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Archive for September, 2012

August 31 marked 366 consecutive days of me getting out for at least a 1 mile run. That’s a full leap-year year’s worth of runs. A summary of this collection of daily running:

  • Ran in 6 states (WA, ID, CA, FL, GA, UT)
  • Ran in 5 countries (US, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Ukraine)
  • Used 3 different pairs of shoes
  • Racked up approximately 925 miles
  • Shortest run: just over 1 mile
  • Longest run: The Seattle Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon, officially 13.1 miles; my GPS watch says I meandered a bit for 13.27 miles.
  • Hours I didn’t run: between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. Ran pretty much all the others
  • Temperature range: 29F to 84F
  • Altitude: Sea level (at/in the Atlantic in GA) to 7000 ft (Park City, UT)
  • Weight loss: about 12 pounds

Why would someone run every day for a year? Well there’s the obvious answer: the person’s stark raving mad. But those who are lunatics don’t necessarily know it, so they look for other reasons for such running. I’m debating between these two deep answers, which are handy since they apply to various problems:

  • Because it’s there
  • To get to the other side

And there’s also that deep sense of accomplishment that you get when you can join other folks who are similarly tuned into accomplishing the same meaningless accomplishment. Like the folks at runeveryday.com, where I should get included in an update soon, if I’m not on the list already.

For me, this running feet-feat got started from a newspaper article that mentioned one of the guys on that run-everyday list who had been running daily for over 40 years. This got me to thinking about consecutive day running. Back then I apparently had more mental faculties because I decided to see if I could achieve a relatively minor mark of just running a whole 10 days in a row. It seemed unlikely. But I managed it … and then I sort of forgot to stop.

A few highlights along the year:

Cork, Ireland: Flying internationally presents some schedule concerns for those trying to run every day, often requiring an early morning or late night jog. I mentioned running in Cork in a previous post. I was there a few times during this year, and usually left on an early morning flight for a long day of flying home. I had some colleagues willing to run also, so on flight day, we would gather at just after midnight for the day’s run. The downtown area is quite alive at this hour on a Friday night / Saturday morning. As I trailed my faster companions around the city, I would occasionally come up to a few lads outside the pubs watching my colleagues and making some choice comments about their mental capabilities. Lesson learned: This is a good way to pick up a few handy terms in the local slang that you’re not so likely to hear in the office.

Spain – La Rambla: I got to spend a few days in Barcelona, and started by running down La Rambla in mid-afternoon. This was one of the more challenging runs of the year in the zig-zagging sense, which you’ll understand if you’ve visited that super popular tourist spot. La Rambla is about a kilometer pedestrian mall packed with kiosks, tourists, human statues, pickpockets, and tourists who just got pick-pocketed while watching the human statues near the kiosks.

Early morning at La Rambla: La Empty, unlike the afternoon when it’s La Packed. The wavy sidewalk look is an illusion of the tile shape, it really is flat. This is slightly disorienting when running.

This route led the year in terms of the most sudden course changes per foot run. These sudden re-directions also presented a challenge for the pickpockets, and they were only able to take about half the things out of my pockets along this run. Lesson learned: Nothing overcomes jet lag like a run against an ever changing turbulent flow of humanity.

Lviv, Ukraine: I arrived here in the afternoon and was shortly out for a run. I knew if I didn’t go immediately, jet lag would get me and I’d wake up and have to run a new city in the dark. I headed for a park with a nice hill that looked out on the city. I had a map of the area printed out, though its street names didn’t quite match the spellings on the signs. After I ran to the park and up to its peak, I knew I wanted to exit the park toward the south and turn right. But I missed the turn and was soon going the wrong way but didn’t know it. As seen in the picture — click on it for a larger version.

Jogging route including peak of Vysokiy Zamok (High Castle) Park and then on to unexpected bus ride

So after covering about 4 miles, I saw a couple ladies and stopped to ask for help. Words were not effective in the conversation until I said the magic word “Opera”, since the Opera House is a landmark across the street from my hotel (the Opera Hotel). They made it clear that I wasn’t going the right way, but they couldn’t read my map and didn’t want to offer directions. A bus came up just then and they indicated that the bus would take me to “opera.” One of the ladies was riding anyway, so I decided to go for the adventure.

Lviv bus, useful for a lift back to the hotel

I didn’t happen to have any money with me, and the lady who got on with me was clearly trying to explain that I needed to pay for the ride, as she gestured with a bill. I gave the universal sign that I didn’t have money (showed my empty pockets), and I think she paid for me. Later the bus filled up and a young man who could speak English sat down next to me. He looked at my map and was able to tell me we were now off the map to the north, but would eventually swing around to the hotel area. In the end he got off with me to make sure I found my way to the hotel. So their kindness got me through my ignorance and lack of preparedness.

Opera House, hotel on the left

Lesson learned: Take some money along, like a few “grivnas” in  Ukraine, when running on uncertain streets the first time. In the Ukrainian case, the 20 grivna bill also happens to feature that Opera House on the back, which could be useful if you’re staying in the  hotel across the street.

Park City, UT: We stayed in Park City for a couple days to visit our son. While there I got to quickly understand why a number of real runners come here to train: because you can’t breathe while running. At least that’s the way it felt. After a few days I managed to stagger out 2.5 miles while desperately seeking oxygen most of the way. Recommendation: just enjoy taking the lifts up into the mountains. There’s a near endless supply of ski slopes up there.

Lesson learned: Don’t be fooled by the fact that you can walk around with relative ease in places like this. It’s a trap, which you discover when you start the run.

Jekyll Island State Park, Georgia: This was a surprisingly nice park with lots of Atlantic beach for running. I took the opportunity to run barefoot for the only time in these runs, wandering in and out of the water

Inviting Georgia Park, worth a visit.

Lesson learned: barefoot running leads to sore calf muscles the next couple days.

I-90 Floating Bridge: It took me a while to work up my courage for a there-and-back again run across the I-90 Floating Bridge. As part of my half-marathon training I went out for this 10-ish mile run, and part of it was at almost-lake-level. The floating bridge and the East Channel bridge both have a pedestrian / bike lane on the north side. Lesson learned: This was the best route I found to be out in nature and still an arm’s reach from high speed traffic and its associated exhaust.

I-90 Floating Bridge and Mercer Island

Race results: As high as the top 20 (out of 20), and as low as 1888th (though that was out of 14240 in the half marathon).

Times: My pace usually falls in the 8:30 – 8:50 minutes/mile range. My half-marathon pace was 8:46 officially, 8:40 on my watch due to my slightly extra distance covered. My fastest mile in that race was the 13th mile, at 8:01. If the course had been just a bit longer, I might have broken the 8 minute barrier.

Injury issues: I had some muscle issues with the upper part of my right leg, starting around run #70. I saw a physical therapist for a while, and dropped down to running just over 1 mile for about 30 days after run #100. I went from having to hobble along at the beginning of the jog, to a full recovery. For the last few months I’ve had a pain at the ball of my left foot which can be bothersome if I go for long runs (checked for stress fracture – negative). Lesson learned: Just keep going. What could possibly go wrong?

I was never sick during this year. But I had a plan: if  I wasn’t in a coma or otherwise confined in a hospital, I would get a ride to the top of a long hill and then run / stagger down it for a mile. Rules are rules, and crazy people make crazy plans.

Run #366

Final run: On that 366th run, I managed to coax my favorite running partner out for a mile. She ran with me for a grand total of 1.5 miles during the leap year of running. After the mile mark, she headed back (and met me with a sign at the end). Meanwhile I continued on and ran up my favorite hill, Bellevue’s Lake Hills Connector with a stretch featuring a 300 feet uphill climb, followed by another 100 or so feet of more gradual uphill. It was a quiet warm summer evening around sunset, with blue skies, the sounds of the occasional car going by, a random other jogger or two, and as I coasted along the downhill side of the run, I enjoyed the comforting thought that I didn’t need to do this anymore.

Elevation (feet) along the 5+ miles of the leap run

Which is why I got up and ran the next day, too. And the next day …

If you have meaningless accomplishments to rival this, let me know.

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