Saturday, March 05, 2011
My favorite type of blog is when a fellow Sparker finds their "inner athlete". These people have a story about feeling physically inadequate most of their lives. Usually these feelings stem from bad experiences in gym class while in school.
I had a little different experience.
In grade school I was a big clumsy kid with two left feet. I fell down a lot and always had bruises on my knees. I was slow, uncoordinated and couldn't hit a ball with a bat to save my life. I remember one time in 6th grade I got up to bat during a softball game. I was determined to clobber the ball over the fence. I took a mighty swing as the ball neared the plate. I missed the ball, lost my balance and fell down on my back in a cloud of dust. The girls that were present burst into laughter. A teacher came over and asked me if I was alright. I shook my head and was sent behind the backstop at the end of the line. I hoped and prayed I would not have to get up to bat again. My prayers were answered.
In 7th grade we were all tested for the Presidential physical fitness award. Part of the testing process was to see how many chin-ups we could do. On the chin-up bar I hung there like a useless lump. The kind gym teacher told me if I could manage to bend my arms he would count it as one chin-up. I couldn't even bend my arms. I had a man-sized body with boy sized muscles. The gym teacher put me down for one chin-up anyway.
In 8th grade I got a paper route. I struggled to pedal my big heavy fat-tire bike up hills with the bike loaded with papers. In the summer my friends and I would race our bikes to the swimming pool and swim all day long. I traded my old Tonka trucks for a weight set. My dad was a welder and he built me a sturdy weight bench. I bought a book about weight lifting. I did curls, reverse curls, bench press, butterflies and military press. I did 3 sets of 10 reps just like the book said. By the way, I still have some of those weights even today.
In 9th grade, out of the blue, I got an invitation to go out for freshman football. There was an organizational meeting at the school prior to the season. When I walked into the room for the meeting my heart sank. There was a room full of better athletes than me. There were big kids, fast kids and strong kids all around me. It was standing room only. I went to a huge school. There must have been 75 kids there. I knew I didn't stand a chance.
We got our equipment for the first practice. The helmet was too tight and the shoes were too big. My dad had told me that I should volunteer for everything. He had been a college football player so I figured he knew what he was talking about. Just as a side note, my dad was an outstanding college football player. My mom had been a champion swimmer. I just thought the genetics didn't get passed to me. I was wrong.
Much to my surprise, I was fast and I was strong! I not only made the team, I started at defensive tackle and offensive guard. I was good. Really good. After football season was over I wrestled at heavy weight. I ran the 1/2 mile in track and was competitive. I was beating guys that were 50 pounds lighter than me. In 10th grade we were again testing for the Presidential physical fitness award. I got it! I was recruited to play college football. I decided to go to an elite smallish engineering school where I became a starter as a freshman.
But I still saw myself as a big clumsy kid. When I was senior in high school we played our arch rival in a football game. We beat the stuffing out of them. I was the blind side offensive tackle. After the game, some of the other players talked me into going to a pizzeria that was a local hang-out. As we walked through the door I saw the place was loaded with girls. They broke into clapping and cheering. Some of these girls were the same ones that had laughed at me in 6th grade when I fell down playing softball. I told my friends, "See ya", and walked out the door.
I just couldn't stand being treated like a hero by the same people that took so much pleasure in watching me fall down 6 years earlier. I never thought that athletic prowess made anyone special. I hung out with kids that had been my friends even when I was a clumsy athletic lost cause. Most of my friends were not part of the “in” crowd. But they were true hearted with lots of character.
Character is everything.
This is me in 1974. My hair was pretty short by 1970's standards. That kid weighed over 200 pounds and was really quick.
I threw the shot and discus and ran the 1/2 mile. To this day I still have real speed in the half mile. I would trade speed for endurance though!
Sunday, February 27, 2011
I have decided to run the Long Scraggy race, which is scheduled for April 30th. My friend John is the race organizer. He called me to clue me in about the race . The Long Scraggy starts off with a 20% grade for 1.4 miles and then it gets hard. My friend John is hardcore. He is training for THE race - the fearsome Hardrock 100 mile trail race. Take a look at this bad boy:
The Hardrock 100 is one of the "Rocky Mountain Slam" series. Other "Slam" races include: Leadville Trail 100, Bear 100 Mile Endurance Run, the Bighorn 100, or the Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run.
Here is a blurb from the Leadville Trail 100:
"The legendary "Race Across The Sky" 100-mile Run is where it all started 29 years ago.
This is it. The race where legends are created — and spirits are crushed. 100 miles of extreme Colorado Rockies"
Take a look at the Leadville Trail 100 site:
Thankfully registration is closed for the 100 mile races. I am thinking about doing the LT100 10K run.
I have a lot of work to do to take on the Scraggy and the LT100 10K. I find that registering for a race is a great motivator. I did hill repeats today. On road where I live is a1/2 mile long hill that varies from 20% to 30%. It got pretty cold and windy (20F with 20 mph winds) while I was running. I jumped on the elliptical when I got home. I have also starting watching my nutrition far more carefully.
Here is a quote from the release for the 10K:
".... I have recently had a complete examination, preferably including a stress electrocardiogram, and even if I have, I have been warned that these races require special care. I have also been advised that I may be exposed to physical injury from a number of natural factors, including but not limited to snow on the trail, lack or overabundance of water, lightning, wild animals..."
These factors also include, among other things, the fact that I may become injured or incapacitated in a location where it is difficult or impossible for the event’s management to get required medical aid to me in time to avoid physical injury or even death."
I like the slogan of the Leadville races:
"TEST YOUR STRENGTH. QUESTION YOUR SANITY."
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Sweet Run Alabama – Bad Run Colorado
Saturday, February 19, 2010
As I write this blog I am flying through the inky blackness on my way home from Alabama. My backside is killing me! I have been sitting all day long. I ran really hard yesterday up some pretty steep terrain. Running hills puts a lot of stress on the glutes and hams. Sitting on a plane is torture on sore glutes and hams. I just paid $7 for a Budwiser in an attempt to get some relief. Just three more hours to go – ouch! Mon Capitan has the seat belt light on due to some clear air turbulence. I think he is clearly over-reacting. The plane seems to be flying fine to me. I need to get up and walk around!
Thursday, February 18, 2011
My work schedule allowed me to take Thursday morning off. I headed for another trail run in Oak Mountain State Park. The weather was still beautiful. I had spied a trail during my last visit that I thought would be reasonably flat.
As I entered the park I saw a guy running on the side of the road. He was running smoothly and looked quite fast. I am reminded of an old running adage; “Not all runners that look fast are fast, and not all runners that look slow are slow.”
I think I fall into the category of a runner that looks slow and is slow.
The trail I thought was flat was not flat. The trail had a little rise at the beginning and just kept getting steeper. The good news is that the trail surface was pretty smooth and Alabama has real breathable air.
At any rate, I did not run well. Here are my performance figures for a 5K training run:
Average pace: 9:21 min/mile
Fastest Pace: 5:45 min/mile for ½ mile (I only have ½ mile of real speed)
Slowest Pace: 12:24 min/mile for ¾ mile (I have an infinite amount of slow)
Temperature: 72 degrees F
Average grade 10%
Maximum Grade 24%
So what happened? Why so slow? I found that my legs gave out. This is new for me. At high altitude my lungs give out. The hills at Oak Mountain State Park were just steep enough to wear me down. Plus I think running at a 5:45 min/mile pace on a flat stretch did not do my stubby legs any good.
Oh joy, Mon Capitan just announced the plane will be landing shortly. More later….
Sunday, Feb 20th
I am back home in the nose-bleed zone in Colorado. I just attempted to go running. I think a week in Alabama has totally wimped me out. The lack of oxygen was less fun than I had hoped. A lot of people run for fitness. I run to feel that I have accomplished something. The more adverse the conditions, the better feel when the run is over. A lot of runners have the same feelings.
The temperature was a balmy 26 °F. I decided to run in shorts. Big mistake! I managed to get in about 1 ½ miles and then beat a hasty retreat to house to finish my cardio workout on my elliptical trainer. My running pace was really bad at about 12 minute mile. I was cold and the lack of air I felt most acutely.
Temperature 26 °F
Feels Like 12 °F
Max Wind Speed 15 mph
Max Gust Speed 25 mph
Average Humidity 84%
Snow Depth: 20”
I am back home. Are there really places that are warm? Alabama seems like a distance memory.
Enjoy the photos!
It is always good to know where you are
Oak Mountain State Park low water crossing - the geese took thier own sweet time getting out of the way
Mico rental car at trail head - snappy little thing
Surprisingly steep trail
Nice and smooth
Nice little bridge on the trail
Trail starts to climb, and climb, and climb.
On my way home in a tiny plane - see the guy on the ground - he would bump his head on the wing if not careful! This plane was a flying torture chamber!
Home again. Toto, we are not in Alabama anymore!
Rocky Mountain High!
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