Just Twenty Miles

Yes­ter­day morn­ing, on a sun­ny and cool day, Angela and I ran togeth­er for 20 miles.

I’ve held off writ­ing much about run­ning the past few weeks. Okay, so I’ve held off writ­ing about much of any­thing the past few weeks (up until this week­end any­way). Well, that was main­ly because I want­ed to wait until after this morn­ing to write about what we have accom­plished so far.

Yes­ter­day morn­ing, on a sun­ny and cool day, Angela and I ran togeth­er for 20 miles. We fin­ished in 4 hours and 45 min­utes, which won’t exact­ly break any records. How­ev­er, the point is that we fin­ished and we did it togeth­er. It is real­ly hard to write just how proud of her I am. Just a few years ago, not being a run­ner as a kid or in col­lege, she ran her first 5k. Just this past Spring, she ran her the Mon­u­ment Avenue 10k, anoth­er per­son­al record for dis­tance. Now, she has reached what is con­sid­ered by most to be the longest train­ing used in dis­tance run­ning. That is no small feat and it requires real ded­i­ca­tion to achieve. Fur­ther, while it may seem counter-intu­itive, run­ning slow­er on those long runs means being out there for just that much longer. Near­ly five hours of stren­u­ous phys­i­cal activ­i­ty is tough on any­one, and she fin­ished with her usu­al big smile, as if we’d just been walk­ing around the block.

Because of the way our train­ing was set up, Angela was on the novice team which would have one 20 mile run. My team, which was for some­what more advanced run­ners (which I do not claim to be; it was decid­ed for me), ran three 20 mile days, the last coin­cid­ing with the novice group. I ran the first one at a rel­a­tive­ly slow pace, as it was a first for me. The sec­ond, I real­ly want­ed to see what I was capa­ble of doing, so I ran faster. I had thought all along that run­ning this last one with Angela might be fun, espe­cial­ly to keep her com­pa­ny. One of the coach­es agreed that using the mid­dle 20-mil­er as the more stren­u­ous test run would be a good idea, so I went with that plan. I have to say, that although the com­pa­ny I had on the first two was great, the one yes­ter­day with Angela was so much fun.

Way to go, Angela. You proved to the run­ning group and every­one we know that you can do it. What’s more, you fin­ished with a smile and then took me to lunch. Who could ask for a bet­ter part­ner to run with and hang out with for the rest of our lives? You’re awe­some.

Cross-Crunchy Festival

This week­end is the 3rd May­mont X‑Country Fes­ti­val I’ve ran in; in as many years.

You Are About To Enter Maymont

Click on the May­mont sign above to see my Flickr pho­to set of the Fri­day por­tion of the X‑Country Fes­ti­val.

This week­end is the 3rd May­mont X‑Country Fes­ti­val I’ve ran in; in as many years. The pre­vi­ous two (results on my run­ning page), Angela and I both ran the cross-coun­try 5k. May­mont is an incred­i­ble park and it is so much fun to run a race there. How­ev­er, there always seems to be some­thing wrong each year. The first year, the 5k was divid­ed up by sex/age group­ings (which isn’t nor­mal for a 5k, in my expe­ri­ence). Our groups were both on Fri­day night, with Ange­la’s start­ing last at 6:30. Of course, she fin­ished in pitch black dark­ness, but she did fin­ish. Last year, we ran on Sat­ur­day morn­ing but the clock got messed up on the men’s 5k (I don’t think I set a PR by near­ly three min­utes on that course).

This year, I ran the new 8k course, which was on Fri­day at 5:30. Of course, I’m usu­al­ly at work on Fri­day at 5:30, but I made an excep­tion today. How­ev­er, I was still run­ning late to the park and was quite lit­er­al­ly still get­ting my num­ber pinned on as the start­ing gun sound­ed. This feel­ing of being rushed cou­pled with being bad­ly dehy­drat­ed (I had been sweat­ing it out on a job site ear­li­er that day) led to a less than opti­mum­ly pleas­ant run in the heat of the set­ting sun. All the same, as I said, May­mont is a beau­ti­ful park and the race was lots of fun. I’m sure I’ll be back next year. There’s a half-marathon as well I’m hop­ing to try.

Also on the sub­ject of run­ning, today marked the last time I’m run­ning in my cur­rent pair of sneak­ers. They are start­ing to both look and smell like all of the 400 miles on them, so they are being retired to gar­den­ing duty. I have a nice new shiny green & white pair wait­ing for me in the clos­et.

Half-Marathon Day(s)

This week­end is the half-marathon point in out train­ing sched­ule.

This week­end is the half-marathon point in out train­ing sched­ule. I’ll be run­ning the Bat­tle­field Half-Marathon in East­ern Hen­ri­co Coun­ty. Angela is reg­is­tered for this race as well, but unfor­tu­nate­ly, she has to work all week­end long. So, we are start­ing the first-annu­al Ange­la’s Birth­day Half-Marathon, sched­uled for Mon­day at 7:00 am. This will be a 13.1 mile tour of Rich­mond’s West End (now referred to by some as mid-town Rich­mond, due to the West­ern Sprawl that is Hen­ri­co and Goochland Coun­ties).

So, in the span of two days, I will now have run a marathon. I’m either a very fool­ish per­son with no regard for my legs or a very lov­ing hus­band, will­ing to endure pain for my wife. I’m most like­ly a fair amount of both. At least I’ll have an extra day this week­end to recov­er from my fool­ish­ness.

My race on Sun­day morn­ing is a tra­di­tion­al half-marathon, with vol­un­teers man­ning water stops, signs mark­ing each pass­ing mile, and a timer at the fin­ish line to call out how I’ve done. Ange­la’s on the oth­er hand, is the two of us run­ning in a series of two-three mile loops cen­tered around my truck parked at a near­by inter­sec­tion.

Preparing For The Race

Stretch­ing before the race.

Update 2005–9‑4: I fin­ished my race in 1:52:39, accord­ing to the RRRC web­site. My own num­bers were about the same. That’s an aver­age pace of 8:36 min­utes per mile, which is real­ly fast for me. I’m not as proud of the results as that may sound, though, because I real­ly pushed myself hard­er than I should of, and to what end? I had nev­er run a half-marathon before, so it’s not like I was try­ing to beat a pre­vi­ous time. There was no way I was going to place in any­thing (I was bare­ly in the top half, 146 out of 215 run­ners, and num­ber 6 of 8 in my age/gender group). Basi­cal­ly, rather than use the expe­ri­ence to learn how to run this dis­tance, I learned exact­ly how not to. I’m going to have to work on pac­ing myself bet­ter if I have any hope to sur­viv­ing the marathon.

Over­heard while run­ning the race at about mile 5–1/2:

Min­neso­ta Guy: Yeah, the peo­ple who run with those huge fuel belts with like eight or ten bot­tles, or even those big heavy bags, they look like com­pete geeks. It’s like they’re run­ning with a full water stop for the whole race.

J.R. (Girl From Train­ing Team): Yeah.

Yes, Min­neso­ta Guy (who sounds just like Gar­rick Van Buren), I am a geek. I run with a Camel­bak with the exact amount of flu­ids I’ll need to fin­ish the race. I’m also right behind you. I may not be that fast, but I also know that it is not the 2lb pack I’m car­ry­ing that is slow­ing me down. Espe­cial­ly since I’m sweat­ing enough to loose about that much dur­ing the course of the race any­way.

Suc­cess! We both ran 13.1 miles today in the First Annu­al Angela Dyer Birth­day Half-Marathon. It was great day to be out run­ning, although since we got a late start, we did­n’t fin­ish until 1:00pm, when it was about 85°. I’m real­ly proud of Angela, though, because she stuck it out and ran the entire time.

Half-Way Today

This morn­ing I ran 13.1 miles with the marathon train­ing team. That is, to date, the fur­thest I have ever run at one time.

This morn­ing I ran 13.1 miles with the marathon train­ing team. That is, to date, the fur­thest I have ever run at one time. I had pre­vi­ous­ly, on my own, ran about 12 1/2 miles at one time. Near­ly there, right? Well, not quite. That was about a year ago, and I ran that far with­out build­ing up to the dis­tance, with­out car­ry­ing any water, and with no real idea of what I was capa­ble of. Since then, I’ve learned a great deal about dis­tance run­ning as well as myself.

First of all, I was being not only harsh on myself for going over two hours that day with­out water, I was being down­right fool­ish. That lev­el of excre­tion results in a large amount of water loss. My body def­i­nite­ly felt the pain from dehy­dra­tion after­wards. Fur­ther, jump­ing from rough­ly 9 miles to over 12 is a fair­ly dra­mat­ic leap in terms of train­ing dis­tance, and espe­cial­ly when I was­n’t stick­ing to any real sched­ule. I sup­pose it’s some­thing to have accom­plished that on my own, but going fur­ther with­out any guid­ance could have had me caus­ing more harm than good.

Fast for­ward to today, after I’ve been build­ing up on the aver­age of a mile fur­ther each week and I’ve been edu­cat­ed a lot more in some of the schools of thought on dis­tance run­ning. I’ve learned more about the rate that my body needs flu­ids (on a much more fine­ly tuned lev­el than with my back­pack­ing expe­ri­ences), I’ve learned the kinds of tech­niques over the course of train­ing that will con­di­tion me to be able to per­form over hours of run­ning. I’ve learned a lot more about how to push myself and when to let off.

I believe that each of us has a lot more inside than we real­ize. Attempt­ing a marathon is my (and Ange­la’s) exper­i­ment in fig­ur­ing out what I’m capa­ble of. How­ev­er, it isn’t a mat­ter of tak­ing off one day and forc­ing myself to do that kind of dis­tance. It is about learn­ing how to get more out of me. That takes time in train­ing and time in learn­ing. In the end, it just takes time. It’s time well spent, though.

Angela tells me it’s time to head off to Chipo­tle for our post-run bur­ri­to (it helps to have goals). Before I go, I just want to tip my hat to every­one I know who has also worked to find their capa­bil­i­ties: Dave in his run­ning, my Dad in hik­ing Philmont, my Mom in writ­ing a hik­ing guide, and Dal­las Smith in just plain run­ning fur­ther than any human should. You guys inspire Angela and myself and you make this seem so easy.

If Not Now, When?

I’ve decid­ed to knock off a few things on my life-to-do-list. Num­ber 1: run 26.2 miles.

This sort of ties in with yes­ter­day evening’s post. I’ve decid­ed to knock off a few things on my life-to-do-list. So, I’ve signed up to run the Rich­mond Marathon this Novem­ber. Angela is going to do it as well, so we can encour­age one anoth­er. I believe this has almost noth­ing to do about whether my body can han­dle the run­ning of 26.2 miles (although my left knee scares the shit out of me). It is going to be about com­mit­ting to doing some­thing that I’ve want­ed to do all my life. When I was a kid, I thought I would some­day want to run the Boston Marathon. Well, come to find out, they don’t let just any jok­er like me sign up for that (some­thing about qual­i­fy­ing). So, I’ll be okay just run­ning a marathon, rather than what many con­sid­er to be the marathon. None-the-less, if I were to just wait to do this until I was absolute­ly sure that I was capa­ble of tak­ing the time and effort to fin­ish, then I’d like­ly nev­er do it. I’m tak­ing a chance on myself, and this is some­thing I have real­ly want­ed to do for a long time, now.

I sup­pose Ange­la’s rea­sons are sim­i­lar, although it’s not real­ly been some­thing she’s talked about doing so much. I think she wants the chal­lenge as well. To do some­thing that most fam­i­ly and friends would think she’s not capa­ble of doing. Again, this isn’t about com­pet­ing with any­one, but our­selves. And that means one thing: run­ning (or walk­ing, for that mat­ter) across the fin­ish line.

Anoth­er thing is, Angela and I are both the kind of peo­ple who know peo­ple who have run marathons. How­ev­er, we both don’t want that to be our expe­ri­ence: to be the friend of the peo­ple who do things. That’s no real way to know life. We’re going to have to do things like this for our­selves. Have an expe­ri­ence, not just some sto­ries we’re heard.

For the record, I esti­mat­ed my fin­ish­ing time at 4 hours and 15 min­utes. Is that being opti­mistic? Prob­a­bly, but so isn’t the very idea of me fin­ish­ing a marathon?