Saturday, December 27, 2008

Slip-Sliding Along

This morning the temperature was 30, which meant that the overnight drizzle had frozen here and there to paved surfaces. In some places it was just wet, but in others it was ice. That kind of spotty black ice is hard to see, especially just before dawn. Both Tom and Luke had shoes with studs of some kind, but Paul and I just had regular running shoes.

We’re slower anyway, so we hung back and walked in a few places where it seemed dangerous, finishing long after Tom & Luke. Even so, we each had a close call or two. Though I did get away with it, I might have been smarter to go run indoors somewhere today. Enjoyable to run with Paul, though. Time 48:54, pace 9:47.

Maybe I need a pair of Yak-Trax. Or drive some screws into the sole of the shoes, as Luke had done, so the screw heads can act as studs.

Dinner: Organic chicken, roasted organic sweet potatoes, organic nectarine, organic catsup.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas Run

Steve, Dave, and I met at the usual St Croix Valley Runners’ location, the Northland Tennis Courts, and took off into the minus-5 degree weather for the usual five-mile run. According to Dave, in fact, his thermometer said minus-11. Whatever, it was cold. All three of us were dressed for the cold, and no one complained.

I wore a ski mask, and contact lenses because regular glasses fog up and freeze over when the face is covered. Five layers of clothing above the belt, and two below including my pajama bottoms. Plus foam rubber knee protectors. I was a little worried about my feet, where I wore just a single pair of heavy, long Wright Sox inside the Nike Miler shoes. Indeed my feet did get a little cold, and I’m glad it wasn’t a ten-mile run, but my feet were never really at risk.

How come lungs don’t simply freeze solid in this weather, when a runner is breathing so hard? I recall another runner explaining, as we huffed along in a frigid race, that by the time air is inhaled through the mouth, throat, and bronchial tubes, it is warmed almost to body temperature. Hence the lungs are protected. I suppose that has to be the answer. But it doesn’t explain why those other parts (bronchia, etc.) don’t freeze. Perhaps they have an abundant blood supply. Anyway they don’t freeze, so we can run in virtually any temperature if we manage to keep the rest of the body warm.

Today’s time was 45:38, for a pace of 9:08. About two minutes slower than last Saturday, and perhaps 25 degrees colder. Last run of the week, 24 miles completed.

Breakfast after this Christmas morning run: Trader Joe's gluten-free granola, organic walnuts, blueberries, banana, organic nonfat milk, Dove dark chocolate. Not shown: Two eggs pan-fried in a little coconut oil.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Eight Miles

North St Paul Community Center. Today the idea was to run 8 miles at a nine-minute pace. I wasn’t sure that I could do it, but it was no problem and I was even able to ramp up the last mile. This was my longest run in a month or two. Breathing was four footfalls per full breath throughout except the last half mile, when it went to three. That’s good - four footfalls is a sustainable pace short of a race pace. Perhaps next I’ll try 10 miles.

Slight pain in the right knee after the run was finished, in the middle of the knee at the bottom of the kneecap. It went away in 15 minutes or so, shortly after stretches were completed. I hope it doesn’t become a problem. It didn’t bother during the run.

Splits: 9:03,8:55, 8:55, 8:56, 8:56, 8:55, 8:57, 8:17, total 1:10:55, pace 8:52.

Dinner: Organic chicken, organic carrots roasted with the chicken, organic strawberries.

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Six nice miles at the Challenge Courage races on the Bethel University indoor track, followed by an solid hour and a half of snow shoveling. I’m tired. But the driveway is clear.

When I visit Mayo every month the doctor always asks if I get unusually tired. Well, I’m mighty tired tonight but I have a good excuse, so I won’t bother the doctor with it.

This time I didn’t run any races at all, just enjoyed the ambiance and watched others race while I ran my six miles at about a nine-minute pace.

Breakfast: Gluten-free oatmeal, blueberries, organic strawberries, organic walnuts, organic low-fat milk, Dove dark chocolate. Oh yeah.

Salad: Organic romaine salad, cucumber, avocado, organic grapes, organic strawberries, macadamia nuts, organic red wine vinegar.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Three More Runs

Saturday, Dec 20:

St Croix Valley Runners, five miles. Lots of snow on the route today, which makes the run more difficult, like running uphill the whole way. "New Mike" ran with us for the first time. I hope he comes again - he’s a good guy. He’s "new Mike" only because there is already a Mike, who is now "old Mike." New Mike is pretty fast, though we didn’t really test him today.

The group stuck together much of the way, and then Mike & Luke took off. Roy was visiting from Chicago, and Dave (old Dave) & Paul ran too. Nice group. I finished with Dave in 43:48, which is plenty good considering. Pace 8:46. Nike Miler shoes did well; they have an aggressive tread and little ventilation.

It’s pretty dark at 7:00 am these days - we run the first mile in the dark, reflective clothing advised. In fact the solstice is tomorrow, the shortest day. The latest sunrise will be a couple of weeks later, for reasons that I have never quite comprehended. Believe it or not sunSET is already getting later, and after tomorrow it will be getting later faster than sunrise is getting later. This offset varies by latitude, apparently, though I’m sure I’d need to set up a model of the sun and the earth to understand it.

Gosh the "blizzard" just hit here. As we watch, and as I write in this journal, the easterly breeze which carries the snow has suddenly snapped over to the northwest and become a gale. The change is dramatic and intimidating. Yikes. Time to put another log on the fire.

Thursday, Dec 18:

North St Paul Community Center indoor track, five miles. I wanted to do a little speed work at the end, but this was not the day for much of it. I was happy to be able to push a little in the last three laps. The very last lap was 32 seconds, which corresponds to a pace of about 7:12. That’s probably about as fast as I ought to try to go on that short, banked track.

As always I did my stretches after the run. After that, my right knee hurt a little, just walking along. For the previous day or two I had noticed pain in that knee as I got up from a chair or turned on that leg. The running and stretches made it a little worse, though there had been no pain during the run. But the pain went away within a few minutes. I’ve had this "trick knee" symptom before and it went away. Maybe a floating piece of garbage in there? Anyway I have the name of an excellent orthopedist if I need to go there. Hope not.

Splits: 8:59, 8:35, 8:45, 8:52, 8:33, total 43:42, pace 8:44.

Tuesday, Dec 16:

North St Paul Community Center indoor track, five miles, no problems. I was a little tired, so I didn’t push much. Splits: 8:59, 8:41, 8:46, 17:45, total 44:12, pace 8:50.

Dinner: Grass-fed bison potroast (crockpot) with parsnips, organic mixed vegetables, shredded parmesan cheese, organic grapes. No doubt this was complemented by a hearty porter or perhaps a brown ale.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bethel University Track

Gary held a racewalking training event today at the Bethel University indoor 200m track, and invited runners to come and enjoy the facility too during that time. We three are not racewalkers, but we do enjoy running on that lovely track. My sweeties ran 6k, and I ran five timed miles and then fooled around for another mile. I’d like to improve my sprint speed, so I did a sprint and some other track work.

To be honest, though, after running five "fast" miles today on top of six last night, I didn’t have a lot left for sprints. Perhaps next time I’ll do most of the track work first. Also, I found myself running too a little too fast today in the timed miles, I can’t explain why. The rubbery track surface makes me feel like I’m going slow even when my breathing says I’m going too fast. Experience on the track will help.

I ran in lane 6 of the track, the outer lane, counting seven laps per mile. That is actually about 83 feet longer than a mile, which amounts to about 10 seconds at my 9-minute pace.

Splits for five timed miles: 9:13, 8:43, 8:35, 8:43, 8:58. Take about ten seconds off each one to get the time for a real mile.

Granola breakfast
NOT OATMEAL! For a change, this is a gluten-free granola from Trader Joe's. Yummy stuff, and good fer ya too. Add blueberries, strawberries, organic milk, and a nice little Dove chocolate.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Six Instead of Five

Saturday, Dec 13:

Six miles at the North St Paul Community Club. I’m thinking I’ll see how far I can go on that track at a pace of 9:00 or better. I’ve done several recent five-mile runs at that pace, and here’s a six-miler. Time to try seven or eight. This did seem a little like a race, though. Breathing rate was mostly four footfalls per full breath, but toward the end it went to three, indicating a race pace. When I try seven or eight miles I’ll have to stick closer to 9:00 pace in the beginning - no miles at 8:37 or 8:31 unless I can speed up for one mile at the end.

Ramping up now from 20 miles per week toward 40, at about 10% increase per week. That’ll be 22 miles this week, thank you. Six down and 16 to go.

Splits: 9:05, 8:37, 8:31, 8:45, 8:49, 8:37, total 52:23, pace 8:44.

Wednesday, Dec 10:

Woodbury Runners regular Wednesday evening run. Rich, Pete, Jack, Jim, & myself. Rich hadn't run for a couple of weeks, and I was looking forward to a nice easy run for a change, so I ran with Rich and enjoyed a good conversation with him.

He has an ability that I don't have: When he's been going too fast, he can keep on running but slow down to compensate, whereas I tend to run too fast and then need to walk a bit, all out of breath. We finished the 5.2 miles in about 58 minutes, about the same as two weeks ago despite the layer of soft snow that should have slowed us a little.

Nike Milers this time - they have such an aggressive tread and far less ventilation that any of my other shoes. Great for outdoors in the winter even though they are meant to be lightweight track shoes.

Tuesday, Dec 9:

N St Paul Community Center once again, five miles once again. We always go together to NSPCC, my sweeties and I, usually in the morning and often before breakfast. Today it was in the afternoon, though, a couple of hours after lunch. I wasn't sure how that would work out, because I do better with more time between food and running, so I was a little surprised that it was just fine. No tummy trouble.

These days it seems like my indoor-track "cruising" speed for a modest-length run like five miles is about 8:45 per mile. It's the pace my body wants to run if I don't look at my watch. That's OK with me, actually. It would probably be a little slower in an outdoor running environment, particularly in the winter, but not a lot slower.

This time I was inspired by a recent post about "speed work" in Peter's Blog and decided to push a little toward the end, resulting in an 8:11 last mile. That's fine. Most interesting, my breathing did not increase in speed any more than my leg turnover increased in that mile. Four footfalls per full breath throughout, which says that there was more speed available, because I know I can run run at least a mile breathing faster at a rate of three footfalls per full breath. I wonder if there's any chance that my strength is increasing just a little with the recent reduction in dexamethasone dosage. That would be nice. Time will tell.

It is time to ramp up the mileage again, from 20 miles per week back up to 40. Easy does it.

Splits: 9:05, 8:45, 8:46, 8:47, 8:10, total 43:33, pace 8:43.

Dinner: Bison crock pot with free-range bison and organic carrots, organic broccoli with shredded parmesan cheese, organic red grapes. As good as it looks, and good fer ya too.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Charities Challenge Indoor Track Events

Sunday, December 7:

Charities Challenge indoor races at Bethel University in Arden Hills. What a wonderful time. We go and pay $25 ($16 if we remember to pre-register) and run as many races as we want. Or none. There is a 200m, 400m, 800m, and 1500m or one mile, depending on the day, all on the very nice, soft 200m track. In addition there is a judged race walk. I ran one heat of the 400m, but some people ran several races and, last year, one man ran almost every heat of every race.

I really went there to run around on the track, not to race. Nobody minds people doing their own thing so long as we make way for the racers, which is easy enough. So I ran five "warmup" miles before to my short race, two clockwise and three counter-clockwise. I have no idea how fast I ran those 40 laps, but it was good enough. Maybe next time I’ll run every race instead of those warmup miles, taking it fairly easy in all of the races except maybe the 200m or 400m.

Those indoor races are much more than just races. A time to do whatever I want on an indoor track, schmooze with friends, help as a lap counter for an event, log some miles, watch some good races by people who are VERY fast and some who are brand-new at running, and maybe set a PR at a distance that I never run in the summer. Further, my sweeties are right there doing the same. A very nice Sunday morning.

My 400m time was 1:30, to be compared with 1:16 in my best 400m last winter. That’s not good, but I wonder if I can do better it I don’t run five miles of "warmup" first. Maybe I’ll point to the last race in the winter series, train for the 400m distance a little bit, and see how well I can do.

Saturday, Dec 6:

St Croix Valley Runners. Today I was definitely the slowest. Dave took pity on me for a while, until I encouraged him to run on ahead. Tom and new Dave were already out of sight, finishing the standard 5-mile route several minutes ahead. I did take a modest shortcut, which may have reduced the distance by as much as two tenths of a mile, but that didn’t help a lot.

This was a difficult run for me, very hard work. Friend Dave was chatting away while we were running together, as I was gasping to say "yes" or "no." We had an inch and a half of new snow overnight, covering the entire route, so running was difficult. On top of that I just didn’t feel very energetic this morning. But we got through it, to run another day.

Time 45:33 for 4.8 miles, pace 9:29. It’ll have to do.

A favorite dinner
One of my favorite dinners: Canned wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon with yogurt and dill, organic broccoli with parmesan cheese, organic nectarine. To think I once disliked salmon.

Yummy fruit bowl
Fruit bowl - particularly nice after a long run: Blueberries (underneath), pineapple, organic apple, mango, organic strawberries, organic low-fat yogurt, Dove dark chocolate.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Catching Up, Nine Runs

I've been running but not blogging. Twenty miles a week, lots of five-mile runs. Pretty soon I'll have to do some longer ones, but right now this feels good. Here are nine runs:

Thursday, Dec 4:

North St Paul Community Center, about 5.4 miles in 49 minutes. I forgot my watch, but there is a nice clock on the wall that I can check about every 40 seconds, and that did just fine. Because I had run last night, I just wanted to run 9's and the clock on the wall told me that I was holding that pace. My sweeties were there too, and ran a 5k in a time that was good for them.

Wednesday, Dec 3:

Woodbury Runners, 5.2 miles in 49:06, for a pace of 9:27. I suspect that the distance may actually be a little longer than 5.2, maybe a tenth or two more. It’s measured on Google Earth, which does not always take the jogs and jags of a trail entirely into account. Tonight the trail was snow-covered almost the whole way, not slippery but a little energy-sapping. Nevertheless it was a delight to run in the crisp 17-degree air on that crunchy snow. I walked up some hills and probably slowed down a bit toward the end.

This was a nighttime run on trails that are frequently in wooded areas and are unlighted. I wear a little LED lamp on the visor of my cap, but tonight when I ran alone for part of the run I also used a very bright handheld flashlight.

I was sick as a dog yesterday: fever, vomiting, dehydrated, and very sleepy. 24-hour stomach flu - fine today.

Monday, Dec 1:

Nice 4.4-mile run in local streets. A little snow, not enough to be dangerous or slow down the run. Uneventful. Temp 18. First mile 8:55, total time for 4.4 miles 40:33, overall pace 9:13. Plenty good for dex day.

Saturday, Nov 29:

Saint Croix Valley Runners, five miles as always. I started out in the back with Charlie, and after he split off to finish his shorter run I tried to catch up. Almost caught Wayne - finished about a half minute back in 43:28, which is 8:42 pace. Tempo run for me.

Thursday, Nov 27:

Thanksgiving morning. In the past few years I’ve sent out an email to the St Croix Valley Runners and we’ve done our standard Saturday morning run on Thankgiving morning. I did that this year too, but screwed up the email and sent it only to myself. Tsk.

Wayne showed up anyway, though, and we had an enjoyable run together, fairly well matched in speed. Then off to Thanksgiving dinner to compensate for the run and then some. Time 44:37, pace 8:55.

Wednesday, Nov 26:

Second run of the day. Woodbury Runners. I ran the 5.2-mile route with Rich, which is fairly easy for me and not quite so for Rich. He's a natural and would be as fast as me if he got the chance to run as much as I do, but I do enjoy taking it easy once in a while. That’s hard to do when I run by myself.

Trails were mostly clear of ice - just a few places I walked gingerly. Time 57:35, pace 11:04.

Wednesday, Nov 26:

Nice run in the local neighborhood, 5.1 miles, slightly hilly. My watch reset itself to Midnight Jan 1 during the run, so I don’t have the total time. 27:45 last 3.1 miles, which is a pace of 8:57. Enjoyable run, plenty cool.

I think that's my watch's way of letting me know it wants a new battery.

Saturday, Nov 22:

St Croix Valley Runners, another trail run to celebrate Roy’s long and faithful attendance at our regular Saturday runs. This time we ran in a Park Reserve, only a few miles from Stillwater, on a route that measured 5.3 miles on Google Earth. Finish time was 53:23, for a pace of 10:08. I was in the lead, so we couldn’t go very fast, and we did stop to reconnoiter a couple of times.

If I were a poet, I could write pages about this beautiful park, and especially this morning’s run. A very light, fluffy snow had fallen overnight, perhaps a half inch, so the snow was not enough to make the trail slippery but the runners in the back could follow the tracks of the runners ahead. Perfect quiet - no sound except the pad-pad of running shoes on half-frozen grass, and the conversation of the runners. Just a lovely time outdoors.

As an extra surprise, Roy himself showed up, though we thought he was gone for good. He doesn’t live here any more, but has reason to visit on weekends, and perhaps we’ll see him again. That would be nice.

No pains, no problems. Always nice to say after a trail run. Brooks Ghost shoes.

Thursday, Nov. 20:

North St Paul Community Center overhead track. Today’s pace was whatever felt good. Turned out to be just a little faster than Tuesday’s run, which is fine. I thought the last mile was a bit faster than the others, but it turned out it wasn’t reallyvery much faster.

No pains, no strain.

Splits: 8:48, 8:41, 8:40, 8:37, 8:33, total 43:19, pace 8:40.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Junk Miles

There is no such thing as junk miles. All injury-free miles at any speed are good miles.

Tuesday, Nov 18:

North St Paul Community Center overhead track, 81 laps for six miles. This time, just for amusement, I tried to hold the pace as close as possible to nine-minute miles without going over. On this track, that means exactly 40 seconds per lap, so there are 13 easily-calculated checkpoints in a mile. It worked OK - the splits were all under 9:00 and at least 8:57.

I wonder how far I can go running nine-minute miles. Today six miles, perhaps next week I’ll try eight - I think I could have done that today, but it might have been a tempo run. Now that the dexamethasone (dex) has been reduced again, to 8 mg per week, I should be able to get more speed or more endurance as muscles rebuild somewhat.

Splits:8:58, 8:59, 8:58, 8:59, 8:57, 8:58, total 53:49, pace 8:58.

Sunday, Nov 16:

North St Paul Community Center overhead track. I just ran a pace that felt good and clicked my watch any time a mile was finished. Since this was the third running day in a row, I only ran four miles. No knee problems today - no problems at all.

Splits: 8:50, 8:39, 8:39, 8:48, total 34:55, pace 8:44.

Saturday, Nov 15:

St Croix Valley Runners. What a nice run with Paul. He is coming back from an injury, otherwise he would be too fast for me now I think. But we chatted the whole way and still somehow finished in a sub-9 pace. Everyone else finished ahead of us, of course. I’m learning how it feels to be the slowest one. Five miles in 44:13, for a pace of 8:51.

I did have just the slightest twinge of pain in the right knee, that same pain which I believe to be due to ITB syndrome. But it disappeared immediately after we stopped running. I hope it was a solitary event.

Friday, Nov 14:

North St Paul Community Center overhead track, four miles in 35:22, for a pace of 8:51. No strain, no pain, some sweat, but this pace is easily maintained for four miles.

The three marathons are over, and there is not another within training range (16 weeks), so this is a time for easy runs to let the body recover. Dexamethasone makes the body heal more slowly, so a little down time is good. For me, that means no more than 20 miles per week, and few if any hard runs. Just keep moving ...

Splits: 8:54, 8:45, 8:50, 8:53, total 35:22, pace 8:51. Brooks Ghost shoes.

Tuesday, Nov 11:

North St Paul Community Center again, overhead track, 67.5 laps for five miles exactly. The idea was to run nine-minute miles and see if that felt like a race pace. It didn’t. Yay. Actually I finished the five miles in 43:36, for an overall pace of 8:43, aided a lot by a final mile at 8:06. I felt really good, just slower than I would have been a year ago.

In fact, looking back at the logs, my "natural" (easy but not too easy) pace last December was about 8:20 or so after the first mile, and today it seemed more like 8:55, the pace of the fourth mile. In that mile I didn’t look at my watch at all until the 12th lap (then only to be sure I had counted laps correctly), just ran a pace that felt good, about as fast as I could go and still get in four footfalls per full breath. In the last mile that went down to three, of course.

I’m going through all of the running shoes I have, to see whether I have any that will make my feet as happy as the discontinued Brooks Burn shoes. Darn them Brooks people - don’t seem to know much about running or runners, just marketing. Anyway today I tried some two-year-old Nike Pegasus shoes. They felt good, as did the Brooks Glycerine 5 shoes on Sunday, but they made the familiar flap-flap sound on the track. I’m sure they will on the road too. That noise doesn’t seem to slow me down - in fact I’ve known some elite runners whose shoes sounded worse, but I don’t like it. Feet may be happy, but ears aren’t.

Splits: 9:04, 8:43, 8:49, 8:55, 8:06, total 43:36, overall pace 8:43.

Sunday, Nov 9:

North St Paul Community Center indoor track. It’s that time of year again - we’re running indoors some of the time. Today I just wanted to see whether I could still do nine-minute miles for three miles, as I could do so easily last year.

Splits: 9:17, 8:43, 8:24, total 26:23, pace 8:48. So I did it, but it was a tempo run. Not a race pace, but nearly. Better than I thought I could do. One nice thing about running on the track - timing is exact, mile by mile. Brooks Glycerine 5 shoes were a little noisy on the track. Flap flap. My feet liked them though.

Saturday, Nov 8:

St Croix Valley Runners. Roy is one of the most faithful runners in the group, and has been running with them for a long time. His company has transferred him to another city, however, and this was his last run with us. In celebration of his years with the group, we ran a special route which included a few miles of trails, our first annual trail run in celebration of Roy. Afterward we all enjoyed breakfast at a local café.

The route was advertised as five miles exactly, according to George, but we got a little lost and repeated a portion of it. Windy, 32 degrees, and a few flakes of snow. 49 minutes - OK for 5+ miles on soft trails. Brooks Ghost shoes - they’re muddy now.

Three recent dinners:

Canned Alaskan sockeye salmon with yogurt & herbs, organic romaine lettuce with cucumber, organic blue corn chips, Sunshine's guacamole, plum, organic red wine vinegar.

Curried organic chicken, organic rice with cranberries, chard, and pine nuts, organic strawberries.

Dinner salad: Organic romaine with cucumber, beans from Don's mom & dad's garden, avocado, blue cheese, pimento-stuffed olives, sheep cheese, organic beef, organic red wine vinegar.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

North St Paul Community Center Track

Thursday, Nov 6, 2008:

We renewed our memberships at the North St Paul Community Center . This facility has a nice overhead track, about 13 laps per mile, with slightly banked corners. It really is pretty good for running - I’ve done 20-milers in there. And of course it includes a complete fitness center with dreadmills and the rest of the stuff. No pool, but the price is quite modest compared with commercial places like Lifetime Fitness.

Today I ran a pace of about 9:30 for about 30 minutes. Three miles or so. Nice run, with stretches afterward. First run after the weekend of heavy running.

Rocky's Run 5k Cross Country Race

Sunday, Nov 2, 2008:

Rocky’s Run 5k Cross-Country Race. This is the last race of the season for the Minnesota Grand Prix series of 13 races. It is held on the University of Minnesota Golf Course, and benefits the U of M track program. There is a 5k and an 8k, with the Grand Prix race alternating between those in alternate years. For the overachiever among us, there is also a double-header (both races, one after the other).

I’m always a little surprised at the amount of extra energy required to run on a golf course. Not only is it hilly, but the soft sod takes a little energy away on every step. Inevitably, I end up walking up the little hills toward the end of the race, and today was no exception. Perfect weather though.

I finished in 29:51, fourth of six in my age group. Good enough for the day after a marathon. The real goal was just to finish the 13th and last race of the Grand Prix series, one of three runners who have run all 13.

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon

Saturday, Nov 1, 2008:

Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. Not bad, not great. This was the first-ever running of this marathon. It had a few startup jitters, but not a lot. I ran 4:32:38, about four minutes slower than Des Moines two weeks ago. I should have been faster, because this course is flat, but for whatever reason I wasn’t faster.

Things I liked about the marathon:

  • Aid stations were frequent, more than one every two miles.
  • There were about 1100 marathoners and 1700 half-marathoners, a nice-sized race.
  • Much of the course was on tree-lined streets, ablaze in fall color.
  • The weather was very good, a little warm toward the end but quite tolerable.
  • Two or three aid stations had a table containing an assortment of gels. Nice.
Things I didn’t like as much:
  • Much of the course was on roads open to traffic, with cones separating runners from cars.
  • In a couple of places, drivers were stopped for a long time and got pretty angry. That’s not fun for anyone.
  • Aid stations were disorganized, with no convention for distinguishing between water and gatorade cups. You always had to ask.
  • Not many spectators.
  • There was no expo. I was actually counting on one, to buy some gels. Fortunately there were gels on the course.
As in other recent marathons, I slowed a lot after 20 miles, walking frequently. I just ran out of gas. Hip flexors started bothering at about the halfway point, but I found that if I did an exaggerated duck-walk I could stretch those body parts and make the problem disappear for a half mile or so. Yay. Now I will add a stretch like that to my regular daily routine and see if that fixes the hip flexor issue more permanently.

We bought gasoline for $1.93/gallon in Indianapolis. It’s a 10-hour drive.

Splits: 9:46, 9:04, 9:25, 9:33, 19:01 (2 mi), 9:34, 9:23, 9:40, 22:10 (2 mi, potty stop), 10:06, 9:45, 9:48, 10:30, 10:18, 10:51, 10:54, 10:39, 10:49, 11:05, 21:58 (2 mi), 12:54, 11:24, 11:47, 2:24, total 4:32:38, pace 10:24.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Running With Groups

Saturday, Oct 25:

St Croix Valley Runners. When we arrived at Northland Tennis Courts about two minutes before 7:00 am we were only the second car there. Then three more cars showed up, all just in time. Dave, Dave, Tom, & Roy all went out ahead of me, but I caught up to Dave & Roy at about the halfway point. Breathing was three footfalls per full breath, which is a race pace for me, and that continued through to the finish.

Five miles in 43:00, pace 8:36. I couldn’t have gone much faster, but that’s what I like to do the weekend before a marathon - a hard 5k, 8k, or 10k. Dark at the start, just the faint glow of sunrise 45 minutes away. That will improve after we switch back to standard time next Saturday evening, then it will gradually get darker again until December 21.

43 degrees again, no significant wind. I wore exactly the same running gear as last Wednesday evening. It was fine - a little too much if anything. Brooks Ghost shoes again.

Wednesday, Oct 22:

Woodbury Runners 5.2 miles in 57:27. I ran with Rich, well behind the larger group of faster runners. We took a shortcut again, running 5.2 miles to their 6.2, but finished after them anyway. Three days after a marathon, though, this was plenty fast and far enough. Pace 11:03. We did walk briefly in a couple of places where there were wet leaves on the dark trail.

43 degrees. I wore knee protectors (foam rubber sleeves), shorts, a long-sleeved shirt, a wind jacket, and gloves.

I tried the Brooks Ghost shoes again - they seemed better, with less foot-slap than I remembered, though still much more than the Burns have. They won’t become my new shoe of choice, but I probably will at least use up this one pair that I already have. 300 miles and out. Then what - I don’t know. Start trying out other brands I guess. Brooks has let me down, dropping the Burn with no replacement after I’ve bought 18 pairs and run 31 marathons and hundreds of other races in them. Sunshine and Sweet Pea have each bought almost as many pairs. Brooks certainly doesn’t deserve any loyalty.

Click to enlarge, then BACK to return here
This key ring just arrived in the mail today. Kinda cute. I think the organizers of the Lewis & Clark Marathon are trying to make it up to us for cancelling the marathon in mid-run.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Des Moines Marathon

The Des Moines Marathon is in the bag, another state, now 31 marathons in 18 states. I did not qualify for Boston, but I did finish in 4:28, which happened to be good enough for third of twelve in my 65-69 age group and ten minutes faster than I ran TCM two weeks ago. I collected a nice-looking aluminum water bottle for the effort.

Starting out, I wasn’t too impressed with this marathon. The runners’ instructions seemed to be designed for people who already knew what to do. They even say that a runner is responsible for knowing the race course, which is difficult at best for a visitor. I tried to find out where race gels might be handed out, so I could start with the right number, but didn’t find that information, though it could have been there. Two places, it turned out. The start was skimpy on spectators, and the few I saw were looking a bit glum at eight in the morning. Water stops were disorganized - sometimes the Gatorade was first, and sometimes the water. Sometimes the Gatorade was dispensed in the cups normally used for water. You really did have to ask.

But the positives FAR outweighed the negatives. After the half-marathoners split off, the spectators seemed to get with the program. As usual I wore my name on my shirt, and GO DON was a frequent greeting. Porta-johns were plentiful right from the beginning - you gotta love that. The race has an early start, so people who need more than seven hours can run it. Volunteers were everywhere - on bikes, on foot, in vehicles, and especially at every turn. Lots and lots of cheerful Iowa volunteers. Best example: A cheerful volunteer named Julie traveled on a bike with my sweeties all the way from mile 23 to the finish, just to be sure that they had water and anything else that was needed. This was especially comforting, because some of the earlier water stops had closed by the time my sweeties passed by. Thanks Julie!

Weather was excellent, almost perfect. 50 degrees at the start, 69 at my finish, with a brisk wind that actually felt quite good most of the time. And for some reason it seemed to come from behind more often than from the front - when does THAT happen? It’s not an "easy" marathon - there are some significant hills in the first 18 miles, but from that point on it is mostly flat.

I discarded a garbage bag almost immediately after the start, a long-sleeved shirt after about five miles, also improvised gloves and ear covers, finishing in a short-sleeved technical shirt, shorts, knee covers, and of course my Brooks Burn shoes.


  • Just before mile 13 we ran one loop of the marvelous 400-meter outdoor track at Drake University. Very cool.
  • Team In Training was there, raising money for blood cancers like mine, and I got the opportunity to thank several of them.
  • I started with the 4:15 pace team, but they went out too fast and I lost them.
  • I finished with the 4:30 pace team. For a while I fell behind them too, but I caught up again just before the finish line.
  • At about mile 22 a man who might have been my age passed me looking as if he was going exactly the pace he wanted to run. I tried to keep up but couldn’t.
  • Lots of runners saw "Minnesota Don" on my back and commented. Many were from Minnesota themselves.
  • I ran a Galloway-like system, run a mile walk a minute. I also walked up hills, and late in the race I walked more.
  • Most of the runners I talked to along the way were from Iowa, and mostly from Des Moines, but several were from Minnesota.
  • In fact, as the awards were announced, I heard Minnesota mentioned more than once.
  • The race route had some out-and-back sections, and I enjoyed seeing the other runners face on.
  • I did a lot of walk-run late in the race, and there were a few runners that I passed dozens of times. But that works for me.
All in all a nice marathon. I enjoyed it and recommend it.

Splits: 9:13, 9:02, 9:42, 19:33 (2 mi), 9:33, 9:58, 12:40 (major potty stop), 9:17, 9:21, 9:48, 9:30, 10:48, 11:24 (minor potty stop), 10:09, 9:28, 9:44, 10:20, 11:05, 10:55, 10:32, 10:49, 23:10 (2 mi), 11:04, 9:56, 1:59, total 4:28:58, pace 10:15. I can do better, so many marathons, so little time :-)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Marathon Recovery

Saturday, Oct 11:

"Tour de North St Paul" 5k race, benefiting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. They also fund myeloma research, so I’m delighted to support LLS because they support me. A very nice little race through North St Paul, including a short piece of the Gateway Trail.

57 degrees, time 27:02, pace 8:43. I could have run a 5k faster than this if I hadn’t just finished five miles with my Saturday group. Good enough for today. No pains - those were apparently worked out in the earlier five miles. Nice semi-sprint at the end.

Saturday, Oct 11:

St Croix Valley Runners, 7:00 am at Northland Tennis Courts, five miles as always, nice run with George and Wayne. Lots of other people showed up today too, several of them walking because of injuries from TCM. Lucky me - no injuries this time at TCM.

56 degrees, just a long-sleeved shirt & shorts, no knee cover. My right knee did send a little hint that it likes the knee warmers, so I will wear them in the foreseeable future. The hip flexors hurt a little too, but they calmed down after a few miles. Oh, to be young again. Time 45:30, pace 9:06. I thought we were going slower, actually. But breathing was easy all the way.

Friday, Oct 10:

Same as Wednesday, just a nice jog to keep things working. Almost the same times as Wednesday, too. Hilly route.

49 degrees, wore knee warmers. No pains. Splits: 9:10, 13:07 (1.5 mi), total 22:17, pace 8:55.

Wednesday, Oct 8:

First run since Sunday's Marathon. I like to wait until the third day afterward. Local roads for 2.5 miles, no particular hurry, just keeping the body parts working after TCM and for the next upcoming marathon. I wonder if I can run 4:15 there? That’s a Boston qualifying time for me, but it seems out of reach right now. Maybe if I lose a few pounds.

44 degrees, I wore tights and knee warmers. No pains. Splits: 9:18, 13:16 (1.5 mi), total 22:33, pace 9:01.

I was mighty disappointed to drive 1100 miles to St Charles Missouri and NOT run a marathon. Blog posts here and here. But this is a touch of class from the organizers. Nice plaque, plastic on wood.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Twin Cities Marathon

The most beautiful urban marathon in America. Usually. Today it was OK, but not so beautiful in the rain and mist. Fifty degrees with a facing breeze for most of the race and, for a while, a heavy rain. Nevertheless, the weather was WAY better than last year’s 85-degree scorcher, and no problem at all compared with the rain and wind we experienced at the Lewis & Clark Marathon three weeks ago, courtesy of hurricane Ike. No apparent danger, today, of the race course being flooded out. This rain was quite a bit colder though - my hands were reluctant to open the Clif Shot packs and my feet felt like stumps, but after getting out of the wet shoes and taking a warm shower I could feel my feet again. My 30th marathon is finished, and all is well.

Time: 4:38:44, pace 10:38, number 14 of 35 in my age group. Plenty good enough. Four minutes faster than Grandma’s Marathon, and this is a more-difficult course, but then Grandma’s was a warm race. Not quite comparable.

Complaints: Knees were FINE! Yay! The left calf threatened to cramp up much of the way, but it never did and finally it gave up and acted normal. Hip flexors were a problem - they started to hurt somewhere after the half, and just got worse as the miles rumbled by, eventually slowing me because it helped to walk a little. Toward the end I walked often. The hip flexors have bothered before, but they haven’t stopped the show. I was tired, too, and the walks were welcome.

Splits: 9:46, 9:49, 9:36, 10:09, 9:37, 9:38, 10:14, 9:17, 9:49, 12:50 (porta-potty), 9:39, 10:30, 9:49, 10:38, 10:17, 11:08, 10:12, 10:59, 10:52, 11:18, 11:35, 12:34, 12:27, 11:17, 11:46, 11:00, 1:57, total 4:38:44. I ran a Galloway-inspired "run a mile and walk a minute" system. That worked fine, and partly because of it, for the first time in 30 marathons I managed to click my watch at every single mile marker without missing one, because I looked forward to each mile with a little extra anticipation. I see that most of the miles up to 13 were under 10 minutes, and all of the miles after 13 were over. No surprise - I certainly could have been better trained. Caffeine gels every four miles and salt twice. I think the salt may have helped with the potential calf cramp.

Saturday, Oct 4:

Easy 3 miles or so with the SCV Runners, most of whom walked . But I prefer to run a few miles on the day before a marathon, or the day before that. No time or exact distance. Ready for the marathon. Or not, we’ll see.

Thursday, Oct 2:

Three plus miles on hilly local streets, no problems at all. I feel great! Early-morning runs are so enjoyable in the fall. Splits: 8:57, 8:47, 9:24 (1.1 mi), 1:46 (0.2 mi), total 28:54, overall pace 8:45.

Fruity breakfast
Recent fruity breakfast: Gluten-free oatmeal with organic flame raisins and dried cranberries, mango, kiwi, organic apricot, organic pecans, nonfat organic milk.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

No Pains

Lovely fall run with Rich before work, just 3.3 miles but that’s enough this close to TCM. The best part: No pains of any kind, especially the right knee. Temp: 50 degrees and breezy, time 36:42, pace 11:07. It’ll do just fine.

Dex lunch
Dex lunch: Organic romaine, cucumber, organic red wine vinegar, organic cottage cheese, cashews, sheep's milk cheese, organic sausage, organic mustard. "Dex" lunch because it's low in carbs, which is good for Monday, the day after I take dexamethasone.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

MMRF Race for Research

Sunday, Sep 28, 2008:

This is my race! I have myeloma, and they raise money for myeloma research. I had to be there and I wanted to be there. It’s quite a nice 5k, once around Lake Phalen, entirely on paved trails, well organized. Misty and cool this morning, 55 degrees, but we can’t change the weather.

Still worried about the right knee, I started off pretty carefully, wearing knee wraps (foam rubber tubes) and running on the flattest part of the trails. Hallelujah, no pain. None at all, not even a hint, all the way to the finish and beyond. I was able to pick up the pace a little as the mile markers went past, and finished in a respectable 26:09. Not good, but the goal was to run as gently as possible on that knee, with TCM looming just a week away, and that goal was met.

What happened to the pain? Why did it appear in the first place? Is it gone for good? Did the stretches fix it? The wraps? Running on the flat? Would it have shown up in a longer run? All questions, no answers, but I’m happy - it’s a masterpiece.

Splits: 9:10, 8:16, 7:59, 0:44 (0.1 mi), overall pace 8:26.

Carrie Tollefson’s grandmother died from myeloma, and Carrie comes to this race as a celebrity. As in years past, she started at the back and glided past many of us with encouraging words, a magnificent smile, and no apparent effort at all. She represents Minnesota very well.

Wednesday, Sep 24, 2008:

I attempted to run with the Woodbury Runners, planning for 5.2 miles, but after less than a mile the right knee hurt and it was clear that a longer run was not in my best interest. Rich circled Carver Lake once with me, and I stopped and came home.

Chicken dinner
Dinner: Organic roast chicken, onion and spices, watermelon, a good beer.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Six days off!

Saturday, Sep 20:

For various reasons I didn’t run for six days, and I needed a long run to prepare for TCM after the Lewis & Clark Marathon was shortened to ten miles. So I ran to the SCV Runners, ran with (behind) them, and then went to a local 5k race. Total miles 18, time unknown, though I did run nine-minute miles in the 5k.

Slight problem: Fairly serious pain on the very outside of the right knee, appearing about halfway in the 19 miles and continuing to the end. In fact, that pain is still there Sunday, the next day, even a little worse. Furtunately, though, the pain is not caused by putting weight on the knee but by motion of the knee.

My diagnosis: Illiotibial Band (ITB) Syndrome. I have been neglecting my stretches, so this is what I get. Prescription: Do the damn stretches, you moron! I have a short run scheduled for tomorrow, but I will cancel it if the knee still hurts. Must let the inflammation subside.

Lunch: Organic chicken, organic mustard, organic plum, organic chard with dried cranberries.

Lewis & Clark Marathon

Sunday, Sep 14, 2008:

Lewis & Clark Marathon. The marathon that wasn’t. They explain it here.

Hurricane Ike delivered six inches of rain in the hours just before the marathon, flooding out parts of the course and forcing the organizers to shorten the race to 10 or 11 miles. No marathon, no half-marathon.

I discovered:

  • Drenching rain coming sideways at 35 mph hurts more on the side of the face than on the front;
  • It’s sufficient to watch the feet of the runner in front - no real need to look up very often;
  • In a race such as this, there is no need to waste water by pouring in on the head;
  • Volunteers are truly heroic;
  • Spectators are totally amazing. Hard to believe, but there were a few;
  • A Timex really does take a licking and keep on ticking;
  • 66 degrees is plenty warm for running, except in drenching rain and a strong wind. I was glad I put a short-sleeved shirt over my singlet.
Hey, I won my age group! Four other old farts slogged along just a little slower than I did. My time: 1:43:06, for 10+ miles. Of course we all thought we were running a marathon until about mile eight or nine, so none of us was in a hurry.

We three were all pretty disappointed, after driving for nine hours and paying for a car and a hotel, but I suppose we can’t fault the race organizers. Except: It would have been nice if there was a way to finish a marathon, even by circling the block however many times or whatever, so that those of us who wanted to continue could rack up Missouri as a marathon state. Something for marathon organizers to ponder - contingency plans.

We three have had some interesting times:
  • The Chicago Marathon last year was cancelled because of high temperatures;
  • A three-alarm fire broke out along the course of the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon this spring, forcing the organizers to change the course in the minutes before the race start;
  • Ike clobbered the Lewis & Clark Marathon;
  • High temps caused Grandma’s Marathon to be black-flagged two years ago;
  • The Boston Marathon temperature was 85 at the start and 86 at the finish when I ran it in 2004.
Race directors are having second thoughts about inviting us to enter their race.

Splits: 8:52, 10:39, 9:55, 9:52, 10:14, 10:01, 43:54 (4+ miles), total 1:43:06. Total distance was between 10 and 11 miles. No pains, the body held up well.

Breakfast: Organic oatmeal with organic flame raisins and dried cranberries, blueberries, organic plum, organic nectarine, dark chocolate, pecans, organic nonfat milk.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Life Happens

I do NOT like Ike! We drove eleven hundred miles to run eleven miles. The Lewis & Clark Marathon was rained out. Flooded out, actually. Ike paid a visit to St Charles MO, leaving six inches of rain behind, and some of the race course ended up under water. Race organizers apparently had no alternative plans, so those of us who braved the horizontal rain ran a flood-shortened eleven-mile "half marathon" and got a half-marathon medal for our trouble. No marathon.


But it was a new experience, nonetheless. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

City of Lakes 25k

Sunday, Sep 7:

I’ve never run a 25k before, so in a sense this is a PR, 25k in 2:21:28, pace of 9:06, finishing 15th in a field of 31 men 60-69. Many of the fastest runners in the state showed up, so I got beat by the best. I’m happy with the result and especially with the race and how it felt. It was a masterpiece.

A 25k is about 15.5 miles, which is about 2.4 miles longer than a half marathon. I like both distances. 20k is nice too. Long enough that it’s not a grueling, gut-wrenching near-sprint, yet it isn’t totally exhausting like a marathon can be. In this case the organizers (MDRA) had a clock positioned at the half-marathon point so we runners could record our splits at that distance. My half-marathon time was 2:01:00, which is two minutes faster than I ran the Rochester Half Marathon two weeks ago. I like that for sure.

Overall this is a very good, well-organized race. Negatives: (1) It’s two and a half loops around lakes Harriet and Calhoun, so you see the same scenery more than once. I don’t mind, but some people do; (2) It’s slightly hilly, though not a lot. Positives: (1) Very well organized, with race numbers even mailed out in advance to pre-registrants; (2) All but maybe a mile and a half of the race is on roads that are closed to traffic, and that remainder is in one carefully-coned lane of Lake Street; (3) Lots of enthusiasm by the 1000 runners, many of whom come back every year; (4) Some of the most beautiful urban scenery to be found anywhere.

This year the weather could not have been more perfect. Though the forecast threatened rain showers and even possible thunderstorms, the sky was blue at the start with a few puffy clouds, temperature 55 at the start and 59 at my finish. The clouds grew thicker as I ran, so the sun was never a problem. Wind was modest and cooling; a technical short-sleeved shirt proved ideal for me.

Splits: 10:06, 9:07, 9:14, 9:07, 8:54, 9:35, 9:27, 8:42, 9:12, 9:08, 9:12, 8:51, 9:05, 9:30, 8:26, 3:53 (1/2 mi), total 2:21:28, pace 9:06. That pace would make a 4-hour marathon if it could be continued another 10.7 miles. I doubt I could, but maybe I can do a 4:15 marathon, which would be a Boston qualifying time. According to the splits on my watch, the pace for the last 1/2 mile (actually 0.5343 mi) was 7:27. Maybe it was - I did run like heck then, passing a lot of people, and even had a nice sprint with another 60+ runner in the last 200 meters or so.

Organic romaine lettuce, cucumber, Sunshine-made guacamole, organic plum, organic strawberries, organic red wine vinegar.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Three In A Row

Friday, September 5:

Three excellent miles with Rich and Jim, at rather a slow pace, but exactly what I needed today after 10 miles yesterday and a race coming up. Cool, 52 degrees, good conversation. Splits: 10:10, 11:06, 13:54 (1.3 mi), total 35:10, pace 10:39.

Thursday, September 4:

Sublingual B-12. Is it making a difference? My blood tests at Mayo show a low red-cell count and low hematocrit with red cells larger than normal. This can be a symptom of a vitamin B-12 deficiency. For a little over a week now I’ve been taking sublingual B-12 "dots" (tiny pills) just to see if it would make a difference. I won’t see another set of blood tests for a couple of weeks, but I did have a very good run today compared with some other recent runs. Ten miles in 1:29:30, pace 8:57, mostly on my favorite rock-strewn soft dirt trail, which feels slightly uphill in both directions.

If the B-12 is making a difference, it would do that by increasing red cell count, thereby increasing hematocrit, which in turn would provide better oxygen transport to the muscles. Or maybe it was just a good day. Breathing was normal most of the way, four footfalls per full breath.

Mostly cloudy and cool, about 55 degrees, my favorite trail, running doesn’t get much better. I love fall. It’s a masterpiece!

Splits: 8:35, 8:24, 9:08, 8:39, 35:42 (4 mi), 9:25, 9:36, total 1:29:30.

Wednesday, September 3:

Gloves felt good. Four and a half miles this morning, 52 degrees at the start and 53 at the end. My clothing chart says gloves only below 50 degrees, but with a 10 mph wind they felt good this morning. I have a very light pair that go easily in a pocket if my hands do get too warm. Long-sleeved shirt was nice too. Good run, mostly on low-traffic residential roads, no pains.

Splits: 9:05,30:35 (2.5 mi), 9:03, total 39:38, pace 8:48. Huh. Faster than it seemed - breathing was quite relaxed.

Breakfast   Post-run breakfast: Gluten-free oatmeal with organic flame raisins and dried cranberries, organic nectarine, organic walnuts, mango, banana, dark chocolate, nonfat organic milk.
Lunch: Curried free-range chicken, organic rice, Jim's tomato, blueberries.   Lunch
Dinner   Dinner: Leftover roast bison, organic carrots, baked salad a la Jim with Jim's veggies and more including tomato, egg plant, onion, rutabaga, broccoli, parmesan cheese, cottage cheese.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Victory 10k

Monday, Labor Day:

Hey, two minutes faster than I ran the Hennepin-Lake 10k. That’s great! Probably due to the reduced dosage of dexamethasone, down from twenty mg/wk to twelve. This was a warmer day, too, 70 at the start, humid and sunny. Perfect weather for Red State Republicans, who are in town for their Gustav-abbreviated convention. Does God really favor Republicans? :-)

Splits 8:09, 8:08, 9:16 (5k mark), 7:04, 8:28, didn’t record the rest, total 52:03 from the gun, pace 8:22, better than I thought I’d do. Sixth of 16 in my 5-year age group. I’ll take it! I did slow for the water stop on the way back, and took several other short walk breaks as well in the last mile. Had to. But no pains or other complaints.

The Victory Races are possibly the best of all for kibitzing with the other runners. The start and finish are the same place, there is a nice area for people to mix, and the frequent racers all show up, some of them even if they’re not running. Lloyd came down from Pine City for the 10k, this time to make a Minnesota 10k record for 85-year-old men, 56:49. He’s my hero, and he finished less than five minutes after I did. GO LLOYD!

The Victory 10k is an MDRA Grand Prix event with about 500 runners, and there is also a popular 5k starting 90 minutes later. In addition, for those who just can’t get enough, a double-header (run them both, add up the times). It would be hard to find a flatter course, except maybe the Park Point Five Miler in Duluth. If I only went to one race all year, the Victory races would be an excellent choice, second only to the MMRF Race for Research, a 5k that’s especially popular with me because it raises money for research on myeloma, my particular cancer.

Shoes: I tried the brand-new Brooks Burns (discontinued model) that Sunshine scrounged up on the internet and bought for me. They were just fine, my 18th pair. These are red-orange; all the rest are blue. I have enough Burns now to carry me through the next several marathons. I’ll use the Brooks Ghost shoes too - maybe I’ll get used to the pavement-slapping sound. The Burns are pussy-cat quiet; you are likely to hear my breathing before you hear footfalls.

Saturday, Aug 30:

St Croix Valley Runners, five miles in 45:11, pace 9:02. Ran with George and Mary today - George was doing 8 minutes running and one walking - Mary and I were plenty happy to walk each time the nine minutes were up. All in all I think we had 14 runners for a pleasant run on a nice 60-degree morning. No pains. It's a masterpiece.

Breakfast   Breakfast: Gluten-free oatmeal, blueberries, organic strawberries, cashews, nonfat organic milk.
Leftover lunch: Organic chicken breast, bison bratwurst, onion, organic mixed veggies.   Lunch
Dex dinner   Dex (low-carb) dinner: Curried organic chicken breasts and thighs, organic chard, organic strawberries, sparking water.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Galloway Method

Sort of. And by golly I think it works! Today I ran 20 miles using what I thought was the Galloway Method. I ran 9 minutes and then walked one minute, though after returning from the run and reading Jeff Galloway’s web site it appears that he would suggest a 4-to-1 ratio of running to walking at my pace, not 9-to-1. Nevertheless, the pace overall was 9:26, which is slightly better than the 20-mile run three weeks ago and darn near as good as the 9:23 pace for the Rochester Half Marathon last Saturday. Huh. I wonder if I’m slacking off a little in the races. The doctor reduced my dose of dexamethasone from 20 mg/wk to 12 - maybe that’s helping already after only one dose. Hope so.

Best of all, the pace for the last ten miles was actually a little better than for the first ten. I’m not getting fast, but the endurance is building. Almost ready for a marathon, and indeed this is the last 20-mile run before the first fall marathon.

I ran on the Gateway Trail again, very convenient for long runs, covering the distance between miles 8 and 18 twice, parking in the middle. Today’s weather was OK but not perfect for running. Temperature was fine at 63, but the humidity was 100% which makes running a bit harder. In fact, the trail was shrouded in a light fog, with mist, for the first 15 miles or so. I kept expecting the sun to break through, but the clouds, fog, and humidity won the battle until after the run was over. We did get almost three inches of badly-needed rain last night.

I wish I had asked some friends if they wanted to run with me, but I never got around to it until it was too late to ask. Should’ve called Randy and Tom anyway. My bad.

Splits: 9:47, 9:01, 10:05, 8:39, 8:29, 9:14, 10:36, 9:56, 9:54, 9:59, 9:47, 8:43, 9:14, 9:59, 8:51, 10:06, 9:42, 8:48, 8:52, 9:04, total 3:08:43, pace 9:26. Water every two miles, gels every four - mostly gels with caffeine, salt once. Breathing was four footfalls per full breath almost the whole way, except perhaps in the last mile or two when it went up to three footfalls per breath. 38 miles this week - not quite 40. Should I run the other two tomorrow? Nah. Leave well enough alone.

Monday, Aug 25:

Local roads, two miles, somewhat hilly. The idea was to keep the muscles in shape. I think this run did it. Pace 9:05, which is fine. Splits: 9:17, 8:52, total 18:09.

Breakfast   Breakfast: Gluten-free oatmeal, organic raisins and cranberries, organic grapes, organic plum, organic nectarine, macadamia nuts, organic fat free milk, organic pomegranate juice.
Salad: Organic romaine lettuce, Sunshine's organic guacamole, pecans, organic plum, mango, organic red wine vinegar.   Salad
Dinner   Dinner: Wild-caught Alaskan salmon with organic yogurt, organic peas, onions, two kinds of organic sweet potatoes.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Rochester Half Marathon

Saturday, Aug 23, 2008:

I’ve never run the Rochester Half Marathon before , even though it’s a Minnesota Grand Prix race. It’s a pretty nice race, with a much better course than either Mora or New Prague, because a lot of the race is on shaded bike trails. Today was about as good as it gets in August, 61 degrees with a cooling west wind and low humidity. My only complaint (if I were to complain) would be that I missed most of the mile markers. They are stuck to orange cones, there are a LOT of other orange cones on this course, and my attention span is modest at best while running.

But volunteers were super, organization seemed competent and experienced. We three stayed at the Holiday Inn Express overnight, after visiting Mayo Clinic the day before, and that was perfect. The start line was right at the hotel’s front door, so we literally used the bathroom in our room five minutes before the gun. And the race-special room rate was quite decent. To top it off, when we needed a late checkout they gave us an extra two hours.

I finished the race in 2:03:05, about ten minutes slower than I ran the New Prague half marathon in May and twenty minutes slower than my PR. I’ve been able to train harder for this one than for New Prague, though, so I think the the difference in time is entirely attributable to the medicines that I am taking for the myeloma. Pace: 9:23 here, 8:39 in New Prague, I did walk occasionally in both races. I was fifth of nine in my age group here, right in the middle. Best of all, I’m still alive and feeling well. Life is good - I’ll take it. Live one day at a time ... and you know the rest.

I raced in my new Brooks Ghost shoes, and they were fine. But there is a little foot-slap, so I still like my old Brooks Burns better. Sunshine recently found some leftover Burns for me on the internet, so I can postpone making a final decision for another 300 miles of running, at least two months.

After the race I had a beer and then went back to run in with my sweeties. It’s a masterpiece.

Thursday, Aug 21:

This morning I ran with friend Rich, who hadn’t run much since Grandma’s, so we took it very easy. Four miles in 44:50, for a pace of 11:13 or so. Some walking, especially up hills. I’m feeling tightness in the right hip flexors now when NOT running, but I didn’t feel anything during the run. I hope they’re not going to be a problem.

Forty miles this week, and planning forty more next week, which will be the last 40-mile week for a couple of months if our marathon plans work out as we hope. We have several marathons scheduled, and I don’t run 40 miles during a marathon taper or the week of a marathon. We’ll see.

Salad and dinner

Salad and dinner: Organic romaine lettuce, avocado, organic seedless grapes, free-range chicken, organic red wine vinegar.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Good Runs

Tuesday, Aug 19:

Ten miles on my favorite dirt trail along the railroad tracks. No train came by today, sad to say, but the east-facing signal light was red when I left the tracks, so I suppose a train was coming along soon from the west. 70 degrees, nice cooling SE breeze. Just a good summer morning to run.

This was one of those days when I felt stronger at the end of the run than at the beginning. I really like that! I’d love to figure out how to have it that way on every run. Perhaps it’s just a natural benefit of the 40-mile weeks and 18- to 20-mile runs I’ve been able to put in recently, now that I’m running injury-free.

Splits: 9:28, 9:00, 9:33, 46:09 (5 mi), 9:25, 8:32, total 1:32:06, pace 9:13. Huh - that’s not a bad pace for the soft, rock-strewn trail. No pains at all - especially not the ankle ache that appeared yesterday on my day off from running. Stretches afterward, as I always intend but don’t always get done. Experience teaches that those stretches are very important to me in preventing future injury.

Sunday, Aug 17:

After 18 miles yesterday I just ran four today, on the shaded grass trails in the park, walking up most of the hills. There are lots of hills. I just ran for 20 minutes and then headed back for the car, though by a different route. 40 minutes is four miles in my book. No pains, no problems. Already 22 miles toward 40 for the week, life is good.

Breakfast   Breakfast: Gluten-free oatmeal, blueberries, plum (one), walnuts, dark chocolate, nonfat organic milk.
Salad: Organic romaine lettuce, Sunshine's homemade guacamole, organic blue-corn chips (from Target, of all places), organic apricot, jicama, organic red wine vinegar.   Salad
Salmon dinner   Dinner: Canned wild-caught Alaskan sockey salmon with jogurt, organic mixed vegetables, organic nectarine.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

33 Miles and a Dog Bite

Saturday, Aug 16:

Saturday, if there is not a race, it’s time to run with the St Croix Valley Runners, who assemble at Northland Tennis Courts in Stillwater at 7:00 am. This morning I ran from home to Northland, then ran with the group, then back, for a total of 17.8 miles. I didn’t feel too energetic for some reason, and the 9:59 pace showed it, but the run went OK with no pains of any kind. Charlie and I ran with George today, who was alternating seven minutes of running with one of walking, and we were more than happy to accommodate him on the walks. I walked other times on the solo portions of my run too, whenever I felt like it. Gels three times, water every mile or two.

This was the first really long run with the new Brooks Ghost shoes - they were OK but I still like the Burn better. There’s a little foot-slapping, and one toe hurt more than usual. The Ghosts will do, but they don’t quite delight me. Too bad Brooks stopped making the Burn. Maybe I’ll look around for another shoe brand.

Thursday, Aug 14:

Dog bite - sort of. Again my sweeties and I went to the Gateway, though in separate cars because we had different goals. I started at the Hwy 96 horse bridge and went south first, intending to run just to milepost 13 and then reverse up to milepost 18 and back. On the way to 13, I was intercepted by an unattended, playful, but powerful pit bull dog, which thought of my arm as a chew toy until a few stern words calmed it. The dog didn’t really clamp down, but its sharp teeth did scrape some skin off, with enough blood to drip a little. The dog had a collar but no nearby owner.

Concerned for the many children that use the trail, I called 911 and officer Joel came, but the dog was gone. The next day we three trolled the nearby neighborhood for a young calico-colored pit bull, coming up empty. One of the residents said that a dog can get on that trail and go for miles, and of course that could have been the case with my happy-go-lucky friend.

I also called my doctor, to discover that he takes Fridays off. A nurse called back, but had no useful advice: "Well, if you want to have the rabies shots, you can go to the hospital to get them." She seemed less knowledgable than I about WHETHER to get them, which is hard to imagine. I’m assuming that a rabid dog would not be happy and playful as this youngster was, so I’ll skip the shots and take my chances - I’m sure there is a risk to the shots too. Meantime the injury is not at all inflamed.

I’ve considered bringing a weapon (knife with locking blade) on future Gateway trips, but I suppose I won’t. Even a pepper spray would teach a dog the wrong lesson. As always the real problem is not the dog but the owner, and this is the first trouble I’ve had on the Gateway in hundreds of miles of running.

Otherwise the run was a complete success. Ten miles in 1:35:25, for a pace of 9:33, which is comparable to other recent runs. No pains! Splits: 9:36, 18:08 (2 mi), 9:03, 10:30, 8:37, 9:11, 9:24, 10:17, 10:40.

Wednesday, Aug 13:

My sweeties and I went to the park and I just ran for 25 minutes, then came back. By the time, 49:29, I assume that I ran at least 5 miles, so that’s what goes in the log. This was a warm run, but no problems of any kind. I did walk occasionally, which seems to be normal these days.

Lunch   Lunch: Two low-fat bison bratwursts with organic mustard on a bed of organic lettuce, organic mixed vegetables, and an organic nectarine.
Salad: Organic romaine, hydroponic cucumber, giant stuffed olives, organic strawberries, blue cheese, and organic red wine vinegar. Salad
Dinner Dinner: Grass-fed bison, spinach quiche with lots of organic spinach, sweet potato, organic strawberries. I went back for seconds.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Perfect Weather

Sunday, Aug 10:

For running. Ten miles today, mostly on my favorite dirt road alongside the railroad tracks. 52 degrees when I started, ideal for a t-shirt, shorts, shoes, and a visor to handle the rising sun. Cool enough I almost wished I had gloves - this is the weather I wait for all year. I flushed up two coveys of pheasants resting in the weeds along the tracks, saw plenty of bunnies and red-winged blackbirds. Running doesn’t get much better.

Following 36- and 40-mile weeks, this next week will be a cutback week, only 30 miles, intended to help consolidate the benefit of the previous two weeks of training and to encourage the body to recover and heal if any injuries have started. With five miles yesterday and ten today, the 30 miles are already half-completed. No pains today - all is well. I think maybe I can stop using the hip flexors as an excuse to walk up hills now - time to run up a few hills and see what happens :-)

Splits: 9:16, 9:03, 57:06 (6 mi), 9:02, 9:03, total 1:33:30, pace 9:21, very good considering that more than six miles of the run was on the soft dirt trail and I slowed four times for water. Further, I stopped once for a pee break, without stopping the watch, and reversed briefly to run with friend Luke who happened to run by in the other direction. I’m happy with the time, and best of all I found myself getting stronger in the last miles, rather than weaker. That is a happy sign. On the advice of our naturopath I have started eating more meat recently - perhaps that helps.

Saturday, Aug 9:

Saint Croix Valley Runners, five miles as always. Several of our group ran the Gopher to Badger Half Marathon today, and I had visions of having to run alone. Not so! Cal showed up for the first time in over a year, along with Burr and Luke, Mary, Roy, Dave1, Dave2, Doug, plus my sweeties, we had a decent size running group.

I felt tired this morning, and attributed it to the 20-mile run just a couple of days ago. That could be a reason. Roy and Dave ran my pace, and we three finished in 45:12, for a pace of 9:02. I like to be under 9:00, but today this will do.

Breakfast Three breakfasts. On top of the oatmeal: organic walnuts, blueberries, organic strawberries, organic cashews, mango, Dove dark chocolate, papaya, organic nectarine, banana, organic brazil nuts, organic nonfat milk.

Friday, August 08, 2008

That's More Like It

Two very nice runs, including a long one.

Thursday, Aug 7:

Friend Tom joined me for the first 8.7 miles of a 20-mile run on the Gateway Trail. I like to start near the middle, run about five miles in one direction and back, then about five in the other direction and back. Doing it that way I can get water and gels from the car at the halfway point, and I can fairly easily cut the run short if need be. That’s what we did today, running between mileposts 8 and 18, eventually covering all that ground twice.

What a great summer morning to run! Average temp about 66 degrees with a dew point of about 55, it felt cool in the shade and warm in the sun. Happily, that part of the Gateway offers more shade than sun. At one point a full-grown doe walked out on the adjacent horse trail and watched me run by not ten feet from her. She looked to be in better shape than me, though maybe a little more nervous.

After about ten miles I did feel some pain in the right hip flexors, and I considered shortening the run, but it actually went away in a mile or two. After about fifteen the left calf tensed up a little, as if if might cramp up, but it didn’t, and I stretched out that tenseness when the run was over. In all, I felt wonderful after finishing the 20 miles. Tired is a good feeling.

Splits: 9:50, 8:49, 9:46, 8:19, 8:34, 8:58, 9:49, 9:34, 9:59, 9:12, 10:40, 8:29, 9:13, 9:36, 10:56, 10:26, 9:43, 10:11, 9:23, 9:31, total 3:10:56, overall pace 9:33. Tom and I ran the first 8.7 miles at a pace of 9:11, but I slowed a bit in the second half of the run. I did stop the watch a couple of times at bathrooms. I walked to take water every two miles and gel every four, and several times on short hills, but kept the watch running for those of course. This was a 40-mile week, and hopefully there will be more.

Tuesday, Aug 5:

The schedule said to run four miles today and five tomorrow, but I felt good and decided to run nine today and do resistance training tomorrow.

The northeast 10 miles of the Gateway trail are SUCH a great place to run in the summer, if you don’t need to do hill training. It’s not perfectly flat, there are some long, gentle slopes and even a few short hills. Much of it is shaded and protected from wind, there are few roads to cross, and of course there is NO motor-vehicle traffic on the trail.

Today there were plenty of other people, on foot, bikes, and skates, but not enough to be a traffic problem. Kind of nice, actually, to think that if something happened on this otherwise-secluded trail someone might soon be along to help. I started at Pine Point Park, ran down to the Highway 96 "horse bridge" and back, about 8.7 miles.

I did pretty well, considering it’s just the 2nd day after dexamethasone. Dex interferes with glucose uptake by the muscles. According to what I think I know about dex and me, the effect is maximum on Monday, the day after I take the dex (I take it Sunday nights), about half that on Tuesday, 1/4 on Wednesday, 1/8 on Thursday, etc. Very approximately. So by the time of the weekend races the effect should be negligible. But I don’t think it really bothered me much even today, which is great. My pace was 9:05 overall, not so much slower than the 8:45 pace of the 10k race two days ago. Perhaps I should have pushed harder in that 10k!

The run was uneventful, except I twice met my sweeties going the other direction. That’s nice. 70 degrees, dew point 62, some cross-breeze, it almost felt cool in the shade. But not in the sun. Breathing four footfalls per full breath outgoing, mix of four and three returning, brief walks occasionally to restore a rate of four, then pretty soon breathing harder again.

Splits: 8:53, 8:38, 9:03, 9:52, 9:07, 8:46, 9:33, 8:06, 6:44 (2/3 mile), total 1:18:45 for 8.7 miles, pace 9:05, even with the short walks. Hoo ha. It’s a masterpiece.

BreakfastStandard breakfast: Irish oatmeal, blueberries, organic strawberries, organic walnuts, organic nectarine, organic nonfat milk.
Potpourri lunch, otherwise known as leftovers in a ball gown: Low-fat bison sausage, lamb, organic chard, organic peas, organic sweet potatoes, organic squash, organic tomatoes, organic strawberries, organic cherries. Sorry the picture is not focused - I must have had the wrong setting on the camera - all five shots were bad. But the meal was great.Lunch
DinnerSalmon dinner: Wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon (canned), organic baby peas, organic nectarine.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Hennepin-Lake Classic 10k

Sunday, Aug 3:

The Hennepin-Lake Classic 10k is always a hot race, held in the first week of August. I almost dread it because of that, but it’s mostly flat and can be a PR course for some. For a year or two it was my PR course. Today’s race was 72 degrees, overcast, and breezy, about as comfortable as any Classic I’ve run. I ran slowly, but probably could have run a little faster because I was able to speed up in the last mile. Finished 4th of 9 in my age group though, good enough for now. Maybe someday I’ll get some speed back.

Splits: 8:52, 9:04, 8:56, 8:33, 9:06, 8:15, 1:33 (0.2 mi), finish time 54:18, pace 8:45. No pains of any kind. It’s a masterpiece!

Saturday, Aug 2:

I wanted to run easy today, and short, and so did George. While the real studs of the St Croix Valley Runners were finishing their five miles in 37+ minutes, we two loped along and did 3.4 miles in about 34 minutes for a pace of 10 minutes per mile. We actually ran four minutes and then walked one, repeating, so I’m a little surprised that we even went that fast. This morning’s temperature was cooler than it has been lately, in the high sixties, a welcome respite. Humid though - the fast runners were literally steaming when they finished. Slight soreness in my right hip - I don’t recognize it as anything I’ve felt before, and suspect it’s from sleeping badly on that hip. It’ll go away. The new Brooks Ghost shoes felt just fine.

Friday, Aug 1:

About six miles in the relative cool of the morning, running in the park with my two sweeties. We agreed to meet back in an hour, and I took the paved trails this time because, though I like running on grass, the grass trails were very wet with dew. 5.7 miles in 55:48, pace 9:47. I did walk up several hills to spare the hip flexors, at least that’s my excuse. No pains of any kind.

LunchLunch: Low-fat bison sausage with organic mustard, organic plum, Jim's cabbage with tomatoes, parmesan cheese.
Low-carb low-fat dex salad: Organic romaine with cucumber, pistachios, organic strawberries, organic red wine vinegar.Salad
DinnerHigh-protein low carb dex dinner: Wild-caught sockeye salmon, organic broccoli, parmesan cheese, organic strawberries.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Brooks Ghost Shoe Review

In six years of running I’ve gone through eighteen pairs of Brooks Burn running shoes, using them both for training and for racing all distances up to and including 29 marathons. The Burn was marketed as a lightweight, neutral trainer for the biomechanically efficient runner who needs cushioning but little more. Then Brooks stopped making them. The brand new Ghost appears to be marketed to the same neutral, biomechanically efficient runners, but that information comes only from the web sites that are selling the shoe.

I can’t find the Ghost on Brooks’ own web site - why on earth wouldn’t Brooks want to give a new product a good kickoff with solid information about it on their own site? That’s very lame. Brooks Ghost size 11 1/2

I bought my new Brooks Ghost shoes from RnJ Sports, where I’ve bought most of my pairs of Burn, Burn 2, and Burn 3 shoes. They are just getting stocked up on the Ghost - I had to phone them to order. Their price is good, and shipment is immediate and free. Their return policy is draconian, however: "All returned merchandise must be 100% new and unused," plus there are restocking fees. They really seem to want you to buy your first pair from someone else with a better return policy. I did check the fit on these carefully before running anywhere in them.

Brooks Ghost Shoe Review

I’ve run in the new Ghost twice now, 6.6 miles on pavement and about 14 miles on a mix of pavement, gravel, sand, and grass. The shoes performed well in both runs. Specifics:

  • Weight: I had read on a running magazine site that the Ghost would be heavier than the Burn, but in my size, 11 ½, they weight exactly the same, 25 ounces for the pair.
  • Size: I had also read that it might be necessary to order a half-size larger than the Burn size, but these seem to have the right amount of toe space.
  • Fit: This is why I stick with Brooks - the Burns fit so well, with almost no blister problems, and there is nothing more important than fit. The fit of the Ghost seems as good as the fit of the Burn, so far.
  • Shape:
    • Toe Box: Recent incarnations of the Burn have had a narrowed toe box. The new Ghost appears to have a wider toe box, but I think that’s an optical effect created by the upper shoe trim, and the toe box is actually about the same as the Burn 3.
    • Sole: The bottom of the Ghost is flatter than the bottom of the Burn, which curves more from the ball of the foot to the heel, and the Ghost lacks the "lateral arch pod." Because of this, the Ghost tends to "slap" a little more on the pavement when I run. I don’t like that but I can deal with it; maybe it will get better as the shoe wears.
    • Toe: The toe curves up more than the Burn. No problem so far.
    • Width: Both are D width and they feel about the same.
  • Tread: Appears to be a little more aggressive than the Burn 3. Nevertheless, when I ran the Ghost on gravel roads and sandy trails the tread did not pick up many rocks. The Burn shoes would occasionally pick up a small pebble and drop it into the other shoe, which has not happened with the Ghost.
  • Color: Blue and white, who cares?
  • Cushioning: I don’t sense much difference between the Burn 3 and the Ghost. I’ve read that the Ghost is supposed to be more responsive (does that mean bouncy?), but it might take a more sophisticated runner to detect that. I still had to do the work. Maybe I’ll try Burn on one foot and Ghost on the other.
  • Manufacture: Both are made in China.

Today’s run: About 14 miles on a mix of trails and roads, mostly in a lovely park not too far from home. Part of the run was with friend Cal - it’s nice to run and chat. I walked up some hills because the right hip flexors were sending signals. Part of the run was on wooded, grass trails - I liked that the best on such a warm and humid morning. I carried water and munched on Clif Shot Bloks.

Monday, July 28:

The idea today was to run six fairly flat miles in the new Brooks Ghost shoes, to try them out. No problems to speak of. 6.6 miles in 1:04:07, pace 9:43. Compared with my old Brooks Burns, the new shoes slap a little more on blacktop surfaces when I run, but that’s about the only significant difference. They’re the same weight and seem to have about the same cushioning. I’m not sophisticated enough to rate them on "ride" but I don’t notice a difference. Soon I’ll try them on a longer run.