"Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is always tired in the morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.”

- George S. Patton, U.S. Army General, 1912 Olympian

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Nike Human Race 10k Recap

In case you missed it, yesterday was dubbed "The Day the World Runs" by Nike. In short, they want as many people using their Nike+ gear to run a 10k on that day and upload the data for a sort of world-wide race. Last year had something like 780,000 participants around the world. They encourage you to run a 10k wherever you happen to be if you're not anywhere near one of their official race locations. Kind of cool I guess.

Portland happened to be one of the official locations, so at 6:15 on a Saturday morning, my parents and I made the trek up to Niketown, where the race would begin. Walking into the store we were treated to a spread of food (I'll take some after the run, thanks though) and a free Nike Dri-fit shirt. Around 8am the guy in charge gathered everyone around the store, gave some final directions and sent us out the door.

Because we were all on our own to start and finish, there was no official "Go!" but after a few moments of everyone looking at each other, wondering who would be the first to leave, one lady finally did. And we all took off after her.

I haven't spent too much time around downtown Portland in the daytime (mostly just heading home at night after a Blazer game), but running towards the river and then over the Hawthorne Bridge was pretty cool. The river was calm, the air crisp, not a lot of cars or other people around. Very quiet for being in the middle of a big city.

The course was an out and back and after crossing the river and running along side of it for a mile or so, we eventually got onto the Springwater Corridor trail. About halfway across the river I noticed I was running behind a guy running at a pretty good pace. A much faster pace than I wanted to run. I had even told myself over and over again not to get caught up in the excitement of a race and get out too quickly. Something was different on this run though. I felt good. My legs weren't sore or tired and so I decided to stay on this guy's heels and not let him get away.

We passed the 1 mile mark at 7:00. Way too fast, but I was still within 5 feet of him. Then the 2 mile mark at 14:30. Still way too fast I kept thinking. But as long as I was looking at the bottom of his shoes, I'd be alright. We made the turn at the 5k point at about 22:20 at which point two things happened: 1) I took the 180 degree turn a little bit more slowly (read: carefully) than he did and 2) I fumbled around with the water bottle in my hand for a few seconds trying to get a drink. When I looked back up, my pacer was 25 yards ahead of me.

I spent the next mile trying to make up the distance, but his pace alone was taking everything I had, much less running even faster to make up the distance. He eventually pulled ahead a little bit more and by the 4.5 mile mark I was alone. No one behind me, this guy now 100 yards in front of me.

And then, for a mile or so, I lost my focus. I started looking around, wondering how far it was until the bridge, checking over my shoulder to see if anyone else was coming up on me. All things that caused my pace to drop significantly back to my normal 8:15-8:30 pace I can run in my sleep.

I caught myself doing this at about the 5.25 mile mark and refocused for the last mile. As I crossed the finish line at 45:08, I was pretty pumped at the over all pace. And yet, I wondered, could I have done it in 44 minutes or less? I figure that's about what I lost in the mile I lost focus. Maybe another day. For this day though, 45:08 falls under the "Race of my life" category.

A quick turnaround this week for the Run Like Hell! Bend half-marathon on October 31st. Should be interesting. Bend is over the mountains about about 3500 feet elevation (I live at about 150). The forecast could be anything from sunny and 50 degrees, to snowy and 28. Less than 3 days out and there's still no firm idea of what we'll be running in.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

It is with sadness that I announce....

Th rain is here. At least for the next 10 days. And that just as far as weather.com projects. Every single day: Showers. Showers. Showers. Showers etc. etc. etc. And it will probably be that way for another 180 days after that, as it often is here in the Willamette Valley. I resigned myself to this on Friday, and took full advantage of it on my 13.3 mile run Saturday morning run (to be addressed later). My intentions yesterday were to finish the recovery process from Saturday, get the lawn mowed, the garden harvested and taken down for the winter, the raspberry bushes trimmed back, pull a few weeds, pretty much all of the things I hate to do in the rain.

In the waning hours of the afternoon, as the clouds began to roll in and the temperature began to drop there I was, pruning my raspberry bushes (delicious, by the way- very pleased with how they grew in their first year) when a lady in full workout gear ran by. Content to take the day off for recovery, I didn't think much of it until I saw the huge rain cloud crawling over the hills to the west. The rain was coming. It would be here before morning.

It wasn't two minutes before I was in the house throwing on my gear, looking to my wife for the OK (she was getting ready to feed the kids dinner--I think) and sprinting out the door. The road was calling my name.

I started way too fast, but I knew I was only going to go 2.5-3 miles so I didn't care. My legs burned. My lungs were on fire. I was sweating profusely and getting cold at the same time. And it was awesome.

4 months ago I decided my goals for the 2.6 mile 4th of July fun run were a) don't finish last in my family (sorry Courtney) and b) don't puke at the finish line Since then something very strange has happened: I love to run. Strange things indeed...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Have I done any good?

At work the same FedEx delivery guy delivers and picks up packages almost every day. A few times, he's stopped in as I've been gearing up to go for a run and so we've talked briefly about what race I'm getting ready for or other various things. He used to run and then stopped. And then got into biking and then stopped. As I was preparing for Champoeg he mentioned one day that his brother runs ultra-marathons, and having just finished Born to Run I was pretty interested.

As he made his delivery yesterday, he says out of the blue, "you've inspired me to start running again. I ran 3 miles yesterday. I hated every step of it, but felt good when I got done. I'm going to keep doing it."

Have I done any good in the world today? Perhaps.

At the very least, maybe my FedEx packages will arrive a few minutes faster.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Recovery Time

It's now been two weeks since the Champoeg Half-Marathon. The recovery process has been a new experience for me. As I think I mentioned in the recap post, later on in the day after the race I felt completely drained of energy, nutrition, mental energy, everything. Sunday was a bit better and by Monday morning I was ready to go again. Mentally. Physically, not so much.

I finally ventured out for a short 3-mile run on Wednesday night. The first two miles were miserable. My knees and shins ached and I felt like I was wearing lead pants, my legs felt so heavy. I iced a few joints and mucles that night and felt alright by the time I bed. The next day I ran 8 miles (more on this run in a separate post), but still didn't feel quite right physically.

I didn't actually run again until Wednesday of this week, when I did a 5-miler from my office back to my house. I can't put my finger on it exactly, but something feels different. I don't know if my form is different or what it is, but even on short runs, by the time I'm done my calves feel like they are going to explode and I spend the rest of the day and next morning gingerly walking around. This wasn't something I had experienced prior to Champoeg. So I'm monitoring it. Lots of icing. Lots of stretching.

Nutritionally, I've been craving fats, oils and proteins the last two weeks. Three things I didn't care for or like to have much of in my system prior to Champoeg. This has resulted in more eggs, cheese, nuts and seeds being consumed and less pasta and fruit. I don't expect this to last too long, but it makes sense to me that my body is asking for these things as part of a rebuilding process.

So what to do now? June is still a LONG time away it seems like. An entire rainey-windy-miserable Oregon winter away, in fact. I knew I had a problem when I struggled to find motivation to go run last week (the day I ran the 8 miles actually). Once I was out and going I was fine. I've got to find some way to keep my runs interesting (new routes? shorter speed runs? hills?) and effective. They need to have some purpose. I'm working on changing things up a bit, knowing that the more options and variety I have, the quicker the winter will go by. I have to find something to push me, something kicking my butt out the door even if the weather sucks. I need some new challenge as the next step towards ultimately running the marathon in June.

Of course, there's always the Run Like Hell half-marathon in Bend on October 31st...