Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ogden Newspaper 20K

I promised a post about my race in Wheeling so here it is.

I traveled back to my hometown as a surprise to my father for his retirement party. Because I'm one of us sick runner-types, I spent significant time looking for a marathon to run while I was home that weekend. I couldn't find one anywhere near my home but I did find a 20K in Wheeling West-by-God-Virginia. As I investigated more I learned that this race was a companion to the 1/2 marathon that is run in my hometown. You get a special T-shirt if you run both and we all know that we run for T-shirts!!!

I convinced my mother to join me in this endeavor which really didn't take much convincing since she still loves her little baby very much. We got up at 5:30 and she drove me to Wheeling. I had only driven through the town on the highway so this would be my first visit to Wheeling. It's a nice town, bigger than I thought. We parked, got registered, and hit the porta-pottie. Typical pre-race steps.

I noticed as we were lining up to start that we were starting directly into a hill. Nice. Luckily we turned before we hit the hill. Yea! I settled into a nice easy pace and was taking in the scenery when I came upon a nice gentleman who noticed my Oklahoma shirt. He casually mentioned that he was taking it easy preparing for the 29th street hill. "Oh do tell", was my response, hill? What hill? He laughed. Alot. "You've never run this race before have you?". Ha ha ha, you're so funny Mr. not-so-nice-anymore gentleman.

It was a big hill. It was a long hill. It kept going. Up. Turn. More up. Turn. More up. It hurt. There was a band and large crowd at the top. "You've made it over! Way to go!". Bite me, screw you, you suck. Oh crap that's a steep downhill. {sound of knees screaming in horror}. Ahhhhhhhhhhh (Willie screaming in horror).

There that's my race report. Repeat that last paragraph a couple more times and that's the race in a nutshell. Only thing to add is that the last mile was all downhill which was really cool. I figured I had already done permanent damage to my knees anyway so I let it all hang out. I got under 7 for that last mile. It was really cool to have Paula register a sub-7 minute mile during a race! Just to keep Willie from getting too big a head though, the running Gods saw fit to have a young, f-ing shirtless, headband-wearing, punk-ass cherub (RBR term) pass me, like I was standing still, about 100 yards from the finish. Oh yea, and my mom just happened to catch a great action shot of the moment too! I look like I'm really moving except for the blur that is streaking past me. Just had to ruin a good picture didn't he?

Willie sending laser beams into a teenager's back

I ended up running 1:40:31 which was surprising considering how slowly I ran some of those hills. That's an 8:06 average. Not bad if I do say so myself.

Afterwards I got a great massage and some wonderful coffee from a local gourmet shop. My mom and I had a great day together. BTW, she was 12th out of 30 in her age group in the 5K walk. Go mom!

Happy Willie

Thanks for listening

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Soft Place to Land

Sometimes in life there comes a time when everyone gets a little too strung out. I've never been able to juggle, not even 1 ball at a time, but it seems lately that all I do is juggle all the aspects of my life. It's amazing that a guy like me who has never been accused of being smart can keep so many balls in the air at once. It's also very tiring. The problem with juggling is that the balls never go anywhere. Just up and around and then back down just to be tossed up again. There is no forward progress. Just up and around and back down. You might be successful in keeping them off the ground but you aren't taking them anywhere.

I suppose that's OK as long as you remain so caught up in the act of juggling that you don't have time to notice that you're standing still. But when you do get a moment to ponder this fact it is very depressing. Looking back and seeing that you were so busy doing that you didn't notice not getting anywhere is a sobering discovery.

I came home last week for my father's retirement party. It was a surprise for him, he didn't even think anyone was going to throw him a party at all, let along have all his friends and family there. He taught for 36 years in the same school district. 36 years! He started 6 months after I was born and is now retired. It was great to surprise him but I'm not sure anything could be grand enough to put an exclamation point on 36 years of teaching. The party just seemed a little too insignificant compared to that. He was happy though and that's all that mattered. After the party, I went back to his house and we drank beer, ate potato chips, and listened to fiddle music on his front porch. I actually found that even much more significant than the party. Just a father and son sitting in the dark bonding after 36 years.

Most of the time I've been here I've stayed with my mom. Her house is so inviting and just embodies her. You can look at this house and know my mother lives in it. It's a wonderful place to be and I really needed that. I arrived late on Thursday and she had dinner ready for me. She was so excited to see me and all she really wanted to do was just have me here. No expectations, no plans, just sit and watch TV together like we used to when I was younger. I forgot how much I missed that.

Today my mother and I drove to Wheeling W-by-God-V for a 20K race. She did the 5K walk and I ran the 20K. We had a great time and we didn't know a soul up there! Just the 2 of us. I heard her yelling for me when I started and then again when I came across the finish line. Afterwards we got coffee and people-watched for awhile before heading home for pizza and naps. It was the perfect way to cap off this trip. I'll write about the race later.

So I woke up a little on this trip. I noticed my juggling for the first time in a long while. I don't know that I'll be able to change much about how I live my life after this revelation, but it's nice to know that when you want to stop juggling or the balls begin to fall out of the air that you have a soft place for them to land.

Thanks for listening

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Is it just me or are most distance runners also book geeks? It seems lately that whenever I get around a bunch of runners we end up talking about books we've read or would like to read. I don't have these same type of conversations with my non-running friends. We talk about many things but never books. Now I should caveat that and remind you that I'm a geeky engineer so I have to exclude science fiction books from the above statement. Bring up Star Trek or The Lord of the Rings where I work and you're in for a very long discussion that will probably lead to an argument much the way drunken football fans would be at a bar (except for the actual punch throwing, we geeks don't see the point in physical violence when you can do so much more damage to someone by crafting a well thought out retort to their insult of Star Trek the first movie).

But back to runners, I suppose most distance runners also enjoy reading because the mental aspect of reading and running long distances are so similar. One of my biggest enjoyments of running is when I can get lost in my thoughts for miles and miles. So much so that I barely notice them go by. If I can get my mind on something and let it run free for an hour or two I'm in heaven! A good book can give me the same feeling too. The only thing better than getting lost in a great story on a rainy day would be to get in 20 miles on a nice sunny day at the lake.

So does that mean that we runners chase the chance to escape reality? Are we just out there pounding the pavement in the hope of running away from the real world for awhile? And when we can't run, we run for a book to escape? The answer, I believe, it a resounding ABSOLUTELY! I wish I was strong enough to face all my problems head-on, get them resolved, and move on putting them in the past but I can't and I don't think many others can either. I need to get away every now and then and I can't afford to grab a flight to the Cancun every week. But if I can get off work early on a sunny Friday and run the lake trails for an hour or two I can dream of the white beaches and cold margaritas. Or if I can't run, I can grab a Jimmy Buffet book and get lost on a schooner heading for some lost island lighthouse in the Caribbean. Either way the effect is the same, I get happy for awhile and I'll take all the happiness I can get. Even if it only lasts until one of my offspring comes running into my story right when I'm about to see the sunset over the ocean as I'm sipping my drink on the warm sandy beach or my cell phone rings half way around the lake informing me that one of my offspring needs to go somewhere or needs money or needs medical attention or etc....

So we runners are readers. There are worse things we could go with our time. We could spend all our time surfing the Internet, or writing long, boring blogs about running.... Oh, wait....

Thanks for listening

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My Day


That's what I hear everyday when I walk in the door. It's always followed by the sound of little footsteps running as fast as they can down the hall. Then this little munchkin jumps into the air without reservation knowing that I'll catch him. It's getting harder and harder but I'm still able to pluck him out of the air and give him a big bear hug.

This is how I'm greeted everyday when I get home from work. Not a bad life, not a bad life at all.

My running life is beginning to show signs of a rebound. I've put in some good miles since the Ft. Collins marathon and I'm beginning to get a good pace back. I took the week off following the marathon and returned to running last Saturday with a nice 6 mile run. We ran at just above 8 minute pace and it felt really comfortable, just like it used to last fall. I followed this up with a good 4 mile run on Sunday by myself. I had initially meant to run an easy 3 miles but I felt so good I added an additional mile and ran the last 3 at just about 8 minute pace again! I was pumped. I felt strong and comfortable again.

I took Monday off as I normally do and then ran 4 miles through downtown OKC on Tuesday. I love running downtown through the busy city streets and around the tall buildings. We also ran through the downtown museum garden which is really nice and ran the finishing stretch of the OKC Memorial Marathon. I ran that part harder and faster than I did during the actual marathon so it was a bit of redemption too.

Wednesday we finally saw the sun again and it was nice and hot. I was so excited to get out of work and get home for a nice, hot, sweaty run in the sun. I made it out the door and down the street about 1/4 mile before I lost focus and lost my motivation. I was really tired and my legs were sore. I wanted so badly to run long and sweat but my heart just wasn't in it so I stopped and walked home. Somewhat disappointing but there will be plenty of sunny days this summer for me to enjoy. No need to push it when I don't have to.

Tonight I met up with my old friends who I've been running with for sometime but had been missing for a few weeks due to marathons and other travels. It was nice to meet up again and get a nice 6 mile run in. I think I was the most rested of the bunch and I really wanted to push the pace a little. We held a nice 7:30-7:40 pace for the entire run and even had a little kick at the end. As usual they left me at the end but I didn't care. I'm a pace runner, no impressive sprints here, just good steady pace all the way from start to finish. That's who I am and I accept that. They are so much faster than me but we always have so much fun together and I get so much motivation from them.

Paula and I have come to terms, I think. I actually forgot her again on my first two runs this week but she didn't seem to mind. I think we both are trying to be a little less involved in this relationship and it's taken a lot of pressure off. Sometimes you have to let go a little to grow closer I guess.

Thanks for listening

Monday, May 11, 2009

Pooch pics

Missy thanks you for listening

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Ramble On

I haven't run all week and I'm OK with that. I caught some kind of wicked cold over the last few days and it's having it's way with me. I made it to work on Tuesday but only lasted until noon. I spent the rest of the day in bed sleeping. When I wasn't sleeping I was eating. Sleeping, eating, sleeping, eating, that's been my life in a nutshell over the last 2 days. I finally came out of it last night and was able to drag my bag of bones to work today. I'm still not 100% but I'm definitely better.

I hate missing work mainly because I have to spend the day I make it back getting caught up with everything I missed. I'm so good at playing dumb that most people can't tell when I'm acting or when I'm actually ignorant about something. It's an art that I've perfected over many years of playing engineer.

I'm hoping to get back in the saddle of work and running next week. I feel like a lazy slug. It doesn't help that I watch many, many episodes of Deadliest Catch while I was struggling to stay conscious over the last few days. Just watching that show makes me tired. It also makes me feel very unworthy to complain about anything. Those guys work their arses off!

I know I'm rambling. I just want to write something though, I'm struggling to fight off my normal post-marathon depression. It hasn't set in but I can feel it coming on. That feeling that I'm not worthy to take another breath, that feeling that I'm a horrible father and person. That state of mind that concentrates on my many faults and can't get over them. I've already got the sad country songs playing in my head (my truck and dog are in trouble). One day I'd like to figure out how to avoid this or at least how to cut it short. I'm going to fight it hard this time.

The Little One is here with me tonight and he always makes me laugh. I took him to get a haircut last week and let the lady get a little crazy with the clippers. The poor kid got peeled! He looks silly but very cute. We're watching Animal Planet, some show about the oceans. He's totally into it, focused and concentrating on the sharks and lobsters. He tells me all about each animal that comes on. I wish I had that imagination! He can see a tiger shark and tell me where they live, what they eat, that they eat people, and that they don't like kelp. All of this just from just watching one swim. His little brain must work so fast. I suppose it's because it hasn't been filled up with girls yet. Got a few years before that takes over.

Thanks for listening

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Fort Collins part Deux

I posted the pictures in a slide show above. I thought that would work better than posting each one here.

Let's see, where did I leave off. Oh yes, we were running downhill. Did I mention I love that? Best way to run hills I believe. That Newton guy deserves many thanks for discovering gravity. Wonder if he was a runner? Probably not. Off topic, off topic, back to the marathon.

I ran the first few miles relaxed and easy. I also ran them with a few of the wonderful people from my running club. I am beginning to believe that I need some kind of companionship during the early miles of a marathon. This seems to help me find a comfortable pace and stick with it for awhile. Hmm... Am I becoming a social runner? Maybe co-dependent?

It was very cold at the start so I was wearing a long sleeved shirt under my Landrunners tank-top, gloves, a hat, and ear warmers. I was worried that I would have to take most of this stuff off and carry it after I warmed up. I need not have worried because I NEVER warmed up. Even as everyone running with me started getting warm and shedding layers of clothes, I was till freezing. I just couldn't get warm. I tried to run in the sun whenever I could just to get some additional heat on my body. I eventually took the ear warmers off but that was only because they had become wet with sweat and were actually making my ears colder. I've never been cold-blooded before and I'm still not sure why I was so cold during this run. Just bad Karma I guess.

So I ran on in my full battle gear. I stopped at a porta-potty at the halfway point. I don't normally do this but I had forced myself to hydrate and my bladder was not going to let me forget what I had done. After I satisfied the call of nature, I continued running downhill (sorry I just love saying that). I decided to run a little easier between mile 14 and mile 20. I was feeling good but was incredibly worried that I would hit that wall I knew was lurking out there somewhere. I'm not normally a pessimist but I couldn't stop thinking that any minute now I was going to have a repeat of last week's disaster in Oklahoma City. So I slowed a bit and ran easy. I was still holding 8:30 - 8:40 pace pretty comfortably.

About mile 20 I started doing some calculations in my head. I figured if I could hold 8:30 pace for the last 6 miles I could break 3:45 which was my goal. I was beginning to tire rapidly but I felt I was still hold pace. A little further down the road Paula spoke up and told me I ran a 9:03 for the last mile. So much for my 8:30 goal! That little pipe-dream was gone. I tried not to yell at Paula because I knew she was still emotional over our last spat. I just wish she had told me earlier that we were slowing down. She would say that she did but I obviously didn't hear it or it didn't register at the time. I think we may need counseling. We just aren't communicating like her predecessor and I did. I know I shouldn't compare her to previous relationships but I have certain needs and she just doesn't seem willing to give.

There was an uphill at mile 20 that was no fun at all. To make matters worse they put the water stop on the hill also. I needed some water but I felt breathing was much more important at the time so I skipped the Hydrogen and went with just the 2 parts of Oxygen which was scarce at this altitude.

I hung on the last 5 miles running 9 min/mile pace. I was really feeling the fatigue of running 2 marathons in 2 weeks at this point. None of my muscles were screaming and I had no joint pain, I was just tired. I had nothing left to give. I was drained. I know it sounds weird but this was my destination. I had arrived at that point where it was all heart and no more brawn. That point where you discover yourself and not just the outer shell of a man that I wear most of the time. Stripped down and laid bare emotionally. Take the fuel out of the machine and see if it can run on guts and it's own soul. That's what separates us from the machines anyway, the soul. I like finding mine every now and then and remind myself that I'm more than just a bag of muscles and bone.

I finished in 3:48:10 and was met by all my wonderful friends from the Landrunners. What a great day! We cheered in the remaining club members and proceeded to the beer garden for some post-run celebration. Joanne, my wonderful hostess, won her age group!!! She received a nice glass which she desperately needed to go with her other thousand or so trophies and glasses she has won over the years. She is an amazing runner and her house is decorated with the rewards of her efforts. 60+ marathons and still winning awards! How cool is that??

The restaurant hosting the awards ceremony had free pizza and beer! I tell you, I LOVE this race!

Peace to all and remember to Run Fearless

Thanks for listening,

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Fort Collins part un

Today I ran my second marathon in 2 weeks. This was a totally new experience for me and I had no idea how Willie's body would take to this new trauma. I'm happy to report that today's marathon was much better than last week's and Willie's body is doing great. I should caveat that though, I'm on my 3rd or 4th (I can't remember) beer at this point and basically everything feels good. My legs may have fallen off for all I care. I'm happy and I don't have another marathon for at least another month. Bring on the soreness!!!

The Fort Collins marathon is awesome! That's my race report in a nutshell. If you can run it, do it!

I flew in Friday night and my flights were a bit delayed so I didn't get to see the beautiful mountains when I landed. We had dinner at a great Mexican restaurant here in Fort Collins that made excellent margaritas. I think the food was good too.

I was blessed to be invited to stay with a wonderful couple who my friend knew through the running club. These people were amazing! They put us up and treated us like royalty. So much better than I have every had a hotel. Thank you so much Joanne and Hunter! I'm in your debt for anything you ever need.

We woke up Saturday morning and went for a short run over to the Anheuser-Busch brewery. It was only 2.5 miles away! I love this place. We took a tour and then basically sat around drinking free beer and eating free pretzels until almost 2 PM! Our table was full of empty pretzel bags by the time we left. Those Anheuser-Busch people should have known better than to offer free pretzels to runners! Manna from heaven! Oh yea, we had a lot of beer also.

We caught a ride back home and Joanne fixed us breakfast at 3 PM. Like I said, better than a hotel. We then relaxed for awhile before heading out to take a short tour of the area (lots and lots of hills which we were assured we would be running DOWN!). Then we had dinner at a fabulous Italian place. About 20 of us took over the place and we had a ball! So much fun and laughter I can't even begin to make a worthy account of the event. Then we were back to Joanne's for an early bedtime. Forgot to mention that it was raining, cloudy and cold all day. The forecast was for cloudy and cold on Sunday though, no rain. I put my full faith in that forecast because I couldn't imagine running in the rain.

Sunday we woke up at 3 AM because we had to catch a bus to the starting line at 4AM. You weren't allowed to drive up the mountain to the staring line, you had to take a bus. They threatened us with disqualification if they saw anyone getting out of a personal car. They were sticklers for traffic control. Very cool! We made it to the buses and I noticed some stars as we were loading. No rain and only a few clouds. Awesome! I slept most of the way up the mountain on the luxury bus they provided for us. Once we got there we stayed on the bus because it was heated and the temperature had dropped to 39 degrees.

As I was sitting there, I struck up a conversation with the gentleman beside me. Turns out he was the race director for the Parkersburg 1/2 marathon which is my hometown! As we talked, I discovered that he grew up on the same street as I did back in Ohio!! OMG it's a small world. He was out here getting Colorado completed on his quest for 50 states. How awesome is that!

Eventually they kicked us off the bus and we entered the 6000 foot atmosphere. Good thing I brought my own oxygen. Actually it wasn't that bad, I hardly noticed. The race started very informally and we were running. I forced myself to take it easy. It was hard not to go fast because we were running downhill but I was very un-Willie-istcally disciplined. The views were unbelievable! We ran next to a rushing river and the fog was still laying heavily on the mountains. The sun was breaking through though and created some amazing shadows. I took many pictures which I'll post when I get home.

For many miles all you could hear was the rushing river, the air was thin, clear, and clean. The smell of aspen was in the air. You couldn't ask for a better morning. The rain and clouds were gone and the sun was poking it's head between the valleys. I fell in love. Who needs oxygen.

I ran well, averaging 8:20's on the way down the mountain. I can't tell you how great it was to round every turn and see another downhill! What an amazing course. The road slanted in the proper direction ALL THE TIME! DOWN! Just the way God intended it to.

I'll finish later, my alcohol-blood content is high so I must go get the ratio improved so I can't feel how badly my quads hurt.

Thanks for listening