Sunday, January 25, 2009

Week of January 25, 2009

Sunday: Let's see. I ran hard last Tuesday, and haven't been able to do so since. I guess it's been 5 days since I last ran, and I was finally feeling (a little) better again, so when I awoke at 2:40am still on London time, I unpacked and then hit the mill. Unlike last time, I took it real easy. I started slower than 10 minute pace, and then did several miles around 9 minute pace, finally getting down to about 8:30 pace. It took me forever to do 12 miles, but I came out of it ok. My foot and back are still hurting, but at least they're no worse after today.

Monday: I've been working the Early (3am) hours this week. Just stayed on Europe time. Makes it tough for any evening activities. Like last night's MCRR meeting. But I managed. I also ran with the group before the meeting at Highland Library. A very nice 5 miles in the cold (19 or so). It was fairly hilly too. Marsha led us out on a slow 9 to 10 minute pace and then a fast 8 minute pace for the return. It was tough for me, but I did manage to keep up. Don't think I reinjured myself.

Thursday: You'd think that after several days off I would have a decent run. Nope. Wasn't to be. I've been extremely busy with work anyway, but I stepped on the mill just before dinner and did 6 weary miles.

Friday: I had some time between calls and went outside to do 8 at 9.5 pace. Sounds slow, but the footing was terrible. Tons of slush, ice and snow around. Glad I got out though. Pain's still there, but it's not so bad.

Saturday: Another run on the mill. This time it was at the Renaissance Cleveland, and I managed to get 15 in, including a tempo run. I'm not entirely pleased, however. I had to step off several times to catch my breath. It's hard to admit that I'm in such sluggish shape. Not to mention the pain. I think I'll have to wipe that "p" word out of my vocabulary.

That makes 179 miles for January, averaging eight and a half pace. It would sound much worse if it wasn't for the faster dreadmill miles. It's actually not as bad as I thought. Maybe I'm not totally down the tubes yet.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Injured Again

My injuries are back. They actually never left, but had been getting better. Now they're as bad as ever again. Not sure if it's the travel, the driving here (40 minutes each way) or Tuesday's hard run. Perhaps all of the above. I wasn't able to run at all today, even after taking yesterday off. I may need to take another week or two off once again. I say injuries and not injury because both my foot and my back/leg are acting up. Of these, the leg is the most painful.

I had been considering going to Boston with Dave, and maybe staying with Brian. It's three months away, and it's not inconcievable that I'd be better and able to train by then. My injuries are back. They actually never left, but had been getting better. Now they're as bad as ever again. Not sure if it's the travel, the driving here (40 minutes each way) or Tuesday's hard run. Perhaps all of the above. I wasn't able to run at all today, even after taking yesterday off. I may need to take another week or two off once again. So Id' have to say it's now highly unlikely that I'll go. I'll give it 5% chance.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Dress Like an American

I was in the U.K. on the day of the 2008 presidential election; I had managed to vote early. And now I find myself here once again on the 20th of January, the day of the inauguration. Last time I was overwhelmed at the interest and positive feelings about the election on this side of the pond. This time it’s the same, only more so. To underscore this point, here’s the story of the inauguration party I attended last night.

My client contact here, Kevin, invited me to an inauguration party at a friend’s house in Newbury. Newbury is about 55 miles west of London, and perhaps 15 miles west of the office location. He told me the theme was, “dress like an American.” I found all this a bit hard to believe, but I went along. After work, Kevin and his wife Allison took me to dinner and then to their house so they could stop to dress like Americans. Kevin came out with a Hawaiian shirt, sunglasses, shorts and a baseball cap, and Allison with a complete cowgirl look with boots, denim jacket and cowboy hat. I was starting to believe.

John and Caroline’s Georgian home was actually appointed with period furnishings. We were greeted by John, a former American who was dressed as Abe Lincoln. The lively group included another cowgirl, a football player, an airline pilot, a U.S. Marine (worn by another former American who last wore the uniform 24 years ago), a native American Indian and Joe the Plummer, among others. I believe I was the only one not “dressed like an American.” On the other hand, everyone kept telling me that I was fine because I was “authentic.”

We all laughed at the George Bush sayings posted all over. There were also American quiz questions – I think I got them all correct. The hostess explained the various American foods: celery and American Peanut Butter, cornbread muffins, Oreos, chocolate chip cookies, etc.

Then the place became quiet as we watched the speech. I think it was every bit as moving to the Brits as it was to me. Of course afterwards the party got loud again, but then it was time to say goodbye.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Running in London - Week of January 18, 2009

Sunday: It's never *that* bad a day if you can manage to get a run in. So having nothing else to do, and not the gumption to do any sightseeing, I decided to just take an afternoon run from my hotel. It was bright and sunny and in the mid-forties. That's much better than where I came from. And it's supposed to rain most of the rest of the week. All the more reason to run whilst I can.

I ran west from the hotel, on the walking path of Bath road. I was moving EXTREMELY slowly. My legs were stiff and tired from all the flying. I managed to go a mile plus, then turned left onto some side roads. I was eventually running through a quaint small village. I bit further on I turned back, too tired to do any more. I'm calling it 5 at a 9.5 minute pace. And that's probably being generous.

Tuesday: Now that I've had my one nice day here, it's now cold and wet. So I hit the hotel mill and banged out 15 miles. This was my best run since the Fall Classic Half - I averaged about 7:30, and even managed to get down to tempo (sub-7) pace for miles 11, 12 and 13. I almost feel like a runner again. I've never figured out why I do so much better on hotel dreadmills than my own.

Travel Troubles

There was a day when travel was adventurous, exciting and just plain fun. Even business travel was like that, although it's always better to be on vacation than not. Somewhere along the line things have changed.

I was going to fly down to Florida with Mom and then come back in 2 days. I'd just stay the weekend, and Mom would continue to stay with Beth and Ed. Then my travel plans changed when I learned I had to go to London to work. OK, I would still fly down with Mom on Friday, then I'd have to fly out from Orlando to London on Saturday, arriving Sunday for work on Monday. Not the best scenario, but the only one I could do. Even then, it was not to be.

(This could arguably be in our travel blog instead of this general one. But that one is more about places we actually get to and actually see.) Friday's flight from Akron Canton to Detroit, connecting to the one to Tampa had equipment problems, and Mom and I would've missed the connection. You'd think they could just get us there some other way. Fine, except there was no other way. Everything else was booked solid. So Debbie had to pick us up and we had to return home.

It's tough on Mom, and even me, to get through check-in and security and all that. I didn't want to do it again early the next morning. Debbie and I went through all the other possible scenarios, including cancelling the trip and having Debbie take Mom down later, driving her down later, letting her stay with us the whole winter, etc. If I wasn't going to be taking her, then how would I get to London? For that trip I was booked to depart from Orlando and return to Cleveland. I could keep my CAK-DTW-MCO-JFK-LHR itinerary, which I didn't want to do, or try to rebook. But although NW would refund our first trip (with Mom), they wouldn't do anything without a change fee for the London trip because it was separate. I tried explaining that this was their fault...

We wound up with me taking Mom to Orlando (not Tampa), having Beth and Ed pick her up, and then me flying on to JFK and LHR. By some kind of dumb luck, all of the flights were mostly on time, and I made all the connections. And of course, Mom got to Florida for the rest of the winter in one piece. All it would have taken is bad weather in any one part of the country, and I would've been shot. It *was* cold - -10 to -15 for the second morning in a row.

After arriving at my Renaissance London Heathrow hotel, I completely crashed. It's a shame, because I had almost a whole day to sightsee. I'd thought about going to Stonehenge, Bath or brighton, but all were over an hour away. I just didn't want to drive anywhere. I also could've gotten to central London somehow, but had no energy even for that endeavor. So it was a wasted day. I guess I'm getting old.

The one good thing, besides no further flight delays, was that I did manage to get outside for a run on a nice day. More about that in my next post.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Week of January 11. 2009

Sunday: Today it was "Running with Studs". I don't mean my running partners; I mean the studs I screwed into the bottoms of my shoes for traction. Never tried this before, but I'd heard enough about it. This winter's been one day after another of snow, ice and slush, so I finally did it. I put 10 3/8 inch hex sheet metal screws into each shoe. Here's the website that explains it best:
Worked pretty good. Not perfect when the packed snow was really slick, but pretty good overall. I only did 3 slow, slippery miles around the hood.

Monday: About half of my slow 10 miles on the roads of Brunswick were snowcovered and slick again today. I had the screwshoes on again, and once again, they helped a bit. I'll keep using them.

Tuesday: The trouble with all this snow is that there is no room to run on the road. Got to get out *real* early to beat the traffic. I ran the most in a while: 13 miles. The first seven were decent - I was running 3/4 and 1-mile loops around Brunswick High school, still checking it out for the 24-hour run. These were at 8:30 to 8:40 pace. Decent for me these days. The last 6, on a circuitous route home, were much slower. This was because the new snow was adding to the poor footing, and also because I was just plain tired. Still a decent run. I later heard that the school district won't allow the run to be held there. Dang.

Thursday: I would *like* to be able to say that I'm now feeling way better, and that now it's just a matter of getting back into shape. Trouble is, I can't quite say that. I did 16 miles on the mill this morning (temps were around zero), the most for a long long time, but I still had pain. Actually, I'm happy to report that my back/butt/hip/leg really is better. It's the foot pain that's back. I guess it never really went away; it's just that I hadn't been feeling it since I haven't been running hard or long. Today I did, and I felt it.

Friday: 8 mill miles. Not too good - I wasn't fully awake. But I wanted to get these in to get back up to 50 mpw. And running outside isn't an option - it's -11 out there. Taking off for Florida and then London.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Week of January 4, 2009

Seems strange to type "2009".

Sunday: I wanted to get at least 10 in. I went south on Substation, into the strong wind. Turned east on Hamilton for another mile before turning back and heading home for 10. 9 minute pace going out, a bit faster coming back, but the last one was tough. It was tough because I was hurting once again. Very discouraging. It's gonna take more time.

Tuesday: The High School is always a decent place to run to. The traffic isn't bad until school's about to start. What to do after that? I can go south, north, or just back home. I wound up doing loops around the school. It's about 3/4 mile, and an extra 1/4 can be tacked on. I was scouting out a possible course for the 24-hour run, and it seemed pretty good. My running wasn't too bad either. Still slow: 9-minute pace. But at least it was steady for these 10 miles.

Wednesday: This was a frustrating day. There was freezing rain, so I hit the mill. Wanted to do 10 or more, and wanted something of substance. I did manage 3 x 1200 at 6:40 pace, but that was it. Only wound up with 6 miles total. The other frustrating thing was that I broke the mill for the first time in about 2 years. Now I'll take it apart, but I'll probably need to call for a repair person.

Thusday: Well, today makes three days of running in a row. Pretty decent. I'm still feeling about the same, which is better than a week or two ago, but no better than the last few days. There was about 3 inches of new snow on the ground, and I hit the trails in back of, and to the side of our subdivision. I also went across Laurel and ran on the all-purpose trails through the Laurel Glen subdivision, something I've never done before. This trudging was really slow. I'll say it was 8 miles at 10-minute pace, but even that's probably optimistic.

Other happenings:
-Still working on the 24-hour thing. Lots of excitement about it. Edgewater sounds good for a location at this point.
-Work has been slow. I've spent some amount of time in the store lately, but that's been *really* slow. I do expect to become more busy with my day job soon.
-Another day-job note: I passed my latest cfps (certification exam), so I'm good for another 3 years.
-Got a new scale. It measures heavier than the last one by 2 or more pounds. So now I'm 165! The worst news of all? This is probably accurate. Got a long way to go.

Friday: Drove to Buckeye Woods park to run in order to check it as a possible site for the 24-hour run. It's not suitable; one trail is too short, has small hills and sharp turns. The other (the longer, nice shady one) is dirt and has some hills as well. But I did have a really nice short run on top of the snow. A bit better than 9-minute pace - not bad for the conditions.

Saturday: We got pounded with snow, so there was no driving to run either on the towpath or with the MCRR folks. I did the mill thing for 10, and then snowblowed, and then actually ran in the deep snow for 2 more slow miles. I'll probably do something like this tomorrow too.

That makes 48 slow miles for the week. Not much for me, but more than the last few. I'm still feeling a bit better, but still far from 100%. At this point, running doesn't seem to make things worse, even though it did a few weeks ago. Not sure how much the Drs. Joe and Lisa helped; I had been improving anyway. For now I'll stop seeing them - got the Florida and London trip coming up - and see how things progress.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Saturday Run on the Towpath

The weather wasn't bad. It was about 20, there was no wind, and the sky was actually clear. There was an inch or two of packed snow on the towpath. I was still feeling better, so I did 10 with Dave before my 2nd chiro session with Dr. Joe. The run had it's share of pain, but as has been the case recently, it was manageable. Running at an easy pace helped. The pain came on during the ride home. Got to remember that lumbar pillow. Dr. Joe confirmed that I ought to keep the intensity down, although running itself is ok.

Other goings on: we went to Kathy and Mike's for New Years Day dinner the day after their New Year's Eve party. Luck, schmuck, I'm still working on the vegetarianism thing and stayed away from the pork.

Speaking of food, Debbie and I are once again watching it by following weight watchers. I started off the year at 162. Got about 10 to go.

Once again I'm studying for the cfps exam. I'm taking it Tuesday at a testing center. It's keeping me out of trouble.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year

I ran today for the second day in a row. I'm still feeling fairly well, although still not 100%. So today's run was, once again, slow and not too far: about 5 miles at 9 minute pace. Some of it was on the trails through Heritage park to Laurel. I have decided that I ought to run those trails more often, even though the footing isn't always the greatest. Today with the cold and a couple inches of snow, it was soft and slow, but generally not bad. Yes, I should definately do this more often.

As usual, except for last year, we rang in the new year at Kathy and Mike's place with the rest of the gang. I was surprised that Mom had no trouble making it till midnight - I sure did. Dave and Carol stayed over and went home a while ago.

Now Kathy and Mike are having us over again for the traditional pork, sourkraut and dumplings dinner. I decided that the reason our retirement accounts lost so much money this year is that we didn't have the roast pork last year. Since we were in Florida, the closest we could get was pork spare ribs, and they obviously didn't bring us the needed good luck. Of course the problem this year is my vegetarianism quest. It's tough living amongst so many carnivores, including Debbie. Don't know what I'll do about eating today, but I'll figure something out. Our luck can't be this bad two years in a row... Can it?

Back to running. Here's a very brief recap of 2008:

-3200 miles (about what I've been doing in recent years) at 8:20 pace (about the same as last year). This brings my lifetime mileage up to 70, 891.5.
-4 marathons in approximately (3:28, 3:28, 3:21, 3:17) those last two were disappointing because I thought 3:15 or even 3:10 was possible.
-3 10k's (41 flat, 41:04, 41:30 or so) once again, slightly disappointing because I thought sub-40 was possible.
-4 1/2 marathons (about 1:31, 1:30, 1:29, 1:32) at least one was sub-90.
-3rd in age group for the Subway Challenge Series - not so great. Thought I'd do better.
-Last but certainly not least, 1 ultra: the Green Jewel 100k, which I *won*! This was certainly the highlight of the year, and also, I'd say, the highlight for my entire running career.

The intangibles for the year are at least as important as the accomplishments mentioned above. I joined the Medina County Road Runners and in the process made several new friends. I also started working at Second Sole, and this has enriched my running in many ways as well.

My goals for 2009? Same as always: to be the best runner who has ever lived. Short of that, to be the best runner I can be.

North Canton YMCA 4th of July 5-mile

Since I have participated in the Ohio Challenge Series many years, I've done this race many times, albeit many moons ago. It's a fun...