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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

How Bad Do You Want It

How bad do you want it?  How much are you putting in towards succeeding?  What are you giving in order to achieve your goal?  Lately, I've been kind of down because of my injury, a little scared about what's to come, and even thought about giving up on that 200 mile relay race that I was going to participate with 11 other people.  I have less than 2 weeks and I already had thoughts of giving up.  My knee yesterday couldn't even handle a 4 mile run, so how could I handle a leg that had 18 total miles?  It seems impossible for me to get to that point, to run that far without hurting myself even worse... and letting my team down.

Since my 50 mile race... or even a couple weeks before the race... I've lost a little bit of the drive that I had towards my goal of becoming a world class athlete in the long distance running world.  I've lost the will to go forward as far, and my words became more or less just words and nothing beyond them...  I realize this now because I just reflected on my attitude and my commitment towards my goal and saw that it had considerably dropped.  I was doing my blogs and working on my website, but I chose not to focus on my goals of being an elite level athlete.

Now that I've reflected on where I was and where I am now and what my goals are, I've come to the conclusion that I have not wanted it as badly as I meant.  When you want something so badly but do nothing in order to get what you want... do you truly want it? or do you instead just wish it?

If you want it so badly, you would do anything you can to get your hands on it.  The only thing in your head ought to be that one thing... if you really do want it.  Looking back at my goals, I've seen that I haven't wanted it as badly as I thought I did, and so I am needing to make sure that I get to that point... the point where I want it so badly that that's the only thing I am thinking about (in a healthy way, of course).  I shouldn't be complaining because of the lack of sleep, or because of cold weather, I need to do what I can in order to get to the place I need to be... to work on myself and grow as much as possible.

How bad do I want it?  Real bad.  How bad?  Bad enough that I'm making sure that I train properly and get first place in the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon.  It's going to be tough, seeing that I've gotten myself used to the slow and easy pace of running 50 milers... but I figure that I've given myself enough time to continue to grow and train myself to running that race... which is in a little over 5 months.  I'm going to need to train like none other, but it's going to be my step... the next step towards where I need to be... to win this race.  Dedication will show me how much I really want it... I watched this youtube video that talked about how bad do you want to succeed, and it said that when you want it as badly as you want to breath when you're drowning... that's when you know you really do want it.  If you want it, you'll work your butt off and reach for that.

(today, I ran 2 miles out in 15:58, a 7:59 min/mile pace, and took a little break, then ran 2.1 miles in 15:35, a 7:25 min/mile pace.  The taping that I did on my knee was very helpful and allowed me to continue to run without pain, although it was slightly difficult because it slightly impended my movement.  I'm hoping that as my muscle grows stronger, I would be able to get out of this and train myself to be able to get back to running like I'm used to... can't wait to start training for that marathon.)


Without hope, it becomes hopeless.  Without a step, there can't be any walking.  Hope gives you the idea of chance.  The chance can give you an opportunity.  The opportunity can give you action.  Should the hope become hopelessness, then action is impossible.  The only reason people can strive forward and live is through the knowledge of hope.  Without hope, all can be lost.  It's hope that drives everyone forward.  Sometimes we look at things and see things we can't and can.  With things that are under our own control, we can make a difference, and the difference can be that hope.  Hope allows things to happen.

Yesterday, I ran 3.12 miles in 24:02, a slow 7:43 min/mile, and was forced to take a break because my knee hurt.  After taking a small break, I ran 1.08 miles in 8:28, a 7:52 min/mile pace when I decided I needed to stop before I hurt myself even worse.  I walked 2.05 miles back to my house in 35:08 limping the last mile.  I taped up my knee after putting some muscle relaxer on it... and now I'm attempting on going out again and running less and taking a break before it hurts worse.  I plan on just jogging a couple miles with a break in between and then come back.

I could choose to not do that and just hole myself and hope it gets better after a long time, but I'm a firm believer in strengthening yourself to go through things, and so I'm going to see if I can do that.  If I feel like it's too much, then I'll stop, but without that hope, I wouldn't try, and without trying, I wouldn't know, and without knowing, where can I get?

Hope gets you places.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Your Own Training Program

I enjoy making my own training program.  I enjoy helping other people form their own training program.  I believe that it's important for each individual to find their own little training program.

Today, I decided to go carve a pumpkin with my sister and our friends.  I did look at a couple pumpkins before I attempted my own, and although I was inspired by some of the pumpkins I saw, I decided that I was going to carve out my own without looking at pictures.  I had ideas of what I wanted, and by the time I finished it, I had gotten a masterpiece.  This pumpkin, although very small in size, had quite a character.
I enjoyed making this little pumpkin, and looking at it, I realized how important it was for me to carve my very own pumpkin and work hard at making something new.  We often forget the importance of making our own things because we're used to doing what others have done.  Although it is important to look at others, because you don't want to reinvent the wheel, it's important that you create something that is specifically geared towards you (and your tastes).

When you create something, you have the feeling of ownership, where you are obligated to whatever you created.  When I made my pumpkin, I was proud of it and was scared at one point, when I dropped it on the ground.  Fortunately, it didn't break and I was relieved.  The same thing goes for a lot of things, including my training program.  I have my own ideas on my training that is specifically designed for me, allowing me to work and improve at my best. The value of the training program isn't worth too much to anyone else, but making your own gives you the sense of responsibility as well as ownership which makes you more likely to follow it.

It's important to have that feeling of ownership, to to be a part of what you made, where you can truly understand what you are about to do.  Push yourself at your own pace, and you can go far.  Pretending you are someone else might end up hurting you.

Think it up, create, and work with it.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Carpe Diem

Opportunities:  They can be given or they can be made.

Sometimes, you get to go to a conference that's paid for and you get to eat all this food for free and seems like you get a great deal as long as you sit in on the conference.  Those kinds of opportunities are given to you.

Sometimes, you go out of your way and make a mad dash to get in the front of the store on Black Friday and become one of the first 100 people to get some certain kind of discount.  Those kinds of opportunities are made.

There are two different types of opportunities, one is given, the other, made.  Which one are you in control over?  Obviously, it's going to be the one that is made.  If you make your own opportunities, you are in charge of what happens.  The outcome is decided by the one who has control over it.  Some of these opportunities can only be done because you made the decisions to get to that point.

Today was another one of those intense days... where I was a little tired even without running.  I woke up early, met up with my young adults group, went hiking for a couple miles, then ate, then came back, rested a little bit, then worked for 6 hours at the Oktoberfest that we had going on in Farragut.  As a runner, I went back and forth, bringing in food, and doing some odd jobs.  I was on my feet for a long time.  Only after I sat down did I truly understand how I was really feeling.  It felt great that I had an opportunity to just use my everyday life in order to work on my feet.  I chose this for myself because not only would it be financially beneficial, but it would also be a physical work out, and allow me to just become a stronger individual.  It was brutal, but it helped me in a lot of ways.  During today, I was able to talk with a ton of people and grow closer to my friends.  It was definitely worth all that hard work.

Think carpe diem... seize the day, create your own opportunities and go forward with it.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Mind Over Matter

When I run, I enjoy it.  If I didn't enjoy it, I wouldn't be running.  I also enjoy being fast and it works out really well when you race.  However, I raced that 50 mile race, the enjoyment turned into survival.  What can I do when I get to that point?  It's basically like when you're 30 minutes from being done of a long day of work... and it takes so long!  Completely different than watching an action movie and realizing after you get out of the movie theater that a couple hours have already passed.  Time seems to fly when you're having fun, but it slows down considerably when you aren't.

It's all about the state of mind you're in.  If you are enjoying yourself, then it just flies and when you're done, you don't know what hit you.  If you aren't enjoying yourself, you focus on the wrong things and forget about the right things and time seems to move slowly.  Does time really change speed? No.  If it did, we'd be living in a messed up world.  The reason we let time fly by is because we are enjoying the moment and focusing on the fun.  The reason we let time slow down is because we focus too much on it and our impatience works against us.

Today, I spent 9 hours on my feet working as a runner for an outdoor event, serving food and making sure everyone had the right foods.  It was tough... but it was a lot of fun.  I enjoyed going from person to person and just spending time with people and getting to know them as I gave them their meals.  By the end of the shift, time slowed down as the crowd thinned, and as it came to a close and I went to sit down in the car for the drive back... I found out how tired out my legs were from standing and walking around all day.  It was pretty exhausted, feeling so~ good to just sit.

We control our bodies so much that we can actually 'forget' how tired we are.  This art of forgetfulness is only a part of what it means to have your mind over matter, but is very important.  Sometimes, in a race, you come to a point where you want to give up.  The only thing pushing you is yourself, and it's up to you to continue that path forward and grow.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Support Your Knees

Most people have a preconceived notion about how running can tear up your knees.  Most people are right when they worry about that because most people don't know how to run properly.  It's important to understand how to take care of yourself by running properly and taking care of yourself through technique.

There's also another way that you can take care of yourself without slowing down the pace and working on form.  That is to ride a bicycle.  In riding a bicycle, because of the way the bicycle is designed, you strain the muscle, but you don't put impact on your knee.  The thing is, because of the circular motion and the wheels going round and round, there isn't a jerk as the energy is a continuous motion.  Now in running, we are not perfect and when we go slow, the thing is that most of us have that slight impact as we run, which is why it's important to protect your feet and run properly.  Now the thing about protecting yourself is that giving yourself a cushion changes your form slightly, so it's very important to understand that and work hard to make it so that you aren't putting too much pressure on the joints.

I rode my bicycle today, and it was great.  I was listening to music and was on the greenway, pushing not too fast, but enough to raise my heart rate and make it somewhat of a workout.  I rode 7.55 miles in 34:29, an average of 13.1 miles per hour (which is the pace that Ryan Hall ran his American record smashing half marathon).  Funny that my medium bike is his running speed.

When I ride my bike, the thing that happens is that the strain is on the muscles, forcing them to become stronger without damaging the joints themselves.  It's important to strengthen them because after the race, I was pretty much useless and my knees weren't able to take running because of the little pounding that I would have to do.  In cycling I trained my legs hard so that I would be able to support myself in longer runs. Eventually, I want to get to a point where running a 50 mile race is a walk in the park, but that'll be up to my training.  I'll have to make sure that I work on all the support muscles in order to support myself as I run this race.  It's not just about the science of what you put in your body nutritionally, but it's also about properly training your body and conditioning them to support each other towards your goal.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Because of the technology that is already at our fingertips, we have access to all sorts of information.  Understanding this, I worked hard for a long while and created my first website where I put down a lot of things regarding running and am working towards getting it to become as viral as possible, to impact the running and future running communities.

Technology has the capabilities of teaching us so many things, that it would be dumb not to use it.  Some people use technology in order to play their games and never truly get anywhere because they didn't utilize the time they had on the computer or television... or anywhere else.  Using technology, I've studied about what to eat, drink, and do in order to maximize my running efficiency.  It's only logical that I use what was there, and on the internet, there are an almost infinite amount of information floating around.  Sure, some of them would have no great value and are worth nothing, but some of the information out there can rock your world.

It's important to utilize this information that can be readily in your hands, so therefore, important to figure out which information is valuable and reliable.  Because of the large amount of information appearing online, it's hard to decipher which is the useful information and which isn't.  To me, it's important to look at all sides to the information and make an educated choice that would put together the pieces of information, filling my head with the most logical sets of information.

Of course, technology is but a tool, the most important thing is the people behind the tool.  It's those that utilizes the tool and shares it with others that can truly help.  This is what I'm trying to do with my website, to shed light on other people about the myths of running and how you can work to improve your running abilities.  Utilize the technology around you.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Just a Walk

Today, I worked hard on my website, and I'm... ALMOST done... not where I want to be, but it's coming along... I didn't know how hard it was to write a beginner's training plan for a half marathon and marathon.  It's quite a challenge.  I haven't been a beginner for a long time and so I need to put myself in the mind of a beginner.  I'll get there eventually.  I've asked friends to see if they would be able to undergo the training, and so far, it looks alright, so I'll just go with it.

During the time I was off the computer. I actually had a couple nice walks, one right after the other.  First one was 1.22 miles in 18:43, a nice 15:19 pace.  On the way back, I had a little mini detour, so I walked 2.57 miles in 37:46, a 14:42 pace which was a little brisk, and definitely caused my heart rate to rise slightly. Doing those walks didn't burn too many calories... but it did burn calories.  There is a direct correlation between a little exercise and longevity.  Taking care of our bodies for just a little bit lasts a long time.  In doing these little walks, we are in fact helping ourselves live longer.

Sometimes, it's the little insignificant things we do that seems to help us out in the long run.

Monday, October 22, 2012


Sometimes, we need to take time to readjust ourselves.  One time I had to REALLY readjust myself was when I went to America for college.  Raised in Japan for most of my 18 years, being half American half Japanese, going to an international school... I was a TCK.  For all y'all that don't know what a TCK is, it stands for Third Culture Kid.  The thing about us TCK's are that we don't exactly fit in where we go.  We can make a lot of adjustments and can deal with other cultures but we find ourselves somewhat homeless.  Finding my niche in Japan at my school, it was nice being around other TCKs but it was time for me to spread my little wings and go off into the big world.  I flew away and landed in Knoxville TN, going to Johnson Bible College (now Johnson University).  Over here, I learned just what exactly it meant to be a TCK.  My first semester in college, I had never felt so alone in my life.  My roommate was a senior who was engaged and had all the late night stories possible for his significant other, and I was still getting used to this place.  Made a couple friends... but the first semester was pretty terrible.  After a year, I was more or less accustomed to the culture around me, but still was an 'outsider'.

It took me a lot of time to get myself to the point where I was more or less adjusted to the culture around me, but you know, after a little over six years, I've adjusted fairly well to the culture around me.

Running can be just like that.  After running a 50 mile race, my body had to take a little break from running because of all the strain that race put on my body.  I'm worried about my right knee because I've strained it too much before, making it easier for it to get hurt. After the race, I've had to deal with it, but since I took a break from running for a whole week, I was able to rest it up.  Today, I went for a 3.51 mile walk which took me 54:20 to do (a 15:27 min/mile pace) and my leg felt pretty good for walking in flip flops.  At night, I decided that I was going to try out running since it's been over a week since I've actually ran.  I knew it wasn't going to be far and I knew that I had to keep my knee in check, so I just did a nice little jog.  I jogged around the apartment complex for 12:30 and ran 1.35 miles (a 9:17 min/mile pace) and although I felt like my knee might start hurting, because I stopped, I was able to keep the knee from being injured.  I also noticed that as I was running, I slightly changed my form so that my left leg was taking the brunt of some of the work.  The thing about the body is that no matter what you're trying to do, when one part is weak, the tendency is to compensate it by letting another part of the body take that work load.  Now that does help my leg from getting hurt worse, but it also makes my running inefficient.  In order for my leg to heal and my running form to not lose efficiency means that I need to ease into the whole thing again.

Instead of running 5 miles at once, it looks like I'm going to divide that up during the course of the day and run bits and pieces so that before my knee starts feeling like it's weakening, I would stop, helping my leg become stronger and insuring that my form wouldn't lose efficiency.  Readjustment takes time and effort, as well as understanding what needs to be done.  We need to adjust and readjust a lot of things as we go through our lives, and in running, it is especially important because if we do it wrong, it affects our abilities as runners.

Use time wisely when readjusting yourself so that you won't grow the wrong way, which would mean more readjustments. making it counterproductive.  Take the right steps and walk carefully so that you would grow.

The Coach

We all need coaches at times.  Sometimes, it's in the form of a parent, other times, it's in the form of a friend. There are also times where we get some coaching from helpful strangers.  The thing is, we can't do as much as we want to without a coach.  Having an individual looking at you from the outside sees a lot more than you looking at it from the inside.  It gives a different perspective, it helps you with coming up with new ideas so that you could improve.  A coach serves as an individual that encourages and pushes you forward to do your best.  The reason that they can do that is because they see things you're doing AS you're doing it.  While we can look back at what we've done and work on improving, the coach will already be coaching you as you are working on it, and together, serve to take you to that next level.

Coaching is something that's important because without it, you can only go so far.  It's important to have that coach to push you forward.  Find that coach, whether it be your family or friend, and work on that relationship to help you become that much better.  Some coaches aren't even physically there.  They're an entity that is online writing things down and you look at what they've written down and your pushed because of that.  The thing is, because they come from a different side, they see things a lot differently, and together, you can work to make yourself a better runner... a better person.

Coaching is also something that I've been interested in because it's something that allows me to help others.  Maybe some day, I'll be able to work towards that and start coaching.  Haven't been running for a whole week because I want to make sure my body's recovered enough, but I'm thinking about going out and maybe jogging or at least cycling.  Lets see what happens today.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Life I've said before, it's not the half an hour of exercise you do that gets you to where you need to be.  It's what you do in that whole 24 hours that counts.  Today, I was able to go on a hike to the Chimney Tops, a 4 mile round trip.  I went up and saw the most magnificent view, and then went down.  I was able to get up all the way up and down without too much trouble.  However, due to the fact that I ran a 50 mile race last week, I'm still recovering.  My lifestyle has led me to different things.  What I do affects me.  Running 50 miles in one day affects me for over a week.  Not running and eating junk food affects me also.

Everything we do causes something to happen.  Our lifestyle is reflected in our lives.  It's important to remember that because it's the little things we do in our daily lives that lets us grow into... what we 'train' ourselves to be.  A lifestyle for a runner isn't defined by an hour of running or 20 minutes of stretching.  It is defined by what the runner does throughout the whole day.

Friday, October 19, 2012


Having a great training plan without following it can be something like knowing that you can get $100.00 by standing up and staying seated.  It's great to have ideas, but without you following through and implementing it, the ideas remain as they are... ideas.

It's a good idea to implement your idea and actually do it, and when you do it, do your best.  A mediocre effort will only get you mediocre results.  However, an amazing amount of effort will produce amazing results... and of course, no effort means no results.

Depending on what you DO, what you think up can actually impact you tremendously.  When you follow a great training plan and you DO it the right way and implement it perfectly, it will results in you becoming a better runner.  When you follow up the race with a proper resting time, you result in helping your body A LOT.

It's all about how you implement your plans and your ideas.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

From Crawling to Walking to Running

Babies don't just come out and start running.  No~ for the longest time, they're pretty immobile and the parents think it's cute that they're still.  Little by little, the baby learns to crawl, and the parents think the baby is still cute, going from one place to another little by little.  The baby begins to go pretty fast and starts to become a handful but before that happens, he or she learns to take his or her first baby steps.  At the first steps, everyone's eyes are watching because it's literally the next step in the child's life.  To the parents, it means a lot to see their child start walking... but the child won't stop there.  After the first cute little memorable steps, they start going longer and longer and start walking faster and faster.  Eventually, the parents are forced to kick the child our of the house because they have so much energy that it's impossible to contain them inside, and out the child goes, to the world outside, where everything is bigger and where he or she can go further.  That walking turns into running as the child learns to pick up his or her pace, and as the child's world gets bigger, the child's radius becomes bigger as he or she starts going places.

I remember as a child when I first went out, I pretty much stayed at home, but little by little, my boundary increased as I learned new places to go to and new things to see.  As I grew older, I started going further and further away, especially with the use of trains, and as a high school kid, I started cycling to school (which was only 3.5 miles away), cycling even further by the time I got used to it, to visit our rival school which was over ten miles away.  As a high school kid, this was a big feet... but I decided to challenge myself by running that distance.  That challenge ended rather poorly because I ended up getting lost and running further than what I wanted.

As we grow, we strive to push ourselves forward, but when we do so, we take steps.  We take steps because one leads to another.  We can't skip them because in doing so, we risk hurting our bodies.  We crawl first, then walk, and THEN we run.  There is no other way.  It all starts in one place and gradually we get to the next place.  Of course, there's going to be significant points, when you accomplish something new, but that only happens because you've taken the right steps towards that.  Change doesn't happen overnight.  It takes discipline and hard work to get there.  Take things one step at a time and grow strong.

Today, I'm back at the walking stage, walking 3.79 miles in 1:03:39, an average of 16:55 min/mile, not too bad after the 50 mile race.  I know that running would be too much for my legs to handle, but walking would do me good.  I'm working my way up in order to get to where I want to be, and I know that ESPECIALLY now, I can't afford to start running too soon and end up hurting myself.  Train smart, live smarter.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


After you take a test, you take that break that you needed.  After you get off of a hard day of work, you go home for that break you give yourself.  After running 50 miles... I took a break.  Of course, I didn't exactly do it right away... had to drive from Atlanta to Knoxville and the ramp to the interstate was under construction so I had to go on a detour... with a couple hundred cars... which caused a traffic jam... which got me out of Atlanta an hour off schedule.  So I was driving at night up north of Atlanta and lo and behold, there was another traffic jam... at 11:00 pm.  I didn't understand how this was possible, but seeing fireworks go off at a little after 10:00, I just took it all in and just realized... it's a crazy place over here.  I was still about an hour or so away from my house but I was so exhausted and that even talking to different people on the phone while driving wouldn't keep me awake so I decided that I would go to the next rest area and take a little nap.  At approximately 1:00 am, I found a rest stop and proceeded to get out of the car, take a drink of water, eat all the pickles I had because I was starting to cramp, get my blanket and pillow and set my alarm for a 2:30 am wake up and went to sleep.  Unfortunately, my alarm didn't wake me up and I woke up cold at 5:50 in the morning.  I reluctantly got up and drove the rest of the way home, rested but still tired.  I didn't have enough time to get back to sleep because I had to go to church, and so I just gutted through the rest of the day.

Yesterday was a different story.  I was just sore.  All day.  Sore.  I ate like none other, eating twice the amount I normally eat (which in itself is a big meal) and walked a little bit to make sure I still had my mobility, also making sure that my right knee wouldn't act up.  It was still on the tender but a lot better than Sunday morning.  Now that I've gotten another day over with, it's just eating and resting.  It's important to take that break because after a brutal assault, your body does need its rest.

Now as I've taken two rest days in a row, I've become a little antsy, so I've started walking around a little bit.  I know that I'm not prepared to go out and run a couple miles, but walking is as much as I'll do for now.  I will make sure that by tomorrow, I'll be walking 3 miles and then maybe the next day, I'll jog a little bit, deciding whether or not to go further, depending on how my knee feels.

Especially after an intense race, it's important to watch and listen to yourself.  This is the moment where a mistake can cost you a lot of wasted time, or injury (or both).  Take a moment and judge where you're at and take steps towards a healthy comeback.  Just because you finished something hard doesn't mean that you can go right back into the middle of things and attack it head on.  Your body can't handle that.  No matter what you do, you're going to need that break.  That's why people take breaks after finishing projects. That's why we have summer vacation.  That's why after a race, you slow down.

Take steps... and make sure they're the right ones.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The North Face Endurance Challenge - Atlanta

My second time running it, still a hard course.  Last year, when I ran this race, I was unprepared for the amount of pushing I would have to do.  This year, I was prepared... but not prepared enough.  I still have a lot to work on in order to get to the point where I want to be.  Now I'm at a point where I can run a marathon on any given day and I would be okay.  In less than a year, I want to get to the point where running a 50 mile race would be a little strenuous, but more like a long run instead of a challenge.

When I finished the race, it said at the results tent that I was 23rd place, but looking at the online results, it seems that I was 22nd place... not sure what's up with that, but either way, I was second place in my age group.  My time was 10:43:03, which was an average of 12:52 min/mile, a rather slow time, but a decent improvement since last year.  Also, because I made it under 11 hours, it meant that I qualified to apply for the Western States Endurance Run... a 100 mile race.  Unfortunately, only 10% of the applicants are chosen through their lottery system so I'll find out in December if I actually manage to get in or not.

Anyway, about the race.  It was the same technical race with tons of roots and rocks ready to snag me as I ran, and snag me they did... I only actually fell down once, but there were more trips than I could count... resulting in a very painful big toe.  If you remember what the Mad Hatter's hat looked like in Alice in Wonderland... imagine my toe being his hat.  I bled quite a bit from that wound, but kept on going.

I prepared this race rather meticulously by making sure that I had energy and sodium intakes at all times to insure that I would do well and not pass out.  I had done some studying and figured out that the best thing for me was these three items.  Pickle juice, Pedialyte, and Chia Seeds.  With these three, I planned on tackling the race (along with the foods provided at the aid station).  I chugged 1300 kcal of chia seeds and water in order to start my day, and at every aid station, I drank two cups and ate a PB&J, but pretty much ran the straight-aways, jogged the down-hills, and walked the uphills.  I met up with a couple runners and together, we tackled quite a bit together, and although it was faster than my original plan, I felt like it was good to go while I still could.

Here is the race summary (trust me, it's a 50 mile race, this bit of running counts as a summary):

As I began the race, it was dark and I had my night light, allowing me to see... but not really see too much.  I kept on tripping over roots and rocks as I ran.  I ran in the second wave, which started 3 minutes after the leading wave.  In less than ten minutes, we caught up with the leading group, as the group was made up of both elites and non-elites.  This slowed down my pace considerably, but in hindsight, I was glad that we had that break which kept me from going too far too fast.  As I passed the stragglers from the first group, I met up with a runner who had hurt himself, after identifying his number, I made sure to not forget his bib number and ran to the aid station to let them know about that runner (still hoping that it turned out alright for him).

I made it passed the first aid station, and taking a couple gulps of water and some Nuu, I was able to continue on my way, walking only for a little bit, but decided to jog and then get back to running.  During this longer trip, I was alone most of the time, occasionally seeing a couple people that I would pass, or would pass me, and during this 6.1 miles, I had my first fall.  Up til then, I would trip and catch myself... always tripping on my right foot, and I would keep on going, reminding myself that I wasn't unstoppable... but this time, I fell and nursed an injury to my right hand for slamming onto the ground.  My legs were fine from the fall, but my hand hurt.  Fortunately, I don't run on my hands... but it was rather annoying throughout the rest of the race.  Making it to mile 11.1, I was doing pretty okay, a lot slower pace than what I anticipated at going, but slower is better than faster, so I took what I needed.  I kept on going at that pace and as the day became brighter, it was a little easier for me to see and I had fewer trips on the way up to the 'halfway' point.

It was between the third and fourth aid station that I met up with a couple runners and we ran together as a team, pushing each other forward and slowing down... but ultimately working as a team, and I got to know both of them rather well.  One worked for Fleet and was here with his girlfriend.  The other runner was a Race Director and just racing for fun.  They both talked a lot and I listened a lot, getting to know a lot about them.  It was great being around people that enjoy running and pushing forward to the best of their abilities.

After making it to the 27.6 mile point, I met up with Aaron and Tasha who came to support me with food and I didn't really feel like eating too much... but did take that amazing chicken broth they had at the aid station.  I drank another 650 kcal worth of chia seed and water, drank some pedialyte, lathered up some Ben Gay, and after taking a little breather, I put on my iPhone and started listening to Michael Jackson as I started the trip back.  Knowing that it was 22.4 miles to the finish line, it was 5 miles less than what it took to come out, so it should have been easier, but that distance is pretty darn close to a marathon and I had to keep on chugging on and doing my best to fight off the exhaustion that was setting in.

With 12.9 miles to go, I felt a little bit beat up.  The two things that helped me keep on going was listening to Michael Jackson and playing a little game of seeing how many people I can catch up with (didn't matter if they were 50k runners, marathon runners, or 50 milers... it was a game, and every victory counts.  Victory meant that I had all that positive energy within me pushing me to keep on going, to jog up those hills... but that went away little by little.  With 7.5 miles to go, I drank the pedialyte that I had saved up for myself, ate two handfulls of m&m's, I took a little break in the shade and sat down for a bit.  Little by little, I had run out of energy and was starting to rely on willpower to get me through the end of the race... well it was already at that point... it was just that my mental defenses were weakening.  Having 5.4 miles to get to the penultimate aid station, my right knee was sore because of all the tripping I had which resulted in sudden pressure when I caught myself with my leg... I had to force my legs forward to continue on.  Energy zapped, I was unsure whether or not I could make it running like I had wanted to... but I wanted to finish the race as best as I could.  As I passed by the 19th runner, I looked back and saw another runner I had previously passed begin to catch up.  Now as the hunter became the hunted, I had a new sort of energy pushing me to get to the next aid station.

Making it to the last aid station, the other runner behind me caught up to me, but with 2.6 miles to go, it was anyone's game.  I pressed on forward first, looking at this as an opportunity for me to get ahead, and caught up with my 20th runner... but no sooner had I done that, he came up from behind me and snagged the lead.  He was going a little bit too fast, so I didn't follow him.  It was one amazing race, and I was able to have a great time.  The last few miles were a mix of running, jogging, and walking because I wanted to make sure that I got to the finish line before the eleven hour mark was up.  I know I have a lot to work on... but improving an hour in one year is pretty darn good.  Can't wait to do the same thing next year.  Maybe improve more than an hour and go for a 2 hour improvement.  High goals and great accomplishments!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Night Before My Run

Everyone gets nervous before a run. Anything can happen, but all I can do is hope that everything works out and I am able to run at my best. I've prepared the shoes, the drinks, and I am hoping that tomorrow when I wake up, I'm able to write down the distances between aid stations so I know what part of the race I'm at. It's nerve racking to think that in less than twelve hours, I'm going to be running that 50 mile race. My goal, to finish well. We'll see what the competition is, but the most important competition is myself. I need to constantly remember that, but at the same time, I'm going to be competing against other people, so I need to make sure that I look at both my personal side and my competitive side.

Gotta make my blog short because I need to sleep, but hoping all goes well tomorrow. Here's to the training I've been doing for a long time!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Good Distractions

Spending 4 hours in a car is not my idea of fun, but when using the phone to talk to friends while driving, it made time fly by fast.  When distracting yourself, it's easy to progress in things that are normally hard.  When running, most people find it a lot easier when they distract themselves with music.  It just makes it easier for them.  But in all reality, running 50 miles is running 50 miles whether or not you're listening to music... so what's the difference?

The difference is the state of the body.  When you're driving for hours concentrating on just getting to the other place, you are psychologically and physically putting strain on yourself, and the same goes for running.  When you listen to music or talk to someone... or take your mind off from your actions, your body loosens up, giving you the ability to go further, and feel better.  A tight body uses excessive amounts of energy.  A loose body saves that energy, allowing your body to go even further, without that strain.

Certain distractions will hinder your progress, but others can actually improve your progress.  Find out different things that can help you as you journey on towards your goal.  Find the good distractions in life that distracts you from the harmful things that can occur in your life.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Plan, Plan, and Plan

It's important to plan.  It's needed because without one, you might not get to the result you were hoping for.  If you are on a journey, you need a plan to get from point A to point B.  We take a look at the map and we plan out the route, going from one road to the next, until we make it.  Without that planning part, we would be in big trouble.  Whenever you have a goal, be it to get in shape, or to finish a project, having a plan pushes you towards completion.  It helps you with the process.

Plans are what helps guide you through things.  Plans help me get in shape for the races I run, and plans help me run the race.  Going to a 50 mile race without a plan is crazy (and some people think that running 50 miles is crazy).  When you run a long distance like that, you need to have some sort of plan to make sure you're more than able to keep on going.  It's important to take things step by step.  Fortunately for me, I have the distance between each aid station.  Using that, I can time how I'm doing, how long I've run, what pace I'm running at, and keep myself in check using that data I gathered from my run.  As running an ultramarathon at your best is like a ticking time bomb, in order to insure it doesn't go off is by constantly checking yourself to see if you've pushed too far.

My plan thus far includes heart rate, time and distance ratio, amount of time spent running vs walking, and how I feel.  Using that, I am able to get a general idea of what I can handle, from beginning to end.  The most important thing about the plan is that you should be able to change plans and adapt to what you're doing.  Having that kind of plan utilizes the information you are receiving, and allows you to perform at your best.

Knowing that I need to get ready for this long race, I've been off my feet a little bit due to the tapering, but in order to make sure that I didn't grow softer, I ran for a little bit, running 5.64 miles in 46:34, an 8:15 min/mile pace.  Although it was 11.28% of my 50 mile race, I was able to finish this small distance with ease, faster than what I would be running the 50 miler.  This run gave me the confidence I needed to run the race.  I'm still nervous, but I'm pretty confident with my abilities and my training to get me through the race.  As my plan is to get top 5 (according to last year's times), this might be a little hard, but I'm planning on sticking to my plan and run my best race, not worried about beating other people (although I will plan on having my support crew tell me how far ahead 1st place is and 5th place at the 28 mile mark.  This knowledge will be processed and used when finishing the last 22 miles of that race... whether to continue on with my plan or to change plans.  I won't know exactly what's going to happen, but either way, I'll make plans depending on what my body tells me.

Plan the unexpected, plan all possibilities.  In doing so, you've prepared as much as you can, and will be able to make it to your goal.  Break that plan and you could suffer the consequences.  Follow the plan and be safe.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Eliminate the things that you don't need, the things that are ineffective, the things that hinder your growth.  If it doesn't help you, don't mess with it.  We do a lot of things in the 24 hours we have each day.  Cutting out all the unnecessary things makes our day THAT much more productive.  If you're just dawdling around on the computer all day, that's not productive and it doesn't help you with achieving your goal.  Cut that out.  If you're sleeping for 12 hours each day... that's going overboard.  Cut that out.  There are things we need, and things we don't need.  By eliminating the things that we don't need, we can utilize the time that we have and focus towards the important things that we can do with our lives.

Eliminating different things allow us to manage time more efficiently, making every moment count.  Combining this with focusing on your goal... you can become unstoppable.

As for me and running, there are days when I just don't utilize my time and end up wasting it.  I could have gone out for a run today, but didn't because I wasted a lot of my time.  Tomorrow, I'll have to make sure that I eliminate the things that would waste my time and focus on having a day filled with productiveness.

(that doesn't mean that you don't have a life.  It means that you have days where you can take a break because taking a break is productive.  We need that.  Don't eliminate the rest time you have.  You need it!)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Life With a Purpose

When you're saving money to buy a car, you work your usual 40 hr/week, saving part of the income in order to get to the point where you can afford to get that car.  Would you spend some of that money on the little things you don't need?  We may say no, but in life, that's exactly what we do.  We have goals and we have a purpose, we have a vision of who we want to become, but for some reason, we do things we don't need to be doing, we deviate from our original plan.  We find ourselves doing things that are counterproductive, working on things that don't need to be worked on...

When we have a goal, a purpose, we need to remember that the quickest way to get there is by making the right choices and working your way towards achieving it.  Detours prevents you from your course of action, and hinders you from achieving your goals.  When I go running or work out, that takes up to 4 hours of my day.  It may seem like a lot, but that's just 1/6 of my day.  Sure it impacts me and my goals towards running that 50 mile race, but that's not all that affects my path.  I still have 20 hours in the day.  It's not just what I do in the 4 hours that impacts my direction.  The 20 hours make a big impact to whether or not I am able to make it to my goal.

It's not just 4 hours that makes me an ultra runner.  It's what I do in the 24 hours that makes me who I am.  When you're pursuing your goal, it's not about what you do in part of your day.  It's all about what you do with your life.  It's your lifestyle that impacts your path.  I have 4 hours maximum where I would run, but I still have a lot of other things that I do that directs me towards my goal.  It's important for me to get enough nutrition so I make sure to cook myself a meal that benefits me.  It's important for me to get enough rest so I make sure that I take time to sleep the number of hours I need to sleep in order to rest up both my body and mind.  I can't afford to eat junk food or stay up late to surf the net.  I make my decisions based off of what I need to achieve my goal.

When you're pursuing your goal, you have to be committed to it.  It's your lifestyle that directs you towards your goal, not the small portions of your day.

Good Enough

When you are pursuing your goals and aren't able to finish, can you live with it?  Is it okay to be 'good enough' and almost make it to the goal you set out for yourself?  Is it good enough, in a game of soccer, if your team made great passes and almost scored?  Or maybe if you almost passed a class.  Is that really good enough?  To all those, I say no because the job was not done.  The only good enough is after the job is done, when you reach your goal.

I've recently talked to one of my friends and talked about how people get into exercising with a goal in mind. At first, they're all for the goal and work hard towards it... but somewhere in the middle, they come to a point where they look back and see what they did... but little by little lose their motivation and slow down.  Sometimes, from there, they just get back to where they were before, or maybe they get motivation from someone else and restart their pursuit towards their goals.  I'm curious to see what exactly is in their thought process, whether they slowed down because they've gone far enough or if they were scared of the change they were undertaking.

In studying this, I probably will be able to understand what goes on... but it seems to me that without the motivation, people will go back to what they know best.  To me though, good enough doesn't exist in the middle of your pursuit towards your goal.  It exists once you achieve that goal.  Finish it, get that 100%, achieve your goal.  Good enough is for the weak, so be strong and make sure to make up your mind and finish what you started.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Being Sore

When you use muscles that you aren't used to using... you get a little sore.  It's not that we're so out of shape.   It's just that we lacked the certain muscles we used.  Due to my epic run up and down Mt. LeConte, my legs were thoroughly sore for not one, but two days.  Did it mean I could not move and was tied down in one area?  No, it just meant that I felt the soreness throughout my body.

When we do something we're not used to doing, our body 'suffers' from that, and also adapts to what we put ourselves through.  Being sore isn't being out of shape, it's just the usage of different muscles that are not usually used.  Running up the mountain and stepping on unsteady rocks made me use my legs in a different way.  I'm glad that I went through that because my body needed a little shake-down of what was going to happen in a little more than a week.  Trail running and road running are too very different things.  They both use the same muscles, but the shock absorption and how it's used is very different.  It's very important to understand that even with the same muscle, doing something it's not used to doing will cause you to become sore.

In order to be fully prepared for what you're about to embark upon, whether it be the corporate world, or running a 50 miler in the mountains... is to just jump into one and experience it.  Let's say you're getting ready to jump into a job that would normally take 80 hrs/week... would you just jump from 0 to 80 in a matter of seconds?  Does that make sense?  You need to make sure your body is capable of adapting to that, because if you don't, you're going to become very 'sore' minded.  In the same way, running 50 miles in the mountains isn't to be trifled with.  Which is why I spent that 14.1 miles running up and down LeConte, feeling the pain, and understanding what I was getting myself into.

I remember my first marathon.  I wasn't exactly ready for it because I'd never raced that distance before, and as soon as I finished my race... I was sore and literally could not walk as soon as the adrenaline went out of my system.  My body was not ready for that... it wasn't ready to go that certain distance at that certain speed.  When you have adrenaline and guts pushing you forward, you can do a lot of things... once, but remember that when you go beyond what your body knows it's capable of doing, it ends up getting back at you after you finish... and sometimes, before you finish.

There are different degrees to which you can be sore.  One is where you look back at the day before and think, 'that was a great workout' and the other, 'that was a dumb idea'.  When you look back and think that it was a great idea, you haven't pushed yourself off the wall like Humpty Dumpty.  You might have a lot of cracks, but cracks heal rather quickly compared to breaks.

Simple rules:
Cracks will heal up and become stronger.
Shattering takes a longer time and you end up weaker.

Know your limits.  Choose wisely and make sure to get the soreness that helps you grow.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Focusing on NOW

Today, I had a great time running up and down Mt. LeConte, (more like run/hiking up and run/shuffling down).  I went up Bullhead on the way up, which was about 7.2 miles, and I went down Rainbow Falls, which was more like 6.9 miles, altogether going the distance of 14.1 miles.  The elevation difference from the top to the bottom was 3993 ft, which meant that I had quite a climb and descent.  It took me about 2:23 to get up (which included talking to people and taking pictures) and about 1:25 to get down (once again, including the time I spent talking to other people and taking pictures).

Going up, it was tough because of the amount of incline, and I spent most of the time just hiking... it was a good thing that I brought my hydro pack with me because I was pretty thirsty going up, as I was perspiring profusely because of the energy I was using.  I'm also glad that I ate a huge breakfast which helped me get through the whole day.  It was amazing how a measly 14.1 miles could use up so much energy... but it did.  I was pretty tired when I got back, and was glad that I chose not to go play floor hockey.  I'm also pretty sure that yesterday's workouts really affected my performance today.

Anyway, the most important thing about running on the trails is where your feet is.  When you're running pretty fast and you land on an unsteady rock, you might slip and fall, break or sprain an ankle.  But if you're running correctly and running smart, you would be able to help protect yourself from that.  Most importantly, when you run in the mountains, you need your eyes open and looking at where you're going to land.  Should you take your eyes off for a moment, you might step on a loose rock or trip on a tree root.  Either way, it's important to keep your eyes on the path right in front of you.  Secondly, it's important to take light, easy, and SHORT steps.  Keeping your steps light, easy, and short allows you to catch yourself, should you lose control over your footing, or twist an ankle.  When you take those short steps, it allows your body to react and save itself from injury by putting the body weight on the other leg quickly as it readjusts your leg that lost control.

When we lose sight of where we're going, we get in trouble.  Focusing on the things far ahead it good but when your sole focus is on that, you might trip up right where you're are, and you definitely won't get there.  Also, it's important to be confident in yourself, but to never be overconfident.  The point where confidence becomes overconfidence is the point where you think it's impossible for you to get hurt.  During this trail run, I've had to stop running because I knew I was getting overconfident and believing that I had everything under perfect control.  The thing is that we're never in control over everything, and we need to go prepared to get hurt but work towards being safe.  Once I got it out of my system, I would remind myself that I could get hurt, and I'd run fast, but carefully at the same time because I had to be conscious and prepared to react to me having a misstep or slipping.  If you're ready to catch yourself, when the time comes, you have a higher chance of catching yourself.  However, if you're not ready, you might end up on the ground.

Focus on where you're at and be ready for what could happen.

Running Fast

This morning, I woke up and ran for 9.09 miles in 1:09:00, an average time of 7:35 min/mile.  After that little break from running, I still had some speed in my legs... which I hope to use for the 50 miler coming up in less than 2 weeks.  Unfortunately... or fortunately??? I wasn't done yet.  In the afternoon, I parked way out in Market Square, and walked down to Tom Black Track which is in the UT campus, and ran with the Knoxville Track Club Runners, who were pretty darn fast.  They were 5k runners so they had a lot more speed than I had, but I needed the speed workout so after a nice little warm-up, I did the speed work out with the group.  Now because I did it with the group, I didn't put my iPhone app on, so I ran without knowing exactly how much I ran.  Personally, it was great being able to do that and not worry about my pace or knowing where I was.  All I did was follow the leader and do my best to keep up with them for the 1200m repeats that we did.

Personally, in order to run fast, you don't need to constantly time yourself to see how well you are and numerically decide how fast you were going.  Every day, our body is in a different condition, and when we look at the speed numerically, we don't calculate that part, which could make it harder for the individual.  When running fast, it's important to push yourself so that you become better.  We ought not to push ourselves too much we end up hurting ourselves, but instead work to push our limits bit by bit.  I enjoyed my workout today and felt like this workout was good for me and helped me with working towards becoming faster.  I also met a couple people that shared the same interests as me with running and I'm hoping that I'll be able to meet them again and become a better runner thanks to their advice.

Running fast isn't all about time.  It's about effort.  When we run fast, we deplete our energy a little quicker, which makes me have to rely on what my legs are capable of... AND my willpower to use that.  It's not just ability that helps you run faster.  It's the guts to push yourself harder and harder to get results.  Working with those 5k runners was a good decision for me.  I'm hoping that this would continue so that I'd be able to become faster and use that speed to psychologically become stronger and do the 50 mile races with ease.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Managing Time

There are only 24 hours in a day, 60 minutes in an hour, 60 seconds in a minute... and that all doesn't change.  I always have time management problems because there's just so much to do.  There's time when I've committed myself on too many things, and I'm just overwhelmed with so many things to do in the small amount of time.  There's also a time when I only have one thing to do and I just don't feel like doing it and don't manage my time wisely, making the simple thing that I have to do something hard because I would waste time on the computer or not doing anything productive, putting myself into a situation I shouldn't have been in in the first place.

The thing about managing time is that we always have that problem.  We don't see how important something is and don't understand the importance of being on top of things and become lazy.  Because of that mindset, we trap ourselves and aren't able to do the things we want or achieve the things we want to achieve.  Today was one of those days where I kept on pushing my running time until... it was midnight.  I'm planning on making it up by running tomorrow, but the thing is that I'm going to be a lot more tired because of that.  Due to my bad time management, I'm going to have to wake up and run, and then run in the afternoon with the track like I originally planned... but a little more tired.  Fortunately, it's my taper weeks so I'm not too worried about undertraining because all this is going to be a part of the recovery for me and making sure that my glycogen stores are filled up.

If you can't manage your time, you won't be able to do anything.  Time management is an important task wherever you are.  Without it, you won't be able to do your job, achieve your goals, or do anything of any importance.  Take time out of your day and work on that, so that you do what truly is important.  Don't wait for the time to come, create your own opportunity.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Myths on Running

I've talked to a couple people about running and how they thought that running was bad for you, and that because of running, many people have had to get knee replacement surgery and have had leg related trouble.    While it is true that running has impacted the number of people going through leg problems, there is more to it.  Here's two myths that I want to talk about.

Myth:  Running causes leg problems.

Fact:  Improper running technique combined with improper training causes leg problems.

It's important to realize that there is more to running than meets the eye.  We need to understand that it's not the running that damages us, but instead the lack of understanding of how to run that truly hurts us.  We need to be careful to look at the whole picture and really understand what we're dealing with.

Myth:  Just because you have two legs that works doesn't mean that you can run.

Fact:  Every able bodied person can run.

Should we have everything that is biomechanically moving, we can truly see that we are indeed able to run.  In fact, we are all made to run.  Running is what our body is designed to do.  Unless we have something wrong with us, we are more than capable of running.  We just don't realize that.

When we just take what we hear and think and just believe in that, we lose the ability to grow and learn... but when we look beyond what we think and go to something that truly explains the whole situation, then we can understand the things we can and can't do.  Look at the big picture.  Small pictures can only show a little of what's really going on.  Myths only exist because of people who look at things from just one perspective.  Next time you come across something that someone says is true and you wonder... check it out and see for yourself whether it is true or not.  Go out and discover for yourself what the answer is.  That way, you can truly know what is true and what is not.

The most important thing is that we need to be careful about what we accept as true and we need to do our best to discern what is true.  Just because someone says it's true doesn't make it true... or false.  Figure out for yourself and place that in your head.  Search for the truth fervently and look at the big picture.

Today, I took another break, just playing soccer for a couple hours, running a mile in flip flops... just enjoying life.  Tomorrow, I'm planning on going for a nice run, so can't wait.