Anthem for Running

a 'lil bit of this - a 'lil bit of that
'lil bit of everything - get cha right on track
it's not how you look. it's what you feel inside
i don't care when - i don't need to know why

ya; it sures feels good to be alive
someday i'll be 18 going on 55! - 18 'til I die.
ya, there's one thing for sure - i'm sure gonna try.

- Bryan A.

'til I die. Death has several aspects. When it is not you it can be a time for reflection, for celebration of the life just lost; a collection of memories shared and savored in poignant and sometimes humorous eulogies. We come together to share a common bond of our own mortality. We indulge a funereal period and go on about our lives. On the other hand, when it is you, death is wholly personal and frustrating. You cannot stop it. It is an experience you cannot share. It is the loneliest of times. There is no one to tell how it was to pass from one place to the other. You hope your remains are reverently stored in a box – perhaps with your name on it – and the survivors speak well of you before they move on. My curiosity turns to reincarnation and a return to innocence.

Alive. On the brighter side I had my annual physical today and all the vital signs say I am as healthy as a race horse. My out of control cholesterol is even back to normal levels despite the fact I quit taking meds six months ago. Fish oil, garlic and policosinal became my alternative treatment. That and a whole lot of running brought me back from the darker side. After the musings above I need to stay out of the dark. It's scary in there.


Water Runner

I have just realized my three most recent runs of distinction all involved four different bodies of water. Two weekends ago I ran barefoot on the beach with my son C. The water and beach were courtesy of the U.S. Government and the Atlantic Ocean. Last weekend I ran the sand packed roads of Windermere in the Run Among the Lakes 5K. It wound around the shores of three spring fed Florida lakes and I retired to a convention/resort hotel pool afterwards to have coffee and sunbathe. Today I pulled out my handy Running In Florida book that details popular running sites everywhere in the state and headed out to run the trail along the Little Econlockhatchee River.
It was about 9 miles from the house and the book suggested that I'd want to run the whole length of the trail (4.1 miles) and back simply because of its tranquil beauty. I pulled in to the parking lot and after a stretch as long as it takes to play U2's It's A Beautiful Day I was off and running - in the wrong direction. The river was right there for awhile and then I was turning away and circling a YMCA. Okay; maybe that's part of it. Then I was running the trail along the backside of a high school. Finally I was on the backside of a neighborhood and out of asphalt at a main road. Hmmmn. I turned around and went back wondering where the river went. By the time I returned to the car I'd gone 40 minutes and decided to go for 20 more. Now I have to go back again and see what I missed. I love the anticipation.
So when all was said and done I sat down and did my cross country team trained stretches and pondered the rest of the day. It was 920 and I was already 10% of the way towards the beach so ... why not go the rest of the way? Did I have lotion? beach sheet? money? No. Yes. Yes. Good enough. I stopped for some sunscreen and a paper, hit the beach and listened to the ocean rythmically lap the shore. It was a welcome respite from the week's anxieties.
Sadly, when I came home there was more shenanigans to deal with. Two administrators were busted for soliciting sex last night at midnight; and three high school teens were in a one car accident at 245am, killing the driver. Nothing good ever happens after midnight away from home. Remember that.
I hope you're home and going to bed so you can get up and run for fun tomorrow.


Worst Week #2

Next to Hurricane Frances week back around Labor Day, this was the biggest week from hell ever. How about a school bus monitor on an exceptional ed route getting arrested by deputies for sexual assault on a 13 year old, on the bus? The dufus completely ignored the fact that the bus had a video camera to record his disgusting tricks. Damage management with the media became the order of the week. Then today an athletics trainer at a high school was discovered to have had "improper" relations with an athlete on a road trip. The student couldn't keep it to himself (so what teenage boy could??) and word spread like wildfire. Here we go again.
So did I run this week? Once. It was a fine 4-miler at tempo pace. What I don't have right now is a goal race. I want to do some speed work but have nothing to shoot for. Monthly mileage is my only driving force and April is well on pace.
Thank goodness it's the weekend. I will cruise on out and run some this weekend ... long and hard. See you out there!


Racing Among the Lakes

I awakened at 545 and dressed for the race thinking about pool attire afterwards. I had oatmeal and juice at 615. I grabbed some of the newspaper to take with me for the pool. At 700 I left to drive out to Windermere where all the roads are sand and life is much more contemplative and pastoral. Guides directed me to a church where I parked. It was quite breezy and, hence, quite chilly with the mid 50s temps. I put on over-shorts and a windbreaker and sauntered – still half asleep - over to the race start area, stepping carefully across some un-laid brick road pavers on Main Street. Egad! They’re doing some paving. A trumpet player was popping out mellow morning music to get everyone in the mood. I found the table and picked up my race packet.
There were about 20 minutes until the start. I rewound my way back to the car and stripped off my jacket, over-shorts and shirt. Standing there in sneakers and navy race shorts I was thinking how glad I was that the sun was coming up. It was brisk. I slipped on my sleeveless red dri-fit shirt, pinned the number to my shorts and took off in the wake of a fastie I know who was doing some warm ups. I followed him a half mile north of town and when he turned back so did I. I sensed my legs were feeling strong from having skipped 4 days in an excessive taper for the race. Sadly (for you racers out there who know) I substituted drinking, carousing and web googling for rest and mental preparedness. For the time being I overlooked those known deficiencies and dwelled on positive thoughts – like going to the pool after the race.
I was 100 yards and 8 minutes away from the start. I jogged to a walk at the back of the chute pack and went forward to see who and where the front was. The usual shirtless hard bodies with low numbers were up there. I took about a half dozen steps back into the field. After the last race I was determined not to be caught behind any slow runners or walkers.
A county commissioner sidled up to me with about 2 minutes before the start. He asked how life at the school board was going. I told him all was well and quickly turned the conversation to his business since I knew him to be a harsh opponent of school impact fees which had recently been passed over his objection. I didn’t need to hear that again; so we chatted about his military status and my son’s. Oh good. There’s the horn.
I had a fair amount of room to get started. The course was set to meander around and through the back roads of Windermere, along the shore line of three lakes that are within the small area of downtown and back to the town hall start area. All the roads were sandy and some were loosely packed, reminding me of running barefoot on the beach last weekend. I felt strong my first mile as I passed a number of folks without any trouble but was dismayed to see 8:19 on my watch. Last week I stayed steady through the second mile but this time was determined to make up for the slower start. Up a few sandy inclines and down around some more and I had an 8:04 split for mile 2. That was not going to get me in under 25:00 unless I had a strong finish. It was about then that the legs started wobbling and slowing down, feeling nothing else but tired. I had the drive but not the strength. I crossed the 5K line in 26:01. I knew running on sand packed roads would be challenging but I know I could have done better than this. I grabbed a couple of bottles of water and a bagel and watched the remaining runners come in. It was a beautiful morning but still in the 50s. After about 20 minutes I walked back to my car and changed my sweaty race shirt to a T-shirt.
Tom Petty jumped out of the speakers with some intensity and I was off to the pool at a convention hotel in town. It just seemed like the best place to get away from ugly school news and see the beautiful people from all over the world. I walked in the lobby with my paper and bought a Starbuck’s CafĂ© Americano and went poolside. There were a few ladies out to get the last of the Florida sun before heading back north on 1230 flights. There were other folks here and there. I found Miss O’Hara’s lounge chair and pulled one up next to it. The coffee, the paper, the sun, a swim, foreign accents everywhere and I was definitely not in Kansas anymore. Ahhhhhh. There was very little more I could have hoped for. Well there was but I did not let it be a distraction. After 90 minutes I pulled out of my daze and headed on back to the ranch. It was a good day. Thank you for coming along.


Barefoot Shuttle

I went to the beach today with my 17 year old son to soak up the warm sunshine. I was also interested in seeing what was left of the barrier beach at the Canaveral National Seashore after last summer's hurricanes. We zipped over so quickly I was surprised how soon we were there. I stopped at Publix for a pair of subs/hoagies/grinders so we could eat when the urge struck us. At the Ranger station the sign said the tide was heading out - a good sign - in case the beach was narrow. It also said four of the 14 boardwalks that take you over the dunes to the beach were closed - as in washed out.
We pulled into #6 and hit the beach and a strong northeast breeze. We set down up against the dune that was so cut by the storms that it towered seven feet above our heads. The beach was still wide but somewhat steep.
We took in all the glorious sights and sounds of the beach - well I did anyway. C. had his ears full of music. Around 2:00 p.m. he said he was supposed to run 50 minutes for his track team today. Well I ran 50 yesterday and don't usually run back-to-back but here was one of those father/son moments you have to live to its fullest and write it down.
I love to run barefoot and agreed to join him. We headed south and were alone on the beach. After 20 minutes we reached an electric fence (on the beach) . Why was there an electric fence on the beach? Well we were within a half mile and in full view of the space shuttle Discovery sitting on the launch pad with its huge fuel tanks on and the scaffolding around the shuttle to prep it for its mid-May launch. It was awesome. I don't think you could get any closer without a NASA pass.
We took it all in and turned back to run back to our chairs. It was a great run with the special effect of cambered footfalls on the beach slopes. I tried to run using the Pose method that Mark is studying today. It wasn't too bad but the soles of my toes are worn down from the friction on the sand. I'll get over it. We had a fun run and C. was kind enough to run at my pace. The calves are mighty sore from the cambered barefoot run but a good stretch helped.
On the way home we stopped for snacks at the convenience store. I had a Haagan Daas vanilla chocolate coated ice cream bar with almonds. Yumm.
How was your day?


Mad blogger

So I ran twice this week, wrote up my accounts and Blogger ate them. Grrr.
Tomorrow I had to decide between the Doggy Run or a long run through the Winter Park Vias. My dogs would rather attack other dogs than run so I'll go long. Then I plan to attend installation ceremonies for the president at Rachel's college. Maybe I'll see her there - looking all glamorous and fit, but maybe with a sore neck.
I've signed up for a 5K race next weekend around the lakes. It's a sandy trail course under old oak trees with drooping clumps of hanging Spanish moss, which is typical of trails in Florida - lots of sand. I've never run it before but am looking forward to it.
I'm going to hit Publish Post now and hope for the best.


I De-Feeted Diabetes Today

Racing. I couldn't resist racing today. The forecast was outstanding with temps in the 50s and lots of sun plus a breeze. The race was so close by I didn't even have to drive. I put on a long sleeve shirt and shorts plus my new Asics Gel Kayanos 11s. I jogged down to the start line as my warm up. I underestimated the time necessary to get there and arrived just as they were singing the national anthem. I was on time but a little winded after the 1.5 mile hurried jog. No matter.
The race started and it was very slow. When I crossed the start mat people were still walking in front of me. I did some jumping sideways through the walkers to find some space and found myself in a quick corner and a narrow street with cars at the curb. The "new" route was poorly planned. They needed a wide and straight road to start us and sort out the runners from jogger/walkers. Grrr.
After a 1/4 mile it loosened up and I hit the jets. My first mile was 8:20 and I was not happy. From all the jumping around through traffic I was afraid I'd burned a little too much fuel and tried to be conservative on the 2nd mile. It was 8:14. That ticked me off even more so I kicked it up to 100% heart rate and zoomed in at a 7:46 3rd mile to finish with a 25:10 time. Respectable but not what I could have done. That I wasn't even trained up for this effort left me feeling good about the result and more determined than ever to PR in my next 5K in two weeks.
The rest of the day was invigorating as I thinned out one of my two big palm tree clusters and managed to not jab myself in the eye with a sharp object. It looks so much better now. It's amazing what can make you happy. (See the Mia Goddess garden).