Sweet Sassy Molase: 5 Days Left by charles desrochers

It’s been a while since the last post but that has mostly to do with the runs getting longer and the free-time shrinking. My last long run was 17 miles, running from the Valley almost all the way to the beach and back, cutting through the backyards of the wealthy and secluded before running back the 8 or so miles back.

The 5 mile runs aren’t anything to write home about anymore (get it?), which is encouraging in terms of keeping some kind of regimen up after the race. The longer runs on the other hand aren’t getting better. I look at my phone and it says that I set a few personal records for 5K, 5, 10, 15 miles and all of the segments other people have put on the app, but it doesn’t feel any easier. It feels like hot dog shit. Hot, steaming “rover ate too many grapes,” dog shit.

If I had to say what the main difference between now and 2011 is, other than the aches and pains, is how fast I sweat. Seriously. It’s a fucking problem.

On my last long run I went through 3 liters of water, stopping to fill the Camelback 5 times at every possible water fountain and hose along the way. But sure enough, my shirt was drenched and my sweat had run dry by the last half-a-mile-long climb. It’s been hot in Los Angeles.

With the race less than a week away I think the first thing I need to focus on is how to get my electrolytes up, whether that means pounding coconut waters, mixing some gatorade into my Camelback or eating pure salt. I’m going to have to figure it out or else I’m going to run out of steam.

Speaking of which, concern #2 is bonking. It’s been happening more and more, but I think that I can get around that with gel packs and a few carbs the night before.

The carb load isn’t ideal though, because I don’t want to shit my pants.

God Damned Sprinklers: 26 Days by charles desrochers

What is so great about 9:30 PM that ever mother fucking sprinkler in my neighborhood goes off?

Why did I choose to go on a run at 9:30 PM in the first place?

Why was I running on a hill where there’s an enormous concert venue letting out thousands of people who flood the sidewalk?

We may never know the answer to life’s important questions but one thing is for certain, yesterday’s run sucked.

I know I say that a lot. Pretty much every run is awful, shitty, terrible and the worst but this one takes the cake. It had a few of the golden oldies as well as a few fresh slices of bullshit. I was running a little late (pun intended) because the wife and I went out to see a comedy show across town. The show was pretty funny, a little frenetic and long for my taste but we definitely enjoyed it. To hurry a meal after work I inhaled a sandwich and shoveled macaroni salad right before walking the dog and getting to the show.

Not that you care about my dinner, I just say that to give context for the brick in my stomach when I got to mile 2.

I’m still getting over my cold so I decided not to smoke any weed for this run, which would make it another first for this training. I was surprised how fast the first part of the sober run went but the clear head meant that ever tiny ankle sprain and blister I’ve acquired from trying to get to a 26.2 Mile distance in two months started to creep into my mind and occupy some real-estate.

I wanted to stop early. There’s a point in my run where I can easily take a left, then go down a short hill and be in bed in less than 3 minutes. But I decided that if it was so easy to give up at that moment then it would be easy to give up later too, so I ran a bit more and told myself that if I REALLY wasn’t feeling it I could turn back. I was still getting over a flu and it was late so I decided to be kind to myself for once.

That was a mistake.

As I made my way up the hill I started to wonder why there were so many people walking the opposite way. What started as a few couples here and there turned into a small trickle which turned into a downpour.

Seeing so many rude people not move out of the way or step aside as a courtesy really pissed me off at first but then I realized what was going on. The concert let out.

Soon the sidewalk was flooded with hipsters all hopped up on their Bon Iver concert, or whatever, and I was running next to the sidewalk, tripping over tree roots and twisting ankles on uneven and poorly lit ground. Just as it seemed that there couldn’t be any more people I said “fuck it.” With about 30 yards left I turned around and ran down the grassy median instead of contending again with the hordes of concert goers who couldn’t care less for anyone else.

That’s when the sprinklers went off.

That lasted the entire hill down. I had to waited patiently for cars to stop so I could cross the street. They didn’t. It didn’t matter that they were stuck in bumper to bumper traffic and I was making eye contact with every single one of them. Nope. They just kept on driving.

Once I got back to the main road everything was fine but I was wired for the whole night and couldn’t catch any rest until I played a video game or two. The next morning I weighed myself to find that I was at my lightest in 3 years. With just a month and a half of running I’ve lost 15 pounds and counting. I’m hot all of the time, which is something I forgot happens when my metabolism starts to kick in, but I’m not gonna start complaining about that too. There’s a few pairs of pants I’ve been meaning to fit back in to.

Babies Babies Babies: 28 Days Left by charles desrochers

I did it.

I did my first 10-mile-run of this training. As an added bonus my legs have been fucked for two days, so that’s fun.

The route I run is a pain in the ass- just as much up hill as anything. I want to hope that it’s going to get easier but with only two runs in I feel like it’s not. My route was a 5-mile out-and-back cutting from one part of the city to another, with so much terrain in between that if I get hurt then I’m still stuck having to get back to my car.

Unlike last time I planned ahead sufficiently and made sure to memorize the landmarks that I would pass. There’s nothing I hate more than being tired, panting, pushing my legs to move faster and then looking up to realize I have no idea where the hell I am on the trail. Being more prepared helped my lungs out a lot, but so did the edible I took at the beginning of the run. Until it didn’t, that is.

One of the reasons I like this trail so much is that every 2 miles there’s something new to it. The first chunk is all trails that overlook the suburbs, then the next is a wonderful winding dirt toad that slowly reveals the other half of the view. From there you get onto another path that is without a doubt the best stretch anywhere. There’s no tourists, no wannabe Instagram models and no fuck-boys trying to land an agent. Maybe because it’s basically in the backyards of wealthy houses that there’s just not a lot of people cutting through save for the occasional runner… like me!

The edible kicked in right around 3.5 miles, right when I crossed over the ridge to some pretty spectacular views. I was trying out a new running playlist from Spotify- the first time I’ve ran with music this training too- and I swear to god I fell asleep for a few seconds. At first the edible was really cool, literally. I felt the sweat on my forearms cooling me off as the breezes brushed up from the valleys below to hit my face. It was wonderful.

About 10 minutes later that all changed. Instead of being ‘in my head but out of the moment’ I was ‘in my head and trapped running this trail.’ Normally, I like to zone out and think of anything other than how much running sucks, but on this run my mind was going a mile a minute while also being paranoid to all hell that I was going to suffer some catastrophic injury in which I would have to drag myself back to my car, bleeding and wrecked.

Luckily that didn’t happen.

All the extra beats in my heart took some motivation out of me and what started as a enjoyable run with myself saying, “It’s okay, this is for fun,” turned in to “It’s okay, I’m going to die and then nothing will hurt ever again.”

I ended up ‘bonking’ pretty hard at mile 10 with still one more uphill mile left. Maybe I walked half or maybe I walked most of it. The truth is it was 102 degrees and I had been running already for 2 hours so my ego wasn’t going to get hurt by going a little light at the end.

The run wrecked me for most of the day but we had to visit some friends who just had their first child. The turn around from coming back from my run to leaving to see the baby was about 15 minutes, and my wife was asleep the whole time so I couldn’t even get any sympathy from her. When we got back I was fried, hopped up on holding babies, and ready for beer. Come Monday I caught the flu and had to take my 1st run of the week off, which is another first for this training too. I’ve been excellent about making myself go for these 3-a-week runs but with the flu I’m not going to take it easy.

Two Runs, Breaking Bad: 31 Days Left by charles desrochers

This week was always going to be stressful. It was always going to take about 70% of my attention and leave little else besides breathing, eating, and whatever running is. This is one of those weeks where you job has 9 extra bosses, for some reason. I knew it was coming, though. So it’s not like I’m prepared for it. Let’s just say that the last time I was under this much stress I drank a lot of lemon juice to have something sweet to taste throughout the day.

I ground my teeth so much and wasted them away with citric acid of my precious fucking lemon water that I bit a piece of my own molar off.

This time is different. I’m running, obviously, but I’m deeper into a relationship that’s been one of the truest joys in my life. For what it’s worth, I have a dog and he’s generally a piece of shit but he’s super squishy and fun to hug.

Monday’s run didn’t happen.

Tuesday’s run, that used to be Monday’s run, was actually great. It took me a while to force myself out of the door, but I started to make my Mondays, the short day, also 4-5 mile days. So on Monday I jogged out in my finger shoes (I know but they do feel really comfortable) and hopped along my new long local route. I knew it felt good and I could feel myself pumping more and more, while also figuring out how my muscles best work in coordination.

I had to make myself stop to cool down at the end, knowing that I wouldn’t get any sleep if I ran to my door step.

Today’s run was messy. I did it with my running shoes, which are Altra zero drop whatever’s, in case you’re wondering. It’s the same route I did on Tuesday but I realized there’s a different feeling to running a catch up run than a late run. The difference is that one you can take it easy- because we all should be allowed to forgive ourselves- bot on the second you’re making up for lost time and the world will end if you’re not making any progress!

I run mostly in the dark. I don’t want to read much into it because the truth is that I don’t like to run in the morning and my job is demanding enough that I shouldn’t rely on being home during the day. So I run at night.

I have glasses.

I have an astigmatism (imagine there was a message from god in every beam of light you’ve ever seen).

You put these two together and what it means is that when I’m out at night and there’s moisture anywhere, I’m just hoping for the best: jog on the windshield; fog on the glasses; fog on only the windshield and you wipe it to make it better; realizing there’s still fog on your glasses.

In a strange way I love not seeing at night. It ads some excitement as far as not seeing low hanging branches, but it lets me fall into the dream state of running even more. At a certain point I only recognize blotches of dark colors as warning. If there’s nothing ‘dark and straight across’ to signify a crack in the sidewalk or a ‘large lump of dark blue’ coming up than you could just focus on what was important… Saying sorry?

But like the first run the second eventually led to my moment of content when I realized sooner that I could run faster.

There was a hill that I was running, the loop I run has a 3 mile stretch of rollers and it’s actually always a good time, and I noticed a point when I wasn’t tired.

It really was the strangest thing. It was like the novelty became that it didn’t suck. And so while I listened to my podcasts about the NFL I ran happy and full of breath.

(It doesn’t hurt that the last 2 miles of my loop is down hill, mostly).

Someone Got Toastie: 35 Days Left by charles desrochers

This weekend was my furthest run in this round of training and I chose a hell of a path to cut my teeth on.

I’m lucky enough that my city has a surprising variety when it comes to trails to do long distance runs on (despite what anyone might tell you), and rather than run on lovely and flat walkways on beaches or tree shaded parks I chose to go into the mountains, where there’s little to no cover and run 7 miles up hills, down hills, up some more hills and then back down. All in all I wasn’t in a hurry and didn’t break any personal records, logging the 7 miles in nearly an hour and a half.

There’s also mountain lions, but I’ll tell that story at the end of this.

I wasn’t looking to get anything out of this run, performance-wise. For the most part I just wanted to see if I could make myself do a thing for an hour or so without giving up. And guess what? I did it!

Sure, I stopped multiple times. Sure, I walked up a hill for a moment or two. But that doesn’t matter. The last marathon I ran was a while ago and the number 1 rule I came to know and love was to not give up and just KEEP MOVING. So that’s what this was more about, just keep moving in the 90+ degree sun bathed afternoon.

I wish I could say that I was so tired I came home and immediately fell asleep, but instead I was somewhere between exhausted and buzzing with energy. I had too much energy to take a nap but was too worn down and tired to do anything productive. A few beers later I think I got 15 minutes of honest rest.

Meal Update:

If you remember from last week breakfast was my downfall then, but this week I got that mostly handled. I still had some reflux during my run but that was my own damn fault. The night before we went to a bar for a birthday and tied a few on, but all in all I’d say the smoothie approach is definitely the best. I blended some orange, pear, banana, and almond milk with ice to give it a chill. The drink went down pretty easy and there was a big enough gap between breakfast, driving to the canyon, and actually running that I was good to go once I reached the trail head. Try it out. Four stroke gang.

Not A Mountain Lion

One day some time ago I was running along this same trail and, like everywhere in the Fall, the sun set early. At first it seems magical. The wind shooting off of the hills cools the airs creating a layer of dew and fog as you try and keep your pace in the dark while avoiding the ankle killing rocks and tiny cracks in the ground from the last rainfall. Sometime along that run I ran under some enormous power lines and not only could I hear the buzz and crackle as the steal cables bent and waved in the wind, but also feel the electricity literally touching my skin and causing my hairs to stand up on end. By the time I had 2 miles left in this run it had gone completely dark, with the only light being the moon and the city below me sprawling for miles and miles until the next mountain rage.

Trying to stay focused my mind couldn’t help but wander and that led to noticing the giant piles of shit on the trail.

“Oh my god,” I thought. “That’s mountain lion shit and they’re going to eat me and I’m going to die wearing gym clothes,” which is a serious fear of mine.

I started whistling because I thought I heard somewhere on some Discovery show that they hate noise, which didn’t make sense because why would they be scared of someone whistling like they’re having a lovely day. Then I started talking to myself and kicking rocks around to at least not scare anything that could be sleeping in the bushes along my run. I felt like such an idiot be scared but I was because fucking mountain lions. Finally I got to the trail head where even the moon barely lit the way back to my car.

It wasn’t over though. There in the middle of my path was a giant new pile of shit. Damn it!

There’s a few times in my life where I’ve come to grips with my own mortality. One that comes to mind was on a plane hitting turbulence over Chicago so bad we got diverted to Indianapolis, the Indianapolis of the mid-west. This was definitely one of those moments. I was tired from a 15-mile run and couldn’t even be bothered to run away if a big cat wanted me, so I stretched out the acid, took a deep breath and relaxed.

That’s when the thought finally occurred to me, this trail has a ton of horses on it that ranchers ride to stretch their legs. This had been horse shit the entire time! I was relieved that 1) I wasn’t going to get eaten today and 2) that I wasn’t going to be embarrassed by dressing in athletic garb but unable to run away from a thing.

Another thought did occur right after that brief splendor…

What asshole isn’t picking up after their horse?

Talk About John Wick: 37 Days Left by charles desrochers

Let’s get the running part out of the way.

I’m a day late because I had a major bout of depression and looking at one of my, now regular 5-mile, runs; I just didn’t want to. So I stayed in, had a drink, watched the Godfather with my lovely wife, and had a great time. I kind of realized that the more I do this the more time I’m taking away from her, and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing.

I don’t mean it in the “Oh she loves being with me. I’m so frickin’ great that who, but me, would she want to hang out with?”

I mean it more in the, “Holy shit I love this woman and why would I ever want to do anything other than be around her?”

We’re still newly weds.

But I told myself that I would run today and so I did.

My 5-mile loop was a little weird, in the sense that it was by bumper-to-bumper traffic for most of it. There’s a big concert venue along my running path and on particular nights there’s a line of cars that stretches the entire route, and today, was that. I kind of like ‘people watching’ when I drive, but doing it when you’re running is on a whole other level. I could smell the cigars from a Cadillac, the weed from a Honda, hear the R&B from a brand new Porsche, smell the weed from another Honda.

I felt guilty every time I stopped at a traffic light, because I wanted to get ready for this race, but at least it wasn’t boring.

Again, I forgot to turn my tracker on at the start of my run so I do'n’t know my real time. I’m waiting for my wife to get back from a class and can’t wait to just hang out.

Oh.

Also.

John Wick is really fucking great.

Am I RIGHT?

Not That Bad: 39 Days Left by charles desrochers

Mondays are my short run. I’ll take a route up a few hills, then to the park, which itself is a giant hill. I tend to gravitate towards hill runs because my short thick legs can push my body up a hill better than it can speed up on the flat ground.

I’ve gotten pretty good at these 3-mile runs. Almost every time is a new PR and I feel better and better at the ends. In a perfect world the marathon would be 27 little 3 mile runs pieced together and bracketed by a sandwich bag of oranges.

Even though I feel good about the runs getting easier and easier I know it’s fool’s gold of sorts. I’m still licking my wounds from giving up on my 7 mile run this past Saturday and I’m not looking forward to the sequel this week. We’ll see what the better diet does but in the mean time I’m feeling pretty good.

Weight loss Update 1:

Today marked the first day in 9 months since I’ve been at 205. Maybe one or two days I got close, waking up after a vodka bender to see that I’m a svelte 206 on account of the dehydration, but the hang overs never let me celebrate for very long. I honestly expected the weight to just fall off of me but I completely forgot running makes you hungryevery waking moment of their day. I wake up, I’m hungry. I go to work, I’m hungry. I’m eating, I’m hungry. Today alone I’ve eaten 2 sushi rolls, a half pound of walnuts, a handful of candy, and a breakfast scone, which is a normal scone that you have instead of breakfast because you’re a garbage person.

I’m hoping that by the time the marathon comes I’ll have figured some of this stuff out, but for now I’m just going to keep eating whatever is in my reach, feel incredible shame, and then go for a run. That’s healthy, right?

Too Damn Hot: 41 Days Left by charles desrochers

Just as I was starting to feel good about my progress, adding another 2 miles to my long run, the sun began to pierce through the air and bake my skin, sucking me dry.

What was supposed to be a simple 7-mile run around a lake stopped short at a 3 mile dehydrating trot. To be fair, I drank the night before, and to be even more fair I had a big breakfast. I couldn't tell you which one did me in more: the feeling that there was a ball of potatoes and eggs in my stomach that refused to let any water by like a bachelor party arguing with bouncer, or the need to quench my thirst along the sun drenched non-shaded running path.

Ultimately I LET myself stop and that can't happen again. I told myself that it was okay if, just this one time, I let up and go home to lick my wounds. On the plus side my legs feel great because they didn't have the extra work so I'm hoping Monday's run goes smoothly and I can make a sprint out of it.

The marathon being in the morning is going to be a problem considering all of my running is done at night and my mornings usually consist of shaking off cobwebs and fighting off the indigestion I seem to be getting more and more. I think the best thing for me is to have these 2-hour clunker runs over the next few weeks be in the AM so lets take a look at a few options I have for breakfast.

Option 1: No Breakfast

Not my favorite. The older I get the more I realize that my performance in anything has a lot to do with what I eat. Am I crabby at work? It's probably because I didn't eat breakfast. Am I dragging at 3 PM? That's probably because I didn't eat enough for lunch. Hell, I'm that guy in the office that has a whole drawer of mixed nuts, beef jerky and seaweed. I feel that if I don't eat something before these runs than I'm going to bonk out hard and fast. Those little losses of walking up a hill or worse, cutting a run early, is going to pile up until this marathon is completely out of my ability.

Option 2: The Hungry Man

This is what got me in trouble this week. I had two over hard eggs, a side of bacon and a side of home fries. It was all homemade at least but it still caused enough acid in my gut to give me some of the worst gerd I've ever had (basically acid reflux. Everything in your gut hurts and water doesn't help because it just crowds the bus that much more). I could try halving this meal but why risk another wasted Saturday run if that doesn't work.

Option 3: Leaf Eater Special

Green shake with fruits, veggies, and nut butter. I'm thinking this is going to work the best but we'll see. Ideally everything being blended and liquefied should just slide down my gut fast and easy. I'm not the type of person to fuss over the dogma of my food so if it's clean and tasty I'll eat anything, switching to a mostly plant based breakfast for the sake of fast absorption is fine.

Let's be honest, I also have to not drink the night before these runs. I'm pretty sure that with all things being equal a few cocktails and vodka sodas isn't how premier athletes gets ready. Or maybe they do? I don't know, but I'm definitely not a premier athlete so I'll stick with the shake for now.

A Bad Idea: 43 Days Left by charles desrochers

The last marathon I trained for seemed a lot easier, but that was 6 years ago. Back then, I still had some pep in my step and definitely more cartilage in my knees. I had just moved to Los Angeles and I didn't have much going on. I just broke off a year-long engagement to my high school sweetheart and moved across the country for a shot in the dark interview for an internship at what I thought was a marketing company (it wasn't). I didn't have much going on, so the running- slowly ramping up to about 30 miles a week- didn't take as much effort. If anything it was a reprieve from the uncertainty I was facing every day as my savings wasted away and my job prospects remained unchanged.

Now, I'm married with plans on starting a family this year. Now, I have a career that pays well but is demanding, snapping pieces of molars as I chew beef jerky from all of the nervous night-time teeth grinding. Now, I have even less time between the bevy of creative projects I've started and struggle to finish.

But fuck it. Let's try to run a Marathon with less than two months to train!

I've always been impulsive but frugal, which usually keeps me from doing stupid shit. The ticket price of $160 for the opportunity to run 300+ miles in less than a season doesn't appeal to a lot of people, and admittedly it doesn't appeal to me either. But my weight has ballooned up in my 30's and now I'm as heavy as I was in high school. For most people that's a good thing but I was fat 75% of the year back then.

The truth is that I wanted to shake things up. I had become comfortable with life and I don't do well with that. Call it nervous energy or call it depression, all I know is that it's not good for my mood or my relationships. I have a tendency to hyper focus on things for short periods of time. In most cases it means I can pick up lessons extremely fast, but it also means that I get transfixed by pieces of news or trends in pop-culture, making it the only thing I can concentrate on in my free time.

Sometimes that's good, sometimes that's bad.

My valleys are low and my peeks are high, with less and less time in the between. I went to a therapist for the first time in 8 years and found out the thing that pushes a lot of my creative energy, CHANGE, is also the cause of my now diagnosed depression. Great.

I started writing again, but that's a forest in which you can get lost in the trees. I started producing a show with my wife but that will take another few months to come to fruition. The peace I found in working on these felt great and I could rest my head at night knowing I was milking the day for all it was worth. But as those tasks got easier and there was more free time in my day those empty moments were filled with doubt and depression.

That's where running came into play.

The last time I was running for fun I had broken up with my girlfriend of 7 years and was looking to hit the social scene with a splash. My goal was to lose all of my premature dad-bod, get a good career-type job, and get on with the life I put on hold while in a failing relationship. It kept me from drinking too much and got me used to making myself do things I didn't want to.

This time around the relationship part of my life is rock solid, but I have gotten squishy in appearance and attitude so something has to change.

I think everyone has their meditations, if not about running than something else. I have two meditations in my life. One is bike riding and the other is running. Riding my bike in and out of LA traffic on a fixed-gear/no-breaks bike made me as present as I ever could be. When there's nothing in between you and the 25-mile-per-hour Prius to your left there's very little that can distract from the singular thought of "Do Not Die."

With biking my luck eventually ran out and I was struck by a pair of Italian tourists trying to beat a traffic light. Even though I recovered completely and will ride from time to time, it's not with the same fearlessness that I used to. And with that there's a lot of joy that I had to replace. More on that later.

Running is the opposite experience. Rather than being in the moment, running for distance gives my brain the chance to wander wherever it needs to. I figure a lot out on my runs. Just recently I even realized I had a lot of apologizing to do to a co-worker, which helped us tremendously.

I feel revitalized after a run, not tired. I feel like I can tackle anything and match anyone.

The difference between now and when I ran so many years ago though is my body. I'm not mad about it, more fascinated. Things hurt that didn't used to. Parts of my body ache, my knees click, spots in my back swell up. I feel like Jeff Goldblum as he's about to turn into the Fly. Last night after finishing my first 5-mile run I laid on the couch and said to my wife, which I never said in my previous training - mostly because I didn't have anyone to talk to - that I "might have made a mistake."

She assured me I didn't, but still... This could be a bad idea. Not that training is a bad idea in general, but my plan is a little intense. I want to increase my distance by at least 2 miles every week, ramping up to 20 miles runs the week or two before the race. That's a lot of distance to cover in a short amount of time and I genuinely don't know if it will work out or my legs/feet will hold up. But the great thing about running is that it always sucks. So the extra doubt doesn't necessarily stop me from trying.