Countdown: 44 Days – Reasons 89 & 88

44 Days To Go

Reason 89: Food Tastes Better

Maybe it is all the calories burned. Perhaps it is having ‘earned it’. But one simple truth is the first couple things eaten after cooling down from a good run taste wonderful.

I expect that it might be something coming out of all the blood and neuro-chemicals pulsing around my body. Senses just sharpen. Then all the great details of food’s flavor come to life.

Reason 88: Collecting Data

We live in an age of data collection and analysis. I like looking back at the performance of a run, a week, a month, and seeing how it went from a statistical perspective. Data doesn’t lie. It doesn’t go by feel. And it isn’t distorted by the human experience.

It’s nice to see when I managed to do something surprising like set a new segment record for myself. Data can also be averaged and divided to extrapolate. Compare a flat looping run against a wandering trail course of the same length. All provide insight and food for thought. And that helps me improve, plan, and enjoy what I’m doing.

Countdown: 45 Days – Reasons 91 & 90

45 Days To Go

Reason 91: Time to Think

Every day that I go out to run is a day that I get an hour or two just to myself. I don’t have any computers in front of me. No one talks to me during the run most of the time. And while I like to listen to music while I run, it fades to background as I think and consider things.

This active solitude is a gift. I can let my mind float back and forth on ideas, problems and events from my daily life without distraction. As a result, I’ve come up with some great ideas on runs that I later flesh out.

Reason 90: Time to ‘Pray’

I am not a religious individual. Spiritual on the other hand I can agree with, even if it doesn’t show often. Another thing the solitude and activity of running can bring me is a type of meditative state.

Focus on posture and breath, much like sitting in meditation, is an important part of running already. As I focus on my form, I feel solid and centered, even if I’m struggling. And in that state, I can give my wishes to the world. Or perhaps it is more that I am open to what the world has to say. This is what I mean by ‘pray’.

It seems like I inch closer to alignment with the universe and things go more in my favor, even if it doesn’t appear that way at first. Things fall into place. I become more whole.

Countdown: 46 Days – ‘Why?’ Parts 93 & 92

46 Days To Go

Reason 93: Wildlife

Being out in the parks and on the trails, you see a lot of people. High school cross country teams are frequent. Dog walkers are common. Lone and tandem runners. A good amount of bicyclist. Even the occasional stroller pusher or kid-corraller.

But the best thing to see is the wildlife. Squirrels abound everywhere out here. It’s the deer, snakes, groundhogs and the huge variety of birds that always make me smile. Where I grew up, there were pigeons and sparrows and that was about it. Here running out in nature, however cultivated it might be, life flows over out of the bushes.

Sometimes I have to leap over a snake in the trail. One time in a small trail race the lead runner way ahead of me paused to move a turtle out of the path. I’ve many times been within arm’s reach of one or more deer.

Today, however, a peregrine falcon who I was watching left its perch and flew right over my head, within a foot clearance. It was beautiful and exhilarating and the best close encounter I’ve ever had. And I eagerly look forward to the one that tops it.

Reason 92: Bystanders

Remember all those people I described above? They are a lot more mundane in our everyday experience, but can be pretty darn interesting themselves. I’ve met a group of elderly whittlers, (that is working wood with a small knife), artists painting the visitor center, folks going to a costumed tea and martial artist practicing forms for public interest.

And of course all the others. Brief chats at a road crossing with a bicyclist like today are delightful. Running a mile with an older lady and discussing why we are out there was enlightening. Folks at a race or a club event are always friendly.

I may not seek these people or animals out, but running brings me in contact with them.

Countdown: 47 Days – Reasons 96 through 94

Persistence Hunting.

47 Days To Go

Had a timing hiccup yesterday, so a double today!

Reason 96: Weight Control

When I started taking my running seriously, around 15 months ago, a major goal was to lose weight. Today, that goal has both been met, and has grown. Running allows me to have some indulgences now and again. I also, after losing 50 lbs. have decided that I want to drop 20 more yet.

Reason 95: Learning About How Food Works

In part with the above, I’ve learned and am still learning a lot about food. The broad overview in school can be broken down into a lot of details and nuances that matter. And learning how to provide yourself with the right fuel at the right time has been eye-opening. Now, applying all these lessons is another story. But, as they said back in the day, ‘knowing is half the battle’.

Reason 94: Everyone Has To Earn It

One thing I think I am realizing and loving about running is that it can’t be given to you. Everyone has to earn a good performance. You may have the gift of heritage and location. Wealth, environment, genetics, biomechanical edges, all are great. However, if you don’t work at it, you don’t get it. I didn’t have a lot of those things. You don’t have to. The most important thing to have, is grit. Determination. A will to say, ‘Oh, I can work hard and get that? I’m in!’

Reason 93: Chasing Down the Best is the Only Way to Beat Them

I don’t think I have designs on competing seriously in major running events, ultra or otherwise. But, to be an age-group contender? I wouldn’t mind that. To do one thing that makes someone go ‘Oh, damn. People can do that?’ Yeah, I want that. And I never had designs on running a marathon, let alone an ultramarathon one year ago. Yet, here I am.

A major league ultramarathon runner, Pete Kostelnick, is coming to the Olander Endurance Challenge, the 24 hour race I am counting down to. He is super accomplished and is almost a cinch to win it easily. That said, I look forward to giving him at least a moment of consideration. I want to cook down the loops on his tail and make him take it from me. Do I think I can catch him? I don’t have to. I just have to chase him. If he’s moving, I’m chasing him down. If he’s still, I’m gaining ground. I can’t beat the best if I don’t at least try to chase them down. After all, we evolved to be persistence hunters.

And I hope to learn a ton from running in such a small intimate race as this one.

Countdown: 49 Day – Reasons 98 & 97

49 Days To Go

Reason 98: Adventure

Today, we went out for a drive about to the south side of the Toledo area. Monclova, Maumee, and Perrysburg are parts of the greater Toledo area we don’t get to visit often. I’m currently considering a very long run on a trail that starts in this area, and we went out to plan where support stops might be made. We retraced some steps I made previously in the area. Got to try a new restaurant, not that it turned out well in this instance. And in general, we had a bit of fun wandering the area. We even learned that in these more affluent suburbs, the usual Kroger grocery store was quite different than in our neighborhood.

I enjoy having the excuse to go out of the house like this to scout out paths and just be adventurous like when I was growing up.

Reason 97: Exploring

Sure, this is a little like above, and certainly one way to find adventure is to go exploring. What I am getting at though is the discovery of new things. Finding the point on the trail where it transitioned from paved to natural trail was such a matter of exploring. We also got to find all manner of shops and beautiful houses while looking for transit routes and parking locations.

None of these would have happened had I not been considering this silly one-way run. And I would not have considered something like a 45-50 mile one-way run, had I not been planning and training for the 24 hour race.

Now we know some parks we want to visit and spend more time at. We found a shopping plaza we look forward to exploring more in the future. And we had a pretty damn good evening out and about.

Countdown to 100 Miles in 1 Day

50 Days To Go

I’m going to try something different in the countdown to my first official ultramarathon race. Today is 50 days out from the 24 hour timed event’s start. My aim for the blog is to try and talk briefly about two reasons to run that race each of those 50 days.

Reason 100: The Strategic Planning

I love the planning elements of training and running this type of event. Any activity that goes over a huge number of hours and effort requires planning. There is planning in figuring out how to train and improve to handle the effort. Also, lots of planning going into recruiting and training crew, ensuring logistic support, and the details of recovery.

I just enjoy puzzling over the requirements. Reviewing the available resources and deciding how best to use them. Figuring out how to acquire more needed resources to fill in deficits. It’s a logic puzzle, a visualizing exercise, and a chance to use my preparedness education.

Reason 99: The Daily Growth

In the planning above, I’ve had to evaluate myself and my abilities in a serious light. Among the resources I have to call upon, the most important in this case is my own physical ability. And that is something I can improve.

In fact, that improvement is a major reason I do running to begin with. I started my quest with a desire to be able to run in the first place. That grew into wanting to improve my distance. Improve my time. Reduce my weight. Test my limits.

In the pursuits, I have thought about my goals and my training daily. Even if I don’t run on a given day, I evaluate how I feel closer. Watching for injuries, recovering from workouts, all things I see growth in. And the data crunching of my runs. It is always satisfying to see that I run a casual outing so much faster than I did last year.