Monday, September 13, 2010

Wind Running

Moving back outdoors is a treat. There is wind in my ears! And my nose is running! And the wind is noisier than I remember, maybe because of the increased 1.0-1.5 mile per hour speed increase.

All just an observation of the road. And since I'm writing, I'll go ahead and complain again about the treadmill not stopping fast enough when I'm done with a run. The slow slowdown makes me run longer than I want!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Shin Splints Redux?

I'm a little sore in the shins again, even though I have been very diligent about the ibuprofen regime and stretching after the runs. My guess is the new pace is gradually wearing me down with the increased pounding.

The pain is not acute but more general and just a general ache. If I take a day off it's gone by the afternoon of the day after the most recent run, so that's a really good sign, I think. But still, it's a past problem that will impact my training if I can't get rid of it.

I'm not really sure what to do other than rest a bit. Luckily I was planning to do that as I approached the structured training sessions anyway.

I'll have to watch this closely.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Houston Marathon - 143 Days Away

I won't be running today due to work and being really tired from the past two days, but thought it would be nice to note the Houston Marathon is only 143 days away. That's just over 20 weeks for those counting and planning.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Strong Follow Run

After yesterday's virtual 10K time trial, I was tired heading into today's run. Under most circumstances I probably would have just blown the day off, but I won't be running much for the next couple weeks or, consequently, posting much, either.

My goal today was six miles at 7:03 pace and if I felt okay I would extend out to eight miles. At three miles I knew eight was a joke and just hoping to hang on to six. I managed to hold on with a final time of 7:05 a mile, which met the goal pace with the treadmill start-up time and the treadmill having a habit of slightly adding distance on each mile accounting for the discrepancy.

While I was really tired on finishing, the run was a really strong outing considering the day before.

Getting closer to both the Houston Marathon and entering into my structured training program.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

10k For Houston Marathon

I was looking at the results of the Alvin, Texas, 10k/5k race this past Saturday and started wondering where I would finish if I had run. I had Sunday's outdoor run, which was a good 7:02 a mile pace but was labored and I didn't have 1.9 miles left in the tank at that pace to complete a 10k. I wanted another benchmark run, so I tried it on the treadmill today and finished 6.2 miles in 6:40 pace. A new treadmill pace record for at least six miles.

What does this mean? Who knows. Maybe under decent conditions outside - not 89 degrees with some humidity - I could run a 6:45-6:50 pace 10k. Seems reasonable to me. If so, I would have finished around 5th to 6th place in the Alvin race out of around 200 or so. Not bad. But not done, either.

So maybe a race in October prior to my planned Houston Half Marathon will be in order. Or maybe not. The balancing act of high mileage weekends with racing will probably swing to the mileage for marathon preparation, as it has in the past. But there are exceptions.

Something noticed that is really annoying on the treadmill: when I hit the "stop" button, like today at 6.20 miles, the treadmill slows down much slower than I'd prefer. I'd rather come to a stop in about four strides, but no, I have to do this slow dance slow-down and nearly fall off the back of the treadmill each time. And the real bummer is that the faster I run, the longer the slow down and the more frustrating it is. Such is the life.


Sunday, September 5, 2010

First Outdoor Run

With the long holiday weekend I didn't have access to the corporate fitness center and felt like a run today. Conditions: 89 degrees with 40 percent humidity. Not exactly balmy-like. And my run reflected it.

I didn't want to just completely embarrass myself right out of the chute, and it was getting dark besides, so I just ran my standard 4.3 mile greenbelt loop. I was hoping to break 30 minutes (my PR for this loop is around 33 minutes; I would look it up in my records but I'm too lazy) with my new running speed, but I didn't quite make it. Here are the excuses (!): 1. it was getting dark and running at any speed in the near dark for the last 1.5 miles was tough, 2. it was hot (I had forgotten how hot it got here; my shirt was soaked after only a 30 minute run!, and 3. the greenbelt has lots of small ups and downs that I'm not used to any more.

So there are the excuses, and none really sound good. So I'll just note 4.3 miles, outside finally, in 30:18, or 7:02 a mile. I'll take it, all in all.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Houston Marathon - 147 Days Away

I noted that on the Houston Marathon web page the race is now 147 days in the future. And counting.

I may move my running outside in the morning if I can get up in time. I haven't run outside in Houston since June 1, so running through the greenbelt trails will be nice if I give it a go.

I was stiff in the lower legs most of the morning today after the tough week, but loosened as I was walking around most of the day looking at cars and furniture. I did manage to salvage the day by not spending much money, though. It looked like an expensive one at the start!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Five Straight Days

Five straight days of good runs and I'm getting tired. Today I cut it back to a goal of 7:00 miles for as long as I could go. The shins were hurting some and at the start I just wasn't sure it was worth it. Two miles in and I was feeling pretty good so I sped up to 6:35 a mile for one mile, got tired, decided an injury wasn't worth it, and backed off to 7:03 a mile.

After four miles I shut it down. A good week is a good week. Not to much. The pace was 6:50 a mile. I'll take it.

The week's summary is 34 miles spread over five days, with a total average pace of 7:08 a mile. By almost any measure a great week.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Fourth Straight Day

And so I have now entered uncharted territory - four straight days of pretty serious running. Today's run was meant to be a but not too long. It was six miles in 6:47 a mile. And what this does is cast even more doubt on what my target time should be.

I'll be taking some running time off later this month, but have plenty of time to think about target times in the next few weeks. I'll need to have some idea by late September since that is when I will start the structured preparation plan. If I can run a fourth day in 6:47 for six miles, could I dream of a three hour marathon? Seems insane on the surface, but the times are indicating the possibility.

At any event, though, I can back off the training later and shoot for a slower time. I need to remember the injury front associated with speed and that I only need a 3:30 marathon to qualify for Boston. But how cool would a 3:10 qualifier for New York be?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Shorter But Faster

I ran for the third straight day today, which is not something I have done much of. It was a good choice this time with my legs feeling really fresh and ready to go.

Since it was the third time out I elected to run a shorter distance with a bit more speed, thinking I would ease off the pace over time and just hang on the distance until I had enough. It didn't quite work out that way. I started with my usual quarter mile 8:00 pace warmup, got a drink of water, and re-started the treadmill for the workout. Six miles later in 6:59 a mile I was done. Really pleasing run. In fact, it has me thinking what my capabilities are as I prepare for the actual marathon training.

The reason this decision is important is that I want to pick a target finish time prior to my focused training and use that target throughout. Last year I changed my focus from one time to one ten minutes faster based on some late runs. Things went great in the marathon until severe cramping around mile 21 on in, and while I had a good finishing time, I didn't really have a good time. In effect, I think I outran my training.

So I'd rather that not happen this year. I need to pick a good target time and train directly for that time throughout. And that presents the problem...what should that time be? The last month's faster times have me wondering.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Month Summary

I finished three months of almost exclusive treadmill running today with an eight mile run in 7:13 a mile. This was a very pleasing run for distance and speed, particularly following the relatively fast ten mile run yesterday. I'm not sure right now what my goal is for tomorrow but I'm feeling good enough to have another strong run tomorrow. As I mentioned yesterday, I just want to hold my well-earned summer base together through some time conflicts I have in September until I begin specific marathon training in October.

As for the month, I ran 115 miles in an average 7:16 a mile. This on the surface doesn't look so great, but when looked at from my running history over the past three years it was a very good month. For comparison, it was roughly tied with the second highest mileage month ever, behind a 145 mile month last December leading up to the 2010 Houston Marathon. On the pace front, it was by far the fastest month of my adult career, by over 30 seconds a mile. Really nice to be able to type that.

So what does this mean? I'm not sure, but as always, if I can stay healthy and get to the starting line in good shape I think I am setting myself up for a really good marathon. Time will tell.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Cruiser Run

I'm back after a tremendous backpack trip into the cauldron of Grand Canyon. Non-maintained trails when they could be reliably found, huge drop-offs, nobody within miles in the canyon, no emergency out if things went wrong, and 23 pounds of water on my back made for a great trip.

I got back last night and had a wonderful day, er, not, in the office, but made up for it with ten miles in 7:28 a mile. Felt loose and easy, although I'm a little tight now. No biggee.

The plan for the next few weeks is to run good this week and just hold on as best I can until late September when I will start on a structured marathon plan leading up to the January 30 race. Details will be obvious as they develop.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


What a drag of a run today. The goal was ten miles in something just over 7 minutes a mile, a really aggressive goal given the really hot temperatures in the hotel fitness center and the relatively hard run yesterday. So much for the goal.

I felt really good until three miles in when I just didn't have it anymore. I dropped my speed from 7:08 a mile to 7:24 and a mile later dropped it again to 7:42 a mile. What a drag. I held it there a couple of miles but knew I wasn't making it to ten, so I dropped it again to 8:00 a mile, the slowest I have been in a while, to finish nine miles in 7:43 a mile overall. Sort of a reverse, and sad, tempo run.

But here's a thought. A bad 7:43 is still WAY faster than the 8:00 pace I need to qualify for Boston. The lesson is that if things go wrong somewhere in the second half of the race, a pace that feels ridiculously slow will still easily qualify me, if not make me proud. In other words, as long as injury doesn't happen before or during the race I should be okay.

Now for those goal times....

Monday, August 23, 2010

Back At It

I got back on the treadmill today and cruised eight miles in 7:24 a mile. Not bad, but not like I have had lately. Usually I have been running a quarter mile in 8:00 pace and then stopping the treadmill and getting a drink as a warmup, and then running the mileage I post about. Today I cheated myself by including the warmup in the above distance and time. So really I ran around 7.5 miles at a 7:13 or so pace, but that's not what the machine said so that's not what I listed on my running calendar or here.

I'll run again tomorrow and maybe Wednesday morning prior to a major speech, and I'll have to see how the rest of the week goes.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Rolling Again

In a very abbreviated day due to personal issues, I squeezed in six miles in 7:13 a mile today. Really strong and felt great.

What a turnaround from early in the week to late. Two non-goal runs on Monday and Tuesday, then two very good runs on Thursday and Friday. Go figure.

The week's summary is 24 miles in 7:24 a mile. A far cry from what I wanted this week to be, but I'll take it I guess. No much I can do about it now anyway.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mojo Again

And just like that, the mojo is back, or at least close enough.

I took yesterday off as mentioned Tuesday and climbed back on the wonderful, friendly, communicative, personable treadmill for another fun run. After six miles at 7:16 a mile, I had had enough and called it a day. I felt really good, and thought about going another couple miles, but had felt some shin splints over the past few days so said it was time to back off. And did.

I did take an ibuprofen both before and after the run and stretched some afterward. I had lost some of that discipline in the past few weeks, but don't need to get hurt for a discipline issue.

Stay on course, get to the starting line, stay on course, get to the starting line....

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


And just like that, I've lost my mojo. Not sure what is going on, but maybe a lack of sleep due to the weekend's activities has a play in it. Today was a dispirited three mile run in 7:47 a mile. Altogether not much positive to take from this mess.

Even the injury front is re-threatening. Both shins ached a bit when I was done, so I'm just going to take my ball and go home. No running tomorrow since I am heading to a dinner date and don't really have time with an increased work schedule.

Maybe Thursday.

See ya.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Difficult Run

I need to have a good week of running after the personal issue last week cut back on my mileage somewhat, so I set out for a 12 mile run in 7:30 a mile. Nope.

I got to mile 9 and just didn't have the oomph left to push through, so the run was nine miles in 7:30 a mile. Not bad, but not goal distance, either. An hour or so after finishing I was wishing I had run further since I was feeling good, but so be it.

I did manage to finish some planning for terrific vacations this fall, though. At least something went right. Of course, too much vacation during marathon training season will be less than positive. Sigh.

Houston Marathon Entry

It's official. I'm in.

As written previously, the Houston Marathon instituted a lottery system for the 2011 race. Today, a day earlier than the Marathon promised, I found out that they are going to take my money and let me run. So nice.

But there's a real goal now. Time to get to work and execute a plan, instead of this running with no real goal other than Boston qualification.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Treadmill Slow Downs

An interesting observation, at least for me, is how when I turn off the treadmill over the past two weeks the amount of time it takes the treadmill to actually slow to walking speed. It didn't used to take that long; the increased speeds are having an unintended effect!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bonk City

My plans for the weekend changed a little last night so I had a chance to run again today. May as well have slept in. My mind just wasn't in it, I was tired from three straight days of running, and I just didn't care. So I ditched it after 1.5 miles in 7:57 a mile and walked four laps on the track.

The walk really gave me a chance to get my head straight on how to approach the weekend chronologically. I decided to go back to the office and actually type up an outline of how to deliver my talk. I'm fairly confident now that it will go okay...if the politics will just calm down. But this isn't a low-key deal and emotions and politics are evident and I don't even know what all the issues are.

Anyway, I'm taking three straight days off and should be ready to put in a 40 mile week when I get back into it next week. My mind and body are looking forward to the rest.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Three In A Row

Due to some personal considerations, I ran today for a third day in a row. That would have been unthinkable only a couple months ago!

Today's run, back in the corporate fitness center following the flight home, was eight miles in 7:13 a mile. I held the speed constant throughout so there were no theatrics, just a good run. I'm really pleased and surprised at my mileages and paces the past couple of weeks, but the combination of the two have me getting a little concerned about injuries. Nothing showing up yet, but it seems to usually take a day for something to pop up. I'll keep an eye on things, but so far this speeding up with consistent distance has been nothing short of a revelation.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Forget the Hotel!

After the possessed treadmill at the cheeseball hotel last night, I had little motivation to put up with that again. To recap, if I ran seven miles today in 49 minutes, I would have to be manipulating the incline and speed buttons, collectively or individually, 48 separate times! Not accepable or appetizing.

So while I was driving to the work location this morning I spied a Golds Gym. I then gave them a call for hours and costs and other particulars, dropped by after work, and got in seven miles in 6:52 a mile. And believe it or not, the treadmill did not require multiple manipulations to keep going, stayed on the same speed until I sped up slightly at mile seven, and stopped smoothly when I was done. All wildly different than last night.

The run itself was a very fast but comfortable run. This makes six fast runs of at least seven miles in a row, spread over eight days. I'm enjoying the sense of accomplishment, something I don't often get in daily life.

Let's run!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Worst Treadmill Ever

Travelling and trying to run or work out is always an adventure. Today topped them all.

I am in a Holiday Inn Express. Usually I am in large cities when I travel, but not quite so this time (although I did fly here on Southwest Airlines so it's not really that small). And the pitiful "fitness" center showed it.

This place was about the size of my study at home, had a whopping three machines, including two treadmills and one bicycle-like thing which had an "Out of Order" tag on it. I never got one treadmill to start, so maybe it was out of order as well.

That left me with one option, and it was nothing short of possessed. I got it going without too much trouble, but couldn't keep it from inclining on me every minute on the minute. Too add spice to my life, every other minute it would slow down to 3.5 miles per hour, or 4.5 miles per hour, or whatever it felt like. So I'm madly pushing buttons at 8.5 miles per hour trying to get the incline down and speed up...but watch out, because if it comes to a stop, or anything it thinks is a stop - like below 4 miles per hour or some crazy number - it would almost hit a wall and slam on the brakes. How I can write and not be in a body cast is beyond me.

Oh yeah, I did finish the run after all kinds of swearing...eight miles in what I think was around 7:10 a mile. I was at 8.5 miles per hour as much as possible and didn't usually slow down too much when the machine went postal on me, so who knows? At least the time and the distance made sense, but I doubt this HAL really had a clue, or did it?

And to think I get to deal with this rabid machine again tomorrow. How much is this worth?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Back Again

After yesterday I wasn't sure what to expect, but I felt great right out of the box. After seven miles in 6:58 a mile I was feeling a little tired, but very pleased.

I need the weekend to make sure I'm rested up for next week. I totalled 30 miles this week in an average of 7:08 a mile.

Maybe my best week ever.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Slow Down

After the two great runs earlier this week I suppose I was due for a less-than-stellar outing, and this was it, or was it?

I ran eight miles in 7:30 a mile, not horrible, but it felt that way. The first 3.5 miles were a real struggle, the middle 2.5 were easy and flew by, and the end almost never came. I guess I should expect a day like this on occasion.

But was it really that bad? I went back over the past three years of running records and found only eleven running days that I would say were demonstrably better, in terms of distance and speed, than today. Not so bad. Have my expectations changed that much, and that quickly? Is this a recipe for injury?

Questions abound, and only discipline, time, and more running will answer.

One small note: my left heel hurts a bit on the outside of it just down toward the toes. I'm not sure what to think, but equally not sure what to do. I'll feel it some more and see what happens.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Keeping On

In a back-to-back today, I ran even better than yesterday. The strange part of this is that as I was running yesterday I told the fitness center staffer that I doubted I would run very fast today since yesterday was so quick. So much for that prediction. Today was seven miles in 6:55 a mile. I started with the usual quarter mile warmup, then starting over and put the treadmill on 6:53 a mile and stayed there for seven miles. The slightly slower time was due to the startup of the machine. No guns and blocks for this guy!

I'll take tomorrow off no matter what. These two days, while both runs felt great and no injury issues, had to have spent me.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Fast and Good

Today may have marked a seminal turn in my training - for good or bad, stay tuned. As mentioned last week, I am turning up the velocity this week and ran eight miles today in 7:10 a mile, one of the better runs in the past three years. It actually felt good the whole way. I'm not sure what I've done right.

The fastest mile was 6:53 according to the treadmill, and yes, it was sweaty, with the sweat hitting earlier than normal - inside the first mile. I also had this new sensation of sweat inside the ear. Strange, and weird.

I'll try to hold the speed and distance to some extent as the week wears on, but this was about as good a start as I could have hoped for.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Longer Run

Heading into the weekend and getting ready for maybe a better, more demanding week next week, I decided to put in some distance today. So it was ten miles in exactly 8:00 a mile, which is fairly easy to calibrate with the treadmill. It was boring, it was sweaty, it was done.

Now for a new set of goals since my fitness base seems good. Next week will be faster and longer as I bump up the mileage base in increments (23 miles this week in 7:45 a mile average). I'll see how it goes. Time to start getting serious since the vacation season is over and I can start running outside again in a few weeks - I hope!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Quarter Marathon Redux

It's already getting a bit boring, but I ran another quarter marathon today in 7:29 a mile in another good fitness test. I'll put in the back-to-back run tomorrow heading into the weekend. I think I managed to come back from the vacation strong.

On the injury front, there is absolutely nothing to report. Ankle good, shins good. I did tweak the ankle a tad while helping in building a huge utility building at the house in Colorado, but no residual effects here.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Vacation Return Run

I really dislike the return from vacation for a bunch of reasons, just ask my co-workers, and the uncertain about my fitness level is definitely one of them. I wanted to start off fairly easy here to prevent an instant injury, and managed to accomplish it. I ran a solid six miles in 7:48 a mile. I'll start to up the pace once I'm convinced the fitness is back.

And how was the vacation? Two awesome days of fishing. Four fish in 30 minutes from my trout stream in front of the house (the stream begins nine miles away on the Continental Divide). One great day of four-wheeling that ended in too much rain. And one great day of driving my raft on the Arkansas River. Terrific vacation with no running and cool weather.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Triple Runs

I did something I don't think I have done in the three years since I have been running...I ran for a third consecutive day today. This event was driven mostly by my leaving for a 10 day vacation tomorrow so I had plenty of recovery time, and somewhat driven by my recent good runs. Today was no different.

So off I went with tired legs, but I put the machine on 7:30 a mile just to see what would happen. By the time I was done I had covered six miles in 7:29 a mile, which I thought was outstanding given the week's total mileage of 28 miles in an average 7:30 a mile. Now for the vacation rest!

One issue with the being "driven by my recent good runs" is that I can easily hurt myself with too much enthusiasm. Bad idea. I have worked hard at knowing what my body should be able to do with each run and then either staying in that plan or going slower, but seldom faster. I've had some success and some failure with this strategy, but it makes sense so far. Execution, as always, is the key.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tempo Run

I'm back in the office so back to the corporate fitness center's treadmills I go. Why do we always pick the same treadmill to run on? Such are the penetrating questions I ask as I plod on....

Today's warmup run (usually a quarter mile when I start the machine over again for the real workout) felt good, so as I got a mile into the real workout I stepped down the throttle and kept doing that mile after mile until I brought the foot off the accelerator for mile after mile. When done I had covered seven miles in an average 7:18 a mile, with the fastest mile being around 6:30. Improvement is my friend.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Quarter Marathon Proof Run

Still at the hotel, this time very early in the morning since I woke up around 4:30am and knew I wasn't going back to sleep.

So off to the treadmill I go (it's too hot here to run outside, just like home) and again it's hot in the room but nobody's around so the shirt comes off. And I ran 6.55 miles in, wait for it, 7:20 a mile. It felt good, the fitness is good, the ankle is good, and the shin splints are nowhere to be seen or felt.

I'm starting to get optimistic after my vacation time off.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Flexibility Is My Friend

I had forgotten to mention last week that I had a business trip this week for a few days. I left this afternoon, got to the hotel around 10pm, and went to the fitness center for a run since I didn't have anything else to do and didn't feel like sleeping.

Great choice. I put in eight miles in 7:42 a mile and the fitness felt great. No heavy breathing, just good steady running. The bad and the good: the hotel's fitness center was around 80 degrees cool, not so great; the good was that when you run that late nobody else is around so I was able to take my shirt off. I can't do that at the corporate fitness center, not that I would want to or anybody would want to see it!

It feels good to be back close to where I was. And the ankle feels great.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Getting Back

Okay, now I'm feeling better. The running this week has loosened me back up and the ankle is feeling much stronger. Today I ran six miles in 8:00 a mile, still not fast but a solid run and one that will preserve my fitness base as I get ready for the fall marathon preparation.

Now the weekend is up and I'll take a few days off and be ready to roll next week. The idea is to get my base weekly mileage up to the point I can run credible weekly mileages in the fall preparation time. Nice to have goals; execution is always the problem.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Try Again

By this afternoon my ankle was feeling much better, so off to the treadmill I go. I turned in a very cautious four miles in 8:30 a mile, and felt no pain other than the front shin stretching I did after the run when the ankle was pushed a bit.

I know this is really a slow run, but it seemed smart given the circumstances. With the weekend coming up and some recovery I didn't want to do something stupid. So I'll probably find something else to mess up!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Pain Again

No running today. So much for the back-to-back days, and I think it's thundering outside as God laughs.

The not-so-laughing matter is that I woke up this morning with a throbbing ankle again. The lateral movement is fine, though, so I think it is healing. The forward motion is what hurts. It'll get better, but no running today. Maybe tomorrow?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Back, Sort Of

I'm back from vacation, and it was a good one with lots of hiking and long drives, and my ankle actually feels better. I hurt it again about a week ago, which took two days to recover from, but today I was back on the treadmill for a five mile re-introduction run.

The run felt fine, although it was clear my leg muscles weren't really loose enough from all the hiking. I finished in a pedestrian, by design, 8:13 a mile. The real test will be how I respond.

My thoughts are that I will run two days in a row with an off day for a while, and of course taking off the weekends since I don't have access to a treadmill. I can hear God laughing at my plans now.

Friday, June 18, 2010


I'm heading out for a two week vacation, a classic road trip loop around the desert Southwest, the first for my copilot. It should be a great time.

My ankle made a remarkable recovery today, to the point that I think I could run tomorrow if I was in a position to do so. But alas, actually I'd rather be vacating, I won't be able to.

I'm still not sure at all what happened, but each hour today was better, although the start of the day was still incredibly painful. Tonight I'll put some ibuprofen and water near the bed and take it an hour or so before getting up. Maybe that will make the walk to the bathroom tolerable.

Causes? I can only guess the tight turns on the indoor track. They bothered me on big mileage last year, although not to this extent, and especially with the off day Wednesday, that could almost be the only cause. Whatever. I'll stay off the indoor track going forward and just keep adjusting all the way to the starting line.

Til next time.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


I woke up at 5am today with my left ankle in searing pain, doing its best imitation of a serious sprain it could. After 30 minutes wondering what had happened, I got up and staggered (no, I didn't "pad") to the bathroom, took a couple ibuprofen, and made it back to bed. It wasn't good. The only shred of positive was no swelling or discoloration.

I hobbled around all through the day, with the pain coming and going, but always tough, depending on the level of ibuprofen in me. Not until I got home late today, took one more ibuprofen, and got an old pair of running shoes on did I feel like I could walk, on the side of my foot, without real pain. There's hope.

But what happened today? I checked the last few days posts and there are no real clues. Nothing happened yesterday; I didn't even run. I have no ideas.

To the point, I did not run today, surprise, surprise. I doubt I will run tomorrow, so I will miss the last 18 miles this week. No real biggee, just a disappointment. There's no push heading into what will be an active vacation, and a last run prior to that is just not worth it. Discipline? Maybe, but I just want to feel good again, and until this morning I was feeling great with fairly big miles.

Now how to get it back when I'm back in the saddle in a few weeks?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Off Day

As planned, today was an off day, and based on the way my legs, particularly my lower legs, felt this morning, I needed it. Going back to a recent post on discipline, I worked this out just about right. I am still concerned, however, that the cumulative strain I'm putting on my legs will eventually catch up with me, but as my legs improved throughout the day today I have less concern in this area than I did.

I'll resume tomorrow with the planned ten mile run at around 7:45 a mile or so, so we'll see. It feels good right now to have a short-term plan and a long-term plan, and have both coming together.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Holding Course

Today was a planned ten mile run in something under 8:00 per mile. Accomplished. But some fading in the last mile.

Details include the first seven miles on the treadmill at 7:47 a mile and the last three on the indoor track and untimed, but about the same pace as the first seven. My right hamstring tried to cramp once around mile four, go figure, and the right heel hurt some off and on for a few miles, but nothing to be worried about. On the shin front, I think there may be some cumulative pain developing, but with the past couple of week's mileage I'm not surprised.

I'll take tomorrow off and come back with ten miles on Thursday and eight on Friday, just like last week. So far I'm holding up under the back-to-back grind and higher mileage really well.

On Course

I ran the 12 miles yesterday as planned, although it was a bit convoluted in how I did it. I started with the usual treadmill run, but for some reason my right heel started huring just before mile 5 (this is the same area that had plantar fasciitis a few years ago, and I'm still gun shy), so I decided to walk a bit and maybe just quit the run. After stopping the treadmill it magically felt better, so I grabbed a lap counter and ran on the 5.5 laps/mile indoor track. This was the first time I have been on the track in maybe a year, and I don't really like it since the corners are so tight (it sits on the perimeter of a downtown-block size building) and with major mileage my ankles take too much of a pounding. But I managed to cruise the last seven miles on the track to total the goal twelve. The run was in about 7:45 mile pace, although I'm not completely sure since the track portion was run without a watch (I could see a digital clock and calibrated a few laps here and there, but overall I really don't know what my pace was).

So I'm 30% the way through the week, with a ten mile run for today. Last week the ten mile run after the twelve was very difficult, and I can feel tiredness in my legs, so the entertainment value may be high.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Running Discipline

Another day off after the long week and the week upcoming. Speaking of the upcoming week, I think this will take some discipline on my part.

One, I don't need to run too far if I feel good. That seems to be one of the primary causes of injury in the running propaganda and blogs that I read. I'll have to avoid it.

Two, I don't need to run too fast if I feel good. This is less of a threat since I have a defined pace and the treadmill will keep me on it, but I had to sit out months once a couple years ago due to plantar fasciitis, caused by running intervals with elite high school runners. I don't need that to happen again.

Discipline is tracking us all the time in running, and marathoning in particular. We have to train for months if not years. We have to determine a schedule, usually somewhat based on a planned pace, and stay with it. We have to run on that schedule. We have to create a race day plan. We have to execute that plan, which may be the hardest part of all this.

And running discipline is the key. I'll have to keep that in mind this week.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


I mentioned yesterday, I think, that one thing to be learned through running longer distances is the skill of concentration. I call it a skill since I think you have to learn it; it's not something people typically are just born with.

Now I know compared to ultrarunners what I do is not running long distance, but running regularly for more than an hour requires a certain amount of concentration. And since I am definitely an associative and not dissociative runner, I have to concentrate for what I think are long periods of time.

What do I concentrate on? As I've mentioned before, I focus on speed, breathing, foot strike, stride turnover, heartrate, posture, head tilt, sweat rate, and a few other things. But what does this mean?

I think the improved concentration skills from long runs directly translate over to the personal and professional world. At work it's pretty obvious most people can't focus and concentrate on complicated issues long enough to even get the facts straight, much less find possible solutions and then choose the correct one. Why offices provide more and not less distractions through increased use of cubes, glass office walls, multiple computer screens, reduced etiquette for office interruptions, etc is beyond me. Most of the employees just can't handle it.

So maybe they should just run long distances. Learn to concentrate. Learn to focus and stay in that zone for as long as it takes.

Running has advantages. So I keep running, for now.

Friday, June 11, 2010

"High Mileage" Week Over

I finished the five day week with the planned eight mile run today, in 7:55 a mile. That made for 40 miles from Monday to Friday, with Wednesday off. Goal met. Legs good. All positive.

I spent around 317 minutes on the treadmill this week. Mostly boredom, but a chance to work on form, breathing, and body analysis. I'll talk a bit about the "life" advantage of this type of training in the next few days. I think there is actually a positive to the treadmill (!).


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ten Miles, Again

Another day, another relatively slow ten miles on the treadmill. This time it was in 7:55 a mile, and didn't seem so bad as far as boredom. My goal was simply to make it to mile 8 without any issues and I made it to the end, so it made for a successful day.

The local rag the Houston Chronicle ran an article today on the lottery in the Houston Marathon, noting how the runners are upset and how the Houston Area Road Runners Association, who sponsored the first Houston Marathon, were left out of the process. This lottery decision continues to look bad for the Marathon.

On another front, apparently the course will remain the same as the last number of years. There was a rumor that a viaduct would be torn down in the first two miles, resulting in a course change. Well, the viaduct is still standing and the course seems to be the same, although no official announcement has been made yet.

To continue with this week's goal, I have eight miles to go tomorrow to finish a good 40 mile week. So far the week has been easier than expected.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Cramping Information

The New York Times has an article today on cramping, examining what causes cramping and what MAY alleviate it or prevent it. The conclusions are not so good.

First, it doesn't seem dehydration plays such a huge part in causing cramping. That surprises me. It does seem that general fatigue to the point of failure contributes a lot. And that is interesting.

How do I use this information? Don't fatigue myself. Yeah, right. Actually, the article did go on to say that, while pickle juice itself probably does not help, jolting the nerve firings to the muscles can help once cramping sets in. Stretching specific cramping muscles can re-fire the nerves and stop the cramping.

Or just take some pickle juice. And forget the bananas and water. Go figure.

The eggheads always have the answers....

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Struggling Run

I thought I was going to die today. Not really, but the last four miles of the planned, and completed, ten mile run was really difficult. Hunger, tired, sore, and generally bored made for a tough run.

In truth, I faded fairly badly at the end. I even had to slow the treadmill down to 8:23 a mile for the last mile. By then I didn't really care, but it sticks in me now that I feel much better. Oh well.

But I finished the 12/10 back to back without too much damage, and am looking forward to a day off tomorrow. I think this is going to be a decent running week.

Still bothered by the Houston Marathon lottery decision. There seem to be so many other ways to get this done right, and better.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Houston Marathon Registration

Today the Houston Marathon announced they were moving to a lottery system to determine entrants in the race. I'm very disappointed in this development, since it could preclude my entry.

I understand why the Marathon is doing this...they filled up in 60 hours last year, and apparently the computer registration system did not allow some to register even though they tried within the 60 hour time period. But on the other hand, for the fourth largest city in America to limit its premier sporting event to 11,000 participants when other cities, such as Boston with 25,000, New York with 45,000, Chicago with 45,000, and San Antonio with 30,000, have much larger fields is not understandable.

Possible solutions, and I'm sure the Marathon Committee discussed these, are to increase the number of waves at the start, just add more entries and let it sort itself out, or take spots away from the half marathon. Any of these seem reasonable to me.

But instead the marathoners, many of whom like me train nearly year-round for this event, may not be able to enter. Disappointing, to say the least.

I guess another possible solution is to "allow" bandit runners like Boston?

But I'll keep running until August 17 when the entries are announced.

Beginning of Long Week

Today was day one of a planned forty mile week, with a 12 mile run in 7:57 a mile starting it off. Other than feeling hungry around mile 9.5 and some general calf stiffness a little later, it was a successful run.

I guess I'll find out how I bounce back tomorrow. Ten miles following up twelve has not been easy for me in the past.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Stretching Thoughts - 2

I decided to not run this weekend with the heat and the relatively heavy mileage last week, or at least those are my excuses.

So I thought I'd write today on my new-found stretching exercises. I have written before that I don't stretch, and have seen a lack of evidence that it really works for distance runners. I'm now not sure - note that I didn't say I believe in stretching, but that I'm not sure it doesn't hurt.

I have been lightly stretching after my runs for about three weeks now. The stretches are simple, focused on my legs below the knees, where my shin splint pain has been. I only stretch after the runs, and I only do each stretch once for about 25 seconds each.

The four stretches are the "lean against the wall calf stretch", the "lean against the wall with bent knee lower calf stretch", which I do with my foot splayed out to focus the stretch on the inside of my lower calf where most of my pain hides, the "stand on something and let my body weight stretch out the lower calf stretch", and a bent leg "top of foot on floor to stretch the front of lower leg near shin stretch".

These four seem to be helping, although the much-discussed ibuprofen habit may be the real reason my pain is much diminished. But who cares?

On deck for the week: around 40 miles total, with 12 on Monday, 10 on Tuesday, off Wednesday, 10 on Thursday, and 8 on Friday. I don't expect to hold absolutely to this schedule, and also don't expect to run very fast any day. We'll see.

Friday, June 4, 2010


I'm back in Houston today and ran on the treadmill at the fitness center (and the heat is, as it always is when I get back to Houston, ridiculous). I put in another 8 mile run, but only in 8:00 a mile to make it easy. But it wasn't.

I never found my groove, either in breathing or in the legs feeling fresh. I think I was just tired from the hard run yesterday, even though I felt so good then. Anyway, I struggled through the run, with the last five miles really being difficult, and will almost certainly take tomorrow off.

My consecutive days of running showed I can do it to some degree, and hopefully I can maintain this with minimal pain.

We'll see....

Thursday, June 3, 2010


I followed up yesterday's easy run with an 8 mile run in 7:29 a mile on the treadmill. This run felt absolutely great, and again the discretionary side of me called it off. Strange that with all the difficult hiking and some running over the weekend, then the third real run in a row, and I still felt great. But what about tomorrow?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Easy Day

I'm working now on running back-to-back days to see how my body, and shins, react. Today was an easy four miles in 8:00 per mile. No problems, but I did want to let it loose a bit, but alas, discretion held and I just did the planned run. Tomorrow will be the telling day.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Hotel Treadmill Run

I got up early and beat the morning crush at the hotel's fitness center, running ten miles in 7:47 a mile. Not much to report, just a solid run with light stretching to finish and the ubiquitous ibuprofen pill shortly prior to running. I did walk up and around San Francisco later in the morning, eating a loaf of sourdough bread with some kind of olive mix I bought at a local grocery. This is kind of my calling card while roaming in San Francisco, but a killer diet it is not.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Failed Run

I closed out my Yosemite National Park visit by walking through the Tuolumne sequoia grove and Merced sequoia grove. There is nothing like walking a few miles and then, suddenly and amazingly surprisingly, there are these absolutely huge trees. There simply is nothing like them. Cinnamon-red in color, sometimes an order of magnitude larger than anything else near, and older than I can comprehend, these trees are just spectacular.

I then fought crowds in the Hetch Hetchy area, which was a waste of time, again. Every time I have been there I have felt the same way. I won't go back to this God-forsaken place with its San Francisco-supporting dam. 'Nuff said.

Once I got back to San Francisco for my work, turning a four hour drive into six with the Memorial Day traffic slowing to a stop-and-go for miles at times, I went to the fitness center for a treadmill run. After about 2.4 miles I had to use the bathroom, and since it was after 10pm I just went to bed. So much for running. I'd had a long, fitness-requiring weekend.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Mariposa Grove and Glacier Point

Again, no running today, but I did a strenuous hike to the top of the Mariposa sequoia grove and the a snowy, hidden-trail-due-to-snow hike to Sentinel Dome from Glacier Point. The first was six miles, with 1200 vertical feet of ascending and descending, and the second was three, but with long stretches of traversing snowfields at 7500 feet elevation.

I was trying to avoid the crushing crowds by going to Mariposa early, which worked although since the tram was not working the crowds much beyond the parking lot was fairly empty anyway. Glacier Point was so crowded the park police closed the road for almost an hour prior to my arrival to let the parking area empty some. I ate lunch, so it was no biggee for me. I did get a good traffic report on the Valley from Glacier Point...the roads were completely stuffed and I couldn't find empty parking spots, although I was about 3200 feet above the Valley floor.

Even with the crowds, this place is great.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Yosemite National Park Trail Run

What an experience! After hiking to the top of Upper Yosemite Falls in the morning (around 9 miles roundtrip with almost 4000 total vertical feet), trying to beat the traffic of Memorial Day weekend, I took the afternoon off by going through the Visitor Center and checking out some sunset picture sites.

Then what became the highlight of the day began with a nine mile run in roughly 8:00 per mile (I don't know the exact distance or even the time since I didn't wear my watch - a truly liberating experience) from one end of Yosemite Valley to effectively the other end and back. It was entirely on the Valley Loop Trail, which was mostly dirt but occasionally showed its age with some really beat up asphalt. Running through the woods while in sight of and within hearing range of the various waterfalls was a lifetime experience.

This is truly one of the reasons I run...I can climb high and walk far, and then have a life-list run all in the span of ten or so hours.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Yosemite National Park Hike Day

No running today, but I spent the entire day in Yosemite National Park hiking and enjoying the booming waterfalls. First up was the Mist Trail to the base of Half Dome for a total distance of around ten miles and 2200 feet of vertical distance. Vernal and Nevada Falls this time of year are awesome.

And for some reason this was the first time I noticed Illilouette Falls up the valley from the trail. How I missed this major fall all these years is hard to understand.

I next walked to Mirror Lake, then across to Ahwahnee Hotel and Lower Yosemite Falls. Along the way I stumbled across Royal Arch Cascade, a really refreshing small seasonal fall that was little visited. In fact, I sat up in the woods for a rest and watched several groups walk right by, noticing neither me or the fall. What a disappointment for them.

The Lower Yosemite Fall is truly magnificent this time of year. Everyone should visit in late May or early June.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Day Off

As expected, I took today off from running. The back of my left knee hurt just slightly and I was generally stiff until about lunch...a day off was the right thing. Maybe I'll get a run in tomorrow, but probably not. I'm heading out on vacation tomorrow night but will try to run the hills of San Francisco early next week.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Back to Back

I followed yesterday's 12 mile run with a 10 mile treadmill run today, but slowed it down to 8:00 per mile to call it an "easy" day. I quote "easy" since that's not really an easy day for me, especially since it was a back-to-back, but whatever. Right now the shins are fine; we'll see what it feels like tomorrow.

My form held really well until mile 9 or so when I started to get tired. And bored. Treadmill running this summer to avoid the heat is going to get old. Really old. Kind of like me.

Even indoors the sweat factor is huge, although it's certainly not hot. Just no wind and 72 degrees. By mile 6 or so I was coated, and by the end there was nothing dry left on me. Such is the life.

I may run a little tomorrow to set up four days straight to see how that feels, but I don't think it will be long or even should be.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Back Indoors

After Saturday's hot run, I moved it indoors today for a 12 mile treadmill run. I know, it sounds horrible, and the fitness center trainer even came over and talked for a while about how 12 miles is maybe the most boring thing ever, but it went fast enough with attention paid to the running.

The summary is 12 miles in 7:28 pace, fairly steady all the way, with a heap of sweat on the side. I took an ibuprofen about 30 minutes before the run and stretched the calves/shins after and feel okay now. The next day is always the test, though.

I suspect, like I told the trainer, that I'll be indoors other than speed work for the rest of the summer. Bummer in a way, but what choice is there? There are other Houston runners doing it outside - I have read some of their blogs - but I have no desire for that. Just not dedicated enough? Maybe.

I may give it another go tomorrow to test the shins. If things don't go okay I'll call it off, and knowing I have a mini-vacation to Yosemite National Park this weekend will take some of the edge off if things go badly.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sweat Review

An unpleasant topic, sweat. But one that is so dominant on outside runs this time of year that it deserves its own posting.

Here's how bad it's gotten here: Today it is 92 degrees with humidity at 47 percent. Not too bad on the TH Index, but the Index is smart. Once it gets above about 87 degrees one should not be running anyway, so the Index is not important. 92 is above 87, so don't run. But what if I run at 84 degrees and 76 percent humidity?

The first mile is not too bad. It can actually feel good for the first couple minutes. But then a general heating feeling comes over my body, and the sweat starts quickly on the brow and chest. After a mile the arms are covered, after two miles the back is sweating and the shirt is showing sweat on the front, after three miles the shorts are feeling wet and the shirt is wet and wiping the brow is not keeping the sweat from the eyes.

Four miles in and things are coming apart: the hair on the arms and legs is getting matted by sweat, the hands are dripping from the sweat running down the arms, the sweat rag is soaked and ineffective in defending the eyes from the sweat, the head hair is getting matted, and the body is struggling to keep blood going to the muscles since most is heading for the skin surface for cooling.

Five miles and speed begins declining as the physical toll is becoming real. All the issues in mile four get more serious, and it's around this point that the leg hair is matted in moisture like post-shower. Thirst sets in as the general sweat flies from the hands and drips quickly and steadily from the chin. Eyes are burning and there's nothing to do about it.

Six miles and it's getting close to time to shut down for the day. Enough fluids have been lost, and the body knows it even if the mind doesn't by slowing down more and sweating at the same full-body outrageous rate. Or at least you better hope you are still sweating. If not, be prepared to meet your maker.

There should be no further running. Six is enough in these conditions. Maybe more early in the morning when the temperature is lower and the humidity is higher, or at night with relatively higher temperatures but lower humidity, but it's just hot.

And maybe dangerous. Be careful.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Dog Day Run

Geez, is it summer already. I went out this morning for a quarter marathon run along the greenbelt trails and was soaked in sweat after a mile. I shed the shirt, leaving it behind a bench along the trail, and continued on. In all, I ran 6.55 miles in 8:47 pace, maybe my worst in over a year.

All in all it's okay, though. I hate the heat and will avoid it as best I can. But it's amazing how much energy goes into heat management and not the running muscles in these conditions.

The body is an incredible machine. Gotta take care of it.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Colorado Redux Redux

I took yesterday off after the surprisingly easy back to back running days. I'm not sure it made much difference since my shins were hurting more than I thought they should, given the relatively short mileages and soft running surfaces. Shins shouldn't care about the altitude, I figure!

Anyway, I went to the Colorado house yesterday afternoon/evening, opening it up for the summer (actually when I shut it down this morning I shut is as if it's summer, so it's closed again after less than 24 hours) and enjoying the loud, melting snow runoff creek. This morning I did some work around the house early, then ran 3.5 miles in an unknown time at 9,000 feet elevation. The run was along an all season soft road with some gentle hills that taxed my lungs a bit, but not as bad as I expected.

Just a hint: I may run in a 12 mile loop race in Creede, Colorado, on Labor Day Saturday. The race starts and ends at 8,800 feet and tops out at around 10,000 feet. I suppose I'll decide later....

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Colorado Redux

As I mentioned yesterday, I decided to violate my first rule and run on back-to-back days. I wandered over to Jack Quinn's Pub and joined in with a group heading out for what turned out to be a simple 5K run. I was disappointed that there was so little, er, no, organization. No pacing, no distances, just groups leaving at random and immediately all going at different speeds and apparently differently pathways. I managed to run around an 8:00 mile pace for the three miles, which really was all I should have done. But the experience could have been better.

In actuality it really is a neat experience. For around 400 folks to get together to run in a super-informal environment would be an earth-shaker in Houston. And to do it all summer in Houston would be deadly. Just goes to show me, again, that there is a real outdoor culture in other parts of the country. But there's not much of it I have found in Houston.

On the ibuprofen front, I took one pill prior to running but none afterward due to the ease of running. So far it's the right choice. And there was no pain from yesterday. Promising, to say the least.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Colorado 10K

I landed in Colorado Springs this morning, grabbed a bite of lunch with a local co-worker, worked through the afternoon, and then took a run along the fabulous Monument Creek Trail. I left downtown and ran north, then crossed the creek at mile 2.5 (I was carrying my old, no-maps GPS), ran back past downtown on the opposite bank, and finished in America the Beautiful Park.

In all, it was a 6.2 mile, or 10K, run at a 7:52 pace. Not bad for just having landed, I figure. The best part was the lack of heavy breathing and fairly comfortable run with little sweat. In fact, since I mostly ran along a creek on great gravelled trails, I took little pounding, got some nice views of Pikes Peak along the way, and enjoyed the sounds of the stream flowing near me.

On the shin side of things, I took an ibuprofen just prior to the run, and when it kicked in around mile 1 I felt no pain the rest of the way. I took another an hour or so after the run and still feel great. Let's see how long this positive trend continues.

Running in Colorado is great. Why don't I just move here? Oh yeah, I'm thinking about violating my first rule and running on back-to-back days tomorrow. Jack Quinn's Pub in downtown Colorado Springs has an informal get-together on Tuesday nights and I just may try to hook up with a group about my speed and distance. Should be fun.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Wet Run

I guess after the airport was shut down last night due to three hours of lightning, causing me to have my flight to Colorado cancelled, I should not have been surprised when I got rained on in the last half of my run this morning. With a temperature of 72 and humidity at 94 percent, a little rain did nothing more than dilute the sweat pouring off me. And in those conditions, it started pouring at mile 3. Yuck.

And the clothing manufacturers claim their "dry" material wicks the moisture away...ha. At mile 5 my shirt was stuck to me on the front and the back, and not due to some kind of Elmer's glue stick.

The run was quick, nevertheless, covering 8.6 miles in 7:37 a mile. I'm pleased with it.

I'm now heading to Colorado tomorrow for a quick trip to the house and then on to work. I'll squeeze in at least one run.

I just hope I have a giant duffel bag I checked last night is waiting for me at the Colorado Springs airport!

And one last thing...I took one ibuprofen pill prior to the run, and did some light stretching and took one pill following the run. I feel no pain now nor did I during the run. Encouraging.

Friday, May 14, 2010

"Treatment" Results

Okay, the preliminary results are in and I'm feeling great! As I mentioned yesterday I forgot to take the ibuprofen prior to the run but I did take two pills, or 400 mg, immediately after the run. I had no pain late yesterday, last night, or today so far.

This is great! But we'll see how it goes coming up, I suppose.

My pounding will be less for the next week since I will be at altitude and won't be running as far or as fast as I'm used to...but that's okay. Running at 9000 feet and 6000 feet will push the lungs certainly.

Happy, and out.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Treadmill / Tempo Run Day

I was out of town today but managed to find some time before I raced from the hotel to the airport to squeeze in a run. But first, I'll mention how some of these huge convention-style hotels treat their patrons: this place had multiple buildings and a really nice fitness center, really more like a Taj Majal complete with competition indoor tennis courts. And a $13 a day price tag. But only if you weren't a high enough level in the frequent stay program. I let the company pick up the tab since I couldn't use our free fitness center and it was in my normal routine, but still.

Back to the run. Or at least finally getting to the run. The overall result was 8 miles in 7:23 a mile, which is really good based on the past couple of weeks. The interesting part was that on three different occasions, for a mile each, I dropped the pace down to 7:00 miles, with a bunch of 7:30 miles around them and a start and finish 8:00 pace. A bunch of sweat later, and I was done.

Unfortunately, due to the size of the hotel facility, I had to walk all the way through the massive lobby and up and down a couple elevators before I finally got back to my room, all with a cotton tee shirt so wet it was dripping from the bottom and the sleeves. A romantic couple got on one elevator with me and immediately went to the far side of the car; I comforted them by stating it was all good, honest, clean sweat. They didn't think that was too funny.

For the record, I stretched out the shins as best I could following the run. Maybe it helps. I don't see the harm.

I'll see how my partial ibuprofen habit worked tomorrow, depending on how I feel the day after a good run.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Synthetic Materials

The three pair of shorts that I wear most often (and since I only usually run three times a week they are pretty much the only running shorts I wear) are those fancy "dry" material wicking, fast dry, weird-feeling material shorts.

And I should add, extremely stinky. Like, really stinky. And there's no way to make them better except to wash them.

Let me explain. These shorts hold the good smell of the clothes washer smell really well...until they get sweated on. And in Houston, whether I run inside or outside, they get sweated on. Now, I don't normally stink myself unless I have been sweaty for hours, with some drying and re-sweating on my clothes. That's not what I'm talking about. These shorts, and to a lesser extent my "dry" material tops, smell really bad after getting sweaty no matter what, even if I only wear them 45 minutes!

What's with this stuff? Why does it smell so bad? And it won't get better until it is washed. I have left it outside for a full better. I have left them buried in the dirty better. There is no solution that I know of.

So I wear them once and wash them as soon as possible. Which is maybe what they want, and so they stink.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tempo Run - 3

I had another treadmill day today, and started at a smart 8:00 pace for the first mile. Things felt good at that point, no shin issues at all, so I took the next mile at 7:30, dropped down to 7:00 for the next two miles, ran the fifth in 7:30 again, and finished the sixth mile in 8:00. The overall pace was 7:30 for six miles. A good run.

I continued my stretching of the shins, as best I can, after the run and feel fine this evening. During an hour drive each way this evening I talked with a surgeon friend of mine about a number of topics, one of which was the shins and any advice he could give regarding their well-being. Not surprisingly, I guess, he said take ibuprofen, one or two tablets, about an hour prior to running and another one or two afterward. I have two fears here: one, the ibuprofen or any medicine will simply mask the pain; his answer was no, the ibuprofen stops the "cascading" of the physical issue, thus preventing the pain; the second fear is that continued use of ibuprofen could damage my body somehow; he stated that the research indicates I can safely take much higher quantities than he recommended, and way way more than I take today (one or two tablets a week).

So I'll try the ibuprofen and see what happens. Who knows, maybe I can run five or so days a week with a couple of them easy runs with the ibuprofen. At some point I have little desire to run more simply due to the time commitment and other age-related weaknesses.

Until next time.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Training Update - 16

I went out for a quick 4.3 mile greenbelt loop run early this evening in a TH Index of 155, which was probably the highest of the day. Why I didn't go earlier I don't know, when the temperature was the same but the humidity was about 35% less, but here I am.

It was a sweaty but easy run, and I followed it up after my shower with some shin/calf stretching. I know I probably should have gone further, and certainly feel like I could have with ease, but I just don't want to push the shins. And I'm a little curious about the nascent stretching program.

By the way, the pace was an even 8:00 per mile, very unimpressive, and I had to speed up over the last 1.5 miles or so to get that. Sigh.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


I stopped in to a Luke's Locker running store today and was amazed by the running-related paraphernalia. These guys had a bunch of stuff I had never even heard of or knew what to do with. Who knew?

Let's see, I could have gotten about 14 different kinds of gel energy, all from different companies. Try dozens of watches, which did everything except make my heart beat (could they make it beat 174 bpm like I do?). Who knows how many jerseys, singlets, tee shirts, or anything else that is pretty much just some form of a shirt with some name. And how about all the anti-chafing devices/creams/roll-ons? I didn't even know I had that problem!

And all of it would separate me from plenty of my hard-earned money. Yet we do it, always expecting this purchase, the most recent one, to make the difference. I guess based on that I don't expect to be all that good a runner.

I managed to walk out without a purchase.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Back Running - 2

Since I missed the Wednesday run, and had not run since Monday, I decided today was the day even though I suspected I hadn't given the shins enough time off. I may have been right, since I am still a little tender hours after the run.

For the run itself, it was 5 miles on the treadmill at 8:00 mile pace. Nice and easy, and steady. I have no need for speed at this point since I have a bunch of travel coming up and may not be able to consistently run.

I'll probably take off until Monday and try the new shoes then. Gotta get ready for Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Gusher Marathon - Review

As I discussed a few days ago, I took a little closer look at the results of the Gusher Marathon in Beaumont, Texas, last Saturday. The weather was atrocious, with temperatures in the low 80s and the humidity in the mid 80s for a horrific TH Index of 165 or so.

The times were surprisingly good, with four men under three hours and the winner in 2:37:37. If I had run equal to my slowest marathon, which I don't think would have been easy under the conditions, I would have been third in my age group and in the top 15 overall. But that doesn't mean much when you don't run, does it?

The women only had one runner under three hours, but that time was a most impressive 2:44:07. How the winners ran those times under those conditions is nothing short of amazing.

And now for the interesting part: in the 5k boys division, under 14 years of age, there were four under 7:00 per mile, with a nine (9) year old at 6:52 a mile! Incredible. Nine years old is like, dude, third grade. That's a three hour marathon pace, albeit much shorter. This really impressed me.

Anyway, I took today off and walked the dog the usual three miles only. I'm going to rest the shins another day or so and then get back to it. I am getting a little antsy, though.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

New Shoes

After 600 plus miles and recurring bouts of shin splints, I have a new pair of New Balance 1063 shoes, size 10, width D. As if it matters, I have switched from yellow trim 1063s to red ones.

I know it makes no difference, and I probably won't even run in them for a few days since I am taking some running time off, but it's nice to get a new, new-rubber smelly pair of shoes.

Now if I can just add them to my "fast" collection of running gear.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Back Online

I got my laptop running again today, thanks to the help desk at work. I was going to talk about the Gusher Marathon in Beaumont yesterday, but I'll save that for another day. A hint is that the surprise was in the 5k; the other surprise was that nobody died, or at least nobody was reported to have died.

I cut my run to three miles on the treadmill today due to shin soreness. I sort of knew this was coming over the past week following two months of relatively, for me, heavy mileage. Another bummer is the warm hit 88 degrees today, although the humidity is still really low. I have managed to keep the air conditioner off so far, remarkably. My home improvement projects, including self-adding R-30 insulation in the attic and putting homemade solar screen shades on my east and west facing windows, may be working. Combined with my one-year-old 14 SEER air conditioning unit and the new roof with ridge vents and four times the soffit vents and I'm ready for summer.

If only now my running was.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Gusher Marathon

Today is the running of the Gusher Marathon in Beaumont. A really bad day for a marathon. 26.2 miles in 80 degree heat and 85 percent humidity; a perfect recipe for physical issues in a first time marathon. I hope they have their ducks in a row for hydration and first aid.

I've been following the Gusher online through their really active Facebook page. These guys are really fired up to run the half and the 5k, although there's not much traffic for the full. It's fun to read some of the neophyte questions, like will there be port-a-potties and the like. I'm looking forward to seeing the results online later this week.

And it will be later this week. My laptop crashed last night, or at least the screen did. I called the office help desk this morning and they offered me help...Monday morning. That's fine, but I'm typing now at the library (this new one has 109 computers plus 20 laptops - awesome) and won't be able to listen to baseball games over the internet today or tomorrow. Such is the life.

I'm not sure if I'll run today. The conditions are that bad - actually they are a little worse than the 8:13 per mile I ran over 8.6 miles a week or so ago. And that's just not worth it.

And to think that if I had run my last Houston marathon time today I would be finishing right about now. But in these conditions I think I would be doing good to finish in a very painful and dangerous hour from now.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Month Review

I may or may not do this on a regular basis, but here is a review of the month's running:
109 miles
7:36 a mile

There will be months coming up where this simple snapshot will not matter much, since it will include track work and tempo runs, which in my opinion are really valuable, but don't directly translate into miles and times for easy comparison. But for now it's a number that makes some sense.

For today, since the wind was blowing hard and it was warm with high humidity, I stayed inside on the treadmill and ran 6 miles in 7:30 a mile. I was pleased with this since I ran so far two days ago, and was more pleased that the shin splints didn't hurt too much.

So much for the month. I won't be adding anything running-wise tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


So, 24 hours after my longest run in a while and I was a little tender this morning. Nothing major, just some soreness and stiffness on the outside of the right hip which actually hurt some on the walk home yesterday but went away gradually today as I moved around. Also some general muscle soreness in my calves, but that happens often after long runs.

I'll see how I feel before I decide on the run type tomorrow, but the weather is still holding. This weather pattern is bordering on amazing...almost May and no sign of needing the air conditioner in the house, and no rain for about a month. Yard grass is suffering! But thankfully the running community is not, at least not yet...but it's not July, either.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Surprise Long Run

I decided to run a half marathon today at slow speed just to get in a distance run outside while the weather stayed fantastic (TH Index 106 with the temperature at 75 degrees and the humidity at a rockin' 31 percent).

I held my pace around 8 minutes per mile for the half and then decided to run the first mile out-and-back for a total of 15.1 miles in 7:55 a mile. Not bad. And a great day.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Run Fast

I read something interesting today: to run fast the runner should run fast in training. Well, duh.

Sometimes I think this sort of super-interesting information should qualify for the Apocalypse note of the year.

In other breaking news, the sun is expected to rise in the east in the morning tomorrow....

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Quarter Marathon Run - 3

Another day, another quarter marathon on the Kingwood Marathon course. This time it was a slow-ish start with a relatively fast finish, and an overall pace of 7:42. Much better than the hellish run a couple days ago.

Why better? Not because of my shins. They are starting to ache with the consistent mileage. I think the TH Index of 115 had more to do with it. The humidity all weekend after the Friday warm bath effect was really low, thanks to a front that brought some rain Friday evening.

I'm also thinking my pace has slowed down some as the month had matured due to the shin pain. The pain is not overwhelming, just constant when I run, and subconsciously I think it slows me down some. I'll solve the issue by taking some days off in a few weeks when I go to Colorado for a long weekend at the house attached to a business trip, but until then....

The last couple of runs have been around sundown on the greenbelt trails, and a short note here will be made about the abundance of rabbits along the trail. One today just would not leave the side of the trail, running along with me for maybe 50 yards. He/she won't last long with that kind of defense strategy!

Getting ready for another week of work....

Friday, April 23, 2010

Half Moon Running - 2

I'm enjoying this half moon running stuff. I started too late tonight to run the usual 4.3 mile loop twice without running in the dark, so that's exactly what I did for the second lap. And it was fun, but slow.

My time was a definitely uninspiring 8:13 a mile, caused by three things, I think. One, I am tired from a long week at work complete with a difficult but quick trip. Two, the TH Index has hit a new high for the year, and it was really high, checking in at 156 with a temperature of 78 and the humidity at 78. Really difficult, resulting in what was maybe the sweatiest run of my life. My legs were coated in sweat, my shirt was "wringable" at the end, and my hair was wet all over. Really gross. Get ready for summer. And three, the last lap was completely in the dark, which on the greenbelt trails was definitely not conducive to higher speeds. In fact, I almost hit a kid on a bicycle coming at me about a quarter mile from the end. The kid yelled in fear and I think I heard him crash into the forest shortly after I left him. But I wasn't sure.

This heat is going to be tough. I slowed down over the last half, and I doubt it was all due to the dark. I just love Houston in the summer.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Half Moon Running

Another note about tonight's run that is really enjoyable is the half moon. I know full moon running is really special, but a half moon puts out a lot of light, too. On my night loop I cut between two neighborhoods by way of the greenbelt trails and normally have to slow down some...not tonight. The shadows are a bit eery, but it's worth it.

It's even worth just taking the dog for a walk. Special evenings with the half and plus moon cycles.

New Shorts

I finally broke down and bought some new running shorts today on the way home from the airport. They are a medium-length traditional running short made of the "dry material" that is supposed to pull the moisture away from your skin. Whatever.

I ran in the pair tonight on a 9.4 mile run (7:47 a mile when I felt like garbage the entire way) and of course they got sweaty. I even had sweat running down the backs of my upper legs. Strange feeling. In any event, they felt good, very light, and I managed to avoid getting hit, so I guess it's all good. Interestingly, or maybe not, my shoes, shorts, and neon yellow shirt for night running were all New Balance products. I'm not sure what that means, if anything, but there you go.

For the record, the TH Index was 131 at 10pm.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Golf and Running

Okay, this is another strange post title, but here's the thought process. Many golfers, the average duffers shooting 80-105 or so, hit only a few really good shots a round. In my case, maybe 2-3 that I really felt good about when the day was over. But we all say that's what brings us back...the one great shot.

I feel that way about a great run. I had one yesterday, the 6.55 mile run in 7:03 a mile. It gets me thinking that I can do things that a year ago I could not have dreamed of. Is the NYC Marathon qualifying time of 1:30 in a half marathon a possible reality? Is a full marathon time of 3:15 a realistic possibility? If I stay healthy for a couple of years and keep building up could a sub 3 hour marathon be possible?

That one great shot, or great run, keeps me coming back. And back. It's a great feeling to run strong and then think on the possibilities.

Quarter Marathon Run - 2

With hectic work travel yesterday I wasn't able to post about my run (Hectic? Being paged over the airport intercom to get on the plane while I was still standing in the security line makes it hectic!). So here is a brief overview.

I ran the Kingwood Marathon route again, but only one loop, making for a certified quarter marathon run. It started off nicely with a 7:38 opening mile, although it felt faster than that. I really dislike it when I am running okay but it feels faster than it is. Makes me feel not-so-fast, I guess.

I could tell as I was hitting miles three and four that I was speeding up, but with the start I figured I'd just let it ride. The last two miles were really fast, with the last mile under 6:40.

The total 6.55 mile run was in 7:03 pace, so it's obvious there were some fast miles in there after the relatively slow start. It was a very good "accomplishment" run. But still not NYC Marathon qualifying pace....

The TH Index is steadily climbing. Yesterday was 138, with humidity being most of that. It made the run relatively cool, but very sweaty.

A last note is that during the last mile, when my breathing was getting a bit heavy, I counted, yes, counted my breaths. I think I had 380 breaths in the mile. If it was a 6:30 mile, that's 390 seconds, so I was breathing very deeply once each second, almost. I'm not sure what this means, but it's an interesting number. And maybe a dissociative technique for the end of hard runs in the future.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


A strange thing happened the day after a reasonably hard run: no shin splints or associated pain at all. Go figure.

I'm heading out of town tomorrow afternoon for a quick but difficult business trip, so I'll probably try to squeeze in a run in the morning and then again Wednesday evening after I get back to avoid carrying the running stuff and trying to find a time while gone. No biggee either way, but it seems easiest.

No running today to discuss. Not much else, either.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dirty Running

Something I noticed today while walking back to the house after my half-marathon run: how dirty my chest and arms were. I ran shirtless again - not to impress the suburban, overweight, married women, but to simply try to manage the sweat - and when I was done I had all this grit on my chest and arms. Some of it appeared to be small insects, but some was just dirt-like.

Where does it come from? I was never behind anybody, or a bicycle for that matter. I was never along a road since I was running on the Kingwood greenbelts. I just don't know.

But something I have wondered about for a while. What kind of junk, physical junk - not the invisible soot and oilfield garbage in our air here - are we distance runners inhaling every time we take a run? And how does that particulate matter affect our breathing, since we have to be losing some capacity if our lungs get partially coated with junk?

I have no idea, and don't think I want to know, but it's a real question in light of all the stuff stuck to the outside of my body today.

Half Marathon Day

I got a late start due to not sleeping too well, so around 11am I finally got out on the Kingwood Marathon course for an easy half marathon. I finished in 1:42:48, for a 7:50 pace. Not too bad for an easy run on a TH Index 130 day.

A strange note is that one of the middle miles, one of the few where I actually know the mile markers, was run in 7:18. I'm not sure what happened there; my breathing was a little ragged but I didn't notice the miles later being that much slower. Interesting.

I have been looking at some runner blogs lately and a guy I casually know, another Masters-age guy like me, uses a heartrate monitor exclusively to monitor his effort levels during marathons, running around 2:40 in several. Maybe I should incorporate a HR monitor in my repertoire. I had one a couple of years ago when I was in lesser condition and was demoralized by the thing constantly showing me running right around my theoretical maximum heart rate. I didn't like the idea of constantly worrying about a heart attack - I had rather not know when it will happen - so I took it back to the store.

Maybe I could discount some of my hard-headedness and get one again.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


I try to run every other day. That works out fairly well as long as I stay at home and don't have really busy days and nights, both. But when I take vacations or travel for work it gets more difficult.

Next week I will spend a few days in lovely Tulsa, Oklahoma. God's country, no doubt. I leave Monday afternoon and get back Wednesday afternoon. I will probably run tomorrow, Friday, and then Sunday. That means Tuesday would be a logical run day, but there's no way I will have time that day with a full day of meetings and then a formal dinner and a late meeting on the docket.

So I have some choices. I could do a long run Saturday, then squeeze in a run Monday, or run Friday and Sunday and then wait for a long run Wednesday night after I get home. Such choices.

I'll figure it out. If this is the worst problem today that's not all bad.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Wrong Direction

What a tough day. It felt bad from the very start. Hurting legs, inconsistent breathing, general feeling of tiredness. Not good.

I ran the typical 5.9 mile loop again, and watched my marks as I went along. Surprisingly, shockingly really, they weren't horrible, but I certainly felt that way. I guess it had to happen.

Why? Who knows? Lack of sleep? Hot? Just don't care any more? Hate running? All of the above?

But the numbers never lie. The facts are these...the TH Index was 132 (getting higher by the day), the pace was 7:42 (a far cry from the 7:15 two days ago on the same course). I got some more sun since I ran shirtless again due to the heat (and since I ran slower I got a little more sun than previously).

Such are the victories we claim....

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Clock Don't Lie

I imagine all runners wear some sort of stopwatch, whether it is the $5 WalMart variety, my watch of choice, or a $300 GPS HRM 400-lap contraption. Regardless, we love our watches.

In my case, my watch reflects my values and personality. Simple, inexpensive, functional, and accurate. It has weaknesses, however. The light for night use is nearly useless, and if I am running at a reasonable pace at all I can't see it. I still haven't figured out how to make it record laps. How I set the day of the week is an abject mystery. The beep that goes off at ten minutes to each hour is unstoppable.

But I have run two marathons with this watch. It works fine. I kind of like its weaknesses. We have a history together. We are getting better, and faster.

But there is no denying that even with these platitudes, the watch don't lie. And that can hurt.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Training Update - 15

After the hard, physical weekend of installing 42 rolls of insulation in the attic and having a surprisingly good run Saturday during the insulation install and after the hard run Thursday, I was surprised by my run today. I knew an hour before I went out that I was ready to roll, could just feel it, so I let it go.

I hit the first mile marker, or what is close to the mile mark, in 7:15. Usually with the retaining wall jump, the light timing never working out resulting in impromptu sprints through downtown traffic, the first tough hill coming out of the Buffalo Bayou pedestrian bridge crossing, and the spaced out skateboarders park in the way, it takes me 8 minutes to get to the mile mark.

My next major checkpoint is the 1.5 mile mark when I go under one of those scary-like bridges. No, not just under it, but running under it along its length. I hate seeing people here. Why are they hanging out under the bridge? Do you hate runners? Do you hate me? Anyway, usually I hit the bridge shadow in 12 minutes; today was 10:45.

I stayed one to two minutes ahead of normal through the next couple of checkpoints, both bridges, the second of which is home to a bat colony that stinks so bad that I have done personal tests on how fast I can run, and for how long, while holding my breath.

Things stayed great to the turnaround bridge over Buffalo Bayou, which I crossed in 22 minutes, instead of the usual 23:30 or so. The rest was a fast clip back downtown.

Except it wasn't. I got tired in the heat, still somewhat dehydrated from the attic work, and the early speed. Oh yeah, how does the wind stay in the face all the way on this out-and-back? I cleared this theory with the personal trainer at the fitness center, and it's true. I swear! At least most of the time it's true....

I slowed down dramatically at one point, but finished strong in 7:15 a mile over the 5.9 mile course. This may not sound like much, but for this hilly course, mostly on dirt and unlevel ground, it's not bad.

I'll take it and look forward to the next time. Another PR?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Quarter Marathon Run

I spent all morning working in the attic installing insulation. Not the optimum way to prepare for a run. But did that slow anything down?

I went out to the certified 4 lap marathon course located a quarter mile from my house. My thought was to run a slow half marathon, but that never seems to work out. The first mile was in 7:58, about what I wanted, but I could tell from my breathing that I was speeding up later. When I got to the 5.55 mile mark, one mile from the quarter marathon turnaround, I decided to see what I could do the last mile in and call it a day (my shins had hurt much of the run so I really wasn't in the mood for a long run). The last mile was in 7:03, so I ran 7:37 a mile overall. This corresponds to a 3:20 marathon, for whatever it's worth.

A worry: I need to improve my discipline to be able to run certain speeds to help me run longer distances. The way I run now I have to be really tuned in right to run long because I don't control my speed very well. Something to work on, but I wonder if one of those GPS watches would help.

Then again, I'm the guy who has almost no high-tech gear, so I'll just struggle along. Just getting outside on terrific days like today (TH Index of 112) is good enough.

Friday, April 9, 2010

NYC Marathon Qualification

I have mentioned before that I am intrigued by running the multi-cultural New York City Marathon. The traditional method of entry is by lottery, but there is also another way in...qualification by time. The interesting part is that the qualification times are very fast (faster than Boston, in some cases like for the older runners by quite a bit) and the qualification times are not age-adjusted.

That makes my qualification by time a bit more difficult than Boston. For example, I need to run a 3:30 marathon to qualify for Boston at my age, but for New York I would have to qualify with a 3:10. Much more difficult. The other New York qualification metric is to run a 1:30 half marathon...for me that should be slightly more achievable since I am more of a speed runner with a middle distance background. So I'll have to run a half marathon at some point.

To compare where I am now, I plugged my last two fast long runs into a running time estimator, courtesy of Running Times magazine online ( and found that I'm still not quite there. But I'm not planning to try to qualify until this Fall, so I have time. My guess is I'll have to focus on speed work, say 800 and 1200 repeats on the track in the Texas evening heat, this summer and then re-build my endurance in the month before the late October qualification effort.

And on we go.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Windy Treadmill

Crazy title to a post, I know. We had a cold front blow through last night and, while the temperatures were really cool and comfortable today, it was very windy. Howling between buildings downtown windy. So I stayed indoors knowing I would regret it later, and I already am.

To substitute, I decided to run for the full hour that the treadmill would let me (I like some of those hotel treadmills where they will go forever, apparently). At the same time, I would find out how far I could go in that hour. A little different from what I have done before, but I had to do something for entertainment.

I started at a 7:30 pace for the first mile, then quickly moved to a 7:03 second mile and a 6:35 third mile. I then alternated between 7:03 and whatever I could do faster, mainly around 6:53. In the end, I ran 8.65 miles in the hour without a hard push. Impressive enough.

But not NYC Marathon speed. Still work to do, but plenty of time. Now I just need to figure out how far to run Saturday on this to-be-terrific weekend.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


I'm not one to worry too much about how I look. When I started running 30 or so months ago I almost always wore painters shorts and cotton tee shirts, with cotton socks to complete the ensemble. Not too much pride there.

Things are a little different now. I'm still not much of a fashion statement (black shorts on almost all runs don't lend oneself to a Paris runway), but I looked into several stores at the mall today and failed to find shorts I liked. I'm getting old, so I'm told; all the shorts were too long. What's this stuff with the shorts going below the knees? For running? Nope.

So I'll keep looking, but rest assured, I'll spare your eyes a pair of those split running shorts that cover practically nothing.

Oh yeah, I usually run on the second day after running...not this time. I had to leave town on a business trip and got back late today, and with my series of recent runs and aching shins I decided to take the day off. Interestingly, my legs seemed a little itchy late this afternoon...maybe I need to run? I have a run planned for tomorrow, regardless.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


I love the way confidence plays into things. I run alone, I race seldom (like once a year), and I have relatively little knowledge of the "culture" of running. Going to the Houston Marathon, including something as simple as the Expo, is intimidating.

For example, these people look fit! They are thin, they look ready, and they really look like they know what they are doing. If not, why are they here at the start of the Houston Marathon in the first wave within easy sight of the starting line? I can't stay with these guys! Get me out of here!

But wait, what's that about a Drugstore Cowboy? You can dress the part but it won't get you to the finish line any faster. So maybe my shorts are the right length after all. Maybe my gray socks will be fast and get me to the finish line. Maybe I don't need Nikes and my New Balances are really good enough. Maybe I've trained more and harder than almost anybody. Maybe, maybe.

It's not in the looks. It's in the preparation, training, mental toughness, and willingness to push the limits. You do that, we'll be together on the course.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Training - 14

It's getting warm. I ran with temperatures in the very low 80's today, with the humidity a manageable 55, but east winds around 12-15 miles per hour. It made for a more difficult finish than I would have like, but so be it.

I ran the usual 5.9 mile work route, with the up-and-down hills in the first half. Things were fine following the hard Saturday night run for the first three-plus miles, but I just lost interest during mile 4 until re-focusing in the last stretch. I finished with a 7:25 per mile time, not bad at all. I took a quick review of my past month or so and this approached the fastest times, so I'm apparently improving, getting faster, and feeling stronger even after eight straight good runs.

One worry I need to look into is my right shoe. The harder material at the bottom of the shoe, covering the main cushion part, is almost worn through at the heel on the outside. I really like these shoes. They need to last!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Fractional Calculating

I work in a technical field, and possess a technical degree. But my ability to calculate relatively difficult in my head while on the run has gotten a lot better than it was even when I used my brain with some regularity in college.

For example, try to correlate how long it should take at a 7:40 mile pace to run what you believe to be 3/8ths of a mile can be difficult. After about 12 miles it can be nearly impossible as I slip into some catatonic state of monitoring my body only, not the feeble brain waves that are still bouncing around.

Even then, I manage to get close enough to know that my pace is right, or at least right enough. And that's what I'm after.

Then again, I could just ignore the watch except for the finishing time and get a heart monitor. But the last time I tried one of those I failed to get my heart rate under 165 and figured I was going to die at any moment, and that I'd rather not know that. You know, I thought just unknowingly falling down head over heels would be the best way. So I threw the monitor away.

And struggle with fractions. Ah yes, the glory of running.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Fast Comeback

Okay, so I walked home this morning. I was talked into a fast run tonight, a quick out-and-back totalling 5.3 miles at a 7:06 pace. And the second half was around two minutes faster than the out pace. Blistering. Makes me think again I can run a really fast half marathon and qualify for the New York City Marathon instead of trying to lottery in, thus extending my marathon career unnecessarily.

And yes, I wore the fast shorts tonight, but not the fast socks. Maybe I could have run a 6:00 pace with them!

And on another note, here's a shout out to the 50 mile trail racers over at Smithville today. Gotta be tough to do that one.

Unfortunately, my shins are aching so I've already taken an ibuprofen and am ready for bed.


Fast Socks

I went out for a run today against my better judgment (I was tired from yard and car work, my shins were still beat up from the last week plus, it was hot, etc) and after about three minutes said the heck with it and walked home. It wasn't pretty, but it was smart. A side note, as I left the house I could hear the dog yelping to get out; she does not understand that when I leave and don't take a car that I'm not always just out in the yard!

Really though, if the truth came out, I turned around today because I didn't wear the right clothes, my fast clothes. Laugh out loud, right? Well, maybe, maybe not. I wore my old cotton painter shorts that I wear everywhere, hadn't even brushed my teeth yet or taken a shower, and had already had a busy morning. But if I'd worn my fast socks, it would have been different!

So what am I talking about? Not socks, really. Yeah, I have a pair of double-lined Wright socks that I bought years ago to wear as under-socks on extended backpack trips, and I have converted those socks into my marathon and very-long-run socks. But they are not necessarily my "fast socks". Those don't exist. And yes, I have two pair of great "dry material" running shorts complete with the boxer briefs. I used to wear them only for big runs, but now I wear them most of the time. But not today.

I do think there is some truth to wearing the "right" stuff can help performance, but only in the mental area, mostly. I know if I wear the "fast socks" I'm in for a long run, and probably need some mental toughness to finish it well. Today I didn't wear them (it wasn't going to be more than a quarter marathon, anyway), and I decided I didn't need the run. I'm not sure the two are connected, but maybe.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Topeka News

Welcome from Topeka, or somewhere. And Happy April Fools Day!

I debated this morning whether to run the usual 5.9 mile route or the Memorial Park 12 mile route...the shin splints won, and I took the shorter loop. It was a wise choice; the shins hurt most of the way.

The facts in short: windy around 15 mph from the south, so I had a cross wind mostly; sunny with the TH Index around 125 (steadily coming up, summer's on the way), and the usual small series of hills. My time was 45:09, a mere three seconds faster than two days ago (how is that possible to be so close?), so it came to 7:39 a mile. Not bad for the sixth good workout in a row.

I'll take the Easter weekend off running probably and try to come back strong next week and have another small breakthrough. I have a few running thoughts that I'll talk about in the next few days though. It's been a while since I wrote much on topics other than the actual running.

Have a great Easter. And if you don't get the post title, think Google and April Fools Day.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Difficult Day

I really dislike runs following hard runs, and by any measure Sunday's lightning run was a hard run (although I didn't push the end like I would have in a race and in fact kept my breathing measured but heavy throughout). The "day after", or two days after for us chronically age-impaired runners, makes for stiff muscles and aching feet and, maybe, shins.

It was no different today. My goal was a nice 5.9 mile rolling run out-and-back along Buffalo Bayou, my familiar work-related outdoor run. I doubted even that would happen in the first half-mile or so, as the kinks were whining for some attention. But never doubt the body's ability to roll when you least expect it.

Once I got past the first two hills, among the top three on this run in difficulty, my speed seemed fast, but my breathing was ragged and my stride seemed really short. I went past another runner with authority, through a couple of known time checkpoints in good shape, but still felt awful.

And here's where it gets interesting (finally): I told myself, like I did years ago when running cross country or when doing some serious mountain climbing, that I would simply, and could simply, take more discomfort than the next guy. So I maintained the pace back to the shop, and looked down to see 45:12. Not so impressive, it seemed to me.

So when I got on the computer and put in the numbers, it said I had run a 7:39 pace for 5.9 miles. Very good. Particularly considering the start, how I felt, and the hard run less than 43 hours before.

This is five runs in a row now that have been very good. I'm starting to think of another goal I may talk about tomorrow.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Lightning in the Legs

I put off running today until after the sun went down and the full moon came up...and what a night it was. The temperature was at 60, the humidity was at 36, and so the TH Index was a mere and fantastic 96. My time showed it.

I had decided early today to run 9.4 miles at some point, and with the wind and general activities I waited until after dinner. Then I ran at a 6:57 pace over the 9.4 miles, which has to be some kind of record for me. It felt fast, it felt good.

And I'll probably take an ibuprofen in a bit so I won't wake up around 4am with shins hurting.

A few notes of interest: my shadow in front of me on the moon-lit concrete, nobody yelling at me since I can be seen in my yellow night running shirt, and the complete anonymity of running in the dark.

It's nights like these that make me want to come back in a couple of days, but also make me dread it because it will be a long time before I can do this on a consistent basis. At times, it's no good getting older....