Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 in Review

ORN: 7 miles total, 5x1 mile intervals, ave 8:37

On the last day of the year, a few reflections on the year in running.

Races. Short races were a real positive this year, while 3 of the 4 marathons were disappointing. A 5K PR, a solid half-marathon in heat and humidity and a flat out sprint in a 2 miler were fun. The marathon remains a commanding teacher. Its lesson this year: weather matters, so follow the new training pattern.

Training. The rhythm of three 5 mile training runs during each week and one race-oriented weekend run seems to work well for me and is sustainable. I was very pleased to come to grips with an approach to Heart Rate training in the late summer. Now, if I could only get all my gadgets to work together!! Guessing I’ll be in the market for a new Garmin sometime this year.

Distance. I finished the year with 1,228 miles. I was surprised when I ran the chart below. It tells the succinct story of this era of my running.

In May 2004, a job change substituted a 75 minute daily commute for a 5 minute drive. I plugged running into that gap. It was October before I found a pair of shoes that worked well and off we went. I ran my first half marathon in December 2004 and carried on with more HMs in 2005. In 2006, I ran my first two marathons. And, boom…after a PR of 4:21 at Portland, I had a nasty bout with both IT Bands inflaming. 2007 was a retrenching time; new shoes, adopting the Run/Walk approach and gradually building back. Since then, I’ve been almost completely injury-free. The look of this gradual annual mileage pick up is encouraging.

Weight. I have not mentioned in this space (and will only do it once, so here it is) a major event for me. In mid-April, I decided I was carrying too much weight, as I hit 205 pounds. With terrific help from my nephew, running pal and good friend John, we completely rebuilt my eating habits and got on a steady drop in weight, hitting my target of 176 pounds in early August. Since that time, I’ve kept the weight in the 175-178 pound range, even through the holidays. I feel terrific! And I have noted running is easier, my shoes last longer, I feel lighter on my not-so-tiny feet. I have embraced a new way to eat. Who’d a thunk I’d ever see a treat as being a big spinach salad on a Saturday afternoon after a long run?

Demise of the Running Blogosphere. The only real disappointment for me this year was how much quality blogging about running disappeared. Truly, this was the year the blogosphere migrated to Facebook. I get this somewhat…a simple status update is quicker on FB. But the good thinking, the careful thought, the insights and perspectives flowed through longer writing on blogs. And it is just plain disappearing. I’m keeping this blog going; I find it helps as a diary of things I want to capture. And I truly appreciate anyone who reads it and finds it helpful or funny or somehow interesting. I just miss the fuller interaction we had a couple years ago.

Overall, I found myself this year more and more grateful. Grateful for each day of health. Grateful to run. Grateful for a wonderful wife and fascinating kids (and now fascinating grandkids). Grateful for a comfortable roof over my head. Grateful for an interesting job. None of these things are entitlements. They are all gifts. And I need to hold each with an open hand and a generous heart.

Tomorrow, I’ll post on 2011 plans. Some fun stuff to continue.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas and Running

ORN:  5.2 miles, R/W 6/1

This morning, I received an email from Brad, our local running club's Chief Communicator.  Along with some race results and announcements, he included his thoughts on Christmas.  They express, better than I can, many of my thoughts today.  So, I post them here for you.  

Today is Christmas Eve.  Below is a Christmas message that has my observations of the similarities of being a runner and being a Christian.
There are also similarities between our running club and what the Christian church should be.
Anybody can join: You do not need to already be a runner.  There are no minimum distance or speed requirements to join or continue membership. 
We rejoice in what others accomplish: We do not envy those who do things we have not done but instead celebrate with them.
We help each other without charging a fee: We gladly share everything we know with other runners to help them be better.
We do not condemn others when they fail: we know people who have dropped out of a race or had a time that is way slower than their goal.  We provide assurance that they have not failed as a person even though one particular goal was not reached.  We assure them that their options are to try again or instead recognize that being a runner does not mean that you must have a certain accomplishment on your log.
We all care about each other and provide things that are needed: People have given me sunscreen, a hat during a race (Sam Costa half), and words of encouragement.
We understand that there are universal rules and particular rules.  Certain rules apply to everybody (like staying on a course during a race) yet, most "rules" are in the "do what works for you" category.  For example, those who eat gel during a marathon do not pass judgment on those who do not and vice versa.
We accept those who join late in life the same as those who ran in high school.  We continue to accept people who do not reach their goals.  We simply hope that they will keep trying to discover their potential and be content.
I hope your experience with our local club (and runners in general) has been as positive as mine.
So what is Christmas?  It is simply one day set aside to celebrate the coming of the Christ.  Christ is simply a Greek word that means "anointed one".  The anointing refers to the Spirit of God being on him without measure.  Who is Christ?  Christ is like Pheidippides.   Pheidippides then ran the 40 km (25 miles) from the battlefield near Marathon to Athens to announce the Greek victory over Persia (Iran) in the Battle of Marathon (490 BC) with the word "We have won" and collapsed and died on the spot from exhaustion.  Christ also came a long way to deliver a message and then died of exhaustion.  In short, his message was "you need treat each other like runners instead of what you are doing now".
Merry Christmas and thanks for being a runner.

I wish each of you the very best this Christmas.  And may we each continue to persevere.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Frozen Bananas

ORN: 22.0 miles, R/W 4/1, 4:14:56, 11:36/mile

One of the distinct benefits of preregistering for spring marathons is that it provides a clear reason to get out in awful Midwest winter weather to do the necessary long runs. Today was one of those days.

The week has been brutally cold. Weather we normally see in mid to late January has hit already. Snow. Single digit and below-zero temps. I had two runs earlier in the week doomed to the dreadmill...if anything is motivating to go outside, that sure is it. I was antsy to get out and go for a long run today, though.

WL Trail near Cherry Lane

The run started at 14F and ended at a "balmy" 25F. I've discovered using hand warmers, polypro liner gloves and snowboarderdude mittens to be a decent combination to keep hands and arms warm. The run mostly just lumbered along. The footing was iffy...about 1/3 of the run was on snow pack, the rest on sorta dry pavement. I don't know if that contributed to my left IT band making noises around the 20 mile mark. That bad boy hasn't said anything for two years now.

The temps also triggered a new question for me. I've found eating bananas during a run to be much more enjoyable than packing gels. All fall, I simply stashed them along the route ahead of time. But how would they fare in this cold weather? I could not stash them the night before due to the temps, so I forward positioned them and extra water earlier in the morning. What shape would they be? I've seen frozen bananas come out of the freezer...none too appetizing.

Well, it seemed that the timing was OK but just barely. They hadn't fully frozen, though the skins were starting to darken. A bit "mushier" than I'd like but it worked. I also discovered I could peel a banana wearing snowboarderdude mittens as well...a skill I never figured I'd need but now have.

It's a long winter. But we persevere.


Sunday, December 05, 2010

Self Diagnosis

ORN: (Saturday)  10.1 miles in 3" of snow

Early last week, I arrived home from work with an odd feeling in my left index finger.  It was the first really cold day of the season, though only in the upper 20s.  It's only a seven minute drive home for me but my car was cold by the time I got it started at 6:15pm.  I walked in, pulled off my glove, my finger tingling, semi-numb and visually much whiter than the other fingers on my left hand.  Instinctively, I ran a sink of warm water, stuck my hand in and it all cleared up in about 3 minutes.  

What was going on??

I replayed recent experiences.  As the weather has cooled, the simple cotton garden gloves I've used for years while running were not working as well.  I often came in from a run with my left hand really cold.  My system for running garb has held up for many years; why was it failing now??  I got some heavier garden gloves; I added a small plastic bag over the gloves to try to cut the wind.  It was still uncomfortable.

The white-finger-thing happened again on Friday evening during my short drive home.  Time to try to figure this out.  Enter the web. 

It appears I have a thing called Raynaud's Phenomenon.  It's really not a big deal and treatment falls in the category of the old joke:  "Hey, doc, it hurts when I do this."  "Well, then, don't do that!"  A decrease in circulation creates some pain in cold temperatures.  It's probably related to the sense of arthritis I've seen developing in the same finger over the past six months or so.  My mother had real issues with arthritis in her hands.  We are forever swimming in our own gene pool.  

The solution??  One local friend dryly suggested I quit running until April.  Yeah, right.  I got some good input from several friends on FB and came up with a new plan.  I picked up a pair of nylon-covered mittens, in size XL so I can wear liner gloves underneath.   Then, I tried out a hand warmer for the 10 mile run I did in the snowfall on Saturday...boy, was that effective!!  I was amazed at how the simple hand warmer in the closed space not only kept my hand warm but it also kept entire arm was warmer as well.  But I don't like the idea of a throw-away hand heater, even though they are so very inexpensive.  So, I ordered some reusable hand warmers this afternoon.  

So, I'll soon have to update my temperature chart.  No surprise to you who follow this blog...I'm a systems geek and updating the system is part of the fun of running, applying the principles of kaizen.       

Winter is here, we're looking at single-digits overnight most of this week.  And we persevere.