Thursday, November 30, 2017

Holiday Run Streak, Day #8

Back at it this morning. Out of bed at 4am, all dressed up, and out on the road. Intentionally didn't put the trash out last night as extra motivation to get up early anyway.

About 30 degrees out, which isn't too bad, but I used it as an excuse to try out my new running pants. Love them, but by the end of mile 3 I was wishing I'd gone with tights. Well, now I know for the future.

Being that I had run such a fast pace last night, and this run is basically twelve hours later, I expected to take it much easier today. So I loaded up an old podcast and locked in a pretty stable 10 minute pace for the four miles. Overall, not the most fun I've ever had running, but definitely easy.

Hopefully tomorrow's run will be a little bit more on a pace I like running, because I'll have had that much more time to recover.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Holiday Run Streak, Day #7

6.7 miles tonight, having a load of fun in some weird unseasonable warmth. Humidity wasn't too bad, either.

Got some new gear on black Friday which came in today. Some sweet light weight arm warmers that kept me nice and cozy tonight, a pair of pants to wear over my tights when it gets real cold (which will likely be February, but we'll see.) and an excellent LED vest that will have me feeling like a Christmas tree, but also be a cool addition to some night races.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Holiday Run Streak, Day #6

Cold one this morning, with a "feels like" of 16. Double layered, tights, etc. Felt pretty good after mile one again, but decided to keep it at an easier pace as to not burn myself out.

Part of the habit building here is not only getting up at 4am, but also doing some things in a particular order. All my running stuff stays down in my little office set up, so when I get up, I put on the coffee maker, get ready and head out for my run. When I get back I pour a cup of coffee, put some eggs on the boil, and head down to my office to sync my run and change.

I figure if I can keep that routine up for a month or so I'll be sitting pretty as an early runner again.

Another habit builder is that I'm using a 4.3 mile route (out and back) from my house. Mentally, it takes up about the same space as a 1-mile run, because it's a really simple out and back, and I know all the hills and divots, places where there's wind, where it's shielded. Eventually when things start coming to me easier, I might mix up the routes in the morning, but to do longer (like a 10k or something) that might require some variation in the prep time, mostly because it might mean eating something before I run.

Also, looking at my sleep data it's no wonder I feel so tired. I woke up in the middle of the night last night (about 1am) and had a hard time getting back to sleep, meaning I banked less than 6 hours. Rough. I know at about 6+ I'm doing really well, and that's when I feel the most rested. I'll have to get to bed early again tonight and hope my circadian rhythms sort themselves out.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Holiday Run Streak, Day #5

Up at 1:30am, had a rough time falling back asleep. Not sure when I actually did, but I woke up at 4am with my alarm, and in the middle of a REM cycle. I set my alarm for another 8 minutes to see if I could shake it, and then willed myself out of bed, made coffee, got all my gear on and headed out.

I'm using the Charity Miles app for this streak (when I remember it) so today's 4.3 was donated to the ASPCA. I'm pretty frustrated that the app doesn't just sync my distance from fitbit or Strava, but that's life. It's for a good cause so I'll do my best to make it part of my habit.

A cold 4.3 today, but felt OK form wise after the first mile. Nearly ran into a buck head first on my way home. When it gets cold, for whatever reason, all manner of wildlife move further into the city, so I tend to see deer, coyotes, and foxes this time of year. Once he stumbled across the highway I cautiously headed on, ever weary that another deer might dart out of the bushes (as one did some years back, and ran head first into the back of my car.)

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Holiday Run Streak, Day #4

Shopping this morning, then a bunch of cleaning the house and cooking. Baby girl helped me "make" the bread this afternoon (sat in her chair, with her own measuring cup and bowl playing with cheerios.) It was fun, though, and I got a bunch of stuff done.

Out for 4.3 tonight. A little bit faster than a couple of days ago, but I'm mostly aiming to stay consistent. The big test in the streak will be tomorrow, because I have a long meeting after work, which means not being home until after dark (late afternoon in New England.)

I'm going to try my best to get up early and run before work, but we'll see how that goes after so many days of running straight. Fortunately, the coffee pot is nice and clean now, so I'll be well caffeinated when I get back.

I've added a bunch of runs to my calendar for next year, and I'm hoping to add more soon. The due date on kiddo #2 is in late May, which makes the planning tough, but I'm hoping to find a full marathon to do at some point next year as well (as I've done one per year to this point.) It may end up being a Spring marathon, but before I can commit to that training I want to see how this streak goes.

22 miles into the streak, and feeling pretty good!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Holiday Run Streak, Day #3

Up early this morning. Went out to the diner to get breakfast, and then the children's museum after.

The children's museum is always a fun mix of folks. You get the full gamut of parents who are super involved, and then the folks who have no social skills what-so-ever and for reasons surpassing logic are still raising children. Very occasionally you meet people who will interact with their own children, your children, and you. Such people are rare. But they give me hope for society. We try to go when there aren't many folks, because it's just easier to get parking, and you can usually get to the stations with greater ease. We're members so we go often, and it's easy to hit those low-traffic times.

Got home, all three of us took a nap. I got up and got in a run. I had planned on doing four miles, but it was almost sixty degrees so I added on another three or so miles, so ended up with 7.6 for the day. Not too bad.

Also have started running with the CharityMiles, app. I was pretty averse to using yet another app, but it is for a good cause, so I'm going to use it for the rest of the streak to run for the ASPCA.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Holiday Run Streak, Day #2

Actually got 8 hours of sleep last night. Pretty happy about that.

I put the Christmas tree up last night before I went to bed, mostly because my tradition used to be to put it up on Black Friday at midnight, but now that we have a kiddo I figured I'd put it up and we could all decorate it together on Black Friday.

Said to my daughter this morning, "I've got a surprise for you!" and she said, "For me?!" and I carried her into the living room. When she saw the tree she said, "Wow! It's Halloween! Happy Halloween!"

I said, "No, it's a Christmas tree."

"Happy Christmas!" she said. Then she put her pirate hat on, from her Halloween costume, and proceeded to help decorate the tree while dressed as a pirate. That was pretty much the best thing ever.

We had left overs, and took a nap after decorating the tree. Woke up at about two thirty and went out for a four-miler for day two of the streak. Nasty headwind, belly full of leftovers, but pretty fun otherwise.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Holiday Run Streak, Day #1

An early morning with the kiddo today. I've been rising early (about 4am) to try and jump start my morning running habit, but today I slept a bit later (730ish) to be awoken by my child. I made a small batch of pumpkin chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, corned beef hash for my wife and the baby, and did a whole bunch of cleaning in the kitchen.

We do a bigger thanksgiving with several friends earlier in November, so the actual Thanksgiving Day we keep for our nuclear family. The wife opted for a ham this year, I have my vegetarian protein. Need to get back in those old habits.

Put the ham in the oven, and headed out at around noon for a 10k. Not too bad, if a little bit chilly. Heart rate monitor has been dead (needs a new battery, and conveniently doesn't take the same battery as my previous HRM) so I did the run with no feedback on my heart rate. Ran quite a bit faster than usual, although I'm sure I was working for it. Tried to go by feel and breathing, and just covered the miles. Got home and got to work finishing off dinner, we ate, and then I was absolutely wiped. 

Might be a rough time of year for some to find these habits, but I'm hopeful about getting back in shape. Being that we aren't at a huge gathering, I wasn't compelled to any of the bad habits like alcohol I normally would be. Still overate, but really only ate one meal today (plus two pancakes) so I think it'll work out. I'll check the food diary tonight, and see...

Looking forward to more miles tomorrow!

Happy Thanksgiving! (and a new beginning)

Happy thanksgiving to any and all who happen across my digital footprint.

It's odd to say, but the usual hoopla around this holiday has sort of been moved earlier in November for me, with our Friendsgiving. It allows for the actual day itself to be a much quieter one (even with a toddler.) A day we spend together, enjoying the comforts of our small nuclear family.

I've not written about this here yet, but this will be our last Thanksgiving as a family of three -- my wife and I are expecting our second child in the Spring of next year. It's exciting, and a little scary, and overwhelming, but a happy time to be sure.

I'll also be starting in on the Holiday Running Streak again. I've done one each year for the last four years. Last year was rough, and I abandoned the streak around the 23rd of December, so my goal this year is for redemption and maybe even to set a new personal distance record during the time frame. My highest distance covered in a streak was 153 miles, so we'll see what happens.

I'll be posting daily as I used to, with brief notes on each run and little stories from the day.

Friday, November 10, 2017

2017 NYC Marathon

Over the bridge, through the fog. 
Watching the buildings emerge -- one at a time, and never ending.
When we cross the bridge we see the others
joined in a common task, united in purpose
and then we're met by the full, warm, and raucous embrace of the city


I've been in a bit of a slump with running. Since the winter of 2016, I've been really dragging. I still love movement, but those bursts of enthusiasm at movement have been less and less. I've watched the pounds add up, and I've felt the joy in movement less and less.

When I got into running back in 2012, I had a list of races I wanted to do. Over time, I've plugged away at them, bit by bit. I've run Big Sur, and I've run Marine Corps. I've run in Leadville (at the 10k) and I've felt the joy of running (albeit only the half) in Boston, and on Heartbreak hill in a whole festival of races.

I'm not saying this as bragging, I'm just saying. I had a wellspring of motivation back then, and I have no idea why it started to dissipate, and I had no idea, really, what to do about that. I've had less time to sleep? But I was only sleeping five or six hours a night when I trained for my first marathon, so that was an excuse, anyway. I knew it.

Approaching NYC I had some of the usual drag I see when I taper. I don't taper well. Rest days are bad for me, and I just become lazy. I got really sick in September, and I knew I wasn't going to PR NYC. I started talking to my wife, and I started changing how I approached the race. I have wanted to run NYC for a few years, and I've entered the lottery three or four times. When it finally came through in February this year that I'd gotten in, I knew I was in some trouble as my inexplicable malaise was going to headbutt right into my marathon joy.

"Have fun with the race. Let go of the other stuff," came the advice from my wife. She was right, of course.


The morning of the race I headed down to the shuttles, which took awhile to get to. I had gone a block over, but figured it wouldn't matter because I was navigating to the library. When I arrived, I found that the que actually extended around an additional two blocks. That was frustrating, but the line moved, we put our stuff into clear bags, and got onto the buses. At this point I really had to use the bathroom, and that wasn't helped by the person in front of me exclaiming, "Is it really going to take 90 minutes to get to the fort?" Fortunately, it only took about forty minutes.

By the time we got to the fort, I was managing to put the race out of my mind and distract myself with other stuff. Food, making sure my gear was straight, that stuff. Fun free hats from a sponsor. I saved that one in my fuel belt to give to my daughter as a gift. I took a picture for some French runners, and people-watched most of the time.

After the three hours, I shucked my throw away clothes into the donation bins, and headed to the corral. I talked with some folks in the corral, I hung out. We spent awhile there. When the race started, it was obviously going to rain. It was windy and cold. I knew I wasn't in shape to run a PR in those conditions. I've never run a marathon in less than ideal conditions, to be honest. Still, I was committed to have a good time at the race I'd been dreaming of giving myself as a birthday present for four years. The race director amped us up, and the second wave started after a blast from a howitzer cannon.

We ran over the Staten Island bridge, and in the distance I could just make out the outlines of buildings in the fog. They seemed to emerge as we got closer, and I was reminded of the Pell Bridge back home -- although this bridge dwarfed that one in a very dramatic way. It was a huge bridge with two levels.

I cooked the first five kilometers, which was a mistake maybe, but I was just too exuberant. I knew at that point I was going to need to walk later on, and I accepted that. I was committed to enjoy the race, love the crowds, and drink in my surroundings.

That attitude got me to mile 11 or so, and I was tired. I started mixing in little bits of walking, talking to volunteers at aid stations, and talking to the other runners. By the time I got to mile twenty, I knew I was really cooked. I just kept on chatting with folks, inter mixing that with some running. I have never felt so embraced by a crowd. I've never seen such boundless enthusiasm, and such friendly runners. In New England (or maybe just further up in the pack) people can be pretty cold. That wasn't my experience in NYC. Volunteers told me how inspired they were to see the runners. There were bands. There were Taiko drummers, and I was reminded of Big Sur.

Big Sur stood out and made me emotional to see the landscapes I'd been dreaming of for countless miles of training, but New York City had a different thing to offer. It had the most incredible spectators, cheering, singing, blowing horns. They came onto the course, looked me straight in the eye and said, "Today is YOUR day. This belongs TO YOU. And you are going to DO this." It was an extremely emotional thing. I'm a people person, ultimately, and to feel the affection of so many people, so explosive a thing, it's almost impossible to describe.

Central Park was a bastard. I had walked it the day before, so I knew the hills. But I was not ready to be that dead in the legs by the time I got there. Still, every time I saw a "TAP FOR POWER" sign I'd give the person a, "This working today?" and tap it, jog a bit to the cheers of the crowd.

As I came through the finish chute I saw the time of 4:39 (my slowest marathon ever) and proceeded through the chute. I was tired -- but elated, and continued chatting. My wife called me, and as I wrapped myself in a thermal sheet it started to rain. A volunteer handed me a bag of food. "I have to be honest with you, I'm having a romantic relationship with this apple. I've never loved an apple this much in my life." I said, to the delight of some other runners.

Through the finish chute we walked, slowly, and in a massive crowd. I sang along with the music on the speakers (and in my head...?) I met a runner from Mexico who complimented my sandals. I proceeded on and got the medal, and the finisher poncho (which is heavy duty, fleece lined, and extremely nice.) And felt that I had gotten much more than I paid for.

I felt better at the end of that marathon than I have at the end of any other race. I'm more physically exhausted today, but I am in such a positive state of mind.

I know this won't be my last marathon. This won't be an end note on my life in distance running. I'm a new person, I'm born again with purpose and drive and a love unending.

There are many more things in store for me and endurance sport, I know that. Life has some more in store for me, too, but that will come later.