Jul 29, 2007


I'm in the light blue shirt. Alex and Joe are in front of the table on the right. The rest of 'em are my skiing friends, except for the weird looking guy on the far left. He was a recumbent bike dude that we befriended and had a couple of beers with.

Well, I said I would run on Friday. I did not. I said I would eat right on Friday. I sort of did not (but it was better than any other day last week.)

On Saturday, however.. I ran twice. And went on all-liquids.
The first run was a 1.5 mile run in 30 minutes - that involved about 1200 feet of gain. An ascent of Bear Mountain, from the east, on the Appalachian Trail. For a hike, it's pretty steep. For me on a trail run, it's stupid steep.

Then, after relaxing for almost two hours, I left alex and joey at a playground at Bear Mountain State Park and jogged 3½ easy miles, the highlight of which was a crossing of the Bear Mountain Bridge, briefly into Westchester County, back into Orange County, and maybe into Rockland County too at the very end.. I was excited to be running, and even though the runs weren't very long in the context of my goals, they were long enough and easy enough to encourage me in my goals.

Today after church, I did 1¼ junk miles while joe and alex were at another playground, this time in Teaneck, New Jersey. I'll be honest with you, it was kind of hard - after the super-intense bear mountain ascent yesterday plus the two-a-day style jog afterwards, my legs were feeling a little beat up. Also, the temp was 79ยบ and humidity was pretty close to 100%, and a mid-day summer thunderstorm was on its way. Still, my heart rate was still about 59 when relaxed (if I can't get it under 65 then that to me is a sign that I'm overtraining). Before finishing up the first lap, I spied J&A running towards the car. Turns out that they heard thunder approaching, at which point I too decided that I didn't want to run a second lap.

I bought a flashlight and a reflective running vest. I look forward to nighttime runs after returning from work. Courtney, who is going to do an ironman-length triathlon next month, suggested that the way you make a habit out of running is by not missing a day for three weeks. I'm going to try that. She also is suggesting that I do an ironman with her. Short answer is probably never, but I'll post more about that some other time.

i was thinking about my post from wednesday.

even though there are no comments, i regret writing that if i were to run, i wouldn't settle for mediocrity.
the implication is that someone who merely completes a marathon.. is mediocre.

i didn't mean to imply that, so i would like to change that word.

problem is, i can't think of a good word to describe what i was (and am) thinking.. so here's the thought.
one tenth of one percent of the world's living population has completed a marathon.
one in a thousand. that's a pretty exclusive club... but for many people, it's not exclusive enough.

Many people who run multiple marathons strive to complete one in under four hours - which might put them in the top 25% of marathon runners. that would upgrade these people to one in four thousand. (yes i am pulling that number out of my ass, but the principal.) many who run marathons want to complete in under 3 hours. that might put them in the top 5%, only one in every 20,000 of the people in this planet can claim.
completing under 2 1/2 hours, puts people in the top 1%.. 1:80,000.

you see, one of the reasons why some people run marathons is to get into the most exclusive club possible.

to be sure, everyone who runs a marathon, no matter how slow, is a marathoner. not too many people can say that. but i think that part of the motivation that makes people run a marathon in the first place, is, among other things, to gain the right to say, "I am a marathoner," an earned title - akin to saying "I graduated college" or "I am a vegetarian." These are titles you earn by effort and discipline.

so there's a marathon "club" composed of runners who put in the effort required to cross the finish line at a 26.2 mile footrace. and even the club is open to everybody, about one in one thousand of our peers are members of it. no matter how slowly you completed the marathon, if you are in the club, your effort is not mediocre.

so the word i'm trying to find is a word that describes me to try to be in the most exclusive club possible. maybe the correct word is "psychopathic." but the bottom line is, one in a thousand isn't exclusive enough.

and since i doubt that no matter how much weight i lose, and no matter how much i train, that i have the ability to run a 2:30 marathon and get myself into the super-exclusive "sub 2:30 marathoner club", i have decided to pursue an equally exclusive club of the ultramarathon. One thing I noticed in Vermont is that there are so few people who run 100-mile ultramarathons that everybody almost knows everybody. It is a very tight-knit, friendly and supportive group. But put that aside. This is hard to explain, especially as an outsider observing this group, but in the course of running a 100-mile ultramarathon, these extraordinary individuals seemed to have learned something very profound about themselves - a knowledge that could only be learned by pushing their physical and mental endurance to the absolute limits - and among them, there was a mutual understanding of each other's journey. I could, of course, be talking out of my ass.. but that's how it occurred to me.

That said, I don't have a goal to complete a 100-mile ultramarathon (although I do admit I am curious to know that I *can* do one.) But I do want to earn the right to say, "I did this, and I'm one in a hundred thousand who'd even try."

I think I am going to register for a 50k ultramarathon in Hartford on September 21st. 31 miles. I won't be properly prepared for it by then, but I will be prepared to run 20 miles.. I'll just take it easy and it won't be too bad. Whatever I go through can't be worse than the 100-mile people experience.

-steve