Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Realization

Joints ached and popped with the too-sudden start that generally results from being in a hurry.

The hectic outset predictably devolved into a rough, awkward, disjointed run, punctuated by needless near-misses with rolled ankles and labored breathing unwarranted for such a trifling pace.  The humor of the situation didn't really present itself until after the second or third instance of a mental breakdown almost being caused by fully law-abiding drivers calmly passing by.

I just had to laugh.  It was ludicrous.  With only a short run left and hours before any obligations, I only had myself to blame for any consternation, and upon very brief further examination, any stress in the moment was simply a fabrication of my pointlessly hurried mind.

This run, as are many others, was explicitly intended to be a carefree and relaxing time, a bright spot in the day.

But this run, as are many others, had been sullied by the rest of the day's concerns forcing their way into its mental sanctuary, and consequently manifesting themselves in a very physical way.

Every now and then, we've just got to step back and realize the ridiculousness of our own self-imposed dire straights.  With this realization often comes the grace required to allow for those runs that we so often wish we could convey to others, but for which we have no words.

At least in this case, the realization predictably evolved into a smooth, collected, rhythmic run, punctuated by subtle delights and hidden nuances inherent with such pastime.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Run in the Rain

The light rain hitting my face was more of a simple observation than an annoyance.

Truth be told, a single iota's worth of planning could have prevented it by simply looking at the forecast and packing a hat to wear.  Oh well...

All other aspects of yesterday's run proved quite pleasant; a slow-moving cold front provided light rain for most of the day, which cooled things to an almost ideal temperature for an easy run after work, and, as occasionally noted with early-morning runs, such conditions effectively greyed-out the world around me, which in turn provided a feast for the other reactively-heightened senses.

Wandering thoughts were occasionally punctuated by momentarily noticing a fat drop from a tree amongst the nearly mist-like rain, or taking in the smell of the perfectly cool-not-cold rain.

Soon enough, those same thoughts would meander away from the external, only to be brought back by another minor incident of note, the cycle repeating time and time again.

The current faux-taper for an upcoming race ensured that standard achiness, stiffness, and concern for pace were at least somewhat abated, and therefore allowed an even greater freedom to enjoy the moment.

These are some of the most fleeting and most enjoyable runs we get, if we simply allow them to be.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Semi of Reality

Cruising along, blissfully disconnected from the world, with only the occasional lucid thought bubbling to the surface of a vast and churning ocean of subliminal thought, the semi came as something of a shock to the system.

In and of itself, the semi wasn't particularly noteworthy.
In and of itself, the run wasn't particularly noteworthy.
In and of itself, the intersection wasn't particularly noteworthy.

The confluence was.

...or at least seemed to be...

Objectively, the semi was simply going through the daily grind of doing the job for which it was intended, and in similar fashion, the run was simply another part of the daily grind of training.
But subjectively, the semi was as out of place in my little world of running as I assume I was in its little world of work.

Barreling down a hill, turning a corner, and relishing in the ease and flow of the run, the semi waiting at the intersection simply served to snap me back into reality.  The minor trajectory adjustment that resulted in a slight break in stride threw me out of rhythm for the remainder of the run.

It seems almost petty to allow such a passive aspect of the route have such a profound effect, but in another sense, perhaps this particular aspect of running is quite profound and, too often, only has passive effects.

So many aspects of our daily runs escape us due to our being lost in thought, lost out of thought, or simply lost.  Sometimes the semi of reality can bring us crashing back into the real world and thereby allow us to experience the world through which we run in a more active way.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Things Unseen

Unless I'm mistaken, it's been said that something like 90% of the information your brain perceives is visual.  It would logically follow, then, that an environment in which vision was reduced would yield significantly less perceived information.

I suppose it should come as no surprise that, yet again, a pre-dawn run seemed to fly in the face of logic.

Stepping out into the darkness around 4:30, I'd be lying if I said that I was happy to be out of bed, but, also true to form, within a very few minutes, the loathsome facade had fallen away, and I was struck by the wonder all around me.

...that I couldn't see...

Sure, the stars were gorgeous as usual, and yes, the faint overcast of city lights radiated beautifully upward in the distance, but the things unseen were the true marvel of the morning.

With the sun still far from threatening its arrival, and with the groggy blur slowly shaking out of still-sleepy eyes, the other senses bolted to life.

Smelling the damp trees and grass all around, hearing the chirping insects and occasional hissing sprinkler, feeling the cool, humid air rushing past while road slowly passed underfoot; it seemed like even the sensations inherent with perennially tight ankles and achy arches were enhanced and, somehow, more pleasant.

Could it be that through the deprivation of a primary sense, we can actually gather more sensation via the empowerment of the others?  Is it possible that the dark, calm solitude of an early morning run can teach us more about the world around us than the cacophony of perception that comes with the daylight?

This morning's run seemed to indicate so, but this afternoon's might challenge the notion...

Friday, September 6, 2013

Denton on Training

If you've never read John Parker's Once A Runner or it's late coming sequel Again To Carthage, I would highly recommend doing so for a variety of reasons, assuming you have at least a token interest in either running or personal struggle, as both are included in the books, and both seem to be analogs to the other therein.
At some point in Again To Carthage, the protagonist's mentor Bruce Denton offers a bit of sage wisdom gleaned over the years and through the miles:  running is fun, but training is decidedly less enjoyable.

I would disagree.

Granted, I've never trained, run, competed, or in any other way existed at the elite level of Denton or his protege Cassidy, the stories' main protagonist, but I have run, I have trained, and I have competed.  Hard.
I agree that running is fun.  I enjoy doing so.  My disagreement comes with the assertion that training is less enjoyable.

Training is hard.

Training can suck.
Training can hurt.

Training can beat you up and leave you doubled over, panting, wondering why you chose to embark upon such a journey, with a ludicrous goal in a silly activity for an absurd distance.

...but that's what makes it so marvelous...

It truly is a marvel what you can do, both in terms of what you can achieve and how you can shape and mold you physical, mental, and emotional self through this outrageous act of training.
Others don't and won't understand it and will, more often than not, try to convince you to relent, but you can't.  We can't.  And what's more, we can't explain why.

Yesterday's run, for whatever reason, was hard.  It sucked.  It hurt.  It beat me up and left me doubled over, panting, wondering why I chose to embark upon such a journey, with a ludicrous goal in a silly activity for an absurd distance.

...and it was marvelous.

Running is fun. Training is fun, too, but it can truly suck.

Here's hoping you're training for something...

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Distractions to Focus

Sometimes we get distracted.

We usually pretend that it's unexpected, unwanted, and entirely unnecessary.

I'm beginning to disagree.

After all, isn't this inclination to run nothing more than a distraction from the rest of "real life?"  By my understanding, the running habit is the definition of a distraction, as it draws attention away from other, probably more important aspects of our day.

But that's where the paradox presents itself.  It has been my experience that the more we run, the more we can focus on what's important; the very act of distracting ourselves allows for a level of discernment.

This effect is even layered within our runs.  For example, when some rather large flying insect decided that dive-bombing my arm was a good idea, it was something of an annoying distraction momentarily, but this distraction was quite quickly diverted into a focus on getting back into the rhythm of the run, which, in turn, enhanced the focus on the non-running side of life.

We've all experienced this on some level.  A brief distraction simply results in our redoubling of efforts to key in on what's really important.  We use our distractions to focus.


Monday, August 19, 2013

Training, I Think...

Back in the full swing again, truly aiming for a race for the first time in years, I can't help but be struck by the difference of perspective I seem to have this time.

I'm training, I think...

Previous iterations of this exercise of training have been marked with a rather mundane mileage buildup, occasionally complemented by an injection of speed to keep monotony at bay.  The current incarnation has the same mileage ramp, but the monotony has proven to be an ally rather than an enemy, and the speed sessions are simply added bonuses as opposed to mental necessities.

Perhaps the past few years' worth of experiences running the full gamut of life's quite eclectic facets have provided a more objective outlook, or maybe a few added responsibilities have simply put the world of running on its proper tier of priority.

Either way, the simple, almost cliche act of "putting in the time" has taken on a renewed sense of enjoyment rather than apprehension, of anticipation rather than anxiety.  The miles and miles and miles are a leisure, not a chore.

I might be late to the party on this one; I hope you've all beaten me to the punch here and are wondering how I'm just figuring this out...

...but while you wonder, I'm going to keep training, I think...


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Missing Out

Many people don't understand why we run, and, more often than not, we are at a loss when it comes to articulating a response.  This is even more true when those asking decide to cling to their predetermined loathing of our sport.  We simply cannot provide a comprehensive and lucid reason without delving into euphemisms and the ethereal, and astute antagonists will often point this out with their own anecdotal evidence to support such contrarian views.

Their loss.

Euphemisms aside, the minutia of our daily runs make them worth the while.

Noticing the flora and fauna, greeting the mail carriers, feeling the changes of the seasons; these are all such integral parts of life, and yet they tend to go unnoticed without something like a monotonous daily run to force them into view.

Big races, PR's, and physical milestones seem to warrant all the attention, but yesterday's run illustrated that the daily grind might just have some of the most important, if not the most subtle benefits.

Saturday, July 13, 2013


One of the little wonders of life is that seemingly identical situations can have an almost infinite number of outcomes.  This is illustrated well with the limitless experiences that are possible on a single route run day after day after day.

Perhaps such an observation is obvious, but Monday's run brought this presumably self-evident concept to the fore.

It was the same standard route around town, a variant of which is generally run three or four times per week.

It was the same standard weather for this time of year, which around here means hot and humid enough to have your forearms dripping within minutes of starting the run.

It was the same standard time of day, usually meaning a slowly waning volume of traffic. 

The specifics of the run aren't important; it could be any route to which you've grown almost monotonously accustomed on any given day, the "everyman" of runs. (I suppose the achievement of such an "everyman" of runs is a deep and hard-earned concept, but that's an entirely different post...)

Regardless of when or where it all occurred, it was the seemingly standard variances that paradoxically made it noteworthy: a careless right on red, a couple out walking the dog, some friends out for an afternoon walk.  These are the things that force ever-so-slight changes in an otherwise average run and thus transform the standard into the deviation.

A wide swing or a tight turn can provide vantage points and observations counter to the norm; who knew this stretch of yard was incongruously overgrown or that the small hanging branch that was such an annoyance during the winter could have such beautiful buds in the summer?

An ornery ankle or dead legs might be grounds for assuming it just wasn't a good day, but how gratifying is it to know that you toughed it out, and isn't there value in having the not-as-easy days as a basis of comparison...?

The wandering thoughts are endless and inevitably lead to a challenge of the definition or assignment of the term "standard."  What is a standard run?  Who sets said standard?  When did I/he/she/they/we define this elusive standard?

Alas, before all the answers to these questions, along with the countless others that arose, could be adequately answered, the run was over, leaving the mysteries of the universe to be pondered on another "standard" run.

...and if all this is from just one run, the extrapolation out to the rest of life is all the more entrancing...

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


The first few miles had gone as well as could be expected for a Tuesday afternoon this time of year.  A mile or so had been spent shaking out the cobwebs that had developed through another day at work, and the Southern humidity had been true to form having all those daring to be out of doors wringing wet within a very few minutes.

Left foot, right foot....

No surprises to be found on the course that so many know so well.  Up the first little rise, dance through the first series of rocks, make the next turn... Even the consistently ordered series of smells found along the course, ranging from the cut grass of the adjacent golf course to the sun-baked organics of the nearby landfill, came and went in predictable fashion.

Left foot, right foot...

Just another run on another steamy day, until, of course, the horsefly made its presence known....

Coming through the last little bit of the course, the buzzing of flies seemed a bit more cacophonous than usual.  At first, this did little more than create a brief note in the already stalling internal monologue.

Soon enough, however, the quick back of the arm sting of one of Creation's miserable creatures snapped me out of my near stupor back into the reality of the present.  A quick swat easily dislodged the beast, which proceeded to harass me until I had vacated his territory, which extended far beyond what one would expect for such an animal.  He returned to his guard post by the bush should I have the audacity to return...

As everyone knows, a horsefly bite isn't life-altering; it's not even really noteworthy most of the time; it's more of just a general annoyance.

But to a runner falling victim to the doldrums of the routine, a horsefly can be an ironic source of enlivenment.  For the next 8 or 9 miles, I was awake, present, in the moment.  The thought of the horsefly had vanished within minutes, but the effect was long-lasting.  It was quite refreshing to be back engaged in the activity.

In a seemingly odd way, this annoyance of nature had reminded me of the joy inherent in running.  It can be so monotonous at times, but the occasional jolt of sensation can remind us of the wonders around us and bring us back to experiencing the run of the moment rather than the mental tire-spinning of a so-called "boring" run.

I just hope I can remember this without having to find any more horseflies...

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A Simple Question

A friend of mine emailed me this question the other day, and when I got done with my reply, I had written far more than I intended.  I know it's a topic that has been tossed around in various forms time and time again, but I figured I'd put it out there for others to mull over.
The question is that of talent.  If you are so inclined, take a look at the original question and response and chime in with your own thoughts...

Sent: 6/20/2013 22:43
To: John Nevels
Subject: Question.

How much of running is talent. I hear this word thrown around. How much "talent" is there in placing one foot in front of the other?  How much of it is training and dedication. "consistency is key," right? How much of running (from the 5k and on up to ultras) is really dependent on "talent". Just curious. What is stopping me from being a sub 2:30 marathoner besides an extra 150 lbs and Bruce Denton? Feel free to ask around haha.... 

From: John Nevels <>
Date: Sat, Jun 22, 2013 at 4:57 PM
Subject: Re: Question.

 Generally, by and large, "talent" is a copout word used by people who don't want to put in the work.
That said, there are definitely some anatomical and physiological advantages to be had when it comes to running, some of which are determined by genetics, and some by environmental factors outside of your control.
To be sure, and I can't emphasize this enough, 85-90% of running aptitude and success is up to the runner and can be affected by your aforementioned habits of training, dedication, consistency, etc.  It's that 10-15% that makes amazing running feats possible and separates the Olympians of today from the rest of us.  I fully believe that, if I trained like Galen Rupp, I could push my 5k down from my current PR (16:36) to around 14:30-15:00, maybe even faster; I just don't know.  However, I fully believe that just the right ratio of dimensions of legs and body, just the right functionality of lungs, just the right muscular response to training and baseline vascularity (all genetic predispositions that cannot be altered through training), coupled with just the right environment growing up, like, say, spending the first 18 years of life living at 7000 feet (environmental factor out of runner's control), that amazing things are possible.  With an influx of interest, money, and attention to running (like what Rupp, Ritz, Webb, etc. have gotten), then such phenoms that have all the right puzzle pieces will be found.  Also, when an aptitude is seen as a way out of poverty and desolation, such as what the Kenyans have found, incentive will be present as well.  They've all got just a tiny percentage better functionality in a very small subset of their anatomy and physiology, that, when multiplied by 1000 steps or 1000 heartbeats or 1000 breaths can actually add up to something.
That said, I think that the farther you go, the more training takes precedent over "talent."  An aptitude to be in the Olympic 100m dash is determined at birth, and the rest of us just have to suck it.  I'll never be able to do what Usain Bolt does, and I couldn't even come close, regardless of how much I tried.  On the other hand, I fully believe I could be in the same ballpark and competitive with, say, Anton, if I were willing to put in the work he has.  I'm not, and most people aren't.  Obviously, Bolt and Anton are the extreme ends of the spectrum, and I think there is a full continuum of training vs talent in between, but I really think that the vast, vast majority of it all is training.
As some anecdotal evidence, I weighed the same at age 11 as I did at age 20 (a rather substantial height difference, though).  For being over 6 feet tall, I've got relatively short legs, and I'll never be as lean as the Kenyans.  I started as the slowest person on my XC team (like, girls and all) and have finished DFL more than once.  My freshman year, my 5k's started around 27 minutes (which was much faster than when I was in middle school, when I was thrilled beyond measure to hit a 28:xx, and the slowest 5k I remember being a 45 as a kid).  I would have been a prime candidate to play the "no talent" card and give up.  With this as a background, it almost personally offends me when people claim no talent, and it DOES personally offend me when most people tell me that they would love to do the running I do, but that I'm clearly far more talented than they are, so they're not going to beat me; I've put in too much work to attribute this to a simple natural gift.  I worked my butt off over the rest of high school to end up with a high school PR of 16:57 and be on the still-standing school record 4x800m team, then keep on going to do this ultra nonsense.  I understand that a 400-pounder is probably not going to beat me in a 5k, but a large part of this is due to previous choices that have lead to the current condition, as well as the mental state that is generally present in such instances.  I understand that some people have huge frames and don't respond as well to training, but this discrepancy in purely natural aptitude gets smaller as the distances get larger.  As a point of note, I should probably state the fact that I'm NOT a fast ultrarunner; based on relative results, I'm a far better 5k-er and 10k-er than ultrarunner; the simple fact that I've finished certain events and distances (read: been willing to complete) makes some people *think* I'm a good ultrarunner.

 Talent in the (distance) running world is USUALLY used the same way that luck is used in the rest of life.  A copout.  People don't want to recognize that they can do these things, run these times, cover these distances, accomplish these cool feats, because once they recognize the capability, it's entirely on them.  They can't blame it on talent or parents or luck.  They have to own up that they aren't willing to put in the work.  I take full responsibility for not being like Anton or Meltzer or Roes.  I think most people would rather blame their knees.
All that said, running, like you said, is a simple act.  One foot in front of the other; how bad could it be?  The paradox is part of the beauty of the challenge.  It's something so simple, but so difficult.
Dang... I didn't mean to write a dissertation or a sermon there.  My bad.... ( was at this point that I realized I shouldda just said, 'yeah'...)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Slow Down

It was a beautiful, sunny day.

Temperatures were in the upper 80's, a few wisps of clouds hovered high in their ever-temporal fashion, and an oh-so-slight breeze danced through the city streets.

The pace was pretty relaxed; a friend had sent a message earlier asking about the possibility of a run after work, and such an idea sounded marvelous, even after a tiring day.  Truth be told, the lack of speed was an unexpected blessing, allowing the true nature of the day to soak in and replace the wearisome tenor that various circumstances and revelations of the day had caused it to assume.

Sometimes we need such a slow down to get us back into a disposition that allows us to take in the marvels of the world around us, to seek refuge from the brooding outlook that is all too often forced upon us.  Often times it proves difficult to reign in the speed of our runs, much less our lives and our world, even when we nominally make the effort; our slow runs paradoxically turn out to be yet another chore through which we rush in an effort to get to the next item on the list.  Our overly-filled, scheduled, planned, and regulated days have all too often caused us to miss the true benefits and beauty of the slow down.

A few easy miles on a warm, clear day can work wonders that are beyond the understanding of an air-conditioned mind working at 100 gigabytes per second.

Lessons of the slow down are easy to pick up, if we'll only take the time to try.

Friday, June 14, 2013


Sometimes it's fun to step out there and show the new(er) runners that there's still a little fire left the furnace.

That fire doesn't necessarily burn in any one particular hue.  Sometimes it's the color of a fast run; sometimes it's the color of long run; sometimes it's just the color of accrued running wit and wisdom.  Every time it's the color of hard fought shades earned over the course of miles and miles and miles.

We've all had these little flashes.  Sometimes they are more noticeable than others, and sometimes they only serve to remind us that perhaps we should stoke up the flames again.

The ways in which we burn are specific to each one of us, but all of us put forth a radiant energy.  Sometimes it's noticed, sometimes it's absorbed, and sometimes it's even reflected by others.

Sometimes we just need a reminder of the fires that burn within...

Saturday, May 4, 2013

My Week On The Run...

Another week in the books... A slight build from last week, but that's fine; in my mind, the name of the game at this point is staying healthy, so fewer miles is not big deal... That said, since it was such a slight build, I might try for one more high mileage week before tapering down.  We shall see, I suppose...

Also, I managed to re-name the facebook page for the upcoming run to Sumatanga:

The miles:

Sunday (4/28):
4 before youth easy, 5 after very easy with Aaron.

Monday (4/29):
Legs a little heavy to start, but loosened up nicely.
More traffic than usual; road work on Holmes to dodge.

Tuesday (4/30):
10 solo (1:18:09), then 4 easy with Anna.  Felt fine; legs a little dead at the end.

Wednesday (5/1):
3 before youth (22:24) and 4 after with Aaron.  Easy effort with quickened pace toward the ends of both runs.

Thursday (5/2):
TN River really high, so flooded parts of Pt. Mallard trail around ankle-shin deep.  First time a fish of any appreciable size has ever had to swim out of my way while running...

Friday (5/3):
Easy around Huntsville.  Very windy.

Saturday (5/4):
AM: 1 mile warmup, then Steeple Chase 8k (30:30, 2nd o/a).  Cold and wet.  Moderate effort.
PM:  6 (45:11) easy around Oak Lea

Weekly Totals:
64 miles

Saturday, April 27, 2013

My Week On The Run...

Before I forget, I suppose I could point out one of the driving reasons for the recent buildup in mileage.  I'm helping out with a fundraiser for Camp Sumatanga, with the idea being that I run the entire route (see the route here), while various groups, youth and otherwise, run "relay"-style with me.  The route is intentionally indirect in an effort to run by as many Methodist Churches en route, since Sumatanga belongs to the North Alabama Conference of the UMC.  I put up a facebook page for the run a little earlier this week, which can be found at: 

Back to the regular training report...
This was my first week over 60 in quite a while, but all in all, no real complaints.  One more building week before something of a taper.

Sunday (4/21):
8pm  After Youth.  Good weather; easy recovery run.

Monday (4/22):
Various parts of both legs took turns protesting this run, so chalking it up as a mental training day.

Tuesday (4/23):
Didn't want to start, but felt good once I did...

Wednesday (4/24):
Just squeezing a few miles in before youth in drizzly rain.  Easy...

Thursday (4/25):
@ Pt Mallard.  Easy out, felt like I picked it up coming back, but only ~7:25/mile pace.

Friday (4/26):
Cloudy, windy, trying to start raining but never quite making it.
Easy, just going through the motions...

Saturday (4/27):
Warmup, cooldown, and Swampers 5k (18:02, 4th o/a)
Threatening rain the whole time, but only actually rained the last <1 good="" mile="" p="" so="" temps.="">No valid complaints; distance and race felt fine.

Weekly Totals:
63.6 miles

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Run Salvaged

Sometimes you just have those days.

You don't want to go run, but convince yourself to head out the door under the assumption that everything will feel great once you get started, and 99% of the time, that's exactly what happens.

Then there are those days.

You've optimistically gone out the door and given an honest effort to get into and enjoy the run, but the various bits, pieces, joints, and giblets of your legs take turns protesting the decision to venture away from the couch.  Usually these protests subside after a mile or two, but on those days, such twinges are relentless.

The "rhythm" of the run never really materializes, and you feel sluggish and disjointed the whole time.  You chalk it up to a "mental training day" and hope for the best the next day...

Then, with just a few minutes left, a random stranger runs by, smiling, and says "nice race!"

Having no earthly idea who this person is, we are left to assume it was an angel, sent from running heaven to save you from the demoralization of a bad training day.

On occasion, we are all indebted to these road angels, who appear and disappear, and yet provide us with such a wonderful gift.

A run salvaged.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

My Week On The Run...

I started this week with grand intentions of making it one more mileage building week before a recovery week, but weather and vocational responsibilities got in the way.  No big deal; I'll just swap it with the next week...  In any case, here's  the breakdown...

Sunday (4/7)
made the mistake of taking a nap during a free afternoon upon the premise of running after youth (honestly), but, true to form, murphy's laws of running took hold when one of the youth needed to stay and talk until around 10.

Monday (4/8):
it's a little intimidating on yet another mileage buildup week to not have that mileage cushion from a sunday run.  even so, once out the door, things went rather well in the newly arrived spring weather.  even broke the seal of shirtless running for the year.

Tuesday (4/9):
warm and windy (and pollen-y).   Aside from that, not too noteworthy. (i guess that means it was a good run...)

Wednesday (4/10):
10 (1:18:12)
3 before youth (22:26), and 7 after (55:46).  both went well.  7 late (started ~9ish) reminded me why i used to like the late-night runs in starkville (except for the downtown/bar areas, no one out and about... roads all to myself...)

Thursday (4/11)
wussed out in the bad weather and decided to bag it the rest of the week.  i did walk a mile on friday with rob, kathy, and george to help mark the quarters of their certified mile race on saturday, and saturday drove to atlanta.

Total:  30 miles (3:51:16)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Perceptions (Wandering Thoughts)

Spring is finally making itself known around here; longer, warmer days make getting out the door just a little easier, and the re-emergence of some strange substance called pollen is giving everything around here a strange yellow-ish tint.

Along with the rise in temperatures comes the inevitable shedding of clothing worn, especially while running.  I suppose it's the relatively sudden change in running wardrobe that has caused such a curiosity, but I can't help but wonder how the perennial dwellers of the great indoors perceive those of us that seem to always be braving the other.

The stark contrast of worlds is nothing new; I've been relatively amused at the strange looks I tend to receive from both patrons of one of the bars I pass on my daily runs, as well as people trapped on the treadmills, staring out the windows of an apartment gym downtown.

Throughout the winter, I can only imagine the strange thoughts that pass through their minds when, shortly after they get inside and shake off the bitter cold, they see some random guy galloping down the street in shorts, seemingly oblivious to the miserable weather that they had just escaped.  These same air conditioned personnel perhaps have some choice words for the very same scantily clad runner making his way through town on the first few warm days of spring (not to mention the searing days of summer sure to come...)

Of course, there are certainly interesting trains of thought to be had regarding my (our) perception of them, and I suspect there are similarities between the two opposing views.  Who knows...?

Wandering thoughts... one of the hidden gems of the daily grind...

Saturday, April 6, 2013

My Week On The Run...

I seemed like this week was Old Man Winter's (hopefully) last stab at making life miserable for those of us inclined to venture out of doors even in such nonsensical weather as 30's in April.  In any case, nothing too monumental to report; just the relentless upward march of miles...

Sunday (3/31):
no MYF for Easter (ironic...). dodging rain and listening to birds; good temps (low 60's), body felt good at finish (i.e., no twinges).

Monday (4/1):
took a little will power to get out, but no valid complaints once the run got underway.

Tuesday (4/2):
felt a little sluggish; took a little longer than normal for the ankles to loosen up and never really got into a groove, but uneventful otherwise.

Wednesday (4/3):
squeezing a few in before youth.  a little drizzly, but i think the rain shell was still a bit much.

Thursday (4/4):
just going through the motions.  drizzly and cool; *hopefully* the last gasp of winter (which, by the way, caused some rather unfortunate chaffing that i wasn't aware of until after i finished...).

Friday (4/5):
easy run at pt mallard.  finally some good weather.

Saturday (4/6):
2 mile warmup (15:44)
River City 10k (38:31: 5:42, 5:54, 6:11, 6:10, 6:37, 6:34, 1:21)
2 mile cooldown (15:59)
1:10:14 total
not my best showing at river city, nor my most intelligently executed (fairly telling splits...), but a little educational, and a fun run none the less.

Total:  57.2 miles (7:19:30)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


The weathermen are telling us that the temperatures are going to be "cold" again for the next couple of days, although "cold" in this case simply means highs in the 50's with lows in the 30's, as opposed to the highs in the 30's with lows in the don't-want-to-think-about-it's.

As much as I want to gripe about this (hopefully) last gasp of winter, I must admit that such a cold snap is one of the most promising signs that spring has begun.  Runs the last couple days have been in such overly-pleasant temperatures that I'm scared I'm getting soft; I suppose these all-too-frigid 50 degree temps should fix that (note the tongue stuck firmly in cheek...)

All that to say that it's the subtle reminders the time of year that are often the most exciting.  Birds emphatically chirping their existence.  Orders of magnitude more people out and about during a run.  Daylight lingering later and later.  Even the stinging remnants of sweat in the eyes for hours after the run.  These are some of the most anticipated indicators of the year, the reward for a winter of pushing through the cold, wet, windy days.

What are your signs of spring?  I hope you take the time to notice, because as we all know, these "overly-pleasant" weather days for running are exceedingly rare, and soon enough, summer will have us awaiting the promise of fall...

Saturday, March 30, 2013

My Week On The Run...

This week's round of training was for the most part just an exercise of will.  After a decent start on Sunday, the seemingly endless winter came back with a vengeance, making Monday through Wednesday just miserable.  I guess that those are the days that train us the best.  The days that we don't want to be out there, the days that dare us to venture outdoors, the days that cause every fiber of our soft selves scream to that a nap is not only more desirable, it's probably smarter, too; these are the days that harden us as runners to the point of looking into the sky mid-run and screaming, "Bring it on!"
Maybe challenging God isn't the best training strategy, but to some degree, that feeling of a certain amount of invincibility is necessary for the type of training it takes to get into the racing shape for which we seem to perennially be striving.
In any case, with all that said, this was my week on the run...

Sun 3/24
6 miles (46:51)
Abbreviated downtown loop.
UMYF ended and the youth all left abnormally quickly afterward, so I managed to sneak out for a run before heading home.  As I was running, I thought I noticed the wind picking up and the temperature dropping a little too quickly, which turned out to be more true than I could have realized.  I darn near got blown off the road driving home, and the next few days turned grossly cold and windy considering the time of year.

Mon 3/25
10 miles (1:19:39)
Downtown loop with extension.
An exercise of shear will power.  Cold, raining, and just crappy outside.  The run felt fine on the legs, but I let it take more out of me mentally than I should have.

Tues 3/26
Every now and then, I get the feeling that I only have a finite amount of will power for a given time period, and I definitely used it up on Monday's run... Needed to re-coop, but given a little twinge in my right foot, the rest probably helped, as it felt a little better with a day off.

Wed 3/27
10 miles (1:16:37)
Downtown loop with extension.
Low-key night for youth since it's spring break for most of them, so I had a bit more time.  Felt great after the rest day, including the little foot twinge improving a little.

Thurs 3/28
8 miles (1:01:37)
Downtown loop.
Felt good and was planning on 10, but called it at 8 due to a bad combination of pushing a pair of shorts through one too many runs between washings and foregoing body-glide...

Fri 3/29
10 miles (1:17:07)
Downtown loop with extension.
Weather improving; good temps and no rain.  Light traffic (between rush hour and time for folks to be going out for the night...).  The people gawking out the restaurant and bar windows just didn't know what they were missing.

Sat 3/30
8 miles (1:04:26)
Pt. Mallard
Temperature was fine, but raining the whole time.  Crossed paths with Carson and Carlos out for a long run in preparation for an April marathon, but other than that, for the most part I had the damp, rainy, misty river all to myself.   Fun, all things considered.

Total:  52 miles (6:46:17)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

My Week On The Run...

As a bit of a reprisal of a series of a couple posts from right around two years ago, I figured I'd put up a few more details from this weeks running forays than those found on my daily training blog (which, again, ironically enough, doesn't necessarily feel like the most appropriate venue for posting the nitty gritty details of my typically ambiguous, jack of all trades type training).  I'm still fairly confident that I'm the only one interested in such trivialities regarding my training, if it could even be called such, particularly due to the lack of consistency and low mileage of the last couple years, in addition to the fact that I'm not really training for any specific race or toward any discrete end at the moment. However, if nothing else, my posting up slightly more detailed accounts of my daily runs could possibly afford a point to which I can refer others, should they ever be curious as to the somewhat monotonous nature of my training, on the off-chance that anyone would ever develop such a curiosity.  As a point of note, all distances are currently approximate; one of these days I'll get around to measuring a little more precisely (perhaps even accurately) these routes...

In any case, yet again, I don't know if this will be a regular installment or a one-time post, but, for what it's worth, here's how my week of running went for March 17 - March 23...

Sun 3/17
4 miles
Abbreviated downtown loop.
An enjoyable, if all-too-rare Sunday afternoon run.  Weather was simply too nice to not run.

Mon 3/18
10 miles
Downtown loop with extension.
Took a nap after work to try and let the rain pass, which it did.  A bit of a sluggish run, but very enjoyable nonetheless.  More on this run here (or copy and paste

Tues 3/19
6 miles
Original downtown loop.
Had to cut the run short for a meeting at the church.  Productive meeting, but with the weather as nice as it was, I wish I could have had a more substantial run.

Wed 3/20
3 miles
Short loop.
As per normal, best run I could get in after work and before youth.  Need to work on timing, and I could probably manage a 6-miler with a little more planning...

Thurs 3/21
10 miles
Downtown loop with extension
Illustrious Father's 64th birthday, so a bit of a symbolic 6.4 at one pace, followed by a token change of pace to round out the mileage.  A surprisingly easy 10, all things considered.

Fri 3/22
8 miles
Downtown loop.
Had to talk myself into this one.  Really didn't want to get out there, but, as is often the case, the first step was the hardest, and it turned into a pretty good run.

Sat 3/23
6~ish miles
I'm not entirely sure what the distance is for the day, although I'm fairly certain that it's over 6 (probably closer to 7 or 8).  Helped put up some course directions, "confidence markers," and "motivational" signs for the McKay Hollow Madness Trail Run.  Took a little over 2 hours, but included putting down flags, writing signs, and a significant amount of technical running, with some pretty good climb and descent included.  Fun day.

Total:  47 miles

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Rain Delay

Usually rain doesn't justify a change in the running schedule, be it a delay, cancellation, or otherwise.  Such alterations can all too easily transform into a wholly unjustified excuse, and as a friend's sister used to say, "Excuses are like bellybuttons; everybody has one, and none of them taste good."

However, yesterday had the perfect combination work delays, radar reflections, and available time to make the gamble of a future mental battle worth it.

A call to try to calm a very nervous coworker en route to an OCONUS TDY location had me leaving the office a bit later than normal, which allowed a few last-minute checks of various weather radars.  If my estimations were remotely accurate, the line of rain and storms looked like they would be through the area a smidgen over and hour later.

This guesstimation, combined with the later sunsets of Daylight Savings Time and one of those rare nights free of other obligations, seemed like just cause to grab a nap, then hit the road.

Admittedly, the nap lasted about fifteen or twenty minutes longer than planned, but the subsequent run made the gamble entirely worth the while.

Birds chirping playfully in the bright afternoon sun, the cool, humid air rushing by, and a general sense of post-storm revival permeated the streets.

In spite of being slow and sluggish, the environment in which I found myself and the inherently calming effect of watching the slow fade of sunset into night made it one of the more enjoyable ten-milers in recent memory.

We run, walk, trot, jog, bound, sprint, trek, and otherwise ambulate in so many conditions, both internal and external, that we sometimes lose sight of the wonder to be found in our seemingly mundane routines.

...and then sometimes we get to have a rain delay...

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Is It Worth It?

Admittedly, the weather of the last few days has been less than pleasant for running.  Maybe it's just a Southerner's thin skin allowing the 40 degree rain to penetrate a little too deeply, or maybe it's the accumulation of many days of miserable weather over the last few weeks, but whatever the cause, the effect is the same:  a cold, drenched, slightly fatigued runner trudging back inside afterward.

To any sane person, this begs the immediate question of why we do it.  Why would we put ourselves through such experiences?  Why risk sickness?  Why go out into the cold?  I must admit, when I get off work and am driving to my running launch point, I often wonder such things.  I often find myself asking, is it worth it?

Sitting at a keyboard, it is certainly easy to say "of course it is, you can get X and Y and Z out of it and see benefits A and B and C and you can do this, and, and, and..." But when it comes time to put rubber to road, we're all faced with that same question.

Is it worth it?

I think that when we opt out of our runs, the answer is apparently that it is not; however, when we, as runners, can get past these questions that plague us prior to our runs, more often than not, once we get into the act of running itself, the answer becomes a resounding yes.

Is it worth it?  This cold, drenched, slightly fatigue runner trudging back inside afterward would have to give a hearty affirmative.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


We've all experienced it.

Somewhere out on a run, absent-mindedly flowing through the miles, we see or hear something that serves as a reminder (wanted or otherwise) of a world we have temporarily escaped.

The other day, I passed a broken iPhone in the road.  Only later did the thought even cross my mind to empathize with whomever was unlucky enough to have lost such an item, but for the rest of the run, my only thought was how out of place the device seemed to be.

Cruising down the street freely, I wasn't noticing much beyond my own rhythmic breathing and striding,  but when something did catch my attention, it was a child on a bicycle or a lady walking her dog.  The smashed iPhone seemed somewhat anachronistic.

Perhaps I allowed myself to get pulled into a nostalgic feeling, but I think there was more to it than that.   I think that on those few runs where everything "clicks," we get caught up in the experience, and seeing the coolest new techno-wonder invade such a run might in some way pull us back to the realities that we have, if only for a brief time, sidestepped.

Along similar lines, perhaps it was only appropriate that it was broken as I passed, at least in a philosophical sense.  Yes, I'm aware that a mint-condition iPhone wouldn't last in the middle of a road for long; yes, I realize how much of a headache this inevitably was for the owner of the phone; and yes, I realize the obvious irony (hypocrisy...?) of such commentary being typed on a computer to be posted to the interwebs...

...but somewhere there is poetic justice to be found in a broken iPhone in the middle of the run...