Tuesday, May 28, 2013

4th week of may...ish.

7 miles - "Piss Cave" loop with Evan. A hilly route that took us through a long, dark, uphill tunnel, frequented by street folk with full bladders. Nice, eh? Who would miss Boulder when they have routes like the Piss Cave? Heat, humidity, 3 hours of sleep, and 3.5h of lecture makes for a pretty nasty experience. At least we felt like death together to pull each other along. 7:00-7:40 pace. Uuuuuggghhhhhh, shit.

5 miles - a nice surprise after a day in class, I had an hour to spare before going to work for the night. 40-50 minutes of trails and soft beach sand. Barefoot and khaki shorts because I had no shoes or shorts in the shaggin' wagon. Great little escape from books and bricks.

...or thursday. 22 miles with Mike and Kelsey. Started at 9:30am at Yankee Springs and ran until 2ish. Easy miles on the trails to help Kelsey get used to running trails at night with no sleep. Seems like a pretty solid run was had by all. My longest run, timewise, in quite a while. My lack of preparation had me eating candy and oranges procured from my car or a gas station. I did find a clif shot on the trail, though. Thank you, litterbug cyclists(I'm guessing).

This run gave me the itch to get back into ultras. The peace of mind that comes from the woods and good company, the relentlessness that comes from placing more emphasis on distance than speed, and the high that comes from being tired from prolonged exertion. It's not better or worse than, say, a good track workout, but quite different.

After finishing the run, riding back to Grand Haven with Mike, and driving myself back to Muskegon, I was just a few minutes shy of being up for 24 straight hours. Slept from 5-8am, then got up for a 14hour day of driving, lecture, lab, and teaching water exercise.

I seriously can't remember if I ran friday. I don't think I did. Worst blog ever. Wait...mileage isn't a function of blog quality. Wait...my mileage and blogging skillz are sucking independently of one another right now.

Samantha and I went on a tour of the USS Silversides, a WWII submarine that now resides in our hometown. Though a bit embarassing, I find that each passing year results in me realizing just how unwise my former self perpetually is. I walk through the museum and see pictures of ships, wreckage, and artillery. Alongside these pictures are photos of men and women. These are the faces of people who gave up a life of whimsical goofing around. They decided not to wait for the perfect conditions to make something of themselves, and to contribute to something they beilieved in.

I thought of memorial day parades. How I used to hate the noises and the anxiety and having to watch old cars slowly drive by. How no amount of tootsie rolls or tiny frisbees with a local realtor's face on them could make me want to stay. This year, at age 25, I finally realized: It's not about entertaining me, but about honoring them. The people who fought in wars and came back different.

7 miles with Mark and Ryan at Hoffmaster. Hills, sand, and roots, but at a pretty mellow pace. Nice jog in some cool weather.

No running today, but a 10 mile bike ride with Sam.

41 miles
A bit of a down week by design, as I knew I'd be busy with the holiday weekend. It had been about 3 weeks of "training," and I'm a fan of the "three on/one off" theory. Three weeks in the 50ish mile range, backed this one down to 40s, Then pick it back up again next week. As usual, training for this upcoming race has been full of distractions like cool long runs, school, and family. I'm happy for it, though. Training solo like a robot, doing exactly what I have planned would have a high probability of falling off the wagon. With help from friends and fun jogs to go on, I'll be better off.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

3rd Week of May

6 miles - Just a loop around home, nice and easy, then worked into a bit less shuffly pace. Flat, flat, flat. Creeped it down to a 6:30 mile without pushing it too hard. Maybe the 25k was a nice little tune up.

AM - 4 mile out/back from home. Again, started out slow(about 7:40 for the first mile), then slowly picked it up before cooling down. Just nice to shake the legs out before my 1hour commute followed by 4 hours of sitting in a lab.

PM - 3 miles - had a few minutes to kill before going into work, so I did a 20-ish minute jog at Hoffmaster. No warm up. Frustrated by the fast pace of a Summer physics course, I just ran hard for what little time I had and hopped in the car.

4 hours of water classes to follow. Feeling the need for some volume on the legs, but I have to relax and remember that I already know how to run slow.

8(?) miles. Afternoon track workout with Evan. Whole thing from start to finish took less than an hour. Ran to the track(300m asphalt), 900m(3:15), 600m(2:10), 300m(0:59) with 300m recovery. Watched Evan knock off another 300m in 0:56 while I held back dry heaves. I'm still adjusting to the new schedule/perpetual despair of Summer classes, so I forgot to consume more than a cup of coffee and a box of raisins all day. Well-nourished or not, this workout felt pretty difficult. 5:40-5:50 min/mile pace, even for these short intervals, felt bad. One doesn't get fast by wishing they were faster, so I'll shut up and keep at it.

rest day, other than the aqua classes.

11 miles - several hours of homework, then a jog from home. Cut down to 6:30 ish pace until mile 8, then shuffled home. nothing too special, but running until I was tired felt good.

16 miles - Beach run with Mike in Grand Haven. I had a pre-existing blister that I definitely should not have run barefoot on. Never ripped off, but filled with fluid and altered my gait. Kind of gross, but it turned out fine.

10 mile bike ride with Sam in the afternoon

5 miles - 1 mile warmup, 3 mile tempo, then 1 mile of 30sec hard/ 30sec easy, then a walk cooldown. Hot with a plague-worthy amount of insects swarming around.

53 miles. As feelings of academic incompetence crush my soul, I'm glad I have running blow off some steam. Being "right brained" has never been so frustrating as in this physics class. Fuck it.

Monday, May 13, 2013

2nd Week of May.

8 miles...ish. 1:10 on the trails. Some gravelly flatter sections, hilly singletrack, and sand dune. Just kept moving and charging the hills. Still kind of blah feeling after that bastard of a 5k.

11 miles...or so. Real nice run around East Grand Rapids with Jeremiah, with a couple short trail loops thrown in. Varying pace from 7-8minute miles, with some emphasis on the hills.

AM: 7 miles...or thereabouts. Drove back to the State Park(been spending a lot of time there lately) and parked at the beach. Ran the 5k course from last weekend. Down the beach, up the "Sugar Bowl" dunes, and on the ridges back out to the beach. One loop barefoot, then another, with an additional mile of sand dunes tacked on.

PM: 5 miles - a speedier flat loop from home on the dirt roads. No watch, just a previously known route.

PM: 5 miles - same loop again with Sam after she got out of work.

17 miles? Shit, I've had weeks with less jogging than that!

Rest day

7 miles - a quick loop at Hoffmaster with Evan and Neil. Cold rain coming down, but still some good traction. I like running in rain that isn't half snow. I felt fairly nimble, but it was probably because I was the only one of us who knew where he was going, and Evan ran a marathon last weekend.

Went to the 5/3 River Bank Run Expo and signed up for the race. Why Not?

Riverbank Run 25k. Registered on a whim, stayed out pretty late the night before, and woke up feeling a little rum in my veins. For 4 hours of sleep, I actually felt really good. Perfect weather for a fast run. Low 50's and overcast with no rain. Other than a shoe coming untied and some...shall we say, digestive issues(I hate waiting in line to use the bathroom at huge venues), I think it was a great experience. 1:40 even, which is a 5 minute PR from my training days in college. Athletes are constantly searching for that perfect effort level- the feeling of exactly meeting a challenge and flowing effortlessly. This may have been the closest I've been to that in a few years(Woodstock 50 2010 may have been the very closest). At no point in the run did I repetitively stare at my watch, nor did my legs ever feel fatigued. Considering that it was a higer-volume week, I'm thankful for that. I haven't done much speedwork to speak of this year, but decided that this would make a great barometer for the upcoming half. I have about 5 weeks to do some speedwork and creep the volume up, and it's 2.4 miles shorter than this race. If I ran 6:30ish pace for a 25k, I could possibly cut that down. Dare I shoot for a sub 1:20 half marathon? Could be fun, right? Hot weather is the bane of my joggerdom, so I'll be at the mercy of our ever-warming climate. Anyhoo, I'll use the success and pleasantness of this experience to tell myself that all is not lost, and that I can improve.

59ish miles. I think that this may be "sweet spot" for mileage for me. I don't feel drained, I've been productive, and I'm feeling fit. shooting for mega-miles always leaves me on my ass and proves counterproductive. I think if I find myself with some extra restlessness or drive, I should dedicate it to another physical activity like cycling or wood splitting. Damn near ran out of firewood before the spring rolled around.

I'm starting a class next week that involves 16 hours of physics, and a few hours of homework every day, so we'll see if running turns out to be my saving grace a burden.

Monday, May 6, 2013

1st week of May, 2013: Inspiration in Sand

AM: 4 miles. I seriously hate getting out of bed when I don't "have to." Great little wake up jog once I finally got outside though. 2 out/2 back on the dirt road with one hill. 7:28 pace overall, mostly offset by the 6:40 outlier 3rd mile.

...one research paper and test prep session later...

PM: 4 miles. Full stomach(sweet potato chips, bananas, oranges). Gravel road, trail, and pavement. 7:12 pace overall, pretty evenly paced throught.

8 miles on a monday. Better than the usual goose egg I've been doing every monday this semester.

One day of focused running, and I already feel better about myself. Such a simple thing that I've been overlooking.

7 miles - Hills. 3 mile warmup on the xc ski trails, then technical hill repeats. The thought of charging up a road hill just didn't sound fun, so I ran up hills of various grades, but they were either sand/roots or sand dunes that took 1-2 minutes to climb. After the last one, I stood up straight, and promptly plopped onto my ass. May have farted. Jogged the flat trail back to the car and headed to work.

Workouts like this are humbling reminders of the how much fitness I have to gain before I can feel confident in my jogging abilities.

4 hours of water classes.

6-7 miles - a hilly jog around GR with Evan. As is usual in this case, Evan put a hurtin' on me. He's tapering for the Kzoo marathon, and is ready to run like hell. First three miles at around a 6:40 pace, then we cruised at a slower pace as I shuffled a few steps behind.

These are the kind of runs I need, in moderation. I tend to be a bit soft, especially on solo road runs.
EDIT: Evan ran a 2:55 in the heat and hills of Kalamazoo this weekend, setting a 1 minute PR. Amazing feat.

PM was an intro to slacklining with mile munching monster monkey Mikey Jae. Definitely a cool summertime activity; a fun way to improve core and leg strength. If anyone could be the first to run 26.2 miles on a slackline barefoot while juggling clubs and eating bananas, it's Mike.

2 miles - 15 minute run right after waking up. Didn't even put my contacts in, and headed to a small trail loop down the road, ran it, and came back.

4 miles of barefoot hiking with Sam at the State park. Pretty relaxing, but hilly. Training? Not really, but enjoyable.

4 hours of water classes.
5 miles - Slept in. Flat jog around the block. Started slow but felt like trying to crack 35 minutes after a couple slow miles(~9:00 each) . The watch ticked over 35:00 with about 200m to go. A good lesson in running hard after hope is lost. Running a few low sixes was encouraging, even if it hurt a little.

Impromptu sand dune 5k in the tomorrow.

5k race - Earth, Wind and Tired 5k. Muskegon State Park. Somewhere between those obnoxious tough mudder/warrior dash/shock-your-private-parts-with-a car-battery-while-you-get-hit-with-foam bat races are my new favorite races in the whole world. The course is 99% sand, and about 1% flat. I'm fairly certain that I've run 5k mountain courses faster than this event. When one pushes off of a rock, it pushes back. Push off of a sand dune, and it just gives way. It also starts and finishes on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. This cool event deserves a little write-up of its own.
This is about 1 mile of the course. Photo taken this Fall.

9th overall with a time of 30:05. With regard to local races, I find myself at the mercy of whomever shows up. Sometimes, I get lucky and snag a win in spite of being unworthy of any kind of elite status. This time, a fantastic group of elite cross-country skiers came over from Wisconsin(the Cross-Lake Ferry was one of the sponsors for the event). They all ran fast, well-paced races and claimed the top 8 spots. I really admire people like this that dedicate themselves to athletic excellence, and long to emulate it in my own way.
"Must. Puke. Now." After this, I took a dip in the lake, ate 5 bananas, and had 5 beers. Nice little Saturday Morning.


Since most of my racing in the last couple years has involved galavanting across the country, my parents have usually seen my running through the lens of either Sam or Jason Robillard's camera. This time, even though it's just a local 5k, they saw me doing what I love doing, and are still support me as I creep up in the age groups(I keep forgetting that I'm not in the 20-24 bracket anymore). Seeing my dad standing on the top of one of the final sand dunes was pretty damn cool. He smiled, waved, and told me I looked like shit, reminding me the greatest of friends always know just how to communicate.
"Hold the bone" jokes aplenty, with or without banana.
I always wondered what these boxes were for as they sat by the luge.

The best part of this race had nothing to do with my experience, but the vicarious thrill I got from my family. Sam, with only a couple weekly runs under her belt, placed in the top third overall. Her tenacity never fails to impress me, even if it sometimes leads to argument. If she turns into a runner after such a success, then that's cool. If not, that's cool too. Being married to a normal person will keep my head out of my ass.
A section of smaller dunes toward the end of the course.

Samantha levitating in to a finish.

My cousin Andy was the one who, at the last moment, tagged me in a facebook post about this race. We signed up on a whim along with Samantha, Candace and Kimberly(everyone was impressive on the course). I hadn't seen Andy since our family Christmas party, and that was kind of a blur since Scott family Christmas parties involve kegs of beer, billiards and J├Ągermeister. Had he not greeted me first in the parking lot, I might have walked right by. After commiting to get fit for a few months, Andy lost an incredible amount of weight by way of diet and exercise alone. He stood there with his beautiful family as a 6'3, 180-ish lb athlete. Placing 28th out of 150 runners, he didn't do well "for a big dude," or any other caveat one would add, but just plain did well, simple as that. No asterisk. It was a true accomplishment. His family was proud, and his daughter held up a sign that she painted as he finished his first race. His wife, Karen, hugged him excitedly as he came through the cattle gates. It's more than a race. It's a celebration of a better life, and I was inspired.

I needed Andy to remind me of why I run. Medals and t-shirts and free beer and sweaty people are awesome and everything, but there's something else brewing inside of us. In a state that's not exactly known for its fitness, I see determination and toughness that can't be matched. We can get healthy. We can lead better lives for ourselves and our children. In a world where running as fast as your legs can carry you is entirely optional, it takes initiative to start gaining momentum. The whole point of competing is to find something inside of you that you knew was there, but needed proof. Yes, it's okay to seek validation, as long as its from yourself. I only believe in what I see. We've got nothing to prove to anyone else, but everything to prove to ourselves.  
finished in the top 20%, even after stopping and dumping sand out of his shoes.

I saw my running family all over this course too. Stuart, Ryan, Rick, Julie, and Mark all volunteered on the course and helped keep everyone from getting lost in the sea of sand between Lake Michigan and Muskegon Lake. Nature can make amazing things, and the human spirit is one of them. We're facing a time when that spirit is being tested, and 150 of us turned to sand and hills in search of...whatever it is.

A week of jogging wrapped up rather nicely. Super low mileage, especially considering that I've run 7 times in 6 days. I guess it's all good, especially considering the fun I had.

Jog on, Joggers.