Seebo's Run

A running commentary on my training and whatever else emerges from that.

My Photo
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Friday, September 30, 2005

Physical Health Day

I'm taking a physical health day today. Tender Achilles tendons and burning soreness in my calves, which I felt even before I got out of bed, made this an easy call at 5:30 this morning.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

A Run Too Far

Sometimes the best workout is a done workout.

I'm teaching until late tonight, so I ran right after dropping T. off at school this morning and will start work later. The course was a 12 mile loop that incorporated the 2-mile 34th St./Lansdowne hill stretch (Phila Marathon hill) and another 2-mile stretch that included the last mile on MLK before the East Falls Bridge and the "Bloody Nipple" hill to the crosswalk before the Conshohocken/Cranston intersection. These two 2-mile stretches were about 2 miles apart, and I wanted to run both of them at least at marathon pace.

Right away I noticed I didn't have much pep in my legs. Nonetheless, I got off to target pace on the PM hill stretch and finished it in 12:10, the outer boundaries of marathon pace. Would have been a little quicker but some knucklehead asked for directions 100m before the finish and I had to slow down a bit as I pointed. The second stretch was nowhere near MP, as the first, flatter mile of this stretch went by in a miserable 6:30 and then I hit the hills. I knew I was toast when I couldn't even get myself anaerobic going up the hill. My legs just didn't have it, and aches up my achilles and calves warned me not to push it. So, as a consolation, I have 13:43 as the time to beat for next time.

After that the run devolved into a death march, where you are spent and just trudge miserably on home. It is one of the ugly facets of training, where you just have to suck it up and ponder the fact that today was overdone. Total time 97:35.

As I usually do when I'm in the area, I ran down Lex St. and paid my respects to the folks that died there. At the end of the desolate block, a Marigold and another, purple flower I didn't recognize had pushed themselves up through cracks in the sidewalk and were in beautiful bloom.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A Merry Chase

Wednesdays seem to be posse day. We had 4 again, w/ me, E, KJ, and ES. E led us on a route up into the NW part of Cobbs Creek (I forgot what Scott called that part of the park). E best describes it in her email:

Just in case the words "6 am" and "10 miles" were not enough enticement, let me add that the route I sent you takes us past one of the most famous municipal golf courses in the country, the Cobb's Creek golf course. It was designed in 1916 by the famous Hugh Wilson (the "Olde Course") and expanded in 1929 ("Kara Kung," allegedly the Indian name for the creek), features the foundations of old grist mills along the creek, and has an abandoned missile silo between the 8th and 9th holes.


another exciting feature of this route is the Overbrook School for the Blind, built in 1899, which is one of the best examples of Spanish Renaissance architecture on the east coast!

Suffice to say that it took me through parts of Overbrook and surroundings that I had never been to, including some way cool large stone houses on I think it was 64th. All that with lots of uphills. What was supposed to be an easy run ended up being 10 in 80:43.

PS - Below is a great shot of me going neck and neck with a Central Park TC guy just before the finish of the PDR. Great because, for once, I pull out a counterkick after he went past me and win by a nose.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

More Yasso 800s

Yasso 800s sound a bit gimmicky, but they are really just 800m reps with a target time that is easy to remember. I last did these for a track workout 3 weeks ago and was disappointed in my inability to hold 2:50s. This time I looked to do them in 2:45, but gave myself 400 m recovery instead of 200 m. And I set out to do ten reps instead of the eight I got in last time. This is a more or less textbook Yasso workout, save that the recoveries are cut down a bit.

First we'll go to the numbers. Reps in 2:40; 2:41; 2:41; 2:41; 2:42; 2:42; 2:42, 2:43; 2:45 & 2:42.

I could end this entry right here. I nailed them down! Nuff said. I was a rhythm machine - hit one, recover for 400; repeat. Over and over. At about the seventh rep they started getting harder, but I was able to hit 1:21s and 1:22s for the first 400 so I didn't have to push harder for the second. The ninth one was the biggest struggle, and I wasn't sure if I'd have the juice for the tenth one. But once I started it I knew I'd hit it without having to resort to a heroic effort.

So in other words I came in a few seconds under goal pace and could have done them harder. These times put my training on pace for about a 2:42 or 2:43 marathon. I'm thoroughly satisfied.

In warming up and cooling down for this workout I reflected that the track for me is a place to test my limits. Where some people climb mountains or run ultras, I can explore these outer areas within an extended lunch hour. I think that is why I approach the track with a mixture of exhileration and anxiety. That and the expectation of experiencing a good bit of pain in the process.

While my legs let me know for the rest of the day that this is a very physical process, I have felt the mental benefits more. Track work expands my expectations, and in the last month has let me see, workout by workout, what I am capable of doing. Knowing I'm capable of more has given me the confidence to push more, and this has been reflected in my recent race times. And this workout should keep me going in that direction, as I'm now back down to workouts I did while training for Chicago two years ago, which still stands as my PR.

Oh yeah, I also did a 4 mile Franklin Field loop this morning. I was smart enough not to bring a watch for that little run. I put Bobby Patterson on the iPod and keyed on seeing the East Side of the Furness library in the morning sun. This 4, plus the total of 9 I did around my track workout, gives me 13 for the day.

Now to check for a Phillies score.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Darkness on the Edge of Town

Ran the Acme loop this morning for the first time in a few weeks. The notable thing was the darkness, which didn't really lift until we hit Overbrook High. Granted it was cloudy, but it still seems like a long way until Daylight Saving Time for it to be this dark.

The other thing peculiar about today was how many people were out, for various reasons. By the traffic, garbage collection, people on the streets, etc. it seemed like the clocks were actually set ahead.

Other than that, not much going on this morning. E set the pace a bit faster than I would have this morning, but I went along with it and was happy at the end at the extra one or two minutes I had in my morning because of it.

8 miles in 64:41.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Parkway Run 5k - Easy on the Eyes

I made it to the race.

One of the many nice things about the Parkway Run is that its a warmup run's distance from home. So I can run out there and not have to worry about getting in a few miles before the race. I felt fine at the warmup and did not anticipate having a tough time with the run, although I ran 20 yesterday. After all, it was only a 5k.

Besides, alot was at stake. Me, along with IC, RW, JM and SG had our team title from last year to defend, and we were not going to let the top team prize, dinner at the Four Seasons (one of the top restaurants in Philly) go without a fight. We were back, as "Easy on the Eyes," with me and IC complaining about our lack of training, SG licking his wounds from a tough PDR last week, RW recovering from having a car run into him on his bicycle, and JM, for the second straight year, sporting a vile hangover. So we were all raring to go.

I also ran for the first time in a spiffy dark blue singlet with "Philadelphia Athletic Charities" track club written on the front, the team I'm affiliated with for USATF purposes and in a dogfight for the Grand Prix title with South Jersey Athletic Club and another club whose name currently escapes me. C & T came down to cheer, lots of folks around, and when the start was delayed by 15 minutes due to problems with street closures, everyone just started yapping with one another like some big sweaty cocktail hour.

The one problem with this race is that it starts on Logan Circle which is, well, a circle, so right at the gun everyone converges to make the tangent. I didn't get far enough out in front early so there was more jostling than I'm used to for a 5k. So I settled down a little farther back and just started reeling people in. Among the first was a guy I recognized from dinner last week at a local restaurant, where he was sitting at a table next to us (outdoors) with a particularly yappy dog. PH was the next guy I recognized, and then came mile 1 at 5:27, right on target. I lost a few seconds as I was boxed in on the downhill to MLK but passed those folks and kept going. KF was now in my sights and I passed by him just before mile 2, which I passed in 5:28. I now became Borrowed Time, catching up with anyone who started out too fast. I could see CS off in the distance, too far, but IC was in my sights ahead of about 4 other guys. Another problem, however, with these 5k races is that they're over too damn quickly, and the best I could do was reel in the other four guys before the finish line came upon us. Some of these guys then found their kick at the end, so I dueled them, including SC of the Central Park TC, whom I had met at other races, and AL, a Russian guy who I had dueled in other races in past years, among them. AL nipped me, I nipped SC, I don't remember the rest of the guys except, from the results, seeing that a 50 year old guy from SJAC who got ahead of me at Stone Harbor now beat me again by a few seconds. I never did challenge IC, but we both ran for the same crudites, so that was okay. Anyway, final 1.1 was a 5:59 (5:26 pace) so I got in at 16:56 - one second slower than last years Parkway Run and leaving me well satisfied at getting in under 17.

Whew. The best part of the race, however, is not the competition but the shwag. I was first in my age group, which scored me a certificate for a night at the Crowne Plaza, and Easy on the Eyes repeated the team title, and this year we got dinner for 10! Plus the Four Seasons put on what has got to be the best post race breakfast buffet ever at any race anywhere (well worth the race fee in and of itself), supplementing the bagels and bananas (which they offered, perhaps to mock other races) with scrambled eggs, sausage, little baby quiche like pastries, and coffee and hot chocolate for all 1800 or so runners and another couple of thousand walkers, spectators, and the homeless who hang out at Logan Circle.

Word is the whole affair raised buttloads of money for childrens cancer. So I guess everybody wins, although I most pleased with how I made out this morning. This run is growing each year, and my prediction is that in a few years its going to become a monster race and too big to be any fun to go to. But I'll enjoy it while it lasts.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

20 miler #2

It takes a village to run a marathon.

And we truly had a village this morning. Twelve folks showed up this morning for the 20 miler, although not all looked to do the full 20. I think I knew everyone there, and we all hung together going up Kelly Drive and through Manayunk. We held about an 8:15 pace and the running was easy, bouncing back and forth to talk with different folks. At Manayunk I took it hard for the 1.2 miles I remember as a prolonged, tough uphill, but which proved to be neither as I made it up in 6:21. This little marathon pace interlude ended at the 20 mile point on the marathon course, but I guess it feels alot tougher at that point in the marathon than when one is fresher. I made a mental note not to bother training part of the course much anymore.

I gallowalked a bit to allow the rest of the folks to catch up and crossed Green Lane bridge to come back to Philadelphia via Belmont. I had never run this stretch but those that had warned of some steep hills. Indeed, we got a series of 3 challenging (though not impossible) hills and I succumbed to peer pressure (SK, TK, ES, among others) to take these hills hard. They lend themselves well to hill work, as each hill is tough and is followed by a more moderate downhill recovery.

Belmont across City Line down to Ford Road and onto MLK the group still hung together. A few folks called it a morning at the Art Museum and the rest of us headed down the Schuylkill bike path to Chestnut and up to 34th. Here was the second spot I wanted to do MP, two miles of it along 34th to Lansdowne and N. Concourse to the Civil War Memorial. My legs were spent, just the way I wanted them, by then and pushing it up to MP was hard. I finished the 2 mile stretch in 12:19, just a bit slower than I wanted.

By then all that were around were SK and ES. They picked it up a bit as well and were about 30 seconds behind me. We shifted back down to an 8ish pace and ran back, across the Girard St. bridge, around Lemon Hill and back to the Art Museum, tacking on an additional 1.5 miles up MLK to make it an even 20. Total time was 2:45:19, just about the time I want to stay on my feet in a marathon. Several other folks made it in behind us.

20 milers are the cod liver oil of marathon training, but this is about the most bearable way to do them. Everybody contributes something - good company, a push up the hills, keeping the pace even, working harder than the rest to keep up - which taken together creates a collective energy that pushed me to have a good and, dare I say, enjoyable run despite the difficulty of it. Its beautiful how, from what is essentially a solitary activity, such a distinct feeling of community emanates.

I also went up to Belmont Plateau this afternoon to watch the cross country meet, the something Invitational, that USP was running in. I missed the womens race but was glad to hear that JA won outright, running the 5k course in 19 something. That doesn't surprise me, as she had been running hard the two times I'd been out with them. I watched the men's race, where N? ran a 28 something on the 5 mile men's course and JH ran a 32 something, with the rest of the team well behind them. Many of the guys just seem to lose it on the last mile up and past Flagpole Hill, and it would seem that they need to put in more training miles, many more miles.

From there I went to T's soccer game across the river at Edgely (T scored the winning goal!) and then C was good enough to insist that I rest. I lay down at about 3 and the next thing I know its 8:30. Now I hope I can fall asleep again, as the Parkway Run is tomorrow morning. The prospect of running 5k on legs that just got 20 miles sucked out of them is not thrilling, but I'll be okay in the morning.

Friday, September 23, 2005

O Sole Mio

Four people on Wednesday and down to one, myself, this morning. Typical Friday, very sleepy and lacking much punch in my legs. Decided to do the 6+ mile version of the Art Museum loop in however long it took. It took a long time: 60:41.

[cock head and stare out of window for a few minutes]

I think I will go on an easy loop here as well this morning, and not dump any further verbiage onto the internet. This weekend will continue to be tough, with a 20 miler scheduled for tomorrow and the Parkway Run on Sunday. Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Run Like Hell

I've been getting inspiration from that line recently, I guess its become a mantra of sorts. Run like everything depended upon it, with every fiber of your body, like something was chasing you and gaining. Run like Phidippides, so you can get to Athens and utter the first product endorsement in history.

Ran up to Belmont Plateau to run with the Devils, ran BP with the Devils, and then ran back to USP. The cross country team rode up and back in vans. No one wanted to run back with me. If I were a college cross country runner and some guy twice my age were running instead of driving, I'd be keeping up with him if it killed me. Run like hell.

The way out was a test drive of sorts. I went balls to the wall from 34th & Market up to the zoo, across Girard and onto Lansdowne Dr., and then right on North Concourse to the stop sign just before the Civil War Memorial. This is the hilliest stretch of the Philly marathon route, and my goal is to get on intimate terms with it in the next 8 weeks. This stretch is exactly two miles long, and I nailed it 11:41 - sub marathon pace by a bit. Run like hell.

Hooked up with the team at Belmont and ran a half-fast 5 mile course. It was hot and I was grateful for the water that they brought. Course time, at 35:58, is about a minute slower than last week. Ran again with JA and JH. They got a meet on Saturday, be curious to see how they do. JA is running really well. My most vivid memory was on the second time in the woods on the 5mile course, going down a hill, jumping over a little stream and landing on the incline up the other side so as to just wrench my Achilles. Slow, easy run back to USP. Total time for a long 12 was 104:59. Got that achy feeling in my legs. Run like hell.

One more note, of interest probably only to myself. I woke up this morning weighing 179, about normal, and weighed in at 172 after today's run.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

West Philly Phlashers,

West Philly Striders, West Philly Roadrunners. . .

We had four people running this morning (me, E, K?, and TK). Thats a record and should meet the minimum to form a club. Now we just have to come up with a name.

Nicest running morning of the year. Hands down. Sunny with the temperature cool enough to where I just sweated a little. We took off down to Cobbs Creek and when I suggested we keep going down to Woodland, everyone agreed. The bike path on Cobbs Creek is wide enough to accommodate all four of us shoulder to shoulder, but by that point we were largely quiet, with conversation only in sporadic bursts. About a half mile from home, back on 46th St., my legs started complaining. So todays 9 miles (77:19) was just about right.

My only brainflash of the morning was in response to everyone complaining how nasty the sports drink tasted at PDR. I don't drink while I race so I didn't try it, but it struck me how one expectation now of "sports drink" is that its supposed to taste good. To that I wondered if you take a 25 year old sample of Gatorade and compared it to a sample just bought, I bet the taste of the old stuff would be considered bad. All the replenishment ingredients can't taste good, so Gatorade has pretty much gone ahead and made a soft drink, so when a real replenishment drink comes along everybody gags. So my response is to go the extra step and just give out Kool Aid at the water stops.

There, I feel better. Now I can go to work.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Legs of Jelly

In an effort to keep the momentum going, I headed to the track.

I took a page out of my old McMillan workouts, and looked to do 4 x 2000m (5 laps) in 7:17 or less (5:48 1600 or 1:27 400 pace) with a 400m recovery. I did this only after promising myself two things: I didn't have to work down to 7:05 as McMillan had me do, and under no circumstances would I tack on any extra reps after those four.

Reps went well: 7:13; 7:11; 7:14; 7:16. To get the last one I had to sprint the last 100m, much the same way I did at the end of PDR, but I still felt that I held back some. That's okay, just running these reps 2 days after PDR is probably not the smartest thing. And bottom line, the workout was harder than last week and still went well.

Pulling out the old McMillan training programs got me thinking that I never really wrote about my dropping McMillan as a coach after Boston last spring. Greg McMillan is probably the best regarded coach on the internet, and his website is very impressive and I still go to it to help in planning workouts even now. Back in the spring I signed up for his coaching for the last part of my Boston training and, although he is a little pricier than other coaches, I hoped that it would work out well enough to extend the coaching through a fall marathon.

The coaching didn't last much past Boston, however. In retrospect, I think the main reason was that, even back then, I sensed that his approach, start out slow and then finish the race hammering, doesn't match the way I run. In this respect his program is a one size fits all approach. My greatest skill in racing is my ability to hold a pace, seemingly by instinct, once I establish it. The key is for me to set it so that its fast enough but won't tire me out late in the race. The downside to this pacing is that once I'm in a rhythm its hard to speed up unless its on a screaming downhill such as on the Cesar Rodney course.

The second reason I got disenchanted with McMillan is that I think he's got more folks than is optimal to coach. He's good about getting training schedules out and responds if you email him, but I never got the feeling that any kind of one-to-one relationship was building. I'm not a high maintenance guy to coach, but I need to feel that my coach has an awareness of how I'm doing and the issues I'm facing. Instead, I saw seemingly endless announcements of PR's (personal records) set by people he coaches, which is great for the people who get the pr's, but implicitly (at least to me) suggests that not getting a pr is somehow failing. This seemed the case as, while he announced the times of a bunch of other people he coached who ran Boston, he omitted mentioning my race. I don't know if this was intentional or not, but it didn't help with feelings of disappointment I felt after the race that lingered despite the less than optimal racing conditions.
And so, when the automatic email popped up a few weeks later telling me it was time to pay up for another three month installment, I figured this wasn't my program. I emailed him to that effect, and never got a reply back from him. That kind of told me I made the right choice.

So I have my eye out for another coach, but its not a very active eye. I think my favorite part of having one is having someone else plan my hard workouts.

My legs are more sore now than they were on Sunday. The 1.5 mile run back to USP after the workout is always hard and really slow, and makes me appreciate the challenge slower runners face. Reminds of when I ran the last 12 miles (at about a 12 minute pace) with C in the only marathon she ever ran. I tell people that was the hardest marathon I ever ran, but it is a story for a different day. Today, the same 1.5 miles seemed a whole lot farther going back than going out.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Hair of the Dog

Ran 4 today, easy. Franklin Field loop with 2 laps. Just to keep running and to gauge the extent of my aches and pains. Judging from the run I'm in good shape. Put Charley Patton on the iPod, great blues but not great running music.

For anyone interested, I sueandpaulled the half marathon course, figuring this would be a way to measure the accuracy of the mapping distances to a gold standard. Came out to 13.2 miles. Can't complain about that accuracy, so I guess its more me than the technology when I have my differences over how long a course was.

One other thought I had today, as I'm still on a high from yesterdays race, was how much more I ran "my" race instead of a strategy that seems more rational on paper but doesn't work for me. I don't speed up in later stages of the race, or at least I can't depend on it. I start out at an ambitious clip and if I figure it right I lock into that pace and hang on. I did that yesterday, whereas in Virginia Beach I looked to take it easy and then speed up later. I don't think I've ever done that. Maybe that's why I never felt like McMillan's coaching approach was for me.

I'm also thinking of running Philly marathon this year instead of Memphis. Not so much because of yesterdays race but because its not worth the money to truck the whole family down to Memphis for a long weekend. I'm not committed anyway yet, but can bump up my training so I'll be ready for Philly, which is in mid November.

And lastly, thanks to the folks who have communicated their good wishes to me re. yesterday.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Old & In the Way - PDR 2005

Before I give the usual race report, I'll put folks at ease and assure you I won't do any whining. I had the race I wanted to run in Virginia Beach.

Weather was beautiful, race was well organized, hit the toilet at home and parked on 31st St. right across the bridge from the Art Museum. C, my #1 fan, was back in my corner after being absent for the last few races. Pre race prep was like a social hour, chatting with all sorts of folks including the mates on my masters team - Old & In the Way - including my buddies KF and MM, English Mike from PhillyRunners, and CN, whom I enlisted from the Bryn Mawr club to fill out the roster.

Gun went off and we headed down the Ben Franklin Parkway into Center City. I cut myself a break and followed out RM, who is about my speed and age, and another Bryn Mawr runner I didn't know, which saved me from having to think during the usual waltz around and between folks in the first mile. I missed the mile 1 marker and ran past SC, who is one of about 20 folks who has run in all 24 PDRs. Mile 2 passes in 11:46 and I pull ahead of RM to take up pacing chores and that is the last I see of him. Mile 3 split was 5:49, and I was already 25 seconds ahead of where I was in the R&R half two weeks ago. Looping through Center City and back up the BF Parkway and onto MLK, miles 4, 5, & 6 pass in 5:45, 5:48, and 5:51. The 10k checkpoint passes in 36:17, and I note with some satisfaction that this is only 7 seconds slower than my Stone Harbor 10k time 3 weeks ago.

Each of the subsequent miles put more seconds in the bank - mile 7 in 5:55 and mile 8 in 5:54. Mile 9 had the only "hill" on the course, the stretch leading up to the Falls River Bridge and I knew if I was going to slow down it would be here. I chugged up it, past the bagpipe player on the bridge, and onto Kelly Drive for a 5:59 split. Now I could concentrate on finishing strong. About four or five of us dueled through parts of of the last four miles, but I didn't pick up the pace. Miles 10 (5:58 for a 58:48 10 mile time), 11 (5:56), and 12 (5:48) went by and I realized I had a shot at breaking 1:17. Couldn't or wouldn't speed it up any faster as mile 13 went by in 5:58 and the finish clock loomed closer, telling me my time would be in the 1:17's. This daze was interrupted by some guy with a Central Park Track Club singlet blowing by me, and my reaction was "oh no you don't" and I sprinted back by him and across the finish. 1:17:05 chip time.

This was a big finish for me. 2 1/2 minutes faster than the R&R half 2 weeks ago and my pace back under 6 minutes. The final sprint amazed me and I realized I had the reserves to have gone under 1:17. But instead of crying over this it just tells me what I'm capable of this season. I spent much of the race thinking defensively, with each mile under 6 minutes being one more mile less in which I could potentially crash. Now I know I can go faster and this sets up the rest of my season.

I finished 90th overall and 5th in my age group, which qualifies me for some shwag if the awards go 5 deep. Old & In the Way finished 3rd among the masters teams, which also may bring us some shwag.

Seems like folks either did very well or very poorly. Deena Kastor set an American women's record, and the male master's record was also broken. KF did nicely at 1:19, MM finished in about 1:33 which he wasn't happy about but I was, considering this was his longest run since coming off foot surgery earlier this year. CN finished in 1:36 and English Mike was a bit disappointed with his three times - his gun time, chip time, and shit time, as he was waylaid for a few minutes at a porta potty. Seems like the porta potties should be fitted with a device that deducts the time spent in them from your finishing time.

I see from the race results that the Atlanta Track club masters men beat us for second, which interested me as I recognized the name (and the age matches) of a guy with whom I ran cross country the one year I ran at Grinnell. Small world, but I didn't see him (nor would I likely have recognized him) at the race. I did see a ton of folks after the race, and really felt us local runners to be a community.

As always, C cheered loudly and lustily, and managed to do so from several points in the course. Also got a boost from the reclusive RB, whom I haven't seen since last year but who gave me a shout from two points in the course.

In contrast to the Rock n Roll marathons that Elite Racing puts on, the PDR this year had chamber music, jazz and other less conventional music groups on the course. A nice touch, but I would have preferred the Rocky theme.

Lots of other stuff to comment on, but its late. I've really felt good about this race all day, which is rare especially since I didn't PR. Next up is the Parkway Run 5k next weekend, in which the team I ran on last year "Easy on the Eyes" will defend our title. Much is at stake here, as first team prize is free lunch at the Four Seasons, which is easily the most enjoyable thing I've ever won in my running career. It also gives me a chance to really air it out and see how fast I can go.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Home Field Advantage

C & I went out to the Art Museum this morning, C to walk and me to see who was out there. The only person who showed up at 8:15 was SK, which was fortuitous as he, like I, is running PDR tomorrow and was not looking for anything strenuous. So we ran the loop around the drives. These 8.5 miles comprise about 8/13's of the PDR course, so as we were stretching our legs we were also previewing the course. Not that we needed to do so, as we both know every bump and pothole on the bloody loop, but I guess we can rest assured that no seismic shift altered the course any in the last week.

One big part of the home field advantage. This along with being able to sleep in my bed, eat my own food, and know where to park and avoid the ridiculous delays I had to deal with before the R&R half two weeks ago.

In the spirit of saving ourselves for tomorrow, we both took it very slow around the drives, doing the whole 8.5 mile loop in 73:35. Interesting to note that, short of a death march, that is about the slowest I'll run, and it comes out to about an 8:30-9:00 pace judging by the markers along the loop. This helps when I'm judging distances on unmarked courses and continues to have me wary of the accuracy of the online mapping sites.

As it was slow, the run was chattier than usual as well. First half was spent talking running, second half was spent talking football, of which my knowledge has become woefully outdated, to the point to where I don't know who the top college football teams are this year.

Met up w/ C again at the end and also said hi to the 10 or so Philly Runners out for the 9:30 run. There are 8 PDR teams (5 persons each) signed up to run PDR tomorrow. That is very impressive. As for me, my goal tomorrow is to run faster than I did in Virginia Beach, and keep it at that. Of course a part of me hopes that everything will come together and I'll have a much better day than that, but we'll see. And of course I'll post the details tomorrow.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Ewwww, Sports

Words of wisdom this morning from my daughter, uttered in telling me how she can't understand why one of her friends is running cross country. Just as the businessman's daughter joins a commune, or the hippie's son becomes an Amway salesman, I suppose this is my lot.

It was soooo difficult to get out of bed this morning, which means it must be Friday. Neither E nor I were in the mood to expend much energy, so we did an Art Museum loop in the spirit of tapering for Sunday's race. The traffic helped us out here as it seems we got stalled on every intersection behind a red light and looking at a line of cars. More energy was spent venting on the Bush Administration's handling of Katrina than on maintaining any kind of pace. Call it a long 6 in 54:26.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Running with the Devils

Ran over lunch hour today with USP's Cross Country team. USP sports teams are nicknamed the Devils - hence the entry title.

We all rode up to Belmont Plateau and did the men's 5-mile course. I ran in the lead group with JH, a senior with whom I had run regularly in the Spring, and JA, USP's top female runner who set a USP best for 6,000 meter time (at any meet) last week with a 24:20. It was fun to run the Belmont course, which is storied if not legendary in Philadelphia running circles, although the steep uphills and screaming downhills did little to help my already tender Achilles tendons. Ran the 5 mile course half-fast in 34:55. Then ran back to USP for another 3.5 miles in 30:15.

I stopped for water after finishing the Belmont part of the run, and my muscles were tight for the run back to USP. Otherwise it was not a particularly strenuous workout, at least by Thursday standards. Thats okay, as I'm now in mini-taper for Sundays Philadelphia Distance Run.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Pigs Are Flying

After weeks of laying down the hard sell, E finally got TK to run with us this morning. In celebration and to keep the vision alive, we did a lap on the Cobbs Creek track. Other than that, it was an uneventful, brisk jaunt around the Cobbs Creek loop, coming home on Warrington.

Mapped this route on both sueandpaul and keyhole, as the former came up with 7 miles, which seemed awfully short, but keyhole backed that up. So they're either both short or my instincts engaged in wishful thinking and, at 60:20, my pace was way slower than it felt. But as always we'll be conservative (yet skeptical) and call it 7.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Speedwork for Dummies

Here's how dummies do speed workouts. On a hot sunny day, wait until the middle of the day to go out and don't bring any water. Then do your workout like it was ideal conditions.

I went out to Franklin Field on my lunch hour. It must have been in the 90s today and I could feel the heat radiating up from the polyurethane. The workout for the day was 4-5 1600 meter reps at 5:45, with 400m recovery between reps. It doesn't escape me that 5:45 was my tempo pace last year, but I'm swallowing my pride in search of a baseline I can work off of.

The workout was tough. On each of the first four runs I ran the first 3 laps a bit slow so that I had to run a sub 1:25 for the last 400 m to get under my target time. On the first 3 reps I ended up hitting them in 5:42; 5:42; 5:44, and in the fourth one I gave it my all to get a 5:48. Ugh. I was worthless on the fifth rep and I did it more to build my mental endurance threshold for torture than for any thought of hitting goal pace. Time for this rep was 6:16, with all of me screaming the whole way to stop.

My mouth was dry and I really felt dehydrated afterwards, so that I ended up drinking water from the bathroom sink at FF. Made it back okay and now just have that nice "worked over with a baseball bat" feeling in my legs. Ahhhh, how I love the track.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Bacme Loop

If you run the Acme loop backwards does it become the nadir loop?

I wanted to try the loop backwards because I drove south on Saturday on the stretch of 40th St. that this loop covers and was amazed by the many things I did not notice, including a beautiful mural overlooking a community garden. So we inverted our usual directions and the loop did seem different, particularly the hills and noticing stetches of our run that either go up or down without our noticing when we go the usual way. 40th St. was a bit different, but not as much as I thought looking from the car.

ES also joined us today. She matches the preferred profile of people who run with us - fast, overeducated and tired of running the Drives. ES came to Philly rather recently so the backroads of West Philly were new to her. Hopefully we didn't scare her off and she will show up again on Wed. E says that TK and K? also have committed to showing on Wed morning, which would give us a veritable W. Philly running club, but I won't believe TK is gonna show until I see his butt, ready to run, on E's front porch.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Really Cookin'

No, I mean I was really cooking.

I was fixing dinner this afternoon and went for a run after I put the chicken in the oven. Had about 45 minutes to run, just enough to squeeze in a 4 miler and get my weekly mileage to 60.

Beautiful sunny day, nice clip, ran the Franklin Field loop with two laps around the track. Total was four miles, I didn't wear a watch and felt totally unfettered. . . free as a bird.

I got back and a golden brown, slightly crisp skin covered the juicy tender chicken. Perfect timing, although the gravy came out lumpy and coagulated.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

20 miler #1

First one of this marathon training cycle. Went to the Art Museum and met up with MD, JW and SK. MD joined us for the first five, and I dragged the other two around the 18 mile West Philly loop that I described 2 weeks ago in this blog (title - "It don't come easy").

Its invaluable to have good company on these long runs, and good company I did have. I feel like an evangelist as I sing the virtues of West Philly running as these guys have no choice but to follow me because they haven't a clue where they are. We ran the loop at a decent 8 mile clip, and I added two MLK miles at the end of the loop to make it 20. 2:47:37.

I'm noticing that the comments are getting spammed up. Too bad but not surprising. I expect it will get worse and that function will become useless. Oh well. T tells me the Phillies just blew their lead against the Marlins, time to go back to watching the game.

Friday, September 09, 2005

So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright. . .

Architects may come and
Architects may go and
Never change your point of view.
When I run dry
I stop awhile and think of you

So long, Frank Lloyd Wright
All of the nights we'd harmonize till dawn.
I never laughed so long
So long
So long.

Simon & Garfunkel song. . . off of the album Bridge Over Troubled Water. One of the first albums I ever owned.

The song bounces around inside my head upon my return from Racine Wisconsin, where I was at a conference center called Wingspread, whose main building was designed by FLW (see picture). It is an amazing building, and was an amazing three days spent discussing ideas and initiatives about preventing homelessness among persons coming out of the corrections and foster care systems. This was done with various smart, interesting people amidst beautiful surroundings. This is what work should be.

I did manage to get runs in both mornings that I was here, which meant getting up early as the day started at 8:30. On Thursday I ran 90 minutes (almost exactly), leaving the grounds and making a right onto 4 Mile Road to Lighthouse Road, which goes along Lake Michigan and letting me run to the gentle rhythms of the incoming wavelets. Then (about a mile down) I cut in on a road called 3 Mile Road and, in case anyone reading this is familiar with Racine, back over on Green Bay Road and then completing the loop on Four Mile Road again. This left me about 20 minutes short, so I went back down to Lake Michigan and ran along the lake a bit more. Call it a long 11, with no speed as I was just happy to get a long workout in.

On Friday I ran over by the lake again and headed down Three Mile Road but cut the loop short by running down a bicycle path. This provided a solitary, packed dirt trail and obviated the need for running amidst morning traffic on narrow shoulders. I wish I would have known about this on my first run, as I could have taken the path into “downtown” Racine. I also ran a bit through the campus of the Prairie School (which I later found out is a very highfalutin private school) with immaculately maintained grounds and a brand new fieldhouse. My legs were very sore, but did manage to hammer out the last fifteen minutes. Total time was 71:30, call it a long 8.5 miles.

Both days were beautiful crisp early autumn days that were a pleasure to run in. I couldn’t help but remember the last time I got in a workout on a beautiful autumn Midwest (Springfield Illinois) morning – 4 years minus two days ago from today (figure out what happened then).

By the way, I changed the little pic of me on the top left hand corner of the blog. It was taken at last weeks R&R half by the race photographers, and I ripped it from their website. Click on it and check out the large version if you don't think I leave everything on the course.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Hung Over

Not from any excessive drinking, but from yesterday's track workout. My legs just ached this morning. An alcohol hangover gets better as the run progresses, this kind just gets more miserable.

Nonetheless, did the usual 8-mile Acme loop, a bit slow in 65:50. Weather has cooled and it was dark for the first 5-10 minutes of the run, a harbinger of things to come. Ran with E and the conversation was easy.

Off to Racine so I probably won't check in again until the weekend.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

When All Else Fails. . .

lower your expectations.

Back to the track today after a day off yesterday and the race on Sunday. I figured I'd continue lowering my goals to where I could actually meet them. And today I didn't disappoint myself.

I don't currently have a coach (a story I haven't put on my blog) so its up to come up with track workouts for myself. After coming up short last week with 1600s at 5:30, I decided to try 800's at 2:50. 8-10 of them, the last two being optional depending on how I felt, and 200m recovery in between reps. Nailed the first six in 2:49; 2:45; 2:45; 2:45; 2:47 & 2:48. For both of the next the next two, the first 400 went by in 1:27 meaning I'd really have to push it to finish in under the goal time. I gave it all I had for the seventh rep to get in at 2:49; and gave it all I didn't know I had for the eighth rep to nail it in 2:48. This last rep, pushing it past anything I thought I had left, is why I submit myself to the agony of the track. Its a feeling I'll hold onto at least for the rest of the day.

After that I gamely tried one more rep, but I was spent and finished it in 3:12. I didn't bother trying for a 10th lap, and finished the day with 8 1/2 miles and a baseline for future workouts. I'm off to Racine Wisconsin for a few days on business, and later tonight hopefully I'll keyhole some running loops that let me take advantage of being on the shore of Lake Michigan.

Rock N Roll Half Marathon . . .

If the race doesn't kick your ass, a swim in the ocean will. ~KF

Actually it was more a weekend than a race, and more of a roadtrip than a weekend. Me, M and KF loaded the cd caddy with music and took off for my sister's (who lives in the DC area) on Friday afternoon, making it down there by the evening where we cooked out and hung out until we were at the far edge of what a prudent bedtime might be two days before the race. We continued our trip on Saturday afternoon on Route 17 through the heart of Virginia, passing by gas stations where prices fluctuated from $2.89 to $3.59. We pulled into the Expo by about 4 and made it onto the beach by about 5. Virginia Beach is at the same time one of Virginia's largest cities and a highly scrubbed beach town. In addition to the race, which would attract about 18,000 participants, there was a music festival going on with such faves as Hootie and the Blowfish, Leann Rimes, Journey and (my favorite) Ted Nugent. We took in Leann (that night's headliner), who performed on a stage on the beach, for about 15 minutes, took a walk down the boardwalk (which is actually made of concrete), and then headed up the road to Norfolk where we had our roach motel reservation.

We got up at 4:30 am, ostensibly to make it in plenty of time to the parking for the shuttle bus to the start. The brochure said there would be plenty of parking, what they didn't say is that the volunteers would be inexplicably slow and anal in directing the cars into the lot. To make a long story short, we sat in traffic to get in to the parking for a long enough time so that we had just enough time to take the shuttle bus and get to the starting area so that we could throw our stuff onto the gear trucks as they were closing up and get to our corral by mid national anthem. And we were by no means the last people to get to the start.

Having barely finished that race, the rest was an anticlimax. I conservatively set out to do 6 minute miles and passed mile 3 at exactly 18 minutes. From that point on I spent the race picking off people one by one who were ahead of me (I would not get passed by anyone after this point) while trying in vain to get a sub 6 minute mile split. Some were close, right at 6 minutes, others, such as mile 10, were into a strong headwind and slowed me down to 6:15. A side stitch at mile 11 put a damper on any hopes of a strong finish and I came in at 1:19:40, good enough for a top 100 finish but slower than I had hoped. KF came in less than a minute behind me.

The course was flat and fast, weather a bit on the warm and windy side but not bad, and the race organizers did their best to make the runners forget that they were actually running by lining the course with bands and cheerleaders and the like. Much of that gets lost on me, as I am one of the apparent few who focuses on the race. But I do remember giving the thumbs up to a whole cadre of really ugly overweight middle aged men dressed as cheerleaders that provided a welcome antidote to cheerleaders of the freshly scrubbed high school variety that lined much of the course and who for some reason kept shouting out how proud of us they were. There was an encampment of people in a camouflage tent, a la Cindy Sheehan, with pro war signs who probably didn't take too kindly to my shouting "bring em all home" as I ran by. But other than that the race was a dreary succession of 6 minute miles.

The race ends right by the beach, where we went through the usual post-race rituals and met up with M and then proceeded to jump in the ocean. The surf was rough enough for the lifeguards to post red flags and the waves pounding already wobbly legs was enough to wipe me out several times. The rest of the day was a succession of eating, trying to catch naps out of the sun, more swimming and then, in the evening, of listening to Journey and eating turkey legs. Journey was the headliner of my first big concert when I was 14, and its safe to say that much has changed since then, including my musical tastes. M and KF enjoyed it however, so we stayed for most of the concert and then drove halfway across Virginia again to get back to my sisters house at about 2am.

So I can say the day started with a race, ended with a marathon, with the R&R half sandwiched in the middle.

Reading this over again, I seem to hit more of a negative tone than I actually feel, for on road trips like this the highlights are in the little things that happen along the way, in the camraderie of fellow travellers, the little in-jokes and other intangibles that are difficult to describe. And the realization that, as I get older, the opportunity for such trips get fewer and farther between. In that I feel that I'm passing the torch on to M, who at 14 hopefully has a lifetime full of these kind of trips ahead of her. Bottom line was we all agreed to do it the right way next year, with a 2 night reservation for hotel on the beach within walking distance of the concerts and within warmup distance of the starting line where M can watch cable tv while we race and we don't have to worry about hotel security as we try to cop a few z's on their well manicured shady lawns. We'll bring the rest of the family and hopefully some other folks as well, and keep talking about how it was more fun the first time around.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Wake of the Flood

Still feeling very affected by everything in New Orleans and the surrounding areas. I sat this morning reading the NY Times coverage and pushed my run back a half hour in taking in the physical and social unraveling of a major US city. Again a distinct sense of depression accompanied me into the run.

The mental malaise was accompanied by a variety of physical aches and pains. Nothing serious but initial stiffness gave way to some aches around the knees, tightness in the calves, and a general weariness that made me glad that the half marathon wasn't being run today. This could still be the effects of Tuesday's track workout, but after taking the day off yesterday I thought that my legs would be in better shape.

So we're driving down to Virginia Beach for the Rock n Roll half marathon this afternoon. We'll stay at my sisters tonight, at a hotel in Norfolk tomorrow night, and go back up to my sisters on Sunday night. Strategy is to start out running 6's, and hopefully pick up speed as the race progresses. This may, however, be one of those goals that I think is conservative but may in fact be more than I can handle. But on the other hand, I don't want to go out any slower than that. After today, I'm not optimistic that I'll run a great time, but it will again give me an idea of where I'm at and what I can realistically expect for this fall's marathon.

Today's loop was the 8-mile Sweetbriar loop, run in 65:31.