NOTE: If you would like to follow my progress or send cheers during the race, there is info at the end of this post on how to do that.
The Waiting Game
So, now I wait. Or rather, I taper. Tapering is a needed but disconcerting time of training. It’s where you reduce your workouts in mileage and intensity as you get closer to your goal race. In the case of marathon it is usually 2 weeks with the first of those being just a mild reduction and the 2nd week being a much more severe reduction.
This past week I ran my usual 5 days but didn’t do as many miles and I didn’t do a lot of hills. But I did do speed work, even though I wasn’t planning on it.
Waiting, waiting, waiting
Over the past weekend we found out that the elder statesman of Tulsa running, Bobby Bomer, had to have emergency abdominal surgery. He leads our weekly workouts at the University of Tulsa track on Tuesday mornings and evenings. I was called to take his place on Tuesday morning. That meant a 4:45am wake up to get there on time. I was planning on just leading the warm up and encouraging people as they ran, maybe doing some light running, but not doing the sprints. But Bobby’s wife Judy was there to help lead so I gave into the temptation and ran. It turned out to be wonderful. It was the first true fall day, with temps in the low 50s as we started. It was refreshing and exhilarating. Later that day I led my usual group on our afternoon run (not speed work) and that same feeling continued. It was cool and dry and we ran strong and fast for the entire time. I was thinking ‘I hope my race is at this temperature!’.
At the end of our early morning speed workout the TU Students were warming up for theirs.
Reducing and Refining
The rest of the week I ran just the mileage I would normally run with my group, nothing extra, nothing intense. I also ran just what Pathways was running on Saturday, 10 miles. I didn’t do any extra before or after. It was odd after so many weeks of continually pushing the weekly miles up to be reducing them.
Strong Runners at Sunset in Broken Arrow, OK
Aches, Pains and Fences
One of the worst things about tapering is ‘ghost injuries’. I had 2 days this week where I ran with my big toe aching quite a bit. An injury? A problem? Serious? Long Term? What does it mean for my race? Will I be able to run? Then a day later it disappeared. My back was aching, probably will be a problem I am sure. Next morning, it was gone. I felt weak a few afternoons ago. Maybe the flu? A cold? What if I am sick for my race? But the truth was I just needed to eat lunch. What is that all about? It’s about freaking out about every little thing. You have invested so much for so long in running towards this goal that when you are so close you see the tiniest little thing as a potential game changer or ender. It does sometimes happen of course, but the vast majority of time it turns out to be nothing.
The other thing you worry about is doing some other random activity in these taper weeks that will wipe you out. For example, in the 2 weeks before my first marathon in 2010 I rebuilt a fence in my backyard. It had to be done, the fence was falling apart and we had 2 dogs who were about to get out. But it was back-breaking work and I came to the start line of the race with a very sore back. I learned my lesson that day – no heavy lifting, no DIY projects, no fence building in the weeks leading up to the race.
The old fence during a hail storm – note the chairs blocking the gaps so the dogs wouldn’t break through.
And of course I am constantly checking the weather for that day. What would be my ideal conditions? Probably about 45-50º to start and moving up to 60 or so, with cloud cover and just enough wind to keep the air moving. What does it look like it will be? As of now, it appears it will be about 53º to start moving up to about 70 by the time I finish with a mild wind. It will be part sun, part clouds. That sounds pretty good to me, I’ll take it.
Beautiful sky during our first true fall run.
Tomorrow we head off to Washington DC. If you would like to follow me and find out how I am progressing during the race there are a number of ways to do it. Feel free to spread the word to others you know who might be interested.
Go to the MCM website and you will find lots of options.
I suggest the simplest, which is the ‘RUNNER TRACKING’. All you have to do is type in my name or bib number (24944) and put in how you want alerts to come.
A cooler way to follow is to do the ‘MAP TRACK’. It has a map that allows you to see in real-time where I am on the course.
I am also registered with the MOTIGO app. You can record cheers and encouragements and they will be played wherever in the race you tell it to play.
And the very best way to do any of that is to download the MCM app.
That is it for now! Next time you hear from me I will hopefully be tired and smiling with a big medal around my neck!
See you running,
The woman thought about her selves and didn’t feel anything but.
Drawing and short story © 2017 Marty Coleman | napkindad.com
Being an artist sets you outside a certain framework of society. Think of it this way. If you were a back-to-nature family living off the land, growing your own veggies, killing your own wild game, making your own clothes, and building your own home and furniture, how connected would you feel to a media that was constantly talking about and advertising processed food, big box stores, beauty products, vacations to all-inclusive resorts, and more? I expect you would feel like none it applies to you. You aren’t who they are talking to, right?
The Needy System
Being an artist can be the same way and here’s why. The social system I just mentioned wants us to need it for entertainment, creativity, purpose. It works hard to integrate (or entrap, depending on your perspective) individuals into that system. It wants dependence because that is how it runs. But artists don’t need that. We don’t have our identity in a job we do, we have it in our own creativity. We don’t have our identity in the system and thus we are not dependent on it. We are a danger to that system’s hegemony.
Now in most cases the artist isn’t THAT big a danger. They aren’t creating something that is going to threaten or destroy the system, they are just a grain of sand in the lotion. And, just as sometimes lotion manufacturers like some sort of mild abrasive in their lotion to clean or refresh the skin better, the system likes these artists because they give the illusion of freedom. They are free to do what they want and that means so are you. But the system knows that while technically you are free, you aren’t going to exploit that freedom to do anything radical.
What happens when artists really do something radical? They are attacked, minimized and ostracized. Their creations are publicized as dangerous or evil or ugly. It is the product of a disturbed mind or a dangerous philosophy or a perverted morality. It is not to be trusted. To show interest in it casts the viewer in an ugly light.
A great example of course is music. in the 20th century we have plenty of examples. Elvis was dangerous. The Rolling Stones were dangerous. ‘Negro music’ was dangerous. Go back even farther and, hard as it is to believe, the Waltz was dangerous.
The Beautiful Effort
And underneath it all, why is art dangerous? Because it gives sight and sound to pain, longing, need, wonder, love, hate and more, and turns it into beauty. I don’t mean everyone will see it as beautiful, even those not entrapped in the system. What I mean is the artistic impulse and the artistic process is beautiful. Not because the end result will always look beautiful but because the effort is a beautiful and noble effort to understand all those things at the deepest level.
And that is dangerous.
Drawing and commentary © Marty Coleman | napkindad.com
“What marks the artist is their power to shape the material of pain we all share.” – Lionel Trilling, 1905-1975, American Essayist and Teacher
A Good Soaking
Do you know my favorite weather for a run? I will give you a hint: it’s the exact opposite of what many, if not most, people would say is their favorite weather. Many would say their favorite would be sunny and maybe about 80º, right? Most runners wouldn’t say that, though 80º isn’t that bad, at least not when you live in Oklahoma where there are about 60 days over 90º every summer. But most runners would also not say their favorite is my favorite because my favorite is rain. Yes, GLORIOUS EXHILARATING CHALLENGING ENERGIZING FUN LIBERATING RAIN! My favorite marathon (Dallas 2014), the one I crossed the finish line feeling best, was the one I ran in a torrential downpour from about mile 22 to 25 (with much of the rest of the marathon in light rain as well). How good did I feel? My last 6 miles were faster than my first 6. That tells you something.
Fleet Feet Runners in the Rain!
This week I had the best rain run of my life. It was raining and about 70º. But it wasn’t just that it was raining, it was that it had been raining all day and the streets were wild flowing rivers by the time we started our run. We ran exactly one block before we hit our first river and had to splash at least one foot into it. Within another 2 blocks we had already given up trying to avoid puddles and rivers because our shoes were soaked already. And that’s when it got fun. No longer worrying about getting wet, we were out to enjoy ourselves. We had a challenging 5 mile course that was new to most of us. We went up and down busy streets with driveways of water. We ran over sidewalks that had never been edged, had about a foot of width to them and about 4 inches of water. We ran down small town streets with puddles the size of small towns. We jumped, we leaped, we splashed, we oohed and ahhed. Most of all we smiled and laughed. Ok, most of all we watched where we were going to avoid falling into a pit or something, but after that we smiled and laughed a lot! We did what adults never get to do unless they are runners, and that is play in the rain.
After 5 miles in the rain, happy as a clam!
In the meanwhile I had an injury scare. On Tuesday morning I was doing my usual stretching and calisthenics when I heard a very loud and distinct crack in my rib cage while using some 5 lbs weights. It hurt and I immediately stopped. It felt like I had been punched really hard in my ribs. It was way up high on my right side, even with my man boob but under my arm pit. I got up and walked around. I breathed deep. I bent over. I sat down. What was it? A cracked rib? It certainly sounded like a crack, but maybe it was just a pop or a snap I heard, not a crack. The fact that I could breathe deep with no extra pain made me think it wasn’t a cracked rib. It was probably just a pulled chest muscle of some sort but I didn’t know.
I spent the rest of the day doing what I usually do and monitoring the pain level. It wasn’t that bad but it definitely was there. I have a pretty high pain tolerance so I have to remind myself that just because I can handle it doesn’t mean it is ok. I was pretty nervous about what it could be, especially this close to my goal race. What if it really was a cracked rib, then what!?
I went to my scheduled run that evening. It hurt as I first started running, the impact definitely was jostling it. But after a few miles it started to mellow out. After I got home the pain didn’t increase so I decided I would sleep on it and see how I felt in the morning. Wednesday morning I woke up and it was a bit sore. I skipped my stretching that morning. I went through my day and by mid morning I had forgotten about it. By about 1 pm I was testing it and it surprisingly felt like it was barely there. As a matter of fact the only time I really felt it at all that day was when I laid down on the floor to show my wife Linda exactly what I was doing as it happened. I didn’t reinjure it then, just noticed the pain. Wednesday night I did the rain run mentioned above and felt great. Thursday I did another run of equal length and felt great. If I press in that spot I can still feel a soreness but other than that it’s like it never happened. Whew, crisis averted!
The Rest of the Week
The long run this week was supposed to be 16 miles. I did 3.5 miles with the half marathon group, then did 9 with my Pathways group. We actually did a mock Tulsa Run (their 9.3 mile goal race). We did a slow jog to the exact start line and then ran over 3/4 of the race course. We ended at the exact finish line.
Amazing and strong PW1 at the end of our mock Tulsa Run!
I had to quickly run back to the store to get some veggie trays my wife had made that I had in my car to bring to a nearby church for a funeral. I had until 9:30 to do it and got it there by 9:15, yay me! Then I ran back to the finish line and met the rest of Pathways as they came in. I took pics of them all and then ran another mile at cool down pace. That gave me 13.1 for the day and that felt like plenty. When you are this close to a race it’s better to be safe and end healthy than to push for a certain amount of miles.
Two weeks to go and now I start my Taper! More on that next week. If you would like to read the rest of my Marathon Training posts simply click on the ‘series’ drop down menu on the right and pick ‘marathon training’.
See you running,
The Adventures of Medusa
Medusa never goes to the hair stylist because her hair is very hard to tame. But she was going to a big ball honoring her contribution to the new Herpetology exhibition at the Zoo and wanted to try something new. She showed the stylist a picture of a famous celebrity and told her she wanted hair like that. The stylist did her best but it wasn’t good enough and she never went back.
Drawing and short story © Marty Coleman | napkindad.com
To see more of Medusa’s adventures in daily life use the ‘series’ drop down menu on the right and click on ‘Adventures of Medusa’.