Sunday, January 15, 2017

Do You Still Run? - Part 5: Run (Not Bud) Wiser, Enjoy Your Craft (Beer)

It is exceptionally satisfying when you understand your mechanics and work with them. I think I have a ways to go, but I get it - I finally get it. The motivation is there and my body is responding to running (again) with a focus that, not too long ago, seemed ridiculous to me. It only took an offer (a threat) to take part in The Buck Fifty 150 Mile Relay in April.

The Buck Fifty Relay details
In high school and college it was about winning and beating opponents, which can skew your game plan. Paying attention to what others are doing robs one of the most important mantras: RUN YOUR RACE. That may be a good reason why I lost the passion for running some time back. Leave it up to being young, stupid, narrow minded, stupid, self absorbed, stupid and......did I mention stupid?

I received a Garmin watch for Christmas and with it have been able to return to the stat geek days of my youth. Keeping tabs on pace, distance and such has allowed me to run the way I want to, the way my 41 year-old can (or can muster). It was an epiphany: This is enjoyable again and its because I'm working on my race, my running, what I can do. Sure I engage with a community of runners, yes...I like to race - but I race to challenge myself. That doesn't mean I don't ever bite off more than I can chew, but I can now deal with it properly and not psyche myself out and self implode.

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Beer would be an example. In my teens and twenties one drank fizzy, yellow domestic beer. We drank lots of it and quickly - because it wasn't about the taste, it wasn't about simply enjoying it. It was about getting a buzz and having fun - until our bodies hit a breaking point (Dude - one word: solid - S...O...L...I...D, give me something solid or we're exiting the way we came in like Noah and the Ark riding a tidal wave of regurgitated beer and bile).

"Balls to the wall" as we used to say, a race to the finish, then deal with the aftermath.

Now, in my 40's, its something to savor. Your take your time and sip it and work through it. This allows one to experience the flavors, the chase, the process - that's craft beer. Sure, some are better than others, but you enjoy what you like and enjoy it at your own pace.

That is the difference, I have discovered, between running then and running now. Its not so much about the finish, its about the process of getting there. Even still the process is dotted with more aches and pains that tend to last way beyond the post race cool down. Longer training runs have proven that I can keep consistent for up to seven miles. With that said, of course I'm going to push the envelope and run further than I have in 15 years - it only make sense (When Egos Attack, Next at 11!).

No reason to wait to go overboard, which is exactly why I signed up for the Brokeman's Winter Warm Up eight miler on January 15th...wait, do I hear somebody playing Taps?

Half Marathoners in front, 8 milers behind, 5K-ers in the back.
The weather treated us right, it was cold - around 30, but not breezy and no precipitation falling or on the ground. The three tiered race included a half marathon - which started first, the eight miler began two minutes later followed by the 5K two minutes after that. Once our race began the major work was dodging and working our way through the marathoners who were obviously going at a slower pace. Also included were the wooden bridges along on the paved trail - they were frozen, so we did our best ballet tip toe to cross them with an occasional flailing foot as it lost its grip on the bridge floor.

About a mile and a half through it was plain to see there were three of us out front of the eight mile crowd. Still dodging a sporadic half marathoner, it was nice to have others to help keep pace. Along with me were this kid who looked about 15 and gentleman about my age. As we continued through passing water stations and 13.1 mile participants, I could feel my pace was much faster than my training - which was good. Its hard to train at a high level by yourself all the time, trying to gauge without a frame of reference.

Approaching the finish, 
It seemed to take forever to reach the turn around point of the out and back course, though when it came about there was still just the three of us...but not for long. Probably a half-mile into the return trip the gentleman - clad in orange - suddenly blows by me and the kid whom I'm trailing. The only difference is that the kid went with him. I tried, but simply couldn't find that gear. Though I was able to keep a lengthened stride and push myself beyond simply putting it into cruise control. It was another 'sign of the times' moment with another adolescent beating me into submission, just like the 12 year-old girl did in the 5K race in December...stop laughing.

Beginning to feel the fatigue I let my mind wander in an effort to keep myself in rhythm. I haven't run anything more than 6.8 miles since I began in August and I'm now doing well with real runners at a never before attempted distance, apparently I'm doing something right. I joined a group of like-minded runners on Garmin Connect and take part in weekly challenges regarding miles run per week. We are at different levels, but it is an incentive to try and keep pace with others or at least show you, too, are putting in the effort. Creating my own routes around Marion is fun as well - a nice way to see the neighborhoods one typically drives through way to fast.
My race bid and the back of my finishers' medal.

Forcing a smile - knowing that I'm actually improving after nearly 20 years off - I can see the other two ahead of me (I mean, WAAAAY ahead of me) battling and the finish is just ahead of them. I chug along and for the last quarter mile or so I have to tell myself to push to the finish, hard to do sometimes when you don't have anyone around you.

My goal was 59:00 minutes, based on my training times and pace. At the gate, I see out of the corner of my eye the clock is at 57:50 something or other - ahead of my goal, but disappointing because I felt I as going much faster. Sucking wind, I glance at my watch - it shows I was faster than the race clock.

Half smiling/half grimacing at the folks handing out the finishers hardware I turn to see the dude in orange walking towards me - the one who blew who past me at the turn around - he, along with a woman, say, "Are you Craig?" That's when it hit me, a handful of Buck Fifty Race Teammates had planned to race today as well. Up to this point I only knew names and the man in orange (not to be confused
Fellow Traffic Panthers: Patricia, Kevin, Gary and Susan....
and me.
with the man in the yellow hat) was Gary. He, along Buck Fifty Teammate Patricia, reminded me that the race clock was set for the half marathoners who started two minutes ahead. So my watch was correct, my finishing time was 55:56 - a 7:00 mile pace -three full minutes ahead of my goal. Shortly thereafter, teammates Kevin and Susan made themselves known.

I ran the longest race I have ever been apart of and did it with flying (personal) colors - finishing 3rd. It was a shame to hear that Gary, ultimately, was also beaten by that kid who turned out not to be 15 - he was actually 14. Ahhhh...more salt in that wound - feels good....FEELS GOOD!

Some of us wanted a beer afterwards, but it was still only 9:45 in the morning, so we settled on breakfast/brunch at Bob Evans instead - the beer came after I made it home. At Gary's suggestion, I signed up for the Fantastic Frigid 5K in Westerville on January 28th. Running with folks you know can make attaining goals - and failing miserably - more enjoyable.

The Buck Fifty 150 Mile Relay is now just three months away and team Traffic Panthers is on the prowl (or...on a slow, methodical jaunt with a drink or two in hand snapchatting everything in our way. Destruction waiting to happen)!

"Six bucks and my right nut says we're not landing in Chicago" ~ Del Griffith, Planes, Trains & Automobiles

Step 1 - Do You Still Run? Part 1 Getting Started: COMPLETED

Step 2 - Do You Still Run? Part 2 Being Consistent, Make Progress: COMPLETED

Step 3 - Do You Still Run? Part 3 Increasing Mileage: COMPLETED

Step 4 - Do You Still Run? Part 4 Ho, Ho, Ho-ly Crap.

The Buck Fifty on Facebook

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