Seebo's Run

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

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Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Friday, March 31, 2006

It's a Boy

KJ and Christine's long awaited baby finally arrived. It's a 9+ pound boy and all are doing well. That is about all the information I have. Not surprisingly, KJ did not join us to run this morning.

Compared to that, anything else I have to write this morning is pretty damn insignificant.

But I'll give a quick rundown of the last few days anyway, not that it is of much interest. Denver was enjoyable but my hosts had a really full schedule packed for me, so it was more a matter of getting workouts in than getting much in the way of quality. Pat showed me how to get to the Cherry Creek from my hotel, which had good running paths going alongside it, and that let me see some slices of the city and avoid the hotel treadmill on both Tuesday (7.5 miles; 59:47) and Wednesday (5 miles; 41:14) mornings.

This is the second straight time traveling where I've had a harder time getting runs in after returning home than I did while on the road. A lesson to be learned here. Overslept yesterday and never got a workout in. Today got in eight with Deirdre and Erin. Weather is finally springlike and everything is blooming.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Altitude Training

Here is my secret weapon for pr'ing in Paris. I'm heading out to Denver for the next few days.

In that altitude, I can taper and increase my blood's oxygen carrying capacity at the same time. Building endurance the easy way.

Actually, my trip there is part of a project I'm working on with the City of Denver in setting up an evaluation of their Ten Year Plan to end homelessness. A friend of mine commented on how Soviet that sounds, but Denver has been really enthusiastic and innovative in their approach to this, and its been fun working with them.

Ran about eight this morning. We took a somewhat mutated variation of the Acme loop that, to get the full mileage out of it, required heading right out to Cobbs Creek at about mile 7.5 where bearing left would have me home in a half mile. Deirdre and KJ went right, Erin and I went left. Taper has got to be good for something I thought. Forgot to stop my watch so I lost the time.

Catch y'all on Thursday.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Race for Humanity 5k

This makes my fourth consecutive weekend racing, people will soon start mistaking me for the Anglocellerator if I keep this up.

The only reason this race got onto my schedule was that it was put on by some student organizations at USP, where I work, and I felt obligated to school any undergrads who perhaps needed some respect for their elders. Besides, the start was a half mile from my house and the course, a double loop, passed within a half block of my house (twice). Cindy promised a beer stop, but that never materialized.

I really didn't need to do another 5k this weekend, so I tacked on 9 miles beforehandand set out to race the 5k on tired legs. Thus came a pre-race Columbia Bridge loop with the middle miles at a 6:45ish clip. Kevin F. stayed over last night to watch basketball and ran the loop with me, and we ran into Deirdre at about a half mile into the run and she paced us for about half of the run.

The race had a bigger turnout than I expected. Between neighborhood folks, work folks, and running folks, I was a popular guy. Race plan was to hang with the leaders and win with as little effort as possible.

Gun went off. After the rabbits you get at any 5k race (including KJ, who'd end up PR'ing at 19:15) fell back, I was third behind Ian and a USP guy I didn't know. Ian said before the race that his plan was to tuck in behind me so he wouldn't get lost. He should have stuck to his plan, because he took a wrong turn and took #2 with him, and suddenly I was in the lead. I was running easy enough to sneak a look behind me, and Ian had caught back up to 2nd, about 10 meters behind me. I slowed down a bit to run with him. Nick, the best runner on the USP mens XC team, was about 20 meters behind and Kevin F. was a bit behind Nick in fourth.

The rest of the race went according to plan. I ran with Ian at a little below tempo pace, with a comfortable lead over everyone else. Around the second loop we started lapping the walkers, and thanked the cops as they dealt with irate motorists stopped at intersections (yes, this is West Philly). I said hi to neighbors I knew along the way. I yapped at Ian and he didn't yap back, so I knew he was the one in worse shape and I yapped some more at him to make sure he knew this too. We ran past Erin's house and she, Deirdre and Christine were out cheering. Cindy was yelling at us out on Woodland. Some guy was overheard pointing out this was the "5k marathon" that was going on this morning. At about 3 miles Ian and I decided this wasn't the race to continue our rivalry, so we joined hands (a bit too early for Ian's taste) and crossed the finish line together. Somehow the race organizer decided I finished in 17:23.3 and Ian finished in 17:23.6, but it was a tie.

This finish made me look good on my home turf. We posed with Phil Gerbino, USP's President, who chose this time to break the news to me that he'd approved my program to get additional faculty hires (this was better news than winning the race). Ian and I split the victor's spoils, which was donated from some cosmetics store. Since he smelled worse than I, he got the Donald Trump cologne, and since I was dirtier than he, I got the set of Aramis bath soaps.

After the race we went over to KJ's, where he stood on his newly-minted 19 minute legs and cooked us omelettes while the rest of us hung in the living room and idly gossiped. My only regret for the day was that I put alot less effort into the morning than I thought I would. The nine miles took nothing out of my legs, and (not to sound flip) I felt at about 75% effort when I finished the race.

This bodes well for the ongoing taper.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Hammering on Tired Legs

Just Erin and me this morning. We were tired of Acme loop so we went up Locust St. to Cobbs Creek and back down Woodland. Not exactly a new route but less travelled than Acme, which is getting stale. Its time we did some more exploring.

Pace was easy, as is befitting a Friday morning. I fully debriefed to Erin all my court stuff from the last three days, something I can do in an extended run because I didn't have to be conscious of being long-winded, we were stuck running for that time anyway. It took us through about half the run and after we moved on to other topics I realized it was something I needed to do. A long 9.5 miles in 81:45.

Tomorrow is the "Run for Humanity" as USP, which I'll race because the course passes a half block from my house and I need to run faster than the undergrads to further stave off my pending midlife crisis. KJ, Ian and Kevin F said they'd be out there as well, so my vision is to have all of us cross the finish line together in a 4-way tie for first place. We'll see how far from reality that actually becomes. But you get the not-so-serious mood with which I'm approaching this race. I'll also probably get in about 9 or 10 miles before the race as I want to make this my hard workout for the weekend and get some practice hammering on tired legs.

Hammering on tired legs - the phrase resonates something.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


This thought came to me yesterday, while I was cycling to the Courthouse. Why is driving considered so convenient? Not only can I get to downtown faster by bike and get a way better (and free) parking spot, but I'm also getting a workout in while I travel. How could a car be more convenient than that? We as a society criticize ourselves for being obsessed over convenience; maybe we just need to rethink what convenience really is.

I did some convenience running today. I had to drop off the car in the shop this morning for some steering wheel problems that are a repeat of problems we had in December (another story). So instead of arranging the usual rigamarole with transportation after the dropoff, I just started my workout from the dealer, which is out near the airport. This was, conservatively, five miles from Franklin Field, and when I got there I did 4 reps of 1600 meters.

My legs felt dead on the run over so I told myself I'd be happy with anything under 5:40. Ended up hitting 5:36; 5:33; 5:32 & 5:36 (w/ 200 m recoveries) which gave me a good workout but didn't take me close to the edge. Considering how close I'm getting to Paris, this was a good balance between full effort and tapering.

My jury duty is over, we put a man in prison. It was a low-level drug dealing case where the cops only had minimal evidence to support the DA's case. Really a good example of justice at its most banal. We deliberated for awhile and finally decided that even though we weren't handed much, it was enough for a guilty verdict. While I'm confident we made the correct call, its a shitty feeling to send someone up the river. This feeling became all the more acute when, as is my Wednesday custom, I went up to Graterford yesterday evening.

For something lighter, Ian has one of the best and funniest blog entries I've seen anywhere here, where he goes into a standup routine with a cadence that calls to mind Rodney Dangerfield - were anybody ever to shout "Run, Forrest Run" to him. My favorite line is "When you show up late to practice [for] a real sport your punishment is my sport."

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Comfort Clothes

Usual 9.5 mile Acme loop in 74:25. It only took me 20 more seconds to run 11 yesterday. Taper means I don't even have to think about whether I'm doing another workout today.

I felt yesterday's run still embedded in my legs this morning. Me, Deirdre and KJ. I'd say Deirdre got us through the run at least five minutes faster than were she not there. She gave us an extended first person account of the dark side of Philly ward politics as she hummed along, and I pushed to stay with her and listen, overriding my subconscious tendency to fall back.

Weather remains chilly sunny and windy, I'm ready for the progression towards Spring to get out of this rut. I wore a baggy sweatshirt, gloves, and a way-cool new USATF ski hat I got as shwag last week. Leave it to a nasty March morning to want more comfort than usual, after making it through the bowels of January and February with the approach that I will underdress, suck it up for the first mile and then running comfortably for the rest of the run. Sure enough, I peeled off and carried several articles of clothing over the last miles, but today I didn't mind.

Both Deirdre and KJ asked alot of questions about Paris, and I realize that I'm behind on my geeking out about all things Paris marathon. Also in converting miles to km's. Also got some good comments/emails recently on training, etc. which is appreciated.

Today its back to court to deliberate. Trial should be over today.

Usual 9.5 mile Acme loop in 74:25. It only took me 20 more seconds to run 11 yesterday.

I felt yesterday's run still embedded in my legs this morning. Me, Deirdre and KJ. I'd say Deirdre got us through the run at least five minutes faster than were she not there. She gave us all an extended first person account of the dark side of Philly ward politics as she hummed along, and I pushed to stay with her and listen, overriding my subconscious tendency to fall back.

Weather remains chilly sunny and windy, I'm ready for the next installment towards Spring. I wore a baggy sweatshirt, gloves, and a way-cool new USATF ski hat I got as shwag last week, because it was one of those mornings where I wanted that comfort more than usual. In the bowels of January I will underdress, suck it up for the first mile and then running comfortably for the rest of the run. But leave it to a nasty March day to overdress and then carry back the extra clothes over the last miles.

BOth Deirdre and KJ asked alot of questions about Paris, and I realize that I'm behind on my geeking out about all things Paris marathon. Also in converting miles to km's. Also got some good comments/emails recently on training, etc. which is appreciated.

Today its back to court to deliberate. Trial should be over today.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Jury's Out (Running)

Less than three weeks to go until Paris. I wanted to run this week hard, in part to make up for my difficulties getting regular workouts in these last few weeks and in part because I've always been ambivalent about three week tapers. I wrote last week of my intentions to do so and Mike M., who always has sound training advice and who I ran into at the Adrenaline 5k, almost begged me to ease off this week. Bill K. concurred and I cringed seeing Paul H. go sub-19 although he had bad plantar fascitis problems and is running Boston in a few weeks.

So perhaps it was my subconscious at work as the alarm mysteriously did not get set yesterday morning. During the course of seeing when I could squeeze in a workout I came to a compromise. Put in some hard workouts but ease back on mileage. More mileage at this point is not going to do me much good. The hay is in the barn, as I like to say. I don't know how much running a few hard days, revving the engine as Greg McMillan puts it, will help me out physically but I still need to sharpen my mental acuity until I'm satisfied that I'm ready for the Champs d'Elysees.

So I rested yesterday, which I imagine did me some good after a hard weekend, and I ran the 11 mile Strawberry Mansion Bridge loop hard this morning. Hard meaning constantly pushing the pace and running the middle 3.5 miles at just the slow edge of marathon pace in 21:18. Hard meaning the 11 went down in 74:45. And hard meaning it was another cold uncomfortable March morning, with the wind blowing up MLK and the traffic seeming to be timed to throw me off rhythm.

I've got jury duty today. I went in yesterday and they actually picked me to sit on a case. This is the first time that has ever happened. Usually they ask me what I do and I tell them I'm a sociologist and the prosecutor politely strikes me from the pool. But yesterday was different for some reason. Maybe I'm oozing less radicality these days, maybe its because my hair is short. Anyway, I'm assigned to a criminal case thats expected to last two days, so I've had to rearrange my other commitments over today and tomorrow. I imagine I'll write about it a bit after its over.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Philly’s Better When You Sleep Over (20 Miler #4)

That, without the parentheses, was a marketing slogan a few years back. Last night Cindy and I took the trolley to Center City and stayed overnight at the Crowne Plaza hotel, cashing in on a certificate I had won in last year’s Parkway Run. We did it as a belated anniversary celebration.

This morning, after we finished our complementary breakfast (I limited myself to a bagel & cream cheese and OJ), I went out for a 20 miler and Cindy went to Toppers Spa for a pedicure. We agreed to meet 2 and a half hours later, when we were both scheduled for massages.

The loop was a variation of my primary 20-mile loop, adapted for my start today at 18th and Market and going up to Manayunk, over to Cobbs Creek, down to Warrington Ave and back to Toppers on 19th and Sansom. The run proved to have generous helpings of the essential components of a challenging long run: plodding into the maws of a whipping Kelly Drive headwind; slogging up the northern Belmont Ave. hills; and some close to marathon pace effort for the last eight or so miles.

For the first half of this run I tried not to think about what lie waiting for me after the run. However, as I got to Overbrook I started to doubt whether or not I’d make it to the spa on time and it became time to let images of supple fingers kneading sore muscles take over. Involuntarily I started picking up the pace (credit also perhaps to a GU taken ten minutes earlier) and high tailing over the rest of the loop. It was impossible to gauge pace along this stretch, and in many places the street crossings and rolling hills precluded a steady effort. However, I rounded the corner of 19th and Walnut exactly 2 hours, 30 minutes and 58 seconds after I started. Not bad timing.

I won’t have time this evening to gmap it, but it would easily be a 20 mile effort.

Suffice to say that the massage was well worth putting the hammer down. I told the masseuse to just work the calves; if she got to the upper legs – great; and not to worry about anything beyond that. So now I have this feeling I can only compare to that after a teeth cleaning, where I have wonderfully fresh legs that I don’t want to sully with any further running. Ever.

PS – Here are results from yesterdays Adrenaline 5k. How many other 5k’s can a 16:25 time only get me 37th place?!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Adrenaline 5k

As in a favorite phrase me and a buddy had in college: "Thats not adrenaline running down my leg!"

Race was out in Haddonfield, a leafy Jersey suburb. Normally I don't run 5k's that take more time to drive to than I will spend running, but it is on the Mid-Atlantic USATF Grand Prix circuit and alot of the PAC runners were doing other races. So I figure I'd represent and get in another fast workout.

This race used to be the Bancroft 5k and has traditionally been a race where all the local elite show up. Last year running a 16 flat would have gotten you 19th place; and a 17 flat would have gotten you 44th place. Masters prize money goes three deep, but the 3rd masters ran a 16:47 last year. I love these kinds of races.

The gun goes off and I'm immediately in a pace that's over my head. That is, however, my plan, as I want to run a 1st mile split that scares me and try to hang on. I have this primal fear of crashing, and today I'm telling myself its okay if I go out too hard. My cognitive mind gets this and I keep going hard, but it doesn't sink in, as I'm fighting off waves of anxiety well beyond the first half mile when they usually lift. And all this time I'm getting passed by at least 10 or 20 people, making me wonder if I'm going fast enough.

Mile 1 passes in 5:07 and I smile. Yes, that split scares me. That settles me down and I look who's around me. The course is now on tree-lined old-school suburban streets and seems to go perpetually on a slight downhill. There must be at least 30 people ahead of me and who knows how many behind me. I see a South Jersey AC singlet a few places up and target this minion of the evil empire of the Grand Prix circuit. I go past him and then he surges back ahead of me, taking on my challenge. We do this a few more times and then he fades.

Mile 2 split is 5:28, a bit slower but still chugging. This race is great, at any point you have several people within striking distance ahead of you and several people looking to overtake you at your back. Over the last mile I pass maybe 5 or 7 people and maybe 1 or 2 pass me - definitely a net gain. And then its what I love and hate about this distance, I'm just getting into the race and the finish line looms ahead. Mile 3 is back down to 5:15 and I cross the finish line in 16:25.

This is my fastest time ever on a certified 5k course, and fastest time on any course since 2003. I'm surprised and thrilled that I'm in this kind of 5k shape, and even more so after I see that it gets me a payday as 3rd male Master. $50 - not bad for 16 minutes work.

Ran another 5.5 miles after I got home, ostensibly to get some more mileage in but also because it is just a beautiful day to run. Took it slow down to Cobbs Creek and did something I should do more often - just basked in the exuberence of going out there and running!

Friday, March 17, 2006

The Other Kind

Got back from the usual Acme Loop 9.5 miles with KJ and Erin a little while ago. Weather's a bit chilly and the run went a bit slow (81:48) but all is well. We were quieter than usual this morning for some reason.

Neck pain is virtually gone and swelling is going down slowly. This finally feels over.

Plan is to put in another four on the treadmill around lunch. This is not so much for the added physical conditioning, which is probably negligible, but for the continued mental sharpening, so that, in the words of Steve Earle, I can get. . .

Back out on the road again. Turn this beast into the wind. I'm the other kind.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

How Seebo Gets His Mojo Working

Yesterday was the low point of the year, running-wise, for me. Just felt bad about things.

But it helps to write things down, and after yesterday's entry I realized I needed to get back to where I feel like I'm training - hard. I need to get my mojo back, so to speak.

The best way I know how to do that is to head to the track. So as an appetizer I ran a 4 mile Franklin Field loop this morning - easy in 33:50. I didn't even change out of my shorts and worked from home (my email at work is screwed up; so its almost pointless going into the office) in the morning. Then I headed back down to Franklin Field, this time in earnest, for a track workout at lunch.

I wanted to do something different (although I've been on the track so little this year that anything would be different), so I decided to do reps of 400 meters with 200m recovery. I don't remember the last time I did those, and had no idea what to shoot for. But competitiveness took care of that, Kevin F. on his 3/14 blog entry writes about doing 10 400's, hitting 8 of them in under 70 seconds. That seemed about right, and I'd do at least ten and, to show him up, shoot for up to 20 of them.

I had no idea how fast I was going for the first rep, and hit it in 71 seconds. Second time around was 73 seconds and I was sucking air. No way I was going to get these pups under 70. So when the going gets tough, the tough lower their standards. I decided to shoot for hitting them in under 75 seconds. This proved much more realistic, as reps 3-10 went in: 74; 75; 73; 73; 75; 75; 75 & 76. I wanted to do 20, but didn't see myself hitting them under 75. So I decided to go up to 800s (w/ 400m recovery), shooting for a 2:40 goal time. Couldn't quite get there, did 2:41; 2:41; 2:41 and 2:45. Some time over the course of this last rep I felt done. But to make things hard on myself I went back down to 400s (200m rec) for the last two laps. 76 for the first one and 79 for the second. This made it 20 laps, but now I was really done.

If you skipped over that last paragraph, suffice to say that this was an important workout. From a performance perspective it was so-so, but from the push myself to the brink of my fitness perspective it was, well it was good to be back. I'm now thinking again like I was a few weeks ago. Plan is to do easy miles in double sessions tomorrow; more double sessions, with one of them the Adrenaline 5k on Saturday; and then a long run with some marathon pace miles on Sunday. I'll then train hard for another week and shorten my taper, thinking that I borrowed a taper week last week.

If all that goes as planned, I should have me a good head of steam going into Paris.

And as for Kevin, well, suffice to say I couldn't see getting 10 400s in under 70, or even 8 of 10. So, by that token, Kevin (and I don't say this tauntingly), you should be able to whoop on me in a 5k.

Just a goal that you may want to set. But don't think it will come easy.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Five Week Taper

That's what my Spring marathon training has boiled down to. Who knows, maybe I'm onto something.

Neck problem is still there. Monday night my throat started getting sore and eating became painful enough to where my diet was limited to split pea soup, cream of wheat, and yogurt. This morning the neck feels a little better, the first time in the last two weeks I can say this, but I don't know if this means much. I saw my dentist yesterday, who said my teeth look great, and I see my doctor again this afternoon. Anyway, I didn't see any reason to run hard with a sore throat yesterday and then didn't get to run at all.

So I am in a position where I have trained hard for 2+ months and now have been laid low for the last two weeks, two crucial weeks in the training cycle. I suppose I'm not the first to have had this happen, and I don't want to cry about it as much as get out of the mental malaise this has put me in, where I've lost all the intensity that I've been able to build up. While physically its questionable that I'll be able to do more than maintain my current fitness level, which is enough to at least theoretically reduce my marathon PR, I'm going to need to do something to get back at least enough mental intensity to have the drive to do this.

I just don't feel that right now, and think that first I need to turn a corner on this @#$%^ neck thing. Even if the antibiotics weren't working (which they are not), you'd figure that the problem should have gone away by itself by now.

All this as a preface to an uninspired 8.5 mile run this morning. We took the usual Acme route but did the 40th St/Lebanon version which shortened it a bit. Erin suggested it and I'm not sure exactly why, but the usual drive for recouping that extra mile just isn't there. I thought about getting another session in today, but between the doctor's appt. and going to prison tonight, that's not going to work either.

The run, anyway, was like old times when Club WestPhilly was just me and Erin. Conversation was good, if overly pointy headed. Windy and cold, typical nasty late Winter day.

Weather to match my mood.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Old Man Walking

Me, KJ and Erin all made it out this morning, despite all of us having run Cesar Rodney yesterday. KJ pr'd big time, and broke 1:30 yesterday, while Erin paced Marita, who surprisingly did not have a good day. So most of our conversation was reliving yesterday's race.

We ran on the Acme loop until 52nd Street and Parkside, where I suggested we just go home and skip the hilly part of the loop. There really wasn't any point in flogging a pair of dead legs this morning, and the other two agreed. I don't want to measure out our loop, so I'm guessing a conservative 6.5 in 58:58.

Thinking more on yesterdays race, I see it puts me in about 2:40 marathon shape, meaning that I'm poised to potentially do well in Paris. Things are, of course never that linear. But it gives me a positive outlook. This is my last hard week and then its taper time. That, and the need to get regular again after last week's debacle, were the only reasons why I was out there this morning.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Cesar Rodney Half Marathon

If you've been following this blog, you'll know that this hasn't been the best of weeks for me, and as the week progressed there was some uncertainty as to whether or not I'd run this race. But the swollen lymph node in my neck, although it isn't getting any better, doesn't seem to be related much to whether or not I run.

After a trial run yesterday of 8.5 miles around the Drives I decided that, although the pounding of the running didn't make my throat feel great, it was definitely bearable. I even went out and ran an additional two that afternoon with Maricela, who has been running in gym class and decided she likes running. I asked her if she wanted to run a little bit (no pressure) yesterday afternoon and she said yes, so we did two loops around Woodlands Cemetery. Yesterday was such a nice day, it was hard not to get excited at the prospect of racing.

Marita arranged a dinner for all the Philly Runners who were running CR last night at Marra's Restaurant, a South Philly institution, and I enjoyed the company (25+ folks) though I had alot of difficulty with the food as it is very painful right now for me to chew. But there were about 15 Philly Runners who were going to race today, and the camraderie further amped the excitement for the race.

But today started with rain against the bedroom windows, a rain that got more intense as Cindy, Kevin F. and I drove down to Wilmington. Rain cleared up just as the race was to start, and as we were running late (sic) we didn't have much time to get wet before lining up to go. Cannon went off and the racehorses started slow enough to where I was in the lead pack for the first downhill mile (5:25) before I eased back and ran with Kevin F. in mile 2 (5:34) and got my feet soaked running through a puddle. I thought Kevin will either do really well or die, and he faded back a bit during mile 3 and Tom Haxton, the eventual winner, passed me at some point during this mile. I was now in 7th, on my own, and, with a 5:52 split, slowing down a bit more than I wanted. Miles 4 & 5, at 5:47 and 5:46, were better but not at PR pace.

The next two miles represent the crucible of this race, a steady uphill slog. I tried to maintain a steady effort and let myself slow down a little, but at 6:08 and 6:07 I ended up slowing down considerably more than I wanted without even realizing it. I crested the hill, passing a little observation tower, and was surprised that nobody had passed me. But I heard footsteps coming. At around the 8-mile mark (5:52) the footsteps became a shadow, and I recognized that shadow to be Scott Purcell. I had run neck and neck against Scott in the Delaware Distance Classic 15k a year and a half ago, a race where he set the pace and gave the impression he was biding his time before he kicked, and when he did he beat me by about 10 seconds.

Given this memory and where my confidence was after those slower miles, had he thrown in a surge at this point I likely would not have responded. But he kept behind me and let me pace, and I resolved I would stay with him up through mile 9 (5:50) and then through mile 10 (5:51). This stretch was flatter and included the course turnaround just before mile 9, which meant we doubled back on the runners behind us and all the folks I dined with last night, the PAC Track Club folks I run with, and various other folks I know from running way too many local races each sacrificed a few breaths to cheer me. I usually don't respond much to that kind of support, but today, with this guy on my ass, it really gave me a boost.

My mile 10 split was 58:16. A PR was definitely out of reach, but at this point I had my hands full just hanging on to seventh place. The footsteps finally moved to overtake me and to my surprise it was not Scott anymore, but a runner I didn't know in a red singlet. Red singlet's surge was just that, only a surge, and I held on. From mile 10 to about a quarter mile before the finish the course doubles back on itself and the tortuous uphill stretch now becomes a screaming downhill. I'm much more confident on the downhill, so when red singlet tried a few more surges I wouldn't let myself be shaken. But neither would he as I bombed down the winding hills. It would come down to that final uphill stretch.

The last quarter mile of this course is a 4 or 5% uphill grade that is brutal to duel somebody on. Last year Ian whipped me soundly here and I was again nervous about my ability to stave off red singlet. But we careened around the hairpin turn and headed uphill, and I kept pushing and the footsteps faded. That moment of clinching a close race in the final stretch always feels unreal, and I continued to go fast enough to where my legs almost buckled a few times. Now the race was against the clock at the finish line, which was ticking towards 1:16. I tried, and I thought I made it in in 1:15:59 but my official gun time was 1:16:00.

However, my chip time was 1:15:57, so I'll use that as my time, along with seventh place, and first masters finisher. I had hoped for a better time, but I thoroughly enjoyed the competition (three guys finished within the next 20 seconds after me). The team I was running on, The Evil Killer Bunnies of Death 2 - Eviller and Killerer, won the team competition (props to Kevin F., Ian, Bear, Goat, and Jim) and with Kevin F. and Jeff H. both finishing at 1:18 (PR for Kevin F!) PACTC should do okay today in the Mid Atlantic ATF team Grand Prix competition. The Philly Runner's exploits can be followed as we all rehash here and I'm sure Dave will do a write up for the PACTC perspective here and Ian, Rachel(pr'd!), John W (pr'd!), Kevin F. (pr'd!) and Chad all ran it and all have blogs I just linked to where you can read more about it.

The schwag included a sweatshirt for first masters runner, which I gave to Cindy (who loves new fleecy sweatshirts), who as usual was amazingly supportive with cheering and logistics today. The medal I got for TEKBOD2 - EAK's finish had flashing light diodes on it and was cool enough so that Tony wore it around his neck all day. I'm happy to share what little booty I gain, as tokens to express that I could not do races like this without them.

Friday, March 10, 2006


Gland is still swollen, and the rest of my body is starting to follow suit. Gained 6 pounds since Sunday.

I've not run since then, after lymph nodes on the left side of my neck started swelling and getting painful. Despite being put on a course of antibiotics, laying off of running, and getting lots of sleep, this damn lump is still hanging around. Last time I wrote I thought this was due to overtraining, but I'm starting to think not. But after laying off running didn't work, I went out to run this morning, but the bumping aggravated my neck enough to where I made it to Erin's house and decided to exercise restraint (a bad KJ joke) and turn back. I saw the doctor again later today and he put me on a different antibiotic. If that doesn't do it then it amps up to going in for various tests. Don't worry, Mom, the onset and behavior of this thing is, fortunately, nothing like what it would be if it were cancerous.

That leaves the question of Sunday's race. Running it may be painful, but it doesn't seem like doing so will make my neck any worse. So at this point, provided things don't get worse, I'm inclined to go run it. Plan is run an easy eight or so tomorrow and see how I hold up. If that works out okay, then I'll go ahead and run on Sunday. I really want to run this race, and am willing to put up with some pain if I have to. Hell, its a half marathon, there's going to be pain regardless. And who knows, someday this thing may actually get better.

Provided I run, how will this layoff affect me? Will I be stale or rejuvenated? Will my mojo still be sticking around despite the paucity of miles? PR or bust? Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

90 Miles - The Dark Side

Took a sick day today. I have a swollen gland on the side of my throat that is big enough to be clearly visible and painful enough to interfere with swallowing. So I did something even rarer than take a day off. . . see the doctor.

Doctor said it was "lymphoditis" or some variant of that word which is a fancy way of saying my lymph nodes were swollen. Duh. He asked me all sorts of questions like whether I was sexually active, and his face lit up when I said I was and was disappointed again when I said only with my wife. He then did what baffled doctors typically do: ordered tests (a throat culture and a blood test) and gave me a prescription for an antibiotic.

I went on the internet this evening and realized I could have saved myself some money. Or at least given him some info about this condition. Googling "swollen lymph node" and "running" comes up with a whole bunch of web sites that list the former as a classic symptom of overtraining involving the latter. Go figure. One of the more detailed sites is here. Interestingly, except for constant thirst (my throat feels parched right now) I don't have any of the other multitude of physiological or psychological symptoms that are listed. So I have to conclude this is a mild case.

But I still will lay off running for a few days. At least for today again and, depending on how the gland does, I may run easy on Wednesday. As a silver lining, I should be well-tapered for Cesar Rodney on Sunday. In hitting 90 last week, it looks like I ran a little over the edge.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

NE Roadrunners 10k

Northeast Roadrunners Winter 10k was today. I think it should be renamed, as this race brings connotations that Spring is here, rather than of it still officially being winter. Nonetheless, it was sunny, brisk and there was, like yesterday, a sharp wind blowing about the river.

Looking around at the start, there was no-one I recognized that would give me competition. There were maybe 200 runners, and upon two voice commands we were sent off down the bike path along Kelly Drive – 3.1 miles out and 3.1 back – sharing the course with the cyclists, walkers, rollerbladers etc. who usually are on the path on a Sunday morning.

Some guy I didn’t recognize surged to the front. I tucked in behind him and Kevin F. followed me, and we were off on a pace I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold. Lead Guy seemed to be keeping this pace easily, but I made an effort to stick with him in case he was over his head. Kind of like poker where you stay in with someone just in case he is bluffing. Kevin fell back at about the half mile mark (the bike path is marked every quarter mile) and I started losing Lead Guy a little before the mile mark, which passed by in 5:26. By this time we were battling the fierce headwind that Kelly Drive is infamous for at this time of year, a headwind that inexplicably will come at you no matter which direction you run in. The combination of the wind and a certain let down of losing Lead Guy slowed me down over the next two miles: 5:53 and 5:39. Lead Guy kept his lead, about 100 meters, but wasn’t working to extend it either.

The next split was the 0.2 in 1:15, which included the turnaround (5k in 17:31), and gave me an opportunity to see that third place was about 200 meters behind me, a good cushion but one that I was not comfortable with. So I picked up the pace to make sure I would not get reeled in and to try to finish under 35 minutes, which for some reason seemed important to me. This was aided by the wind, which for the most part was indeed a tailwind. Splits on the way back were 5:29; 5:29; and 5:25 – lonely and uneventful.

I came in second overall in 34:36. One second slower than when I last ran this race in 2004. About 30 seconds behind #1, a non-gregarious guy named Jeremy Adler who, upon googling his name, ran alot faster at USATF X-C Nationals a few weeks ago than he ran today, and almost two minutes ahead of the #3 guy.

I try hard not to read too much into this race, which was not run under the best of conditions and came a day after running 22 miles. A part of me hoped that all the mileage I’d been racking up would somehow propel me into doing an effortless sub 34 time, but this was not the case. More realistically, it shows that I am in 1:15 shape for the Cesar Rodney half-marathon next Sunday, and has me in realistic striking distance to PR or even get into the 1:14s. Other than that it was a good opportunity to stretch my legs.

And finally, the race, along with the 4 mile run to the race and the 2 mile post-race cooldown, pushed my weekly mileage to 91. The first time in my life that I had a 90 mile week. And it just happened, it wasn’t something I set out to do. Plan for this week is to go for easy mileage tomorrow, a track workout on Tuesday, and then start a mini-taper for Sunday’s race.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

20 Miler #3

Long and slow. Started out with Erin & KJ, picked up Chemistry Steve, John W & Jim at the Art Museum, went up Kelly Drive and lost Erin & KJ when they turned off on SM Bridge, went up to Manayunk over the river and up the hills on Belmont, the other three guys turned left on Ford Road and then I was alone for the rest of the run.

I followed what has been my staple long run sofar this year, going out to Cobbs Creek and south, this time a bit farther to Woodland Ave, and then home. This clocks in at 22.5, about the longest I'll ever go in a workout. 3:07:58.

No matter what you read about long slow distance (lsd) runs, its hard to count them as a hard workout. This trek averaged an 8.5 minute pace, which was what I wanted, easy so I could get some miles in AND recover some. Have my cake and eat it, so to speak. It was partly guilt from that that led me to take the run down to Woodland and make it longer. But it was also due to my feeling good. Usually on the ass end of a long run I'm counting down the last miles block by block, parked car by parked car, but I was much more relaxed, had the feeling I could have went another few miles. On one hand that's good, on the other hand I feel like I haven't put in enough.

So I should have something in the tank for tomorrow's 10k. If I run it and get some miles in before and after, I'll get my first 90 mile week. Ever. I'm looking forward to this, both as an athletic and as a social event, as it usually turns up at least a few folks that I haven't seen since the fall. And depending on who shows up (or fails to), its low key enough to where I may even win the darn thing. So today was the vegetables, tomorrow's the gravy.

I'm also updating my Chautauqua. Got 694 miles total now and playing catch up again. Last time I looked at this I was in West Virginia, now I'm in Kentucky. I covered a good chunk of ground, and haven't gotten a chance to muck through much of the stuff that I ran over. The terrain continues to be hilly, so I'm probably getting a good virtual workout. I also don't have much of a long-range goal, except to head west, which means I'm probably not doing this in the most efficient manner. But that may be a virtue of this trip.

Anyway, I passed through Jenny Wiley State Park, named after a pioneer woman whose biography, probably somewhat apocryphal and revised since this politically incorrect historical marker was erected.

I also ran a bit on Route 23, known as the Country Music Highway because of the proximity of birthplaces of such folks as Dwight Yoakum, Loretta Lynn and Crystal Gayle, Patti Loveless and the Judds, among others I either don't know or prefer not to listen to. This is obviously a hotbed of country music (and bluegrass as well), and I hope, in my virtual run, I sample some of the local music (and maybe the local moonshine as well).

I will bed down in West Liberty, Kentucky tonight. I perused the web for any info on this town (pop. about 3,000) and wouldn't you know, it is the home of the East Kentucky Correctional Complex. Who was the guy with the sense of irony who deemed its mailing address be "200 Road to Justice"? Built in 1991, it is referred to as the "Pink Palace". It is home to 1,689 people, most of whom I'm sure are from nowhere near the area. I wonder if the 3,000 pop. of West Liberty includes these folks, in which case the town population would have doubled when this place came online in 1990. The rest of the folks probably work as guards.

You can tell where I'm heading, and I will cut off my rant before it goes any further. But it figures I end up in a town like this. Anyway, I better wrap this up before I waste more time trawling the web for more weird stuff on EKCC.

Tomorrow I'll shake the dust off my shoes and move on.

Friday, March 03, 2006

I'm No Superman

Didn’t get to blog yesterday, so I’ll recap two workouts in one entry today.

Almost didn’t get to run yesterday. Plan was to get to the track, but freezing temps and rain led to that idea getting scratched. Plan B was to run the hamster wheel at lunch, but work stuff attenuated the time I allotted for this, and again later that afternoon during time I had scheduled as Plan C. So that left Plan D, which was to get my workout in I was done teaching class at 8. By this time it was all or nothing.

Got on the hamster wheel at 8:30, the place closed at 10. At this time of the day, looking at a running machine was like looking at a whipping post. Times like these when you realize those damn things keep going and going, and you don’t. My belly was full of carrot cake and trail mix, snacks passed around during my class and ersatz dinner, and an Anson and the Rocket album I had yet to listen to was on my iPod. To maximize the time I had and to make it a hard workout I maxed the treadmill as fast as I could and tried to get a groove.

That groove never came. By four miles I was checking the distance run about every tenth of a mile. The songs were okay to run to – straight ahead Texas blues – but the songs were short and made the run seem longer. Waves of anxiety came to hit me, and then overwhelming urges to just stop. The cognitive side of me said this was good mental practice for marathon running, and that unique feature of the treadmill – the belt just keeps rolling – kept me in hang on mode for awhile. An agonizing while, however, and I got the feeling this couldn’t last.

At mile 5.5 (5 @ 6 minute pace) my stomach started getting sick. I slowed the pace down to 8 and a half mile into this recovery had to continue the run into the bathroom. To show how crazy I was thinking, all that was in my head was failure, that I had stopped before my workout was done. But I also got a chance to regroup. Take it easy. Felt okay enough to get back on the horse. Turned off Anson and put on the BB King - Eric Clapton album: a familiar old friend. Cranked the treadmill back up to 10 and kept going, not feeling great but feeling better. A level of suffering I felt more comfortable with. I ran this for 4.5 miles (4 @ 6 minute pace) until 9:55, when it was time to clear out the gym. Total was 10.5, a little short of the 12 I had wanted to do but it left me with a feeling of redemption.

My reward was a bike ride home through freezing rain and then right into bed. At 6 this morning I was up again to run with Erin and Deirdre. If yesterday’s run sounds crazy and stupid, this mornings run was the opposite (however that is defined). An easy run with good company on a crisp sunny morning as the sun rose. I felt surprisingly strong for the first seven miles, and then just eased off for the last 2.5 on an Acme loop. Time was a respectable 74:40. Typical Friday, it was all I could do to drag myself out to run, but feel energized now that its behind me.

Back to craziness tomorrow as I plan to go 20, but an easy 20.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Good Day Sunshine

Happy March. It always feels like an achievement to get to this day. Two months of cold, dark dreary mornings to get ready for the Spring. Well, it wasn't that cold nor dreary this year, but it seems that brighter days are ahead.

NE Roadrunners have their 10k out by Lloyd Hall on Sunday, which to me is always the kickoff race of the Spring season. I'll be there.

This morning, out at 6 and, like yesterday, it was getting light already. Another sign of Spring. All four of us were out this morning, and we did the usual 9.5 mile Acme loop. Easy day. Time was 76:17, conversation was good and animated. Sun was bright and looks like it will be a beautiful day.

Wow, I feel positively motivational this morning. It must be the first day of the rest of my life or something.