Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bad Weather

Rain, snow, slush, and 30 degrees sent us to the club today, where I ran just six miles. With better weather I’d probably have run outdoors and tried to go farther, but when I got to the club I didn’t feel very peppy and just motored around the 81 laps until they were completed. No pains, no problems, plenty good enough.

I’m thinking that March must have come in like a lamb.

Splits: 8:51, 8:43, 8:34, 8:36, 8:38, 8:35, total 51:56, pace 8:39.

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Dinner: Wild-caught haddock with Sunshine's mango salsa, organic sweet pickle relish, organic squash, organic tomato salsa.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Cool, Crisp Saturday

Twenty degrees this morning, but no snow on the ground and the St Croix Valley Runners had a nice group. Two Daves, Paul, Scott, Candy, Tom, & myself. I ran with Paul, as we are about the same speed these days. We finished the five miles in 42:32, which is an 8:30 pace and faster than either of us thought we were going. Not bad, even if we did finish last. No pains to speak of.

We watched the sun rise as we ran through the windless morning. When Paul and I arrived at the finish, the others were gathered in a circle, chatting, with a column of steam rising above them - a fascinating sight.

Later in the day we three went to a Saturn dealership and bought a new Aura to replace our 2002 Saturn L300 with 120,000-miles on it. The new car will be safer, quieter, and significantly more economical. We like Saturn and their no-hassle attitude, and we’ve put at least 250,000 miles on Saturns with a generally happy experience all around. The Aura is very similar to the Chevrolet Malibu, but with features that we preferred. It is in the same class as Camry and Accord, and not only does it compete quite well on features and quality but it is made in the USA by an American company. Now we’ve done our share to stimulate the economy.

Our car is a lot like the one in the photo.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

It’s snowing again!

So we ran indoors today. I broke a tooth yesterday, so I had a dentist appointment today and, by chance, my sweeties also had dental appointments today. And I did some work on the bathroom remodeling too. By the time that was all over, the light snow had begun and we zipped over to the club instead of trying to run outdoors.

Six miles, not so easy this time. For some reason the first mile was faster than usual, but I didn’t feel like I was pushing the pace. So I just kept the level of effort about the same for the remaining five miles and ended up with a great overall pace of 8:23, actually better than I did in the Human Race 8k a few days ago. Odd.

Breathing was four footfalls per full breath, indicating a tempo pace or slower, but it was on the edge of three footfalls in the last four miles and indeed it went to three in the last half mile. Legs felt good all the way though - the energy was there. No pains. This was supposed to be a long run, but I’m happy enough with it. 25 miles for the week - hopefully 30 or more next week.

Splits: 8:29, 8:24, 8:24, 8:23, 8:25, 8:12, total 50:17, pace 8:23. It’s a masterpiece!

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Lunch: Target organic blue-corn chips, organic greens, pineapple, organic tomato, Sunshine's guacamole, organic peas, organic beans, organic cheese.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Gateway Trail

It’s wide open! At least the four mile section that we ran today. We parked at the Hwy 96 bridge and ran north to milepost 16, then back past the car to 12, then back to the car. That gave us the chance to cut the run short near the middle in case of heavy rain, or add a shirt in case the wind was too cold, or whatever. But neither of those was necessary and the run was great. I love the Gateway Trail, built on an abandoned rail line, with a paved lane for people and a gravel lane for horses. I think of it as a flat trail, but in fact most of it is slightly sloped one way or another, and there are short (very short) hills in a few places. It’s a wonderful run through the woods.

Eight miles in 1:14:15, for a pace of 9:17 overall. The splits are below, but the mileposts on the Gateway are not located very precisely so the total time is probably more important. I walked a few times, imagining that I was being kind to my big black toe, but in fact it felt good to walk anyway. Mostly I ran. I did stop for perhaps a minute to look back when a couple of strange-looking guys were walking toward my sweeties, but the guys passed them by without incident and we all continued running.

Splits: 9:24, 8:39, 8:45, 10:06, 9:18, 9:31, 9:41, 8:51, total 1:14:15, pace 9:17. It’s a masterpiece.

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Recent dinner: Sloppy joe mix with no-hormone no-antibiotic bison and Sunshine's homemade organic catsup, organic mustard, Target organic blue-corn chips, organic tomato, asparagus, and sweet onion.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Human Race 8k

Great race, slow results. Apparently I failed to click my watch at the finish, so I really don’t know my finishing time, and results are not up yet. The race was timed by ChampionChip Minnesota, so results are most certainly complete and available, but they are not on the web. I’m guessing that the race director wants to to force us to his own web site instead of onlineraceresults.com, so we have to wait until he’s good and ready to publish them. That’s lame. The days of slow results are long gone - these days the important races have an individual’s results up within minutes of his or her finish, and sometimes in marathons there are online results for each of a runner’s 5k splits, in real time, long before they finish. No excuse for Monday results for a Sunday race. End of rant.

The race was a big one, as usual, the first big race of the race season in Minnesota. A 5k, an 8k, and at least one children’s race. We ran the 8k, which is one of the thirteen Minnesota Grand Prix races. Last year I finished in just a bit over 38 minutes, and it’s my belief (pending actual results) that I finished today in something over 42 minutes. So about 10% slower. At my age I should lose perhaps 4 seconds per mile each year, or about 20 seconds of that four minutes for an 8k race, just by being lucky enough to survive another year. The rest is due to my friend DEX.

The toe didn’t bother, though I did get a little red juice out of it as I prepared for the race. The right knee did hurt a little, in the middle of the knee at the bottom of the cap. That pain went away after a bit, but returned again when the race was over. I’m hoping that’s not a serious problem. But it’s another reason to cut my weekly mileage back.

The weather was excellent. It’s an out-and-back race, and we faced a strong wind going out, but that same wind felt mighty good on our return. We three all enjoyed the race. The last mile is all slightly downhill - one of the best race finishes I've ever seen.

Splits: 8:41, 17:04 (2 mi), 8:56, 8:00 (estimate), total 42:40 (estimate), pace 8:32 (estimate).

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Your basic fruit bowl: Blueberries, pineapple, kiwi, banana, mango, organic nonfat yogurt, Dove dark chocolate.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A week and a Day

Saturday, March 21:

Local roads, 5.1 miles. I was going to run with the St Croix Valley Runners this morning, but cancelled at the last second for personal reasons and ran in the afternoon instead. What a lovely day! Running should always be this good.

I didn’t go very fast - 5.1 miles in 46:31 is a pace of 9:07, but I did walk a little from time to time, trying to take it easy on the black left big toe and save a little for tomorrow’s race. And I really enjoyed the run, unusually so, and definitely felt stronger in the last two miles. It’s good to be outside, I guess. On this particular route there is almost no traffic. I feel safe and comfortable whether warlking or running. I could do this every day. Maybe I should.

My goal for several years has been to build up to 40 miles per week. But I’ve had a hard time keeping up that standard because of various injuries. Knees, Lisfranc ligament, black toe, plantar fascia, Achilles tendon, illiotibial band, other hip issues, you name it, runners get it and so have I. So I’ve changed my goal. Especially now, while I’m on dexamethasone for the cancer, I’m going to reset my running schedule to max out at about 30 miles per week instead of 40. That’s not a lot of miles, but I’m closing in on 70 years. Let’s see if I can avoid more of the injuries that way. If so, then maybe I can think about 40 again.

Splits: 8:49, 9:30, 10:27 (1.1 mi), 8:37, 9:08.

Thursday, March 19:

Local roads, 7.2 miles. This was supposed to be a 16-mile run today, but the toe bothers and I feel swamped with other work because of a remodeling project that we started this week. We have a carpenter, but I’m just (barely) handy enough to help more than I hinder, especially with wiring and plumbing, so I get involved. You know how that goes.

Furthermore, I had not run since Sunday, an unheard-of span of four days, also due to the toe and the remodeling. I felt a little clumsy today, especially at the start, and even within the second mile was walking a little. But the run nevertheless felt very good, and I’m quite happy with it. I don’t have splits, but I’m sure that I got stronger toward the end. At this stage in my life I’d usually rather have an enjoyable run than a hard one that I can’t wait to finish. I’m getting slower anyway, not faster, no sense kidding myself about that! 7.2 miles in 1:07:50, for a pace of 9:25.

Sunday, March 15:

The toe still hurts and there is some obvious bleeding underneath the nail. Nuts. I decided to run two four-mile loops of a route that I call the "flat four" because it’s flat, of course. Better for the toe, and also that way I could opt out after four miles if the toe hurt by then. Sure enough it did, even though it's carefully wrapped with a thin layer of tape. So I opted out, running four miles in 36:50, pace 9:13. Then I doubled back to pick up my sweeties who were running on a nearby route, so I probably put in a total of five miles.

Saturday, March 14:

St Croix Valley Runners. We always run the same 5-mile route, but today I short-circuited it to 3.5 miles. Problem: I didn’t think I had any physical problems during last Thursday’s 13.1-mile run, but later I discovered that the toenail on the left big toe had been injured during the run. This has happened before, to that same toe. I think it happens gradually during a run, so the bruising is not noticeable until later. It doesn’t hurt a lot, but if it hurts while I’m running then I believe I may be injuring it more and I don't want to do that. I'll have to ease up a bit for a while.

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Recent dinner: Wild-caught fish, Sunshine's homemade mango salsa (mostly organic), kiwi, organic mixed vegetables. Enjoyed wiith a nice bock beer.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Half Marathon Run

Thursday, Mar 12:

Thirteen miles on the indoor track, the longest run since the Birmingham marathon almost four weeks ago. I didn’t feel full of extra energy, but there was enough to finish with an overall pace under 9:00. Just enough.

I ran an extra lap and a half, to make it a half marathon, and despite the modest energy level it was the fastest half marathon I’ve run in quite a while. That’s a good thing. Breathing was appropriate for a cruising pace for most of the run, going to three footfalls per full breath, indicating a race pace, for much of the last two miles. Leg muscles felt leaden and empty in those last two miles as well. Very weary. But they kept going, and this run will make them stronger for next week’s longer run.

Water every two miles, Clif Shot gel after miles four and eight. Calf muscles threatened to cramp up after the run, but otherwise NO PAINS at all. Yay! It’s a masterpiece, it really is.

Splits: 8:49, 8:50, 8:58, 8:49, 9:14, 8:49, 9:06, 8:55, 9:17, 8:51, 9:10, 8:51, 9:03, 0:59 (0.11 mi), total 1:57:41, pace 8:59.

Tuesday, Mar 10:

Another Six. An OK day today, six miles in 52:27, pace 8:45. I didn’t feel full of energy, but mostly ran at a comfortable, natural pace, breathing four footfalls per full breath, and had enough to speed up a little in the last mile without breathing much harder. So it must have been an OK run. I ate fairly lightly yesterday, which was DEX day, so muscles were probably not refreshed and refilled as well as they should have been. Hopefully they will be ready by Thursday’s longer run.

Splits: 8:50, 8:36, 8:44, 8:50, 8:52, 8:35, total 52:27, pace 8:45. It’s a masterpiece!

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Dinner: No-hormone no-antibiotic lamb, organic squash, organic salsa, kiwi.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Not So Fast

Sunday, March 8:

Today was one of those slow days, with leg muscles tiring quickly. Two excuses: (1) I ran yesterday, and (2) I ate a big breakfast a couple of hours before running. Whatever, the eight-mile run at the club seemed to start well, but I slowed a little each mile until the last two, where I pushed some to try to keep the overall pace at 9:00 or better. Breathing was moderate throughout, but legs were tired. Nevertheless, it’ll do. No pains.

Splits: 8:57, 8:46, 8:47, 8:59, 9:02, 9:10, 9:08, 9:00, total 1:11:49, pace 8:59.

Saturday, March 7:

St Croix Valley Runners, the standard 5-mile route. Today the risk was ice on pavement. The roads were relatively free of ice, and even the ice that existed was usually easy to avoid. Some of the route is on paved trails, however, and the ice on those trails was not so easily avoided. Tiptoeing happened. No falling though. It’s a good run, mostly with Dave S, who has to hold himself back quite a lot to run with me. George and Dave M were there too, but George is recovering from an injury and didn’t want to run all 5 miles, and Dave started late, never quite catching up.

This group has a pretty strict start time. Northland tennis courts (and ice rinks) in Stillwater, 7:00 am SHARP every single Saturday morning. A few seconds after the 7:00 start time we’re on the way, so be prompt or be left.

Five miles in 44:51, pace 8:58. Plenty good considering the tiptoeing. No pains.

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Dinner: Organic chicken, organic squash with organic salsa, kiwi.

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Breakfast: Gluten-free oatmeal with organic flame raisins, organic strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, walnuts, organic fat-free milk.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Good News

First, there is good news on my myeloma blog. Cancer markers went down. Yay!

Thursday we three went once again to the North St Paul Community Center and ran on the indoor track. Way better than running outdoors on public streets in the fog. I ran ten miles, for the first time in a while, and it was entirely uneventful. No pains, no problems, not even the back pain of three days before.

I took water after every two miles, which accounts for the odd-even difference in splits. In the final two miles I was able to go a little faster, suggesting that maybe I could have maintained the pace a little longer in a race. Next week the "long" run will be 13 miles, building toward marathon season.

Splits: 8:46, 8:50, 9:03, 8:51, 9:02, 8:52, 9:06, 8:47, 8:51, 8:33, total 1:28:41, pace 8:52. It’s a masterpiece!

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Breakfast after Thursday's run: Gluten-free oatmeal with a few organic flame raisins, blueberries, organic strawberries, kiwi, pineapple, walnuts, dark chocolate, fat-free organic milk.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Pain In The Back

Some days are full of energy and some are down days. This one was in the middle. I felt good enough to run comfortably for another six miles at a pace better than 9:00 minutes per mile, but didn’t feel like pushing it any faster.

Yesterday I did a set of resistance exercises which included pushups and assisted pullups. Somewhere in there I injured my back just a little. It feels like a muscle but is very close to the spine, so it could be in a vertebra. A year ago, a PET scan showed a lesion caused by myeloma in the "T10 Spinous Process," which is pretty close to where I feel this pain, generally behind the belly button and slightly to the left. I don’t know how to count my own vertebrae exactly. The spinous process is a bony part of the vertebra that sticks out behind and down, attaching to the muscles of the back. Happily, that part of the vertebra does not support the weight of the body, nor does it enclose the spinal cord.

I’ve done that set of exercises many times in the past year, so it’s a little surprising that it would cause a problem now. I felt it just a little during the run - it bothers more during stretches and when bending over to pick things up. I’ll be at Mayo again soon and we will have a discussion about it. Let’s hope it’s just a muscle.

Splits: 8:56, 8:44, 8:43, 8:48, 8:53, 8:46, total 52:52, pace 8:49.

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Tonight's dinner: Wild-caught Alaskan salmon with yogurt, a little cheese, and spices, organic beet pickles, organic peas, organic sweet pickle relish.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Two More 6-Mile Runs

Sunday, March 1:

Bethel University Indoor Running Track, six miles at about a 9-minute pace. Good enough considering that I ran Saturday too. And the distance is approximate - I ran the outside lane of the track, which is about seven laps per mile. Further, I do think that the rubber track takes away more energy than it gives back. For pure running efficiency I prefer a less-padded surface, like the one at the North St Paul Community Center, or even just an asphalt road. Anyway I’m happy and it’s a masterpiece!

Gary of Charities Challenge sent out an email Sunday morning, taking pity on his friends who might otherwise have to run in sub-zero weather, and inviting us to come run at Bethel. We left the house within ten minutes of opening that email. We all like to run there.

Splits: 9:05, 8:48, 9:01, 9:08, 9:10, total 45:13 for five miles, plus an untimed mile. Pace 9:03 for the timed miles. About.

Saturday, February 28:

I should probably run five miles next time, or seven, just to mix things up. :-) Nine degrees below zero this morning, with loose snow on top of the ice, I ran with my sweeties at the club instead of the Saturday morning St Croix Valley Runners.

Splits: 8:51, 8:41, 8:44, 9:00, 8:56, 8:52, total 53:03, pace 8:51. I ran low on energy and had to push a bit in the last two miles, but some days are like that.

The Brooks Ghost shoes are officially retired now, with 244 miles on them. They were OK but not as good as the discontinued Burns. Also I didn’t size them up another half size as I should have, so they’re a little short. Now I have just two pairs of Burns left, one with 237 miles on them and a "new" (used) pair bought from eBay. That pair looks almost unused, and they’re washed up and ready to be my race shoes, while I finish running 300 training miles (my max) on the pair that now has 237. Then I’ll move into the Brooks Summons as the race shoes and demote that last pair of Burns to training shoes.

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Dinner: Roast no-hormone no-antibiotic pork, organic rutabagas, organic sweet potatoes, organic parsnips, organic catsup, organic black pepper, sea salt. Consumed with a delightful oatmeal stout.