Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sixteen Miler

This morning, I joined the group that's training for the Chicago Marathon. They call themselves "26 Crazy." They're a lot of fun.

Most had never run 16 miles, which was this morning's plan. We started running 11:15s and stayed on that pace for much of the outer half. It was juicy (90% humidity and 68 degree dewpoint), so slow and steady was fine with me. We were all drenched by the time we arrived at the six-mile water station.

At Mile 10, with soaked feet, I was itching to drop the pace. So were Jack and Eddie, so we started doing 10:00s, then 9:30s. We hit the only severe hill at 12.5 and charged it hard. I hit another hill at 13.5 and started to lose ground slowly. They started running sub-9:00s and I settled on 9:45s. The last 1.5 was mostly uphill, but gradual. I compartmentalized the discomfort and finished fine.

Experience is helping me deal with the end of long runs. I'll need it and more ... I'll have another 10 miles to go in two months!

I finished in two hours, fifty-four minutes, a plodding 10:53/mile pace. The group spent about 20 minutes at four water stops, which is a shade long. I like about a two-minute break on most training runs, except of course during a raceday simulation. It's quite the social crowd, so the benefit is time flies. So I mostly stretch, half-run and join the mingling during the hydration mixers.

A few runs before October 25 will be longer than today's. But it's good to look at the schedule and see I'm on it. I've run 61 miles the last two weeks - 29 and 32. Peak weekly mileage will be about 43 three weeks before the race. Bring it on!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

'Alive, Grateful and Hopeful'

What a great update today from our West Coast friend, Lea. Despite some ongoing challenges, she remains as resolute and positive as any BMT survivor we're following here in Tennessee. I encourage all of you to read how grateful she is, despite discomfort and challenges.

I wanted to shift gears and talk about dieting. I've never liked the word. Despite my own modest weight issues even five years ago, I never "went on a diet." Family and friends who have embarked on diets almost always failed. This article made me revisit my view of them.

What made me change my lifestyle, rather than starve myself of needed nutrients or try to drop pounds in a hurry? It probably started during a routine physical at a previous employer in 2003. A follow-up letter said my BMI was 30 and the bad cholesterol was too high. One paragraph started with three simple words: "You are obese."

I didn't like this author! More importantly, I didn't like where I was headed. Something inside clicked, slowly but surely. I started running more. I started eating better. Less fat, good carbs, more fruits and veggies, less ground beef but still plenty of protein. I didn't cut out things I love - ice cream, cheese, and beer and wine. I just moderated intake.

Through today, I've run four- and seven-milers. Tomorrow morning, I'll tack on six more, then do a big run this weekend. Next week's weather is supposed to be fall-like. Seems like the shortest summer I've ever experienced.

Autumn and the marathon are almost here. I went ahead and did it ... I've mailed my entry form for the Cape Cod Marathon in late October. Maybe we'll get to meet PJ, Ronni and their loved ones.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Impressive Group

I joined a great running group this morning for a run. It's probably no coincidence I had a great run.

The group is training for the Chicago Marathon the second week of October, a few weeks before my run in late October. Heather is spearheading this impressive team, some of whom I know from my Nike run last October in San Francisco. Sara, Kristen and Rosemary joined Dori and me in California last year, and they were thrilled Dori is enjoying her new teaching career. Also teachers, Heather and Sara beamed when I told them two students already have told Dori she's the best teacher they've ever had. "That's what makes it worth it," Sara said.

Also in our group were Eddie and his wife Laurie, Jack, Rosemary's daughter Jacklyn, and Jim, a lymphoma survivor. Jim ran a marathon three months before being diagnosed in 2005. He said he had wondered why he struggled during the race, later learning why when his world turned upside down. Jim looks great. He wore a Live Strong shirt today, and showed us why he deserves to wear it. Role model.

Team Chicago embarked on a 12-miler just after 6:30. The pace was so slow the first mile, maybe an 11:30/mile. I knew it would pick up. I had to be patient.

After a mile, Eddie and Jack took the lead. That looked better, so I joined them. As I looked back, I saw the rest of the group drop a gear, as well. Eddie and Jack are in the music business, and I've known Eddie's Mom for years. We enjoyed good conversation.

Before I knew it, were at our first water station at Mile 3. Eddie and I ran the next two, and boom ... we were hydrating at Mile 5. The promised northwest breeze delivered cool air, making the first seven miles seem effortless. What a day, each of us kept saying.

At Mile 7, Fast Eddie and Jack took off, running sub-8s and later sub-7s. We lost them, focusing on our own sub-9s. I asked Sara if she felt good enough to drop the pace. She didn't answer with words, just quick legs.

At mile 9, we dropped it to 8:30s, with Heather staying with us for a mile. We hit a gnarly little hill at 11.5, but kept our pace. I sucked some air at the top, and Sara waited briefly for me. Then we got back on an 8:30.

The run was super-productive. We dropped our 10:45/mile average pace at Mile 7 down to 10:11. This was fun to watch on the Garmin. It was also a lesson. Starting slow is not my forte. I went out too quickly last week, not listening to my body. There's nothing wrong with easing into a long training run, the way this group did today and especially in difficult conditions like last week. It also was good to run with others. When the mileage begins to pile up, company helps so much.

My week was a great advance down the path to 26.2. I felt strong all 29 miles over five runs. Some weight training helped, as did Tuesday's treadmill run. Speedwork is on the horizon.

So is running again with this solid cadre of foot soldiers.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Snap, Crackle, Pop

Something that snaps my rice krispies is complacency. Like most of you, I see this in different parts of our society. Self-absorption in our country is also distracting and rampant. Our eye is off the ball and has been for some time.

This week, I was privileged to view the opposite - pure activism and articulate arguments. It was highly inspiring and convincing.

I believe we are in extraordinary times. Pre-Depression, Pre-World War II, Pre-Civil War. Our nation is experiencing unrest. Some don't like it; I believe it's necessary. I believe many people from all walks of life are beginning to realize our nation is foundering and racing toward collapse. Hope I'm not ruining your Friday-night Wheaties.

Warren Buffett wrote in The New York Times this week that our economy will resemble a banana republic's unless Congress and America gets its act together soon. I believe everyone must sacrifice, or we're gonna be scooping out the Bald Eagle's birdcage for longer than anyone cares to imagine.

I don't care to place blame as much as to encourage compromise. Most of America is in the middle, but our leaders are on the fringes. Not a good cocktail during any crisis. That's why the activism was so encouraging and the complacency was frustrating.

Tomorrow, I get to run with people who are anything but reticent. Time to lace 'em up. It's also time for some chillin' with Stevie Ray Vaughn's very best.

This one resonated this week. One, two, three, four, five!

No embedding with this one, but thought folks may enjoy a classic from The Alarm. I know Chuck will.

To complacency and comfort, I say, "Don't let the screen door hit you."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Measuring Stick

A cold front is on the way, good news for runners like me in training.

Through this morning, I've run 17 miles with a long run scheduled for Saturday. I'm going to try to link with some Team In Training friends, folks who are training for the Chicago Marathon in October.

This week's runs have gone well, including a five-miler on a hotel treadmill Tuesday afternoon - the first 2.5 at a fair clip and the last half at an 8:57/mile pace. The room was steamy, resulting in a complete soaking. My heart rate maxed at 158 BPM, a good workout.

This morning, Pepper and I ran three smooth miles. I'm really eager to see where things stand on Saturday.

Watching the World Track Championships in Berlin has been a nightly ritual. Our American runners have looked strong. Inspiration is everywhere.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Change of Plans

Different day, different run. After a three-miler on Friday, I woke at 4:30 this morning to run the challenging 11.2 at Percy Warner Park. Arriving at 5:30, I didn't see anyone familiar. I knew folks in one group that planned to do hill repeats at 6 (not ready for those), so I headed out solo.

The first three miles in the park were hard. My body wasn't responsive, maybe because I didn't sleep great. We had a wonderful meal at a friend's house last night and I was plenty hydrated; I just couldn't get going. At the 3.3-mile junction (either you go 11.2 or 5.8), I turned left on the shorter course. I was completely soaked in the soupy air.

A funny thing happened at Mile 4. My body sprung to life. Back at the park entrance, I decided to add a few miles. I ran eight. I felt great. I could have added a few more, in fact, but decided to shut it down with the good vibe. I've logged two consecutive weeks of 24 miles. The base is built, but I'm taking a friend on the 11.2 next time.

Dori had a great first day at school. She likes her 23 kids. One thing she will use in class, hopefully infrequently, is "quiet coyote." Place your middle and fourth fingers together, then place against your thumb, and move your index and pinky straight up (makes the ears). That's the sign for quiet coyote. A loquacious Kathryn received a trial QC last night.

And now for some entertainment. Friday Night Flashbacks, 12 hours tardy. Put on your silly pants for the first two. Does your dog bite?

Good tune with some hip muppets.

Mighty fine Fleetwood Mac that will delight sister Anne.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Summer Running

Summer's end is near. Running in July and August, normally no fun, has been quite the opposite. As I ran last night in virtually no humidity, my thoughts focused on the anomaly. What's up? Where's the heat? Why am I running fast in mid-August?

I ran 6.5 last night, and they were bookin' miles. Not like speed work in the fall, but not far from it. I ran some 9:00s and 9:15s, passing walking couples and even a few young-uns. Maybe I was running at 85% or 90% ... but I never felt stressed. Just blessed that I was moving at a good clip in August!

This morning, the kids and I went for a bike ride in almost-cool weather. I've had some good cross-training this week - two bike rides, tennis and golf. I'm at 13 miles, thinking I'll do a short one tomorrow and then an 11-miler Saturday.

I've never seen Dori like this - so intense about her new job. Happy, too, but very intense. I'm wary she may be over-cooking it a bit and recommended she watch her battery level. She agreed, then pressed on. We'll see. Tomorrow is her first day with her kids in the classroom.

We are so proud of her. So proud.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Back on the Bike

Last Friday, I capped a good week of training with a 7.5-mile run in 90 degrees. The last mile was what I thought it would be, but I had plenty of motivation to finish. Runs of three, six, three, 4.5 and 7.5 netted 24 miles my first week of training.

I rested Saturday and Sunday, riding bikes with the kids both days and playing golf yesterday with Will (he parred two of nine holes and birdied No. 8). The bike-riding was fun - it is great cross-training that I'll include more in my regimen.

Will, aka Little Knievel, crashed pretty bad Saturday night, scraping off almost all his elbow skin and his knee. It was pretty rough to watch. After I untangled him, he jumped up and blurted loudly, "Do I have to get soap? It stings!" A veteran of The Scooter Wars, he knew the drill. The yelling was far worse before application than during. The boy, however, showed moxie, hopping back on the bike before dinner last night. Short memories, toughness or both.

This morning, Pepper and I jogged three humid miles. The neighborhood bat, our usual friend at the half-mile mark, busily gobbled bugs near his favorite street light. Crickets warmed up, as if their conductor was preparing to enter. A giant cicada sat lazily on the street, lucky that Pepper and I saw him in time, lest he become one with the pavement.

That's how I like to start a week. With a clear mind.

Dori starts her teaching career today. In-service begins this morning, and she greets her students Friday. Like Will, she is back on her bike.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Tribute to a Filmmaker

You can count on it brother
'cause we're all just finding our way
Travelling through time
People got to keep pushing on
No matter how many dreams slip away
Yah will be there

Well it's a dog-gone shame
But never too late for change
So when your luck runs low
Just reach out and call his name, his name

James Ingram and Michael McDonald, 1983

What a great song to hear while on my run after Dori's call today. Perspective. Needed.

Dori loves John Hughes' movies. I'm a fan of several. Dori digged The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink and Sixteen Candles. My top three were Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Weird Science and Mr. Mom. R.I.P., JH.


Dori called me today after she learned a blood cancer patient she knows has been given three weeks to live. Earlier this summer, she went to lunch with this wonderful young woman and later met her husband. Dori is so impressed by them.

I asked Dori if she feels guilty, given that she's doing well and her comrade isn't. No, she said. She used to when she heard about these situations, but not today. Just deeply saddened.

I just asked questions and listened. I've been through this scenario a few times. It's hard on many levels, but I know Dori needs to talk. She's the water; I'm the sponge. Let it flow.

It's hard blogging about this. But I've thought about it several times the last few hours. It's on my mind, and I feel terrible about it.

I've decided to up my long run from tomorrow morning to tonight. I need to expend some bad energy.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Midweek Motivation

Dori and I have howled everytime we've seen this flashback from SNL. It's probably Chris Farley's best moment, judging by the reactions of his fellow actors. It's three days early, but I suspect some of us need to laugh right now.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Reasons to Run Early

It was 63 degrees when I headed out the door this morning. Yes, folks, it's early August. The coffee-infused weatherman with the Woodstock tie said it was the coldest July since 1964. It only reached 90 degrees four times in July.

After starting yesterday with a three-miler before church, I embarked on a six-miler in the cool, humid conditions. I questioned my scruples the first two miles. Sore from golf (yes, golf) with Will the afternoon before, I wondered what I was doing awake at 5:15, dodging an unusual number of cars. "Training for your marathon," my internal voice murmured, almost bothered a reminder was needed. Oh, yeah.

After the slow start, my body adjusted. I started enjoying the run. Hills, always challenging before dawn, were there for the taking. My pace quickened each mile. Sweat poured, a sign of steady work. I thought of the coming day's production and said prayers of thanks and need.

Running is so peaceful, sometimes spiritual, this early, once the edge is removed. With an enthusiastic brain, lucidity often ensues. The path to a great day is charted. It's one of my little discoveries.

Returning home, Dori asked if she could get some exercise in the neighborhood before I went to work. Sure, I said, adding, "Why don't you take Pepper?" Dori agreed, ensuring her walk would become something else. I watched the twosome exit the driveway quite briskly. Good dog. Take my girl for a run.

When Dori returned, her sweat was a giveaway. "That dog can pull," she said.

Tomorrow morning's weather will be warmer, but I'm game for a repeat. Will plans to join me.

Training is underway in a good way.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Edisto Photos

As promised, here are some photos from the golf course, the beach and some other fun places. Double-click the photos if you want them in high def. All double chins and love handles have been photo-shopped to a believable level.

Lather up.

Good one.

Drive away from the water and sand ... got it.

Keep my head down, keep my head down, keep ...

Yours truly

I think I can get used to this golf thing.

Straighten your left arm and follow through.

Be the right club.

Nana, chef and photographer extraordinaire

Lowcountry surfin'

Laughs at The Noisy Oyster in Charleston

Hot date