Thursday, October 29, 2009

10 Miles of Fun

10 mile run, 10 miles of fun. The ten mile run that moves it's way through Shelby Forrest is challenging and if you find that to be fun, then you will enjoy the MRTC road race series 10 mile run. It is definitely a fun, hard, up and down, mentally difficult, and beautiful (sight seeing, if you happen to notice as you run through) run.

I (Brett) pause to write this post because this particular run was a personal step in the right direction for me due to the mental realm into which it forced me. My brother was nice enough to help pace me and try and keep us right around 6 minute pace, but the hills had another idea for what my pace should be. As I crested these hills I found myself a number of times heaving for more air and struggling to refocus myself on the pace set out before me. I would say that there were probably seven moments in the race when I had to force myself to battle my own mind.

My high school running mentor who really started it all for me - literally, he even pursued me in middle school and somehow convinced me to run cross-country over soccer, a sport I absolutely loved playing - Sam Bell had a way of describing the type of run that this past 10 miler was for me. "Running just out of comfort zone," is what he used to say. He would use that phrase to talk about workouts usually, but that phrase really captures what this 10 mile run was for me.

Why is it so difficult for us to take ourselves out of the comfort zone... to push just beyond the threshold and embrace some pain? The great runners are those who live way beyond this threshold, or perhaps they have created entirely new thresholds altogether. And you know what I remembered during/just after this past 10 mile run? Running just past the pain threshold and embracing that pace hurts a little more, but it feels so good - it's fun. It sounds crazy but it's true. Convincing your mind to believe that and step on through is difficult, but you will find that it's entirely true. Maybe I won't make it back through for a while, but for now I'm so excited and revived to remember what it feels like to peep my head back through a little bit to beyond the threshold of pain to see the joy of what running really can be.

Will you come through with me to the other side to see the truth? Will you punch through and embrace just a little bit of pain to realize that some inner part of you will smile as it happens? Let's join our metaphorical running hands together and embrace the "just outside of the comfort zone" area and lets learn to live there baby!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

When is Running Racing?

One long lasting conversation any good distance runner has centers around the point of the ultimate distance to race. In high school most runners agree that the 800 meter race is pretty much it due to the need for intense speed mixed with duration. In college it seemed most opted for the 3000 meter steeple chase due to it's mixture of speed, distance, and now jumps too. Personally I always thought it was funny that men went from the 5k to the 8k/10k in the college jump - when asking why, the best response I could get was, "The 5k is just a sprint now." What a mind altering comment!

So now that we are in the real world of running where all runners congregate, Olympians and first time runners alike, what constitutes as the ultimate race? Is there a distance that better tests a humans abilities than another? Is there a distance where running ceases to be running and becomes fast hiking? Is there a certain amount of energy/effort that must be exerted for a run to become a race? If we take the later approach I often wonder if I've raced since college...

Let's pause first on this - transitioning from a run to a race. A good example is your average runner out there running. Do they understand what it means to push their body and race? Do I? Do you? Most of us do not. Look to for a great website that understands this principle to the "t" and goes the opposite direction. Why run hard and push yourself and rob yourself of the joy from experiencing the run? Take your time and enjoy yourself. It is true that after some runs my body seems to be telling me I'm insane for pushing myself past a certain limit. Might I have enjoyed the run better if I had simply slowed down...

And then there is the distance question. Just because I line up with other guys next to me and agree to compete over a certain distance, does it count as a race (in the running sense)? Or after a certain point does it become something else - an intense adventure run or perseverance of the mind race rather than a running race? Frank Shorter has said about the marathon (paraphrase) that it is the ultimate distance to perceive a humans ability to push himself/herself - it's the limit to which someone can push themselves to race over a given distance. Of course this does not mean that a further distance is not more difficult than the marathon, or even maybe more prestigious and amazing, but rather is simply seeking to make a distinguishable difference between racing and running hard for a long distance. This website looked like it had some good stuff on ultra running:

It may seem like splitting hairs to ask such questions but this is what runners do when they have nothing else to do. It's sort of like asking the question if there is a difference between a person that finishes any marathon and a person who finishes the Boston marathon. Both have done a great thing that should be respected and congratulations are in order. Saying nothing less about the first person, is there something more that can be said for the second? In the same way, I can marvel at the guy that runs all the way across the nation and holds the record for doing so, but perhaps in my mind he still has not achieved the sort of status that Ryan Hall or Frank Shorter or Alberto Salazar or Bill Rodgers have in their marathons.

In short, I'd like to end this post with one statement: After running a few marathons I understand Frank Shorter to have said - anything shorter than the marathon leaves the body untested to it's ability - anything farther than the marathon, though challenging for certain, fails to hold up the standard of pushing one's own body at a race pace.

Who knows, maybe comparing first time runners to the Olympian is just too difficult - maybe comparing an ultra runner to a guy racing a marathon might be too much like comparing a triathlete to a runner - they're just different animals altogether. Who knows - just throwing questions out there.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hockey Players Who Run

Some people don't know this about Bryan and me, but we are really hockey players who run from time to time. Of course we do not play nearly as much hockey as we used to and in all fairness have probably run now almost as much as we have played hockey... almost.

Looking back on my running I always find it humorous to note that while I received no major injuries from hockey, I have gained or earned a number from running that not only have waylaid my athletic endeavors but actually on the wrong days threaten normal life. I find it to be funny because my cross-country and track coach in high school used to hate that I played hockey in between the two. She'd say, "You're going to get to hurt playing hockey," and then would add all sorts of other comments to further her case. To this day, and even though tomorrow may prove otherwise, hockey has yet to deal me more than a light contusion at worst. Running on the other hand....

My first major injury from running came while running a regional cross country race. While taking a quick right hand turn down a short steep hill my legs slipped quickly out from under me. To avoid falling I reached out to a nearby tree and corrected my course back up and onto my legs where I preferred to be. Two days later I could barely run without my back hurting - bad. A few pills later I was running in the state meet pain free. Over the next few years my lower back would randomly shoot sudden and painful pains (sometimes most inconveniently in races when I'm looking for excuses to stop), but worst of all would throb almost every night when I went to sleep. Years later I found out that I have a stress fracture in my lower back that can only be healed through surgery, maybe.

Then I found out what an IT band is... and for those of you who know, I'm sorry. It started as a slow ache and turned into something that would tighten my left knee into intense pain after 15 minutes of running. Nothing I could do would help - stretching, massage, chiropractic, ice, compression, swimming, biking, and worst of all... total rest. After nine months of searching through these fruitless endeavors for an answer to my running pain I was finally introduced to an IT band specialist. After he almost vomited at the extreme waste of time my other doctors had prescribed to me, he drew a surgery on a dry erase board for me. And so at just under a full year off during my freshman year of college, I began running again in June - 8 short minutes, winded and unable to believe I'd ever run more than a mile or so again.

Then came the wonderful side effects of surgery and the side effects not knowing about proper footwear and diagnosis - injury after injury strewn throughout attempts to get my collegiate career to a near respectable level. Hip flexors, achilles tendons, fatty pads swollen from scar tissue of a scope, the other IT band, more scar tissue, foot pain, more of that lower back stuff, and other things I'm sure I've tried to block out. I spent almost as much time in our cold whirl pool as I did studying for most of my classes, or with ice wrapped around various parts of my body as I hobbled to the cafeteria - "is it halloween?" I'm sure it looked like it.

Ya looking back hockey doesn't seem to have been the dangerous sport for me. I'm sure someone else's story may be different, but at this point I think that there is one conclusion any of us runners have come to at some point: while running can bring great or periodical joys and it is of immense personal benefit to our health, it also brings with it pain that compares to little else in life I've done.

I'm sure that plenty of football players are limping around with injuries that have become lifelong who would argue that their sport too offers such a note, and I'm sure they have a lot to say on the matter. All I know is this - running, the supposed safe sport, has helped me to experience and endure more pain than any other athletic activity I have pursued (baseball, diving, swimming, hockey, soccer). Perhaps the manner in which running has been pursued can be seen as why she has been such a terrible lover, at least at times. But in the same breathe, let me add that when I come to call on my other lover (besides my wife) the less I give of myself the more it hurts every time. If I had enough energy and barring injury, every run would be quick paced because it is there where the most joy is to be had. Slowing too much, even a little bit, and suddenly my whole run turns into a morbidly painful shadow of what it would have been.

Bryan talks about running to keep the demons away... I think for now I'm going to talk about it as "keeping her happy." When she's not happy she seems only content to cause me immense pain (again, running, and not my wife). Look to new posts on - Running, My Lover

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Running Tradition

BaddRunners: Bryan (#387, youngest son), Mel (#1, Father), Brett (#389, middle son.)
Growing up our parents were extremely supportive of any sports that my brothers and I wanted to pursue. They drove us all over the country for travel soccer games, ice hockey tournaments, baseball games, wrestling meets, cross country races and track meets. There was never any game too far or practice too early for them to drive us. During all of these athletic events, however, their fitness deteriorated.

It wasn't until about a year and half ago that my mom and dad made a conscious effort to get healthy. Since that time my parents have opened up their own workout business, eaten better and lost a lot of weight (over 70lbs in my fater's case.) They have also gotten into running. My father has been running pretty consistently for about a year and has been improving 15 seconds or so every race. His 5k personal best is about 22:15 or so. Not too shaby for someone in his late 50s that hadn't run since he was in the service in 1974!

In the case of our family the "running tradition" has gone in reverse, starting with the youngsters and spreading to the parents. We are extremely proud of the way our parents have revolutionized their lives. They have shown me that you can always challenge yourself in new ways. It is never too late to change your life for the better.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Running, Not Running, Running

The summer is always difficult for me (Brett) to get in plenty of running because my job randomly takes me out of town with anywhere from 12-109 of my closest high school friends. Being a student minister has a lot of advantages and I enjoy the mess out of it, but trying to run when you are responsible for other people's children can be difficult to say the least (you cannot really just leave them by themselves and hope for the best - it's pretty much the opposite). So the only real option lies when they are still lying in bed asleep and of course on trips like these wake up time is usually pretty early - so it's rise before everyone else and get a run in or catch up on sleep so you can still drive the van without getting anyone killed.

It's a sticky situation and I usually compromise with one or two early morning runs. The funny part is that I usually notice two things when I manage to get one of these rare runs into the schedule: 1. Running is one of the best ways to see new places. 2. Running is one of the best ways to see new places.

Though these reasons seem the same, they are actually different. The first simply means what it says in that there is no better way to become acquainted with a new town then in going out for a run through it. Sometimes you get lost but you most definitely see a different version of it then when you drive through - I promise, it will change your life and your trip if you run through new places on vacation (you never know what experience you will have). The second reason is like the first but it means this - if I do not get a run in (especially over a few days) the way in which I see the new locale is going to vary much differently than if I get in some running. A light early morning run actually helps my mind and body to be much more focused throughout the day and I enjoy myself so much more than when I opt for another 30 minutes of sleep. Bryan calls this phenomenon his running demons, but for me it's just simple biology - my body feels sluggish if I miss my run, while on the contrary my body can last longer and feels ready to do more. (the above picture is from our New Orleans Katrina clean up trip this summer)

I know these things to be true and yet I still choose to sleep in on these trips under some false pretense that I will have more energy if I sleep. I fall victim to long bus rides or excuses that seem noble (like protecting children), but in all honesty I will most likely do better as a person (and therefore protect kids better) if I get an early morning run in before the day starts. Strange but true. How much of our life is this way? How often do we allow ourselves to be convinced, for whatever reason, to give up what our lives could be for something less? When will we wake up and start getting our runs in so we can really get our lives in? Anybody?

Maybe I just need a better alarm clock!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Back On The Horse

Last November was probably the last time that I competed in a 5K. It's funny how it seems so foreign to me now. How quickly the body and mind forget. Anyway tomorrow I will finally toe the line again at the Hope 5k, a race here in Memphis that my mom puts on. The strange thing is that I really have no idea what kind of shape I am in for that distance. That is just one of the things that I love about running though. You never really know what to expect until you race a few times. That's just another reason why I don't like to race too can be depressing to know you are out of shape even if it is true.

Meow I don't think that I am in bad shape, it's just that I don't think I'm in top shape. Sometimes I surprise myself though with these debut races. In fact in college one my nicknames was the Debut Kidd. Besides what are races really? They are supposed to be evaluations to see where you are and what you need to work on. That is why it is kind of important to decide which races you are trying to focus on. This race tomorrow is not one that I am really trying to kill so I have low expectations for myself. Strangely enough, sometimes those are the moments when people run their best.

Racing is always good for one's training though because it keeps you accountable. It can encourage you or humble you. It can sometimes be the kick in the pants you need to up your game. If you never race, there is really never a pressing need to get fitter. So get back on the horse like I am and see what your made of. Even though the truth can be ugly, at least you'll know where you are and where you need to go.

Start of the Hope 5k last year.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Stories from Past Runs: Falls

So I've known some runners who fall more than others, some who fall quite often, and others who seem to never fall at all. I "fall" into the category of runners who fall about once a year. The particularly funny part about this is that I seem to have an internal gauge that starts alerting me around the eight month mark. A blinking red light will begin to flash in my mind that allows me the grace of knowing that a fall will be visiting me soon, or at least in the next few months.

The last fall I can remember was during the winter. Running in my fancy CWX tights (extra stability - you actually have to sit down to put them on b/c they are so tight) I went out for a nice eight miler with my brother Bryan. While pivoting to run around a corner my foot hit slippery mud and went flying out from underneath me. Wham - knee to pavement hard and then a roll.

While training for college I used to really enjoy running the Wolf River trail from Germantown Road to the bridge at Walnut Grove Road and back. I was doing almost all of my running on my own at the time and used to really move on that trail (the trail was always much nicer then which I attribute to my daily use). Great trail to get you totally in shade for eight miles, and it's nice because you have to pay attention to the roots, small jumps, quick turns, and logs! One wonderful run on that trail I was blazing along (it seemed fast to me but who knows) and had just reached a small portion of the run I always thought of as "safe." As I started speeding up on this nicely flat and smooth portion of the trail when I caught what had to have been the only small root on the trail for at least 100 meters. Usually I can roll pretty well and hop back up... I went flying straight out on my belley and slid for about six feet or so. All by myself I got up and looked around, brushed myself off, looked for blood, checked for injuries, and ran off in my embarrased stride.

The best I can remember: A leisurely stroll with my brother, a friend, and my wife on a bike (fiancee at the time). While moving up the sidewalk in Germantown Sarah was attempting to ride next to me so that we could talk. This proved to be a bad idea. It would have worked fine if not for the telephone poles that some jerk decided to place in the middle of the sidewalk. No I didn't hit a pole, but while looking over my shoulder to talk to Sarah while she held back to go around the pole is when I found some bricks. Have you ever seen those brick walls they have built all over Germantown neighborhoods that for some reason start off gradually at a foot high and work up to eight feet high? Well my foot somehow caught on this foot high wall and sent me flying into a tumultous tumble. Suddenly I was sitting down facing the road quite confused. I still have a scar on my back from where I skipped off the bricks.

Falls - only one thing happens every time - I have to get back up! Keep getting up folks.

Comment and tell me about your falls too! And look forward for more stories of more falls!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Up, Up and Away....

So I have done a better job of getting my training sessions in...that is good news. Now it is time to decide when to get technical with my workouts. Since Boston I have really only done LSD (not the drug, the long slow distance.) There have been a few random tempos but nothing planned and no intervals. Every week I have been trying to slowly increase the amount of time that our runs last. That seems easier to me starting back than shooting for mileage. Meow we are up to running at least 50 minutes almost every session. So now the question is where do we go from here?

Today I ran with two other know who you are...and we tossed in 4 x 200 meters after out run. I was just hoping to hit about 35 seconds for the distance. It always seems harder than you remember it when you start adding speed to your regiment. I thought I could cruise a 35 for a 200 no problem? But I'm sure everyone feels that way. So from here I'll most likely start making Tuesdays my track days and slowly start dialing up the intensity. If I can average an hour run a day, track workout on Tuesday, Tempo on Thursdays and a long run on Saturdays for a few weeks, then maybe I'll get in respectable 5k shape? I guess we'll see.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Sweat Out The Weakness...

I've run for huge high school teams, small college squads and no team but my own. I've trained with my rivals, best friends and family. I always laughed at people who would miss a training day for no real reason at all. And yet suddenly I have become that guy who only runs when conditions are right. I'm not even talking about just the weather. I have to feel like running and have a group to meet up with. Several times recently I've found myself without a running buddy on a morning run and actually stayed in bed instead of hit the roads. What has happened to me? Did I get spoiled having a consistent group to train with during our recent marathon training? Has the 26.2 simply zapped my desire to get out there? Whatever the reason....or do we call them excuses....I've found myself in state of weakness.

The good news in all of this is that I've identified my weakness much as an alcoholic admits to his addiction. Apparently I'm addicted to comfort and idleness. Well I've decided to change. No longer will the weather influence my distance. I'll charge out in the rain and be washed clean of my laziness. I will sweat the weakness from my pours in the 100 degree heat. I call running the pain train for a reason. It's time to hop aboard and let out some steam. And I'm not referring to racing can't race mean until you train mean. Pain has to be practiced.

So all aboard....choo choo...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Longest Run

So when I literally ran into my first major injury of my running career I had to deal with a serious question: "What if I don't ever run again?" This question was difficult, unexpected, ill-timed, and above all one that I had no answer for in any way, shape, or form....

In 1999 as I entered my freshman year of college as a D-1 runner for the first time in my life, I started experiencing excruciating pain in my knee after 8-10 minutes of running. I successfully finished the first 5 mile run with the team and the next day hobbled in with an injury that would persist for the next 9 months, only to be relieved with surgery. Water running, stationary biking, massage therapy, stretching, chiropractics, total rest, rolling pins, tears, more water running, more massage, more stretching, more of anything you can think... were all of my attempts to solve the problem. Nothing. Surgery awaited me in the Spring.

A major part of this story is my becoming a Christian in December that same year. I say this because I do not think that personally I would have found an acceptable answer to my question had it not been for some major changes in my perspectives on things. After a life changing commitment to Christ my perspective on running began to shift. What had once been the center - the everything, was now just a gift that had been given to me to use. What if it never came back?

I remember vividly sitting with a Christian teammate and telling her that I was "Ok" with the fact that running might not be a part of my life anymore. After she yelled at me for a few minutes I explained to her that running had been too much in my life. It doesn't take a life altering spiritual event for most of us to realize that running, or some other hobby, has taken more of a prominent role in our lives than is appropriate. It might take that much to make you let go of it, but not for the understanding.

Running is great - I love to run. There are few things I love but the things I love I really really love. I'm grateful that I am able to once again run somewhat pain free, but I know that every day brings me closer to my last run. Will it mean the end of me? No - just a transition into a new me - and who knows, I might enjoy it more. For me the longest and most memorable run was the time I spent in between runs from August to June so long ago. When I finished that run I was never to be the same, in some ways that are still not clear. My running, when it came back, was forever changed, as I too will never be the same. When your last run comes, will it mean the end of you, or just the end of your running?

Friday, May 8, 2009

A Thousand Bostonians

Brett posting today:

It's interesting that the Boston marathon, and other races like it, set apart a certain group of runners from the rest. You have to qualify by time to run the race and therefore feel a special status has been granted based on your merit. In qualifying you have joined a special club of runners that not everyone can join. Not that you are an elitist or exclusive by nature, but maybe it feels good to know that you have accomplished something you can be proud of that not everyone and their brother can do.

The amazing part to me that I realized as I prepared, ran, and then discussed the Boston afterward is that the size of the special group you have joined is enormous! Not only that, there are many folks who have run the Boston marathon numerous times (6-9 times seems to be what I've heard from a few guys)! Man, talk about putting things into perspective. Don't get me wrong - I feel special, I really do. However, it is sobering as a runner to realize just how many talented runners there are out there running mile after mile. I was amazed most by the high number of Memphis runners who ran Boston just this year. I can think of around twenty people right now that ran, and some of those folks I just heard about the last few days so I am sure I'm missing a few.

I guess the point of this post is that it's pretty funny when runners try to get all cocky. Some runners have done amazing things but in the end we are all out there running miles. Recently I have found more inspiration in watching the difficult lifestyle changes that newcomers to running are making. The runner who has inspired me most recently is actually my father. With the opening of his new business, 50 and Fit, my father also started a new life not only in the fitness world as an owner, but he joined the running world too. He has not broken any world records, at least of which I'm aware, but he has lost 70 plus pounds and has changed his life style habits completely. Call him up and ask him about it - it's a great story! (I wanted to post some pics of him running - I'll try to find some and get them on here)

We all run, miles are miles - let's enjoy it. We can keep it competitive but fun at the same time. Let's all relax and "pound the pavement" (in the words of Bryan).

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Not Running Can Be Your Best Training Tool

All the time people come into the store and talk about how their running has plateaued and they just feel flat and tired. We talk through their training and I quickly realize that these people have been running for years at a time with no real break from their training. Most coaches and experts would agree that our bodies need rest between training cycles. I'm all for pushing the body's limits and running through pain, but breaks are essential for getting your body fresh so you can rebuild for the next racing season.

I plan about 4 weeks off from running each year whether I need it or not. I take 2 weeks off between training cycles and try to get about 2 cycles in on a calendar year. Then when I do start back I build up gradually, never increasing my intensity and my volume the same week. Sometimes if you take a step back like that you can step up when the time comes. It's just smart training and it keeps you fresh mentally because you're not always pushing for that PR. You have several months of easy running as you're getting back into the cycle. That's where I am right meow....fresh off the break and building up slowly.

Of course every runner is different and there are as many training regiments out there as there are to each their own...I'm just tellin you what has been working for this BaddRunner.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

I had to....

So we were scouring the internet for any do-gooders that took pictures of the mustache brothers in Boston - we found none... but I did find this, which came up due to Will's awesome mustache from the Boston marathon he ran while filming anchor man. Seriously though this is a pretty interesting blog with some research done on some famous folks and their marathon performances (times and all)!

Click here

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Safe Side of the Explosion.

As you have already read from Brett's previous post, the marathon is not always your friend. This is probably more true for the Boston Marathon. There are a lot more hoops to jump through at Boston and therefore more variables to try to control. A lot of these were mentioned in Brett's post. Everything from getting in lines to be shuttled to the start, to jockeying for your proper position within your corral. There is a lot going on and everyone there thinks they deserve your spot in line. Not that people weren't nice, they were very supportive, but it is just that everyone at Boston has long since solidified their pre-race routine and tries hard to stick to it.

Under the circumstances I think my brother and got pretty close to doing everything right, especially for our first time at the big dance. Even getting most of it right didn't save Brett from a rough ride. This further proves my theory about the the end it comes down to luck. You can do everything right...all the training, nutrition, sleep, etc...and in the end it is still just luck. Your body has to work with you that day. Other factors like weather can also torpedo your whole race.

Lucky for me Monday was a day that my body decided to behave itself, at least for the most part. I never felt as good as what I hoped I would at certain points in the race, but the discomfort was very manageable. My legs just seemed to latch on to 6:05 pace and hold on. In the end my time was not what I know it could be, but it was a very good showing. One advantage to getting stuck in the back of our corral was that I never ran out of people to gobble up. I seriously only recall one or two people that passed me the whole race. That means I gobbled up well over 1,000 people during my 26.2 mile trek.

Of course the fans were great too. They loved my manly mustache. The girls at Wellesley were begging for a kiss from the mustache, but the BaddRunner shot them down. I did them a favor. There is only one girl that can tame the mustache and that is Mrs. BaddRunner. Pretty much the entire race I felt like I was on TV because that kind of race environment you always picture on the big screen.

The last marathon I had done, my quads locked up at mile 20 and I was toast. So with 16 miles to go at Boston, I felt pretty good, but didn't want to get cocky. And of course the infamous heartbreak hill is about mile 20 or so. It wasn't really until mile 23 or so that I knew I was safe and was probably going to finish. It seemed like every time that I thought it was inevitable, something would creep up. I had a brief blurriness in my vision, a slight cramp, something that would remind me that I had to focus all the way through the finish line. Finally I began to recognize buildings in downtown Boston. After that I got a slight boost of adrenaline since I new the pain would soon be over. Plus the crowds grew even thicker and noise of their cheers seemed to propel me. Then suddenly my Boston was over.

I didn't think that I was in that much pain while I was running, even in those last miles, but once I stopped and walked the aches and cramps started coming. The one huge down side to Boston is that after you finish you have to walk a long way through a series of stations. You have to get your chip taken off, get your finishers medal, get your fluids, get your snacks, get your metallic blanky and finally get your bag that you checked at the start line. All of these stations seem like they are a half mile apart (they aren't really but after you complete a marathon everything seems far.) By the time I got to my bag of clothes the 15 mph wind hand blown my metallic blanky away and I was cold and staggering. Even then I still didn't lock up as bad as I had at my last marathon. It was just bearable enough that I was able to walk around until I found my wife, or I guess she found me? Then it wasn't long until Brett came by and we all boarded the train to go back to our hotel (technically a bed and breakfast.)

At first I wasn't overly satisfied with my race but the more I thought about it and the more others congratulated me, I began to be quite content. My goal was to turn in a faster time and higher place, but I guess sometimes you've got to accept the smooth ride and good fortune. So I'll take what Boston gave me this time, but Boston better not be surprised if I take more when, or if, I come calling again.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Wrong Side of the Explosion

So I went to Boston for the overall experience. I really wanted to see the city, visit the sites, run the marathon, see the spectators... you know, really soak it in and not miss anything. And the city was great, I enjoyed the many different historical sites we were able to visit, I ran the marathon, was cheered on by many spectators... but perhaps I soaked in too much of the marathon itself. This post is an update on the marathon according to Brett (I'm sure Bryan will post his own update as well). The picture to the right is us trying to make it down the subway stairs after the race.
I've never seen so many people all gathered for the same amazing event before going to Boston. The whole process is really something and the people that put it on do a great job. Carting 25,000 runners from one place to the next and keeping them happy on race day is not the job I want, but they do it as well as probably it can be done. Bryan and I made it through the transportation and waiting fine - it was hard getting up at 5 am and waiting for hours outside before the race, but we made it.

We started near the back of our corral which kind of pissed me off a little bit especially considering that we went over when we were supposed to go - apparently others get there early (there's a sidenote for next time). But no big deal, just meant we had to start off a little easier and work our way through the countless jerks that somehow have managed to get themselves where they do not belong. I mean seriously it was ludicrous the number of people we had to run past at our given race pace that we qualified with until I was near people running the same pace. However we managed this part fine and were running just dandy.

And that's when my race explosion happened (explosion)! Around mile 9 I realized I was not going to make it without a bathroom stop, or as Bryan calls them, a bowel movement. Damn! I told Bryan to go on and I stopped. Talk about trying to keep your mind focused when you feel the clock raging in your mind - tick, tick, tick, tick, tick... DAMN! But I get moving again and with every ounce of my energy I try to stay on the same pace and not move too fast - still a long way to go.

But the explosion had happened and I was on the wrong side of it. From that moment on my stomach played games with me. Cramp after cramp came and went slowly building in my side and then fading away. My right arm pit start chaffing even though I had administered ample supply of body glide to all the right areas. My left pinky toe was obviously unhappy and I wondered if it was bleeding. And my neck of all things grew tight and I felt like it was locking up... and yet I was only to mile 14 or so... what the heck. I had done plenty of runs longer than this with no problem yet here I am and everything is falling apart. I thought to myself, "You've got to be joking." No, the joke had barely begun.

At mile 16 I stopped again - bathroom break number two and equally as necessary as the first one. Now it was hard to keep my mind even believing a good time was possible. I saw my mile splits slowing, my body kept inexplicably breaking down around me, and I couldn't even keep my insides still! I just kept telling myself - enjoy it, take it all in, absorb the fans and their calls, see the sights... but the pain was blinding me.... oh, and the cramp had come back but this time when I got to mile 20 it was unbearable. Now the joke was really starting to piss me off, I mean, come on! I had to stop again to walk the cramp off because I literally could not run through it - not unless I was going to count 8 minute pace as running. I walked, downed a cup of gatorade (oh, by the way I had been taking in fluids regulary), stretched my arms to the sky, and then after a minute or so started running again.

Not perfect but better. Just after this at mile 21 I saw Sarah - what a perfectly terrible moment to see her - did she see me walking? But at the same time her voice came to me, something she said before we left, "You are going to get that finisher's medal. I don't care if you have to crawl across the line pulling yourself with your elbows." It sounds harsh but it's actually what a marathoner needs to hear. I kept going even though it was barely a run. I did not even mind the chilly headwind that came at me the whole race, not compared to the pain.

Mile 23 t0 mile 24 - definitely the worst. Now the pain in my forefoot on both feet was getting so bad I was contemplating walking again. But at some point a fellow Memphis runner Scott Newberry came up from behind me. He was hurting pretty bad too and we tried to encourage one another by momentarily telling the other how bad we hurt. He passed me and I lingered behind him a few moments and then slowly realized something that I would not have if he had not got my mind working again. Two miles to go - I can run two miles. I CAN RUN TWO MILES! I started picking the pace back up, mostly because I knew if I ran faster the pain would end sooner.

Two miles never hurt so bad but never felt so great at the same time. Finally I knew I would finish and when I saw the time on the 24 mile mark I realized I could somehow still salvage a sub 3 hour performance. The math was not working too well but I new if I ran two 7 minute miles I would be just under 3 hours. I pressed on hard - well, as hard as I could. I'm sure it looked funny.

People yelled, "Go mustache," or "Hey, it's Pre" or "That's what I'm talking about - ya Mustache," and it all helped. But never have I done something, that I can remember, that was so much harder than it was supposed to be. The marathon reared it's ugly head at me and decided that on that day I was going to have to give more than usual just to finish. It was agony, it was terrible, it was surreal, it was unfair, it was challenging - I guess it was just a marathon.

But I got my finisher's medal, my wife shared my joy, I stumbled with my brother back to the hotel, and I had run the Boston Marathon. 2:53.33 - Boston took it to me... who knows if I will have enough courage to ever try and take it to Boston, but we will see.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Follow The BaddRunners During Boston!

The Boston Marathon is scheduled to start at 10 am/ 9am central time. On race day you can go to the event's website and search the last name "Baddorf" and you can track our progress throughout the marathon. There will be four checkpoints, every 10k.

The website is They claim that if will be very self-explanatory on race day how to search for a participant. So check us out on the web and see if The Baddrunners are worth their name.

Bryan's bib number is 1521 and Brett's is 1460 just in case you need those for any reason. They cap the race at 25,000 runners and we are in the first wave of runners that starts at 10 (Boston time), while the next wave starts at 10:30.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Tick, Tick, Tick.......Boom!

Down time before a big race is enough to drive you mad. I find it strange that running is a great stress reliever for me and because of the taper for Boston I am doing less of it, but stressing more because of the upcoming event! It just doesn't seem fair. I always joke with Brett saying that "ten miles a day keeps the demons away!" Meaning my demons of course. I'm not really that screwed up, but you know what I mean.

So now it's a waiting game. I just keep sitting around wondering if my various little pains are getting better? Hoping that I'm not coming down with something. Watching weather updates in Boston. I like a quote from The Untouchables when Sean Connery says "Don't wait for it to happen...don't even want it to happen. Just see and react to what does happen." I also like the Fog of War idea where no matter how good your plans are, they're going to go to hell once the battle starts. Eventually you've got to put things in God's hands and just do what you do.

I'm probably making me sound like more of a head case than I really am. I've always thought that I'm not really that talented of a runner, but I've performed better than others because I'm more stable mentally and don't get rattled in races too easily. In college our team would work with a sports psychologist and he would always talk about finding your optimal arousal level. Which basically refers to your level of mental and physical excitement before or during a race. I've always been good at controlling my emotions. Sometimes I'll make myself nervous if I feel like I don't care about a race, or I'll have to cool myself off if I'm thinking too much about an event. Be sure to use that term in conversation this week. Tell someone you're trying to find your "Optimal arousal level." You might get slapped depending on who you're talking to.

The ticks are running out meow and it's time to see if the explosion goes in my favor or no. I've had this theory that in the end marathons come down to luck. Sometimes you do everything right and still turn in a sub par performance and other races you are barely in shape and just rock out. I know that my brother and I are as prepared as we can be considering some minor injuries and what not. Now we're just waiting for the Boom!

(Picture above is from the 2007 Memphis Marathon where the explosion went against me.)
Bryan Baddorf

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Tapering - convincing the body of the truth...

The Taper....

So we ran 11 miles, or just under, today for our long run of the week - a good 7 miles less than our average long run for the past three months - a good 12 miles less than our two longest runs of the training year.

It's always funny to me when I taper. It's as though I expect for everything in my body to say, "Yes! I feel amazing - how can running get any better." And although that is of course how I'm going to feel in a week and a few days as I run the Boston marathon, today I feel as I usually do when I intentionally taper... kind of crappy.

I've come to the conclusion that one of the worst things that has ever happened to me in running is when my mind tries to anticipate how I'm going to feel in races - especially when I think I should feel good. Sometimes when I feel terrible I go out and run the race of my life. Just when my body says, "Don't even run today you fool, it's not worth it," is when everything falls into place. Sometimes I feel terrible and run like it.

In short, the lesson I'm trying to teach myself is that no matter how I feel or think I feel, the race itself is the only true indicator of my ability on that day. Positive self-talk seems to be the key to my problem. Positive self-talk - not tell myself I'm the king of the world and I'm always feel good bull crap you might be thinking of right now. No, positive self-talk simply acknowledges that negative self-talk is going on and addresses it in a positive manner. For instance, "Oh crap, it's raining and I always run bad in the rain." Instead of replying something foolish like, "Sweet rain," you can say something intelligent like "maybe I've run bad in the rain previously but today is a new story" (or a variation of that).

More posts are necessary on this topic but for now all I wish to say is this - while listening to your body can be bad (referencing Bryan's earlier post - click here), listening in to the self-talk going on inside your mind is always a good idea because you HAVE to respond to it. I'll end this post with an example from the run this morning.

"This 11 mile run should feel much easier... are you sure you are ready for Boston," is what my mind said. Instead of ignoring this thought I said verbally out loud to the group, "well my bodies at it again thinking that just because I'm tapering everything's going to feel awesome." And then to myself in my mind I added, "My body is just storing up energy for the long Boston race ahead," or in the words of my friend Butze, watch out Boston because "I'm going long, hard, and I'm hear to get the friction on!"

Monday, April 6, 2009

Boston Just Around the Mile

I hope that miles are packed full of vitamin B and all of the other nutrients that one needs to live. As my training for the Boston marathon unfolds, I guess I could say that I’ve eaten more miles for breakfast these past few months than I have in a long time.

Today is April 6, 2009 and all I can think about right now is the Boston marathon. What a joy it is to step into such an historical tradition that this particular marathon offers. Finishing a marathon in general corrals a person into a special group of harriers that is esteemed and respected. After all the distance itself killed its first ever participant. I wonder how that conversation came up when folks decided to start the marathon distance again. “Sounds like fun. Sure it will be hard but in the end you will have accomplished something.” What would Pheidippides’ tell us on the matter? But there seems to be something even more special about the Boston marathon.

My mind remembers a comical yet dramatic running movie I watched called “Saint Ralph” that every runner should see (if you are not a runner you will miss some of the laughs). The movie follows a fourteen year olds attempt to train for and win the Boston marathon, who thinks that by winning will perform a miracle which in turn will heal his mother’s terminal illness. Ralph’s blind and seemingly misplaced faith that his performance will heal his mother gives him a single-minded focus on running the Boston marathon to win it. You will have to see the movie to find out what happens!

As I finish my own Boston training, I bring up this movie because of one simple fact. For this single race I have decided to train through and run through more pain that I ever have in my life. The pain I have felt in different places, and the amount of time that pain has lingered throughout my training, would have stopped me dead at earlier points in my career for fear of permanent injury. So what is it about Boston that holds my running entranced?

What is it about Boston that has even caused me to change my shoes from stability to neutral (which is big deal for me and makes me feel like I’m going crazy)? What is it about Boston that causes my running partner to train through what sounds like a stress fracture? What is it about Boston that compelled me to tell my wife months ago, “This is just something that I have to do darling,” when she reminded me that we could not really afford

the trip? And what is it about Boston that enabled her, through her disbelief at my stupidity, to finally say, “Ok. I’m going too.”

The more I prepare for this race the more mythical it feels. It is just another race after all, but somehow as it approaches it feels like I am embarking on a pilgrimage for authentic runner-hood that can only be found in a handful of places around the world. I suppose you could say that as a runner I feel like I’m getting ready to go home. Oh ya, and to follow up with Bryan's tradition, I hope I can control my bowel movements to a zero during the actual 26.2 miles at Boston!

And Ryan Hall is going to be there! Along with Kara Goucher and hopefully Bill Rodgers!

By Brett Baddorf

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Over The Hump or Over The Hill....

Well, it appears that our marathon training has finally turned the corner....the finish line is in sight. We've completed our final long run...or at least or last 20 plus mile run. With 20 days to go until Boston, now we are just concerned with maintaining fitness and getting fresh. If you ask me it's about time as well.

Our training has been good on paper, but it's been hard on the body. I'm only 26 but I can feel my body's regenerative capabilities slipping fast. I used to could do a hard effort and turn around the next morning and bust out a nice long run. Now I feel like I need 24 hours of recovery before I can do a run of any quality. So I am hoping that with the gradual taper that we've got coming up I'll begin to feel a bit refreshed. Overall I'm excited about the shape we're in but it seems like my body has gone in waves between nagging pains and smooth miles. I'm hoping that it's smooth miles from here on out.

Tapering has always been a sticky issue to me. In college I always felt like we tapered too much and my legs just felt confused and lazy. I think it is definitely different for each runner. One of my favorite coaches used to leave our workout schedules blank for the 24 hours preceding a race effort. When asked why he replied that we have to know our own bodies and learn what is the best way to get them primed for the big event. I like that approach. Some runners don't run the day before a race and some do. I like to do at least an easy 5 mile run to loosen the legs. You have to always put yourself in position to succeed in a race. That is the best strategy even after the race has started. Just keep yourself within range of success and sometimes you surprise yourself and pop a good one.

Since Saturday's 22 mile run I've been going through the check list trying to pick out which clothes I'm going to run in, how many energy gels, how much fluids, how many bowel movements I need to get out before I toe the line, etc. You've got to think of as many scenarios that might come up as possible. Nothing makes me more angry when I see a veteran runner make a stupid mistake that could have been avoided. It seems like every post I manage to work in my bowel movements. I apologize.

You get the idea....the finish line's in site and it's time to get everything in order. I always laugh inside when someone asks me if "I'm ready for the race." I try to answer honestly which is "not yet." Of course they act shocked and inquire why not. I explain that there is still a lot to do before race day. I have to hydrate, carb load, lube up, pack my bags, get my legs fresh, etc. I know I seem neurotic, but it's just the preparation mentality that I always go through before a big race. You can't skip ahead in the process....just gotta go through the check list.

I guess I'll see how the taper treats me and hope that I've drilled 6 minute miles into my legs enough for the long haul.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Listening To Your Body Is a Waste of Time...

People are always saying "listen to your body"....I'm just wondering when my body is going to listen to me. It seems unreasonable for me to always listen to its demands and for it to never fall in line with my wishes. For instance I would like to have just one week that I can run and not feel some kind of nagging pain or injury. That wish has gone unfulfilled since I began running thirteen years ago.

One quote that I always think about when my body starts complaining to me goes something like this: "Listen to my body! If I listened to my body I would be on the couch eating bon bons." How true. In fact most of the population listens to their bodies a little too well I think. Besides I think fighting against my body's wishes is the single thing that I love most about running. It separates the quick from the ordinary. Even when you are feeling healthy your body tries to get you to ease up during a tough effort. The mind control that it takes to push your body beyond that comfort zone is what turns an okay time into a new personal best.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that in the end....your body is not your friend. In fact it might be the biggest enemy of your running. Therefore you must treat it as such. You have to mislead it the best you can by giving it what it needs to operate but then trick it into giving you back much more. It won't give you control'll have to work at it. Another favorite quote of mine that I heard at my store's running camp a few years ago says, "pain has to be practised." That is probably the best training advice that I've ever heard.

Forgive my sinister view of a runner's body, but I haven't been getting along with mine this training season. I've had two pretty bad foot pains that have come, gone, come and kind of gone. It's hard to hit 20 mile plus runs when you can barely walk. I tend to run through more injuries than your average person and usually it turns out okay. I have never had any stress fractures that I know of and no major surgeries.

Obviously I am exagerating a little to get my point across. I still miss the occasional training session. I still stretch, ice and get massages and what not. So you still need to "listen to your body" I guess. I just think most runners are tuned in too much to the whims of the flesh. We should consider our bodies' opinions, but in the end make the choice for ourselves. We also always need to keep in mind....our body can be our worst enemy.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Runs on the Runs!!!

The past four months or so I have been training exclusively for the Boston Marathon with this group pictured above. Not all of them are running the Boston, some will be doing the Nashville Marathon that takes place the following week. We're all in pretty solid shape and should see a bunch of us go at least 2 hours and 50 minutes or so. My bother and I have high hopes of a low, possibly even sub 2:30. Only time will tell.

We've already knocked out some solid long runs ranging from 17-23 miles with some tempo pace worked in there. This morning, however was a different story. We did a 18 miler and felt like crap....literally. I think I stopped at least 4 times to relieve myself during the run. Of course all serious runners have encountered this problem, but it still doesn't mean it's enjoyable. I don't so much mind doing my business in public, but it really throws your pace off when you have to squat in the bushes. I guess it's better now than at Boston.

Sorry for the crude topic of this post, but hey....that's the reality of the runs!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Starting Gun!

Every runner knows the gut-wrenching feeling you get right before the gun goes off during a race. I sort of feel that right now as I launch my first blog post. Several people I know have encouraged me to "toe the line" in the blog here we go.

Hopefully this blog will be a brutally honest look at the life of a serious, lifestyle runner. I'll do my best to mention everything that I encounter throughout my miles....embarrassing or not. It is also my hope that people will enjoy my posts and maybe even take some inspiration from them.

I guess today's helpful tip for you "fair weather" runners is get goin'. With the weather improving there are no excuses....or at least less excuses. Even my wife, that has a strict no-sweat policy went out for a fitness walk last night. So get out there and get some mileage in...1 mile, 2 miles, 10 miles...doesn't really matter, just get started.

See you out on the roads...