A tale of two runs

Five miles to run isn’t far.  I remember when my long run day was 6 miles and I was so exhausted afterwards I walked into the wrong house.  That was embarrassing.

On the other hand, sometimes a five mile run is an eternity.

One day last year I was running 5 miles and it wasn’t going well.  It was hot, I was tired from a long week and hurting physically.  I tried to keep with the run to master my body and make it my slave, but in the end, I stopped and walked home.  I made it 3 miles and couldn’t take another step.  Oh, and did I mention that this was 2 weeks before my first marathon?  My thoughts went to, “I’m running a marathon in a couple of weeks and I just stopped a 5 mile run 2 miles early”.  To say I was a bit worried is an understatement.

Two weeks later I ran that marathon.  I completed 26.2 miles in 4 hours and 15 minutes.

I learned from that run.  In fact out of all my training runs for that marathon, that 3 mile failure sticks out the most.  I can even see in my mind where I stopped and claimed defeat – or was it defeat?

Yesterday I mimicked that run.  It was a 5 mile run and I wasn’t doing well.  It was hot and I wasn’t feeling well (sore, tired, etc).  I stopped a time or two to make sure that I wasn’t overdoing things and also I wanted to make it through my run at whatever the cost.

NOT

I stopped.  I stopped at 2.46 miles.  Not even an even number.  I just couldn’t run any more.

I could have pushed myself.  I have pushed myself in the past and have been pleased that I persevered.  This time was different.  I knew that if I continued, I could hurt myself.  I can’t explain why I knew this time was different.  I guess over my years of running I have developed a sense.  But just as when I had the 3 mile run while training for a marathon, I stopped and walked home.

Ultimately I count these runs as success.  Everyday before I run, my Lovely wife tells me to run fast, have a good run and be wise.  I think I was wise back a year ago and wise yesterday.  Success in running isn’t always pushing harder and making the goal.  Success in running (and life) is knowing when keep going or when to stop.  Stopping isn’t failure, getting hurt if failure.  Pushing through or stopping early, we just need wisdom to know how to proceed.

Today is another day.  It is going to be hot again, but Saturday will be sunny and in the 60’s as a high.  Wow – Fall weather is coming and I can’t wait.

Until next time…

Tom

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Season of Change

My blog, 278toBoston.com is named for a reason that most of you understand.  To be honest, it has really helped keep me in line and give me motivation over the past year or two.

I struggle in two main areas.

  1. Weight
  2. Goals

When I weighted 278 lbs, I never thought I could lose that weight.  I honestly thought I’d die of some heart related disease and everyone who got on to me about my weight would say, “See I told you so.”   I had a hard time with long term goals.  Losing 100 lbs wasn’t possible.  Running a marathon as my dad had, wasn’t possible.  Living a normal healthy life after 50 wasn’t possible.  After all, not only was I obese, but I had hip and leg problems.  In fact my legs and ankles were beginning to swell and just walking up the steps was a difficult task.

One day, on an 11 hour drive home from visiting Chicago (the “fat” pic on the side of this blog was taken that weekend), I had to drive the whole way home and couldn’t stay awake.  I almost couldn’t make it home.  I had to stop twice to sleep.  Ends up I had severe apnea.  At my sleep study I was told that I stopped breathing 110 times in an hour.

Things were not going well.

Seasons of change come and go.  I’ve learned over the years that when a season of change (a good change) comes, I need to take it and run with it or it will pass me by.  In a season of change, I went to a Dr. appointment with my Lovely Wife and that doctor helped me.  I lost weight, I began running, I lost more weight, I began racing, and finally ran a marathon last September.

To be honest, I still struggle with weight and goals.  My weight is consistent, but is about 10 – 15 lbs over where I should be.  My goal (in my blog name) of making it to Boston one day seems but a dream.  It can get so overwhelming.

Sometimes you need a sign.

As I was running a few weeks ago, I was in a new neighborhood and ran past a house with a teen boy kicking a soccer ball.  As I ran past, he waved and said hi and I returned the greeting.  I thought, “How nice! Most kids look down and ignore me as I run, but he said hi and smiled”.

A few days later I was running by the same house.  That boy has not been out since, but as I ran by I noticed his mailbox.

A sign?  I hope.  Maybe I can do this.  I just need to go with the season of change and believe:

Do I believe?

Do I believe?

Retro Run 5K – Finishing the race!

I was so close.

I was only a step behind the couple that was running in front of me the whole race.

There was only 1/2 mile left in my 5K.  I know my time wasn’t going to be a PR, but I felt like I was running solid.  Actually I was quite happy as I hadn’t done any workouts or mountain runs in a while.  Just my 4 mile daily runs.

I had a thought.  I could push past them (that couple), but then I thought, “what if I run out of steam and they pass me – that wouldn’t be fun”.  We were running at a good pace and so I decided to hold back until later, right before the finish.

It was hot.  The race started at 7:00 PM in the South on a sunny July day.  My app read 94 degrees at the start.

As I pondered my finish to the first 5K I had run in 7 months, I thought back to the beginning of the race.  I was only about a half mile into the race and I had doubts.  I thought to myself that I couldn’t do this racing anymore.  I should just stick to my daily runs and be done.  What am I doing running a 5K when I hadn’t even run my mountain in over a month.  Nope.  Racing is not for me.  This will be my last.

As I got closer to the couple (back to the end of the race) – literally almost beside them – I thought to myself, “I’m enjoying this race.  It’s been hard and all, but I miss racing.”

The couple ahead of me were a woman and a man.  Both about half my age.  The woman was obviously in great shape and the guy was not.  He wasn’t overweight, but he was hurting.  This was probably his first 5K.  As we got closer to the finish, suddenly he stopped.  The woman looked around and begged him to keep going.  We were about 1/4 mile from the finish.  He had nothing left.  I moved on, but felt badly for the guy.  He had run a good race, but didn’t have enough in him with the heat.

As I rounded the last block, I passed another guy who was half my age.  He looked at me and told me to go for it.  That was so nice.  I said the same to him and he thanked me.

I pushed to the finish.  The line was directly in front of me.  My mountain legs had kicked in.  The last mile of this 5K was uphill most of the way.  Running a mountain once a week has allowed my legs to have strength to go uphill.  In fact, many times my pace goes up while going uphill.

This was the first finish of a 5K where I had strength to really push it at the end.  I gave all I had.  My Lovely Wife and daughter rooting me onward, I passed the finish in 22:32; 45 seconds slower then a PR, but very satisfying.  Before the race, TJ asked me how confident I felt.  I told him I had no confidence.  I was just going to go out and do the best I could.

I came in 2nd in my age group (the old guy age group).  I was thrilled as I had never placed in this race before and this was the 3rd time we ran it.  There were over 400 people and I came in 41st overall.

I don’t know what happened with that couple.  I never saw them after the guy stopped.  I was so hot and tired at the end, I really couldn’t think much.  I hope he pulled it together and finished the race.

Life is like a 5K.  So many times we either don’t want to be in the race or we want to stop right before the finish.  Ultimately the joy of the finish erases all the pain of the race.  My hope is that everyone could run as to finish the race.  Life is too short to give up in the middle.

I’m not sure why I wrote that last paragraph, but I hope it helps someone.

Have an awesome week and keep your eyes on the finish!

Summer running update!

I haven’t posted in a while, and yes, I feel guilty about that.

Basically it has become hard to post for a couple of very good reasons:

  1. I run 4 miles a day and 7 miles on Sunday with Saturday off.  Not much variation happening with this routine.
  2. It is hot and so my runs are rather slow and exhausting.  I usually have to stop after 2 miles and once or twice on the last 2 mile stretch.  I don’t stop long, just enough to be able to catch my breath and walk for a few seconds in the shade.  All in all though, I’m not breaking any records out there.  In fact, I don’t even take my Pebble watch with me because I don’t want to feel I have to run hard in the heat of the Southern summer.
  3. I have few races ahead.  I am going to run a 5K with TJ (and maybe RS) in a couple weeks, but nothing major for which to train.

So here I am.  Mindlessly running 4 miles a day at 3:00 in the afternoon.  My knee is better and I haven’t had to stop a run again since I walked down the mountain, so that is good.  And I took off the weekend of the 4th to head to Chattanooga with my Lovely Wife.  I left my running shoes at home so I could take a break.  Wouldn’t you know that it was some of the best weather we’ve had all summer.  Cool mornings and low humidity.  Pretty much I have figured out that if I want it to cool down outside all I have to do is not run and… BAM – it gets beautiful out.  I started running again on Monday and, yes, it was hot and humid.

So all in all life is as monotonous as a slow 4 mile run in the heat.  Work is very busy and home is just about as busy with things breaking (like our central air).

I can’t complain though.  Other then my knee issue, I haven’t really been hurt much lately.  In fact the last time I took a week off of running was several months ago.

Finally, I honestly haven’t had time to read too many blogs lately (another guilt trip for me).  I think that adds to my monotony.  I get motivated by reading other blogs and by skipping them, it just isn’t the same.  Hopefully life will slow down a bit and get back to normal.

Have an awesome weekend and enjoy life.

Tom

The Runner’s Paradox

It was a long weekend trying to rest so that my back would feel better.

I tried, but didn’t succeed.

No, I didn’t run.  That would have been a mistake and I’ve made that mistake in the past.

Unfortunately my Lovely Wife, who has had a bad back for 3 years with 2 ruptured disks, woke up Saturday morning with what seemed to be a pinched nerve in her back.  She was a trooper and went out with me to do errands all weekend.  My only issue was helping her in and out of the car, which was not easy with my own messed up back.  She was better by last night, so hopefully she is on the mend – as much as one can be on the mend with 2 ruptured disks.

Then there was the toilet that broke.  I had to try to replace the insides of this toilet that I “fixed” 3 weeks ago.  That was an hour of leaning over a toilet and without a hangover to enjoy (just kidding).

Finally, between Church Sunday morning (Catholics do a lot of kneeling) and fixing TJ’s broken deadbolt, I don’t think I am in much better shape then when the weekend began.

On a good note, I slept well and am still below 185 lbs, which after pizza on Friday night and burgers last night, I’m thrilled.

Back to running (pun intended), I may try some easy miles this afternoon.  I’ll have to see  how I feel when I get home.  I am in the runners paradox.  Do I try to run to keep in the best shape of my life, or do I keep resting even though it hasn’t done much for me?  To be honest, while I am running I don’t feel any pain.  It seems to come on me after walking all day (I average 2 – 3 miles walking a day at work).  I tend to walk fast in order to get a lot done, but today I am going to slow it way down and see if that helps.

I miss running!

Tom

A pain in the back

After all my work not to get injured post half marathon… you guessed it… my aching back.

I’m not sure what the problem is, but I was in so much pain last night, it was hard to sleep.  Strangely, while I run the pain goes away and then by the next day it seems to get worse.

So, I am taking more time off to recuperate, per my Lovely Wife’s advice and see if I can’t nip it in the bud.  Yesterday was the first “normal” weekday in forever that I didn’t run or walk.  I’m not to happy about it, but I really don’t want to make things worse.

On the bright side, my weight is lower then it has been in 10 months.  ACV is the only thing I can attribute it to.  In fact I eat poorly last weekend, so by Monday I weighed 189 lbs.  Today I weighed below 185.

Now if I can just stop getting hurt after my races, I’ll be fine!!!

Mother’s Day consequences

I got up today and could barely walk…

“Hmmm,” I thought to myself, “what did I do?”

I ran my mountain on Saturday.  That was a good run, but much easier then last week.  I purposely tried not to run hard or fast as I am still feeling the pains from my half marathon and don’t want to get hurt.  I also ran the short route, so it was 6.5 miles rather then 8.

“No, that was long enough ago that I shouldn’t be this sore.  It must be something else.”

I didn’t run Sunday or Friday.  Once again, I am trying to err on the side of caution and not get hurt.  I know, I should be recovered by now and I might be okay, but I still have left over hip issues and I’d rather run some and slower then a lot and get hurt.

“So if it wasn’t related to running then why am I so sore?”

This was my conversation with myself this morning. Then I figured it out.  My soreness had nothing to do with running.  It was cleaning.  Yes, for Mother’s Day I cleaned out a storage room for my Lovely Wife yesterday morning (thus the reason I couldn’t run – I didn’t have time).  All that bending and sitting and moving worked areas of my body that are not used to being worked.

Goodness, if you can run a half marathon in 1:43, you shouldn’t be down and out from cleaning.

I guess I’m not in the shape I thought I was in or maybe I shouldn’t clean anymore. 🙂

JK. Happy Mother’s Day LW!