Saturday, February 10, 2018

Doin' my Motor Good

Maybellene, why can't you be true?
Oh Maybellene, why can't you be true?
You done started doin' the things you used to do

As I was motorvatin' over the hill
I saw Maybellene in a Coupe de Ville
A Cadillac a-rollin' on the open road
Nothin' will outrun my V8 Ford
The Cadillac doin' about ninety-five
She's bumper to bumper, rollin' side by side

Maybellene, why can't you be true?
Oh Maybellene, why can't you be true?
You done started back doin' the things you used to do

The Cadillac pulled up to a hundred and four
The Ford got hot and wouldn't do no more
It then got cloudy and started to rain
I tooted my horn for the passin' lane
The rainwater blowin' all under my hood
I know that I was doin' my motor good

~Maybelline, by Chuck Berry

Them be some of my favorite lyrics, and I don't even know why; I just like them. But why, you ask, do they appear in your running blog, Mr. Dan? The reasons are many:

1) The pace of the song is good for running cadence. In fact, it was going through this head of mine during a run a couple days ago.
2) Several of the lines (think: motorvatin' over the hill) can be repurposed into some kind of running context.
3) I like to think that maybe by struggling through the snow and ice during these wintery runs, I really may be doin' my motor good.

Oh Maybellene, why can't you be true?
Oh Maybellene, why can't you be true?
You done started back doin' the things you used to do

The motor cooled down, the heat went down
And that's when I heard that highway sound
The Cadillac a-sittin' like a ton of lead
A hundred and ten half a mile ahead
The Cadillac lookin' like it's sittin' still
And I caught Mabellene at the top of the hill

Maybellene, why can't you be true?
Oh Maybellene, why can't you be true?
You done started back doin' the things you used to do

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Get Ready to Run

First, you wake up. It’s pretty tough to run if you haven’t done this, although it’s not entirely impossible. You like to get out of bed between 3:30 and 4:00 AM.

After about eight or nine stumbling steps from the bedroom into the kitchen, you turn on the coffee machine. You hope to heaven that you prepared it all the night before. You are aware that you could save the four minutes it takes to brew two large cups if you would set the timer on the machine to have it already brewed when you wake up. But said timer never seems to work correctly for you, and you’ve given up on it. It’s probably a user error.

While you are waiting for the brewing to occur, you check the weather in one, two, or all three of three ways: you check the weather app on the computer, you turn on the TV to watch the morning weather guy, even though you probably need to wait until 4:00 AM for this, or you look outside.

You think about what you will wear for your run while you are preparing your coffee. It’s black on fast days; it’s light with honey on non-fast days. You need it badly, so you drink it fast. When it’s light, it tastes pretty good. When it’s black, not so much. Doesn’t matter though; you’re not doing this for the taste.

While you’re drinking your coffee, you spend some more time on the computer or watching the early morning news. YOU SHOULD NEVER DO THESE THINGS! YOU SHOULD SIMPLY BEGIN GETTING READY TO GO OUT. You may also do some push-ups in front of the TV. Okay, this is a good thing.

Now, after the coffee has had its exact desired effect, it’s time to dress. You start with the undies. You know: the kind with the extra padding in the front. This is for safety reasons; any manly bulging is a side-effect. Depending on the temperature and wind chill, you may add extra pairs of these undies.

On to shorts or tights. 30 degrees Fahrenheit is about the dividing line, although the wind and precipitation are also factors. Much below 30, and it’s tights. At or above 30, and it’s shorts.

The jacket/shirt divide somewhere around 45 to 50 degrees. Once again, the wind and precipitation also factor in. If it is indeed jacket weather, a shirt will always go on underneath. If it’s really cold, make that two shirts. Some of your jackets are reflective, and at least two are bright neon/yellow. You have lots of jackets and shirts.

The weather also determines any hats and gloves you choose. You have lots, but none of the gloves seem all that great when it’s really cold out.

Now it’s time to light things up. The first thing to go on is the Noxgear vest/apparatus. It’s a complicated thingie that flashes in all sorts of colors. It fits all around your chest and back. You have to reach in back to turn it on and off and to make it flash or change color. The whole thing is a little ridiculous, and you still have mixed feelings about it. Attached to the front of the apparatus is a little reflective light that flashes red. You figure it adds just a wee bit more light to the thing. Then you put on the headlamp. It goes over the hat if you have one. It’s pretty bright, but only when the batteries are fresh, which they usually aren’t. Your final light is this blue flashing heel wrap-around thing that a friend got at Marc’s for ninety-nine cents. It’s supposed to fit around the back of the heel of the shoe, but you’ve lost it (and then went back to find it again) twice when it’s fallen off. You now wear it around your ankle above the top of the shoe, but still over the sock. That makes it too tight. Later during the run, You’ll often switch it to your wrist. But then that will hurt too.

You are almost ready. It’s time for the shoes. You’ve already selected a pair from the four or five active ones you have got going. But before you begin getting them on (and after the socks are in place), you put on your Road ID. It has your name and contact information, in case you are found in a ditch on the side of the road, and they want to know who you were when you were alive. The loving wife makes you do this. The problem is that the darn thing is nearly unusable. The clasp is too difficult to work with, so you often try to stretch it over your foot. This is difficult because it doesn’t stretch enough and sometimes breaks away at the clasp. You’ve also tried putting it over your hand and wearing it on your wrist, but you once nearly lost it by doing this. Note that the Road ID people were sympathetic and refunded your money when you complained. They didn’t want it back, so you still try to use it.

You are now 100% ready. You go out the garage man-door and start your GPS watch. You wait for it to find its satellites (only a few seconds) and begin to run.

How does that go, you ask? Not bad, but that’s a different story.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Big Difference

Last year, I went several weeks early on without registering for any races whatsoever. Then, at the Medina County Road Runners Banquet, I won an entry to the Medina Half Marathon. Then, I went ahead and also registered for the Cleveland Marathon and the Green Jewel 50K. And, as faithful readers know, I went on to run several other half-marathons, marathons and ultras throughout the year.

This year, there's a Big Difference. I went several weeks early on without registering for any races whatsoever. Then, at the Medina County Road Runners Banquet, I won an entry to the Medina Half Marathon. Then, ...

The question is, what comes after the then. Each and every year, I say my goal is to run faster. I am well aware that the best way to do this is decidedly not to run ultras, or even marathons. The best way to run faster 10Ks and half-marathons is to work on my speed, not worry so much about mileage, and finally to actually run more 10Ks and half-marathons.

Will I?

Saturday, January 06, 2018

You'll Freeze Your Lungs

You might. But not before other parts of your anatomy.

After a couple days where I spent too much time milling around, I just had to get outside for today's run. Too bad it was about five degrees shy of the plus-one degree temperature that I experienced New Year's Day. Yes, it was one below when I started; four below when I finished. The wind chill was also correspondingly lower, at minus twenty today.

The shuffle, hardly what you'd call running at any point, became slower and slower as the cold became colder and colder. It was time to quit. At least while most of my anatomy was still intact.

The part that I lost? My mind, of course.

Monday, January 01, 2018

8th Annual Landis Loonies Marathon Race Report

Just before the very cold start                                                Dave Foisy photo

First Loop

I’ve just climbed to the top of Mount New London for the ninth time, and I’m very much winded from the effort. Speaking of wind, it’s cold, and it’s hitting me hard in the face now that I’m heading down the backside. I’m running on what the locals call the Bypass, but the real name for the road is Biglow Parkway. Mount New London is my term for this not-so-huge hill, the only one on the course. I’ve run the Landis Loonies Marathon two times in the past, meaning I’ve climbed the hill eight times before today.

When people ask me where New London, Ohio is, I invariably answer, “Do you know where Norwalk, Ohio is?” They usually say yes, but regardless of the answer, I quickly follow up with, “Well, it’s nowhere near that.” It is, however, a nice little town in North-Central Ohio farm country. Kevin and Keith Landis put this race on each New Years Day, and they do a fine job of it. (Fun fact: they’re not really brothers, even though they’re fairly close in age. I believe Kevin is Keith’s uncle. I think they’re both teachers, with Keith’s base being New London High School.)

Kevin’s course instructions for the 6.5-mile cloverleaf-like loop were very clear: “When you’re heading away from town, and you feel you’re getting a bit too far away, turn. Then, after you curve around and begin coming back a little too close to town, turn. Keep doing this until you return back here to the gas station.”

Now, on my first time around for the 2018 race, I recall that it’s not so difficult to find my way. What is difficult is the three-degree temperature, the negative double-digit wind chill, and the snow and ice on the many of the roads. That said, I’m not feeling too awful, even on this, the windiest part of the course. I’ve dressed properly, so things are okay. So far.

Mount New London occurs about five miles into the loop. I can just barely see the six or so runners ahead of me. There’s a bunch behind as well. Why is it that I always find myself alone in the middle of these things?

Second Loop

I am turning into the road that takes us by the high school. It’s about half-way through the loop. It was difficult, but I’ve managed to catch a couple women. We run together, talking and telling stories for the remainder of the loop. Sure is nice to have some company.

This loop is just a little faster than the first one. Keeping them all under an hour would seem like a reasonable goal, and I’m managing so far. But I have a long way to go, and the conditions, they are challenging.

Third Loop

New London Recreational Park is pretty. It’s about two miles into the loop. Besides the snow everywhere, the trees are covered with a heavy frost, and they look positively magical. The falling snow is beautiful as well.

All of the runners ahead of me have dropped out. I am alone again, naturally. I guess that also means I’m in the lead. (Egads!) But I’ve slowed down some, and I’ve still got over ten miles to go. It’s a little difficult to tell much about my speed; I’m actually trying to avoid looking at my watch. Just go with it and enjoy, I tell myself.

As much as I am truly enjoying this run, and as much as I would relish actually winning a marathon, I am nonetheless tempted to cut the course. There are plenty of opportunities, and surely no one would know. Except me. I grudgingly stay on the straight and narrow.

Fourth Loop

Mount New London and the Bypass were more challenging than ever. The temperature has crept up a few degrees, but the wind has also increased. I am just barely running as I make the turn onto Main Street.

Between the third and fourth loops, I’d asked Kevin how many were still out there. His answer, 121, didn’t quite make sense to me. That is until it occurred to me that the conversation I’d walked into had been about farming, with Keith discussing the dairy cows on the family farm. After some clarification, we laughed, and then Kevin told me that Michael Kazar, Angela Demchuk and I were the only ones left. Those other two are accomplished ultrarunners, so I got moving again the best I could.

But my best was now pretty darn slow. The cold and not-so-great footing had taken its toll. I had stopped at the top of Mount New London to look back for Michael or Angela. No sign of them. It thus appears that even though I’m only slogging along, I may actually truly win this thing.

You know the way adoring fans line the roads as the winner comes to the finish of big-city marathons like Boston? Well, there was nothing of the sort in New London. I went inside the gas station to get congratulated by Kevin and Felicia Fago.

What was my time, you ask? Do I have to tell you? Okay, okay. I think it’s a personal worst, at least for roads: 4:25.

But it’s nice to win one. I suppose that if you hang around long enough, and run enough smallish races, and if your nemesis, Frank Dwyer doesn’t show up, good things may occasionally happen. It’s a good way to begin 2018.
In the gas station after finishing     Felicia Fago Photo

Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 By the Numbers

Weekly Running Totals

Yes, there were some numbers in 2017. Not all of them were completely bad. Some, on the other had, were pretty darn shameful. But like them or not, they did occur, and that's just the way it is.

I am, and I always have been, a numbers guy. I analyze, count, measure and estimate stuff for a living, and I consider myself lucky to be doing these things that I enjoy. It's not too much of a stretch to understand how I might apply my enumeration habit to my running habit.

What are those numbers, you ask? I'm happy you inquired.

Totals for the year, from my Garmin data

2906.82: Arguably the most important number; it's the mileage total for the year, and the most since 2012.
5.7 (or 10.53): My average speed in miles per hour, or, for the 10.53, my average pace per mile. This is in the not so good category. Just when I thought I couldn't get any slower since last year's numbers, this happens.
4,658,226: The number of running steps I took for the year. I don't know whether this is good or bad, but I like big numbers, so there it is.
2: The number of marathons I ran in 2017. I wasn't too unhappy with the times, especially Erie at 3:43.
4: The number of ultramarathons I ran in 2017. These were so-so. The two 50Ks were 5:14 and 5:11, and Mugrage Park was 33.71 miles, and I ran the Burning River 50-mile race in 11 hours, 10 minutes. Also, I finished second overall at two of them.
1: Age Group Win. I actually thought I'd get more, considering some decent performances at a couple half-marathons, as well as the marathons mentioned above. This win was at Burning River, where I was happy to just finish alive.
97,345.4: My life-to-date mileage total. Hoping for that sixth digit. Think I'll make it?

Life to date miles, year by year

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Sweet Misery. Except it wasn't so sweet.

You've heard this here before. Some of my most joyous runs occur when the weather is at its worst. The converse/implication (that running in lousy weather always leads to enjoyable jogs), isn't necessarily true, however. Today's running was... well, you'll see.

It was a case in point. When I saw the cold rain, I ditched my running friends in order to stay closer to home. I thought I'd get it done with quicker and easier this way. Not so fast, said the weather and running gods. The cold rain (you know how I hate cold rain) soaked me to the bone. That's when I began to freeze up; cold and wet is just no good in my book.

The thing was that I had to get a long run in. Why did I "have" to, you ask? That's easy. It's because the Landis Loonies Marathon is only a week away, on New Years Day. But even with this "need", I still couldn't handle the cold and wetness anymore.

What to do? Wimp out and finish the run on the mill, of course. After about 10 months without so much as stepping on a treadmill, I've now succumbed to the temptation a few times. The weather is my only excuse. I only hope this mill running doesn't lead to a relapse of my painful Achilles Tendonitis, which has been under control, but which I also believe may have been exacerbated by mill running. But so far, so good.

I did complete a long run - 6 outside and 16 inside. But the whole thing was sweet misery. With no sweetness.

Doin' my Motor Good

Maybellene, why can't you be true? Oh Maybellene, why can't you be true? You done started doin' the things you used to do A...