Saturday, August 30, 2008

Blowing in the Wind

For the past two nights, the heavens have opened up and pounded the Phoenix area with lightning, slashing rain and wind speeds over 80 MPH. Although, my house scrapped by with only a few leaky doors and windows others around town haven't fared as well. This was one heck of a storm.





Several areas lost power when poles started flying.






Trees that had withstood all sorts of weather, couldn't take the wind.





Roofs and statues were flying all over the place. I found the remainder of a 16x10' carport next to the road on my run Friday morning. . It must have been a real Wizard of Oz moment when this thing came blowing down the street.

On the running front, the week has gone very well; right up to Friday. I gave blood again on Friday morning and then went to the gym Friday afternoon for a strenous workout. My HR hit the roof almost immeadiately while trying to jog on the treadmill with the inclintion set at 15%. Some day I'll buy a clue and remember that I can't pound out the miles after lossing a pint of blood.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Staycation

Hi all ... as promised, I'm taking vacation this week; or more correctly, I'm taking a stay-cation. I'm staying put. I'll have to admit that I worked for 2 hours this morning - some 2009 budget issues that wouldn't wait until next week - but other than a few questions from my staff (great people - not to be ignored), I've stayed unplugged. Since Friday night when I left the office, I've run 6 times - nothing special - mostly outside in the morning - but I'm running. I've also taken the time for 2 weight workouts at the gym. I don't think I'll make the US Olympic Weight Lifting Team any time soon, but I was there.

There is no one happier that I'm taking vacation than my dog (see picture). He has been neglected over the past several months as I've jetted around the planet. This week, he's been out running or walking every morning, been on numerous car rides (he now expects to get a cup of whipped-cream on EVERY visit to Starbucks), plus uncountable hours running around playing with his toys. It's been a great week for him.

Hope your week is going great. More later.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Bling

I have a friend (yes ... hard to believe) and he lives in a beautiful condo in Phoenix. The penthouse in the same building is in foreclosure and he's thinking of buying it on the cheap. Now, his idea of cheap and my idea of affordable don't intersect, but more power to him. I always think that I have a pretty good view of the north part of town from my house and then I go to his place. The views from the penthouse, on the other hand, are something altogether different.

Thought you might enjoy a few pictures I took from the 3 balconies, the largest of which is over 600 sq ft.


Camelback Mountain


Downtown Phoenix


Up-town Phoenix


Phoenix Country Club


Piestawa Peak (on the right) and North Mountain (on the left). If you follow the road in the center of the picture north and through the hills, you'd nearly run into my house.


The soon to be happy home owner, describing the 18' ceilings


Looking out towards Glendale, AZ

Friday, August 22, 2008

Coming up for Air

This is Friday, it must be Phoenix.

In what had to be the toughest travel-fest of the year I went from Phoenix - Seattle - Phoenix - Los Angeles - Toronto - Phoenix in 9 days. Visited 5 company locations, delivered 8 mid-year performance reviews, presented at one industry conference, and kept up with my usual work routine. I had this trip so tightly scheduled that I pushed everything to the limit. For example, I got to Toronto at 11:30 PM on Tuesday night, got to the hotel at 12:30 AM on Wednesday morning, worked until 2:00 AM, slept a few hours, got to the office at 8AM, worked straight through until 6 PM without a lunch break, met two employees for dinner, got back to the hotel and worked until 12PM on Wednesday when I fell into bed; back up at 5 AM on Thursday, off the airport, through passport control and security, and had breakfast ordered in time for a 7AM telecon with England. At 9:40AM flew 4.5 hours to Phoenix, arriving at 11 AM, drove south to Tempe to make a 12 noon lunch meeting, worked all afternoon and drove home 35 miles north - arriving at 8PM. Back up at 5:00 AM - drove 35 miles south to Tempe again for another set of meetings; worked through until noon then drove 40 miles to another facility in the far north side of town - sneaking in a teleconference with Mexico while I was driving North. Made it to the other office in time for a 1PM meeting with HR. Worked through the rest of afternoon until 6:30PM and was home by 7:00PM. I got a heck of a lot done. What I didn't get in was any running to speak of.

I got in 2 nice 4 milers through some easy hills in Seattle (Bothell actually) at the front end of the trip (when I was still semi-awake) and a great 6.5 miler from Redondo Beach, all the way through Hermosa Beach and half-way through Manhattan Beach and back with a jog the length of the Hermosa Beach Pier and Manhattan Beach Pier along the way. But that's it. Nothing to speak of while I was in Phoenix over the weekend and nothing while I was in Toronto. Just wasn't going to happen.

I'm now on vacation for a week; and where does a guy who is constantly on the road go for vacation? NOWHERE!, I'm staying in Phoenix.

A FEW PHOTOS

OK ... I realize you all work hard and I need to stop whining; perhaps next week ... in the mean time; how about a few pics.



Nice picture from Seattle. This isn't the typical picture seen in most travel logs, but I really like this area of town.



The big marina is Redondo Beach, the hotel I was staying at is nearby. The pier in the middle is the Hermosa Beach Pier. The pier at the bottom of the picture is the Manhattan Beach Pier. Essentially, I ran from the marina to the bottom of this picture and back.



Catalina Island. I didn't make it out there this time, but it is a really cool place to go and I'd recommend it for a visit if you get a chance.

Cheers,

Phil

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn

The 5th and final 5K of the Arizona Road Racers' Summer Series occurred this morning on yet another hot and humid Arizona morning - go figure. Gun time 6:30AM; and once again, 600+ hardy Arizonians (plus me) showed up to take on the Arizona desert.

This morning's race was in South Mountain Park and presented perhaps the toughest course of the 5 race series; an out-and-back with an up-hill outbound leg that gets progressively steeper as the race climbs deeper into the park. Loads of fun.

I didn't take this race too serious. I'm presenting at an industry conference next week and instead of training this week, I spent nearly every waking hour completing my presentation before the submital deadline on Thursday. I probably didn't run more than 5 miles Monday through Saturday. In addition, I wasn't in any mood to get up any earlier than absolutely necessary to drive 30 miles south and make a 6:30 start. So, I set my alarm for 5AM and hoped for the best. I got out of the house at 5:35, got to the park at 6:10, got my bib at 6:20, pinned on my bib number and attached my timing chip by 6:25 and jog over to the start line for what would have to constitute a warm up.

I arrived at the starting area at 6:29 - one minute to spare - can't beat that. The place was packed. I stood around at the very back of the pack for a few seconds and the horn went off starting the race. Don't know how long it took to get to the start line, but I spent the first 1/2 mile weaving in and out of traffic and dodging 3 or 4 abreast walkers (one day I will figure out why people walking at the beginning of a race feel they need to start near the front of the pack).

Somewhere in here, a 6+ foot tall woman of college age passed me by. Since I was running with no particular strategy, I latched onto her left shoulder and ran with her up the hill to the first mile marker (8:07) were I surged by her before the steep climb to the turn point. She jogged by me half way up the steep section and I surged by her again, thinking (wrongly) that I could beat her to the top of the hill and then out kick her on the down hill - I'm male after all - that's just the way these things are suppose to work.

By the time I reach the turn point, the sun was well over the horizon and the desert was starting to heat up rapidly. I'd more or less trashed my quads playing tit-for-tat with the college kid on the way up and paid for my dalliance on the way down. She passed me within 100 yards after the turn and I had nothing with which to respond ... she just kept running away. Instead of giving chase, my legs squawked on every footfall down the steep section and continued complaining until I passed the 2 mile marker (8:02).

I had expected mile 3 be a joy; a nice downhill, not too steep, not too flat - pretty vistas - who could ask for anything more? Instead, my brain started up a constant chorus of, "WALK WALK WALK". The small collection of synapses that make up the more logical portion screamed back, "are you nuts, we're running down-hill." The internal bickering continued until I could see the buildings near the finish line, although I don't really remember how I got to the finish. The last thing that I can remember is scanning the road ahead for the 3 mile marker, only to have my hopes crushed a couple of times when what I thought to be the placard turned out to be a mirage. I do remember taking a split as I passed the 3 mile point(7:48) and running as fast as I could until I cleared the timing mats at the finish.

24:44 - not my best time this year, but also not my worst - definitely the toughest course however. All in all, a pretty good morning. If you get a chance, go check out my buddy Lisa. Whereas I was totally trashed and could only think about heading off to breakfast, she joined up with her triathlon training group immediately after the race for some hellish bike ride.

I'll be in Seattle most of next week and will try to post again from the road. With any luck, the weather will be a tad cooler than central Arizona.

Cheers.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

South Bend :1 - Phil: 0

South Bend, Indiana kicked me, and kicked me hard this week. I flew up to Chicago on Wednesday morning, rented a car and drove 120 miles east to South Bend, Indiana. Simple enough, I travel all the time, but I always have trouble with South Bend ... ever since they switched to Eastern Time, 3 hours ahead of Phoenix. Worked a little and took in a late dinner at one of the better restaurants downtown and got to bed well after mid-night local time. My alarm went off at 5:30, but my body wasn't having any of it. Somehow, my brain did the math and figured out it was really 2:30AM, no way was I getting up for a 6 miler on Thursday morning; heck, I barely got to my morning meetings on time.

Friday morning wasn't as tough. I didn't have to be up as early and managed to get out of the hotel for a planned 6 miler with 4 at tempo pace along the St. Joseph River. Pretty cool. The air was damp and temperature was relatively cool. After a relaxed mile warm up, I headed north up the trail, running close to 8:11/mi. North of town, the trail raises 50 or 60 feet following an abandoned railway right of way. Feeling pretty good, I finished up the first mile at 8:11, turn around and started running down the hill. However, within 1/4 mile, my legs just shut down. I stopped running. I was dripping wet, but nothing else. Heart wasn't racing, no nasty lactic build up, no pain, no suffering. Just a whole lot of nothing. I walked the mile+ back to the hotel .. not my best run. I've run on this same trail when it was covered with 6 inches of snow without trouble, but I couldn't handle this delightful morning.

I flew back to Phoenix on Friday afternoon only to arrive at the tail end of 116F (47C) day time high. Now, that's blazing hot, even for a died-in-the-wool desert dweller. I think the low on Saturday morning was 95F, so I headed to gym to try my tempo run (better late than never) on a treadmill.

This was much better. A mile warm up at 9:30, followed by 4 miles at 8:20ish. I modulated the pace and kept the treadmill inclined between 0.5 and 1.0%. Nice run. Didn't get winded, did feel like stopping, didn't get tired, just ran and ran and ran. This is what it supposed to feel like.

10 miles on the plate for Sunday. We'll see how that goes.

Cheers