Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sleep Must be an Inconvenience for You

It was the start of my second nine-mile Hinckley loop at 5:30 AM, and since people were asking, I informed them that I had arrived at 4:00 AM and had already completed a loop. And that I had gotten up and out of bed just before 3:00 AM. That's when John Pavlick observed, "Sleep must be an inconvenience for you."

The gang proceeded to leave me in the dust. That was okay - I know the way. So yes, I was the Beetle Bomb, (In case you're wondering about Beetle Bomb, it's something Debbie's dad always used to call the kids when they were late or slow, as in, "Here comes Beetle Bomb". I found this video as the probable source of that.)

Having said all this, I actually ran relatively well today.First loop was 1:28, the second 1:26. I'll take those, Beetle Bomb or not.

Time for a nap.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

River Road Run

Cold rain. I hate cold rain. I am running - if you can call it that, as slow as it is - down towards River Road here in Niagara Falls. It would have been easy to nix this cold, damp outside run in favor of something warmer, dryer and even faster such as a comfortable hotel dreadmill. But I think about how spring began yesterday evening after an awful winter - an awful winter that included way too much dreadmill running. I think about how many times I have pined for temperatures even just a little warmer than the single digits (today it was about 37). I even think about that year - yes, an entire year - in the nineties that I spent running entirely outside, based on a self-imposed exile from treadmill running.

Two Marriotts, including ours. An Embassy Suites, a Travelodge and several other hotels. Tony Romas, Margaritaville, Brasa, Outback, My Cousin Vinny's, Applebees, and gobs of other restaurants. Three or so casinos. The Silly-Skylon tower. The place is like Vegas, I think, as I turn onto River Road after descending the big hill away from the glitz. I hate glitz. Now at least it's quieter by the falls. Except, of course, for the roar of the falls. I have descended to a point directly across from the American Falls. It is still partially surrounded by ice and snow, but still pretty despite the cold, the dark and the misty, foggy light rain. I can see Horseshoe Falls about a half mile up river, but I turn the other way onto the walking trail.

Black, hard-crusted snow. And alongside it, black ice. I hate ice. I don't even like it in drinks. I have been running north on the walking path between River Road and the Niagara River, and now that I am getting farther from the glitz and the lights, the icy spots on the sidewalk have become more numerous. So I move onto the street. There is very little traffic at 6am on a Saturday away from town so there really is no danger.

At about 3.6 miles - just where I thought it would be - I come to the Aero-cars. These cable cars travel above a swirling whirlpool area of the river are a touristy thing that we did with Dave and Carol the last time we were in the area, about 12 years ago. I hate touristy. But it was actually ok. For today, this is as far as I want to go. I turn around and head back.

Now the cold wind and misty rain is in my face. I hate wind.

I try to pick up the pace, at least a little. The change is almost imperceptible. I hate running slow.

I turn back up the hill to return to the hotel. I hate hills.

After an extremely long time and not an extremely large amount of mileage, I make it back to the Marriot. I think about how much better it is to run outdoors than indoors. It’s like cats: indoor cats live longer than outdoor ones. But who would want to be an indoor cat, when the alternative is freedom? I think about all this in spite of how I hated everything along the way. I love running.

Debbie and me in our hotel room overlooking the falls
By the American Falls

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Doing the Double -or- Well That was Dumb

The last time I did a double (two Hinckley 9-mile loops) was over a year ago. Now I finally did it again. Same old friends, same basic results. Which is to say, I made it. Woohoo.

Not that it was easy. Been a tough winter for sure, but the Achilles injury made it much worse. But now I'm done with the physical therapy, and am incrementally better. So naturally I had to try to ruin myself again. I hadn't run more than 12 or so since January 1, so 18 hilly miles would definitely be a challenge. Turns out that it was a dumb challenge.

My Achilles began to hurt (as much as it ever had) during the last couple downhill miles of my second loop. That's when I also began to berate myself for being so stupid. Everyone else is doing a double. I'm feeling fine, so why not go for it. I've gotta get back in shape. All the things we say to ourselves. You know the talk.

And it kept hurting for several days, resulting in a not-so-great week of running, despite the (finally) good weather.

Now, a week later, I'm back on the road to recovery once again. Maybe I'll try another double tomorrow.

Friday, March 06, 2015

I AM Running. And Don't Call me Shirley.

Of course I'm referring to one of my all-time favorite movie lines. In that case, it was, "Surely you can't be serious," Followed by, "I AM serious. And don't call me Shirley." In my case, I figure the neighbors must see me moving so slowly that they would be reluctant to call what I do, running. Therefore, in my imagination, they are wondering, "Surely he can't be running," and my imaginary retort is the title of this post. By the way, Leslie Nielson's line from Airplane is number 79 on the American Film Institute's list of Greatest Movie Quotes of All Time.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Winter from Hell, Part Too

One would think that something from Hell would be on the hot side, not the cold side. On the other hand, it's conceivable that one may also be able to say that anything coming from There would be arduous to infamous in various ways. Last winter qualified on that level. And now that we're just wrapping up the coldest February on record, this one does as well.

Has there been an impact to your running, Dan (you ask)? Hell, yes, I answer. I'm pretty darn sure that for the past couple months, I've done a larger percentage of my miles indoors than any such period in my running history. Yes, I'm spending more time on the mill, and enjoying it less. They do let me out on some days - usually weekends with friends, and the few days where the weather isn't totally awful. Sometimes I just get mad as Hell, say I'm not going to take it anymore, and go outside regardless of the cold. I did this today, but didn't get far in the sub-zero cold.

And when I do run outside, I'm even slower than ever. Having said that, I do try to push the pace once in a while in hamster mode.

Is there any good news at all (you ask)? Hell, no, I answer. But there is a slight amount of not-so-terrible news. I've just completed my third week of physical therapy, and I can say that my Achilles Tendinitis is incrementally (read: slightly) better. I'm doing everything I'm told by the Physical Therapist (Patti), and by George, it's working. A little.

And for some more not so terribly awful news, March begins on Sunday.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

GPS Games: Go Get Great Garmins

I am fully aware that the Post Title doesn't make much sense. Do they ever?

It is true that I am now the proud owner of a Garmin Forerunner 620. The 620 is a step up from the 610, but I am sure that some day they will come up with a 630, and we'll all have to upgrade. They can't fool me.

Having had GPS watches before (a Soleus given to me by friend Jack Reilly, and prior to that a Garmin Forerunner 305), I suspected that like Angie Kovacs, I would wind up having an unnatural love for my 620. And I do. I love the information it provides, even though I never know quite what to do with it. Information, in and of itself, is still, in my mind, a good thing.

Other runners joke that their 620s are smarter than they are. Mine is definitely smarter than me. It reports cadence, vertical oscillation and ground contact time. These metrics are called running dynamics, and according to Garmin, they effect running economy. Who am I to question such a thing? It also tracks heart rate and VO2 Max. It tells me when, and for how long to recover, and can also predict race times. I just can't possibly match wits with any of that stuff. On top of everything else, it even counts steps and can estimate distance, speed, and the rest of the stuff for treadmill running.

Treadmill running is something that I've been doing a lot of lately. Although not quite as terrible as last year, this has become another awful, long and hard winter. That is to say, it's another normal winter, if you consider all those winters before global warming spoiled everyone. Accordingly, outside running has become more challenging than usual. On weekends, I've managed to get out with friends, but for most weekdays, you will find me on the mill.

The 'ole mills are beginning to get to me though. I may have to actually venture outside again someday. Maybe in spring.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

If it's Sunday, This Must be Hinckley

About a year ago, I published my list of Hinckley runs, extracted from my running log. If there had been any doubts about my sanity, a quick look at that list will quickly dispell them. This post will be a bit different. It's about what actually happens during one particular Sunday at Hinckley.

It's 5:30 A.M., and I'm only now just trying to pull into the Spillway parking lot. There have been times when I've arrived early (as early as 4), but this is not one of them; 5:30 in the A.M. is just fine today, thank you. I say I am trying to pull in. The road into the park from Bellus is barricaded off. This is a first. I guess that it's because of the snow that has been falling steadily for a couple hours now, although it's remained open during times of more snow than this.

A car just ahead of me is turning around at the barricade as well. It's Frank Dwyer, who is equally flummoxed. We decide to park at the ranger station just down the road. There are already two cars in the lot, and running back to the lot we see Caitlin Oblander and Rick Roman. Over-achievers that they are, they had arrived at 5 to run a three-mile loop around the lake as a warm-up. Now they're cheerfully imparting tales of running on the barricaded/deserted, snow-covered road, since the all-purpose trail's footing was worse.

The four of us, including Fank in his shorts (!), are about to start out on our nine-mile loop, when Debbie Scheel shows up. It occurs to us that several runners may be a little late today due to the snow on the roads. Regulars Jack Reilly and Michelle Wolff would not be among them at all this time. I am surprised that this many made it so far.

The five of us are about to begin running when more cars begin to arrive. It's Cristina Sparks, Rob Lisy and Alan Dravenstott. Once again, the weather had slowed them down a bit. I'm now quite surprised at the showing.

The eight of us start out running up the hill on Bellus. But we don't get too far. Other cars are also arriving. We decide to turn back, trying to get word to everyone to not bother trying to get into the normal parking lot. It doesn't work; everyone tries to make the turn, finds the barricades, and then decides to park back with the rest of us.

This time it's Jeannine Nicholson and Ladd Clifford. They ask us to wait yet another minute for Connie Gardner, who was just behind. I haven't seen these folks here, this early on a Sunday, for many a moon. Ladd and I briefly reminisce about an early morning 24-hour training run we did here a few years ago, in which we did ten three-mile lake loops in cold, icy conditions.

Connie is still getting out of her car as the rest of us begin our run, for good this time. It occurs to me that there is no one - not one person - who's my speed. Well possibly Cristina, but even she usually leaves me in the dust the last couple miles. I consider letting everyone go on without me and doing lake loops, but when I voice this thought, Debbie and the rest reassure me that I won't need to run alone.

Dan running up Effie on a similar Sunday
Heading up Bellus Hill, not to be confused with Effie, I have my doubts. It's oxygen debt almost from the get-go. Bellus is actually even higher than Effie, but at least Bellus is over with rather quickly. We're forced to watch and contemplate Effie for about two miles after turning onto Ledge Road. And of course Effie hits half-way through the run, when one is already somewhat beat up from all the other hills.

Throughout the run, I'm enjoying the conversation, especially with some of the folks whom I hadn't run with for a while. Connie, Jeannine and Ladd are the same as ever, and of course the conversation quickly heads down into the gutter. I suppose I'm partly responsible, but I would never admit it.

We're doing our share of slipping and sliding on the partially snow-covered roads. Ladd says that he would rather run on trails, but I point out that when snow covers roads like this, they're just like trails.

Rick and Caitlin are long gone. Debbie, Alan and Connie pull away on or just before Effie. The rest of us more or less stick together, gathering at the top of Effie to complete the last miles as a group. I am very pleasantly surprised that I've been able to keep up with all these great runners today.

We turn onto Kellogg Road. It has more snow than ledge, and of course it's still coming down. We talk about how some will be heading out for a second loop. I am jealous; it's been quite a while since I've been able to manage that much running. These cold, snowy nine would be plenty for me today.

As we finish up, John Pavlik appears in the parking lot, ready to run with the second loopers. this time the direction would be counter-clockwise. What a bunch of rebels. I start out with them, but I don't go too far before turning back.

Another Hickley Sunday run in the books. Nothing special about this one, but then they're all special in some ways. I am so glad I stuck with this one.