Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Workouts: Last Three Weeks of 2008

December 8 - 31, 2008 were fairly bad for my training.  I had a cold at first, then bad weather curtailed bike commuting.  I trained significantly less in those three weeks than I had been doing in one week in October and November.

Guess I can call this downtime, recovery, active rest, and family ski vacation.

Looking forward to a great 2009!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

So what if LA has a TTX......

Note the similarities between Lance Armstrong, today:

Took the TTX home from the airport. . . on TwitPic

and me in 1989....

OK, there are NO similarities....  But checkout my cool one-piece speedo kit, my sockless lake shoes, my original Scott DH bars without tape, my soft disk, my cool green Mangusta machine.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Sick Workout Week: December 1 - 7, 2008

Cough and cold all week.  Still biked to work and did a hard day on Wed, including extra cycling and running.  The cold started high in my throat, affected my voice.  Then it moved deeper into my lungs as a cough.  It was controlable with Halls Mentho-Lyptus drops.  On Friday at school it moved into my stomach.  I didn't train all weekend.  Instead I stayed in and rested.  Coughed a lot, but unproductive.  My digestive system acted strange all weekend.  Produced a lot of gas, no movement.  Then, this morning, three episodes of liquid.  Called in sick, went to doc.  Doc took some blood and urine, and it wasn't anything that needs antibiotics.  He said it is just a virus running through my body.  Hopefully it is on its last generation.  I have not missed more than one day consecutive in training since August 21st, and now I am up to three.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Lance Fanatic

My drive-to-work count still stands at only NINE since the school year started on September 2nd. This morning Ms. C, my clearly nonathletic colleague in the next classroom, said some people were talking about me yesterday, and compared me to Lance Armstrong. I said, "Yea, Lance and me: Comeback Kids." She said, no, it was more about my hair... that I was riding so fast it was blowing back my hairline... Well, yea, I am getting old. If I was still in the market for a wife, I guess I would have to get The Hair Club... I try to tell people that all of my aging has taken place from my neck on up... Did you ever see pics of me in my ponytail days?

And then today there is this, via - Lance and Levi working out on a climb at their current training camp in the Canary Islands. At least I have more hair than Levi...:

Levi and I out on the ride today in Tenerife. Started with 12... on TwitPic

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Workouts: November 24-30, 2008

Recovery week, ending with a cough & the beginnings of a cold.  Probably pushed my body too hard this week when I should have been taking it easy to recover from the Philadelphia Marathon.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Post-Philly Thoughts

Analyzing my splits, I could have possibly gained a few minutes during the final three miles, when I was crashing, by running a little slower during the first half of the race.  I am thinking of running The Boston Marathon in April.  Perhaps more long runs, and a few more than two hours, might erase the rapid decline in pace over the last three miles of the race.

Reacting to some other people's comments, I now realize the effect of the wind chill factor.  I remember talking to people before the race, after walking almost 2 miles from my parked car, and feeling that my face was cold enough to cause my speech to be slurred.  That should have given me a clue that my core temperature was below normal, especially for starting a race.  I changed into shorts just before the start of the race.  It felt warmer than the wind chill dictated at that time because I was in the shelter of the bag check area, protected from the wind by dozens of school buses formed up into sort of a corral, and surrounded by hundreds of other runners.  The result was an inability to warm up.  The top of my left hamstring had an unnatural tightness for a few miles.  My quads were sore from about mile 8 to the end of the race.  I didn't remove my had or gloves ever, even though I usually do that to moderate my body temperature at some points during most training runs that require hats and gloves.  It was cold enough to make my Powerbar gels feel almost chewy and make the water and Gatorade go down with ice-cream-headache swallows.

I told a lot of people I was going to run the first half of this race conservatively.  I just wanted to run a Boston Marathon qualifying time.  For me, that is 3:30 = 8 min/mile.  I found myself in the first corral, got sucked into a 7:10 pace, perhaps - partially, at least - in an effort to get warm.  And once you are in a pace, it is hard to step back and get out of it when you are surrounded by an endless crowd of fellow runners.  The taper always makes the first half of a marathon feel much too easy.  Although this was my 17th marathon, the third in three years after a big marathon-break of perhaps 12 years, I still was a little foolish.

But I shouldn't judge myself so harshly, since marathoning itself is both an immensely self-important and an immensely foolish activity.  Yet, for so many people, the foolhardy few hours we are out there running a marathon marks a pinnacle in time.   The marathon defines and justifies everything we have done in our daily lives to lead up to it, and sets up our plans for everything we do to recover and improve after the event.  These effects go beyond simply training for our next race - it leads us to living a more transcendent, productive, meaningful life.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Philadelphia Marathon

Ran the Philadelphia Marathon today.  At 7 AM start, it was 25 degrees F.  I decided to wear shorts.  On top, I wore a wicking long-sleeve, a Mizuno wind vest, a fleece hat & polypro gloves.  I didn't feel warmed up until about an hour into the race.  My legs remained fairly cold until after the mile 20 turnaround, that put our faces into the rising sun, plus it was a couple hours later.  This was the first marathon - or any race that I can remember - where the volunteers had to warn people as they approacehed water stations about the ice on the ground from the spilled water and Gatoraid.

I took 2-mile splits:
2 @ 14:19 = 7:10/mi
4 @ 29:51 (15:32) (4th mile was marked long)
6 @ 42:55 (13:04) (5th mile was short) = 7:24/mi
10 @ 1:12:57 (30:01) = 7:30/mi
12 @ 1:27:29 (14:32) = 7:16/mi
14 @ 1:42:20 (14:51) = 7:25/mi
16 @ 1:57:51 (15:30) = 7:45/mi
18 @ 2:13:25 (15:33) = 7:46/mi
20 @ 2:28:42 (15:17) = 7:38/mi
22 @ 2:44:12 (15:30) = 7:45/mi
24 @ 3:00:12 (15:59) = 8:oo/mi
25 @ 3:08:16 = 8:03/mi
26 @ 3:16:37 = 8:21/mi
Marathon time 3:18:22 = avg. 7:34/mi results screen capture

Training: November 17-23, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Usain Bolt Barefoot

Screen cap from of Usain Bolt during an Olympics victory lap.  Checkout his shoes....  'nuff said ~

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I Ran to Work & Philly Marathon Thoughts

I had been thinking about running to work for a long time.  I have been able to ride my bike to work since school started on September 2nd.  I have driven my car only seven times since then.  I decided to do this run to work because my last few runs have felt really great.  I feel in better cardio shape than I have in about a year and a half.  My legs are feeling unbelievably strong, as evidenced by my riding my Dawes SST single speed.  It is really great to feel the fitness from the two activities of running and cycling coming together - I remember that feeling from back when I was a fairly serious triathlete, about 1985-95.

I felt a bit of pressure to get to work fast, since I left only about 10 minutes earlier than when I ride my bike.  I figured it would take me about an hour to cover the 7 miles, thinking I might take some walk breaks.  I have done this run before, to work and back, on a weekend leading up to some long race last year, for a regular nonstop long run, so I had some experience with the timing.  I didn't take any walk breaks today.  It only took me 53:49 = 7:42/mile.  Pretty good, considering my backpack, though packed light, was annoying me.

It was a cool but sunny run.  Tech long sleeve, last year's NYC Marathon shirt, polypro gloves and tight sweatpants did it just fine.  Ms. Click beeped at me and Mr. Dobson yelled "Go Mr. G!" from the window of his car when he passed me.  I gave him a double fist pump, even though I didn't know it was him until I saw him inside later on.  A couple of other teachers saw me and asked how my ride was.  I told them I ran in today.  Of course they said I am crazy.  Maybe I am, in a good crazy way.  I didn't tell my family I was running in today, because I didn't want them to think I was getting nuttier about this commute-as-workout thing.  But if I do qualify for Boston, I will be doing it more often December-March.  That might be the best way to deal with inclement weather this winter - on days when biking would be dangerous or really too cold.  Plus, it will be a great offset to all the days of running I miss due to skiing.

One of the main reasons I ran to work today is because I  needed to get in a long day today, since it is getting close to the Philly Marathon, and I certainly don't have enough long runs behind me.  I figured two seven mile runs in one day will be a good long day.  It isn't exactly a 20 miler, but it is something.  I have no 20 milers at all leading up to this marathon.  The last time I ran anything close to that was 30K for the Escarpment Trail Run in the end of July, during the days of the broken toe.  I have a bunch of long-ish days, but usually spread over two workouts.  I feel fitter than I have for the last two years going into the NYC marathon, because of cross-training on the bike.  Hopfully a taper next week will be enough to run at least a Boston qualifier.  In 1983 I ran 2:41 at the Philly Marathon.  I am fairly sure the course was different than it is today.  So 25 years later I am hoping to run a 3:30 or better.  That averages to exactly 8 minutes per mile.  Using the MacMillan race predictor calculator with my 1:32 Newport-Liberty Waterfront Half-Marathon time, it predicts a 3:14.  That is a good sign.  I am in a lot better shape today than I was for that race.  Using my most recent race, 32:29 at the USATF-NJ 8K XC, it predicts 3:12!  That was XC & barefoot - but don't get too excited, because it was a shorter race.  Predictions must be more accurate when the predictor-race distance approaches the actual race distance.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Losing The Shoes (off the roof of the car)

I ran with my son's cross-country team this morning. It is the last practice on a week off from school for them, before Saturday's state sectional meet. With no more dual meets, only varsity is working out now, and only one girl. Our high school team is not exactly a cross-country power, but I am glad my freshman son is running usually 6th man on varsity, and that there are no seniors on the team. The coach seems to know what he is doing for training them, though they generally lack strong "Eye of The Tiger" motivation right now. Definitely a building year.

We started with laps on the track, sprinting the front 100m straightaway on each lap. They wanted to just start with that cold, but I convinced them to run the entire first lap before hitting the first sprint. I couldn't keep up on the sprint, even with the one girl that showed up for practice. It took me about a mile to warm up, is why. Youth...

After a couple miles on the track, we moved to the football field for the rest of the workout. I took my Saucony Killkenny XC flats off, but couldn't get any of the kids to take theirs off. They should have, since it was a damp day and the field was wet. At this point, I had no problem sprinting with them, as they tired and my 35 years of endurance kicked in.

After the workout I put my shoes on the roof of the car for a minute, so I could clear my back seat to give a couple of the kids a ride home in my little Ford Focus. When we got home, I realized I left the shoes on my roof! So I retraced my drive. I found the shoes on the edge of Greenbrook Road where it curves near West End Avenue. Those shoes rode my roof for at least a mile, taking a few accelerations and turns before ditching!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Self-Definitive Comment Posted

I posted this comment after reading this at

I am a lifelong running-boom runner, starting at age 14 in 1977. Back then we ran in Tiger racing flats all the time. Over the last 35 years, the running shoe industry has flourished, inflating soles and prices to where a top technical shoe costs over $100!  

For the past 4 years, I have been running 20-50% of my 30-50 miles per week barefoot. It has changed me from a heel striker to midfoot striker, raised a flat arch to a normal arch, negated chronic ankle twisting, allows me to run fast with less intervals, and just feels better than running with shoes. When I do wear shoes, they are minimal cross-country flats. I also go about my daily life as barefoot as possible to support my foot strength for running. It goes against everything the shoe companies ever told us over the last 35 years.  

The research has suggested and will continue to conclude that shoes are overrated and over built, often causing more injuries than they are meant to correct. Perhaps this is a self-induced market reset, just like what is happening on Wall Street.  

Run fast and light and as barefoot as you can!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Training: October 6 - 12, 2008

I also pasted my month of training so far at, where I am a regular forum poster.  The thread is "The 08-09 Workout Thread".  Another regular poster responded, "you are a maniac."  I wish I was - more long runs are needed, as well as some strength workouts.  I responded:
Thank you, GSS! 

Everything is relative. Multiple daily workouts can become a grind and a distraction to productivity in other areas of one's life. I try and fit them in, commuting by bike, running during my kids soccer practice, for example. I have been an endurance machine for 35 years (16 marathons, countless shorter running & multisport races). It is almost discouraging when you realize you have to put in at least a moderate workout everyday just to maintain the fitness level you are at, while aging conspires to pull you down. AZers looking forward to ski season might take motivation from realizing the more "out of shape" a person is, the easier it is for them to make visible gains.

My training lacks strength workouts right now. I usually cut them in after running a fall marathon, and continue through the ski season.

I really believe that for recreational skiers, endurance trumps strength any day. Because here is what I see: Typically, when out west, I am at the bottom of mogul runs waiting for people who have to stop every 100 yards to catch their breath. In the east, at the end of the day, I am the one taking the last chair when my friends and family have legs that are toasted by 3:30.

Monday, October 06, 2008

10 Miles or so

Ran 10.6 this afernoon to try and make up for not running yesterday.  I need to make my runs longer than 5 miles.  Not enough longer runs for the Philly Marathon, as I have stated before.  I ran a loop to Middlesex and back.  I wore training shoes.  The second half of this run is mostly on sidewalk.  That feels much too hard.  The next time I run it I need to run is in reverse.

As I was running past a driveway to a local laundrymat, I was almost struk by a guy pulling out.  I had seen he never looked to his right, the direction I was coming from, so I had already given him some extra space.  He was on the cell phone.

The Most Comfortable Shoes Ever

I picked up a pair of Sanuk shoes for half price at a ski store a couple weeks ago.  I am wearing them all day for the first time.  They are no doubt, the most comfortable shoes ever created.  They are so comfortable, they really promote a happier attitude when walking around doing your daily business.  If everyone on Wall Street was wearing them, they would make the Dow soar!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Workouts: September 29 - October 5, 2008

I am kinda disappointed in my running mileage this week.  I need to do more long runs in preparation for the Philadelphia Marathon.  I have not done anything remotely "long" since last Sunday's half marathon.  It took me until about Thursday to feel recovered from that effort.  I needed to do a long run on the weekend.   Waited too long, as usual, thinking I could do it after the race I volunteered at on Sunday - but the post-race visit to The Grove dimished my motivation to do that.  Hopefully I can get two long runs in during this week.  That is my goal - along with increasing sleep.  So here are the workouts -

By the way, I have been creating these workout summaries by taking screen captures of the Zelky Workout Tracker application on Facebook.  I wish there was a way to load them right into blogs via a web widget.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Training is Cheap, & The Last Miles of Newport-Liberty Half Marathon

I have been riding my bike a lot, and I should do a duathlon or triathlon, but every time I look for one to put on my calendar, I say to myself, I can go out and run and bike farther by myself on that day, have a great time, and save myself a couple hundred bucks! I would have much rather gone running in the woods today than in Jersey City. A couple of weeks ago in Watchung Reservation I ran about 1/4 mile behind a fox.

Speaking of which, in today's Newport-Liberty Half Marathon, I finished the race with Laura S., who caught me with a 1.5 miles to go. What a racing animal - I had no clue she was so focused and she was catching me. I must have been slowing down and she probably ran negative splits. She said, "We are going to catch that guy in yellow!" OK, motivation for me besides thinking I had to run fast so the RVRR women wouldn't beat this old guy. The guy in yellow was about 50 yards ahead of us, with some others between us and him. Well, in the next mile we reeled in the others, but not the guy in yellow. With a bit less than a half mile left, I went harder to catch the guy in yellow, and I also wanted to make Laura run faster. I caught the yellow guy, and have a story to tell too. Races are cool like that sometimes. I ran 1:32:01 - about seven minutes slower than I ran just three years ago, but about seven faster than last year. Races are cool like that sometimes, too. I have learned in my old age not to take them as seriously as I used to. I like to think that any day I am out there running, I am one of the luckiest guys in the world.

Training: September 22-28, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


My son was 4th man in his first high school cross-country meet.  Not too bad for a freshman, but his high school isn't exactly an XC power.  It was a double dual meet, and they lost against both teams.  He ran 22-something.  Better than he was running this summer at the summer series XC races.  There his best time was 24:57.  I ran about the course barefoot, taking photos of the team.  Any similarities in the photos below?

My Son, September 17, 2008

Me, H.S. Senior, Fall of 1976

Monday, September 15, 2008

Yea, we are spoiled...

Ran into this blogger who reported on a marathon in The Congo:

...if you can see the photo, those girls are running barefoot and in socks. I'd say at least half the runners did not have footwear. Some were wearing sandals and very precious few had good running shoes.

Yes, shoes are overrated.

Training: September 8-14, 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ten Miles at Watchung Reservation

There was record heat today.  I am in need of logging some long runs in prep for the Newport-Liberty Half-Marathon in two weeks and for the Philly Marathon in two months.  So I wanted to run for a couple hours today.  I cut it short because of the practically record heat.  It reached 92 degrees F in some parts of NJ today.  I smartly didn't begin running today until about 3 PM, at the height of the heat.  At Watchung Reservation the rocks were literally sweating.  They were cool from the days before, so they collected condensation.  I sweatted a lot more than the rocks, however.  I carried water and electrolyte replacement.  And I had to walk a couple of times.  I usually encounter dozens of other people walking on the trails.  Today I encountered a total of eight, if you count the baby in one guy's backpack.  I guess it was too hot for people to even walk today.  I admit, it wasn't exactly too hot, relatively, had it been summer in NJ.  But for me to have to turn on my AC at home on September 15 definitely qualifies today as an anomyly.

Hershey Park

Hershey Park, PA, has a posted and written policy on "Attire" .  It states, "For your safety and health, all Park visitors are required to wear shoes and shirts at all times."

The guy who checked my backpack at the gate didn't say anything about me being shoeless.  Maybe because he saw my flip-flops in my backpack.  The grounds of Hershey Park, as well as all the rides, are flawless - perfect for feet.  I enjoyed most of the day without hassle, with three exceptions. Also note, there are several rides that actually encourage you to remove your shoes if they do not cover the heel because they would fly off.  Here are the exceptions; two occured on rides that had signs online that stated the shoe/shirt policy for the ride.  On one ride, The 
Superduperlooper , the seatbelt checker said, "The next time you ride this ride you have to wear shoes."  I didn't actually record that as a demand to put on shoes.  On another ride, TheSidewinder, the checker asked if I had shoes, I said they were in my bag, and he asked me to put them on.  No prob, I did - but it is amazing how the presence of those thin rubber soles on the bottom of my feet makes a difference to riding the ride.  Finally, at the end of the evening, no trip to Hershey is complete without a visit to Chocolate World .  As I walked into the building, a security guy said that shoes had to be worn inside this building.  He was nice, retired type, reminded me of my dad.  I put them on, to the embarrassment of my kids.  Hey, it takes me about 10 seconds to get them out, drop them onto the floor and put them on.  Now, about exactly a year ago I was at Hershey Park barefoot, and was not hassled once, not even in Chocolate World.  I wonder what happened between then and now in regards to people going barefoot.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hot, Humid & Long!

From the National Weather Service:




Ah - great day to ride 50 miles in 3 hours! Here is the route I took.

I needed this long ride to compensate for not doing any long workouts to prepare for the Escarpment Trail Run since July 6 due to the breaking of the toe. I took one electrolyte cap and one PowerBar gel after hour 1 and 2 of the ride. One stop just after 2 hours for water. The ride didn't feel too difficult. This after one hour on the indoor trainer last night. Good!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Boilermaker 15K

A road trip to the Boilermaker 15K this past weekend with eight other RVRR people was a peak running experience for me this year. The drive is about 4.5 hours to Utica, New York. At check-in on Saturday, there is an expo in a campus setting. At the expo, there is a "Runner's Forum" where running experts and luminaries answer your questions. The panel included Frank Shorter, Bill Rodgers and Katherine Switzer. At the conclusion of the forum, I approached Frank Shorter and asked him to sign a copy of a 1972 Life magazine with his gold medal Olympic finishing photo on the cover.

After the forum, the induction ceremony for the National Distance Running Hall of Fame took place. This event is very inspiring for any distance runner and should not be missed, despite the lure of touring the F.X. Matt brewery. RVRR's own Amby Burfoot was inducted, along with Priscella Welch and Johnny Hayes. Hayes's induction was posthumous, of course, and was presented by Frank Shorter. Hayes was USA's first Olympic marathon gold medalist in 1908, and Shorter did a great talk about uniting both his and Hayes's gold medals for the first time. Priscella Welsh broke new ground for women and masters runners in her career, proving the abilities we can maintain at world-class level through our masters years. Amby sang praises for the community of every runner we are all a part of, as he always has in his life and writing. After this ceremony, I asked Frank Shorter to sign a copy of one of his books, Olympic Gold. He told me a story about how the massacre at the '72 Olympics psyched out so many athletes and destroyed their potential performances. Mike A. spent some time speaking with Bill Rodgers, who was glad to advise him on race strategy for Boilermaker's course. One of the great things about speaking with these running superstars is the sense that they are immediately your friend, not full of themselves, and would go out on a run with you then follow it up with a beer.

On Sunday, the experience of the race can be compared with a big city marathon, with less pain a better party at the end. There are eleven thousand runners and the entire 15 kilometers lined with enthusiastic spectators - there is a competition for the best cheering community, voted on by the runners after finishing. There are two bands and three water stops per mile. There are dancing girls, llamas and sheep, ice cubes and ice pops, and lots of signs telling you how much farther to the beer.

The beer is at the finish line that pours you into the huge parking lot of the F.X. Matt Brewing Company. It was a little after 9 A.M. and thousands of people were drinking the free Saranac beer, dancing to Nick and The Nice Guys, and having the biggest runner party in the world. I was sloshed and sober again by noon, when the whole thing shuts down. On the drive home, we waved to other Boilermaker runners at every Thruway service area, when we stopped to leave some recycled beer behind.

Running this race with a broken toe manipulated my experience of the race. I have run this race three times before. I was forced to run slower this time because of the pain in my foot from the broken toe. This made me enjoy the spectators a lot more, and allowed me to really see the course a lot better, because I wasn't concentrating on trying to run a fast time. I ran spot-on seven minute miles, even though I was in shape enough to run about 6:30 miles. I suppose I shouldn't complain about that, considering that I could run it at all after breaking a toe five days before the race. Yes, I am stupid because this is causing me to change my stride and possibly get me injured some other way, and I am not helping the healing process.... But I only own one life - so on on, I say!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Awesome LSD Weekend

I used this weekend visiting down the shore to make up for many missed workouts from the first week of working at camp, in order to prepare for the Escarpment Trail Run.

On July 4, Friday, I ran for two hours from Ventnor, through Atlantic City, on road, boardwalk & beach. It was about 15 miles and felt fairly easy.

On Saturday morning I rode the Trek 43.5 miles @ 2:26, Ventnor to Sea Isle City & back. On Saturday afternoon I ran an easy 7.5 miles @ 1:02.

On Sunday I ran another 2 hour run, about 14.3 miles, Ventnor & AC boardwalks and beach.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I'm Lucky

Today I was able to ride mountain bikes with my 10-year-old daughter on some local flat roads and doubletracks for about 5 miles. Then I was able to crank out 15 miles alone on my Trek. After dinner I was able to run 3.7 miles with my 14-year-old son. What more could a 49-year-old guy ask for?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Mischief Managed

The Most Annoying Thing In The World did not stop. I went for a short ride yesterday and there it was ticking and creaking away loud and clear. I stayed calm, the ride was short and did not throw the bike through any windshields since I encountered no crazy cut-off drivers. SO WHAT THE HELL IS IT~!

Breathe ... Breathe....

I got home and figured maybe it was the headset or the stem, even though I greased the stem thoroughly before the build of this bike . So I proceeded to disassemble and remove the stem from the frame. I cleaned the old grease. I shot WD-40 down into the steerer and into the stem bolts and tightener. I greased the stem and replaced it. Then I flipped the bike and dripped lube into the headset. I took it for a 10 PM sprint up and down my street and it seemed FINE!

AND - I rode it to work today and it was blissfully SILENT! Huzzah!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sneaking Out to Run Barefoot & More Workplace Fitness Bigotry

It's was a half day today for the students during exam days here at the secondary institution that supplies me with my career and lifestyle. They got out at 1:30. We have to stay until 3:45 on these half days. I have almost everything done for the year. So I brought my running clothes and felt like I was doing something illegal as I sneaked out the back door and ran laps around the fields out back. I started in shoes, but the grass was in surprisingly good condition. After the first 1.5 mile lap, I had no choice but to scrap the shoes and run the rest of the time barefoot. On one of the laps there was a group of gossipy teachers checking out somebody's new car in the parking lot right next to the edge of the field I was lapping. I tried really hard not to look at them, thinking that if I didn't look at them they would perhaps not recognize me. But they did. Crap - now I have to put up with more workplace fitness bigotry. The fattest gossipy woman yelled to me, "I hope you step on a bee!" Why would anyone yell that? (By the way, I have stepped on a bee while running barefoot and it wasn't that bad.) I am hoping she was just busting my chops in a friendly way. Yet, many a truth is said in jest and all that. So, shoot, who knows....

And this makes me think a bit about my plan for my 50th year. My plan is to complete an Ironman, a 50K and a 50 mile run. I have this crazy mid-life crisis redirect of trying to inspire people to say to themselves, "Jeeze, if he can do this at 50, so can I." It is going to require more visible bike commutes and runs out the back door during the next academic year. So will my intended effect be thwarted? I wonder how many of my coworkers are going to secretly hate me for it?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

President's Cup

The President's Cup Night Race, Monday night, was my first race since November 2007's New York City Marathon. Seven months, during which I have skied and biked a lot, but have not run relatively as much as my usual yearly cycle. With almost all Achilles and heel pain gone, I went into this 5K with no expectations beyond finishing with a time I can work with for planning workout paces around.

The President's Cup is a wonderful experience. It is on one of the longest days of the year every June. It starts at 8 PM and finishes to free Sam Adams, a DJ and a runner party. I know a hundred people at this race; people I have raced and ran with for the past 34 years. This year my "non-racing" fit friends that live in Millburn ran the race. That was great to see, because I felt I exposed them to this race as spectators. In years past, they could not believe that the highly placed socio-economic profile town of Millburn would host such an openly public alcohol-fueled party.

After a brief thunderstorm I ran a 20 minute warm up. I needed a long warm up because all I have in my running bank is distance running. I have done no race-paced running in way over seven months. The race is a two-lap course around the business district of Millburn. I ran the course's lap in the opposite direction that it is raced and proceeded to say hello to about 90 of the 100 runners I personally know and talk to and run against and with that attend this race. It was a mental and spiritual warm-up as well as a physical one because it just felt great to see all these people and be out at a race again.

I started farther back than I usually do to force myself to go out easy. There was a good crowd, so the tactic worked. I still ran my first mile in 6:06 and felt pretty good. This surprised me, because the last time I ran a mile that fast may have been July of 2007! The middle mile felt fine, and the final mile was a bit of work. My finishing chip time was 19:10, which averages to 6:11/mile. Not bad on about 25 miles of running per week.

More to come....

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Most Annoying Thing in The World

...or close to it...
I was riding my Trek on Saturday, and my handlebar started to creak. It creaked when I put weight on the brake hoods. I could hear it go tick tick, and I could feel it too. So I stopped and tightened the bolt that holds the bars. The creaking didn't go away. So I stopped and tightened the stem bolt and the brake levers, thinking it might be those things. I even tightened my seatpost's saddle mount bolt in case I was totally missing the source of the tick tick creaking. And it continued, even got worse as the ride continued.

When I got home I thought about greasing where the bars go through the stem. But I wasn't sure I should do that, because I had never had to do that before, and this creaking showed up out of nowhere in this Trek's second hundred miles since I built it. The Internet would surely tell me what I should do! So I Googled creaky handlebars. Results summary: lightly grease the bar/stem contact point, and another possibility was a cracking handlebar. The TTT Forgi bar on the bike is almost new, so I hoped it isn't cracking - I am far from a beefy sprinter and I have not used the bike in the mountains yet, so I have not yanked very hard on these bars. They did have a previous owner, however - but before I wrapped them, they appeared to be new.

Not wanting them to suddenly rotate in the stem, I lightly greased my handlebar at their midpoint, slid them back into the stem and tightened down hard. It seemed to make a difference while in the garage. I went for a ride on Sunday and at first all was cool - no creaking. But as the ride progressed it came back and proceeded to get worse and worse for 50 miles! What a great ride - my longest this year - but the annoying creaking tick tick tick over bums and while just relaxing on the brake hoods! AH!

At home again - disassembly at the stem again. I sprayed in a ton of WD-40 and heavily applied the grease. The creak is gone in the garage again. I have not ridden the bike yet, and probably won't until Thursday.... On Thursday night while watching the news, if you hear about a cyclist who suffers an attack of road-rage, perhaps tossing his bike through a car's windshield after the car passed him too closely only to cut him off while turning right, it might be me if that creak comes back!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Yours Truly Are Stupid

Either I are stupid or chalk this one up to it being Friday The Thirteenth. Be glad I did not take the sole photos I was tempted to take, because they would have looked gruesome.

I ran barefoot today. I have not been running barefoot that much this 2008, so far. Reasons have been posted in previous posts. But, I have to admit, that pulling back on the number of miles I run barefoot - and indeed the number of miles I run in general - has fostered the healing of my heels and Achilles tendons. At the same time, I am feeling very fit, at least aerobically. The speed at which I will be able to race is still in question, however, since I totally lack anything like tempo runs or intervals.

So I are stupid because, on this hot Friday The Thirteenth, after wearing shoes all day, I came home and took them off. Then I set out for a barefoot run. Half a mile on the street to Greenbrook Park's grass. Well, after only 50 yards or so it felt like I had something embedded in the bottom of my forefoot, behind my right little toe. I noticed the pavement was hot, but it didn't seem too hot. I continued my run. The pain worsened. I looked for something in my foot, briefly, and saw nothing. I got to the park and the pain continued, even on the grass. Something must be up, I was thinking. I checked the bottom of my foot again and saw nothing of note. So I did the right thing and turned around and ran home. Arriving home, I inspected the bottom of my right foot more closely and found three blood-blisters. The most bloody was the one on my forefoot behind my little toe. The second was on my forefoot behind my big toe. The third was on my big toe itself. Then I discovered a fourth on my left forefoot. Unbelievable. I can't remember ever having blisters from a short run like this, which was about 1.5 miles.

For the rest of the evening, I was limping around, because the blisters really hurt. The three points on my left foot, for example, seem to be the major weight-bearing points when I step. I suspect that my right foot does more work when I run, because the forefoot of my right running shoes now wear out before the left. (When I ride my bike hard, I am pretty sure my right leg works harder also because I can feel the stress at my right knee. That is when I try to relax my right leg and concentrate on using my left leg more.)

The stupidity factor in getting these blisters is evident in retrospect when I failed to consider my relatively low barefoot mileage this spring, the pavement temperature, the softness of my feet after being in shoes all day, and the fact that I am running the President's Cup 5K - my first race since the NYC Marathon last November - on Monday night.

Lucky for me, I am not shooting for any kind of specific goal at President's Cup beyond finishing with a time that I can work with for planning future workouts. And there is the Sam Adams and party atmosphere that follows, of course.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

This is Why You're Fat

I had a great wind-assisted ride on my Trek to work this morning. Three minutes faster than yesterday, 20 degrees cooler than the past two days. Ran into another teacher that is shaped like a pear with legs. I think he is my age but looks ten years older. Can't wear his belt parallel to the ground, a little out of breath as he walked down the hall, and probably has a BMI close to 30. Poor guy. Anyway, he says sarcastically to me, "Must be nice to have an easy job that gives you time to ride your bike to work..."

I ignored him.

But recently I have noticed that fitness bigotry goes a little deeper than that around my workplace. However, it is usually more good natured, stated by thinner, happier people. It's borne of a slight bit of respect, but coupled with some self-conscious, embarrassing envy. For example, when I told some people that on this NJ heat-wave weekend I ran only 27 miles on Saturday (I was aiming for 34) and cycled 40 on Sunday for recovery, at least three people in different places said exactly the same line: "What is wrong with you?"

Well, the point is, there isn't anything wrong with me. There is actually a lot right with me to be able to do those things. I tried to point that out to the people, who just shook their heads and looked at me funny. They all, in their own way, warned me about things like exertion in the heat, drinking enough fluids, bla bla. Like, yea - I am a grown man and have been managing my body under uncomfortable high heart-rate situation for about 34 years. So I think I know how to handle it, thank you.

So, people - and this even goes for my own wife and kids, and neighbors who have watched me roll and run out of my house for the past 15 years - can you please give me some props about what I am able to do? Can you please look at me and say, geeze, if he can do that much under these conditions, can't I do just a little bit? Show a little awe. Give me some respect. Don't just gawk, call me crazy, and be overly concerned about protecting your own ego.

Thank you - I will now stow my soapbox.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Towpath "Train"ing Run

The goal today was to run my first ultra-marathon: 34 miles from Trenton to New Brunswick on the Delaware-Raritan Canal towpath. The Towpath "Train"ing Run is an annual event that the Raritan Valley Road Runners puts on. There are designated paces - 7:30, 8:30, 9:30 & 10:30. Runners can start at many "stations" along the towpath. The idea is to have everyone finish together - a large "train" that builds as the event goes on. It is non-competitive. Awards are given to runners that finish the entire length, and records are kept year-to-year so people receive awards at 100 mile increments. Everyone's mileage for the day is tallied and an equal dollar amount is donated to the Cancer Institute of NJ.Many people would think that the reason I did not accomplish my goal today would have been the extremely hot and humid weather. The temperature varied from about 70 degrees at the 6 AM start to 85 degrees at the 11 AM finish. But I never felt dehydrated. I used electrolyte capsules for the first time since 9th grade football practice. I carried a bottle and the supported run supplied plenty of water and Gatoraid.

I also did not bonk. I loaded with pasta last night. I had a decent Cheerios & banana breakfast at 4:15 AM. I consumed a Powerbar double mocha gel every hour. I drank Gatoraid.

But I stopped at 24.9 miles. I stopped because my thighs hurt a lot. I didn't want to do too much damage to my legs with so many other races coming up in the next few weeks. I didn't want to undo the progress I made this spring with healing my Achilles tendon problems. And I knew I was lacking in long runs with only one 2 hour and one 3 hour day this year under my belt.

I got back on the train after hitching a ride with Ed with 2.3 miles to go, from DeMott Lane to the end. That part really hurt. My total for the day was 27.2 miles. So it was sort-of an ultra, since I did run one mile beyond a marathon. I kinda wish I was running an official marathon, because my time would not have been so bad. At 24.9 miles I was at 3:37 = 8:43/mile. The run felt easier than really racing a marathon. If I had to race a marathon I think I could have easily ran about 3:37 or faster. One thing this event does for me every year is show me I am in much better endurance shape than I believe I am in at this point in my yearly training cycle. Though I didn't complete 34 miles, it is fairly amazing to me that I could relatively easily run 27 on sub-30 mile weeks and a lot of cycling.

I think the thigh pain that contributed to my decision to stop was because none of my long runs were at 8:30 pace, which is what we were required to maintain. I knew my long runs were slower than 8:30, but I figured since they were at Watchung Reservation, they were hilly and the trails were rougher, and that would compensate for a slower pace. Plus I couldn't run those long runs any faster because they were so close to the event - two and one week away, respectively. An important outcome of the "Train"ing run is to inform me that if I want to run a fast Escarpment Trail Run in the end of July, I will have to do some faster long runs.

After the run there was a great picnic. Socializing, eating burgers and drinking 5 or 6 beers made my thighs feel much better ~! All the photos are here.

Group that started at 6 AM in Trenton. L to R standing: Ken M, Me, Steve W *, Pete P, Laura S, Bob J, Lauren M*, Jen D, Dennis M, Lesley W, Zsuzsana C*; stooping: Jorge R.
(*Completed 34 miles!)
Thanks to Sonya S for the photos!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Three Hours Running

I ran for three hours today. I needed to get a 3 hour run in to give me confidence that I could run for five hours next Saturday at the Towpath "Train"ing Run. It was split up in two sessions, however. This was a necessity because of my son's soccer schedule. So I set my countdown timer at three hours and began to hack away at the time remaining. Starting about 11 AM at his game - before the game started and whenever he was subbed out - I got in an hour of running time, barefoot, on grass. So that part of the two sessions was broken up a little also, but it was fairly fast. I probably averaged under 8 minute miles. This run went for about 20 minutes, then some game watching & rain delay, then another 20 minutes, then some game watching, then a final 20. More or less.

The second session started at about 4:00 PM. I went up to Watchung Reservation. I did the Wilderness Trail loop plus an extra muddy loop, mostly of unmarked trails. I ran this slower and carried a water bottle. It warmed up after the thunderstorms today, so it was fairly humid. I have to say this run felt easy and probably averaged about 8:45 pace. It was beautiful: saw a hawk, hundreds of chipmunks, some deep red cardinals and blue bluebirds, and chased a fox who ran in front of me near Watchung Stables.

I am feeling like I can run 5 hours, especially with all the support the "Train"ing Run offers. However, 34 miles is a lot farther than a marathon, so I will have no qualms about dropping out if I feel like I am injuring myself. I have fought too long against these Achilles tendon and PF problems to put myself into the position of needing another long recovery.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Real Bike To Work Day

After I posted the previous entry, I found out that the real Bike To Work day is today, May 16. The graphic came from one city that decided to do it on Thursday instead. Well, not like it is a national holiday or anything. But it should be!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bike to Work Day

I rode my bike to work today. I think it is the 16th bike commute I did this year. I had the fastest ride to work today at 25:30 for 7.21 miles, despite one foot-down stop for traffic. Zoom-zoom!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

~ made my day ~

My 8th grader son has played soccer for about 5 years. My wife reported to me yesterday, that in a discussion with him about 9th grade plans, he said he did not want to go out for the high school soccer team next year, because he is going to run cross-country.

~!~ glow ~!~

I never said anything to make that happen. Now, that's cool. It's nice when life just goes right without your input.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

How's Your Running Going

Paul F asked me how my running was going via email - this is what I wrote:

Hopefully, I will be returning to racing soon. I have had some Achilles problems and heel pain since the President's Cup 5K last June - but continued to damage them by continuing racing through the NYC marathon last year. After the marathon, I ran only about 1 - 2 times per week through February to get the problems to heal. I skied 30 days over the winter. I have increased mileage through March - and I have been wearing training shoes - and have been massively cross training on my bike and have been stretching my calves several times per day. I need to keep my running mileage around only 30 per week. Though I am close to 100% pain free, I still have pain the day or two after running anything faster than 8 minute miles. My return race will probably be President's Cup, a year after the point I really killed my Achilles, which I will run conservatively. Since I have been on my bike so much, I might do a short duathlon for fun in a couple of weeks. I am entered in other events already: Boilermaker 15K, River to Sea Relay. I plan to run the entire Towpath "Train"ing Run (34 miles) and the Escarpment Trail Run. I have no problem going long and slow. It is the faster running that hurts me. Post age-45 has been hell. I am turning 49 in June - so I am training to be 50. My goal in my 50th year is to run a 50-mile trail race and complete an Ironman tri....

Otherwise life is busy as hell with the family, all the sports activities of my kids and I, work and all. You know how it goes. No time to get in as much cycling mileage as I would actually like to.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Cycling to Work

Today was the 12th day I cycled to work this year.

My route has a lot of traffic. If I was not an experienced rider, I would probably take a lot longer to ride it. But I aggressively put myself out there, point my arms around a lot, sneak through traffic, use sidewalks and parking lots, go through red lights. It is crazy, but I get to work in only 6-9 minutes longer than it takes me to drive. It is ab out 7.5 miles. Hardly worth getting sweaty. I usually take a longer route home just to get in a decent workout.

Today there was about a half-mile of road on Washington Avenue that was ground in preparation for re-paving. Riding that rough stuff was a pain, and I was going faster than the cars that were backed up throughout the section.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Washington Crossing Park

I have a confession to make: I have not done any barefoot running since October 18, 2007. Today was my first barefoot run in 6 months. It felt soooooooo good~! It was at Washington Crossing Park's cross country course. I was there for my son's soccer game. Since the park was the site of my most successful barefoot race, I could not resist. It was time.

As I have discussed in my posts since last year, I needed to recover from Achilles tendon problems. I also needed to do some important races: RVRR XC races and The Escarpment Trail Run in July '07, and the New York City Marathon in November '07.

Quick summary (again): I did major damage to my Achilles tendons in June of '07, running in the President's Cup 5K barefoot. I did not do the damage because I was barefoot - it was because I ran race-pace barefoot, and I had not trained for that. I continued to train and race after doing the damage. I did conventional icing and Ibuprofen. You can read my training errors in this post.

So as I have tried to prepare for some races this year, I have used these things called training shoes. So far, 192 miles of running have been in training shoes, about 50 miles in racing or XC shoes, and finally 5.5 miles barefoot.

Almost 4 months into 2008, this does not sound like much mileage. In my olden days of running, 250 miles would be the result of one month of running, not four. But the important thing is I have been experiencing accelerated healing of my Achilles because I got back on my bikes. I don't know exactly why I decided to hit the bikes again. I know I was gaining weight through the winter. I watched it happen. I knew I could not amp up my running mileage, because my Achilles and heel would be hurting too much.

For some unknown reason I stopped shopping for skis on eBay, and I started shopping for bikes. Irrational, yes. I had a bunch of bikes hanging in my garage. But after shopping and lurking for a while I bid on a nice "vintage" Cannondale, but was below reserve. Emails after the auction closed the deal. It is a beautiful bike.

I got it just before my spring break. I knew I would have daylight time during my spring break to get some rides in. So that is when it started. I rode the Cannondale and my other bikes 131 miles March 25-30. That was the week that marked the end of skiing season, with a two day "guy" trip to Belleayre and Gore, skiing with Andy.

I have continued riding the bikes, tinkering with them, spending some money on them, and have successfully integrated decent running mileage. And I am convinced that the increased circulation to my Achilles and heels has brought about healing of all the tissues of the area. April weeks have been 40, 78, 66 & 91 miles of cycling, and 22, 18, 29 & 30 miles of running. I have commuted to work 10X on bikes and have lost some weight.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Deer Path Park

I can still run.

I ran at Deer Path Park yesterday. I ran about 7.5 miles on the cross-country course. I forgot how great that course is. It was a lot of fun. I wore my Nike cross-country spikes.

I was at the park because my son had a soccer game there. I am glad I got the run in, because the soccer game was horrible. My son is running his second year of middle school track. Yesterday's game may have been the soccer game that turns my son into a full-time runner. I am hoping it is. I used to get a lot of my distance runners during track season from the soccer team back in the early 1980's when I coached track.

I had one perspective on the game, and I am not a trained coach or referee. I just have not been watching soccer long enough in my lifetime to be an authority on this. But I will tell you my perspective. I couldn't swear it was right. When watching a game, everyone sees things differently.

First half: the game was rough. I don't feel referees had it under control from about 10 minutes into the game. The other team was very aggressive, especially towards the Cobras' offense. You know how these things can escalate. As a result, our players got aggressive. There was pushing and shoving, a lot of speedy plays where players banged into each other. That is soccer. Some yellow cards were handed out, at least once to the wrong player in the scuffle - for example when Ross got the yellow because he responded to the other team's player blatantly pushing him. They both probably should have gotten cards. But I am not a referee. It is the referee who decided to hand out only one yellow card.

Second half: Allegedly, the sideline refs were missing calls on both sides. The one on the spectator side was missing offside calls. The one on the team side was miscalling outs and not judging fouls in the goal box. I could not swear to these allegations in court, but that is what Coach Mark and other spectators claim. There was one instance when a player waited for the ref to turn and then pushed one of the players on my son's team. A lot of people were yelling at the ref: Coach Mark, spectators, players - the players were having words with each other on the field and with the spectators.

End of game: I am not sure exactly what precipitated Mitchell to fight with the other player. I have always known Mitch is a bit of a rough player himself, and hotheaded. He was first to run over and strike another player. Players came off the bench and joined, parents came out and joined. It was the worst example of a soccer game I have ever witnessed. The parents who stepped in, both coaches and all the refs should be ashamed of themselves. I can not believe that both coaches were unable to control their players, and that three referees did not get a handle on this game a lot earlier, before a fight broke out.

It was Mitch's decision to fight that really ruined the game and caused a big pile-on in the field. For that reason, in my opinion, Mitch should not be allowed to ever participate in any part of our soccer club from now on. His action was the decisive point that ruined the game for everyone. (I don't think he has ever had a parent at a game or practice, by the way.) Yet, Mitch is not 100% at fault. Both coaches, the refs, and every parent who ran out on the field should be somewhat accountable. I am not sure those parents and coaches realize there was not one college scout at that game, and in perspective, the win or loss means nothing.

When people were leaving, the player from the other team ran over and attacked Mitch again, unprovoked by the my son's team. (Was he encouraged by support from his team mates, coach and parents? Who knows.) That was a mistake, because he got taken down by several kids on the team. Again, I can not believe coaches and parents could not control their kids. It was a disgusting scene that I wanted no part of.

My son did not even play in the game. Which is weird, he usually starts and plays at least half or 3/4 of the game. It was as if Coach Mark was hypnotized by the game, despite being reminded to make substitutions. Perhaps he was determined to leave who he felt were his best, most aggressive players in, to oppose this team - I am just guessing. My son was the only player from either team that did not leave the sideline and join the on-field pile-up fight.

When he came over to me he said, "Dad, I don't think I need to be on this team anymore." I didn't disagree with him.

We got into my car to go when the first cop car pulled up. On the way out we saw three more on their way there. I do not know what happened after I left, and I frankly didn't care.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Somebody asked me via email: How's Your Running Going?

So I wrote this to them:

I am trying to regain fitness that I have slowly lost since June 2007. Though I ran races after injuring both my achilles tendons after that, most notably the Escarpment Trail Run and NYC marathon, both were on minimal mileage and pool running. I ran only 1X per week between NYC and January 2008, and only about 2 or 3X per week so far this year. I skied 30 days this winter. For the last two weeks I have added cycling and will probably train like a triathlete, adding swimming once June rolls around. My plan is to keep running workout frequency low, but have each running workout fairly long & easy. I will run races as my speedwork, and get in some long trail races as soon as I can fit them into my schedule. The only races I am 100% sure I am attending are

Towpath Training Run 34 miles
President's Cup
RVRR Summer Series XC
Escarpment Trail Run 30K
River to Sea Relay

Friday, January 25, 2008

Spirit of the Marathon movie

I went to see the movie Spirit of the Marathon last night. The movie was like a hybrid bike - trying to be everything, it ends up not good on the roads and not good on the trails. The movie tried too hard to include both recreational level runners with world class runners. As a result it was a little too light for long-term running addicts. I wanted more from the cameo "legend runner" speakers, more from Deena and Njenga; and less about group training runs at 12 minute pace. But there were probably people in the audience that loved the everyday athlete take. The music got annoying after a while. It went on and on and on with too much lalala campy inspirational orchestration when the movie needed some good rocking sonic kick.

The movie didn't inspire me with running-as-religion significance - but it left me wanting to run Chicago, no doubt a beautiful city, despite the craziness that killed the race in '07.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

How I Am Running

January 1st - After a week's vacation in the Catskills, Christmas Day through New Year's Day, including six straight days of skiing, I decided it was time to get back to running. The fact that it was the beginning of 2008 made it an especially pertinent day to begin on, almost as if it was training from scratch. I ran on January 1st 2008 for exactly 20:08, an almost random coincidence. I saw that I was nearing the end of my run and my watch read 19-something. I had to slow down a little not to over-run my mental finish line, which is my driveway. I stopped the watch at 20:08, like for good luck, or something. It was a relatively warm day.

January 2nd - Wednesday Night Club Run. It turned cold overnight. I felt chilled. I remember saying to Lesley, "I feel under-dressed." I found myself running with Talia, who was telling me how sick she was for the previous week, and that tonight she wasn't sure how far she wanted to run since it was her second day back after being stuck in bed for a bunch of days and taking antibiotics. I remember telling her about my supplement, VIBE, and that I believed it supercharged my immune system, and that I had not gotten sick in two years. I ran about 4 miles with her.

Jaunary 3rd - The jinx I gave myself on January 2nd kicked in: I got a cold. Sinus stuffiness and headache continued through the next 12 days.

January 4 - 15 - I ran a bit despite the cold and skied one Sunday. I didn't take any sick days. I used some decongestant, Advil and Tylenol when I was very uncomfortable. My first week of 2008 total was 15 miles, and 2nd week was 20. I have been interspersing walking thinking it would help the recovery from my cold, but am realizing it is a smart idea, since I am starting almost from scratch.

All my runs since the run on January 2nd have been 5 miles. My run walk intervals have been progressive. I started with walking 30 seconds at every 5 minute mark in the run. Then 35 seconds at every 6 minute multiple. Then 40 at 7's, 45 at 8's, 50 at 9's. I am due for 60 at 10's, but it is a club run tonight, so I am likely not to observe the walk break. I am imagining that I am training for an ultra, for trail running, imagining Jeff Galloway would say I am doing the right thing.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Long Time No Write

Almost a week ago, one person I know in real offline life asked me why I have not been writing. I told her it was because I was taking a break from writing about running, and that I had actually been writing a lot about skiing. Or at least I have been hyper-writing, which takes much more time and effort. My writing is mostly online in various forms: blogs, web sites, email, forums. Writing is no longer something that involves just a writing utensil and paper. Hyper-writing involves a third dimension beyond surface text. There are web links and photos and videos and scripts and widgets to embed. Writing involves response to web articles and to other people, known mostly by just a screen name and sometimes an avatar.

Writing well is hard work. Most of the time, I don't just bang out these things half-thinkingly. I learned way back in high school that whatever a person writes represents them. I don't take that concept lightly; too many people do. The more I write, the older I get, the more I realize how much hard work good writing is, and the more I respect good writers. And in this busy life, there is a budget of work and time. A person can only put out some given amount of hard work every day. So there is another reason why I have not written here. When I work with writing (and with all the other glop that makes up my life) elsewhere, sometimes writing here gets squeezed out of the available budget.

Another thing that has to fit into the budget is the topic written about here: Running Itself. Like good writing, good running takes hard work. I found a need to run less after November 2007's New York City Marathon. I ran an average of about once per week after that event. In the seven weeks that remained in 2007 after the NYC Marathon, I had a grand total of eight running workouts. As a substitute, I did about a dozen strength workouts, specifically targeted towards skiing (from SKI magazine's November issue), and I had 13 days of skiing in December.

As my older posts here indicate, the reason I backed off running is because I found myself suffering from Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis. This is ironic and almost embarrassing, since all this barefoot running is supposed to protect runners from suffering such injury.

A brief history of the evolution of the injuries: I worked hard on my running after the previous skiing season ended, from April 15 - June 2007. I quickly increased my distance running, as I was able to do in previous years based on my bank of cardiovascular attributes gained from 34 years of running, but neglected training for speed.

Let me illustrate how quickly I elevated weekly mileage: From Jan 1 - April 15, ski season, I averaged 20 miles per week, with a high of 40. From April 16 - June 17, I averaged 38 per week with a high of 55. See the graph image below from my Excel Training Log. The dip in mileage at the week ending June 24 indicates the week right after the injury race, President's Cup, on June 18.
Through sheer force of experience, I amped up my training and was running previously unimagined distances barefoot (59% of my 120 June miles were barefoot). And I got cocky: I ran the first 9 miles of the Towpath Training Run wearing just socks with duct tape, which was no problem (pics). I tried the same thing at the President's Cup 5K, a road race. But I now realize why I injured my tendons there. It was because it was my first time running relatively fast on the road. I had only one other race so far that year, a cross-country race. I had been training slow distance - especially when barefoot and it was mostly on grass. My body was just not ready for fast running on the road. It really wasn't the fact that I was barefoot that caused the injury at President's Cup. It was the faster pace, pure and simple. I had done half of the 2006 Geralda Farms 10K race on pavement barefoot before, but slowed down because my big toes wore down and got bloodied and painful. The fact that I wore duct taped socks at the President's Cup race probably increased my probability of injury, because I could run even faster barefoot with that protection. I may have been able to handle that when I was 28 or even 38. But I guess at 48 my old tendons have lost some of that life-giving capillary circulation and decided to call it quits. Additionally, in retrospect, I felt some pain coming on in my Achilles area before the President's Cup race last June, but I did as most over-experienced runners do, ignoring it and continuing to train in hopes it would get better by itself. That is something I probably could have gotten away with in previous decades too.