Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I Don't Get It

Disclaimer: I am a runner. Anti-Disclaimer: I felt this way before I was such an avid runner. Although it's hard to say for sure. That was a long time ago.

The reason for the claimer, disclaimer and dis-disclaimer is that I am about to commence a rant about track and field. What don't I get? Why isn't 'Athletics', as T & F called in other parts of the planet, the most avidly followed and watched sport? How is it that the IAAF T & F World Championships are relegated to a network called Universal Sports that nobody seems to watch, along with a couple brief recap shows on NBC?

The 'Worlds' are surely the most important track meet on the planet next to the Olympics. Like the Olympics, they occur every couple years, but on the odd ones. I often feel that I'm the only person I know who eagerly anticipates and avidly watches them. Most of my friends, even the runners, don't even seem aware that they're going on.

I have a difficult time understanding why this is the case. Surely the drama of a 1500 meter race far surpasses that of an NBA game. The raw power and speed in the 200 meter race is definitely more exciting than that in an NFL game. And a 5000 or 10000 meter race is much more engrossing than any Major League Baseball game.

Nope. I just don't get it.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Green Monster

I don't know why in the world I thought this would be a good idea. Maybe because my friends were doing it? Because it was an inaugural event? That it would give me a slight amount of redemption, or at least put me back on the right path after Mohican? In any case, there I was at Steve Godale's first annual Moebius Green Monster 50K, trying mightily to not fall completely by the wayside.

It was a pretty good first four 10k loops. It was the fifth one that got me. The first three were in the 55 minute range, and the fourth was right at an hour, so I thought I'd have an easy sub-five hour run. Not bad on a fairly tough course.

"No hill higher than a two story house", they said. Maybe, but there were a *lot* of those house-sized hills. And roots. And rocks. And mud. Although the mud wasn't as bad as it was for last week's training run there, it still slowed me down some.

The PF is still around, but wasn't especially bad this day. I believe that I've lost a lot of fitness because of it however.

Would I even make it through the last loop?

5:01. That was my finish time, after the final, very bad, loop. I think I was in fifth place, but what a struggle. The best part is, it's over!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

and the Other Half is Physical

The title of this post refers to the Yogi Berra saying that baseball is 90% mental... and the other half is physical. That saying naturally applies to running as well, except more so.

This morning I find myself stumbling into the bedroom closet just as the 0400 watch alarm is about to chime. I almost always beat it, no matter how early its set. Trying to keep quiet, I dress into my running clothes and swig down a 5-hour energy. Maybe this will get me out the door faster than the usual coffee.

It’s been tough to get going lately. This is at least partly because we’re in Connecticut, trying to perform major surgery to Veronica and Barry’s house: mostly painting, plumbing and taking stuff to the city dump. So that may be a good portion of the physical part of why I’ve been tired and sore. But even before this week, most of my runs have been slow and tired. It could be my continuing injury saga, or the ongoing oppressive heat and humility. Maybe that is 90% mental part.

But I think the mental part goes further. My heel is, actually, beginning to heal, as is the rest of me. At least it’s better than it was. Even so, I am still burned out. I have a decent run now and then – including a tempo run at North Park last week and another here on the Housatonic trail. Most runs, however, are as tired and slow as ever.

I want to get out by 0500 in order to have enough time to run 20 miles and get back at a decent time. I sit at the computer first to check email and weather. This is always a Big Mistake. It certainly was Saturday, the last time I tried to get out for a long one and wound up starting so late that I settled for 10 instead. Yesterday I couldn’t get out the door at all.

Big Mistake it is again. Besides attending to NC24 matters and other things, I talk with Veronica a bit. I’m out the door at 5:45. This is much later than planned, but I’m determined to do 20 anyway. Debbie will just have to wait for me to begin painting a little later than usual. Since it rained quite a bit yesterday, I decide not to do the trail today. Instead I go down the hill and up the other one on Daniels Farm Road to the track. Those first three miles are slow ones, but with the hills and waking up (still), I’m not concerned.

It’s the fourteen miles at the track that weigh on my mind. The sun is already up as I start my circuits. It gets early early around here. (This is another Yogi saying – “It gets early late around here” or something like that.) That’s not so bad, but now it’s getting warm as well. And humid.

I am dripping with sweat as I complete my first track mile in something like 8:50. The next several are progressively faster – in the 8:40’s, 8:30’s and then some in the 8:20’s. By the time I have 10 in, I’m feeling like I’m doing well and am fairly pleased with the progression of the mile times.

"You're in fantastic shape" says a high-school soccer girl who's nearby when I stop for a sip of my water. She'd been there for almost the same amount of time that I was. "Thanks, I say. And so are you", since all high-school soccer kids are in great shape. At this point, however, the heat is beginning to get to me. The sun is beating down, and I only have a half-bottle of water left. I should have brought more. My mile times begin to slow. I’m putting in more effort than ever, but Miles 12 and 13 are close to nine minutes. I decide to try at least one more, and it comes out closer to ten minutes.

I decide it’s time to head home. I suppose I could slog through it, but that trend is very discouraging. I do slog the final three and barely get back in one piece.

So at least I got 17 in, but it wasn’t the 20 I wanted. Is it physical, or is it mental? The answer is yes.

Hinckley is Back

Okay, okay. Hinckley never really left. But a lot of us did; we hadn't been meeting there for our Sunday morning runs for quite some tim...