Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Two Terrible Tempo Tries = Foolish Fartlek

Now that I've been pain-free for a month or so, it sure would be nice, methinks, to add some quality. If I could.

I may have noted in the past that I have been doing speedwork: 1200 meter repeats - on the mill. But I don't do very good with them. I have this nasty habit of stepping off or holding on to the mill rails when things get tough. Even if I didn't do those things, mill running still isn't the same as the real thing.

So I have been trying to get outside more. It helps when the weather isn't downright terrible, and it really hasn't been so bad lately. The problem occurs when I combine outside running with any kind of quality. For this week's runs I tried on two occasions to get down to tempo pace. By my own definition, a tempo run is three or more consecutive sub-seven minute miles. If you guessed that I wasn't able to do so for these two runs, you'd be right. Since I did speed up and slow down at times, I called them fartlek runs. But even that's stretching things a bit.

And I know the reason why I am unable to do tempo runs anymore. I can't run three consecutive sub-seven minute miles because I can't run one consecutive seven-minute mile.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Runners are always much less concerned about revealing their age than non-runners. I suppose this has something to do with age group competition at running events. I therefore do not think that my long-time friend and running partner Brian Peacock will mind if I announce that it's his seventy-fifth birthday. In fact, Brian probably won't mind if I point out that 75 years is three-quarters of a century! I could go on...

His family asked friends to send any "Brian stories" they could come up with, so that they could put them together for his perusal (I'm sure this will happen at a party - I am sure it'll be a fun one. Wish I could be there.) Here are my Brian stories, written a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away:


Excerpt from an article I wrote for Marathon & Beyond  (the Eccentricities of a Long Distance Runner):

…Speaking of shoes, here’s another case: Brian. My longtime friend runs as much as anyone and can certainly afford to purchase new running shoes. He doesn't in fact, buy any. How does he manage to train for and run marathons year in and year out without buying shoes? Simple. He accepts charity donations of everyone else’s old worn-out shoes. For his latest birthday party, he opened an aromatic box containing more than 20 pair of used running shoes. Such is the value placed on Brian’s participation in the Foxes and Hounds Great Lakes Relay Team. Brian tells me that the sizes of the donated shoes do not matter all that much to him. Lately he has been getting injured a bit more often and he’s actually wondering why.

Excerpt from an article I wrote for Marathon & Beyond  (Running’s Woodstock A Look Back at the 100th Boston Marathon):

…This was but a minor problem, however. The race and the entire weekend had been an unqualified success. Almost without exception, runners praised the event as something they would remember for the rest of their lives. This marathon, of course, was still 26 miles and thus not necessarily any easier than any other. One tired runner, hearing others gush about how great an event it was, exclaimed, “And the best part is, it’s over.” (Guess who that was.)

A story from the Great Lakes Relay in Michigan:

At one point, Brian was running and was about to hand off to me.  I decided to make the old guy sprint at the end of his run to tag me. It worked, getting a gasp out of him and a laugh from everyone else.  It just so happened that my next leg was also after one of Brian's.  This time I started slowly to give him a break. But some gratitude- instead of tagging my hand, he pulled down my shorts! This resulted in still bigger laughter from the onlookers.

Excerpt from my Book, The Long and Shorts of It:

Speaking of old age and cunning, on a later run I observed our friend Brian Peacock, who in turn surpasses me in both characteristics, employ a slightly more  direct technique: that of pushing Geoff toward some bushes before beginning The Sprint To The Finish.

It was while reflecting on these types of experiences that Brian first told me the story of the old bulls and the young bulls. Perhaps you've heard it before; it goes something like this:

There were two pastures divided by a fence with a gate. The higher one contained an old bull and a young bull; the other one had several very desirable and good-looking (to the bulls) cows. One day after the farmer left the gate between the pastures open, the young bull said, "Hey Old Bull, the gate to the cows is open! Let's run down there and smooch a few of them!" (Author's note: verbs other than smooch could possibly be substituted here, but since this is a family oriented publication...) The old bull then said, "Nope. Let's saunter on down there slowly and smooch the whole lot of them!"

I'm not sure exactly what this has to do with shoving Geoff in the bushes, but Brian can always come up with some kind of explanation.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Eighteen Good Miles

One of my many favorite episodes of Saturday Night Live features Steve Martin as Theodoric of York, Medieval Judge. After hours (well, minutes) of searching the web, I've satisfied myself that the video does not exist. But the transcript does, and there we can see where today's post title came from:

Theodoric of York: Wait a minute – perhaps she’s right. Maybe the King doesn’t have a monopoly on the truth. Maybe he should be judged by his peers. Oh! A jury! A jury of his peers. Of six good men! No wait! Eight good men! No!! Ten good men!! No, that’s not enough… 18 good men!! No, that’s TOO MANY. Let’s see… 11 good men! Wait! 13 good men! No… 11, 13, 11, 13… it doesn’t matter. Okay. But everyone should be tried by a jury of their peers and be equal before the law. And perhaps, every person should be free from cruel and unusual punishment. 

[ Theodoric takes a brief pause. ] 

Theodoric of York: Nah!!

I just love that - and the '18 good men' is what made me think of running 18 good miles today. Too bad it didn't happen. I did nine slow miles out on the roads, followed by a pit stop, followed by an inability to get myself back outside, followed by seven even lousier miles on the mill. So instead of 18 good miles, I did 16 bad ones.

Dan: Wait a minute - perhaps I couldn't run those miles today because my body needed an easier day. Maybe I'll have a good day another time, when I'm well rested. Maybe I should instead concentrate on doing six good miles!... No that's not enough... Maybe 20 good miles... No that's too many. Let's see... 11 good miles! Wait! 13 good miles! No... 11, 13, 11, 13... it doesn't matter. But everyone should only try to do what they're capable of, and no more. Every person should be free of cruel and unusual training.

(Dan takes a brief pause.)

Dan: Nah!!

By the way, one video that I was able to find is the companion skit, Theodoric of York, Medieval Barber. Check it out.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

There's Speed, There's Strength, and Then...

...there's what I have. Which, of course, is nuthin.

Sorry about all the ... in the titles lately. I'll behave better. I promise.

The good news is that the knee pain is slowly subsiding. I don't know if it's something I was able to do for myself - like taking the Glucosamine, or doing even more stretching and strengthening - or if it's just something that had to run its course. Ain't that always the case? I do know that it definitely has helped to take it easy for the past couple months. Maybe half my miles have been on the mill, and most of the outdoor ones have been at an easy pace. Oh, and the mileage has been down as well; my last several weeks have seen between 50 and 60 miles.

Now, about that strength and speed, or lack thereof: I do try to pick up the mill pace sometimes, even doing 1200 meter repeats or tempo runs on occasion. These probably help a little, but they don't constitute real running. Today I tried to do a tempo run outside for a change, and could only manage a tiny bit better than eight minute pace. That's it for speed; it's as fast as I can go.

And as for strength, it ain't there neither. I simply cannot seem to run more than 13 to 15 miles without completely tuckering.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining about any of this; just stating the facts. Simply being able to run without pain is something to be eternally grateful for. May it continue for a long time to come.

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...