Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Cheryl's "Blood, Sweat, and Tears" Run!

We just finished an almost 16 mile training run at the trail. I'm not sure what it is about anything over 14 miles, but once we cross over that distance,  Cheryl's mind freaks out and shuts down.

Ah, but it always works out...somehow.   By now,  "melt down" runs are a familiar thing.   Almost routine!   I count on at least one "melt down" run before every marathon.  It seems odd that this would occur after Cheryl's successful first place run yesterday....However,   it has been a tough week.

But first,  allow me to explain the  title of the run...

The sweat part should be obvious.   It started out pleasant overcast and cool...but at exactly the half way point...the sun came out.   With the sun comes the extra 10-20 degrees and punishing radiation that saps your strength.   Ah well....we have run in the heat before.....LAST YEAR!    This was possibly the hottest day so far this year.   Having run in mostly cool or cold conditions....it takes a while for your body to acclimate.

The blood.    Cheryl scratched herself on a serious thorn bush.. ( possibly a wild raspberry...or those tree crawlers that tangle the country side of Iowa.)   And it bled...A LOT!   After a quick inspection,  the wound was superficial...but that was a serious gusher of a blood fountain!   This,  of course,  FREAKED HER OUT.....especially after Tuesday's experience. ( same leg too!   Her left leg has the worst luck lately..)   Luckily,  I was packing Bandaids. And after applying  firm pressure and a tourniquet to stop the bleeding,  we were able to patch up the hurty spot and drive on....but that was the beginning of the unraveling.
 The straw the broke the camel's back....I can understand why.

The pressure of the dog "encounter" and the separation from me should take its tole on anyone's mental health.   I play a key role in Cheryl's life, after all.   I pet/bribe with treats the "would be dog assailants" and act as a distraction so she can safely trot by.   As for the job...I provide the driving experience and mechanical know-how to operate the Subie properly.   It's...kind of a big deal.

Ah well,   at least we got that one out of the way so now we should be able to expect smoother longer runs in the future.   We shall see.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Cheryl's "Dam to Downtown" 10K Race!

Race shirt and bib secured.
Cheryl models the "T"
 Cheryl ran the Dam to Downtown today.   It was a great race for several reasons:   First,  It has been the first race since the Turkey Trot Debacle.   Second, She set a New coarse PR.   For a race she has already won.  And third,  She got FIRST PLACE in her age group this year.   YEAH!

I should point out that this is the firs race she has participated in for a second year in a row.   Just a little side note.
Packing up for the race.

And now...On to the pictures!

Things go easier this year.
We decided to head to Iowa City yesterday afternoon to pick up her shirt and bib.  Technically,  she could have picked it up this morning, But I was jazzed up from passing my SAT qualifier and needed to get out for the house after several tense hours of testing.

Pace Dog?
I have discovered that doing things a second time are much easier than they were initially. Last time,  Cheryl and I got lost trying to figure out where the race begins and where we should park.   How I was supposed to get back to Iowa City for the finish and where I should set up for the best picture taking opportunity.  This year,   all that anxiety was absent.   We zipped with there and found a spot and I followed the correct path to arrive with plenty of time.   Easy!
Cheryl Eyes the Pace Dog with suspicion

The race coordinators made sure there were plenty of dogs to ensure everyone ran to their full potential.   Cheryl had to keep her eyes on the small one in particular.   Having just survived an encounter with a similarly sized dog this week.

Mermaids and Superheroes galore!
After much music,  announcements, and the national anthem,  They were OFF!   I noted several familiar faces this year.   Many of the local HyVee employees that we know were also running the race.
I noted that Jeff Bridges must have skipped out on this year.   No Celebrity Iowa...But there were Mermaids and Captain Americas.  Along with several other marvel superheros. ( Batman and Superman...etc.)
Cheryl brings it to the finish!

On the verge of a New course PR
At the finish,   I filled some time taking random shots of the first group of finishers ( not shown)   I'm not sure why,  but I always do it and they rarely make it to the blog.   I captured Cheryl as she finished with her New PR.  And  first place in her age group!   Last year she only scored the second place, but was still happy to get her award.

Time for a drink!...Beer comes later.
We thought about celebrating with Ice cream,  But the long run is tomorrow and we will secure  Cheryl's ice cream then.  Today, make sure everything in the Pearson, ETS and SAT scoring world are prepped and ready.
Cheryl wins 1st in age group.

This one is gold, compared to last year's silver

Showing off her prize!
So hooray for Cheryl first race of the year!   And a success after a long injury recovery and a phobia of all things Canine. She would have liked to have had a better time..but first place for her age AND a new course PR should not be taken lightly.  Next week!  Race to Home in Davenport!   Another repeat race with limited awards.   Wish her luck!

Monday, April 11, 2016

When Running Becomes an Addiction.

Addiction is usually a bad thing.  Entire industries have been established to try to cure you of your addiction...as if it was an affliction.   However,  there are some times when having an addiction is not really so terribly bad.   For example:  Running.

You may have noticed that I did not say that it was a "good" thing.  I know there are people out there who think that all running is always good all the time.   However,  running brings its own set of side effects that could be perceived as "negative" from many points of view.  But first,   Let us define an addiction.

An addiction is when you have to have something to get though the day.    Whether it be a drug, a drink, food or some other earthly vice,  you NEED it to simply function.   Of course drugs, alcohol and tobacco are the obvious villains.   They tear down your body while offering a slight, temporary bit of pleasure or relief from the crushing depression that is life.  Those are easy targets that most of society can recognize as "bad".  Even food,  something that every one needs to survive,  could become an addiction as we try to nibble our way through the day when we are not really hungry.

But what about exercise?   Specifically running.   Since when would it be "bad" to get off the couch and run a few laps around a track?   Or even a couple of miles on a treadmill?    Society wants everyone to stay healthy, right?   Deep down, I think most people would rather have that sexy sleek body that is the product of such activity.  But we are talking about an addiction here. Something slightly more than a "healthy habit".

Even the most demonized drug had its initial positive uses.  Most of the hard drugs out there started out as medicine used to treat specific ailments; controlling pain or depression.    However, it is their abuse and over-use that causes problems.   Running is similar in that it has many positive effects on your body.  You gain muscle endurance, stronger bones, stronger heart, and better cardiovascular strength. You increase your metabolism, decrease your risk of obesity and diabetes, and release natural Dopamine that helps fight off depression. Sounds pretty good so far...

But the side effects of running can be harmful as well.   The obvious are the minor injuries that will inevitably happen along the way.   Twisted ankles, blisters, and calluses are the first signs, followed by more advanced  runner's knee, and plantar fasciitis for later stages.  These are all ailments that happen when persistent running occurs. Trail runners have been known to develop scratches on their arms and legs.    Know the signs!  Know the causes!

For serious abusers of running:  dehydration, memory loss, extreme fatigue, and even organ failure can occur.   Sometimes their immune system become compromised by running for long periods in the rain and snow. These runners are known as "Ultra-Runners" for their taking of running to the ultimate.   As with other drugs, they use running as either a means of escape or a method of searching.  They are searching for the answers to life's questions by running past the point of exhaustion, past the point of organ shut down.
 Their amount of self-abuse could be described as "extreme" by people outside their world.   However, it is the families and friends that suffer the most.  The vast distance that is created between those who run and those who do not should not simply be measured in miles.   It should be measured in finishers medals and race T-Shirts.

Thankfully, there is hope.   Runners need support from able bodied staff and pacers.   They need to be reminded about the "important things" in life.   And the best way to show them is through race photos and finisher pictures.   Cataloging their progress with Garmin Entries and blog postings will help them visualize their journey to recovery.
As with AA meetings,  recovering addicts need  sponsors that help cheer them on towards their next goal.  The long time health benefits of running may not be worth the loss of income that occurs when that person reduced their work hours so they can run more often. It's important to show them where their priorities lie.

So the next time a small child asks, "Mommy, Mommy,  where is Daddy?"    You won't have to explain the complexities of a trail or the distances of a run.  Or try to explain to a child the reasons why runners run to begin with.   Instead, you can roll down the car window and point at him as he is passing mile 20 running along the road.  "He is right there, dear."