Monday, April 24, 2017

Catching Up

Week of April 17 - April 23

04-17 - [Monday] - PM: 1 mile w/up 26.2 miles race (Boston Marathon - 198th OA - 2:40:37).

04-18 - [Tuesday] - AM: 3 hrs of metal detecting. Could have run but felt like the day off and walking around would be better after the marathon.

04-19 - [Wednesday] - AM: 6 miles hilly snow-mo trails w/ Andy.

04-20 - [Thursday] - PM: 3 miles easy trails / roads / bushwhacking scoping out an old homestead site.

04-21 - [Friday] - PM:  3.2 mile w/up w/ Darin and Derrick + 3.2 miles (NHTI 5k - 1st OA - 16:37) + 2.6 miles cooldown w/ Darin, Derrick, Tim Cox, Aiden Cox, and some others.

04-22 - [Saturday] - PM: 5 miles easy w/ Andy (roads).

04-23 - [Sunday] - AM: Off. Family day...My birthday...

50.2 miles for the week on 8 runs.

Good week with a couple races, not much volume except for basically 1 day....and then 2 days off...yet still feel like I accomplished things... The goal was to get both my races in.... get through the marathon, and then just get my points for the CARS series (I'll probably drop down to 2nd now once Warren Bartlett starts going to the rest of the races but did what I needed to in the last couple)... I exceeded my expectations for both races, running decent at Boston all things considered, and then actually winning NHTI and running strong despite the conditions there.

Enjoying my birthday dessert with the girls...

Morgan doesn't eat enough ice cream and sweets (sarcasm abound)...

On another note....

"...You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

And you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking
Racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in a relative way, but you're older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death"

I'm now officially a 'master'.  I'm not talking about that post-30 indoor/outdoor track 'master' category that almost no one pays attention to.  I'm talking about the real deal masters stuff now.... like when people ask me 'how did you do this weekend?' I can say 'first master'... or sometimes 'second', 'third', 'fourth' master', etc.  If I ever find myself at a GP, I can quantify my efforts with a lower number + the term 'master' after it, rather than say '76th' or '94th', etc.  So I have that going for me....which is nice.

When young bucks like Matt Garfield or Derrick Hamel or Sam Fazioli or anyone of a number of top NH area runners wreck me in a 5k/10k this year, I can claim to have not cared about them because they aren't 'in my age group' anymore ;).  'I let you have it Matt... I knew I was going to get top master so I kind of mailed it in...' will be the frequent narrative.  Even though I would never let Matt have anything on purpose...I'm not going to tell him that. 

I remember my 10th birthday back in 1987... I remember being at my grandparent's house in Saugus, MA and being amazed at the fact that my age now had 2 numbers in it...

Strangely enough I don't remember at all turning 20...I remember going out to eat with my parents when I turned 21 but not 20... 

I do remember quite well, my 30th birthday.  I was back running again for a short period of time (I started in August of 2006 so by April of 2007 when I turned 30 I was back to running and racing, but still learning...  still climbing...).  I remember going to the track the day after I turned 30 and telling people on the warmup that I just turned 30.  I felt old. It was weird.  I think it was a little scary because I had just gotten back into running and racing and was very involved in getting caught up with everything I 'missed' by not running in my 20s (or past 21 anyways).  I sort of felt that 30 was pretty much 'too late' to start back again and I was frantically trying to fit in all the races I could to make up for all that lost time.  That's one of the reasons why in 2008-2012 I raced so much.  I was trying to make up for all that lost time.  I wanted to try to run fast before I got 'too old'.   I wish I knew what the timeline actually was for that.  Little did I know that over the course of the next 10 years I'd have some pretty good success (at least for half of that 10 years) and then some pretty good struggles...up and downs to put it mildly.  But then again, that's the story most everyone will eventually tell.

The last few years have been a struggle to put it mildly.  Not with life by any means, but with running in general. My life in the last 4-5 years has been moving in the right direction and in a direction I'd never want to change.  I have had two amazing kids with my beautiful wife, bought a house, moved up the ranks in my career, and developed some other interests that amazingly have bumped running down a bit in the priority list.  Back in the first 5 or so years of my second 'running career' I would have never ever guessed that I'd ever have a period of time where I was starting to fall 'out of love' with running and racing. I thought that it would always be with me but obviously as life goes on and I start to realize what is truly important to me, it's no longer a surprise that I find myself in the situation I'm in right now.  

Back in the thick of my racing during those years, I would often find myself amazed at how some other runners who were prominent racers for many years, all of the sudden stopped racing.  A couple of them stopped racing but continued to run a lot of miles (and still do). A couple of them stopped racing and running all together.  I would occasionally 'harass' them via email or even with comments on their un-updated blogs, asking them what the deal was.  I'd occasionally ask them when they are making their comebacks.  I'd joke around about how long it's been since they raced.  I'd constantly bring up the past glory days, hoping that they'd start back racing and running again.  I didn't get it.  I didn't understand because I was so wrapped up in my own running and racing, I thought that was everyone's world.  It wasn't. And now I get it.  I understand now and to those guys, I apologize.  I now understand how it's possible to not really enjoy racing any more...or even running sometimes.  I now understand how annoying it is to have someone email or text you or constantly ask you about running and racing when it's obvious you aren't into it anymore.  I get it.

When I started to get injured a little more (end of 2011 it kind of all started to slide), run and train a little less, and race a lot slower, I started to think ahead to my 'masters' debut. I have been thinking about being a master for some years now.   Thinking it will somehow get easier.  It hasn't.  But it IS something.  It is breathing some motivation back into my much I'm not sure.  I have thought for a few years that when I turn 40, I'll still be competing against the open guys with no problem.  Over the last couple years (and especially this year) I'm starting to realize that won't be the case.  I'm starting to feel fine with that.  I am realizing that it may take more effort than I'm willing to give it, to get where I 'thought' I'd be at 40.  But I'm not going to quit now.  

I think if I didn't have kids, I'd probably have stopped by now.  It's weird to say that, because usually it's kids that get in between a runner and his racing career.  Kids take up a lot of time, energy, focus, etc.  And rightfully so.  There is nothing better in life than having children in my opinion.  It's definitely by far the best thing that has and ever will happen to me. Being a father has changed my life forever...for the best.  I have been on both sides of this issue. I've not had kids...then I've had kids.  Believe me, I can speak truly from experience on that one.  I haven't heard one person ever tell me 'oh yeah, life was so much better before I had kids'.  That doesn't generally happen. If it ever does, that person (and their family) are probably not in a very good place.  Being a good runner is great.  Being a good Dad is imperative.  But why would I not hang it up at this point then?  Well a couple reasons... My kids enjoy going to races.  We generally (in the good weather) make it a point to make a day of it.  That's one of the reasons I do a lot of racing in the Seacoast area, etc.  We always have things to do...places to go after the race... they also like seeing their Dad run.  They may not exactly understand yet, what is going on...but they are getting older and starting to take note of everything around them.  Soaking in experiences like a sponge.  I want to show them that their Dad can still compete.  Can still have fun.  I want to show them what competition and sport is all about.  I don't want it to be just a thing I talk about with them later in life.  I want them to remember first hand.  Maybe they'll get into it.  Maybe it will help them get into something else similar.  Who knows.  But it's positive.  That much I know.  The only way it can hurt is if I set a bad example by having a bad attitude about it.  I also want to continue to race so that I know I will continue to run.  If I stopped racing, I'm pretty sure I'd stop running.  And being now in my 40s...with a family history of health issues, I don't want to go down that road. I want to try to be as healthy as I can so that I can watch my kids grow up and have kids of their own.  And to teach my kids the importance of exercise and living a healthy lifestyle.

Those are the reasons that are the unselfish reasons why I continue to do this.  The other reason is a selfish reason and that is because I know that if I stop now and don't at least give 40 a chance, I will always regret it later.  Even if I struggle to race within a minute of my 'normal' 5k pace from this point on, at least I know.  There will never be that question.  But if I just hang it up now, I'll never know. 

I think turning 40 this year is a Godsend to be honest.  My motivation level has been at an all time low. If I was turning say 38 or 39 this year, I think I would force myself to stop.  But this turning point is happening right at the right time.  Also, I registered a Reach the Beach team for September and already paid for it, so I am eyeballs deep in entry fees I can't quit now.  

I have talked at length about Masters running with a lot of my teammates and guys I look up to and respect in the sport.  Guys like Dave Dunham and Dan Verrington and Eric Morse, etc.  For years I've been picking their brains about their Open vs Masters careers.  What is harder, what is easier (if anything), etc.... More recently I've talked to Kevin Beck, Tim Cox, etc. about how things went when they got to that point (and since then).  The consensus has been for the most part that at age 39 or so you are basically in purgatory.  Just waiting to turn over to that magic number you can put down in the 'Age on race day' box so that your results will suddenly mean something again.  Well my time has come.  And Dave Dunham sent me some very interesting numbers from his time as a 'masters' runner.  He's definitely a unique story in some ways because he's been so frequently injured (a lot as a master) and had such a stellar Open career (0-39) that his masters times 'seem' to be a little out of whack... He was getting faster and putting up faster 'Masters' times deeper into his Masters career.  Darin Brown (my most frequent training partner) is the same way.  He's running faster 'Masters' times the older he gets.  He just turned 50 this winter and he's still on the upswing.  Eventually that will change but for now, it's certainly impressive.

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