Monday, November 29, 2010

I'm not as sick as I feel.

I guess running while sick is like running when injured.  Your family and "friends" tell me to slow down and take it easy.

You gotta rest.

Don't push to hard.

Continuing to exercise while (insert ailment here) will only cause more problems down the road.

All valid reasons to not exercise and risk overdoing anything.  But I am not that amenable to "rest" when I haven't "earned" it.  I like to think I know my body and tell the difference between feeling icky and being truly sick.

For the past two weeks I have suffered in stages, from the nagging sore throat to drippy nose and finally occasional cough.  It really sapped my energy a few days.  But I can say that when I laced them up (actually my VFFs use velco, but the reference isn't as cool) I had the energy to run where and how long I wanted to go.  I'm proud of that.

Why stay inside and stew in my own germs when I can get outside and give my lungs a solid air exchange for one to two hours.  My sinuses cleared out in the process as well.

This takes me back to running with an injury.  I think my focus on doing so has shifted somewhat recently.  I blogged previously how I try to run no matter what.  Injury and pain were things to be ignored.  Now I see the scenario in a different light.  The pain I have dealt with in the past few months were not injuries in the clinical sense.  No stress fractures.  No sprains or strains.  Nothing torn or ruptured.  And nothing broken.  What I have dealt with have been the result of lazy form and poor focus on the details of running.  Form is an art.  Form must be catered to and constantly supervised.  Allowing form to break down is a sure way to developing bad habits which lead to pain and injury.  But by running through the pains I experience I have learned to course correct and run through the pain to something better.  I am not ignoring and running from, rather I am running along with till the form improves and the "issue" goes away.

If you develop an overuse injury, rest will not cure the injury.  The injury in locked in your form and motion.  Once you resume running, or any form of exercise where form in vital, the old form habits will resume and the injury shall return.  It is only a matter of time.  Learn about your body.  Learn how to move with efficiency and grace.  Learn to listen to you body and when it tells you something is not right.  Then you can learn to correct and overcome the type of overuse injuries that lie in wait for most runners.

The injury you suffer does not spell doom or mark an end your efforts at better health.  It merely is a sign post to take a different direction to a path of more informed movement.  When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Imagine living life without labels.  How would you recognize the policeman or fireman?  Who is the doctor or teacher?  And what about the other important labels like mother/father, sister/brother, parent/child?  Labeling is an important function in that it sets our places in the world and establishes how we each contribute to the global community.

But there are other labels which reinforce negative thoughts.  Being labeled fat, slow, dumb, unworthy are horrible things that unfortunately begin early in life.  Kids learn from adults and do not have a social filter, so labels are tossed around or applied to peers with frightful honesty.  Malicious intent is sometimes part of the equation but usually the negative labels simply pop out.

Hear and see negative labels enough and you may begin to apply those labels to yourself.  It is tough to bear.  When things don't go your way it is easy to sink into acceptance of the labels.  You know no other way.  Maybe you are doomed to be fat because you are.  You are fated to be slow or incapable because you lack the confidence to prove otherwise.

Labels can be self-fulfilling prophesies.  Hear it enough, whether the statements are internal or external in origin, and eventually the label becomes fact.  You are slow because you don't try to go faster.  You are fat because you don't try to get fitter.  You are incapable because you don't explore for hidden talents or unknown aptitudes.  The weight of negative labels can seem crushing.  Even if you have positive people in your corner it can still be difficult to see opportunity for self-improvement.

This was my life.  I never measured up.  I was always near the back of the line.  In fact negative self-talk still dominates in certain areas of my life.  Every morning presents a new challenge to either be what I have been or become what I should be.  Will I escape impending doom or be crushed by the pressure?

Let me share with you a little secret.  From the moment each of us is born we are dying.  While our cells are dividing and we are growing and developing and learning we are all doomed to the same fate.  Morbid I know.  The amazing thing about that fact is that it has the potential to free the mind from fear.  Be cautious, yes.  Be concerned, yes.  But be bold.  Be strong.  Find your focus and make the effort.  Give honest effort in a goal you find worthwhile.

Find a new label you want to wear.  This label could be something you once wore but no longer applies.  It could be a completely new label.  The point is to find something to pull yourself out of self-doubt and negative thoughts.  Find a label that pushes you to be something you currently are not.  Something stronger.  Something better.  Something "more".   Be the light at the end of the tunnel.

This is why I proudly wear the label of "runner".

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Do you stomp or sweep?

I used to be a stomper.

Who learns to run?  Unless you are gifted and talented and part of a high school or college program few of us are able to get the coaching needed to develop proper running form.  Since college I tried running on occasion and was in constant pain.  And because of that pain I never saw running as a joyful activity.

There was even a buddy I went to school with from kindergarten through 12th grade that I could hear running from the end of the block.  I was a thin dude but he stomped like he weighed four hundred pounds.

So I read Chi Running (that again?) and began to get my form in order.  Then I read Born To Run.

The interesting thing about BTR is the multitude of points a reader may take away from the book.  It is a great "story".  It had anecdotal information regarding running form and running shoes.  It even has modern day investigations into our ancestral development as running people.

But for the purpose of this blog and my run this morning my thoughts today went back to BTR and the retelling of the 1994 Leadville Trail ultramarathon.  An American runner was pacing a Raramuri racer though the late stages of the one hundred mile ordeal and noticed something so slight that most people would never perceive its presence.

While running as a pair for several miles through the dark of night along wilderness trails the American noticed that the Raramuri's stride had a very easy wisking sound to it.  As if his feet were brooms sweeping gently across a floor.  For miles nothing but "wisk, wisk, wisk" and the sound of breathing.  However, as they progressed through the night the American became aware that the wisking sound was replaced by a slight crunching sound.  The Raramuri had developed a knee pain and altered his stride ever so little, but it was enough to change the sound of his foot fall.

This can happen to any of us.  Most runners (and I was one of the masses) adopt iPods and earphones as mandatory running gear to survive a run.  The noise (my word) is required to drown out the sound of our breathing.  The sounds of traffic.  The unwelcome conversation of other runners.  And the plaintive cries of our own mind to cease this ridiculous endeavor and go find the nearest air conditioned (or heated) couch.

The problem is that your body is urgently trying to communicate with you.  It has vital information to relay about the terrain, stride length, form, and energy levels.  Ignore or miss any of these cues and you may be heading down a blind alley to disaster.  Don't fear the sounds you make when running.  I like to run as silently as possible.  One guy I ran with briefly in my marathon said I was like Bigfoot drifting soundlessly through the forest.  A compliment I suppose.

My goal with each run, regardless of planned distance or desired pace, is to be a sweeper.  I must be light.  I need to smooth.  I have to run easy.  If I run outside of my best form my feet began to slap the ground and suddenly I'm on my heels and setting the stage for any number of setbacks.

Be a stomper and pound your body to dust.  Be a sweeper and clear away the debris to increase the odds of running pain-free.  When running we use sight and touch to navigate through the world.  Add the sense of hearing and discover where running takes you.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Now what?

I am five days removed from my first marathon.  I still marvel at the notion of completing this goal.  However am itching for something more.  I feel like the mountain climber who had just summited to only survey the horizon for the peak.  This is not to say that I have pushed aside the accomplishment, or forgotten anything about the ordeal I endured.  As I retreated down "the mountain" I have replayed the training cycle and the race itself for mistakes made and lessons learned.  These lessons may not apply to everyone.  These lessons work for me.

A high octane life needs high octane fuel.  

Are you a garbage disposal or do you choose what you eat for maximal metabolic efficiency?

I dropped soda and (most) junk food.  Fast food rarely touches my lips.  Beer is an occasional treat, not a daily staple.  Once I committed to running twenty-six point two I knew things had to change.  For too long I was overweight and slow and sad.  If I am to train for a marathon I need to train my diet, I needed to get control of urges and impulses.  I knew that to run farther and faster I had to run better.  For me that also meant eating better.

Denial and sacrifice are not bad things if I enjoy the results.  

You can't always get what you want.  But sometimes you find that you get what you need (where did that come from?).

Someone once said to eat, drink and be merry for we are not promised tomorrow.  I say live like tomorrow is guaranteed, so that you may make tomorrow better than today.  I am happy to have replaced the hangover with muscle fatigue.  It seems a worthy reward for the person I want to be.

If you are afraid of losing the enjoyment in life, sacrificing the foods and drinks that make life fun, review what you do eat.  What on that list aids your training?  What on the list makes you better at whatever you do?  And what holds you back?  Then decide if being "held back" is worth refusing to change your habits.  Like I said some time before, I want farther and faster.

Respect the distance.  

Any distance is difficult when you add the element of racing.  Six point two miles through a park is pretty easy.  No pressure.  But add a race bib and a start/finish line suddenly nerves creep in.  You have to prepare physically and mentally.  Unfortunately most people overlook the mental aspect of race training.

Two different friends from dailymile in the wake of my marathon disappointment said to "respect the distance".  Truer words were never spoken.  Twenty-six point two miles is no joke.  Nor is it a walk in the park.  Some people are natural runners and other people struggle with running.  But all runners have to cover the same distance.  With each mile lies a chance for failure.  To avoid failure is to stay focused on the task and reach the finish line while reaching as many goals as possible along the way.

Respect the training.  

If you don't train for it you can't race for it.  Avoid hills while training and you will lose your "race" on the hills.  If you don't train for speed you can't pull it out when you need the kick.

In response to "respect the distance" I said that it is more important for me to respect the training.  This is not to belittle the previous statement.  And there was a misunderstanding about that as well.  But if a runner does not take training seriously the runner's goals will remain out of reach.

Some runners wing it through a cycle.  Others build meticulous plans that must be followed at every step to ensure optimal physical and mental preparation.  I learned that training is serious business, especially with long distance running.  Run fast.  Run slow.  Run short.  Run long.  But run according to plan and at the right times.  Peak too soon and race day will be a failure.  "Try something different" on race day and you will suffer.

Now that Chickamauga is done and I have turned my attention to Myrtle Beach in February I am setting my plan in motion.  Base.  Tempo.  Intervals.  Hills (yes, I count highway overpasses as hills).  And the dreaded Recovery.  Every part has a role to play.  And every training day I shall work on some aspect of my program.    What I learned on Saturday is that there is never an "easy" run.  Good runs, yes.  Great runs, certainly.  And just maybe, if I stay smart and focused, I can have that great run.

I know that my running will not change the world.  I know that my running has not even changed me all that much.  What running has done is to expose aspects of me that I did not know existed.  It has opened up parts of me that even my wife and parents did not know were present in my personality.  Running shows what I am capable of when I let go of fear and self-doubt and worry of failure.  This is personal and subjective.  All my thoughts are directed toward making me a better "whatever".  Decide what your better "whatever" should be and get after it.  No one can do it for you.  Good luck.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The devil when down in Georgia...

Kidding me right?  Can't say I was not warned.

"In long-distance running the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be."
- Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

Where it all went down.  There may still be a chalk outline on the road from last year.

I'll save you the boring crap about the drive from Myrtle Beach to northwest Georgia.  The expo was forgettable other than the Daily Mile connection made with Gordon H. from Alabama.  He is a great guy and I enjoyed our visit before and after the race.

Hey, UnaRunner?  What's your real name?

So we got to the start/finish area around 6.30am with plenty of time to warm up and hit the bathroom (twice) before the official start at 7.30am.  There were lots of people like at most races.  All shapes and sizes.  Untold number of reasons for starting and goals for finishing.  There were 50-staters and green-horn first-timers.  I lined up with Gordon and Drew T. also from Daily Mile.  Always great to see friendly faces before (and during) a race.

The cannon roared and we were off.  The course begins with a loop around Barnhardt Circle then directs the runners on a local road before quickly shooting into the park.  For approximately one mile we were on broken asphalt "trail" closed in by trees.  A slight downhill slope was cause for early restraint on speed.  Got to go easy.  Once in the park the course became an eleven mile double loop.  We ran on blacktop through narrow forest and sunlit fields and monuments to states and soldiers whom gave blood and sweat in service to a cause greater than any little race.

The Chickamauga National Military Park is the site of a battle between Federal and Confederate forces as General Sherman's army attempted to break out of Chattanooga and head south for Atlanta.  While "Johnny Reb" won the day at Chickamauga, the loses where so heavy that when the Union forces made a second attempt the next spring they met little opposition.

The first loop went fairly well.  I ran for a few miles with a runner who's name I cannot recall.  But he is memorable in that he ran New York the previous Sunday.  His only goal this day was to enjoy himself.

The course is very windy with lots of banked turns.  Running the tangents is very important to minimize the distance you could run if you hugged the white line.  I think I would eventually run 26.4 miles in total.

I shared time with another runner from Atlanta.  Sam appeared to by older than me and was a capable strider.  He had not trained much lately but hoped for a good time and whatever time to day allowed.  I eventually pulled away from both Mr. New York and Sam.

Last year I DNFed on this course.  The pain, physical and emotional, of that day let me forget just how hilly the course is.  Because of this I had not trained for hills.  That would prove to be my undoing.

Let me clue you into a little secret.  Myrtle Beach is flat.  The only true hills are bridges and highway overpasses.  I could have gotten hill work in had I felt it necessary.  My gut let me down.  I realized how wrong I was as my dad and I drove through the park on Friday afternoon.  In the span of three miles there were at least four rises, the last of which was long and straight and high.  Probably not much for local runners or folks used to hilly terrain.  But this flat lander was about to get cooked.

I am a follower of Chi Running, a running style developed out of Tai Chi by Danny Dreyer.  I have spent the last sixteen months working through the forms and techniques to improve my running form and efficiency.  The process reduced or all but eliminated any joint pain that used to plague me as a runner.  Chi Running allowed me to enjoy running and excel as a runner.  But Danny is adamant in his commandments of "gradual progression" and maintaining focus regardless of the distance, pace or workout.

The thing to know about Chi Running for those unfamiliar is that it is very specific in how to move or hold every part of the body.  From head to toe every part has a slot or way to move to draw out maximum efficiency on the move.  During most run on flat ground the arms swing in a very short zone, from wrist to elbow always along the torso.  The arms act as a counter-balance to the legs and aid in forward momentum.  See pages 102-106 of Chi Running for greater detail on arm swing.  But one must understand that the elbow never comes forward of the rib cage.  Except when on a full sprint or on hills.  On up hill runs one will swing the arms forward as if punching ones self in the chin.  This aids upward momentum.  However it can apply greater stress on muscle along the spinal column from the neck through the shoulder blades.  Not good if one has not "worked" on hills during the most recent training cycle.

Even saw my dad on Mile 12.  Nice moment.

But, and its a big "but" the likes of which Sir Mix-a-lot pens hit songs about, I felt something "off"  by Mile 11.
I used get awful neck and shoulder pain early in my running.  I have been able to reduce the tension and run without pain in my upper back for several months.  This development was not good.  Anyway, I still had asphalt to kick.

By Mile 15 I had to hit pit road.  Just a quick stop to empty the tank and then back on the road.  Great thing about a park course is that will all the trees I don't have to wait for a port-a-john.  Whoo-hoo!!!

However that were things went off the tracks.  Permanently.  The pain in my neck and back moved into my shoulders and upper arms.  I never thought pain in my arms would affect my running but I was nearly in tears from the cramping.*  Unfortunately things would get worse.

Drew T. passed me somewhere around mile 19 or 20.  He asked how I was feeling.  Guess it was obvious but I answered with "I feel like shit".  His response was "same here".  And off he went.  Go get it Drew!

I had to walk in stretches beginning on Mile 20.  Only a 10k to go** and I know it will be the hardest 10k of my life.  While dealing with my shoulder pain I finally was forced to notice a new pain in my right foot.  There was a spot on the ball of my foot was in pain.  Toward the outside.  Right where I was planting with each stride.  By Mile 22 the run at 3.15.00 was over.  I could not run more that 100-200 yards without walking.  For a while.  I passed 22 miles at 2.55.38.  My shoulders didn't hurt as much as my foot anymore, but the overall effect on my body was overwhelming.  And because of pressure from my foot my calves were starting to cramp up.  Not in the funny sort of cramp either.  And I knew 3.30.00 was gone also.  Now all I hoped to do was get to the finish line.

My only explanation for the foot would be to blame the curved, banked road on the course.  Most of the roadway sloped downward left to right, so my right foot was usually lower and may have been planting harder than I thought at the time.  Could never get past it during the race.

Say my dad on the second loop on Mile 23.  I stopped to walk a minute and let him know I was not well but would be ok.  He needed to get back to the finish line as soon as possible.  Still have not seen my daughter or mom since before the race start.

I considered quitting.  I questioned if I really want to run.  At all.  I wondered if I was good enough to run far.  That is what I want more than anything.  I like the shorties.  5k and 10k are fun.  Quick and done.  But The Marathon is a whole other thing.  And an ultra is like a dream I don't dare dream.  But running far is what I want.

Running is my health outlet.  It got me into shape.  It made me healthy.  But I need a race and training to stay focused.  Without wanted to be a marathoner I would still be fat and unhappy and not what I want to be now.

My new goal, in the moment, for the short term, was to get back to Barnhardt Circle.  Two turns and done.  All down hill.  I can do that.  I think...

"Why couldn't Pheidippides have died here?"
- Frank Shorter, 22 miles into his first marathon, in 1971.

As I entered Barnhardt Circle for the final quarter mile I knew I had to run.  No matter how slow I went I absolutely had to run.  No matter how badly my foot hurt I had to run.  And since the final quarter mile was downhill I a little assist when I needed it most.  The road straighted out on the final stretch, and I know it sounds cliche, but I heard nothing and felt nothing.  Tunnel vision directed me onward with little thought other than to finish.

With only twenty yards to go I noticed movement to my left.  My daughter Lochlyn burst from the crowd and joined me for the final push.  I don't remember anything else till I was handed the finisher's medal.  Couldn't tell if the clock was even working.  That is how happy I was that my daughter stepped out.

Finishing with my "best eleven year old in the world"!

After I crossed the finish line I was handed my medal and "first-timer" plaque.  Then I stumbled to where my parents were on the road side and fell onto the grass.  My mom later told me she thought I was dead.  No, not yet.  But I laid there with my eyes closed and not moving for what seemed like a half-hour.  Maybe longer, maybe not.  I occasionally moved my arm.  I had to cough once and couldn't.  A lower abdominal cramp prevented that from happening.  I tried to get up once and couldn't.  My mom knew I was breathing.  Thank goodness for the auto-response systems in the body.  

I still cannot fathom that I met one of my goals.  In spite of much talk or bluster about wanting a Boston Marathon qualifying time the mostly likely and realistic goal was to finish.  And after nearly two years of planning and training and trying I could proclaim myself a "marathoner".  My name is on the list.  No DNF.  No omission from the shared struggle of a common cause.  Regardless of the reason or the result***, I did it.

There may be more to write.  More detail or emotion to get down.  Things to commit to "paper" before time erases the day from my memory.  My wife watched me type most of this and has commented about the length.  Maybe I am long winded tonight.  Forgive me for having a lot to say.  And there is even more to say about that day and the three days since.  There may be a few updates as I think them necessary

"...some people take to marathons in testament to the fact there is still substance and life in them.  
For others, it's simply a celebration of their life or perhaps the lives of others."
- Amby Burfoot, as interviewed for The 2,500-Year-Old Man
Sports Illustrated, November 15, 2010

* About four o'clock in the afternoon it hit me.  The excessive arm swing on Mile 7 aggravated a set of muscles I rarely need in running.  Had I not used the forward arm swing, or actually used hill work during the training cycle I may have avoided this problem.  For my mental state I was stoked to hit on this little pearl of wisdom so quickly.  It took me two weeks to work through my ankle issue from last year.  Things are already looking up.

** That final 10k took about 70 minutes.  The final two and a half miles about 40 minutes.  Consider me humbled.  Pushing through when there is nothing but the finish is an amazing thing.  Elites sometimes quit rather than risk injury.  They must be ready for the "next race".  For myself and others on that course Saturday the 2010 Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon was the only race.

*** My split times for people who may want to analyze such things.  Roscoe?  Greg?

One final note.  Today I ran.  Two days after Chickamauga.  I ran over seven miles and finished that run like a kid chasing summer.  Easy and painless and free of worry.  Or as free as I could be only days removed from my first marathon.  The calf soreness was moderate.  The foot pain was minimal.  The shoulder pain was non-existant.  I may have learned a few things regarding training and race day but one thing is certain. 

I am a runner.

The numbers of my first marathon

I'm not going to argue with this gun time.
My pacing went as follows:

Mile 1    7.06/ 0.07.06                                         Mile 14    7.34/ 1.42.24
Mile 2    7.04/ 0.14.10                                         Mile 15    7.56/ 1.50.20
Mile 3    7.19/ 0.21.29                                         Mile 16    7.40/ 1.58.01
Mile 4    7.24/ 0.28.53                                         Mile 17    8.00/ 2.06.00
Mile 5    7.14/ 0.36.08                                         Mile 18    8.26/ 2.14.26
Mile 6    7.26/ 0.43.33                                         Mile 19  10.00/ 2.24.26
Mile 7    7.15/ 0.50.49                                         Mile 20    9.20/ 2.33.45
Mile 8    7.17/ 0.58.05                                         Mile 21  10.34/ 2.44.19
Mile 9    7.16/ 1.05.21                                         Mile 22  11.18/ 2.55.38
Mile 10  7.14/ 1.12.35                                         Mile 23  11.44/ 3.07.21
Mile 11  7.31/ 1.20.06                                         Mile 24  11.46/ 3.14.00
Mile 12  7.18/ 1.27.24                                         Mile 25 & 26.2 (Garmin 
Mile 13  7.26/ 1.34.51                                      crapped out) 40.58/ 3.54.49

Half Marathon is based on my watch at the 13.1 sign (no clock on the course) - 1.36.30
2nd half time is this time subtracted from the reported chip time                        - 2.18.19

Official stats are based on the gun time of 3.54.58
  • I was 127th out of 502 finishers
  • I was 20th out of 57 in my age group
  • Had I ran the race I wanted I could have place around 15th to 17th but still out of the top three in my age group.
  • The winner crossed at 2.39.44
  • The last runner crossed at 7.27.54

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Waiting sucks.

Christmas.  The wait is unbearable, especially when the music hits the airwaves in October.

Birthdays.  Can't stand waiting.

Paydays.  What are those?

And "race day" to that list.  Many of you dear readers are racers in your spare time and understand the frustration of waiting for that next race.  Some of you are fortunate and can afford to enter numerous races.  Some of you have no interest or cannot afford the fees associated with races.  That is ok.  But you probably have at least one race in your shoes and can appreciate the pain of time sloooowly ticking by till the starter's gun fires.

I am two years into waiting to finish my first marathon.  That finish will hopefully come mid-morning this Saturday.  Fortunately I have entered several shorter races this year.  There was little anguish surrounding those events because they were part of scheduled training.  Just another day in the life of a runner.  I may not be an official "marathoner" but I have done my share of long, intense miles.

If I have learned anything in the past week and a half it is that waiting is worse than any run.  I still get pains in weird places.  I still get tired.  I still talk to myself (sometimes out loud, and occasionally answer back).

The great thing is that I resume training for the next marathon on Monday.  Yes, I am taking Sunday off.  We have a long ride home with no time to run.  Maybe a lap or two around a convenience store while pumping gas.

But I will be through with waiting to get started.

Right now I am just ready to finish.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Let what you fear make you stronger.

What scares you?  What makes you lay awake at night tossing and turning?  For most people it is the job, money, kids, government, etc.  There are too many fears, irrational or otherwise, to list here.  My point is that runners and athletes in general have to face our fears to push through and excel.

I have a fear currently that may seem irrational given the time and mileage I have logged in training.  My "first" marathon is next week.  (You may laugh about that considering how much I write about running.  I probably know less than most of the people reading this post.)

Single digit days to go.  One more possible group run for a little pep talk and motivation.  Nothing left to do really but eat, sleep and hydrate.  The mileage plan is in the bag.  So what am I afraid of tonight?

Not finishing.

I know it is the journey and not the destination.  I know that time goals are an illusion and if my plan goes to hell I need to focus solely on crossing the finish line.  Save your breath.

My fear is not seeing my name on the results sheet.  Ultimately I do not care where my name falls on the list.  First would be awesome but not probable.  Last would be acceptable if it meant I actually finished.

You see, this marathon is the site of my DNF last year.  I know this course.  I visited the host site many times as a kid so I have history here.  But last year's non-finish means my name did not appear on the results list.  Did not even rate a lowly "Logan Hejl - DNF".  No official record of being there.  The mind equates that with not even starting.  As if the previous year of my life had been wasted.

What the last year has taught me is that there is no shame is finishing last.  Someone has to do it.  Walking is as good as running if time is not important (till I get caught by the course sweeper that is).  I also understand my form and style better with another year on the road.  I should be able to correct any form issues that arise.

I don't fear pain.

The past year taught me to deal and accept and move forward. 

I don't fear speed.

Someone is alway faster than me.  But if I am out front I can't worry about losing that lead.  Next Saturday is not my time to lead.

I don't fear expectations.

I am my toughest critic.  My most demanding coach.  But if the day does not meet the goals I laid out I am comfortable with scaling back and moving forward.

So in spite of whatever time goals I have talked about, my primary goal is finishing.  Head high and heart light.

Now if I finish the way I have it planned, and can do what I hope to do after I cross that finish line...  oh the story I will have to tell.