A Run A Day Keeps the Lazies Away???

I notice that the date of my last blog post is February 7th, some – uummm – three months ago. The space

1st Place AG @ Cocoa Women's Half Marathon, January 2015
1st Place AG @ Cocoa Women’s Half Marathon, January 2015

between that post and the previous is even greater! At that time, I only brought my blog up to date concerning my goal of finishing my first 50k. I’ve set some running goals and run some races between my successful Cloudsplitter 50k completion and now. I’ll recap swiftly! I set and met a goal to run a sub-two Decker Challenge Half-Marathon in December (chip time 1:56:57, 4 / 22 AG). I set and met a goal to run a sub-two Cocoa Women’s Half in January (Chip time 1:53:10, 1 / 44 in AG). I set and failed at the goal of a 4:15 – 4:30 full Austin Marathon (see Wild Hare 50k, same song, second verse as they say). I turned off at the half, and finished with probably the slowest half time since the first half I ever ran. I saved face some with the next race after that one – which happened to be the very next Saturday: the Street to Feet 5k (chip time 25:09, 1 / 32 AG). My business (ATX Ultra Eats) sponsored the inaugural Mission for Life 5k / Half-Marathon on March 21st. I ran the 5k; the half-marathon was turned into a 20 miler at the last minute, due to flooding of the course along the San Antonio River. Continue reading “A Run A Day Keeps the Lazies Away???”

Cloudsplitter Race Report: A 50k Finally Successfully Accomplished!

cloudsplitter 3I see that, um, about eight months or so have passed since I last posted a blog on this site (re-blog about the smoothie notwithstanding). Since the last time I really wrote a post for this site, I finished the book I had just ordered at that time, Less Than A Minute to Go (Thierfelder, St Benedict Press), and successfully completed my first 50k: Cloudsplitter 100. When I last blogged, I mentioned that I ordered Thierfelder’s book for inspiration as I trained for Cloudsplitter. The book did inspire me, and reading the book gave me a change in perspective about pain and suffering that helped increase my self-confidence before I began the race. Before I discuss the helpful aspects of the Thierfelder’s work, the former freshman composition instructor in me has to report the negative aspects of the book: the writer’s inferior style and the work’s apparent lack of proper editing. I feel somewhat uncomfortable writing anything negative about Bill Thierfelder’s work; I greatly admire his character and his faith. Given that Thierfelder is the president of a college, however, his work must be held to a high standard.

Throughout the book, Thierfelder quotes extensively. His quoted material is often too long, sometimes about as long as an entire page. In such cases the proper method of quoting is for the writer to summarize the context of the quote for brevity’s sake, then quote only the most striking lines of the quote that the writer believes best express the point he’s trying to make by using the quotation. Even more distressing than Thierfelder’s too generous use of quoted material is his chaotic use of documentation following the quoted material and facts and figures he uses throughout the book. His citation of sources is inconsistent as far as any formal citation style (such as MLA, APA, or Chicago), and it’s even inconsistent within the work itself. Furthermore, until the last section of the book, the work seems to lack organization. The strength of Thierfelder’s writing comes through only at the end of the book, when he relates the secret of improving and succeeding in one’s sport-related performance to improving one’s relationship with God. Although he touches on the relationship between one’s spiritual growth and one’s improved sport performance throughout the book, the relationship seems too loosely connected until the last chapter of the book: at this point Thierfelder’s successfully illustrates the way one’s faith can infuse and positively impact every aspect of his life, even his sport performance. Continue reading “Cloudsplitter Race Report: A 50k Finally Successfully Accomplished!”

Accountability and Running: Being Better Than One’s Self

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View From Lamar St Bridge During Run:11 June 13

“Running long and hard is an ideal antidepressant, since it’s hard to run and feel sorry for yourself at the same time. Also, there are those hours of clear-headedness that follow a long run.” (Monte Davis)

“Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.” (William Faulkner, “The Art of Fiction, no 12,” The Paris Review, 1956)

I really have no idea who Monte Davis is. This quote appears on plenty of running sites, but no one sources it. I googled him but could find no information about him as an athlete. I wish I knew who he is, because I really take issue with these words that are attributed to him all over the web. Honestly, one is quite able to run and feel sorry for herself at the same time! When the weather is rainy, cold, and dark but she has to get in that last five miles to meet her goal for the week; when she has one hill rep left but the previous five, six, or seven reps have sapped all her strength; when her will to run battles her will be back at home eating ice cream and reading a book: oh, yes, feeling sorry for oneself while simultaneously running is indeed possible. But since misery honestly seems to love company, a runner is more likely to complete her running goals when she shares her goals with other runners, and also helps them to achieve their own goals. Continue reading “Accountability and Running: Being Better Than One’s Self”

When the Runner’s Mind Balks: Failure as “Temporary Unsuccess”

“The pain is the reality but your mind can inspire you past it. I look to the countryside, music, and art, to help inspire me.” (Yannis Kouros, “On the Trail with Yannis Kouros,” Running Times)

“Fail, it’s not in my dictionary. I’ve got a good dictionary up there and the words ‘fail’ and ‘failure’ have been ruled out for years. I don’t know what people are talking about who use that word. All I do know is temporary non-success, even if I’ve got to wait another 20 years for what I’m after, and I try to put that into people, no matter what their object in life.” (Percy Cerutty, qtd in “Herb Elliot on Percy Cerutty,” interview on Radio National, 5 Jan 2001)

The weather has turned hot, already. I missed the best of the late spring cool weather that always seems to surprise those of us who live in South IMG_0865Texas. Every year, March offers South – Central Texas runners cooler, more comfortable running weather than November does. Without exception, the San Antonio Rock and Roll Marathon, held mid-November, is a hot, uncomfortable race to run, even to the point where the announcer warns participants pre-race that it’s not a day for a PR. Runners, while waiting in their corrals, are warned to hydrate well and pace accordingly in the humidity and heat. Race volunteers stand just inside the finisher’s area, handing out cold, wet towels to over-heated race finishers. Yet every year, March ushers in cool, breezy weather so much more pleasant that of November that my runner friends and I wonder (repeatedly) why that big race cannot be moved to March.

March in San Antonio / Austin is a lovely month, and the temperate weather usually holds out until mid-May, with only a day here or there to remind us of the brutal summer conditions that lay ahead. This year I was rehabbing my calf tear during the temperate months. I made my slow, deliberate return to running in May, but at that point my running was still rather restricted. The increasingly warm, muggy weather wasn’t an issue until this week, when my longer distance runs coincided with our first temperatures in the mid to upper nineties. Continue reading “When the Runner’s Mind Balks: Failure as “Temporary Unsuccess””

A Joyful Return to Running

“Humans aren’t built to sit all day. Nor are we built for the kinds of repetitive, small movements that so much of today’s specialized work demands. Our bodies crave big, varied movements that originate at the core of our body.” (Scott Jurek, Eat & Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness)

The world is charged with the grandeur of God. bullet proof coffee 3
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
(Gerard Manley Hopkins, “God’s Grandeur”)

Ultra-runner champion Scott Jurek (whose autobiography is an extremely inspirational and interesting read, even for those of use who vehemently disagree with the ideas about diet and nutrition he espouses in the work) is correct: human bodies do long for big, varied movements, and when one is used to moving – running! – for miles every day, for long periods of time outside the house, a sudden halt to that activity brings her shock at first, then disbelieve next, then finally a reluctant, depressed acceptance of reality. At the moment when she realizes that she really, absolutely cannot run for an unspecified period of time, a sort of panic takes over. How, she asks herself, will she replace that movement: that activity that releases such endorphins into her being, and releases her into the world as well? Should she do upper body and core work at the gym, where she will be surrounded by television screens showing CNN or music videos? Surrounded by people plugged up to machines that merely mimic running – not even truly moving – while they remain plugged into their various personal technological devices? Where, in the gym, are the trees?

McAllister Park
McAllister Park Boardwalk, N of Tobin Trailhead

Continue reading “A Joyful Return to Running”