Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Week Pissed Away...But Not Wasted

0 miles- Took it easy. Raked the yard and felt unmotivated. Spent more time planning the week instead of forcing myself to run. I think it was for the best

AM- 3 miles. Just chilled out in the rain and jogged easy. Felt like it was the start of something good. An honest to goodness relaxed three. It's been a while. The shakeout is important. Too slow is just as bad as too fast. If we do them with partners, its not automatically the speedy one's fault.

PM- 7 miles. 3 miles easy on the rolling hills of the ski trails, then made my way over to the dunes. 6 good, hard climbs. They weren't super long, but I about tipped over at the top. As I did the first climb, I turned around to see the entire shoreline illuminated by lightning. It was quite dark at only 4:30pm. I would like to have done 8 repeats, but an excuse presented itself when lightning hit the beach and I nearly shit my hot pants. Time to go! Ducked back into the trees and did a couple miles at home.

0.00 miles(for those of you using the metric system, this is roughly 0.0 kilometers) Fail and a half on the training front. To kick off the day, I overslept by two hours. After I got a text from Ryan, we headed off to haul a few cord of wood for some "family" friends. I'd gladly trade any standard day of joggin' to know that an elderly couple has enough firewood to last a winter. Still a good day outside lifting and building some monstous muscles! I saw a vein in one arm pop out and everything. Nutritionally the day was also a deliciously wonderful clusterf**k. Burgers, bottomless fries, and 3 root beer floats...and that was just lunch. Can't lie, it was a good day.

Nearly a full day of slacking and not doing much. Attempted to study at 3 different places. Capped off a full day of wasting daylight with an evening of debauchery. Up until 4am.

Track workout 12 miles total.
3.5 mile jog to East Grand Rapids High School's track. Some strides and warmup jogging. Evan and I decided to stick with an easy pace just to get used to some leg speed and ease into doing weekly track sessions. As per the classic advice of our former coach G Dales, we just stuck with 6:00min/mile pace and stayed comfy. Of the 4 800s I was leading, I was within 1 second of target pace without the use of a watch. At least I have a sense of pace. 8x800 @ 3:00 - 200 meter jog as rest. Return trip home of 3.5 miles. The pace on the track felt nearly effortless. It was a great confidence booster and intro to pacework. Rather than attempting 5:30 pace and risk destroying ourselves, we just got a feel for a comfortable pace and got a good baseline for further workouts.

Saturday and Sunday
The weekend can be lumped into one day because of the amount of running done. Hint: the number can be drawn with a compass. My knee had a strange shooting pain that I haven't experienced in a while. The week was a wash with regard to mileage anyway, so resting seemed reasonable.

Impromprtu Halloween shenanigans necessitated a 40 minute costume creation.
I was the best damned chalupa at the Block Party. Girls dressed like strippers and watered down liquor.
Halloween is fun in adulthood, provided you can create a cool costume.

My week was absolute garbage in comparisson to what I have planned. I had a big line of bullshit prepared about how having an actual coach of my own would help motivate me, then I would follow that up with suggesting you get an online coach, planting a seed for when I get my ACSM certification(see what I would have done there? I'm an evil genius). No, it was indeed a combination of laziness, circumstance, and...well, laziness I guess. So what.

2:30am. Hittin' the mother lode in my chalupa costume.

I'll aim for a better week of running this time. Maybe some snow will come along and freshen things up around here.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Coaching Ourselves: getting organized

Life has been getting to me lately. When running is good, life seems to follow suit. I realize it's a bit unhealthy to define ourselves by our hobbies, but that's not what I'm getting at. What I'm trying to show myself(and since I insist on materializing every obsessive-compulsive thought I have on this blog, all 4 of my readers as well) that diligence, planning, passion, and tenacity can be metastatic- let them into one aspect of your life and they'll start to carry over. Like a disease, but, like, the opposite.

Since returning from Colorado, life has been a bit underwhelming. I expected post-college life to kind of fall into place. Job offers should have been pouring in, a cheap place to live should have presented itself, and my hobby as an ultrarunner should have exploded into a lucritive career full of trophies, cocaine, and only the highest class prostitutes, courtesy of whichever shoe company was vying for my input on shoes.

I realized that college is the ultimate sanctuary for those who like their paths laid out for them. Though I loved it, it's time to start making my own way. Just...umm...gotta figure out how to do that. Following my own aforementioned logical-ish, inappropriate cancer analogy, I'll start with a few changes and hope to catch a fire under my growing and sedentary ass.

I'm tired of sleeping until 11am every day(editorial confession: it's actually awesome, but unproductive). I have an exam to prepare for(Anybody going to want some online or in-person coaching in the future?), chores to do, and dreams to chase down. A little life restructuring is just what I need.
I've decided to objectively look at myself as the recreational athlete I am, and apply my knowledge to myself as a client. Here are my goals for the remainder of the week:

Client 0: Weekly plan
Rest and do chores: The last week of training was good to me, but the weekend consisted of a long run and a speedier effort back to back. A day off will help me start the week off fresh. ACSM books came in the mail, so I'll start studying and take a day off running. Raking leaves will provide a little core work and help me pull my weight around the house(yes, I live with my parents).
(editorial confession: I had the idea for this post while raking leaves. I planned on running today, but the lack of direction that inspired me to write this is to blame for not running. I feel it's for the best in the grand scheme).

Double runs
AM: 3 easy miles. Run in as little shoe as possible on an easy out and back from home. No regard to pace, just shake off the cobwebs from the previous day's laziness. Walk if knee pain appears.

PM: 7 miles. Dunes. 3 mile warmup, then 6-8 dune repeats at the State Park. 2 mile easy jog on  the beach to cool down.

Double easier runs
AM: 4 miles: Shakeout the previous day's workout.
PM: 8 miles: Start easy, build to a faster pace, cool down the last mile

AM: 2 miles easy. Run to the bridge and back
PM: 8 miles. Meet up with the Joggas and run the loop at the park. Push pace on uphills.

6 miles. Ease into it on the first two miles, then do fartlek for the next three. Cool down on last mile.

15 easy on the bike path. Run to the lighthouse. Enjoy it and don't feel the legs

7 on the trails. Just relax. It's sunday

And there we have it. My weekly prescription for myself. It looks different than my weekly log. Is that a good thing? It's not overly technical, but by design. I'm slowly trying to reintroduce more quality into my regimen, but baby steps are necessary.

Let's see how it goes. I'll have the actual log up at the end of the week for comparisson. It's all for the sake of experimentation and getting something going.

Just a few feet from a 16th place finish at the Pike's Peak Marathon. The good ole days.
I was in decent shape just a couple months ago.
I think the layoff was a blessing. I'm realigned and I feel like my priorities are back in order:
Work hard to get the most out of life.

Nothin' Better to Do

11 miles - A slow, easy jog around the State Park. Ran the perimeter to coax more mileage out of myself. Ski trails, deer paths, dunes, roads, beach, boardwalk. It was quite a serene experience, quietly running without a soul around for an hour and a half. The fall color has peaked, and the trails demand a little more attention to keep from stepping on roots now that they're completely covered. Pace was ridiculously easy, but I was just watching my watch, insisting on hitting 10 miles. This keeps me on my feet for a while and encourages me to take difficult routes up hills and slogging up the backsides of dunes.  Since mountains aren't in my immediate future, I think I'll start working more dune climbs into my training...once I start actually training.
The "Block House"

OK, so Michigan isn't that awful. It's hilly over here.

Running on the beach helps me to run with power once in a while instead of grace.

Running up dunes is exhausting.

Channel walkway, North side

8 miles - Couldn't get into a comfortable pace. My legs started hurting almost as soon as they felt warmed up, so I just turned around and headed home. Garmin read an 8min/mile pace average, but the actual running pace was all over. Oh well, motivation was waning anyway. I wish I didn't find roads so boring.

6 miles - 43 degrees, rain, and wind. It took some mental work to get out to the park today. Slow, easy run, but powered up the hills and dunes. One downside to rain gear is that it turns wet, leaf covered hills into a slip n' slide. It was a good test for my Columbia Peak 2 Peak Jacket. It actually is waterproof! Review to come. I've decided to shoot for 50 miles or so this week. Not aggressive, but steady progress.

9 miles - Flattest. Run. Ever. A mostly gravel road loop from my house. Ran in the rain and wind, but it was still pretty enjoyable. Kept a pretty even pace at about 7:20 once I warmed up. It was really enjoyable to finish a run and want to keep going. Rather than continuing on and finding myself wishing I was done, I headed in and kept the legs fresh.

4 miles - Caught a few hobbyjoggin' miles as the sun went down. Somehow spent a whole day doing nothing and crammed a run in before dinner. At least I did something...right? One benefit was that My knee had a twinge of pain mid run. Why is this good? It supports my theory that being sedentary, not active, is to blame for my knee pain(and muscle imbalance that seems to have caused it). Maybe it ought to be called "sitter's knee" rather than "runner's knee."

22 miles - Met up with Dr. C. for some frosty miles at Pigeon Creek. 2 loops in the trails, 1 loop on the big, flat country block, and another loop on the trail. The GPS clocked us at a 7:45 pace. JC hasn't run that fast and I haven't run that far in a while, so we were both pleased. No knee pain at the end of the run, but a bit in the middle miles. Having a partner for a long run is, most times, a huge blessing for me. In this area, multiple loops are essential to doing a long trail run. When I plan on doing one solo, the temptation is too great to "stop by the car a minute," which can often result in checking my phone, then feeling my legs get tight and calling it a day. This run was different, and I was glad to have stuck it out for a change.

6 miles - Met up with Evan at the Dirty Herd Fall Classic. We both decided to warm up, run the 2 mile, and cool down. We are both experiencing a bit of a "lapse in shredability," so we used the 2 mile as a way to jump start what I hope is a reintroduction to speedwork. The course at Robinette's is a somewhat technical mountain bike loop. What did I learn?

I'm incredibly out of shape.

Though Evan and I were first and second place, I ran a pedestrian time at best and felt winded. I think the pace worked out to a 7:15. What kind of bum runs 30 seconds faster than long run pace and feels terrible? This marks the first time that I've noticed such a stark decline in fitness. I'll blame some of it on the long run the previous day.

 I returned from Pikes Peak weighing 140lbs. I now weigh 160lbs. I'm a bit ashamed that I'm surprised. Maintaining "calories in" while drastically scaling back on "calories out" doesn't usually bode well.

A total of 66 miles this week. Wasn't overly strenuous and didn't hurt anything, so steady as she goes.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


AM-8 miles at Hoffmaster with Ryan. Near perfect running weather as the better part  of fall starts to make its exit.

PM-2 miles down the gravel road and back just for the sake of a double.

AM- 7 miles at Muskegon State Park. The weather was perfect and I ran all the singletrack I normally can't even find.

AM-1hr 10m. Call it 8 miles. Ran around the state park, climbed some sand dunes, and ran on the beach.
PM- cut, split, and stacked wood, then went for a 14 mile bike ride with Sam.

AM-11 miles at Cannonsburg SGA with Evan. Burritos and debauchery to follow. Evan and I run similar race times, but he always seems to train at a higher intensity. Glad I have friends to drag me along when I'm feeling lazy.

7 miles - Very relaxed and focused on form over speed. Relaxed the legs and focused on just swinging the elbows back, not crossing the midline with my hands. Extended my usual easy loop by a couple miles, thinking it was a bit longer. I just sort of let the miles flow and let the speed come without feeling my legs. Shorter than planned, but faster as well. I brought the Garmin for the occasional obligatory checkup. Splits went a little something like this: 7:54, 7:03, 6:43, 6:43, 6:32, 6:15, 8:30 cooldown. Started to have a twinge of shin pain from compensating for the bum knee, so I headed home.

I tried to get a few shots of me running to see if I'm still favoring my right knee.
Seems to be flexing normally.

...but the thousand words a picture is worth is still hard to go by.
Saturday and Sunday
0 miles. I wasn't even hurting, but just caught in the general malaise that seems to be plaguing me since returning home. My body(knee specifically) is feeling increasingly better, and now I seem to be experiencing more mental struggle to get my ass in gear. Maybe it's a positive mechanism for the time being, one to keep me from rushing back into higher mileage. If I can keep moving most days of the week, and manage a monthly long run of marathon distance or greater, I should be able to maintain or at least prevent a further decline in health.

Total: 41 miles and some cross training. It's not much, but it's a hell of a lot better than what I've been doing. I'm thinking I'll shoot for steady improvement.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Altered State of Consciousness

Exercisers, drug users, movie goers, kids spinning around in circles. People seeking the same ends by different means. Altering one's state of mind using external factors is human nature. Laws soiled me on drugs, the Green Lantern soiled me on movies, and projectile vomitting keeps me from hopping on the tilt-a-whirl.

Occasionally I'll get up early and go for a run(just for reference, unemployed early is about 9am). I'll go without breakfast and bring a cup of coffee for the car ride to the park. The issue that arises is that a couple miles into the run, I get blurry vision and become incrdibly sleepy. The leaves turn into a colorful blur and the ground whizzes by. It really sucks for quality workouts, but in theory it could help becoming familiar with the "runner's low" and promote slowing down and taking in the scenery. I sat at the top of one of the highest hills in the park. It has a clearing on the top so that Lake Michigan is in view to the West, the Autumn trees to the North, East, and South. I sat there, a bit dizzy and sweating profusely, feeling like I'm on top of the world.

Solid training? Safest thing to do? Something anybody should try? Not really.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Funk if I Know

I'm in a funk to end all funks. Injury, being back home, lack of anything to do, no races set in the schedule. What we have here is a loss of momentum.

This is the first time in my life that I feel less fit than I was a year ago. A year ago this month, I won a 50miler, tied for first in a 50miler, and qualified for Boston by 15 minutes. Now...not so much. I'm surely overreacting, but knowing I have to work hard just to return to my previous state is a pain. I refer you the case of the itsy bitsy spider.

As bummed out as I was, things are starting to look up on the movement front. I've found that once I can start moving about and running at a decent level, life starts to fall into place. I'm back to either running twice daily or a combinaiton of running and exercising(usually cutting, hauling, and splitting firewood or biking). Knee pain is at a minimum as long as I don't overdo it and listen to my body. Even the slight increase in activity has caused my diet to improve, despite my recent accidental discovery of Taco Bell's Chalupa. That ode deserves its own blog post.

I've got a few things brewing career wise, but am also considering dropping back into college for the umpteenth time, getting my Master's and putting off full adulthood a bit longer.

Life's still up in the air, but that's better than being at rock bottom.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Things to do with a lonely 2.5 hour layover in a decidedly uncrowded airport:

(Im aware that this is not all that clever.)

Ride the moving floor in a circle for 25 minutes.

Wait until nobody is on, then go the wrong way on aforementioned moving floor.

Eat spaghetti covered in chili for breakfast.

Enjoy being up in time for McDonald’s breakfast(yes, two breakfasts. Nobody is around long enough to judge you or care).

Read an article in a magazine until asked “you gonna buy anything?” Go next door to other news stand, continue reading article.

Shop for jewelry. Pretend to have money.

Say the classic Seinfeld line “I like to stop at the duty free shop” to the person next to you.

This isn’t the way I normally act in public. Apparently its ok to check your common sense with your bags at the aeropuerto.

They (TSA) took my leave in conditioner, so I had to count my afro as a carry on when the humidity turned up.

I bet the whole world looks like this when we finally fuck the air up bad enough. Entire cities in a little bubble.

Ever see that film adaptation of the Stephen King book “the Langoliers?”

Just saw a guy in a blue polyester suit. Appears to be an Indian Eric Estrada impersonator. Seriously, he looks cool. I’m not even cool enough to wear one polyester garment at a time.

The only things on me right now that don’t fall into the “swag” category are my socks…and they have holes in them.

If I had Twitter account I’d be blowin’ that bitch up right now.

Will wifi ever just kind of hang in the ether for us to use freely? Electricity is free. They don’t charge for water or toilet flushes. Who knows which way that scale will tip.

Does anyone talk to anyone here? I must look creepy sitting here smiling and shit.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Partial Return to Running and Other News

I'd like to say I'm back, but it wouldn't be entirely accurate. I'm running enough to keep anxiety, man boobs, and unemployment-induced depression at arm's length, albeit rather unsuccessfully. Though rest has been the only semblance of medical advice I've obtained for the low, low price of $400 dollars, It's done no good. Days off yield as much pain as days on. I've become only an occasional trail runner, but hitting the roads every day to try to maintain some fitness. Once some money comes in, I'm heading to physical therapist Scott Hadley to expedite the healing process. I'd love to do a long winter ultra to redeem myself for the shit show at Hallucination this year.

In Other News:
The break from trail running(and sanity) came in the form of the New York City Barefoot Run weekend, where I took a little break from thinking about ultras and discussed running's present and future with some great minds on the running scene. Well-known magazine staff, medical professionals, elite athletes, and run bloggers were coralled into the basement of the Ace Hotel in New York for a round table discussion. This put my mind at ease - I was slightly suspicious that a poser like me would be just valuable and fast enough to be hunted by one of New York's status seeking socialites for sport(there's a good Jean-Claude Van
Damme Movie on the subject). What ended up ensuing was enlightening on many levels. It reinforced me to pursue excellence in a world of mediocrity. I realized that passion for something trumps "natural ability." We have to stop listening to those who attempt to keep us confined by expectations and assumed standards. More importantly, I've learned that I need a sexy sugar momma to support my desired lifestyle of travel and random physical activity! The fun I had with Jason, Shelly, Kate, Pablo, Trisha, and Christian were unforgettable. I think the best part was that we hardly ever talked about running when we were outside of the Merrell round table discussion. We acted like we'd known each other forever, when (in the case of all but Jason and Shelly, my family of travelling gypsies) we'd just met in person for the first time.

Christian Peterson, Jason Robillard, Me, Krista Cavender, Kate Kift, Trisha Reeves, Shelly Robillard
Several hours of shenanigans left to go.

Shelly, Christian, Kate, Me, Jason, Krista, and NY native Chris VanDyke sportin' the tutu.
Just after showing up 3 hours late to the Barefoot Run. Governor's Island, NY.
Merrell put this awesome event together, and I can't thank them enough for their their contribution to running and encouraging people to get outside. One of the best things I'd heard was at the beginning, when we were told to value "truth over harmony." Knowing how people truly feel is much more important than pleasing them.

Me chillin' at the round table discussion with the Merrell Crew, some staff from Running Times,
and a beer. My life ain't bad. Photo: Christian Peterson
I got to meet running world celebs like Chris McDougal and the like, but mostly in a "Hi. How are you. You won't remember me in 10 minutes" kind of way. Can't blame the guy. Class act. We were even both sporting our Branca Sandals.

It was an amazing weekend. and if I had my druthers, a sample of what my life will be like: great friends new and old, challenges of all kinds, and contributing something to get more people enjoying the outdoors. Each roundtable member was asked to contribute a song to a barefoot running playlist, one that we enjoy while we run. Here's mine:

In (Other)Other News:
I'm off to West Virginia(I think) to help Shelly crew and pace for Jason at the Grindstone 100 this weekend. Being on the disabled list has given me the opportunity to help two people who have helped me more times than I can count. Given the rough terrain, my pacing will be limited, but good times surely won't. If I do follow through with a winter ultra, I'll have to build up some major points to get Robillard's candy ass to crew for me in the tundra. This should help.

I also used my newfound urban surroundings to perfect my parkour!
Happy trails, literal or otherwise.

I feel like my blog is too serious sometimes....Fart, Tallywhacker, Kate Kift.