Tagged: 14 in 2014

My, but how the time has gone!

Well hello there, it’s been quite a while since I’ve talked with you, hasn’t it? I was beginning to wonder if I would EVER get back to blogging (I’m sure some of you were too!), and then I realized that only I could provide the answer – all it takes is to sit down and do it…so here we go.

So what’s been happening over the last two months? A little bit of everything! March was the first time I actually reached my stated goal of running 100 miles per month, reaching 111 miles; I carried that on into April as well, racking up an impressive 122 miles. This included completing one of my personal goals: I ran my first ever ultra marathon, finishing the 50K at Brazos Bend Trail Races on April 28. I was very pleased with my time of 6:25:35, especially when I compare that to my 5:35 marathon just 90 days earlier – I felt strong; I was still running, not dragging myself along; I even had the energy to stay at the course and help the race director finish out the night, with our last 50-mile runners coming in at 14 hours and change….whew! That is some grit right there!

The month of May started off with a bang, as I set out to break the 50-minute mark on the 10K distance…and I did it! I have to give credit where it’s due: I ran into fellow former Chevron Houston Marathon Ambassador Emily Benton at the start line, and when she said she was also shooting for a sub-50, I jumped at the chance to have her pace me! She is an awesome runner, and I didn’t want to hold her back in case I fell short, so I told her I would follow along as best I could but don’t slow down; she didn’t either 🙂 I held close until about mile 5 and then I saw her start her final kick, leaving me in the dust! I held on to my pace, however and crossed the line at 49:20 – three full minutes faster than the year before on the same course! This had the added benefit of qualifying me for early registration at the 2015 Chevron Houston Marathon, which I have already done – no lottery for me this year, and you better believe I have a score to settle from last time!

After that peak I dropped off somewhat, as demands at the job began ramping up, causing me to miss a lot of workouts. There were things going on in our personal lives as well, with my wife undergoing a preemptive hysterectomy at the urging of her oncologist – she is still cancer-free and in full remission, praise be to God, but the genetic testing came back with a probability of ovarian or uterine cancer that was far too high for her (or my) peace of mind…she made the decision to retain control of her life and her body and I supported her 100% in that decision.

In turn, she was there to support me a few weeks later as I crossed off two more items on my goals list: I entered and completed both the Spartan Sprint and Super races in mid-month, and I now hold 2/3 of a 2014 Trifecta Medal. I never felt intimidated by this course, because I went in knowing I was going to do my best, no matter what the outcome – and that is exactly what I did! I did not accomplish every obstacle, and I had to do my burpees as a result (90 the first day, only 30 the second, and yes burpees still suck!)  but I never had any doubt that I would reach the finish as a Spartan!!

In the two weeks since, I have taken “training” way down as I assess how well I performed, what I learned, what my next set of goals are, and what I need to do to achieve them. I have not stopped running, just dropped the volume considerably – 60 miles total in May – while I arrange all the other parts of the puzzle. I just bought a membership at a gym near my home (with extended hours during the week when I need them most) and invested in a personal trainer to help me focus on the areas I want to develop most – upper body/core/overall muscle mass. I have also begun researching several different running training plans, with an eye towards the best synthesis that will accommodate the varied goals I have lined up for the rest of the year:

  • Run a sub-1:45 at the Houston Half Marathon in October (current 13.1 PR is 1:58, barefoot on a beach; did this course last year in 2:06, running in the rain, injured and in blown-out shoes)
  • Complete the Dallas Spartan Beast in November, hopefully under 5 hours (I finished the Sprint in 1:16 and the Super in 2:29, so I think it’s reasonable)
  • Complete the 50-mile distance at the Brazos Bend Trail Races in December, hopefully under 10 hours (I did 50K in 6:25, spending way too much time at the aid stations)
  • Complete the Chevron Houston Marathon in under 4:30 (last year’s time was 5:35, but I am much stronger and smarter this year!)

Each of these in and of itself is a worthy goal; stacking them within a 90-day time span may be a bit insane optimistic, but then again, they are somewhat progressive – once I get trained up for the first, I’m substantially where I need to be for the next. I also have a handful of smaller, fun races scattered in among these, to keep from being “all work and no play” – having already achieved the “14 in 2014” goal once this year, why not try to hit it again? (Check out my updated “RACES” page for all the details, I still have a few hopefuls to list on there once I have dates for them) Mostly I am having fun, sampling all the variety that running has to offer and enjoying watching my body grow and respond to the challenges…and after all, if it isn’t fulfilling and enjoyable, why do it at all?

 

What are your upcoming goal races?

Have you had to modify your training to accomplish them?

I’d love to hear your comments, we can cheer each other on!

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CHM Training update: T-1 week – No let-up to the let-down…

So here we are, the last week before my first marathon, and frankly,  I am not excited…I’m just tired. I have read many others’ accounts of their emotional state at this point, and so I think I know what I should be feeling, but mostly I am just weary to the bone and ready for it to be over. A great deal of that, I am sure, comes from spending the last week as the “walking wounded”: going to work in the cold, dreary weather, in spite of the lingering illness I am still struggling with; trying to be productive through a fog of medication, while dealing with the sudden responsibility for a project that I am learning was not being properly managed; all while maintaining my duties at home, and my training for three upcoming races. It was all just too much…something had to give…turns out, it was my body. Read on, and let’s watch the cookie crumble:

Sunday 1-5:  Rest day – walked 1 mile, 15:47   As I said last week, the early stages of illness were upon me – I had a restless night, waking at midnight drenched in sweat. A quick shower refreshed me some, and I was able to sleep a few good hours, but when morning came I began revising my schedule for the day. I still had errands to run, and chores to attend, but doing any serious running had to be crossed off the list. By noon I was home, and worn out, and still had not done a workout. I napped briefly, waking up to a body stiff and creaky and not at all interested in exercise. I drove myself out the door with the idea that moving the blood around would help purge the toxins and stretch out the stiffness; I set a brisk walking pace and got my mile done…but it cost me: I was badly out of breath and lightheaded by the time I got home…not a good sign of things to come.

Monday 1-6:  Rest day – walked 1 mile, 15:25  Back to work, despite feeling like something the dog ate and then heaved back up – in my new role, I do not actually DO much work, I manage others; this makes it possible for me to be there when I am not at my best, and still get things done, and today I was grateful for that. It was a day filled with walking, touring the entire jobsite and detailing what has been done and what needs to be done, in order to give a status update to my superiors. I don’t count what I do at work as part of my training, but maybe I should…we are roughing in the lower eight floors of a 21-story high rise apartment complex, while the structure of the tower is being completed; I walked at least 10 miles today, up and down stairs and around every floor! I really didn’t feel like going out and doing anything else after I got home, but the idea of breaking my streak made me so angry that I went and “power-walked” a mile just to get it done…but anger is very expensive fuel to burn, and I was wiped out afterwards; I passed out without even eating dinner – now you KNOW I was feeling sick!

Tuesday 1-7:  Rest day – no activity Another day much as before, except I was already running 102 fever by the time I got home, and didn’t even kid myself – the #ncrstreak was broken, and I simply went to bed – I might be slow, but I know when I’m beaten.

Wednesday 1-8:  Rest day – no activity  Rinse and repeat from yesterday. A smarter man would have stayed home from work to get rested and healthy again; I am not that man, I guess. My supervisor was expecting my status report on the job today; he didn’t tell me that he also expected me to deliver that report at the office to the project manager, the production manager, the department manager, and the vice-president! I wish he had – I probably would not have taken those NyQuil Liqi-gels right before we went to the meeting 😦 Oh well, I finally made it home, and fell into bed…going out to walk or run never even crossed my drug-addled mind.

Thursday 1-9:  Rest day – no activity This was probably the worst day of the whole week. I woke up feeling pretty good, and hoped I had turned the corner, and might actually feel like running at Bandera on Saturday. (I had gotten though the whole week by holding this carrot in front of my face: “Just make it to Friday, you can rest on the way to the race!”) But as the day wore on, my energy level dropped, the body aches returned full-force, and my focus dwindled to just getting home. My body hurt worse than after any training run, ever. Small wonder – when I took my temperature, I was running 103.9! I was very glad I had scheduled the next day off from work – I only hoped I wouldn’t be spending it in the hospital instead.

Friday 1-10: Rest day – no activity  I woke up feeling like I had been dipped in something gross and left to dry…and knowing that I was not going to be racing this weekend. I called my buddy Rob Goyen (pres. of the HATR running club) and told him I was dropping out because I was sick; he expressed his sympathy and agreed it was for the best. I spent the entire day in bed, wrapped in my own personal cocoon woven of misery and self-pity – is THIS what I spent a year working so hard for? How am I ever going to complete 26.2 miles when I can’t even walk to the back door to let my dog outside without getting dizzy? (I believe this is why they say that men are such wusses when we get sick – I stand guilty as charged.)

Saturday 1-11: Rest day – no activity Today was supposed to be a great day for me – my first ever 25K trail race…instead, it’s my second DNS…not the accomplishment I was hoping for. Instead, I am spending the day resting, alternating between reading and sitting at my computer, because I just don’t have the energy to do much else. The fever is gone, but the stuffy head and nagging cough are still with me; I may go out later and walk a bit to relieve the stiffness and the blah – the weather has cleared up wonderfully, it’s sunny and in the low 70’s today (you gotta love the Gulf Coast weather!) so at least it will be pleasant to be outdoors. I will be checking the results page from Bandera later on, to see how my friends’ racing went; it’s too early yet, as they are doing 100K and should only be at the second checkpoint as I am writing this – how I wish I was there! But I’ll get another chance in April, or perhaps sooner, if things turn out well…first I have to make it through today!

Total for this week: 2 runs, 2 miles

Total for January: 6 runs, 14.2 miles; #runthisyear goal 1.1% (22.7/2014 km)

#ncrstreak: 40 days, 191 miles; broken by illness

Living Water fundraising to date: $24.00

I can only hope that a weekend of real rest will make the difference, and I can shake off being sick and get a couple of runs in this week. I will pick up my Houston Marathon Ambassador gear on Sunday – shoes, shirt, etc. all supplied by Skechers Performance, a new corporate sponsor of the race, and I would like a chance to break it in a little before running the 5K next Saturday. Only time will tell how it goes, I suppose. Maybe this is why events have happened the way they have; I have already become comfortable with revising my goals for these two races, from setting PR’s to simply finishing; I can’t imagine how devastated I would be if I had to come to that decision point today instead of 6 weeks ago. God has all things in His sight, and knows the end from the beginning; we just have to trust that He really is in control, and make the choices we believe serve Him best, even when we don’t understand it all…one of my favorite verses of Scripture is Isaiah 55:8-9, because I feel it lets me off the hook: I’m not supposed to understand it all, it’s not even possible to do so, so why worry about it? I have more than enough to deal with right here in front of me as it is!

One other note: I met this week with someone from Living Water, and we talked about my fundraising plan. He was enthusiastic about it, and agreed to assist me in promoting my efforts, and also promised to send me more information and contacts to help me along. I also received permission to use their logo on my blog; clicking on it will take you directly to my donation page. I have condensed the story somewhat and created a permanent page for it; please check it out and feel free to share the link with others you believe would be interested in helping, because everyone has the power to make a difference!  Last week I received my first direct donation, and I must admit: when the notification came in, it brought tears to my eyes – knowing that my words produced a positive response, touched someone and prompted them to give…that makes everything worthwhile!

Have you ever help raise funds or awareness for a charity?

What advice could you share about your experience?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

CHM Training update: T-2 weeks – Who fortnight-ed?

blame

“What? There’s only 2 weeks until the marathon? And only one week to the 25K trail race??  Where did all the time go? Can I get a recount or something? Who’s in charge of things around here?!?”

Oh, wait, that’s right…I did this to me, didn’t I? Well, that will teach me to put myself in my hands, won’t it? (Probably not 🙂 ) Seriously, I am getting so excited about reaching the end of a year-long training cycle, and being on the verge of a major accomplishment in my life. I am about to do something I did not know if I could achieve (and honestly, I still don’t know it, and won’t until it’s done, but I believe!) This week’s training spanned New Year’s Day, and with it the obligatory looking back/looking ahead…I covered all that in this post. Many new goals and challenges are in place, so there will be some extra stats at the end of each week’s summary moving forward…I like crunching numbers, because they help me keep the bigger picture in focus – sometimes we get too involved with the bark to notice how majestic the tree is, let alone the grandeur of the forest; stats are one way for me to keep the pieces in scale with the whole. So let’s take a look at how they piled up this week:

Sunday 12-29:  Long run – 3:58:00, 21.2 miles   O-M-G!!! This run made me truly appreciate the value of having a running buddy when things get tough. The Striders set this up as the Longest Long Run before the marathon, with support riders on bikes, and an unbelievable aid station, complete with homemade chicken noodle soup – I have never in my life been so grateful for a bowl of hot broth! The course was set up as two loops of 10.5 miles around and through one of the large county parks on the city’s west side. Some people chose to run only a single loop – either those not running Chevron this year, or running the half instead of the full – and I came very near to being one of them. I run significantly slower than almost everyone else in the club, so I did the first 10 miles essentially by myself, at the very end of the pack. I saw others, because we ran a couple of out-and-back sections and circular park roads, so I received plenty of encouragement along the way, but I ran alone…with only my own thoughts to keep me company; since I train like this 99% of the time, I’m used to it, and I expected nothing different. My surprise and relief came at the halfway point, as I was sipping soup and trying to convince myself to go do the other half, which was becoming a losing argument. (This is why my long runs are normally out-and-back, because giving up won’t get you home – I know who I’m dealing with here!) Right about then Rosemary (a wonderful woman from St. Lucia with the most musical accent I have ever heard) looked at me and said, “Aren’t you going back out? You have to, because I have to and I can’t do it alone!” So that decided the issue for me – very few things will motivate me more than someone saying they need my help. I warned her that I was going to need to run much slower than she normally did (her pace is about 2 minutes per mile faster than mine) and she said that was fine – she was tired and just wanted to get the miles done; if it meant walk-run intervals, and shuffling along, so be it…and with that we were off! We held a nice, steady 10:30/mile for the first 5 miles, chatting and getting to know each other, and the miles passed quickly! When we reached 16 miles, with 5 to go, her back began to ache (she had not run at all in nearly a week, and she was feeling it) so we began to walk 1 minute intervals with some stretching breaks – I was grateful for those, as well! The final 2 miles were really hard for both of us – her back had been joined by my ankles in the crying corner – so naturally we decided to push a little harder and get it done: 20 second sprints with 2 minute recovery! We were quite the pair “sprinting” our way back to the finish line – but we got a standing ovation and a roaring cheer from everyone waiting for us; we were the last two in and nearly everyone stayed until we made it – what a great group! And we beat the self-imposed 4-hour mark we decided on when we set off together… added zest to an epic run!

Striders-long-runHere we are before the start – I’m nearly invisible at the back!

Monday 12-30:   Recovery/rest – walked 1.01 mile, 17:31  At some point I really need to shift my long runs to Saturdays; having to go back to work and be on my feet all day kind of makes the “rest day” a moot point; in any case, I just went out to walk my streak mile and try to limber up the joints a bit. It bothers me that my running is not limited by my endurance level or aerobic capacity, but instead by my pain threshold – I can run faster than I currently do, but only at an exponential cost of pain in my knees and ankles…if I do a 5K at sub-25 pace, I can barely walk afterwards; but drop into turtle gear, and I can keep going 10 times as far before it gets bad; I could walk a 100-miler non-stop, if I didn’t mind taking 25-30 hours to do it 😦 I guess I am never destined to be a speedy runner again, but I’m sure determined to finish everything I start; if I have to choose, I choose to endure!

Tuesday 12-31:  Maintenance run – 5 miles, 52:01 It took some determination to make myself do the 3rd and 4th miles – after 2, my legs were ready to go home, in spite of what my mind said! But I pushed ahead, and eventually they gave up complaining and got with the program, and the last mile home felt smooth as glass.

Wednesday 1-1:  Resolution run – 3.1 miles, 31:17  Happy New Year! I had intended to meet the Striders running club for a group run, but when you polish off half a bottle of really smooth vodka the night before, plans will get get changed, right? So I did my own personal 5K to celebrate one full year of running, and look ahead to an even more exciting year to come. This run also completed the Runner’s World Holiday-to-Holiday Run Streak in style – 35 straight days, 180 miles in all! 

Thursday 1-2:  Resistance run, 5 miles, 53:50 I am enjoying these runs in the grass more and more – it’s such a nice change from pounding the pavement, and engages more muscles as I adjust to the constantly changing footing. The going gets tougher each week as the grass gets higher, so I get “free” progressive resistance in the bargain – what a deal! This workout, along with my overpass repeats, will be some of the secrets to my success in the future – and a sure way to prevent getting bored, as well.

Friday 1-3: Maintenance run – 3.1 miles, 33:12  It was nearly full dark by the time I got on the road, but after getting a “promotion” at work (my supervisor quit, and so the 2nd man and myself both moved up a notch; no extra pay, just more and different responsibility) I really needed to put the body in motion and let the mind spin free for a while…running is great free therapy!

Saturday 1-4: Rest day – walked 1 mile, 15:09 I wanted to go run some trails today; I wanted to get in a good practice before next week’s race at Bandera; I didn’t want to catch the cold/flu/whatever bug that everyone else in the house is down with…guess which one came true? So I walked a mile to keep my streak going, and now I’m bundled up, channeling a cold-medicine commercial – sniffling/sneezing/coughing/aching/stuffy head/fever – and hoping I feel better tomorrow; just in time for the bottom to fall out of the weather again…at least I don’t live in the northern third of the country, which is now unsuitable for human life as we normally define it!

Total for this week: 7 runs, 39.4 miles

Total for December: 31 runs, 165 miles

Total for 2013: 210 runs, 817 miles

Total for January: 4 runs, 12.2 miles; #runthisyear goal 0.9% (19.5/2014 km)

#ncrstreak: 38 days, 189 miles

Living Water fundraising to date: $12.00

So it has been a good week to end a year with, and to begin one as well! In other news, I am well on my way with another of my challenge goals, to run 14 races in 2014 – this week I added two more to my confirmed schedule: I registered for the Brazos Bend 50K trail run in April, the one sponsored by the HATR’s; and I mailed in the registration form for the first Spring Series race of the Houston Area Road Runners Association (HARRA) – which I also became  member of today – the Buffalo Wallow 6K XC Race, in February…these two races also earn points for my respective running clubs in their competitive series for this year, so my running benefits the group as a whole; one more step to making my efforts count for more than just me! I think I could get really used to this idea…it’s a lot more fun than just running alone 🙂

How well did 2013 meet your expectations?

Are you on track to start a new year off right?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Looking back, Striding forward…and helping others

Happy New Year everyone, and happy anniversary to this blog! We’ve come a long way together…me, my writing, and most of all YOU, my faithful friends and followers. I wasn’t sure about doing a recap – everyone does that, and I hate to be boring – but at last I decided to jump on the bandwagon and post my “year-in-review”, along with a look ahead at what I hope 2014 has in store; perhaps it will inspire another person to take a leap of faith, and that would make this entirely worth the effort! So grab yourself a fresh cup of coffee, tea, or even a bit of that hair-o’ the-dog, if it suits you, and let’s get all reminiscent, shall we?

2013 was my first year as a runner; I officially began on New Year’s Eve 2012, just to kick-start my resolve. I had little more than a vague series of goals in mind: quit smoking cigarettes; train for a year;  run a marathon…not exactly the most detailed agenda! I didn’t really ask for any advice, choosing to do my own research online. I had been blogging for a few months, on another site, but had not made the connections with others that I cherish now, so I read everything I could find about how to get started. I had not run – or even walked for exercise – since I was a teenager, and that was many, many years and packs of cigarettes ago; so I started off slow, with the Couch-to-5K app on my phone; a handful of favorite songs on a playlist, and a brand new pair of running shoes – bought on closeout at a big box store, but at least I did some reading and knew what I was buying and why 🙂 Using the app as my coach made it easy – no pressure to meet a certain pace, just go run until time ran out, and then go do it again a few days later…and then go do it again. Persistence was the greatest lesson there!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAsource

It was the first race that changed me forever – one innocent little 5K, the end-goal of the training app: “Find a race, sign up for it, and complete it – that’s all you have to do!” So I found a local 5K/10K (the 5K is an untimed “fun run”, the 10K is the serious race) and I ran my heart out – and got a sub-30 minute finish! That is when I began to dream of competitive running, and setting records, and all that jazz…surely I am not the only one! That first race led to another, a 10K; that led to a half-marathon (and my first serious injury…one that I still have trouble with); it was about then that I signed up for my first marathon, and made the lottery on my first try! The six-month lead time gave me ample opportunity to make all the mistakes I possibly could…and believe me, I have made excellent use of it! I ran 600 miles on the same pair of shoes –

worn outOK, not quite this bad, but still…

I ran at noon in Houston in August with no water –

hot

  I got attacked by giant dogs, medium dogs, even a herd of Chihuahua once –

attackI may be small, Señor…but I can still kill you!

– you name it, it happened. And still I ran…

I ran…and I learned. I learned to listen to my body more than to a training plan; I learned to take the headphones off sometimes and just enjoy the run; I learned that the world will not end if my pace is a little – or even a lot – slower than it “should” be; I learned that there is value to being with other, experienced runners in a club or two; most of all, I learned that I have a lot more to learn!

2014 promises to be quite instructive…I am doing more new things in my life than I ever have before! I will be running that first marathon in 18 days; one week before that, I am running my first trail race, a 25K in the Texas hill country. I will run my first ultra – a 50K – in April; my first obstacle races in May – Spartan races, at that! I am participating in several running challenges: running 14 races in 2014; earning Half-Maniac status; earning a Spartan Race Trifecta; and I am taking one challenge I am currently participating in (the Runner’s World Holiday Run Streak) and making it personal: The “nickycanrun streak challenge”- you can follow my progress as I attempt to run at least one mile every day for a year, by following the hashtag #ncrstreak on Twitter.

The one thing I am most excited about is a way to make my running count for something lasting, something more important than “me”. 2013 was a very selfish year for me, in too many ways – I became very enamored of my own successes, and obsessed with my own agenda. And then my wife and I found a new church to be a part of, and something changed…I remembered that I am called to be in this world, but not of this world; and I think I have figured out a way to do just that. This church has partnered with many existing groups to make a lasting difference, both locally and globally, and one of them called out to me in particular…for a long time now, I have been reading and hearing about the fantastic work being done by Living Water International; this organization has a simple, yet profound mission – I will let this quote from their website explain it:

For Living Water it’s all about Jesus. It’s about demonstrating God’s love, announcing his kingdom, seeing Jesus in the least of our brothers and sisters, offering a cup of water in Jesus’ name and proclaiming his gospel, the living water.

Helping communities create sustainable water, sanitation, hygiene, and Christian witness programs in partnership with local churches is just the best way we’ve found to do that. Why? Because the water crisis affects poverty, women, health and education—and for us it’s a spiritual issue.

783 million people lack access to an improved source of drinking water—that’s 1 in 9 of us. In the places we work, it’s more like 1 in 2 . Great progress is being made globally, but whole people groups are being overlooked—it’s the poorest people with the least political power that continue to suffer, and these are the people we are called to serve.

Serving others is one of my core values…it is the distinguishing mark of those who claim to follow Jesus – a claim I make openly. Even the Endorphin Warrior wristband I wear proclaims my faith: it reads, “Believe,” which reminds me of Jesus’ words in John 14:12 –

“I tell you the truth: whoever believes in Me will be able to do what I have done, but they will do even greater things, because I will return to be with the Father.”

I believe in Him, and so I can do the things He did; one thing is to give a drink of water to the thirsty. It would be possible for me to simply go around and hand out bottles of water to people – and indeed, I have done that. But to provide water wells in places where they can change the course of people’s lives – that is a far greater undertaking. So, I have begun, in my own small way, and here is where I need you to help me. I have set up a fundraising page on LWI’s website, and I am asking for people – I’m asking you – to make a pledge to donate, based on the number of miles I run – whether it is by the week, the month or the year, that is up to you. I am committing to run at least 100 miles per month, and asking for pledges of any amount – $10, $1, ten cents, even a penny per mile, if that suits your situation – that is also up to you. I am in the process of setting up links for my sidebar and my Facebook page, but until then, you can click the link above to make a donation. I will receive nothing from this – it’s not a sponsorship deal, nobody is paying for my races or anything – 100% of the money donated goes directly to whichever focus area I select (currently it’s India, but I will rotate among the various projects around the world.) You can inform me of your pledge, if you wish – by commenting below, or sending me a Twitter DM, or Facebook message, or email – and I will keep you notified of my accumulated miles on a weekly and/or monthly basis; but beyond that, your own conscience will have to be your guide…I will not directly solicit donations from anyone, or sell or give out any contact info I may receive; this is between you, me and Jesus, and I will keep it that way, I promise. You can also track my mileage by simply reading my weekly recaps, or following me on Nike+ or dailymile (search for me by my full name, you’ll find me), and donate as you see fit, leaving me out of it entirely – I am completely OK with that…it’s not about me, it’s about what I can do for those who can’t do for themselves.

The New Year holds opportunities for everyone, and I intend to seize this one and RUN with it as far as I can…why not join me?

CHM Training update: T-3 weeks – Standing on 21 (days)

21

In all honesty, I’m not much of a gambler…I like to think I know what I’m doing, but it seems that I usually end up sitting across from someone who REALLY knows his or her stuff, and I go home a little poorer than I arrived; over the years I have learned not to bet more than I can afford to lose, which makes the game much more enjoyable! Running is kind of like that, I think…there is a certain element of risk involved, which no amount of skill can ever completely eliminate; and you have to put something out there if you want any chance of receiving a reward – “nothing ventured, nothing gained” is absolutely true!

If this marathon is the game, I have been betting my time and my body, in ever increasing raises as the weeks have passed and the stakes have steadily gone up. We are getting ever closer to showing the cards – laying it all out on the table, and may the best man win! The pot is rich – a completed marathon is quite the prize, indeed – and I am feeling confident about the cards I’m holding…let’s take a look at what I drew with this week’s effort:

Sunday 12-22:  Long run – 3:24:53, 18.01 miles   Better than last week, my new longest run to date! I had thought about doing this week’s long run on the trails, but opted instead to stick with a winning plan and repeated my route from last Sunday, with the addition of one lap around the running loop at Memorial Park to give me the necessary extra mileage. I also tried a new fuel option: 2 Tbsp chia seeds mixed with 6 oz applesauce and a dash of cinnamon for flavor; this was well tolerated and seemed to keep my energy level constant, as I consumed about a mouthful every 4 miles. Much like last week, all went smoothly until the final stretch – somehow the last two miles feel much longer than any others!

Monday 12-23:   Recovery/rest – walked 1.05 mile, 16:35  We worked late to get enough done to justify leaving early for Christmas Eve, so it was already dark by the time I got home, and I was pretty tired; another ode to the Streak 🙂

Tuesday 12-24:  Maintenance run – 3.1 miles, 31:55 I wanted to see just how well my legs would respond, and I got my answer – not bloody well at all! My quads were the loudest complainers, along with my lower back; this is a clear sign to me that my lack of cross-training is going to exact a toll…how large remains to be seen 😦

Wednesday 12-25:  Walked 1 mile, 16:28  Merry Christmas! I hope Santa did better by you than he did me; I woke up to low fever, body aches and a congested head – some “gift”! I spent nearly the entire day in bed, except for a brief visit to watch my grandsons open their presents…and to get out a walk a mile to keep my streak alive; dedication requires dedication, y’know?

Christmas 2013-boys (crop)Look at those faces – sick or not, how could I resist?

Thursday 12-26:  Resistance run, 8.9 miles, 1:35:11 Back in the grass today; the fever broke, my body felt stiff and under-used, and I knew JUST the cure! I also found a way across a small bayou that cuts off one end of this trail, and I was able to add more than a mile to the one-way distance – sweet! I didn’t try to push the pace, I simply wanted to run for about 90 minutes; mission accomplished!!

Friday 12-27: Maintenance run – 5.1 miles, 50:50  Nothing fancy today, I wanted some miles, I got some miles; decent pace, consistent from start to finish, no pain – what else can you ask?

Saturday 12-28: Recovery/rest – 1.03 mile, 10:46 I spent most of the day visiting my dad, and running errands, so it didn’t leave me much time to run; I also wanted to save something for tomorrow’s 21-miler, my longest long run of the training cycle…or ever, for that matter!

Total for this week: 7 runs, 38.2 miles

Total for December: 21 runs, 138.2 miles

On other news, things are shaping up nicely for my 14 in 2014  and Half-Fanatic goals! Along with the marathon, and the 5K the day before, I now have a third race confirmed – the Bandera Trail Run, where I am running the 25K. This will be my first “real” trail race, and my first foray into the world of ultras – most of the others in my club are running the 100K, but that is a stake I cannot support…yet! This race takes place one week before Chevron, so I am planning to take it easy, and treat it as a taper run – shorter distance, but high intensity, with plenty of time to rest before I have to turn my cards at the Big Table.

What is the craziest thing you ever did just before a marathon, or other goal race? Any regrets, or would you do it again?

Any gamblers out there? What’s the biggest bet you ever won…or lost?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

CHM Training update: T-4 weeks – (Less than) 30 days in the hole

yet

Another week has passed, and I have noticed the strangest fluctuations in my mood: I alternate from breathless anticipation (Oh boy oh boy oh boy, it’s almost here!) to exasperation (Man, will I be glad when this is over!), sometimes within a single day…of course, that can happen during a single run, too 🙂 I felt much the same before my first half-marathon, so I know it’s just part and parcel of facing a challenge: the daunting job still to be done balancing against the preparation that has gone into getting to this point; “Look how far you have come!” pushing back against “You ain’t seen nothing yet!” Probably every runner deals with these emotions as they approach a milestone event, so I’m not unique – but that doesn’t make it not happen, either! That’s why training is so important, both physically and mentally…you need enough miles and hours on your feet AND in your head to overcome the fear of the unknown. So here are this week’s additions to my anti-fear stockpile:

Sunday 12-15:  Long run – 2:49:26, 15.02 miles My longest run to date, both in distance and duration! I approached this with some anxiety, because I attempted this run 6 weeks ago, just after completing the Houston Half Marathon, and it broke me then…but not this time! Everything was different: new shoes (with less than 100 miles vs. over 600); new route (out-and-back on the bike trails along two of Houston’s larger bayous vs. laps on the Memorial Park running loop); different weather (cool and clear vs. hot and muggy); running without music; running without a specific pace goal – amazing what learning and adapting can do for you, isn’t it? I felt strong and confident the whole way: enjoying the sights and sounds, people-watching (discretely, but I do it 🙂 ) and generally just having a great time while running. I did not need to walk any of this distance, but I did anyway…mostly the last half-mile or so, because I had made it back to where I parked my truck, but wasn’t quite at the full distance, so I circled the parking lot a few times as a cool-down, and to let my legs adjust back to not-running…which affected my overall pace;  my splits hovered around my “acceptable” target of 10:00-10:30/mile, about 4:30:00 marathon finish pace.

Monday 12-16:   2.1 miles, 21:51  I waited until after work to get my #RWRunStreak workout done, and I was really curious to see how I would feel on “the day after”; I surprised myself by extending the planned single mile to two, because I felt really good!

Tuesday 12-17:  Resistance run – 6.4 miles in ankle-high grass, 1:09:53 I revived an old route with a new purpose for this workout. My street dead-ends at a toll road, with a wide grassy verge for several miles. The county mows this occasionally, transforming it from a waving sea of grass into a stubbly field of…well, shorter grass. I used to run right along the retaining wall, where it’s mostly dirt and gravel, because it was easier there; but today I chose to run in the thickest parts, where I had to pick up my feet a bit more and push through the fresh-cut debris. It was an awesome combination of high resistance and low impact, perfect for my needs!

grass runAnd the trail shoes performed brilliantly!

Wednesday 12-18:  Walked 1.05 miles, 21:07  Another day where I am grateful to be participating in the streak challenge, because otherwise I would have skipped a workout completely. As an added bonus, I talked my wife into going with me! She is adamantly NOT a runner (her favorite line: “I will run only if there are zombies chasing me, and then only until I can trip somebody!”) but she does support me whole-heartedly, so it was nice to take her on a tour of my usual around-the-block one mile running loop. We went at her pace, but it wasn’t about running, it was about being together…and isn’t that what’s really important?

Thursday 12-19:  Shakeout run, 3.54 miles, 39:25 I had intended this to be a much more intense workout, with 6 miles of overpass repeats sandwiched between some steady miles…but alas, ’twas not to be; I had been having some stomach issues all day, and I was distracted mentally by other issues. Sometimes I can lose myself in the run, and leave the day behind; but sometimes the day will not go quietly into that good night, and this was one of those. I settled for a plodding 5k and a resolve to clear my mind for the next time.

Friday 12-20: Walked 1.02 miles, 5:27  The office Christmas party came today, and as always the food was most excellent. We have some championship-quality barbecue chefs in our organization, and they out-did themselves: spoon-tender brisket; ribs sliding off the bone onto the plate; spicy venison sausage links; there were all the standard side dishes, and a table filled with pies, cakes, and tarts, and I ate myself into a stupor! Somehow I made it home and collapsed into a food coma nap for most of the afternoon. When I woke up, I knew actual running was out of the question, so I power-walked my mile for the streak; as long as I break a sweat and keep my heart rate above 100, that is good enough for me.

Saturday 12-21: Maintenance, 5.05 miles, 49:21 Houston’s weather is living up to its erratic reputation today – after days of 70 degree highs, there are two different fronts moving through the area, bringing rain in the morning, high winds in the afternoon, and falling temps overnight; we won’t see snow for Christmas, but it will feel much more like winter and less like late spring by the time the holiday gets here! I got my run in during one of the lulls…it was wet, sticky and breezy; I can only wonder what I will encounter tomorrow for my next attempt at a distance PR of 18 miles – on the trails, at that! No matter what, I’ll be out there… You can either make excuses, or you can make progress.

Total for this week: 7 runs, 34.2 miles

Total for December: 21 runs, 100 miles (Woo-hoo!)

In other news, I made positive steps toward two of my goals for 2014: first, I registered with USATF and got my number, listing Houston Area Trail Runners as my club; now, whenever I compete with them, the club gets points for my efforts. This was the first step on my path to being a trail/ultra athlete; next up is to register for the 25K at Bandera on Jan 11; hopefully I can afford that before it fills up, because I am NOT ready to do a 50K, especially one week before my first 26.2! Second, I signed up for Jill Conyers’ 14 in 2014 Challenge (see the pretty new badge on the sidebar?) This adds another layer of accountability, which cannot be anything but helpful as I progress through the year. There is still plenty of time to join in, why not push yourself to get out there and do it?

What challenges have do done in the past, or are doing right now?

Did it make a difference in how you approached running/training?

Would you recommend them to others?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Now I’ve gone and done it!

Just  a quick line here to make it official – I have signed up for the 14 in 2014 Challenge – see the new badge on my sidebar? That’s part of it, too!

I saw the post on Facebook, and realized that the races I have already either paid for, been sponsored for, or made personal commitments to run have me over halfway to the goal, so why not?

Anyone else out there feeling delusional foolhardy up to the challenge?

Let me hear from you in the comments!