Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Make Some Memories

Bonus points to anybody who can figure out the artist and song that was the inspiration for the title of this post...

It's great to go out for a run to pull data. I've written two posts about it in this space. It's refreshing to be able to keep track of your training, and be able to see how you improve through the process.

But those aren't the runs you remember.

No, the runs that stick in your head are the ones where something happened. Where you broke through a wall, or where you caught a glimpse of yourself reflecting off the glass of a still lake. That's what stays with you. Those are the moments you pull out of your well in order to get the motivation to head back out the door.

With that in mind, here's a couple of my favorite runs:

When: May 25, 2008
Where: Boston, MA
What: Boston's Run to Remember Half Marathon
This was PUNISHING. I had signed up for this race with the intention of training seriously for it. Well, a week before the race, and I had put myself in semi-decent cardiovascular shape, but my running was still garbage.

Time to man up, I thought. So I did a few hill workouts, and even ran with a backpack full of gear through near 95 degree heat. Looking back, this is probably not within the top 5 smartest ideas I've had...but I was 22. (So young and full of piss and vinegar.)

Sunday came, and off I went. I held pace to run a 1:45 until mile 7, when the cramping finally kicked in. I tried gels, Gatorade, water, stretching. No dice. I'd stretch my quad, and my hamstring seized. A stretched my hamstring, and the quad went. On this went until the finish line. But I made it, and I ran through the line. That's all I could ask for.

Why I remember it: For two reasons: the misery that I was in, yet I still pushed myself to finish. If I can do it on less than a week of training, I can finish anything. That, and to remind myself that you need to put the work effort in to be able to compete seriously.

When: February 2, 2011
Where: Portland, ME
What: 60 Minute Training Run
As you can tell, this was a quite recent event for me. It was the start of my training for Rev3 Quassy, and it was the first "longish" run that I had to pull off.

Mother Nature, it seemed, would have other plans, and it snowed. And it snowed. And it snowed. It was full on blizzard time here in Maine. School? Closed. Work? Don't think about it. So I did what every rational man would do in this situation.

Time to run.

I like running through snowstorms. There's a few different reasons for this. The first, obviously, is the fact that snow is a bit softer to run on than pavement. This makes the landings a little less jarring, and forces good form on you. The second is that nobody is out on the roads as well, so you have plenty room to run on the roads.

Lastly, it makes for an epic ice beard:
Why I remember it: There's nothing more gorgeous than a city gone completely silent, outside of the sound of your feet on the ground directly underneath you, and the occasional gust of wind. Plus, if you can run through a blizzard...you can run through ANYTHING.

When: March 27, 2011
Where: Glen, NH to North Conway, NH
What: Transition Run
First, a note: this wasn't the run that it was supposed to be.

This was supposed to be a stand-alone run, 90 minutes, cruising along here in Portland. But life being what it is, I had done a whole lot of nothing in terms of training for the week. And I was run down. Soul drained. Nothing left in the tank.

So my lovely wife, being the smart one that she is, proposed that we go to New Hampshire for the weekend. Celebrate with the family for a bit. Just get away.

Well, fine. We'll go.

Smart lady.

We started the day off skiing at Attitash Mountain in Glen, NH. Hero snow. Gorgeous day. Blue skies. Warm temps. Groomers, bumps, Volkswagens, even in the park: good times to be had all over the place. We skied till about 1:45, and then I strapped on the ole Kinvaras, switched out the snow pants, and threw on the Brooks Nightlife Jacket.

Time to run.

I started off with a quick cadence, trying to fight my way uphill, before settling into a groove. No watch, no heart rate monitor, no pace read out. This was a run about testing your mind. Current Ironman World Champion Chris McCormack just wrote about how this can gauge how close to peak you are: the better you gauge time and effort without a watch, the closer you are.

I meandered my way up Route 302, then tacked onto Route 16A to get away from some traffic. It rolled a fair bit, roughly equivalent to the course I'll be seeing in Connecticut in 8 weeks.

I got down to the end of Route 16A, where I should've made my turn to head to my finish, when instead this sight greeted me:

I ran an extra bit down to the scenic vista, just to make sure I painted that picture on the canvas that is my brain, before turning and wrapping that run on up with a hellacious climb.

I figured it'd take me about 70 minutes in all. It took me 65. Not bad for an internal clock, eh?

Why I remember it: It's the prettiest run I've ever been on. I can't describe the euphoria that hit home when I rounded that corner, but I still get goosebumps thinking about it.

So what are your favorites? Or, if you have none, time to get out there and start making them.

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