Monday, August 22, 2011

Finally a race I did NOT DNF//Palos Hills 32.4 Miler - 5:51:50//Day 30 taking the train.

You can see me there in 5th place.  It was a very rainy day and one to really remember!  I made sure to eat plenty during the race, and I think that made a big difference.  I still was reduced to walk run for about the final 10 miles, but at least I kept going.  This race was a 4 lap time 8.1 miles on very easy cinder trails with very little elevation change, so I have no real reason to be so slow, and the rain was actually refreshing and I can't blame it for my speed.  It was shocking to come through the marathon at 4:30; I'd be so embarrassed if that ends up being my time at Chicago.  I used to make fun of four hour marathoners, and now I may be one.  My strategy will be to run with the 3:50 pace crew at Chicago and if I feel good pick it up at about 20.  I feel like endurance at the 20+ mile time frame was not that big of a deal. 

I've still been taking the train, and like that feeling.  Oh the other big thing this weekend was the Air Show at North Beach.  I had a great time and the Thunder Birds put on a great show!! 

Here is a picture of me scared before the start of the race.  I was thinking; will I DNF again? 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Day 26 Taking the Train//The Tent Book Review//Duathlon on Thursday and 32 Mile Race on Sat

Well it is starting to get cool in the morings, and I'm  not sure how much longer I will be taking the train.  I'm at 26 days now and I hope that I will adjust and learn to dress and still make a green decision on how to get to work, plus it keeps me more active even on days that I sit my growing but behind the desk. 

I only got 29 miles last week.  I should get much more this week because I have a 32 miler on Saturday; hope not to have another failure.  Also I have a nice Duathlon on Thursday, where I will get to push my speed in competition/ 20 min bike followed by a 20 min run.  This weekend I took the PT test and did 53 push-up in 2 min, 72 sit ups in 2 min and 2 mile track run in 12:22. 

Read another great book:  The Tent by Margaret Atwood here is my Amazon Review:

Here Margaret packs a punch like no other writer I have read before.  This book is packed with a plethora of short essays with so much to say.  These stories allow you to get into the spiritual side of Atwood and challenge your beliefs in thoughtful ways. 

There were several that were particularly touching, "Orphan Stories", described thoughts that have gone through my head, but that I would rather not talk about.  The presentation was refreshingly dark if that is at all possible, yet it gave a very human perspective that cannot be ignored.  The essay goes far in forcing you to look at your own family life and cherishing it; almost no matter how good/bad it may be.   

Voice gave me a new perspective on how we look at our talents, and how one can be absorbed in our own narcissism yet lose our most human aspects in the race (I'm a runner and sometimes lose myself when I get to absorbed in thinking I'm such a good runner).  Margaret uses someone’s incredible voice and how the person can be de-humanized as people only search out her voice instead of the person that gives life to the voice. 

Margaret brings to life what it is to be a Mother and how they can be tossed aside easily by those who love them most.  Her story, "Bring back Mom, An Invocation" forces you to look at your relationship with your Mother and will probably give you pause to see if you have appreciated all the things that your Mother does on a day-to-day base.  She goes over the top with what can happen to an unappreciated Mom, but I think the message could not be clearer in most of our lives. 

Finally the namesake story, "The Tent" forces you to look at your life as if you are inside a paper tent and your life is what you make of it and your only protection is the quality of the story that your write yourself.  Paper cannot protect you, but if you live a worthwhile life and write it on the wall there is protection in the purity of the story.  She lets you come to your own conclusion as to what could happen if you destroy your own life story, your tent of paper that held the protection which was the story of your life; the essence of life.  This essay made me think that our stories are actually the only 'reality'; our immortality and once they are gone so may we be gone. 

There are so many more power thought provoking essays/poems that you will want to read them again and again, because sometimes you get a little different flavor, a gem that Margaret had hidden away in the precious few words.  I recommend this book!! 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Glass Castle - Review

What an incredible memoir by Jeannette Walls.  The introduction really said it when they said that some people have a story to tell, but it is rare when they can do it really well. 
The Glass Castle is a fitting name for a story of a family that was always on the go and continuously striving for the better things in life which always seemed to be just out of reach.  The Walls parental figures proved to be smart loving and parents of incredible tenacity, however, they embraced challenges that most of us would think are unacceptable. 
In the memoir, Jeannette tells the story from the perspective of being a daughter among four children and what it was like living in extreme poverty.  She tells the story of her years starting at 3 years of age until her early thirties, but focused on the formative years of about 5-17. 
I learned about true love and loyalty that comes even without money, and how truly great gifts can be given without spending a dime.  You heart may weep a little when you read about Jeannette’s father giving her Venus; such artfully clear emotions expressed in her prose.  You will also grow close and love an alcoholic Father and probably see yourself having trouble saying no to man that clearly loves his family but struggles a lifetime with the demon of alcoholism.  Jeannette’ s mother cannot say no to him and when left alone to care for the family Jeannette herself finds out just how hard it is to say no to her father in the grips of alcoholism.   
You will enjoy the journey that the family takes as they avoid bill collectors, police and others as they skiddattle away from various places in Arizona, California and finally haw they make a semi permanent home in Welch, North Carolina.   
The story takes you on the journey of the children growing up in such poverty, and as they grow older they end up deciding to leave and make their own way in New York City.  One by one they all leave, and in desperation to keep the family together their parents follow.  If you are not careful you will forget the powerful first two pages of the book, but the story all comes full circle when the children break free of the poverty and small town views and stand on their own, despite their parent deciding on a life either on the streets or in squatters quarters.  The children feel sorry for their parents, but it is the parents who worry that their children have lost their soul. 
Irony strikes the reader right in the face when they discover the “worth” of Jeannette’s mother and find out that she chose to live as she did due to strong values of keeping the item of “worth” in the family and never wanting to sell it.   I hope not to spoil the better part of the story, but that is what gives the story the added bit of sentimentality; not to mention the children’s response to their dying father. 
I cannot recommend this story enough, it is a great read that will teach you about what love looks like on the side of the tracks that you may not know about. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Day 23 Taking the Train and a nice 5K in 18:25

I must admit that this is the second time that I've clocked the post 5K with my Garmin and came up with 3.01 and 3.02 miles each time.  So having said that my 5K times are not as fast as they seem.  I'm still happy with the little pep in my step, especially with such bad ultra results this year, and I have walked away with my third first place in my age group trophy which I donate to the unit.  It makes it look like I'm some kind of great runner even in the dark cloud of my distance races.  What do people really know about my shame at distances above the marathon.  My real focus now is to be able to get to at least 100K at the NorthCoast 24; I've got my doubts with my recent performances. 

I ended up not doing the camping hash because it would have ended up costing over $70 bucks with registration and park fees and all that, so I stayed home and started a new book called "Glass Castle", which I'm really enjoying. 

I also signed up for the English Channel Challenge where I have to swim 21 miles to get a nice T-Shirt.  It cost 10 buck and I spent 1:24:33 today swimming 2 miles; I want to complete this task by the 24th of this month, so that will be a major cross training objective over the next few days. 

I have a 32 mile race on the 20th and a duathlon on the 18th of this month.  The last duathlon I won first place overall and hope to do the same again.  I look forward to rocking it again.  This summer will come to an end fast enough so I have to race as much as I can.  I will hate the winter for sure. 

I haven't gone to a movie in a long time, but last night watched X-Men; it cost $2, so that is good for cheap entertainment.  Tonight I will go see "Bad Teacher". 

Tomorrow right back at Annual Training.  This time Company Level.  We are going to Marsiellese, IL to fire our weapons Monday, then homestation traaining during the week and land navigation on Friday, followed by another weekend of work.  I'll be glad when all this Army stuff is over.  Funny how you see the TPU Soldiers.  Time to put on the rose colored glasses. 

I took the train three out of the five days last week.  I got ripped off once by the conductor, but that only made up for the times that I get a free ride.  I bought a ten ride ticket which even makes it cheaper. 

My wife is home alone with the kids; and I worry a little.  Mom and Dad went to Laos because Dads Mom passed away.  They will not be back until Sep 3rd. 

Big news 31 of our best died in a Chinook crash, possibly by enemy fire.  Also to put fire to the pain, for the first time our Nations credit was nocked down to AA+; we are not the world leaders any longer and I doubt my generation will ever be associated with words like the "Greatest Generation".   I lower my head in shame as we all must admit our addiction to debt.  Now it is time to pay the piper!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

DNF Number Three This Year - 28 Miles in 7:07 DQ for being too slow. Day 20 Taking Train

Well this past weekend I went up to Duluth, MN, which is a great area on Lake Superior.  I drove 8 hours to participate in the Voyageur Trail 50 Miler and was kicked out at mile 28 for being to slow.  The course was incredible; tough and beautiful, but I just didn't have the legs or the smarts to eat during the run which left me dead on my ass at the turn around.  I barely made the cut off time at 25 and missed the 28 mile cut off time at 7:07.  Here are my sorry splits:
28 mi
ave 15:15
ave HR 147

Well I need to do some more long running.  I haven't reported my monthly miles, but here they are and you will get a better picture why I'm not doing so well this year: 


Also, even when I get larger miles for the month they are mostly broken up runs; really nothing over 10 miles in training this year; so I guess I have no one to blame but myself.  Still why do I keep signing up for this humiliation?  I have yet one more time to be humiliated and that is at the NorthCoast 24 Hour Race on 17 Sep.  Look for about 35 miles for a whole 24 hours if I keep up this same type of performance. 

I've taken on one more race; 32 miles on Aug 20th, maybe I'll do better at that race, and I'll have the recent pain of Voyageur in the bag as practice.