Thursday, March 25, 2010

Adventures in Running II

Well, I just did something I haven’t done in a real long time. I ran with some other people.  I have turned into a lone runner over the years because I like the time to think, pray, and listen to my I-Pod which I usually listen to sermons or classic rock to take my mind off of running.  But this past Friday was different.  I was invited to run with Stacey and Tom.  In fact, I began feeling like I had to run because Stacey sent me threatening texts about bailing out on them.  There was a slight twinge of that when I woke up and discovered that it was a rainy, drizzly Saturday morning.  But I was determined to not let my runner buddies down.  So I showed up at the Runner’s Spot by the running trail ready to go.  Now the nice thing about the local running trail is that it used to be the train path through town.  So this is a nice, flat, safe and easy route to run.  But we only did a half mile on the bike path until we went off the path and onto the country roads.  Here is the big difference: country roads have a lot of ups and downs! Oh the hills! And if that isn’t difficult enough, Stacey would use psychological mind games by saying things like “What goes down, must come up!”  And without the I-pod blaring in my ears it was all too easy to concentrate way to much mental energy in thinking about what I was doing.  And it is just not a good thing to think too hard about running while you are running.  A mental argument starts up where one voice says, “You can do this!” while the other voice is saying, “Oh my gosh, look at this freakin’ hill coming up? Why am I doing this?!? I’m gonna die!”

Now I know that I set some goals in my previous blog but I am going to have to scale back a little bit.  I stated the importance of beating Stacey.  Well, now that I have run 10 miles with her I think I can say with humble assurance that I will not beat her.  Not even close.  And Tom, being slightly older than me, I think he too will be way ahead of me.  No hope in beating either one of them.  So here is my revised goal: Beat everyone from my church except Stacey and Tom.  So look out Dave, Scott, and the others of Team Jake! I got you in my sights!

But more interesting things have been happening from my runs.  And this is not through the other runners but from girls in my youth group!  After running one day I received a text message from one of my Junior High girls.  She commented on the fact that she saw what I was wearing when I was running.  Now I know that there is a lot of funky clothing available for runners.  But I was only wearing a very normal pair of shorts and a loose white t-shirt with a Superman print on the front of it.  No big deal.  So I texted this teen back and questioned her comment.  She told me Superman wasn’t working for me! 

And then when I was running by the Whippy Dip I was lost in my I-pod but I did notice a group of girls who were standing close to the sidewalk and when I ran past them there was the sound of laughter.  I wasn’t sure what that was about and if it was directed at me so I just kept on going.  But I spent a lot of mental energy convincing myself that these random girls were not just laughing at me! Scary thing though is I really think they were, and I can’t figure out why?!?

And if this wasn’t awkward enough, I had another Senior High girl comment on my Facebook that she saw me running the day after my run.  And when I entered into the conversation she said I run like a girl!  RUN LIKE A GIRL?!?!?! What exactly is that? Running is running!  I did not realized there was a “guy way” and a “girl way” of running.  So I asked her to clarify what she means.  She said I run with my hands out front like a prissy girl!  At this point she was excommunicated from the youth group and her eternal salvation seriously questioned.  I have no idea where she saw me running so yes going down a hill I might be picking up speed and moving my arms a little more than usual or if I am going up a hill I might be running just fast enough to keep up with a snail.  But I can assure the world of one thing: I most certainly DO NOT run like a girl!

What is this?!? A conspiracy against the middle-age youth pastor!? I try to run a race for a great cause, and to take control of my heath and my youth group beats me down!  I will have NONE OF THIS!  So I decided to buy a full body lycra suit to run in.  By doing this I completely erase my identity!  No one will recognize me.  They will just see the strange green guy running by.  And it just might have enough weirdness factor that they will heed the warning to not make fun of their youth pastor when ALL HE IS DOING IS TRYING TO STAY HEALTHY SO I CAN BE YOUR YOUTH PASTOR FOR A VERY LONG TIME!  But NOOOOO! Mock my shirt. Laugh at me when I run past you. And worst of all, just say that I run like a girl.  This comes from the reality TV junkie of our youth group! She used to be an athlete but now has become and expert in reality TV programs! 

So I just want to go on record because I am feeling a little hurt!  I am doing something for me for once.  I have done a lot for my family and my youth group but now I just want to achieve this one thing: run a half marathon!  So if you want to give me some fashion tips on runner apparel, then FINE!  You want to run 10 miles with me and see what your arms do when the rest of your body is starting to convulse from the miles you’ve just ran?!?  Come on! I dare you! Run with me!  No more talk!  Let’s see you spectators get off your chair of judgment and join the team of running awesomeness!  

Until next week.


Friday, March 12, 2010

Adventures in Running

It is now coming up on over 5 years that I have been living in Cincinnati.  And every Spring the Flying Pig Marathon comes up and I think, "Hey, I would love to try and do that".  But being that the race is on the first weekend of May, if you really want to do the race, you need to be training throughout the Winter.  Unfortunately, my body tends to slip into a hibernation mode during the Winter and when Spring hits I am just beginning to try and get outside to exercise.   But then the Flying Pig comes and goes and I have a twinge of regret that I did not have the courage and fortitude to at least TRY and get involved.   But this year is different!  I am running and running a lot.  I have been working out throughout the Winter doing intense workouts that have helped to keep my endurance strong.  I have also been doing the insane running in frigid weather.  It actually is kind of fun battling the elements, even though in the past I usually had the temptation to run these types of people off the road.  I also have discovered the blessing of Under Armor even though it makes me look quite unsavory once I put it on.  Having a full keg of abs doesn’t look as good as a six-pack.  

And now it is beginning to feel like Spring outside.  It feels so good to run without 10 pounds of layered clothes on.  I actually went out in a t-shirt and shorts and ran 7 miles the other day.  So I am right on track to actually attempt the Flying Pig!  Here's the thing though. Since this is my first race since high school, I decided that I am going to do the half marathon this year.

As the weather is getting nicer people are starting to come out a little bit more and make my jogging experience more interesting.  The other day I was coming down a hill that bottoms out at the entrance to our local Kroger store.  As I was picking up some speed at the bottom of the hill I noticed a pick up truck waiting to turn on to the main road.  Now I know that it is the better part of wisdom to run around the back of the vehicle but I was already lost in my “runner’s high”.  That is when a combination of adrenaline and serotonin give your brain a rush and your eyes role back into your head and you lose yourself in the run.  So without thinking much I ran in front of this truck.  All of a sudden I noticed that the truck started moving as if it was going to turn quickly onto the road.  I immediately reacted as the image of me being bounced into the middle of the intersection flashed in my mind, and I slammed my hand down on the hood of the truck rapidly as I was trying to assess if I needed to jump quickly onto the hood!  Luckily the truck came to an abrupt halt as I tried to casually go back to running, hoping for no confrontation.  That is when I heard in a loud and panicked voice, “GOD, YOU SCARED ME!”  Without making any eye contact I just hollered over my left shoulder “YOU SCARED ME!”  (As you may have noticed, I did not refer to him as “God” although I felt pretty important that he called me by that name!) As I quickly kept running down the sidewalk, I was trying to subtly watch to see if the truck driver was going to double around and continue our friendly conversation.  But thankfully, he must have realized that we were both even and it’s time to move on.

As I was catching a wave of adrenaline from that near-death experience I rounded the next major intersection and came upon one of the oddest landmarks of Loveland which is called the “Whippy Dip”.  This is one of those sugar shacks that pump out substandard ice cream.  The strange thing is that Loveland people are crazy about this place!  They flock to it the moment it is opened and there are huge crowds there all the time.  I simply do not get it because we have Graeter’s Ice Cream and United Dairy Farmer’s Ice Cream that is a thousand times superior to the Whippy Dip slop.  Yet this place consistently draws the people in with their tractor-beam of sugary goodness.

Well, as I was coming up to Whippy Dip I just happened to notice that one of my Junior High girls was just getting an ice cream cone and turning to face her friends who were waiting for her.  I did a sprint right towards her and she did not notice me until I was about two steps in front of her.  With the speed of the surprise I was able to get a massive reaction from this Junior Higher who instantly screamed before she recognized me.  I felt bad just a little bit though because the friends that were with her did not act in her defense but collapsed in hysteria from this strange guy charging their friend.  I then just continued on my run with a smirk on my face as I heard behind me a familiar voice say, “SCOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOTT!”   Mission accomplished!

So here’s the deal.  If I am going to do this I need to set some goals.  So here it is:

1.  I need to run consistently at least 3 times a week. I would like to add some upper-body, core workouts at least once or twice a week just for something different.

2.  I just really want to cross the finish line.  I don’t know what a good time goal is since I have never done this before but I suppose that it would be good to try and finish the half-marathon in say 2-3 hours? . . . Ok, I’m back.  I just did a web search for last years’ results and the best time for 13 miles was 1:09!  A little over one hour!!! If you can pull off 13 miles in one hour why not just do the whole freakin’ thing!?! No, it must feel better to run past middle-aged men like me and smoke everyone in less time.  I swear I will trip you if you run past me!

3.  I have to beat all the guys in my church who are my age or older.  This goal has its roots back to the days when I ran in high school.  I was in cross country when I was a Freshman and a Sophomore.  So at that stage of life, those teens who were older than me had the advantage of more experience, training and mental and physical development.  The completely AWESOME thing at this stage of life is that people older than me have a distinct disadvantage because their age is more of a detriment than a blessing!  So I must beat them.

4.  I really want to beat all the women that are in my church too.  And I do mean all.  But most importantly I need to outpace Stacey.  Now before you label me a sexist let me explain.  See, once again this goes back to past insecurities as a young high school runner.  Back when I was in cross country there was no distinction between the sexes when it came to race day.  The guys and girls all lined up on the same starting line and ran together.  This lead to the demoralizing experience right around the 2 mile mark when girls would start flying past me.  No other sport had guys and girls mixed for competition!  In fact, it would seem that once I graduated, then the girls had their own races separated from the guys!  Now, the deal with Stacey is that her name is the same as the first girlfriend I had in Junior High who broke up with me because she said I was too immature.  This was a cataclysmic event in my 7th grade life.  I was so impacted by this first break-up that I think that I just stopped maturing from that point on.  Stacey left deep, deep scars.  So now I am running with this other Stacey whom I never even knew when I was in Junior High but simply having the same name as the first girl who absolutely smashed my heart to freakin’ pieces is just too much to bear.  I will have victory over all Stacey’s in this race!

5.  I want to try to complete the race without walking.  The temptation is always there but no matter how slow I am going I want to keep it somewhere between a slow jog and a sprint.  Maybe if I just need a quick break I can throw on some wheelies for a mile or two and just glide for a while. 

6.  And then finally, in all seriousness, I am running with a bunch of people from my church for a very good cause.  We have one of our students at our church who is currently battling cancer.  His name is Jake and he is in 6th grade.  He is currently going through an intense regimen of Chemotherapy.  You can learn more about him by going to  or check his status by joining and searching “jakeferrell”. We all are trying to raise money for the family to help supplement their medical bills and expenses during this difficult time.  So if you would like to support me in the Flying Pig marathon you can find my cause on Facebook or send in your support to Epiphany UMC ATTN: Scott Russ (race for Jake Ferrell), 6635 Loveland-Miamiville Road, Loveland, OH 45140.  I appreciate your prayers and support for the Ferrell family and that I make it through race day with my team! 
Who knows what this race will do!  Maybe next year I will attempt the full marathon and then the next year it will be the Iron Man Race!  Only in my dreams!  Thanks for checking out the blog and considering supporting me in this race as I run for one of my pre-teens!