Lions Tigers and Squares

Staggering around like a drunken sailor in a bad storm, it took me a good ten minutes to finally admit defeat and limp into the Gate River 15k finish line medical tent.  Through chapped lips I kept telling my team mates and friends I would be alright, as a voice in my head kept saying “you know you’re not ok.”


Internal monologue.
You need to go into that tent.
I don’t want to.
Whats the square root of 169?
13.  Doesn’t matter, I’d only ask myself questions I knew the answer to.
Chris told me he read you release DMT right before you die.  Am I about to die?
What, are there researchers giving surveys at peoples deathbeds?
I feel really lucid, which means I’m going to die
And so on.  You’re reading this, which means I didn’t die, unless artificial intelligence has finally gotten smart enough to fool you.  Of course a machine would deny its own existence. Or would it?

My temperature in the medical tent was 103.1 taken well, back there.  I hoped after they cooled me off for half an hour with ice and wet towels that an oral thermometer would suffice for the required re-measurement.  I also knew that using one would be bad science. Needless to say, they used good science.

The ice-filled Lowes painters hat I donned before the start made me look kind of like Joan Benoit orDave Wottle and made me want to Never Stop Improving, but it did little to prevent me from achieving critical core temperature.  Either way, there’s something badass about pushing yourself to the limit and getting heat exhaustion to prove it.  Finishing 19th, I was initially disappointed, but while enjoying the Jacksonville afternoon at a friend’s party I drew positives.

Tyler Pennel (c), Griff Graves (r) and I combined for a second place team score
at the Gate River Run / US Road 15k Championships

Never let anyone, including yourself, take an all-out effort away from you.  I’ve questioned my effort and toughness after a bad race before, and it’s not a good place to go.  You don’t suddenly just get less tough.  The killer instinct you’ve honed in countless training sessions and races doesn’t go away.  Unless you’re Prefontaine, you have one, maybe two critical moments in each race.  Whether to follow an early surging pace or to start kicking far away from the finish, for example.  You have to trust that instinct will surface at that moment, and if things don’t go your way, realize that your body can only do what it can do.

Mistrust in your grit is often false and destructive self-analysis.  That mistrust probably accounts for most of many people’s post bad race anxiety, and it sucks worse when it’s shaken not stirred with pain into a cocktail of depression.  I’ve found the quickest way to stoke the fire isn’t by agonizing over results or splits or other people or past, more glorious races, but (this may sound cliche) actually looking for positives in the race you just stumbled through.  They won’t be positives you’ll hang on your wall, but you’re not weak for settling for sub par achievements either.  As weird as it may seem, running myself into a medical tent was my positive in Jacksonville.

Gate River was our final fall and winter foray into cross country and overdistance.  Now it’s time for a later than usual return to the track.  Imagine a full sized, half starved tiger released towards a huge slab of red meat on a cedar stump across a gently sloping downhill grassy field – that’s me.  It’s a calculated debut designed to extend the season well into August and even September.  Sans indoor racing and with a week-long break after the Gate River run, my legs should be well prepared for the hands-to-knees acidic workouts and races ahead.  I’ll begin with a 1500 at Princeton next Friday against some velocitous tigers, lions, and other assorted beasts.  Can’t wait.

Now for what we call running porn.  The last two weeks have seen some of the best training I’ve ever done with Zap Fitness.  I won’t go into details.  But two weeks ago as the gray mountain skies sent flakes of snow laterally across the whitecap kissed aqueduct of lonely Bass Lake, five 1500 meter repeats on dirt working from 4:26 to 4:19 began a series of fitness-bumping sessions.  That Sunday in better weather we went 18 miles on the long run with a nice 5:13 final mile.  The first major track session of the year was with Tyler that next Wednesday, run entirely “ins and outs style” (faster straights, slightly slower curves).  Beginning with 2400m at 4:40 pace (7:00) we went on to run 8 x 800m working gradually from 2:13 to 2:07 for an anaerobic bank deposit.  More training with Tyler on Saturday saw a 4:15 fifteen hundred on Bass Lake and threshold climbs in the carriage trails of the park.

Zap Fitness practice on Bass Lake in Blowing Rock.  L-R Griff Graves, Joe Stilin, John Simons, Brandon Hudgins, Tyler Pennel, Chris Moen, George Alex.

Hump day this week brought with it one of the hardest sessions I’ve done in some time, mainly because of its length at a fairly intense rhythm.  Everything was run back and forth on a slightly hilly paved one kilometer section of the brand new Middle Fork Greenway that will eventually connect Blowing Rock and Boone.  Bouts of 2 kilometers, 6 x 1 kilometer, and 2 kilometers formed the meat of the session, the five of us averaging 5:55 for the 2k’s and 2:53 for the 1k’s.  Tyler and I threw in some economy (speed) with 3 x 600m “snowballs” (getting faster every 200m) and 3 x 200m touching under mile race pace to finish.  We’re beginning to stir not shake together strength and speed within these sessions, and feeling fit has been feeling good.

After Princeton it’s the trip to Palo Alto, CA for the Payton Jordan Invite and a 5000 opener.  I’ve run there the past two years and it’s been one of the best distance meets in the US every year.  From there we’ll head to the Oxy High Performance meet in LA two weeks later and then begin gearing up for US Outdoors later in June.  Those months are sure to bring more good tales and hopefully less thermometers.  Thanks for reading!

Next few races:

Date Race Name Location Venue / Distance
April 17 Larry Ellis Invite Princeton, NJ Track 1500
May 2 Payton Jordan Invite/span> Palo Alto, CA Track 5000
May 14 Hoka One One Midle Distance Classic Los Angeles, CA Track 1500

Here we are on the second of six one kilometer repeats on Wednesday:

First ever ZAP workout on the new Middlefork GreeenwayTrail which will ultimately connect Boone to Blowing Rock. This is the Tweetsie Railroad section recently opened.
Posted by ZAP Fitness on Wednesday, April 8, 2015