Monday, November 23, 2015

What I Brag About When I Brag About Running: Week 2

Day 8
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
3 miles - 2 miles easy, comfortable pace 1 mile faster pace

I ran along Garbage Road again, but this time at night. Well, at 6:30pm when it was completely dark. #EndDaylightSavings

Nike Running Coach suggested two miles at an easy pace, then one mile at a challenging pace. I decided to start at a slightly quicker than normal pace and then kick it up to a fast pace. It was a terrible mistake. I don't think I mentioned when first telling the tale of Garbage Road that both ends of it slant uphill. They are not fun to run up. Plus, when you turn around to do another lap, they trick you into thinking you can run at a quicker pace, because gravity is helping you. My point is that I was tricked by a hill. And my thighs hurt.

Day 9
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
5 miles - 1 mile warm up, 3.5 miles fartlek, 0.5 mile cool down

Ran along the MBT at 7am (an early morning run for me) doing an out-of-shape man's fartlek. 1 minute walking, 1 minute slow jogging, 2 minutes faster jogging, repeat until miles completed. May have frightened/confused some kids on their way to school with my sweaty, bearded self loping down the road.

Day 10
Thursday, November 19, 2015
3 miles - easy, comfortable pace

I didn't run before work, because I had to do dog related things: buy food, clean up puke. The usual. This means I will have to run around 10pm. This morning, when I was doing errands, the idea of running was bumming me out. My legs and hips were sore and tired. Not a lot, but enough that I would not exercise if I didn't have to.

Later that night
I ran at 10:20pm. Which brought my November total to 26 miles, the equivalent of a marathon. Now I just have to compress that into one morning.

Day 11
Friday, November 20, 2015
Cross Train

In lieu of cross training I slept until I absolutely had to get up for work. And after work I made sweet potatoes and marshmallows for Friendsgiving. While that was baking, I laid on the couch watching Weekend at Bernie's with my dog. I feel like this will pay off in the long run.

Day 12
Saturday, November 21, 2015
3 miles - 2 miles easy, 1 mile faster

Today is Friendsgiving, so I had to run before work to leave time for consumption of food. I ran at 7:30am, because I set my alarm for 6:30pm and overslept. Someday I will master the early morning run. I ran a loop down 7th to Franklin to 4th to Michigan. It's 1.3 miles, so each mile finishes slightly before where it started. I finished my 3 miles at the point farthest from my apartment as possible. Still, it was a good departure from running up and down Garbage Road or out and back on the MBT. I need to find more good loops to run. My hilly, weirdly laid out neighborhood makes that a little tough.

Day 13
Sunday, November 22, 2015
5 miles - easy, comfortable pace

Ran a new loop, a triangle from 10th along Monroe St. to Eastern Ave., Eastern Ave. to Sergeant/13th St., and back down to Monroe. It was scenic, but very hilly. I'm sure I'll run it (or a variation of it) again since it's an even five miles. Eastern Ave. runs along the DC-Maryland border through the Mt. Rainier neighborhood. DC, like all cities, has nice looking and run-down looking neighborhoods. What's special about about DC is that it's a big city in a small space, so the changes from one to another can be abrupt. An exciting (possibly too strong of a word) part of running a new route through new neighborhoods is finding out what they're like. I don't often think "Oh shit, where am I?" (because I avoid those places), but when I neared the first corner of my triangle route I started to wonder where I was headed. Fortunately my worries were short lived. I crossed a street and instantly found myself in Suburbia.

Day 14
Monday, November 23, 2015

Things I Am Currently Haunted By The Prospect Of Because I Read Too Many First Time Marathon Guides
1. Chafing - When will it start? Will my hairy chest keep my nipples safe?
2. Having to poop on a long run - Will Starbucks offer me safe haven?
3. My toenails - Will they turn black and fall off? Will it look cool?

Career Nike Running Stats: 
Runs - 124
Miles - 414.3
MPR - 3.34
Avg. Pace - 10' 03"

Thursday, November 19, 2015

What I Brag About When I Brag About Running: Week 1

Day 1
Tuesday, November 10, 2015

I'm using the Nike Running App as my training guide. The App, no matter what distance you are training for, starts on a rest day. 5k, Half-Marathon, whatever; Day One - Take it easy, you've done enough. I know this is for scheduling reasons. The program ends on Race Day, so the day farthest away ends up being a recovery day, once you're in the thick of it. It's still weird to get a reminder on your phone that reads, "Training starts tomorrow with nothing." I feel like I should have done something to justify that day of rest.

In a way, maybe I have. I've had a cold the last four days. It feels like my head is bursting with old chewing gum. I'm also writing this at a bar with a lovely American Pale Ale in front of me. After this, I plan on going across the street to my apartment and dosing myself with Nyquil. That way my immune system can annihilate the demon inside of me. Tomorrow's four miles should be fun.

I'm not a morning person, so a morning run seems foolish to hope for. However, we just fell back into Daylight Savings (or out of it?), and the prospect of post-sundown afternoon runs seems depressing. I suspect eventually I will have to wrench myself out of bed before work to run. Especially if I'm ever going to make it to happy hour.

Day 2
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
4 miles - 1 mile warm up, 2.5 miles of Fartlek (2 min. fast, 2 min. slow), .5 mile cool down

As predicted, I did not wake up early and get my run out of the way. I did wake up early 4 am, and then again at 6 am, because of my cold. Or because I sedated myself so early the night before. Though I was very much awake at 4 am, I opted to stay in bed and think about all of the snot fossilizing inside of my head.

I ended up running at 4:30 pm. I left work early because of my cold, but read on the internet that the rule for running is that if the illness is above your neck that it's generally safe. I guess. (Get out there, sufferers of migraines!) I did a pre-run shot of Dayquil and ran on the MBT (Maryland Branch Trail), which goes along the Red Line from my neighborhood towards Union Station. I passed a group of kids on bikes taking up the whole path, but I stood my ground! The kid coming at me had to swerve at the last second. I'm not the one balancing on two wheels, buddy. You have more to lose than me.

I hate doing fartleks, but I kind of already knew that.

Day 3
Thursday, November 12, 2015
3 miles - easy, comfortable pace

Today felt pretty good. I'm still sniffly and plugged up, but my legs only felt like sandbags for teh first few minutes. I ran along Garbage Road since today is only three miles. Garbage Road's proper name is John McCormack Drive NE. It runs between the Catholic University Campus and the Metro tracks, ending at Fort Totten Transfer Station, which is a garbage dump. Because it ends at a garbage dump, garbage trucks often drive on it. On Thursdays, like today, I foolishly opt for late morning jogs along Garbage Road because I forget about the parade of garbage trucks. I'm kind of dumb. The damp weather today muffled the smells. There have been summer days when I have dry-heaved at the smell. Every two minutes a truck passes, and when a fresh, hot wave of trash-air goes down your throat as you huff along it can cause problems.

Why run this route? Garbage Road's allure is simple. It is straight, mostly flat, and empty. On a short run, I can just go out and back a few times, and no one is ever in my way. I don't understand people who run on crowded sidewalks in areas that are always crowded. Don't people who run in the Plaza in KC or Georgetown in DC get tired of dodging around people? Georgetown has narrow brick sidewalks. It is a stupid place to run. Wouldn't having a good run be better than being seen running? Maybe going around people and off the curb is good lateral motion exercise. I should try it.

Day 4
Friday, November 13, 2015
Cross Train

I did not cross train. I have a suspicion that the Friday Cross Training days will become floating, secondary rest days. Which I've already set the tone for.

Day 5
Saturday, November 14, 2015
3 miles - 2 miles easy pace, 1 mile at faster pace

First missed day! Break out the champagne! I stuck to my training regimen for almost a week!

Just kidding, I was traveling from DC to Kansas for my Grandmother Holmes' funeral. It was only a short run and I skipped it for a good reason. I'm glad that my first skipped day was because I was on planes and with my family, rather than because I wanted to catch the last half of Bring It On on cable.

Day 6
Sunday, November 15, 2015
5 miles - easy, comfortable pace

I ran mid-morning on Burroughs Creek Trail and up to Mass. Street in Lawrence. It was pretty windy, especially when going south. Five miles is 1.55 miles less than my farthest run, according to The App. For this reason, I had to engage in psychological trickery/fantasy. I'm not proud that it's only Day 6 and had to resort to such tactics. But I was staring down this:

Leaked set photos from True Detective Season 3!!!!!
The wind was in my face and on a path that just vanishes into the distance. So, I imagined that I was Chain Chomp from Mario Kart, slowly laying waste to everything in front of me. It worked. 

Day 7
Monday, November 16, 2015

Traveled back from Kansas to DC. 

Career Nike Running Stats: 
Runs - 119
Miles - 395.2
MPR - 3.32
Avg. Pace - 10'02"

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

What I Brag About When I Brag About Running: Part 1: A Bold Claim

Listen gang, it's time to face facts. I'm not vegan, I didn't rescue my dog from a deathmatch gambling ring, and I don't volunteer at soup kitchens, so I don't have much to lord over people as evidence that I am in some way superior. Which is why I'm going to have to run a marathon. And it might not end well.

Some years ago, my family decided to participate in a Thanksgiving 5K run. These are known nationwide as Turkey Trots. Every single 5k on the last Thursday in November, from Spokane to Schenectady, is a Turkey Trot. Those in my family who anticipated needing third helpings of pie justified that urge by standing outside earlier than necessary on a morning that was colder than was necessary. This became a tradition. And let me tell you, turkey tastes better and the post-meal nap is more refreshing when your legs are jiggling like that weird orange jello mold with carrots in it.

I believe, as hearty, folksy, salty-earthy Kansans, we were perfectly suited for Turkey Trots. There's a lame joke about weather in Kansas (and probably a few other places): Don't like it? Wait 5 minutes and it will change. There's a reason many people recite this zinger with a defeated tone. We've been on the business end of an unexpected cold front. Running a 5K in late November mimics the wildly erratic weather patterns that accompany the changing seasons in the Midwest. Before the race begins, it is bracingly cold. Standing there in lightweight running gear allows that cold to get nice and intimate. Usually there is a seven to ten minute wait between lining up and actual running. I find that screaming helps me keep Jack Frost at bay. Once the race begins things start to get better. The chill invigorates you and breathing no longer feels like a metal rake scraping across your lungs. It's gone from bitterly cold to pleasantly cool. After settling into a groove, you can enjoy the scenery and maybe pass a third grader who couldn't pace himself. Eventually your layered gear betrays you and you realize that you are stewing under your Nike SolarTherm Tec Pullover. You peel the layers off and ditch your complimentary Turkey Trot beanie in a stranger's garbage can, because you are now burning up. And just like an April day on the plains, you have gone from winter clothes to shirtless with hair plastered to your forehead with sweat in less than an hour.

These Turkey Trots were my introduction to organized running (for pleasure, not gym class). Eventually, once a year was not enough, and I started to sign up for other, non-holiday related 5Ks. Earlier this year I ran in a 10K for the first time. 5Ks were now kid stuff. If I'm going to pay money and drive out to some dinky town's Old Settlers Run then I need to be running for more than half an hour. Since then, I have participated in one other 10K. Or most of one. It wasn't my fault. I asked a cop if I was supposed to turn down a street that other runners were on. He said yes. That was wrong. I cut the second loop I was supposed to be running in half. I probably should have studied the course map a little closer, but that doesn't mean the course wasn't poorly labeled.

I was still encouraged by how great I felt after running those 8ish kilometers. Rather than taking the next logical and doing a 10-miler or a half-marathon (or competently running a second 10K), I  have decided to throw logic down the garbage disposal and commit myself to a marathon. I will self-immolate and become a chariot of fire. My training program of choice (via Nike Running) is 24 weeks long. Using that time frame I sought a nearby race happening in April. Fortune smiled upon me in the form of the Gettysburg Marathon, a race as ridiculous as my decision to run it. Participants, when registering, must decide to run for either the North or the South. The two sides then compete for the best results. As the official website states, runners use their own criteria to choose their sides. It could be where they live, where they're from, a familial connection, or their feelings about slavery. That one isn't true. But, even though it's just a marathon and the choosing sides is just for fun, I still can't fathom that there are people who will pick the South. Who would dedicate their 26.2 miles to the forced servitude team? Did I mention that the free shirt comes in gray or blue based on the team? I'm going to judge the hell out of everyone in gray. Really, the Gettysburg Marathon is the perfect first marathon, because the finisher's medal features the U.S.A. and Confederate flags. Such a motif ensures that the medal will not be worn or displayed anywhere, anytime.

I spent yesterday and the day before entering my runs into my calendar. It was shocking to block off three hours. That would be like if I went to see The Wolf of Wall Street and instead of a seat I had a treadmill set to a moderate pace. I can't really wrap my mind around that. And when I google "How the hell do you run a marathon" things about energy gels, hydration schedules, and chaffing come up. There is all this extra stuff you have to know about and monitor in order to run super duper far. I'm not the best at self-reflection, so the idea of tracking how well a meal agreed with my level of exertion seems tedious and embarrassing. I'm only doing this to overcome the physical discomfort and the monotony. I hadn't counted on logistics being the thing that brought me down.

Speaking of monotony, the Gettysburg Marathon, because some of the route is not fully closed to traffic, does not allow headphones. That might be the most frightening prospect, spending 1/4 of a day running without Queen to propel me along. 

Me, in less pain than I currently have my sights set on.