Monthly Archives: March 2010

Left, Right, Obliterate!

Obliterate: transitive verb, to remove utterly from recognition or memory, to remove from existence, destroy utterly all trace, indication, or significance of.

I’ve been teaching a Sunday School class on fitness and nutrition. I’m not a nutritionist or a certified fitness instructor, but I have just enough experience in these areas to be a danger to myself and others. So, someone perhaps with no more sense than I asked me to teach a class. I agreed to do it because one of my passions is to see others realize the benefits of proper nutrition and exercise and also because I have difficulty knowing when to say no. My hope, my prayer is that I can encourage even one person to live a healthier life, that even one person would be blessed, not for my benefit, but that God would be glorified. I’m also not a Bible scholar, but with God’s help even I can tie in Biblical principles on healthy living. Along with the Bible I have been using “High Performance Health” by James M. Rippe, MD as a reference to teach this class. I have found that whenever I try to be a blessing to others I somehow wind up being blessed as much or more than those I have tried to help. Teaching this class has been no different.

Dr. Rippe outlines 10 actions steps for turning your life around and moving toward what he calls high performance living. Step 2 is: “Connect with your body and mind.” The idea is to visualize success, engage in positive self talk, when you exercise use a simple meditation phrase “left, right”, “one, two”, etc. A few years ago at a seminar on how to mentally prepare for a marathon a sport psychologist used the term “no stinkin’ thinkin’.” Don’t dwell on negative thoughts, focus on the positive. Don’t let your mind get in the way of your body doing what it is capable of doing. Anyway, to make a long story short all week long I had been thinking about this stuff preparing for class, but I didn’t really think about it with regard to this race until I was in the car Saturday morning driving to the race. I was visualizing my mile split times. I was visualizing beating my old PR by a couple minutes. Out of nowhere the word obliterate popped into my mind. Yes, I would obliterate my old PR! Two minutes? Ok, perhaps obliterate is a little too strong, but I have to go with the word I was given, not some other word I wish I had.

I checked in, got my t-shirt, number and timing chip and headed back to my car which was parked about 50 feet from the start line. That my friends is reason enough to run the Costa instead of the Mini. About 40 minutes before the start I ate a chocolate hammer gel and headed out for a warm up run. I ran about 1-1/2 miles and was feeling pretty good. I returned to my car, stretched a little, and stripped off the warm up clothes. I was a little chilled in my singlet and shorts, but I was also wearing gloves and arm warmers and the sun was shining so I knew it would get warmer. I bumped into a few friends. One asked me what I hoped to do. Finish, not go out too fast and burn out in the first mile, maybe run a 1:34 or so.

One, two, three, go! At 7:08 the first mile was about 13 seconds faster than my PR pace, but it felt great! It didn’t feel too fast at all. In fact it would wind up being my slowest mile of the day. Mile 2 mostly flat, 6:51. Maybe I should pull the throttle back a smidgeon. Mile 3, pretty much up hill all the way, 7:07, throttle down? Not so much. Now I can see fellow trail runner Vernie up ahead. I rarely finish ahead of Vernie, if I can just keep him in sight. Mile 4, 6:56. I still feel great, but I have 9 miles to go. What if I burn out? Say it with me, NO STINKIN’ THINKIN’. Don’t even think about that. If it happens it happens.

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” – T.S. Eliot

I can do this. I need a meditation phrase. Left, right. Left, right, obliterate. Yes, I will maintain this pace and obliterate my PR. Left, right obliterate. I pass Vernie who it turns out isn’t having such a great day. Mile 5, 6:56. Mile 6, 7:00, still feeling pretty good, left, right, obliterate. Mile 7, 7:04, am I losing it? No stinkin, thinkin, left, right, obliterate, left, right, obliterate. Mile 8, 1st half up hill, 2nd half down hill, 6:51. I still have it! Now back on course with the ¼ marathoners, who are at mile 3 so I’m dodging walkers and beginning to pass halfers who are fading, both of which help to recharge me. Left, right, obliterate! Mile 9, 6:45, holy cow, my fastest mile of the day. I get all choked up, how truly blessed I am, thank you God. I pass the point where my calf blew out last year. No stinkin thinkin, left, right, obliterate. Mile 10, 6:48, left, right, obliterate. Mile 11, 6:47, legs are feeling it, but only 2 miles to go. Completely forgot about the endurolytes in my pocket, oh well, too late now. Left, right, obliterate, passing more runners who are fading. Been there done that and I feel their pain. Left, right, obliterate. Mildly concerned that I’m having trouble getting the footing correct. My drill sergeant would not be happy, who cares. Left, right, obliterate. Mile 12, 6:50. Only one mile to go and it’s up hill all the way. I don’t care, I’m going to give it everything I have, left, right, obliterate. Mile 13, 6:50, just a little more up hill then push hard to the finish. Left, right, obliterate. Finish, 1:30:34. I pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. I ran the last tenth of a mile at a 6:01 pace. The last 5k was only 18 seconds slower than my last 5k race time. Performance wise, this year’s Sam Costa was one of my best races ever, probably the very best ever. I finished 32 out of 447 over all and 4 out of 36 in my age group.

I don’t know if obliterate is the right word to describe what I did to my PR, which was 1:36:14, set at last year’s Costa, but obliterate was definitely the right word for my meditation. Please feel free to use it in your next race. Run Happy!

Next race is April 11th, back on the trails for the Qdoba DINO Series 15k at Washington Township Park in Avon.


Dirty Girls Gettin’ Dirty

Get your own dirty girl, these dirty girls are mine.

Warm up lap. Those "runner's high" dirty girls aren't so dirty.


Lap 1, the dirty girls are just getting warmed up.


Oh yeah, those are some dirty girls.


Dirty Girls doing their thing. Finish just ahead.

As The Mud Churns

The first race of the 2010 DINO Series was held at Eagle Creek Saturday morning. There was a record crowd. The 15k had 194 finishers which was 6 fewer than last year, but the 5k had 250 finishers, 55 more than last year. It seemed like all the regulars where there and it was nice to chat and reconnect. The course was the same as last year, not quite a full 5k. One thing that was different this year was the mud. Right from the start there was about a ¼ mile of wet mud that was a piece of cake compared to the mud near the finish. There was about a ½ mile section of ankle deep pig slop. I stopped running through this area in training a few years ago because it seemed like it was always under water. Actually the first lap through wasn’t so bad, but by the second and third lap the churning of over 400 pairs of feet had turned a wet trail into a long sheet of shoe sucking, chocolate cake batter. I did see several runners who had stopped to replace a lost shoe. I never tie my laces very tight so I was curling up my toes as I ran through trying to keep my shoes on my feet.  

I ran about a mile or more warm up which included the last few hundred yards to the finish. There is a downhill with a wood bridge at the bottom of the hill. The bridge slopes down. I like to take full advantage of gravity and usually run downhill as fast as I can. This hill is a little tricky though because of all the roots and timbers. My first foot hit the bridge and slid out but I managed to stay upright. My second foot slipped and again I managed to stay upright. With the third step I cleared the death trap and decided to loop back around to try that again. This time I used a little more control coming down the hill and slipped a little on the bridge, but felt confident I could make it through three more times.  

At the start I was eager and ready to go (think, kid on Christmas morning waiting to unwrap presents) so naturally I went out a little too fast. I managed to rein it in quickly though and gain control. The first lap went well except for the short ravine with the rope. A bottleneck developed and I got a little off course but made it through. I don’t know if that rope is for helping or hanging. First lap 21:43. At the start of the second lap my legs were already starting to feel heavy, but I decided to ignore their protests. They could rest at the finish, right now they needed to get to work. Just about 50 yards ahead I could see Steve Baber and Robert Burns. I didn’t want to pass them, but I did want to keep them in sight. The second time around I executed the rope ravine perfectly and I did catch and pass Steve and Robert. Steve seemed to be struggling to get up that  

Janet's shoes after 1 lap, note the Brooks logo, awesome!


muddy slope, but Robert quickly sped off ahead of me. A short time later I crossed paths with Trail Boy who was out training for a marathon. Right after that I lapped my friend Janet who was running the 5k. She thinks I’m crazy and she is probably right about that. I warned her about the mud up ahead. Second lap 22:04. My legs were really starting to protest at the start of the third lap, but my lungs were doing just fine. I decide to not push too hard in the mud, but save the extra effort for the easily runnable sections. This must have been my lucky day because just as I was having negative thoughts about giving in to my leg’s protests Josh Baber passed me. He wasn’t running the race but was just out having fun. Obviously had he been racing he would have been way ahead of me at this point. Anyway, he was just what I needed, a pacer. I decided I would hang with him as long as I could. While struggling to hang with Josh I started to think about Amanda Holzhausen’s marathon report in which she mentioned Isaiah 40:31. “Those who wait for the Lord will find new strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not get tired. They will walk and not become weary”. I managed to hang with Josh right up to the severe mud section. That’s where he decided to let me go it alone, but of course we all know I wasn’t alone; He was with me. I could smell the barn  

Denton's shoes after 3 laps.


now. I was churning through the mud as fast as I could without losing a shoe. Once again I caught sight of Robert Burns and gained motivation from the thought of passing him. Of course he is a very strong runner and I never did pass him, but did close the gap at the finish. Final lap 22:09. Ok legs you have earned your rest. I washed a little mud off in a puddle near the finish and then went for a mile or more cool down run. I will often jog a 4th lap of the course, but not today, three times through that mud trough was enough. After the cool down I headed into the shelter and lined up for a burrito bowl from the newest series sponsor Qdoba. Mmmm. They were also dishing out some awesomelicious brownies. I followed that up with a cup of hot chocolate and a second (smaller) burrito bowl and some nice conversation with friends both old and new.  

I was very happy with my effort. My finish time of 1:05:56 was only 12 seconds slower than last year, but because of the conditions represented a much greater effort. Overall I was 22 out of 194 and third in my age group.  

Next race is the Sam Costa Half Marathon in two weeks. Last year I PR’ed there even after pulling my calf at mile nine. If I can stay healthy I feel another PR coming… stay tuned. Run Happy!

Totally New Experience

Ran the ShamROCKin’ 5k in Rolla, Missouri this morning. The race course was mostly on the campus of Missouri University of Science and Technology (MST) which used to be called the University of Missouri at Rolla (UMR). The course was mostly on pavement, but there were hills, steps, grass, gravel, a tunnel, and a lap around the running track. My lovely and talented niece, Janelle, is a junior chemical engineering student at MST. The race was a fundraiser for a trip she is taking on spring break. She is going with a group to New Orleans to build a house. It’s refreshing to see college students doing something productive on spring break. I’m sure lots do, but all you ever see in the media are the drunken fools.   

Diaper Guy without his spear and shield.


The race started on a sidewalk outside of the Havener Center. No one, me included, seemed particularly interested in stepping up to be at the front of the pack. I think there were about 100 runners.  There was a guy in a diaper and carrying a spear  and shield (they called him a Spartan, not sure why a Spartan, MST mascot is a Miner) Anyway, diaper guy gave a rousing speech about joining him in battle. He then gave the signal to start. The ROTC fired their cannon and we were off. Right at the start there were only 4 runners ahead of me.   

Ceremonial Cannon, nice touch.


The pace wasn’t really taxing me so I passed all 4 within the first half mile. Imagine that, me in first place. This has never happened before. Fortunately there was a guy on a bike leading the way and giving me advance warning of turns and other things like steps and street traffic. I had a pretty good lead as we approached the 2 mile mark. Then we had to cross a 5 lane road but there was no cop there to stop traffic, so there we are, me and my guide waiting in the center turn lane.  

Coming off a hot lap on the track.


 I don’t know how long we were there, but it was long enough for several others to catch us. The rest was just what I needed though. When the traffic cleared I bolted and quickly built up my lead again. We soon came up on the track and had cross about 25 yards of grass and gravel to get on the track. Something about being on a track just makes me run faster and the lead widened. Once more through the grass and gravel coming off the track and now less than a mile to go. This was no time to slow down. My legs were getting heavy and the breathing more labored, but if anyone was going to pass me they would have to earn it. The last half mile was down hill for the first quarter so I was using gravity to full advantage. The last quarter was slightly up hill and I was giving 110%. Wow, first to cross the finish line. That has never happened before. I can’t expect it to happen ever again so I’m going to enjoy this moment and not dwell on thoughts of “where were all the fast runners today?” My time was not my best ever, but considering the hills, steps, and traffic stop 20:46 is good for me. 

Update: I forgot to mention, for the win I received a $20 gift card to the campus bookstore. I was going to buy myself a sweatshirt, but the bookstore wasn’t open so I gave the card to my niece. Upon returning to Columbia I went to The Alpine Shop and rewarded myself with a new 44″ fairing for my Yakima rack. It was 20% off. I then went over to Walt’s Bikes and further rewarded myself with a new pair of cycling shoes. They are the kind with the loop in back for quick mounting in triathlons. Now I just have to learn how to do that maneuver without injuring myself or others. The shoes were 30% off.  

Simple Pleasures

It doesn’t take much to trip my trigger. At times the simplest thing that may seem completely trivial, insignificant, or maybe even painful to others is more than enough to send me into a state of euphoria. Like waking up in the morning for example, even if it is earlier than I would have wanted, just being alive and being blessed with the opportunity to face the challenges of another day brings me joy. Last Saturday I went indoor rock climbing with my son and a few friends, pure joy. Too many would see the rock climbing as hard work and way too many have let their bodies go to the point they would not even be capable of attempting rock climbing. To be sure, it wasn’t easy, it was a challenge, but what fun. One of the other climbers in our group described it as “awesomafiablyfantasmic”.  I couldn’t agree more.

Of course that is not why I am writing today. No, today’s euphoria was induced by something much more trivial than waking up or rock climbing with friends and family. This Saturday I am running a 5k. Yep, that’s it! Well, actually it isn’t just the act of running the 5k, but the fact it was an unscheduled, spontaneous addition to the race schedule coupled with the fact that I will be able to wear my new shorts and singlet a week sooner than planned and voilà, the needle on the joy meter is pegged.

Ok, now the details. The race is this Saturday in Rolla, Missouri. I know what you are thinking, that is a long way to go to run a mere 3 miles. Well, yes, but it is 3.1 miles thank you very much and it is for a good cause. This is the ShamROCKin’ 5k and it is raising money for my wonderful niece Janelle and many others to go on an alternative spring break. Rather than go to Panama City and get drunk every day they will be going to Louisiana to build or repair homes. Drinking is not allowed. I’m impressed that a college junior would make that choice. When I was that age most of my time and energy were focused on finding or planning the next big party.