26 of 52: Midway

Jimmy is Fast

More to the point – Jimmy is faster than me. A lot faster. But he ran with me this day anyways. Kind of fitting when I think about it. He was with me on the first run after the Downs Park 5 mile run. I imagine he’ll be at the last one also if I ask with enough lead time. (Is *now* too early?)

Even though Jimmy is much faster than I am he ran with me for this 13.1 miles and at a pace that did not hurt me. Fortunately he did most of the talking while I interjected a “mhmm” and a “right?” every now and again.

We have a bit in common and I picked his brain about his professional story (which I can never seem to remember) and when it comes to Jimmy in work and in life (to include running) he says “I’m just a simple guy.” And he is. I mean this in the best possible way. He is full of gratitude, appreciates what is and does not sweat the small stuff. It was nice to get to know him better over the 13.1 miles on this run.

I figure since this is the halfway point it would be OK to look back for a sec on all the other runs.

  1. 2:03:41
  2. 6:22:58 (50k PR!)
  3. 1:59:40
  4. 2:04:54
  5. 2:11:19
  6. 2:09:28
  7. 2:10:53
  8. 2:01:04
  9. 2:12:45
  10. 2:06:19
  11. 2:08:22
  12. 2:14:19
  13. 2:35:52 (15.9 miles)
  14. 2:17:00
  15. 2:07:30
  16. 2:08:11
  17. 2:08:33
  18. 2:21:24
  19. 2:44:35 (pacer)
  20. 2:00:46
  21. 2:18:33
  22. 1:53:46 (PR!)
  23. 2:21:54
  24. 2:38:16
  25. 2:18:05
  26. 2:12:38

If I take out the outliers and odd/longer distances these runs have a range of almost 40 minutes! Also – on the whole I am slowing down a bit. I don’t know for sure but I think it may be because I hardly do anything other than these 13.1 mile runs anymore!

I would like to get back to working out multiple times a day a couple times a week and then once a day a couple times a week. I can’t tell if I felt like I had more purpose because I worked out more or if working out more was my purpose. Does it matter? I liked it and I miss it.

Oh – look at me slipping into “not the run” before I even write about the run…

The Run

We started at Jimmy’s place. I’m starting to form this “rule” that if I ask someone to run with me I should go to them. Seems only right. Jimmy had a sketch of a plan for the run for which I am also grateful – not only for the fresh course but also for not having to sort it out ahead of time.

We made our way over to the stadium and crossed over into West Annapolis. These were all familiar roads – but then Jimmy’s plan had us turn left onto Ridgely Road – a road I had only ever driven on. Two thumbs up for the new scenery as we ran across Weems Creek. We continued on up over Rt 50 and then made our way around to Rowe to run back into downtown Annapolis (DTA).

All routes lead back to DTA – but sometimes you run over the Naval Academy bridge for good measure – which we did.

We passed straight through DTA and crossed back over into Eastport, running the perimeter before heading back up the road to his place. The miles flew by on this one no doubt because of the conversation.

Not the Run

Over the past 15 years or so I have been coming back to this idea of simplicity over and over.

First it was in my work – code to be specific. I stumbled onto the idea of “elegance” in code while looking for ways to get better at it. At first I though this was all about how to get the job done with the fewest lines of code – but as it turns out, elegance in code is also about how thoughtful you are about how your solution might function beyond its current need. Will it be able to grow and change without compromising its core function? Can it do that and yet remain simple enough for others to understand?

This idea spread to other areas of my life I think probably in an attempt to establish a sense of order in what was still new world for me – sobriety. I suppose that every aspect of me had become cluttered in some way and now it was time to clean house.

Can I be elegant as a person? Can I adapt to my changing circumstances and remain simple? It may just be that being simple is the best way to adapt to change. That by appreciating the honest truth of “what is” – rather than trying to change “what is” into “what I expected…” is the quickest way to being happy…

…and maybe running faster – like Jimmy.

Next Week: Cherry Pit 10 Miler

25 of 52: Easter Run Club – Half Marathon Edition

Traditions Are Important

Traditions have a way of marking time, cementing the idea of an era or the idea that something is important. They give us something to remember, or to pass on so that others can be remembered. They are a way of letting people come together to celebrate one another and to demonstrate our commitment to one another or an event or place.

It sounds heavy but the tradition itself doesn’t need to be. It could be as simple as touching the head of Testudo before a football game or – making it more of a ritual. You might also make it complicated and secretive giving it more of a ceremonial feel.

You may wonder why I’m rambling on about this so I will tell you. I’m trying to figure out why this annual event is important to me. Maybe it’s just cus I enjoy it and the people I share it with – maybe its more than that. Heck, I honestly can’t remember when it started! I guess it really doesn’t matter as long as I can keep doing it for as long as I can. What I DO remember is that Coach Susan started it and I’m so very glad that she did.

What the heck am I talking about? Easter Run Club.

Every year on Easter Sunday a few of us (rarely the same group) get together and run a few miles (or more) and then afterward (and this is key) sometimes we split a pastry and enjoy a caffeinated beverage from a SECRET place that I can’t tell you the name of. (But I can tell you that it rhymes with “Marbucks”).

I know – “how is this different from any other run?” I’ll tell you. It is not because we run with easter baskets picking up hidden eggs (because we don’t). It’s also not because we put on purple gowns and light candles and chant in Latin while we run – because we also don’t do those things either.

Running with fire is dangerous.

I guess it’s different because it happens the same day every year and while “run club” or running together with friends could happen any time – Easter Run Club is one that almost always does happen. Back to the idea of tradition – you make an extra effort to make it happen because there’s something there that you’re trying to honor – and I like to think that something is each other.

The Run

Easter Run club started from DTA at the leisurely hour of 9:37 this year. Lara was marathon training – so she showed up with some miles already run – 6 ish I think and another 7 or 8 to go. (I need to start either writing these sooner or taking notes!) Susan and Gloria were *not* marathon training. SO that left me running 13.1. We were going to have to get creative about how to make that happen and all finish somewhat at the same place at the same time.

Me n’ Susan and Lara and Gloria with the Naval Academy Bridge in the background. Photo Credit goes to a nice yet anonymous Mid just trying to live their life.

It basically turned out to be a lot of little out and back’s to add extra mileage and then taking the long way back from the Naval Academy bridge and a couple of trips over into Eastport at the end to really tack on some extra miles. The cool part for me was that by the time I finished, the coffee was already in hand and mine had had plenty of time to cool off to a drinkable temperature.

Why is your coffee so hot Marbucks? Why???

Not the Run

I can’t remember much else about the run specifically, but I can tell you this – at the end of the run – where there was coffee and conversation there was also (for me) the sense of history from having done this for going on 8 or so years now – and makes me feel good thinking back on it as I write this.

My parents and family made sure to celebrate our traditions and one very important thing I learned growing up is that you can make your own traditions and you can even make old traditions new by adding your own twist. What’s important is that you celebrate the people, places and events that having meaning to you and your life.

Easter Run Club is not a grand tradition steeped in ceremony nor is it a small personal ritual – and like so many traditions this is one just because we keep doing it – but I like it and I’ll keep doing it for as long as I can.

Next Week: Midway

24 of 52: That Time I Ran on the Freeway

I Don’t Recommend It

I was not supposed to be running on the freeway, but I was tirrred and the sugar in the gatorade I drank was having a crazy impact on my ability to make decisions.

Me: Oh crap. I missed my turn. When did that happen?

Sugar Rush Me: What? I can’t feel my face.

Me: Damn. I have a conference call in 30 minutes. I don’t have time to backtrack.

Gatorface Me: I should have bought the sugar free Gatorade.

Also Me: I guess we’ll just run up this exit ramp…

I’m getting a little ahead of myself here. This happened on April 14th and I’m writing this on June 12th so a little rewind might be in order…

The Run

Two weeks prior I set a personal best at the B&A half. One week prior I ran alone in Columbia and got lost. THIS particular week I planned on running a new route just to shake things up a little. I didn’t want to run alone really but as it turns out I need to work on making plans in advance so – there I was.

It started just fine with a familiar 5 miles to start but then I decided to make my way towards Downtown Annapolis ‘the back way’ (around the mall) instead of my usual route down West Street.

Not a super scenic run but I had never done it so that had some value in and of itself. About 7.5 miles in I ran out of water so I decided to stop at Wawa for some Gatorade. I got two small ones – fully loaded. All. Of. The. Sugar.

Flavor: Greenish.

I have been drinking the same hydration mix (Beachbody Hydrate) for the past two years almost. It agrees with me, low in sugar and does a good job keeping me functional. It’s not that I didn’t think that chugging a bottle of Gatorade was a good idea – I simply didn’t think about it at all. It was so cold and there was something about it that just wouldn’t let me put it down. I nearly gave myself brain freeze.

Anywho – one bottle in me. One bottle in my running bottle. Off I went.

By the time I made my way to the the Navy Memorial Stadium I knew I needed to start making my way home. “I’ll just run by Dan’s place and see what he’s up to.” I ran up the driveway just as the fam was pulling out.

They were headed across the street to check out a basketball setup to put in their driveway. I decided to follow them over and check it out. As it turned out they decided to take it home – so I offered to help Dan carry it back while Katie Q drove the boys home. This whole episode took about 12 minutes. It was nice to catch up but I had a conference call to make and about 3 miles left to run.

And this is kinda where the GatorSugar kicked in and started messing with my head. Or maybe it was because I took a 12 minuted break from running to carry a basketball hoop back to Dan’s place. I’ll probably never know cus I checked all the stats on Garmin and that info is NOwhere to be found.

I should have run back to Riva road and then back the way I came, but I knew that would be a mile and change too far so I figured I would make and early left onto Chinquapin Round Road and cut through a side street or two to make my way back. By the time I hit 665 it was too late.

Me: Oh crap. I missed my turn. When did that happen?

You know the rest. Well some of it. 665 isn’t really a freeway as much as it is the quiet death of one. The part where 50 peels off onto an expressway/exit that eventually peters out into a two lane thoroughfare with some traffic lights. Well I was at the first light and I had to make my way back… upstream.

“I’ll just run on the shoulder. Oh – look. There’s no shoulder. I’ll just run on this tiny strip of “grass” nestled between these cars and that really tall sound barrier. At the least the ground is super uneven and covered with unfamiliar foliage…”

High stepping to avoid tripping in the foliage was not super easy 12 miles into the run and it got old in a hurry. I started walking when cars came by and running when there was a break thanks to the red light I was running away from. There was about 90 seconds of good running between light cycles so it worked out okay. On one of the walking breaks I happened to realize that I could cross over and run against traffic.

Running against traffic is the norm for road running. When you are on surface streets. It’s scary as crap on a freeway-type road like this one. It wasn’t long before I made my way up the on ramp and found myself basically right across the (6 lane) street from my apartment. No – there’s no crosswalk there.

I made my way across and directly into the building, into the shower, and made it to my call right on time. I don’t think I was 100% lucid for the call but well – at least I made it back alive. 13.26 miles.

Not The Run

It’s weird writing about this so long after it happened. It’s been almost two months but I guess that’s still recent enough for the important stuff to stick with me. Not bad for a guy that can’t always remember why he walked from one room to another.

Yes – I know that’s not how memory works and yeah, I heard about the doorway effect, but this is my blog and I write for rhythm sometimes – not so much for rhyme.

Work has been forcing itself back into my work life balance after having been neglected for too long so while it’s been great for me on a number of levels I’ve had to scale back on the writing – from moderately slacking to “not at all.” I’m sure Garmin has a stat for that but dang – I can’t find it in my run data either.

Next Week: Easter Run Club – Half Marathon Edition

23 of 52: Lost in Columbia

The Plan was Simple

Run to Centennial Park, around the lake and back home. It’s just a shame that I had no clue where I was going. Coming of last weeks PR I wanted more of the “exploring” slow kind of run. I was alone and did not care in the least how much or often I walked.

A good thing too – I had no idea how far off the mark I would be.

The Run

You see those two little red lines at the top bouncing off of rt 29? Yeah – that’s me thinking that Centennial park was just on the other side. Al I had to do was find a way across, right? Nope – I was a full major thoroughfare away from where I thought I was. Explore I wanted – Explore I got.

The first few miles of the run were actually kind of hilly – more than I wanted. I didn’t work out AT ALL the week prior and I was just feeling slow all over.

I had a good sense of what direction I wanted to go but dang if I just had no clue about what would be in my way – like this on ramp. Off ramp? I’ll just call it NOPE. There was zero shoulder and a ton of traffic so I turned around.

About the 6.5 mile mark I ran into a nice lady out walking and asked if she knew the way to the park. Based on her reaction and the directions I got I knew I should just pack it in and head home. I was halfway. I’d have to make up some distance at the end because I was just not in the mood to retrace my mis steps and all those hills. I took the direct route back to more familiar territory.

Not The Run

I am cramming. I am cramming at work. I am cramming on these posts. I am cramming on training for an Olympic distance triathlon I have in about 4 weeks. I don’t like it much.

The work I don’t mind so much – I’ve been missing some spark in that area for some time so it’s nice to be reminded that I have skills – but this other stuff. It’s supposed to be fun – not a grind. SO what can I do?

I figure I can either let off the gas, lower my expectations for myself OR I could try to engage with the work in front of me. To do as much as I possibly can. Take the grind out of it and try to make it a challenge. I’m a little tired of being so-so.

Next Week: A loop, a hoop and a bad decision I will not make a gain.