By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training, Tucson, Arizona
November 15, 2015
There is always one little problem I have when it comes to doing a race….there is always that post race lull. It’s kind of a strange problem for me, and I can only assume it is because of the build-up in my mind. You have all the preparation, the expectations and the training that goes into such an endeavor, often times taking months to finally come to fruition. In regards to Ragnar Las Vegas, you also have the extra hassle of getting a hotel room and taking some extra time off to account for the travel. It’s nothing like doing Ragnar Del Sol, when you can just drive home the night you finish. When I finished my first half marathon last year, there was a real sadness in the ending, for the process, in spite of the training in the Arizona heat, was actually quite joy to partake in due to the fact I tested my running distances. Perhaps that longing was why I took on the Arizona Distance Classic without any real training. If I could've done that one all over again, I would have said no and moved on. I mean, I was hurting for a good week and I couldn’t run for nearly two due to the mistakes I made on that particular run, starting with the idea of compressing my calves and running far too fast for my own good. But that is the lesson you learn in that situation, and I have come to understand that being ready for any race at any time is something I should start thinking about for the foreseeable future. Anyway, there is always that sense of disappointment when the whole thing issued and done, especially when you don’t have another scheduled run to look forward to. I could do Ragnar Del Sol again, but that is a long shot. I’m most certainly considering the Arizona Distance Classic again, but it is all about the money at the moment. So with all of this being said and done, I must be a wreck right now, right?
For the first time ever, I actually felt pretty good once Ragnar Las Vegas was over. I think all of the collective anxiety of the race was terminated when my team finally passed the finish line and got our medals. Even though I was fatigued and had a hard time relaxing afterward, there was a really strong sense of pride that hit me when I got home on Sunday. To put it in perspective, I wasn’t just another participant, I was a major factor. Typically, I was just there to run and do my thing, but this time around, I really felt like I made a substantial difference in the outcome, and that seemed to be something that was missing in all of the previous races I have done up to this point. The one thing I always enjoyed in regards doing a team based activity is the fact we all have to perform, and perform well. I feel when you do a race for yourself, it is pretty easy to get disappointed, especially if you are a control freak like me that wants to see improvement in just about every race he participates in. You see, I was never really good enough to make a substantial difference when I used to play organized sports. Despite my size and my perceived athleticism, I just never had the right combination of tools to really succeed in anything. I was decent in soccer, but lacked the dribbling and the control to be a better player. The same came with basketball, for I was just never quick enough or had good enough ball handling skills to make it (though I was a good passer though, hehe). The same went for volleyball, where my lack of real jumping ability made it easy to pass me over. So yeah, I was kind of a bench warmer for the most part, which is why like many in my old profession, decided to cover sports and try watching it for a living. Despite my inability to be much of an athlete, I find it rewarding to be a part of something I know I helped out on.
I have to say, the postscript for my race this past weekend has been filled with anomalies. Like I mentioned before, I usually fall into a funk and kind of wish for more races to hurry up. But while I was working on Monday, I really felt different. I was working the trucks, in spite of all the running I had done that weekend. I never felt tired or overwhelmed or even sore. I secretly kind of put down one of my co-workers who was complaining about the work (even though it was a slow day) by telling him all the stuff I did this past weekend. Some people assumed I had taken the weekend off, but that was far from the truth of course. Try telling people you went Las Vegas to run a race rather than party and yo get some odd looks in your direction. Anyway, I quickly got back on the horse in regards to my training, hitting the gym early on Tuesday. I didn’t really want to focus on anything in particular, but just do something that would challenge me and get the body moving. I started out with some chest presses, using the 55-pound dumbbells and doing sets of eight. I originally was only going to do five rounds, but for some reason, my body responded well and I opted for six rounds. Without so much as a rest, I went into bent over rows using the same dumbbells, going six rounds with eight reps. This was actually a slight leg up for me, for I typically use the 25-KG kettle bells for the exercise (53 pounds). I did some light overhead presses as well to get the whole body going, keeping it light at 115 pounds so not to completely tire myself out. After adding some skip squats and “Around the World’s” with a 35-pound plate, I called it the day in relation to working out. You see, I had a much bigger idea the next night.
I figured with the running fire still in my lungs, I had an idea in regards to meeting a friend of mine. You see, he wanted to try out a restaurant with me called Veg in a Box on Wednesday, and for some reason, I got this idea. While doing some house sitting for my parents, I figured it would be an eight-mile run between the two points, and I had the whole thing ready and planned out….until my friend started changing stuff up on me. Of course, I was still able to implement my plan so to speak, but instead of running in broad daylight, I ended up running in the night time. Now, the only difference with the plan is the fact running to my parent’s house was at an incline, but it wasn’t a huge one. Nonetheless, the end result was the same. I had never attempted such a long distance for my first run after any race, and it was quite the challenge. When I mean challenge, I mean it was a challenge to go slow!! It was rather funny, despite still being tired and burned out from the weekend, I crushed that little jaunt, running 8.03 miles in 76 minutes. The weirdest part of the run was the fact I didn’t drink any water throughout the duration. I didn’t really notice it until I started passing my neighborhood along the Santa Cruz River Walk and realized I hadn’t had any water over the course of the first five miles or so. Since I was conscious of the detail, I opted just to see how far I could go without liquids. Well, I may have drank half my camel pack when I got to my parent’s house, it was still a good moment for me. To become an elite runner, one must learn to restrict their water intake so they can run without a burdensome water pack like I do. It harkened back to my final run in Las Vegas, where I had a scorching 9:09-per mile average even though I was thoroughly tired and the weather was hot. Not having my pack certainly helps with my speed.
Now, I was pretty tired when I woke up the next day, but it didn’t really affect me much at the gym. Jon had me do another strength based work that would put everything to work again. While I once again kept things light, focusing on effort rather than strength, it still rounded out into a solid workout. I did 50 bench presses at 135 pounds and then turned that around to do 50 reverse grip rows with the same weight. I also did some dead lifts, something I hadn’t really done in quite a while, and pounded out 50 at 225 pounds. I finished the day off with some side raises and leg lifts, for I was already feeling it at that time considering I was still recovering from the hell I put myself through the previous night. But it wasn’t like I was going to take it easy on myself the next night. Not one bit!
I have to say, I was really charged up on Friday. I don’t why. For some reason, I had it in my head once again to go for another eight-mile run, and this time it would be at my favorite running spot—Reid Park. I was a little side tracked because I had to meet an appliance repairman at my parent’s house (the fridge went bad, and guess who had to clean it out earlier that day, hehe). Nonetheless, I strapped on my camel pack and took off like the wind. One detail that indicates how good of a run I am having is whether the first half mile (that is how my RunKeeper measures) is being done at a rate faster than 10 minutes per mile. Usually I start my first mile pretty slow, but that night was burning out at nine and half minutes per mile. I didn’t know if I would be able to keep this pace up, but I at least had the opportunity to keep all my mileage markers under ten minutes. That was the simple goal for the night. As I moved along, I started getting faster! When I ran the fifth and sixth miles, I was averaging nine minutes per mile! That’s pretty amazing for me, for usually that is the time I start to slow it down to conserve my energy for the run. But I think my body and my mind knew I was going full tilt, and I kept the pace fast all the way until the end. All in all, I was actually faster on the back half my run than I was on the front half. I averaged maybe 9:21 per mile on the first half of the run and about 9:05 on the back half. It was kind of funny seeing my running app tell me “A New Personal Best” for the distance, for I wasn’t even going for that at the beginning of the run, finishing with a 9:13-per mile average. Heck, my body was still pretty sore from the Tuesday run, which meant I kind of added to the litany by going so hard. However doing my fastest eight mile run a week after doing my most grueling eight mile run is something I will take.
Honestly, who knows what the heck happened to me this past week. It wasn’t like I was having a good week or anything. I was kind of all over the place this past week, going between my place and my parent’s house, so I was pretty distracted. I lost out on another job offer when I got an all too typical “We’re not interested” email from yet another company, which means I will definitely be shipping all the world’s Frozen and Star Wars merchandise (you’re welcome, hehe). And I also had to give away a sweet little pup that I finally got the chance to rescue, knowing full well he would have been great with my two little pups, but living restrictions by my landlord forbid me from having a third dog. Personally, I don’t know why I did so well this week in regards to all my physical endeavors. Maybe this was just a way for my body to tell me start training harder and faster, for that body I want may be closer than ever. Plus, with the Arizona Distance Classic coming sooner than later and Jon wanting me to enter a deadlift contest, the new year might be pretty eventful for me. But let’s see what happens during December first, shall we?
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.
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