Friday, January 29, 2016

The Return of Running With Al!?!

"Father Time is undefeated" - unknown

Hey guys...been a while since I sat down at this computer and opened the drain of my mind and let my thoughts (mostly about running) pour out. After (just about) 2 years of  weekly posts of my doings and thoughts, I just sorta hung it up for a while because the brain-well had run dry and I didn't want to subject those few of you that were reading RWA to my dwindling mileage and whining that even I hated. When you've been a long distance marathon and ultramarathon runner for eons, the last thing to go is the mind. So, I still picture doing fast paces and running up and down the hills on the long trails because my mind is in good decent shape, but shoot, between my chronic ankles and some persistent back crankiness, my running sure has taken a huge hit. I've hated not writing these running posts but I was afraid it would be so repetitious and would just turn into a big Pitty-fest. Heck, I even gave up keeping any kind of meaningful running log (except for the very cold stats that I download onto Strava). Whereas I used to keep a very daily detailed written log of my running for years, it became very repetitious and vanilla even to me, the beloved author. When I began entering many more zeros in those little blocks than monthly mileage numbers, the writing interest waned. So, I put RWA on the shelf for a few months (since last April actually), and continued running what I could, trying to find the right things to improve. Hasn't gone quite as good as I had hoped, though I'm not done trying.

Those that don't run will probably say "All that running is no good for you", but those that do run know better...much better! However, when you're older than the Harry Truman administration, maybe things are catching up. When you've run more miles than 3 times around the Earth, maybe things are catching up. When you've averaged over 4 marathons/ultramarathons per year for over 35 years, maybe things are catching up. All I can say is "Well, shoot!"...I don't like things catching up!

Now, I'm not saying I am giving up on running, especially the trails (where running seems so much easier), but maybe I have to reset some goals. I mean, I'm not washed up!! But, I can no longer be concerned about things like how long it takes me to run at a trail race - I just have to find races that have a generous enough cutoff time to allow me to drag my butt around the course (having fun while dragging said butt, of course) before everybody packs up and goes home. Maybe I shouldn't be concerned about "running" downhill on some of the technical trails and have my ankles screaming "How do you like me now?". After all, I can probably walk down them at the same speed. Maybe I can't handle a road marathon (or half-marathon, or 10k even) anymore, but where I once could run 50 miles on the road with fair regularity, roads just don't light my inner fire much these days. But if "these days" will let me run/walk surrounded by nature or friends on the roads or the trails with it still being fun, then what the heck would I complain about?

It's just this mind adjustment that's got me bumfuzzled. I mean, it's not that I don't want to be the runner I once was, but I'm not stupid (some will contest that) and in my profession (Physical Therapy), I know what the inevitable slowdown is. Slowdown is acceptable, but rust from inactivity is not, so I won't stop trying to do the thing I love. But, it's not like flipping a light switch where I decide to accept the runner I am today rather than the runner I was a couple of decades ago. When I run with my same-age buddies, Moha or Ken, we fill up much of our runs with rehashing old stories about runs and races we've done in the past. This is usually followed by one of us blurting out "Usta", as in "We Usta do that", or "Who was that person". I can picture gliding along without a running care in the world, while in actuality, I feel like a jalopy traveling down a bad dirt road! My current mile pace for one mile on a flat paved road is SLOWER than the pace I've run 100 miles in the past! Geez!!!!

Ok, so here's the deal. I want to continue to run, but I'll make the necessary adjustments so I can continue to do what I can do and work to enjoy every doggone moment of it. I don't want to be beating myself up after my runs. That's absolutely NO fun! But, I love to run...much more on the trails than the road. And I will work like the dickens to be thankful for the fact that I am still moving forward. If I have to wear Hokas because of their cushioning and my ankles say "thank you", and if I have to wear a sacroiliac belt to give my back a little help along the way, then that's fine. I've run for almost four decades, and have a boatload of memories and two boatloads of friends just because of running. And I want to add a few more of both. If I move slower than cold molasses, then well, I'll have to accept that. 

RUNNING WITH AL has returned, and hopefully, running Al will never have to stop. I may be slower, and at times, I may be cranky, but hopefully I'll  keep it to myself and most importantly, I'll continue to see all of you on the roads and trails - AL

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