Saturday, February 28, 2009

Catching Up

ORN: 11.4 miles, R4/W1, 1:57:24, 10:18/mile

Lately, running has been good while blogging has been bad.

I'm just really enjoying running right now, in almost a new sort of way. The ITB and ankle pain that bugged me through December and January has cleared up. Winter weather is rotten but I'm just running for the simple joy of the run. It is great to just go out the door and run. I do have a bit of a plan but mostly it is just focused on safely ramping up the miles so I can comfortably get to doing consistent 20 mile weekend runs. I only have a couple of races on my mind for the spring and if they happen or don't happen, I'm fine.

And this is kind of cool. Just getting out and spending the time alone, in the cold, hearing the early-returning birds sing (asking each other just why they came back so early, I'm guessing) and thinking through the day. Very cool.

But there has been little time for blogging or commenting on blogs. Please don't take my absence from your blog comment stream personally. Keeping a manufacturing operation going in this economy is no small task. Yet we are seeing some success. There's lots of tough news out there but it ain't all bad, folks. Treating customers and employees with respect, innovation and quality makes a difference.

We also threw in a brief vacation trip to the West Coast, visiting my sister and BIL in San Diego. You can read about it here. Man, was it nice to run in sunshine and warm temperatures. A treat was running 10+ miles with nephew John around Lake Mirmar just north of SD. Great conversation, great running.

And the other highlight was getting to connect with running buddy Darrell and his wife in scenic Temecula for breakfast last Saturday. What a treat to get together, meet Lisa for the first time and have the four of us connect widely. I do think our wives were also grateful we only touched lightly on running over the 90 minutes together! Oh, and if you ever see "sweet potato pancakes" on a menu, order them...very yummy.

Lisa, Darrell, Gretchen, Joe

Life does go on. And, in it all, we persevere.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Long Term Running Goal

ORN: 7.0 miles, 1:09:17, R3/W1, 9:54/mile, pain free

Goals are important. And not just vague conceptual thoughts about targets. Many studies have shown that the liklihood of achieving anything is significantly improved with a specific, written goal.

I remember discovering this fact early in my undergraduate studies. I was fascinated by how a clearly-stated, written goal tended to focus the mind, clarify choices and lead to achieving important things. Shoot, I even got engaged after I set a specific goal to improve my social life during the fall of 1974 (but that's a different story and I'd need to have Gretchen tell her side as well).

So, it's probably no surprise I have a long-term goal in running. When I started the second-era of my running career in 2004, I realized I needed a long-term goal to add direction far beyond the short-term and annual list of races to be run. Sometime in 2005, it geled for me. I remember telling Darrell about this goal during our first December marathon meet up in 2006 but I've never posted it here. And in the lull between races for me, this seemed like a good time.

My long-term running goal is to run a race of at least a half-marathon distance on the weekend when each of my twin grandsons get married.

Why such a goal? Well, it gives some life and visual punch to my desire to keep moving and active deep into my life. Let's do the math (hey, I'm a Purdue engineer and I always do the math) and see what this means.

Next week, Drew and Nathan turn 5. Last fall, I turned 55. If they get married in their early-to-mid 20s, I'll be in my early 70s on their wedding days. And, yeah, I'd like to still be running then. I see a good number of men in their 70s at races. Can I be one of them?

The implication of this goal on my day-to-day running is clear. It causes me to pay attention to staying injury-free. It causes me to not get too uptight about inevitable ups and downs of races or training. If illness strikes, it gives focus to any recorery efforts. I didn't put a time goal on my race; but I did say "run". I need a lot of consistency to get to this goal. This adds motivation to keep moving in our extreme midwest weather.

Being a very visual goal, it also adds a strong emotional pull. I can sure make a picture of getting a Saturday morning race in, showering, and heading to a wedding in the afternoon. And the visual, emotional tug is one measure of a useful goal.

Will it happen?? I have no idea. Will Drew and/or Nathan cooperate? Well, this is my goal, not theirs, so there is no pressure on them. I must say, though, I hope their musical taste improves by the time they plan the reception.

I think about this goal a bit during almost every run I make. And it came home in a fascinating way yesterday. We attended the wedding of the daughter of long-time friends yesterday. As family friends, they invited our son, daughter-in-law and their three munchkins as well. When we got to the ceremony, it worked out that the twins sat with Gretchen and me. Well, you can imagine the task of keeping two inquisitive 5 year-olds quiet during the solemnity of a wedding ceremony but it worked. At one point, Drew whispered to Gretchen "Grandma, someday I'm going to get married and then you can be my daughter." Huh?? Well, it made sense to him.

Yet, it was kind of mind-boggling to sit with these two little boys, fast-forwarding 15-20 years and imagine them marrying, much as I hit rewind remembering this bride's birth 22 years ago and seeing her now. That time will go quickly. And, if I can keep in shape, I'll be around to enjoy it.

And will I make it to their little sister's wedding too??

Persevere. In the short and long term.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Reestablishing Rhythm

ORN:  3.3 miles, R3/W1, 34:15
After a late-night ending to a Super Bowl gathering, it was nice to get out and run early this morning. It was also nice to run on dry pavement...a bit of a warming trend over the weekend melted the snow pack on the streets. 
(<i>Football comment: With the exception of the Dorito's Crystal Ball commercial, the ads were lame.  The football was pretty good. Probably the way it should be.</i>)
What has struck me refreshingly over the past week is the simple joy of running pain free.  Having focused a lot on the left ITB discomfort since Memphis, I had failed to acknowledge some sharp pain in both ankles.  I guess I didn't want to admit that hurt too.  About 2 weeks ago, I noticed the ankle pain was gone.  On Saturday, I ran 5.5 miles with no twinges at all.  This morning, I rolled out and did 3+ with a focus on form and just the pure joy of running without pain.  On top of that, the work schedule has calmed and the runs are now more regular.  Starting this week, I slowly start ramping up the mileage for one and maybe two spring races.
All of this made me realize afresh the simple discipline of running.  Doing it regularly.  Doing it joyfully.  Doing it with a clear mind, which allows one to explore other things in the time alone.  Relaxing in the nested rhythms of the run.  The rhythm of motion of running.  The rhythm (for me) of the run/walk.  The rhythm of the week (short runs weekdays, long run weekend).  The rhythms of the seasons.
It's good to get back to a sense of rhythm.