Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A Personal Worst (Part Two)...


There was no sunlight, but I saw the suggestion of it in the thinning clouds looming above. I saw the possibility of it.

Maybe this was a portent of things to come. Maybe, this too shall pass. Maybe, the storms would subside.

Everyone loves a comeback. I could comeback. I could be the lion in winter.

It had been awhile since I'd roared, but I thought the roar might still be there. My claws weren't as keen, but I could sharpen them. I was bruised, but not broken.

The words from an ex from the distant past reminded me of something I had forgotten, 'You are a fighter.' I wasn't done fighting yet. I could get back up.

I was still standing. I could still walk. I could even run.

The lion started to growl. It was restless. It was anxious to hunt again.

But, a successful hunt always requires the right strategy. The timing of each strike is critical. Mistime any of them and your prey goes free.

But, the road is no ordinary prey. The road is very much a predator itself. I knew I could never really beat the road. But, I wouldn't let it beat me today. 

It would never forget me. It would feel my wrath. It would bleed. It would remember me.

I wasn’t capable of a personal best today. But, I could still do something I had never done before. I could attack the last 10K.

I would bare my fangs. I would roar. I would unleash the beast. As it so happened, this was the word emblazoned on my shirt that day. I was a beast.

The beast had been chained and caged up deep inside for far too long. He was a potent mix of self-loathing, sadness, disappointment, and rage. He was eager for a kill.

The beast needed to be kept on a short leash. He could kick ass or just as easily get your ass kicked. I knew I could get the former if I played my cards right.

I had a sense of how hard and how fast I could go. It was about 20 miles. Then, I would need some help for the rest.

The rest would take me about 30 minutes, maybe less if I was lucky. The 'beast' could handle 30 minutes. This could get me to the finish line.

Mile 20 arrived. I had subsumed the darkness for 20 miles. I had bottled it up for much longer. It was time for release.

I didn't unleash the beast yet. But, I loosened the leash. The beast growled, snarled, and snapped hungrily. I smiled darkly.

All in due time. You will hunt soon. You will get your kill.

I dug into the well. I didn't have to dig deep. It all came spilling out.

The disappointment came. The sadness washed over. The rage raged.

It was a volatile and dangerous cocktail. I growled audibly. I got a few uncomfortable looks from those running next to me. I smiled back.

They had nothing to fear, unless they crossed me. None of them looked like they would. I am sure I looked crazy.

There was little doubt I was uncorking it. Every once in a while you have to say, 'What the fuck? Make your move.'

I was making my move. Win or lose, fast or slow, I wanted to do something true to me. Nothing could stop me, but me. This last 10K was all about me.

Most of my days and miles were dedicated to others. Such is the plight of a running coach. The running you do is often not for you. It’s in support of others. 

I’d chosen this path thinking it was a perfect storm of sorts. I’d help others and I’d help myself. But, it didn’t necessarily work that way. 

Few runs were truly my own anymore. But, this one was. These last 6.2 miles were all mine. I wouldn’t be sharing them with anyone. 

Mile 20 rolled by quickly as the beast began to take hold. I was feeling it. But, I was also feeling something else. It was a tightness.

My hamstring was complaining. I had tempted fate by doing this marathon. My grossly abbreviated training cycle had spanned all of six weeks, if that.

I was asking a lot of my body. It was a bad habit of mine. My ‘torpedoes be damned’ approach to training paid dividends, but it also burned me not infrequently.

I grappled with what the next move should be. I just needed a few more miles. I dialed into the tightness. 

I shortened my stride. I lengthened my stride. I ran a self-diagnostic to come up with some kind of prognosis.

It seemed to be holding. The tightness didn't seem to worsen when I adjusted my stride. But, how much more could it take?

I had no idea. It could lock up entirely in a minute. It might hold for another mile.

I hemmed and hawed. I vacillated. I finally got clarity.

I would talk to my hamstring. I would acknowledge its complaints. I would empathize.

Then, I would ask it very nicely to just hold on for another 30 minutes. I promised to take care of it once we reached the finish line. I begged it to just give me a little bit more.

The hamstring frowned. It gave me an angry glare. Grudgingly, it agreed to try. It was all I could ask.

With the hamstring seemingly placated, it was time to move on. It was time to exorcise the demons. It was time to finish.
 

Thursday, September 08, 2016

A personal worst....


I had six marathons under my belt. Each one had been a beast. But, each one had also been a best.

My streak of personal bests was coming to an end. I knew this as I toed the line for my seventh crack at 26.2. There was no question about it. 

At every previous marathon, I had been at my best. I had known I was in the best shape of life or something close to it. This time was markedly different.

I was far from my best. I could finish a marathon, but I couldn’t expect more than this. I was a shadow of the runner I had been just a year prior.

A year prior, I managed to improve my personal best by two minutes. It wasn’t a huge improvement, but it was still a personal best. It was also a triumphant return to the marathon after I’d been derailed by plantar fasciitis for more than two years.

There was little sense of triumph a year later as I scowled at the dark, angry clouds overhead. It seemed they’d been following me around for quite some time. Very little had gone my way the past few months. 

My tiny business had become mired in a legal battle that generated enormous stress. The plantar fasciitis that had derailed my running three years ago returned with a vengeance. Rounding things out, my girlfriend dumped me unceremoniously.

Nothing had panned out the way I’d hoped. The dark clouds looming overhead resonated for me. I was dark, stormy, and angry. 

While a personal best wasn’t possible given the feeble state of my running the past few months, there was still something to be done over the course of 26.2 miles. I had demons to exorcise.

A coach told me once I ran angry. He was right. I always ran well with a chip on my shoulder. The chip was never larger than it was that morning. 

I’d exorcise some of the demons and the darkness that hung over me, maybe all of it.

I rolled back my shoulders. I took a few deep breaths. I stretched nervously. The clouds rumbled overhead. A storm was coming.

The gun fired and the exorcism began. I wasn’t sure if 26.2 miles would be enough to exorcise everything. But, nothing else had worked thus far.

Running was always my go to place whenever something went awry. The act calmed and cleansed me. I was in need of both. 

I worked to keep the dark emotions from creeping in the first few miles. They would do me no good early. The frustration, the disappointment, the sadness, the anger, all of it would be useful later.

Still, some unpleasant thoughts crept in. They slithered to the front of my mind. What had I done so wrong? What had I done to incur such a shitstorm? Why does life always have a tendency to hit you so hard when you're down?

There were no answers. So, I ran. At least running makes you feel like you are moving forward. Brooding over unanswerable questions never does.

The battle between the nagging, unhelpful questions and the effort to quiet them lasted for a few miles. 6 miles in, the mind was quiet. I hit my stride. 

It wasn't the runner's high, but it was close. I tried to lose myself in the act. 

Spend as little time in contact with the ground. Breathe in. Breathe out. Expend as little as possible. Rinse and repeat. 

Some people wonder why I run. It's hard. It hurts. 

They are right to wonder. Running is really hard even when you are really good at it. Often, it just hurts. 

But, then the moment arrives. It could be the runner's high. It could be divine intervention. Suddenly, the hard and the hurt don't matter. 

All that matters is the mile in front of you. It's a perfect wave. You have to seize it.

You don't know when it is going to end. You don't want it to. So, you ride it.

If you're lucky, it lasts longer than a mile. If you're extraordinarily lucky, it gets you all the way to the finish line.

I didn't care how long this moment would last. I was just so tired of feeling crappy. I was thrilled to have a minute or a mile of feeling good again.

I had begun to wonder lately if that's really all one could hope for--fleeting moments of happiness surrounded largely by dark, damaging storms. I had weathered too many of them as of late.

Happiness had been hard to come by the past few months. Stress had become me. It was a dark place.

Running had been the only place where I could find even brief, fleeting, ephemeral moments of happiness and a vague hint of hope the past few months. I deserved a bit of it on race day. I earned it.

A few miles later, the dark clouds overhead began to thin and break apart. I was halfway there. 13.1 miles remained.

To be continued....

Friday, May 13, 2016

Epic Run 6ish Miles-05/14/2016

We'll get things rolling with an easy 1/2 mile warmup run to Julius Kahn Park from A Runner's Mind (3575 Sacramento St) and we'll do some range of motion drills with Revision Athletics in the park before starting the run.
 
Here's a link to the course map....
 
Epic Run Course Map 6ish Miles

Epic Run Printable Cheat Sheet/TBT Directions

Here's a description of said course..


-Launch from Julius Kahn Park. Follow dirt trail towards Arguello. Turn right on Arguello.   
-Shortly after turning right you will cross the street and veer left onto Bay Area Ridge Trail.  
-Continue on Bay Area Ridge Trail (Look for signs and flour markings). 
-You'll follow Bay Area Ridge Trail to Park Avenue/Amatury Loop.
-You'll follow Bay Area Ridge Trail across Park Avenue. Roughly a 1/4 mile later look for flour markings on your RIGHT and continue following Bay Area Ridge Trail to Rob Hill Campground (it will be on your left).
-Run through the parking lot of Rob Hill Campground and turn LEFT and the end of the parking lot onto Washington.
-Run along Washington for 1/10th of a mile and cross over to Immigrant Point Overlook for an EPIC view! At Immigrant Point Overlook take steps down to Lincoln Blvd.
-Cross Lincoln Blvd. Join Battery to Bluffs Trail and follow trail until you reach the top of the stairs that are adjacent to Lincoln.
-Turn around here and head back through Rob Hill Campground onto Bay Area Ridge Trail until you reach Park/Amatury Loop.
-Head LEFT and follow Park Trail downhill. Look for flour markings. Follow Park Trail until you reach the intersection of Lincoln/McDowell.
-Turn around and head back up Lincoln/McDowell.

-Once you crest the hill (at Park/Amatury Loop), turn LEFT onto Bay Area Ridge Trail and head back to Julius Kahn.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Saturday Recovery Run @ PSOAS (3-6 miles)-06/18/16

Saturday's recovery run launches at PSOAS Massage/Bodywork at 333 3rd Street between Folsom/Harrison.

If you need to use the restroom, change, and/or store some personal items, head up to PSOAS in Suite 205.

Here's a link to the course map-

Saturday's Run Course Map.

Here is a brief description of the course:

We will cross Folsom from 3rd Street onto the sidewalk and take a right. We will run along Folsom all the way to the Embarcadero. We will cross the street and take a left onto the Embarcadero.

Run along the Embarcadero past the Ferry Building. Look for the street sign for ‘GREEN’. This is a hair over 1.5 miles. Beginner runners turn around here and head back for 3 miles!

Continue running along the Embarcadero. Look for the Hillstone Restaurant on the LEFT side of the Embarcadero at Embarcadero/Bay. This is 2 miles. Intermediate runners turn around here and head back for 4 miles!

Continue running along the Embarcadero until it turns into ‘Jefferson’. Run along Jefferson to the intersection of Jefferson/Powell. Look for the CVS drugstore on the left. This is 2.5 miles. Advanced runners turn around here and head back for 5 miles!

Run through Fisherman’s Wharf right to the edge of Aquatic Park. Once you reach the cul-de-sac at the edge of Fisherman’s Wharf/Aquatic Park, you’ve logged 3 miles. Race level runners turn around and head back to PSOAS for 6 MILES!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

I run because of the small things....

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I have a mound of unread emails. Countless text messages pile up. The list of to do's is daunting.
 
I should address all of them. All of them are high priority. Running is the last thing I should be doing.
 
But, I lace up the shoes and go. I create space between everything and me. None of the aforementioned can follow me.
 
Thoughts of the undone items rattle around. I pick up the pace. My labored breathing silences them.
 
A brilliant blue sky surrounds me. The blindingly white clouds awe. The sun shines brightly radiating heat.
 
I am not saving lives. No one is going to die if I delay responding to my texts. No lives will be lost if the to do list doesn't shrink.
 
Surely, there are more emails accumulating in my inbox. Undoubtedly, a voicemail has arrived. I press on uphill.
 
The sweat pours out of me. Accompanying it are the worries, doubts, and fears. The voices chiding me for leaving it all behind are faint.
 
Rome wasn't built in a day nor was it lost in a day. What I have built will still be there when I return. I will be as well.
 
I crest the hill and am blessed with a view that nearly brings me to tears. I am so small. The universe is so huge.
 
I am reminded how little I am in the grand scheme of things. It is a welcome humbling. I run on.
 
It's not the size of the dog, but the size of the fight in the dog. As small as I might be, I've got plenty of fight in me. I snarl and carry on.
 
Stay the course. Relax and focus. This too shall pass.
 
My go to mantras never fail. My breathing calms. My strides even.
 
I won't be overwhelmed. The small things won’t fell me. All of the things that got me out here are small.
 
The road stretches on and the small things become smaller. The things I sweat aren't even real. They aren't tangible.
 
They may slow me down. But, they can't stop me. I won't let them.
 
I won't allow them to keep up. I surge again asking my legs to turn faster. They comply.
 
I put a gap on them. Small and frail, they wheeze and gasp behind me. They are fading.
 
I smile to myself as I shift up one more gear. I really put the hurt on them. I obliterate any hope they have of catching me.
 
They might be done, but I'm not. I still have a few miles to go. I want to relish this one.
 
My stride relaxes. My mind quiets. The flow washes over me.
 
I lose myself. The road rolls by unnoticed. No effort is expended. The day is mine.
 
The large things loom ahead. But, they are few. They might fell me, but not today.
 
Today, I move forward. Today, I put the small things behind me.

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Saturday Long Run (04/09/16, 8-12 miles).

We'll get things rolling with an easy 1/4 mile (approx) warmup run to Jordan Ave.  

We'll segue into some range of motion drills and then continue with our run towards Golden Gate Park!
 
Here's a link to the course map....
 
Saturday ARM Long Run Course Map


Here's a description of said course...


-Launch from A Runner's Mind. Turn LEFT on Cherry across California Street and continue onto Jordan Ave. Look for chalk arrows/markings.
-Continue on Jordan Ave. to Geary. Take a 'slight' left and run across Geary on Stanyan St.

-Follow Stanyan to the intersection of JFK/Stanyan (big, controlled intersection with stoplights)
-Turn RIGHT on JFK and continue running into Golden Gate Park. This is just under 1.5 miles into the run. 
-Continue running through Golden Gate Park until you run under the overpass and reach the intersection of JFK/Transverse. This is a controlled intersection (four way stop). This is 3 miles. Continue running along JFK to JFK/Transverse. Move over to the LEFT side of JFK. 
-1/2 a mile later you will reach the intersection of JFK/Chain of Lakes Drive East. This is FOUR miles. Beginner runners will turn around here and head back to A Runner's Mind for 8 MILES!
-Everyone else will run through this intersection and continue on the left side of JFK until you reach a T-intersection.
-Run through the pedestrian crosswalk and turn RIGHT to continue on JFK (you will be on the dirt path on the LEFT of JFK) until you reach the parking lot area for the BEACH CHALET SOCCER FIELDS ON YOUR LEFT. There is a sign here for your visual cue. Look for a 'RC 9' in chalk. This is 4.5 miles. Intermediate level runners will turn around here and head back to A Runner's Mind for 9 MILES!
-All other runners will continue on JFK towards the Great Highway. Turn LEFT on the Great Highway until you reach the Beach Chalet. Advanced level runners will turn around here and head back to A Runner's Mind for TEN MILES!
-Race level runners will continue along the Great Highway.
-Race level runners will continue running along the Great Highway until you reach the intersection of Great Highway and Lawton. Look for a 'RC12' and turn around and head back to A Runner's Mind for TWELVE MILES! 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Saturday's Recovery Run (3/26/16)

Saturday's recovery run launches at PSOAS Massage/Bodywork at 333 3rd Street between Folsom/Harrison.

If you need to use the restroom, change, and/or store some personal items, head up to PSOAS in Suite 205.

Here's a link to the course map-

Saturday's Recovery Run Course Map.

Here is a brief description of the course:

We will cross Folsom from 3rd Street onto the sidewalk and take a right. We will run along Folsom all the way to the Embarcadero. We will cross the street and take a left onto the Embarcadero.

Run along the Embarcadero past the Ferry Building. Look for the street sign for ‘GREEN’. This is a hair over 1.5 miles. Beginner runners turn around here and head back for 3 miles!

Continue running along the Embarcadero. Look for the Hillstone Restaurant on the LEFT side of the Embarcadero at Embarcadero/Bay. This is 2 miles. Intermediate runners turn around here and head back for 4 miles!

Continue running along the Embarcadero until it turns into ‘Jefferson’. Run along Jefferson to the intersection of Jefferson/Powell. Look for the CVS drugstore on the left. This is 2.5 miles. Advanced runners turn around here and head back for 5 miles!

Run through Fisherman’s Wharf right to the edge of Aquatic Park. Once you reach the cul-de-sac at the edge of Fisherman’s Wharf/Aquatic Park, you’ve logged 3 miles. Race level runners turn around and head back to PSOAS for 6 MILES!