Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Boorish Behavior

Per my plan, I ran 11.3 miles this evening. Too many early morning meetings has precluded my usual routine of getting up before the sun and pounding out a few miles. Instead, I've been running in the late afternoon or at night.

With nearly 2 hours of road time, I had plenty of opportunity to come into contact with some of the brightest residence of my fair city. Tonight, I had 3 sets of morons scream at me as they whizzed by in their cars / trucks / SUVs. The vehicles are all the same; these idiots are all the same. I can't understand a thing they say, but I'm sure they found it very witty. Two years ago, I had one of these Einsteins throw a 40 oz fountain drink my head as they sped by (they missed). I think I'll switch back to mornings.

Take care.

Monday, February 25, 2008

De plan boss, de plan

I finished out last week very strong with a 7 mile run, topping off a very nice 27 mile week; the highest volume of the year. Nothing close to my usual 45 to 50 mpw, but a heck of lot better than zero. Now that the weather is turning super nice and the hills in Phoenix are turning green in anticipation of spring (check out the shot of Lookout Mtn I took from my office balcony this afternoon) and my mileage is actually starting to look respectable, I had to do something this morning that I haven't done all year. I actually wrote out a plan for the week.

I'm not ready to commit to any races, just staying focused on getting healthy and building up my stamina again. But I've got to tell you, I was darned pleased that I got in 4 runs last week (7.2, 10.1, 3.1 and 6.9) without blowing up my left knee.

Hope your week is going well.

Take care

Saturday, February 23, 2008

A cool drink

Running 10 miles followed the next night by 5 hours on my feet mixing martinis for 25 women (more on that later) evidently took its toll on my legs. As I did the other night, I took off this morning with my dog with no particular plan; perhaps a nice 10 miler around Look Out Mountain or just 6 miles around one of my usual loops. I started out slow but by 1/2 mile it was obvious that I'd be cutting this run short. I couldn't generate any power and my heart felt like it was racing in my chest ... not exactly what I had in mind. We (the dog and I) sort of ran / walk through 3 miles and called it quits for the day.

It wasn't an intolerable experience by any means. It was a pretty morning; perfect Chamber of Commerce spring-like weather in central Arizona with clear blue skies for 50 miles in every direction and just the slightest hint of coolness in the air. the air even had a slight moistness to it following the rains last night. A perfect morning for a run / walk.

I'll hit it harder on Sunday.


For the second time we hosted an All Female Martini Party as a fund raiser for one of the christian churches in the area. This party sold out in a day at $35/head and would have sold out at $50/head. Without getting into my affiliation with this group (it's not a pretty story), this is the second time I've had the chance to play bartender to this group. We keep it all female to give the women a chance to let their hair down without a bunch of drunk husbands lurking about and provide sober drivers to ensure everyone gets home safe and sound. Otherwise, there are no limits.

This year, the two big hits were Lemon Drops and Cosmopolitans. I made so many Cosmopolitans that I ran through 24 ozs of Lime Juice and started pushing Coffee and Chocolate martinis after 4 hours to ensure I could keep making Cosmos for the ladies that would drink nothing else. The funny thing about a coffee martini is that no one ever thinks of ordering one, but I've never met a woman (who drinks coffee) that doesn't enjoy it once she tries it. On the other hand, I can't see the attraction to Lemon Drop martinis and Cosmopolitans. Yes, I realize that Jessica Parker amped up the popularity when it became her signature cocktail on Sex in the City, but ladies... there are other martinis out there.

Anyway, everyone had a great time, I ended up with enough empty vodka bottles to make a typical Frat party look like a Disney Movie and no one got sick (like last year) or naked (like last year).

All the glasses ready to go.

The first Lemon Drop of the night

Party in full swing: Cosmopolitan, Lemon Drop and Chocolate Mint martinis

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Home Tour

With no particular plan in mind, my black lab and I set off down the road this evening for a slow run. It was a perfect evening for a run. The wind was blowing all over as a storm was developing to the north. Flashes of lightning pierced through the darkness on the horizon and the smell of rain was in the air. I punched up an all Amy Lee selection and cranked up the tunes. I've got 40 songs of her songs on my iPod, so I was pretty sure I couldn't out run her.

3 miles into the run, I found myself running by the first house I bought after moving to Arizona in 1980. A cute little place my wife and I picked up for 85K with a 70K mortgage. Sweet! Sort of wish I was still living in it. The music kept pounding and I kept running; feeling pretty good. No pain, no fatigue (no speed, but so what).

I wondered around for a few more miles and somewhere along mile 6 I started heading home, but not before I took a run by the 2nd house I owned. I don't have the same sentimental feelings for the second house. It was OK; much larger than the first, bigger lot, better neighborhood, country club within walking distance, etc, etc … but it just didn’t had the same charm.

Amy was still singing, so I kept running. Out past 7 miles, no pain, no fatigue. All systems were working fine.

The last 3 miles were uneventful. I took the most direct route, not wanting to tempt the Fates and more than I had. But the gods of running must have been smiling on me. I wasn't 1 was less than a quarter of a mile from my house that I started to feel anything in the left knee. Again, not an acute pain, just a subtle reminder that I’m not ready to take off on a 20 miler just yet.

But I got in 10.1 miles, the longest run of the year. I also only got through 24 songs in 1:37 … still had plenty of music to keep me going once I get this knee working right. I’m targeting 24 miles for this week (10% more than last week) and I’m already at 17 … I’ll need to back off a little and make sure I don’t over due it this weekend.

Hope your week is going great. Take care.

Post Script: If you want to see a truly original running blog, check out Funny Accent. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Monday, February 18, 2008

A Real Run

My last day in Carlsbad and my best run of the year. 7.2 miles at an avg pace of 9:05/mi. This is the fastest run greater than 5 miles all year and I kept up a pretty steady pace throughout:

9:00, 9:03, 9:02, 9:07, 9:08, 9:20, 8:53

Lost focus on mile 6 and then pushed way too hard on the hills leading back up to my sister-in-law's apartment on mile 7. All in all, a good run. My left knee started aching on mile 5, but the pain never got acute. As always, the discomfort goes away as soon as I stop running.

Tuesday I need to drive 85 miles north to Torrance for a set of meetings and then drive 400 miles east to Phoenix late on Tuesday night. I hope to stay home for a few days before going anywhere else.

Take care

Sunday, February 17, 2008

From Snow to Surf

What a difference 55 degrees makes. Last Sunday I went out and tried to run in South Bend, Indiana with the temperature hovering around 3F and didn't last long. This Sunday, I took a leisurely run along the beach in Carlsbad, California and took the time to smell the roses or at least the time to take a few photos along the way. I rarely take photos in Carlsbad. I go there so often that I never see the need. But today was different. With my sore knee, I was in no hurry; might as well enjoy myself. It was a nice wrap up to a 21.4 Mile week; the most mileage I've put in this year.

I even passed a guy this morning and although it was probably pretty insulting to my unknown running partner, I stopped to take a picture of the guy from behind has I caught up with him and then stopped to take a second picture as he ran towards me.



The rest of the pictures are random shots taken along the coast on my run.

A little color along the beach
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The black streak in the sand is oil that washes up on the beach

I don't usually run along the sand, but made an exception this morning

The surfers walk down this bluff to the beach below

Stopped for a self-portrait

This is why I love Carlsbad. They haven't gone condo. You can still enjoy the ocean the way the gods intended

This lady blew by me heading north along the coast

I'll be working in Carlsbad on Monday and heading up to Torrance on Tuesday then back to Phoenix on Tuesday night. Hope you're week goes well.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

South Bend Wrap Up

I survived a week in South Bend and lived to talk about it. After my no-go attempt at running on Sunday night, the temperatures rose to 14F (-10C) on Monday and I got in a nice 40 minute run around town. I had planned to use the trail along the St. Joseph River (see pic to left), but the water level was so high that the underpasses under the bridges had flood and were now covered with ice – no fun. Instead, I did loops along the down town streets. It had snowed on and off during the day and was snowing heavily when I was out. My left knee was aching after the run, but no acute pain.

I got a second run in on Wednesday after work. Since the city had scattered salt on the sidewalks during the day to melt the snow, the sidewalks were iced over nicely by the time I was prepared to run. Instead of slipping and sliding outside, I ran 5 miles on the treadmill in the Marriott’s work-out room. Even running at a sub 9:00/mi pace for 45 minutes didn’t cause any knee pain.

I’m now convinced that whatever I did to whacked out my left knee, it has something to do with stabilizing and controlling lateral movement. I think the knee is sloooowly getting better, but it sure is taking a long time. It’s been a month since I bailed out of Carlsbad and my weekly mileage is anemic. Since the start of the year, I've logged a whopping 77.4 miles with weekly totals of 7.5, 8.2, 0.0, 9.6, 5.8 and 14.0.

After only 23 hours in Phoenix, I’m on the road again (maybe I do travel a lot). My mother-in-law isn’t doing too well, so I drove my wife to Carlsbad, California Friday night so she could spend some time with her. I need to be in Torrance, California on Tuesday anyway, so I’ll stay down in Carlsbad for the weekend, rent a car and drive up to Torrance on Monday.

While I’m down here, I got in a nice 6 mile run along the coast this morning. There are so many people out running in this town; nothing like Phoenix (in so many ways). I got passed by a slew of people, including a woman who had to be 20 years my senior. She went cruising right by me and wasn’t even breaking a sweat. All I could do was give her a thumbs up. She looked that she’d been running for a long while and had the body to prove it. Perhaps excessive qualities of beer and too much rich food while on the road isn’t the best training diet for a runner. I’ll need to check the literature.


The drive from Phoenix to Carlsbad late on Friday night was uneventful other than having to drive through not one, but two US Border Patrol Checkpoints along the way. For those of you that don’t normally travel near the US border with Mexico, these are checkpoints along the road where all traffic is stopped in the Border Patrol’s relentless search for non-white travelers. There is something down right creepy about getting stopped by armed guards in military uniforms along the road at mid-night. Is this what we’ve really degenerated to as a culture?

The funny thing was that within a mile or so of the second checkpoint I saw a person run across the freeway. I'm so glad that stopping US Citizen for an ethnicity check makes so many people feel safe.

Take care.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Running on Mars

I think I've found the lower end of my cold temperature tolerance. I took a short run tonight in South Bend, Indiana; temperature 3F/-16C. Holy crab, that's cold. I know my friends in northern climes will think I'm some sort of woose, but my god, I thought my nose was going to fall off. After 20 minutes I'd had eneough and headed back to the hotel. Wind child, wind schmill ... it's just too cold for me to to be running at night with the wind blowing at mach 3 and snow swirling around my head. Don't get me wrong, I was real excited about running in the snow, but these are "arctic" like conditions and I just don't have the clothes for it.

On the plus side, you can't beat that CRUNCH CRUNCH CRUNCH sound on every step. There's nothing like it on the planet. My head was happy, my fingers, nose and cheeks were miserable.

Special note to Mike P. First ... leave an eMail address next time you have a question. I'm always happy to respond. Second, glad you're coming to Scottsdale, it's a perfect time of the year to be running on the desert. For an ultra experience you can't beat the Pemberton Trail on the north side of the McDowell Mtns. It's about 16 miles around, not to difficult, but very pretty. It'll cost you $5 to get into the park, but well worth it.

If you are more adventurous, I'd also suggest you make your way south to South Mountain. The National Trail is 14 miles and a nice challange.

If you're up for the ultimate in trail running in Phoenix, you've got to try the Charles M. Christiansen Memorial Trail. 20 miles out and back on a trail you won't soon forget. This is my all time favorite run within the city limits and you won't have a clue that you are in a city of 3+ million people.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

After Bathing at Baxters

I down loaded my favorite Jefferson Airplane album this morning in a effort to punch up my iPod's play list. I seem to remember that After Bathing at Baxters was their 4th album (could be wrong there) and was the first album to have a profound impact on my musical taste. Before this record showed up in my house, I listened to nothing but teen oriented pop music.

I haven't thought about this music in ages, which isn't too odd since there isn't a single pop song on the album and I don't think it had much, if any, radio play even in the late sixties; but for a kid living in the suburbs of Philadelphia during the winter of '67-'68, it was a real kick in the head. I played it over and over on my parent's portable record player as load as I could get away with. As much as I loved listening to Grace Slick sing those strange lyrics, my parents hated it. It was load and brash music, nothing like they'd ever had in the house before; a sharp contrast to Mitch Miller and his ilk.

I do remember that I bought the album completely by accident. I belonged to a record club back then and had to buy an album every few months. I don't recall what I was trying to order, but I can assure you that it wasn't the Jefferson Airplane. I must have accidentally checked the wrong box on the order form or something got screwed up at the factory; regardless, Grace Slick and the rest of the band found their way to my corner of suburbia. I guess that's how life is. You get exposed to something completely by accident and find out that it really speaks to you on a very deep level. After this album, there was no turning back …

With any luck, the new (old?) music will help my running. I’ve kept up with the short bicycle commute to work this week, but my running has sucked. I went out and bought a neoprene brace for my left knee to see if the compression would help stem the onset of the discomfort; but after a few tries, I think that the pressure of my knee cap is only exasperating the problem and not helping. The frustrating thing, of course, is that each week that I don’t run, my conditioning slips further and further.

I’m off to South Bend, Indiana (near Chicago) tomorrow for a week of intense business meetings. The weather forecast shows snow most of the week. Perhaps a quiet run through the snow is just the thing I need to get back on track. I have such fond memories of running through the snow, listenting the CRUNCH CRUNCH CHRUNCH sound under my feet, the last time I was in South Bend. I'm hoping for a repeat.

Take care.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Superbowl run

I really like the Super Bowl. Not because I like American football, but because it seems that most of our population is obsessed with the sport. Every year, I try to go out and do something during the "big game". Some years, I've gone skiing; other years I've taken long rides through the desert; this year, I went out for what amounted to my long run on my road to recovery.

5.3 miles; not exactly a long run in the traditional sense of the phrase, but the longest run I've taken in a month. In keeping with my go sloooooow approach, I took several 30 second walk breaks during the first 4 miles. I also got a little rain.

I was actually looking forward to running in the rain this afternoon. Ironically, I can see Cardinal's Stadium, the stadium used for the 2008 Super Bowl, from my house. It's only 15 miles to south west and hard to miss. Around 4PM this afternoon, the stadium disappeared under what appeared to be sheets of rain; however, all I got was a heavy, but intermittent drizzle. Oh well, I'll take what I can get.

The only other news of note is that I converted my GT XCR 1000 mountain bike to a commuter bike this afternoon. I swapped out its knobby tires for wide road tires and changed the rear chain ring to a narrower range. I pumped up the rear shock to reduce the sag and swapped out the peddles with old style flat peddles (there's no way I'm riding on the streets of Phoenix clipped in).

Before now, I had been using a bike more reminiscent of Almira Gulch from the Wizard of Oz to get back and forth to work. I even found myself humming the music used in the movie when Almira first appears on her little bike; riding with a rod-straight back and a sour look on her face. My new "hybrid" will a big step up and cost me nothing to upgrade since I cannibalized other bikes I'd had in storage for parts.

Hope your week goes well. Run strong. I'll be back out there running longer distances with you in no time.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

ARR Marathon

I didn't run a marathon today, but I used the down time to volunteer at the Arizona Road Racers' Marathon / Half-Marathon this morning. We had 60 people run the marathon and 170 or so half-marathon. Even though we don't come close to competing with the AZ R&R Marathon in early January or even the Lost Dutchman Marathon in February, I think we put on a fun, low key marathon / half-marathon for a reasonable price. It's an out and back course along the Sun Valley Parkway; the same road we use for the 30K in December. The scenery is nice and the terrain, while not exactly flat, isn't too challenging and the road has a enough curves and hills so you’re never staring down 13 miles of black top.

I got up and out of the house around 4:30AM and headed west for 26 miles to north side of the White Tank Mountains in the far western side of the Greater Phoenix Metropolitan area. It was 33F when I got to the staging area at the Start/Finish line and helped set up. I'd volunteered to manage an aide station and got assigned to the station near the 10 & 16 mile markers; so I had plenty of time to help hand out tee-shirts even after the 6AM early starters took off. I was pretty confident that there wasn’t anyone in the 6AM group that would get out past 10 mile before 7 AM.

I finally left the parking lot at 7:05 as the main race started and was immediately filled with a sense of awe. Driving down the road past an endless stream of red cones really drove home just how far we run. Even at 55 MPH, it seem to take forever to get out to my station. How do we do this? For a moment, I just couldn’t comprehend running that far.

Once I got out to my assigned station, I parked the car off to the side of the road, set up a small table, made a couple of gallons of Gatorade (it can’t stomach the stuff when it’s too strong …so I assume everyone likes it a bit weak); rummaged through the first aid kit to see what I had and started pacing up and down the road. There wasn't a sole in sight.

I was 7:40 when first 6AM starter arrived; a woman running with a pretty tan lab. I could see her coming down the road for about a mile and I was happy to finally have something to do. A few more of the 6AM starters came by and then the race leader (starting at 7:05) flashed by waving off any fluids at 8:12. The guy had just covered 10.1 miles in 1:07; a 6:38 pace uphill. I realize this isn’t world class, but I don’t get to see people running that fast very often. He was followed a couple of minutes later by 4 or 5 other fast people. What was amazing about these fast folks was their calf muscles. Just incredible definition.

After the faster guys came by, I started getting clumps of normal runners (I define a normal marathoner as someone like me, the 4 hour crowd). These folks were running in small groups, stopped to take a cup of water and Gatorade, and say a few words before they continued on down the road. This is a low key marathon.

The only person I worried about all day was the last 6 AM starter that came through my station. He was wearing a heavy sweatshirt and was drenched. It had taken him nearly 2:30 to get to me and he wasn’t looking good. I had a dry tee shirt in my car I’d got for volunteering and I insisted that he put it on and tie his sweat shirt around his waist. I had him drink a couple of Gatorades and a water, and gave him a bagel before letting him continue on. I also had him spread out is wet tee-shirts on the bushes in front of my car to dry out. I figured they be plenty dry before he’d cover the 6 miles from this station to the turn around point and back to me. I also knew that the last aide station would get to see him twice before letting him head back to my station at 16 miles. We also had cars driving up and down the course all morning looking for folks having trouble. But still …

In the end, all 60 starters finished … it was a great way to spend a morning.

I have a few pictures (what would a race report be without pictures); however, I didn’t take any of these. Our club's volunteer coordinator ran the marathon in 4:06, stopping every so often to talk with volunteers and take pictures along the way. I added his picture to end of this report as well as a link to his gallary.

The Start Line looking west, just before sun rise

Desert vista, 6 miles into the race

The White Tanks Mountains looking south from my Aide Station

Your's truly at my aide station. Note the ravaged desert behind me. Another "master planned" community in the making. This one is created by DelWeb corp. But they are all the same and are a real blight on our community. They come in, scrape off all vegetation and replace it with golf courses, asphalt and look-alike house with lush lawns. Just what we need on a desert.

Click HEREto see all the pictues

Our Club's Volunteer Coordinator. He's hard to miss and has a heart of gold ... and he is damn fast when he isn't spending time taking pictures.