Monday, October 29, 2007

Oi, my aching calf

Okay, so I have a chance to redeem myself for the rookie mistakes that I made at the SF marathon earlier this year. You know, starting out too fast, not drinking fluids and depleting my electrolytes, all of which lead to the painful calf problems for the last 10 miles. So I eagerly look forward to the Silicon Valley Marathon to finally be able to take what I have learned and use the endurance that I have stored up and run a good marathon.

So middle of Thursday my right calf started hurting. I ran 6 miles the day before and felt great. Woke up on Thursday and felt great. Then out of nowhere with not having done any extraneous activity my calf hurt for the rest of the day. Friday rolled around and, again, I felt great. I ran 8 miles. Around mile 2 the dull ache returned, but I pushed through it because it wasn't painful and it wasn't slowing me down or changing how I was running. The ache is still there right now. Each morning I wake up expecting it to be gone, and it does lessen some, but it is still there.

My only thoughts are of the marathon this Sunday... How will this affect me? Will it be healed by then or will there still be some discomfort? I am stubborn and if there is still that dull ache, like when I ran on Friday night, then I will start and finish the marathon.

So my question to the blogosphere... What can I do besides no running or strenuous activity in order to help my calf heal for this weekend? Is there anything I can do or just wait it out?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Race Fever

Yup. I have it. I'm not afraid to admit it either. I love going to races. And not for the shirts and medals, although I do like the medals as mementos. I love races because of the atmosphere. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of runners all out there for the exact same reason and have the same if not more enthusiasm for running as I do. Then the race starts and you are psyched and ready to go. Sometimes you beat your PR, sometimes you don't. Each race is different. Then once you are done with your race you get to go home and compile your stats and compare this race to other races and see where and what you can do to improve. One of the great benefits of running is that you are in control of how well or how bad you do. Of course this is with every aspect of life, but this even more so because all you need do is step outside and run, just run. That is how much control you have.

On that note I love this time of the season. October, November and December are the target months for so many runners and race reports abound. You get to read and take part in other runner's trials and tribulations and learn from them. Or, as I do before each big race, you get to search for a race report or two on the race you are running and see what to expect from the runner's point of view rather than the race director's point of view.

Just recently we got to watch Notes of a Non Runner complete her first half marathon in Des Moines, or Runnin' Ragged finish her first marathon in Columbus, or see how Tom and Doug persevered through tough conditions at the Chicago Marathon. Or the races to come as we get to watch Marathondudebill try to break the 3 hour mark at the Richmond Marathon, or see Running... because I can's journey to completing his first marathon at Richmond as well. Then there are the inveterate runners who are machines, who run marathon after marathon as though they were out for a morning stroll. There's Run With Stevie Ray who is running for breast cancer awareness and had a goal of running 50+ marathons from the beginning of this year to February 17th of next year - and has already ran 51 marathons. His most recent finishes are the Indianapolis and Columbus marathons last weekend, he will be running the Miracle Match today, and then the Autumn Leaves 50k and iWUR marathon with Richmond among many others scheduled throughout the year (you might have seen him running... he wears the bright pink shirt). Or there is DaneGer Zone who ran a marathon every weekend last year in his Fiddy2 quest to raise $52,000, and will be running the Marine Corps Marathon coming up this weekend in an attempt to run a sub 3 hour. Then there are the extreme runners in Mountain Man Steve who ran the Javelina Jundred (100 mile race) on Saturday and Sunday, or And A (Ultra)Marathon Runner Was Born who just ran the Dick Collins' Firetrails 50 miler a few weekends ago. Finally there is A Trail Runner's Blog where I can follow Scott running ultras all over the Bay Area and can really learn a lot from just reading his numerous interviews and race reports.

The point of all this? There are all different levels of runners out there that are willing to talk about and teach other runners about their successes and failures. There is a wealth of information out there in the running community that I absolutely love to read up on. Give a few of the above bloggers a go around and see what message they have to say.

Hopefully I will be able to take what I have learned from my own running as well as what I have read about from others and apply it to the Silicon Valley Marathon next weekend... Here's to happy running!

Monday, October 22, 2007

To Slay The Pacing Demon

One of the cardinal rules that all runners must follow when running is to pace, pace, pace. In fact, this was one of my mistakes I have noted in the past. So I've read about it, I've experienced pacing and what no pacing does to the rest of the race, and yet I still battle the pacing demon.

I've ran three days straight and on all of them I've paced myself, albeit differently. The first was Saturday and was a 4 mile run where I ran it at a 7:48, 7:35, 7:50 and 8:00 pace. This was a good run and felt good. Pacing wasn't too bad, a little bit sporadic. I could tell that this pace would be too hard to run a marathon at right now.

Sunday was an altogether different pacing practice. I went running with a few friends at their speed and averaged a 10:37 pace. This was a bit slower than what I am used to, and it is still slower than what I want to run the marathon on the 4th at (which is around a 9 to 9:30 pace), but it felt good to slow down and run around a 10 minute pace. I was able to cover 6.3 miles and I didn't feel winded at all, nor did my knees and legs respond negatively. So experiment number two done.

Today I decided to do 6 loops around my house, where each loop is 3/4 of a mile. It was a bit hot out, reaching into the mid eighties when we've been used to the mid to low seventies, but not so bad that it slowed things down too much. Anyway, I set out trying to run my marathon pace and hold it steady. But, and there always seems to be a but when it comes to pacing, I set out at a jog and it felt great. I was running slower than usual but this was my jogging pace. It was extremely comfortable and easy run. My pace was 8:16, 8:15, 8:18, 8:16 and the final .37 miles I ran faster on purpose at a 7:57 pace. So my pace was extremely steady and consistent. Amazing, and my half marathon pace where I usually start out fast and slow down by the end is an 8:25 pace. So this shows me that my steady, easy pace will probably do much better if, and this is a big IF, I run the proper pace for the actual race.

Final piece to the puzzle. At the SF marathon I ran a very consistent first half marathon that was paced amazingly. I actually ran a second half of the first half of the marathon (if that makes sense, or miles 6.5-13.1) with a negative split, which was a first (too bad I didn't hydrate well enough and couldn't capitalize on the steady pace). All my races have been fast beginning with a slow finish.

So coupling all this together will lead to a great PR for the Silicon Valley Marathon on the 4th. My problem though, and this happened today, is that when I set out at what I think is a steady pace it always seems to be faster than what I am shooting for, except when I am running with other people (such as my friends, or at SF with the rest of my corral). So practice I will, nay, must, in the next week that I am running before I taper and rest. With any luck I will slay this pacing demon.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Did I Just Hear That?

Did I really just hear that? This was how I was when I started running. The simple etiquette that you would find around other people in various situations. I'm not talking about the noises you would hear from running, like feet slapping on the ground, huffing and puffing, wheezing, coughing and so on. Perhaps the cheering spectators, or maybe the few hecklers that are occasionally around.

Nope, I'm talking about farting. Yup, you heard that right. You're running along and all of a sudden this bulbous noise erupts in front of you. You do a double take and look around. At least this was what I did when I first heard the usually ever so private noise. But nobody else even looked around. So you run along again and there it is again.

After having ran a ton of races this year this has, of course, come to be common and accepted. I mean, you're running along and and all that jostling and bouncing around is bound to cause something to happen. In fact I would be remiss if I also didn't mention that I too have let 'em fly when I had to. Yup, I have. When you have to, you have to, right? Don't shake your head and say how uncouth I am. You know you've done it as well.

It is a huge relief, really, after having ran 16 miles and you ever so quietly, at least that was the intention, toot when you can. In fact the whole reason I am writing about this was because at the SJ Half Marathon this past weekend this guy in front of me let it fly and it wasn't a quiet one. It was a horn that someone leaned on for a few seconds. At the 50k you are running on single track trails where you run directly behind someone for miles and they let em fly and you can't get away from it.

Despite all this, hearing someone rip one in front of you always takes you by surprise. I accept them as necessary and almost required, but that doesn't mean I won't be surprised.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Rock n' Roll Half Marathon

This was another benchmark on how my running had progressed thus far, the other being the SF Marathon. I had run this half marathon last year when I still hadn't been focusing too much on running, but rather running haphazardly. So, yet again, as with the SF Marathon, I am able to gauge how well I've come along. Beyond that this race would also be able to tell me how my knees are holding up.

I had had a rather light dinner the night before at the dinner reception for the tennis tournament I also played this weekend because they served very small portions. This was a bad start, but I didn't want to load myself with too much food that could possibly not sit well the next day. Then, to compound matters, I only had a banana for breakfast.

This was one of the few races that I was able to go to with some friends, which was a treat. So myself, Jill and Carla were driven to the race by Carla's husband, Brian, which was a another treat. There aren't too many races I go to that I don't have to drive and park. So nice start to the day.

After the traditional bathroom break we all went to our corrals shortly before the race, which was another difference from last year, where I was in one of the last corrals and had to battle the masses, which used a lot of energy. This year I ran with runners running the same pace as myself so we were able to pace properly and not battle one another.

Soon enough the race started and I felt great. I was running a nice even pace that actually felt slow, when in fact I was running a 7:50 pace for the first 4 miles. I knew that this was probably faster than I should have been running, but I felt too comfortable running at that pace. It wasn't until shortly after the fourth mile when I stopped for a bathroom break and to get something to drink that it started not feeling so comfortable anymore. That short thirty second break was enough rest to let my lungs catch up to me, as well as doing something every runner knows not to do: try something during a race that you have never tried before.

Yup, I drank Accelerade, which wouldn't necessarily mean anything accept that it is a 4:1 carbohydrate to protein mixture, which means it is different than other sports drink. It is thicker and has a pasty, chalky taste. Flavor is not altogether bad but you can tell it is a much different drink. Anyway, so this was what they served for sports drink. After the bathroom break I drank a glass of it, and knew it wasn't sitting too well. Not enough to make me stop at the next port-o-pottie, mind you, but enough to clench my stomach and wonder when I would have to stop.

I was able to maintain my pace through the 10k checkpoint at 7:58. So all was still going well. I still felt strong but I could tell I couldn't keep up that pace. It wasn't until mile 8 that my hopes were dashed. I had passed up the 1:45 pacer in the first mile and felt that I should be able to keep him either behind me or in my sight, thus pushing me to a sub 1:50 time, which was my ultimate goal. But then I could sense a group of people coming up behind me after the mile 8 marker, and sure enough they were lead by the 1:45 pacer.

Mile 9 came around and I started taking walking breaks. This was when my hopes were dashed again, because I knew my goal time was slowly coming and would probably slip away.

At miles 10 and 11 I knew I couldn't come in when I wanted, so I focused on not blowing my energy for the tennis match that was later in the day. I was failing fast for some reason and I couldn't understand why. At mile 11 the dull ache in my left knee was poking its head out and trying to say hello, but I tried to ignore it.

Finally, the finish line came and I had to run down that last stretch and... I was happy to be done with this race. I couldn't quite figure out why I didn't feel strong at the latter half of this race.

I finish strong, but when I get to the finish line I slow down a ton! I'm walking almost! Look at everyone around me... Their all sprinting!

Several possible answers:

  • After playing tennis yesterday I noticed at mile 1 my butt was sore, which I would have never guessed.
  • Accelerade upset my stomach
  • Too many long races without enough rest
  • Too fast of a pace in the beginning
  • Not enough dinner the night before
  • Not enough breakfast before the race
Whatever it could be it doesn't matter for this race. The result was what it was, but it could be useful in understanding what went wrong in order to prevent it in the future. Don't get me wrong, I am pleased with this result and am happy to have come in and finish another race. I would have liked to have kept up the pace in the first four miles that I had and finished in a sub 1:50 time (my previous last four half marathons have come in at 1:50, so I NEEDED to break this time). Another race down, more lessons learned.

As a postscript I felt fine after the race, almost like I hadn't worked hard enough. After a filling lunch to replenish the calories my sister and I played our next tennis match. I felt great out there. My legs and knees were fine as I sprinted, jumped and ran for the balls without even noticing that I had ran a half marathon. In fact I think it helped my serve as having ran the half marathon helped me keep my legs planted to the ground which helped it go in more.

As a second postscript my knees, which had been tender since the 50k, finally felt back to normal. No dull ache (until about mile 11 when it briefly flared) which gave me the go ahead to run more regularly during the week.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Finding My Tennis Legs

If you build it, they will come.

Or in this case hope, desire, wish or whatever else you want to call it. We won our first match. The first set was strange. We were up 3-0 and knew we were better than the other team. Then the typical jitters kicked in that my sister and myself have come to recognize as normal, or the usual. We ended up losing the first set 6-4 and couldn't believe what was happening. But, as I said, this was the usual. In virtually every match we played this year we ended up either losing the first set or starting really slow before finding our tennis legs.

And find our tennis legs we did. We took the second set at 6-1 and the third set at 6-1.

Which brings me to getting my heart's desire. I now get to run the half marathon tomorrow and then rest for a few hours before returning to the tennis courts to resume our quest to win the grand prix finale, which means finding my tennis legs after two hours of running.

Now this will be fun.

The Stars They Are Aligned

There are some weekends where the stars align and everything you want to do falls on that weekend. It doesn't always turn out for the best. It did this time.

My sister and I have been playing tennis this year in the Northern California USTA league for mixed doubles and have earned enough points to play in the year end Grand Prix tournament. The top eight teams gain an entry into this tournament (this year only 7 teams applied, but we were still 5th in No. Cal. so we would have been able to go anyway). But the problem was that I hadn't been playing tennis all year and had already made plans for this weekend.

The Rock n' Roll Half Marathon in downtown San Jose is on Sunday, a race I signed up for last year and have been planning for this one for a while. So what to do? USTA Grand Prix with my sister or half marathon I've planned to run months before we started playing tennis?

The stars aligned. I lucked out. Our first tennis match is today, and if we win our second match is at 2 tomorrow. The half marathon is at 8 tomorrow. Luckily I won't have to make that difficult decision and can take part in both. It will be interesting to see how my legs hold up if I win the first match and have to play the second match after running for 2 hours, but I think I will hold up.

There are only a few times that conflicting events work out in our favor. This was my time. The stars they are aligned.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Marathon vs. Ultramarathon

This is a fun one. The two couldn't be more different from one another and yet they both achieve the same goal. For the sake of this post I am assuming marathons on paved roads and ultramarathons on trails.

Distance - This, of course, is the most obvious difference between the two, With the marathon at 26.2 miles and the ultramarathon any distance that is greater than 26.2. For example, a 50k is 31 miles. This doesn't seem like much of a difference, being only 5 miles, but after you've ran that far every mile begins to feel much longer than the previous or longer than the beginning miles.

Elevation - The elevation gain is the kicker when it comes to most ultramarathons since most ultramarathons are trail runs. This results in at least an elevation gain of around 4,500 ft or more. This seems very daunting at first, especially as you've ran half the race and you see a trail that just seems to be continually going up, and up and up. This plays games on your legs as well as with your head as you have to be ready to conquer the hills. How, you might ask? Well you conquer them by walking. If you are planning on winning the race, of course, then you probably are not walking the ascents, but for the average ultramarathoner you are walking virtually every ascent and running every descent.

Time - Because of the elevation gain and the forced walking in order to conserve your energy your average pace slows drastically. This results in a finish time much longer than the marathon. For example, I ran my most resent marathon in 4hrs38min and my 50k in 8hrs15min. A huge difference, and a lot of time spent with yourself and only yourself.

Hydration/Nutrition - In the marathon there are aid stations spread out everywhere, which gives the runner plenty of opportunity to make sure that there are plenty of fluids being drank. In an ultramarathon it is you and the trail with aid stations few and far between. This leaves you with at least one 20oz. water bottle and very possibly two, either handheld or on a hip pack. Because of the length of time you are out there and the energy exerted you drink a ton more fluids than you would during a marathon. Additionally, you need to consume quite a bit more during the race. In a marathon you can get by with a few Gu's if you want or even subsisting only on sports drinks and water. Not so with the ultramarathons, which entails packing some energy bars and other forms to consume a large quantity of calories.

Aid Stations - As mentioned above, the aid stations are few and far in between, leaving you more self sufficient with the ultras. Additionally, when you get to the aid stations you have a whole array of food (such as M&Ms, chips, brownies, potatoes and salt, pretzels and so on) that you can munch on while some volunteers fill your water bottle. With the marathon there is no food and oftentimes the sports drink is watered down to make it spread further (which doesn't absorb as well) and maybe, if you are lucky, you'll get some Gu packets or something. The water is handed to you in little dixie cups with about an ounce in each, which doesn't do much unless you walk through and grab five or six cups.

Your Body - This was the most interesting difference. With the marathon you are pressing a lot harder in order to maximize your time and attempt to achieve a PR. This, of course, stresses you body right off the bat. Then you throw in running on concrete for 26.2 miles and your body takes a beating. The ultramarathon, on the other hand, is run at a slower pace and you have many walk breaks to give your body a rest. The hills utilize different muscle groups so the variation is easier on the legs than running on flat streets where you stress the same muscle group over and over. Ultramarathons, surprisingly, are much easier on the body than a marathon and my recovery time was much faster than after the marathon.

Runners - Marathons, of course, draw a much larger crowd. This makes for your 26.2 miles to be ran almost entirely with someone either around you, in front of you or behind you in sight. There are always people talking and there is the continuous pitter patter of running shoes on concrete. They are also nice but generally stay to themselves. The ultramarathon is usually no more than 100 runners, oftentimes maxing out at 50. Since the race is so long the runners tend to spread out and you can go for hours without coming in contact with another runner, although you can usually see them way off in the distance in front of you or behind you. Additionally, contact is very short, but when you do come across another runner they are very cordial and encouraging.

Course - Marathons are oftentimes run on street with volunteers spread out throughout the whole race guiding you. Ultramarathons are usually trail runs which means you have to keep a vigilant eye out for the little pink, fluttering ribbons warning you of a turn coming up. It is easy to get lost and lose an hour or two and log in some extra bonus miles.

Accomplishment - This is the end goal that is the same in both. You feel you have achieved something with both. But, I must say, the ultramarathon tickled me more than finishing the marathon.

Monday, October 8, 2007

What Running Has Done For Me

Last year before I ran my first marathon in SF at the end of July I had hiked Half Dome. That was two weeks before the marathon and the main reason why I felt I should give the marathon a try. I was at my peak weight of 212. Looking at it then I wouldn't say that I was overweight, but rather that I was rounding out and becoming "pudgy". I beg the differ now.

A couple of days ago my friends were finally able to compile all the pictures and burn them to cd, so I hadn't seen any of the pictures until a few days ago. My jaw dropped. I barely recognized myself.

These were taken in July of 2006, two weeks before the SF Marathon (weight 212).

I'm on the right

Fourth from either side

Now these were taken this year in June, so not quite a year later. I weighed 177.

It is amazing what complacency does to a person. We get in our ways and routines, not thinking twice about it. As the years go by you slowly allow yourself to indulge in whatever you fancy. The smoker smokes more. The drinker drinks more. I ate more and drank more soda. After three or four years of this you say "geez, I need to lose weight" but you don't take action.

I became fed up with my situation. I started making the typical excuses. "I can't do that." Or make excuses such as "Oh, well this just comes as you get older." I struggled on. After that first fateful marathon, made on an impulse three days before the event, my metabolism was kicked into gear. I lost around twelve pounds in the 4 weeks after. Since then I have continued running and have lost a total of 35 pounds and feel great.

I didn't need a magical pill. I didn't need some magical diet, like Atkins, or Grapefruit, or only Soy or whatever other crazy concoction. It took a diet of less food, more exercise. Simple, that was it. What excuses are made to counter this? "I get to hungry eating less, I can't possibly eat less, and I can't do enough exercise to counter the food." Hogwash. Cut out an hour or television and go out for a run. You get hungry? Uh, isn't that the point? Your body is trained to eat more, so you have to train to eat less and adapt your body to it.

Anyway, I am off my soapbox. The point of all this is that I was amazed at how different I looked with the extra 35 pounds in 2006, and that something as simple as going out and running a few days a week and cutting back on my caloric intake helped me lose the weight and feel more comfortable. Simple equation and the most basic and efficient diet out there. If I could tell everyone out there how simple it is if you have a little perseverance and will power then it would be worth it. Unfortunately the magic pills and diets seem to offer quick results (that don't often last for a long time because dieting and exercise are not added) and in this instant gratification society...

Running and, more generally, exercise have reopened doors. I couldn't be more thankful to running and I think this is perhaps why I have come to enjoy running so much. We all have our reasons, but running helped me become what I remembered of myself and put me back into the shape that I have always seen myself, even with the extra 35 pounds.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Elevation Profiles

Recently I've been looking everywhere for a program or something that can give me an accurate elevation profile that also tells me how many feet I ascended and descended during a race. I find this bit of information extremely interesting as well useful in seeing how your race compares against, say, another 10k with 500 feet of elevation gain. But I couldn't find anything!

I use my Garmin and the elevation ascent/descent is always wrong. I could be standing still at sea level (the SF marathon for example) and it fluctuates up and down from -100 to 200 feet within a matter of 30 seconds. Or I run around a track and it says I ran 1,000 feet of elevation gain! This irked me some, so I called Garmin to see if there was a software update or something. Nope, there wasn't. Apparently the Forerunner 205 is based off of GPS, which has some god awful margin of error, so much so that it isn't really accurate at all. The 305, though, is based off of an altimeter (sp?) and is much more accurate, although still with a big margin of error.

So I searched the web and looked high and low. Found a National Geographic software called GPS USA that claims to do elevation profiles, yet it isn't compatible with anything higher than the 201 or 301 and you can't even zoom in enough for you to plot the course! So you can pay more money to plot the course on more specific software, but it still isn't compatible with the 205 or 305. So I found a plugin for Google Earth called Wikiloc that gives the profile, but it takes whatever your GPS device says and plops out some number.

For example, my Garmin said that I ascended something like 10,000 feet in my last Half Marathon (actual was around 1,600 ft). The Wikiloc plugin says that I ascended 6,600 feet. So better, but still way off. So I tried plotting it myself, but I come up with 2,400. Much better, but still no cigar.

Finally, and completely by accident, I came across MapMyRun. Absolutely amazing. Exactly what I have been looking for for weeks. You can plot your own run and it will give you an accurate elevation profile. But even better, you can download directly into it from the Garmin and it will take the coordinates and plot it on a map (you can view in map, satellite, or hybrid) and it discards the accompanied elevation figures, as well as discards the random 100, 200, and 300 foot shifts in elevation that the Garmin has when standing still. Its algorithm filters this out and, voila! An accurate elevation profile. Amazing. Even better is that you can then share it with the public and you can also look for other race profiles and/or find other trails and routes around where you run. And its free!

I can't toot MapMyRun's horn enough. This was certainly made by outdoor adventurers for outdoor adventurers with a mind for the data that we typically look for and like. Give it a try.

PS It says it has the capability of uploading GPX files into it but I have not been able to get this to work. This sucks because I've deleted all of the races and courses off my Garmin and so am unable to plot a profile. I have an email placed in to MapMyRun and will let everyone know when they respond. Otherwise, the only method of getting your information into the system to plot the profiles would be to do it manually or upload it via a GPS device.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The "You're Crazy" Stare

It really is interesting listening to and seeing other peoples reactions when I tell them that I am a runner. Usually it starts out well with a congrats and great job, wish I could get out and exercise more. Which is expected as this is becoming the norm for today's society, and thus the rise in obesity in America.

But the fun ones come after when they invariably ask, "What do you run?" "What is the furthest you've ran?"

I always get that shocked look that screams "You're crazy!" Haha, I love this one, always followed up with a I know better than you do and a shake of the head. Why is it so hard to believe that I want to run a marathon, that not only do I want to run a marathon but I want to do many throughout the year as well as my life? They can't understand. They always, though, throw in the "I admire you, I wish I could do it" or "That is quite an accomplishment".

I enjoy these comments because they aren't completely off the wall and they tend to be real and meaningful comments.

But then I tell them I just ran a 50k, that I have a few more coming up and that I want to run a 50 miler next year. That look of "You're crazy" is no longer feigned, is now a set in stone, stuck on the face look. Have I lost my mind, they ask, why would anyone ever want to be running for that long and for that far? And, you know, I sincerely try and answer their questions and help them understand.

It's a passion. Just as you have in cars, or you have in computers, or you have in watching television. You know, that marathon 4 hour couch potato night that you love? Similar to that, except I am running in nature and am accomplishing something that helps act as a driving force for allowing me to realize that we really can do anything we want. This, of course, is always followed up with "You're crazy stupid, I just don't understand why you would want to put your body through all that pain and struggle for a free shirt and, maybe, a medal".

I give up, usually, and turn to the You wouldn't understand. Runners love it, and will think about running all day. Non-runners just don't understand that connection. To them running is torture. Not the same as say loving cars and saying 'non-car-lovers just wouldn't understand', because we understand that. Perhaps something that is acquired is drinking beer, but this still doesn't equate because you don't acquire a taste for running: you either like it or you don't.

This, of course, makes matters worse because now, even though I never intended this, the person thinks that I think they just couldn't understand, that they don't have the life experiences to understand, and are hurt. Which couldn't be further from the truth.

At this point I give up trying to explain to a non-runner why I would want to run for 31 miles or do a marathon. Now I just accept their know all nods and eyes rolled as they brush such a healthy activity aside as idiotic. Oh well, you win some and you lose some, and this is usually an uphill battle that won't go anywhere.

So I turn to my blogging runners and immerse myself in their running tales and stories and, most importantly, their drive and desire to keep up running.

Then I go out for a run.