Saturday, November 22, 2008

Run, Even When It Hurts

The alarm clock went off at 4:30 in the morning. Woke up got out of bed, went to my office to look at the outside temperature and all I could see was the # "1". Didn't bother to see what the second digit was, could have been 11, could have been 19. Didn't really matter. Went back to bed and reset the alarm for 6:30. At least at this time the sun would be out, not that I thought it would make a difference with the temperature, but it sure was nice stealing those extra two hours.

At 6:30am the thermometer read a frigid 20 degrees. That seemed more manageable, I thought. Put on the coffee and dropped a bagel in the toaster. Got dressed, eat my bagel and drank a cup of coffee, stretched and off I went... It was now somewhere around 7am and the temperature was 22 degrees.

So how cold was it? Just to tell you that as I left the house our two Siberian Huskies just lifted their head and halfway looked at me with that "Are You Crazy" look and went back to sleep.

It was a cool, crisp, beautiful morning. It didn't feel as cold as I thought it would. I have done my homework and purchased the right kind of clothing for this weather. Only discomfort was on my fingers, but they too felt great after a couple of miles. I was wearing ear covers with no hat and for a bit I wonder if maybe I should let my hair grow, but just for a very brief moment. That as well, took care of itself in no time. I was off to a good start, it's going to be a great run.

It was somewhere on mile seven that things headed south. Well, at least that's how it seemed at that moment. I was on pace and on track to run a sub 2 hour 13 mile when my right foot stepped on top of a rock of boulder proportions. Really, it was thaaaat big. And down I went. In that millisecond between the time when I knew I was going down to the time when I went down 423 thoughts came through my mind. Most of them had to do with how silly I must look to anyone looking, to will I still be able to run in Memphis on December 6th, to my ankle, my hands, my elbows, knees and back. But the dominating thought that seemed to take over was just one that wondered if I had ruined my new running clothes.

As I lay on my back I began to take inventory. Back felt good, no damage there. Ankle a little sore but not broken, thank God. Right elbow somewhat sore, left one okay. Left knee check, right knee hurt. And the hands, oh the palm of my hands. The right one was aching a lot, the left one was hurting bad. It took the bulk of the force as I landed. I got up and started walking slowly just to make sure. At this point the right knee and both palms were in pain, severe pain. I was just a mile or so from where my wife was exercising so I thought that maybe I could make it there and get a ride home with her.

I picked up the pace and much to my surprise everything felt good. Just my hands, they were in serious pain. So I decided to try to finish my run. The further I got the better I felt and in just a mile or so, the pain was gone. Amazing thing adrenaline does. I finished the 13 miles in 2 hours and 7 minutes.

My wife got home and saw my wounds and after she asked how I was she told me to be ready for the pain to show up. I knew that. I knew that after the body cooled down all the aches and pains of the fall would surface. And boy did they ever. A friend has told me to be proud of my war wounds and that, I am. It's a great story to be able to tell.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Balancing Act

The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind. No opportunity to keep a schedule, lots of reasons to try. The date of my next event, the Memphis / St Jude Children's Research Hospital Half Marathon, on December 6th will be here in just 20 short days, the time to train has to be found, no matter what the conditions or circumstances.

I have limited the scope of entries to this blog to be running/swimming/biking/triathlon/training related. I will continue as such, exercising editorial rights to slightly veer off on occasions as non related events deem it necessary to do so. Well, in so much that these events affect the focus of the topic at hand.

Two weeks ago, the Belmont University Women's Soccer Team traveled to Kennessaw, GA to participate in the A-Sun Conference Tournament as the #3 seed. As most of my regular readers are well aware, my younger daughter Marcela, is a member of this team. Hopes were high for a good showing and their sights were set on the Championship. It was obvious that a trip to support the team was a must. So we did.

At the same time my responsibility to my employer and my customers could not be compromised, so a plan to accommodate everything had to be drawn. The scheduling Gods saw it in our favor because the games where played at times that allowed us to make the trip and be back to work without missing a beat. Three trips were needed to secure the trophy, three trips we made. No regrets.

Additionally, time had to be found to get in a workout or two. Time to do the week's long run and most of the in-between sessions as well.

Then by virtue of a Championship at the A-Sun Tournament, the team earned a spot in the NCAA tournament, the "big dance", if you will. This game was played last night in Auburn, AL, which meant another five hours and change, one way trip... and back to support the Bruins. And that we did as well.

In the middle of all this, I guess I was not running fast enough because the bug that everyone was shaking caught up with me and for a couple of days it would not let go, but it finally did and I was glad.

Today should have been my 10 mile long run day. Today I chose to rest and relax. Today I took the time to listen to my body tell me to slow down for a step and just take a deep breath. Tomorrow, however, is a brand new day. Tomorrow the road awaits me and the 10 miles will be done.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

How safe can running be?

I was a bit alarmed by the news that yet another marathoner died shorty after completing the New York City Marathon on November 2, 2008 and if I read the news correctly there were two other cases of heart attacks during the race.

The alarm bell went off because I have not been running my entire life, I am a late bloomer - per se. It has only been since 2003 that I laced up my shoes and hit the road. Up until then I led pretty much a sedentary life. At that time I was already 49 years young...WOW... has it been five years already!

As luck would have it, the December (2008) issue of Runner's World had arrived just a few days ago and it has a very informative article called "Are Marathons Dangerous? The Truth Behind the Scary Headlines". I sat down and read the entire article, it put things into perspective.

I was reminded that in sports, as in life, there are no guarantees. We can, however, improve the odds in our favor. And that's what we accomplish when we run. And swim, and bike... and repeat.

What is really important is that we train and compete smart and be fully informed. We must learn to push when able to, slow down when need to and stop when we have to.

I for one like my chances a whole lot better now that I exercise the way I do. I know that my overall health is much better for it. I am thirty pounds lighter, my cholesterol is in check, my blood pressure is perfect, my attitude has changed and my outlook has improved. What else can I ask for? I plan on doing a treadmill test sometime in the near future just to make sure all's well. I have no shortness of breath and I can last longer and run farther.

There's history of diabetes in my family and the doctor tells me I'm doing all the right things. Exercising has also been proven to be a factor in preventing dementia and Alzheimer's, this is great news, 'cause I'd like to be able to enjoy my grandson for many, many years to come.

The one and only ailment I have not been able to cure with running or biking or swimming is my back pain. The funny thing is that I am totally pain free while in exercise mode! Go figure, the doctor can't explain. I have learned to manage the pain with stretching... gotta get back to the yoga mat, I really miss this.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Wounded Warrior Project

I received an email yesterday afternoon from a friend that he had received from Senator Bob Corker's office. It spelled out the details for next Saturday's ride to raise awareness to the "Wounded Warrior Project".
I had never heard of this and upon further research I was very glad that my friend had thought enough of me to bring me into the loop.
To learn more about the "Wounded Warrior Project" visit their website. There's an events page that'll show in a calendar where you can participate.
This Saturday's Soldier Ride will be held in Franklin, TN at 9am. The ride will be about 25 miles long starting at the Vaughn Road entrance to Edwin Warner Park. It will go through scenic Williamson County along the Old Natchez Trace and Del Rio Pike and the into Franklin's Jim Warren Park, and back. Similar rides will be held in Little Rock and Memphis.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

First Times

As I have mentioned in prior posts, one of the advantages of this new-found lifestyle is that there's a first time for this and a first time for that. At every turn and with every step, it seems like firsts just keep coming my way.

There was the first time I decided to register for a race. That was some three years ago. The decision was made to participate in the Music City Half Marathon so online I went and register I did. This brought some sense of commitment and purpose to my running.

Then there was the first time I ran past five miles in a single run. I remember that to me this was a huge milestone. Then there were 6 miles, then 7, 8, 9 and then 10! I remember the day I ran those first ten miles in a single run. Can't remember the time, can only remember the feeling. Then, according to my plan, I had to push the envelope to 11 and this was just a week before the half.

The first time I picked up my registration packet was surreal. Couldn't believe that I was actually doing this. Getting the timing chip made me feel, I had arrived. Walking through the fitness expo that day, amongst hundreds of other runners looking like I was lost, was fun and exciting.

Then was the first race itself. Arriving at the site and watching the crowd grow to 30 thousand plus. Amazing. Finding my corral and waiting for the starting gun, unbelievable. The waiting our turn to go through the starting gate, to have the mat read our chip meant that I was at the beginning of my first race.

Two hours and thirty one minutes later I made it to the finish line for the first time. I'm not even sure I can begin to explain how that felt.

Over the following two years I ran my first 5k, my first 10k, my first 10 miles. Bought my first road bike, entered and finished my first triathlon, swam in open water for the first time. I rode my first organized bike ride, all 66 miles of it.

Just recently I made the decision to continue training during the winter months and took keep me honest, I've registered for two half marathons that will be firsts for me; Memphis and Tampa. But training and competing in the winter time will bring a whole new set of challenges, mostly dealing with the weather, the cold weather, the very, very cold weather.

I set out this week to prepare myself for today's long run. The weather lady predicted high 30's for the time I planned to start. Brrrr. Looking through my training gear I realized that cold weather training gear I did not have. Well sort of. I did have gloves, ear covers, a long sleeve running shirt with a running jacket that would do for now. But the legs, oh the legs would be cold and that would be a problem. But that was soon resolved as I purchased a pair of running tights. Never thought I would be wearing, let alone be writing about, wearing tights, but I did and I was glad I did. The first long run in cold weather was very comfortable and as an added bonus, my knees didn't hurt.

I'm looking forward to be able to sit in front of this computer often to report on future firsts. My first sub 2-hour half, my first full marathon, my first Olympic distance triathlon, my first 100 mile bike ride and my ultimate first... 70.3