Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year

NSP Community Center track, 12 miles in 1:40:31, pace 8:23. Plenty good enough and better than planned. Raining hard, 38 degrees, which is why we ran indoors. I felt pretty strong all the way; this wasn’t an easy pace to maintain today but it never has been. I had enough left for a good last mile. Mostly four footfalls per full breath, splits 8:18, 8:07, 8:35, 8:10, 8:44, 8:19, 8:48, 8:19, 8:35, 8:17, 8:36, 7:43. Water after the even miles, gels after 2 and 6. This was the maiden voyage for the brand new Brooks Burn 3 shoes. I never once thought about them during the run, so they must be fine.

I notice that my body seems to get adjusted to a particular pace, and wants to maintain that pace; it gets in a groove. If I start out at 9:00, my body is happy to keep that up. Similarly, if I start at 8:00, my body will try to maintain that pace, until it just runs out of gas somewhere around 20 miles. It’s as if the systems (cardio-pulmonary & others) get accustomed to supplying oxygen and nutrients (energy) to the leg muscles at a particular rate. I also notice that if I run up a big hill in a long race, my body may get accustomed to providing energy at a higher rate than before the hill, and I will tend to go faster after the hill than before it. Practical implications: I should start at the pace I want to maintain throughout the race, not slower or faster, and deliberately watch speed after hills.

Some year-end statistics:
• 1592 miles of running, averaging not quite 31 miles/week
• 399 hours of aerobic exercise
• 48 average waking heart rate
• 151 average weight, down two from last year
• 4695 Weight Watchers activity points, average 12.9/day
• 36 races
• 6 marathons, all under 3:50
• 2 marathon first-place finishes age-group 65-69
• 12 personal records at nine distances

It was easily my best year of running thus far. Mileage and WW points are down a little from previous years. Oddly, this is because I ran six marathons, therefore spending a lot of time either tapering or recovering. Also, I took three weeks off from running in November, to mend a hamstring.

Thalidomide: I got a really good, long sleep last night, thanks no doubt to the thalidomide. Waking HR was 42 this morning, compared with a normal waking HR of 48. No rash! On balance, the thalidomide is barely an inconvenience thus far.

I wish you a very happy and prosperous 2007, especially anyone who has read this far!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

St Croix Valley Runners, 5 mi, 35 deg

St Croix Valley Runners 5 miles in 44:13, pace 8:51. Slow start today, and we all stopped briefly when Paul took a spill. But I’m happy with the time since I’ll be doing 12 miles tomorrow. At the 7:00 am start it was dark, misty, and sloppy. Enroute it was muddy as well. I’d rather have snow. But these are my people and I run with them regardless. Today I chased after Mike, followed by Paul, Cal, Roy, Charlie, Dave, and A & S.

Saddam was executed today. He won’t be missed much, at least not by many.

My waking HR, normally about 48, was 40 this morning. Thalidomide at work.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Twenty Miles Indoors

NSP Community Center 20 mi in 2:54:11, pace 8:43. 270 laps, 1080 corners. Splits 8:39, 8:34, 8:57, 8:30, 8:50, 8:37, 9:08, 8:32, 8:52, 8:35, 9:06, 8:34, 8:52, 8:37, 9:01, 8:28, 8:51, 8:36, 8:56, 7:58.
Brooks Burn shoes, cushioned but no other support.  I use them for training and racing at all distances
Water after every even mile, gels at 2, 6, 10, & 14.

I went about as fast as my scrawny old legs would propel me today, or so it felt. Breathing was easy, mostly five footfalls per breath, but my legs seemed to put a limit on speed. I have a theory about that, more below. Otherwise I felt good throughout, and probably could have kept up this pace for another 10k to finish a marathon, as suggested by the speedier last mile. I forgot to wear a pair of nylon underpants under my running shorts, and am feeling the resulting chafing now. I did wear dot band-aids on my nipples, though, and nothing is bleeding. (Are we into the realm of TMI yet?) By and large it was a fine long run, leading up to the Zoom! Yah! Yah! Marathon.

In the last two days my waking heart rate, normally about 48, was 44 and 42. I haven’t had a HR as low as 42 for a long time. Slight bradycardia, probably from the thalidomide. This happened when I took thalidomide in 2004 as well; and some of my logs from that time show that I couldn’t run quite as fast as I thought I should. I didn’t wear a heart monitor for this long run, because I don’t really like it squeezing my chest, but I suspect that my HR was a bit lower than usual, resulting in less blood flow to my legs and therefore a lower limit on speed. Fortunately, I’ll be off thalidomide for six days before the marathon.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Resistance Is Futile

These old slippers saw a LOT of use
NSP Communty Center, no running. Upper-body resistance, walking, and stretches. It's not futile, but it is almost as tiring as running. Big run tomorrow.

These slippers are used up, but still cute when viewed from the top.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Oh Glucosamine, I Need You

The table is ready.  Click to enlarge
Deviled eggs
Christmas cookies
My daughter's patented chocolate-chocolate brownies
Nuts & snacks
Chocolate trifle
Oh tannenbaum
Super slippers
NSP Comunity Center 7 mi 58:18, pace 8:20. This was an odd day, I felt lethargic but still had a good pace without forcing it at all. I have no reasonable explanation. I did switch to newer shoes; could that help? The last mile was faster without a lot of extra effort. Maybe all of those Christmas carbs make me feel heavy but nevertheless provide the energy for a relatively short run like this? Splits: 8:36, 8:10, 8:19, 8:23, 8:27, 8:29, 7:54.

Anyway I had no pains except a little soreness in my right butt which I know is due to arthritis. I’m a big believer in glucosamine (and maybe chondroitin) and I’ve been slacking off on it because I ran out during the holiday season. I’ll get back to 1500 mg per day, and that hip will feel better again.

Wonderful Christmases, three dinners in a row. I got some nice new slippers that look like running shoes, the perfect gift for a runner. My old slippers, now worn through, look like two mugs of Guinness. That’s also quite appropriate for me.

Fifteen days on the thalidomide and no rash. Yay! In fact, no side effects except two unmentionable ones that are really pretty minor. Most of the side effects are temporary, meaning that they exist while you take the drug and then they stop. The side effect that everyone most fears is called “peripheral neuropathy.” That means numbness or tingling in the fingers and toes, sometimes even feet and legs. It can be a permanent condition, and it makes life a bit harder.

I’m trying to imagine how it would be to drive a car without being able to tell when my foot was touching the gas pedal or brake pedal. I check for any sign of this every night when I go to bed, and I’ll stop the thalidomide immediately if I detect it coming on. I get the impression that almost everyone will eventually develop some peripheral neuropathy if they use enough thalidomide for a long enough time.

For now, though, all is well. It’s another beautiful day in Lake Woebegone. Twenty-miler coming up Thursday. :-)

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas to All

Local Streets, 8 miles in 1:07:12, pace 8:24. Seemed slower, though it did feel like I was working hard. Legs a bit heavy today; I’m not sure why. I’d like to blame the thalidomide, but it’s just as likely it was the early Christmas dinner (and desserts) that I ate yesterday at A’s brother’s home. Yumm. Breathing was a little heavy for this pace, mostly four footfalls per full breath. Wore the Nike Milers. What an exquisite, bright, crisp, sunny morning!
Here's a hug for Christmas
Another Christmas dinner today at my sister’s house. Very nice. And yet another dinner tomorrow! Then back to running on Tuesday, to start working it all off again.

Here’s wishing you a wonderful Christmas season and a happy and successful New Year.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Five Mile Group Run, 34 degrees

SCV Runners 5 mi in 41:50, pace 8:22. Nice run with Jim, Tom, Dave, Paul, Doug, Roy, George, & A & S. A little slippery, and dark for the first mile, but we all did fine. No pains, no problems. Wore the Nike Miler shoes for their aggressive tread and relatively low ventilation. They’re perfect for winter. My Brooks Burns trainer pair made 301 miles last Thursday, so I demoted them to walkers, demoted the racing pair to trainers, and promoted the brand new pair to racing. I’ll try them out on a short run before racing in them though.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Eagle Has Landed

NSP Community Center 5 mi in 43:09, pace 8:38. That felt fast enough today. With some upper-body resistance training afterward, I feel tapped out. But it finishes 35 miles on the week; I start the new week on Saturday and won’t be running tomorrow. Next week 40 miles if all goes well. That’s a challenge during Christmas.

We spotted two eagles perched on the ice near the open water of Lake Woebegone. Fishing? Waiting for a silly goose to come too close? One eagle flew, but we got a hazy long-distance shot of the other. You can also (barely) see swans on the opposite lake shore, though we didn’t notice them while taking the picture.
Eagle sitting on the ice, swans in the background.  Click to enlarge
The new pressure tank is working fine. Now I just have to figure out what to do with the rusty old steel tank ...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Swans A-Swimming

Tri-Lakes six miles in about 52 - 53 minutes, pace sub-9. Excellent recovery run with J, who is faster but seemed content with my easy-going pace today. Route includes some hills, which have been quite missing in all of the recent indoor track running. I felt stiff at first, but that was gone within a mile. No pains, no strains. Temperature 35.

Swans with the geese on Lake Woebegone, click to enlarge
The sun rose behind clouds this morning, but I love to run at sunrise regardless. It feels like the whole world is being refreshed, reborn, and I’m privileged to be there to watch it. The geese are still sitting on the ice in Lake Woebegone, but their tenure is limited now. We saw swans a few days ago, probably Whistling Swans , but if so they’re a bit out of their normal range.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Endorphins: The Opiate of the Muscles

NSP Community Center indoor track, 16 mi 2:15:23, pace 8:28. This felt like marathon pace today. In fact I think maybe it’s the pace I will shoot for in the marathon next month, around 8:25 to 8:30. No pains except: (1) a muscle pull or something in my back just above the left hip bone, maybe from going 216 laps in the same direction (that’s 864 corners); and (2) some stomach upset later (now). I do have problems with stomach upset after hard runs, especially long ones, but usually not if I don’t eat within four hours of the run. In this case it was all night; I ran in the morning with only black coffee for breakfast. Maybe it’s the gels. I don’t much like those, but haven’t found anything I like better. Otherwise I feel great! Those old endorphins. Mostly five and four-breathing until the last mile. Splits: 8:38, 8:22, 8:38, 8:18, 8:39, 8:25, 8:49, 8:20, 8:40, 8:19, 8:39, 8:17, 8:39, 8:15, 8:43, 7:42. Good last mile; it says there was something left in the tank. Water every two miles, gels at 2, 6, 10, & 14. Looks like I lose 20 to 25 seconds at each water stop; I do walk while I drink.

The dreadmill has three advantages over this track: Constant speed, “hills,” and no corners. But the track has advantages too: A facing wind, the opportunity to change up pace more easily, and actual obstacles like other people. It’s more realistic. Most important for now, the track is the best preparation for the Zoom! Yah! Yah! indoor marathon next month. By the way, as of yesterday there were only three openings left in that marathon. Better call the race director right away if you’re interested.

The plumbing project so far seems to be a success. Most of the water has drained from the well pit now, and I found only one slightly suspicious possible oozy leak in all of those joints. But it could be water left from the startup, so I wiped it dry and we’ll find out later. Even if it is a leak, it doesn’t seem bad enough to bother with. And it was near a “union” joint, so it might go away just by tightening that joint a bit; it’s only hand tight now. Time will tell.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Victory Has Been Had

The old pressure tank. Click to enlarge
I hope! So far so good. This is a top view of the old, leaking pressure tank. It's in a "well pit," which once also contained the well itself but now has only the pressure tank. Because of the leak, the pit has about four inches of water in it after some bailing. Work was done in overshoes.

New pressure tank system.  Click to enlarge
Here's the new system. Lots more fittings and components required to meet current code (though we don't overly fret about that in Lake Woebegone). A total of 32 different joints, mostly threaded pipe joints and glued plastic joints. No leaks, or at least none that spurted. Yet. I'll check for oozy leaks tomorrow. We were without water for about five hours, including TWO more trips to Menards. The water in the well pit will slowly leak out and eventually the floor will be dry. I took a shower, and we do seem to have more pressure than before.

The old, rusty stuff.

Still no side effects from the thalidomide. I'm going to stop saying that until there are any. Maybe there won't be. Long run tomorrow.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Pressure Tank

NSP Community Center indoor track, 8 mi 1:06:39, pace 8:20. Uneventful run; I felt a little sluggish at the start but that got better. No pains, 108 laps (uff-da). But better than a dreadmill. Splits: 8:26, 8:14, 8:17, 8:23, 8:27, 8:29, 8:24, 7:59.

Parts being assembled on the dining room table.  Click to enlarge
Big project today (and yesterday and probably tomorrow): replacing the pressure tank for our well system. The old one has started to leak, and probably has only days of life left. The new one will be a captive-air tank, so I won’t need to add air every year. Very slow job for me, because I’m not very experienced and there are LOTS of parts involved: new pressure switch, check valve, pressure gauge, gate valve, hose valve, pressure relief valve, etc. And, once I cut those old pipes, there is no going back! I need to get it right the first time, because we will have no water until it’s working correctly.

Still no symptoms from the thalidomide :-)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Saturday, Dec 16, 2006, 5 miles, 36 degrees

SCV Runners 7:00 am 5-mile run, 39:59, pace 8:00. Excellent sunrise run, just the pace I wanted to go, no pains no strains. Warm enough to run without ear or face cover, just tights and a wind jacket. Does it get any better than this? Jim & Tom led out with Mike and me right behind, followed by Doug, Charlie, Roy, & Dave, while A & S ran their 5k.

So far no adverse effects from the thalidomide. Big *grin*

Thursday, December 14, 2006


NSPCC 5 mi indoors in 44:33, pace 8:55. Intended to be an easy five miles, and it was, but I felt tired throughout. Although it is shaping up to be a spectacular day, we went to the community center because it was the last chance to get in our resistance training for the week. I feel bushed now, afterward, but maybe that's normal the day after two "hard" days. Tomorrow off, no running. Next week 40 miles. Splits today 8:58, 8:52, 8:50, 8:58, 8:54. Still no adverse effects from the thalidomide. I hope the malignant cells are experiencing adverse effects :-)

Training shoes are at 261 miles, only 39 left to go. I ordered new ones; wonder if they're on the way yet. RnJ Sports has a new website, maybe I can track the order. ...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Good Day for Geese and Runners

Legion Neighborhood 6 mi in 47:42, pace 7:57. Whoops - this was supposed to be an easy day. A sub-8 pace on a hilly course is a tempo run for me, not an easy jog. How does that happen? When I finished the first three miles at an 8:11 pace I decided to slow down. But in fact I speeded up to 7:43 without realizing it. Wish I could nail down a pace and stick to it, like I can on the indoor track. Breathing was appropriate, four footfalls per breath.

As they prepare to go south, the geese glean grain from the harvested cornfields, spending the rest of their time at the edge of the ice.  Here they can hop into the water at the first sign of a predator.
Despite the complaining, it was a lovely run. Past the geese on the lake in both directions, and frequently hearing their cackling cacophony overhead as I ran the neighborhood streets. They’re ready to go south, but won’t leave until the lake freezes over. I’ll just switch days and do the easy run tomorrow :-) Ramping up the mileage, going to 35 this week with 30 in the bank already. Five more tomorrow will finish it.

No noticeable effect from the thalidomide yet, except two good nights’ sleep. :-)

Note: Peter Boyle, widely acclaimed comedy actor, died yesterday of myeloma and heart disease. Sigh.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Getting Back in the Groove

NSP Community Center indoor track, 12 miles in 1:41:24, pace 8:27. Good enough since I was shooting for 8:37 or so. Felt re-energized toward the end of this run, ramping up a bit in the last mile. Also, truth be told, a little anxious to get out of the Jazzerciser din that saturated the community center for the last half hour of the run. Splits: 8:27, 8:25, 8:42, 8:22, 8:28, 8:20, 8:38, 8:21, 8:44, 8:21, 8:45, & 7:53. I took water every two miles and gel at 2, 6, & 10, accounting for the longer splits in the following mile. Longest run so far since NYC, and NO PAINS worth mentioning. No noticeable effect from last night’s first dose of thalidomide either, but it’s early. I wonder if I should try to run my next marathon at this pace; today it felt like I could do it. I think that a PR is still a little out of reach; I’d have to run 8:12. But I’m feeling strong now and there are almost five weeks to go.

Your basic rainy, dreary day.  Click to enlarge, but what's the point?
I tried the heart-rate experiment again today, but it didn’t work too well because the HR monitor kept sliding down my body. Why this time and not before? Dunno. Before that happened, HR settled at about 140 bpm nearing the 2 mile mark. Then when I took a gel with water, it went up and settled at about 145 or 146 before I lost the monitor at about 4 miles. So I’m thinking that the gel does bump up the HR a little, maybe 5 points. I guess that’s the price I’ll have to pay. Best to keep training with gel.

So far the only effect I’ve felt from the single small dose of thalidomide was a good nights sleep. It was originally released as a sleep aid, and it works! A beneficial side effect :-)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Saw the Doctor, Here Comes the Rash Again

Myeloma is persistent. Whatever you do, it always figures out a way to come back at you. Until now, my only treatment for it was three months of thalidomide (50 mg/day) almost three years ago. Now it’s time for more.

I had the blood drawn last Monday, and saw the doctor today. He watches several cancer markers. Lambda light chains have been creeping up, and now they are five times the high limit of the "normal" reference range. The "M" spike, a good indicator of tumor burden, has bounced back up to the highest level ever, and beta-2 microglobulin is trending upward. The good news is that there are still no light chains detected in the urine, indicating that the cancer is still in an early stage.

Nevertheless, the doctor knows that I want to be proactive in averting tissue and organ damage, and he agrees. So I’m sitting here with a cardboard packet containing 28 thalidomide capsules, 50 mg each. I’ll start tonight. If this time is like the last, here comes the rash on my arms and legs. More tests in five weeks, to see if the cancer is responding.

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Sunday, December 10, 2006, 7.0 mi, 34 deg

What a lovely sunrise run! Seven miles in 59:02, pace 8:26, up main
street and west along the RR tracks, then back. I love that crummy
two-rut dirt road beside the track, made of soft earth strewn with rocks
from the rail bed. Slightly hazardous, slower than pavement, but
secluded, flat, and straight. Today, with the leaves gone, it offered
broad vistas of the countryside interspersed with forest. In the red
sunrise, it was a spectacular run. I probably should have gone farther.
No pains worth mentioning. This is what running is all about. Racing is
just the frosting on the nut-filled, cherry-laced marble-chocolate bundt
cake of this day's run. It's a masterpiece.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

99 Things About Me

100 Things are way too many. Humility demands less.

1. I’m sufficiently full of myself to actually sit and write 99 things about me. Uff-da.

2. I’m embarrassed to publish it though - we’ll see whether I do. Maybe I’ll sneak it in the sidebar.

3. But I do find this an interesting exercise of introspection.

4. I grew up in Duluth, Minnesota. I love Duluth. Is that two things? Too bad.

5. When I’m in Duluth I like to run up and down the hills overlooking Lake Superior. Who wouldn’t?

6. I’ve been married to my best friend and lover since 1963. :-)

7. I have two sons and a daughter, all adults, and a yummy little grandson.

8. Except for six errant months, I’ve lived my whole life in Minnesota.

9. I’m a computer consultant in a very narrow, specialized area of computing.

10. I’m a lawyer, but don’t practice much law.

11. I measure races for certification, using a calibrated bike, a tape measure, and oodles of spray paint.

12. Besides that I’m retired. It’s an attitude more than a reality, so I can run whenever I please.

13. I shoot for 40 miles per week running and often make it. Schedule.

14. But when I run lots of marathons, I’m either in taper or recovery too much to run 40. Ah, well.

15. I like to run with other people.

16. But when I run alone I like that too. I’m good company for myself.

17. I have myeloma, a cancer of the blood. My Myeloma.

18. I have no symptoms from myeloma yet; it’s in an early stage.

19. I know there is no cure, but I hope to hold it off long enough to die of running or laughing instead.

20. I believe that keeping a healthy body may help fight it.

21. I like sweets but try to avoid them because sugar feeds the cancer.

22. I feel a kinship with Lance Armstrong; a favorite book is It’s Not About the Bike.”

23. I’m going for 50 states. Will I make it?

24. Four new states in 2006: AR, TN, ND, & NY.

25. Twelve states at the end of 2006.

26. Twenty marathons at the end of 2006; qualified for Boston in 15 of those 20.

27. If there is a run scheduled for tomorrow morning, I go to bed looking forward to it. Usually there is.

28. Some of the time when I’m running, I wish I was done.

29. Other times I feel wonderful, drifting past the world on winged feet.

30. Always, always when I’m done I’m really glad I did it. There is only one thing that feels better *wink*.

31. I’m quite certain that nobody will read this far. If you have, get a life! :-)

32. I graduated from the U of Minn in electrical engineering just after the Big Bang.

33. I started William Mitchell law school at the age of 53, finished four years later.

34. I loved law school, despite the very hard work. Most of my classmates didn’t.

35. I haven’t practiced law very much. I enjoyed the learning more.

36. In high school and college I learned Spanish, but I’ve forgotten most of it.

37. Now I wish I knew American Sign Language. I want to learn it. One day I will.

38. I’ll be 66 in January, 2007.

39. My mom & dad are both alive, living at home, and doing well; I’m so proud.

Sunset over Lake Woebegone, click to enlarge

40. My favorite marathon is Moose Mountain, on the Superior Trail northeast of Duluth.

41. Nothing is more beautiful to me than nature, and that trail is exquisitely varied.

42. I’ve never won anything in the Lottery. Perhaps I should buy a ticket someday.

43. I joined Weight Watchers in February 2002. I went weekly then, and still go once a month.

44. I was “portly,” (yup!) but I’ve lost about 45 pounds since then.

45. Now I weigh about 150, and for me that’s anything but portly. More like gaunt.

46. As a lifetime weight watcher, I write down my food points and exercise points in a daily journal.

47. Keeping those in balance, I neither gain nor lose weight. Weight Watchers works.

48. I’m a power TV watcher. I admit it. So shoot me.

49. I’ve been to Australia, Hong Kong, India, Britain, France, Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands,
Belgium, Austria, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Bahamas, Canada, and most states.

50. Never been to Mexico or Alaska, but I’d like to, especially Alaska.

51. I’ve been really drunk twice in my life. Apparently I didn’t learn the first time.

52. I’ve never, ever, taken an illegal drug. Of course now that I’m a runner there’s really no need.

53. I usually finish a marathon in the top 10% of my age group. Usually.

54. But I know lots of men my age who are faster than me.

55. I like WordPerfect much better than Microsoft Word. But their customer service sucks.

56. If I had to choose between sex and running I would stop running. Glad I don’t have to choose.

57. In the winter I love to run my snow-blower and kick snow! :-)

58. But overall I’m not as enthused about winter as I used to be. Gaunt = cold.

59. My favorite season is fall. I look forward to it all summer.

60. I love trees. Pretty much all trees. Not big on yard work, but I usually get the leaves picked up.

61. I’m an eagle scout. Before the Big Bang.

62. I was an amateur radio operator, but let my license lapse years ago. Tsk.

63. I’ve never reacted to poison ivy, but loved ones have, so I murder it on sight. Don’t be poison ivy!

64. I’m licensed by the US Patent and Trademark Office to practice patent law, but I never have.

65. I was in cross-country in high school.

66. I quit because I threw up at the end of every race. Girls didn’t like that. I didn’t much like it either.

67. I still get an upset stomach after a race if I eat beforehand. So I don’t, problem solved.

68. I started running again in 2002 because my wife’s brother invited us to a race, bless his heart.

69. I thought I should train a little, and it felt so good that I got hooked!

70. Later that summer I won my age group in a big race and was really hooked. I still have the plaque.

71. I love a latte in the morning. I go to sleep looking forward to it.

72. And a beer in the evening. I look forward to it all day.

73. Sometimes two beers on long-run days. Hydration is important :-)

74. I rarely have any alcoholic drink other than beer. Maybe wine with a family dinner.

75. When we were first married, my wife made me chocolate-chip pancakes every morning. Honest.

76. Now it’s organic eggs and oatmeal. Not as sweet, but it makes me just as happy.

77. I think she’s just wonderful.

78. My favorite food is a cold naval orange, eaten two segments at a time.

79. I believe in God.

80. But I’m quite skeptical of organized religion. It’s mainly a way to control people and cause war.

81. I doubt that we humans have more than a faint understanding of the nature of God.

82. I was once the chairman of my county’s Republican party. Hard even for me to believe.

83. I’m a social liberal and a fiscal conservative, more or less.

84. I’m not welcome in the Republican party any more, and that’s not because I changed.

85. I was opposed to the Iraq war before President Bush started it.

86. I’m angry with him for squandering America’s lives and fortune for no reason.

87. My head hurts thinking about it. Let’s think about anything else.

88. I roast a pig every year. If you know me and don’t get an invitation, please call or write.

89. When I was younger I wanted a sporty car like a Sprite. Fatherhood and common sense interceded.

90. When I got older I bought a white 1999 Saturn Coupe. It’s quite satisfactory :-)

91. I love to travel by train, especially by Amtrak or ViaRail in a sleeper. That is living! But $$$.

92. I don’t play an instrument, but I like to sing in a church choir.

93. I don’t sing in a choir now because I’m running so many Sunday mornings.

94. My real name is actually Don. Well, Donald, to be even more real.

95. I love my wife so much.

96. And all of my children.

97. And my grandson. He’s so precious.

98. At bottom, I’m a pretty happy person.

99. See - 100 things would have been too many :-)

What a Day to be Alive

Running in the sunrise is such a rush. Five miles with good friends, 39:00 minutes, pace 7:48, temperature 27. The fastest I’ve run since NYC over a month ago. Feels wonderful! Hamstrings are silent, all is well, fingers are crossed. I ran out front with Tom, followed by Doug, Roy, Candy, Gauss, Cal, Paul, Dave, George, and A & S. Nice group. We started slowly, but I think Tom and I just kept going faster and faster. I could see him cutting back a little now and then so that he didn’t outpace me - he’s really quite a bit faster. But we both enjoyed it. The others finished several minutes behind us.

Canada Geese.  Click to enlarge
Canada geese on the edge of the ice, enjoying sunrise on Lake Woebegone. There is still plenty of food in the harvested cornfields, but these will head south when the lakes freeze over completely.

Time to order new shoes. I do most of my running in Brooks Burns, a lightweight but cushioned trainer/racer, currently on my 12th pair. Three pairs in play at any given time, using the newest for racing, next-newest for training, third-newest for walking and lounging around. When the training pair reaches 300 miles I get a new pair for racing and everything gets shifted down. Right now that pair is at 231 miles, so I have about two weeks left. I have quite a collection of retired shoes; I need to get them to a shoe-recycling center. I get the best price for the Brooks Burn at RNJ Sports

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Good Days, Bad Days

I don’t believe that good days and bad days just happen. I think there is always a reason why I can run more easily one day than another, but I frequently don’t know what that reason is. If I can figure it out, perhaps I can make the next race day a good day. Today’s run was at the NSPCC, 4 miles in 31:59, for a pace of 8:00, which is a wannabe PR marathon pace for me. Surprising to me, my heart rate leveled off at 143, which is lower than Tuesday’s rate of 146, even though the pace that day was significantly slower at 8:37. Today was a good day, Tuesday wasn’t bad but wasn’t this good. But why?

Looking back: I had a latte before running both days, nothing else; ate well the day before but didn’t really “carb up;” got a good night’s sleep both nights. The only big difference is the water and gels along the way on Tuesday. That could be it, the increased demands for blood flow, but I suspect there is something else too, just don’t know what. Next week I’ll do the gels and water again at the 8:37 pace and we’ll see. :)

Lake Woebegone, click to enlarge
Today’s view of Lake Woebegone. Clear, cold, crisp. A beautiful day. We ran indoors at the NSPCC again; the temperature at the lake was three degrees. But even indoors we could look out on the beauty of this day. Splits 8:03, 7:59, 7:56, 8:00. Four footfalls per full breath after the first two miles, which is just dandy. Felt good all the way, no hamstring pain at all, either during or after. Whaddayaknow.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

A Little About RSS

I'm a novice, just learning about RSS. Some say that RSS stands for "really simple syndication," others user other definitions. In effect, it's a way for you to be advised of an update to someone else's blog (or web site) without checking it.

I got interested in RSS after installing Internet Explorer 7, which has some support for it. Give IE7 a list of web pages, and it will periodically check each page for updates. Then if you look in IE7's RSS list, it will tell you which pages have been updated since you last looked, and will even show you a summary of each change. But as far as I can tell, it won't alert you in any way. You have to check IE7's RSS list if you want to know of a new blog post.

GreatNews RSS Feed Aggregator
Enter the "RSS Feed Aggregator." If you Google that term, you will find dozens of programs, many free, designed to do the automatic polling of your selected RSS pages and alert you when a change appears. I downloaded a free one called GreatNews, and it works well enough that I feel no need to look further. It's a little browser in itself, and it provides an easy way to add new feeds (pages) to your list, makes it easy to delete the feeds that come pre-programmed, and provides a nice taskbar popup to alert you when an update is detected. It's cool. It won't always be free, but it is now and I doubt that the current beta versions will expire.

Here are some configuration suggestions. Go to Tools, Options:

  • GENERAL Tab:

    • Check "Minimize to System Tray." Then if you minimize GreatNews, it will disappear to a tiny icon in the system tray, which is the righthand part of the bottom taskbar.

    • Check "Close to System Tray." Then if you close GreatNews it won't really close, but will again go to the system tray, working in the background.

    • "Automatically update all feeds every ?? min". I have this set to 15, because I'm at my desk most of the day and have a broadband connection.

  • READING Tab:

    • "News items popup should stay for ?? seconds". I have this set to 3600 (1 hour) in case I'm away from the computer.

Add feeds by clicking Feed, then Add, then feed, or by clicking on the far-left icon on the second taskbar down. Delete feeds and groups by right-clicking on them and then clicking "delete." In a similar manner you can add groups and move feeds around to make it your own RSS aggregator. I took all of the actual news feeds (Yahoo, CNN, etc) out of mine because I was getting popups all the time. For me, so far, RSS feeds are just for running and myeloma blogs.

As provided, GreatNews doesn't give you a way to start it up automatically at bootup. Nevertheless I have mine set to start at bootup, and can describe how that's done if anyone is interested.

Wednesday Dec 6, 6 miles indoors

NCP Community Center track 6 mi, 53:51, pace 8:59. I wimped out today. Schedule says run with the Woodbury gang tonight, but the weatherman was talking about an Alberta Clipper (Canada’s blustery, frigid gift to the Great Lakes) due this afternoon and evening. A & S wanted to go to the club, so what the heck. I wore the heart rate monitor again, and tried to peg my pace right on 9:00, just like last Sunday. The HR leveled out at 132 for the first four miles, just like Sunday’s run, which ended at four miles. Then today it crept up to 136 in the last two miles. So why was it 146 yesterday? Quite possibly just the difference in pace; yesterday I averaged 8:37 per mile. Also I ate a gel every four miles yesterday, and drank 5 oz of water every two, thus adding the stomach to the list of customers for blood flow. Tomorrow’s schedule shows four miles; I’ll go to the club again and check the HR at 8:06 miles, right about MP. Today’s splits: 8:57, 8:57, 8:59, 9:00, 9:00, 8:59. Breathing 5 footfalls per full breath throughout; easy pace.

Unfotunately, I heard from the right hamstrings again today. Not a sharp pain, just a dull ache which appeared briefly a couple of times. Now that the run is over I can feel the ache every time I walk, but for the life of me I can’t find it by palpation. I wonder if it’s really nerves, not a muscle or tendon problem at all. Well I’m going to run until it hurts enough to take it to a doctor or therapist, but still building back up to 40 MPW in a fairly conservative manner.

The club was really a nice place to be today. There are windows on all four sides of the track, so we watched snow showers one minute and blue sky sweeping in from the west the next. And we got out of there before the Jazzercisers cranked up their loudspeakers. I wonder how much outdoor running I’ll do this winter. I need some, for hill training, but that can wait until the hamstring issue gets resolved. Saturday morning with the SCV runners for sure.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Cuter than Cute

I'm still learning how to upload images and put them in the right places.

Computer savvy already, just like his momma and daddy

This is our grandson. I just love him.

Tuesday December 5, 2006, 10 miles indoors

NSP Community Center track, ten mi in 1:26:09, pace 8:37. Again did some metrics, because it’s so easy to hold an exact pace on a track that has 13 time checks per mile. This time my heart rate was 146, not especially low. So much for all of the self-congratulations of two days ago! HR went right up there early and stayed there. Why was it low Sunday and not today? Maybe any or all of several reasons: (1) Sunday the pace was 9:00, today 8:37; (2) Sunday I just ran, but today took water and gels at intervals appropriate for marathon training, thus increasing the need for oxygen; (3) I had lunch a couple of hours before running Sunday, only a latte this morning; and (4) I didn’t “carb up” at all last night; maybe not enough in the tank.

Soon I will step it up to marathon pace again and see if the HR goes even higher. I don’t think I should run a marathon at a pace much higher than 146, which is 87% of max HR. Maybe today was atypical; I hope so, but time will tell. Maybe the answer is that HR metrics are bad if I obsess on them. No worries when I leave the HR monitor at home :-)

The right hamstrings ached a little during the cool-down walk. Nuts. Well I’m not going to stop again; if 18 days off didn’t do it then I need a better plan. Maybe try a massage terapist - never tried that before. I did some deep massage on it myself last night, and it hurt a little afterward. Might have caused today’s ache myself; better leave that stuff to the professionals.

North St paul Community Center

North St Paul Community Center is such a nice facility. Because A & I are seniors, we get a rate of $165 per year even though we are non-residents. It’s a bit of a drive, but the indoor track alone is well worth it, and the cross-training equipment is quite adequate.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Sunday December 3, 2006, four miles indoors

NSP Community Center track again, 4 mi in 35:54, pace 8:59, splits 8:58, 8:55, 9:00, & 9:00. A little experiment today. Since the idea was to run four easy miles anyway, why not put on the heart monitor and measure the heart rate at exactly nine-minute miles, because it's so easy to do an exact pace at the track. The average rate was 127, and the steady-state rate after leveling off was 132. It's my recollection that nine-minute miles used to get my heart up to a higher rate, close to 140. Looking back in this log, I see a heart rate of 143 for a six-miler in May 2003, and 141 for a 19-miler in April 2004, both at nine-minute pace. Of course it makes sense that the rate is down, because my race times have gone down too.

So what physiological changes account for the decrease? An increase in running efficiency would result in less oxygen uptake. Also, the cardiopulmonary system itself may have become more efficient, so that one beat of the heart can pump more oxygen. I think probably both. I wonder how much farther I can take that before age starts to reverse the trend.

I've previously thought that my maximum heart rate was about 167. If so, then today's nice easy sub-marathon pace was at 79% of max heart rate. Is that normal for an easy pace? Seems like I've read that 65%-70% is a target for long-slow distance running. Need to do some research.

Running / Training Schedule

Some people like to run, or not, as the mood strikes them. I'm not good at that, preferring a little more structure, even if it's only structure that I provide for myself. For the last three years, therefore, I have created and mostly followed a running schedule, designed to get me to the next marathon in good enough shape to run it.

I get up in the morning and look at the schedule to see what's on tap for the day. Of course I know that Tuesday is usually the day for the long run of the week, and weekend days are often races. But the schedule tells me how far to run, and I always run that far if there is no physical reason not to.

Since it's my own schedule I change it as needed, so long as the weekly mileage goal is still met. For example, I had four miles in the schedule for yesterday, intending to do the Reindeer Run with some cool-down. But when we decided to run indoors instead, that seemed like an opportunity to run a little farther. So I did six instead, and then reduced today's scheduled mileage by two.

I've added a link to the current schedule on the righthand panel of the blog. It will probably be kept mostly up to date; we'll see.

Myeloma Tests

Myeloma blood draw tomorrow at 1:00 pm, pee in a bottle all day today and tonight. Then I'll see the doc on the 11th and get the results. Last time he was unconcerned enough to suggest four-month intervals instead of three, but I preferred three. I will submit a new post about the results, and the actual data will be posted here.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Saturday December 2, 2006. Six miles indoors

NSP Community Center track, 6 mi in 48:53, pace 8:09. Marathon pace. Splits 8:31, 8:10, 8:03, 8:03, 8:15, & 7:53. We three went to the Reindeer Run this morning, but it was so darn cold we decided to watch all of the costumed runners go by at the start and then go home to run at the gym. Temp was almost OK, but there was a stiff wind, and we really didn't want to face it on the far side of the lake. But on the track at the gym I felt very good, no sign of hamstring trouble. I knew it would be a good afternoon when the first mile was 8:31 instead of 9:00. And my breathing was five or six strides per full breath through at least the first four miles, really changing to four strides per breath only for the last mile. For me, this is an indicator of good aerobic capacity when I can breathe that easily at marathon pace. A little warning from the right knee around mile 2, but it passed.

Looking at running the Zoom! Yah! Yah! Marathon in Northfield on January 14. It's Minnesota's first indoor marathon, 150 laps on a 283-meter track, certified BQ. Sounds like quite a snore, but I've done 20-milers on a much shorter indoor track (270 laps / 20 mi) so this won't be bad, and there will be support. Very small field, half-filled already I think. But can I get ready for it without re-injury? We'll see. I need to be sure that I take at least two days off from running every week. Pete Pfitzinger wrote a wonderful article in the January issue of Running Times (the current issue). To paraphrase one point: "There is no such thing as overtraining; there is only under-recovery." And I need to stretch regularly, even on the off days, especially the conventional hamstring stretch and the toe-touches.

I notice that I'm writing more in this log now that it's also going on the web and I can imagine that someone else might actually read it. That's ego for ya. But I hope that in my creaky, cranky years I will enjoy looking back on this log.