Friday, February 27, 2015

Winter from Hell, Part Too

One would think that something from Hell would be on the hot side, not the cold side. On the other hand, it's conceivable that one may also be able to say that anything coming from There would be arduous to infamous in various ways. Last winter qualified on that level. And now that we're just wrapping up the coldest February on record, this one does as well.

Has there been an impact to your running, Dan (you ask)? Hell, yes, I answer. I'm pretty darn sure that for the past couple months, I've done a larger percentage of my miles indoors than any such period in my running history. Yes, I'm spending more time on the mill, and enjoying it less. They do let me out on some days - usually weekends with friends, and the few days where the weather isn't totally awful. Sometimes I just get mad as Hell, say I'm not going to take it anymore, and go outside regardless of the cold. I did this today, but didn't get far in the sub-zero cold.

And when I do run outside, I'm even slower than ever. Having said that, I do try to push the pace once in a while in hamster mode.

Is there any good news at all (you ask)? Hell, no, I answer. But there is a slight amount of not-so-terrible news. I've just completed my third week of physical therapy, and I can say that my Achilles Tendinitis is incrementally (read: slightly) better. I'm doing everything I'm told by the Physical Therapist (Patti), and by George, it's working. A little.

And for some more not so terribly awful news, March begins on Sunday.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

GPS Games: Go Get Great Garmins

I am fully aware that the Post Title doesn't make much sense. Do they ever?

It is true that I am now the proud owner of a Garmin Forerunner 620. The 620 is a step up from the 610, but I am sure that some day they will come up with a 630, and we'll all have to upgrade. They can't fool me.

Having had GPS watches before (a Soleus given to me by friend Jack Reilly, and prior to that a Garmin Forerunner 305), I suspected that like Angie Kovacs, I would wind up having an unnatural love for my 620. And I do. I love the information it provides, even though I never know quite what to do with it. Information, in and of itself, is still, in my mind, a good thing.

Other runners joke that their 620s are smarter than they are. Mine is definitely smarter than me. It reports cadence, vertical oscillation and ground contact time. These metrics are called running dynamics, and according to Garmin, they effect running economy. Who am I to question such a thing? It also tracks heart rate and VO2 Max. It tells me when, and for how long to recover, and can also predict race times. I just can't possibly match wits with any of that stuff. On top of everything else, it even counts steps and can estimate distance, speed, and the rest of the stuff for treadmill running.

Treadmill running is something that I've been doing a lot of lately. Although not quite as terrible as last year, this has become another awful, long and hard winter. That is to say, it's another normal winter, if you consider all those winters before global warming spoiled everyone. Accordingly, outside running has become more challenging than usual. On weekends, I've managed to get out with friends, but for most weekdays, you will find me on the mill.

The 'ole mills are beginning to get to me though. I may have to actually venture outside again someday. Maybe in spring.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

If it's Sunday, This Must be Hinckley

About a year ago, I published my list of Hinckley runs, extracted from my running log. If there had been any doubts about my sanity, a quick look at that list will quickly dispell them. This post will be a bit different. It's about what actually happens during one particular Sunday at Hinckley.

It's 5:30 A.M., and I'm only now just trying to pull into the Spillway parking lot. There have been times when I've arrived early (as early as 4), but this is not one of them; 5:30 in the A.M. is just fine today, thank you. I say I am trying to pull in. The road into the park from Bellus is barricaded off. This is a first. I guess that it's because of the snow that has been falling steadily for a couple hours now, although it's remained open during times of more snow than this.

A car just ahead of me is turning around at the barricade as well. It's Frank Dwyer, who is equally flummoxed. We decide to park at the ranger station just down the road. There are already two cars in the lot, and running back to the lot we see Caitlin Oblander and Rick Roman. Over-achievers that they are, they had arrived at 5 to run a three-mile loop around the lake as a warm-up. Now they're cheerfully imparting tales of running on the barricaded/deserted, snow-covered road, since the all-purpose trail's footing was worse.

The four of us, including Fank in his shorts (!), are about to start out on our nine-mile loop, when Debbie Scheel shows up. It occurs to us that several runners may be a little late today due to the snow on the roads. Regulars Jack Reilly and Michelle Wolff would not be among them at all this time. I am surprised that this many made it so far.

The five of us are about to begin running when more cars begin to arrive. It's Cristina Sparks, Rob Lisy and Alan Dravenstott. Once again, the weather had slowed them down a bit. I'm now quite surprised at the showing.

The eight of us start out running up the hill on Bellus. But we don't get too far. Other cars are also arriving. We decide to turn back, trying to get word to everyone to not bother trying to get into the normal parking lot. It doesn't work; everyone tries to make the turn, finds the barricades, and then decides to park back with the rest of us.

This time it's Jeannine Nicholson and Ladd Clifford. They ask us to wait yet another minute for Connie Gardner, who was just behind. I haven't seen these folks here, this early on a Sunday, for many a moon. Ladd and I briefly reminisce about an early morning 24-hour training run we did here a few years ago, in which we did ten three-mile lake loops in cold, icy conditions.

Connie is still getting out of her car as the rest of us begin our run, for good this time. It occurs to me that there is no one - not one person - who's my speed. Well possibly Cristina, but even she usually leaves me in the dust the last couple miles. I consider letting everyone go on without me and doing lake loops, but when I voice this thought, Debbie and the rest reassure me that I won't need to run alone.

Dan running up Effie on a similar Sunday
Heading up Bellus Hill, not to be confused with Effie, I have my doubts. It's oxygen debt almost from the get-go. Bellus is actually even higher than Effie, but at least Bellus is over with rather quickly. We're forced to watch and contemplate Effie for about two miles after turning onto Ledge Road. And of course Effie hits half-way through the run, when one is already somewhat beat up from all the other hills.

Throughout the run, I'm enjoying the conversation, especially with some of the folks whom I hadn't run with for a while. Connie, Jeannine and Ladd are the same as ever, and of course the conversation quickly heads down into the gutter. I suppose I'm partly responsible, but I would never admit it.

We're doing our share of slipping and sliding on the partially snow-covered roads. Ladd says that he would rather run on trails, but I point out that when snow covers roads like this, they're just like trails.

Rick and Caitlin are long gone. Debbie, Alan and Connie pull away on or just before Effie. The rest of us more or less stick together, gathering at the top of Effie to complete the last miles as a group. I am very pleasantly surprised that I've been able to keep up with all these great runners today.

We turn onto Kellogg Road. It has more snow than ledge, and of course it's still coming down. We talk about how some will be heading out for a second loop. I am jealous; it's been quite a while since I've been able to manage that much running. These cold, snowy nine would be plenty for me today.

As we finish up, John Pavlik appears in the parking lot, ready to run with the second loopers. this time the direction would be counter-clockwise. What a bunch of rebels. I start out with them, but I don't go too far before turning back.

Another Hickley Sunday run in the books. Nothing special about this one, but then they're all special in some ways. I am so glad I stuck with this one.

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...