REAL and TRANSPARENT. I don't believe in Bible-thumping and hitting people over the head with my "beliefs." Do I think they are absolute? Yes. Do I recognize that many will disagree? Yep. MANY have broken all ties with me under the banner of "intolerance" which is the ultimate in irony. I've blogged about it countless times, stomped my foot about it, and preached to the choir that I'm very tolerant of all...I really am. Tolerance, though, does NOT mean I agree, condone, or support whatever "it" might be. Those who blast me in the name of intolerance are the king of hypocrites as they embody the very intolerance they preach against.

So yes, I am a Christian. Yes, I follow Christ above all else. I do my very best (failing often) at living the life I am called to live and always will. I wish those who call themselves Christians the world over would do the same and let their actions speaker louder than the words which they DON'T speak nor live out. We are in a serious moral decline in this country and we simply must step up. Service over self or self over we serve others or serve ourselves? We are a country of self-service and it doesn't ever seem to stop getting worse. We must turn that around! {soap box end} :-)

- T minus 4 days and counting until my annual Amish funnel cake at the county fair! WOOT! Bring on the powdered sugar and artery-clogging carbohydrates. Gimmee some "fair fries" and a fat sausage sandwich with grilled peppers, too, please.

- Dr. James MacDonald is a pastor/leader/author who is well-known in this country and around the world. His daily radio show/podcast, Walk in the Word, is very well-known and is really good...and raw. Often, he hits you right between the eyes where you need it. Over the past week or more, he's been talking about promises. With so much "yuck" in this world, it's easy to lose sight of what we can actually count on. Turning to absolute truth and promises is a way to make it for me. This recent series couldn't be more timely as I've really been having some tough times as of late. The series is called "Always True" and can be listened to here.

- Almost the end yet no talk about running?! Say it isn't so. Not about me today, though. I want to give a huge shout-out to my bride and one of our best friends who ran with her this past Saturday at the Biggest Loser Half Marathon. They both set personal records and did AWESOME! They also both recently drank the "Brooks Pure Project" Kool-Aid and are running in Pure Cadence shoes. So proud of them both for setting their goals and not only crossing the finish line but crushing their own records. One must have the courage to start in order to finish. Kudos to them for awhile back for having the the sweet flavor of success. "Great job, ladies!!!"

- Moving forward for me: the big one on the horizon is the West Virginia Trilogy in mid-October. Camping, mountains, and away from civilization. I can't wait but I've got some work to do beforehand. I need to get back to the trails soon and get my trail legs back and spend several hours out there getting my head wrapped around the challenge. I have zero doubt of my ability to do it but I just need to get ready.

- I guess I did have a few things to say, eh?! I guess so. Well, here are a few of my favorite photos from the weekend. Click on any one for a full screen view. Enjoy!

Some camera fun.
Have a great week, everyone and Run Happy!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Challenge #2 Complete: 102 miles

Finally. As I laid in bed last night only moments away from being dead to the world, my wife asked me: "So, are you going to take Wednesday off?" I answered with a resounding "Yes." but followed on with "...but I could easily keep going at this point." It's true. For the past 3 to 4 days, I've woken up "feeling" the tiredness in my legs but in every instance, once I got running, they (and me, for that matter) came alive and I ran fast and strong. I'd love to truly understand what it is that I have been feeling every morning as I got up out of bed before my first step. Is it purely mental or physical or a combination of the two? Clearly, there is nothing wrong with me but psychologically, I swear my body is telling me "Don't run again today." yet when I do, I'm "all systems go!" But yes, I could easily continue on but like I established the rules 10 days ago, a goal/challenge is finite and has an end...and I have reached it. 20, 6 and 4 on day 2, 7, 10, 9, 14, 11, 7, 7 and 7 today.
In the end, I've run 102 miles over the past 10 days. The last 3 days were all low mileage but yesterday, I wanted double. I really did. In the first 7 days, I had my highest one-week mileage ever and did drink one full gallon of water every day but one. That one day, I was stuck inside a building unexpectedly for the majority of the day and my jug of water was in the car. There was no way to get caught up by the time I got back to it. As for the clean eating part of my challenge, I did "OK." There were a few slip-ups but no matter how many times I "suggested" to my wife we should visit Outback Steakhouse, she held strong and we never did. She has really become an awesome cook using so many fresh, new ingredients. I've eaten well! So, to sum up this challenge, I've learned some things:

  • I'm glad I did it. There were days where I did NOT want to run. Nope. I wanted to sleep but as always, I was thankful that I got out there because in the end, I was the benefactor and better because of it.
  • I'm capable of more than what I think. This challenge is cheesy to some and daunting to others. For me, I saw it as a clear challenge and expected it to be more difficult than I found it to be.
  • No one but me really cares about what I run every day or any challenge I set for myself. This challenge was for me...just me. One soul on this planet and no one else.
  • People are watching. Like Challenge #1, another person spoke up mid-challenge and let me know she saw my first challenge and made up her own. This week, she was doing Challenge #2, a challenge to get her out there again and begin running. Couch vs. Running. For her, the running (and her!) is winning and along with that, she is doing something for HERSELF and no one else. Little stories like this give me the fuel to keep going. I have to wonder if anyone else challenged themselves and didn't tell me.
  • When you run everyday, you don't miss the shooting stars, sunrises, downpours, or anything. You get it all.
  • If I truly wanted to lose weight, I have no idea how I'd do it. For many days in the past year, I've had huge calorie deficits in my days, burning hundreds upon hundreds more calories than I took in yet I never lose anything more than a pound or two. For me, the tell-tale is my Navy uniforms. All but one are made of unforgiving polyester that is very unforgiving. Either you fit in them or you don't. They are a great measure of where I'm at physically. So, like most people, I believe for "myself" that I need to lose 20-30 pounds but honestly, I haven't a clue how to do it. Others disagree but what I see in the mirror certainly could stand to lose. No matter, I'm going to keep running because I don't run to look a certain way or to lose weight. If I do, I do...if I don't, well....I don't. Run on...
  • The body continues to amaze me with its ability to recover. Period.
  • Poor shoes. One thing this challenge has shown me is that folks who run like this all of the time have got to spend a boatload of cash on shoes. I am getting about 400 miles on a pair of Brooks Pure Flows. I just cracked the 300 mile point on my 3rd pair of Pure Flows yesterday and I feel like I just got them. I did get my 4th pair recently and they are ready and waiting to be run in...but dang, I'd go through a pair every 5-6 weeks at this pace if I kept it up.
  • Back to the shoes. I'm still a 6'3", 200lb guy running in minimal shoes...and they hold up to all of my beatings yet show little to no wear whatsoever. Well done, Brooks...well done at building a phenomenal shoe and one that keeps me running happy and injury free. (My wife LOVES her brand new Pure Cadence, too...her first Pure Project shoe.)
So what's next? A rest day, that's what!!! No racing or bib numbers this month and for the month of September except for the last weekend at the Akron Half Marathon. The next big race for me is mid-October at the West Virginia Trilogy. While I don't see "Challenge #3" in my near future, I do plan on some long, several-hour runs to mimic the Trilogy that are back-to-back over 3 days. I also need to get my camping stuff out and build our campsite to make sure we're ready to tackle the mountains once the leaves begin to change. :-)

But before I go...

Final Thoughts

As I headed out this morning on my "Finish Line Run" under the stars and slightly muggy conditions, many of my thoughts turned to Mrs. "Smith" who I would run by this morning around mile 100.5 of my 102 miles. For the past couple of years, I've been taking Mrs. Smith's paper up to her house for her when I run by and occasionally on a Friday, if late enough, her empty trash cans. Mrs. Smith taught me in Wednesday night Bible school over 30 years ago and still does today, I do believe, for the current generation. She lost her husband a few years back so she lives alone. She has a beautiful smile and I love to "sneak" her paper up to her banister before she wakes up in the morning. Occasionally, her big picture window will have the blinds pulled and I'll wave good morning. From time to time, she'll see me on the road as she is driving and slow to say "Hello" and "Thank you." She even wrote me a note a few months back thanking me for helping a "little 'ol lady" out. :-) So this morning, I really hoped the paper would be out. This little act has brought me so much joy, it's a bit weird to me...but it's true. The best days are the long runs when I take her paper to her early then see it gone later, knowing she's been out there to get it and thought "Nick's been here already!" I smile every time. Some day, as she is up there in years, these days will end and I will be really sad and will greatly miss her. So today as I turned the corner, having just passed the 100 mile point, I looked for her paper but saw none. I fumbled for my phone to turn on the flashlight app since it was still dark yet nothing. "Darnit!!!" The paper lady hadn't  been by yet. "Now Mrs. Smith will think I didn't run today," I thought. "But I did...and I really wanted to take your paper to you!" Totally bummed out, I kept on running. 

The biopic movie about Steve Jobs is about to be released. The founder of Apple is idolized by many so this is a highly anticipated movie about his story and legacy. I say this because our lives are NOT about us. They are about the imprint we leave behind us...our legacy. We will not be remembered about how many miles we run, how many "WOD's" we do, how much we lift, how much money we made...we'll be remembered for the lasting impact we made...or didn't make. Who do we make smile? Who do we encourage? Who do we lift up? What will people say when our ticket gets punched and we walk no more? Kindness. It matters. It may cost nothing, something, or a lot...but it matters. I encourage you today to do something for someone other than yourself and do it again tomorrow...and then keep it up. My little challenge means nothing in this world and few people will ever know about it. But picking up Mrs. Smith's paper? She knows. I know. She smiles. I smile. She is blessed. I am blessed. Life is better because of it...and it's but one more very good reason to get out and run.

Run Happy, friends.

Monday, August 12, 2013

M-Cubed for 8.12.2013

M-Cubed (Monday Morning Musings) for August Twelfth, Two Thousand Thirteen...a random smattering of thoughts that end up here on Monday morning.

-! I am more than ready for a day off as I near the end of my 10-day challenge. Thinking back to Jamie Summerlin's run across America last year in 100 days where he averaged over 34 miles a DAY, I am in more awe than ever. Just amazing. Today is Day #9. This morning, I rocked out 7 miles with shooting stars and cool/moist air. The tally sits at 95 miles. Clearly, I'm in easy striking distance of my 100 mile, 10-day goal so Challenge #2 will certainly be met in less than 24 hours from now! So far, the days have been as follows: 20, 6 and 4 on day 2, 7, 10, 9, 14, 11, 7 and 7 today. Tired but injury free! (looking forward to REST on Wednesday!)

- A great weekend is now history. We spent it partially with extended family catching up on "life" in general and also taking the final steps in joining our new church family. Yesterday, we were presented to the church and gave a brief testimony about ourselves and introduced our family. It is great to finally be a part of a church family that is so real and authentic. "Shiny, plastic people" we are not! We are very thankful for where we find ourselves right now and what the future holds.

- I know many people look at me and call me crazy. But seriously, when you look at the photo below, do you need more reason to get out there? This was the sunrise on Saturday morning. Out of my 11 miles, I did the first 4 with my wife and we watched the sunrise together while listening to the birds waking up. Just beautiful and full of glory.

- Flag football. Ugh! I am a runner. Just that and nothing more. Over 20 years ago when I was in high school, I marched in the band and ran the 400 as a freshman. Outside of that, I did nothing in sports. On Friday (after running 14 in the pouring rain), I met up with about 11 Navy sailors for an hour of flag football. It was the first time I had met any of them and boy did I get my tail handed to me! Running for hours is one thing but football is quite another. Add in slippery grass due to the rain and I did the best I could and quickly was in need of shower #2. It was great to be out on a wet field playing football with fellow active duty sailors...and to be one of them. :-))))

- Lunges. I used to be a stretcher but now I run and do nothing else post-run. I'm against stretching cold muscles pre-run but stretching post-run is advisable yet I don't do it. This past week, I read David Willey's editor note in Runner's World (read it here) and one thing he does is lunges. This past week post-run I have begun doing them from the tip of my driveway to the end at the completion of the run to stretch out muscles I NEVER stretch out. In the past, I always pull a muscle when I do lunges because I do them cold. Now, everything is heated up and I'm feeling good so far. I recommend reading his note for some tips and humor, too! It's in the front of the Runner's World that just arrived in mailboxes this past week. I'm also wearing my Road ID religiously now...just in case.

- Texting and Driving. I will admit that I do it. My opinion is that most do...not all, but most do. Over the weekend, a friend was in an accident and posted the following 34min documentary on texting and driving. My family and I sat down and watched it Saturday. As I said to my family and I say to you, the reader, now: I promise not to text and drive...and that includes Facebook and Twitter. Eyes on the road from now on. I implore you to take the 34min and watch it yourself.

- Can you believe it's almost halfway through August already?! The Fall stuff is already out at the stores and school is already in session in different parts of the country. Another two weeks for us, though.  Too fast....too fast. But first, I will get my annual funnel cake at the county fair. Next week!

- To close out today, I'd like to officially give the "Welcome!" shout out to my wife and her new pair of Brooks Pure Cadence...the stability shoe from the Pure Project line. In the true nature of fun, I conducted the first meeting of the Pure Project Anonymous shoes and snapped a photo. :-))) She is doing super good at running and will be running another half marathon this weekend. "Keep rocking it out, Babe!"

Have a great week, everyone, and RUN HAPPY!

Friday, August 9, 2013

14 Miles and a new 50K

Day 6 of the challenge arrived around 4am this morning. 10% chance of rain, 68F, and the patio dry. Espresso brewed, e-mail checked and a few replies sent, dishwasher emptied and it was about time to head out. Indoor water parks have those big buckets high up that collect water then all of a sudden, dump it to the kids below in one big splash. Much like that, I heard the sound of crashing water on the rooftop as if a bucket had just been dumped above. I smiled. Some may head back to bed but there was no way I was going to miss this soaking. Minimal attire on (my Pure Flows, my favorite Rogue III shorts and that's it), lots of BodyGlide and out the door I went. Even the iPhone stayed behind. By 50 yards in, I was soaked. I had some time so 10 miles was the plan. I figured that I was at 56 miles for the challenge and 10 would help prep me for a long run in the next few days and I "should" reach my goal. I ran strong today...probably averaging 8:30 per mile or faster. As I went, the rain came down and never stopped. Dark, soaked, and running, I really was. I was also glad I didn't wear more as chaffing and heavy clothes would've been wearing me down. I also wanted more so I doubled up a few sections where I knew the 1/2 mile increments and by the time I got home, I racked up another 14 miles and brought myself to 70 miles in 6 days...with 30 miles to go over the next 4 days...minimum. :-) I did lunges all the way up the driveway and called it a day. I felt incredbly good which defies logic but it's true. Just like in the first 7-day challenge, I'm getting stronger, faster, and recovering quick in the second half. Awesome.

Researched before I left, I was ready to pitch my "race desire" for January 2014: the Frozen Sasquatch Trail 50K outside of Charleston, WV in a state forest. It's another event organized by the West Virginia Mountain Trail Runners who did the Highlands Sky 40 back in June that I did and are doing the Trilogy I'm going to (gulp!) in two months. Two 25K loops...and yes, a 25K is offered. It's got a great finishing award. Check out the website if you want to dig into what that is.
A little over 3 hours from home makes it easy and some good hotel options made it even better. Looking at the whole picture and how my family (like many others) go stir crazy in the middle of winter, this whole thing looks like a great family getaway. Dad runs Saturday morning and the girls can swim! Plus, we can relax Saturday night and check out the WV capitol before lazily returning home on Sunday. I pitched it to my wife and by early afternoon, the hotel was booked and race registered for. This race sells out every year at 200 runners. I asked a few friends who know about it and I couldn't find any negatives about it. Last year, it was 40F and the year prior, it was 14F with 6" of snow. SO....perfect for me! The winter is certainly my strong season when it comes to racing.

Time for the weekend!

Run Happy, friends!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Challenge #2 Halfway Point SITREP

OK...sorry...I just had to do it. SITREP is military speak for "Situational Report"...or in today's case: how it's going mid-challenge. Effective just a few days ago, I returned to active duty in the U.S. Navy so the acronyms are trickling back into my vocabulary. So...I'm midway:

It's been going pretty good and as expected, my brain has been getting in my way. As you probably know, I started Day 1 with a 20-miler which gave me a little fudge to work with in later days. To recap: my goal is 10 days with no rest, minimum of 6 miles per day and an overall mileage goal of 100 miles. Basic math tells you real quick that either I have to run 10 miles every stinkin' day or get some long runs in there. I also committed to eat "clean" and consume 1 gallon of water every day. It's midday now and here's my jug of water so I'm doing pretty good but I do need to pick up the pace a bit. All but one day I hit the gallon mark. As for the clean eating...hmmm...well, a few hiccups in there. I've haven't splurged but have had some margarita chips and hummus. Really not much else bad outside of that.

OK, let's be real for a second, why don't we?! I'm burning a ton of calories. I'm also a 6'3", 200lb guy and I burn a bunch of calories just by living. I love me some good comfort food, no doubt, and what do you know...the driver (Randy Newman) of the Outback Steakhouse car in NASCAR finished in the top 10 on Sunday which means all Bloomin' Onions are FREE on Monday...and I love FREE! Yes, they have a huge amount of calories but honestly, at the burn rate I'm at, it doesn't matter...I should know! :-) But I will give all the credit to my wife on this one. I egged her on a few too many times and she held ground. She insisted on making awesome meals at home and not partaking. Good for her...and good for me. (but now I'm salivating for a Bloomin' Onion and I know we're staying home tonight)

Today's run of 9 miles. Well...9.01. :-)
But anyway, the running. (yes, that's the point of today's post) Doing well and at 56 miles after this morning's super foggy, muggy run. Today, I went out for 6 and "accidentally" did 9. I didn't pre-think the route at all nor did I check my mileage along the way so by one point, it only made sense to keep on running. (that sounded very Forrest Gump-like) When I went to bed last night, I told my wife "I just want to sleep in tomorrow. I don't want to run." Her response? "Just take the day off then double up or do two the next day." Me: "But I committed to run every day a minimum of 6 miles." To whom, you ask? I guess to you! Or to myself, I suppose. Regardless, I'm a man of my word and when I commit to do something, I do it. Period. So I did. Yesterday, I was not happy when I got up. Mentally undone and not wanting to breathe, much less run. In both instances, I wasn't thrilled about heading out and my legs "felt" a little sore...but were they? I'd argue that my mind was messing with me. I was fine and ended up running quite strong. Today, I only wore my Garmin because I ran a totally new route that changed as I ran. Zero plan...just ran. When I got home, my pace read a modest 8:52 per mile...and that was comfy. I wasn't pushing at all and not slacking either. I was happy to see that because it makes my goal-driven mind wonder what could I do if I trained to race? If this is easy then what could I run a half marathon in, for example? Anyway, my legs felt fresh today and the "soreness" was nothing more than a lie. It was more of my mental funk (and probably lack of lengthy sleep) getting in the way of how well my body is doing in this challenge. So the lesson learned during these first 5 days?

Just run. Deny every excuse that attempts to derail you. Lace up and get out there. You CAN do it so make the decision that nothing will stop you. (outside of injury, of course.)

Here was yesterday's 10 miler at sunrise around Mile 6. It was a beautiful morning and the birds were singing loud, too. Beautiful, isn't it?

So, I've got 5 days to go and I will not fail. 44 miles to go and I'm looking forward to a nice long run either tomorrow, Saturday or Sunday...or a combination of a few. :-) Gotta remember..."Run Happy." Otherwise, there's no point. Ironically, we may not always head out "running happy" but by the time we get home, a little "Run Happy" somehow sneaks in there and thereby makes our day a little brighter.

Run Happy, friends!

Monday, August 5, 2013

M-Cubed for 8.5.2013

M-Cubed (Monday Morning Musings) for August Fifth, Two Thousand Thirteen...a random smattering of thoughts that end up here on Monday morning.

- Well good first-Monday-of-August to ya! August? August...yep. For my family, when August 1st arrives, several things are now reality: the marching band begins camp a mile away at the school, the county fair is only a few weeks away (oh yea...Amish funnel cake, here I come!), my wife heads back to work soon at a local college campus as the students are en route, and the school buses are about to be rolling once again! It has gone fast, this surely has. Keep rolling along, friends!

- 8 day vacation to central Florida a rap! We put on about 2800 miles on our car and had a very anti-touristy vacation. While our resort was in Orlando, we didn't visit any Disney theme parks this time around. Instead, we sought out what else Florida has to offer. On the way down, we chopped our trip in half and stayed overnight in western North Carolina with friends, just outside of Asheville. During our stay in Orlando, we made a few trips west to the beach outside Tampa which was a.m.a.z.i.n.g!!! Think white powdered sugar...for sand...and uncrowded beaches..and clear green-tinted water. That's it! One of my daughters even saw a stingray on our last visit. We also ventured north for everyone's favorite activity of the vacation: kayaking on the Rainbow River. The Rainbow is the largest spring-fed river in the world. Millions of fresh water fill this river daily which remains a constant 72F year-round.  We rented two tandem kayaks and enjoyed a day filled with lots of swimming, laughter, a steady current, and an awesome dinner with friends...and gator bites! We also spent a day at Sea World in Orlando. Being a military family, we got in for free (minus the $15 fee to park the car) and went straight to Shamu Stadium for a front-row seat in the Splash Zone. Oh yes, we did get soaked! One day in a tourist-crazy park confirmed to us that we certainly made the right call regarding staying away from the parks. Seriously...400 bucks just to get the four of us through the gate at one of those parks. 400! We just couldn't stomach that and opted for low cost/free things to do and create priceless memories. Absolutely no regrets and not a single, solitary complaint from our girls. We had a fantastic vacation!

- Day 2 of Challenge #2 today just after I click "publish" on today's post. Yesterday's totally unplanned 20 miler yielded zero soreness and was quite easy. Last night, I mentioned to my wife that I couldn't even tell that I ran yesterday. If you haven't read the challenge, check out August 4th's post here on my blog. It lays it all out for you.

- Last year, we hosted a small gathering at our former church for the Art of Marriage...and 2-day marriage event from FamilyLife. Now, plans are in motion to do it again at our new church home but this time, the response has been incredible. There is such a hunger to make our marriages a priority today so this is perfectly timed. We are really excited to lead this event once again this Fall! We are also very thankful for our new "family" which has so graciously accepted us and made us feel at home.

- I finally picked up my new 2-bottle UltrAspire waist pack yesterday at Hudson's Vertical Runner. I have found this summer that I really like running my events in a way where both of my hands are free. In the past, I've carried one bottle on my back and another in my hand. This allows me to carry some gear and put both bottles on my back. The unique thing about the new Impulse (click here for details) is that the two "sides" of it in the back move independent of each other as you run and your hips move opposite of each other with each stride. Less chafing and a more precise fit is what I'm going for here. I'm hoping I will really love this pack and it'll serve me well this Fall.

- We visited a small corn festival yesterday in Kent after a trip to Vertical Runner. It was held at a local apple orchard and was set to benefit the local Lions Club. Some live bluegrass music, a handful of vendors, and some fresh festival food were the offerings. We ended up leaving with a 1/2 peck (a small bag) of fresh peaches and before the night ended, my wife made a fresh peach crisp dessert that we all enjoyed after dinner. SO good!

- It's a new day and a new week, friends. Whatever good, bad, great, or ugly thing happened yesterday...well, it was yesterday! Today is a new opportunity to own and live life to its fullest extent. Decide to do that now and have no regrets! Choose to bless someone while you're at it and have a wonderful day and week!

Run Happy, friends!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Challenge #2

Recently, I made up a 7-day challenge just for me and finished it just over a week ago. At least one other person, a fellow runner and Navy officer took that, made her own challenge, and finished it on Friday. I did a 7-day challenge with a minimum 10 miles per day. I ended up with 75 total. The friend of mine made up a 10-day challenge where her minimum per day was 6 miles but a total 100 mile goal in 10 days. She also limited herself to 1200 calories per day. So as you can see, it can be whatever you want it to be. Here's my recap of my Challenge #1.

I want to challenge YOU...yes YOU...the one reading do something for yourself here. There are only a few rules:

  • Write down your goal. (Yes, common sense but it matters!)
  • Make it achievable given your schedule. Don't go crazy but make it just a hair out of reach.
  • Challenge yourself. Push a little further out of your comfort zone.
  • Tell others....for their encouragement, accountability, and because you'll inspire them. (Yes, YOU!)
  • Don't quit.
  • Solicit the support of your significant other for support. Watching the kids, doing it with you, or simply to encourage you when it gets tough and to celebrate when it couldn't go any better!
  • Comment here on this post and let me hear what you're going to do.
  • Make it finite. It needs to end. You need to reach the finish line.
  • Run Happy. Otherwise, what's the point?!

So for my Challenge #2: I am going to piggy-back a bit on my friend's goal but not totally. I commit to run 100 miles over 10 days with a minimum 6 miles per day with no rest days. Given I'm a hefty 200lb guy and need my calories, I'm not going to count calories (I despise that, actually) but instead drink one gallon of water per day and eat "clean." No processed foods or sugars. No hydrogenated crap, high fructose corn syrup, etc. Lots of fruit and veggies and "from the earth" foods. This really isn't far from my normal routine but it will have some impact on those nights we go out to eat.

So that's mine. What's yours? Comment and let me know!

Today, I did 10 miles with one of my best friends and my wife. They are training for a half marathon coming up. I then headed out for another 10 miles on my own...the hilly route and about 90sec faster per mile. At the end, I feel great and easily have a full marathon in me today. Enough for today, though. 9 days to go and a busy "life" schedule so this little buffer to get me going will hopefully help me reach my mileage goal.
Around Mile 8 of today's 20 miler
Mile 16 of today's 20 miler
Run Happy, friends!