have to keep picking myself up and moving forward. Personally, I don’t like living like this, and I certainly doubt no one else does either in spite of what some philosophers and Hollywood movies say. And worst of all, when this sort of thing starts happening, I get lazy. I’ll admit these past few weeks have illustrated some issues in my workout ethic, and it has mostly been with my running. With the sudden chill of winter finally hitting Arizona, the poorly adjusted version of myself has been talking the fitness version of myself out of doing things. And who can really blame me? While I have a good running path near my house, perfect for the times I have no car, it gets pretty darn cold at night. When the wind starts blowing and the air sits still, any benign breeze turns the runway into a cold tunnel, making the blackness of the evening even more foreboding. What makes the winter nights of Arizona so much stranger is the fact it feels darker, like the reflection of the sun is completely gone and the night becomes blacker than the blackest black times infinity. Of course, these are all the excuses I have been using to avoid the night running, even though I have a pretty good night light to work with. When I have been running, I have been mostly running during the day, which makes for a much better proposition for me since the weather is closer to 70 degrees rather than 50. And if anything, it helps with the preparation, and by that I mean preparation for Ragnar Del Sol.
While my shoes are running thin and my body is still a little pudgy, I got to get started. It’s a bit of a dire situation for me, merely from the perspective that I have to run 23.1 miles over the span of some 33 hours. The only good thing I will be looking forward to is the fact most of my running will be on flat land, which makes for an easier training regimen leading up to the big day. Preferably, I like to run routes that have a little bit of theatrics to it, whether it be a straight incline-decline curvature to it or it has multiple areas that make my legs scream with anger or spots that allow me to coast on the downturn. So the next couple months are almost exclusively going to be about me running and wishing I was a better runner and me wondering why I am running so much and me hating the very sport of running. Yup, I have a feeling I’m going to ride that roller coaster a few times before the weekend of February 20. And then I still have the pressure of finding a couple runners to fill out the van I am running in, for so far I have filled two of the four spots that were left open and I’m now going to have to start recruiting--gulp!--outside of my conventional running windows. It’s kind of scary, for this is the type of stuff that is going to make me wish I had gotten to know a few more people while growing up or worked some jobs that had healthier people or worse yet, join a fraternity or club. Yup, I can imagine myself in a fraternity, only it would be closer to Lambda Lambda Lambda than Phi Beta Theta of Tappa Kegga Bru.
I make this bold proclamation to finally get myself in a full on training mode because of this past week, which of course is an all-out excuse to gorge on food and do nothing but watch football. But then again, that is the difference between a plant based Thanksgiving as opposed to a regular Thanksgiving. Much like last year, I decided to work my magic with pasta and create a couscous dish for the ages. This year I didn’t screw up on the recipe and buy grape tomatoes, instead getting the slightly smaller cherry tomatoes like I was supposed to. I also refused to add the mint, merely due to the economics of my situation and the fact it just overwhelmed the taste. Now don’t get me wrong, the recipe was great and the couscous were all eaten up, but I opted to do something different by making it more lemon based with a healthy helping of pepper, cutting back on the salt in the process and brazing the tomatoes with a higher quality brand of extra virgin olive oil. The result created a rather familiar sequence at the huge Thanksgiving dinner we had. Everyone had a piece of the action, and while I made it specifically for my mother, she ended up with just a small helping at the end of the night. If anything, it really pleased me in regards to my cooking, for one thing I hate to do is make a whole bunch of food then not have it eaten. I think my bad reputation continues to precede me. My entire family seems to regard me as the guy with the iron stomach, which is pretty much the truth when you consider how hot I like to have my food. My “Heater” chili is more of an urban legend than a reality in some circles. If anything, when the family realized I didn’t chalk my food up with cayenne and jalapeños, it was open season!
Anyway, up to that point in the week, I had been kind of getting lazy. Even though I was quite mindful about how much I ate at the party, that was merely for the fact I didn’t run until Thanksgiving Day! Yup, while other people were working or protesting or doing both, I finally got my butt moving, and it was almost midday when I finally pulled myself out of my chair to do it. I guess I had hit a small bout of depression over the fact I learned not only did I have serious problems with my crank shaft igniter (among other things), my timing belt had gone bad as well! It was the worst and most discouraging coincidence when I found that out, merely because all went out at once. It was almost like the day I found out my old Honda Accord had water in just about everything except the water pump and radiator. It’s kind of strange how bad news affects us all, and for me, it turned into outright abuse. A mere few hours after hearing the news, I went through one of the toughest leg workouts I had ever put myself through. I jokingly called the workout “Indiana Jones and the Lost Trilogy.” I made the joke because if you ever saw Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, when Indy and his friend keep reminiscing about stuff, it makes you wonder “Was there another trilogy between this movie and The Last Crusade we didn’t know about?” Anyway, I took on 50 Squat push-presses and 50 front squats. Now, 115 pounds doesn’t seem like much, but after the 20th rep or so, it starts to add up. I also did some jumping pull-ups, which also put a lot of stress on the calves.
I was pretty sore the next day after that, and so I skipped out on my customary Tuesday run. I ended up doing yet another tough workout on Wednesday that featured more leg killing, with 100 lunges and 40 box jumps. I mostly killed myself with the 90 push-ups, but hey, it was all in good fun. It was kind of strange though, for I had gotten my car back that day but opted not to drive to Reid Park just for the heck of it. I opted to do a short run in the morning, which turned into 11 a.m., meaning I was running in close to 80-degree weather. Fortunately, I didn’t get too tired out, but then again, with all of the good food at my disposal, I had plenty of energy to last me until the next day. I decided to take Friday off, merely because my old friend was in town and wanted to see the big rivalry game between the University of Arizona and Arizona St. I’ll admit, I did some stress drinking, tapping back a few ales, but it was needed. At the beginning of the day, it was just a game against our rival. By the end, it was the Pac-12 South Championship. It was a nerve wracking roller coaster ride to say the least, and I didn’t really want to run at all that night. So I saved it for Saturday morning, and I decided to run an old friend.
Sabino Canyon has always been one of my favorite courses due to the challenge and the length of the run, and Saturday wasn’t much different. I was still sore, possibly a little dehydrated from two days worth of drinking (I didn’t drink much, but it was still a lot for me!) and tired from the fact I was pretty wired from an eventful day. I was going to go slow, and I was thankful my running partner Jaime was also sore from running Tumamoc Hill a couple days before, for I don’t think I would have been able to keep up with her if her body had been free and clear of soreness. The pace may have been slow, but I still managed to do the whole run without a hitch. But the best part of the run came near the top, when you reach the near summit and it feels like you are running up a 45-degree ramp or something. This older fella, seeing me battle up the slope, gave me a little encouragement. I gave him a compliment for being a better runner than me, especially since he looked way older. Turns out he was 70, and said it was good genetics for his strength. I answered “Well, I’m starting right now so I’m more like you rather than sick and weak when I’m 70.” He seemed to get a kick out of that, and the compliment gave him an extra boost as he trudged up the mountain a little faster. While my final time was pretty brutal, I took it as a win due to the fact I had slacked off so much during the week. Either way, this past weekend pretty much became my rallying cry. I got to start training, and training hard.
So for the next few weeks, I intend to run at least five miles twice a week, and then go with the flow on the weekend now that I am able to rejoin Jon and Christa. Hopefully they change their mind and join the Ragnar team, which would be the second year in a row that we would have a pretty awesome van of runners. But I got to take care of business, and that time starts now!
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