However, on April 19, 2010 I will line up in Hopkinton, Mass. along with 24,999 of my closest running buddies and the dream will become reality. Seems like a long time away…but it isn’t.
So was the goal “to just qualify” for the Boston Marathon? As I was lying in the medical room following the Quad Cities Marathon receiving two bags of IV solution, my wife looked down at me and said: “Just because you qualified, doesn't mean you HAVE TO run.” Well yeah…but why qualify and not run? And I must confess, at that time my body was a bit beat up.
The week before the Quad Cities Marathon I tested for my 5th degree Black Belt. During the time I was training for the black belt test, I was also training to run a marathon. And then to add more punishment to my already aching body, two weeks after the Quad Cities marathon, I participated in a 200 mile relay race called the Bourbon Chase. By the end of the marathon, my entire body ached. Everything ounce, and part of my body ached. I needed time to replenish my body…to rest my weary bones and muscles. So after two weeks off, after one two mile run, I decided to put on my big boy pants, give myself the opportunity to not only qualify, but TO RUN my dream. I registered for the Boston Marathon.
Was it logically thought out? Did I have a training plan? Did I really want to do all of the training required to not to turn my dream into my worst nightmare? All of these questions and many more flooded my heart and brain. I felt the good angel and the bad angel on my shoulders battling. Part of me wanted to say- “I qualified and do not HAVE TO do it.” After all I am now looking at 51/2 months of training- not just going out for a little run once in awhile to feel good, but honest-to-God training- strength conditioning, speed work, cross training, nutrition, etc. And the other part of me was singing out- "ARE YA KIDDING ME? OF COURSE YOU ARE GOING TO RUN IT- IT IS THE BOSTON MARATHON!?!" I am not sure which angel won- but I will be running into Copley Square in Boston by mid-afternoon on April 19, 2009.
And so, let the training begin. As I go through the next 51/2 months, I will write my thoughts feelings, etc. down documenting my journey. I know the journey will start now in Iowa, and it will finish in Boston probably around 2:30PM April 19TH. I have no idea where this journey will take me during the next 51/2 months, but I look forward to sharing it with you. Lace up your shoes…here we go!
November 9, 2009
John: “Is this heaven?” Ray: “No…It’s Iowa….” John: “For a minute I thought it was heaven.” Ray: “Is there a heaven?” John: “Oh yeah…it’s where dreams come true.”
Running down the country road I had to stop, as I often do, to look at the beauty all around me and to take in the sights and smells of the Midwestern USA- The big green combines swallowing up row after row of perfectly planted corn…the grain silos darting into the skies…a red tailed hawk circling lazily overhead…the smells of the cows in the meadow….a blue sky so clear that it makes you squint.
I love running on days like this. I will try to remember what running was like this day in a month or so when the wind comes blowing down from Canada that freezes my mustache when I take a breath.
I am at the end of my first week of training. I completed all of my prescribed runs. I was tempted to go longer on a couple of days, but either laziness or “solid training practices” helped me to my senses.
It was fun to run again this week. I haven’t felt that way in many months. Let’s see, in the period of one month, I had 1) my 5th degree Black Belt test, 2) the Quad Cities Marathon and 3) The Bourbon Chase- a 200 mile relay race my niece Wendy “talked” me into. My body was tired…very tired. I was scheduled to start teaching another running class the day after the Bourbon Chase. Wisdom – not to mention my aching body- prevailed and I canceled it…not just the one class, but the entire six week running class. I decided to have my annual physical and get myself checked out. It turns out, other than a little slightly elevated blood pressure and cholesterol, I checked out fine. I was told to rest my body, and take two Aleve a day to reduce the inflammation. And so that is what I did. No running…no working out for three weeks. I about went crazy. It is very difficult to go cold turkey from every day training.
However I must say that I feel much better. It is nice to awake in the morning and not start the day trying to stand up and almost falling…or having chronic sore muscles and joints.
So it felt good to run today- especially with the scenery I previously described all around me. And I must confess, I never thought the script of my life would include training for the Boston Marathon in IOWA! As Jerry Garcia once wrote: "What a long strange trip it has been..."
Nov. 16, 2009
As I am out on my runs my mind alternates between various rants and contemplative reflections…usually the beautiful scenery around me…or a line of music. I love listening to Garrison Keillor when I am out and about on my jaunts. After leaving the parish, I would go for a run on Sunday morning instead of going to church- I had no need for church then…feel as though I am back to that place in my life again now…after all- I had 13 years of perfect attendance in Sunday School growing up, and then 24 years in a parish- I deserve a year, or ten, off from church. I have no doubt I will be writing and ranting about my experiences with the church at a later time. So Garrison Keillor tells me about the wonderful little town in which he grew up…the town right out there on the edge of the prairie. And for just a little while I forget who I am and what I am going through and just run. I sometimes run as far as I can and then want to run some more. Over the past few years all that has been on my mind is to run fast enough to qualify to run Boston. I was so focused on the time, I forgot at times how much I love to be out on the road- pretty much any road will do. But there is something about running on these Iowa country roads that makes me forget about how fast I feel I have to run. Nothing is better than seeing a scene so compelling that you have to stop and marvel.
So here it is…I did my runs again this week. I have a couple of nagging aches and pains-left quad and inner right knee. They seem to not bother me as much as before. I wish they didn’t bother me at all. But they do. For the first 3-4 miles they are bearable and don’t keep me from continuing. Somewhere between 4-5 miles I start to feel the aches less. I seem to hit a good stride. I have been trying to shorten my stride, placing my foot almost straight down and turning the stride over faster.
With this stride I am able to shift and balance my weight keeping it under my hips and keeping my core more upright. Will I ever get rid of the aches and pains…I don’t know. But I keep running. Actually as I reflect on this past week, I had at least 3/5 “good” runs…runs when I felt I could have kept going….Tuesday on the track doing speed work was the best. I HATE SPEED WORK just for the record. However,” if I want to run faster….I have to run faster”. And so I start the first mile slowly…with each lap I get a little fast (8laps/mile at the Fit Ctr. track) and then every mile I start a little faster. By then end of the 5th mile, I was haulin’ it pretty good…I am also finding out that some light stretching prior to a run isn’t such a bad thing. And definitely I am stretching out more at the end of each run.
My goal is to have a healthy body, mind and spirit by the time April 19 rolls around. The last thing I want to feel on that morning is dread having to run the 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Boston. I have been disciplined for two weeks now of training. I have not skipped any runs… of course this month is nothing more than building my baseline of miles back up to 30-35 miles/week. I have been tempted to run more miles on any given day, but I have stayed true to the plan. I have increased my mileage too fast in the past and have paid for it dearly for it, usually culminating in the dread zone for the entire last month of training.
Nov. 17, 2009
I read this afternoon that registration for the 2010 Boston Marathon “Closed” on Nov. 13, 2009. There are still places for “charity runners” and additional reserved places- about 5000 total. My original plan was to register two weeks after I started running again on Nov. 1, which would have been Nov. 14 (a day late). No more procrastination! I’ll write more on this topic…later.
Nov. 19, 2009
One of my team mates from the Bourbon Chase--a 200 mile relay race in Kentucky--has caught the “marathon bug” and wanted some tips to run her first marathon. Below are some tips for Ashley.
Going for the marathon, huh? Great. Now some questions. 16 miles is your farthest run, yes? How did you feel when it was over? Did you feel as though you could run more...like 10 miles more? Build upon that long run...the next long run should be 18 miles...and then two weeks after that, 20 miles.
How many miles are you running per week? Make sure you give yourself down time from running. Do not run every day. Run no more than 5 times/week. Normally I would recommend 4 times/week, but the race is 7 weeks away. Still, you must taper off your running a couple of weeks prior to the race.
Since you are getting a training schedule from Anne, here are a couple of tips:
1) Spend one day/week doing speed work. Run at least at the pace you want to run in the race. I start by running slowly and then each mile I pick up the pace..I usually do 6-8 miles like this. (This develops your "fast twitch" muscles used for sprinting...also it increases your endurance which is what your "slow twitch" muscles are for...)
2) Commit to finishing the marathon. I have two criteria for marathons: A. I finish, and B. I don't die. It doesn't matter how long it takes. My favorite running poster from the NYC marathon says: "At 18.5 miles you wonder why you do this...at 26.2...it becomes perfectly clear." Let's talk about the mental side of running a marathon a bit later... (and let's face it...you have to be a bit mental to run a marathon. 3.) HAVE FUN! Enjoy what you are doing. Keep in touch!
P.S. Say hi to all in Kentucky for me!
Nov. 26, 2009
Happy Thanksgiving! I am thankful I am here to say I am thankful. I am thankful for all of you gathered at this table today, and all of our friends and family, past & present, we wish were with us here at this table with us. I am thankful I was able to get up and run this morning, and I am thankful I finally will be running in Boston in April. I am thankful to live in this home, in Iowa and the joy that every day brings.
And I am thankful for the joy all of you bring to my life!
With each passing year I am more thankful than the year before. There are many reasons- many just plain common sense, i.e., I am alive; my friends and family have been blessed with good health and prosperity; etc. But more to the point--I am healthy. O.K., a few nagging aches and pains occasionally, bifocal glasses that can never be found if not on my face; and the newest addition--a pair of hearing aids that remind me just how loud and noisy this world really is.
I look at my wife, Melanie, of 33 years and the two best boys in history. They daily remind me of what family is all about. I think of Thanksgivings in Jamestown with Mom, Dad, Jim, Barb, Grandma & Grandpa Rathmann and friends; and Thanksgivings in years since leaving Jamestown with "congregational" friends & families and others we have met. What would it be like to have all the loved ones in your life- past and present at the same table to give thanks?
I got up and ran in the Scott Co. YMCA Turkey Trot this morning. I was looking to run a 9 minute/mile pace. For the 5 miles I ran 44:33. Not blinding speed, but it is what I wanted to run. I feel as though after the first three weeks or so, I am on schedule. Of course over the next five months, there will be some traveling, not to mention working at United Way and the Fitness Center. But we make time for what we want to do don't we?
Just came up with my first Rave Run- on Forest Grove Rd. in Pleasant Valley, Iowa heading east with the farm on the left. This is one of the places where I generally have to stop and look at what is best about living in this part of this country. When I picture scenes like this- maybe this is heaven.
Nov. 29, 2009
Today was the last run of the first month of training. I did the Turkey Trot on Thursday- a good 9 min./mile pace run; Friday was on off day; yesterday was a 5 miler- not a good run at all; and today concluded the month with a 10 miler- not a great one, but I completed it . As I reflect on it now, it wasn't all that bad.
What have I learned this month about running? I have been working on my stride making minor adjustments to keep my core under my shoulders. After looking at pictures of me running from the past, after 12-15 miles I have let my core break down which defeats me. I have also remembered just how much fun I have while running.
So then the question that needs to be asked is this: What have I learned about myself in this first month of training? As I just mentioned, I have remembered how much fun running is for me, and what a grump I am when I don't run. I have realized that to have this "fun" while running, I have to have a have a healthy mind, spirit and body. My spirit is strong; my mind still wants to control how fast and far I run on any given day; and my body is getting stronger with every run.
All in all- it has been a good month.