Monday, March 21, 2011

Hair of the Dog

According to Wikipedia, the phrase, “Hair of the dog” originally referred  to treating a dog bite by putting the hair of the biting dog on the wound to avoid rabies.  Of course, in our modern usage, it refers to having a drink in the morning of the booze that we over indulged in the night before in the hopes of ameliorating a hangover.
This rabid runner figured he would return to the well as I headed out for a recovery run after a hard half marathon in which I bucked a headwind for 13.1 miles.  While I won’t go into the details of the race here (click the race report link if you are interested), let it suffice to say that I gingerly got out of bed this morning.   Some dog replaced my lower legs with wood while I slept.  So while the family was still asleep in the motel room, I slipped out for some cure—more running.
Marathon training, and racing of any kind, is hard.  While some people run socially, soaking up the atmosphere, I feel the need to push hard at every race, and the Canyonlands Half Marathon was no exception.  While I train and race hard, every training plan has recovery runs built in.  The idea is to run slowly and just get those wooden pegs loosened up a bit.  While the running is slow, it is often difficult.
As I headed out of the motel at the southern end of Moab and headed west along the Colorado river, I was hobbled.  Everything hurt, and I could barely fake a running motion.  However, like magic, the same activity that put me in this position slowly rescued me.  My legs stopped hurting by degrees and the pace picked up a bit.  The wonderful part was that I had no other goal besides logging some miles, so I could look around.  Yesterday I raced down a beautiful canyon, but anytime I thought of looking at the scenery, I was quickly drawn back to the task at hand: racing and cursing the wind.  This morning, I checked out the river and the beautiful canyon walls.  I saw sleepy campers slowly emerging from their tents and even a couple of llamas who watched me curiously as I ran by.  I trotted along with only the beautiful scenery and my thoughts.
The recovery run did more than just enable me to walk through Moab shops and hike to some magnificent rock formations in Arches National Park with my sons; it recharged my love of the sport.  I ran for medicinal purposes, but loved every step of the way.  The early Sunday morning jaunt greeted me with very few cars, comfortable temps, about 6 miles of joy (after the first mile of painful clomping) and even a breeze that seemed less hostile than yesterday.
So I am now back home with 28 days until the Boston Marathon.  That works out to one more week of hard training and then a taper—three weeks where the mileage lessens each week, but the intensity of individual workouts remains with the hopes of delivering me to Hopkinton with fresh, speedy legs.  In 29 days, I will probably try a little more hair of the dog that bit me.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


I think that we have all heard this acronym as a plan of attack: keep it simple, stupid.
There are some things that are more simple to me than to other people.  For example, I find it easy to get dressed in the morning; I find fashion simply stupid, so I just cover up and set out.  However, there are other things in my life that should be simple, but they are not.  A good example is this blog.  I read the blogs of others who appear to just dump ideas on the page and post.  I feel the need to craft blog posts, which results in drafts simmering for weeks at a time, and long periods of time developing between posts.
Another thing in my life which should be simple, but I tend to complicate it, is running.  Honestly, is there a more simple sport than running?  It is a fundamental element of many other sports, but as a sport itself, even more so as a hobby, it is pretty darned simple.  Put on some shoes and get running.  Simple.
This simplicity yields simple joy in running along.  Yes, I can complicate it with race goals, training plans, electronic doohickeys, and expectations, but, in its simplest form, it is just perambulating, much like my primitive ancestors did.  Of course, they didn’t have fancy shoes, which brings me to one of the simple joys of being a marathoner: buying new shoes.
One of the ways that I complicate my training log, but simplify the decision of when to buy new shoes, is to keep track of the mileage on my shoes.  Simply, I needed new trainers, badly.  So I did a little research online, but headed to my local running specialty store to see what they had to offer before sending my money off to the Internet.
I love going to the local shop: they know me; I know them; we are kindred running spirits.  The process is simple: they bring me shoes; I try them on and trot around the building; and then I decide.  All the while, we are talking running.  Honestly, it is difficult to find people willing to talk about running, racing, goals, and, of course, footwear.  On this occasion, I bought two pairs of trainers.  I had run in one of the models before and the other was a new iteration of a shoe that I have had luck with in the past.  I left the store with two new shoe boxes feeling happy and motivated.  I spent some time with some running acquaintances and stimulated the local economy.  More importantly, I was simply happy to be a runner.