Friday, October 31, 2014

Gotta Run...

So, from the previous post, I have been sliced and diced for the last 8 days and eagerly trying to get in walks and runs.  Mostly, it has been fast walks with two short runs of 4 miles and 3 miles over the last 8 days.  I have been playing it bey ear (or by stitch) as to whether or not to run the Raleigh City of Oaks Half-Marathon this Sunday.  I could easily say no but I find that "easily" is not possible.  I need to run the event, I gotta run the event for no other reason than to have that running feeling with all the others out there pounding the roads.  It is supposed to be a very chilly but beautiful day in Raleigh, 30 degrees at the start rising up to 50 - perfection.  And the Mohs Doctor said I could run on Saturday.  That is all I needed to hear since the race is on Sunday and Sunday Nov. 2 would have been my father's 95th birthday.  I will run with him in my thoughts.  He died way too early and I really never got to know him as an adult.  It is also NYC Marathon day and what better way to celebrate than to run and  record the marathon on ESPN2 for later viewing.  So, I gotta run and put in a good 13.1 mile effort.  It has been a while since I have run a half-marathon (well, and stopped after only running a half.)  My best half-marathon time this year while running a full marathon is 1:58. That was on a flat course in Alaska.  I am not sure I can get there on Sunday but I will certainly go for a sub-2 hour marathon.  Likely, I will be around 2:05 or so.  But, it is still the run that matters.

Days 303-305: 5 miles, 2014: 1,428 miles

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Sliced and Diced

Every runner knows, or should know, the dangers of skin cancer.  We spend hours outside barely clad with enough clothes to keep us from being arrested.  We often ignore our exposure to the sun's rays.  I have been guilty of this too no matter how many times I have been chastised and warned. I generally run in early mornings before the sun appears, wear a hat and generally run in shady areas.  But exposure to the harmful sun's rays just doesn't come from running and is compounded by all the other times spent outside.  I'm fair-skinned which doesn't help as well.  Luckily, the cancerous cells that I have acquired are relatively benign, benign in the sense that they are the most frequently occurring and least dangerous as they almost never grow or spread (metastasize).  There are approximately 2.8 million cases of Basal Cell Carcinoma diagnosed in the U.S. each year.

So, since this is a running blog, what does this have to do with running besides taking the obvious precautions, having a good dermatologist and regular evaluations.  I have a lot of areas that need treated and over the last week and for the next few weeks, I will need incisions, Mohs surgery and scrape and burns.  But worse than all of that, I need to limit my running.  So what is a runner to do when he has to limit his running, when over the last 15 years, he hasn't missed more than 5 consecutive days pounding the roads or trails.  I thought back to remember a time when I went longer than 5 days without running.  There may be one but likely less than three that I can't remember.  Of course, I pushed the dermatologist as to when activity (i.e. running) could start after these procedures.  I currently have stitches in my right shoulder and right triceps.  Initially the assistant said 2 weeks until my stiches come out.  I then told her that I run nearly every day and asked when I could resume running.  She came down to five days.  So here I am somewhat negotiating as to when I can run.  She did say that I could walk.  A runner will find a way to stay active, otherwise, insanity sets in and nobody wants to be around an insane runner who can't run.  An insane runner who can run is bad enough but, of course, running acts as our daily meds to be sane again.  Runners constantly battle injuries, aches and pains and we will either stop running altogether (not likely) or find some way to do something active that simulates running.

Fast-paced walking is very good for you, no matter if you are a runner or a person who gets their exercise by walking.  I am not speaking of leisurely walks which are also good for you but more for your mind and soul, sort of a "stop and smell the roses" kind of walk.  Fast-paced walking gets the heart pumping, blood flowing and uses many muscles (even different ones from running).  So, I decided to do daily faced-paced walks while my activity was limited.  Although I can't get my heart rate up as high, it certainly simulates the feeling of running.  For the days I walked, Cynthia and I would take Casey for a fast-paced loop around the lake, about 1.5 miles.  It worked well for all of us, relieving Casey of his morning energy and giving Cynthia and I some muscle burning exercise.  Afterward, I continued the loops and followed some of my running routes doing 3, 7 and 6 miles on consecutive days until I could run again on Tuesday.  I do believe walking is sometimes harder than running.  I am pretty sure I would rather run 26.2 miles than walk it.

There are two points to be made here.  first, be aware of the dangers of skin cancers, be evaluated regularly by a good Dermatologist (Central Dermatology in Chapel Hill has been great and Dr. Wang specifically) and adhere to the treatment plan.  Secondly, find an alternative to running when you can't and do it.  Find something to do that benefits your running (like stretching, walking) or keeps you focused on running like planning marathon trips (or other running adventures/races), writing on a blog, analyzing your stats, reading running books, watching running DVDs, all of which will keep you motivated and better when you do return to the daily run. I committed miles to people so I needed to move forward a mile at a time whether walking or running.  Slices and dices aside, stay in the moment.

Days 297-302: 23 miles, 2014: 1,423 miles

Thursday, October 23, 2014

...and God shuffled His feet.... Baltimore Marathon

Once in awhile, in the marathon, you have to rely on more strength than what you can muster, particularly in the late miles.  Whatever, whomever, wherever you can draw that strength from is where you focus.  I tend to find strength in a few areas: other runners, spectators, but most importantly God and Cynthia Anne.  I drew upon all of these in completing my 14th consecutive Baltimore Marathon since running the inaugural in 2001.  Its been a wonderful event over the years staged by Corrigan Sports Enterprises (CSE) and until recently headlined by Underarmour.  There is no doubt that Underarmour should be the title sponsor of this running festival (or at least the marathon) as they are headquartered right on the course and are one of the best sports brands in the world.  They still provide the high quality shirts for all the events.  I hope that they continue to do so for many years.  CSE has always listened to the runners, even after 14 years, making adjustments to enhance everything about the festival to make it the premier running festival that it is.  I am confident that they will continue to do so and again attract a premier title sponsor.  I also believe that The Baltimore Running festival should be inducted into the Legends Museum on its 15th birthday next year.

Due to the potential of the beloved Baltimore Orioles playoff run to the World Series, CSE kept us informed every step of the way with contingency plans.  I can't imagine all of the meetings, negotiations and approvals (up through the Governor's office) behind the scenes to pull off a weekend where the Baltimore Running Festival, Baltimore Oriole's playoff games, and the Baltimore Ravens football game would all occur within a 48 hour period.  Unfortunately and fortunately the Orioles lost to the Royals in four games.  The only modification to the festival was an earlier start time for all events and 7 AM for the marathon and marathon relay.  I welcomed the earlier start time which gave me more time to enjoy Baltimore after the marathon.  I hope that they continue with it.

Please click below to continue reading including lots of pictures.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Dog Fartleked

Although that is also an issue with Casey boy, I mean fartleked in terms of running.  Fartlek means speed play in Swedish and is a training technique that blends continuous running with intervals.  Casey, though, appears to have the fartlek down pat.  Whenever we run, he breaks up the run with speed play.  First, he is excited by the mere premise of going for a run and appears to like the orange stripe on my Saucony shorts, nipping at it for the first few strides.  Then it is "eat the leash" time.  It is only a 24 inch leash so there is not much there to nibble on, but he thinks he has to control his human by taking it in his mouth like he is running me!  "Leave it" works well with him and with only 50 yards into the run he gets into his running pace, stops nipping and leaves the leash alone.  He then realizes that he is going to have to run a couple of miles and throttles back a bit to tell me that we are going to fartlek if he is going to make it a few miles.  I'm sure he believes that a slower pace will allow him a few sniffs that every dog deserves.  "OK, have a few sniffs but then you will have to run!"  I quicken my shuffle to a stride and he propels himself into a sprint.  It is actually a sprint that I am on the edge of not being able to do.  When was the last time you sprinted a marathon!?  But, I keep up the best I can but it is only short-lived because dogs can't sprint (or even run) long distances.  So we sprint about 30 yards or so and slow to a crawl, a few more sniffs, then a normal pace and then he sees a person that he needs to stop for and look at.  OK, stop, smell the roses, people watch and then we are going to sprint again.  This continues for two miles - speed play - fartlek.  What I find though, is that it helps me too.  I was feeling a little twinge in my calf and after we slowed and had a few sniffs, I was good to go and didn't feel it again.  There is so much to learn from a dog, not only in running but in life.  We need to fartlek more in life too.  There are times to sprint and times to sniff, times to take notice of people and times to avoid other angry dogs.  They are all just jealous anyway because they can't fartlek with their human or even say it without laugh-barking - adolescents!  Have you farleked today?

Days 287-294: 36 miles, 2014: 1,395 miles

Monday, October 13, 2014

I Run

"I run into being and becoming and having been into feeling and seeing and hearing.  Into all those senses by which I know the world that God made, and me in it. Into understanding why a Being whose reason to exist is 'to be' should have made me to His image." - George Sheehan, Running and Being
The Quotable Marathoner as edited by Charles Lyons is my go-to resource for quotations related to, "duh", the marathon! My go-to author for running is George Sheehan, runner "duh", philosopher, medical doctor.  His last book Going the Distance was written while battling and finally succumbing to terminal cancer.  Running had such a profound effect on his life.  I've run the George Sheehan classic 5 miler in Red Bank, NJ multiple times.  I wonder, though, how many people running that race truly know who he was and his impact.  How many runners in general really know the history of the sport? I am sure that I don't know half of it but I certainly take an interest in it and learn what I can. Interestingly enough, running is a human endeavor, even before it was a sport. It is built into our DNA, particularly long distance running.  Nearly every other main stream sport involves running of some kind and if it isn't running while doing the sport, it is running to be in shape for the sport. My morning runs are generally preparation for the day.  I run for a clear, concise mind.  I run to tax my lungs and heart and allow blood to flow to the outermost extremities and certainly the brain.  I run to solve problems, to feel good and to see the world in a different light.  I run to experience God and the world He has given me.  I run to feel and I run marathons to experience the mental and physical pain it brings, to put me at the edge of breaking, to make that transition from comfortable to uncomfortable where I need to reach deeper just to make one more stride.  I run into being.

Days 277-286: 38 miles, 2014: 1,359 miles

Friday, October 3, 2014

Too Tough To Tame - Darlington Marathon

I've been a long-time NASCAR fan although my interest has waned a bit over the last few years.  I still follow the results, news and standings but I no longer sit and watch full races.  It was appropriate that the Darlington Raceway was the backdrop for my latest marathon.  The track known for its "too tough to tame" image and labeled with the "lady in black" moniker due to numerous black tire marks on the white retaining walls lived up to its reputation for the marathon also.  Frankly, the course is not that tough in and of itself, a rolling mix of hills and flats in Darlington County with a couple of laps down pit road and on the apron (inside groove) of the track.  But, marathons are not made up of just course layout.  If that was the case, most marathons would be relatively benign because most race directors try to offer a fair (I didn't say easy) course to attract runners.  The Darlington Marathon course was a fair course, a double-loop rolling course mixing short hills with long gradual uphill's, flats and gradual downhill's.  So, what it made it "too tough to tame" for me?  Let me take you through the experience so that I can figure it out.  With me was my crew chief, Cynthia, who truly is my rock (not to be confused with another NASCAR track in Rockingham, NC) at marathons and in life.  In many ways I am more concerned about the logistics for her at marathons so that she can be comfortable than I am myself.  A pet peeve of mine with marathons, which requires another post, is the lack of respect some marathons have for people who join us to cheer us on race day.  This one was very conducive to having our personal "fans" being able to cheer for us at different stages in the race.  My race reports are different than most.  I write about the entire experience and not just the marathon because at my level of running, its the entire marathon experience that I am after and not just the marathon.

Packet Pickup

Packet pickup was at the Darlington Raceway Museum (or if preferred, race day morning in the infield garage area.)  We wanted to be able to see the museum so we left early enough for a visit.  They staged packet pickup at the back of the museum providing access to the storied history of the track.

Upon Arrival

Click the Read and See More link below for the rest of the story

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Be Confident In This

6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. - Philippians 1:6

I will allow Him to direct me in His good work... I will have faith and hope...

Days 266-273: 34 miles, 2014: 1,306 miles