Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tagged: Five Facts which also Might Just Be Odd

ORN: 3 miles, all run.

Taper madness has set in, seriously. Going nuts with low mileage and off days. So, might as well pick up on the current Internet meme. Jenny tagged me, you know the drill…here are five facts about me.

1. I grew up on a cattle ranch in Nebraska. Most people I know have never met anyone from Nebraska much less actually know someone from Cornhusker land. Farms out there are laid out in very neat one mile squares. To this day, when I think about running one mile, I visualize going corner to corner past our farm; when I need to run four miles, it’s once around the section, at least in my mind.

2. From age 8 until college, I played baseball as much as possible. I actually tried out with Royals and Reds and got a second look from the latter. I gained a huge life-lesson sitting in the outfield grass late one night listening to a Cincinnati Reds scout talking to about 20 of us. I use that lesson regularly for myself and those I work with.

3. My mother-in-law’s cousin’s husband’s brother was married three times and, apparently, none of the unions went all that well. So bad, he opted for this on his tombstone.

4. I remember sport team uniforms and font styles on numbers and letters. This is a real waste of perfectly good brain cells but it continues. Boston College has very good uniforms. All sports have the same color theme and the same font for numbers and names. Ohio State has the worst basketball uniforms, even though the change every year…they are consistently bad.

5. When I travel in the South, I always eat at least once at Waffle House. Those of you who live in the South might find this odd/ disgusting/ disillusioning/ offputting. Those of you who don't will wonder what the deal might be. Well, I’m simply fascinated by these tiny diners at every intersection (it seems). The waffles are truly awesome; the hash browns (covered and smothered) are something you should have once and a while. Mostly, I like the people. Always an interesting conversation with the staff and the local regulars.

There…more than you wanted. If you’d like to play along, consider yourself tagged.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Run/Walk Pace Calculator

ORN: 7.6 miles, R5/W1, 1:16:45, 10:11/mile; then 5.1 miles, R9/W1, 49:12, 9:34/mile

One sure-fire way to strike fear in the hearts of many people is to ask them to solve a story problem. You know the one from school beginning with “A train leaves Boston at 8:30, heading to New York at 45mph….” Scary, for many.
But not all.

Some of us more geek-oriented people actually LIKE story problems. When I saw one on a test, I always licked my chops, knowing I was going to get lots of credit. Apparently, my blogging buddy Wes has a similar bend. So, Wes and I collaborated on a public service project to solve a particular story problem for all our running pals.

The story problem goes like this. “So, I’m using a run/walk plan in a race. If I want to have a certain pace per mile and have a certain run/walk interval, just how fast do I have to run during my run segments?” You can hear the teeth gnashing over that one.

Wes and I worked through this issue and reduced all the variables to a simple spreadsheet, which we’ve posted on line. You can viewthe Run Walk Pace Calculator or you can download it here. It should allow you to enter your desired overall pace, your walk pace and then learn what your run pace should be. Further, we have two tabs on this spreadsheet. One is a general purpose calculator for the run pace. The other is a race-specific calculator. You’ll get slightly different answers from each one. If you want to know just WHY you’d get a different answer, I’d tell you but that, my friends would involve another story problem and you really don’t want another one anyway.

We’d appreciate it if you could try to open it, test drive it and let us know if it makes sense. It is, after all, a public service and we aim to serve.

I applied this today in my long run, two weeks now from Rocket City. Utilizing David’s example, I took a 7+ mile warm up at an easy pace, then reset my watches and attempted to run the last five miles at exactly the pattern I plan to use in the marathon. The calculator told me I needed to run at 9:22 with a 9/1 sequence to hit the 9:43 overall pace I want for a 4:15 marathon. Could I do that on legs still tired from sub 8 minute miles on Thursday and 7 more miles just before it? I was pleased that it worked. My mile splits for the last five were 9:36, 9:46, 9:33, 9:31 and 9:27. Given that my Garmin usually about 4-6 seconds slow per mile, those are just about right. Can I do that for 26?? Well, as they say, that’s why they play the game.

Enjoy the calculator. Enjoy the laugh at the geeks. Enjoy the cleaned up blog style here; I hope it reads a little cleaner for you now.

And, as always, persevere.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Race Report: Drumstick Dash, plus Thanksgiving Thoughts

ORN: 5.5 miles total: 4.5 mile race, 35:17, all running, 7:50/mile

Thanksgiving is a day of reflection for me. We have so much to be thankful for in this country and I personally have been exceedingly blessed.

On the running side of life, I felt a need to get in some speed work, some intensity as I dial down the mileage during the taper. So, last weekend I registered for a 4.5 mile race run each Thanksgiving in Indy. On my regular run on Monday, the soreness I had on the 20 miler last Saturday flared again, causing me to cut off the run. It seemed to be just inflammation, so I didn’t run again until today, Thursday, hoping the rest would take care of it.

I rolled out of town at 6:30am on Thanksgiving morning for the 60 minute drive to Indy. The other seven cars on the road at that hour allowed for a nice quiet drive in the dark. I got to the site 90 minutes before the gun, scored a good parking place, got my packet and relaxed in my car. The temps were in the mid-30s with a solid north wind and some drizzle. I wore shorts anyway. This weather could be similar to what we’ll see for
Rocket City in two weeks, so I viewed it as a trial of sorts. After running and stretching on a track next to my parking place, I headed to the start area.

This race has exploded in its five year existence, with 5,000 runners this year. Hardly a little Turkey Trot any more, it’s a big event. I ran it two years ago and was interested to compare how it would be this time around. We started on time and headed on the route through the neighborhoods of this older part of Indianapolis…it was very refreshing to not be in the suburbs.

My objective in the race was to see if I could string 8:00 miles together. I set the Garmin to help me pace myself early and it seemed to work. Mile one clicked at 7:43 so I backed off a bit. The next two were at 8:06 and 8:05. I amped it up a bit at this point, doing mile 4 in 7:41 and the last half mile in 3:43. Amazingly, I finished 25th of 115 in my age group, way better than my usual mid-pack placing. I also ended up in the top 20% of the overall participants. It was a good race.

On the drive home, I wondered just why I enjoy races so much. That’ll be a topic for another post sometime.

We gathered four generations together later in the day for our Thanksgiving meal. It was a special time, yet we missed our son David who has one more month to go in Iraq. We made some videos for him and you are welcome to view our
Thanksgiving Greetings to David in Baghdad and see his 17 month-old daughter Berneice Eating Pumpkin Pie.

Happy Thanksgiving. We have much to be thankful for.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Peter Drucker meets Jeff Galloway

ORN: 20.2 miles, 3:44:13, R3/W1, 11:07/mile

The most influential individual on my professional career is undoubtedly
Peter Drucker. His many books and articles have truly shaped my philosophy of business, management and strategy.

Drucker’s view of planning was captured in this illustration he often used.
A pilot flying from New York to Los Angeles files a flight plan before take off, laying out the plane’s route, altitude and speed. Yet, once in the air, the pilot seldom follows that plan exactly. Weather, traffic and timing alter that plan. Despite those changes, though, the plane never lands in San Francisco; it still gets to Los Angeles.

Given Drucker’s influence on me, it’s not surprising I’d apply his work to running. Last spring, I set out to rehab my ITB injury using
Jeff Galloway's methodology. During the summer, I set up a plan designed to finish up at the Rocket City Marathon, now just three weeks away.

The Drucker-esqe plan change came to the fore after last Saturday’s aborted 28 miler due to serious ITB pain in my left leg. During the past week, I crunched the plan extensively, trying to make a good decision on how to finish out the training still hit the goal. I decided to rest until Thursday and take a couple of short runs. A two miler Thursday and a three miler Wednesday went pain free. Yet I needed to somehow know how the knee would hold up with marathon-like stress. So, I decided to try to go for 20 miles this morning. Three weeks pre-marathon seemed the right time.

On another nice fall day in Indiana, I took off. I altered my usual 20 mile route to have a 5.5 mile loop, an 11 mile loop and another four mile loop, all starting and ending at home. If it fell apart, I didn’t want to have to walk a long way again.

The first loop was a
ryan shay 5.5 mile memorial run. As a father of sons the same age as Ryan, I found myself thinking much about Ryan’s parents. It was simply moving. My prayers continue for them as they work through the many stages of grief. Life is hard. We need each other.

The second loop was uneventful. Which is what I wanted to have today.

The last loop felt like a last loop. With 18 miles last weekend and virtually no running all week, the legs felt flat. Interestingly, my left knee never quibbled once all day. Yet, my right knee began to just be sore. No ITB pain, just a general soreness. I worked through it, thinking particularly of
Rob's consistent example of choosing to work through the tough patches of a run. Twenty miles was about all I could do today. But I got it done. And it felt good.

On the question of “what to eat while on a long run” (you were asking that question, weren’t you??), I am really getting to like
Clif Shot Bloks, the Margarita flavor, thanks to a good suggestion months ago by David. I cut each blok in half and ate a half blok every 30 minutes. I made a further modification by sprinkling a little table salt in the zip-lock bag I carried the shots in and shook it up. This spread a little salt on the surface of each of the sticky chunks. Particularly in the later stages of the run, it was nice to pop the blok, taste the extra salt, then slowly chew the blok. It seemed to work. Thanks, David.

So, despite the plan change, we’re over the final ridge and now tapering into the marathon three weeks from this morning. It’s gonna be fun in Huntsville, sharing a room again with
Darrell, meeting up with Wes, and hopefully connecting as well with Lana, Michele and David. Three weeks to go…I can hardly wait.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Up the side of but not over the final ridge

ORN: 17.7 miles, 3:17:57, R3/W1, 11:10/mile

After last Saturday’s post on the simple 5K race I had run and my plans for a 28 mile run today,
David commented “If you can knock out the 28 miler without crumbling you'll be golden.” I appreciated his encouragement.

Unfortunately, however, I crumbled.

On an absolutely perfect day for running, I set out at 7:30am to do 28. No wind, temps in the low 30s, rising to the mid 40s by mid day, blue sunny sky, absolutely invigorating. The run was going wonderfully, just wonderfully. It was a joy to be outside, knocking off the miles. The hydration worked, taking a half of a Clif Shot Blok every 30 minutes or so seemed about right (thanks, David, for telling me to switch to the margarita flavor) and it was just a matter of getting the miles in. Everything felt fine, I was really enjoying it.

Then, in the matter of about a half mile, the wheels came off the wagon.

In the 18th mile of the run, I noticed a small, worrying twinge on the outside of my left knee. Surely not, that can’t be, no, it’s not there, it will go away, switch the camber on the path to take the pressure off. Didn’t work. In a very short while, the left knee basically seized up and refused to run. I dialed back to a 2/1 run/walk ratio…no dice. The ITB obviously flared up. I knew the feeling, exactly, from the hassle I had with my right ITB last fall and winter. Same thing, other side. Oh my.

The only option was to walk back home, about 2.5 miles from the spot I was when it packed up. Walking was fine and it gave me time to analyze the whole thing (you are surprised I would be analytical??!!), planning the next actions.

My chief suspect on this one is old shoes. I bought a new pair of Brooks Beast a couple weeks ago, as I knew my prior pair was aging out, having logged about 360 miles so far. With my 6’1”, 195 lb, far-from-dainty frame slamming shoes with every step, I have learned from experience 350 miles is around the time I no longer get the support I need. But, frugal Joe just wanted to get one more long run out of the old pair before switching over for the run up to the
Rocket City Marathon. Looking at the soles of the shoes, particularly the left shoe, I could see that I was getting more over pronation than is wise. The ability of even this big honking shoe to control my inward foot roll just breaks down with use. Old shoes and lack of motion control were the culprits a year ago…I strongly suspect the same thing here.

This pair thus moved to my “mow the lawn” pile.

Unlike (very unlike) my attitude about this a year ago, however, today’s event was really not a big deal. It happened. It is fixable. It is only some inflammation. Ice. Ibuprofin. Foam roller. Switch to the new shoes. Unlike
Ryan Shay's family, I came home and could talk about with them. In fact, I could really identify with the transformation David in Nashville described recently.

This probably does affect my time goal at Rocket City, now just four weeks away. I won’t have the chance between now and then to truly test the ITB and know how it will hold up. I probably won’t settle on a goal until close to the gun going off. And that’s OK. On the long hike to the marathon, I won’t crest this final ridge. I’ll double back, find a low-mileage pass and get there anyway.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

I am a runner...a tagged runner

ORN: 5 miles, R9/W1, with 4x 200 m accelerations

Sarah recently tagged me to describe why I am a runner. I’m game, Sarah…here goes!

I am a runner because:

Running is a year-round activity for me. Even in rotten Indiana weather.

I have a chart called
Dress for Winter Running Success to know what to wear in all the rotten Indiana weather. And I use the chart. And it is taped next to our shower. And my wife loves me anyway.

I have a running blog, which preserves my loving wife from having to endure unending blather about running.

I have painted little marks on curbs around my neighborhood to indicate each half mile on my running routes.

I plan races a year in advance.

I put the weather in the next race’s town on my Yahoo home page.

I mark my running shoes with little dots to identify each pair so I can rotate them correctly.

I use the word “only” in front of the words “a half marathon.”

I look forward to using the word “only” in front of the words “a marathon.”

I can pronounce “iliotibial band syndrome” correctly, describe it succinctly and don’t giggle when I say it.

I recognize other local runners by their gait not their faces.

I think about how to keep running in a proper perspective with respect to the other main areas of my life; family, faith, work, community.

Most of all, I am a runner just because I run.

How about you?? If you’d like to be tagged, consider yourself tagged.


Saturday, November 03, 2007

Race Report: Health and Kinesiology 5K

ORN: 7 miles total; 5K in 24:29, 7:47/mile

The schedule called for another 5K time trial today. As both long-time readers of this blog know, the 5K has been my own “Moby Dick” in that it’s a distance I really don’t like and have not done well running. Yet the sustained speed work is vital if I’m going to even have a chance to do the
Rocket City Marathon in 4:15. All the formulae say I need to comfortably do 5K in 25:15 to be on that pace.
Conveniently, the Health and Kinesiology student club sponsored a race on the Purdue campus this morning and so there I was. It was one of those nice, small, local runs with maybe 120 runners. The course was on familiar turf, as the loop included part of my usual long-run route. Weather was perfect, sunny and high 40s. I donned my US Army PT gear, to honor both of my sons in the Army, and headed for the race.

For a Purdue grad like me, it was cool to have the start line right next to this relatively new statue of a Boilermaker, just outside the Purdue football stadium. The course was a simple loop and went smoothly.

I was most pleased that I ran negative splits. The miles went at 7:58, 7:46, 7:42 and the last tenth at 1:02, a 7:07 pace. Beating the target time by 46 seconds was fact I felt as if I could have done better. Yet, I felt in control and could gradually accelerate. I ran a half-mile cool-down just after the race and enjoyed the entire morning. I ended up 3rd of 9 in my age group, a better position than I normally run.

One fun thing was a conversation with a young couple before the race. In their early to mid 20s (hey, they all look awfully young to me any more), they had just taken up running and this was their first race ever. They ended up asking me all sorts of questions before the race and it was fun. In discussing shoes, I mentioned I had switched to some lighter shoes since “this was only a 5K.” The young lady’s eyes got big; “What do you mean ‘ONLY’??” I apologized for minimizing what felt like a huge distance to her. She wondered if she’d ever feel that 3 miles was short. After the race, I talked to them again. They were thrilled to have run the entire way and to have simply completed a race. It was really enjoyable to see someone taking up the sport and smiling.

Next Saturday, I go over the last ridge on the long hike to Huntsville, as a 28 mile training run is on the books. I’m looking forward to it.