Running up, over and through the cogs

Posts tagged “Iron Lung Fitness

Joys of a Journey that Never Ends

“We should all do what, in the long run, gives us joy, even if it is only picking grapes or sorting the laundry.”

E.B. White

jeff and edna namibia 2016 1

Me, greeting and embracing my wife, Edna, at the finish line of Racing the Planet’s 2016 250k Sahara Race (Namibia)

You won’t be able to do that forever, you know.

You’ll ruin your knees.

You’re too skinny.

I’ve heard it all before. Keep running like you do and you’ll be sorry.

WRONG.

I’ll be ecstatic! And guess what… I am!

Before I found running I was an overweight, depressed young man with little to look forward to. I was wandering the earth (from my couch) lost, disconnected socially, struggling to define myself.

Getting off my ass saved my life and sent me on a journey that has taken me all over the globe. It led me to start my own successful business. It’s how I found my wife.

You won’t be able to do that forever, you know.

You’ll ruin your knees.

You’re too skinny.

jeff-lung-before-and-after

Um… no.

I started this blog 5 years ago knowing on I was on the cusp of something special. The changes that were taking place in my body and in my mind were beyond positive. I was excited to wake up every morning, to see what great things I could do in my community, to see where the boundaries of limitations might be on any given day, only to push them back a bit further and transform into a better version of myself. I wanted to share my journey. I wanted to inspire others.

Though my posting frequency has dropped off a bit this year, I am happy to report that the journey is alive and well. In May, I accompanied my (now) wife, Edna Jackeline Vazquez, to Namibia as she raced another 250k across the desert. I tagged along as a race volunteer, much like I did last year in China, and once again, I was extremely impressed with the amount of love, strength and fortitude the ultrarunning community provides. The amount of individual accomplishments witnessed in just one of these 7-day stage races is enough to fill a lifetime. I have now been lucky enough to volunteer at two of them; and I must say I am now eager (and mentally prepared) to compete myself, someday soon. Meanwhile, my wife only has one more race to go, The Last Desert: Antarctica, before she becomes a member of the ultrarunning elite 4 Deserts club.

jeff and edna namibia 2016 2

In June, with just one hour and two minutes to spare before the 32-hour cutoff, I crossed the finish line of the Mohican Trail 100, arms raised, legs shot, brain fried. It was a grueling, soul crushing challenge that I never gave up on, despite not being in the best mental space. A full report is certainly in order, but the short version is that I had to adapt from the original race plan and dig deep to finish all on my own, without a pacer, fighting an overwhelming desire to sleep and the urge to quit entirely.

I also sat in a hot tub in my hotel after the race which deserves a report of its own. I highly recommend.

Jeff Lung Mohican 100 2016

In July, I got married! I married my ultimate pacer for life, Edna, whom I met through… yep, RUNNING… thus completing (and also starting anew) the continued life-as-an-ultramarathon metaphor. It was a glorious day filled with love, joy and Michael Jackson dance moves. Te amo, mi amor!

jeff and edna wedding

My business continues to make a difference in the lives of those looking for change. I am thankful to be witness every day to life altering hard work and dedication. Losing weight, getting stronger, being the best versions of themselves possible — my students continue to impress with their willingness to explore their limits on the paths of their own journeys. A young boxer I work with, Alex “The Bull” Garcia, is the epitome of such hard work and dedication. He comes to work hard every day, striving to be the best he can be, knowing that sport can be the door to an open mind and a brighter future.

Iron Lung Fitness boxing

In Alex Garcia’s corner of his most recent match which he dominated and won.

My own boxing career continues as well as I prepare for an October 1 bout in Libertyville (more details to come). Meanwhile, Edna and I are planning to make a reappearance at the Evergreen Lake Ultra (51 Miles), a race we thoroughly enjoyed back in 2014, as well as run the 2016 Chicago Marathon, together. The latter will be the ultimate combination of my favorite race meets my favorite person. We plan to run side by side the whole way.

I look forward to celebrating in the streets!

So to my fellow run crazies, the next time someone says to you:

You won’t be able to do that forever, you know.

You’ll ruin your knees.

You’re too skinny.

Just remember:

It saved my life.

It brought me my wife.

It gave me a reason to get up and be the best version of myself possible, each and every day.

jeff and edna wedding selfie

 

 

 


2013: A Year of Patience, Perseverance and Perspective

2013 pic
After a 2012 that saw me break beaucoup barriers and dream of crossing the marathon finish line with a 2-hour-something time, it would be easy to assume that 2013 was a letdown year for me. I didn’t come close to my goal time for 26.2. I suffered through a long recovery from ITBS. I got a nasty case of Achilles tendonitis.

But just like in any other discourse, life is what you make it.

So, positively speaking:

I started my own business.

I negative split the marathon for the first time while simultaneously experiencing triumph through tragedy.

I played in the woods with my friends.

I paced two other friends in two different but equally epic 100 mile races: Kettle Moraine 100 and the iconic, granddaddy of them all, Western States 100.

Despite the heavy rain and relentless terrain, I answered the bell for all 50 miles of the Minnesota Voyageur and had a kickass time doing it.

I PR’d the half marathon in one of my favorite local races.

I played in the woods with my friends, again.

I was reminded to be grateful for what I have, to live in the moment, to enjoy every second of life as it comes.

I volunteered at the Earth Day 50k, the Des Plaines River Trail 50 Miler and the inaugural Naperville Marathon, perfecting the art of cowbell ringing in one hand while handing out aid with the other.

I had another race report published in Ultrarunning Magazine (October issue).

I spent hours and hours pounding pavement, traversing trails, meditating through movement.

And I fell in love.

Thank you, 2013. My graciously heartfelt smile remains from ear to ear.

Happy New Year!

DPRT 50 finish line 2013


New Year Proverbial Wave Riding (and Race Schedule)

silhouette-of-runner_21136557The New Year generally brings with it a storied whim of clarity, a daring dash of DO IT.  I’d been feeling this wave of confidence in the weeks that led up to January 1st, 2013; and now that the arbitrary date has come and gone, I feel even more pumped riding on the very top of that proverbial wave.

One product of said wave riding is that I am officially training people now.  My personal training and fitness website, Iron Lung Fitness, has all the details.  This is a career move I have been planning for a year and a half, so to actually be doing it, to actually make it happen, is quite a joyous relief.

Another wave that came upon my shore is that of increased strength, power and flexibility.  The six weeks I took off of running were not spent in front of the television with my feet kicked up, rather, they were spent in the gym, gutting it out, punching holes into heavy bags and doing pistol squats until I puked (well, okay, I didn’t actually puke, but I might have felt better had I done so).  Those six weeks were also spent in a yoga studio, where I learned to love bending stuff, including my preconceived notions of what yoga could (or could not) do for me.  Instead of kicking rocks and cursing my injured IT band for not letting me run, I focused on the only thing I could: getting better.

Boy am I better.

On my runs this week I have noticed my easy jogging pace is a whole minute faster than it was at the end of the 2012 season.  Slowly burning into tempo speed also seems easier.  My core feels more firm, my gait more balanced.  And while I suspect some of this perception could be attributed to the extended period of rest, I am quite confident that most of it is due to hard work: getting it done, riding a wave.

My focus for this year, as previously mentioned, is breaking the 3-hour mark in the marathon.  At this point I am going to look towards the Chicago Marathon in October to make the attempt, fully aware that weather could be a deciding factor.  If it happens to be a fluke year weather wise, I’ll adapt and try again late in the season.

The build-up to that will be full of fun too.  I have the Houston Half Marathon coming this Sunday, which will give me a good idea of where my current speed threshold lies, followed by an exciting new local 25K race trail race.  Then April will bring with it my first Boston Marathon, something I’m itching to experience firsthand.  I’m signed up for the Ice Age Trail 50K in May, another new and local middle distance trail race called the Wholly Hell 15K in June and as of now, I’m still trying to find a suitable 50 mile or timed event to tackle in July/August.  Mohican seems to be calling me, but so too does a repeat at Howl at the Moon.

The decision making wave will come to me, eventually.

To stretch my legs out and relax before the big October surge, I’m looking forward to a wild weekend in Hell, Michigan, where I aim to take part in the Run Woodstock weekend.  Tentatively, I’m thinking I’ll do the 50K option, but I may drop down to something shorter so I have time to run the “natural” 5Ks they feature each evening.  Yes, natural.  That means I have to invent a non-invasive adhesive for certain body parts that may be prone to floppage.

After the Chicago Marathon, I’m not quite sure what I will do next.  Hopefully, I’ll be organizing a big party to celebrate an epic finish.  But after my experiences in 2012, I think a good amount of rest will also be in the plan.

Or maybe I’ll just run along and see what wave decides to take me next.