Today is an ordinary winter day. It is gray and drab outside. The temps are right around freezing and there is a hint of snow in the air. It is nothing special. It is just another day, just like any winter day around here.
So going out on a run today, my third day running in a row, takes a little more determination. I’m a little tired. My legs have been working hard the last few days. What is the goal for today’s run? Maybe just go out, get some easy miles, take walk breaks as needed and enjoy. Listen to good music too. Picking a playlist I have not used in some time seems appropriate.
Song number one is a good starting song. The next song is a special song. It reminds me of a good friend and our relationship. And then I remember. I made this play list for us. All the songs have meaning; songs of being alive, another of taking pictures. There is that photo I look at every so often. The one which captures that special time together.
I have a song from the Cure. We both consider all songs from the Cure to be great running songs. The list goes on. Songs which say I’ll stay by your side; I’m more confident with you next to me; my everlasting friend. Another comparing how we look at the world; you so positive; and me trying so hard to see the way you look at it.
The one which sounds French, “Oooo La La”. It makes me smile and I always run better when I hear this song. More which take me to good times.
Near the end ,there is the one that takes me home. It is a great finishing song.
The day is not ordinary now. It has become special. I was “running with my friend”. It is always better to run with a friend.
On the long runs, I tend to think about things, and about people I used to know. On Sunday’s run, a few of these people came to mind.
One was The Denz. I went to high school and college with Mike. He was a great guy, friendly and always smiling. He was especially a great guy during college, at 2 AM in the morning when he cam knocking at the dorm room all drunk up yelling “Come on, open up We have to talk friendship!” Even though I would tell him to go away, he stayed out there. Finally opening the door he would say. “Oh I’m sorry I woke you up.” And walk away and knock on the next door.
After he finished med school and started his practice back in town, he found he had kidney cancer. He was gone shortly.
Another guy was Mike T. We used to drink beers on his front porch in the summer. His kids and mine played together in the yard. One Thanksgiving we talked about a local 5K race I had just done. He had done this race few years earlier and said it was a great event. We talked about doing a race together soon. He said, “It would be great to start running again. I just need to shake this nagging cough I can’t seem to get rid of.” I turned out that “nagging cough” was lung cancer. By the end of the next year he was gone.
And then there is Kate. Even though i never met her personally, she has left an impression. She is gone too soon.
We all talked on that run Sunday. About a lot of different things; families, goals, and just things going on.
In that last mile I had to run, my legs ached a bit. They tend to do that sometimes. Kate was there then to encourage me to just keep going. To never give up. She really helped me. But then that would be her nature, to be encouraging and positive, and telling you to not give up.
Those runs help keep us close and to never forget.
It is easy. Just put one foot in front of the other. Repeat. Now do it quicker. Now you are running.
I am reading a book. It is “Eat & Run” by Scott Jurek. I am to the point where Scott has just won the Western States Endurance Race for the seventh time. The sixth time he ran it, he did it at a 9:22 min/mile pace. This is a 100 mile trail race through the mountains of northern California. That is crazy. Running 100 miles at a 9:22 pace!! He must be some kind of mutant.
I wanted to go for a run today. I ran yesterday. It was 50 degrees out and very nice. Today it is 20 degrees colder and windy. Very windy. I hate running in the wind. I’d rather run up hills. At least with a hill you can see when it will be over. You can’t see that with wind.
Anyway, I got out. Mile 3 was straight into the wind. Did I mention I hate running into the wind? Oh, and this Scott Jurek is vegan. He runs all these miles just eating plants. That is crazy too. I’m not sure how motivating the book is. He has talent. And he is young. He has to be to run 9:22 min miles for that long. I would love that to be my 10K race pace.
I ran 4 miles this morning. I felt pretty good considering it was cold and windy and I am not in my twenties. I did push it a bit. Scott pushes it every time he runs. Maybe I can push it a bit to. After all, running is easy.
When I was done I checked my watch for my pace.
Four miles. A 9:10 pace. Wow!
Yes, running is easy. Just 96 more miles to go.
A few years ago, with winter approaching, this time of year would send me into a depression. The coming of cold and snow was more than I wanted to endure. I was looking for ways to get out of this area and find a warmer climate.
But once I got back into running, I found I could enjoy winter. Rather than dread this season, I can now get out and play in the cold and snow. There are lots of winter runs around the area, from road races, hilly trail races and just running with friends. A few of these trail races are at night. Running through the woods at night is a blast. Everyone feels like a kid. Headlamps are required. After all, it is at night and it is very dark.
Foe me, the winter running season starts tomorrow with the annual Turkey Trot. It is 4.4 miles (or so) just around a town park. There will be 5272 people running, including me and my family. it will be chilly, but it will be tons of fun. I even find myself wishing for some snow, just to add to the fun factor.
It was raining pretty good when I woke up today. It was not what I expected. The past week has been so nice and I was looking forward to an nice sunny day. Not so today.
So what to do? Do I just sit inside and wait it out? What if it lasts all day? Do I go out and run in the rain and get soaked in the process? I am usually a fair weather runner, but with all that is going on, a good short run is needed. Oh what the heck, it was not raining to hard so let’s just go out.
Besides, I have to remember the things I tell my fellow runners when we get caught in the rain.
Number 1 thing (and this is very dorky and I get many rolls of the eyes and head shakes when I say this): “When we run in the rain and get soaked, there is no need to take a shower when we are done.”
Number 2 thing (and some people think this is cute): “Running in the rain you just open your mouth and catch the rain drops. The rain drops are little water bottles from heaven”
Number 2 was my Facebook status for the day.
Running is a great workout for building up legs. Having strong leg muscles enables me to take part in another favorite activity of mine which is cycling. With the cycling season starting up now, I don’t feel like I have a big training period. I can jump on my bike and just go.
This is important for a big ride I have coming very soon now on May 18. That is the Ride for Missing and Exploited Children. There are a few of them around New York now. The first was in Utica and has spread to 4 other cities in NY.
This will be my 7th ride. It is one of my favorite charity rides. It started out with just being able to take a day off from work to ride my bike around town, with a whole bunch of other riders (300 or so this year) with a police escort and get fed along the way. It is much more than that.
We visit elementary schools along the way. The ride is coupled with a school program of child safety, teaching kids what to be aware of in this world today. And the kids are great. They are all lined up outside the school as we ride in, yelling and shouting, making all the riders feel like Lance Armstrong. It is quite the thrill and even writing this I get a chill just thinking about it.
So May 18, rain or shine, it will be a good day. Last year I got to lead the ride as one of the pace shepherds. That was quite an honor for me. This year, I will not be riding as a shepherd, but with my son and his wife. It is my son’s first year riding. It seems like a good thing to do; to ride this 100 miles together. He is a beginning rider, so he may need some encouragement. I hope I can do that.
But with out some running to keep me in shape, I might not be able to ride. And once you do this ride, you want to do it again.
Here is the web site if you want to check out more.
If you go to the bottom of the page, there is a video from last year’s ride.
(And there is still some room for more riders if anyone is interested.)
I love talking with beginning runners. There are a couple people here on 43T I have been talking with lately on running (I hope you recognize yourselves). I’m not sure I help them. They certainly help me.
I have a half marathon race tomorrow. It is an event I feel the most ill-prepared of any I have ever done. The last month has been filled with some small injuries and sickness that has cut into my running schedule. Can I do this?
Beginning runners have so many questions. “Do I have the right shoes?” “Should I wear a hat?” “Can I do this?” and about 1000 more.
I love the nervousness, the questions, the innocence of it all. It is refreshing.
The answers are always the same, “Yes, just get out there and enjoy.”
So tomorrow, I am a beginning runner. Rain or shine, warm or cold; I can get out there and enjoy a beautiful morning with a bunch of people who also have a bunch of questions and see what I can do.
The beginning runner is the best runner. There is a giant world out there in front of them. All they have to do is run to it.
I run because there’s something missing in my life.
I have been searched all my life and I continue to search for that something that is missing. I have searched many places and no matter where I have looked, I have never found that which is missing. For many years, I did not even had a method in which to search. Now, after years of not even knowing how to search, I know that running gives me a method. Now I can keep searching. Running gives me a chance to find that which I am missing, whatever it may be.
I feel that on a run someday, I will find that which I am looking for. That as I move down the road, all of a sudden, it will be right there in front of me. And when I see it, I will know it. And it will be the best day of my life. So for now, only way I can ever even hope to find it, is to keep running.
Just about all of my reasons to run concern the way it makes me feel and the rewards of exercising. But aside from those, another is because of all the cool stuff that has come into the running world.
Gone are the days when one puts on a dirty old pair of sneakers, some ratty sweat pants and a old, torn cotton T-shirt. (Of course you could still do that if you wanted.) Now, everything is high tech. Shoes are made for your stride and foot strike. They are comfortable right out of the box. There is no more “break-in” period.
There are lots of toys. I have one of those GPS watches. Very geeky. It gives me all the info I would ever need; distance, speed, heart rate, elevation (very cool when trying to impress friends.) and lots of good maps. It’s nice to see where you have been.
Clothes are comfortable and functional. No more cotton shirts. They are all some sort of polyester material that wicks moisture from your body keeping you cool. Running pants and not pants, they are tights. There are different thicknesses for the weather and they keep you warm. Mizuno even has a line of clothes that generates heat as you sweat. I tried some gloves made of this stuff and had to take them off as my hands got TOO warm.
But the best thing I have found are the socks. They are light and comfortable. My favorites are made by Balega. They are thick and cushiony. You put these on and it is like wrapping your feet in a cloud. I just bought two pairs of these as I wore my others out. Who ever thought I could get excited about socks, but these are worth it.
Maybe someday, I’ll get rid of all my other socks and just wear these. My feet would love me.
We had group run tonight. It’s not a normal night for running. An arctic cold came through the area. At run time it was 9 deg F. I have run in temps this cold before, but it has been awhile. It is hard to stay warm when it’s this cold, but if you keep moving and you are dressed right, it can be done. After the first mile, I was warm and fine. For the rest of the run, I actually felt good and thought it was nice out.
And that is what I love; to get out there, when conditions are less than prime, and discover you can do it. It is not impossible. You just have to try.