Sunday, December 30, 2007

Brain Freeze

I'm so dense sometimes. I managed to burn the skin my left knee with an ice pack. This was actually a fitting end to a less than stellar year.

Races
2 Marathons (PR - 3:53:43)
1 30K
1 11 Mile
1 8 Mile
2 5Ks

Total Mileage: 1,424 Miles

2008 will be better.

Hope you all have a safe New Year's Eve and I wish you all the very best in 2008.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Freeze Warning

I'm posting the following message from the National Weather Service not to illicit any sympathy from my friends in cooler climes, but instead to burst any miss impression that those of us running on the deserts of the South West US are basking in a balmy nirvana all winter. It can get cold here.

The National Weather Service in Phoenix has issued a freeze
warning... which is in effect from 3 am to 9 am MST Friday. In
addition... a freeze warning remains in effect from 3 am to 9 am MST
late tonight and early Thursday.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Mission run

Hi all ... made it up to Mission Viejo last night with the family to spent some quality time with my brother and his family. Got in a great run early this morning around Lake Mission Viejo. Still trying to stay on my base building schedule; however after dealing with the hills for the first lap around the lake, I was struggling to keep my HR below 143. On the second lap, I decided to screw the base training rules and open up the throttle. HR peaked out at 155 going up the hills on the south side of the lake. This is a little outside of my Aerobic Zone, but I enjoyed the cruise.

Realized I screwed up the link to the route along the beach between Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach in my previous post. For the terminally board, you can see the route at this LINK, and select Satellite view to see the beach.

Have a great week. Hope you all get a chance to spend some down time with your families.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Furnace

Two days in Manhattan Beach and two good runs along "The Strand" (click on the link and select Satellite View to see what this area looks like). Yesterday I ran a 7 miler from the north side of Manhattan Beach south to Hermosa Beach with excursions out onto the Manhattan Beach Pier and the Hermosa Beach Pier. I mistakenly wore my long sleeve technical top and after 20 minutes I was so hot that I did something I'd never do in Phoenix. I took the darn thing off and ran shirtless through the pre-dawn darkness. Not a pretty sight mind you, but it seemed to make sense at the beach.

The amazing thing was the contrast between the shirtless wonder and the local runners bundled up as if they were expecting a snow storm at any moment. I must have some freakish furnace burning inside keeping me warm.

This morning was different. It really was a cool morning with temperatures at 40F (4.5C) and strong winds blowing out of the north. Running south, with the wind to my back was a lot of fun, but I got blown all over when I ventured out onto the piers. Running head long back into the wind was no picnic either. I extended the run out to 11 miles this morning to get a bit more time on my feet. Other than my arthetic toe, all the parts kept moving for 100 minutes. I also kept my HR under 140, I really am serious about working on building up my base again.

This afternoon I'm off to Carlsbad for a day and then up to Mission Viejo on Sunday to visit my brother. With any luck, the running gods will continue to smile when I step out the door.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

On the road again

I'm on the road again. I'm off to Los Angeles for the rest of the week and then off to Carlsbad for a quick vacation with the rest of the family. I skipped my morning run this morning. I evidently did more damage to my right knee with my "cone" accident this past Sunday than I thought. The back of my right knee bothered me all afternoon yesterday and was still stiff this morning. I hope to get in a run on Thursday morning in Manhattan Beach ... but will see (getting old is hell, avoid it if you can).

WARNING: Non-Running, semi-political topic to follow

My wife works for a small non-profit organization that supports pre-school education for "at risk" children in Phoenix. In plain English, the group provides pre-school education for families that are living in abysmal conditions for which sending their children to pre-school is far beyond their financial means. In Phoenix, this translates to our large Hispanic under-class.

I got a chance to spend some time in each of the 4 classes supported by this group this morning and was amazed at the language abilities of the children. Putting the corrosive politics of illegal immigration aside for a few minutes (if that's possible), we in the USA have a lot to learn from these 4 year olds. In particular, our long standing insistence that language education is only appropriate for kids of high-school age.

The comprehension of the syntax, vocabulary and grammar associated with both English and Spanish exhibited by each of these children certainly exceeded my abilities with any two languages. These kids started pre-school in August not speaking a word of English and had somehow become conversational in 4 months. Although they all had picked up a great deal of English in the first 4 months of pre-school, the one class in which the teacher only addressed them in English was remarkably different.

These kids all spoke English with the same flat "mid-Western" accent prevalent in the more affluent sections of town; however what set them apart from their pampered peers further to the north was their ability to flow back and forth between speaking English to the teacher and Spanish between themselves. I dare say that the Escalade encased children in my neighborhood couldn't pull this off.

As someone who has struggled to learn French as an adult and watched my three children struggle with the sad state of language eduction in our High Schools, I was amazed at the obvious. We really need to be introducing comprehensive language education much earlier in the education cycle than high-school. As those of you living outside of this country already know, being able to speak multi-languages has it's advantages. Someday, we'll figure this out and get kids thinking mulit-lingual when their minds are still mailable enough to pick it up ... or not ...

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Keeping it Real

I was back out and running this morning following my 30K on Sunday. Nothing fancy, just another slow 7.4 mile trail run. Muscles felt ok, but the back side of my right knee hurt a little after 5 miles; all in all, a nice run.

Thomas asked an interesting question the other day, “Are you sure you're prepared for a marathon?”. On an existential level, I’ll never be ready for a marathon. There’s just too much to worry about. However, I don’t have to run to the perfect marathon to be happy. Too many of us get wrapped around the axle worrying about our next marathon. Will I PR? Will I break 4:00 (or 3:30 or 3:00 or …)? Will I hit the wall? Will I … Why do we do this to ourselves? Although it seems like everyone on the planet is running a marathon in the next 6 months, the fact still remains that only a small proportion of the population at large can run that far.

The Carlsbad Marathon is a few days shy of 4 weeks away. If I were on track, today I’d have run 8 miles with 5x600m at 6:50/mi pace; 11 miles on Wednesday; 4 miles on Friday; 15K at race pace on Saturday; and 17 miles on Sunday. Don’t think that’s going to happen. At best, I’ll run 35 to 45 miles at varying distances trying to stay at the edge of my aerobic range. At this point, I’m only trying to get my body ready to enjoy a 26.2 mile fully supported long run surrounded by great people in a gorgeous setting. I think I’ve gotten to the point were I’m just happy to be running, performance is secondary. Now don’t get me wrong, assuming I can avoid another serious injury, I fully expect to get back on an improvement path and exceed the targets set in 2006; but for now, I'm just happy to be alive.

On a lighter note, I’ve got a few photos from the 30K. By the way, for those interested, my final time was: 2:46:48 – Average pace: 8:57/mi



Sunrise over the first mile of the course



Some folks thought it was cold at check in



Water Station set up



I'm on the left side of this picture just past the 6 mile marker. The other 3 people in the picture passed me at the upcoming water station. Note that two of these folks are dressed as if they are running with Mike in Canada while I'm out for a run on Maui.



The leader cruising along after 13 miles



Coming back through the same water station on the return. Not looking at all relaxed.


Non-Running Pictures


For anyone interested in Toulouse, France (there may be one), the local newspaper collected a set of GOOGLE EARTH photos of some of the major sites around the town. I thought it was cool.

Enjoy

Sunday, December 16, 2007

30K Race Report

It was with no small amount of trepidation that I lined up in the start chute for the Desert Classic 30K this morning. It’s a perfectly nice race; very well organized and run in combination with a 30K relay (5K, 10K, 10K, 5K) and usually draws about 100 people … 20 or so running the relay and 80 running the 30K. I ran this race last year and had a blast. In fact, it was the best race I’ve ever run and the only time I’ve ever won an age/gender medal. So this morning, with far less preparation than last year, I knew I wasn’t going to do as well. I just needed to lower my expectations, set a game plan and run my race.

At gun time, the temperature was 35F with the sun peaking over the horizon. I elected to ditch my long sleeve technical shirt and instead huddled in the middle of the pack trying to stay warm waiting for the gun. Yeah, I know 35F sounds a little chilly to be standing around in shorts and a singlet, but this is the desert. I knew that it would warm up quickly as the sun continued to rise and I’d quickly get way too hot with long sleeves and gloves.

The first mile went by in 8:37, a little faster that I wanted, so I backed off and quickly settled into a 9:10ish pace for the first 9 miles. Other than a brief potty break along mile 8, I did a great job holding a comfortable pace on the out bound.

Once I turned around and started heading back to the start, I got a burst of energy and immediately increased the pace. I clocked mile 10 at 8:47 and mile 11 at 8:41. I was still feeling pretty good, but noticed that I was starting to breathe harder. Regardless, I had confidence that I could keep up this pace for the rest of the race. I’d caught up with and passed a group of 3 runners that were 40 seconds in front of me at the turn and I really didn’t want to get passed again by these folks.

After an 8:37 mile 12 however, things started heading south. I haven’t run further than 12 miles since my last marathon in June and my quads started complaining about the pace … which started the usual internal dialog so many of us have deep into a long run, “slow down, you can’t keep this up for 6 more miles”, “shut up, we’re not slowing down”, “you’re going regret this”, “yeah, yeah, yeah, tell it to the judge”; so on I went, but running closer to 8:50 than 8:30. The quads continue complaining and a couple of runners sailed by me (they were even smiling) and I trudged on through mile 14, 15, 16 and 17 - just praying for the finish line. On mile 18, I caught up runners on the last leg of the relay and put the hammer down. Now that there were more people on the course, the chance of getting passed went way up. I don't know why this was important, but it was.

Mile 18 went by in 8:30 and then immediately after passing the 18 mile marker, I ran into a large traffic cone. I must have been so tired at that point that I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to where I was running. This cone was probably 2 feet tall and hard to miss. The cones run along the entire race course, so I’d been passing one every 15 seconds or so for the past 18 miles, but for some reason, this cone just jumped out and attacked me.

When I hit the cone, I started falling forward and veered into the road. Fortunately there weren’t any cars coming (or I wouldn't have been around to write this report)but the non-graceful stumbling act took a lot out of me. I completed the last 0.6 miles close to a 9:00/mi pace; not great, but I finished.

Splits:

8:37, 9:07, 9:11, 9:06, 9:20, 9:07, 9:07, 9:57 (pottie break), 9:10
8:47, 8:41, 8:37 8:48, 8:35, 8:50, 8:48, 9:01, 8:31

Post Race - I had intended to do a cool down, but there was no way I could run another step after I crossed the finish line. Instead, I walked around the post-race area for 30 minutes chatting with folks and trying to get the lactic acid out of my legs. When I got home, my feet were killing me. My right foot was throbbing where I have a bone chip floating around, my arthritic big toe on my left foot was throbbing, my old plantar fasciitis injury in the right foot ached and the ball of my left foot was sore. What a mess. My muscles held up fine, but my feet were complaining from the quick ramp up in mileage. Fortunately, after a 30 minute soak in ice water, most of the soreness went away.

Thank you all for all your encouragement over the past several weeks. Ironically, even though this wasn't the best race of my life, it did give me the confidence of finishing the Carlsbad marathon next month. It won't be a blazing fast marathon, but I should be able to complete it.

Have a great week.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Trail Running

My 7.4 mile run along the Squaw Peak Park section of the Christiansen Trail was the exact opposite of the mud bogging experience from last Friday night in Reach 11 Park. Whereas Reach 11 is pancake flat, the Christiansen Trail rolls through rocky hills along the north side of Squaw Peak Park. It was a completely different experience. As happened on Friday, it was raining when I started the run, but the water was washing down the side of the hills and not puddling, let alone forming the type of lakes I wadded through on Friday.

The pace was slow out and back. Running up and down hills with rocks everywhere makes for slow going through most of the run; but the views were great.

I'll leave you with a few pictures:



10 minutes after the rain stopped



Good Dog on the Run



The sun breaking through the clouds late in the afternoon



Looking north towards the McDowell Mtns.



It was a lot easier to run up this than run down it



Getting dark on the way back

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Check that one off

Rain finally made its way to the Valley of Sun. For the second weekend in a row we’ve received over an inch of rain. Yeh, I know this doesn’t sound like much, but when you live in a climate that only receives 5 to 6 inches in a good year, this is a whole lot of rain over 8 days. For some reason, I had this bright idea that running on one of my favorite desert trails would be a lot of fun in the rain.

WRONG … this particular area doesn’t drain real well and was little more than a 8 mile mud bog. I slipped and slid around the course for nearly 90 minutes, walking through the deeper puddles. It took so long to get around the course that I had to turn on my head lamp for the last 30 minutes. As the rain continued to fall, the puddles got deeper and deeper, going from ankle deep to mid-calf. Along one of the last stretches, the water got so deep that my black lab had swim up the trail.

You’ve should have seen it. I’m out running on the desert in the dark with my head-lamp on; wadding through muddy water up to my thighs with my dog swimming along in front of me. For a second, I thought I was down in Bayou Country. The irony is that I normally worry about the rattle snakes when I’m running in this area at night. Fortunately, I don’t think those suckers swim very well.

I’m glad I did it, but I don’t think I’ll do it again. Next time I decided to run on the desert in the middle of two week soaking, I’ll pick something far more hilly and much rockier.

I’d like to give a big shout out to Lana and Michele. Both ran the Rocket City Marathon this morning and were going for their first sub-4:00. They’ve religiously worked their way through the Pfitz 55MPW game plan and are in fantastic shape. I’m sure they far exceeded their goals. Their times weren’t posted as of this writing, but they’ve probably posted their race reports by the time you read this.

Have a great weekend.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Accidental Runner

I’m back. 11 days, 4 cities, two states, two countries and 13,000 miles later I finally made it back to Phoenix. Although I certainly get to go places many people only dream of, traveling around is kicking my butt but good. I spent last week in France. I usually really enjoy going to France, but this trip was too short to get over the initial jet lag and too packed with business meetings and dinners to give me a chance to catch up with my friends in that neck of the woods. And I’m flying coach again (tight travel budget).

I don’t really mind flying coach, but it’s always a crap shoot who you’ll get for a seat mate. It’s either a travel pro that knows you’re supposed to spend most of those 10 hour flights to Europe sleeping or a first timer that wants to talk for 6 straight hours. Fortunately, the gods of low cost tickets shined on me again; aisle seats with seasoned travelers both ways. I even lucked out with my connections. My flights on the first leg of both my outbound and inbound trips were canceled and I was able to re-route, keep my aisle seats and get to my destination faster. How often does that happen?

Running didn’t go nearly as well. In fact, I only got in two runs for a total of 11 miles while in France.

Monday: In the air between LA and Frankfurt and then onto Toulouse
Tuesday: Arrived in Toulouse at 6:30PM; found hotel in the small village of Tournefeuille at 8:30; fell into bed at 9:30
Wednesday: Dinner with customer from 7:30 to 10:30
Thursday: Off work at 8PM, quick 3 miler before searching for dinner
Friday: Off work at 8PM, 8 miler before dinner
Saturday: Flew from Toulouse to Phoenix via Munich and Denver. Got home at 6PM (thought about running for 2 minutes)
Sunday: Woke up feeling dead. Pulled my back moving boxes with Christmas decoration, bagged rest of day

The Friday run was only supposed to be 5 miles; however, I took an accidental 8 miler when I got carried away and didn’t turn back towards the hotel after the first 2 miles. I got out of the office at 8:00 PM and back to the hotel around 8:30. I thought I'd go out for a quick 5 miler before looking for some dinner, but instead, I found myself enjoying the cold night air so much that I just kept on running out of the village of Tournefeuille, figuring I'd just find a loop back into town soon enough.

After 45 minutes I was breezing along as the temperature continued to drop when I realized that I was running alone in a strange town late a night; in fact, I’d lost track of which village I was actual in. No one knew I was out running, I didn't have any money on me, nor did I have any ID; not even a room a key. There was nothing but me, my DNA and my running outfit. I suddenly realized that I was really running alone, literally and metaphorically. Now what?

I knew I’d run a mile or so towards the west and couple of miles more or less south and as I kept going, I had some sense that the route had turned back towards the east. Of course, this was France. There is no such thing as a straight road, nor do roads necessarily go where you think they should. But I wasn’t too worried. I knew there was a freeway two miles to the east of the hotel in Tournefeuille and I’d have to run into it sooner or later.

I finally came to a round-about with a sign pointing to "Toulouse - Centre de Ville". Great! Toulouse is east and north of Tournefeuille so this road had to take me more or less north-east and I still had that freeway to find. About a mile later, I came upon a ugly massive round-about. Back in the deep recesses of my brain, I could only recall one round-about this massive that didn’t have a park or monument in the middle. It was at the end of the end of the freeway I assumed I'd have to run over before heading into down town Toulouse. I had actually run so far south that I'd nearly over run the only landmark I was sure of finding.

My luck continued as I found a path along the side of the freeway that took me directly back into town again. If your interested in the track, you can find it here.

I made it back to the hotel around 10PM, splashed some water on my face, did a quick wash-up, jumped back into my suit and headed into the center of the village to find a restaurant still open. After a quick dinner (yes, I know this is an oxymoron in France) I got back to my hotel at 11:30, packed my bag, set my alarm for 5:00 AM and tried to get some sleep before flying back to Phoenix.

I apologize for not keeping up with everyone last week. I’m sure lots of you have done some amazing things over the last week that I completely missed. Looking forward to getting caught up this week. I might even get in a mile or two.

Take care.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Feeling Well

I'm starting to feel like a runner again. I've had 5 runs for 34 miles already this week with a long run on the docket for Sunday. This will be my first 40+ mile week since June. I'm on the road again, so I've had some variety. 2 different desert runs in Phoenix, a nice run along the coast in Carlsbad, CA, and 2 runs through the hills in the north part of San Diego, including a 500' hill climb; sweet! I'm heading for Toulouse on Monday for a few days, so I probably won't get the same out put next week. But I have my cold weather gear with me and hope to get a run or two in between meetings.

Hope you are having a fine weekend. Take care

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Death March

What's that you say? "Don't take off too fast in the beginning; run your own race". Sorry, I didn't quite get that. "Stay focused on your objective", "Take it easy on the down hills" .... "blah blah blah" ... I've heard it all before. Heck, I've said it all before; but for some reason, I ignored the universal truths of racing and took off way too fast on the "Rails to Trails" 11 mile trail race in Prescott Valley, Arizona on Saturday.

I screamed down the big 2 mile hill in the beginning, dropping 500' to the valley below, started fading early (why wait), got passed by what seem to be 90% of the field and dragged my sorry butt to the finish line (see picture to the left) some 97 minutes after the starting gun.

The race is a point to point course starting on top of a hill 500' feet above and 2 miles from the Peavine trail; heads east past Watson Lake for 4 miles; joins up with the Iron King Trail; continues east for another 3 miles and veers into residential streets of Prescott Valley. The course continues for another 2 miles through the streets before ending up at the Prescott Valley Convention center. The course is simply beautiful. Both trails are former narrow gauge railroad beds converted into hiking/biking trails. The trails are compact dirt and are well maintained. There are no loose rocks, branches or other crap to slow you down, nor does the trail cross over any roads, so there is no traffic to dodge along the way. It is essentially perfect running conditions. Of course Prescott Valley is at 5100'; not exactly Immigrant Pass, but high enough for a flat-lander like me to be feel the effects.

I didn't mean to race this weekend, in fact, until I ran into one of my trimmer friends (read: one of my faster / leaner friends - pictured to the left) on Wednesday afternoon, I didn't even know there was an 11 mile race in Prescott Valley this weekend. Anyway, who ever heard of an 11 mile race. Friday night, I decided to take him up on his offer and we left at 5:30 AM the next morning for the 90 minute drive up to Prescott Valley. The temperature dropped from from 65F to 45F on the way up the hill and I was happy to see that the race organizers had convinced a local car dealership to let them use the inside of the show room for registration. It was the only time I've used an indoor rest room with flush toilets, marble counter tops, fancy soap dispensers and hot water prior to a race start.

Immediately after leaving the parking lot at the start, the race heads down hill, and I mean down hill. My buddy is a lot leaner than I am and a much better runner, but for some reason, bone-head-Phil ran with him all the way to the bottom. Even though my lungs were screaming that I was going tooooooo fast (down hill mind you), Mr. Macho just kept right on running and yapping as if I could do this all day long. Once we hit the bottom of the hill and entered the trail head, it was painfully obvious that I'd blown it big time and I bade him fair well. No sense on killing myself, besides, I had the car keys, so there was little risk that I'd be left at the finish line.

I still wasn't too worried, I had two miles under my belt and although there weren't any mile markers on the first 5 miles of the course, I figured I had slowed down enough and locked onto the next runner in front of me for what seem to be an easy 8:30ish pace. However, after only a mile or so of running together, we hit an up hill grade and for the second time in 3 miles I had to let a runner go.

Immediately, 10 or 12 runners passed me so I picked up the pace again to hold on to the last guy in the group. We ran by Watson Lake and the group of 12 dwindled to 4 as the faster runners continued to motor on down the trail. 3 guys and 1 women running along with me holding onto the back for dear life.

This is a very small race, with only 140 or so runners. It was so small that I envisioned that the entire field had passed me back on mile three and I was now in sole possession of last place. Now there is nothing wrong with last place; by definition, someone has to finish last, but the thought that it was me wasn't particularly appealing. Finally, somewhere near mile 6, at the start of the second up-hill grade, I could hear huffing and puffing and heavy foot-falls behind me. I wasn't alone and I wasn't in last place, yet.

At the top of the hill, the woman that had been chasing me down caught up to me. I wasn't wearing my Garmin nor where there regular mile markers on the course, but there was a sign indicating Mile 6 near the bottom of the hill and another one at the top marked Mile 7. My time between the two was 8:48. I told the huffing and puffing lady that we had just done a heck of a lot of work to run an 8:48 mile, hoping that I'd found someone interested in running with me and pushing me along. Unfortunately, she took the news of our pace rather badly and after exchanging a few other pleasantries, she dropped back again. Oh well, I still had the small pack of four directly in front of me.

Actually, the pack of four in front of me had been reduced to a pack of one as the three faster runners had broken away from the 4th on the hill and continued along the course. There was now only me and a 30 something looking guy. I pulled up next to him and started chatting about running and races (what else do we ever talk about during a race). He was from Chicago and hadn't run the Chicago Marathon, but did have some idea that the race was halted due to poor contingency planning on the part of the race organizers. As we continued to talk about races he told me that this was the longest he had ever run; not his longest race, his LONGEST run.

This info hit me like a brick as I realized I was hanging onto someone who had never run 11 miles in his short life. I'm trashed and I can barely keep up with a guy that doesn't have an 11 miler under his belt. That was just too much information. I somehow screwed on some courage and picked up my pace and dropped the newbie. He was about at his limit anyway and dropped back quickly, leaving me totally by myself.

I struggled for the last 2 miles, somehow willing my legs to continue. I could tell I was slowing down again. My right foot had gone numb a few miles back, but the feeling had returned and I knew I was getting close to the finish. I could do this. It wasn't going to be pretty, but I could hang in there. Then two runners (one pictured to the left) blew by me. 800 meters to go and I dropped two more places in the overall standings. Worse, I thought I remembered that Mr. 91 was 54, so I'd just dropped to last place in my age group, or, at best, dropped one more position in the M50-54 age group. At this point, you could have stopped me with a feather.

I knew I'd started out too fast, I trashed my legs on the big down hill early on and now I was getting passed by my peers who had run a much smarter race. Oh well ... it was still a fun run. Somewhere on those last 800 meters as I watched 91 continue to open the gap between us and totally unable to respond, I remembered something Steve Walker had said on his pod cast after the Bay State Marathon earlier this year. He was talking to someone at the end of the race, describing how great he felt and how much he had enjoyed the race; all-the-while describing his experience with hitting the wall in a marathon for the 16th consecutive time in some graphic detail including the associated dizziness and nausea. It occurred to me that we runners really do somehow block out all the negatives and keep racing over over and over again for the love of the sport, for the camaraderie it brings us and for the extreme highs we get at the end of the race.

I limped through an 8 mile recover run this afternoon (temperatures were considerably higher than 45F .. closer to 85F), but I loved every inch of it. I'm taking a working vacation this week, so I should be able to get in several good runs. For those of you living in the USA, I wish you a happy Thanksgiving week. For the rest of you, I certainly hope your week goes well and that you continue to run strong.

Take care.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Running Free

Over and over again, I’ve counseled folks to dump the electronics and just run their recovery runs; tonight, I finally took my own advice. No Garmin, No HR Monitor, not even a sports watch; just me and my dog and 6 miles running through the moonless night on the dark paths along SR51 in north Phoenix. 3 miles out; 3 miles back. How long did it take? What was the average pace? What was my average HR? Who knows? Who cares? It felt great. I think I’ll make it a regular habit.

Last night I ran a 4 mile hill run. With the Carlsbad Marathon looming only 9 weeks from now I’ve got to get in some serious hill work. When I ran this marathon last year, I was totally unprepared for the hills and tore up my quads but good. My small neighborhood is nothing but hills, but for some reason, I’ve never thought of using it for a hill workout. It’s always just seemed to be way too steep. In actuality, it wasn’t so much as the hills are steep and keep coming, but instead, I was just too scared of running slow. With the fear of running slow behind me (just look at my average pace in the past 6 months), I headed out for two 2 mile loops in the hills. I struggled through the first loop at 10/mi, but finally got into the groove on mile 3 and started to enjoy the climbs; trying to keep up a constant pace up and down the hills. Other than a little knee pain, I was no worse for wear at the end.

Have a great week.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Inspiration - Part II



I realize that most of you have already seen Ryan Hall's kick-butt finish during the US Olympic Marathon Time Trials; however, I just can't get enough of it. The quality of the attached video is very poor; however, watching Ryan run sub 4:40ish miles over the last 10 miles of the marathon is something to behold. His legs whirl around with an incredible stride length, yet his upper body sits quietly as he speeds by spectators. There isn't any wasted motion in his running. In fact, I think we need to come up with a different word for what he and some of the other elites are doing when they clock in at sub 2:10. If what I do is called running, certainly what they are doing is something altogether different and deserves its own word.

I went out tonight and did my best to keep my upper body quite and just enjoy myself. The temperature was just above 80F a couple of hours after sunset as I started running north along the trail that parallels the SR51 freeway. I knew something was different when I passed the 1 mile mark at 8:37. Lately my time at this point has been closer to 9:50. I slowed down a little for fear of blowing up and continued north for another 3 miles to the overpass running over Union Hills road, hit the lap button on my watch, turned around and started running the 4 miles back to my car.

I knew I had averaged something just over 9:00/mi on the way out and wasn't about to slow down; but was surprised when mile 5 clicked by in 8:30. My right foot had fallen asleep on mile 4, but I started getting some feeling in the foot again on mile 6 and kept picking up the pace. I was breathing hard and was way outside of my aerobic zone; but so what - it felt good to be running again. I'll feel the effects of over doing it in the morning, but it was worth it.

Outbound pace: 9:09 (not bad)
Inbound pace: 8:25 (go team)
Total Distance: 8.4 miles

Hope your week is going great

Take care.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Inspiration

We all pick up inspiration from odd sources. I had the experience yesterday when I volunteered to work the hydration station at my club's 50K event on Saturday. To keep costs down (we are a small club), the race consisted of 10 5K loops in a local park. The cool part of this arrangement is that I got to see everyone every 20 to 30 minutes. I got to see the really speedy people at the front (who I never see) as well as the back-of-the-packers. Whereas, I have nothing but respect and admiration for anyone that sets out to run 31 miles on a Saturday morning, there were two people I found particularly inspirational.

The first was the #1 women finisher, #2 overall. She had a remarkably economic running style, with very little vertical movement or torso rotation … just straight ahead running. Lap after lap she cruise through the aid station, took a couple of cups of Gatorade or water and headed off for another lap. No expression on her face other than a slight smile; not a bead of sweat anywhere nor any sign of fatigue. She was just a running machine.

The picture below is her coming through the aid station at 45K; looking exactly as she looked at 5K, 10K, 15K … and so on. She just kept getting faster and faster and faster. She ran the last 5K in 23 minutes. I was glad I wasn't trying to keep up with her. She made running look too simple. Just put one foot in front of another and repeat for 4 hours and don't waste energy with excessive motion



Her husband showed up with a bouquet of roses and her kids while she was out on the last lap. Somehow, he new she was going to win as well of when she'd finish up the race … now that’s confidence in your wife.



The second person I thought ran an inspirational run was the guy who came in dead last. Now, I realize that someone has to come in last in every race, but I’d never had the chance to watch anyone work so hard for 6 hours. When he got to the Aid Station at 45K, he was the only runner left in the race. He had been beaten by everyone. He had been lapped by the field and 5 runners had lapped him twice. He was now leaving for a solo 5K. But he headed out again for that last lap with a great deal of enthusiasm despite his overall position. He knew he was going to finish his first ultra. Unlike the woman pictured above, he hadn't come into this event believing he was going to be the first place for his gender. He just wanted to prove to himself that he could run 31 miles; and after 5:59:00, he met his goal. Just amazing. He demostrated that, with a little confidence and a lot of preparation people can do amazing things.



As for me, I had a nice 10 miler this afternoon with my black lab. The temperatures are still high, but at least the temperatures are closer to 80F instead of north of 90F. I was back over at one of the desert parks in North Phoenix running an 8 mile loop followed by a shorter 2.5 loop to get the total mileage up over 10 miles. I stopped for a few minutes after 8 miles to give my dog some water. The poor animal was thoroughly confused when I tossed his bowl back in my car and headed back into the desert. He runs here a great deal and knows the drill. He knows the turns we take and knows the pace. Heading out for another lap was way out of the ordinary. He got back into the swing of things after a few minutes and was leading the way once again.

Race Shout Outs:

My buddy Lisa hit another PR this morning at the Phoenix New Times 10K, shaving nearly 3 minutes off her previous best.

Last week, Robin completed 33 miles of a very tough 50 miler when her stomach failed to get onboard with her race strategy. This woman is really hard core. Her race report is well worth reading.

Have a great week. I posted few photos from my run this afternoon. It gives you some idea what Phoenix use to look like before we allowed residential development to blade every inch of the desert for over-priced master-planned communities.




GOOD DOG!



Still looking cool and collected after 3 miles



Running towards the McDowell Mtns in Scottsdale AZ



Finally, some real shade.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

US Olympic Marathon Trials

Boy wonder, Ryan Hall, powers through the last 10 miles of the US Men’s Olympic Marathon Trials blowing away the competition and Ryan Shay dies in the same race, 5 miles in. It was an incredible day in US marathon history. Unfortunately, what little coverage our sport gets in the US, it was all centered on Shay with only a few inches on Hall. However, the picture to the left says it all. Hall took control of the race after 16 miles and ran the second half in 1:02:45 – That’s an average of 4:47/mi.

I didn’t do as well this week. I think I screwed up something in my right knee when I took the tumble on the tread mill last weekend. 2 miles into my 8 miler on Tuesday night, the top of my right knew started hurting something fierce and I pulled up and walked 2 miles back to my car. I layed off the leg on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and then missed a 5 miler on Saturday when the day got away from me.

That left a 12 miler this afternoon as my only other mileage. I only got in 8 miles before the sun went down and it got way too dark to run through the desert. As the sun was setting I stepped over 3 tracks recently left by rattle snakes and wasn’t interested in sticking around to find an owner of one of these in the dark.

The run itself was less than appealing. I sort of ran/walked through the first 6 miles and then inexplicably, I got a burst of energy on the last 2 miles as the desert cooled quickly with the setting sun and ran all the way to my car. Fear of snakes will work wonders on my energy levels I guess.

I hope things went better for you this weekend. Have a great week.

Take care.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Into the Void

The high temps are back in Phoenix with a vengeance, hitting 97F at the airport this afternoon with some locations around the city reporting over 101F. There was no way I was going to attempt a long run in that heat. Of course, the thought of running 17 miles inside on a treadmill wasn’t all that appealing, but at least I wasn’t going to self-combust inside the gym.

I brought along my MP3 and cranked up the tunes to try to stay sharp and overcome the mind-numbing sameness of the treadmill. My HR held steady between 145 and 147 and all systems were cruising along great for the first 9 miles. I varied the pace every so often to give my legs some variety, but I must have started to dehydrate on mile 10 as my HR increased to 152 and didn’t recover very slowly when I increased the pace to break up the boredom. However, things got ridiculous as I finished up mile 13 and started mile 14.

One of the great things about distance running is our ability to enter into that zen-like state of consciousness where we are barely aware of our surrounds and living exactly in the moment. I never slip into this state on shorter runs, but after an hour or so, I usually find myself day dreaming about something or other and traveling along an internal auto-pilot. On Thursday night's 10 miler I crossed a very difficult part of a familiar trail in the dark with no head lamp and had no memory of doing so. The trail drops suddenly 10 feet into a wash with sand across the bottom, immediately followed by a steep climb on the other side. I was a mile beyond this point when I suddenly realized that I had no recollection of where I’d been for the past 2 miles.

As nice as that feeling is running along under the moonlight on an urban trail with no automobile traffic, I wouldn’t advise doing the same on a treadmill; the damn machines are far less forgiving. After two hours of running the treadmill this afternoon, I must have started day dreaming about something or other (probably thinking about running). All of a sudden, reality came crashing back into sharp focus when my foot stepped off the left side of the belt. Involuntarily, both hands miraculously caught the railings on either side of the treadmill and my left hand hit the STOP button. Somehow, I manage to keep myself from beign slung off the back of the machine and into the wall directly behind the treadmills.

My first reaction was to start the machine up again and continue on to finish out the 17 miles; however, as I stood there with a death grip on the railings, I thought better of it. 13 miles isn’t what I wanted, but still, 13 miles is 13 miles and it’s insanely far to run on a treadmill.

I hope your week going well. I’m trying to figure out how to get in all the trips I still need to complete through the end of the year and take the remainder of my vacation. I think I’ll sublet my office, it doesn’t look like I'll be spending much time there this quarter.

Take care.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Getting my Tail Moving



Things are starting to get back some semblance of normalcy; 8 miles on Tuesday, 5 miles on Wednesday and 10 miles on Thursday. I’m still not moving along at a decent pace, but moving along pain free. Now all I need to do is to get my mileage up to something respectable without further injury.

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

SoCal

Hi all ... things are going great out here in central Arizona, but I don't feel much like blogging with friends and family in harms way in Southern California. My minor running exploits simply seem irrelevant. Fellow runner Anne , has been doing a bang-up job keeping up with the action as it happens around San Diego and has been far more informative and insightful than the talking-heads on the national networks. Check her out.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

15 Miles

OK … I realize 15 miles isn’t much to brag about (especially for you ultra-runners), but this afternoon was the first time I've managed the feat since the San Diego R&R marathon this summer. I left my Garmin and my Black Lab at home and headed out to the trails at Reach 11 Recreational Park with my sports watch, HR monitor and two bottles of PowerAde. I left my lab at home since he has punked out after 8 miles several times lately, given me yet another excuse to stop running short of my target and I left my Garmin at home because I knew I would be moving slowly and didn't need the damn thing reminding me of that fact every few seconds.

I couldn't have asked for nicer weather. The temperature was right at 80F this afternoon. I realize this sounds high to some of you, but the humidity was south of 10%. With humidity that low all your persperation evaporates instantly, keeping you nice and cool. The wind was something else however. It was blowing very hard from the north with strong gusts picking up at random. In fact, the wind was blowing so hard that it nearly knocked me off my feet at one point. Fortunately, most of the trails through the park run east-west, so I only spent a mile or two with the wind in my face.

I started out about the same as last week. My HR shot up past 140 after a mile but finally locked in at 147 and stayed there for the next 140 minutes. This is a little higher than I’d like (so what’s new), but I’ll take it. At least it didn’t get totally out of control. Along about mile 3, my brain got into its usually argument with my legs. You know the drill; legs, "time for a short walk"; brain: "no way, keep running"; legs: "I want a break"; brain: "shut up and keep running". I took a swig from my Powerade bottle and kept going. The same thing happened on mile 5, but this time my brain was day dreaming and the legs just started walking on their own. The brain (ever attentive) was shocked that it wasn’t consulted and got the legs moving again. Not a clue why the legs were so rebellious; probably still torqued off about losing the previous argument.

The legs settled down and finished the first loop and we all headed east again for the second loop. The internal arguments started up again, except the brain joined in the argument trying to rationalize why the legs might be right. Every step I took east was another step I’d have to walk back if the legs gave out. Fortunately, somewhere along mile 10, the rational brain took control and told everyone else to quite down. In another 10 minutes, we’d be heading back towards the car it argued, so why stop now? Once we are heading back, the fastest way to get there is to keep running. The turn point was actually 20 minutes down the trail, but the legs bought the lie … very gullible body part.

After running 15+ miles at a nice and steady 10/mi pace with the heart beating at a steady 147, I finally got back to my car. Not the prettiest run I’ve ever done, but 15 miles is 15 miles.

Hope your weekend went well.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Singapore Airlines A380 Interior



Hi all ... I purposely avoid talking about what I do when I'm not running, traveling around the planet or pontificating on the great social issues of our day; however, when Airbus delivered the first A380 to Singapore Airlines yesterday it marked the end of a major segment of my career. Like tens of thousands of people around the world, I've been pouring blood, sweat and tears into this airplane for years and seeing it finally going into revenue service was tremendous.

The attached video is a quick tour of this aircraft. Although I had absolutely nothing to do with the aircraft's interior, I still think it's pretty neat and it's usually the only aspect of the aircraft that most people seem to relate to. The most remarkable part of the Singapore configuration are the First Class Suites. Each is an individual cabin that converts to a completely flat bed. There is even a twin cabin in the middle section of the aircraft in case you have to snuggle with your significant other on those long non-stops from Singapore to London.

I started another 7 year journey on the latest Airbus aircraft(the A350 XWB) last month, so if I don't get fired, I should have another video ready to go sometime around 2013.

Back to running posts tomorrow. Enjoy your week.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Un petit succès

Thank you for all your words of encouragement as I slowly build up my mileage again. I really appreciate your comments. I’m trying hard to stay injury free, cognizant that my next marathon is only 15 weeks away and every week I spend on the disabled list is a week I don’t have to prepare.

That said, I had hoped to break through the 40 mile barrier this week. I started out great with 8.5 miles, 9.7 miles and 6.4 miles back to back for a total of 24.6 miles in 3 days. I added another 4.2 miles on Saturday; bringing the weekly total to 28.8. All I needed to do was run 11.2 miles on Sunday and I’d be home free. Shoot, I could run 11.2 with my eyes closed. I’d run 13.8 over a very rough trail in the heat last weekend. 14 to 16 miles didn’t seem to be out of reach … go go go.

Well … things didn’t turn out so well. I had several family obligations in the morning which precluded getting in a long run before noon. The temperature was in the mid 80s(F) with nary a cloud any where within 200 miles and the sun beating down directly over head (or so it seemed) when I finally hit the trail at noon.

I could easily blame the heat for my poor performance, but that doesn’t jive with what I saw my HR doing. Within 1 mile I knew I was toast. My HR was holding steady at 140 but my quads felt like I’d been running hill sprints for the past hour. By the time I’d completed the second mile my right calf was tightening, not painful exactly, but it really wasn’t happy. For the next few miles I sort of jog / walked and wasn’t feeling all that bad, thinking I could get in 14 or 15 miles over the next 3 hours. But by mile 5 I was shot and it was all I could do to get back to my car. Total mileage 8.00. Total time: something akin to flying from Phoenix to San Francisco.

This is just classic over training syndrome caused by adding too many miles too fast. Yes, I know better. No, I won’t do anything different. This week is a new week, a new opportunity. We’ll see how it goes.this week.

Shout Outs:

While I was wallowing in self-pity, real runners were out doing amazing things:

Addy: Ran the Dick Collins Firetrails 50 miler on Sunday. This was her first 50 mile race. To someone like me who has never run anything further than a marathon, 50 miles seems like an insanely far distance, but Addy plowed through it with grace and power. You’ll enjoy her race report and great pictures.

Robin: Ran the Dupont Forest Trail Marathon in North Carolina and hit her PR for the distance on an off-road event. More amazingly, she ran the Stump Jump 50k in Chattanooga, Tennessee a week early (in hellish conditions) and was only running this marathon as a training run for a 50 miler in 3 weeks. This woman is one hard core trail runner. She’s also a mean tri-athlete. As always, she’s wrote a great race report with plenty of pictures.

Mike: Banged out another marathon in 3:34 on a very hill course. Mike is the fastest guy my age that I know. Every time I doubt my ability to improve, I need only think about Mike’s consistent performance and know it’s possible for us 50+ types to perform well. More great pictures.

Jamie: Ran in the Mt. Desert Island Marathon with Mike. I don’t know how these guys contend with all the hills. Jamie hit a PR on this course, finishing in 3:21. His shoes would be smoking on a flatter course.

Lisa: PR’d her 5K time again in the local Komen 5K. Lisa just gets stronger and stronger every month. She is currently training for her first TRI.

Pat: Ran the same local Komen 5K as Lisa. Didn’t make a PR, but made a great showing.

Kate: Ran the Phedippidations World Wide Half-Marathon solo. Of course, she got to run it in Wellington, New Zealand, so she had plenty of wind and plenty of gorgeous country-side to enjoy.

Jen: Ran an amazingly fast half-marathon in the bay area. She certainly smoked most of her competition and ended up with an Age Group placing to boot.

Dawn: Ran yet another marathon this weekend (this has got to be her 20th for the year). Dawn keeps getting stronger on her quest to break 4 hours.

NON RUNNING OBSERVATIONS

Just a couple of other things. I didn’t mean for this post to get so flipping long, but I was so impressed with everyone running so well over the weekend, I couldn’t stop myself. Those who are terminally bored by my political / social ramblings, aught better stop here.

Pan handlers vs Office workers. I came upon a pan handler this evening as I was exiting a freeway on my way to a reception. There is nothing particularly unusual about seeing a pan handler on a Phoenix Exit Ramp this time of the year, these folks blossom in Phoenix as soon as the day-time temperatures dip below 90F so they are a dime a dozen; however, this one did something I’ve never seen. He looked down at his watch, noted that it was 6PM, stood up, folded his little cardboard sign under his arm and walked off the job site. It occurred to me that I’d done exactly the same thing 15 minutes earlier. I got my last eMail out, noted that the time was 5:45, turned off my PC, packed it neatly in my brief case and walked off the job site. Perhaps we’re not all that different.

Sedans vs SUVs. Faithful readers will know that I often rant about SUVs. Living in Phoenix and driving a small car puts you in an oppressed minority group. People in this city buy larger and larger SUVs to feel “safe” with the mistaken theory that the bigger the vehicle, the safer the vehicle. The place is crawling with SUVs. SUVs are everywhere. Some times it feels like I am a lone wolf crying in the wilderness, surrounded by lumbering elephants. Therefore, I was amazed, no dumb-struck, when I exited another freeway tonight and found myself surrounded by sedans at the stop light. 4 sedans waiting for the light to change. Not an SUV in sight. Perhaps we are maturing as a community.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Cheat Exposed

By now you’ve probably read about the loser in the photo to the left. The photo shows Roberto Madrazo finishing the Berlin Marathon in 2:40:57; not too bad for a 55 year old Mexican politician. At least it was good enough for a first place finish for the 55 to 59 year old set. More impressive however was his time over the last 15K. He covered the distance in 21 minutes or about 1.5 minute 1Ks. Now that’s running.

When pressed to explain his world record speed by the Mexican press(Paul Tergat already had added him to his speed dial), Roberto explained that he didn’t cheat. He simply stopped running because of an injury and walked to the finish line to pick up his finisher’s medal. He didn’t explain why he thought he deserved a finisher’s medal when he DNF’d the event.

On a happier note, I banged out 9.7 miles tonight. Not to shabby following 8.6 miles last night. My pace was still down around 9:50, but I was moving along effortlessly in the 85F heat of the evening. Most of my aches and pains have subsided; however, I’m clearly not as strong as I need to be. I’m getting twinges in my ankles, abdomen, shins, calves, and hamstrings … but nothing serious. I just need to pay attention and not ramp up to fast.

I owe my buddy Sallie a big apology. I completely forgot to give her a shout out yesterday. Sallie completed the Army Ten Miler over this past weekend. I think this is her longest race to date.

Good luck to all this week.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Strange creatures we humans

What gives with we humans? One day, we are struggling to keep it together and the next we’re sailing along like we were born to run. Sunday I set out to extend my long run to 14 miles … not too far, but certainly the furthest I’ve run since the San Diego Marathon this summer. The weather was perfect; temp in the high 70s, clear skies, birds chirping, just perfect and I’m pumped for the run. I was well rested after a good night’s sleep and I thought nothing could go wrong. Boy was I wrong.

Like the previous weekend, I headed over to the Christensen Trail for a little off road work. I turned on my HR monitor at the trail head and much to my surprise it registered 91 bpm! 91 bpm standing still. That’s just not right; it had to be a computer glitch.

I took off down the trail and my HR jumped to 130 immediately. By the end of mile 2, my poor heart was beating north on 140, approaching 150 and I still hadn’t hit the first hill. Oh boy, this was going to be a real pisser. Keep in mind that I’m carefully maneuvering around the rocks at something south of 11/mi … not exactly peeling the soles off my shoes. My heart responded pretty much as you’d expect when I hit the first hill and nearly topped 160 before I started walking. With 11 miles to go, the last thing I needed was to run way past my lactate threshold and blow up altogether. My legs are doing a slow jog and my heart is running a 5K.



Christensen Trail Elevation Chart .... not exactly the same as last week ... still hilly though

I repeated the run/walk routine for a while; running when things were flat and walking up the steeper hills once my HR topped 160. This went on for 6 miles until I caught up to another 50 something guy. He saw me coming and sped up. Not to beaten, I took off after him and chased him down after a couple of miles. As bad as I was hurting, he was hurting more.

After I passed this guy, I noticed that I had another 50 something guy 200 yards behind me and slowly closing the gap. It must have looked like the Old Guy Jogging club was out for a morning run. The second fellow caught up to me a mile or so later and we walked up a hill together and had a nice chat. I wished him well, he took off and I continued my walk/run strategy until I got back to the trail head.

Total distance 13.8 miles; total time 2:52:43; average pace: 12:32/mi (whoopee); Total Fluid intake: 3 lbs (48 oz); net weight loss; 5.5 lbs; total weight loss; 8.5 pounds. It must have been hotter than it felt.

Now fast forward to tonight. Temperature in the high 80s, no wind, clear skies, no moon. Perfect night for running. After a stressful day, this is exactly what I needed. Instead of trail running (running in the desert at night scares the crap out of me; too many snakes) I chose a nice path paralleling one of the North/South freeways in Phoenix. 4 miles north at a slow jog, keeping the HR between 135 and 140, followed by 4 miles running south with the HR between 155 and 160. Whereas I was unable to keep my HR below 160 at 12/mi on Sunday, tonight I cruised along for the last 4 miles at: 8:18, 8:04, 8:22 and 8:42. I was starting to feel a bit weary after 8 miles and my hamstrings where complaining a little, but I was running comfortably 4/mi faster than Sunday at the same HR. Go figure. We are strange creatures.

This weekend wasn’t the best of times for my running buddies. Mike, the fastest guy I know, ran a 2:48 in the Twin Cities marathon. Yes, I know that most of us would cut off an arm to run a 2:48, but it wasn’t what he had in mind. Of course, only Mike could take two potty breaks and still break 2:50.

Robin ran her first 50K in Chattanooga, Tennessee this weekend. Unfortunately, the ultra ran out of water on a very hot day and she was forced to withdraw at mile 26. It’s 90F and she’s out for a 32 mile run. She ran almost twice as far as I did on Sunday in much rougher conditions. Now that’s one tough runner.

David suffered with a cast of thousands in the Chicago marathon on Sunday. He finished the “race” in 6 hours (two hours behind his target) and was much more gracious to the race organizers than I would have been. In fact, I’d like to see the running community boycott the 2008 Chicago Marathon. Someone needs to give that organization a huge wakeup call. It’s not like they didn’t know it was going to be hot this past weekend. If they’d spend less time counting their cash flow and more time paying attention to race logistics, they wouldn’t have had to call the race. I know people can run in the high 80s if they stay hydrated, we do it all the time in Phoenix … but you can’t do it if you can’t stay hydrated.

Of course all was not lost. My buddy Ewen in Australia ran a fantanstic race at the Melbourne Half-marathon in perfect running conditions (those Aussies get all the good weather this time of the year). Check out his blog, it's alway a joy to read.

Thomas ran a near perfect marathon this weekend in Loch Ness, Scotland. It's hard to believe that his guy was having trouble breaking 4 hour a few years ago. He's now knocking on the door of a sub 3 hour marathon. He also regularly runs in the harshest weather I've read of anywhere. He is really an inspirational runner.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, my friend Renee ran her first marathon this weekend in Scranton, PA.

That’s all I’ve got for today. I’ve been super busy and haven’t had the time to write my blog. I am keeping up with you guys though. I hope you all have a great week running. And for those in the US mid-West, I hope it cools off soon.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Christensen Trail

I ran the western half of the Christensen Trail in North Phoenix this morning for my scheduled “medium long” run. The Christensen Trail is 10 miles of uninterrupted dirt, rocks and hills stretching across the northern part of the city. As expect, the trail kicked snot out of me. Over the 11.6 miles I spent negotiating the rocks, I climbed just over 100o'. My HR jumped to the low 140s on the first mile and bounced between 135 and 150 as I ran up and down the hills. Actually, “running” is a bit of stretch.

My average pace stayed around 11/mi the first 4 miles until I lost focus and tripped over a rock; sending me sprawling to the ground. Nothing broken and only a few scraps on my knees and palms resulted; however, I didn’t loose focus again and slowed down to make sure I didn’t drag a foot over another rock.

The scraps notwithstanding, the run was a blast. The temperature before sun rise was 71F (22C) and felt refreshingly cool for the first hour. However, as the sun continue to rise, that delightful feeling was replaced with the sensation of baking flesh along with the constant drip-drip-drip of sweat off the brim of my hat.

This evening, I off to Los Angeles for the week and should be able to get in a number of great runs in the morning before heading into the office. I hope the week goes well for you.



Christensen Trail Map


Elevation Chart

Friday, September 28, 2007

Inching Ahead

Thanks for all the kind words regarding my come back. It really helps
knowing you all are out there. 2007 hasn't exactly been my best year,
with only one PR; however, I have had to learn how to take things
slow, be patient (never my strong suit) and keep plodding along. To
that end, I got up to 8.9 miles earlier this week without walking and
without any injuries. I still have a long way to go to get prepared
for the Carlsbad Marathon in January, but I'll get there.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Fresh Air

For the first time since this blistering summer started a zillion months ago, we opened the windows in our house. Of course, had to wait until the sun dropped and the temperature fell to 80F, but the windows are open and it actually feels cool. Autumn can’t be more than a month away.

On the running front, I hammered out 7 miles this morning. It wasn’t fast and it wasn’t pretty, but it was running.

Have a great week.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Take me out to the ball park

I’m up and running again. Not very fast, but I am getting out there and moving. I took my shin out for a spin on Thursday night and ran/walked 6 miles without issue. Started out real slow, walking for a minute and running for 2, just to make sure I wasn’t going to bust up the shin again by getting overly exuberant too soon. After a couple of miles of this, I extended the running portion out to 10 ten minutes and finally ran 3 miles back to my car. 6 miles isn’t all that far, but it’s the farthest I’ve been since Labor Day.

I went out for a 5 miler this morning using the same technique. I survived this outing without any residual pain in the shin. However, I’m working way too hard for the slow pace I’m maintaining. My HR is racing while my butt is dragging. I also felt like my thighs built up too much lactate acid this morning after a couple of miles and I was forced to walk … I’ve got a long way to go to get back into shape.

The bummer is that this week was my first week of marathon training in preparation for the Carlsbad Marathon in January. Let’s see how I did.

Mon: Plan – Rest; Actual – 1.7 Miles (go team)
Tue: Plan – 7.0 Miles; Actual – Rest (5.3 Miles behind)
Wed: Plan – Rest, Actual – 1.7 Miles (3.6 Miles behind)
Thr: Plan – 9.0 Miles; Actual – 6.4 Miles (6.2 Miles behind)
Fri: Plan – Rest; Actual – Rest (6.2 Miles behind)
Sat: Plan – 4.0 Miles; Actual – 5.2 Miles (5.0 Miles behind)

The plan calls for 12 miles on Sunday … I’ll be sure to pack a lunch; that might take a while

On a lighter note, I got the opportunity to hang out at the pool at the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Stadium earlier this week. As far as I know, Phoenix has the only major league baseball stadium with a swimming pool. The pool is situated on the right field wall, about 5 feet above field level. One of the parents on our soccer team sponsored our girls at the field and invited along several parents. I’m not a baseball fan, but it’s tough not to have a good time with field side seats, 18 girls and a great group of parents (plus free food)

Have a great weekend!



The "LESLIE'S" Pool at Chase Field in Phoenix

Monday, September 17, 2007

Vacation through Pictures

Instead of screwing up my shin some more like I did last week and try another 4 mile run, I opted for a 1.7 mile walk during lunch today. Temperatures were below 100F and there was even a slight breeze in the air. I stopped along the way a couple to times to make sure the "rusty hinge" feeling had not returned. After 40 minutes of walking, the right shin was sore, but I wasn't in any pain ... that's progress.

Since I cancelled my Grand Canyon run/hike/crawl scheduled for later this week, I put together a travel-log of pictures from my last 3 trips across. I haven't annotated any of the pictures, but they are divided into: North Rim, North Kaibab Trail, River, Bright Angel Trail (South Rim) and the South Kaibab Trail (South Rim). I probably mixed up a few of the pictures and I know that the picture of the California condor isn't, strictly speaking, on the Bright Angel trail, but I was within a couple of miles of it.

Enjoy the pictures

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Georgia Update

Just checking in from Georgia with apologies to my blogging friends in central Georgia. I'm alive, but not running. I tried out the shin last Wednesday, but was forced to stop after 2 miles and walked back to my car. I'm going to give my right shin another week before I try again. Consequently, I cancelled my Grand Canyon trip. I'll post a link to my pictures from last year when I find a broadband connectio. Take care

Monday, September 10, 2007

Lost soul

I'm still alive and kicking. The shin injury I suffered during the Labor Day 8 miler at Saguaro National Park was more severe than I thought. Although I was able to get in a nice recovery run last Tuesday, I haven't run since. This is an interesting and unexpected injury. The muscles used to raise the toes on my right foot certainly got over stressed during the the long climbs on Labor Day. If you can imagine this, the muscle seems to "creak". I've had this "rusty hinge" feeling in joints before, but this is the first time for a muscle group (mid-shin, directly to the right of the tibia)
 
Icing is helping as expected, but I stopped the compression after a couple of days. Compression seemed to be compounding the problem by rubbing directly on the sore area and did nothing but increase the level of pain. The injury seems to be healing. I woke up this morning pain free and it is reduced to a dull ache as I start my early afternoon routine.
 
I'm off to Los Angeles later this afternoon and will be gone through Wednesday. I have my running gear with me and I'll just have to see if the shin is doing well enough to run while I'm there. Next my wife and I are heading to Macon, Georgia on Thursday night for my dad's 80th birthday party. I hope to be feeling well enough to get in a run or two while I'm in Macon. But, one way or another, I need to get this shin problem behind me. 4 days after I get back from Georgia, I'm heading north for a Rim to Rim run/walk/crawl across the Grand Canyon. 22 miles; 5000' down, 6000' up. Makes for a nice day.
 
Hope your week is going well.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Rendez-vous illicite

First, I’m not going to complain about the heat anymore this summer. We’re on the home stretch, so to speak, and all this 110F nonsense will be a distant memory within the next 5 weeks.

Second, there must have been something in the air tonight, because I ran past not one, not two, but three liaisons in the course of running 4 miles. I ran into the first pair smooching in the SR 51 underpass on the outbound leg. This couple was probably in their early 20s and could certainly have found a cooler place exchange sweet nothings had they been so inclined. The second couple wasn’t actually touching when they first spotted me, but their pickup trucks were parked at the very end of a deserted street, a quarter mile off the main road. There isn’t anywhere to go from here; nothing to see; nothing to visit; no houses, apartments or businesses; just the end of road and a barricade. I’m sure this couple had a good reason for parking out here; probably just stretching their legs. The third couple was more of your traditional young people in love, lip-locked in the parking lot near the soccer fields our team was using for practice. They didn't seem to care who saw them. More power to them.

In between surveying the local fauna, I got in 4 miles at 9:03/mi as a recovery run after the Saguaro National Park Race yesterday. Although the muscles in my lower right shin area about 4 inches above my ankle were sore from the beating they took during the down hills yesterday, I didn't have any discomfort while running. I actually felt good and strong through the entire run; much stronger than last week, even though the temperature was a few degrees hotter.

However, as good as I felt while running, once I got home, I started to doubt the wisdom of running on sore muscles. The darn thing hurt worse than last night. I’ve iced it 3 times already and will apply compression and elevation tonight. I’d like to get back in the saddle tomorrow with a 6 to 8 miler. We’ll just have to see.

Hope your week is going well.

Monday, September 03, 2007

My Everest

I was down in Tucson, Arizona this morning for the annual Labor Day 8 mile race through Saguaro National Park. This course has a reputation in the state for being rather hilly and it didn’t disappoint. The elevation map (below) only provides a glimpse at how hilly this course is. The only way to understand this course is to get out there and let it beat up your quads on the steep down hills and burst your lungs on long up-hills. A perfect way to spend a Labor Day morning.



Gun time was set at 6:30 AM, so I got to the park entrance around 5:30 and found a place to park along the outer edge of the park as the eastern horizon started to brighten. The over night low in Tucson was 75F, but that would soon change as the sun slowly rose over the Rincon Mountains on the east side of the park; but that wouldn't be for another hour. For the time being, I could warm up in the shade of the mountain.

 


I took the rest of the pictures in this set after the race, so you won't see any people milling about. I also apologize for the poor lighting. The only time I had to go back and take these pictures was high noon; not the best time of day for subtle lighting effects.

The course undulates up and down over Mile one and Mile 2 with steep 50' down hills that set you back on your heels, immediately followed by an equally steep 30' up hill. Over all in this section, the course descends into the valley below, but the only thing I can remember is people streaming by me as I held back, trying not to overdo it; knowing full well that I still had a long hill climb on miles 4 and 5.

 


Note the warning to bicycles on the right side of the road. The Park Service needs to add one for runners. The course drops 50 feet straight down after passing the sign.

 

 
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The course flattened out on mile 3 and gave my quads a rest. I was watching my HR carefully in this area, trying to keep it below 155; again, trying to hold back for the hill climb. People stopped passing me in this section and I started reeling a few back; mostly the cotton tee-shirt and tennis shoe set who had blasted off the starting line like there was no tomorrow.



The HILL starts on the last part of mile three. As we turned the last corner before starting the ascent, a petite thirty-something made a "statement" pass and surged by me. I didn't know we were racing until she got around me, but she immediately slowed back to may pace once she got 10 feet in front of me. This was fine with me; I could always use someone to drag my sorry butt up the hill.

I sped up a little and got on her right shoulder. She didn't take too kindly to this move and surge ahead again. Fine ... I caught up with her again and sat on her tail, keeping myself 2 feet behind her. I don't think she could hear me and I know she couldn't see me without doing a Linda Blair-like head spin, so I continued up the hill in this formation for a few hundred yards before her pace started to falter. I passed her slowly on the right thinking that she'd surge ahead again, which she did. But she couldn't keep up the pace (which at this point was only 10/mi) and started falling back again. I turned and gave her a few words of encouragement. I think her response was something close to "fxxk you." The heat just makes some folks crazy.

I continued the grind up the hill, passing the walkers and slower joggers in the process. I must have past 20 people at the aid station half way up the hill. Lots of runners came to complete stop at this aid station before continuing upward.



The picture above was taken at the bottom part of the hill where I was dancing with my friend. The picture below is the hill directly after the aid station. It felt a lot steeper than it looks in this picture. When I passed this point, I still had a mile of climbing to do.



One of the fun things about this climb is that it has a false top. You think you see where the hill crests, only to go around the corner and see the road continuing to climb in the distance. I just put my head down and kept grunting it out.



But I did eventually reach the top and I'd kept my HR right around 160 for most of the climb. In my treadmill training, this meant I could now accelerate and pick up the pace over the last few miles. HA HA HA HA. I'm soooooo funny. I know running inside under ideal conditions doesn't really simulate the great out-of-doors, especially running outside in Southern Arizona in the waning months of summer; however, I didn't expect my legs to refuse to react to a direct command. Brain to Legs: "You may start running now." Legs to Brain: "Remember what your girl-friend told you a few miles back!"





After much coaxing, I got back up a to an 8:40/mi pace, but couldn't run any faster. It was the strangest feeling. My HR was holding steady at 155, I had at least 10BPM to play with, but I couldn't generate any power. The only saving grace is that the last few miles of the race are pretty. And running as slow as I was, I had plenty of time for site seeing. If you look closely at the picture above, you can see the road heading for the finish on mile 8.

Technical Stuff:

Splits: 8:09, 8:17, 8:28, 9:10, 10:06, 8:34, 8:53, 8:41
Place: 207/570 - Complete Field; 162/305 - All Males; 20/39 - M50-54 only

Runners who know what they're doing: Go check out my friend Mike. I had a chance to talk with Mike before the race and wish him him well and I actually saw him take off with the leaders this morning, but he was out of my sight within 10 seconds. He finished 5th overall with a blistering time of 47:27 - that's a 5:55/mi average pace.

I hope you all had a great Monday; even those of you living in parts of this world that didn't get the day off. Have a great week ahead.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Mileage

After screwing around all summer, I finally got my weekly mileage over 30 mpw. IT wasn't much crow about and I had to bang out a 10 miler on a treadmill this after right before heading down to Tucson to for the Saguaro National Park Labor Day 8 miler, but I made it.

For those celbrating Labor Day on Monday ... have a great day off.

TRAINING FOR THE WEEK:

Mon: Rest Day
Tue: 7.3 miles, 8:17/mi avg pace
Wed: 5.6 miles, 9:37/mi avg pace
Thr: 8.6 miles, 8:41/mi avg pace
Fri: Rest Day
Sat: Should have run day
Sun: 10.3 miles, 8:47/mi avg pace

Total Mileage for the week: 31.7 miles



Weekly Mileage over the past 52 weeks.