Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Big Training Run

This is a personal recollection of pretty much everything I did in preparation for my 20 mile training run earlier today. Enjoy, I find it amusing. Running used to be very simple for me. Throw on some clothes and walk over to the nuclear assembly building that was home to LCU's recreation facility. Run for 30 minutes on a treadmill, use an elliptical/stair climber/stationary bike for 15-20 minutes and then walk back to my dorm feeling awful because I was so out of shape aerobically. Now I go through all this:

Last night I trimmed my toe nails and carb loaded with my favorite pasta and beverage and made sure to get some extra calories with Ben and Jerry. I made sure to get my beauty sleep and stayed in bed in and out of sleep until 11am. When I arose, I began guzzling water followed by consuming a 20g protein bar. Then was the stress of checking the weather and deciding what to wear. 5 years ago it would have been a t-shirt and a pair of generic basketball shorts. Now I have an overflowing box of technical wicking fabrics of all colors and from many events. I chose thigh length tights, asic warm-up pants (the ones I muddied yesterday on a 10 mile bike ride), and my OKC long sleeve tee. I chose thin double layer polyester blend socks, superfeet berry insoles, Asics gel Kayano sneaks, garmin 305 training partner, iPod, Cliff black cherry Shot Blocks, GU Roctane blueberry pomegranate and vanilla orange, ID and cell phone and of course a University of Texas hat to top things off. I applied Body Glide to shoulders, inner thighs (think Juno) and feet. I ate an English muffin with preserves and a glass of vanilla chai and soy protein. And as I finished my drink, mentally preparing, the time was coming. It was 12:40pm. 20 miles needed to be conquered.
I put my shoes on and fastened my Garmin watch. Something felt wrong with my shoes and it dawned on me as I stood outside stretching my calves, I had forgotten to put the superfeet in my shoes and I didn't have a sock liner in them yet either. Good thing I realized that before going anywhere. So I walked back in to correct that glitch. I went back outside powering on the training partner and realizing that the sun was out and as I began to jog away from the house, my cell phone and iPod bouncing in my asics pocket that I would do better with shorts on a day like today. So back I went into the house to put on shorts and repack my electronics and fuel into a waist pack (not to be mistaken for a fannie pack).
Now it was 1pm and I really needed to get going. So I did. I ran 5 miles to Caribou in Wheaton for some water and fuel. Then I ran 5 miles to I-355 and ate more fuel, without water (the fountains haven't been turned on yet). At mile 12, I really needed to find water so I made an unexpected stop at the Glen Elyn Starbucks. Then it was off to Wheaton to stop in at Caribou for the final H2O and fuel break at mile 15. I ran along Main in West Chicago across 59 to the Burger King because I learned years ago, in Manhattan, that you can find Dr. Pepper on fountain there, even in the North. Success. I arrived at BK right at 20 miles, got a large DP and called my Kansas City buddy Rachel because I first talked to her last year after my 20 miler.
Upon arriving at home, I put on a kettle of water to boil and located my Epsom salt. I was going to have a hot soak in the bath. Maybe I should have had an ice bath for inflammation but I was happier taking some meds for that and enjoying a pleasant bath. I drank more protein stuff and watched the ER finale while cooking some mashed potatoes.
Now I'll end my day reading some Theroux, hoping that my feet and knees will feel like working tomorrow. At least I'll be around people who know well the feeling of recovering from a difficult workout.

So yeah, that's how to run 20 miles. Now you try....

Saturday, March 14, 2009


A friend of mine sent me an email yesterday. It's important. Please do what you feel you can.

Message from my friend:
Hi folks,

I received this message from a friend of mine from college. She is in Sudan with her husband teaching at a school. I don't like to forward anything, but given the situation that has been unfolding in the past few years in Darfur and now this new information from someone I trust, a firsthand source, I wanted to let anyone who might be interested know.

First hand account:
Hey everyone--

So sorry to do a horrible mass e-mail like this, but I think it is appropriate in this case.

I don't know how much any of you know or have followed the situation in d@rfur (<--I am writing it this way to avoid any searches on my e-mailings) or the events in Sud@n these last few days. The president of this country now has a warrant out for his arrest due to the events in the last few years in d@rfur. This happened a couple of days ago, and I don't know how much it has been in the news in the States, but it's kind of been the main thing here.

As a retaliation to this action, the government here has revoked the licenses of many aid/development organizations working here and sent all of their foreign staff out of the country and halted any and all of their aid efforts in d@rfur. This has caused several dear friends to leave the country, as well as several of my students at our school.

Even worse than that, it has made a desperate situation in d@rfur brought even more to the brink. Many MANY people (thousands upon thousands) living there are currently living in refugee camps that are supplied and run by these various aid organizations. They have now had supplies halted and been stripped of any communication items (radios, phones, computers, etc.). The people who returned to Kh@rtoum from there in these last couple of days are estimating that if nothing changes (that is if the government does not reinstate these aid groups or chooses to do nothing themselves, which is incredibly likely), that these camps will be out of food supplies in about 1 week and out of water in about 2 weeks. You will have tens of thousands of people on the western edge of this country simply being starved out in the desert or trying to move themselves across the desert to get out of the country.

Why am I writing to you? Because even though I am actually here in this country, I can do very little. I cannot post this on my blog and must be careful about the information that I pass along. I have no idea if this is even being reported on the news in the States. I know that the President of the US has contacted some organizations here to get information--but they are limited in the time and resources to get back to him before they themselves are forced to leave the country.

If you can and feel so compelled to do so, I would ask that you communicate with anyone and everyone you know who might be in a position to raise awareness about this--that could include your Congressman, Senator, Governor, local media, churches, and (long shot, I know), write to the President on the White House website, as I will be doing. Ask them to report on d@rfur and find out what is going on. The window of opportunity from this going from very very bad to absolutely worse is very short.

Please do not include my personal name if you forward this along to anyone else, but if someone wants to contact me, feel free to give them my e-mail.

Sorry to bug you with this if it's not something you're interested in--if you are interested, PLEASE make some noise about this in the next few days.


Friday, March 06, 2009

job search

During my nearly 20 hour drive from West Texas to West Chicago I did a lot of thinking. What else is there to do when you are stuck in a very small space for so long and are not allowed to sleep? One of the things I thought about was, what would be my dream job at this point? I have until October to find work and then I have something else figured out, but in the meantime I still have to pay on student loans and other minor expenses (you know like eating at least a couple times a day and the like).

So here's what I came up with...
I want to work in a big office building, in the basement, in a hamster wheel. I want to run on that wheel for 6.5 hours a day, 5 days a week at an average pace of 4.5mph. I want to be required to log the equivalent of 150 miles each week in order to receive $400 weekly for my efforts. This is my dream job. I could not complete these demands for more than a few months but right now, in this situation, this is what I want to do; to make me stronger and to lessen the impact of the millions of offices in this city (Chicago) by transferring my energy expenditure into a turbine system to power some of the electrical equipment used in the office building.

If there happens to be any organizations or university research projects currently experimenting with this technology and in need of another demented green athlete to power the experiment please feel free to pass my information along. Seriously, this is exactly what I want to do with my life right now.

Now please enjoy the mental image of me stuck in a hamster wheel full-time.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

For Sale

This is strange, I'm finally doing what I should have done a long time ago. Wait, I did, but then I got my own places and ruined everything.

What am I talking about?

Well, I've put an ad up on Craigslist trying to sell all my large possessions. Why? Because I'm a transient and transients cannot survive with masses of material belongings. I feel like I'm organizing an auction. Telling emailers and callers that I've got someone coming by at such and such time to look at that but if you can come sooner it's yours and I'll offer it to other people with these accessories before I can sell it to you at that price. You get the picture. I'm trying not to let my emotions get in the way of the selling of my stuff or any frustration from just buying most of this stuff a few months ago. How useless it all seems now. Well I have to check my email again. See if anyone wants to schedule a time to come by and look at my stuff.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Austin 1/2 marathon

Yesterday I ran the Austin 1/2 marathon. Today I'm a little sore in the calves but otherwise I feel great. The course was gentle for the first 8 miles and from there it felt almost like mountain climbing between the exhaustion level and grade of incline. I finished in 2:12:37. My goal time was 2:15 so I did really well. My sights are now set to the Oklahoma City Marathon in April. Still considering doing another 1/2 marathon in March. We'll see.
I got new running shoes this weekend and am looking forward to taking them on a three mile run tomorrow.

Friday, February 06, 2009

lumbering through Lubbock

These past two weekends I've been doing long runs in my hometown of Lubbock in the neighborhood where I grew up. The thoughts I have had while running 10 and 12 miles through this neighborhood are about the kids I played with in elementary school and intermediate school. I remember Kristen, Lance and Lauren, Maegan, 2 Megans, Ranee, Kathy, Nicole, Drew, Brittany, Tonya, Kayla, and others. I thought about all the days on my bike with friends in the neighborhood. I thought about piano lessons and how I would have always rather be roaming the neighborhood then inside practicing the piano regardless of how much talent I had. I remember taking the family dog Honey for walks and riding bikes where the Mormon temple now stands. I remember going to the Chevron station, which is now called Taylor, for Sprites because 1 in 7 won a free Sprite. I remember having so much fun. And today and last weekend I ran through these memories. I ran past the place where I learned to throw a football and hit a baseball. I ran past the ditch where I use to dig "caves" in and wade through run off water, I ran past the church where I belonged, I ran past roads and lots that were only dirt when I knew the neighborhood so well. I wonder how far I rode my bike on an average day? The distance was never something I would have thought about as a child. Except that one day when I joined my brother riding 20 miles for his boy scout badge. Outside of that I knew my boundaries were 82nd street to the south, 66th to the north (though Chevron was N of there), Frankfort to the East, and Iola to the West. This was my world for many years.

Now it's different, more developed, different families, and not really my home anymore. Well, I'm really tired. I just ate a high carb dinner. I took a long hot bath after the run. Before the run I tried a protein supplement for my first time. I think it gave me good energy. I will probably start doing more of these supplements because being a vegetarian sometimes I don't get much protein. Afterwords I had a high electrolyte drink mix. I feel a little sick and a little sore but tomorrow I think I will feel great. Maybe even good enough to go swimming before work.

Sunrise over the iconic view of the neighborhood

Saturday, January 31, 2009

I hate the airline industry

January 5th I flew to Portland. January 10th I flew back to Lubbock. January 15th I flew to Chicago. January 20th I flew back to Lubbock. I fly often and I've never received a free flight through frequent flier programs. I even fly internationally.
On the flight to Portland the first leg of the trip, from Lubbock to Dallas was delayed 5 hours. I only arrived 3 hours late to Portland but regardless it was a long day, 12 hours spent behind security checkpoints. I didn't write about the return flight so I can't specifically recall anything the airline messed up with. I do know that flying hurts by back so I had taken a muscle relaxer and felt like I was on a theme park ride over the Rockey Mountains stretching from Mt. Hood over Salt Lake, Fort Junction, and ending at Pike's Peak. The plane flew low for the size and distance and it was a perfectly clear day. The pilot was also great about announcing which mountains we would be able to see and which cities we would be going over. The only annoyance I had on this trip was with the cost of airport food.
On the flight to Chicago, the first leg I rode with my dad. The flight was a bit delayed. They had reassigned his flight without him knowing and at the last minute we realized and had the attendants switch it back. During out wait however there was a huge chess set with pieces more than 3' tall. We didn't have time to finish the game, which is a good thing actually. The jet bridge in Lubbock was broken and still appeared to be unfixed on the 20th when I came back through. This meant that we had to go down the stairs and across the tarmac to board the plane. Not an issue really for us but at least one of the passengers was in a wheel chair. Because of the short delay by the time we reached Dallas my next flight was already boarding so I had to hurry to the other terminal and get going. We made great time to Chicago, saving off more than an hour of flight time but we had to wait on the ground for 30 minutes for an open gate, then another hour to discover that the sky bridge had frozen to death. It was after all -10 degrees and mechanical errors must be more likely but to add to the issue, the people on the ground would spend 5 minutes outside then 15 inside warming up so there wasn't much ground assistance to further slow the process. Eventually the plane was pushed closer to the Jet Bridge and a makeshift bridge extender was erected for us to get safely into the airport. I was most troubled by this because I really had to use the bathroom. I didn't have any time in Dallas and didn't feel like crawling over the people sitting on my row during the flight. But after waiting so long, I finally disobeyed the seat belt lights tyring to control the disgruntled passengers, jumped luggage and took care of my business. Less upset after this annoyance was done away with.
On the final return flight, all was going well until Dallas. This was inauguration day and I had the benefit of being able to watch the balls while waiting through gate changes and delays. It was a really late flight in the first place, the last one out to Lubbock. There had been three gate changes and at one point the attendants started to board the plane and then mechanics sent the passengers back out because the plane had a broken armrest that was apparently a safety hazard. We patiently waited 40 minutes before being allowed to board again. This was a little twin prop airplane and we sat on the ground for what felt like 30 minutes warming up the engines and propellers. We started to taxi out to the runway and then at the last minute turned around. The passengers were informed that the pilot was already at 14+ hours and would timeout before arriving at out destination. There is an FAA regulation that pilots cannot work over 16 hours in a 24 hour time period. So we were brought back to the airport and given new flight assignments to go out the next day. We were given hotel vouchers for a hotel suite bigger than my apartment and $10 of airport money for any food place. I was scheduled for the first flight out to Lubbock that next morning and didn't get more than 4 hours in my hotel room that night. Once arriving in Lubbock my luggage didn't arrive with me. Here I am very mad. I give the attendants my information and they give me a number to call to see if it has been located. I call when they tell me to a few hours later and the automated voice says that my stuff is not yet located. Thankfully, sometime that night while I'm at work I receive a message from my dad that it has been delivered to their house. So there was finally resolution to the awful ordeal.
I hate the airline industry. But at least I didn't have this happen to my flight: This was a FedEx crash at the Lubbock airport January 27th at 4:30AM. The 27th was an icy day much like the 5th, when I flew to Portland. At least I haven't had to land in Lubbock on a really icy day. One more reason to stay in town for a while. I gave my car a wash yesterday. It is a trusty vehicle that doesn't leave the ground the the only delays are caused by me. I can handle that.

Running in Chicagoland

I had to choose the coldest week in years to visit my home in Chicago. The day I flew in it was -1 as a high I think and -13 as the low. Two days later the when I headed out for my scheduled 9 mile run it was 12 degrees and perfect. I strapped on my YakTraks and pulled on some snow pants with gaiters over my fleece lined running tights. The intention was to get dropped off at the 0 mile mark on the Prairie Path from Wheaton and run 4 1/2 miles out and back but after just minutes I decided that the snow was too deep and the run would be impossible so I aborted that plan at Washington in Wheaton just West of Wheaton College. After running around the college I decided to run to Caribou Coffee for some water and made a new plan to run back to the house were I was staying from there. Once getting to Caribou and recognizing lots of people I wanted to return after each three mile loop and that's exactly what I did. The first loop was to the East. The second loop was to the South West attempting to run past Casa de la Sol, my first residence, but the road was blocked for me by a busted water pipe. I accidentally stepped into it and felt my foot getting wet. I was terrified that the run would have to be over after such an accident. But not even half a mile later, it didn't feel wet anymore. So I continued. The third loop was to the North around Northside Park and back. I forgot to turn the GPS on a couple times but am confident on the achieved distance. After the run I felt fantastic. Lots of energy and a great mood. My joints didn't hurt, I wasn't cold, my stomach was normal the whole time. This was a rare thing for me. Normally after long runs I'm messed up for the rest of the day. I ran slower on the snow and ice and maybe this is why it was so easy to recover. Not sure but I was very thankful for this amazing run and the friends and places I saw along the way.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Running in Oregon

Well, it seems like I'm failing this running blog once again. I was hoping to document several of my long runs during this training season leading up to the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon April 26th.
On January 7, 2009 I was in Portland, Oregon and scheduled for a 6 mile run. I didn't yet have my GPS or any good way to judge distance on the particular run that I decided on. On that morning I dressed warm for the chilly (53 degrees) damp day with enough money to ride the MAX to it's northern most stop, the Expo Center. From there I found, with some trial and error, the bike path that wove up and under a few twisty ramps to I-5 and then ran alongside the interstate over the Columbia river, some island, and split on the banks of Vancouver, Washington. The bridge itself was probably 1.5-2 miles, the winding path to get on the interstate was at least a mile and once I got to the other side I ran through a very pleasantly surprising place, the Vancouver National Historic Site, this area was probably a mile also. All in all I estimate that I ran 7+ miles on this untested course. At the very end, last mile or so, it began to really rain so I sprinted the last 1/2 mile to the covered train station. From Vancouver I picked up a Real Estate Book for my dad and it is curled like a baton and shows the water spots from the rain I encountered. All in all this was a glorious run and it was the second time I ran over a state line. This time, however, it was my first time ever in Washington. So from now on I can boast that the first time I was every in Washington, I ran there. Sweet!