Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Is The Kid Narcisstic? Nah - He's Too Important for That

Astute readers will notice that some of the posts in this blog involve The Kid referring to himself in Third Person prose, like he does in this recent post. This is sometimes taken as a sign of narcissism. But it's not always bad news; sometimes it's a good thing.

In any event, the kid is not a Narcissist. Really.

The Kid is Fine.. Really.

The Kid announces that he needs to stop into the porta-potty that's conveniently located half-way through the famous Hinckley 9-mile loop. "Don't wait for me," he says, not for the first time on this particular run. His running friends didn't listen the other times; contrary to his request, they waited for him at the top of Bellus Road hill, and also at the top of County Line Road hill. This time he really means it.

They don't wait this time, but they do drop the, "Are you okay?" question. And that's not for the first time either. "I'm fine," the Kid tells them. And that's not for the first time either.

The Kid is getting over a cold, and he's been coughing up gunk at times during this run. He doesn't think he's relapsing, but one never knows. He sounds worse than he feels.

Yesterday's long run in Medina saw more coughing, more, "Are you okay?" questions, and more "I'm fine" answers. But that one was 20 plus miles, at a pace much, much faster than the Kid is used to. Of course he was going to cough. Today, he's merely still recovering.

So for the last time, the Kid is fine.. Really.

Sunday, January 24, 2016


Today was the day the Hinckley 9-mile loop course record, originally co-held by yours truly, would fall. A group of fast kids planned to run at 8:00 AM with the goal to take that record down. But first some of us early-birds had to get their 6:00 AM Sunday morning constitutional in.

Speaking of constitutionals, there's the matter of the portable toilet in the Hinckley Spillway parking lot. We all wear plenty of reflective material as well as bright flashing lights of all colors. The better to see and be seen by drivers whilst running on the roads around the park. Some of the lighting has just about gotten out of hand however. One person wears flashing lights that are so bright they're nearly blinding. I wondered if it takes a small portable nuclear power plant to supply the electricity. When said runner entered the porta-potty, from the outside was so well lit, it looked like a porta-party!


And yes, the record did indeed fall. Several runners made it under the old 1:07 mark, with Renee Harden turning in the fastest time of 1:02.

I can only rest assured that my other record, the number of times this loop has been run, is pretty safe at the moment. I believe it's somewhere between 170 and 200. I could check, but I won't just now.

The early birds along with the fast bunch

Sunday, January 17, 2016

He Tasks Me

I recently watched Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan again for the first time. I had forgotten how good that movie is. Considering all the Trek flicks, it's certainly the best of the bunch. There are at least two quintessential Star Trekky and quite memorable lines. One occurs when Khan cunningly traps Kirk in the center of a planet. Kirk tries desperately to find a way out, telling Khan that he will have to come and get him. But Khan answers, "I've done far worse than kill you. I've hurt you. And I wish to go on... hurting you. I shall leave you as you left me, as you left her. Marooned for all eternity, in the center of a dead planet... buried alive. Buried alive." As a result,  all Kirk can do is yell, at the top of his lungs, KHAN!. The other memorable line occurs as Khan is thinking out loud about how Kirk Tasks him. Please do click at least that last link. I'll wait...

Okay, welcome back. Now of course you're wondering, "Who tasks you, Dan?" Well that's easy.  It's my running coach, Sven. Sven, by the way, is invisible.

It seems as though Sven's been tasking me more lately. Said tasking has involved 60-mile weeks through the thick and thin of January in Northeast Ohio. It's involved slogging through snow like I did for several runs last week, and trying to keep up with the fast kids today. It's even involved staying off the treadmill and getting outside as much as humanly possible in January in Northeast Ohio.

On Thursday, Sven had me run 10 miles in the park through a couple inches of new fallen snow. It actually took me two hours to accomplish that feat, and it was tough. Yet I enjoyed that winter wonderland run as much as any I've done in a long time. I followed that up with 13 from home in much milder weather on Friday.

It was today, Sunday, that Sven tasked me the most. At least the most in the last couple weeks. He had me show up at Hinckley to run with the fast kids: Frank Dwyer, Caitlin Oblander and Debbie Scheel. Frank seemed well-rested as usual, but recovering run-aholic Caitlin and super-mileage specialist Debbie ran well despite other recent running. Recent running, that is, of the fast variety.

It was a good thing that they all took it easy on me. They politely waited at the top of Effie and the other Hinckley Hills, and didn't even complain when I launched my usual silly stories. Those were fewer this time around however, because I was pretty anaerobic today.

All in all, it wasn't a bad day: I did a 3-mile lake loop, the usual 9, then another lake loop and a couple more with Debbie.

I think Sven is happy with me... For now.
After the run with the other kids, another bunch showed up, and I managed to photo-bomb their picture. Jeanne Ineman photo

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Weather Wimp

It's about that time of year: when I post something about how I hate running in awful weather, but how I also hate running on treadmills. You might say I have a hate-hate relationship with the whole lot. The only thing worse than running in bad weather or running on the mill is not running at all. Maybe it's actually a hate-hate-hate thing.

This El NiƱo winter has really left me with little room to complain. Until now.. -> November and December were both significantly milder than normal. It's just too bad that January didn't get the memo. Lately things have been sorta normal. And sorta normal in these parts is sorta bad this time of year. A brief rundown of the last few days will illustrate:

Saturday: Cold rain. I hate cold rain. But you knew that. I probably would've run on the mill had I not made plans to meet Debbie Scheel and Michelle Wolff for a run in Medina. Guess what? Once we got moving, it wasn't so awful.

Sunday: Cold rain. I hate cold rain. I thought about meeting a group in Medina again, but was this close (picture me squinting, with my thumb and forefinger a half-inch apart) to getting on the mill. Instead, I thought to just try to do a brief trial type run outside, figuring that I'd come right back and finish on the mill after a couple cold, wet, miserable miles. But then something amazing happened. I stayed out and completed my twelve-ish miles in the elements without having to step on the old mill. Just after I finished, the rain changed to snow and it got much colder.

Monday: Extremely cold wind chills and plenty of blowing and drifting snow. And despite all that, I got out for a short run. It wasn't too fast and it wasn't too far, but it was out.

Tuesday: Still cold, but not so extreme. Now, however, we have a lot more snow. And despite all that, I got out for yet another run. I had planned to get ten or so miles in today, but as slow as I was moving, I only had time for five and a half.

Today: More cold; more snow. Okay, enough is enough. After five challenging outdoor days in a row, I stayed on the mill.

The thing is, I never regret an outdoor run. But the mill days have me lamenting not being out. Like I'm doing now.

The weather forecast for tomorrow sounds no better. I'd better make plans for another day on the old mill.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

The Resolutionists

Sounds like members of some religious sect, doesn't it? They may or may not be religious in the classical sense, but their main purpose is to make the fitness center more crowded than usual in early January of every year.

As I do with the more gung-ho members of any religion, I try my best to avoid the Resolutionists as much as I can. The best bet is to get in and out of the fitness center, including the locker room, as fast as possible.

Today was a little problematic, however. Other than a couple rare exceptions, I've managed to run outside almost every day during the fall, and so far this winter. Blame that on El Nino - the weather has been very unseasonably mild. But this morning I awoke to 12F temperatures, and decided to be a treadmill wimp.

Milling around, in turn, caused me to have closer than desired encounters with my Resolutionist friends. Every mill was in use. I was able to get one early, so I could stay there and get my 11.25 miles in.

How did I do, you ask? Bleh. Faster than average, but outside, even with the cold, would've been more enjoyable. And I would've been farther away from that religious sect.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Landis Loonies Marathon

Dead last. I don't think I've ever finished dead last in a race, but here I was with two miles to go in the Landis Loonies Marathon, with, as far as I knew, no one behind me. There had been a few, but they had dropped out.

And then something wonderful happened. I saw a runner ahead of me, and he was doing the marathon shuffle in between walking breaks. I could catch him!

This was the sixth edition of the Landis Loonies Marathon, and I'd run the first one in 2011. The uncle/nephew team of Kevin and Keith Landis do a wonderful job of putting this thing on in the north central town of New London Ohio. It takes place on New Years Day each year, and it's pretty typical to have only a small number of finishers. This year there had been 12 starters.

I knew Kevin, Keith and Michael Kazar, but none of the other guys. I went in thinking there was an ever so slight possibility that I might even win the thing. Those thoughts went into the toilet 30 seconds after the start, as just about everyone took off faster than I could manage, and we had 26 miles to go!

The starters                                                               Keith Landis Photo

The course is four 6.5 mile loops around New London. The seasonably cool temperature was not a problem. The strong southwest wind was. Oh, and then there was the New Years Day morning thing. I'd been out the night before, and although it wasn't overly late, I still ate much too late for me, and of course too much as well. Pit stops were just another problem to deal with during the run.

My secondary goal (assuming that someone faster than me actually showed up, which of course they did) was to finish under four hours. That should be easy: just keep the mile splits around nine minutes, and run each loop in an hour or less. Yeah, easy.

Scratch goal number two as well. The loops were nearly all just over an hour, and I'd started the last one at something like 3:07 - for the first 19.7 miles. Blame it on the wind and the pit stops. And old age, and being fat, bald and ugly.

I caught up with Frank Cepero with about a mile to go. We introduced ourselves and talked a bit, including the concept of being (tied for, now) in last place. We did indeed tie, coming back into the Gas Depot finish line in 4:08. There was a huge throng of spectators: Kevin, Keith and Joshua Rakosky, who had won.

Turned out that everyone else had dropped; it was only the three of us. So yes, I was tied for last (there;s a first for everything). But I was also tied for second. Gotta love these small races.


Most years I publish an end of year post that's a look back at the previous year's running accomplishments, achievements and milestones. I often entitle these posts with the total number of miles for that year, because that number, to some extent, does tell a story.

But this year, the real story was my extremely slow pace. 10:05 is so much slower than previous years that it's... well, I can't think of the words to go there right now. But they're not good ones. I should add that that slow pace is at least partly because of my Achilles Tendonitis injury. But old age is a factor as well.

The miles? 2806.77: not too awful, compared to other years. Only the pace was awful. I'm hoping for better things in 2016.

Here's where I'm at with all my documented miles over the years:

Year Miles Pace
1978 1224
1979 641.5
1980 0
1981 1221.5
1982 1061.5
1983 1178.5
1984 1110
1985 1128
1986 1401
1987 169
1988 2434
1989 2715.4
1990 2156.7
1991 2450
1992 2888
1993 2715
1994 2520.4
1995 2958 7.9
1996 2780 7.73
1997 3000 7.89
1998 2892 7.72
1999 2780 7.69
2000 3238 7.9
2001 3169 8.22
2002 3356 7.97
2003 3390 7.96
2004 3260 8.19
2005 3263 8.15
2006 3296 7.98
2007 3295 8.24
2008 3200 8.2
2009 3108 8.7
2010 3465 8.31
2011 3676 8.53
2012 3188 8.91
2013 2816
2014 2074 9.16
2015 2806.77 10:05
TOTAL: 92025.27

Saturday, December 26, 2015

High on Running

A friend who happens to be a non-runner asked me what the runner's high is really like. This caused me to do something quite unusual: stop and think.

My gut reaction was to retort with some sort of smart-ass remark, since that's how I respond to most serious inquiries about running. But something stopped me this time: I didn't have a good real answer to reply with on the heels of the smartie one.

I answered, "you just feel real good." And then, realizing that that wasn't very satisfying, went on to say that it's caused by endorphins being released into your bloodstream, affecting your brain. "Kind of like heroin," I said half-jokingly, even though it's true.

I went on to say that running provides a general sense of well-being, and that I always feel better right after a run than before. But the times when I've felt truly great - enough to notice and contemplate - have been truly rare. They've definitely happened, but not often at all.

In order to add some research to back up my explanation about simple feelings of well-being as well as occasional euphoria, I found this Runners World Article that explains things quite well. And this one from Scientific American also provides some good information.

All I can add is that it seems to occur in the late stages of a long, hard effort, and yet in my case, it's rare and always seems to happen unexpectedly. But as with some of my best runs - and I'm sure this is related - those rare occurrences are so wonderful that any possibility of more keeps me coming back and trying even harder.

No, *You* Are

This is a bit of a postscript to my post, To the Nines, Again. It was only a couple days after the post, and I met Debbie Scheel for an early morning run in the cold rain. She wanted to run ten miles in order to satisfy some mileage goal she has for the year.

I didn't want to get out of the car. The rain was coming down hard, and it was 50 degrees. But that's the good thing about having training partners: they get you out the door on days where it would be way to easy to stay inside.

As always, once we got moving, the rain didn't bother us (hardly) at all. But here's what did:

We were arriving back to our cars with our Garmins informing us that we'd run 9.77 (hers) or 9.83 (mine) miles. Debbie just ***assumed*** that I - or any rational runner - would run another quarter-mile in the Wal-Mart parking lot in order for their Garmin to register a number in the double digits.

But I didn't; I stopped and just watched her run that extra little bit. Just before, we'd been discussing who was the most obsessive-compulsive / anal-retentive / just plain crazy, and she dared me to quit. So quit I did.

"Isn't this going to bother you for the rest of the day?" she asked. "Nope. I'll be just fine," I answered. "Well it'll bother me!" she said.