Saturday, September 29, 2007

23, 33-19

ORN: 23.2 miles, 4:15:33, 11:01/mile, R3/W1

Up at 4:30, running at 5:00am on a Saturday…yep, running will lead you to do odd things. Such was the case today, as I needed to get over the Second Range on my journey to the
Rocket City Marathon. The Galloway plan I’m experimenting with uses over-mileage and this is part of it.

The run itself was wonderfully unremarkable, very enjoyable and quite instructive. The day was perfect, with temps in the low 50s, a clear sky with a nearly-full moon still high in the sky for the first half of the run. I packed Accelerade and Gummie Bears today and the combination seemed to work well.

The miles just kind of clicked off, so I won’t bore you with many details. When the sun finally peeked over the eastern horizon, I looked at my Garmin and noted I already had 13.4 miles in the bank. The pace was steady throughout, and the 3/1 ratio kept it in the high 10s and low 11s. I really felt I could have kept that ratio going for a long time. To work on mental toughness, though, I ran the last two miles without interruption for the quickest miles of the day, 10:22 and then a 9:33 at the end. No pain and very little weariness. No soreness at all the rest of the day. The new pattern of thin sock/thick sock has fully eliminated blisters. It was a fun run. And, yes, I could have easily added three more miles today.

The next step is a
training marathon in three weeks. I’ll run it at 3/1 as well and remind myself it’s just a training run with friends, a T-shirt and a medal.

But all this begs the obvious question: Why get up at 4:30am for a training run?

Blame it on ESPN.

Earlier in the week, my good friend Don called me with an extra ticket to this afternoon’s football game between Purdue and Notre Dame. Given my family’s long connection with Notre Dame, it is always a special treat so I accepted his offer. Midweek, the TV gurus decided this game would be a noon kickoff. So, in order to get in 23 miles, clean up, fight the traffic for this sellout game and be there for the game, I had to be on the run by 5am.

The game was fun, in that Purdue won fairly handily, 33-19, over this year’s hapless Fighting Irish. Besides the football, however, it was a fascinating contrast. Whereas I started my day with 4+hours in the quiet solitude of a long training run. I then spent 4+ hours with 65,000 others at the game. Our seats were in the nosebleed portion of the end zone, just under the main stadium speakers, so we were blasted with pounding music, commercials and announcers all day. What a contrast in both enjoyable events.

With Don's help, I made a 39 second video for my extended family during might enjoy it as well.

What a way to spend a perfect fall day in Indiana. Persevere, alone or in a crowd.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Partly Cloudy can make you Fully Wet

ORN: 5.4 miles, 8/1, 10:54/mile

I’m on the road on a business trip in Bloomington, Indiana. Got a break between the meetings this afternoon and the obligatory business dinner this evening, so I changed and went out for a run, needing a solid 5 miler today.

When I left the hotel, it was warm and muggy with partly cloudy skies. I took my usual route here in Bloomington, following a main street straight east from the hotel. This route took me along the south side of the Indiana University Campus, quite a busy place at the end the day. I proceeded past the restaurant in which
Darrell and I ate the night before last December’s trail Marathon, as well as the Cold Stone Creamery where we celebrated Darrell’s fine run in the mud the next evening. It made me smile to recall that fun time with him.

I kept going east and was almost at the 2.5 mile turn around point when I noticed a few drops of rain. In a matter of seconds, the drops turned into a full blown Midwestern thunderstorm, a real
toad strangler, as we call such a storm here. Since the storm came quickly out of the west, I was fully unaware of its approach. The rain came down in sheets, pounded by a high wind that was taking branches and leaves with it. And I was as far as I could be from the hotel, in an unfamiliar residential part of a town I don’t live in.

So, I got as creative as I could. I found some shelter under a mature tree and wondered just how long the rain would continue. I laughed at myself as I huddled under the tree. I had carefully packed a running cap for the trip, knowing the forecast called for rain. But the cap was nice and dry in my room, as I had deemed it not necessary for the run. After about 10 minutes, it seemed to let up just a bit, so I started back west, hoping to get to a commercial area for some better shelter.

I ran straight into the rain and finally got to the front overhang of the local organic food coop store and escaped the continuing downpour. I must have been quite a sight, a drenched guy in a neon yellow
Brooks NightLife T Shirt. I stood there a while, seriously wondering if I should just call a cab, as the rain continued. So, I walked into the coop, looking for a customer service desk or something where I could make the call. I got more odd looks, saw nothing and no one was helpful, so walked back out.

At which point I decided to just run it back.

So I did. As I started, I remembered another piece of advice from the day Darrell and I had in the woods last December. We overheard a cross-country coach telling his runners before the marathon to just run through water, not around it. “Your feet will get wet but they will not get cold. Go through it.” Good advice. I went through the water, well over ankle deep in some places.

I got back to the hotel, still quite a sight I’m sure. The shower felt great, the evening’s dinner was the usual business-esque small talk. And, hey, I got my 5 miles in.

It was doubly funny to read Darrell's post from running in the rain last Saturday in SoCal. We have this connection...what a deal!

Running often brings a surprise, always fun. Persevere, dry or wet.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Hot Run with a Cool Ending

ORN: 8.3 miles with 6 x 1 mile repeats at 8:55 average

Some days you just gotta get the run in, no matter the weather. Such was today. I needed to get in some mile repeats and the only time to get it done was mid-afternoon. The temp was 88 with high humidity, which brutally reminded me I was no longer on vacation in Wisconsin but rather back home in Indiana.

After a mile warm up, I lit into the mile repeats. The plan was to do them all at 9:12, simulating my run pace in the target race. In the heat, the workout was way tougher than I anticipated. The first four repeats were OK, at 8:37, 8:46, 8:55 and 8:58. But the pace was dropping and it was just plain tough.

I worked through the fifth repeat telling myself “mental toughness” but, despite a push at the end, it clocked at 9:27. Ugh. I needed to collect myself mentally for the final mile. And this was where the run got cool.

I worked out the mile ends to be near a public water fountain. I got a drink and, as I did, a large fellow on a recumbent bicycle with a black lab on a leash pulled up. Our fair city did a nice job on this water fountain with an adult size fountain, a kid size fountain, and a dog-level fountain all on the same post. I offered to hold the button for the man’s dog to drink, and he accepted. On such a hot day, the dog lapped lots of water, giving the two of us time to talk. He was a severely overweight middle-aged man and he told me he liked this type of bike as it took the pressure off his back. It turned out he had one hip replaced already but lower back pain continued. He had received a cortisone shot into the back on Friday and said “I gotta get some exercise and this is the only way I can really do it.”

The dog was finally happy and he began to pedal off when the chain jumped off the front sprocket. So, we started pushing and shoving the offending link which had wedged into a small space between two of the three sprokets. It just wasn’t budging despite all our effort and we had no tools to pry it loose. So I suggested to the man, since I was almost done anyway, I’d just run home and then bring my car and some tools to repair the bike. He accepted my offer and I took off. I was very concerned by this point in time for the man’s health. He was sweating profusely, huffing and puffing, and I urged him to just sit in the shade of a nearby gazebo and wait for me, out of the hot sun.

I did my last mile split home in 9:07 (isn’t motivation wonderful?), grabbed a couple of screwdrivers, some pliers, a hammer and a cell phone and drove back to the gazebo. As I pulled in, however, he was back on the bike, dog alongside, pedaling home. He had kept working on the chain and it popped loose. He diagnosed a loose crank as contributing to the problem.

We talked some more and he had a cool attitude. “I know there are a lot of folks in worse shape than me, so I need to be thankful and do what I can.” Yeah, you go guy. That’s the ticket.

As I left him and headed back home, it hit me, once again, what a gift good health is. And, even more, it is a gift to have the ability and inclination to be involved in endurance sports. It is a gift to be able to run, bike, swim. It’s a gift to have others with whom we can talk at length about this interest. And when I realize it is a gift, not an entitlement, I can hold it with a looser grip, grateful for the blessing I can enjoy each day.

Enjoy your health today. And take good care of this magnificent machine we call our bodies.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Adventures in Plant Pathology

ORN: Tuesday: 5 miles, 7/1
Wednesday: 4 miles, 7/1, road & trails

Friday: 5.3 miles, 7/1, road & trails

I wanted to run in new places while on vacation this week in Door County. So, on Wednesday morning, I just took off exploring. I found a wetland area to run in and then turned onto an unfamiliar residential access road. To my delight, the road narrowed to a track and then to a trail. I kept running, enjoying the changing surface and wooded run.

As I worked down the trail, just above a big body of water, I glimpsed through the trees a patch of algae on a backwater with an unusual tint of green. I wondered what it was. The trail twisted and turned generally towards the backwater and I got the glimpses of the green more and more. What on earth would cause that tint?

As I got closer, I heard the distinct “click” of a 7-iron and then the yell of “Fore.” I laughed, as that distinct green was merely the carefully manicured #12 fairway of a golf course near the bay. Hardly a backwater, this was a high-end club. I ran to the edge of the fairway, thought about taking a spin down around the green but opted not do. I headed back up the trail, realizing, once again, I’m a manufacturing guy not a biologist.

Heading home on Saturday, with a stop in Chicago to take son Matt to lunch and hear about his first four weeks of college. Amazing times!

Persevere. With or without algae.

Monday, September 17, 2007

This isn't Indiana, Toto

ORN: 10.3 miles total, including 5K, 26:06, 8:23/mile

We are taking a vacation this week in Door County, Wisconsin. This is what I get to see out the window each morning…wow. We’ve been coming up here for 23 years now. We usually came in June or July, though, since school schedules dictated vacation options. With the “empty nest” now, we can pick our own schedule. Visiting here after Labor Day allows much lower rates, less traffic, quiet walks and cooler temperatures. For Gretchen and me, the perfect vacation is a stack of books, a view of water and no schedule.

Not to mention good running.

Door County consists of a number of small villages along a narrow peninsula between Lake Michigan and Green Bay. A network of county roads and public parks on rolling hills makes for an endless variety of visually appealing and challenging runs. This topography, coupled with the cool temperatures, low humidity and clear blue skies of early autumn, makes running here about as enjoyable as it gets.

After long runs the past two weekends, the schedule today called for a 10 mile run to include a 5km time trial. Galloway’s idea is to stress the body at a prescribed pace that will mimic the aerobic demands of the target race. All that works out to a 5K target time of 25:15 for me.

So, I set out this morning exploring the country roads. The Garmin, as useful as it is in many setting, earns its price when traveling. I explored and ran out a little over 5 miles, turned around and headed back to the condo. I did 6+ miles at a 10:30 pace, using a 5/1 ratio. I took a walk break, reset the Garmin to the “Virtual Trainer” mode and set off on the time trail. Mile one was exactly on target pace at 8:07, with mile two almost there at 8:13. I could still make that up. Yet, during mile 3, I could feel my form break down, my left thigh and hip began to tighten and it all leaked to an 8:49 mile. I pushed the last tenth with an 8:17 pace but still missed my target time by 51 seconds.

I’m disappointed I missed this target. Does it call into question my shot at a 4:15 marathon in Huntsville? I don’t think so. It helps to keep focus on all the training that remains.

And, yeah, I’ll persevere.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Isn't She Cute?

ORN: 5 miles, R7/W1

Here's my granddaughter Berneice in a photo I snapped last Thursday. She's almost 15 months old now and is a real cutie.

Gretchen picked up this t shirt for her when we dropped Matt off at Wheaton College a few weeks ago. After three sons and then two grandsons, she is so very, very happy to finally have a little girl to shop for. And young Miss B can indeed turn on the charm. She's a very mellow and easy-going child. Shoot, with twin brothers around to constantly entertain, what does she have to be uptight about.

Enjoy the cute picture with us.


Saturday, September 08, 2007

Up and Over the Front Range

ORN: 20.25 miles, 3:44:08, 11:04/mile

When I laid out my current training schedule to build to
Rocket City Marathon on December 8, it was obvious to me that last week and this week’s long runs would be crucial. Given the ITB injury from last winter, the build up in mileage was a question mark. These two weeks represented the “front range” on my hike to the target race in December.

And, amazingly, we’re over the ridge and moving on.

Today’s 20 miler went well and really quite unremarkably. Pretty much, I just went out and did it and kept moving for nearly four hours. I was encouraged that I had no pain at all from my left foot, the one that suffered from my inattention last week. The tightness I’ve felt in both legs on recent long runs never happened. I was tired at the end of it but had no discomfort.

I did branch off the pavement a couple of times onto rough trails when I had opportunity. It was a simple and quiet nod to
Rob who is doing a full 100 miles, by himself, on single track trails this weekend at the Plain 100. I’m awe…hope it went well, Rob.

I discovered one very useful thing this morning. I’ve always had blisters on certain toes anytime I run over 10 miles. I had to use paper tape to prevent them from forming. About a month ago, I bought a super-thin pair of wicking sock liners which I now wear inside my big fluffy Thor-Lo running socks. And now, not a hint of blisters, hot spots or anything at all on my feet. A significant improvement. Shoot, I might even call it
Kaizen, but then that would be like me, wouldn’t it??!!

I appreciate all the suggestions I got last week on “what to eat while running.” I have a list and I’ll try them all this fall. Today’s banquet came from
Wes, the cooking expert and triathalon dude, who found a high-energy trail mix on the Food Network. I used it (to the amazement of my wife, who walked in while I was surfing the Foot Network web site…she just shook her head and walked away) and found it useful. I kind of liked the crunchy stuff while I was running. Plus, the nuts get stuck in your teeth, so provided additional food for a while after munching.

During the run, I thought back to my
first 20 mile training run on March 18, 2006. At that point, it was a major new distance record for me. Today’s run was not nearly as intimidating to think about. Just a step I needed to do to get set for the fall races. Amazing.

I keep hiking, with two weeks in a lower mileage valley before going over the next ridge of 23 miles on Sept 29. Then two more weeks in the valley and then the
Indianapolis Marathon as a “training run with a medal” on October 20.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Watch Your Step

Last Thursday morning, I headed out the door for a simple 5 mile run. The air was cool in the pre-dawn darkness and it felt good to be moving.

I rounded a corner and ran past a construction project the city refers to euphemistically as “infrastructure enhancement,” a nice term for a new sewer lift station. Being the machine and process geek that I am, the two matching Cat backhoes caught my attention. I was comparing them and their tasks in the project and….

Wham. I nearly went down, hard.

While staring at the backhoes, I snagged the edge of a hole created in the pavement by the heavy equipment. I turned my left foot and ankle pretty severely. It hurt a lot. I yelled and came to a complete stop. “You idiot!” I told myself. “Why didn’t you pay attention instead of day dreaming about big machines?” It was a serious scolding.

I walked a bit to check the damage. Finding I could walk, I tried to run and continued slowly along, not wanting to give up the run. I eventually decided to turn around sooner than planned and cut the run to 4 miles. Later in the day, I wondered about the wisdom of continuing, as I spent much of the work day shoeless, an ace bandage holding a bag of ice to my foot as I popped more Vitamin I.

During the run, though, I thought about how fortunate I was to have this pain as a lesson. I did a stupid thing and had this evidence of my own stupidity. I knew it would be temporary (shoot, I ran 17 miles on the foot two days later). But the lesson was bigger. And, as I slogged through the rest of the run, a sobering connection hit me.

My mind shifted to the story which had emerged a couple days earlier about Idaho Senator Larry Craig who ended up
resigning from the US Senate over poor choices he made in a Minneapolis restroom earlier this summer. Whatever the actual story is for the Senator, in a moment, he made a very bad choice. That choice cost him his Senate seat, his credibility, his integrity, his name. All because he wasn’t paying attention. Wham, down he went.

Choices I make have impact on my family, my integrity, my career, my conscience. I have to watch my step. The very repairable damage to my left foot was a tangible reminder to me to watch my step. The ancient saying came to mind; “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”


Sunday, September 02, 2007

Theme? Who needs a Theme?

ORN Saturday: 17.2 miles, 3:07:34, R3/W1, 10:54/mile

On a beautifully cool first day of September, I had a good, confidence-building run, my longest single outing since the Portland Marathon nearly a year ago. Interestingly, the run had no single theme that allows any profound or noteworthy text here. Which, in and of itself, is pretty cool. So, just a few notes and one area to seek your advice.

Keeping the plane in the air. Two weeks ago, I mentioned hitting a wall around 12 miles that forced me to walk it in. So I had some concern when the left leg (only) tightened somewhat in the 12 mile range. But this time, it simply got a little tight yet did not lock up. I focused on relaxing the leg but kept going. And it never got any worse. While it did get tight after I showered, an hour mowing the lawn in the afternoon loosened it up. Encouraging.

Pace. In the Galloway method, this was an easy run, defined as 2 minutes/mile slower than my target pace. That means I should have run at 11:41/mile. I forced myself to take it easy and had a very, very manageable 3/1 run/walk ratio. Yet miles all clicked off in the upper 10s. The 10th mile even came in at 10:18. I chose not to fret this; the pace felt very easy. For grins, I pushed the final two-tenths and the Garmin told me it was at a 9:17 pace. I’ll take it.

Extending the usual route. My buddy
Darrell wrote recently about exploring new tracks on his runs. I took in his advice and was rewarded. On one extension, I ran into our local High School football coach, a neat guy who taught biology for all three of our sons. His team won a hard-fought game on Friday night to go 3-0 and he was on his bicycle, heading for Saturday morning practice. We chatted for 5 minutes and it was neat to hear of how his team is coming together, now ranked #8 in the state in their class. Later, I extended another part of the trail to a local lake. I ran into a couple of good ol’ boys who were fishing. “What’s biting, guys?” “Aw, only blue gills.” Certainly not the salmon run that Michelle and Jenny got to see on Saturday but, hey, this is Indiana after all. We take what scenery we can get. It made me smile.

Fightin’ the crowds. A nice Saturday morning, with Purdue back in session, made for a lot of runners out. I got one wonderful reaction as I passed a couple of ladies. “How far are you going with all that water?” they asked me. “Seventeen.” “Oh my goodness!!! Uh, er, well, gee, yeah, we’re doing six!” It made me smile more.

More lunar fascination. Towards the end of the run, the route took me straight west. There was a beautiful quarter moon in the clear blue sky around 10am. Then a plane from the Purdue airport flew just “under” the moon, the morning sun glistening off its wings. It gave me awe.

Hydration Thanks to the good advice I got from many of you after bonking two weeks ago, I took care to hydrate better. I got up early, had a toasted bagel and a bottle of Gatorade. Then I loaded up the fuel belt with 30 oz of Accelerade, which I finished by the end of the run. I’m liking Accelerade. Is it better than Gatorade?? I’m happy with either.

What to eat while running?? Some advice please. I tried Clif Blocks for the first time on this run. The package said “Lemon Lime” but I didn’t see the connection to the taste. The first one I popped in to my mouth I tried to chew but, oh my, was it gloppy and stuck to my teeth. I thought about it and the next one I just tucked in my cheek and let it kind of dissolve slowly. Actually, I felt like a good ol’ boy myself, as if I had quite a chaw of Red Man. Ugh, sorry. Anyway, I’ve used Gu and other gels before, which are OK but I get tired of the expense. I’ve wondered about just taking small packs of peanut butter crackers. What works for you?? I’m grateful for your input.

Boy, if I ramble this long on a run I didn’t think produced anything profound, I’d be afraid to see what would happen if I did see something substantial. Which I did last week, but that will be my next post.