Table of Marathons

11 MCM (not for time) 11 Wineglass (950/1442)
10 MCM (not for time) 09 MCM (348/1076)
09 Washington's Birthday Marathon (22/44) 08 MC Historic Half (51/210)
07 Frederick Marathon (32/60) 06 MCM (394/1076)
05 MCM (547/1047)

Saturday, September 2, 2017

9/2 Body

Epictetus tells us that our bodies are not within our control, that they are not part of the selves we control. To ensure peace of mind, we must not overly covet it. For peace of mind, we must focus on and value what we truly control: our mind, our "self".

As an engineer, my profession has been primarily based on the performance of my mind. While a young student, I loved to learn, but I was often weak at execution, weak at performance. After the Marines, I became better at execution. This skill got me into and through engineering school. Mental execution and performance has served me well as an engineer. These have been functions of my mind. However, the Marines, with its emphasis on performance of body, gave me experience with performance of body. In many ways, the Corps taught me the euphemism: where the mind goes, the body follows. For most of my subsequent life, I made my living though performance of mind, to the detriment of my body. Late in my life, I was given an ultimatum: pay attention to performance of body or permanently undermine my health. I refocused on the simplicity and austerity that I learned in the Corps and focused once again on performance of my body. As I entered my fifth decade, I discovered how much my new focus improved my quality of life. The return on investment seems to have no ceiling.

I understand that, ultimately, body is not within my control.

Three weeks ago, I took a week off from running and lifting to travel to the Colorado high country. The choice was easy. We live at 27 feet. Denise and I spent all of our time above 5,000 feet, and a large part of it above 6500 to 11,000 feet. We hiked, but running would have been stupid. The next week we returned home and I started usual running and lifting. Sunday, however, I caught my foot under a barbell and gave myself a nasty bruise that knocked me out of running for a week.

This last week, I did four of my six weight work out, but have not run in a week because of my bruise.

I'm astonished at how much my sense of well being imploded when I miss two of three weeks of running. When I stop and think about who I am, I realize how much running defines my life....and the hole it leaves when it's not there. Epictetus tells me that I should not overly value my performance of body. But it is so fundamental to health of mind and body. Basic health is not sufficient. I could never accept the dishonor of  succumbing to the myriad lifestyle diseases that arise from our seduction by the self-indulgent society we have built around us. Basic health is not enough; I have to at least try to live my years with a bit of elan, both physical and mental.

Epictetus warns me not to overly value things beyond my control. How do I balance this truth with the truth in Juvenal's "orandum est ut sit mens sana in corpore sano"?

8 miles today.

Friday, August 25, 2017

8/24/2017

I woke up to a steady rain this morning. It picked up as I got ready to take Peanut out. Normally, 67 F in the rain feels good on a run, but as the water hit my bare skin, it completely eroded my mental will and desire to run. Peanut and I both decided we wanted no part of it. Normally I embrace a gentle rain, but not this morning.  As the drops fell, we both shrank away, as if we'd melt. I expect this in the chihuahua. But pride should prevent it in me, but not this morning. I shrank back and cancelled.

45 minutes later, the skies had mostly cleared. By then, it was 4:30 AM, too late for my full run. Somewhere in my mind, I gathered the energy, the sense of need, to get out there for at least 4 miles. Training is an imperative. There really is not an alternative. I thought of my logs and charts that would go without new entries if I failed to go out.

The morning was actually quite wonderful. Running in the cool night air smelling the scent of the newly fallen rain on the grass was refreshing.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Week 24: Challenges


 My mind struggled on my long run this morning. The humidity seemed to sap my will and, with it, the strength in my legs. I understand well that where the mind cannot go, the body has no hope of going, but I plodded on. My psychology has a strange inversion from what I would expect. The first miles are a listless challenge. When going long, the goal seems so far away when I'm in single digits. But, as I pass ten, with the sun rise and my body wakening in its circadian rhythm, my attitude, energy, and pace elevate. Mile 19 may not feel as good as mile 1 was numb, but it is often at a pace that is 2 or 3 minutes faster. Today, the weather certainly did not help. As the morning sun burned off the fog, the heat index went from 71F to 87F. 

My mind struggled this morning....but the struggle is good. Each time you overcome the inertia, you grow. Each time it defeats you, the humiliation of the memory is fuel to overcome it the future. The one thing I cannot allow is to live in an air conditioned bubble, far from the cycles of the sun and the summer and all the life that lives within and by it.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Phases and Faces

The moon is at 99.4% this morning. We're going to lose the firmament lights for a few days, but tonight they are on full display. I turned off my head torch as Denise and I ran the trails; we could see quite easily by just the moon light that illuminated the woods around us. Jupiter and Spica accompany the moon as they make their glowing paths across the clear predawn sky.

The phases and faces of the moon are still another reason why I run.

5.4 miles, 21 F.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Slow Build

11.5 miles / 0830/ 50 F

It is hard to build miles on only 4 days' running per week. This morning, I had my slice of bread and peanut butter too quickly and to late relative my run start. It sat like a lump in my stomach for the first 6 or 7 miles. The blood used digesting my food drained my legs and I could only manage the first miles at a roughly 13 minute pace.

I did not run a harder 5K at tempo pace this weekend. I was surprised how it affected my legs early during the week. I couldn't do any leg strength training until Friday.

That's the dichotomy I constantly balance....running as opposed to strength training. During the fall, I switched back to a 3 weight days per week routine and dropped my running from 5 days to 4. After months of no progress, I'm seeing improvements in both repetitions and weight used, as well as appearance. But it is a mistake to consider weight training as narcissism. The strength training, along faster speed running, both build muscle. This strength translates directly into more efficient, injury-free running. More importantly, it also directly impacts my quality of life. In the age cohort from 10 years younger than me to 5 years older, since I started running, there have been two strokes, one debilitating cerebral aneurysm - he is in his 40s, 3 pace maker insertions - one to someone in his 40s, and 3 people with some combination of hip and or knee replacements. I do not believe I won the lottery of good health through genetics. My 3 uncles  all had cardiovascular disease, perishing between the ages of 41 and 85. My mom and her sisters all died of cancer, the earliest to perish was my mom at age 61. Denise and I seem to have fallen into a parallel universe of slow aging. We're even graying more slowly than our cohorts. The library of scientific research conclusively shows the positive relationship between exercise, particularly intense exercise, and lowered metabolic syndrome, improved immune system response, lower cancer rates, lower CVDs of all types, improved gut bacteria profile, and greater morbidity-free longevity. There is even a correlation between exercise and age-induced chromosome degeneration. Research has demonstrated in studies of identical twins that telomeres of exercising individuals are longer and less degenerated than those of their non-exercising siblings. This is significant because there is much research suggesting that aging is in part due to a build up of chromosomal errors made during cell reproduction.

The effects of getting up at 3:30 AM and hitting the pavement by 4:15 AM in running shoes or pumping in the gym are profound: striving to look like Discobolus or Diana not only improves one's aesthetic, it is profoundly healthy.


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Fitfull Moon

4 AM. | 4.1 miles | temp: 36 F. | wind chill: 27 F

Last night's full super moon is still high, being fitfully covered by at least two layers of clouds rushing by. The lower layer is thinner and moving more quickly. When it opens, you can see the moon, almost perfectly round, being partially obscured by darker, higher, slower clouds. Its quite a sight.

Legs and low back a little tired from yesterday's dead lifts and squats.

Time to go running.

By 4:15, the winds had blown the sky to a clear black, with only the moon and a few stars visible. I turned off my headlamp as we ran across the commons. We ran in the bright, cold, light, able to see the trail and everything around us quite well. It wasn't what comes to mind when I hear the words "dancing in the moonlight" sung, but rewarding enough.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Damned Inconsistent

7.0 miles / 0800 / 31 F

I've been running fairly well this year, but have been damned inconsistent. I've hit 40, 45 mile weeks fairly easily, but not been able to hold at that distance for subsequent weeks. Mental challenges have gotten in the way. First came the realization that I will be 61; I never planned to be 61. Then came the realization that I have perhaps as few as 6 years remaining in my career; I've always had a long term professional plan, now there is no long term. Finally the shock that a candidate who openly embraced bigotry could become president of the United States. I'm letting negative thoughts my training cycles. It prevented me from getting into true marathon fitness this year.

The run liberates. It is a stunning cloudless, bright, Maryland fall day. This was a mindless, mindful run. No deep thoughts, no delighted pondering the Jupiter's rise over the horizon. I just ran because that's what I do, to relish the fact that I easily run my standard 7 miles, today made more easy by the beautiful weather. I also ran because I missed my Thursday run and could not permit the inertia to grow into something out of hand.

When the mind creeps into dark places, it gets difficult to leave. It can build and drown you in a sea of inertia and mediocrity. Breaking free stops that slide. The next run brings back life. All that matters is making that next run happen.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Stars

0430 7.0 miles. 2.0@Tempo 40 F.  147.8 lbs.

This morning was the first real harbinger of fall. Both Denise and I dressed in warmer gear.

Given all the time we spend under the morning stars, specially in winter, I thought I'd put the time to even better use by re-learning the constellations. I started with Orion, which I remember from childhood. Since it is now above the horizon at 0430, I picked up the constellations immediately below it, Canis Major and Lepus. Denise joined me after a couple of miles and I pointed out our first constellations to memorize. We marveled at Sirius' brightness, the brightest in the sky. At one point, as she finished her run, we paused on the commons to debate the identity of Betelguese.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Compromise

5.5 miles. 70 F. 147.5 lbs.

Denise had an 8 AM meeting today, so I trimmed my runtime a bit. The distance was only 5.5 vice my preferred 7 miles. Every endurance athlete feels that tension between training time and the rest of life's commitments. We are in the last 10 years of our admittedly successful careers and that side of life is lessening in importance in my mind. The astonishing benefits we have both derived from our training seems to magnify every year, particularly as our cohort ages. I don't like impingements on my training; my growing physicality is a goal and benefit in itself. The sensuousness of being soaked in sweat during hill repeats or straining against the implacable descent of a barbell verges on the sensual. The training impacts your body, molding it into something better. It is small wonder that the Spartan youths of both sexes, not given over to silly trite niceties, trained and competed in the nude.

But other responsibilities demand attention. A career is a form of training, if it has been demanding enough. The drive to perform excellently in a career also molds mind and will, both components of body. If it is not hard, then no training, no adaptation can occur. Compromise to improve as many aspects of life as possible, this all lends to the final self-creation that is an individual.

Still, I love the brutal simplicity of sweat and gasping for air as I summit my hill.