Monday, July 27, 2009

I Lost My Brother

On Thursday 23rd July 2009, my brother, Eli, was run over by a speeding bus. He was rushed to hospital but died of massive internal bleeding. His pelvic bone was broken. I watched him struggle with pain, with thirst and trying to hold onto anything he could grasp as he fought to stay alive and regain normalcy. He never emerged from the world of pain that he was suddenly thrust into when the bus ran over him.
It tore me apart. I am completely shredded.
Running is off for at least two weeks.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Training day 37: 12K

I was up early. From the feel of my body, I could tell that this was not a day for setting a PR. But I decided to run using my heart and mind. The first 3Ks were fine. When I reached 4K I glanced my watch and realized it was nearly 20 mins. My PR hopes were dashed and I lost the drive.
So I ran the next 8K easily, clearing 12K in 1:03:04. I am fine. Will probably do another 12K tomorrow since my Saturday, Sunday and Monday are taken and I will be traveling. Plus, I need a better recovery for my knees since I want to shake things up in the next phase of training.
If I run tomorrow, it will be the first time I run three days consecutively.
I have a feeling my slow twitch muscles have reached their apogee and its time to wake up my fast twitch muscles and shake things up. This means fartleks, tempo runs, LSR and recovery runs will become my staple diet. And from today, I will be including some eye candy in my blog. Here is the first.
Its a photo of a road poet holding up a banner for marathon runners in the Boston Marathon. Heed his words my friends. It is your only option, clearly stated.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Training day 36: 12K

I went in bed with the idea of breaking the 57min barrier today. But when I woke up, I didn't feel particularly up to it. Energy issues. But I figured that since I had rested for three days and had fresh legs, I should be able to attack that time. So out I went. For the first 5Kays I was fine then I struggled through the 6th K.
When I saw that I was crossing 6K in 28:20, I decided not to give up but instead try a negative split. I concentrated in my next 6K and yielded 57:11. This is 3 seconds slower than my time last week but had a better second half than last week's.
I realized that concentrating on maintaining a sustained and consistent speed is very important because there is the temptation to go into autopilot, which slows down a runner.
Anyways, tomorrow I will give it another attempt. Hope we wont have energy issues.

Phase 2 of Training Plan

I think I now have it figured out. How to proceed with my training I mean.
I will be doing my long runs every fortnight and they will vary between 23k and 27K. No problem there, really.
What about speed?
I will stick to Tempo runs* and fartleks*. I wont do hill repeats and intervals.
I have no hills nearby and track intervals may just give me grief (read injury). But my long distance routes have some hills. Some young ass hills really - compared to Ndakaini hills which are some bad ass hills.
So I'll tell you what.
I have been doing 12k tempo runs already so what I need to add are fartleks in the 12K route. I will start by splitting the 6K route to six parts (see below) and will be taking them on one at a time with tempo runs in between. Until I lower the 57:08 time to somewhere near 48mins.
Ambitious huh? You bet your a** it is ambitious. It scares the hell out of me to even write it down but I know that is the first step if I am to meet my goals.
And now that I am targeting 5 days of running a week, I have to introduce recovery runs.
Tentative weekly program:
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Long run/Rest (23K-27K)
Monday: Recovery/Easy Run (8K-12K)
Tuesday: Tempo Run (12K)
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: Fartleks (12k)
Friday: Tempo run (12K-18K)

*Fartleks consist of bursts of speed in the midst of a training run.
*Tempo runs just require that you run faster than your usual training pace and maintain a single sustained effort. As much as possible, one should maintain an even pace or even negative split.

My 12K training Route

Monday, July 20, 2009

Next Road Run - 27.2 Kms - August 22nd

We have agreed on the tentative dates for the next road run. It is a 27.2Km loop. We will probably have an additional three participants, making us 7 in total.
My legs are getting back. I took the stairs to my 20th floor office twice today. Still thinking of a strategy to take up phase two of my training. I am ruling out speed runs (too many injuries associated with them) and will probably just use fartleks and interval training for my speed work.
Here is the map.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Training Day 35: 23K

We went for a 23K group run today. Started slowly because the pace-setter was having breathing problems. It was pretty good. We had a challenging hill and a good distance to cover. I was pushed by Sikuku in the first 12Kms before Bonnie joined us, then we pushed each other for the next 8Kms before Sikuku succumbed to something akin to an Achilles heel injury at the 20K mark. He had to limp the rest of the distance as me and Bonnie drifted away.
Bonnie pushed me for the last 4Kays and we turned up a 2:12 thereabout. Sikuku arrived some 30mins later and Kamau some 45mins later. Kariuki turned up well after 3hours. We had a hearty lunch and reviewed some of UFC 100. The review revealed to me why Yoshihiro Akiyama beat Alan Belcher.

It was a great run especially because we pushed each other. My knees fared well. Better than I expected even though my knee support fell off at the 13th K.
This means that I have yielded 59K this week. I cant possibly go beyond 60K without going back to the track because going more than 12K in the morning will mean I will be late for work. I will work out something. Meanwhile, now that I have introduced my body to 23K, 23K will be my long run distance. Cheers
Below is my weekly mileage progress as at week 9.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Training Day 34: 12K - Improvemento!

I have a 23K group run scheduled tomorrow so yesterday I was debating with myself whether to rest today and not risk pounding myself out of energy and emptying my tank. But I decided what the hell. The pain that was at the back of my left leg is gone plus I rested yesterday. Plus, last week I did a 12K on Friday and a 20K on Sato. How bad can it be? So I set the alarm.
I slept early and for the first time this year, I woke up before the alarm - one minute before the set time. I felt I had had enough sleep. My clothes and socks were all clean. I felt strong. In fact, I reckoned today I felt better than I have felt in the last three weeks. Why not attack the 57mins barrier? I debated within myself?
Lets do it. I told myself as I drank some water. My weight is still constant at 80Kgs. Am I bulking or what? All this running and no weight loss?
Anyways, I secured my knees with bandages, stretched, twisted this way and that, plantar flexed and dorsi flexed, rotated my ankles and stretched my hamstrings.
I stepped out at about 4:40am. The watchman seemed to have been expecting me as he rose to come and close the gate behind me.
I started my timer and started fast, sort of. The first 2Kms were in darkness but I could see I did it in under 9mins then the third in 14mins and I knew I would improve on my time. Again, I met very few runners, about four. I pushed.
I turned at the 6K point in 28:08. This was encouraging. I pushed in the second turn and managed to clear the distance in 57:08. One minute slower. I hope I can start negative-splitting soon. That was close but I am very happy nonetheless since I have bettered my time. Competing against oneself can be very motivating especially when you can beat your former self. Its a very interesting way of measuring progress.
I was still strong so after stretching did some 34 pushups and 30 crunches.
Tomorrow we go for 23K.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Training Day 33: 12K

Up @ 4.30. Wrap knee supports on both legs. Toilet thingy turns up empty. Weight steady @ 80Kgs (WTF?). Skin tight. TShirt, sweatshirt, trucks. High-visibility jacket. Some little stretching. CNN is talking about Latoya claiming Jackson was murdered. Murderers of a family found. Palin is criticizing Obama. Lights out. Step in the cold morning. Guard stirs from his sleep. Wave at him.
Step out of the gate. Start timer. Start at a comfortable but fast pace. Not much energy, adrenaline or testosterone. I know I gotta do this often to be better and faster at it. More importantly, my body needs to undergo physiological changes. More capillaries, stronger muscles, more mitochondria and more mitochondrial enzymes.
Meet three runners. Road mostly deserted. Cold air condenses in my nose and becomes water. Sweat pours down my face, cheeks and forehead. Soaks into my sweatshirt, down my back, down my waist. My work requires effort and is hard work, but is fun. Sometimes. Especially when I am kicking ass. Doesn't particularly feel like fun today. But the exertion required is less. Hadd says run slower, more and you get better, higher lactate thresholds. Why do I do this again? Okay. I check the time as I cross my landmarks. Not very good but what the hell. Maybe I am too heavy. Maybe I am too impatient - not giving myself enough time to get better. Left knee support is falling. I stop and lower in to my ankles.
I cross 6K in 31:20. Run back. Pass another runner I passed yesterday who sped to pass me and finish. Decide to deny him the pleasure today. Little twit. I speed up the incline. Glance back. He is straining. Doesn't have a chance. I speed off. Blackout. Blackout at 5:40? Weird shit. Clear 12K in 1:1:36. Open door. Lights back.
Stretch. Do some crunches. Hydrate. Take breakfast and shower. My legs feel better but there is an energy issue going on.

Training day 32: 12K

I did 12K today after two days off. Cleared the first 6K in 28:50 and the 12K in 59:30. I wasnt particularly strong. Only managed 20 pushups and 30 crunches after the run. Met three runners.
Will be going for another 12K tomorrow. Time not impressive but I know I have to stay the course if I am to improve. Cant let the time discourage me. Need to get my mileage up to 70Kms/Wk. Need to start doing 5 runs per week next week. Knees are sore but nothing I can call an injury. Otherwise I am great.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Training day 31: 20K

I went running with two friends Kamau and Bonnie and did 20K for the first time climbing the community hill. It went very well. We went at a slow pace and used up 2hr 20mins. My legs are fine. I will rest tomorrow and probably ice the back of my left leg, which is painful.

Below is my weekly mileage progress to date.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Training Day 30: 12k - no legs yawa!

Last night I went to bed with pains in my legs. My left knee, back of my left leg etc etc. But I decided that since I wasn't increasing mileage and since I had rested yesterday, I had little reason not to run today.
So I woke up a usual and tried to reduce my 6k time. I ended up doing it in 29:38 and cleared the 12K in 1:00:38.

Now I have no legs.

No injury, just tired, mangled, mangy legs. I suspect that I will do a slow 20K tomorrow. I met about 5 runners today.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Training day 29: 12K

Today I wasn't as strong. But I had a lot of heart. I had enough sleep and decided to see what my heart can do. I met only three runners and managed to clear the first 6K in 29:18. I knew then that I wasn't gonna improve on yesterday's time. So I decided to take it easy in the second half.
Plus now I have bandaged both knees to give them knee support. My left knee was saying some unintelligible words so I decided to leave the calm shins and instead give them support. I cleared the 12K in 1:00:24. Not bad. Aches here and there but nothing serious, just the painful process of cerelac legs becoming legs that can chew sugarcane. Like they say, pain is weakness leaving the body. And the weak muscles must die so that strong muscles can take their place. And they don't die without incident.
I will rest tomorrow and hit another 12K on Friday.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Training day 28: 12K

Today the alarm went on when I was just rolling over to one side to get one slosh of delightful, peaceful sleep from the deep well of slumber that my ancestors have bathed in for centuries. The bed was warm and sleep beckoned and seduced me softly, hugging me in its soft bosom. There is time to gather energy, and time to spend it Jack, my mind purred softly. And now was time to gather energy. I agreed completely as the god of sleep gathered me in his bosom. I pulled the blanket over my head and just left a small vent that exposed my nose which sucked air out of the room then expelled it. Zzzzzzz....

The alarm went on. I lay still then rolled over and picked it up with my right paw. I took the alarm and stared at it as if I had never seen it before. Like it was an unwelcome intruder in my bedroom (yes, thats a pleonasm). After staring at it irritatedly, my frowning face relaxed and I asked myself, "Jack, are you going to be strong today or are you going to be a wimp?" So I swung my feet off the bed. I was up at 4:35am. We will see who is a wimp.

And I did the usual routine: gulp some water, rush it around my mouth, swallow it in sips as the oral rapids run dry, do the toilet thingy, wrap bandages firmly round my right knee and left shin, put on my running T-shirt, sweat shirt and luminous jacket, skin tights and truck. Stretch a little. Swing this way and that for my back, reach for my toes and swing my hips.

And I stepped out just as the watchman was stirring from his sleep and blinking at me.

I was feeling great really. And I was feeling strong. And I was strong. I decided I was gonna better my time since I had fresh legs and no real injury or whatever. So I started fast. Marathon really, is a test of how relentless one can be because you have to use up your energy and continue using it for several Kilometres. It is relentless forward motion (RFM). And your relentlessness is dictated by your fitness, which is a combination of available energy, lactate threshold, capillary density, mitochondrial density, running economy, stride length and mitochondrial enzyme activity among others. So I hit it.

I met Kamau coming back at the 5th Km Mark and I crossed 6K in 28:40 and ran back intent on trying a negative split. I was strong and shit but at the 10th Km, my upper back started paining and it reminded me that I had fallen on the stairs last week and something in my spine yelled. At any rate, that pain disappeared after a minute or two. I met Kamau at the 12th Km and yelled at him. I stopped my watch at 57:22. Very pleased with my sweaty self. That is more than one minute off Friday's attempt. I bounded up the stairs. Feeling pumped up.

I stretched thoroughly then did push ups and crunches. Since I am feeling fine, I will attack another 12K tomorrow. By end of August, I should be doing 12K five times a week. Cheers.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Training day 27: 18Kms

I was up at 4.45am. And was out by 5am. I was to go with a colleague, Kamau, who I couldn't get on his phone so I went alone. I decided to make it a LSR (Long Slow Run) and I slowed down my speed, clearing 6K in about 37 minutes. I decided to do 9k before turning back. So in total I did 18K in nearly two hours. I feel great. That makes this week's mileage 54 Kms (12+12+12+18). Yet this week was supposed to be a low week of 18Kms!
What this means is that I have to find a way of doing 56Kms next week. I will rest tomorrow and probably Monday too.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Training Day 26: 12K - Did it

I was up at 4:30 and out by 4:45am. From previous lessons, I made sure to securely tie the place above my knee. And my left shins. And I Stretched a little and swung this way and that way and rolled my ankles - because I do step on stones and in unseen holes. And I was off. I saw the watchman stir out of his sleep when I unlatched the gate and I waved his sleepy self some good morning.
I started fastish (as opposed to fast) and cleared the first K in about 4:48. It was cold and I let my nose flow freely as the cold air condensed in my nostrils. I knew I was in good time when I cleared the first 2K in 9 mins. I met two runners as I ran through the first loop. Both are better runners than myself. I can tell from their body size, gait, running form and speed. One is much faster, he always runs with his left hand suspended in front of his chest and throughout his running, an onlooker will see him as one struggling to plant his feet on the ground because he is always airbone and running to him is just the process of stretching his legs so that they make contact with the ground as his body flies forward. He moves as fast as hell.
At any rate, I passed my colleague, Kamau, who is determined to do a sub 2 hours half this year. He was exited upon seeing me and tried to run with me but I warned him not to risk burning himself out and he fell back. I met him again after I had looped back - at about the 7th Km. I crossed 6Km in 29:09 and ran back. I met about seven runners today - Nairobi is waking up to running.
I was satisfied when I stopped the watch at 58:37 at my gate. What is for sure is that I can still cut about three minutes from that next week.
My target is to lower my 12K time to about 48minutes because I need to be able to do 15K in 1hour flat. And I think I can since I am still doing low mileages and haven't even started speedwork.
I should be doing some 16K on Saturday or Sunday. We will see. Next week I should do 52 or 54 Kms. For now I am feeling great. I will start shedding some weight next week.

Apology for my Writing

I have been pretty busy of late. Busy with all sorts of things. With a lot on my mind. A lot has happened since I ran my last marathon. My life has changed HUGELY. Immensely.
First of all, I met the right girl. So right. After so many disappointments. Finally. Let me not get started.
Then I lost weight and had to change my wardrobe. I graduated with an MBA and bought a ride and started servicing the loan. And I realized that I am paid shit for a salary. Bang! Yes, shit for a salary.
And I have since been frantically looking for another job. Desperately. I have attended about five interviews this year and got one job offer which I didn't take because they weren't paying me significantly more to justify a job change. It was a good job, good job title (IT Manager) but the perks sucked. At any rate, the search is on. And I know its just a matter of time.
Meanwhile, I started something with some friends and we are about to nail our first business deal. Things are a bit slow, but the future looks unlimited.
Meanwhile, I am broke as hell but I have made adjustments and I think I am coming out fine. After a trying period of trying to stick my head out of the water.
I got Bell's Palsy and was lucky to get medical attention in good time. My doctor remarked that I recovered so fast. That was close. I learnt a great deal though, about the condition. I have a brother who got hit pretty badly by BP, only now do I understand the hell he must have gone through. Physiotherapy didn't help him much. I cut an artery and almost bled to death. For the first time, I got stitched. Then I got patella tendinitis and had to take a ten week break from running. My beloved running.

So I have my plate full planning to get married, trying to get another job, training for a sub 90 mins half marathon, managing a LDR and trying to get a new company off the ground. My kid brother needs to move out and I will start my life with my SO in a months time. It's a pretty crowded life actually. The only thing that saves me is my running. And its my succor and my escape from all of life's tribulations and pressures. Its the only thing that knocks me out and leaves me balanced and keeps me from losing perspective. A bugger can get sucked in.

The only victim of all this chaos and bustle is my writing. I dont write much anymore. I sorta lost interest in the Historical Jesus studies and my writings on the same petered off...I have read up so much on science, skepticism and Philosophy that I seem to have come to the end of a cold trail. It seems like that.
But I think whats getting me in a bind is meagre resources: survival... Oh wait, thats just an excuse. A shitty, pussy-ass excuse. I need to start working on my first book. Gaddemit.
When? Thats the question. Write on what? This is sorta clearing up. I think I will write the Taner Edis, Michael Shermer kinda book. Why? Because those subjects interest me, I am well-read in those subjects and they can fuel me with the kinda motivation I need to write the book.
I got engaged in some email exchange with some gardenvariety Christians in our office mail. Some told me what I wrote was worth publishing and two of my colleagues came out of the closet. Of course, Bible-thumping Christians were there parotting their beliefs of how one day I will be a big preacher and how Hell is reserved for people exactly like me. I could only sympathize. But I tried my best to share my views with them. Educate them on evolution and disabuse them of their grossly erroneous beliefs regarding evolution and the big bang, thermodynamics and the speed of light etc, you know, the kind of sewage that routinely floats in sites like AnswersinGenesis.
So anyways, the comment made me realize that maybe I am pissing on a talent. Or watching a strength I had actually taken time to nurture and develop rot away because I am too preoccupied with basic survival. I think I owe an apology to my writing. Please forgive me my writing. I have neglected you for other basal, perfunctory, anti-intellectual, shallow, mindcandyish, inane hoola (I made this up). And for that I apologize and promise to do better next time.

Look, I am 33. I really dont think my accomplishments are worthy of me. I am not financially secure, I haven't started a business, I rely fully on my salary, I am still single and I am struggling for survival.
On the other hand, I have done better than most. And at this stage in my life, I am as happy as I can possibly be. I have no regrets in life. But I need to do more. I can do more. I have the capacity and the desire to do more. So why haven't I done more? Why haven't I accomplished more? Am I going to be one of those people who, too late in life, realize that they wasted time on unimportant things and failed to do what they should have done? They had the tools and time to make a mark and pissed on the opportunity?

I need to understand the answer to the above question. I will probably figure it out in one of my runs. Tomorrow I will do a 12K and try to dip under an hour. I have rested today. Still sore here and there bur I expect to be much better by 4.40am tomorrow.
PS: And Oh, when I am not running, cracking up, watching movies or working, I have been watching the UFC. UFC rocks. Forget the bullshit EPL. UFC F**ing rocks. In UFC 100, to be fought on July 11, Brock Lesnar is fighting Frank Mir. It should be obvious who I am rooting for. There is even a site for UFC 100. Google it up if interested. I gotta tell ya: it rocks.