Sunday, November 30, 2008

Week of November 30, 2008

Sunday: I got out late, after Barry and Veronica left. I didn't expect much, but I actually did a decent 6 at 8-minute pace in decent 40-degree but breezy weather. That weather will be deteriorating for the rest of the week, so I'm happy I got this one in.

Monday: It looked like it would be lousy weather, so I planned to do 24 on the mill. Bored as usual whilst running on the mill, I almost immediately started thinking about how to get off again. Based on the tv weather reports, it appeared that the cold rain and snow would be holding off for a bit, so after 8 (at 8mpm) on the mill, out I went. It was cool (low 30s) and breezy, but otherwise not too bad at the start. I zig-zagged all around the presidential streents, and then went across 42 to and around Hopkins park. Eventually I wound my way south across Laurel to Sleepy Hollow. About half-way through these 12 miles, it started to snow and sleet. The last few were a struggle. At least I got 20 in.

Tuesday: I slept really really well. Of course it was tough to get out of bed and do 4 on the mill, but somehow I did. I may get out again tonight.

I did get out, but with the cold wind and chilly (27F) temperature, it was tough. Dan and Patrick showed up, and we did one mile on the track, Since it was covered with ice and snow, we moved over to Reagan park and did some hills. Those two are fast! I just took it easy. I'm calling it 4 miles based on the time.

Wednesday: After 10 hours of rest, I got out and did my 11-mile course. It wasn't all that bad - mostly 8 1/2 mile pace, except a bit slower for the last few. The wind was wicked, but at least it was dry.

Thursday: This time I had over 30 hours of rest, and I was still tired. I got out about 4:30 pm and shuffled around a bit and called it 5 miles at 9-minute pace. This got me to 50 for the week going into Saturday. Friday will be my first day off for a while.

Saturday: I felt pretty decent after finally taking Friday off - and did 14+ on the towpath with Dave and Amy. It was cold, but there were only a few icy spots. As usual, we had negative splits on our journey to Lock 29 and back - about 1:02 going out and 59 coming back. Not bad.

Later Saturday I had to work, and then drive to Canton for the Subway Challenge awards banquet. I was 3rd in my AG this year - worth only a couple shirts and $10 at Raisin Rack. I redeemed that right away. But all that driving (in bad weather) hurt my hip more. For some reason, driving is the most painful thing in the world for me these days.

Thanksgiving Weekend

The girls (and Barry) have packed and left, so once again, the house feels empty. Of course Mom is here - that helps. But as always, it was sad to see them go.

It was a wonderful weekend, as all our thanksgivings are. I made the regular and vegetarian lasagne on Wednesday night for the extended family. Veronica and Barry came in late that night, while Valerie got in Thursday morning.

The turkey and all the fixings were great. Some things were different, as we broke (only a bit) from traditions: got a fresh Costco turkey, and brined it, made REAL cranberry sauce, did not stuff the turkey, but made separate, fantastic vegetarian dressing. But then most of the stuff was normal: the desserts, the other fixings, the bread, the massive quantities. We had a record 17 people at the table this year, including Nancy's mom and sister Margie. Everything turned out as good as could be.

Friday we did some shopping, and then drove to Amish country. Something different. And fun. The best part was the grocery store in Walnut Creek. The funniest was the candle lighting ceremony that we couldn't stay through in Sugarcreek.

Saturday it was more shopping, lunch at Mustard Seed, and the movie, Four Christmases.

Today we're straightening everything out and getting back to normal. Then we go to Dave and Jill's christening party for Enzo. Should be more fun.

But someone please make the fun stop!

My achin' back, part 2

About a month ago I posted something about my back and foot problems. The good news is that the foot is way better; almost 100%. The bad news is that the back is the same, or possibly worse. The pain seems to shift around, and most recently I feel it in my right hip. The extra weight I've put on over the weekend doesn't help, nor does the time spent driving to, around, and back from Amish country the other day.

I'm going to beat this thing however. I've had it before; I called it sciatica then. Whatever you call it, I don't like it and I'm not gonna put with it any longer. I'm working harder on various exercises, and I'll keep at them. I'll keep running (of course) because that doesn't hurt it at all.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Week of November 23, 2008

Sunday: CWRRC Fall Classic Half Marathon. See separate post.

Tuesday: These half marathons have been taking a lot out of me. Once again, I was extremely sore for a couple days, but in spite of that I went out for a medium-long run this morning. The weather was decent for this time of year: low 30s, windy and some snow starting up. Did the 15-mile course at mostly 9-minute pace. Faster for the first half and slower towards the end. I was getting tired, and the footing was starting to deteriorate. I may do the speedwork tonight, but it's sort of doubtful.

Wednesday: I didn't run Tuesday evening. The snow has been bad almost every day lately. I did run on the mill today: 11 in 81 minutes, with 7 x 1200 thrown in. It wasn't pretty though. Had to stop several times to catch my breath.

Thursday through Saturday: Kind of a blurr because of all the weekend festivities, but I'll do my best. On Thanksgiving Thursday I did 10 slow miles in the cold. Only the last few were decent. On Friday I had planned to do 10-12, but ran out of time and only did 6 at about 8 1/2 minute pace. Saturday I had even less time (had to drive Valerie to the Megabus stop), so I only did 4 to get my 60 for the week.

OK, none of it was great running, but at least I got *some* miles in.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

CWRRC Fall Classic Half-Marathon

Parking for this race is always a bear, with "Bear" being the best "b" word I could think of here. I arrived almost an hour early thinking that I could get one of the few close spots. No luck, I was told - drive up the hill to the secondary area. 1/2 mile away, I thought this wouldn't be too bad, until I saw that people were trying to pull out with as much frequency as they were trying to pull in; this lot was full too. The 3rd area - the RTA Park & Ride - is extremely far. So I finally got smart and simply parked on the shoulder of the parkway. Other than the parking, however, I do always enjoy this race, along with its spring version.

Expectations, Schmecpetations: the only one for today was that I wanted to avoid a PW at all costs. I think my PW is 1:41, and when I saw the temperature of 11F as I got out of my car, I thought that the cold, combined with my declining conditioning could put me in that kind of territory. On the other hand, it was bright and sunny, and all indications were that the temperature would rise quickly. It wasn't too windy, so the sun actually felt fairly warm. So if a miracle were to happen, there would be another sub 1:30 today. But I wasn't holding my breath... no, actually I was - it was too cold to breathe for that first mile.

That first mile was probably short, because it went by in just around 6 minutes. And I'm not capable of that - even in warmer weather. I did settle into a decent pace soon afterward. Most of the early miles were just under 7 minutes.

The familiar course is a double out and back on the closed-to-traffic parkway. You get to see all your friends - and I had many there - several times. The woods were very pretty with all the snow illuminated by the bright sunshine. Most of the course was free of ice and snow, but there were a few bad spots. The worst was the solid icy spots on the 1/2 mile of bike trail at near the half-way and finish area. I started the second loop at about 45 minutes - right on pace for a 90 minute run. But after all that ice, I never picked my pace back to where it was. I was now running miles that were slightly slower than 7-minute pace.

Somewhere in there I took an energy gel, and it helped a bit. At least I didn't slow down any further. But by mile 10, which I hit in 1:09:30 or so, it was beginning to look like 90 minutes was out the window. This was in spite of the fact that it was actually warming up nicely. A bit too nicely: my hands were so hot I threw my ski gloves off at mile 7, and picked them back up at 11.5. Of course this meant losing precious seconds. Those seconds weren't about to make the difference of a sub-90, but they had the chance of affecting my age group place. When I picked them back up, a fellow geezer (I mean that in a nice way - especially since I don't exclude myself from that classification) caught up with me. I'd seen the guy from time to time previously, and I had the feeling that he may be in my division.

I ran side by side with him for a half-mile. We were both too winded to talk. By about mile 12, I was beginning to pull away. But I had to keep pushing until the icy finish. I crossed the line in 1:31:57, a few seconds ahead of the other guy. They immediately gave me the first in age group award. I love those races with immediate awards. The other guy came in a few seconds later, and he did turn out to be the same age.

So it was another solid effort, but another one where, in retrospect, I would've liked to have done a couple minutes faster. At least it wasn't a PW.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mom's Here

Ed and Betsy are heading to Florida a few days too late - the yuchy weather has definitely begun. They dropped Mom off yesterday, and now she'll be with us for a couple months. Although she just turned 94, she seems to be doing just fine. The only concern is her teeth - the dentist wants us to have several pulled. We hate to put her through that, but we'll be looking into it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Lovely's Wedding

It's not every day that you attend a combination Italian and Indian wedding, but that's what this one was. It was, to say the least, a unique event. It was a blast, too.

Week of November 16, 2008

Sunday: I took the day off, as we drove back from Detroit to Cleveland.

Monday: I was gonna get a 20+ miler in no matter what. And I did - on the mill. Had to step off quite a few times for various pit stops, and I almost quit a few times. But I did managed to get 24 in - 3:11. Now I'm *really* tired and sore.

Tuesday: Just 6 on the mill. More awful weather. I'm also not gonna run tonight. Maybe tomorrow will be a decent one.

Wednesday: It was cold and nasty - about 21F, windchills in the mid-teens, and plenty of leftover ice and snow, but durnit - I was tired of that dreadmill and I was gonna run outside no matter what. And it wasn't all that terrible. I wound up at the track, and after deciding not to do the speedwork yesterday, I did manage to do some today. That is, of course, if you call 7:30 miles speedwork. The track, like everything else, was covered with ice and snow, but it turned out to not be quite so bad as the roads. So after a slow start I did a few of those speedy 7:30 miles there and headed home. Altogether 11 miles in 93 minutes.

Thursday: Today I wanted to do my usual 11-mile course on the country roads that I enjoy so much. The one that winds up going through the new subs. The footing would be much better today, and it was warmer - in the mid-30s. But the northwest wind was very strong. The result? Not bad at all. I held an even 8:20 or so pace throughout the run, and finished in 92 minutes. It's encouraging to think that I'm not slowing down any further. Yet.

Now I've gotta figure out what to do, running-wise, this weekend. There are three possibilities on Saturday: the usual running with Amy and Dave (altough the towpath may not be runnable), a 5k race in Medina, and the club group run at the store at 1pm when I'm supposed to be working. And then there's Sunday. That's when the Fall Classic half marathon occurs. What with the upcoming cold and otherwise lousy weather, either or both of the races could result in a PW for me. Wouldn't that be exciting?

I got out for another run at lunchtime. 3 on the presidential streets in sub-8 minute pace. Not bad.

Friday: In order to get up to 60 for the week, I banged out 5 on the mill. Wasn't pretty, but I managed. Now I probably will not run tomorrow, and save myself for the half on Sunday. Of course, plans could change.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Week of November 9, 2009

Sunday: Before heading out, I watched the one-hour recording of last week's NYCM. It takes me that long to wake up before heading out the door anyway. This gave me a bit of inspiration, and I did my 11-mile course in 96 minutes. Not speedy, to be sure, but at least it was steady. Beats having the Sunday blues.

Monday: More tired than I should have been after yesterday's run, I just stepped on the mill and did 10 today - 7 at MP. It wasn't pretty.

Tuesday: My morning run wasn't too pretty either. I had thoughts of 10-12, but I only jogged at 9-minute pace for 7 or so. Tonight's speedwork should be better. Shouldn't it?

It was better. I got to the track 20 minutes early and Pete was already there doing 800s. I did one with him (actually way behind him), and then warmed up some more with Ladd, Marsha and Kyle. Ladd and I did a 1600/1200/800 with pretty good results. It felt good to open her up now that my marathon recovery period is over. Glad to get this one in.

Wednesday: Based on past experience, I thought I may be able to get another speedwork session in - just 10 hours after my last one. That past experience really is in the past, because it didn't happen today. It was slow 9-minute miles over to the track, and then 4 8-minute miles there. This was the "speedwork". Then I took a longer route home at 9-minute pace once again. At least I'm getting my miles in this week.

Thursday: 3 slow late afternoon miles on the Presidents streets.

Saturday: I kind of wanted to do a 20. That way I'd have 70 for the week. But as soon as I stepped outside the hotel in Livonia, I knew today would be a challenge. We're here for Lovely's wedding. It had rained all night, and it was still raining. A cold, 40 degree and windy rain. About as bad as running weather can get. Off I went, slowly, into the awful early morning darkness. I stepped in puddles galore - some ankle deep - that I couldn't see due to the darkness. I made my way south on Haggerty, then west on 5-mile. I got over to Northville Road, and then Hines Drive. I'd run here many times on both training runs with the Wrights, and also as part of the Martian Marathon and some 20-mile Running Fit runs. When I got back up to 6-mile, I turned back to the hotel, and after some dipsy doodles, made it back there at 90 minutes. Would I be able to do it all again to call it 20? Didn't know, but I was about to try. This time I didn't want to be heading north when I was tired however - the wind was from that direction, and it was wicked. I had gloves, but they were soaked and my hands were almost frozen solid. I made it back to Hines and went north at that point. More familiar territory. At about 36 minutes out, I was suffering way too much and had to head back. I'll call it 18 miles total for a run as miserable as it gets.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

No Running... Until Today

I've been pretty well burned out. The trip to London came at the right time because I was not in a good running area there anyway. I planned to only run if I really felt like it. I didn't really feel like it.

So today I found myself running on the towpath with Dave and Amy after having taken five whole days off. It felt good. A bit sore, but good. Maybe I'll be re-energized now. We'll see if I have the usual Sunday blues tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

A New Day

Awake at my usual 4am, I immediately turned on the tv in my London hotel room. John McCain was on several channels, making his wonderful concession speech. It reminded me of why I voted for him. In the 2000 primary, that is.

A short time later I watched Barack Obama give his now famous great Chicago speech. It reminded me of why I voted for him. In 2008.

What a great and historic time this is. This must rank with the other historic events I've witnessed in my lifetime. It's a new day. And it's exciting to be alive.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Inland Trail Marathon


Sub-3 is still the gold standard. It’s been 12 years, but I still haven’t totally given up; I still have sub-3 as a goal, albeit an increasingly unlikely one. Once upon a time, achieving this gold standard wasn’t so unusual. I got there seven times, sometimes two or three times in a row.

3:00 to 3:05:59 is a near miss. Don’t ask why it isn’t 3:00 to 3:04:59. 3:05:59 is the upper limit here, and that’s just the way it is. At some point over the last couple eons the near miss became a more realistic goal than the gold standard. Without a doubt I’d get back to sub-3 land, but for the time being a near miss would be fine.

As the near misses became more and more difficult, there had to be a new category. 3:06 to 3:10:59 is a near, near miss. Still respectable, and still a chore, this standard may now be slowly slipping away too, however. I did a 3:09 in 2006, and I was on sub-3 pace for 20 miles later that year before becoming injured and walking in for a 3:18.

Now I need a name for 3:11 to 3:15. Near, near, near miss just doesn’t sound that great. Yet this time still isn’t all that bad, especially as a stepping stone back to near, near misses, near misses and sub-3’s. I did manage a 3:14 in 2007. And this year I weigh less and have recorded faster times in all non-marathon distances. The cards just haven’t been there for a sub 3:15.

Until today, that is. By gum, today would be the day and Inland Trail, site of last year’s 3:14, would be the event. It’s do or die. Well, let’s just say it’s do.
I make the short drive to Elyria in a half-hour. Destination marathons can be exciting, but how can you beat sleeping in your own bed, eating your own food, and driving a half-hour to your race? Not to mention not having to pay more than $55 for the race, with no expense at all for any other travel.

The weather, a negative factor for so many of my marathons, is perfect today: low 40s for the start with a few clouds, light breezes and only slowly rising temperatures. It would be about 50 by the time I finished.

I arrive and talk with Dan DeRosher, who would be doing the half, Greg Dykes, who wanted a 3:10 BQ very badly, and my arch-enemy, Vince Russo. Make that double-arch enemy. Vince is a good friend, but he also happens to be in my age group, and he also sometimes comes across the finish ahead of me, so that’s how he achieved double-arch enemy status. I also said hi to Lloyd Thomas, who just finished MCM in his first sub-3 time. I’m jealous, but of course congratulatory. I don’t find Ladd and Marsha before they hop on the bus to the start of the half. Those of us doing the full wait around for another half-hour before the gun goes off. I talk with Vince some more.

It’s a small, friendly bunch who toe the line. I do the first 5 or so miles with Greg and a few other guys. The Inland Trail is a rails-to-trails asphalt bike trail, where the scenery is very nice, but almost always exactly the same: colorful trees on both sides, with an occasional bridge, fence, or road crossing. Some runners miss the crowds and excitement of big city marathons, but not me. This, and the towpath are almost heaven. Marathoning just doesn’t get any better.

Eventually the half-marathoners are coming in the opposite direction. I see Dan, Ladd and Marsha, all looking great along the way. Greg and those other guys are getting ahead of me, but the 7:15 to 7:20 miles are fine with me for now. Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to pick it up in the second half and finish strong?

The mile before and after the turn-around is on a road that provides the only slightly rolling hills. couple guys had passed me before the half-way point. Before I turn, I see them, as well as Greg, Vince, who’d gone out very fast, and several other familiar faces. I reach that half-way mat in just under 1:36. Perfect. If I can only do even to slightly negative splits, I’ll have a great finish time today. But as I turn back onto the trail, I get a strange and unexpected sensation: wind in my face. I’d been aware that there were some gentle breezes about, but I wasn’t aware that they were at my back. Now I know differently. It’s ok, I tell myself. This little bit of wind won’t slow me down.

I do pass a few folks in the next couple miles. I start to take a Gu every two or three miles. It seems to help, but I think I’m slowing just a bit as I reach mile 20 in 2:28. I’m working harder and slowing more, and I’m starting to figure out that 3:14 to 3:15 may be the best I can hope for today. Even so, I still pass a couple more, some of them walking. I hope to catch double-arch enemy Vince, and I think I see him up ahead. I do pass the guy in the late miles, but it isn’t Vince. By mile about mile 24, I realize that I probably won’t even make the 3:15 standard. My foot (the one with the Morton’s Neuroma that had been feeling better) hurts. In fact, everything hurts.

As the trail is nearing the point where we turn onto the road and back to the school and finish, I see Ladd, who runs those last ¾ of a mile in with me. It’s a tremendous help. I probably would have slowed much more without this companionship.
I cross the line in 3:17:05 or so. I immediately get my second place in age group award, a second medal. You’ve got to love a race where the awards are this quick. I see Marsha, who’d run a P.R. in the half, Greg, who’d gotten that BQ by 15 seconds (!), and Vince, who’d run 3:12. I wasn’t even close!

I’m in great, general pain. I’d given it all I had, but still came up short. Yes, it was my best time in my four 2008 marathons, but I still wanted that sub-3:15. I go inside to get some food. They have Chicken Paprikash! Beat that, Boston, New York and Chicago!

As is often the case for my marathons and ultras these days, I find myself on a plane a few hours later, this time off to London. It’s a painful flight.

Ouch II: Danny Boy Falls for Nothing

Danny Boy is awake at 3:30 AM, which is a little earlier than planned. Good, he thinks; he may be able to get an extra mile or so in. Eleven...