11/24/22

It’s almost that time. Hay is in the barn. (I’ve been waiting to say that.) I started training in June for this race and it is about to be time to go.

The photo above is from Crescent Lake a few weeks ago. Most of my miles training for this race have been run, or shuffled, or jogged, yogged, logged, whatever, covered, at Crescent Lake Park and on the Pinellas Trail. I am so sick of running at these places, but their convenience, which is mostly proximity, has won time after time over any other routes, or god forbid, driving somewhere to run. Training has been a massive time sink, so the locale didn’t matter at all, just the miles. For example, November 14th was a Monday, and I had 20 miles that day. I also had to work, so I didn’t get started running until about 7, which is nuts. My race pace is 12 minutes a mile, so 20 miles takes four hours. I went a little faster than race pace at the end and got in the door a few minutes before 11. I was eating hot food right around midnight. This is no kind of life.

Today was my last speed workout before the race. 8 miles, 5.5 of those at basically 9 minute pace and the last 2.5 progressively faster to the point of just, death I guess. I wanted to be going very hard at the end, in other words, on tired legs, not just from this run in particular, but from the 6 months of assault on my legs (and psyche), seeing as this run was the last chance I had to get my legs moving at a faster-than-race pace. In normal times, this workout would be much faster (Strava excuse), but I’m extremely pleased with how my legs responded in their current state. (If I had written more during this training period, I would have said similar things about 75 percent of my speed workouts. My legs have been solid.) The last time I trained for this race, I was so busy with work I wasn’t able to do anywhere near all of the workouts, so I had to prioritize the long runs. This time though, I’ve done every single workout (I missed two miles of an 8 mile run in the second week of training). I feel ready. It’s still 100 miles, though.

My next post will be from the other side. Hopefully the sub-24 hour side.

10/16/22

I still do this, yes. I know.

I’m in week seventeen of a twenty four week training plan that’s supposed to get me ready to run one hundred miles on December third. I spelled out all the numbers. I ran twenty two miles today and I have twenty more tomorrow. The week following this one we’re in is a down week, and then I run fifty miles the day before Halloween. After that, it’s a gradual taper, with one up week in there before the race in the beginning of December.

Now, about how I feel. I feel good for being in week seventeen of a twenty four week torture plan. It’s not torture, I love it. It’s not something I could do more than once every other year though, I don’t think. Who knows if my body would even let me do it that often. Anyway, when I say I feel good, it means that I haven’t missed any workouts, speedwork included; I haven’t called in sick because wah wah I’m too tired; I haven’t become a menace to my friends and family that I’m aware of; and most of the time, I actually physically feel pretty good. Legs hurt though.

I’m going into the fifty miler with some good momentum. My goal is to run as many hours as I can at 5 miles an hour. Faster is okay and will probably happen early, but the times tend to flatten out after a few hours, when I get into a rhythm. Lately, like the last two weeks, I’ve been doing my long runs at even splits, or negative. That is something I’ve never been able to do in training for an ultra. I’m excited to get the fifty done, then basically just wait til the race.

Very special people are helping me to get this done. Thank you.

8/2/22

(Vail this April)

Day off of work and rest day on the training schedule. The white whale of days.

I’m in the seventh week of training for a 100 that takes place on December third. It’s the same 100 I did last time. My one and only 100. I mentioned that I would probably be signing up for this race in my last post, which was in February. Jeez. So I’ve had a lot of time to think about whether or not to do it, and it just made sense to get it done now, when I’m feeling energized to do it. There’s some kind of forward momentum in my life currently, where I just feel motivated to do everything to the fullest. That sounds cheesy as hell but I’m serious. Everything feels kind of new right now, still.

Training itself is going well at the moment. The past week mileage-wise, was eight-six-eight during the week, and eighteen-twelve on the weekend. (Not super important but I do the weekday runs on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and the “weekend” runs on Sunday, Monday. Because of the weird post office work schedule.) That twelve last night after work was hard to get out the door for. But when I finally did, it was much easier than I expected. I did it in two hours, with my vest on. Basically running the whole time, except to use the porta-pottie (twice). I think I took three short walk breaks. It feels like progress to be able to do training runs like that after working a full day in the intense Florida summer heat and humidity. Gonna try and keep that energy.

I’ve been at a sort of crossroads with running nutrition for a minute, and I think I might have found which way to go. I’ve used Gu forever it seems. For my first ultra I used Shot Bloks exclusively. For some reason I abandoned those, and I don’t remember why. I started using Gu gels after that, and just dealt with all the things I hate about them. First, they’re not all bad. Nutritionally, Gu gels give me everything I need. But the effect they have on my mouth is like torture. I think it’s the sweetness of them; my throat gets so dry-feeling that I constantly have to drink water, even when I don’t need it. I don’t like the taste of them either. Doesn’t matter which flavor, they make me cringe. Enter Maurten. I read about Maurten products after hearing about them on Strava. Then I heard that riders in the Tour de France were using Maurten products almost across the board. They are definitely worth a shot if you are a runner, cyclist, or whatever. I won’t explain their products, but I can explain how they’ve affected my training. In my short experience with Maurten products, I can say that they give me energy I can feel, which Gu gels never did. I can also say that the gels Maurten makes are sweet, but have no real flavor, and are the consistency of Jello. Most importantly, they don’t make my throat feel nasty. Even better is that all the Maurten products have more carbs than Gu. So far, so good. The only downside is the price. They’re a little expensive.

Shoe-wise this time I’m sticking with the Pegasus. In New Orleans I ran in the 37 and it gave me no problems at all. My long runs are in the 38 now, and they feel even better. My toes feel like they have more room vertically in the toe box, which is a good thing when compared to the 37. My rotation right now consists of all Pegasus and one Hoka Rincon. I wear the Hokas on Fridays, so the last of the weekday runs, where the training schedule calls for speedwork. It says that it’s optional, and last time around I opted out, but as of now, I’m in, and it’s making a difference I think. I’m just going harder now — when I can — instead of trying to conserve energy or whatever. I read something that said if you’re not working on your speed, you are counting on your ability to delay fatigue to get you to the end of the race. I mean, so logical it’s silly. So I’ve been taking that seriously, and I think I’m beginning to see it work for me. Example, last night.

I’ll try to keep this page updated with posts but… you know.

2/21/22

It’s always been too long these days. Not because anything unfortunate has happened. Just because I do more nowadays. When I started this blog, I didn’t have a job and I was training pretty hard, and that’s the energy that I tried to bring here, just enthusiasm for writing and running. Not like those things have faded away. In fact, I have quite a bit of enthusiasm and excitement about writing what I’m writing now, or at least the fact that I’m writing anything at all, is what I’m enthused and excited about. La la la.

So anyway, I’m probably going to have to go and edit the “about me” page that no one has ever viewed, with perfectly good reason. I haven’t decided yet, but the fact that I’m mulling it over and have already discussed the logistics with the people who would be involved means that I will most likely decide in favor of doing it. “It” is the Daytona 100. The same 100 miler I did in December 2018 and finished 49 minutes past 24 hours. I just want to finish a 100 mile race in less than 24 hours and I will be done with that distance. I don’t care if it takes me 23 hours 59 minutes and 59 seconds. Just finish under a day and I will be happy.

Now, having trained for a 50 miler last year, I know the challenge, or at least half of the challenge facing me. The last time I trained for a 100, I had the same job, but I was going in at 9:30 and working til 6. Plus, my legs only had a few months of carrying mail on them. Now they have over three years on them, and trust me, they don’t feel like my 2018 legs. The upside of that is that my legs are tough and can endure a lot of distance and strain. So that helps. But I still have one of the same problems I had back then; I rarely ever have Saturday and Sunday off, to do my back to back long runs. My plan is just to do one of the long runs on Sunday and the other I’ll do on my day off, whatever that is. And when I do have a long weekend, it’ll just be business as usual. Of course though, the heat. I don’t really think there’s any new ground I can cover talking about heat and running and the combination of the two, in Florida, and how horrible it can be. I’ve made it clear how I feel about it. And maybe I shouldn’t complain anymore because I’m making a choice to continue the behavior…

So I’m not sure if I’m waiting for some kind of sign to tell me it’s a go, or what. I’m just not 100 percent sure I want to commit to it yet. What will probably happen is, I will keep pretending that I’m mulling it over instead of admitting that I’ve already admitted to myself that I’m going to do it. I’ve told the people that I’ve told, “I’m not getting any younger.” This use of this phrase, in this context, is the most practical use of this phrase I have ever come across.

I have been enjoying running very much lately. The weather is beginning to turn hot again, in the afternoons. It’s the kind of weather where the sunlight feels so good on your skin, because most days there’s a cool breeze, and the contrast of the two is pleasing. Today I ran 10 miles at 9 minute pace and enjoyed almost every minute of it (I need a new shoe rotation). It’s likely that I will continue this kind of blissful relationship with running, until the summer when I begin to train. Then it will be a love/hate relationship. Right now it’s all love.

I will write again when there is some news that seems big enough to share, or maybe just because I feel like it, but most likely the former.

11/9/21

It’s been a month since the race. I wish I had written sooner. I’ve run 20-25 miles a week following the race and I’m happy with that. I’m running when and because I feel like it now. I love training, with the structure and accountability it requires, but sometimes it gets to be stressful because of the time drain. And the fatigue. So it’s nice to run longer when I feel like it and run shorter when I feel like doing that. It’s kind of my favorite time period of running, when a race is done and all the rules go out the window. But I know that feeling won’t last forever. Eventually, I’ll want to do another one. I only really have one more goal with this kind of running though, and that’s to finish a 100-miler in less than 24 hours. Not too tall of an order I don’t think, and then I’ll be done. Maybe. 

So, the race was good. I finished in 11:52, which under the circumstances, I will 100 percent take. It was hot and humid first of all, and the course markings were troublesome to say the least, but overall I had a really fun day. My friend Myke, who I trained with remotely for this race, was with me for half of the way, but had to stop due to dehydration. Like I said, it was hot and humid. However, three weeks later Myke got redemption and finished his first 50 mile race. So a big congratulations to him. Let’s do another one!

I don’t think I’ve ever been as prepared for a race before. Maybe it’s just that I’ve done enough of these races to know what to expect. I think that’s part of it, but not the whole thing. The training had a big impact on my preparation of course, and all the walking I do at work doesn’t hurt either. I don’t know, I just felt like the whole day was very predictable in terms of pace, nutrition, hydration, etc. All the running stuff. I just sort of chugged along happily with no real setbacks or speed bumps. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was easy, but at no point was I in the pain cave. I couldn’t even see the opening to the pain cave. That’s largely because I wasn’t concerned with pace, though. I was just trying to finish in under 12 hours. 

The race itself was a good one that I wouldn’t mind doing again. All the people were great, as they always are with ultras. The weather wasn’t great, but it’s usually not that hot from what the race director kept saying. Although, climate change. And the course “markings” were not great either, but in all honesty I only went in the wrong direction twice. Once early on with Myke, and we didn’t get but about 50 feet off track before another runner hollered at us and pointed in the right direction. And once at the end, like less than a mile left. I had to figure that one out on my own. It took me about a quarter of a mile before I realized something was wrong, then I took out my phone and Google-mapped my way to the finish line. Aside from all that stuff, the one thing the race really has going for it is the location. There are lots of sights to see in New Orleans, in and around the city. Also, before and after the race, just being in New Orleans was lots of fun. I had great company too!

I said earlier that my only goal left as far ultras go is a sub-24 hour 100. I guess that’s kind of a recent realization I’ve come to. With work and my aging body (seriously, I am not in my 20s anymore, barely still in my 30s), I can’t imagine what I would feel like in ten or twenty years if I kept on running ultras. So, I think I will be fine with achieving that goal and calling it a day. Of course, my plan is to never stop running completely. I love it too much.

4/18/21

This photo is objectively bad, but it is not intended to show this bumper sticker in any artistic way. It’s only intended to show the content of the bumper sticker. I had never seen/read this particular saying and I found it to be true, or at least to be a statement that I wish to be true. Mostly referring to bathroom activities that unfortunately occur outside of bathrooms, “What happens on the long run, stays on the long run.”

At this point, I didn’t do a long run today. I just did my every Sunday 2 hour run. 13 miles @ 9:35 pace. It didn’t feel long in time or in distance. I had a little pain in my left foot, around the ball of my big toe, about miles 7-9. Nothing too bad. It went away. I had a little pain in my right foot, around the same area, about miles 9-11. That went away too. Then I had some, I don’t want to say pain, more like irritation, in my left calf from mile 11 to the end. I think that was due to me not tying my left shoe tight enough. My heel was lifting slightly and I was too stubborn to stop and fix it. Pretty stupid. Not like I was on some kind of record-setting pace.

I had a very easy time mentally blocking out those pains I had today. I guess now I can tell the difference between pain that is serious, and pain that is fleeting. Now, sitting on the couch, I don’t feel any of those pains. I also think my mind is in a good state right now. I’m distancing myself from the negativity that was creeping into my thoughts and kind of plaguing me a few days out of the week. Just waking up in the morning and thinking about all the things that can go to plan instead of thinking about everything that can go wrong makes a big difference on my outlook. Not stressing about a bedtime that’s set in stone is helping as well. I would really like to get 8 hours of sleep but it’s not realistic. 7 hours, maybe. 6.5 is doable every night and I feel ok in the morning and throughout the rest of the day. I catch up on my days off and go about my business. Worrying about it multiplies whatever tiredness I may feel. So cheeseball but just thinking positive thoughts is important, apparently.

But I can’t stay positive without a few positive occurrences… occurring. I met someone and today we are going for a walk. Hopefully a long one. All kinds of excited, and a little nervous.

4/11/21

Today, I felt like this guy. All disjointed and in need of a bench. 12 miles @ 9:45 pace. Very difficult for the pace and distance when compared with my last few runs of similar pace and distance. I never hit a wall, but the whole time, I felt as if I was pushing some kind of imaginary weight, and if I tried to speed up, the weight would turn into a wall; if I slowed down, I wouldn’t have enough momentum to continue pushing. Contributing factors were not very good sleep last night – I went to sleep late and had a lot on my mind so I didn’t get right to sleep – and heavy humidity that was wet blanket-like. The wind was also strong in my face on a few sections, which helped cool me off, but slowed me down and made me work harder. Kind of a trade-off, but I had to think about it, like think through why I was feeling cooler but not feeling any energy return, and thinking about it, the mental toil, is also taxing. Slightly dreading the runs to come when it is exactly how humid it was today, but with no wind, and temps in the 90s. Adjustment time. The positive from this run is that I talked/thought myself through it, and never thought of walking it in. The deeper I get into summer, the longer the runs are going to get, and I’ll need more determination and grit than I have now. It’s been a minute since I was ready for 20 mile runs when the heat index is 100+.

Everything is connected, but non-running-wise, this week was a big improvement over last week. I didn’t feel like I was on that seesaw from struggle to ease but one day. It was bad that day, but I talked/thought myself through it and made it a decent day instead of an angry one. Work is finally smoothing out to a point where I think I know what to expect, and that is a huge help.

About to leave and go get my first shot. I’m getting the Pfizer one. It’s raining like crazy and I have to drive to Venice. It was the only place I could find doing both shots on Sunday, when I know I don’t have to work. More soon.

4/4/21

Today I ran 13.1 miles at 9:10 pace. It was one of those days that I anticipated in an earlier post, where I said that I would have the urge to run semi-long, even though I don’t need to. It’s tough to know when I shouldn’t run as far as I want to. It always feels right to run far if I have the time and the energy. I ran straight down the trail, away from downtown, and bypassed Clam Bayou and it’s water fountain this time. I ordered a handheld water bottle for days where I don’t wear the hydration vest, but need to have water with me. So that worked fine. Overall, it was a fine run. Not strenuous until about mile 10, where I started to notice how slanted the asphalt on the trail is at that section by Gibbs High. I never noticed it until today, and possibly it’s not even all that bad, but my left ankle was telling me otherwise, and I had to grind a little. It’s fine now. When I got past that part, I was able to run easier and my best mile splits were the last two miles. Had a pretty good time out there, but this was one of those runs where, mentally, I just had to suck it up and get it done. My heart wasn’t really in it.

Afterwards, Eddie came over and we went for a long ass walk down to the pier and then around downtown. Total time walking was about 2.5 hours, after I ran for 2 hours. It was the first time I had seen the new pier, so that was cool. It’s a little strange to me though, the thought process that went into the design. There’s a big castnet thing draped over a section of playground at the entrance to the whole place. If I remember correctly, it’s a playground. Just from looking at the castnet during the day, I couldn’t tell if its’ purpose is artistic or if it has some functional purpose. Eddie said it lights up and changes colors at night, so maybe it’s a functional piece of art, but during the day it just looks like a giant’s castnet, thrown over a playground for normal size children. Then, there’s a berm. Just a berm. I saw a few people lay down on the ground at the top of the berm with their arms at their sides and their legs tight together and try to roll down the berm like they were logs. That’s really the only purpose I can see that berm having. It can’t be a comfortable place to stand and hang out, what with the uneven footing. Then there’s the rooftop bar, which I totally get. There used to be a rooftop bar at the old pier, so, continuity. But the real problem for me is, the only part of this pier that’s an actual pier is at the very end of the entire structure, and it is minuscule in relation to the rest of it. Used to be, the pier was a pier. You could fish off of every inch of concrete that hung over water. Now, the place is like a theme park without rides. I’m just a grumpy, old man. I will say, architecturally, it is pretty cool looking, if not organized or cohesive.

Eddie doesn’t take showers before work. He says it’s because he’s just going to get hot and sweaty anyway. I do take showers before work. Because it wakes me up.

I went to my Mom’s for Easter dinner, at 4:45. That’s when old, grumpy people eat dinner. (I’m gonna eat more; I ran 13 miles today.) We talked about everything that is good and everything that hurts. There is a lot of both right now. My life feels like an alternation of ease and struggle and I have no warning when one will shift to the other. Maybe that sounds awful, but it’s been an accurate description of my life for a while now. It’s just that the circumstances of why that alternation is occurring are now different. It will take a while to get to where I want to be, I think, but I am headed in that direction. We talked about that.

Gonna try to have a good week.

3/31/21

I went to Fort Desoto to run today, clearly. 6.4 miles at 10 minute pace.

No matter what I do, I can’t seem to have anything but an average run at Fort Desoto. Stat-wise, today wasn’t supposed to be a fast day at all. Easy 6. But I’m talking about the time that I have when I’m out there, in my head. The scenery is so monotonous, despite it being one of the most beautiful places to run in or around St. Pete. I guess it’s like, if you’re looking at all this great scenery with nothing ugly breaking it up, it becomes almost tedious. Then there’s the wind. Always the wind. I think it’s 10 miles an hour minimum every time I run there. And no shade anywhere. Not surprising I don’t have any great runs here then.

I’m running the New Orleans Ultramarathon (50 miler) on October 9th of this year, barring any unforeseen events. I’m doing that with my friend Myke and I’m super excited. Yesterday, he and I tried to figure out when to start the training plan we’re going with. Seems pretty easy but it turns out that calendars are actually a necessity sometimes. Like, the one on my phone, because it’s not something I can physically touch, flip, or mark up with a pen, was not a suitable enough tool to help me figure out which week we needed to start. Whatever, we got it figured out and it is the last week in April. This is a good thing, as I still need to acquire a few things prior to beginning to train. It’s a 6 month plan, which will be the longest training plan I’ve ever followed. All that said, until then I will be keeping it cool, taking it easy. I will definitely have an urge to run semi-long before then, say 10-15 miles, and I won’t resist it, but I will have to keep in mind that I need to relax and have fun, first and foremost.

My shoe rotation is set for now, but it may change depending on how a few of the new additions work out. I have two of the old workhorse Nike Pegasuses (doesn’t matter which model; after a few runs, they all feel the same to me), the Saucony Kinvara (pretty much same, I don’t even know which model they are; they were the cheapest ones), and the New Balance Beacon 2. I’m not sure how the Kinvaras and the Beacons will work out for running very slow paces, but my idea is that they are light and lack a lot of structure, so they’ll let my foot do what it wants to do. They both have a nice amount of cushion, too. It’s good we have 6 months to train because any issues with the rotation will get sorted out. I’m thinking for the race shoe it will the Pegasus, hence the two pairs.

I look forward to running more now that I am a regular carrier. Even in this past month, since I’ve been living alone, I’ve been able to make time to run at least 6 days a week. With the reduction in hours, however slight, I’ll be able to run more miles as well. Altogether, this increase in running time and distance should lead to reduced stress, improved fitness, and an excellent training block.

Other stuff:

We got the Spotify thing figured out. The EP goes up on the 13th of April. Also, on iTunes, they would not let us charge $6.66.

People talking outside my window, go away.

I got to Fort Desoto before everyone else did this morning, save for like 10 people. I park in a spot where I cannot, with the naked eye, see one other automobile. When I come back from my run, there are cars parked on either side of my car, but no other cars parked within 1,000 feet. Why.