Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Two Runs

Tuesday, December 29, 2009:

Stillwater Bubble this morning, just trying to get in some quality miles. No sprinting, no walking, just running. I measured the pace twice, and both times it was about 104 seconds for a full loop, which calculates to a pace of about 9:11. So I say the overall pace was probably about 9:20, and I ran for 73 minutes, for a distance of about 7.8 miles. I was shooting for 8 miles, but time ran out. This was close enough! No pains, no soreness. It’s a masterpiece.

Then it was 10:00 am and the softball guys’ turn to have the bubble. I watched a little as I cooled off and did my stretches, and was surprised to see that it took more than three outs to get a side out. Turns out that they play two innings per side, just to save the time required to change teams on the field. If a batted ball hits the ceiling of the bubble or one of the wires that go across the middle, the ball is playable nonetheless, but very difficult to catch and therefore good luck for the batter. "Just a bunch of old guys having fun," said one of the players. They sure were enjoying themselves, and not all of them were old. What a great use of that facility. I’ll just have to get there early enough to finish my run before 10:00 am.

The outdoor temperature Tuesday morning was about zero, but the bubble is partially heated and I suppose it was between 40 and 45 degrees in there. Someday I’ll bring a thermometer. I was comfortable in shorts and two technical shirts, one of them long-sleeved, plus gloves. Most of the runners wore tights, and the walkers were mostly dressed in their winter coats. The temperature got boosted a bit for the softball games, to maybe 55-60 degrees.

Saturday, December 26, 2009:

St Croix Valley Runners after the snowfall. We got about a foot of snow, mostly Christmas eve and Christmas Day. So we ran the normal "old" route, which is mostly on plowed roads. No problem. I picked up Jim and we ended up running together, with Gauss and Dave following behind at a much slower pace. Five miles in 47:25 for us, which comes to a pace of 9:29. I thought it would be a little faster, actually, because it seemed like a lot of work, but it’s hard to make good time in winter clothing and on ice and packed snow. It will do.

These days we get to watch the sunrise as we run, and this was a pretty good one. It’s a masterpiece.

Would you believe mac n' cheese?  Gluten-free and mostly organic.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

I’ve been thinking about doing some speed work, and I can't really do much at the "club" where the track is pretty short, so I asked my friend Don Dornfeld where he did his. He uses an enclosed soccer field in his town, open for walking and running some of the time. That sounded like a good idea, so Thursday we three shoveled snow for an hour or so and then went to the St. Croix Valley Recreation Center in Stillwater.

Part of the complex of buildings is an inflated dome enclosing two side-by-side soccer fields. We three call it the “Bubble.” It’s open to the public on weekdays for walking or running, from 6:00 am to 10:00 am, free on Wednesdays, $2.00 other days, $0.50 for seniors. It’s heated, but not much, perhaps 40-45 degrees or so. I was comfortable in shorts and two technical shirts, one of them long-sleeved. Gloves felt nice. There is no wind, of course  :-)

The bubble has plenty of room to walk or run around the outside lines of the fields, almost exactly 1000 feet per loop, about 300 meters, 5.3 loops per mile. The diagonal is about 358 feet, or 109 meters, and the long sides are 285 feet, or 86 meters. Those are the longest straight-line sprints available, and the diagonal is not always available because of dividing nets between the soccer fields.

But the diagonals were available Thursday, and I ran them a half dozen times at full sprint, or nearly so, plus a few sprints on ta long side. Quads were still a little sore from Sunday’s races. In between I jogged at a pace of about 9:15 minutes/mile or so, for a total of 47 minutes, so probably about 5 miles. I need to read up on speed training, because I have no idea what I’m doing.

During the run we were amused by patches of snow sliding off the bubble. The roof was translucent enough that the previous night's 7-inch snowfall was visible as a dark area above us, and every now and then we would hear a swoosh sound, rising in pitch, and we would look up to see a dark patch accelerating off to the side and then toward the ground. Pity the person standing there. :-)

I was unusually tired Thursday after all that. Christmas eve, and we went to bed at the normal time but slept in Christmas morning. Nice. Feeling much better. Merry Christmas to all.

Christmassy breakfast. Oatmeal underneath.  The red is pomegranate seeds:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sore Muscles

My quads are sore from Sunday. That’s a good thing, because it means that those muscles are learning a lesson about speed. But it also meant that today’s run should be a recovery run. Now I don’t really know what “recovery run” means except that I probably shouldn’t push those muscles very hard or run too far. So the rule for today was to run six miles at a pace SLOWER than nine-minute miles. I almost made it - the last mile was one second too fast. Tsk.

Splits: 9:42, 9:02, 9:01, 9:04, 9:03, 8:59, total 54:50, pace 9:08. I’ll take it. Muscles feel better than they did before the run.

This morning's post-run brunch. Pears are a Christmas gift from our West Coast son, delivered through Harry & David. We found two different brands of organic kefir at Fresh & Natural on north Lexington. That's the white stuff. The Christmas cookie is gluten-free, of couse.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Indoor Track Racing

Indoor Track Races by Charities Challenge at Bethel University, Snelling at I-694. We enjoy these events and wish there were more than five per year. Two have gone by now, including this one, with three left in January and February 2010. We missed the first one because we were in New Orleans, but glad we made this one. The deal is that you pay a single fee for running the first step, and then you can run to your hearts content (being careful not to be in the way of racers) and you can enter any number of the events.

Today there were races for 60 m, 200 m, 400 m, 800 m, one mile, and 1-mile race-walk. Most of those races had more than one heat, and if so, you can enter multiple heats if you’re a glutton for punishment. One guy who did that says "train by racing!" Indeed.

There is a good spirit in that place. People are very, very supportive and there are plenty of spectators. Todays racers ranged in age from 5 to 71, including some of the best runners in Minnesota. I mostly just ran around the track today, both directions to reduce the annoyance on my adductors, but I did run the 200 m in 39 seconds, four or five seconds longer than my best time in 2007. I also ran an untimed 60 m dash by myself, just to see how it felt. Felt good!

Otherwise, 8 miles of running, not all at once but also not including any walking or racing. Most of that was at a pace of 9:15 or so I think. It’s a masterpiece!

Breakfast with a Christmas theme.  Indeed there is oatmeal under there.  The milk is actually organic kefir.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Feel-Good Run

Is it real, or is it psychological? I’m off the DEX and today’s run felt very good. Five runners today, I hung with the back two for the first four miles and then found myself out ahead by several paces so I moved ahead to the first two runners, George and Kent, catching them with less than a half mile to go. At that point George wanted to drop back, so Kent and I ran for the finish. He’s much faster, but I went as fast as I could and he just kept pace, for a lovely sprint to the finish line. That is so invigorating! What a treat. I know it’s risky, but it sure felt good, and I got away with it.

My overall time today wasn’t impressive, really, 47:28 for five miles, pace of about 9:30. I ran a lot faster than that on the indoor track this week, but then I wasn’t slipping around on packed snow or wearing several pounds of winter clothing. This felt good, and it IS a masterpiece!

Wild-caught Alaskan salmon with yogurt & a little cheese, organic plum, organic greens, organic peas.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

We Moved Indoors

Sunday we renewed our membership at the North St Paul Community Center (NSPCC). It has a very nice upper-level indoor track, 13.5 laps per mile, clockwise on odd days and counter-clockwise on even days. It's not as nice as running outdoors, but better than a treadmill. Plus there is a treadmill if necessary, and lots of other training equipment.

Thursday, December 17:

NSPCC indoor track once more. Good run today, six miles at a pace faster than 9-minute miles, today the place was cool upstairs, as it should be. No red face, no lightheadedness. I wore the Burn shoes.

Splits: 9:22, 8:47, 8:38, 8:42, 8:54, 8:56, total 53:18, pace 8:53.

Tuesday, December 15:

North St Paul Community Center indoor track again. This time I forgot my watch, and the second hand on both clock is broken, so there was really no way to time the laps accurately. Golly, I had to just run and wonder how I was doing :-)

That should be easier, I suppose, relieved of the yoke of the 40-second lap, 9-minute mile. And it felt that way at first. I set the pace according to breathing, keeping it at four footfalls per breath most of the way. The outdoor temperature was minus two, so the heating system in that place was working overtime, apparently not yet adjusted correctly for winter. The track was 80 degrees or more at one end and 65 at the other, my estimate. I ran 55 minutes, which should be at least 6 miles. No walking.

A little light-headed and red-faced (sez Sunshine) afterward, I suppose that was due to the fluctuating temperature. I hope it wasn’t in some way due to the Brooks Launch shoes - I wore my old Burns on Sunday, without those symptoms afterward. Unlikely.

Sunday, December 13:

North St Paul Community Center indoor track, 13.5 laps per mile. This was a tempo run, just under a race pace. Breathing was easy for the first mile or two, then settled down to four footfalls per breath for most of the rest, going to three footfalls in the last mile or so. A hard run for me, but good training.

Splits: 9:18, 8:46, 8:34, 8:38, 8:31, 8:49, total 52:35, pace 8:46.

Saturday, December 12:

St Croix Valley Runners, about five degrees above zero. We ran Wayne’s Route, a figure-8 course that goes around Lake McKusick. Six of us this morning. I ended up running by myself between three faster and two slower guys. I didn’t start my watch at the beginning of the run, apparently, so I don’t have the exact time for the five miles, but it was about 40 minutes. Not good, but OK for winter running.

My feet got really cold, though, not quite numb but almost. I don’t recall that from previous years. Same shoes & sox that I wear in the summer, as I’ve always done in the winter before. I wonder if my feet will get used to the cold, or will I have to come up with cold-weather footwear?

Taco salad, mostly organic.  I had seconds.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I Love To Run In New Orleans

Tuesday, Dec 8, 2009:

New Orleans once more, the last day before boarding the train back to St Paul. I started toward the Convention center on the Riverwalk, turned around at the fence (what a shame that fence is there) and back toward the other end of the Riverwalk. About then I hooked up with another runner, Vasquez, who turned out to be from Ecuador on business. He asked me how far I was going, so I told him about 30 minutes more, and he asked if we could run together. Cool. We ran through the French Market, then further into the French Quarter, and finally, after getting lost once, back through Bourbon Street again. I love doing that. It’s the best way to cruise Bourbon Street.

He left me at Canal Street, and I ran another mile or so in the Neutral Ground (median) in Canal Street, then stopped at the beer store for a six-pack of local brew and walked to the hotel. About four miles in about 39 minutes. I gave Mr Vasquez my email address, but never heard from him.

Sunday, Dec 6, 2009:

The IMF, or someone with whom they work, wanted some photos of me running, so I spent most of an hour running little jogs toward the professional cameraman. From there I took off downriver on the Riverwalk, cruising around the eastern end of the very commercial end of the French Quarter, and finally back to the Windsor Court Hotel by way of Bourbon Street.

The Saints game was in full swing during this stretch, and I could hear either a cheer or a groan as I passed each bar on Bourbon Street. There are a lot of bars. I had thought that Bourbon Street was mainly populated by tourists, but clearly the bars were attended by New Orleans partisans on this Sunday afternoon.

About four miles in about 39 minutes. And hundreds of photos. I wonder if I’ll ever get to see some ...

Saturday, Dec 5, 2009:

Breakfast with the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) advocacy exhibit group, then off to run in New Orleans. The concierge advised me to run to St Charles Ave and run in the “neutral ground” between the outgoing and incoming trolley cars. I knew that was good advice, because I had run there on previous trips to New Orleans. I ran with A from the IMF, a young woman who could no doubt go much faster if she had trained as much as I had, but she hadn’t run at all in a couple of weeks and today we seemed pretty well matched. She stopped at 40 minutes, which I think was probably about 4 miles, and I continued for another 20 minutes, cruising through the RiverWalk and up Canal Street for another couple of miles. Nice run, I felt good.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Thanksgiving And Beyond

Wednesday, December 2, 2009:

This was a cool 28-degree afternoon run. Weather is changing, getting colder, more like it should be in Minnesota in early December. We three ran on the blacktop trails in the park, my sweeties running 3.6 miles while I did an extra loop to get in 5.8.

I wore tights, knee protectors, and three layers above including a wind jacket. The wind was so stiff, though, cutting right through the clothing, that I wondered for a while if I should shorten the run to avoid getting too cold. But after turning the corner to put the wind at my back I was warm enough, and ran the full two loops.

Brooks Burn shoes this time. I’m happy with the Brooks Launch replacements, so I don’t need to save my last pair of Burns. Use ’em up. 5.8 miles in 56:00, ten seconds slower than the last time I ran this route. Pace 9:39. It’s a masterpiece!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009:

What a nice afternoon run in the park, sun setting as we ran. Still, though the grass was dry, the earth underneath was a bit soggy. I wore the Nike LunarGlide shoes and brought them back with mud abd gravel in all of the tiny grooves in the tread. They don’t have to make shoe treads like that.

Enjoyable run anyway, though. 6.9 miles in 1:13:07, for a pace of 10:36, which will have to do. I felt good throughout, walking only occasionally on hills. No pains.

Sunday, November 29, 2009:

St Croix Valley Runners “long” Sunday run, eight miles which include the stairs from Main Street up to First Street. Gauss and I ran the whole way, and Luke joined us for five of the miles at the end of his much longer run. Cool morning, about freezing, I wore tights and knee protectors with three layers above.

We ran very slowly but didn’t walk much, though we did stop a couple of times. We also ran a slightly longer route than the usual measured eight-mile route, I think. We ran the route in 1:34:36. If it was eight miles, that’s a pace of 11:50. I hope it was longer :-) No pain, no problems. I’m liking the Brooks Launch shoes more every time I run in them.

Saturday, November 28, 2009:

St Croix Valley Runners again, this time the regular 5-mile route which takes us up and down Manning Avenue. I’m not a big fan of Manning, because it’s 55 mph and cars really go faster. The shoulders are wide, though, and the company is good.

I ran with Charlie this time, who would probably otherwise have taken a shorter route. We had a good conversation. 48 minutes again, or close, my watch rebooted itself again so I can’t be exact, durn it. Guess I need a new one. No pains, no strain.

Thursday, November 26, 2009:

Thanksgiving morning, the St Croix Valley Runners had a nice group out to do the standard 5-mile run. We tried Wayne’s route this time, and in fact we found a new trail, apparently just built this year, which shortens the route slightly, perhaps making it a little closer to 5 miles. I ran near the back with Mary, Candy, and Gauss. A head start toward Thanksgiving dinner!

No pains, no problems. About 48 minutes - pace of 9:36.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Runs in the Park

Tuesday, November 24, 2009:

Blacktop trails in the park again today, because of the crummy weather and wet grass. 3.6 miles in 33:58, for a pace of 9:26. Hmmm - seemed faster than that - I was pushing pretty hard - wonder if I should re-measure that route.

Oh well, it’s good enough. A half hour of pretty good exercise. No pains.

I wore the Brooks Launch shoes - they really are the shoes to which other shoes will have to measure up. My last pair of Brooks Burns are wearing out, but that’s OK, because these will do the same job.

Monday, November 23, 2009:

I love running in the park. This time I ran on the blacktop trails because the grass was wet from the rain. 5.8 miles in 55:50, for a pace of 9:38. Humph. Well I guess that’s good enough. I ran most of the way, walking only for a few hills. Pace was consistent, the first half taking 12 seconds longer than the second half. And I saw my sweeties several times.

Just a slight pain in the right knee. Not enough to worry about, but I do wonder if that knee will give me real trouble someday. Meantime, though, it’s a masterpiece.

Saturday, November 21, 2009:

St Croix Valley Runners, five miles in 52:06. Uffda. Not too speedy, but an enjoyable run nonetheless. We had at least 9 runners today, probably more. Paul, George, Gauss, Dave2, Candy, Wayne, Charley, Kent, myself, any more? Gauss and I brought up the rear, plugging along steadily.

We ran Wayne’s route today, taking us across a wooden bridge over a lake, and through some neighborhoods. It avoids the 55-mph roads entirely, and I like that.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Catching Up on Blogging

Wednesday, Nov 18:

I worked on a computer problem ALL DAY Tuesday and didn’t get my Tuesday run in. But today I did get in a nice run after spending a couple of hours collecting leaves first. Grass trails in the park, no walking except up a few small hills when my breathing became too fast. Pace for the first 4.3 miles was 9:16, not bad for a hilly grass trail. I didn’t time the next 0.7 miles.

No problems with the knee that locked up Sunday. It’s a masterpiece!

Sunday, Nov 15:

St Croix Valley Runners Sunday run, this time 11.3 miles in 2:06:22, for a blazing-fast pace of 11:11. We had a good time though. Gauss, Steve, Tom, and myself. Steve and Tom really had to rein it back for Gauss and me, but they seemed to enjoy it anyway. From Gauss' house to Pine Point Park, the near end of the Gateway trail, then on the trail to Manning, to take a look at the bridge construction there, and back by a slightly different route. We didn't go all the way to the Mile 16 marker on Gateway, so maybe the distance should be 11.1 in stead of 11.3. Doesn't make much difference.

I did have one problem: Near the end of the run, running downhill in the last quarter mile, my right knee suddenly almost locked up. It was quite painful, and I stopped immediately. I tried to run again and it still hurt. But a couple of minute later it was OK and went from OK to "just fine." I don't know what that was. The pain was on the outside front corner of the knee, just at the bottom of the kneecap. Definitely not ITB, seemed like something got stuck in the meniscus. I was wearing the Brooks Launch shoes - the first problem I've had in those shoes, and of course I have no idea whether different shoes would have made a difference.

I had this same problem several years ago while running in the "bubble" in Stillwater. Back then I put it down to the many, many unbanked corners. This time the only strange thing I did was to run backward for a few seconds, perhaps five or ten minutes before this problem happened. I'll have to look back and see what I did when it happened before, because it went away for a long time.

Otherwise, it's a masterpiece!

Saturday, Nov 14:

St Croix Valley Runners, five miles, nice run. I finished with Gauss and Wayne at about 47 minutes, for a pace of about 9:24. Lots of people running this morning. Drizzle overnight, but this morning was just fine, about 50 degrees. I overdressed with an extra layer on top - just wasn’t paying attention. But we had an enjoyable run. Dave1 was there, did a short run. Hope he doesn’t re-injure his knee.

No pains, no problems. Longer run Sunday?

Wednesday, Nov 11:

Nice 4-mile recovery run on the grass trails of the park, watching the sun set in the 52-degree evening. I brought a flashlight, in case it got too dark, and did use it in the last few minutes. I couldn’t believe the number of cars in the parking lot tonight. People were walking their dogs, and just enjoying the evening, no doubt one of the last this fall. Time 37:33 for 3.9 miles, pace of 9:38, which is not bad for that hilly grass trail. I ran almost all of it, walking only up a few of the hills. I feel great!

Antipasto, mostly organic.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

OBX Marathon, North Carolina Outer Banks

OBX Marathon, Kitty Hawk to Manteo, on the North Carolina Outer Banks. Very, very nice. State number 24, marathon number 40. No plans for any more marathons this year.

Good stuff about the OBX Marathon:

  • Incredibly, most (meaning more than half) of the course is shaded, either in neighborhoods or on wooded trails or roads.
  • There WERE spectators! And they were enthusiastic. I taught a few little kids how to high-five, or I could hear their parents teaching them after I had swished by with my hand out.
  • There are some small, rolling hills on a road that goes through the woods, and there is a tall bridge, but otherwise it’s really quite flat.
  • There is a REAL expo. Not a huge one, and some of the booths were selling real estate, but running gear was plentiful too.
  • They started the race in corrals, honor system, two minutes apart, which worked fine. I like that, even with just 1800 runners. My corral started 10 minutes after the first one, but it was the right place for me.
  • Transportation is an issue in point-to-point marathons, and they did it well. We parked at the finish and took a bus to the start, but you could do it the other way too.
  • They had put out “Burma Shave” signs along the way, telling facts about the area (highest sand dune in the USA, first flight, whatever, even some bad jokes. If you don’t know what a Burma Shave sign is, your youth may be a minor hindrance in reading this blog :-)
  • Example series of signs:
    • First successful flight
    • in motor driven heavier
    • than air machines by
    • Orville and Wilbur Wright
    • December 17, 1903
    • Kill Devil hills, just south of Kitty Hawk
  • There is a lot of history here, including the first powered flight and Roanoke Island. It might be worth an extra day (or several) just enjoying the Outer Banks. The beaches are delicious - be sure to get a motel with access.
  • The race goes right through the Wright Brothers Memorial.
  • And it goes along the waterfront for some distance (unlike Kiawah Island, you can actually SEE the water!).
  • There is a swashbuckling pirate theme to the whole marathon (arrrrgh!).
  • Nice booty bag (expo bag), nice long-sleeve tech shirt.
  • People were very nice to my sweeties, even though they were near the end of the race.
Other stuff:
  • At least seven miles of the marathon are on a coned-off lane of US 158, a 50-mph 4-lane highway that goes the length of the island. There is quite a bit of traffic, and no shade.
  • Officials at the expo were a little bit arrogant about the lack of a chip-check ("no need"), and the information person didn’t know anything at all.
  • The start area featured the seemingly obligatory, meaningless, high-volume noise (music), which meant that most people didn’t move to the start corrals until the very last moment.
  • The medical stations didn't have any salt, which is often the best remedy for cramps. Why don't marathons figure that out? Grump, grump.
But, the overall experience was wonderful. I would highly recommend this marathon, especially in comparison with the Kiawah Island Marathon. Bring your own salt packets.

My Race:
  • No serious pains AT ALL, just the normal sore muscles that are supposed to come from a marathon. I'll be running again by Wednesday;
  • This was my first marathon in the Brooks Launch shoes. They seem perfect for me, a midfoot-striker, just like the old Brooks Burn shoes. Other shoes will have to measure up to these;
  • I ran two minutes and walked one, as in other recent races;
  • That works best in a flat race like this one;
  • I felt stronger toward the finish than in the middle. That’s new. I did use Clif Shot most of the way, then a Hammer Gel at Mile 21 - could that be it? I doubt it;
  • I started two minutes behind the 5:00 hour pace team, then got a couple of minutes ahead of them, fell behind at a potty stop, passed them again, then watched them gradually fade into the distance ahead as I took photos.
  • I finished in 5:05:00, about five minutes later than I had hoped. But who cares?
  • I loved this marathon, had a great time, was grinning and high-fiving most of the way.

Reasons why I didn’t run this marathon in BQ (Boston-Qualifying) time:
  • I can’t run 4:15 any more;
  • This is the third marathon in five weeks;
  • It did get a little warm today, 70 degrees in the finishing miles, and it felt even warmer with the sun beating down on the Hwy 158 pavement;
  • I didn’t care if I ran any faster (oops, sounds like a motivation issue);
  • I stopped dead still to take about 130 pictures with my new toy, a cell phone with a 2 MP camera. I think that may have had something to do with it. But I got all of the Burma Shave signs.

Splits: 20:50 (2 mi), 10:33, 53:03 (5 mi), 11:33, 26:28 (2 mi + potty stop), 10:40, 13:42, 21:54 (2 mi), 11:26, 1:00:39 (5 mi), 37:45 (3 mi), 13:35, 11:12, 1:38, total 5:05:00. Overall pace 11:38. It’s a masterpiece!

That water is Currituck SoundOne of several trails
Boat dealer in ManteoHomeowner gets into the spirit

Friday, November 06, 2009

My Computer Crashed!

Thursday, Nov 5, 2009:

And so did my watch! I had a blog post almost ready, and then BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH! About a week ago now, accounting for some of the delay in posting. This has happened before on this laptop. There is a flaky connection between the motherboard and the hard disk, and eventually the hard disk gets corrupted and the boot files are overwritten with junk. Or so it seems. Repair doesn’t work - the only solution is to wipe the disk and do a complete reinstall of Windows XP. It’s a six-year-old laptop, crashed several times now, and I responded to this latest crash by ordering a new laptop. Ten times the disk, ten times the speed, twice the screen area, about the same price as six years ago. Meantime, this little old clunker is limping along again. I might try to keep it running, because it’s a lot smaller and lighter than the new one.

The watch crashed Tuesday. Tsk.

Today’s run was 3.3 miles in 33:11, pace 10:03. Some walking, but apparently mostly running, or the pace would have been slower. The watch worked OK today. I hope it keeps working - I don’t have time to get a new one right away. Brooks Summon shoes - gosh they felt clompy compared with the Launch shoes I’ve been wearing. Even compared with the Nike Lunarglides.

Tuesday, Nov 3, 2009:

My watch crashed! Not a good week for hardware. I finished a 4.2-mile run, pushed the button to record the finish time, and the watch went blank. Then it started up again, midnight, January 1. Darn. The time for this run isn’t important, but I just replaced the battery in this Timex watch and now it looks like I should probably have replaced the watch itself. It is six years old, almost seven. Probably time.

Before the crash, though, I clocked myself doing two of the loops at a 9:22 pace. I suppose the overall pace was in the vicinity of 9:30. Or so. I felt very good this morning. Except for the watch, it’s a masterpiece!

Sunday, Nov 1, 2009:

St Croix Valley runners, “standard” eight-mile Sunday run. We haven’t done this run in a long time, though, at least I haven’t. Cool at 7:00 am, 30 degrees or so, but great for running. Gauss, Candy, and I took it fairly easy and enjoyed the run. Time 1:31:49, pace about 11 ½ minutes/mile. It’s good.

Saturday, Oct 31, 2009:

BOO! St Croix Valley Runners, the usual five miles, but mostly in the dark. I was surprised how dark it was at the start, because I had run with these folks just two weeks before and it sure didn’t seem so dark then. But sunrise is racing forward about ten minutes per week these days. New guy Kent joined us again for the second time, and took off in front with Dave2, himself just back from a very successful 50-mile trail race. Then George and Paul, and finally Gauss and myself. We had a nice, easy run, finishing in 49:43, for a pace just under ten minutes per mile. Dave1 showed up after the run to let us know how his surgery went. He won’t be running for a while but seems cheerful..

Beautiful morning, enjoyable run.

Thursday, Oct 29, 2009:

North St Paul Community Center upstairs track, four miles running & one more walking. I felt a little pain in the bone just below the right kneecap, so I stopped running. No problem later - false alarm. But I was wearing the Nike Lunarglide shoes, and will stop wearing them for a while, after that maybe only on trails.

Splits: 9:06, 8:43, 8:58, 8:51, total 35:38, pace 8:55.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fall Color Photos

Tuesday, October 27, 2009:

What a beautiful day this was! Bright sun, fall color as good as it gets, a wonderful day to run in the park. I brought the new cell phone along and took some photos. Despite stopping frequently for photography I still ran the 6.9 miles in 1:14:00, which is a pace of 10:43, about the usual pace for this trail. No pains, no problems.

Sunday, October 25, 2009:

North St Paul Community Center. I tried a run-walk routine today, for the first time here. Run three laps, then walk one. Normally 40 seconds per lap running, 60 seconds walking rapidly, 13.5 laps per mile.

Lessee now, did I just finish three running laps or just two? Maybe it’s four! What do I do about that about that half lap at the end of the mile? E=MC squared. I give up. Just run for 63 minutes, walking every fourth lap or so, and that’s about six miles.

No pain, no problems, good run.

Moon over the trees

This one is on Minnehaha Parkway in Minneapolis

Saturday, October 24, 2009

What a Bike Rack!

I spent the whole day measuring the Team Ortho Half Marathon and 10-Mile races for certification, sunup to sundown. Despite horrendous traffic on a lovely Saturday I got it done, except the final paint marks for some of the splits. It's a beautiful course, by the way, around lakes Harriet and Calhoun, and out and back on Minnehaha Parkway (different roadways). The races are next Saturday, October 31.

When it got too dark to work any more I headed home, bike on the rack behind, traveling north on I-35, intending to turn east on I-94.

Suddenly lots of brake lights flashed ahead, and the cars in front were stopping. I kept a decent space between my car and the one ahead, but heard tires squealing behind. That noise seemed to go on forever, and then BAM, I felt my head hit the headrest.

I was in the right-most lane anyway, and pulled over on the shoulder. Cars passed by on the left, and I suddenly realized that the sombitch who hit me was in one of those cars! Worse, I didn't know which car it was. Hit and run.

I called 911 immediately, to be informed that another driver had already called in the license number of the hit-and-run driver. Yay! I waited a few minutes on the shoulder, chomping a Clif bar, and 911 called back to say that a trooper had stopped the hit-and-run car. Double yay! Since my car seemed to be drivable, I should go home, and the trooper would call me later.

I did and he did. That call felt strange, though, because he wanted me to tell my story from the beginning, as if he hadn't already stopped the other driver and as if he wasn't even sure that I had been in an accident. But I answered his questions, and hope he calls back. I'd like to know three things: (1) How do I get some documentation for insurance; (2) Who hit me; and (3) Who is the good Samaritan who helped catch him? Thank-yous are in order here. If the trooper doesn't call back, I'll have to try to rustle up that information tomorrow.

Now about the bike rack: We bought this from Nashbar years ago. It's a "hitch rack," plugging into the aftermarket hitch on our little Saturn coupe and supporting up to three bikes. It's seriously bent up, and I think that it took most of the impact. The car is damaged slightly, with a broken rear bezel and marks on the bumper. The bike has bent pedals, and it's clear that one of the pedals did the damage to the car's bezel. But I'm amazed that the damage wasn't worse, and I think the sturdy little bike rack saved both the car and the bike from more-costly damage. I wonder how the hitch is - tomorrow we'll take a good look in the daylight.

I wish I could tell you where to get that bike rack, because I want an exact replacement for this one. Unfortunately, though, it seems that Nashbar has discontinued this model. It's always been a great bike rack - doesn't interfere with the trunk at all with three bikes on it. Maybe I'll see if it can be fixed - I'm kind of attached to it!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Three More Miles

North St Paul Community Center again, indoor track. Weather was yukky outside, and this is a place where we can all three run together, each at his/her own pace. I took it easy, never breathing very hard, just three miles, still recovering from the Denver Marathon last Sunday. No pains of any kind. Brooks Launch shoes.

Splits: 8:58, 8:55, 8:51, total 26:44, pace 8:55. It’s fine.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Indoor Track

North St Paul Community Center, indoor track. Clockwise today, though the track is sloped just enough at the corners that it really doesn’t matter. Just three miles, recovering from Sunday’s marathon. Slow, but not pains at all. Just a little stiffness in muscles at the start, but that disappeared. Brooks Launch shoes were fine. Last lap at fairly high speed.

Splits: 9:09, 8:57, 8:49, total 26:55, pace 8:58. It’s a masterpiece.

I ate this
Salad as dinner. Mostly organic stuff, including the chicken.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Don’t Invite Us To Your Marathon!

We’re piling up quite a list of marathons that we ran but which did not go well for the organizers, and sometimes not for us either. More about that later. Anyway, for me The Denver Marathon was number 39, state number 23.

Team In Training: 60 TNT people ran this race, either the half or the full. Together, they raised $120,000 for blood cancer research. This benefits leukemia and lymphoma, and also myeloma, which is my particular interest.

By the way, I visited Mayo Clinic last Thursday and my "M-Spike" (key cancer marker) was 0.9 again, so my myeloma seems to be stable. Stable is good. If (when) it starts to increase, then we need to figure out a new treatment, which I probably won’t like even as much as this one. But that future will take care of itself.

The Denver Marathon:

  • 1924 souls ran the full and 4480 ran the half marathon.
  • We all started at once, so the first mile or two were a bit congested, but I did OK anyway. The half marathon splits off from the marathon at about mile 12.
  • Quality was about average for a marathon this size:
    • Registration didn’t respond to our questions in a timely fashion, though we did solve our problem another way.
    • Spectators were relatively scarce for a race of 6400 runners.
    • Aid stations were a little disorganized - I missed the second aid station because I drink water instead of sports drink and I didn't find water on my side of the road.
  • Good stuff:
    • All roads, no trails, plenty wide for the runners after a mile or two.
    • Start time was 7:00 am. VERY GOOD DENVER MARATHON! An early start paid off today for many of the runners, because the temp rose at a rate of at least six degrees per hour.
    • There was a fair amount of shade.
    • The expo included all of the usual exhibitors.
    • The finish area was very nice, with tents full of goodies set up by several vendors, available to runners and public.

Weather: Temp was 50 at the start - perfect. For the fastest runners the temperature was no problem. But for me, it was 81 and sunny at the finish, about 12:20 pm. I don’t run well at 81 degrees. Calves cramped up after mile 20 or so, especially the left, and quads were sore too. I actually had to walk most of the last three or four miles, and the splits show it. Factoid: A week ago Denver logged a record LOW for that day, and today the temperature reached 84, a record high.

My little problems:
  • This marathon took 25 minutes longer than the Twin Cities Marathon two weeks ago. Why?:
    • (1) Denver is a mile high, and the difference in oxygen supply really can’t be ignored. I also ran too long in Deadwood, another mile-high city;
    • (2) The temperature was definitely a factor; PERFECT at TCM and way too hot here; and
    • (3) I ran a marathon just two weeks ago. Duh. Much as I don’t want to believe it, I probably don’t recover as quickly as I once did, since I’m 68 and on cancer meds.
  • My legs let me down: Hip flexors started to yell at about mile 7, and that became pain in the quads toward the end. Calves, especially the left, threatened to cramp up at about mile 20 and beyond. In the last four miles this threat became reality and I was reduced to walking most of the time, occasionally stopping to stretch against a stop sign. This combo of quads and calves was quite painful after the finish; usually my aching muscles recover somewhat within minutes of the finish, but today they actually seemed to get worse. The walk to the car was torture, though it started to improve as soon as I sat down.
  • But: No knee or hip pain, no comment from the Achilles' tendons! Just muscles and maybe ligaments, which will recover better than before.
  • Hydration: I did it right! Runners ALWAYS finish a marathon dehydrated, because the stomach just won’t take fluids fast enough. But I peed within two hours of finishing, a very good sign. Yes, runners actually do talk about that stuff, and the other stuff too.
  • Nutrition: I took five Clif Shot gels along the way, each of them with 50 mg caffeine, and five electrolyte packets containing 440-mg of salt with a little potassium and calcium.
  • Sun screen: I used it before the race and was mighty glad because I got a little burn anyway.

I’m happy. Another state logged and we had a good time. Great to be home!

We seem to bring bad luck to the marathons we run, such as:
  • Today's record high in Denver;
  • Black-flag (hot) at two of the last three Grandma’s Marathons, plenty warm at the other one too;
  • Record low temperature at the Deadwood Mickelson Marathon this year;
  • Amazing rainfall (from hurricane Ike leftovers) at the 2008 Lewis & Clark Marathon, drowning part of the course and causing the race to be CANCELLED during the running;
  • A house fire on the race course in the 2008 Flying Pig Marathon, requiring the race organizers to re-route the course as the race was under way! They rose to the challenge, although the new course increased the distance a little and must have disappointed those who almost qualified for Boston;
  • Record high temperature at the 2007 Chicago Marathon which, along with race-management ineptitude, caused that race to be CANCELLED during the running;
  • There are more, but you get the idea.

Splits: 11:06, 10:55, 44:39 (4 mi), 11:21, 22:43 (2 mi), 11:52, 14:58 (potty stop), 11:11, 11:25, 12:28, 10:22, 23:05 (2 mi), 35:58 (3 mi), 12:22, 11:31, 13:24, 29:17 (2 mi), 14:11, 2:36 (0.22 mi), total 5:15:24, pace 12:02. I fell behind the 5:00 pace team, but stayed ahead of the 5:30 pace team. It’ll have to do. Next marathon will be at sea level!

My sweetie all ready for the start. Behind her is the capitol building, and behind that the sun about to rise. She and Sweet Pea ran and finished the half.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Two Miles Too Far

Sometimes the St Croix Valley Runners meet on Sunday for an ad-hoc run that is longer than Saturday’s customary five-mile run. Today I joined this group for an 8-miler which I knew would be slow - perfect for recovering from TCM and preparing for the next marathon.

I felt a slight pain in the left achilles’ tendon toward the end, after about the sixth mile, so I walked part of the last two miles. Something new. Could that be from different shoes? I doubt it, but it is possible. Anyway it didn’t hurt after the run, and there will be no more running until Tuesday at least, perhaps even Wednesday.

Because I’ve had some trouble with my right knee recently after a run in the Nike Lunarglide shoes, I wore the Brooks Launch shoes today. The knee does feel better today than yesterday, so maybe that helped. Or maybe the foam knee covers under the tights made the difference.

7.8 miles in 1:23:00, pace 10:38. Beautiful day for running, 34 degrees and cloudy. It’s a masterpiece.

Breakfast with kefir
We recently discovered kefir, an alternative to yogurt at 3/4 the price. It's full of probiotics, like yogurt, tastes about the same (to me), but is runnier, which goes fine on a bowl of oatmeal with fruit & berries.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

It's Not Winter Yet

But you couldn’t prove it this morning. 28 degrees with snow on the grass, ice on the roads, and a stiff wind. Running was iffy. But the St Croix Runners ran nevertheless, the normal five-mile course, moving more slowly and picking our footing more carefully than usual. Of the seven of us who showed up, five had run last weekend’s Twin Cities Marathon, so this was a recovery run anyway. Two shirts, jacket, tights, mitts, ear cover, Nike Lunarglide shoes (for their aggressive tread).

Five miles in 48:11, pace 9:39, good enough for the slippery roads. Two minor knee problems: (1) After the run they ached a bit from the cold - this is a familiar feeling which will go away. In a few days or weeks when the knees are accustomed to the cold, this problem will not appear; but (2) The right knee has bothered a little since the day after TCM, especially going down stairs. At the bottom of the kneecap, right in the middle of the meniscus. I hope that’s not a sign of things to come. Fortunately, it doesn’t hurt (yet) DURING a run. Time will tell. I’ll use the foam knee protectors for a while.

Post-run lunch by Sunshine. Gluten-free pancakes, apple/honey topping with home-grown never-sprayed apples, Applegate organic chicken bratwurst, kiwi.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

New Toys

A little more than a week ago I got hearing aids - my first. Bernafon Verite models, from Costco. They are quite high-tech, with Bluetooth so that they can be used as a headset for my cell phone or any other device that can use a Bluetooth headset. So it was time to upgrade the cell phone also, of course, to one with Bluetooth. Every phone with Bluetooth has a camera too, so now I have a camera in my cell. Since I always carry my cell when I run, this means I also always carry a camera now when I run.

I meant to run yesterday, but life intervened, so today’s six-mile recovery run was the first run since Sunday’s marathon. I took a few pix with the new cell phone. The camera isn’t great, but I think it’s about as good as a phone cam gets these days.

Nice easy run at marathon pace. No pains during the run, though the right knee complained a bit after the run was over. Stretches in the shower again - that is SO the way to stretch.

Splits: 10:08, 20:52 (2 mi), 10:43, 10:49, 10:19, total 1:02:50, pace 10:28. Lovely run.

My favorite trail
Phone-cam photo. You can barely see the railroad track on the right. Who wouldn't love to run on this road?

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Twin Cities Marathon

Could there be better weather for a marathon? Temperature was 46 at the start and partly sunny, 50 at the finish and cloudy. For a mile or two I wondered if I should have worn a short-sleeved shirt instead of a long-sleeve technical shirt. Then the sun disappeared, the wind showed up, and I was happy with my garb. TCM has a very rigid 6-hour cutoff, no grace, and some of my favorite people would never make it, which is a bad point about TCM. But it has three good points: Excellent spectator support, even better volunteers, and a truly beautiful course. Today the fourth good point was the weather, perfect for a marathon.

Pace: I tried to run two minutes, then walk one minute. Hills made it difficult to do that with precision, because I see no sense in running up a hill when I’m walking some of the time anyway. But mostly it worked.

Finish: 4:50, better than the 5 hours that I had considered an outside acceptable time, but 12 minutes slower than last year. Ah well. I did enjoy this one though - only running really hard in the last two miles or so. The second half marathon took four minutes longer than the first half. Lots and lots of high-fives, especially little kids. They love it, and I wore gloves so everyone was safe. For several miles I ran with a new friend, Dave, who was going about my speed and seemed happy enough whenever I suggested walking for a minute. He sent me on ahead at about mile 18, but finished soon after I did.

Highlights: Supreme Court Justice Alan Page playing his tuba. Nuns in habits holding up a sign saying "Kick ass," except "ass" had been crossed out and the word "sin" written beneath. Three bagpipers. Spectators yelling "Go Don" hundreds of times - I wore my name on my shirt. Getting dropped off at the race by my sweeties, then seeing them after the finish to get picked up to go home. Expressing gratitude to several Team in Training runners, who are raising money for research that may help cure myeloma. YAY TNT! Seeing friends among the spectators. Running downhill, any hill, but especially the downhill finish. Seeing Steve Kalina run in full marine garb, with a backpack, to raise money for Toys for Tots.

Gear: Visor, long-sleeve tech shirt, gloves, watch, shorts, undershorts (w Vaseline), foam rubber knee covers (for warmth, also w Vaseline), Wrightsox 2-layer sox (no blisters), Brooks Burn shoes. Five gels (4 w caffeine), five 440-mg salt packets. Up to mile 20: at every aid station, take either a gel or a salt packet. Drink more water than thirst suggests. After mile 20, scratch and crawl to the finish any which way, take whatever salt and gels may be left over, with lots of water. I did need two potty stops, one taking five minutes and the other much shorter. I started with a short-sleeved cotton overshirt, but ditched that at about mile three or four. Ugly shirt anyway - no loss.

Injury: None. At all. Yay! Slight pain in the right knee fairly early on, resolved by itself when I moved to the center of the road. Slight pain in both hips from dancing to band music - lesson learned - resolved itself. Some pain in the right hip flexors, but not enough to slow progress. That seems to be chronic, but never a big problem. A little pain in the right Achilles or the calf just above it - gone now. That’s it! Quads are a little sore, but that’s to be expected - I ran down every hill. NO CRAMPS! Cool weather, salt, and good hydration may have prevented the cramps, which effectively torpedoed my Grandma’s Marathon (finish temp 93).

Discovery: I can do my post-race stretches IN our new extra-wide shower, which contains a grab bar. Why have I never figured this out before? It’s not very green - takes more hot water - but it sure did feel good today. That’s definitely going to happen again. Oh yeah. Almost as good as beer.

Splits: 10:21, 10:18, 42:01 (4 mi), 21:26 (2 mi), 11:05, 10:52, 10:27, 15:27 (potty stop with a line at M'haha & Cedar), 10:47, 0:32 (0.11 mile to ½ marathon mark), 10:59 (0.89 mi), 10:54, 11:19, 10:49, 11:41, 23:20 (2 mi), 11:29, 12:05, 11:01, 10:46, 10:28, 12:14 (1.22 mi), total 4:50:20, pace 11:04. It’s a masterpiece!

Post-race brunch
Post-race afternoon "brunch." The pancakes are blueberry, gluten-free. Syrup is maple, organic. Also organic egg & nectarine.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Taper Time

Wednesday, Sep 30, 2009:

The Woodbury Runners meet at about 6:00 pm or a few minutes after, every single Wednesday night of the year, in Edgewater Park at Lake Rd and Edgewater Drive. Tonight Rich and I took the short 5.2-mile route while the faster people ran the regular 6.2-mile route. They finished ahead of us anyway. Jim has a new dog, an enthusiastic but untrained pup from a rescue shelter who turned out to be the only hazard on the run. She jumps up on people, and her toenails left me with a little cut on my ankle. I think it will heal OK though. The dog has lost an eye, and her name is Sophe, which is Sophie with a missing "I." Cute. And so is she.

Otherwise the run was uneventful, except for the cheery and enjoyable conversation with Rich. Neither of us had a watch, mine being still out of commission, but we queried the others and probably finished the 5.2 miles in about 55 minutes. If so, the pace was about 10:35. Could be. Easier for me than for Rich, who doesn’t get as much time to run as I do. Last run before the weekend events. Four nights of sleep before the marathon.

Tuesday, Sep 29, 2009:

My favorite trail, the rocky path alongside the railroad track, pretty level but a mix of dirt, sand gravel, and rocks. I started out running for the first mile, then slowed to my 2-minute run / 1-minute walk pace. Nice cool run, no problems except my knees did get a little cold. They’ll get accustomed to that this fall - I hope they’ll be OK by this weekend.

My watch reset itself during this run. Insert your favorite expletives here: (..........). Anyway I don’t have a time for the run, but I suppose it’s about 10:30 pace, or a total of about 42 minutes for four miles. Works for me. Taper run. And a new battery in my cranky old watch will fix it. Needs that every year or so.

Dinner Salmon cakes a la Sunshine, peas, beet pickles, cooked radishes. Mostly organic.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

MMRF Race for Research

Don chats with the MMRF manager The MMRF Race for Research is my race! I started slowly, because the start is a bit congested, then ran steadily (no walking!) to the finish in 26:18, pace 8:29. Good enough. Along the way I saw the ghost of Steve Quick, smiling and leaning against a tree, but couldn’t stop to see if he was real. He probably was - he said "hello." Great of you to come Steve.

The race was particularly delightful this year, the fourth annual. Weather was perfect, sunny but cool with a little breeze. As always there was a live band, and about 1000 participants raised $150,000 for myeloma research. That’s wonderful, folks, keep me alive! It’s a masterpiece.

Splits: 9:00, 8:14, 9:06 (1.1 mi), total 26:18.

Saturday, Sep 26:

Some of the St Croix Runners, in the fog! The St Croix Valley Runners had a good-size group on Saturday, running in the early-morning fog. I ran slowly, because I had a race the next day, not pushing much at all. Nevertheless I finished in 46 minutes, just a minute over my usual 45-minute "tempo" pace. I ran with Dennis for a while, an old-time SCV runner who is coming back to running. He’s a lot faster than me, but was also taking it easy because of an upcoming race. Pace 9:12, good enough.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Ankle Twister

My friend Jim doesn’t like running on my favorite trail - the road alongside the railroad tracks. I think this is because of the hazard presented by the one- and two-inch rocks that have fallen down from the raised track bed to litter the trail. And he’s right, of course. Yesterday I had a close call, stepping on one of those rocks, twisting the right ankle outward. My unthinking reaction was to drop down, to take most of the weight off that foot for the remainder of the step. Then I walked for a while, and was able to finish the run normally. Happily, there is no lasting damage.

Nice six-mile run otherwise though. No train came by, but the trail was bordered throughout with lovely late-summer flowers, and two deer watched intently as I trotted by 50 feet from them. I ran without walking for the first three miles, then changed to run two minutes, walk one minute for the remaining three.

Splits: 9:04, 9:08, 8:57, 10:00, 10:38, 10:14, total 58:01, pace overall 9:40. I’ll take it. Tapering now, fall marathons coming up ...

Breakfast with lots of juicy fruit and berries
It's so hard to beat a ripe, juicy nectarine.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Gateway Trail Bridge over Manning

Sunday, Sep 20, 2009:

We three all went to the Gateway Trail. I ran a little farther, perhaps an extra mile, and then went back to pick them up and finish their run with them. Mileage was difficult to track, but I ran about an hour and seven minutes, and think that was about six miles. In the beginning I ran two minutes and walked one, but that broke down later and I just ran whenever I could and walked the rest.

This was a low-energy day. When I go down to Mayo every month for the cancer checkup, they always ask if I felt unusually tired, and I always say "no," but once in a while there is a day when I do feel tired. This is one of those days. I’ll feel better tomorrow - I just took my weekly dose of DEX, which has an effect like three cups of coffee all the next day.

It was a great day for running, though. Cool with a slight breeze, plenty of sun but the Gateway Trail is mostly shaded. We all went northeast from the Hwy 96 bridge up to Manning, where the signs say the trail is closed but it really isn’t. LOTS of people were on the trail today, including the part that is "closed."

They’re making progress on the bridge over Manning (Washington County 15). The bypass trail is laid out, fenced off, and "paved" with a deep layer of pea-gravel sand. Skinny-tire bikes can’t navigate it, but that part is only a tenth of a mile, so people pushed their bikes through it and got back on. I didn’t see whether a fat-wheel bike could ride through. Skaters and skiiers would no doubt have to carry their wheels too. Runners, walkers, and horses - no problem. I’m hoping that they pave over that sand surface with something. Crushed limestone makes sense for a temporary bypass, but not with that sand underneath. I suppose the sand will eventually support a layer of blacktop.

Saturday, Sep 19, 2009:

St Croix Valley Runners Five Miles. Every Saturday at 7:00 am sharp you can find the St Croix Valley Runners at Northland Tennis Courts in Stillwater. There is ALWAYS someone there to run with, even in a rainstorm, even in a blizzard. Just don't be late. We three show up fairly often.

Today I started out with George and Charley, but went a little faster then they did and wound up running by myself much of the way. I ran most of the way, but walked up a few little hills. Five miles in exactly 45:00, pace 9:00. Good enough! I used the Brooks Launch shoes, which were just fine.

Thursday, Sep 17, 2009:

This was a warm evening run in the park. We three returned from Mayo Clinic, where I got some slightly disappointing news, then ran after dinner. The grass is dry in the evening - that’s nice. I finished five miles in 50:55, for a pace of 10:11, which is not bad considering that I ran two minutes and walked one, the whole way. That’s working out pretty well for me.

I used the Nike Lunarglide shoes, which felt a little clumpy but were otherwise fine. I wish they were smoother - I’m going to try a different Nike model when these are worn out.

Wonderful sunset, I love watching the geese training for their winter trek, flying into the sunset.

Construction of the Gateway Bridge over Manning

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Acorns on the Roof

Bumper crop this year: red, white, and burr oak acorns are peppering the roof, the driveway, cars, even the lawn. Friend Jim says it sounds like hail on his roof. This has little to do with running, except: after this morning’s run I hosed off my shoes and left them on the deck to dry, only to find acorns in them later.

Jim loping through the parkJim and I ran in the park this morning, slower than ever because I tried to take pictures of some of the late-summer flowers and the start of fall color. The picture-taking didn’t go too well, partly because I hadn’t properly checked the camera battery beforehand, but we enjoyed the cool morning and had a nice 6.5-mile run. Time 1:12:30, pace 11:09.

No pains, no problems. It's a masterpiece!

Monday, September 14, 2009

MMRF Race for Research 5k Run/Walk

Sunday, September 27, 2009, start time 9:00 am, come early.

Jim & Don at the raceThe Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) holds an annual 5k run/walk at Lake Phalen Park in St Paul. It is a fun event which helps raise money for myeloma research, $120 million and counting.

Click HERE and then click "Register as an Individual" or "Register as a Family" on the left-hand panel.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Sticky Twenty Miles

This is the weekend of the Lewis & Clark Marathon in St Charles, MO. We had planned for this marathon, and I had trained for it, but for several reasons we decided not to go. Nevertheless I still wanted to do a long run this weekend, three weeks in advance of TCM. So Sunshine and Sweet Pea drove me to Stillwater to run with the St Croix Valley Runners. I ran the usual five miles with them, mostly with Charley and Gauss. Then I strapped on water and took off through the city of Stillwater and cross country toward home, adding extra miles here and there to get almost 20, with more water stashed at about mile 13. Best of all, more than eight of those miles were on my favorite dirt road alongside the railroad track.

It wasn’t the best-ever morning for running, rather humid and plenty warm, temp about 72 and dew point 63. My visor was dripping three miles into the first five miles. But the heat didn’t feel dangerous, and the haze in the sky kept the sun from toasting my skin. I did feel some pain in the right knee, toward the outside, in the area of the meniscus perhaps. Happily, that went away in the first few miles. Later, toward the end, I felt some tightness in the hip flexors, but it also diminished and was barely noticeable at the finish.

This was the first long-run test of the new Nike Lunarglide shoes. They were fine, actually. Quite comfortable, no blisters, no problems. And the sole may even have taken on a little bit of curve, no longer as flat as pee on a plate, as my dad might say. I don’t think they are really designed for a mid-foot striker like me, but they are getting the job done and making less slapping noise than they seemed to make on the indoor track. They did pick up some rocks, but fewer than I expected and fewer than the Brooks Launch that I compare them against. So far I do like the Launch a little better though, just a bit smoother and quieter, and slightly lighter, but the difference is modest - they’re both good. I may end up using the Lunarglide for training and the Launch for racing at distances of 10k and longer, we’ll see.

19.9 miles in 3:31:13, pace 10:37. As usual I ran a very-modified Galloway method, running two minutes and walking one. That works SO well!

Post-run brunch with gluten-free pancakes by Sunshine.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Victory 10k

This race is by the Minnesota Distance Running Association (MDRA). It’s been around a long time, it’s flat and mostly straight, always on Labor Day, and lots of very good runners show up. It’s a genuine Minnesota racing tradition.

I started OK, then slowed a little in the last two miles, finishing 8th of 17, smack in the middle of the M65-69 age group. That’s OK - some of the best runners in the state showed up today, and they ALL beat me :-) But no problems, no pains, just a fun run with comrades.

Truth time: Races are fun beforehand, as we all anticipate it, and afterward, as we all review the event and our individual experiences. But during the race, it isn’t really all fun for me. Some of it is, but some of the time I just wish it could be over soon, it’s such hard work. I wonder if everyone feels that way? I LOVE a 200-meter race - there is no time to wish it were over. By contrast, a one-mile race is ALL hard work, and I don’t enjoy much of it. A marathon is a nice mix, with at least the first 20 miles at a relatively easy, mostly enjoyable pace. From there on it’s a struggle, but the finish is always fun.

After the Victory 10k, I went with my sweeties in the 5k, to be company for them and for the extra miles. As I ran, I wished I had registered for that race too, because there is a double-header listing of people’s total times. I probably would have been last, but that wouldn’t matter.

Splits: 8:25, 8:08, 8:30, 8:30, 9:15, 9:10, 1:58, total 53:57, pace 8:41. Slowed at the end, running out of gas. Brooks Launch shoes were fine, soft and quiet.

Fruit bowl
Today's post-race fruit bowl. Grapes underneath, not oatmeal.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Buckshot Races

Saturday, September 5:

Every year on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, the Buckshot races are held in Eau Claire, to benefit the Special Olympics. These are fairly big races, with 602 in the five-mile race this year, and 779 in the two-mile. I ran both races this year, because I wanted to get in the miles, finishing 2nd of 7 in the 5-mile (to Dan Conway, former Olympic contender), and 2nd of 11 in the 2-mile, to my brother-in-law, who got me into running seven years ago. Pace 8:24 for the 5-mile, 8:07 for the 2-mile, with about 45 minutes of rest between the races.

These races felt very good - I didn’t really care how well I did, yet I had plenty of energy. And these finishing times are a little better than I had a right to expect, considering other recent times. The Brooks Launch shoes did very well. No pains, it’s a masterpiece.

Two funny remarks: In the 5-mile, I walked up one particularly big hill. When I started running again, I heard a woman behind say to her friend: "Look at that - he walked up the hill and he’s still going to beat me!" Later, a few hundred meters from the finish I heard a voice behind me holler "DON’T LET ME CATCH YOU!" I glanced back and couldn’t identify who might have said it. Don finishing the 5-mileI doubt it was directed at me, though it seemed to be, but I took it to heart and nobody did pass me. Heck of a motivator.

Great day with family and friends. But there is a cloud on the horizon - if you pray, please pray for BT.

Thursday, September 3:

Local roads with Sunshine & Sweet Pea. I run fast loops (so to speak) while they run slower loops. It’s a good time, as we pass each other every few minutes. Brooks Launch shoes were just fine, not as noisy as I expected. 3.5 miles or so, no time kept.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Eight Miles and One More

What a lovely, cool almost-fall morning, 49 degrees at the start. I need to bring a camera someday soon, to capture the wildflowers along the railroad track. I bothered a little clutch of goldfinches, too, as I jogged along, perhaps flushing them up from their nighttime perches in the bush.

Friend Jim taught me to count paces last time we ran. Today I timed it, and discovered that I run almost exactly 180 footfalls per minute on the flat, rock-strewn dirt/sand/gravel paths along the railroad track. That’s 90 double steps, easier for me to count than footfalls, just count the right foot. Walking was about 132 footfalls per minute, or about 66 right-foot steps. Might be different on pavement, and certainly up or down hill.

Today I started right out running two minutes and walking one, the pace I intend to use for my next marathon. For much of the way I counted 180 double steps running, then 66 double steps walking, holding very close to the target time. And I found that the counting actually made it easier, by taking my mind off the hard work of running. It’s impossible to do that and hold a conversation, of course, or even do any heavy thinking. But it’s a fine way to take one’s mind off the last few minutes of a race perhaps. I finished eight miles with plenty of energy to spare today. Felt great, no pains, no strain.

Also, no train. However, in the last half mile of today’s run there is a railroad signal light, the kind that engineers are supposed to watch, and it changed from green to red just before I passed it, suggesting that a train was coming west toward me as I ran east. But nothing in sight. So I stopped at the car and did my post-run stretches.

Then, way off in the east I saw the three headlights of the engine. I was done with my eight-mile run, and not quite done with stretches, but I took off toward that train. When it got close I waved and the engineer pulled the whistle, toot toot. I love that. This was a long train, three engines pulling, but no engines pushing from behind, all different kinds of cars, probably going about 40 mph. As soon as it passed completely, I turned around and ran back, chasing it and losing rapidly. An extra mile of running, maybe a mile and a half. Love it. Getting tooted at by the train makes my day. It’s a masterpiece!

Splits: 10:32, 9:55, 10:27, 10:09, 9:56, 10:13, 9:48, 10:42, total 1:21:42 for 8 miles, pace 10:13. It’ll do.

Brunch. Oatmeal underneath.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Eight Slow Miles

Eight miles on the sand/gravel/dirt path along the railroad tracks. A train came through just before I got to the track, and no others showed up, but it was a wonderfully cool, delightful morning regardless.

I didn’t feel too energetic, so I did walk fairly often, but never for long. No pains, no problems.

Splits: 18:43 (2 mi), 20:19 (2 mi), 10:02, 10:04, 10:27, 10:47, total 1:20:21, pace 10:03.

Beef salad/dinner.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Fun In The Forest 5K

Thursday Evening, August 27, 2009, 7:00 pm:

This race is sponsored by OSI Physical Therapy, to benefit the Community Helping Hand Food Shelf in Forest Lake. It’s a good cause. This year it was a fairly small race, in a neighborhood so new that workers were actually troweling sidewalks as runners registered in a nearby parking lot. It was a fun race, too, lots of good spirit.

I like this kind of race, where there are few elite runners and lots of people who are there to support the cause. Many of those runners start out well, but slow down by mile one or two, and then I get to pass them. I hope it’s not discouraging for them to be passed by this grey-haired old man. One particularly studly guy, whom I passed about halfway through, couldn’t look me in the eye after he finished. :-)

No pains of any kind, despite Wednesday’s long run. All good! I wore the Nike LunarGlide shoes outdoors for the first time and they seemed just fine, making somewhat less noise on pavement than they had on the smooth-surfaced indoor track. I think they'll be OK.

Splits: 8:31, 8:20, 9:22 (1.1 mi), total 26:13, pace 8:27. I walked a couple of times in the last mile. The course was not certified, so I don’t know whether this pace is accurate. But I ran hard, so it was good enough.

Dinner: Salmon cakes. Yup there's a little cheese in there.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Eighteen Miles, No Problem

Friend Jim and I drove to the Gateway Trail bridge , ran to milepost 18 (Pine Point Park), then back past the car to milepost 9 near I-694, and back to the car again. At Jim’s suggestion we ran on the horse trails rather than the paved trail. I’ve never done that on the Gateway before, but I sure did like it. Those trails are a combination of sand, grass, and gravel, all of which are softer and more forgiving than blacktop. My feet feel just fine afterward, knees and hips too.

I do think that the softer surfaces take a little more work though - so 18 miles may be the equivalent of 19 or 20 on pavement in terms of energy output. So I believe. If so, 18 was the perfect distance for my long run for an upcoming marathon.

At my request, we ran two minutes and walked one, for almost the whole distance. Overall time was 3:07:54, pace 10:26. Not a good pace, but if I could keep it going another 8 miles, that would be a 4:34 marathon. I’ll take it! And I could have run another 8 today, though maybe not quite at that pace. The run-2 walk-1 system is a lot easier than just running.

Lovely, cool morning, 60 to 70 degrees, sunny with no wind, but the Gateway has a lot of shade. A feel-good morning and a feel-good run.

Gateway Trail users be advised: The trail is currently closed at Manning (Co 15). We went through, but on the way back we got yelled at! A bridge is to be built (reassembled) at Manning, and right now crews are building a bypass for us to use during that construction. Then they will start on the "embankments." While the bypass is being built, the trail is closed and may actually be impassible because of large machines working right on the trail. The workers really didn’t want us to go through this morning. The actual construction begins at about milepost 16 and continues northeast across Manning for perhaps a total of a half mile

Fruit, berries, and yogurt
Fruit bowl: Blueberries, home-grown raspberries, mango, organic strawberries, organic yogurt, a little dark chocolate. I love this after a long run. Plenty of nutrients AND hydration to boot.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Brooks Launch & Nike LunarGlide Shoe Review

Three shoe models: (1) Brooks Burn III (discontinued model), (2) Brooks Launch, and Nike LunarGlide. I’ve purchased 21 pairs of Brooks Burn shoes over the years (they really ought to make me a tester and give me shoes), and now I’m looking for a replacement. Brooks says the Launch is their replacement, and I've had very good luck with Brooks, but I’d sort of prefer to find a Nike model instead because my son works at Nike. I don’t really know if the LunarGlide is an appropriate alternative to the Launch, but I was baffled by the overchoice on the Nike web site and finally settled on that one. I am a neutral runner, a midfoot striker with an efficient stride. My feet are average width, size 11 to 12 depending on the shoe. I want a light but cushioned shoe for both training and road racing, up to marathon distances.

Brooks Launch:
Men’s size 12, weight 22 ounces per pair, 11 ounces each. Sole curved upward beginning behind the ball of the foot, toe curved up significantly, heel curved up only slightly. The sole is flat from the arch all the way back through most of the heel. By contrast, the sole of the Burn is curved throughout, and the Burn has a "lateral arch lug" on the outside of the arch, not present in the Launch, though the heel of the Launch does come farther forward than the heel of the Burn. The tread has lots of narrow grooves which will pick up sand and small rocks.

Here is what Brooks says about it: "With an incredibly flexible outsole and seamless transition, this lightweight neutral trainer will get you from start to finish, whether for a tempo run or in a race. Add to that the lower-profile midsole and minimal upper, and it's 3, 2, 1 . . . blast off! Weight: 9.3 oz" Helpful, isn’t it? Marketing hype is so impotent when it replaces actual information.

The Launch is listed on Brooks’ web site under "neutral" and under "competition" shoes. List $90.00. I paid about $80. Made in China.

Nike LunarGlide:
Men’s size 12, weight 26 ounces per pair, 13 ounces each. Sole even flatter than the Launch, toe curved up less than the Launch, heel curved up only slightly. It does seem to have a structure similar to the Burn’s lateral arch lug, though the Nike web site doesn’t mention it. The tread is a bit more aggressive than that of the Launch, but with deep groves to pick up larger rocks and some small grooves to pick up sand.

Here is what Nike says about it: Boasting ultra-light, ultra-strong Flywire and the next generation of LunarLite system technology, the men’s LunarGlide+ combines a soft core within a firmer carrier to achieve a previously unattainable blend of cushioning and response from heel to toe." Equally helpful.

The LunarGlide is listed on Nike’s web site under "cushioned" shoes and under "stability" shoes. List $100.00. I got them at an unusual price of about $60. Brand new, though. Made in Vietnam.

Ugly topsBottoms

I ran ten laps on an indoor track with my last pair of Burns to get warmed up, then ten with the LunarGlide shoes, then ten with the Launch, then LunarGlide again, then Launch again. Both pairs of shoes were perfectly comfortable and well-cushioned, fitting properly in the heel, arch, and toe box. Both felt smooth, with no hitches between footfall and toe-off. I felt no noticeable knee or hip twinges during any of the runs. The Burns were the quietest, the Launch next, and the LunarGlide last. The LunarGlide shoes were pretty noisy, in fact. Note that the noisiness seems to correspond to the flatness of the sole.

I’ve always assumed that the slap-slap sound indicated an inefficiency of some sort. Doesn’t it take energy to make sound? Truth be told, though, the LunarGlide shoes seemed to be as efficient as the Launch. I was surprised when I laced up the LunarGlide shoes for the first time and slapped through the first two laps nine seconds quicker (total) than I had averaged during the warmup in the Burns.

I tried to run with the same "perceived effort" throughout, resulting in a pace of 9:03 min/mi for the warmup laps (always slower), then an average of about 8:23 for the rest of the test. Perceived effort is iffy, of course. The result does not show a clear advantage in speed versus effort for either the Launch or the LunarGlide, no surprise. I’d be happy to run a race in either.

The LunarGlide shoes did, unaccountably, seem to want to propel me forward. Nike’s web site mentions "men's-specific flex grooves to encourage an efficient stride." I don’t know what that means, but if you already have an efficient stride, does that help make you more efficient, or does it just encourage you to run a little harder? I couldn’t tell in this short test. I'll try both pairs on the road - neither is going back to the seller.

Good stuff:
  • Both pairs of shoes fit nicely and felt good.
  • Both seemed as efficient as my old beloved Burns.
  • The LunarGlide shoes have "Nike+" monitoring technology, if you care. I don’t.
  • The LunarGlide shoes are too noisy. I really don’t like that.
  • Both shoes have treads that will pick up rocks and sand. We mostly run on roads and trails, not tracks, and these shoes will drop sand & gravel in the house and, what's worse, into each other. Why don’t shoe manufacturers get that?
  • The Launch is not quite a direct Burn replacement because (a) It has no lateral arch lug, and (b) The sole is flatter. I don't think it's made for a midfoot striker, as the Burn was.
Despite the drawbacks, I haven’t found anything better yet. I may end up settling on one of these, without a lot of enthusiasm. But road testing is yet to come. Perhaps these will seem better with some road miles on them.

Splits for ten laps (0.74 miles): Burn 6:41, LunarGlide 6:10, Launch 6:20, LunarGlide 6:13, Launch 6:07.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Placebo Effect is Real!

The oncologist has reduced my dosage of dexamethasone (DEX) from 8 mg to 4 mg once per week. As a result, I was able to run faster today. Paul even mentioned, before we were half done, that I was doing better. He was too, actually.

Except, I take DEX on Sundays, and I’ve never even taken the reduced dosage yet. Just the thought of maybe getting a little of the lost muscle back was enough to make a difference. Paul and Wayne dropped me in the last half mile, but I still finished the five miles in 42:12, for an overall pace of 8:26. Last week it was 9:09 - this is SO much better. And that same pace for a 5k would be a time of 26:07, far better than I did last Saturday. Maybe I could run a 25-minute 5k.

Other things were going on too. The weather was perfect, 57 degrees with little wind, and I had not run since Wednesday night’s Tartan Terrible race, so I had three nights to rebuild and refill muscles. It all helped.

No pains, no problems. Coming up: some shoe testing Sunday, then maybe a long run Tuesday.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Really Ugly Shoes

I bought 21 pairs of Brooks Burn shoes, over five years or so, before they were discontinued. Brooks waited a year, and then offered up the new Launch as the Burn replacement. Meantime, my son works at Nike, so I would like to find a Nike shoe to replace the Burn. A few days ago I ordered a pair of Nike LunarGlide shoes and also a pair of the new Brooks Launch.

They are both so ugly! I can't believe it. I don't really care - I'm old and can take it if people point to my shoes and laugh, but I'm surprised at the lack of good taste at both shoe companies. Admittedly, there are other color choices for each of these shoes, but those were not available in my size at the time I ordered.

Enough whining about color - I'll try these out and "review" them sometime soon.

Top View
Bottom View

Tartan Terrible 5k Race

Tartan Terrible 5k Race. This is a favorite little race for me, not too far from our home, on grass, trails, roads, and even through water on an ancient submerged road some years. In the past it has been four miles, two 2-mile loops, but the route changed this year because of pipeline construction, and this year it was a one-loop 5k. Roughly. Just short of a 5k, says the race director.

The weather was AWFUL leading up to the race, including tornados that struck Minneapolis and an inch of rain in our gauge, but the skies cleared for the race and, except for wet grass, the weather was delightful and the running was fine. Even the abandoned road through the little lake was above water this year. People say it’s been chest-deep under water some years, but I’ve never run in water more than thigh deep there.

I finished in 28:09, according to my watch. Results were not available when I left, and will not be posted on the web. Tsk. That would be a pace of 9:05 IF the distance was 5k. I should still be able to run a flat 5k at an 8-minute pace, and I wish I could have run even this more-difficult 5k a little faster, but I ran 14 miles yesterday and just didn’t have more in me. Besides, it’s supposed to be a fun race and it was actually fun.

I’m at Mayo Clinic as I write this, waiting for the oncologist to interpret the results of today’s blood tests. Hopefully we will be able to cut back on the dexamethasone from here forward - that might help me regain a little of the lost speed.

Recent lunch: Sunshine's veggie dish with cheese & gluten-free pasta, organic nectarine, organic Brazil nuts, parmesan cheese.