Less than one week back from Iraq, and I’ve already covered just shy of 50 miles of running. I’m a little sore, but it feels great. Between server issues, moved half way across the world, and readjusting the life at home, I’m not said much about what’s going on. Let’s start with the running — it’s easy to talk about.
Last week, as we were waiting at the airport in Tikrit for our chance to fly to Kuwait, I stayed focus on my running and managed to put in three runs for almost 18 miles while staged on the flight line, ready to fly out on a moments notice. Sitting at a desolate airport, waiting for weather to clear or a plane to arrive, for several days can, well, be pretty damn boring. Lots of folks watched movies or caught up on their reading — I tried to go run.
But those were flat miles, in a dry heat. Looking back now at my Garmin records from the 16 mile run I did two weeks ago, it was a total of about 700 feet of elevation change — for the whole thing. There’s nothing flat about where I live — if you’re not on the beach, it’s not flat.
After I got back home last Sunday, after the day was done and the kids were in bed, I took off and did a 12 mile run. My training plan told me I was suppose to be having an easy week — thus 12 and not 17 miles — but 12 miles seemed pretty boring. I figured I could spice it up by heading to the hills. Ugh — it had over 1000 feet of ascent. When it was over, I was smoked — it part because I had just flown half way around the world, but in part because it was 6 miles up and then 6 miles back down. I slept pretty well that night.
This week, though, I have mixed it up — some loops through the neighborhood (still not flat) and some runs through the pineapple fields. And I gotta say — the runs have been a lifesaver. I’ve been able to self-medicate, getting healthy doses of endorphins, as I’ve tried to adjust to being home and as the family has put up with my crap.
If that sounds odd, well, it shouldn’t. The Army says that the #1 thing we as soldiers can do, post deployment, to help deal with the stress of reintegration, is physical exercise (cardio, specifically). It’s no joke — those endorphins are magical when it comes to dealing with stress. When I had first approached my wife about training up for this marathon, it was just this that as I cited as the #1 reason for wanting to do this — endorphins during redeployment and reintegration, since I know it’s always stressful not just for me but for us, when I come home.
And so, I’ve spent the week trying to find the balance — miles, vs. hills. The miles are good for me, but the hills are helping me build strength in my legs (and with how much they ache, I have no doubt it’s working). They were pretty uneventful runs during the week, but the long run today was noteworthy: I ran my our neighborhood not just to the Army base, by across it to my new office.
K and the kids had gone to see a performance of Annie last night, and I….. went to sleep. I was very tired. And by tired, I mean I went to bed before 7 pm. Yeah, tired. But I slept 7 and a half hours, getting up at 0230 and hitting the road just after 3. It was almost 6 miles through the fields, and then a little over three up to post and then across post to the office. I stopped, on the way back, at a 24 hour convenience store, to buy a 64 ounce Gatorade — most of which went into my camelback, to restock it since I had drained it on the way, but the rest went right into my belly. No food, no gel packs.
I had hoped to do the run in about 3 hours. Last weekend, I finished reading the book Born to Run, which at one point talks about slowing down slow runs, to burn fat and not what’s in your stomach. Since my stomach was empty, well, I was committed to trying this (and it totally worked). It was 18 miles in 3:05:40, a hair more than I had set as my goal. But there was the whole 2200+-feet-of-ascent aspect, too, so I’m okay with the time. My thighs are seriously smoked — even my hips hurt — but I feel pretty good. I’ll be drinking water all day, and I did eat that Buick when I was done running.
If you’re curious as to how the running has been going, here‘s the updated spreadsheet for my running and training. Pretty nerdy and geeky, but it does show what I’ve been up to. I have a Google Earth file, too, that I can email you – just ask, and I’ll send it.