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Where I attempt to direct ambition

by John on January 30th, 2018

I ran this past weekend1. It, truly, felt good to be on the road again — and it got me thinking about what the upcoming year is going to bring, run-wise. You see, last year, there was a lot of suck – but there was also my vanquishing two long-term goals. First, I wanted to run a marathon in less than four hours — it’s an arbitrary time, absolutely, but it’s a nice round number and is a time that I absolutely couldn’t even dream of matching when I ran my first marathon. Next, I wanted to turn the marathon distance into “just another run, albeit a long one.” Time is quite important to me — and while I love running races, I hate having to sacrifice an entire day to run a marathon. If, say, I managed to get my time under four hours, and the marathon began at 7 in the morning, I’d like to finish, and feel that I’m “mostly recovered” by noon.

Anyway – I managed to break the four-hour mark in September during a beautiful race. But, well, I wasn’t exactly “myself” for the next 48 hours.

I, again, bested the four hour mark with the New York Marathon — but, that event, by definition, takes up the entire day.

I ran the Rehoboth Marathon in December, though, and I think I managed the second goal here . . . sure, I was sore for most of the day, and I might have gone to bed horribly early that night, but I was functioning as a mostly-human all day. Heck, if I was pressed to run a 5k that afternoon, I’d have balked, but I might have been able to.

Maintenance doesn’t really do it for me — I like races, and I’ll continue to run them, because I like them, but I like to have a goal in mind. And I like to better myself. I’ve scheduled my year around two races: May and December – both of which are repeats.

In May, I’ll repeat the Flying Pig Four Way Challenge (with Extra Cheese). Primarily, this is just an excuse for me to get out & visit some some great friends in a great city (Cincinnati) – but I also get to try to push myself in news ways. The four-way challenge is a combination of a 10k followed by a 5k on Saturday, and then a full marathon on Sunday. Add in a mile-long race on Friday, and you have the extra cheese. Last year, I finished – I set a personal best in the mile, and then I did the same with the 10k. I had a fully admirable 5k. I celebrated with too much beer. And then I proceeded to lock my keys in the car Sunday morning, so I started the marathon all flustered and not-in-running shape. So, while I had a great weekend, my marathon went like, well, every previous marathon had gone for me: start out ok, hit mile 16, and, then, slowly, the wheels fell off. I walked a good bit of the last 10k, but I finished. Ultimately, I had a blast over the whole weekend. But I want another crack at the race.

In December, I’ll re-run the Rehoboth Beach marathon – I have some friends set to run it, and we’ll turn it into a family-wide weekend away. I like the thought of all of my races pointing toward a late-year goal – it keeps me focused.

However, on what new goal should I focus? With the Flying Pig challenge, I’m drawn to the world of ultra-marathons . . . yeah, because 26.2 miles isn’t long enough, I’d love to see if I could manage a 50k race. Fifty thousand meters without stopping. Can I? Why would I want to? Well, I would because next would be going 50 miles without stopping.

So, part of me scours for ultra-marathons to which I can enlist. Part of me also scours every spammy email from every race director . . . apparently, somehow, everyone knows of my penchant for wine, and, I swear, I get an invite for half-marathons anywhere that can be deemed “wine country” on a semi-daily basis.

My new job is great, but running over lunch isn’t the possibility it was with my previous position. As the weather is getting warmer, I’m thinking about waking earlier, a few days a week, and grabbing a run before work. Then, on Friday, managing a hill work out after work. Then scheduling (and adhering to) a long run every weekend. If I can manage? I think I’ll be in even better shape than I was last year, with lots of regular running.

I also get to test a hypothesis. I’m not entirely sure it’s the distance of the marathon which had been the issue for me — yeah, I would, commonly, run into problems at about the same mile marker, every time, but I actually think the issue was as much “being on my feet” for as long as I was, as was the distance traveled. So, I have a standing desk — the parallels to how I feel toward the end of the work day and the way my legs would ache as I approached the 22 mile mark . . . well, they’re quite similar. I’m not sure how I can test this – but, come May, we’ll see if I finish up the race in Cincy feeling just a little bit better than I did last year.

1 It almost didn’t happen — when I was packing for the trip, I remembered my running shoes . . . and no other gear. Now, running nekkid seems like a fun idea, on the surface, it would be quite a floppy affair. Also? Local ordinances would show that such an act is illegal. Bullshit, right? Anyway, running without some level of compression gear would be — painful, especially as I hadn’t run in about a month – I don’t have a thigh gap, my thighs would chafe. ANYWAY, I forgot my running gear, but ended up heading out to a mall with the kids, because they had one of those “let’s throw a bunch of bouncy houses together and charge for admission” and my kids were all like “fuck yeah, I wanna do that” into the idea. Next door to the bounce-house collective was a sporting goods store, so I got new compression clothing.
  1. Lisa permalink

    My doctor said when I hurt my foot that people over 40 shouldn’t run on the street. Only treadmills and trails. I’ve been to chicken to jog more than a mile since I got hurt. But I need something. Running was good for my sanity.

    • I can have a long chat with your doctor about his statement & how treadmills are quite bad for everything & everybody (seriously, the only time I trained seriously on a treadmill was in the lead up to the Disney World Half Marathon – because it was brutally cold here, yet I knew I’d be running in heat and humidity — and even then, I skirted workouts because I always felt “off” after the treadmill run). Now, I run in minimalist shoes, when I run on the road, meaning that I strike the road with the balls of my feet, rather than the traditional heel-strike, which, at least for me, makes a ton of difference (if my technique is off & I miss a step, I feel it all the way in my knee / hip / back / and sometimes even shoulder). That said, I don’t know what you have around you, but trail running – well, it’s something I wish I did more (I have the Appalachian Trail basically running through my property – I need to make myself run on it more regularly – great hill work with “pay attention to where you’re putting your feet” work)

      • Lisa permalink

        My foot injury was a heel injury. I jogged about a mile the other day (and walked the rest) and that went ok. So out of shape!

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