Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Like many others, I like to sit down in late December and make a couple of goals for the coming new year. I try to stay away from the cliche "lose this many pounds" or "not eat chocolate" and set attainable goals that I can work at continuously throughout the year.
While I haven't ever shared many of my resolutions in the past, I thought I would share my running-related ones this year. My hope is that you all will help to keep me accountable, and that the added pressure of letting you all know will motivate me to stick with each and every goal. Maybe it'll even encourage you to set some running-related goals for the new year.
Without further adieu, the following is a list of running goals I have set for myself for 2011:
Complete five marathons. (Signed up for 3 already so i'm on my way)
Run every day of the year. (Minimum of 2 miles a day and 20 miles a week)
Run 2011 miles. (Cliche, I know)
Train for and finish a 50 mile race in January of 2011. (Avalon 50 on Catalina Island is my goal)
Well, that's a lot of miles. I better get out there and get goin...
This morning I woke up to the sound of a steady rain outside my window. I looked out to see a dark sky and rain falling into large puddles. I did my best to shake off the morning drowsiness and I suited up for battle.
There's something about a challenging run that makes it easier for me. Some would call it adrenaline, others might say I have a problem, but the harder the run the more excited I am to try it.
Life is that way sometimes, isn't it? We dread the mundane, ordinary lives many of us live and seek a challenge to get our blood pumping. In my opinion, it's crucial to continuously challenge yourself, to force yourself beyond your comfort zone and to push yourself. It can be a phyical challenge, or it can be emotional, mental or even spiritual, but the best way to be your best self is to push those limits.
Push yourself today. Find something exciting and challenging and give it a shot. It could even start with a simple run in the rain.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Sure the bad drivers on the freeway get under my skin and of course getting drenched on the walk to my car isn't fun, but what's really gotten to me is the time i've missed running. My body has become so accustomed to daily exercise that it literally craves it every morning. Not starting my day off with a run throws everything else out of sync.
It hasn't rained like this in years and for the sake of everyone's sanity, I hope it stops soon. Christmas time makes everyone crazy enough as it is, let's not rain on that parade.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
Quick sidenote: Thank you to everyone who prayed for me during this race and to those of you who were of the 31, you all encouraged me and helped me perservere. And to those of you not written on my arm, rest assured you were prayed for at some point during the race.
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Two days remain until I take on my biggest challenge yet, the 50K. The ultramarathon has been a goal of mine for a while now and i'm ecstatic to finally have the opportunity to conquer it. With that being said, I know it will not be easy.
Fifty kilometers is just over 31 miles, or five miles longer than a full marathon. Now, five miles may not seem like much, but ask any distance runner and they will tell you that the farther you run, the longer the miles seem. Given the added mileage and the extreme elevation change (13,000 ft of change), I am aware of the intense pain i'll have to endure for seven or eight hours.
I don't want to be misunderstood, I am not throwing these stats out there seeking any praise. Believe me, if it was praise or attention I was seeking I would find a much less painful way to get it. I simply share these things with you all so you will have a better understanding of my stories.
A change of pace...
In all my previous races, the question wasn't if I would finish, but when. A slave to the clock, I would stress over my pace and where I placed among finishers (even though it was normally in the middle of the pack). This is the first race i've wondered "if" I will finish. The pending rain and therefore muddy trails can be my worst enemy, but it's going to take a natural disaster to keep me from finishing this race. Six, seven, eight, nine or even 10 hours...I will cross that finish line.
Often on my morning runs I will take about five or 10 minutes to talk with God. I'll turn off the ipod and just pray as I run, most of the time I get distracted by something on the road and forget about it altogether. I think I can say the same for my prayer life in general. More often that not, when I remember, I will pray for a few minutes and then go off and continue with my day. I have God available to me at all times and I fail to realize that he is with me and wants to hear from me.
Prayer is a HUGE part of having a personal relationship with Jesus and it is something I have failed at over and over again. Several days ago, I was on a run thinking about my prayer life and realized that just like running, prayer takes work. Just as I carve out time to run in the mornings, I need to make time for prayer. I may not always be in the mood to run, but I do it anyways because I know it strengthens me. The same goes for my conversations with God.
As I run this Saturday, I will forego the iPod and instead spend a day talking with my Savior. I've made a list of 31 people/groups/families/topics to use as a guideline and have sought out prayer requests from others. I know that following Jesus takes work. It is imperative to be intentional, to seek out the challenges and to conquer them in His name.
When I set out to conquer the trails this Saturday, I know I won't be doing it alone.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Don't misunderstand my fear, I am completely confident I will finish the race and hope to do so in a respectable time. The anxious-nervous-maybe-a-tad-bit-worried feeling I have is more like what you'd feel before a first date. I'm confident in myself and the plan i've set out, but I just don't know what "she" (the trails) will throw my way.
Come to think about it, running and dating are similar in a lot of ways...but that's a post for another day.
Forecast shows a high of 60 with a decent chance of rain...there go the butterflies again...
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
I knew this was normal following two marathons within two weeks of each other, but my legs had never felt this dead before and they didn't seem to be improving much. With my 50k only 10 days away I was beginning to worry.
I laced up my shoes this morning, cautious of the fact that I may have to put up with my 'dead legs' for 10 miles, and was out the door. After a warm-up jog I picked up the pace a bit and much to my surprise I found myself moving at a decent clip. "Not gonna last" I told myself, thinking my legs would revert back to the heavy state they had been in for the past couple weeks.
The miles kept ticking away and I was able to keep with the pace, even pushing it at times and challenging a couple of hills. People passing on the sidewalk probably wondered why I looked so happy, but I didn't care if I looked crazy. My legs had new life and that gave me new energy. I finished the run well ahead of my usual pace with a huge smile on my face (please forgive the rhyme...i'm a poet).
A workout like this comes around very seldomly, but I enjoyed every second of it. After my 50k next week when my legs are heavy and my body hurts, i'll be dreaming of this morning's run.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
I sat with him for hours last night as he dozed off and drooled all over me. I couldn't help but think about who he will be as he grows up, the personality he will take on and the things he'll like to do.
I can't wait until that one day, years from now, when Little E and I go for a run and talk about life. Until then, i'll keep enjoying the pint-sized 14 pound version of him. I mean look at him, how could you not?
Monday, November 15, 2010
The morning was a bit of a marathon itself, with a 4:40 am wake-up call, a thirty minute drive to the dock, an hour long boat ride to the island, a taxi ride and a half-mile walk to the start. By the 8 a.m. start I was ready for a nap, but little did I know that things were about to get a whole lot worse.
At the beginning of a race, runners normally take off running faster than their usual pace with their bodies full of adrenaline. With a steep three mile incline to start this race, most, if not all of the runners were walking. The incline was so steep that I was walking at the same speed as the guy next to me, who appeared to be running (or at least trying).
I immediately regretted my decision in choosing this race.
This was supposed to be a training run, to prepare me for my 50K in December and to be a nice day on the island. Three miles in and my legs were burning, the temperature was already north of 70 degrees and my right calf decided it would nag me yet again.
After we reached the top of our incline and I looked 1,500 feet down on the town of Avalon, I took a deep breath and enjoyed the few feet of flat trails I had before the hills returned. I knew I had a few miles until the next large incline so I did my best to keep a quick pace and take advantage of the terrain.
Miles 4-18 were tough, but beautiful. With the ocean all around us and eagles flying overhead, I couldn't think of a more beautiful place to run. We dropped down into a valley and ran on single tracks in swamplands, underneath trees in a wooded area and across sand skirting a lake. This course is a trail-runners dream.
The trail runner's dream became a nightmare at mile 19. Signs foreshadowed the upcoming "Catalina Crush" hill. Rather than tell you my true feelings about this hill, I will remove all expletives and simply tell you I hated it.
While refilling on water and partaking in the goodies at the aid station (which were unbelievably amazing), I saw an older woman who I had passed a couple of times earlier in the day. She would shuffle along at a decent pace, never slowing. I would blow by her only to see her shuffle by me while I took a walking break.
We exchanged pleasantries and started running side by side. As time passed, we got to know each other, talked about running, work, relationships and life. Amazed by the story of this 65 year old ultra-marathon runner, the miles went by in a flash. There were more inclines and it kept getting hotter, but my new friend Carol carried me through those miles while inspiring me with her incredible story. What an incredible blessing she was to me.
The descent back into Avalon began just after mile 23. Relieved at the sight of some steep downhills, Carol bid me farewell as her physical limitations forced her to take the downhills with extreme caution. I promised i'd see her at the finish and I pressed on.
Stumbling (sometimes literally) down the mountain, just about every part of my body hurt. I had been running for longer than I ever had before and my legs hadn't seen a fraction of this abuse in my years of running. Finally, we reached the asphalt road and mile marker 25. I kicked into gear, desperate to finish.
Coming down the homestretch with my gas tank on empty, I squeezed out one last burst of energy and crossed the finish line. "Give me my buffalo!" I thought as the volunteer handed me my medal.
My legs were cramping and my feet were sore, my head hurt and my stomach groaned. My amazing girlfriend met me at the finish line, ready and willing to help in any way possible. I told her I needed to go back to the finish line...I made a promise to Carol.
Standing near the finish, I saw Carol off in the distance, shuffling along with a smile on her face. I cheered as she approached and gave her a high-five, thanking her as she shuffled onward. What an inspiring woman...this was her 35th marathon on Catalina Island alone, and she crossed the finish line taking 1st place in her age group.
This was a race I will truly never forget. The unbelievable views became a footnote to the people I met and the challenges I faced. My finishing time was over an hour longer than my usual mark, but I could not care less. Earning the medal was the goal, but the journey in getting there was the true reward.
Lindsey and I spent the rest of the day in Catalina, eating, playing mini golf and enjoying the island. The fun and peaceful afternoon by the water was just what I needed after a hellish time in the hills.
Stay tuned over the next couple of weeks for more posts as I recover and prepare for the North Face 50K. God Bless!
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
A whole new challenge lies ahead of me, and it's only an appetizer to the main course which comes December 4th (North Face 50K). This is my first-ever trail race and i've been told it's going to be rough. To make matters worse, I intended to train on trails a lot more than I actually did.
Should be interesting.
I wouldn't say i'm scared or even nervous. It's more of a blend of cautiousness and doubt. How will my calf hold up after nagging me the last two weeks? How will these hills affect my energy late in the race? Will the trails humble me even more than the roads already do?
All of these questions will be answered Saturday. I'll face these doubts the same way I face tough hills, by running hard and getting over 'em.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
This race feels different than any of my others I have run, perhaps because I am considering it a training run, or maybe just because i'm "settling in" to this distance and have gotten use to pounding the pavement for 4 hours.
Scratch that...I dont think I will ever "settle in" to this distance. While it doesn't scare me the way it used to, I will inevitably hit a wall or fight some nagging pain. Regardless of your physical build, your finishing time or your training, 26.2 will humble you.
I expect to be humbled this Sunday. Discovering (again) my limitations will push me to stretch them and that's what running, and life, is all about.
Monday, October 25, 2010
"Why would anyone want to run that far?" is the question I hear most often. While I could write a novel on the countless reasons to run 26.2, I thought I would share some that you may not have already heard...
-Burning over 1,000 calories a day allows you to eat pretty much anything. I'd be careful though, that double chocolate fudge cake will haunt you on your next run.
- Running allows you to see more of the world. Whether it's your hometown or a vacation spot, take some time to explore.
- Find some sanity. You're gonna spend a lot of time alone with your thoughts, might as well make the best of it.
- Sleep like a baby. Dont believe me? Go run for a couple of hours and take a hot shower...good luck making it to the bed before you fall asleep.
-Free beer at the end of a race. Running 26.2 makes anyone a lightweight!
Some run to stay in shape, others to accomplish a goal, but all run with determination. Find what motivates you and use it to run 26.2, I guarantee you won't regret it.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Tolerance - the need to engage in the addictive behavior more and more to get the desired effect. (I'm running in more races in the next six months than I have run in my 25 years on earth. Check.)
Withdrawal - happens when the person does not take the substance or engage in the activity, and they experience unpleasant symptoms, which are often the opposite of the effects of the addictive behavior. (Feeling restless on a day off or jealous when I see someone else out running. Check.)
Difficulty cutting down or controlling the addictive behavior. (Even with a full schedule, I can't help but look for more races. Check.)
Social, occupational or recreational activities becoming more focused around the addiction, and important social and occupational roles being jeopardized. (Can't stay out late, won't drink and my girlfriend knows how much time I can spend with her is solely based on how many miles I have to run the next morning. Check.)
The person becoming preoccupied with the addiction, spending a lot of time on planning, engaging in, and recovering from the addictive behavior. (Hundreds of dollars and races and even more on gear. Check.)
I am slowly coming to terms with my addiction and realizing the effects it has on other areas of my life. However, the only help I plan on seeking is from my ipod. The only support group I am looking for is more people to run with.
Some people turn to the bottle and others turn to narcotics. Not me. My name is Ryan and I am a running junkie.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
- An offer to accompany me on a training run...it gets lonely out there sometimes.
- Better yet, run one of the races with me.
- A word or two of encouragement before my races.
- Come see me cross a finish line or two...you'd be surprised how motivated I get knowing people are waiting for me at the finish.
- If you see me out running, throw a brother a red vine.
Following is a list of the races i'll be running in. If you're a runner, join me! If you're not, cheer me on at the race or via your technological messaging system of choice...
October 31 - Silicon Valley Marathon (San Jose, CA)
November 13 - Catalina Marathon (Avalon, CA)
December 4 - North Face Endurance Challenge 50K (Sausalito, CA)
January 23 - Carlsbad Marathon (Carlsbad, CA)
February 6 - Surf City Marathon (Huntington Beach, CA)
March 20 - Los Angeles Marathon (Los Angeles, CA)
Note: I WILL GLADLY ACCEPT ANY DONATIONS OF RED VINES
Monday, October 4, 2010
I know, I know...in my last post I said I may not ever run another marathon. As a matter of fact, I didnt run for nearly four months. Then in March I felt the urge to get back out there, I thought I had kicked my addiction, but my time away only fueled my desire. On my first run in months, I came to a few conclusions:
1. Four months off severely depleted my stamina...I was struggling mightily to finish just a few miles.
2. I can't believe I waited this long to get back out here.
3. From now on, I won't let anything or anyone steal the joy I have when i'm running.
After a few months of training, I headed up to San Francisco and had a blast running 26.2. The course, the crowds and the race were all top notch. Sticking with my theme of just having fun, I paid no attention to my pace or my time, allowing myself to walk when I needed and even took a couple pictures and sent a couple text messages. What an incredibly enjoyable four hours. After finishing, my mind started wandering off as I pondered my next race...that's when I hatched a maniacal plan. More on that in my next post...