Saturday, May 24, 2008

2008 Delaware Marathon Report

A simple glance from my mom as I rounded the bend toward the 26th mile allowed me to understand that everything was alright. I had just walked a considerable amount of the last 6.2 miles and felt sad and disappointed. It was if though I had let the entire world down. The approving look on my mom’s face gave me the freedom to release the burden of my perceived failure. When I'm lost and insecure she builds me up and makes me sure
that everything will be alright. Yes I had failed but in her eyes I had accomplished something special. My main goal in my life has been to make my parents proud and if I’ve done that than I’ve been successful no matter what I may think.

In February I targeted the Delaware Marathon as a run that I wanted to race and race well. After resting the entire month of December I returned slowly to running in January. My thoughts were not of racing but instead I focused on training smart. In the last couple of years I have had some unpleasant injuries the effects of which have lingered for many months. I could attribute those injuries to my style of running, body structure or any other number of factors but ultimately the reason I’ve been hurt is because I have not trained smart. In order to counter this I planned out a strategy in which I would run slowly but efficiently to progress to the point where I would be prepared to run a marathon by mid-March, a fifty mile race by mid April and the Delaware Marathon in May.



Take care

Monday, May 19, 2008

Delaware Marathon

A friend asked me today how I felt about my performance this weekend at the Delaware Marathon. Below is my response:

Well to be honest I'm always satisfied with a finish but I am disappointed in how things transpired. I wasn't fully prepared and because of that I failed to meet my goal. This is why running can be frustrating because there are so many ups and downs. The only consolation for me is that I tend to focus on the ups which allows me to gain some satisfaction even in failure. That being said I have a decision to make. In order to get better I have to work harder and in order to do that I would have to sacrifice my time. I'm not sure that I want to go that route again but it's something that I have to think about. If I don't work harder then I have to learn to accept the fact I will not run at the level that I know I'm capable. However, over the last couple of years, my life has changed to a point where running at a high level is not the most important thing to me. Sharing my time with other people has taken priority and it will no doubt continue to gain momentum as my life progresses.

So I guess I have two answers to your question. Yes I am satisfied that I finished but no I'm not completely happy with my performance. I know that this may be hard to understand but I know that I can do better so if I accept anything less than I'm accepting mediocrity.

If I can find some time and get into the right frame of mind I will probably document my thoughts that I had before, during and after the race. I think when my head is back on straight I will be able to convey my feelings into words that all could understand.

Take care

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Challenge of the Broad Street 10 miler

As runners we should not ever be afraid of losing. Our goal should be to give our heart and soul so that when we walk away we feel satisfied that we tried our best. The intensity that burns within our hearts is a flame that should never cease until we cross the finish line. The key to achieving our goals is not physical ability or conditioning but instead it is confidence and mental strength. I claim to have this confidence yet it was challenged as Sunday May 5 the day of the Broad Street 10 miler approached. What laid before me was a race in which my performance would be judged not only by me but also by my friends, family, and co-workers. This pressure that I felt may have been real or imagined but indeed it was pressure. Though I recognize that there are many variables that could dictate the outcome of a race it can be quite difficult to plan accordingly and accept anything other than a time equivalent to a past run or a personal best. The challenge was not the race itself but instead the challenge was finding my way to the start line to face the perceived judgment of my peers.

In an endurance event such as a marathon or ultra there is a buffer zone that allows for a sub-par performance. The perception of being judged by others is not quite as intense mainly because the sport is not main-stream or understood by most people. That being said there are no expectations and success is not defined by how long it took to finish but instead it is defined by a finish only. This type of relaxed environment devoid of unnecessary pressure is why I participate in endurance events. However, I can not allow comfort to dictate the events in which I choose to participate. A challenge, by my definition, is something that produces discomfort and must be faced head on.

On May 5, 2008 I stood at the start line on North Broad Street without a fear in the world. The challenge of getting there had been met and now it was time to run. I thrive in this type of venue for it is where I feel most confident. I recognize that despite the different walks of life each of the other participants was there for the same purpose as I. I stood there and I smiled because I knew that in the end each of us would walk away with a new experience. Though I’m a fierce competitor I recognize that an event such as this is not about running fast or doing well but instead it is about being there. Just being out there to make an attempt, to give an honest effort, to join the masses in doing something healthy is what this is all about.

My only regret in running the way that I do is that I miss so much. Though I’d like to be my talent is not such that I’m a front-runner in fact I'm probably closer to the mid-pack but I run with the intensity that I’m in the lead. It is because of this style of running that I miss talking with the people, I miss soaking in the atmosphere and I miss the excitement of the crowd. When in an event such as this I focus so hard on each and every step while calculating my next move that I zone out everything else around me. This gives me the ability to produce positive thoughts which in turn puts me at ease and allows me to run effectively. I’m not a front runner, I’m not going to win but it’s important to me that I try my best.

I will admit that as in every race there are times when my mind strays and I scramble to maintain positive thoughts. The key to any successes that I have ever had is recognizing my thought process and reigning back in to where I am most comfortable. Broad Street was no different. I recognized early on that my race would not be my best so to maintain a positive outlook I quickly reevaluated and changed my goals. Though I set my goals high a willingness to reevaluate each goal as the race progresses allows me to stay positive and ultimately perform at a higher level.

Broad Street is an easy race but the easiness of the course can tax the mind if not focused properly. I suffered twice but recovered quickly and finished the race with a respectable time. I walked away from the finish line feeling satisfied that I overcame a challenge whether real or fabricated in my own mind. My world will always be broad because I am not afraid to give anything a try.

Happy Mother’s Day to my mom! She is a very supportive person and someone who I love dearly. She is a very special lady.

Take care


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

How Lucky I Have Been

I very rarely read my own stories but when I do I realize just how lucky I have been. I sit here today with the knowledge that I have had a great life. I am a simple guy who has very little in the form of worldly possessions but I have been given the opportunity to view the world from a different perspective than most. Amongst many other things I have seen the beautiful nighttime sky of Death Valley, a pair of eerie eyes staring back at me upon the mountainside of Northern Virginia, rattlesnakes, scorpions, and tarantulas in their native habitat. I have been given the ability to see the beauty of my surroundings while still satisfying my innate desire to run competitively. I am able to walk away from every race with vivid memories of the scenery and each and every step that I took a long the way. I have been given the ability to share those memories through the written word so that my family and friends feel as though they were by my side. Though I write I very rarely talk about my experiences in the many desolate mountain ranges and deserts in which I’ve traveled. I’m very open and would enjoy speaking but what I speak could not be understood by just anybody. Talk of physical and mental pain that generate whines and cries in the night does not equate to fun for those who do not understand the satisfaction gained from overcoming every challenge. Only those who have been there can understand the deep personal feeling obtained from being one of the few to cross the finish line. It’s not a talent or a skill but rather it is determination and courage. There is always more than one champion in a race for each and every person who crosses the finish line did so because they conditioned their mind as well as their body while overcoming every challenge. Champions are not born but instead they are developed. They listen, they observe, they implement and they execute. Though I know the sport can be brutal I will always encourage other people to step outside the box and take life to another level by making an attempt at an ultra marathon. I have lived my dream for I know that no matter what happens in my lifetime I will have memories that will always warm my heart.

Take care