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Sub-6-minute mile

I usually run anywhere between four and 13 miles. I know how to pace myself for longer distances. Shorter distances, not so much. A few months ago I took the girls to the track to see if I could run a sub-6-minute mile. I hadn’t really considered any kind of strategy when I decided to attempt this on a whim. I just thought I’d run 4 times around the track as fast as I could. That turned into pretty much an all-out sprint that made me have to stop about half a mile in. At that point I resolved to one day run a sub-6 mile.

Yesterday I decided that today would be the day that I’d try for the sub-6 again. My pacing strategy was pretty simple. I’d need to run each lap (400 meters) in 1:30. While I’d wear my Garmin Forerunner 610, I wanted to know how I was pacing without having to look at my watch and potentially break stride, so decided that I’d need to run each 100 meter section in 22 seconds. I figured I could count out small increments like that as I ran. That strategy lasted about 250 meters and then I started relying on the watch at 400 meter increments. The third lap liked to have killed me. I gunned it on the fourth lap.

A mile in 5:44. Checked that one off the list.

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50 miles

That’s a lot of miles on my feet in a week, the most I’ve ever put in.

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And I don’t know what it is… when Wednesday comes around, all I can do is think about how awesome it’ll be when the weekend gets here and I can just sleep and sleep and sleep. I wake up even earlier on the weekends and chase pavement. I love it. There’s no one around. It’s just me, my playlist, my thoughts and the scenery.

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2nd Annual Circle C Turkey Trot

Mom, Elise, Maly, Mara and I woke up early this morning and ran in the 2nd Annual Circle C Turkey Trot. Maly ran the 5K. Mom, Elise & Mara walked the 5K and yours truly ran the 10K.

What’s funny is the 1st Circle C Turkey Trot was some neighbors who went on a run Thanksgiving morning in the neighborhood to avoid the chaotic and huge Thundercloud Subs Turkey Trot in downtown Austin. I think the first neighborhood trot (I wasn’t a part of this, but I ran into it while I was going on my own run) had 15 people. This year I’d venture to guess we had over 300 people participate.

It was a great way to burn off a bunch of calories before coming home and indulging in a bit of gluttony. ;-)

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45 miles

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That’s a lot of miles on my feet this week. That’s the most that I’ve ran in any given week since I started running a year and a half ago. And the two long runs are the fastest long runs I’ve ever gone on. My first 10-miler 10 months ago was at an 8:45 minute mile pace. I ran a 13.3-miler at a 7:35 pace this past Sunday and I felt like I could’ve just kept going.

I’m training for the 3M Half Marathon in January and would like to see if I can put in 50 miles weeks for the next 8 weeks. I’m going to see if I like running a half enough to determine if I’m crazy enough to run a full marathon. A full 26 miles. 26 miles. In a row. If so, I’m leaning toward Mount Desert Island in Maine or Big Sur.

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Maly’s first cross country 1-mile race

IMG_5353-Maly-XC-1-mileMy mom got onto me because I rarely update Janicek.com anymore. Guilty as charged. Life happens, Facebook is easier and people just don’t blog like they used to. But I still want to try to memorialize things here.

So that said, today we took Maly to Austin High where she ran in the AAPER 1-Mile Cross Country Run. Last week she ran the 3rd annual Kiker Fun Run (2.5 miles). A few weeks ago she and Elise ran in the Austin County Fair 5K Stampede. I asked Maly tonight if she’s a runner now. She said, “I guess so.” I’m proud of her for wanting to run in these events. I’ve yet to have to nudge her to participate. I’m hoping maybe she’s found her “thing” in running. Maybe it’ll be a short-lived thing, maybe it’ll be a lifetime thing. I hope it’s the latter. I found running again after a 20+ year hiatus and wish I’d never have taken that hiatus.

Maly came in 8th in her age division today. We’d done some 2 to 2.5 mile training over the past couple months. I thought a mile would be a breeze for her. I’d forgotten that a mile is a pretty fast race. The other girls were booking it. Maly’s pace is usually 10 – 11 minutes per mile. Given that this was a fast race with some competitive girls, she wound up running at a 9 minute mile.

After the race she said she was exhausted. She put some heart into it. It was fun watching her amongst her peers and seeing that glimpse of fire in her eyes.

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Minimizing and simplicity

I’ve always been conscious of my own distractions, clutter, and often unnecessary mental inventory. Most of these things I’ve inherently kept to a minimum. But I recently wanted to consciously minimize even more. I love simplicity. I love the freedom of the mental inventory to invest thought in whatever I want, not what I have to invest it in. Simplicity and minimalism means freedom.

I had too much stuff on my phone. I deleted 100+ apps. There’s still some fat that can be trimmed. A lot of them were tucked away in folders with the thought that I’d one day use them. I never used them. I use a few apps, and I use [most of] them to simplify things. And to communicate. Because it’s a phone.

This is what my iPhone used to look like:
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This is what my iPhone looks like now:
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I always keep my email inbox “above the fold.” I strive for “zero inbox.”

This is what my inbox looks like now:
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I use my favorite desktop and mobile app called Things as my running to-do list. I like to check things off of my lists. It affords me daily accomplishments.

This is what my Things looks like now:
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My wallet used to be filled with credit cards, membership cards, expired coupons, receipts, and just stuff. Clutter. I minimized. Now I just carry my driver license, the 2 credit cards I use and my insurance card in a hand-stitched front pocket ID wallet.

This is what my wallet used to look like:
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This is what my wallet looks like now:
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First day of Third Grade

First day of school today:
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First day of 2nd Grade last year
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First day of 1st Grade 2 years ago:
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First day of Kindergarten 3 years ago:
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First day of school 4 years ago:
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First day of school 5 years ago:
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First day of school 6 years ago:
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Long time in between

It drizzled on Monday afternoon. Actually, it wasn’t so much of a drizzle as it was a spattering of rain. There were enough drops falling that Maly warranted bringing an umbrella.

I’d come home from work that evening as I usually do. The usual route. The sky was spattering enough so if the rush hour traffic moved any negligible distance, I had to manually activate the windshield wiper every quarter mile. So it was that kind of rain. Welcomed, but worthless in Austin in August.

When I got home, I was inclined to just sit on the rug in the living room with the family. No one said anything. We just sort of sat there, waiting on someone to do something. Elise to announce she was going to cook dinner. One of the girls to announce that one of them was going to do whatever one of them was going to do. I had no agenda. I just sat there quietly among my best friend and brood.

I was antsy for whatever reasons. I wanted to do something with my oldest. Play a game. But not a game like Chutes and Ladders — no, more like the game where you and a friend start drawing a maze together on a single piece of paper. A maze with spike pits and other booby traps. Or maybe I wanted her and myself to play Legos. Or I could take my phone out of my pocket and check my work email. I was still antsy and I didn’t want to do any of those things.

Finally I just stood up and said, “Maly, come on. Let’s go for a walk.”

Maly was excited because we were going out in the rain. The spattering rain that wouldn’t collect on a windshield unless you were driving against it. She didn’t need the umbrella, but she wanted it. So she took the umbrella with us and she opened it as we exited the house through the front door and she held it over her head the entire time over the miles we covered together.

We walked down our street to where we could no longer walk straight. We turned right. We walked down that street until we ran out of street. And we kept walking forward. I took my daughter over the hill of the dead end street through the little trail that divides two parts of our neighborhood. One day this little unpaved nature alley will be a park. The city and our neighborhood recently deemed this to be true. Maly had never been by this trail. She was fascinated that it even existed. I think she was in awe that I knew that it existed, even though it’s only a few hundred yards from our front door.

It was when we left the concrete and the eye shot of similar houses and landscaping that we naturally fell into conversation. Something she and I hadn’t done in a very long time. It was then that the thoughts of games and Legos and emails and the perceived need for a umbrella just didn’t matter anymore.

She told me about how she likes to stay at home instead of going shopping and running errands with her mom. I told her how one day she will come to miss and cherish those fleeting and trivial moments. I told her how I miss and long for those trivial and fleeting moments with my mom. I told her about how I never really knew my dad when I probably needed to know him the most. I told her that her grandpa was always working when I’d made it to young adulthood. Her grandpa woke up well before me and drove the hour plus to Houston ever day long before I was awake. And her grandpa would come home in the early evening while I was still at school, or participating in extracurricular activities like sports, or play practice, or teaching or taking Tae Kwon Do classes, or working in some kitchen on the town square. My mom was the caregiver, and that usually meant that I was was her companion on the errands. And since my mom and I didn’t drive to Houston five days a week like my dad did, often times we wanted to drive to Houston and be among the options and experiences. And the dentist and automotive appointments were in Houston. And sometimes the grocery or the speciality stores.

I spent a lot of time in a car with her grandma. I’ve never been one to wear my heart on my sleeve or engage in talk for the sake of conversation. My mom always did most of the talking, and she did the best job I think she knew how in asking me questions and engaging me.

I had a lot of meaningful experiences, and now fond memories of those fleeting moments when it was just my mom and me, running errands and talking to each other. I told my daughter that she’ll probably one day miss those boring trips to the grocery store, or to the other store to buy toilet paper and toothpaste and cushions for the patio furniture.

While she was still carrying the umbrella that’s too big for her and with one of the spokes occasionally poking me in the arm as we walked the trail side by side she asked me about secrets. She asked me if it was okay to keep secrets. And she asked me if, when she eventually married, would that mean that she would have to expose all of her secrets to her husband.

I told her that secrets were okay, so long as they didn’t hurt anyone or hurt herself. I tried to explain to her the peacefulness and catharsis of having a clear conscious. I also explained our intrinsic fallibility.

And then she asked me about religion. She didn’t ask me any direct questions on beliefs, but I think she wanted to know if it was okay for the secular and non to be friends and to marry. I used the strength of her mom’s and my relationship as an example. I used the strength of her maternal grandparents’ and my relationship as an example. I used the differences in everyday people as an example in how to forge lasting and loving relationships.

And when we rounded last the corner and started making our way home, I spotted a baby mourning dove perched on the stem of a red yucca blossom near the ground. I pointed to the little bird. Maly found this to be the highlight of our walk and existential conversations.

I looked up into the oak tree above us. The mom was perched directly above, and calmly and patiently and lovingly exchanging glances between me, my brood and her own.

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Running is my thing: a year in review

2014-07-11_runningToday marks a year that I started running.

I was getting jiggly and had become laggard. I decided that I was going to ride my bike again to shed some pounds and hopefully extend my life. I also decided that I wanted to track how far and how fast I rode. After a quick perusal of the App Store, I downloaded MapMyRide to my iPhone and started pedaling.

After a few rides, my right hip started bothering me. I’ve had a trick right hip for as long as I can remember, and I know that I have to treat it gingerly or it will keep bothering me. Since I’d already created something of a regiment for myself over the past few days, I didn’t want to just stop exercising before I really got started.

For some reason, my brain placed a bet on my body: “I’ll bet you can’t run a mile without crying like a bitch.”

“Say what?”

“You heard me. Bitch.”

“Challenge accepted!”

So I laced up a pair of Nike Lunarflys and walked to the middle school up the hill from our house. It was the morning of July 11, 2013. Since it was summer and school was out, the track was absent of most people. Except two dudes. Two cut dudes. Two really fit dudes who didn’t jiggle when they ran, and they probably snorted Muscle Milk powder before pushing tractor tires through a pit of tenpenny nails. One of the fit dudes was the trainer, the other the trainee. They were on the track doing muscly fit dude things, like pulling each other with a huge rubber band, and 40 meter sprint races, and jumping really high into the air and then landing firmly on their feet, followed by duck walks. They’d probably already run a few sets of 5-minute miles before I showed up.

I was there, standing on the track at the opposite side of the field of the fit dudes with my “Body by Boomhauer.”

I wasn’t bothered by the fit dudes. I wasn’t intimidated. I was there for one thing: run a mile without crying like a bitch.

“No time like the present” I told myself. I hit ‘start’ on my iPhone app and away I went. The first 100 meters were fine. The second 100 meters were fine as well. I used to run the 400 meter and the 1,600 relay when I was much younger, so I quickly recalled how to pace myself. The first 400 meters were okay. I wasn’t crying yet, although I knew I had three more of those laps to go.

The second time I passed the fit dudes on the track, the trainer paused long enough to watch me round the end of the 100 meter bend. As I hit the straight-away, I looked at him. He looked at me. And then he said, and you’re never going to believe this, “Good morning.”

“Hhhhhhnannng mmmmmmppthhthTHHTAAAAAHHHHHH” is what I said in return as I passed.

Half a mile to go and I hadn’t yet died of a blood clot or cried like a bitch. And surprisingly my 86-year-old hip wasn’t bothering me.

I had to pass the fit dudes two more times, and I did it. I don’t think I even noticed their existence in my final half mile. I was laser focused on the light at end of the tunnel. I was halfway to my goal. Of course, I’m not discounting the notion that I might’ve been running in a complete black out, on the verge of cardiac infarction.

Before I really knew it, I was done. I’d crossed the line marking a mile and I slowed to a peaceful jog, and then broke stride into a steady walk. I tapped the ‘Stop Workout’ button on my phone’s app and immediately took notice of my time and distance.

1.09 Miles
8:01 Pace

“Eight minutes and 1 second?!?!”

I didn’t even know if eight minutes per mile was considered a good pace. I just saw that one second and I knew I had to beat it. I immediately knew that I wanted to run a mile in less than eight minutes.

And that’s the moment when I became a runner.

I ran two miles the next day. And then two miles the following day. And then I started running closer to three miles. And within a week, I ran five miles. It was when I settled on five miles as my daily exercise distance that I started trying to hone my pace.

Today I can run 10 miles at a sub-8 minute pace. And I’ve never cried like a bitch. Running’s my thing. Exactly a year after I started running, a 31-pound-lighter me ran my usual out-and-back route of 5.25 miles for a total of 1,017 miles covered over the year.

Running has turned into my thing. It’s my way of getting outside and getting inside my own head. I’ve always been a loner and an introvert. Running allows me to be both. I get up and run at 6 a.m., when it’s rare to encounter other people. I run and I think. I enjoy the time by myself. I revel in the air being forced into my lungs and my heart pounding. I love to hear the pulse in my ears along with whatever music is pulsing in my earbuds. I love to run when it’s 37-degrees outside and the sun’s nowhere near the horizon. I love to watch the barbs on the fence, and the crepe myrtles, and the rabbits, and the knock-out roses, and the Slaughter Creek, and the fallen oak and elm limbs as I run by them all.

Running is my thing.

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Mother’s Day 2014

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Maly’s first communion

Maly's first communion

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1212

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This is my race bib for the Cap 10K. It’s my first race bib. This bib is yellow. Most bibs are white. This bib is yellow because I was going to run 6.2 miles in less than 45 minutes, and I was to be a “seeded” runner. That meant that before the starting gun, I would’ve lined up at the front of the other 18,000 runners. I would’ve been been lined up with other “seeded” runners. And behind the “elite” runners. Like the Kenyan guys.

I’m not running in my first 10K because two weeks ago I wiped out on a skateboard and injured my right foot so badly that I haven’t been able to put a running shoe on that foot since. I haven’t been able to run in two weeks and because of that, there’s a omnipresent void in my life.

In July of last year, for whatever reason, I put on a pair of Nike Lunarfly’s that were hand-me-downs from a friend. I went to the track at the local middle school and I ran a mile. Since that didn’t kill me, I went out two days later and ran two miles through the neighborhood. Before I knew it I found myself waking up before my alarm and the sun, and I was running 5.25 miles every day. And I was getting faster. I broke a 9 minute per mile pace. Weeks later, I broke the 8:30 minute mile pace. I kept shaving off time. I kept pushing myself. I was alone with my thoughts, my music, my cadence, my stride, my pulse in my ear, my fulfillment. I was alone and I’d found a kind of spirituality.

I broke the 8 minute mile.

I’d fallen in love with running. Running was something I thought I’d never do again because I was too old and I’d deteriorate my knees. My knees are fine — they love me. My right hip is another story. I have to treat my right hip like a high maintenance drama queen with whom I’ve had a 20-year love/hate relationship.

I was feeling really good and I was happy every day that I ran. I lost 25 pounds. I was eating right and fueling my body. I got my pace down to 7:15. On a really good day, I’d get damn close to 7 minutes. I had friends convince me to go on 10-mile runs. Never in my life would I have considered running 10 miles. Now I was waking up at 5 a.m. on weekend mornings to run long distances. For fun.

I was fueling my spirit.

On the eve of what would’ve been my first organized 10K I’ll have a pep talk with my right foot. We’ll run far and fast again soon.

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A really bad dream

I didn’t know what time it was. Somewhere in the early hours of the morning because the house was still pitch black. I heard it first. Elise was still asleep. I don’t know how I knew, but I could just tell that she was in bed next to me, not aware of what was going on.

I heard it again. I strained to hear it a third time. And I did. She sounded so far away. She sounded like she was being hurt. Our youngest was screaming and crying from her bedroom on the other side of the house. And it wasn’t a normal cry out that would usually indicate that she’s scared or hungry. This was a cry out that she needed help. Something was happening to her. There was a waver in her wail that allowed my subconscious to convince me that the waver was created by her crying and screaming while she was being carried away.

I swatted Elise twice on the leg as I began barreling out of bed. I didn’t make my attempted leap over her. She was out of bed and running just as quickly as I was. We made it to Mara’s room in no time. In the seconds that it took for us to get to her room, the cries persisted. While unsettling, it was reassuring that the cries were isolated to her room. She wasn’t being carried by a poltergeist.

Elise turned on the hall light, which allowed us to see well enough into Mara’s room. Her arms and legs were curled up underneath her stomach and she was still letting out her terrified screams. I don’t remember who spoke first, but we made her aware that we were there and that everything was going to be okay. I don’t think we wanted to immediately lift her out of her crib for fear of startling her too much. I think we both considered the notion of our baby enduring some kind of night terror. While we collectively know absolutely nothing about night terrors, I think we surmised that a victim should be given room in case panic strikes.

All of this has happened within seconds.

I was as our daughter seems to be coming to. While breathing very heavily, as if fighting for her life, she tries to pull herself up onto her feet. This is the part that has burned a horrifying image into my mind. I just remember her trying to get up. She’s mustering every last drop of adrenaline to fight and bring herself to her feet in her little, safe crib. As she tries with all of her might, still crying, she legs and knees are wobbling. She looks like a newborn calf or foal, trying to stand for the first time. She looks like that video of the Iron Man triathletes when their legs just won’t work any longer. They fall and as hard as they will themselves, they can’t come up again. Physically done. Victimized. She couldn’t pull herself up and I know she was still terrified. I knew it probably seemed a lifetime before realizing our presence and feeling one of our physical touch.

I stepped before Elise and pulled our daughter up out of the crib. I couldn’t stand seeing her so helpless while trying so hard. I held her as Elise checked her over. Nothing was physically wrong with her as far as we could tell. It wasn’t long after we’d held our child that the screams and fright subsided. Apparently something was after her in her subconscious. She was scared. She was trying to escape and she screamed and cried out for help. Her mom and I were scared. The sound of your own child’s scream of fright & terror, and the sight of her physical helplessness are thankfully few and far between.

Mara slept with us that morning. She was burning up after – I guess we’re resolving to it being – her dream. I think she spiked a fever because the body’s natural response is to put off heat to “burn away the bad.” It wasn’t long before she was okay. We gave her water and made sure she was okay and comfortable enough to talk to us. I think the three of us had to allow time for our respective panic to subside. Eventually we all finally fell back to sleep, comfortably in Elise’s and my bed.

Seeing and hearing your child in that state is terrifying. It’s such a scary & unnerving feeling that sits with you for too, too long. And knowing that your child had to endure that experience is equally unnerving. Again, I’m just thankful this isn’t “normal” for us.

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