Running and Songwriting

How quickly we can fall from our superhuman pedestal. Today marks 18 days since I turned my ankle and got sick. Since then I have done pretty much jack shit. I feebly tried to run a couple days ago and threw in the towel after a few blocks, since my left ankle was already begging for mercy. Oh how I dearly miss running and how I dearly miss having a functioning body. Today is just a gorgeous day and I would love to head out for a nice 6 mile trail run, but I am going to hole up for awhile longer.

I have continued to cheat on my vegan diet, but not by much. Yesterday for lunch I had some cheese. Horrors! I have also been embracing my sedentary existence by delving heavily back into songwriting and beer drinking. The songwriting is tremendously humbling. I am not in writing shape so yesterday marked my first day in quite awhile of trying to brainstorm a song. I got something, but it definitely falls into the category of sniveling drivel.

As I get back into songwriting I am reminded of its similarities to running. It is solitary, humbling, challenging, rewarding, and is about putting one foot in front of the other. It is something you have to show up for, to stay in shape for. Yesterday was the songwriting equivalent of going for a jog after a year long hiatus from exercise. Today I am very, very sore.


6.5 weeks left until marathon

Yes, less than 7 weeks until the San Luis Obispo marathon. I have been sick for 10 days and have been nursing a bum ankle. And there were some serious cracks in my vegan facade this weekend as I ingested bacon, eggs, carnitas, and cheese. Basically, I am kinda sorta throwing in the towel. I am not going to beat myself up trying to prepare for the marathon. No point.

On the musical front, my good friend and ex-Shambler bandmate Mike Marotto visited this past weekend. We hung out on Friday night and played guitar and it was pure bliss. Mike is basically a fantastic human being and an incredible musician. Too bad he lives in Vermont.

So, the silver lining of being laid up with sickness and such is I am getting back into the guitar. I think I’ll book a gig.

Running While Vegan

It was three weeks ago yesterday when I bought a new pair of Brooks Pure Flow shoes, took off on a 6 mile run, and decided to get in shape for the San Luis Obispo Marathon on April 7th. Four days after that I decided to try a raw food diet for the day. I ate a lot of potatoes and almonds. And from that point on I have been eating a vegan diet. It will be 3 weeks on Sunday, and I have no immediate plans to stop. I feel like I am more energetic, slimmer, and healthier. Basically, I see no downside. Well, there is of course the downside of no meat, cheese, dairy, etc. but it really has not been all that bad. Mainly, I have become so much more conscious of what I eat and therefore I am eating better. When you have the freedom to eat whatever you want then you sometimes eat whatever you want. Eating Vegan forces me to think about putting healthy meals together. I am eating a lot of tempeh, quinoa, broccoli, grilled vegetables (fennel, brussel sprouts, potatoes), and salads. To some people this sounds like pure, miserable torture. To me it is empowering.

It is very odd how nasty people get when they find out you are eating vegan. I do not know why this is. Maybe they think all vegans are self righteuos assholes. Maybe they realize a meat-based diet has major planetary issues and they feel threatened by someone who does not participate in that. Maybe they just think veganism is totally lame. I do not know. However, it is irrefutable that a vegan based diet is better for the planet. I found out that simply by not eating meat for a year it is the equivalent in carbon offsets of selling my 20MPG car and driving a hybrid. There are also several other fascinating anecdotes that I will not get into at this time. Suffice to say, it is the path I have chosen and I plan to walk it for awhile. Apologies to my meat loving wife.

Oh, and I technically cannot call myself a vegan. I am wearing a leather belt. And leather shoes. And I eat honey. And a week ago I had a tempeh shepherds pie with butter in the ingredients. And yesterday I ate a bowl of soup with a chicken based broth. Bad vegan.

Running Fiend

After my scare last Thursday I decided to regress to my old running style (mild heel strike) for a bit in order to ease up on ye olde calf tendon. It worked. I ran 15 miles with my cousin Earl on Saturday and it was a smashing success. We went slow and averaged 10.5 minute miles and when we were finished I was DONE. However, I recovered fairly quickly and felt good by that evening. I took off the next two days and then ran 6 miles yesterday and felt good. Then last night I had a really close call. I was skateboarding and I crashed and went down HARD. I broke my fall with my left arm and I came very close to breaking it. I have a slight sprain my my left wrist, so no guitar for a bit, which is very very sad. However, I can still run. I can RUN!! I really really do not want to get hurt. I want to run and play guitar forever and ever.

I am Born (to run) Again!!!

Yesterday I declared that I am training for a marathon. This is all very new. It was literally only a week ago that I decided to start running consistently and see where it got me. But I think the stars are aligning. I went on a 6 mile run yesterday, my 6th run in as many days, and it was one of the best runs I have ever had in my life. I expected to be tired. Instead, I was ecstatic and elated. And it all comes down to the book Born To Run. The book has gotten a lot of attention and for good reason. It basically states that we have been running all wrong for the last 30 or so years, that with the introduction of the running shoe we began favoring a heel strike due to the shoe padding. The argument is that the heel strike is neither natural nor efficient.

Luckily, I started trail running in Vibram 5 fingers a couple years ago, and those shoes make it very difficult to run with a heel strike since there is no padding. The natural inclination with those shoes is to run with the forefoot, which Born To Run argues is the right way to run. Sill, it is very difficult to run with a forefoot strike on pavement in running shoes when the heel strike is something you have been doing all your life. So yesterday I ran focusing solely on a forefoot strike, and it was a profound experience. Road running for me has always been a labor, and I think it is because I have been running in a very inefficient way (heel strike!). The forefoot strike takes no more effort, yet it propels you forward more quickly and more effortlessly. It is remarkable. I feel like I stumbled across some secret that has been kept from me for 40 years and that now I know the secret to better running. Yesterdays run was truly a revelation. I ran from my house to the Felsman Loop trail on Bishops Peak (I love that trail!) and back home again. It was a piece of cake.

Read Born to Run and you too may be born (to run) again. Hallelujah!!!

I am training to run a marathon

I competed in the Wildflower half Ironman in 1995. 1.2M swim, 56M bike, 13.1M run. It just about killed me. I bonked during the run and had to get two IV drips after the race. Granted, I had a decent time (5:45) all things considered, since I walked most of the half marathon, but it was still very humbling and basically I have had no desire to do any competitive racing since. But here I stand almost 20 years later and i am considering a marathon. Why the change of heart? Well, a few things I think. First, I need to drink less. Alcohol that is. Alcohol was a good friend of mine during the most difficult child-rearing years. I would never drink during the day, but after a long day with a 2 and 3 year old I would down a few strong beers to numb myself to the mayhem. Sometimes this paid dividends in that I got a second wind and next thing i knew I was writing a song and being productive, rather than just sleeping or watching TV. But that did not happen too often. So, bottom line is things are now so much easier with the boys and Alcohol is no longer necessary as a numbing agent. So that is reason #1.
Reason #2 is that after so many years of barely hanging in there (while child rearing) I can finally dedicate myself to something that is energy sapping OTHER THAN childcare. Man, we were exhausted for years. Now we get to sleep through the night. Also, Melanie and I used to not be so good at giving the other person time to go on a long run, since we were terrified to be alone with the kids, so we suffered together. No longer. So now I can disappear for 2 hours and the world will not end.
Reason #3 is that I am getting older. I might as well try to get a bit more out of this body before it is too late.
Reason #4 is because I want to eat better, and running will help me do that.
Reason #5 is because I have gotten really good at stretching. I MUST stretch between runs because my body gets tight. I do that now and it helps immensely.
Reason #6 is because it is fun to obsess about something and this is way more fun to obsess about than heroin or politics or Jesus.
Reason #7 is because, about a year and a half ago, I bought a pair of Vibram 5 finger shoes, those funky things that have separate spaces for all 5 toes. I have been trail running on them ever since and they are great. Concurrently, I am reading Born To Run, which focuses a lot on why a more primitive running technique is better (no heel strike!) and it is fun to work on that.
Reason #8 is because i just want to finish a goddamn marathon. It will either be my only one or will lead to a greater obsession. If it leads to a greater obsession I would love to run New York and Chicago and maybe marathons in other cities.

There is only one problem about all this. I hate running on pavement. I love trail running. But most marathons are on pavement. So I will give it a shot. If it sucks I might be relegated to the trail running marathons. Also, I am worried about bonking again. I am a HEAVY SWEATER and the Wildflower experience made me realize how vigilant I need to be in replenishing my fuel reserves. But I really pushed it at the Wildflower. This time my goal is to find a comfortable pace. I have no intention of killing myself.

So the San Luis Obispo Marathon is April 7th. That gives me about 10 weeks to get ready. I am going to keep running for another couple weeks and see how I feel. If I am still gung-ho then I will sign up for it and see what happens. The bottom line is that I am excited for a new challenge. Yay.