Inspired Again

Nothing bad has ever come from tacos and beer.  Last night the wife and I invited a fellow runner and new(ish) acquaintance over for some grilled chicken tacos and Stoneface IPAs.  I recently met Chris at our local coffee shop that we’ve both frequented for years.  After one of the baristas mentioned that Chris was an ultra-runner, I spat out my social awkwardness and introduced myself.  A week later, I was chasing him and his running partner up some hills in Marlborough and last night we broke bread tacos together.  Through all the reading I’ve done about trail running and all the videos that speak to the community, I’m becoming more and more convinced that it’s not bullshit.  They are some of the most welcoming and gracious folks I’ve met since starting this experiment about 10 months ago.  After just a few days, Chris had invited me on a run and never made it seem weird that I was there with them on the trail.  I consider myself a complete newbie to the sport and am still in the stage of laying low and watching the grownups do their thing.  Running with, or mostly behind, Chris and Keith, without being made to feel like I was holding them back, gives testament to the philanthropy of the trail running community.

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Yesterday was a truly beautiful spring day and it happened right when we needed it.  This winter was an especially cold and depressing season so the sunny, 70° weather yesterday was incredibly renewing.  After chowing, we all sat on the porch and chatted about some of Chris’s races and experiences on the trail.  He was gracious in answering what must have been child-like questions and took the time to tell some stories and have some laughs.  I woke up this morning inspired to hit the webs again with this little blog.  I have to remember that as new to this sport as I am, there is always someone who is newer than me.  My hope is that I’m able to pass whatever little bit of knowledge I have, down the line to the next person who will eventually do the same.

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On to a bit of a training update.  My first marathon is coming up in less then two weeks and I am at the point in my schedule where my weekly miles are shortening.  Last week I hit 40, but this week will be considerably less, probably somewhere in the mid 20s.  I’m still not sold on the whole taper thing, but I vowed to stick to the plan, and it’s been going well so far.  After Sunday’s 13 miler, I had a bit of soreness in my right knee, but nothing serious.  I’m hoping the let-up in miles will set my legs up for a smooth race, but who knows really.  Sure as shit, not me.  What I do know is that I’m still enjoying the run, the trails are thawing out, and if I was able to kick through 18 miles of knee deep snow, I can at least creep through 26.2 miles of trails.

Clarence DeMar Half Marathon

*NOTE – This race was so huge for me that I’m splitting the post up into 2 parts.  It’s already a wall of text and I’d like to keep the TLDR to a minimum.

What a crazy summer.  Seriously weird for me to think that in May, I weighed 220 pounds and wasn’t able to run 2 miles.  Here’s a quick recap for my summer of running.

  • May 16 – I ran/walked 1.75 miles in 18 minutes.
  • June 16 – Doctor visit, weight = 220 lbs, received prescription for a rescue inhaler.
  • June 28 – I ran 4.5 miles (first time I ran more than 3 miles – 10 min/mile pace).
  • July 11 – I bought first pair of running shoes in 15 years.  Weight 204 lbs.
  • July 19 – I ran with my sister for the first time.
  • July 21 – I picked a 5K race and started a training plan.
  • August 12 – I TURNED 38!  weight 195 – current pace 9:22 min/mile
  • August 16 – Hit 7 miles on my long run.  First time running 10K+.
  • August 23 – First official race.  I ran with my sister at her pace. 5K (3.33 miles) 29:41.
  • September 7 – My first race running for a PR.  I was looking to finish in under 25 minutes and did!  Barely, 24:58!  My major goal for the year was met.  Anything else is frosting.
  • September 12 – First 10 mile run.  The first 3 miles were through a fantastic trail I found.
  • September 18 – First half marathon distance (actually 14 miles).  I was so surprised that I did the first 13.1 in under 2 hours.  Total time for run was 2:05:45.
  • September 22 – Got it stuck in my craw that I want to run a half marathon the upcoming weekend.
  • September 26 – After 6 beers worth of courage, I emailed my boss to see if he would sponsor me in the inaugural Clarence DeMar half marathon.  He agreed to put up the registration fee (more on him later).
  • September 28 – Clarence DeMar Half Marathon.  After a little more then 4 months of running, I complete my first half marathon in 1:57:13.

As I write this, I’m looking over training logs, reading splits and remembering the fun I had getting to where I am now.  Seriously though, after I ran the 5K in Manchester on the 7th of this month, I’ve kind of just been winging it.  I wanted to run trails, so I found some trails.  I pushed a 5 miler into a 10, because I felt good.  I tried to run 6.2 miles as fast as I could.  I wondered if I could run a half marathon and did.  It almost seems like my running has been split into 2 sections, everything leading up to September 7th, and everything after.

I originally planned on running a half marathon next spring.  I figured that I’d have plenty of time to train and prepare for the race.  Something odd happened though after I ran the 5K in Manchester.  I wasn’t on a training plan anymore and had nothing telling me what I was supposed to be running.  I was real hesitant to run any trails leading up to the 5K in fear of wrecking my ankles.  After the race I figured, fuck it, it’s where I want to run and I should just be careful and if I hurt myself I’ll get better.  I was so focused on performing well in the 5K that I didn’t really see the bigger picture of my running, and that’s ok.  It’s absolutely where I needed to be to build a good foundation.

When I “accidentally” ran 10 miles for the first time I thought, holy crap, I can go further.  I might be able to hit a half marathon sooner than originally thought, and after I ran my 14 miler I thought, jesus man, you can run this distance now!  The week leading up to the DeMar half was such an odd trip.  I didn’t really think about running the race until I was chatting with some other parents while waiting for our kids to get done with dance classes last Saturday.  We were talking about how a couple of them were going to run the first Clarence DeMar half marathon the following Sunday.  This was the 37th marathon, but the first year that they included a half.  I was excited for them, truly, but had no thoughts of running it myself.  Even after completing a 14 miler a few days earlier.  It never really sank in that I could run the distance already until one of the mothers suggested it.  “You’re going to run your long run this weekend anyway, why not run the half?”

Fuck.

If that didn’t really just strike against my brain with a serious, and nearly depressing, resonance.  For the next 5-6 days, this race was all I could think about.  It’s kind of an embarrassing point, but the only reason I didn’t run right out and register for the race is that we’ve been budgeting so tightly lately to try and kill all of our debt and we didn’t have an extra 70 bucks lying around for the registration.  I mean, it’s not that we don’t have 70 dollars, it’s just that most of our cash is budgeted to try and get ourselves all square with the man.  Whatever the case, the registration fee was my real hurdle.  The wife told me to do it, but I was having a hard time pulling the trigger without feeling guilty.  It wouldn’t have been such a big deal, but this was the first DeMar half marathon and I really wanted to be a part of it.  It was totally turning me into a depressed teenager.  Finally, on Friday night, the kid was already asleep and the wife was working late, I drank a half dozen Harpoon Octoberfests and thought, what the eff, let’s see if the owner of the business I work for would be interested in putting up the dough for me to run.  We have a printing business on site and I could wear a tech shirt with some ads for the store.  I sent the email and kind of just let it go.  No more than 5 minutes later I received a response telling me that it would be fantastic to help.  I almost, kinda teared up a little.  I’m not going to get into the details of the email, but it was touching and meant much to me.

So now I only have to run the race…

I showed up at the runner registration on Saturday and picked up my race bag (all out of shirts, so I’ll get mine in the mail soon).  Remember, I didn’t know I was running the race until the night before.  I’m almost glad I didn’t have more time to mull it over in my head.  All I knew was that my legs were fresh, I was excited for the race and I’ve run the distance before.  That being said, I had a bitch of a time falling asleep on Saturday.  I went to bed around 10, but didn’t fall asleep until almost midnight.  I kind of figure that’s what it’ll be like until I run more races and get used to the jitters.