Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Somebody has to do something; it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.

First off, my apologies to Jerry Garcia. It's just where my head is today. I believe life is what you make it and if it is not turning out the way you want, it is your own repsonsibility to make changes that work for you. For me, I have found that in order for me to make things work in my life, the key is to be positive, open minded and caring of others. That's why I am working out, running and doing my best to keep doing crosswords and keeping up on current events. By covering those simple bases, I can feel good about myself (both mind and body) and only measure my progress against goals that I set for myself, not by how anyone else is doing. If there are things I don't like that are going on around me, I can use the positive feelings I have about myself to have the confidence to provide suggestions to resolve the issues. That does not mean that I have all the answers (see being open-minded, above); what it does mean is that if I am not part of the solution, I am part of the problem.

Delays in resolving things, blaming process and just saying no are to me, unacceptable responses to issues that require being addressed. I am sure that if people actually took the time to understand the other person's point of view, we could come to compromise that everyone can walk away from the negotiating table feeling good about the resolution. By getting past personality to the actual issues at hand, work can actually be accomplished. By letting things fester over time, conditions will only deteriorate and more roadblocks are erected to coming to consensus just because of resentment for the delay. By only saying NO because you want to exert some kind of authority you believe you have only weakens you and again, builds resentment. By listening to the other side and seriously taking their concerns into consideration and by doing your homework in order to develop a well reasoned, cogent argument, the whole (blending of ideas) can become greater than the sum of the parts. Life does not need to be a zero sum game. Politics does not need to be a zero sum game. Man is a social animal and he/she is really, truly successful when he/she collaborates for the good of the many, not just the one.

So, to that end, I will ask all of you who spend time on Facebook, My-Space, etc. to also take some time and get involved. E-mail your representatives, Senators, President, Governors, etc. Don't just say "Yeah, I agree with you! or You idiot, get out of office!" Do your homework and become part of the conversation. Democracy is really hard when you get down to brass tacks. It requires the citizenry to be involved. Don't settle for the 15 second sound byte from EITHER SIDE. Listen for logical arguments. Better yet, become part of the conversation at home. Respect each other's opinions and if worse comes to worse, you will agree to disagree; but at least it will be a more lively discussion than just watching another hour of Big Brother or Real Chance at Love II.

It's been bad weather and I have been recovering from a cold. So, no running, but I found my soapbox, again.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Turn the page

As we have discussed, I have found that my times when I do an outdoor run by myself suffer. This may be due to a series of things; no one to pace me, my mind wandering (trying to deal with things I have no control over), waiting for traffic lights to change, etc...There are two ways to deal with this phenomena... Never run outside (I can't imagine getting 20 miles in on a .2 mile track, 100 laps! and we all know how I feel about laps) or join a running club; which I am doing today. The Second Wind Running Club in Champaign has been around for over 20 years and they have all kinds of training opportunities, races and social events throughout the year; wow, social events! I guess I am starting to connect myself to the community and meet some folks. I will still do some of my long training solo (they don't have a program of marathon training beginning until January) but some of the shorter (3-8 mile) stuff I can do with their group during the week. I will also join my first organized trail run since the Lompoc Half Marathon (2:09:45, by the way) on Sunday at the Allerton Park Trail Run (5.5 miles through the woods and beautiful gardens; I'll try to get pictures).

This is part of my taking the steps to connect with people in real life rather than just virtually through the internet. I have a great network of friends, but they are cast to the winds all over the country; or shall I say, I have been cast to the wind, and landed here. I treasure e-mail and network sites like Facebook because they help me keep connected. However, the problem with virtual connectivity is that it drives being home-sick and feeling a sense of isolation. I miss my friends terribly and sometimes, seeing pictures or having e-chats just makes things worse. These are just aches and pains of change and not un-like training injuries, need to be dealt with; recognized and treated, but not dwelled on. If I just dwelled on them and did nothing about them, that would just make me no fun to be around; and trust me, I'm a fun guy, really! Also, it makes an easy excuse for why days may not go by as well as I hope. Blame it on being here, away from my support group! Sometimes, I would feel pain that comes from nowhere; pain resulting from a phantom injury, or a relationship that really never existed. Well, even though it's tough to start moving, like those first few hundred yards of a training run early in the morning, once I get going I see that Newton was right; that a body in motion tends to stay in motion and I can get going again; both on the road and in general. I see that those phantom pains are just that: phantom. If the injury; even the heart break, results from something that never existed, then it is just a problem with perception. It was all in my mind and it was never real. In some cases, something that I thought I had (ankle sprain, glute strain, committed partnership) never was. When shown that those things never existed, x-rays, exams, documents, etc. it helps me fix my perception and to move on to better training methods and choices in life, in general. Things like running clubs, new shoes, stretching and reaching out to new people in close physical proximity to me will help me reach my goals (3:30 in the Illinois Marathon, less stress and having a local support group).

The fantasy was fun, for a time; it gave me something to talk about, but it never really was. By realizing that, I was able to drop some of the weight I was carrying on the run and had a great one last night (6 miles with some hills at a sub 9 minute pace). And so, we turn the page...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Aches, pain and muddling through

29 miles this past week and being back for the first time since my ankle/foot/achille's problem, I have set a new base line; at least when it comes to running. On a completely flat track, I can average pretty close to the pace I need to follow to reach my goals. Once I get outside, terrain and no one else to pace me leads me to slow up a little so I need to improve my internal timing. Today, after the 11 miles on Sunday and almost 7 on Saturday, I've got a few aches in the legs (hammies and calves, mostly); maybe I'll get a massage this week. The aches and pains are just part of the training process; no pain, no gain, right? 30 miles this week starting tomorrow, so I'll recover today and do some lifting and ab work tonight. It's interesting, to me at least, that the more I keep the upper body involved in the mechanics of running, the easier it is for me to move on down the road. So, I need to keep building the upper body in order to get in best shape I can for running. I guess that in order to make progress, it takes a complete effort, not just a half---ed approach.

Which brings me to other aches and pains. I have been trying to build and/or re-build relationships with people who I believe are good for me in the long run (no pun intended), but I have been making no progress. I have put so many lobs into their courts with no returns that I would be surprised if they can even see the court surface (playing court metaphor, not legal court example). It feels as if I am running at too slow a pace, as is often the case when I go out by myself on a road run with no one to pace me. One of the reasons I run better inside on the track is that I have other runners to pace myself against and there is a clock on the wall that helps me keep focus to reach my goals. I feel I need to go back to my coaches, the ones who are looking out for me, to let me know if there is a problem with my relationship training regimen; or if my goals are truly in my best interest. By going back to their guidance, I can help build my core so that I have the strength to put forth full effort into putting a life together and not just searching for old pieces to fit a new puzzle. If those old pieces fit, great! If they are not meant to be a part of the new me, then I need to drop the futile effort of forcing pieces where they do not belong. This forcing of pieces is painful and difficult, especially when it comes to my heart and mind (I ache and lose focus). I hope to find out very soon if these pieces will ever fit into the puzzle. Maybe then, regardless of the answer, I will be able to stretch out my stride and not hold myself back (pun intended).

That's the problem with running by yourself; too much time to think and getting distracted from the real goals. I'll have to join a club or find a running partner. Who knows, there might be the right pieces there! I'm all verklempt now, talk amongst yourselves; I'll give you a topic... In the Flintstones,was it Gina Lollabrigirock or Gina Rockabrigida?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Going nowhere; not that fast

Last night, the weather was not that great; low 40's and misting. I was tired of running the track at ARC, so I decided I would try the treadmill. I had seen any number of runners really enjoying plugging their headphones into the consoles and watching TV or listening to their MP3's while they careened on what seemed like an endless loop to nowhere, so I thought I would give it a whirl. My headphones are on the fritz, so until I get new ones, I decided I would run and just look around. After about the first half mile, after I had finally figured out how to get the treadmill at the most comfortable speed, I was cruising along and it finally hit me... I don't get the point of treadmills. Maybe not enjoying the full "treadmill experience" (not being "plugged in" to the TV) kept me from fully savoring the total lack of feeling the wind (or at least slight breeze) through my hair while I ran, the entire absence of change of scenery (at least on the track, the view changes every now and again; which in and of itself does not compare to road running) or maybe it was just the whole "hamster-essence" of the experience that put this at pretty close to the bottom of my training options.

But after thinking about it a little more, I started viewing running/training as metaphor for life (Why not? It's more than just running.). Maybe my reaction to the treadmill represented something deeper. I want to keep moving forward. If I put in the effort, I want to see some results; distance covered, sights seen, things accomplished; not just a lot of sweat and not getting anywhere. It has seemed that in putting my life together, lately, that I have been on a treadmill; lots of effort with no real traction. The challenge for me has been that while I have seen a change in me; a real positive development in who I want to be while not discarding all the good stuff that has always been a part of me, I am the only one who has seen it. Some have not seen it due to distance, some due to not wanting to see it because of pain I had inflicted in the past, some not wanting to see it because they just did not want to put in the effort. Again, a lot of effort with no measurable progress. The treadmill of life...

However, now that I have discussed the grey cloud, let's look at the silver lining. The work on the treadmill helped me maintain an 8:30 pace (within :30 of my goal), so I was able to keep up on my speed. Likewise, I can see that the work I am putting into other areas of my life will pay off when it pays off; in its own due time. In both areas, it has to do with consistency of effort and being flexible. I need to keep running, but weather is bad and the track is crowded, so go use the treadmill. I feel I need to keep trying in my relationships, but I am getting little or no response; so keep trying, send letters, continue to do what I say I am going to do. In both scenarios, I am faced with situations that are not optimal, but I make lemonade out of my lemons. With patience and humility, I am enjoying my lemonade and I also like the guy I see in the mirror.

By the way, when I got done running on the treadmill, I was not sure how to turn it off, so I kind of jumped off it and ran into the elliptical machine behind me; almost twisted my ankle! I think I'll stay off it for a while, anyway.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Quick update - More when the week is over.

3 miles tonight - all sub 8 minutes. The big tests start this week.

6 miles Wednesday night - 8:00, 7:57, 7:58, 8:09, 8:23, 8:39 - all averaging out to 49:09 (8:11.5 mile pace) If I can keep it up (pace fell off at the end due to a glute strain), I'm close to 3.5 hours; I only need to replicate this run 31/2 more times... WITHOUT STOPPING! 3, 6 and 11 still to go this week. Thursday, 3 miles on the treadmill (8:30 per, taking it a little easier) Friday is a day off!

Saturday's run was 6.7 miles out in the Heartland. Weather was sunny and brisk. 9:15 pace (a lot of climbing compared to the track). Tomorrow is 11 miles.

Sunday out and about around Champaign. 9:40 pace; I know I was supposed to go easy pace, but this was a little too slow. I need to pick it up a little.

This week - 3,6,3,6,11 - 29 miles (24+49+25.5+55.5+102 = 255 minutes or 4:15)
10/19/09 - 3,6,3,6,12 - 30 miles (24:45 (outside), 48:50 (oustside & dark),
10/26/09 - 3,5,3,6,9 - 26 miles
11/02/09 - 4,7,4,7,14 -36 miles
11/09/09 - 4,7,4,7,15 - 37 miles

It will also include at least 3 runs per week outside - average temp - 45 degrees, good running weather. It's serious now.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Hopeful Signs

I did 3 miles on Tuesday between the track and elliptical (averaged about 9:15)

Wednesday was 5 miles on the elliptical at an average of 10:00/mile

Last night, 3 miles in 25:44 (8:35/mile) all on the track and today I can walk! A few aches, but no material pain. A lot had to do with my posture, kept my head up and used my upper body to move around the track. If I can use that similar type of attitude (keeping my head up), I'll be optimistic about other aspects in life (running as metaphor).

5 miles tomorrow, 6 on Sunday. I'll let you know what happens. Now, if only things elsewhere in my life had the same type of positive response. This time, I'll be sure to take it slow so as not to re-injure my foot; or my heart.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

How soon we forget...or want to...

Well, last week I talked about how my right foot was ailing. I took the week off, walked wherever I needed to go (on average, I got about 3 miles a day) and still worked out. The foot would ache every now and again, but it was not too bad. Yesterday, it felt pretty good. So I said to myself, "Self, let's try to get 3 miles on in a run after the arm work out (you know, do the curls to get the girls)". So after feeding my ego, I decided to rush in with abandon to getting on 3 miles. I thought, shoot, I've been running 22 miles a week, so this should be easy. The first mile went by at 8:14 and I'm thinking "I'm back! Woohoo!". Then at a mile and a quarter, a shooting pain comes from just ahead of my heel and runs right up the Achille's tendon and right then, the 3 mile run was over. Being open-minded, I decided I still needed to get my miles on so I went to one of the elliptical machines and kept going. I got 2 more miles at an average of 9:20 and my foot did not hurt at all. With my long history of medical training, ("I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV"), I came to the conclusion that the issue is not a soft tissue injury; I probably have a stress fracture in my foot and will have to do the next couple of months of training on the elliptical machine since the foot cannot take the striking the track or pavement. It's a good thing the elliptical machines have TV's and MP3's with headphone jacks. Come February, I'll get an X-ray to see if I can still compete.

Why am I talking about this? Well, it was symptomatic of my mindset this week. I figured that if I got a little positive feedback, I could forget all about real issues that were still needing to be addressed. Like my foot, I took a little positive feedback I was getting in trying to re-build a relationship and probably pushed too far too fast without first dealing with the issues that still needed to be addressed due to a "path of destruction" that I had left in my wake over the past few years. I made some pretty good progress when our conversation came to re-living the mistakes I made. I listened, took responsibility for my failures and offered to atone and assist in what ever way I could to help build a new foundation for a relationship. The old me would have said "That stuff is in the past! I've changed! Trust me, love me now!" Now, I honestly express my feelings (probably went too fast in expressing them, but it was the first time we talked in a month), looked to her to lead the conversation (the old me would have bossed things around) and I really, truly empathized with her situation. Like my training, I will be dealing with this relationship by accepting current conditions while still working to move things forward. Like not being able to run 3 miles like a gazelle but still getting the miles in a little differently, I won't be running (metaphorically) into open arms (or legs (ha ha)), but I think we made steps toward sharing a cup of coffee or meeting for breakfast (eggs benedict this week, ykw).