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


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.


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.