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.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Fourteen Beautiful Miles

What a beautiful day and a wonderful run with friend Jim on the hilly grass, dirt, and sand trails in the park. I had thought to do seven miles in the park and another seven or eight on the dirt road along the railroad track adjoining the park, but Jim isn’t fond of that rock-strewn dirt road (who can blame him) so we did the lovely 7.1-mile park loop twice. And the weather was perfect, about 60 degrees with modest humidity and just enough wind to be refreshing. The grass was a little dewy at 7:00 am, but that didn’t bother much.

No pains! Nothing but a slight hint of calf cramps, because I had forgotten to take my salt. That hint disappeared when I took it. I was even able to run down a couple of hills so steep that I had always walked them before, no problem. I wore the Brooks Summon shoes on those trails all summer, but those are now well over 300 miles and mostly retired, so today I wore my last pair of Brooks Burn shoes instead (discontinued, none to be found anywhere). I believe that is the major reason why I felt comfortable charging down hills - the Burns are just the right shoes for me. Darn it.

I’ve ordered two pairs of new shoes, the Brooks Launch, supposedly the Burn replacement, and the Nike LunarGlide, both in transit right now. I don’t know enough about Nike shoes to be sure that these are a "Burn" equivalent, they probably aren’t, but we’ll see. I’ll blog about them both. And I may try them both on the indoor track first, where I can run a few miles without any wear showing on the shoes. Returnable.

First loop 1:12:31, second 1:16:27, total 2:28:46, pace 10:29. It’ll do.

That's a grapefruit next to ordinary-sized things. I ate it.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Two Runs Today

St Croix Valley Runners:

Twelve of us ran this morning. Gauss is back - that’s very nice. Everyone likes Gauss. I ran most of the way with Paul, though he was able to forge ahead in the last half mile.

Warm and a little humid, it was actually not a bad day to run. Time 45:45 for 5 miles, pace 9:09. Good enough. After running 14 miles in my 5-year-old Nike Pegasus shoes on Thursday, it felt SO good to be in my Brooks Burn shoes today. Last pair - when they’re gone I won’t know what to do - no good replacement yet. The Brooks Summon is OK but not as good as the Burn. Is the Brooks Launch available yet? I’ll have to check. I have some Nikes on order; we'll see if those feel right. 5k race in another hour.

North St Paul District 622 Education Foundation 5k Race:

This turned out to be a small, local race with wonderful door prizes! Sunshine didn’t run, because of her knee injury, but Sweet Pea and I both won door prizes (by drawing), a nice cotton shirt and a travel kit.

I started with Sweet Pea, discovered that she would be OK running alone, and moved off ahead. Finish time 30:33, pace 9:51, not good for a 5k but I have plenty of excuses today, not the least being the 5 miles I ran an hour before.

Happily, the knee problem that appeared after Thursday’s run (ITB maybe?) was no problem today. Better shoes? Perhaps, and also today I was mostly able to avoid running on a slope. I think I'll just toss those old Pegasus shoes.

Splits: 10:38, 19:00 (2 mi), 0:56 (0.1 mi), total 30:33. Humpf.

Today's Breakfast
Today's post-run breakfast. Until recently I have eaten my oatmeal with fruit and milk. Lately I've put organic yogurt on top instead of the milk underneath, for the flavor and especially for the live cultures that are thought to be good for us.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Gateway Trail 14 Miles

Thursday, Aug 13:

Gateway trail, 14 miles, the "long" run of the week. Yesterday was a warm, humid one, threatening high 80's, so I started the run before 7 am, and ran the Gateway Trail because it is dry and shaded.

Also, I don’t seem to be able to run continuously for very many miles anymore, so I deliberately ran two minutes and walked one, keeping to that sequence rather carefully. It worked better than I expected, producing a very nice average pace that would result in a marathon time of about 4:26 if it could be continued that far.

Some minor pain in the right knee, at the bottom of the kneecap - nothing that bothered much, in fact I felt great after the run. Today, however, the day afterward, the right knee has pain on the very outside of the knee joint. I suspect an irritation of the illiotibial band (ITB). Two possible causes: (1) I ran all 14 miles on the right side of the crown of the trail, because the trail was fairly busy with skaters and bikers, and (2) I used a pair of Nike Pegasus shoes that I have had for several years but have probably never used for a run this long. The treatment for minor ITB problems like this is stretching. I do the ITB stretch every time I do my stretches, but perhaps I don’t do my stretches often enough. Time to get serious about them.

Splits: 10:00, 9:39, 10:29, 9:34, 9:35, 10:26, 9:55, 11:01, 10:14, 20:48 (2 mi), 20:19 (2 mi), 9:52, total 2:21:52, overall pace 10:08. Huh - I’m really quite happy about that pace, considering.

Tuesday, Aug 11, 2009:

4.2 miles on local streets, watching road construction and dodging Bobcats. This was a humid morning, so grass was wet and streets were actually a pretty good idea. I didn’t write down the time, but I was pleased when I finished so the pace must have been in the 9's. I felt good afterward.

Yesterday's breakfast: Gluten-free oatmeal with organic raisins and cranberries, blueberries, organic strawberries, organic plum, organic walnuts, organic yogurt. CUB's "Wild Harvest" organic yogurt contains corn starch and carob bean gum, but nevertheless is thin and a bit runny. Trader Joe's organic yogurt has neither of those, but does have vitamin D3 plus four specific active cultures, and is quite a bit thicker. Which would you choose? In the photo is the CUB brand - I'm using it up.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

MDRA 15k Race

I’ve never run the MDRA 15k before. It’s a long way from our home, and if I recall right, until lately it hasn’t been a certified race. I like races that are the right distance. MDRA means Minnesota Distance Running Association, which is the largest running organization in Minnesota. I support MDRA, so perhaps it’s time to pay the fee and do this run, which is one of several races sponsored by MDRA throughout the running season. Besides, I needed a semi-long run of some sort today.

The course is entirely on public streets, but most of them are closed to traffic and we encountered very few cars. It’s a bit hilly, but somehow the runners in this race broke or set nine (9) new Minnesota age records anyway. Nice! What that tells you is that some of the very best runners in the state showed up, and that applies to all age groups. In fact, one of the new records was for a 67-year-old male. Weather was OK - 72 degrees with a light wind, and the sun didn’t show until the last 5k. There is also a 5k race, in which Sweet Pea ran and did well.

Splits: 8:38, 8:46, 9:20, 9:21, 9:44, 9:40, 12:34 (potty stop), 20:06 (2 mi), 2:30. Total 1:30:38, pace 9:45. I slowed a bit toward the end - walking some of the time - my face was getting flushed and I didn’t want to overheat. I finished 5th of 7 in age group 60-69 (I'm 68). I did run about as fast as I could today, given the conditions, so it looks like my 15k pace is about 9:45 these days. No pains! That’s 27.4 miles in the last 4 days. I’ll take tomorrow off, and probably not do another longish run until Thursday - no sense pressing my luck.

Yes, there is oatmeal under there somewhere.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Thunder & Lightning

St Croix Valley Runners regular 5-mile run. Lots of people this morning, despite the Gopher to Badger Half Marathon, which always attracts several of our runners. We even had a new runner, Lisa, who ran way out in front with New Dave. Hope she keeps coming - I’m sure that several of our speediest runners can keep up with her or at least challenge her.

I ran a modest pace, intending to run a 1/4 marathon race (6.55 mi) less than an hour later. It was an enjoyable run, with breath enough to chat a bit with other runners. Time was 46:10, pace 9:14.

A half hour later we three showed up for the Huff & Puff 5k and 1/4 Marathon, just as the thunder and lightning also showed up. Believing that it’s about as smart to run in lightning as it is to golf in lightning, we just collected our shirts and drove home. As far as we know, no one was hurt. We certainly weren’t.

I love this breakfast
Post-run breakfast: Oatmeal and fruit. I do so love this season, when organic fruit and berries are so plentiful and fresh and delicious.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Train Tooted

That’s such a trivial thing for a grown man of 68 to care about, but I love it. As I ran on my favorite dirt road beside the railroad tracks today a train approached, first seeming to peek around a distant corner, howling at each crossing, then growing in size until the engine looked enormous, magnificent, terrifying. I waved with both arms and the engineer tooted twice, just short toots mind you, nothing official, but we both knew who he was tooting at. Go ahead, make my day! I couldn’t see him inside the engine - the sun was wrong, but I suspect he was smiling - they usually are. The three-engine train thundered by for several minutes, traveling opposite my direction, car after car roaring and clickety-clacking, shaking the very earth that I was running on, until it finally ended with three more engines. The black diesel exhaust of those trailing engines implied that they were working too, pushing from behind. I wonder.

My two favorite running venues today, 7.1 miles on the hilly grass trails of the park and 6.0 miles on the dirt road by the tracks. Neither of those is easy running, but they certainly are free of motorized traffic. You might meet up with a horse and rider, or a hiker with his dogs, or the occasional mountain biker, and I met all of those, but no cars! Also three deer, a cottontail, a family of wild turkeys, a hen pheasant, several great egrets, canada geese in V formation, and lots more birds.

The 13.1 miles (accidentally the distance of a half marathon) went by in 2:25:00, for a pace of 11:04. I timed the railroad portion separately, and it came in just under 11:00. That part is flat, of course. I’m unable to run continuously these days, at least for that distance on dirt and hills, so the pace represents a combination of running and walking. I didn’t feel strong this morning, not like Tuesday when I ran after a 4-day respite, but this is the longest run in a month and I’m happy with it. We have a marathon coming up, and it’s time to build back up to a 20-mile distance. I’d like to run the marathon in less than 5 hours.

A slight pain in the right knee this morning - what else is new. No other problems, including and especially the left knee, which had acted up recently but is running smoothly again.

This guy (gal?) likes to hang around our watering buckets, especially when they have water in them. Is it a food thing? Do insects chance by, to become a quick lunch? Often we have seen his/her nose just peeking out of the spout.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Four Days Off

Grandchildren trump almost everything, including running, and ours has been in town. It might have been just as well, though, because during those days I had some pain in the front of my left knee, just below the kneecap, and I might have skipped running anyway. The pain started after some housecleaning, which included some kneeling. Sounds like the meniscus, but it could be nothing more than a ligament. Anyway it’s new, as far as I recall. Today I felt it a little at the beginning of the run, and then it went away. Hope it stays away.

I ran in the park again, on a grass trail with a bike-tire-and-hoof groove down the middle much of the way. No pavement except the parking lot. I expected wet grass this morning, but mostly it was dry, and my shoes remained dry inside. Temp 63 degrees, dew point 54, a runner couldn’t ask for much more.

But I got more. In a remote area I chanced across a family of wild turkeys feasting on horse droppings in the trail, mom with at least 10 middle-size chicks. As I approached, they moseyed off the trail, not in a particular hurry, just disappearing as I passed. I suspect they returned to their yummy breakfast immediately.

And four days off didn’t hurt my energy at all! 7.1 miles in 1:09:44, pace 9:49. That’s as well as I have run in those hilly grass trails all summer, except one run with Jim, who pulls me along whether he means to or not. Great run. Longer one coming up Thursday I hope. Enjoy this wonderful weather before it gets hot and humid, which is coming up next week.

Datura. The blossom lasts barely two days, but new ones keep coming.