Road to NYC: Marathon Training Week 13 Recap

Pretty glad I took off last week for my anniversary trip. I was able to wake up each morning last week and get all four runs in, hitting (basically) my mileage goal and feeling pretty confident. We are getting very close to race day, and now is not the time to push it too hard and get injured. That’s always been a fear of mine leading up to peak weak. Don’t be stupid, don’t push too hard, don’t ignore your body and break your leg or something. You’ve come too far to not be able to run. Just keep going and you’ll get there.

Tuesday. Five miles, all in the dark. Weather is becoming less of a problem, but light sure is. No longer can I start running at 5:45AM and not need street lights to guide my path. Sunrise doesn’t start until later and later now.

Wednesday. Nine miles. I basically broke this up into three miles at 10:30 pace, three miles at 10 pace and three miles at 9:30 pace. Felt pretty good. I dealt with the dark by sleeping in and going to work a bit late. Not sure I can get away with that this week though.

Thursday. Another five miles. Nothing special.

Saturday. 18.3 miles out of my scheduled 19. I broke it down like this: My normal six mile loop, the six mile loop to the island and back, and then the final seven miles. I took quick walk breaks to get some chews every three miles. Much like the 18-miler from two weekends ago, I kept things nice and easy (mid to low 11s) for the first 12 or so miles, then picked it up. And everything felt awesome for the first 15. Miles 16 and 17 were at a mid-10 pace, but I could feel myself fading under the direct sunlight. I went to take a walk break at 17, and just couldn’t get going again. I would try, but my feet just didn’t want to cooperate. I ended up walking along the river back to the park to find R, and we walked back to the apartment together. My last 1.3 miles was at a walking pace, but I’m fine with it. I know I’ll finish and I know that NYC won’t be as hot as Memphis can be.

It’s a step-back week this week, followed by peak week. Not looking forward to that, though I am ready to get this thing over with. I’m at the point in training where you are tired and sore. Everything hurts and you just want it to be over. And soon enough, I’ll be toeing the line on Staten Island, ready to cross the bridge and hammer this race home. And I better see a four as the first number on my finishing time!

Marathon Training Totals
Weekly Runs: 4
Weekly Miles: 37
Total Runs: 44
Total Miles: 303

What would 8-year-old me think of who I am today?

On Facebook, a link has been going around titled, “7 Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life Purpose.” The crux of the article is that you must ask yourself a series of questions to determine what your true passion and purpose is in life. This is not an easy thing to determine; some people know their purpose immediately, whether it’s to become a nun or a teacher or play in the Super Bowl. Others drift aimlessly through life, wondering what their true calling is, what they should be doing with their life. This isn’t the first article to suggest asking questions to figure it out; a quick Google search shows 2.5M hits on finding your passion in life.

At some point, I’m going to go through this entire exercise as a post, but for now I wanted to hone in on a question I’ve been asking myself a lot recently. What is true about me today that would make 8-year-old me cry? In other words, if 8 year-old got into a time machine and traveled to right now to speak with his future self, what would he think? Would he like his future self and the changes he’s made in his life, or would he be shocked at how different he became?

Get to know 8 year old me
Who remembers much about themselves when they were that young? I certainly don’t, so I went to a good source: my mom. She said that I was funny, loving and creative, not afraid of running with the crowd and doing my own thing. I think the best part of what she said, other than talking about our awesome relationship, was this:

You never let things get you down. If you couldn’t be good at baseball you tried something else. You were friends with the kids who maybe didn’t have a lot of friends. You didn’t need to be with the popular kids. You tried to bring all the kids into your world. You were a leader without even trying to be one. Kids gravitated to you. You were artistic; always bringing home a 12 page booklet of stories and pictures for me.

So, 8-year-old me was creative, a leader, reaching out to others and not needing to be with the popular people. Sounds like I was a pretty damn awesome kid!

What would he think of me today?
Oof. Well, I don’t do much creative anymore. I don’t write stories (or tell them), certainly not 12-page booklets of stories and pictures for my mom. I think the drive to be accepted and popular pushed me away from being a leader, and more to someone that gravitates towards others. I still do my own thing; some of my friends get really annoyed that I skip Friday happy hours to run 20 miles in the heat to train for a marathon. So would 8-year-old me like to hang out with me, or kick me in the shins and run away?

I think 8-year-old me would be happy with how he turned out, with some key exceptions. He’d be happy that I’ve picked up writing again, although it’s blogging and not necessarily creative writing. He’d be happy that I keep doing my own things sometimes, and that I don’t have a problem with talking to the not-so-popular kids (but really, what is popular anymore?) I think younger me would be sad that he wasn’t as creative anymore, or that he got wrapped up in what you SHOULD do (stable, corporate job) rather than what you WANT to do (your passion). He’d be sad that he played it safe too much, became too risk averse and tried to just blend in with the crowd.

The good news is, life isn’t over. As I read on Twitter the other day, “Not happy? Move. You’re not a tree.” We can always change what doesn’t make us happy. Don’t like your job? Get a new one. Don’t like the way you look? Hit the gym or change your hair. Don’t like your friends? Get new ones. 8-year-old me discovered a damn time machine and came to see what he was like at 32, there’s nothing to say he can’t visit me at 42 or 52 or whenever he wants! It’s up to me, and only me, to get closer to a place where the younger me would be satisfied with how his life would go.

Road to NYC: Marathon Training Week 12 Recap

Sorry for the lack of posts. I went out of town this weekend and didn’t have a chance to post again before I left, and when I got back I got sidetracked.

I think it’s important, whenever you are training for a big endurance event, that you take stock of where you are and what you need to be successful. We both determined that we needed a break, a chance to get out of Memphis for a weekend and celebrate our anniversary without worrying about diets or mileage or proper sleep. So we headed out to Hot Springs, Arkansas, to take in the sights and do some hiking.

We arrived into town on Friday late afternoon, having taken a half day. The three hour drive was fine, other than our A/C going out in the car. We checked into our hotel and partook in their free happy hour. We then walked around a bit, trying to get our bearings before the sun went down. We ended up eating dinner at Rolando’s, which combines two of my favorite things: Tex Mex food and the roaring 1920s. That’s right, it was a speakeasy that served twists on Tex Mex. We shared the special quesadilla, which added goat cheese to the normal chicken, veggies and cheese. It was delicious.

Saturday was hiking day. After a big breakfast, we headed down to the national park visitor center to score a map and go through the bath house tour. It was pretty interesting to see the different ways they would use the natural hot spring water as a way to heal different ailments, ranging from sore muscles and headaches to hangovers and syphilis. We then headed up Hot Springs Mountain to get to the observation deck. The hike was short and the trails were pretty poorly marked, but we made it and found the views pretty nice

Hot Springs, AR

Hot Springs, AR

We continued to walk around the park area, spotting different hot springs. This water is crazy hot, like 140 degrees! We each put our hands in it for a second, and it was awesome. I can see why the resorts grew up around it.

Hot Springs, AR

Hot Springs, AR

As far as running…well….we didn’t do much. I did my 5 miler on Tuesday and my 8 miler on Wednesday, but we missed our Thursday runs and skipped our weekend runs. We are now in the thick of peak training, with our longest long runs left: 19 this weekend and 20 in three weeks, before tapering towards the marathon.

    NYCM Week 12

    Marathon Training Totals
    Weekly Runs: 2
    Weekly Miles: 13
    Total Runs: 40
    Total Miles: 266

In Today’s “Obviously!” Files…

Saw this on Facebook, and my first reaction was “No shit!” Mark Cuban, billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks and host of Shark Tank, was interviewed by Business Insider and asked about what he wished he knew about money when he was in his 20s. Here’s his response:

That credit cards are the worst investment that you can make. That the money I save on interest by not having debt is better than any return I could possibly get by investing that money in the stock market. I thought I would be a stock market genius. Until I wasn’t.

I should have paid off my cards every 30 days.

This seemed like the most obvious personal finance advice ever. And coming from a man like Mark Cuban, I expected something more profound. The importance of saving, various investment strategies, taking risks…each of these seemed more worthy of advice from him. But avoiding credit card debt? We don’t normally associate billionaires with credit card debt. Sure, they leverage themselves in real estate or other business ventures. After all, the man was a millionaire by the time he was 32, and a billionaire at 41. Hardly the type of person to lament too many lattes at Starbucks.

But then I thought about it, and it made more sense. First, credit card debt is absolutely crippling to one’s financial future. The average credit card debt load in the U.S. is over $15k. Obviously, if you owe that much you’re probably just paying the minimums. This article from Lifehacker does a good job of showing how long it takes to pay down debt this way. It is terrible. So maybe if Mark Cuban is warning people against it, they’ll listen.

Secondly, if you have a high amount of consumer debt, that eats up a good portion of your cash flow. You need to consider the opportunities that this debt prevents you from accepting. Maybe a friend has a solid business idea and is looking for investors. Maybe you want to get serious about contributing to your roth IRA. Maybe you’ve had a dream to quit your job and write full-time. If you’re carrying a heavy load of debt, this becomes extremely difficult. The combination of high interest rates and low minimum payments makes them a disaster. You can’t accept these opportunities with that debt hanging over your head.

I myself used to carry a LOT of credit card debt, and it took me several years to pay it all off. During that time, I had to forgo several opportunities. It killed me to think that not adhering to a budget and spending beyond my means was impacting my present and future happiness so much. I vowed to not carry that balance anymore. Like Mark, I sure wish I had listened to the advice of others and not gotten into that situation in the first place. Sure, the debt and payments are awful, but what it prevents you from doing is even worse.

While it wasn’t the advice I expected to hear from someone of his stature, it definitely makes perfect sense and is advice we should all consider.

Road to NYC: Marathon Training Week 11 Recap

Last week, the official TCS NYC Marathon Facebook page held a Q&A chat, where people could ask questions and get advice on the race, now just 47 days away (holy crap). There were questions about the correct transportation choice, how to get to the ferry terminal, whether this race would interfere with another planned race, etc. One thing that struck me was just how difficult it seems to be to stick to a training plan. There were several people asking if their longest long run would be long enough. People struggling to get halfway. That scares me. I’ve always been worried about getting injured and not being able to complete the race, or even start it (DFL > DNF > DNS). Last year for the MCM, R was struggling a bit, so I shut her down for the whole taper period, thinking she was just overtrained and needed the rest. It worked out, so I’m hopeful that an easy training schedule will get those people across the finish line as well.

My training week was pretty good. I felt strong during my runs, though I took it easy during the week. Saturday was something magical…

NYCM Week 11

Tuesday. Five easy miles. Nothing special here, just a typical hot and humid morning run.

Wednesday. Eight miles, easy pace. Gee, will the weather EVER cool down or provide some rain?

Thursday. YUP. Thursday morning we awoke to a torrential downpour throughout the tri-state area (TN, MS and AR). After it was all over, more than 7 inches of rain fell that day. Businesses and schools closed early. There was massive flooding and lots of damage. There was even a dramatic rescue caught on camera. I have a buddy that works in Horn Lake, MS, and his office closed Thursday just in time for everyone to get out before it flooded, and the office is STILL closed. Needless to say, I did not run and missed my five miler.

Saturday. Cooler weather usually follows a rainy period. Saturday morning it was in the mid-50s (quite a shock, coming from early morning temps around 80) and complete cloud cover. It even rained a bit. Taking my own advice to break down the 18 miles, I did one loop of six, went to the end of the island and back for another six, then completed a second loop for my final 18. My pace got quicker towards the end, so I felt pretty good. Until I stopped. Then my back seized up and it was a miserable walk back to my apartment. It wasn’t anything I did, just the cold weather.

The rest of the day was spent recovering with a long, hot shower, coffee, food and football. Pretty much a good Saturday in my book.

Marathon Training Totals
Weekly Runs: 3
Weekly Miles: 31
Total Runs: 38
Total Miles: 253