Over the past couple of days, I’ve talked about how I went from couch potato to marathon runner in 18 months. I continue along today with how I gradually pushed harder to the point that I think I’m capable of giving Operation Jack a try.
I backed out of my run yesterday and cut it short to 1.1 miles because I was having various problems stemming from an incident on Tuesday where I rolled my ankle. I was overcompensating in other areas and having problems with my hamstrings, quads and my right knee. I used the foam roller last night and got up, planning to run. My ankle is still swollen, but I hate not running, so I figured I’d give it a try.
I went out and felt fine, more or less. I changed routes today to try to meet up with some people I run with in the mornings, but I didn’t time it right and I did the whole thing solo. I ended up going 16.6 and felt OK. I’m a touch slow right now, but I feel as good as I normally do after going for a run for that distance. I haven’t done a long run in two months and I think I’ll finally do it this weekend. Not sure what I’m going to do, but I’m not going to write it here, otherwise I’ll jinx myself.
Sally, if you read this, I got your email and I saw you guys (you were wearing orange — that’s proof!), but I was on my way in after the turnaround and if I would have joined you guys, it would have stretched my run to about 19. I don’t mind running 19, but I didn’t have the time. Sorry! See you Monday!
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 with my wife and his siblings to visit his aunt and cousin out in Murietta (for those of you not in Southern California, that’s about an hour east of where we live). He didn’t have a very good time. My wife was in Murietta, but poor little Jack was in Meltdown City. We’re guessing it’s the heat and the lack of a routine during the summer, but he’s had a rough week. It was really rough for him for a couple of hours, but he calmed down on the way back. During his therapy session, he did a good job. He duplicated the therapist’s efforts with legos and was fairly calm. He was in a good mood at the dinner table, although he didn’t do the greatest job eating his dinner. But that’s not a major surprise — he’s a 5-year-old!
Ice Cream Update
I stretched the streak to 30 days in a row with ice cream or frozen yogurt last night, finishing off the butter pecan hat was in the freezer. Tiff picked up some cookies & cream, so I figure I’ll hit 31 tonight. Until it’s a done deal, though, I’m only at 30.
Blood Drive Anyone?
I had thought about this about a week ago, and semi-decided to wait until I had more people here, but I’ve got a decent-sized crowd gathering and I’m gonna do this anyways. So here goes …
Monday will be the five-year anniversary of the death of my Uncle Bob. He died of leukemia. So, what I think I’m going to do is give blood. I hate needles I’ve given blood once, back when I was in college, and I hate the experience. But I was talking with a friend of mine named Peggy, who has one of the biggest hearts of anybody I’ve ever met, and she gives blood regularly. That sparked the idea. And for whatever reason, it came back to me on my run this morning.
So, I’m going to move my physical therapy appointment from Monday to Tuesday and go give blood in his honor. I know I’m just a stranger blogging on the internet to most of you, but if you’ve ever thought about giving blood but needed a kick in the pants, do it Monday! Post here and let me know, or contact me privately, and I’ll let my aunt (his widow) know and it will make her day. I know not all of you will, but if I can get just one person to, I think that would be awesome.
My Road To Operation Jack
On the surface, it looks a little crazy to be attempting 60 marathons next year. Most people think one marathon is crazy enough. I remember an old co-worker of mine had run 24 over the years and I thought that was nuts. I’m at 25 right now and I don’t think that’s a big deal. Maybe I’ve lost touch with reality a little bit, although to be cIear, I haven’t run 60 marathons. I’m just planning on trying to. I see the feedback, and some of you think it’s unfathomable, but really, I’m nothing special as a runner and I’ve been trying to illustrate why you shouldn’t think any goal is unreachable.
I’m no track star or athlete or anything special. As I explained on Wednesday, I’m just a recovering fat guy who was so slow he cheated on the timed mile in PE. And as I explained yesterday, the only thing I’m good at is work hard to chase a goal. I never told myself I couldn’t do something.
I went from 60 pounds overweight to a 4:06 marathon in 18 months. There’s a big difference between the two points, but the path between them is realistic and reasonable. I think it’s the same from that 4:06 to where I’m at now.
After my first marathon, I really wanted to go sub-4. I started my long runs at 13 miles, but I cut the pace down to 9 minutes a mile. I gradually stretched the runs back up to 24 miles at that rate. I wasn’t following any specific training plan. I just went out and ran 7 or 8 miles in the morning most weekdays, then my long run on the weekend. In October of 2006, 19 weeks after that 4:06, I ran a 3:49 as I continued to gain fitness. I was in marathon shape and I maintained that, then ran a 3:39:57 on a downhill Tucson course 6 weeks later. I think the 3:49 was actually a little slow for my ability and the 3:39 was a touch fast due to gravity. I was probably gaining fitness and going from 3:46 ability to 3:42 ability in that time period. That’s about 10 seconds per mile over six weeks, which at that level is reasonable if you work hard.
Five weeks later, I ran another 3:39, then attempted to run one two weeks later and struggled to a 3:54. I was disappointed with my effort that day and ran another one two weeks later. I knew that would be my last race for four months, so I gave it my all, ran a very controlled race and earned a 3:38. To this point, I hadn’t done anything spectacular. It was February of 2007, and in the back of my mind, I really wanted to run Boston in 2008.
I knew I’d have San Diego in June and then Long Beach in October. I wanted to BQ (for non-marathoners, that means to qualify for Boston) in Long Beach. I needed to run a 3:10, which required an unthinkable 7:17/mile pace. I figured I’d get after it and try to get halfway, 3:24, by June. I upped the mileage gradually from 45 miles a week to about 55 miles a week. I was running about 4-5 times a week, and one day a week, usually on a Wednesday or so, I got up a little earlier and ran a half marathon (13.1 miles) in training. I was running myself into the ground, but it was a gradual progression, one that was reasonable and required nothing more than dedication and hard work.
In San Diego that June, I thought I had worked my way up to about 3:17 or so shape, but I got greedy and went for the 3:10, even though I knew I couldn’t do it. I ran a fast first half, but struggled in the second half and finished with a 3:21. Still I exceeded that 3:24 target and only need to trim 11 minutes by October. When you start to get into that range, 11 minutes is a lot of time, but I REALLY wanted it, and I decided to bury myself in a training program for 18 weeks. Based on my mileage volume, I was on the outside limits of being able to run a plan called the Pfitz 18/70+, which was seven days a week, 18 weeks and a minimum of 70 miles a week (with a peak of 93).
It seemed impossible, but I really, really wanted that BQ, and I figured if I gave it a try and failed, I’d be in the same spot as if I didn’t even try. I trained hard through that long, hot summer. I was far from perfect. I broke down, struggled to do some of the runs as well as I needed to, missed some runs, tried to make up miles sometimes, came up short some weeks. But I gave it everything I had. Like I mentioned yesterday, I just tried to get a little bit better every day.
Race day came and I went out and did everything I could to stay within myself. I ran the miles and my target pace, avoided going too fast, and ran exactly as I intended. I ran from Long Beach to Boston in 3:07:53. Read from the top on this section, and tell me where I did anything that was amazing or unusual or unrealistic for the average person (I swear, I’m just an average guy with below-average talent). You can’t find it, because all I did was work hard. I didn’t do anything than anybody can’t do, but what I did didn’t come easy.
Since then, I stayed with a high-mileage routine. I enjoy running and it’s how I like to start my day. It’s my time where I get to think with no distractions. It’s where I came up with the idea for Operation Jack. Since that first BQ, I’ve run 17 more marathons, a 50K and a 50-miler. I have 11 Boston qualifiers and a 3:00:05 personal-best to my credit, although I think the thing I’m the most proud of was running a 3:06 with a bad left leg on a Sunday in Long Beach last October, then following with a 3:04 in Kansas City the next Saturday and a 3:09 the next day in Wichita. I was able to pull that off because I’ve run so much mileage that I’m used to running through pain and fatigue.
This experience is why I think I can give Operation Jack a try. If you take a look at what I wrote Wednesday and yesterday, you can see that it’s all been a gradual progression. While I might be much farther along than somebody who can only walk a few miles on a treadmill, I was that person less than five years ago and no special natural ability got me to where I am.
I’m not saying everybody should think about running a dozen marathons next year, but if you want to run a marathon, the only reason you won’t be able to is if you tell yourself you can’t.
Coolest Wedding Invitation Ever
Well, except for my own, which my bride picked out! If you’ve never seen this, it’s TOTALLY worth the four minutes!
Have A Great Weekend!
You guys are really doing a great job bringing people in to the site … keep it up and keep ’em coming! Traffic is on the rise and that will do great things for Operation Jack. I know I beg everyday, but, well, so, I guess that makes today just like any other day, because I’m begging again! If you haven’t registered for the site, please do! It’s easy to because it’s automatic if you leave a comment! Also please try to send one new person here over the weekend. It’s all for a good cause, and the more people here, the better we do!
OK, that’s all I’ve got for today. Have a great weekend! Thank you for your support of Operation Jack!