Running For One Hour

In the summer of 2016 I didn’t think I’d ever be able to run for 15 minutes straight. Last fall I ran a half-marathon in two hours and 16 minutes. I’m not fast, but I’ve got stubborn legs.

After three weeks off in December (after an 800 mile year), I’m getting back into the swing of things with running. I’m taking it slow, as I don’t want to rush and hurt myself, but being able to hit one hour of running without stopping has been a major milestone for me. And I’ve done it twice in a week.

Running for that long is almost meditation. It means no social media, fretting over my to-do list, or checking emails. It’s an hour of not trying to figure things out, or get into several conversations.

One hour of running is wonderful.

Bleak Morning Runs

It was cold, wet, and dreary – perfect conditions for my second run of the year. Still being cautious, with plenty of stretching, and just taking it easy, but I made it to the top of this hill and another without stopping.

Not fast, but I didn’t stop.

I think that’s a wonderful thing about running, that you can always slow down. Like, you’re allowed to just jog, shuffle, trot along. It’s still moving, and really what counts is just being out there.

Of course I want to compare this run to another time I did this route. Am I faster, have I lost my fitness after just three weeks of rest? Will I ever hit my goal of 1000 miles in 2019?!

There were a thousand photos I wanted to take on this run. Surrounded by empty corn field, crows on power lines overhead, houses sitting silent on top of a hill, fog rolling through the valley.

If I can’t show it, if you can’t see me 
What’s the point of doing anything?

from St. Vincent’s ‘Digital Witness’

So I just remember that if I only took one photo from each run in 2018, that’d be 167 photos. At the end of this year, this month, this week, I should have enough photos from my adventures.

I Stopped Looking

Sometimes the best ideas come about when you’re not looking for the best ideas.

Sonic Cathedral, meanwhile, came about by accident after a couple of pints. Nat Cramp had been running a club night of the same name – jokingly billed as “the night that celebrates itself” – for about 18 months when he got chatting to Mark Gardener, frontman of veteran British shoegaze band Ride. “One night, after a show at the Bodega in Nottingham, I spontaneously asked if he’d let me release a 7-inch single for him and he said yes,” Cramp remembers. “I had no idea how to make that happen and I don’t remember having any particular ambitions to run a record label either. I’d just had a couple pints and thought I’d chance my arm!” Almost 15 years later, the label is still going strong.

From NME’s ‘How to run a small independent record label

I love this so much, especially these two parts:

“Came about by accident.”

“Nat Cramp had been running a club night of the same name – jokingly billed as “the night that celebrates itself” – for about 18 months.”

That “by accident” is the sort of thing we don’t hear enough. Instead it’s “I FIGURED THIS OUT” or “I FOUND A WAY.” And the fact that Cramp was doing a club night “for about 18 months.” Yeah, that’s a year and a half. Of “just” doing something.

For a long time I struggled with what I should do, or what was next? I kept strangling the universe for the answer, when actually letting go provided the answer.

And then, by chance, this video hit me square in the face tonight. Before, when asked the “so what do you do” question, I would spew a bunch of internet jargon and editorial speak, and zzzzzzz….

If I would have paid attention to work I was already doing “on the side,” and seeing that it scaled, was sustainable, and profitable, I could have started Close Mondays years ago.

For me, it just took the exhaustion of running the 10 mile Broad Street Run in May 2018 . I was fried physically, and mentally I wasn’t far behind. I had to put Skull Toaster (my baby at the time) on hold, and that’s when it hit me.

When I was a bit broken.

It didn’t come from meetings, cursing the heavens, playing around with some numbers on a note pad… it took being completely exhausted for the message to get through.

Like Cramp above, “just” doing a club night for a year and a half led to the next thing. Developing a running “practice” got me here. Because when running, I can’t scroll through social media for the answers. There’s no time for pity parties when running. There’s focus, and distraction, both at the same time.

I could focus on the running when running, and thinking about running, and planning for races. And running was also a distraction, something that pulled me away from the idea that if I just looked hard enough the answer would come.

First Run of 2019

It was about 50F on New Years Day, so I set off for the Paulinskill Valley Trail in Blairstown, NJ, a 25+ mile trail that was perfect for my first run since resting most of December (after hitting 801 miles for all of 2018).

I was up until 4am the night before, ringing in the new year with some lovely friends in NJ, and I fueled for this run with a few adult beverages, donuts, and nacho cheese deep. Perfect.

The trail was flat as a pancake, and just as spongy since it had been raining. My shoes got muddy, and my bones creaked a little, but overall this was a comfortable, easy run, just getting the body used to running again.

It was just about 30 or 40 minutes, nice and easy, out and back. Once I hit the waterfall at Paulina Lake (above), I ran back on Rt 94. I bore easily covering the same ground, and I really wanted to get a feel for running on the road again, and it felt great.

The best part was just being outside, able to trot along, and feel the legs moving again. This was certainly a nice setting to get back to that.

All in With Daily Burn

Well, I gave Aaptiv a shot, but it just wasn’t for me. I need visuals and I need people.

So it’s back to Daily Burn.

I’ve flirted with the service about a year ago, but balked at the price (it starts around $12/mo) on top of a $20/mo gym membership. But since I only really use the gym for the treadmill and rowing machine, well I cancelled the gym and all in with Daily Burn.

Every weekday morning at 9am Daily Burn has a LIVE streaming workout. Real people, all different abilities, and the trainers are absolute characters. Sure, the whole WORKOUT thing can be cheesy for folks like me, right? I’m a metal head computer nerd, right? Who are these people with bubbly personalities and corny jokes?

Well, it turns out they’re pretty great, and much more encouraging compared to canned audio saying, “you’re doing awesome!” So they can keep up with their bubbly selves, because they keep me going.

The 30 minute workouts leave me worn out, sweaty, occasionally cursing, and ready to die, so I feel like we’re off to a good start. It’s weird to pretty much feel like I’m not in shape doing these workouts when just a few weeks ago I completed a half-marathon, but, I know by doing these workouts, and movements, and cardio, and push ups (oh my god) that I’ll be a faster, stronger runner, and that’s what I want to gain from all this.

Working Out is Hard

If you ask me to run 10 miles in any direction, sure. I can do it.

Ask me to do burpees for 30 seconds and, well… I can do it, but I won’t like it.

My heart rate is just maxed, my shoulders and arms hurt, I’m probably sweating everywhere.

And I know this is why I need to do more working out stuff. Like I said, I can run comfortably for 10 miles. I can bang up some hills, even do a little speed here and there.

Push ups? Leg scissors? Squat jumps? Kill me now.

As Seth Godin recently wrote in “A note from 2030“:

“Twelve years from now, your future self is going to thank you for something you did today, for an asset you began to build, a habit you formed, a seed you planted.”

Dammit, he’s right.

I started running in 2016, and today in 2018 I am super thankful I started then! I really need to honor that note from 2030, and get doing more work out / cross training / weight lifting.

Empty Roads

The end of the week got busy. A Thursday night drive to my friends was thrown off the rails when my rides car broke down. I eventually got where I was going, and Friday was so good. Lots of pizza, good people, and maybe a one too many drinks, but whatever, it all worked out.

Slept maybe five hours on Friday night in Saturday. Had a funeral to attend in the morning, as my aunts husband of some 29 years passed away. Went out to lunch afterwards, then a long drive back home.

I had missed two runs at this point. I was so tired from only sleeping five hours there was no way I could that evening. I fell asleep at about 7pm, I think. I can’t even remember.

Woke up stupid early on Sunday and watched the NYC Marathon which was pretty horrible on ESPN (check out Nicole Bush’s live blog for a good wrap-up). Shalane Flanagan had an awesome pass to take third (and became the “first American woman to make the podium two consecutive times since Kim Jones in 1989 and 1990 with back-to-back second place finishes”).

Afterwards I set out for a long run because, well, it’s Sunday! It was in the 50s, no breeze, and the smells of Autumn in the air. I ran to street where I saw an apartment for rent, just to get a feel for the area (turns out it was a decent area). Then I ran to an pond to run around the dirt trail around it, which then snuck up to a nice paved uphill. Not fast, but felt strong.

Retraced my route coming home, which I never like doing. Turned out the street was closed to traffic because of a parade. There were people on the side of the street, all sitting around, waiting for the parade. And then there was me. On an empty street, which is usually bustling with traffic.

I picked up my pace, into the 9s, which is fast for me! I think it was the fear of being caught by the parade, but that totally didn’t happen. I ran, and kept running, and found more blocked off roads. It was just me, and a completely empty road, with people lining the street.

It wasn’t quite on par with today’s NYC Marathon, but I did hear someone say, “nice day for a run.”

Such a nice run that I didn’t stop to take photos. Hell, I didn’t stop. I kept going, just one foot in the front of the other.

ALSO: This is my third or fourth run in my new New Balance 880v8s, after wearing out my HOKA ONE ONE Bondi 5s, and wow… I mean, I know there was some extra cushion in those HOKAs, but I love the feeling of a more “neutral” shoe these days! I got the HOKAs after my back injury earlier this year, at the direction of my doctor. After many hours of stretching and running, though, I feel great in these new shoes. Quite honestly I don’t know much about any of the different types of shoes, but hey, that’s why you got to a local running shop for guidance (can’t believe everything you read on the internet)!

Start It Now

The best time to start getting into shape, learning to play the guitar, starting a meditation practice, quitting smoking was 10 years ago. The next best time now is right now.

Yes sure, I started running back in 2016 and just ran a half marathon and didn’t die. But you know what I didn’t keep doing from way back in 2016? Push-ups.

In my flurry of “I’m gonna eat better, and start running” excitement, I also downloaded one of those “do a 100 push ups a day” apps. I stuck with it for a few weeks, then… just sorta stopped. If I would have kept with it, for over two years?! Damn, my upper body would be stoked right now.

But I didn’t love doing push ups, I loved running in the woods. So, I ran.

These days I want to run farther, and a little bit faster. And allllll the advice I see out there is… doing strength training (that includes push-ups).

I think with any of this stuff, overlooking the temporary pain in the now to get the completely unknown thing in the future. Somehow I figured if I keep running then someday I’ll be able to run farther. Right now, mentally, I can’t put together that equation; if I do a few push ups today, a few years from now I’ll have more upper body strength which will help me run better.

 

 

Did I just finish the 2018 Runner’s World Half Marathon?

It’s nearly 2 1/2 years since I started running.

Since I looked at “run for five minutes straight” on my Couch to 5K app and thought, how am I gonna do this?

Since I dealt with shin splints from running too fast at the start of a 5K race.

Since I “bonked” during the Broad St. 10 Miler in Philadelphia back in May, and had to walk multiple times.

Over 2 1/2 years of lacing up the shoes, in the heat of summer, and the stinging cold of winter, of just getting out there and showing up, and I just completed my first half-marathon.

When I ran my first mile back in 2016 it took me 13 minutes. This past weekend I ran 13.1 miles.

Continue reading “Did I just finish the 2018 Runner’s World Half Marathon?”

Running for my Life

Since I started running in mid 2016, I’ve noticed changes. No, not washboard abs and a firm tush, but a jolt in self-esteem, pride, attitude, and determination. This bit from a recent story in Entrepreneur really rattled me (emphasis mine).

“If exercise stops, then my health goes downhill. With the loss of physical health my productivity at work goes down. I become depressed. I lose motivation to do the things that makes my business successful. I’ve learned firsthand that excellence in one area of my life promotes excellence in all other areas of my life. Exercise is the easiest area of my life to control. It’s easy to measure. Either I get it in, or I don’t. When I do, it lifts up all other areas of my life, including my business.”

Exercise is the easiest area of my life to control

Exercise is the easiest area of my life to control

Exercise is the easiest area of my life to control

This times infinity. Back in 2016 I was at a crossroads. Most of my meals came from a box or a take out container, and I was snacking all day long on cookies, candy, and ice cream. My attitude sucked, my outlook sucked, and I really didn’t know what I was going to do.

Thankfully a buddy told me that he was challenged at a 4th of July party. Someone bet him he couldn’t run an eight minute mile (turns out he couldn’t). I tried it, and ran a 13 minute mile, and then had problems walking down stairs for a week. But I kept at it because… it was something in my life that I could control.

I couldn’t control job openings, getting interviews, or getting hired by a cool tech company, but I could control this. When I ran, what I wore, how far, how fast… and I kept at it for weeks, then months, and now it’s been almost two and a half years of running. I’m running a half-marathon next month.

Every facet of my life has improved because of running. I still can’t control all that job stuff, but now I’m in a mentally better place to handle that – without eating a sleeve of Oreo cookies.