Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Well Here's Mine

It seems that everyone's posting year end summaries, so here's mine. It sounds like one of my race reports: I did okay for a while, and then the wheels fell off. Even my 'okay' running wasn't as good as last year's, but it sure beat not running at all for two months in the summer. I'm doing just slightly better these days. Finishing BW50K was an accomplishment.

2,074 miles for the year (the least since 1987). Total time for this madness is 13 days, 4 hours, so my average pace per mile is about 9:10 (the worst since forever). But the best part about the year is doing this along with all my running friends, new and old. MCRR is the best. And 2015 can only get better, right?

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Twelve Good Miles

When discussing our anniversary, and/or how long we've been married, I'll often say, "we've had ten good years of marriage." And then I'll add that we were actually married in 1975. The math speaks for itself. I did run twelve good miles today, but it's too bad that the length of the run was eighteen.

The three-forty-five A.M. alarm came early. After figuring out where I was and who I was, I also remembered that it was Christmas Day. I also remembered that I was about to do a long run, since that's what I do on Christmas; at least some Christmases. I've actually had some epic 20 to 25 milers in the cold and snow on Christmases past. I'd be happy if I could get 18 on today's relatively mild (about 37F with very light rain/snow and wind) Christmas Day.

Why so early? Well, it takes time to run that far, especially at my slow pace. And I had committed to meeting women in dark places once again. This had been the topic of conversation at last night's Christmas Eve Party. Today it would be Brunswick Lake at 6 A.M.

The lake is about two and a half miles from my house, but I take a four-mile route in order to avoid running on route 303. After a slow start, I gradually picked up my pace, getting to the lake in time to do one loop before Lisa Eliason and Debbie Scheel showed up.

The path around the lake is exactly one mile long. We did five loops together, and then Lisa had to leave. Debbie stayed to do two more, and those were the fastest of the bunch. I would then do two additional lake loops before heading back home.

But those two were much slower. And the final four were slower still. My Achilles was hurting badly, but I'm not entirely sure whether that's the cause or the effect of the slow pace. I hadn't felt it at all for the first twelve.

I'm going to have to do something about this pain thing.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Zero Dark Thirty, the Run

It's necessary to clarify the post title. We're not talking about Zero Dark Thirty, the Book, or Zero Dark Thirty, the Movie. No, this is Zero Dark Thirty, the Run. If I understand the term correctly, a Zero Dark Thirty Run is any run that occurs extra-early in the morning. Brian Rosenstock uses the name for the runs he organizes in Brunswick on Tuesday and Thursday early mornings.

Did I say early? How does 4:30 A.M. sound? I joined the group for the first time today, sort of on a whim. Whilst preparing to run from home (which is rare these days since I usually run when I get to work), I found myself exchanging Facebook messages with Patti Tomisello at about 4:10. She informed me that she was about to meet up with the group when I wondered what in the world she was doing up. I wound up running towards Brunswick Lake and almost literally bumping into the Zero Dark group as they came towards me in the early morning darkness.

Today's group consisted of Brian, Patti, Caitlin Oblander and about six women that I didn't know. We moved at a brisk pace up and down route 303, and then did several Brunsick Lake loops at an even brisker pace.

For my part, it was good to be able to keep up, especially after those last couple days of stinker-type runs. Once again, taking a vitamin I pill the night before helped.

Sunday, December 14, 2014


TW3 is the abbreviated name of an old TV show called, That Was The Week That Was.  It was a 1960's funny show about the news, not too dissimilar to the Daily Show and SNL's Weekend Update.

Since this blog is about my running, I suppose I ought to explain a bit further. Yes, I had a pretty good week of running: a couple ten-milers mid-week, and then eleven in Brecksville yesterday and thirteen at Hinckley today. So I'm getting the miles in. The best part is that my pace is also generally improving. I now average around nine-ish, and sometimes I can run somewhat, though not a lot, faster than that.

Although it was a good solid week by modern standards, I still have a ways to go.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

BW50K, and Some Potential Subtitles

The main start of the BW50K.      John McCarroll photo
I ran the fifth annual Buckeye Woods 50K on Sunday, November 30, 2014. For the title of this post, I had planned to also add a subtitle. But then I started to come up with too many. So instead I decided to list them all here in the body of the post.

Here they are, in absolutely no particular order, along with explanations...

Subtitle 1: Falling for the Course

I double-dog-dared myself to fall when I told Ron Ross that I most likely had run this course more than any other person on the planet, and that I had never fallen, even once. The reason I believe I hold this distinction (most runs, not not falling) is that I've run all four previous BW50K's, and also several training runs. So guess what? I fell on the very next loop. It was right where we never expect to fall, but so many of us do. I'm talking about the section where we turn onto the pine path out and back section. Yes, there are roots under those pine needles. And then I fell once again on the last loop, just for good measure. Nothing was broken either time. Except my pride, of course.

One of the early loops with John Pavlick and his daughter Katie.
I don't know the doggy's name. Photo by John McCarroll

Subtitle 2: I am the Reason I Could Run at all

Yes, the reason is I. Ibuprofen, that is. It's sometimes referred to (by runners, of course) as Vitamin I. I take some on occasion, trying hard to not ingest more than three or four tablets during a week's time. And I almost never take even so much as one before or during a run. But what with all my recent problems, including pain in both feet these days, I took a couple I's the previous day, and also some today before and during the run. And yes, I think that was a major factor in being able to run at all this day.

Subtitle 3: We Almost Cancelled it

Having made the promise that the weather was guaranteed or your money (it's free) back, new RD(she took over from I founded and directed the race for four years) Suzanne Pokorny and I almost cancelled the race. It was 61 degrees, for Pete's sake. The weather most definitely did not cooperate for this event for the past years. I wanted to announce that today's run would still be held, even if the weather's nice. Which it was. We did apologize to anyone who would listen,

Subtitle 4: A Timely Start

About eight of us took the 7:00 am early start option. Early starts are generally supposed to be for folks who may need extra time to complete the course. While that really wasn't a concern for some of use, it was for others. Including me.

Subtitle 5: Not the PW

There wasn't any kind of cutoff, and with the shape I was in, I really didn't have a time goal. My 50K Personal Worst time of 6:30 (at Buckeye Trail about 12 years ago) did loom however. After averaging roughly ten minutes a mile for my first three loops, I actually picked it up for the fourth. It helped to have Renee Harden as a companion for that one. She had won the 25K by averaging about 7:10 per mile, and then did a cooldown 5 miles at a somewhat slower 9:30 pace with me. Then it was time to gather my wits and change my shoes for the final ten miles. I knew they'd be slow, and of course they were - something on the order of 12 minutes per mile. I was extremely lucky to have two companions for these laps as well, however: Michelle Wolff and Maureen Oblander. We completed the fifth lap and began our sixth in 4:59. I suddenly realized that a goal of sub-six hours had been thrust upon me; I had an hour to run these final five. Looking at my watch with about a mile to go, I mentioned to Maureen and Michelle that we could do it, but we'd need to book. And book we did. I pulled ahead for that final sprint (such as it was), but all three of us made it in 5:59.

Subtitle 6: It Didn't Kill Me

Of course I was tired and sore. And of course my injuries hurt. But I remained vertical, and as of a couple days afterwards, I remain away from the morgue.

Yes, it really was warm out there. This was somewhere in the middle of the run.
That's Caitlin Oblander, on the way to her first ultra, with me.  Photo by John McCarroll

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Giving Thanks to the Grand Old Deity

Today is the day we're supposed to give thanks, so I'll give it a go.

Thanks to the Grand Old Deity - for this new pain. Yes, the agony in my right foot wasn't enough, so I got the one in my back. And just as that has been subsiding, just in time for Thanksgiving, just in time for Sunday's Buckeye Woods 50K, I've become blessed with a brand new affliction, this one in my left foot.

It hurts a great deal. I began hobbling last night during our pre-Thanksgiving Wednesday night family gathering. Hoping that a good night's sleep would help, I didn't give it too much thought as I went to sleep last night. But when I got out of bed this morning, I... wait for it ... could hardly walk at all.

This pain is different from the Achilles pain in my right foot in that it's on top and a bit towards the outside of my left foot. But it's similar to the other ache in that it causes me to hobble like Grandpappy Amos.

I did make it to the early morning run with friends, and the pain actually eased slightly during the run. My new hope is that if it feels better after six miles, it ought to feel just wonderful after thirty-one on Sunday.

Things can only get better. Where have we heard this before? Probably right here in a previous post.

So thanks, Deity of Mine. But next time, how about if you give someone else a reason to say thanks?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

My Month of Training

The back continues to improve; the Achilles continues to not improve. As before, I continue to try to run through it, but the weight continues to be up in the stratosphere, and I continue to be one of the slowest land mammals known to man. That pretty much sums up the continuing adventures of my semi-recovery.

At least I’m running farther. I’ve hit around 50 miles for each of the last four weeks. And I’ve been able to manage three twenty-milers in that time. Some of the long runs have been at Buckeye Woods Park, where I’ll be going for a finish at the annual BW50K run this Sunday. What with as slow as I am, I have no time goal whatsoever; I only want to finish.

I also didn’t have much of a time goal for yesterday’s 5K here at lunchtime at work. It was great fun, and I was actually happy to be able to run at about eight-minute pace. Yes, I know that’s painfully slow, but it’s not as painful as not running.

Tomorrow’s training will involve turkey and large quantities of other food and drink. Should be just what I need for Buckeye Woods.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

I Think I Can

The Little Engine That Could - that's me. Yesterday I shuffled around the Buckeye Woods lowlands 1.4 mile loop four times and then some, in order to have about seven when the Big Kids arrived at 6:00 a.m. Then I ran two of the five-mile loops with them, followed by another very slow three at the end. If my math is correct - and my GPS will back me up on this - that makes 20 miles.

Twenty miles is longer than any run I've done this year. It's the longest since last year's BW50K. And that's ironic, since that's where this run occurred, and it's also where I may try another 31 miler in a few short weeks.

This training run had been a test, and I guess I passed. Not that the running wasn't slow. It was. Especially that last painful mile. I say painful, as that should be a caveat to this whole thing. My Achilles is killing me. It's as bad as ever.

So I don't really know whether or not I'll go for the whole enchilada at BW50K. But I think I can.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Dreams and Reality

I'm running with the lead pack. It's kind of a goofy race, because we've come to a building with a glass front, and we've got to get through the door and up some stairs before continuing to race back on the roads. My friend Dave Gajewski is among the other runners that I'm running with. I feel good enough to take a lead on the stairway, and as we get back on the road, I accelerate and power on in to capture the Big Win. I haven't won a whole lot of races in my time, and to do it at my advanced age is icing on the cake.

I'm running in the park in the early morning darkness. I started fairly slowly, and slowed further for the uphill mile, but now I try to pick up the pace. I can't. My Achilles Tendinitis hurts so bad that I'm almost limping, and this prevents me from running with any kind of efficiency. I do finish the run, but it is most definitely not pretty.

Both runs happened within a few hours of each other. Guess which was the dream, and which was the reality.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


I was having an awful run. I'd started slow and was getting slower and slower as I trudged through the park in the early morning darkness. I wasn't too upset though - I'd had two relatively decent runs the day before - a morning seven, and an evening four, all at a decent pace. But now I was paying the price. I was just plain tired, and my AT hurt.

Then the forest began to glow. I was on the final path back when I noticed it. The pinkish/orangish sunrise, combined with the beautiful autumn leaves made the entire world look magical. In order to see it all unfold, I turned back to the east, directly away from the direction I needed to go in order to get back. Being so tired and sore, this was indeed a run that I needed to get finished.

Yet I didn't even think about the pain and fatigue for that instant when I made the decision to turn around. You don't get to witness magic every day. And this was the real deal. Worth every step in the wrong direction.

Only days when you run.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Imperfect Ten

Ten miles, ten-minute pace.

The attempt at recovery continues. Most of my runs are at about ten-minute pace, and my longest ones, which I do two, or sometimes three times per week, top out at ten miles.

I was going to add the usual caveat: but they haven't been pretty. But a couple of them really weren't all that bad. Like the time I was working hard to get my pace down to nine-thirty, and I suddenly literally run into Dave Gajewski in the park, switch directions, and then start doing eight-thirty miles instead. Or the time I witnessed a bright pinkish-orange morning sunrise, giving the already red and orange foliage a positively beautiful glow and lighting up the whole park.

The non-pretty side is that I still have the back pain, the leg pain and the Achilles pain. And now I'm getting a cold. So I did today's ten on the mill.

Maybe tomorrow will be a bit less imperfect.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Dem Splits be Negative

It's about 7:10 AM, and 35 and a half minutes into my run as I hit the turnaround point. It's a beautiful, cool, clear morning for my seven-mile run in the park. Assuming I can make it back, this will be my longest run - by one mile - since the injury. And at this 10-minute pace, it'll also be my speediest.

For the first time since the injury I've somehow developed a time goal to go along with the distance goal. Sub-ten-minute pace is nothing to sneeze at. Maybe one to blow your nose at, but not sneeze.

I am able to run some miles in the 9:50's, and then finish up with a 9:28 for an overall time of 1:10 on the nose (which is not sneezing or blowing at this point).

After not running at all for so long, and then only being able to do a couple painful ones, this run was most encouraging. I was probably inspired by NC24, which took place just a couple days before. All that work race directing, and all that lack of sleep didn't kill me after all.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Rather be Running

180 steps per minute, no matter how fast or slow you go. It's a tough thing to do, especially since my normal inclination is to move my feet much more slowly. But now I'm counting my steps, moving the old legs as fast as they'll go. Counting the right-foot-forward movements, trying to get up to 90 of those in 60 seconds, I begin by dividing things up. I try for 45 in 30 seconds, 30 in 20, and so forth. The pain in my back, my left leg, my right Achilles are all a distant memory. Did I mention that I'm gasping for air? That's my concern at the moment, and it's so much better than dealing with pain. This is anaerobic exercise to the hilt.

Okay, that was yesterday, and it was in the pool.

I've been hitting the pool regularly, swimming and pool-running, and I'm sure it's doing me good. At least it feels good, and it's certainly better than nothing on one side, and hurting myself further on the other. And I'm doing other stuff too: more weights, pull-ups and core work than ever. It's all good. But there's one problem: it's not running. I'd rather be running.

Today's workout is beginning slowly. I put one foot in front of the other and begin moving. It's not too painful, so I begin moving a tiny bit faster.

This time I'm outside, running on terra firma, and loving it. I'm in the park, noticing the deer, the dark woods, the fields of goldenrod, the sunrise.

The run was just a shuffle, and it was only for a distance of two miles. And it was painful. But it was a run.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Aquarunning II (This Time It's Serious)

I'm no longer the Aquarunning Virgin I was a couple days ago. I discovered that the Rec Center actually keeps several aquarunning vests on hand for people in need. Like me.

Now I aquarun for twenty minutes. That's nineteen more minutes than I could do the other day, sans the belt. And I count my steps. I had read that one should aim for 180 steps per minute - about the same as for running at a good cadence.

It actually seems pretty easy. That probably means that I'm doing something wrong. Contrast that with swimming. I know I'm doing that right, because I can't hardly go more than a half-lap without a huge amount of huffing and puffing.

The best news is that I'm slowly getting better. I still have good minutes and bad minutes, but generally more of the former and less of the latter. I'm hoping that pattern holds.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Silly me. I thought that in order to do water running, you just get in the water and run. Turns out there's a little more to it.

As a proud new member of the Brunswick Recreation Center, I showed up for the first time today. Having never been a strong, or even a mediocre swimmer, I could only manage four laps. This is 25% more than the three laps I did a week or two ago in the Mayfield pool. I hope to increase my capacity by another 25% or so before long.

Still out of breath from that swim, I went over to the open deep end and tried to run. I wondered about whether water runners used some sort of flotation device, and if so, what. But I figured that if I tried it without such a device, I'd get a better workout.

Well I did do plenty of huffing and puffing. But not for very long - only a minute at a time in three intervals. You see, not being a good swimmer is related to not being a very good water treaderer. And those are both related to not being very boyant. In fact, I can't float at all - I just sink like a rock. So yes, I'm getting good aerobic workouts, but not long ones.

Then I googled aquarunning. I guess I have to get an Aquajogger flotation device, and follow all the guidelines for doing it right. Maybe then I'll be able to go more than a minute.

So instead of aspiring to run something like a marathon or an ultra, now my goals are to swim five laps and to aquarun for two minutes. Think these goals are attainable? Or am I biting off more than I can chew?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Good Minutes and Bad Minutes

How are you doing?

I get that question more often now that I'm experiencing these physical problems. Friends and family are genuinely concerned about my welfare, and sincerely wish the best for me. I only wish I could provide an answer that wouldn't evoke further sympathy. I really don't want sympathy; as a runner, I really want respect from non-runners, and fear from other runners. But none of that will happen anytime soon. I do try to appreciate the affection and concern that I do receive.

Those of us who suffer from various maladies will sometimes answer the question with, 'I have good days and bad days.' For various reasons, it's often quite true; I've been known to say it myself at times. But as of late, I've modified it a bit. To be slightly more specific, I've been explaining that I have good hours and bad hours, and now it's even more granular: good minutes and bad minutes.

Being in pain means less work getting done. It means not being physically able to do the things that one formerly took for granted. It means thinking of precious little else than the pain iteself. Having good minutes and bad minutes means that sometimes that pain is all-encompasing, and other times I feel almost normal. And these moments seem to wax and wane at surprisingly brief intervals.

I would like to be able to say that the pain is subsiding a bit. I continue to try to strengthen my back by various careful exercises, to be otherwise careful and to take ibuprofen as needed. But I'm not entirely sure how it's really going. All I can say for certain is that this is a good minute...

Since I've already touched on this subject at least once, I promise to not waste too much more of your bandwidth, other than possibly another update in the next week or two. Then I'll start the big push.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

The Most Miserable Creature on the Planet

In case you haven't guessed it yet, I'll fill you in. The Most Miserable Creature on the Planet is, naturally, a Runner Who Cannot Run.

I realize that there are billions of people on this planet whose lot in life is financially, physically, emotionally, or some otherly way less fortunate than mine. So I'll be careful to not wallow too deeply into my pit of self-pity. But dad-burn-it, I love to run, and I can't.

Runners who can't run probably think about running more than runners who can run do. Runners who can't run see other runners and become immediately, ridiculously jealous, thinking, "*I* should be doing that!" Runners who can't run self analyze their injuries to death. Runners who can't run try to do cross-training, but whilst doing those other activities, can only think, "I should be running instead of this." And so on.

I did get a diagnosis, based on an MRI: a herniated disc between vertebrae l4 and l5. The initial message from the doc (I have a full appointment next week), is that it isn't impacting any nerves, and can be treated with pain management. *My* initial reaction to that is, if it isn't impacting any nerves, then WHY THE HECK CAN'T I STAND, SIT OR DO ANYTHING ELSE WITHOUT EXCRUCIATING PAIN??? But I suppose that she meant that it could be worse, and I we don't need to consider anything drastic at this point.

The best news is that although I still can't run, and can hardly even walk, the pain seems to be slowly subsiding, at least a bit. Drugs help.

My strategy going forward is to eat even more than I did when I was running 50, or a year or two back, 70, miles per week. I'm getting fatter already.

And the misery has only just begun.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Canton Football HOF Enshrinement Festival Pigskin Run, or, Eighty percent of success is showing up

Woody Allen's quote, Eighty percent of success is showing up couldn't be more true than for old geezers like me who drag themselves to races.

I've never been in more pain than I have over the last week or so. I can't even explain it; it seems to be deep in my bones, especially my back and pelvis. As of yesterday, I stopped using the nitroglycerin patches on my Achilles tendon, thinking that they could be the cause. I'll give it a couple days to find out. Of course my Achilles pain is still there as well.

Just running at all is a problem. I spent almost the entire the week on the mill, with the thought that if I got to the point where I couldn't continue, at least I could step off the thing. But I still drove to Canton for this race that I'd stupidly pre-registered for.

It was warm and very humid - about like it was for my last race, the Johnnycake Jog two weeks ago. That one wasn't as bad as it could have been. This one was.

I did about 7:30 pace for the first three and a half miles, but then fell apart and  finished right around 39 minutes. The funny thing is that I placed third in my ancient age group. Not so awful for such a big race. I guess it helped to just show up.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Tales of The Kid, Part 2 - When Did You Get it?

The Kid arrives at Lock 29 at 6:30 AM, just like he did two weeks ago. This time it's raining and the Towpath is full of puddles as he begins his run with a few early-birds. The group only does a quick mile and a half out, before turning around and heading back.

Now The Kid has more company.There are about ten MCRR friends hanging around, waiting for an additional two tardy traveling teammates. And waiting. And waiting.

The Kid enjoyes this friendly banter as much as anyone, and The Kid doesn't like to leave anyone behind, even at the start. But The Kid needs to run soon so that The Kid can get done. He's due at the store at ten, which means that he has to be done running by 9:30, which means that he needs to start running before 7:20 in order to get the planned additional fourteen (including pit stops) in.

Figuring that it's the only way he can get his mileage in, The Kid very reluctantly begins to run by himself. He considers simply running out and then back again, and has actually turned back, when he sees Dave Eliason running towards him. Dave was feeling the same way. They run together for a while, hit the rest rooms and then hook up with more of the gang. Depending on the running mates at any given moment, the pace varies wildly. But The Kid is okay with that.

The rain is coming down harder, but eventually Dave and the Kid wind up running the final four or so miles with Renee Harden to wrap things up. Renee isn't feeling well, which means that she isn't pushing the pace beyond means considered reasonable by The Kid these days. The Kid finishes with 17 miles in a fairly reasonable time. Not bad for a wet Saturday.

But that's not quite the end of the story. The Kid goes to work, then home, then to a wedding that Saturday. Sunday morning his back is absolutely killing him. He can't quite figure out why or what he did. It's not as if he needed another physical (or mental) malady, but there it is.

Good thing The Kid had already been planning to not run on Sunday, because he can hardly walk. Sitting, standing and laying down cause extreme discomfort as well. That doesn't leave much.

The bad back is now close to seven days old. Which reminds The Kid of an old Three Stooges joke:

Stooge 1: I have a weak back.
Stooge 2: When did you get it?
Stooge 1: Oh, about a week back.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Johnnycake Jog - Belated but Brief Race Report

In short, I got what I deserved. 37:40 for fourth in my ancient age group. Nevertheless, all in all, I had fun. Pam Cato, Renee Harden, John McCarroll, Chip Jenkins and I drove up there, and we all had fun and ran well.

(Well, in my case, as well as could be expected).

Monday, July 07, 2014

Tales of The Kid, Part 1, July 5, 2014 – an accidental long run

The Kid shows up at Lock 29 in Peninsula on time. He is surprised to see that running partner Dave Gajewski is already there and ready to run. The two get off to a timely start.
The morning is unseasonably cool. The Kid is slightly beat up from the previous day’s Twin Sizzler 5K race. But he has begun runs in greater states of soreness than this. His Achilles Tendonitis hurts, and everything else does too. But he thinks he can handle the pain for these first three miles with Dave, as well as for the next ten with the entire gang.
That first mile truly is slow and painful. But then the conversation changes to politics, the pain subsides, and the pace picks up. It seems that the Kid’s Dander is up a bit. By the time they return to Lock 29 he hardly believes that they’ve got three preliminary miles under their belts. The crisp air is very comfortable for running.
Ten to twelve Medina County Road Runners have made their appearance for the planned ten-mile run. The Kid introduces most of them to Dave, and soon they’re all off once again. It occurs to the Kid that he’s got more than ten years on the next oldest runner. Although the Kid has forgotten any aches and pains he had when he began, he still feels a little bit elderly as he tries mightily to match the pace of these youngsters. The planned (by Keith Johnston) ten minute per mile pace has gone south of nine, and is approaching eight and a half, and the Kid is working hard to keep up. But he manages somehow.
The gang is running north on the towpath, along the beautiful Cuyahoga River, and it’s as nice as a day can be. The scenery is stunning and the park is practically sparkling.
At five miles north of Lock 29, the gang comes to a sudden stop. A conversation ensues as they debate whether some should simply keep going or head back to Peninsula in order to run back out for a few more. It appears that Caitlin Oblander, Christy Gnat, Patti Tomasello, Brian Rosenstock, Rick Roman and Renee Harden had been thinking of running fifteen or so, and have now decided to keep right on going past Station Road Bridge in Brecksville.
Now that the decision to go on has been made, the Kid has a choice of his own to make: keep going with this ambitious bunch, or turn back with the practical people, happy with thirteen for the day. After a small verbal nudge from Dave, the Kid finds himself continuing on in the northerly direction.
At this point the pace continues to quicken, and the Kid notices that his GPS is now squawking about a few sub-eight minute miles. Conversation, not to mention breathing, becomes more difficult. He mentions to Brian that the return trip may be tough. In other words he says, ‘we’re gonna pay.’ Brian, huffing and puffing a bit himself, agrees.
They pass the Brecksville eagle nest and decide to stop for a look. The path from the towpath to the river (the nest is on the opposite side) is short, and they think they may see a white-headed eagle inside the nest. But no one is sure. Everyone nevertheless enjoys the interlude. Other pit-stops are made at Brecksville and Boston Store.
At some point the group gets split up, but all are running well. Even though the Kid is feeling the miles and slowing down a little, the conversation with Dave and Caitlin in the later miles, not to mention the great scenery and fantastic weather, keeps him going.
As they finish up, the Kid has something on the order of eighteen and a half miles in, and he enjoyed every one of them. He thinks, not for the first time, that running, and indeed life in general, are wonderful.
Probably just a stupid runner’s high. He’ll get over it.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Medina Twin Sizzler

I ran only the 5K this year. Most years I do both that and the 10K.

Beforehand, everything hurt. Besides my AT pain, it seems like everything else does as well. And it's not from over-doing things in the running department. I wish I knew what it was. Debbie says it sounds like the Vitamin D deficiency she had a while back. I've increased my intake.

Back to the race. It was nice and cool in the 60s as Veronica and I rolled into Medina. She was doing the third of her four required (for a nice award by her company) 5K's for the year. It was nice to see everyone before the start. I love it when the square comes alive.

The race went about as expected: my pace stayed pretty much within the 7:00 to 7:18 range. I ran a tiny bit faster than my other 5K's for the year, but this one's a wee bit short. At least the pain subsided enough for me to run. Then of course it came back. With a vengeance.

I finished in 21:54 and won the geezer age group.
Diving for the finish line. Photo by John McCarroll

Friday, June 20, 2014

Running in Costa Rica II: This time the Monkeys Get Me ~ A Chronicle of my Running in CR During Our June, 2014 Trip

An Early One

The 04:00 AM watch alarm goes off and several things happen at once:

1) I wake up. This is not to say that I haven't already been running for forty minutes. Just that I come to the realization that I'd better get moving in order to get back to the hotel to shower and eat before the 4:50 AM pickup for the trip up to Monte Verde.
2) I do some quick math and determine that I probably only have about a mile of my five-mile loop here at Hacienda Pinellas which surrounds the JW Marriott Guanacaste, Costa Rica. So I ought to make it. You know the loop. It's the one I ran so many times last time we were here.
3) The lightning strikes much closer. It had been all around me since I began, yet the sky right above had been clear, and the full moon had been lighting the way. Along with the distant flashes of lightning. Now it wasn't so distant. Another reason to get moving.
4) The howling starts.

Whereas last time I was fairly well spooked by this (click here for that story), this time I just think it is really cool. The low, unearthly sound gradually builds into a groundswell of noise. Think of a T-Rex stomach growl. I can't tell whether it's coming from the trees just above me, or a mile away. I only wish I could spot some - the moon is full, but the howler monkeys are staying well hidden in the trees.

A Longish One

The goal today had been 16 to 19. That's three five-mile loops, plus the distance to/from the hotel for a mile, plus whatever else. For a while there things had been going swimmingly; but my achilles began to ache as I finished my second loop. This third one has been a real struggle, and I've slowed down considerably. Spotting a dead coral snake that wasn't (it's colors were in the sequence, yellow, red, black, meaning it was a friend of Jack - a false coral snake, instead of black, red, yellow, meaning it will kill a fellow) I stopped for a long examination to give myself a much needed break.

With only a half-mile of this final loop to go, I hear some howler monkeys again. No big deal; I've been hearing them since I began at four. For some reason, this time they show themselves. The lead male - I can definitely see that he *is* a male - jumps from a tree to an electrical utility wire right above me, howling all the while. About ten of his friends are jumping around in the trees just behind him.

It was all worth struggling for.

A Short One

Only three this day - all I'd have time for. Considered taking the day off, but running's just too darn good here to miss a day.

Case in point: as soon as I started out in the rain, the sun began to rise and I saw a wonderful rainbow. As if there's another kind. Then I saw the howlers again, and once again they were in the trees and on the wires right above me, howling away. And finally I looked down and noticed the caterpillars. Hundreds of them. Maybe they come out in the rain like earthworms do in our neck of the woods.

A (little) Better One

Short on time once again, I'm trying to hoof it. The pedal is to the metal as I complete my first loop in 45 minutes. Dang. I can't seem to break that 45 / 9 mpm barrier. Maybe for the second loop?

The hurry today had to do with monkeys. Debbie and I were to drive, then walk a short distance from the JW to try to spot them where I had for the previous two mornings. Those had been at about 6:00 AM, so that was the goal hour today.

I complete my second loop in... wait for it... 44:40. Speediest run yet.

A Not So Great One

It's my final run here at Hacienda Pinellas and I had planned to do another 16-miler. The first loop was excruciatingly slow - about 49 minutes. Hey, I think, maybe I can reverse my performance from a couple days ago - run my best at the end for a change. What a concept. Too bad it didn't work. I did run a decent second loop in a bit over 45 minutes, but then I simply quit. I blame it on my achilles, but chafing and dehydrations were factors as well.

No monkey sightings. I did manage to live in order to run another day.

A Final One

I could’ve also called it a steep one – this would be my one and only run in Punta Islita, and the hills are real here. I spend most of the hour and twenty minutes being lost in the hilly darkness. I eventually get down to the beach and the town.

As it begins to get light, I’m heading back, enjoying the din of the howlers for a final day’s run.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


Long is 18 or more. Longish is 15-17.9. Don't ask why; that's just the way it is.

After a half-decent longish 16 miler on Saturday, I got on the hotel mill yesterday and banged out a long run of 18. That's the first long run in quite a while. And it wasn't very pretty.

Today I could only manage six here in Bellevue, WA. They were very slow, but at least I got to explore a bit. Mercer Slough park is close by, so I ran around there. Nice.

It's AT, not PF

You know the plantar fasciitis I've had all these decades? Well, it's really achilles tendonitis, according to the x-ray. I really did suspect that it was something different this time, since the pain was more in the back of my heel, instead of underneath.

I'm now using nitroglycerin pads to treat it. Doctor says it'll take 4-6 months, but the alternatives are more invasive and more expensive. They may be more expensive, but this could be more... wait for it... *explosive*. Sorry.

It was good to at least know what it is. If the nitro doesn't work, I can still go to option B or C. Unfortunately, there was an additional diagnosis, one that has nothing to do with the AT: Doctor thinks I have vascular calcification. On the x-ray, she showed me a deposit on the top of the foot. She said that I should get a stress test as part of my next physical.

She didn't say much else about this, just that I should have it checked further. I've been doing web searches, and I'm not sure I understand the problem at all. It may be related to atherosclerosis.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Step, Ouch, Step, Ouch...

Sorry, but this will be a painful post.

After those two races last weekend, my heel has been killing me more than ever. That's quite a lot of hurt.

Gave myself an easy day, and then tried to run a three-a-day last Tuesday. I did manage to run three times - morning, lunchtime, and on the track that evening - but they weren't pretty to say the least. And each was more painful than the previous one. Then, after another very painful run - a thirteen miler heading as far as Chesterland, the one where I was really doing the Step, Ouch, Step, Ouch thing -  I finally decided to get some medical attention.

I'm not even sure this is the normal PF that I've had on and off for so many years. The pain is different now - it doesn't ease as I run more and loosen up as it used to. And it's located more in the back of my heel instead of underneath. Running fast seems to irritate it the most, but running far doesn't help either. My appointment is for a week from now. Stay tuned.

Today's annual Quickie 2-mile wasn't as terrible as I thought it would be. I was expecting more extreme pain, and it wasn't all that awful. I finished in a not-so-speedy 14:43. I can handle not-so-speedy so long as it goes along with not-so-painful as it did today.

Hope springs eternal.

Here I am at the Quickie, trying very hard to not get passed by Steve Combs pushing his
TWO kids in a stroller. Thanks to John McCarroll for the photo.

Monday, May 19, 2014

King of the 5K

So far this year, I've run three 5K races. But if you count Sunday's 10K as two 5's... Maybe we should simply say that I've done my share of the short stuff. And not much of the long. And I'm okay with that. I'm also okay with progress, such as it is. Each of the 5K's was progressively faster, although not by as much as I would have liked. The 10K was about as expected, based on everything else.

Saturday's Hy-5 was fun, and although it was the day before the Cleveland Marathon, it was bigger than I thought it would be. Wifey Debbie, Daughter Veronica, Son-in-Law Barry and the kidlets were all on hand. I thought I'd just walk with everyone and help push the stroller, since I had the 10K the next day. But I made a last minute decsion to run after all. Debbie and Veronica, who didn't mind, would take turns pushing, and Barry would run as well.

It rained both before and after the race, but we were lucky to stay dry during the actual run. It was flat, fast and fun. After a rough first mile, I settled into a decent pace and finished strong with - finally - a decent sub-seven final mile. My time was 22:06, good (although I use that term loosely) for second in my age group.

Sunday's 10K was a different story. Because of the associated Cleveland Marathon, it was big, expensive and quite the hassle for such a relatively short race. On the other hand, it was nice to see so many runners, including several friends, bringing downtown Cleveland alive. This time the sky was clear, but it was cool again with temperatures in the upper forties; perfect for running.

Once again, the first mile was rough. It seems that getting my breathing down right takes some time and practice. The next couple miles were also not the greatest, but the final few were better. I don't know why this is; I just eventually get to my most efficient self. Too bad it takes a while.

46:27, good, this time, for third in my age group. I missed second by about four seconds.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Hinckley History (Now I've Really Done It)

Now I’ve really done it: extracted all of the runs I’ve done on the Hinckley 9 mile course. In so doing, I am certifying my total insanity. Sorry..

Log ID
Description of Run
Cold run at Hinckley with Brian. Hills were tough in the cold.
I was sore, but managed to keep up with the fast crowd, so this was a good one! I'm also catching a cold.
This was almost 10 minute pace. I ran with Scott and Michele, who didn't mind that pace. I wasn't too sore, but I sure was tired.
this was a slow run of the loop, but faster than last week. Not so bad.
not too bad - one of the better runs on this course. With Debbie, Debbie, Brad.
I arrived early to do this Hinckley loop by myself. Not bad.
This time it was with the group, mostly Greg. Just slightly better than the first round. First time I did it twice.
The big loop around the lake with the gang. This was pretty tough after yesterday's race and today's early running. Still a PR however. I think.
with the whole gang. Tough run on the hills.
second big loop - wasn't sure I would make it, but I did. Not bad at all.
first loop with Connie and Bob. Pretty easy going.
second loop with Debbie and Debbie - Connie and Bob were ahead by a bit. Not bad.
third loop by myself - way behind Connie and Bob. Still not bad, but it was tough
an early loop with Debbie
First big loop with Debbie. Not bad.
later loop with the rest of the gang. Sure didn't feel that slow.
Surprizingly good considering yesterday. I was at my best for the last few miles.
this time it was the full loop with the rest of the bunch. Some bugs, but not nearly as bad - must have been the hour. Good run considering the distance and yesterday's race.
A pretty decent early loop around the lake with Debbie, Scott, Michele. Fairly easy going.
A much faster second loop with Mandy Yates and a couple of the guys. One of the fastest on this course. Pretty darn good running.
first loop with Scott. Not too bad.
MUCH faster loop with Brian and Mandy. Pretty sure this is a PR. Really tough in the heat/humiltiy.
1st loop with Mandy. Pretty good.
second loop with Debbie, finish with Ladd. Last two were very fast.
felt like I was flying running with Mandy. Good run considering yesterday.
1st loop at 5:30 with Jess - not too bad
second Hinckley loop with Jess and Lee. A bit better.
A really good solid hilly run with Dave.
good hill running with Dave. Pretty cold out!
first loop was fast with Mandy
second loop with Jack, Dan D., Brad and Michelle. Slower, but at least I finished fast
with Brian.
pretty good running with Lee and Jack.
not too bad - I ran by myself in the opposite direction - kept a steady pace
first lap was fast with Mandy
second lap with Debbie and Ladd. A little slower, but still a good one.
good run in Hinckley with Brad. Not easy with the snow and wind.
partially with Mandy, then she left me at Ledge hill. Not a bad run considering yesterday
MUCH faster the second time around. Tried to keep up with Connie and Bob, but only did for half the run. Not bad in the cold however.
brrrr. But nice run with Dan, Jack, Michele and Debbie
first loop with Dan, Jack. 2nd half was pretty good
2nd loop with Debbie, Michelle, Ladd, Dan, Jack. Steady.
first loop at 4am. Tough going in the snow and wind.
colder and snowier still. This time with the bunch at 7am. Tough to finish, but I made it.
getting colder and snowier for second loop at 5:30. not to mention slower
better second loop with Jess
first loop. Not too bad.
second loop with Dan, Jack. Finished strong, but felt like I was flying so the time shoulds bin better. Sloppy footing didn't help.
first loop with Jack, Michelle. Finished strong
the third loop with the gang was still good. Stopping for gu at half-way helped a lot!
second loop with Jack. A little slower, but not bad at all
got there at 4am for this one. It was tough to get moving, but then ok.
third loop with the group really good, although second half was slower
 second loop with Jack. Still not bad
first loop at 4am. Not bad
didn't wakeup for 4am loop - this was at 5:30 with Jack and Michelle
7am loop with Jack. I took off after Effie and did well to do the last 3 at tempo pace. Best (finish) in a while
second loop, also with Dave. Still very good.
good running with Dave on 1st loop
another slow loop, but more fun with Jack and Wendy
first loop alone. Not so good.
first loop with Dave
second loop was a bit slower, but I'm happy to have it in.
decent enough run in the cool rain with the bunch. Pretty shot for the start of the second loop though.
ran the old Hinckley Hills with the gang and felt good.
First loop with Debbie and Michelle. It was slow, but still difficult for me.
second loop with Dave. It was tough too, but at least it was faster.
Slow going with the gang today. I had planned to take the day off, but this was better than nothin.
this run felt slow, but the time wasn't as bad as expected. with several MCRR folks.
first loop with Brad, Michelle, Jack. not too bad.
second loop with Debbie. much faster. felt pretty good. getting warmer.
first loop: not too bad. extremely humid
second loop with Dan- faster!
tough going with the gang in high humidity
much faster second loop with Dave. humidity was even worse
first loop with the bunch. not bad
second loop with Dave. better.
pretty decent run with Jack. maybe I'm turning the corner.
first loop with Jack
second loop with Brian. it was faster, but it felt MUCH faster.
Good first loop with Ladd, Jeannine. Cool morning felt good. 2 shooting stars.
Second loop alone. Not too bad, but I was pushing it. Felt like faster.
pretty good run with Debbie and Michelle
decent run with Dave.
Not bad running with Michelle and Jack
fast first loop with Dave and Debbie
second loop with Dave. A little slower, but still very good
seemed like much faster. I did do at least some fast running to call it a fartlek run
Still suffering with sinus infection. Could've been worse.
fairly slow going with Michelle. Cold day. Sinus' a bit better.
Just about killed me. Tough to stay in step with Pete, Frank and Debbie. But I did it. Happy to have it done.
Good Hinckley Hill run with Dave. Snow made it challenging.
Best one of these in a long time.
Decent enough start to this long run. Did this one alone. The ice was bad.
Second loop with Debbie. Much slower, but okay.
Hey - I did a loop (with Jack). Slow but happy to have it done!
Couldn't get much slower, but I was thrilled to do two. Again with Jack.
Pretty good run through a storm with the gang
Well that was fast. Almost killed me.
Second loop - much slower, but I'm still happy with it. Fun stuff.
first loop - slow, but okay
second loop - better than expected
decent time for first lap
second loop was a little slower. pretty tired. not bad however.
pretty decent run with Dave. I think I'm recovering.
First loop with the bunch. Not bad.
Second loop with Brian - better.
real early first loop - not bad
second loop with the gang - not too bad
third loop - a little slower, but still ok
surprisingly okay run with a few friends
Good Hinckley running for lap 1
good second loop. toe hurts, but other stuff better.
good first loop with a fast finish
Slower second loop. still okay
slower than expected. and look at that weight!!
slow going with Michelle. ok though
could not wake up
Not too bad for the first lap
Better for second half. Good running today!
easy does it run with the gang (they waited for me) still a lot of pain
with friends. least pain in a while, so not bad
best in a long time - with Dave
Pretty fast run with Debbie and the group
Another good one with the group. Altogether much better than expected today!
Very easy does it run with Michelle and Jack. Actually tougher than it shoulda been.
I was tremendously out of breath and had to walk effie. THEN, my knee hurt - bad. Is it the Hokas?
much better run with a strong final 3 miles
First of these in a while. With some MCRR friends. Felt ok.
Nice solid run with Dave
very fast and hard run with the group. but I was still up for more.
a bit slower for 2nd loop with Will. only a bit.
Great run with the bunch. Felt good!
Excellent pace on this soggy run with Will, Renee, Brian B.
First loop - not bad
2nd loop - way slower. at least no knee pain
Slow start, but good run overall! Some ice.
Not bad, but it was pretty slow. With Rick
good run on the hills with Dave


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...