Benchmarks and Marks on the Doorframe

How many of you had a door in your home where a parent religiously marked off your height? Perhaps if you had siblings there was a mess of marks in different colored Bic pens or Sharpie markers. Maybe your dad used his pocket knife, which was his father’s and now sits in your jeans pocket, to notch the door frame on your birthday each year.  You had an easy to read record of growth, an ability to see where you were coming from and where you stand now. If only we had such easy marks to read in our lives as adults.

Many people have asked me “What makes you think you can do 50 marathons in 50 weeks?” I only ran my first marathon 2 years ago.  I took off 2014 due to repeated injuries. I have only run 2 official marathons and 3 unofficial marathons so far this year. To be honest, my training miles are not where I would hope they would be.  I shoot for 30-40 miles a week and I’m only completing 20-30 miles. I haven’t had any major injuries this year, but I have had weeks where I needed to R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate.) These next two months will be my tempering.  Three more marathons to go, one each week in November. I have run more consistently this year than any other time of my life.  I feel I have adopted tools and habits that allow me to rest and recover properly.  I feel that I have a team that I can go to for advice and support.  My body feels strong.

I actually don’t know if I can do 50 marathons in 50 weeks. I know I could do 50 5ks and 10ks. I’m pretty sure at this point I could do 50 half marathons. I am unsure about 50 marathons. However, this was the whole point – to choose a goal that seemed unbelievable to me and figure out how I could make it happen.  Other people try to come up with a new mousetrap. Other people try to create art that has never been seen or experienced before. Selfishly, I am merely trying to push myself out of set comfort zones, to see if I can consciously change who I am for myself – define myself by my terms.

In the grand scheme of the running universe, I know I am not setting any records or accomplishing anything new.

Earlier this year, James Lawrence, nicknamed “The Iron Cowboy” , a 39-year-old triathlon coach and personal trainer, set out on a grueling endurance challenge on June 6 in Hawaii: to complete 50 Ironman-distance events in 50 states in 50 consecutive days. He succeeded, finishing his final 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and 26.2-mile run 50 days later on July 25 in Utah.

“I want people to know that anything is possible, and to not let anyone else dictate what they think is possible,” he said. “Chase your highest dreams… there are no limits to life.”

This summer, a 23-year-old has allowed his life to imitate art — running about 3,200 miles across the United States in less than 100 days just like the title character in “Forrest Gump”. Barclay Oudersluys had this to say about his momentous trip.

“I think it’s all mental,” he said. “It’s just, do you want to do it and stay focused and put the work in?”

There are everyday people, moms, doctors, cubicle workers, retirees, the guy who sits next to you at work who put in these miles, EVERY DAY.  They don’t take off a whole year, they just make it work.  I wish I could do that.  I’m hoping that this trip will show me that I can do anything I set my mind to.  I hope I can mark off growth on the doorframe at the end of this year.

Welcome Back!

It has been about a month since my last blog post, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy. I spent some time redesigning the look of the site. We have a  new logo, easy graphics to direct you where you want to go, and more information on my upcoming journey. I have also been getting in my training and I feel strong. Aside from my regular running and walking miles each week, I was the sweep for the Newport Marathon in Rhode Island with Beast Pacing. The sweep is the pacer who comes in last, shepherding the final runners across the finish line.  I continue to learn new strategies and life lessons as a pacer and this race brought out many new insights.  Expect an amazing race report on that in the next week.  This week I pace at the Newburyport Half Marathon and I can’t wait to apply what I learned.

Although, there haven’t been any new blog entries we have some new pages on the site and some major updates to our itinerary. Here is a little introduction…

50/50/50

This page has been updated with all the most recent changes in the marathons I am running.  I have confirmed that I will now be running 8 officially timed marathons over the course of the year (Alabama, Texas, Iowa, New York, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, and Virginia). Adjustments needed to be made to both the calendar and the mapping.  Some races have been substituted due to certain course restriction.  This page has the most up to date version of the trip and you can expect that I will be around the marathon town for at least a day or two before and after the race day listed.

Hosting

A contact page was necessary for some of the friends of friends who wanted to contact me but this is also a fine place to recommit to hosting so that I have an accessible folder of requests.  Within the next week, this page will have a comprehensive list of the states and areas I still need a place to lay my head.  As with anything, timing is everything, so some of my original hosts won’t be in town when I am there. Even in the states I already have slated, it’s good to have a back up plan.

Support

This was the most difficult page to design.  This journey has been incredibly personal for me and I find it very difficult to ask for help.  I get a great amount of support from all of you about my running but in the end, this is just me, on the road, for hours on end.  I don’t think of myself as a charity case and if I can’t afford to do this, maybe I should spend more time planning and saving.  That being said,  I have had many friends express that they would like to contribute and are looking for an easy way to do that.  For me, I found it easier to think of these monetary donations as if friends were buying me a drink.  I bring bottles of wine to dinner parties.  I help christen new homes with unique bottles of liquor.  For those who would like to contribute, I have sketched out some thank you packages and partnered with crowdrise.com. This site promises the least amount of administration fees, it is easy and safe for you to use, and as an organization, they have been incredibly supportive.

As always, I rely on you, my friends and readers for your feedback and support.  I appreciate any comments or suggestions to make this site better and easier to navigate and utilize so please keep the comments coming.  Thank you for running beside me and sharing the many miles I have yet to travel.

derekzardus2_

Inspiration Run – TBT Owls Head Personal 5K 2013

20130903_061405As I have mentioned before, I like to race the sunrise to get to a beautiful location and start running just as the sun heralds in a new day.  This day the sun gave me a couple hours head start by sleeping in and pulling a heavy blanket of fog up over it’s head. There would be no sun at Owls Head State Park in Maine this day.

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In 2013, my manager was overseeing 2 locations for our company, one of which was in beautiful Rockland, ME.  Whenever she would need a hand when this smaller location was understaffed, I was quick to volunteer.  The Maine coast is always inspiring and I had found a perfect little park to stretch my legs and start my morning right.

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Getting to Owls Head State Park is very easy.  Owls Head is just a couple miles south of Rockland’s city center.  I usually get to the parking lot and walk up to the stalwart little lighthouse to watch the sun rise and the fishing boats head out of the harbor, but that kind of view was not to be had that day.  Instead, a cool cloud hung about the remnants of a late summer scorcher the day before, making for a more comfortable, if damper run.

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I like to start my run right at the base of the lighthouse stairs. The first half mile takes us out of the park and along beautiful fields overlooking the sea. You’ll notice I went off road and ran along the rocky beach from Lobster Lane to Wharf Street.  I love the smell of the ocean that lingers and percolates along the harbor, though it might be to pungent for some. Another mile along the harbor and the bay and then a run back
to the park on rolling country roads.

I love 20130903_070758to finish my run by jumping into the ocean at the beach just behind the light house.  Two warnings, firstly bring water footwear, the rocky beach can be very sharp.  Secondly, the water in the morning there is always chilling. I feel it’s great therapy for my legs after a run however not everybody will enjoy the shock to the system as much as I do.

wpid-screenshot_2015-09-24-09-47-47.pngI have turned this into a 5 mile run by running out and back on Dodge Point Lane and Garthgannon Road.  Usually an exhausted runner’s wave will calm the locals enough for them to lower their rifles.  They may have even smiled as I ran back past.

When I am in Rockland, I usually end up at Home Kitchen Cafe. Griddled polenta is amazing with over easy eggs and bacon and I’m usually there early enough to get one of their limited number of sticky buns.  This, however, was a Tuesday and on Tuesdays Home Kitchen Cafe is closed.  Instead I was treated royally at one of Rockland’s classic breakfast joints, The Brass Compass.  The Sailor’s Breakfast would have been more appropriate if I ran a half marathon, but this explains why I run but don’t lose weight.  A fantastic way to start my day.

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Marathons Are For Wussies?

Doing some research on people who run multiple marathons over various time frames, I came across a subset of articles and commentary which called the ability to do marathons into question.  The arguments were very well laid out and the statistics were overwhelming.  My own experience makes me feel that the argument has some validity. I’ve been roughly 100 lbs overweight for years with questionable willpower and still I’ve been able to complete 3 marathons this year so far.  I tell people all the time that they could run a marathon – I really believe that if I could do it, anybody could do it.  Most of these articles work along the theme that anybody can run a marathon, but it takes real commitment and athleticism to win marathons.

Out of 729 marathons held in 2014, there were 590,399 finishers. Over half a million people completed marathons last year. Median times for the most popular marathons fall under 4 hours.  Unfortunately for those who enjoy the feeling of running a marathon, there is a tapering of elation like with any addiction.  Just finishing the marathon becomes passe.  One needs to improve upon the initial experience – striving for a better PR (Personal Record), reaching towards a BQ (Boston Qualifying time), doubling up events or pyramiding events like Disney’s Dopey Challenge (5k,10k, Half Marathon, Full Marathon, over 4 days), running a marathon in each state, running ultra-marathons.  These new and different experiences can help us overpower the brains natural tendency to try and shut us down as we push our bodies to do more. When you hear about these runners upping the ante, it can make it seem like the marathon is a paltry distance.

With so many people entering the ranks of first time marathoner each year it becomes easy to dismiss the marathon as a dated benchmark.  However dated it may be, it is still THE benchmark. This is not a race that someone who is physically fit can easily say “I think I’ll go run a marathon today.”  There is a commitment and forging that must occur both mentally and physically.  “The Wall” is real and although it starts in the brain, it can wreck the body without proper preparation.

Many of the aforementioned articles make it sound like first time marathoners don’t deserve much respect because, in this day and age, everybody s doing it. While a half a million is impressive, it is still a far cry as a percentage of total population.  No matter what time they are crossing the finish line, they are still lapping those sitting on the couch.  When someone says they are raising funds for a cause by running a marathon, you can still be impressed and donate to the cause.  At the end of the day, a marathon is still 26.2 miles – a distance to be reckoned with.

Planning a Sunrise Fun Run

Plan a Sunrise Fun Run

Belfast Walking Bridge, Belfast, Maine

I am not a morning person by nature.  I love the luxury of  lounging in the bed sheets and sipping hot, sweet coffee while listening to new tunes. However, I find I am strongest as a runner in the morning.  Most races are in the early morning, in fact one of my favorite races,  KVYMCA’s Rise ‘N Shine 5K Road Race is coming up at the end of this month.  It starts officially at sunrise.  The race is always on a Friday, so most folks go to work right afterwards. It is a terrific local run and most of the runners in the area look forward to it with great anticipation. I never have a problem getting up early for a race.

I usually have a problem getting up early for training. I set my alarm for 6am but don’t hit the road until 7am or sometimes 8am. Most of the time, I have been training for races that are 3-4 months down the road.  That’s a whole lot of early morning boring miles.  I do mix up my runs – hills, tempo, road, trail. At some point though, things get a little monotonous. Enter my Sunrise Fun Run.  I try and plan these every two to three weeks.  I enjoy finding a new place to run and the planning involved to fit it into my day. I think that the short term anticipation gives me a little pep in my step and helps me build towards my longer term goal.

Here are the four steps I use to plan my Sunrise Fun Runs

1. Choose Somewhere Dramatic

We all like to be inspired.  A local running hero, an underdog story, an internet workout meme can all be a spur when we are just moseying along. This sort of run should have a spectacular element.  Living where I do in Maine, I have a wide array of scenic paths to choose from – crashing coastlines to rocky outcrops.  Ask your friends where there’s a beautiful lakeside path or rolling river route.  Even architecturally interesting small towns with their massive mills and glorious churches reaching for the sky can make you feel like a luxury sedan driving around the streets in the early morning.

2. Map It Out

Because I usually choose a new area, I want to make sure I know where I’m running. On race day you have volunteers to point you in the right direction. I like to use Google Maps and Street View to plan out my miles and see what major crossroads look like so I don’t mistakenly run an extra couple of miles. I also like to look for alternate paths so that depending on how good I’m running, I can choose to add an extra scenic route or take a short cut if injured or strained.

3. Be Ready to Run Before Bed

Just like a Race Day, I like to line up all my gear and equipment. Especially for these Fun Runs, I’m waking up an hour and a half to two hours before sunrise, I can’t trust my brain to remember every detail, so I lay out all my gear and write myself a checklist. Water and breakfast I can have on the drive, but it should all be set up and ready to go.

4. Race the Sunrise

With all the preparation, you might think about getting to your destination early. I like to cut it a little close.  I plan to get to my destination right before the sun comes up.  It keeps me focused on the drive and starts the adrenaline pumping even before I start my run.  The early morning sun is great for picture taking and I enjoy some light stretching while I watch the glory of a breathtaking sunrise.

I hope you plan a running adventure soon.  It doesn’t need to be a big vacation.  These little runs can be right in you backyard and just the right size to energize your training schedule.  Where do you like to go for your local adventure run?  Let me knw in the comments section below.

Staying With Strangers

“Don’t talk to strangers!”, “Stranger Danger!”, and “Beware of strangers bearing gifts”are all sensible admonitions, but I have never been known as the sensible one. One of the biggest questions people have asked me about my upcoming trip is “Where are you going to stay?” No matter how good hotel websites and apps make their prices, I could never afford 365 days of hotels.  Mostly, I will stay with friends I know.  After I posted my first road trip itinerary, I had about 20 friends reach out and offer guest rooms, floor space or back yard tents.  I’m sure I’ll have a few more friends accommodate when I ask them directly.  However, I don’t have friends in every state.  Even staying with friends of friends, I will probably stay with strangers about a quarter of the time. I don’t mind taking candy from strangers so if someone is offering a pillow and a roof over my head, they are practically family.

Four months from today, I will have run the first of my 50 marathons in 2016.  That week, as planned, I will be spending in comfort with my sister, her husband, and my two adorable nieces.  I will have my own room and a pool and the luxury of people who love me and want to care for me  After that I thrust myself into the unknown. Three of the next states (Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas) are completely unknown to me. After reaching out to friends, it will be a pot luck of accommodations.  I certainly won’t be expecting strangers to tend my blisters and rattled bones.

I have used some websites before like Couchsurfing.com and globalfreeloaders.com with mixed success.  I have been told that recently, getting people to respond on those sites has been difficult.  I will save my experiences with them for a future post.  I do know that it is difficult to ask people you don’t know to trust you and invite you into your world. It’s difficult to do for people you know! I had to overcome nerves and ego recently for a race practically in my own back yard.

Five months ago, a friend of a new acquaintance offered us a place to stay when we came to town for a half marathon we would be pacing. My pacing friend soon had physical restrictions that required her to cut back her race schedule, and I promptly forgot about contacting her friend to see if I could still stay at the house.  In the back of my head, I was thinking “I don’t need to worry about accommodations – I’ve already got that covered.” Time flies and four months later I’m getting emails from my pace director that it’s time to officially register for a race which is at the beach, during the height of beach season. The chances of getting a good price on a motel are slim to none.  I need to reach out to complete strangers, at the last minute and hope for a roof over my head.

Finally, asking wasn’t so bad.  The worst that could have happened is they could have said no and I would have had to stay (gasp) an hour away.  Instead, since I took the leap, I stayed with an amazing couple who have made racing their passion.  The amount of medals and race bibs and mementos and photographs of running friends and family was empowering.  I had a clean bed, a hot shower, great bedside reading material, and even a hot cup of coffee in the morning. I gained so much more than my worry and fear would have let me.

Please note that as I write this, I realize I am a 6’3″, 275lb man who is, perhaps, a little overconfident in the charm department and thinks he can handle himself physically.  This column is not not meant as advice but merely perspective.  If anything, maybe I am naive to think that people are inherently  good.  Some might also be inherently selfish and stupid, but essentially still good.  Someone offers me their home to lay my head, I am not thinking that I will be robbed or held at gun point – let’s face it, it’s clear that I don’t come from money.  I doubt that I will be trussed up and sold to an overseas sex trade operation.  If someone stole my car while I was sleeping, they probably won’t get far and would make more money if they stole the just the tires. I just choose to believe that there are many good people out there who are looking to share their lives in a tangible and present moment.  If you take a look at my schedule and see that you know someone who lives in one of the cities on my route (like Mobile, AL or Grand Island,MI), give me a shout. It’s getting time to make some new strangers into family.

A Lonely Marathon

 

A Lonely Marathon Route

13 Miles from Hallowell, ME to Richmond, ME and back.

Onward to the next phase of my training – running marathon distances without any kind of race support. Most of the marathons I will be running in 2016 will not be at the time of the official race. I cannot count on volunteers, I cannot count on water stations, I cannot count on an ambulance driving at 3 miles an hour behind me (Thank you Bay of Fundy Marathon.) I will not have the rush of adrenaline starting a race with 10,000 runners brings. I will not have sponsor tents with coconut water or granola or massages at the end of my race. I will just have the satisfaction of having completed a goal I set for myself.

Yesterday, I woke up and ran a marathon distance from my house down to Richmond, Maine and back. This was not a spontaneous event, but part of my over all training plan.  It has been two months since my last marathon and next I will narrow the rest gap down to one month (then 3 weeks, 2 weeks, and the one marathon a week.)  Not only did I do this on my own, but I also beat my best marathon time by over 10 minutes. As proud as I am to have completed a marathon all on my own, there are four main areas in which I need to improve.
1. Hydration
I have both a fuel belt and a Camelbak backpack. Unfortunately, due to my current size, neither one fits. The night before my race, I drove down and placed water bottles at regular intervals along my route. Not only will I not have the luxury of knowing where to hide water bottles on most of the courses I will run, but even in our small town I have people take my water bottles. I can console myself with thinking that these people need the water more than I. This doesn’t help me when I need a water bottle at Mile 21. Fortunately I had a good Samaritan pull up beside me and offer me a water bottle just as I was starting to panic. This is not the kind of poor planning that would be acceptable on a regular basis. Finding hydration equipment that fits me needs to be a priority this month.

2. Sweat Management
It was a cool morning and I was not running to beat the clock, however, 1 hour into my run I was drenched. I have always sweat a great amount. Any sort of exertion always created a sheen of effort across my brow, however the sheer quantity of sweat seems to have doubled in the past year. Even an easy 5k creates gallons of sweat saturating my clothes. My running clothes are billed as “wicking”, but I don’t see where the moisture is being released. I will start running at least one run during the mid day heat attempting to find solutions for this. Everything from salt tablets to new running clothes will be considered.

3. Pre-race Preparations
I need to find some pre-race food that will not make me nauseous. I have recently had some success with oatmeal, but I need something that is quick and easy to grab when I first wake up. Also since I won’t be running these routes on race days, I doubt there will be many porta potties at the beginning of my run. For this run I had the luxury of walking out my front door and taking off. Not every run will be so convenient. I need to make sure that I have an easy regiment in the morning that will prepare me for the race with a minimum inconvenience to any hosts with whom I am staying.

4. Post Race Recuperation
At the end of my run, there is nobody helping me across the finish line, there is no medical tent, no chilled bottle of water or fresh cut banana. I need to make sure that I have easy access to these things for myself. A cooler with ice and beverages, banana and peanut butter, ibuprofen and neosporin need to be readily at hand.

Failure and The Day After

 “Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing.” – Vince Lombardi

Looking at the date of my my last post hurts.  Physically causes sharp pains in my knees and my gut.  What started as mild discomfort and loss, translated to headaches and blurry eyes, anxiety driven panic attacks with hyperventilating and rapid heartbeats.  It’s like I had decided to test my mettle by putting my palm on a searing hot plate and then decided to do it again and again.  Each time I looked at the page it got worse, til I decided I shouldn’t even look at the page.  6 months ago my last post was ironically about excuses. So time goes very quickly by…

It started when I was having knee pains back in March.  Here I had set this magnificent goal of running the world only to be brought down low again by my body’s inability to quickly adapt.  There was a time when I was ultimately malleable,  I could easily bend mentally and physically whichever way the wind blew.  Instead, now it takes time for me to adjust and I beat the snot out of myself while I am maneuvering.  It took me a month to physically recover, but obviously a little longer for the mental game to catch up.

I finally let myself off of the ropes and started focusing on what was important.  Running.  Slow, strong, running.  Keeping to the pace I have set. Keeping to the distance goal I had in mind.  Putting my ego aside because my ego wasn’t getting me out the door, running was.  I stopped trying to lose weight because that was a fight I was losing.  Stopped pushing myself to cross train with weights or swimming because not getting those things done was sneaking in cheap shots to my bruised self image.  I needed to see myself as a winner, so I could get back into the habit of winning.  Essentially, I stopped trying to juggle all the skills for this self designed triathlon (Business Building, Body Building, and Running) and focused on the thing that made me feel like a winner – Running.

I have had some wins over the past couple of months. I have been consistently running with a few minor breaks, since the beginning of the year.  I started pacing with a great company, Beast Pacing, which has kept me motivated by getting to enter some unique races, meet some inspirational pacers, and run with some awesome runners who know how to take their time in a race and enjoy the view.  I have run two marathons this year so far. One marathon was a goal race, a challenging, hilly race with gorgeous views when the downpour and fog would allow.  The second marathon  I was a last minute pacer, helping one of my best friends overcome her mental trepidation with a recent injury.  I started by saying I would run 20 miles and instead ran the whole race.

I am someone who likes to accentuate the positive and focus on moving forward, but I realize that I have not been trusting enough of you, dear reader.  Of course I have bad days and bad weeks, but it is resistance that makes us stronger and I now understand that I have been cheating you by skimping on the struggles and doubling up on the dollops of sacchariney sweet fluff.  I will attempt to share the down days and the lessons I take away from them a little more. Failure is only an option until it isn’t, until the next day when you decide to get back on the horse and try again.  This my next day post. What we had here was a failure to communicate, but this post is my verbal olive branch.  Thank you for joining me.

Excuses, Excuses…

“Nobody believes your excuses but you.” -quote unattributed

Let’s start off by loosely defining an excuse as a way of mitigating responsibility or blame versus a reason which clearly explains a fact. To be be grossly over simplistic, consider this example. Excuse: I couldn’t run because I had a cold. Reason: I have no legs, I cannot “run”.  In the excuse, I could have run, but I do not mention that I made the choice not to run. I defer the responsibility to the cold. For those who feel the man with no legs is just making an excuse, that he could run on his hands, the quotation marks around the word run are just for you.

Somewhere I have a list of excuses.  I sat down one day and wrote them all out. I don’t have the time.  I’m not fit enough.  It’s snowing. I had a solid list of a hundred different excuses and there were many variants – It’s snowing could expand to 6 or 7 different types of precipitation.  I then took my list and crossed off any excuse I had already used before.  My logic for this was simple, any excuse I had previously encountered, I should now be able to figure out a way to get it done.  If snow was a problem, I would just get a gym membership and run inside or do some research into snow cleats. I then started going through and crossing off the excuses that I knew had not stopped friends.  I am too old to start running got crossed of since I know many late in life runners. Physical maladies got crossed off the list. Unexplored limitations got crossed off the list – how do I know that beyond Portugal is the end of the world if I have never sailed beyond the sunset? I have never run a marathon before axed.

Of the 10 or 15 excuses that were left free from the magic marker most were either silly or sad.  The sad ones were quite often morbid (car accident, death in the family) and the silly ones were just taking up space on the page (alien invasion, rabid chipmunks on the loose.)  There were one or two valid reasons.  It took me too long to recognize Cannot run due to injury as a valid reason. Time used to spend with loved ones is still on the list and even more important with losses in the past couple of years. Running doesn’t pay the bills is still on that list, but maybe someday it will get crossed off.

What are your excuses and what are your reasons?  Maybe you should sit down this week and write them all out, get them off your chest, and air your dirty laundry. Figure out which are the just excuses and which are valid reasons.  Make the choice and own it.  I’ll leave you with a stupid little joke from my door to door sales days.

I was selling prepriced natural gas door to door.  This was in Canada and the rumor of all Canadians being nice is greatly exaggerated, especially when they think you are trespassing.  I finally came across a smiling house wife who seemed very interested, but halfway through my spiel, she turned and said “I’ve got to go, there are two chipmunks screwing on my dining room table.”

Intrigued, I held the door and said, “There are two chipmunks screwing on your dining room table?!?”

She said, “Oh dear, I overshot my mark.  There aren’t any chipmunks inside.”

“Why would you say that?”

“Well, I figured I wasn’t going to buy from you so any excuse would do.”

Accountability

Still focused on food intake and consistency, I lost another two pounds this week, weighing in at 271 lbs.  I did have a day of hot and passionate cookie love but was able to keep this from becoming a daily ritual.  I chose to run only 3 times this week.  My 11 miler on Saturday had been planned to be 12 but I chose poorly at dinner the night before, didn’t get up early enough to make oatmeal, and didn’t bring a water bottle or energy replacement.  Towards the end of the run I was suffering from some shin and knee pain so slowed down and then chose to stop and take a couple days off.  I still logged 21 miles last week though.  Swam as cross training and didn’t get to do the simple weight training exercises, my own fault and poor planning. Lots of stretching and reread some of my training books to reaffirm why I was having some physical problems and recommitted to following my training and my rest and recovery plan.

The Singing Treadmill Guy

If you work out at the Kennebec Valley YMCA and you hear sporadic broken choruses of “Domino” by Van Morrison or “Dance to the Music” by Sly and the Family Stone, I was probably running on the treadmill at the time. This was probably proceeded or followed by whooping, clapping, wheezing, and/or  the occasional rebel yell. When I am in pain or feel like I’m not going to make it, guttural grunts of “C’mon”, “Let’s Go”, or (when things are really bad) a high pitched, desperate and whiney  “Seriously” will escape.  I am, without a doubt, the loudest and most vocal person at the Y.  Those of you who know me are asking how this is different from any other scenario I place myself.

A friend of a friend before we were friends would hear me at the Gym and post about it on her Facebook page.  I remember seeing a comment on Facebook through the newsfeed about the Singing Treadmill Guy and I thought, that’s so cool, I want to run with that guy! Turns out it was me.  That lovely lady is now one of my running buddies. Not everybody is so keen to run with the singing treadmill guy.  I have been yelled at from the far side of the gym, people have moved treadmills, and recently in a race I was heckled for a good couple of miles.  On the flip side, I have have had a number of people come up to me after races and thank me for keeping them motivated. I just do my thing. What I am surprised about is how nobody else is so verbal.

Occasionally I will see people chatting on the recumbent bikes or if they are walking on the treadmill, otherwise it’s as silent as a mausoleum. I don’t expect to hear people singing, but I am surprised that people keep their motivation to themselves.  Being in the gym, we have entered the arena, even if it is only against ourselves.  I am used to the best of coaches yelling at their players, mostly yelling positive encouragement. What about the fans?  I love running races where they print my name on the running bib so that random people along the route will cheer you on when least expected. I am surprised not to hear more work out partners pumping up their friends. I know you are thinking, how can I hear them if I have my earphones on or over the sound of my own mellifluous voice?  Well, I do try to unplug at least once a week and the silence is oppressive.

Singing helps me in a number of ways.  When I’m running alone, it helps me to remember to breathe.  Most of my training guides say that I should be running at a pace where I can still talk and singing reminds me to check that.  I am rarely running so slow that I can get out a whole verse. When I am running with others, singing is entertainment and fuel for the conversational fires; were we in school when that song came out, was it our first concert, did that song play at our wedding? I will use parts of a song like a martial artist will use “Hai” to chop a wood block in half, as a conduit for energy and focus. When I am tired and can’t remember the words to a mantra, base lines will become my mantra. “BaDump bumbumbumbum Bah Da Da” from ZZ Top’s La Grange is incredibly helpful for keeping me on pace. Most importantly, singing makes me happy.  Running makes me happy.  Happy breeds happy.  Sometimes on the trail, I’m not so happy, so out comes a song.

Give it a try the next time you run. Let out a little ditty or musical doggerel.  Give yourself a whoop or a very verbal pat on the ass. I hope to hear you all singing on the railtrail come spring.

Accountability

I am still focused on losing 1 1/2 lbs a week, but I am ecstatic to announce  I lost 4 lbs this week.  I am currently 273 – 12 lbs in 6 weeks!  For this I thank the added miles and running 5 days instead of 4.  I was very consistent with my eating and that really helps too. I have been swimming each day I run and got some coaching my last time in the pool so that made things more difficult and challenging.  Worked out with weights on the circuit twice and stretched every day.  I will pick a 15-20 minute workout this week and will add it into my regiment.