Friday, October 31, 2008

Live from Kingston

On the plane to New York last night, there were several people obviously traveling to do the New York City Marathon (either talking really loudly about it or wearing subtle shirts from previous marathons). When I didn't get in through the lottery this year I convinced myself that I didn't care, that I have already done the race twice and had painful if memorable experiences. But listening to them talk and seeing all the traffic signs warning of delays and road closures on Sunday for the race has me bitter and envious. I am going to have to pound the treadmill on Saturday and Sunday to try and deal with my angst.

I hit the scales at 178 pounds this morning which is around what I have been for the last year, a result of taking creatine for the last 20 months. Without creatine, I am around 170 pounds when I run 30-35 miles a week and lift three times a week . And a little bit faster. And a little weaker.

Given that I am trying to do well in marathons and triathlons, this extra weight is not doing me any good other than helping my sensitive ego. The creatine addiction all stems from seeing a photo from a half marathon in February 2006 in which I looked emaciated and old. I started on creatine in the hopes of gaining 5-10 pounds and filling some of the gaunt lines on my face. Presto it worked. I have considered going off the powder but visions of getting weaker dance in my mind so I stay on it.

Sam is 12 and has just about hit the stage where he doesn't want to hang out with his dad on weekends. I am OK with that; it's awesome that he has lots of friends who love spending time with him. But that leaves me sitting in the Kingston Holiday Inn (the Velodome section to be sure) waiting to pick him up from his night on the town. I should use this time to write a novel or pick a cause to support. Or watch a boring Celtics-Bulls game.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

6 Weeks Out

Six weeks out from the marathon and I am feeling pretty good about where I am.

Other than feeling like I look like a methadone addict thanks to Dave, I survived today's 18 mile run relatively injury free and did it at around 7.52/mile pace . The last four miles I was fighting cramps in my calves (which is akin to the feeling amputee victims feel when they have an itch on the limb that was removed, given that I have no calves) and hamstrings, particularly on the downhills. The bright side is I was looking forward to uphills at the end as it stretched out my legs. Now if I could just use that approach to make me like eating vegetables instead of french fries. Maybe a Clockwork Orange brainwashing would work.

In the last month, I have done 12, 14, 16.3 and 18.2 mile runs and have thus far avoided (knock on wood, spit on index finger) the usual quad injury and bad cold. A couple more 16-19 mile runs and I should be ready for sub 3.30 although I am still curious as to what the affect of my creatine-enduced weight increase from 170 in December 2006 to 177-180 will have on my time and experience. A 5% increase, even if it is from an emaciated base, has to do something.

While training for my last marathon, New York 2007, I was not particularly inspired or motivated. I had caught my Moby Dick the year before, breaking 3.30, and I had already done New York in 2006. I was excited to do the race with my Dad but getting accepted to the race and avoiding a crippling injury while training had been all I needed to do that. I trained almost enough to do well but didn't have that spark to go beyond 16 miles. And it showed when I crawled home the last 4 miles. This year, despite or maybe because I am going through some emotional, relationship-type issues, I have been super inspired to train for this race because it does matter to me. It is probably not super healthy to bury my emotional issues, many of which I create, in a long run or heavy bench press, but I do it. Endurance sports are part of me that can't be taken away. It's my religion.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Crossfit endurance

According to Dave, my organizational guru and a budding disciple of the Crossfit religion, endurance sports produce oxidative stress, which can have an incredibly bad impact on the body. This is causing me some concern as I plan my 18 mile run tomorrow in preparation for the December 7 marathon.

Scientifically stated, oxidative stress is caused by an imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen and a biological system's ability to readily detoxify the reactive intermediates or easily repair the resulting damage. The main thrust; 50-year old marathoners and Ironpeople look very old and wasted (or meth addicts according to this video) because they have spent 20+ years poisoning themselves with reactive oxygen and can't repair the resulting damage.

The solution according to some is a Crossfit approach to exercise. Rather than going long and slow for 1+ hours or more, Crossfit is quick, explosive and hard workouts such as doing 100 pullups, 100 pushups and 100 situps as fast as you can. There are even workouts tailored just for endurance athletes. I haven't read everything yet to be informed but I think the claim is on no more than 60 minute training runs, a Crossfit God completed a 50 mile run by focusing on the explosive workouts.

I consider myself somewhere in the middle between Crossfit and 100 mile/week running fanatics since I alternate lifting one day and running the next. However, Dave and other Crossfitters claim a focused Crossfit program is way beyond normal workouts. After I finish the marathon, it might be time for me to end the 25 year exercise rut.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Stop Coasting

I don't want to be a coaster. On paper, I don't look like one. I have a good job, I work out every day, I am a responsible father but I don't push myself. For example, my goal with exercise was to get to a point where I could do a respectable workout without killing myself. I lift generally the same amount of weight that I did 10 years ago and run the same eight mile route at the same pace. This isn't disgraceful but it certainly isn't something I want on my tombstone.

I need to get out of my comfort zone, in endurance sports, work and relationships. I am generally a happy person but there could be more if I pushed myself. If I ask myself what have I done recently that am I really proud, answers don't come flying off the page.

So I need to set goals, big ones. I'll start with endurance sports which seems like the easiest list to craft. By the end of 2009 I want to:

  1. Sign up and do the Death Ride, a 100+ mile bike ride in Tahoe
  2. Be more flexible - stretch twice a day - come within the same area code as my toes
  3. Get sponsored by someone
  4. Run three marathons AND qualify for Boston in 2010 - this means sub 3.20
  5. Sign up for a 2010 Ironman where I will break 12 hours
  6. Join Masters swim program and stop drowning
It starts today.