Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I need new motivation

For regular readers of this blog, you are used to only descriptions of my races in this space. Rarely do I open up and let you into some of the more deep and intense thoughts in my beady little head about this addiction I call running. This entry is one such diatribe, a little more cerebral, a little more deep. I implore you to suffer through it. It will put all future posts into perspective.

In the fall of 2005 (the beginning of what I affectionately refer to as ‘the modern era’. Hey, how about ‘epoch’ instead? Hmmm….) I started running again after a ~17 year hiatus. Originally I did it to get in shape only, loose some pounds so I could keep up the bad-for-you diet I had come to enjoy and love in my youth and perpetuated into my adulthood. (’Adulthood’ my arse. I am an wiseguy punk who is 37 and has yet to grow up, let be honest here, eh?) At that time I was going through a lot of self realization about my life, what truly made me happy, why I was here, what I was good at (not much!) and what I was not good at (lots!). In my younger days, I was never that great at anything, even running. I never made higher than runner #4 on my high school cross country team, never won a damn thing. That all changed when I started running marathons. A Boston qualifying time my first ever marathon. A marathon win (my first EVER) ~2 years later and three more wins after that. My first ‘double’ (defined as two marathon races in one weekend) was rough, but I have done it twice more with excellent results. I finally found something I could call my self ‘pretty damn good’ at. It only took me 35+ years. So I keep running, jacking up my frequency, running 3:00-3:10 marathons >1/month with no problems whatsoever. When I reach 50 states, I will be one of less than 10 souls to ever do it before age 40. That little fact barely gets a rise out of me. I must be cracked or something.

So here I sit at not quite at a crossroads, but at the sign that says ‘ crossroads ahead’. I now have 34 states of my 50-state-marathon-quest done and unfortunately at this point I just want to get the last 16 over with so I can move on with my next goal, whatever that may be. Because the marathon distance is now ‘easy’ for me, I have to change things up just make it mean more to ME, make them more of a challenge, which is why I do doubles (2 marathons in one weekend). The joy of completely a marathon is now almost minor. I get more out of the fact I knocked off an additional state that the actual completion of a marathon. Is this a step of the addiction process? Once I grow bored with this addiction (plain old marathons) I need something new, a designer drug, so to speak. The last states cannot come fast enough for me and I need to figure out what to do ‘next’.

While I was hanging out in Phoenix on a flight layover, I spend some time looking at those last 16 states, trying to figure out how fast (and cheap) I can knock them off, and I found back-to-back (consecutive weekend) doubles (two marathons in one weekend) NH and ME the first weekend of October, then UT and OR the second weekend of October. Four states (none of which I have) in 8 days. That is a challenge, and one that I gladly embrace. I know my body could handle it, the mental preparation being the hardest part, so why not do it? It would be a challenge, be prestigious, and I knock out 4 states! Maybe that is what I need to focus on. I now need to try to think outside the box to give me a challenge, something more unique. Sure, this year I am expanding my horizons, running a 24 hour race in April and my first 100 miler in July, but what else? I have thought about attempting to break the world record for ‘fastest marathon while dribbling a basketball’. That would be cool. Other ideas include running across the state of Michigan in 2-4 days. All I know is that a 26.2 mile run is no longer something that brings me great joy. Don’t get me wrong, it’s cool, and I appreciate that to do that feat is something to be proud of (They say that 0.001% of Americans will ever run a marathon), but I guess I just want more now.

Whoever thought that running 1 or 2 marathons a month, every month just wouldn’t be enough? Who needs a coach. I push myself more than anyone has ever been able to push me. Ever. Now if you excuse me, I need to go get another run in. >:)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

2010 Napa Valley Marathon Results

60/1735 overall
12/159 age

So I knew I needed a California marathon, and there are bunches, and I found one who timing and location was perfect. It was the Sunday at the start of my spring break and was only a 1 hour drive from my brother’s house. I could come and visit him and his family and knock of a state (even stay a few days and enjoy it). I have never spend so much time at a marathon location, actually. The weather in Michigan was just about to to become spring like with highs in the mid 40’s, but out in CA, the lows were in the mid 40’s and highs in the mid 60’s. Perfect weather for us runners.
It has been a very long time since I ran race that was solely a marathon (no half-marathon associated with it) so all 2300 of us were marathoners. I was talking with some fellow runners and they called this a ’small race’. I told them that of the 41 marathons I have run, this was one of the 5 LARGEST I have run. People in California seem to have a skewed sense of the term ‘large’ :)

The flight out (2 hour layover in Phoenix) was uneventful but LONG. I tried to get some work done and did, although not my grading. I arrived Friday afternoon (for a Sunday marathon), stayed up until 4:30am ‘body time’ talking with my bro about life, work, kids, spouses-to-be, family, etc. It was awesome to just sit and talk with him over a few glasses of wine.

Saturday afternoon we met up with his fiancee to do some winery touring in the Livermore Valley. We hit 4 wineries, which was kindof fun, then headed to a local Applebees for dinner (two guesses and the first one doesn’t count for what I had) and then I took off for my 65 min drive to Napa.

The race which has been going on for 32 years did have a cool goodie bag. It was an actual (what seems like high quality) dufflebag loaded with free samples of mostly food, some of which was really tasty. Having gotten only 5 hours of sleep the night before, I went to bed at about 8pm the night before the race. Wake up at 4:30, shower, tea, sandwich, then to the finish line to ride the bus up to the start. The course was a point-to-point race completely along THE Napa valley. Very scenic, especially if you like grape vines, because they lined about 95% of the course.

I had actually sort of tapered for this race, only running 35 miles last week (I had run 110 the week before, however) so I was shooting for a good solid time. I will admit I was gunning for sub 3, and was on pace for that until about mile 11, then I my lack of sleep started to creep up on me. Being a marathoner of quantity now instead of quality, I was ok with slowing down just a little and enjoying the beautiful scenery and chatting with runners briefly as they passed my by, sometime quite zippy.

The crowd support was actually really good, with lots of people out coming to cheer (really loud in some cases) for us runners. I ran by what seemed like zillions of wineries, and not one was giving out samples. I was a little bummed by that as I thought for sure someone would offer us thirsty runners something to satisfy our parched bodies. Oh well. No wine at the finish either, except for the winners who won their ‘weight in wine’. The rest of us would have to buy our own. When I ran the Wineglass Marathon in Corning, NY all the racer received a commemorative small bottle of champagne, which tasted awful (but free!) I guess Napa valley wine is just too expensive to waste it on us marathoners, ya know the ones pouring big bucks into the local economy by coming to this race? Ok, I’m done bitching now :)

This was the RRCA Western Regional Marathon championships, so I was actually running with some wicked fast people, as such I was really happy with my overall placing. Handstand across the finish line and I got a pretty cool finishers medal, and the tastiest cup of soup I had ever had. I am usually not a huge fan of vegetable soup, but this stuff was so salty, it was delish. After a little recovery time, I headed back to my hotel for a quick shower before I headed back down to spend the rest of the day with my brother. As I was driving, I realized something bad. Less than 2 hours after the race, the ‘excitement’ of finishing a marathon was gone. When I ran my first marathon back in June of 2006, I was flying high for an entire week. Now I don’t even get 2 hours before that euphoria is gone. Once I realized it, I was actually a little depressed.
I still had a few days in town, which was great getting to spend more time with my bro and his fam. I have been running consistently for 4.5 years now and I have never been bitten by a dog while on a run. Well, the day after this marathon I was helping my brother pull a tree stump in the backyard of his fiancee’s house and her dog (who doesn’t like chainsaws or strangers) came and after a few previous small friendly interactions, actually attacked me, taking a small bite out of my leg, ripping skin and bruising me something fierce. Luckily it was on my quad and I am used to that muscle being sore, so the 9 mile run I did afterward it wasn’t horrible. The wound looks worse than it feels.

This trip was awesome because I got to see my brother and his family, but I missed Misty and my three kids way more than I expected I would. It would be so nice if I could bring them along on my racing trips, I don’t even have the money to fund the trips I take by myself.