On the Fireball 5k and Taking Sunday Off Because I’ve Earned It

It’s late Sunday morning. I’m still in my jams. Usually by this time I have gone out for a LSD run, had a shower, started laundry, maybe even have read a little. But today all I’ve accomplished is sleeping past 9:00, cooked bacon and egg sliders for breakfast and have had two cups of coffee. No LSD run this week and while that kind-of bums me out, I certainly feel as though I’ve earned this day off.

Despite the rain we’ve gotten every day this week – especially in the morning, I was able to get in three runs this week. The first two (4 miles on Tuesday, 2 miles on Wednesday) were great for getting my mind off of stuff. I’ve finally hit that point where I use running to de-stress and to think. I never thought I’d get there but here I am, a year after starting, and I say “I need to go run” when I’m feeling tense or agitated. Go figure.

While those two runs were, indeed, therapeutic, they also filled me with false hope. For the Pilot Fireball Moonlite Classic 5k was this week routing through the UT campus in beautiful downtown Knoxville and I was ready to rock it and earn a new PR for 5k. My PR up until this point was the 33:10 at the Zen Evo Chocolate Lovers Valentine 5k back in February and I hit the 5k mark in just over 31 minutes during my 4-mile run on Tuesday. On Wednesday, though I only ran two miles, I was averaging just over a 10-minute mile. All signs were pointing to a strong improvement over my previous PR, all thanks, presumably, to my 10k training. My goal was set at finishing Friday night in less than 32 minutes.

So when we showed up at campus on Friday evening (the race started at 9pm) I was juiced. I had been to the gym that morning, a regular power-hour at Title Boxing Club, but had since gotten in a nap, had taken it easy most of the day, and had eaten light but plenty in the form of baked chicken, fruit, and bread. I also had a shot of my amino supplement during the car ride downtown. I was ready. When it was time to line up at the start I was jumping around, ready to come out of my skin. They counted down, we started and…uphill we went.

According to Runtastic the first mile of the course was all uphill, 95ft increase as a matter of fact, no decrease. Wasn’t a huge deal, though, as I did this in 10:26, well on my way to that PR goal I had set for myself. Mile two also increased elevation by 19ft but decreased by 137ft, hence why this was my fast mile, finishing it in 10:08. A sub 32-minute PR was mine for the taking, I knew it, so I pushed hard during the last lap, another elevation increase of 29ft, a mere 3ft decrease. Or at least I thought I was pushing hard. Runtastic shows a turtle by that lap indicating it was my slowest. It would be 10:57 before the voice indicated I had hit the 3 mile mark. At this point I was already past the 31 minute mark, nearing 32 minutes and still had a tenth of a mile left. This is when I did something really stupid.

This was my sixth race in my running career. Nowhere near the number of races as my more seasoned running peers but enough to know that the clock at the finish line indicates the time from the starting gun, the race overall, where I’m only concerned with my chip time. When I had the Finish line in my sights I saw the clock read 33 minutes and change and I was hit with such a huge blow of disappointment it nearly took all the air out of my lungs. I didn’t make the sub-32 minute mark like I had planned – I had failed. I ran through the finish but basically at a steady trot. I shouted “SHIT!” as I crossed the line and realized I had, at long last, become one of those people that curse at their time when they finish.

I was heartbroken, I was tired, I was angry, and I was dripping sweat thanks to the 90%+ humidity. For real, the back of my shirt was dripping sweat onto my calves – I thought someone was dripping water off of their iced rally towel the race had graciously provided to finishers. I waited for my friends to finish, drank some water, had some Powerade, helped myself to some snacks after the race and sat on a wall slowly eating some Rita’s Italian Ice. I didn’t enjoy any of it. I let Erin finish my Rita’s and left the majority of my snacks in my pocket. My final time was 33:05.

And it wasn’t until I sat down to write this blog that I realized that was, actually, still a PR by a whole 5 seconds. Not much but it counts and it’s now the number to beat. I was feeling pathetic and down on myself and just like a child I included a “failure” message with my time on Facebook. My bro Alli’s Aunt B commented that finishing isn’t a failure and she’s right. I didn’t hit sub-32 like I was hoping for but I finished another 5k – my 6th one this year. Last year I was fat, out of shape and was diagnosed with type-2 diabetes. Back then I was lucky to run a quarter mile. Finishing another 5k is, indeed, not a failure. Having goals are important and competing with yourself is healthy but it’s also important and healthy to remember the road you’ve been on and accept that some runs are better than others.

I’ve also learned that if your wife is near the finish line yelling at you to keep pushing it’s best to listen to her and not half-ass across the finish because that may help you get at least sub-33 minutes. Today I’ll just accept 33:05 for better or for worse.

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I intended to take Saturday off and then long run today but it wasn’t meant to be. I’ve been meaning to cut this tree down on the side of my house for a few weeks now and even opted to buy an ax instead of a chainsaw reasoning that I wanted the exercise an ax would provide over a chainsaw. While I can’t honestly say I regret that decision, I’ll just say that I’m sitting here with sore forearms, hands, shoulders, and back. My legs and feet were sore from the race but they quickly shut up once the rest of my body began shouting about how bad they were feeling. I spent the rest of the day doing laundry, making pizzas that I can’t talk about because they’re a secret, and drinking Bud Heavy because it was America day. Odin bless it.

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I’ll end with a once-more updated table of distance stats as we approach the one year running and 300 miles mark. For my own reference I’ve also included my race times for this year. 21 runs remain!

Time Period Total Distance
Couch-to-5k (8/14-10/14) 64.59 Miles
Runtastic Runs (10/14-4/15) 115.04 Miles
5k-to-10k to-date (4/15-6/21) 87.52 Miles
Runtastic Runs (6/23-present) 19.67 Miles

Total Miles Ran To-Date: 286.82 Miles

Miles Left Until 300: 13.18

Number of Miles Per Run to Reach Yearly Goal*: 0.63

This is assuming I run three days per week every week until the week of 8/14/2015

Race Times

Race Time
Knoxville Hot to Trot 5k 2014 35:08
Calhoun’s New Year’s Day 5k 2015 No official time
Zen Evo Chocolate Lover’s Valentine’s 5K 2015 33:10
Barley’s St. Patrick’s Day 5k 2015 34:34
Covenant Health 5k 2015 33:39
Pilot Fireball Moonlite Classic 5k 33:05

On Distance PRs and 30 Day Challenges

The first week of June is in the house! It’s a big week, what with my one year follow-up doctor’s appointment happening on Thursday morning and my tattoo shop 2 Ton Gallery‘s annual Ballyhoo event taking place this year in the form of daily giveaways for the entire week. I’m excited to get my blood work results probably next week and even more excited to finally finish up this 5k-to-10k thing. More on that….now:

Sunday was huge for me. I “slept in” until about 8:15 and a short while later had my running shoes strapped on and was clad in a new tank Erin bought me and was heading out for my Sunday morning long run. I typically pound the pavement at Carl Cowen park, literally seconds from my house, but Sunday was likely going to be my longest run yet so I opted to park at a nearby elementary school whose sidewalk conveniently connects to a sidewalk that runs along a fairly busy highway. I’ve found that no matter how I vary my course at Carl Cowan, the scenery is still pretty limited and I get bored. When I get bored I start thinking about things I shouldn’t think about – mostly how tired I am. I was hopeful my new location would remedy this.

I stepped out, felt the sun on my face, a bit of cool breeze on my arms and hit it. First, a quick warm-up walk around the school’s short track, a small tour around the playground and then back to my car where the sidewalk began. “Run” said the voice on my phone so run I did. I ran at a comfortable pace, uphill and downhill, breathing just right, feeling great, though sweating hard running in the beating sunlight. Knowing I wouldn’t have to keep an eye on time (sometimes my app doesn’t alert me when I need to switch during intervals) I kept my phone in my pocket in an attempt to resist looking to see how much time I had left. I promised myself a sneak peek at it, though, once I reached the bridge – a landmark quite a ways down the road I felt was a reasonable distance.

When I got to the bridge I turned around and started my trek back but not before reaching into my pocket to check my phone out. Time? Not even half way. Distance? Almost, but not quite 2 miles. I was confident I had gone at least 2.5. Suddenly I started to get tired. I was able to avoid checking my phone again until I got back to the school, assuming I was close to 4 miles at that point, which I was, but my ultimate goal was 5 miles. I hadn’t quite reached 4 just yet and time was ticking. The heat was now sweltering (seemingly) and my legs were tired. I ached hard and I slowed down to a walk as I headed toward the other direction on the highway.

And that was embarrassing. I was supposed to hit 5 miles during this run and now I was walking. I was confident I was supposed to hit 5 miles two weeks ago and missed the mark thanks to a shoddy run. Now I was doing it again. I picked up the pace as best I could and made a few short laps up and down the sidewalk in front of the school until time ran out. I made my cool down walk back to the car and when the workout was complete I had merely reached 4.83 miles.

I went from embarrassed to pissed. I wasn’t about to quit when I was that close so I started a “free run” and monitored my phone closely as I began a lap around the school. Goal distance: 0.17 miles. I ran 0.085 one way and then turned around to come back, landing right at 0.17 at my car – it only took an extra minute or two but I had done it – 5 miles total on Sunday – a new distance PR. I had completed week 6 of 5k-to-10k.

Next week’s long run will likely take me only another quarter mile past 5 and the week after that another quarter. I’ll still be about a half mile short of 10k when the program completes but I’ll be so close it would be stupid to end it there. After the program’s 9 weeks are complete I intend to hit the 10k goal at least every other week during the long-run, time and pace be damned, until I’m able to do it. It can be done and I will do it.


In other things I will do: The folks over at Eat This, Not That along with Degree and the folks at Galvanized have developed and released a 30-day fitness app 30 Day Fit Moves Challenge. I only saw Eat This, Not That Tweet about it over the weekend and thought it seemed pretty fun to do. Where this is unique is that while it’s a 30 day challenge it doesn’t appear to have any real fierce demands on the working person. In fact, the intent of the app is to give you a single exercise to do every day for 30 days that takes less than 5 minutes to complete. That’s it. 5 minutes per day. While that isn’t going to help much for someone like myself that already has a pretty grueling 60 minutes per day, 7 days per week exercise schedule, it will help someone I know.

Erin is close to finishing her Masters program (yay!) and one of her goals after completion is getting fit. I respect her for admitting that fitness isn’t a priority now (I have a fierce pet peeve that involves folks pretending fitness is a priority when their actions prove otherwise) and I admire her for the tremendous amount of work she’s been able to complete in her studies up until this point. She has the ability to stick with something and I’m going to help her shift that focus onto her physical well-being later this year. To get her warmed up, though, I’ve started getting her out to the park on Saturdays for 45 minutes of basketball followed by a short 15 minute walk (soon to be bumped up – Erin, if you’re reading this, please be aware and I love you).

She’s agreed to do this 30 Day Challenge with me and to be honest, that was my ultimate goal – this challenge isn’t for me as much as it is for her. Yes, the workouts are really too brief to make much of an impact, but I think the focus is actually setting a routine – forcing yourself to realize you do have time in the day, albeit a small amount, to work on your physical well-being. And assuming we complete the 30 day challenge (we will) then what? Another 30 days? Why not? You get the picture…