Monday, January 28, 2013

Back in the Saddle Sores.

Back at it. I started and abandoned several posts since the new year. Keeping this log helps me get into a groove for training, so it's time to start it back up. Since I'm sure everyone missed my nauseating combination of pseudo-deep thinking and toilet humor, I'll probably post the posts.

If anyone still reads this thing, I hope they enjoy some of it. If you like proof reading grammatical errors and run on sentences, then you, my dear reader, are welcome!

8 miles - Below 0 windchills and a few inches of snow. A beautifully frozen run that reinvigorated my desire to actually train. I'm still not 100% recovered from being sick. A fairly juicy sounding cough is still present deep down in my chest, but I'm able to cruise at my own pace. First case of beardsicles for the year. First time I've truly needed my MT110Ws and my fleece tubehat thingy.

off - Studied all day and went to work for the typical 4 hours of water rehab/exercise. I have a new group that likes to be challenged, so I crank up the intensity. Working on a bitchin' playlist of 80's montage songs for them...because I'm a douche like that.

8 miles again. Reverse loop of the monday route. Knee deep powder, right on the road. Makes for a really fun run without having to drive anywhere.

5 miles + workout classes. Cruising the woods near the house before heading to work. Nothing special, but in a way, it was. A beautiful scene with a creek, a foot of fresh snow, pines and sunshine all to myself. As I reluctantly return to running, this simple jog reminded me what it's all about. No stupid rankings on websites or FUPA-pinching belt buckles can take away what running means to me as an individual. Some get it, some don't, and that's cool. Embrace the Forrest Gump part of running.

7 miles - an hour and a half of watchless hiking/running/slogging in knee deep powder on the dunes at the State Park. Still a little sick and hella out of shape, hills are the bane of my existence...but enjoyable. Each hill made me cough a juicy cough and get a little dizzy, but I just slowed down and leaned into my kickass Black Diamond carbon fiber trekking poles(I got them for mountain running. Better get into an appropriately located grad school, eh?). Sketchy weather, blinding snow, and gorgeous views of both Muskegon Lake and Lake Michigan from the same dune. Hard to beat. I actually smiled and laughed multiple times. The love of running is coming back.

80 miles @ 1:00/mile pace. I had a slight ergogenic aid: A snowmobile. Great ride with my family.

22 miles - 3:30. Met up with Jeremiah at 6:30am for some arduous snow jogging in Grand Haven and Spring Lake. Mostly unplowed bike paths and sidewalks, with a little trudging through parks fields along the way. Not much vertical to speak of, but a great run. For us both being on a rebound(JC hasn't run more than a dozen times since November), this run felt pretty laid back for both of us. Time included a stop in the woods for a deuce, stopping at the car for water, and a break to sit in a snowbank for reasons unknown. A great way to punctuate a week of cruising in a winter world that will probably melt away as fast as it came.

Priorites and Distractions

No real posting as of late, at least not since a borderline nonsensical rant about quitting running. I write this from the community college campus, the same one I attended before going after my Exercise Science Bachelor's. I'm even taking a class that I took 4 years ago. Same room. Slightly different perspective.

I remember sitting in the lab in 2008. It was Winter. I was working 30-40 hours a week at my public works job and taking classes in hopes of transferring to WMU the following fall. I needed Basic Anatomy and Physiology to acheive that. I was taking the class to get out of town. I knew that if I stayed at my job any longer, I'd be stuck there in quiet complacency. I'd be likely to have a comfortable life, and possibly move up to a management position if I was lucky enough to stay. The job was good, but I feared settling down. I knew there was more. Actually, that's bullshit. I didn't know anything. I hoped there was more. Many warned me that there wasn't, with their own settling down. I was encouraged to follow suit. Going to a university wasn't that outlandish, so it slid under the radar.

Sitting in this lab, I remember thinking about my grades. I needed a C to pass the class and move on, and that's what I got. C+. Nobody likes a showoff. This class is the gauntlet for the would-be applicants to the school's nursing program. Other institutions seem to take it a little easier, but this is where I live. Typically an A-B student, I'm somewhat intelligent, but prone to getting by on intuition. A class that requires actual, honest study time was a bit out of my range. Arrogance of youth, right? My C+ got me on to bigger and better things. I remember professors saying that graduate schools like to see B's at the minimum. "Grad School? I'm trying to get a Bachelor's. Can I go now?"

4 years, a degree, lots of travelling, moving to Boulder and back(twice), working in Therapeutic Recreation, running up mountains, working in a foundry, and growing up just a little brought me to a realization: I'm still not ready to settle down. I'm still not done learning and growing. Shit, I'm drastically underemployed with no immediate job prospects. I couldn't afford to settle down if I had to. The Bachelor's was a stepping stone, as was my time off to run and explore other careers. Formal education is great, but I learned just as much in my time galavanting around this country. I met people that opened my eyes to the notion that I needn't feel guilty about following my heart and trusting my gut.

My gut hates the "C word." Not cunt. That one's fine. Career. To me, the word career is incredibly confining. I think of people giving up their passions and their desires for another life, one that is ever consumed by doing what they don't want to do. I know colleges say "Don't get a job! Get a Career!" but I think our society has shifted quite a bit. College no longer enusres their iteration of a career. We have to ensure that ourselves.

Anyway, here I am. Needing that B the professor warned me about. The past has come back to directly bite me in the ass, costing me about $1200 and time out of my Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. Am I embarassed or distraught? No. I think of how I've so poetically ended up "back where I started," and I see that life is a journey, but not always a linear one. I think of all I've done in these last few years, and I'm glad it went the way it did. We determine our own goals, and our own success. Letting past failures, or even worse, the negative influence of others, determine our futures is a crime against ourselves.

I'm back where I started, but I'm not who I was when I started. The goal is to get back out and move forward, but the process is what I care about now. My "career" has already started, for I'm not waiting for the paychecks to roll in to think about how I'm going to help people.

With a lot of editing, this would make sense.

Lumberjack Training: Week 1

Maybe that will be my next life crisis. No lumberjack stuff here.

Running is back on the radar. I planned on starting training New Year's day with a triumphant return to my running shoes. Then I got drunk and woke up sick. I thought it was simply a hangover, but when the aches, fever(103 at the highest, thank you), vomitting, coughing, and exhaustion continued for two and a half weeks, I surmized that I'm not capable of that level of epic partying. Sidelined with the flu before I even got started. Oh well.

I'm feeling better, and figuring out how to integrate running into a school and work schedule. The goal for the week is to hit an honest 30 miles of just cruising. The body isn't up to speedwork just yet, but a little consistency should help shake the remaining demons out and get me going. Umstead's in 3.5 months. Not planning on an epic performance any more, but I've adjusted goals.

New plan for my Spring 100: Negative Split. My last two 100s were of the rather amazing variety, and I'm proud to have finished them under their unique circumstances. They were, however, colossal failures from a performance end. I ran the first 50 miles in 10 hours for each race. Then, I crawled for 18 and 19.5 hours, respectively. To be succinct: fuck. that. noise. I'm not the type to do anything perfect the first time, and I accept that. Now it's time to experiment again. I want to run the first half slow. Too slow. Embarassingly slow. Then, I want to run faster. Nothing is as demoralizing as feeling progressively shittier, then bottoming out, then crawling it in. I've accepted that Umstead may not be a fantastic triumph from a numbers standpoint, but could be a great learning experience that will help me figure out the code for running a solid 100mile time someday. Forever a student.

Here's how the week went. Don't laugh

zero: This is my 13 hour day at school, so I let it slide on account of still coughing out what I assume is a combination of phlegm, brain matter and Taco Bell.

Three: Running literally felt foreign. very nice, but foreign. Not a single ache or pain.
Water classes as well. A new group that likes to work hard, so the intensity is up and I even get to challenge myself for one of the 4 hours.

Five: A quicker cruise around the block in the snow. Not fully healthy still. Patience is in order, I think.

No run. Couldn't scrape up the time. Class in the morning, work at night. Afternoon? Oh, I almost forgot: I'm an uncle! My sister gave birth to my new neice, Leah Kay. Spent my "run time" for the day meeting my newest relative. A perfectly healthy, 8lb baby. Definitely one of the best days of life thus far. People are born every day, but live is a wonderful thing, even in all of its crying, pooping complexity.

Two: Sickness is creeping back in, and a run helped get it out. Worked on an essay instead of running more. meh.

Fifteen: A road trip up to the VASA trail in Traverse City with Evan. 3 hour drive for a 2:15 run. I felt remarkably shitty on this run. A wiser man would have stayed home, especially knowing that Evan is faster than me on a good day. About a quarter mile into this run, we were stopped by an uppity skier, then a very polite trail groomer. No running shoes shall touch the trail in the winter. If we vowed to run the woods next to the trail, we were allowed to run the route. Instead of a speedy 40k run, we did a slow 25k slog in ankle/mid-shin deep snow, weaving in and out of trees and over logs. Once we got over the wrist-slapping, it was really enjoyable. As mentioned, I felt terrible when I pushed the pace, so I just let Evan go and he waited when he noticed I was a ways back.

zero. Slept in, didn't do much. Shoveled some snow.

25 miles for the week. In a mass email from the Umstead folks, participants were told "Good luck to each of you as you finish up these last few critical weeks of training and remember to taper." Ummmm...what?