Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Aged Vanilla

I don’t know what getting old is supposed to feel like.  In the beginning does it just feel like failure?
I don’t know how to lower my expectations, nor do I really feel like that time has come, but I can’t escape some seemingly obvious truths.  I ran a pretty good race on Saturday at the Newport Marathon.  My goal, as always, was a PR.  I sat on PR pace for as long as I could.  Then with all of the effort still there, it started slowly slipping away.  I was 2 minutes off pace at the half marathon mark.  From that point forward, all increased efforts accomplished was to slow the rate of decline.  I never melted down, never gave up mentally, I just wasn’t as fast as I thought I’d be.  My training had gone really well.  I know where the flaws were.  I know the skipped long run, the 10 mile tempo runs that ended up being 7, but I trained hard.  Obviously, either not hard enough, or this really is the point over the apex.  Doesn’t really matter, my next big event, Run Across Oregon, will not be measured in PR’s or even really in time.  It will, however, give me a lot of time to think about what’s on the running horizon.

Gorgeous Oregon Coast weather.
In many ways, this was one of my favorite race weekends ever.  I suppose it started with my DNA results from 23andme, which revealed, among other things, that I am 99.9% European.  This removed any lingering suspicions about whether I am part Kenyan, and took an enormous burden of expectations away!  Nope, I am 99.9% aged vanilla.

The Patio Project
Jeanne and I have been diligently working on the “Patio Project”.  There are some drainage trenches dug on the side yard and as we have carted and wheelbarrowed supplies we have warned each other to be careful of the trenches many times.  Last Saturday, while moving some top soil around to the back, Jeanne stepped in one of the trenches and severely sprained her right ankle.  She was on crutches for a few days and then into a walking boot.  The original plan had been for her to drive out on the marathon course, but we didn’t know how quickly the ankle would start to heal.  She drove for the first time Thursday night, a little test drive of a few miles, and it didn’t go very well.  We made the decision that she would not drive out on the course and that we would wait until we got to Newport to decide whether she could try and drive to finish area. The finish was only a mile and a half from our hotel, and she figured out that if she went in between the slowest people clearing the area and the winner coming back she would have a decent chance of parking near the finish.  Friday night we went out to dinner with some amazing new friends Jerry and Julie (more on them later), at The Chowder Bowl.  The food was pretty unremarkable, and I broke a cardinal, no fried food the night before, rule.  It was calamari!  After dinner, on the drive back to the hotel, the low tire indicator came up on the dash.  I pulled over and walked around the car.  The right rear tire did look a little low, so we found a service station and filled the tire up, problem seemingly solved.  A few hours later, I ran down to the parking garage to check on the tire and it looked fine.  Saturday morning, I was scurrying around, getting ready, my normal pre race jitters going on, and Jeanne asked me to check the tire again.  I was glad to have the distraction and headed back down to the parking garage and, the tire was completely flat.  I can’t begin to express how incredible it feels to have a partner like this.  I walked into the room and said to someone that can barely walk, “I’m really sorry, but the tire is completely flat, and I have to go right now, I know you can figure this out in the best way possible, if I don’t see you at the finish by 11:00 I’ll run back to the hotel”, and took off.  She was awesome, everything taken care of and basking in the sun at the finish when I was done.
Jeanne hobbled her way to the beach!
Newport Finish

A few months ago I started running with a husband and wife team in Dallas, Julie and Jerry Mullins.  I was getting a little lonely running almost everything all by myself, and driving in to Salem to run with friends was feeling like more of a production than “a run” should be.  They have both been such a wonderful shot in the arm of enthusiasm and positive energy.  Jerry ran his first ever marathon at Newport and Julie, well, wanted to PR (which would have been 4:20 something I think).  I don’t really remember her original goal time because it was pretty obvious, from the beginning, that she was capable of running much faster than that.  I remembered when Lynn Harmon saw a lot more potential in me than I saw in myself and how amazing it felt to have his encouragement and support and help.  So, I took the opportunity to pay the universe back, a little, and tried to help her gain the confidence to reach for something a little more.  As her confidence grew, she found the courage to say, out loud, that she wanted to break 4 hours.  I really never had any doubt she’d break 4.  I told Jeanne, “Julie is gonna go well under 4”.  She did, 3:53, which was pretty cool considering the first time I broke 4 hours, I also ran 3:53.  It’s such a mental barrier, than once you believe you can get under it, you really can get way under it.
Julie and Jerry Newport Sub 4 Finishers
I’m starting to really allow myself to start thinking about the actual running of Run Across Oregon. The actual logistics of running 300 miles require preparation that can’t, or shouldn’t be, ignored or minimized, but I’ve really tried to not think about the running part it until after Newport.  My mind is on it now!  It’s a big thing, I know, all the way across a state.  I know what it will take, every day, and it isn’t trivial.  35 miles every day for 8 days, I know the passes I’ll have to climb and I know it will be HOT, and I’m really looking forward to the challenge.

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