Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Sliding Into San Diego

I heard from an old friend this week. Remember the movie Sliding Doors with Gywneth Paltrow? One extra step, one more minute, one more phone call, and your life could take a memorable turn ...

I started running in 2002. In 2003 I was doing 5Ks. Then I got "workforce reduced" from my dot-bomb job. A local firm found me off dice and offered me a consulting gig at Yum! Brands. I flew up to Louisville, headquarters for Colonel Sanders, to meet my client. In his office, this was his screen saver.

I distinctly remember that this was when the seed was first planted, that maybe, just maybe there's an outside chance a marathon could creep into the realm of remote possibilities for me. It didn't grow much at first, but it just sat there and annoyed me for months, 5K after 5K, a constant self-imposed reminder to sh*t or get off the pot. Finally in 2004, almost a year later, I started training for a half, which pushed me beyond my 6 mile limit at the time. I ran The Half in Dallas, and when that was done, I signed up for San Diego.

On June 5, 2005, the journey that started on a desktop image in Louisville finally ended on the asphalt at Balboa Park, as I waited in the pre-dawn darkness on a cool, crisp southern California morning. I thought of all the people I knew, but now knew differently, for they had all gutted out this experience, each in their own way - MS at the Flying Pig, JM at Disney, RM at Marine Corps, TP at Little Rock, JC at NYC, and LB at White Rock. I wondered what their journeys had been like, how they endured their long runs in training, how they ran while others slept, how they rested while other played. In due course I would start the last leg of my adventure, and a starting line picture to call my own, complete with runnin' Elvis-es. If you look closely beneath the balloons, I'm pretty sure I'm in there somewhere. Thanks again MS, for the Flying Pig that started it all.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Objects In Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear

Back when I was a graduate student in EE, I think I could have made sense of this explanation, but now it just looks like, well, like one of my favorite quotes from Rocky III:

Interviewer: What's your prediction for the fight?
Clubber Lang: My prediction?
Interviewer: Yes, your prediction.
Clubber Lang: (short pause, stare into camera for effect, use low guttural voice) ... Pain!

Anyway, since I started running, I've adopted a whole different perspective of time and distance, mostly distance. Things that seemed to look far away are not as far anymore, even though they probably still are (everything's relative of course).

Especially when I travel, I'm amazed to look out my hotel window after coming back from a run, to see how far I've made it on foot and back, something I could never have dreamed of doing before.

I dug up this old vacation picture from a couple of summers ago in Nassau. It's taken from our hotel window at the British Colonial Hilton looking east down Bay Street, the main shopping drag. The glitzy Atlantis Hotel and Casino on Paradise Island is marked, and that's a 24 story building!

The thing is, maybe I'm just bad with judging distances, but I could never have told you how far away that building is. Hell, even now I probably can't do it, except that I ran there and back. Ran down Bay Street, past the Straw Market, past the duty free shops, past mostly abandoned lots and light industrial factories further out, slight curve to the right, then hop onto the bridge you can just make out in the picture, feel like a million bucks at the top of the bridge, soak in the sunshine and stiff island breeze, cross the harbor onto Paradise Island, gawk at luxury yachts tied up at dock, and uphill a couple hundred feet into the main lobby of the Atlantis Hotel. Even now I can play out the run in my mind. Total distance: less than 5 miles round trip, and worth every step.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Run Lola Run

Every once in a while the discussion comes up again about favorite running movies. The usual suspects surface, like Rocky (duh! ... well, ok, it deserves it's #1 ranking), Chariots of Fire, etc. along with some dark horses like Last of the Mohicans and Vision Quest.

My darkest of dark horses entry is Run Lola Run. It's German and stars Franka Potente in the lead role. She also played Maria in The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy. This is my top recommendation to anyone who's into foreign flicks. If you can survive the first 10 minutes, you'll won't be able to leave until the movie ends, so buckle up and settle down for the long haul. Not sure how inspiring this movie will be, but it's guaranteed - guaranteed! - to get the pulse rate up.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Not Just The Facts Ma'am

3 might be too early a trend, but the first 3 running blogs I've decided to link to on my blog are all by women. These are the ones that I personally want to read again and again. Why no guys? Because the ones I've read are B-O-R-I-N-G (even to runners IMHO) - facts, facts, and more facts. Day 1 time 1 distance 1 temp 1; day 2 time 2 distance 2 splits 2; day 3 time 3 hills 3. Zzzzzzz.

Not to say some blogs by women are just as boring, but the good ones I've found by Allison, Chelle, and Yvonne are bursting with life. They talk about what they see, hear, smell, feel, and yes sometimes even taste (!) before, during, and after running; not just the miles of concrete covered or the ticks elapsed. In their blogs I see joy, concern, apprehension, disappointment, determination, rejuvenation, surprise, arrogance (only towards cyclists!), guts, pride, humor, agony, indecision, consternation, tenacity, embarrassment, decisiveness, confidence, and on and on. It makes me want to open up my mind and senses when I go out for my run. Thanks guys ... oops, girls, gals, women, you know what I mean!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Oh The Other Places You'll Go

Well, Hilton only shows you your last 12 months of stays, so I have to compile my 2002-2004-ish list from memory after all. More cities I have run in:
  • New York, NY
  • Chicago, IL
  • San Jose, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Austin, TX
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Nassau, Bahamas
  • Los Cabos, Mexico
  • Louisville, KY
  • Washington D.C.
  • Orlando, FL

This is a shorter list than I thought. There's more places pre-2002 that I now wish I had run in, but too late for that. Memorable runs and routes to follow later ...

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Brush With Glory

I read this last Friday and ran the Freedom Run 5k on Saturday. Half way into the race, this guy and his flag comes up behind me. As he passes, I call out "Way to go Aaron!" - don't know how I remembered his name, but I did.

He turned to look, smiled, and said "Thanks". Short pause. "How did you know my name?". I replied "You're famous" and left it at that. He pulled away, feeling even better about what he was doing, I hope. I applaud his efforts. He should be famous. Hell, he's on this blog, isn't he?

So, RU a serious runner?

I've always answered "no" to this question, even though I personally feel like I take my running pretty seriously. I'm not fast and I've never competed and won anything, but I've finished a whole bunch of races, mostly 2nd quartile stuff, ahead of middle-of-the-pack. Boston certainly looks like a remote scenario, if I had to qualify to get in (how in the world do you trim 65 mins off over 26 miles?).

So why do I still feel like I'm a serious runner inside? Mainly because I run something, pretty much every week. Except for Decembers. With holidays and the weather, I gave up trying to stay on record and just decided to take the whole month off. Other than one or two bouts of the flu, I've run every week since I started in the summer of 2002, at least once in order to count, on average 3 times/week.

Looking at some running blogs out there (start with
Alison's and follow the links), there's some serious miles being logged. More power to them. This blog will undoubtedly be different. Just like my races, it'll be a little slower, a few notches below the first wave of runners. Respectable I hope, but nothing to call home about. BTW - for some perspectives from a broader range of runners, try the Runner's World Forum - something for everyone there.

Move it, move it, move it ...

I don't think this should be a log of every single run I make. But it did compel me to go out this morning, after I missed yesterday's run. I have an Oktoberfest 5K run this Sat., and I really should get in a couple runs this week. 4 mile minimum is what I did, just to keep the parts working.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Oh The Places You'll Go

One of the things I've always wanted to do is record all the places I've run. I travel quite a bit for work, and I try to get out and run in every city I visit. So far this year, not counting hometown Dallas, I've run in:
  • Bridgewater, NJ
  • Downers Grove, IL
  • Ybor City, FL
  • San Diego, CA
  • Kona, HI
  • Honolulu, HI
  • Sioux Falls, SD
  • Jacksonville, FL

I re-created this list not from memory, but from my stay history at Hilton. Sad but true. It's a great hotel chain though. More later about some good running routes in these cities.

Why I'm Here

I've never had a blog, until now. Then again, I've never been a runner, until 2002. This month's Runner's World magazine has an article encouraging people to start a running blog. They mentioned one by by Alison Wade. It looked pretty interesting ... I figured I'll try this out and see what happens.