Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Feeling (a little) Better

I went to the Chiropractor yesterday. Even though I'm a runner, I think I was more or less a typical case for them. After the twists and the electrical/ice therapy, I didn't feel any better walking out the door. But this morning, I did in fact feel better. Now I had already been feeling a bit better - probably because I haven't been running or doing much driving. But there was definite improvement today. I'm going back Saturday.

A couple inches of new snow and howling winds greeted me as I stepped out the door for my first run in a week. As noted, I was feeling better, but definitely not 100%. So was this a good idea? Who knows. I sure didn't push it. With the conditions as they were, that was impossible anyway. I ran about 7 miles at about 9.5 minute pace. The pain was coming back during the run, but it was fun to frolic in the snow anyway.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

I'm Outta Here

The fact is simple: I'm in too much pain to run. It hit me in the face during today's 11-miler, and of course I didn't like it. Running defines me. I'm afraid of what will be left of me if I don't do it for a while. Not to mention the simple loss of fitness.

The fitness, however, is being lost anyway. It's truly amazing how poor my running has become in such a short period of time. So of course I'm worried about getting the fitness back. But that won't begin to happen until I heal. And I'm certainly NOT healing now.

Running and driving have been giving me almost unbelievable pain, and it seems to get worse all the time. Running injuries and pain have been the story for the entire second half of 2008. It started with the slight case of plantar fasciitis that seemed to give way and morph into morton's neuroma. Whilst I was battling that pain, the back problems began. I seem to be able to trace the back/leg pain to the day of moving heavy tables to/from our house for the clambake in October. Although I didn't feel any immediate pain, that's when my lower back began to hurt. This was followed by butt and right leg pain. I remember not being able to sit through a movie or for long rides in the car in the days right after that. As time went on the pain intensified, and it's now gotten to the point where I can't drive more than a few minutes without excruciating pain. The running pain is almost as bad; it hurts just to lift my right leg in order to plant it ahead of me while running. Every step hurts.

So it'll be no running for now. Debbie's almost got me convinced to see a doctor or chiropractor. Money is the main problem here. We can afford a couple hundred dollars (our health insurance is worthless), and I'd gladly pay that if I was sure that I'd be cured as a result of seeing someone. It's been my past experience, however, that I don't get cured from our medical folks. Time is probably the only thing that will help me.

Sorry to be such a downer on this happy day.

Christmas Festivities

Just a quick note about what's been happening.

Last night was Nancy and Sandy's Christmas Eve bash. Good food and fun as usual.
Today we will be going to Jen and Cliff's house for the Horvath family Christmas.
Tomorrow Valerie will be coming in via Megabus, and Veronica and Barry are driving in. They should all arrive late afternoon, and then we'll have Debbie's gala vegetarian dinner.
Saturday? Don't know yet. That's a long way off.
The kids head home on Sunday.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Week of December 21, 2008

Sunday: 30mph winds and temps in the upper 20s. It was going to get much worse, so I went out whilst the going was good. There was some snow on the roads too, so this was an interesting one. Still in pain, I shuffled around the neighborhood gingerly. I also got onto some of the rarely run trails around the subdivision. I ought to do that more often. Too bad I couldn't have enjoyed the snow more than I did. I'm calling this six miles at ten minute pace.

Monday: I'm fighting this pain with all my reserves. I know I should take it easy with the running, so I backed off a bit today. Instead of running many many more miles, I only did 7 on the mill. The good thing here was that I wanted something of substance, and got it. I did 10 1/4 mile hills at 6%. Coulda bin worse.

Wednesday: Ladd and I had planned to run together, but as I was getting into the car, I noticed that the driveway and street were still completely covered with ice. This, even though it had been getting warmer overnight and still raining. Instead, I just ran a couple on the mill.

Christmas: Dave and Carol were over, so I hadn't planned on a long one - I wanted to be back for breakfast. I did want to get something in, however, so I did my 11-mile route at 9 to 9.5 pace. Naturally that's extremely slow, but it was a nice, enjoyable Christmas run, except for the pain. See separate post about that.

During the run I was reminded of Christmas runs past. For some reason, the ones I remember most are the ones from the nineties, when we were living in Michigan, but staying at Kathy and Mike's. I'd always make the Christmas run a long one out on the country roads. It was often cold and nasty, and I didn't run very fast. But I still have those fond memories of those runs.

Today's 11 was still enjoyable, but what I'll remember most was the pain.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Frequency, Volume and Intensity

Roy Benson writes about masters training in Running Times. He likes to call us old guys (and, I guess, gals"geezers" and "grizzled veterans". I don't mind this name-calling at all. In fact, I revel in it. What I don't like, however, is the way Coach Benson is always telling old folks that they must slow down.

I understand that runners slow down as they age. But I don't need people to keep reminding me of this. I'd rather hear from the experts how to run more and faster, rather than less and slower.

That said, I do like this month's (jan/feb 2009) article. Coach tells us that we can experiment by manipulating our frequency, volume or intensity. He says that if training isn't yielding better performances, then it may be time to experiment by varying one of the three factors. Of course he says that us old folks should be varying them *downward*. But here's the important part: try *not* to reduce intensity. I think this makes a lot of sense, especially as I wind down a bit at the end of the year. I've got to try to keep the intensity, which has indeed been slipping, from going down too far.

Valley Forge

A year or two ago I toured Valley Forge National Park, taking in the historical significance and scenic beauty of the place. For this trip to Philadelphia, I'm staying closer to the park and am enjoying it by foot. Although I'd had an idea of the general direction, yesterday's winding run through interesting old neighborhoods turned out to be the most direct 2+ mile route to the park. Whereas yesterday I only ran a bit inside the park, today I had more time to explore.

At 44F or so, it was cooler than yesterday's record of 66. But it was still breezy, and there were a couple raindrops here and there. All-in-all, it wasn't a bad day to run (is it ever?). The park was erie in the early morning gloom. It was easier to see the sights as it became lighter.

It's a wonderful park, whether explored by foot or by car. The rolling scenery is great, and to be in the area of such history gives me goosebumps. I'll have to take Debbie here sometime.

I ran as far as I could on the hike/bike paths that wind all over the place. The paths do link up, but not always as expected. As a result, I had to backtrack a couple of times. But that was ok. And did I mention the hills? They're not insurmountable, but there are plenty of them.

This all added up to another really enjoyable slow run. I'm calling it 16 miles at 9 or so minute pace.

That very evening I drove to the city center to explore the historical area there, including the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. There is a separate post about this in the horvaths travel blog.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Week of December 14, 2008

Sunday: I'll be flying off to Philadelphia later, and the weather was decent, so it was a good day for my long run. It was in the 30s, and the wind fromt the south was very strong. I felt sluggish starting off, maybe because of all the chicken paprikash I had last night, when we'd had the Gajewski's over. What a hoot it is, watching those three kids tear around our house, and watching all of us adults trying to keep up with them. But I digress.. It's been years since I did a long run where I just ran out the door and didn't come back until I had 20 or so miles under my belt. My other long runs have either been with others and where water stops were available, where I keep coming back to the car (Lester Rail Trail) where water is available, where I run several shorter routes from home, but where I keep making pit stops, or just on the mill. Well today I did it the old fashioned way - running and staying out for 3+ hours. And it was a really nice run. Extremely slow (I don't know why at all), but nice. I ran on nice country roads (Sleepy Hollow, Plum Creek, Hamilton, Hamlin), saw a beatiful sunrise, chased a rainbow for 20-30 minutes, and simply loved the run.

Monday: There was a nasty delay for my flight to Philadelphia last night. I arrived at my hotel at nearly 1am. Naturally I didn't feel like running this morning. But as luck would have it, I wound up having much of the afternoon off, so I managed to get a run in at that point. And what a nice run it was. I'm in a different hotel than usual - this one is close to Valley Forge National Park. I found my way over to the park, and then ran around in the beautiful park for a while before heading back. I'll call it 6 fairly slow and extremely hilly miles. Also - interesting weather - a record high here at 66F and real windy.

Tuesday: 16 miles at Valley Forge. See separate post.

Thursday: After all this long, slow distance, I felt the need for speed. And although the weather wasn't the greatest, I didn't want to do it on the mill. Claggett MS track was covered with 3/8 inch of snow, and there was a cold wind. I did 4 x 1600 for an average of 6:57. This is funny - less than a month ago, I averaged 7 minute miles for the 13 miles of a half-marathon. Today 4 almost killed me. Of course the conditions weren't the best, but I think the biggest factor was *my* condition. I even tried a 5th repeat, but that one was slower than 7:30, so I won't even go there. Every time I think my leg/butt/back is getting better, I do something like this and it feels way worse again. Last night's painful traveling didn't help either.

Saturday: Ladd and Chuck joined Amy, Dave and me for our run on the towpath. Mike George picked us up and ran the last 5 with us. We ran on the road for a while but picked up the towpath at Vaughn and then did the usual. It was fun to run with the bunch, but the conditions - ice for several of the towpath miles - were tough. Coming back from Peninsula the pace had picked up. I was having a bit of trouble keeping up, but it got harder to do so once we hit those last few icy miles.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

MCRR Spotlight

I had the honor to be the Medina County Road Runner spotlight runner for this month. This means that I answered some questions and my answers were sent out with the monthly newsletter to all the members. Here it is:

Spotlight Runner
Name: Dan Horvath
Birth Date and 5 year age group: May 2. Age group: 55-59 - the "geezer" division. But I'm one of the
"young guys" in the group. Really.
Occupation: My day job is being a Software Engineering Metrics Consultant. I'm self-employed and
have some flexibility, so I also fill in part-time at the Second Sole store in Medina. My wife, Debbie tells
me I come home from *that* job with a smile on my face. That's a switch. One other thing: I do some
freelance writing, including one or two articles a year for Marathon and Beyond.
Children/Grandchildren: Two daughters, both married. One in Connecticut, the other in Chicago.
Debbie, and I are always singing, Stuck in the Middle with You, except our kids aren't clowns or jokers;
they're great kids, er adults. No grandchildren.
Any interesting facts about your life we should know? This is not the least bit interesting, but Debbie
and I have moved many, many times. I'd say how many, but I can't count that high. We're from NE Ohio
originally, but have also lived in Gallipolis OH (on the Ohio River) and in Farmington Hills, MI, suburb of
Detroit. The most recent move to Brunswick was in 2004, and it is the second last. Last will be into a
rectangular box. One other uninteresting fact: I travel quite a bit - both for work and pleasure. I've been to
Europe many times over the last few years especially. Debbie and I are headed for Hawaii (our 10th trip to
the islands, I think) in March.
How many years have you been running? Too many to count. I started during the first running boom in
the 70s. I suppose it was 1976 or so. So that makes, what, 32+ years? Sounds about right. I do have logs
for most of them. Someone please ask how many total miles I've run in my lifetime.
How many days a week do you run? 5 or 6. I always take at least one day off per week, whether I need
it or not.
What’s your average weekly mileage? In the 60s these days. It was in the 70s last summer. Funny thing
about that. It seems that there are many folks who run faster than me in races, but do fewer weekly miles.
I don't know why, but maybe I should increase my mileage some more?
Favorite Running Shoe ASICS 21xx. I've tried others, but I keep coming back to this one - it always
works for me.
Favorite Running Magazine I guess I'd better say Marathon and Beyond.
Morning or evening runs? Morning. After coffee, my drug of choice.
Prefer to run alone or with someone Yes. Really - I like it both ways. When given a choice, I do always
run with others, however.
Where do you run, neighborhood, park, treadmill, etc. Yes... I know I'm a smarta$$, but I can't help
myself. I really do run on all of the above. I have a treadmill that I hate, but use when I can't get outside. I
run in my neighborhood, but usually I head farther out on the country roads. I meet friends and run on the
towpath on Saturdays. Sometimes we do more technical trails. I sometimes drive to Hinckley or the Lester
Rail Trail. Finally, I try to hit the track at least once per week, as long as it's runable.
What’s your favorite race distance? Yes. OK, now I'm really being a smarta$$. I've done everything
from one mile to 100 miles. I suppose I've enjoyed the longer ones somewhat more than the shorter ones,
but that's not always the case. I suppose my specialty is marathons. They've given me a few very
satisfying moments, but *much* more often they've caused me extreme consternation. I suppose I'd have
to say that ultras are really the most fun.
Any future running goals? I want to become the greatest runner who ever lived. Haile Gebrselassie is
shaking in his boots, er runnning shoes.
Ipod or Purist (no music)? Purist.
If Ipod, what music? Yes. I've been answering yes so much, I don't know how to say N/A. What's an
IPOD, anyway? I do like classical music when I'm not running.
Favorite running gadgets ( Forerunner, heart rate monitor, etc) I had a Garmin Forerunner 305. You
may think this is strange for a purist, but as someone who measures things (namely software) for a living I
loved the durn thing. Until it broke. Something like a day or two after the warranty expired. Now I'm too
cheap to pay the $99 to get it fixed. Somehow I'm still able to run without it again. The way I used to.
I also have a True Treadmill. Did I mention that I hate the thing?
Favorite or most memorable running moment: I'm usually somewhere in the middle of the pack. Once in
a while I do a bit better and contend for an age group award. But I've always said that I wanted to win a
race, no matter how small, no matter what competition there is. I'd only won one race in the distant past:
an *extremely* low-key ultra in Michigan. I didn't have high expectations heading into the Green Jewel
100k in the Cleveland Metroparks on May 3, 2008, one day after my 55th birthday. I just wanted to finish,
and I needed to do it by a certain time in order to make it to the airport for a flight to Europe. To make a
long story short, I got lost and ran an extra 3 miles, but made it just in time to get to the airport for the
flight. And I also finished first!. Now this was also a very low-key event, but even so, it's my most
memorable moment. For further reading, see:,
or my blog entry for the race:
Any superstitious rituals, ie. favorite race socks, shirt, etc.? I stand on my head for one hour before each
run. Just kiddingL I really can't think of any.
Favorite post run indulgence? Being horizontal for a long period of time. For some reason I usually can't
afford this luxury in terms of time. For you newbies: I'm generally kidding here - there are better post-run
activities like walking, stretching and massage. Lately, after big races, I often seem to find myself heading
somewhere far away on a plane (see above). I don't recommend this activity either. Sometimes I do go
for a walk with Debbie a bit later in the day.
Runner Personality Profile – Dan Horvath
1. Race t- shirts sold out on race day, your thoughts.
a. That’s ok I just want to run. This happened most recently at the November 23 CWRRC
Fall Classic. No shirt, no problem.
b. I’m disappointed but don’t really mind.
c. Those bastards!
2. Someone passes you in a race, your thoughts.
a. I’m happy for them.
b. It inspires me to try harder. !
c. Bastard. ! All of the above. Really.
3. You’re feeling a little stuffy mid race youL
a. Have a tissue tucked in your sleeve.
b. Use your sleeve!
c. Hope people stay to your left because snot rockets fly to the right. ! I'm not pretty when
I run.
4. Your breathing during a race would best be described as.
a. Quiet and controlled.
b. Labored but contained.
c. The equivalent of a heavy breathing obscene phone call. I'm not pretty when I run.
5. Your on pace for a PR and notice another runner sitting off on the side of the road, you.
a. Stop to help. If necessary. But if anyone else shows up to help, I'm outta there.
b. Notify the next aid station as you pass.
c. If they look to be in your age group they are on their own!
6. You have another commitment on the day of a race you’ve really been looking forward to, you.
a. Go to the commitment, there’s always next year. I will usually try my best to make both
the commitment and the race, no matter how much the time conflicts. Maybe it's just a matter
of having to run extremely fast this time.
b. Explain that you’ll miss the engagement due to a race and hope they understand. if a)
really won't work - the race would probably take precedence.
c. Feign illness or blame your lack of showing on your kids. If a) and b) don't work.
7. A friend wants you to wear his business T-shirt in an August race to get some free advertising,
it’s a heavy weight cotton, you.
a. Wear it, it’s just the one time and it’s a friend. Only if it's 5k or shorter. But what do I get
out of it (other than friendship)?
b. Tell him you wore it so his feelings aren’t hurt.
c. If it’s not dri-fit it’s not touching your body!
8. Has running ever negatively affected your work or life due to fatigue or scheduling?
a. no I've made it one of my life's priorities to not let this happen. I think I've done a good
job, but I'm not sure how Debbie would answer this question for me.
b. yes
c. Why, who’s asking?
9. You chose your races based on.
a. Challenging course and competitive fields.
b. Scenery, location or cause.
c. You looked up previous years and realized you had a shot at some age group bling. All
of the above. I'm not picky. I do travel to some races, but I generally prefer those close to
10. You’re getting ready for a long run when your Ipod battery dies, you.
a. Go anyway; you enjoy the run more than the music. Once again, what's an Ipod?
b. Are annoyed but will still do the run,
c. Absolutely freak out, what will drown out the voices in your head now?

A Pain in the Butt

That back pain I've had for the past month and a half has moved down. It's not overly painful except when I drive; then it's unbearable. If I have to go anywhere in the car for more than 15 minutes, I know I'll be in excruciating pain. If Debbie's with me, I can let her drive.

I'm fighting this every way I know: strengthening my back, crunches, stretching, light weights, etc. I'm taking glucosamine/chondritin and zinc. No improvement yet.

Coincidentally, I had a physical yesterday. I'd had one a year and a half ago, but that one was worthless. Prior to that it had been 4 or more years. Of course I told the doctors about the pain. The prognosis? Take ibuprofen and it'll probably go away in a month or so. I could also have a muscle relaxer if I wanted. I didn't. If I hadn't had this whole thing before a few times, I'd be upset. But based on my experience those other times, I think they're right.

Notice I said doctor*s*. After the nurse/assistent took my BP, pulse, Ht, Wt, other initial info, another female person walked in and asked me a bazillion questions, trying to get my medical history. At one point the exchange was this:

**Are you sexually active?
**With men or women?
**One or more than one?
**Are you married?
-Yes, and it's the *same* one.
**Sorry we have to ask you some of these personal questions sir.
-I was only making a joke. I was concerned that my wife may see this record. Ha ha.
**No laughter.

It turned out that this person was a doctor in training of some sort. She had me get into the gown and then came back in with my real doctor. He explained that she was and intern being trained, and that they'd be doing the exam together. I said fine.

And it was fine. I had no problem with it. The only strange part was the prostate exam. They seemed to spend an awful lot of time taking turns probing, pounding, pushing, prying, prodding and poking. And having a jolly discussion about it the whole time.

I'm glad I made their day.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Race Fee Rant

Sent to drs...

I've been quiet lately, but I just have to vent this one out. Yesterday I signed up for the Cleveland Marathon, which is in May. The current fee is $65, but they sent me an email with a coupon for $10 off. Being naive, I thought I would be able to register for $55, assuming my math skills haven't deteriorated as much as my running skills over the years.

The website informed me that the current $65 fee is the online fee, and that the mail-in fee is $75. I can understand why a race would want to discourage the effort that goes with paper entries. I prefer to register online anyway. EXCEPT, that is, when adds on their exorbitant fees. And dad-gum it if they didn't do it for this race. I had to pay something in the neighborhood of four clams to get the $65 fee. Lees the coupon, I paid about $59.

What upsets me is that although they advertise the current fee as $65, it is completely impossible to register for the race and pay that amount. Why don't they say the fee is $59, which includes a ridiculous fee for Not long ago, whenever I would see that was involved, I'd invariably send the thing in the mail, even though it was more trouble. It seems like just this year (the same thing happened to me at Erie), they add $10 or so for mail-in entries. I want to shake them and tell them that NOBODY is able to register for the race at the posted rates!

Follow-up exchange the next day:
Geof Newton writes:
> Active allows race directors to:
> - charge on-line registration costs to the event
> - split registration costs evenly between the event and the participant
> - charge on-line registration costs to the participant

Good information. It makes sense.

> I think Active is ok but some of the race directors may need some
> guidance. I've setup on-line registration for directors who felt
> strongly both ways about who should be responsible for Active's cut. At
> the end of the day, the director decides how much goes to whom from
> where ...

Regardless of how the race director decides to handle this, IMHO,
the Active fees are excessive. I understand that they
provide a service and should be paid for it. Just not so much! As a
runner, I would be willing to pay them the cost of a postage stamp,
but they charge in excess of 10 times that much.

Another complaint: They make you enter all your personal information
before they tell you what their fee is, or even that there is a fee.

Active is the Ticketmaster of racing registration. Methinks they need
much more competition!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Week of December 7, 2008

Sunday: I was more tired than I should've been. There was more snow and cold outside, so I just stumbled through 6 miles on the mill. Then, after shoveling, I did shuffle through one more mile outside.

Monday: Determined to do a long one on the mill, I got on and did 24, generally at 7:30 pace, finishing at 8am.. It wasn't nearly as good a run as it sounds however. I was trying to do 8 miles each hour so that I could finish at a decently early time. The first 16 were fine, but those last 8 - yechh. I'm happy that I did finish this one, but I've got a very long way to go. I was pretty darn sore for the rest of the day.

Tuesday: I took some Aleve yesterday, and felt pretty good today. So I had a slow, but decent 9-mile run in the morning. The relatively warm - 40s - weather helped. We'll see how I am for tonight's "speedwork".

In the evening I did hit the track. Patrick, Frank and Dan were there, and we did four 800s in the driving light rain. It felt good to run fast on the track after several weeks of snow and ice. I don't think I could've done too many more however. My times were: 3:05, 3:07, 3:04, 3:08.

Wednesday: It's hard to imagine being more sore, but I wanted to get some miles in, and managed (barely) to get 5 in on the mill before my physical.

Thursday: I felt slightly better, but had an early meeting and did 4 at lunch at 8:20 pace. Felt like I was running through jello, but I'll take it.

Saturday: After running a bit before the rest of the bunch, I met up with the MCRR folks at Panera and ran over to and through Reagan Park and back. I'll call it 8 miles total. This was the first time I met up with so many MCRR folks, and I'm glad I did. This was a fun event; now I've got to try harder to get to the regular meetings.

Whitefish Point Marathon Race Report

The Route from Paradise to Whitefish Point and back If you want to get to Paradise , you have to go through Hell first. Or at least n...