Yesterday, I wrote about how horrible my health was less than five years ago. I couldn’t run a mile and my cholesterol was off the charts. But it took less than two years to get from my first walk around the block to my first full marathon. I’ll get to that a little bit farther down.
I was stiff all day yesterday. I’m used to running 15 or 16 miles a day, but I haven’t been tremendously consistent over the past few months, so two days in a row with 16.1-milers left me a little banged up. My knee is good enough to run on, but my left ankle is pretty sore after I did a nasty job rolling it in a parking lot on Tuesday afternoon. So, I didn’t really know what to expect heading into today’s run. Well, I expected painful miles, but that was about it.
I’m always a little sore when I run. I guess that’s just part of running a fair amount of miles every day. But my hamstrings were really sore this morning. Yesterday, because of my ankle, I think I ran a little unnaturally and favored my quads. They were very sore early on in my run. I think my hamstrings paid the price, because they wouldn’t loosen up today. I start by taking it easy downhill on the street I live on. It’s about a 30-foot drop over 1/10th of a mile. Usually, I’m comfortably at a 7:15 pace going down the hill. Today, I was at 8:44 and I knew I was in trouble. I mentally changed my 15-miler to 6 recover miles. Once I get down that hill, I turn up a hill that’s about 75 feet of gain over 1/4 mile. By the time I hit the top, I’m normally comfortable with an average pace in the 8:50s. Today, I was up over 10 minutes and thinking about how my hamstrings weren’t getting warm.
Well, about a minute or two later, I started to feel it in my knee. I know that tight hamstrings caused my knee problems I have right now, and I wasn’t about to wreck it. So I did the turnaround. 1.1 glorious miles in about 11 minutes today. What a workout. I went home and made some coffee, did some perfect push-ups and got some work done instead.
I took a look at my ankle and it looked a little fat, so I had Tiff take a look. Sure enough, it’s swollen. It doesn’t hurt too bad, but swelling can’t be a good thing. Hopefully it gets better sooner rather than later.
I Have The GREATEST Mother-In-Law Ever
I’m not just saying that because she bakes really good pies. I’m saying that because she registered here at operationjack.com last night and will probably read this today.
Speaking of registering here at operationjack.com, if you like this blog, you’ll automatically get an email notification every time I post a new one if you’re registered here. Of course, you have the option to unsubscribe at any time. I’ll beg again at the bottom, but I might as well throw it in up here, too. Right now, I’m just building a base here as we head into next year. Please, take just a minute and register! Free, no obligation, your info isn’t going anywhere. I just want to be able to keep in touch with you when we start rolling. You’d be surprised at how little you’ll be able to do to actually make a difference with Operation Jack and you know it’s a great cause!
In case this is your first time here, or if you’ve never been to the rest of the site, I’m planning on running 60 marathons next year to raise awareness for a charity called Train 4 Autism. My son, Jack, is severely autistic and I want to do something to make a difference in his honor. In this spot in each blog, I’ll talk about Jack a little bit.
Jack went for a ride with me last night to drop off a ton of flyers to a friend of mine who is going to help distribute them (THANK YOU Erin!) and was chilling in the back seat, playing on his Leapster. But he fell asleep by about 6:45! Poor dude was beat. I carried him up to his bed when I got home at about 7:20. Too bad he had an early night, but he is so cute when he sleeps! Unfortunately, though, he didn’t look that cute for long. He woke up for two hours in the middle of the night last night, the second straight night he’s done that. Mama Tiff is tired today. Heck, so am I.
My Non-Running Past
Yesterday, as I mentioned earlier, I wrote about how horrible my health was and how unathletic I am. If you didn’t read it, you should check it out, otherwise the next portion of this blog won’t make a ton of sense. There’s a pretty sweet video of Sam 1.0, an outdated version that required a LOT more bandwidth!
How I Went From Not Being Able To Run A Mile To Finishing A Marathon In About 18 Months
Well, I started walking in about December of 2004. It was tough. I live in a hilly area (hence the name Foothill Ranch), which doesn’t make things easy. There’s a 1.7-mile loop near my home and I took two laps per morning. I thought I was covering four miles, but I learned later than it was only about 3.4 It took about an hour and I enjoyed listening to music on the iPod. The mileage wore me out and my legs would be sore all day, but gradually, it got a little easier. Nothing unusual or impossible to do.
I started to get antsy and wanted to run a little bit, so after the first loop, I’d jog the downhill and then walk the uphill to finish. When that got easier, I’d start to jog the uphill. Well, for a little bit. I couldn’t make it the whole way. My weight started to drop, from 261, right through the 250s, and then gradually through the 240s. After about six or seven months of that, by July of 2005, I was able to jog about half the time, mostly on the downhills. I really wanted to jog the whole thing, so for about a month, I moved my workouts to the treadmill in the garage. My goal was to run 4 10-minute miles without stopping. It took a month, but I got past two miles, then got past three miles, and eventually, I pulled it off. Again, nothing unusual or impossible to do. It just took a little bit of work and determination.
I ran those 4 miles in 40 minutes about 4 times in one week, and then decided to give it a go outside. I finally went back out around the loop in the morning, and I made it around twice. And that became my daily run, about 4 times a week (weekends off!). For the next three months, I fought hard to finish those miles in 40 minutes. I did, although I thought I was running 10-minute miles, when it was really about 11:45/mile. I started to watch what I ate a little more closely. I didn’t want to waste my run on a candy bar. I dipped into the high end of the 230s. I was totally content with what I was doing, knowing it was just a matter of time until I got down to 225. I figured that would be good enough and I’d be good and healthy if I was only 25 pounds overweight. 10 months in the books, down from 60 pounds overweight to about 40 pounds overweight and slowly jogging 3.4 miles a day. Nothing unusual or impossible to do. It took some work, but I’d love to hear somebody tell me why they couldn’t do that.
I was in a nice little routine. And then it happened. Somebody brought donuts to work. My co-worker Rhett asked me if I wanted one, and I told him, “No way — I didn’t run four miles this morning to go waste it on a donut!” Rhett didn’t know I ran four miles a day. Actually, I didn’t. I slogged 3.4 miles. But that’s not the point. He was registered for a 1/2 marathon about 6 weeks later and he asked me if I wanted to run it. I asked him how long a 1/2 marathon was, because certainly he didn’t think a human being could actually run 13.1 miles. But yeah, that’s what he meant. Wow. No way. I’d heard of people running those crazy long races, but I didn’t know where you could actually find one and there was NO WAY I was going to do it.
He partially convinced me I could do it, then partially chickened me into it. I went for it, never mind the fact that my wife was about to give birth to our third child. Going from 3.4 lousy miles to 13.1 in six weeks with a newborn was a challenge, but I gave it a good try. One of my co-workers ran the LA Marathon about 10 or 12 years earlier, so I asked her what I should do to get ready. She told me that as long as I could run 6 miles a day and one 10-miler, I’d be fine. So, I picked it up to what I thought was 6 miles (nope, my miscalculated route was just 5.1) and then ran an 8 (er, 6.8) and eventually a 10-miler (tape-measured at 8.5, of course). This took some effort, but it certainly wasn’t anything impossible to do. It was painful, but not unrealistic.
I showed up on race day, totally nervous, not really believing that I was actually going to run a 1/2 marathon. I weighed 232 pounds that day. This was totally going to be a one-and-done thing. I’m not a racer, and it’s just not something I wanted to do. But I figured I’d do it, brag about it for a bit and then move on. My goal was 10-minute miles. I held that pace for the first three miles, but then I couldn’t hang and I dropped off the pace. I struggled miserably and finished with a 2:29:45, about 11:30 or so per mile. I had, uh, racing stripes (OK, bloody nipples … there — I wrote it) and it took me about 10 minutes to catch my breath when I finished. It was a terrible day. I felt embarrassed by my time and I didn’t want to show my face at work the next Monday. I struggled in that race and my perseverance got me to the finish line. Like everything else to that point, I didn’t do anything that took any kind of skill or natural ability. It took work, and I had to push myself and suffer a little bit, but what I did is FAR from impossible for the averge person.
Anyways, I’m competitive, and I decided that there was NO WAY that was going to be my last showing. I needed to average 10-minute miles before I could retire. So, I signed up for another one that was five weeks later. I needed a 2:11:00 to avenge my miserable showing, and then I could get back to doing anything else. I trained a little harder, bought a Garmin, figured out my actual miles and pace, and trained as hard as I could for the next five weeks. I got my miles up over 30 per week, and I got my weight down to about 227. This was where the hard work started to come in. It wasn’t any kind of natural gift and it’s nothing that anybody else couldn’t do if they wanted to.
I ran a 2:11:18 in that second race. Yep, I missed retirement by 18 seconds. So, I signed up for a third 1/2 marathon, four weeks later. I smashed through that 10-minute barrier, running a 2:08:38, a “scorching” 9:53 pace, but a funny thing happened during those four weeks. A buddy of mine, who probably can’t even run a mile, dared me to run a full. He virtually chickened me into it. I think that might be my weakness, because it worked. I was in, and looking ahead to the full before that third 1/2. At this point, I was only about three months past running farther than 4 miles. I hadn’t done anything unrealistic or impossible, and I was registered for a full marathon.
Training for the full, I stretched my morning runs from 5 miles to 6 miles and when I felt strong, I even made it 7. I’m a proud graduate of Kansas State University, and our football coach, Bill Snyder, used to talk about his program getting just a little bit better every day. I always thought about that, thinking I’d push myself a little harder every day. I might not see the difference in the mirror, but I knew that with every workout, I pushed as hard as I could to make myself a little bit better every day, and that’s what was happening. It’s not an outrageous work ethic.
I had to push myself, but I wanted it, and I was willing to try, and that made all the difference. I pushed my long runs by a mile a week. 14, 15, 16 … next thing you know, I’m running 20 miles. 20 miles! This is April 2006, and a year before, I couldn’t even run four miles. What I had done to that point was not incredible or impossible. It was just work and determination. I feel like I’m plagiarizing Coach Snyder, but that’s really what I thought about, getting a little bit better with each run. I didn’t take it easy. I took it hard.
On June 4, 2006, I ran San Diego Rock ‘N Roll in 4:06:25 and became a marathoner. Unless you have physical disabilities, I don’t know why you can’t do the same if you want to. Unless you tell yourself you can’t, you can. Ok, I said I’d get into how I qualified for Boston, but I’m running short on space. Technically, it’s a web page built to flow infinitely, and there’s plenty of storage space in the database, but I need y’all to get to the point at the bottom where I beg you to bring people to the site! I’ll continue with this tomorrow.
Best Race Ever
I’m going running-related with the video today. Check out 800m from the 1972 Olympics if you’ve never seen it. It’s a quickie, only two laps. Watch Dave Wottle (in the hat) on the second lap. Watch where he comes from and then his final kick. Wow.
I’ll be sure too enjoy my lunch today — I meeting up with two of my best friends at In-N-Out to celebrate one of their birthdays. Whatever you do, I hope you enjoy your day, too! If you’re looking for ideas of things to do, you can always post a comment here, register with Operation Jack (no obligations and your info isn’t going anywhere!) or, even better, bring one new person to the site today! That’s all I’ve got for today, friends. Thanks as always for your support of Operation Jack!