Sunday, February 24, 2008

Columbia 10 mile race

Last week, I wrote about trying to take the "express lane" to getting in a good racing shape. So, I feel like I should tell you that I did what I usually dont do again today. I raced ... no, not a 3.1 mile/5K race or 10K, but ... a 10 mile race! I raced without any base milage, without any workouts under my belt, without warming up, without pants or long tights and it was some 30 degrees Fahrenheit! I did the Columbia 10 mile club challenge.

Honestly, I did not think I was going to race until about 5 minutes before the start of the race although I was prepared to race. I had a million reasons NOT to race but since it was a team event, I really did not want to be that guy.

I was really unprepared for the race. I did not even know where it was (had a general idea). I usually look up where my races are and do some homework on how the races had fared the previous years. I didnt do that for this race.

My friend, Ryan a.k.a Elf (the one guy who has really made a positive impact in holding Baltimore running in one piece) warned me that the course was tough. But I was not prepared to climb all the mountains they had there. You know how they say that for every uphill there a downhill?I dont remember seeing any downhills. I am sure they were there but I was probably busy recovering from all the torturous climbs that came prior to them. I was able to hold myself in one piece and ended up running about 6 minutes faster than I thought I was going to run. I did it in 54:34. I promised myself to be in a better shape in four weeks. Ryan wrote a race recap.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Traveling the Americas with an ass?

(Picture courtesy of NYTimes).

I just finished reading a story in NYTimes about this guy, Jon, who is traveling the Americas with nothing but an ass. The ass is named Judas and no one seems to know how that name came about. I have seen and read crazy things, but this one is new. I would love to meet this guy.

Apparently, he started from Portland, OR, walked south. Ended up somewhere in Tamaulipas state in nothern Mexico. Here, he learned how to milk and was given a donkey. He and the Judas the donkey have been travelling for the past two years heading South and are now somewhere in Venezuela. He is a biochemist (a crazy one nonetheless, I think this makes me look saner?) and has been mistaken for an athlete, a missionary and ... a spy! I am surprised no one has robbed his ass, all pun intended! But one thing I noticed is, Mexican people are nice. I agree.

Monday, February 18, 2008

I'll never run that long again

Have you ever pushed your body to the limits? That point where you are almost surpassing your tensile strength? Depending on how you look at it, there are tons of ways you can answer this question. Maybe you have been pushed to some emotional limits or physical limits or intellectual limits or xyz limits.

Many a times, such events are a consequence of our quest for superiority over something. For example, maybe you just want to prove to yourself that you can get that which you want, regardless of what it takes.

Why am I saying this? Let me tell you about an experience I had recently.

At this time of the year, I usually run moderate milage in preparation for the upcoming season. Since graduating from the NCAA type of seasons (cross country in the fall followed by indoor track in the winter and then outdoor track in the spring), I have adopted the single season mentality. I just get myself ready for road races and anything that has $$ and fun. Road racing "starts" (there are always road races all over the US) around March for me.

The Mexico saga threw my schedule off. As such, I did not really train much for about two months which means I am out of shape. At the time when I was dealing with my visa issues, I never really thought of staying in running shape. Well, except that one time when I took my running clothes to Ciudad Juarez, only to be stuck there without a visa. That "strangled" my attempt to maintain my running shape.

You might be wondering what I meant by moderate milage. Let me clarify that a bit. Last year at about this time, I was averaging about 50 miles per week. My longest run was 19 miles. This year, my average milage is 5 miles per week and my longest run had been 8 miles. I call what I did last year moderate milage.

Well, I need to get in shape quick. There are so many upcoming races that I want to do but for those of you who know me, I dont just go to races to run. I go to compete. It is fun that way. This means I have to be in shape or I cant compete.

This past Saturday, I decided to take the express lane to getting in shape. It also happens to be an express lane to getting injured, depending on what you do during and after your run. I decided that I would increase my long run from 8 miles to ... take a guess ... 2 hours. Two-hour runs usually range from 17-20 miles depending on what shape I am in and what I am trying to accomplish from the run.

I was a little skeptical of my run and I was afraid I wasnt going to finish it. But I did convince myself that I would not run any faster than 7-minute pace and that I would slow down if need be. I hit the first mile in 7:20 and was at mile four at 28 minutes. I wasnt feeling great, but I knew it usually takes me about that long to warm up especially when it is cold. For the next 50 minutes, I felt like a champ! I was cruising and feeling great. At this point, I had an option of heading home which would have taken me 15 minutes. This would have put me a little over 1.5 hours total. Since I was feeling good, I decided to add a 25 minute loop. Finishing this loop and heading home would have given me exactly two hours of running, just as I had planned.

I finished the loop feeling like I owned it. I almost did some sprints in between my run just to celebrate how I was feeling.

Turns out, my body could only handle 10 extra minutes. I didnt know this then but I could tell going slightly uphill that things were going to be rough at some point. For those of you who know where I live, you have seen that there is a 1-mile climb to my house. It is not that big of an elevation but it is one that will deliver the final punch when it needs to.

I only made it two minutes into the hill. It usually takes me about 5-7 minutes to complete it. I couldnt move my legs, my head started spinning, I started swaying to the sides ... I had never really hit the wall in my life.

(For those of you who dont know what hitting the wall means, watch the video below. Even elite athletes, like marathoner Kayoko Fukushi of Japan hit the wall).

Finally, I stopped. I walk home. For the first time in my life, I walked home from a run. No, I did not jog, I WALKED. I a little over a half a mile to go. I couldnt imagine myself face planting and possibly inflicting more harm than those I had already caused. My total milage was 17.26 miles for the 1 hour 55 minutes that I was out running. I swore never to run that long again but as I write this, I know that in two weeks I will be doing the same thing. Only this time, I will actually go for two hours non stop.

Here is a Google Earth capture of my long run route. Can you see the disconnect from the start point and the finish point? Click on the image to see the route I followed.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Long time no see

Hey. Its been a while. I am still alive!

The artwork above is by my favorite Kenyan cartoonist Kham. It doesnt have anything to do with the ongoing crisis, but it speaks loudly about it. It reads ["Welcome to Kenya, No worries ... (but we might choke you? or we choke chicken? Well, the government does choke everything)]

I have been meaning to write something here. I am thinking of doing a weekly type of thing. My friend Kevin said I should have a weekly write-up where I present life through my eyes. He called it kipservations. I doubt it is going to be anything exciting on a weekly basis but there are some things that happen in my presence that I usually dont tell. But now that you (the blog) are my best friend, I will tell you some of these things.

Anyway, life after Mexico has been good. The entire Mexico trip turned out to be almost pointless since I am cancelling my homecoming a.k.a surprise family visit to Kenya. I cannot afford to be a victim of police brutality and all the hatred going on there. My younger brother has already been victimized. We still havent recovered from that and I think that is enough for now.

Yea, so all's been well, except soon after I got back from Mexico, I got a cold that was followed by an ear infection. I am finishing my atibiotics dose in two days time. It wasnt that bad, but I should tell you that if you yell out really loud (do it now) I cannot hear you. But its getting better, except I got every single side effect mentioned in the package. I never take drugs, so my buddy must be pissed off about it.

I have also converted to Linux operating system and soon getting rid of Windows XP. Linux is entirely free/open source. The learning curve is steep, but no one ever said learning was easy. Its like learning a new language, except there is no one to talk to but yourself. Yea, I am nuts. I like soliloquy ... but this involves a keyboard and a terminal. What type of soliloquy is this?

I also wanted to post a link to Thao Nguyen's podcast of my last trip to Mexico. She takes great pictures. She converted some of the pictures into a video type of thing with me narrating a few things here and there. Check it out here I had never heard myself speak ... what an accent!