I spent 2009 in Iraq. I ran some during the first part of the year, but not enough, and certainly not many long runs. As the mid point of the year approached, and as I got ready to return home to my family in Hawaii, I decided that I’d crank up my miles to the point where I’d be able to run a half-marathon without dying. My R&R arrived, I flew to Hawaii, and while there, I did some running.
But after my R&R, I returned to Iraq and a new, very stressful job. Long hours, crazy hours. So, I kept running. I realized that the long runs were helping with the stress, helping to keep some sense of balance in my life. Sure, I was running in the dark of night, and sure, I was spraining my ankle from time to time, but it was working for me.
So, I set my sights on the Honolulu marathon, in December 2009. I dusted off my Excel spreadsheet for the Hal Higdon mileage plan for training for a full marathon, and I started to put in the miles. December came, I ran the marathon, and life was great. I closed out 2009 by resting; it had been a hell of a year.
2010 started with no great design. I was home from Iraq, work was OK but not crazy. I still had the same job, it was still stressful, but at nowhere near the levels it had been in Iraq. I was going to exercise with my unit in the morning, and I quickly discovered that, one most weekdays, I’d have about 50 minutes to run.
Hmm. 50 minutes, five days a week. I could easily run 5 miles in those 50 minutes. I’m in decent shape, I thought — I could probably do that 5 days a week. 25 miles a week — that’d be neat to do. I could totally do that.
But what if I snuck out one morning each weekend, and went to run some different parts of the island? 25 miles per week with the unit is a respectable amount of miles, but really — it’s kinda boring. It’s a lot of streets in the neighborhoods, lots of trips around parade fields and between tanks. There’s no jungle canopy, no dirt trails along a cliff. There’s no exploring that way. I asked the wife, and got the go-ahead to add in a weekend run.
Hmm. 25 miles during the week, and, say, a half-marathon or so on the weekend. Geez, I’m up to almost 40 miles per week. That’s kinda cool. I wonder if I could do that all year. And if I did do that all year, well, 40*52 is over 2000. Wouldn’t that be something, to run 2010 miles in 2010. I wonder if I could do it.
And that’s what set the tone for the year. I started to read books and look online for places to go run here on Oʻahu – and ended up starting my own separate blog to write about my adventures running (and to make the website I wish I could have found when I decided to start exploring this island on foot). I found Na Ala Hele, and it changed my life — so many good trails to run and explore, so little time. My plan became to run 25 miles during the week, pick up some more miles on the weekend, hope to average 40 miles per week, and maybe — just maybe — put in 2010 miles in 2010.
But things change. In June, I ended up in Iraq again, for a short visit. Did it alter my plans? Only slights — 5 runs for 66 miles over the two or so weeks I was off-island, and it actually included an 18 mile, middle-of-the-night trek, too. 5 runs for 66 miles — that’s averaging a half-marathon every time I ran, with the shortest of those runs being just 10 miles (and that was the night I landed in Iraq — I landed, dropped my bags, ate a light meal, and then ran 10 miles).
As July started, I joked with some of my soldiers — I could probably run 10 miles every day, for a month. Thus was born the Sparta Challenge — 300 miles, in 30 days. I’m still not really sure how that came to be, but it was really neat to do — and left me feeling fantastic about my fitness and conditioning levels. 300 miles in 30 days? Wow – I am indeed a runner.
That left just three things.
1. There are two state trails that require special permits in order to access them; I’ve now run one of them, and am working on plans to run the second one at the end of this month.
2. My unit had an exercise set for most of September. That would eat into my running time. Instead of my usual 160+ miles per month, I managed just 138. It was off by a bit, but I don’t see this as derailing my efforts to run 2010 in 2010. I was worried, though.
3. I’d never run an ultra. I’ve run two marathons in my day, a couple of ~20 mile runs, and gobs in the 13.1+ mile range — but never anything father than 26.2 miles. Ever since Luxembourg, I’ve had “Run an ultra” on my bucket list. Well, i did that Thursday night. I ran from my house, half-way across the island to Schofield Barracks, where I took the long loop (11.25) around post and up Kolekole Pass, before running back home. 5+ hours, 31 miles — I think 50km is considered the baby of ultra-marathons, but it counts.
I never thought I’d run 40 miles per week. I never thought I’d run 300 miles in 30 days. I never thought I’d take off one night and run 50 km (especially since I’d run 10km that morning at PT).
Today, I am 83 days out from the end of the year, and I need to run just 382 more miles to reach my goal of running 2010 miles in 2010. Granted, during those 83 days, I also need to close up shop here in Hawaii and move back to Iraq for another year — but I can work with that. 382 miles in 83 days — that’s an average of just 4.6 miles per day, and only 32 miles per week. In July, I averaged 10 miles per day, and this week I ran almost 80 miles — I think I can do this.
For not having a plan when the year started, it sure seems to have come together nicely since then.
1. Dress appropriately. Good grief, Charlie Brown — so many terrible accidents could be prevented if people would just learn to dress appropriately for the conditions. That shirt can come off it’s too hot, and with that color, it can be left just about anywhere on this island and it will be perfectly camouflaged — perfect for stashing and retrieving later. And those long baggy shorts? It things just get out of hand, they’d be perfect for going commando.
2. Wear comfortable shoes. If you can, well, go barefoot. But if you’re going to be someplace adventurous, or some place where their might be sharp rocks or something, at least bring them along in case no one is looking and you want to wear them for a little bit. It’s best if they’re small and lightweight, so if you see someone, you can take them off quickly and chuck them.
3. Prepare for the worst weather imaginable. Really. Because you never know when mother nature is going to rise up and try to smite everyone. There’s nothing worse than feeling a little bit chilly, when it like drops down into the high 70′s or something crazy like that, and you slip up and say something. Or if it rains, and it gets in your eyes and stuff.
4. Bring life sustaining nourishment with you. You never know where or when you might get stuck, and there’s nothing worse than being without in a time of need.
5. Pack enough, in case you’re stuck for a while. It’s easy to think that nothing bad will happen, or if it does happen, that everything will be ok soon enough. But really, you could be stuck somewhere for a while — pack enough.
6. Do what you can to prepare for a rescue. The time to think through these worst case situations is before they happen, not after. If you’re really in a jam, you’re going to want to be ready to help out your rescuers when they do get to you.
7. Plan for what you’d do if you were without power for a long period of time. Losing power can bring that sense of helplessness — what do I do now? Who will look after my crops in Farmville?
8. Plan for back up communications. If your cable goes down, how will you update your status? Know which neighbors have open WiFi, and for those that don’t, crack their WEP ahead of time, before you need it. Because who wants to go all the way to Starbucks for WiFi?
Do this, and you should be able to survive the worst that Hawai’i has to offer. I think the kids and I will be rehearsing this all weekend long.
Now that the marathon is behind me, block leave has come and gone, and the new year is just about here, I am starting to look forward to 2010 and what it may bring. I don’t know yet if I will be packing out again, to go back to Iraq or maybe Afghanistan, but I suspect it will. Worst case it will. But I do know one thing — I want to get out and run more in 2010.
Getting ready for the Honolulu Marathon, for me, was less about the marathon itself and more about the running. I ran in Iraq, I ran in Hawai’i, I ran in Oregon and even some up in the mountains near Lake Arrowhead. I ran and ran and ran, mainly to deal with the stress of being either in Iraq, or of coming home and trying to adjust to something of a normal life.
But that was then. That was what got me to the marathon two weeks ago. I am soooooo past that now.
Now, I want to see Oahu.
So I am making plans. At the library last week, I picked up and spent some time flipping through A Runners Guide to O’ahu. When I saw it on the shelf, I thought just for a moment that it might be just what I needed. Well, it wasn’t, but it was a good start. It seems more focused on the running than on the island — and I want to see the island and all her beauty, using runs as the means.
With a little help from Google Earth and the wife, I have a small list of places to go and runs to see. And I am sure that list will grow and change over the coming year. I have no idea how many runs I will make, or how many places I will visit, or how well I will do blogging it all. But I’ll give it a short. There’s just too much on this island to see, too many places of such amazing beauty.
I’ll probably write them up as best I can, to post here on the site. I need to think through some of the basic things I will need to cover about every run — where to park, how to rate them, etc. I should be able to provide GPS data for them all, since I tend to run with my Garmin. And I should be able to make a Google Earth file for each on, too, to share more information as well. So far, I’ve started to play with the EveryTrail site (my stuff is here), to see how best to represent the data and fuse the GPS data to the photos. I may put some of the stuff onto that site as well, and talk about it on Facebook, too, but will likely try to point folks here to this address.
A year from now, I hope to have collected the information that I was hoping to find this month. I want to run trails and valleys, ridges and bike paths. I want to see the many facets of the island, her beauty and her various climates, and find a way to tell others about them while encouraging people to get out and run for the fun and adventure of it. Who knows, maybe I’ll have some luck with it. And who knows, maybe I’ll package it all up in a year and port it to the Kindle or something.
At some point, I’ll probably post my running ideas; I’m still working up that list. By all means, chime in if there are things that you think are worth seeing or visiting on a run.
As my ten days in Eugene comes to a close, I have come to realize that coming here and running here really marks a milestone for me and my views on my running. Though I may be on the trail of Prefontaine, I am certainly not chasing Prefontaine.
I came to Oregon with my family, to spend the Thanksgiving holiday time period with family and friends, to decompress some after Iraq, and to get away. But I also came here to run. Since 11 August, I’ve been running 4 times a week and at increasing distances, all in preparation for the upcoming Honolulu Marathon. But it’s been more than that — the running, and this trip. I’m running to find myself, and I’m finding myself running.
My hosting company made their planned move — and I guess my server didn’t fare as well as that of the wife. Mine lost a few days of data, which I was able to restore with a helping hand from the Google cache.
(Bear with me — I have a few that I am restoring manually from the Google cache. This is one of them.)
We made our way by foot into Eugene tonight, to go get some dinner at the Bierstein (map). As best I can recall, when we last were making plans to come to Eugene a couple of years ago, my sister told me about the Bierstein and said it was worth the visit. We didn’t make it there that year, but we made the time for it tonight.
Oooooooh, doggie – it was worth it, too.
We called ahead to make sure kids would be welcome; it’s a beer place, and you just never know. Kids are indeed welcome – before 9 pm. Perfect.
It’s twice as deep as it is wide, with high tables and high bar chairs, and wide ledges around the edge where folks can also stand to eat and drink. The back half of one side features a good ten or so sections of refrigeration, filled will beers of all kinds. About half of the space is set aside for beers from across the US – mostly microbrews, and lots from the NW – and then there are sections of German, Belgium, and other European beers. No Japan, no China – this is pils and kristallweissen country.
(Gotta love the Pilsner Urquell glass, too!)
I gotta say – the range of beers was impressive. No, it doesn’t have 1000 different types of beers, but I sure had a good time picking one. From good Czech beer to staple German ones, to favorite microbrews from up and down the left coast, to a truly appealing range of Belgian beers, there’s something for everyone, and something for every whim or beer fancy – light, dark, seasonal, regular.
The wife and I went with this wonderful Kristall, but Grandpa Doug opted for one of my all-time favorites – a true Budweiser, which was strangely not labeled as such (even when the courts have always sided with the Czech brewery as being the true Budweiser).
But in addition to the beer, we also hit up the dinner menu for a wide range of true treats. I had the french dip, which though lean on the amount of roast beer, was very good likely owing to the great bread used. Right size, too. Numerous side dish options, too – I went with the pasta salad, which I’d give a 7 out of 10 (the sandwich was an 8).
Zavi went with a BL-no-T – yes, he had a bacon sandwich. Smart kid. He opted for chips (crisps, not pommes) which were good. If you’e into bacon sandwiches, well, they make a mean one, again owing a lot to some great bread. They also served up these two sandwiches with a wedge of pickle – good fresh pickle, too. You’d think that it would be hard to mess up a wedge of pickle, but some places manage to – which is pretty sad.
The wife and daughter split some sausages (sadly, more American in style, like a hot dog, than German or European), while Sherr and Doug had tasty salads (and were about the right size – not too big, not too small). While the food choices and quality will probably never match the beer choices or quality, it did not detract in any way. You’ll go there for the beer, but won’t regret also getting a meal.
So, if you’re gonna be in Eugene for any reason, make the time to stop in – nice place, great staff (friendly and kid-friendly), good food, and good beers.
Rough week, with a lot of work, maybe not enough sleep, a lot of emails about the side project and, oh yeah, some running.
Good running. At night, too, which helps with the heat. 3 x 3 miles, 1 x 6 miles. The 6 mile run (last night) featured some pretty strong winds, which killed my pace. But I ran, which is good enough.
I wanted to post a link to a file I whipped up, for training for a marathon. It’s an Excel file (here) and it’s all geek. It’s built on the Hal Higdon novice marathon training plan, which I swear by for anyone just wanting to run and survive a marathon (it’s fool proof).
On the first sheet, you’d enter the date for the Monday before your planned marathon. On sheet 2, you’d record distances and times for the various runs. And then, behind the scenes, it does a ton of math – pace per run, pace per week, and all kinds of other eye candy stuff, to include charts and graphs.
Oh, and I almost forgot. Week One, Day One of training for the Honolulu Marathon was Tuesday. Tuesday was also the day my boss told me to go back to bi-phasic sleep, until further notice. Could life be more complicated? Yep. So be it!
This was the view of my world, an hour before the start of 30 June. Dark, quite, not much moon. Alone. Many people, I suspect, fear darkness because of the great unknown. I have come to embrace it, for all the potential it holds. It’s fitting, then, that this was my image heading into 30 June. (more…)
First off, big shout out to my room dawg. He totally saved my bacon last night, when he ventured back to our room in the middle of the worst sand storm of this deployment, shut down my computer, and covered up most of my stuff. Horrible sand storm, just nasty. We literally hand sand drifts inside the building last night, it was so bad. People got lost walking home. One van of our guys, coming back just from dinner, had to put two people out into the storm with their flash lights, just to make sure the van stayed on the road — you couldn’t tell where it was.
So, thanks man. You rule.
Ok, enough of the drama. Yes, I’m back in Iraq. No, I’m really not blogging. There’s a reason. (more…)
In about 48 hours, I went from my living room on Oahu, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, to sitting at a picnic table in Kuwait City, just inland from the northern tip of the Persian Gulf.
Is it just me, or do others think that this is truly amazing?
In 1932, my grandmother went to LA to go to the Olympics. Reading her account, it sounds as if that trip took more effort than the American effort to put someone on the moon. But today, in less than 2 days, I can move clear around the world, from an island in the Pacific to the Middle East.
This morning, my son and I got up early and slipped out of the house. We headed up to Tantalus (more), above Waikiki, to take some photos for the 24Hour World project. My guess had been that I’d be able to get a good photo of Diamond Head and Waikiki, but low and behold, the best photo of the day was this one, that he took.
At Tantalus, overlooking Diamondhead
That’s Diamond Head in the background, and beyond it is the Pacific. I could not be further from Iraq, even if I tried — physically, emotionally, or mentally. If this is what turning 40 is suppose to feel like, I can say that it’s a good thing.
I think I have done very well in not doing much on my two weeks of R&R. I sleep well, I am eating very well, I am soaking up time with my wife and the kids, and can’t really imagine this ending. It’s been a period of great rest and then more rest.
We have done a few things.
This past Saturday, we went to the 17th Annual British Car Show, held down in Waikiki near the zoo. The local British car club invites the Hawaiian Mini Motoring Club (of which I am a member), as they view the Mini — even the new ones, made by BMW in England — as being true British cars. Well, who am I to pass on a chance to go to a car show?
Naturally, I put my Germany badge on the front of the car. The kids and I had a great time of it all — from the pre-meet at the mall downtown, to the slow procession through downtown and Waikiki (honking and waving the whole way), to parking in the shade and swapping stories all morning.
And while there were some exotics there, this car below is the one that caught my eye. I could not stop staring. Lovely Austin-Healey — just lovely.
I also loved the wide range of MG’s that were there — quite a few of which were adamantly described as daily drivers (which has to be easier to do here in paradise).
I was surprised, though, to see a fleet of Cobras and even a GT40 roll in as part of this group. I had expected the MG’s and the AH’s, even the Jags and the Land Rovers and the Rolls’, but these ones caught my eye.
I had to go do some reading, to learn that yes, the GT40 was designed and built on UK soil. And the Cobras? Yeah, I’m a dumbass for forgetting that it’s an AC Cobra — which is most definitely British. Nice and loud, too. Great crew of owners, very nice people.
The other thing I’ve been doing while here is running. Well, running and shoe shopping, as I’ve purchased a new pair of running shoes, a new pair of Five Fingers, and now a new pair of combat boots (that feel like running shoes).
How much running? Try 45 miles. I’ve been doing 4 runs a week, using the Hal Higdon running formula (though not adding miles) — short runs on Tuesday & Thursday, medium run on Wednesday, and a long run on the weekend that about equals what I ran during the week. 45 miles seems like a lot, though.
Today, I had a wild hair and I ended up doing 10 miles. I pushed through the fields on a route I had scoped out via Google Earth. I’ve been trying to find a semi-legal way to get from my house, to Schofield Barracks where I will work post-Iraq. There’s a road that drives there, but it’s certainly not running friendly. That leaves the pineapple fields — which are all adorned with NO TRESPASSING signs. Leaving at 6 AM this morning, I moved with people going to work in the fields — all of whom waved and seemed OK with my being there, which is all I needed to keep going.
I had no intention of doing ten miles today, but the sun was low, the clouds blocking the sun very well, and I was on a roll. Here is a Google Earth file from today — I think this might be my new favorite route, though I do worry about the work area in the middle (I think it’s part of the Dharma Initiative).
Why am I running so much on R&R? I have no idea. Running & More Running. It feels great, though. Last week, I was still dealing with jet lag, so running early — between dawn and sunrise — was working out ideally. Now that I am sleeping well, I should — should — lay off the miles some. Maybe. We’ll see; I am very excited about finding this new route, and may need to go back there once more before I turn into a pumpkin.
Two days ago, I got up, went for a six mile run, skipped breakfast, and went to work. I had a light lunch, but had a horrible afternoon, not really looking up from the chaos of it all until just after 9 pm — when I realized that I had missed dinner. I made it back to the room, to find a missed call on Skype from the wife. Her WordPress, she said, was acting up.
Tired, and a bit hungry, I tapped it. She and I were on Skype, and I ended up on chat with the guys running the server. Not a WordPress issue, after all, but a change in the settings on the server itself (mod_security was somehow activated). Once again, my powers of Boolean saved the day. Exhausted, I crawled into bed.
I got up yesterday, ran just over 4 miles, and skipped breakfast (and told everyone to avoid getting between me and lunch, just to be on the safe side). I made it through the work day decent enough, and I made it to dinner and got home in time to try and blog for the 24h World project (see below). Low and behold, my WordPress and my blog were acting up — I had lost data (Earth Day post was gone), and I could not add some (but not all) new types of posts. 1st Tech Support guy via chat said it was not the same thing, but my troubleshooting indicated it really, really was the same thing. Half an hour later, #2 tech support guy found that yes, it was the same thing. Great. All seems right in the world. I posted a couple of entries, and crawled into bed.
I get up this morning, and did not run. I fired up my page, to make sure things were still ok. Um, no. The two new entries are gone, but I got back the Earth Day post that had vanished yesterday. Great – FML. I’m hammering out this post, hoping it’ll take — and am saving it to a text file, in case it doesn’t. Ah, the joys of technology. Suddenly, pen to paper has a new appeal.
[UPDATE: Well, it posts. And I lost the Earth Day post, but got back the two posts from last night. Odd.]
These battered feet of mine
5 days, 4 runs, 30 miles. My soles are like alligator skin. I managed to get a blister on the arch of my foot. My pi?ce de r?sistance is a blister on a blister, on a blister that has now popped.
But these aren’t complaints; this is my reality. I’m a runner, and these things won’t stop me.
I should try saying something funny. Or maybe adding a cool, secret link — like this.
Why am I doing all this? My server is wonky right now. Symptoms are showing up in WordPress, but the support stuff from WordPress all points to server end issues. So, I am in chat with Tech Support at the server, and trying to figure it out.
The symptom, if you’re curious, is that it won’t save new drafts or posts. The solution, it turns out, is to edit the .htaccess file and turn off mod_security feature.
I have faith, though — I went through this last night with the wife’s server. Same deal — out of the blue, WordPress got wonky, and it turned out to be settings on their end. Hers was misbehaving a little differently, but same solution. And I have no idea why both of these suddenly developed these problems. Time to go back up, though!
Oh — one more thing, if you’re still reading this. I podcast — did you know that? I am not posting the link, but email me and I’ll likely send it to you, along with more about it.