Another good year

I finished the year of running on an up note. But first the headlines:

  • I took Mrs. T to the movies last night and we watched Babel which was an intriguing study of four families running into a lot of bad luck; each linked in some bizzare or non-bizzare ways.
  • Son T went out late last night. That was normal but my cell phone beeped at 330am and it woke me up. I tried to call him back but he didn't answer. When I came home from running he wasn't home and I started calling his cell phone every hour to see if he was alive. He had turned the phone off. He finally showed up at noon. I don't use text messaging often enough to have realized he'd told me he was crashing at some girl's house.
  • I am sunburned. I laid out by the pool reading a consuming fiction book, Wild Fire, yesterday afternoon. It was as good as it gets. I haven't laughed so much reading a book in years, if ever. I like my new color too.

So back at running: I woke up right at 700 which was too late to join the Sunday bunch. I ate a Cliff bar, had a bottle of water, packed my cooler and set off to Park Avenue. I got there 25 minutes late.

I entertained delusions of catching the group but resolved this was a good day to get in touch with my pace and form on my terms. I did a lot of that today and still managed to cross paths with Cathy, Rachel, Bob and Chris, though none of them were running in my direction.

I covered 11.3 miles in 1:43:57 which was the fastest pace (9:22/mile) I have covered all year in a training long run. That made me happy.

Everybody be careful tonight. Look out for the amateurs.

Final numbers for the year:

  • Miles - 932; Lifetime (since 1999) - 4,445
  • Average Week - 17.9 miles; Month - 78 miles
  • Races - 2 Marathons (my first ever), 1 half, 1 20K, 1 10K and 3 5Ks. No PRs


I am in

"I pays my money. Now show me what you got. Who's with me?"

ING Georgia Marathon. March 25. Atlanta.


Beating the rush

With new year's resolutions about to come tumbling out of everybody's blogs (everybody being all the folks who have been pretty quiet the last several weeks) I am happy to report I got back on the wagon and went three tempo miles this morning at a 8:45 pace in mild 60F temperatures under sunny skies. I'll do 10 on Sunday too. I am happy that this was a fallback week in the 16 week schedule for the Georgia Marathon.

All hail the good women of the RBF who carry the burden and joy of making Christmas or other holiday festivities so memorable and meaningful which may have meant setting aside their running promises to themselves. I hope you all have a great run soon.

Not to trash all you guys but I heard the wise words of a 68 year old woman at the dinner table the other night who said it took her a long time to realize how much stress she'd put herself through to make the holidays "perfect" for her kids, family and friends which is, of course, impossible. I mean, just think about it. The dear woman has stopped kicking herself and works harder at enjoying it all more than putting it on.

I know I do not speak just for myself so, from all of us - Thanks ladies!


Better when it's over

I lollygagged around the house this morning avoiding my run like a college student with a philosophy paper due (true me, circa 1972). I stayed up late last night and slept in this morning. I ate a proper breakfast and walked the dogs to warm up. It was chilly so I goofed off back at the house when a "live" U2 concert from Italy was on the TV. All I Want is You and With and Without You, among other great tunes, had me mesmerized until 1130.

Then I went to the track for a 3x1600. It was still chilly and very windy. Spits of rain were coming out of the overcast skies.

I went 7:37, 7:46 and 7:56. It was definitely better when it was over. I did not enjoy it today. It wasn't like I overate yesterday or drank too much but I surely had a Santa hangover.

Speaking of Santa. I obsess over numbers. No. That's not exactly true. I respect them. I don't let too many of them get to me. Well Santa knew how much I like numbers so he brought me a Body Composition Monitor that measures my weight, body fat, water composition, bone mass, metabolic age and number of calories I can consume in the next 24 hours to keep the same weight.

After my run today I got on the thing and it told me I can consume 3900 calories to stay at my weight tomorrow; and that my metabolic age is 12. I'll try to diminish your urge to leave a derogatory comment by not sharing the other numbers.

So what did Santa bring you?

P.S. If you're looking for a 930 page tome on the Lore of Running I just finished reading it (got it yesterday) and it should be on eBay really soon. Well, I may browse through it a little longer to refresh my first read.

A few pics from Christmas...


Heavy traffic

There sure were a lot of runners out this morning. You'd think there was a race coming up soon. Let's see here .... oh yeah - Disney! Lots of folks were out on their last long run before the taper madness sets in.

Meanwhile those of us with no plans to run Disney and pretty sure plans about running in the spring showed up at 700 for the Sunday "service"/run. It was only Chris, Marty, Jack and me.

Jack only went four miles before turning home. Marty went six. Chris and I pressed on at a "good pace" according to him. I was just grooving along feeling good. When we got back to Park Avenue there were lots of early risers/shoppers as well as the beautiful people having breakfast on the sidewalks reading their New York Times.

I accompanied Chris running home so I could add an extra four miles to my morning. I added it up: 14.1 miles in 2:12. That was a good pace (9:22) and it didn't faze me at all. I feel excellent.

I intend to add 10% to the length of my long run each week so I can add more aggregate miles and peak higher than the First Plan prescribes. I am on a mission to do well in Atlanta, meaning better than Miami and DC.

I went to the running store the other day for Cliff Blocks (I am a convert from Gu, I think) and browsed through a runner book. It had those conversion tables in the back that tell you what time you should be able to run, given a certain time at one distance. Well, my 5K, 10K and half times all fell in synch. The mary time is so off, it's embarrassing, which is why I am on a mission.

Things to celebrate:
  • the return of daylight and we emerge from the winter solstice.
  • Santa's visit tonight
  • Christmas carols at church
  • A week off
  • both boys home (even if their "party time" is more like Pacific time)


Balmy seven

Thursday morning dawned and it was after 600. With seven miles to run before work I was glad it was the slow week before Christmas.

I went out in the balmy weather and took it easy going around the lake. I was unexpectedly stiff in my back again, as if I'd been booking too many miles. Over the last two miles I found rhythm and pace.

My work week ended nicely. I got my emails down to 20 in the inbox, ticked off a lot of folks who will find requests and assignments when they come back from winter break, finished some tardy assignments of my own, threw away lots of junk mail and visited one of my employees at home who is out indefinitely as she fights lung cancer. Her spirits were good and she looked good too.

Sonny boy #1 repo-ed his car this week so I took the bus and bummed rides home. Today my good friend K. left town for a week and asked me if I'd watch her cat. I asked her if I could borrow her car.

We have a deal and I have wheels.


Holiday lull

Everybody where I work is taking off this week because schools are out. It is a good thing to do. I, on the other hand, have enjoyed going to work and cleaning out my inbox, tossing piles of crap that has been sitting there for months waiting to be tossed, and mapping out things to do when they all come back.

On top of all that quiet at the office I have managed, for the first time in my life, to secure all the gifts I want to give people for Christmas - a week before December 25. That's unheard of. What I like best about it is the incredible vacuum of stress on my brain to think of something to buy that special someone, finding out where it is available, whether it is in stock and when I can get out to buy it. Phew.

Yesterday was Week 3 Repeats Day. I had six 800s to drop on the track. After the extra mileage on Sunday and cutting down a god forsaken bouganvilla bush on Monday afternoon I was stiff and slow to warm up.

I managed to go 3:49, 3:44, 3:46, 3:49, 3:47 and 3:47. I liked the consistency. The 3:44 was a PR and the 3:46 was a top 3 time. In fact, I've never before been able to do more than two sub 3:50s in a repeat set.

Proof positive that being overweight can make you faster.

I went and saw Casino Royale again with son T., one of his Navy buddies who loves weapons and Mrs. T. who doesn't. Everybody thought it was excellent. I appreciated the second showing so I could connect all the dots that did not reveal themselves so easily in the first viewing.

Glory be to the warm weather we're having here in Florida. Lows in the high 50s. High around 80. It's great but there's a front coming directly from Dallas which I blame on Runner Susan.


Check twice. Lock once.

I barely pulled myself out from under the covers this morning. I was having one of those nekkid dreams that Runner Susan likes. I had less than 50 minutes to dress, eat, pack, drop off the pack, drive and take pictures of the holiday lights in morning fog before the Park Avenue gang was off and running.

I stopped right in the middle of the street to take the pictures. Fortunately, at 700, there're few people out on a Sunday morning.

As I pulled up to the curb, my group was taking off without me. I quickly threw my keys under the floor mat, shut the door and took off after them, about a quarter of a mile behind. By the first mile, I had caught up without too much effort.

Swifty Dan was jogging along with my gang. A pair of ultra swifties ran past in the third mile and I challenged Dan to go off with them. He let the temptation pass which is not to say I let the temptation pass when he and I started chatting with Ed and finding ourselves way ahead of Chris, Jack and Marty. We were hoofing it hard to the four mile water stop.

While Ed and I waited for the slowpokes, Swifty Dan was impatient and took off ahead of us. Phew. Wipe out averted.

We all kept going and everybody turned short for six miles except Chris. He and I went on to do the full loop of 10 miles. When we got back to Park Avenue I told him I wanted to go 12 so we started the route over, going out a mile then me doubling back. Chris kept going, on to home.

What I love about the finish, going down Park Avenue at 900, is that the "early risers" who aren't runners can be seen having breakfast and reading the Sentinel or NY Times at their sidewalk tables chomping on a bagel or stack of pancakes. Yes. The beautiful people. Yes. I speed on by, feeling a rush.

Today I had intentions of stretching after my run, changing clothes and heading up to one of the cafes and having some beautiful people time myself. In fact, I swear I saw a triplet sister of Runner Susan.

Alas, I had locked my car keys in the car.

Now, before Thanksgiving this would have been an expensive moment. Fortunately, when son T came home then, I pulled open a little pocket drawer on "our" car and I found a spare key. Until then, none existed as best we knew.

So today, I knew where the spare was - next to son T's pillow back home so I had to run home for an extra 2 miles. I was up for it and made it fine. My time for the whole run was a respectable 2:10, a 9:38 pace.

I just missed out on the beautiful breakfast.

Oh ... and here's a little cadet porn, so to speak. Every year just before final exams and winter break they have a holiday dinner in their dress greys and fire up cigars afterwards. It usually results in a trip to the dry cleaners immediately thereafter.


Ups and downs

Something is happening to me. I reviewed my 2006 stat file (courtesy of Dead Runners Society) and see that my weight has gone up. From January through May I was around 149-150. Then school let out, summer vacation and gin & tonics kicked in and I went up to 156 by the time I left Rhode Island. Within two weeks I steadied and fell to a range of 153-154 for four months. Since the week before Thanksgiving (two weeks after MCM) I have been on a steady climb up to 156-157 and the holidays are just about to begin. I never fret over my weight because I've never had to but this is peculiar.

Meanwhile, on the track and streets of MyTown I am moving pretty fast. One of the 1200s I did on Tuesday was a third fastest at the distance and Thursday's 5-miler (43:35) was the second fastest of those I've done. So either I have been undernourished or I'm in pretty good running shape.

Now if I could just keep the clothes fitting comfortably we'll be alright.

Dream follow up - No I was not naked; in the dream or in the bed.


If it's Tuesday it must be .....

Track Day!

But first I have to tell somebody I had the strangest dream just before waking this morning. It was circa 1985 and I was walking along a cross aisle of a stadium on my way to a since-torn down press box and passing dozens of familiar faces who I knew but haven't seen in many years. They were waving and exchanging pleasantries while a bright aurora light bathed them as I went by. It was spooky weird.

I went over to the track about 600. All I had to do was four 1200s. Of course, I wanted to do them all fast and relatively close in time. I was not quite as happy with the results as last week's 400s but they were satisfactory: 5:47, 5:45, 5:54 and 5:54. Call it almost two pair, 54s high.

The rest of the day was a lot of work. It'll be that way for the rest of the week as I ponder an evergreen message to frame for public consumption. Shoot, I'll settle for a seasonal message.


Georgia training. Week 1 done.

I had to skip Thursday's easy little tempo run for work reasons but I was not to be denied on Friday. I buzzed around the big block (3 miles) in 27 minutes and felt fresh. The afternoon before I was feeling tightness in my chest that gave me pause. I have had it before and sensed it to be stress related. I knew a run would flush it out and it did.

Sunday dawned and I drove to Park Avenue ready for a 10 miler. I wish I had left a little earlier because I would have taken some excellent photographs. The sun was just starting to lighten the sky and the lake was as still as could be with a covey of ducks floating near shore. It would have been a good shot.

Downtown, the seasonal decorative lights were still blazing from city hall all up the street past the park, as far as you could see. It was still dim enough that a photo would have been spectacular. I had the camera but I was late to the meet up.

Chris, Jack, Bob and Marty were the only ones there. It was but 50F and I stripped down to T-shirt while some wore long sleeves and gloves. By the end of 10 miles I was in the right outfit.

At the 5th mile Marty and Jack peeled off and we ran into Seth who sings as a Dickens caroller throughout the season. He turned around and ran the next five miles back to downtown. I had tried to run on his shoulder last week in the half marathon but he always pulled ahead. He did so today too but turned around every few blocks to run back to us.

In the last two miles I decided to stick with him and picked up my pace. We ran off from Bob and Chris and had a good blow for that series of miles.

What have we become? I have pondered recently why I and those I blog with have all become/stuck with running long races (halfs, marathons). It seems we are not so inclined to run shorter distances. Is it because we're always training for the long ones? Or am I just not paying attention to your short races?


Off to a flying start

You ran a half mary in challenging conditions. You can feel gunk in your joints and muscles. For that next run, you think you'll take it a little easy. Break back in slowly. Avoid injury. Recover.

It's the first day of your next 15 week marathon training and the schedule calls for a speed work out of eight 400m repeats. Not a lot of distance but it is eight repeats.

Do you start slowly and work to improve? Do you expect to get top performance through every rep or might you think you'll fade as you tire slightly?

It is 50F and windy. You think you maybe should have worn gloves. That wind is wet and cold. It's 6 a.m., two weeks away from the darkest day of the year. The tail wind is nice but the head wind on the track is like 200 meters of prickly cobwebs.

I took off on the first 400 meters and noted the time to be respectable. I expected my times would get better for another 3-4 reps and then float back up to or over the first rep.

As predicted, the next three laps were slightly better. The next two were as good as the second. I found I was channelling my two secret running heroes, Dianna and jeff, on my seventh lap. I was telling myself to keep pushing. I though to go seven laps fast was a good thing. Surprisingly the 7th was faster than the previous six.

That left me with just 400 meters to go. Could I make it count? Could I do even better? I resolved that nothing ventured results in nothing gained; and speed is what I want to gain. I had no more laps to run after number 8. What reason could there be to leave anything on the track?

Lap 8 was the fastest of them all. It was an all-time PR for me. 1:39.99. In fact all eight of them beat my previous top three 400 meter times.

1.39.99 I have been soaring all day. How sweet it is.


A number of things

1. Casino Royale should have never ended. I could have watched another two hours. Worth the money and time.

2. I start my next marathon training tomorrow morning with some beloved track work: 8 x 400s.

3. I really scrounged for some better news about my half marathon. Here it is: I was 4th among 16 men my age.

4. My next marathon will bump me up another age group. Woo hoo! I'll be the obnoxious brat again instead of the grandpa.


Race Report

Half Marathon

At the first mile I was amazed to have run it in 8:15. I did not think I was going that fast. Shortly after the mark my timer went off to tell me I was ahead of pace. Woo hoo.

I tried to find a comfortable pace without overheating. It was an awfully hot 73F at race time. The course was new this year and I was liking it through two miles. The second mile was in 8:13 - even faster.

I started to worry about going out too fast. The third and fourth miles tracked along the streets I drive home every day from work and it was very familiar. #3 was done in 8:27.

I half hoped/expected to see Mrs. T at Mile 4. I had given her an estimated pass-by time. I passed by in 9:20, obviously slowing. I missed her by two minutes. Her and the two doggies were out for a walk but a little behind my quick start.

I rathcheted down my pace, feeling the humidity and heat. #5 went by in 9:22. #6 was 9:31. The pace timer was beeping way before the mile markers now. I actually felt so tired I contemplated a DNF. I was so hot. I took my shirt off, bunched it up to carry and shuffled on.

I was taking on Gatorade and water throughout the course and never felt a cramp. I passed through some of the new neighborhoods of the course and was encouraged by the better turn out of residents. Bruce Springsteen was out again, as he's been every year, parking his convertible at closed roads and playing "Born to Run" over and over. He made three appearances on the course for me this year.

Mile 7-9:56. Mile 8-9:49. Mile 9-10:46.

This was painful. I saw the Winter Park cross country coach right around then and he pointed out that his wife was just ahead of me. Ahead of me? I was renewed in a quest to find her and catch her. I spotted her and gradually moved up. For a quarter mile I drafted right behind her then pulled alongside.

She didn't notice me for a little while and then glanced over. We exchanged hellos and not much more. I stayed with her for a mile as one of us (I'm not sure who) paced the other. We kind of pushed each other and made some improvements on my time, at least.

Mile 10-9:37. Mile 11-10:06 (uphill stretch).

At mile 11 her husband jumped in to run with her to the finish. I wasn't sure how strong she was and expected he might bring out the best in her and leave me behind; but they stopped at the water station while I pushed through. I think she was trashed by the heat too.

I had some renewed strength and decided to do what I had planned - run 10 miles and race the last 5K. Of course, I only had two left but that's when it struck me.

So Mile 12 was 9:32 and Mile 13-9:32 too. I crossed the line in 2:03.18; which was about as much I as could manage under the conditions.

I felt good afterwards and made a bee-line for the beer garden where I hung out with pals for another hour or more before going home to watch the Army-Navy game.

During the game my friends in Atlanta called and were thrilled to hear I wanted to come visit in March - for the Georgia Marathon. After today's heat I look forward to some cold running weather.


unseasonably warm

Tomorrow's race should start with cloudy skies and temps around 65F. That's a little too warm. Cloud cover is a modest positive.

I had pasta and chicken with lots of cashews for dinner. I figure the salt will allow me to camel up with extra water. I'll sweat out the salt in the race. A bottle of Gatorade just before the race is in my plan.

Hopefully the heat will not prevent me from my intended goal.