Below is my 2014 tentative race calendar. Provided I stay injury free, the following are on my radar with New York City Marathon confirmed.
Exercise is not only good for the body, your brain also benefits.
A lifetime of exercise can result in a sometimes astonishing elevation in cognitive performance, compared with those who are sedentary. Exercisers outperform couch potatoes in tests that measure long-term memory, reasoning, attention, problem-solving, even so-called fluid-intelligence tasks.
Of course, exercise can also make us happier, as we’ve explored before:
If you start exercising, your brain recognizes this as a moment of stress. As your heart pressure increases, the brain thinks you are either fighting the enemy or fleeing from it. To protect yourself and your brain from stress, you release a protein called BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor). This BDNF has a protective and also reparative element to your memory neurons and acts as a reset switch. That’s why we often feel so at ease and things are clear after exercising and eventually happy.
At the same time, endorphins, another chemical to fight stress, are released in your brain. The main purpose of endorphis is this, writes researcher McGovern:
These endorphins tend to minimize the discomfort of exercise, block the feeling of pain and are even associated with a feeling of euphoria.
Today marks 6 days since running the 2013 Gateway Outer Banks Marathon. Since this was a PR marathon for me, I would like to provide a short report on the course and experience.
Outer Banks (OBX) Marathon offers beauty, history, and pockets of sincere crowd support. This year the race was capped at 2,500 runners; something I understood later along the course. Just in front of me, in the elite corral, I offered support to Dalena Custer and Bill Shires, two strong runners from Charlotte who I train with. They took off a minute before the rest of the marathoners, fading around the bend. As the race director counted down, I took a couple deep breaths and mentally prepared for a few hours on my feet.
Miles 1-6 were relaxing on winding two lane roads. I settled into my target pace of 6:36, hoping to group up with other runners around the same split. Unfortunately, that never happened and I relied on the crowd as running partners.
Miles 6-12 warmed up with sunshine and historical flight. Passing by the famous Wright Brother Monument allowed you to shift focus, enjoying the beauty where the first flight took place. Surprisingly my wife had staked out a spot around mile 8.5, bringing an instant smile to my face. With my pace still on target, things were going pretty well before starting the Nags Head Woods Nature Preserve at mile 10.
Miles 12-18 brought back memories of running junior varsity cross country. After two miles on hard packed gravel and sand, the course took a sharp left up a hill onto a narrow trail. I caught a pack of three runners; Natalie Hall, Jim Warrenfeltz (author of Runner’s World article: Race Recap: The Outer Banks Marathon), and Martin Thorne. Martin and Jim let me glide by and when the course returned to the road, I hung with Natalie for a bit. Jim caught back up a mile later and we enjoyed talking before I pulled away. Hindsight, I should have stayed with good company!
Miles 18-21 were flat and fast. Around mile 20 my wife was there to greet me with a gel and supporting words. Continuing around 6:36 pace, I could feel my legs getting heavy.
Miles 22-26.2, welcome to survival mode. A combination of wind (headwind at 8 mph) and fatigue hit me like a ton of bricks around mile 22. My pace slowed to low 7 minute miles. Natalie breezed past me, offering some kind words that gave me strength. I made it over the bridge and passed mile 24 cranking out high 7 minute pace. Jim passed me and then I realized that I had just over a mile left. Cruising in to the finish felt great, an inexpressible feeling of accomplishment that all runners love.
OBX was my 4th marathon, giving me a new PR of 2:58:45. My time was a bit slower than goal, however I was pleased with the result.
It’s been two months since my last track workout. I’m proud to report this morning, I am officially back!
My stress fracture recovery has gone well. Over the last couple weeks, I have only ran three times week, ranging anywhere from 2-8 miles. Additionally, I have continued swimming, biking and bodyweight exercises to keep my cardiovascular system in check.
I’ll admit it, last night and this morning I was nervous about picking up hard running again. Everyone’s positive energy and words gave me great encouragement on the way to the speed loop. It’s amazing how working out with a group can make all the difference.
Special thanks to Caitlin Bullock, Laurie Sturgell Knowles, David Willis, Charlie Kishman, Caleb Boyd, Matt Jaskot, Jesse Mcentire and Ryan Crosswell for the support this morning.