Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Trails Are Still Wet

The morning was lovely for walking: sunny, 65 degrees, just a little breeze.  It wasn't perfect for running, a bit warm and humid, and the grass trails were wet from yesterday's rain, but the paved trails were dry and calling out to me.  I felt like doing an easy one-hour run, so I started with a run/walk ratio of two to three, but I felt good and gradually flipped it to a ratio of three to two.

Distance 4.95 miles, time 57:30, pace 11:37.

Whining:  Only the slightest complaint from the right knee with PFS.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Forgot to Start the Watch

No biggie - considering the rain and threat of more, and yesterday's longish run, we decided to run just 40 minutes today.

Gluten-free crust,
organic everything else
We opted for the paved trails instead of the wet, muddy, slippery grass, choosing a 3.53-mile figure-eight route which allowed us to park near the center, putting us all as close as possible to the car in case of lightning.  Our rule: At the first flash flash or the first rumble, stop and return to the car with all deliberate speed.

I forgot to start my watch at the beginning of the first loop, but I did a 1 to 1 run/walk which resulted in a pace of 10:48 for the second loop.  I felt very strong throughout, enjoyed the run, and finished strong.

Whining: None!

East split: 22:22 for 2.07 mi, pace 10:48 for the second loop.

Monday, May 26, 2014


Monday, May 26, 2014 (Memorial Day):

Maybe we'll get summer after all.  Today's run was on the grass trails again, in the bright sun, with a temperature of 74 and a dew point of 64.  This was a sticky run, and I was drenched at the finish, but I enjoyed it.  I did a target run/walk ratio of 2 to 3 again, and finished 7.18 miles in 1:27:49, for a pace of 12:14, almost exactly the same as yesterday's pace, and with the addition of two more miles.

I was careful not to do any long downhill runs today, maintaining the 2 to 3 ratio instead, and the PFS in the right knee did not appear, though a little of  it did show up later on the stairs at home.

Best news of all: I felt strong at the start, and even stronger at the end.  Great run - it's a masterpiece!

Sunday, May 25, 2014:

Friday's short & fast (for me) run took so much out of me that I skipped yesterday's run altogether.  Today I felt like having a nice, easy run on my favorite trails.  Using a run/walk ratio of 2 to 3, I ran 5.16 miles in 1:03:15, for a pace of 12:15, more than two minutes per mile slower than the "race" I ran on Friday.

Whining:  I did have some trouble with the PFS in the right knee, especially on two particular occasions, after doing a long, downhill run in each case.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

3.7 Miles No Walking

May 24, 2014:

Except down a few steep hills to avoid knee injury.  We ran under a bright sun, 73 degrees, with no wind.  I decided to run without walking and went 3.73 miles

Life is good
in 37:01, for a pace of 9:55.  Not bad for those trails, actually, considering the iffy footing, the hills, and even one stream that had to be crossed by hopping from one rock to another.

I didn't feel strong today, probably because I'm limiting calories, and I may have run a little too fast, because it felt like a race pace throughout, and I was having a tough time maintaining the pace toward the end.  I was very warm, and so glad to be finished.

Whining: The PFS in the right knee mumbled part of the way, but was worse after we got home and I had to use the stairs.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Mad Dogs and Englishmen

Go out in the midday sun.   I've used that quote before, but it became appropriate again today.  We actually left for the park at 1:00 pm, but that's noon according to the sun.  It wasn't so bad, actually - the sun was bright and constant, but the temperature was 69 with a little west wind and a low dewpoint.  We lathered up well with our favorite super sun screen, (VaniCream SPF 35, from Mayo Clinic, stays on for a whole marathon), and had a great run.

Indigo bunting on our feeder skirt.
They really do look that bright.

I didn't feel as strong as yesterday, but I'm limiting calories right now to lose a little weight, and that's probably the reason.  Regardless, I did a 3 to 2 run/walk and finished 6.24 miles in
Grass trails are sometimes just
dirt (left) and sometimes improved
with wood chips (right)
1:08:10, for a pace of 10:55.  That's a mile farther and yet a half minute per mile faster than yesterday, though it did feel a bit like a race today.  We parked in the main parking lot, and I found myself running directly to the water fountain there at the end of the run.

Whining: Just a little complaining from the PFS in the right knee, not a limiting factor.  After the run, the left knee bothered a little too, but I didn't analyze it to figure out what type of injury it is.

Weight this morning 161.8, same as yesterday.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Five Miles a Little Faster

I'm back on the grass trails after more than two inches of rain two days ago.  They are mostly dry, with only a few spots so wet that I had to creep along the edges.  After taking a day off to rest a back pain, I felt very strong and increased my pace a little compared with other recent runs on this same trail, doing a run/walk ratio of 3 to 2, sometimes faster than that.

Standard breakfast, mostly
organic, oatmeal beneath.

I finished the 5.16 mile run in 59:02, a minute faster than Monday, and for a pace of 11:26.  If I had run continuously I might have done better yet, but I'm building up to that slowly.  I did three miles recently, so four miles next, maybe later this week.  I'm also trying to lose at least ten pounds, which I currently wear around my waist, and that will help.  I started at 164 lb after the recent Fargo Marathon, down to 161.8 today.

Whining: Slight mumbling from the PFS in the right knee.  No problem from the back pain.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Ahead of the Rain

Rain was forecast for most of today, so we got up a little earlier than usual and went to the park.  I ran on my favorite grass trails, using a 1 to 1 run/walk ratio and even a little faster than that at times, hustling a bit to get back to the car before the rain hit.  Indeed, I never felt a drop but the windshield was dotted with droplets as we drove away.  Perfect timing.  Now as I write this, lightning is crashing about, rain is falling in buckets, and I am delighted to be safe and warm indoors.

Distance: 5.16 miles; time: 1:00:01, pace 11:38.  This is the same route as last Thursday, and I finished it about a minute and a half faster today.  That’s nice, but I’m surprised that the difference isn't even greater.  The run was thoroughly enjoyable, with cool, cloudy, breezy weather and soft, dry trails.  It doesn't get much better.

Whining:  The right knee with PFS complained a little, but not enough to bother.  I felt a brief, sharp pain in the right side of my back, just below the rib cage, about where I suppose my right kidney would be.  I think it was muscular, though, and it mostly went away.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Do Not walk

The grass trails are still beckoning, and this time I decided to do a run that included no walking at all.  Not a long one, just three short miles, but I ran the whole way except to briefly walk carefully down a few steep hills.  it went well, in lovely running weather, and I enjoyed it.  Of course I have to run slower  when I don't do any walking, but for a short distance like this I can probably get to the end faster doing run-only instead of the usual run/walk.

I can't prove that today, however, because I forgot my watch.  Looking at the clock in the car, though, it took me between 31 and 32 minutes to run 3.01 miles, so if my time were 31:30, the average pace was 10:28.  I'm happy with that - the route is quite hilly and a little treacherous, requiring careful foot placement. Tomorrow I'll go back to the run/walk, which is easier on my ancient joints and muscles, but maybe I'll run four miles without walking sometime soon, and then maybe five, and we'll see where that goes eventually.

Whining: Zip.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Six Slow Miles

Since the 26-mile marathon I've run 12 miles, with six more on tap for today, totaling 44 for the week.  That's more than I should run in a week, of course, so it puts me at risk of some runners' injury (any of many).  Nevertheless I took the risk because  (1) there is no impending marathon; (2) I'm feeling very strong; (3) I could deliberately take it slowly; and (4) I really really wanted to do this run today.  The trails were calling!

Today's breakfast, mostly organic.
Oatmeal beneath.
I started off slowly, as intended, but I had slightly misjudged the weather, wearing one shirt too few, and decided to go faster to keep warm.  Then I felt pain in the right knee with PFS, and had to slow again, a lot.  When that subsided I could go faster again, and overall, in the end, I suppose I went faster than I had intended.  6.24 miles in 1:18:44, pace 12:37.

But I had a great time!  Near the end I realized that my legs were fatigued, which is good for a training run; it means that training is happening.

Whining: The right knee was worse today than yesterday, and the pain actually limited my pace for a while.  The PFS comes and goes, though, and toward the end of the run the pain was almost gone again.  I'll take the next day or two off (yard work instead) and it will clear up.  Also, I'm planning to start a set of resistance exercises, which will include the core-strength exercises that can fix the PFS.  Watch this space, see if it really happens.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Five Miles on the Grass Trails

I pushed a little harder today than yesterday, because it felt good.  The run/walk ratio was 2 to 3 some of the time, but 1 to 1 more of the time.  I finished 5.16 miles in 1:01:24, for a pace of 11:54.  Today was windier, more cloudy, and colder than yesterday, at 46 degrees, but shorts and two shirts did the trick nicely.

Whining:  Minor complaints from the right knee with PFS (patellofemoral syndrome) but that’s to be expected when running on uneven surfaces.  It will be OK.  Six miles tomorrow?  We’ll see - there is yard work to be done too.

Yesterday's breakfast:  Organic fresh blueberries & strawberries, fresh
mango, dried organic currants, roasted hazelnuts, organic plain
yogurt, with gluten-free oatmeal beneath.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Grass Trails!

Wide grass with a narrow rut,
typical of the park's trails
At last, the trails are firm enough for running and I don't have to be extra-careful, because there is no big race coming up.  I ran 4.03 on the grass trails this morning savoring my first spring run on my favorite trails.  I do love it.  There were a few wet spots, but nothing a runner couldn't avoid.

This was the second recovery run since Saturday's Fargo Marathon, and I felt great, charging up hills because it felt good and cruising down easy slopes too.  I walked down steep slopes, though, to protect my knees.  The run/walk ratio was 2 to 3, time 49:42, pace 12:26.  The grass trails are always slower.

Whining: None.  Five miles tomorrow?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Three-Mile Recovery Run

After a marathon we usually take two days off and don’t run until the third day.  That’s today, and we went for a short run on the park’s paved trails.  I’m still anxious to run on the grass trails, but they’re pretty soggy today.

2.91 miles in 34:35, pace 11:53.  I did the same run/walk of 1 to 2 that worked for me three days ago in the marathon.  No problems, not even sore muscles, maybe just a little weakness.  That should clear in the next few days with a few more recovery runs.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Fargo Marathon Review

Lovely, typical Fargo neighborhood
We three have done 82 marathons now, and we enjoyed Fargo as much as any.  The weather helped too, 48 degrees and sunny at the start, 65 degrees and cloudy at my finish, with enough breeze to make it interesting.  I crossed the mat at 5:31:56, just two minutes over my best-hope time considering that I had run a marathon just two weeks ago.  If I hadn't stopped to chat with a few homeowners along the way I might have been under 5:30, who knows?

The Fargo Marathon:

Special lane to allow fast runners
to pass slower ones.  It didn't work,
I bet they'll do it better next year.
Fargo, North Dakota and Moorhead, Minnesota seem to be one town, Fargo on the west bank of the great Red River of the North and Moorhead on the east.  Even the street-naming and numbering seem mostly consistent from one side of the river to the other.  The combined population of the metro area is almost a quarter million and growing rapidly.  We parked our car in Minnesota, started the race on the bridge between the states, ran parts of the race in each state, and finished in North Dakota just a few blocks away from our car.  For 50-states purposes I suppose a person could claim either state (not both!), but I consider this my second North Dakota marathon.
No shortage of cute kids in
the Fargo neighborhoods

The race is flat.  We runners joked with each other about that a few times as we climbed up a bridge or out of an underpass, but the joke was over pretty quickly and we were back on the flat.  This is a river valley, but it's a river that spreads out very wide when floods come.  From the top of a stepladder you can see ten miles in any direction.  I like flat - otherwise it's called "challenging," and 26 miles is challenge enough for me these days.

The race is well organized, too.  We ran it in 2006, the marathon's second year, and it was well organized even then, presumably getting better every year since.  We liked the expo, the packet pickup, the start, the finish, and especially the course.
Motivational couch, beer included

We ran through the downtown, along the river, and through neighborhoods with lots of cheering spectators.  Never once did I feel any threat from vehicle traffic.  The race is almost entirely on roads, closed to traffic, with the route clearly marked on the pavement in white spray paint.  Fargo calls itself "City of Parks," and indeed we did run by several parks and right through a couple.  We also ran smack dab through Concordia College, a main-line Lutheran college that's close to Ardis' heart as a Lutheran pastor.

Other stuff:

  • Shirt: "It seemed like a good idea 4 months ago."  
  • Shirt: "Toenails are overrated."  
  • Shirt: "I thought they said RUM."  
  • Sign: "Worst parade ever!"  
  • Couch occupied by men drinking beer, labeled "Motivational Couch."  
  • Table & chairs with people drinking beer, labeled "Drinking Team with a Running Problem."  
  • A whole band of bagpipers.  I love bagpipes (I'm partly Scottish by birth and definitely by affinity.)
  • Lots of other bands, though some had their loudspeakers turned up painfully high.  I think there were as many bands in Fargo as there were in Nashville, a "Rock n Roll" marathon.

These two have great sisters
Along the way we ran through a neighborhood where dozens of lovely and expensive homes on the Fargo bank of the river were being destroyed or moved out to make way for a bigger, stronger, multi-million-dollar dike.  Those homeowners had "taken the buyout."  Others hadn't, and their fate is unclear.  Will Fargo assert eminent domain and force them to move?  I spoke to several nervous homeowners in their yards, as they watched the marathon and chatted with their neighbors, pondering their future together.  You guys need a lawyer?  Kidding.

My Race:

Quite near the finish, actually
This may have been my best marathon of the five so far this year.  Certainly it was my best finish time, and I enjoyed it as much as any and more than most.  I'm surprised, actually, that I could finish so soon with just two weeks rest after the Nashville Marathon.  I started with a run/walk ratio of 1 to 2, and was able to sustain that most of the way.

My legs did feel a little fatigued already at mile six, which is too early in the race, but I suppose that was from the short two-week recovery.  On the other hand I felt a resurgence of energy much later in the race, after twenty miles, which is quite unusual but most welcome.

Happy Don in the last mile
Whining: Very little!  In the last third of the last mile of the race I started to cramp up, forcing me to walk without running for just that short way, and around that time I also noticed just a little of the back pain that I had been so concerned about before the race.  That close to the finish, neither of those problems was much bother.

Splits: 12:18, 12:17, 12:10, 11:50, 12:15, 11:57, 16:55 (nature break), 13:01, 12:00, 24:00 (2 mi), 13:29, 11:43, 12:21, 12:19, 13:31, 12:11, 12:39, 11:51, 13:57, 12:01, 12:52, 12:37, 12:45, 12:15, 13:36 (cramping), 3:10 (0.2 mi), total 5:32:26 by my watch,  5:31:56 by the chip on my bib.  Why the 30-second discrepancy?  I dunno - my old watch seemed to work perfectly, and I think it's correct, but I won't complain.

My Sweeties:

Despite Ardis' painful joints, she and Sarah finished their half marathon within their time goal and had an enjoyable race.  I hope they don't get tired of running marathons before I do.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Grass Trails Beckon

Friday, May 9, 2014:

I think they're ready, perhaps a little muddy in spots, but I could enjoy them.  Not yet, though, because they post a little risk of a twisted ankle or foot, so I don't run on my favorite trails right before a marathon.

We finished the Nashville Marathon almost two weeks ago, and we are doing another this weekend.  I have been too busy to post the runs in between, but there have been six:

Date Place Miles Time Pace
5/06   Park 3.2   36:48   11:30   Run 1, walk 2
5/05   Park 2.1       A little weak today
5/03   Park 4.9       Run 1, walk 2
5/02   Park 3.8   42:47   11:16   
4/30   YMCA 3.0   33:54   11:18   Somewhat better
4/29   YMCA 3.0   35:14   11:44   First recovery run

North Dakota State's official logo
is the bison.  This one is more
colorful than most.
Everything is better except the backache.  The Mayo x-ray doesn't indicate any bone issue, though, so I'll just have to see how it feels.  I'll start with a run/walk ratio of 1 to 2, or maybe even 2 to 5.  I never take ibuprofen or naproxen before a race, but I'm thinking of bringing one naproxen capsule along just in case.

The course is open for seven hours, but there is a threat of rain and even thunderstorms in the afternoon.  Race directors don't like lightning, so I'll move along with all deliberate speed and hope that the course doesn't get closed before I finish.

Next post will be post-race.