Marathon Journal: For 7/24/17

There are many ways of looking at exercise. What I am about to write goes against my recent dabbling in high-intensity interval training, but this marathon I’m training for has been about me finding motivation and success and as I’ve written in the past, the clown thing worked for me in some respects and wasted me in others. I had a very hard time keeping my intensity high and keeping my volume of exercise in perspective. Since I’m a habit guy, I need routine and I could never find one suitable while doing CrossFit.

That would be a “me” problem and not a flaw of CrossFit.

I made some real progress this week by reaching into my old bag of tricks, namely, I slowed down and committed to time. However, I also kept with some of my favorite CrossFit methods and relied on AMRAPs this week. AMRAP stands for as many rounds as possible. The goal is to complete as many rounds of the prescribed exercises as possible in a given time. I chose to run on the indoor track this week and set my AMRAP goal for 90-minutes. Essentially, I was shooting for as many laps as I could get in an hour and a half.

I reasoned that I would push myself to run/walk as fast as possible while getting myself mentally in shape for extended runs. For those of you following along, you might be thinking that this would be too long of a time given the lack of training I’ve done, but I also thought walking might become a big part of what I was doing. Since I’m really only concerned with completing the distance, I’m not too concerned about how long it takes me to finish.

So here’s what happened…7.5 miles…disappointing compared to ten years ago but encouraging for yesterday. For stubbornness, I went ahead and finished the last half of mile for a total of 95-minutes of run/walking. I didn’t have any real issues. When my legs were too tired, I either slowed down or walked. Both of the group exercise classes on the gym floor below distracted me from being bothered and there was enough traffic on the track to give me obstacles to keep the monotony from setting in.

Then I woke up this morning… I’ve been sorer (see my first week after my first CrossFit workout), but I was determined to get back over to the Y. At 8:10, I started walking with a two-hour goal of nothing but walking. The gym was empty, the track was empty, and my mind was empty. After an hour there was a crowd building. For about twenty minutes, I talked with a woman I used to work with, but I could not remember her name. Then I followed an older guy who had amazing pace. He knew I was following along and he would surge from time to time. Finally, he turned right for the exit and I was left with about twenty minutes and an unofficial AMRAP goal of 128 laps. I was at about 113 with around 12-minutes to go.

With so little time left, I did what any overly competitive jerk would do, I started to run. I ran a lap and walked a lap. Time seemed to be moving faster at the end of the run, so I just went for it. Making the time felt great and I was not in the least bit bothered by running about six or seven laps during the workout. In fact, I was surprised at how well my legs felt in those short few laps.

The key to the last few days was getting over the mental barrier of time and once again learning that pacing is very important to how well I perform while exercising. I’m not a “balls to the wall” exerciser. I’m probably too analytical about what I’m doing, although some have suggested that I don’t think about things enough. Issues…

Tomorrow is the next big day. It will be my first three-day push and my first with new gear…thanks, Apple… I wonder what kind of nerdy data I can get from this thing.

Parts Unseen

Sitting to write
With Blind Willie Jefferson humming
The most haunting song ever,
Dark was the Night.
My bourbon is cooling in the freezer,
The Phillies are trying, and
All day I’ve been trying to get my head around
The run I took this morning.

This first day of the “Eff-It” list started,
“No exercise excuses,”
With me trying to decide about going to the Y,
Pounding out some minutes on my basement bike, or
Hitting the roads for a run.
The list’s streak was in trouble as fasting was hitting
A critical breaking point with only three hours to go.
A run seemed the best option.

The humidity was down,
Clouds blocked the sun,
Morning traffic at 9:50 had moved on, and
The roads felt like they would accept my plodding pace,
Potential hunger defeatism, and
Sheepish lungs, who long ago lost their endurance.
Besides, I could easily kill an hour and get myself
Closer to the peanut butter smoothie I dreamt about last night.

Runs have a way of taking a person places.
The more adversity encountered the more interesting the journey.
Since I live in the rolling hills of Chester County,
There are plenty of ups and downs along any route I take.
One minute in and the steepness of my neighborhood
Attacked my determination with full force
Making me question my choice to run outside
Instead of hitting the climate controlled air of the Y.

Somehow nature allowed me to continue and my legs
Stretched out for an easy downhill only to be confronted
By they hill across the way.
It sucked and by the fifth mailbox, I was breathing rocks,
Thinking how sad it is, for this used to be nothing but a warm up.
Negotiating the incline became a series of power deals
Where my will gave into to my legs and
My legs agreed to stick with the run.

In ten minutes, I hadn’t gone anywhere yet, but the run took over.
Thoughts of adding feet to the run in an effort to get to an hour
Rose from self-talk to real life action.
I took to the cul-de-sacs of the neighborhood next to mine
Running for as long as I could, before walking to catch my breath.
I saw old people pruning bushes, rows of cookie cutter condos,
Pregnant ladies walking on paved sidewalks, and a woman
On a big tricycle working with therapists to overcome the ravages of a stroke.

I found myself thinking less about agony,
Thinking about all kinds of stuff really.
Gump, Apple Watches, the kids whose father worked at the car dealership,
The one that burned to the ground.
I dodged the weeds in the abandoned site as my legs took me further from home.
Then a water crew guy yelled, “Give me two, buddy.”
I nodded and kept going thinking how wrong it is that I’m off all summer
While he digs in whatever weather comes this way.

A turn up another hill took me towards the Italian Social Club.
Only a mile and a half from my home and nearly an hour into the run,
Lot’s of cul-de-sacs, hills, and walking,
I found myself on a road that I had never been on before.
Nearly thirty years in this town and I had never run down this hill.
My mind was like a camera,
The sagging roof on the Boy Scouts clubhouse,
The abandoned trailer, and kids were playing next to their home,
A mushroom house converted into an apartment,
There were weeds and isolation was everywhere.

And I was pissed.
Five minutes by car are million dollar homes.
These kids are growing up in an area
Just two minutes from where they go to school
And I guessed most of my town knew nothing of this street.
The idea of their living here pushed me further down the hill
Where I planned on turning around and head back home.
This would not be, as the run back up looked to be too much for my heart.

Next was a dirt road next to the railroad tracks. Across the rails was a trailer Park that I pass on my way to school each morning.
It looked different from this side, larger, lower,
A creek, that I heard flooded regularly, snaked through without a care
For the damage it might cause.
My feet crunched with each step,
The homes along the track seemed nothing more than permanent tiny homes
Stuffed on this route to be hidden from the renaissance less than a mile away.

Somehow, I found a groove on this soft pavement.
Another mushroom house was being renovated,
There were tires strewn about, and dust
From the concrete plant drowned the weeds next to the train tracks.
The leaves looked like frosted Christmas decorations
Instead of nature’s deep green that they should have been.
It struck me, I had no idea of the concrete plant, its white powder everywhere
Except under the hose spewing water without an attendant or a current purpose.

Finally, I arrived at something I knew.
The edge of town, the high school fields, a beer garden, a fancy pottery store.
I turned right and ran up the hill, the houses looking well kept,
The yards manicured,
The people the same as the other street, only in better situations.
Another right turn and I was heading towards home.
I let the water guy know I had done his two,
He wished me a Happy Father’s Day and twenty minutes later I was walking my dog.

Running took me somewhere today,
Further from thoughts of fitness, marathons, and split times
And closer to the realities of economic injustice and my lack of awareness
About the struggles of people around town.
Maybe I covered seven miles today, I refuse to run with my phone,
In terms of enlightenment
I think I ran that marathon I’m training for.
Charlie Patton is singing, “I’m Goin’ Home.”

Marathon Journal: 6/10/17

The time sure has passed on this marathon training program. In fact, the projected date for this ludicrous endeavor has long passed.

I didn’t run the marathon.

Boo, you suck, you asked for donations and never did the race, you suck, boo!!!

Well, all of that is mostly true (I sound like a president of something…). Here’s the story, it’s not sad, but it is true.

Life got in the way.

Back in February when I last posted, basketball season was ending and I was sort of geared up for the final push to the “Just Me” marathon (400 and something laps on the track at my local YMCA). For a couple of weeks after the season ended, I basked in the free time and made use of the afternoons to run. Then one day I had a minor meltdown where the arrogance of wisdom met head on with the ignorance of adolescence. On that day, I barked at some baseball players in my school about attitude, commitment, and effort. From my lofty perch of life’s experience, I laughed at their absolute belief in their lack of class effort and how that translated to their prediction for the upcoming season. Early that evening, I went for a run on the track. Coincidently, the baseball team came out to practice on the football field as the snow had melted there.

Hang with me…

I’ve learned over the years to be careful about certain questions from my bosses. The most alarm sound of them all is, “Hey, I’ve got a question for you?” The day after my meltdown and track encounter, the athletic director was in my office posing that very question. I answered, “Uh-oh, that didn’t sound good.” We laughed and he proceeded to ask if I would like to coach BASEBALL. One of the coaches was quitting and the team needed someone to “ride the bus.” After talking to my real boss, Mrs. H., I said, “yes,” and so would begin my quick descent into baseball mode. Fortunately, I ended up doing more than riding the bus and the players and I saw each other in a different light. The season ended up great from that standpoint, but not so successful with the record.

During the basketball season, I sort of managed to keep my running going. Baseball killed that. I thought baseball was so much harder to coach than basketball. I don’t know if it was the time, the wind, the sun, or the standing, but I was dog tired after practice and games. My running stopped and here I am nearly four months passed my last training post. During that time, I lost my endurance, gained seven pounds, discovered Miller High Life (I had the time and they had the beer…), and started to feel really sluggish. All the while, I kept thinking that I needed to run this “race” because I said that I would.

It’s funny how little things can spur some motivation. 231 on the scale is an attention getter. An old blogger resurfacing with those cool Monday posts is another. YouTube can help. Even my AD brought a bit of motivation to my lethargy. So here’s how my “resurrection” began. I was working my way through YouTube. I did Brilliant Ideas and Chase Jarvis. I guess the folks at YouTube thought I would be interested in Bullet Journaling because they kept sending me videos about BOJOs. For kicks and giggles, I watched one and thought it was pretty cool. A couple of days later, I was drawing in a journal and trying to figure out how to use it to make the lifestyle changes that needed to be made. In the journal, I’m trying to focus on creating enjoyment, power, and endurance. The things that I put in my journal should be promoting those ideals. Out of that journal, I began getting better at scheduling my workouts. Even so, I’ve been hit or miss about the running.

Because it hurts, man…

The AD came to me with another proposition, volleyball? I signed on to be an assistant coach and with baseball over, I went to my first open gym. It was awesome! My fear, though, is that this is just something else to jam up my exercise schedule. Back to the BOJO and a few scribbles here and there made the three lifestyle priorities work together. The exercise began to ramp up…

Then YouTube dropped another vegetable on my plate, “Intermittent Fasting.” The idea is that there are big chunks of time where a person fasts and an eating window where the person eats normally. Today is my first day. I’ve committed myself to a month of at least fourteen-hour fasting. Although, I’m waiting until Monday to really start, so I can truly enjoy breakfast with my daughter tomorrow. However, today I rocked out a sixteen hour fast and can see the benefits to doing so. I survived the hunger pangs and never felt tired, even with a workout in the middle of the hunger alarms.

Okay, that gets me to today. I decided to hit the Y and lift weights. That turned into lifting weights and then getting on the track for an hour. Truth be told, I ran one lap and then walked one lap. The intensity was lacking, but I was more interested in seeing if I could stick to a goal. The 1:1 gave me the opportunity to get my legs going without the horrible feeling of over doing it. I got it done despite being asked about my ex-wife (twelve years people…), no music of my own, and the over enthusiastic cueing from the group exercise teacher down on the basketball court. That’s really the time when it sucks to be a visual learner. “Shhh, I’ve got it, bend my knees…”

I like to think that I’m motivated on my own. I guess YouTube, BOJOs, and my athletic director suggest that I am influenced by extrinsic factors, too. I have to give a welcome back to an amazing poet and all around good person from coppercranes.worpress.com. It’s hard to know why things make an influence on you, but I can say about “Ms. Crane’s” work that it is always thought provoking and moving. Better yet, she’s an encourager and while I only know her through the blogging world, I’m glad to have come across her site and wisdom.

So, now it all comes together. If it were a simple math equation, it might look like this: YouTube+BOJO+Volleyball+good poetry+frustration over lethargy=back to training, baby!

More to come!

Marathon Journal: For 2-22-17 (+ a Rant)

Before you read any further, know that this is part of an educational rant and part training journal. The two go together even though the ranting is about Physical Education and the journal is about training for my ridiculous marathon plan.

Still here? Good.

Some background: I have been a teacher for 23-years. I started in elementary school, moved to middle school, and currently teach high school. For a few years, I was also an adjunct to a well-respected teacher preparation college. My subjects are Health and Physical Education. I teach people. I’m opinionated about my profession and believe that my opinion is subject to criticism. Take this as you will…

The delivery of a sound educational program is grounded in some sort of theory. From that theory, programs are developed. The programs must be assessed against outcomes. I cannot cite the article that I learned that from, but please know that this is the foundation for many of the decisions that I make in my job as a GYM teacher. (Those of you in the profession who are offended by “GYM teacher,” I make no apologies. “We are what we are and what we are is an illusion…” Le Cage Au Folles, I believe…). For those of you not in the profession, PE/Gym teachers spend a great deal of time trying to improve the image of what they do. We have a professional organization with a cute name, “SHAPE,” (Society of Health and Physical Education) that works as an advocate for all things health and physical education. State departments of education have created standards, cultivated by physical educators, that stand on a buffet of themes that include, team sports, individual sports, dance, science, decision making, problem- solving, and fitness. All of the standards are meant to show the money brokers that physical education matters in an educational context. It’s as if the profession cannot stand on its own, so it took a shotgun planning approach to say, “Look at all the ways we matter.”

And still, the profession struggles for respectability. There are too many reasons to go into, but the major things that seem to keep people from liking PE are: that people see no reason for a gym class, that people do not want to sweat, or PE is not fun. The “PE Council of Higher Education” will say that the problems stem from a lack of coherent instruction or poorly designed programs. Practitioners will say that the schedules are messed up and that there is a disconnect between what professor types think should be happening in schools and what the constraints of PE in the real world are all about.

“Chris, what does all of this have to do with your marathon training? I don’t need an essay on education. Heck, I went to school. Duh…”

“I hear you. I’m also with you. Remember, I am ranting.”

Learning is a highly complex and messy process. My theory is that the messier the process the better, so I teach, I am purposefully vague with instructions or I place barriers up for students to work around. A member of fictitious PE Council of Higher Education asked me today if that meant, “handing kids a racquet and shuttlecock and sending them out to play badminton without any prior instruction.” My answer, “Why not?” was not received well. Here is my reasoning, people need to learn how to think and make choices. I see badminton as a tool to help my students think and as a means to have them moving around. Through all of that, I want them to have fun. Experience, learning, and research have shown me a few things about how people learn. First, people are capable of more than we believe, so we have to remove ourselves and allow them to grow. I am not suggesting that PE teachers leave a class to chaos, but I am saying to PE teachers that their students will find the answers and develop skills if we give them both the chance and time. We are not coaching a team, so our approach does not need to be limited by skill development, game strategy, or herding students into a large group game. We are facilitating learning experiences, so it’s okay to concentrate on outcomes beyond the physical. How about developing self-efficacy, decision-making, resilience, or sweat equity (I just made that up…)?

Second, the most powerful person in any class is every student. If they don’t buy into what is happening in class, the program will suffer and the profession will stay second class in the minds of the people bringing the next consumers of our product to life. Allowing and expecting that students find a way to understand the importance of physical activity (on their terms) is a very important aspect of what we do. Doing so allows students to participate in a self-directed and personally meaningful experience that has a real opportunity to tap into real life skills and social constructs like self-efficacy, resilience, or joy. Let the program be more than a bunch of rules or “official” looking sports. Allow the program to be flexible and in tune with the individual needs of the students. That individuality is how adults exercise. There is value in team sports, but the edge of the cliff for team sports participation rapidly approaches by high school.

Finally, all of what happens in PE can be around a culture of fun. Dodgeball is fun. Dance is fun. Team sports are fun. Experiencing all of those may not be fun for all students, but finding the types of things that students like should be something that PE teachers strive for. Fun makes everything else easier, more enjoyable, and I believe more meaningful.

“Okay, Chris, do you have data to support your theory and program?”

“Why yes, smarty pants, I do.” (Insert proper emoji)

The quick report on a study I did last year was to measure the general self-efficacy (belief a student can create success) through participation in a strength and conditioning class. Without all the educational research mumbo jumbo (doctoral terms!), the students’ self-efficacy scores rose from the pretest at the beginning of the year to the posttest at the end of the year. Think about this, though, I didn’t make a big deal about standards. I wasn’t cranky about perfect form. I didn’t even ask them to tell me about the scientific appropriateness of plyometrics training on the regeneration of muscle tissue. (I guess that’s a thing…). Strangely, though, students who were unable to sign up for the class again this year talk about how great that class was and how they are still exercising. There you have it…

I know that this rant about physical education teachers is exhausting, but too much of what we do in the gym (and in education in general) forgets that we teach people. We do not teach subjects. “Education through the physical” is my mantra. “Education of the physical” is a side dish for me. Getting students to feel good about themselves because they realize that they can create success (whatever their metric is) is my goal. The rest of this stuff, standards, scripted learning, public versus charter versus private is just BS…

“Marathon journal, yo?…”

“Here it is and thank you for staying with me.”

“Finally…”

Take this marathon I’m running…it’s one of the dumbest ideas I’ve ever had. I’m running a marathon on an indoor track. Who does such a thing? Better than that, I’m only halfway training. I could care less about my time. There won’t be a crew, nobody will be getting paid overtime, and there won’t be any litter to pick up after I’m done.

It’s going to be great!

I started out on this journey simply wanting to prove that at my advanced age and level of ignored fitness that I could complete a marathon. My long run right now is about six miles. I’m running in about a month and should have a long run closer to twenty miles, but I don’t really care. I’ve got all day to go the distance. I’m not worried about a standard, pace, or a mileage/skill progression. I’m running for the fun of it. I’ll benefit from the exercise, but I’ll savor the accomplishment.

So in the name of denying essential content, as a protest against something with a #, and in the spirit of anyone who remembers a great day of dodgeball in gym class, I RUN!

Not really, I’m just doing this to see if I can. I believe it so.

Thanks to my PE teachers who understood what was important…

Marathon Journal: For 2/14/17

My Old Running Haunts…

The last couple of days have been about letting go of the coaching laziness and getting back to the running routine. It’s tough making life changes and made more difficult by the “crud” that is going around. I’ve been mixing in running here and there, but the distances have been hampered by lungs that are still trying to get clear. I added some indoor cycling to the mix and I hope that the fitness will come back quickly.

Tonight, as I try to fight off the incredible hunger I have after a Rock-n-Roll ride, I got to ride around some of my old running roads. How did it ever happen? There is no way I ever ran the hills and fought through the funk of the mushroom industry. I guess age has something do with it. When I went through my first running boom, I was about 15 years younger. I’m sure a lot of my running energy was due to being young. I’d bet my recoveries were faster too. Then there is the lighter factor, all those microbrews and Pop-Tarts add up.

When I think about it, though, this time around is not that different than back then. I grinding minutes wherever I can. Sometimes I run the track, sometimes on a treadmill, and others I’m just cruising with my dog. I just go and that’s the best part, just like when I got to the point when I could handle hills and real mileage. Maybe tonight was not so much about an awe of my running past, but instead seeing a hill and waiting for the day when I run it like I used to.

Thank you for reading my blog. I am running this marathon of one to support the Kennett Area YMCA. If you would like to support the Y, I have provided the link to their site below. Since this about running for a charity of my choice, I think it awesome if you would prefer to donate somewhere else. In fact, I would love it…good for this journey’s spirit!

Donate to the Kennett YMCA!

Marathon Journal: For 2-9-17

And now I cough…

The last few days have been up and down. I nearly wrote roller coaster, but that was too cliche, so I settled for up and down. Cliche… Sunday began my battle with the previous week of work where our tiny office served as an incubator for whatever viral-respiratory thing is going around. Since there were only two days left in my basketball season I stayed in the germ-laden environment about forty-eight hours longer than I should have. Finally, Wednesday arrived and I hunkered down for some serious recuperation.

What I didn’t know was that there would be little rest, except for the two-hour nap I took after watching Rectify and listening to the pundits go round and round about the latest whatever is going on in Washington fiasco. I’ll just say this, “Both sides, GET IT TOGETHER!” Did I mention that the temperature was a balmy sixty-three degrees. That’s about fifteen to twenty degrees above normal and all I could muster was a short walk with my dog and some time sitting on the deck. Yesterday was the perfect day to run, warm, sunny, and no real commitments, although I was home from work.

So I slept…

The weather has changed dramatically today. There will probably be about four or five inches of snow on the ground by the time this storm goes through. Schools are closed and when I awoke, the pundits were still lamenting alternate facts, media shaming, executive lies, double talk, and whether the Knicks need an intervention. Since the school cancellation call woke me at five, I watched the heavy snow falling nearly from it’s beginning. I noshed on a bagel and rushed through the New York Times Mini-Crossword puzzle in near record time, but something came over me. I had to go for a run despite the medical advice to sit the next few days out. The doctor pushed hard for me to get a flu shot, but on her recommendation, I held firm. She talked of resting for about a week so there would be less of a chance for my cold to turn into something else. She took my insurance and co-pay quickly after I said, “No.”

And then I ran…

I layered up, found some gloves and a knit cap, and asked my dog if he wanted to go. Since he took about a minute to do his business earlier in the morning, I already knew the answer. Into the white out, I went. The flakes were being blown around by a steady wind that made them feel more like sleet than snow. The salt trucks and plows were out and they had turned the roads in my little neighborhood into a slushy mess. The sky was gray and for a second I thought, “This is not a good day to run.” Still, though, I kept going, slowly of course, and left my neighborhood for the next one “up the way.” I made it past the oil change place, then the Dunkin, past the home style food restaurant and the shuttered ice cream stand, around the loop in the next neighborhood, and finally, home.

It sure felt good. Since then the coughing has started. My lungs are saying to the illness that it’s time to go. I’m not at all bothered by the hack. I’ve got nowhere to go today. So maybe I’ll catch the next episode of Rectify and take another nap. Maybe I’ll even grade some papers. Maybe not…

Thank you for reading my blog. I am running this “marathon of one” to support the Kennett Area YMCA. If you would like to support the Y, I have provided the link to their site below. Since this about running for a charity of my choice, I think it would be awesome if you donated to the Kennett Area YMCA, if you have a cause close to your heart, by all means, use the spirit of this challenge to give to a charity or organization you are more comfortable with. I would love that…good for this journey’s spirit!

Donate to the Kennett YMCA

Marathon Journal: For 2-5-17

What an interesting week of training. I didn’t run at all. For those of you following along, it would be reasonable to think something was up with my calf. Thankfully, there is nothing going on there. I just didn’t feel like running. Instead, I played basketball. Yes, I played basketball and risked injuring my calf again. I know, I’m crazy, stupid, or whatever negative label most appropriately describes my decision-making process. Here is the reality of this marathon training…I don’t care about it. I’m doing this because I want to and I’m going to do it my way. Sure, there are principles of training that I should be following. I know there are all sorts of programs I should be following, but this week was busy and I’m not going to miss the opportunity to shoot some pain free hoops if I can.

I marvel at people who have the single-minded focus to train with a strict discipline. I used to run with a group and there was a guy who was training for a 100-mile race. He would three hours in the darkness of the early morning, squeeze in a run at lunch, run three more hours at night. He was inspiring and off-putting at the same time. I could not fathom his ability to endure the hours of training, nor did I want the aches he often complained about. He ran his race and I think it took him about twenty-seven hours. He also came home with a bump on his head as he fell asleep while running at one point. After his story, I knew that kind of training was beyond me and that I need to keep things in perspective.

So on this day gray day, I write while watching golf in the desert, sipping tea from Mrs. Robinson’s shop, nursing a sinus infection, and glad to have sweated it out on the basketball court this week. Tuesday, my coaching season ends. Then I’m back to the serious training. Rest assured, though, I’m not going to go crazy. I’m not capable of doing that.

Thank you for reading my blog. I am running this “marathon of one” to support the Kennett Area YMCA. If you would like to support the Y, I have provided the link to their site below. Since this about running for a charity of my choice, I think it would be awesome if you donated to the Kennett Area YMCA, but if you have a cause close to your heart, by all means, use the spirit of this challenge to give to a charity or organization you are more comfortable with. I would love that…good for this journey’s spirit!

Donate-Kennett YMCA

Marathon Journal: For 1-29-17

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This is the hat circa 2004-05…

 

The week got away from me with basketball and binge watching TV taking over. I think there should be an understanding that if a person takes a nap on Sunday, time stops for them to ensure that they do not lose valuable weekend time. My nap today, shortened the weekend by about two hours, but that was because my run started yesterday at about noon and ended around 9:30 this morning. I’ll explain later…

First, for those following along, my calf finally gave in and relaxed. Maybe it was the bananas. Maybe it was the near non-stop stretching. Could it have been “A Fine Pilsner” or two…or three… In desperation, I picked up a heating pad and turned my left leg into the human equivalent of a pig on a spit. Whatever it was, I felt good enough to go for a run today after bashing my calf like the guy in Washington bashing us with his Animal House float looking head. (Go watch the movie. He appears right before Otter gets beaten up! Hmmm, sounds like the Constitution.)

So about this one run of the week starting yesterday… My role as the 9th-grade basketball coach at school gives me the opportunity to sort of hang out with the JV and Varsity teams at their games. Yesterday, we were playing an away game and I was sitting at the end of the bench during warm ups scouting out the local team’s talent when an old man came over to talk to me. He started telling me all about John Wooden, John Thompson, and Bobby Knight. Each had been an inspiration to him and he learned a great deal from them that he used with his teams. Our talk was so relaxing and kind of took my mind away from my previous task. As he walked away, I must have been “blank slating” because my eyes went right to a man wearing a black hat from a trail race. The race is a 50K (31-miles) that I ran back in ’03 or ’04. We talked a bit about the race and he asked if I still had my hat (The race is called the Hat Run and they give out baseball caps instead of t-shirts.). I had mine up until a year ago when my pit bull decided to put an end to the hat. We got a laugh out of that and the game began.

Talking with the men must have affected me on some level. After a few cautious laps on the track this morning, I began thinking of both. They were older. Each was polite and willing to share their experiences. One was African American and the other white, which is not really important, except that I think there are people in our country who would shy away from either because of their “color.” People are people, people. Learn to appreciate each other.

So there I was on the run. I felt great and got buffet ideas about how much I was going to run. Below the track in a corner room off the gym, I could hear the Spinning instructor yelling and today her music was great (except for that “round and round” song…). The rest of the gym was empty for the first thirty minutes. My legs were fresh. My lungs were clear and I decided that I would go for ninety minutes. A few minutes before nine that all changed. The group exercise class started to “Walking Dead” into the gym. They shuffled across the floor with big water bottles, Coach bags, and yoga mats for the floor work. The “Sundayers” crack me up because they have unofficially assigned spots. Each week women go to the same places on the floor and God forbid someone new to the class take their spot. It cracks me up.

Fifteen minutes into the class, the music turned on me. The song had a sound that sounded like those crazy horns from the World Cup. I totally lost concentration and the calm of the empty gym floated away with the “EEEHEHEHEER” of the music. Then some guy in the front row started yelling the stereotypical aerobics yell and I was done. I did the self-talk thing to convince myself that this was good mental practice for the grind of running a marathon, but it didn’t work. I mixed in some thrusters, sit-ups, hip raises, and then hit the road.

From the calm of casual conversations to the beat down of thump-thump music… My run was today was awesome. Thinking about the two old guys was a relief from the news polarizing my country. Hopefully, this new governing style will understand that when one system pushes, other systems push back. Maybe whoever is running our country will step away and let the government represent all of the people and not just the egos of those holding office and the ledgers of those paying to get them elected. I’m glad I thought about that after the run. Too bad the country didn’t think about it before the election.

Thank you for reading my blog. The marathon I am training for is real, but I’m the only person running it. I am going to run 493 laps around the track at the Kennett Area YMCA and make a donation to the Y as my “entry fee.” If you would like to donate to the Kennett Y, I have included the link below. However, the true spirit of this run is to donate where you want, so feel free to donate to a charity you prefer if you are so inclined. I’d love that!

Donate to the Kennett YMCA

Marathon Journal: For 1-21-17

Let’s get right to the crux of things. I beat to a different drum, but not so different that I could be called “out there.” I’ve learned over the past few days, that I don’t get excited by comedies. They are okay, but I don’t hold onto the jokes from movies or television shows the way some people do. At the same time, though, I love banter with friends that is funny. Go figure. I also learned that I have a fashion sense that is polarizing. I wore a bolo tie the other day and it caused quite a stir. There weren’t any riots on the streets of the Nation’s capitol, but the tie was a love it or hate it proposition. For what it’s worth, I like the tie and will wear it again.

The shocker for me has been the reaction from people when I tell them about this marathon.They cannot get their heads around the idea that I am going to run twenty-six miles (and change) around a gym court. I was even told it was weird. I guess it’s weird in the context of normal marathon running. All of the marathons I ran in my thirties were point-to-point races. They were outside with cheering fans and regular water stops. Traffic was diverted so that we could run a race of individual accomplishment under the guise of raising money for charity. I always wondered if the police, who made the race safe by managing the traffic headache, were working for free. If not, a portion of my entry went to paying overtime and not to the charity for the race.

I find that weird. So, I’m running this race in a way that makes me feel like 100% of my efforts are going to the organization of my choice. If it’s not apparent from this post, I also have a fairly opinionated and stubborn streak. I just want to do this my way and I am more than a little surprised at the reactions of people. The track freaks them out. Ultimately, though, distance is distance.

As for the training, the week went well. My calf is sore and I have given into this being my challenge. I will continue to train and manage the pain smartly, but I will not give into this silly tightness. Go ahead, tell me of the future damage I could cause. I’ll listen, but I’m doing this race to test me and I’ll find a way to work around tight calves. After all, I’ve had them all my life. Despite the pain, I put in twelve miles this week and am ready for whatever comes next.

Weirdo, out…

Marathon Journal: For 1/14/17

The Marathon Course

Motivation…

We are built to run. We move forward with efficiency. We can cool down effectively. We are able to think and make decisions about pace, technique, and whatever else comes to mind. Thinking comes with some barriers, though. Because we have the power to make choices about what we do, motivation, or lack thereof, becomes a factor in our training. What do we do to manage those moments when motivation becomes a barrier to our training? How do we get back on track or stay moving when our energy is down? I bet there are a million answers to that because we all have our ways of maintaining our commitment to exercising.

I’m writing this after a thirty-minute run under the most horrible condition, blasting thump-thump music. I arrived at the Y this morning unsure of what I would do. My calf is still sore, more so after running twenty minutes yesterday. The parking lot was so full that I could not find an easy spot for my truck. Everything I was thinking told me to just go home. I’ve got at least 100 reasons to run this “sort of” race, so I decided to make the walk over the bridge and hit the track. Don’t make fun of me, but the distance from my truck to the track might have been two-hundred yards. When I finally got to the track (two minutes, maybe), I was washed over by a tsunami of sound. The banging bass muffled the incomprehensible exhortations of a tank topped man getting a hoard of people to do whatever form of weight lifting cardio they were doing.

Yesterday, I ran in the gym at my school with music from Hayes Carl, Paul McCartney, and whatever else is stored on my iPod. That’s right, iPod, it’s a Classic and it still charges. The tunes were soothing and let my mind focus on how I felt. However, I ran alone and before long my calf was letting me know it was time to quit. I gave in rather easily. Today, I was faced with the daunting task of running through the multitude of aural and visual distractions that I knew would beat me down in just a few minutes.

So I started running. The first few laps were tough. I could hear the guy breathing into his microphone. My calf was tight, but the tightness would move around leaving different parts of it relaxed. The thought crept into my head that maybe it was going to be okay. Below, the entire gym floor was covered with people working hard. I peeked over the rail while they were squatting and something happened. The bars going up and down must have hypnotized me or something because I got into a flow that would last for the next thirty minutes. I barely thought about my calf. I dismissed the hoots and “yee-haws” from the class below. Ultimately, I had the best run I’ve had in a long time.

I think it was the thump-thump music. Somehow the music put my mind at ease and let me do what I’m designed to do, run. I didn’t think about sticky muscle fibers, weight, angry parents, or the confirmation of Cabinet members. I just ran.

That’s how it should be…

Thank you for reading my blog. I am running this “marathon of one” to support the Kennett Area YMCA. If you would like to support the Y, I have provided the link to their site below. Since this about running for a charity of my choice, I think it would be awesome if you donated to the Kennett Area YMCA, if you have a cause close to your heart, by all means, use the spirit of this challenge to give to a charity or organization you are more comfortable with. I would love that…good for this journey’s spirit!

Kennett Area YMCA-Donate

 

Photo Credit: Chris Hancock-All rights reserved