Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Running Brave

Spent the weekend sopping wet in the rain at Cub Scout camp with the family. Not so bad as it sounds though. Back on Sunday, after a nap, ran 7.1 miles, bit of a slog, tired, shins starting to act up again, but not like before at least, not so localized, more like normal shin splints (MTSS), not too too worried, a little rest.

Two days off, back at it today, lunch, 6.7 miles, Longfellow-Charles-Smoots double loop, light rain, pretty nice, Garmin couldn't find its satellites, but 6:44 average pace overall. Pushing but not too much, not bad, humid, but not the oppressive variety of recent slogs. New shoes — Asics Cumulus — was really looking to get new Nike Skylons, but can't find 'em anywhere, these seem to be a decent approximation, responsive light-ish trainers.

So I should make it a goal to be running brave. So often lately I'm filled with fear, uncertainty, and doubt about my runs. Before and during. Fearing pain, uncertain about my abilities, doubting I can follow through. But more often than not, I end up following through, pain and all. I need to attack workouts more head on than I do now. Yeah, it's gonna be tough, but you've done it before, you can do it again, now, face it, head on, just do it. Todo.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Slow Down

I suppose I should just slow down. After my Father's Day 10K on Sunday, I ran 6.7 miles on Tuesday, Longfellow-Charles-Smoots double loop at lunch, just under 6:50 pace. Then again on Wednesday, just over 6:50 pace. Rest Thursday, some shin tenderness. Then again today. Actually today, more like 6.2, low 7:00s, I bonked, ran outta gas, dying in the heat and humidity; downpour 30 minutes after. Each run was better than the next, which is to say, they got worse, these (near) summer lunchtime runs are brutal. I see other, faster bloggers, logging mid/high 7:00 pace, or slower, runs. I feel like I'm slacking if I'm not sub-7:00, most/all of the time. Too fast in the heat, slow down, feel groovy.

So one day, Tuesday I think it was, I got yelled at. Running north on Smoots Bridge, on the right sidewalk, approaching an older woman walking the same direction I was running, not quite enough room to pass on her right, so I plan on going to the left. But I see two bikers coming toward us, anticipate we'd meet right as we'd all be passing the woman. But I judge that the width of the sidewalk is sufficient for all of us. And it is, I say "on your left" for the woman, we all pass by, bikers don't swerve, I don't swerve, everything's steady. But, the front biker yells "Whoa! Hey! WATCH OUT!", like all angry and all (I'm pretty sure he wasn't addressing the woman.)

I don't *think* I did anything wrong. There was enough room, no swerving, I think he just thought I'd hang back and let them pass with a nice wide margin. In retrospect, wtf? First, don't real bikers bike on the street, not the sidewalk? And not on the sidewalk on the wrong side of the street? And shouldn't faster moving people yield to and look out for slower moving people? Idunno, maybe I committed some faux pas, but it remains a mystery to me. Whatever. Curious.

I'll probably sound like a jerk and, and if I had any readers I'd get some negative comments, but bikers sort of bug me. Like skiers, with their prideful equipment and fancy (ridiculous looking) outfits. I don't get the whole scene. The biker yelling "WATCH OUT" to the lowely runner, like he owns the road, no, I mean the sidewalk, sort of personified the asshole biker stereotype perched nearly unconsciously in the back of my mind.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Father's Day 10K

Back from a Father's Day weekend in Rockport, MA. Ran a 10K there Sunday morning; no breakfest in bed for this Dad. Mixed results. I really wanted to officially break my 24 year old PR of 39:30, which I ran at a Pickering Wharf 10K in Salem, MA in 1982, at the tender age of 22. 10Ks seem now to be a relatively rare distance, so I haven't run one in the past couple of years since I've been racing again. But after my recent 5 mile PR (30:35) and 39:40 10K time within an 11K race last fall, I figured I had it in me to dispense with that PR from a previous life.

But it wasn't to be. I ran a 39:49. The excuses: the course was rather hilly; it was rather hot, over 80F for sure by mile 4; virtually no shade on the course, and no hoses, and little water. Definitely tougher than 1982. And, the Garmin actually claims that the course was long, by at least 120 yards - factoring that in, my time should have been more like 39:20 to 39:28.

That gives me small some solice on the quantitative side — emotionally I've broken my old record, but not on paper, so it's still a todo. Qualitatively, it was also a mixed bag. A weird race. Of 133 runners, I came in 2nd! Obviously the fast guys stayed at home for breakfast in bed for Father's Day. Not only that, I was in 1st place, exclusively, and by a good margin, for the first 4.2 miles of the race. How very odd! Almost unnerving.

Right at the outset, I'm with the leaders, and pulling, with little effort, into the lead. Apprehensive, I turned around and yell and motion something like "c'mon guys, let's go, I have a terrible sense of direction!" Part of my apprehension is being simply in a position where I have to take the correct turns on the course, etc. (I'm not at all a leader type.) Of course, there are volunteers guiding the way, but I've done enough races to know that they don't always know what's going on, and I hadn't looked much at the course map.

The good news is that, for the first 2-3 miles, I'm feeling great, low 6:00s, and even feeling like I could hold on. And being out in front is slightly exhilirating, but it's also just weird, and lonely. One thing I like about racing is the multitude of people, eyeing someone up ahead, pulling them in, overtaking them. Out in front, you're alone, being pushed by fear, the occasional look over the shoulder, rather than being motivated by the chase. I've never considered this, 'cause I've never been a front runner, but it's interesting.

I've no idea, but I'd bet that the temperature rose from mid/high 70's at the start to mid/high 80's by mile 4. This with a 9:15am start, it was hot. At least that's what it felt like. Virtually no shade, and no wind, even along the shoreline. I ran shirtless, perhaps a white dryfit and a painters cap (ala Jim Beardsley) would have been better.

At about 4, I'm really starting to fatigue, there's a fork and a volunteer there, directing, or not as it turns out. I'm still in front, I say "which way?", and he says, honestly, "I don't know", wtf! I totally slow to a trot, ambivalent, losing seconds, and decide to the right, and go, checking behind me at the gaining few runners to see if they follow me. (My wife remarked, I shouldn't have even worried, just run, I was the front guy, they would just follow wherever I went, good point.)

So very soon after 4 is where I start dying. Heat, and a another hill, and the slowing at the fork also helped to interrupt my rhythm/momentum. I'm caught, and guts and doubt dual it out in my head for the next mile or so while he and I take turns at the lead. He finally takes the lead definitively around 5, second isn't bad, right? And I still have a shot at breaking 39:30 (and he's 16 year my younger it turns out.) Excuses, excuses. But shit, I'm dying, I'm pushing, I really am, fatigue is taking over. It's f-ing hot, I used to love the heat, but it affects me more now. I'm driven in this case, randomly, by the thoughts — You're alive, not dead, be grateful and run your ass off — Make your kids proud, shit, you had a shot a first, don't lose second! — Don't waste the work you've already done!

Securely out of the first position, I'm just trying to hold on, avoid being embarrasingly overtaking by a flock of runners, after running in front for 4 miles. A sadistically placed final hill, for the last half mile secures my misery. I'm dying, I want to stop, how can I go on, I don't know how I can make it the final half freaking mile. But I'm still, somehow, in second, some random guy/spectator, sees me struggling, and yell's something like — c'mon, let's go, push, lean into the hill — like he's a runner, and knows. Thank you. It does motivate me. I push, I lean, and I see the finish. Feel like my heart's going to explode, just do it, it'd be a fine way to die, it's not pain, exactly, just sensations, in another part of the Einstein's Universe, I'm already done.

My wife asks if I'm okay, she says I said "Idunno", I don't remember. Sadistically, I'm happy to hear that the winner looked equally beat. The heat got to all of us, I think. I congratulated him, of course. We were both flabbergasted that we placed so high, he said he'd never won a race. Typically, both of us would've placed barely in the top 10 of a race this size.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Ran 7.1 today, Lake Quannapowitt loop, 6:44 average pace; it was full of effort, heaviness, and doubt. The recent 5 mile PR (30:35) must have been a fluke (I'm a phony!) But I'm going to blame it on the shoes. I used to run, over a year ago, in Nike Zoom Milers, I loved them. I hadn't had a pair in a while so I got some again, and, maybe my feet have changed or something, but they were awful, just didn't feel right at all. Other runs of late...
Friday: 6.2 miles, Landice (7:34, 6:59, 6:52, 6:43, 6:36, 7:23)
Saturday: 5.5 miles, Landice (7:49, 7:18, 7:08, 6:59, 7:04)
Sunday: Shitty 6.5 miles, Lake Quannapowitt (hot, stopped, walked!)
Tuesday: 6.7 miles, 6:44, Longfellow-Charles-Smoots double loop
Oh, I got hooted at the other day, a pickup drove by me running and a redneck wannabe riding shotgun yelled "you're sexy, man!". I thanked him.

Started reading Updike's new novel, Terrorist. It's gotten mixed reviews, actually a horrible review in the Atlantic Monthly last month. But so far I like it, Updike is supremely skilled at getting inside someone's head, the narrative is right on, it's actually not unlike the Rabbit quartet, the running commentary/critique of modern American life and culture. He nails the ephemeral, the banal of everyday living. Capturing the essence of the times as they are "now", the late 1950's, 60's, 70's, 80's in each successive Rabbit novel, and the 00's with this one. Right off the bat, he starts with the protaganist, Ahmad, a High School senior in northern New Jersey, offspring of an Egyptian father (absent) and an Irish mother ...
Devils, Ahmad thinks. These devils seek to take away my God. All day long, at Central High School, girls sway and sneer and expose their soft bodies and alluring hair. Their bare bellies, adorned with shining navel studs and low-down purple tattoos, ask, What else is there to see? Boys strut and saunter along and look dead-eyed, indicating with their edgy killer gestures and careless scornful laughes that this world is all there is — a noisy varnished hall lined with metal lockers and having at its end a blank wall desecrated by graffiti and roller-painted over so often it feels to be coming closer by millimeters.
Nice. Dead-eyed, I've thought that, I see that, in young boys "these days", it scares me. Another passage, from the 63 year old Jewish guidance counselor ...
But, sustained in a wakefulness by a nagging bladder, he instead lies exposed, as to a sickening blast of radioactivity, to an awareness of his life as a needless blot — a botch, a prolonged blunder & imposed upon the otherwise immaculate surface of this ungodly hour. In the world's dark forest he had missed the right path. But was there any right path? Or was being alive in itself the mistake? In the stripped-down history that he used to purvey to students who had trouble believing that the world didn't begin with their births and the proliferation of computer games, even the greatest men came to nothing, to a grave, their visions unfulfulled & Charlemagne, Charles V, Napoleon, the unspeakable but considerably successful and still, at least in the Arab world, admired Adolf Hitler. History is a machine perpetually grinding mankind to dust.
Who hasn't felt like this? (Not the nagging bladder part, that, so far, fortunately, remains a mystery to me.) But that's what I love about Updike, he's constantly articulating, beautifully, my own private thoughts. The bad review talked about ridiculous plot twists, I don't think that will bother me; I like Updike for the introspective prose, the plot line is seconday. And anyway, from life emerges bizarre non-sensical plot lines; before September 11th, a novel describing such a disaster might have seemed ridiculous.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


5.1 miles on the home Landice. Planned on 6.2, but cranking it to 10.2 mph for the last half mile of the first 5.2 blew a fuse, treadmill halted abrubtly, I nearly ran into the front. I wonder if it had something to do with the fact that I have a treadmill, TV, stereo, cable modem, router, and computer going through a single outlet :-/ No fuses left in the house, crap, done, oh well, a decent run, just no proper cool down. Splits were like 7:13, 6:54, 6:48, 6:43, 6:21.

Watched "To Kill A Mockingbird" with this kids, what a great movie, and book, of course, tragic but hopeful. Gregory Peck really does such an awesome job as Atticus Finch, and the kids are great too (that link has a recording of Atticus' closing statments in the trial.) We actually arranged my son's initials to be JEM, after Jem; I wanted to name my daughter Scout, but that got vetoed, as well as my lobby to name my first son (from a previous life), Linus. These older movies move so much more slowly and calmly than movies now, which I like, what an old fogie I'm becoming.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Longfellow-Charles-Smoots double loop, 6.7 miles, 6:42 average pace (splits: 7:03, 6:39, 6:33, 6:55, 6:29, 6:28). The slower first and fourth miles reflect the running up/down/around/dodging stairs/ramps/people transitioning from Longfellow to the Charles River path. Fairly tough but not dying, better than last week, not quite as hot, feeling stronger, no issues really (finally!) Lower legs and especially muscles/tendons behind knees really feeling it lately, wonder why.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Reach the Beach

Yesterday, a supposed recovery run after Saturday's 5M PR (30:35, still glowing), but, of course, too fast, really really meant to jog easy, but ended up with 7.1 miles in 47:00 (6:37); I have a pathological fear of running slow. No wonder I get injured, dodo-head.

Rest today, whale watch field trip with my daughter's 5th grade class. Cool. But, every time I'm in this situation, it's a little difficult, I get irritated and disgusted with the parents of my daugther's classmates (most/all parents came along.) Nearly every single one is, well, physically disgusting, and this is what I hate, having blatantly insulting thoughts cruising through my mind. I'm typically an underconfident type, but in this situation, I'm being very frank here, I feel superior, an alien sensation, and I feel guilty feeling this way.

I'm sure many/most are fine folks, but they've, nearly *all*, let their bodies go to such an extent, it's hard for me to imagine them making it to old age without extreme discomfort, premature institutionalization, or death; good grief, many of them are freaking limping just walking around. They're mostly younger than me (46) but are probably, on average, 25-100 pounds overweight. But the worst thing is that I witness their continual bad choices - drinking soda, eating donuts, c'mon guys, you can't even see your feet standing up, show some freaking restraint! It's embarrassing and a bad example for the kids. And I can just see the forecast for many of these kids, blowing up fat and lazy like the parents. What to do. I wish I could do something.

So on impulse I posted to a Reach the Beach Relay bulletin board about an interest in joining a team, and to my surprise got a quick response, from an experienced team; I may be on my way, we'll see how it goes. This is so not my nature, I've asocial tendencies, rarely join in reindeer games, finally loosening up the at ripe age of 46? I've also been invited to be on my brother-in-law's Hood to Coast Relay team again this year, I'm there; he says same fast small core (low 5:00 pacers) as last year, and maybe some other fast guys, maybe break 22 hours this time. Thinking about going to San Francisco for a bit and then a leasurely drive up the coast to Portland. Only three weeks between H2C and RTB, and then, if things go really well this year, another 3-4 weeks to a Fall Marathon.

Saturday, June 03, 2006


So it turned out my 5K race today was actually a 5 miler, misread the Web site. Pouring rain, only about 100 runners bothered showing up, 50 for the companion 2.5 miler, and 53 for the 5, so I was able to place 2nd ($25 gift certificate to an Italian restaurant). And with a PR by almost a minute — 30:35 (6:07 pace). Splits were 6:08, 6:06, 6:14, 6:22, 5:45.

Double loop course was mostly flat but a couple decent/moderate hills. Even though I haven't been doing any speed work and am still coming back from a few extremely light weeks while the quad/adductor mended itself, I somehow felt I ought to be able to break 31:00. Settled into a good strong but relaxed pace early, in 5th place, passed at 2 miles, but then at 2.5 everyone but two guys ahead of me disappeared, they were running the 2.5 mile race it turned out and finished up.

Into the second loop I'm in 3rd, keeping it together, it's always a question, will I be able to hold the pace, when will the wheels start coming off. Slowed some, especially on the steeper hill, but pushed it downhill harder than the first time around (worrying I'm thrashing my legs, but they seem okay.) Lower legs really getting tired, keep reminding myself it's not pain, just a sensation, doing no harm, they still work, ignore them. Started going anaerobic by 3.8, too early, really not sure I'd hold on, but pushed ahead, caught the second place guy, surprised myself and took pleasure in burying him on the last little uphill and opened up on the downhill, let loose, concentrating on form, looking strong to demoralize him (I don't take this too seriously, do I — I don't feel bad, it's usually the other way around.)

Really tiring at 4.5, I'm done, hold on, fortunately, gradual downhill till the end. Finish is on the school track, whoah, just about missed the turn into the field, started running past the turn off and a volunteer pointed my way, phew, lost a couple seconds, crap, the guy's closing in on me, 150 yards to go, no way I'm gonna let him catch me; my little blunder annoys me, I'm out of gas, but of course I'm not really, it's mental, manage to pour it on, done, phew, 2nd by 4 seconds (and he was in my age group, so my efforts earned me $25 :-).

Feeling pretty great about this one, confidence builder, especially after my 10K slog along the Charles on Thursday. Legs are healthy, felt I was mentally tough, sucked it up and pushed. Back to work tomorrow, maybe 10, start the long slow build up to October. From the Garmin ...

Mile 1 | Mile 2 | Mile 3 | Mile 4 | Mile 5

Pace in blue, elevation in green; pace is all over the place, except for the last mile.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Charles River

First time running outside at work, midday, across Longfellow Bridge from Cambridge to Boston, west along the Charles, over Smoots Bridge (364.4 Smoots in length), and back. 6.2 miles, twice. Hot and humid, way more than I'd anticipated, slogging through the last 2. Garmin acting up, couldn't get GPS signal until 2 miles in, actually stopped for a minute a half mile in to see if I could get a signal, that messed up my rhythm, then final results seem messed up, though I started the timer when I started running, I know my total time was between 43 and 46 minutes, Garmin recorded only 37 minutes, like it reset when it got the GPS, but even that doesn't add up, curious, emailed Garmin support, just wondering what's up with that. I know, I should just run, don't worry about the time, but it's my new toy, tracking it makes it more fun.

Planning on running this 5K on Saturday, not expecting much, be happy to break 19:00, no speed for months, feeling slow, coming back still from 7 weeks of little to no running, mostly elliptical. Starting to dread 5Ks, anaerobic purgatory. Whatever, very happy at least with the absence of warning cries from from the quad/adductor, still a slight niggle in left inside ankle just above funny bone, but getting better, and shins holding steady, thanks God.