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


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.

Monday, November 28, 2016

BW50K - 2016 Edition

It's necessary to mention the year, since I've done this one before. Actually, I've completed all six previous ones. Going into today's Buckeye Woods 50K, with my injury, lack of training, etc., etc., I knew that this one would be more of a challenge than most of the others.

About those others, here are the previous results:

2010: 4:46
2011: 4:50
2012: 4:57
2013: 4:45
2014: 5:59
2015: 5:17
2016: ?:??

The weather was absolutely wonderful for running. The temperature ranged from about 37F at the start, to around 47F by the time I finished. It was partly sunny, and there were light breezes. Just about perfect. So much so, that I nearly recommended cancelling the event. We sure have had a variety of weather for this run.
Finishing the first 5-mile segment with Keith Johnston    John McCarroll photo

Race Director Suzanne Sharp did her usual great job, and our club volunteers was wonderful as always. This year Alyssa Osborne also created hand-made, unique awards.

Oh, yes: my race. I done ok. I figured that a steady pace would be nice. Finishing under my previous Personal Worst on this course of 5:59 would be nice. But mostly, I just wanted to finish, period.

After running the first loop with my friend Keith Johnston, I mostly ran alone. I only saw others coming and going, and of course at the shelter after each 5-mile loop. It's always so nice to see all my friends out there having as much fun as I am. The injury didn't slow me much. The lack of training due to the injury did. The Achilles only really hurt bad for the last mile or so. After all that solo running, which happened to get slower as I went on, I was happy to finish in 5:49. My splits and other stats:
Later in the race. I changed because it got warmer    John McCarroll photo

For the numerically inclined, here are my splits. Notice the positive trend.
Also for the numerically inclined, here are some overall stats.

The usual fast folks beat me, but a bunch - there were actually a whole lot of starters - dropped down to 25K. I finished fourth overall; the third of my gender. And now I'm hobbling around as expected after a race like this.

Unique finisher award, handmade by Alyssa Osborne

Thursday, November 24, 2016

It's About Time

Only recently, as in the past week or so, have I finally been feeling a little better. Just a little, mind you. This, after six months of painful running. In case you needed reminding, those six months began at mile 45 (out of 50) at the Rock the Ridge race this last spring. I'm not sure what good any fore-knowledge might have done for me at the time. Perhaps I would have started to walk at mile 44 out of thoughts of prevention, rather than at mile 45 out of necessity.

Yes, six months of pain and suffering, in which I believe I only managed to do one other race of any significance, NC24. And after that one, it's really been downhill. Several weeks of only four to eight miles, along with some swimming, followed by a very gradual re-build of my mileage base; a mileage base that is still roughly half of what it had been earlier in the year.

Even though said pain hasn't completely subsided, progress continues, albeit in fits and starts. Some examples include 15 miles at Buckeye Woods a week and a half ago, a 20 this past weekend, a relatively fast treadmill run yesterday and an unexpectedly high-mileage 13 today at Hinckley with friends.

Thanksgiving is a good time to reflect and remind myself to be thankful for the ability to run at all. Okay, I'm reminded. But further, I'm happy to say that the pain isn't quite so awful in these recent days. Therefore, you know what time it is, don't you?

It's Time for Dan to do Something Really Stupid.

What would that be you ask (and you're asking an awful lot of questions today)? That would be this coming Sunday's Buckeye Woods 50K.

Why BW50K, you ask (and there you go again)? Because I've done all previous six BW50Ks. Because I started it all those years ago. Because it's a great event put on by our club. Because it's trails, yet, other than the distance, not un-doable (an issue for me). Because it's free. Because it's there.

See you on the other side of stupid.

Monday, November 07, 2016

No Better; Know Better

My Achilles is no better. But I'm running more again. And hurting more again. Yes, I should know better.

But I'm in a quandary. The Buckeye Woods 50K is looming: it's the Sunday after Thanksgiving. And I need to decide, a) Whether to try for 50K, b) Whether to try for 25K, or c) Whether to chuck the whole dang thing.

Here are the ... wait for it ... FACTORS TO CONSIDER ...

Factor 1 -> I started BW50K. I no longer direct it, but I still feel that to some extent, it's kinda/sorta my race. And it's fun.
Factor 2 -> I've run the 50K all six previous times. It's getting to be kinda/sorta what you'd call a streak.
Factor 3 -> During Sunday's course training run, whilst attempting to complete three 5-mile loops, I could only manage 2 1/2. This was due partially to my woefully undertrained status, and partially due to the Achilles pain. Achilles pain that permeates every waking moment activity, but gets worse as runs go on
Factor 4 -> I could just do 25K. That is, actually, a valid option. And I think I can run that far
Factor 5 -> Since my month long hiatus from running didn't appear to work, maybe I need to do it again, until I get it right?
Factor 6 -> That's enough Factors. The Decision 2016 Results will be posted here.