Friday, February 3, 2012

Kicking Ass and Giving Thanks

Something very disturbing has been happening lately. I've actually been running fast. Very fast. Suspiciously fast! I'm surprised that the authorities haven't showed up outside my door demanding that I take a blood test. It's gotten to the point where my wife rolls her eyes and mumbles, "Oh, did you run another PR today" every time I come back from a workout with a goofy smile on my face. 

I'm not sure what's going on exactly, but obviously I'm doing something right with my training. In the past month I've crushed two personal records, including one that I set in 2008 and hadn't even come close to in the past 4 years.

Basically I have two "benchmark" runs that I run regularly to gauge my current fitness level. They are both 4 mile hill climbs. One is at Sierra Azul, from the Kennedy trail head entrance up to the top of the mountain at the intersection of Priest Rock. My personal best was 38:15, set back in 2008. And generally I am happy to run it in around 41 minutes. However, earlier this month and I went out and ran a 37:46, taking nearly 30 seconds off my best time!

My other regular "benchmark" climb is at Quicksilver park, from the MacAbee entrance to the top of Bull Run. My personal best was 37:09, which I set in April 2011. Aside from a couple of hard efforts in the 38 minute range, I usually run this course in around 39 or 40 minutes. Imagine my surprise when I ran this course in 36:44 earlier this month, going 25 seconds under my previous best. And then imagine my even greater surprise when I took another 2 minutes of that time and ran a blazing 34:55 this week!

Comparison of Bull Run PRs
I've looked at my split times and tried to make sure that the park rangers hadn't made the course any shorter or flattened any of the hills. But no, it's all still there. It appears that somehow I've just gotten much faster.

I suppose I could spend a lot of time trying to put a finger on it. Maybe my faster running times as a "cross over" result of all the intense training I've been doing on the bike since I've taken up cycling again? Or maybe the faster run times are a result of the pounds I've dropped since officially renouncing my trademark beer-and-ice-cream diet?

But instead of wasting my time asking why, I'm just going to be grateful and give thanks. There are so many blessing in my life, and sometimes I have to remind myself that anytime I can even get out the door and go for a run in the mountains is a good day.

So with that in mind, I'd like to acknowledge and thank some of the people who have contributed to my running over the years.

  • My dad, for letting me tag along on his Detroit marathon training runs when I was 5 years old. I'm sure my 12 minute miles were not what his training program called for. Without him, I very well might have never found the joy of running.
  • My mother, who over the years always brought me back to running whenever I strayed too far into other sports or passions.
  • My wife Amy, who introduced me to this strange "ultra running" thing that she was training for at the time we met (at a trail half marathon in Woodside). If she and I hadn't met I might still be out floundering around in the ocean doing silly triathlons.
  • My training partner Dr. Joeseph Bistrain with whom I've been running and cycling on a weekly basis  for nearly 5 years since we met in April, 2007. He dropped me that day. Though he has since slowed down quite a bit in his old age. Just kidding Joe ;)
  • SAP lunchtime running colleagues Satit Nuchitsiripattara, Hermann Lueckhoff, Armando Chavez, Leo Flores, Octavian Iancu, Michael Kuehn
  • Silicon Valley Triathlon Club friends Craig Petersen, Gordy Haupt, Nick Daugherty, Eduard Korat;
  • My work-conference buddy Bill Pritchett who always reminds me to bring my running shoes to Las Vegas and Orlando when we travel to CRM conferences
  • And of course, the Quicksilver Ultra Racing team including Coach Greg Lanctot and teammates Sean Lang, Adam Blum, Pierre Couteau, Jean Pommier, Mark Tanaka, Bree Lambert, Toshi, and everyone else!
Thank you to everyone. I'm grateful and indebted. But I'm still going to kick your ass!

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