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.

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