Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pushing Through

I haven't felt like I did on my run this morning in a long time.  Just not quite right.  Just not excited about the run.  And not able to keep anything near the pace I'm used to.

I'm at a hotel waiting to make a presentation later today and then head back to Baltimore.  I look forward to the presentation.  I look forward even more to being back.

What caused my lack of being "into" it this morning?  I don't really know.  It could have been the harder run than I planned yesterday morning.  It could have been the walk from 30th Street Station to Penn's Landing when I got in last night.  It could have been not enough food or not enough hydration between leaving Baltimore and going to sleep last night.  It could have been not enough sleep.  It could have been too much stress.  There are a lot of things it could have been.

It doesn't matter what caused it, though.  I must press on.  And I must decide whether to continue pressing on.  What is running about?  Exercise?  Proving myself?  Feeling good?  Socialization?  Serving God?  Hopefully all of the above.  But as I struggle to keep all my priorities in my family's life, my spiritual life, my physical life, and my work life in order, it is sometimes hard to figure out.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Bad Mile Does not Lead to a Race Beyond Redemption

When you think about it, there are lots of expressions with essentially the same message--don't give up just because something has not gone well.  I have to say that I was reminded of this in a crystal clear way during my 16 mile run yesterday.  For the overall pace, I ran 7:37's. As someone I know who is a student of mine (when it comes to public health) and a mentor of mine (when it comes to the difference running can make in people's lives) would say, "That's not too shabby."  Agreed.  I realize that for some of the people whom I have met through running and whose presence I love being in--that would be their fastest race time--and then some.  But, I have been lucky to bring myself to a level where that is good for me, but I want more.  As a training pace--nothing to complain about.

However, it was, by no means, a constant 7:37 pace throughout.  In particular, as I ran the perimeter of the lake in Druid Hill Park (where it goes up along the outside of the park), I ran a 7:15.  That surprised me when I looked at my watch.  Three miles later, I saw 8:14.  That was where I had to make a fundamental decision--cruise in the last three miles at around the same pace or maybe at 8's, or try to regain my composure and get back to the original goal I'd set of somewhere in the 7:45 to 7:30 range.  Well, I have been working on training myself to overcome the mental (and physical) hurdles of regaining my composure, and I did, running the last three in 7:44, 7:37, 7:33 with a net elevation gain.  My ability to get back what I wanted reminded me that "a bad mile does not make a race a lost cause" (or beyond redemption).  And that applies to so many other things in life.

I can have a bad family event--but I don't give up.  I can have a bad day at work--but I go right back again.  I can even have a project at work that goes badly--still, time to get right back on track and try again.  Unless the mile is the last mile or it is so bad that I pretty much have to stop the race, I always have the chance to keep going.  Again, that carries over into life.  And God always gives a second chance.  People usually do.  But not always.  When people don't that can be one of the hardest things to deal with.  Still, I hope for the best and try to get back up and fix what went wrong.

The lessons from running to life and life to running never stop amazing me.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Turning Inward

So, I haven't written in a while.  I haven't posted much on Facebook lately.  I haven't run with others much lately.  At least two of my new year's goals already seem blown out of the water--no balance at work, just a whole lot of work.  And very little time with friend--not even running and I'd said I was hoping for some non-running activities.  What have I done other than work?  I've been reading to my seven year old.  I've been upholding time with my seven year old.  I've been spending more time with Sherry--so trying to enjoy the second half of the 20th year of my marriage by taking some ballroom dance lessons.  And, my reference to the title of this entry, I have made sure that I hit all my "critical" workouts (the long, perhaps slow, distance run each week; the tempo run; and the track workout).

Why is that important?  I've written before about how my running changed from something for me to something for others.  It still is for others in some ways.  I've been running with Back on My Feet as much as I can.  I help as a training coach.  But, otherwise, I have missed multiple weeks of running track workouts with my friends.  I haven't run a long (perhaps slow) distance with anyone in a long time.  And, I never run tempos with anyone.  On top of that, I've run on the treadmill quite a bit lately.  All of it focused on one thing which has nothing to do with anyone else but has everything to do with me--can I qualify for the Boston Marathon.  And with a secondary focus--can I get a little time to myself to think about something other than work?  I still love to run with others and hope to get back to running with others a lot in the very near future.  But, for right now, running is serving my purposes.  Fitness.  Stress reduction.  Time to lose my mind in numbers.  All are good.  All are part of my personal (but not very spiritual--aside from believing that God is smiling when I run fast) well-being.

And I hope that all that seem to signify turning inward for a little while are a percursor to turning back to running and being with others again to make a positive impression on others.  

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Run for Joy

I have rarely wanted to or felt a need to run as much as I did today.  Monday, I left Baltimore, was driven to Dulles airport outside Washington DC, flew to Los Angeles, waited, and then flew to Sydney, Australia.  The last of those flights involved being on the plane for more than 15 hours.  I have to admit that being in business class for the flight made it a lot less disruptive to my comfort than flying in economy.  However, after all that time on any airplane, my legs were just ready to go.  The last time I flew for that long, I had just twisted an ankle—so my body was not looking to run so soon.  The time before that was shortly before I ran my first marathon and I had just run a half marathon.  So, my legs were in recovery mode rather than looking for more running.  The time before that, I had not yet even started my training for my first marathon. 

So, today, I just wanted to get out the door and run.  It was not the prettiest run—in terms of how I felt or the pace at which I was running.  I didn’t have my contacts cleaned properly so I had to run with my glasses on—just not fun, although I don’t worry so much about how I look running with glasses as I used to.  The temperature was nearly 80 degrees Farenheit.  When I left Baltimore it was in the 30’s.  My body was not as ready for the change as I had hoped and I am not in the habit of hydrating so much while I run at this time of year.  I think my body had still not entirely recovered from the blood donation last week.

However, I just felt good. I took my time.  I ran an average pace of just under 10 minutes per mile.  I ran along the path from Coogee Beach to Bondi.  That was pretty—unlike me.  However, some of the prettiness comes from the terrain and the terrain involves a lot of ups and downs.  The ups often involve steps rather than just hills and the steps take a different amount of effort. 

But, I truly enjoyed every minute of it.  I felt good when I got back.  I had the energy to correspond with my wife via FB chat and then shower and enjoy a lengthy and casual lunch with a colleague here to speak about her dissertation and just to catch up.  Then, I crashed. 

It was truly what running for joy should mean. 

Tomorrow and the next day—or the day after when I run an 11K race here—I can worry about times. 

As a friend says, “Run strong.  Run with joy.”