It's been a while since I've posted, a very very long time. As we all know things have been heavy to say the least. COVID19, Boston Canceling, Aubrey Ahmad, 40 million unemployed, racial riots... I could go on. On top of that I'm injured, having an IT band issue for the first time in my life, but I'll heal with some rest and treatment. I always seem to comeback stronger.
With the cancellation of Boston I can honestly say that 90% of the running community has been totally understanding and feel the BAA made the right call. For the first time in my life I'm seeing sports as a way to relax from everyday life. In the past I've kept running and sports separate and I know we can debate all day about one being an activity and the others not. Let's call it a pleasant distraction of physical display. At work ESPN is constantly running in the background and it seems they've run out of material to show. But I digress, a return to 'sports' would be nice for our collective psyche. And yes I know that sounds selfish to an extend, and yes bigger fish are to be fried and large wounds need to be healed. Entire systems of how we do things need to be dismantled and rebuilt the correct way.
This may seem out of focus and I'm shooting from the hip as I type, and if you're still reading then I thank you. One thing running does is that it erases color, gender, sexual orientation, class, and so on. When I'm shoulder to shoulder with another runner then I'm next to my brother or sister. I have their back and they have mine. The marathons are a triumph, and so are the Saturday long runs when I look another runner in the eyes and we get it. There is a humanity to this thing we do, wanting to be better than we were, or to come to a spiritual understanding. As we move forward and sporting events can become a thing, and we can run marathons. we need to strive for better than what we were before all of this. To quote the song 'These shall not be forgotten years'. And in the meantime I intend to heal up, embrace my brothers and sisters, and keep going. I have a Boston to get to, we have better people to be.
Got in a shorter 'long run' of 11.43 at a 7:52/mile average yesterday. I was on the running roll lately and this past week has been a bit rough, but I'll get through it. Right now I'm supposed to be in a car coming home from the Ann Arbor marathon with my good friend, and we aren't... and that's okay. These events have been cancelled for the greater good. The heartbreak is brief and temporary, and easily outdone by the grace of a long run and the ability to do it.
Pittsburgh on May 3rd has also been cancelled, which leaves the next one on the schedule Mt. Hood on June 27. That also puts a lot more pressure on me to qualify for the 2021 Boston field. But I'll get through all of this, we will get through all of this. With the marathon and event cancellations going on I understand what must be done. And I become more grateful for what I am still able to do. The mission will of course continue.
I know I've been working at this for several years and what I've learned is sometimes I/we reach new levels of being a runner. I'm on a new level recently and it just feels a bit more 'odd'. As in 'What is the heck is that about?' Let me explain. Lately my milage has been inching up and I'm trending ahead of where I was in January and February of 2017, 2018, and 2019. Pretty happy with those results, but the mind blowing part is the speed of my average mile pace. I'm 15-25 seconds faster per mile than I was a year or two ago, and that's also scary.
I've been at the same level for so long I'm having trouble accepting these results. This can't be, but yet here they are run after run. The other issue in the back of my head is when will the injuries happen. I hate to be negative, but the injuries seem to find me, like any other runner out there. It was what brought such awful results durning the Mt. Hood marathon when I was positive that would be my Boston qualifier.
The only rational thing I can do is to keep on keepin' on as the saying goes. To be careful, to stretch and run smart. When I feel a full or something strange, to stop and address the issue. And most of all just be grateful that I'm out here doing this not only at a new level, but just doing this period. I've got Ann Arbor in 14 days and I'm using that run to face down my past and to get my medal. Then I set my sites on Pittsburgh, and after that Mt. Hood in June.
I've always been told I'm way too hard on myself. From childhood to being an adult people have expressed to me that I need to simply breathe and lighten up on my own self-critiques, and they are correct. As much running as I've done, with the many marathons completed, I still sometimes have trouble calling myself a legitimate runner because I have not done Boston. It's silly to the point of stupid, and I also understand this.
I get up early, or head out before sunset in all types of weather for the goal of meditation and personal greatness. And the meditation I can say is spot on most of the time, I comeback with a much clearer head and heart than when I started my run. The true conundrum comes from my own ability, or lack there of, and the greatness I see in others. Don't think for a second that they didn't work for that ability as I've had many discussions with respected friends about being gifted over busting your ass to get something accomplished. I understand putting in the miles running, or spending hours on a piano bench, or in front of a canvas to pursue your love. To earn that title you long for.
Being a very average or below average individual in nearly every aspect of my life has in a sense made me the proverbial underdog. I see the major marathons as being the pinnacle of greatness in my attempt to call myself a 'runner', and I have a lot or work yet to do. I'm sure most of you just like me have wondered why I haven't completed that most cherished of goals yet.
Next month I'm looking at marathon 15 in a little over 3 years and they only comfort I can take is what a runner in Erie PA said to me shortly after that run in September of 2018. She was wearing a Boston finishers jacket and I let her know Erie was my 8th marathon and Boston was my goal. "It took me 13 marathons to get there, and my friend needed 20. Your Boston is waiting your you" she said, "Just keep at it." So in the grey of February after an 18.5 mile weekend I'll still keep at it to get my unicorn medal and the right to one day call myself a real runner.
It's been a bit since I'v posted, the CIM to be exact. Today was another rain run, but that just makes me a stronger runner. Just happy to be able to do this. My miles have been getting very consistent between my short and long runs, and happy about that. Plus I'm signed up for Ann Arbor on 3/22 and Mt. Hood on 6/27, my goal is to get Pittsburgh in there on 5/03.
I ended 2019 with the most miles I've ever turned in and a PR, so I'm going to carry that forward. And in January I'm feeling good and staying healthy, so using that momentum too. Looking for a productive 2020, and to see where running takes me.
It's been a week since I completed the CIM in Sacramento... and it was amazing. I signed up for this purely because I was late in attempting to register for Eria PA, but sometimes fate (if there is a thing) has other plans. As I write this I have the flu, so I'll try and keep my thoughts coherent as much as possible. Where to start?
I started at a much slower pace and at somehow I started way in the back of the field, so catching my desired pace group was a challenge. I wanted to run with the 3:45:00 group and try and make my way to the 3:40:00 group if possible. At mile 6 I reached the first group and felt the effort put forth to find them was decent, so the game plan was 'stick with them'... and I pulled away. I think it was at mile 10 I caught the 3:40:00 group and kept the same mindset, and then I again slowly pulled away. With this in mind I fully expected one of these groups to pass me during the dreaded 'wall' around mile 22. But this did not happen.
The strategy that I should have employed during the monumental a month earlier was being used to great effect on this day. My pace was nice, the temps were amazing even with the slight rain showers that would pass through, and that crowd so caring and supportive. Another two key elements were my hydration and gel pack schedule, both of which have been tuned in at last. By mile 20 I went into conservative running mode and backed off expecting things to slowly fall apart. But they didn't.
As much as my legs were beginning to feel it, I still had the strength to power forward, the only real issue was the arch and heel of left foot. Other than that I was moving with confidence. My slowest mile was at 24, and was a 9:17, my only nine minute mile. In the end I ran a PR in a big way, by about 10 minutes. I still have a lot of work to do before I get my BQ, but this run did wonders for my confidence. The sunglasses hid my tears of joy as I claimed my medal, and now more than ever I'm looking forward to the work ahead of me in 2020.
On Saturday I has the pleasure of participating in the CNO Monumental Marathon in Indianapolis, and finished my 13th 26.2 to boot in about 3 years. I've had to take a few days to wrap my head around the results. I did not PR as I had intended, but I did run my fasted marathon of the year so far. I took 26:10 off of the Mt Hood marathon in June and am moving the needle in the right direction again.
And it was a cold one as well, at start the temps were 26 degrees and the wind made it feel like 18. Last year it was 32 with zero wind and I comfortably wore shorts, not this time. But the lack of performance really falls on me. I entered this run without a single leg issue, I was well rested, and fully hydrated. In the past I've read horror stories of runners altering their diet routine in the 24 hours before a marathon and paying the price. I did just that thinking it would help, and it had the opposite effect. Lesson learned and I won't be doing that again, I'll stick to my previous plans.
That being said I do have one more marathon before the end of the year, the California International Marathon on December 8th. I can't imagine the temps being the challenge that they were in Indy, and looking forward to being in shorts again. Also looking forward to running for the first time in California, and gettin a new PR as well.
I'm one week into the 'tapering' before a marathon and I look both ways as I type this... I feel pretty good. Yesterday was a rainy 12.25 miles and a nice challenge. It had been quite a while since I've had a long run in those conditions, having water logged shoes can be a treat. But there is something to be said about being out in the elements, even in the rain and yes, snow.
My goal this weekend was to simply slow down, this idea worked well on Saturday, but less so in the sunny conditions of Sunday. Somehow mile 6 on my run today came in at 7:09, and I even took a ten second walk as I started that last mile. Yet my legs just feel spot on right now. I'll need this as my next marathon is in 13 days and I have to close out 2019 with two strong runs. This must happen.
As I close out a very busy September I'm reflecting on the stresses and the missed running, and also shocked at the miles I was able to work in. The negatives were the simply awful bipolar bout I fought for several weeks this month. I get a bad episode about once a year and I was due. But instead of lasting for months (on average 3-4), this lasted about two weeks and started to let up. I attribute running to this, it just works for me. Work also required longer shifts and some weekend shifts, so getting in the long runs was a challenge. Plus the band I play in was very busy with gigs and rehearsals this month... which that is a positive.
The positives are I was able to keep my performance on the continued upswing since August. The bipolar struggle from the beginning of the month is left in the dust. Last week I got in a really cool 4 mile trail run with two others. I picked up a new pair of shoes (see below). And...
I'm going into October healthy and focused on the Monumental Marathon on November 9th in Indianapolis. After that off to California for a run on December 9th. So basically September was rough, but I've survived worse and I will always prevail.
Ryan (That's me)
Runner, writer, and a survivor. It's all about living the life you want and helping each other along the way.