Sunday, July 29, 2012

Miles and Miles

I'm back. Back to doing long runs - and reasonably successfully - that is.

My most recent little injuries are beginning to subside, and once in a great while, the miserable heat subsides too. But that heat and my mom's medical problems have made it challenging. I tried to work in some quality earlier in the week. It wasn't spectacular, and I wound up shuffling home those times.

But Friday, despite high heat and humidity, I got out early and did another 30-miler. Like the last (good) time, I did many of the miles at the track. And also like that time, I averaged about 9 minutes a mile, with the last few being the bestest.

I'll take it.

Overall weekly mileage is still hovering around 70. That's okay, but with NC24 coming up, I'll need to step it up sometime.

Speaking of miles, I was the generator delivery man for the Burning River 100-Mile race this year. It felt good to be helpful, but I'm not so sure I want to keep spending so much time volunteering. I may cut that back some.

My Mom (Absolutely No Running Content)

Sorry about this non-running-related post.

We knew it had to happen sometime. Mom would either fall and break a hip, come down with pneumonia, or have some kind of major heart problem. It was the former. But why did it have to happen when I was responsible?

A week and a half ago, Dave, Carol and Mom came over. We went to lunch, and then sat at our house and talked. I had to go to work, so I said I'd drop Mom off at her assisted living home since it's on the way. She and I went into the garage, and I let go of her for one second so as to close the door behind us. Mom tripped over our board as she tried to make her own way between the two cars.

I've played the scene over in my mind a million times. It's almost like a dream. It was only for a second that I'd let go of her. She fell so slowly and almost gracefully. I almost could have reached and caught her, even though I had been reaching back to close the door. Right away, she said, "I broke my hip". We got EMS to take her to SW General.

I can't even say how terrible I feel about all this. Everyone has been extremely understanding, saying it could have happened to anyone at any time. I know. But why me? A few days earlier I had visited her at her assisted living place, and when I was leaving, she told the lady sitting nearby, "He's such a good son".

After a couple days in the hospital, she had surgery. This was scary because no one knew if her heart could take it. It did, and the operation was successful.

The recovery has not been as good as I thought it would be. We understood that it would take time, and that it would be tough for her to walk again. But she's having trouble with just about everything that requires movement. A week after the surgery, she was moved to a nursing home. We had done some extensive research to find a good one for her.

She's getting good care now. They are very intent on getting her back to her former level of movement and independence through physical and occupational therapy. If she can get at least mostly back, she can return to her assisted living home. If not, she'll probably need to stay at the nursing home.

The recovery is still problematic. She has good days and bad days. Since the surgery, she has been more confused than ever. They say it's due to the anesthetic. We've been visiting every day.

All of this happened in the midst of our visitation from Veronica, Barry and Malcolm. As much as Debbie and I were worried about Mom, and as much as we had to go and visit, we thoroughly enjoyed that visit. We did some fun stuff, like the beach, a family picnic and the Great Lakes Brewery. But we mostly had fun with Malcolm.

He is a real joy. And he seemed to have fun too. But here's the thing. He likes me. This is quite unusual, for kids are sometimes a little afraid of me. Other times, they are just cautious and standoff-ish with me. I don't take it personally; I just accept it.

Not Malcolm. He actually seeks me out to run (yes, run - walking always turns into running) with him, or to play in some other way. He seems to light up when he sees me. He calls both Debbie and me "Momma"!! (There's only the one "Dada".) What a joy.

Monday, July 16, 2012

How Not to do a Long Run

My last post was about how to run a 30-miler. I wrote that after a fairly successful long run, which resulted in me being reasonably happy with myself. Today I'll let you know how not to do such a thing.

0) Plan to do thirty miles, just like last week.
1) Don't visit with friends, eat wings and drink a couple glasses of wine the night before.
2) Don't take a couple prunes before bed in hopes that they will help move all the mail through.
3) Don't get an awful night's sleep the night before - partly due to the warm and humid conditions and partly due to those prunes on top of all that food and drink.
4) Don't get up at 2-something because you can't sleep.
5) Don't get out the door at 3:20am - well earlier than even *I* had hoped for.
6) Don't stumble back home after the first seven miles in search of a bathroom and more refreshments. This is already not going like last week's run.
7) Don't go out and do an 11-mile loop after the first 7.
8) (This one's important) Don't step on a stick with one foot, simultaneously hitting it head-on and tripping over it with the other, causing a sharp pain in the butt. This was an instant pull of some glute or upper hamstring muscle. Ouch. This is *definitely* not going like last week's run.
9) Don't let an incident such as the one in 8 rattle you. Or stop you dead in your tracks. Like it did to me.
10) Don't walk / stumble / struggle home after the incident described in 8. Of course there was no other way.
11) Don't only do two more miles at an 11+ minute pace because you're shot.
12) Don't resolve never to have a lousy run like this again.

The end.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

How to Run 30 Miles ~or~ Dan the Man with the Plan: Out the Door Before Four for the Track Attack

Plans are usually good things to have. As Dan always says, a failure to plan is a plan to fail. The funny thing about plans is that if you don't follow them, they really aren't always all that great. But then once in a while, the new, improved plan still works.

But I'm sure you tuned in because you want to know how to run 30 miles. Here's how I do it, in cookbook format:

1) Wake up and get out of bed 25 minutes before the 3:20am alarm.
2) Plan to get out the door before four (am, that is).
3) Drink 2 cups of coffee; eat 2 nectarines.
4) Take some water and Endurolytes.
5) Struggle mightily to get the compression shorts and socks on.
6) Stumble out the door at 3:58am. At this point, things are still going according to plan.
7) Wander the three miles over to Brunswick High School. Notice along the way that OH-303 is still closed at the intersection of Troon due to yesterday's water main break.
8) Find the track <>. This is significant because up until a couple days ago, I hadn't found it open for something on the order of a year. I did manage to run there Tuesday morning, so I knew that this was a possibility.
9) Re-plan. At this point I am already *not* according to plan: the part of the plan that said that the 30 miles would be made up of five six-mile loops. This was so that I could keep returning home for short breaks and proper hydration and nutrition. Once I stepped on the track, I was already more than three miles away from home. The re-planning resulted in a new plan to do three ten-mile runs. Each one would include the three miles to the track, four miles on the track, and the three back home.
10) Wander around the track.
11) After running a bit over four miles, re-plan. This time decide to run two fifteen-mile runs. This means nine miles at the track plus the three there and three back each time. Don't ask why the decision was made to stay longer, because I don't have an answer.
12) Wander around the track some more. Do almost all these miles at just under nine-minute pace. Switch directions to avoid turning the same way all the time. Stop for h2o once or twice.
13) After nine miles at the track, run home to complete the first fifteen, feeling pretty beat.
14) Get more hydration and nutrition, a bottle of Heed, and head back out the door.
15) Wander over to the track once again. Now it's getting light. Decide on a whim to (instead of hitting the track) run around the high school and across 303 to near Brunswick Lake and the Nature Center. Who knows why?
16) Re-plan. Decide that the most recent two-fifteen miler plan wasn't all that bad, so go back to the track to do as much of that as possible.
17) Wander around the track.
18) Try to pick up the pace just a bit. Actually manage to do this successfully - at least down to 8:30-8:45 pace, thanks to a little help from the energy gels and Heed.
19) After seven or so track miles, determine that the total is 27, so begin to head home. The last two had been the fastest. Fancy that.
20) Stumble home, arriving four hours, twenty-nine and half minutes after the start.
21) Strest. (That's a combination of stretch and rest.

Friday, July 06, 2012

There once was an ancient runner in Brunswick

There once was an ancient runner in Brunswick
Who in past years fancied himself quite quick
But those days are long past
For today he’s not so fast
And to run at all is some kind of trick

When you wake up before 3am and are out the door running before 4am, things like this begin to bounce around in your head.

Among the other things bouncing up there were the "Questions Without Answers". You know the type. Stuff like:

How did I manage to gain seven pounds over three days?
How could Wednesday's 5K be so fast, whilst the associated 10K is so slow?
What's with those flying pink elephants I'm seeing?
And of course the kicker: Why am I doing this?

This, of course, is running at the ungodly hour of 4am. But I do actually have an answer for that one. Sort of.

I've got Moebius (maybe) and then NC24 on my horizon. This means I need to begin adding some miles. I'd been planning on about 24 today, but when I awoke 40 minutes earlier than my alarm, I started thinking 30. And with the heat index forecast for 110+ degrees today (real temps on the order of 97-98 up in cooler Cleveland), it's best to get going early.

So was it 24 or 30? Neither. I did three 6-mile loops, returning home for refreshments each time. At that point my legs were beginning to tire and it was getting hot, but I started running with friendly neighbor Rita Annes. That was helpful, as it's almost always better to run with someone else, and I did indeed need the company at that point. We did 6-7 together, and then I did a couple more to make 26 altogether.

I'll be sure to post something when I have the other answers.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

The Fourth 'H'

During the summer months, runners often note that this or that race was subject to the Three H's: Hills, Heat and Humidity. The Medina Twin Sizzler 10K has them in spades, as it was especially hot and humid for this edition. I would like to add a fourth H to the mix: Humility.

The Sizzler is held on the 4th of July every year, and the entire Medina town square is buzzing with activity. Besides the 10K, there's a 5K, a 1-mile kids run, a walk, and various bicycle races. Just about everyone from the MCRR, and it seems, everyone from Medina is there.

You probably believe that I'm done talking about Four H's, and am ready to begin some long and boring description of my race(s). You would be almost right. But first there's at least one more instance of Four H's,

As I was getting out of my car to pick up my 5K and 10K bibs and shirt, a gentleman approached and asked me about the wording on my shirt. The front has the MCRR logo, and the back says, "Hinckley Hills, Serious Runners Only." I explained who the MCRR is, and that we run the hills in Hinckley almost every Sunday. I naturally tried to recruit him. He said he'd look us up. He was with a younger looking woman, and he said his name is Dennis.

After the 5K but before the 10K, I bumped into Tom Bieniosek, who happened to be talking with Dennis, whom, I'd met just 45 minutes before. It turns out that Dennis also has the last name of Horvath. The young woman was his daughter, and his wife was there as well. So there we were, four Horvaths, or another instance of Four H's.

On to the races. I haven't done very many of these 5K/10K type things of late. There's a bunch of reasons, not the least of which is my plethora of injuries along with the resulting lack of fitness, over the past year or so. Now that I'm beginning to feel better, even though I've still lost so much speed and strength, I have to begin again somewhere. And the Sizzler was the ticket; you just gotta do the Sizz.

After saying hello to gobs of my MCRR buddies before the start of the 5K, we were off. Everyone screams down that first hill, and then pays for it next mile and a half. Not me. I took it fairly easy for the first mile, and then tried to pick it up for the second. Well, that didn't quite go as planned, as both miles were a couple seconds over seven minutes.

Did I mention the heat? The 5K start was at 7:45am, so it wasn't too terrible yet. There was plenty of shade along the way. The humidity made it tough however. And of course, the humility.

I tried to pick it up some more for the third mile, and I think I actually succeeded this time. It's mostly downhill, with the final uphill at the end. My time was 21:02 on my watch.

That really isn't too terribly awful. It's better than last year (when I was still hurting from Mohican), but a minute slower than 2010.

For those that run the 5K in the 20 Minute range, there is a wait of nearly an hour before the start of the 10K. Some people hang around and talk, and take in refreshments during this time. My plan was to keep running, albeit easily, in order to stay loose and also get in some extra mileage. Well, that didn't quite go as planned, as I did jog a bit, but mostly talked with people such as the aforementioned Tom and Dennis, among others.

Now that the 9am 10K start was rolling around, the temperature was getting up there. In my mind, I could see the mercury shooting up to the top of the thermometer, and then exploding out the top. Or, as someone in FaceBook recently said, someone set the thermostat to 'hell'.

The 10K features more hills and less shade than the 5K. What's not to like? My plan for this one was to take it easy, and just run a steady pace. Well, that didn't quite go as planned. My mile times varied by as much as 20 seconds, but I think this was mostly due to the hills. I mostly averaged about 7:30 per mile.

And did I mention the heat? Oh yeah, I guess I did.

I came in at something like 47:15 on my watch. That's fearfully slow for the Dan of a couple years ago, but once again better than last year. No matter how you slice it, this 10K is always a tough one.

I took third in my age group for each race. The awards always seem to take forever, but it's a good time to kibbutz even further with friends.

The next day Joe Herbert informed me that my photo had appeared in the Medina Gazette. It's actually quite telling.

Sunday, July 01, 2012


Guy on his wedding night starts by taking his socks off. "What happened to your toes?" asked his new bride. The guy answers, "Toelio." She says, "You mean polio." "No, toelio," he goes on, "It's a childhood disease I had that leaves the toes all mangled and bent like this."

Next he takes his pants off. "What's wrong with your knees?" asks the bride. "Kneasels" he replies. "You must mean measles." "No, it was kneasles, a childhood disease that leaves the knees crooked and malformed like this."

When he takes is undershorts off, she says, "Don't tell me. Let me guess: you had Smallcox."

Now back to toelio. I call my black toenail that. It's my left big toe, and it's good and black. And painful. The worst part is that I seem to keep injuring it further, driving it to become even more black. Now I can put up with that little bit of pain, but last time I lost a big toenail, it wound up - six months later - becoming a *large* amount of pain. That would be when I had to extract it with the pliers because it was coming off anyway.

One root cause seems to be my Salomon XR Mission shoes. Gotta stop wearing those for anything more than a few miles.

Speaking of a few miles, I did do a few in them yesterday: 23 towpath ones to be exact. I've been hitting the TP fairly regularly for my Saturday medium to long runs. And of course there's always Hinckley on Sundays.

I think things are looking up a bit. The fact that my main malady of the moment is toelio, and not severe butt pain or PF, is telling. Those other problems haven't been 100% eradicated, but they have improved. 

It doesn't hurt to run any more!!! (in a small voice, at least not too much.)

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...