May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy.
Monday, July 27, 2009
A group of us Landrunners flew out West this last weekend to run in the San Francisco marathon. Little thing, you may have heard of it, or maybe now. Anyway, we thought it would be fun to go out and run across the Golden Gate bridge. Nice change of scenery from Oklahoma. Our bridges have no gates, nor do they have gold. After a marathon sweep of the country from Oklahoma to New York back to Oklahoma then to Florida, I hoped on an airplane to San Francisco Friday and got into town around 10:30 Friday night. I was a bit tired.
Saturday we slept in a little and then my buddy and I went for a nice little run down to the start/finish area just to check things out. Did I mention my buddy runs really, really fast? He does and we did. It actually felt really good to let the legs go free after so many weeks of non-running and only a few days of easy running. I think we did a little less than 4 miles and enjoyed the weather and the scenery a lot. San Francisco has such great running weather. I'm not a big fan of cloudy and cold but it is nice to run races in. Give me 110 and sunny for training but come race day I'll take 60 and overcast with a little mist any day!
After our little run and massive amounts of Starbucks, we met up with the rest of the group and headed over to the expo to check in and find reasons to buy absolutely necessary worthless running junk like I do every expo! I was also excited because I was going to meet up with Southbay Girl again! She had come up for the race this year and I couldn't wait to see her again. Always nice to see the face behind the pixels. She even brought someone new for me to meet. Jo Lynn, ultimate-trail-runner-extraordinaire, came too! Very cool. We had a nice brief chat and then left to go explore the city before dinner.
We spent Saturday walking around San Francisco. We also rode trolley cars! Very, very cool! We saw Lombard street and every other hill in San Francisco too I think. They have a lot of hills. More on that later.
Ok so the race....
Got up Sunday not feeling great. I was afraid the traveling and fatigue had caught up with me but that all vanished when I got near the starting line. The energy of marathon morning is intoxicating! I fed off of it! I went from feeling down to riding high and was determined to make the most of it. If I couldn't have my own energy I'd use the crowds. We met up with SouthBay Girl again and this time she had RBR with her!!! AND, AND, AND IT WAS HER BIRTHDAY! How freaking cool is that! She was turning 29 and was fully decked out in a Boa and tierra (on top of the pink hat of course). She hadn't changed a bit and I got even more energy from just being around her.
We all decided to start in the same corral. My buddy should have been one higher but he's such a great guy that he moved back into mine. We told SouthBay Girl and RBR that we would run with them. They didn't' believe us. Damn, hate it when they're right! We didn't last 100 yards. The excitement got the best of us and we were off through the crowds making a decent pace up the Embarcadero, dodging people and taking in the early morning San Francisco scenery. We were running slow for my buddy's pace but I think he was holding back both for me and for the fear of the hills to come.
On our way up to the bridge we got hit with some sprinklers around Ft. Mason! Big sprinklers! Like totally gushing water-fall sprinklers. I was cold. Now I was wet and cold. Yippee! Laughed that off but it was still an annoyance. We had a lot of trouble this year dodging people. It seemed much more crowded than it did last year. This hurt our pace a little but again, I think it may have helped us later in the race.
So them hills. Yes, there were hills, San Francisco has hills OK? Geesh, I know that. We hit the first one in The Presidio and it wasn't too bad. The next one was the one leading up to the bridge and it was pretty tough. Long, twisting climb up to the toll gates. A fellow climb-sufferer noticed my Oklahoma shirt and commented that we probably didn't have any hills like this back there. A-ha-ha-ha-ha buddy, aren't you just a funny one! Bite me, I'm dying here OK?
The bridge was absolutely fabulous as it always is! Foggy but a wonderful experience anyway. A little more crowded this year so lots of people dodging but still got some great pictures. We kept a good pace when we could but really got stuck behind the crowds a couple times.
After the bridge the real running started. There's another monster hill shortly after the bridge and we took a beating on it. I lost my buddy somewhere near the top. I think he slowed up for the water station which I didn't dare do because I was afraid of rolling backwards into the bay if I did. Where the heck was this hill last year!!! Geesh! So I ran the next few miles alone and tried to get a nice easy pace going. I fell comfortably into a 8:30 pace so I was still doing good and feeling good. Some more rolling hills and we entered the Golden Gate park.
If a little Japanese man comes out on the race course with a pie plate and tells you to hit it, don't let your ego get the best of you. Hitting a metal pie plate with your knuckles on mile 10 of a marathon hurts like hell! No motivation in that.
I had planned my normal Gel strategy of mile 7, 16, 20-22 and had got the 7 miler down on time but I began to feel the need for another shot around mile 11. I was worried about bottoming out so I took it then but immediately was concerned about only having 1 Gel left with 15 miles to go. I decided I'd grab a Gu at the first water stop that had them and take it last and maybe it wouldn't hurt me as much then.
My buddy caught me as we were heading into the park. We went through the half at about 1:53 which was a little slower than planned but we were OK with that considering the hills. I still felt good. I knew I was fighting it and it was hurting but I still had my head on and was in the game so I just prayed it would continue.
Gotta give a shout-out to the Hash House Harriers! I love these people! They give out beer every year and it's wonderful. A little PBR at mile 16 or 17 is a great boost to the system and they are so energetic too that you have to run good when around them. Great bunch of people.
I started bottoming out again shortly after mile 17 so I took my last Gel but I was a little late since my pace slowed and I lost my partner. He continued on as I slowed a bit waiting for the oozing goodness to seep into my veins and bring on those good feelings again. It finally kicked in as I was leaving the park and getting back up on the streets around mile 19. I lost a considerable amount of time but was still running and now had run through 2 low points in this race so I had some confidence in my ability to face down that demon. Things were looking up! My pace picked up and I got my head back in the game. Went through mile 20 in 2:54 which I was completely excited about. My best 20 mile time on a training run is 2:50 so I knew I was running right where I needed to be. I hadn't been keeping good mile splits so it was nice to see that I was on schedule for a good finish.
Miles 20 through 23 went pretty quick and I was running strong. It hurt a lot and I was enjoying it. It was that wonderful feeling you have when you feel the pain but you know you can push through it. I love that. I search for that feeling. Makes me feel alive, like I actually have some control over this bag of bones. I WAS ALIVE! I hurt so bad but I was feeling so good. That's what I look for every marathon. Sometime I only get one or the other but when I get them both it's the most amazing feeling in the world and it's better than crack!
Anyway, I was feeling so good and keeping a good sub-9 minute pace but I could feel another low coming on. I took the Gu I had swiped for the last water stop but I didn't have any water and I desperately needed some. I was having a terrible thirst after that Gu and I kept waiting for water around every corner but kept finding nothing! I finally found some water just after mile 24. I was really hurting though so I stopped to get a little extra. HOLY CRAP bad idea! My knees hurt so bad when I stopped! I immediately took off again for fear of becoming totally unable to run.
Once I started running the pain went away which was totally awesome! I was so into this marathon, I can't explain how much I was enjoying this experience. I had pushed through barriers, I was experiencing pain and getting over it and through it. This was an experience, not just another run and I was completely in it. My head was swimming through the waves of emotions and thoughts. Somewhere after mile 24 I noticed Paula was just passing through 3:30 so I knew I was right on pace to match or beat 2008's time of 3:50. less than 2 miles to go and I had 20 minutes to get it done and set a new course PR. Thing were going great.
Then it all fell apart and I'm still not sure what went wrong. All I have in my head is that I quit. Yes, that's right, the "Run Fearless", "Live life to the fullest" guy quit on himself somewhere after mile 24 in San Francisco. I guess the lack of energy and the delayed water put a hurting on me and when I expected to recover like I'd done before I just didn't. I hit the bottom and couldn't get up again. This was the defining moment of possibly the greatest experience of my running life and I failed. I had this race, I had it! I'd overcame hurdles and pushed through the pain and was ready to finish this thing off when my mind slipped for just a second and it was gone. I gave away all those wonderful gains I'd made before. I stopped running. Just stopped, don't even really remember doing it but I knew I had. My head was spinning and I couldn't even fight it. That "in-control" side of me left or was beaten. I was thoughtless and energy-less. My arms weighed a ton and my head was broken forward. I walked.
I walked from just after mile 24 to the finish. I walked past the cheering crowds who shouted for me to run. I walked past the little grassy patches of park where I almost stopped and quit completely. They looked so inviting and I was just so tired. I walked down Embarcadero towards the finish line. When I got close enough that I could hear the announcer I finally regained my senses. I guess Bart Yasso's voice jolted me back to reality. I was still walking but I had my head back a little and eventually I jogged across the finish line. Paula said 4:01:26.
The last 2 miles took me over 30 minutes.
Till the shadows o’er me rise and swiftly go;
When my heart is weary, when the day is long,
Sing to me of Heaven, sing that old, sweet song.
I do remember one thing from my walk though. There was a Mexican band playing near where I lost it. The singer was speaking Spanish right up until I am near and then he yelled to the crowd, "Are you dead or are you alive!" They all cheered. He wasn't talking to or about me but in hind-sight I wonder if that wasn't my inner voice trying to wake me out of my trance. Problem was I couldn't hear it. I had already quit.
Now let me say that a 4:01 in San Francisco is a GREAT time. I'm totally OK with that time. What I'm not OK with and what I still have to get my mind around is that I faced down a demon and lost. I had the opportunity to push through and I didn't do it.
After the race I found a quiet spot and covered myself with the Mylar blanket. I was way to emotional to be around anyone else. Everything came at me and the full weight of what had just happened sank it. I need to make some changes. I need to get on a better path.
Eventually I got what was left of my carbon-based shell together and found my buddy. He had had a tough race too and was ready to hit the showers and start the post-marathon celebration. I swallowed my emotions for later days and joined him whole-heatedly. No need to dwell on something I neither understood nor could remedy. I had my shot and I blew it, no second chances. Move on!
We had a ball! I met up with SouthBay Girl and RBR for lunch where we swapped stories about the race. Those two had a ball! They had so much fun and have the pictures to prove it. They may be banned from San Francisco and may have offended some people too but DAMN they enjoyed the hell out of that race. I love it! I couldn't have been blessed with better blog friends.
Later we met up with our Oklahoma group at a local Irish pub so they could beat me up some more about how "flat" this course was. After this we desperately needed chocolate so we took the bus down to the Ghirardelli factory for some free samples. Then we hit the sourdough bread company for Crab and Corn chowder in a bread bowl! That's what I'd been waiting for all along. I was completely full and could only enjoy a little of it but it was the perfect completion to my trip.
I sometimes wonder if God doesn't get to feeling like I feel sometimes with my kids. You want so badly for them to do the right thing and you also want them to find it on their own. You can let them go only so far though before you just have to step in and take over for a bit to put them back on track. I had great plans for this day and they weren't fulfilled. I wasn't even able to pick the song in my head.
With that said, I really think I got just what I needed.
Pictures are posted above, stats below.
1485 out of 5036
1199 out of 3326
229 out of 568
51.81% Place: 2240
4:01:24 Pace: 9:13
1:06:48 Pace: 8:48
1:53:58 Pace: 8:42
2:54:38 Pace: 8:44
Thanks for listening
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I went for a walk along the beach after my run tonight. I wanted to get my feet wet with the cold water but didn't want to get totally soaked. I found the sand was firmest at the point where the waves ended their journey up the beach so I walked there. The waves would roll in and I would wait for awhile and then continue when they went back into the sea. Every few feet another wave would come at me and I would have to wait until it went back before I continued.
This went on for awhile until I became tired of constantly stopping and waiting for every wave. So then I tried to avoid the waves by walking up the sand a bit every time one would come in. This put me in deeper sand and made the walking harder. As the waves would roll out I would walk back down into the firmer sand where I had started and continue walking. Then another wave would roll in and I'd be back up the sand trying to avoid it but getting caught in the deep stuff again. Going towards and away from the waves made my path very long and the walking very hard
This went on for awhile until I decided to just go deeper in the water so that I wouldn't have to deal with the waves rushing at me and splashing my legs. I waded out into the water a bit where the water was a consistent depth and continued along. My path was now straight but I discovered a few holes in the sand that were covered by the water and it made the footing unsure and I became timid with each step. I was walking on sand that I could not see because it was covered up by the water I had waded into. I was also very wet and not comfortable.
Eventually I went back to the path I had started on. This time I walked on through the waves when they rushed at me and continued on my path after they rushed away. I would get splashed every now and then but was surprised to find that I kind of enjoyed the splashing once it was over. I also realized that every wave looks like it's moving fast as it's coming at you but that most are not that bad when they hit you. But the most important thing I learned was that they all return to the sea eventually. You're never in the water for very long as long as you stay on the path you've chosen and don't try to avoid or confront the waves. Just maintain your course and these waves will pass.
I think I learned a lot tonight.
As I was walking back to my hotel I saw some young boys playing on the beach and I missed my boys so much it hurt. I had a tear in my eye by the time I made it back here to the room but I know that this wave will pass too.
San Francisco is in 4 days. Bring it on.
Thanks for listening
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
This is a 400+ year old tree that's behind the house. Oldest White Oak in NY state
So there's my excitement for the week. Tomorrow I fly home to Oklahoma only to leave again on Sunday for Florida. I'll return from Florida just in time to catch a flight out to San Francisco to run the marathon next weekend. I've got a bit of traveling to do over the next few days for sure.
I've tried so hard over the last few days to get my mind wrapped around the marathon again. Up to now, my mind has been on everything but the marathon and it's scaring me a little. That's right, the "Run Fearless" guy is feeling fear. I fight it, I really do, but sometimes the fear is to great to keep down. I try to put on a strong face here for you guys because that's what I want to do for you. I want to give you that extra boost of encouragement or at least a tiny bit of humor to keep you going. The truth is though, I'm a scared little boy wrapped up in a big shell of a man who hides behind these words of strength. Most times I write what I want to be, not what I truly am thinking that if I get good at writing this script maybe it'll come true. I was almost convinced that I might be getting there until now. The fear is back and it's got control right now. I've run 10 marathons and I'm only 3 months since my last one and I'm doubting I can do this thing again in a week. Not worried that I won't run a good time, I'm honestly worried that I can't do the distance. That I'll get to 10 miles and it'll be over.
The knee, of course, is a major contributor to these feelings but it's not the main reason. I know I could run the entire marathon with ITB pain, I can do pain. What is really driving this fear is the lack of mental focus. I know I'm out of focus when I start thinking about how long a marathon is. Normally I don't even consider 26 miles. I've grown to think of it as a series of shorter segments that I run sequentially. I have goals for each segment and can concentrate on these shorter goals while the massive distance is going by. This is the way I used to think. Right now I'm only looking at the monster 26 miles and it's overwhelming. I've lost focus and I've got a week to get it back.
I'm going to really concentrate on the race for the next week. I need to get my head back in the game and focus. I have no idea how I'm going to do this but I'll make it. Fear is an ugly thing. Maybe I needed to see a little in order to get me back to earth.
Thanks for listening
Sunday, July 12, 2009
So here we are. 13 days 10 hours and 1 minute until The San Francisco Marathon. I'm on the couch with an icepack on my leg. It hurts to walk sometimes.
On the plus side the activities of yesterday numbed my inhibitions enough that I was able to go spend a large sum of money on NEW RUNNING SHOES! That's right, I hit the crack dealer for some retail theorpy. It worked too. This was an awesome score.Brooks Trance. My dealer says they are mid-way between the Adrenalines that I wear now and the Infiniti's that I loved a few shoes back. They are 1 oz. lighter than the Adrenalines and that is what convinced me. I think he may have mentioned something about how these shoes cure ITB issues faster than any other shoe too but I may have misunderstood.
I'm heading out on the road for a few weeks tomorrow. I plan to hit the gyms in the hotels where I'll be staying and try to work my core over the next 2 weeks. A friend recommended pool running so I may try that too. Hate to get my new shoes wet though.
My friends you are all doing great and I'm proud as ever to sorta know you. Keep up the great work and be sure to write all about it. I'll send some pictures from the road.
So Sara has been asking questions lately and I love them so I thought of one myself. Others will always define you and form an image of you based on what they see/hear/think. I think it's OK to care about this but I also think it's more important to define yourself in your own eyes. You know the thoughts/dreams/hopes/desires/fears in your head better than anyone. So here's the question and it's simple:
Who are you? How do you see yourself?
Thank for listening
Saturday, July 4, 2009
I wish I could say that I've turned my views around because I've overcome the selfishness of youth but the truth is that I don't like to be given gifts because of the guilt or obligation receiving a gift brings. In a way it's just another form of selfishness on my part. I never feel worthy of a gift so getting one means that I will feel guilty for it and not be able to enjoy it, or I'll have to work hard to find a way to earn the gift so I can enjoy it. I wish I was mature enough to accept things as they are and enjoy the gifts of this life but it's not in me. I'm constantly working to earn something that I want or that I've been given.
I don't think I'm alone in this feeling, I'm not unique, and I don't think this way of thinking is all bad. On a grander scale, earning the gifts you've been given is a noble cause. We've all been blessed with this wonderful mystery of life. Not just a heart beat. Feelings. Thoughts. That extra something that separates us from other forms of living creatures. We were given that. We can't make it no matter how hard we try. We can't create life, it has to be given to us. That's a tough concept for someone like me to accept. There is something out there that we can't do for ourselves, we have to accept it! So what do we do?
We earn it! We take that gift we've been given and use it! That's the only way to earn that ultimate gift.
All of the blogs I read are inspiring because they are about people USING the gifts they've been given. None of you write enthusiastically about running the same time you did last week, or running the same distance as you did yesterday, or doing the same number of push ups you did a year ago. You're also not always writing about how you succeed every time you try either. No, you write about how much faster you are, or how much farther you ran today, or how many more reps you did at the gym or about how you poured your heart into something and it didn't work out. You're striving, you're not stagnating in the pool of life, you're swimming in the raging waters of adventure and challenge! You're LIVING. You're using the gifts you've been given whether you realize it or not and I believe I'm drawn to you because we're all living what we were meant to be. We may not be on the same paths but we share that dazed feeling of wonderment that we can't explain but that gives us a unique sense of self.
I hope that one day I'm able to receive a gift and give an honest Thank You to the giver without guilt. I suppose that come with (more) age. I hope I never stop feeling the need to earn the gift of being alive though. I want to run on the day I die and discover something new about this world on that run. Not just another 3 miles because it's in my training plan for my next marathong (hopefully #200+ by then), but a run in which I feel/think/see/hear/fall-into something totally unexpected and new.
I suppose when we do die, we've all earned the life we've had by that time anyway. Whether good or bad, we've earned it by how we worked for it. You can't be given a truly good or bad life. You either work to earn the basic gift or you don't. You'll reap something either way.
I've been blessed with not only the gift of live but with a love of running. It's my dream and dreams are gifts too. We didn't come up with them by ourselves did we?? Otherwise I'd have definitely gone with the competitive ice-cream eating/TV watching thing! No, for some reason, whether it was the people in my life or some other innate calling, I've always felt a love of running. It was given to me and I'd be insulting the giver if I didn't use it. I need to earn it.
Truth is I love that gift and I'm happy to earn it. Amazing since I didn't even pick it out of the J.C. Penny catalog or put it on my gift registry at Macy's. No this gift was chosen for me long before I ever had a chance to choose. Someone knew me better than I know myself and planted that seed knowing that through it I might contribute something to his creation. In Willie-terms, He wound me up and let me go!
So whenever you hear me complaining or crying about this hurting or that aching or this being swollen or that turning black and falling off or this being sore or that or this or that or this or that.... Please know that I'm talking about something I love doing and that is burned into my soul. It was a gift and I'm out there joyfully earning it.
Stupid knee is really screwing up my gift right now though! Anything you can do about that Big Guy would be appreciated!!!!
Sorry that slipped out. It is me after all :)
Thanks for listening
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
I think I'm injured. Those of you who've read this blog for awhile know why I just apologized now don't you? Feel free to stop reading..... It's not going to get better I promise you.
Running has been GREAT! Easy, no major issues, just me and my shoes out there pounding the pavement.
San Francisco is in 3 weeks.
I've scheduled a 20 miler for Friday.
I ran a 6:12 mile last night which a new PR.
Oh and NOW MY STUPID IT BAND DECIDES TO ACT UP! And it's not even in my normal bad leg. It's in my left leg. My good leg. My favorite leg. The leg that doesn't give me any problems! That makes it even worse! It's like the good son getting into trouble, don't know what to do, it's just not supposed to happen.
I've given it 2 days to get better.
I've got a 20 miler Friday morning and I'm NOT missing it for a stupid ITB problem. I iced and stretched it last night and iced it three times today at work. That's right, I was looking fabulous with the leg of my slacks pulled up to my thigh rubbing a Dixie cup of ice on my knee while working on the computer. Mostly people just laughed at my boots. I guess boots on a bare leg is funny, go figure.
So as you can see this is the beginning of a sequence of events that, after much frustration and cursing, leads to my eventual acceptance of the fact that I can't run but only after I've made the injury worse and prolonged the recovery. The fact that I acknowledge this sequence of events proves I'm not insane however. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I do the same thing over and over and whole heartedly accept the outcome will be the same each time. See!? I'm good.
That's just how Willie rolls! Deal with it!
Thanks for listening