Sunday, August 23, 2009

"This is no time for ease and comfort.... "

It has been just over five years since I started running. I have set a few goals along the way, running my first mile, or 5K, or marathon. I always approached each goal without much concern. I just want to finish was my objective. Even as I improved and became competitive in my age group, I still focused on the "big picture". I have always said, "when this stops being fun, that's the time I stop running." No, I am not at that point.

The point that I am at is that for the first time I have a very specific goal. As most of you know, it is to qualify for the Boston Marathon. "QUALIFY", that's the scary word. In order to get to Boston, I "MUST" finish my chosen race in a specific time in order to "QUALIFY".

I will be running the Mohawk-Hudson Marathon in Albany, NY, on October 11th. I ran this course last year and set a PR. I had no pressure to run a specific time. It was simple, run, have fun, and see what happens. The results were good, I took almost 20 minutes off my previous PR. This year I need to repeat with an improvement of 15 minutes to be safe.

I have been training hard. Most of the early part of the year was spent on speedwork. My 5K, 10K, 15K and half-marathon times have all improved. In 2009, I have set a PR at each of these distances. The last distance is the marathon. I feel very good physically. I have not had any injury issues. I do have two more "long" runs of 20+ miles prior to the marathon. It has been hot here in Orlando, no surprise. It was hot last year as well! Long runs are so much more difficult in the hot weather. You have to respect that thin line between running at your race pace and not pushing to the point of heat exhaustion.

As much as I try to tell myself, "it's just another marathon", it is not. I don't want to lose sleep over this and I haven't as yet, but it does play on my mind. I can control many of the aspects of this marathon. Knowing the course will be the biggest positive factor. I love running in "cold" weather. Last year the temperature was 44 degrees on marathon morning. I would love to have a carbon copy of that day. No control over that.

I have had tremendous support from my running group and friends who realize what it will mean to "QUALIFY". Training runs, hundreds of miles over the years. Friends have promised to make the trip to Boston for the marathon, now that's pressure to produce. It is also a tremendous motivation. I know when I run Boston, it will be for many runners, not just myself.

This post was more of me "venting" some of my emotions. Will I feel better? Will it help? I guess I have to wait until Sunday, October 11th.

The title for this post comes from a quote by Sir Winston Churchill. "This is no time for ease and comfort. It is the time to dare and endure."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

"Anniversary" of Hurricane Charley

Now here is a combination that doesn't mix too well, running + hurricane. It was 5 years ago today that Hurricane "Charley" came across Central Florida and inflicted considerable damage. I had been in Orlando for 5 years and had never experienced a full "blown" hurricane. Times they were a changin'.

That year, 2004, was my first year of running. Maybe I upset the "gods" with my return to running and they were going to try to blow me away. Not only did "Charley" come across Orlando, but "Frances" and "Jean", followed close behind. It was a very unsettling time. I was fortunate to escape any damage to my home. Our neighborhood received some damage, but not to the extent of other cities. Winter Park, the home base for our running group, was hit very hard.

Once the storm had passed I could not believe the number of trees that had been torn from the ground. Huge oak trees, some hundreds of years old were now blocking streets and in some cases on top of homes.

We needed to run! We needed to be able to see our friends and know that they were OK. A number of practice runs were canceled and several organized 5K's had to be rescheduled. When we were able to meet for a run, it was an adventure run. Many areas still had entire trees across our regular running routes. We would try to follow an alternate, only to find it blocked too. The street I recall being the worst was Pennsylvania Ave., in Winter Park. It seemed that we could run about 50 feet before another tree brought our run to a halt. I'm not sure if we ever managed to run more than a mile or two. Devastation was everywhere!

The long range forecast is that storms are "looming" in the Atlantic off the coast of Africa. We can hope and pray that we here in Orlando, the State of Florida, and the United States are spared a repeat of 5 years ago.

Bottom line, having our fellow runners to lean on made the situation a bit more tolerable. We knew we were not alone in our experience. We were and still are a "GROUP", we are still "RUNNERS". We are strong people, but we are strongest in numbers!