Honesty in 3 Letters

I was disappointed and frustrated that my race times were so pathetically slow this year. I thought I trained well. But obviously I didn’t. So I asked myself what did I do last year that I didn’t do this year?

The answer was clear. Last year, I used my GPS for every run. It kept me honest. Every time I hit the streets or trials I knew exactly how far and how fast I was running. This year it was all guesswork. For instance, I added a “10 mile” trail run to my schedule. I estimated the mileage by the Upper Salmon River  signs and by feel. When I wore my GPS watch  on the run last week, I discovered that the trail markers were correct, but my estimates were wrong. My “10 mile trail run” was only 8.97 miles. The miles felt  longer because the trail has some steep, technical spots that slowed my pace considerably. Because I used this “10 mile run” as the basis for other mileage (I looped the route to get in my 15 and 20 milers) all of my training mileage was off. I was also running the route much slower than I should have.

This year I learned that honesty can be spelled with just three letters: GPS. For now, I’m still using my ancient Garmin Forerunner to track my mileage. But here some top of the line models that are in my wish list. These watches are perfect some of the longer ultras that I’m planning next year:


 

Shaking my bones on day 22

I love the way the morning smells, especially when the a light drizzle wets the fresh pavement. This morning I tossed my bones across six miles of rain soaked concrete. For twenty five minutes, I ran at my “10k pace”. Since I don’t have a 10k pace, I guessed that my 10k pace would be somewhere in my anaerobic zone.  Therefore, I forced my heart to pump blood at 149 to 154 beats per minute. It took effort, but it was worth it. I set a six mile PR. Tomorrow I run again, but not as fast.

Boring Barefoot Marathon Training Day 19

I should have more to say about my long runs. I ran thirteen lucky miles today. Each one was mostly joyous. I sipped some homemade energy drink and ate a PowerAid gel. The gel wasn’t tasty, but it worked. I’m well within in my target pace.

 

Boring Marathon Training Day 18

I spun the grey clay with my wet hands into a cylinder on the pottery wheel. It was perfect for a few seconds, then it collapsed because I held my fingers in one place too long. The clay responds to the slightest movement, especially when it’s wet.  It’s is brutally honest. As my instructor says, “It remembers everything.”

Today was a strength day. Tomorrow is my long run.

Barefoot Boring Marathon Training Day 16

Fitness is a sexy bitch: Shit’s getting real! My right foot has been giving me slight problems. I’m running in the 4mm connect Xero shoes. They offer absolutely zero support and no cushioning whatsoever. They merely prevent the rough Oregon roads from chewing and stripping the skin from my soles. The thin sandals expose my soft toes to the sharp stone spikes cemented with clay into the trail. The angled rocks brutally smash into the tender, bruised point between my toes like a medieval morning star. When they strike, sharp bolts of agonizing pain fire my straight into my cerebral cortex forcing me to shout and curse, but not to limp. Luckily, my marathon training program offers plenty of recovery days, so the pain  isn’t stopping me from achieving my goal.

In other news, I bought a hydration pack for my upcoming long runs. Last week, I ran twelve miles, which is about as far as I can run without taking water and carbohydrate gels. The unwatered twelve miler brought me a little too close to my danger zone. After my run, my arms and legs were caked with salt, I could literally  scrape off the white crystals. They sparkled in the sun’s light. In the kitchen, I felt a little woozy and had to steady myself by clutching the sink.  My stomach was queazy.  Fortunately, it wasn’t anything that an orange, a banana, and a glass of water couldn’t cure. I recovered enough to work a full day afterward.

By the way, I ran six miles today.  Twenty minutes of my run was at 85% to 90% of my max heart rate. I felt great, but I was a little disappointed over the laggardly pace. I’m well within my target marathon pace, but I secretly I want to run much faster. I know I’m training for a sub four hour marathon, which I know I’ll achieve easily, but a part of me believes I’ll run the marathon in under three hours. 

All this marathon talk has me excited for tomorrow’s early ass morning run. See you then.

Boring Barefoot Marathon Training Day 5

More than once I’ve asked myself whether I shall turn out to be the Superman or the Lex Luther of my own life. Each of us are given a fist full of earth. Some plant gardens, other throw mud pies, and some let the dirt slip between their fingers. Of course, we weren’t given the earth, we emerged from it. This planet truly is our mother. As the miles slide by, the bullshit of normal life lifts and there is nothing but breath: time dilates and contracts by its own weird logic.  Today, I ran 7.4 blissful miles. What does tomorrow hold? Check back to find out.

Barefoot Boring Marathon Training Day 4

 

Sometimes I have to bury myself to feel alive. That’s what the isolation tank is a like  for me, it’s a private, self-inflicted burial. I close the door and entomb myself in a Stygian crypt. But this post isn’t about the mysteries of isolation tanks. I’ll save that topic for another time.

This post is about a different kind of burial–one above ground under the hot summer sun–and the curious resurrection that accompanies it. This post is about running hill repeats. Today, my barefoot marathon training schedule commanded me to run 90 seconds up hill at 80%-90% max heart  rate with 90 second recovery for 30 minutes. On the first climb, I watched my heart-rate leap from 112 to 157 in a very short time. Breathing was troublesome. Soon I was wheezing hard. By the third repeat my heart-rate reached 175 and that’s when the panic set in. My hissing, gasping, wheezing lungs would not drag in anymore air.  The houses spun around and the street became a rolling wave. I couldn’t catch my breath, it felt like I was breathing through a straw that was getting smaller and smaller.  Am I having a heatstroke. No, what if it’s asthma- or a heart attack-I could die–OMG, I could drop dead right here!!!! This is dangerous. I should stop running. Should ask this lady to call an ambulance? and so on. Slowly as I jogged downhill, my breath returned. I was tempted to stop doing the repeats but quitting my repeats would have been a huge mistake. Instead of giving into the temptation to walk, I just forced myself to slow down whenever my heart-rate reached 152–I found that when I slowed at 152 it still climbed to 157 or 158, but those ranges are in my target zone, so the gasping and wheezing were tolerable. As long as I staid in my target zone of 80%-90% of max, I would be safe. The wheezing didn’t stop completely and the running wasn’t easier, but it all became uncomfortably bearable and I was able to finish my 30 minute repeats. After my run, I felt fantastic! I was reborn. I can’t wait to train tomorrow. Come back  to find out what’s next.