Tag Archives: warrior mode

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Warrior Mode Update

This was supposed to be the first part of a series of updates on the my training for the Pistol 50k (31 miles) which I am running on January 2nd 2016 in memory of my late Taekwondo instructor/mentor James Rich. However, some how time marched on (and on and on) and so it is now a single training recap.

I had wanted to start training a little earlier than I did, but sometimes life gets away from you. Or rather, it confuses you as it runs away FROM you. (The older you get the faster it seems to move.) Then when you stop to look around, you say “[expletive of choice]! Where did the time go?” That was me. I had wanted to “officially” start training on August 1st in anticipation that I would be representing my District in the blockbuster hit: Flying Monkey Marathon X, May the Hills Be Ever in Your Favor. Each year, the race has a different “theme” and the one for 2015 race was based on The Hunger Games series.

2015 Flying Monkey Marathon

The premise is that I would treat the Flying Monkey Marathon on 11/22/2015 as a training run. Ideally, I would run ANOTHER marathon maybe as another training run in early December. The Rocket City Marathon on Dec 12th was a great candidate because it was relatively close (Huntsville, AL) and it is a flat course. So after the undulating hills of the Flying Monkey (Nashville, TN) it would be a nice scenario to attempt a Sub-4hr marathon. However, there was a failure to launch for Rocket City and the elusive Sub-4hr attempt would have to wait.

Congratulations, it’s a Monkey!

The Flying Monkey marathon is very popular for those runners who like hills that hurt you. For the past couple of years they have used a weighted lottery to choose who be running. Apparently there are enough crazy people who want to run that they have to limit the number. While the actual weighing of criteria is an ancient Chinese secret, it is possible that someone who has run the Monkey multiple times (I had run Flying Monkey 5 times previous) could not get a spot. Fortunately for me, the lottery went in my favor and I was going to The Monkey Games.

Pneumonia Road Bump

In mid August, I started to feel sick, but it never lasted more than a day or two and the symptoms changed. There was overwhelming fatigue one time, a super sore throat another, neither of which was accompanied with a fever. Without having a fever or chest congestion, I thought it might be allergies. In early September, almost 2 weeks since my initial symptoms, when I still felt bad with new symptoms, I decided that I would go see the doctor. Turns out, whatever “it” was decided it would turn into pneumonia.

I have had pneumonia multiple times, and there are certain warning signs that throw up Red Flags that I am on my way to getting (or already have) pneumonia. However, none of the ailments presented themselves like they were supposed to, so only because they wouldn’t go away did I seek counsel on what was going on.

As a result of my diagnosis, I went on antibiotics and took a 9 day hiatus from both running and Taekwondo. Training suspended.

Damn the 10% Rule, Full Speed Ahead

By the last few weeks of September, I was healthy again and ready to “restart” my training. At this time, I was already 6 weeks behind on my training for Flying Monkey, but I still had enough time for The Pistol. I decided that I need to take some big leaps in training to try to “catch up” or rather “not be too far behind” in my training.

There is a Rule of Thumb in running called “The 10% Rule”. It suggests that you should increase the length of your workouts (overall mileage, long runs, speed workouts, etc.) by 10% from week to week. The premise is that this progression helps the body transition to the rigors of the longer runs (or faster workouts) better without exposing one to injury. It is also one reason a marathon training program lasts 16+ weeks or more. Build the mileage up step by step, mile by mile.

With 8 weeks before the Flying Monkey and my longest run of my training a whopping 10 miles, I had to push the limit a little. Disclaimer: As a seasoned runner, I have a good feel for what I can and cannot do when it comes to running. This won’t work for everyone.

I started with a 13.5 mile long run at 8 weeks out. This was followed with a 13.3 mile run the following week. Then at 6 weeks out I made the big jump with a 23.4 mile run. Normal training program has a “Recovery Week” after a very long run, so my run at 5 weeks out was supposed to be around 16 miles, but I only ran 2 because I had some problems and I didn’t want to be that far from home.  So I took 5 weeks out as basically a Rest Week.

4 weeks out was a 18.6 mile run. However, the next weekend, which was Halloween, I was just too busy for a long run and recorded 0.0 miles for my long run. This trend continued and I didn’t have anymore long runs before race day. I was able to get a handful of 4-5 mile runs in during the week. Also, I was going to Taekwondo class multiple times a week, so it’s not like I was sedentary.

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Flying Monkey Marathon (Nashville, TN)

Monkey, Monkey, Monkey!

On November 22nd, I ran Flying Monkey in just under 5 hours. As I mentioned above, this was a training run, so I wasn’t trying to run for a certain time. I haven’t written the Race Report for Flying Monkey yet, but I’ll go more into details there.

The Flying Monkey was 6 weeks out (that Magical Week) from The Pistol. I didn’t come away from Flying Monkey unscathed and my chiropractor put me back on the right path the Monday after.  The next weekend I took as a Rest Week (5 weeks out). It was Thanksgiving and we were out of town. I almost decided to run a 10k but decided it would be better to rest than to race. Tough decision to make but never underestimate the power of a rest day.

It Beginning To Look Like Race Day

With it now being December, just 1 month left before Race Day, I took another Rest Week. Also at the beginning of December, I tested (and passed) for my Second Degree Black Belt and didn’t want to be distracted from what I needed I to do to earn it.

Me and Mr. Church at awards night with my brand new 2nd degree Black Belt
Me and Mr. Church at awards night with my brand new 2nd degree Black Belt

The next weekend, 3 weeks out – Dec 12 (when I had wanted to run another marathon), I ran 24.3 miles. I decided I would run from my house to Eddie’s Health Shoppe (about 8.3 miles away) where I would meet up with the Knoxville Marathon Training Group and run with them (6 miles) and then run home (around 10 miles based on the route). It ended up being kind of fun. I ran a little faster than normal going to the training group as I didn’t want to be late. Then ran closer to my 10k pace because I ran/talked with another running for 3 miles, but then was slower for the last half of the run.

Since the pattern of a 20+ mile run followed by a rest week seemed to work fairly well this training cycle, I decided that at the 2 week out point, I take another rest week.

So it is 1 week before the Pistol 50k. The rain that we have been having has moved on and I’ll get one more long run (about 12 miles or so) in before Race Day. I’m also going to try to get in 2 mid-week runs of about 4 miles. This helps with the nerves during Race Week when the looming race is only days away and the anxiety of the unknown envelopes me.

It’s time now to get into #WarriorMode !

Monkey Wrench

My nemesis, Pneumonia, decided to pay me a visit last week and throw a monkey wrench into my life.  Thankfully, this go around is of the lesser impact type and can be treated with medicine and patience.

I knew that it had been a while since pneumonia decided to show it’s ugly face. Using the search feature, I was able to find a few references to when I had it back in December 2010. I have had it a couple of times in the past and even have warning symptoms that throw up red flags. This particular time, there wasn’t the standard order of symptoms, they all seem to be unique and unrelated. My guess, is that I was experiencing several little things, that opened the door for it. However, since these little things kept me feeling ill for over a week, when the pneumonia finally set in, I was already at the doctor’s getting medicine. So, they helped catch it early on.

One of the biggest impact of my illness is to my running. Specifically, my training for 2 upcoming races: Flying Monkey Marathon (Nov) and The Pistol 50k (Jan).

Training for Flying Monkey was supposed to have started 4 weeks ago in mid-August. Since August 1st, I was in a “base” mode, where I didn’t really worry about workouts/distance, just get some mileage under my belt. With not feeling well, since around August 20th or so, I hadn’t ran hardly anything. In fact, my log book says 0.0. At best, I’ll be able start running again during the weekend, but that’ll be bare-bones type of mileage, with only 10 weeks until race day. Thankfully, this isn’t my first time toeing the line for a marathon. I’m just going to have to be very creative. I won’t have any miracle workout that will get me a personal record or even a course record on Race Day. I’ll get from the Start Line to the Finish Line without killing myself (much).

The 2nd race, The Pistol 50k which I am running in memory of James Rich #WarriorMode, is still okay in terms of time to train. The Flying Monkey is one training component for The Pistol, and I am hoping for a good run at Flying Monkey to help bridge the 6-7 week gap between the 2 races.

As of writing of this post, I’m finished with the antibiotic protocol but still have an inhaler to keep the lungs open and drive everything out. I’ve also been resting when I can, but still have a few days before I start getting back into moderate exercise.

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Warrior Mode – Pistol 50k

People are Strange, when you’re a Runner…

Runners, on a stereotypical level, do some pretty strange stuff. It’s not just going out of their way to run for enjoyment, they can do some strange things in the name of Running. Some have some good luck rituals in which they believe will help them like a nice drink of Liquid Luck, some will go out of their way to do some pretty (insane) Tough Runs and some others will use their running as a psychological release.

I am guilty of all three.  I have documented some of it here on my blog. While I’m not “big” on the ritual aspects like whether I ties my shoe laces in a clockwise or a counter clockwise motion, I do like a significant challenge in my races (MONKEY! MONKEY! MONKEY!) and use my running for my psychological needs.

A few conditions are associated with running. On the positive note, there is the “Runner’s High” which is the euphoric feeling one gets from running. Not to be confused with the light headed feeling of almost passing out because running can be hard work. On the negative side, there is the “Marathon Blues” which occurs right after a marathon, when the massive accomplishment of weeks (and weeks) of training culminates into a memory at the finish line, leaving the runner asking “What’s Next?” There is even something called “Taper Madness”, a condition that starts approximately 2-3 weeks before a Marathon when the training moves into a stage called “The Taper”. This is the stage of training where the overall number of miles per week and the long run distances are reduced leading up to race day. After weeks of running lots and lots of miles, one begins to question the logic of a training program when it says they only have to run 8 miles for their long run. Madness, I tell you, Madness.

Runner’s also use their running to mourn, celebrate and even advocate. Many, MANY charities have been supported by efforts of the runner. Charities can be supported by someone wearing their shirt, running in a race sponsored by a charity, or by raising money. It’s common to see someone wearing a shirt or have something pinned to their shirt that says something to the effect of: “I’m running in memory of….” . I’ve done similar things in the past and will be doing it again.

On May 15th, Mr. James Rich passed away from a battle with a very aggressive cancer. Just his diagnosis of cancer was a huge shock this past January and his passing devastated many. He was our Taekwondo Instructor, our colleague and our friend. He just got people.  I don’t know how many times I saw him bring out the best of people during Taekwondo. It was truly amazing.

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March 2013 at Lexington Regional Tournament

When he was diagnosed with cancer and started to battle it, the mantra he used was “Warrior Mode”. His intention was to fight and beat the cancer with a warrior’s tenacity, never give up and never give in. I wear wristband that says “Team Rich, Warrior Mode” and everyone in my family has a “Team Rich Warrior Mode” t-shirt.

July 29th 2015 would have been his 51st birthday. He died too early. But while his earthly body is gone, his memory lives on. As of writing this post, I, personally have had no closure. While I was saddened to hear that he past, I was more relieved that he was no longer in pain. There was initially talk of having a celebration of life for him in Knoxville, but it didn’t happen.  So with nothing formal, I’ve had not really mourned in the way I need to mourn.  Jen keeps asking me if I have broken down yet and I have not, at least, not yet.

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October 2014 upon earning my 1st Degree Decided Black Belt

Mr. Rich was a great person. He was a lot of things, but he had his faults. I can tell you one fault of his, one thing that he was NOT… and that would be a Runner. He stuck to the “I only run if I’m chased by a bear.” I never got a chance to tell him that he was lying to me about that.  He would never be chased by a bear, he would turn his head slowly at the bear, raise one eyebrow and give it the “stare”. It wouldn’t be him doing the running.

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So, it is with great irony that I announce that I will be Running in memory him. It will be MY celebration of life for HIM. He was 50 years old when he passed, so I wanted to try to tie in the number 50 or some variant of it (e.g. 5 or 500 or 5,000). He also liked guns, and that got me thinking about a local race called “The Pistol”.  It is a 50 kilometer race (so it ties in nicely with “50”) and what BETTER way to celebrate the life of a Non-Runner than by running an ultramarathon! So with great fanfare [trumpets blare] I’m running the Pistol 50k (31 miles) on January 2nd 2016 in memory of James Rich.

Jan 4, 2014 8:00AM

I’m not sure what I will being doing more on race day in January, crying or sweating, but I know I’ll be doing both. #WarriorMode