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marathon

Post marathon…what’s next?

Now I’ve done three marathons. Two completed, one DNF. (Did not finish) With this last year I  was an assistant coach for the Yellow running group for Houston FIT. I’ve had some good experiences with this adventure. The adventure of running a marathon. I’ve come to realize that it is NOT just about the day in which you run the marathon. It is that cliché that they use…it’s about the journey. It is about getting up early on saturday mornings. It’s about making sure you go to bed early on friday night. it’s about being aware of what you eat. it’s about begin dedicated to sticking to the training program, whether you run solo, with a partner or with a group. It is about sacrifice of your free time. But it is also about getting to know your body, through the pain and the growth. I initially started running to meet people and get in better shape. Well I can say now that I’ve done both. I’m in some of the best shape of my life and I have made lots of friends and good acquaintances. I’ve also enjoyed the responsibility of being someone that new people can come and ask questions.
But, I’m not compelled. I’m not compelled to run a marathon in every state. Not compelled to run the legendary Boston or NYC marathons. Or run one on each continent. I improved SIGNIFICANTLY this year over last which is amazing. I do believe I have more room for even more improvement, maybe not as much, but more than just a 5 minute improvement. So for next year, I’m aiming for a sub 4 hr marathon. At this time, I’m not sure I’ll continue to run marathons after that. Because, I’m questioning do I want marathoning to be part of my identity? Is it what I want to spend my free time doing? Planning my vacations around? I can answer both of those with a solid “no”. I know I won’t stop running or doing things to keep healthy, far from it. I just don’t believe that “marathoner” is MY identity. The reason I want to do “just one more” is because I believe that I am almost at the cusp of a maximum level of physical fitness. I want to go there. I believe that many people reach that cusp and then are forever trying to improve and spend a lot of time chasing that improvement. I KNOW I have the room for another large leap of improvement. I want to do that and then move on to the “next” thing. Whatever that may be I don’t know exactly. It won’t be something more harder physically, like a triathlon or ultra run – no cause thats just more of the same training. I’m looking to find something that is more my identity that I can pour my time into. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see where that leads!

Houston 2010 Cheveron Marathon Experience

Yesterday I participated in the Houston 2010 Cheveron Marathon. My third time for Houston. I did pretty well and improved my time significantly over last years time.

2009 – 5hrs 17min
2010 – 4hrs 23min

Not bad eh? That’s a P.R.* in my book! This year’s marathon differed from the two prior in several ways. One of the main differences was my ability to have brought more “awareness” of myself, the run and my surroundings more than I have in the past.

It is without a doubt that my awareness has been heightened lately, partly because of a refocusing on it as witnessed with the latest blog posts here, as well as the recent interactions I’ve been having with my parents and a very nice new young lady I have recently meet. These exposures have been leading to more insight, which I am working out here on the blog.

So what did I noticed this year on the run?

  1. The start song to the second wave was Iron Maiden’s Run To The Hills. Totally rockin’ song, but totally not the best song to start with, except for the lyric refrain of  “Run toooo the Hilllllllllllllllllllllllllllls! Run foooor your LIIIIIIFE!” The song is actually about Native American’s attacking the white settlers. Maybe they were referring to a revival of the KARANKAWA INDIANS to the area?
  2. I was MUCH closer to the start line than I have been in years past. I had expected to take up to 20 mins from gun start to actually crossing the start line! Not so this year, it only took 2 mins.
  3. I was witness to 1 person falling and saw one person already downed. Plus I heard several ambulances AND ran by a patrol officer calling in another! Wow. It was a lot of accidents for perfect running conditions.
  4. Starting closer up to the front had me placed in with lots more people around me while running. This was good and bad. Bad: all the people irritated me. Not at first, but it did get irritating after a while. Especially since I could get my actual run pace at the beginning of the race. I was REALLY looking forward to the Half Marathoner’s turnaround point so the crowd would THIN out. Not so much, because I was running much faster than years prior AND I had started much closer to the start line, I was in the PACK of people. I think the prior years I was so much slower I was simply among the last of the runners! In short, it wasn’t til much further in the race, past the 13 mile mark, did it “thin” out from the people. The Good: Having that many people in the beginning, actually kept me from starting TOO fast in the race. This ends up assisting me to have  the negative split for the race. First half run slower than the later half. I enjoy thinking of myself as the “negative splits man”
  5. I really need to remember, use bathroom before starting the marathon. I don’t think I need to say anything else about this.
  6. It was really great seeing many of the coaches & assistant coaches and friends from HoustonFIT Yellow group out along the course. Running with them or having them cheer me on, friends help out alot! This of course goes without saying how wonderful and supportive it is having my support team of my Mom and Dad out on the course meeting me at the designated meet up spots. They rocked it for me.
  7. 5 G.U.’s and a little bit of some sticky nut trail mix, doesn’t make for a good fuel on the course. BUT I did participate in the weigh in prior to the race and then weighed after the race. Only lost 2 lbs!  I must have been doing SOMETHING right!
  8. I ran this race quite solo. My “training” partner of two years, didn’t run this year and I never really buddied up with anyone from the training group. It was quite lonesome there at the starting line. But it was good. I was focused on “what am I doing” mentally. Still stark comparison from years prior. I wasn’t even with the Yellow group. I think they were behind me at the start line. I dunno, just that I started the race “alone” this year. Not a bad thing, but I definitely noticed it. I think that this was a major reason I was able to notice all these things this year. Not too many distractions.
  9. Speaking of distractions, I was totally expecting to be preoccupied in my thinking about a person, but ended up not as much.  Partly to the forcing of my surroundings, but also because of an article I had read the night before about Managing Stress Through Mindfulness by Catherine R. Barber, PhD. In the article it talked about being in the present moment with the activity at hand. Maybe it’s because I was running, but it was actually kinda hard to be lost in my thoughts outside of the marathon! 4 1/2 hrs of mindfulness!
  10. I noticed when I really “dropped the hammer” on the running around mile 18. My vision focused and I became much more singleminded about my running form. I began to take more much narrowed attention to my actual running. People around me had less focus, although it was during these last 8 miles I saw the most people I know!

All in all, juicy stuff. Certainly a memorable Marathon. I am certainly thinking about running it again. But after that, I’m not so sure. I feel like I have a sub 4 hr marathon in me. With a running program that carries me through out ALL year long, I’m sure that next year this will be possible, bar any accidents or injuries. The question is, after that, what next? I don’t think the next level of physical challenge is what I will really be looking for. Not sure where this will lead me.

* P.R. = Personal Record

View from the table…

I dunno if that the eating from the table has been so much of the stimulus for thought or if conversations I’ve been having have been. Most of the conversation has been almost like a therapy session like experience, although it seems to have this intellictual sense about it to me vs an emotional one.

So the marathon is coming up this weekend. I’ve been training for 26 weeks and this will be my third. Two things have become clear in the last 4 weeks around this:

  1. Accepting the label that I am an athlete
  2. Asking for help from others

The first came about while writing my profile for a dating site called Plenty Of Fish. In the part where you write about yourself I had written runner. After a couple of days on the site, I found a forum on there and saw some more tips on how to improve your profile and what to do and not to do on it. It was then upon tweeking and improving the profile over the next couple of weeks that it slowly dawned on me that I AM an athlete. It was a label that I haven’t seen on ME. One I hadn’t been ready to accept. When people would ask what I do, I’d just say I run a little and train for marathons. But not much… and just sort of poo-poo the whole thing. But once I accepted that label and started to think about what it meant, there is no doubt that I am an athlete. I’ve got a whole chest of drawers of JUST EXERCISE CLOTHES. I have trained for 9 months out of 12 for the last 3 years. I am focused on my workouts. I keep awareness about what I eat, cause I know it affects my workouts. etc. etc. My intensity of working out, my stick to it-ness, despite injuries and setbacks, and finally this year my leaps and bounds of improvement, all clearly say, ATHLETE. I started the running as a way to “see hotties” <chuckle> and get thinner and more fit. This morning while getting dressed I noticed my body in the mirror. [funny how we don’t see ourselves…] And I’m am looking pretty darned good! Not bulked out, but lean.  And my weight has been really good without me having to be too conscious about it. Was surprised to see myself 151lb last night. I was 156 last week. Kinda of amazing considering that we JUST had the holidays where eating is often out of control. Although I have to admit, mine was pretty good this year. Wasn’t even really trying… But enough. I have accomploshied a goal of getting thinner easily enough and now have entered into a new lifestyle that has brought me greater satisfaction and enjoyment than I thought when I embarked on my first run.

So the second part, accepting help, came about when i was realizing my reluctance to sit down and write out the instructions to my support group (my parents) on where to meet me on the race route for the marathon. I’ve basically have put it off this the week of the marathon. I finally sent out the instructions last night! Four days before the marathon and TWO days AFTER I had promised them I would get them the instructions! Plus there are a few more instructions to go over once I get to their house the night before the race. So what is it about asking for help from people, even my parents, that I am reluctant to do? This behavior is one I have acknowledge before in my Warriors group. Interesting this is that once I identified and said it out loud, I was very quickly able to get about that business and take care of it! A little psycho analysis kind of reveals to myself…. a young boy who felt out of place with his family. Not necessarily, not loved, but just one who felt like a stranger. As if no one “got” him. I think it was thinking like that, that directed me to “take care of things myself”. We could also say that my parents were so busy with their careers, they didn’t pay enough attention to a young boy who had a harder time expressing himself. But that is a easy out explanation.

New decade & new stuff…

New stuff…

Lots of new things percolating for me:

BIG stuff
1) It’s a new decade. Happy New Year!
2) Houston Marathon is coming up next weekend. I plan on rocking it.
3) MS150 training is about to start. Can’t wait!
4) I’m going to Detroit for the Movement Electronic Music Festival in May.
5) I’m setting up plans for running the Half Marathon in Medellín, Colombia in September.
6) I’ve started dating again.

Smaller
a) Going to try to not eat in front of the computer in the mornings. I don’t want to be automatic with my eating.

Lots and lots of stuff. #6 right now has given me the most buzz. I’ve been doing things differently and it has been working out well for me. I don’t want to say too much about it right now, cause it’s in it’s infancy and I feel like if I talk or think about it too much, I’ll spoil it. But I will say, I’m having a blast!

That #a came out from a discussion with a woman about personal development. We had been talking a bit about food and cooking. It’s an exercise to see how I can bring a little bit of morning awareness to my eating. I normally eat in front of the computer and read blogs and what not. One of my current issues is that my new place I’m living in, while it is habitable, it is not company comfortable. Meaning, I ain’t going to be having people over to hang out. It’s not set up for that just yet. So another reason I’m beginning to see why I want to do this exercise is to bring my attention to the deficiency of the comfort of my place. Hopefully modivating me to working on making it better. I can tell straight up, I need to find a replacement hanging lamp for the dining room. MORE LIGHT!

Houston Cheveron Marathon

Yup. Finished it. Been about a week now. 5 hrs and 17mins. Not bad and I finished strong too. Check the video, I’m about 14 secs in with the yellow shirt and blue hat on the right side:

Finisher!

Finisher!

That was a great moment. Especially considering the trouble I had the last 5 weeks with my IT Band. The run was tough and painful, but no so bad as to stop me this year. Last year I had to quit after 12.5 miles. Very frustrating. This year I made it all the way. 5 hrs, 17 min, 14 sec. Next up is the MS150.