10/29/2012 Update

Even though it’s only been one day over two weeks since my last marathon, it feels like it could be two years.  I have not run since the marathon.  In retrospect, I think both my body and mind needed a break after the race.

I’ve enjoyed spending the extra time with family and friends.  I appreciate the support that both have given over the past eight months.  This marathon has taught me quite a few life lessons, especially being the first race that did not improve my personal best time.  Maybe I’m just getting older or perhaps I’m just trying to make myself feel better, but this was one of those times in which the journey was much more meaningful than the destination.  I didn’t reach my goal, but I learned a lot about myself.

It would be impossible to list all of the thoughts that have crossed my mind over the last two weeks, but here’s a little taste:

What went wrong?
What went right? 

Five marathons are enough, no more.
Maybe one more.  Seriously, I could run the Kansas City marathon (six days after the Prairie Fire marathon). 

It’s time to slow down and enjoy the experience, the finish time is not important.
What’s my training schedule to prepare to reach my goal in a marathon next April? 

Maybe I should try a triathlon.
Maybe I should try a half marathon.
Maybe I should just run lots of shorter races. 

What if I never feel like running again?
I can’t imagine waiting much longer to start running again.

Mom has been on mind quite a bit lately as well.  It would be an understatement to say that the last few days have made me realize how much I miss her.  As our children grow older, I appreciate all of the sacrifices my parents made for me and my siblings.  I will be forever grateful for their patience and positive influence in all of our lives.

During this period of self-reflection, I discovered one item that I don’t even remember but seems a bit poetic at this point in my life.  As I was looking through some old items from running in high school and college, I found an English paper I wrote my high school sophomore year.  I don’t claim that its great writing or even makes much sense, but I simply loved the subject:  the benefits of marathon running and reasons why people are so attracted to marathons.

Whether you believe in destiny, a higher power, or karma, it’s moments like discovering this paper that gives one a sense that sometimes the universe works the way it’s designed.   Even when things don’t work like you think it should.  Even when you lose a loved one.  Even when you fail to reach a goal that you’ve work so hard to reach.  It’s then when you realize those loved ones and dear friends that you can always count on no matter what happens.

Reaping the Benefits of the Art of the Marathon

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You Might be a Running Nerd if. . .

  1. You blog about your training.
  2. You have actually watched a complete marathon on TV from start to finish.
  3. You know what the Goofy Challenge is and have actually ran it or at least seriously contemplated it.
  4. You know what the acronym IAAF means.
  5. You know that the IAAF actually has a fantasy league.
  6. You get excited about fitting two runs in one day.
  7. They know you by name and shoe size at your local running store.
  8. You have a stockpile of old running shoes that still look “good” but have long outlived their life cycle.
  9. You know precisely how many days until your next race.  Extra bonus points if you know the hours and minutes.
  10. Your day is ruined if you find a hole in your favorite pair of running socks.

 

Lessons from Recent Travels

My recent travels have taught me a few unexpected lessons. I appreciate everyone’s willingness to share their stories related to my blog. Friends have shared their own experiences on topics ranging from cross-training to gardening to nutrition, not to mention running itself.

I’m excited to try a few new recipes that have been shared with me. If my attempts in repeating the recipes are successful, I’ll be sure to share them.

Several friends have been helpful by sharing their local knowledge, especially in terms of where to run. I’ve also learned that not always finding the destination can be just as enjoyable. Any opportunity to enjoy a new area, trail, or neighborhood is a welcomed change of pace.

Running, or just exercise in general, can be a great conversational piece. I’m not the type of person that can easily strike up a conversation with a complete stranger, but slap on a race t-shirt on a stranger and the conversation just seems to naturally flow. It doesn’t take long to realize that runners often share a common bond.

Memories of Mom

With April already upon us, my mother has been on my mind quite a bit recently — especially on runs.  Towards the end of the month will be her first birthday without her.  I feel blessed to be her son and have the childhood my parents gave me.  I miss her greatly.

Below are just a few memories I had on recent runs.  In college, Coach Krob would give us a detailed, one page summary of the upcoming meet the day before.  It contained notes about departure times, weather forecast, and information about the competition.  My mom was able to get a hold of one which contained a bit of nutritional advice reminding us to eat our “potassium bars.”  She went all over town to various nutrition stores asking for these bars.  She apologized to me for not being able to find any before I could explain that was coach’s name for bananas.   We never forgot how hard we laughed about her “unfruitful” search.

Getting ready to watch tonight’s national championship game reminded me of how nervous Mom would get watching close KU basketball games.  She would often not watch the end of the game if it was too close.  I’m not so sure she would have been able to watch any of this year’s KU NCAA tournament games.  They have definitely been too close!

I’ll never forget the support my parents gave me while I ran in school.  They would be at the meets, cheering for the team.  I can still hear Mom yell, “Go, Myrlin, go.”  That’s about all she would say, but hearing those words always gave me a sense of comfort.  If I can provide my children with some degree of the sense of comfort and security my mom give us, I will be a happy parent.

Running Locations

A friend sent a few helpful links a few days ago for a potential running trail in Des Moines for my trip this week.  The e-mail sparked an idea to share locations I have discovered and enjoyed running.  I hope to continue adding some of my current favorite routes and new locations as I discover them.

Name:
James A. Reed Memorial Wildlife Area
Location:
1 mile east of Lee’s Summit on Ranson Rd and 1.5 miles south of Highway 50.
Links:
http://mdc4.mdc.mo.gov/applications/moatlas/AreaSummaryPage.aspx?txtAreaID=5501
http://mdc.mo.gov/regions/kansas-city/james-reed-memorial-wildlife-area
Overview:
Even though it’s close to the city, once you start running here you feel 100s of miles from the nearest person. This location offers many different running trails and options.  Most trails are horse riding trails which offers a soft running surface.  Due to the often uneven terrain, I pick running here for slow-paced runs to ensure no injuries such as a twisted ankle.  It also has a gravel hiking path that is a little over 1 mile.
The location also offers are great variety of wildlife.  During my runs, I have seen deer, canadian geese, racoons, opossums, and a very fast cat-like creature that scared the living daylights out of me once.  This is a great location to get away from the roads and enjoying nature.

Name:
Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge
Location:
Located near the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport at 3815 American Blvd., Bloomington, MN 55425.
Links:
http://www.fws.gov/refuges/profiles/index.cfm?id=32590
http://www.fws.gov/midwest/minnesotavalley/
Overview:
Wonderful trail system that has large marsh areas near the Minnesota River.  Running on these trails make it seem impossible that you are so close to a metropolitan area.  Although I only ran the trails a few times, I was able to see lots of deer, many just a few feet away.  A few words of caution, though.  Since it’s near marshes, be sure to wear some type of bug repellant and nix the new shoes if you want to keep them clean.

Name:
Little Blue Trace Trail
Location:
I usually join the trail near Independence Center in Independence, MO.
Link:
ci.independence.mo.us/userdocs/parksandrec/TrailguideWeb.pdf
Overview:
A great 13 mile trail system that follows the Little Blue River.  It is mostly gravel and provides a wide and stable running surface.  The area offers lots of wildlife including deer and wild turkeys.