Saturday, February 15, 2014

Running Three Times Around the World

“Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago.”
― Bernard Berenson

Are my running numbers that important? I guess they are because I always download my data from every training run I do. I can take the information that's somehow stored in that computer thing strapped around my wrist (Nike+ Sportswatch) and even though I have to export that info to other sites to see everything (because the Nike site really, really sucks), I enjoy looking at what I've done on the road and trail. Do I ever use this information to help me run better? Not really. Do I say, "man, I was tired in December. Let me look at the log and see if I ran more than the experts say I should."? Nope, never do that. But, I am a big fan of looking at totals and then move on. I know that most people are happy to estimate the distances they run, but I need to know exactly what I've accomplished. I mean, I have to measure every course, every run, even if I have run that same course a thousand times. How will I know if that 4.1 mile course is STILL 4.1 miles? And for some reason, I'm an elevation freak and think running vertical does more for building endurance strength than just about anything. Anyway, I look at that.

I can look at last year and see that I ran 1353 miles, which is less than half of my total in my heyday (haha, my heyday). My pace is faster than a turtle trapped in a tar pit, but it's a ton slower than the good old days. Of course, I'm doing a lot more hilly trails the past couple of years and that has slowed me down (yeah, that's it...the trails...the hills). I can look back and see I averaged close to 4 days a week, again less than the 6 I used to do. But, I've found that if I want to keep up a fair resemblance of what I consider running, I better show up a reasonable number of times per week regardless of the present circumstances. I still run longer than most folks say they get tired driving which is all well and good if I were running somewhere where I'd normally drive.

So, what does this have to do with me running for the past few decades? Here it is in a very BIG nutshell. Thank Goodness this has been a "taper week" for the Mercedes Marathon, which in itself is hilarious that my training schedule actually has a "taper" built into it. Anyway, Birmingham was socked in with a couple of Winter Storms this week that curtailed my usually monster running schedule. I posted a photo on Twitter of one of those info signs that goes across the Interstate saying "Winter Storm Warning from 6pm Monday to 6am Thursday". I don't live in Minnesota, I live in Alabama! So, back to my story - Because we didn't have to report to work until late morning on Thursday, I managed to get out on the thawing roads for a short jaunt. Not a great run by any means, but during that little, flat, wet, non-interesting, time-consuming run, I crossed the 80,000 mile mark of miles run in my lifetime...well, since running became an integral part of my life in 1978.

That's a heap of miles. More than three times around the fat waist of the Earth. Ten times through a hole down the center of the Earth that would lead to China and back. Eighty times to run up to Boston to see my Grandkids. Ok, enough of that nonsense, but it is a long way mostly done on asphalt for the first 20 years and about evenly divided between the dreaded road and the much more ankle-agreeable trails since. I've done it in chunks from one mile to 111. On the flat lands and up Pikes Peak. In the stifling heat of Mexico and the bitter cold of...well, all cold is bitter to me!

So, this weekend I'll traverse the 26.2 miles of the Mercedes Marathon for the 13th time and it will be my 139th marathon or longer. About probably 60-70% of my runs have been done in total solitude, but, I must say, my most enjoyable of those 128,000 kilometers (doesn't that sound MUCH longer?) has been the constant interaction with friends new and old. And I have a pretty sure idea that I haven't met all those friends yet, so you know what? I'm going to keep going, keep adding on those miles, and most importantly, keep literally running into these friends. As the most interesting man in the world might say, "I don't always run with somebody by my side, but when I do, they are all friends". Run strong my friends.

I'll see you on the roads - AL

"One child lost is too child saved can change the world"

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