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


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.


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.