Seebo's Run

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

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Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

On the Track

I need to do this entry quickly, I've already spent too much time answering a few emails, a couple of which were in response to responses to the stuff I wrote about Henry Rono. Whatever you think about him, its apparent I'm not the only one who found his story to strike a chord.

Took it out to the track this morning. The only thing significant about doing so was the amount of resistance I felt against going out there. It started the moment I woke up. I soon started plotting on how I could run later today. Given the weather forecast, that is an insane proposition. Then I was afraid of getting sick to my stomach on the way out, and suddenly I became overly concerned about the condition of my legs. And so on and so on...

So I did what I usually do. #1 - I left later than I wanted to (but only by 15 minutes). #2 - I bargained with myself: just get out to the track and run a bit; just do one repeat; etc. This got me out the door, starting the 2 mile warmup to the Interboro HS track very slowly and slowly getting more comfortable with running. My mile of strides on the track felt terrible, and I wondered if indeed I didn't have it. I set out to do 4 x 1600 with 400 (2 min.) recovery. I originally wanted to do the 1600s in 5:30, but conceded to being satisfied with anything under 5:40. And it was really humid.

I'm already dragging this out. 1600's went in 5:33; 5:34; 5:38 and 5:42. The splits for the last 1600 were 1:25; 1:27; 1:26; & 1:24. Just after the first 400 in the last rep I started to feel the burn in my chest and held it at that effort. I lost focus a bit and slowed down, but conserved some effort for that last 400, which was not grand but where I did keep it together. 4 reps was definitely enough. A fifth would have been ugly. So I'm satisfied. I'm also pleased with myself that I could close out July with a sustained series of workouts.

Maybe there is synergy between me and the Phillies, who have won 8 of their last 9. Anyway, 10 miles total running today, with starts and stops and one wrong turn and some evasive anti-canine maneuvers I did it in 80:54.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Monday Thoughts

Day 4 in a row. Did the Tinicum loop (10 mile version), which has become my bread and butter run when I'm at my summer home. The weather was soupy, but I felt good. I ran the first 5 miles in 43 something, and I ran the back 5 in sub 33 minutes. The first five must be measured long, because I was running faster than that. I know the back five to be accurate, and I was indeed smoking them. Not because I was looking to do so, but I just went with how my legs felt.

I left my music at home this morning. At some point in the run I noted that there were only four kinds of sounds. The far off whooshing of cars on I-95, various bird noises, my footsteps, and my breathing. Herons flew off upon my approach with long, slow, silent wingbeats. Rabbits showed me no respect, hopping out of my way only when I was imminently to step on them. Bugs must instinctively know to bite me between the shoulder blades, and somehow managed to get me from behind and expertly land on the sweat-slick surface. All felt at peace.

Thought a bit about stuff I read on two runners. I had once resolved in these pages to do more reading of other blogs, something that has fallen by the wayside of late. I caught up on Mike's blog, and see that he is doing well down in Tucson. From the looks of it, he is consistently doing 90+ plus mile weeks and running many of these miles at a low or mid 6 minute pace. In both of those respects he has eclipsed me, as I don't realistically see logging anything consistently above 80, nor do I train at that fast a pace (today notwithstanding). But I'm not ready to concede not again running with him at TCM, so in that respect hopefully his training will help me keep my momentum. Keep up the good work, Mike.

I also read an article in Runner's World on Henry Rono. He was one of the first great Kenyan runners and regularly beat the likes of Rodgers and Salazar. These days he's trying for a "comeback" in trying to break the over-50 mile record, at 4:40. He is nowhere close to this. The article is well worth reading. Now in his 50s, he seems very human. So much so that competitively he is now in the age group milieu that folks like me and my roommate dwell. I wish him luck but I don't see him getting near the record.

Anyway, time to get to work. 10 miles in 76:16.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Putting the "Cheetah" back into SPRNTC

The official logo of my fall 07 marathon campaign. Okay, so it is probably copyrighted and trademarked by this South African wine company, but that is how I want to visualize myself.

And in return I'll give an endorsement for their Cabernet-Pinotage, which Reba and I had with dinner last night and which we found to be an ideal blend of what we each like in a wine. That's an achievement.

Anyway, this cheetah was not in prime pouncing mode this morning, but did make it out to run out to Cargo City, the name for the backstage of the airport, back to Bartram Ave and around to the north end of Tinicum. I like this run not so much for the scenery but for the long, flat solitary straightaways, which suited my mood perfectly this morning. The musical theme was high energy, improvisational jazz sax, brought to me first by Fela Kuti and then by Sonny Rollins. It was, I daresay, perfect. A light rain about midway through the run cooled things off a bit.

Pace started at about 9 1/2 and I got it down to about 7 1/2. 12.5 miles in 1:41:21. Even cheetahs have easy days.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

2 in a Row

First time I've run for two days in a row in over two weeks.

Met up with Ian, Chem Steve, and Craig at the Art Museum at 8 a.m. and we set out to go for two hours. We headed up Kelly Drive out to Manayunk, went up the "three bears" hills on Belmont Ave and back through Fairmount to Market and up the bike path to the Art Museum. That fulfilled the obligation.

I'm calling it 15.5 miles in 2:04, I don't have the time to g-map it (although that usually doesn't stop me). Weather was soupy, and as my shorts got sweatier they started falling (they no longer have a drawstring), so I had to run West Philly style and keep a hand on my waistband on the latter part of the run.

A study made the news this week on how having obese friends increases the odds that you will become obese. The authors of the study mentioned that the reverse also happens, that thin friends will increase the odds of you being thinner. I'd like to add a corollary to that, as fast friends will make you faster. Today's run was a case in point, there was an energy today where we went at a faster clip than I know I would have gone out at if I were by myself. It was also gratifying to find a kick left as we finished the run down along the Schuylkill bike path.

All in all, an enjoyable run despite the heat and humidity. See if I can make it a three-peat tomorrow.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Back from Fishing

I'm back. Actually I've been back since Sunday. This has been the longest hiatus I've taken since I've started writing a blog.

So where do I begin. I'll start my blog like I've started my running... and won't take on too much at once.

Me and my kids took a week out in California. A couple of days in San Francisco, a road trip down the Pacific coast, and then for the finale went up to Berkeley where I got to see KJ and his family. The trip was a lot of fun, but this ain't a travelogue so I'll stick to the running parts of it.

I'll have to do this from memory, which if you know me at all is a scary proposition. I purposefully did not try to stick to any training schedule, just to get out for an hour every other day or so. Let's see:

Monday (7/16): ran along the Embarcadero, starting at about Pier 1 and going down past Fishermans Wharf and the military base, but not quite down to the Golden Gate Bridge. It was early morning and the restaurants and other tourist traps were just starting up their day, getting deliveries and the like. I turned around after 31 minutes, and got into a pissing contest with another runner so that I finished in just under 59 minutes. It was a good thing that I ran this route, as it let me scout out the start of the bike trip that we would later take over the GG Bridge and into Sausalito. None too strenuous (I am on vacation); call it 7 miles.

Thursday (7/19): ran from hotel down to the waterfront in Monterey. There was a bike path that I took which led me to the Aquarium, a focal point in the redeveloped waterfront, and through Cannery Row, made famous by John Steinbeck in a novel near and dear to me. There's not much that is fishy about Cannery Row anymore, and the only catch they haul these days are tourists. Instead of fish, all I can smell was the incense wafting out of the boutiques that were cheek by jowl with souvenir shops and galleries. I wonder what Mack and the boys would think. Turned around at about 30 minutes, finished in just over 59. Call it 7 miles again.

Saturday (7/21): KJ and Silas took me down to Oakland. We had dinner with them (and Christine) the night before; it was strange seeing a friend in a totally different context. Silas, always a big kid, is now no longer a baby but a toddler - both in body shape and in behavior. Nothing like seeing kids grow to realize the stealth with which time passes. On the run, Kevin said he'd show me such landmarks as Peoples' Park and the Black Panther headquarters, but I don't remember actually seeing them. I don't know if ultimately he forgot to point them out when we got there or if I just spaced it. The run was a combination of familiarity - KJ and I feel in running just like we were in West Philly again - and a very different place. Afterwards me and the kids went to their digs and they fed us a breakfast that couldn't be beat. Its good to see them doing well. Root for him and Deirdre (the next visitor) as they run the San Francisco Half Marathon on Sunday. Looking at KJ's blog, he called it 7.8 in 68 minutes, I'll round it up to 8 miles as I went a little farther before and after we met up.

That was all the running on my vacation. I have been known to say in the past that its harder to run upon the return from a trip than during the trip itself. The blowback was in full force this week for a variety of reasons. I got in two runs:

Tuesday (7/24) - a very mellow Art Museum loop. Not much to report on this run. Had John Mayer on the iPod to get up to speed on his oeuvre as me and the kids did a little encore vacation and went down to the Shore for the day (Asbury Park) and then saw John Mayer that evening at the PNC Arts Center. 6.5 in about 52 minutes.

Friday (today) - it has been really hard to wake up early after being on West Coast time and with various things going on. This morning I forced myself out of bed and ran Tinicum. It felt like I was picking up where I left things. Wildlife galore and a typical, i.e., beautiful morning run. I obviously had some pent-up energy as I did the last four miles in 26 and a half minutes, just felt natural to do so. Didn't to the extra piece so its 9.5 miles total in 69:38.

There, that updates me. The problem with playing catch up is that many details get omitted. But its important psychologically to get all this down, as it helps me put my past in my behind (who knows where that's from?) to turn to the upcoming days and weeks and get back in the swing of things. I missed some valuable training time, but I'm not feeling too upset about it. I'll leave it to future days to process this, but its reassuring that I haven't been too whiny about it.

Looking to go long tomorrow.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Gone Fishing

Tomorrow is vacation-time. Today its tying up loose ends and packing and the like. Didn't get out in the morning, but made it out in the afternoon for an hour. Took Locust down to Cobbs Creek and headed back on Warrington.

Cloudy and warm, Blue Rodeo on the iPod. Lots of bored kids (and some adults) hanging around. Pace was slow and not much going on.

This run sure as heck beats a dnr for the day, but it doesn't do much for my training. The weeks vacation promises to continue this irregular running pattern, but that its okay. I'm on vacation. Leaving for San Francisco in the morning. Training will start seriously the week after.

Sounds like I'm going on a diet. Anyway, I won't be blogging this coming week - taking a vacation from that as well.

6.5 in 54:54.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Brand New Weather

A day makes all the difference. This morning it was sunny, cool, and might even be described as crisp. Some brand new weather.

Met up with Deirdre on Spruce Street and we improvised. She needed to be back home by 7:30 so we looked to see how much we could fit in till then. From 37th & Spruce we went up to 40th, north on 40th/Parkside to Belmont, up Belmont to the Belmont Plateau fire trail, out to and over Strawberry Mansion bridge and around the reservoir and over Lemon Hill to the Art Museum. From there it was the bike path, then after taking leave of Deirdre it was South/Spruce/Baltimore back home.

All in all I'm guessing it was 12.5 in 1:41:18. It was nice to be out this morning, nice to catch up with Deirdre. Running conversation is some of the best conversation there is. Relaxed, with plenty of time, all to a rhythmic stomping background that keeps me grounded as the miles pass.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Everytime It Rains

I made it out the door this morning. Just like old times. A bit easier perhaps because I got to bed earlier than I usually do.

I ran an Acme loop. 34th and Lebanon route. The 9.5 mile loop to which I added on about another .5 to make it 10, probably a bit longer.

No iPod or anything, just me and my thoughts, which are legion.

Cooler but cloudy and very humid. About two-thirds of the way in there was a very light drizzle. Was expecting rain and actually looking forward to it, but it never came. Now that its 5 in the afternoon it is finally pouring down.

Time is 85:24. I feel better again.

Every time it rains
I know it's good to be alive
Every time it rains
I know I'm trying to survive
~Charlotte Martin

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Many Words on Few Miles

Figure I need to check in here, although I don't have much to report on.

Running was going well through Friday. Made plans to run long with Deirdre on Saturday morning but had bad back pain on Friday night that kept me up in the night. This was more musculo than skeletal, and I was afraid that running might aggravate it so I took the prudent route and didn't run on Saturday.

That left the question of whether to run on Sunday, which was the third annual Guerrilla 5k, which I've written about a bit in the last few weeks and run in each of the last two years. Each year the G5K gets bigger and better, and this year they've added a medical tent (tent meaning its in a shaded area) where I described this weird pain and an accompanying rash. The astute folks manning the, well, sitting around quickly diagnosed it as shingles. This took me by surprise but it seemed like everyone there knew someone who'd had it, and were fairly certain in the diagnosis.

With that I ran the G5K. The course changes each year on the race director's whim, and this year we met at City Hall and plotted our own course to the turnaround, on the corner of Spruce and Front Streets, pick up the secret message written in chalk, and return. Me, Stevus and John Dubs ended up running together in what we figured was the lead, John took the ultimate shortcut in Washington Square Park, going right through the fountain that was on the diagonal and we made it to the turnaround.

"Ian is an asshat" was the phrase that pays and we lost Stevus on the way back. John and I then proceeded to coast in, not necessarily on the most efficient route, and shared the victory over the field of 15. For our efforts we shared a 5-DVD set of Joan Collins movies and a stuffed monkey. Somehow I ended up with both of these keepsakes. I will not disclose what happened to Joan, but can say that the monkey is now providing comfort to abused kids in therapy (no, not my kids).

A kickass post race brunch was provided by Jim and Liz, as most of the participants hoarded into their apartment and set their sweaty asses on the living room furniture, ate bagels and frittatas, and drank Mimosas. I would put it at the second best post-race brunch in Phila, topped only by the Four Season's effort after the Parkway Run.

Both John and Jim have blogged on this, and Ian promises to.

Anyway, back to my infirmities. I went online (you can too) and googled "shingles" and "herpes zoster" and learned alot. The doctor confirmed the diagnosis yesterday. When it all settled down, it basically involves putting up with some discomfort for a few weeks. The doc said it should not interfere with my running, though I have been treating it as such.

I am now at that point where its hard to regain the lost momentum, and I'll have to make an effort to do so. Next week I'm going on vacation to California, and will have a hard time keeping up my running there. I'm still processing all this, trying to take it in stride. That will likely be the tenor of my next few posts.

Friday, July 06, 2007


I don't think I've ever done a track workout where I haven't learned something.

Today I took my car for an inspection and oil change and ran from the gas station. Al Lawrence said the car would be done in an hour and a half. Just about the time I needed for my workout. So with a quick stop at the bank to deposit some checks, I ran down to Franklin Field, did a mile's worth of strides, and set in to doing Yasso 800s. Thats 800 meter repeats with a 400 recovery.

Weather Underground says its 86 degrees out - a dry heat today with a breeze blowing. Boston Marathon type heat. With this in mind I decided to be flexible, go for 6 to 8 repeats, and only doing repeats 7 and 8 if I was still running strong. The first one felt easy in 2:43, and I was very heartened by this. Next two in 2:42 each and I was feeling smart, as the times were good and it seemed like I was running conservative. Number four was in 2:43 and I was starting to work, and number five went in 2:45. Here I jumped the shark, as I didn't feel like I could do this again. This was number six now, so I gave myself permission to go like this was the last, as it was unlikely there would be another. But that didn't help much, as I posted a 2:52. With that I called it a day and cooled down.

So what did I learn? I learned a healthy respect for heat. I thought I was going out conservative and it was still too fast given this heat. I know in my head that in conditions like this to go out so that it feels way too slow, now I feel I know it on a deeper level. The heat is a patient adversary. I didn't run stupid, nor did I have any problems with the heat. It just wore me down. I'd like to do the workout all over again and try for 2:45+ repeats and see if I couldn't do all 8. But there are two chances I'll do that - slim and none.

I also wonder if I could have sustained 2:42s on a cooler day. I think so. That is encouraging. I'm working my way down and getting a bit more serious with my harder workouts. It'll come. This is shaping up to be a good week sofar.

I made it back to Al's about 5 minutes before my car was ready. Just enough time to have a frosty 20 ounce ice tea and have his son Michael show me his new iPhone. It is indeed way cool.

9.5 miles total, 76:36 with the clock running continuously. I am learning.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Silver Wings

The Thursday night posse was out, and for once I could join them. Ian, John W, Jim, Chem Steve, Deirdre and a guy Lee whom I met for the first time. Met at the Art Museum and went up Lemon Hill and up and around Fairmount Park. Me, Lee, Ian and Deirdre found ourselves alone when we got to Georges Hill. Conversation focused on reports that a body was found in a car the other day near South Georges and Belmont. Then we took a run down the midway of the carnival that was out in front of Memorial Hall. We were going to chip in and get Ian a funnel cake. We ran under the Civil War Memorial arch - site of the start and finish of G5K II, and then back across the river and around the other side of Lemon Hill, site of the G5K I. Along the way Ian gave some some tidbits about this Sundays G5K III, which promises to be more anarchic than ever.

We also got to run by one of my favorite statues, that of post-Civil War mayor Morton McMichael, sitting there with outstretched hand in a long tradition of Philadelphia mayors inquiring "What's in it for me?"

We made it back to the Art Museum in just about the same time as the other three. We got to hear how Chem Steve was victimized for a second time by a diving hawk. I then ran down the bike path with Deirdre, and back to Lloyd Hall by myself, to get in 80 minutes (80:47 to be precise), call it ten miles.

Its good to run with friends.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Good Neighbor Day 15k

I know I've got some catching up to do. The running has gone fine, I haven't gotten around to blogging in the last few days. Workouts don't have a long shelf-life, so writing about them is a bit like biting into two and three day-old bread. So I'll just give the basics, for this blog functions to record as much as it does to entertain.

On Monday I didn't get to run until late after a full day of work and a stomach full of bangers and mash, thanks to my roommate. Actually running with such a heavy dinner churning around my stomach wasn't bad, and I ran down to MLK and turned off on Montgomery Ave and headed home. For those of you who want to know more, course is here. It was 9+ miles, and because of my spotty blogging and my not creating a July page for my running log until a few minutes ago, the running time is lost to posterity. Fear not, however, it is not a great loss, somewhere around an 8 minute pace.

Yesterday was Reba's birthday. Now one of the many things that attracts me to this woman is that, before we went off on a day's worth of birthday activities, she made sure to get her workout in. I used this time to get my workout in as well. Tinicum loop, 10 miles, again run half-fast and with nothing much exciting going on, with the running time again lost for the ages. We then proceeded to work off any fitness we gained with the rest of the day's activities.

Today is, of course, July 4th. Instead of a hard workout we decided to race up in Downingtown, an upper middle class exurb about a half hours drive from here. What made the race ideal for me and Reba was that there were three simultaneous races - a 5k, 10k, and 15k - held on one 5k loop. Each time you came to the finish you could decide to either finish or run around one more time. Reba ran 10k and I ran 15k - and neither of us would have to wait long for the other to finish.

It was pouring rain when we left, but cleared up as we headed southwest. The staging area was a pristine little town park. I knew none of the studs up front, and most of them seemed to be college aged boys and a few Runaway Success folks. I am not in racing shape but have been heartened by my last few hard workouts, so I had hope to do okay. At the start a good thirty folks go out ahead of me, I start off easy and a good number of them came back to me. Alot more of them opted for the 5k and I lost them at the completion of the first loop, in 18:12. I wasn't real happy with that, but figured I could go for a negative split for each of the successive laps.

Best I could tell I was in sixth place as I started lap 2. I reeled in one guy and then another, with whom I duelled a bit and he finally outkicked me as he finished at 10k. Despite this, lap 2 finished in 18:21 and I again groaned. The conditions were fine, the course was moderately hilly but not bad, I just wasn't in shape enough or motivated enough to really push things. There was one guy about 100 feet ahead of me going into lap 3, and if there was anybody else ahead he would have to be far out of reach. I figured lead guy to be about where I would be if I did indeed negative split. That would be the closest I'd be to him, as the distance between us slowly widened. It was never really a race, and I realized later that he didn't so much speed up as I slowed down. No one behind me to challenge me. Last lap was in 19:05, for a total 15k time of 55:39 for an apparent second place finish.

I ran into the wrong chute and suspect I gummed up the timing for the race organizers. But it wasn't clear where to go. The guy finishing behind (now ahead of) me insisted I walk through the chute ahead of him and was very gracious. Pretzel City Sports also seemed to have gotten their revenge my not putting my name up on the results board. I really didn't care and Reba and I left shortly after my 2-mile cooldown (call it 11.5 miles total running). We'll see if my name is in the results.

In debriefing this race, I went into it with the idea of taking it as a hard workout and that is basically how it went. I could not get in the frame of mind to get real competitive, and I don't think my body is there yet either. I barely eked out a sub 6 minute pace - which will be my eventual marathon pace. I'm not ready mentally to wrap my head around that yet. I know better than to read too much into a summer race, if nothing else it beat the hell out of yet one more tempo run on the Drives today. Nuff said.

Reba, by the way, finished her 10k in fine fashion and you can read her report on her blog, which I have been instructed not to disclose. There is nothing, however, that keeps me from suggesting to folks that they google "Reba" and "Fade to Red" and click on the first entry that pops up. Just to see what happens of course.

Sunday, July 01, 2007


Kicked back a bit today after yesterdays workout. Strawberry Mansion Bridge loop, straight up. Ran the 3.5 MLK miles in 27:16. The weather could almost be described as crisp this morning, and on one shady part of Ford Road, running into a headwind, I could swear that I felt a slight chill. Sent shivers up my back. Had Tori Amos and Grace Potter provide the musical accompaniment.

Trying to think of anything noteworthy that happened. Ran into Erin and Iris as I was running along Clark Park and caught up a little bit. Gotta hook up again with the Club West Philly contingent that has been leaving from Erin's house on weekday mornings. Also ran past an accident coming down 44th St. by Lancaster Ave in time to see paramedics slowly and carefully wheel a man dressed in his Sunday best and his neck stabilized into an ambulance. Said a prayer for him and imagined that somewhere in West Philly there is a congregation that is praying for him as well.

11 miles in a little over 90 minutes (don't have my watch handy for the exact time).