Tuesday, February 15, 2011
All this running I've been doing, lately, has been giving me a lot of time to think. Well, maybe too much time to think. And when I'm running, what else do I think about but... running - as in almost 20 years ago, running. When I run I am constantly thinking about pacing and timing and then inevitably leads me to think about those days of yore in high school. A when I think about those days of track and cross country my mind invariably comes across thoughts of three things: 1) My biggest success, and 2) my biggest regret, and 3) my biggest failure.
Yes, there other things I think about, too, like how much more I enjoy running now, how old I am, how much less forgiving my body is now, how much more training I need to do, planning for my next race, how to motivate myself to run when I don't have a race to train for, and that time in high school track when I intentionally tripped over the curb on the inside of the track to get out my first 800 meter race and tried to make it look like an accident. Yes, I admit I did it on purpose because i was slow, scared and desperate. But, let's move on.
So, let me tell you about the Big Three.
My biggest success
JV Cross-Country League Finals - senior year. After four years of hanging on and slowly improving, I had finally learned a thing or two about commitment and training. I was one of the top two of our five JV runners, but still only good enough to be the seventh runner on the Varsity squad when we ran in the Conference Semi's. But in our league's JV division with a limited number of competitors from other schools, I was close to the top. That year we had changed our league format to include 3 league meets that included teams from all 6 schools in our league. In our second league meet, I was running in front with a teammate (he was setting the pace and I was trying to match him) for most of the race before falling back a bit and then coming on strong at the end of the race only to fall a few yards short. I had started my final kick too late and not only fell short, I was also passed by another runner (a sprinter/hurdler from a rival school who ran to build his endurance for track) and I ended up finishing third.
After that race, I knew how I could win our last league meet which was the official League Finals. I knew my teammate was better at pacing himself while I was up and down with a stronger kick to the finish. Also, running with another runner always caused me to fatigue mentally. So, I game-planned (probably the only race I ever game-planned for) to go out strong ahead of my teammate so that when I tired towards the middle-end, he would still be catching up to me. Then, if he did manage to catch me close to the finish, I could out-sprint him at the end.
My plan worked beyond my wildest dreams. My teammate had been sick a week or two before the race, which helped, but I still ran my best race of the year-to-date. The race went all according to plan and then some. I shot out ahead of everyone (but still at a manageable pace) and then the adrenaline of running out in front kicked in. I had never felt that before - it was a totally new feeling. I did not want look bad by starting out ahead and then getting caught from behind. I was bound and determined not to get caught and kept willing myself to keep up the pace.
With only a half-mile to go, the sprinter/hurdler was coming up behind me, but I didn't know how close. All I knew was that suddenly the course was lined with his teammates and they were all cheering him on and yelling that he was catching me and that he could catch me. I couldn't help but remember our last race where he did catch me and I did not want that to happen again. I didn't dare look back and instead I pushed myself to run faster. Once I passed over the small hill at the end of the course and headed downhill on the last 200 meters towards the finish, I knew he wasn't going to catch me. I could barely feel my legs as I sprinted that last downhill as fast as I could without falling over myself. As I crossed the finish, I hurdled the finish line and then walked towards the finishing chute and turned to watch the second place sprinter/hurdler finish 20 seconds behind me. I was ecstatic and overjoyed because I had won my first race, ever! My plan worked and I had won! Me! Finally!
As it turns out, that would be the pinnacle of my running career. In my next posts I will tell you about those two other things I think about on my runs: my biggest regret and my biggest failure.
To be continued...
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Friday, February 11, 2011
This week I have been "cold running" which means two things: 1) it's been cold outside at 5am, and 2) I have a cold! This is one of the things that always seem to plague me. I take a break from running, and then a week or two after I start back up, again, I get a cold.
Usually, my response to getting sick has always been to stop exercising to let my body rest so I can fight off my cold faster. From what I can tell, I don't think it ever did much except stop me from running because two weeks later I am back out of the habit and back out of shape.
So, after getting back into my running schedule for about two weeks, Sunday night of this week I realized that I was developing a sore throat. Here we go again! However, I recently had read that running while only mildly sick may actually improve the body's immune response and help get you well quick. It was definitely worth a short!
I don't run on Mondays, but Tuesday was cold and really windy. I decided it was probably better not to expose my sore throat to the wind, so sleep in. Wednesday and Thursday, however, I decided to buck my usual trend and went ahead and ran, anyway, since it wasn't as windy, even though it was still cold.
I am happy to say that my cold has been really mild and I feel like I could be over it any day, now. I don't know if the running made the difference, but I am happy, none-the-less, because I am feeling mostly better and even better, I am still on track with my training schedule!
Thursday, February 03, 2011
So, when fall hit Las Vegas the weather cooled down into the 60's and 50's. I asked my wife to pick up some $2 knit gloves at Target and they worked wonderfully right through my half marathon in December when the coldest temperatures I ran in were the upper 30's/low 40's (was 42 at the start of the half marathon). My fingers got pretty cold on a few mornings when the temperatures were the coldest. It was never too bad, but one a few occasions I did wish for warmer gloves.
So, I added some more expensive gloves (it's not hard to get more expensive than $2 a pair) to my Christmas list and Santa pulled thru with a pair of Under Armor "Coldgear" gloves that are described as "On their own, ColdGear liner gloves make an excellent low-bulk option for joggers embarking on frosty morning runs". ( www.rei.com/product/754475 )
They work fine when it's 40+ degrees, but when it is actually frosty (30 degrees) my fingers still get cold. I used them this morning at 5am when it was 25 degrees AND wore a pair of my $2 Target knit gloves over top of them and my fingers ached and hurt for most of my run, even when I pulled my sleeves over them (two layers of sleeves, as a matter of fact). In fact, as I write this, my thumbs still have a dull ache even though it's 12 hours later and I'm working in a 73 degree climate-controlled office while wearing my knit gloves for the first half of the day.
So, do you - one of the three people that read my blog - have any suggestions for some actual GOOD cold weather running gloves that keep my hands AND fingers warm (but won't make them roast) when the thermometer hits the upper 20's/low 30's? We have some skiing and snowboarding gloves, but I can't imagine running in those gigantor gloves. Yes, it does get that cold here, every winter. No, it won't be as cold, next week - and after it warms up in the Spring I won't need them until at least November - but it does get that cold here during the winter every year - and I can always use them next year.
Of course, my wife will string me up in unpleasant ways if I buy any more athletic gear... but I'm asking anyway. You know... for next year.
Wednesday, February 02, 2011
My name is Evan and I'm an exercise clothing addict.
In the past I would just exercise in old t-shirts and cloth shorts. Along the way, I picked up a couple exercise shirts and the more I exercised the more I loved those shirts. However, somewhere between then and now I became addicted to buying exercise clothing.
My wife is almost powerless to stop me from buying more exercise gear. I L-O-V-E jackets and sweatshirts. I have plenty of running shirts and shorts that I used during the summer and fall, but few realize that winter in the desert can be quite cold. I've always been very warm-blooded and I sweat quite profusely, so I worried about wearing too many clothes when I went running, even when it was cold. However, it seems that I've lost a lot of fat in the last couple years and am not so warm-blooded after all.
A few months ago, my wife accidentally bought me a long-sleeve compression shirt when I asked her to look out for some long-sleeve running shirts. I loved it so much that I bought a second one. Then I bought a cool running jacket that lasted me for a couple months. I wanted to replace my cotton sweatbands and ended up with not one, not two, but four BondiBands. But, the cold weather seems to have gotten colder (or I've lost some more fat) and I've been running with beanies and knit gloves (and a cool pair of running gloves I got for Christmas), and yet I still come home with a chill. I searched quite a while for some reasonably-priced arm sleeves to keep my arms warm and when I found them at the Las Vegas RNR Marathon Expo, I bought TWO pairs. Recently I bought two long-sleeve shirts and another running jacket that has thumb holes in the sleeves (awesome!) and then had to go back to buy an awesome Nike short-sleeve shirt that I didn't really even need (but was oh so cool and fit me perfectly).
My wife has complained that I am buying gear I don't know, but I know I need most of the gear I've been been buying to keep me warm and looking athletic and not like a burglar when I'm out running at 5 in the morning. Today, however, I realized I had a problem when I received my Zensah "Fresh Legs" shin/calf sleeves (to keep my legs warmer so i can still wear my shorts when it's in 20's and 30's) in the mail and was hiding them from my wife so she wouldn't think I was buying more exercise clothes that I didn't really need.
I know I have a problem, but I've done some strength training in the gym and toned up a bit, and I've lost some weight and most of my belly from running; and when I played in a softball tournament a little over a year ago and the only jersey they had left was a medium and it fit just a bit tight - but a good tight - I've been unable to stop myself from buying newer and cooler (and warmer!) clothing and gear.
So, I've taken the first step and admitted I have a problem. I know I have enough exercise gear to last me through the rest of winter and the spring (and probably also the summer), so I shouldn't need to buy anything else until late fall at the earliest. Though, I will probably need a new pair of running shoes, soon. And there was this awesome Adidas running jacket on clearance at Khol's, and....
This blog also available at: thisoldsole.blogspot.com/2011/02/add
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
It has now been almost two months since I ran the LV RNR Half Marathon. I took the opportunity after the race and over the holidays to take some much needed time off to rest and recover, but that means I have now reached the most difficult stage of running. The post-race motivation hangover. From July right up until the race I was pumped keep up my training and to push towards my goal I was excited to achieve, regardless of the weather or my work schedule or any other circumstances. However, once the goal was achieved, all that motivation evaporated and then so did all my momentum.
I knew this could be a problem, but I had what I thought were great ideas for keeping myself motivated. I would train for a triathlon or maybe a marathon, or maybe I would do a lot of speed-work and work on my mile, 2-mile, and 5k times. They were all great ideas, however, without another set goal in front of me, the energy to implement those ideas has been severely lacking.
My SIL has found great motivation to keep running by training to run a 5k every month this year. I found a great local 5k in February and thought that would be perfect to get me running again this month, but I won't be able to run in it as I found I had already scheduled other plans with friends for that weekend. March is the Hoover Dam Half Marathon & 5k that I ran with my SIL last year, but this year is my wife's turn to run in it (if she can recover sufficiently from being run over by an employee inside of Smith's Grocery store) and my turn to hold the baby, take pictures, and play coach & cheerleader.
Two weeks ago I found out that there will be a half marathon in Summerlin in April. It looks almost perfect. I am in almost a perfect position to begin training for it as I haven't completely lost my training from December and I have been running 3-4 miles, two to three days a week for the past few weeks. I could easily be back to running 5 or 6 miles for my long-distance run this weekend and I would have two full months to work back up to running 13.
On the not-so-perfect side, are a few, let's call them "issues." First, the course will not be flat. Summerlin is neatly placed on the slopes of a giant ancient alluvial fan which means that unless we neatly traverse it along a counter, it will not be a flat race. That's not that big of a deal as I can run without the expectation of setting a PR and just enjoy myself. Second, training means I will have to start waking up at 4:45am, again. Lately I have found it difficult to wake up any time before 10:00am 5:30am. Third, the SIL may or may not be able to run in this one, so I may have to go it alone. I must say that training to run a race by myself just isn't as exciting and there's no energy to feed off of from someone else working towards the same goal. Lastly, it was hot or warm for most of my training last year and I loved it when the weather finally turned cold; however, now, despite buying some awesome cold weather gear, I continue to look at the thermometer each morning and cringe if it's below 50 (which it is every morning), and often go back to bed if it's below 40 (and it's been in the 30's almost every morning).
I did manage to get up and run 3 miles yesterday (it was 44) and today (it was 48). This warm-ish weather is supposed to hang on for a few more days. Maybe it will stick around long enough for me to get back into training mode? I want to run as if I am training to run in the Summerlin half marathon, and then see how it goes before I sign up for it. But, really, I should just commit myself, now, and then do it. I know I need to make up my mind because the the longer I wait, the harder it will be to motivate myself and the more likely it will be that I will end up not running the race. If only i had the proper motivation. Aaah!! I used to be indecisive, but now i'm not sure...
update: The weather service says the lows will be back to the mid-30's by this weekend. At least I can run during the day on the weekends...
This blog also available at: thisoldsole.blogspot.com/2011/01/war
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