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After my mental struggles during Saturday’s race, I didn’t know what to expect during my 10 mile run Sunday morning.

I had no idea if I’d run the whole way; if I’d run for three miles, walk for a mile … etc; if I’d feel enough physical strength to tackle the hills. I didn’t even know if I wanted to run.

As far as I was concerned, it was enough of an accomplishment to put on my (still damp) sneakers and head out the door at 7am.

As I was standing on the front porch, contemplating the route for the day, I made a decision – I would not wear my watch. There wasn’t a whole lot of thinking that went into this decision. I just didn’t feel like routing around the back seat of my truck looking for it. I knew that I’d probably be running for about 90 minutes. It was exactly 7am. If I made it home on/around 8:30 that was good enough for me.

With that simple decision, I had the best run of the past 2 months.

I didn’t think about minutes or splits. I didn’t think about the next milestone.

Instead, I thought about the guys out golfing in Willowbend. I laughed to myself how they were all dressed alike – a rainbow of polo shirts and khaki shorts … the official dress code of the male weekend golfer.

I thought about the older guy pulling into the golf course with his maroon Ferrari. I wondered how he got the money to afford it. Was he an investment banker? Movie producer? Was it old money or new? Was he married? What kind of car did his wife drive? Where did he live the rest of the year? Did he keep the Ferrari in a garage on the Cape?  What other cars were in his garage?  How did he perceive himself behind the wheel of that car?  How did he think people perceived him?  If I had the money, would I spend it on a Ferrari?  What kind of car would I have if money wasn’t a factor?

Before I knew it, I was running past the Santuit River. My thoughts on Mr. Ferrari carried me through a tough hill and about a mile of road.

A few minutes later, I ran into two women out walking. Well, one was walking. The other was shuffling up a hill, complaining about how tired she was.  Why was she tired?  Was she on vacation?  Did she have too much to drink last night?  Was it too early for her to be out exercising? Did the idea of an early morning walk sound a whole lot better after 3 glasses of wine last night than it did this morning when the alarm went off? Were these two women friends?  Sisters? Neighbors?  Did they live on Cape?

Before I could create an entire backstory for Ms. Shuffle complete w/ the bars she visited last night, the drinks she ordered and the vacationing men she flirted with, I was rounding the bend to Loop Beach – my favorite part of any run in Cotuit.   This is always the point where I stop, stretch and enjoy the view.   However, today was different.  I admired the beach (the tide was coming in), but kept right on running – up one of the steepest hills on this run.  I was feeling great.

I didn’t come across any more people worthy of a new imagined reality, but I did enjoy time with my own thoughts.  I didn’t solve any problems.  I didn’t unravel any riddles.  I didn’t even think about the run I was doing.  I let my mind wander:

- Why did I struggle so much in the race yesterday?

- Why are those dolphin stickers warning against dumping only near the two storm drains on Putnam across from Old Shore?

- There’s the spot where I saw the coyote last week.  I wonder where he lives?  Does he have a family?  Why was he alone?  Every other time I’ve seen a coyote on Cape, there were @ least two of them together.  I don’t know if they’re pack animals, but based on my experiences w/ them, they are.

- How can I be a better father?  I feel like I haven’t been spending enough time with the kids recently.

- Why is that pile of mulch still sitting in our front yard?

Around the time I was meditating on the falling home prices on the Cape, I was gliding across the Stop & Shop parking lot – 1/2 mile from home.

I finished my run @ Steve & Mary’s corner.  As I was walking up the driveway, Scooter was the first one to greet me, followed by Keely and Colin squealing my name – wanting to hug my leg, but knowing they’d be covered in sweat if they did.

We all sat down together on the front porch. Keely on my right.  Colin on my left.  I had a glass of orange juice in one hand, a tennis ball for Scooter in the other.  I called to Michelle to ask her what time it was … 8:31am.

Saturday’s Osterville Race was 4.12 miles.

I ran the first mile in 7:35. The second mile was a little slower in 7:40. The third was about 7:45.

It was between miles 2 and 3 that I started to seriously doubt my decision to run an October marathon. It was hot. I was tired. All I wanted to do was get to mile 3 and then to mile 4 where I knew the finish line would be in site. I started to break down the remaining run into 8:00 increments, and I couldn’t wait to finish.
How in the world will my brain work through 26 miles? What have I gotten myself into?

I was nearly 50 seconds slower this year than last. Last year = 31:40. This year = 32:24
I can think of @ least 10 things that I would have done differently to be better prepared for this run:

  • not had that beer with dinner last night
  • tried to get to sleep before 11pm
  • run 4 instead of almost 8 miles yesterday
  • laid out all my stuff for this morning last night
  • dried off @ least one pair of sneakers yesterday
  • stretched
  • gone on a warmup run
  • drank more water yesterday
  • had more carbs yesterday
  • spent some time relaxing this morning – practicing my breathing and thinking good thoughts

Instead, I found myself sprinting to the starting line @ 7:58 – 2 minutes before the gun went off. I was mentally unprepared. My legs were tight.   My stomach was queasy and I was doubting how well I could do.

Then again – there were some positives this morning

  • My miles were consisent. Last year my first mile was ~6:40 and I physically struggled the rest of the way. This time, I was smooth from start to finish
  • I had a chance to volunteer. I would love to volunteer @ a race again. I met so many nice people.  Then again, volunteering was also the reason the I was sprinting for the starting line w/ my sneakers in my hand.
  • I finished strong.  I ran by people on the last hill.

The next race that I could enter is a 10K in Hyannis.  I might run it, but I also might see if I could volunteer for it.  We’ll see – I have a couple weeks to decide.

I’ll be running in my fourth consecutive Osterville Run for the Library tomorrow morning – 8am from the Bay School.

I hate racing. I don’t like what they do to my stomach. I don’t like the way that I feel during them. I hate how my brain works (or doesn’t) once the gun goes off. I hate how I’ll judge myself on my performance because that’s how I presume I’ll be judged by others.

I know that part of my problem with races is that I don’t run enough of them. I limit myself to less than 5 a year, and it’s generally the same 4 or 5.

My brain generally works like this during a race:

Before the start
Don’t get too close to the front of the pack. You don’t want to be pulled along too fast @ the start.

Don’t get too close to the back of the pack. You want to have a good time and not get boxed in.

That’s good – settle in here next to the lady running with the dog and the guy w/ the stroller.

Don’t start too fast. Don’t start too slow. Did you get enough warmup time. How do your legs feel? You should probably stretch more. My stomach hurts. Should I hit the port-a-potty one more time. When did I eat? Shoot – it was only an hour ago .. I’m going to get a cramp.

I hope I have a better time that “pick a name of someone close by.”

Who’s in front of me? OK – try to stay close to that person in the red bandana.

Once the gun goes off
My legs are dead. Why are my legs dead?

Crap – I have cotton-mouth already. How far to the first water stop?

Move out of my way you old fart!  Why did I start so far back??

Did I start my watch (and then proceed to look @ watch obsessively for the next 10 seconds to make sure that it’s actually moving)

During the race
One mile down. That was waaaayyyyy too fast. I’m going to be dead in another mile. Time to ratchet it back a little.

Ha – that guy’s walking already.

How the hell is that guy passing me – wasn’t he just walking?? Stupid Jeff Galloway training methods.

It’s just a run. It’s just a run. It’s just a run.

Two miles down. Better time on the split.  I won’t die before the next mile.

I should have worn sun glasses.

I should have used more vaseline.

One f*in water stop on this whole course??!!!

God damn! that sun is hot. Don’t these people know that I run @ 5:30am.  Who plans a race for this late in the day??

Was that mile 3 I just passed?  Mile 4?  Please oh please tell me it was mile 4.

Finish line in site
Try and look cool.

Don’t puke in front of these nice people.
At the finish line
Thank god that’s over. Where’s the free food and water?  I hope they have gatorade.
An hour after the race is over
I could have done better.

Why did I slow down between miles 3 and 4?

I shouldn’t have walked through the water stop.

I need to enter more races.

It’s humid this morning. I’m sweating in my office, but still enjoying a 2nd cup of coffee while the rest of the house sleeps.

This has been my life for the past 6 months – quiet mornings in front of the computer visualizing a perfect run, debating what I should/shouldn’t eat before heading out the door.

Today’s run will be different than most.  It’s an official training day.  I’ll be at the High School Track.  I’ll be running strides (100m pickups) for the first time. I have a print out of what I’m supposed to do, but I know I won’t need it.  The training is committed to memory:

  1. 15 easy minutes
  2. 4 strides
  3. 4 1:00 repeats @ 7:45 pace
  4. 15 minutes easy

It’s 5:10am.  Time to put down the coffee and get out the door.

On some of our longer runs, Kevin shared his sister’s experience with ice baths. I had also read about them in Runners World, but had never considered trying one. That changed last Sunday. Here’s the story I shared with my running friends:

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I felt pretty good after our run yesterday – probably better than I deserved to feel given the amount of fluid lost. However, as I was climbing the stairs to grab a shower my legs started to do the lactic acid shuffle. I ended up taking one step @ a time wincing w/ each footfall.

I made it into the bathroom, took one look @ the tub and said .. yeah – I’m going to give it a try. I walked back downstairs to warn Michelle about my plans. I wanted to pre-explain the icy-screams she would undoubtedly hear. Of course, the stairs were a mistake. I had to white-knuckle the railing just to make sure I wouldn’t go ass over tea-kettle down the stairs (my grandmother always used that phrase – ass over tea-kettle .. I’m not sure what it means, but it seems fitting here)

5 minutes later I was easing myself into a few inches of cold water (no ice – I had emptied the bucket that morning for the cooler, and the cooler was still outside). I left the water running and gradually my legs were fully submerged.

I was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t take anytime @ all to get used to the water temperature. It was actually relaxing sitting there, but I have to admit, I sat there for a few minutes and didn’t feel any different. It was fine, but I didn’t feel like my legs were cured.

I decided that 10 minutes was enough time. I was starting to prune up, and honestly, felt a little dorky sitting in the tub. I’m 6′2″/190lbs – a pretty big guy. I think our tub was designed for someone 4 feet tall and 70 pounds. I took up nearly every inch of available space in the tub.

I stood up, grabbed my towel, stepped out of the tub and … walked downstairs pain free. it was amazing! 10 minutes earlier, I was wincing with every step. Now I was bounding down the stairs. Just to test it, I walked back upstairs .. no pain @ all.
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I wrote that last Sunday – July 2. I felt so good on Monday that I made a promise to take another ice bath this Sunday. It’s Monday morning, and my legs feel fantastic – my butt is a big knot, but I expected that based on the hill workout we had yesterday.

My secrets to a successful ice bath:

  • get in the tub while the water is still filling – it will cut down on the shock of the cold water
  • there’s no right amount of ice – whatever’s in the tray is fine – just make sure the water is cold. if you have no ice, just enjoy the cold water
  • bring something to drink with you in the tub – I’ve developed a taste for orange juice after my runs
  • give yourself @ least 10 minutes in the tub after the water has filled to a reasonable level (over the tops of your legs)
  • just relax .. I make sure to warn my family what I’m doing. Otherwise, I have a 2-year-old pounding on the bathroom door trying to get in to see what Daddy’s doing in the bathroom.

I plan to keep experimenting with ice baths. Yesterday, as the water from the tub was draining, I took a hot shower (I was already wet, so why not?). It felt great – the mix of cold water still on my feet and hot water hitting my back and face – very therapeutic.

and we start w/ an official day off.

That’s OK. I need a day off today. Keith, Rick and I ran hills yesterday and my butt muscles are one big knot this morning.
My original training plan was supposed to start two weeks ago, but I found a different program on Runners World thats a bit more inline with what I’ve been doing over the past few months. This plan incorporates a lot more track work, strides and tempo runs. I’ll have @ least two days @ the track and one more running hills. It calls for 4 runs of 20 miles or better. It happens to be a 16-week plan instead of 18, but I’m not concerned with the shorter time span – I’ve been running 38-45 miles for the past two months and have no worries about fitness level.

On a side note – I’m not sure why I haven’t written in a while. I’ve been in a mental funk, and simply didn’t have the inspiration to write anything (not that this post is very inspired).