Slow Enough

The day started gloomy enough. Cold. Harsh. I set out with my friend who was running a morning 5K as part of her training for a 10K in two months. I got out to test my new watch (a Garmin 235), and to make sure after this weekend’s long run of 18 miles I’d hit 30 for the week.

The nice part about having built some fitness over the past 3-ish years is that today was easy. Like, not to be all scientific, but my heart rate was low. I was just jogging, shuffling along, but it was enough to keep me warm, and to get me close to the creeks, and their noisy splashing.

Moving fast enough to keep myself warm, but slow enough to notice a chipmunk deep in the woods.

Running doesn’t have to be hard, it doesn’t have to be a struggle. You’re allowed to go slow, to shuffle along. There’s no rule saying you have to enter a 5K, or wear a neon green tank top.

Yep, the speed training I do can hurt. Run for nine minutes at a fast pace, then rest for a minute. Then do that three more times. Ouch.

This Sunday the plan is to run 18 miles. That won’t be entirely comfortable.

But getting out of comfort zones often enough gets us to a place where we can find comfort. The pain isn’t gone, we just learn to live with it.

Make Yourself Obsolete

Quote of the year so far, from Bobby Goodlatte:

Love that last line: You should be so much less focused on how hard you work, and so much more focused on how to automate / make yourself obsolete.

I admit I got caught in the habit of grinding. Cranking. Just apply more focus, keystroke commands, turn off Slack, roll up the sleeves and just ATTACK.

Or pay someone on Fivver $5 to do it.

Because now that 45 minutes of work I didn’t really wanna do now becomes free, and my brain gets to focus on bigger problems. Bigger challenges.

That’s what $5 buys me – the ability to use my near 20+ years of internet smarts on something that might make me $5,000.

Fast and Loose

One thing about using a “for-real” camera, is that it’s a little easier to be daring with some shots. As you can see below, I dangled some digital point-and-shoot cameras over the years when I was biking all over the US.

I was using a Canon PowerShot SD940IS when I snapped this photo in New Orleans (same bike, above).
Loved my Canon PowerShot S95, this one in Miami, FL when I had my Brompton folding bike. This was me cruising with kids I met off the internet after I rode an Amtrak Train from NYC all the way down to Miami.
Night time cruising in Tampa, FL.
Happy biking way outside Savannah, GA.
Biking with a Tumblr friend in Charleston, SC.
Somewhere near Selma, NC.
Riding up through Williamsburg into Greenpoint, in Brooklyn.
Riding over the George Washington Bridge, from New Jersey into Manhattan.
My last crack at the NYC Century, in 2011 (below). Made it “just” 70 miles, and was pretty much my last, “on the bike, moving, and taking a photo” sort of shot.

I don’t really ride much anymore, so I’m a little slower, but pulling out my iPhone Xr – the indispensable tool that I need to perform my job and make a living – just feels too risky.

It’s cold, or I’m covered in sweat, and the smart phone is the device I rely on for GPS directions to get back home from a race (one time my phone locked me out for 40 minutes because the “raise to wake” setting wasn’t turned off). Trying to handle my iPhone like I did for any of these photos above would have gave me a heart attack, even with some heavy duty phone case.

I think I want a real camera again, for the very purpose of documenting more of my running adventures.

Staying on Track

I sometimes wonder why I stuck with running, and I think it’s because I didn’t just want to lose weight. Pretty sure it was because I wanted to become a runner.

James Clear talks about that a bunch in his book Atomic Habits, which I’ve referenced a bunch of times.

Instead of “I can’t eat cake,” it becomes “I don’t eat cake because I’m a runner.” I mean, I still eat cake, and mmmm, I love cookies. But my grocery shopping these days it a lot more veggies and fruit and beans than it is junk food that I used to buy just a few years ago.

So, to become a runner, I just had to run. But it’s weird to think I started that back in 2016, almost four years ago. I’m trying to apply that to other areas of my life now, too – financial, work, mental health. Running has showed me that the choices I make each day can lead to bigger things down the road.

Keep The Store Open

Had a great talk with a buddy I met through Seth Godin’s “Freelancers Workshop” today. They’re a freelancer, and they’ve been sick this past week. Too sick to really work.

When I’m too sick to work, I think too much. Fret. Worry. Think of the worst possible outcomes – missed emails, uncompleted tasks, work piling up. I’m not just bad at my job, but now I’m bad. My work is me, and I am my work. So without it… without about being able to work, what does that say?

It made me think of our how our work is like a store front, and if we’re not working, the store is closed. A sign in the window says “NOT OPEN.” People walk by and mumble under their breath about our closed business. Did they not pay their electric bill? Health code violations?!

Being so connected to work is scary, and so many of us in the freelance world are one stomach bug or flu virus away from being knocked out of commission for a week.

For the past few months I’ve been experimenting with outsourcing some of my more administrative tasks via UpWork and Fiverr. It’s virtual assistant type of work, and by paying someone else to do it, it gives me time to work on bigger projects. Though Close Mondays isn’t some automated machine just yet, it’s good knowing that a handful of my daily tasks are now taken care of by someone that’s not always me.

Running 16 Miles

This is now the longest I’ve ever run, and it hurt. I tried to get to a place where I could run without cars, and without hills. I settled on the D&L trail from Weissport up to and through Jim Thorpe, eight miles out, then back.

It was a good idea in theory, but heavy rain soaked the trail, so each step was like pushing off from a cloud. Add that up for a few miles, and by mile five or so my thighs were killing me.

I walked a few times, stretched, ran slower… nothing seemed to help. I was eating well, hydrated, warm – but the legs just weren’t having it today.

My Apple Watch also gave me problem, stopping my run at mile eight for some reason. I didn’t even know until about five minutes later when it vibrated and asked if I wanted to start a new outdoor run (it “auto-detected” my “new” run). This pissed me off, and I think I’m done with using the Apple Watch for actual training.

I almost ended my run with about five miles to go. Then at about four miles. Finally I found some momentum, though slow, and ran the last three or so miles.

Then my watch didn’t want to let me end my run, and instead wanted me to eject water or something ? We’re done here, Apple.

I keep remembering from the posts I read on Instagram, from pro runners, that one bad workout doesn’t ruin all the work you’ve done. I held onto that the last few miles.

Once home I showered and ate a little. My stomach wasn’t super hungry even after all those miles. I napped. The next morning, I felt fine. No stiffness, no issues walking down the stairs, nothing. So while the run might have sucked, it definitely built some fitness.

Objects in Motion Stay in Motion

I’ve seen this quote around a bit on social media, and finally got around to reading the full article, ‘I Am 35 and Running Faster Than I Ever Thought Possible.’

 There are a lot of things we can’t control right now, especially for women. Perhaps we choose running because we don’t need permission to do it — we can do it whenever and however we want. The roads are open. 

Lindsay Crouse

I’ve written this before; I started running after one too many rejection emails from jobs I applied for in my field. I couldn’t control those hiring descions, but I could run.

The rejections chipped away at who I was. Made me doubt my abilities. Questioned if I really knew what I was doing, or just got lucky.

Through running I found purpose, strength, and rebuilt my self-esteem. Ran my first mile in about 13 minutes back in 2016. Ran a 7:56 mile in an actual 5K race in 2019.

I struggled through my first 10 mile race in 2018 and had to walk a few times in the final miles. A year later my fastest times were the last two miles.

I had always thought that, at some point in life, most people become “who we are.” Our lives are built around whatever that is, and no matter what we might actually be capable of, this idea keeps us fixed in one place.

Lindsay Crouse

At 40 I was eating horribly, down the dumps, and not stoked on life. My pants didn’t fit anymore, and I’d have to go out and buy bigger jeans.

Now here I am, I turn 44 in a few months, and I’m down a few pants sizes, and fucking feel great. I’m in the middle of marathon training, just ran the farthest I’ve ever ran (14 miles), and I’m not even sore.

Nearing my mid 40s I guess I’m supposed to slow down, and buy bigger jeans. But as I’m able to today, right now, I’m going to keep moving.

Longest Run Ever

One week after a 12 mile long run on a treadmill, I did a 14 mile long run by way of two seven mile, hilly loops. Just over 1,000′ of elevation gained. Battled a head win on the back half of each loop, gloves that didn’t keep my fingers warm, and then it started snowing at about mile 12.

That was rough.

But little things kept me going. Seeing this house with the unique lawn display gave me a nice chuckle.

This was a long enough run to actually eat on the road. My coach (Grayson Murphy) suggested I eat every 45 minutes. On my second lap I tore open my second meal, the new KOFFEE from Spring Energy, and oh my goodness it was perfect. Tasting coffee on the final last quarter of my run was such a big mood booster. Sure, it’s got 200 calories and caffeine, yeah, but the taste alone perked me right up.

The hardest part was getting back to my car to grab my second water bottle, and then locking my car to keep going. Seven miles with cold hands was tough… then I had to do it again!

Doing a second loop was a trip. I got to say hello to some horses again, and make my way to the top of the same hills again. As I said earlier, I got to eat my coffee energy goo, and it was magical. On this loop I also tested out using a sports drink by Maurten (a recommendation from Grayson), and well, I didn’t run out of energy on this run, so I suppose it helped!

Won’t lie – the snow and cold hands, and being tired started to crack me, but I’ve read that smiling helps, even if you’re not happy. Just the act is enough to trigger something in your brain, and it works for me. A smile led to some laughing at the absurdity of all this, running with cold hands but somehow being okay with wearing shorts, eating coffee flavored goo, wondering how the heck I’m going to run 26.6 miles in March – ahhhh!

Then, it was over. I ran 14 miles, the most I’ve ever run in one day, in one shot, and I did it in 2:38 (Strava). Not fast by any means, but I need the time on my feet if I’m going to endure an actual marathon.