Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hinckley X 3

After a couple good night's sleeps in a row, I find myself awake at 2am. The night splint/boot that I wear at night for my Plantar Fasciitis is bugging me as usual. But even after I tear it off, I still can't get back to sleep. The PF seems a bit better these days, but this little bout of insomnia is no fun either.

At 3am I get up and realize that by default, I've made a decision. I will get to Hinckley at 4am. We're there every Sunday, and I'm one of the organizers / regulars. The runs traditionally begin at 7am and include a big loop around Hinckley Metropark. This means starting at the Spillway parking lot, going east on Bellus, turning onto Parker which becomes Harter, then turning onto Medina Line, Ledge, Kellogg and Hinckley Hills before the return onto Bellus and back into the parking lot. It's a beautiful 9.2 mile route that circumnavigates the park, getting away from it in a couple places. And, oh yes, it's quite hilly. The entire course is rolling, but there are two really notable hills: the one starting out onto Bellus Road, and the one about half-way through on Ledge that we affectionately refer to as "Effie". (When we were discussing possible names for her, Angie Kovaks said, "I just call it, 'F' This Hill.")

I arrive just a bit after 4am. It's cold and there's snow about. Yesterday's cold was really down there - -4F when we (Debbie, Michelle, Brad and I) began our run on the parkway - but today's +10 to 12F actually feels colder. The difference is the wind and the snow; they make it feel colder. The snow on the roads makes footing bad, and this also contributes to the overall difficulty.

Since a loop takes anywhere from 75 to 85 or more minutes, I must hurry. It's difficult, but I manage to arrive back within a minute or two of 5:30am. That's just in time to talk to Jack before he takes off on his 5:30 loop. There are often other 5:30 runners as well, but today there is only Jack. And me. I tell Jack that he can begin without me as I need to go to the car for refreshments.

It turns out that I never catch him until the very end of the loop; we each wind up running alone. There is even more snow on the road this second time around, and I run the loop about two minutes slower.

As Jack and I return to the Spillway lot, a small throng of runners has gathered for the 7am loop. This is usually when we have the most folks, and today is no different. I am surprised to be able to keep up with Connie, Bob and Dave during that initial climb on Bellus. It's after the hill when I find I can no longer hang with them.

I run the next mile or two with Michelle, but eventually find that I can't keep up with her either. I'm getting slower and slower as I arrive at the base of Effie to have some refreshments out of Jack's stash. I'm beginning to seriously doubt whether I'll be able to finish this loop at all. Jack arrives at our aid station just after I do, and after some gel and sports drink, we tackle Effie together.

The weather has actually gotten worse; the snow is still slippery, and the wind is at least as cold now as when I began.

Somehow, I manage to stay with Jack for the remainder of the loop. It isn't easy, and I suspect that he slowed down just to help me out. The gel probably helped as well. I shuffle back to the Spillway lot for the last time, say goodbye to Jack and the rest, get into my car and drive home.

Debbie is waiting; she had come home yesterday to visit for the week. We will spend the day visiting Mom and then going to a concert at BW put on by Bob Mayerovitch. We have dinner with Bob and Laura, and also Mike and Judy George.

Whew. What a day.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

TM=PF

Got an email from Dave whilst I was in Omaha! (Note that Omaha is always followed by an '!'. There are no exceptions.) He had run long and hard on his treadmill and wound up with plantar fasciitis, or something just like it. The funny thing is that I was beginning to suffer from PF myself at that moment, and I'd also been doing too much treadmill running due to the bad weather in Omaha! I'd never before considered that the mill itself could be the cause of my own occasional bouts with the PF, but who knows?

Speaking of the mill, four days in a row was tough, but what made it tougher was my limited choice of tv stations. What I wound up with was the Patty Duke show as well as Mr. Ed. Not that I ever forgot them, but I'm now really, really good at knowing the lyrics to their respective theme songs.

I missed the usual Saturday run because of a missed air connection and becoming stranded in Detroit. Sunday I did two big loops as I'd done the previous week, but I even added a lap around the lake this time.

Back to the pain. I'm fighting this PF thing tooth and nail. I'm using the boot, stretching, strengthening, walking around the house in my Keens, etc., etc. My other pain is coming from my wrist, and this one is even more puzzling. It's most likely a sprain cause by lifting weights, but I really don't know for sure; it just started to hurt.

Reminds me about the time Spock did the mind meld with the Horta:

[opening his mind-meld with the Horta]
Mr. Spock: [crying] PAIN! PAIN!

And so on.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Weight Weight, Don't Tell Me

165. But don't tell anyone.

That's ten (10) pounds over my fighting weight.

This happens every year about this time. A couple at Thanksgiving, a couple at Christmas, a couple during the vacation (this year only), one or two more at New Years'. Pretty soon it starts adding up to some real fat.

I don't know why I thought this year might be different. I suppose one reason is that I have indeed been keeping my mileage up. The other reason is that it happened so gradually, and seems to continue getting worse, even now that the holidaze are over.

No wonder that 3:36 marathon was so tough. I was carrying a piano the whole way!

Epiphany

Not in the religious sense. It was a "sudden intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience."

I'd been running on the towpath with Dave. At 19F it felt pretty cold, and the snow - enough to cover the ground - was falling at a steady rate. Although the towpath surface was uneven frozen mud in places, I had thoroughly enjoyed our 11-mile run together. Dave had to take off, and I decided to run a few more miles.

I went south from Red Lock this time; the opposite direction I'd run with Dave. Now it was a little after 7am, and the darkness was just beginning to give way to early morning daylight. The snow was still falling. The two nearby ski resorts were brightly lit up in the distance. There wasn't another soul on the towpath, or anywhere else nearby. All this taken together made the experience seem almost unreal. Surreal, and beautiful beyond description.

That's when it hit me - the epiphany: This is why I run.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Landis Loonies Marathon


"Now I *know* I've seen you at races before. I recognize that straining grimace on your face." Randy Crowder, whom I had met for the first time that morning, and I had been running together for almost the entire way. Near the end of the third of four 6.55 mile Landis Loonies Marathon loops, he made this statement. We had each previously mentioned that we'd *thought* we'd seen each other at other races - probably Columbus or Akron. The grimace made him sure of it.

I replied that if I'm grimacing with 7 or 8 miles to go, this was not a good sign.

What better way to start off the new year but with a marathon? Don't say a 24-hour run. That gem was last year's folly. This year it would be more mainstream stuff: a little small-town marathon. The Landis boys, Kevin and Keith, set this one up. All along I thought they were brothers, but it turns out that Kevin is Keith's uncle. They are nevertheless fairly close in age, and both good runners. And they did a good job of setting this little run up for us. I say little because there were only about seven starters and five finishers. A couple other runners joined in at times.

Did I mention the wind and rain? The temperatures fluctuated between the upper 40s and the lower 50s; pretty good for New Year's Day morning. But the rain and wind never quit. The rain was in the form of a downpour at times, but was mostly fairly light. The wind made the whole thing challenging however.

The whole bunch: Ladd Clifford, whom I drove to New London with, Joey Curtis, a high school runner doing his first marathon, Randy, Keith and Kevin, mostly stayed together for the first two loops. The second had been faster than the first. I didn't linger very long at the start/finish aid station, and only Randy ran the third loop with me. That's when we had the above-mentioned conversation.

Sure enough, I was straining a bit on the fourth loop. It was quite an effort to keep the pace up, and I did, in fact, slow a little. Randy had been slowing down in order to stay with me, but decided to pick it up for the final mile and finished a minute and a half ahead of me. Too bad I couldn't hang with him - tying for a marathon victory would've been nice.

Not that anyone would, or should have called this little event a race. It was really just a fun run. And it really was.

The only concern: my time, 3:36 was something like my fifth slowest marathon. I'm fine with that since it was such a low-key event and the wind/rain was tough. But it was a *tough* 3:36. It should've been easy; it wasn't.

It was dark in the park

It was dark in the park, Goes the snark remark. Today’s runner tried to be quick off the mark, But with the dark so stark, H...