Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Second Coming of Frost

On Eve
The Warm sun on an October afternoon
Rays
Staving off the inevitable
The crunch of leaves underfoot
Lungs full of delicious dry air

The woods beckon
A reprieve from the sun
Leaves rustle as squirrels flee
What have I done
To make them scared of me?

The trails, so empty and peaceful
Focus on the rhythm of the run
Tired? Not on this day
Sense of time long since lost
Nature has mesmerized me
And there's no place I'd rather be
Alas it is getting late
Helios has thrown his cloak upon the woods

Finally, fatigue
Footsteps abate

The woods of Vermont are where my tired bones rest.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Implications

All the hope I was able to summon a few days ago was smashed into a million pieces as the words rained down like machine gun fire from the Doctor. 4 weeks to heal. My world was spinning around me at a million miles an hour. Was this really happening again? Suddenly my life was in shambles. Would it ever end? I must admit that there was a two day period where I had officially quit running. I was completely sold on the thought of avoiding the thing that's caused me so much misery and heartache over the past two years. I thought and thought (and cried and cried) until suddenly I couldn't rationalize not giving it one more shot. It will not be the storybook senior season I pictured for myself, and fucking deserved. But if there is one things running has taught me, it's that life doesn't usually go as planned. Now I need to kindle a fire of motivation to serve the three week death sentence in the water for the melancholic ritual of water running each day. The isolation from the team will drive me up the wall, but at this point I can't go any further up it. I really do want to involve these freshmen into a deeper part of the sport, but they are all so unapproachable with their pack of six, their long shorts, and what I call the tea-party attitude. No, not the political party. Most people seem to regard cross country as literally a children's tea party, and that is the impression I get from these kids. Running is serious sport, and I am burning inside to show these kids how easily I could destroy any competition we will see at these meets. But, I must serve my sentence first. The insanity of it all hits me like a ton of bricks as I write that. Sentence? How the fuck did I earn a sentence? By training hard over the summer? Is that really a proper reward? But running is perfect metaphor for life, because bad things happen to good people, and hard work gets punished with misery. I must learn to accept the unfairness of it all as I wake up tomorrow for my first water running session. I am highly motivated to show how good I am and pull off the win at the state meet even with my compromised training. As Ritz said, whatever it takes. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Dark Side

Two words can alter a season. A season can alter a lifetime. So when the words "stress fractures" echoed around the doctor's office, alarm sirens went off in my head. Numbers three and four in just 3 years of running. This is The Dark Side of running. The runner is a gambler. Every time he steps out the door he is pounding the shit out of his body. In my prior visit to the doctor he warned me that I was taking a huge risk by continuing to run with pain in my bones. I explained to him my reasoning (it's my senior year dude! Fuck it!) and then added, the risk is inherently there from the moment we lace them up for the first time. Suddenly I felt the need to reevaluate my place in this sport. To review: We put ourselves through hell and back in training, and hope that we don't get HURT so that we can put ourselves through as much hell as possible to get in shape for the next race, which is an opportunity to literally put ourselves through Dante's Inferno 10 times over, so that we can beat our best time from before, which, for 99% of us, only makes us painfully aware of how much we suck. And all this with the typically trendy *runnerproblems* hashtags on twitter constantly plaguing us in real life. We're picked on for our short shorts, we're too skinny to be truly attractive, no one takes our sport seriously, and we're consistently snubbed by the media. And I can't even stay healthy enough to put myself through that. What the hell am I doing? Is this whole pursuit bringing me down? After some thought, I have decided that no, it's not. I'd be far more miserable NOT running. Because, somewhere, deep inside of me, is a burning desire to test my limits in this game we call distance running. I wouldn't be at peace with myself unless I'm doing everything in my power to reach my goals. Therefore, I must not give up hope on this seemingly innocent sport which has shown me its Dark Side. Message boards, PEDs, accusations, injuries, bad coaches, they all need to be put of my head. For once I can return to the innocence of the pursuit, I feel I will enjoy it much more. My goals are still huge, my lungs are still powerful, and my legs are still fast. I just need to get healthy. Keep Calm And Run On. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

One for Two

Headed out for a ride on a whim in the beautiful morning. Ended up putting in a solid 30 miles and getting over 45 minutes at threshold effort. Then procrastinated my pool running and didn't get around to it. It wasn't perfect, but it was better than yesterday.

Friday, August 23, 2013

One of Those Days...

Sometimes I just have those days where good things seem far outside the spectrum of possibility. Life seems to slow to a crawl as I sit on the couch in unprecedented levels of boredom. Then the gloom sets in. Why am I living like this? Aren't teenagers supposed to be popular? Good looking? Hang out with friends all the time? Why is everyone else so happy without me around? Why do the twitter/Facebook/Instagram accounts of teens and college kids always show them being cool at a party or just being cool with other cool people? Is it possible that they are simply trying to make themselves look more impressive, and do not party nearly as often as their social media accounts would suggest? Or is there truly a gap in "coolness" between myself and the rest of my demographic? Perhaps it is that people seem so daunting, so unattainably cool, good-looking, and perfect, because of my own anxiety and insecurity? Days of nothingness force me to sit on the couch and think about shit like that, which I'd rather not even consider. As the day stretches out in front of me and the possibilities to do things dangle in front of me, it is only on a day like this that the motivation fades into depression at the thought of another wasted day of youth. On a more positive note, it takes a near perfect storm to create a day like today. I need to be unable to run, as the chemical formulas that have been so carefully adjusted by my body to handle the stress of daily training betray me and I just do not feel quite right, physically or mentally (read: fat and unhappy.) I also have to be alone to have one of these days. The company of others is generally soothing to me, as it gives me something to do besides wallow in my own insecurities. Now, with my injury, cross training has become the norm, and I have slowly come to enjoy cycling, as my body has gotten used to it. The plan for today was to do two sessions of pool running, but in my melancholia, which I've explained in this post, I did exactly zero. Running might suck, but cross training sucks more (I can't think of something more outrageously monotonous or melancholic than making a running motion by oneself in a dark, cold, pond in the morning, at probably .025 miles per hour.) On days like these, running seems so far away that it's hard to even bear the thought of cross training. Hope slowly erodes away with each minute I sit on the couch and eat, until I am in a state of complete lethargy and lack the motivation to do anything, let alone train. Now there is no hope for me, in running, or in life. What has become of me? Life has crushed me to the point of bitterness in three short years, otherwise known as high school. I might as well take in a bunch of cats, grow a scraggily bead, and retire to the mountains right now to live out the rest of my days in more solidarity. But then I begin to play the music. The soulful, melodic tones of OneRepublic begin to sooth the heart, and then the pulsating beats of various up-tempo songs infuse my very being with excitement. Suddenly life has meaning again! For tomorrow is another day, and life is ripe with possibilities! The seed of hope is in bloom once more, as there are new people to meet and new titles to win! Tomorrow WILL be mine, and no one can stop me! For the ability to run shall return in three short days, and in less than one year, I will be off to college, and will be greeted by thousands of young people with new perspectives, hopefully a few dozen who share my interests, and perhaps one of the opposite sex, whom is reasonably compatible with my weirdness and brings me more joy than I have yet experienced on this earth... Ah, the wonders of the younger! The ability to hope and dream is a beautiful thing. 

To backtrack to the very near future and use a different metaphor, the light of motivation has been lit, and tomorrow will witness me own my cross training (and get a good portion of summer homework done...) Continue to chase joy. 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Summer Training Review

My weeks in mileage went 44, 19, 53, 57, 39, 5.

I hit some great workouts along the way and feel my speed was coming along with stride/sprint sessions. Injury has shut me down for now though.

I'm now in cross training mode and am getting an MRI on my feet on Wednesday. Possible stress reaction. This week I biked 125 miles. Not bad. I need to get pool running and stuff.

Friday, July 5, 2013

July 1st to July 7th

Monday: 5 miles in 36:50 with Willie and coach.
Tuesday: 7 miles in 54:04 with Willie, Larry, and coach.
Wednesday: 7 miles in 53:12 with Jonesy.
Thursday: 6 plus miles with Fourth of July 5k Road Race "Tempo" in 20:03.
Friday: 6 miles in 46:38 solo in 91 degree heat.
Saturday: 9 miles on Cambridgeport Road with Willie in 1:07:11. Good "long" run for me at this point. Felt great.
Sunday: 0.

Total: 40 miles, just what I was looking for. Next week I'm gonna go for 45-50 with a few doubles. I'm also going to add in strides, hill sprints, and workouts, albeit very gradually, as I simultaneously increase my volume and add intensity. Very excited to get after it for the rest of the summer!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Vive le Tour

"The Tour transcends sport and becomes life itself" -Johan Bruyneel. The 100th Tour de France started yesterday. Despite its relative unpopularity in America, it's actually the largest annual sporting event in the world. I personally love the Tour and suspect that much of the running community does as well. The Tour embodies European culture beautifully, in my opinion. Cycling is absolutely insane in Europe. In many countries you either play soccer or ride your bike. The Tour is the absolute culmination of that passion. There's nothing more amusing than watching a French coach scream out of his window (from the team car) at his rider. The Peloton rides through the absolute most beautiful landscapes in France, up and down the Pyrenees and Alps, and finishes in Paris. It is truly the most epic race ever, but, like everything, it's not perfect. Cycling's Dark Side is of course the incredibly widespread doping that has plagued it for decades. The UCI generally has not been interested in enforcing its doping rules, and understandably so, when it was nearly impossible to accurately test people and teams had full-scale doping regimes in place, complete with multiple doctors and wealthy benefactors. Cycling has definitely become cleaner than in the 1990s, but it's foolish to think that it's completely clean now. There's just too much at stake. In the 90s, cycling in Europe was financially viable enough for guys that in the risk of cheating is not even regarded. And why would it be? If it was your understanding that the entire Peloton was shooting EPO, and you've worked your entire life chasing this dream of riding in the Tour, why in the world would you NOT take something that would somewhat level the playing field? Again, the Tour is starting to come out of its Dark Age. It remains a three-week celebration for everyone involved. Cycling  is probably the most fascinating sport. You see so many things that are unheard of in other sports; riders sprinting ahead of the Peloton only to pull over and greet their family roadside, no admission fees, spectators wearing speedos and sprinting up the mountain to keep pace with the riders and scream in their faces, absolutely no protection for the riders from fans as they ride over a hundred miles almost every day, a caravan of over a hundred vehicles that follows the riders, farmers mowing images of bicycles or messages about the Tour into their grass for the helicopter camera to pick up, and the fact that it's three weeks long, probably the hardest endurance event in the world ("In a three-week stage race, the suffering is intense it becomes spiritual" -Michael Barry.) Cycling should continue to cut down on doping and the Tour will continue to bring people together and be a source of hope for the millions of people in over 180 countries that watch it every day, and the millions of people from around Europe that travel to France to watch the grandest tour of them all. As they say in France, Vive le Tour.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Gift.

Steve Prefontaine once famously said "To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift." Many people have their own interpretations regarding that iconic quote, but to me The Gift is a sweeping statement that encapsulates our very ability to run, to make ourselves choose to suffer, temporarily. There are billions of people on this planet. What percentage of people actually have the means to pursue running competitively? Here's a good starting point: They say that if you have money in the bank, your wallet, and some spare change, then you are among the top 8 percent of the world's most wealthy. A small fraction of that 8 percent will ever discover the joy of a PR, of a simple trail run, of celebrating health each day, of feeling tired as hell going into a workout and loving (almost) every minute of it. In other words, I consider myself (and many around me) to be within the smallest percentage of luckiest human beings in history. I don't know how the hell it happened, but the fact is, it did. I've been given The Gift. Now my responsibility is to cherish it, to nurture it, to spread its joy to others. To get the absolute most out of myself while I'm young, and to find balance, do it while dedicating myself to improving the lives of others. It would be a crime to sacrifice the gift, so I will always strive to push the pace, in life, and in running.

Friday, June 28, 2013

June 25th to June 31st

Monday: 4.5 miles solo in VA trails (33:40.) This was rough. Still grinding.
Tuesday: 5 miles with Willie in 38:08. We usually get down to 34 each day on this loop when we're in shape, so we clearly have a long way to go.
Wednesday: 7 miles in 51:55 with Ferenc and Willie in VA trails. Pouring rain! In some ways that was fun, but it also kinda sucked. I had a good one though, felt smooth for the first time and grinded the uphills, but felt great otherwise. Not too tired either.
Thursday: 8.5 miles in 1:03:30 with Ferenc and Willie. This one was much tougher, and in hindsight not the smartest thing to do at this stage of my fitness. Ferenc showed us some awesome trails off of Ledge Road and we did a pretty epic run across mountains, through streams, up rock faces, and through ferns. I was very tired for the last 20 minutes or so, but in all it was awesome. The next two days will be nice and easy, and hopefully I'll hit 35 for the week.
Friday: 5 miles/36 minutes. 2 minutes faster than Tuesday and felt better. Sweet.
Saturday: 5 miles in 40 minutes with Connor. We started out at a decent pace but slowed down a lot when he got tired. It was his first real run pretty much ever, so he did a pretty impressive job covering just shy of 4 miles in 30 minutes. Once he turned off, I pushed the pace for the last 10 minutes a little bit. Felt awesome. I've basically come back into what I call "basic" shape, where I can run my easy runs easily and feel very relaxed doing it. I've always known that I get back into shape very quickly.
Sunday: 0.

Total: 35 miles. Hit my objective perfectly. Next week I'm planning on about 40. I'm doing the local Fourth of July 5k on Thursday. While I'd love to hammer it and see what I'm capable of right now, I don't see that doing much for me in the long term. The objective is to start very conservatively, well slower even than tempo pace, approximately 6:00 pace hopefully. Then I'll assess the race situation and hopefully notch it down to finish in around 18:10-18:20. If it's feeling too hard then I'll just cruise 6:00 pace the rest of the way. Then on the weekend I'll do a "long" run, of 9 miles.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

First week of summer, June 17th to June 23rd

Monday: 6.5 miles in 49:39 with Willie. This was rough. I'm just rusty. It's gonna take me about a week to get back feeling smooth again. I've started doing my exercises and stretching now too.

Tuesday: 7+ miles in 53:10 with Willie on Cambridgeport Road. Again, this was even worse. Just grinding to get back.

Wednesday: 0. Had my wisdom teeth out. Not sure how long I'll be out for. 

Thursday: 0.

Friday: 0.

Saturday: 0... 

Sunday:

Total: