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  1. There was a time when I would look forward to the punishment of the long run on Saturday mornings the feeling of preparing Friday nights, getting up while most were sleeping in, the freedom to eat and drink Saturday night knowing that you just clocked 16 miles because you could. Those days are a distant memory to me, my last race was the Marshall Marathon in 2013….2013! Many of you from the old loop remember my post about how I got to that point and how I changed my life. While I am still able to keep the weight down, my blood pressure has become an issue again and to be honest bouts of depression. My work life is horrible and has been for some time, I am trying to make a change buy changing careers after working for the Government for 16 years is hard and hard to get an interview etc. I love my family, my kids are amazing and my wife is the best, but I am not happy and haven’t been, my wife thinks I am depressed and I probably am, I just go to bed, show up at work, go to some practice and go home and repeat every day. It is not healthy nor productive and is affecting me and the people around me. Last year I signed up for the Charlotte Marathon and on the second week of training I tore my calf muscle, which my Doctor said, was the worst he had seen. I could not run and actually had to use a cane for about 3 months…. so no marathon. Then work got crazy again and I settled into this dormant life yet again. I have ran twice this year. This isn’t a pity me post, this is not yet another I am going to “change” posts where I attempt a comeback. This isn’t a comeback, this is a rebirth. I was once an unhappy, fat, sedentary person who changed and become a marathoner. I am now a busy dad, husband, who has little ones who depend on me, this is no longer about fixing me, or making me better, this is about them and what I show them a person is capable of. I am 40 now and it’s a different ballgame, I don’t bounce back as quickly, schedules are tighter, life gets in the way, so I have to become the person who can handle all that and still train for a marathon, 26.2 miles is the cure to my illness, it will fix me…or break me but either way I will be different. So here I go and try to awaken the ghosts of Saturday mornings and the feeling of completeness in my soul. Thank you for listening, I promise to update here and be held accountable.
  2. onthebusrunning

    The Dam Buster

    I’ve been middling. Quietly putting in the miles with zealot-like devotion. The fatigue has accumulated. The miles have piled up. The calendar days have marched on toward the inevitable. When is it going to happen? I’ve wondered. The “it” in question is that magical moment, that elevation to a higher plane. The one where all the training pieces finally fit together and, though there’s more fitness to be had, you get a glimpse of what you’re becoming. The week following my tune-up half, I expected heavy legs shackled by fatigue. But on an optional 10x200m session three days post-race, there was a lift and a power in my legs that had been absent. The following day, it was more of the same. I finished easy runs feeling, well, easy. I let myself start to accept the idea that, indeed, I was starting to round into form. I had a 16-mile long run slated for the weekend, with pickups over the last 70 minutes. The dawn broke clear and crisp, and I buzzed with anticipation. As I laced up, I told myself, Keep it controlled. I set off down the Washington & Old Dominion rail trail heading west. My legs turned over with ease and I settled into a steady rhythm. I typically don’t like to look at my watch during long runs so that I can let my body set a comfortable, natural pace, and that morning was no different. In fact, I slipped the watch under my glove and just waited for the steady vibration to mark each of the miles. At mile 5, I started the first of my pickups, easing down on the accelerator to quicken my turnover. The trail had begun to pitch downward for about 3.5 miles, and I welcomed the decline and pushed it out of my head that I’d have to ride it back up on the return trip. But ride it I did. After the turn, I started a 2-minute pickup and caught a glimpse of the pace: 5:45. I raised my eyebrows in surprise but continued to flow on. I started my 3.5-mile ascent and focused in on maintaining the effort for that section, which meant not letting my mind start to wander. My legs churned forward and I could feel the power in them and the control I was suddenly able to exercise over the pace. I could move forward or pull back regardless of what the terrain served up. I topped the crest of the hill and accelerated down the other side with a little over 5K left to the finish. At mile 13, I focused in on the clock for the first time, did some quick math, and realized that I could potentially run a sub-1:40 16-miler. Normally, I’m pleased when I can do that with 15 but have never come close to doing for 16. But I slipped back into my comfortable pace, heeding my words from the start. With 1 mile to go, however, I needed a 6:29 to come in under 1:40, so I started to tighten the screws. I surged up the half mile long hill, fighting to maintain control and then powered down the backside. Under the bridge, past the mile marker, crosswalk in sight, buzz damn you buzz! I clicked my watch, slowed to a walk, and pulled back my glove: 5:44 last mile, 1:39:05 for the run. Fist pump. I’ve been at this long enough to know that with the right amount of consistency and perseverance, that dam will burst. But mired in long training runs, dark and cold mornings, another gut-busting interval session, your resolve can start to fray. It was Churchill who said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” And it was John Parker, Jr. who wrote, “People conceptualize conditioning in different ways. Some think it's a ladder straight up. Others see plateaus, blockages, ceilings. I see it as a geometric spiraling upward, with each spin of the circle taking you a different distance upward. Some spins may even take you downward, just gathering momentum for the next upswing. Sometimes you will work your fanny off and see very little gain; other times you will amaze yourself and not really know why.” Last week, I had a glimpse. This week, I’m shouldering the load of a 100-mile week, staring down a 25-miler tomorrow. But I know I just have to keep going, to keep gathering momentum for the next upswing because I've seen what’s waiting for me on the other side.
  3. The weather has been colder than normal this winter. Still not much snow, but wind chill advisories have kept me inside more often than usual. Tomorrow will be another really cold morning – I haven’t decided if I will face the cold or head to the gym. Training for the Austin marathon is going well, but I am behind where I would like to be. There isn’t much I can do about it – with the foot injury at the end of last year I just don’t have the time to get the long runs I’d like to get done. The good news is as long as things continue as they are I will be able to complete the marathon, but I will be undertrained. I have to avoid any mishaps – and the flu going around has me worried. Everything has me worried. I’m a worrier anyway, and since I’ve had two marathon “fails” in a row I’m even more nervous about this one. I won’t feel confident about getting to the start line until I’m standing on it. I may not feel confident about finishing until I actually have. PRs and sub 4:30 seem almost totally out of the question. (I won’t totally write off a PR, but I’m more concerned about just finishing right now. I feel like I want to write more about my fears leading up to this race but I’ve got other running news… On Saturday I had another cold long run, 15 miles. 14* and cloudy. 14 is actually 11* warmer than my 12 miler last week. 3, even with minimal wind chill is not something I want to run in, especially that far. Both of those runs went well. I did the 12 in my neighborhood because I didn’t have anyone to meet and being close to home meant getting warm after the run a lot faster. The 15 was at Forest Park in St. Louis about 1/3 with friends and the rest on my own. It mostly went well, but around mile 13 my knee started complaining. Just a little but it was in the area of the IT band so I started to get really nervous. It never got too bad, so I’m hopeful that it will be ok. But it doesn’t help my nerves about making it to the Austin start line. I had 16 on the plan, but 15 was already a 3 mile jump from the previous week, it was cold and I had a 5k the next day. The mileage increase over the previous week was also more than I like to do. After the run I got home, got warmed up and enjoyed a lazy day made possible by a long weekend. Yesterday I had the MLK Unity 5k run. It was another cold morning and my legs were tired. I almost didn’t want to go, but I’d payed for the race and the start line is barely a mile from my house. There aren’t a many 5ks less than ½ hour drive from my house (there’s tons in the STL area of course, just not super close to me) and the cause is a good one so I went anyway. With 15 miles on my legs the day before I wasn’t expecting much. I figured I’d run by feel and see what happened. The plan was first 2 miles comfortably hard, then the last mile as close to all out as I could make myself go. Last year was the inaugural race and a pretty small crowd. The race director told me when I picked up my packet they did have more people register this year and the crowd was a little bigger, but it was still a really small race. I didn’t see the previous year’s winner (overall a 12 year old girl). Like last year no one really seemed to want to start on the line. This year I didn’t either since I didn’t intend to run it all out. (Normally I have no place there anyway, but I think this race is about ½ walkers, and I was 4th or 5th woman last year so it was fair for me to be there). I started out and felt surprisingly light for the first ¼ mile or so. Then my legs reminded me of the 15 miles I’d done the day before. Nothing actually hurt so I ignored them. As usual lots of people took off and zoomed away. I just ran my hard but not too hard pace and hoped that I wasn’t going to hurt myself by having two hard days in a row. Mile 1 came in at 9:06. Not especially fast for me, but a lot faster than easy pace. I knew mile 2 would be the hardest as it is mostly uphill. But here is where I started passing people. I hadn’t taken note of how many women were in front of me and I wasn’t paying a ton of attention to how many I was passing, but gradually I was moving up. I may have passed 2-3 on the biggest hill, which is a hill I run at least 2x a week on my normal running routes. My watch beeped the end of the second mile (9:13), I took a deep breath and turned on the speed. Much of this mile is downhill except for a small hill mid mile. I passed more people. I still had no idea how many people were in front of me, or even if I was actually going that fast at all. About ¼ mile from the finish a volunteer was cheering the runners on and said “You’re almost there, keep going!” and then “You’re going faster than you ever have!”. I answered “Not quite!” as best as I could because I was breathing so hard. Then my watch beeped the 3rd mile and I realized that she was right and I was wrong. Mile 3 was 8:08, a mile PR by 1 second. I still had the last 1/10ish to go. By the time I crossed the finish line my mile PR was 8:04. Surprise! I was shocked. Much of that mile was downhill, but it’s been a while since I’ve even come close to PRing. My first 2 miles weren’t that fast, but even with that I was 15 seconds off my 5k PR (finish time 27:23 by my watch, PR is 27:08.) Clearly one of two things must be true – Either I should run 15 miles the day before all my 5ks or I really, really need to run a 5k well rested. After the race I walked into the dance studio/charity offices where the 5k was being held where they had the medals, bananas and water. They were sending everyone to get their pictures taken in one of the dance studios. Then I walked back outside to see if they had computers set up where I could find out my official time. Much to my shock they were looking for me. I had placed 3rd female overall! On a race I didn’t really want to run. I hadn’t been going for a PR either, though I did end up running a lot faster than I expected. Recovery wise I feel good today, taking the rest day I normally would have taken yesterday. I won’t lose a day of running if I switch out a cross training day. I was hoping the race would get pictures posted fairly quickly but they haven’t yet and I wanted to get this written today while I’m off work. I may update with race pictures if I find them. My 3rd place trophy. It's kind of huge, and there is also a picture of Dr. King on it, but I couldn't get it all in the picture. It looks like a thermal mug but it's not (bigger), it also reminds me of an urn for ashes but that would be too weird. Whatever, I'm not complaining, it's the only overall award I've ever gotten.
  4. This weekend’s good, bad, and ugly: Good, dare I say great, was Saturday morning. My twins (10), daughter (4), and I ran the By the Bay 3K in Pacific Grove. This is held the day before the Half Marathon formerly known as the Big Sur Half. In typical Wirz fashion, we were running almost late, so my wife dropped the runners off at the tent to get our bibs at 7:40am, while the non-runners (her and Son #3) found a parking spot. The gun was at 8:00am. Bibs pinned, and we made it to the starting line between the national anthem and the start. The twins found a spot at the start, and Lily and I found a spot about half a dozen rows back (Deena Kastor and family spotting #1). Horn sounds, and we’re off like a bunch of spastic little kids. I let the twins run their own race (and prayed that there would not be a fight…). Lily did great! She ran a lot, walked enough to catch her breath and get a little rest. We got to the last corner, and I pointed to the finish line about 200 yards away, and told her that once she crossed the finish line, she would get her medal and pancakes. She took off like a shot. She heard the announcer say “Put your hands in the air when you cross the line,” and she ran the last 25 yards with her hands in the air, and wouldn’t you know it, she had those 25 yards and all those cheering spectators to herself. It was wonderful. The twins came in 11th and 13th out of 283. Lily came in 132nd of 283, and I was 133rd. She beat me by a whole second! After well-earned pancakes, and running into Deena again, and not acting like a stupid fanboy, we headed off to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. We usually go a couple times a year, and I think this may be the last time we go during a big event weekend. For the first time, I felt claustrophobic. I know I’m spoiled; we’re members and go multiple times a year. Free passes for Loopsters that come to the area. The good, bad, and ugly rolled into one: Sunday long run. This was supposed to be my 20 miler that would lead to a 3 week taper before CIM. After a later than planned start, I got rolling. The route was a 2.25 mile leg that led to a loop that I would run twice, hit the straight again, giving 20.1 miles. At the end of loop 1, I felt both calves and my right hip cramp up. I stopped dead in my tracks. I didn’t want to hurt myself, but this was the last really big run. The last week’s long run (14 miles) was ok except for the last 2 miles had a lot of starting and stopping from tight calves. I turned around, and with the exception of one more stop at the gate one mile out from my house, I made it home without stopping. After getting home, cooling down, and feeling a little upset, this is what I learned. 1. I probably could have sucked it up, stretched every ½ mile for 8 miles, completed the run, and been miserable or hurt myself. I chose to not hurt myself, and turned in a good run. The bad part about this is the self doubt that it causes. Will I be able to fight on race day? Should I have embraced the pain and not turned into the barn? 2. 12.3 miles in 1:52:27=9:11 pace. My goals for CIM have been to PR (beat 4:27 from 2005), break 4:00, and if I have a spectacular day, break 3:50. If I run more conservatively, like: 9:30 miles, I can still PR and go longer. 3. I am packing too much weight. 175# on a 5’6” frame is just flat too much. My appetite has gone up the last couple of months, and instead of dropping 10-15# during training, I have gained 5#. (?!&#!*&) 4. I have not been able to stick to a training plan consistently, specifically the consistent building on the long run, and that in itself is another post. So, after having a small freakout about not being able to finish, or blowing up in 3 weeks, I have a plan. I will get my midweek runs in, and even though it will sacrifice a taper Sunday, I plan on getting a 20 miler in this Saturday, 15 days out from the race. I should still get some physiological good out of it, right? The following weekend will see an 8 mile max long run from me. I realize that breaking 4:00 may become difficult. Cheers, D
  5. amarie2009

    Intimidating 18

    At what point does a distance start to get intimidating? For me right now I think it seems to be about 18 miles. Up to 13 I do all the time, even when I’m not training for anything I will run around 10-12 miles every weekend. It’s always nice to be ready to run a half at any time. 14, 15, 16 seem like only a tiny bit more – no big deal. But 18? 18 miles took me 3.5 hours this past weekend. 18 requires serious planning. I need make sure I have enough gus, water, sports drink etc. I know I need to think more carefully about what I do the day before. A lot can go wrong in 18 miles. You want to make sure you end up where you started at the right point. Plan wrong and you have to run even farther because you aren’t home or by your car. Or you have to run past your car to get another mile or two in at the end. And that is hard. Then comes 20 the following week… I did my 18 as 3 loops of Forest Park in St. Louis. I usually see people I know beyond the Team in Training people I usually meet. First loop was easy and with a TNT friend all the way, but she just did a marathon a couple weeks ago and not running any farther. The next 2 loops were on my own. I did see other people, included Doug who took my picture. It was an unusually good running picture. For one thing I actually look like I’m running and I at least look like I’m enjoying myself. It was only mile 9 so I wasn’t too tired at that point. The rest of the second loop wasn’t bad except for the thought I had to do it all again! Once I got going on the third lap it was better because I could think to myself, I don’t have to run past this spot again and I had enough miles I didn’t have to add the extra bit to make the loop an actual 6 miles. It was a nice day, but I was worn out by the end. My legs and feet ached the rest of the day. But by Sunday morning I felt fine. No soreness is good. I haven’t been taking ice baths and it is supposed to be cold on Saturday so I doubt I’ll want to then either, but maybe I’ll take an Epsom salt bath in the evening. Scientifically it may not be proven to do much, but it feels good and I can enjoy the placebo effect. Tomorrow night I’m going to a Halloween party, I’ve got my costume together, it’s a retro Hawaiian tourist complete with authentic 70s era dress, camera from anytime from the 50s to the 70s and free leis all from running expos I think. The biggest problem is that it is going to be cold. I’m not going to want to spend a lot of time outside by the fire. And since I’m running 20 miles the next day starting by 7am I won’t be having more than 1 drink (probably none, and since I almost never have more than 1 anyway, I guess it’s not that big of a loss) and I’ll be leaving early. I made chocolate chip cookie brownies and I’m taking crackers and dip as well. There will be all kinds of food that isn’t ideal for before a long run. I’m going to eat it anyway, but try to limit the amount. Usually I’m fine as long as whatever I eat isn’t super heavy (like a lot of pizza or a huge burger). The 20 is looking pretty intimidating, but maybe less so than it might because although the group itself isn’t meeting officially, I have people who have all promised to run part of the 20 with me and they will cover the whole thing if it works out right. So I’ll actually have a lot more company than I have had on my long runs so far. I’m glad. The late miles have been challenging. Long miles are more enjoyable when you share them.
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