Saturday, March 31, 2007

New 2007 Goals -- and a Race Report

ORN: 5km race, 25:07, 7:58/mile

I’m a goal-oriented guy. I’m sure this explains why I enjoy my job in manufacturing management and my hobby of running…both lend themselves to understanding pace, timing, overcoming obstacles and hitting goals.

In 2006, my goal was to do a sub 2 hour half marathon and finish a marathon. I did both, twice. The subsequent obstacle was the injury to my right ITB that somehow crept in during the ramp up to and/or the running of the Portland Marathon last October. When it came time to set 2007 goals, I was disoriented, not knowing what to do. In what felt like a “reach for the stars” at the moment, I
wrote on January 1 my 2007 goal:

Run the half-marathon distance on two consecutive weekends, pain free.
Only if I could do this would I allow myself to set other goals for the year.

But how to achieve this first goal? In January, I recalled a statement
Darrell made during our two days together last December. He described his early marathons and how he made it using a plan to “run a mile, walk a minute.” This single statement by a friend was the entire start of my thinking about shifting to a run/walk plan. I started reading extensively from Jeff Galloway, trying to understand his plan for the run/walk. It made sense. It seemed to help.

I also needed new shoes, and
WADDLING steered me to a super running store in the Chicago suburbs, where I got into some motion control clodhoppers shoes.

Amazingly, this combination of a new running plan and shoes to control my overpronation has worked. And now it appears certain I’ll hit my goal. Part one will happen on April 28 when I’ll run 13.1 on my own, followed by running the
OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon on May 5.

So where next?

The new goal is to complete two target races in 2007. First, will be the
Sunburst half marathon in South Bend, Indiana on June 2. My objective is to do this under 2 hours. I ran it in 1:53 last year; I think sub 2 is a decent goal for this year, given the run/walk strategy.

The second target race is
Rocket City Marathon on December 8 in Huntsville, Alabama. Nothing quite so romantic as Huntsville in December, I know, but my motivation for this race goes deeper than the obvious starry-eyed road trip it will be. Mostly, it revolves around the calendar. My ITB caused me to miss all the fall running last year. The weather is lousy here most of the year, except the fall. All my long runs for Portland were in August and early September…ugh. So, I wanted to shift the joy of training into the best part of the year.

Interestingly, it may also work out to run this marathon with
Wes, as this may be a goal race for him as well. That would be fun! There is a lot of time to set this up. Of most concern is a possible work conflict on the day before Rocket City. If that happens, I may run in Memphis on December 2. But my clear preference is Rocket City…it is supposed to be a super race, not too big, not too small, flatish and the date is right.

So, the strategy to hit these goals? As I’ve dug into Galloway’s books, I’m going to go with his plan. I’ve been amazed at how much speedwork he builds into his plan, even with regular walks. Lydyard’s training pyrimad is also central to his plans. I’ll probably write more about this in weeks to come, but I’m sure encouraged to date. Suffice it to say, though, I’m on a 2 hour half marathon plan right now, targeting Sunburst.

Which is why I ran a 5k race this morning. I hate 5k races. Way too short. Way too fast. Lots of hassle for 20+ minutes of racing. Yet Galloway pushes using these as extended speed work and also “reality checks” for actual race-day pacing. Since I’m learning from Galloway, I went along.

The race today was actually not a 5k race, but rather a 15k race at the local YMCA. It’s the third in a spring series building to the Mini in Indy. It consisted of three 5km loops in the neighborhoods around the Y, identical to the course I ran
a month ago for 10km. Galloway’s pace said I needed to do this in 25 minutes or less (7:56 pace) to have a shot at a sub 2 half. So, I gave it a go. For $5, I got a chance to run with competition, which I knew I’d need to get under 8.

The race went well. I set my Garmin to the “training partner” mode and targeted 3.15 miles in 25 minutes. I know 3.15 miles is longer than 5km, but I also know my Garmin is a little “short.” We took off and I kept the pace pretty steady. Splits came in at 7:54, 7:48 (downhill) and 8:16 (uphill), with the final .15 at 1:08, a 7:41 pace. I could tell on the last mile that my conditioning is still not fully back; I could feel the legs get sluggish. Yet, overall it was a 7:58 pace and I only missed my target time by 7 seconds. A month ago, I ran this same course on a 3/1 R/W ratio at 9:30/mile over two laps. This morning I ran it straight for one lap, pushed myself and did 7:58 miles. Encouraging.

As I left the course, I realized I could have actually had a measured 5k had I paid attention; I actually ran about 80 yards farther than the 5K distance. So, perhaps the total time was a tad better. No worry…I found out what I wanted to find. And, got done in time to go help a friend move furniture into a new house.

Many thanks to my blogging pals for listening to me for the past few months. Big thanks to Darrell for the simple reminder of run/walk that got me started on this new strategy. Big thanks to Waddler for pointing me to a good shoe store to get my feet less floppy. Wes and I may end up having as much fun this December as Darrell and I did last December. We’ll see.

And, in any event, we will persevere.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Crawling, desperately, to the finish line

In response to the many questions I had about worms from my last post (and especially as a public service to the friends of Michelle who seem to marvel at her insatiable questions of such things), I post here the definitive statements about worms, soggy soil and how they move.

Earthworm - Wikipedia

One often sees earthworms come to the surface in large numbers after a rainstorm. There are four theories for this behavior.

The first is that the waterlogged soil has insufficient oxygen for the worms, therefore, earthworms come to the surface to get the oxygen they need and breathe more easily. However, earthworms can survive underwater for several hours if there is oxygen in it, so this theory is rejected by some.

Secondly, some species (notably Lumbricus terrestris) come to the surface to mate. This behavior is, however, limited to a few species.

Thirdly, the worms may be using the moist conditions on the surface to travel more quickly than they can underground, thus colonizing new areas more quickly. Since the relative humidity is higher during and after rain, they do not become dehydrated. This is a dangerous activity in the daytime, since earthworms die quickly when exposed to direct sunlight with its strong UV content, and are more vulnerable to predators such as birds.

The fourth theory is that as there are many other organisms in the ground as well and they respirate as any animal does; the carbon dioxide produced dissolves into the rainwater; it forms carbonic acid and the soil becomes too acidic for the worms and they come seek neutral nourishment on the surface.

Locomotion and importance to soil

Earthworms travel underground by the means of waves of muscular contractions which alternately shorten and lengthen the body. The shortened part is anchored to the surrounding soil by tiny claw-like bristles (setae) set along its segmented length. (Typically, earthworms have four pairs of setae for each segment but some genera are perichaetine, having a large number of setae on each segment.) The whole burrowing process is aided by the secretion of a slimy lubricating mucus. Worms can make gurgling noises underground when disturbed as a result of the worm moving through its lubricated tunnels as fast as it can. Earthworm activity aerates and mixes the soil, and is constructive to mineralization and nutrient uptake by vegetation. Certain species of earthworm come to the surface and graze on the higher concentrations of organic matter present there, mixing it with the mineral soil. Because a high level of organic matter mixing is associated with soil fertility, an abundance of earthworms is beneficial to the organic gardener. In fact as long ago as 1881 Charles Darwin wrote: It may be doubted whether there are any other animals which have played so important a part in the history of the world, as have these lowly creatures [1]
As a full-service blogger, I’m happy to expand your crawling knowledge. May your running go faster than a worm this week…Persevere.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Springtime. Finally, springtime

ORN: 10.5 miles, 1:47:29, R4/W1, 10:12/mile

Spring has sprung, the grass has ris.
I wonder where the flowers is?

Winter released its icy grip on central Indiana this week and it was a joy to run in the mid-60s. I got laughing around mile 7 as I remembered the little ditty above. My
younger sister Anne and I used to say this over and over, to our great hilarity and causing Mom to question whether her love of education had any impact whatsoever.

Some signs of springtime in Indiana:

  • Worms. Between melting snow and the three inches of rain we’ve had in the last 24 hours, our clay-based soil is very waterlogged. So, the worms crawl out to get some air on the hard surface of our West Lafayette Trails. I tried to be careful, but it was not a good day to be a worm.
  • Litter. Pretty much a winter’s worth. As the snow melts, it all becomes visible. We’ll work on it.
  • People running. Where were they all winter?? Maybe on the treadmill. Maybe on the couch. Good to see them out now.
  • Friends to talk to. The best part. I saw long-time friends Dick and Marilyn. Now both over 80 years old, they walk the trail every Saturday, picking up litter. They are buoyant in spirit and active in body. I wanna grow old like them.
  • I saw Charlie, who was running. Found out that the plant manager at his facility died of a sudden heart attack two weeks ago. 52 years old, high blood pressure, stressful job. Dropped dead at an airport. “So, you’re running now?” I asked. He simply nodded. Good for you, Charlie.
  • I saw work colleague Cary and his wife Jennifer. Well, actually, I saw Jennifer first. Cary was lagging. They are both training for the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon on May 5, as am I. Jennifer loves running. Cary loves his wife. So, with that arrangement, they run together. Made for some good laughs. I’ll hear more on Monday.

My own run went well. Not a single twinge from my ITB. It is really a gift to be able to run…I am more aware of that than ever.

I’m doing work on my 2007 goals and plans now…will share more later.

A big shout out to two friends of this blog who are running the ING Atlanta Marathon tomorrow. David, of
Adventures in the Thin Trade is doing the full 26.2. Wes, of A Code Geek's Tail, is doing the half marathon. Run well, men!!

Persevere. Even on a spring day, when it is a little easier to do.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Back Home

ORN: Sunday; 8.2 miles, 1:20:24, 9:47/mile R4/W1

I got back from New Orleans at 4:30am on Sunday after a most amazing yet sobering week. Words really are inadequate to capture what we saw. In short, though the commercial and tourist portion of New Orleans is well recovered from Katrina, the residential areas remain devastated, even 18 months after the storm. We spent our time in these residential areas and focused on four houses. We reinforced a foundation washed away by receding flood waters, installed wall insulation, rebuilt porch railings, installed siding and repainted an apartment. This was certainly an encouragement to four households; yet the breadth of the devastation, leaving 200,000 homes destroyed or unlivable, made our efforts seem like a drop in the ocean.

I’ll be writing more over the next week or so on a different blog. When I do, I’ll post a link here.

I did manage to get three four-mile runs during the trip. Even these were affected by Katrina, though, as is everything in New Orleans. The main streets seem in good repair but side streets were incredibly uneven. Potholes the size of a dining room table sat next to concrete slabs heaving out of the ground. The hydraulic pressure of all the water wreaked havoc on the streets. It was, quite literally, unsafe to drive faster than 6-7 mph on a side street. These outings felt more like trail runs than pavement pounding; I had to watch each step to make sure I didn’t trip. Nevertheless, it was fun to explore a city on foot while running.

Sunday afternoon, I got the energy to do a long run here on the Celery Bog trail. I felt a good connection to my running pals in the Pacific Northwest, as the crisp and sunny 52F afternoon made a perfect match for my Portland Marathon finisher’s shirt and shorts. The run went well; after fighting the ITB all winter, a pain-free long run is a real gift.

Persevere. That’s what folks in New Orleans are doing. We dare do no less.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Heading to New Orleans

ORN: 6.2 miles, 1:00:50, 9:48/mile R4/W1

I’ll be off line for a week, as I’m heading to New Orleans later tonight on a service project. Ever since Katrina devastated that city, our
church has connected with another church in New Orleans to try to help at least one neighborhood recover. In the latest effort, 14 of us will spend a week in this neighborhood helping to make some of the houses and apartments which now have the debris removed livable again. There will be lots of cleaning, painting, furniture moving and other general repair work.

We don’t really know exactly what we’ll find…we hope to act with humility and service to a group of people that have suffered much. I look forward to telling you more on our return.

I’m hoping to get in three 4-5 mile runs while I’m there. I have no idea where or when that will be, but I can be rather creative at getting in runs. I enjoy visiting new places to run and how it helps one explore, at such a slow speed, just like
Waddler did on her recent journey to her home town.

My own running?? Wow…is it good to run regularly again. This morning’s run was one of those really good ones. I needed some extra milage, so did 6 on a work day, more than usual for me during the week. The temperature was a relatively balmy 34, with little wind, clear, dark sky, a bright quarter moon, Venus and Mars stunning in the sky. The run was smooth and pain free. I covered the Hadley Lake route (note to
Darrell: I’m using your practice now of naming my running routes…thanks!), which I have not run since October. On the return, I ran eastward, watching the sky’s first pre-dawn purple hues develop and move to orange as I got home. Invigorating.

Much more to talk about, but out of time. I’ll post more on my return.


Saturday, March 03, 2007

She doesn't care if I overpronate!

ORN: 7.1 miles, 1:09:42, R3/W1, 9:48/mile

Here I am with my eight-month-old granddaughter Berneice. She's quite a doll. She has a wonderfully sweet personality and is a joy to all of us.
We are very blessed to have our grandkids living in town with us. When David deployed to Baghdad, he and Susan bought a house here. Susan, the twins and little Berneice live here, with lots of support from her parents and us. Now, we just need to get her Daddy home to make the family complete. The latest word is that their return scheduled for late September remains on track. At that point, he'll be done with his Army commitment, plans to go back to school to get a Physician's Assistant's degree and stay here and practice medicine. With a big, blue eyed little girl and lively twin sons, it will be a happy day to have them all together.

After three sons and two grandsons, it is so neat for Gretchen and me to have a little girl around! We are so grateful for a healthy, happy baby.
Running? Oh yeah, running. The ramp-up continues with 7 miles today in a biting, snow-filled, wind. No pain. Very neat.

Persevere. And smile with me at a cute baby!!