Ber last ran the Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon in 2015, right after we found out she was pregnant with Grace. Ever since she finished, she’s been excited to run it again. Today she finished the 2017 miniMarathon, after fourteen weeks of training.

I’m incredibly proud of her, and watching her complete such a big event really makes the last few months’ work and focus worthwhile.

Recently I’ve been thinking about life more and more in terms of segments.  The first segment of this year was Ber’s half-marathon. Our family’s #1 priority since the new year was Ber’s training for this event, and we were all on board with that. It’s not the only thing we did, but it was the most important thing.

At work I tend to think in segments book-ended by meetups. My team just went to Washington DC and I’m now looking at the work I’ll be doing between now and the Grand Meetup in September.

What seems appealing about this outlook is that it’s okay for big goals, because a segment is necessarily a large chunk of time. 14 weeks is a lot of time to get better at running. 5 months is a lot of time to get good work done. So even if every step forward is a small one, over the course of a segment you are certainly closer to your goal.

It’s a (mini) marathon, not a sprint.

Team Owlbear Runs Throo the Zoo

Back in December Ber made her intentions clear. Once the baby was here and she was cleared to exercise again, she wanted to get back to running. She decided to run in the Throo the Zoo 5k, which happens every year at the Louisville Zoo on the 2nd Saturday in May (the week after Derby.) Her enthusiasm spread throughout our family Christmas and my sister, Julie, said that she’d love to come down and join her for the run in May.

Fast forward to the spring and the time had come. Grace is here and healthy, and Ber was cleared to run once more. Her best friend and running partner, Kirsten, joined the team. Kirsten’s fiancé, Cory, joined alongside her. I’ve been jogging and working out for several months, so I decided I would run as well (so long as we could get a babysitter – Grandma was excited to help with that.) Together we formed Team Owlbear.

It proved to be a cool, cloudy day – perfect for a race. All had a good time!


Finish Line

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Team Owlbear’s results

Running Update

More than one person has told me they started running after they read my blog posts about using the c25k running program. Not sure whether they kept to it or not, but so far I’ve kept the running up as best I can. While I’m no expert, it seems like a well-designed thing that c25k comes with instructions on what to do if you’re not totally successful with any day or weeks run.

If, on the other hand, you find the program too strenuous, just stretch it out. Don’t feel pressured to continue faster than you’re able. Repeat weeks if needed and move ahead only when you feel you’re ready. The Couch-to-5k Running Plan

And boy howdy have I done some repeats. It took me 8 weeks to complete the first 6 weeks of c25k. And that’s even though I got a week ahead early on. In particular, I’ve struggled on my first two ‘long runs’ that have no walking breaks included. But with proper rest I’ve been able to do those  20-minute and 22-minute runs without stopping.

There are no more walk breaks in the program. Week 7 is three 25-minute, 2.5 mile runs without walking. Week 8 is three 28-minute, 2.75 mile runs without walking. Week 9 is three 30-minute, 3 mile runs without walking. This is meant to leave you prepared for a 5k (3.1 miles) the next run after the 9th week.

So far in the c25k I’ve been running for time, not for distance. The help of an Android app has aided me with the time and that way I’ve not had to plan routes for distance. I can just run and simply stop when the app says stop. But I also know that I’m not actually hitting the 1o-minute-mile pace intended for those runs.

I’ve had some guilt about this. Am I really doing the program if I’m not succeeding at both time and distance?

As of this post I’m officially calling ‘bullshit’ to that notion. I’ve run too many miles to disregard my efforts thus far. Doing anything this consistently takes too much energy to discount as not good enough. On top of this, I began this program with no goal other than to start exercising as part of a healthy lifestyle. I’m not racing anyone and I’m not trying to perform to anyone’s idea of what a good run should be. Running for time only and not both time and pace is still consistent exercise.

So I’m going to keep running for time and say that is victory. Anyone that can run for 30 minutes straight any day of the week is a runner in my book, and in a few weeks that’s exactly who I’ll be. Pace and performance might be a goal one day, but right now it’s not my concern. My concern is my health and determination to make myself better.

One last update: I bought some fancy running shoes. That was a good decision.

Fancy shoes are fancy. Adidas Supernova Sequence Boost 8 running shoes.
Fancy shoes are fancy. Adidas Supernova Sequence Boost 8 running shoes.

c25k and Ingress

You might recall that I’m doing the Couch-to-5k (c25k) running program. I’ve completed the first four weeks of the program and in terms of habit-forming it’s been one of the easier ones I’ve attempted in my life. I piggy-backed on my habit of walking the dog around sun-down by turning that into my warmup walk.

But my real secret? I hack portals while I run.

A mere mortal would be content with only the c25k app of their choice running on their phone, telling them when to walk and when to jog. But why stop there when you could collect the XM, get an evening hack to help your Sojourner badge, and maybe do a mission? Not to mention that running is the fastest way to earn kilometers on your Trekker badge.

I’m out of missions near my house that I can complete during a 30 minute c25k session, but I still always fire one up. So long as I keep my fingers off the lock button, the mission will keep my scanner up and running so I can hack any nearby portals. And you better believe I don’t run anywhere without portals.

One of the appeals of Ingress is that it provides a game that gets you moving. It’s a lot easier to walk two more blocks when there’s a portal over there. If you apply the same idea to running, it’s a lot easier to take on that next jog when you know you’ll have fun. Out of breath fun, but still fun.

Lesson from Jogging Failure

Since June 16th, I’ve been doing the Couch-to-5k (C25k) running program. I really don’t like running and I’m surprised I’ve kept the habit this long. But I definitely needed to get my physical activity back up and running is free.

Last night was the first task of C25k that I couldn’t complete successfully. It was Week 4, Day 2, where you do the following:

  1. Warmup walk (5 minutes)
  2. Jog (3 minutes)
  3. Walk (90 seconds)
  4. Jog (5 minutes)
  5. Walk (2.5 minutes)
  6. Jog (3 minutes)
  7. Walk (90 seconds)
  8. Jog (5 minutes)
  9. Cooldown walk (5 minutes)

I had done this run successfully on Saturday (Week 4, Day 1.) Though I felt rough during the 5-minute jogs, I knew during that run that I would make through. Last night was completely the opposite. As soon as I started my first 5-minute jog, every muscle felt weak. My knees and feet were aching. I couldn’t even keep my head up or breathe well like I normally do. After the 5-minutes were up, I started walking home and that was it.

The Mental Conversation

When you’re taking that long walk home (it’s a lot faster when you run it…) your mind starts being cruel to yourself. All the reasons why you started running in the first place start coming back to say hi. I’m fat, I’m lazy, I’m unambitious — and that all starts to feel true since you just failed at something you know you’ve done before.

Next come the excuses. It was raining all day and even lightly a bit while running, so it was hard to grip the pavement. I didn’t have much time to let dinner settle so I was low on energy and my stomach felt uneasy. I’m stressed and couldn’t properly think of my form.

The Reality

The excuses don’t actually matter. The reality is that failures and breakdowns happen when you’re training your body for something it’s not ready for yet. If I could run for 30 minutes straight already, then yes, this 8 minutes of running is pretty pathetic. But 3 weeks ago I was proud of myself for running 8 minutes total in 90-second portions.

That’s right, Day 1 of C25k was 3 weeks ago! I’ve even been doing the training with not enough rest. This was supposed to be day 2 of week 4, and the reality is that it’s day 2 of week 3 on the calendar.

Tonight happened because my body was sending a message. I did the right thing by going out there at all, and I did the right thing by walking back. The now is exactly what it should be. The future is up to me.

The Plan

I’ve run every-other-day since starting the c25k, except one break of resting 2 days. I’m going to take another 2 day rest and run again on Friday.

Wednesday and Thursday will have lots of stretching.

When I do run on Friday, it’ll be re-running Week 4, Day 1. If these 3-minute and 5-minute jogs are where my body is at, it’s where my body is at. I’m not gonna rush this along and hit the 8-minute jogs of week 5 before I’m ready for them.

Most importantly, I’m seeing this as a failure of my muscles, not a failure of myself. I’m doing the part of this that I’m supposed to do: get out there, work hard, and learn the lessons I need to learn.


Papa Johns 10 Miler

My wife and her best friend, Kirsten, have done all the events in this year’s Louisville Triple Crown of running. Yesterday was the last leg, the Papa John’s 10 Miler.

Here’s video of Amber and Kirsten crossing the finish line. (May want to turn down your volume a bit before watching.)

Kickass results. I’m super proud of her:

Amber's Race results

(Update) Amber wrote about the race too!