Noted philosopher Yogi Berra, the 20th century’s version of Aristotle, once supposedly said: “Half of baseball is 90 percent mental.”
So is running.
Actually, sometimes it feels like half of running is 100 percent mental. Especially in the summer.
But I didn’t even make it into summer this year before I flat lined. I hadn’t run a spring marathon, but felt like I had. My legs were shot – and so was my head.
Normally, I’m a no-nonsense guy. I get up, I run. Simple as that. I am so mentally committed to my morning run that no extra motivation, coach or external factor is necessary. But occasionally something gets in the way which I don’t even bother trying to run through.
Anyone’s running goes through periodic ups and downs. That’s the nature of the sport. For days and months on end, running comes easily enough. The long runs and races are home runs. Every run feels satisfying. But then out of the blue comes a week or two when every run feels like a chore. Happens to all of us.
For me, it was a weird malaise that came just before an out-of-town half marathon in which I was hoping to reach a peak. But a few days before I was set to leave for the race, my quads felt like concrete and the rest of me didn’t feel much better. Since I’ve gone through this periodically, I knew the only remedy was at least a week of big fat zeros in my training log. For me, missing a day is a big deal. To miss an entire week borders on catastrophic.
When I don’t run, the rhythm of my day is short-circuited and nothing quite feels right. Without getting drenched in my morning sheen, the buzz is missing and my day moves slower. Food doesn’t taste as good and I don’t sleep as well. I wasn’t even slightly injured, but I could feel myself slipping into the Self-Pity Zone. Poor, poor pitiful me. (Thank you Warren Zevon.)
And then it dawned on me: What I needed was two Man Pills. (Sorry to be politically incorrect, but there are no Woman Pills. Women don’t need them. They are strong enough.)
Regardless, this easy-to-fill prescription is the best remedy I have found for what periodically ails me. Take two pills in the morning and get moving. I don’t know why it works, but it almost always does.
Clearly, there are no Man Pills for me to take. It’s all imaginary, just like my periodic bout with dead legs.
Regardless, the following morning, for some reason, possibly the Man Pills I mentally took, I felt like running again. There had only been a few missed days, but my quads no longer felt like someone had been pounding them with a baseball bat. Pulling on my shoes no longer felt like a chore.
If I could just make it through the first 15 minutes and over a long hill, I knew the Man Pills would kick in. Once they did, I continued for the rest of my morning loop and was well on my way back to normalcy. As I did so, the cloud of uncertainty, inactivity and doubt lifted.
Yogi was right once again. Thank you.
O A new Austin Marathon course has been designed. It hasn’t been approved yet by the city so High Five Events—owner and operators of the race—understandably won’t reveal it quite yet. But I have seen the elevation chart for the proposed course and it looks promising (i.e., much less hilly). Another change: The proposed course will include sections of east Austin which I’m pretty sure hasn’t been utilized since the ’03 race. Much more on this later, but it’s a virtual certainty that there will be a new course in place for next February’s race.
O Sanya Richards-Ross, the former Longhorn All American and Olympic gold medalist, announced she will retire after the Rio Olympics which will mark her 12th season as a professional. Richards-Ross, who is 31, will try and make her fourth Olympic team at the Trials in July in the 400 in which she is the American record holder with a time of 48.70. (The 400-meter final is set for July 3rd.) Finishing in the top 3 in Eugene is by no means a certainty as she has twice undergone foot surgery in the past three years and last year wasn’t even a finalist in the U.S. Champs. Richards-Ross is opening her final season this weekend at the Penn Relays as part of a 4 x 400 relay. She will face one of her top rivals—World Champ Allyson Felix—on May 28th at the Pre Classic in Eugene.
O Mr. Former Yellow Jersey—Lance Armstrong—competed last Sunday in the Spartan Race at Reveille Peak Ranch. Competing in an elite heat in the Spartan Super, Armstrong wrote on Instagram: “Somehow one and one equaled 180 burpees for yours truly. Suffer City. Had a blast tho and mad respect to all who came.” The 44-year-old placed 90th overall in 1:50:17 (including penalties) over 12 kilometers and 25 obstacles. Afterward Armstrong wrote, “Was thinking I was all tough and shit. I was dead wrong.” He’s been wrong before.
O Returning to racing after the Olympic Trials Marathon in February was occasional Armstrong running partner David Fuentes. The former St. Ed’s runner, who has been nursing an injury for months, raced in the Leatherwood Ultra in North Carolina, but took a wrong turn and ended up running five miles in the other direction, yet still finished sixth in the 10-miler in 1:29. Amber Reber of Austin even beat Fuentes, placing second overall in 1:22 (she didn’t get lost). Mike Brennan of Austin was fourth overall in 1:27 and Erik Stanley—on the comeback trail—was 13th in 1:33. Jessica Casey was 15th in 1:36 and Dan Rose was 26th in 1:47 with Jacque Peppler 3th in 1:56. Claire Secker of Austin ran the 50-miler, finishing in 8:57.
O Mike Kurvach was the overall winner of Rogue’s Tangle 30-K last weekend. Kurvach, an Army officer who ran at Rochester Institute of Technology, ran 2:10:10 to beat out ultradude Paul Terranova in second in 2:10:50 with Josh Beckham third (2:11:02) and Alex Moore fourth (2:18:45). First woman was Amy Baker in 2:31:45 (sixth overall, six days after her first Boston) with Sarah Watson second in 2:55:56 and Charity Maqueda third in 3:16.
O BTW: Terranova was coming off the Lake Sonoma (California) 50 two weeks ago where the 41-year-old finished 14th in 7:21 and was the second master. In the same race, Justin Wendling of Austin was 52nd in 8:44.
O A contingent from Rogue will be traveling to Stanford, California this weekend for the Payton Jordan Invitational. JT Sullivan, Matt Cleaver and Austin Bussing are running the steeple, Lennie Waite, Sarah Pease and Mary Goldkamp are in the women’s steeple. Meghan Lloyd and Sandie Raines of UT are in the women’s 5000 (where she PR’ed last year) as is former Texas Tech superstar Sally Kipyego. Mary Beth Hamilton of UT is entered in the 800. Former Austinite Matthew Maton—a University of Oregon freshman—is in the 1500 as are Alex Rogers and Brady Turnbull of UT.
O The USATF Half Marathon Champs are this weekend (the Cap City Half Marathon in Columbus, Ohio) and Allison Mendez is running as is Scott MacPherson and Ryan Miller of The Woodlands.
O Guaranteed entry registration opens next Thursday (May 5) for the 2017 Houston Marathon and Half Marathon (January 15) and extends until May 31st. This is for runners who have a qualifying time or have one of the other entries. Open registration opens June 1st and extends until the race sells out.
O The 9th annual Schrader 1600 is on tap for May 7th (a Saturday night) at 8 at Vista Ridge HS in Cedar Park. Although it’s mainly for high schoolers, the mile is open to runners of any age and, race director Paras Shah, said he expects plenty of masters milers to show up. For more info, call Paras @ 468-0378 or slide into his DM’s at twitter.com/paras360.
O What I’m listening to this morning: “Abbey Road,” the Beatles’ masterwork. They saved their crowning achievement for last (“Let it Be” doesn’t count).
Have any news for me? If you have something, send it along to firstname.lastname@example.org.