Thursday, April 30, 2009


May is just a day away and two feet of fresh snow now sit on the ground here in Great Falls. Yesterday was wet, sloppy, snowy running day. Put in 15 easy miles yesterday. Today, I will take one run this afternoon. If I am to keep under my week max I need to start easing off a bit towards the end of the week. I am feeling great.

As I said, the system that is now leaving us left us with nearly 2 feet of wet/heavy snow. Branches are down, the streets are sloppy and the city is beautiful. It really is a beautiful sight. Another day in town. Not going out to the school today. Going to spend my day picking up donations for our silent auction this Saturday. A task I have been putting off and dreading for no good reason. It will be nice to have it done.

Two great discoveries yesterday; Slumdog Millionaire and Black Swan Shiraz/merlot blend. Dan recommended the movie and man, it turned out to be a great recommendation. Beautiful filmed, great acting and a really fun story line. Easily the best movie that I have seen this year. The wine? Wonderful. I caught a review of the blend in Wine Spectator last month and thought I would give it a shot (it was the only high rating wine that fell within my price range, 5-8 bucks). A fairly fruity blend with a remarkably smooth finish. Very nice. A great pairing - Slumdog Millionaire and the Black Swan Shiraz/merlot.

Well. That is all. Peace.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Taper Week Update

Great running week. I haven't felt this strong in a long while. I am hesitant to say this, but I will, only because it is true. I am in the best shape of my life. It is nice going into a taper without any lingering injuries or burnout. I feel strong. Shooting for 75-80 miles this week, then 60 next week. Over a foot of snow has fallen over the last day or so in Great Falls. Sounds like it isn't going to let up until tomorrow morning. Crazy. So far...

SU: 13 (3, Ice Breaker+1 easy+9 steady)
M: 9, tempo
T: 12, easy

My weeks leading up to my first race this year... 3) 126 2) 75-80 1) 55-60 (race)
My last taper... 3) 204 2) 160 1) 133 (race)

What a difference. I feel so much stronger this time around. This lower mileage stuff really is working well for me. I am able to better stomach this lower mileage as I mature in my running life and life in general. No hastily run runs this time around. I am listening to my body with a fine-tuned ear, this time around. Also, in addition to my daily 300 crunches, I have added in squats and the difference in my knee recovery is significant. My downhill feels stronger too. I am getting more and more control over myself and the distances that I move. 120-130 is a good training volume for me. At that volume I can run a couple of strong work outs each week. Above 140 I begin to lose the quality of the work outs. Also, time is a factor. Working full-time it is difficult to maintain the grueling schedule of 160+ miles a week. 120-130 is still a challenge, but is palatable, if only for a couple of months. Always learning, I am. It is great.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Ice Breaker 3 Mile Race Report

Well, the Ice Breaker has come and passed, and it seems that a race report is in order.

The weather was less than ideal, but better than terrible. 45 degrees, a cool wind, some cloud cover. After pinning numbers on 15 of the Miner Road Runners, I had a quick pre-race talk and moved towards the starting line. Most of the kids tried to get as close to the front of the pack as possible. There were about 1200 runners in the 3 mile race. Joe and I stayed near the back of the pack, waiting for the gun to go off. After the gun sounded, it took us 2-3 minutes to get to cross the starting line and begin the course. After some convicining, something that Joe is in need of from time to time, I was able to get him to run all of the blue arrows that marked our route. The arrows were anywhere from 50-100 feet long, every couple of blocks. We walked a "jogging pace", as Joe calls it, inbetween our running spurts. Peggy Perry, my supervisor, caught up with us about 1/2 mile into the race. We stayed together, the three of us, for the remainder of the run. So we went, walking (jogging) and running the blue arrows, through mile 1, and up to mile 2. Joe never lost steam. The thought of not finishing never crossed his mind. It was great. He was so determined. We rounded the final bend towards the finish. When the finish banner came into sight, Joe, noticably picked up his pace. The end was near and he knew he had it. We pushed towards the end. Peggy, Joe and I ran the last 100 feet of the run, through the finish line. Our finishing time? 1:03:48. Well actually, that was Joe and my finishing time. Turned out, Peggy beat us, she finished in 1:02 or so. She started the race later than us. Joe's mom was there to greet him at the line and many of the kids were still hanging around to cheer him in. It was a really great moment. Really great. I felt blessed to be a part of it. We had to quickly get our medals and get out of the finishing chute as the milers were just starting to finish. Everything disbanded fairly quickly. The kids left with their families to celebrate and I handed out finishing medals for a bit, before taking off on a lovely Sunday afternoon 10 miler. What a wonderful day. What a wonderful experience. All 15 kids finished. All of them were so proud of themselves and what they had done. It was great.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Week Recap

What an incredible week at work, running, and with relationships. The fire of passion for living is beginning to grow in my again. It has always been burning, but the Lord has been blessing me so much lately, that it has become impossible to pretend, ignore and ultimately follow, the convictions of my heart. I feel like Joah often. Hiding, escaping, making excuses and ending up in the mouth of the great beast, in an effort to alleviate the responsibilities that come with accepting a call. I have been following my calling, but only passively, going through the motions. Lately, I have been feeling more and more convicted about this and thankfully, have been receiving the energy and necessary fervor to act on that conviction. So here I go, on a mission to continue serving the World, or at least MT in a greater capacity, using my skills and abilities - God given - to spread joy and life to those in need. Support. God has blessed, no doubt. It is my duty to bless others and show them the joy that comes from letting go and letting God.

126 miles this week. 12 runs. Well short of my last peak, but still a week that I am really proud of. All of the miles were solid. Rock solid. I felt strong and committed to each and every run. I rued no run this week. I am definitely maturing in my approach to training. Being much more calculated, honest (about pace), and disciplined. No knee problems, leg problems or fueling problems. The wheels stayed on. The recap:

SU: 19 (11+8, moderate)
M: 17 (5+12, easy)
T: 13, steady
W: 21 (6+2+13, easy)
TH: 17 (6+11, easy)
F: 16, tempo (down to sub-6 minute pace
SA: 23 (12+11, moderate)

Tomorrow is the Ice Breaker. I am a little nervous. The weather isn't supposed to be to great (cool, really windy, possible snow). Also, of course I am getting all worked up about my preparations with the kids and am putting more pressure on myself than necessary, most likely. Running club made the front page of the Great Falls Tribune. They ran a great article about the crew. Here is the link...

Hope that everyone is having a great weekend, living in the moment. Happy 28th anniversary to Papa New Guin and Momma Kay, two of this blogs most loyal readers. God bless!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Second Post of the Day

Hate to post twice a day, but I can't help myself. I had an incredible run this afternoon. I saved myself for the afternoon run, and threw down. Went out pretty easy, but was soon feeling great (and effortless) at sub-7 minute pace, and continued to accelerate through the run. By 12 miles I was cruising, at what must have been close to, 6 minute pace. Felt great. I felt really strong and just solid, no nagging aches or pains. Overall, my legs felt equally tired from the work earlier in the week. But nothing out of hand. The wheels didn't fall off. Ended up putting in a 15 mile tempo run with a 1 mile cool down. 

Here is what made it great. It is Friday. Freedom, for one, Friday freedom. The fact that I ran hard with 1-2 pound shoes yesterday (mud caked, comparable to ankle weights). Only a slight breeze today, none of that 20 mph steady wind stuff that I battled all week out in the coulees. Running the roads of great falls was refreshing, just tiny little hills and long stretches to open up. All of these factors came together and God blessed me with a sense of peace on the run. Felt at one with it all, still do. I guess we always can, if we choose to! Yay. Anyways, that is my Friday story. Now I am at the laundromat doing some much needed laundering before the weekend gets too crazy. Time to dry. Peace.


Coming to the end of a season here. Feeling good about that. It feels right. This may be my last 100+ mile week for awhile. The good thing is, it won't be on account of injury or lack of will, but choice. After this week I will be tapering for a 30k trail race May 9th. A taper really isn't necessary with the mileage I have been running, but it will be a good time for me to tweak some things and see what it is like to run on truly fresh legs. Anyways, I am feeling rock solid. This entire week I have run exactly what I planned to, if not more (both distance and intensity). Last night, I ran a super fluid 11 miler after work. I flew, when I could (Giffen road was a mess - pretty sloppy and muddy from the snow and rain that feel all day), and held my pace steady for the duration. 17 miles yesterday. My shoes were caked with mud and my tights and back splattered with crusty loam after the run.

Lately, the prospect of 2 runs a day has become a stressor, not a major one, but enough to disrupt some of my other daily activities. Perfect timing, what with the taper and all, to cut back to 1 a days, with an occasional 2 a day training. 1 a day will be the rule, 2, the exception.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

New Job Butterflies

A good thing just happened. I logged into my Americorps account and saw, for the first time, my two application submissions to potential employers. It gave me butterflies. The good kind. The kind that represent joyful hope for a meaningful future. Prior to that feeling, the reality of the upcoming change was still largely abstract and ambiguous. This is real. I applied for two positions in Missoula. One, working with a High School, studying poverty as it relates to academic performance - using the research to create programs to address the barriers that are limiting the success of those students that come from families in lower income brackets. The second, the position of VISTA leader for the Montana Campus Compact. The more I think about the latter, the more I think I would like to do it and would be good at the job. No doubt, I love working with kids, but I also have a passion for service and engaging my peers in service work. Work in a High School would be good too. I like high schoolers. Anyways, the reality of a change in geography and work elicits feelings of hope, joy and movement in my. The moment is great. My present work is wonderful, but the future, too, is also wonderful.

Wednesday Recap

Big day yesterday, both with running and work. 21 miles total yesterday.

6 in the AM
2 w/running club
13 in the PM

The wind was ferocious yesterday. Battled a 20 mph sustained wind uphill for the first half of the 13 miler yesterday evening. Gusts must have been close to 35 or so. Needless to say, the return trip was relatively effortless.

Running club went great yesterday. Last training day before the Ice Breaker. The kids are ready to finish. A sense of peace came over me as I was moving with Joe yesterday. Everything will be fine. The kids are as ready as they could be. The Great Falls Tribune got wind of running club and came out to document the group. I was interviewed for awhile, then had some of my kids come in to talk with the reporter. The photographer went wild shooting our warm-up game of rainbow tag and pace run on the Miner Trail. It will be interesting to see how the story is printed. The crew is ready for the race! Game on!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mid-week Update

Feeling pretty good, not great, but not terrible. The wheels have not come off yet. Here it is:

SU: 19 (11+8) easy
M: 17 (5+12) easy
T: 13, moderate/hard effort
W: ?, 6+something longer...


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Monday Running

17 miles yesterday. Put in an easy 5 in the morning to loosen up, then went for a really nice and fluid 12 miler after work. Felt like I could have run forever, or at least several miles more, but I stopped as I had met my mileage max. for the day. Today I will keep it at one mid-distance run, 13-15 miles, after school. Feeling great. A bit tired this morning, but nothing unusual. Alright, that is all for now. Peace.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Big Push

This will be my last 120+ mile week for awhile. I am stoked! Races are in sight! 19 miles yesterday. 11 of those miles were in the mountains! yayyyyy. I stopped in the Little Belts on the way home from Bozeman. Found a sweet snowmobile trail that was pretty well packed. Ran 5.5 miles uphill, feeling great. My pace wasn't anything to write home about, but the lack of purchase on the snow made it difficult to do much more than I was. The cruise down was great. My downhill legs feel great. Awesome weather, glorious mountains, and peace of heart - doesn't get much better than that. Back in Great Falls, I went for an 8 miler around town. After this week I will do an honest to goodness taper for my first race, May 9th.

I have decided to postpone my sub-6 hour 50 mile attempt until mid-may. I won't be able to do it this weekend, as planned. Busy weekend coming up, what with the Ice Breaker and all. Anyways, I am ready to hit one last hard week of training. Peace.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sat. Day Recap

Great day yesterday. Awesome day yesterday. Long day yesterday.

57 or so miles last week. Feel great about that. Finally, I had the self-control to have an honest to goodness cutback week. One run a day, that is what I limited myself to, and nothing over 8, though 5 of the 7 runs were over 8. You have to start somewhere. Last week was a success.

Yesterday was a long Americorps training day at the Bozeman Spring Summit. I was a presenter at this particular function. In the morning, I delivered, or more accurately, facilitated a class on building partnerships. It went great. Got some great feedback from the participants and they seemed to find it meaningful and helpful for their work. The rest of the day was filled with mini-seminars and panel discussions until around 3, when we headed out on our service projects...

I assumed, and assumed wrongly, that I had signed up to go to the food bank, an area of service that I am familiar with and enjoy. Turned out, I had actually signed up for the animal shelter, which was a great and welcome surprise in my life. Spent an hour or so picking up dog droppings in the dog walking area. This turned out to be great work. Like washing dishes, the work is mindless and lends itself to great conversation. Had a nice chat with a girl who runs endurance horse races; 50 and 100 milers. It was fun exchanging our experiences with different modes of travel over long distances. After poo-scooping we were given the option of walking dogs or petting cats. I chose the cat route. I have a secret love for cats, something to do with my childhood I think. It was great. We went around from cage to cage petting and paying each feline some special attention. Overall, the shelter was a complete life-giver to me, infusing me, or perhaps invoking me, with a new experience of which I found enriching.

We didn't get back to the hotel until 6:30 or so. The moment we returned I went out on a really nice 6-7 miler to loosen my body up. Took it at 7 pace. Wonderful run. Felt really, really good. Wow. My upper-body was motionless, a point of form I have been particularly keen on experimenting with lately. Fluidity was the theme yesterday. After the run I caught up with a couple of Americorps ladies at Applebees for dinner, then returned to the hotel and went out to a little house-party with some other Americorps folks. Great time. Incredible people. I met a fellow ultra runner at the party. An extremely rare social occurence. Righteous stuff.

Finally, I want to congratulate my dad on his 5K performance yesterday. His first race.

His stated goal (the conservative estimate we tell people): 30 minutes
His secret desire (the time we more or less dream of doing, but keep to ourselves): 28 minutes
His actual finishing time: 25:42

Yes! What a great accomplishment.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Cruising in Bozeman

After a slow day of work and some quality time in the Aztek, I arrived in Bozeman for an Americorps function that I am presenting at manana. Anyways, I had some serious energy and excitement in exploring a new city on foot. My legs felt fresh and ready for my tempo run. I nailed it. Just flew and felt so darn-tooting comfortable. I really have no clue how far I moved. I just ran a comfortably hard pace for an hour and fifteen. My stride was long, smooth and strong. My upper body stayed virtually motionless. It is hard to say, but I can't help but think that most of the miles were 6 minute pace or faster. Very clean run. I explored most of the city in the run. Starting near I-90 at my hotel, I made my way down to MSU. Ran around the campus, past the stadium, to the museum of the rockies and then made my way through some neighborhoods to downtown, cruised through dowtown then through some retail areas on a walking path back to my hotel. What a great run. My legs are tired. And thats good. I ran really hard on concrete and won't be running much tomorrow - easy run sometime in the evening. Run well at your 5k dad!

Torn Tights and Road Runners

I tore my tights yesterday. About 5 miles into my run yesterday, nature called... fortunately, I was near what I have come to call "Nature is a Giant Toilet Gulch", my coulee bathroom stop. While stepping over the barbed wire fence to access the gulch, my tights caught a barb, and "rip!" went my spandex. It isn't a large tear, more of a snag really. But it was still a bit discouraging - my number one tights being torn. Anyways, I made it to the bathroom in time and then went for another 4 miles or so, enjoying the beautiful evening in the country.

It is official, 12 of the Miner Road Runners are signed up for the Ice Breaker 3 mile race. Ages 8-13, they are a driven bunch, who I can't imagine having any trouble finishing in some fashion or form. I will be walking/running with Joe. We have been together since the beginning and I can't think of anywhere else I would rather be in this run than at his side. He has gotten up to running 50-100 feet at a time and has a finishing sort of heart. We will walk the majority of the course. Marshall, the oldest and most fit of the group, has a great chance of finishing in the top 5 for his age group. In training, he ran a 21 minute 3 miler. 7 minute pace, not bad at all for a 6th grader. He has come along ways. Several of the kids in the club will be running with their mild/moderate asthma. Over the last several months they have learned how to better control their breathing during moderate to intense exercise. Results to come.


To thine ownself be true.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Taper Time

Well, I am trying something new this time around; a serious taper. For Le Grizz I put in a 132 mile week a week out from the race, of course I was coming down from a peak of 204 a couple weeks before. I am going to go for a two week taper here too, but at significantly lower mileage. This week will be in the 50-60 range. Next week will be about the same. I am already noticing a difference in the way I feel. My legs feel much more solid than they did during my last taper. I think this rest, perhaps it could be called a restoration, will be a test of this resting idea. Of course, the fear is always losing fitness, but I am not worried. This life is a journey. I will see how my body reacts to this two-week mileage drop-off prior to the Americorps VISTA 50 miler. Here is what I did this week:

SU: 4, easy
M: 9 @ 7:10
T: 9 @ 6:50
W: 9, tempo (really strong, clean strides)

Running Club Update

H.L. Hammerfish was good to request an update on "The Miner Roadrunners" running club; my group of 15, 3rd-6th graders who train together twice a week.

Training has been going pretty well. Unfortunately, the weather has gotten the best of us on many of our running days. But so it goes. Yesterday, I secured the cafeteria for us to run in, since the snow was flying outside. It went well. We jogged laps for the first 5 minutes, then played red-light/green-light, then moved to a triangle running drill w/push-ups, sit-ups, toe-touches and bicycles. The kids, as usual, made the best of it.
We are running a 3 mile race together in about a week and a half. 10 of the kids, so far, are signed up and set to go. The kids are very excited. The race? The Great Fall's Ice Breaker. This is The Miner Roadrunners for race and will be a new and, hopefully wonderful, experience for all of them. I am always rehashing the importance of finishing with them and how running is all about doing the best that you can do at the given time. Maybe your best that day will be enough to win, maybe it won't. Doing your best and finishing is what matters.
Anyways, the kids are running! Here are some pictures...

Kade running during rainbow tag.

Robert, striking a pose at the beginning of a 2 mile pace run.

Marshall, evading the tagger.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sub-6 hour 50 Mile

After a couple of days of easy treadmill pace work, I have confirmed what I was only half-confident about, that I was in the sort of shape to give a sub-6 hour 50 mile a go. Yesterday, I put in a really easy 9.25 miler or something like that @ about 6:40 pace. 6:40 felt pretty easy, while 7:00, the pace I will need to do the sub-6, felt very easy and comfortable, like I could do it for 50 miles. So here is what I am thinking. Since there are no 50 milers anywhere in the vicinity of Great Falls anytime soon and my shape is coming to fruition, I will create my own 50 miler. I am going to scout out the region in the next couple of weeks for a super flat course, elicit the aide of my friend Don and have a go at a sub-6 50 mile run.

7:10 pace would give me a 5:59 50 miler
7:00 pace would give me a 5:50 50 miler

Because this will be an attempt at a 50 mile PR, I will go out conservatively at 7:10 pace for the first 30 or so, before making the decision to pick it up to 7:00 pace or faster.

I know I could have run 6:15 in the Le Grizz with some support - stutter steps at the aid stations sucked up several minutes - and that was a decently hilly course. This is all very preliminary, I will keep you updated with what develops.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Leg Explosion

Wow. That is all I can say. I have to write this quick to share this moment. Taking the last three days off (6, 4, and 9 miles) preemptively has dramatically changed my perception of my shape (my legs). They are bursting with strength. I feel like I am walking around on solid oak tree trunks. It blows me away how strong, pain-free and just plain solid they feel. Of course, it would be easy to jump on them and hit some 20+ mile days the rest of the week, but I am going to stick to my guns and keep it around 8 miles (max.) a day, this week. Let these things recover. It feels so good to feel good (physically). I haven't felt this good since, well, I can't remember. July 2007 probably... the last real break from training that I have had. It will be nice to hold onto this for the rest of the week. Yeehaw. My mind is clearing a bit too. Things are still a bit muddy upstairs and clouded in my heart, but so it goes. Keep on moving.

One more thing. I am on my 5th pair of shoes this year. Really, my 4th out of necessity. The last pair I purchased turned out to be extra-wides and were causing some soreness in my ankles from all the freedom of movement. That shopping error taught me the importance of always checking the box of shoes thoroughly and try them on always. Not all 10s are created equal. Of course, this is obvious, but after buying so many shoes of the same brand, you get lazy and settle for the grab-and-go. Anyways, the wide Asics ended up making great walking shoes. All is not lost.

Great Books

Over the last week I read:

The Price of Everything
Slowing Down to the Speed of Life
What I Talk about When I Talk about Running

I apologize that I don't have the authors names. Lately, I have been selecting books, or have been recommended books, with little consistency - most of the authors I have never heard of before. Anyways, I would highly recommend What I Talk about When I Talk about Running to anyone and everyone, runner or non-runner. It is a great memoir of novelist's life as it relates to his evolution as a marathon runner. Great wisdom and insight is spoken - specifically relating to keeping one's life in balance and how our activities should reinforce each other. In the author's case, running has aided him greatly in being a novelist. Quick and easy read. I gobbled it in a day.

One leg to stand is good (it is at least something, albeit a wobbly something), two legs is better (us bipeds no what this is about), four legs is best (an elephant is much more difficult to push over than a human). Our satisfied sturdiness in life comes from putting our hobbies, jobs, relationships, whatever, in proper order, each reinforcing the other, ultimately, affording us a solid base to operate out of (from, to and fro).

Monday, April 13, 2009

Days Off

Afternoon coffee time. Time to process the middle day. I am two days into my time off from running and can already feel my legs coming around. 4 miles yesterday, 9 today on the mill. Some strides and squats yesterday. Yeehaw.

Enjoying a free coffee drink thanks to my Schulte's Frequent Imbiber Card. What a deal. 9 cups of drip coffee (1-1.50 depending on who is working) and then a free cup of anything on the menu. That is when I treat myself to a 4-5 dollar extravagant latte of some kind. Free coffee drink or not, this is a great coffee shop.

Training Plateau

Well, recovery run-to-run is becoming evermore difficult. My fitness seems to be decreasing. My mileage is decreasing - out of physical necessity, not for lack of will - and my need for cut-back weeks is becoming increasingly frequent. Time for a break, I guess. Here are my weekly mileages since the beginning of the year... starting with the most recent:

April - 106
April - 122
March - 80
March - 135
March - 120
March - 131
Feb. - 131
Feb. - 127
Feb. - 71
Feb. - 140
Jan. - 129
Jan. - 134
Jan. - 125

The slow degradation... Really, I can trace the start of the fade back to mid.-Nov. I hit a really strong 159 mile week then. My peak fitness was probably back in the beginning of Nov. after peaking with 204 miles at the end of Sept. October was a clean month. In December I put in a 57 minute 10 miler during a 130 mile hard training week. The 2 sub-100 mile weeks this year were out of necessity, as I literally couldn't run anymore miles than that. That is foolishness.

Unfortunately, too often my will is stronger than my body. It is a balance (more than a total life balance, specifically a training balance) of fitness and mind that needs to be struck again. Reality has caught up with me and there is no more denying it. If I were to continue at 120+ miles a week in this state, by the end of May I would be running no faster than 9 minute pace on my tempo runs. No good. This week I will keep it honestly easy. A preemptive cut-back week, finally. No more of this waiting until things get out of control before cutting. No running. 8 miles or less a day, and easy. No more than 50 for the week. Hopefully less. Peace.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Week Wrap-up

Well, I am doing running for the day. Last night I was pretty set on putting in another 20 mile day today, but opted for an easy/moderate 5-6 miler on the treadmill at Gold's Gym. Decided to let my body recover a bit more to set me up for a strong week. Honestly, it is nice to have a day every now and again where I don't have to eat all the time. Here it is:

SU: 6 hard tempo+12 easy (18)
M: 13 moderate/hard (13)
T: 11+8, easy (19)
W: 8 moderate+13 easy (21)
TH: 13 build (13)
F: 16 easy (16)
S: 5.5 moderate (5.5)

Total: 105.5, what the heck, 106

After much thought, I have made the decision to forgo TNFE 50 miler in WA in June. Financially, I just can't swing it and while taking inventory of my current shape, I am not sure that I will be in a good place to run hard then. In short, it wouldn't be worth the expenses. Instead, I have decided to keep it in MT this summer. 30K in May, 50K in June, Marathon in July, 50 miler in August. Wooo, I am at peace with this. 

On the Cusp

Lately, say, within the last couple of days, I have been thinking much more clearly. Why? No clear answer, but the reason doesn't matter. What matters is that I am thinking more clearly. To analyze this would be the death of it. Anyways, I feel like I am on the cusp of something big... a breakthrough in achieving balance in my life. 

Hear me. Balance. Not a static ideal point of balance, closely resembling something out of buddhism, but rather a forward moving state of homeostasis. Metaphors help us makes sense of things when the real thing we are trying to understand (or in this case articulate) has not the words to express it. This forward moving balance that I feel that I am nearing may be thought of like this: riding a balance board on a flat bed train car whose engine is chugging along at 40-50 mph. The train is beyond our sphere of control, but within our control lies our focus on the balance board below our feet. We focus on the train moving, we fall. We focus on the landscape rushing by in our periphery, those things out of our control, we fall. We focus on our balance underfoot, what is necessary to compensate for the movements of the train, we stay steady. The train is life beyond our control, the balance board, those things we have total control over - our thoughts, perceptions, actions. 

Alright, back to reality. The balance in my life is coming from my running side of life presently, which of course, like any aspect of our lives, affects all others in ways large and small. I am feeling at peace with changing things up - running less miles some weeks, more miles the next, taking time off, etc. It is so easy to become neurotic on the vein of mileage, pace, consistency, etc. A virtue of the balanced person is that they recognize lives forward movement while wholly focusing on keeping things in perspective, relationally linked and honest. Balance. Running for joy, running for fitness, health and love. These are the things that brought joy to my running. Operating like a machine, logging 120+ miles a week out of habit - and more and more often without joy - is no way to live. I will leave that sort of functioning to non-sensate mechanical devices. I am human. As a sensing, cognate biped who maintains control of himself I choose to live life in balance, running within my means as the rule and physical challenges to this order an exception to that rule. Balance.

Friday, April 10, 2009

An Homage to Coffee

This morning, it occurred to me while sipping on my first, freshly pressed cup of coffee that I am in love. In love with the bean. 

Coffee is great. Here is why. More than containing a sweet little stimulant (caffeine,  of course) the whole air, ambience and aura surrounding the cup of coffee is magical. It is ironic, at least in my life, that I associate the stimulant with relaxation. Regardless of its chemical qualities, the comfort provided by a cup of java in the morning is timeless. No matter the day, no matter weather, no matter life's circumstances, a cup o' joe in the morn is total bliss. 

A Coffee Haiku

Coffee beans abound
In that Dunkin' Donuts pound
Oh, sweet morning bliss

An Unstructured Coffee Poem

Oh, to arise to the aroma,
of that freshly brewed Kona.

Oh, to seek that mid-noon refill,
worries of the day then stand-still.

Oh, that last sip remains glorious,
tomorrow's first cup reigns victorious.

Yip, coffee is good stuff. It is everywhere, always available. Thank goodness for that.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Sweet Thursday Running

Saved myself for my moderate workout this afternoon. After a mellow mile to warm-up, I hit it. 7:00-7:30 pace up the hill against an ever so slight headwind. Felt great about that pace considering the grade. On the way back, I locked it in at 6:30-7:00 pace, hitting the last couple of miles closer to that quicker pace. It was exactly the kind of 13 miler I envisioned for today and was stoked to actually nail it after a couple of 20 mile days. Every once and awhile I surprise myself with how strong and solid I feel. It was the kind of strong pace I would be comfortable carrying on for 50 miles. Stopped at 13 miles as that was my limit for the day... rest. Today was one of those days. Thanks be to the Lord. Good stuff.

Mid-week Update

A solid week so far. Lots of good miles. Here it is:

SU: 18 (6 tempo+12 easy)
M: 13 easy
T: 19 (11+8 easy)
W: 21 (8 moderate+13 steady)
TH: 13, build - moderate to hard effort

I have truly come to enjoy and appreciate the value of my mid-distance easy runs. Taking it easy. It sets me up so well for the shorter, harder runs. This training cycle of short/hard (6-10 miles @ 5:30-6:15 pace) with middle runs/easy to moderate (11-14 miles @ 7:30-8:30 pace) and a couple of 15+ mile runs sprinkled in a week works well with my fitness development. Every other week or so I throw in a long/hard tempo. This is a training cycle that I enjoy for what it is and the discipline, joy and development that it provides. I am beginning to feel like I would be satisfied if I never raced again - though I most definitely plan to and am beginning in the next couple of weeks. This is a good place to be with training. Peace in the moment and with running for what it is.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Ah... A Refreshing Wind-down

I usually wait until Sunday to do the week in review (for some reason - and I know the reason but won't go into it - I switched my running week from Sunday to Saturday instead of Monday to Sunday. Anyways, here it is, last week's mileage:

SU: 19 (12+7, easy)
M:12, tempo
TU: 19 (11+8, easy)
W: 20 (12 moderate+8 easy)
TH: 13 steady, moderate to hard effort
F: 19 (11+8, easy)
SA: 20 (11 easy+9 moderate)

122 miles. 

Feeling really good. New shoes are a large part of that, as well as consistency with the quad work outs. I have been significantly more honest about stretching lately too, that has proved helpful. 

I found my Saturday night Great Falls jackpot: a nice bar, with great live folk/bluegrass/jazz on Saturday nights, great local brews, free wifi, no cover charge, and comfortable... Bert and Ernies, what a great spot. So here I sit, at B and E's sipping on a Harvest Moon Charlie Russell Red Brewski, surfing the web and awaiting the bluegrass feature of the night. Good stuff. 

Sat. Day

Well, I broke down and bought some new shoes Thursday. I love new shoe weeks. It is like running on clouds again. My last pair were great... Saucony Pro Grid Rides, last year's model. Unfortunately, I have boughten up all of the Saucony, size 10 (and 10.5, when desperate), sale shoes from Scheels, so now I am working on buying up last year's Asics. I got nearly 5 weeks out of the Grid Rides before I sucked it up (my knees were beginning to feel the cushioning go) and dropped some dollars for a new pair of Asics. 3-4 weeks is about as far as I can go before starting to feel the degradation of the shoe, no matter the quality, but, alas, the Americorps living allowance doesn't factor in shoe wear as a part of the monthly stipend. So five weeks I will continue to stretch to. Hopefully, my wear-testing contract with Saucony will come through this month and shoes will no longer be a problem. We will see, if not, no worries.

Last day of a great running week. Some high points, low points and a lot of air inbetween. One thing that is become clearer to me is my desire and NEED to be pursuing a goal. I lost sight of my running goals for awhile there, but things are coming back into perspective. Races, running adventures, etc. Though I love running, it can be rather burdensome when it remains in a vacuum.

Other goal types, professional, and spiritual are coming back into the picture too, thank goodness. There is a chance I may be able to secure a VISTA position in Colorado Springs this summer! That would be incredible. A great job in a great city, back with some great friends and family. Also, that would help me establish my residency so I can get back to college and secure a graduate degree in education, almost wholly on my education awards from Americorps. The work would be in schools and might actually put me back into UCCS (as the VISTA host site). Good stuff. Hope that everyone is having a great Saturday. Time to do some grocery shopping and take a nap. Peace.

Friday, April 3, 2009

A Change of Pace

Yesterday was a different sort of Thursday. It turned out to be pretty decent after a melancholy morning. After a presentation to my advisory board last night, I dawned ye ol' head lamp and went out for a 13 miler. It was glorious. Took it at a moderate pace that felt effortless. 7-7:30. No wind for the entirety and total darkness for only the last 4 miles or so. By the end of the thing snow began to fall. It was really a great run. It was nice to switch things up and run at a different time of day. It was just what I needed to reinvigorate. The cows were free-ranging on the road higher up in the hills - what a beautiful pastoral scene. As I passed I gave a tip of the hat and a "eve'n ladies" to the herd. 

I have a couple of ounces of desire to run again. Nice to have over 24 hours of rest. 

I took today off to veg out and change up the schedule for once. First day off since I started working in August. Feels good. I need to do this more often.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Not an Ounce of Desire

Stepped out the door for my morning 12 miler and immediately realized that I had not an ounce of desire to run. I took one step forward, turned around and came back inside. It was/is inexplicable.

This is the first time in years that while being in really good shape, injury-free and on a high mileage kick, that I have had no desire to hit the road. Bored with training and running? I don't know. Any suggestions on how to get motivated would be helpful. Right now, I feel like curling up in a ball and sleeping forever, not death, but a really good REM sleep. Anyways, break-time, I guess.

Mid-week Update

Pretty solid week thus far - significantly better than last. I am feeling 85% of awesome (totally awesome being 100%). The week so far:

SU: 19 (12+7, easy)
M: 12, tempo
T: 19 (10+9, easy)
W: 20 (12+8, easy)

The changes I talked about last week - strength exercises for my knees and increased calorie intake - are paying off. The best way to say it... I feel much more solid. Rock hard. Sturdy. Whatever. For awhile there, my whole body was feeling gumbyesque and weak. Not the good sort of gumby feeling - limber and spry -, but the melting, knees trembling, and shaky sort of gumby feeling.

Running club went well yesterday. Most of the kids put in nearly 2 miles (in snow and wind, no less). Very proud of those guys. Around 15 kids in the club now, 3rd through 6th grade. Rock solid crew.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

March Stats

Being the first day of April, it is a good time to do a March recap. Turned out to be a pretty good running month. Firstly, 19 easy miles yesterday. Here it is:

Total Mileage: 516
Weekly Average: 129
Biggest Week: 135
Daily Average: 17
No. of Long Runs: 5
No. of Runs 12 or longer: 17

I was reviewing some older logs as I did my month tally last night and was curious to see what my highest mileage month was to date. I was astonished to count 684 miles in September 2008. About 23 miles a day. Nuts. It is hard for me to imagine that right now. I had some serious gusto back then. Wow. Anyways, I am very content with 120-130 a week right now. 150-200 a week is hard for me to fathom at present. It was difficult with a full-time job to squeeze in that many miles. It requires a total commitment of every waking hour of the day (job+running). Anyways, I am thankful to have been able to run so many miles last month and am on the downhill as I come to my first race! Yeah. God bless.