Wednesday, August 30, 2006

It's All Downhill from Colorado, Right??

ORN: 5 miles, light drizzle, cool, good pace.

After a day off, I was pleased to have a nice 5 miler this morning. Took a mile or so to figure out how I was feeling. I then just opened it up for the rest of the run. It felt really good and I was encouraged that I could do that after the tough 20 miler on Monday. I'll do 8 on Thursday morning.

Then, life gets a bit interesting.

My oldest son, David, the Army medic, is deploying to Iraq in early October. He, his wife and three kids are currently stationed in Colorado Springs. Susan and the kids want to live here in Lafayette, Indiana during the deployment where she has the support of family, friends and church. Soooooooo.

On Friday morning, I fly at 6am from Indy, getting to Colorado Springs around noon. David and Susan and Army pals will have a big U-Haul truck packed by then. They will put the three kids and a dog and themselves into their minivan and head east. I'll give them all a hug and hop in the truck and do likewise. They will drive straight through. I'll stop once or twice and get here by Sunday afternoon.

At which point we then unload the truck and set them up in a house.


I'll post on Labor Day and let you know how it goes.


PS. I messed something up on Blogger and the side bars are waaaaaay down on the page. Sorry, I have no clue what happened.

Monday, August 28, 2006

20 Miler #1 done, no matter how unelegant

ORN: 20.0 miles, 3:36:47, 10:50/mile

Humidity. Again. Oppressively so today. And your intrepid running blogger forged forth to do the first of two scheduled 20 milers.

Actually, I had to run today or not do it at all, due to a full weekend of business meetings in Chicago. We had rain overnight, forecast for rain today, and the air was just heavy. I decided to try to do the run at a 9:40 pace and set out to do just that.

The first 10 went well, with spilts:

9 45, 9 36, 9 18, 9 47, 9 44
9 59, 9 36, 9 53, 9 25, 9 31.

This got me down to the heart of the Purdue campus, pretty much as morning classes were changing. Boy did I feel old.

And the heat really set in at this point. The sun came out and the stifling nature of the morning set in further. I really felt lousy, but had to keep going. I shifted to a run 4 minutes/walk 1 minute pattern and that helped. I just plodded out the rest of the run and the splits for the last 10 miles showed it:

10 40, 10 51, 11 24, 11 19, 12 03.
11 49, 12 29, 12 23, 13 30, 13 25.

It got tougher and tougher.

I got it done. I drank fluids all afternoon and let's just say it was all input and no output. So, there was probably a good bit of dehydration going on. I did have Gatorade set up every 2.5 miles or so...perhaps not enough.

So, there, one 20 miler done. Need to do it again in 2 weeks. 5 weeks to go to Portland, where I'm really banking on it being not humid!!!

Persevere. Even in the humidity.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Bits and Pieces from Parkersburg Half Marathon Road Trip

ORN: 4.78 miles, 46:37, 9:45/mile

Several further comments from the road trip last weekend.

Oxymoron? Somewhere in east Indiana along I-70, I came to a bridge across a small stream. The sign said "Nameless Creek."

Continuing Fine Cuisine Another odd food habit of mine when I head south or east is eating at Waffle House. If you've traveled in the southeastern US at all, you recognize the ubiquitous, tiny, roadside cafes at (seemingly) every interstate junction. My family is not so impressed with WH, but since I'm by myself, I ate there twice. Can't beat those waffles....

Best Country Music Title Youngest son Matt has a real love for country music and has triggered some interest on my part. Scanning the dial in SE Ohio, I came to a country station playing a song "Bubba Shot the Jukebox." A sad tale, indeed. Bubba's woman left him and as he drowned his sorrows at the bar, someone played "their" song. He couldn't take it.
Bubba went to his truck and grabbed his .45

The sheriff ruled it justifiable homicide.
Great stuff, ya'll.

Now, to today's run.

I'm in Chicago on business. Had some time off on Saturday afternoon, so got out in the 80+ temps and 90+% humidity and wanted to do 5. My, some nice places here in suburban Bloomingdale.

The right foot sent some pain signals just before I finished, and so I cut it off, knowing I still need to do 20 miles this weekend. That will probably happen early Monday morning and will be a good test.

And I sure am glad I don't have to persevere through Chicago traffic every day.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Pix from Parkersburg Half Marathon

ORN: Wednesday: 8 miles Thursday: 5 miles

As previously promised here are some photos from last Saturday's Parkersburg Half Marathon. Many thanks to my brother in law Frank for the photos from his super-cool Nikon digital camera with the mega lenses!!

Here I am, waving at the start. About 850 runners in total, I'd guess. Note for us safety gurus: Frank used a flash for this picture and you can see all the reflectors on all the shoes bounce the flash back at the camera. Nice to know on a dark morning.

I was still feeling pretty good at this point.

Frank moved to the 10.5 mile mark, where the course crosses a bridge from South Parkersburg back into Parkersburg. This is the lead pack of the men's race. It had thinned from 20 earlier on to this group of six. These guys were flying. Frank and Karen noted there was a Very Large Gap to the next group of runners. Alas, I was in neither group...

After going to a local coffee shop for a lesiurely breakfast, coffee and paper, Frank came back to the same spot and had plenty of time to se me finally run by. I had packed in my plans for the race around the 9 mile mark and was not feeling too good here, but the sight of family was most encouraging.

So I ran over and gave my sister a hug. Then we showed the backs of our matching T shirts to Frank for this photo op. A year or so ago, Karen had scanned and photoshopped two photos of our Dad from his years of playing football at Notre Dame. I then found a place to put them on shirts, which we ended up making for all the kids, grandkids and great grandkids, about 40 shirts in all. I included one for my running on Cool-Max. Dad died in 1993, yet continues to be a source of joy and fondness in what he and Mom modeled for Karen, me, our two other sisters and the rest of the extended clan. Karen walked in the associated 2 mile walk Saturday and we thought Dad was smiling to see the two of us in the same event wearing his football photos on our shirts. I've worn this shirt in about five races now and it is always a pleasure to honor Dad this way.

Eventually, the race ended. Here I am with about a tenth or so to go. Hardly awe-inspiring. I was vertical, however.

Recovery was quick and sweet, however. Karen and I found a shady spot and, man, how good did it feel to get into a dry shirt and socks!

It was a hot, muggy day. But it is always fun to race and even better to be with family, both on the back and in the crowd. I have much to be thankful for.


Sunday, August 20, 2006

Race Report:Parkersburg Half Marathon

ORN: 13.1 miles, 2:06:20, 9:40/mile

Quick Summary

Heat, humidity and hills all trump good intentions. They also teach good lessons. A well-organized event with a tough course. My 9:20/mile target crumbled at mile 9. And it was a good reminder to account closely for conditions on race day.

The Gory Details

Prerace. I drove the 7 hours to West Virginia on Friday and it was great to see my sister Karen for the second time in a week. We checked in and drove the course. The hills strained the mini-van engine. But did I modify my objectives? Nope. We had pasta and a good nights sleep.

Saturday morning, we got downtown early. My first clue that it would be a tough day was that I broke a sweat in the four-block-walk from the parking lot to the start area. Easily over 90% humidity and the temp was already in the mid 70s at 7am. Did I modify my objectives? Nope.

The race organizers really do a good job on this race. Parkersburg is a small city, a long ways from anywhere on the Ohio River, SE of Columbus Ohio. And this half-marathon is a Really Big Event there. The atmosphere at the prerace was terrific and well done, making the trip well worthwhile.

We lined up for the 8am start and off we went.

The Race. I really did try to hold to my 9:20 target. And man, was that hard. Mile one was net down hill and I hit the marker at 8:32. I rationalized the quick time by telling myself it was much downhill. Mile 2 though had a long uphill climb and it went by at 9:14. Closer to 9:20, but hey, it was uphill. I felt smug. And was soaked already. Should have been a reminder to me.

Miles 3-9 were mostly rolling rises and falls. During ths stretch we were treated to very enthusiastic water stop volunteers (they had 18 water stops for a 13 mile race...very impressive) and lots of residents in their yards, cheering, playing music and generally being very civic-minded. Mile 3 was better at 9:52, mile 4 at 9:25, mile 5 at 9:33. Still ahead of 9:20 on the Garmin, but coming back to normal.

Miles 6,7,8 came quickly, as I hit 9:36, 9:40 and 9:23 for each. Somewhere before the mile 9 marker, though, I hit that spot where I tried to keep the pace and simply could not. The legs would not respond. Mile 9 slowed to 9:48, followed by mile 10 at 10:00 even. At this point, with the sun out and (I found out later) the temperatures well into the 80s I came to the realization that I was not going to hold to the desired 9:20 pace overall.

Did I modify my objective? Finally. And only grudginly.

At this point, I decided to simply enjoy the rest of the race as best I could. At the 10.5 mile mark, I knew I'd see my sister and brother-in-law, who staked out a primo spot to watch and take photos. Karen got a surprise sweaty hug from me at this point (perhaps she will rethink how "primo" that spot really is) and I headed for the final 3 mile tour in the downtown areas.

Niece Amy had warned me about a killer hill at mile 11. It didn't seem that long in the car, only 300 yards or so. But the hill was steep, the day was hot, the legs were heading south and the hill headed north. I had a drink of Gatorade at the bottom and vowed to run all the way up. Half way, my legs cast their votes which outnumbered the number of votes by my brain. Thus mile 12 slowed to 10:46.

The last mile or so was flat then downhill through a really nice neighborhood just near downtown. On the drive through Friday night, I decided it would be a cool place to push things a bit towards the finish. Yeah, it did seem nice in the car to think that. Not going to happen though. I just jogged along and started thinking about my post-race routine. Mile 13 was 10:09. No sprint to the finish either. I just enjoyed the crowds and, for the first time ever, heard my name announced as a finisher. The announcer even pronounced my last name correctly (it is "e-lee"). A nice touch as I crossed the line at 2:06:20.

Post Race Did I mention this race was well organized? No different at the finish. They had plenty of room to get de-chipped, lots and lots of water and other fluids, food, wet towels, medical attention and encouragement. Nobody was pushy or whiny, like I've seen before.

I found my sister, she let me go walk and then we found a shady spot to sit. As I talked to her and then started looking around, I quickly observed I was feeling better than many others. Some were looking catatonic, others just fully wiped out. I didn't feel that bad, physically; many others were cramping and showing the various signs of dehydration. That's what the toughness of the day's conditions had done.

Further Reflection. In the hour or so after the race, I was disappointed in myself for missing my target by 4 minutes. Worse, I was discouraged about my prospects for Portland Marathon, now a mere 6 weeks away. There was no way I could have finished a marathon on Saturday; I probably could not have even gone 20.

Later in the day, though, I realized that a better view was to not count on a 9:20 pace if the conditions the day of the Portland race are not similar to the days on which I ran my good half marathons earlier this year; that is, cool-ish temperatures with moderate humidity on flat-ish courses. Take away those things, I have to back off on the pace. In short, I have to recognize what I can and can't control.

Every race has its lesson. And that's my lesson from the Parkersburg Half Marathon.

Pix later in the week.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Racing this Weekend, Road Trip

ORN: 5 miles, no watch, held self back

There must be a corollary to Murphy's Law that says "On the afternoon before a vacation starts, the computer network will crash." Which is what happened today as I was hoping to get going, get packed and head for Parkersburg, WV tomorrow morning. Instead, I'm still at work at 9:45pm. But we got the job done...and that keeps the machine rolling.

I'm running the Parkersburg Half Marathon on Saturday. Why Parkersburg?? My sister lives there. And I like to do races in places I can visit family and friends. (Gasp...did you really think I only do that to have a free place to sleep??? Shame on you...)

I'm using the PHM as a shake down for the Portland Marathon in only 6 weeks. The schedule called for a 12 mile run on Saturday as part of a step-back week, followed by 8 at marathon pace on Sunday. I'm flip-flopping the pace, as I want to do 13.1 at my now-determined MP of 9:20 on the Garmin. I want to see what that feels like in a race setting. With about a thousand runners, and a rolling-to-hilly course, it will give me a feel of what sort of discipline and concentration I'll need in Portland.

Last weekend, my niece Amy, who has run this race 4 times, gave me a lot of good advice about the course, even down to the spots where various physical ailments attacked her. Amy is a new mom of a very healthy 4 week-old girl and is already looking forward to running again. I would love to run the race with her in a year or two.

And it will be great to see my sister Karen and husband Frank. I'm blessed with three sisters and we are all close. That alone is amazing and unusual. Karen will be doing the two mile walk event at the same time. And she and I will both be wearing T-shirts with our Dad on the back, photos from his days of football at Notre Dame in the late 30s. Dad would think it a real hoot that the two of us would be in an athletic event together. He'll be smiling from above. Frank is a good photographer, so I'll share both a report and visuals later, thanks to him.

Yeesh, it's almost 10pm...gotta go pack.

Persevere. Even when the network crashes.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Not Exactly the Perfect Runner's Diet

ORN: Sunday; 8 miles, no watch, "sweet and tasty" not

Sometime last summer, I read about a minor league baseball team which dreamed up a promotional stunt of the ultimate Junk Food: A Krispy Creme Cheeseburger. To make this lovely concoction, they sliced a KK doughnut sideways to make a "bun". Flipping the "bun" over, flat side out, they then seared the doughnut and put the burger between. Yummy.

Well, always on the lookout for interesting food items, I mentioned this to my friend Jess, the one I ran the Hog Jog 10K with in June. Jess was fascinated, told a friend of his about it and they decided this would be the ultimate tailgate delicacy. They made some last spring and pronounced them "perfect."

Jess' son then heard about this and requested them for a cookout at their house on Sunday afternoon. Jess gladly obliged and even told me about it ahead of time. To my surprise, the doorbell rang about 2pm on Sunday and there, smiling, was my buddy Jess who made one just for me. He did the ball club one better, as he added bacon to the recipe. He even delivered it warm.

So what could I do? Even though I already had lunch, I chowed it down. I have to tell you, it was pretty tasty. Much like a regular burger, but with a sweet, almost tangy flavor. The combination of bacon, cheese, burgers and doughnut was really something. You just kind of had to not think about just what the fat content was.

So, to do some penance later in the afternoon, I went out and got in 8 miles before supper (like I really needed to eat anything further). It was around 85 but the run felt good, especially considering the 18 I had done on Saturday. While the run felt good, my stomach reminded me regularly of what I had done to it just a couple of hours earlier.

Face it, this is just pure excess. And, having had one, I think I'm set for life. I do hope you don't read this right before a meal, as it might put you off any food altogether. Better for you to learn from me than do it yourself.

Do be careful, though, if you see any of these at tailgates this fall.

Bacon or not.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

What a difference 20 degrees makes

ORN: 18.2 miles, 2:57:19, 9:44/mile

Got home from Cincinnati late Friday night and drug myself out of bed to do the scheduled 18 this morning. A real treat to see a 59 degree reading on the thermometer; what a break. Weather makes such a difference, despite what we would hope.

The run went well and was fairly unremarkable. The humidity was way down and, with the cooler weather, I was able to shake down for the first time my new Brooks Nightlite shirt which I'll probably wear in Portland. Knees were a little shaky at first, but that cleared up. Right calf felt tight at mile 15 but that loosened. I wore my Garmin and had a general intention to run around a 9:40 pace but didn't really worry much about it or pay too much attention. I just ran. Splits looked like:

9 52, 9 17, 9 36, 9 29, 9 52.
9 18, 9 32, 9 39, 9 05, 9 36.
10 05, 9 36, 9 46, 10 26*, 9 40.
10 15, 9 58**, 10 11, 1 56 (@ 9 35 pace).

Mile 10 and 11 were a loop past about 6 Purdue dorms, where the early wave of college kids were moving in. I smiled and waved at a few parents moving Junior or Princess into the dorm...equal parts relief and anxiety on most faces. I can relate. I will say, though, that the tunes pumping out of the dorms by the welcome committees made for a nice portion of the run.

* notes a slow mile while I walked to talk with long-time friends Dick and Marilyn, whom I also saw during last Saturday's run. This couple are both over 80 and are very active. Their Saturday morning routine is to walk the city trail system I use, plastic bags in hand, picking up litter. They get outside, get exercise, quietly serve the public and make the community look just a little better. I've known them for over 25 years now and I hope Gretchen and I can grow up and be like them.

** notes me getting completely off my route and pace as I ran past the start of a local HS Cross Country meet. I actually made a wrong turn...which never happens...but it was fun watching all the kids getting set for their first race of the season. I did not note any of them being distracted by this old guy slogging by.

I ended feeling good. With an 8 miler set for tomorrow, I'll end the week with 44 miles, my most ever. Next week is a step-back week, including a half marathon next Saturday in Parkersburg, WV. Why Parkersburg?? My sister lives there and that's the first requirement of any race for I have a relative living nearby??!!


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Mid-Week Distance

ORN: 8.3 miles, no watch, mist, then drizzle, then rain

Boy, I'm glad to be back to doing more distance. Out early this morning for the mid week long-ish run. First couple of miles felt wobbly, the effects still there from long runs over the weekend. I've learned to just keep going. The legs settled, the twinges went away, the run was nice.

Seldom do we get rain early in the morning in the Indiana summer...most rain comes in afternoon thunderstorms. So, this morning's light rain was a surprise. After all the heat, it felt good.

Heading out tomorrow for an impromptu family get-together with my three sisters in Cincinnati. None of us live in Cincinnati but it worked out that way. With spouses, we'll be eight chatty people. Hope to get my 5 miler in tomorrow, plus some geocaching with those willing. Back home Friday night, anticipating an 18 miler Saturday.


Sunday, August 06, 2006

Settled: Pace for Portland Marathon will be 9:20

ORN: 8 miles, 1:14:03, 9:15/mile

After much navel gazing over the past week, part of it with you fine readers here on the blog, I had theorized that my target MP for Portland would be 9:20. I arrived at this from several angles.

First, it was slower than a predicted pace from my last two half-marathons, which would have put the pace around 9:10. Second, it was quicker than what seemed to be a more subtle increase over my effort on the hilly St Louis marathon course in April, which would have put it around 9:30 or so. Third, a 9:20 pace leads to a 4:04-ish time, 4:06 with a fade the last five miles or so. And THIS would be a very, very satisfying time if I can achieve it. A sub-4 marathon will come in time...this is not my last marathon. Fourth, I'm doing more miles for this marathon...I'll be over 40 miles/week now for about 5 straight weeks before the taper, while I only touched 40 once in my prep for St Louis.

So, 9:20 it is.

But all that was theory...I had to test it this morning.

The plan called for 8 miles at MP this morning. The plan also calls for the long run on Sunday to FOLLOW the MP run on Saturday. But church occupies my Sunday mornings, so my training plan flip-flops Higdon's schedule. So, after 17 miles yesterday, I set out this morning to see if my legs could hold a 9:20 pace.

I wasn't sure at first, but they did. Splits looked like this:

9 01, 9 29, 8 54, 9 25, 9 14,
9 36, 9 09, 9 07.

Held the pace, with some gas in the tank at the end. After yesterday's long run, my legs felt a bit tired, somewhat like they'll feel around, say, miles 12-16 or so. Thus, it gave me some hope I could hold the quicker pace on slightly depleted legs.

Since theory seemed to match practice, I'll go with it. Did I ever mention I'm a Purdue engineer??!!

Thanks for all your input on this. I'm comfortable with shooting for a 9:20, barring unusual cicumstances or injuy.

Persevere. At any pace.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Who needs an iPod when you have Purdue?

ORN: 17 miles, 2:47:03, 9:49/mile

To get 17 in today, I had to add a loop to the end of my usual long run. The normal run ends at the west end of Purdue's campus, so the loop took me well into campus before heading back home. As I approached campus, I was surprised to hear Purdue's Bell Tower running out song after song at 8am on a Saturday morning in August. The tunes were great; all the Purdue songs I learned when I was a freshman:
Ever faithful, ever true,
thus we raise our song anew,
Of the days we've spent with you,
All Hail, our own, Purdue
and others. But why?

Then I remembered: today was commencement for the summer session. So, it made me smile to run around the campus Gretchen and I met on and subsequently put two sons through. And all that 4/4 marching music is great to run with.

Man, I enjoy long runs. The temperature moderated to a "frosty" 68 when I walked out the door just before 7 and was only 80 when I returned. I had some fairly even splits:

9 46, 9 39, 9 48, 9 46, 9 51.
9 27, 9 43, 9 28, 10 11, 9 51,
10 00*, 9 36, 9 52, 9 46, 10 08,
9 35, 9 22.

And managed to finish strong over the last two miles. Plus, * one of my 10 minute miles came as I had a chance to walk with long-time friends Dick and Marilyn as they were on the trail picking up trash. Dick did a nice service for me by NOT picking up the Gatorade I thought I had hidden pretty well. He knew I usually ran long on Saturday mornings and he said "It looked to be too purposefully placed behind that post to just be trash." We laughed and I thanked him for assisting in my continued hydration efforts.

I felt good at the end of the run. Could have easily gone farther, which is how I want to feel. Tomorrow, I do 8 miles at my still-undetermined "marathon pace." But I'm thinking I'll settle it at 9:20 on the Garmin. We'll see tomorrow. Eight weeks till's feeling good.


Thursday, August 03, 2006

Bummed at a day off??

ORN: 4 miles, easy, nice

So, I'm on our nightly walk after dinner with my lovely wife and I comment that I'm disappointed I can't run tomorrow morning. It's a day off before my 17 miler on Saturday. And it sounds kinda weird. And not only to her.

One of the cool things the last three weeks is getting back into ramping up for some serious (for me) mileage. It really grabbed me when I did my mid-week long run of 8 miles Wednesday morning before work. Drenched in sweat at the end (80 degrees at 5am and 95% humidity will do that to you), I felt great. And felt great all day.

I'm really looking forward to the 17 miler. Haven't done that length since the marathon in April. I'll have 44+ miles for the week by Sunday. For me, good mileage. And it feels good.

Maybe not so weird.