I like to run. I've learned that it really isn't about where you're going, it's about the getting there - the how, the why, the who with. This blog is just a little repository for my thoughts along the way; the setbacks, the lessons learned, and the occasional triumph.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Build Up Begins

I managed to knock out my first real “long” run in weeks on Saturday. 8 miles. Yes, 8 miles qualifies as a long run again for me right now. It’s not like I haven’t been running at all, but there’s been little spare time – or energy – for hour+ runs on the weekends (let alone weekdays). I managed a late evening 10-miler one Friday night back in early December, but that’s the only double-digit run I’ve been out on since the Chicago Marathon back on 10-10-10.

It’s normal to go through a period during the year when you cutback on your mileage somewhat, and allow your body a long recovery cycle. Most runners use the winter for that cycle anyway, since getting outside is not as fun in the weather.

Of course, my cutbacks have been forced upon me by my schedule, but I can see the benefits. I’ve been pleasantly surprised all season at how speedy my “easy” workouts have been. I like to run easy days by feel. I start at a gentle pace and after a mile or two I can tell from the splits on my watch how the rest of the run is going to go. Even though my runs the last 12 weeks have been mostly short, 4 or 5 mile efforts, I’ve been pleased about how many of them have settled into a brisk (for me) 8:20ish pace.

My 8-miler on Saturday wasn’t so quick – I intentionally dialed the pace down to just under 9 minute miles – but it was an easy, low-stress effort and my body felt good when I was done. (A far cry from the weary, run-down 4-miler I struggled through after a difficult week last Friday.) A treadmill isn’t the most scenic place to spend 75 minutes, but some podcasts got me through and it was nice to escape the single-digit cold outside.

I felt my spirits rising as I left the gym, my optimism for my running plans returning. And I felt a little lucky. Lucky to be able to dash off an easy 8-mile run like it was no big deal. Lucky to have the opportunity to do so just because I feel like it. With any luck, I'll feel the same way on the morning of July 30th, with 101 miles stretching out in front of me.

I heard on the radio this morning that Jack LaLanne, the original fitness guru, died on Sunday. I was not a follower of LaLanne, per se, but he began saying 75 years ago what we all consider common knowledge today. He was 96 years old, and still worked out a couple of hours every morning. He would say, “The only way to truly abuse your body is to not use it!” Makes a lot of sense to me. I’ll keep using mine until it’s done.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


The past week was a bear and my running has suffered, as a result. Working 14-hours days between two jobs has many drawbacks, and the hit my running schedule takes is only one of them, of course.

The running, though, continues to be such an accurate barometer for the rest of my life in so many ways. I managed to squeeze in a quick 4-miler last Monday between jobs and then didn’t have time for another run until Friday.

The plan that night was a 5-miler, but I had to add 45 seconds to my mile pace, barely made it through the first three miles anyway, and then, finally, gave up after just four. I was so exhausted when I stepped off the treadmill that I was a little light-headed. I totally skipped the weights work and the short swim I had planned and went home instead. I walked in my front door before 9pm, but half an hour later I could barely keep my eyes open.

Unresponsive workouts like that are typically a sign of over-training. Well, I’m under-training with my running right now (in a big way), but I’m definitely overtraining on LIFE. I’m badly fatigued – just as much as I would be after a 60 or 70-mile week. I’m not as young as used to be. Burning the candle at both ends turns into burning myself out a lot quicker that it used to.

The reality I’ve been facing, though, is I’m only doing this to myself. I don’t work 2 jobs because I need the money. The income from my day-job supports me just fine. The second job I pursue because I have a passion for it, even though it cannot support me on its own. (If it could, my life would be a little simpler.) But I’m fast reaching an age when I must seriously question if the return value I get from that pursuit can still outweigh the cost it extracts from my quality of life.

There are other things in my life that are very important to me now. Running is certainly one of those things. If one pursuit begins to override and erode all the other things that are valuable to me in my life, is it still worth it? Finding the balance is always a struggle and there are only certain things I can control. But whenever the balance slips so much that even the running time I can squeeze in is such low quality, it forces me to confront these difficult questions all over again.

Luckily, after this week, my schedule will start to re-balance again. The first big race of my season will be the Chicago Lakefront 50K near the end of March. I don’t have much time to build my mileage back up to where it needs to be. I expect my first road marathon will be in Kenosha again, at the beginning of May. I’ve been doing a lot of quick 4-milers over the last month, and though my overall mileage has been low, I’ve been encouraged by the quick paces I’ve been able to run at in those shorter sessions.

If I can just win the struggle to find training time, I remain optimistic about 2011.

Monday, January 10, 2011


Life. It never stops changing you, does it? And why would you want it to stop, anyway? Mine is. Changing, I mean, not stopping. (Definitely not stopping.) Old goals blend with new ones. New priorities emerge and take you in directions you wondered were still possible.

I am still on the Journey.

2011 finds me with plenty to do and the highest of hopes. There is one bit of unfinished business still nagging at me and I'm going to do whatever I can to cross that line this year. I paid for my slot in the Burning River 100 Mile Endurance Race today. I came up short there in '09, and the mountains outside San Diego left me breathless last June, but we're going to see if the 3rd time's the charm back in Ohio in 2011.

The biggest hurdle will be finding the time to get in all my training miles over the next 6 months. There's a awful lot on my plate this year. Somehow, though, I'm going to do it. I've learned a lot on the last two failed attempts. I've got friends this time who may be able to join me on the course. And I think even my sister may get help playing crew out there this time.

The Journey has a great deal in store for me this year, and I'm so excited about all the possibilities. The video I posted last month still resonates deeply in my mind.

There is so much more to come.

"What is a Journey?
A journey is not a trip.
It is not a vacation.
It is a process. A discovery.
It is a process of self-discovery.
A journey brings us face to face with ourselves.
A journey shows us not only the world,
but how we fit in it.
Does the person create the journey?
Or does the journey create the person?

The journey is life itself."