Thursday, July 31, 2014

Month in Review: July 2014

On one hand, it was a quiet month with no racing, no bib numbers pinned on, and no finish lines...official ones, that is. On another hand, it was an epic month for me. Over the past few months, I have been trying to get my monthly average to equate to 200 miles per month for 2014. To even the log, this month would've required 231.0 miles. With no races on the calendar and a streak started back on June 19th, I was determined to finally do it. If I did, 231 would be a personal monthly record. So here's how the month ended up, as of the conclusion of this morning's run:


That was total chance that weeks 3 and 4 had exactly the same number of miles. Overall, though, it was pretty even. Given 31 days in the month, I averaged 7.774 miles per day. In reality, 6 of those 31 days were days only to keep the streak alive...one 3 miler and the others 2 miles or even a mile. Throughout, I continued to integrate Navy-regulation push-ups into the run, pausing only long enough to knock them out, often in the middle of the road. The one day that stands out in this month was last Friday when I ran 22 miles around town. It was a Forrest Gump kind of day where I ran until I simply didn't want to run any longer. Within those 22, I conquered 250 push-ups, easily more than any other day of my life. That 22 was easy, too, as were those push-ups. It simply didn't faze me.

Yesterday, I only needed 3 to hit my goal of 231 miles. However, a friend who grew up in my hometown who now lives in California was in town and we were able to get together for a fast 6 miler out on my daily route. He's the one who inspired me to start my streak and I had never officially met him but his parents live a mile from my doorstep. With that run, I went 3 miles over my goal with still a day to go. Where I got my brain into trouble is when he told me his lifetime record for one month was 240 miles. Well, I was sitting at 234 yesterday and his lifetime goal was a perfect reason to go out today and do 6 myself...or 7. :) On the road before 5am, I did something I never do. I turned on my MapMyRun app along with the voice prompts. At each 1/2 mile, it would tell me my splits. My thinking was that I'd head out on a whole new route and turn around when it told me I was at 3.5 miles. Well, that did not turn out like I had planned. That little female voice talking to me only prompted me to go faster...and faster...and faster. It turned into a challenge against myself. With every passing 1/2 mile, I picked it up a notch because at the next 1/2 mile, it would tell me that split PLUS my overall pace. That overall pace kept going down by chunks because I kept ratcheting up the speed. SO, my planned easy last-day-of-the-month run turned out to be a very successful ladder run! Who says I need another human being to challenge me when I have MYSELF!?!? As you can see here to the right, I ran a classic ladder. Well, 3 and 4 were even but for no plans to run a ladder, I'm pretty darn happy! BOOM!

So 241 miles. Write it in stone. That brings my monthly 2014 average to just over 201 miles per month. Given that I've never run much more than 2100 miles in a year, I am nearly 300 miles (annualized) over my all-time record, should I continue. I do continue to remind myself, though, that every mile, every blog post, every entry on my log is for just one person...me. It's not for anyone else (though it may inspire them), I don't do the miles for anyone (though it may help get them out the door), and ultimately, I need to be confident in my decisions to run every mile and look back without regret (because no one owns my miles but me). Wrapping up July and entering into August tomorrow, I feel like I'm in the best shape of my life. Looking back at 2009 when I ran three 100-mile races, I was certainly in good condition and looked slimmer. However, I feel stronger now...like I can conquer anything thrown at me. I do believe running everyday is contributing to this. Whether I run 2 or 22 miles, I get up the next day feeling the same and do it again. My body has adapted, I'm feeding it well and recovering properly, and working on my upper body strength to compliment my growing endurance and strength. So what next?

My sights are clearly focused on June 2015. I will forego the 2015 running of the Highland Sky 40 Mile Trail Run so that I can focus on my return to the 100 miler. While some run multiple 100-milers a year and make it look easy, I have not had the bug bite me to train for the distance again nor the craving to go the distance. That has changed over the last few months as the hunger returned and I feel ready to do it again...back at my original 100-mile finish. This time, though, I won't make the trip alone. My wife will join me and crew me for those 100 miles and celebrate my 4th finish of the distance. Here is one photo of a dad crossing the finish line of the Kettle 100 last month with his son.


That banner is one image I am going to blaze into my brain and use as a source of inspiration for the rest of this year, into the winter and next year's Spring. Back in 2009, I finished in 25hrs, 39min., which is actually my fastest of my three 100s. Most 100-milers have a goal to one day finish sub-24 hours. I don't know if I can actually write that down as a hard-n-fast goal but it will certainly be something I'll be striving for as icing on the cake. Ultimately, though, the goal will "simply" be to cover the 100 miles under the 30 hour time limit. I did find this blog entry about the Kettle 100 inspiring tonight. Interesting that it focuses on happiness...while talking about covering 100 miles. Yea, that may sound crazy to the non-100 miler but it sounds totally sane to me. I really enjoyed the article. Here is my favorite quote from the post:

Happiness is a long run.

Ultimately, the “Why” of a 100-mile run, whether one is a race director, volunteer, runner, crew, or pacer is distilled down to one thing: happiness.

I’m not talking about the things we do for short-term, momentary happiness, like indulging in an ice cream cone on a perfect summer afternoon, or purchasing a new outfit when feeling blue.

Rather, I’m talking about the state of happiness which stems from doing the things which contribute to a life of meaning and purpose.  It is a happiness built on Aristotelian ideals of belonging and benefiting others, flourishing, thriving, and exercising excellence.  This state of happiness emerges from being connected to something bigger:

  • A grander vision of one’s self;
  • A wider community of friends and family;
  • A monumental effort which supports a cause.

Excerpt from Happiness is a 100-Mile Run

In other news...

Professionally in the my day job this month, it was the best ever as well. My job is to recruit the Navy's future officers who will lead sailors well into the future. From aviators to intel officers to Navy SEAL candidates, I spoke to them all this month. Enlisting in the Navy can be done within a few weeks. For an officer candidate, though, it can extend to an entire year. It's a long drawn out process and is very, very competitive. Finding the right fit of a person is an "art" and navigating the process to take care of the candidate while also representing the Navy can be tricky but it's something I absolutely love and thrive in. Here in a few days, I'll celebrate 1 year onboard as Navy Officer Recruiter and will soon pass 17 years of service. There is no doubt, I have loved my years in the Navy and I can't imagine doing anything else right now.

So Day 43, it's a wrap. Tomorrow will be August 1st and day 44...just another day in my Brooks looking down the open road. Birds singing, the sun rising over the horizon, my heart beating, sweat pouring... The run doesn't define me nor is it a (g)od in my life. It is, though, something that challenges me, keeps me honest with my mortality and who I am, and gets me away from the confines of my home, the e-mail inbox, and a sedentary life. I feel blessed to be able to keep putting one foot in front of the other, without injury, and continuing to find joy with each step.

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