Friday, October 26, 2007

Five Long Miles

Warm up, walked .5 miles on the treadmill.
Quick stretch.
5 miles in 63:57.
Cool down, walked .5+ miles.
Longer stretch.

Several observations occur to me. First, my brand new running shoes are laced too tight and now my feet ache. Second, I had the same minor problems with the first two miles, but miles three and four were pretty good. Mile five was bad. And by bad, I mean really bad. It got a lot harder after four miles. At four and a half miles, it got really hard. The last quarter mile was serious death march. I was down to 4.3 miles per hour by then and almost half stumbling a lot. Every tenth of a mile was pure struggle. Back around mile three I was enjoying conquering those mental demons, imagining myself as some kind of dragon slayer or something. Well every single one of those demons and dragons was waiting for me in that last quarter mile. And finally, one last observation, I’m a lot more flexible after five miles of running. I hope I can avoid every muscle in my body cinching up like leather straps drying on wood.

If I can run five miles, the frostbite series should be fairly easy. I don’t know how soon I’m likely to try anything longer than five miles though. Right now, I can’t imagine how marathoners do it, much less those super endurance runners doing 100+ mile races.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Why I recommend "Knights of Dark Renown"

by David Gemmell

More than any other writer, David Gemmell excels at showing how heroes are created when real people are forced into extraordinary circumstances. He shows that the flaws which make us human can be overcome and he regularly demonstrates how people are harder on themselves than anyone else would ever be.

In Knights of Dark Renown, David has nearly outdone himself. Almost every character displays growth and unexpected depth. If you value the heroic human condition, do yourself a favor and check this out.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Spain and Italy

I lived in Italy when I was 2 years old. I have memories from it but they seem almost surreal. I remember our dog Prince jumping out the second story apartment window. I remember eating most of a bottle of Flinstones’ vitamins. I barely remember the earthquake of ‘74 and living in a tent immediately after it. I have an image of the canals of Venice and another of a large wine bottle I got into. I don’t know how many of my memories are real and how many were fabricated in my mind to match events or stories I heard my parents tell.

I lived in Spain for 3 years in the early ‘90s. I was in the US Navy and stationed at Rota in Andalucia, across the bay from Cadiz. What little Spanish I know is marred by the lisping Andalucian accent (making it Cadeeth, not Cadeeze).

Training Going Great

I set another personal distance record today. After lifting weights with my trainer for 30 minutes, I ran 4 miles in 49:15. I may not set any world records but there is no way I won’t finish the runs on the Frostbite series. The 5K is in the bag.

I feel so good when I finish a run. The first 1.5 miles today were really hard. It seemed like I was checking the clock every minute. My mind was wearing down and my willpower struggled to fight back. I refused to quit. Nothing could make me stop. After each glance at the clock I told myself I’m not stopping now. Finally, in the second half of the second mile, I started to ease into my stride. Things smoothed out and the minutes just rolled by. It is incredible to realize I just don’t have to stop.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Running or Cheating?

I was invited to “enjoy Fall 2007 by having one new and fulfilling experience in October, November, and December.” Since I wasn’t invited until October was half over, I’m going to count running 5K for the first time ever, even though it was in the gym on a treadmill. Is it cheating if I count my first organized race (Frostbite Series 3K, Dec 15) for December?

Monday, October 15, 2007

First 5K

I ran 5K on a treadmill in 37:57. It wasn’t a glorious time but I did finish without once slowing to a walk. Imagine that, I can actually run a 5K. Now, if I can just learn how to set a pace, I might be OK when I run those Frostbite races.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Frostbite Series

The St. Louis Track Club hosts the Frostbite Series over the winter. I am going to participate in the short distances of this 5 race series. Dec 15, 3 kilometer. Dec 29, 2 mile. Jan 12, 5 kilometer. Jan 26, 4 mile. Feb 9, 3 mile. I’ve never done anything like this and I will be happy to finish, forget placing.

If you live in or near St. Louis, why don’t you join me for a bit of winter fun in Forest Park?

Without Limits

I just finished a run. If you’ve been with me, you might know that my furthest run before today was ~2.1 miles. Knowing that, and knowing it was probably less than 2 weeks ago that I did it, you might find my accomplishments today a little surprising.

I just finished running 3 miles on the treadmill and finished it in 35:18. I think I’m still in shock. Looking back at it, the key seems to have been not setting any limits. Before I started, I decided I’d go 3 miles even if it took me 45 minutes. I made myself not watch the time and not watch my heart rate. I just ran. I did start adding .1 mph at each tenth of a mile. At the 2 mile mark, I was running at 6 mph. I dropped down to 3.5 mph for a couple minutes when I hit the 2 mile mental barrier but shortly I asked myself why I wasn’t pushing and before you know it I was back up to 5 mph, then 5.5, then 6. For the last minute, I finished at 7 mph. The whole time I focused on having fun and trying to make my stride smooth, with less bounce. Still, 3 miles at an average pace above 5 mph. If it sinks in, I might pass out.

Now, I need to stretch. In 6 months, I seem to have regained most if not all of my youthful flexibility and I might be surpassing it in some areas. I deserve a good rest tonight and I need it because spin class is tomorrow morning at 9:15 AM.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Amateur Cook

I can cook edible food most days although it rarely turns out like I want it too. I still can’t make the ideas in my head appear on a plate. Maybe I won’t ever be able to do that but I really want to. Perhaps some time at a cooking school is in my future. Who knows.

Play Volleyball?!

I need to replace this goal with something a bit more concrete. I’ve been playing volleyball for years. Maybe something like play volleyball this year, or play on a team.

Stalled Writing - St. John's College Admissions Essays

I can’t even remember the last time I worked on these. I don’t have a sense of urgency here as we probably can’t afford for me to go to school next year but I still want to get these done. I don’t think there is anything more important for me to be working on but somehow writing my soul on paper for a review board doesn’t sound exciting.

Capoeira Blues

At one point I was going to capoeira a couple times a week and loving it. Unfortunately, capoeira, physical therapy and a personal trainer combined to be too much for me and I stopped going to capoeira. Well, I’m not doing my physical therapy now so I need to go back. Thanks to Akaijoy for reminding me.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

From Metal to Meat

Last year, I wanted to ride my bike to work, a 12 mile ride one way. I created a route near my house to start training on and dubbed it the Loop of Death. When I started, I could barely finish it on my bike in 15 minutes. I was in really sad shape. Eventually, I conquered the Loop of Death on my bike and moved on to riding to work. That went great for a while but after 2 major incidents in a week, my bike ended up disassembled on the porch, sad and forgotten.

A little under 6 months ago, I started working out with a trainer. I’ve been lifting weights with her a few times a week and doing cardiovascular exercise 3-6 days a week. One thing I have not had any success with is running. At 290 lbs, running hurt. It hurt on the road. It hurt on a treadmill. I wanted to run but I couldn’t seem to hack it.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been running on the treadmill for about 12 minutes during my cardio work. I’ve improved a bit but not nearly as much as I wanted. Right now, I run 4.3 mph for 12 minutes and I’m OK.

Enter yesterday. I didn’t do any cardio Monday or Tuesday and my trainer told me to do SOMETHING on Wednesday, even if it was really light. Well, I was meeting friends for dinner so I couldn’t get to the gym. I decided to run/walk the old loop of death after dinner. I figured I’d run until I got really tired then walk the rest and that should be about 30-35 minutes.

I set of running and the next thing I knew, I was running back up the driveway in just 26m42s. I ran 2.2 miles without stopping and without thinking I would die. I could have sprinted at the end or run a while more. I’m still in shock.

Maybe I will be able to run a 5K soon. Maybe I’ll even be able to work on improving my time, instead of just trying to finish.