The Three Soldiers, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington DC:
The Three Soldiers, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington DC:
I think my PR goal for this marathon may be in jeopardy due to a bum ankle. When I went for a 7 mile run on Tuesday, my ankle was starting to hurt a little, but it wasn’t anything major, and it wasn’t a problem to run through it. The next morning, I wanted to go to the November Project event in the morning, so I laced up my shoes and went down to the Lincoln for the 5:30am workout. We did some stair runs, and towards the end, I felt the ankle pain amplifying. I ran the three miles back home,and then later that evening, I played basketball. So in the span of 24 hours, I ran about 10 miles straight up, did another mile or two up and down the stairs of the Lincoln, and I played back-to-back games of basketball. So yeah, I think I overdid it in one day.
On Thursday, my ankle pain was pretty bad, and it continued through the weekend. At first, I thought it might be another frustrating stress fracture, but today the pain has subsided significantly, and I think it might just be tendonitis. I still want to rest the ankle until it is complete healed, but that meant me missing some significant miles this week. I was supposed to do (or attempt to do) a 20 mile run this weekend, but I had to sit it out.
I can do one of two things. Well, one of three things, though the third isn’t an option for me. The first is to continue with the marathon as planned, but go in fully expecting not to PR it. The second is to shift down to the half-marathon, and put my efforts into the Rehoboth Marathon in December. The third is to just defer my Baltimore Marathon entry entirely until next year and cut my losses for running at all in Baltimore.
The decision is going to be based largely on how I feel. I am resting this ankle until I feel 100%. If I feel better in the next few days, I’m going to push forward with running the marathon. If I don’t, then I’ll decide whether to do the half or to just defer it til next year.
I have to admit, towards the middle half of the official training, I started to slip a little. Marathon training is time intensive–it starts to transition from the point where the runs themselves aren’t the hardest part of the training, but rather, the hard part becomes the time you need to go on the runs, and the amount you have to eat and sleep to prepare for the next one. I know it sounds super lame to complain about sleeping and eating, but it really is the hardest part of the training.
The other thing that I’ve noticed is that I have not been doing much strength training, and it’s starting to show. I’m losing weight, which was never a goal of mine as I started this adventure, but I feel like I need to get back to some serious weight training once I finish up Rehoboth. So starting in December, I’ll probably run for maintenance, doing 4 or 5 short runs of 6 miles, and then work on building back my strength. I also am going to come up with a more sophisticated plan for next year’s marathons. The goal is still to run two marathons in 2016, three in 2017, and so on.
So the miles this week: a very low 9.91 miles (though the NP stair workout may have added one or two miles to that).
GOAL FOR NEXT WEEK
This feels like the first time my goal for next week isn’t “just keep continuing with the plan.” Rather, the goal this week is to heal, heal, heal. I hope that my ankle feels better by Wednesday, and then I can try and pick it up. As tough as it’s going to be to run this marathon now, I have to keep in mind that I’ve actually run more miles now than I did before my first marathon early in 2015. And though that first marathon was no walk in the park, I was able to get it done in the mid-fours. So all hope isn’t lost, but I really wanted to break the four hour threshold on this race.
TWIR (THIS WEEK IN RUNNING)
Obviously, I am bummed about my ankle injury. But that happens. I remember when I ran my first marathon, I read somewhere that your goal should be to just enjoy it, because if and when you run your next one (and the next after that), you are going to be so focused on PRing or on another milestone that you’re going to be disappointed if you don’t hit your goal. That’s totally true for me. I’ll only truly celebrate if I PR my race, and if I break four-hours, I’ll celebrate a little extra. So right now, the goal is to beat my previous time of 4 hours, 32 minutes, 4 seconds. If I’m honest, in my mind, my long term goal is to qualify for Boston, and until I get there, I’ll always be chasing something. Maybe I’ll always be chasing something, regardless of how things turn out.
Not a whole lot happened this week. I was pretty busy at work, but that’s the norm and I don’t mind it. Plus, I really like my job, so I like to work hard at it. On Thursday, the baby was playing a joke on Jess. We were about to go to bed, and all of a sudden, Jess got very nauseous. Basically, the baby was moving, and because of that, it must have triggered some acute nausea response. It came and went really quickly, but after Jess was feeling better, I put my hand on her stomach and I swear that I could feel the baby move. It was such a cool feeling. I started (jokingly) scolding the baby, and Jess went into full on protective mom mode telling me (joking, I think) not to talk to her child like that. Moments like that make all the stresses in your life disappear. I can’t wait to meet him or her.
Jess and I spent the weekend finishing up Season 4 of The Wire, and we started Season 5. Man, that is such a great show. I wasn’t really into at first, but it’s just fantastic. I know I’m light years behind the curve on recognizing that, but better late than never, huh? Also, a friend of mine had a very astute insight–he said that I should watch the series soon, as it might soon go from being still somewhat mainstream to more of a old school reflection of American pop culture.
Michigan is still dominating the early college football season, as is Clemson. It’s probably the first time (and only time) that both of my favorite teams are ranked in the top 5. Let’s see how it continues into October..
View of the Lincoln post-November Project, Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC:
Navy Pier, Chicago, IL:
Millennium Park, Chicago, IL:
Cloudgate (aka “The Bean”), Millennium Park, Chicago, IL:
City Center, Washington DC:
This was yet another low mileage week. Not as low as the numbers might suggest, but still pretty low. If the Baltimore Marathon does not go well, I’ll end up looking to this week and last week as the reason why.
This was a low week primarily due to some work travel I had. I went out to Chicago to present at a conference, and that took my Friday offline. I did manage to get an 11 miler out there though on a beautiful run along Lake Shore Drive on Saturday morning:
The highlight of the week, by far, was on Wednesday morning. For a while I had been meaning to check out a workout with the November Project. So on Wednesday, I got up at 5am and headed down to the Lincoln for a 5:29 workout. The morning was beautiful. Early enough to where there weren’t many people at all on the Mall, and with clear skies you could make out the Little Dipper. When I got to the Lincoln (about a minute or two late) he November Project group had began warming up. There were about a hundred people in a circular formation jumping up and down loosening up. I joined in with them, and shortly after, one of the leaders made a few announcements. First she asked if anyone in the crowd was there for the first time, then if any of the first timers came by themselves. Basically just me and this othe dude fell into that category. So they had me stand in the middle of the circle while everyone chanted my name. Talk about a surreal feeling. 5:30am on the steps of the Lincoln, with not a person on the magnificent Mall other than these 100 or so people I’ve never met, chanting my name just steps from where Dr King delivered his iconic speech. What a cool memory.
The organization is just great. Super welcoming of anyone who is new and anyone of any age or fitness level. Their slogan is Just Show Up, and it’s kind of cool to workout with such a positive and supportive group of strangers. Definitely my kind of people. I’ll be attending these events regularly for sure (plus, you start off your workouts with a nice big “fuck yeah”– doesn’t get much better than that).
The actual workout was a good one. We started at the base of the Lincoln, paired off and did one run up and down the steps. On the way down, myself and my partner would do one push-up each. The. You run up and down twice, and at the bottom we expanded our group to four and did two push-ups each. Then up and down three times, expanded to eight and did three push-ups each. So forth until we were at a group doing five. I think the workout was called an apex push workout.
Oh, and here was the view as we were working out:
After the workout, I decided to run 3.1 miles home. All in all, I’d say I probably ran about 4.5 miles that day.
So with that there were only two runs this week. The November Project run and the 11 miler in Chi-town. Below is a summary, but here it is: 14.5 miles over two runs.
GOAL FOR NEXT WEEK
Really gotta try and stick with staying on the week’s training schedule. I’m behind, I know, and my chances for a sub-4 is going to be tough, but there’s still time and marathon running is a mind over matter endeavor as much as anything. So I’m going to keep pushing this week, with an eye not to overdo it.
TWIR (THIS WEEK IN RUNNING)u
I already got into the highlights above, but Wednesday was a great experience with The November Project. I just felt like the attitude of the group was my kind of think. Work hard, stay positive, lift people up, and bring people along to collectively accomplish a tough goal. I am really excited to continue hanging out with this tribe of people.
On Thursday afternoon, I flew out to Chicago to attend and present at an Intellectual Property conference. I had to participate on a panel related to IP issues surrounding wearables and the Internet of Things. It was a great experience, and I got a chance to get to know others in the industry. I ended up staying the weekend. Jess flew out on Friday night after work to meet me, and we spent the weekend tooling around Chicago. We took an architecture boat tour, strolled down Michigan Ave, met up with a good friend and his wife from college, and ate some good food (including a fantastic brunch near the Magnificent Mile). The hotel we were at was pretty centrally located, and that made a huge difference. We felt like we could alternate between exploring and coming back to the hotel to relax.
Here are some pictures from the trip. It was a pretty great weekend.
This was a pretty limited week for running, except for the fact that I attempted my 20 miler today. I was only able to get through 17, but I mainly stopped because I was concerned that I had not followed the training plan closely enough to warrant a big jump in my training.
I only hit two runs this week, a 12 miler and a 17 miler. Although I am confident I can finish my upcoming marathon, I think my PR may be in jeopardy. I think it’s going to be close. My PR right now is 4:32:04, which is at a pace of around 10 mins 23 seconds a mile. Today during my 17 miler, my pace was 9 mins 57 seconds a mile, and I was dropping towards the end. So let’s see what happens.
Here’s my week summary: total was 29.74 miles over two runs. I definitely need to run more frequently during the week. Two runs a week, even at high mileage isn’t a good training game plan. But overall, I still feel good.
GOAL FOR NEXT WEEK
Keep on truckin’
THIS WEEK IN RUNNING (TWIR):
Not too big of an eventful week here. Jess is back in full swing at work, and she’s settling into her school year routine. On Friday, we went to dinner with some friends and we found out that they too are expecting their first baby, a month after us! On Saturday, we watched some football and then went to a baby shower in the evening. Today is the 15th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, and in DC the national triathlon is going on today, I think to be timed with this important date. Hard to believe that it’s been 15 years. In some ways it feels like much longer, actually, which isn’t often the case for me when I think that some event happened “X” years ago. Time seems to always appear to fly by, but so much has happened in my life and in the country since then that pre-9/11 seems like a generation ago.
As for my obligatory “where was I on 9/11 post”: I was a freshman in college. I had just started classes for about a week, and I was very much in the midst of adjusting to the college lifestyle. During my freshman year at Michigan I lived on North Campus, where the engineering school is, but since I was a freshman almost all of my classes were on the way-more-fun Central Campus. So I along with the other freshman up in Bursley Hall had to take a shuttle between North and Central. I had a physics lab from 10am-noon, and for my 18-year old self, a 10 oclock class on Central seemed SO early. I’d typically sleep in until about 9:15 or so, shower and change really quickly, hop on the 15 minute bus ride and then haul it to class. Yes, from a young age I never was a good planner. Anyway, by the time I got on the bus, several of the attacks had already happened, but I hadn’t turned on the news before I left. I vaguely remember over hearing from someone on the bus about a car bomb that had gone off outside the Pentagon. I didn’t really put it together as something that might be happening in the real world–I kind of wrote it off to something related to some history class or something the dude might have been taking.
I proceeded to my physics lab, and there was no hint from anyone that anything had happened. I remember working on this lab project related to momentum. My lab partner and I had these pucks on a wooden board, similar to what you’d see in a bar game of shuffle puck but without edges for the pucks to fall off. We’d place one puck in the center of the board and hit it with another puck while measuring its velocity and the velocity of the pucks after impact, and then we’d prove out the law of conservation of momentum taking into account the friction loss. I go into all this detail not to nerd out (entirely), but rather to make a point for exactly how much detail I remember from that day. As an engineer I had tons of labs throughout college, but I don’t remember any of them as vividly as this one. I also remember my lab partner was wearing a white sweater and was the only girl in the class. I remember making awkward small talk with her, but her not being interested whatsoever in whatever I was trying to accomplish by striking up a conversation.
Class ended at noon without incident, and then I had to go to the registrar’s office to get off the wait list for the physics lab class (I was on the wait list, but after going to that class, my lab instructor waved me in). When I went to the registrar’s office, the woman there had this panicked look on her face and said to me “You need to go home immediately. The University is closed. Classes are cancelled. There’s a bomb threat for the University.”
I remember reacting a little nonchalantly–like it was some sort of joke someone called in or something. I went to the bus stop to catch the Bursley-Baits bus back up to North Campus, and I was one of a very few people who was even walking around outside at that point. The bus ride is a complete haze, but I must have heard something about the attacks during my ride because I remember rushing back to my dorm to get to my TV and I saw like 6 people in my dorm room with my roommate huddled around the TV. I asked this guy Mike what had happened and he said “the World Trade Center is gone.” By that point, I realized that something very serious had happened, but when he said that the WTC was gone, I didn’t realize that he meant literally. I remember the annoyance in his voice when I said “was it bombed?” His response was “no, it’s literally not there any more.” Then I saw a clip on the news showing the collapse of the towers, one at a time. I remember my immediate reaction was “this looks like a movie.” And then I remember it immediately dawning on me–this was definitely not a movie and this was not a controlled demolition. There were people inside those towers when they fell.
The other vivid feeling I remember from that day was seeing on the news an animated graphic that was showing the flight path from one of the hijacked flights. I think the graphic showed the plane was over Ohio or something, which freaked me out being close to Michigan, and then it made this WICKED 180 degree turn and headed back towards the east coast. It was at that moment when I realized we were at war. Something about seeing the way that plane turned around so quickly gave me this immediate connotation that whatever was going on was very deliberate and malicious and coordinated. The next day, The Michigan Daily issued its publication with the front page saying “our society changes as of today.” How true that would be.
The rest of the days after kind of just ran together. Many professors had many discussions in classes about it. Being such a politically active campus, there were countless discussions with friends and random people alike about what our views were, our agreements and disagreements, the all-nighter conversations that define dorm life in your early college years.
A significant memory that came in the weeks after the attacks happened at the first Michigan football game in the post-9/11 world. I remember sneaking down to pretty close to the front row in the student section. Michigan was playing Western Michigan. At some point during the game, they asked for a moment of silence, and it was so quiet, you could hear the wind howling. It was such an eerie experience–being in a stadium of just under 110,000 people, and it being so quiet that you could hear a whisper. I remember the stadium singing “America the Beautiful” together too.
Obviously a lot has happened since those days. Everyone has a “where was I” story, it’s something that defines our living in this time in the United States. For me, a freshman in college, at a school far from home without knowing a single person on campus, it was quite a defining experience. It was strange, experiencing all of this without any friends or family close by, but in a strange way, it was almost like an external announcement or verification of my adulthood. If I’m honest, in some ways I did not process the gravity of the day in a way I might have in more mature years, but something about the outward world changing irrevocably around the same time my personal world was changing with me leaving home, that time in September marks a definitive before and after moment. The only thing that comes in the same Universe as that was in September 2008, a few weeks into my first real job of my life after law school, Lehman Brothers failed and the stock market crashed, precipitating the Great Recession and a major period of hard times and uncertainty in the world. It was another time in my life where a major world event coincided with a major transition point in my life.
Today, 15 years later, I reflect not only on what has happened in our country–from the first year of a Bush presidency to the last year of an Obama presidency–but also what has happened to me personally. During my 17 miler today, I took it all in, running through the streets of DC. From our condo in DC I thought back to being that freshman–wide-eyed, kind of lost, kind of scared, ambitious, uncertain, optimistic, eager, self-conscious and self-assured. In 15 years, a lot has happened. A lot more will happen in the next 15, I am sure. I wonder how I will look back at this time, and how we as a country and society will look back at this time. What a ride it’s been.
During one of my runs this week, I was thinking about why I have this addiction to running. I’ve realized that I can’t really go a week without going for a run. Otherwise, I get really antsy. I’ve been trying to figure out why this is. I think I’ve learned that on these long runs, it gives me time to myself, to learn about my strength and weaknesses, mental and physical tendencies, motivations and doubts, celebrations and self-criticism. I had this clairvoyant moment while running down Capitol Hill on one of my runs (probably the only time in recent memory that something clairvoyant has happened on the Hill–hey-oh!) that running allows myself time for it to just be me and myself out there, with a self-imposed goal and a bunch of inner personality perspectives joining together or working at odds (or both) to make that goal achievable. So, running as a way of self-discovery, that’s the newest thing on my mind when I hit the pavement.
This week was a good one. I started out the week with a run after work through Federal Hill in Baltimore. It was a quick 5 miler, and the whole time the run didn’t really feel right. But I got it done, and at the end of the day, the feeling of pushing past a bad run is worth a million bucks. I did manage to get a few cool pictures of the office:
Under Armour Global HQ, Locust Point, Baltimore:
On Thursday, I had my longest run of the week. But that pales in comparison to what happened earlier that day. Thursday was one of the happiest days of my life, and no hyperbole is intended. Jess and I went for our 12 week ultrasound, and we saw a picture of our baby. It was something that’s just unbelievable. It sounds really cliche, but I could not describe how I felt even if I tried. You could see the baby kicking, flailing his or her arms and doing barrel rolls. What an unforgettable moment.
I’ve mentioned this before, we are both so excited for this new chapter in our lives. I’m trying to stay grounded and measured in how I talk about all of this publicly, and so I may or may not write much updates here. But Thursday, man, what a great day that was. I can’t wait to love that kid once we meet.
On Saturday, I ran for the first time with a run group meetup called “DC Striders.” We met in Dupont Circle and did a loop up Rock Creek Park. It ended up being around 11 miles for me, mainly because I ran home afterwards. But it was fun to run with other people, even if that just means you’re all running to the same place together without too much interaction. Towards the end of the route, I did meet and run with these two cool dudes, one of whom ran around 10 miles pushing his little girl in a stroller, which I thought was pretty awesome and bad ass. I’ll definitely be joining for more runs as much as my schedule allows. Also on the list in terms of group runs, I’d like to do a workout with the November Project in DC. Actually, now that I think about it, tomorrow is a holiday, and if they’re out, I’ll probably go tomorrow and see what’s up.
Today I went for a run with Jess. Well, I ran while she biked along side me. Obviously, she’s been taking it easy with everything, but it was a lot of fun for us to get out on a nice day. We biked down to the National Mall, to the Jefferson Memorial, over the 14th street bridge, down the GW Parkway trail and over the Arlington Bridge to end at the Lincoln Memorial.
It was a gorgeous day to run along the GW Parkway:
Anyway, here is a recap of the runs from this very happy week (8/3- to 9/4): 34.89 miles.
GOAL FOR NEXT WEEK
I guess I’m half way through the 12 week training plan. It doesn’t feel that way. Truth be told, I feel pretty good, but could feel a little better. I think my cardio conditioning is good, but I’m worried about distance. I still haven’t gone longer than 14 miles, but this upcoming week calls for a 20 miler, so let’s see how that works out.
Oh, not sure if I mentioned this, but I signed up for the Rehoboth Marathon, which is on December 3rd, a full seven weeks after the Baltimore Marathon. Let’s see how that turns out. I feel like I can do this double, but we’ll find out soon enough.
I’ve also been thinking about my game plan of getting to 51 marathons in a reasonable amount of time. I’m thinking, each year, I’ll increase the number of marathons I run by 1. So, this year I’m doing two, next year three then four, five, six…until I get to 49 (plus the two I already ran). This means that it’ll take me around 9-10 years to complete it all. Let’s see, but it’s just a thought. Maybe I’ll accelerate that time line. Classic getting ahead of myself.
TWIR (THIS WEEK IN RUNNING)
Yeah, it was a great week. Just see the above ultrasound picture. Seeing that kid moving and flipping around during our ultrasound was a life changing experience. I’m so thankful for that. Given everything that has happened this year, I feel like I’ve aged 10 years in 2016. There’s still some runway left in 2016, and who knows what life will throw my way, but I think I’ll always remember this year as one where I stared down some pretty dark holes, but also learned a lot about trying (and often failing) to summon strength to move forward.
The funny thing is, as hard as this year has been, it absolutely pales in comparison to things that other people go through–far worse things with far worse outcomes. Even though it was a trying year for me, it was very tough for so many other people in ways that I can’t even imagine. I don’t know how people who have it so much worse than I do find the strength to go on. But they do. And so, with the ups and downs of this year, I truly look at 2016 as a gift. This year has changed me. It has given me a new perspective in life. Every day, every single day, good or bad, before I fall asleep, I think of the three best things about that day, and I thank God for those moments. I wake up every morning with a personal prayer and a hope to capture and squeeze some meaning out of the day. Sometimes, it’s the running that gives it to me. If I’m honest too, some days, in spite of my intentions, the perspective eludes me and I fall into old habits of “phoning it in.” But overall, I think that this new outlook on life has forced me to see each day, each opportunity in a different way.
Also, I find myself thinking often about people who experience tragedy, those who get blindsided by it, and those who see its slow onset too, and I wonder how people have the strength to soldier on. I have learned that human beings are both simultaneously very strong and very fragile. One single rogue cell out of a trillion can wreak havoc on your body, but your individual body, mind, spirit and willpower are also stronger than anything in the world. I have learned that emotions are temporary, so when you come across good times, celebrate the fuck out of them. When you come across bad times, grieve the fuck out of them. But in both cases, those emotions hold the air for a brief moment, be that a second, minute, hour, day or year. But it will fade. What will last is what you leave behind. I have learned that sometimes it’s the smallest things–a smile from a stranger on the way to the 8th floor oncology ward, an act of generosity to allow a young mother cut the line at Wendy’s to order her dinner faster, a conversation with your seat neighbor on a plane, shared silence with your partner, an honest conversation with friends, a night out to take off the edge, a simple 4 mile run by yourself in the early morning–those things matter. They matter to yourself and they matter to other people. And being there, being present, and just showing up for the people that you care about goes a long way. And asking friends how they are, without fear of how they will react if they are going through difficulties, just asking someone how they are, goes a long, long way.
I read a comment somewhere once that was talking about Gandhi’s “be the change” quote. The logic behind the person’s comment was that if you want to change the world, well the world to you is only what you experience, and so if you act the change, then you are quite literally changing the world as you know it. This year, also, I learned the difference between what’s important and what matters. Important things are the ones need to be done and should be done, issues like advancing your career or pushing hard on your ambitions, accruing wealth or power, or political capital or getting that raise, new car, new home, etc.. But what matters, man, there are only very few things that go on that list.
I don’t really know how I got to typing about all that, but it’s just stuff on my mind since this was such a good week. My mom has been getting better. She’s responding very well to her therapy, and we are so thankful for that and are hopeful for even more improvement. Jess and I are entering our 13th week of pregnancy, and that is just getting more and more exciting with each passing day.
On a monumentally less important note, but an exciting one, college football is finally here. It’s the one sport that I consider a life hobby. It’s on my bucket list, maybe when I retire, maybe earlier, to attend some storied college football venues. Maybe it’s the fact that I grew up in the south, or maybe it’s something more, but than fandom is just something core to my identity. I posted something on Facebook about this last year–I think it goes to a deeper identity issue for me–that college football fandom was a quick and neutral way for me and my family to assimilate and feel part of American culture. There’s something very deep in that idea for me. Maybe I’ll write about it here one day. But yeah, Michigan and Clemson won their openers, so that was icing on a great week for me.
Like I said before, emotions are temporary and fleeting, but when you have the good times, you damn well better celebrate them. So I’m celebrating these times. And I’m thankful for the grace that’s come down on me to allow me to do so. No doubt life will get hard again, I am sure of it, and I’ll fight those battles as they come, but right now I am happy and I am thankful for the gift of perspective that 2016 has given me.