Saturday, February 18, 2017

Free the Hinckley Nine!

This is another one that required an explanation. I will get to that.

The usual gang, Debbie, Theresa, Frank, Dennis and I, complete our 9-mile circuit. There are other runners, some of whom I know, hanging around in the parking lot. We chat a bit. Suddenly dozens of others come running into the lot; they had just gone around the lake. Presently, more running for everyone but a few of us, would ensue.

My thinking, such as it is, is this: wow - lots of runners. Cool!

Why do I think that a lot of runners, as opposed to just a few, is such a cool thing? I have no idea. I'm actually happy to run with anyone, be that a few or a lot. I've been posting these Hinckley runs as Facebook events lately, but it's nearly always the same usual suspects that make it each week. I'm okay with that, since this bunch I go with are fine people. But bigger crowds are fun as well.

Tomorrow's run should involve a bigger crowd. It's the monthly Medina Half-Marathon training run, and the weather is looking fantastic. In fact it was today as well. One of today's runner's said, "it doesn't get any better than this," and I agree wholeheartedly.

The Hinckley Nine? Well, that's the name of our usual road loop. But it also sounded to me like some kind of notorious group of people. Maybe outlaws or terrorists. Or maybe people who are more innocent, but are being unjustly persecuted. In the event that you can think about the name in terms of people instead of miles, freeing them would seem like a good idea.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

The Old Bull and the Young Bull

When you have to announce that a joke is completed, that’s a sign that either it’s not funny, or you didn’t tell it right. I think it was the latter this morning, as my running-rattled brain wasn’t firing on all cylinders. Theresa Stephens Wright, Debbie Scheel, Dennis (don’t know his last name) and Frank Dwyer had actually asked for a story. Here it is, (told perhaps a little better).

An old bull and a young bull were in a pasture, looking down at a lower pasture filled with comely heifers. The young bull says, ‘Hey old bull, the farmer left the gate between the pastures open! Let’s run down to those cows and smooch a couple of them!’ The old bull says, ‘Nope. Let’s saunter on down there slowly, and smooch the whole lot of them.’ Author’s note: verbs other than ‘smooch’ may be substituted here.

Running friends from a couple generations ago used to have some fun with that one. I'm thinking of old bull Brian Peacock, and young bull Geoff Chase. Being between those two in age, I'm not sure what role I took on. Maybe one of the heifers?

I would also like to say that my Achilles pain is subsiding a little, and that has enabled me to pick up the pace and mileage ever so slightly. I would also like to say that I am very rich and famous, and that I get younger each year.

The pain had actually been a little more manageable, and I really have been running a little faster and farther... until today's sixteen-miler. Now it's back to normal. And that's not so good. You would think that I ought to ease up a little. You know: take it easy.

But no. I am committed. Or need to be. At the Medina County Road Runners Club Banquet a couple weeks ago, I won a free entry to the Medina Half Marathon, and registered immediately. Last week I learned that a friend wanted to sell her entry to the Canton Hall of Fame Marathon - for only $20! I jumped at it and got myself registered for that one as well. Then, with all that money I saved, I splurged and paid a high price ($105 plus fee) to register for the fortieth Cleveland Marathon. Yeah, fortieth. I had run the first, in 1978.

So I guess I can't stop now. You would think an old bull would know better.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

One a Day

It's been three weeks now, and I still shudder. So much fear and trepidation. It went something like this.

We got back last Friday, and it's now Tuesday morning. That's getting back from 17 days on that cruise ship. 17 days of gourmet cuisine, fixed the way you like it, for breakfast, lunch and dinner, not to mention snacks, every day. For 17 days. Okay, okay. I guess I said that already. And don't even get me started about the unlimited wine with meals package that we had. Debbie and I joked about how we were putting on a pound a day. Yeah, I managed to run a little on the ship, but nearly enough to compensate for those 17 days.

Now it's time. I don't want to do it, but I really can't put it off any longer. As I step on the scale I think about how I've been pretty good. It's been fairly normal eating over the weekend, followed by my usual partial-fast yesterday. Furthermore, I got some running done over the weekend. It was tough to go out against the cold, but I managed, with the help of some friends. Sure, I can still tell that I'm a couple pounds north of where I ought to be, but surely not too much awfully so.

It is too much awfully so, The scale nearly busts, and then tells me that I weigh 172 pounds. That's around 12 more than three and a half weeks ago. Not quite one a day... but then I think that at some point over the weekend or previous week, I likely did tip the scale at 177. I can hardly believe my eyes. I don't think I've weighed this much since my high school football days.

Nowadays, I'm only beginning to get over this. One may have hoped that if one can put on a pound a day, one could also take off a pound a day, right? No, it doesn't appear to work that way. Oh, the weight is coming down. But only gradually. Very gradually.

Here's the silver lining. I've been running okay (once again, friends help), and my AT pain doesn't seem so bad these days.

Thus it's not all gloom and doom. There are some bright spots on the horizon. Heck, we even have a brand-new, shiny president. What could go wrong?

Friday, January 06, 2017

Running and Cruise Ships Don't Mix

You have exactly three options:
1) Go ashore and run
2) Run on one of the Fitness Center's treadmills
3) Run around the perimeter of the ship

Numero uno is the preferred choice. But it's also the most problematic. It usually involves taking a tender boat or bus from the ship to a place that's runnable. And with only a matter of hours at most ports, it isn't possible most of the time because we're usually going somewhere or doing something for that brief time. This leaves only the ports that we visit overnight (so I can get out and back early). And the boat / bus thing is undesirable as well.

Treadmills generally fill me with dread. But they do provide a good workout. The biggest problem - and it truly is a big one - is that the fitness center doesn't open until 6:00 AM. Don't they know that the day is half-way gone by then?

And then there's the gerbil thing. Ten laps per mile. Round and round. Last time we were on this ship (it's the Oceana Marina), I did a couple ten-milers. That's 100 laps if you're keeping count. And yes, count them I did.

...

This particular Marina cruise is traveling around the southern part of South America. We start in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and finish in Valparaiso, Chile. Buenos Aires is a huge and wonderful city, but the port area where we're parked is awful. It's all big-time stacks of shipping containers being loaded, unloaded and moved around. It's impossible to simply get off the boat and run; one must take a bus about a mile through the maze of shipping stuff, over to the terminal.

I am quite alone as I wait on the bus for it to leave at 5:30 AM. I wait for what seems like a long time, but eventually I make it to the terminal, and head out for my run.

It's not entirely pleasant. Bad sidewalks, gobs of traffic, and eventually - as I get to the bus station - tons and tons of people. I only scoot around for a few not-so-great miles, before going back to the terminal, bus and ship. At least I got out. That won't happen very much, if at all, for the next couple weeks.

...

A couple days later, we're moving towards port. The sun is just rising, and yet it's still early. The it occurs to me: it's summer solstice. Since we are moving, I try to run a ten-lap mile with the GPS going. I learn that I ran a 3:30 mile! I run a few more miles before getting booted off. The winds are too strong, I'm told as they close the entire area.

I just give a dumb, disbelieving look. Yeah, the winds are strong, but they always are when the ship is moving. Luckily the fitness center has just now opened. I do a couple more on the mill.

...

A few days after that - Christmas Day - I am once again flummoxed. The closing of the upper ten-laps-per-mile jogging track due to strong winds seems random to me. Yes, sometimes they close it when the winds are indeed strong, but other times they close it when they are relatively calm. One day it was open, and I actually, really and truly, totally on my own, determined that it was unsafe to run up there, and terminated the run myself. Debbie was proud of me.

This day doesn't seem bad at all however, and yet the track is closed. How in the world am I going to get today's planned double-digit run in? Wait two hours until the Fitness Center opened at 6? That is not going to happen.

I run one deck lower, in the central part of the ship, above but around the pool. I figure that this course is 14 laps per mile. Yes, that's a lot. But sure enough, I do manage to count out 140 slow laps. By the time I am done, the Fitness Center is open, so I even run a few more miles on the mill.

...

More days pass, and I get an unexpected gift from heaven: we arrive in Ushuaia, Argentina at 3:00 AM, and this means I have time to run onshore before today's planned hike. Yes onshore. As in, on land, off the ship!

Trail Running in Ushuaia, Argentina
It's 5:00 AM, and I decide to head toward Glacier Martial. It's supposed to be up in the hills above town. Town, actually the southernmost city on the planet, is on the island of Tierra del Fuego, and at the base of the mountains. Finding a glacier, or at least the route up to one (I knew it was a ways) shouldn't be all that difficult.

So of course it is. I am chased by wild dogs several times, go up and back down roads that head up the foothills, but peter out. Finally, four miles and about an hour of running and hiking and being mixed up later, I do manage to find the park-like area with trails leading to Glacier Martial.

I run a little bit on the trails, but now it's too late to keep going to see the glacier. I had better return to the ship. I do manage to admire the mountain scenery and view of the city and the bay. And I even manage to take a few photos, since I am carrying my pocket camera.

Getting back is much easier, since I now know where I'm at in relation to the ship. And down is often easier than up. I'm back in no time. Except now there's a hike to be done.

...

Days pass. I run more on the mill, and a little more on ship's jogging path. My Achilles Tendonitis is really hurting - probably the combination of extremely high weight being applied to an already injured body part. So I decide to try acupuncture.  For the first time.

This is a new experience for me. I am open-minded about it. And it is somewhat painful, as needles go into my opposite wrist, but also in a couple spots on the foot where the pain was (notice the past tense, since there is now new pain).

Unfortunately, it does absolutely no good, whatsoever. Except that it helped me forget the AT pain for a while - since the needle pain was there to replace it.

...

It's the 17th day of the trip, and we are due to disembark in a few hours. I am sure I've gained at least 17 pounds, in spite of a decent amount of running. Most has probably been on the mill, but today I run on the jogging track. I'd hoped to be able to run on land here in Valparaiso, but since it's necessary to get bussed to the cruise terminal to get out, there isn't time.

So around and around I go - 30 more times, just for fun.

Now that that's done, it will be homeward bound.

Ten Laps on the ship's "jogging track". It's funny
how Google maps doesn't understand that there's a ship there.

Lost, looking for the glacier in Ushuaia, Argentina. The lost part is the upper-right. Finally got
on the right track (left side of pic), but by then it was too late.

For more about this trip, see the Travel Blog Post.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

2441.51

Every January I typically post my mileage for the previous year. Here it is. Gotta work on that speed! Incidentally, the one statistic that didn't get caught was the number of steps. I like the number, so here it is: 3,989,922.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Wintry Mix

It's not even winter yet, and already things are becoming challenging. Here are a few random short stories about winter running of late.

Didn't Get Far
Before the car's wheels make it from the driveway to the street, the mist is freezing on the windshield. This doesn't bode well for the entire drive down to Medina. I am going to meet Debbie Scheel and Michelle Wolff for our Saturday morning run. I drive (carefully!) up 303 to just before 42, and then turn around. Although it doesn't seem impossibly slippery, the freezing on the windshield continues. I love running with friends, but it just doesn't make sense to risk one's life in order to do so. Running alone is not so preferable... except when it's safer.

When We Did Make it
A weekend ago, I do manage to meet up with Michelle and Debbie for a run. Although we don't get real far - we each have our own little injury/illness/being out of shape crosses to bear - it's wonderful to get together again. Been a while.

Milling Around
One of the most major hazards of winter running is ... wait for it ... having to do it on the mill. Why a hazard, you ask? Because if you're me, you push yourself way beyond the point of ridiculous. And that's what I do Thursday, for the second time this week. This time I try a tempo run; Tuesday it was 3/4 mile intervals. This run - 3 miles at 7:30 or better pace, sandwiched by warmup and cooldown miles - actually goes okay. But afterwards, I certainly do feel the effects.

The Letter 'C' Part 1
I generally don't like running in the hood. You can't get real far, and the streets are concrete, rather than asphalt. But those two problems are less important when the weather's bad. You don't want to get to far from home anyway. And if there's snow and ice, who cares about the hard concrete? When a couple two inches fall all of a sudden, I decide to stay close to home. I used to consider it a 'U' but (sideways) 'C' is better because it's earlier in the alphabet. If I go around the outside of the 'C', and then return on the inside of it, I've gone about 1.1 miles. Three loops this way, and two shorter ones that avoid the inside part half-circle part of the loop, make five miles. I do this in that inch and a half of new-fallen snow, and it's a beautiful thing; almost what you'd call magical. I enjoy this run more than any solo sauntering I've done in a long time.

The Letter 'C' Part 2
When I run a course multiple times, I get to enter it into the list of courses available for Garmin selection and association. Since this is my fourth time on the course this week (I ran it once earlier as well), I'll have to elevate this one. Yes, fourth of the week, and second of the day. It's getting tougher to get double-digit mile runs in lately, but this second five of the day will do it. There's snow and a little ice in the roads as I circle around. This is my solo run after not making the entire trip to Medina. My leg muscles are feeling the strain of those slight slips that go along with each footfall/step. But, all in all, it goes okay. Slow, and fairly exhausting, but okay.

Sweet Potatoes: Not just Not for Breakfast anymore
A good after-run breakfast... Cook some oatmeal in a separate bowl (I just microwave it with water and a little salt). While that's cooking, take a leftover baked sweet potato, some Vega protein powder, some almond milk, a little splenda and about a pound of cinnamon and blend together. Mix this with the oats, and you get... Sweet Potato Oatmeal Delight!


Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Battle of Wounded Knee: Guess Who Lost?

The very last thing I expected was a large hunk of metal laying completely across the sidewalk. I was running along in the dark, minding my own business, when I suddenly find myself falling hard onto the ground. Sure was nice of someone to put that thing there. It appears that I don't even need trails to fall; I can do it on sidewalks too.

Bandaids and antibiotic cream have been applied. I think I'll be okay.