Weekly Mileage Report

Monday: 3 miles

Tuesday: 6 miles at 8:30/mile pace

Wednesday: 2 miles

Thursday: 10 miles at 9:40/mile pace.

Friday: 3 miles

Saturday: off

Sunday: 3 miles.

This was a good week because of the speed I showed on Tuesday and the distance on Thursday, but I am beginning to feel some wear and tear in my lower legs. As much as I dislike taking days off, I might have to in order to prevent injury. My ankles/lower legs were all like HRHAAHHDHHDHFFKIIMSFMADKASDLMASKDM” during my run today and it has me slightly worried. I have faith that I’ll be fine, though.

More to follow,

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Thieves in the Dark

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.” 2 Peter 3:10

I just blew the tanks out on a ten mile run. It was ugly (about 9:40 per mile) but I finished it. Three revolutions around the old 3.3 mile loop through my neighborhood.

For some reason, though, I kept wondering if someone would call the cops on me. Maybe it’s because I ran at midnight, maybe it’s because I didn’t sleep much and I’m paranoid, I don’t know. I was just fixated on the idea of the cops being called.

Let’s be honest: what are you thinking when you see a bespectacled, shirtless, moderately-overweight young man glistening with sweat attempting to drink out of an automatic sprinkler system (what else was I going to do? I was dehydrated!). That’s suspicious activity.

I think this odd fixation on being mistaken for a thief or no’count ruffian is what’s causing me to ruminate on the verse I quoted and ponder my own muleheadedness concerning the End that all athletes face.

Consider the death rate of football players. Most football players die after their senior year of high school. It’s true. Statistically, most football players in America eight to ten years practicing and honing their skills until the final whistle of their last season, and they never play a down of football ever again. Of course, they live, but they’re no longer football players. Joe Football Player dies and rises from the ashes as Joe Stockbroker or Joe Auto Mechanic. This is a perfectly healthy, normal thing; it’s just that you can’t really call Joe a football player anymore.

The same phenomenon applies to runners. Luckily, running is a sport that you can partake in your whole life, if you’re lucky. But that’s a big “if” right there. Runners are an oft-injured bunch: plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, ruptured tendons, and myriad other ailments and afflictions can end your life as a runner. But runners are also made acutely aware of the intricacies of their own body by the hours spent on the roads, coaxing miles out of muscles. Because they know firsthand the fragility of the body, runners are aware of the temporal, random nature of their existence. The ability to put one foot in front of another is the result a complex system of machinery that can be rendered inoperative rather easily.

I am especially well-acquainted with this fact.

I came out like gangbusters my senior year of high school cross country. I ran my butt off all summer and was truly disciplined for the first time ever. I ran a 58 second PR at the first meet, then I promptly got swine flu and a very severe case of bronchitis. After attempting to “run through” the sickness like an idiot, I went to a doctor and was ordered to sit out a significant portion of the season. Senior season, over. Hard work, nullified.

You would think that glimpsing the ease with which running can get taken away would have made me cherish running more. And it did, for a time. But then, my enthusiasm faded and I found myself making excuses time and time again. By the middle of winter, I’d gained about 15 pounds, and I was barely running because I took it for granted.

I was not in shape at all for track season. However, the first few weeks of the season got me moving again and I started snapping back into shape.

Then, one night, I was walking through my house when it was dark and I stubbed my toe and broke it. No running for six weeks, no senior track season.

These events all but slapped me in the face and shouted “appreciate running, you dolt!” And yet I still found myself skipping runs and making excuses, albeit with less frequency.

I finally started to get my head right in college and started putting in the miles regularly, but then my life went approximately like this: stress fracture, pneumonia/bronchitis/flu, lupus.

Suddenly, the separation wasn’t temporary anymore. I really might never run again. The sword hanging over my head had drawn blood before, but it had never dropped in such a violently permanent fashion. As a runner, I died.

John L. Smith’s explores this phenomenon in Again to Carthage, the sequel to the cult classic Once a Runner. In the final pages, the protagonist Quenton Cassidy finds himself running in fourth place in the marathon at the Olympic Trials with a seemingly insurmountable gap between him and the third place runner. In the Trials, of course, only the top three runners make the team. Throughout Smith’s cathartic narration of the final miles, he sounds the refrain “All runners have to die someday.”

So, Memento Mori, everyone.

My intent in telling you, the runner, to remember that you will die is not to be maudlin; rather, I aim to emphasize the preciousness of the run. Remembering that you are just a blown knee away from never running again makes you appreciate your daily run that much more. I was lucky enough to receive a second chance to run, and I run more consistently now than I ever did. But why bank on second, third, and fourth chances? Why not simply cherish each run, even the bad ones? Embrace the fact that there will be good runs and enjoy them, but embrace the bad ones as well. Welcome the pain of the long-run in the hot sun, because the struggle brings growth. Don’t shy away from the difficulty inherent in running, because any run is better than no run at all.

Fill those blank calendar pages with black ink, friends.


Posted in Injury, Lupus, Minimalist running, Running, Stress Fractures, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Newfound Speed: Weekly Mileage Report

Monday: 3 miles

Tuesday: 2 miles (and the weirdest feeling I’ve ever had while running)

Wednesday: Took day off because of weird Tuesday

Thursday: 3 miles

Friday: 6 miles

Saturday: 4 miles

Sunday: 8 miles at 8:10 per miles (65:30 total)

26 miles total.

As you can see, it had been a rough week until Sunday. after stumbling through my 3 miler on Monday, I laced up Tuesday and made it about a mile and a half before I started feeling like I had run a marathon.

With only the bottom half of my legs.

It was too weird. The rest of my body felt fine, but the lower half of my legs was gassed beyond belief. I stumbled home and felt awful. After taking Wednesday off, I felt like I was slogging through water on my next three runs.

Then yesterday, I went out and blew my own mind with improvement.

I started slow, but I kept building speed until I felt like I was absolutely trucking by the end. It was a beautiful run. I checked my phone for the time at the end of the run, did the math and gasped. I’d run at about an 8:10 per mile pace- faster than the second mile of my recent 5k.

I’ll write more about this later.

God bless and Godspeed,

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This Year and Last Year: A Pictorial Comparison

Check it out! The first picture is from last September, and the second is from the day after I ran my first post-lupus 5k. I’m starting to become happy with my appearance again, and it feels good!

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Last Week’s Mileage

Monday: 3 miles.
Tuesday: 10 miles. I wasn’t planning on running this far, but my friend and I just followed our feet and we found up making it into the double digits, haha.

Wednesday: 3 Miles.

Thursday: 3 miles.

Friday: 1 mile.
Saturday: 5k race, 4 miles total.
Sunday: 6 miles.

Total: 30 miles.

This might have been too steep of a jump in mileage. I’ll probably go 25 this week.

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Sometimes, Momentous Occasions are Interrupted by a Guy Who Looks Kind of Like Hulk Hogan: A Race Report on My First Post-Lupus 5k

I turned into the chute, pumping my arms and gasping. On either side of me, there was a cheering crowd spread along the metal dividers. The noise and energy was incredible. I’d paced myself well, and I was just running out of gas when the crowd buoyed my spirits. I’d picked it up in the last half mile and passed about ten people. “What an amazing accomplishment,” I thought. I’d gone from barely being able to walk to finishing a 5k ahead of people in just over a year.

Then a man in his fifties with a pot belly and an abnormally large handlebar mustache blew by me like I was standing still and totally silenced my internal narrative.

He was also wearing all orange. He looked like Hulk Hogan crossed with a pumpkin. As the realization that Pumpkin Hulk was outkicking me sank in, I crossed the finish line in 24:31. The ridiculousness of the moment made finishing even better.

Not to get sidetracked or anything, but there was also this guy camped out at about 2.5 miles with his Euphonium totally jamming out on “Louie, Louie.” As I faded off into the distance, I heard him start playing the theme to 2012: A Space Odyssey. About twenty minutes later, my mom ran by and he was still playing the theme to 2012: A Space Odyssey. This leads me to believe that he alternated between “Louie, Louie” and theme to 2012: A Space Odyssey for the entire duration of the race.

For these reasons, this guy was clearly the MVP of the entire event.

Where was I again? Oh, yeah. Race report. Gotcha.

All in all, I had a great race. Due to my insomnia, I only got three hours of sleep, but the magic of yerba mate helped me get into the correct (and by correct I mean “jacked up”) state of mind. In the days leading up to the race, I had repeatedly admonished myself to run smart, pace myself correctly, and begin by running well within myself.

To my complete and utter surprise, I did all of those things. I resisted allowing my pride to get the better of me and I started out far back from the line with the slower runners, and I began at an easy pace rather running the first quarter mile in a mad dash like I used to. After that easy beginning, I began to reel in runner after runner as I allowed myself to slowly and conservatively pick up speed. I covered the first mile in about 7:50 and I estimate that I passed about fifty to sixty runners as I picked it up.

Historically, my pace tends to lag badly in the second mile of 5k races The rolling, deceptively tiring hills of the second mile on this particular course usually cause my pace to slow down even more.  However, I managed to maintain my focus over the second mile, and I came into the second mile checkpoint in about 8:20.

The final mile was run almost completely down a hill, and a steep one at that. I used gravity to increase my turnover eased into a faster pace. By the time I reached the bottom of the hill with about a quarter mile to go, I’d reeled in about ten or fifteen runners, and I began to pick it up. I covered the last mile in about 7:30-7:40.

I had to gitupandgo in my legs left to sprint to the finish, but I did manage a faster run. However, this increase in spend was not enough to hold off the ferocity of The Orange Hulk Hogan’s handlebar mustache, and I got outkicked as I previously mentioned.

I wound up in 222nd place out of 779 runners, or roughly in the upper quartile of the field. I was also 17th out of 25 in my age group, which surprised me a lot because the 19-24 age group is usually pretty competitive. Ultimately, I wound of feeling pretty good about myself after looking at the results. It’s nice to know that my level of fitness is actually pretty decent compared to the general population of runners as well as people my own age.

I don’t necessarily mean that strictly in the context of running, either. After I was diagnosed last year, I felt like I was stuck in Matrix-esque slow-mo while the rest of the world continued to buzz along happily. Everyone was advancing through their lives, while I was stuck on the couch feeling powerless. Lupus made me feel like I was in last place, and finally racing a 5k and doing comparatively well was a nice milestone that let me know that I’m moving again. God has truly been good to me.

However, the feeling that prevailed in the immediate aftermath was that it was just another day at the office. During my cool down, I found myself thinking of the ways I would train to be faster for the next race, adding up mileages and planning schedules. Then, it hit me: I’m thinking like a normal runner. A normal runner thinks of ways to do better after he runs a slower time, and that’s exactly what I was doing.

I felt like a normal person.

So, I’m happy with my time and the way that I ran the race, but I know that I can do better. I’m not satisfied. Greater things are yet to come.

Phillipians 4:13, everybody.

Run in joy,

Posted in 5k, A New Hope, Goals, Health, Lupus, Minimalist running, races, Running, Winning | 3 Comments

Weekly Report

This was my final week of school so training was kind of odd.

Monday-Wednesday: I wrote 22 pages of essays.

Thursday: 3 Miles

Friday: 6 Miles

Saturday: 6 Miles

Sunday: 5 Miles

Total: 20 Miles and 3 essays.

I was a little bit leery of backloading my mileage like this, but everything turned out ok. The last few days (and the last few weeks, actually) were fairly stressful with school and it felt great to go run those longer distances. My body handled the stress quite well. My form is good and my feet are rising to the challenge of the Minimus’ zero drop. The screaming of in my calves is becoming much less audible.

One of my homies also decided to train with me, which is quite nice.

Happy summer, everyone!

Posted in Health, Lupus, Minimalist running, Running, Running Form, Uncategorized, Winning | Tagged | Leave a comment