Sunday, February 26, 2006

Hyannis Half

My first Half Marathon, Hyannis, MA, 1:29:28. 63rd out of 1216 (gun time, 58th chip time, but who's counting :-). Pretty self satisfied for now with this first effort, even though McMillan sez I should be able to run at least a 1:25:00, according to my shorter PRs, but I haven't paid the miles yet to do that. My digestive system is less than thrilled though, that process definitely runs at a lower priority during racing. Tough but not really as hard as anticipated, could have pushed it harder in retrospect, but glad I didn't, had a good first experience. Very cold, rumors of it being cancelled due snowy/icy roads, but Hyannis sucked it up and got everything ready on time.

Crowded start, went out nice and easy, going with the flow, pass dodge pass puddle, missed the first two mile markers, but three was about 20:00 (6:40 pace), too fast for me but felt okay, the rest went down something like this - 7:15, 6:50, 7:05, 6:47, 6:56, 6:55, 6:45, 6:33, 6:43, 6:53, 0:42, nice little uphill to finish things off. Rest of the course was pretty flat, occasional gradual ups and downs. Sunny parts were nice, even enjoyed as best I could, some scenery, some nasty biting cold head wind stretches as well.

After 5 the miles just started tumbling by, grooving, feeling surprisingly good, loose, relaxed through 6, 7, 8. Kept waiting for the wheels to fall off, what's it gonna be, hams locking up, bonking, whatever, but just normal gradual increase in overall leg fatigue; hip flexors, left especially, were tightening though, pushed through, increasing the stride/pace helped. Funny how difference distances produce different fatigue signatures, shorter/faster races the hams or calves , longer/slower runs get my quads and hip flexors, wonder if that's typical or just me.

Last two miles pretty tough, but just muscle fatigue wise, brute forced it through that. Racing this distance is so different from 5K or 10K distances, it's practically a difference sport, not anaerobic at all (maybe I wasn't working hard enough), breathing almost never got labored enough to get very rhythmic, slow relaxed. All aerobic, strength, endurance. I can see why people tend toward the longer distances as they age, not as intense as the shorter races, or a different kind of intensity rather, requiring more patience, stamina.

If I can develop the patience, and if my new job isn't too demanding, I just might take to this longer distance stuff, maybe I can do the Vermont City Marathon, gotta put in the miles. The shin's holding up, a little tender, but not as much as expected, thanks, Whoever.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Resting for HM

Against better judgement, ran 5.2 miles on the mill yesterday, about 7:17 average pace, 6:59 incline adjusted, interrupted for 90 seconds to go pay the pizza guy for the kids. That makes 41.5 miles for the past 7 days, a lifetime record for me. Shin's a little tender this morning but not too bad.

Rest today, headed down to the in-laws at the Cape, running the Hyannis Half Marathon tomorrow morning. Wicked cold, crap, suck it up champ. Longest run ever, 13.1 miles, has faded into the past, seven weeks ago, since then long runs are only 10.2 and one 12.1 due to shin issues. Vermont City Marathon really in doubt if I can't get the mileage up. Tomorrow, just hoping to finish and maybe beat my last/only 13.1 training time of 1:36:00.

Anyway, too tired to go with this riviting plotline, nighty night.

Thursday, February 23, 2006


Ran 7.2 miles on treadmill, watch messed up, gotta get a new one, again, but mid/low 7:00s again, progression, probably 8:15 down to 6:45, just 1% incline.

The free days are quickly running out, back to the Dilbertworld on Monday, new job, new boss, new cube, new technology (Java, J2ME, BREW). Hopefully I can settle in quickly and be left alone to work and learn. Yesterday I picked up my new laptop at the office and took care of some admin stuff. The commute won't be as bad as I'd feared, it might be fun to work in Cambridge (Kendall Square) again, like ten years ago.

Checked out the fitness room in the building, couple treads and ellipticals, can get in 24/7, free, sweet, maybe I'll quit the health club, only need it for occasional elliptical since I got the Landice, and I won't need that at all if my f-ing shin ever wises up. That savings would offset the parking fees I'll now be paying. Only thing is, I'm a little uptight about the idea of running at the office during lunch, running into co-workers in the locker room, eew, I don't really care about being seen naked, it's the thought of catching a glimpse of someone I work with that's upsetting.

After the new office visit, home and ran 5.3 miles on treadmill, watch messed up but something like low/mid 7:00s, 2% incline.

Randomly decided to try consuming whey after workouts, yet another hope, gimmick, placebo in helping the shin recover and rebuild. Need to get some good smoothie recipies or something, but today just mixed it with some Gatorade (Endurance Formula) and Odwalla Super Protein drink, didn't even taste that bad. Can feel the muscles/tendons rebuilding already! Yeah baby.

So a scary moment at the GNC where I bought the whey, the guy there commented on my Nike Frees, I mentioned my brother-in-law worked at Nike, the girl there asked where they were located, I said Oregon, she said "oh, is that far?", I said yeah, well, it's across the country — this was news to her, oh dear, I fear for this generation.

Anyway, two days before that, I did 6.4 miles on the Landice, fmi.

Finally, if anyone is out there, please click here to see something wonderful and f-ing funny, yes, it's the laughing quadruplets video.

It is truly amazing, these four tiny humans, sharing the exact same DNA, reacting in precislely the same way to the stimulus. A quote from Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate:

"I once watched an interview in which Marlon Brando was asked about the childhood influences that made him an actor. He replied that identical twins separated at birth may both use the same hair tonic, smoke the same brand of cigarettes, vacation on the same beach, and so on. The interviewer, Connie Chunge, pretended to snore as if she were sitting through a boring lecture, not realizing that he was anwering her question -- or, more accurately, explaining why he couldn't answer it. As long as the heritability of talents and tastes is not zero, none of us has any way of knowing whether a trait has been influenced by our genes, our childhood experiences, both, or neither. Chung is not alone in her failure to understand this point."

Sunday, February 19, 2006

10.2 on the Landice

Ran 10.2 miles on the Landice, 1:18:02, 7:39 average pace (7:19 incline adjusted); middle 8.2 in 1:01:15, 7:28 average pace (7:11 incline adjusted). First 7-8 okay, last two tough, really really wanted to just stop. Progression, 8:25 pace down to 6:45.

Pretty sure the 2% incline I'm running (3% for first/last) is steeper than at the club, putting a level to the floor does show a slight uphill. 86 year old house, no level surfaces or right angles in sight. A little obsessive, but I wonder if there's an easy way to measure the actual incline percentage.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

11 mph

Ran 7.2 miles, usual mid/low 7:00s average pace, finishing with a 6:40, a little slower than usual. First run on the Landice, went okay, very weird running inside my own home, think it'll work out, best thing is running shirtless, and no headphones, cranking the music, the thing wasn't even make a huge racket, no complaints from M.

But, was in for a surprise during the last mile, usually I crank it to a 6:00 pace then under, to like 5:37 (at best) toward the end. So I hit 10 mph (6:00 pace) and then up it one more notch and it goes straight to 11 mph. What the hell? What happened to 10.1 mph?? So the Landice folks figure if you can run a 6:00 pace then you can run a 5:27 no problemo?? I don't think so, that's a virtual sprint for me. I'm bumming now, since I'd also planned on doing half mile intervals on the thing which I try to do at like 5:44-5:54 pace.

Called the dealer, he looked into it and discovered, to his surprise as well, that the L7 Pro Sports Trainer model I got does indeed not support 0.1 speed increments after 10 mph. But fortunately it's just a function of the electronics, not the capabilities of the mill itself. So I could upgrade to the L7 Cardio which does not have this restriction, for another couple hundred clams. But what a drag, I'll have to think about it, I'll probably spring for it though, not being able to go 10.1 - 10.5 mph really cramps my style. Caveat emptor. Good thing is that I'd only need to exchange the control panel itself, no big re-delivery hassles.

Tough being a consumer, eh?

Good news is the shin seems not worse for wear, better even than after the 65 minutes on elliptical day before yesterday, wondering if elliptical is no better or even worse than running sometimes, and starting to think my problem is more muscle tightness, careful massaging and heat seems to help. If I'm gonna have a shot at my May marathon, I really need to get the mileage up, especially the long runs, I've still only done three 12-13 milers, and a few 10s. Will try for 10-12 tomorrow, on the Landice, nutty to go that far on a mill, but I'm too much of a grape a the moment to face the extreme cold, and the mill and I are still on our honeymoon.

Yesterday was fun going to see my niece, G, run in the "states" indoor track meet. Haven't been to a track meet since high school I don't think, and never to an indoor one. Very exciting, surprised at how organized it was, races going of like fireworks, bang bang bang, one after another. Some wicked fast kids there. G placed second in the 600m with 1:38. Her teammate won the mile with a 5:13 — her award "ceremony" was only slightly marred by the sight of a boy who placed second or third I think in his mile race, puking his guts out into a garbage can near the announcer, nice :-)

I remember feeling about that bad in my very brief and mediocre high school track career. The half mile, I really should've been coached into the 2 mile, the half was too freaking intense for me. I so remember that feeling of being dragged along with the pack thinking "oh crap, are we really running this fast?", and then the feeling around that last 220, hamstrings locking up, lactate acid, like in a dream, can't go any faster, working hard just to maintain, dying and slowly, and hyperventilating uncontrollably after. Only ever managed a 2:19, not too hot, but memorable for me anyway.

But what a great life experience for many of these kids, those among the best at their respective schools, to discover at these meets that there are a bunch of kids, from beyond, a whole lot faster than they are.

"The trick is living without an answer ... I think ..."

Thursday, February 16, 2006


Elliptical, 65 minutes.

When I got laid off I applied for unemployment, just 'cause I thought that's what you're supposed to do, even thought I got quite a few weeks in severance pay, I didn't think I'd actually be eligible to receive unemployment. But, it turns out I am, like a few hundred dollars a week. So I guess I'll take it, even though I've accepted another job which I start in a couple weeks. I do feel a little guilty; technically, I don't need the money, of course, I can always use it, but it does seem a little unsporting of me to take it, but the system says it's legal, and I have paid into for like 23 years. And, just the fact that I'm feeling a little guilty about it makes me feel a little better about taking it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


Ran 7.3 miles on treadmill, 7:12 average pace (6:52 incline adjusted), middle 5.2 at 7:05 average pace (6:51 incline adjusted.) Nice and easy, except for the irresistible/obligatory sub-6:00 pace last half mile.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Ran 7.1 miles on treadmill, 7:16 average pace (6:57 incline adjusted), middle 5 at 7:07 average pace (6:52 incline adjusted).

So I pulled the trigger. Ordered my Landice L7 Pro Sports Trainer, $2595, yikes, happy happy joy joy. Although I'm gonna miss the occasional eye candy at the club ;-)

Monday, February 13, 2006



Another 90 minutes of shovelling today, that makes 3 hours for the week. Pleasantly sore. Snow day, unemployed, though I accepted a position at a new company, I won't be starting for another two weeks, so I'm just farting around.

Elliptical today, 65 minutes, legs still recovering from Saturday's race. Then went to look at treadmills, thinking about getting one, it would save so much time driving back/forth to the club, M would use it too.

Looking at the Landice L7 Pro Sports Trainer. Pricey ($2900 with tax and delivery) but I want a good strong durable motor/belt, don't care about fancy electronics, HRM, fan, all that crap. The L8 is even nicer, but I can't justify that kind of money ($4200+).

The only disappointing thing is that the incline only adjusts by integral increments, no halves. And it seemed, despite its lauded sturdiness etc. a bit shakey running faster that 8 mph, but they all seem to be that way, unless you go up to the super expensive, and massive, club models.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Valentines 5M / 6K Race

Yesterday I teamed up with my 16 year old niece, G, to run in a Valentine's 6K/5M road race. She ran the 6K, I the 5M. Our combined time won us second place in the male/female open division; she won first in her division, I got zip — way too many old farts like me nursing their mid-life anguish. Anyway, fun time, I ran quite well/fast especially considering I haven't been doing any speed or tempos for quite a few weeks.

Clocked in with a 31:35 for 5M (6:19 average pace). Very cold, fairly hilly, no mile markers at all that I saw. G sandbagged the 6K with a 24:35 (6:37 pace :-) — she coulda run low 6:00s, but she's smart, didn't want to piss off her track coach by risking injury.

I went out pretty fast, tried settling in with a pack, but positioning was much more volatile, for some reason, than most races I've run, lots of passing back and forth, maybe because of the hills; there is, I think, great variation within the population in the ability to run up/down hills.

The dreaded "why am I doing this, I'm not really a runner" thoughts made a brief appearance toward the fourth mile. Thinking about dead people and my form helped get me through, and also trying to identify precisely what so awful, it's not like I'm in actual in pain, in the traditional sense, it's something else, it's just difficult, the fatigued legs are just sensations in the brain, like any other sensation, deal with it.

Tried hanging with some woman, for about a mile in the second half, then she was hanging with me, then we were pushing each other, she ultimately had more than me and pulled away with three-quarters to go. But I finished pretty strong, overall a decent race, a PR actually (I've actually run a 31:20 5 miler on treadmill, but at 1.0 incline, doesn't count).

Calf/shin muscles sore today, but not unpleasantly so, amazingly my shin (MTSS) doesn't seem to be very tender, and I was thrashing it on the downhills. Maybe I knocked it out, maybe I'm doing too much treadmill running, whatever.

Anyway, I've got about 100 feet of snow to shovel off of two driveways, that'll be my recovery, was going to do elliptical but my health club is having a snow day, lovely.

So the final showing of The Children of Eden was cancelled today due to weather, Z and all us are very disappointed. I only got to see it three times. Z has had such a great time, being the youngest, 11, in a cast of middle and high schoolers, a great group of talented kids.

Real tear-jerker it was, the whole father, children, letting go thing, God & Adam, Adam & Cain, Noah & Japeth, me & S, aarrgghh ...
As a child, I found a sparrow
That had fallen from its nest,
And I nursed it back to health
till it was stronger than the rest.
But when I tried to hold it then,
It pecked and scratched my chest,
till I let it go ...

And I watched it fly away from me
With its bright and selfish song,
And a part of me was cursing
I had helped it grow so strong.

And I feared it might go hungry,
And I feared it might go wrong.
Oh ...

     — Noah, The Children of Eden
Needed a few glasses of wine after each performance.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Army of Me

Elliptical, 72 minutes. A new world record. That voice inside my head wouldn't let me stop.

You're alright
There's nothing wrong
Self-sufficience please!
And get to work

And if you complain once more
You'll meet an army of me

An army of me

— Björk

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Ran 4.1 miles on treadmill, sloooow, 7:57 average pace or so (7:30 or so incline adjusted). Supposed to be a recovery run, though I haven't done anything in particular I need to recover from except 20+ miles in three days, a lot for me still. Shin's tender again, it's changing though, seems to be moving lower down, less that two inches above funny bone. Maybe I should knock off cranking up the incline, finished at 6.0 today.

Slow but still pretty tired, due largely I'm sure to a dose of Ativan/Inderal this morning before my interview — dang my anxiety ridden brain. Anyway, it went very well, D is ready to make me an offer, comparable to the offer I got last April but turned down. Inclined to just take it, good opportunity to get into mobile/wireless device programming, but also contribute to backend server stuff I'm more familiar with. All Java, I'm a bit rusty there having been into .NET/C# for the past few years, C++ before that, but no matter. And some smart people there I already know.

Elliptical tomorrow, rest, then 5M race on Saturday — teaming up with my 16 year old niece for the Bradford Valentine's Day 6K/5M, she'll run the 6K, she's speedy (low 19:00s 5K, 2:20-something 800 meter), not to mention a wonderful kid.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


Lost a little weight in recent days, 148.2 pounds this morning, before food, fully hydrated, down from low 150s. Scale was battery-less for about year, finally got around to changing it. Probably good, I'd previously been weighing myself almost obsessively everyday, trying to get under 140, which I did for a while but couldn't maintain that, mid/high 140s is my comfort zone. Amazing for me to think that at age 22, at my full height of 6 feet, I was 130, tops. Anyway, not so concerned anymore, as long as I'm under 155 I'm good.

Far from my high water mark of 175 about three years ago before I started running more consistently again. Motivated largely I think by my observation of other Dads walking the kids to school — fat, flabby, feeble — almost no one, no one, is fit, at least in my town. Didn't want any part of that in my future.

Vanity, is that all it is? Partly for sure. It's also the challenge, an experiment, see if I can run as fast as I did 30 years ago (almost there). Something else to occupy my mind and body before the inevitable. Running is a form of giving thanks, to God, existence, whatever — because I can. Sometimes when I'm hurting, late in a tempo run or a race, I think of dead people I know, in the ground, cold, it motivates me, be thankful, I'm alive, run, pick it up, now. And the Puritan in me feels one should not always be comfortable, suffering is good, yes?

Dark side of being (reasonably) fit is conceit or feeling disdain for others horrifically out of shape. I suspect I'm not entirely alone among my fellow runners. Need to make an effort to be generous, don't judge, everyone's got a story, private, unknown to me.

Ran 6.7 miles on treadmill this afternoon (I'm unemployed, I can run whenever I want!) 7:08 average pace (6:48 incline adjusted); middle 4.7 at 6:59 average pace (6:44 incline adjusted). I've recently taken to running my warm-up at 3.0 incline, the middle miles at 2.0 incline, and the cool-down at 3.0 to 5.0 incline, today finished up at 6.0 incline, 6:40 pace (so much for a cool-down).

I'm doing the same kind of workout too much, indicated by that fact that I'm starting to race myself from one run to the next, these could eventually turn into tempo runs, which might not be so bad since I've been avoiding tempos or any real speed at all while I try to increase my mileage.

These Nike Vomeros are pretty sweet, soft smooth ride, cruising to the music, about as nice a treadmill run as I could ask for. Only complaint is the tongue isn't long enough. Shin's only slightly worse for wear, hoping damage has levelled off, continuing lots of shin/calf exercises. Maybe I just needed new shoes.

Groovy quote of the day ...

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."

— Robert A. Heinlein

Monday, February 06, 2006


Ran 6.2 miles on treadmill, 7:16 average pace (6:58 incline adjusted); middle 4.2 at 6:56 average pace (6:43 incline adjusted - first/last mile at 3.0-5.0 incline, middle 4.2 at 2.0). Scored a pair of Nike Vomeros, hard to find, brand new, Marathon Sports had a few. Pretty nice/smooth ride, pretty soft, almost too much so, but fine, not terribly different from the Skylons. Shin was slightly worse for wear at first, but later (after the usual NSAIDs and icing) seemed pretty good. Maybe/hopefully these new shoes will be kinder to my shin (por favor). Starting to feel stronger, like I can just go out and bang out 5-7 milers no problem, on a daily basis, if the shin would just get better I could totally rock.

Overheard in the locker room today, an older Chinese man, naked, chatting with another older Anglo man, just casually chatting, didn't seem to know each other particularly well. The Anglo man politley signs off, says he's gotta get to the swimming. Then the Chinese man says casually, "Oh, I do have one question for you." I figured he'd be asking when the next spin class was or something, but instead — "When did you realize that this is it, that you will not live forever. Someday, you will die."

Catches my ear, of course, I realized this at about 8 years of age, and have never stopped thinking about it. The Chinese man confesses to the Anglo that it came to him quite late, just within the past few years really. And then goes on to tell him how he lost his father and two of his four children — a 21 year old daughter, murdered 20 years ago (by her boyfriend who, for days after, before being found out, pretended to look for her killer; I'm trying not to visibly grimace at this point.) And he lost his 40-something year old son just last summer.

Wow, nothing special really, I guess, but so seldom do you hear such candid conversations in public spaces, unfortunately. It's a big big world, so many people, with so many stories, pain, sorrows. We should share more. I should share more.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Stooper Bowl Sundae

After 4 days off (3 on elliptical, one of sloth), 7.2 miles on treadmill, 7:20 average pace (7:11 incline adjusted), middle 5.2 at 7:04 average pace (6:57 incline adjusted). Left shin was getting better so I thought I'd better beat it into submission a little, let the f-er know who's boss. Slightly tender now, woohoo.

Our annual Super Bowl Sundae tradition (gorging on 10+ pounds of ice cream and the fixins in a supersize trough) is a little delayed tonight as Z is at her Children of Eden rehearsal until 9pm. Our lack of interest in the Super Bowl is astounding, it's on tv, it's boring, those guys are fat, football is epicene. The anthropologist in me compels me to expose my kids to American pop cultural curiosities like the Superbowl (as if they don't get enough through osmosis). I guess it was two years ago they were lucky enough to witness the historical/hysterical wardrobe malfunction; the religious right might be relieved to know they haven't, as yet, become satan worshippers, or worse, gay.

This is too easy right, the Danish Muslim Cartoon Thing. It's about 128% obvious that the behavior of these fascists simply proves the point of the cartoons, right? The cartoon suggests Muslims are violent (the one depicting the prophet Muhammed wearing a bomb-like turban), and the Muslim response is to lash out in violence, denouncing these views - "we are not violent, die infidel!". Duh. Too funny. And the one depicting suicide bombers being greeted in paradise with "Stop, stop, we're running out of virgins" is just, well, kinda funny. Laughable, or not even, deserving of only a sigh and a "good grief."

I'm out of the loop, I obviously will never understand this behavior, having been raised in a place of relative infinite tolerance, where an artist receiving government funding can produce a piece of art like Piss Christ, and nobody goes ape-shit, I mean it was controversial, but I don't recall even Jesse Helms fire bombing the NEA.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Made of Glass

Just wanna be misunderstood
Wanna be feared in my neighborhood
Just wanna be a moody man
Say things that nobody can understand

I wanna be obscure and oblique
Inscrutable and vague
So hard to pin down
I wanna leave open mouths when I speak
Want people to cry when I put them down

— Pete Townshend

Elliptical, 65 minutes.
People see through me like I'm made of glass.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

End of an Era

Elliptical, 35 minutes, planned on 50-60 minutes but I bonked, then briskly walked a half mile and a few minutes rowing. I bonked probably because I'd only had half a sandwich and a Guinness Stout for lunch, and also because I'd earlier taken an Ativan and Inderal to prepare myself for a particularly anxious/stressful morning.

Big layoffs today — 40% or more. After 8 years with the company and after surviving at least 6 major layoffs, I'm outta there. It's a relief really, and a gift, severance, yes! Virtually my whole group was laid off, and most had also been there for quite a few years, so we were all pretty happy financial-wise. But, still, it's a kinda sad, we'd worked together a long time. So after the battlefield had cleared, those who didn't survive (and a few who did) went out for lunch/beer.

Time to move on, figure out how much time to take off. I could get a job real quick, pocket the severence, or spend some time (and money) with the family. Thing is, I already feel some pressure to get back to it 'cause when I got home I had essentially two job offers in my email from previous bosses who'd tried to recruit me within the past year, man, news travels fast in this biz. A fortunate situation I'm in I suppose, thanks, God.

Actually, kinda funny, the very first thing I thought when I found out I was getting it was — YES, I can devote myself full time to marathon training! (I guess I haven't exactly been fully enganged in my work lately ;-)

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Elliptical, 52 minutes. Shin's still tender, even more, so much for low impact. Advil, ice. What a hack. So I found this contraption I've never heard of, supposed to help strengthen shin/calf muscles, called a DARD — Dynamic Axial Resistance Device. Looks to me like it's for body builder dudes. A little pricey, but I'm looking for something more than usual toe/heel raises, etc. that I've been doing, and trying to rig up weights hanging down from my toes to raise was clumsey at best. I feel like such a jocko homo buying crap like this, weights scare me.

I need a new book to read, and another to listen to in the car ...

This sounds familiar ...

"Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to greater danger. It works the same way in any country."

— Hermann Goering, Hilter's 2nd in command, during his trial at Nuremberg