Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Motivational Speech, er, Noise, er, Sound...

ORN: 6.4 miles, 1:01:06, 9:33/mile

So I'm on my usual route in the dark this morning, 3/4 of a mile into my run, winding on the trail past Cumberland Woods, when I hear a blood-curdling screech and scuffle just inside the edge of the trees. It is pitch black and I can't see anything in the woods but it sounds awful. I quickly realized there was no human sounds here but I couldn't tell what it was. I picked up the pace and kept looking.

As I got past the woods, I realized it was probably a fight between a couple of possums over some choice bit of rancid cheese or road kill. But the surprise and awfulness of the screeching and fighting was no picnic. As I ran away, I kept "hearing things" behind me. Yeah, it made me jumpy. All I was hearing was the movement of my nylon shell, but in the dark, it seemed worse.

Well, about a mile later, I heard something behind me again. My heart rate jumped once more, only this time the thing said "I'm passing on your left." Oh, good, another runner, tooling along at about a 7:00 pace, thus blazing past me. I thanked him for warning me and quickly asked if he had heard the possums in the woods. "No, but I did see a couple of skunks cross the out for them!" And off he went.

On my return trip, the woods were quiet and fresh smelling as daylight crept through the clouds. The birds were singing and a gentle breeze blew. Possums must have called it a night and the skunks had hunkered down. Whew.

Persevere. And look out for the critters.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

A Tapering we go....

ORN: 4 miles, no watch, easy

With the half marathon last week, it didn't feel like part of the taper...I had something to look foward to. Now, I'm just winding down, looking to April 9. Gee, four miles feels short. And I'm starting the taper obsession...thinking about details. Little lists around the house. Feeling twinges in my knee or leg that may or may not really be there.

Pretty much normal stuff.

My main concern now is not to eat myself into blimp-dom. Getting nervous or not busy can cause me to nibble. More Wheat Thins?? Why, thanks, don't mind if I do!! Gotta watch that, plus keep up the core exercises on lower back and abs.


Enjoy your Tuesday. And Persevere.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Race Report: Sam Costa Half Marathon, Indy, March 25, 2006

ORN: 13.1 miles, 2:04:37, 9:33/mile

What a difference a year makes.

Running is a lonely experience. It is also a gradual experience. Changes come slowly. We seldom get a chance to assess our real condition.

But once in a while we do…and today was such a day.

Sam Costa Half-Marathon is a relatively small race giving us Hoosiers a chance to run with others after slogging around by ourselves all winter. I ran this race a year ago and thus I got a rare opportunity to see just where I am in my running.

A year ago, this race was my first shot at a half-marathon since 1993. I didn’t know how I would do. My longest training run going into that race was 12 miles. I was nervous. The race went well, but it was work. I distinctly remember going through the 10 mile marker last year laboring somewhat, wondering if I’d finish. I did finish but it was tough, with a time of 2:06:35, a 9:41/mile pace.

Well, a lot more running in the year past. I count 10 races since the 2005 Costa. My objective right now is to finish, injury free, the
St. Louis Marathon in two weeks. So I entered this race just to get a long training run in as well as to enjoy the social aspects of a race. I intended to run at a 9:45/mile pace, the rate I hope to do the first 20 miles in St Louis. I was hardly nervous…in fact, my main focus was to simulate the pre-race routine I’ll use in two weeks.

And, go figure, I finished 2 minutes faster than a year ago. I never labored in the race. As the splits below show, I held the pace reasonably constant, which pleased me. As the race went on, I was going nuts with the slow pace. Since I felt good towards the end, I decided to open the gates over the last 1.1 miles…so when I hit the 12 mile mark, I sped up and finished strong.

Surprisingly, when I got home, I looked at my previous half-marathon times and see that this time is technically a PR for a half marathon, by one second. I’m not booking it as such, though. I really think the course was a little short as I looked at my Garmin. Plus, I simply didn’t have a PR effort. It doesn’t seem right. So, I’ll just call this one an enjoyable run.

Not much to comment on about the race. I was surprised how quickly the race went by. We had the start, took a while to get in a groove and, boom, there’s the five mile mark. A little more running, up a hill, round a corner…and boom, there’s the 10 mile mark. A few more turns, the 12 mile marker, put the hammer down, up a hill and it was over.

The one humorous thing about the race was the weather. We had a cold snap this week and a half hour before the start, it was 35 degrees. I decided to wear shorts, just because I love to run in shorts and, hey, the calendar says it is spring. As we assembled and got the race going, I observed about 5% of us were in shorts…the rest had black tights. I reported to my wife that this put me in the 95th percentile of something…a first for me in running!! Alas, after the race, I changed and got back in my car and it started snowing. And it continued to snow much of the hour’s drive home. Ahhhh, springtime in Indiana.

All in all, I find this humbling. Through no doing of my own, I’m able to run without injury, with time and a place to run that’s enjoyable. Races are available, it is fun. It is a gift of grace, for which I thank God daily.

A fun outing, hope you enjoyed the write up.


9 17, 10 09, 9 44, 9 44, 9 44.
9 57, 9 35, 9 24, 9 42, 9 36.
9 43, 9 48, 8 26.

Persevere. You just might get a chance sometime to see how you are doing.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Feelin' bad, running well. How odd.

ORN: 9.2 miles, 1:26:49, 9 26/mile

Running is so fascinating at times. It instructs so well and so directly.

This was my last long midweek run, as I taper to St Louis. I ended up being up late, so the alarm at 4:55am was brutal. I drug myself out, though. Looked at the temperature, 25, and could see it was windy. Yuck. Pull on the layers, head out in the dark.

The first part of my run goes north and west...right into the wind. Felt pretty tough. I was tired and not enjoying it. Yet I knew this was key if Iwas to survive 26.2. It kept feeling rough.

Then, I noticed some of the splits pop up on the Garmin. Hmmm...getting better. So, I stayed with it.

I never really felt all that good. Yet, the splits below were some of the best I've had in four weeks. The turnover was there on the legs. Even though it was hardly smooth or enjoyable.

Yeah, life is like that. Gotta go do it, even when it feels rotten. And sometimes the results are good, even when it doesn't feel good.

9 35, 9 22, 9 43, 9 41, 9 26
9 38, 9 20, 9 17, 8 58, 1 43 (@8 40)

Go figure.


Monday, March 20, 2006

Surprising Recovery

ORN: 5 miles, no watch, quick pace

I really wondered what the legs would feel like two days after a 20 miler. Out I went early and, after some easy warm up and stretching, I found my legs about a mile into it. I was stunned that though they were a bit sore, the turnover was good and sustainable.

Good news.

And the first day of spring tomorrow. And a prediction of 3-6" of snow. Welcome to Indiana...

Persevere...snow or no.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

A Remarkably Unremarkable 20 miler

ORN: 20.5 miles, 3:19:32, 9:44/mile

Wow. I’m really kind of blown away. When I set out to run the
St. Louis Marathon, I knew I’d have to pack on the miles. I set the schedule in late December and I knew that March 18 would require a 20 mile run. It’s been out there all along. And, frankly, somewhat intimidating. I haven’t done this sort of distance since 1981. Was I kidding myself? I really wondered.

And March 18 finally arrived, coincidently, my oldest son
David's 28th birthday. I caught a break in the weather, as the day was sunny and the mid-day temperature was 50. So, out I went, comfortably in shorts, two layers of polyester and my cap (which is, alas, white not orange). What would happen??

Fascinatingly, nothing. The amazing thing about this run was that there was nothing amazing. One foot in front of the other. One mile after another. Just kept it going. I set my
Garmin Forerunner 201's virtual trainer feature again to keep my pace at 9:45, the pace I think I can carry through most of the marathon. And it worked, as the splits below show. I packed three Gu’s into my shorts and tugged one down every 5 miles.

Nothing ever hurt. No injuries. No twinges. No blisters. The right quad had nothing to say to me. I simply needed 3+ hours of free time to do it. It was awesome.

Feeling well, I did a couple of fun things. I usually am pretty fixed on my route ahead of time. But today, I just needed to pile on the miles. So I took a couple of scenic loops to add milage. The fun one was a longer loop through the Purdue University campus. I ran past the two dorms where my wife lived when we first met in 1972, then the awful little apartment I lived in from 1972-1974. Yeesh, the porch was sagging then, it still hasn’t been fixed. But a great location is a great location.

So, I have one more mid-week 10 miler to do this Wednesday, then the taper starts. I don’t think I mentioned here that the schedule calls for a 12 miler next Saturday. Shoot, that’s a lot like a half marathon, so I entered the
Sam Costa Half-Marathon in Indy. Way more fun to run with a group. I’m NOT going to race this one…it will simply be a dry run for the marathon and I’ll run it at a 9:45 pace. The objective will be to feel strong at the end, not to set a PR. I haven’t run a race since December; that one was a bust, I haven’t enjoyed a race since Thanksgiving Day. It’s time.

I’m still amazed. I’m typing this report six hours after running…the legs feel a bit tired but fine. So, we stay the course, keep on the plan. It could be fun.


9 37, 9 28, 9 35, 9 47, 9 54, Gu.
9 35, 9 42, 9 46, 9 41, 9 36, Gu.
9 58, 10 04, 9 44, 9 42, 10 07, Gu.
9 09, 9 51, 9 41, 9 48, 9 47, 4 50 (@ 9 30 pace), Home.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Night into Day

ORN: 10.2 mi, 1:37:10, 9:32/mile

After the intense wind of the past two days, a cold front moved in, making the sky at 5:10am crystal clear. Coupled with a very full moon, the night was bright. Shadows were very sharp and I could actually read my Garmin by simply the moon. It was beautiful.

And the cool thing about a long run is that it is long. Things happen in 90 minutes. The moon sank. The eastern sky brightened. Venus faded into the early shades of blue and then really blue sky as the sun finally peeked over the horizon as I got home. After a long winter, it is so cool to see the sun at the end of a run. There is hope.

The birds wake up on a long run. Silence early. Then the honking of the noisy geese along the bog. Smaller birds in the woods on the way back. The world awakens, both for a new day but also awaking to the very early glimmers of a new season.

Oh yeah, the run?? Good. This is my peak milage week getting ready for a marathon in only a little over 3 weeks (gee, can it really be??). The first 4 miles today felt tight, out of rhythm, like I was still waking up (I probably was). Then the good stuff kicked in. My shoulders relaxed, I was working less and gliding more (as much as a 195 pound 52 year old guy can ever "glide" :-) ). 20 miles on Saturday...that will be a new test.

I'm shooting to carry the 9:45 pace through to race day. Today, though, I sought to run comfortably. Cool that I could do that, as shown below in the splits. Plus, the soreness in my right quad that I've been figting for a month or more seems to have finally given up and gone away.

Good run, followed by a good day. Enjoy these.

9 39
9 23
9 52
9 39
9 34
9 21
9 45
9 26
9 26
9 13
1 47 (at 8 58 pace)


Monday, March 13, 2006

Lightning, but not Greased

ORN: Friday: 14.4 miles @ 9:44
Monday: 1 mile, avoiding being electrocuted

Got in this week's long run on Friday, as my son Matt and I headed for a guys' weekend in Nashville, enjoying country music.

The run was a good 'un (there's the country influence...) in that I planned to run at 9:45 and had to hold myself back to stay there. Interesting, in that I usually have a Gu about every 5 miles on my long runs, but forgot the gel this time. I felt that lack of glucose by about mile 10.

This week is the big one before the marathon on April 9. I was set to do 5 this morning. But the line of thunderstorms that spawned all the tornadoes over the weekend in Missosuri and Illinois passed through here the same time I wanted to run. The lightening was real...and I decided to not discover my exact coefficient of conductivity.

10 miler before work on Wednesday, then 20 on Saturday, plus the other 5 milers....a busy week.


Thursday, March 09, 2006

Grungy Weather, like Life At Times

ORN: Yesterday: 9.2 miles at 10:02 pace
Today: 5 miles, no watch, comfortable pace

"Some days, it's a labor of love; other days, it's just labor."

I can't remember where I heard that quote but it is humourously applicable. One of the great things about running is how it mirrors life. And, by looking in the mirror, we understand better.

Yesterday was the mid-week long run. It was in the low 40s and raining and windy at 5am. But I needed to get the run in, so out I went. I actually aclimated to the rain pretty quickly and felt OK. But the splits were horrible. I simply could not get the legs to turn over at any decent pace. I suspect it was simply the effect of the 18 miler last Saturday.

This morning brought more rain and even stronger winds, despite the 57 degree temperatures. Out I went again, reminding myself of how grateful I would be for this come marathon day on April 9.

The mirror? There are great days, like last Saturday's 18 miles in marvelous weather. There are fascinating days, like Mondays jog in the fog of a bog. And there are hard days, like yesterday and today.

And ya gotta get out the door for each.

You have to jump in and do it. Know yourself. Understand the reason.

Good stuff. Even in the cold, dark rain.


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A blog on a jog in the fog of a bog

ORN: 5 miles, comfortable pace; back was sore

After a rainy day Monday, cool air came in overnight and at 5:30am there was a frosty fog in the still morning air. It was really cool, because while the fog was thick enough to not see well horizontally, I could look up and still see the stars and Venus and Mars. Quiet, still, one felt alone. Having no wind also helped.

At one point on the trail (and I'm glad in the fog I am so familiar with every turn on it!), it dips along side a swampy area. That moisture developed a thicker fog...and then a small hit after it allowed me to climb out of the fog. Way cool to see at the very slow speed at which I run.

On the way back, I saw running pal Lu who, along with her hubby and a number of local runners, did the Little Rock Marathon this past weekend. They had a fun road trip. Great stuff!


Saturday, March 04, 2006

A Big Step towards St Louis

ORN: 18.3 miles, 2:58:04, 9:44/mile

The schedule called for 18 miles today. I haven't run this far in one time since 1981, at my last marathon. I had more than a bit of trepidation going into this...hey, it's new territory, right?

fortunately, I got a perfect day for the run. Blue sky from horizon to horizon (and here on the flatlands of northern Indiana, you can indeed see all the horizons :-) ), 55 degrees at 2pm when I headed out, a 10mph breeze out of the north. Shorts, gloves and a couple of layers of polyester was all I needed, along with my trusty Garmin Forerunner.

I set said Forerunner's training assistant to keep me under control. I am planning to run the Marathon at a 9:45/mile pace and am practicing keeping to that pace now. Overall, it went well, as I averaged 9:44. You can see from the splits below that there was some variation, but mostly within 15 seconds either way.

I was amazed at how good I felt the whole way. I had planted Gatorade at roughly two mile intervals on the route. I had a Gu at 5, 10 and 15 miles. Around mile 13, I felt a little wobbly for a half mile or so. But that resolved itself. At mile 15, I felt some sort of a twinge on the inside of my left shin. But that went away. My concern was for my right quad and/or my lower back. The quad murmured to me a couple of times but then settled down and was very fine for the last 8 miles or so. The back was OK...but I sure need to keep at the strengthening exercises I do each night. That helps. Gretchen and I are guessing a new mattress might be in order too...she's feeling some hip pains in the morning before and after her workouts. Maybe time to get rid of our hippie-dippie water bed???

So, as I cruised down my home street, I asked myself "Dude, can you do another 8?" I visualized what that would be from my house. Hmmmmm. It is clearly possible. More possible than it was to me three weeks ago. So, we stay the course.

Next week, 14 miles for the long run. Two weeks from now, the 20 miler. Then a taper into April 9 in downtown St Louis.



9 19
9 42
9 53
9 49
9 51
9 22
9 58
9 29
9 41
9 56
10 00
9 51
9 34
9 44
9 29
10 01
9 44
9 41
2 50 (9 26 pace)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Nighttime Run

ORN: 5 miles, no watch, felt great

I hardly ever run in the evening, but tonight was an exception. The marathon is now only 5 weeks away and I'm feeling the pressure to get the miles in. I missed a day earlier in the week, due to travel. Got my long 9 miler in on Wednesday morning (which went well). But a work project got a lot of overtime yesterday and early today. No go this morning, since I was out of the house for work before 6:30. And I didn't want to put it off until Friday, with a big run set for Saturday

So, off I went after helping G with the dishes. It actually felt a lot like a morning run, except with a lot more traffic on the road. Nice run. And I think I needed it.

Saturday is an 18 miler. Oh my. I'm a bit in awe and this is why an 18 miler is on the schedule. To remove the awe. To build the brain to stay moving for three hours. So, off we go.

Oh yeah, note to self: persevere.