Seebo's Run

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

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Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Loneliness & Solitude

Tried out a new route this morning. The first part took me south on Rt. 420, down Gov. Printz Blvd. through Essington, Tinicum and back up Bartram Ave to 84th St. Temps in the mid twenties and dark, with a tail wind turning on me at Bartram Ave and my ears registered the wind chill. Running in the cold and dark on strange terrain was a lonely experience. GPB was the main drag through Tinicum, and I could run in the middle of the road past still closed shops and houses that were still dark. It got to that point where I was far enough out not to return but still aware of the long, uncertain distance left. I thought of the Dylan line, “They say the darkest hour is right before the dawn.” That captured the feeling perfectly.

On 84th past Lindbergh the shoulder all of a sudden disappeared and I was in the road facing multiple lanes of commuter traffic. No way this was going to work. Fortunately my brain was not as frozen as my ears. I quickly judged the oncoming dawn and happily decided it was light enough to turn back down Lindbergh, where the north entrance to the Tinicum Wildlife Refuge lay about a block away. With stars beginning to fade, I really felt fortunate as my timing was perfect here. I hit the trail by the Nature Center as the sun was coming up over waters skimmed with ice. Spooked deer outkicking me with white tails in the air, hawks, herons, cardinals, and other assorted little birds flying over and around me. Loneliness here turned into solitude. I could take the adversity handed me and turn it to my favor. My pace increased with my strength as I headed back.

Call it 10.5, conservatively by the run time, in 89:05. A bit longer than the 8 that was on my agenda for today.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Old In-Out

If I ever had the fuel to burn on a good track workout, today was the day.

Coach GP obliged by putting this on today's lunch menu:

Tuesday Track: Warm up and strides as described. (4miles)

8 laps sustained in and out pace:

Meaning run the odd laps @ 1.15 i.e laps 1,3,5,7

Even laps @ 1.30 i.e laps 2,4,6,8

It is key that you run each lap at the right pace. Keep the 15 seconds per lap differential, that is 1 minute per mile differential. This is an advanced and skillful workout working a change of pace and forcing your body to recover on the move.

Jog an 800

4 x 150; followed by a 250 jog (this begins in the middle of the turn) in 26-25 secs, smooth and relaxed. The recovery is a super easy 250 to take you back to the same starting position each time.

2 mile cooldown.

I used to describe a track workout as being like a journey to the edge of an abyss. Lately they've been voyages into the unknown, as I have no idea going into them how I'm going to do on these strange reps.

After going through the preliminary miles, the first challenging stuff were the "in-outs". I like that name. This workout is designed to get used to changing gears in mid-pace. The idea is to go all out at 75 secs for one 400, and then recover, on the fly at a relatively fast at 90 secs, before dropping it back to 45. Eight laps go like this.

I've tried to do 75 second 400s with a regular recovery and never could sustain that speed. Today my ins and outs came in at 74; 90; 74; 90; 75; 91; 74; 92. This workout was right about where I was at. I really had to push to get that last "in" in, and I went two seconds over on the last "out" more due to a mental lapse than anything else. Its funny how when you go 75, a 90, which is still a 6 minute pace, feels like a jog. I leaned into this last one as a recovery a bit too much in the early part of the lap and meant to speed things up but my mind wandered and I never did push to get it back down to 90. Not a big deal, the main thing I'm psyched about is how I nailed those 75s and how I was able to push myself to get them. My innate sense of pacing returned to me today, as I was pretty good at judging what felt to be 75 and 90 paces. 75-speed is pretty much goal pace, and I've got a ways to go for that, but nonetheless today bodes well.

After an 800 recovery, I went into phase 2. 150 is basically a sprint. I didn't know how fast 25-26 translated into. So for the first one I went all out and hit a 22, then 24; 25; and a 24. These were easy. I guess they simulate kicking towards the end of a race, but I never felt winded and the distance wasn't long enough to where I was sucking for air afterwards. As soon as I ran that first 22 and saw how I felt I knew the rest of them would be cake. More of a sprint exercise than a VO2 max type workout.

It feels good to kick ass on the track, to turn this beast into the wind. I'm riding on that high right now as I prep for my class this evening. Then I just want to get to bed early tonight.

9.5 miles, total elapsed time 73:17.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Day Off

Today Coach GP said to cross train. I said I'd rather take the day off and he said go for it. That's why I get a coach, so I can take days off without feeling guilty about it. Its part of the training.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Lead Footed

On tap for today was this workout:

10 mile progression run at these paces:


Went down to Lloyd Hall, behind the Art Museum, and took Kelly Drive for five marked miles and turned around and went back. The drives are good for this run because the quarter miles are marked, so I'm getting almost constant data on pace. I did the same thing I've been doing on paced workouts, going out too fast. Typical pattern on these miles is that I went out too fast on the first quarter and then tried, with mixed success, to reign in my pace for the rest of the mile. My splits were:

8:06; 7:53; 7:58; 7:36; 7:09; 6:59; 6:56; 6:28; 6:14; 6:56. Prescribed time for the total 10 miles was 73 minutes, I ran it in 72:18.

This run also came at the end of a difficult morning. There's a sadness and anxiety in the air. Its mornings like these when I realize how much I need to run. And I'm not alone in this sentiment. It was good to be out, its mild and grey outside, and I had to make myself look out on the Schuylkill, with its bridges and placid water, and take it in. We complain how tired we are of running the Drives, and this morning I realized how spoiled we are in this. On runs like this I don't think I could ever get tired of that loop. Looking back, I just wish I hadn't obsessed like I did about my pacing.

When I got back to my car I saw that I had a message from GP. I called back and it was nice to have someone to debrief the run with as soon as it was done. What he said helped, telling me not to sweat the pacing, that this was a morning where things just felt fast. And he was right, the run, not too challenging for me on any day, seemed a no brainer today. And he agreed with my self analysis from yesterdays run and promised me there'd more of the same kind of workouts to work out my pacing.

Got to embrace that sadness, hold it tight and do what's got to be done.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

That Last One

I told Rebecca a few days ago that this coaching I arranged was my way to pamper myself. Things are still hard for me going into the new year, I'm expecting that giving a little focus to my running will be a welcome diversion. But who, I was thinking today, pampers himself by running down to the track to do this:

warm up 2 miles, the opposite direction,....nice and easy.....then 8 laps of strides, the correct way in the middle lanes......this is where you run the turns at a slow jog and then accelerate the straights for 100 meters at the pace that you will be running the workout at....

and then:

10 x 200 – pace smooth at 37.5.

Recoveries are a jog in a circle after each one in these elapsed times:

1) 60 secs 2) 60 secs 3) 50 secs 4) 50 secs 5) 40 secs 6) 40 secs 7) 30 secs 8) 30 secs 9) 20 secs.

Jog an 800 super easy.

and finally:

1 x 2400 at these paces: 90-90-87-87-86-72

2 mile cooldown.

Note the seventy-two in red. That would be the number looming over my head for the whole workout. That's the make or break mark.

Did the first two miles from the casa down to Franklin Field with Kevin F. I enjoyed the company, but it was mostly parallel play as he had his workout and I had mine.

Warm up went fine, although it was long. I was anxious about the 200s. I never did a 200m interval workout and I had no idea what that pace would feel like.

The 200s, with the prescribed recoveries, went like this:

33.6; 36.8; 36.9; 37.1; 37.5; 36.5; 38.0; 36.1; 37.3; 36.2

Just like on Thursday I panicked on the first one and sprinted out as fast as I could. To my surprise, then relief, then consternation, I came out way ahead. I thought I'd pay for it. The rest of the intervals were fine, if a little fast. I was relieved to see that I could hang, and I wanted to hit the times and was afraid to slow up to the point where I risked going too slow. By the last one, with the 20 second recovery, I was sucking air but I could have done another one or two. So far so good, I thought as I jogged the 800 recovery.

The 2400 progression went like this, for each of the 400s:

80.5; 89.5; 85.1; 89.4; 84.7; 74.2

The earlier laps really just set up the last 400. Working backwards, I missed the target time on the last 400 by 2 seconds. This was after going as fast as I can. But looking at the splits it was the other five 400s that lost it for me. My pacing was so off. For the first one I thought I was going at a modest pace but incredibly I went about 10 seconds too fast. This is obviously something I'm going to have to work on. I pride myself for having a good sense for pace, but I didn't have it here. The second lap was good, the third again too fast, the fourth too slow after I lost my concentration after going out too fast on the first 200, and the fifth too fast again. It was a strange feeling, where a 6 minute mile pace just felt really slow; like I completely lost perspectitve. With the energy I wasted on the front reps I could have shaved off two seconds in the last rep.

So the first part of the workout went well and the second part did not. I'm pissed because I really would like to have hit that 72. But I take solace in that it wasn't my fitness but my pacing that let me down. I can fix my pacing. And I think if I learned to relax that would help me. Today was a trip into unfamiliar territory, so maybe that was to be expected. So I can't say it was a bad workout, but I sure would like to have hit that last one.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Ol' 55

One of those days that I didn't want to get out of bed. Just wanted to lie there forever.

Finally made it up and checked the temps. 10 degrees out. Now I just want to stay inside forever.

But I did the next best thing and dressed warmly. And yes, that includes long pants (I won't go into the rest of the gear). I finally got outside and it was indeed the coldest morning of the season sofar. And there was a dusting of snow on the ground, enough to exercise extra caution.

These conditions set the tempo for the morning. Relaxed and just plodding forward to get the run done. A course through Delaware County, starting off slow with my eyes peeled to the ground in front of me and slowly looking up as I started to warm up. Too cold for the iPod, but songs popped into my head nonetheless.

Now the sun's coming up, I'm riding with Lady Luck, freeway cars and trucks,
Stars beginning to fade. (Tom Waits)

7.7 miles in 71:05. I know I went slow, but that seems too slow.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Day One

Had a long talk with my new coach last night. To make it short, I liked what I heard and from today through to March 17 I am now training for a fast 5k. More than that, it is looking to attain one of my two lifetime running goals - to go sub 16 minutes in a 5k.

So the upshot of my conversation with GP last night was this workout - warmup run out to the Drives and then, on MLK, do 4 tempo miles in 6:40; 6:20; 5:50 and split the last one so I do the first half in 3:00 and the second half in 2:30. I haven't done any speed since I ran the Rothman 8k back in November, and especially that 2:30 half spooked me. Even on a good day of running 800s on the track I have a hard time hitting 2:30. But that is a 5 minute pace, which is about what I have to hit to go sub 16. And not only hit, but be "comfortable" with and sustain. So me and 5-minute pace might as well get acquainted.

Why is speed work such a mental thing for me. I wanted to get out of the house by 7, I didn't get out till 7:20 but when I left the kitchen was cleaned up and the living room was straightened up. Both needed it, but they are things I usually only do out of procrastination or to prepare for company. I took it slow on the run down to the Art Museum, it seemed to take forever to get there and the upcoming tempo run seemed a flash point for the various anxieties currently residing in my head.

I started out and panicked, running fast enough, and with no concept of pace, so that the first quarter clocked in at 1:27 (should have been a 1:40). That was a relief, however, as I could slow it down but the second quarter came in at 1:35 - what felt slow was still too fast. I adjusted things so that the second half of this first mile was about on pace, with a time of 6:21 for the first mile. Once I'm on pace I'm usually pretty good at keeping the pace, and mile two came in at exactly 6:20. I was much more relaxed and even feeling this was easy. On mile 3 I picked things up a bit, a tad too fast even, and it clocked in at 5:48. The last mile was now here. First half was an easy 2:58 and then I was off to the races. I went all out but still felt like I was holding back a bit, I had no idea what my pace was. First quarter was a 1:17, 2 seconds over pace and my heart sank, I knew I wouldn't make that up. But I pushed, hard, and when I hit the hash line I felt I gave it all. I was nauseous and sucking air, feeling worse than I've felt after some races. But the watch said 2:37. Second quarter was slower than the first.

And I think right there is my fear. That I would go all out, give it my best, and still fall short. In this case it wasn't even close. Tried to do a 2:30 and the best I could get is a 2:37. But like alot of fears, once they are realized they are not so bad. Hey, all that tells me is that it is early in training and I got work to do. I wouldn't need a bloody coach if it came easy.

So I am okay. I also again have the cathartic feeling I'd have last fall after hard workouts, that I left more than sweat and shoe rubber on the course, like I've cleared out some of the junk in my head. For now.

My goal is to get to bed early tonight. And I'm so looking forward to it.

10.5 miles with four tempo - 6:21; 6:20; 5:48; 2:58/2:37 - in 81:33.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Its 6:20. I just got back to the office after my run.

I got up at 5:30 this morning and had an attack of conscience. I had to get in a draft of a chapter I am working on and so instead of lacing up my shoes I fired up my computer and started working on it. I said that when I got done with it I would reward myself with a run. It was about 4 by the time I got done. Its a dreary feeling, thinking everyone else is getting done with their day and I'm starting my run. The sun is starting to go down, and I know that when I'm done with my run I'm going right back to the office to catch up on the other stuff I needed to get done today.

Well, given that I might as well make it a long run. And I might as well swing by the tree. So I headed out to Lansdowne on the same loop I did on Sunday (check there for course map link). The tree was there waiting, like it has been for the past 300 years. I'm happy to see it, and then the time is so short before I'm leaving again, running past it and wishing I could spend more time there.

Going down Lansdowne Ave. I pack up my iPod and put it in my little shorts pocket. Just can't take to listen to music today, the sounds are filling my head and making me claustrophobic. So for the rest of the run I'm alone with my thoughts. They keep me good company.

My calves ache and I'm very tired, but I try to keep at least a faster pace than I did Sunday. But its hard. By the time its time to turn south on 63rd and Woodland I just want to go straight and get the run done. But I turn anyway, I always con myself into doing it by telling myself that going against my will builds mental toughness. And I'm probably right. It was tough running that last bit in the dark with headlights coming up against me on Lindbergh Blvd.

Thoughts of perfection were rattling around in my head. The chapter I sent off today was less than perfect. I wanted to keep working on it yet couldn't. I have a really hard time sending off something I feel is less than my best, but today I had no choice, I could only get it to the point of being good enough. And that's what my run felt like today. Good enough. I guess.

But I got it in and I'll reward myself now by walking over to Gold Star Pizza for a big big Italian hoagie. Given that its then back to the salt mines, its the least I can do.

With the USP add-on the loop was a little longer than Sunday's loop. And a little faster. 12.5 miles in 99:01.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Long Nine

Its good to be back after a little unplanned two day hiatus.

Sunday I ran but didn't get to blog it. I won't go into detail since it is ancient history now but I went past the Lansdowne Sycamore and south on Lansdowne Ave. but instead of going out to McDade I took an earlier left on Baily and blazed a course on the streets there that eventually let me out at Church St. and Cobbs Creek Parkway. Then instead of making that long countdown of numbered streets heading northeast on Woodland, I took 63rd St. farther south to Lindbergh, and returned like I would from the airport (and thereabouts). This stretched a 10 mile route out to 12 miles (gmapped here), giving me 57 for the week and a lingering underachieving feeling.

Yesterday I didn't get out to run. I won't go into details, but it did nothing for my underachieving feeling. But I'm already feeling like I'm retreating from my high mileage goals and ready to redirect into my fast 5k mindset. I'm set to commit to having GP coach me, the only thing that's making me slow down a bit is that it is a bit expensive. I figure its a good idea anyway to talk with him over the phone before committing, just to make sure we click and so I can pick his brain further about what I'll be doing. Again, stay tuned. After a good start, yesterday was blah and my jonesing for a run didn't help that mood. Rebecca mentioned, in an offhand way, that she heard mentioned that third Mondays in January are the most depressing day of the year (more here). This actually did alot to lift my spirits; I suppose misery loves company.

So today is a new day. Met up with Deirdre and we ran an Acme loop - 34th St and Lebanon hill versions. It was one of those mornings when I became all to conscious about how long 9 miles actually is. As little as four or five years ago 5 miles was my bread and butter distance, now I'm dissatisfied if I get less than 10 in on any workout. Usually I think my tolerance for distance has just gone up as my mileage increased, but today I actually thought, at about one or two miles in, about how much longer I had to go this morning. Doing that, I was toast mentally for the rest of the run. That is no reflection on Deirdre's company - conversation was good as we talked a bit about stuff she's got going on and then I got to bounce my thoughts on my coaching arrangements off of her. But there are some days when nine miles is just, well, nine miles.

And I know I'm whining here, but its my blog and I can do that if I want. So I'll say I feel like I'm running these days but not like I'm training. Or, like I dwelled on in Thursday's blog entry, I don't feel like I'm running to any place.

This morning's run was actually 9.5 miles, in 78:29.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Pimping this Ride

Before I get all into my self absorbed little world I want to proudly announce that Kevin my roomie ran a 4:29 indoor mile today at the Hartshorne Elite Masters Mile in Ithaca. This is huge and, meter for meter, is way better than any performance I've ever put in. Maybe I should start listening to Iron Maiden.

And while Kevin was getting his mojo working I was sleeping in. It was a beautiful morning to do so, with the light coming through the window rendering the whole room radiant and leaving me lying there peaceful and happy.

While I felt no guilt at all doing it, it didn't add any miles to the log. And this would be on top of yesterday, when I didn't run at all due to much more mundane circumstances - I had to make a work deadline and just couldn't justify squeezing in a run (yes folks, it was that tight). And then this afternoon I went to the Mid-Atlantic USATF's annual awards luncheon, where I received the Long Distance Running Committee's Outstanding Master's Male Athlete Award, presented by masters running legend Norm Green. It was a nice luncheon - good food and good company. I received many congratulations and almost as many questions as to how my training was going now. I dutifully answered the questions, all the while getting more aware of not running since Thursday. Then getting word of Kevin's performance while I was sitting on my, um, laurels was the final push.

So when I got home this evening I immediately put on my shoes and headed to USP's athletic center. I hopped on the treadmill and got in as many miles as I could before they closed for the evening. On running the half mile out there I felt waves of emotion like I would get during the fall training. I was on a quest again (more on that in a minute), and I was working towards it. All that needed to be done was to insert Rocky theme music about there. That fist pumping quickly stopped after I got on the treadmill, where I was faced with training at its drudgiest - a long treadmill workout. Got in ten on the hamster wheel and another mile out and back.

More on my quest. March 17, Adrenaline 5k. I'm there and I will break 16 minutes. I can visualize it now, it will obsess me for the next two months. And to pimp this ride, I've enlisted the services of GP, Gerard Pearlman, to coach me to this race. GP comes highly recommended both from my roomate and from Deirdre. One of the key selling points of his approach is targeting workouts which will increase my comfort zone in running at faster paces. He's got other ideas I don't quite understand yet, but I'll make that leap of faith. Training for a 5k will be way different from what I'm used to, and hopefully it will be just what I need to shake things up to improve my running in longer distances as well. So stay tuned, I'll be coming back to this frequently in upcoming entries.

11 miles in 83:54.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Nowhere Man

An excerpt from an email written by a friend of a friend that was forwarded to me. It describes a conversation between the author and her toddler age daughter:

. . . Yes, Ellen is so big I just can't believe it. Full blown conversationalist. The other day we were talking about running and then saw a group of runners. She asked me where they were going. I asked her where she thought they were going. She deadpanned, "Well, most runners run to Costco."

This gave me something to think about as I headed out on my second run today. Where do I go when I run? It quickly turned into something like a zen koan, kind of like the sound of one hand clapping. 99% of the time I come back to where I started, meaning that I go nowhere. But I had to have gone somewhere since I'm a different person when I finished than when I started.

But then, conversely, people who say they are "running" out to the Costco never actually run to there, do they. So what's up with that?

Very confusing, unless I suppose you are two years old. Ellen needs to enjoy this time, when she understands it all, because its downhill from there.

That's the kind of run this was today, very cerebral. I took this route from USP this afternoon. It was snowing out and I had Matthew Ryan's new cd on the iPod, but I wasn't really listening. Instead I was just thinking deep thoughts that now strangely have left me as I try to write about them. Mostly mixing the grey of the day in with the grey of my mood.

Also ran this morning before work on this route - Cobb's Creek (Pine St. out) to Mt. Moriah and back down Kingsessing. Weather wasn't as cold as yesterday, so reverted back to the long sleeve t-shirt. Highlight of the run was going under a tree where a red tailed hawk was perched as I was whistling through the graveyard.

6.5 miles this morning in 53:05; 6.5 miles this afternoon in 52:42.

Well, gotta run.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

First Day of Winter

It was cold out there this morning, with temps in the high teens and a wind. It felt like the party was over. Despite it being cold I felt we've been fortunate in having had the warmer weather for so long.

My usual rule of thumb is that if the temps are in the double digits than its warm enough for shorts. I try to focus more on keeping my core warm, as if I can do that usually my extremities will feel warm as well. My favorite way to do this, when temps get below 30, is to run in an oversized hooded sweatshirt. There will be a layer of air between me and the hoodie that stays warm and which I find cozy. I like a hoodie with long sleeves that I can tuck my hands into and where they can gradually emerge, like a turtle, as they become accustomed to the cold. I also like the hood to put over my head if my ears get cold, but its gotta get pretty cold for this to happen.

So that is my approach to dressing for cold weather running. I didn't follow this today, however, and wore some old knit gloves and a tuquey thing with a USATF patch on it. I did it because I honestly didn't remember how the cold felt and there was something comforting about the hat and gloves. I managed to stay, well, I won't say warm but rather comfortable except for one certain extremity which I'll pay more attention to keeping warm next time (which would be tomorrow).

Deirdre came by this morning and had to be back in Center City by 7:15. To accommodate this we ran the Acme loop (via Upland hill) backwards before hanging a left and crossing the Girard Avenue bridge to go back across Lemon Hill and the Schuylkill Bike Path. If the weather threw me a bit, running a very familiar loop backwards threw me doubly. The traffic volume, the direction of the hills, the degrees dark and light all get inverted when the course goes backwards to the extent that its like an entirely new course. The only constant was the sun rising out by Overbrook high, but even there we ran down Upland and towards the Center City skyline, which let us enjoy the view more than we would have had we gone the usual direction.

11 miles in 84:21. Calves still feel sore, like there is muscle development going on to catch up to level of effort required. This is strange as my mileage hasn't been exceedingly high, maybe its because, under the influences of folks like Ian, Deirdre and Kevin, I've been hitting my training runs faster. But something is indeed going on.

Also now committing to my first target races of the Spring. The Lehigh Valley Half Marathon, formerly known as the Runner's World Half Marathon, on April 29. Should be a nice little road trip. I'm also shooting to do the Adrenaline 5k on March 17 as my attempt at a sub 16 time. I'll write more on all this as they get closer.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Back on the Horse

Second Tuesday in a row this morning I ran with Ian, so you can check out his blog and get a parallel take on how he saw this morning's run. We headed out west to Cobbs Creek and did the Woodland loop, going down to 39th St. to get in about 10.5 miles. Both the conversation and the pace made the run go fast.

Today seemed to be a catfest. Seemed to see as many of them as I saw squirrels the other day. The first one was dark and it came out of the dark to cross the street right in front of us. I was a bit, shall we say, concerned because it was black, Ian assured me that it was grey. I guess the events over the next seven years will bear out what color it was. A few more cats after that and it felt like we were in a Harry Potter movie.

I also got to complain to Ian about my disappointment at "only" running in the low 70s, mileage-wise, last week. Its a difficult thing to explain, because on one hand its not really a problem but on the other hand it is. He got that.

He also put a positive spin on my DNR yesterday. He suggested that this reflected my priorities, and that maybe these priorities, with running not on the top, were exactly as they should be. When put that way, my not running yesterday feels like a good thing.

So all in all, I'm back on the horse. Still not getting in the miles that I'd like but, to paraphrase the Stones: I get what I need.

10.5+ miles in 74:46.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Long Hard Slog

Seems like I'm always the last to find out, but Dave Alvin and James McMurtry are both playing at World Cafe Live on this coming Friday. I'd camp out for tickets to see either one of them, and to have both on the same bill is really exciting. To make it even more exciting, I got me a really hot date to go with. And I'm so there.

I kick off with this because I proceeded to have me a Dave Alvin fest on my iPod during todays run. Got out the door after the kids left at 11 with a belly full of Nutella crepes for energy. I set to go out to Green Lane in Manayunk, but to get out and back in the shortest ways I can find. I ended up running this route. I did Dave Alvin in chronological order, starting with his Blasters stuff, which is 80's new wave/"roots" rock stuff and real upbeat. This, combined with running into a gaggle of Penn XC/Track boys that I just had to reel in and overtake, got my testosterone pumping and had me hitting 7:15 miles on Kelly Drive. Kept this up till I got to Manayunk, where I crossed the Schuylkill into Montgomery County and hit the north Belmont hills. Here I started hitting Alvin's recent solo stuff, which is quite a bit more mellow, at about the same time I realized that this set of three hills are, meter for meter, the most difficult hills around here. At least this morning they were. When I got done with them and crossed back into Philadelphia, I just kept heading down Belmont and easing into a more mellow groove, both aurally and running wise. On todays route I ran Belmont from start to finish.

Somehow an odd run today. I had hoped for a few more miles, but will settle for the 15 that I got out of this course. It ultimately seemed like a long hard slog. Nobody told me that there'd be runs like these, but then there are some things best figured out by one's self. This gives me 73 miles for the week, acceptable but ideally I'd like to be getting 80 mile weeks in here. Anyway, my mind is in a funk here, so I better sign off before this becomes more apparent than it probably already is.

15 in 1:50:47.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Squirrelly Morning

Drizzly but mild this morning as I headed out with my roomie. We started out quiet, surly even into the early daylight and down Baltimore Avenue, which is deliciously devoid of traffic at this time of weekend morning.

Through Penn and into Powelton, we encounter a woman in a faux tropical cat print skirt and matching jacket, obviously just heading home from last night. She makes to run with us despite being in boots with ridiculously high heels. In those shoes. . . I don't think so.

After that we livened up a bit, and spent the Fairmount Park miles analyzing the pros and cons of David Beckham going to the Galaxy. By then I realized my legs didn't have it this morning. This came mostly from my calves, which started out tight and never really loosened up. It also might come from the fact that I actually got alot of sleep last night, and my body doesn't know what to do with that.

Lots of squirrels about this morning. There's several different kinds of squirrels - the traditional grey, the red, and the occasional black one. My favorite are the red ones. One particularly intrepid squirrel was climbing the branches of one tree that took it over 47th St. and then took a flying leap to land in some branches of a tree on the other side of the street to create a sort of squirrel-skyway.

We did the Acme loop (34th and Lebanon version) and then I added on an additional 39th St. loop to get 11+ miles. Main reason I did the latter is because I really didn't want to. Gotta stretch and build that mental muscle. Total time 92:12.

Friday, January 12, 2007


I haven't felt a Friday like this in awhile, when all the tiredness of the week accumulates and hangs on my shoulders as I descend the steps and head out to run. The only way I make it out is knowing that it is Friday and I can rest up. I promise myself a nap after the run but by now I know better that I am actually going to keep that promise.

Another thing that got me out the door is that, for the third time in the last four days, I had someone to run with. Deirdre came out west to run; this is the first time I've seen her since before CIM. This meant that we passed a good chunk of the run with my recounting my CIM experience. The nice thing about running is that there is time to do this, so I don't have to skimp on the details and thus started with the ill-fated flight out and went right through to post-race jacuzzi. It was fun to relive that fairy tale.

Weather took a turn for the mild again this morning, which I can tell because my fingers feel nimble and warm as I type this.

Cobbs Creek loop out via Locust and back via Woodland. 9 miles in 66:47. Last run standing between me and the weekend, but already got Sunday on my mind.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


This was the signature to a text I got from KJ last night, looking to get in some miles with me this morning.

He has indeed successfully defended his dissertation, which goes to show that if you run with Club West Philly long enough, you too will have people calling you "Doctor." 100% results sofar.

Another chilly morning on the west side. KJ and I ran out to Cobbs Creek and looped around through Mt. Moriah cemetary and onto Kingsessing Ave. The sunrise hit just as we were whistling through the graveyard, and it silhouetted the gravestones on the hills. Instead of a military cemetary, with the gravestones lined up by both row and diagonal, in Mt. Moriah the headstones were more undisciplined - clumped and clustered and cockeyed - like a crowd. This inspired a discussion about zombies.

My fingers are still stiff from cold as I type this.

Folks are starting to ask me about spring marathons, and I need to get thinking about this. This is a good thing, a fun thing. In the dead of winter the beast within is awakening.

Ran to 39th St. to add on a little extra. Total on this course is 9 miles in 68:12.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Chilly Like A Dog

Temperatures are suddenly back down to normal - probably low 30s. Still warm enough to be in shorts, but now wearing those long sleeve t's, with sleeves long enough to just tuck my hands in, that I've accumulated from various marathons. My '02 Boston shirt is now getting ratty just to the point of where I like it.

Broke my resolution and didn't get to bed until 1:30 last night/this morning, predictably it was hard to get out of bed. That and tending to the kids this morning gave me a limited window to run. Turned out to have about an hour, so ran the Sweetbriar loop. This gave me the chance to
see Center City against the barely glowing false dawn.

I'm just logging this for the record, it is not a concern yet but at several points in the run I had a mild but noticeable stabbing pain on the front sole of my right foot. Will monitor this.

8 miles in 61:52.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Sliding Doors

Met up with Ian and his friend Mattea (sp?) this morning in what may be a regeneration of Club West Philly. The morning was a bit chillier but still comfortable as I initiated them into the CWP ritual otherwise known as the Acme loop. Mattea actually looped around on Parkside when we hit Belmont, and Ian and I kept going, blathering about the usual stuff, which means everything, and fawning on another gorgeous sunrise seen through chain link fence and barbed wire by Overbrook High.

Towards the end of our run by 49th St. a pickup truck comes barrelling out of a driveway maybe two yards in front of us. If he came out five seconds later (or we were five seconds faster) we would have been flattened. So that tarrying a little at the Lancaster Ave. intersection or slowing down for the sunrise may have saved us. The conversation then went to happenstances of fate and how little acts and happenings proceed to lead to unexpected returns.

Ran a 39th St. loop after leaving Ian to put me over 10 miles for the morning. Might tack on a little afternoon run as well. 10+ miles in 85:53.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Stormy Monday

They call it Stormy Monday. . .

Rain started during last night's Eagles playoff game and has continued unabated. I really really really pushed myself to get out the door and actually made it. Despite the rain its still pretty mild out, so I just put a hooded rain pullover over my usual cap, shorts and t-shirt. As it often is with these things, the hardest step was the first one out the door. The rain wasn't that heavy, although despite the rain protection I did eventually get as soaked as I would have without it.

Did the Art Museum loop this morning, partly because although I was reasonably confident the rain wouldn't melt me, I didn't want to push it. Also, I had to get kids off to school and needed to get home early enough to do that. I'll probably do some more miles on the hamster wheel later.

I usually don't count the time since a particular race, but today is three months to the day since the Delaware Distance Classic. Some of you may know why I mention this. And thinking of it brings some of the sunshine from that day into this grey gloomy one.

6.5 in 56:02.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Sunday Noon

Headed west into DelCo. Someday I'll turn right on Chester Pike and just keep heading that direction.

But not today. The Lansdowne Sycamore was as far west as I got today, and as far west as I needed to go. Running by it always reenergizes me, and these days I can use all the energy I can get.

Fueled this morning by a belly full of Nutella crepes, reputed to have performance enhancing qualities. Music was Canadian with Blue Rodeo and Cowboy Junkies on the iPod. And the weather continued to be a hue of June.

11 miles today gives me 71 for the week. Not bad for six days work, but I want to do better. Ran this loop in 80:20.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Is is June?

Never made it out to run yesterday. I did get some cross-training in, maybe the equivalent of a 5 mile run, but I can't count that in my log.

So I was ready to run hard today. Having it be sunny and in the 60's helped. Ran out to meet Ian at the Art Museum and we caught up on about six weeks of not seeing each other. Ian's been training for a fast 5k, so he's been focusing on speed over distance. So it was a fast 8 and a half round the Drives (the eight measured miles went by in 52:47). Curiously, we both yapped back and forth for the whole run, which is what the "experts" say is the recommended pace for a nice leisurely run. I got him caught up on everything from California on, he came back with his recent trip to Boulder and his piece in the current issue of Runners World. Pick up the issue or check it out here. Being deep in conversation made me forget the pace we were going at until we stopped and I realized how much my legs ached.

When we got back around to the Art Museum, the Philly Runners Saturday morning group had assembled and I got to catch up with some of my peeps there as well. Most importantly, got to congratulate John in person on his recent engagement. We'll see if a ball and chain slows John down any. John and Heather met on a Philly Runner group run, which would give this group a better meet-marriage ratio than the dating services. One more reason to run (or not to).

I ran a bit up MLK with these folks. Out of the five in the front pack that I was running with: John, Craig, Kevin, Stevus & Ben, the first three will run the Boston Marathon for the first time in April. I was getting all excited, the way only a geek can, in telling them about all the wonderful things that lay in store for them in running their first Boston.

Then I turned off at Sweetbriar and headed home through West Philly. I realized now how beat up my legs felt, but this failed to put a dent in the exuberent buzz in my head. A glorious morning all around.

15.5 miles in 1:52:16.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Overbrook Sunrise

Out into the cold dark again this morning. Did the Acme loop, which I haven't run in ages: down thr0ugh Penn's campus to Powelton to Mantua through Fairmount Park to Wynnewood to Overbrook through Carroll Park and back to the UC. Indeed a city of neighborhoods.

Lyle Lovett on the iPod this morning. His subdued country twanging didn't quite fit in with the gritty Mantua streets I was running through, but this morning I was into the dissonance. Back to the allopathic I suppose.

I tried to figure out the precise moment the darkness ends. Its strange. I'm running through the dark for awhile and at one point I realize that its getting light. So at what point is it light and not dark anymore? I always seem to miss that threshold.

And then I turned off of the Lebanon hill onto 57th St. and right into a beautiful sunrise over Center City in the distance. All swirly pink-orangy clouds. I've commented in the past how, from a distance, Overbrook High looks like the Fortress of the Flying Monkeys from The Wizard of Oz. Today I was by OHS and against the sunrise Center City looked like the Emerald City (only it wasn't emerald). A beautiful beautiful sight.

No need for speed this morning. Feels strange running this loop alone; Club West Philly, I miss you.

Tacked on 6 extra minutes to the Acme loop (34th & Lebanon version), 10+ miles in 87:12.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Fast Train

Got to bed earlier last night and got up earlier this morning. Cold and dark out, it'll be like this for awhile now. Went out and ran my old nemesis - the BN loop. We had a truce this morning however: I wouldn't try to spank it and it wouldn't try to break me. Its not that time yet.

But this run nearly did break me. Not from hammering the pace or hitting the hills hard but from mile after slow mile. Last night after work I went to the gym for a second workout, pounding the treadmill and knocking out 4.5 miles in 29 flat. This morning my legs weren't going to do anything but slow and steady, and that is a hard pace to maintain on MLK drive - a desolate place on a dark January morning.

Really had to push to keep going, and feel a little better now for it. Took Solomon Burke with me on the iPod. Although some of my pharmacy colleagues at USP would stongly disagree, some aches and pains require a homeopathic approach.

13.5 miles in 110:57.

And you keep on moving on, to the sound of the wheels,
Deep down in your heart, do you really know how you feel?
Then you start breaking down, going through the pain,
Keep on moving on a fast train, moving on a fast train.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Resolution Starts Now

If I have to make a running related resolution, it should be to get to bed earlier. Over the last months I've fallen in a rut where I stay up doing stuff till right around 1 am. It always seems to work out that way to that time. That makes it pretty hard to get up at 5:30.

Last night fell into the same pattern, and I couldn't drag myself out of bed until 6. Had to get the kids off to school this morning, so I was time limited on the back end as well. So I had 45 minutes to run, had to make the best of it. Went down to Franklin Field and looped around, and when I got back up to 47th St. I just kept heading west. Turned south on 54th St. and realized I still had extra time, so I took it all the way down to Warrington. This had me out running for 47 minutes, a good but not great workout. After my efforts over the last couple of days, an easy run was not uncalled for.

I plan, however, to get in another session this evening on the hamster wheel here at USP. If I could get in 4.5, that'll put me up to my daily quota of 10.

Sky was clear and dark black fading to lighter shades as the sun came up. The kind of sky that comes with bitter cold. The only thing missing, however, was the cold. Ain't complaining, no sir.

Had a Tori Amos mix on the iPod this morning. "Raspberry Swirl" . . . good running song, got me pounding the concrete hard to its energy. Visualizing intensity again. A new training cycle means a new set of running songs, and that'll make the mix.

5.5 miles run here, time is 47:31.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year

Starting my third year of writing this blog. Would be a fairly thick book by now.

2007 started to the sound of pouring rain. Kevin and I were supposed to run at 8, but didn't get out until 11 am, when the rain let up a bit. In the meantime I was stressing a bit. I feel like at any time I got five balls going up in the air at once, and life is juggling the balls and keeping them all in the air. This morning it felt like all five of them were about to fall on me. I did the closest thing I've done sofar to making a resolution, and that is to do something whenever I find myself stressing over this. So I wrote some (work stuff) when I otherwise would have ran. I still felt stressed and anxious.

So I went running and found myself back where I was in the summer and fall, where I had a tank full of negative energy to burn off. Running with Kevin the pace again got down to about 7 flat, and I found myself taking the run a bit more intensely than I should have. I spent some time visualizing that intensity, and applying it to bigger and better things for '07.

We ran Cobbs Creek down to Woodland and around. For good measure when we got to 43rd St. I headed down to 36th St. through Penn campus to add an additional 2 miles. Mild and drizzly, with the rain getting heavier towards the end. But no matter, I got my run in.

Sure enough, I felt better upon finishing this run. A message waiting on my phone upon my return got me feeling even better. And the rest of the day has turned out alright.

The pride I had in logging 357 miles for January 06 has now become a formidable number to beat for 07. I think that will be a theme, I'm going to have a hard time topping 06. But the year is young enough to where I'm still determined to try. But I'm going to have to get in more daily miles than the 11 I did today.

But 11 miles it is, in 78:29. Course is mapped here.

Happy New Year.