Moving sale

Everything must go. 75% off. Liquidation prices just in time for the holidays.

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Thanks. I needed that.

After a week of Runner Susan-sympathetic lethargy I was glad to go out and run 10 miles this morning. I almost didn't make it.

I cracked an eye at 6:36. I closed the eye. I thought about how nice bed was; whether I could still make it by 7:00. At 6:37 I decided I would turn into a fruitcake if I didn't get up. I hate fruitcake.

In 5K speed I was dressed, had the Zippfizz packed on ice and a banana in my hand. I was out the door and on my way.

First sight I see on the Avenue is Jack showing off his 1st Place age group trophy to 2nd Place age group finisher Bob (different age groups). Jack said he might still strap his award around the Mercedes logo on the hood of his car.

19 runners started off this morning as a group. Roll call would be too much text for the blog (I have my limits) so let's hit the highlights:
  1. Christy made her long-awaited return to the team after a stunning NYC Marathon. I spent as much time as I could picking her memory for the highlights. She says she may never run another marathon because nothing could top New York. I might have to agree with her.
  2. Chris was starting with us after doing 10 miles beforehand. He seems to have a sleep problem and solves it by running. That doesn't really solve it but it's what he does. If you're looking to buy a dialysis machine Chris is taking offers.
  3. Brian "greatest Central Florida high school runner in history" J. (and my neighbor) was out again and, fortunately, had a pack of fasties standing by to whisk him away.
  4. Jack showed me some good form and stamina. Off his superb half last week, he's running the full 10-mile circuit with speed and confidence. I noticed him only take one shortcut.
  5. Ed ran so fast that I completely lost track of him after 4 miles.
  6. John, Jurgen, Russ and I ran together until six miles when Jurgen peeled off with Christy for the shorter seven mile route.
  7. John and Russ are on the same Higdon training plan for the same race (Disney) so they compared notes and I implored Russ to share his previous experiences at Disney with John.

I pulled back onto the Avenue after the 10 and felt just great. 1:39 time and hungry. I stretched, changed and went up to the Briar Patch to eat eggs Benedict and tip my waiter 30%. Hey, he's going to Greece for five weeks (school, you know) and needs some travelling money.


The circus was back in town

After a couple of decades in the sports business and lots of "big" game media events, I am fairly non-plussed by media circuses. Today was a circus-plus day.

One of our schools is situated at the end of a dead end road with no other access. It was along this road, within 100 yards of the front gate, that the remains of a young person were found this morning just into the nearby woods. Without going into all the details, the common assumption is that the remains are that of Caylee Anthony, the missing 4-year old cutie pie (since June) who's been a favorite of Nancy Grace and other media networks (CNN story here).

Well, I had to hurry to the scene shortly after noon today to explain how we were going to release the students from the school and allow parents to pick them up - with a road closed off by police fully engrossed in an investigation - in the rain - with every network you can name on the scene.

School was out at 3 p.m. and the buses with many school kids rolled by the police cars, media tents, satellite trucks, curious neighbors and reporters oblivious to what was going on, smiling and waving. I felt obliged to wave back and smile just to help them relax, in case they had any fears about what was going on.

Knowing kids, I expect they had a pretty good clue even though they'd been in school all day doing what they do. The media circus has been on their school's street for months so it won't be any big surprise when they find out, but the news is grim. Nevertheless, teachers and staff will be ready tomorrow to listen and watch for reactions and questions.

A sad day but maybe one of relief for many.

Oh. I ran 1.5 of 5 planned miles this morning before stopping. I walked home. Something was bothering me. I didn't know it would be Caylee Anthony.


Hard core runners show up

There were fleeting promises of showing up to run this morning by many among the Sunday Orlando Runners Club crowd; after yesterday's taxing signature half marathon for Central Florida.

I rolled onto Park Avenue at 6:56. Jurgen was there. He didn't race. Seth showed up. He hosted the ORC Christmas party the night before so he kinda had to show up. Chris showed up. Brian Jaeger, "Central Florida's greatest high school distance runner" showed up for the first time. End of show ups.

We immediately ushered Brian over to Kim B., who (a) is much faster than us and (b) is our default relief valve for too-fast runners who show up to run with Jack and friends. That left me, Seth, Jurgen and Chris to be the hard core Sunday runners bunch.

We presume John was still coping with race soreness he had never experienced before, especially in light of his inaugural 1:51 premier run. We presume Jack was en route to New York or LA for his Leno appearance (where do they shoot that show?); for winning his age group (70-74) yesterday and beating the mayor, 24 years his junior by 10 minutes.

Christy - ah Christy, the erstwhile NYC Marathon legend - is on short term medical leave, we hear, and is expected back next weekend. Ed must be licking his 10-mile wall wounds. Summer, Adrian, Bob and others were not hard core enough to be out after the half to run again this morning.

Run, is a loosely applied term in this case. We were moving forward and that's about as good as we will allow. Chris turned home after the 4-mile stop, lamenting that there weren't the same amenities on the race course (cool your heals and chat stops every four miles). Seth turned in when we got to his house around mile 5. He is running somewhere in Hawaii next weekend so he gets top props for hard core status. Both did warm up miles running to Park Ave. at 7:00 a.m.

Jurgen and I turned at Seth's house too, making a bee-line back to Park Avenue. For me it would be a 7-mile jaunt at 10:15 pace. For fresh-legged Jurgen, I gave him the challenge to do a chase run from Seth's house back to the Avenue. When I turned right he turned left and had an extra block to navigate before being on my heels again. Within two miles he caught me.

My seven miles restored weekly mileage to the 20 miles or more plateau. Now that the half is over I need to plot a new training plan. But for what? The Pig isn't until May. Gasparilla is March 1. I'll have to play with it to see if I am training for the 15K, half or full.


Father Jack won!

Yes, Jack won his age group by about five minutes this morning. A fine performance by the godfather of the Sunday running group. He'll be rigging some way to mount his trophy on his car hood tonight to show off tomorrow morning.

I ran feeling pretty decent but my time was not up to snuff - 2:03:22. I had an equipment malfunction during mile 5 (shoelace came undone) that cost me my place running with Chris. Ed was with us for awhile too. I saw Seth and John - who smoked it in 1:51! That I beat Seth was an accomplishment.

I placed 31 out of 66 in my age group among 2,248 total finishers. The best part of this race is the beer garden afterwards. It stayed open past noon even though I left at 11.

I plan to go out tomorrow morning for some more running in what are pretty nice conditions in the high 50s/low 60s.


Entering the canal

Hail all ships at sea. This blog is sailing into another ocean very soon. I just need to figure out how to clean up the WordPress layout so it's clean and I understand it.

My navigator is the ever popular Internet Person.

Tomorrow is the OUC Half. I haven't touched a sneaker since last Sunday. What do you think the over/under is on my time? Forecast is upper 50s at the start, sunny and around 65 when I finish.


Dedicated run

This morning's run was dedicated to TS who was a recent site visitor. I assumed parts of TS's name as an online alias recently while channeling a nostalgic recollection of the fine gray line.

I was greeted with, "There's AWOL," this morning. Thanks Jack. I missed you too.

The Orlando Runners Club Sunday bunch was huge today. Chris was trying to pad the numbers but it was a legitimate dozen. I expected as much on the Sunday before the OUC Half Marathon. Many in the group are already signed up or primed to do so.

A fast bunch featuring Ed, Jurgen, Chris, Lytle and another fellow (maybe another?) made quick work of the first four miles. I only stayed with them for two miles. My legs were very tired from a hard three mile pace run yesterday and the bi-annual pressure cleaning of the house. There's no shortage of washers to rent the afternoon of the Florida-Florida State game, by the way.

For miles 3 and 4 I ran with John L. who I had seen at the Turkey Trot on Thursday. He's still training hard for Disney and may do the OUC next week.

From the 4-mile water stop I paused to turn off my watch pace alert. That put me behind the group and in chase mode. I ran on my own until the Glenridge stop, shared some Zippfizz with John who was waiting with Ed and Jurgen. I resumed quickly with John and Jurgen as we tried to run down Ed who kept looking back for us.

By the time we reached Virginia Heights Jurgen had caught and passed Ed while John and I were on his heels. By the time we reached Rollins, Ed cranked it up and made short work of our effort to reel him in. John and I labored for an extra two miles to put twelve in the book.

Recapping. I finally completed a full week's training mileage for the first time since before Chicago. I also topped my previous annual mileage mark of 1,203 miles today (set last year). Plus I've got a whole month of running left to add to it.

Using Runner Rob's suggestion to age adjust my Turkey Trot time, it improved from 10th to 7th on my career list. Love that converter.


Turkey's soaring

I woke up with an attitude that it was not cold outside. It was 45F which is cold for us flatlander thinblooders. The sun was coming up and I had a race to run.

I put the top down on the A4 and toodled on down the empty byways of Orlando to Lake Eola with Coldplay rising up from the speakers. I parked at a middle school track and felt indominatable. There's no explanation why. I just felt that way.

I strolled down to the party/start area and picked up my number and looked around. The Turkey Trot is a running family reunion. I had 45 minutes of mixing and mingling before the start. Over 4,400 runners/walkers were registered to benefit Seniors First, an organization I will have to join soon, based on the perks they say they get.

With ten minutes until the gobble (no gun) I worked my way close to the front. This being my fourth of these "trots" I knew too many people took the trot part seriously. I wanted some open road.

I enjoyed the run. The finish couldn't come fast enough but I kept pushing. I was loose from a thorough massage by Julie the night before and I concentrated on elongating an easy stride and keeping shoulders relaxed.

The usual back-of-the-pack-starting youngsters flew by me all through the second and third miles, they being the former high school CC or track stars back for the holiday break. There were four people at the start I wanted to beat and I took out three of them. A gal in a NYC 07 marathon shirt beat me by a good 20 seconds.

My time was 24:43, second best of my trot runs and 10th best of my 41 5K races so, despite my increasing seniority, I still have some speed working despite being a lazy butt all last week. I drove home thinking about some more running today but the dogs needed a walk.

Happy Thanksgiving RBF and friends.


The streak is over

I couldn't bear it any longer.

I dressed to run this morning then changed into work clothes to make in time for a bowls selection committee meeting (Capital One and Champs).

At 5 p.m. I headed home and ignored all distractions and made it out on the roads before it turned dark and dropped six quick ones around the lake. I could sense I have been absent lately.

Now I'm ready for the Turkey Trot.


Complete and utter shutdown

I took Mrs. T to a play at the college last night, "They're Playing Our Song." It ran late. I watched a lot of it with my ears open and eyes shut, up in the balcony.

Yes, the mighty have fallen completely off the wagon. I did not even show up for the Sunday morning run today. That makes it a full seven day week since I ran last.

I substituted a brisk 2-1/4 mile walk with Mrs. T to have breakfast at #1 son's restaurant ... after sleeping in ... right past the 5:30 wake up, one-eye-balling the clock and rolling over; right past the 6:55 readjustment of the pillow and realization that the gang was forming up to run ... and through the 8:10 a.m. observation that they might be running right down the street from me at that moment.

Ah yes, I slept in 'til 8:45 and I think I am mighty pleased about it.

Breakfast was excellent. Service was personable. Then we stole the waiter's truck and went off to Home Depot for some plants.


State CC Championships

The Winter Park teams did well today. The Lady Wildcats had hopes of pulling off the sneaky upset to win States but finished second by six points to Bertram Trail HS in Jacksonville. They'll be back strong next year despite this morning's post-race tears.

The guys came in as underdogs, barely making States with a sixth place finish in regionals. In States they ran well and finished sixth, a huge surprise. Best of all they beat all the usual rival high schools from Central Florida to ward off the off-season razzing.

Oh and yes, I failed to run again. I will actually show up tomorrow looking to hear all about New York from Christy and only hope I can stay with her for a mile and get the low down.

Pigs. The Flying Pig came about because, last weekend, Mrs. T was minding the museum table at the Farmers Market when a former classmate pal and her hubby stopped by. They live in Cincy and were in town for who knows what. He runs the zoo up there. They offered to put us up in May if we came to run the race. Mrs. T booked this one. I just have to get ready for the hills.


Running on Empty. Empty on running.

If this were just a blog about my running, there would be no post to post. I haven't run since Sunday.
Monday I felt sick midday and went to bed early.
Tuesday I skipped to be sure I wasn't going to be sick.
Wednesday I felt fine but it was too damn cold out all of a sudden.
Thursday it was still cold and I was tired.
This morning I overslept until 8 a.m.
Maybe this weekend.
Tomorrow is the high school state cross country championships. I may catch a ride to that at 6:30 which will pre-empt running again.

Did I mention I am planning to Fly the Pig in Cincinnati this May?


My kind of running day

Saturday. I skipped that 5 mile race pace run yesterday because I wanted to take the day off. It was so nice, I can't even remember what I did. Oh yeah ... I lazied around the house until 11 then went to aid Mrs. T at the Farmers Market. She had a table promoting the museum to those who would do well to enhance their cultural repertoire (the erstwhile beautiful people). A few nibbles, she reports and certainly some good exposure.

My assistance came in the way of hauling all the goods back to the car after it was over. I then rewarded myself with a nice lunch at 310 Park, sitting at the bar (my preferred seat for dining) and watching a football game on the flat screen.

Movie reviews. Saturday night Mrs. T and I watched a great precursor of the James Bond movie series, "North by Northwest" with Clark Gable. It was really done well, especially the scriptwriting. It's like they really cared back then, what the spoken words sounded like.

"North by Northwest" was viewed on the heels of seeing the new Daniel Craig Bond flick. I expected better. The plot was uneven. I much preferred "Casino Royale."

As a nightcap, I watched one of those peculiar but riveting flicks, "American Beauty." It was as rich as I remember it the first time.

Back to running. So a cold snap blew through last night and by dawn it was 47F outside. I went down to Park Avenue to see the Orlando Runners Club. Jack and Ed were just coming in from a 2-mile warm up run. I was shocked. A double digit crowd assembled including Eric, a guest runner. He just did New York in 3:15 or so so I directed him down the street to fastie Kim B. who kept him moving just fine. Speaking of New York, Christy was a no-show after taking on too many shifts at work.

I dawdled waiting for my Garmin to sync with satellites while everyone else took off. I was a quarter mile behind when I finally started. I found the cool weather to be ideal for making up for that race pace 5-miler on Saturday. I found a high gear and caught up to the crowd right after the first mile. I ignored Jack's "show off" remark and blew right by them at an 8:30 pace.

Juergen is not one to let anyone pass him without taking a run to stay up there. He joined me for the next three miles waaaaaay ahead of everyone else. He tried to be conversational but I wasn't quite able. My breathing was highly regulated by the pace I was pushing and words came with difficulty.

We waited at the water stop for the strung out line of runners behind us. I had done the four at an 8:20 pace. I was stoked!

Jack shared Gatorade again; bless him. He asked if I'd received his email Saturday. (I didn't log in at all, so no). It turns out he'd sent a petition to all Orlando Runners Club Sunday runners to donate blankets for the Coalition for the Homeless; and also cut and paste my entire visible blog into the e-mail for all to see/read. I guess that makes me the bona fide Secretary of Blogging. (Oh Jack, I received five copies of your e-mail!)

I took off again, this time by myself. I caught up to a fellow going 15 today in training for his fifth Disney. I slowed down and enjoyed some conversation until the seven mile water stop. I had my Zip Fizz and was joined soon by Juergen, Ed and John. We headed out to finish the last three.

We picked up the pace again with Juergen charging hills as is his custom. I matched him this time but that man is a gazelle and could run with faster folks with no trouble. Ed asked to mentioned in today's blog. There. He had no new news from the Bridgeport bus company soap opera. So Ed - when's the Runners Club party?

John is a young attorney who's business crosses paths with school board business every now and then so we tread lightly into those waters. It was easier to talk about running and his prep for his first marathon, Disney in January. He was doing 15 too today so, given how fresh I felt, I kept running with him after the ten and put in another two before turning around.

Big tipper. I had breakfast at my son's place of work for the third Sunday in a row. He's getting better at it.

This afternoon I watched the Rollins Women Tars (15-0-4 on the season) win a 2nd round soccer match and advance to the Sweet 16. If they make it to the Final Four I'll be in Tampa the weekend they play there. Woo hoo. Road trip.


Back on the wagon

Okay, I am supposed to be in training but it just isn't happening like it would if I was marathon training. Why am I more loyal to marathon training than shorter distance training? Why would I be sure to run more miles for a mary and skip or cut short runs for a half mary?


What is with this work? Very demanding lately. It is the season. Budget slashing in Florida is the new blood sport. If only there were more tax exemptions we could just close schools and all go home school.

So this is about running. I pulled off the easy 5-miler again on Tuesday, like last week; and skipped Wednesday's tempo run, like last week. But today!!! I did the 6x 400s that Runner Susan didn't. I was supposed to do nine but had to hurry to work. They dropped nicely from 1:50 to 1:43 over the course of the effort.

I'll go again tomorrow and Saturday. I am sure I can manage that, then see the Sunday bunch again on Sunday. Gosh, I missed 'em all last weekend. I look forward to Sunday - and maybe some cooler temps again. It's up in the 80s now but heading to low 50s by Monday.


About what you'd expect

A not so disciplined run week:
  • Ran Tuesday before the election return marathon that night.
  • Skipped Wednesday's tempo run to recover sleep.
  • Blew off Thursday's easy run.
  • Thought about making something up on Friday but was too tired still. Just glad it was Friday.
  • Yesterday I was running errands and cooking. It did not include running. [NEWS FLASH: I was cooking because Mrs. T was off leading a museum tour to Sarasota and we had ten people coming over for dinner. Nobody died. Seafood lasagna was pretty good.]
So today was double dog race day.

With too little sleep, too much alcohol and a total disregard of the benefits of training, I went to run the Founders 10K and 5K this morning. To start, I forgot my watch. I decided I'd just race how I felt and check the mile clocks as necessary.

The drive was 24 miles and I arrived just in time. I hit the port-a-potties, checked my bag and got in the back of the starting queue. I ignored the pace mile signs and figured to hang back and start late, then navigate the crowd as it loosened up down road.

Horn blows. Crowd moves. I'm loitering to let them move out. Announcer says, "All 10K runners: you have 30 seconds to cross the starting mats before we start the race-walkers."

Drat. I run across the mats.

The lane was narrow. The slow pokes were wide. I weaved, jumped curbs and avoided ankle sprains and cross checking penalties. Over the course of six miles I passed a lot of people. That allowed many of them to read the back of my shirt, a gift from Peter in DC (DC Spinster). It said "Get used to this view," the taunt of the DC Runners Club 10K training team.

I ran about as best I could but it was not very pretty. 53:58; 8:41 pace. I mean, I ran a 15K at a 9 sec./mile slower pace in September. I thought I could go at an 8:15-8:20 pace. Conditions were excellent too.

It just wasn't my day.

Nevertheless, the bright spot is that I didn't pack it in and go home after the 10K. I stuck around and did the 5K as well. I got stiff between races so the first half mile of the 5k was all about loosening up. I allowed many more to read the back of my shirt. And this race? More like a warm down, coming in at 29:55.

I saw several peeps at the race. Only Seth among those mentioned anytime previously. Father Jack was there but I never saw him. It was a nice race. I PRed the 10K there in 2005. Good times. Good times.

Next up is the Turkey Trot, a/k/a the runners' family reunion. It seems every high school kid who runs cross country at college comes back for the holiday and runs this race. The times are incredible. There's also a high volume of non-athletes, out to justify their later-in-the-day indulgences. I'll go both ways on that one.


Christy's New York result

If I am right, our Christy ran her inaugural marathon race in New York in 4:32! Beat my best by 14 minutes/ Good for her.


Zoom zoom

With an extra hour's sleep I was raring to run this morning. The race team reverted back to its usual men-dominant crowd with only Wendy and one other gal among eight guys. In official business at the pre-run meeting, Jack clarified that he is now director of recruitment for the Sunday bunch, since he answers all the e-mails that come in to the Orlando Runners Club site. He also announced Chris is director of membership retention. With titles being tossed around Ed decided he wanted director of entertainment. He mentioned having a party at his place this fall for all of us. I figured since I write about us on the blog I would be the secretary of blogging.

From the get-go of running I was at the front and pushing hard with Seth, John and Juergen. The overcast skies and 60s temps were very conducive. John was new and prepping for his first marathon (Disney). I gave him my take on the virtues of starting in the last corral. Seth waxed on about how to enjoy the runs and not get all tangled up in breaking any records.

At the four mile fluid stop we waited for the rest of the pack and I was summarily scolded by Jack for my blog explanation of last week's violation of the No Walk Zone. Apparently Jack had composed a ribald comment but managed to lose it without posting so he gave the verbal version to all assembled. What to make of it all? Well we walked through the No Run Zone today if that gives any indication.

We stopped again at the 5-mile water cooler in front of Seth's house. It was at that point that Cherlene appeared, running with the big boys, a/k/a fasties. I hadn't seen her in months so I jumped in to visit with her and run the next two miles at an 8:30-9:00 pace which took my breath away but not my legs. I kept up.

Near my house we all stopped for fluids again and my starter pack caught up to us. I let the big boys and Cherlene go on and ran with Juergen, Chris, John and Ed for the rest of the 10-mile route. I caught up on Ed's latest shenanigans in the bus transport business. Chris proved to have gone to remedial geography class last week as he was correctly able to place Bridgeport in Connecticut, not New Jersey today.

Juergen, who had never run more than seven miles (maybe a little more) was on his first ten miler and he had plenty of gas to push a pace and finish fresh. It annoyed me that every little uphill was his time to do a sprint. I hope he surprised himself. I knew he could run more miles.

My time was 1:37, a nice 9:30 pace.

Exotic cars. After the run I changed into some clean clothes and walked up the avenue. There was the annual exotic car show going on today. I recall writing about it once before. I stopped in to the Briar Patch to have breakfast. No. 1 son is now a server there and learning the ropes of that glorious business. He switched from car sales and you can probably guess why. No. 2 son showed up too and we had breakfast and left a big tip.

Then #2 son gave me the seminal tour of the cars on the street. He is very familiar with the specialty car world - which I would call one of my weak "man" suits - and so now I am marginally more informed. Hopefully there is not a quiz.



Chicago bling

RunNona bling; and I was "scolded" (nicely) for leaving the race before the awards were given out.

Campaign bling, outside my office week before last

Genuine New York

It was genuinely chilly here this past week. I ran in the low 40s twice which was totally fine. Now we're back to the 70s but overcast.
Good luck to everyone running New York tomorrow, especially Christy.

I ran my 40th 5K this morning and finished just at 24:56, ranking 13th on my all time list. While that was cause for a genuine "eh" I looked up results on line to find I finished second in my age group. That's the first time I've ever placed third or better. Mind you, there were only 13 in my age group but, hey, everybody could have been there.

I think I have to go to the Track Shack to claim my prize. Bye.


Weather changes

Sunday turned out to be a beautiful morning to run. It was 62 at 7 a.m. and the crowd on Park Avenue was unlike it's ever been. The regular guys (Chris, Jack and Ed) were there plus Christy but then there were not one but four other women! The guys were actually outnumbered.

I ran eight miles at a 10 minute mile pace in negative splits. The first four I ran with Ed and caught up on his latest travails in the bus transportation business (not so good things going on there) although Ed is the model of a good honest citizen. He just can't rely on many who work in the business. Ed and I pushed a good pace while Chris and Jack got all chatty with the ladies back behind us.

At the four mile fluid stop we downed Gatorade and water. Defying the usual protocol, everyone started running in the no-run zone (5o yards long). I scolded them all to stop but Jack, the eldest statesman and historian of the Orlando Runners Club, corrected me saying when the temperatures fall into the 60s running is allowed. You can learn something every Sunday with this group but I suspect Jack changes the rules whenever it suits him. After all, he is the master of short cuts along the course.

Once we resumed pace I stuck with Christy who was logging her final "long" run prior to running the New York Marathon this Sunday. She has devotedly done her mileage and is fit and ready to rock New York. I gave her my recollections of the course and encouraged her to memorize all the roads and turns so she doesn't fall victim to mental delusion in the later miles. We pushed the pace down into the 9s over the last two miles and came in very strong.

I felt fantastic afterwards and went home to plot my next race and training schedule. Over the rest of the year I am planning a 5K, a 10K/5K double and a half marathon. Past that I am looking at the Gasparilla Marathon in Tampa on March 1. About 1,000 run the full down there and I know some folks in the bay area. It was there, at Gasparilla, that I ran my first "away" race, doing their 15K in 2005. It's crazy how nervous I was back then.



My age adjusted Chicago Marathon time did not break four hours like I wish i had: 4:07:54.88 .

Barack and Hillary were at my place last Monday. Big rally right outside our school board building in front of the arena. I have pictures, just not here. It was quite huge with 40,000 or so on hand. The superintendent let district staff leave at 3 p.m. since those who were leaving needed to get out before the roads closed down. I alternated between watching it all from an eighth floor window and the street.

I ran 4.75 miles this morning at a 10 minute pace. I felt really good afterwards. I am hungry for some more miles tomorrow. I need to load in a training schedule for upcoming 5K, 10K and half marathons this fall.


What's next?

Next involved running some more. I started with a slow test-them-out week of three runs of two, four and six miles. The six hurt after mile 5 as my left knee and right ITB talked to me. I haven't tested them since.
After my first two-miler I went to see Julie for the toxic waste dump massage. Oh, she hurt so good. I was tighter and more sore than I realized and she did me a world of good.
This week has been about tending to medical and dental maintenance that I had deferred until after the Chicago race. So far, all healthy and fit.

So what's next on the race circuit? My agent, Runner Susan, says I should run White Rock (Dallas) in eight weeks or Austin next year. She wants me to come her way for a change. I'd love to but, as I might have mentioned, Mrs. T allowed #1 son to sign up for a three week economics course in January - in Greece. Cha-ching. I have grounded my race tourism for a little while and will stick to local 5Ks and 10Ks; plus the OUC Half Marathon in December. That'll keep me working.

P.S. Go you Rays! You beat my former favorite team, the Red Sox (1967-May 2008), and now face my one-year-wonder favorite team, the Phillies (1964).


Chicago Marathon weekend through the lens

Mrs. T and I enjoyed the Art Institute of Chicago

I also enjoyed a wonderful evening and meal at Mia Francesca with Runner Susan & Michael; and Rich & Katy who picked the restaurant.

I loved the pace tattoos they used in Chicago. If you ran your pace you wear it for a week as a badge of honor. If you stunk it up, you scrub like crazy to get it off.

Mrs. T's brother Rich ran his first marathon. I am sure he caught the bug and will be doing another one soon

We had beers and burgers at the outside grill underneath Cloud Gate (the bean) after the race.


Chicago tidbits

My greatest reward from the race is still on my right forearm. Nike and Chicago offered race pace tattoos which went on very easily race morning. It is still on my arm and other folks' arms unless they used industrial strength tattoo remover. I am still proud to wear it even though I missed the 4:45 goal. In the heat I was happy with having been close.

My marathon photos arrived in my inbox. About 22 of them. None with Runner Susan in the frame! All were after I shed my shirt so they hide few details of of my manly frame. Right. Hey, the tan looks good. Many were taken when I knew there was a camera, hence the smile and lively step in those. The others where I did not anticipate the lens were more honest.

I loved the food I ate in Chicago. Two dinners were superb. One at 457 Rush at 45 7 Rush Street (Go figure!); and the other Mia Francesca on Clark up in Wrigleyville. On the former, I credit the awning that touted martinis and steaks. That's what Mrs. T wanted before she went in. She had chicken. I had Canadian wild salmon to die for.

On the latter, credit goes to BIL Rich for making the bold decision for all of us on where to have our pre-race carbo loading. The rigatoni was excellent. We had reservations for 5 p.m. We arrived and met Runner Susan outside. The place was locked up and we were a long way from our hotels. Right at 5 p.m. the place opened and it filled up within 10 minutes, I swear. Very popular and good pasta.

The post-race cheeseburger and pint of beer at the Millennium Park Grill under the silver bean were just fine in a great atmosphere. Nothing gourmet about it but it was a nice sunny day after a grueling morning. Anything tasted good and the company was super.

I liked the Chicago subways. I know all the Red Line stops now.

The Art Institute was very nice. I was on my feet staring at awesome art for far too long on Saturday but it was worth it. We had lunch at the cafe there too. Mrs. T loves museum galleries, cafes and gift shops. I'm good with the first two.

Runner Susan has a great hubby. Michael is very good for her and to her. We should all be happy for them, celebrating their anniversary by driving the 531 hours from Dallas to Chicago and back with his bike in their back seat. He even gives her training massages. I gave Mrs. T a quick glance when that fact was revealed. Still no chance.

If you are out of work - or close - I thought of a guaranteed job for life while I was in Chicago: exterior skyscraper window cleaner. That work never ends.

Mrs. T paid $16 a jar for "special" sea salt at Fox & Obel. She bought two. I bought a Nike running top in a very bright blue color at the expo for $55. The expo was big, well laid out and I didn't browse like I usually do. I went Friday, found commemorative race gear in all sizes, then left. We were hungry. Going to the expo on Friday is a big plus. It gets it out of the way and leaves Saturday wide open.

photos tomorrow without any double chin shots of Runner Susan.


I ran the race for which I trained

Chicago did well to over-prepare after last year's debacle. It was unseasonably warm again. The race started with temps in the high 60s and quickly zoomed through the 70s and into low 80s. I saw one bank sign that read 87F but it was officially a high of 84F.
It was sunny and steamy. I stripped off my shirt at mile 4 and gave it to Mrs. T the one and only time we were able to see each other. I picked up a good suntan. Essentially, I was running in the conditions I trained in: hot Florida-like and a flat course.
I ran the first half of the race with Runner Susan at about a 10:40 pace. I was carrying her zip bag of race needs in my pocket while she carried her cell phone. I figured that was how I'd keep her with me and I near her at an affordable pace.
She asked for her bag of stuff around mile 14. I thought she just wanted to take something but once I handed it to her she said she didn't want to hold me up. The heat was starting to get to her and was sounding concerned.
I kept with her for another 2-3 miles and finally heeded her last words, "I'll be right behind you," and kept going. Fortunately for Susan, she finished with a tough 5:11 time while hundreds of others logged DNFs in this one.
I soldiered on the last 10 miles feeling decent. It seemed much like a training run but for all the course adjustments I had to make dodging walkers and slower runners. Despite my official pace it sure seemed like I was passing a lot of folks. The aid stations were always backed up and I walked through many of them after 20 miles.
Hoses were on everywhere. They were handing out cups of ice which I used on the usual cool-down spots. Then I remembered how a colleague at work had a 104F fever two weeks ago and how they cooled him down in the hospital so I tried it myself. It couldn't hurt right? Down the shorts went a cup of ice and I have to say, that is an effective method of recovering from the heat flashes.
In mile 21 I had another Cliff Shot Blok and some golden raisins. A spectator offered orange slices. I had a little surge where I stretched it out. By the 23rd mile though I was miffed because the 4:45 pacers passed me. I knew I couldn't keep up with them. I was running half miles then walking a minute (or more in the aid stations).
Michigan Avenue was the home stretch. The road was wide. The course was more open. The final turn at mile 26 had huge crowds. Up the bridge to Grant Park and running strong across the finish line, I logged a 4:52:29 with which I am quite content, given the conditions.

In the next few posts I imagine I will reflect on the more memorable things from Chicago. We had a good time; had dinner with the Runner Susans and the couple from Schneiderville, Mrs. T's brother and SIL. This is all for now. Time for breakfast.


For those scoring at home

You can sign up to follow me and 44,999 of my closest friends - including steroid paper plate junkie Runner Susan - as we run the Chicago Marathon Sunday morning. Go here to sign up for text messaging, e-mails or pager alerts. Last name - Thomas. First name - David. Bib: 20474.

The race starts at 8 a.m. Chicago time.

I went back to look at my training prep for New York last year. What did I notice? I ran a few more miles this year than last but at a more than marginally slower pace. I didn't want to know that but I do now, so I am anxious about what pace Susan and I will settle on. She thinks she's going to PR by 30 minutes on the course she PRed a few years ago. I'm not so sure.

Weather forecast is now for warm weather: 60s and 70s. In fact, we're in ALERT LEVEL YELLOW-MODERATE danger status. Back up the Gatorade truck.


Worry time, right?

I am starting to worry about those "micro-tears" in my muscles that may not heal by Sunday. What can I do? What happens if they go macro on me?

I slept great last night, in my own bed, especially after Mrs. T got up early to deal with a headache. The problem is getting good sleep the rest of the week. Why?

The Rays are in the A. L. Championship Series!!!!!!

Because they'll be on TV and I will be watching. Clearly there will be no baseball fans left in Chicago.


Great Getaway

I haven't seen any kiddy field trips since I arrived in St. Augustine. That's a plus. It is a small scale historic enclave on its own inlet, near the beach. The tourists are light this time of year so it's quite pleasant. Mrs. T calls it a bohemian sort of place, in the vein of Key West. I must say I haven't walked by or seen so many embracing couples in the middle of an alley or looking out over the water. Must be a popular romantic destination.

I partook of the museum activities but most enjoyed going for an eight and 10-mile run yesterday and today. Each time I crossed the Bridge of Lions, ran by the renowned St. Augustine lighthouse ("allegedly" haunted), and down the quiet, secluded road into Anastasia State Park. It's a two-mile road that ends at the beach. The sand dunes are full of sea oats. The waves were rolling in. There were maybe 4-6 people as far as the eye could see as I ran along the beach for another mile. Sunrise was very cool.

I am done running "long" until this time next week. Forecast for Chicago is a race morning 46F and a high of 64F. I expect Cubs fans will still be hiding in their closets, unless the White Sox fans push them out for their own miserable off-season. Go Rays! I want to hear more cowbells!


Somebody stop me

Since I vented about the authorities who I will avoid in Chicago I did some decent 3x1600 repeats on Tuesday then spent the rest of the day dreaming about seeing Julie for a massage at 4 p.m. She did for me everything I needed, especially when she announced with a few meaningful pressure moves that my left side had "issues."

We're talking from the left hip to the ankle, including the calf and shin. The knee is fine. Something was going on with a couple of muscles down above the ankle that work better when separated. They weren't. Needless to say Julie worked me over expertly and sent me on my way with a bottle of water and helpful instructions to drink a lot of it and take the first run easily after the massage.

I took ibuprofen to help with inflammation and drank; mostly beer (baseball play-off games) but beer is mostly water, right? I blew off running Wednesday morning because my legs were stiff and sore when I got up. I figured a rest day was in order. Thursday was much the same so I delayed all running until today.

I am off work as I accompany Mrs. T as the spousal unit/trophy hubby to some museum professionals' conference in St. Augustine for the weekend. I expect to be reminded how much I despise 4th grader field trips when we tour the city.

So I went out this morning for the easy four-miler I was to have done Wednesday. Tomorrow I'll try the eight-miler I was to have done yesterday and Sunday I'll do the 10-miler on the books for that day. There. I'll be all caught up and maybe three to four pounds lighter.

Somebody stop me from eating! Since doing 20 miles two weeks ago the body still wants to eat but the mileage has diminished and the taper madness has begun. At least I had some quality runs racing last weekend and on Sunday.

Politics. I was invited to a viewing party for the VP Debate last night. The price of admission was to bring Mrs. T since it was (a) a party for women and (b) required a few more red state women than were likely to be there. The party was designed to be a bipartisan crowd complete with yard signs and hand-made signs supporting both sides.

In these very partisan times, it was a rare occasion for a bipartisan party, hence the presence of a local daily newspaper reporter, an NBC affiliate's cameraman and a team of three reporters from the Guardian in London that flew in from Washington to cover the curiosity of American electioneering and partisan politics here in a battleground state. They found it curious that a bipartisan crowd could be assembled for such a high intensity debate.

I stayed away from the reporters as much as possible but Mrs. T was quotable. She dropped a line about Palin being a diamond in the rough that ended up in the local paper. Next I expect to read about her in the Guardian because that crew had her in a corner for quite awhile.

There were two viewing rooms, the Peanut Gallery and the Silence is Golden room. The yackers and hecklers were in the Peanut Gallery. I retreated to the quiet room so I could here them go at it. Most of my roommates wore blue name tags and were not very kind to the good governor of Alaska. Women can be quite nasty, I found. Both of the VP candidates did way better than I expected but I expected much less of Palin. The CNN undecided Ohio voter opinion meter was the hit of the night for me. I wonder in the handlers will tell Sarah to drop the "maverick" references now.


Somebody sign Chicago up for some mojo lessons

Everybody tells me what a great race Chicago is. They say the crowds are great. The course is flat and nice. The restaurants are superb. It's well organized. I'll love it, etc. Well, so far, my expectations are going to be easily exceeded.

I read through the race confirmation booklet last night which I thought would inspire me. To the contrary, I felt like I was reading the high school Student Code of Conduct with the applicable punishments for everything that could possibly happen after some miscreant soiled the exhaustive repetitive rules and regulations. I was cringing at how anal it came across. I kept remembering how the New York handbook was informative without finger-wagging.

Wait. What is the race condition at the moment? Are we in a code yellow all over town because of rain?

I was really galled when it said nobody should be on the course offering any food or drink other than that provided by the race. Sure, some risk management lawyer is covering their butt over somebody getting sick for God knows what reason; but good grief. My most memorable marathon race moments include the infamous red cups at Miami, Marine Corps, and Georgia; the paper cup from a resident who shared pineapple slices at mile 18 in New York; the bottle of water in Georgia from a neighborhood group when there was no water from the race because the organizers were unprepared; the pretzels from fans in Arlington late in the Marine Corps race.

I hope it gets better than this. I don't like the Chicago race planners right now. Their booklet was all the fine print blown up to bum us out. I expected a positive welcoming message. It wasn't there.


Feeling it some more

I decided to start tapering today.

My training plan had been for a 19-miler this weekend but I broke it down into the 15K race yesterday and a simple 10-miler this morning. It was nice to sleep in and drive to downtown and not have to run my way there and back.

I still had plenty of that pep from yesterday. I was all over the charts in mile splits; everywhere from 9:03 to 11:07. I averaged 9:41 which is still pretty good for the day after pounding it during a race. The drier and slightly cooler weather is a positive factor. No more heaving heat prostrations.

I found myself running with different people this morning. I started with Father Jack for the first half mile; then there was Cathy W. for mile 2 who just happened to be out on the roads at the same time as me. She used to be really good (BQ good) until breast cancer. I ran with Tim and an Englishman from Nottingham who lost 100 pounds to run his first marathon recently in the Robin Hood Marathon. I like the sound of that one. Then there was the college girl from South Florida who's running Chicago; and Rusty the entrepreneur anatomist/alchemist.

Christy and Chris stuck together. Christy lambasted my erratic paces but I couldn't help myself.

I did vow to not let these fasty race paces influence my pace plans for Chicago. Sure as shootin' I'll go out too fast and burn up. Susan, put a bit in my mouth and hold me back.

After running. Mrs. T had the brilliant idea to go to the beach this afternoon; and so we did. Our favorite beach at the Canaveral National Seashore was closed because the drawbridge was broken. It's the only way over.

So we went to Cocoa Beach and mixed with the rest of humanity, ugly as so much of it is. Regardless, any day at the beach beats chores at home.


Good News Thrice Over

1. The day after I pondered what to pack for Chicago and remarked that it hadn't dropped below 70 since whenever - it was 66 when I went out to run Thursday. It was windy enough that I actually went back inside and dusted off a shirt to wear. It was a most pleasant tempo run of 4.7 miles at a 9:30 pace.

2. Friday I lamented to Mrs. T that Runner Susan had an e-mail confirmation and her race packet from Chicago already and I hadn't heard anything from them at all. "Yes you did," she said pulling some three day old mail out from under a pile she had started on the front table. Mrs. T doesn't know it but she earned 4 demerits for sitting on mail for two days and not saying anything. I mean she KNOWS we're going to Chicago; and I MIGHT be interested in any mail that comes from there. That's enough .......

3. I ran the Miracle Miles 15K this morning and it was a perfect high 60s kind of day with low humidity; a day you find around here in September about as often as Bin Laden is sighted.

One of my school principal runner friends asked what I would be shooting for. I said 9:15 miles, keeping expectations low. She told the others int he group I was fast so I dutifully excused myself and moved towards the front of the starting chute.

With 1,100 racers and from near 100 feet behind the start line, I took off at the gun to find to my utter amazement there were no slowpokes to weave around. I followed a few fasties across Orange Avenue and up Wisteria Ave, turning on Copeland Drive - right in front of our home from the 1980s (a Spanish Mediterranean two-story jewel on the lake and historic register).

I was pleased with my pace on the first mile (8:43) although the Garmin told me the mile was long by a little bit. I had said 9:15 pace to my friend but I really wanted to be doing 9:00s - or better. The second mile at 8:49 made me think many possibilities lay ahead of me.

I felt compelled and succeeded to drop into a steady pace without chasing anybody. I concentrated on keeping my breathing regular and my legs and arms going only forward and backwards - no drifting off a straight line or cross-body pumping. Miles 3-6: 8:55, 8:57, 9:05, 9:04. Nice.

Approaching the water stop at miles six I ate a Shot Blok and some golden raisins. By the time I reached the tables I was ready for a wash down with Powerade. I drank some at every stop, only slowing slightly.

Miles 7-9 are where rabbits go to die. I feared a loss of power, mental will and stamina. I worked to keep my stride correct and I found myself just gliding. I kept calming my breathing down so not to overwork. I was feeling very confident and after the first six miles in sub-9:00 pace, I had a notion about PR-ing when I was knocking off 8:53, 8:44 and another 8:44.

We ran by my old house again and the last three-tenths to the finish line. I crossed in 1:22:23 and knew I was sub 9:00 and thinking I might have PRed. I hardly felt spent.

I enjoyed the runner comradery and post-race snacks; saw my neighbor who finished third overall in the women's race. She was complaining about not beating the 2nd place person (she lost by eight seconds) so decided to run home from the race to be mad with herself. That was a good post-race 6.5 mile punishment. I picked up her 3rd place medal and prizes at the awards ceremony.

My time was a PR, by 2:03. I finished 7th in my age group out of 28, and 400th overall.

My reward? I have to go mow the grass and pull some weeds.


I can't remember

The last time I ran wearing a shirt was April. It hasn't been below 70 in forever. What the heck will it be like in Chicago? Maybe I'll pack gloves.


Do you believe in Parrotts?

My Parrott Predictor says I'll be around 4:40 in Chicago. I have never found the PP to be right but that was when I ran lesser distance long runs. Maybe this time it will be more accurate. That would be nice. It would make me smile and keep Runner Susan happy too.

Date Week Total Miles Parrott Prediction
Jun-30 27 17.7
Jul-7 28 25.0
Jul-14 29 30.1 4:39:14
Jul-21 30 32.2 4:42:22
Jul-28 31 38.5 4:21:47
Aug-4 32 41.4 4:32:41
Aug-11 33 33.2 4:37:01
Aug-18 34 33.8 5:02:33
Aug-25 35 34.0 4:30:53
Sep-1 36 39.6 4:32:56
Sep-8 37 29.9 4:49:37
Sep-15 38 35.1 4:45:27

I have been experimenting with three pairs of shoes on my last three long runs. I have three more intermediate distances to do including a 15k on Saturday. Each is auditioning for Chicago.

The favorite right now is a 10.5 Kayano (320 miles) that I raced in in Ft. Lauderdale. I have some 10.5 Asics 2180s with cushioned in soles (148 m.) that I wore Sunday with all the problems with hip, ankle and toes. Finally I have a new pair of size 11 Kayano 14s (38 miles) which have the necessary toe box space but feel big anyway. The 14s in 10.5 were too tight.

Anxiety. Somehow Runner Susan already received an e-mail confirmation and heads up about the Chicago race packet coming by mail. I haven't seen a thing but I refuse to go back and check to see if I am still registered on line. I know they're saving the best for last.

Mapping. Maddy created a map on Google of the race route, a targeted Italian restaurant for Saturday night the 11th, and all the known lodging addresses of RBFers running Chi-town. All my brother-in-law, a former resident of Chicago, can talk about is getting in on the lottery for Cubs play-off tickets, which could coincide with the race. If the Cubs don't get that far, maybe the Southsiders from the junior circuit in white stockings will be playing. He didn't mention them.

Training intervals. I did 7x800s this morning just to see how everything worked after Sunday's breakdown. Things were stiff but loosened up by the time I was done. My intervals were slow but went from 4:38 through 4:21, a few 4:15s to a final 4:01. Through noon, things are healing up. That PR on Saturday may be a push but I will give it a try.


20 is enough

Somewhere in the execution of today's 26 mile run today I made a mistake.
It could have been what I didn't eat last night.
Or what I did eat.
It wasn't the first eight miles that clicked off nicely at even splits from 10:45-11:15.
It very well might have been miles 9 and 10 when I joined my Sunday bunch and got caught up in their freshness (10:15 and 9:34).
I remember attacking a hill with too much gusto.
Mile 11-14 were okay at 10:30 paces.

Then my left hip started hurting. I crumbled through miles 15-18 at a halting pace accompanied by Chris and Christy. After 18 miles I turned off for my final eight, a reversal of the earlier morning jaunt. Then my hip and gasping lungs asked me to slide by the house for some Zip Fizz .... before taking a six mile loop around Baldwin Park.

By the time I reached the Zip Fizz I was 0.2 miles from my house and I said better to heal and run tomorrow than die today and regret it.

I have managed five 20 milers through this training run-up and I know I can go the distance. It just didn't have to be today. In three weeks it matters. In Chicago.

Notes. Christy took a wrong turn again this morning or else Father Jack had a bout of sometimers. They both turned into a cul de sac around mile 9 ... I signed up for a 15K race next Saturday. I am going for a PR if my hip loosens up ... I see Julie to work on it on Wednesday.

In remembrance. This afternoon I attended a memorial service. Think back to your college days. You must have had that one professor who turned the lights on for you in your head, right? I bounced through three majors before finding an inspirational man who sucked me into the study of philosophy and religion. It taught me how to think and write. Dean Wettstein was my hero. He even co-officated at my wedding (we had a triple-header). He died in May and today was his memorial service at the college. Nobody cried. We all nodded our heads ... remembering all that he meant to us. Thanks Arnie.


24 days to go

I watched a video of the Chicago course tonight for the first time on Maddy's blog. It's flat; yes indeed.
I wrote Maddy and her clan of bloggers about plotting our Chicago in-residence locations on a Google map so we all know where we are. Maddy's working on it.
I wrote my barely-40 brother-in-law to see what his plans are for Chicago. He lived there once so I am counting on him for inside intel and advice.
I called Runner Susan to talk about lodging and dining and whatever else pops into our heads.
I showed Mrs. T where the museums are on a Google map so she can plan her marathon.
I watched Runner Susan's hilarious Leg Torture #15 without the legs.
I ran an easy four miles this morning after some truly grueling 6x1200s yesterday. Those are the worst but my best was the last one.
I started plotting my food and beverage intakes between now and Sunday's final 26 mile long training run.
I checked to make sure for the third time that I am registered for the race.
I am feeling fit, confident, healthy and ready.
24 days to go.


A short 19.6 mile day

Today was a near repeat of last Sunday's run but for a few high/low lights.

I was late arriving at Park Avenue to meet the Team at 7:00 a.m. I could see them a quarter mile off the start line when I arrived. I took too long eating my bagel and reading the paper at 5 a.m. before knocking off the first 8.5 miles.

I skipped the third mile leg so that I was ahead of the Team at Mile 3. Lytle was the first to come up on me, running with someone I did not know. She mentioned something about spelling her name right on the blog. I got it!

At the 4-mile water stop I caught Lytle and waited on Father Jack, Chris, Christy, Marty and Juergen. We partook of much Gatorade stashed by Jack and other running groups before wandering off to run some more.

Everybody peeled off to run 7 or fewer miles except Chris and Christy again. Now I felt normal. Christy couldn't remember the blog url last week. Maybe now she's on. Christy was directionally challenged a few times today too, not that she hasn't run the course a time or two. Maybe she gets a pass because she's an actress.

I had to stop to re-tie my shoe late in the 16th mile and found a fountain of speed when I restarted. Christy and Chris were complaining for a whole mile. That's how far it was despite the fact I forgot to start my watch again after re-tying the shoe. Thank goodness for Google pedometer.

From the Park Avenue finish line I only had the short two miles home to complete my 19 target miles. I made it without walking other than as scheduled. My pace was under 11:00 for the whole length. It turned out to be 19.6 altogether.


The frog croaked

Tuesday I did 12x400s which went better than last time. Most were around 1:50 with the first and last the best, down around 1:45. I believe I have developed some stamina that should make Chicago seem like nothing worse than a day at the dentist.

While stretching after my intervals yesterday I managed to wrench my back, which hurt until this afternoon. I conveniently had a date with my new girl, Julie, who gave me 90 minutes of purposeful massage. It was delightful. Though, I have to say, a "routine" massage isn't nearly as dramatic a sensation as that one in a blue moon massage that reveals all the crinks and creaks you thought you had but weren't sure 'til it was artfully revealed on the table.

Last night was a tough one for sleeping. After all the tropical storm rains we've had, the critters have been restless. In our case the critters are Cuban tree frogs that come around at night and sit on the lip of our pool - right outside our bedroom window - and start ribbiting up a storm. Needless to say, sleep is not a simple thing under such circumstances. Fortunately for me, I can sleep through most of it unless I am otherwise awakened; as usually happens when Mrs. T is disturbed, which usually results in everyone knowing she is disturbed.

If proper preparations are made the croaking will cease after a little good night hunting. Mrs. T keeps a baggy in the bedroom and if those noisy toe suckers start clucking she goes out there with a flashlight and catches them in her bag, twists the bag up into a knot and, without ceremony, deposits them in the freezer. That not only shuts them up but it is said to painlessly prevent them from ever ribbitting again. Ah, life in the Florida wilderness. It takes a hunter's heart to live down here.


Deploying counter-measures

First off ... a big welcome to any Sunday run lurkers making a visit to the site. You can comment anonymously and I will not know who did it ... except, by what you write, I can pretty much guess who you are ... Chris.

Today's long run of 24 miles loomed in my head like a race distance that needed some attention; as in let's rehearse what we do on marathon race day. That started Saturday by not running and floating in the pool. Sadly the floating part didn't start until 4 p.m. after hacking the yard into shape with the hedge trimmers for a few hours.

I insisted that Mrs. T whip up some pasta for dinner and she delivered very well with some spaghetti and meatballs with salad that tasted mighty fine. I was full, especially after a bowl of fatten-me-up cherry vanilla ice cream ... with dark chocolate syrup. Ummmmn.

I slipped into bed at 8 p.m., read for an hour, then snoozed 'til 4:30. I got up, made it out onto the road by 5:30, set a heading to loop Lake Ivanhoe in Orlando, snake back up through College Park, turn at the Church of the Right Turn and make it to Park Avenue by just before 7:00. Mission accomplished with three minutes to spare. 8 miles in the book with 16 to go.

The Sunday morning con-run-gation was larger than usual with Father Jack leading us in spiritual remembrance of the sweat we were about to break. Ed was back again. Wendy and Mr. soon-to-be-wed-to-Wendy made an appearance for the first time in forever. The lovely Lytle graced us with a return engagement after many weeks away. Chris and Christy were on hand as they have been religiously for many weeks. Those who skipped will not be defamed today. I'll give them until next week.

The run had its moments. Everyone stuck together as I reprised the Zola Budd low-key race appearance again, this time with more details from the race director. Then Ed, Chris and Lytle took off after a mile. I stuck with Jack, Christy and the Wendys. Then an orange-clad sprite of a runner closed on us from behind. Kelly was seeking Chris and the Sunday run crowd. I pointed him out, way ahead of us, so she and I ran together to the four mile water stop.

Kelly ran NYC last fall, as did I, but her experience was nowhere near satisfying. At the park where there's water (is that a water park?) we stopped, talked with Chris, Ed and Lytle, waited on Jack & Co., then drank all his cooler full of Gatorade. The mandatory walk block allowed Ed to recount for all his harrowing exploits as owner/prosecutor of a Bridgeport, CT bus company that the employees turned into a late night chop shop.

At the five mile mark Lytle, Kelly and Ed went short, down Mizell and home. M&M Wendy had fallen off or turned back. Christy, Chris, Jack and I pushed on. I was at mile 13 on my clock.

Somewhere along the way Chris started talking about the hockey mom VP candidate and politics. I listened until he asked what I thought of her and the presidential race. I find Palin palatable until I look at her record; and then I shared with them the insights I had found in a book called the Swamp, a history of the events and politics surrounding the development of Florida. It's all about the water folks; and politicians (mostly Republicans) have rarely shown any serious concern for the environment, hence my inclination to vote Democrat.

I was practicing my race strategy today of running a mile then walking for a minute. It was allowing me to do 11 minute miles which is a little above my race goal but below my worst race paces. It was another scorcher out there with a lot of sun. I was managing fluid intake pretty well. On the 10-mile course there was Jack's Gatorade, a water cooler at mile 5, my ZippFizz at mile 6.7, a cooler of blue Gatorade at mile 8 (the best!) and the water fountain at Rollins at mile 9.3. The run-walk pattern held up well for me.

In keeping with my race day strategy I decided I needed to practice deployment of counter-measures to Runner Susan's hard-body preparations for Chicago. Damn those plates. She's going to be running the whole damn way. I know it.

It was in New York that I had my best race and it was partly thanks to Susan that I did so well. Around mile 19 she gave me an over-the-counter pain reliever so today, at mile 16, I took one too. If I can't feel the pain, I can keep up with her in Chicago.

At Rollins I said goodbye to Chris and Christy then headed on the lonely last leg of my run. I had 18 done and six to go. I managed to keep up the run a mile/walk a minute routine until I hit the wide-open spaces of Baldwin Park. Their trees are not mature enough to provide shade so I wilted and took two walk breaks each mile for the last three miles. Thanks to a stop at Seth's house at mile 20, I took on 12 needed ounces of orange Gatorade.

I finished the 24 miles in 4:26, lost five pounds, yet felt good enough to walk the dogs after I took on fluids and a pool dunk. I have a good food plan working: English muffin with jelly and peanut butter before I run and bacon-egg-cheese English muffin sandwich afterwards, plus yogurt.

Five weeks until the race and one more practice run at race distance in two weeks. Yes - a 26 mile training run. We'll see how that goes. 40 miles this week. 100 to go.

[Jeanne - yeah, I know. This is a tome but I was inspired. It was almost race recap distance.]

Post script - picked up #1 son from airport tonight. He came back from a wedding he was in in Rock City, Illinois. Turns out the bride had just raced in New Haven where she won the 20K national championship. She was a star at U. of Georgia back in the day, as was her groom. I've run New Haven - twice! Jon, Bill J. and Dianna were there this year. Nice race.


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.


Shakin' and bakin'

I solved the economy shoe concerns. I put my "try these sample" SofSole inner soles (Athletic) in the new Asics 2130 shoes and, voila, I am a happy camper with plenty of extra cushioning. My 5-miler yesterday was slow and deliberate but there was nothing going on in my shins or ankles that gained my attention.

Today I joined Finally Running Susan and hubby D for a 3-miler in the colony. Nothing hard or extraordinary about the run other than it was an official RBF meet-up run. More to the RBF, I am leaning heavily towards a race with the Running Chick with the Orange Cap in New London on Saturday morning at the Ocean Beach/Kelley 11.6 mile free run. I expect we'll run together for a quater mile before her instincts kick in and I see her waiting for me at the finish line.

The beach has been a bakefest the last several days. Perfect weather and lots of tan line development. Son C. has a tan that only the young can acquire and us old folks envy. Dark brown and deep.

The beach had some buzz this afternoon. Four lithe ladies set up next to us, one with a baby. They were sporting two-piece bathing suits with unusual tan lines. They had good tans but evidence of shorts and sports bras tan lines. Mrs. T. remarked that one gal had the most exquisite body she had ever see on a woman, with dramatically well-toned lower abdominal muscularature. Naturally that had my attention too.

One of our group, Tom, had the closest seat to the women and so when he looked distracted and detached I went over to ask him what was on his mind. He reported that he was eavesdropping on the conversation these women were having and he said he could listen to them all day. He reported they were all world-class, professional runners who were talking about Beijing, international races, contract race obligations in Germany and elsewhere, coaching conflicts, training regimens, the foolishness of vegetarian diets, etc.

We did not turn so crass as to ask for autographs but I have to admit I played the process-of-elimination exercise in the beach parking area to guess their vehicles. I plan to run tomorrow and see if I can find their cars and figure out where they're lodging. Tom said something about one of them staying at their parents' place here in the colony.


A busy week

I made it through the week without any major flare-ups and am now comfortably tucked away on the coast of Rhode Island. The weather was perfect for the beach on Saturday so that's is exactly where we went. Saw many old acquaintances including this young lady.

Before heading north I went and bought some new shoes and margarita bloks. I went economy on the shoes, buying some Asics 2130s instead of the usual high-cushion Kayanos. After two runs in them I had no issues but I am sensing some tenderness in my ankles and shins. Now that might just have something to do with the 18-miler yesterday - in the rain - on those unfamiliar to me (flat-lander) hills that jump up here and there.

The rain was probably a blessing to run in, insofar as blazing sun would be less suitable for the distance. It was a good enough run albeit quite slow; mostly around 11:30/mile pace. [I am so excited - two three-word words in one paragraph].

My mileage for the rest of the vacation is pretty strong (for me) with three 5-milers during this week and a 19-miler next Sunday and a 21-miler the following Sunday. I have a chance to run with the Running Chick (maybe) next weekend at a free 11.6 race in New London but I have not made any commitments. My brother is coming up next weekend and I haven't done enough homework on the race time. I'll do that next and post again. I have more time to do that now that it's vacation time.


Vacations: breaking down the mindset

The glow. When I get back from a relaxing vacation I usually have a sense of calm detachment from the day-to-day. I have a bigger picture of things. I latch onto sensations and visual memories of things enjoyed while on vacation. I try to hold that as long as I can. I coach myself to go back to that state after the glow wears off. I try to anticipate the glow as I prepare for the next vacation - this Friday.

I have been mentally preparing and anticipating the next glow. Obstacles do, however, get in the way. Tidying up the house and yard so it's not a total mess or jungle when we return. Navigating the land mine of last minute tasks at work that have to be done before I return. At this time, I love that I have a talented staff.

I also find I get more done in these couple of weeks before vacation. I have a to-do list that has more meaning than it usually does. The goal is to cross off all the tasks before Friday.

Then there are the benefits of planning what to pack and getting it done sooner than four hours before the flight. And making sure there's enough dog food for the canines and human provisions for the house sitter. Best to make another list.

Running. I put in a higher mileage week by getting back on schedule and adding more easy runs between hard runs. I did some 1600 repeats Tuesday, a 10K pace tempo run Friday, two easy runs on Wednesday and Saturday; and then the long grueling slog through the desert sun long run yesterday. I was so whipped I fell asleep on the couch after I cleaned up. The to-do list woke me up because I had to make room in the house for the return of NOS so it was off to the public storage facility to hide our out-of-commission stuff.

When you pay extra for a storage unit, you start to take inventory of the things that really are not worth keeping. I will do more of that after I return from vacation.