Seebo's Run

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

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Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Disturbing the Spirits

Two workouts today. 9 miles this morning on a loop going out to the Columbia railroad bridge and back home through Fairmount Park (via 48th St), done in 81:54. Workout #2 was 5.5 miles on the hamster wheel over lunch, time was 40:45.

I'll start with the second run. The sole reason for this run was to boost my monthly mileage total to 285, which represents the most mileage I've ever alotted in a February. The previous high, set last year was, you guessed it, 284 miles. This sounds fairly gratuitous but is important enough to get in. Last year's total represented a good month - I got a workout in on all 28 days. This year February had its ups and downs, and to still get 285 miles gives me a much better feeling about where my training is at this point.

This mornings run was fairly non-descript. I set out at 6:10 and it was already a little light from the false dawn, that was very encouraging. Temps were a bit chilly, esp. into the wind at MLK. And the most notable part of the loop was noticing the bulldozer and tree-felling action going on on Lex St. When I'm in the area, I'll usually go down the 800 block of North Lex Street to pay my respects to the 7 who died there in 2001 in the "Lex Street Massacre." Then the block was a dilapidated set of row-turned-crack houses, the block has since been bulldozed and left fallow to grow a crop of bottles, plastic bags, and other stuff that accumulates in vacant lots. I apparently wasn't the only one who has kept this block in mind, however, as this morning it is obviously being cleared for some type of development. Bulldozers were moving earth around; a couple of crews were felling the few large trees that remained on either side of the block.

I hope whoever's behind this knows the history of the block. This was a very rough area where, as I mentioned, 7 people, with troubles of their own, died execution style one night. They were shot by another group of perhaps even more troubled men, and brought to troubled justice in a process that had the police first arrest a separate set of individuals that they were forced to release, albeit reluctantly, when it appeared that this second group were indeed the perpetrators. The best account, at least of the initial aftermath, is by Solomon Jones for one of the free Philadelphia weekly papers, and is linked here (and here) if you want to read more about it.

Lex Street was a tragedy, but not one where there is ever going to be any memorial put up (beyond a vacant lot) to commemorate it. On the contrary, this is something most folks will just as soon forget. But while I ain't superstitious, I think that block of Lex Street is one of those things that are better left undisturbed, at least for awhile longer.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Round and Round that Damn Oval

Quick trip to DC. I had a conference presentation come up on short notice and took it as much for the chance to visit my sister in Arlington as for the conference itself. Me and Tony (he was happy for the chance to play hooky and visit his aunt) took the train up last night and got back this evening.

Instead of plotting out some course in Arlington I decided to do my running on the Washington & Lee (can you tell you're in the South?) High School track thats a few blocks from my sister's house. Only problem is that I wanted to do 13 miles. This promised to be challenging - albeit more mentally than physically.

Figured that the best way to slice and dice this was to do three repeats of three mile reps at marathon pace. In track shorthand, thats 3 x 4800m (w/ 1600m rec.) at 18:00, with a 1 mile warmup and cooldown. It was long, it was grinding, but I got the workout in, nailing the reps in 17:45, 17:52 & 17:52. Physically, as expected, it wasn't that bad, in fact it was easier than the 10 mile mp runs I'd been doing on the hamster wheel lately. It just gets really hard to keep up the determination to keep going, esp. on the last rep, where I couldn't get my pace on target and had to really hammer it for the last 800. And then, as you see by the time, I hammered it too hard.

But hey, its done. Tomorrow I want to do 14.5, easy and probably in two workouts, so I can at least equal my February mileage from last year. But I'm also aware that I'm setting myself up to sleep through tomorrow's workout again.

We'll see.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Felt a whole lot better today. Got up and I felt and walked normally. I was cautiously optimistic as I went up to Manayunk to run with Philly Track Club guys.

They meet at a house that a few of them share off of Ridge Ave, and from there eight of us ran to Forbidden Trail, taking it all the way up to Northwest Ave. From there we went up to Germantown Ave. and took a long uphill into Chestnut Hill. I'll try to reconstruct where we went from there on g-map from there, but it amounted to alot of familiar sounding street names going over unfamiliar, very affluent and leafy terrain with rolling hills. As expected, I was the slowest guy in the group, and I realized that if I were to go off pace then I would be quite lost. Actually the pace at I'm guessing around 7 min. miles, was not too hard for me to keep up but I had to work it harder than the others. This was about what I was looking for.

After some trial and error, I did reconstruct the course on g-map. The problem is that I get turned around direction-wise very easily, and this is an easy part of town to quickly have no idea what direction you're going in. But, along with the other benefits of this run, I enjoyed going over someplace new. 15.5 miles in 1:42:05.

So all in all a good day runningwise, just the antidote for yesterday and one that gives me hope again for the upcoming two months.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

If the Thunder Don't Get You. . .

Then the lightning will.

Okay Scott, what song is that lyric from? Good to see you this morning, btw, as we were running in your neck of the 'hood.

I was pleased with myself for getting in my workouts over last weekend's ski trip. At the time of my last blog entry, I figured that I'd just fall back into my usual routine. I figured wrong. Without going into details, I couldn't get up either Wed. or Thurs. mornings. Took a dnr on Wednesday to rest up from the weekend, and my work schedule conspired against me to keep from making up my workout on Thursday. Thursday's workout was tougher to miss because it lost a track workout. Friday I overslept again and knew I was on a slippery slope. When I get to this point, it gets really hard to turn the momentum around. Especially yesterday, with a raw north wind blowing hard and my having to run in the afternoon, I was not in the mood to do it at all but I knew I had to.

The run was as bad as I thought it would be. I planned to do 15 around the Drives with the Drives part at marathon pace. But I was not feeling energetic and upon hitting MLK felt the full force of the quadri-directional headwind, so I decided to just run it and to cut it down to 13.5 by going over the B-N hill and back through Fairmount Park. The whole run was basically a long lonesome slog, with my hip still nagging and the only consolation being that I finished the run. Time was 1:47:50.

Similar cycle again this morning. Yesterday morning I foolishly posted on the Philly Runner's message board that I was going to do 2 river loops at marathon pace. After yesterday's run I changed my mind and decided to go up to Bryn Mawr to run with the store guys at 8 am, but my transportation arrangements fell through at the last minute. That led to plan C, in which I joined up with Erin, KJ, English Mike, Jim & Marita, who were to do one of Erin's favorite jaunts up through the far NW corner of Phila (hence the run in with Scott). Wind was from the South today, which meant it was a bit warmer but it really wore me down on the Cobbs Creek leg all the way down to Woodland Ave. It brought up flashbacks of Grandma's Marathon in 2004, which was 26.2 miles of Lake Superior headwind. My legs felt absolutely dead and my hip continued to ache. The two didn't appear to be related, but I can't tell that for sure. The loop was 14 miles, and I wanted to tack on a few afterwards, but my digestive system vetoed that idea at the last minute. My watch said the 14 went in 2:02:59, but, while we were slow, it didn't feel that slow.

I finished the run feeling very depressed. January was a great month and now at the end of February things feel like they're on the verge of falling apart. I have had no energy this week and I have a hip problem that's on the verge of forcing me to take time off. All this with the racing season effectively two weeks away.

So I'm planning to run with the Philly Track Club guys tomorrow on their long run from Manayunk. Weather calls for the winds to continue unabated. I suppose I'll either feel alot better or alot worse.

Round, round, Robin run around
Gotta get back where you belong
Little bit harder, just a little bit more
Little bit further than you gone before

I also caught up on my trek across America today. I had about 150 miles to plot. That was just about the distance from where I was to Matewan, WV. Matewan is on the Tug River right on the West Virginia-Kentucky border and was one of the flash points in the coal miners' struggle to unionize. There is a rich history here, which I spent awhile reading up on. That part of West Virginia went from pristine to industrial in a very short period of time, leading to miserable conditions for the miners and what appears to be an incredible fervor to organize. Following the events alternately known as the "Battle of Matewan" and the "Matewan Massacre", the miner's organized in an armed rebellion estimated at around 5-10 thousand persons in the largest insurrection this side of the Civil War. Damn. Walmart workers should read about this.

Did they teach you that stuff in history class, Ian?

Matewan is also ground zero for the Hatfield and McCoy feud, commemorated with a marathon that finishes in this city. I remember seeing this article about it in Running Times; the author, John Kissane, is a guy I ran cross country with in college. Of course, whenever I see a marathon website I go right to the results, and see that less than 200 people ran it last year.

Alot of links today. Shows I learned something, which is why I do this virtual run across America. Now to figure out where to go next.

Small wheel turning by the fire and rod
Big wheel turning by the grace of God
Every time that wheel turn round
Bound to cover just a little more ground

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Hill Repeats

For the last three days, I've been doing hill repeats the proper way - downhill, very fast, on long thin boards made of fiberglass.

Got back earlier today from a long weekend of skiing in the Poconos. We met up with the family of an old high school friend with sons about Tony's age and we spent each of the last three days putting in 8+ hours skiing. As this isn't a skiing blog I'll merely say it was most excellent.

My running also held its own, but in a decidedly more mundane fashion on the treadmill at the "resort" we were staying at. Sunday and Monday I did 8.5 and 10 miles respectively, at about 7:30 pace for what I considered to be easy days. Today I did 11, with 9 miles at 6 minute pace. Tedious affairs all three, but they fulfilled the obligation.

Has anyone figured out what the exchange rate is between hours on the slopes and miles run? Skiing doesn't beat up the legs as much as it wears them down. In retrospect, putting all this stress on my legs was probably not a bright move. But I'd do it again. But instead I will go back to a pile of shit at work tomorrow and my left hip, with its suspected bursitis, being at its naggingest. I really aggravated it, especially with a couple of falls, and now I'm hoping that my hip will be forgiving of my foolishness.

In the meantime, the alert level is back up to yellow.

Saturday, February 18, 2006


they'll make a marathon out of this run.

Yesterday, I linked to the route I was planning to do. It was developed by Ian, who basically took all the Rocky movie landmarks and connected the dots into a loop. If you're willing to run 15 miles, you can start at the Art Museum and go up through North Philly up to Front and Dauphin Streets where the gym is located where Rocky trained, down into Center City past Independence Hall and into South Philly, where you go down 9th St. - the Italian Market - and past the meat lockers like those where Rocky worked on his form. Then its west on Morris St. past the church where Rocky and Adrian got married and back to the Art Museum. I passed on going up the steps. I ran down to the Art Museum and back home to make it a long 20. Was looking to stay on my legs and not out to do speed, total time was 2:53:25.

This run shows much more of Philadelphia than the marathon course does. While over half of the marathon course is run in Fairmount Park where the purpose seems to be to cover the city's grit with green, this course flaunts that hard-scrabble (I should say hard-scrapple) character that most of us residents (outside of Center City and Chestnut Hill) are proud of. Thats not to say that its all slum and ghetto. The loop has its stretches like Front Street, where junkies and prostitutes walk around like they still haven't grasped that its morning, but the course also has a good dollop of luxury and mostly working class blocks that comprise the heart of this city. Furthermore, in every part of the city we ran through there was building - development, revitalization, gentrification, whaddevayawanna callit - which most marathoners would miss, but for a trained eye shows a city on the uptake (not just on the take). So, extend this loop down to the only major Rocky landmark we missed - the Spectrum - where Rocky fought Creed and where the Rocky statue now stands, and you have a marathon course which will give people a true taste of Philly (hell, it even goes by Pat's and Geno's cheesesteak joints), a taste they just don't get on the current course.

This was a good run for several other reasons. First was the company. Six others - Erin, KJ, Jim, Chemistry Steve, Marita and Mony - showed up to do all or part of this loop. For Marita it was the longest she'd ever run, and she hung with us until Center City, when she cut back on Pine St. as the rest of us headed South. It was good to see Mony, who has been scarce lately, but his training was also not up to the full run. KJ was MIA after he hung back with Marita, so there were four of us who finished up the loop, not quite as it was laid out but, hey, this is Philly where even the best plans are merely guidelines. I don't remember having run with Jim before, he has a form that looks like he's jogging until you realize he's taking you down to what feels like mid or lo 7 pace, which is what we chugged back to the Art Museum doing. And Chemistry Steve wanted to get in extra miles and was good enough to give me company on my run back to West Philly before he cut back to Center City. Like I always say after these things, it takes a village. . .

I liked the run because it took me out of the Fairmount-Manayunk-West Philly paradigm of long runs. Going up north and east led me to neighborhoods I'd only gawked at through a windshield. Then in South Philly it was fun to run through places that I'd only been to before through driving. However, the tight grid layout, especially in South Philly, is not conducive to running steady and my legs, which felt good this morning, got extra beat up over the course of the course. Foregoing speed today for time on my feet. The breathing was easy but the walking is a little unsteady now.

This has me resolved to do more long runs in a northeasterly direction in the future, and do some exploring like we did today.

Friday, February 17, 2006


I'm in.

The Paris Marathon finally has me included among their list of runners. Metraux fits in there quite nicely among such names as "Metairie," "Metallier" and "Methiviers."

#2471, a high enough number to where I can gun for the lower numbers, but low enough to get me in the preferred start group, meaning I can start near the front. In a race of 36,000 people, that is important for a good time.

So now the focus becomes clearer. Paris Marathon is April 9, about 7 weeks away. Eek!

Beautifully mild weather this morning, snow is nearly all melted again and is no longer an issue. All four of us made it out this morning but KJ turned back early due to injuries, minor I hope, he suffered from wiping his bike out on the trolley tracks yesterday. The rest of us kept going around the Acme loop. As is normal for me on Friday mornings, I was/am really really tired. But I got pulled along early and finished the loop feeling strong. 9.5 in 75:47, about nine minutes faster than what we did Wednesday.

Check this out for the run planned tomorrow. Meet us out at the Philadelphia Museum of Art at 8:15 if you want to join us. To and fro West Philly should give me about 20 miles total. Miles-not Speed will be my mantra tomorrow. And I'm not doing the steps.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

GU for Breakfast

I teach this evening, so I started my workout after dropping Tony off at school. I didn't want to have a full stomach, but I didn't want to have an empty one either. So I took a GU. GU for breakfast, I feel like I've crossed some threshold of running geekiness. It tastes worse (vanilla flavor) when you eat it standing still than on the go.

Anyway, jogged to the track to do Yasso 800s for the first track workout of the season. I always think of my buddy Dennis' dog, a big, mean German Shepherd, who is named Yasso, when I do these. But that's not why I do them. As I've said several times when I've done these workouts in the past, and as you can find out by googling "Yasso 800", these are 800 meter reps (I do 10 of them with 400m recovery) with the gimmick that the rep times, in minutes and seconds, corresponds to your marathon shape, in hours and minutes. So this promises to give me an idea of what kind of shape I'm in.

Judging from the first one, not in very good shape. I had hoped (wished) to be able to nail these in 2:38-2:40, and the first one went down in 2:41, but what worried me was how heavy I was breathing. I'll never be able to do another nine of these was my thinking and I settled into survival mode. Turns out I settled down pretty quickly and the next eight went down in the 2:40-2:42 range. I pushed as hard as I could on the last one and managed a 2:39. Looking back on my fall workouts, this is as good a track workout as I had last year, even though I felt like I was holding back, so as to save something for the last reps. This bodes well for things to come, and indicates that I'm already in 2:40 - 2:42 marathon shape.

10.5 miles total and clock (running even when I wasn't) says 79:54.

As a reward, I'm having lunch with Mark and Mike, two erstwhile Main Line running buddies who I don't get to see much anymore.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Snow Going

Run with Club West Philly this morning, good to be back into that routine. Ran the 9.5 mile Acme loop in a sluggish 84:10. I'm still aching from Monday's run, Erin is concentrating on changing her running form, and I don't know what KJ's excuse was. The snow also slows things down - running around it, through it, or away from it and into more crowded space. Parts of this run felt like running in the suburbs, where there is less room between you and the cars and the cars are much less accommodating vis a vis sharing space. Its like as things get more cramped, motorists' true colors emerge.

What I'm saying is that its high time all this white shit melts. It looks promising that we'll make progress towards that goal today: sunny and high forecast to hit the lo 50's. Snow does not age well in Philadelphia - it tends to turn yellow, brown, black and other unnatural colors.

Still marking miles. The plan tomorrow is, for the first time this year, to run around pointlessly in carefully demarcated ovals at elevated speeds. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Double Helping - Over Easy

Had the old Eddie Cochran song "Summertime Blues" in my head during this afternoon's run. Cruel irony?!

I felt better this morning after really getting sick to my stomach last night. I kept to my resolution to keep it easy today, although it really wasn't hard to do this since my legs had that special touched by a baseball bat feel to them today. I went out for an easy four on the Franklin Field loop (39:46 - told you it was easy) this morning, which meant I could get away with going 8 over lunch (70:51) on what I call the Sweetbriar loop. Total of 12 for the day. The sun was bright and its not too cold, but the conditions conspired with my legs to keep things slow, as running still means going around or through snow piles, puddles, and oddly shaped cars, and being on more intimate terms with cars than I'm comfortable with as there is less space for all of us. But I wasn't in a hurry, so for once I didn't mind.

Shoot for the usual 6am Club West Philly run tomorrow morning, still easy, and hopefully by Thursday conditions will be pretty much back to normal again.

The key to training in the doldrums of February, with snow on the ground, is one day at a time - whatever you can get in. String those days together and just look to survive. Two more weeks till March and then there's light at the end of the track.

Monday, February 13, 2006


Not a good day today. Go into the office after being out for a few days and realize how much stuff I have to do. In addition, there are meetings spread out through the day. Among various other problems is the problem of when to run. I didn't go at my usual 6am time because the darkness and the snow was not a good combination.

I was pondering this while walking through Penn campus when I heard a "hey, Seebo" and saw Craig. He was coming from Pottruck Gym, fresh from a treadmill workout incorporating some tempo miles. He looked beaming and initially I felt jealous but then thought, I might as well take his idea and maximize the time I have by hammering out maximum mileage. All I had was about an hour after a late afternoon meeting so I took it to the gym and lost no time in putting the hamster wheel on 10.

I kept it on 10 (6 min mile pace) for 10 miles (total 60:15) and had enough time for another 1-mile cool down (total time 70:10). I had Little Axe (techno blues) on the iPod and was watching a close captioned Black History feature on Rosa Parks on the tv. Oddly, the two seemed to go well together. After 5 I couldn't concentrate on the tv anymore, and after 8 I couldn't take the music anymore. While the treadmill keeps up speed for you so you don't have to push, the feeling you have to make peace with is more one of hanging on. So I hung on for the last two miles, which seemed endless, and got in a good workout after all.

I continue in my conviction that either I will have a great Spring season or I will go down in flames with an injury. Right now I say 60-40. Paris still doesn't have me registered on their website, and they don't give any contact information for following up. If I don't hear from them soon, I'll have to get a phone number and sic my sister (who speaks fluent French and handles Parisians well) on them.

I already gave kudos to Craig for inspiring me to conceive of this somewhat reckless workout, I also need to acknowledge Marc, one of the managers at the ARC who probably won't see this, who was more tactful than he probably should have been in confronting me about running on the treadmill without a shirt. I only had a long sleeved shirt today and didn't feel like overheating more than I usually do when running indoors, so I decided to push limits a bit. Eventually Marc came up to me and, after I complained about having only a long sleeved shirt, offered to get me a short sleeved one from some past ARC promotion. A win-win.

So my legs feel beat up and my stomach feels very upset. I don't know if the latter is related to this unexpectedly hard workout but either way, my plans to go to the track tomorrow will get postponed, again, until Thursday and I will do something easier tomorrow.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Couldn't Stand the Weather

Runnin' through this business of life,
rarely time if I'm needed to
Ain't so funny when things ain't feelin' right,
then daddy's hand helps to see me through
Sweet as sugar love won't wash away,
rain or shine, it always here to stay
All these years you and I've spent together,
all this, we just couldn't stand the weather

SRV captures the sentiment here. It feels like a long time since I've last blogged.

Texas went well. Runningwise, I managed two workouts on the hotel treadmill on Thursday, which was memorable in that the fitness center was partitioned off in the same area as the pool/hot tub. Brilliant. . . not. Nothing like running in warm, humid, chlorinated air. 6 in the morning in just under 45 minutes, 4 in the afternoon in just under 30. After giving a talk on mental illness in prisons and talking about the like all day, the TV in the fitness room is on the National Geographic channel, with the show "Megastructures" talking about North Branch, a hi-tech supermax prison in Maryland. Tons of shots about how hardened and escape proof it is - a "new safety from, and hope for, our most dangerous criminals." I hope they are right, because most of those folks will be returning someday to a place near you.

Did not run on Friday.

Weather was beautiful in Texas until Friday afternoon, when heavy thunderstorms delayed my flight from Houston so I missed my connection in Dallas and got stranded there for the night. To make a long story short, didn't get into Philly until Saturday afternoon, at which point it was already starting to flurry, the start of what was supposed to be up to 12 inches of snow. As a sign of how crazy I am this season, as soon as I got home I laced up my shoes. It was getting dark with big wet flakes coming down when I set out to do 15 miles - heading down to the Art Museum, going a loop on the Drives, and heading back home. To make things interesting, I resolved to go the 8 mile section of the Drives at marathon pace. A wretched run while I was doing it, blinded and sucking snowflakes into my lungs, but I nailed the 8 in 47:20 (5:55 pace) and did the total run in 1:44:01. Marathon pace miles came easy until the last 1.5, when side stitches made me push it. Overall, I feel like I'm far ahead of where I was last year in my spring training. And getting a run in in those kind of conditions makes me feel like I'm really training for something. I celebrated with multiple slices of pepperoni pizza and a pint of Cherry Garcia ice cream.

We got about 8 inches today. Needless to say, the Shiver by the River 10k was not going to happen. Instead I slept in, fixed the family crepes for breakfast, we all went to church, and enjoyed a relaxed day. I suppose that's the kind of Sunday we could have every week if I didn't run. West Philly is at its prettiest when its covered in snow. We walked to church and saw people all bundled up returning home with the Sunday paper and coffee. Margaret, my neighbor and colleague, and her husband were going down 47th Street on X-country skis. A few other righteous folks were walking to church, as we were, going down the middle of the abandoned streets. Taking cars out of the equation really magnifies the urban village feel.

USP, to its credit, had the ARC open, so I jogged down there about an hour ago, a half mile (little more) in the slush to do another 4 miles on the hamster wheel (30:32) and returned home to make it a long five. On the way there I saw more people sledding in the Clark Park bowl than I remember ever seeing. The five miles (44:49) I got in today were strictly for the mileage, and gave me 51 for the week. This was about my goal for the cutback week, a goal I reached despite some significant adversity.

I'm behind again on updating my trek through the US, but it will have to wait an additional day. This week its back to the 70-80 mile grind, which will be a little more complicated by the snow. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Into the Light

Its starting to get light at about 6:30 now, I checked my watch just before we ran up the Lansdowne Ave hill. I can actually remember this better spatially, associating the hill with the sun on this loop. KJ actually said a week or so ago that the days get longer by a little at first and then the increases in daylight get larger as the season progresses.

Me, Erin and Deirdre this morning on the Acme loop. A cloudless, chilly but not cold, really beautiful morning to run. Erin bailed early so for the second half it was me and Deirdre, taking the run at a pace a bit quicker than usual but still conversational. Deirdre is a natural runner, and, although unfailingly gracious about running at a pace to accommodate others, has a brisk default pace that seems to come naturally to her but pushes me. That's exactly what I need and also leads me to realize that, were it not for the gender disparity in running, she'd be out of my league. 9.5 in 74:40.

I'm going to Dallas today for a few days for some research related stuff, and I don't know how much I'll get to run for the next two days. This was planned (otherwise I would have cut back mileage a week or two ago) but the older I get the more disruptive travelling gets. So we'll see if I have internet (and blogging) access, and whether I'll have anything to blog about.

On Sunday I think I'll race the Shiver by the River 10k up in Reading.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A Six Pack of Miles

From a Univ. of Pittsburgh School of Medicine website:


There are a number of criteria for alcohol dependency and abuse according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM IV). Such individuals may need daily intakes of large amounts of alcohol in order to function adequately. They may have a regular pattern of heavy drinking limited to weekends and may even have long periods of sobriety interspersed by binges of heavy drinking for weeks or months. These patterns are often associated with the following behaviors:

1. finding oneself unable to cut down or stop drinking

Substitute "mileage" for alcohol, and "running" for "drinking" and this starts to hit a bit close to home. Especially since this is a cutback week. Slept in this morning and went out at lunchtime when it was sunny and mid-30s. I had six in mind but as I got going I really really wanted to do more. I thought of how this workout, combined with yesterday's, will mess up my mileage totals and how it will impair my marathon prep. But then its, like, hey, that's why its called an easy week.

I kept myself to six, so I don't have a problem. Right? Started from USP and went out to the Art Museum and looped back around through Drexel and Penn (one college campus per every two miles). Time was 49:42. I tried consciously to keep the pace mellow and largely succeeded except on a few occasions when changing lights required some urban fartlek.

Back to the Pitt website. Skip down a few items and we come to:

4. occasional consumption of a fifth of spirits or its equivalent in beer or wine

I wonder what the equivalent in miles is here.

And then skip down a few more:

6. continuing to drink despite a serious physical disorder

But my hip has been feeling better. Maybe its linked to my cutting back mileage. Ya think?! With this in mind, the alert will be scaled back from "Code Yellow" to "Code Blue", and thus #6 doesn't apply to me.

Interesting thing, this internet. You can learn all kinds of stuff from it. I'll have to pass this Pitt URL on to someone who really has a problem with not running.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Giving In

Didn't have it this morning. Nothing in particular, but the legs weren't firing and the head wasn't fired up. Since this is a cutback week, instead of pushing my way through the funk I gave in - bidding Erin, KJ & Deirdre farewell as they continued down the Acme (34th/Lebanon) route and I hung a left on Belmont and headed home.

Were there any other groups besides ours that ran this morning with no mention of anything football-related?!

The meteorologist on one of the 11 o'clock news shows was crowing last night how we were finally getting winter weather. Although she admitted that temperatures would still be a few degrees above normal, she quickly shifted focus to how the wind chill would make up for that. Why do we have this need to make it seem colder than it is? Once again, it was very pleasant running weather, and the sun is rising closer to 6:30 now.

Call it 5.5 miles, didn't wear a watch today.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Sunday Running

Deirdre came by this morning at 6:30 and we headed west into a bright blue morning. The mildness continues to where, at this point even if it turns sharply cold it will still be a mild winter afterall. Kinda makes the groundhog superfluous. Six more weeks of this would be welcome.

For the third or fourth time, I tried to stretch this West Philly loop into 10 miles, got to 9.5 this morning. I'll keep trying, but the mileage (time was 72.27) put me at 83 for the week. A little less than the last few weeks, but still solid, especially considering that I did it on no double sessions. To paraphrase something I read on some blog, every 80 mile week is different. That has been the case here.

This morning's run, like most of yesterday's run, was fun. Its a good combination when running is both rigorous and enjoyable. A sunny morning, good company, and a really nice route, especially the bike path along Cobbs Creek, proved the key ingredients here. Its one of those days I'd have liked to run longer.

The plan is to cut back some this week, it is overdue.

Besides that, I'm getting some low-grade steady pain on my right hip, both during running and during the course of the rest of the day. It is not in a muscle area, and feels like a bruise on the iliac crest. Doing some poking around on the internet, I see that the condition that best describes it (but does not perfectly describe it) is "hip bursitis".

I say this cautiously because I know my mother reads this blog at times. At this point the pain is low grade, and I'm far from sure of this diagnosis. If, however, it is hip bursitis, it is universally described as an overuse injury best treated the usual way, rest, anti-inflammatories, etc. As I've said a few times, I'm likely due for an overuse injury, and hopefully cutting back this week, and maybe popping some ibuprofin, will keep it from getting worse. We'll see what happens.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

20 miler #1

It started out by myself at my house. Half a mile later I picked up Erin & KJ at Erin's house, 2 miles after that English Mike and Chemistry Steve joined us. Five strong we took it at a leisurely pace up Kelly Drive and out towards Manayunk, where we ran into John W., who joined us. We crossed the Green Lane Bridge in Manayunk and it was into Montgomery County, where I was schooled by Chemistry Steve on how to take those three Belmont Ave. hills. We ran them like hill repeats, one after another, and the legs were willing but my lungs were not as I watched him move out ahead of me. Then it was back over City Line Ave, where John and Mike headed back to the Art Museum via Ford Road. We kept going down Belmont and took a little detour into a country club where we conclusively determined that the fabled northeast end of Woodbine Road does not exist (gmap-pedometer lies). So we took Parkside to BrynMawr to Lebanon, and it was up another friggin hill. At that point Erin and KJ turned down 57th St. and it was down to the two Steves. Lebanon to Upland to Woodbine and over to 66th, down 66th with a few twists and turns to the north end of the Cobbs Creek bike path, and Steve and I interrupted our conversation of arena football and playing hockey in Siberia when Steve turned left down Pine and it was me, alone again, naturally. Lonesome, tired, and starting to get rained on. I kept going down the bike path, through the butterfly sanctuary until finally hitting Warrington, where I turned east and finished the last leg of the route.

Whew, 20 miles, first of the year. You could have saved yourself some reading and just linked to here. Now I tell you! I felt like Kerouac might have felt writing that, just flow of consciousness running through my brain down to my fingers and with a syncopated rhythm that might be free flowing jazz and just reliving the route, alive and running, good folks and good space and just breathing in being out there.

Also updated my journey through the US. Last time I wrote about this I was in Staunton, now I'm a ways past that and back into West Virginia. From the windiness of the roads I'm guessing that I'm humping it up and down alot of mountains, and from the lack of towns I would think its pretty wild where I am now. I currently greet you from Watoga State Park - looks like I'll be camping out here. I can't tell you where I'm heading from here other than that I'm going in a westwardly direction. In light of the recent news maybe I'll look and see if I'm around some coal mining history - bloody strikes, catastrophic cave ins, and the like. But that research will not happen today. Here is my route to date.

Tomorrow I run with Dierdre, who is back from her 3rd place finish at the High Mountain 10k in Jamaica. I try to avoid races with the word "mountain" in the title, but I'm looking forward to hearing her stories about it.

Friday, February 03, 2006

The Run Ain't Over. . .

till its in the blog.

Quick entry before I go to bed. Yes, I am determined to get a good night sleep tonight before getting in 20 in the morning.

Tony and I just spent quality father-son time together watching WWF Friday Night Smackdown and eating Ben & Jerry's. I think that's why one has kids, so one can do stuff like that and pass down values to the next generation.

One of those values would have to be procrastination. Don't read that like its a bad thing. Alarm beeped off at 5:30 this morning to the background of pouring rain. Hot dog! I rolled over and went back to sleep. Ran at lunch instead, after the weather changed to mid 60's and sunny. Absolutely beautiful out - drenched my short-sleeved shirt in sweat. Was so pumped that I started the MLK miles at marathon pace (6:00) and finished at tempo pace (5:45) - 4 miles in 23:33. Did the original (i.e., long) BN loop - 13.5 miles in 1:39:28.

Follow up on yesterday. I wrote in yesterdays post that I spent most of the day in Harrisburg to attend a hearing to have Tyrone Werts' life sentence commuted. I won't go into the details, although the hearing was one of the most dramatic events I've witnessed. Suffice to say that Tyrone's case was presented such that he came across as the ideal candidate for commutation, which he indeed is. If one voted against his case it would not be against the man, it would be for the principle of "life means life." The Pardons and Commutations Board, consisting of the Lieutenant Governor, the Attorney General, a victims rights advocate, and a psychologist, listened politely, asked an occasional question and then retired to another room to presumably deliberate. After 20 or 30 tense minutes they came back out, and proceeded to vote to hold the case "under advisement."

"Under advisement"?! WTF? Everyone was stunned, as no one was sure what that meant. No reasons or explanations were given. It means that Tyrone's case will be decided at a later, unspecified date. I guess that is better than rejecting his application, but this represents politicians at their worst - equivocating instead of making the tough decision. And so the process continues. Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

This Is Good as It Gets. . .

Take the title with a dollop of sarcasm.

Maricela had this song playing this morning while I was dragging my sorry butt out of bed. 6:30 and already too late to put in the 13 miles I wanted to do this morning. After getting to bed late last night/this morning I was still bargaining with myself about running at all this morning. All to the tune of this sappy little ballad by former Men At Work frontman Colin Hay, to whom Maricela has inexplicably taken a liking.

Anyway, good thing I only did 9 this morning, as I didn't have it. Took me a mile and a half just to take my eyes off the sidewalk. Mostly 8.5-9 minute pace miles. Columbia Bridge loop in 78:43. There was a pretty sunrise over Center City, however, and I was sufficiently asleep to where large chunks of the run would go by as I was off in some parallel universe, so that made the run go a bit quicker.

I'm going up to Harrisburg today to attend a commutation hearing for Tyrone Werts, one of the guys in the "think tank" group that I participate in every Wednesday evening at Graterford prison. For those of you who don't know, Pennsylvania takes a perverse pride in saying that "Life means life" and there are no paroles for life sentences. Tyrone is the embodiment of why that is absurd. If there is anyone who has "rehabilitated" it is Tyrone, who is one of the more remarkable people I've met either inside or out. I don't want to sound bleeding heart about this, and instead of going into detail about this I'll link to this article and also this article, which was written by a Graterford group called Lifers Inc. and Tyrone has been the principle force behind this initiative.

Anyway, I'm going to Harrisburg to lend what little support I can and watch the hearing. If you get a chance, send some positive energy in his direction.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Writers Blah

I've been feeling uninspired writing entries for the last few days. I guess that should be a warning to quit reading about now, but I'm not in this for the ratings. Don't know what it is, life is a bit more hectic than usual, but its been a lot worse, training is going fine. . . I just don't see how what I write would be particularly interesting to anyone lately. I guess that means that I'm not entertaining myself while writing this. No spark to take things beyond just the days run.

I know I'll get over this, but in the meantime I'll keep things short.

Another Acme loop encompassing 34th St. and Lebanon Ave (for all of you not in the know, thats LE-ban-nin, as in the city in central PA, not Le-BAH-non in the mid-east) . Weather, as Ian so eloquently dwells on, is still warm. Company is still good, and the mileage is still 9.5 miles, this time a wee bit faster in 81:33 although the traffic seemed to tie us up more.

Happy February.