Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Some Doubts

After some long runs of 30, 30 and 40 miles, I was feeling pretty good about my chances of running well at the Freedom Park New Year's Eve 24-Hour Run in North Carolina. Inevitably, I'm not so confident as the day approaches. For one thing, as always I ate too much during the Christmas holidays, and I'm feeling sluggish as a result. But the worst thing is the weather. I've been saying right along that I wouldn't mind it being cold, but cold rain, snow or ice would be very bad. And guess what? That's what's in the forecast.

I guess I'll just have to make the best of what nature gives me. I need to relax and not worry so much about my performance. My mantra: don't worry about how far or fast, just run and have fun.

Last Saturday there were a bunch of us MCRR folks down on the towpath, and along with Dave, we did the usual 14 mile route. It wasn't as fast as last time, but it was still pretty good. I did nine on Sunday, including a 4-mile tempo run. And today I did 11 on the mill because there was yucchy snow outside.

Back to the holidays, they were really nice. Iris and Mike and Iris' Mom a couple days prior, Sandy and Nancy's for Christmas Eve, John and Jill's for Christmas day, then Val came in and we partied some more with folks coming over Sunday. Party, party, party. Now I'll party my way down to North Carolina!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Voices and Me

They are nothing if not consistent, those voices. All week they’d been telling me to do a 14-miler on the towpath on Saturday, followed by a really long run of 30 to 40 miles on Sunday. They never wavered. Thus I found myself going a long, long way this morning. But let’s start at the beginning.

The voices can be good (“go for it - you can do it”), or evil (“you’re having a bad day, so you may as well quit right now”). Much of the time, I’m not entirely sure whether they are good or evil. When they say something like, run about 50 miles over a weekend, is that a good thing or a bad thing? Some would probably simply classify it as a stupid thing, and I don’t have a good come-back for that. Except perhaps to say, lookyahere: I’m planning to be running even more than that on New Year’s Eve, and I’ve got to be ready. I do know that I have to do what they say, because I don’t know what would happen otherwise.

The weekend of running began with Saturday’s run. At Station Road Bridge, I met up with Ladd, Debbie, Dan DeRosha and Chuck. We did what is a familiar route for me: south to Lock 29 in Peninsula and back. It’s 14 miles of familiar towpath trail. The inch or so of snow didn’t bother us as we started out slower than nine minute pace, gradually picking it up the whole way. Chuck picked it up even more with about 4 to go, and I went with him because the voices told me to. Our last three miles were all under seven minute pace, something I haven’t managed to do in a couple weeks. Would I be able to recover from this towpath trail tempo trot in order to run long the next day? I felt tired, but otherwise fine. Time would tell.

Good thing I got a nap because Saturday night’s MCRR party at Second Sole went on till 10pm – way past my bedtime. Good time, by the way. Why would my bedtime be so early, you ask? Because the voices are also consistent about telling me to get up extremely early for my runs, and the longer the run the earlier the start has to be. This is another area where the voices work in mysterious ways. My best guess is that they don’t want me to spend the entire day out running.

It was about 3:18am when first the alarm, and then the voices, told me to get out of bed. Even though yesterday’s run on an inch of snow on the towpath wasn’t bad at all, I wasn’t excited about seeing the same thing this morning. Actually the snow is fine; it’s the accompanying ice and slush that I dislike. The voices know that I feel this way, so they told me it was ok to begin my run on the treadmill. Working with the voices, I had refined my plan a bit: I’d do something on the order of six 6-mile segments. Yes, for some reason, 36 total miles sounded about right to both the voices and me. I had been thinking of doing my outdoor 6-mile loop those six times. Now on the mill, I thought I’d take a break every six miles, although I’d still have to figure out how many such segments to do before heading outside. At each break, I’d chug some Vitargo that I’d mixed on Saturday. Vitargo is pure carbohydrate with no sugar that you can supposedly take gallons of without upsetting your stomach. It has to be mixed well, preferably in a blender. Another thing going on was the brand new shoes: Nike Lunar Glides for the mill work, and another pair of Pegasus 25’s for the outside stuff. I’d really liked my previous pair of Pegs.

I fired up the mill at 3:55am, turned on a movie, and quickly got down to 7:30 to 8 minute pace with .5% elevation. I pretty much stuck to that pace and to my plan to break every 6 miles. I found myself staying on the mill longer than I thought I would. In the process, I watched a Val Kilmer movie where he was an assassin with amnesia who was supposed to kill the president, a really silly documentary where Ben Stein compared some professor’s firing to the Berlin Wall. The professor had taught about “Intelligent Design”. We don’t waste our time arguing about the world being flat, or at the center of the universe anymore because these concepts are so totally disproven; to continue their debate would waste everyone’s time. It’s exactly the same with creationism and climate change denial. There is simply no scientific evidence to support the concepts (they’re not even theories), and yet some people want to continue to ‘debate’ them. And everyone’s time is, indeed, wasted. Except mine; I was getting my miles in. I also watched part of a Denzel Washington / Whitney Houston movie, and a bit of Fox News, where they had a "debate" about whether climate change was real.

Before I knew it, I was getting a lot of mill miles in. The most I’d ever done was 24. This day I stepped off the mill at… 24 miles, and then prepared to finally go outside. It was 7:20 or so; I’d done pretty good so far. I think the Vitargo had helped. By the time I’d gotten my clothes over my sweaty body and got outside, over a half-hour had gone by. The other breaks had been much more efficient. I had also put the Pegs on – my feet had begun to take a beating from the Lunar Glides. The Pegs felt better.

As I started out, the voices informed me that it wasn’t a good idea to continue with the plan of doing two more six-mile segments. Since that last break had taken so long, perhaps it would be better to simply stay away from home for the entire final 12 miles. In retrospect, I think the voices were incorrect about this one, but at the time, I did as suggested.

Running through jello. Know the feeling? I knew those first few outside miles were slow, but I didn’t know how slow until I glanced at my watch at mile three: 28 minutes. It occurred to me that it would be a long morning. But then something funny happened: I started running faster. As I did one loop around the high school, and then ran up to and around North Park, the miles got faster and faster. Not blazing fast, mind you, but down close to 8 minute pace. The final four miles home were a little slower again, but still under nine minute pace.

Why did I think the voices were wrong about my ability to take a break and get back on the road? Because I was able to do so, for four more after the twelve. Even the extra four (on my familiar four-mile loop course) were pretty good – about 8:30 per mile. So the entire 16 outside miles were completed in two hours and nineteen and a half minutes. Add this to the 24 mill miles, and you have a pretty good day of running.

Now I think I’m ready for the 24-hour run, if only the weather will be good for us. Let’s hope the voices cooperate.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Donning Our Gay Apparel

Last night was the holiday beer/cheer run with the Medina County Road Runners. Everyone dressed for the occasion, including me. Yes, my apparel was pretty darned gay. But then, so was everyone else’s. I stayed away from the drinks at the couple of bars we visited, but I did partake in the running and caroling. Anyone who saw me would be hard-pressed to agree that I was really sober.

We didn’t run very far last night, but it’s been a good week, mileage-wise. I didn’t run last Saturday because I was flying back from Boston. So Sunday was to be another big day, and it was. Like the previous week, I started early at Hinckley, and was joined at 5am by Dan D. and Ladd (who was new for this week). Also like last week I did nine three+ mile loops and enough extra miles to call it a 30-mile day. But this 30-miler was much slower than that of the previous week: 4:50+ as opposed to 4:30. The reason for the slow running is the cold and freezing rain that was with us for most of the run. The worst part was the slippery footing. Good thing I had those other guys with me because on this day, it would have been really easy to quit and go home early.

Not only did Sunday’s run go slowly, it also beat me up quite a bit. I took Monday off, but managed to run 10-11 on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Some of those runs were pretty darn cold. No stellar performances, but I am getting those miles in.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Running in Beantown (no, it’s not the Big One)

The Big One will be next April. This was just a one-week gig for work. And speaking of work, I spent much of the time navigating my way between several offices located around the city. I decided to stay in Quincy because it was at least somewhat close to some of the offices.

Unfortunately, Quincy isn’t the greatest running area. Boston does have some wonderful running routes, but I didn’t think I’d be able to get to them from the hotel. But then things turned out slightly different than expected.

Wednesday’s run was about as expected. I wanted to get 10 in, and I did. Those 10 came and went without me going too far from the hotel. It was snowing when I started, and the snow became heavier throughout the run, so the last thing I wanted to do was venture too far. The solution was to run multiple ¾ mile loops around the office park. Add to those loops several runs up and down the hill leading to the Marriott, and you have your 10 miles.

Thursday’s run was more adventurous. Waking up at 2am, getting out of bed at 3:15, and out the door at 4:30, I thought I could get a long one in. And a long one it was, although I had to call it quits after 2 hours, 42 minutes. I simply ran out of time. So with the slow pace I’m calling it 18 miles. The course turned out to be a good one for running after all. Down Center Street into Quincy, then onto the Furnace Brook Parkway for several miles. Other miles along Quincy Harbor and Wallston beach. These all turned out to be pretty durn good routes for running. All-in-all it was a pretty nice run. Slow, but nice.

I'll probably do a couple more tomorrow.

Monday, December 07, 2009


"How should I train for the 24-Hour Run?" wondered Dan DeRosha.

There's something about the phrase, "For What It's Worth", that I really like. It's a shorthand way of saying, "You may want to disregard everything I'm about to say, but in the event that you do still want to listen, here it is..." Or, "I may not be the best authority to give the following advice, here it is..." And so on... In this case, I certainly did qualify my response. Of course that qualification included the fact that my previous experience with 24-Hour runs has been to a) run one with really lousy results, and b) be the race director of one that I didn't run at all. With those caveats, I gave the following advice: "Run a lot."

Back in the seventies, when running was at best a fringe activity, and running marathons was truly "out there", a friend and I trained for and ran the first Cleveland Marathon. As someone queried, "Wow, a marathon! How did you train for it?", my training partner, who did not want to waste the effort of explaining his training regimen to someone who wouldn't understand, or really care anyway, answered, "I ran a lot". Now it was definitely not my intention to brush Dan off with such an attitude. In fact, I was quite serious: to train to run a lot, you ought to... run a lot.

And over this past weekend, run a lot we did. On Saturday we hit the towpath along with Dave. I did 14, while Dan went on to do several more. These miles were at a really good pace; well under 8 mpm for the last few.

Sunday Dan and I got together again, this time at Hinckley. It was cold and dark at 5am, but that was to be expected. We did seven (I think) 3+ mile loops around the lake. Some were on the all-purpose trail, and some on the dirt lake trail. I even did a couple more - enough to call it 30 miles in all.

Today I did 10 more miles. Although these were slow, I'm very happy that I could run at all, given the past weekend.

So yes, FWIW, I've been running a lot.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

What Was I Thinking?

After some peer pressure from Ladd and Dan D., I signed up for the Freedom Park New Years Eve 24-Hour Run. To be honest, that peer pressure went both ways; I had been looking at the race myself. The problem is, now I have to train for it.

My first ultra, and my only other 24-hour run was Olander Park in Toledo, about 17 years ago. I had had a very good running year, but I did not take that particular race seriously. It was more of a lark type thing. As one may expect from such a thing, the run did not go well at all for me. I got 51 miles in, but I quit running and went home after 10 1/2 hours. I actually got depressed from running in the dark. Some of my other ultras have gone better because I've actually trained for them.

I pledge to train for this one. I plan to get a couple 30-mile runs in, but I'll have to make sure to have the time (and weather) on my side. If I mess up this one, it won't be for lack of training and trying.

This week's running has gone better than last week's. I did a lousy 4 on Sunday, and then 22 Monday. That Monday run was broken up as two 6-mile loops and then 10 on the dreadmill. The outside stuff went well, but the treadmill part didn't. At least I got through it. Tuesday was better. I did 11 with the early morning Medina group, and then hit the track with them again in the evening for some 400s and 800s.

After a day off, I hit the roads again this morning for 13 miles, some of which were loops around the high school. I'm trying to get used to running in circles, you see. It wasn't a bad run - I averaged about 8:15 or so.

I may do my first 30-miler as early as this Sunday.

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...