Sunday, October 26, 2008

While the Miles Roll Away

I remember the days when getting a run in was a simple affair. Yesterday morning I felt like a pack mule as I gathered all my necessities for the long run. I had water bottles (half water, half Gatorade G2), a couple a gels, the belt to hold them, sweat cloth, ipod and earphones, Body Glide, shin support, medical tape, and a banana. Plus my keys, wallet and cell phone. I stuck all that in a grocery bag just to carry it to the car. I also had a small cooler to keep my new favorite recovery drink, chocolate milk, cold.

I had originally agreed to meet Mike at 6:00 a.m. I normally start my runs at a reasonable 7:00, he likes to get going by 5:00; we split the difference. Mike called on Thursday with a work committment that was going to preclude his run. I could have joined the Cruisers at 7:00 but decided to stick to the 6:00 plan since I had already scheduled the rest of my day around that time.

Than plan had originally called for a 22 miler today. When my shin began acting up again, I scaled it back to a 20 miler. This would be my first of two for Tennessee and my first since February 16. Eight months between long runs. I felt like I had to prove to myself that I could actually cover the distance again.

Finishing was my primary goal. Pace and time were secondary. I had set a loose expectation of staying below 10 minute pace. I set my watch for the 7:1 run:walk intervals that I've been using. I also started the chrono but didn't really monitor it. I started off in the dark on a street so I kept the ipod off. Once I hit the beach path and the sun began to rise I turned on the tunes. I've only recently began running the long runs to music and I am actually enjoying it.

I took sips from my bottles at most of my walk breaks. I hit the 10 mile turn around point right at 1:39:21, as close to 10:00 pace as I could hope for. I just hoped I could maintain that, since I hadn't given myself any leeway, but I reminded myself of goal number one to finish.

Once I hit about 13 miles I stared questioning marathons. The half distance is so much easier to do. I wondered (not seriously) if I could adjust my goal to half marathons in half the states. The music became a dominant force in the run during the second half. My playlist had mostly Christian pop/rock but I had added Jackson Browne's Running on Empty as well. The album showed up around mile 13. I hoped the title was not prophetic. I was still feeling pretty good at that point. "You Love the Thunder" has a great beat to run to. A couple of songs later these words in "Load Out/Stay" rang true - we've got the time to think of the one's we love while the miles roll away.

A couple of songs later during mile 15 or so the lyrics were - I'm tired of putting one foot in front of the other. The song "A Breath or Two" by Jimmy Needham is more about the status quo and self centeredness but was appropriate at the time.

Mile 16, my new favorite song came on, "Today is The Day" by Lincoln Brewster. I know I picked up the pace pretty significantly during this one. I debated for a second about keeping it looping but doubted I could keep up the pace for four more miles. It was one of the best four and a half minutes of the run. Although this isn't a subject I normally breach on this blog, I thought I would include a video of the song here.

Along the way I had taken half a packet of gel at mile 10, 13, 15 and 17. Although I was getting pretty tired I stuck to my 7:1 schedule and was pleased beyond pleased at my final time of 3:20:42, a 10:02 pace overall. Darn good after an eight month hiatus. After the banana and the chocolate milk I drove home to start the rest of my day.

Tennessee is lookin' better all the time.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

PA in Pix


Clock near the rail station in Lititz, PA


Rolling vistas


Autumn Mosaic


Lisa and her Dad at Longwood Gardens


View from a treehouse window, Longwood Gardens




Lisa and me at the Harrisburg Airport - Where else do they have country rockers at an airport?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

LOL in Blogland

I've been reading Nick's blog for a little while now. About a week or so ago I discovered that we had both run the NYC marathon in 2005. One day last week Nick put up a short synopsis of his marathons. The NYC marathon account included a run in with Sponge Bob Square Pants. Nick suffered an abrasion from Sponge Bob. I felt compelled to tell Nick of my own experience with the Sponge Bob sponge as a comment which I will copy below:

"Sponge Bob suffered a bad fate with me in NYC. Somewhere after picking up the sponge, I needed to use the john. There was no toilet paper so poor Sponge Bob was pressed into service. Needless to say that was one souvenir I did not bring home."

A few days later, while I watch catching up on blogs I came across this on Nick's site. I was in PA for the weekend and my mother-in-law was right there when I busted out laughing. I just couldn't bring myself to reveal the whole sordid details to her, but it was a funny moment.

Thanks for the laugh Nick!

The rest of my running week went like this. I did the 5 mile in Bonelli on Monday before the doctor appointment. Monday night I did a leg workout with the trainer at the gym. My legs were killing me until Thursday. The next time I got out there was on Thursday evening. I headed over to Bonelli for 4 miles. I took it pretty easy.

Twelve hours later, I was back out on the road at 6:00 for a 10.5 miler from home. I got the run in before we left for PA. My wife and I were going there to celebrate my in-laws 25th wedding anniversary. The weather took a turn toward chilly when we arrived after having been near 80 earlier in the week. I had planned not to run on Saturday, but skipped the run Sunday since it was only in the 30's when I had the time to go around 7:00 a.m. The rest of the day we were gone. We had a great day at Longwood Gardens.

When I got up Monday morning it was 27 degrees at 7:30 in the morning. I waited until almost 11:00 for the temps to finally break 40 before I went out for about 4 miles on the country lanes in PA. The vistas are beautiful. You can see a long way on the gently rolling terrain of south central PA.

We arrived back in SoCal at midnight last night. After a day a work today, I am off to take a test in Marketing. Never a dull moment.

Monday, October 13, 2008


The doctors appointment scheduled for the middle of the morning allowed me to get in my run first thing. I got up at my normal time and headed over to Bonelli for 5 miles over the dam onto Cottontail Trail. I did feel a little guilty taking a parking space in the Park&Ride lot during the morning rush, but felt better when I got back and there were still empty spaces.

The sun wasn't quite up when I got started. The weather has definitely taken a turn towards cooler. It was interesting to feel the different areas of cool and warm air that collected in the valleys and rose up from the lake. During the run I actually saw two other runners at different times going in the opposite direction. I came across both of them during a walk break. I hate when that happens. I did see the one guy on the return trip and this time I was running - redeemed.

I went to the appointment with the orthopedist. I described the pain and my history of diagnosis, treatment, physical therapy and release, mileage build up and return of the pain. He had a look at my orthotics and my old x-rays. They took new ones for comparison.

Thankfully I liked what he had to say and what he didn't say. He didn't tell me to stop running. He did pronounce my case to be unremarkable - classic shin splints. Treatment includes doing the things I'm already doing, albeit on a more regular basis. Stretching, ice, OTC anti inflammatory meds and the shin support. He suggested a source of OTC inserts when my current expensive prescription ones wear out. He also gave me his email and told me to use it if I had any questions in the future. He answers all his own email.

I was impressed with him and relieved that my "condition" is not more serious. Shin splints are annoying but ultimately dealt with. I will stay the course and keep to the plan for Memphis and then try to ramp things up ever so slowly to the levels of 2007 and see where I go from there.

I've got to plan a marathon someday in Idaho to meet up with Eric, Michelle, Rob and whoever else wants to join us. And there's always the fourth annual blogger reunion to plan sometime at the end of 2009. [Note to Joe - we are running out of choices the first week or two of December, what do you think about OBX in North Carolina on Veterans Day weekend in 2009? Just a thought. ] Anybody else have a good ideas.

Movin' forward and lookin' ahead - Remarkable!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Thirty Percent More....

…at no extra charge.

The scheduled long run this week was 10 miles. Back in June when I first put this plan on paper, I penciled in many of the local races to see where they would fit it. Back in August I ran the Run through the Pines half on a weekend that called for a 12 miler. That race went well. A couple of weeks later I faced the choice of adding other races to the schedule and I added the Long Beach Half Marathon to the plan. I sent in my registration on 8/29 before the price increase. This was a Friday. No sooner had I done that than my shin started hurting again (at the end of week 13, training for my 13th state, hmmmm). I also had to make a critical decision. That day was the last day to send in my early entry for Big Sur in 2009. As much as I really want to run that one, I just couldn’t send in that check for $108 and risk not running it for the second time.

Meanwhile this weekend, my friend Terry was running the full at Long Beach and many of the CA Cruisers were running the half. Terry asked me to pace her for the first 11 miles before the half and full split up. She was using LB as a training run for a shot at a BQ at the California International Marathon the same weekend I’m scheduled for Tennessee.

After some traffic snarl ups we made it to the race start with only a couple of minutes to spare. I had no official time goal but was hoping for something less than 2:10. Terry was shooting for a 4:15 – 4:20 marathon. We were trying to keep the pace between 9:30 and 10:00, hopefully toward the longer side while we were together and then Terry would kick it up later as necessary to meet the goal.

Our first few miles were on the faster end of the desired pace.

Mile 1 – 9:35
Mile 2 – 9:22
Mile 3 – 9:21

I pulled back a little and told Terry to set the pace. I joked with her that I didn’t want to be blamed for the end of the race falling apart because we’d gone too fast at the start.

Mile 4 – 9:32
Mile 5 – 9:30
Mile 6 – 10:01

We’d finally slowed down a little. At this point, as seems to be the case with me a lot lately, my gut needed to take a break. I’d even taken care of business before the race started. I had to let Terry go on without me at the next set of port-o-johns.

Mile 7 – 10:48 including the bathroom stop

I tried like crazy to catch up to Terry before she reached the mile 11 cut off to the full.

Mile 8 – 9:27

I passed quite a few people but didn’t really gain any ground. I shortened my walk breaks. We had been using 7:1 up to that point. In my attempt to catch Terry I missed a couple of mile markers before 11.

Mile 9, 10, 11 – 27:35 (9:12 pace)

There was no hope of catching Terry. At this point I reminded myself that this was just a training run and tried to settle into a more leisurely pace. As I ran along, I felt good and continued to pass people.

Mile 12 – 8:48 the fastest mile so far

Mile 13.1 – 9:34

I ended up finishing the race faster than I started it. That was pretty cool. The clock read 2:04:45 when I crossed the finish line. My watch had 2:03:33 (9:25 pace). The official results will be posted later this evening.

I hung around after the finish and got to see many of the Cruisers coming in. I was at the finish line when the first marathoner crossed the finish. It is amazing that he just ran a marathon in about 15 minutes longer than it took me to run the half. I also got to see a guy with a fairly good sized cheering section get to announce that “I’m going to Boston!!” He’d qualified with 30 seconds to spare somewhere in the 3:15 time frame.

I decided to head up the course to wait for Terry. I picked her up with about a mile to go and ran her in to the finish. She came in at 4:12, faster than planned but at least I wasn’t on the hook for the fast early pace.

It was a beautiful day for a race. Besides the parking hassles due to the fact that there is only one freeway that dumps you into Long Beach and the number of walkers on the course that is on a 12 foot wide bike part for part of the time, the rest of the event is well organized. The half marathon course is pretty interesting I think and before I knew it I was done. I would consider doing this one again if it fit into the schedule again as nicely as it did this year.

Burger, another LA blogger was there as well, gunning for a PR effort at the half. I hope he was able to achieve his goal and look forward to reading his take on the race.

Tomorrow I have an appointment with an orthopedic doctor that I made the Monday after Black Week 13. Since then my shin has felt so much better. I’ve run an 18 miler, another speedy run earlier this week and the half today with no apparent ill effects, but I’m going to keep the appointment anyway since it took a month get in. I’ll let you know what he has to say.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

A Little Taste of the Old Me

Until today running has sucked this week. Pretty much everything has sucked this week. The economy has resulted in some of my coworkers losing their jobs or corporately speaking "their positions were eliminated"; whatever. My (and your) 401k took a huge dive. On the home front I am finding it increasingly more difficult to deal with the 18 year old who seems to have no motivation or direction. Even the shortest contact with him ends with me being pissed off. Life!

I didn't run on Monday, although I can't remember exactly why. The initial plan was to run Wednesday and Thursday. Tuesday I had class - Intro to Marketing, so no running. Wednesday I'm blaming on the kid, but in reality it was my reaction to the kid that kept me from running.

Today I finally got out there and it felt G-O-O-D! I headed over to the San Gabriel River Trail right after work. It was just like old times. Brian, Celeste, Terry and I used to have a standing 5 miler every Thursday right after work. Today it was just me but the trail was familiar.

I got started right behind another guy. I fell in behind him as he slowly crept further and further ahead of me. I took note of the time at a mile marker and realized my chasing had me running nearly 8:00 pace. Just before the 2 mile mark my rabbit turned back. I ended up doing that mile in 8:20. It has been a long time since I'd done that. My heart and lungs felt nearly ready to burst out of my chest. At that point I took a 30 second walk break to catch my breath and then kept on going without my rabbit to spur me on.

I tried to keep the pace under control. I had no need to run fast. I've found though that once I've started a pace I have a hard time changing it up. The next mile came in at 8:40 which included the 30 second walk break. The next mile was 8:06. I was huffing and sucking in as much air as I could but I couldn't slow down. It was during mile 4 that I realized that I was running the whole time. For some reason I didn't even think to take walk breaks. I've been using 5:1 on shorter runs pretty routinely lately. I guess I was enjoying the trail and the little burst of speed too much. I took another 30 second walk break at mile 4.5 and tried really hard to take easy into the finish.

My final time was 42:03 for an 8:25 pace overall. Like I said it felt really GOOD. I'm not sure where the little burst of speed came from but it was fun while it lasted and for 42:03 life didn't suck quite so badly.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Its Fall Y'All

Its Fall Y’allsign at a nursery/garden store near the start of my long run.

The last minute trip to Toronto changed the running plans a little, maybe even for the better. I was able to get a 5 miler in on Monday morning before my flight at noon. It was very nice to run in the morning on a weekday with no big rush to be anywhere. Just before I left, we had a short rain shower. It was the kind with the great big drops, that if one hit you you’d be drenched. The shower didn’t last and I was rewarded with a beautiful rainbow in the western sky. The 5 mile run was more of an effort than I expected. It was my third run in three days, which is something I don’t do too often anymore.

The trip to Toronto went well. The weather was alternately gloomy, raining and then clear; typical for the region. I was able to spend a short amount of time downtown. There is a beautiful running path right on Lake Ontario that I would like to take advantage of if I ever get another chance to visit Toronto. I also was able to see Niagara Falls before one of the customer visits. It is just magnificent. I didn’t run a step in Toronto.

I was back home and at work on Friday and planned my 18 miler for Saturday. The CA Cruisers were mostly running a local 5K, so I was pretty much on my own for the 18. Thankfully, Terry my old running buddy from work was looking for a partner for 10 miles. So I headed out to the river trail in Yorba Linda and put in 8 miles beginning at 7:00. It was a perfect day for a long run. The forecast had called for scattered light showers. They never materialized; they rarely do around here, but the cloud cover, cool temps and light breeze made for great day. I used my shin guard and stuck to my 7:1 run:walk routine.

The first 8 miles ticked off pretty easily. Terry was there to meet me and I never missed a beat on my way for the second part of the run. We continued the 7:1 schedule. Terry was up for an easy run since she is running the Long Beach Marathon next weekend. She lamented the fact that the weather would have been great for the marathon this weekend, while next weekend is forecast for 78 degrees. I made it to the turnaround point, 13 miles so far, feeling pretty good. By the time we hit mile 16 I was relishing the walking breaks. I struggled a little to get the last 2 miles done. I felt better if I paid attention to my posture, but my hips and knees were definitely feeling the effects of the 18 miles. We finished up just seconds shy of 3 hours for a nice round 10:00 pace. I’d be ecstatic if I could keep that up for Memphis, but it doesn’t seem realistic considering the struggle to get to 18.

The shin felt really good so I’m feeling pretty good about getting to Memphis. Right after the run Lisa and I left for Laughlin, Nevada. Laughlin is a 4 hour drive. We were going to catch Journey in the last stop of their 2008 Revelation Tour. Journey was the first concert we ever saw together way back when we were dating so it was going to be a nice way to celebrate our 24 wedding anniversary. Fiscal year end inventory at her work and my flight to Toronto on the actual day prohibited celebrating any sooner. The concert was a lot of fun, but it sure is odd to see all those grey haired, pot bellied folks at a rock show. I just don’t see myself that way. A lot of people were there as families with their teens which was kind of cool and the new lead singer who is from the Philippines drew a significant number of Filipinos.

I did get in a short 2.5 mile run on Sunday morning, but the previous days run and the bone dry conditions in Laughlin made it a difficult run. I called it quits at 2.5 and planned on finishing up the run on the treadmill at the hotel but then didn’t want to pay the $5 usage fee, as if the casino/hotel isn’t profitable enough.

I ended the week with 25.5 miles. Between the flight, the long run and the drive to and from Laughlin, I’m worn out. Good thing this week is a step back week, but then again is it????