Sunday, February 28, 2016

You Can Run but you Can't Hide (And Martha's Vineyard not quite 20 miler)

I know how to deal with stress in three ways: run, write things down, and run.  The below segments represent the roller coaster known as the beginning of 2016, read with caution.

January
The beginning of 2016 has been a tough one.  With a demanding job, two young kids, and an aggressive running schedule, there isn't much time left in the day to do, well, anything.

Nat Attack
I started off the year by completing an 80 mile week before I came down with the worst cold that I have had in the last 30 years.  The second week of January I dropped to 17 miles (with 3 x 1 mile days just to keep the streak going) while working from home with a violent brutal vicious cough.  None the less after 10 days I began to recover and was able to salvage 55 miles in the following week.

The third week of January I was determined to throw everything I had into running.  If the stress was going to be high the running volume would be even higher.  My co-workers sometimes joke with me asking at 9am, 10am, and then again at 11am how far I am going to run at lunch and laughing every time they get a different answer.

Through 11 runs over 7 days and the help of 24 miles on that Saturday (with some company from the SRR crew and baby sitting support from LJ) I was able to throw down 90 miles (tied with my second highest volume week ever).

After a recovery week with a couple of short stints at MP pace, January was over: 236 miles.

February
My goal for the first week in February was to go big and by big I mean triple digits.  My plan seemed almost too perfect.  Knock 30 miles out between Monday and Wednesday, take Thursday off from work / take Nat to his 6 month checkup / run 20 miles and get back in time for the Becca Pizzi parade in Belmont (Becca recently became the first American Woman to both run and win the World Marathon Challenge).

Well fate (I don't believe in fate) had other plans for us.  At Nat's checkup, the doctor noticed a slight mis-alignment between his eyes.  Usually this is not a problem, but coupled with his cafe au lait spots, there was significant worry that he could have Neurofibromatosis (NF).  Well 10 hours, another doctor's office and a visit to Children's later, we had a MRI scheduled for the following Tuesday. Needless to say, I didn't get the 20 miles in that day (nor made it to the parade).

I am happy to report, after Nat's MRI, it was quickly determined that he does not have a tumor behind his left eye (Special thanks to Children's for getting back to us within an hour of the MRI).  While it is too early to truly tell if he has NF, he still doesn't have any markers other then the spots which drastically reduces the probability.

Still determined to out run anything that life can throw at me, I closed the week out with three 16 mile days in a row (which included 8 in the middle of a snow storm) to finish at 86 miles.

The following week was the Martha's Vineyard 20 miler. This would be my first true test of my goal pace for Boston: 6:40.  My goal was to couple this race into a 70 mile week and simple try and hold pace. We were greatly looking forward to getting away.

Martha's Vineyard (Not Quite) 20 Miler
Location: Martha's Vineyard, MA
Date: 2/13/2016
Distance: 15.4 miles
Goal: 1:40:06 (6:30 / mile)
Actual: 1:37:11 (6:19 / mile) Place: 8 / 223 OA, 2 / 15 AG

Forecast for the weekend was cold and windy.  Friday morning the race directors made the decision to shorten the course from 20 miles to 15.4 miles and cut out the section that runs along the coast.  As a runner, I am against this decision as runners need to be tough.  Personally I have run in significantly worse conditions.  From what I gather, the main reason the course was changed was to protect the volunteers.  That on the other hand is a decision that I support and can completely get behind. 

You can shorten the race, but you can't take the miles away from the runners.  Of course my group of friends decided race morning to run to the race start and make up the missing 4 miles, so I was like, what the hell, why not.

The race itself went well.  It was fairly flat (other then the first mile), but had a good 6 mile chunk of running in 1 inch deep snow.  Being a trail runner, the uneven footing made me right at home and even went to my advantage.  

Pic Compliments of
Granite State Race Services
After taking the first couple miles on the easier side, I picked the pace up and starting catching runners one after the other.  Once we exited the snow around mile 9 (and enjoyed a brief tailwind), I was able to drop a couple of 6:10 miles before we changed direction.  

Miles 11 - 13 I leap frogged / worked with another runner as we battled the wind before we finally turned and made our return home.  My three strongest miles were in the 6:10 range (9, 10, and 15) and I finished feeling I had plenty left in the tank.  

We enjoyed a night out with the group hitting up the Off Shore Ale House (and taking home 7 growlers) for the evening before heading back home the next day. Special thanks to the Tinger's for organizing the weekend.  

Tom Cole
It is great sadness that I have to mention that passing of one of our club members.  Tom was just 58 years old when he passed away a little over a week ago.  

Tom was the self appointed team photographer catching moments through his lens that we will never forget (The club formally recognized him with an appreciation award in 2013).  Whether it was finishing a marathon, a one mile race, a 5k, or a relay hand off that would later result in a wedding, he was completly dedicated to being part of making our team whole. 

In solidarity, the members of the club have been changing their profile photos in Facebook over to photos that Tom took.   Tom RIP, you are missed. 

Finish Line of MOM's Run, 2014
Pic Compliments of Tom Cole
Strength

"That which does not kill us, makes us stronger." - Friedrich Nietzsche

While I don't agree with much that Nietzsche said, there is something to say about being a product of ones experiences.  Whether it is a 50 mile run, a 16 hour work day, or being up all night with a child, our experiences are what makes us who we are.  

This is not just the negative ones but the positive ones too.  Being able to share in ones accomplishments provides as much if not more strength then anything we have suffered through. 

When Amy finished the Harpoon B2B in 2012, I will never forget the smile on her face when she simply said "I finished. I finished."

Last June I spoke with Tom while we enjoyed a beer at team fundraiser.  As he recounted his first half marathon, telling the tale of cramping and struggling through miles 10-12 all I could do was smile to show that I understood where he had been.  That I had been there.  That we all had been there.  

As I look forward to the upcoming months I am optimistic; watching Nat learn to walk, running my first Boston Marathon, seeing what Neil does next, enjoying Yellowstone National Park, etc, etc.

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” 
― Marcus Aurelius

- Scot 

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