Archive for the Running Oahu Category
Back in April, I retired a pair of Nike Pegasus running shoes (here). I had put over 1,000 miles on them. Yes, one thousand. 1,012, actually. Good shoes, they lasted pretty well, and it was splits in the fabric along the sides that eventually did them in.
I was pretty pleased with that pair. 1,000 miles – that seems like a good amount for a pair of shoes, all the more so when I thought about how Nike and the shoe businesses would like me to replace my running shoes every 300 miles. Sure, I wasn’t running barefoot, but I was running on shoes that were well past the point of offering a lot of cushion or spring. I ran and ran and ran on that pair, in Iraq and Oregon and Lake Arrowhead and all across Oahu. I’d run in the desert, in the mountains, through snow and creeks and streams, on roads and sidewalks and trails.
So, with their retirement, I broke out the reserves — another pair of Nike Pegasus running shoes that I had purchased at the same time as the previous pair (if you find something that works, my dad use to say, buy multiples). They worked just fine. No blisters, no bumps, no bruises, no shin splints, no stress fractures — they worked. And after a little bit, I beat them flat and pounded the cushion and spring out of them, too. I ran them hard — from the Honolulu Triathlon, to my 300-mile month in July. But by July, they were starting to quit on me. Same deal — the fabric on the sides started to split, this time after a hair under 700 miles. By the end of July, and the end of my 300 mile month, I was writing a letter to my Nikes (here), telling them that maybe it was time for us to start seeing other people. What I wanted from our relationship (1,000 miles of no-questions-asked running) seemed to be more than they were able to give.
I even went so far as to do some social networking, to see if another shoe company would throw some free shoes my way. I wanted — I really, really wanted — to find some shoes that would love me unconditionally,ones that would be in it for the long haul and not long enough to amuse me until a new model came out and I could be convinced to buy a new pair.
Well, that failed. In the meantime, I went back into my kit bag and pulled out the last of my reserves — one more pair of Nike Pegasus running shoes. Maybe, I told myself, it’ll be different this time. Maybe, if we start spending time together again, it’ll be different this time. Maybe they’ve changed. After all, Nike has been talking a lot about running recently. Maybe they meant it.
I threw them in the trash today. 535 miles of running killed them. 535 miles. I was just warming up to them. they were just starting to look right, with that mix of Hawaiian red and all-around mud. Their stink wasn’t yet to the point of warding off attacking bulls. As you can see, this time, the whole face exploded.
So, that’s it. I’m done with Nike. They’ve lost me. I was a good and faithful customer, someone who bought them out of hope and faith and dreams and fond memories. Gone are their days of making good shoes; from the looks of it, they appear far more focused on elite, specialty shoes (here). Which is fine — or would be fine, if the world was filled with elite and specialty runners. Racers, really.
I’m no racer. I’m a runner. It is not possible for me to care less about split times, or personal records for all the various distances. I don’t do fartleks, and I don’t limit my diet to only left-handed salmon that swim in the northern Pacific and favor jazz music.
I am a runner. Not a hobbyist, and not an olympic athlete. I run. You wouldn’t commute to work in an exotic and expensive to maintain Italian exotic sports car, and I’m not going to run in shoes that last exactly 3.5 months.
Here you go, Asics. Here’s your chance. Don’t let me down.
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.
I suppose I’ve always been known for having some crazy ideas. This, though, is probably pretty high up on the list of craziest things I’ve done.
Over 30 calendar days, I just ran 300 miles. I didn’t run 300 miles in 30 days — I actually did it in just 26 days. But we’ll get to that.
I’m not really sure where this idea came from. Last month, I was in Baghdad for a 10 day visit, and while there I ran about 66 miles on 5 runs. That seemed like a lot of running to me — my shortest run was 10 miles, but my longest was 18. I had been able to get off of the airplane, after flying half way around the world, and I’d needed only a short stop at the chow hall before I’d knocked out a 10 mile run. In Baghdad, in the summer.
When I got back, I was feeling strong. I was feeling fit. I was realizing that I was a stronger runner than I thought.
Which, by the way, is a very odd realization to make.
When I got back to the office, after the 4th of July weekend, I was talking with one of my sections about the trip and the holiday weekend. 5 runs in Baghdad, for 66 miles. And the long 4 day weekend? I’d done three runs for a hair over 40 miles. I bet, I said, I could sustain 10 miles per day.
Now, I won’t tell you exactly what they said — Soldiers can sometimes use, um, colorful language — but suffice it to say, this section (hereafter referred to as The Zombies) disagreed. Nope, you can’t do it, they said.
Fine, I said. I’ll prove you wrong. In fact, I bet I can do it for a month.
Wait, one better — I bet I can average 10 miles per day, for a month.
Oh, wait — better still. I’ll race you to 300 miles. I’ll do it in 30 days, and I bet you I can do the 300 miles faster than you can.
Did I mention that The Zombies number about 15? Yeah — big section of Soldiers. Me, vs. more than a dozen Soldiers, running to see if:
1. I could average 10 miles per day for 30 days;
2. I could run 300 miles in 30 days;
3. I could run 300 miles before all of them, combined.
300 miles. Sparta!
Yeah. Not really sure what I was thinking. On the surface, that seems like an insanely dumb challenge to issue. I hope it’s no surprise that they agreed. They eagerly agreed. Of course, I had also run 10+ miles that morning, meaning that in the first 5 days of July, I’d run 50+ miles. One Zombie had run about 10 miles over the weekend (their so-called ringer).
I was winning.
So, how does one run 300 miles over 30 days? Well, carefully and with a lot of planning. I’m quite sure my wife thought I’d gone mad when i told her I was doing this. Not that I was trying, but that I was going to actually do it. I run at a pace that is often between 9 and 10 minutes per mile — that’s 100 minutes of running per day. Do you have an extra 100 minutes every day for running, and extra time for a very good shower and a change of clothes? I didn’t. Certainly not every day.
I had to make it in the morning. On weekdays, my units meets at 0630 for accountability. Most days, we then exercise for an hour, but I often do not have to be in the office until 0900. Done right, I could run for some time before the 0630 formation, and then I could run for maybe 90 minutes more before I’d need to be rushing into the shower and on to the office.
On Schofield Barracks, I put together a few runs of the right lengths. A 3 mile run up a hill. A 6 mile loop. An 8 mile loop. A 9.25 mile loop. I found that, if I was parked and suited up, I could start running at 0530 for the 6 mile loop, and would finish in time for my 0630 formation. If I was parked and suited up, I could start running at 0500 for the 8.25 mile loop, and be finished in time for the 0530 formation. I could do another 6 or 8 miles (or even 9.25 if I pushed it) and still make it to the office.
But being parked and suited up at 0530 means leaving the house by 0500, or maybe 0510 by the latest. Which means getting up at 0430, to finalize my gear (which I’d pack the night before), have a bowl of Cheerio’s, and to use the facilities (a very serious part of the day).
Ugh. 0430. That’s early. To get 7 and a half hours of sleep, that means being asleep at 2100 / 9 pm. Not in bed, but asleep.
How important is running to you? Would you be asleep at 9 pm most every night, just to be able to have a lot of rally great runs?
And yes, that hour got earlier and earlier, based on just how early I was trying to get up. I had days when I started running at 0500, which meant I was up at 0400. The earliest was this morning; I was up at 0330, running at 0430, and had done almost a half marathon before I even said hello to the Army or my Soldiers at 0630.
Oh, and yes — Cheerios. Every morning, if I can, I have a big bowl of Cheerios. Not big, like Seinfeld, but a good sized bowl of Cheerios, preferably with 1% milk. I have no special eating plan, no special diet. I start my day with Cheerios because I like them and because they seem to work well with running.
Those who known me best also know that while I am not a serious runner, I am very serious about my running. It’s a big, big part of my life. But not something that dominates my life.
I don’t live on Alaskan salmon and brown rice grown on the eastern slopes of the Andes. I don’t eat mega-protein bars, or take special gels. I haven’t sworn off ice cream or alcohol — I mean really, doing that would ruin everything.
No, I try to eat right, but I also eat whatever the hell I want, or whatever the hell my body tells me it needs. Swedish fish? Yeah, sometimes. Peanut M&M’s? There are those days. Sticky rice and mixed vegetables? Sometimes that’s what just seems right. I don’t load up on things, to prepare me for running, and I don’t act differently after runs, to recover / grow muscle / lose weight / etc. I eat, I run, I sleep some.
Have I lost weight? Not really. I had lost some, more for sure, in the prior year. Mid 2009, I weighed maybe 212 lbs. By this summer, I was down at or below 200. Sometimes below, sometimes above. I didn’t / don’t care. But I certainly do feel fit these days.
And my weight certainly does wiggle some. In a week, I could go from as low as 195 to as high as 207. A lot of that is water and food and everything else. It all tends to even out around 200, but it does wiggle. Weird, huh?
Anyway, that’s sleep and food. Now, about those miles.
As you can see, it’s a slow and steady climb to get to 300. Nothing big, nothing brash, nothing fancy. A lot of run. 26 out of 30 days.
But look at that pie chart. Now, I’ve known for a long time at the 10 mile to half-marathon distance was my sweet spot, the length of run with which I am happiest. 5 out of the 26 runs were less than 10 miles, with the shortest being just 3 miles. But that 3 mile day came right after I had a 21.75 mile day, one of just 3 days when I ran 15 or more miles. I wonder how many times one of the Zombies ran 3 miles.
But look at that big wedge — 18 of the 26 runs were 10 or more miles, and less than 15 miles. While I averaged 10 miles per day for the 30 days of this challenge, I actually averaged 11.54 miles per run, for the 26 days I did run during this 30 day period.
That just seems like a lot. A lot in that range, and a lot to average.
But, I did have 4 days when I did not run. One was the 4th of July, and as I mentioned, I had done 40+ miles during the 1-3 July window. There were two days when I had duty, and was unable to run in the morning. And one day I had a meeting at 0600, and could not run. I knew there’d be those days, and I did my best to plan for them and to adjust for them. Obviously, with some success.
I’d like to add, though, that this wasn’t some mad dash for mileage. On the weekends, especially, I’d often take to the hills to continue my adventures in running and seeing Oahu. Some of those runs turned out to be less than 10 miles, sure, but they were insanely beautiful, and included some places that have long been on my list of places to go run.
And it’s been anything but flat. My 6 mile loop goes from about 950 feet of elevation, up to about 1150 feet of elevation. The 9.25 mile loop goes further, up to about 1250 feet. But I did runs that went from the beach to a mountain pass at 1150 feet, and even from the beach up the side of a mountain, to about 2300 feet of elevation. I’d run where I wanted to run, not where I’d easily be able to get my miles. I’d have preferred to have not made the 300 mile mark, than to have missed those runs.
Three more things, and then I’ll wrap this up.
1. It’s hard to run these kinds of miles while in the Army, and not draw attention. Showing up to the first formation of the day literally dripping with sweat after 6 or 8 or more miles, well, it kind of sticks out. Showing up wearing a Camelbak, too, is a bit out of place. Towards the end, I’ve had people asking me how far I’d run that day, how I was doing on reaching 300 etc. It’s been an unusual project, even by Army standards.
2. My shoes are near death. They are a pair of Nike Pegasus, one of two pairs I bought this year back when I had maybe 600 or 700 miles on my last pair (which were ultimately good for 1000+ miles of running). This pair, though, started to split on the sides after 300 or 400 miles. I’ve been hoping they’d last through this adventure, and they barely have. I’ll do one more victory run on them in the morning, before I hide them in the yard next door (they really, really stink, too — happy birthday, Chandra!).
3. Somewhere in the middle of all this, I tried out for the 10-Miler team for my Division. I actually made it as an alternate, not because I’d fast, but because I don’t quit. While running the race, and at other times, people would ask me why I run so much (especially for an old guy). I tell them I train as I fight — this is my zombie plan. When the going gets tough, I’m going to grab my shoes and my camelbak and I’m going to outrun the zombies.
Which, by the way, I did. I did my 300 mile before The Zombies did. I won.
I have a thousand and one reasons to stop and reflect on all of the great running I have done in recent months. On Saturday morning, as I wrapped up an 11 mile run through my neighborhood, I passed the 1001 mile mark on my running shoes. Not running shoes in general — no, I’ve pretty much just been wearing the one pair (with limited exception), and that’s 1001 miles on that pair.
They are dirty and nasty. They stink like you would likely not believe, even though I have been washing them semi-regularly to try and fight that. Any sense of spring in them left a few hundred miles ago. If I believed Nike, they would have been retired on OCT 7 when I passed the 300 mile mark. I’m sure glad I didn’t.
Because last week, these are the shoes I used to outrun an angry adult bull. These are some good shoes.
I had started in these shoes in August 2009, when I formally returned to marathon training. I was in Iraq, I was under a lot of stress with my job, I was ramping up to start IBOL, and I needed to get back to running to help balance out life. Training for a marathon, the Honolulu Marathon set for after I returned home from Iraq, seemed like a good way to do that. New phase, new shoes. The choice of shoes was uneventful — I had bought one pair of Nike Pegasus when I was on block leave, liked them, and bought another pair through the mail knowing that Nike would phase them out before I was ready to try something else. That second pair is what I have been using.
I ran on them in Iraq. I ran on them in Hawaii, and Arizona, and California. On land and in the sea, and through too many puddles and creeks and streams to try and count. In the desert, and in the snow, on paved roads and muddy trails. I don’t think I ran on them through fire, though — I just never happened on any when running. I’m not some elite athlete, some fancy Ferrari of a runner who needs a special diet or special gear, and these are just running shoes. They’ve taken me where I needed to go.
And along the way, I learned a few things.
I enjoy running. OK, not the actual running part, but I love getting out and running. Maybe when I slow down some later, I’ll transition to hiking. But during all these miles, I’ve seen some beautiful scenery, run some awesome trails, and enjoyed getting out to run. Along the way, I’ve taken a few thousand photos (ah, thank heavens for the age of the digital camera), with some decent results. But I’ve found a way to get out and run and explore and see things no matter where life and the Army has taken me.
Replacing shoes every 300 miles, just because you’ve run 300 miles, makes no sense. A while ago, I was researching running at the Army website for safety, and they had very little to say about running and shoes — except that there isn’t scientific or academic research to back up a prescribed need to replace shoes based on miles — it’s the feet and the shoes that determines that, it said. And I’d have to agree.
Running injuries can be terrible, but a lot of them aren’t so bad. With these shoes, I’ve sprained my ankle five times — as in, swollen up like a grapefruit, hurts to walk on it, and people see it and say, “Damn!” The first time, I was 1.89 miles into a 4 mile run — and I finished the 4 miles. The 2nd time, I was a quarter mile into a 7 mile run when I rolled my ankle off the side of the road and went sprawling onto the desert floor — and I still went ahead and ran the 7 miles. #3 and #4 really hurt — I only finished half the planned mileage because the ankle not only hurt, but also started to swell a lot right away. #5 was bad enough to get me to take 2 days off from running — something I did not do for the previous 4 sprains. And I’ve had other minor aches and pains — a knee that sometimes hurts and sometimes just makes a lot of noise, a rotor cuff that really doesn’t like me, and then there was the period when my Achilles tendon and I weren’t really talking but more ignoring each other. All the while, I’ve kept running. At worse, on the earliest sprains, I took anti-inflammatory meds to help with the swelling, but other than that, I’d kept on running. I didn’t think I’d be able to.
And I’ve learned that old farts like me can do a lot more than they think. I am averaging close to 40 miles per week this year, at a time when most of my soldiers are doing 10. In 2005, when my PTSD was at its worst, I was a good 30 lbs heavier than I am now, and all I am doing these days is running and eating ice cream. And my PTSD? As stressful as this job is, it’s under control — like an alcoholic, I suppose, I’ll have to live one day at a time with it, but the running helps tremendously when my stress levels go up.
So, on Monday, I will break out the new shoes. I already have some miles on them — I took them to Prescott with me, and wore them one week here. And I think they’ll be good for some miles; they’re the Nike Pegasus model from last year or the year before, one year newer then the pair being retired, and they look and feel about the same — just new and springy. Give me a few months — I’ll beat that springiness right out of them.
I’ve had a big week of running. This is a big year of running for me, a year when I’m averaging a hair under 40 miles of running per week. This week, I ran almost 65.
65 miles. I had no plans to run anything close to that I figured it was going to be just another week, a week of probably running 40 miles. I started the week off with a 3 hours run through the hills on the Aiea Loop, a run that might have been 11 miles long, or maybe a bit more.
But Monday morning, I found myself heading up Kolekole Pass, on a 9.5 mile loop that I had run before. I knew that if I did it right, I’d be to the top by 0715 and back to the car by 0805. And Tuesday morning, I found myself doing it again. And thinking I might be able to do it every day of the week.
Could I really? Could I go up that pass every day of a week? Yeah, maybe. I figured I’d give it a try. It turns out that I could do it.
And, with the wife having plans for Sunday morning, I planned to close out the week this morning with an early morning run. I’ve wanted to go up to the Pali Lookout and run the old Pali Highway, so I made that day today. It was a good run, one that was maybe 5.5 miles of down the hill and then back up. Not too far, not too steep, not too much of an ass-kicker. And I think I took something like 150 photos on the run.
I couldn’t push myself to a 60+ mile running week without a lot of prep work. In the nine prior week, I’d run 328 miles, with three of those weeks being between 45 and 50 miles of running. I think the weeks of running, and the regular 40+ miles per week, has been key.
Also important has been food. I tried to do a better job this week of listening to my body and its food needs. My weight dropped 6 or 7 pounds between last Saturday and tonight, but it sure could have been more. Most days, after my morning run, I was able to hold off on eating until lunch. A few days, the worst of them, I went and found some nearly-pure-sugar stuff to pick me back up – Gummi bears, Swedish Fish, something like that. But mostly, I tried to stick to planned meals.
And yes, I am still as crappy a runner as always. I still don’t stretch. I still run when my knee / ankle / joints / etc. ache. My running shoes, my ever-faithful Nike Pegasus, have passed the 850 mile mark, and they stink to high-holy hell. I’m still running in whatever random running clothes I have, I still run too far and too often with either little or no water with me. But it all seems to be working out.
If I can do 60+ miles in a week, can I do 100 miles in a week? Probably. If I can do that, can I run another marathon? A 30 mile run? A 50 mile run? Could I run from Ala Moana to, say, Kailua Beach State Park? That’d be about 15 miles. Could I run there and back? That would take me past the Pali Lookout, and up and down that ridge, not once but twice.
Yeah, maybe. Pushing myself out to 60+ miles this week was hard, but it served as a good reminder that 1) I am in better shape than I thought, and 2) I can do a lot more than I think I can do.
And that’s pretty cool.
It’s been such a quiet month. For having to return to work, to resume being a productive member of society, it’s been rather an uneventful month. And yes, I really, really like that.
It’s been good to be back with the family. Back in the routine. Nights of taekwondo, trips to the library, making dinner and
torturing the kids asking the kids to empty the dishwasher. Reading books, enjoying the glory of Jon Stewart on TiVo (By Yemen!), and getting ice cream from the freezer after the kids are asleep — some are the great things of being with family, some are the great things of being here and not in Iraq.
As for what we’ve been up to, well, the answer is Not much. Kristin quilts, the kids read when they can’t be entertained by something electronic, and I run.
Yes, I still run. I ran about 170 miles this month, and a hair shy of 50 this week (49 and some change). I made runs that ranged from 2.5 miles, to 18 miles. I ran loops and trails and sidewalks and roads, in the sunlight and in the dark, in good weather and bad — well, bad by Hawaiian standards, not bad as in, say, Wisconsin this time of year. I ran loaded to the gills with gear, but I also made runs with shoes and shorts and an iPod. I’ve run up hills, through the jungle, and across pineapple fields.
And through it all, it’s been great. With all the changes in my life this month — being home, being back with the family, going back to work, etc — the stress would surely be taking more of a toll on me if I wasn’t running for distance, and if I wasn’t enjoying my time of solitude.
I have always struggled with reintegrating into my home life, after being gone. This time, though, things seem to be going differently, and I think the running is a huge part of that. I’m thankful my family is supporting me and my little hobby, as I think they see and appreciate the dividends that are coming from it.
I’m not sure what February will bring. We’ll see. Time to go start my weekend, though, and see what mischief the kids are causing.
Early this morning, I was sitting on a rock, watching waves roll in. The air was mostly calm, with just a gentle breeze. The sun was warm, but hidden some behind the ridge behind me. I had on my running shoes, some old and well beaten socks, and my shorts, nursing water from my camelbak after a pleasant 6 mile run.
I noticed that my shoes are starting to show their age. The wife and I have been debating how best to get them into and through the washing machine, without killing the shoes or, more importantly, the machine or anything in the load with it. But sitting there, enjoying sole quiet time in the isolation of a lovely morning on Oahu, I could see that, literally, my shoes are starting to some apart at the seams.
It’s bad enough that my shoes stink to high holy hell. They really do. I don’t dare bring them in the house, but keep them in the backyard. I think they’re part of the reason the grass has grown greener in that part of the yard, too. There’s no animal life in that part of the yard anymore, and we had to move the swing set because the daughter (who loves the swings) had started to grow a third arm. But still, we don’t smell them much, though when you get close to them, there’s no missing them.
The shoes are only starting to come apart. Trust me, I have no plans to retire them early. There’s at least one hole in the fabric, likely from getting snagged on something on a run through the jungle here. Of course, if asked, I would not hesitate to tell my son that it was from a wild boar. And where the rubber-like-material that forms the sole, folds over the toes and fastens, well, it’s starting to peel away on one shoe.
The shoes, they’re just a little tired.
Now, if you asked Nike, they’d surely tell you that running in these shoes today was near-criminal in action. They and the other shoe companies would like you to buy new running shoes every 300 miles, or 3 months, or perhaps every three runs, depending on which one comes first (the first two are actually true). But these are the folks who want me to pay extra for arch support I don’t need, for protection from overpronation when it’s never been a problem for me, and a big and super-cushiony sole that really does nothing for me.
And as I sat there, looking at the shoes and their emerging bits of charm and character, I began to wonder — just how many miles have I put on these shoes? I think I started wearing this set just as I started my training for the marathon — so, I probably started to use them around the start of August. And the training plan for the marathon — I know I am suppose to have several sets of shoes, and I know I am suppose to alternate them, etc., but I never do — that was a 460 mile training plan. So, by now, I’ve probably put 500 miles on these shoes.
And no, I am not about to retire them. They are fine and functional, though smelly. A wash and they should be good for a good bit more. They should be good for another 100 or 200 more miles, I would think. But how long is that? When do I need to start thinking about new shoes.
Really, the question is — how much am I going to be running this year?
Well, the Army is going to make me run 5 days a week. Or it’ll try. The Army is big on running — it likes it, it loves it, it wants more of it. The Army would be thrilled if I did 5 miles a day, 5 days a week.
No, really. I’m not kidding. The Army would think of me as its proud son if I did that. Push-ups, sit-ups, and running, every weekday. I do cheat and add in some swimming these days, but only because I have time after the running and before I have to be in the office (there are showers at the pool, so I can swim and get clean).
So, that’s 25 miles a week. And on the weekends, I am trying to get out and run and explore and see the hidden beauty of Oahu. Half-marathon distances are my comfort zone. Yes, that really is 13+ miles. Let’s call it 15.
And then there may be times when I run a lot more. Sure, I may slack some weeks — I am an underachiever, after all — but if I decide to train for a marathon or some other sort of longish run, well, that’ll mean more miles.
40 miles a week, 52 weeks a year? I suppose it’s true — I really could run 2000 miles in the year.
If I were a racer, and not a runner, I would probably be worried about swapping out shoes every 300 miles. I’d want them to be fresh and perfect and ready for speed and crap like that. But I’m not. I’m a runner. I run. I get there when I get there, with a goal of enjoying the run. not that it’s ended.
So, I will put off buying new shoes for a few more weeks. Honestly, I’ll probably pick some up in a month or so, but stick them up on a shelf — break glass in case of emergency. And I’ll probably keep pounding away on these ones, because really, I like these shoes, and I love that I’ve had such great adventures in them. Why would I ever want to see them go?
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.