Monday, July 31, 2006

Today's Running - 2006-07-31

I only had a bit of time before my early count, so I just did 3 on the mill. Then I did 3 more on the roads during my lunch break, after mowing. BOY WAS IT HOT! I can't wait for this heat to be over.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Canton Football HOF 5-Mile

It was worse than hot. It was stifling. But this was in the series, so I needed to get another one of these in. I started easy for a change, and (also for a change) didn't slow down. I'm actually pleased with myself for just getting through it at a steady pace. Here are the splits: 6:48, 28, 39, 39, 34. I finished in 33:10, good for 2nd or 3rd (not sure which) in my ag. Not bad for such a huge race. Talked with Al King and Dan Clapper from SC.

Running the Week after returning from Europe

Here is a log of my running in the week after returning from Europe.

7/23/06
Day after my return from Europe – I wanted to run long, but I didn’t know how I’d sleep or how I’d run. I slept well, and ran very well. I knew I wanted to get some speedwork done during the week, but not in my wildest dreams did I think I’d combine it with my long run as I’ve done only a few times in years past. But there I found myself at the Brunswick track, doing 8 x 1600.

Not the fastest 1600’s but they were consistent, and they were part of a long run. 5 miles over there, then the 1600s – 6:37, 34, 31, 37, 41, 30, 32, 30 for an average of 6:34. Then a mile cooldown and then 4 back. So it was 20 in 2:35. Not bad at all.

7/24/06
I just did 3 on the mill – had early calls and that’s all I had time for.

7/25/06
I started out with 3 on the mill, and then drove over to run with Dave. Amy wasn’t in town, so we did our 10-mile loop. It was very warm (probably low 70s) and humid, so we took it very slow, especially in the early miles. 85 minutes.

7/26/06
I weighed in at 159 today – 8 lbs higher than my lowest point. But I had a good run. Despite very sore legs (don’t know why…) I did my Substation loop in 86:30, which included a tempo run of 4 in 27 minutes. Pretty good going. It was warm and humid too. That fast running did manage to take it’s toll in the second half – I slowed way down. But overall, it was a very good one.

7/27/06
I wanted to get my 10k (20 x 400) workout in, but I knew it would be tough. It was in the 70s and the humidity was awful. Is it better to complete a bad workout, or to call it quits and run hard another day? I usually try for the former, as I did this day. I did manage to get through this workout, but it wasn’t pretty at all. I ran to the Brunswick track and back on 303. Struggled a lot on the way back. The workout itself? The humidity really took it's toll. I really had a rough time. Here are the times: 89(40), 92(36), 93(41), 90(43), 91(48), 91(48), 90(49), 94(55), 91(42), 96(48), 92(47), 93(46), 94(54), 94(49), 95(49), 100(43), 92(47), 95(43), 90(46), 87(23). Average was 92. I’ll be happy when this heat is over.

7/29/06
It was extremely warm and humid for our Saturday run, and Dave, Amy and I just wanted to take it slow. So take it slow we did – about 9 minutes per mile for about 15 miles on the ole towpath. Lots of other runners out this day enjoying the stifling heat and humility.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Running in Central Europe

Budapest

Sunday, 07/09/06
Having explored it yesterday during a walk, I decided to run over to Margaret Island. Margaret Island is a large teardrop shaped piece of land in the middle of the Danube, Bridges connect it to both the Buda and Pest sides of the river. Although it is north of the hotel, I went south and then over the Elizabeth Bridge in order to run on the west / Buda side of the river, where there's a better running path.

After about 2.75 miles (24 minutes), I reached the island. It has a rubberized track around the perimeter. It's nice and soft – if anything, it’s too soft. But I’ll say it’s excellent running. I did two circuits of 3+ miles each in 24:50 and 23:45. I got home in another 22 minutes, so I'll call it a very long 12 miles in 94 minutes.

It was getting warm, and I pushed hard for it, but what a nice run!

Monday, 07/10/06
I decided that I should run towards the Vodafone office to make sure I knew where to walk to for work. It’s south, also here on the Pest side. I found it about 2 miles down. I went a bit past it, and then did a lot of back and forth running to determine the best path. I found some decent streets for walking, but there are some not-so-nice areas as well. Monday morning trash pickup was in full swing, so I had a fragrant run. Pretty slow going too – I’ll call it 10 in 85 minutes. Back to Margaret Island tomorrow.

Tuesday, 07/11/06
I did the same exact route as Sunday. It was only a degree or so cooler – about 70F or a bit above that, but I somehow managed to do it a minute and a half faster. To the island – 23:00, two loops on the island - 24:48, 23:18, then 21:14 back home. Tough, intense running. It’ll be interesting to see how well I can run when I get back.

Wednesday, 07/12/06
OK, last time for this route on this trip. Same one: Elizabeth Bridge, Buda side north, twice around Margaret Island, and back the same way. It was very warm once again, probably low 70s. It felt like I was running faster, but it came out about the same as yesterday: 92:30 for the long 12 miles. To the island – 23:13, two loops on the island – 25:10, 23:41, then 20:30 back home.

Prague

Friday, 07/14/06
Now in Prague, I took an exploratory run over to, and along the Vltava, known in English as the Moldau. Just made it to the central city, within sight of the Charles Bridge and Prague Castle before turning back. Call it 5 in 44.5.

Saturday, 07/15/06
What a run! Lost in Prague – what could be better? Haven’t been this lost in years. And I enjoyed every minute. Finally fell though – during that last mile. It was bound to happen after all those cobblestones. Call it 19 in 2:40. Good pace at first, then slowed.

Sunday, 07/16/06
Yet another extremely interesting run in Prague. Lost again. This time I went straight north, through Letenske Park, to Stromovska Park. I kept thinking it was Stromboli Park. Very good running in that park, but I got lost again. I ended up running along a canal and a river even further to the north. Headed back to the hotel and then out again with the camera to take some early morning pictures of Prague. Altogether 2:56 – call it 20.

Bucharest

Wednesday, 07/19/06
After two days off due to international travel, I just had to get out. I did two laps around the Palace of Parliament, one of the biggest buildings in the world. Each was about 2 miles – 15:14 and 14:20. Then I ran to, and around an adjacent park for 2 1-mile laps there – 8:56 and 7:30. Altogether 8 in 64. These routes are ok, and I avoid traffic, but I don’t like the pollution here.

For once I had some free time in the afternoon, so I went down to the hotel dreadmill and did some more. Set it at 0% incline and at 15km per hour, and did 8km, close to 5 miles in 32 minutes. Without the incline it felt easy, even though it was warm in there.

Thursday, 07/20/06
I started slowly today – my legs were a bit stiff from yesterday afternoon’s run. I ran around the neighborhood a bit, but then started doing loops around the palace again. As I hit the second loop, I started going much faster. This despite the fact that it was warmer (probably 70s) and that I was running on grass. My three loop times were: 15:33, 13:22, 13:14. Those latter two were much faster than yesterday. Altogether I’ll call it 8 in 63.

Friday, 07/21/06
I found myself running along the canal that bisects the city of Bucharest, and it wasn’t bad running at all. There was traffic along side me the whole way, but relatively few places where I had to cross over an intersection. I headed west for quite a ways and then back. I also went around the palace, and kept going, stumbling my way into the city center. It was fairly interesting as well, so I went back to get the camera in order to take a few pictures. Got one more of the palace, and some of me running in the park as well. Altogether 12 in 1:42.

I did 5 more on the hotel dreadmill in the afternoon. Same workout as Wednesday – 8km at 15km per hour. A bit tougher this time, but no holding on!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Dan in Central Europe

Check out the pictures at:

My Budapest Pics

My Prague Pics

My Bucharest Pics


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Budapest
There was the usual confusion and disorientation that occurs when one travels overnight. This resulted in me almost missing my connection from Amsterdam to Budapest after I stood for too long in the wrong line for a boarding pass. But I made it to my very nice hotel room overlooking the Danube.

The Danube, by the way, isn’t entirely blue. It’s more of a slate gray. Also from my window I can see Castle Hill, including the Royal Palace, the famous Chain Bridge, part of Gelert Hill, and other parts of Buda. Hilly Buda is on the west side of the river, while flat Pest, where I’m located, is on the east. I can remember this because of a trick that Debbie told to me. Buda-Pest reads the way it does on a map: Buda on the left and Pest on the right, with the north-south Danube in between.

Debbie and I had fun trying to communicate with each other for free over the internet, using Skype. We’ve still got some kinks to work out, but we did manage to talk.

My work schedule appears to be very busy; I don’t think I’ll have very much time for sightseeing other than a few hours on Saturday and all day Sunday. As an effort towards making the most of this, I took a long 2+ hour walk to see the sights. I started by walking across the famous 1840’s era Chain Bridge, which had entertainment and other outdoor festivities at both ends. Heading north along the river, I had a great view of the Parliament Building, famous for its gothic style. I also went onto Margaret Island, a large island in the Danube, connected to both banks by a bridge. There’s a running track all the way around the island, so I’ll be spending at least a few of my mornings there.

For my morning run I managed to get back to Margaret Island where I did two circuits. The nice soft rubberized track is there for almost the entire circumference, which is a bit more than 3 miles. It’s a few miles to get there and back, and it was getting warm, but what a nice run it was.

My all-day Sunday sightseeing began with a walk across the Elizabeth Bridge and then up, up, up Gellert Hill. There are many paths, but they all seem to lead to the top, and they’re all steep. At the top is the Citadella, or Citadel, a fortress built during the 1848-1849 War of Independence. Also at the top is the Liberation Monument, a statue commemorating liberation from the Soviets. Budapest abounds in statues; there are probably more of them than people here. I’m mostly just kidding, but this one is queen of them all. You can see her from everywhere in the city and she’s huge. The views from the citadel are also the best around. I explored a bit, and then headed down the opposite side.

At the base of the hill on that opposite side is the Gellert Hotel, which includes a spa and famous baths. Although it was very hot, and I could have used one, I wasn’t sure of the clothing requirements, and therefore didn’t partake. I did see the outdoor pools, where bathing suits were, I noticed, indeed required.

I then walked around Gellert Hill and over to, and up Castle Hill. Did I mention that it was hot? This was about the time that Debbie would start calling it a Death March. I somehow managed to stay vertical, and spent a few hours exploring the shops and architecture at the top. There are all sorts of churches and museums. I certainly could have spent more time there, but it was time to go over to see the changing of the guard at the Royal Palace. The Royal Palace, aka Buda Castle, is very impressive. It was partially destroyed during World War II, but has been mostly restored. It’s humongous – took me a whole week to walk around the dang thing.

Budapest is an incredibly beautiful city. It’s almost hard to believe that my father’s family is from here, with some possibly still around. “Your name is Hungarian, no?” Every group I met with had at least one person ask me about my background. They all seemed interested to hear about my family. I only wish I could have told them more.

I did get to try some traditional Hungarian foods: Chicken Paprikas (not too different than Debbie’s, except maybe a bit spicier), Goulash, and of course lots of bakery.

Work was even busier than I had expected, so there would be no more sightseeing in Budapest. I did manage to spend the second to last evening at the Spoon Café, which is a boat more or less permanently moored in the Danube. Two of my clients, Gabor Barta and Krisztian Molnar took me there. It was a beautiful setting as the sun set in the Buda hills and the Buda Castle and Chain Bridge lights came on as darkness enveloped us. Pretty good Hungarian food there too.

Somehow I couldn’t help but notice: the Hungarian women I worked with were extremely beautiful. Since Debbie may read this, I’ll try not to notice such things in Prague. Yes, Budapest was great – I only wish I had had more time there. Now on to Prague.



Prague
Work has been so busy that as of my first couple of days, I haven’t seen much of Prague at all. I did get to see some of it during the rides to and from work, and on my morning run. But not much. This weekend will be different; I plan to see a lot.

I did have an interesting cultural experience. Public transportation is always a cultural experience for me, and Prague turns out to be no different. While I was able to walk, albeit a long walk, to work in Budapest, it’s much too far to walk in Prague. Taxis are a bit of a pain too, so I resolved to take the tram, which is a slow rapid transit type of thing. After asking a bazillion questions (where do I catch it, which one, what direction, how do I buy a ticket, how do I stamp it, etc), I somehow got everything right (at least the first time) and got to work ok.

I FINALLY got caught up with work, just in time for the weekend. Czech this out: I worked with Ludvik Cermak (from Pilsen by the way, and he pronounced it, “Chermock”), I’ve been eating livance, bread dumplings with roast duck and cabbage, bread dumplings with weiner schnitzel and stew, and so on. Didn’t like that pun about czeching it out? OK – no more. I should note, however, that in the news here, there was a Czech Scientist and an American Scientist studying bears in Alaska. A whole family of bears came upon them and ate them completely up. Authorities tracked the bears down and killed them. Then they opened up the female bear up, and found the American still alive inside. Of course he said, “The Czech’s in the male.” Sorry, I lied about the puns.

It was bound to happen. After about 19 miles of being mostly lost and running on mostly cobblestone streets and sidewalks, I was in my final mile nearing the hotel, and crash! Yes, I tripped on a cobblestone. No, I didn’t hurt myself – I landed mostly on my hands. My biggest concern was whether anyone saw me. As I was running, I couldn’t help but observe that whereas Budapest seemed to have more statues than people, Prague seems to have more castles than people.

Some musical pieces seem to describe places very well: think of Appalachian Spring by Copland, the New World Symphony by Dvorak and the Hungarian Dances by Brahms. But none are better than the Moldau by Smetana. When I hear this music, I can feel in my bones that I’m in Prague. Each time I turn on the TV here, that music is playing as part of the hotel channel, which is just an ad for the establishment here. But I always let it play for a while – I never tire of it, and it really gets me in that “Pragean” mood.

Moldau, by the way, is the English/German way of saying the name of the river that runs through Prague. The Czechs call it Vltava. I can’t for the life of me figure out how they get from an English word from these Czech spellings. Wenceslas Square is Vaclavske Namesti, Charles Bridge is Karluv Most, and of course Old Town Square is Staromestske Namesti. Either Czechs can’t spell, or we can’t pronounce these places. Maybe both.

One would hope that with place names such as those, that at least street signs would be helpful. They are, unfortunately, non-existent. And, according to Czech law, there aren’t any streets at all that go straight. I think I saw some tourists that were still lost from the 12th century. I myself got as lost as I’ve been for many years during this morning’s run. But I couldn’t think of any better place on the planet to be lost in.

Yes, Prague is simply not believable. It’s castle upon castle. Almost any one of the buildings here would be a fantastic historical sight in and of it’s own. And there are THOUSANDS of them. Each one is unique in character, history and beauty.

After my run in which I saw a whole lot of Prague, I saw a whole lot of it again by taking a city tour. It was pretty good, but I probably could have managed on my own too. We drove through New Town (new being relative here – it was built in the 14th century) and through some other parts, and then walked around Prague Castle and the Castle District, the Lesser Town District, the Charles Bridge, and finally Old Town, including Old Town Square. During the tour, I heard a lot about Wenceslas, the patron saint of the Czech Republic. I mentioned to the guide that I had attended St. Wenceslas School and church. “Oh”, she said. (Not really – she was actually very interested.)

After resting up, I decided to walk over to Wenceslas Square in New Town, since I had only seen that by bus. The statue of Wenceslas is one of the most imposing I’ve seen anywhere – except maybe the Statue of Liberty, and perhaps Budapest’s Liberation Monument. But the setting here is really great.

I also walked over to Charles Square, and then over to the Charles Bridge and back again through Old Town.

I said I wouldn’t notice the Czech women. But I lied about this too. They are beautiful as well, and - let me put this as delicately as possible – they all have those big boobs. It took a while, but a few days later I was thinking about this statement when the irony hit me like a falling piano. Here I was, a wild and crazy guy from America looking at those big Czech breasts.

For my second long run in two consecutive days I pulled the “get lost in Prague” trick again. At least I didn’t trip on a cobblestone this time. I found my way north, up through Letenske Park, where I ran yesterday, and into Stromovska Park. It’s a woodsy place, but there’s also a canal and another river running through. Lots of good running there.

Having spent a day exploring Prague, I had it figured that I’d seen it all and had booked a trip to a castle outside of town, somewhere in the hills of Bohemia. Sounded good until the morning, when I started thinking that I’d had enough of tours; I’d be fine with exploring inside of Prague on my own some more. So I canceled. There had to be at least a couple more things to see.

After about an hour of walking (mostly up), I arrived at Prague Castle once again. I felt there was more to see, and I had an unused ticket for a climb to the top of St. Vitas Cathedral, all 300 to 400 stairs or whatever. The cathedral wasn’t open, so I had some time to kill. I walked up some more to Strahovsky Klaster, a monastery up in the hills. They have a famous old library, and the inside of the church looks almost like the Sistine chapel. No photography, of course.

After some further exploration of the Hrdcany, or Castle District (there’s that Czech spelling again), I squeezed my way between the throngs of people, and into St. Vitas for the climb up the tower. I pulled out my ticket and realized it was the wrong one – it was a used one from something else from yesterday. Yes, I could’ve bought one, but when I thought about it, I determined that it just wasn’t to be.

Bucharest

I’ve learned that it’s not pronounced “boo-ka-rest” as I thought, it’s really “bew-ka-rest”. Keep this in mind if you ever go there.

The Romanian people I’ve been meeting with all have heavy 5-oclock shadows, and thick, bushy mustaches and eyebrows. And you should see the men. I’m 100% kidding about this. I did really work with one lady who had a pronounced ‘widow’s peak’. That’s the Dracula hairdo look with the pointy area of the hairline. Kinda the opposite of what I have.

Getting to and from work is an adventure each and every time. Taxis are plentiful and cheap, and they are about the only way for me to get across town from the hotel. There is only one rule for driving here: there are no rules. That’s not entirely true – there really are a few traffic laws that are followed, such as: always turn left from the right lane, speed up if the traffic ahead of you is slowing down, and use the horn a lot in the event that you happen to be traveling toward oncoming traffic in their lane or if you happen to be going the wrong way on a one-way street. For some odd reason, the traffic really does stop for traffic signals. Go figure.

I’m staying right across the street from the Palace of Parliament, one of the world’s largest buildings. I can see it from my hotel window. It was started by the communist regime and finished after they were overthrown. It took me 15 minutes to run around it this morning. The running here is ok by the way – but there’s lots of air pollution. The funny thing is that the Marriott hotel that I’m staying in appears to be built in the same style as the palace (it’s very fancy) and is almost as big. It’s actually a bit too ostentatious for my taste.

Having gotten used to running circuits around the palace and the adjacent park, I finally decided to be a bit more adventurous for my last run in Bucharest. I went around the palace and kept going down a long boulevard, stumbling my way into the city center. I guess I hadn’t seen it from the many different routes I’d taken by taxi. It’s fairly interesting with a fountain, a central square, and commercial activity all around. My run also took me for several miles along a canal that bisects the city. Pretty decent running, but I’ll be happy when I’m running at home again. I did also head back to the hotel to get the camera. Took a couple of the city center, got one more of the palace, and some of me running in the park as well. In the evening I did some more exploring of the city center when there were more people around. Their ‘old town’ area has some shops and restaurants, but it’s pretty run down. I saw some of the still-present bullet-holes in the buildings from the revolution that occurred here in the late 80’s. the square in the middle does have a nice fountain and is surrounded by more modern shopping, not to mention advertisements.

I think they’re going to let me go home now, based on my mostly good behavior. I’ll try to stay good so I don’t have to come back.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Heading Out and Today's Long Run

I'm heading out for Europe today. Decided to get my long run in and then take it easy whilst I'm there.

My left knee has been tender - I'm a bit worried so I started taking glucosamine. But the good news is that it didn't bother me today and I ran a great long one. About a month ago I did the Lester Rail Trail 24 route in record time - 3:06:30. Today for some reason I did even better: 3:05. It was perfect morning for running - that helped. But other than that I don't know what got into me.

My 6-mi splits: 48:55, 46:10, 45:39, 44:15
I barely managed a tempo run during the last loop - 27:54

Good on me.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Today's Running - 2006-07-06

Getting ready to go.

I did 2 on the mill, then 4 outside. Those 4 were very very slow.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Yesterday's Fireworks, Today's Run and Upcoming Trip

Yesterday after the race, Debbie and I stayed in North Canton for the parade. It wasn't really great, but the small-townish atmosphere was. And watching the little kids going after the candy was fun.

Debbie and I then went to Robin's for her 4th of july party. Good ribs and lots of fun talking with everyone. Dana and Todd were there too. At night Dave and the gang shot off some fireworks. Fun stuff.

Today I somehow managed to run a decent 13 miles. After 6+ I wound up at the track where I did 3 1200s in 4:43. Altogether the 13 miles were in 1:45. Considering yesterday, this could've been much worse.

As I was running home I wound up helping neighbor Bill get his trailer and tractor unstuck. He is on the corner of 303 and Stearns.

Debbie and I changed our minds once again about her coming to Europe with me this time around. It appears that I'll be working too late in the evenings for us to be able to spend much time together. We still would have had the weekend days, but the weekdays look like they'll be shot. We were able to refund the miles and most of the dollars.

We'll look at it all again for any possible future trips.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Today's Race - North Canton Y 5-mile

I've been racing relatively well so far this year. Too early to call it a banner year, but if I could only improve ever so slightly, it could be a great one. Having said all this, I'm still not doing as well as I'd like to in the Ohio Challenge Series. There are a couple of geezers in my age group that seem to beat me every time, even when I do wind up with a fast time.

A week ago Friday I did the Wadsworth 4-mile. For an evening race under warm and humid conditions, I felt I did really well - 24:40. Maybe a 1/2 minute slower than my PR. With that mantra of "if I can only improve just a bit...", I was hopeful about today's race, the North Canton Y 5-mile 4th of July race.

Today it was fairly warm (perhaps low 70s) and extremely humid, with a bit of fog and drizzle. Even so, they had a record turnout with nearly 2,000 runners for the two races.

I warmed up by running the 2-mile. For that one, I ran the first mile in an easy 7+ minutes and then picked it up for a 6-minute 2nd mile. Even that felt easy, so I was all the more hopeful about the 5.

When the cannon boomed loudly for the 5, I tried to start easily, but the first mile still went by in a faster than expected 6:06. There were a few hills in the second mile, and I was beginning to tire, so I held back and did a 6:36. Now it was time to pick it up for the last 3. Unfortunately, the 3rd mile went by in 6:33. OK, OK. NOW it was time to pick it up for the final two. Yes, I definitely felt like I was running faster now. Then I hit the 4-mile mark in 25:58 - a 6:41 mile. What's goin' on?? This time I'd have to go sub-6 to pull out any kind of decent time at all. Yes, I'd really pick it up this time.

Crossed the finish line in 32:36 for a 6:38 final mile. Definitely my most disappointing race so far this year. I suppose I was due for a stinker, but I just hope it's not a sign of things to come.

The same Ohio Challenge Series geezers beat me this week when I ran poorly and last week when I ran well. Maybe it doesn't matter how well I run - I'm just pre-destined to finish in a certain position no matter what.

I plan to take it easy at the end of this week, for the next two weeks. Maybe I just need a rest.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Family Reunion and Today's Run

The family reunion at Michael's house was very nice. His place is really great.

Today's run was yet another stinker. Legs still tired and sore, but I don't know what that could be from. I went over to the school and ran around on the grass for a few miles. Altogether 10 in 89.5 minutes.

Hope tomorrow's race is better.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Today's Running

Did 7 on the mill with a lot of holding on, then some weights, then 3 on the President's route. Don't know when I'll break out of these dolldrums.

Heading to the reunion.

Yesterday's Run and the Beach

I had wanted to do 20, and most of the run was ok, but the heat was getting to me and my legs were tired, so I called it quits when Dave did at 18. Amy had been with us for the first hour or so. The start was slow, but we managed an 8 minute pace coming back.

Lots of runners on the towpath because the northern parts were shut down due to flooding.

Debbie and I spent the day (at least a few hours of it) at Huntington Beach. Had a picnic too. It was very very nice.

Today is the family reunion.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Yesterday's Run

I did 8 in 63 and a half minutes with a few 200s at the (still open!) Brunswick track. It was good to do the speed, Legs feel sluggish though. Maybe today will be better.

Coming Up Short

I needed 24. Isn't it funny how we need mileage like this? Anyway, I only got 22. I will choose to blame this one on today's running...