1 mile fun run version – I’ve not posted much because I’ve been training for a half marathon that I ran Saturday. It was an enjoyable accomplishment that I intended to complete with my daughter. Now if you want read the (half) marathon version, grab a cold beverage and a comfy chair.
Half-marathon version –
Hey, remember me? I’m the guy that has only posted a few times this year. A Kotter you say? Well, that is an acceptable moniker. But you see, I’ve been training (“What kind of training, son? No, not Army training Sergeant Hulka…) marathon training…actually to be more precise half-marathon training. Since the beginning of December, I’ve been on a mission to get in running shape. As many of you know from your time in the gloom, finding semi-descent weather to run outside is challenging of late, especially with our weather pattern resembles the Pacific-Northwest more than the Carolinas. I only resorted to a treadmill maybe five times. So how does this goal become the carrot on a string at the end of the stick? A simple request from my daughter: “Hey Dad, I want to run a half-marathon, will you run it with me?” How could I say no to that?
All of us with 2.0’s can probably empathize and as my 16 year old is maturing, I realize these opportunities are less than they used to be. But Leslie’s request was her own challenge to summit. Some of you are familiar from COT’s that four concussions in soccer have ended her time on the playing field. She didn’t have aspirations to play beyond high school, but it was her passion and anytime something that you enjoy and excel are removed from your control, it is a loss that must be faced. How a person deals with it could go a number of ways. The same can be said for some of us and the challenges we face in the Three F’s. For some, a particular exercise might be dreaded, and I’m not talking Burpees, everyone hates those – except Slaw for some God-forsaken reason. But I’m sure you’re thinking of something else that if called, you begrudgingly begin to do though you can’t wait until it’s over. For me it was running. I’ve shared this in the Tuna 200 Backblast but the challenge continues. Moving one foot in front of the other, as rapidly as you can sounds simple until that trip extends beyond a particular distance. I trained a bit for the T200 and enjoyed the experience more than I did the running. Last Fall I upped the ante a bit with more mileage on the Bourbon Chase, but I hurt my calf preparing so once again, the camaraderie was better than the running. In both those experiences, I had not really committed to diligently executing a plan, one that would push me further than I had before, so this half marathon idea from Leslie was probably the slap in the head I needed to really push me from my own comfort zone.
I’ll cut to the details to tell you that over the past 3+ months, I logged over 250 miles, hitting more than 75% of the scheduled runs. More important to tell you than the step by step process is the advice I learned along the way, mostly from the running PAX was both direct and indirect. Watching and observing different styles and the efforts whether on a short mosey at a bootcamp, running AO, or relay. I appreciated much faster guys dropping back to run at my pace – those were the runs that always went by the fastest. If you allow me to share a few of the things I picked up along the way, both good and bad.
- First and foremost – run when you don’t want to. Whoopee shared this and it was true, more so for the mental toughness needed. I appreciated this after mile 10 when I was tired and trying to press on. Nothing more than a dreaded 5k left. I’d done it before – this was why.
- Don’t skip your long runs (a consensus from a lot of guys) – the mid-week or the weekend mileage that you need your legs to adjust to the distance. They don’t have to be fast, actually slower than your “race pace” works (a tempo run).
- What is your goal? “Finish” Stroganoff told me. The better training runs were the ones that had a purpose, short, medium, or long. I struggled most when I wasn’t focused and picking a route along the way just to get distance. But knowing where the finish line was, kept me driving.
- It’s okay to have a bad run – Sargento – think of your handicap in golf. You may be +/- your handicap but some days, even the pros have a crappy round due to mental or external factors.
- Train on hills and use them to help you – who else other than Gastone offered this? But it’s true, I’d let me legs go on the downside and shorten my stride on the climbs – this was observed from watching numerous guys like Defib and Boudin.
- “I think I should’ve stretched” – Unfortunately this came from Freight after his leg locked on him attempting the glory leg at the Bourbon Chase; I was mindful before each run to get my legs stretched.
- What to eat? This was a mixed bag and unlike Quiche, peanut M&M’s and Diet Coke were not going to work for me. I was unable to convince my M a pink taco had magic protein/carbs, so I had to Google search for other ideas. Everyone’s palate and diet are different and the key is to do what suits you best. But don’t “bonk” (that’s not sexual). Make sure to eat carbs before your longer runs.
March 9th, was race day in downtown Charlotte for the BB&T Corporate Cup; the culmination of miles and dedication. My daughter and I drove to Charlotte at 6:30 am and she decided to eat a banana, remembering that I said they were a good pre-race food (maybe not 60 minutes before though). We were both a bit nervous about what was to begin. Arriving at the starting line, we negotiated to a spot just ahead of the 2:15 pace. Our training schedules were vastly different, she ran after school, me before or after work. So we had not run together and that was a mistake on my part. I wrongly assumed an athletic 16 year would out-run me and she would for short distances. So we trotted off and then a half mile into this big race we had put great time and effort Leslie said she wasn’t feeling well. We stepped to the sidewalk to let her catch her breath. Her face was flushed and she looked a bit scared. I switched from runner to Dad – “are you okay?” Reluctantly, she said ‘let’s go,’ and we started again only to quickly say she really needed to go to the bathroom. Luckily around the corner of West Blvd and Tryon there was a Bo-jangles. Leslie entered to earn a road win while I paused my watch and watched the runners and even some walkers go by. Leslie emerged from the restroom worse than before. “Are you up for this?” I questioned as we began to shuffle our feet. “My head’s killing me!” she replied. “We don’t have to do this if you’re not up for it,” I replied. “I don’t want you to be mad at me if I quit,” she responded. I can’t be mad at her for something she can’t help. I’m not the one that’s suffered an daily headache ranging from mild to migraine the past seven months, the result of another ball crashing into her fragile skull. I admired her for training but there was a limit to what she could physically handle. As much as she wants and as much as I’ve prayed for her healing, Leslie has not recovered. A nervous stomach made it worse attempting to eat too soon before the run. I called my M that fortunately was nearby and explained the situation. I did my best to reassure Leslie I admired her attempt but this was not her day. A bit dejected and upset at the situation, Leslie veered toward the car and I took the flag running with a higher purpose than I had originally planned.
With a parade full of runners ahead, my pace quickened. I felt like Sargento inserting myself into the lead-off leg of novices at the Bourbon Chase. As much as I wanted to yell “you just got Quiched!” passing by the 2:45 pace group, I realized this was a ‘me vs. me’ event. This particular group of people had too much cellulite jiggling in yoga pants, I noticed. The challenge was to push toward the 2 hour pace group and much better views ahead (if you didn’t get it – the skinny chicks in yoga pants…). Much different than my solitary training runs, migrating through a multitude of people was a boost of adrenaline. This was a bit unexpected. Racking up kills reminded me of our F3 brother Apache and his famous “Pow, Pow, Pow!” rattling my brain. I was on a PR pace at the halfway point (8:15) and feeling really good. A playlist of hair metal hits pulsed among erratic thoughts ranging a multitude of subjects but mostly pushing ahead for Leslie that was texting me encouragement. I was inspired as I attacked two hills I had intended to walk but confidently climbed. My dad dropped by at mile 9 to cheer me own. My M and 2.0’s greeted me at 11.5 and Leslie hopped back in the race. She said she felt better but I knew different. We turned up Morehead St, with steady inclines of nearly 100 feet in two different sections, connected only by a brief flat to catch your breath. “How much longer?” my daughter asked. “A little more than a mile,” I huffed. “I’m walking – you go on – meet you there.” And I was back on my own for the finale.
This was the toughest stretch. Unchartered territory as the final training run had only covered 12 miles, stringing together legs 3, 4, & 5 of the CSAUP two weeks ago. My legs were tired. I felt the blisters growing on my feet and toes. I grabbed a handful of encouragement from all the places I could think: F3 Brothers. ‘DFQ’ gets echoed in the gloom quite often and that was firmly on my mind. The relays where it’s the runner’s duty to carry the baton from one man to the next, I imagined that final stretch to make the handoff. Key advice from Pizza Man and Tool Time stuck with me as well. We’ve all felt those moments, the last few reps of a circuit or heading toward the AO just as the bell tolls – just trying to get to the end: that was my last hurdle. Now down the hill, the finish line was in site, my stride gained speed and I crossed the line – officially at 2:01:55 but unofficially at 1:57:26 (if I remove the Bo-Jangles excursion). Leslie crossed a few minutes after. They handed her a medal and she nearly put it down. “You earned that medal!” I confirmed for her. If she hadn’t put the challenge out there, I doubtfully would have ever done it. There will be other races and hopefully I will be there or chasing her at the finish.
I mentioned in the beginning, running was not my favorite cardio activity. But this process to push myself into new territory, something clicked along the way. I came to appreciate the mental and physical challenge. Those moments when pace and stride were in harmony and I could decompress a day’s worth of ideas, thoughts, and prayers in my head – those were amazing runs. To feel the miles and hours of training synch into the culmination during the race is prideful with my only regret that Leslie was unable to partner alongside.
I trained mostly alone but it couldn’t have been done without some of the advice received from more experienced runners than I’ll ever become, some has been mentioned. I’ve admired guys like Defib, Quiche, Sargento, and Boudin guys that make this task seem effortless. There were many others that pushed me before and during this. Blart over a year ago at the Coconut Horse let me pace off his long strides “…if you hadn’t noticed, I don’t talk much during while running…” he said at one point, but I didn’t need conversation – just a presence – thanks Blart. Dr. Seuss kept me company for my first 10k last summer in Belmont, running a personal best time couldn’t have been achieved without a good partner that made me look ahead and enjoy the trip. A Pub run with just Monk and myself where the time flew by on a steamy summer morning. Meeting Stroganoff at Ocean Isle Beach for a 5 mile tour of the island last Easter – Wolfpack and Rush were topics. As much as Tool Time scares the hell out of me, he makes me better – I appreciate you brother. Roscoe let me hang with him for a mile on our beach trip last year but if I hadn’t attempted to chase him (and Re-Run) I would have been on the couch. Whoopee and Gastone offered lots of advice and encouragement. There are more but you’re probably tired of reading this diatribe, if you haven’t already clicked it off. But I’d be remiss not to mention my stone – Madoff slowed down to run with me on numerous occasions with great conversation and companionship. He offered plenty of encouragement along the way. So after this accomplishment, I’ve progressed into that relationship that I sometimes hate, but I love what running has done for me. See you in the gloom – soon.