Monday, December 28, 2009

The Comfort Run

The one you know like the back of your hand

The Comfort Run, like comfort food is a known quantity that serves the purpose intended. This run is the one you know well - you know every rise, every bend and every landmark. You run it at whatever pace you like. Comfort food fills you up and makes you feel good, a comfort run works you out and makes you feel good.

This I would guess gets to the point of the post, running can bring comfort - especially once you have a locale that you are familiar with. Lets look at three types of comfort running brings


Yes I know, running can physically strain your body, but exertion can become very comforting and does - as the muscles warm up, the heart rate stabilizes and the breathing hits a rhythm comfort begins when you adjust your stride and feel you can run forever. Settling into a run is always one of my favorite times


Reaching goals is a battle with the brain - I constantly hear my inner voice making excuses, learning to shut them up increases your mental focus. Self discipline is a powerful tool for those that harness it. With each goal you achieve reaching the next becomes easier. The comfort run builds confidence - knowing the run well allows you to exceed your normal self and use the run as a benchmark to try new techniques.


The comfort run excels at providing a forum for meditation whether you are contemplating God, nothingness, or your navel. you get to the rhythm and you can be "in the moment". Joseph Campell called this achievement "Bliss". Much like Church, I find myself in touch with my creator when I run and especially so when I am in a familiar place.

Whether you run for physical, mental or spiritual benefits or all three, you will benefit more than you imagine.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Running after Feasting

If this entry were a Star Wars sequel it would be entitled
"The Belly Strikes Back"

The day after Christmas and all through the trail
My gear was fitting so snuggly, the drawstrings might fail
Christmas feasting had settled, expanding my waist
suspending any thoughts of running with great haste
When after a mile on the trail i did find
my endurance was waning rather early in this grind
Nonplussed by exhaustion I kept up my pace
any faster than 12 minute miles and I might fall on my face!
Onward I plodded further along in the run
gasping for air and wishing I was done.

When up ahead at mile 4 I did see
my wife walking the dog - and going slowly
I caught up to her and walked for a while
until my heart settled down from it's post-Christmas trial
On again, on again, I was spurred to flee
the running ended with a mileage of 5.3

Seriously, any runners out there feeling a bit "overloaded"? Wow, I'm hoping my next runs are not as grueling. I did get a bunch of new running gear (Thanks to my daughter <3)>

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Be Careful What You Post In Your Blog

A Great Day to Run!

So last update I had finished my post wondering what's next, this run turned into what I was talking about. The temps on this Saturdayy morning were in the mid 40's, a light wind out of the north and a fine foggy mist enveloped the Auburn-Kent valley. Since I had already bumped my top speed by two tenths ( 5.9 to 6.1mph) I decided to turn it down a bit and just work on staying in target heart range of 140 to 145. I backed off speed when I got settled into the run - 5.5mph was the speed that my heart decided was good ~10% off my "race pace" and very comfortable.

As I headed out I noticed a knot in my left calf that stayed with me the entire run. but again, the pace was so comfortable I had no issue overlooking it. When I arrived at my normal halfway point my heart rate was still in the mid 140s and the pace just felt right.

Expanding Horizons

3/4s of the way back I thought "Lets make this a 10 miler" and continued on past 37th street heading to 15th NW. I passed under 15th and was eyeing my Garmin... 7 miles... I kept heading out and hit 7.5 and thought "It's only 1.5 miles to 9 and I can turn around and make it a half marathon" The knot in my calf was still there but I was feeling fatigue, I could feel that I was going to be sore when I made it back. and a new issue popped up, I could feel an expanding hole in my sock! The toe next to my big toe on my right foot felt the fabric pulled taught across it and no amount of wiggling would release the tension (arrg!) but I kept going until I made it to 15th St SW and had to turn around due to 15th being a huge road to cross :(

Coming up Short at 15th St SW

My garmin read 8.2 miles - well short of my 9 mile requirement to make the run thirteen miles in total. I pushed on wondering if I'd have the oomph to make up the distance after getting back to the truck. when I got back to the truck I was at 11.44 miles =( oh noes! push on Sam, with one toe hanging out and now both calves mooing for their mommas and my groin yelling at me too. I ran .8 miles out and turned around - I even tried to pick up the pace a bit, but that wasn't happening. I was wondering if my calculations were correct and hoping that when I got back to the truck Garmin would tick the lucky 13 - my math skills did not let me down I ticked 13 on the other side of the truck completing a half marathon!


As I cooled off walking in circles near my truck I noticed that my legs were not walking normally, my gate was kind of like a half-hearted lipizon stallion. After my heart rate settled down into the 120's a started stretching... and although it hurt it hurt SOOO good. I jumped into my truck gingerly and could tell that sitting for any length of time would cause my muscles to scream trying to get up. They did scream, I looked like Red Foxx's grandfather goosestepping heading up to the door of my house.

IIIIbuprofen - I Bu Pro fen
(Sung to the tune of the Haleluja Chorus)

Thank goodness for modern over the counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, 800 mgs of teh stuff every four hours... hopefullyy I will be able to move tomorrow!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

10K meters - what seemed like 10K people!

9:50am Saturday Morning December 12th 2009
Kent WA
Clear and 28 degrees
Kent Christmas Rush 10k

New lessons learned while running with a whole bunch of people I don't know

Lesson number 1


I was at the race with 15 minutes until start time, unfortunately I was driving around in my truck looking for a parking spot. EVERYONE in Kent WA must have been at this race. So I did what many folks did - made a parking spot, in the grass in front of a boarded up business (woohoo thank you recession!) I ended up running a half mile to the race course not knowing if I needed to check in or what.. apparently not, as the clock struck fifty seconds to the start of the race as I arrived (whew!) OK.. I need to pin on the bib, get my sunglasses on and get my earbuds in, get the tunes cranked up, and get my gloves on. the jeopardy theme song would have been very apropos here.

Lesson Number 2


In preparation for the race I tested out many tunes to help with pace management, I wanted to maintain as close to the magic "180" pace and keep it there. I found the perfect tune called "Buzz" by Four 80 East. unfortunately in my haste earlier this week at work I mistakenly put "Sonhar" by Praful which is about a 5% increase in tempo. I kept up with it, but Buzz would have been much more natural.

Lesson Number 3


Pass on the left! otherwise keep to the right! this is the Fat Albert Thesis "Hey hey hey, get outa my way!"

Lesson Number 4


a 10k is 6.24 miles. At the 2.25 mile mark I saw the person in first place on his way back. Wow, he was MOVING! Many folks around me cheered and applauded while they were running - for the majority the race is not about being first, it's about being there!

Lesson Number 5


Along the way, at the mile markers there were race workers calling out times, ut at about the 3 mile mark there was this lady clapping and smiling - Manheim Steamroller Christmas tunes blaring from speaker on her front porch. there was one group of race workers shortly afterwards that stood there and clapped and cheered and smiled. What a joy for those of us concentrating on breathing!

Lesson Number 6


When the pack breaks up after the start you realize that you are not running this race to be faster than others, you are trying to be faster than yourself. Setting that pace for a 6mph average I cut 5 minutes off my best 10K time - 8.3% faster - that's awesome and I may have been way back in the pack, but I'm chalking this up as a huge WIN.

Lesson Number 7


When I started getting physically active last June I had seen myself in a picture on my 25th wedding anniversary trip and hated what I saw. Further motivation came from an old friend that was always as skinny as a rail, but last I saw him shocked me with his rotundness - I saw myself and knew that if I allow myself to continue I am just waiting to die. I did not want to run, running is hard! I wanted to get in shape by hiking and walking. I bought my Garmin and started hiking a 2 mile trail, after a time this became easy, so I started doing the stairs multiple times. That became too easy as well, so I extended it the hike to 3.5 miles. After a couple of weeks of that I started running the first half mile of the hike. I started track running started to buy into my life changes and invested in myself - running shoes, running gear. The rain forced me off the dirt trail at Lake Fenwick and onto the asphalt of Interurban soon 5 miles became my daily run, then when I had some left on one of the runs I extended it to a 10K.

Lesson 8


Where am I going with this? What is the goal? Looking back over the last 6 months my abilities have changed so much that I am scared to say whats next - after finishing a 10k the next step is a half marathon. A HALF FRIKKING MARATHON . This is so foreign to me, this is too new and in a way scary. I'm not sure it may stop here, I may continue to extend my horizons but the change is definately entrenched, I feel differently about myself and my body. Although my weight loss has stalled at 220, I'm thinking that as long as it doesn't go up during the holidays it's a win for me! Notbeing sure about the future, I guess I'll just keep blogging and we can find out together.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Why are you doing this?

A most important question!

In ten days I run my first race, the Kent Christmas Rush. I was going through the timesheets from the previous year's race and found my current ability lacking - I wanted to be in the middle of the pack for my age group, but all the 45-49 year old entrants finished a good 5 minutes ahead of my current 10K pace.

Warning: positive self-talk ahead!

I felt crest-fallen, until I realized I've been running for only 3 months. The ability to FINISH a 10K should be the celebration. On reflection I must pose the same question McCoy posed to Spock in the movie Star Trek: "Are you out of your Vulcan mind?!!" I'm a former heavy smoker, I quit that and put on a lot of weight. I'm working that off now and have made changes in my life to become more healthy. I've ran over 5 miles repetitively in driving rain and wind, I've ran two solo 10K runs already. A quick tally of the Garmin shows that I've ran 97.87 miles and since I started this change I've logged 296.75 miles in total. I have nothing to feel badly about, I have everything to be thankful for. This race is a positive affirmation of the new me. I am changing myself. I can be more than I am if I work at it and keep my expectations realistically high.

OK, enough "yay me" posting, now lets move on to "yay spouse" posting! My wife started coming with me, she walks while I run. I am so happy for her, I know the power of exercise and change really do great things for people. On Thanksgiving she came with me and we did Interurban, then on Sunday after church, the Aviator and his wife met us at Interurban. Although she currently has a blister I am hoping the Mrs. will catch the bug and accompany me more!