Taste for Racing

Running in the rain is the best, so long as you’re prepared for it. Thankfully I’ve got my sweet Patagonia rain jacket, which is bomb proof, and pretty much my winter running jacket. Keeps the wind and rain out, and keeps the body heat wrapped up nice inside.

Today I continued my four-miles per day run streak, making it 17 days into April, and almost 70 miles for the month. Just 13 more days to go.

Had a nice talk with my coach today, wrapping up the marathon training cycle that we started way back in December of 2019. Like Morpheus said, what was said was for me, and for me alone, but dammit if I’m not stoked to pick back up later this year and work on some speed. I turn 44 next month, and I’m stoked to keep building towards rad shit.

To be honest I’ve gotten a taste for races, for competition. The fun part about running is you don’t have to be a professional to kick butt. Races vary in size, distance, and the line ups are always varied. That I came in 2nd at a 5K last summer really jolted me. A top 10 finish and 1st in my age group a month later at another 5K.

Like, I can do this.

Again, I’m not thinking of turning pro, but the thought of getting good enough at something like running is thrilling. To show up at a local race – whenever we might able to do that again – and out run other people? Pass other runners? Fend off attacks?

Like, at 44 how else am I gonna experience that?

Moments are Moments

My cat broke my french press in the middle of the night, chasing a mouse – on the counter. We live in farm country, so having mice is sort of typical. A 13lb cat slamming into drying dishes, well, that’s something different.

Didn’t realize how much my day is tied to routine. Not having that morning coffee threw me for a loop. Visited my local Starbucks, thinking I could snag from through the drive-thru, but they’re closed now due to the corona-virus.

Work call, work stuff, all without my coffee. All the washed silverware fell back into the sink in a crash. Computer was acting up.

My 3pm, I said “fuck this” and went for a run (well, hit Target first for a new french press).

All those bad moments in the early part of the day – it’s easy to let them keep rolling, and before you know it it’s now a bad day.

I knew I could have stayed home, buckled down on my laptop, skipped my run, probably scroll through Twitter a bit too much, read the news.

I’m not saying it’s easy, but it’s possible. Do I always win? Nah. But today, the moments stayed moments, and today was a good day.

How I Became a Runner

For starters, I wanted to become a runner. My friend Jesse is the coolest, and we running super far. We used to have bike adventures back in the day, but now he was a runner – I wanted running adventures with my buddy!

I was living with my parents in 2016. Eating like shit. I remember I lost the definition in my ankles, from all the years prior when I biking 100 miles a week.

Times were tough. I could not find work. Automated rejection emails were a regular thing in my inbox. I needed something I could control.

My best friend texted me from a 4th of July picnic. Said someone bet him he couldn’t run an eight minute mile. He tried and said he couldn’t do it. I tried a day or two later, and ran a mile in 13 minutes and my thighs hurt so bad I had difficulty walking down stairs for a week.

But I wanted this. I wanted to be a runner. I didn’t just want to lose weight, I wanted to be fit an in shape and look like a runner, so I had to become a runner.

The image at the top of this post is one of my first long runs, from way back in 2016, about three months from when I started with a Couch to 5K app. I can now run a 10K (6.1 miles) in 54 minutes, an 8:36/mile pace.

The biggest thing was I started back in 2016. If you’re reading this now and thinking you want to be a runner, the best time to have started was back in 2016. The next best time is today.

Around this time another friend (a seasoned runner) told me to not worry about speed or pace, just focus on “time on feet.” Run 30 minutes, run 40 minutes, run 60 minutes. Don’t worry about pace, just be out there moving on your feet. Your entire body has to adjust; bones, muscles, lungs, YOUR MIND. The run mentioned above that took over an hour was crucial to my being able to run 18 miles a few months ago.

It’s all foundational.

That slow shitty run is okay. That fast run where you felt is okay, too. Appreciate the moments when you’re feeling good, and know that somedays it won’t feel like that. So when your run sucks, remember that it won’t last forever. You’ll feel better tomorrow. Or in your next mile!

Probably the biggest thing – slow down. You shouldn’t be short of breath, huffing and puffing, ready to die. Slow. Down. Remember, your foot bones need to adjust to the pounding. Your heart has to get better at pumping blood to your muscles. Your tendons are working overtime now, too.

You’re asking your body to do a lot, so be kind to yourself. Slow down. Forget that “I can’t walk” shit. If you need to walk, WALK. Save the bravado for a big race or group adventure when you’re surrounded by people to cheer you on and support you. I’m not saying you can’t push it sometimes, but don’t run yourself into the ground. Save some energy for tomorrow. There’s always tomorrow.

Bring water, or don’t. Wear short shorts, or tights, or whatever. Do what feels good for you. Don’t obsess, over planning everything, researching. Go fail, go fall on your face, go get blisters.

Get out of your comfort zone from time to time, stop playing it safe, and just try shit.

I remember the first time I ran on consecutive days. WHAT??! I just did it, and didn’t break, and then took it easy of course. But you need to try stuff to figure out what works for you.

But to keep trying those things, you have to stay healthy. You have to enjoy it, it needs to be fun. So slooow down. Take some photos. Smell some roses along the way.

Now you’re a runner.

P.S.: it took me three years, and lots of running, but I finally ran that eight minute mile (7:49/mile) in a small 5K trail race.

Just Run a Bunch

In starting my recent run streak (four miles every day since March 30), I was mostly inspired by a friend who’s been running 10+ miles for like 50 days. He’s a monster.

Now, I’ve been running almost four years now, consistently adding mileage year over year, and building overall fitness. Someday I’d love to run 10 miles a day, too. So where do I start?

I want to fail, but smartly. Then I can pick myself up and move forward armed with new ideas on how to improve. I accept that I may get injured occasionally as I try to push limits and push myself.

Grayson Murphy

I started working with Grayson in 2019, working on my nutrition and diet. Then she was virtual coach, helping me train for the Queens Marathon that sadly got cancelled because of the Corona Virus outbreak. With her help I was able to run 18 miles in one shot!

So why not try to run four miles a day? I’m not sprinting them, or charging up 1000s of feet of elevation on these runs. I’m playing it smart, getting plenty of rest, stretching, all that good stuff.

But it’s fun to learn, and see what the body is capable of. I know I can get in 25-ish mile a week by just running a few times a week. But right now I need the peaceful experience of daily running. It helps break up my day, from work to not work, and seriously clears my head for a peaceful, restful night, which is something I definitely need during this time.

How I’m Dealing with the Corona Virus Pandemic

Thankfully, I get to work from home. I’ve been doing “web work for some publicist friends” since 2013, but in 2018 I made it official; called it Close Mondays, set up a website, and thankfully still in biz considering the circumstances going on right now in the world.

WORK

That said, my work isn’t essential or life saving, but it’s work that still needs to be done. Art and music are as vital as ever, so records need to be sold and shipped, and people are looking to be entertained, so thankfully I work with some good folks, and we’re getting that done.

I have moments, though, where some of the work seems trivial. I mean, how can it not, when 500+ people have died in my state? Guitar play through videos clash with people losing their businesses because of a state ordered shut down.

So I do my best to keep those moments as moments, and not let them derail my day. Usually I’ll just make some more coffee, or go for a walk. When I come back I do my best to get back into the flow of work.

Three big things that have helped me during this time, equipment-wise: a standing desk, a 27″ 4K monitor, and a for-real computer chair.

If you work in front of a computer for any length of time, I recommend all three things. You can even hack together a standing desk (that’s what I did for a long time). Get a bigger monitor, or at least prop up your lap top so you’re not staring down at and straining your neck, and then get a full size keyboard and mouse. Trust me – your entire body will thank you a decade from now.

Even with all those comforts, I’m not nearly as focused as I once was. There’s a global pandemic swirling around out there. There are mass graves in New York City, bodies are left in the street in Guayaquil.

These are not ordinary times, so I’m not my ordinary self. Neither are a lot of people.

HEALTH

A few weeks ago I joined with friends (virtually of course, through Instagram), and did a #fiveby5K challenge. That got me out the door everyday to run a distance of 5K, 3.1 miles.

The next week came around, and on April 1st I ran four miles. So then I ran another four miles on the 2nd. Today is the 13th, and so far I’ve kept my streak going, having run 52 miles so far this month.

With running, it’s not just the 40ish minutes of that four mile run. There’s the timing of your food intake a few hours before, there’s the 10 minutes of stretching, there’s the post-run routine of updating Strava and maybe making an Instagram post. The cool down, the shower… so that 44 minute run was really on my mind for a few hours during my day, which I think is a healthy distraction from everything going on.

In the midst of all this I somehow had a yearly check up with my doctor. Everything is fine, except my blood pressure could stand to see a drop, and the doctor said the best way to do that is lose about five pounds.

All that running is one thing, but he said I need to do more cross training. So I’ve been using the Nike Training App (which has a free premium offer going), for some good upper body work outs, and the Streaks Workout app to get me moving a little bit more throughout the day. The six minute work-out is great before my morning smoothie or a second cup of coffee, and the 12 minute workout is a lot of fun after a run.

For news, I subscribed to one of my local papers, The Morning Call. Keeping up with the world and national news is absolutely draining, so I wanted to keep it local, since this is where I live, and where I can help, both in volunteer / donation areas, but also what places are still open, and maybe who needs some support financially. This is all good for being a part of something, rather than consuming the firehose of doom and despair that’s happening all over the world right now.

FOOD

Oh, how I would love to stock up on cookies and chips, but I can not have any snacks in the house because I will devour them in 48 hours. Literally.

I’ve basically had a smoothie for breakfast everyday for years now, but I’m trying my best to switch up my recipes. My tried and true smoothie calls for one banana, but I’ve been to grocery stores lately and they’ve been out! I found this sweet potato smoothie recipe and absolutely love it, and it lessens my need for a full banana every day (okay, half a banana).

Salads. With lots of stuff. This is new for me, and I don’t know how well it’s going to hold up with going to the grocery store every 7+ days, but I know more veggies are important, so we’ll see how this works.

Dinner wise is usually burritos with lots of veggies, lettuce, and salsa. Homemade pizza. Pasta with crumbled up veggie chorizo. Once every two weeks now has been take out.

I haven’t had a drink really since the Super Bowl, back in February. All our liquor stores are closed right now, and eh, I’m trying to lose some weight, so going without beer for now is fine with me. Maybe I’ll have a celebratory beer after the first race once everything gets back to normal.

Streaks

This month I’ve run every day, 11 days, four miles each day.

I’ve been following my pal Ed on Instagram, and he’s been running for 50 days straight, usually 10+ miles a day.

He’s doing it fast, sure, but it’s the heart that impresses me. He’ll repost some Instagram Stories from friends who’ve started to run, inspired by his journey.

He’s had to put his own oxygen mask on first (his wife passed away last June), before he could ever think of helping anyone else. The byproduct of “just” taking care of himself has put so much good out in the world, and dammit, at the end of that day that’s what so much of this is about.

The Wind Won’t Win

The wind knocked the power out, at least for a little bit. Long enough to wait for everything to reboot, and make some more coffee.

Chose to continue my Four Miles Every Day in April streak in downtown Hamburg (Strava link), figuring the buildings might give me some shelter but the wind didn’t care. It was fierce, around 20mph according my app. The sort of gusts that suck the air from your lungs and push you backwards.

Headwinds used to upset me. Literally, I’d get mad at the wind, the conditions. I’d let it turn me sour, and ruin the moment. That really goes back to my bike riding days, but in recent years, I just accept it.

Being mad at the wind won’t stop the wind. Being upset at the current situation doesn’t change anything. As Seth Godin recently wrote, “We can’t change how things are in any given moment, but we can change how we will approach today.”

My approach to running lately has been embracing the suck, because it can literally change from one mile to the next. The first mile, the second mile… pure suck. But usually, for me, that third mile, then the fifth, the eighth, that’s when thing feel good.

So right now, in the midst of a global pandemic, and a thousand things going wrong with every passing hour, death, sorrow, and pain, well, yelling at the wind ain’t gonna help, so better to just move forward as best we can.

Abelton Live is Now 30% Off

Abelton Live 10 is 30% off until May, and…

The Live 10 trial period has been temporarily increased to 90 days, giving you more time to play with all the features of Ableton Live Suite. Active trials will automatically be extended. And anyone who has used the trial before can now use it again.

I’ve been playing with Abelton Live since December 2017 or so. It’s a challenge getting away from the GarageBand way of recording, but it’s been rewarding. Started off with the trial version (version nine!), and upgraded to Lite, which was about $80. I’m not recording an album or anything, but it’s been fun to mess around and make some music again.

Check it out.

Looking For Normal

Trying my best to “archive” some of the stuff I share on Instagram here, on my blog, the thing that won’t go away, or get buried in a stream of other posts. When you’re here, you’re here, on a blog.

I met Mike way back in the mid 2000s or so, when I moved to NYC. Kind, gentle soul. I have no idea about the art stuff he does, but when I’ve visited his studio he would always encourage me to dive in and cut up magazines and make collages, too. I love that about him.

And the point, too, as mentioned above, is “normal” is gone now, and who the heck knows when it comes back. I don’t even think it’ll look the same. For now, anyways, I do my best to not think that far out.