Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Better Just Shoot Me

Yup, lame again. Reminds me of the jokes I heard back when we got a Polish Pope. His first miracle? He made a blind man lame. Secondly, he cured a ham. But I digress..

Yes, I need to be put down for the good of all. This should have happened a week ago after the CWRRC Fall Classic Half when I pulled my right calf. After that incident, I (uncharacteristically) wisely took a couple days off before hitting the roads again. The problem is that when I did hit them, I hit them a little too hard: 10 with Dave on Wednesday, 22 on the mill on rainy Turkey day, 9 on the mill the next day, and then 16 in Buckeye Woods Saturday followed by 18 at hilly Hinckley on Sunday. That's a heap of running, and my calf paid the price. It was swollen Sunday, Monday and today - Tuesday. Monday was, I think, the worst day. It seemed to be double the size of my left one. This didn't seem good.

The not-so-bad news is that it's a bit better today. I'm concerned about Sunday's Buckeye Woods 50k/50 mile run. Time will tell. I'll try to run tomorrow, and we'll go from there.

I do need to add that these extra pounds do not help this situation. Our traditional Wednesday night dinner with the family was pizza this time. Thursday's turkey was as good as ever, and then there were the leftovers. Not to mention the Cousins' Brunch on Sunday. When will it ever end? (Maybe a bit now that Debbie is back in Connecticut.) Of course the best part of this holiday is family. It was wonderful as always, but Debbie and I miss our Daughters tremendously. We will have them here for Christmas, so that's some consolation.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

CWRRC Fall Classic

This once little half-marathon in the Cleveland metroparks now fills to capacity at about 800 runners plus many hundreds more in the 5k. It seems like everything fills up these days. But the crowd wasn't too much of a problem for me. I've done this one many times, and I pretty much know what to expect. It's a fairly fast course, and I usually do well here. Moreover, I've done well at my last two halves. So expectations were high. (Read: Danger, Will Robinson.)

A bunch of us MCRR folks carpooled down there. This is always fun. It was cold, probably in the upper 30s, so we didn't even want to get out of the car for a picture. We did, eventually, however. But as we lined up and started running, the temperature, now rising into the 40's, felt fine. Things started well for me. I got right down to the solid pace that I'd intended to maintain throughout the race. I saw several other friends before and during the race. There are several turn-arounds in this double out-and-back course, so that helps everyone see everyone else.

I said the crowds weren't much of a problem for me. Actually they were, but it was the 5k runners, not the half-marathoners, that were the problem. As we came to about the 5-mile mark, we bumped into hundreds of 5k runners, who took up large chunks of real-estate. It was challenging to try to get around them. I managed, and came through and around Bonnie Bell Park for at a still-solid pace - right where I wanted to be.

Around about mile 7, my right calf began to hurt. I hoped to run through the pain, but it got worse instead of better. By mile eight I was hurting to the point of limping. By mile nine I was hobbling horribly. Of course lots of folks were passing me, and of course I didn't care - I had other concerns, such as survival.

At some point the level of pain reached a steady state, and so did my now-very-slow pace. I finished in 97-something, about 10 minutes slower than I'd hoped. I still managed third in my age group.

Now I'm hobbling around with this pulled calf muscle. It's been a while since I've had a major injury, and even longer since it happened during a race. I can only hope it'll heal quickly.

The irony is not lost on me. It was just a couple days ago when I posted this little gem: What if Eleanor Roosevelt Could Fly?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Where’s the Dang Statue?

It’s cool and windy as I turn onto Beacon Street. That wind is right in my face, but the temperature isn’t really so bad, and I’m dressed for the occasion. It’s also dark, but I know that here on the eastern end of the time zone, it’ll get light soon. My hotel is at about mile 23 to 24 along the Boston Marathon Course. I’m running in the opposite direction of the race. This means I’m running uphill for a couple miles until I pass Boston College. Before I reach BC I must turn right on Chestnut Hill at Cleveland Circle, and then left on Commonwealth Avenue. The rest of my run will take place on Comm Ave.

It’s starting to get a little lighter as I reach the top of the hill. Now, about 3.5 miles into my run, I’m looking down Heartbreak Hill. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen it from this perspective before. It occurs to me that this would be the best time to find the statue.

In 1996 a statue of Johnny Kelley was unveiled here on Heartbreak Hill. The hill is named after Kelley because during one of his 61 Boston Marathons, he had earlier passed the leader, Tarzan Brown, but was then in turn passed by Brown near the top of the hill. This reportedly broke Kelley’s heart. But here’s the thing about the statue: I’ve never seen it. I’ve run Boston 10 times, and probably seven of those were after the statue had been placed there. I guess I just don’t know where to look, but Heartbreak Hill really isn’t all that long (or steep, for that matter – but it’s enough to slow you down at mile 20). I figure it to be in the median area somewhere.

Now I’m usually fighting to keep my head up, and I’m usually aware of the crowds and the other runners at this point. So it may be at least a little understandable that I keep missing it. But it’s not for lack of looking. In any case, I’ll find it this time for sure. I head down, looking all around me. There are no cheering crowds. There are other runners, but most are running in the opposite direction: up.

I get the bottom, and I never see it. I’ll have another chance when I run back up however. I go on for another mile or so, including the next of the Newton Hills before I turn back. I’ve gone five miles out. Now the sun is starting to shine, so I’ll see the statue for sure.

Guess what? No statue. I head back to the hotel, enjoying the run and the memories of this great course. I suppose I can go through the rest of my life not having ever seen the statue. The run was nice enough anyway.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

What if Eleanor Roosevelt Could Fly?

Whilst on the Towpath during last Thursday’s early morning run, Dave hit me with a hypothetical query: what if I could no longer run? It was a good question, and it gave me pause. These types of questions also do something else to me: they remind me of a good old series of SNL skits based on extremely silly what-if hypothetical problems. Two that come to mind are, What if Eleanor Roosevelt Could Fly, and What if Napoleon had a Nuclear Bomb at the Battle of Waterloo?

For his part, Dave, good and serious runner that he is, would be just fine if he couldn’t run. Having a young family tends to help focus one’s priorities. Me? Oh, I’d be fine too. Running isn’t *that* big a part of my life.

I’d probably no longer work at the store, but that would be all right. The income is small, and I wouldn’t miss the friends I’ve made amongst my fellow workers and customers.

I would quit being involved with the Medina County Road Runners. No problem there. Oh, maybe I’d miss my many close friends there a little, but this still wouldn’t be a problem for me.

I would probably stop directing races, including NC24. This would give me lots of extra time and relieve me of some extraneous stress. I’d also no longer volunteer at races, freeing up even more time.

I’d have to find something else to do with my Saturday and Sunday mornings. This shouldn’t be a problem. I could start by sitting around and reading the paper. For that matter, I’d have to find something else to do with almost every early morning and maybe try sleeping in.

There would be no more racing every two or three weeks. I wouldn’t miss the competition and pressure to train and perform well at these events. And I wouldn’t miss seeing all my competitor friends at them. No, in fact I wouldn’t miss that competition at all.

Of course I wouldn’t have running to keep me in mental and physical shape. These are both of equal importance, and running is one of the best, if not *the* best thing for them. But I’d find alternatives. Sure.

Yeah, I would be fine if I could no longer run. Perhaps my life would be even better. Any more hypotheticals?

After last Thursday’s run, I ran Saturday morning with some of the usual bunch at Lock 29. We went south on the Towpath for a change, and wound up doing the 5-mile Perkins loop just ahead of the Bill’s Bad Ass 50K on the same course. What a blast that was?

Brian and Ginny came to visit Saturday and Sunday. I took Brian to Hinckley and we did the big loop together, a bit slower than the rest of the gang. More fun.

After two relatively easy weekend runs, I thought I’d be ready for a strong 11-mile training run on Monday. Think again. For reasons I can’t figure out, I failed to get down to tempo pace that morning. To atone, I hit the mill to do 3 miles at 6 minute pace, as I’d done last week. Monday night Connie, Ladd, Bob, Janet and I scouted trails at Buckeye Woods Park. I think we’ll be able to pull off an ultra there.

Tuesday was better: I did two tempo runs – four out of the six-mile loop, and then the entire Presidents three-mile loop.

What was that question again? What if I couldn’t run? I’d just ….. aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Two Tempo Trots Today, Track Tonight

This was actually last Tuesday's Title (Hey, I could've prefaced the above title with "Tuesday's Title:"! But the point is that I've been running fairly hard lately. And based on the result at Stomp the Grapes, I think it's working. It's not that I'm running all that much faster - I still have terribly slow leg speed - I've just been doing more of my runs at a faster pace, including several tempo runs per week. Oh, I'm still taking rest days and getting occasional slow stinker runs. I will be trying hard to run next weekend's Fall Classic Half even faster than STG.

Other news:
1) I'm managing to survive without Debbie. But I don't like it. I think I said that right.
2) Brian and daughter Ginny are coming to visit tomorrow. It's been years.
3) My consulting work is picking up. In fact I've been downright busy lately.
4) There's most likely other non-running stuff going on in my life, but I can't for the life of me think of any of it right now.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Grapes Well Stomped

I don't know when or if I'd ever beaten Ron Legg before. Perhaps when he was injured; perhaps never at all. But I had begun to see him ahead of me between miles 10 and 11, and eventually overtook him a bit before the 12-mile mark. There were some big hills remaining, and I wasn't sure I'd be able to maintain my advantage, but I had been coming on strong since mile 10, and Ron looked to be slowing. We grunted good luck to each other as I went by, and I did manage to stay ahead, as I also passed a couple others.

Yes, I was having a good run at the 2010 Stomp the Grapes Half-Marathon. I had also been entertaining thoughts of breaking the 55-59 age group record of 1:27:4x. When I hit mile 12 in 1:21 flat, I thought there was still a very slight, itsy-bitsy possibility. Although I'd been running faster and faster, the last mile would need to be my fastest of all - a low 6 minutes, considering that the final point-1 would need to be factored in as well.

But then I hit the hills. They weren't that much worse in the last mile than anywhere else in the second half of the course, but they were enough to ensure that there would be no record in the geezer age group today. I finished in 1:28:25. Best in years, and good enough for First Grand Geez... I mean Grand Master. Not too shabby.

The race was high on the hassle factor scale: 12 noon start, being bussed to the start after the finish (and waiting a long time), having to arrive very early, etc., etc. But, the rewards were good: wine, good shirts, socks and a hat, and then a $25 gift certificate for my win. That would only buy me one bottle of wine and a bit of cheese, but that was better than nothing.

As always, the best part was the fun being with the MCRR folks. As usual, we had a good contingent, and you just can't beat the camaraderie. The icing on the cake? I beat my arch-rival Jan!

Okay, one more thing. I have to tell the story of the shoes. Connie came into work shortly after me on Friday. She tried on a pair of shoes that she had special ordered for herself, some Mizuno Ronin racing flats. They were much to big for her, and we realized that she'd ordered and received a men's and not a women's shoe - they are unisex sized. So of course I tried them on, and they fit perfectly.

I tried to pay Connie, and she wouldn't take the money. She said that if I could run a minute faster than my best 1/2 marathon of the year using the new shoes, she would allow me to pay her for them. What if I can't? "Then I'll just take them back," she said. Never mind that returns weren't allowed, I just wouldn't have deserved them. Also never mind that my incentive was kind've backward. Wouldn't I have tried harder to run fast if it would *save*, and not *cost me* money? Never mind. This was Connie logic at work.

With my 1:28, I did indeed earn the honor of paying for the shoes.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Stop the Fun!

Yes, the fun is getting to be too much for me. It needs to stop.

Last week Debbie and I "Hiked Ohio", by going to Mohican one day, and then to Hocking Hills and Salt Fork another couple days at the end of the week. Wonderful hiking trails, all. And we were lucky to have great fall weather too. But the fun was only beginning.

Saturday, after my morning run on the towpath with my MCRR friends, after putting in a few hours at the store, we attended a clambake/get-ready-for-Jamaica party at Sandy and Nancy's. Now the fun was really getting going.

Sunday, of course, was the most fun of all. Debbie and I were in charge of the Pine Hollow aid station for Run with Scissors. Arriving before 5am, we, along with a great team of helpers, set everything up and prepared for the onslaught of runners. The crowds of runners thinned out quickly, and tapered down more and more as the day wore on. It felt cold and raw, so we had a huge bonfire going in the pit. That saved us! We were done by about 5pm and then hurried back to the start to unload our supplies and head home.

Why the rush? It was trick-or-treat night, silly.

Enough fun.

Hinckley is Back

Okay, okay. Hinckley never really left. But a lot of us did; we hadn't been meeting there for our Sunday morning runs for quite some tim...