Seebo's Run

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

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Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Monday, April 30, 2007

Lehigh Valley Half Marathon

Today's a day that I feel a slave to this blog, that I need to write an entry although I've got lots of other stuff to do. So this will likely be briefer than most race reports.

That paragraph should also tell you that I didn't have a spectacular race, or else I wouldn't be so grudging in writing about it.

Actually it was one of those races where the more I thought about it, the less bad I did. And it was a very fun weekend. Rebecca and I drove up on Saturday, went to the sort of mini-expo that they had to get our numbers, and rested up and ate a pasta dinner that couldn't be beat at a little out of the way Italian place. We marveled at how it takes traveling out of town to be able to just lay around and do nothing.

The race start was outside Allen High School, home of the fighting Canaries. The course was characterized, somewhat oxymoronically, as fast with rolling hills, and the weather was sunny and a tad on the warm side. With about 4,000 runners, it was a pretty big race, but by no means huge.

This means that at the gun, the lead pack was about ten or so folks who I tucked in with. We stayed together until about the first mile (5:29) when everybody started to spread out and I fell near the back. Mile 2 read 5:20, but the effort didn't feel any different and I've stopped trusting the accuracy of mile splits. A 5:32 third mile and sofar so good. We are in the country now, with rolling hills. I overtake a guy and a group of three are in striking distance. Still strong at mile 4 (5:35) and about a half mile later there is a turnaround and we double back a bit on the course. On turning around I realize that we've been enjoying a tailwind that is now blowing in our face, and are going into a slight uphill. Suddenly I'm thinking this will be a long race.

Mile 5 is in 5:48 and I'm wondering how long I'll be able to hold that up. I distract myself by looking at the people running out as we come back. I see Rebecca looking good a bit after the 1:50 pace group and a bit before a woman running in a Wonder Woman costume. My splits get less and less wondrous, with miles 6 and 7 in 5:54 and 5:51, respectively. We are now on a dirt path through a lovely leafy area along a stream and the sudden rises and dips on the path gives the race a cross country feel in how it takes the wind out of me. I wonder how much longer I can keep up a sub 6 pace. Mile 8 is in 5:57 and I'm counting down now. 5 to go. A runner comes up from behind me now and I hold on to him for awhile to get Mile 9 in 5:43. But then there is another short rise up to a covered bridge that is emblazoned on the race medals. For me this bridge should be emblazoned on a fork - I am done. Two more runners pass me and I don't have the heart to give chase. Mile 10 was 6:08 (57:24 10 mile time) and mentally and physically I lose it. Those two runners vanish ahead of me and I sneak a peek behind me - noone to be seen. Totally alone on a woody road with precious few spectators. I miss the 11 mile marker and mile 12 come with a 13:03 2-mile split. I sneak another peek behind me and someone comes into sight. This motivates me to speed things up for the 1.1 miles, which pass in 6:43 (still a 6+ minute pace). The race finishes with one last quick uphill into a stadium and around a track. I'm rounding the final turn when I see the finish line clock turn over to 1:17 and cross the line in 1:17:11.

I just proofread my account sofar to make sure there are no traces of whining or complaining. And I promise there will be none forthcoming. Just the facts. 11th place and first masters finisher. Best post-race free massage I've ever got. First and only time I will ever eat vegetarian sausage. Rebecca finishes in 1:57 something, well ahead of Wonder Woman, and is a bit disappointed she didn't beat her last years time. But she shrugs it off and I am determined to do likewise.

And why shouldn't I? I went out perhaps a little too fast but about on pace to go for a PR (low 1:13's), and I had no reason not to. I had no idea what kind of distance shape I was in, so I went out to do well. I gambled that I was in better shape than I was, and really didn't lose much in misjudging. In slowing down I lost three places and I could have ran another minute faster and still finished the same placewise. Though I'd like to have run faster, I'd rather think that than finish faster and say to myself "what if...".

I do have one complaint. I picked up $200 for the master's win but the race people forgot to sign the check. But even there, they have until June 2 to replace it, which is when, Rebecca informed me soon after the race, we have a reservation at Buddakan toward which this money will go.

So, I learned that training for speed does not lend itself that well to distance, for me at least. A couple of 80 mile weeks would have helped a bunch in getting over that 9-mile hump. One of the pieces of advice that I have given that people have said they remember is that the easiest way to get faster is to put in more miles. I learned that all over again. But I made the choice for speed this season, and have no regrets in doing so.

Despite the massage I got yesterday, my legs still feel worse than after some marathons I've run. So I'll take it easy this week, despite the rigorous training schedule GP has laid out for me, which among other things means that blog entries will be infrequent here. And Broad Street is up next Sunday, and there will be no expectations that I will put on myself other than to enjoy a great race. Then I may take another week or two of very mellow running and gear up for Twin Cities.

The thought of many miles appeals to me. Two months from now I'll look back and wonder what I was smoking when I wrote this.

Not such a short post after all.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Fearless Heart (a.k.a. Groundhog Day)

Pouring rain this morning, decided to stay in bed. It was a good choice.

Waited out the rain and by quittin time it was dry. Laced up my shoes and went out to Tinicum - 3 miles out and 3 miles back. Out was in 23:40 and back was in 21:52. Legs felt stiff and tired starting out but seemed better as the run went on. Still, I'll be resting them from here on out until Sunday.

Weather was overcast and warm. Surroundings were wet but the trail was very navigable. There were groundhogs everywhere. Don't know what was up with that, as I haven't seen one all year and today they were present in multitudes. A red-tailed hawk was back in the usual place, and the usual smaller birds and deer were also out.

I had a mix on the iPod today to help get me psyched for Sunday. The one that struck a chord was Steve Earle's "Fearless Heart". After late March snow storms and short courses, I took comfort in this and visualized a strong outing.

Rebecca has already spent the prize money she says I'll win on dinner at Budokkan. Next time I write I'll let you know how dinner was.

A fearless heart just comes back for more

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Run by Feel

Ran out to Cobbs Creek this morning. Looking to do 7 with two 5:30 pace miles in the middle. Legs felt sore and stiff so I didn't put to much pressure on myself to take it down to 5:30. Instead, I resolved I'd go as fast as I could once I hit the Cobbs Creek bike path.

This worked out well. Weather was a little cloudy and a little chilly. I was warmed up by the time I hit Cobbs Creek and from Pine St. all the way to Mt. Moriah I just took it fast. I liked that I didn't know exactly how fast, I just ran it by feel. Easily sub 6 pace, but who knows from there.

Penn Relays distance events tonight. In case anyone is foolish enough to wonder, I'm spectating, not running. Its that once a year ritual that cures me of any notion that I'm anywhere near to being all that.

Total ended up being about 6.5 (yes, short course again) in 48:56. Hay is in the barn, I'm ready for Lehigh Valley on Sunday.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Easy Skanking

I want to thank the emails, comments, phone calls and the like that I’ve received over the past few days, first to congratulate and then to commiserate. The resounding theme is that the effort didn’t change, and that celebration of that is warranted. Its been appreciated.

Permit me just one more observation related to Saturday’s 5k. I was running this morning and it struck me how this episode is indicative of the integrity that is a basic element of this, and I suppose most, local running communities. It was the people who had the most to lose from determining that the course was short that were the most intent on verifying its legitimacy. If it isn’t legit, we pretty much don’t want any credit from it.

And now its time to move on. Easy 8 on tap today, took the Acme loop. This used to be a bread and butter loop, now I only get to run it very occasionally. It was still there, more or less unchanged. Another beautiful Spring morning to run it. And in none too much of a hurry to do so.

When I do run it when I go up the hill on 54th just before Upland I think of Paul, who me and Erin ran with during his stay at Penn in the summer of 05. He’d charge up that hill like an idiot so many times that we named the hill after him. Paul pr’d at Boston last week, running a 3:09 and ran London this past weekend, albeit none too quickly. He nonetheless made it onto the BBC coverage, which you can check out here on YouTube.

Starting to wind down for Allentown. Easy skanking; 8 miles in 66:56.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Message from Linda Turetsky of Lin-Mark, the race organizers from Saturday's Clean Air 5k:



The previously certified course map used was past 10 years old now. With the drive being repaved and new curbing -- yes it does affect the distances, it obviously affected the turn-around.

We will be requesting a new certification from the event. We do not have courses certified unless the event requests it of us. There are many, many marks from many events out on the course. Plus poles can also be moved.

#1 everyone ran the same course.

#2 the differential was probably 50 to 100 feet off.

#3 We will contact Bill Belleville, the PA Head Certifier requesting the most current 5K map for future use.

I trust this answers your course questions. You and your team mates support of the event was greatly appreciated. We also appreciate the fact that you care very much about your sport, and took the time to bring this concern to our attention.

Linda Toretsky

Now for the back story. The exuberance of running well on Saturday became dampened, simultaneously for myself and for various others, when it became apparent that everyone did well. These doubts were initially assuaged by the fact that the 5k course was USATF certified. However, some more digging revealed that this course certification was from 1995, and that certifications are only valid for 10 years. A more recent course certification for virtually the same course has the turnaround at 2 lampposts farther up than the one used at the Clean Air 5k. This is what Linda is responding to, and confirming.

The course was short and the 5k times are invalid.

This sucks. As much as I want to say its okay, its not. I set my heart on something, thought I had it, celebrated, and now its pulled away. Its a loss, with all the pain that comes with it. I find myself going about my business today only to at times remind myself that Saturday was for naught, and feel an emptiness all over again.

A piece of bad luck. No more 5k tries this year. At this point I need to move on. I was looking at marathons yesterday and see that the stars seem to be aligning for Twin Cities. Its on Columbus Day weekend, it gives me a chance to visit my friend Barry in Minneapolis, and it is the site of the USATF Masters Marathon Championships. Its not a done deal that I'm running it, but pretty damn close. After Broad Street I'll take a little break and then start gearing up.

Ran a relatively easy 8 mile progression run this morning on the Drives. My mile target times were laid out, suffice to say that I exceeded all of them by good margins. Actual mile splits were: 7:30; 7:00; 6:46; 5:52; 5:39; 5:30; 6:22; 7:48. It was good to be out running, but I wouldn't be honest if I said that the 5k fiasco wasn't hanging over me.

8.4 miles on the loop of the Drives in 55:49.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Beautiful Morning

Didn’t get around to running yesterday, so I made that my rest day and went out this morning. Wanted to get in 15 but overslept a bit so I had to settle for 11. Good thing about that is when you have your mind set on 15, then 11 seems quick.

This week will be an easy week anyway in preparation for this Sunday’s Lehigh Valley Half Marathon. I have no idea how I’ll feel for that race. GP says that speed preps for longer stuff much better than the other way around. Gotta take him at his word.

The only drawback about not running longer this morning was that it cut down the time I got to spend in what is close to perfect weather outside. Absolutely gorgeous with Spring colors everywhere.. My legs felt strong as I ran the longer version of the Strawberry Mansion Bridge loop. The three marked MLK miles clocked in at 21:29, which was pretty representative of the pace I took it at. The pace felt easy, and was facilitated by listening to a tribute album to Boozoo Chavis – a brew of driving Cajun, blues, zydeco and other stuff that’s prototypical swamp music.

I got to gloat a bit on this run as well as the MLK miles took me back on the course of Saturday’s race. Still on that high but looking ahead again.

11 miles in 83:59

The Bad and The Ugly

I love this shot. It was taken right at the 3 mile mark and we look like middle aged joggers who never should have gotten off of the couch.

No form but we are sychronized in flashing leg.

Photo credit goes to Kevin Gruenfeld. Thanks.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Clean Air 5k

Editor's Note - since writing this it has turned out that the course was short, and the race time for this was invalid. I cry about it in subsequent posts and don't really know what to do with this post except leave it up with this addendum.

My second crack at sub 16 with this race. If you've been following my blog, you would have picked up decidedly less swagger this time around than there was before the Adrenaline 5k. At A5K I missed sub 16 by 14 seconds. I didn't feel like I was in any better shape this time around and I felt the Clean Air 5k was less conducive to a fast time.

There were three reasons why I felt this. #1 - I thought the course, with the 180 degree turnaround on the out and back course, wouldn't be as fast. #2 - the field wouldn't be nearly as deep up front as A5K. #3 - I had tried to break 16 on this course 3 years ago. I had a different coach back then and, looking back, I lined up at the start with high hopes combined with really inadequate preparation to go that fast. I ended up winning the race but being really disappointed with my 16:34 time (whiny but true). There were demons that I still felt were present from that experience.

It was a beautiful day to race, sunny and perhaps a bit too hot. I drove down with Rebecca, who was also running. It was one of those races, down at the Art Museum, where everybody knows your name. Even my car insurance agent was out there. Rebecca's friend Justin was running his first race, all kinds of Philly Runners were out there - including John, Craig, and Kevin G (all not running) fresh back from Boston, and folks from PACTC, Bryn Mawr, Philly Track club, and even Team Shattered.

Ian was also there. We lined up together and he laid out our race strategy - go for a 2.5km PR. That made perfect sense to me and further lightened my mood. Bart Borghuis was there and would go out way ahead of us, Ryan Walsh was there who I might be able to give a race to, and Ian.

Gun sounds and Ian takes off with the usual kids who bolt up front. I curse him but remember our pact and stick with him. A headwind is blowing as I successively sneak up behind two runners and decide they are too slow to draft off. Ian's tucked in behind me and several others seem to be following me as well. Bart is way out in front and Ryan has about a 10 second lead on us; neither of them would be in catching distance for the rest of the race.

Mile 1 passes in 5 flat and behind me Ian exclaims "I never thought I'd see that." I save my breath as I scare myself by how good I feel. Ian then pulls ahead of me and takes over pacing duties. We are working together here perfectly - like Geb and Bekele (or maybe more like Ricky Bobby and Cal Norton Jr). A bit after the turnaround I slingshot into the lead again and Ian hangs on. The cheers come regularly now for both of us from the folks running the other way. Its the home field advantage here. Among the well-wishers I see Rebecca and Justin - looking good.

Mile 2 is in 4:59. I remember what GP said, pay attention to your arm cadence to see how you feel. Everything was strong and I realized that sub 16 was ours to lose now. I sense from Ian the same thing I'm feeling, that we just want to hang on to each other and hang on to our pace. Ian says something. "We're gonna do this," I respond.

Another part of the homefield advantage is that I have run every bump of this course 20000 times. I know exactly how far to go and when we hit the bridge across the Schuylkill I know its 400 meters to the finish. I feel a kick in me and turn it on. Ian falls behind and I realize I feel better here than I did on Wednesday at the St. Joe's track. Like GP said - "The actual race has gotta feel easier than the training you've been doing." When the race clock comes in sight it is ticking at 15:45. I turn it on but with a smile and finish in a 15:52. 15:52! 3rd place. Ian comes in at 15:53. We do a sweaty embrace. Later on I get another sweaty embrace from Rebecca.

I am ecstatic, Ian is ecstatic and amazed (this is a 45 second PR for him). The rest of the post-race stuff is a blur. Later on I do the math and realize, if the mile markers are correct, than we averaged a 5:21 pace for the last 1.1 miles. This is hard to believe, so I'm thinking the markers might have been short. I don't care about that, but I was panicked enough to go back to the race website (see results here too) and, to my relief, see that the course is USATF certified. So whatever the mile markers, the time is official.

This is one of two lifetime running goals. The other, a sub 2:35 marathon, is what I am now setting my sights on. If I accomplish this I can then go on and play shuffleboard. Its strange, when I first thought of these goals, only a few years ago, I thought of those two times more as something approachable rather than attainable. Then last year I realized I indeed had a crack at these times. And this year I resolved to reach them. I trained hard and focused on the 5k, and now its down. Marathon is up next. Just need to decide where and start training.

It does take a village to train. In particular, I'd like to throw shout outs to three people. One is my coach, GP, both for his sadistic ability to whip up harder track workouts than I could ever have dreamed of and for both his faith in my ability to achieve this goal (which I suppose is a part of a coach's job) but also for his unique ability to restore my own faith, on several occasions, in my ability to do this. Second, I could not have run this fast without Ian's presence. I haven't read his blog on this race, but I daresay this feeling is mutual. Ian has participated in several of my most memorable running moments, and its great to have shared this one with him. And finally, Rebecca has not only been a great source of support, but it took her to remind me afterwards about how big this moment is for me, when it is my nature to be more dismissive of it. Thanks to her prodding we celebrated the occasion with an excellent dinner and a fine bottle of wine (hear that, GP?).

Finally, I think of my grandparents, long deceased. They used to live in Abington where I'd go visit as a kid - 1552 Edgehill Road. More than occasionally the number 1552 comes up and I like to think when it does it is their way of saying hi to me from the spirit world.

7.5 with warmup and cool down. 5k in 15:52. The old girl has indeed gone down.

Friday, April 20, 2007

What It Feels Like to Fly

Some people don't care if they live or they die
Some people want to know what it feels like to fly
They gather the courage and they give it a try...

More Patty Griffin. Good lyrics for how I feel about tomorrow's race. Here's to courage to go out really fast and if it falls apart later, just to let it happen. Just go out there and fly.

I'm getting my heart back into it.

Ran 9 miles yesterday. Montgomery Ave loop. Straight up. I had a hard day yesterday, one which I felt would have went alot worse if I hadn't laced up my sneakers. Run was so-so, but it was getting out there that was important. It felt like having done that I had a base from which to deal with the rest of my day. Also got to see spring - beautiful whites pinks and purples coloring the otherwise grey morning.

Legs were sore yesterday, I'm inclined to give them a break today. But the weather is really too nice not to go out there for a little bit. We'll see.

The old girl's going down. If not tomorrow morning, then soon.

9 miles yesterday in 67:29. 2 marked miles in just under 14 to give some idea of pace.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

One of These Nights

I took the hint from Ian last night and chucked alot of the stuff that was on my iPod and added a bunch of new stuff. For some people its new shoes, for me its new music.

Listened to the latest Patty Griffin cd while I drove out to the St. Joe's track. To get there is about a 15 minute drive, but its the closest track that is open 24/7. It was about 6:30 when I got there and ran my warmups still listening to Patty. Great cd, brought the emotion up to the surface at times and got me hoping I could burn this for fuel. Got to visualizing the workout - 2400m with 400s paced 75-75-80-80-75-73. "One of these nights the old girl's going down..." I take that line way out of context to apply it to my workout.

If this were a movie I would totally nail that workout now. But alas. 76-75-86-85-78-77. First two went okay but as I my legs slowed I just got more anaerobic to where I was breathing harder on the second 800 than I was on the first. All in all something left to be desired with this 2400. Then it was an 800 meter jog and 2 400s with a 400 jog in between. The 400s were supposed to go in 70; they both went in 73. Felt sick to my stomach after each rep. That, and having to get back to the kids led me to bag my cooldown. I'd make up for it later when I biked to work from the mechanic; I took my car to the shop today.

So not a great workout timewise but for some reason I felt alot better afterwards. Like I was back on the wagon. I still think sub 16 on Saturday is a Hail Mary proposition, but I'll throw it out there. I'll swipe Ian's strategy and go for mile 1 in a 5:05 and just see how long I can hold it after that.

But if not Saturday, I'll get my sub 16 sometime. "One of these nights the old girl's going down."

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Dear Prudence

Schedule called for a double today - six and six. I did my six this morning, 6.5 actually
in 43:57 - Art Museum loop. For old times sake.

In the middle of the run I thought I just should have run the whole 12 this morning. The rest of the day will be crazy, right up to teaching till 8 and then getting the kids to bed will keep me busy till 9:30ish. By then I'll be too tired to run. I still kept thoughts of running in my head, but when it came time to go I gave it up. Not out of laziness (never) but out of common sense. I wouldn't get that much out of the extra six miles, and not doing it will make the difference between going to bed late or insanely late. Plus I wanna get up early and run the track tomorrow morning. There is a workout I really don't want to miss. So I played it prudent tonight.

Never happy about coming up short mileagewise. The main lesson I draw from today is the need to plan ahead better. Getting up a bit earlier would have let me get this run in. It also means I haven't escaped the doldrums yet. GP, as usual, shows no sympathy for this, but does commend me for not falling into self-pity mode this time around. Ian sent me a few tunes to jump start me, I think I need to download some more stuff too.

Finally, kudos to the ten or so folks I know who ran Boston on a tough day. I heard from Paul and John has his lbrr on his blog. These are the only folks I've heard from. Both PR'd, which is not shabby at all.

Tomorrow's workout will make a huge difference as to how I approach Saturday.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


There is a movie from the mid 80's called "The Mission" that I remember little about except that it was set in the South American jungle and was about Spanish missionaries who take the side of the Indians they are supposed to convert in the face of the evil Portugese. There is one scene where one of the missionaries, in search of a penance that will absolve him of a murder, ends up pushing something really heavy up a steep jungly hill in the pouring rain. It takes all he's got and at the end it is clear that in doing this he's unloaded his guilt.

That scene was in my mind as I ran this afternoon. As evidenced by the neglect my blog has seen in the last week, its been difficult to get any kind of running routine of late. My workouts actually haven't been bad since I last checked in:

Thurs - 6x600 in 1:51; 1:51; 1:51; 1:51; 1:52; 1:53 and 7.5 miles total.
Fri - 8 miles (Sweetbriar to 48th St. loop)
Sat. - 3.5 miles Cobbs Creek-Cedar Ave loop.

but it hasn't felt right. Thursday's track workout went well, I was supposed to nail these in 1:52.5 and felt they were just at my fitness level. I'd typically go through the 400 mark feeling strong and then really have to push the last 200. In the last rep I got through 400 right at 75 but just couldn't get it in 1:52. Friday I was supposed to do 2 sessions of 4 miles apiece but overslept that morning and did one 8-mile loop, untimed, to get the mileage in. Yesterday I was supposed to do another track workout which I missed for lack of a 2-hour window to get out to the track. I stole about 45 minutes and got in the run I did, again untimed. It feels alot better to have a few miles run then to have a DNR, but I still hate having to miss a track workout.

That left me with a blah feeling about my training and an unenthusiastic attitude towards my second attempt on Saturday at a sub 16 5k. Just don't feel it happening. The course at the Clean Air 5k, an out and back on Kelly Drive, is flat enough but there is a 180 degree turnaround and the lack of prize money this year will mean that there probably be much less competition than there was last year. So I have no doubt I'll run it hard, I don't see the conditions there for sub 16. But I'm not ruling it out.

So with all that I looked out the window at heavy rain this morning. Schedule called for a 15 miler. I hate running in the rain and the rain is not supposed to let up all day. I postpone my run for the afternoon when it is supposed to lighten up and go about my day. I know if I don't go out today than I will lose alot of confidence in the level of my fitness. But still, 15 miles in this soup would suck. At 2 I call Rebecca, who was also set to do her long run this afternoon. She chatted about gearing up for the run and I realized that, seeing this example, I had to go out this afternoon as well. To make it more dramatic, I invoked that scene from The Mission, with the hopes that doing this run would somehow have cathartic powers to again get me eager to go out and race next weekend.

The reality of course was more mundane. I put on an old pair of Asics racers without socks, shorts a shirt and a hooded windbreaker and took off to do a figure 8 down to the Art Museum and around the Drives. My pace felt strong and the thin sole and lack of socks made it feel, with each footstroke, that my stride was in touch with the surface. The rain wasn't heavy by this point and I felt it was okay. I hit MLK, the first checkpoint, in about 26 minutes, completed the 4-mile MLK portion in 29 minutes; completed the 4-mile Kelly Dr. portion in 25:37 (including mile 3 in 6 flat and mile 4 in 5:52) and then finished the last section in 24:33. Had to take evasive maneuvers to avoid the rising Schuylkill in places and tied my windbreaker around my waist on Kelly Drive as the rain slowed to a drizzle, only to have it start to pour again - leaving me drenched. But no matter, it was a good run. 15 miles in 1:45:06.

I feel more like I avoided losing any further ground than I did anything that really enhances my fitness. I'll take that. I also felt a solidarity for those folks I know running Boston tomorrow. A quick tally this afternoon led to 12 people I know who are running it. The forecast is for more of the same, and I hope they are not disheartened to have months of training lead to the prospect of a soggy slog. If I could tell them something it would be to take heart, if you're like me things are likely to be better than the mind makes them out to be. And good luck out there.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Run Down

Eight miles this morning. For some reason it felt like eighty.

Dunno why. It was a beautiful morning, sunny and chilly enough to where I didn't break a sweat. The sun is coming up these days so that it is right on the horizon when I step out. I was under no pace obligations, and maintained pace that from what I could tell was in the high sevens. Everything is green and in bloom and a great time to run.

My head, however, just wasn't in it. Maybe I just don't feel in the groove again. Maybe I've just forgotten how to run "normal" - just going out and putting one foot in front of the other. I ran with my iPod, which I haven't been doing much lately, and became painfully aware of how I have no current inspirational music. After rummaging through the stuff that was on it, I dug up the new Matthew Ryan album which I hadn't listened to much, but that didn't do it for me. So I switched midstream to something more familiar, but whose name I'd rather not invoke, which helped with the pacing but still didn't get me going. I need new music. All that, and I was tired.

So good thing that it was an easy day. I won't make more of it than that. Not feeling sorry for myself, just in some doldrums. Sweetbriar loop up to 48th St, 8 miles in 63:55.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

74 hours 21 minutes

Was what my stopwatch said this morning. I had forgot to stop it after my last workout. Thus you subtract about an hour from that and you can tell how long it was since I last ran.

No wonder I felt out of sorts yesterday.

Today will be a catchup (as opposed to catsup) entry. I had a busy weekend, a holiday weekend, and I just didn't get around to blogging. I don't feel bad about it, but will feel better when I am caught up again in a few minutes.

Lets see. Wow, Friday was a double day. 5 miles in the morning, 7:30/8ish pace through the lower dyke loop in Tinicum, the afternoon was a 3-ish 21 minute jaunt through West Philly which ended up at the bike store where I picked up my newly repaired bike. So 8 miles total.

Saturday was my birthday. These days I'm always glad I run on my birthday as getting that extra year means I get cut a little more slack on the age grades for the race times. I started my day by running an easy two miles out to the Interboro High School track and running 2 miles (actually 3200 meters) in a target time of 11 minutes. Remembered my 800 splits, which ran 2:50; 2:45; 2:43 & 2:37 for a 10:55 total time. I'll take it. I like how I negative split each progressive 800. Did 8x10 secs at 4:40 pace with 30 sec recoveries and headed back. Don't have the total time but got 7 miles out of it.

Also went out to spectate, to cheer newly minted PACTC runners Rebecca and Amy, as well as Chuck, Matt and the other PACTC boys at the Tyler Arboretum 10k Trail Run. PACTC did well, as did all four I just gave mention to. Then that evening team "Easy on the Eyes" along with our dates (who are actually much easier on the eyes than we) finally made it out to celebrate our team victory at the Parkway Run last fall. We celebrated in high style with the dinner, which we won, at the Fountain Restaurant. Zagat's agrees with me when I say it is the best meal in Philadelphia.

Then Easter was off intentionally and yesterday was off unintentionally, both due to traveling.

Which brings us to this morning. GP had me doing 10, 5 at 6:45ish pace and the last five in 30 minutes. I was an overachiever all around as I added a warmup and a cooldown mile, ran the first five (post warmup) miles in 6:25-6:35 range, and ran the next five in 29:20 (last mile in 5:45). Felt strong and the run was not at maximum effort. Feels good to be back in the groove. 12 miles total in 67:18.

All caught up again.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Slow Turning

A million reasons not to run this morning.

It was cold and blustery. I didn't have a workout selected for this morning. It was too muddy to go through Tinicum. I had an early meeting this morning that I still had to prep for. And on and on and on.

Rebecca actually listened to this pathetic whining and suggested I blow off the run until later. This actually made sense and I decided to do it. Then she went out into the weather I was avoiding to run 3 to the gym, another 6 on the treadmill, and 3 back home. Knowing that, I also knew that I had no excuse not to get a run in today.

But I didn't have to fear about procrastinating. As I went to work I planned my workout and actually got excited about it. I would do what I call the BN loop, a somewhat sadistic workout that was a staple of my marathon training last fall. Its a 13-mile loop that features 4 tempo pace miles on MLK Drive, immediately followed by another 2.5 miles or so up a fairly steep, lengthy hill affectionately known as the "Bloody Nipple" (a running aphorism states "when a hill has a name, you know its hard") and then along an extended straightaway. The idea is to go all out for the first four, and just when you think you are finished with the hard part you are started on another hard part.

The plan was to take the tempo miles at half marathon pace and then just hammer the BN part as hard as I could. I was excited about this run because it had two functions. First, it was a good test to see what kind of distance shape I was in following all this 5k training. Second, it let me get into the mindset of training for a longer race.

So I charged out of the USP athletic center ready to rumble. The MLK miles clocked in at 5:40; 5:45; 5:39; and 5:45 - a bit slower than the 5:30-5:35 range I was shooting for but not bad considering the legendary 360 degree headwind you get in these parts was in full force today. I made it up the hill in 8:48 and took the entire second part of the course in 16:26.

Looking at my logs from last fall, these times were consistent with the times that I was running this loop back then. That is big, as it is one marker telling me that I'm in good shape to take on the half marathon in 3 weeks. That being said, I didn't feel comfortable out there. I wanted to run this feeling relaxed and in control, but I had to constantly think about pushing the pace and wondering if I could last for the whole distance. I didn't feel at ease, and remember thinking that if this were a race, I'd wonder about finishing. When I feel this way I automatically start looking for excuses, and the wind gave me one. But I feel good about not giving in and hammering when I needed to for a performance that I am now happy with.

So this represents a nice turnaround. From an unmotivated morning to a good run, and for the zillionth time reinforcing my belief that it takes a village to run (in this case) a half marathon. And I feel now that I now truly have my sights set on Allentown.

13 or so miles in 99:05.

It's been a slow turnin'
From the inside out
A slow turnin’
But you come about

Slow learnin’
But you learn to sway
A slow turnin’ baby
Not fade away

(John Hiatt)

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The First Run of the Rest of My Life

Well, my plans are set to do the Run for Clean Air on the 21st, the Lehigh Valley Half Marathon on the 29th, and, if I still have legs left by then, Broad St on the week after that. I was concerned about the short time period between now and the 29th, which is really my target race now, but GP says that it should be plenty of time to move up to this distance. So I'm set.

With that I took off today with a new mindset that I'm assuming is going to emphasize mileage alot more. I ran the Tinicum loop this morning, and pushed the pace a bit (always asking myself "What Would Ian Run") until I hit Tinicum, where I went all out tempo. Tinicum isn't the Drives, where the miles are measured by the quarter, so I had to pick landmarks about a mile apart and take splits. These splits will only start to have meaning when I run them a few times and can gauge what are fast times. But until then:

Warm Up (to Lindbergh Ave entrance of Tinicum): 39:35 (a sub 40 at this point will be a benchmark)
Tinicum Entrance to Lookout/Makeout Tower: 5:49
L/MT to trail fork by I-95: 5:47
TF to 1 mile exit sign (on I-95): 6:02
1MES to Yellow Gas Pipe past bridge: 5:50

This concluded my tempo run, and also my timing as I hit "stop" on my watch instead of "split". But I hit this loop 5-10 minutes faster than I usually do, easy. The drawback to this is that I feel like I'm stampeding through the park and as a result become largely oblivious to the morning symphony of birds and other creatures around me. Even with that, I scared up a sharp shinned hawk and a great blue heron. For the second straight run, I haven't seen red tailed hawks where I usually see them, and I'm thinking they may have moved north with the warmer weather. But even at Super Power Ranger Ninja Turtle (no cheetah) pace, the signs of Spring are unmistakeable.

10.5 miles, timing aborted at YGP in 63:04 and a breakfast that couldn't be beat afterwards.