Tuesday, September 29, 2009

TEAM ROOT DOWN MARATHONING

Col' rocked eleven miles yesterday. I guess, in journalism, once you exceed the number "ten" in a sequence, you are to transition to numerical representation of numbers. I ran 11 miles yesterday. 11 miles will get you comfortably from American Airlines Center in downtown Dallas up to White Rock Lake. This week, I'll run 12. It was a challenge yesterday. Had to run without Kool Aid. Woke up at 5:30 and went through my typical pre-run preparation and stretching. The book had spoken of developing a self-affirmation of sorts that you're to say to yourself the second you get out of bed all the way up to your run and during your run. More on that later. But I had that going through my head during the hour leading up to it. Tried not to get too hyped up though. As they advise, you don't wanna get too up for a run or your pace is ruined and you'll wear out faster.

So many rules and every runner is different.

My pregames are pretty much like this. Contacts in. Banana. Bagel. Maybe another banana. Four ibuprofen. Two glasses of water. Stretch. Stretch back. Stretch legs. Stretch legs. Stretch legs. Stretch arms. Stretch neck. Stretch back. Stretch legs again. Put on underwear. Put on shorts. Watch TV. Relax. Self affirm. Get iPod ready. Fill up Camelbak with Gatorade/water mixture. Pack supplement gel. Pack phone. Vaseline inner thighs. Vaseline nipples. Put on shirt. Tuck in the back. Put on hat. Go out front. Stretch back and arms again. Self affirm. Stretch calves. Stretch Achilles. Shake out arms and legs. Check time. Start music. Put in headphones. Commence jog.

It's done much in the same way that a warrior prepares for battle. I quietly move from room to room breathing deeply. Now become methodical. Ritualistic. Of course, in my days, from about 6AM to 7:30 is always ritualistic. If it wasn't, I'd probably say, "What in the hell am I doing up at this hour?" And go back to bed.

Suppose you get used to it.

You have many friends in marathoning. Besides my partner who is constantly there to push me and to push. It's a symbiotic relationship. Important for a runner. Doing the run yesterday was easy after I accepted on the third mile that he ain't there and I'm just going to have to deal with it.

Other important friends are your gear. Essential in a Root Down Run is the iPod. Until a few years ago, runners didn't have many options as far as portable music except the Discman or the Walkman. Both of which were incredibly bulky and limited as far as duration of play.


The iPod Shuffle however has a good four hours of play and such a very small fame that pressing play and throwing it in the small pocket of your Camelbak is fairly easy. Also, given that you can't search for songs, it takes out the temptation to thumb through which REO Speedwagon song you want to hear next. Press play and take what it gives you. That's what the Shuffle was designed for. Also, the Shuffle is quite durable and shielded from the elements like sweat, Gatorade, stompings or dog bite. Practically indestructable. My music of choice yesterday was some old DJ Shadow radio mixes. I prefer 30-45 minute mixes for continuous musical enjoyment. I don't like the song-shuffling format. Too chaotic. I'm a long-play homie.

Also, you can't do anything more than four miles without significant hydration. In the summer, you can't do more than two. That's where the Camelbak comes in. For about thirty bones, you can sport one of these beautiful packs.


In many ways, it's kinda the fannypack of the runner's world, but because we're not camels and we need constant water, the Camelbak is a necessary piece of gear. Not only is it great for hydration, it's gotta small pocket that can carry a phone, a Shuffle and one of those nasty-ass Carb packets. Also, for your upper body, while it's not that heavy at all, it does act as resistance in your run and can strengthen shoulders over the course of a two-hour run. Don't be a moron like me and bite through the valve when you first get it. I've been dealing with a constant leak and, after my ten-miler, that leak led to wetness all over the right side of my shirt and resulted in a small case of runner's nipple where a wet garment rubbing on a sensitive area just takes layers of skin right off. Yeah, bloody nipple. Read the instructions if you wanna keep your nipples. Nothing gangsta about losing nipples on a long run.
If you're running when the sun's out, you're gonna need a hat. If you're gonna run in any temperature higher than 60 degrees, it's gonna need to breathe. I started out with my Fog Hat. It worked for shielding my balding head and huge forehead from the sun, but that's really about it.
This thing was hotter than hell and was like wearing some sort of Medieval sweating torture device. When I'd take it off, it was like someone was wrenching a sweat towel over me. I needed something different. That's when I transitioned into the less fashionable, but more functional Under Armour runner's cap. Made of a mesh, those manure-fused West Texas winds go right through my headgear however my hairless top is well-protected from the sun.

They're kinda expensive. I'd prefer they put at least a double-T on there so I could represent something other than Under Armour. Looking for a different one with less logoing on it. I don't belong to anyone. Team Root Down, baby.
Other friends of Team Root Down are less gear and more related to diet/nutrition or medical preventatives. The most important of these include the banana. As much as I've hated these for, uh, the last twenty five years, I've finally trained my body to receive them again. I needed to. The banana is a high potassium food that's fantastic before and after runs because the potassium relieves cramping and aches in the body during a run and shortly after.

I munch one a day even if it's not a run day. Also, from the fruit family, I religiously much also an apple and an orange a day. Apples are good in carbs and oranges are my cold and flu preventative. It's worked the last three winters. Another important element to Team Root Down Marathoning is ibuprofen. Other than being coated in that vomitous Longhorn-orange, these puppies are great for also relieving aches during the run. I pop four of them before heading out on the long runs and three before the medium runs. And, mostly, before bedtime, I'll take a few more because it helps me sleep well--mostly aiding with backaches.
Keep them around. I like to muscle through just about everything, but sometimes it's necessary to take a pill here or there.

On the earlier runs, because I hated the sensation of Vaseline on my body, I was using baby powder to aid in the dryness of those sensitive bathing suit areas. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about.
It worked well on the short runs, but as we went moved into six miles and up, it was no match for the incredible accumulation of sweat so I moved up to Vaseline that, not only can effectively fix squeaky doors, it can also make sure that there's no chaffing and blistering in your hot spots. Not only that, it doesn't powder up right smack in the middle of your shorts when you're running. I wear black shorts so when that white powder hits the front of them, it looks like you peed cocaine. Not a good look.
Ah, Vaseline. Proper administration of those retro-petro can prevent a number of things--most importantly of those is the debilitating chaffing that can lay you up for multiple runs depending on the severity. Not only that, it makes you walk like a duck or a penguin. Being that I'm already naturally awkward, having to explain an otherwise unexplainable waddle is not something I'd particularly like to do. Vaseline up. Hit the nipples. You don't wanna end up being some weird nipple-less alien creature who eats poodles. Vaseline is your friend. Holla.
In my reading, there's much talk about the mental aspect of running. I think too of the spiritual aspect of running. There's a lot at work when you're forcing your body to accept, now, two consecutive hours of exertion. It's mental, spiritual and definitely physical. If one's not working, there's an imbalance and it could be detrimental.
Firstly, you're trying to maintain your pace, your rhythm, your step. You're trying not to think. Trying not to get too hyped up.
Breathe. Keep your head level. Stay on your heels. Keep breathing. Why is my belly cramping. Keep breathing. In and out. In and out. Stay loose. Stay on your heels. Head up. Back straight. Don't lean forward. When you lean forward, you're running on your toes. Stay back. Upright. Arms at your side angled down and don't clinch those fists, dude. Your shoulders will start hurting. Head level. Breathe, homie. Keep breathing. Look both ways. Proceed. Why does my ankle hurt? Don't think about the ankle. Belly cramp is still there. Breathe it away. Stay loose. In and out. In. Out. In. Out. Great, a dog with no leash. Look both ways. Wonder what our pace is.
As you proceed into the run, many of these instructions habitualize and are no longer thought. They're just done.
Breathe. Back straight. Head level. Stay on your heels.
The pains go away. The cramping reduces. Traffic is traffic. You look for it, but you're not terribly alarmed by it. Dogs? Hell, you don't notice them until they're running right next to you like one did to me the other day. I didn't even notice that I was listening to a radio interview the other day on my iPod for close to ten minutes because I was zoning and my body had relaxed into a pace and a comfortable position. The pace becomes less an issue than just making it. When you don't think of pace, I've found, you actually hit your best pace. You force it once you start to think of it.
Breathe. Back straight. Head level. Stay on your heels.
The other day, I did ten miles at a 10:19 pace. Yesterday, I did 11 miles at a 10:48 pace. More hills mainly. I think my true pace is somewhere in the middle, but am not going to obsess about it.
There's also the emphasis put on visualization in the book. That a simple loop that you can play back in your head might make all the difference in the world. They say it can be a "greatest hits" loop of a sampling from each of your best runs. Like what the weather was like, what it felt like, where you were, who you were running with. The smells, the sights. Or maybe a visualization of what it will be like finishing the marathon. Who will be there to greet you. What you'll say to them. What they'll say to you. How good you'll feel. I got the visualization of ending the race and hugging my lovely wife. That's a great one. Not quite as good, but more entertaining is the visualization that I'm running away from an army of zombies. I know, it sounds stupid, but when you're crawling up that hill, I like to visualize that there's about fifty zombies behind me ready to tear my arms off.
It's actually how I arrived at my next music project: "Music to Flee a Zombie Invasion By." I see it as a two-hour dash from thousands of zombies. Not the Night of the Living Dead variety, but the Dawn of the Dead remake variety where all of them run and hurdle like Carl Lewis. Just wait. This is gonna be ill.
Oh yeah. The affirmation. It's a little Stuart Smalley, but I get it. I'm following the book's instructions. I don't know any better. So it goes like this:
I'm a marathoner. I'll run on any day at any time in any weather. I don't ache. I don't tire. I don't get frustrated. While I wasn't born to do this, I can train my body to do anything and nothing can hold me back. With God on my side and hell on my heels, I'm running my happy-ass 26.22 miles in December.
Rinse and repeat. Rinse and repeat. Going to Juarez this week to build a home. Pretty sure I won't be running down there. Will need to find a way to knock out a 12-miler this week. Shirts should be in this week. Demand seems to be extended past supplies. The early responders to my solicitations will get their shirts. First come first serve. I'll be reaching out for addresses once I get them back from the Austin area.
New shoes come in this week too. Word 'em up.

24 comments:

TX said...

Yeah...don't run in Juarez unless there's a canon mounted on a dilapidated jeep following you. Then run and hide. Push ups and sit ups. Still got me down for 2 XL shirts?

sarahsmile3 said...

Wow. We need to get together soon, dear Jeff. I would love to talk about all of this with you.

j3 said...

yep, two XL's. you got it.

sarah, whenever. you thinking of running?

sarahsmile3 said...

Yep. I'm not sure if marathoning is for me but I would like to be able to run a good 3-5 miles.

Koolaid said...

Next year Hollywood, its about speed. I'm sure I will be done with running long distances so instead I think I will see how fast I can run a 5k or 10k....

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