Sunday, September 18, 2011

Plugging In: Tuning Out The Negative Internal Dialogue

Toward the end of July I read a book called Mastering The Art of Running. One of the first pieces of advice I took from the book was to unplug while I was running so I could focus on my form, my surroundings, and my breathing. This advice was also good  so I could "listen to what my body was telling me" For almost 2 months now I have not used ear buds and I have tried when running to focus on the things mentioned and to listen to my body. I have really enjoyed some of my runs using this technique, others have been very tough.

The thing that has made these runs tough is the internal dialogue I have been allowing myself to have while running unplugged. Seems I am a constant critic of myself. " Your stride is too short!" Your Stride is too long" "You are leaning and not running upright enough" "You should be making a better pace than this by now" " You are still pretty slow" And so it goes on and on as I am trying to log my training. The idea behind the technique was a holistic idea that while you are running you are focusing and enjoying the run, problem is for the last couple of weeks, i have been really battling myself to keep the runs going.

I have been following a training plan through and I knew I was scheduled to log a 1:30:00 run yesterday. This was the longest I have ever run and I wanted to to have a great run, I knew to have a great run I would have to shut off the voice inside of me that was being so critical. I decided to dig out the ear buds and try to run with a little bit of a soundtrack. For my soundtrack I chose "Def Leppard Radio" on Pandora

                "Do You wanna Get Rocked?!"
That was the first thing I heard as I began my run. It was a beautiful early morning, The moon was still lingering in the sky and the temps were perfect. I started down my usually route and physically I felt great. The first mile cue came through my ear buds and I was a little under 10 minutes per mile. Not a fast pace, but I was trying to save some reserve as I knew this was a long run.

The second mile cue came in and my pace had actually quickened. and I wasn't feeling any of the normal fatigue I usually feel. Much of the normal fatigue I feel is brought on by me "listening to my body" and focusing on the internal dialogue. All I was thinking about right now was running and rocking.

 "Running with the Devil" Van Halen
That was the song blaring through my ears as I past the 3 mile mark. I was proud to hear that I was just over 29:00 when The 3 mile cue hit and I didn't feel like I was pushing myself at all. I hit the beach around 3.5 miles and had a great run along the beach. The saltwater smelled amazing. I begin thinking at this point about how good this run was and how much I was enjoying the music.

"Are you ready to walk a little bit" came a voice from inside my head. No way I responded and kept a good steady pace. At the 5 mile mark the runkeeper cue in my ear bud told me I was still averaging 9:42 per mile right where I had been the whole run, the next thing I heard in my ear was:


miPace (min/mi)Elevation (ft)

          "For those about to Rock" AC/DC

My pace did eventually slow but not until I had logged 6 good miles. I enjoyed listening to the music of my youth and taking in a great morning. Even when I did slow down on the last couple of miles my body wasn't screaming at me like it sometimes does and I was still able to not walk more than a few steps at a time.

For the record though, Pandora's choice of Journey "Wheel in the Sky Keeps on Turning" at the 7.25 mile mark was not helpful at all! Also, choosing to wait until I was turning into my driveway to start "Thunderstruck" was not helpful either. Overall one of my favorite runs I have ever made. and by far my farthest. I am hoping to get in double digits soon and when I do, I hope I have some great hair band playing in my ear. I will continue to run "unplugged" at times to focus on my form and my breathing, Yesterday everything just felt so natural, I never once had to remind myself about breaths.

Sep 17, 2011  ::  6:00 AM - 7:27 AM

h : m : s
Avg. Pace
Avg. Speed

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Race Recap- My First Triathlon

Saturday September 10, 2011
7th Annual Keesler AFB Mini Trathlon
Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi

So, I heard about this mini triathlon at the base and I thought to myself, "That doesn't seem too bad, I can do that" The distances weren't very intimidating. It was only 200 yards swimming, and only 9 miles on the bike followed by just 2 miles running. I haven't swam very much, but I have ridden up to 30 miles and I have ran more than 6 so surely I can do these short distances, right?

I will say this before I go any farther, there is a difference between being able to do any one component of a triathlon well, and being able to complete all 3.

It was a beautiful day for my first triathlon it was a little brisk but sunny, weather was not an issue. We showed up about an hour early to get our place in the bike rack and sit our stuff up to transition between events. Once I had my towel and my change of socks and shoes laid out by my bike I went to get signed in. Unlike a road race there are no numbered bibs, instead a young lady took a magic marker and wrote the number 118 very large on my right arm and on my left leg.

The next few minutes were spent socializing and getting ready for the event. I was surprised to see so many people I know, there were 7 or 8 people competing from my church plus some folks from other races.

As time began to approach I begin to notice some fluttering in my stomach as I was getting nervous of the pool. I stood and looked at it and tried not too be intimidated. It was a standard 50 yard pool and I was only going to have to make 4 total laps. the longer I waited the more nervous I became.

It was finally time to get started and the way things were going to work is one person in each lane would start swimming then 30 seconds later another person would start. I was the 18th person to start in my lane. This was probably a good thing for me as I got to watch several other people struggle in the pool before I had my turn, I now knew I wasn't in the pool with a bunch of Michael Phelpses.

Finally My turn to swim and I was starting at the exact same time as my friend Gerry who was in the next lane over. AS we got started I noticed I was keeping a good pace Gerry and I were side by side for the first 25 yards or so. It wasn't long after that that he began to pull away and I began to struggle. Actually, the first 50 yards weren't too bad, but then there were the next 150. About 15 to 20 yards into my return lap I begin to feel myself really struggle and actually took a glance to make sure there were actually life guards on duty. a few more yards and I felt like my form had gone completely away and I was just flailing away. A sideways glance revealed to me that I was in an area that I could stand in and I took the opportunity to stand and walk for a few yards while trying to catch my breath and recover my form. I was swimming at the turn around when one of the competitors tried to encourage me by shouting, come on man, you are half way there" Unfortunately what I heard was "dang man, you are only half way there, you aren't going to make it

I would up walking a bit more before I reached the deep part and then I swam to the turn around and was making my way back quite nicely. I was struggling, but I was making progress. The thoughts of drowning had left my head and had been replaced by thoughts of how close I was to finishing the toughest part. I did succumb once more and take a few steps walking when I was about 20 yards away from finishing. An encouraging word from the competitor behind me and I was back in the water stretching for the last wall.

Finally Out of the pool, but feeling a bit queasy(not sure how much pool water I actually swallowed), I made my way to my bike. The transition was relatively uneventful, I dried off, slipped my socks, shoes, helmet, and shirt on and began to walk my bike to the riding area, this is where I made a mistake. They had given us a small packet that had some sort of energy bar in it and I thought I would take this transition time to consume this little bar to help me make it through the rest of the event. What i didn't plan for was that about the time I tried to swallow the 2nd bite of this thing, I would start to cough up water from the pool. This led to me losing the contents of my stomach right as I was about to take off for my ride.

The 9 mile ride was actually a great opportunity to recover from the pool, I passed a few people and was passed by a few people, but overall felt the ride went well. The only snag was around the 2.5 or 3 mile mark when my left calf muscle began to cramp. I slipped my leg from the toe clips a few times and tried to stretch the cramps out, I know this hurt my speed. Around the 5 miles mark, I was wishing I could get off the bike and quit, but that wasn't going to happen. By mile 6 the cramps had eased up enough and I felt like I was making up some time. I felt the best during the last 3 miles of the ride and I was looking forward to getting back and starting the run.

I have done a couple of brick workouts to try to simulate the transition from biking to running, but for some reason I still was not ready. I got too the start of the run and I knew I only had 2 miles to go and I was really trying to motivate myself to finish strong. All the motivation in the world is little match for cramps in both legs . Not to mention how heavy your legs feel after the ride. Like many of the other competitors I was running for a few steps then walking a few, this is how I spent the first half mile. I maintained a good job for about a 1/4 of a mile before having to fight the cramps again. I finally got to the the turnaround and something inside of my  seemed to scream. I only had one mile left and I could claim to be a triathlete. I was not going to walk the last mile.

"Chariots of Fire" was not playing in the background, and there was no chance I was going to be mistaken for Roger Bannister, but for the next 8 minutes or so I ran. I finished the race running!

I was shocked at how difficult the pool turned out to be and at how much it took out of me for the later events, but I am thrilled to say that "I DID IT!"

I finished 14th in my age group... only 2 in my age group finished behind me... But I Finished... and I loved it!

14. Eric Collum 1:05:43

Thanks to Nova Cross for the pictures as well as for the cheering and encouragement!

I am trying to decided now If I think I can compete in the Paddle Pant Pedal Oct 22 like I had planned, I don't Know that I can paddle as far as I need to and the bike and run portions are much longer than this one... Maybe I can get a relay team together... anyone interested?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Biblical Suffering

I plan to post later a recap of yesterdays triathlon.. wow what an experience, but I felt like in honor of Today's 10th anniversary of 9-11-01 I would pass along a few encouraging words for those who are still dealing with this loss or with suffering of any kind. These are notes from our  pastor's sermon this morning that I felt like need to share. 

There are Christians who will claim that because we are Christians we shouldn't know suffering. They will claim we should never question where God is in our suffering, that we should simply blindly accept whatever he sends our way. There is even one particular famous preacher I can think of who claims that if we are good enough Christians we will have everything we ever wanted and will never suffer financially, emotionally, or even physically.

I simply don't believe this is Biblical.  The bible is full of Godly men and women and their suffering.  The entire book of Job is about God allowing troubles, and suffering to test Job's character. in the end Job finally cries out to God and begins to ask the questions on his heart about why He was going through all the torment. 

David, known in the Bible as a man after God's own heart, questioned God after he lost his firstborn son.

Psalm 13[a]    For the director of music. A psalm of David.
 1 How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever?
   How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
   and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
   How long will my enemy triumph over me?
 3 Look on me and answer, LORD my God.
   Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
   and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
 5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
   my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the LORD’s praise,
   for he has been good to m

In Matthew 27 we see the story of Jesus' friend Lazarus and how he died, then we see how even though they were believers his sisters boldly questioned Jesus about why they were suffering. 

Jesus himself suffered more than we can ever understand. He was turned on by his friends,he was denied by his closest comrades, he was brutally beaten and forced to endure pain beyond which we can imagine. One of his last statements he asked "My God My God Why Have you forsaken me?"

Suffering is an unfortunate part of the human condition and right now millions of people around the world are suffering for one reason or another. Some have seen marriages fall apart, others have lost a loved one, others are just overwhelmed by the enormity of life. As we are going through this suffering it is only natural to question "Where is God?" Why is God allowing this to happen?" "Does God exist?" Asking the questions of God is a part of dealing with the suffering.

I can't answer these questions in your time of suffering or in mine, but I can share this analogy that my preacher shared this morning. If you have a child who is very young and you have to take them to the doctor for a very painful procedure that will help them later, how can you possibly explain that to the child. You can't. The child doesn't have the ability to understand, you can only hope they will trust in you to do what is best for them.

I believe God is the same as a loving parent. We can't always understand why he causes or allows bad things to happen. Even if he tried to explain his cosmic plan we don't have the ability to understand it. Even though we can't understand it we must, like a child believe that our Heavenly Father will only allow us to go through things that will somehow bring about his will for us. 

We also have hope in the end:

Revelation 21:3-4

3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[a] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

In the end there will be no more suffering and there will be no more pain. Until that time comes none of us will be without hardship, it is during these times that God is pulling us closer to him if we will let him. I send prayers out now to anyone who is suffering the loss of a loved one whether from 9/11, or from any other reason. I pray that you boldly go to God and don't be afraid to ask him the questions that are on your heart. I pray that you wait for him to respond  and trust in his divine goodness that we will never fully understand.