Seebo's Run

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

My Photo
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Golden State of Mind. . .

or how Seebo got his gears back.

Best easy 3.5 mile workout I've ever done.

All the leaves were brown, and the sky was grey. But I finally shipped my deliverable off to that Midwestern city, got up at the normal time and laced up my shoes to go out into the morning fog. I put on a mix of songs with a California theme to them and by the time the third song came on, Belinda Carlisle's (yes, formerly of the GoGo's) "California," my legs were itching to throw it down. I held them back and took that urge and channeled it into thoughts about Sunday. Rumbling down Spruce Street like the Northridge quake itself at an 8 minute pace. This race is going down.

Going around back of Franklin Field and the Red Hot Chili Pepper's "Californication" was up next. I think I picked Sacramento to run a marathon just so I could train to that song. Good on so many ways, but particularly how it changes tempo and intensity, going up and going back down again and again. I tuned into that, again holding back and feeling the tension. Taking it in and feeding on it all the way up Locust Walk. Then past 40th St there's a place towards the end of the song where they slow it way down and then amp it up again. Couldn't keep my mojo pent up any longer and just opened it up. For three blocks I just went all out in a climactic release of sub 5k pace energy that left my fist pumping the air when it was done. Dream of Californication.

I needed this run to clear out the slogs I've been undertaking of late. I'm ready now.

Thanks for the shouts I've been getting lately. Even people who don't know me or my running so well seem to know that at some point around this time I usually do a marathon and ask about it. Ian's sendoff was particularly well done, especially since he unwittingly included my favorite movie ever in it. If I have half the confidence other people have in me, this race should be a piece of cake.

But of course it won't be. Goal now is to run fast enough to beat that tuna noodle casserole out of the oven.

Franklin Field loop, 3.5 miles. Left at 7:20 back at 7:49.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Two Fer

Do two half-fast runs make a full moon? What about when you add a fartlek?

Little catch-up here. Monday was a dnr, I did a half-hearted fartlek 7-miler yesterday and an easy 5-miler just a little while ago.

I would not want to run a marathon on the legs I currently have. They feel out of sorts, a bit tight, a bit tender, and not like they're in any mood to go a hard 26. I don't feel like I have any kind of rhythm and my running is more a kind of mucking around. Nothing to be alarmed about, how I feel now will have nothing to do with how I feel Sunday, but it would still be nice to have these runs be more than just slogs. At least they are short slogs.

The one thing I wish I did get more of this week is sleep. The time I've saved in not running or blogging has gotten eaten up by a report on shelter use in a medium sized Midwestern city that I have to get out before I leave for California. The combination of not running and stressing over this has left me out of sorts. Additionally, there will be the three hour time difference and an early wake up to get to the start. So we'll see how that goes.

Wish I could be more upbeat. Again, I'm not in the best of spirits, but I've done enough of these things not to project it on to Sunday. I may do well or poorly then, but it will have little to do with how I feel now.

Since I wasn't able to, didn't want to, and had no need to get my legs going the last few days, I spent a good part of my runs visualizing my race. I'm bringing a lot of intensity into this, I really want to spank this course, but I need to be careful because a marathon is not a take no prisoners race. A more restrained version of intensity is needed here. To get me in that mood I listened to JJ Cale and Eric Clapton this afternoon and just focused on myself running the early and middle miles. The music is mostly Cale, who has this signature shuffling backbeat that is simultaneously driving and understated. That's exactly the effect that I want to lay down 5:54s till the cows come home.

They call me the breeze, I keep blowing down the road.

I also have hooked up with Mike S., whom both Ian and Duncan said I should contact as he is also running CIM and we are both shooting for mid 2:30s. Mike, who has one of the more widely read running blogs around and who lives in Tucson, wants to shoot for a 5:54 pace, which would bring us in just under 2:35. If its a good day and I have someone to work with, I should manage that and so I will go for it.

Well, that feels better. I guess I needed to blog a bit, get some of these thoughts out of my system. Rebecca's been yelling at me, its been three days since I've put anything up here. I still don't feel inspired to lay down any really deep thoughts, but what's so amazing about really deep thoughts?!

And with that its back to work.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Extra Mile

Easy spin around the Franklin Field loop. Mild sunny and in 60s again today, almost wish I could be out there running 20. Almost.

But today I just put on the iPod and took off at an easy pace for about 45 minutes. I was telling Rebecca how relaxing that felt and she duly pointed out that's what about 95% of runners do 95% of the time. Have I become that much of a freak?

Then I get Mike's email, part of which he writes: Considering the days off, the 3001 [miles I've logged sofar] is amazing. Remind yourself that you did not get in such good shape by accident. It was the trial of miles. Gotta remind myself of that and take that fitness out for one more spin next Sunday. Then I'll celebrate with mellow four and five milers for the rest of the year.

Five miles in 43 something minutes. Meant to go four but it was too nice not to do a little more.

This gives me 35 miles for the week, about where I wanted to be.

Tomorrow will be a rest day, Tuesday or Wednesday I'll rev things up a little. After that nothing farther than four miles until Sunday.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

"Long" Run

None of my peeps came out for the 9:30 Philly Runners run. I went out around the Drives with the lead group among those who did show - four women and one guy, all strangers to me - and chafed at the 8 minute pace and the 20-something girl banter. So at about 2 miles when my legs picked it up my head didn't intervene.

I pulled away and enjoyed a beautiful sunny loop in solitude. I eventually settled into a 7:15/7:30 pace and just relaxed. Didn't feel like Queen of the F*****g Universe this morning, just a guy out on a morning jog and happy for stealing away yet another mild day. Calves felt beat up after about mile 7 or so, Achilles held their own.

8.5 mile loop in 62:45, total with back and forth to the car was 9+ miles in 69:08. This puts me at 3001 miles logged for the year. Previous best in a year was 26-hundred something in '05.

The runs just get shorter from here on in.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Rock Me

The more I've been tapering, the bigger my appetite has been getting. Suffice to say I had an awesome Thanksgiving.

Had a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat with the family at my sister's in the DC area. Headed out this morning to the track that's a few blocks from her house. The purpose of today's workout was to "rev the engine," one of the few things I learned from my short-lived coaching experience with Greg McMillan. The idea here is that during the taper you take the edge off of a hard workout so that you push yourself but don't take it to the limit. You make sure the motor is well-tuned while avoiding needless stress and strain.

This is fun training. Like last week's track workout, there is no pressure. But where in last week's workout there was no pressure because I ran over my head, today I would revel in going fast without hardly trying. If I do it right, it should give me a feeling of being on top of my game.

Sunny, mild day out. On the agenda were five 1000 meter repeats (w/ 400 meter recoveries), target time was 3:20 per rep. I did the reps with the iPod on, each rep done to a song that makes me fly.

Results were:

Rep 1: 3:16 - "The Bleeding Heart Show" (New Pornographers)
Rep 2: 3:16 - "Tumbling Dice" (Johnny Copeland)
Rep 3: 3:17 - "Hurt" (Johnny Cash)
Rep 4: 3:17 - "Under the Wire" (Carbon Leaf)
Rep 5: 3:16 - "Further on Up the Road" (Bruce Springsteen)

5 x 1000. 5k on the installment plan in 16:22. It was easy. I could have done 5 more. Hell, I could have done 50 more. My biggest problem is that I couldn't slow them down. But I ran them consistently fast. This was fun. Broke a good sweat in November. There's a fever in the funkhouse now.

Total of 7 miles in 48:21.

Rock me baby like a wagon wheel;
Rock me baby any way you feel;
Oh baby rock me.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Temporary Like Achilles

Easy six this morning. In other words, about what Ian does for a long run these days.

Nobody else came out to play this morning, which I was actually glad for because I felt like a solitary run. Overcast and a bit cold for the shorts and t-shirt I was wearing, but I only noticed this when I turned off of Cobbs Creek and back East onto Warrington and got a stiff wind blowing in my face. I noticed it again when I got back home and it took all the strength I could muster to turn the key and open the door.

On overcast mornings things get lighter by degrees, almost imperceptibly. Such was the case on mornings such as this, and I was in the "butterfly sanctuary" on Cobbs Creek before I realized it was light. Here the path continues along the river into a solitary area behind rows of houses. For about a half a mile I can pretend I'm in the country and this path goes on through the woods forever. But instead I do the next best thing, which is to take a piece of this back home with me. And now I'll deposit it here.

Achilles still feel tender. Better than yesterday, but still telling me to relax them. Chuck wanted me to run Brandywine, a cross country meet, over the weekend, but it seems like the ups and downs of a course like that one would be a perfect one to run if I ever set out t0 aggravate these tendons. So optimism and care remain the key words for handling this situation.

Treated myself to a first listening of Dave Alvin's Ashgrove cd, which came out last year, during this morning's run. Great cd with a somber tone that fit well into the greys of this morning. Can't wait to listen to it again.

And finally, taking another rest day tomorrow, so I'll take this time to wish y'all a Happy Thanksgiving and blog y'all back on Friday.

Loop is here, six miles in 52:01.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Out of Gas

Rare treat this morning in that I got to run with Kevin F. Yeah sure we room together and thus see way too much of each other, but we rarely get to run together as I am a morning runner and he runs in the afternoons; he spends much of his time on the track and once a week on the track is plenty for me, etc.

So the plan was to fartlek it this morning. The morning was deliciously chilly and crisp (mmmm) as we headed down toward the Art Museum. We played follow the leader, where the plan was for the first half I would call the pacing, and he would take up this chore once we hit Sweetbriar and headed home. So after a warm up down Baltimore to 38th St. I kicked it up some. This lasted, at differing speeds, for about 2 miles at which point I became increasingly aware of tenderness in my Achilles tendons and called it off. No point in pushing a workout at this point.

Thus the entry title. Out of gas. Fartlek. Get it?!

Okay, that is the best I can do on a Tuesday morning. Back to my Achilles. At the nagging point right now, with the potential to develop into something. I'd be worried about them if it were 3 or 4 weeks earlier in my training, but at this point I will monitor it and go easy for the rest of the way if I have to. Worst comes to worst its something I can run with come marathon day. And as I seem to be telling people alot lately, a taper wouldn't be a taper unless there was something worrisome to obsess about.

Thanks to Kevin Gruenfeld for sending me the picture I'm posting. Its from Sunday's 8k. I haven't been chased by four females since third grade on the playground after lunch. I be rockin' them speed goggles.

Just kidding Rebecca. Oh yeah, 8 miles in 55:03.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Rothman 8k

Warning - this is going to be an lbrr (local acronym, first coined I believe by Ian, standing for long boring race report) much like the ones I've been writing. I've got to develop a new take on these, but it ain't going to be today.

Nothing like a hometown marathon. Only since my marathon is in California in the next two weeks, I did the next best thing. I raced the 8k that is tacked on to the marathon, and came early and stayed late to support my peeps running the marathon and also, for the first time, the half marathon.

Kevin Forde and I ran the 2.7 miles or so down to the Art Museum as a warmup and we got to send off the marathoners. Half hour later we were lined up ourselves just alongside the marathon start for the 8k start. While this race plays second fiddle to the marathon, there was some drama in it for me as the Mid Atlantic USATF Grand Prix individual title was at stake, and there was a $250 purse for first masters finisher.

Eying the field at the start, there were alot of fast guys, but mostly young pups. The only mature gentleman I recognized who might give me competition was Greg Cauller, a guy I have dueled with a few times over the last few years. David James, my competition in the Grand Prix, was also present.

Gun goes off and a large pack takes off to the front as we head down the Ben Franklin Parkway and around Logan Circle. I'm one of the stragglers a bit behind this pack. I figure I'll play lion and poach the ones who can't hang. I keep this position through the first mile (5:07) at which point I realize that I am in fact not alone. As we now head up Kelly Drive, there are several women breathing down my neck, and I realize that the pack in front of me was devoid of any feminine presence. I got nothing against being in the company of fast women, especially if they can keep me going. They stuck behind me, perhaps to pace, perhaps to draft, and I was fully aware that they were competing with each other and I was part of the scenery.

Mike is shouting his encouragement at mile 2, which was a little back to earth at 5:18. Next mile also passes in 5:18, and is uneventful except for that I reel in one casualty from the lead pack. The turnaround is a little past this checkpoint, and Cauller is safely behind me. The women are still stalking me. Its back down Kelly Drive to the Art Museum. I could run the rest of this course with my eyes closed. Mile 4, with Mike shouting I was still at sub 5:14 pace, passes in 5:14. Still holding my position. I chug the last not-quite fifth mile, passing by Ryan Walsh, and, as I expected, with about 100 meters to go the two women behind me kick it past me to finish their race and I can't hang on. It doesn't bother me that they beat me, but I would like to have finished one second faster to get my time under 26 minutes. That is my finishing time - 26 minutes flat.

But that is all I can complain about. David James finishes in about 29 and a half minutes, and while that nets him a very respectable 85 points on the WAVA scale, my finish gets me 87.5 points. So, unofficially, I am the Grand Prix champ. As first master I also get $250 in prize money, a big chunk of which will go towards a nice pasta dinner with some good Cali wine in Sacramento. Both by McMillan's race predictor and by the WAVA scale, this race was my best race performance ever. Although I can't prove it, I attribute this little extra I had to Thursday's track workout, which really loosened me up mentally. It also predicts a 2:33 marathon time, which is pretty heady stuff. I won't try for that, but does make me inclined to take Mike's suggestion to aim for a 5:55 pace (instead of a 6 minute pace) in Sacramento, which would be good for a 2:35 marathon time.

So this fairytale season just keeps on going. And one more race to go.

I'd be remiss to mention that all of my peeps I was particularly following also ran big today. I knew many more folks who ran, but there are a few folks whose training I'd been a part of, in some respect, over the course of this fall so that I had a good idea of their aspirations for this race. Kevin Jude was shooting for a 1:25 in the half marathon and finished a few seconds over that. This is a 3+ minute PR time for him. Craig Stone, in the marathon, broke 3 hours by 5 seconds. This is what he was shooting for, and was in fine shape to do it, but as he was all too aware, in a marathon one just never knows. Steve Kollar finished in 2:52, a big pr for him and his second straight excellent Philly marathon performance. He's been training like an animal this fall too. And finally, in perhaps the most impressive performance, "English" Mike Dobres ran a 3:28(!) good enough to send him to Boston. He had mentioned a BQ as a reach goal, but in all honesty (sorry Mike) I wrote that off to be more like a wet dream. But he got it, and I am ecstatic for him. Can't wait to hear the stories.

So the party in Boston in April just promises to get bigger, and it becomes ever harder not to go myself.

Tomorrow will be a rest day, on the roads as well as on the blog.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Even Easier

Went to the marathon Expo with KJ and Silas, so I can register for tomorrows Rothman 8k. They have the expo out by the Art Museum, so we jogged over and back. Call it 5.5 in 48:39.

Felt like a geek at the Expo, as I ran into tons of folks I know. The only places where I feel like a social butterfly these days are running scenes.

Well, an easy day calls for an easy blog entry. Wish me Godspeed at Rothman tomorrow.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Easy. . .

. . . this time in the sense that I took it slow this morning.

It was sooo hard getting up and out into the darkness. The black seemed to lift into the light, never really noticed any sunrise. It promises to be mild yet again today, stealing one more day from the clutches of an oncoming winter. Ran through Delaware County, with a warmth inside that matched the temperatures.

Running is fun again, with no pressure for speed or mileage. Just going out to run. Simple as that. The way it should be. I don't know why I've complicated it so much lately.

9 miles in 70:57.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

It' Easy. . .

Easy as pie!

Don't mean to sound flip here, just a line from the Cale/Clapton song I was keying off of on my workout this morning.

Mike again laid out a workout for me:

If you want to run hard again before Sunday, get on the track Thursday and do something that is faster than the pace you probably will be trying to run on Sunday, 5:15/mile or so. Do not do too much volume as you are close to a race.

You can go 2 X 800 at 2:28-30 followed by 6 X 400 at 73-74. At least a 400 rest after the 800's 200 rest after the 400's. It sounds fast, but with the shape you are in now, and if you run with proper form, a 73 second quarter is not that fast. Think this way, it is a 36.5 200, but then you just keep going another half lap. Very important to warm up and warm down well. Warming up well means at least a mile of easy jogging to loosen up, a few laps faster, some stretching, and some striders. Warmdown should be at least two miles until your respiration, heart rate feel more normal.

Again, with this workout, I am sort of guessing here that the pace should not be too fast, should not be too much volume. If it is too fast, too much volume, adjust it. If 4 X 400's works instead of 6, do it that way.

So I went down to Franklin Field this morning feeling much more light hearted than I usually do. No pressure today. Just run the reps as fast as I can. Tweak 'em. Feel exhausted? no problem, take some extra recovery. Still can't nail them the way I want to, then shut it down and go home. No biggie.

KJ and Deirdre also happened to be at the track this morning, but it was parallel play. I had my own stuff to take care of and so did they. Deirdre is talking about signing up for and running CIM, but I won't believe it until she's got the plane ticket. KJ is running the half-marathon this weekend, a new addition to the Philadelphia Marathon races.

First 800 all out in 2:27 (1:14/1:13). I'm gulping for air already, and can't see how I'd ever do any more than one of these. A sloooow 400m recovery and I try it again.

Second one clocks in at 2:26 (1:14/1:12). Another sloooow 400m recovery.

Shift down to 400s now. I like this, as 400s always seem done before they even start. The thing I hate about doing them is that there usually seem to be so many of them. But today there are only six.

First one comes in at 71 seconds. Slow 200m recovery.

Second one is in at another 71 seconds. Another, even slower 200m recovery.

Third one is in 72 seconds. Still holding on but OMG, I'm dying here. I extend my recovery to 400m. Halfway around this recovery I stop for a minute to coordinate tomorrow's run w/ KJ and D. I still can't talk a full sentence I'm breathing so heavy. None of us can commit fully to running tomorrow. Hell, I'm not sure if I can commit to running the next 400. I'm grateful for the extra recovery.

Fourth one is in 73 seconds. Am I slowing here. If the next rep is slower, that'll be the last one. no problem. Take 400 m recovery again.

Fifth one is back down to 71 seconds. Yeah, I'm an animal. 400 m recovery.

Sixth one is in 73 seconds. I'll take it and I'm outta here.

This workout was perfect for me today. I couldn't do these reps this fast in a regular track workout, but now I can imagine doing taking them to this level sometime in the future. And today the track was fun again. And finally, Mike hits it right on when he says:

The idea of this workout is to come off the track feeling fast, and thus confident Sunday that you can handle a fast pace and be right in rhythm. It also helps your brain realize that a 5:56 pace is barely running for a guy as good as you are.

Or, another way to put it, if you can't look good through the speed goggles what's the point of working out?!

8 miles total in 64 flat (including dawdling and talking). Can't wait to take my mojo out on the Rothman 8k on Sunday. Easy as pie!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Crossing Counties

Met up with Deirdre this morning, she wanted to run somewhere different. So we ran out toward the 'burbs and I showed her the Lansdowne Sycamore.

The weather was mild and the running was easy. I really like the part of the loop to the sycamore where you cross counties, as it is a cross-country type trail along and eventually over the Cobbs Creek.

When we got to the sycamore we stopped for a few minutes and paid our respects to the 300 year old tree. I noticed this time around how its massive trunk breaks into three smaller but still massive subtrunks which proceed to go increasingly horizontal. Its a great climbing and swinging tree. It has lost all of its leaves with the recent rain we've been having but it still looks good - like its not a day over 200 years old.

Run back was equally uneventful. We talked about an interview Deirdre read where an elite runner said that she felt it was God's plan for her to run. We marveled at how convenient it was that she was called to do that what she wanted to do, and wondered how she was so secure in knowing God's plan. Does God even make plans?

I'll leave you with that theological question to ponder. Call it 9.5 in 71:53; just about right for me today.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


It used to be fairly common to see billboards around Philadelphia for a 48-hour detox regimen administered to heroin addicts. It used to be a particular sore point for guys I knew who worked at Penn's Treatment Research Center, as it had numerous dangers to it, and these somewhat shady operations must have gotten closed down as the billboards have been gone for awhile.

Well, I didn't run for the last two days - 48 hours. Its been two rainy, work-laden days with kids off of school and it was time for running to take a lower priority. It's been awhile that I took two days off without feeling guilty about it. Hopefully it got some of those toxins out of my system and got my cells weaned a bit from the need to pound the pavement. In other words I started my taper with a detox.

This detox regimen actually went about a half hour too long, as I overslept and would have slept longer had Kevin not woken me up before he left for work (an advantage of having a fellow runner as a roomie). So the planned 11 miler got whittled to 8 - a Sweetbriar loop. What used to be the morning for my dreaded but much anticipated BN workout today became my first time trying a fartlek workout. This was suggested by Mike a few weeks back and I'll lift some of his text from an email he sent me:

Map out a course between 8-12 miles, make sure it has some varied inclines, some up and down. If you can find someone to run all or part of it with you (that can keep up with you), all the better.
What is the workout? You make it up as you go. Only one rule, THERE ARE NO RULES-that is, do not do the same kind of running for too long. Vary the pace regularly-but it does not have to be planned. There should be some sort of change at least every five minutes.
This can be a great workout with an equally fit friend-you can take turns, almost like follow the leader, in terms of direction and pace. Ideally, there will be some hard running up hills, down hills, some 80-120 meter accelerations or sprints, some easy jogging, some marathon pace, some LT pace, some long run (slower than marathon) pace. The point is, you prepare yourself for a hard workout, but then be as creative as you can-it gives the body and mind a great workout without being in a routine.

I ran it solo this morning, and put my own twist on the fartlek. I put on the iPod and was listening to the latest cd that I'm raving about - JJ Cale and Eric Clapton's recent release Road to Escondido. I've always been a big JJ Cale fan, as has Clapton, and I was very excited when I heard one of their new songs on XPN last week - instantly recognizable. And the album is great. After warming up down to Penn campus (despite 2 days rest, I had a serious case of Old Man Walking this morning that lasted well into this warmup period), I set a pace and running style to go with the song that was playing, and changed pace and style as the songs changed. This was a good cd to do it to, as the songs are of varying tempos, and the end result was a that my running felt like I was dancing to the music. I ran hard, but the workout didn't feel hard.

The climax of the run came on Haverford Ave., when the song "Ride the River" (the song I first heard on XPN) came on just as the hill lay in front of me west of 46th Street. I ran it with everything I got and felt the sheer exuberance and unbearable lightness of just running fast. Good to feel that again.

8 miles in 54:45. Normally I would look to get a second workout in later on, but, hey, I'm on my taper!

Moving on trains and airplanes, is all we do,
I'm running right behind her, just like she wants me to.
Makes me no difference when all is said and done,
Heading west, to the setting sun.
Well, my heads in Georgia but my feet are California bound. . .

(Clapton & Cale)

19 more days.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Hay is in the Barn!

I love saying this. All fitness that I'm taking with me to CIM I have already gained. From here on in it is maintenance, recovery and rest.

Mike warned me not to run hard today, to give myself another easy day before doing my last 20 miler. But I dearly wanted to get this run over and done with. And Deirdre was running long this morning, and this late in the fall season it is hard to find someone to hook up with who is still doing long runs. And my legs didn't feel that badly beat up. So I went for the long run this morning.

Met Deirdre on the Schuylkill bike path at the Race St. entrance and we ran together for about 12 or 13, past Lloyd Hall, up Lemon Hill and out through Fairmount Park on the Belmont Plateau fire road to Belmont and City Line avenues. We then did the Montgomery County section of Belmont Ave. backwards from how I'm used to doing it - taking it back to Manayunk. From there it was a straight shot back to Kelly Drive. At the John Kelly statue Deirdre took her leave and I slapped on the iPod and ran past the Art Museum, through West Philly and home.

Slow and steady. Good conversation. Beautiful mild sunny day and still getting gorgeous fall colors. Everything a final long run in preparation for a fall marathon should be. And now I'm so glad its over. I look forward to regaining some sanity here. And I feel so ready to run in Sacramento.

The hay is in the barn. 22 days left.

Ran for 2:41:22. Call it 20 miles.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Good Marathon Training

This was the first time this season where I finished yesterdays run in the dark and then started this mornings run in the same darkness. It was me, Deirdre, and KJ/Silas. We went out to Cobbs Creek and across Mount Moriah Cemetary to Kingsessing and back home. This ate up about 60 minutes, I wanted to go 80 minutes so I could log it as 10 miles - mas o menos.

It was a pretty morning to run, and promises to be another gorgeous day. Mist was rising off of the wet grass at Mount Moriah, and the sun was peeking over the hill and behind a row of headstones on the hill's crest. This concealed somewhat the disrepair that the cemetary was in, leading to a discussion of what you actually sign on for when you are assured you will be cared for "in perpetuity."

The last twenty minutes of the run, after KJ peeled off, were spent by me and Deirdre just running around West Philly and trying to kill time. I hate doing runs like that, it makes the time crawl and the route becomes something forced upon me. But that can be rationalized as good mental conditioning. Running with Deirdre and KJ kept my pace honest, and forced me to keep up despite very sore calves. My legs felt a little bit like they were on the last 10k of a marathon. Not the most pleasant of feelings to run with but again, it can be pawned off as good marathon training.

I think I will continue this pattern today and write off everything that I don't like for its own sake as good marathon training.

Ran for 88:23, call it 10.5 miles.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

One Degree of Separation from Bart Yasso

Had a busy morning, so I scheduled a track workout for the afternoon. For my last hard track workout of the training cycle, I chose to do 800's, Yasso style. This is a staple track workout for me and lets me predict my marathon time and judge this workout against previous 800 workouts.

Ian got to interview Bart Yasso, who would be an unknown were it not for this gimmicky workout that bears his name. Hence the title of this blog entry. Ran down to Franklin Field just as it was getting dark. Get to the track and its a zoo. Football team is practicing and plenty of runners, with all the slow ones seemingly hogging the fifth lane. I decide to shoot for 2:35 minute intervals - theoretically predicting a 2:35 marathon time. The first lap just felt like I didn't have it, sluggish and really having to work hard to get a 2:36. This felt like it would be a long workout. Second rep went down to 2:35. Still questioning whether I had eight more of these in me. Then I just did them one at a time. Next 5 in 2:35; 2:33; 2:34: 2:35; 2:34. These were like work. I wasn't dying, but really had to bear down and execute something I couldn't get excited about doing. One at a time, they felt endless. At this point three more to go. My concentration went before my legs did, and for the next two the first 400 went slower and I had to hump it on the back 400 to get 2:36's. Going from 8 reps to 10 really fries me mentally. My gauge of how successful the workout would be culminated with rep #10 - if I nailed this one it would be a good workout. Again, the front 400 went in about 1:19 but I pulled the last 400 out to hit a 2:35. That'll do, pig, that'll do.

Last time I did these a little faster, but only did 7. That workout was accompanied by much drama, this time around it was much more a matter of just going and getting the job done. Didn't have my A game, but had work to do and brought home the bacon. While I hope I feel better on marathon day, its that businesslike approach, reminiscent of John's, Paul's, and Ryan's respective Chicago races, that I want to bring to California with me. There's a good feeling to that.

And this leaves me much more confident that a mid 2:30's finishing time at CIM is attainable. In particular, Mike's suggestion makes sense:

5:56/mile is a 2:35:30 marathon. 6:00/mile even is 2:37:19. Not trying to suggest a goal pace or time, but those are definitely in the neighborhood for you.

Going out at 6 minute pace definitely seems realistic and even a bit conservative. Go out like this for the first 17 or 18 miles, and then see how I feel. If I feel strong, I can still get a big day, if I go steady, I'll have a big day, and if I'm off, I still have a cushion to make it under 2:40.

And no kisses if I go over 2:40.

Where the miles are marked in blood and gold
I'll meet you further on up the road.
- Bruce Springsteen

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Stephen, Be Invincible In Extreme Conditions...

The message header is from a piece of running-related spam that was in my inbox this morning.

With a steady rain, conditions are fairly extreme out, and my morning run ain't gonna happen. And yeah, I could find time to squeeze it in during the day, but I have so many other obligations that it's about time for my running to take a hit.

I used to say my life was like juggling, keeping three balls going with one ball in the air while the other two were being attended to. Lately its felt like someone has thrown two or three more balls into the mix. I've been protective of that running ball, and I think just a few more days and I can let go of it for awhile. But I had a hard workout yesterday, and plan to have a hard workout tomorrow, and in the big picture its not going to matter much if I get my little ten miles in today or not. It'll just make my log a bit less perfect.

So I'll start my work, the ball that seems to be the least tended to of late, as soon as I finish this and try not to look back. On a day like today, running seems like a tyranny, one that I'll look forward to withdrawing from little by little, after Sunday. Or maybe starting now. I guess that's a sign that I'm ready, or just sick and tired. At this point I can't tell.

And back to the spam. I don't need your shit, I am invincible.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Inching Toward Cali

Last bout with the Bloody Nipple in this training cycle.

In contrast to last week, when I had to virtually flog my legs to get them to go, this morning they were like thoroughbreds twitching and chomping at the bit and wanting to take off even as I was heading down to the Drives. It was all I could do to keep them on warmup pace. When I got down to MLK I just let go. My mind chimed in by flashing back to a visual of cruising during Sundays BFBridge run, and I cruised the four river miles in 22:33. Kept it up the BN, checking in at the summit in 8:37 and finishing up on Belmont Plateau in 15:47. This again shatters my previous best times for this stretch that I've been running all fall, and puts me in a nice frame of mind as I get one hard workout closer to my taper.

This also got me thinking. While I've been getting great race times this season, the times have all been very consistent with each other. If you plug one of them into McMillans race calculator, they predict the other times I've been running pretty closely. Thus instead of my race times getting progressively faster, they have all moved up to a faster, but internally consistent level. In contrast, running this loop all fall I can distinctly measure progress, in that my times along the portions of this course that I take hard have consistently gone down as the training cycle progressed - on the tempo parts as well as on the hill parts. And now I have the satisfaction of their being done for awhile. During my taper I'll probably take Mike's suggestion and fart around with some fartlek workouts in place of this workout.

Norm finally updated the results on the Grand Prix standings and with one race left I am now in first place with a razor thin lead: 674.035 to 672.736 over David James. The final race will be a choice between Philly Marathon or the Rothman 8k, I will do the latter. Given I've had the upper hand in the last few races, and that I'll be well rested for this race, I gotta like my chances to win this thing.

Today was Seebo's workout, meaning no time to futz around and smell the roses. Just a good old fashioned hard workout.

And Mike would get on me if I didn't tell everyone to get out and vote. If you vote for nobody else, then vote for Bob Casey (i.e., against Santorum).

13.5 miles in 94:28.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Morning After

Hooked up with KJ/Silas.

As I was waiting for them to emerge from KJ's place, I noticed the garden in front of the house next to theirs had roses blooming. Took that to be a positive sign.

All three of us were beat. Silas had the right idea. After being cranky for half the loop (out to Lloyd Hall and back around on an extended Art Museum loop) he then fell asleep for the second half. KJ and I digested yesterdays Bridge race, as well as the NYC marathon. Pace was slow and my mind was in a funk. It was pleasingly chilly. That's about all to remember.

Some runs are noteworthy only for the fact that they happened. This one was more or less one of those.

7.5 in 65:46.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Ben Franklin Bridge Challenge 10k

As if I haven't raced enough this season.

I've never run this race, which starts in Camden and goes over the Ben Franklin bridge into Philly and back over the bridge into Camden and then along the waterfront attractions. There is a generous enough prize purse for both open (5 deep) and masters (3 deep) runners to attract Africans and other elites, and it otherwise attracts a large crowd as well. I love running the Ben Franklin Bridge, and this race promised to be able to do it on the road instead of on the pedestrian walk. And I figured that if I ran out and back to Camden (6.5 miles one way) and ran the 10k, I can log enough miles (on the installment plan) to call it a long run (with a hard workout) to boot. And it was the second to last race on the Mid-Atlantic USATF circuit, and my being in a dogfight for first individual place, made it kinda necessary to run it.

Running out to Camden through Center City early on a Sunday morning was like having the whole downtown by myself. In absence of traffic I just ran down the middle of Lombard St. all the way to Sixth St. and then hung a left until I got to the bridge. Running over the bridge let me do a little reconnaissance as I approached the race staging area at Rutgers-Camden campus, and I made it to the registration desk with five minutes to spare before they closed.

The race start was like a poor man's NYC marathon start (which was also today), being by the toll plaza of a large suspension bridge. Supposedly 3,000+ people lined up. Aside from Kevin Matthews I saw no-one who was likely to give me competition in the, ahem, mature gentlemen's division. The start was slow due to the steady ascent to the crest of the bridge, and I was smart enough not to stay with the lead pack. They slowly broke away, there were two others running behind them, and there was me. At about a half mile I was joined by the two lead female runners, one of whom, Olympian and Villanova legend Carmen Hussar, I had dueled back in September at the Parkway Run. The other was a short, dark skinned woman who seemed to be hanging on for dear life. I was happy to have people to work with, and mile 1, at the bridge crest, was 5:40.

The three of us were still together as we turned around in front of Franklin Square and headed back up the bridge again to Camden. The two guys between us and lead pack were slowly coming back to us. Mile 2 (5:25) was at the crest again and on the downhill I lost my female companionship and started closing in on the guys ahead of me. Each race lately I've been more and more confident, and now I smelled blood. First guy, who had a blond mane and a Ohio Athletic Conference t-shirt, looked over his shoulder at me and spit at my feet as I overtook him. "Go ahead and spit, asshole, it won't stop my smoking you," was my thought as I blew by him. Guy number two, in a Haddonfield Running Company singlet, was about 20 meters ahead now. I reeled him in and we screamed downhill to the Camden end of the bridge, where mile 3 went by in 5:04. I felt great as we continued to work it together towards the Riverfront. We stayed together for mile 4 (5:14) and by the time we got to the battleship New Jersey he fell behind a little. I kept my mojo right on working and by the next time I got to look back, past the Aquarium and right on the river, my lead was widening. Mile 5 (5:22) gave me a cumulative time of 26:46 - 25 seconds faster than my pr time at the Radnor 5 Miler last week. By the next time I looked back the Haddonfield store guy was still fading, and the next guy ahead of me was unreachable, so I just bore down and concentrated on finishing strong. The last 1.2 miles went by in 6:28 (5:23 pace) and I crossed the finish line in 33:14.

After the race, when I finished hyperventilating but before my now predictable post-race GI problems, I went out to about the 6.1 mile mark and cheered on my peeps. Kevin Forde was the first one to come along, right behind two people (including the evil David James), and I yelled at him to hammer it. He must have known that it would be a long week living with my constantly reminding him of this, and so he actually downshifted and blew past them. KJ also responded to my exhortations with a final kick (he finished in a 38 something pr), as did Steve "Goat" DiBona who held off a challenge from 2 guys breathing down his neck. That was fun. Various other Phila AC and Philly Runners folks also had good races.

My finish was good enough for seventh place and first masters finisher. It was a pr by 69 seconds over my Brian's Run time last year. Second master's finisher was by another Villanova legend - Marcus O'Sullivan. While I certainly don't have the hubris to say I am the better runner, I do get a kick out of being able to say I beat him. Carmen ended up finishing first female, and I ran into Dan Hussar, a colleague of mine on the faculty at USP who is Carmen's father in law. I had never made the connection. My first place masters finish was good enough for a $500 payday. And by my calculations I should gain another point or two on David James to put me in the lead in the Grand Prix standings. Hot damn!

The run back home was over the bridge and straight down Race Street all the way to the Schuylkill, where I took the bike path and then crossed the river at Walnut Street and through Penn campus all the way home. It was hard to crank up again after the mental and physical race effort, but as the run home progressed I got stronger. Thus this morning was good from a long run perspective as well.

This has been an amazing season. I feel like I'm writing the same thing over and over again with every race report I write - centering around how I just shatter my previous efforts at whatever distance I happen to be racing. Its an amazing feeling. I hope I can ride it out through CIM.

And speaking of CIM, I booked plane reservations and am now fully committed to going. This prize money will definitely help towards that effort. And in the meantime, I've already been California dreaming way more than the legal limit.

19 miles today, one more hard week to go.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Almost There

Ran this morning, blogging this evening. The more time passes the less I can think of to write about this run. Thus this should be brief.

Ran down to the Art Museum to hook up with the 9:30 Philly Runners crowd. Set out for three miles up MLK with John Dubs, Stevus and Jenn, and then peeled off at Strawberry Mansion Bridge and headed back to West Philly. Instead of the usual Belmont return, I tried a flanking action around the backside of the Mann and then south down 53rd. The neighborhood here is less familiar to me and the change in scenery was welcome. Folks also seemed welcoming, as though they don't get folks running past their houses often. One guy said, "Keep it up, you're almost there." Although it was still a few miles home, I took it to heart. A week and a day of hard training left.

The more difficult workout came this afternoon, when I took Maricela shopping. Her bedroom here, up till this afternoon, consisted of a bed and a lamp. So we basically filled the room, mainly at Ikea and Best Buy. I also finally replaced the factory installed cassette deck on the 97 Golf I'm driving and now I can, wonder of wonders, play cd's and even my iPod in the car. Hot damn. But I can shop only to a point, and when I reach that point I start getting foul tempered and anxious to get out of what feels like retail hell. I told Rebecca and she said it was obvious I hit the wall and was bonking. And that hits the nail on the head. Maybe I should bring some GU along on my next shopping workout. Or just avoid the damn things altogether.

Route clocks in at 11 miles, 89:58.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Recovery Run

Ran solo this morning along the Lansdowne Sycamore loop (same route I ran on Wednesday). My iPod is crapping out so it was just me and my thoughts. But my thoughts were legion.

Took it easy today. My legs felt beaten up and my mind was preoccupied, so this morning's run became a haven from the world, a space in which my head could settle and I could regroup.

Today was markedly chillier than its been. Hell, its November already so it shouldn't come as a surprise. I wore a long-sleeve t-shirt where the sleeves were long enough for my hands to tuck in as well. Like turtles in their shells. A comfort shirt. As the run progressed, first the fingers came out, then the lower knuckles, and finally my hands were warm enough to where the sleeves weren't needed anymore. By the time I was heading home on Kingsessing it was warm enough to where I just rolled up my sleeves. I'll be alright.

I'm falling under the spell of that sycamore. I noticed its leaves don't turn colors as much as go from green to a dry brown and stay like that, hanging on the tree.

10.5 miles in 88:07. A bit slower than Wednesday.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Something inside me got unleashed this morning.

Headed out to the track. At Mike's suggestion, I set out to do 1600 meter repeats (2 min recovery) in a repeat of a track workout I did on Oct. 5, where I nailed four in 5:15, 5:16, 5:16, 5:15. Mike said repeating this workout would be a good way to measure any progress I've made since then. I also had in mind an email from Chemistry Steve describing a workout doing 800 meter reps that was fast enough to where it got me watching my back. So I wanted to respond to that as well.

I ran down to Franklin Field, where I saw KJ doing 800s. We chatted a bit as he took his recovery simultaneously with my warmup, and then it was down to business. First 1600 in 5:14, piece of cake, from there it went 5:11; 5:10; 5:09. Started to feel the burn on the last lap of this fourth rep, but had plenty left to go for a fifth. Had enough in me to hang for this final rep until the last 400 meters, where I just hammered it home - 5:10!

5 reps (2 minutes recovery after each) on average about 5 seconds faster apiece than the four reps I did a month ago. That's definitely progress. That also amounts to an 8k (5x1600), on the installment plan, in 25:54.

Regular readers of this blog are probably by now used to my writing on how the track pushes me to the edge. The thing about today's workout is that it didn't happen. I was in control. Sure it was hard, but it was not at the edge. I doubt I could have pulled out a sixth rep, but I would have to have shaved a few more seconds off of each rep for me to have hit the red zone. Next time.

All totaled, 10+ miles in 73:18.

1-2-3. . . 5-6-7!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

More Delco

Rain this morning, so I started working at 6 and took a break around 9 to go run. A good idea, for by then it was clear and sunny and mild.

Ran the same route I first ran a few Saturdays back that takes me by the Lansdowne Sycamore. This route also encompasses the future McCleary-Nike track and a little cross-country stretch along Cobbs Creek that leads past horse stables, over Cobbs Creek, and into Delaware County. As I made my approach to Lansdowne - turning right from Union Ave onto LaCrosse Ave - I already saw the tree from a few blocks away, and the closer I got the more magnificent it became. Truly an awesome tree.

My iPod, in contrast, will not last 300 years. I doubt it will last to next month. The only way I could get new stuff on it today was to reconfigure it and lose all of my old stuff. Not a big deal, as I don't keep anything on it that I don't have elsewhere, and actually a good thing as it will force me to put new stuff on there. But a telling sign.

So the only playlist that is currently on it is a compilation of running anthems that I quickly put together this morning. The prerequisites for being on this list is that, upon hearing the song, I must involuntary pick up my pace and, when it ends, that I have the urge to hit the repeat button. So I loaded them up and took off. It was wonderful to hear all these songs, some of which were staples from training cycles as far back as Boston 2003 and Grandmas 2004.

As a result, my time for this 10.5 mile loop was a brisk 71.18. Also got a second workout on tap for this evening - salsa dancing.

I'd divulge the song list, but I'm burning it onto a cd as a surprise for a friend. So keep it to yourselves.

I'll post the songs next week if I remember. Hell, I'd be happy to send anyone else a cd with them if you leave me a comment.