How This Started

So I told the boys I was going to run with them for a mile around the Scott Middle School track, where we go run once or twice a week.

We stretched. As always, I fed nuggets about how if it itten burning somewhere in your hamstrings, right here, you are doing it incorrectly. So on. So forth.

My idea today was to have them do a mile without them walking and me do the same as a warmup.

Daniel Adam shot out in front. S’Pat and I stayed slightly behind.

Stephen fell. He tripped on his shoelaces somehow, he now tells me.

All I knew then was that my youngest had fallen. Slipped. Stumbled. His eyes looking up at me. Embarassed. Glowing with suprise and hurt.

And I was not having any of it, even though I am having a heck of a moment thinking and typing about it.

I stuck my hand down and said, “We fall. We get up. Come on. Let’s finish this.”

When we were done, we sat on the metal bleacher, sweaty with scorched asses.

Stephen said Daniel was fast, Dad. Daniel said Stephen was tough.

Y’ know somethin’? I said while I pulled my heel back to my butt. Stephen is tough. He. Did. Not. Quit. I slapped my right hand into my left palm at the end of each word. His feet never quit. Neither does he.

And Daniel is fast. He is using his stride better & better.

If Stephen stays tough, and he will, he’ll get fast. If Daniel stays fast, he’ll get tougher.

Dad, asked Little Steve as he did that pooch thing he does, I see how being tougher can help you be faster. I don’t see how getting faster can make you tougher.

Because, I stated, the better you do? The more you want to do. The more you want to do, the more you will do. You are my precious sons. You have brass balls that clack when you walk. We all laughed.

I ran 3.06/28. Then we went home to eat shrimp nachos.

I  strongly considering a running blog, one that focuses on starting and finishing and family life. Then I did it.  Now here it is.

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Stephen!

So I told my oldest son he could participate in an upcoming 1mile Fun Run if he could go a mile without stopping.

1mi/12:06.

“Dad, I told myself: ‘If Dad tells me I can do it, I can do it. Now let’s go see Grandaddy Danny and ‘n’Annie. I’m proud of myself.”

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He has started a competition at school where he gets a certificate for running a certain number of miles within the school year.

I am very proud of him.

Race Report #1: SLCC Striding for Scholarships 5K. Saturday, October 7th, 2017.

So last Saturday, I ran my first 5k for a fundraiser at work.

I must give thanks and praise to a local running store, Geaux Run, here in Lafayette, Lousiana.  Shout out to Nora and staff!  They have personalized attention along with running-specific knowledge you simply don’t get from big-chain sporting good places.    Thanks to them, I was able to find out about an excellent running coach who facilitates a local running group and gives free advice from his years of elite running and coaching other elite runners.  You can find their weekly newsletter (along with information concerning their accessories, apparel, hydration, nutrition, and shoes) on their webpage at www.geauxrun.com

The group I run with under Mr. Tom Hopkins currently offers “Torture Tuesday” out at Moncus Park also known as the Horse Farm.  There is a big bush-hogged pasture there such that the grass is not lawn mower clipped but also not knee-high weeds.  At least, not usually.  The first day I did this, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was way in over my head.  I was pleased that I did not puke and that I halfway kept up with the group and did not walk too often.

“Dahniel, you’re an ahnimal,” said Mr. Hopkins in his awesome Irish brogue when I was done.  I thought he might be exaggerating possibly, but I have kept coming back whenever I can!

Thursday runs so far have been on the street around Bendel Gardens or on the University of Louisiana at Lafayette track with speedwork, intervals, and strides (There are short sprints done as fast as possible.  You catch your breath.  You do it again.)  There is also a long run that starts at the parking lot of Red’s Health Club and goes on a 10 mile loop.  I have gone to this on the weekends when I haven’t had my sons and run it in an abbreviated form.  It is beautiful looking out and over the bridge on Camelia Boulevard and seeing the sun come up over the water, so much so that I once went home and wrote the following:

Dawn at Camelia.

Over the shoulder, 
colors converge:
dance through sky 
and across water.

Pink, purple, turquoise.

This too is erased.

The evening before the event, I did a two-mile loop around the Horse Farm in the grass with about five strides worked in there from beginning to end.  I ate lightly, drank a 32 ounce Dickie’s Big Yellow Cup (BYC) mickied with Nuun Active Hydration tablets.  I thought about all the people who were pulling for me and wanted to see me do well and the people for whom I cared as I drank from my plastic goblet, such as it was.

I also thought about all the negative people in my life: trifling, alledging, nosing, hating.  Not today, Satan.  Not tomorrow either.  I was going to show my ass, what there is of it, come what may.  And I was going to run until I could not.  Period.  No loophole of retreat.  No out.  No shit.  I went to bed and slept well, resolute and satisfied inside myself.

The next morning, I got my garb and bib off the chest of drawers having heard to make sure to put your stuff out the night before for your nerves.  I brushed my teeth and shave with my safety razor and doused myself with Clubman Bay Rum after-shave so as to have the same morning bathroom ritual as always.  I chanted and prayed for my success and that I might savor an ultimate victory as I embarked on the new venture.

I drank another half-full BYC, ate a banana, slammed the same cup of coffee as always out of the same Dollar General mug that says “Faith” and reminds me of a loved one.  With this comfort rising from routine, I headed to the event.

I was surprised at how many people were already there.  I safety pinned my bib onto my shirt.  Do I leave my glasses in the car or not?  If I do, they’ll slide and I’ll be pushing them up every few steps.  Distraction.  If I don’t, I might not be able to see as well.  Distraction. Stop thinking, dammit.  Decide. Act.  You got this.

I went off to the side near the trunk of an ancient oak and stretched.  Then I did 10 strides to get warmed up and to get my heartrate and sweat and muscles all firing.

I got up toward the front of the middle.   It was wet.  The road was slick as owl shit.  It still felt doable because I was sporting my red, white, and blue Norton Fate II shoes which seemed to help me grip the road.

I told myself that I would go “yellow” the first mile, “red” afterward, and “fire” for the last .10 or whenever I saw the finish marker.  The route itself, however, involved my passing what seemed to be a lot of people at the beginning, settling down into a pace where I could say a couple or three words at a time, and then maintaining that at the end according to my Milestone Pod which is an indispensable tool that came free with the aforementioned Newton shoes.  It starts when you start and ends when you end, measuring cadence (I hit 180 steps per minute), stride length, pace per a mile.

I had mentioned earlier that I was going to “run until I could not.”  When I hit that finish marker heaving with sweat flinging, I tried to walk a little for a makeshift cool-down.  Instead, I weevil-wobbled off the street. My burning guts shook.  I spat stringy dry-heave spit on the grass.  I wove through the people so as to vomit in the commode like a civilized person away from potentially jeering students and colleagues. The air conditioning in Cafe 329 cooled me off, however; I did not lurch; and I went back outside.  I purposefully avoided the temptation to crowd around the creosote pole where the results were being posted.  Patience is something I want to work toward.

I am pleased with how I did for my first run.  People told me I was gonna kill it.  I still don’t think that I did, but I think I did respectably for my first 5k.  Statistics are part of the slideshow if you are interested.

I watched the awards and scholarships being given and went home where I took a bath that was way too hot and a one-hour power nap. When I woke, I wanted to run some more but had to stop myself.  The soreness came and went over the rest of Saturday and then Sunday.

Next time, I plan to force myself to slow down the first mile or so as to drop the hammer toward the end.  I currently plan to run in the Jungle Gardens 5k in Avery Island near the Tobasco plant past bamboo and a huge, golden statue of the Buddha Shakyamuni.  This race will be a trail run with gravel and a couple of hills.  In order to prepare for this event, a month away from now, I will go run up and down the hill at Thomas Park on the days I don’t have group runs.  Not too hard, but 5-10 times on those days to supplement.

I came very close to placing my first race.  There will be medals, trophies, glory. There will be sweat and soreness, setbacks, disappointment.

I will seek and strive to avoid being swept away by pleasure and fleeting victory and pain and fleeting defeat.  Instead, I will seek to cultivate consistency from beginning to end.  To finish the race, every race both literal and metaphorical, the best way I possibly can.

 

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First Race Packet: “Striding for Scholarships.”

First 5k race packet:  t-shirt, coozie and brochures and pens from corporate sponsors,  15% off coupon from Tri-Running, and a “Gumbeaux Ticket” for after the event.  And a race bib for my shirt.

We are able to nominate a student for scholarships at this event the day of the race.

To be honest, my prepping for this has been nothing short of life-changing.

  • My sons think of me as being insanely driven, which is probably the case.  And they look forward to going to the Scott Middle School track or Thomas Park and running a mile with day on Wednesdays and when I have them on weekends.  We have Wal-Mart matching shorts and shirts now.
  • I am watching what I eat and how I eat, currently doing this Whole 30 thing and recently suffering through sugar-depletion headaches.
  • I am exercising vigorously with the help of Coach Tom Hopkins and going on group runs, many of which take place in a glorified bush-hogged pasture in a local park here in Lafayette, Louisiana.  Running in the grass is tough.  Life is tough.  Fortify.  Endure.
  • I have been bowlegged all my 41 years.  Now I run straight and walk straight.
  • I went from 0.8 mi at an excruciating, side-splitting, sweat-soaked 11:39 on August 5th to recently hitting 1mi at 7:30 a few weeks ago.  When my sons started cheering for Dad the last 100 meters (1/4 lap), I pushed that pace up, sweat flying and heaving.  Y’all.  It. Felt. Great!
  • Though I thought I was dying August 5th, I can now run distance too.  I have worked up to running steadily for 5.5 miles.
  • 2.89 in 25:50 last Saturday.

Here is the web address for the race itself:

http://solacc.edu/5K

Here are the race results from last year:

https://register.cajuntiming.com/results/default.aspx?event=38797&r=13379

I will unless I am dead or in jail or extremely wounded in my lower extremities finish this race.  I will, barring some major catastrophe, finish under 30min and respectably so.  Furthermore, I should, should be able to, finish in the middle to the top 1/3 for 40-49 males which would make me happy for my first race.

 

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Finish the Race

“Without words, pictures are dead,” a character once said in a dream I had as a young adult.

I never forgot this. My intent with this blog is to capture those moments which make up my life as a runner in print so that they might live, aiding and perhaps even inspiring others to finish the race. whatever that might mean on an individual level.

My father used to run up in Union Parish, Louisiana.  I remember as a little kid his running down the rural parish roads, past the dumpsters and the culverts and my Mamaws’ house and making a loop down the dirt road to loop back to our house.

Looking back, he doesn’t so much mention his race time.  But he does mention the memories he has of the training process and how obsessed he was at the time.

We used to have an enormous black Labrador Retriever named Lady.  My daddy, to this day, repaints a picture with words: Lady running alongside, breaking off to roll in a mud puddle and then rejoining him later.

After I signed up on a whim (I’m a runner now!)  for the South Louisiana Community College 5K run which is this coming Saturday, this image stays in my head.  One of my determined father, solitude, nature, and cultivation of virtue which is an ongoing motif in my life though the latter aim may well seem quaint to some.

So with that particular image in mind, I invite you to follow along and share the journey with me as I seek to chronicle my own images, my own findings, and my own truth(s) gleaned along with the promise and peril of a new venture.

Thank you for reading, and have a great day!