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Day Ten: Redemption

January 14, 2012
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Miles: 14.3

Total Mileage: 80.2 (129 kilometers)

Today I woke up feeling the effects of my very swollen eyebrow piercing. My face has one brow puffed up fixing my face in a squint. It has a certain quizzical look to it no matter what I do. I had thought that I would feel better and my legs do indeed. I decide that my face will not stop me from running far and I gear up. I planned to run to my piercer and have it removed to expedite healing.

I know that a run to Hollywood’s Velvet Grip is about 10 miles, I plot my specific route on Google to be sure I’m ready, but having run similar routes I didn’t need to write down the directions. I mostly wanted to know the mileage before I left. Even now that I have a nice GPS, I still want to know roughly how far it is to my destination if I am doing an out and back or a straight out a one way.

I was shocked to find that I almost wasn’t sore at all having taken two slightly lower mileage days. The recovery from the first half-marathon was not so smooth just one week ago. The most painful thing about this 10 miles was having my infected piercing removed by practiced hands. It got this way mostly because it was screwed on so tight that I failed to remove it myself. My efforts left the piercing freshly damaged which led to an infection. This could have been avoided if I had started doing salt soaks like a typical after care situation.

Once removed, my wife picked me up on her way home and I began the regimen of salt soaks, hot compresses and Neosporin. In good spirits, I offered to run 5k with my wife who was jealous of my epic workout. She has opted to do the “twelvathon” challenge where you try to run 12 miles every 12th of every month in 2012! There are bonus points available for doing silly things like eat a deviled egg at every mile. With only two days before the twelfth and two days since a half-marathon (which we ran together) she needed to stretch her legs. We ended up running 4 miles, bringing my total to 14.3.

I am writing this blog retroactively. I got slightly behind but thanks to my Garmin, I can now easily track how far I ran and on which days. If I cant tell from the distance, I can always view a map of exactly where I ran that day. Since I don’t often run the same time of day or route it becomes very easy to track progress. I am officially caught up.

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Day 9: Slow An’ Steady

January 13, 2012
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Mileage: 6.2

Total Miles: 65.9 (106 kilometers)

 

Day nine was slightly easier for me than eight. I made my minimum distance in the early afternoon by going around a small loop near my house. I just go a few blocks, turn, go one block and come home in a rectangle. I did two laps alone in the morning, two laps with my wife and two laps alone. It was refreshing but painful. I stopped at my house almost every lap to drink water and or ice something.

After a long run, the first two days after my body needs extra water. Those days it seems like almost any effort at all results in instant dry mouth. What felt the best about these ten kilometers was knowing that tomorrow I would be able to make up the lost distance. I am behind at this point if I am to make it to 366k and beyond.

Also, I made it to 100k! Triple smiley face 🙂 🙂 🙂

Day 8: My First Fail (My First DNF)

January 11, 2012
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So I couldn’t bear to blog to you the day this happened. Here it is now, after I’ve redeemed myself in miles, meals and chores.

Miles: 3.2

Total Mileage: 59.7 (96 kilometers)

So much of this challenge is about life, not running. Do you have the food you need, the dishes you need and the time you need to succeed? I had most of those things on January 8th, 4:45 am. What I did not have was the time. Time to sleep, time to recover, these are essential things for a runner. Had I been better prepared I would have gotten up and drove to Camarillo. However, I was weak that morning. I was weak mentally more than physically but honestly I was just plain weak all over.

Many people can run every day, but for me this transition has not been gradual. My weeks mileage was more than any other in my life by almost double. Day 8 was a struggle from the moment the alarm went off. I knew almost immediately that any attempt to complete the event was sure to end my month of uninterrupted running. Instead, I missed my event and stumbled out a 5k almost 12 hours later when my body felt… well… “up to it” is a stretch.

Therein lies the DNF, those three letters which every true runner dreams about. Did Not Finish. That is how my Sunday would be remembered in the eyes of the race officials. Though I have a bigger goal in mind. To find out how far. Not in a single day, but a month. I want to know what my body can do without killing myself. Without wearing myself so thin that I need to be checked in to a hospital for my recovery.

What is the ultimate test of the human body? Is it football? Basketball? Soccer? No, these are creations of our mind in the last 100,000 years. What I am doing is deeper, and it goes beyond our minds. Our bodies are built for running, and I want to see how far mine is ready to go. Sunday it was shocked, and I was not ready to admit it.

Why do I say I’ve redeemed myself in miles, meals and chores? Honestly, the meals and chores are the hardest two for me. Miles come naturally to my well fed body. It is the organizational skills that most challenge me. Not the will to run. If anything, the urge to run is an escape… from the chores. After my DNF I did a lot of dishes therapy. It involved the incantation, “I am more than this dish, this is MY dish. It serves ME…”

Day Seven

January 7, 2012

Today’s mileage: 13.1

Total mileage: 56.5 (91k)

You will forgive me for keeping this post short. I have another half-marathon to run tomorrow and this will be the most difficult two days of running I have ever done.

I was sore when I started the Kaiser Permanente Half-Marathon, just like every day since I started this challenge. My wife and I did a 2:30 which was nice and slow, conserving some strength (and my knees) for tomorrow. We had a blast…. up until mile 10 at which point the process became rather torturous on my wife. Nevertheless she finished in style, here is the photographic evidence to prove it: ImageImageImageImage

Day Six: Save Some for Tomorrow

January 6, 2012

Miles: 4.3

Total Miles: 43.4 (67 kilometers)

If you saw these pants running down the road, you’d notice. These pants are the “Cherry Bomb” style from my sponsors www.LoudmouthGolf.com

I got yelled at by a car full of teenagers. "Nice Pants!" and "wooooo"

"Calling attention to yourself is always preferable to being struck by a car" -Leo James

Today has gone better than yesterday. Almost anything is better at this point. I told my mom on the phone that if my digestive symptoms got any worse I would not continue. Fortunately for me, they got better today despite my eating lots of good food.

I just finished 7k, most of it was with my wife. We ran down to a bigger supermarket that has the biggest selection of Lara bars near us. My wife and I love them. Though I have a wider selection of running food, it’s the only bar she would like to eat. Lara bars ingredients are readable and contain no science words. My wife’s favorite, the chocolate chip cookie dough, has just dates, cashews, salt, chocolate chips. Basically they are all a fruit and nut bar but they do have a surprising range of flavor profiles.

I continue to be enamored with my GPS. Lately I am growing more accustomed to the start and stop functions. I setup a “virtual partner” to run the pace of a 2:30 half marathon (5.24mph which should be an easy pace for me) and when we got to the grocery store I just paused the pacer while we shopped. However, the Garmin does not stop completely when you pause, keeping track of your stopped time and running time (pictured below.)

The only way I would ever know my speed before was by doing a lot of math. I would write down the mileage between turns beforehand and then calculate the amount of time it would take me to do each interval at certain speeds. Then using just a cellphone I would check to see how long it took to reach turning points. Obviously a cell is annoying to take out and put away, leading me to run with it in my hand. I also used to carry my phone in my hand for safety reasons, but now I have pepper spray made especially for runners. Neither one is enough to be truly safe, but together they are very powerful. The pepper spray is very ineffective against heart attacks and the cell phone does little to deter unleashed dogs.

Data Data Data!

Notice the 13 mph maximum speed

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Day Five: Height of Sore

January 6, 2012
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Miles: 7.4

Total miles: 39.1

Yesterday was painful. I didn’t make things easy on myself. I’ve always had this idea that “running is no excuse to not live, and living is no excuse to not run.” If I have to drop out of my attempts this weekend, it will be due to the “living” I’ve done lately.

First I stayed up till about 9:00am before finally sleeping a few hours. I did a light 3k around the block before I finally went to sleep. I awoke ravenous, ate some good wild salmon I had marinated overnight and about ten other things. With “dinner” I had a beer but my stomach may have reacted poorly to this.  An hour later I was running and I had a shooting pain in my stomach that made me stop and lift up my shirt to see if I’d burst some huge blood vessel.

I half expected to see my stomach becoming covered in a scary bruise but it did not. I told myself I would walk a while but after thirty seconds I could see that my “virtual partner” (provided by my gps) was catching me. I ran on without further discomfort, but the shock would come the next morning. I awoke today and my stool was black, which most likely means it had lots of blood in it.

I know it sounds bad, but there is some Crohns disease in my family. I’ve always thought that I might have it and things like this have happened to me before on a much less extreme scale. Today I have almost no energy, possibly from some blood loss. I also have lost weight for the first time during this effort. Three pounds and it was probably mostly water. It basically feels like I didn’t properly absorb food or water last night. Today has been 100% about diet.

I did two big laps around the block for a slow 4k and then took a break to ice things. Many things require ice now, knees and one ankle in particular. Then I went out for slightly more than 5k to finish up today’s 12k. I was so pleased to be making my mileage and keeping up with 1k for every day. In the first 5 days I have covered 60k! I’m a little in shock about that.

I am going to go and attempt to run about 4 miles today. This was already my plan, to take it easy the day before my double header weekend of back-to-back half-marathons. I’m sure if this blog were more popular I should say something like “consult a physician before running long distance while your insides are bleeding.”

The truth is that the running I do isn’t as strenuous as most forms of exercise. I don’t run fast, I don’t have to change directions suddenly, and the motions of my limbs are very consistent compared to many activities. Even a slightly sprained ankle doesn’t hurt if you are running carefully and not making clumsy balance corrections with your feet. This is because our ancestors died if they couldn’t run. In the scheme of things, for the native human almost nothing was so important as their legs. You will notice that long distance runners can “walk it out” better than almost any other athlete. This is not because they are just tougher; it is because our bodies are built for this sport above all others.

Day Four (part two): Pacing for Jessica’s 5k

January 5, 2012
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My wife got home and I again put my Garmin 405cx to the test. Not to mention these crazy/awesome pants from loudmouth golf. Throw in one of their very nice dry weave polo shirts with pink tipping and I’m ready to shock the rural streets near our home.

The goal: 5k in less than 30 minutes. I carried our electrolyte beverage (nun tablet in water with a tangerine juiced into it) and set the pace for her. An average pace of 6.2 miles per hour is needed, an easy thing to track using the “virtual partner.” We built up a lead of about 1 minute early on and then held that lead throughout. We finished in 28:48, which was very fun. Jess didn’t really know how fast she could do it so this is a good benchmark for future 5k runs.

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Our average pace was 6.5, but at first glance the speed can seem sporadic. But actually, the course was only mostly flat, and look at what my heart rate graph looked like:

 

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This consistency tells me that our changing speed was just a response to changing conditions on the course. Our total elevation change was just over 100 feet, a relatively flat run by most standards. Still enough to make running a constant speed less efficient than reacting to the gradient. I know I can run it faster, how fast may have to wait but I can say this much: I will probably run it in 25 minutes during the Cancer Hope Foundation 5k Saturday the 14th. But my next race is this Saturday in Irvine, the Southern California Half-Marathon! I will be running with my wife, but because I have another half-marathon the day after, I don’t expect to set a personal record. But I will take a moment to brag about my first flat course half marathon time: I am in 5th place with 2:01:45, though it is worth mention that a few runners completed the first half of a full marathon ahead of me and it was a small race.