Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day

ORN:  5.3 miles

Not exactly a "leaping" run this morning, as my new friend "Mid-Week Soreness" rode along with me.

But, hey, it was 50F this morning at 5:20am in Indiana in February.  Today made the fifth time, I think, I've been able to run in shorts in February.  The last two winters, I never got into shorts until late March.  Just amazing.  And I don't miss the snow at all.

It also meant I ran 153 miles in the calendar month.  As near as I can tell, that's a record.  Amping up the miles in preparation for Kal Haven is working.

Enjoy your Leap'll be four years before you get another one!!



Friday, February 24, 2012

Race Report: Freezing 5K

ORN:  3.1 miles, 24:24, 7:53/mile

One of the benefits of living in a college town is the surprising activities that pop up.  For a runner, this means some small race on most weekends of the school year. Many are forgettable but this one caught my eye.  It was on a Friday afternoon at 5:30, I had already decided to take the day off to finish off our taxes and what better reward for slogging through Form 1040 than running a race?

And even better, this race was a fund raiser for the Purdue Engineering Student Association.  As a Purdue Engineer myself, it made perfect sense, even if I graduated in 1975.  This photo could have been me back in the mid 70s.

So, we gathered to run the 5K.   And it was quickly evident virtually all of us were engineers.  I'm guessing maybe 8 of us had actually graduated...the other 80 runners were engineering students.

We confirmed we were all engineers as the Race Director gave us directions.  She made a statement that included the phrase "The loop is about 1.5 miles" and she was booed!!  This was a collection of engineers and, instinctively, we all knew engineers never use the word "about"!!!  I've never seen that in any race!

The hilarity continued.  In a very engineering way.  Standing around in the start pack, we spontaneously wondered just how the various engineering disciplines would measure a 5K race, to wit:

  • Civil Engineers would identify waypoints via GPS
  • Mechanical Engineers would use laser markers
  • Industrial Engineers would attach RFID tags to all the runners
  • Electrical Engineers would rig complete wireless connectivity
  • Agricultural Engineers would just put a shock collar on each of us
Knee-slapping, rip-snorting humor.  Seriously, it really is.  Engineers are like this when they get together.  We didn't have enough time to tell the best engineering joke ever, the one about the poles on the right-hand side of the plane, but you get the idea.  

What was also fun was when Ross walked up and greeted me.  We've been good friend with his parents since before he was even an idea for them.  He's now an engineering student.  A great kid, we had a wonderful talk and had our photo in front of the famous Purdue Engineering Fountain right before the race.

Oh yes, the race.  We did get started on time.  The organizers were not entirely sure just where the start or finish line but we seemed to get it "about" right.  We ran two laps around the heart of the Purdue academic campus, which was a treat in and of itself.  I ran pretty much by feel, having left my Garmin at home.  Just tried to run smooth and steady.  I was very pleased to finish with a sub 8 minute pace.  

My funny bone intact, I was home promptly for Friday night enchiladas.  Nothing quite like hanging out with some fun-loving engineers, unless it is engineers who also run.  

Tomorrow, we rejoin our regularly scheduled distance running pattern. 


Thursday, February 23, 2012

On Soreness and the Timing Thereof

ORN:  5.2 miles, 55:06, R/W 6/1, 10:36/mile

I've always read and experienced that the sorest day after a long run is two days hence.  A tough marathon on Saturday, most sore on Monday.  So I've been surprised over the past three weeks to see that pattern altered.

As I've done long runs on both Saturday and Sunday, I've found my sorest day to not be Tuesday but Thursday.  Three weeks in a row.  The first time, it was so sore, I just cut off the run to a mere 1.4 miles.  Last Thursday was stiff but tolerable.  This morning was kinda the same.  Creeky at first, loosened up a bit, but still sore.  All this despite the fact that my run yesterday felt fine.

Not sure what the action here is, but I note it for the worldwide physio-therapeutic community (which I KNOW breathlessly follows this blog :-) ) to comment from their collective scientific insight.



Monday, February 20, 2012

Running Safety

She didn't see me at all.  And nearly plowed right into me while I ran a couple of mornings ago.  The closest call I've had in years this morning.

Many of us have to run in the dark to get the miles in. I've learned a few things in my years in the dark.

I don't usually worry too much about traffic coming towards me.  I can see it clearly, I wear reflective gear, year round, if I'm running in the dark and it lights up nicely.  I also don't worry too much about traffic coming from behind...I always run on the left side of the road, the reflectors light up and I also have a flashing LED clipped to the back of my belt.  I've not had close calls in these settings.

But, dark corners in a quiet neighborhood...that's a different story.  Virtually every close call I've ever had has been in this configuration.  A sleepy driver, seeing no other headlights, desperately seeking Starbucks and not expecting a runner rolls through an intersection, turns and, wham, there is a guy running.  Which means, as it did this morning, the guy has to be watching.

And ready to leap to the side.  And yell.

Run defensively.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Will Run Kal-Haven, after all

ORN: 14.0 miles, 2:27:20, 10:32/mile, R/W 4/1

After a really lousy long run several weeks ago, I truly wondered if I should show up and attempt the Kal-Haven 33.5 mile Trail Run, even though I had registered last December.  After I bonked, badly, on a simple 18 mile training run, I seriously questioned if it was wise to take on this trail race again.

I went back to the drawing board, so to speak, read up on ultramarathon training and modified my pattern of three 5 mile runs during the week and a single long run on the weekend.  Instead, I went to two 5 milers and then two long runs on the weekend.  I gave myself three weekends of this pattern to see if I could take the increased mileage, knowing I'd need it to enjoy the Kal-Haven race.

Today was final test in the series of 6 runs.  And I passed.  After doing 20 miles yesterday, I followed up with 14 very enjoyable miles this afternoon.  No pain, no soreness, no nothing (no eagles either, but, hey, you can't expect that on every run).  And my last mile of the day was the quickest of the entire weekend, a Kenyan-esque 9:43.  The last three weeks have had 41, 31 and 45 miles, respectively.  And I've enjoyed it, with no negative results.

So, I'm going to book a room in scenic Kalamazoo, Michigan for March 23, take an early start the next morning and enjoy a long day in the woods.  With more confidence than I had a few weeks ago.

You can never stop learning.  Big lesson there.



Saturday, February 18, 2012

Bald Eagle Sighting

ORN:  20.2 miles, 3:40:10, 10:54/mile, R/W 4/1

What an awesome surprise!!  I headed out the door just after 8 this morning on a 20 mile training run in sunshine and temps in the low 30s.  I decided to run two different 10 mile out and back routes from my house.  The first loop was down Our City's Single Hill to the Wabash River and back.

Around mile 4.5, on the trail approaching the river, I met a couple of fellow runners running away from the river who told me excitedly "You gotta see the eagles!"  And as I came around a turn, there they were.  Three adult bald eagles, perched high in the trees overlooking a lagoon off the river, hoping for a tasty breakfast.

Closer to their perch was bird watcher with a camera and huge telephoto lens.  I stopped and chatted with him.  He was waiting for them to swoop down to fish and get some action photos.  "They are very patient birds," he told me, smiling, "so I need to be patient as well."  He focused his big lens on one of the eagles and invited me to look at the magnificent bird.

Wow.  It filled the frame and, with no leaves on the trees, we had a clear view of the eagle, proud and alert, looking every bit the regal creature it is.  It was inspiring.  We chatted a bit more and I continued on my run, beaming.

About 15 minutes later, I had hit my turnaround spot and came back to the lagoon.  My patient friend was still there and we chatted again.  Just then, two of the three eagles spotted something and sprang from their perches.  Swiftly, purposefully they descended and circled, wings spread wide, tails precisely steering the approach to water's surface, to snag their unsuspecting prey.  No more than 20 yards from us as they came to the surface, we had a terrific view and patience was rewarded with some terrific images.

This is not his image, but this is sure what we saw...the hunter, in full aerodynamic control, talons bared, eyes intent, skimming the water, getting its prey.  The two birds then circled the lagoon again and resumed their high perch.  Patient again.

It was thrilling, magnificent.

We are fortunate to have some 20-30 bald eagles now resident along the 15 mile stretch of the Wabash River centered on our fair city.  I've seen them several times before but never so close.

What a treat.  And one of the wonderful "fringe benefits" of getting outdoors and running, year round.

Oh yeah, the run also went well...test #5 of 6 passed.

But how do you top a personal view of a bald eagle's flight???

Persevere...and be patient.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Gear: Heavy Duty Head Fleece

In the midst of winter, it's good to keep warm.  And earlier this winter, I picked up one of the best pieces of winter gear I've found in a long time.

It's a heavy duty fleece with a long tail I can tuck into my collar.  Not a great looking fashion statement but who's worried about that when the wind chill is in negative figures??



Tuesday, February 14, 2012


The two books I ordered in one morning a couple weeks ago probably says a lot about me.

One was Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons by Byron Powell.  I picked it up based on some recommendations and, duh, a 33.5 mile ultra looking me in the face on March 24.

The other was Quiet:  The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain.  I saw a preview of this book and it resonated.

Only after I got both of these downloaded to my Kindle did I smile and see the link. Who runs marathons and ultra marathons?  Is it not people who are fine with spending lots of time alone?  Who reflects about being fine with being alone?  Is it not someone who tends to introversion?  Who looks for subtle linkages, like, say, what it means to download two particular books in a matter of hours?

And I've really enjoyed both books.

"Relentless" is a terrific discussion of ultramarathoning.  I really appreciated the training chapter, particularly. It was there I was tipped off to the necessary of doing two long runs in a weekend to properly prepare for an ultra.  I haven't read a book on running for a couple of years either...and this is a good one.

"Quiet" has been a terrific treat to read.  I'm about halfway through it and Ms. Cain's crystal-clear writing style has explained a lot of my own introspection to me.  I've found it very encouraging and insightful.

And has given me lots to think about on those long runs getting ready for the ultra.



Monday, February 13, 2012

Eight Years Old

Hard to believe, but our twin grandsons are eight years old today.  What a journey it's been.  Now they are in second grade, reading and doing multiplication and generally enjoying life.

From Family-General

It is a real gift they live a mere 10 minute drive away.  Our son is midway through nursing school.  His deployments as a US Army medic have prepared him well.  His wife holds a significant teaching appointment in the manufacturing section of our local community college.  They love these two guys and their little's a true blessing to have them near and to enjoy warm relationships with all five of them.

Thanks for enjoying this with me.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

He really WAS wearing Army Boots

ORN:  10.3 miles, 1:49:35, 10:39/mile

The new ten mile route I'm enjoying involves a down and up on The Only Hill In Our Fair City.  The community trail route now available traverses the roughly 200 vertical feet from our flat neighborhood to the flats along the Wabash River.  Not much, but, hey, it's the best we can do.

On the way back up the hill, I fell in with a guy who was running in US Army issue sweat pants and Army boots.  We got talking and he mentioned he was running up and down this hill getting ready to run Bataan Death March Memorial Marathon in New Mexico on March 25.  He had done the short version of it once before...this time the full 26.2.  In Army boots.  Plus, it was to be his first marathon, ever.  We had a good talk.  And I wish him well.

I also added this to my "Someday, Maybe" list of marathons.  Wow.

For now, I passed test 4 of the 6 I need to get through for Kal-Haven.  Next weekend is the "Final Exam", though...20 on Saturday then 14 on Sunday.

Persevere.  And remember those who have marched before us.


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Winter. Again.

ORN:  14.5 miles, 2:31:31, 10:27/mile

Some days, the most crucial step of a run is the one that takes you out the door.

Such was the case for me today.  I've really, really enjoyed the unusually mild winter we've had so far...what a nice break from our usual December-February for this year-round outdoor runner.  But a cold front whistled in after a light snowfall on Friday, dropping temps into the teens overnight with a 25 mph wind pounding from the northwest.

In addition, I had test #3 of 6 to take today...this one a 14 miler.  I had to cut short a normal run on Thursday with some severe soreness in my right hip.  Today, I had to get out in the cold for 14.

As so often happens, once out the door, it went OK.  After all, my temperature chart never lets me down, right?  And so I got the miles in.  Surprisingly, at a pace better than I had anticipated.  The right hip was a bit stiff but slowly loosened over the 2+ hours outdoors.

Test passed.  Running--an A-.  Attitude--C.  But a pass. Still on track for Kal-Haven.



Wednesday, February 08, 2012

A Trail where there is no Trail

Do you ever see something and wonder "why have I never SEEN that before?"

Had that happen Sunday afternoon on my long run.

As I've mentioned before, I've become increasingly fond of running on trails.  Dirt, not pavement.  Woods, not streets.  We have only one option locally and, being along the Wabash River as it is, it's under water for much of the winter and/or so muddy to be impassable.  I miss it.

And then I "saw" it.

Much of our city's 17-mile walking trail system on which I run look like this:

From Circular Logic Marathon Course Tour
Asphalt down the middle.  And nicely groomed grass on either side.  And, as I ran down the middle of the asphalt on Sunday, another runner coming toward me was running on the grass.  

Of course!!  Who says I have to run on the asphalt??  I can experience many of the good parts of trail running just by stepping onto the grass!  The unevenness, the softness, the better workout, the use of more leg muscles for stability--all those things, right there for the having and yet I missed it.  For how many years??

Better to see these things late than never at all.



Monday, February 06, 2012

Eating while Running

I mentioned a few days ago I tried a new recipe for eating during long training runs.  I found it in a biking publication and it sounded good--whole wheat, uncooked oatmeal, raisins, nuts, fructose, milk.  I whipped up a batch Friday night and tried them on both my long runs over the weekend.

The early grade?  OK, but needs tweaking.  I over-cooked them.  They were pretty dry.  I needed to cut them into quarters before tossing them in a baggie to carry with me.  But, it was nice to eat some solid food and, having made it myself, I knew what was in it.

I also carried some of my JoeGu, a recipie which I've had more experience tweaking.  That stuff works great and is very easy to carry and digest on the run.

Yet, there's something nice about "chewing food"...

Will continue to tweak this new adventure.


Sunday, February 05, 2012


ORN:  12.0 miles, 2:06:52, 10:35/mile

B2B.  I always thought this was a marketing term-"Business to Business".  But I've recently learned it is also an ultrarunning training term-"Back to Back".  Taking two long runs on one weekend.

I've never done this until today but realized I needed to amp up my mileage if I'm going to survive the Kal Haven 33.5 mile run in late March.  So, this is the first of three consecutive weekends of doing B2Bs.  If I get through all three, I'll do Kal Haven...if not, I won't.

And I was amazed.

18 yesterday was enjoyable.  Did a 4/1 and just kept moving.  Today was surprisingly enjoyable.  12 more miles, just kept moving and a pace 3 sec/mile faster than yesterday.  No pain.  Felt good at the end.

So, test one of three--passed.

Now, something about a football game tonight??  For the second largest eating day in America, after Thanksgiving???!

Persevere.  Even in a pile of nacho cheese chips.


Saturday, February 04, 2012

An Ambassadorial Run

ORN:  18.0 miles, 3:18:08, 10:38/mile

Today's long run route took me past a hotel which is conveniently located for refilling water bottles and use of facilities.  Walking past the lobby this morning, though, I noticed a lot of New York Giants decorations, an unusual sight here in central Indiana.  I asked and learned this hotel was full of Giants fans, happy to have a place to stay, even 60 miles from the Super Bowl site in Indy.

Heading out to resume my run, I saw two guys in Giant jackets, smoking big stogies, and so I walked over to welcome them to Indiana and our fair city.  We had a fun talk about Eli and Peyton and cornfields and their homes in New Joysee.  As I was heading off, one of them asked "So, is this Midwestern hospitality?"  Yeah, I guess so.  "Amazing...people are actually friendly."

Winning friends, one at a time!!


Friday, February 03, 2012

The Muffin Man

After the discouragement of last weekend's cut-short long run, I revamped some training plans during the week and this weekend is the first test.  

Part of it is nutrition.  Found a recipe for "Energy Muffins" a while back, and whipped up a batch tonight.  All sorts of good stuff in them, both carbs and protein.  Will carry some with me tomorrow for what I hope is an 18 miler.

Let you know tomorrow how it goes and what the plan is looking like.  I have three weeks in which to decide go/no go for the Kal Haven 33.5 miler.


Wednesday, February 01, 2012

February a "shorts" month?

5:30am.  February 1.  In Indiana.  

And I'm out the door, in shorts, running on dry pavement.  


We have enough wicked bad winters, I'll sure take this mild one.