Training Break #4

Why has the pleasure of slowness disappeared? Ah, where have they gone, the amblers of yesteryear? Where have they gone, those loafing heroes of folk song, those vagabonds who roam from one mill to another and bed down under the stars? Have they vanished along with footpaths, with grasslands and clearings, with nature? There is a Czech proverb that describes their easy indolence by a metaphor: "They are gazing at God's windows." A person gazing at God's windows is not bored; he is happy. In our world, indolence has turned into having nothing to do, which is a completely different thing: a person with nothing to do is frustrated, bored, is constantly searching for the activity he lacks.
- Milan Kundera


Best-laid schemes

With the 100km to be held two weekends from now, I've gone into temple sweeping mode. I'm officially off the skag (big time, and for real this time), will increase the amount of water I guzzle each day, will start to take down some sports drinks to make sure the electrolytes are in order, will cut back to one (giant) mug of highly caffeinated, dark-roasted earthy nectar each morning, will increase the protein consumption, and will start to focus some of my indolent daydreaming on the number of footfalls necessary to circumambulate Ganghwado in the dead of night.

I've been happy with the long runs I got in after the Seoul Marathon, and, up until last weekend, have felt that my fitness level would allow me to get to 70km in 7-ish hours. After that I would be in uncharted territory and hoped just to make it to the finish before the fifteen hour deadline, which seemed imminently possible. But since my knee went sour last weekend, plans have changed. I've been trying not to let my mind wander into WorstCaseScenarioville, where my joint is irreversibly damaged and I can never run again. Instead, I will take it very easily over the next few weeks, run more slowly on race day than I had previously plotted, take many more walking breaks, get as far as I can into the 100km before time expires, and plan to run another day. We'll see what happens.



- Just spent an hour in skypey conversation with Anna, Marshall, and some oldies in Calgary. Two-thirds (soon to be two-fifths) of the World's Most Adorable Nieces and Nephews. This tidbit posted here (running-related drivel) rather than OOFALWO (general Korea-living drivel) because a few times Marshall went blurring past the web-cam like Dash from The Incredibles.

- Have only been for one run in the last week, and the left knee still felt tender. Will give it a few more days of ice and rest, then have a nice conversation with it about doing the 100km run, now only 13 days away.

- Don't want to embarrass anyone from the legal department, but Sea Bass is 38 pounds lighter than it was January 1st, and I'm very proud of my little brother.


Training Break #3

The challenge is to myself and not to the mountain.
- Julie Tullis



I made the leap in perspective years ago to running ultramarathons. Long before I actually ran my first (and so far, only) ultra in August 2005, a 65km family affair we dubbed the Inaugural Waskesiu Fun Run, I started to convince myself that the runs I then considered long were short, just the beginning. This was a gradual and logical realization for me, just the next step, as it had been a decade earlier when I ran 30 minutes for the first time, then 60, then 90, then two hours, then three.

Traditionally, after running a marathon, I've taken time off, telling myself my body needed time to recover and rebuild. This has also traditionally been the time when I would let my prodigious love of food, especially anything fried or sweet, run amok - ridiculous really, as despite the occasional attempt at virtue when I would swear myself off the skag for an umpteenth time, it was never as though I had foregone any junky whims in the lead-up to a marathon. I've rested, and ate, and rested more until I could eat again. Maybe not so good for finding the Middle Way, but definitely enjoyable and certainly a routine that has worked for me.

The Seoul Marathon was five weekends ago. Since then, I have done at least a 50km run three of the last four weekends. Last Saturday I did over 60km. I've also been upping the minutes of my weekday runs. Perhaps inevitably then, this weekend, about four hours into a five hour run, my left knee, not yet on the same page as my ambition, decided that enough was enough. I walked/shuffled/grimaced my way to the end, and look now to take four or five days off to ice and rest the knee. And I've learned some lessons about moderation for the future.


Plenty of fish in the sea

Schedules have been drawn up. A race has been chosen. The running store has been visited. Excitement everywhere. Not much left to do but run and think of fresh fish puns.

Though they are technically not yet members, Sea Bass [Far East Chapter] is excited to welcome my colleagues - Meyer, Shaw, McCord, and Carver (no first names required, just like Beckham) to the ranks.


Training Break #2

Ultrarunning is about 90% mental, and the other 10% is in your head.
- Ray Zahab


Han River path

Last weekend was our penultimate long, long run weekend before a much-anticipated two week taper. We left the house early on Saturday, then ran the morning away. I ran 50km in 4:32, then took a popsicle/bathroom/stretch the hammies/down a Snickers/liberally reapply the sunscreen break before running and walking another 90 minutes. I reckon I hit 60km-ish, and was happy with the effort.

More importantly, I was exceedingly proud of Deanna, who officially unofficially ran her first ultra, as she too ran for the six hours. She, however, had the gall to look like she had energy to spare when we met at the end, as opposed to me, who looked and felt like the proverbial canine's nether regions.

After a very long hiatus, Deanna put some photos of last weekend's sojourn to Busan on OOFALWO. 


Speed kills

I've been trying to pick up the pace a bit on outings less than an hour, inserting periodic bursts of speed ['speed' here very much a relative term] in the middle or near the end of the run. Some mornings it has been a few hundred metres or so, others as much as a 4km 'time-trial'. This morning it was 1000 meters, kilometer nine of a twelve kilometer run, in 3.43. As it was nip and tuck as to whether my heart would explode before my hamstrings snapped, I was given a very visceral reminder that I am not built for speed.

The 100km run is now only 31 days away.


Training Break #1

I clearly have no compunction borrowing freely from others for the sake of this particular Shrine to Self. I blaze through my blogroll daily, and am often struck with how clever/committed/poignant/intense/witty/certifiable some people can be. Since I usually cite my sources, I prefer to think of myself more an advocate of free-market blogonomics than an out-and-out thief.

It is in this vein, and in homage to some guy I've never met or communicated with, but have read faithfully for years (first here, then here, and now here), that I start my own Training Break series. A few words, a short verse, a particular song lyric stuck in my head, a quote without context, sometimes about running, sometimes not, ideas germane to something, ideas germane to nothing, things that just are. And so it begins...

Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free,
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands,
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves,
Let me forget about today until tomorrow.
- The Incomparable Bob Dylan



Let me preface this post with the fact that, yes, I know this has nothing to do with my running. But I find myself with idle time, a few days left in Spring Break, having just turned the last truly dreadful page of the latest novel in the Jason Bourne series [he speaks at least seven languages to the level of native fluency, is a master of disguise, defeats two Iranian fighter jets while piloting a private jet through the valleys of Afghanistan, kills at least nineteen bad guys with his bare hands, and defeats the mastermind behind a worldwide terror network in a hotly contested best-of-seven match to the death of Rock-Paper-Scissors. OK, I may have made one of those up].

While wandering around the Interweb a few days ago, I saw that someone had links on their blog to the blogs of others with the same name. While my name is undeniably rare, I was able to unearth a few more of me - the former Major League Baseball all-time saves leader, a prolific novelist and O. Henry Award winner, an Academy Award-nominated film editor, the drummer for the band currently at the forefront of the burgeoning Bulgarian Surf movement, and some English rugby player with the inexplicable nickname of Alan. There may even be more of me, but I thought that five fetches were enough for now.

My legs have felt a bit heavy and stiff the last few mornings. They are bound to feel even more so after this weekend, when Deanna and I head to Busan to explore the mountain paths and beach trails along the south coast.