Since the beginning of my time on the internet, around 1994, I knew I would one day find a time to chronicle one of the most life changing experiences of my life. In 1991, as part of my college fraternity philanthropy, I was a member of a team of cyclists that raised funds and rode across the continent raising awareness and understanding for people with disabilities. It took me, a sometimes cyclist, ex high school athlete and gave me purpose and fitness. I learned to ride in a team and only years after how I should have acted to be a better team member and better person.
Most of what I will put down will be what I got out of it, mostly the ride and experiencing America inch by rolling inch. Along the way, we met some good people and hopefully did some lasting good.
The ride began in San Francisco. I was 23 years old. It was my first time in that city and I fell in love with the beauty of the area and the weather. (I didn't get back there until 2008 and it was only better.) The team I was on had (I'll have to verify this later) 17 riders and 5 support crew. We set off on June 17, 1991 from the Northern side of the Golden Gate Bridge and over the next 57 days rode through the south of the US until we reached Charleston, South Carolina. One third of that time we camped in tents, one third we slept in schools or recreation halls and the other third in hotels and motels. (I don't know how to classify the night we spent in an old strip motel near White Sands, New Mexico. It didn't have doors to the rooms and all night stray dogs walked in and out.)
The ride was life-altering. It was slow-drip adrenaline. It was opium for the soul and left me chasing that dragon in these almost 20 years since. I hope that now that blogging is so easy, I will be able to get some of that from my head into a written format and relieve some of the jonesing. My mother who helped me raise money and was a rock during all my hard times on the road always wanted me to write about my experiences. She wanted a book. It was special to me and to her, but not enough for a book. She died in 1997 prior to this era of personal publishing in the ether. So, for you mom, here it is.
Since my last post, I've done 2 more 5Ks. The first, I walked for the first time in a 5K and still set a PR. That was the wrong thing to do. I did my next 5K last Friday evening and it was about 80 degrees. I started off with my fastest 2 miles (Pacing, I don't need no stinking pacing) and the last mile, I walked 4 times. I lost more than 2 minutes from my last race. It was the first time I did not improve on my previous race. That put me in a bad mood but made me realize that I had been taking my training for granted recently. I had gone to more biking and less running.
I had a lot of pain in my legs through the weekend. A light ride on Sunday morning relieved it only a bit. Monday, I was exhausted emotionally and physically. I slept late Tuesday and was refreshed. I made a promise to myself to go back to running this week and next until I did my last scheduled run, the Warrior Dash. I might do a 5K here or there this summer, but I'm not training for a real race until the Myrtle Beach Half in October. My training goals right now are at least one, maybe two, runs of an hour or longer each week. Don't care about the distance until later in the year when I start to train for the Half. Did this yesterday and today just to prove to myself that I would go for an hour without STOPPING. I feel better. I was exhausted this evening, but a quick nap fixed all that.
C'mon. Leave a comment. Where are you in your life/training?
It has been too long for an update, but my spirits were a bit low and work pressure was on prior to taking a family vacation.
I accomplished my second goal for this year; the first being to do a race and this second was to do the Charleston Cooper River Bridge Run 10K. I didn't think I was prepared to run the 10 at a "race pace", but I posted my fastest mile average in the race. I put race pace in quotes because right now, what I consider race pace, many others would call trodding along. I was scared of this race because of 2 things, first, the uphill on the bridge was an unknown hill to me and I had been training on mostly flat Illinois land and some small hills in NC. The second fear I had was that I might walk because of the length or hill and I would be letting my monetary supporters down. They probably wouldn't have had an issue with walking, but I would. My family went with me on the trip so I also wanted to make a good showing for them. When I returned back to work in IL, I was released of the burden to run for training and was able to just run for pleasure. The weather up here had been improving, so I got a few good runs in just before going to the Virgin Islands for vacation.
We didn't really want to spend the money this year on a big trip and are going to have to cut back elsewhere to make up for it. However, when my oldest daughter was not given permission by my ex-wife last year to go to Hawaii with us, I promised her that I would take her this year so she could learn to snorkel, etc. St. John is a good stand in for Maui. I only ran on the treadmill for a couple days, but I did hours and hours of swimming and kayaking for some other exercise. We flew home to NC on Sunday and late Monday afternoon, I flew back up here to work with enough time to get dinner and do a knee throbbing 5K. I have 5K races on each of the next 2 Saturdays. It's been several weeks since I did a 5er, so I can't wait to see if I have improved.
My next goal race is Warrior Dash in May. I am planning on running this Grand Prix series of 10 races in Charlotte of which the Shamrock 4 miler was the first in the series. This goes on through August, I think and then I will be training for my first half marathon in October at the inaugural Myrtle Beach Half. I want to do full marathons and I want to do triathlons, but I don't know if those are in the card for this year. We shall see. I'm just happy to be getting back in shape. Now it is time to start working on a regular training plan for the long-term.
C'mon. Leave a comment. Where are you in your life/training?
This past weekend, I did a 4-miler, the Shamrock 4-miler at home in Charlotte. I improved my time from 9:43 to 9:34 per minute and it was a longer run. The out and back course was really hilly compared to what I did 2 weeks ago so I was really pleased. After the run, my wife and I went for a nice slow 20 mile bike ride, so I guess you could say I did a very slow amateur duathalon. Hey, a good start to a next phase of races
I'm running into a new problem. Post race hunger. It wasn't as bad this past time, but after a high pace run (and this might just be in my head), I get really hungry for a couple of days. It could be a number of things. One is stress that I am always returning to Chicago a day after the race. That's a downer. Especially this week when I am trying to make sure I feel good enough for a 6 mile this weekend. I have to just accept right now that I am not going to post a good time. I am doing this run for the experience and to raise money for a cause.
I just need one more good run this week.
Oh yeah, I got to put in about 70 miles in on the bikes last week. Man oh man, that felt really good. After this weekend, I think I only have short races and then maybe a half-marathon in the fall, so biking will take over as my main exercise.
Whew, I still felt under the weather, but the excitement of having gotten to this point got me out of bed at 5:30, at the race site by 6:30 and ready to go. My lungs hurt like crazy so I took a couple shots of asthma inhaler before I left the house. I am glad I did because the weather was in the upper 30's to start and rather dry. I went ahead and started the race with a large water bottle in hand and while that gets irritating running like that, it helped me last. With those issues playing in my head, I thought it would be a harder run. Not to say it was easy, but when we hit the last hill right before the final turn, I was thinking I could gone for a 10K. Well, there wasn't one offered anyway for this series, just a half marathon. I still had some good feel and baby sized kick the last 200 yards. That's what really got my lungs burning and put me over the asthmatic edge, but I got control, took some water and sugar drink and chilled for a bit. All I wanted to do was come in under 30 minutes so that I was at least running a sub 10' mile. I got 29:23 chip time. Having not really tested my time on hills, I was very pleased with this result. Remember, during the week, I work in the Chicago area and their idea of a hill here is smaller than any rollercoaster you have ever been on. I can't wait to get some time during the week to train near home in NC.
Next up, I signed up for a Shamrock 4-miler in Charlotte in 2 weeks. That's the week before I run the Charleston race and just a bit of more distance than yesterday's race. It'll be good to see if I can add the distance and increase the speed. That's the goal for the next 2 weeks; endurance and speed work.
Still feeling crappy and my race is in 2 days. I am going to take Friday off to try to recuperate. Adding to the BS is the fact that my employer just gave me a good review and then told me I needed to move to Chicago or I wouldn't have this job any longer. Great!!! Thanks!!! Oh well, I felt bad last night and still managed a rough but passable 5K. I'm not worried about running 3.1 miles, I just wanted to have a good chip time for my first timed race. Well, if it goes slow, I can just show on my next race how amazingly I have improved!
Today is going to be the first real rest day I have had in a couple weeks. I would take what my plan called "rest day" and still do something. I'm still a beginner at getting back in the fitness game and I am eager to get deep into it. That said, I can't wait to get on the bike where I can go for hours and hours and not feel like I'm about to fall over. I put in 10k Sunday and 5k Monday. Today, Tuesday, I woke with a sore throat. Haven't been sleeping much a night due to aches, pains and anxiety. I'm going to go to bed early tonight and I had a very nice short walk after work to try to wind down. (BTW, they're driving me nuts. Changes, indecision, new processes for same things all the time, blah, blah.)
Still, my anxiousness lingers tonight. My wife who has done a great job helping support me in the almost 2 years I have been on the road is showing signs of being fed up with it now and I have at least 18 more months to go. I have the 5K this weekend that I now feel I can put in a really good time for my first run if I don't get sick. Finally, I can't shake nostalgia. I have a great life that I should be thoroughly enjoying, but I feel stuck. I'm changing things slowly, setting goals. So far this year, I have 2 road races, one adventure race and probably a marathon in October. That I feel good about. My family and friends, not so much. I don't know why or am afraid to say why. That, though, may be helping my exercise. To paraphrase a quote I read in Runner's World not long ago, "I exercise to exorcise my demons and leave them on the road." Motivation.
I have to figure out a way to ride a bike across the continent again. That would make me feel good. It would make me feel better that any triathalon, marathon, etc. To see this huge nation moving slowly by under your own power. That is life.
Hey, if you make it to the end of this pitiful post, could you leave a comment? Good, bad, indifferent.... Just would like to see who's viewing.
Today is a good day and it is not. I feel pretty good. My weight is up a little bit, but my running endurance is much better and I see significant increase in muscle mass in upper and lower body from weight training. My regular workouts while I am living here in a hotel consists of 30 to 40 minutes of running, a 2 mile bike sprint and 30 to 40 minutes of weight training. I get a least 3 week days of this and then when I am home on the weekend, I run and do a little weights. I'm pretty pleased with my progress and not dreading my 10K at the end of March as much as I had earlier. It's funny that there was a period in my last year of college that I ran more than 10K per day, 5 to 7 days a week. This weekend, I'm going to do a 10K at a moderate pace. I have a perfect, kinda hilly route to give me a good test of how my bridge run will do.
I can't wait to get back on a bicycle. I could do it some now on the weekends, but in the area where I live during my weekly commute it is still snowing, iced and too much traffic to ride on the road after dark. Up here, I mostly stick to sidewalks and trails. I'm right outside of Chicago and the drivers here are the most aggressive I have dealt with. It will be interesting to see how my better fitness will affect my riding.
I need to work on some upper back exercises. Trying to strengthen my neck/yoke for the road bike. I also need to get my bike fitted. I don't think I am set up correctly. I'm getting too much neck, arm and foot pain.
So, I said it a good day and not. Well, the not is because I started remembering a few days ago that it was my old girlfriend's birthday today, 2/24. She's turning 40 and I could not resist the opportunity to wish her Happy Birthday. Before I had her block me on Facebook a couple months ago, I had seen her email address and threw it in my address book. Probably not the greatest thing if I knew it was causing me heartache to talk to her, but I knew one day I would want to speak to her again. Well, I did send her a well wish email and said that I hope she and her family have a great celebration. Short, simple.
I truly hope she does not respond.
Boy was that a lie. I would love to strike up a friendship with her again, but I know I cannot handle it correctly. I only want to know her and definitely don't want to interfere with her family, husband, etc.
So, it is not such a good day because I am so conflicted; not for romance, but just about friendship. I could take this as kind of a milestone. I knew back when she and I were friends on FB that I wanted to wish her a happy birthday for her 40th. Well, that's done and I feel less pressure (internally) to contact her again. She wasn't around for my 40th, she could probably not care less. She was well into her marriage and I had been less than a good boyfriend. She'd probably had much better than me after we broke up. She's forgiven me and I'm trying to move on and believe that. The one thing I can do now is give her freedom from my selfish needs to talk to her. I will always miss her kindness and strength.
Funny, last week in Chicago we got about 14 inches of snow and I was really looking forward to going home to NC to get some warmer weather and maybe a run or two outside. I had a panic attack, first in a while, before my flight Thursday so that meant with meds for that I was groggy all day Friday. I worked, picked up my oldest daughter from school and took a nap. I was expecting to wake and go for a run. Well, by the time I woke that evening, there were 3 inches of snow on the ground. Man, I am just bad luck for snow lately. Escpecially as I am training for 2 races this spring. Well, screw it, I got a couple of treadmill runs in on Sat and Sun.
I got back to Chicago Sunday night, and today is Monday. I walked home from work and the flurries were blowing pretty hard here. I thought it would mess me up again. Today was a semi-rest day anyway, so I took some Ibuprophen for some neck pain and took another little nap. Woke up really groggy and the snow had put down about an inch. I was not looking forward to walking on a treadmill for an hour. I decided to do some strength training. Usually, all my weight lifting comes after about an hour of aerobic workout. Tonight, I just went for the weights and it felt really good. I don;t like to get hot and sweaty in the weight room and then head out to the 20 degree weather, but I really needed a walk for sanity sake anyway. It took me a bit to change out of the lifting clothes and into some warm gear and by then, I had stopped sweating mostly, but was still warm from the lifting. I put on a lot of gear because I was only planning to walk. It felt GREAT. I had just the right amount of layering. The freezing air was nice and cold on my legs giving them some life after doing squats and just the spitting of flurries made it feel good on the exposed parts.
5 weeks to the Cooper River Bridge run. I don't know how I will feel for a 6 mile run yet. I wanted to test a 5 miler over the weekend, but couldn't, other than the treadmill which I don't really count.
My panic attack was set off at the airport, not by any travel related fear, but because I kept thinking I saw the old girlfriend. I could not take that right now. I have so much I want to say to her, but I have ruined those chances. I can't get out of my head the first few times she and I spoke. I had seen her months earlier and would see her at different places on campus. I was smitten from the first time I saw her. I remember exactly where I was standing. We were introduced by a fraternity brother of mine and as I got to know her more, I knew this was the person I wanted to be with forever. I was an idiot. I was immature. And I guess, I was just wrong for her.
OK, so my wife and daughter came to visit me up in Chicago this past weekend and it was good and bad timing. I had an exhausting week at work and increased my wieght training so I was beat when they got here. I got some rest, but we also had to drive into the city a couple times and one evening had a hour and a half commute back. I didn't get enough "active" activity so by the time they left on Tuesday, I was feeling very sluggish. I also don't eat as good when I'm trying to take them to nice restaurants. That's my failing and something I need to work on. As soon as they left, I cut back to a workout diet and went for a run. It was snowing through a blizzard that night, so I had to stick to the treadmill. I was really, really slow feeling and struggled to complete 5k at a sub 12 minute pace. I got some good weight training in. The only thing that kept me going was thinking of the races I have coming up, anxiety and the fact that I'm finally getting more money raised for my charity run. Some friends pledged money this week and I would not want to let them down.
Wednesday, my legs felt like lead and ached bad. I had a screaming headache from not sleeping much, snowplows and earthquakes Tuesday night keeping me up. I went for a run Wednesday and still felt like crap. While my training plan had me set to run for 35 minutes, I ended up just walking for an hour 'cause I couldn't lift my legs. I did a great bike ride after and some weights, so the night was not a total loss. Today is rest day. I fly home tonight and then maybe a good outdoors run tomorrow at home. The fact that I took it easy on my legs yesterday, has them feeling much better.
I'm pissed that I can't get over missing the old girlfriend. Again, I don't want to be with her and I handled our last interactions badly, I just missed her as a person. Those things are worse on my mind when I am in a tough work situation and up here alone. Still a lot better than several weeks ago.
I'm starting to feel the pressuse of my first 10K race which is still 7 weeks away. I can't seem to get enough rest between training, tavel and work. Of course, the travel isn't for pleasure, it is for work. I am scheduling a trip to Hawaii for the month after this race, so that should make me feel better. Then I have a Warrior dash race in May and that is all I have planned for races so far this year. My friend Chuck asked me to try to run a marathon in Baltimore in October. With the kind of bike miles I am planning on getting in this summer, I should be able to handle that. I am going to shoot for a daily minimum bike ride of 20 to 30 miles and throw in a few weekend century rides. Right now I am not riding any bike except the indoor hotel stationary. The weather just isn't right.
On the topic of depression, my being tired is bringing me down too. I had switched to a new medication for depression about a month ago and it is doing a better job than the prozac I had been on for years. I first went on meds when my first marriage was ending and my mother was dying with cancer. I needed it then to get over the weight of the days and I continued using it because I found out that I was a happier person and more productive. As I had stated earlier, I had sometimes been a jerk towards women. Not intentionally, but I couldn't see objectively how I acted might make them feel. Oh I had my heart broken a few times pretty bad as well. Relationships just sort of rose and fell without much thought. It wasn't until the abuse I felt from my first wife physically and mentally that I realized I had to take a more active role in managing relationships or more growing and nurturing them. Prozac helped me sort out impulsive feelings and my true heart intent. I do wish I had not met my old girlfriend until I had these things sorted out as I would not be so obsessed with putting that to rest in my head. At least I can do that for my current wife. It is easier to be a part of the relationship when I am mindful of my actions. That has posed a new problem, how to handle a long term relatioship.
In the summer of '10, my wife and I will have been together for 10 years. Our wedding anniversary for 10 years will be in '11. With a few exceptions, I have not even had a lot of casual friendships with women much longer than 10 years. Prior to this, my longest relationship was 3 years with my ex-wife and that includes the year of seperation required to get a divorce. I think it takes the special resilience of my current wife to go through all that we have togehter and help me grow.
Had a glass of white wine, chicken picatta, veggies and rice. The wine was the reward. I cut some time off my 5k pace, about a minute and tomorrow is rest day. I'll do some weight lifting, maybe a little lite bike riding. In this month's Runners World (I'm still more of a cyclist) they had an article on mental training and Kara Goucher. Also, either in that mag or another there was an article on depression and how it affects people exercising and or more like how exercise can improve depression, but some of the times lack of exercise can cause depression. I feel those effects.
Did a nice paced 5k on the treadmill last night followed by high spin 5k on stationary bike. Those freaking recumbent bikes you find in hotels are really lacking in the ride satisfaction area. I know, its not really a ride, but the angle is bad on the backs of my legs and hips. I surely don't feel the same pump sensation post ride like a sit-up or real bike. I would love for this little workout room at my hotel to have some type of at least minimal leg machine.
I have been augmenting all my aerobic stuff with some shoulders, chest, back and ab work. I haven't been logging it, so it is hard to see progress and keep track of weights, reps, etc. I log all my runs in RunKeeper on iphone and much of the apps I look at for fitness logging have too many exercise instructions and too little training tracking.
Comments on my mental state. I was really feeling down this weekend even though I got a longer walk/run. Wife and I have some things to work through. Mostly its me, as usual. Daily basic existential questioning and depressed. I do think I would feel somewhat better if I weren't in the continually grey skies of Schaumburg almost every day of the week so I could go home feeling a little brightened. To be cliche, it feels like a Nietzsche nightmare. Then when I get home, I just want to crawl under covers and sleep. That's not good for my relationship. My problems are becoming the weight sinking us. I'm getting help and staying active, so there is hope.
Did another decent 5k on the miller tonight followed by a 2 mile sprint on the bike. That actually felt good because I hiked the resistance and kept the rpms above 90. Now I need to start concentrating on flexability and strengthening my full back.
I'm finally starting to train for me a little bit and not so much as a method of running away from something. When I do the later, I'm only treating exercise like a drug without regard to progress.
So, I missed running last night. I got to Chicago in the late afternoon and should have put my shoes on and gone, but I was lazy. I was a little achy from the day before doing a 5 mile run. (Of course there was some walking in there, but a lot of interval running) I wanted to see what a 10k felt like again. I haven't run that distance on a regular basis since college 17 years ago. I remember a few good weeks I had running 7 miles a day, 7 days a week. It was just the beautiful run I had planned out in Greensboro from my apartment through neighborhoods and back. I did some of those runs with my friend Hayli. She was great to run with. We had a similar pace and got along well.
Speaking of good causes, I missed the sign-up window for the 24 hours of booty in Charlotte. I was going to try to get 200+ miles. I'm sure I could do a slow century right now if I needed. Well, learned my lesson on that one. I wanted to do it mostly because it is a fundraiser for Livestrong. I'll have to look for some of the Team Livestrong events for later.
I really wish I had someone to run with right now. I do much better when I am pushed and can push them. I run better with women. Don't know why. I was never trying to sleep with them all, but I'll admit to a couple. But mostly I don't have a lot of athletic guy friends that aren't ******** to exercise with.
It's f-ing ugly outside in Chicago today. It'll be a treadmill run tonight, but increasing the intervals.