Thursday, June 26, 2014

Eat to Run or Run to Eat?

I guess this is always a good question. Sure, I love to eat and try new foods. In fact, even my husband called us foodies the other night as we were preparing dinner. Maybe I can work on doing both in moderation!

I may be capable of this, but nothing Scott Jurek did was in moderation. I finished reading his book Eat & Run a few days ago and I thoroughly enjoyed it! I made a lot of connections with him that I really hadn't expected. 

To begin with, the setup of this book was unique. Each chapter started with a thought-provoking quote that could be related to running, or sometimes even life in general. Then, the chapter focused on individual races. It gave background on what he did to prepare, what was going on both in his mind and in his life at the time, and how he raced and performed in each event. Most chapters offered a running tip, expanding on what he had learned or tried in each race. Finally, the chapter ended with a recipe. Eating and running, a perfect combination.

Now, back to the connections. He is a deeply thoughtful person. He analyzed everything, but most especially what he put into his body, what he expected of his body, and how his body performed. His leanings veered toward Tao beliefs made sense to me as I have done some reading on this topic before, sparked by another book, A Million Little Pieces. I totally agreed with everything he said about yoga. I spent one summer doing yoga 5-6 days a week and noticed a remarkable improvement in my running form. He and I both benefited from the relaxation and meditative part of yoga as well. Finally, I enjoyed his ability and desire to experiment with the food he was fueling himself with. He really kept me engaged with not only the recipes but with the science and reasoning behind his decisions to use specific ingredients.

Can I just say that I was beyond impressed with his accomplishments? Mind you, I have only run two full marathons and the idea of an ultra does not even appeal to me, not one little bit. Yet, I just kept reading how Scott continued to push his body to reach his maximum potential, always seeking more. The mental fortitude of this man is unbelievable! He has used his life experiences to help push him past mountains, figuratively and literally. Here again, his circumstances ignited his desire to escape past the ordinary and into the world of the extraordinary, not just to be the winner, but to break records as well as find something more powerful in his body, but more importantly, his mind. 

There was one thing about the book that bothered me. And perhaps I've just read too deeply and not taken into account that this was a glimpse at his life. I found myself sad about his story. I am in awe of how hard and far he can push himself. He is constantly reaching toward the "nothingness", toward feeling nothing in his body and mind and I can't help but feel that sometimes it may be at the expense of finding connections with others. In the end, this may just be what it takes to become a true champion in the sport. From reading Scott Jurek's story I hope I can find enough grit within me to push beyond what I think I'm capable of when running, maybe even reaching that PR that's been eluding me for several years.

Friday, June 13, 2014

State #9 - Cincinnati, OH

My fabulous traveling running partner and I completed The Flying Pig Half Marathon on Sunday, after running the Indianapolis 500 Mini Marathon on Saturday.

After running the Mini Marathon, we had a shower and breakfast, then headed right to the next expo wearing our shirts and medals. We got such fun reactions when we indicated we were going to run another half marathon the next morning. We picked up lots of goodies at the expo: a nice fitting tech shirt complete with a pig tail on the back, a poster, and a perfect sized collapsible cooler, in addition to a whole lot of samples.

Bright and early the next morning we headed to the stadium for the start. A really nice touch was that each "pig pen", otherwise known as a corral, had several porta-potties inside. This really eliminated the long lines usually associated with the start line area and people were more willing to enter their corrals instead of milling about. After a touching rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, a moment of silence was held to honor the tragedy at the Boston Marathon. That was followed by an enthusiastic audience sing along to Sweet Caroline. And, we were off.

A bit sore from our run the previous day, we took this race nice and easy. The course traipsed around some neighborhoods and over the Ohio River. There were "party zones" for spectators, but they were few and far between; honestly, nothing like the spectator support we had experienced the previous day. There were a couple of rolling hills and one steeper hill from about mile six to eight, and these Florida girls had to walk for a few minutes. The view of the church at the top of the hill was spectacular - such pretty old architecture.

Thankfully, we finished just in time to avoid the rain. The finish area was large, and a lot of vendors were there, however, they were selling their wares. I had not experienced the sale of items at a finish area before and was not prepared as I usually don't carry money when I run. This was a bit disappointing as I would have liked to try some of the offerings.

The picture waited until we had hurried back to the hotel (in order to stay as dry as possible). All in all, it was a great trip. We decided we would try to make a "double" weekend a yearly event.