Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Beginnings...Part Three

And now, the not so epic conclusion.

I had six months to get myself from couch to marathon shape. Needless to say I has skeptical. I hopped on the internet, found a decent enough training plan that I figured with a little tweaking I could handle, and started running the next day.
Two months went by and I had barely built myself up to more than three miles every other day. Things were not looking good. Slowly the miles started building and the runs were getting easier. Could I dare say that I was beginning to have fun? Things were going good, but I had yet to tackle that final hurdle in my training. The 20+ mile long run. The week came when I was finally going go get my chance. I was all primed to go, and then I got injured. Nothing serious, but enough to prevent a 20. A couple weeks later and it was time for another shot. Scheduling conflicts. Had to cut the run short. I was starting to get nervous. There were only a few weeks left before I needed to start cutting back and I still hadn't gone longer than 16.  Finally, with four weeks before the marathon, I managed to hit the trails and get in 20 miles. Relief. I actually got one more 21 miler the next weekend and was feeling pretty good about things.
Race day finally came, and with conservative expectations, I started out to end my journey I had started six months earlier. With PERFECT weather and my family cheering me on, I crossed the finish line well under my goal. In fact, the race had gone so well that I destroyed my previous PR that I had set right out of college!

*Disclosure: I am about to admit to being a HUGE softy, so don't make too much fun of me!*

Now I'm not sure if it was due to the emotional drain of the afternoon, the elation I had at crushing my goal, or just the fact that I was glad to be done, but shortly after crossing the finish I broke tears. It must have been pretty obvious too, because one of the finish officials noticed and asked me if I had PR'd, which I proudly said that I did. I quickly regained some composure and wrapped up my finish line activities.  After a quick phone call to the family, it was decided that due to traffic it would be easier to take the bus back to the Metrodome and walk back to the apartment where I was staying from there (it was about a mile). As I sat on the bus waiting to depart, I finally had time to reflect a little on what had just happened. Again I was flooded with emotions, however this time I was able to hold back the tears. It had been a good day.
As I think back about that day, I realize that moment on the bus was the moment that I became a runner. It was the moment that the sport I loved so much back in high school and college had seeped back into my blood. From that moment, there was (and still is) no turning back.
It is now 2011, I have already ran a marathon since and I am signed up for the Twin Cities Marathon again. I am currently following an ultra marathon training plan and expect to attempt my first in 2012. As the miles start increasing and the training gets tougher, I find myself more eager to head out the door than ever. Not all runs are great and sometimes I really struggle to find the motivation, but at no time does it feel like work. Running no longer feels like a chore. Unlike high school and college, every step I take is one that I have decided to take, not for a coach or for a team. Those were all great experiences, but now I am running for me, and I can not think of a better reason to run.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Beginnings...Part Two

I met Justen through a mutual friend.  Our friendship was one that grew slowly, as we would generally hang out in social situations as common friends got together from time to time. His interest in hiking and trail running and mine in running was our common interest and usually our main topic of conversations. His background was vague and one that he can get into with greater detail, but his passion of all things Seattle and trails peaked my interest.
An unknown amount of time had passed and our friendship progressed accordingly until one day he told me of his plans to run the North Face Challenge 10K in Madison, WI (we would later discover the race was actually in Eagle, some 60 miles east of Madison). At first chance, I hopped on my computer and looked it up, and what I found made me smile. An entire weekend devoted to trails and running! Later I would look back on this moment and think maybe I overstepped our friendship, but I called him up and asked if he wanted some company on this trip (basically I invited myself along). He said definitely and I signed up that day.
As the weeks went by and the race drew closer, I made a few feeble attempts to start actually training for this race. What was I thinking signing up for a 10K after 7 years of no running!  Race day drew near and anticipation levels were reaching exciting levels. Then I got the news. Justen has been suffering Crohn's Disease most of his life, and he was having another flare up. He would not be running. I was pretty down but more concerned that he was doing alright. I figured that the trip would obviously be off, but he said even though he wouldn't be running, he was still going to make the drive to Wisconsin.
The trip went well and we had a good time over the 2 days. I ran an alright race for not having any serious training since 2002, and being a part of the race weekend was definitely worth it (although I would later tell him that I felt really guilty for running when he couldn't, and still to this day do). The race being in September, I kept up my running for several more weeks, not keeping a strict schedule but still getting in some light miles. Winter got closer and schedules got busier and I eventually found myself a non-runner once again.
Fast forward to April 2010. With the birth of my first son weeks away, needless to say things were getting a bit hectic. The events of last fall still running (pun intended) through my mind, I made a decision. Without giving it a second thought, I signed up for the Twin Cities Marathon.

To be concluded...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Beginnings...Part One

Where to begin? When writing of one's life, or of one's running life, where does one start? Too much information and the reader gets bored. Not enough information the reader gets frustrated. The real story begins last year, however, a brief history of how I got here couldn't hurt.
I was a moderately successful high school runner. I ran socially throughout the years leading up to my junior year, where I made the realization that I could be good at this. We had some success both in Cross Country and Track and at the end of four years it was time to move on.
The college years brought more of the same, minus the success. After choosing a small DIII school, I again ran Cross Country and Track and had an immediate impact. This was a small team at a small school in a small conference. A very young group of guys made up the majority, with the upperclassmen there as more of a leadership/comic relief role. Our shining moment came in a 4th of 8 place finish at our conference meet. I always took my running and my training seriously, but with lack of success came a lack of ambition, which quickly took over my academic life. So, after 5 years (yeah, I did the whole "semester off" routine) I left school with no degree and pretty low self esteem. I had failed for the first time in my life.
With no degree and no money, moving back to my home town seemed like the only real choice I had. The plan being to get a job and save up some money and then move out west (go west young man!) This was 2003.
Fast forward to 2009. Still living in my home town I had established quite a successful career as a bartender at the local shit hole. I still hadn't pick up a pair of running shoes since I moved home and I was developing a large tolerance for Jagermeister. Things were going great (insert sarcastic tone here). Then I got fired. Although far from rock bottom, I had hit an all time low. That is until I met Justen.

To be continued...