Dec. 3, 2009
This is the first week of “real” marathon training. Not that what I was doing last month wasn’t marathon training. Last month was unique for me- as all months tend to be. Last month was about getting my weekly baseline back to 30-35 miles/week. It turns out I averaged 32 miles/week for the month. It was the first month in a long time that I actually enjoyed heading out the door and running. It was perfect running weather on the weekends. During the week I did all my running on the track at the BLFC. I know that by the time I get back from Nick’s graduation from the Medical University of South Carolina on Sunday, the weather will be cold until April. Running outside in the winter in Iowa isn’t my idea of heaven. So having good runs outside on these country roads through November was a real bonus.
I went out Saturday morning for a 5 miler- a “run around the block” in Iowa- and thoroughly enjoyed it. I remember the first time I ran around the block after moving here two years ago- I couldn’t run any of the hills without stopping. I didn’t realize how hilly Iowa was. But I must confess, it makes for good training runs. I have also been trying to run with a little more intensity- shorter strides with a quicker turn over. Doing that seems to be easier on my knees and quads.
Sunday was the first long run- a 10 miler- since the Bourbon Chase in Kentucky. It was a little chilly (40ish) at the start with a wind from the northwest. So I bundled up in a techniques shirt, long johns top and my Miami Marathon windbreaker over my “Capt. America”’ tights. To top it all off I had a hat and gloves, just to make sure I wouldn’t be cold. I have heard that after running and warming up, you have to figure the temperature is going to be 15 degrees warmer. So if the temperature was 40ish plus 15 degrees= 55ish. Long story short- I was sweating like a stuffed pig at about the 3.5 mile marker. So I stopped at the house when I got around the block for the first time- took off the windbreaker, hat and gloves- put on my shell vest and resumed my run. Oh my….. somehow while I was inside- which made me even warmer and sweatier- it had gotten colder outside and the wind was even stronger. By the time I go back on the road the sweat was clinging to the surface of the long johns top and at about 3.5 miles into the second part of this 10 miler, I was freezing.
Let me just say this about that: I was thoroughly enjoying the run, except that my body temperature was all out of whack. What a way to ruin a perfectly good run! I need to figure out the right running outfit for that temperature. Who knows what April in Boston may be like next year?
And just let me say one more thing: the fear I felt starting this particular 10 mile run. Maybe it was facing a double-digit-number-in-miles run after feeling so badly the last time I ran one. The Law of Karma basically states that what you sow, you shall reap. I had sowed many bad miles in previous runs resulting in a massage therapist stopping a massage and making me literally apologize to my legs for what I had done to them. All Karmic debts must be repaid. Maybe it was because I vividly remember the pain I felt as I was forced to start paying my running debt. The apology was the beginning of my healing and the debt being repaid. (Note to self: “Confession is good for the soul”… I hate it when I quote myself!)
And so with the exception of the body temp thing going on, I felt pretty strong going up all the hills on the block now- with the exception of the Wells Ferry heartbreak hill- from Valley Rd. to our S/D. I make it about ¾ of the way, and then have to walk for about 30 seconds before running to the entrance of the S/D and the sprint to the “finish line” at our street corner. It doesn’t matter if it is after the first lap of the block or the second- ¾ of the way and out! You will be hearing more about this present day running mountain as it becomes a future day running molehill.
December 10, 2009
It has been a week since my last writing. I wrote last as Melanie & I were on our way to Charleston, S.C. to celebrate Nick’s graduation from the Medical University of South Carolina, College of Nursing. I am not sure if I have ever seen Nick more content and at peace. He has blossomed this past year- totally engaged and engaging with other the other nursing/mursing students and the faculty. Now on to the National Boards next Tuesday…
I did run while in the sunny warm South…which wasn’t sunny or warm. I did an 8 miler along the Battery, from the Ashley River to the Customs House, and then throughout the entire downtown area. What a spectacular city Charleston is in which to run. The architecture was beautiful in every direction. I wondered what each one of the houses along the Battery on Concord St. looked like on the inside, as they were all amazing on the outside.
And just let me say this: the runners in Charleston aren’t the friendliest ones I have met. When I go out running here, or most places, everyone I meet waves, says hello, etc. Even the drivers wave as they hopefully move over to the other lane of the road. I must have run by 10-12 runners in Charleston and nothing….not a word, not a wave, and for the most part, not even a glance. I can’t believe they were all that focused on their running and breathing to even acknowledge my (or anyone else’s) presence as they trudged down the road.
But unfriendly runners aren’t the point of this rant. The beauty which is Charleston is the story. I could live there in a skinny second. There is richness to the city- steeped in history. Some of the history is good to remember, some of it not so good. Running by”The Market”, as it is called now, is certainly different than it was back in the days of the mid-1800 when the goods for sale at the market were the human variety.
I felt great running through the city streets. I forgot my heart rate monitor and stop watch- I seem to enjoy my runs sans measuring tools of the running world much more than when I remember them. Let’s see, to enjoy the run for the run’s sake, and not to measure oneself against anyone else- what a novel concept, I must remember that!
One last comment on the runners I met. There was one runner with whom I was waiting at a light. We said the pleasantries of “Hello, how’s the run?” and such to pass the red light time. A real pleasant type of guy I thought. My mind started to change regarding the Charleston runners I had met- maybe all of them were just not having as much fun as I was having. I asked my newly found happy runner how to get to Calhoun St. “I don’t know,” he said, “I don’t have a clue… I’m not from around here? Aren’t you?”
December 14, 2009
What an interesting week! For the most part it was one of the “easy weeks” for running- no LSD run; pretty consistent 6-8 miles/day. But there were a couple of firsts this week:
1.) I met with my new running class at the Fitness Center for the first time Monday evening. The most students that had signed up for any of my running classes prior to this one were 7. This time, 16 signed up. Of that, 13 eager “runners in training” actually showed up for the class. They range in age from early 20’s, to early 70’s; they range in experience from first time ever runners, to marathon runners; but what they all appeared to bring was a desire to learn how to run a little bit better than they currently run, and to get in better shape. We met Monday & Thursday evening with an “optional” run on early Saturday morning. This is going to be fun. You will be hearing a good deal more about them.
2.) I started my p90x workouts. The long and short of it is this: 90 days straight of working out different muscle groups of the body everyday. Just thinking about 90 days straight of working out is enough to keep most people from even starting it. After the first workout, I was sore for two days! I am now seven days into it. These exercise routines just might be what helps me from “bonking” on my LSD runs, not to mention Heartbreak Hill outside of Boston. There are excellent stretches with which to warm up, and the workouts are each “extreme”. The workout that gets the prize thus far is “Ab Ripper X” which is done three times a week for the first three weeks. (If anyone wants more information about any of the workouts, or the nutrition, performance and weight loss products go to www.beachbodycoach.com/RAYPORTER.)
So I have added these two firsts this week in addition to my running. I have only missed two days of running my schedule. Those days were traveling to and from Charleston. Someone asked me if I planned to add two days of running when I have rest days. Absolutely not. One thing I have learned in the previous training is: don’t overtrain! My mantra of the day states: “Accept that the way things are at any moment, is exactly the way they are supposed to be.” Do I feel badly that I missed my runs for a couple of days? Yes I do. Do I feel guilty about it- of course I do, I was raised Lutheran. Will I make up the distance on future “rest” days? No I will not. In prior training, I thought the mileage was the most important thing. I am starting to realize the process of getting in the best shape possible is the most important thing. There is a difference between working out and training. Are you doing it because you want to do it, or feel you have to do it? The goal is not just to get down the road, but to be transformed in the process. So far I am doing it because I want to….hopefully this will be the case in early April 2010 as well.
I remember after one marathon as I told someone the pain I experienced from cramping up the last 5 miles- “Why didn’t you stop?” was the question. “Because a marathon is 26.2 miles” was the answer before I even thought about it. Crossing the finish line means you can stop. Stopping only happens at the 26.2 mile marker. When I train, teach, run, etc. I always attempt to give it my all. The mentors who taught me expect it of me; my students expect it of me- if they don’t, they need to. I certainly expect it of them. But most importantly I expect it of me. I may not be the brightest, or the fastest, or the strongest runner or human being- but I am not going to hold anything back. I am not going to leave anything on any course. When asked what I hope to do in a marathon the answer is always: 1) Finish, and 2) Don’t die! So far I have accomplished those two goals rather well. So the only way that #1 won’t happen, is if #2 doesn’t happen somewhere along the marathon route. Stay tuned…
Is it a pride thing? Perhaps. However, I have always found pushing one’s mind, spirit and body to the extreme is humbling. Just how far can you push yourself-physically, mentally and spiritually? When I think I can’t go any farther is when I want to run one more mile, take one more stride. And as a result, I tend to push everything to the limits. Reminds me of a line from a Billy Joel song: “I don’t why I go to extremes.” O.K., I just admitted I know why I do. And so before attempting another 26.2 miles I plan to be better trained, better fueled and in the best possible shape- not just physically, but mentally and spiritually as well.
December 18, 2009
The bleak midwinter is upon us, and it isn’t even officially winter yet. It has been cold and dismal the past week. I miss running outside, but there is something about running in wind-chill of -10-20 degrees BELOW ZERO that makes me thankful for an indoor track at the Fitness Center. Up until about a week ago, I was under the assumption that 8 laps around the track was a mile. The truer distance- with the aid of a GPS is more like 81/2 laps….D’OH! I was never able to understand how I can run 8:30 minute miles consistently on the indoor track, but then find it difficult to average 9 minute miles outdoors. Now I know.
It seems like it has been a light running week, but I have run no less than 7 miles on any run. I am doing my p90x workouts everyday; still drinking my Whey Protein shake for lunch everyday instead of my normal daily milkshake; had a colonoscopy (which turned out fine); drinking down my Recovery Drink after every workout; went to a chiropractor for an adjustment. In the words of James Brown: “ I feel good!”
Tomorrow I have a 10 miler. It is supposed to snow 2-4 inches tonight and stay cold. 10 miles on an indoor track…85 laps…sigh. It is not that I don’t want to run 10 miles. I would rather be on a Caribbean island- anyone of them- where I would probably run 10 miles anyway- but indoor going round and round is just going to be boring. So…what will I come up with to occupy my mind for the 90-100 minutes I plan to take to run the distance? Inquiring minds want to know….
December 19, 2009
- Top Ten things to think about when running ten miles on an indoor track:
- Why are you running 10 miles?
- Why are you running ten miles on an indoor track?
- Breathe in time with your strides.
- Keep your pace within your heart rate zone.
- These compression socks do make a difference.
- I am glad to see 6 of my runners here this morning.
- Why isn’t there scenery painted along the walls on the outside of the track?
- How many more laps are there?
- Pick up the pace for the last mile with shorter strides and quicker turn over on the feet.
- Is it over already?
(NOTE TO SELF: Doing a Chest & Back workout, and then an Ab Ripper X workout after the 10 miles was a DUMB thing to do. From now on the workout needs to be prior to running.)
December 20, 2009
What a wonderful day of working out! Ever had one of those days when you could workout all day- or at least thought you could? Today was one of those days. I did an hour workout (Kenpo X, which I have modified to my style of martial arts) After yesterday’s experience I am glad I worked out first. And then I decided to go for a run- OUTSIDE! Now running outside is not such a big thing- unless….it is 26 degrees out with a wind chill of 17. But I could not face another lap around the track today. So outside I went. After the intital “OMG! What am I doing out here?” phase, I settled my breathing into what is becoming a comfortable pace; got my heart rate up to 155- steady…steady… In the meantime, I kept thinking of every excuse to stop and turn around and go back to the warmth of the fireplace at the house. As I was thinking those kinds of thoughts on the left side of my brain, the right side of my brain kept pushing me farther and farther away from the house – cross over Forest Grove, go down the hill, under the I-80 overpass and up the next hill. Wow- that was fun! Crossing over Spencer’s Creek, as the light snow began, I saw three does, two big ones and a little Bambi one out in the field. When I turned around at the top of the hill, I looked up and saw a bald eagle circling overhead. Not only did the right side of the brain win this battle, but it made for one of the most enjoyable runs of the week.
It was 5 miles of hills. A month ago facing these hills would have been enough to get me back in front of the fireplace very quickly. What a difference a month of regular training runs and daily working out makes in a body. With that said, I still haven’t been able to conquer the Wells Ferry “Mountain-soon-to-be-Molehill” hill. It was my last mile today. I planned it that way on purpose. I am coming closer- only had to walk for 8-10 seconds and then off at pace again I went. The good news is that once I got to the top, I felt good enough to think about running a few more miles. So it is not a leg issue- legs felt fine. Upon reflection it appears to be a respiration issue- maybe the cold air going into the lungs so quickly and deeply. I don’t know, but no excuses are allowed from here on. I will conquer “Mt. St. Wells Ferry” Rd….and it will be the next time I run it! And just for what it’s worth….everything in life is a respiration issue.
I think I finally understand the importance of staying within a heart rate pace that can be sustained- for me it is 150-157 beats/second. 163 is my maximum using the simple formula of 220 - age (57) = 163. If I go faster than that, I bonk. At this pace, while snacking on performance bar pieces, I know I could have gone further today. My recovery time was minimal. Just prior to the last mile, my heart rate decreased to the low-130 while running down hill. I actually felt stronger on the last mile (albeit Mt. St. Wells Ferry respiration issue) than on the first mile. Now the goal is to build more endurance and speed maintaining that heart rate- enough endurance and speed to take me at least 26.2 miles... or at least up that blasted hill!
I have enjoyed working with the running class this week. Two weeks into the class and just about all of them have been actively engaged. 6 showed up yesterday at the Fitness Center for the “optional” running class/week. It will be interesting to see how many of them run over the two week break in this session. I have cleared it for them to be able to run at the Fitness Center- members and non-members- as often as they like.
This class loves to ask questions- which is good. I hate classes when no one asks questions- makes me wonder if they are really paying attention. Most of the questions have pertained to nutrition- what do I eat prior to a run? What do I eat post run? What do I eat when not running? So after the holidays during the class warm up and conditioning time, the subject: nutrition!
December 23, 2009
A little more than a week left in 2009. I am looking forward to the boys coming to visit for Christmas. I know those days of the four of us on Christmas morning will come to an end sooner than later. But we will have this Christmas to enjoy.
I went to the Fitness Center to work out, run and then teach karate after my day at United Way. I started with Ab Ripper X- “Why not?” I thought. “I will keep up with ‘Tony Horton and the X-tremes’….” (sound effect: LOUD BUZZER!!!!) O.K. I am still not able to do 25 reps of all 11 movements. But I am doing 18-20 of all of them. Right now I am happy with that. When I finished and came out of the Aerobics Room, the Fitness Director said facetiously in passing: “Sounds like you really enjoyed that?” I guess I was louder than I thought with my “breathing”. I did enjoy it. Really…
So then it is on to the track… 8 miles…68 laps. A sudden realization comes upon me- I forgot my iPod at home this morning. D’OH! A therapist once asked me if I ever ran without my iPod- “Sometimes you just need to listen to the rhythm of the world around you…” And on any other run-outside- I would agree. But I was on the track…in doors- what possible rhythm could there be? For what would I listen?
First things first…take a couple of laps to get loose and warm. Relax your shoulders. Get a comfortable stride established. Then increase heart rate to 150-155 and breathe steady with it. Sounds so analytical…imagine that. The first couple of miles are always a de-stressor. When I run I am alone- especially when I remember to bring and wear my earphones. It is just me- no excuses. It always feels good to start the run- get the body limbered and warmed up. Today as I go around the track I notice and hear all the usual people- the other runners, the walkers, the guys shooting hoops. I notice people here and there…see and greet friends whom I have met over the past couple of years. All of them bring a smile to my face. Has it really been almost two years since we moved to Iowa?
I see one of my favorite Iowa families walking around the track. I have known them for over a year. They just joined the Fitness Center about a month ago and I made a deal with the son to run one lap with me every time I see him. He agrees and off we go. As if he needed incentive, I told him that I would run backward. The whole way around the track, he had a great big smile on his face. I continued my run for another 5 miles. He and his Mom & Dad are still walking, and he asks me if he can run another lap with me. And so we do. Yes, I ran it backward again, and yes he had a big grin on his face this time as well. And this time, so did I.
Gleaning for the Day: To enjoy the rhythm of a run: Do it with friends around you and…SMILE!
December 25, 2009
“…and in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world shall be enrolled…”
Merry Christmas to all of you reading this- perhaps a bit late, but it is that thought in my heart that counts. Today was a rest day for running training. After a delicious and filling waffle breakfast- we had to try out a new Christmas present didn’t we?- the boys and I decided to do an “Arms & Back” workout and then finish it with the dreaded “Ab Ripper X”. Almost three weeks into it and the Ab Ripper X isn’t so dreaded anymore. I am doing 18-20 reps of each exercise. I don’t have an 8 pack yet- still more like a quart and a half, but I am getting closer.
I look forward to running tomorrow and trying out my Christmas toy- a Garmin Forerunner 405. Before I use it however, I believe I shall have to go to Ga. Tech and get a degree in engineering.
December 26, 2009
A 4 miler today at the Fitness Center. Unfortunately the GPS does not pick up the needed satellites inside the Fitness Center. I shall have to wait until there is a day above 20 degrees when I can run outside to check this new “wonder watch” out. However I can track everything I ever wanted to know about my heart rate, and many things of which I haven’t a clue. I can maintain a 150-155bpm heart rate on a consistent basis now. It will be interesting to see how that translates into speed and endurance when I brave the cold and run outside.
After the run, Josh and I met one of my karate students and did about a 90 minute workout finishing with a killer kicking drill taught to Josh and me by our dear friend Jack Jackson. I have no doubt he watched us from above and laughed.
December 27, 2009
Today was an LSD run. For you non runners that does not mean that I took hallucinogens, and then laced up my Pearl Izumi’s for a magical mystery tour run. For the record: LSD= Long Slow Distance run. I was scheduled to run 12 miles. Given the facts that we had about 9 inches of snow overnight, and that it was about 15 degrees, I decided to go to the Fitness Center.
“The Fit” on a Sunday morning is quiet. When I started running at 8:55, there were only four of us on the track. I put on Erwin Hefler and listened to some good ol’ Chicago boogie blues for the first 6 miles. I kept my heart rate between 150-155. It appears the more I run, the faster I can go and keep that rate steady. Before I knew it, I did finished 13.1+ miles in 1 hour and 45 minutes. (8.5 laps/mile X 13.1 miles= 111.35. For the record, I ran 112 laps.)
I felt good for the entire run. My quads were not tight and burning. I felt as though I could have run farther. Of course I also maintain the first 15 miles of a marathon are “easy miles” so I am still in that zone. The next 11.2- especially the last .2 are “workingman’s miles”. We shall see what happens on the 20 & 23 mile LSD.
December 31, 2009
“Should old acquaintance be forgot…and never brought to mind…” I have never quite understood that song line. Why do I want to forget my “old acquaintances” and never think about them again? Most old acquaintances are my dearest friends.
I ran for the last time this year earlier today. The run Tuesday was an 8 miler- I felt good and finished strong. The run yesterday was….well, it is over. Not every run is going to be a good one. Yesterday’s run was far from good. My breathing was off with my stride; my watch acted up; my dog ate my running shoes…O.K., that was just to see if you are still reading this tome. The long and short of it is this: I didn’t want to run yesterday, but I did run 5 miles. I was scheduled to run 6 miles. So this morning instead of running 6, I ran 7. I know, I know, I said earlier that I was not going to make up any distance I had not run. But today I felt good.
I started the day doing my “Ab Ripper X” workout with another Fitness Instructor. I am still not at 25 reps/exercise, but I am at 20 on all of them. And then with a little motivation from “The Jersey Boys” soundtrack I was running in circles- 60 of them around the track. What a difference a day makes. What a difference when I don’t let external things control my run. What a difference when the right side of my brain kicks in. What a difference when I sing- sometimes rather loud- as I run the track….and what looks I get from others on the track. From their smiles/laughter, I have to assume they enjoyed the serenade.
This last day of the year, and the last year of the first decade of the 21st century is a gorgeous one along the banks of the Mississippi River. As I reflect on running this year, I estimate that between teaching and training I have run about 1500 miles- am I out of my mind????? I also believe this year started with me weighing in at 188 lbs. with a 34 inch waist. Today I am at 177 with a 32 inch waist. More importantly, I feel good. It has been a good year. Some dreams have come true. Some others are still to be realized. “Old acquaintances” have not been forgotten, with some relationships having been re-established and deepened. In the movie “Forrest Gump”, Forrest tells his Jennie about his running, and the spectacular places it took him and she says that she wishes she could have been there with him. “You were,” he says, “every step of the way.” At one time or a hundred, all of you have been with me running this year. It has been your encouragement, spirit, laughter, and love that enabled me to get through many miles of training and races when I had my deepest doubts that I could take one more stride.
As I look out from my desk across our ravine there is the bluest of skies making the freshly fallen snow a brilliant white in the sun light. There is a calmness, and a peace to this day. As I was running in circles this morning, I tried to remember a time in my life when there was no war. I cannot remember one. And so my parting wish for all of you this year is summed up in the words of a song sung by Curtis Mayfield many years ago: “Let’s all get together and bring peace to the world!” Happy New Year!
Seeing you running down the road in 2010!