I completed my first week of the Janathon, the challenge to run every day in January.
I ran 75.7 miles total, a PB.
Previously, I think I ran 71 miles one week back in May 2012. The real feat was doing it in such cold weather. I ran my long runs on a collection of open hills and fields used by a local community college to train their cross-country team on. Pennsylvania is nothing but hills, big rolling three hundred to five hundred foot hills. The cross-country course is perfect for long runs because it’s a little bit flatter on average than the surrounding countryside, and I don’t mean that in the scenic sense. This is rural Pennsylvania. I can describe a morning here as bearded with hoarfrost, with an idle layer of wood smoke that sort of drapes over the hollows, neither rising nor falling, bur caught like something in the specimen glass of a microscope, and the sounds of gun shots, a far away rabble of dogs and the rattle of a tractor is what I might hear. I rated a one “Run, Forrest, Run” shout, which is good. I might get two of those a year. I choose to consider it as a good omen.
Being an unashamed distance runner, I of course have a practiced Forrest Gump impression. I use it when people seemingly take offense to my running. Some people are disturbed by it, as though I’m doing something bad to the earth or society. “Why do you do that. I wouldn’t do that. Are you nuts? You must want to die.” That’s a pretty good collection of remarks I’ll get from people, disdainful remarks upon what they see as an activity possibly no less offensive than defecating on babies or burning church relics, but they don’t give me the Forrest shout up close and personal, but I know they’re thinking it, so I give them my best Forrest. I point at my legs and say in my best Gump, “Thunder thighs. Time. To Bring. The Rain.” And they laugh. I have to be able to laugh at myself. I don’t really understand why I’m so driven to run. People always shout ‘Run Forrest, Ruuuun’ from a distance. Why?
I can assure you that just writing about it makes me want to change clothes and go out and give the road fifteen miles of good lovin’. Wanna go down memory lane and discover the origins of my running mania? I really would just like to stick to the runs.
- January 1st: I ran 13.15 miles along snowy roads through the hills of rural SW Pennsylvania.I intended to only run 9 but i got lost and kept running to stay warm. Eventually I got back on track. 34F, no wind, purty day. Overall I was satisfied with the run. The snow was really slushy on the sides of the road and my feet pretty much got wet immediately. I kept up my pace to stay warm. I was actually plastered with sweat by the time I got home. Had more in the tank so I shovelled snow from around the cars, the sidewalk, and then did a somersault onto my back in 7 inches of powder in the backyard before going inside to shower off. my legs were muddy from the road sludge. Party. I took pictures. I’m not showing them. Jesus. www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/162560356
- January 2nd:This was another example of a short run that grew legs. I drove to a local community college that has a nice 2.23 mile loop on grassy hills, currently buried under snow. How much? Much more than I expected. It took me Nearly 16 minutes to run the first 1.25 mile, so I decided to hit the closest road and see where it went. I followed it through some small townships and villages to Coal Center, PA and the Mon river, where I took a foolish run down the iced dock and around an old railroad pylon which rises like some weird 30 foot Roman ruin from the river, the remnant of an old railroad or road, who knows. It had sawed off tree stumps growing out of limestone boulders as big as car tires.Then I ran back, wishing I’d brought a water bottle. Ran in a cotton sweater thrown over wicking gear to simulate prolonged river soaking. The temp was 17F/-8C when I started my run, and the temp rose by 2F/1C. I ended with a light frosting on my beard after finishing the slog on the cross-country track where I’d left off. Very cold with the cotton sweater on, but again, a sustained tempo of 110 bpm exercise was sufficient to keep my body warm. Occasionally my beard froze and pulled my lips one way or another, but I rubbed the ice off and kept going Beautiful day. Never ran in snow so fine and soft, like talcum powder. Janathon Day 2 complete. Up to 23.51 miles. http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/162763018
- January 3: No time today, had to dash out for a quick run this morning. I made a big mistake – some things are not meant to freeze. I ran in cotton boxers, a cotton shirt and parka. Needless to say, I started pouring sweat. It froze, and my beard froze solid to my face. It was 13F and I was wearing shorts. Some things…are not meant to freeze. I cut short the run because I was concerned about my personal investment.What aggravated the problems was that I accidentally turned the heat off in my house yesterday while dusting the thermostat. When I awoke, the temperature in the house was 49F. I was half-frozen already when I headed outside to run. I scored a “Run, Forrest, ruuun!” (RFR) from a kid waiting on his bus at 1.5 miles. On my return run up the other end of his block he shouted something else at me but I couldn’t make it out. I average only one or two RFRs per year, so I was pleased, it being in the first week of 2013. I might get a RFR PB this year. Tomorrow it will get up to maybe 40F, so that’s good. I’m up early! http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/162958232
- January 4: Very icy today. Good run, but the iciness had me tense, especially crossing the old Brownsville Bridge. The sidewalk was buried under a shiny, rolling hide of thick ice. Just ice and steel, not the best place to fall anywhere, so I goose-stepped it across the river. There were places in the bowels of downtown (downtown is two blocks long), which is a long ways if…you live on a shrimp eyebrow. Nevertheless, I took it easy. I had me some heavy legs today. Going to turn in early for a 25 to 30 mile run tomorrow starting at 2:30am. Monstrous. It’ll be in the teens…mercy. I either run on the icy fields, or on the roads when the deer are jumping. No good choices. http://www.mapmyrun.com/routes/view/163233086
- January 5: Ran in heavy snow with ice buried under it, and a shell of hard ice 1 inch thick on top. Miserably hard. It was a foot deep in places. I felt like I gave a show.Ran on snowy hills and fields. Got tan. The sun was out. Beautiful day.
January 6: Nice jog this morning, 37F, wished I had time to put in ten more miles. Started to loosen up and feel good around mile 6. The run yesterday was high aerobic because of the deep snow and ice, but low impact for same reason. So, today, I felt really knit together well. I can’t describe it other than a feeling of total-body movement, very efficient and consistently smooth. Polished, refined, like a jewel. I am an emerald in stank shoes. I am a polished old man. Shiny like a thin dime. I was running 6:45 miles on the flats, real comfy.
I am necessarily torn between two training models. One is the Janathon and its run-every-day model, and the 100 mile race model, which is do a 50k/43k every weekend, and three short runs in the middle of the week, a 6/15/7 average. A good 100 mile training schedule would include full rest days. Oops! So, I still run every day, and though I don’t have the time to hit all the miles on the weekend to satisfy the century run, I’m also not resting two days out of the week. If anything, I’m using those two extra days to beef up mileage in general. It should cut down on injuries I sustain from poor form, but I have to be wary of the detriment to overall muscle and tissue repair. Pinched nerves are another issue.
Oh well. I have only two more weekends of hardcore runs, then two relatively light weeks before the century.
Morning recovery. Bitter cold, somewhere between 14F and 21F, ice in places quite Tried not to stray too much along any major roads. Did a couple of circuits through local neighborhoods, almost all flat save for a 150 m, 30 degree climb that sapped all the energy from my legs. Came home with large chunks of ice in beard and mustache. Wife not as impressed as hoped.
I’m sitting here feeling sensation creep back into my frozen legs. Yes, I jogged relatively slow in shorts. I jogged down to the river and ran the neighborhood along the road featuring the hulking ruin of the abandoned ice factory, some derelict playgrounds and, strangely, a string of onrushing cars returning to a squalid neighborhood full of garbage, wrecked vehicles next to burned, half-collapsed mill houses, dogs behind chicken wire baying atop scrap wood dog houses, tar paper printed with bricks peeling off homes wherein could be heard shouting, and in the windows the colorful flashes of morning telly. I could see this on the other side of train tracks, but I didn’t jog through. Morbid curiosity was trumped by a train whistle. I could get stuck there in American X if the train slowed to load or unload at the industrial complex next to that neighborhood. I was wondering if the cars were full of miners or frackers.
I jogged through a neighborhood full of old churches and the hulking ruins of the abandoned hospital and nursing home it once serviced. Brick peeling off in strips like an orange. If you jogged along side it, there’s a chance the brickwork could collapse upon you like a big rose petal falling from a delicate block-long flower made of screams and roach corpses. And so on.
Then I did a little circuit in my neighborhood. All quiet. I’m getting better at getting up before 5 am, yet I’m still having trouble heading out the door immediately. I took two cups of coffee first thing this morning. Tomorrow’s low is today’s high, so I should be able to get in a 15 hour morning run tomorrow morning, Then a short five in the afternoon. I’m shooting for 17 miles tomorrow. Next week’s midweek long run will be a straight 17.
Right leg still a little sore. If I get my five miles on grass tomorrow I’ll be right as rain.