Thursday, August 23, 2012

Rest Day Reflections....

or how I came to grips with my limitations.........

This has been a bad summer for blogging......well, at least for me.  I've been reading everyone else's, making comments right and left, but not doing any writing of my own.  It's not that I've got nothing to say....quite the contrary, yet something prevented me from posting regular updates. 

Well, that's probably all about to change.  You see, I'm a teacher, and I've been enjoying the HECK out of my summer vacation.  I've been running a lot, relaxing a lot, enjoying my family a lot, and doing a whole lot of nothing a lot.

That all changes on Monday.


I've been stressing out lately and procrastinating like mad on all the prep work needed to be ready for the coming year, but over the past week, I've been pretty productive.  It's running and my working styles are VERY similar.  I liken myself to a diesel takes me a while to get started, but once I'm started, I can run forever.  Might not be the fastest engine around (we'll get to that again in a moment!), but I'm steady and reliable.  It took me a long time to start on my schoolwork, but my "motor" is running now.  This is going to be an interesting and challenging year (they're all interesting and challenging....just some more than others) as I'm taking on a new curriculum for the first time in my career.  For the past 7 years, I've been teaching 8th grade US History only, but this year, I'm now on a "split" team, so I'm going to be teaching 2 sections of 7th grade World Geography and 3 sections of 8th grade US History.  To make things even more "interesting", my team of the past 7 years has been split up, so now I'm teamed with new colleagues.  It's all good.....I like challenges.......if I didn't, I wouldn't be a runner OR a teacher!  Anyway, I still have a few days to get the last few things together for the first few weeks, and I don't meet my new students until Wednesday, but the anxiety level is pretty high here at Fine Manor.  Barb is also getting ready for her new students, and she's been an invaluable source of moral support as I've slowly started my process.  It's so wonderful to have another teacher nearby to bounce ideas off of......I only wish I felt I helped her as much as she helps me.......

But back to my limitations.........

As a runner, I keep wanting to get faster.  At the same time, I want to avoid injury.  As I'm now training for my 3rd marathon (and 2nd this year), all I'm trying to do is be smart and put myself in a position to be happy with my results at the end of the day.  This year, I've stayed healthy and uninjured, allowing me to be more consistent with my training than ever before.  My mileage is way beyond any previous year and I feel like I'm recovering better than ever.  Yet there's that nagging question......why am I not getting faster?   I've been avoiding speedwork, for fear of injury....could that be it?  I'm not doing intervals.......haven't been doing core-strengthening clearly, I haven't been trying to get faster.   Yet I somehow keep imagining it will just magically happen?  What am I.......crazy?

Or maybe I really DON'T want to get faster.......maybe I'm just not willing to admit that I'm never going to be in the top quartile of my ridiculously competitive age group.  That as someone who took up running only 4 years ago after a lifetime of obesity and complacency, I've very proud of having run dozens of 5k's, 10k's, several half-marathons, 2 overnight relays, and 2 marathons.  That I'm actually PERFECTLY OK with being a middle-of-the-pack (on a good day!) to back-of-the-pack finisher.  That it's about accepting who you are and what you can do, rather than wishing to be someone else and lamenting what you cannot do.  The wanting to be faster is symptomatic of my desire to see constant improvement in everything I do.....and what better way to gauge improvement than with the numbers on my Garmin.

Actually, there's another way I can gauge my improvement as a runner.  How about in that as I accept my limitations, I actually become a smarter runner!  When I was training for Boston, I had hopes for a "good" time, but the conditions that day forced a different plan.  I ran a good 45 minutes "slower" than I was capable of running, and I finished on a day when many didn't.   Even now, more than 4 months later, as I sit here at my desk, I glance to my right and the shadow box holding my 2012 Boston Marathon medal and bib are in plain sight.....reminding me of my ability to persevere and overcome my limitations to do something truly remarkable.  The picture I chose to display with it is not the finish line picture, but rather a shot taken from the side as I was heading down Boylston Street....the finish line in jaw set in determination.  What doesn't really show are the tears that were streaming down my cheeks, as my dream was coming true.  That was a day where I learned that victory isn't determined by the clock, but rather by what you feel inside.

So I'm slow......


I'm a freakin' 50-year-old DIESEL.....I'm UNSTOPPABLE!!!  

So what's on tap now, you ask?  Long run of 18 miles this Sunday....then 13 next Sunday, followed by 20 the next.....then running the Surftown Half Marathon (, then another 20 on 9/23 before beginning the taper for Hartford.  I'm looking forward to the next few weeks of training, and then going for it in my 3rd marathon.  And because I'm feeling so good, I'm trying to figure out what marathon I'd like to try next Spring......thinking Vermont City is a distinct possibility.

So here's to my accepting my limitations.....and making the most of what I've got!  


Sunday, August 5, 2012


So I was supposed to run the YuKanRun.Com Cape Ann Half Marathon this morning......and if you look at the Daily Mile thingie off to the right, you can see that I ran 8 and change this morning....and not 13.1

Naturally, there's a story.......and in spite of the title for this entry, I think it's got a happy ending.

As I'm in training for the ING Hartford Marathon, these "races" are really more like training runs...a different way to do the weekly long run.  So my mindset isn't to "race" them, but rather to use them as guideposts along the way through my training schedule.  Still, there's naturally something that happens when you pin a bib onto your chest.  When I ran my last half (down in Rhode Island), I had every intention of trying to shoot for a PR, but ended up posting my slowest half marathon time ever.  Chalked it up as a learning experience and a good training run.  As I was getting ready for this half, I was having no such illusions......I was looking forward to a good run and a fun day running by the ocean.

And then I overslept......

As this race was starting in Rockport (roughly 90 minutes from here), to make the 9:15 start time with room to spare, I wanted to leave around 7AM.  Knowing myself like I do, I need PLENTY of lead time to get out of the house in the morning, so I set my alarm for 5:30 (just like a school day!)......or so I thought.

When I rolled over and looked at the clock, it taunted me......6:45AM

Really, Bill.........Really?   The alarm never rang, and now I had roughly 15 minutes to get some coffee in my system, hit the head, eat some oatmeal, get into my race gear, and get out the door and hit the road.

Not bloody likely......particularly after I sat down to watch some of the Olympic Women's Marathon while having the aforementioned coffee and oatmeal.  Now that I was suitably motivated, I headed out on my futile mission........time:  7:30AM

So I was going to get there at 9AM......for a 9:15 start.......oh yeah, I forgot to mention that after 7:45AM, you had to park a mile away and take a shuttle to the start area.

And this guy always likes to get to races well ahead of time........

I got about 15 minutes out and I realized that there was really no reason to keep going......I wasn't going to get there on time and even if it was a chip-timed race, I'd still be starting after everyone else.......NO THANKS!  I called my wife, and let her know that I was coming back home.

This isn't the first time I haven't run a race I paid for, and it probably won't be the last, but it's the first time it's happened that wasn't due to sickness or injury.  This time, it was due to apathy.....

So after coming back and watching the conclusion of the women's marathon, I headed out to get my run in.......bound and determined to run at least 13.1 miles.  The only 9:30, it was already 80 degrees and humid, with the temps bound to go higher.  I had been pre-hydrating in advance of the half-marathon I didn't run, so I thought I'd be good to go in spite of the heat.  I brought my handheld bottle filled with Gatorade, and set off with great intentions.  Very quickly, I knew it was going to be a difficult run.  Not sure if it was so much physical as it was mental.......after not making it to the start of the half, I think I was just out of it as soon as the run got hard (and the route I was on starts with a gentle, but relentless .7 mile hill), I was already giving up.   The heat/humidity made it that much more difficult, and I was quickly drenched.  After about 5 miles, I began to realize that 13.1 miles under these conditions was going to be beyond my capabilities........and when I reached my driveway after 8.14 miles, I was pretty much every way possible.  It was 85 degrees, but according to the Weather Channel app on my phone, it felt like 89.....

So where's the happy ending?

I learned that there are worse things than missing a race......that life goes on, and that there will be other races on other days.  I've got another half coming up in September, and I'm pretty sure I won't be missing that one, but if I were to miss it, big deal!

Even though I failed to run the half marathon I was "supposed" to run today, it's not an unrecoverable error.......I'll get out tomorrow morning, and even though I'm not scheduled to run, I'm going to get the remaining 5 miles I was supposed to run today, and all will be right with the world.

See you all out there on the road!