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.