Carpe Aestas (Seize the Summer) : The Last Weekend

Carpe Aestas: Seize the Summer.    From June 21 to September 21, 2013, I am going to do my best to try to suck the marrow out of this season.  Too many summers have gone by the wayside, wasted on work and mindless living.   My goal this summer is to catalog these days and ensure that I don’t lose focus on enJOYment as the drearydoms of normal life set in (as they often do).

This is the last Sunday of the summer of 2013!  How are you going to spend it?   Will it be memorable or will it fade like so many days in our lives?

If you were 100% responsible for your own happiness, what would you differently this afternoon?

Final Countdown
Final Countdown
Carpe Aestas (Seize the Summer) : The Last Weekend

Scary Bad Run

I had a bad run today.   It would be more accurate to say I had a great 11 mile run which dovetailed into disturbing 3 mile run.

It was a 13 mile day.  My wife was gong to a store down in Anaheim, so I decided to take a circuitous route and meet her there at 11am.

I took to the road at the appointed hour on an August day that wasn’t unreasonably warm.  I brought gels and a Camelbak with water, and for quite a while, I was happy with pace, my music and how things felt.

About mile 9, it got warm felt as I sucked that last of the water out of my Camelbak.   Somewhere after that point, my thoughts became befuddled.   I ran past the point I was supposed to exit the river trail.  My mind had locked  on the exit with the largest landmark on the horizon was my exit rather than the one I had planned.

I didn’t understand why it was taking me so long to run this route, I should have met my wife about 11am and yet at that time, I was no where close to where my brain thought I was going.   Things just didn’t add up, because my pace was fine.  I kept on running.

At two points in the final miles, I wanted to close my eyes, just for a minute while I ran.   There was a sharp rocky drop off into the river bed, so that didn’t seem like a good idea.  Let’s just say I did have a few very long blinks during this run.

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Warning! Do not run with your eyes closed

I knew something wasn’t right when my Garmin hit mile 12 and I was still on the river trail.  How could I have screwed up the distance?

Only because I felt bad about being late for my meetup with my wife, I decided to get off the trail and ask my wife meet me about a mile away.   My wife texted me a few times to confirm where I was meeting her.   She seemed confused about my location, but I didn’t understand why.  She didn’t seem to understand that I was quitting early.

As my Garmin registered mile 14, I didn’t understand how I could have gotten off the trail early and still have so many miles behind me.  My mapped route should have only been 13 miles to the final destination. Nothing added up in my fried little brain.

When I finally got to our new meeting point I was disoriented.  I slammed the bottle of chocolate milk that she was carrying for me.  I reclined the passenger seat and sat there brain-dead listening to the radio.  I knew what show she was listening to, but I didn’t understand what they were saying.  I have run this distance a hundred times in worst conditions; and this time, I wasn’t right.

As we approached home, I asked my wife to stop at 7-11.  I wanted a Slurpee, but I knew I needed more fluids.

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Summer is better with Slurpee

When I got home, I drank fluids.   I laid on the floor by the bed for about an hour.  I was too stinky to sit on any furniture and I wasn’t ready to take a shower. I just sort of laid there in a haze watching the end of the Yankees game, dozing on and off.  Finally I was able to get in the shower and wash the dirty, dusty trail off of me.   Then I crawled into bed and took a nap.

I ate and read the paper after my nap and tried to figure out what the hell happened to me today.   I ran 20 hilly miles two weeks ago and last week I ran 7 hot and incredibly difficult the day after giving platelets.  I’ve never had an experience like this before (and I hope I never do).

I’ve always felt that nutrition is more about what I’ve eaten in the previous 48 hours rather than just since dawn.  After a while the pieces came together and I realized that although I had eaten a good breakfast this morning, I really didn’t eat enough the days before.   In fact I woke up famished about 2am, a problem that has hit me three times during this marathon training cycle.   I had a high carbohydrate dinner, but the balance of the day was soup and salad.  That had to be it.

I hope that I never get in that situation again, but if I do I hope I realize the signs that the disorientation brought.  The scary part of it was that my legs and the part of my brain driving them, just kept going.

Scary.

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Scary Bad Run

A Little Cross-Country Race in Southern Nevada

Despite drinking every ounce of pre-race and post-race fluid I had with me prior to the starting gun sounding, a half mile into this race, I was parched.  It wasn’t so much that it was hot, it was just dry.   That’s the way the desert is.

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Trail Running in Southern Nevada

The 17th Annual Southern Nevada Legends of Cross Country Challenge was the only race being held during the weekend of my high school reunion in Las Vegas, so I signed up.

The race was a fundraiser for a local cross-country scholarship program. The field was filled with YOUNG runners, including several local high school cross-country teams.  It was weird to be back in a part of the world where I grew up surrounded by so many high school athletes. Running was something I didn’t do in high school.   I was asthmatic and brought up believing that running wasn’t something I could do.   It took me 25 years to realized that particular belief system was wrong.

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At the end of the second mile. the crowd had thinned considerably

This was a fun but slightly difficult trail race.  I love trail races. There was lots of sand, it was warm, dry and the 2400 ft Southern Nevada elevation might have been a bit of a problem had this race been more difficult.  I was very happy with my time, although I came in 84th of the 92 men; running will keep you humble.  This was a field of very serous runners.

After the open division finished, the Legends heat started.  The entire field of men and women were done in just over 20 minutes.

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How Many Races Feature Sky Divers?

I went out on the course to watch the legends runners and stood with parents much like myself.  These parents were cheering on their children much like I do my cheerleader.  There was no rivalry, just support for all the runners regardless of what school they ran for.

Maybe it was being back in Southern Nevada, maybe it was the high school environment and the supportive parents, maybe it was just the phase of the moon, but I started to miss my mom.   She passed 16 years ago.   This lonely feeling came over me. I wished that my mom could have been there at that moment to cheer me on.   Maybe she was.

But life is often a choice between focusing on what you have or what you don’t have.   Rather than focusing on missing my mom, I Facetimed my dad in New York. I told him what was going on and he was loving and supportive.  What more could one ask?

Let's be clear.  I'm dying here.
Let’s be clear. I’m dying here.
A Little Cross-Country Race in Southern Nevada

Carpe Aestas (Seize the Summer) : Week 5

Carpe Aestas: Seize the Summer.    From June 21 to September 21, 2013, I am going to do my best to try to suck the marrow out of this season.  Too many summers have gone by the wayside, wasted on work and mindless living.   My goal this summer is to catalog these days and ensure that I don’t lose focus on enJOYment as the drearydoms of normal life set in (as they often do).

The start of the fifth week of summer marked my 48th birthday.   I took the day off work, but still managed to roll out of bed about 5:15am.  After some coffee and some fluids, I took off for a celebratory run.   It was a cool overcast morning, perfect for a long slow run.  Everything was golden until….

Carpe Aestas!
Carpe Aestas!

right about Mile 5 when I turned a corner and came face to face with a lady walking her two little Chihuahuas beasts.  We were all startled and I tripped and skinned both my knees.   I was on my back looking up at  two little hell-hounds yapping at me.  The lady asked if I was OK.  I was, so I got up and kept on running with blood running down my legs.  Happy Birthday.

About Mile 7, I received a call from a company I do business with.  They were putting together a bid and wanted to chat with me.  I explained that it was my day off and I was in the middle of a run and that it was my birthday.  They sang happy birthday and started to talk about their proposal.  Clearly I wasn’t blunt enough with them, but I kept running while they talked.

I made it home and found that Laura had picked up the cake that I ordered a few weeks back.   It was a two-layer chocolate cake with gananche frosting and a thick layer of gananche in the middle.   A piece was precut from the cake covered in gananche.   The hole where the piece was cut from was also covered in gananche.

Maximum Ganache
Maximum Gananche

You may notice that although this was my 48th birthday celebration, the cake says Happy 50th.   I have decided that as some people choose to call themselves 48 when they are 50, I am going to go the other way and embrace the coming 50th birthday and make it feel as welcome as possible.

The piece on the left was cut in two and frozen.  It will be my reward when I complete the Santa Barbara Marathon in November.

After showering and stretching, the family drove to Whittier where we had lunch with Cassie’s Godmother at Amachi’s, a little Japanese place that was there in 1983 when I went to college.  The food is still good.   From there we went to another hangout in Whittier that make the most amazing milk shakes.  If you were there in 1987, you know that Whittier knows shakes (earthquake humor).

The evening of my birthday found me playing four sets of tennis.  It was exhausting on legs that had 11 miles on them from the morning, but hey, it was my birthday.

Platelet Donation for my birthday
Platelet Donation for my birthday

Saturday morning was spent in the good care of the American Red Cross.   I made my annual birthday platelet donation, after which I came home and took my customary post-donation nap. No exercise on donation day lead to a peaceful and simple Saturday night.

At the End of the Santa Ana River Trail
At the End of the Santa Ana River Trail

Sunday morning was another up and at ’em morning as I rode my bicycle down to Huntington Beach and caught up to my daughter at the Vans US Open Surf Competition. She let me pay for her lunch and then she was off with her friends. I think she came down to the open 4 times during the 2 weekends the event was on. Each trip she came home with new cool giveaways. I guess these are the rituals of her summer vacations.

As I was waiting for my daughter to find me among the crowds in Huntington Beach, I came across an anti-war(s) protest.  One of the protesters was nice enough to let me borrow his sign.

Damn Hippies
Damn Hippies in their bike shorts

The rest of the week, we didn’t get much celebration of summer in. Work and training suck up the available hours. I had one meeting that went from 5pm to 6:30 on Monday and I have visitors from Europe who I met for dinner at 8:30pm another night.

It’s hard to celebrate summer in a consistent manner week in and week out. That’s how summers have gotten away from me in recent years. This one is down to its last 58 days.

I will say it was an awesome birthday weekend, filled with good friends, warm family, well-wishes from many.   I was also pleased that I was able to get 11 miles run, 4 sets of tennis played, 40+ miles ridden on a bike and life-sustaining fluids donated to strangers.  And there was gananche.  Lots and lots of gananche.

Gananche Filling
Gananche Filling

So, how’s your summer going?

Carpe Aestas (Seize the Summer) : Week 5

The Road Less Traveled is a Hill

Hills tell you the truth:  I can run as many miles as I want in a week, or a month, but until I haul my butt up a 6% + grade for a mile or more, I don’t really know where my fitness level is.

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Up Into the HIlls

Hills are Humbling: My training took to the hills today.  A young whipper-snapper on a mountain bike passed me up near a crest.  I called out that I would race him to the top.  I sprinted up the last 1/8 of a mile and beat him.  Sounds like a good story, but it actually we were both going pretty slow and I was sucking wind afterwards.

Rolling Hills

Why Run HIlls?: I ran the San Francisco Marathon last year and experienced 3.5 miles of 3% grade starting at mile 13.  Next year, the Big Sur Marathon has 2 miles of 4.7% grade at mile 10.   If I don’t train on hills, I will fail on the hills.

Elevation Profile, The San Francisco Marathon
Elevation Profile, The San Francisco Marathon

 There are no garbage miles running up hills on a summer day.   Any day I choose to run towards a hill is better for my self-esteem than one where I run away from the hill.  Ultimately, hills are the road less traveled, and they make all the difference.

The Road Less Traveled is a Hill

Carpe Aestas (Seize the Summer) : Week 4

Carpe Aestas: Seize the Summer.    From June 21 to September 21, 2013, I am going to do my best to try to suck the marrow out of this season.  Too many summers have gone by the wayside, wasted on work and mindless living.   My goal this summer is to catalog these days and ensure that I don’t lose focus on enJOYment as the drearydoms of normal life set in (as they often do).

This is the fourth week of summer. We are almost 1/3 of the way through the season.  Life has started to intrude and it’s getting hard to stay in that “seize the summer” mentality. The Santa Barbara Marathon is 16 weeks away and the training is intruding on my quest for find the joy.

Tennis by Sunset
Tennis by Sunset

This fourth Friday of summer, as always, was tennis night.  Everything seemed to be working and I was really grateful.  I took my first tennis lesson when I was 5.  By all rights, I should be much better player than I am.  I am just where I am.   My skill is a function the time I have put in, my consistency and my fitness.  I enjoy it, which ultimately is what matters.

What should have been a short 3 mile run on Sunday turned into just under 12 miles.  Everything just felt good, so I just kept running, even though I didn’t bring water or gels.  The girls were going to go out to breakfast at Soupplantation that morning while I was running (I asked them to go without me).  At mile 5, I called and asked them to delay their breakfast by an hour so I could run the extra miles to get to them.   As I hadn’t had breakfast, I was starved.  Hungry has been a common feeling this week.  Lots of calories have been going out and I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night famished.   At times, I have not felt hungry, eaten something and then felt starved.

Pie!
Pie!

I realized early in the weekend that this was not going to be a very celebratory summery week.  I kept trying to think of things to do as a family of the summer season.  One night after dinner we decided to head down to Marie Calendars for pie.  I had the Key Lime, Laura had the strawberry banana and The Child had Oreo Cookie Cheesecake. I was just nice to be out and doing something indulgent as a family.  I worried about the calories of each pie on the menu and the ladies reminded me that if I am worried about the calories, I shouldn’t have come for pie.  Good point.

This week, I registered for the Big Sur Marathon.  I am glad I didn’t wait as the race which sold out in 26 hours last year sold out in 53 minutes this year.   It’s weird having two marathons behind me and two ahead.  I find myself much more excited about Big Sur than I am Santa Barbara.   I’ve been  giddy all week about Big Sur. I am visualizing the entire race and am looking forward to the miles of hills climes.  I should probably channel all that energy for the race that is 9 months away into training for the race that is only 16 weeks away.

I wanted to go out with the family this evening and see a movie.  Frankly, there was nothing out there we really wanted to see.  So I will close this week out by wishing you all well before I head to the gym.   On the plus side, tomorrow is one of those every other Fridays that I have off and I plan on enjoying it.

Carpe Aesta
Carpe Aestas People!
Carpe Aestas (Seize the Summer) : Week 4