Thursday, July 30, 2009

Something Interesting Always Happens ...

Thursday, July 30, 2009:

Something interesting always happens when I run on my favorite dirt road alonside the railroad tracks. This time a train came, heading west as I was running east. I got to a street crossing before the train did. The crossing arms came down as I approached, and a pickup truck (blacktopping company) stopped. Then as I jogged along the track toward the train, crossing the street, the pickup suddenly zoomed around the crossing arms, nearly knocking me down. An opportunity for rarely-used language at high volume: The driver’s ears may still be burning.

And the engineer waved. All good. This was a long train, with several diesel engines on the front and three more on the back. It must have been at least a mile long, because I ran nearly a half mile while it passed in the other direction, going much faster than I was running. I wonder if the engines on the back are actually working, or if they are there just to make it easier for the train to reverse direction when it reaches its destination in the Twin Cities.

This was my "long" run for the week, just ten miles, and I took it slow, running three minutes and walking two, taking water every 15 minutes, and one gel at mile 4. 60 degrees with a little breeze, good running on the dirt road despite the overnight sprinkles. No pains of any kind whatsoever, and I felt stronger at the end than at the start. Breathing easy. End of 30 miles for the week. Next week 30 more, including a longer long run, probably 12 or 14 miles.

Splits: 55:38 (5 mi), 54:49 (5 mi), total 1:50:27, pace 11:03, includes two brief stops to pee. It’ll do just fine.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009:

Short run on local streets, just enough to hopefully keep the muscles in tune. What a beautiful, breezy, cool morning. Perfect running. No pains, no problems. 3.9 miles in 36:36, pace 9:23. Breathing easy most of the way.

Mega Breakfast
Today's post-run breakfast: Gluten-free oatmeal with raisins and cranberries, organic strawberries, pineapple, organic apricot, blueberries, organic walnuts, organic plain yogurt, dark chocolate, organic nonfat milk.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Six Miles in the Park

Another warm run in the park today, 6.25 miles in 1:04:47, pace 10:22. Temp 77 degrees and rising, with a full sun. Jim picked me up and we ran together, though it’s an easy jog for Jim. To underscore that, Jim finished the Lumberjack 10-mile race a full 30 minutes faster than I did. Imagine. Three minutes per mile faster.

I find my speed to be limited mostly by breathing these days, and have to drop to a walk when my breathing rate goes too high. That happens a lot now, though I don’t really mind it. Today’s pace was also affected by the heat, a too-recent breakfast, and no doubt by yesterday’s 10-mile race. But it’s plenty good enough considering the hilly, soft, grass & dirt trail. All good.

I did feel a twinge behind the right knee today, possibly one of the cruciate ligaments. It spoke up sharply yesterday as I rolled out of bed, and muttered a little after the 10-mile race was finished. Today it complained softly as we started the run, but then quieted completely and has been silent since. I think I slept on it wrong, and it will heal by Tuesday.

Now, a few hours after today’s run, I feel a twinge in the right achilles’ tendon. Huh. Hope that’s a short-lived thing. Tomorrow is a day off from running, and a day of stretches and upper-body resistance training.

Lunch: Leftover free-range bison with carrots, rice, and herbs, gluten-free pasta with organic broccoli or maybe Jim's broccoli, organic sweet potatoes with a litte pineapple, organic ranier cherries, organic mustard.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Lumberjack Days 10-Mile Race

Saturday, July 25, 2009:

Out of gas today. I had hoped to be able to run Stillwater's downhill Lumberjack 10-mile race at a pace of 9 minutes per mile, for a finish of 1:30:00. But I ran short of energy, and finished almost seven minutes over my goal and seventh of eight in my age group. Tsk. The last three miles are downhill, but I didn’t do well, walking a lot more than I would have liked.

Problem: I am serious about losing some weight and re-sculpting my body, so last week I followed the program and limited my calories, also tilting the meals a little more toward proteins and less toward carbs. Further, I ran a fairly fast three miles Thursday afternoon. The weight loss is going well, but I probably started the race without a full tank, and it caught up to me. That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.

But what a wonderful race it was this year. Almost always too hot and sticky humid, this year’s 10-mile race was delightful. 68 degrees with a decent dew point and a nice breeze that helped more than it hindered. The organizers have this race down cold, too, so it goes off without a hitch. Many of my friends show up, and there is time to chat both before and after the race. I’ll probably do this race for as long as I can stumble to the finish, and then I’ll switch to the 5k and toddle to that finish.

Splits: 9:38, 8:34, 9:07, 10:11, 10:10, 9:42, 19:00 (2 mi), 10:36, 9:57, total 1:36:56, pace 9:42. It’ll have to do.

Thursday, July 23, 2009:

We three couldn’t run in the morning, and by afternoon the temperature was getting up there, so we went to the club for a short run on the indoor track, a tuneup for the Lumberjack Days races in two days. I ran a little faster than I intended, but it’s all good. No problems, no pains.

Splits: 8:51, 8:35, 8:21, total 25:48, pace 8:36.

Hail you say ...
We had a significant hailstorm Friday morning, some of the hailstones at least dime-sized. Less than a tenth of an inch of rain fell at the airport, but our gauge said 3/4 inch, all arriving in about ten minutes. No damage from the hail, and the rain is more than welcome.

MMmmmm good
Post-race fruit bowl: Blueberries, organic strawberries, organic grapes, banana, organic yogurt, dark chocolate. As good as it looks, it takes me at least a half hour to get around a bowl like this. A very enjoyable half hour, watching the Tour de France and grazing on this. It's a masterpiece!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Way Too Fat

Me. Because of the dexamethasone (DEX) cancer treatment I have lost muscle mass, that's what it does, but at the same time I have gained weight - it does that too. Twelve pounds since the summer of 2006, when I was racing my best and ran TCM in my PR time of 3:36. The result is fat, a layer of fat on my belly and chest, exactly where it goes on men who let themselves go. Since 2006 my marathon time has gone up by almost an hour and a half, and my 1-mile race time by at least a minute and a half. I have NO doubt that this fat is at least partly responsible, along with the reduced muscle mass.

Fortunately, I have a plan. I'm a lifetime member of Weight Watchers, and still go to meetings every month with my sweeties, so I know exactly what to do. I just need to DO it! I started last Sunday, and so far so good. I've started twice before in recent months, but fallen off the wagon. Perhaps this public declaration will give me the incentive to stay on. 12-pound goal, then we'll see if that's enough.


Anyone want to join me? Consider it a challenge if you like - we are challenging ourselves, of course. Choose your plan (Weight Watchers is one of many good plans) and set a goal, then leave a comment here. I'll report my progress every week or two, and you can too if you wish.

Sunday, July 19, 2009:

Another trek in the park, but hot enough that I cut it short. Jim picked me up and we drove to the park to run a route on trails that neither of us has seen in a few years. It started out OK, and the new trails were as lovely as any. Mowed grass, like the others. We intended to go about 9.6 miles on a combination of the old trails and the new.

But I started to overheat in the 82-degree afternoon sun. When that happens my face becomes flushed, and I can feel it getting hot. Slowing to a walk helps a lot, and we did that with increasing frequency. Finally I decided that it would be safer to shorten the run and turn back toward the parking lot, for a total of about 6.0 miles instead of 9.6. That was a good decision. Jim seemed fine, but I wasn’t. Maybe it would have made a difference if I hadn’t eaten lunch just 90 minutes before the run, or if I had brought a water bottle along on the run. Lessons learned. Six miles in 1:00:30 for a pace of 10:05. Faster than I thought, considering the walking.

Saturday, July 18, 2009:

St Croix Valley Runners, five miles again. We tried my big-loop route for the second time, and for the second time the roads didn’t match either the map or Google Earth. New construction. So we had to reverse ourselves once and then cut across a lawn. I’m going to have to actually TRY a route before leading a bunch of runners on it. Tsk.

But I like the route. It does have one tough hill, but that’s not all bad of course. Needs a little tune-up to avoid cutting across a lawn, but I think that’ll be easy. It doesn’t include any roads with speed limits above 30, it does include a lot of trails, and it will be exactly 5 miles when it's tuned up correctly. There’s a good chance that it will be open in the winter, too. We’ll see.

I finished the route last, in almost exactly 46 minutes, for a pace of 9:12. Good enough - it’s a masterpiece.

Click to enlarge
Recent lunch: Organic chicken, vidalia onion, Jim's broccoli, Jim's beans, organic winter squash, organic slivered almonds, organic black pepper, sea salt.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Beautiful Morning

Thursday, July 16:

What a wonderful morning! These are the rare summer days that we treasure. Windows open at night, cool mornings, perfect afternoons. We sure need rain, but if it’s not coming then we might as well enjoy what we do have. Another romp in the park today, same route as yesterday, 8.2 miles, but this time with Jim. I was concerned that I’d be low on energy today, having run just yesterday, but my time was actually five minutes faster than yesterday’s. It pays to run with Jim, for whom this was a nice easy jog in preparation for an upcoming 8k race. Pace was 9:42, quite good for eight miles on grass and dirt. This run finished 28 miles this week, hopefully 30 next week and that will be the limit. Beyond that I seem to slide into some injury of some kind, always different.

We almost ran over a little line of tiny goslings (maybe ducklings) crossing the trail, as they left a lake to hustle into the woods. How cute can you get! No doubt they were following Mom, but we didn’t see her, so she must have reached the privacy of the low plants before we arrived.

No injury today. The left ankle yelled at the start but settled down - sometimes that’s just from being slept on crooked or whatever. The right knee hurt just a very little bit, as it often does, possibly from a floater in the meniscus. My diagnosis. Hips were fine and I tried to balance the slope of the trail half of the time toward each hip. Stretches are key here too, especially in avoiding ITB and bursa problems, and I must admit that I am not as consistent in doing my stretches every day as I should be.

Oatmeal breakfast with a few berries and such.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

First Day of Fall?

I hope not, but it felt like fall this morning. Gray sky, very breezy, 64 degrees. Excellent running weather, actually, and I enjoyed a great 8.2-mile run before breakfast. Time 1:24:08, for a pace of 10:18, which is really quite a bit faster than I’ve been going lately on these grass trails. Don’t know why, but maybe two days off from running helped. Certainly the cool breeze did. I did stop the watch briefly to examine a waterfowl viewing blind built by the Boy Scouts. Nice place to bring a camera. And I stopped a couple of other times just to appreciate the view, but didn’t stop the watch.

No pains, that’s very good. Last week I had a little warning signal from the right hip, most likely the ITB but possibly a bursa. After realizing that the trail tends to lean more to the left than the right when I take the big loop clockwise, I’ve gone the other direction for the last two runs and the right hip has been quiet. I’ve also had a little trouble with the right knee, which I think is a floater in the meniscus, but nothing today. I wonder if the knee is also sensitive to the tilt of the trail. Why not?

I saw no one on the trail today except a father and son walking together. I ran up behind them, and unfortunately startled the father rather badly. He really jumped. He laughed as I passed by, saying he imagined I was a bear. But I learned a lesson - I should have alerted them before I got so close - all the more important in such a solitary location. Whistling a tune would do it, but I can’t whistle on the run. I’ll just have to yell.

Except for my little road along the railroad tracks, I’ve never been too interested in training on dirt or grass trails, preferring blacktop. But this summer I’m certainly enjoying the park trails. Not sure why the difference. Today I saw a fawn, rabbits, blue heron, great egrets, canada geese, ducks, red-winged blackbirds, and a bluebird. That’s part of the attraction. It’s a masterpiece.

Recent lunch: Gluten-free pasta with really good stuff in it (but I don't remember what), organic chard with a little shredded cheese and possibly a few cranberries under the cheese, organic pecans, organic red cherries.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Another Romp in the Park

We three all went to a park this morning, each running or walking a somewhat different route depending on our current injuries. I ran 6.6 miles in 1:13:00 for a pace of 11:01, though I spent a few extra minutes at the beginning figuring out the route, so the time is not too credible. I felt good the whole time, and probably actually ran about 10:00 or so. Lovely morning, 65 degrees and not too humid, slight breeze, beautiful summer wildflowers. All but about a mile of the run was on hilly grass trails. Nice.

It’s been a long time since I ran with my heart rate monitor, and I wanted to see what it would say. Average heart rate was 126 over the whole 6.6 miles. I charged up a few hills to try to push the HR up as far as it would go, and 142 was the highest reading I ever saw. In contrast, before I started taking the cancer medicines a year and a half ago, my heart rate could easily be pushed up to 150 and even 160.

I think the dexamethasone (DEX) makes it harder to go as fast as I used to go back then, because it has taken away muscle mass, and the pomalidomide keeps the heart from beating as fast as it should even if I do go as fast as before. But the cancer is stable and life is good, considering the alternative. It’s a masterpiece!

Chicken dinner
Dinner last night: Roasted organic chicken (I'm partial to the leg), organic sweet potato with pineapple slices (expertly seasoned by Sunshine), organic nectarine, tasty oatmeal stout.

We Didn't Go

Saturday, July 11:

We were all set to go run the Psycho Psummer 50k Trail Run in Kansas City, KS. But I learned a lesson at Grandma’s Marathon and didn’t want to run in temps and humidity that high again. The KC forecast for today was for a high of 90 and dew points in the low 70's. It seemed a poor choice for my first ultra. Furthermore, Sunshine has a bad knee and couldn’t run, and I seem to have a slightly sore hip, so we didn’t go.

Instead, we ran with the St Croix Valley runners Saturday morning, the usual five miles. The route was new, however. We’re looking for an alternative to the old route which travels along a heavily-traveled highway for a mile or so. This time Wayne took us on a nice 5-mile route through neighborhoods, along some trails, and across a lovely long wooden bridge in Stillwater. It’s a bit hilly but I like it, though it might not be plowed in the winter - we’ll see. I dropped behind the group to run a while with another guy who ultimately took a shortcut back to the finish. Then I couldn’t catch up and finished LAST, in 45:32, for a pace of 9:06. Good enough though. I’ll take it.

Friday, July 10:

Sweet Pea and I ran & walked a short distance today, in case we decide to go to Kansas City tomorrow. That’s not looking good - the weather looks seasonal, which is to say UGLY for a 50k trail race. She did 4 k and I did a little over 5k, all on local neighborhood roads, quite early in the morning. I didn’t take a watch and don’t really know how fast I ran. Fast enough.

Breakfast: Gluten-free oatmeal with raisins and cranberries, organic strawberries, blueberries, papaya. organic walnuts, organic nonfat milk.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Three Hot Runs

Tuesday, July 7:

Five miles today in the noonday sun. Sweet Pea and I went out for a run in a local neighborhood, she running a little less distance. We like that - we do repeats of a loop that’s a bit less than a mile, in opposite directions, and greet each other every few minutes. It works. And the loop was less boring than usual today, because of some construction that we could ogle each time we passed by.

Total time was 56:42, for a pace of 11:34. That includes a significant amount of walking with Sweet Pea. I ran at a pace of 9:21 in the central loops. Afterward, though not during the run, I felt a little ache in the right hip that could be either a bursa or the ITB. I’ve had trouble with both, and could have annoyed either of them on the very uneven grass trails in the park two days ago, and some more today on the left side of a road that does have a significant crown. I’ll run very short on Thursday, preferably on flat and level pavement. Maybe the Gateway. Even 3 miles would put me at 26 for the week - enough considering that I ran three marathons in June. Building back toward 30 miles per week.

Sunday, July 5:

With a 4-mile race behind me Saturday, this was a good day to try some hot-weather running. There is a chance that I will do a long race in hot weather soon, longer than a marathon, and a nice 14-mile training run would help my body become conditioned to that. I ran in my usual park, one loop of 6.9 miles and another of 7.1 miles, all on energy-sucking grass & dirt trails. No pavement. Walked up most hills and at other times as well, water every 15 minutes, salt and a gel about every 45 minutes. The afternoon temp was about 85 and the blistering sun showed no mercy. Sometimes I felt a little flushed in the face and slowed just to cool off a bit.

It went OK, though not wonderfully well. I finished in 2:39:57 for an overall pace of 11:26. If that pace could be extrapolated to a marathon, it would mean a finish of almost exactly 5 hours. But I must say that I don’t know where the energy would come from for the rest of a marathon, much less an even-longer race. I felt pretty well wiped out after these 14 miles. I’d have to slow down even more, walking still more of the time, if I would expect to finish an ultra in such hot weather.

There is good news though. I felt no sign of the calf cramping that hampered me in Grandma’s Marathon. Of course that problem really didn’t stop me in Grandma’s until mile 16, but I think I’d have felt some symptoms in 14 miles of hilly trail running. Appropriate hydration and salt intake probably did make a difference.

Gel was Hammer Gel, free handouts from Grandma’s Marathon, and it caused no gastric problems at all. I always took it with water, of course. I tried my new Dirty Girl Gaiters and got no rocks or sand in my shoes.

First loop 1:14:53 (6.9 mi) = pace 10:51, Second loop 1:25:04 (7.1 mi) = pace 11:59, total 2:39:57 (14 mi), overall pace 11:26.

Saturday, July 4:

Marine on St Croix held the 39th running of its 4-mile race celebrating the Fourth of July and benefiting the Marine on St Croix Restoration Society and Marine National Holidays Committee. Several of the St Croix Valley Runners traditionally run that race; it’s a nice little downhill jaunt.

I ran about as fast as I could, finishing the 4.1 (or so) miles in 34:26 for a pace of 8:30. I guess that’s probably my 5k pace right now, or 4-mile downhill pace. In 2006 I finished the same race six minutes faster. I did walk a few times. Dave finished ahead of me pushing a stroller! I hate that. But Dave has always been faster than me. I placed 7th of 13 in the 60+ age group. In fact I’m proud to see that 13 of the 129 runners were men over 60. Good health to us!

Hoot hoot
We think this pretty girl is a Barred Owl, often called a hoot owl. She graced us with her presence for a couple of days recently, not far from our kitchen window. On and off. According to the bird book she eats anything smaller than her that runs, crawls, wiggles, swims, or flies, though she can't catch a smaller bird on the wing. She is especially keen on moles, voles, and mice. Good for her! She normally hunts at night, but may hunt during the day if she is feeding her chicks. She might also be a he - the sexes are almost indistinguishable, especially to us.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Romp in the Park

Another nice run on grass trails in the park today, 6.3 miles in 1:05:53, for a pace of 10:27. Actually a little faster than Sunday with Jim, but I felt a little more rested today and didn’t run quite as far. It was HOT though - only 75 degrees on the thermometer, but it seemed a lot hotter when the sun shone, which was about half the time. Humid, too, I was sweating. I ran most of the time, but walked up a lot of the many short hills and even walked a little on the flat.

Wildflowers are in full bloom, it’s a beautiful time to run in a park. The route even included a short piece of my favorite dirt road along the railroad tracks. Enjoyable run, total of 23 miles this week. I need to ramp that up a bit, but maybe not next week. Might do a long race at the end of next week. We’ll see.

Yummy salad
Big salad: Jim's organic lettuces, organic strawberries, organic grapes, olives, coconut, organic red-wine vinegar.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Rock for Broc 1-Mile Race

Rock for Broc 1-mile outdoor track race. This was a benefit for local runner and showshoer Cindy Brochman, who is fighting cancer. The weather could not have beem more perfect for an evening run; low 60s and cloudy. Lots of the running regulars showed up, including a few who were injured and couldn’t actually run. Lots of spectators. I hope the fundraiser went well.

The race sure did, for me even. Wonderful 400-meter track at Macalester College. Very well organized in appropriate heats, from ten minutes and slower to 5:15 and faster. I was impressed at how well the race was run. Results are expected to be on Raceberry Jam soon.

I had not run a one-mile race in over a year, so I didn’t know how fast I could go. My PR is just under 6 minutes, three years ago, but I’m not going that fast any more. I decided to start at an 8:00 pace and then ramp it up if I was doing OK at the half-mile. The time at the 1/8 mile was 1:02, almost right on the 8:00 pace. At the half it was 4:00, exactly on. I felt good and was able to speed up a little in the next quarter, and a little more yet in the last quarter, even sprinting on the last straightaway, for a finish of 7:36. My time on the posted printout was 7:26, but my watch is correct I’m sure. I’d like to take the extra ten seconds, but I know better. Next time I might be able to finish a little sooner by starting out a bit faster and running even laps.

I also ran two easy miles in warmup, and another two in cooldown, for a total of five miles. I feel good! Mostly recovered from all of the marathons now I think. It’s a masterpiece.

Recent breakfast: Organic oatmeal with cranberries and organic raisins, organic nectarine, organic pecans, organic strawberries, blueberries, nonfat organic mild, one organic ranier cherry.