Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Captain and Tammy

Most people think of a rainy Autumn weekend as a good time to huddle indoors, stay warm, watch football, eat good food, and take naps. Sounds pretty good, doesn't it? Even better after a good workout...I have to admit, I looked at the forecast and thought, "This will be a great weekend to run!" Am I crazy or just embracing life? You decide, but keep in mind that there are others like me out there :-)

So, the Goat and I met for our usual Saturday morning running ritual yesterday. We did about 10 and called it. We agreed to meet again this morning as we are challenging ourselves to at least 5 workouts (at least 3 of the 5 must be running) per week for the next 12 weeks. Since racing and rock climbing season are ostensibly (that's for you Dawn) over and skiing and ice climbing don't start for another month or two, we need something to stay motivated. My running season generally kicks into full swing around the start of the new year, so this helps bridge the gap.

Anyway, after our run yesterday, I logged onto Facebook and was happy to see that many of my running friends had also been out for a morning jaunt. However, two of my running buds, Bill and Tammy, were contemplating and seemingly dredding the Newport Marathon in Newport, RI. They are running in the race as I type this note, and it is raining and raining and raining. Bill and Tammy both indicated that the weather called for 35 mph winds, rain, and temps in the 30's/40's.

OK, it might sound pretty harsh (and it is), but I bet you they come back with some incredible memories. For those of you who don't know Bill and Tammy, they were the couple from CT who competed on The Amazing Race with 2 of their 3 children a few years ago. While their kids were much younger than the others on the show, they competed admirably and fared well. It was fun to watch them compete and hear their stories afterwards. Bill and Tammy are also on our Reach the Beach Relay team. Bill is team leader, hence the "Captain" moniker.

So why would they decide to run a marathon in a full out Nor'easter today? Well, they are attempting to run a marathon in each of the 50 states. There is actually a club that recognizes this achievement and I believe Bill is more than halfway to this goal. Tammy, who always has a smile on her face, has been clicking off the races as well, and it is great to hear about the races they run together. I'm sure they will share many memories from these races: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I, for one, think running in the harsh conditions is what it is all about. Heck, anyone can run a marathon in perfect conditions (OK, perhaps not, but you get the point). It's the bold that take on the harsh conditions and relish the challenge. Ian Torrence, one of the outstanding west coast ultra runners, was quoted as saying something to this effect, "When I really get down in a race, I think about what I would be doing if I wasn't running, and realize I'd probably be home watching TV." I think of this world as having two types of people: those who live life and those who watch others live life. Here's to those who live life!

So, here's to Captain Bill and Tammy. One of Bill's favorite quotes is from Steve Prefontaine, and it has become a mantra for our Reach the Beach Team. Pre said, "To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift." So, as the Goat and I put in our 9 miles this morning, I thought about Bill and Tammy battling through the winds and rain in Newport. As miserable as they may have felt, I bet they gave it their best, and it is something they will tell their grandchildren about someday.

Preliminary congratulations to Bill and Tammy for running the Newport Marathon. I hope they cherish the cold and wet memories. They definitely earned bragging rights this year!

Post Script:

I got a call from Dawn who just finished a 14 mile run at the reservoir in the pouring rain. She sounded cold and miserable. Then, I asked her how it went and she replied, "It was a good run."
That, my friends, is what it is all about.

Have an incredible week!


Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Off the Couch Marathon

Today was the Hartford Marathon.

Unfortunately, I was not signed up for the race. Someone asked me if I was running it, and I said that I only race when I am in peak condition. Well, I haven't been running much lately, so I didn't even consider running this year.

Hartford is the first marathon I ran many years ago and I've completed it 4-5 times. I've also run the 1/2 marathon twice and watched my ex, Tammie, run it once. I also watched Dawn finish the marathon last year. So, the race has been a big part of my life.

Today, Dawn was running the 5K and Tammie was doing the half marathon. In a way, I was very proud because I think I helped them both make running a significant part of their lives. I am happy for them.

So, I really wanted to get out for a big run this weekend because I haven't run long in awhile. I thought it would be cool to try to do at least 20 miles and perhaps do a marathon-like distance of 24-26 miles to try to somehow include ourselves in the marathon weekend. The Goat called to make plans for our regular weekend run at the reservoir and I told him we were running a marathon.

The Goat is usually up for any challenge and today was no different. We met at the reservoir at 8AM and the Goat had his Garmin GPS watch. I thought, "OK, no backing out of this one now". We carried water for the first time in quite awhile. As we ran, I realized that we hadn't done any runs of longer than 10 miles all summer long. In fact, this would be our longest run since the Stonecat Ale 50 miler last November. Wow!

Nevertheless, the miles clicked by and we were moving well. I had mentally layed out a course in my mind that included a run to Heublein Tower. We were near the 9 mile mark when we reached the tower and the views were incredible with all the autumn colors. We elected to head down the other side of the mountain and then back up to the tower to add another 2.5-3 miles to this loop. People hiking the trail joked with us that we were in the Hartford Marathon. Little did they know that we were doing a longer, more grueling run.

When we reached the tower the second time, we realized that we had completed all the major climbing and that the return trip to the cars was fairly flat. By our estimation, it would be close to 20 miles when we reached the cars. Our plan was to refuel and then hit the trail for 6 more miles.

By the time we reached the cars, we were both hurting a bit, and the Goat seemed to be dragging. I knew he would make it though as he has no quit in his body. After some food and drink, we headed back on the trail for one last push. By this point, there was a fair amount of walking happening, but we were enjoying the views and the conversation. I thought to myself that we may be the only people in the state of CT running a marathon distance today other than those folks running the Hartford Marathon.

As we finished, Goat mentioned that we had completed 26.94 miles in 5 hours. This may not seem fast by road marathon standards, but we covered some very difficult terrain and some decent vertical gain, and had to carry our own supplies. Yeah, we were pleased!

It felt so good to be running again. The tempo of the run felt good, and I felt like I could have run longer. I don't know if I have any real races in the near future, but it was nice to get out and put down some miles. Thanks Goat for a great run!

Congrats to all the folks that ran Hartford today. I'm sure it was a wonderful experience.



Sunday, October 4, 2009

Tic Tac Toe - 3 in a row!

Yes! Three in a row...that's how many runs I have linked together. To most runners, this will not seem like much, but it is great news for me....and it almost didn't happen.

So, I took a vacation day Friday and was determined to get in a decent run. I had logged a grand total of 4.5 miles so far in the week thanks to an early morning run on Tuesday. It was another insane week at work and I needed a run to help me unwind and also burn off the last remnants of the cold I was fighting.

I put in about 10 miles at the reservoir on Friday followed by a very similar route with Goat on Saturday. My legs felt a little tired, but I was running well enough. I hit the couch after a nice hot shower and did school work, played with Maliyah, and watched sports the rest of the day.

The Goat and I were supposed to meet for a run on Sunday, but he decided to take advantage of the nice weather and go climbing for the day. I didn't have a climbing partner lined up, and frankly was not in the mood to climb. I had enough to keep me busy at home, and Maliyah was there to keep me company. She's so darn cute!

Anyway, after sleeping in on Sunday, we (Jamie, Maliyah, and me) had a video conference with Tara is Spain. It was so cool to chat with her and see her on the webcam. Unbelievable! I was so happy to see her and glad I didn't miss it.

I puttered around the house, graded papers for my class, and played with Maliyah. Jamie went to the gym and I was alone with the baby. All the sudden, my back locked up and I was a hurting unit. I put the baby down and layed flat on the floor. This used to happen to me a couple times each year, but hasn't happened much over the past 10 years or so. I read a book by Dr. John Sarno called, "Healing Back Pain", and the basic message is that there is nothing mechanically wrong when we throw out our backs. You can't make it worse and movement actually helps it. Anyway, I decided to take the baby for a walk in the stroller to see if I could loosen it up. We walked up and down our hill a couple times and I felt a bit better. The big question was whether to try to get in that 3rd run.

After watching the Patriots squeek out another win, it was time to test out the back. I decided to run on the flats near the river (Paquaback?). It's really flat terrain and very scenic. I tried to stretch my very tight quads (probably the reason my back was hurting) and it was rather amusing to say the least. After saying hello to Mr. Snapping Turtle, I hobbled down the path with the knowledge that my back would probably start loosening up. It did as I expected and I gradually started running with a normal gait. The weather was perfect and as each mile past, my back hurt less. I passed people sculling (is that the correct term?) in the river, the usual fare of bikers, runners, and walkers. I joked with a couple people running with dogs...I told them it was not fair being pulled by sled dogs. They didn't get the joke. I passed a guy with an iPod bothers me that we miss a chance to chat with people who have things in their ears. I went out about 4.5-5 miles and decided to turn around. On the return, I stopped on the bridge to look down at the river and noticed a guy scribbling notes in a notepad. I wondered what he was writing about...the fishermen down below perhaps?

I ran back along the river and stopped to chat with a young guy who was excavating an old home site. He had a metal detector and had a pile of stuff that he had mined. He said that some affluent folks had summer homes along the river back in the 50's and a big flood has wiped them out at some point. He seemed to be pretty excited about his finds, but I didn't see very much of interest. Perhaps everything looked more familiar to me due to age. He was a nice guy and we chatted a bit.

On the home stretch, I took off my running shoes again and ran the last 3/4 of a mile in bare feet. This time I toughed it out on the cinder path even though it hurt like heck. It sure felt good on the dirt path though. Afterwards I stretched my back and legs, but the pain came back quickly. How weird! I can run 10 miles virtually pain free, and then it tightens up when I stop. Hmm.

Nevertheless, my goal of running three days in a row was accomplished. My total mileage for the week was around 34 miles or so...not big mileage by any stretch, but good for me these days.

My other goal this weekend was to make some apple pies from the apples off my trees. They sure taste good, but I didn't get to the baking today. Maybe tomorrow.

Have a great week everyone!