December 25, 2010

I Wish You Peace.

His words are simple
Love and peace for everyone
When do we begin?

A star shines brightly
pointing to a path of peace
the road less traveled

All you need is love
Waiting on the world to change
Someday at Christmas

Look at the bright star
What in the world could it mean?
It will show the way

October 3, 2010

Montgomery Half-Marathon

I've viewed so many articles, race reports and news clips about this event, I don't know what's left I can say about it.

Drew's race report covered the event pretty well from front of the pack perspective, putting in PR (Personal Record) on his quest to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

Amanda's blog post covered the event well, also. She is quickly moving up list of fast local females who consistenly leave me in the dust. She also PR'd at this race.

My running buddy Kym Klass, a local reporter for the Montgomery Advertiser, has (at least) two articles in today's paper. An "Extra Mile" column about riding in the lead car, and one about Virginia Jacks, who worked at an Italian Ice place I like to visit.

Pictures from the Montgomery Half-Marathon can be found here.

I got to the race very early, as usual, and did some walking around the area. The other regular early birds were around as usual. The weather was great, not too warm or cool.

The event was well organized and started on time. There was plenty of support and cheering neighbors along the way, much improved over last year. The beginning of the race is a two mile climb to highest point in the race, then flattens for awhile, running through several historic neighborhoods, college campuses and the Governor's Mansion. At mile 10, they throw in a curve ball, a short steep section along Perry Avenue, and another just before the Capitol. Get past those, and the home stretch is (mostly) all downhill.

I didn't have my fastest pace, like many of my running buddies did, but it wasn't my slowest either. I wanted to beat my time from last year at this race, and I accomplished that.

The post race festivities were also well-organized. Plenty of post-race refreshements, a band, and lots of activities. It was an overwhelming success for the city of Montgomery.

September 16, 2010

MGM Half-Marathon Training - Final Weeks

It's coming down to the last few weeks. The training is right on schedule. At the same time I have also started training for another half-marathon I will run on November 13. The only thing I'm adding to the mix of running is short "faster than race pace" runs once or twice a week after I have finished with my days training. I will gradually lengthen these "sprints". I have finished 1 miles, and 1.15 miles sprints on my last tempo training day. After I complete this race I will also start to add in longer intervals, from 400m to 800m, and more, yes I said more, rest days. Harder training requires more rest. "The most important day in any running program is rest. Rest days give your muscles time to recover so you can run again. Your muscles build in strength as you rest." - Hal Higdon

The next few weekends require long runs of 11 and 12 miles, before a cutback week in the days before the race. I will be up in Athens, Alabama this weekend, visiting Grandkids and running a 5K with my Daughter. Sunday, for my long run, I will take advantage of the scenic and historic Richard Martin trail, a "Rails-to-Trails" project, which runs from Athens to the Tennessee state line. I have previously used this great trail which runs through the middle of a Civil War Battle site. The trail is built on an old railroad bed, eliminating steep hills and providing plenty of shade.

The last long run, the weekend (Sept 25) before the race, I plan on running with the group meeting downtown at the AlleyBAR to have a last run with the new friends I have made training for this race. This will be my last update before the event. I will post a race report after the completing the half-marathon.

September 3, 2010

MGM Half-Marathon Training - Week Eight

The weekend before beginning week 8 of the training plan started a 9-mile long run. The weather was slightly cooler, and the morning stayed cloudy for most of the run, which is great for running. I decided to meet with the group training for the half-marathon which meets at the AlleyBAR every Saturday morning at 6:00 AM. The organizers of the group were shuttling people to various points on the course so they could all end the training run where the actual half-marathon ended. If you wanted, you could also arrange to be picked up at various spots along the course. I decided to do the beginning AND the end, but I’d take a shortcut to reduce my miles. I ended up at 10.3 miles, but that distance included a few walk breaks on the hills near the end of the route. The group is growing larger every week, and the camaraderie during these training days is very motivating. We gather afterwards to rehydrate, socialize and learn from each other. It is a very diverse group.

Sunday I ended up 5 miles around my neighborhood. It was supposed to be a pace run, but still being achy and stiff from the previous days long run, I decided to run it at an easy pace, and skip the pace run. Most of my long run from the previous day was at my race pace, so I figured I had it covered anyway.

The training for the rest of this week was close to what the schedule called for, with some extra runs and miles thrown in to increase my weekly mileage.

The weekend plan will be running with friends on Saturday morning, and resting Sunday for the River Region Runners (R3) 28th Annual 5K/1 Mile Labor Day Run on Monday. Since I’m scheduled for a race pace run of 5 miles, I will keep going after the race for another couple of miles. The weather is looking like it will cooperate and give us unusually tolerable weather for this race. I’ve been told by the race director that there will be a selection of rehydration beverages other than water and sports drinks available after the race.

August 27, 2010

MGM Half-Marathon Training - Weeks 6 & 7

Week 6 ended with a disappointing finish at the 10K race scheduled on my training plan. I was on my usual race pace, finishing the first half (5K) faster than my previous 5K finish, until mile 4. I hit of a wall of heat, humidity, and sunshine, which stole my energy and motivation to keep running. The bully knocked me down, and I had a hard time getting past him.

My next run on the plan was a 4 mile "race pace" run. I moved that run to Monday morning because of travel plans. The temperatures where I was staying in Northern Alabama were forecast to be in the upper 60's. I woke up before sunrise Monday morning and paced back and forth waiting for enough light to run on the back country roads west of Athens, Alabama. The air was drier, and the temp was around 66 when I finally headed out the door at 5:30 AM. The first part of my run was down a long driveway, then out to the road. It was better running conditions than I've seen in months. Within the first half mile, I was greeted but three big dogs, two of them just barking and growling, but one was a playful Black Labrador Retriever (Sam)which accompanied me for about half of my run. He would run past, then stop and wait for me to pass him, then he'd run ahead of me again. I think this took my mind of of my running, and I ended up with a faster pace than I planned. It was an amazing sunrise run. I fell a little short of my target distance, but with the faster pace, it was a good training run.

We're now at the end of week 7. The weekend plan has a 9 mile long run and 4.5 mile pace run. I haven't decided what I'm going to do. I'm trying to be more spontaneous, people tell me it makes life more interesting. I'll likely hook up with one of the running groups on Saturday, and then make plans for rest of the weekend.

August 13, 2010

MGM Half-Marathon Training - Week Five

I finished week five of the training plan with a little bit of apprehension, the easy part of the training was about to be over, week Six will be the last "easy" week. After this week's 8 mile long run, and next week's 10K race, I will have to start into 40-45 minute tempo runs, and 9 to 12 mile long runs while the heat of the summer is still blasting us, and draining my energy.

I know I need to slow down in this heat, but that is easier to say than it is to do. Running is sort of a meditation for me, I zone out and before I know it, I'm overheated and need to cool-off for a awhile. For this reason, I've been doing more workouts on the treadmill to keep my pace in check, but treadmills are dreadfully monotonous when compared to running on roads or trails. But, we do what we need to do to accomplish the goal.

The high point of the week was the fun diversion of the River Region Runner's (R3) Prediction Run on Tuesday, and the weather graced us with lower humidity and a nice breeze, which allowed me to run faster than I predicted. However, I was honored with winning "3rd Hottest Male" Award. Whatever criteria they used to come up with that label, no one knows. The best part of the night, was the great turnout of runners and supporters which made the event very enjoyable. There were young and old, new and experienced runners, H.S. track athletes and middle-aged road runners, hashers and tri-athletes. Since I've been a member, I cannot recall having such a diverse crowd for this type of club event. Thanks for the great evening.

Weekend Training: I plan to finish an eight mile long with the group who are training for the Montgomery Half-Marathon at 6:00 AM Saturday morning at the Alley Bar, then try and meet up afterward with the Saturday Shakespeare group for the coffee and breakfast. Sunday I will try to get a pace run in (4-5 Miles), probably on a treadmill, since the outside heat and humidity is still stuck on high.

August 6, 2010

MGM Half-Marathon Training - Week Four

I switched weeks 3 and 4 of the training plan I'm following so I could run the 5K race I have planned this weekend. This was a "step-down" week for me. Fewer miles, easier runs, more rest days. We need step-down weeks to allow our bodies extra recovery and healing time from the increased training intensity.

I did my usually strength and stretch day on Tuesday because I ran in the rain on Monday. My total mileage for the week beginning on Monday is only 11 miles. The hot weather also has me hitting the treadmill more than I like. I did last Sunday's 7 mile long run on a treadmill with the A/C and fans on high. I'll be glad when the weather is more tolerable for running.

Saturday: I'll be at the Woodstock 5K (30th Anniversary) in Anniston. I will do 1 mile warm-up and a 1 mile cool down afterward.

Sunday: 4 - 5 miles. Might be out in the neighborhood, might be on the treadmill, it all depends on the heat and level of humidity

July 30, 2010

MGM Half-Marathon Training - Week Three

Week Three

I have been sticking to the Hal Higdon's Intermediate Training Plan, but adding in some extra miles on the shorter runs. Three miles seems too short on most days I'll be trading in this weeks 5K race for a 7 miler either Saturday or Sunday. The 5K will be next Saturday at the Woodstock 5K (30th Anniversary) in Anniston.

Saturday: Training runs for the Montgomery Half Marathon start every Saturday at 6 A.M., at the Alley Bar, 166 Commerce Street. Because of the heat, I will be there at 5:30 A.M, to avoid the sun. 5 - 7 miles planned. I'll then relax with the Saturday Shakespeare running group for some post-run coffee and fellowship.

Here is a link for information about the Saturday morning group runs, anyone is welcome: Saturday Morning Group Run.

Sunday: 4 - 5 miles. This weekend’s Sunday run will start between 5:00 and 5:30 AM in the Sturbridge neighborhood. If anyone would like to join me, meet me at corner of Sturbridge Drive and Plantation Crossing: (Tentative) Map

July 23, 2010

MGM Half-Marathon Training - Week Two

Week Two - Montgomery Half-Marathon Training

I have been having some ankle issues. Ankle is very sore just above the heel, right side of left ankle, painful in the morning, and when I begin running, feels tight the rest of the day. It was feeling better by the end of the week after using some heel lifts in my shoes.

Day 1: Strengthen & Stretch Day - Circuit Training. - Leg Curls - Leg Extensions - Crunches - Back Extensions - Calf Lifts - Squats - Inner & Outer Thighs - Pull-ups - 121 Pushups (15 Minutes) - 1 Mile slow run before and after stretching

Day 2: Three miles + 1 Mile warmup.

Day 3: 30 min Temp run: A tempo run is defined as a run as close to your race pace as possible. If your goal is to finish the half at an 8:00 min pace, then your tempo run should be at that pace. It was a struggle today. 80* at 5:00 AM, super muggy and no breeze. It was supposed to be a tempo run, but I never found my tempo. Managed to keep an > 8 min pace for 3.5 miles, 26:15, but then had to slow down to a easy pace to finish up the run.Also did an easy 2.2 mile treadmill run in the evening to loosen up before a stretching session. It's too hot to run outside

Day 4: The 3 Miles scheduled extended a little due to my good mood. Hit the treadmill to escape the heat, incline set 1, A/C turned up, fan on high. I was feeling good, this was easy. I guess it's about time increase the incline.

Day 5: Today. “Rest”. Rest days are the hardest part of the training plan.The plan for the weekend:

Saturday – 6 Miles: Training runs for the Montgomery Half Marathon begin every Saturday at 7 A.M., at the Alley Bar, 166 Commerce Street. I will be there at 6:00 A.M, then hop on over to join my usual Saturday running group for some post-run coffee and fellowship.

Here is a link for information about the Saturday morning group runs, anyone is welcome: Saturday Morning Group Run.

Sunday – 4 miles: This weekend’s Sunday run will start between 5:00 and 5:30 AM in the Sturbridge neighborhood. If anyone would like to join me, meet me at corner of Sturbridge Drive and Plantation Crossing: (Tentative) Map

July 16, 2010

MGM Half Training - Week One

Posted my first week of Training at my alternate blog site: MGM Half Training - Week One

July 13, 2010

Montgomery Half-Marathon Training

It was exciting to hear the Hyundai Half-Marathon will now benefit the Joy to Life foundation. I'm sure the 5K and Half-Marathon races will attract even more support and participation, if the success of the local Walk of Life 5K is any indication.

Running in our communities is becoming more popular the longer I live here. The number of races, and the numbers of runners participating in those races, is steadily increasing. When I first moved Montgomery, I rarely saw other runners out in my neighborhood, now I rarely see a day where I don't see several runners (and walkers) while I'm out on my daily training runs.

Are you a runner? Do you run at least three times a week?

Starting this week (July 12) you will be able to follow and participate in training with me for the upcoming Montgomery Half-Marathon. In order to allow more participation, I will be following Hal Higdon's Intermediate Training Plan.

The reason I'm doing this is to help myself while helping others in the local community. I need you to help me maintain my focus and motivation to complete my goals for this race. I'm not looking for a PR (Personal Record), but I do hope to improve my performance from last years race and increase interest for this event.The first Sunday "long" run will be July 18, will be five miles or longer. The length of the long run will gradually increase until we are doing 12 miles the Sunday before the Half-Marathon.

I'm open to suggestions on places to meet. Last year's training Sundays started at the Alley to take advantage of the actual route used for the race.

I only recommend this training for people who are in good health and can run at least 3 miles comfortably. This time of year will be warm and humid, so we will be having early Sunday mornings runs to deal with the heat. I hope I can convince some to join me to start the Sunday long runs at 5:30 or 6:00 AM, so we will miss the hottest parts of the day.

The training schedule has a 5K race scheduled for the third weekend, and a 10K race on the sixth weekend. I will be swapping the 5K weekend with the fourth week of training so it coincedes with the Woodstock 5K (30th Anniversary) in Anniston. The sixth weekend's 10K Race will be the Woodland Wallahatchie 10K in Pike Road.

I hope to see you out there.
Road Running is a potentially hazardous activity. No one should run unless they are medically able and properly trained. They assume all risks associated with running, including, but not limited to, falls, contact with other participants, the effects of the weather (including high heat and/or humidity), traffic, and the conditions of the road, all such risks being known and appreciated by the participant.

June 5, 2010

Cotton Row & Cahaba River Ramble

COTTON ROW: On Memorial Day I ran the Cotton Row 10K in Huntsville, then accompanied my Daughter Allison as She ran the 5K for that race. Add a 1 Mile warm up, and I completed over 10 miles and it took me about a total of 1:37 to do the distance, and I took it very easy that day, didn't push myself. I was there to enjoy the festivities. We had nice cloudy weather, and anticipating humid conditions, I kept myself well hydrated to prepare for the race. The temperature was very tolerable for the 10K portion of the race, but it did start getting warmer for the 5K.

For weeks before the race, I had been warned about Cotton Row's "Hell Hill". "You can skin your nose going up that hill"; a friend told me. The first half of the course was all uphill which ended in a steep quarter mile hill before starting to descend. I was prepared and I even ran the hill while most other people walked it, got over it without a problem. It was a great race thru the heart of Hunstville to commemorate Memorial Day.

(Click on the pictures to view them in a larger format)

Cahaba River Ramble: That Cotton Row hill was nothing compared to facing the hill at the end of the Cahaba River Ramble, but I must confess, I was not as prepared for this run as I had been just a week before.

After a short hour and half road trip from Prattville, Mike, Heather and myself arrived at the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge, south of West Blocton, Alabama on US Highway 24. I had been canoeing on the river before, and it's just as I remember it, very scenic and shady, small rapids. The river rapids and the famous Cahaba Lilies (shown on the website) blooming on rocks in the middle of the river, added to the awesome scenery of the along the river.

The temperatures were warm, and the air was about a muggy as it can get around these parts, but there was lots of shade.

The registration process was quick, and we all had extra "schwag" in our bags, although not all of got the same goodies. The first sign of trouble was when we learned that the race would start late because the "hovercraft" guy didn't show up, so we were waiting for the canoe guy, which they needed in order to set up one of the aid stations.

The race got under way about 15 minutes late. The first part of the run was on a dirt road, and it seemed like we were at the turnaround for the 5K in no time at all. Immediately following that point we had to cross a creek. The water was only about knee deep, if that, and there was a rope to help us get across. Then the trail went beside the river for about a mile, in soft sand. Soft sand is not easy to run on. Once the trail branched away from the river we were quickly into a lengthy uphill portion which had me walking more than running. After the 5K turnaround, there was only one water stop about at about the 4 mile mark (which we would pass again at 6 miles). At this point sweat was pouring from me and I needed the water. At the top of the hill (mountain?) we had a very nice breeze, but the sun was beating on us. We came to the turnaround for the 10 mile race quicker than I expected. It did not feel like 5 miles. We turned around and headed back down the same way we came up, except it was mostly downhill this time. I made up for lost time soaring down the hills. Mike, who is usually a slower runner than myself, took advantage of the downhill portion and pushed way ahead of us. We got down the mountain, ran in the sand, crossed the creek and were back on the dirt road heading for the finish.

At this point we're feeling good. Less than a mile and a half to go. YEE-HAW. Then we turn a corner and there is two guys standing in the middle of the road not letting anyone pass. WTF!?! They point to the trail, which was been marked by small orange flags, going straight up a very steep incline. I turned to Heather and said; "Did you want to trust two country men telling us to go off the main road into the woods?" The orange flags marked the way, so I guess it was to be. Climbing slowly up that incline was most winded I've ever been in a race, it didn't help I was getting very dehydrated and felt a little dizzy. As slow as I was going, I was actually passing other runners who had decided to stop completely to catch their breath, some even sitting on the ground. That was the most brutal hill I've ever had in a race, it was even steeper than the infamous road on the Meteor Crater 5K.

The run finished about a mile after we topped that last mountain. It was my personal worst (1:59:--) for a 10 Mile run , EVER, but I don't expect to do well on trail runs because I like to take my time when I'm on the trail and enjoy it.

I think if I ever do this run again, I'm going to do the 5K and jump in the river after I'm finished.

May 6, 2010

Sunrise Run Therapy

I went to bed last nice and set my internal alarm clock to get me up at 3:00 AM. I don't know why, but this always works for me. The last thing I'm thinking of when I doze off, besides trail running fantasies, is the time I need to get up. It has only failed me a couple of times, but never when it mattered. I have not used an alarm clock in over 12 years.

So anyway, I went to bed with the intention of getting up early and getting out the door by 4:00 for a slow early morning run. I didn't quite make that time, because of internet distractions; it was 4:20 by the time I got out the door. It was already warm, and I could tell from the dew on the cars, it was a little humid. This was the morning I transition to my summer running routine of sunrise running. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed running at this time of the day. I stayed at a comfortable pace and felt like I keep go for many more miles, but had to quit after an hour, it was a workday. Words fail me when I try describing how much better I feel in the mornings I have a run. I must do this more often, like at least two or three days a week.

Lately, I have been more focused on races, trying to schedule interval and tempo days, and meeting running buddies for group runs. While I like the diversity and social interaction of that type of training, it is these solo early mornings which made me a running addict. Taking my time, easy pace, letting my mind wander and enjoy the beauty of the beginning of the day which puts me in a great mood. The fabled runner's high is achieved. It would have only been better if I could have had another 30 minutes of running therapy this morning. Maybe next time I'll take the day off of work. I'll just call in and say I feel too good to come to work.

April 20, 2010

National Hemp Day

It is April 20 (4/20). In honor of the this date I propose we make this National Hemp Day to raise awareness of this valuable cash crop which is illegal to grow in the United States. It is illegal to grow hemp because law enforcement has a hard time distinguishing this plant from its intoxicating cousin. Hemp products are not illegal, hemp food and textiles are available everywhere.

I become aware of hemp products while researching my problems with eczema. In previous years my eczema would flair up in the spring, and I would take olive oil to help ease the itching, but I still had problems. I heard that Hemp Seed Oil was a natural cure for this itchy rash problem. It worked better than I thought it would. This is the first spring in ten years I've not had any problems (knock on wood) . I know it may be psychosomatic, whatever works. The oil is kind of expensive, $20 for 24 ounces, but I found a place online that sells organic hemp seed oil for half the price of the Natural Food stores. I also love the nutty flavor. I use the oil on my vegetables and to make popcorn. It stores well in the refrigerator and does not become thick. If used in cooking, use only low temperatures.

I also use a milk like product and a protein supplement made from hemp seeds. The milk is quite good on cereal. The protein powder I use when I make chocolate/banana/strawberry smoothies protein shakes. It doesn't dissolve and adds a nutty flavor to the drink. They also make a nut butter from the seeds which I haven't tried yet. Hemp seeds are one of the most nutritionally complete foods available.

Hemp can also be used to make textiles for clothing. It is a superior fiber to cotton, stronger and longer lasting. During WWII farmers were allowed to grow hemp to make rope for the military because of its superior strength.

It is natural bug resistant crop so pesticides are not needed, and grows well in different types of climate.

It is unfortunate the farming of this important crop is not allowed in this country, fortunately other countries don't have such shortsighted laws. I can't believe it is illegal to grow certain plants in the U.S and we have to waste the benefits of this plant for farmers and consumers.

April 11, 2010

Racing at Talladega

I dedicated my run today to the late Paul Lightfoot, NASCAR enthusiast.

Racing at Talladega is what I did today. Yes, I was on the track racing the Talladega 21000 at the Talladega Superspeedway. I can't help but think what my former father-in-law would say about it. OKAY, It was not NASCAR , no loud motors or crashes which caught his attention. I doubt he'd be interested in seeing a bunch of runners desecrating this holy temple of NASCAR by having a foot race on this race car track. Still, It was quite an experience, and I think he would have enjoyed just being there.

Before the race, the runners gathered in pit garages doing there last minute prepping before the 21000 meter race. I was looking for the start and finish line, I asked one of the crew getting this race underway. He pointed down the speedway and said; "right there, where the start banner is.." I looked down the speedway and saw nothing. He pointed at the embankment and told me it's right when the straightway starts after turn 4. Then I saw it, the tiny banner, a good 3/4 mile down the track. I was expecting a banner across the entire track, but the track is huge, and the banner was the size which would span a normal city street.

We slowly made our way down to the start area. The race started a couple of minutes late, because of long lines at the five (yes, only five) port-a-potties, which was the one thing they need to improve on. Somewhere during the race we passed a field with hundreds of spare port-a-potties, it's not like there's a shortage of them in the area.

To get some idea of how long this track is, after we started, we passed the one mile mark before making the first turn on the track, we'd hit mile two less than halfway around the track.

One thing which surprised me about this race was the number of steep inclines we had to negotiate. We climbed to the walkway above the embankments at mile two, one hill outside the speedway about mile 3, a steep incline coming into the grandstands after mile 6, then a slow steady climb up to the top of the opposite embankment, through the tunnel, which is a steep decline followed by a steep incline which went under the track and back inside the track for the last four miles which were on the track again.

The race was well managed, with plenty of water stops, a good post-race party courtesy of Jim-N-Nick's BBQ, and the availability of beer, a required recovery food. I can't say that I want to do this again, but I was glad I had this experience. It's another one of the Alabama Half-Marathons I can check off my list. I still have a few to do in Anniston, Mobile, and Huntsville to finish my list.

I wasn't expected a great finish time (1:48:50), as I had mostly stopped interval training after my last half-marathon because of stubborn tendinitis and sore ankles from races in January, February and March. I was hoping a slower pace would cure these chronic problems without having to stop running, like I had to do last year for two loooooong months. The slower pace is helping and I hope I can start doing intervals again at the end of the summer as I train for my next half-marathon.

The weather also played a huge part, as temperatures in the 40's quickly gave way to sunny 70's and almost no shady areas along the route. The sun zaps my energy. On one part of the course, running through the grandstands, I was passing people left and right because we were out of the sun, but as soon as I got back out in the sun, I had to slow down and those people got the chance to retake their lead.

I would recommend this race to all runners for the unique experience of racing on a NASCAR track.

March 13, 2010

Lucky Day?

Last weekend it felt like all the planets were aligning for me as I prepared for the Seaside Half-Marathon. The training was completed, I tapered as recommended the week before the race, the weather reports were positive, my mood was relaxed and I was mentally prepared. I was also finding pennies, heads-up, wherever I went the day before the race. The race seemed easy, painless and very well organized. Everything fell neatly fell into place to make a great weekend.

However, the karma of last weekend must have stayed in Destin, because I had no such "luck" for today's St Patty's Day "Lucky" 7K. This inaugural event was not very well organized. I won't go into detail, because Drew already posted a race report which covered most of my frustrations. Although I did a pre-race warmup, and a second warm-up on their 1 Mile race, I completely forgot my stretching routine. I had an excellent pace hitting the two mile mark, but the my right hamstring started cramping on me, and the last two miles were a struggle. I had hoped to stay with a cool kids, but Drew, Kym, Stephanie, and Amanda, all pulled away from as I faded to a limping trot on the last mile. I finished at a slower pace then the Half-Marathon last week. The delay of the race had made me anxious and brought bad fortune to this event. I have a history of doing poorly whenever races are delayed. Is this a mental problem?

I liked the rain, and being with my favorite running buddies, so the day wasn't a complete waste of time.

I will now take a few days off to let my hamstring heal. Really I will. Really.

March 8, 2010

Pieces Falling Into Place at Seaside

It's been over a month since my last post. I apologize for the rare sightings, life, and better distractions have kept me from writing as much as I like.

Since my ankle troubles at Hog Wild, I've had a few other "setbacks" which have seemed to work out for my benefit. I've had days when the ankle hurt so bad, I couldn't manage to get going unless I downed some painkillers before running. It has taken three weeks of daily ice therapy to mend the ankle, and it has finally quit being a problem last week. Still sore at times, but not as bad as before.

On February 21, some running buddies and myself went and enjoyed a awesome running event in Jacksonville Florida at the 26.2 with Donna. Team Shakespeare relayed our awesome running buddy Dave (The one with a the bright yellow shirt) while he completed the full marathon. It was a fun time, and I think I benefited greatly by having a slower pace that weekend, I came back and feeling "light and bouncy" (Kym's phrase) the day after the trip and ran 10 miles, super easy.

What happened next, I was not ready for. Upper respiratory infection. I don't get them, and I don't know if that's what is was. I've always heard about others getting them, but I've managed to avoid them. The Tuesday after returning from Jacksonville I did 1 mile intervals and it felt like someone was sitting on my chest, I could not breathe, I was up all night trying to force air into my lungs and breathing so labored it hurt my back. All the doctor said it was probably a chest cold or an upper respiratory infection, gave me some meds and sent me to bed. When I was finally breathing again later that afternoon, I slept for 10 hours straight, which is very unusual for me. I had to take three days off of running, but came back that weekend to run a 10K and took first overall male Masters (40+) award, even though my time wasn't great.

After that 10K, I only had a week to prepare for Seaside Half-Marathon. I tried to do 10 miles the Sunday after the 10K, but I only made it nine. It was weak and I felt exhausted. I was not fully recovered from whatever illness had knocked me down and the 10K from the day before. It took all I had to complete those nine mile. I was bummed, thinking Seaside would be "just another" race. My depressed mood was soon lifted away on my next interval training day. I did four half mile sprints, and they were easy and fast. WOO-HOO. I think the time I took off by being sick actually forced me to rest my overtaxed muscles and improved my fitness.

I went into to Seaside feeling great and optimistic. I was not only prepared physically, I had the mental part whipped. My goal was to come in at 8:00 min pace or better. My result was about 7:54 pace. I accomplished that goal and set a new PR for myself to beat. Another thing I noticed right away, I'm also not as sore as I was after the last two Half-Marathons I've done, Chickamauga and Auburn.

Here are my Seaside splits:
1 - 8:00
2 - 15:43
3 - 23:23
4 - 30:20
5 - 38:05
6 - 46:15
6.5 turnaround 50:22
7 - 54:12
8 - 1:02:18
9 - 1:10:05
10 - 1:18:16
11 - 1:25:52
12 - 1:34:12
13.1 - 1:43:27

We could have not asked for better weather for the race, upper 30's to start, making way for sunny 60's with calm winds. It totally makes up for the miserable weather we had at this race last year. Although I had a great time, I will not be doing this race again. There are too many other races, in other places, that I want to do.

In the next week I will post more about the things I did this week and the days before the race which I think helped me accomplish my goals.

February 4, 2010

The Tiger in the Tank

Your workouts are not complete until you refuel, with carbs and protein, to repair and recover from your workout.

I learned that lesson well this weekend, after my 15K in Dothan, and didn’t have anything to eat until almost 4 hours after the race. Although I didn’t feel sore after the race, the next morning I woke up with sore muscles which had never been sore before. I have sore ankles for the first time after a road race. I've had sore ankles from trail runs before, but not from running on the road.

I usually carry at least a banana and a Clif bar with me, even to races, just in case they don’t have post-race food, or the other runners finish it before I get a chance to partake. This time I didn’t, because I figured a well-organized race such as the Hog Wild should have plenty, but they only had food I didn’t eat. That’s no excuse, I could have taken off for a grocery store and grabbed some food, but I wanted to socialize with my running buddies, some of which I hadn’t seen in a year, as well as my running friends from Montgomery.

Every workout routine should have the post-workout refuel within the first hour after the workout is completed. Even if you feel good, you may not feel the damage you’ve done by skipping a post-workout meal until the next morning.

Lesson learned.

January 31, 2010

Going Hog Wild

Great news. I set a PR (Personal Record) yesterday at the Hog Wild 15K, my fastest 15K ever. As good as that sounds, it really wasn't that great, this was my first 15K.

My time was 1:13:47, which is about a 7:54 pace, probably a few seconds less because the course measurement was a tenth of a mile too long, 9.42 miles. The pace was right on track for my future goal to finish a half marathon at an 8:00 min pace or less. Hopefully, I will accomplish that this year. I can finish ten miles at that pace, but after that, I fade.

I have nothing but good things to say about the new course for the Hog Wild, which was extended this year from a 5 mile length. The new course is less hilly than the old and took us through heart of Dothan. The start / finish line were set up on front of the civic center. Although I heard people complain about hills, there were no big hills like old course out by Westgate Park.

However, the facilities out at Westgate Park were MUCH better than the place they used yesterday. Next year, I hope they consider using the Civic Center. The Depot Off Main was totally inadequate for the crowd this race attracted. Bathrooms were limited and many men (me included) started going out behind the building rather than wait in line. The size of the building couldn't accommodate the number of people who showed up, and we waiting in this building for warmth, packed in like sardines. The beer and food were mostly gone before much of the 15K runners had finished because the 5K runners got to it first. The noise inside this place was more than I could bare. I had a good run, but didn't have a good post-race experience.

Another thing I hope they change; at least have something to accommodate those who don't eat meat or pork products. Did they have bananas or any fruit? NO. Gatorade, or Powerade? NO. They had Pork Beans and Rice, Pepperoni and Sausage pizza (no plain cheese pizza?!?), pork rinds, packaged cookies, and soda-pop. That was the after-race refreshments (GAG!). All the things I avoid, well except for the soda, but not when I'm dehydrated.

Hey Dumb Ass, It called HOG WILD for a reason. It is to celebrate one of the south's staple food products. It's not The Hummus Hoedown, Broccolli Burnout, or Squash Sprint.

I know, I know. But you'd think they'd have bananas and Gatorade at least. This is what or bodies need after running 9.3 miles. Is it just me, or does this make sense to anyone else?

We also had some distressing moments in this race. One of the runners from Montgomery experienced dehydration and had to be rushed to the ER. This women usually runs about the same pace as me, and then passes me at the end. This time she took off and stayed ahead of me until the last mile. I come up on her in the last mile, she was limping and wheezing, I asked asked her if she was OK, all she said she went out to fast. She never made it to the finish line. Not long after I passed her, she was rushed off by EMTs because she was having seizures. I checked on her later, she was doing much better and released from the ER later that evening.

Runners! Remember to drink plenty of water and pace yourself. Even on cold damp days, runners can become dehydrated and overdo it.

Love the new course, didn't like the new location's facilities and refreshments. I hope they improve these things, this was always a race I've enjoyed.

January 25, 2010

Life Is Meaningless

I woke up this morning at 3:30, excited by the anticipated morning run. Another iteration of my life is about to begin. My thoughts were about the utter futility and meaninglessness of life.

Maybe some of us have too much time on hands to think about stuff like this.

I did have a wonderful run this morning as the sun rose. It was cool, breezy and clear. I had an egg sandwich and a beer afterward. Sure, life is meaningless, but some days life is also good.

I did another 2.5 miles in the late afternoon, just for fun, and feeling guilty about the breakfast beer. HHMM, that extra run burned about 300 calories, I can have another beer. I really should become a hasher.


January 24, 2010

"What A Wonderful World"

Saturday with friends
sun shines on a cloudy day
I am lucky guy

January 22, 2010

Kick My Butt

I'm back from the beach and a little depressed. Don't feel much like writing. Trying to catch up with a lot of missed sleep.

I hope seeing my favorite running buddies at a local race tomorrow will lift my spirits.

Today I rested.

Mileage Stats:

Jan 21: 3.5 (Intervals) + 4.5 (Beach run)
Week: 34
Year: 94

January 19, 2010

Recovering and Training

One of my running buddies asked me the other day; "What training plan are you using?". I didn't have an answer for him. I didn't know if I was going to run the half-marathon I did this last weekend, so what I've been doing is training to maintain my fitness and not hurt myself. I don't want to go through another "no-running" recovery period.

So I'm just kind of "winging it". Every week I try to fit in one or two interval days, Tuesday through Thursday, a long run Sunday or Monday, a pace run on a non-interval day, several comfortable recovery runs with two days of complete rest, one which I do upper body workout. I'm not going to stress myself to keep up with a training plan, I've done enough of them to know what I need to do. I don't have any goals except to keep running and having fun. I always seem to do better when I quit paying so much attention to specific goals. This week I'm trying to keep it easy until my calves quit whining

Today I went to the outdoor track to run intervals, but I backed off the intensity and number of repeats to a point where I'd be six weeks before a half-marathon, since that is how long until my next half-marathon, 4 x 800m 3:35/3:45/3:40/3:42. The first one was a little too fast, so I intentionally backed off a bit, It felt good to be off the treadmill, but I'm feeling a little pain in the area I injured last year, so maybe I'm not ready for this. I'll see how it feels tomorrow.

Let's see. My training plan has me scheduled for a 4 mile barefoot beach run tomorrow. I guess I'll be heading to the Gulf. Trying to keep it fun, I'll be back on Friday. If you don't hear from me, it is because I decided to become a permanent beach bum.

Mileage Stats:

Today: 4 (Intervals) + 4 (Run for fun)
Week: 26
Year: 86

January 17, 2010

Bully Hills

I knew from the beginning, my lack of hill training would be factor in my finishing time at the Auburn Classic Half-Marathon. The places I train are very flat, or have short hills. In Auburn, the hills, while not very steep, are very long. Much like the Montgomery Half-Marathon, there is a bully of a hill near the end of the race, and it knocked me down several times.

I started out with a nice, even, not too fast pace of 8:oo. I usually check how I'm doing at mile 1 and 2, then not again till 7. Mile 1: 8:25, Mile 2: 15:55, Mile 7: 55:25. The voice in my head shouted "YEE-HAW". It's where I wanted to be, just maintain this pace.

There is a new feature on this route since the last time I ran this race. A new neighborhood street had been built cutting across the bike path just before the turn around. It turned the path into a roller coaster, very short steep downhill, cross the street, then a short steep uphill. Since it was just before the turn around, you had to go through this section twice in a short time, messing any hope of maintaining a constant pace, because it was impossible to run fast either up or down the roller coaster. I think it was just before mile 7, so it was another reason to cheer myself at being at my target pace. I only wanted to maintain that pace through mile 10, I knew the last few miles of the race was ALL uphill.

Somewhere between mile 8 and 9 I started getting strange sensations in my legs, like they were about to give out. A few times it felt like I was about to lose control of the legs. Am I dehydrated? Electrolytes low? I had my mid-point energy gel and was eating jelly beans. (Thanks Heather, for the Jelly Beans in resealable packets.) Then I started getting these strange sensation in my arms, like a little pulse of electricity was shooting down my shoulder to my hands every few minutes. What the ...? I slowed down, started focused breathing, going to make sure I stopped for Gatorade when I could.

When we made the turn to run the small section through "Wright's Mill" subdivision, I slowed, grabbed a full cup of Gatorade, took a swig because the cup was very full, squeezed the cup so I could keep running while sipping the drink. While I was focused on this task I ran head-on into a faster female runner who was coming back from the turnaround in the neighborhood. Spilling most of my drink on us and the ground. I barely had a sip left. Luckily there was a turnaround and I'd be back at the water stop in about a mile. The second time I just slowed enough to take a big swig then threw the cup on the ground right away. Mental note: I need to get a bottle to carry my own drinks at these races.

I hit the 10 mile mark at 1:21:??. I was off my goal pace now. At Chickamauga, I hit the 10 mile mark at 1:19:??. And the hardest part lay before me. There was a bully standing between me and the finish line. The bully knocked me down several times, he taunted me to stay down, but I kept going and finally got past it. Another female runner at the same pace had a coach with her helping her past the bully, and with their help we forced the bully to pick on someone else. Sorry guys, he was a big bully. if I could have knocked him flat, I would have.

The last half mile felt good, downhill after a long uphill. Then another bully met me just before the finish line. This one held on to me from behind, with the finish line in sight. The last .05 of a mile was a steep climb to the finish line, I really think they should move it to the bottom of the hill. My goal was to beat my previous attempts at this fight. I succeeded. Unofficially 1:49:40.

My worry about the weather was needless, it was almost perfect running weather. The bully hills near the end of the race had the bully winds on his side.

I'm feeling good and not too sore. I probably do a slow 3-4 mile run later today. (I did 4)

Mileage stats:
Today: 4
16 Jan: 14
Week: 18
Year: 78

January 14, 2010

Go Away, Black Dog. Shoo!

One thing I've done with this blog in the past is to write down my dreams which affect my moods or are significant or vivid enough to have be stuck in my head all day. Sometimes these dreams have me waking up laughing or in a particularly good mood, even when they are about emotional times in my life. I have had running "nightmares" the night before a race, where I show up late, or can't find the start line, but then I wake up and feel a great sense of relief to realize it was just a dream.

However, last night, I had one of those dreams about running which made me wake up with this overwhelming sadness. I wonder of it was the dream, or just the result of my current bout of depression which started on Tuesday, and seems to be getting stronger today. Other people's laughter, innocuous remarks, and stresses at work make me want to burst into tears. Is it just a chemical imbalance?

The dream took place at the beginning of race, doing my usual "getting ready" routine, walking around talking to people as they pin their numbers on their shirt, talking to the race officials and friends. I walk up to this group of runners standing around a table pinning on their 'bibs'. My number was 9. I place my bib on the table where others have placed thier bibs, I pick up some safety pins, and when I go to pick my number, I can't find mine. I turn over several, but they are all other numbers. Other people help me look, but we can't find it. I remember talking to the race officials saying I lost my number to see if I can get another number, but they say I'm already in the system. I try to get a piece of paper to hand them at the end of the race, but it is raining and when I try to write on it, the paper falls apart. It is just minutes to the race, and a girl walks up to me and asks what I'm going to do, and I can't think of anything, I just shrug my shoulders. She then reaches in her pocket and hands me a folded piece of paper. It is my race bib. I'm relieved, and I say "Thank you". She looks at me surprised, then walks over to the guy she is with and says; 'I can't believe he said thank you". I think about her statement while I'm trying to pin on my bib, and realize she was playing a joke on me, or trying to keep me from running. Why? That is when the sadness hits. The race starts, but I don't run, I walk back to my car and drive away.

On a side note, can anyone name a famous black dog? (Don't anyone say "Snoop Dog") I was trying to think of one for the title of this post, but couldn't.


January 13, 2010

Backing Off A Bit

I'm trying to back off the mileage a little bit for the race on Saturday, but as I try to do that, the weather is teasing me with almost perfect running conditions, cool and dry. I can go at my normal pace and barely break a sweat, so my 3 mile run planned for Tuesday became 5 miles. The "easy" 3 miles on Wednesday had me running faster than usual and barely feeling it, and then 3 miles became 4. "Just one more" the voice in my head screams. I submit too easily.

I will be taking Thursday and Friday off from running, even though the weather is supposed to be fantastic, and the race day forecast is rain. Lovely. Mother Nature's wicked humor. You think I care, go ahead, hit us with your worst. Whatever.

Mileage Stats:
12 Jan - 4
13 Jan - 5
Week: 25
Year: 60

January 11, 2010

Cold, Cold, Cold

Although we had ice and snow in the forecast this week, it never amounted to any more than a few minutes of sleet or snow. I was hoping for more, despite closing and delayed opening, the roads Friday morning were as dry and passable as any other morning. The only thing unusual, was the long lasting cold spell.

The running days this week have been a lessons on how to dress for a cold run without overdressing and getting too hot and sweaty, or under dressing and have body parts screaming in agony. I've enjoyed the cold because I seem to perform better, but I've cussed it when my hands felt like they had been hit with a sledgehammer.

Since it rarely gets cold enough around here to get your money's worth from good cold weather gear, I've had to make due with a cotton /* gasp */ hoodie and wearing rolled up socks over my gloves as make-shift mittens. This last month has been the only extended cold snap I've experienced since moving to the south ten years ago. I must be getting used to it, the last few days it has not seemed as bad to me, even if most of my other running buddies are still complaining. The only time I really get uncomfortable is when I'm running into the wind, but the discomfort seems to energize me. I'd rather run in the bitter cold, than not run at all. I also prefer it to running in extreme heat and humidity we have here in July and August.

I'll be running the Auburn Classic Half-Marathon this Saturday, the temperatures are supposed to be in the 30's, with a chance of showers. Two years ago I ran this race with those same temps, but on a windy day with HEAVY rain and snow. It was the most miserable conditions I had EVER experienced, muscles cramping, hands numbs, and every part of me chilled to the bone from being completely soaked, there was no way to stay dry. I hope this year will be better. I'm not setting a goal. I would like to finish in my usual window around 1:50, but Auburn has many hills. I haven't been doing any hill training the last few months because I'm still nursing tight abductors, but they are feeling better than last year and no longer affecting my groin.

Mileage Stats:
Jan 10: 8.5 (AM) + 2.5 (PM)
Jan 9: 5
Week: 16
Year: 51

January 7, 2010


Did intervals on the treadmill today, did easy run through the neighborhood yesterday, 5 Miles each.

Mileage stats:
6 Jan - 5
7 Jan - 5
Total for year and week - 35

January 5, 2010

Running Quotes

I get a daily e-mail with a Runner's World's quotes. The last few weeks I've received several which match my philosophy about this obsession addiction pastime lifestyle.

"Running is my private time, my therapy, my religion." - Gail W. Kislevitz, writer

"I can't imagine living and not running." - Paula Radcliffe

"Remember, the feeling you get from a good run is far better than the feeling you get from sitting around wishing you were running." - Sarah Condor

Today I did treadmill intervals at the gym , 800m, 3x3:30, 2x3:22, incline set to 1, 400m recovery jog between(2:15), 800m warmup and cooldown. I added in a 4 mi easy afternoon run after work for a total of 8 miles.

Mileage Stats:
Today - 8
Year - 25


January 4, 2010

Rest Day

Today I took a break from the cold, windy, punishing amusements of Jack Frost and did a light upper body workout inside. I'm officially signed up for the Seaside Half-Marathon. Tomorrow I plan intervals, on the treadmill at the gym. Today's high was 34 with 15 mph winds.

Mileage stats:
No change

January 3, 2010

Chilly Sunday Miles

Although the temperatures reached the 40's today the wind chill was way below that. I started out my long run in the sunny afternoon, feeling very comfortable for the first 3 miles, but then I made a turn and was facing a cold breeze, then the sun started getting lower, and I noticed the puddles in the shady areas were still frozen, then I was in the shady areas becoming frozen. Even with gloves, my hands went numb, which 7 miles later, were torturing me with a pain that felt similar to them being slowly crushed. I need running mittens. Other parts of me felt the cold, but my fingertips were the only part that were in pain. Filled a sink with warm water and soaked my hands til the pain and numbness were gone. I will be getting those mittens very soon.

I managed to keep my pace at a comfortable 8:30 minutes, running the first three miles at an 8 minute pace, then forcing myself to slow down.

Mileage Stats:
Today - 10
Year - 17

January 2, 2010

Saturday in the Park

I went for a relaxing easy run this morning with the Saturday Morning Running and Coffee group. It was a sparse crowd today whose main goal was to get the run over and get to the warmth of Starbuck's. I was giving myself a break today (not at McD's) to prepare for a long 10-12 mile run tomorrow. We had one new runner today, Sandy, who is training for the Mercedes Marathon (full) in February.

Today - 3 miles
2010 - 7 miles

January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

I'm going to try and post daily updates of my training, races, daily mileage, and mileage for the year. I always start these things with good intentions, but never keep them up. This blog is going on it's fifth year, although the updates have been pretty rare lately, I'm going to try and post at least the stats.

2009 in Review: Last year I only did 25 races, down from 35 races the previous year, but I have made many more valuable friends through the local running club and an informal group that meets every Saturday morning at a local park. I took an eight week break from running this summer because of an injury, but it didn't take me long to work my way back to running my best half-marathon. I'm encouraging more runners to get out and train with others and get involved, and like me, make goals, make it a social activity that's healthy for spirit, mind and body. I have never been as anchored to a place as I am now with the group of runners who have befriended me. Thanks to these people, you know who you are.

Starting 2010: The first day brought together R3 runners to start the year off right with the Annual New Year's Day Chili Run. This year we had the best turnout since the tradition began. It was cold and damp, the rain gave us a break, but not the wind. To my surprise, I was not chased by any dogs. The post-run chili, beer and mingling with other runners was enough to take the chill out of all those who participated. It was a good time.

I won this unique door prize at this event, it's just what I needed:

The run was 3.3 miles, my time was 25:04. I did a cool down of about a mile after the run.

2010 Miles: 4