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Running with the Fishes

1980: When i was growing up in Liberia, one of the fulbright professors, went for a long run.. and collapsed, something gave out (kidney?) and he has to be hospitalized. My parents comment on that: "Stupid Americans.. why they run so long?". I adopted that attitude, along with my "if i can't win, then don't play" attitude to competition (I am VERY competitive.. like, nasty, "I hate you" competitive.. defect of character)

1988: I remember while being a college student in Ames, IA .. i had gone out for a jog, just to see what it was like. I slowed my pace way down, till it was comfortable, and I felt like i could go forever. A car drove by, and somebody yelled out from the car, "You call that running????"... i was mortified, and never jogged again. (instead, i still had my bicycle. Could get anywhere in that town with a bicycle.)

2004: In my early 30's, two things happened: a) i admitted that i was a bit pudgy, and b) i got introduced to Tae-Kwon-Do (Ames Parks & Rec TKD) .. and i started to find that I could work out pretty good.. and I enjoyed it!. I just had to get my motive straight: i don't work out to look good, i work out because i like to.

Or maybe, its more accurate, I work out because my body likes to. My mind is usually too busy for that shit. If i let my mind make the decisions, i would not work out, except when it wanted to impress somebody.

I started running around my neighborhood, and found that I had this constant shin-splint problem. Searching on the internet yielded: run barefoot!.. so I tried, that around the grass track in Ames (livestrong), and I was amazed! I went a mile my first day, winded and out of breath but no pain in my legs. I figured it was the softer ground. I ran more, and ran more, and ..

.. broke my toe. I ran 3 miles, then I took the normal beginner TKD class, then I stayed for the advanced one, and during warmups, i let my foot come down too hard on the mat, and broke my friggin left pinky toe. That put me out of commissoin for about 3 weeks. I didn't run as much after that. I think this was 2005.

(Side note: If you live in Ames, owe it to yourself to check out the TKD class. having left Ames, i've found out that it is one of the nicest, respectful, loving, joyful schools, and its also the cheapest by an order of magnitude.. it was $70/semester instead of $100+/month that I have to pay around here for schools that are not quite as wonderful. Well, okay, one of them is at the same level, but i can't afford it right now (time and money). If I lived in Ames still, I'd still be going there, and I'd be honored to be a part of that school in any way that I could).

Fast forward to late 2008, Louisville, KY. There's no big grass track around here. I started trying to run.. wintertime.. up the street to the church and back. The shin spints were unbearable! I did more research, and found out about vibram five-fingers. Got a pair, went for a run.. and haven't looked back since. Its beautiful.. after getting my calves conditioned, my shins don't hurt at all. My bottleneck became my lungs and my heart.

Fast forward to this year. I got the book The Maffetone Method, which talks about slowing down to build your heart up. I did that. It didn't feel like it did anything. I signed up for a 5k. I ran it in just under 30 minutes. I was amazed. This was 2 months ago. I've started running a 4 mile loop since then, i can do it pretty consistently around 50 minutes, it has a gradual hill at the start, and a big hill at the end.

Present time:

There's a race, called the Bourbon Chase. Last year, a company-wide email went out, inviting runners. At the time, I felt a twinge of envy (ie, i want to do it but I can't, yet), corresponded with the lady for a bit, and then said, I'll try again next year. This year, i interacted with, got cold feet, and downgraded myself to either being a driver or an alternate runner. But, I'm IN. I'm doing SOMETHING with it.

If i'm an alternate runner, i think that still means i have to be able to do 3 sets of 6-8 miles, at around 11 minutes each. Yet, something inside me says: I can do it. But the training schedule is crazy! I don't have that kind of time.

So i'm going to make do with what I do have. I picked up the book Born to Run (I had read a synopsis of it while sitting at a doctor's office once), devoured it (yesterday), and made a decision. I am training for the frickin' Bourbon Chase.

Here's the ideal training that I can put up:

1. Eat salads for breakfast. I'm going to one-up myself - shred some brocolli, snap peas, all that stuff, have it ready. We're not talking lettuce, we're talking high-nutrient stuff. Body uses it to rebuild.
2. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday - workouts.
3. Good Sleep. Trying to go to bed earlier, get at least 6 hours, preferably 8, a night, so my body can rebuild.

Sunday is still soccer night. :) So i have a recovery day before and after. I love it, ain't letting it go.

Tuesday and Wednesday are my "training" runs. I'll be doing one relatively fast.. last one i did was 35 minutes at 6mph, i'm going to up that to 6.2 this next time, stretch out my lungs. Then one relatively slow.. HR constant at about 150 (my threshold is 155), for at least an hour, i'm going to try for two, what i run into there (heh) is boredom.

Then Friday: I'm going to run home from work. The distance is 12 miles. I'm not going to make it the first time.. i've asked my wife to pick me up at 7, or whenever/wherever I stop. I should at least be able to get half way home, i just ran 6 miles yesterday in 1.5 hours, before my calf got bunched up.

This is about showing up and doing it, not thinking about it.

Go Sunny!

Next step: shower, change clothes, and go get some greens.


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