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.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Running in French Polynesia

01-05-15 10m

'The ship leaves at 5, please be back by 4:30,' says the bleary-eyed security guard as I take off running away from the ship in downtown Papeete. Papeete is the capital of French Polynesia, and is located on the island of Tahiti. It's a sleepy little town, especially this early on a Monday morn.

I only have time for about two miles of dodging occasional cars and wild dogs, as well as trying not to trip on the dark, uneven sidewalk, before it's time to get back aboard.

Now it's time to get some relatively serious miles in. The fitness center won't open till six, so I hit the track. The deck is wet from rain and I have to be careful not to slip. Ten laps per mile. Can I hold my sanity together enough to do eighty?

I can and I do. Most of the laps take me about a minute each, but I do pick it up as the run progresses. I dodge around the guy swabbing the deck and the occasional walker. Eventually another couple runners come out, but by then I'm about done. Well done.

01-07-15 10m

Last time it was eighty laps; how hard could one hundred be? The answer may surprise you. Pretty hard. With only ten to go, I am beginning to struggle a bit. What to do? Run faster, of course. I let loose on a scintillating 8:20 miles, my fastest yet. It's still over nine minutes per mile for the entire ten mile run, but all's well that ends well. And pulling into Bora Bora lagoon and anchoring just as I finish doesn't hurt either.

01-09-15 5m

Having a cold here on vacation isn't the greatest situation. But I suppose it beats having a cold at home. I do feel fairly miserable this morning, however, so I start out ultra-slow. Guess what happens then? I taper off. Only five miles today.

01-12-15 5m

That cold turned out to be a sinus infection. It's bad news. Today I did only five, but they were better than the five I did the other day.

01-13-15 10m

Still have the infection, but this wasn't quite so bad today. I begin my run pondering the stars and dancing around the guys swabbing the deck. Soon it begins to get light, and I am treated to a spectacular sunrise. I also notice that the ship, moving towards Rangiroa, is nearly surrounded by rain.

Of course there are rainbows. The deck swabbers are gone, and a few runners and walkers have now joined me; I am no longer alone.

I also pick up my pace a little. Now I am at and sometimes below nine-minutes per mile. I finish strong - infection be damned.

Who says running around in circles - even 100 of them - is boring? Even 380 total for the trip.

To read about the trip itself, including a link to the photos, click here.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Well Here's Mine

It seems that everyone's posting year end summaries, so here's mine. It sounds like one of my race reports: I did okay for a while, and then the wheels fell off. Even my 'okay' running wasn't as good as last year's, but it sure beat not running at all for two months in the summer. I'm doing just slightly better these days. Finishing BW50K was an accomplishment.

2,074 miles for the year (the least since 1987). Total time for this madness is 13 days, 4 hours, so my average pace per mile is about 9:10 (the worst since forever). But the best part about the year is doing this along with all my running friends, new and old. MCRR is the best. And 2015 can only get better, right?

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Twelve Good Miles

When discussing our anniversary, and/or how long we've been married, I'll often say, "we've had ten good years of marriage." And then I'll add that we were actually married in 1975. The math speaks for itself. I did run twelve good miles today, but it's too bad that the length of the run was eighteen.

The three-forty-five A.M. alarm came early. After figuring out where I was and who I was, I also remembered that it was Christmas Day. I also remembered that I was about to do a long run, since that's what I do on Christmas; at least some Christmases. I've actually had some epic 20 to 25 milers in the cold and snow on Christmases past. I'd be happy if I could get 18 on today's relatively mild (about 37F with very light rain/snow and wind) Christmas Day.

Why so early? Well, it takes time to run that far, especially at my slow pace. And I had committed to meeting women in dark places once again. This had been the topic of conversation at last night's Christmas Eve Party. Today it would be Brunswick Lake at 6 A.M.

The lake is about two and a half miles from my house, but I take a four-mile route in order to avoid running on route 303. After a slow start, I gradually picked up my pace, getting to the lake in time to do one loop before Lisa Eliason and Debbie Scheel showed up.

The path around the lake is exactly one mile long. We did five loops together, and then Lisa had to leave. Debbie stayed to do two more, and those were the fastest of the bunch. I would then do two additional lake loops before heading back home.

But those two were much slower. And the final four were slower still. My Achilles was hurting badly, but I'm not entirely sure whether that's the cause or the effect of the slow pace. I hadn't felt it at all for the first twelve.

I'm going to have to do something about this pain thing.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Zero Dark Thirty, the Run

It's necessary to clarify the post title. We're not talking about Zero Dark Thirty, the Book, or Zero Dark Thirty, the Movie. No, this is Zero Dark Thirty, the Run. If I understand the term correctly, a Zero Dark Thirty Run is any run that occurs extra-early in the morning. Brian Rosenstock uses the name for the runs he organizes in Brunswick on Tuesday and Thursday early mornings.

Did I say early? How does 4:30 A.M. sound? I joined the group for the first time today, sort of on a whim. Whilst preparing to run from home (which is rare these days since I usually run when I get to work), I found myself exchanging Facebook messages with Patti Tomisello at about 4:10. She informed me that she was about to meet up with the group when I wondered what in the world she was doing up. I wound up running towards Brunswick Lake and almost literally bumping into the Zero Dark group as they came towards me in the early morning darkness.

Today's group consisted of Brian, Patti, Caitlin Oblander and about six women that I didn't know. We moved at a brisk pace up and down route 303, and then did several Brunsick Lake loops at an even brisker pace.

For my part, it was good to be able to keep up, especially after those last couple days of stinker-type runs. Once again, taking a vitamin I pill the night before helped.