Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Moments of Wonder, of Thunder

Last Mile, Boston 2013 (photo by guide Randy Spellman)
A few weeks ago I was seriously considering changing to the half marathon at Charlotte. I was struggling with my longs runs and more than that, down on myself because I have become so slow as gravity engulfs me in the vortex of aging. Usually this does not bother me in that I accept this is the way of life, yet I can feel the inner swift boy struggling against the ropes of time.

After all, Charlotte was planned to be part of my training, not my goal race, so why put myself through the marathon gauntlet if it didn't really matter?


Several things helped bring me to my senses, to know that I would not take the easy out. One was coming to know more about sisters Nicole Gross and Erika Brannock and their mother Carol, and this story, "Portrait of a Rescue."

It all brought to mind the question of what-ifs. What if this would be my last race, how deep the arrow of regret would be if I gave up, gave into my weakness? As I ran down Coleman Blvd on a Sunday I knew I would not give in, I would run the marathon, that I would see the race to its end. That others had lost so much, lives and limbs, and I that I could run at all is one of the many small miracles I have been blessed to witness. There will be no compromise and no defeat.

I will be on that marathon starting line, taking the extra 30 minute head start to make sure I finish if the battle rages on. In my heart I know I cannot fail. I will finish the race. I will fight the good fight.


At moments of wonder, it is easy to avoid small thinking, to entertain thoughts that span the universe, that capture both thunder and tinkle, thick and thin, the near and the far.

- Pi, from "The Life of Pi" (Yann Martel)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

2 Weeks 2 26.2

Hill training
This time in two weeks I hope I will have finished the Charlotte Thunder Road Marathon. I am using this race as training for Boston as it is hilly, nearby, and because my Boston guide and friend Mike Lenhart will be running with Janelle Tuck in her first half marathon.

Janelle and Mike
I have been doing the Ravenel bridge as part of my long run course nearly every week. I also do some hill training on my treadmill with one track session and the rest easy runs. My speed is just terrible right now; I feel I am working hard but my times are dismal. I'm very aware that I have to accept the inevitable reduction of times that comes with age; it does not mean I have to like it. In fact, I think that not-liking part is what drives me to do what I can to mitigate it.

That said, I have been experimenting with run/walk. I started with a two minute walk every mile, but another variation that seems to work better is a 6 minute run with 1 minute walk. I did a 10 mile easy run on Friday and that went so well that I will probably use it at Charlotte


.After much thought I will be taking the early start at Charlotte. This gives me an additional 30 minute cushion should I have issues during the race. I do not think I will need it, but given my challenged marathon race times, nothing is certain especially at this distance.

I am seriously considering taking a leave of absence from marathoning after Boston next year. This is what I wrote to my friend Kelly Luckett:

With some certainty I think 2014 might be my last marathon until I retire. Since my workday is 9 hrs M - Th, I am losing my love for running by having to get it done at certain times, rather than looking forward to doing it. If I run after work it interferes with dinner and I hardly see Jennifer, and getting up at 4 am to get a longer workout in leaves me like a zombie later in the day. As much as I am looking forward to next April, the training is becoming far less fun and I have always enjoyed my training as much or more than my races. It also seems unlikely I will break into the professional ranks. :) Anyhow, I pretty much suck at marathoning (truth, not sour grapes!) and the 5k is more suited to me I think. Also with my knee I should be able to extend my career too. 


I do love testing myself at the marathon distance, but I also like training for 5ks and miss doing the track sessions that are typically shorter and faster. I think by not doing this training the legs and body get accustomed to the slower running and it becomes more difficult to get speed back with age. I know by training and racing the shorter distances that I can run a faster marathon, something that has eluded me since becoming an amputee.

The majority of marathon and long endurance athletes face the balance of life, work, and training. The times that some post is astounding considering in many cases training is far from optimal. The love of running is what allows us to compromise here and there to have that special glory that is standing on the starting line and flying to the finish.

It strikes me many professional athletes retire from running and I cannot wait to retire to focus on my running.

And the sooner the better.