Finding zones

Last week kicked off the running season in Florida. There was a 5K that I skipped but it drew a good crowd of 1500. The race was won by a Myrtle Beach, SC, resident who was visiting. Her names is Zola Pietersen. You may remember her as the barefoot 18 year-old South African who unfortunately got tangled up with Mary Slaney on the track at the 1984 Olympics with Slaney taking a bad fall. Both of their dreams of Olympic glory were dashed. Yes, it was Zola Budd and she is still fast.

I broke my nine year record for monthly mileage today with an 18-miler. August provided five Sunday mornings to go long so it was natural to pile it on. I finished with 172 miles and no injuries.

The run today began early enough to put down six before 7 a.m. and the usual meet-up on Park Avenue. There was a good crowd and I mixed it up with Jack, Jergen, Chris and Christy. I stuck with the last two until the end of the ten mile loop. Chris was unusually erratic in his pace, going out fast with Ed and then at varying speeds. Christy was just plain fun to run with. She's booting up for New York.

My effort was to find a zone or two. My early miles were a combo of heavy breathing, tight upper torso, stiff legs and scuffling feet. I eventually found a nice stride and regulated deep breathing. It felt just about right. I held it for awhile and found it again later when I knew my stores were running low and I just needed to hang on.

It was the inclines that had me remembering the hills of Rhode Island and the steady cooler pace I kept up there. I avoided the panic yips and kept it going through to the end. But, boy was I tired.


I have fallen for another woman

Yes, it happened again.
I am sorry ladies.
I have found Julie.
She knows anatomy. She knows massage. She knows what to do with me like Runner Susan knows what to do with paper plates.
A friend who introduced me to massage therapist extraordinaire Sherlene (who ran off to Montana to run a B&B!) led me to a pneumatic thumbs specialist named Hank who I visited for a spell; but I didn't feel much more than sore after so many visits.
She then told me about Jan and Julie at this new place that is no more than 1.2 miles from my house (I measured it) and on my way to and from work.
They are so nice and Julie is just amazing. She had me signed up for a 90 minute return engagement even before I'd flipped over on the table Wednesday. And they have an educator discount! (Don't tell them I don't teach, please).
Julie has touch. She is funny; and she thinks I have well developed some-sorta muscles in my hips. I think I will be well tuned for Chicago now. After her session I ran a tempo run Thursday in the usual sauna conditions at a 9:30 pace which beat my last several tempos by 30 seconds per mile. I felt great. I also perspired profusely and had to put my shoes outside, since they exuded fresh evidence of their 450 miles.
So ... there I go again.


I am ready for Beijing

Oh .... it's over?

Well I had a long training run yesterday. I watched the Olympic Men's Marathon Saturday night looking to channel some of that Ryan Hall karma that had me flying through Central Park last November. Here are the results:

Of 98 marathon racers, Ryan Hall (USA) finished 10th.
Of 1 marathon trainer yesterday, I finished 10th.

Hall had to be thinking that Nicholson Joker line, "Where does he get all those incredible toys?" when faced with the stamina those front runners put on on such a hot day.

I had hot too. Started at 6 a.m. in 75 degree warmth. By the time I finished, 4 hours, 46 minutes and 47 seconds later (three seconds longer than my NYC Marathon time), it was 95 degrees outside.

I looked like a paper airplane floating high in the sky that swoops down too close to a fire, catches, shrivels up and breaks into a million little charred ashes. That's what 23.6 miles can do to you in Florida.

On top of that, I came home thinking I could jump in the pool. Some idiot who went for a really long run left the pool valve on "waste" yesterday, to skim off the rainwater from Tropical Storm Fay, and managed to drain a good 18 inches (hundred of gallons) off the top. No wonder Mrs. T fired me from pool duties. I should have remembered.

Next stop 8 x 800 repeats tomorrow - with my first blister ever on the sole of my foot.


I hope they don't have caller ID

Tropical Storm Fay is still hanging around. She's moving at walk speed (not to be confused with warp speed). She passed us last night but the southwest quadrant of the storm is full of rain. We're floating down here. It's not as bad as some other places like Brevard County (Cape Canaveral/Cocoa Beach) but it's hazardous; so I just sent a phone call canceling school to 185,000 homes at 9 p.m. I hope they don't have caller ID. I don't need them calling me back.

....oh; and I made the call with my one phone line (non-wireless) on laptop power ... in the dark. Our power is out. Thank goodness I only had to dial once.

It was nasty enough Wednesday and Thursday mornings that I called off my runs. Storm management was more essential. There's a storm of my own waiting for me Sunday - a 23 mile long run.


Somebody call Fay

If you'll all call loudly enough maybe Tropical Storm Fay will hear you and come; as in leave. We hurried up to wait for her to arrive. Now she's dawdling over the Everglades. We need her to make up her mind, stop changing directions and move on out.

We cancelled school today and, in hindsight, we could have pulled it off despite the occasional shower and wind gust. We decided this afternoon to resume normal operations tomorrow based on 2 p.m. forecasts and now the weather service has extended a tornado watch until 1 AM. That presents some cause for concern about my phone ringing at 2 AM asking me to send a message to the 185,000 parents and employees in the early morning hours to tell them to stay home a little longer than planned. Grrrr.

I do love low barometric pressure.

Despite the weather I went out to do 12x400s this morning. A band of tropical storm wind and rain kicked up on lap 11 which helped me do my fastest times on the final two rounds. I do love to run in the rain.

Best line from the Olympics comes from Runner Susan who wants to know where she can find some Romanian smelling salts for Chicago.

Postscript: T.S. Fay went to sea overnight and our conditions are fine enough for the little ones to get their little selves back in the classrooms.


Heat Week

Back in Florida.

Running. My 3x1600s on Tuesday actually felt great. It had been three weeks since I did intervals and my legs felt all tingly the rest of the day. I liked it.
After Wednesday's easy run I got up very early Thursday to do a 10-mile tempo run. That was hard, given the typical humidity (1000%) around here.
I skipped a run Saturday and ran a short 16 today at marathon pace minus 15 seconds per mile. I knew I was going too fast. I replicated my typical bad race day strategy: out too fast, running myself to the ground and staggering in at the end. Fortunately I remembered that I am not supposed to do that.
Next week when I have 23 miles I will be more conscientious.

Working. School starts Monday and that means about 185,000 people could ruin my day on a moment's notice. Not that that matters so much since Tropical Storm Fay is coming our way (maybe). The media are all aflutter questioning whether we will close schools for the first day. NO!! It's not here yet. And if and when it does, I expect a little wind and some heavy rain. The best part is that certain sub-tropical smell in the air. It is unique and quite exhilarating.

Oh ... and John McCain is dropping in town Monday to make it a perfect storm of media hyperventilation.


That's all?

I erased any soreness I had on my Saturday tune-up run of three miles. I just took it really slow and everything worked.

I skipped out early on a fun party with all my summer friends Saturday night so I could get rest and out early Sunday for my 21-miler. I was loaded with Clif Bloks and a $5 bill. I knocked out three miles around the colony then headed on my 18-mile route of two weeks ago. I reversed the route direction to make it different and upped the running intervals to two miles before a minute walk break.

The day was sunny and warming. The ocean breezes were coming from off-shore pushing the clouds up-country. I soldiered on and on and on. I stopped at the home of the party hosts for a drink from their garden hose; bought Gatorade on Bay Street in posh Watch Hill; took water at the Misquamicut state beach pavilion; and charged a water on my account at the Weekapaug Inlet. I had Clif Bloks every 5-6 miles.

The running went well. I wore my new Asics 2130s with the insole and they served me better than I expected. I averaged marathon race pace. When I popped into the house at 10:45 (after a 6:30 start) I surprised everybody who thought I'd be back more around noon time. [I am not that slow!].

Double beach. I kept moving after I cleaned up so not to cramp. I took it slow by packing my suitcase before heading to the beach. We went to Watch Hill for lunch at the cabana and some cool wave massage on my calves; then over to the colony beach to sun and say goodbye to all the gang of friends. A goodbye hug for Dad at 8 p.m. and we were on our airplane home by 9 p.m.

Of 16 vacation days, 13 were beach perfect and we didn't miss a one. My tan is good enough that if John McCain picks Charlie Crist as his running mate all I have to do is dye my hair white and I could be the next governor of Florida, although I am not about to marry some well-heeled socialite goddess.


Since you didn't ask

I had a math and training problem last weekend. There was the race, of course; and the training schedule which called for a 19-mile long run.

With warm-up and all the race covered 13+ miles. That left just six to do on Sunday. I felt like doing more especially as I ran on down the road, towards the beach ... so I kept going and did 11.7 miles to amass my highest mileage week of the year (40).

To add to my risky behavior I ran again Monday and Tuesday (risky because of the above normal mileage without rest). Thankfully it rained hard yesterday and I took the day off, answering work emails in advance of a return to my office on Monday.

This morning I plotted my next runs. This morning I put in eight and this weekend I want to cover 21 miles on a long run. I had a lot of fun playing on my Google pedometer to find that kind of distance in the beach communities that run along the Rhode Island Coast. I have two good options. My only concern is some soreness above my right ankle, interior to my shin. It cropped up mid-run but dissipated over the last two miles.

Soft Sole reviews. If you have been to your running store and stared at the rack of in sole options you're probably like me: no real clue which one to choose. A nice lady named Rachel with Soft Sole solved my indecision. She sent me free samples!

I swapped out the in soles of my new Asics 2130s which were slim and flat by comparison. The Soft Sole Athletic was a good fit and presented nice cushioning that resembled my Kayanos (the king of cushioning in the Asics line). The single observation I made while running was that I sensed my heel sitting higher in the shoe by how much less of my heel was covered by the back of the shoe. I suffered no irritation or rubbing so long as my shoes were tied tight.

I also received some sample socks to try. They're a good fit with enough heel/ankle coverage to fit nicely into any shoe. They're not super thin like some I like to run in in Florida but they are thoroughly seamless and comfortable. I wore them last Sunday on my 18-miler in the rain and I feared for the slippage inside my shoe. The rain came down through my shoe tops. Puddles were unavoidable. I took on water over the sideboards more than once and thought I'd sink.

I expected I would slosh all run. I expected blisters. Somehow the water in my shoes disappeared. Lacking drains I suspect it was the socks wicking the water away. I was totally pleased.

Thank you Rachel!


Run any race that finishes at the beach

I went down to New London on Saturday morning to meet up with the ever popular and fairly famous Running Chick with the Orange Hat - Dianna H. who coaxed me into running the John J. Kelley/Ocean Beach 11.6 Mile Run. My own commitment cemented hers so we both had to show; and we both were pleased for having made our decisions.

The race was exceptional in many ways:

(1) it was free entry;
(2) an unconventonal distance - 11.6 miles;
(3) it was extremely well organized, in its 46th year;
(4) there were eight water stops with cool/cold water and Gatorade staffed by friendly volunteers;
(5) the race started and ended at Ocean Beach, the popular public beach and boardwalk at the southern tip of New London, CT;
(6) the post race goodies included the typical banana and water but also included iced clams on the half shell and New England clam chowder.

You'd never believe how tasty a bowl of warm chowder can taste after running 11.6 miles in mid-70s temps!

Dianna and I met early, warmed up and mingled with the hordes of fans who all know the RCWTOH. We started together and I kindly kept a sub-9 minute pace for the first mile so we could enjoy some more running together; then we hit a hill and I watched Dianna chase after Beth and some other folks.

The course was mostly scenic with lots of shade most of the way, lots of hills including one that peaked at 125 feet above sea level. I enjoyed the race, walking through water stops to rehydrate and keeping a good pace throughout. My splits were all over the board but I didn't care. This was a fun run with the beach waiting for me after the finish line.

Dianna came out to watch me finish strong (1:53), then we met up with Beth again, had snacks and chowder, headed for the ocean and dunked in the cool water, avoiding the jellyfish. It was very refreshing. I highly recommend any race with ocean access after a hot run.

Dianna was as nice as ever; in fact even nicer than I remember. We shared potato chips after the run which was reminsicent of our run at Bluff Point three years ago.