Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Of Dogs and Ducks

I'm coming down from the spring marathon high I've been on for the last few weeks. It's somewhat comforting to know that I don't have another marathon until the fall. But then again, it's also somewhat depressing. It's been my focus for so long now that I feel a little blurry without a near-term goal. I would like to say that I will now take a few weeks off to rest my leg which has been hurting since December but I think we know each other better than that. I do want to take some time off but am not sure how to do it.

I have a Dachshund. I think I've said that before. Well we found out about a documentary about Dachschund racing that was showing at the Oklahoma City Art museum and just had to go. I mean look at that picture! It's so cute! OMG it was awesome! Sooo funny to see these people taking their little dogs so serious. It was a riot.

While I was leaving the theater I saw a duck nesting on the sidewalk in downtown OKC. At first I thought that was weird, then I realized that the poor thing was homeless and living on the streets. I think this is a sign of just how bad things have gotten, homeless ducks living on the mean streets of Oklahoma City. Maybe we should start a charity...

Thanks for listening

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Things Willie Learned Today

1. Heat Hurts
2. Running in the heat hurts bad
3. Running 26.2 miles in the heat hurts REALLY bad
4. Hitting the wall at mile 9 of a marathon is demoralizing
5. Finishing a marathon after hitting the wall at mile 9 feels REALLY good
6. I have wonderful, wonderful friends who skip movies to wait at the finish to make sure I'm OK
7. I have wonderful, wonderful friends who call me before a race just to say HI.
8. It's good to have wonderful, wonderful friends
9. Your time in a marathon doesn't tell the whole story. It's only a small piece of the story.
10. Mostly I learned that Willie is human. Willie has limits. Willie reached a limit today.

Marathoning is hard. I think I had forgotten that in the last few weeks. I have written before about my love for the marathon coming from the fact that many things go into making a good marathon and so many more things can make one go wrong. Well today I was reminded of that. Today I was reminded of how hard running a marathon is, and how proud we should all be for having done it. My PR at the OKC marathon clouded this view and a higher power decided that I needed to be humbled a little. It hurt, but I love it.

I ran the Andy Payne (fitting) marathon this morning. When I stepped out the door at 5:00 A.M. it was 78 degrees and 60-70% humidity. It didn't get any better. I started slow because I was afraid of the heat but by mile 9 I knew it was over. I had to let my running partner (Reese) go and walk. I WALKED AT MILE 9 OF A MARATHON! I cannot express to you how low I felt at that point. I had so many miles to go and I just couldn't run another step.

SIDEBAR: The Andy Payne marathon is run around Lake Overholser in SouthWestern OKC. It is a 3 lap race. That's right, you run around that d$#@n$ lake 3 times! Mile 9 is the end of the first lap. I had 2 more to go...

During the race I went through stages where I was sweating heavily and times when I didn't sweat at all and every hair on my body was standing on end. I was thirsty, then sick to my stomach from drinking too much. I repeated the above cycles many times. I could not stay hydrated. IT WAS HOT! I know, I know, "Willie, you love the heat...". Well today I didn't and I think it was more the humidity than the heat. I just couldn't cool off and couldn't find a comfortable stride.

After mile 9 I decided on a run 2 walk 1 strategy. I figured this was my only hope of finishing this race. That worked for most of the next lap and got me to mile 18. I refused to look at my Garmin. I quickly got over my anger with my projected time and realized that I love doing this. Even in these tough conditions, I love running marathons. So how could I be upset with a slow time? I was out at a beautiful lake, it was sunny (i.e. I was tanning my flab), and I was doing something I love. Screw the time, I'm just going to finish this race and not hang my head! By God, I'm a marathoner and it doesn't matter if I run 10 hours or 3:39, I'm still a marathoner and who cares what others may think.

Ok now back to the task at hand. EVERYTHING hurt on the last lap. I was dying of thirst and no matter how much I drank I couldn't get satisfied. My feet were forming blisters everywhere because I wasn't running my normal stride I was shuffling. My back ached because I was hunched over with my head hanging. I wasn't wearing a shirt and I knew I was burning from the sun. I only managed to run about a 1/2 mile at a time on that last lap. I could walk pretty fast though. I was keeping it under 13 minute/mile when I was walking. I met a new friend from
Tulsa as we walked together for most of the last lap. He was really struggling with the heat also. "brutal" was the word that kept coming to our lips. It was brutal. Brutal in every sense of the word. The temperature was well over 85 by then and the humidity hadn't dropped much. The only relief was a South breeze that kicked your butt going into it and was washed out by the trees when it was at your back. Thanks to whoever decided to run that direction around the lake, thanks.

I made it to mile 22 and decided that I should try to run the rest of the way in. So I did. It wasn't much of a run, but it was running. My son found me at mile 25 and ran with me to the finish. I couldn't say much to him and I think he realized that Dad was hurting beyond anything he had ever seen so he kept quiet also. It was WONDERFUL having him run with me. I couldn't tell him that but I loved that he was there. There was a water stop about 1/2 mile from the finish line. I stopped and drank. Kinda funny now, but at the time I was thirsty and didn't care that the finish line was in sight. I wanted a drink and a walk break. I shuffled across the finish line in 4:27. My worst marathon yet but in some ways it was the best. I think I learned more about myself and my limits in this one than I did in my best one.

That is important. I'm ?? years old and I am still learning new things about myself. I hope I never stop.
Your (and my) life are gifts, we are given this wonderful thing that has so much potential and it's a shame to go through life thinking you know everything you need to know. This body I have can do so much more than I think it can and I want to explore it's potential until I am worm-food. I never knew my potential for love until I had children, I never knew my potential for joy until I had some really good friends, I never knew my potential for success until I overcame my fears, I never knew my potential for pain until I ran a marathon. These are just small slivers of light shining through the keyhole. So much more awaits if I (we) have the courage to push through the door.

Thank you Andy Payne.

After the race I discovered that I placed 2nd in my age group and got a great trophy. It was a nice end to a roller-coaster race.

Thanks for listening

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The higher they soar, the farther they fall

After the race on Saturday we were invited out to a concert in Bricktown. Bricktown is the downtown area of Oklahoma City where there are restaurants, bars, a river walk, the ballpark, and much much more. It is a wonderful area and I finally got to enjoy it this weekend. The concert was outside in a parking lot that a local bar had fenced off. They had a full stage and, of course, a beer garden. I drank way too much Whiskey and beer but got to hear Cross Canadian Ragweed and the Randy Rogers band play live. I HAD A BALL!! It was the best night out I have had in a long time. I still have songs in my head and my foot is still tapping from the dancing. All in all a wonderful evening and I am so grateful to our new friends who invited us out. 

Well as you can imagine the wonderful evening led to a not-so-good morning, afternoon, and evening. I wasn't hung over but I was really feeling down all day. My father flew into town on Sunday so I had to pick him up at the airport. It was wonderful to see him but it didn't help my mood. It intrigued me to have such extremes of emotions within a few hours of each other, so high up and so far down. Interesting.

Needless to say, I didn't run Sunday. Monday dawned bright and sunny and brought with it a new day and a new Willie. Summer has finally arrived in Oklahoma and I LOVE it! Sorry Southbay girl but when the temperature gets over 90, Willie gets excited about running in the heat. So Monday evening I laced up my shoes, left the shirt at home and ran in beautiful 89 degree sunshine. It was heaven. My winter white flab was glistening in all it's Franco-German glory but I didn't care. Soon it will turn a nice shade of, well, not much of a shade, but somewhat less glistening white and fat always looks better tanned. I ran just 3 miles around the block but because of the heat I felt like I had run another 10. It was wonderful.

Tonight I ran with My Hero's boyfriend again. We had a nice easy run and it was great to have company. He and I have many of the same ideas about running and, although he doesn't look it, we are about the same age. 

I am still planning on running the Andy Payne marathon this Sunday but I have to admit that doubt has worked it's way into my mind. My new Brooks infinity's (holy crap I haven't written about my new shoes! What's wrong with me!) aren't really broken in yet and they are giving my calf's some troubles.
I expect some issues with my body acclimating to new shoes but these shoes are really giving my legs some serious rejection 
issues. They are much softer than my GTS 8's so I am sinking lower with each step which stretches my calf's more. I think the extra softness will be good in the long run but I have to make it through the initial growing pains first. My legs are still feeling tired from the 1/2 so we'll have to see how the next few days go.

Guess what I get to do all day tomorrow?? Go ahead, guess... I get (have) to do interviews! I know, holy crap, right??!? I'm lucky to even have a job myself, let alone determine if someone else is qualified/a-good-fit for a job. I had to go buy a suit tonight since I gave my last one away when I realized that engineering was my profession and not the law (long story). I picked a cool black pin-striped by some guy named J. Ferrar. He makes good suits but he REALLY likes himself considering he put his name on every inch of the inside of the suit. I thought about a Claiborne suit since it would be nicer to have a women's name all over me but worried that I may mistakenly buy a women's suit (very funning it you have seen The Office episode). Anyway, back to the interviewing, Holy crap, young minds of mush right out of college are going to sit in front of me tomorrow and think that I know what I'm doing. They are soooo screwed! My boss says I have to behave myself and try to act professional. I asked why he invited me then??? Stay tuned because I expect some really great, Willie-sticks-his-foot-in-his-mouth stories tomorrow night. 

Thanks for listening

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Been away for awhile

So I've been away from my blog for awhile and I've missed it. After last weekend's excitement I've just been trying to find some relaxation this week. I failed miserably. Work has been really busy and stressful and it seems I can't get to bed before 10 P.M. no matter how hard I try. Yes, it's true, Willie is NOT a night owl. If I'm not in bed by 9 on a school night I just never seem to be at my best. 

I ran my normal schedule, Tuesday easy run and Thursday tempo run. I did both with My Hero's boyfriend. He is such a nice guy and he is just beginning to run. Tuesday we did about 5 miles around Lake Hefner at a nice easy pace. I was really tired and had to walk a little but that is to be expected when I run in the evening after work. Thursday we did a tempo run around Mitch park which is a nice little park with some trails on rolling hills near my house. He had never done a tempo run before so I struggled to pick a pace that was good for both he and I. It was a good run but afterwards he said that he was actually running his 5K race pace so it was a little fast. I was afraid I broke him. I hate it when you get a new toy and you break it soon after you bring it home! It's just like me to get a new friend and ruin it soon after. Actually he's fine, I saw him today and he is still speaking to me so this is a good sign.

Today I ran the Sooner State Games 1/2 marathon. I was playing hooky from the Landrunners club series races because they were all at the Gusher Gallop 5K. This means I am loosing some series points but it's worth it. I HATE 5K's! They are way to short and I just plain suck at them. I just don't seem to have what it takes for a short race. I have worked hard to establish pace running and that just doesn't work at a 5K. I am just getting into my good pace when the race is ending! I HAVE A NEED FOR SPEED, because I don't have any! 

So I skipped the series race and ran the 1/2 marathon instead. There weren't many people at the race probably because everyone was at the 5K. I hadn't run a 1/2 since Tulsa last year when I ran a 1:40 so I didn't know what to expect today. My Hero was there so I decided to pace her for the early portion of the race and see where that left me. My normal race strategy is to go out easy and pick it up as the race progresses. Well today I changed that. I went out WAY to hard and paid a price for it later. I ran the first couple miles at 7:15 pace and eventually slowed to a consistent pace of about 7:23. I didn't really struggle until about 6 miles where I took a GU pack which I thought would bring me back to life and get me home. It didn't. I forgot to buy my E-Gel yesterday so I had to make a mad dash to a chain store last night to get some gel. They didn't have E-Gel! Ugghh! I bought some no-caffeine GU and hoped it would work out. It didn't. I took that GU pack and felt no different. That left me to struggle through the last 6 miles on my own. At the turn-around, though, I noticed that I was running 3rd overall for the men (My Hero was ahead of me but she was the first women)!!!! Holy crap, I thought, this isn't right! So I tried to keep my pace up but could only manage some 7:30's on the way back. At mile 9 I heard footsteps. This was not good. I was really struggling and now I had someone racing me for my first ever overall award chance. There was nothing I could do, I wimped out and he passed me. If I had anything left in me that took it all out and I crashed hard. The last couple miles I was light-headed and barely managing to hold an 8:00 pace. Luckily that pace was enough to hold onto  4th for the men, 5th overall. I ran a 1:38:55 which is a PR for me but I was not happy with the race. I ran stupidly. I did learn a lesson however, no more fast starts for Willie. 

I didn't get an overall medal but I did win my age group. I actually won 2 age groups! The race organizers transposed my age on the official results so I had to explain to them that I was not in my fifties when they gave out awards. It took more convincing than I care to admit! Do I really look that old? What the crap?? So anyway, they eventually found the error and gave me my age group medal. Later, however, one of my friends, who is in 50 year old division came running over to me saying they still had me down as winning the 50 year old division. He had actually won it and they wouldn't give him his medal. I had to once again go explain that I was NOT IN MY 50'S FOR GOODNESS SAKES! Very depressing...

Next week is the Andy Payne marathon. I'm concerned. The race today was really hard on me and I don't know if I will be able to rest enough to be ready for a marathon in a week. We'll just have to see how this week goes.

Thanks for listening

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Excuses excuses...

It wasn't that I drank too much, it was that I stayed up too late, honest. So I was planning to run 18 miles with the Big Dogs on Saturday and I knew that my wife had a party planned for Friday night with her friends from the Master degree program but I thought I could somehow do both. My plan was to party a little and then hit the sack since I didn't know anyone at the party anyway. 

I was able to stay on plan for a long time, even with a house full of wonderful drinks and food. I kept my drinks to 3 and my food intake to only apples and vegetables. Everything was going according to plan. Until someone brought out the Karaoke machine. I'm not a big fan of Karaoke since I have a voice that ranges from a dying rabbit to a shrieking hyena but I sang a song and then made my plan to escape to the bedroom which I did shortly thereafter. It was 11:30, no problem, plenty of time to sleep and be up by 6 for 18 miles. I lay my head down on the pillow and was immediately surprised at how much a pillow can amplify the bass of a Karaoke machine. Gee that's weird, it seems louder in here than it did in the living room?? Oh well, no problem, I have slept in the back of trucks parked next to running jet engines before, certainly I can sleep through this. 12:30, 1:30, 2 A.M.... Alright if I get in the closet maybe I can get the volume down to a low roar. 3:30, 4 A.M... Now I'm officially screwed. The party is winding down but I'm drained and still can't sleep. No way I'm making it out for a run in 2 hours. 

I finally fell asleep and slept until 6 A.M. when I got up and actually got my running gear on. When I stopped near the front door, however, and bent down to tie my shoes I almost fell back to sleep while standing up. This is not going to happen, running clothes off, pajamas back on and into the bed I went until nearly 10 A.M. when I woke up again still tired! This day is going to be a waste. 

I relaxed most of the day, still feeling tired, until the time came to head downtown for the Bricktown Blaze 5K. It was hot, maybe 80 degrees, and the wind was really kicking (I say that a lot don't I?). I made it downtown and registered for the race and then met up with the Big Dogs from the running club who commenced to giving me a load of crap for standing them up. It was actually nice to be missed and I got to hear all the cool stories from the run. I must say that the running club adds so much to my running just in terms of having someone missing you when you don't show up for a run. In the past if I missed a run no one knew but me. Now I have others holding me responsible for my running, I like it. 

I have never run the Bricktown Blaze before. It is a 5K run that supports Limbs for Life which provides prosthetic limbs for people who need them. It sounds like a great organization and they told me that all the money they raise through the Bricktown Blaze stays here in Oklahoma and will provide 15 patients with prosthetics. It's an afternoon race that ends in the local AAA baseball stadium just before the start of a game. It was really cool to run into the stadium and finish on home plate. I ran good considering I was still tired from being up all night and finished in 21:16. The really cool part came when I checked the results and saw the I WON MY AGE GROUP! Wow! I was shocked. I got a baseball which my son will probably loose in the back yard but it's still pretty cool. 

I remember when I could stay up all night partying and not even feel any effects. Now it takes me an entire day to recover from just staying up all night, not even partying! Age sucks. 

I found out there is a 1/2 marathon next weekend for the Sooner State Games. I am planning to run it since I love 1/2's and it's a local race. I am considering running the Andy Payne marathon the week after that but am still on the fence about that one. I feel like I could do it but am not sure if it is smart to run another marathon this soon. 

B.T.W. check out Running Through Time for a really good race report from the Flying Pigs marathon by Reese. He's a fellow OKC Landrunner and really great guy. You'll be glad you did.

Thanks for listening

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Comedy, Hills, and Ice Oh My!

I spent most of this week out of town for work. I was able to get some fun in though. My buddy and I found out that the Bob and Tom Comedy All-Stars were scheduled for a make-up show in Ithaca last Sunday so we jumped on a flight a day early and caught the show. Oh my goodness it was funny! Holy crap I was rolling in the aisle. AND they served BEER! I'm partial to Whiskey myself, but comedy and beer just seem to go together. If the show comes to your town and you get the chance you should go.
All in all it was a good week of work. I got to see some old friends and got caught up on all the gossip that goes on in a big company. I'm beginning to think that the best part of these trips is the gossip I get to hear! Being away from the main plant, we don't hear much of what goes on. In some ways it's become my own little soap opera that I get to watch but not be involved in. Is enjoying soap operas a sign of getting old? I suppose it is.
I was looking forward to getting some good hill workouts in the great state of New York and I wasn't disappointed. I have a very good friend up there that I always run with and he took me out again on some of our favorite hills. The picture is of the steepest part of the hill we ran (and my buddies butt sorry about that!). The picture doesn't do it justice. That mother is steep, and oh, did I mention it comes after about a mile of another hill? Yes it is one brutal hill but I love it.
My buddy and I aren't really good for each other when it comes to running. We silently push each other. You know what I mean? I've had these kind of running partners before. We both start out easy but before long the pace is fast and each person thinks the other picked it up! On this particular run, my buddy said that we should only run to the top of the first hill and skip the last part which is the one in the picture. I mentioned that that sounded good to me. Well, when we got to the hill neither of us turned on the road that leads away from the last part. I don't know if the silence was because neither of us wanted to admit that we didn't want to run the hill or if we just couldn't catch our breath after the first hill. As we neared the hill I jokingly said, "So I guess we're running the hill?". He said, "I guess so, how 'bout just half way up?". "Great", I said. Yea, OK, so when we got to the TOP I was too tired to ask what the heck happened to "just half way"! We did 8 miles total and it felt pretty good. I got one more picture from the top of the mountain.

I flew home today and got a nap and a 6 mile tempo run in when I got home.
Ice Bath and Me
I mentioned that I was finally able to get in an ice bath after the OKC marathon this year. It helped so much that I am now trying to get in them after all my hard runs. Now that it is getting warmer here in the Midwest it is much easier to convince my ever-resistant body to get into a freezing cold bath. The key, I've learned, is to keep breathing. I noticed that I was holding my breathe when I was slowly lowering my legs and body into the bath. I caught this tonight and tried to keep breathing and it was much easier. I'm sure you all were very interested to here this but, hey, it was a major accomplishment in my life! OMG that's so sad, what a depressing little life I lead, let's change the subject.
I got home tonight and learned that the running club Big Dogs want to run 18 miles on Saturday morning. Then that evening is the Bricktown Blaze 5K. That is really cool race where you finish at home plate of the local AAA baseball park. Then you get a ticket to the game which starts right after the race. Sounds really fun but Willie may be a shriveled pile of carbon-based material by the time this weekend ends. Wish me luck.
Thanks for listening

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Running with the Big Dogs!

So I took the WHOLE week off from running. That's pretty good right? I was planning to run Thursday night but didn't make it, I ate greasy pizza instead. Then I was going to run Friday when I got home from work early but I didn't make it then either, I took a nap instead. So really it was one big lazy Willie week.

I had posted a note on the Landrunners forum asking if anyone wanted to keep doing long runs together on the weekends. I received many replies and we all agreed that we wanted to run the trail between two local lakes here in the Greater Oklahoma City area. It's about 7 miles between the lakes and you can run longer if you run around the lakes. I had never done it so I was excited about running something new.

When I awoke this morning and stepped out on my back deck it was not very cold so I dressed in shorts and a t-shirt. When I got to the lake it was VERY windy and COLD! What the crap? I didn't bring gloves and really wanted them. The only saving grace was that it was sunny so as long as we stayed in the sun it was bearable.

I wasn't sure who would show up today. I only knew a few of the people who replied on the forum and one of my good friends had called me and said he would be there. Well I ended up running with My Hero, another of the top runners in the club, we'll call him The Rabbit, and my friend. These are the people I only saw from behind during the training runs. This was the group I had always hoped to be part of one day. I got my chance today! Another goal achieved for Willie. Of course, they ran the crap out of me! I was glad I hadn't run this week. We did 14 miles and I bet we averaged under 8 minutes/mile. I had some pain at the turnaround but luckily it went away. I had these visions of me dropping out of my first run with the Big Dogs. They were not good visions and I'm glad I didn't have to make them reality. I ran comfortably for the most part and I wasn't struggling with the pace but it was faster than I normally go. I suppose I need to do this, I suppose it's time I run with the Big Dogs, but I love the middle-back of the pack! That's where I belong! I guess it's just another part of running. It was really cool running with My Hero, I was somewhat star-stuck but I didn't stick my foot in my mouth too much.

I'm heading out of town again this week so I will get some great hill runs in. I will be sure to take pictures and stories when I get them. Nothing like good stories.

I got an email from a friend in New York letting me know he is guaranteed entry in the New York City Marathon. I guess if you try to get in for a few years they give you a guaranteed entry for being persistent. Pretty cool. He asked me to register for the lottery and try to get in since he didn't have anyone to run it with so I did! I put my name in the lottery, not much chance of getting in but if they are true New Yorkers they won't know where Oklahoma is and maybe think it's a foreign country so I could get an entry for being from out-of-country! Whatever it takes.

My prospects of getting to San Diego or San Fransisco keep getting lower. Ever the optimist, I haven't thrown in the towel yet but the realist in me doesn't see how it's gonna happen. I would LOVE to be there with you guys and will try my best (plus I have begun to soften on my feelings about California and I actually, almost, sorta, kinda, maybe-a-little-bit like it out there now.)

Funny pic from my Mom! It was titled "Trophy Squirrel Bagged in West Virginia". Had to share! Someone has just a sick sense of humor as me!!!

Thanks for listening