Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Running for Enjoyment

Yesterday, I ran 3 miles and I found out that sometimes, we run for enjoyment.

I didn't wear my watch, and it was wonderful. I have no idea how long the run took me, and I don't really care. I think I've spent lots of hours on the road worrying about splits and average pace, when all I should be worried about is making the miles happen.

So, for the next two weeks, my challenge is going to be NOT wearing a watch and NOT counting every second. Hopefully when I DO put my watch back on, I'll be ready to count the time again.

Positive thought for the day:
Through letting go, we find happiness.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

5mile Training Run

Yesterday I completed my first run in the Chicago Marathon training schedule, it was 5 miles, and while the heat wasn't very intense yesterday, the thick, humid air made it quite the difficult run. I finished in 37:25, not too shabby for an early training run. I need to be running about 7:15 miles in order to meet my goal for Chicago on October 11. This is going to be an intense program to get in that kind of shape, but I am faithful that I can pull it off. I already know this training program will be less about getting in shape than my last one because I started last time struggling to finish 4 mile runs, this time it is all about shaving off time, hopefull before I start shaving, I'll be able to lop off some time in this first few weeks, because that is when the long runs start to really come in. I'll be running 14 miles at the end of week 6, and I hope to be able to finish that run with my goal of 7:15 miles.

I'm very very excited about this program and I hope that everyone who followed last time will continue to check back to review my progress.

Positive thought for the day:
Anything really is possible, willingness to put in the time and effort is the only obstacle.

-Billy the Kid

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Chicago Marathon 2009

Today, I started unofficially training for the Chicago Marathon with a six mile run. It took me 47:15, not a very impressive time compared to the times that I was logging only a couple of months ago, but it is a start. Now I'm sitting in my living room on a "lazy sunday" watching a motivational speech on PBS and getting psyched up for the Chicago training.

A lot has changed for me since the start of this year, and I am thrilled about the potential that the rest of 2009 carries. Now that I'm going to be running more and more, I will probably be writing more posts here on the trials/tribulations of the schedule. Please check back soon and I will keep you updated on the "official" training schedule that begins Monday, June 15.

-Billy the Kid

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

First Post Back

It has been almost a month since I last posted anything here, and today seemed like a great day to do that. I just got back from my second trip to Memphis this month, and I have to say, the weather could not have been better. I got two runs in (Friday & Saturday) of varying distances, and saw some of the most beautiful trees and homes anywhere.

After my drive home on Monday, I got another run in here in St. Louis and it was great too. Near the end of my run a very nice man riding a motorcycle yelled "That's a red light" to me, I was glad he informed me of the color because I, as many of you may not know, am not colorblind. He then proceeded to let me know that I was, in fact, a "criminal." I am glad he was there to inform me of this, because, again, I was unaware that what is evidently referred to as "jaywalking" was engagement in criminal activity. I have of course contacted the proper authorities to altert them of my rogue delinquency.

On a serious note, though, I had such a wonderful weekend with my friends John and Jimmy in Memphis. I wish that we were all in the same city again, but alas, our visits to each other's cities, however infrequent they may prove to be, will have to suffice for the time being.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

My Marathon, In Detail

Okay, it has been a week since I ran the marathon, now I'm ready to tell everyone what the actual race was like.

The Start: I got there at 6:00 for a 7:00 race, hung around with the other runners, and got myself ready to run. I stood in the 9 minute mile pack of people, so when we started to go, there was lots of "traffic" before the actual run started.

Mile 1: Ran really slow, due to the massive amount of people, we were all tripping over each other, and no one was really running the pace they were supposed to, so I had to skip up to some faster runners as soon as I got a chance. There was a woman on the road during this mile with a sign that said, "You are NOT almost there" it was funny.

Miles 2-8: These were really pleasant miles, I was free of all the slower runners and there was plenty of room to spread out, also, the rain hadn't really set in yet, I got to 8 miles without even feeling like I had done much work, that is when I knew that this marathon would actually happen.

Miles 9-13: There was this massively long incline, probably a mile long, and the rain really came down for a bit, this is when the reality of the magnitude really began to set in. some guy was complaining about the difficulty of the course, which makes no sense to me because it is a marathon, of course it is difficult.

Miles 14-16: This is where things really started to hurt, chafing wise, my ankles started to bleed a little bit, my left arm was rubbing against my shirt and burned and my inner thighs began to hurt. I never ran this far in the rain, so I was unprepared for any chafing. Also, this is where I got my first taste of a gel. It wasn't half bad.

Miles 17-20: The blisters on my feet started to become irritated and the one on my left foot popped, which was excruciating. I was keeping pace with lots of the other runners, and some people started slowly falling back at this point. I knew it was going to happen, and the psychology at 20 miles is, "Hey I've run 6 miles hundreds of times, this will be easy"

Miles 21-24: This is where they decided to hit us with the hardest steep hills I've ever run. I began thinking incredibly negative thoughts. All the people at the water stations and on the side of the road kept telling us we could do it, what did they know? I was so angry, I began thinking that this was the dumbest idea I ever had. We did get more gels at mile 23, which helped, kind of.

miles 25-Finish: Here is where I realize, I am actually about to finish a marathon. New positive thoughts came across my mind, and allowed me to push through any pain that I was experiencing. So exciting. I got to the home stretch and I almost broke down crying because it was all happening. There were more spectators here, a bar we ran past had set up a booth offering beer to the finishers, I declined, but it was funny. I got to the last half mile or so and I saw my dad standing there, I said hi, he handed me an umbrella, I ran for a little with an umbrella, it was funny. I put the umbrella on the ground after about 300 yards, and just started pushing my legs as hard as I could muster. I saw the finish, hundreds of people were gathered there, all I kept thinking was that my friends would be waiting for me at the end, I was so excited. Regardless, I knew I wouldn't have to run any more, I finished, sprinting over the end check point. some girl hands me a medal and I am completely delerious. I get some free food and water. I can't find my friends and I am all fenced in, I almost passed out. I started crying. I stopped crying, I have to find my way out of the fences. Walking has become almost too difficult, finally after about 15 minutes of walking in circles, I find my way out of the fences and go to the finish line to find my friends. They were across the way when I finally did find them and they had to walk around the fenced area to get to me, it was about another 15 minutes before they got there. I finally knew I did it, the race was over and I was exhausted, so I leaned my head on a parking meter and let go. Through a mix of tears and laughter, I knew that it was true. I couldn't even remember how I did it, only that it was done and I felt like a new man.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Ante Diem

As Whitney and I sit here discussing the title of today's blog, I find myself full of nervous excitement. 26 miles is a long run, but then, I've been training for months and am in the best shape of my adult life. Can I do it? I sure as hell hope so, but I know that once I am on the road, there is no stopping. If any of my followers still read this blog, wish me luck, I'll talk to you from the other side of the finish line.

Billy the Kid

Positive Thought for the Day:
There's always beer.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Judgment Day Approaches

Today I finished the last 5 mile run in the training schedule for my marathon. My dream is finally becoming reality. On Sunday, I will run 26.2 miles in the GO! St. Louis Marathon. I've put in the long long hours of running required and I will resolute this journey on April 19th.

The thing I am most excited about is that all of my friends and family will be there, and I will be a living testimony that even the unlikeliest of candidates can achieve great success with hard work, determination, and a hell of a stubborned personality.

I could have listened to all the people who told me I couldn't do it. I could have listened to all the people who thought I was insane. I could have listened to my body when it was SCREAMING at me on some of the first very long runs. I didn't. Now, I'm in the best shape of my life, I no longer have high blood pressure, my stress level is next to nothing, my resting heart rate is that of an athlete, and I have made more friends in the past 4 months than perhaps ever in my life.

The story I would have written about my life had I not begun this training program would have rung significantly different tones. I was a smoker who ate fast food regularly with high blood pressure and drank to inebriation at least every weekend. I was overweight, unhappy, and unworthy of happiness really I suppose. Then, I made a decision, I wanted to know who I was again, regain some of the direction and purpose I had when I was younger. I started on a training schedule doing the one thing I KNEW would force me to get in shape, lose weight, quit smoking, and help me pull out of my funk. I became worthy again, I was no longer a drag. I know that if there is even an ounce of water left in my cells at the end of Sunday's marathon, I will cry the happiest tears of joy that anyone has ever cried.

Thank you running, for fixing my life.

Billy the Kid

Positive thought for the day:
There are no ends, only beginnings; no goal, once achieved, brings about an end, but only an opportunity for a new beginning.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Life & The Great Schematic of Truth

The weekend: a chance to rest and reflect or cool down and think about the events of the previous week and to plan for those pending in the week to follow.

This weekend I spent quite a few hours working on my home improvements that are integral to my living situation and financial security with the help of my good friends Jegar and Dylan. I have been having some pretty severe respiratory issues due to an infection that began last weekend and has really lasted all too long at this point. I took the weekend off from my running schedule because in my estimation it will behoove me to be healthy before I take on the long distances called for by my training schedule. I feel that I am prepared for the marathon and since I am on the "weening" part of the schedule, I am going to spend the next two weeks making sure that I am fully ready for the marathon: mind, body, and spirit.

Undertaking home improvement projects really gives me a chance to take my time doing something that benefits from thinking and working at the same time. In a way, it is like running, because before the project is underway, the task may present itself as dauntingly difficult, once we begin it sheds some light on the problems, late in the project it seems as though it will never be finished and we are motivated to give up, but then with that last little push, suddenly, almost surprisingly, it is finished. It is not until we step back and look at our work that we truly appreciate the beauty of a finished product. Much like running, it is not until we reach a specified destination or goal that we truly realize the accomplishment of our hard work.

I had a long conversation with my dad today, it was good because for the first time in a long time I felt like I was talking to a friend again, instead of just a boss. I miss my family sometimes, the way things were before money complicated our lives, before my dad wore a suit to work, before I went to college for almost 100K and bought a house, when Christmas brought no expectation of extravagant gifts, and we lived in a two bedroom shoebox. I think missing the past is a part of improving the future. I have never had such a clear mind about what I am doing on this earth, and I appreciate everyone so much more now that I have been realizing that we've all got purposes, goals, aspirations, meaning, questions, problems, and endings.

Positive thought for the day:
The beauty in life is not found in some magical forest where everything sings in harmony, but in the imperfect world we live in beauty is found in the unlikeliest places, hiding so only those who are looking for it will find it, and when we see it, it is absolutely and utterly breathtaking.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

i need to write something

Saturday morning at the family's house. (my family is a collection of renegades that I met throughout college and afterwards) I have been availed of internet access and intend to use it to update my blog. This week I've had excellent runs and hope to have more excellent runs this weekend, sixteen miles tomorrow -- six today. I guess most usually it would make sense for me to mention today's six then tomorrow's sixteen. I have set my next goal for fitness and will probably be writing about that one subsequent to my completion of the marathon on April 19.

Continued from Saturday: After the Sunday long run.
I finished the sixteen today, my last of the training program I am on, my legs are burning and my intensity is increasing. To quote the Pointer Sisters, "I'm So Excited." April 19 is approaching quickly and I am fully ready.

I'm tired and Waiting is on, also read Jackie's blog, you can find it on jackierandomthoughts.blogspot.com, she doesn't like it, but it entertains Whitney and me.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Saturday in the Park (I think it was the 21st of March)

Okay, maybe a play on Chicago lyrics is a corny way to title a post, but it is Saturday and if we can't be silly on Saturday, then there will never be time to be silly.

I ran an 8 mi. today, it felt pretty good, but I was struggling through some of it because it has been a while since I did a run over 6 mi. This week was a great week of training though, and I think I've hopped back on the horse, there were some minor setbacks for a couple of weeks with small injuries and being an emotional support for one of my good friends whose (very close) grandmother passed away. I was only getting in about half of my runs at that point, but this week I have been getting them in, despite a short bout with the flu on Wednesday.

One of the most exciting things I have found out through my training is that when the body is in shape, it has a tendency to stay in shape, this is great news because sometimes life throws curve balls and we have to be flexible enough to adjust schedules and miss various runs because some things (friends, family, work) are more important than running. The good news is, when we are able to make the time to get back to it, much ground is not lost because the body preserves our abilities that are hard-won.

I have taken my last sip of alcohol before the marathon, on Thursday night. No more until after April 19. During January, I gave up drinking also and found out that it is really not very hard and sort of rewarding because there is never a situation where I am not in control over myself.

Positive thought for the day:
The closer we get to where we are going, the less time it takes to get there (think about it, because it seems obvious but I think most people get scared at some distance that is close to their destination and turn around, this retreat makes the trip far longer than it needed to be)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Music to my ears

Today, as I contemplate my workout for the evening, I am excited about the "Strength" workout that I am about to do. Sometimes the monotony of running the same routes at the same pace telling yourself the same little motivators throughout the run becomes too much to handle. Since this week has been a bit hectic, it may be worth reading about my runs.

All weekend I had intended to run, but well intentions are not always action producers, busy with other important endeavors, including cleaning, laundry, and music, I missed both weekend runs. Monday, I had planned my first run back, but after a nap and an invite to a social event, I continued my streak of no runs.
Finally, on Tuesday I found the time to put in a run and I ran a very very strong 7 miles in the rain. The monotony was broken, running in the rain is like a religious experience (if you've never done this, I highly recommend it because it feels like being baptized in the waters of nature). Wednesday I pulled off a 6 mile run in less than 50 minutes. I am having so much fun beating my old records at this point, that I cannot imagine why I ever allowed myself to fall out of shape. I am consistently getting compliments on how slim I look (lost 20lbs since beginning the training program) and I am finally finding renewed motivation to make this marathon dream a reality.

Positive thought for the day:
If you feel like you've hit the bottom, don't worry the bounce back up gets you higher than you have ever been.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I Love Twister, Running, and Pizza

Tonight I am watching Twister with my great friend Whitney. I set a PR for my 5 mi run today, that was pretty exciting. That's all for today, I hope you've all had success in your running endeavors and other things.

Positive thought for the day:

Sometimes, we win.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

It's Been A While --But Don't Worry!

Wow, life has brought some pretty extreme changes lately. I have been unable to access the internet for long enough to get on here to post anything so now that I finally have a few minutes to myself, here it is.

Training has been going extremely well, I bought a new pair of shoes on Saturday and ran 16 miles in 2h 24m on Sunday. That's a pretty decent pace and I think that I will be in excellent condition to complete the full 26.2 come April 19.

I have been working as a field laborer at Boa lately, not an ideal situation for me, but it is a job which is more than I could ask for in an economy shaping up the way ours is. There are a few good prospective projects on the horizon here and I am very intensely awaiting their arrival so that I can come back in the office and work on what I do best.

Forcing myself to find motivation is becoming my main goal in this battle. I am in good enough shape now to run 10 miles no problem, and 16 on Sunday, while difficult, didn't wear me down like my 15 mile run 2 weeks ago did. After a long day in the field on a construction site, finding the energy and drive to push myself through a 5 mile to 7 mile run is extremely difficult. I have been relatively successful though, and I know that my goal requires me to train, therefore no breaks can be afforded.

I hope everyone reading this can find motivation to push through the adversity that faces them and achieve in big ways.

Positive thought for the day:
Without the struggle of pain we wouldn't know the beauty of pleasure.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday Long Run

As I sit here in my living room, contemplating the run I have planned for today, I feel nervous, excited, and ready. Sundays have traditionally (for me) been a day that I looked forward to with dread absolute. The thought of the thrill of the weekend ending and the new work week's commencement approaching always gave me a hopeless, pathetic feeling of sadness. Now, when I go to bed on Saturday, I have something fun to look forward to, the "Sunday Long Run." Today, I am going to embark on a fifteen mile journey of navigation by land on foot that will probably bring me to the brink of tears and then back again, to the height of pain and then the exhilaration of ecstasy. Today, I conquer my psyche, tomorrow I can conquer the mental giant that is work. I will get back at you guys when I find out what 15 miles is like and I have had a chance to digest the feeling of finishing it. The marathon is becoming a reality in my mind, and my body is responding appropriately, the time for giving up has passed, from here there is only one destination, and that is the finish line on April 19th of the Go! St. Louis Marathon.

Positive thought for the day:
Give of yourself everything, the rewards rendered will be tenfold that which you have given up.

Monday, February 9, 2009

It's SUPPOSED to Hurt

Yesterday's run (10mi) was an incredibly intense physical exertion paired with an equally enormous psychological battle.

Some background: for about the last week I have been experiencing extreme pain in my lower left leg while walking or running.

When I set out to make the ten mile run happen, I said to myself that I would go as slow as was necessary to get through the entire run. After about mile 2, I broke down completely, the pain had become too much, so I began to walk. I was so angry, with myself, with my body, and most of all that I would not be making the full run. Then, something happened, I realized that the training is SUPPOSED to hurt, if it wasn't painful, everyone would run marathons. For some reason this realization brought with it new resolve to finish the run. I began running and sped up from my previous pace, I ended up finishing the ten miles faster than I had finished my previous ten mile run only a week earlier, and with very little pain. The psychological demon has been defeated.

This run is no longer up to me, it is becoming something I am using to inspire others because I want everyone to know that we are all able to achieve great heights with time and effort. I hope that everyone will be able to find that motivation within to fight through the pain and discomfort to find their inner strength. I believe we all have what it takes, we simply must trust ourselves to DO what it takes to get where we want to be in this life.

Positive thought for the day:
Pain is temporary, achievements are permanent.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Taking the Long Way Home

Long runs are intimidating before they begin. Knowing that I am leaving the house to experience severe pain and psychological fatigue for the next hour or more becomes this giant beast in my mind. The only way to fight the demon is to go outside and start running. Taking the run one step at a time, eventually I reach the final stretch. Excitement building within as the wind whizzes by my ears, fresh air fills my lungs, sweat pours out of my pores, suddenly I am sprinting for the finish. When I am finally there, the last hour to hour and a half seems short, and the possibilities that present themselves give me a euphoric high that lasts for days.

I see the long and sad faces at work still, but I am learning to transcend that I may find inner peace.

Positive thought for the day:
We learn more about ourselves when life is difficult than we ever could if life was always simple. So, embrace challenge, that you may be strong in the face of adversity.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Running is Free

Day in and day out people search for ways to be happy. Some turn to television, others to hobbies, and some to alcohol or other drugs. I turn to running. The best part about running is that the R.O.I. is extremely high in terms of psychological, physical, and other benefits. I hit the roads on a daily basis for free. I wear clothes that I would already own otherwise and shoes that I bought to work out in. Every now and then I indulge myself in a bit of over the top purchasing in the interest of my running, (I bought a new watch and a gaitor for my face and neck recently) but all in all running is essentially free. I leave my house and hit the road, no one charges me to be there and at the end of the run I can still see my friends, albeit a bit hungrier than before, but the fact remains. The following day at work, the effect of the endorphines has not subsided substantially enough to turn me into one of the many drones I see each day sliding around the office dreading the next activity. I try to turn some of these frowns upside down, but it is nearly impossible, so I've decided to come up with a positive thought of the day. Today's is one that I heard in my Track and Field days...

When it hurts the most, keep going because there is no more pain than the most pain.

Billy the Kid

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The First Blog Post

Today the ground is full of snow. I cannot drive my tiny car through the mess, so I caught a ride to work with Brian. I decided to start this blog to document my training for the St. Louis Marathon. Check back in the future for more interesting posts.