A horrible, no-good run

This week I haven’t slept…much.  Jackson has been a light sleeper and it’s been taking its toll.  Allergies have been acting up.  On Saturday (with help) I worked on a roof leak (fixed!) and finishing up a deck and stairs in my backyard.  I’m exhausted.

Didn’t have time to go out on Saturday, so I decided to go out after church, on Sunday.  The first 9 miles ripped by rather painlessly.  It wasn’t easy, but I kept checking my pace and was regularly around 0:8:40 or 0:9:00.  I was feeling pretty good.  I ran six miles up the Provo River Trail, then back toward my house.

I arrived home, feeling pretty good.  12 miles in 1:47:13, for an average 0:8:53.  Good.  Very good.  Once home, I drank the Propels that Wendy had put out on the steps for me (if I go in the house, I probably won’t come back out.)

I headed back down 2770 West, and encountered a group of kids that had hassled me, on my way back to to the house.  I challenged them to race (Look, I was tired and cranky) and kept moving on, taunts and all.

My 13th mile (let’s just combine both runs for the sake of this post) was another 0:9:04, so great start.  This would be the end of any semblance of health on this run.

Mile 14 rewarded me with 0:12:32.  Miserable.  The proverbial wall.  I don’t want to run anymore.  Just turn around and go home.  So exhausted.  Through the next four miles, I’d run, walk, run, walk…more walking.

Mile 15:  0:13:29.  I can’t even remember this mile.  It’s safe to say, I was crying a little.  And it’s interesting.  Last week I recall finishing 15 pretty strongly.  That’s the variable nature of running.

Mile 16:  0:14:58.  I’m gasping.  My heart is pounding (not a good sign?)

Mile 17:  0:13:25.  This takes everything I’ve got.  I want to just die.  Why am I in such bad shape?  Why can’t I run a simple 17 miler?  I feel that this shouldn’t be a major ordeal.  Otherwise, how am I going to squeeze out another 9 miles in St George?

When I got in the house, I simply laid down on the family room floor and waited for death.  It took at least four hours before I felt that I wasn’t going to be sick all night.

This run really took it out of me.  I’m going to try not to exhaust myself before next Saturday (19 mile run?), get some good sleep and hopefully kick these allergies.

A late night run on the Provo River Trail

Me, after the run, getting a shot of the brighter section of the Provo River Trail


Last night I posted to Facebook, inviting anyone to go on a 4-5 mile run with me. No one took up the offer, so I thought I wouldn’t go. Instead I had a healthy (read: big) serving of Dryer’s Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream and started to watch Conan. And then I started to dress for a run. Dang it.

I checked Facebook one more time, just in case there was a last minute offer, but there was none. I headed out the door and started an unusually fast for my first mile. I’ll be honest. I was nervous. Apparently, when I’m scared or nervous, I run faster. Good to know.

Once I got down to the path entrance, I considered just taking the road the runs alongside the Provo River Trail. Safer. More light. Shorter distance. Not as scary. Because of this last detail, I chose to take the scary route. Not sure why I do this. With my newfound UDAP pepper spray, I started off into the pitch black, my headlight guiding me.

This is a good time to mention that I really like this headlamp. It sits close to my head, doesn’t distract me, and lights up the road enough. I could see investing in something brighter, though. I’d like something that blinds anything in front of me. Really.

I’ve always had a very defensive posture. Ever since I was a kid. Maybe it was from the time that Chad, when I was in grade school, punched me in the stomach, because I kept singing Steve Miller’s “Abracadabra”, even after he commanded me to stop. Maybe it’s because I got into that one weird fight, on a run, in Springville, about 7 years ago. Either way, while I’m never looking for a fight on a run, I’m always considering my Next Move. The point being, if I had a nice, bright, blinding light, I’d have a little bit of advantage while my attacker couldn’t see. Maybe I’d spray him. Maybe I’d start kicking and punching for all my worth. But I think we both know I’d run like hell, à la Pink Floyd.

Mile 1: 0:8:25

Regardless. Or irregardless, for those of you who don’t know better, I started down this dark trail. Immediately I heard familiar footsteps behind me. Because I’ve already panicked over this sound, I knew that this was the sound of my own footsteps, echoing between the river bank and the trees on my north. Just in case, I risked a quick glance behind me. Just the chasing darkness.

The second mile wasn’t so much that I was running fast. It’s that I was running fast for my visibility. Every once in a while, a foot would brush into a lump or patch in the trail’s asphalt and I’d lose my balance. I very quickly learned to take some higher steps. So for being out of my gait and running in the darkness, I’m clipping off 0:8:00’s…I’m obviously trying to get off of this path. ASAP. As fast as I can without tripping and spilling into whatever enemy awaits. Bears? (Just came back from Yellowstone, so bears are on my mind.) A bad guy? Skunk? Russian Mafia? No idea. But I sense the danger, all around me.

At the Lakeshore trailhead. I run this trail almost 90% of the time. Great trail.

I spend a lot of time on my second mile, sweeping my headlamp from the left to the right-hand side of the trail. There are so many trees and I don’t need to be taken by surprise. Every once in a while I spin my head around to see who’s following me. Can’t see anyone. They must be very stealth and good at self-concealment.

Mile two: 0:7:56

Passing the two mile mark, I realize that the only choice I have is to continue on toward Utah Lake. Otherwise, I’ll find myself running back the way I came, dealing with the consequences of whatever I’ve stirred up on the first half of a dangerous out and back. So I reach the end of the trail (I’m alive!) and start running on the parallel road that takes some of the distance off of the first half. I know I’m close to 2.5 miles, here, so if I run home, I’ll likely get 4.5 out of this run. If I were more of a man, I would have eeked out a clean 5 by staying on the trail. And fighting a ninja, probably. Not worth it.

Mile 3: 0:7:57

Me, with my sweet headlamp in action. This is not a lightening strike, which was flashing in the distance, under ominous clouds.

I only saw two people on this stretch of lonely, freakishly dark stretch of road. The first was a car that drove way too slowly past me, then turned around and drove slowly past me again. I clutched my critter spray and just DARED someone to step out and mess with me (the best defense is a good offense?), but they continued on.

The next person I saw was on a motorcycle or scooter. It sounded like a scooter, but the rider was high up enough, that I couldn’t tell. I gave a friendly wave (hint: if someone doesn’t wave back, they are the enemy). There was no return wave. I am immediately suspicious.

Mile 4:  0:11:26

My shin started hurting, here, so I started walking, just in case I was going to aggravate something that might affect my upcoming long run on Saturday.

At night, every trail, every road is approximately 20% longer than it is in the day. So I ran for what seemed like a few weeks. When I reached the trail entry, I knew I was safe. We’re in my territory, now. During the day, I claim the entire trail and dare anyone to challenge. Except for the faster runners. They get a pass (ha!)

From here, I trotted home, victorious; alive. I walked into my house, dried off with a towel, stretched, showered, fixed a nice (that’s two, now, for those of you keeping score) glass of Dryer’s Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream and sat down to finish Conan.

I love these night-time runs. Any of you who read this (there is one of you) are welcome to join me.

Screen Shot 2014-08-15 at 1.21.26 PM


My reaction to Robin William's death

Yesterday afternoon, as we were driving home from the Freeman family reunion, Wendy told me that she saw on Facebook, that Robin Williams had passed away.  My first thought was that it was a hoax, because Facebook posts are always announcing someone’s death, who is in all actuality- alive.

This one was true.  #RIPRobinWilliams was trending on Twitter and it was soon apparent that we were all going to have to figure out how to live without this great comedian in the world.  He really was funny.

I first became acquainted with Robin Williams, through his show, Mork and Mindy.  I thought it was funny and it was one of my first introductions to comedy on TV.  I wasn’t allowed to watch too much in the way of comedy, as a kid, but this was a show that I caught from time to time.  Being endeared to Robin Williams, I loved almost everything that he was in, including Mrs Doubtfire.  He just made everything palletable.

So this is a post to say goodbye to a funny man, a man who seemed sweet on TV and by all accounts, really was as kind as he came off.

Clearly, he had his issues and demons.  I’m not a proponent of suicide, but I do not judge those who take their own lives.  I believe in a merciful God and believe that all who do their best return to a world of peace, and, eventually their families.

God bless Robin Williams and may his family find peace and the comfort of the Spirit.

13.1 miles before Reagan and Roxie's baptism, and Jackson's baby blessing, or, A Full Day

M13.1 mile splitsile 1, 0:9:31 pace:  Started off at a decent pace, which was good, because I always feel so slow, these days.  Didn’t head to the lake, instead ran down to my usual trailhead and then ran East along the Provo River Trail.

Mile 2, 0:9:14 pace:  Not too bad.  A bit stiff, but managed to keep a decent pace and positive thoughts.

Mile 3, 0:8:55 pace:  Ran under I-15, Independence Avenue, hoping that one day I’d remember the order that these streets come up in.

Mile 4, 0:9:40 pace:  Ran under Bulldog and State Street.  I know that my energy isn’t where it should be.  Haven’t eaten properly and I know this will be a factor.  I grab a drink at the park on 820 North.  I’m warm, but this helps.

Mile 5, 0:9:15 pace:  I run under University Avenue, but instead of continuing on the Provo River Trail, I move West on the trail on University, which quickly starts to climb.  I wonder if I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.  I steepens, but I know this is good training, but Veyo in Saint George is unforgiving and will eat me up if I don’t have some good hills training.  I do not walk on this hill.  I refuse to.

Mile 6, 0:9:31 pace:  The hill relaxes and I see stoplights up ahead.  I follow a couple of runners (one of whom I finally catch) and we head north into a more residential neighborhood, avoiding run-killing red lights on University.  With more lights ahead, I turn into a small, nice neighborhood and click off my sixth mile.  I turn around and head back, knowing there is speed ahead on that hill that killed me a few minutes ago.

Mile 7, 0:9:01 pace:  I’m a little bugged that my slight downhill hasn’t afforded me much in speed.  I had imagined that I’d get at least a 0:8:45 out of it, but I’m really tired, all of a sudden, so I settle for what I can get.

Mile 8, 0:8:50 pace:  This is where I have the steepest of that hill.  So I try to crank along.  But again, my energy is low, so I just try to get what I can.  My watch showed a 0:8:45 and so I know that I’m tired.  A new phrase enters my mind:  “Faith in the run.”  I am not going to walk.  I know that my training isn’t perfect, but it’s good enough that I should be able to have some confidence in it.  So I decide to take a chance that I’ll have to call for a ride.  I continue at my best pace…

Mile 9, 0:9:08 pace:  I come off of University and back onto my Provo River Trail.  I perk up, knowing that I’m only four miles from home.  I wonder if I can somehow eek out another mile for 14, just to feel good about where I’m at in my training.  I have a feeling I’ll disappoint myself in this.

Mile 10, 0:9:41 pace:  Somewhere between miles 8 and 10, a nice man, who’s watering his grass understands when I simply point at his water hose.  I kinks it off, so that it slows the flow and holds it, while I drink.  As I run from here, I tell him I appreciate it.  But I feel rude for pointing at the water I need.  Am I a toddler?  Am I seriously too tired to say, “Excuse me, may I have some water, please?”  Answer:  Yes.

Mile 11, 0:10:24 pace:  I have to take two minutes to walk.  I allow myself only two minutes.  At this point I’m thinking of Saint George.  I’m exhausted, my right hip hurts, my feet even hurt a bit.  A time-honored tradition in my training as I wonder, “How am I EVER going to finish a marathon?”  I’ve finished many.  But every training season offers this moment of doubt.  I don’t panic as much, any more.  I just enter these things and do my best.

Mile 12, 0:9:25 pace:  What IS different about this year’s training, is that I offer less excuses for why I need to walk.  I tell myself at mile 12, that I don’t need to (even though much of my body disagrees with this) and I try to keep a respectable pace.  I accomplish this goal.

Mile 13, 0:9:42 pace:  One mile from home.  I’m not walking.  I have positive thoughts and tell myself that this will be over in less than 10 minutes.  My pain will come to an end, so I need to keep going.  Don’t stop.  There is a red van on 2770 West, that I use as a marker.  I am not allowed to look at my watch until I pass this van.  When I do, there is only a 1/10 of a mile left in this excruciation.  I pass my house, stop my watch once I’ve run 13.1 miles (because, right?) and walk to the drinking fountain at the park.  This has been a good (not great) run and I deserve some water.

I go home and immediate drink a glass of chocolate milk, followed by a less than stellar ice bath.  I need more ice and more water in my next long run icing.

What went wrong:  I didn’t properly eat and drink before I ran this.  I was pressured because today Roxie and Reagan were being baptized and Jackson was getting his baby blessing.  I should have taken 10 minutes to eat more and this might have led to slightly better miles and slightly less pain.

What went right:  My mind pushed though exhaustion and pain, allowing me to keep a relatively steady pace, instead of declining toward the end.  I was surprised that I didn’t have a bunch of 10 minute miles toward the end.

Note:  I almost didn’t run, this morning.  My alarm woke me, but I almost just laid back down to sleep.  So glad I didn’t.

Trolled by a skunk, or, a painful 4 miles

I’ve seen better runs in a pair of…well, never mind that.

Mile 1, 0:9:40 pace:  Brutal.  By the time I’m running past the Tubbs house (right next door to me), I know this is going to be a tough one.  I’m slow, achy (left hamstring), and doing about an 11 minute mile.  I just feel so stiff and inflexible.  I know that some of this will pass.  This is the benefit of having run for 12 years.  I know when to keep moving and when to stop (don’t I?)

Mile 2, 0:8:54 pace:  I’ve finally set into a pace and am able to hold a slightly faster mile.  I start to relax and enjoy the scene unfold in front of me.  I had to get up at 5:50 am for this run, because my work (OC Tanner) is taking us to the new movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, this morning, at 8:30.  So it’s darker than normal and I’m reminded that when the winter descends on us in Utah, I’ll be running in the dark almost every morning.  A pre-eminent shiver moves through me.

While taking this all in a rustling on my right side catches my attention.  I have startled a skunk, who is staring me down, daring me to get closer.  By the time I’ve registered the potential threat, I’ve moved past it.

Mile 3, 0:8:33 pace:  It takes me over a few minutes before I can calm down and get over it.  Do I stink?  Is it ok to stop another runner to ask (‘No’ is the correct answer.)  I’m moving better, but I still deal with that hamstring.  I start to wonder if tomorrow’s long run is going to really hurt, or if tomorrow will be a new day, body-wise.  It occurs to me how many times I’ve been surprised by a run.  Like the day after a brutal run, sometimes I feel great.  Other times I might have taken a couple of days off, but the day I go for that first comeback run, I can barely finish three miles.  So I take a leap of faith and decide to complete all for miles (I’m sort of passed this point, but these are the thoughts I think.)

Mile 4, 0:8:40 pace:  Just got to finish this up.  My watch reports that I have plenty of time to get home, shower, dress and head for the train, which will take me almost right to the movie at The Gateway in Salt Lake City.  I try to relax, but man, my hamstring.  My mind diverts for just a moment as Will Ferrel’s voice echoes in my head “HAMBONE!!!”  Not sure why.  I’m tired.  My mind is wandering.

I finally arrive home and sneak in the house.  It’s barely 6:40 am and I know that everyone’s asleep.  My day has just begun, but at least I’ve got a decent 17 miles for the week.  Tomorrow will determine what my total week’s mileage comes to.  I’m sure I’ll hit my goal of 25.