Week 3…

Posted: January 5, 2016 by Roberts in General Post, Workouts
Tags:

Week 3

This last week of the year has been uneventful in the sense of running. I was still nursing the sprain. So how does one stay fit while unable to put weight on your ankle? Ok, no weight might be an exaggeration. Minimal weight. All braced up and nowhere to go, what am I supposed to do? There have been many exercises I have been neglecting over the past year. Strength training, stretching, core work… I find them so tedious. They are necessary, but their contributions are not instantly recognizable. How to make things interesting? Gamification!

What a great word, gamification. To make the mundane into a game. How to do that? All good games involve a level of chance, variety, and every increasing difficulty. What to do? I went to the local office supply store and picked up printable business cards. On each card I put an exercise, reps, and weight. The plan is as I complete the workout, I know if I should increase the reps or the weight each time. So how is the game played?

Each morning I roll a six-sided die, and add four to the result. That number is the number of cards I draw. That’s my workout routine. Just get it done. Combined they might be focused in one area, spread out, who knows. It’s all random. After each routine, I mark down right there before I can think straight, should I raise the weight or reps next time.

IMG_6222

Exercise

Reps Weight

 

The exercises I have so far are:

Calf Raise Squats Step Back Lunges Dead Lift Squats Calf Raises Superman
Hammer Curls Seated Bicycles Jump Squats Alternating Reverse Lunges Crossover Lunge
Running High Knees w/ Weight Butt Kickers w/ Weight Lateral Step Romanian Dead Lift Alternating Split Squat Jumps Dumbbell Front Squats
Lateral Lunges Crossover Deadlift Tuck Jumps Burpees Push Ups w/ Yoga Ball
Push Ups Sit Ups Sit Ups w/ Yoga Ball Planks Lower Body Russian Twist
Shoulder Shrugs Curls Throw the Bomb Scissors Mason Twist w/ Medicine Ball

 

The first week has been great. Next week, I’ll be adding 5 to the roll.

Hitting a step goal without running was very challenging. I have an office job, so my natural step count is very low. Add the sprain, and something that is normally difficult, becomes amazingly difficult. The solution was taking it real slow and walking on the treadmill while watching TV. Real slow, like 20+ minute pace per mile. I would like to report that I successfully did it.

So what’s next? 14k starting on Monday. I should be back on the streets by midweek, if not, 14k is going to be a challenge.

I want to keep increasing the variety of exercises over time to keep it interesting.

My question for you all is, are there any other exercises I should add to my deck? Take away?

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2015 Obstacles Continue…

Posted: December 29, 2015 by Roberts in Uncategorized

Be good,
Learn something new,
And be awesome!

After the Vegas Race Weekend, I would love to say I took it easy on myself, but that just isn’t the case. After proving that with careful planning and testing I could push through even a sprain, I decided to complete my 2014 race schedule. Which I did. I played it safe for the last three races of the year – a 5k, a 5 miler and a half marathon. After the last race, I was finally able to see my doctor to have her look at the ankle.

During our appointment she asked me the basic questions. She tested it out, rotated it, poked it, and suggested I get an X-Ray. She asked me how it happened, and how I treated it afterwards. Before the Vegas race I was taking pictures of it daily to compare to see how the swelling and bruising changed. Still in my phone, I was able to share them with her. Looking back at Facebook from November of 2014, the highlights of that conversation were:

Doctor: “I have never seen an ankle bruise that way.”

~

Doctor: “How did you possibly get the swelling down so fast?”

~

Doctor: “You ran a marathon on that foot? How?”

~

Doctor: “Since you are an extreme athlete, I am going to refer you to a specialist.”

All I heard was Extreme Athlete.

After hearing this, one of my running groups dubbed me The Extreme Athlete, ironically.

The ankle had healed and survived five total races since the initial sprain, so she advised me to take it easy. At no point did she say stop running. Or if she did, I didn’t hear it. To be cautious. I would take it nice and easy. Invincible, I decided to take my visiting brother-in-law out for a trail run the day after Christmas.

Apparently, I’m not invincible.

While going along, he wanted to take pictures of the area, and I was focused on logging a couple miles. I explained, I would go up head, and turn back at some point. Being only the day after Christmas, the trail was rather empty. 3 miles in, I stepped on a slick patch of leaves, and the not fully healed ankle gave out. Collapsing into the mud, I knew I had done some damage to my ankle. Conveniently I had already had an appointment the following week with the specialist.

Entering the obviously expensive facility of the ankle specialist, with its hardwood floors and large flat screen TVs, I was kind of curious what he could tell me I didn’t already know. I could hear it now, “What are you, stupid?”

During the appointment, the story was retold with a combination of pride and shame. Not quite sure which would play better, the tale tested the limits of both. His blank disapproving stare reminded me of the look of the referring doctor. Giving the same non-verbal communication, I wondered why they couldn’t share in the excitement of the story. Maybe they discussed it in advance and decided to give a unified front. Referring back to Facebook in December, the highlights from that conversation were:

Doctor: “From the sound of it, the of it, the first sprain may have been a level 2 injury. When did you run on it after that?”
Me: “I ran a marathon that Sunday.”
Doctor: “Of course you did.”

~

Doctor: “It is a level 1 sprain, but given the reoccurrence on the same ankle, I am going to put you in a boot”
Me: (Questioning stare)
Doctor: “No, you cannot run in the boot.”

~

Doctor: “Normally I would tell someone to wear it for 6 weeks, you’re stocky and I think we can have this off in 2 weeks…please no long runs…please.”
Me: “What about short runs without the boot”
Doctor: “You can walk on the treadmill the first week 30 minutes at a time once a day. Then you can do short runs.”
Me: “How short?”
Doctor: “Short.”
Me: (Questioning stare)
Doctor: “Short.”

~

Doctor: “You don’t have to wear the boot all the time, just your normal walking about. Couch to fridge you don’t need it.”

Short runs were permitted. Good to know. Short is a relative term. Now that I would be benched for some time, several races had to be taken off the tour. The first race of 2015 would now be the end of March. Waddling out in my new boot, I knew I would have to let it heal and to take the entire year easy to make sure I stayed injury free for the rest of 2015.

What was you worse running relate injury?

 

 

Week Two

Posted: December 28, 2015 by Roberts in General Post, Injuries, Running Log
Tags: , , ,

It seems only fitting that the first obstacle to getting back on the fitness wagon would be a sprained ankle. Another sprain. Wednesday before the sun woke up, the ground was covered by a light rain. The ground was soaked, the streets were glistening, and puddles littered the ground. While crossing a large intersection, I stepped into a small puddle. Hidden under the water was a crack in the road. With a single misstep, my ankle rolled and I tumbled down. During the fall, I had a flashback of my fall the previous year in November. Strangely enough, on the other side of the same intersection was where that fall had occurred. That intersection might just be cursed.

While crawling through the intersection all I could think was, “not again. Please don’t let it be bad.” As this scene played out, the man that lived on the corner was getting into his car. Luckily he offered to give me a lift back to my house. Though it was a short three quarter mile run, it was a long three quarter mile crawl. Not my first injury, and most likely not my last. To console myself, I decided I could take it easy with the Christmas holiday over the weekend.

A holiday plus no running, equals terrible results. Sadly, for my weigh in on Monday, I wiped out all my work from the previous week. I’m currently in a competition with my neighbor, whom ever loses 10% first, the other must babysit. For that whole week, I was well in the lead. Now, however, she’s winning. I can’t let this happen. I really don’t want to watch a total of six children (my own three, plus her three).

What challenges or contests have you used to motivate yourself?

The Beginning of 2015…

Posted: December 27, 2015 by Roberts in 2015 Tour, General Post, Races
Tags: , , ,

Be good,
Learn something new,
And be awesome!

These are the words I recite to my kids every day before they leave for school. Hard words to live up to, yet we keep trying. Having failed on many occasions to live up to this, I went into 2015 with the goal of having an awesome year. Epic even. As with all challenges, it doesn’t start on day one. It starts days, even weeks, before the countdown begins.

During the summer, my kids stay with my parents for a month. It gives them the chance to enjoy swimming every day, rodeos and dude ranches with my parents. It also gives myself and my wife, Lauren, a break from them. We live in Virginia and my parents live in Texas. The past few summers, we’ve done what we jokingly refer to as the “prisoner exchange” in Tennessee. After handing the kids off to my parents in early July 2014, we stayed a night in Knoxville. There in the hotel room, as I surfed the internet on my laptop, the seeds of 2015 began to sprout.

It started with the idea to go after the Rock & Roll Gold Medal Heavy Medal award, which requires you to run ten of their events in a calendar year. The amount of travel involved would be significant, but with some careful planning, it could be possible. I’ve lived in several cities on the East Coast over the years, so many of the races would not only be within a reasonable driving distance, but more than likely I could crash on a friend’s couch in many, if not all, of the cities. Some I would travel to solo, for others Lauren could join me, and for a few the entire family could come. Looking over the tour stops, I plotted out 10.

It looked simple and easy on a computer screen. Four of the races would be full marathons, and the remaining ones would be halves. Right then and there I went online and signed up for their 2015 Tour Pass, then started registering for the races. While on the site, I realized that many of the tour stops hosted multiple races on the same weekend. Since it didn’t cost me anything more, I decided that I might as well sign up for those, too.

2015 was being planned and 2014 wasn’t even finished yet; there were still 5 months to go. I still had the Rock & Roll Las Vegas Marathon ahead of me that November, and I was already plotting out my training plans for 2015. Over the course of the next three months, I added other, non-Rock N Roll series, races to the schedule for 2015, races that I’ve done a couple times, that were local or were fun trips for the family. Over the next few weeks, friends started asking me if I could join them on their first races. Before the Vegas race, 2015 was shaping up to be a busy, epic year, but still doable.

However, nothing goes according to plain. A simple misstep can cause a cascade of issues. And so my first obstacle for 2015 appeared the Tuesday before the race weekend in Vegas, in November 2014. It was my final training run before heading out west, and suddenly, a single crack in the sidewalk had me crumbling to the ground less than a mile from my home. Trying to stand, it was evident that this was more than just a stubbed toe or sore ankle. As I limped home, pushing the fear of what this could mean from my mind, the pain steadily increased.

I took all the needed measures to fight the sprain I knew I had. Ice, compression, elevation, everything in my arsenal was thrown at the injury. The ankle fought back and changed from a light red, to a rose, to a purple. Through consultation of friends and experts it seemed unlikely I could do this run, and if I did, that I might do serious injury to myself. The only person I did not consult was my doctor, for fear she would say, “don’t race.”

The tickets and room were already purchased, so I was going to Vegas either way. There we would meet up with a couple old friends and enjoy the town. Still hoping I could run it, I brought all my gear. To make the flight doable, I wore my compression sock to prevent as much pooling of blood as possible. On the plane, the seat next to me looked like it was going to remain open. As a 6’3” man sitting in the middle seat, this was a present from fate that would give me the gift of room to stretch. As we waited for the door to close, one last man boarded. He wore an air cast and limped to his seat… The aisle seat next to me. Alas, leg room was not my destiny that day.

As you do on a long flight, he and I started talking. We covered the basics. Personal or business. Home or traveling. Looking at the air cast I had to ask. He then began to weave the tale of the sprained ankle he had acquired while completing a Spartan Race. This Spartan had hurt himself, had never gotten his injury looked at, and continued to race other events. The previous Christmas Day, while returning home from a hike with his family, he had reinjured himself. After consulting with the doctor, he had discovered that he needed surgery. Now he was now almost a year into his recovery, still wearing the air cast. Was the universe trying to tell me something? Perhaps, but if it was, it fell on deaf ears.

While visiting the Health Expo, we met up with several friends from college who were in town for the race, as well as a fellow “Runner 5,” a player of the running app Zombies, Run! Walking around the massive event in Sin City, I decided to commit my own sin. I would run the races. All I needed was a plan.

That day it was decided. A decision was only the first step, though, the real question was how to accomplish it. My plan was to prepare the ankle by limiting its movement, and then test it. After using tape, a wrap, and a compression sock, my foot was effectually locked down. What better way to test an injured ankle than in a 5k race? During the race I tested it at various speeds to determine what it could handle. The answer, a 34:30 5k pace. My worst 5k to date, but it was passable. The ankle gave me no issues. After consulting friends, the next stage of the plan was decided. Begin running the marathon, and at mile 10, the half split, if the ankle was angry, turn left and bring it home. If not, continue to go forth and be awesome.

Under the bright lights of Vegas, I ran through the dark. I ran and I pushed myself. At the split, with excitement in my heart, I decided that it was moments like this that define you. So at the split, I turned right. The second half of the race is all desert, wide open space. The only bright lights were on the horizon, and I pushed toward them. At the various switch backs, I could see the sag bus. But it wasn’t going to be for me that day. Keep pushing, I told myself. However, the pain in my ankle was slowly increasing.

With my slower than usual pace, I would be on my feet longer. It was no longer a race for time, but a race against time. One of three things would happen. The sag bus would pick me up and I wouldn’t finish, my ankle would give out and the medics would take me in and I wouldn’t finish, or I would finish.

Passing the 4:45 pacer, I asked her if she was on pace, which would mean that I had caught up. She informed me that no, she had fallen behind her assigned pace as she simply walked along. Still not a single step walked, I pushed myself. Finally, after what seemed like forever, I turned the corner back onto the strip. I had less than a mile to go. I caught up to a woman and in a pained voice she asked me, “Am I too late, will I still get my medal?” I knew we were past the five hour cut off time, but I also knew the sag bus hadn’t caught up to us. Turning to her, all I could muster was, “run with me, and we will make it.” So we ran, or maybe it was more of a waddle… either way, we worked to close the distance.

As we closed in on the finish line, they were already starting the dismantling process. Finally, we crossed the finish and I reached for the medal. Clasping the cold metal between my fingers, I stumbled through the finish corral looking for my friends and my wife. I had done it. It wasn’t my first marathon, but it was the hardest I had run up to that point. My ankle had survived. If it could survive that weekend, I would survive 2015. Or so I thought. Three races still remained for 2014, let alone the impending 2015 tour.

Week One…the second time.

Posted: December 26, 2015 by Roberts in Running Log
Tags: ,

My first week back on the fitness wagon is over. First, the goal setting. What is a reasonable goal in a reasonable timeframe? Let’s start with one of the key elements of my plan, training for a marathon. I’ve chosen to train for the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati, Ohio. As with all things, we should work to make things a little more awesome. To ratchet up the challenge, the plan is to complete the 4 Way Challenge with extra cheese. It’s four races over the course of three days: a 1 miler, 10k, 5k, and full marathon. That means I need to be race weight by the challenge weekend. That means it needs to be accomplished by May 1st. Time to break that down.

The start date is December 14th and the race is May 1st. That’s 140 days. 140 Days of focused energy on determination. More than feasible. The goal is to lose 82.3 lbs. Seems reasonable. Time to get started.

The first week of weight loss is always the most encouraging. Of course, having gone through this several times before, I know it’s just water weight. That being said, dropping from 288.5 lbs. down to 279.9 lbs. feels pretty good. It won’t always be at the pace, but even half of that should be a decent pace.

I successfully ran three times this week, five miles each, Monday, Tuesday, Friday. To top it off, Saturday was my last race of the year, The Santa 5 Miler. It was a fun race, and I’ll share my thoughts on the event at a later time. There was only one day this week when I did not hit my step goal of 12,000 steps. Next week I’ll get the job done.

Now, next week is Christmas. That means cookies, pies, candy, great food and low willpower. It’s going to be a hard week. This year we’ve started the tradition, one that my family had growing up, where the kids each take a turn picking the Christmas Eve dinner. This year my oldest got to pick. She decided on chicken fried steak. Chicken fried steak? First, where did she even have chicken fried steak? She’s eight and we’ve never served it. Come to find out, she’s had it while visiting my parents. This will be hard to stay on my diet and not derail myself in my second week of weight loss.

How do you endure through the holidays?

I’m Back!

Posted: December 24, 2015 by Roberts in General Post, Uncategorized
Tags:

I’m back!

It’s been some time since I’ve posted.  Like with all things in life, life got in the way.  During my original journey to lose weight, this blog kept me honest with myself.  It provided a way for me to log and catalog my journey from a non-runner to a guy who pretends to be a runner.  Over the course of 2015, I’ve gained quite a bit of the weight back that I had initially lost.  This past week has been a week of soul searching and self-reflection to figure out why, and how to reverse this trend and get back on the path to success.  
 
To put it in perspective, when I started this journey I was over 330 lbs.  At my best I was down to 235 lbs. in March of 2013 – almost a full 100 lbs.  I was happy with my success and tried to maintain it. However, my lack of true maintenance allowed my weight to creep back up to 255 lbs. at the beginning of this year. Now here we are in December and I’m back up to 288.5 lbs.  At this point a normal person might think, maybe he gave up running.  Maybe he ate pure garbage ever since that low.  So let’s take a look at 2015.
 
Though I started the year injured, I managed to finish 31 races including four full marathons, 12 half marathons four 10ks, six 5ks, and five other miscellaneous distances.  I raced in 18 cities and 2 countries this year.  So my weight gain was not from a lack of training and exercise.  What was it then?  Over the next few weeks while I train for the next marathon, I will explore what happened, what I learned, and what I’m doing to fix things going forward. 

My initial plan for 2016 has a couple simple parts.

  • Count Calories
  • Train for a marathon
  • Drink two liters of water a day
  • A weekly increasing minimum step goal
  • Have mini challenges with other people

Over the course of the next year, I’ll explore the lessons and experiences of 2015, and those of 2016.

What have you done to regain your focus?

 

I am now two posts behind where I want to be.  With running combined with work, I have just not had the time.  It actually came down to choosing between running or blogging about running.  I am not sorry to say, running won the day.  This blog is to add to my runs, not take away from them.

I had two runs this weekend.  I am proud of both, each for a different reason.
On Saturday I was scheduled to do only a 2 mile run.   I had missed a 3 mile run earlier in the week, so I combined them.  When I left my house, it was perfect running weather. Thirty one lightening strikes later, I was soaked to my core.
As I ran, a storm closed in on the area. I am proud of the run simply because I had many chances to head back as the weather worsened, but I toughed it out.
Mile one: I had seen 17 lightening flashes, but no rain. No one would tell me it was a bad decision to head in. Not feeling even a sprinkle, I kept going since there was not even a sprinkle.
Mile two: A couple waves of rain hit me. If I turn back now, I would be partially dry. My health is important, and no one would think less of me.
The halfway point: I would have been drier if I had gone swimming. The cold wind combined with the rain is a quick recipe for a cold. A quick turn up ahead and I could be at my house in a couple minutes…
Mile Four: There were now more puddles than exposed road. Most of my footfalls landed in inch deep water. Should I turn back?   But then again, people would be impressed I was willing to go this far…

Mile Five: The skies cleared, the storm broke and I was heading home.
So there you have it.  I set a goal, and I didn’t go home until it was done. I don’t care that nobody would have known if I had given up. I would have. That is why I am proud of that run.

Sunday was a different run. I had thirteen miles scheduled. My PR for distance is 13.1. I just picked up a new pair of shoes, time to test them on a nice long run.

I looked outside, and all I saw was rain. There is one thing to get caught in the rain, it is another to start in the rain.  If I could run in the rain the day before, I could do it again. I grabbed my new rain jacket. Strangely, it matched my new shoes and shorts. I was about to go out in style.

Once I was suited up, I headed out. The moment I opened the door, a cold wind cut right through the jacket. It was far colder than it had been on Saturday. I looked up the road and watched the rain come down harder. I went back inside, gave a pathetic excuse to my wife, and took off my gear. I gave up. I choose not to go out.

After sitting down and trying to rationalize it to myself – “Hey, welcome to Quitters-ville!” –  I stood up, redressed, and stepped out into the rain, which seemed to have let up somewhat. I was not coming home until I had finished a half marathon.

Less than a few feet into the run I was soaked. The jacket did nothing. There is no need to rehash the run mile by mile. It was wet and cold. After many staring eyes, being splashed by many cars, and endless deep puddles, the run was done. I am proud of the run simply because I got out there. The greatest obstacle to your own success is yourself, not the world outside. It is merely a decision to overcome that is all it takes sometimes.

At the end my pace was 11’23” and I was about ten pounds heavy with rain water.

Question:

What was the worst excuse you gave to skip a run?

Remember to like the page on Facebook!

As of this week I have logged over 1,000 miles since I have taken up running.  That is approximately the distance from Philadelphia, PA to Iowa City, IA or from Paris, France to Warsaw, Poland.  Of course the latter sounds more adventurous, thus the title of the post.  In my mind, it is a great milestone.  The next milestone is at 2,500 Km.

This also marks almost the end of week six of marathon training.  I should still find a marathon to sign up for.  If I don’t find one, I need to map an uninterrupted route around my area.  I can only imagine running around the area with a road map and hoping not to make a wrong turn.

I have completed two runs, both six miles, since the hydration problem on Sunday.  I have also started drinking a glass of water with a Nuun tab before each run.  A reader and friend of mine turned me on to them.  It makes for a fizzy pre-run beverage.  I have also picked up a new hydration belt, Amphipod RunLite Airstretch 2+.  I will write up a review on it later.  Suffice it to say, it was a necessary addition.

Due to work, I have not been able to stick to my running schedule this week.  Of the three runs planned, I kept two.  Of those two, only one was on the scheduled day.  As long as this does not become a habit, it won’t be a problem.  Why does life get in the way of life?

During these runs I have noticed the pace has slowed.  Both runs have been riddled with shin splints.  I have not had shin splints since my early days of running.  What could be the cause?  After thinking about it, I think it might be the shoes, which are starting to wear out.  What do you guys think?

It has been about 400 miles since my last pair.  It is about time.  Well off to another run, and maybe my final run with these shoes.

Question:

What shoes do you run with, and any suggestions?

Remember to like the page of Facebook!

This was the weekend of bad runs.  I don’t want to dwell on it so much, just report it and move on.

On Saturday I needed to log 2 miles.  2 miles is nothing.  Well, it’s nothing unless your shins scream in pain for the entire run.  My goal was to beat my earlier pace, 9’42”.  I ended with a pace of 10’31”.  I lost almost an entire minute off my pace.  Deplorable!

On Sunday, the day’s planned run was 12 miles.  If I was feeling up to it, I intended to push for an extra 1.1 miles.   That’s right, I was going for a half marathon distance.  I have only done that once before.  It was time for a repeat.  My legs were feeling better, and I was ready.  Little did I know that fate had other plans.

I run with a Nike Running Hydration Belt, or rather I used to.  It has four bottles and each holds four ounces.  I hadn’t used them since last fall, and when I went to run on Sunday, I could only locate three bottles and only one lid.  What does that mean?  I could only carry four ounces of Gatorade.  That should have been enough right?  Wrong, so wrong.Nike Hyrdation Belt

When I left, 11 AM, the temperature outside was 65⁰.  By the 12:30 it was 88⁰.  By the end, the sun was burning my face.  I was through those four ounces of Gatorade in no time.  Around mile seven I could feel my legs shutting down.  Over and over I kept saying to myself, “just a little further.”  At mile eight my mind screamed back “LIAR!!!!”  My pace dropped from the mid 11s to 13s.  I soon realized I could walk faster.  With no pride, I ended the run.  The final results were 8.9 miles at pace of 11’47”.

That isn’t the worse part.  I now had to walk home.  It felt like a walk of shame.  This has been the second time I have not succeeded in my running goal for distance.  In fact, I normally feel like I can do more.  At first I questioned where my strength went.  After a mile or so I started wondering if I could ever do a full marathon.  Even with a couple short cuts, it was still a three-mile walk home.  I knew I made the right decision since I stumbled several times on the road home.  If I had more liquids I could easily have done the run.  I also should definitely have worn my hat.  So many “ifs” and so little time.   After several mental debates, I decided that I can do the distance.

Question:

What do you do for hydration on your long runs?

I have been using the Nike Hydration Belt with G2 Gatorade.

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Friday the 13th Book icon

Friday the 13th Book icon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am not a superstitious person.  The universe does not curse a particular day of the week since an arbitrary date falls upon it.  There are enough irrational people in this world, and I have no desire to be one of them.  I have known quite a few people who claim not to be superstitious, except when it comes to the number “13.”  To combat this, I have embraced the number as much as I can, or at least to notice where the number “13” shows up in my life.  It ranges from my shoe size, my ring size, my birthday (1-3), the fact that I get off at the thirteenth stop on the train, and so on.  If “13” truly was an unlucky number, I would probably be dead by now, given how often it comes up in my life.

Why am I bringing up Friday the 13th when it carries no power to me?  I want to put into context my evening run, and how if I did believe the day was bad luck, this evening would have reinforced it.

With all good curses, things start out small with imperceptible strange coincidences.   Over time it builds until you question your sanity and sense of reason.

Throughout the day a shooting pain had stabbed along my shin.  When the pain occurred it came on so suddenly and unexpectedly, I would almost lose my balance.  After the third time, I started questioning my health.  Did I injure myself and not know it?  Was it a muscle or bone issue?  A great way to start a run.

I owed myself two runs from nights this week when I hadn’t gotten to run, one 6 miles, the other 2.  Given that I have a 12 miler on Sunday, I figured the 2 miler should be on Saturday.  After getting home and having dinner on this Friday the 13th, the earliest I could hit the road was 10:15 PM.  Yes, I am that guy that goes out running after 10 on a Friday night.  If you have been reading, you know I have started focusing on my pace, and not just the distance.  So off I went.

Coming around the bend at the end of mile one, a couple stood chatting on the sidewalk I was running on.  As I approached, they decided to start walking the same direction I was running.  It happens, so I passed them.  Around a mile and half, a minivan approached along the street.  The driver turned and pulled into a driveway along my path.  He didn’t pull all the way in, but left a half a car length to spare.  This blocked the sidewalk.  Maybe he didn’t see me.  The interior light came on, the driver opened his door and looked at me.  As I circled around behind the minivan, I heard the familiar beep beep sound as the rear door began to open, just as I was running by it.  So he saw me, and he still opened the door!  Best case scenario, opening the door forces me to run further in the middle of the street in the middle of night.  Worst case, he was trying to hit me.

My route winds throughout the neighborhood.  The couple I saw earlier must have taken a shorter route since I passed them again.  Over the course of the next couple miles I avoided three other cars parked over the sidewalk and not pulled all the way into their driveway.  Minor annoyances, nothing deadly and in a vacuum, it isn’t worth noting; however it was Friday the 13th.

Passing two and a half miles the couple was ahead of me again.  They approached a corner where the sidewalk and street end at a cross street.  I normally cross the street and make a right.  I noticed cars approaching from the left a little too fast for my taste.  When that occurs, I normally turn left, run for a bit, and then cross.  This prevents me from crossing a street with cars nearby.  That is on a normal night.  But normal does not seem to be on the table for this evening.

The couple stops.  This isn’t them just slowing down, they stop abruptly.  They don’t just stop anywhere.  They stop between the tree and the road, the only narrow “safe” space between a traffic filled road and the trees.  This forces me into the street, and into the path of an approaching car.  As I pass from the safety of the ending sidewalk and directly onto the road, they give me the stink eye, as if somehow I made the mistake of encroaching upon them.

Eventually, I turn down the dead end street that had been occupied by the opossum on a different night not too long ago.  At the end of the street a white car is parked facing me.  The driver flashed his lights not once, but three times.  THREE TIMES!  He then decided to leave the high beams on, though it was a well-lit street.  Are you afraid I didn’t see you, Mr. Parked Car?  Three or four car-lengths out, he started driving, high beams still on.  My night vision is now shot.  I was nearly at the half-way point of my run at that point, thank goodness.

A little while later, I noticed a white car parked on the side of the road.  In the car I could see two small glowing embers.  They would burn bright for a moment and then dim away.  When I saw a few strides closer I detected a scent I haven’t smelled in some time – pot.  These two are smoking up on the side of the street.  It then hits me; it is the same car that flashed their high beams at me.  They aren’t good at hiding the fact that they are smoking.  The area is just flooded with the scent.

By mile four I was in the final stretch.  Sitting at the three-way stop intersection was a jeep.  It sat there, and sat there and sat there.  I needed to cross the street.  Would he turn towards me or not?  Would he wait?  He can’t go straight, that is a house, and left would be near me.  As I got closer, the jeep began to move slowly.  The driver was looking for something on the floor, and obviously unable to find it.  The car began to idle slowly into the intersection.   The car drifted across most the intersection before the driver’s head ever emerged.  Finally he popped his head up and slammed on the brakes.  Any further and he would have been in someone’s yard, and in my path to getting home.  He most likely would have hit the curb and maybe even knocked some since into himself.

The rest of the run was uneventful.  The question is, was the run cursed, or was it good luck that none of those events became terrible accidents?  Next time should I bring out a few lucky charms (no, not the cereal), or should I trust in fate?

My goal was to beat my 6 mile pace of 11’35”.  Results, 10’52”.  Time to celebrate with a chai smoothie.

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Question:

Do you have any superstitions when it comes to your runs?