Seebo's Run

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

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Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Raspberries & Figs

I read Reba's blog post yesterday, as I said, after I wrote mine. After reading what she wrote, I have two things to add.

First, I said that the first time we ran was the first time we met, and that the attraction wasn't immediate. I neglected to add that the attraction caught up faster than Dave Wattle in the 72 Olympics the second time we got together. Go on a long run with me sometime and I'll give you more details.

Second is in defense of us so-called fast guys. We don't mind slowing down if the company is worthwhile. Relax, my leg muscles won't atrophy if I dip above a 9 minute pace. I don't judge people by how fast they run, and hopefully won't judge me by that yardstick. Woe is me, I'm so misunderstood.

That being said, I do wish Reba would run faster as I like running behind her.

More generally, I had two people, a dissertation student of mine and a longtime friend, tell me of about their fledgling efforts at running yesterday. This pleases me no end to hear this, and hope that I can contribute a little toward them keeping it going.

This morning I ran Tinicum. The usual 10 mile loop. 47:49 for the first 5 miles, 39:16 for the back 5. Another beautiful run. Alot of bird life out this morning. Nothing unusual, but some very memorable, even poetic sights. A kingfisher perched in a bare tree, the silent, slow motion flight of an egret spooked by my approach, a wild turkey running up the path ahead of me, and a pair of red tails perched close on the "boring part", where I saw hawks regularly over the winter.

But the strangest sights belonged to the mammals. First, I saw a housecat dash into the brush with a mouse in its mouth, and second, I saw an albino woodchuck. An ordinary fat waddly member of the species other than its fur, which was startlingly white despite its dirty sheen.

And finally, I couldn't help but note how the flora has totally taken over the land drained from the wetlands - now dry but thick and lush with grass and blooming plants. In contrast, in another part of the run the bulldozers continue their progress on clearing out dry areas to expand the wetlands and restore them to how they were before the Army Corps of Engineers dumped massive amounts of Delaware River fill there in the 60s.

The place is alive, and I feel alive running through there. 10 miles in 87:06.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Wednesday Night Lights

Did a double today.

First run was this morning with Reba. The last time I ran with her was the first time I laid eyes on the fine lass. That time, the attraction wasn't immediate and the running was a bit, shall we say, uncomfortable. This time around I felt more relaxed. We ran the Art Museum loop and I enjoyed showing her a route that I have run many times in my short little life. Like introducing Reba to an old friend. If I'm lucky it'll be less than ten months before I get to run with Reba a third time.

6+ miles in 55:31.

I haven't read Reba's take on the run yet. I still don't have permission to link to her blog, so all I can say is to google "Reba" and "Seebo" and scroll a little through the hits and you'll find it.

I also just got back from my PM run: a dark dark night on a dark dark track. Bats were flying about my head as I'd go around the far turn and I hit the split button on my watch without being able to see how fast I was going. That was penance for dawdling a bit around the house after work, to the point where I knew I'd be running in the dark. I considered bagging the run, but took it as a kind of gut check to how serious I was at all about training anymore, because if I blew it off today there would be no way I could really make up this workout later this week.

That being said, I would hardly call the track workout Zatopecian. 2 sets of 4x400's, with 200m recovery between the reps and 600m recovery between the sets. Time range was between 78 and 80, exactly what I was shooting for. Inauspicious but I'll take it. 5 miles total.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Super Power Ranger Ninja Turtle Woodchuck Fast

That was me this morning. I almost stepped on a woodchuck who ran out of the brush by the Tinicum trail just in front of my toes and started running in front of me. I sped up a little to see if I could catch him and would have got him if he hadn't ducked into the bushes about 20 meters later.

Running at woodchuck pace. That's what its come down to.

Actually that is not quite accurate. If there is one word to describe my training it is bimodal. There is the cheetah, who trains hard and aspires to race fast, and there is the woodchuck, who is just out to run. Who comes out to run on a given day is anybody's guess.

Over the weekend it was the cheetah. In yesterday's blog entry I described a good tempo run, a difficult long run, and then turning around to race on Sunday. Then yesterday I took a dnr and this morning I ran an easy 7 on the Seeba figure 8 loop in Tinicum. That is woodchuck.

This cheetah/woodchuck dichotomy goes beyond just how far and how fast I run on a given morning, it goes to my identity as a runner as well. This morning was sunny, crisp, and only a little warm. Tinicum, as I've said in zillions of prior posts, is a beautiful place to run. I got in a nice hour (actually 61:27) of running. This is enough to make woodchuck happy.

But this only makes cheetah growl. Its clear that cheetah isn't dominant enough this summer to totally take over, but he is certainly enough of a force to make clear his displeasure. And so I waver back and forth between what I want my training to be like and how comfortable I feel with it.

All that aside, I enjoyed my run this morning. Some stuff is obviously falling into place, such that the run just passed without my realizing how far I had gone until I emerged back onto 420 and the run was almost done.

Tinicum is still in summer mode, where things are very green and relatively quiet, save for a squirrel who seemingly fell out of the sky and dropped onto the trail about ten meters in front of me with a sprig of oak leaves. The only branches over the trail were quite high, and he looked none too dignified as he scampered back into the bushes, leaving the oak leaves on the trail. Must've been some good acorns up there.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Beat the Clock

Not in terms of running, but in getting this blog entry written before a meeting I got in six minutes.

Playing catchup again. As long as I continue to not have internet access at home and busy days at work this may continue. Could be as long as three more weeks (long story).


Thursday: met the Thursday evening crowd at the Art Museum and looking to go tempo, but Ian beat me to it and everybody else had other plans. So I did a loop of the Drives myself, doing miles in (this is from memory) about 6:30; 6:05; 5:58; 5:55; 5:57; 5:56; 7:25 and 6:56. The sub 6 miles were designed to be tempo miles, still a good chunk slower than the range I want to be in but not totally ugly either. I felt good after this as I don't feel like I've been running hard much lately (hence the previous jogger post).

9 miles total running. And I did 4 in the morning in about 32 minutes. So 13 for the day.

Friday: DNR

Saturday: 18 mile run up into the Montgomery County hills with John Dubs, Ian, Deirdre, and Craig. Awfully hot and humid with some insane acclivities. Read John's account for a flavor of how "fun" the run was. But I'm a better runner for it. Total time was 2:24 and change. Then proceeded to spend the rest of the day furniture moving.

Sunday: Ran the Stone Harbor Lions 10k. This is the third straight year that I've run this. Its a flat course but typically run in hot and humid conditions. This race was no exception to this. I don't have much of an idea of what kind of shape I'm in and my legs were pretty beat up from Saturday, so I did not have high expectations. I lined up with fellow PACTC'ers Chuck Shields, who was looking to do something in the 35 minute range, and Jeff Hayes. For the first mile we ran together in a pace, XC style, and hit 5:41; 2nd mile was in 5:35 and Jeff started to fade. Me and Chuck worked together for most of the third mile and as we approached the 3.1 mile turnaround I started to let Chuck go. I passed the halfway point in 17:55 and missed the split for mile 4. Mile 5 went by in 6:18 and I had no clue that my pace had dropped this drastically. Going into the last mile I started hearing footsteps, which got me moving and I managed to hold on for 7th place with a 5:58 final mile, and an official finishing time of 37:04.

I have mixed feelings about this time, but figure it is more than fair for my training and lack of taper. Reba came down to the Shore with me, and after having brunch with various other PACTC folks we hung out on the beach for awhile. That is, after all, the true attraction of this race.

Call it 8 miles total with the warmup and cooldown.

Today: DNR. My legs are just too beat up. I wish I could spend more time on this blog, but the meeting is already over and in writing this I am falling more behind on my day. Hang in there with me a bit longer, things will settle down again.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Damn You, Ian

Yesterday's track meet was rained out and postponed to today, which I won't be able to make. To make a long story short, I didn't get in an alternate workout. Yeah, I could have gone out to run, but the hassle of rearranging things and competing demands of work and house stuff took up my time until it got dark, whence I opted for Thai food with Reba. Go here to read about what I should have done.

That left some stuff for me to think about this morning. Again, when it got time to run I started getting bogged down with house stuff. It's hard to call this procrastination as it really is stuff that needs to get done, and I do feel good seeing the differences in a house that needs some work. So when I got out this morning I figured I'd run an hour's worth. Figured I'd do something down on the Drives and headed out there. I was minding my own business running through Penn campus when I heard footsteps from behind. I'm not used to getting overtaken, but relaxed a bit when it turned out to be Deirdre. She was heading home so I decided to alter my route and head down South Street for the company. She in turn headed further down South St. to reach a destination where she could supply her other addiction, and we parted ways at 10th St. I headed down into South Philly and back around on this route for exactly 60 minutes (actually 60:11) and 7.5 miles.

This worked out well, as it got me off of my usual routes and exploring into South Philly. The weather was cool, and in the aftermath of all of the rain we'd been having everything looked clean and washed. Lots of new construction and homes for sale along Ellsworth St., making this seem to be a neighborhood in transition. Makes me feel like I want to run down here some, bite off a new area of the city and "digest" it until it becomes familiar.

This run joined my other recent runs in having a different feel to them, one I can best describe as jogging. What I mean by this is that it is a run for the sake of the run - medium effort and distance - instead of something I see as contributing much for preparing for any upcoming race. I tried to imagine this in my head, to just run for being out there, rather than how this will contribute to my weekly mileage or training. To lack a plan or a bigger picture. In short, how 95% of folk that run run. And I understood that feeling and tried it on for size. Its easy to do on a morning like this one, which is perfect for running. And I thought of how embracing this "jogger" image today would mean the difference between my having a good run and having yet another run of less intensity and less mileage than I wanted.

And I'm leaving it there. Not in an agonizing manner but in one that I trust will work itself out. The question then becomes how.

Monday, August 20, 2007


Club West Philly reunion this morning. Met Deirdre and Erin this morning, and were joined by Hillary, who is now a CWP regular. Erin's daughter, Iris, was along for the ride in the baby jogger as well.

We did the five mile loop that Erin and Hillary have been doing. Erin is still on the mommy track, runningwise, and the run was easy and chatty, going down to Penn's campus and then out to the West Philly streets. With about a half mile left, Hillary took a dive and so we walked the last part.

I had forgotten how motivating it is to run with others. There was a steady drizzle falling, and I am adverse to rain but knowing that people would be waiting gave me that push out of a warm, inviting bed and out the door.

Tomorrow is the Wissahickon Wanderers track meet, which I'll do instead of my track workout, and perhaps also do a short morning run along with it.

5 miles, again no time kept.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Long Way Home

I'm smack in the middle of my move.

I don't know how much I've written on this in previous posts, but I had bought out Cindy's share of the equity in the house we used to share and, after spending almost a year in an apartment my daughter not-so-affectionately referred to as the "shoe box", I am moving back to Hazel Ave, to the house I lived in before. I love that house, I love this neighborhood.

One problem, however, is that I don't yet have internet access at Hazel, and may be a few weeks until I do. This may make blogging a little more sporadic.

Hopefully it will make running a bit more regular. One result of the move is that I change, ever so slightly (the move takes me a block and a half away) the start and finish places of my routes. It's a little thing, but a very meaningful one. I thought of this when I sat on the steps of my front porch after my run this morning. Its hard to describe, but sitting there I felt home.

I've been good about running, just not about blogging. Quick recap of what I've done since I last checked in:

Friday: SMB loop, which I wanted to take part of at tempo but it didn't feel right. So I just took it easy. Timing malfunction on my watch kept me from timing the whole loop, I was going somewhere sub 8 pace on MLK. 11 miles, just as well I don't have a time for it.

Saturday: Paid a visit to the Lansdowne Sycamore on my way around the loop through Lansdowne, Yeadon and SE Philly. The tree looks well, and by choice I didn't wear a watch. This gives a much different feel to the run, a good feeling this afternoon as the run seemed less urgent. I ran at a decent pace but with the feeling that it didn't matter what pace I ran. I need to remember this.

Sunday (today): I ran home from Reba's house on a route that gave me 18 miles - 5 miles through Tinicum and then the last 13 on this route. This put the long and slow back into LSD. My legs felt creaky at the beginning and I just went with it, running the first mile in a 10:25 and never getting much under an 8:15 pace at my fastest. Tinicum, much of which is drained currently, was awash in a purple flower that is in bloom. From there, it was down Lindbergh Blvd./Greys Ferry Ave to Center City and then up MLK Drive and into Fairmount Park at Montgomery Ave. After mile 1, when I got to Tinicum, I could see the Center City skyline way in the distance, and it was a strange feeling to know that during the course of my run I would go all the way to those tall buildings and then some. Like in the Wizard of Oz, those alabaster buildings were constantly on the horizon after that, slowly looming closer. Total time was 2:35:13, about the time I'd be on my feet in a marathon.

I've still got alot of thoughts on my running that I haven't delved into. But they will come out in due time as I figure out what to do with this upcoming season.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Lie la Lie

Well I'm back. About as long an absence as I've had from this blog.

Various reasons for the sabbatical. I will process this as I start blogging again, but for now I'll just say I've been hit with various things - a move, a ton of work, travel, kids, heat and other intangibles that have made running more challenging. The thing that intrigues me is that they have not been insurmountable things, just things that have made it harder to get out and I have not really been up to the occasion. Now it feels like I've pretty much blown the prospect of being as competitive as I was last fall. Strangely, I don't feel bummed about that, and will likely use this blog to keep processing that. Hopefully this spell is over, at least for the next week as things have let up a bit. But I'll take it a day at a time.

For starters, I will try to reconstruct my running for the past few weeks, starting with the most recent. Doing this is the thing that seems most daunting to getting back to blogging, so I'll tackle it first.

This morning - some folks I'm doing work with from out of town are were in from Columbus yesterday and today for meetings. One of these folks, Barb, asked me where some good running places were and ended up meeting at 6 this morning and took a variation of the Art Museum loop. Gave me the chance to play tour guide on this loop. Came in a bit under 7.5 in 71:39. We were taking it easy but definitely faster than that pace.

Monday (8/13) - ran Tinicum, looked to do 60 and got in about 58. Ran a new variation of the trails, with the full bottom half of the figure 8 and an abbreviated top part that took me past bulldozers that are being used to clear old Delaware River dredge used decades ago to fill the marsh in a project to restore the marsh. Funded in part by reparations from Sunoco for the oil spill they had in Tinicum several years back. Call it 7 miles.

Thursday (8/9) - ran a 6.5 mile Art Museum loop. Nothing spectacular, say 52 minutes or so. This was the first run I ran out of the house I just rebought, and the old starting and stopping points brought about a ton of old feelings. More on this in some future blog entry.

Tuesday (8/7) - 800s on the Washington & Lee HS track in Arlington. Godawful hot and humid the way it that characterizes a DC summer, even at 7 am. Looked to do 8x800 in around 2:40. First one was in 2:39, but I knew that wouldn't last. Climbed down the ladder, 2:41, and so on down to about 2:57. These felt slow but were really difficult, and I thought I should be able to at least get one rep faster than the previous one. But I did negative split, running the first 400 relatively slow and speeding up on the second one for reps 5 through 8. Left feeling good about sticking it out for the 8 reps I had set out to do, and blowing off two of the cooldown miles. Cooldown was an oxymoron on a morning like that, and so I got in 8 miles.

Sunday (8/5) - in Stony Point at my mom's. Ran 3 Rockland Lake loops of 3 miles apiece as Rebecca walked around the lake. Negative split each loop, starting in 26 something, going down to 23 something, and finishing in 20 something. This is where I started my running back at age 14, and it was fun to show it to Rebecca. 9 miles total.

Saturday (8/4) - in Central Park. 3 loops around the jogging path. Call it six miles apiece. Early morning, but still hot and humid. Each loop faster than the last, but for the life of me I cannot remember what I ran. This is hallowed running ground, and although three repeats got a bit tedious I just drank in being among all the NYC runners. 18 miles total.

Friday (8/3) - getting fuzzy now. Ran an extended airport loop with at least four of the miles at tempo/marathon pace (sub 6 minute). I took down splits at key checkpoints here but have long forgotten them. Finished in a good time for this loop, but again that is lost to posterity. 15.5 miles.

That brings me up to date. Lots of thoughts and details lost to posterity, but I'm glad I at least got down the bones of these runs. Enough of looking backwards, time to look ahead. The song that is running through my head is trite enough to where I hesitate to write it down, but it describes my sentiments.

In the clearing stands a boxer and a fighter by his trade
And he carries a reminder of every glove that laid him down
Or cut him, till he cried out in his anger and his pain
I am leaving, I am leaving but the fighter still remains...

Lie la lie, see you on the roads.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Quick Check In

Just a quick note to write that I am alive and, more importantly, I am running. Not as much as I want but enough to keep me from whining.

I am having trouble keeping up with this blog of late. Travel, moving, work, kid care, and running are all leaving it hard to get in a few words. Like missing runs, I feel it when I miss my blogging. Hope I don't lose too much fitness.

I'll be back around, just bear with me for a bit.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Happy August

The first of the month means that, aside from being Jerry Garcia's birthday, I have to set up a new page in my Excel log where I keep track of my runs, mileage etc. It also means I look over the past month. I went into July with high hopes, and a combination of things led to a more modest training regimen. I got in 180 miles last month. In July of 06 I got in 330 miles.

But its now August. Last year I got in 300 miles even in August. One day down and I'm still on track to hit that. I ran Tinicum in what I would describe not as an easy, but as a relaxed pace. Splits (compare them to Monday) were 46:29 for the first 5+ and 37:54 for the back 5. Listening to M Ward going out and Springsteen's Live in Dublin on the way back.

Along with the usual wildlife, I saw foxes - of the two and four-legged variety, a fawn that was small but very fast, horseflies, a gutted fish carcass, and a dead goldfinch. I also saw a possibly unopened 2 liter Gatorade bottle and a bag full of beer bottles which I couldn't tell if they were full or empty. I mention that because I've been seeing alot of unopened or halfway consumed bottles of various liquids along the sides of roads and trails - much more lately than I've ever seen. I wonder if I'd ever get to the point of being dehydrated enough to where I'd pick up one of those bottles. I also wonder why I've seen so many of them lately.

I'll leave you to chew on that. 10 miles in 84:24.