Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Let's Just Call it a Taper or Something

Monday: No jogging in honor of Memorial Day. Awesome day on the lake with friends and veggie dogs and beer. Life was good on this day.

Tuesday: No jogging in honor of the anniversary of my birth. Life can change a lot in one year. As I get older, I'm learning to avoid words like never and always. It always gets better and it can always get worse. 26 was a good year.

Wednesday: Moving day. Just carrying stuff. No jogging.

Thursday: 9 miles. A bit of a strugglefest around Wall Lake. Held a decent pace(7:13/mile), but not without some stops to decide whether puke or not. Definitely an off day. After 5 miles of 6:30-40 pace, I had to fold 'em and chill out. I thought I'd use the hot, hilly roads to practice being uncomfortable, and uncomfortable is what it was. Stomach cramps; chafing of the, uh, crotchal region; getting sort of lost, which feels sort of how I feel now as I feebly attempt to use semicolons. Even the oatmeal can't help me.  Not a bad way to shake the rust off after a three day break.


Friday: Typical Friday excuse-o-rama.

Saturday:
AM: 6 miles with Kelsey and Kate at Yankee Springs. I really like this trail system and daydream about a long, self-supported point-to-point on the connected North Country Trail whenever I run there. The aim was for a long run, but Kelsey had been fighting a really nasty cold all week, so we bailed. Considering that we share close quarters, I pretty much plan on getting it too. Just in time for a double marathon. nice.

PM: 8 miles. Back at Yankee, with Evan and Ephraim this time. This was one of the most awful runs I've had in a long time. I felt like death 2 miles in. I felt as though I was cruising along (and we were, a little under 8 min pace with little effort), then I suddenly felt done. I couldn't keep my cadence up or my posture right. My best guess is dehydration and malnutrition. Whenever I change my surroundings (which has been relatively frequently over the last 2-3 years), I neglect to take care of fluids and food like I should. In two months, it will happen again, but hopefully for a little longer.

Anyway, a super shitty run to dash my confidence about the upcoming race. Shit happens. I've blown up and walked it in before.

Sunday:
No running (I see a commonality in these entries). A few miles of stand-up-paddleboarding and kayaking on the lake with Kelsey. She's definitely shared her cold with me.


23 miles. This is embarrassing, but only posting good periods is pretty douchey.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

I Couldn't Resist: Jog log 5/19-5/24/2014

I haven't written much since Zane Grey. I suppose the mundane day-to-day doesn't hold a candle to a trip to my future home for a truly wonderful weekend of outdoor experience, but I'm trying to get in the habit of logging exercise again. Not for the sake of boosting my ego(that I'll admit to at least), but to feel more connected to the practice. 

I haven't been doing much training since late April. Sporadically at best. I ran the Kalamazoo Marathon with Kelsey the weekend after Zane and have done a smattering of other typical jogs/workouts. This past week, however, was filled with motivation. Maybe it was the good weather, the laid-back feeling of Summer setting in, or the fact that Kelsey and I are both doing a race in a couple weeks. Because it's close and excellently managed, I'll try my hand at a double marathon at the Yankee Springs Trail Run. As much as I'd love to say that Zane Grey bolstered a great deal of confidence, it's just not true. I can't shake the feeling of being squishy and out of shape as I try to get into an honest rhythm of summer running. That feeling of being a little bit sore each morning, a little bit sunburned, and wanting to get out for a run on any surface at any pace is something I miss. I'll keep chasing the feeling. 

I sit here on a Monday, contemplating a workout. Track? Tempo? Hills? The structured running that makes me feel fit certainly has its draw, but the warm weather has me thinking summer. Summer, for the past few years, has been more about adventurous things than workouts. Big, arbitrarily-selected loops around bodies of water; the town just over the ridge; scrambling to summits or painfully flat bike paths to nowhere permeate my sweaty, salty, over-the-top memories of summers past. I like the preparation and contemplation of going somewhere on foot, even if it's nowhere. Long outings on sore legs that finish in a different place than they started have me daydreaming at my work bench. Workouts and track runs just don't do it for me this time of year. Honestly, races don't either.

Short, painful runs must be done, however, because adventures are no fun if you aren't fit enough to finish them. I don't have time after work to run to the next town and back. Tagging a summit or two won't even be a possibility until August, and I can not be more excited about it. For now, I'll try to get and stay fit for the next thing to come my way.  Feeling pretty fat and out of shape these days.

Monday
Trail intervals: Anderson Arboretum trails. Usually a place for easy runs with Cohen and Kelsey, I thought I'd take advantage of small loops with semi-technical rolling hills. I have no way of really measuring the distance of this loop (My Suunto Ambit 2 is on its way), but it took 8:26-8:30 to run it, depending on the direction. A small, flat loop served as the rest loop at the start/finish of the big one. 4 loops at 8:30ish with an additional 9 minutes hard on the other trails. Pretty enjoyable workout as far as solo outings on minimal shuteye go. 8ish miles total.

Tuesday
Legs/crosstraining/didn't feel like running: I had little motivation to go out for a long run and I have no rec center access this summer, so I improvised. I put a combination of dumbbells and rocks in my old hiking backpack and walked to the stadium. Stairs and short, steep hill repeats. Slowly paced, but big lunging steps. 90 minutes on my feet total with plenty of up and down. Extremely effective? Probably not as much as a run so intense I puke out of everywhere, but getting outside and sweating always feels good.

Wednesday
A couple nice runs in the heat with Kelsey. First the Arb trails with Cohen, then some roads with Joe and the Urban Herd group. 11 miles for the day


Thursday
Easy 1:20 to Asylum Lake and back. Kind of a loud, hilly, construction-zoned jog to the land preserve, but worth the noise to run some singletrack and meadows as the sun went down. Stopped for a few minutes just to sit and do nothing. I do lots of nothing, but it was nice to do nothing outside in beautiful weather for a change. 10 miles? I don't know. Sounds fine.

Friday
Took a day off. Fridays are tough when I get up at 4am for work. I know, people do it all the time, but this is different. Those people are hard working or motivated or whatever.

Saturday
AM: 8ish miles with Kelsey at Fort Custer. Weather and trail conditions were as close to perfect as it gets. Comfortably warm and sunny with a nice breeze rolling in off of the lakes that the trail winds between. Now that I'm done being positive, I'll express some frustration over the inundation of trail cyclists (why are they called mountain bikers? This trail has 350' of gain/loss). To go a full minute without jumping off the trail was rare. The bad part about good weather, I suppose. Awesome morning anyway.

PM: 12 miles on the Kal-Haven Trail. I wanted to run fast on gravel, so I did a 1x10km of hard effort, a tempo 5k, and a harder 5k. Just over 6min pace for the 10k, 7:20 pace for the easier 5k, and 6:30 for the final 5k. This trail that I bemoan for being so flat actually has a slight east-to-west decline, giving me a handy excuse for slowing down.

Sunday
4 miles: Easy jog down to the track for some barefoot running on the infield. I was thinking that I should get back into weightlifting to get some strength back, but I have no access to a gym these days. Lo and behold, there was a stack of old trailer tires near the track. x-fit, bitch. I did some squats, lunges, triceps dips, pull-ups, and push ups. I was then thoroughly exhausted and shuffled home deliriously.

53 miles or so, plus miscellaneous other activities. Not bad.



Thursday, May 1, 2014

Zane Grey and Surrounding Events

I've barely posted anything noteworthy this year, mostly because I hadn't done much. This post is sort of personal, and long overdue. Not really a race report for those that seek information about the course or whatever. 

The trip I'd been looking forward to for half a year has finally come and gone. Not only did I survive, but I've come out with a new perspective on running, life, and myself. I hadn't had a really enlightening experience in while. This certainly qualifies, and ended up as one in a different way than expected.

As many of you know, I was more or less cajoled into registering for the Zane Grey 50 miler when Kelsey and I started seeing each other. She saw that Hal Koerner tweeted about registration opening up, and convinced me to sign up with the incentive that she'd go along to crew and pace. I've yet to turn down a jogging-related "wouldn't it be funny/stupid/awesome if you did this?" challenge, and I wasn't about to turn one down from a girl I admired. So, pretty much, it's Hal's fault.

I knew that the odds of me being financially, physically, and mentally able to make a 2000mile trip to a notoriously difficult 50 miler were long. I had no idea what life would be like 6 months from the night I sat up in bed, nervously tapping my credit card info into my phone. "Where the hell is Payson?" I asked myself after finalizing.
I'm not sure if life works in mysterious ways or if I'm just dumb
The next two semesters(That's how lifelong college students measure time) were some of the most memorable I've ever had, and not always in a positive way. My simple, cut-and-dry path to physical therapy school was blocked by one small detail: I'm terrible with numbers, and skipping over prerequisite math courses to get to PT school is easier said than done. This hampered my motivation, as did a ubiquitous notion that it just wasn't the career for me. Another life change. Scrap the plan. Think of a new one. My semester at GVSU was a bust, and my interests were far from the cow pasture campus of Allendale, Michigan.

The winter leading up to Zane was a tough one to train through. The weather was relentlessly cold as the "polar vortex" kept me inside with Netflix and ice cream. Along with the weather, it was one of the more challenging times in my life. Having minimal school obligations, no job, and feeling lost took its toll on me. If anyone ever finds themselves with excessive self esteem, I'd recommend being unemployed and crossing fingers for a temp job.

Spring sort of came with a few weeks to go before the race, and I finally dusted myself off to get training. A few 70 mile weeks, a lot of time in the weight room, and one flat 33 mile run. Good enough, right? On that singular long run, I gave myself a pretty good case of tendonitis of the Achilles'. Spending the next two weeks taping, icing, wrapping, and worrying about the race kept my mind off of the usual pre-race jitters and allowed for some rest.

The Race

The Zane Grey 50 is well-known for being one of the toughest(the RD claims it to be the toughest) 50 mile races in the country. I'm not alone when I say this intrigues and scares me. The promise of adventure is what draws people to ultrarunning. This is just a bit more of it. I stood there, ready to go, kind of wishing I had just stayed in bed and ate the Ben & Jerry's I left in the hotel freezer. Kelsey ran back to the car to get some shot blocks to stuff in the pockets of my untested new handheld bottles. I hadn't run in over a week, and had no idea if my Achilles' would ache in the very first steps of the race. I fiddled with my headlight. It was on upside down. My KT tape was already falling off. Time to go.

The first mile of the race is the usual conga line of people who don't know where they should be in the crowd. The rock-laden trail in the dark is tough without the addition of 130 people tripping over themselves. Thankfully, there is a a bit of flatness before the trail turns upward where we could even it out.

The first climb felt incredible and I settled into a groove pretty early on. Walking where I had to, jumping from rock to rock, running where I could. I knew I had a long day ahead, but was enjoying my first long, sustained, technical climb in quite a while. Other than being rockier, it reminded me of the local peaks in Boulder. I was treated to a sunrise I'll never forget as I crested the rim and turned my headlight off. The descent would carry me pretty much to the first AS(I think) It was technical and lined with sharp sagebrush, but it added to the weird, masochistic fun of running on rough terrain. Being on trails this technical made me glad I grew up on trails riding dirtbikes and snowmobiles. Letting your mind and eyes look 20-30 feet ahead of you while your body is over the terrain you saw a few seconds ago is the key to enjoying a run like this. I was having the time of my life, grinning all by myself.

I saw Kelsey at the next aid, and wanted to tell her how much fun I was having, that I loved our life, and that having her there meant the world to me. What I actually said was probably unintelligible nonsense. Time to start another climb.
Gracefully truffleshuffling into the first AS. 
The rhythm of this course just felt good. Feeling fresh enough to clear the rocks and logs in one jump made me glad I beat my legs up on the roads and in the gym. I felt like it was paying off. The rain started, and I welcomed it because my heat training was nonexistent. It couldn't have been over 45 degrees, and I felt hot, drinking two water bottles in 8 miles. I learned quickly not to touch any of the wooden erosion barriers with my feet as the slick surface would have me on my ass in no time. Jumping all the way over was the way to go. The second section of the course had less climbing and was a bit less technical, and gave me a good break before the hardest and longest part.

I jogged into the next AS, and there stood Kelsey with my rain jacket. I wasn't sure if I would even see her at this spot, and I was cold. She was a sight for sore eyes. I put  the rain jacket on and she stuffed handfuls of Swedish fish in the pockets. As we stood under the tent and I stuffed my mouth with everything in sight, hail started bouncing off the roof and making a hellacious noise that drowned out everything else. I looked at her and laughed, and she pulled my hood up over my head while, in her own way, telling me to get going. I obliged, and headed out into the best run I'd ever had.

The hood of my synthetic Columbia Peak2Peak Jacket(Columbia sent it for review 3 years ago and I still love it) amplified the sound of the hail hitting me. The absence of hair on my legs(so the tape would stick, is my excuse) amplified the stinging. I felt like I was running to get out of a storm, but I was actually running right into one. I kept running up the unending hill, and the mud kept getting deeper. I made it up to the rim, and started running an actual running gait. I contemplated the importance of challenge in our lives, and realized that something else was just as important- being in one's element. I was on an exposed ridgeline in a hailstorm, running a boulder-covered trail with frozen skin and tiny shorts over my ass. I couldn't see very far in front of me when the wind picked up. Ice pulled on the hair of my face as I smiled to myself.  All was right with my world for the first time in a while. The howling wind and driving hail extinguished my own negativity. Sometimes I can't stop talking myself down in my head, but not then. I felt like I deserved to be where I was. It's hard to love the world when you've got no love for yourself, and for some reason I found some up there.
Coming in for the "finish." I loved this run. 
The race was called off by management at mile 33 or so at the Fish Hatchery AS. The flooding of the creeks, coupled with the unseasonably cold weather, presented some real danger for participants and staff. I felt great, right down to my puffy ankle, but had nothing to prove. I respected the decision of race management, and would hate to see anyone die because of some egotistical ultrarunners(myself included) who demand the full course. I was 17th overall, but I guess that's unimportant since we were all "just about to start pushing it." Having Kelsey as a pacer to push me for the final miles would have been ideal, but I wanted to hop in the car with her and go check out more of our new home.
Without her crewing, I'd have been half-naked, hungry, and frozen. 
In Other News

Though we didn't know it when we started planning this trip, it had far more purpose than a remote race in the Tonto National Forest. It was perfectly timed for some exploring, seeing the city of Flagstaff, exploring the campus at NAU, and doing some apartment hunting. In August, it will be our home. Kelsey and I will be attending Northern Arizona University in the fall. I can't express how excited and grateful I am for this opportunity, and for it working out the way it did.

What's a trip to Arizona without a visit to the Grand Canyon? I only ran for 6.5 hours, so I wasn't too beat up and we wanted to run in warm weather. It's been said over and over, but it needs to be seen in person to appreciate. I think this run rivaled the Zane Grey experience in many ways and surpassed it in others. Amazing sights, sunshine, that cool jelly-legged post race feeling, and an easy run on a trail the likes of which I've never seen. We had nothing to do and nowhere to go for a day, and we were here. I'm thankful for everything and everyone that led me here.

Look. It's me. In person. Appreciating it.
Photo Credit: Kelsey Gray
Another Kelsey iPhone photo.

Photo courtesy: wise old man


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Is Trail Running Becoming Too Commercialized?

The question of the month. Kind of vague. Trail running, or trail racing? Does "commercialized" mean "mainstream" in this context? I'll answer it the way I answer most questions, which involves a long-winded thought, fraught with indecision.

"What brand of shoes do you wear?"

"How do you like that hydration pack?"

"Do compression socks work?"

"Did you hear that Kilian is the 'Adventurer of the Year?'"

"I heard Tahoe went to a lottery this year."

The topics up for discussion in the world of trail running seem to be limitless. A sport that boasts simplicity and a nature-oriented mindset is being consumed by commercialism and taken over by the elite capitalist class.

Corporate money-grubbing is clearly ruining MY sport.


...isn't it?

Of course it is. It's everywhere you look. Our beloved sport is little more than a market for the world's elite to peddle their goods to those who will pay for them.  It's just getting way too commercial. We used to be a bunch of running hobos(who could, like, afford plane tickets and entry fees and stuff). What went wrong?

more commercial corporate stuff.
Companies and their advertising dollars are bastardizing our hobby. Their blatant hijacking of my trail-running bliss has me thinking about switching to a pastime that hasn't been pillaged by greed.

Look at this crap. Sell-outs.


If you haven't stopped reading this yet, you're probably picking up what I'm laying down. Money and commercialism are part of the sport, but participation in that part is more optional than we realize. As long as the ads stay in the magazines and off of the trails, I don't care. In this writer's(I use that term loosely) opinion, the sport of trail running is going the way of triathlon. Buy more crap. Get faster. qualify for that spot in that race so your co-workers will be impressed on Monday. Spend money on what the pros get for free. Beg and pray for spots in coveted, overrated races. To be candid, I think it can be fun. I like feeling important once in a while. A little pageantry never hurt anyone. I like cool gear and big races. If you've never, ever done a large event with photographers and finish line swag, then judge away. If you have, then you know what I mean. This is by no means the sole reason for my running, but if it's yours, I truly wish you the best. Jay-Z says it best: "what you eat don't make me sh*t."

It doesn't have to be this way. We don't have to fret over "our" sport going a direction we don't like. We don't have to govern everything. Let the hipsters get the eye-rolls when they say they were trail running before it was cool. Think of what you want your runs to mean to you. Make it happen.

I randomly chose some pictures for this post from a file I lazily named, "running pics." Just arbitrary shots from the crappy point-and-shoot camera I seldom remember to bring along, these images are what I think of at work or school while fantasizing about a weekend on the trails. They're fairly average views of popular running regions. Out on the trail, commercialism plays a small role. Our gear gets us where we want to go safely, and that's all. Money doesn't matter out there.

From here, I can't tell if trail running has gotten too commercialized.

The question, again, is "is trail running becoming too commercialized?" Maybe it is. More importantly, maybe we are. Instead of worrying about what shoe companies, race management, and corporate sponsors have to say about trail running, we have to ask ourselves what it means to us. It means more to me than the new models of trail shoes that are coming out or which races have the biggest prize(not that a slacker like me needs to concern himself with that).  Nature offers us a way to disconnect ourselves from the synthetic stresses of life that our bodies still haven't adapted to yet. For me, friendships have been forged, scars have been earned, and stories have been made to be told too many times. It can be as commercial as it wants. All I have to do is turn off my computer and find a trailhead. Let races be a chance to mingle and push yourself. Let your training runs be time with people you like in a place you like. It's your sport, not theirs. Enjoy it, have a sense of stewardship, and love the trails.

Advertise all you'd like. I've got everything I need.
(pacing Kelsey Gray, TNF EC 50 mile, 2013)


I'm submitting this blog, so...here's this.





Sunday, April 6, 2014

Week Ending 4/6

Monday
6 miles. Typical post long run hobble. Nothing in particular hurt, but I felt blah as I took a 4.5 mile route to the SRC. Upon entering the weight room, I saw it was packed. I couldn't even see any weights or benches in the sea of people. I've gotten pretty good at controlling panic attacks in crowds, but I saw no need to go in. I did the next best thing and jogged to Pita Pit.

Tuesday
6 miles. Dammit. I'm fatigued. I guess it's what I wanted this week, to actually feel like I've been training. Getting a "big" week off to a slow start is frustrating, but nothing new. A couple miles to the football statdium, and 15 minutes of robust repeats of the bleachers. They are called bleachers because they are typically uncovered, and therefore susceptible to fading from the Sun. Look at that. You may have just learned something from me. 

The feeling I had on this run was reminiscent of days when I felt like crap all the time. Warm ups and cool downs used to feel long and laborious, making my joints ache and muscles twinge. I just went along with it, thinking it was all part of the process of getting better and depussifying myself. It very well may have been, but I've grown acustomed to feeling good on runs. Since I'm performing nearly as well as I used to when I was consumed by running, it makes me curious. Did I develop a base that I'm still drawing from, or have I learned to train smarter? If life has taught me anything, it's a combination of both. The subtle nuances we pick up on every second of every day make us better in tiny increments. I get a little smarter every day, but I must get equally lazier to balance it out.

Wednesday
5 miles: Easy jog to the gym, where I did 20 minutes of incline running and then lifting. Again, crowds.

Thursday
Another day of being inexplicably tired and lazy.

Friday
4 miles home from Gazelle carrying my sweet swag bag for the Kal Haven Trail Run. I'm excited to run a flat 34 miler tomorrow. I'm excited. I'm excited... Fuck.

I need a long run to feel confident for Zane Grey. It's in no way a similar course or experience, but it will serve a specific purpose. Kelsey and I want to run the course in about 5 hours. Whether flat, mountainous, hot or cold, it's a (relatively, compared to a sub-marathon race) lower intensity beating for a long duration. It's boring. I'm sure to chafe and get blisters. It will hurt and seem pointless while I try to talk myself into being in a good mood. A gel can bring you back from a shuffle or make you puke all over the trail. A mile will seem like three, and I'll swear we passed that sign already. In a way, it's a definitive ultramarathon. I've done some beautiful races in great company, but running 50 miles is just plain boring sometimes. We do it for the thrilling moments among the mundane. To get from A to B. If a kinesthetic experience can be enjoyed on a "rail trail."   If you need breathtaking views and well-known trails you read about on irunfar, you're faking it.

A flat, nontechnical trail to train for "the toughest 50 miler in the US?" not ideal. Why are hills and technical terrain great for training? The variety prevents injury and reduces impact(among other benefits, but I'm trying to talk positively to myself if you don't mind). We are looking to stress our bodies to force adaptation, then why not pound away?

4 more miles after dinner on the Arboretum Trail. Sort of a tempo effort with mostly sub-7minute miles.

Saturday
33.5 miles: Kal Haven Trail Ultra with Kelsey. We hated it. Okay, in many ways, I did hate it, but it was cool. I don't really admit to being a mountain snob, or even a trail snob, but a flat trail that is essentially straight and level from beginning to end is borderline masochistic. Though decidedly boring and repetitively injurious, I got what I wanted from the run. I spent 5.5ish hours on my feet(far longer than any of my training runs of late), I got a little refresher of what ultras feel like, and I spent some time outside. Kelsey hammered out her first long run in approximately six months and took 2nd place in the Women's race. I love running with her, so if there's anyone that can make a purgatory-like running experience enjoyable, it's her.

In more frustrating news, I write this with a swollen, bruised cankle. I'm assuming the rubbing of the heel collar of my shoe over the time on the course is what did the damage. Time for some damage control in the form of NSAIDs, ice, rest, and wishful thinking. I'm confident that it won't have a lasting effect, but it's frustrating nonetheless.

Saturday
Hobbling about. No jogging. Everything feels completely recovered, other than the achilles. Increased swelling and bruising. The good thing is that it seems to be an acute injury and not a chronic one. One of the warmest, most beautiful spring days yet, and I've sidelined for the first time in a while. I went up North to visit my family and enjoy some Sun before going back to the grind.

58.5 miles in total. Meh.



Monday, March 31, 2014

End of March

Monday
6 miles: 2 miles to the Rec. After 20 minutes of waiting for a treadmill, I hopped on for my 30 minutes of allotted cardio. There were three people walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes, each of them reading a book. I feel like a prick, but...come on.

Anyway, 2x15 minutes at 15% incline. Long hills are weird. My legs and lungs burn. Sweat runs off of me onto the treadmill belt. I huff and puff and grunt and gross things happen. I get light-headed. I shut it down, and feel fine 10 minutes later. My guess is that the pace being generally slower than running(if I can hold a 10min/mile pace, I feel pretty good), and utilizing a shuffle stride doesn't actually hurt the body too much, but gives the lungs a beating.  I'll try to get myself to the gym this month for longer climbs...maybe.

Followed up by 2x15 of weighted lunges to give the simulation of the eccentric contraction of downhill running. Upper body exercises after that. All the gym time this winter must be giving me a complex. I feel like a scrawny, pale, lopsided distance runner compared to bunch of fit people.

Tuesday
5 miles: The only jogging for the day was two trips to the library to print things. Though only a 10 minute jog, running as a means of transportation(and avoiding parking tickets) is fun when I have time. I'll be honest. I always have time.

Wednesday
9 miles: I set out for an easy hour, then decided to go to the track instead. It was sunny and the track is tucked out of the wind for the most part, so it felt less cold. 6x800 with 200m jog recovery. I decided to shoot for 3:00 per rep, but ended up sneaking them all in under 2:50 and the last one under 2:40. 20 minutes of a short hill loop after that, mostly because my legs still felt fine. My mind is thinking it's spring, but winter won't let go, as is evident by the frozen puddles on the sidewalk.

Thursday
7 miles: Meandered to the SRC for some incline running and weights. I've been unorganized this week(shocking), so I haven't had much of a plan for resistance or speed training. On the jog to the rec center I decided just to do 30 minutes of continuous climbing at a slow as hell pace. Going really slow was kind of embarrassing at first, I admit. People would have to look past my purple shoes, dumb shorts, and sort of baggy v-neck shirt to notice that I was sweating my ass off at 15 min/miles for 30 minutes. The 15% incline is less evident. First 15 minutes at 15min/mile pace, next 10 minutes at 11min/mile, then speeding up to a 9-10min pace for the last few minutes. Easing into it felt great. After that, a short and feeble bout of leg press, shoulder press, lunges/curls, and leg lifts. blah blah blah I exercise, I'm so special.

Friday
I either ran for 30 minutes, or I just said I did. I can't remember. Ifelt gross and nauseous all day,

Saturday
am: 10 miles with Kelsey. Stupid shitty goddamn snow all the time. A road loop. I still enjoyed it. She and I don't get to run together much these days, so I'm really grateful for it.

pm: 7ish miles. 2 to the rec, and 45 minutes of 15% on the treadmill. A slow pace(which got more and more difficult to sustain) for 1200m, and an 85-90% effort for the remaining 400m of each mile. Squats, one-legged deadlifts, lunges, chest press and rows after.

Sunday
am: 20 miles. Met with Jeremiah in Grand Rapids. 18 around town, then 2 back at the house. Even got a stroller pushing mile with his son yelling "faster, faster!" First day of nice weather.

pm: 6 miles. A real recovery run. Just under an hour of running in the grass at the IM fields, some stair repeats, and barefoot running at the track. As is usual for the first days of wonderful weather, there were joggers everywhere. Pretty cool to see people outside appreciating a beautiful day. I tried not to think about tomorrow's return to a climate-controlled, sterile, windowless factory.

Total: 70 miles. One more week of this kind of volume, then it's taper time.


Monday, March 24, 2014

A Slight Increase

Training is starting to intensify in my 11th hour attempt to get fit for Zane Grey. This isn't an incredibly interesting read(is it ever?), but at least people can see this after April 26th and say, "no wonder he died in the Mogollon Rim."

Monday
4 miles + weights: A fairly standard loop around campus. I wore my super thin Merrell Vapor Gloves to see if my gait has gone to shit from wearing the Adios, a clunker in comparison. No jarring or bone smashing to speak of. After that, a simple weight workout with a heavy backpack. Lunges, squats, push-ups, curls, shoulder press. I questioned the efficacy of something so simple, but I write this 24 hours later with sore everything.

Tuesday
10 miles: 1:20. I didn't really know where I was going, then a guy at a stoplight, also jogging, started talking to me about jogging of all things. We decided to get an easy hour of running in together since neither of us knew exactly which route to run. Meeting random people is fun. I then did approximately 50 sit-ups in a row and made cookies.

Wednesday
26.2 miles: Had a work cancellation, so I decided to run a marathon. A sort of hilly, cold, rainy, solo road marathon. I still have no real desire to run the trails. They're either impassable, vulnerable to erosion, or both. I mapped out a route that happened to be 13.1 miles from my door to an intersection in the middle of nowhere. It featured a winding road, some rolling hills, and a few bodies of water to capture my gaze as I shuffled by. I reached my turnaround point in 1:35(no stopping the watch for intersections), and pondered the idea of negative splitting it to go under 3 hours for a marathon. The jog out was relatively easy, so I figured it was possible. I stopped my watch, ate a banana, and drank the rest of one water bottle. I was wearing my Ultraspire Spry vest with another bottle in the pocket. With no way to know my real-time pace, I just ran comfortably hard to see if it looked possible to make it back in under 3. I fucked up and didn't re-start my watch after a traffic light(the pressure of having a time goal made me more obsessive about a real time), so no official time for me. The watch said 2:52 when I wheezed up to the door of the apartment building. If only I could remember what those two songs were on the radio and add their times up...or I could just not care. I chose to not care and go buy an absurd amount of food from Qdoba.
I felt good for the most part, but being cold and wet and tired made me want
to sit in this old (and probably haunted) chair and wait for spring.

This is my longest run in quite some time. I'd be concerned because of it only being 3 hours, but if I'm going to adhere to the idea that quality matters more than quantity, then I'll have to put the insecurity aside. I've got a couple 4+ hour jaunts in the next few weeks. That should suffice. I think.

Thursday
4 miles+ weights. One of the more intense sessions in the weight room. One-legged deadlifts, weighted lunges, chest press, calf raises, alternating row push-ups with dumbbells, and various yoga-ish core exercises that look totally masculine and graceful at the same time, I'm sure.

Friday
6 miles: 3 miles with Kelsey and Cohen around campus. A couple hours later I thought I'd try out the trails. They sucked, as expected. Sliding around is kind of fun, but sinking every couple steps got old pretty quickly. The snow/ice is still well over a foot thick in most spots. 3 miles and I called it a day.

Saturday
18 miles: with Evan and Ephraim around GR. I felt the previous miles of the week accumulating in my legs, but still managed to hang as we ran around and outside of town. Still amazed at how time goes by quickly with good company. I don't think I'd still be running without the help of my friends. It's not a team sport, but doing it alone kind of sucks.

Sunday
Rest day.

68 miles is enough for the week, given the drastic increase in volume. I'll try to rest so that I can put more quality in in a few days. With a very unofficial marathon PR and no nagging injuries to speak of, I feel that I'm fortunate and shouldn't push it. I don't feel exhausted, sick of running, or hate my life, so I'm probably not training hard enough. Flights and hotels are all booked for the journey, so there's no going back now.

Whenever I go to publish this training log, I wonder why I'm doing it. I started a blog to write reviews and race reports to practice writing. My life, motivation, and overall outlook have changed since then, but this seldom-read journal remains. I remembered why I started running in the first place. Running, with its associated enjoyment, friendships, travel, and personal growth, has changed me for the better. One good change lead to another, and I've become a happier person. The logging of miles is no stroke of genius, but it helps keep me on track and fill the gaps between times of inspiration.