Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Generator Works

Forecasters predict a big snowfall later today, and possibly some ice first, so I checked out our 5KW putt-putt generator just in case. We have had outages of over 80 hours (more than three days) here in past years, so we have installed a transfer switch that disconnects essential circuits from Xcel Energy and hooks them to the generator instead. The generator is sufficient to run the furnace, water heater, refrigerator, freezer, lights, TV, computer, and DSL modem. In other words, it’s enough for comfortable living, though it won’t run the AC in the summer.

It’s helpful to run the generator now and then, even if we don’t throw the switch and power the house off of it, just to be sure that it will run when it’s really needed. It putted just fine today for 30 minutes. Hopefully it won't be needed tonight, but it’s ready to swing into action.

First we went to the club this morning, though, where I ran another 6 miles and my sweeties ran 6k. Just an easy run today, cruising speed, trying to enjoy the sensation of the motion of my body and the air in my face. I wasn’t as full of energy as Tuesday, but did well enough. Slight pain in a muscle atop the left hip, and another slight pain in the center of the right knee at the bottom of the kneecap. Neither was a show-stopper, but logged here in case it does matter later.

Splits: 8:54, 8:42, 8:34, 8:35, 8:38, 8:39, total 52:01, pace 8:40. I’m happy with that. Lots of snow shoveling ahead ...

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Last night's dinner: Organic romaine lettuce under Trader Joe's organic chicken breast, organic mustard, kiwi, organic mixed vegetables, organic black pepper, sea salt.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

First Mile is Slowest

That’s why we warm up for a short race, of course. A coach may say "the shorter the race, the longer the warmup." I guess our bodies need a warmup to stretch out muscles and get everything moving. I do warm up a mile or so for races of 10k or shorter, and maybe even two miles for a one-mile race. But not for longer races - the first mile or two are the warmup and I don’t want to spend valuable energy on distance that doesn’t count.

We ran indoors at the club again, six miles, and I tried not to look at my watch much until near the end of each mile. I usually reckon a mile by my watch, knowing that a pace of 9 minutes per mile is exactly 40 seconds per lap, with 13.5 laps to a mile. The watch will tell me at the end of each lap whether I am ahead of that pace, behind it, or right on. Today I counted laps on my fingers until I got close to a mile. I wanted to run a pace that just felt good, and pretty much succeeded except for the last mile which I intentionally pushed a bit.

The first mile was indeed the slowest, then the second and third were fast, with succeeding miles slowing a bit, except the final mile. Breathing was easy throughout, four footfalls per full breath, except for the final mile when it increased to three. I had a latte with milk just before this morning run, but no breakfast. That helps a lot - I don’t have as much running energy when my stomach is full of food.

Splits: 8:49, 8:30, 8:26, 8:33, 8:36, 8:05, total 50:48, overall pace 8:30. Nothing hurts. Looks like I've recovered from the marathon ten days ago and maybe even begun to reap the benefits. Nice!

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Last night's DEX dinner (low carb): Wild-caught alaskan salmon, dill cheese, organic chard with a few dried cranberries, organic cashews, organic celery with organic peanut butter.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Four More

North St Paul Community Center, four gentle miles. I felt a little weary at the start of this run, so the idea was to take it easy and run maybe a 9:30 pace. I didn’t manage to go quite that slowly, but slowly enough that I had some steam left at the end.

Someday I’d like to run a marathon in 4:15:59, which is my Boston qualifying time and requires an average pace of about 9:45, just a little slower than today's goal pace. A year ago that was easy, but not now with the chemotherapy and the extra weight that I have taken on as a side effect of the dexamethasone. Oh whine whine, woe is me. It helps to remember that I’m still running marathons while some good friends with myeloma are DEAD. Yikes, I'm a lucky guy.

Good run. I might have run one more mile but the Jazzercizers started and turned up their noisy loudspeakers, making the whole experience less enjoyable. And four miles was one more than I had on my schedule for today anyway.

Splits: 9:23, 9:11, 9:04, 8:46, total 36:24, pace 9:06. It’s a masterpiece.

Recent dinner: Alaskan wild-caught sockeye salmon with organic yogurt and spices, organic peas, organic beans, organic almonds, organic cauliflower with onion and a little organic cheese.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Brooks Summon Shoe Review, Updated

Two weeks ago I reviewed the brand-new Brooks Summon, comparing it with the Brooks Ghost and Burn. At that time I ran only a short distance in the Summon, but today I ran five miles with them on the indoor track at the club. So far so good. The Summon feels well-cushioned, with a very smooth transition from foot strike to toe-off. There is a slight slapping noise at foot-strike, but only a little more noise than the Burn makes. In my experience, this slap drops off a little as a pair of shoes collects a few meaningful miles. Perhaps they get a little more flexible.

I wish the tread wasn’t the kind that collects pebbles and grains of sand. Otherwise, so far, this is a great pair of shoes. Brooks is bringing out the Launch in July, as a direct replacement for my favorite, the discontinued Burn. I hope it’s as good as the Summon seems to be. Maybe it will even have a good tread.

A few days ago I ran into a guy who appeared knowledgable about Brooks shoes. He said that the Summon is a good shoe with a cost-reduced upper and aimed for more of a mass market than most running shoes, which are intended to be sold at running stores. You might find the Summon at Dick’s Sporting Goods, for example, but at The Runners Edge you would find the Ghost and the Defyance instead. We’ll see if it works out that way. So far, Dick’s doesn’t have it on their website, but Zappos does. The web makes all of that marketing stuff harder.

Splits: 8:56, 8:44, 8:48, 8:41, 8:42, total 43:50, pace 8:46. No pains, no strain. Good run, still recovering from the marathon.

Recent dinnerRecent dinner: No-hormone no-antibiotic free-range beef, organic carrots, mango, pineapple, organic parsnips.

LunchToday's lunch: Taco soup with free-range no-hormone no-antibiotic ground beef & organic vegetables, organic blue-corn chips with flax seeds (Target), avocado, & organic hot peppers.

Today's breakfastToday's breakfast (hungry after snow shoveling): Gluten-free oatmeal with flame raisins & dried cranberries, banana, mango, Dove dark chocolate, organic strawberries, organic blueberries, organic fat-free milk.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Birmingham Mercedes Marathon, Post 2

This is a grown-up marathon, with most of the trimmings of a large one. Nice expo, well-designed race route with lots and lots of traffic control, wonderful volunteers, and some spectators. We’re glad we ran it. The weather was almost perfect with the temperature climbing from 38 at the 7:00 am start to 55 at my finish near noon. The route is moderately hilly ("challenging"), but that was no problem for me because I walked much of this marathon anyway so I just walked up most of the hills. The half and the full marathon used exactly the same route, with the full marathoners simply traveling it twice. I don’t mind the double loop, especially in this case where the route was rather picturesque. I appreciate knowing what’s ahead, in fact, on the second loop when I’m tired.

I did get confused by one of the mile markers. According to my watch, my split time between mile 12 and mile 13.1 was 7:48, which is WAY faster than I was running. I can’t explain it, unless perhaps one of the mile markers was out of position. I did stop at a porta-john between miles 11 and 12, which confounds the times a little too. My total time at the 13.1 mile marker was about 2:15:00, which actually does make sense. No explanation for the 7:48 split time.

The race’s on-line results were slow - my only real beef. My sweeties finished their half marathon well before I finished the full, and we left immediately after I finished, starting the trek back home, expecting to be able to find our times later Sunday evening when we reached our motel in Paducah, KY. No such luck. Nothing Monday morning, either. And no indication on the race web site when or whether the results would be forthcoming. Results apparently did show up later on Monday, while we were driving. Other marathons do much better with race results, many posting partial results while the race is still in progress. Almost all have the results on line by the evening of the race. Years ago people waited for the newspaper to publish results, or for their time to come on a card in the mail, but not any more; expectations are much higher. This race was ChampionChip timed, so Birmingham could have put results on in real time, just as the big marathons do.

I started with no knee warmers but with two shirts, short-sleeved cotton over a long-sleeved technical shirt. The cotton shirt was discarded about midway through the second loop, and toward the end the long sleeves were plenty warm. My favorite Brooks Burn shoes served well, except perhaps for the pain in the left foot, which is something new. But no blisters or joint pains.

One mishap: Wonderful volunteers handed out GU gels at several stations along the route. Early in the race I grabbed one, knowing I’d need it later, and stuffed it upside-down in my shorts pocket. Soon I discovered that the volunteer had already torn off the top of that gel, opening it for my convenience, and it was draining its sticky contents into my shorts. Sounds funny now, but I was really pissed then! It might have been nice if the volunteer had warned that it was open, I suppose, but it was really my fault and it’s a mistake that I will certainly never make again! Yuk. I had two other gels in that pocket, totally gummed up by then, and probably should have just left them there, but I ate them as the race went along and ran with sticky hands, shorts, and more.

Splits: 10:58, 10:41, 9:45, 10:27, 10:36, 9:45, 11:35, 19:02 (2 mi), 10:13, 10:03, 13:45 (potty stop), 7:48, (mile 13.1 ?!?), 10:38, 9:50, 10:30, 11:15, 9:28, 11:03, 11:36, 11:32, 10:01, 11:03, 12:02, 25:46 (2 mi), 2:10 (0.2 mi), total 4:41:27, pace 10:44.

Ice Storm:

Sometimes we fly to a marathon, but this time we drove. It’s about a day and a half at interstate speeds. We were very impressed by the damage that the recent ice storm did in the region around Paducah, Kentucky. For almost 100 miles we saw trees broken and fallen, thousands upon thousands of trees, counting only those within view of the interstate. Though the storm hit in late January, nearly three weeks before our trip, we saw crews still restoring power to farms and remote homes as we drove by. Bucket trucks were everywhere. What an incredible mess.

Wednesday, Feb 18:

The pains that I felt in the race: quads, hip flexors, and left foot, all went away by Tuesday. On Wednesday we went to the club, where I intended to run three easy miles just to keep loose. During the second mile, though, my left knee started to hurt, on the outside, right in the joint it seemed. So I stopped. It’s a new pain, possibly ITB but it felt more like a bone issue. I’m not worried about it - I’ll run again soon and deal with it if necessary. Splits for that run: 9:41, 9:31.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Birmingham Mercedes Marathon, Post 1

Everything hurts, just as it should after a marathon. Especially because I wasn’t really ready for this one. The plan was to run the first five or six minutes of each mile, then walk fast to the mile marker, and average about 11-minute miles or so. With a couple of potty stops, that would result in a 5-hour finish. I thought this would be easy on the running muscles, so that I could finish the marathon without bonking or getting hurt. But the plan went slightly awry.

I went a little too fast in the beginning, or ran a little too much of the time, so there were miles in the 9-minute range and none over 11 minutes. Later that situation reversed itself! Anyway I finished in 4:41:30, better than hoped but feeling beat up. Quads, hip flexors, left foot (arch), and especially both calves. Those calves threatened to cramp up in the last three miles and did slow me a lot. But hey, it’s the 33rd marathon and 20th state - maybe the plan did work after all.

My sweeties ran the half marathon and finished well too - everyone's happy. It’s a masterpiece! More about this when there is more time to write.

Splits: 10:58, 10:41, 9:45, 10:27, 10:36, 9:45, 11:35, 19:02 (2 mi), 10:13, 10:03, 13:45 (potty stop), 7:48, (?!?), 10:38, 9:50, 10:30, 11:15, 9:28, 11:03, 11:36, 11:32, 10:01, 11:03, 12:02, 25:46 (2 mi), 2:10 (0.2 mi), total 4:41:30, pace 10:44.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Another Taper

A nice easy four-mile run, just to keep the body moving. We three went to the club and ran on the indoor track - weather outside was a bit misty and sloppy. No problems, breathing was easy at four and even five footfalls per full breath throughout. It’s a masterpiece.

Splits: 9:00, 8:48, 8:50, 8:53, total 35:31, pace 8:53.

Lunch: Spaghetti lasagna with gluten-free spaghetti & mostly organic ingredients, organic chard with organic cashews, minneola.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Taper Run

Five miles on local roads, 45:30, pace 9:06. I did try to go fast enough to get under 9-minute miles, and didn’t quite make it. Excuses: (1) It was DEX day; (2) This was a hilly route; and (3) I ate breakfast less than two hours before the run. Anyway that’s what I could do today. Breathing was fairly hard, often three footfalls per full breath, which is race pace.

But it was a good five miles, passing my sweeties three or four times as they ran a 5k. It’s a masterpiece.

Lunch: Cold roast bison, organic mustard, mineola segments, organic sweet potatoes roasted with herbs, organic catsup.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Brooks Summon Shoe Review

I have used Brooks Burn shoes almost exclusively for the past six years, not only for training but hundreds of races including 32 marathons. Since Brooks discontinued the Burn, I've searched for a replacement. I need a cushioned shoe, average width, little more. So far I've stuck to Brooks shoes, because I like the fit. Today I tried out their newest shoe for neutral biomechanically-efficient runners, the Summon.Click to enlarge, BACK to return here I found them for $60 on, though it seems the price has since gone up a lot. Today I tested them for a few laps, on an indoor track to keep them new in case I needed to return them, comparing them with a pair of Brooks Burns and a pair of Brooks Ghosts, all size 11 1/2. I ran laps in each model of shoe, and more laps with one model on one foot and another model on the other. Here are some results:

  • Weight: All three pairs are within an ounce of the same weight, 24 to 25 ounces for both shoes.
  • Size: The Summon is about the same as the Burn, and larger than the Ghost, which for some reason is undersized.
  • Fit: This is why I want to stick with Brooks - I have almost no blisters or other fit problems with the Burns. When I put on the Summons, I could feel the heel sliding up and down a bit. So I threaded the laces into the very last holes, as I do with the Burns, and the heel felt properly snug.
  • Shape:
    • Toe Box: Not as wide as the Burn, or so it appears, and certainly not as wide as the Ghost. But it didn't bother my foot in this short run.
    • Heel: The heel is long! It comes a full inch farther forward, toward the arch, than does the heel of the Burn. Perhaps this replaces the Burn's "lateral arch pod," absent on the Summon and the Ghost.
    • Sole: Like the Burn, the sole of the Summon curves gently toward the toe to allow a smooth transition.
    • Width: Fine.
  • Tread: Very aggressive, as if the shoe was designed for the track, or maybe for trail running! It also has hundreds of small crevices that will collect tiny rocks which I will no doubt track into the house. Or they will drop from one shoe into the other as I run. That's just dumb design. The first Burns were like that too, but the tread design improved as the original Burn went to Burn II and Burn III.
  • Color: Black, white, lime. Who cares.
  • Cushioning: Well cushioned according to my feet and the finger-poke test. At least as responsive as the Burns too, though to be fair these Burns have 187 miles on them and the Summons have none.
  • Ride: Very smooth. Unlike the Ghosts, they make very little slapping noise on the track, and they certainly aren't even broken in yet. The transition from heel-strike to toe-off seems very smooth, as good as the Burn.
  • Manufacture: Made in China like everything else.
I wish Brooks was more runner-centric rather than marketing-centric. I don't think they entertain genuine input from real runners, actual customers, even though they supposedly have lots of runners in the company. Here are a few examples of what I mean:
  • The shoe treads with little crevices that pick up small stones don't do any good and can be simpler and less expensive;
  • The descriptions of the shoes are so generic (e.g. "built for the neutral, biomechanically efficient runner who wants to go fast") that they provide little guidance. Is that for a mid-foot striker? Heel striker? Marathoner? Occasional runner? High-mileage? What neutral runner doesn't want to go fast?
  • The Ghost turns out to be a half-inch shorter than the Burn or the Summon. What's that? Surely they can make shoes the right size. Did they do that so that the shoes would seem just a little lighter when compared size-for-size? Anyway the Summon appears to be sized correctly.
Brooks is probably no worse than any of the other companies, but the prize will go to the company that really is customer-centric.

By the way, I wrote to Brooks to get more guidance and was told that the Summon would not be similar to the Burn at all. I was encouraged to wait for the Launch, another new model to be introduced in July. But since the Launch isn't here, I bought the Summons anyway.

So far I've run less than a mile in them. I'll probably post a little more when I have some real miles on them, but that will be a few weeks at least.

If you have a question or an opinion about these shoes, please do leave a comment. Thank you.

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St Croix Valley Runners

St Croix Valley Runners, five miles in 44:50. I ran with new Dave again, nice run and good conversation. He has a very interesting job. George and old Dave ran behind us, both recovering from injuries, and Mike ran through us on his way to ten miles. Lovely morning, beautiful sunrise, but because of recent melting and heavy frost the roads and trails were a bit slippery. I almost lost it once. I’m happy that the pace was sub-9, though, despite the iffy footing. It did feel like it.

Breakfast one day last August: Gluten-free oatmeal, blueberries, organic nectarine, organic walnuts, mango, organic fat-free milk.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Rochester Athletic Club

My monthly Mayo visit was today and I had several hours between appointments, so I visited the Rochester Athletic Club (RAC) to run on their indoor track. Fifteen dollars for a day pass gets you full access to the facilities with shower, towel, shampoo, and deodorant to boot.

I meant to run six miles. But now as I look at my watch I see times for eight miles on it, with a total time which is correct for eight miles. Dunno how that happened, but I’m sure I ran eight and not six. Huh. Well, if I’m losing my mind, let it go toward MORE miles and not fewer.

The track at RAC makes me more appreciative of the track in the North St Paul Community Center. The RAC track is advertised as "banked," and it is, but not nearly as smoothly banked as the one in NSPCC. It’s also advertised as "cushioned," but I was unable to detect that. It’s wide, though, with four painted lanes, two for walking and two for running. It’s fairly long too, only nine laps per mile, which is nice. Fine for eight miles, but I’m glad that was all I wanted to run today. More than I wanted, in fact. I’ll do my 20-milers in North St Paul. Or, preferably, outdoors.

No troubles running, no pains. Afterward I did have a strange sensation in the right foot, which was the outboard foot on this counter-clockwise trek. For several hours it felt like the foot was waking up from being asleep, sort of cool and tingly at the same time. This could be the start of peripheral neuropathy from the cancer meds, but more likely just a delayed reaction to the oddly-banked running track.

Splits: 8:45, 8:40, 8:49, 8:49, 8:53, 8:47, 8:48, 8:18, total 1:09:48, pace 8:44. I like when there is something left for the last mile.

Salad yesterday: Organic romaine lettuce, cucumber, organic tomato, avocado, stuffed olives, celery root, organic red wine vinegar.

Dinner of salad
Dinner tonight: Organic romaine lettuce, uncured ham (no hormones, vegetarian feed, etc), stuffed olives, organic cashews, pineapple, cucumber, organic red wine.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Easy Sixteen Again

Since I’m not trained for a marathon, but scheduled to run one, I thought I’d half-run half-walk it. But it turns out that you have to TRAIN even for that. When I tried it a week ago my hips were mighty sore the day afterward, most likely from the walking part. I sure was glad that I hadn’t done a whole marathon. So today I did sixteen more miles, the first fourteen walk/run and the last two all running, just like a week ago. Friend Norm joined me for the last mile, on his way to his seven or eight miles running.

This run was a little faster than last week’s, by about a minute and a half total. So maybe training actually works? Better yet there was plenty of gas in the tank at the end. I ran that mile with Norm, who didn’t really want to start his run at a high pace, or I might have run mile sixteen faster than 8:20. Two pains: (1) A slight pain in the left back, muscles and not bones, maybe six inches above the navel; and (2) the Lisfranc joint in the left foot, a chronic problem that can hurt but is not a stopper. NOT a problem: (1) The hip flexors of two days ago; (2) the blister on the right big toe (wrapped in tape); and (3) so far no pain in the hips. Yay!

Norm started his run a few seconds behind me just as I started my last mile. When he caught up to me, he asked if I always ran with my left shoulder lower than the right. That was news to me - I have known for years that I tend to veer to the left when tired, but hadn’t realized that I actually TILT to the left. I wonder why that is. I have also assumed that the tiredness is related to my legs, which are, after all, doing most of the work. Maybe, though, I lean to the left because of tiredness in the upper body, signaled by the pain in the left back. Hmmm. I think so, because my legs really weren't very tired today. Some core exercises might help.

Thinking now about a 5:00 marathon. Let’s assume: Delays like potty stops will take up seven minutes, so I need to run a pace for a 4:53 finish. Running pace will average 9:15, and walking pace will average 14:00. Question: How much of the time must I run, while walking the rest? Average pace for a 4:53 finish is 11:11. Solving 9:15*X + 14:00(1-X) = 11:11. X = .6, more or less. So if I can run 6/10 of the distance, walking 4/10, I should finish with about seven minutes to waste along the way. 6/10*9:15 = 5:33. So in each mile run 5:33 and walk to the next mile marker, which should take 5:38. Pretty much half and half, by time, and just under 16 miles total running. I might be able to do that - worth a try.

Splits: 11:23, 10:54, 10:58, 11:22, 11:08, 11:07, 11:10, 11:18, 11:11, 11:18, 11:05, 11:10, 11:14, 11:17, 8:47, 8:16, total 2:53:35, overall pace 10:51.

Chicken dinner
Dinner one day last August: No-hormone no-anything chicken (or is it turkey?), organic sweet potatoes, local organic parsnips, organic catsup, organic mustard.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Two more runs

Sunday, Feb 1:

I ran out of gas today, probably because it was the third day of running in a row. Actually I intended to run eight miles, and stopped at six because I felt a little pain in the left hip flexors. Or maybe it was the adductors, I couldn’t tell which, but I don’t want to have a new injury now! Without the pain the next two miles would have been a struggle, but I would have done them anyway.

We ran on the track at the club today, and because it was an odd-numbered day we ran clockwise, which we had not done for a week or two. Perhaps that’s why the left-side muscles hurt. Anyway they seem fine now, so I doubt any damage was done. Clockwise again on Tuesday, unless I run outdoors.

Splits: 8:54, 8:45, 8:50, 8:51, 8:52, 8:59, total 53:10, pace 8:52.

Saturday, Jan 31:

Good five mile run with the St Croix Valley Runners. Mary, Candy, George, Dave, and myself. Dave is pretty fast, but had no one to run with today. He and I did move out ahead of the others, but at a modest pace of 9:12. I felt as though I was working pretty hard, but that may have been due in part to the lively conversation, or to the fact that I ran yesterday too. We had a very enjoyable run, finishing the five miles in 46:02. Temperature was 24, very little wind, a beautiful morning. I wore three layers up to, tights, and ear cover. No problems.

Salad: Organic lettuce, Organic red grapes, organic black grapes, wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon with organic yogurt, organic red wine vinegar.