I wish I had a picture for this one. Funny stuff happens while we are out there running. I have to share this story because it was funny and fun. Two Sundays ago, I was coaching Evan, one of the athletes I work with. Evan is a fast, strong runner. We were running on the bike path near the Santa Monica Pier. My metronome was set at 87 or 174 strides per minute as we were warming up. It was mid-morning and beautiful. While we were focusing on our form this guy ran by us. I think it is the same guy I have seen on television. You may recognize him by this description. The guy who plays guitar on roller skates in Venice. He usually wears a turban on his head. Well, if this is the same guy and I think he is, he is a fast runner too.
Now we are all just cruising along and I say to Evan, “Add some lean from the ankles, let catch him.” We kept the cadence a 87. Slowly we start to catch him, just the way ChiRunning® works. As we get closer he hears our metronome and guess what happens, he starts to increase his cadence too and he speeds up.
By this time we are starting to move at a quick pace and every time we would get close he would accelerate. For some reason he would not let us pass him. So, I bumped up the cadence to 90 and kept that nice long stride flowing out the back. We were neck and neck, still he wouldn’t give an inch. We were definitely going sub 7 min. miles and it was a “test fest” – testosterone festival.
We reached our turn around point and let him go. It was just one of those funny, crazy things that happens out there. Evan and I laughed about it the whole way back. In the end it made our run even better, because I like to get the athletes I coach out of their comfort zones. That Sunday our mission was accomplished, we worked each other. If you have any funny stories, let us know. I like to hear about the fun stuff that happens out on the road.
Gary Conquers a Muddy Hill
The Griffith Park Trail Running and Yoga duathlon was quite a Saturday. Gary, Al and I hit the soaked trails. The first 30 minutes were very muddy and almost all uphill. We found a street and hit the pavement for another couple miles uphill. Then it was up another trail to get to the top of the ridge in the picture below. We picked a trail from our view on top, and spent another hour running down and back to the cars.
Gary and Al Work Toward the Top
Al left us at that time as Gary and I grabbed a quick bite to eat. Before we could totally digest, it was off to Coach Ilg’s High Performance Yoga® class. I have been fortunate enough to practice with Coach Ilg more than a few time. Gary got to experience it first hand for the first time. All that time in the mountains lately has taken Coach to another level. The room was not heated but Gary didn’t know it. He had to flip his mat over half-way through the class to find a dry space on it. I bring a beach towel and two other hand towels for sweat management when I take a HPY class. It was a great class. We finished with a couple pictures as Coach was headed up to Griffith Park to ride on some of the roads we ran up. What a day. Oh did I say how beautiful it was last Saturday. If you haven’t joined us for one of these trail runs, find your nature and come on out.
Me (Steve) and Coach Ilg after a High Performance Yoga® Class.
Finally a track workout with Gary.
We start at 6:00 P.M.
L-R Kathleen, Ken, Carolyn, Carrie, Gary, Heather, Kristin, Greg, Janice, Emily -Photo by Steve
Our first ChiRunning, Trail Running and Yoga Retreat went off without a hitch last Saturday. We had a great group of new ChiRunners attend the retreat on one of the most beautiful days of the year. The location couldn’t have been nicer, a view for miles.
We have given plenty of ChiRunning workshops but our idea of a whole day retreat took it to another level. Whether it is a 4 hour group workshop or a 2 hour private, It seems like there is never enough time. We were able to focus on the ChiRunning lessons with over four hours of instruction, have two fantastic trail runs and two restoritive yoga sessions.
The retreat theme carried through the day. Nothing is better than not being rushed and enjoying nature. We enjoyed an organic lunch, the wildflowers, good conversation and fun company.
We would like to thank Emily, Ken, Janice, Carolyn, Heather, Carrie, Greg, Kristin and Kathleen for their fantastic spirit, great attitude and willingness to learn. Now they know how to run in order to prevent injuries. They’ll have to practice of course, and they now have the knowledge for a lifetime of softer, kinder, more flowing, natural running. We will be sending them some additional tips privately.
If you missed it, you still have a chance to participate in our next ChiRunning, Trail Running and Yoga Retreat, Sunday, April 30, in Palos Verdes. That’s right, you have one more chance to get in our retreat before our next one in July. We will leave the price the same for SoCalRunning.com members, Beach Runners and Pasadena Tri Club members, $175. It will be $195 for non-members. To become a member, all you have to do is sign-up on the SoCalRunning.com front page. It’s free and you save $20.
Gary Smith & Steve Mackel
Check out our workshop page for our new workshops/retreats.
Our ChiRunners take a rest in Savasana, one of the yoga poses during our yoga session
I am writing this article for both sites, SoCalRunning.com and TriThisCoaching.com. I am not sure if I heard this on a tape but I am pretty sure Coach Ilg, founder of Wholistic Fitness®shared it with me first and now I am sharing it with you. You may have heard it before, if you have, bear with me. It doesn’t get any more basic than this version of the story.
The Buddha was born into a wealthy family as a prince. He experienced riches and a luxurious lifestyle. Feeling something wasn’t right he gave it all up. He set out and followed the ascetic practices for years. From depriving himself and being very hungry he took a bowl of milk rice from a maiden and broke the ascetic tradition. He sat under the bodhi tree, became enlightened and found the middle path. I have heard the middle path described as, “Like the strings of a lute, in order to be in tune they must not be wound too tight or too loose. They need to be somewhere in between.
How is your path, extremely uphill or extremely downhill? Maybe it is just too flat? Can you find your middle path? I write about this because of the way we train and the way we tend to live our lives, extremes. My next two articles will be about overtraining and adding cross-training, as I delve into this idea the Middle Path or being “in tune.” Take some time to consider your path.
Namaste (meaning: my spirit honors your spirit),
“We don’t need to be good all the time, we just need to love what we love for more goodness in the world.”
Catalina like so many of my goals was a dream. Just a vision in my imagination. Some years back, I learned the power of visualizing. Lately more and more of my readings have been pointing to the power of this latent ability of the mind. But the trick is to feel the results of your dreams. That is when the subconscious mind and the power of the infinite mind really kick in to create these very images and feelings in your world.
So what all that spiritual ramblings mean is that do this simple exercise to accomplish your running goals…
Visualize running the race you have always dreamed of doing. But feel the exhilaration of crossing the finish line–the joy, the exhaustion, the excitement of the crowd, and your pride for finishing the goal.
So I had been doing this for months. I had seen myself on the trails of Catalina, and crossed that finish line many, many times in my imagination.After arriving at Avalon, my parents picked me up at the boat dock and I had the good pleasure of their company for the weekend as I stayed on their boat. It is always wonderful to spend time with my parents, and this was an opportunity for them to spend the weekend in Catalina also. I ate breakfast with them to the pouring rain. Would it rain during the Marathon again? Would the trails be covered in mud making them unrunnable? Silly negative thoughts I had to quickly dismiss.
Took a nap, and watched the rain come down. As soon as it let up I went into shore at Avalon to go in and watch Southern Illinois University, my alma mater, play West Virginia in the NCAA tournament. I watched a half of basketball, quickly observing that SIU would get crushed by a larger, better organized team.
Then I tried to find the “greatest radio station in the world”. KISL 88.7 in Avalon. I found the radio station, but no-one was there. I had been listening to the station as I trained and their mix of real roots reggae on Sunday morning gave me the spiritual inspiration on those long trail runs. Unfortunately, you can only catch their radio signal right next to the coast. Well worth listening to. After too many chips and salsa, I needed something healthy so I found some vegetarian soup at a coffee shop and met Sophia, who was doing her first marathon. I love marathoners because anyone that chooses to run 26.2 has imagination and belief in the impossible that makes for a courageous interesting life. She shared stories of Morocco, training, and we reflected on spiritual principles of correct thought. I love when conversations get spiritual with someone I just met. I can learn something from everyone I meet.
Then the rain let up and I saw my first Catalina rainbow. I cannot remember ever seeing rainbows in Southern California and this month I’ve seen three. A nice reminder that the universe will bless us with beauty when we least expect it.
I registered for the marathon and headed back to the boat with my parents. I practiced yoga on the back of the boat, having to get creative with some asanas. I saw the sun go down. And I prayed for a good result the next day. That night prepared everything I had for the next day. Camera, electrolytes, vitamins, aspirin, vaseline, rain gear, sunglasses, and backpack.
The Next Day
My father drops me off at the Catalina Flyer dock the next morning. There 700 runners line up to get on the one way boat to Two Harbors at 6:00 a.m. in the morning. I met Jason and Rebecca in line who were also doing their first marathon as a husband/wife team. They had five kids, yet still found the time to train. I love hearing stories like this. Because it reminds me that I will still find time to run marathons as life progresses in the future. Plus it’s just plain inspirational. After tackling downtown LA traffic the previous years, to run the LA marathon, to sit on a boat in the early morning hours on the way to Two Harbors, seeing the sun come up, was a welcome change–another reminder of the beauty we are blessed with in Southern California.
The starting line was drawn in the dirt. There was not starting gun, no loud music, no crowded streets–a man said go, and we were off. The first three miles were uphill. Then we hit a downhill section then more miles of uphill. Some sections were so muddy, my shoes came off a couple of times. Generally I run with my shoelaces very loose, so I had to tighten them. Finally at about mile 6 we had a two mile downhill section and I had a chance to relax and flow down the hill. Other runners could not believe my speed and leg turnover, I later had to give away my real secret: ChiRunning.
Then miles 8-18 were a combination of hills and easy hills. Maybe you get the idea of how many hills were on this marathon. Then at mile 18 came “pumphouse hill”, the steepest hill on the marathon. I thought I might be exhausted, but I was just a little tired. I took my time swinging my arms, working efficiently up the hill, breathing, conversing with others, just enjoying myself, and soon, I was at the top and had my first views of Avalon.
Only 7 more hills followed that. Then the best part: the last three miles of the marathon were steep downhill, and began passing runners like crazy. I must say I was getting exhausted the last mile of the race, maybe I hadn’t quite trained as hard as I should have.
Results: 4 hours and 19 minutes. 113th place. 9th in my age group. I could not be happier with the results. In fact, I’m always happy with the results of a marathon. As long as I finish and enjoy myself. That’s the important thing, time is relative as Einstein would point out.
It was a dream come true to finish this Catalina. I met new friends, and came to see why runners return to this marathon year after year. I will return next year and want to train some other runners to run it with me so we can go to the bars after the race and do some real celebrating. Wanna join me?
Run with joy,