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, September 27, 2007

Baby Steps

John (in his comment) is right in that the swelling looks ugly. I was discouraged last night when I took that picture. However I'm surprised at the speed at which my mobility is coming back.

Yesterday afternoon I was able to return to a "normal" walking motion, after spending the day before on crutches and that morning swinging my right leg in a stiff kneed motion. I was still favoring the outside of my right foot. This morning that walk was easier, and on two occasions coming to work I broke into a little jog for 20 meters or so and it worked!

Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to do a workout today. There still is pain and I still favor the outside of my foot. But while the foot continues to look ugly, its definitely feeling better.

We'll see.

Guess Which Foot has the Cankle

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

One False Move

Had a good run set up yesterday morning in Columbus. The folks I'm working for over there told me of a path that follows the Scioto River that starts about 4 blocks from my hotel and that goes out 5 miles to the Ohio State University campus and beyond. I figured I'd do 5 out and turn back.

I had no trouble finding the path. It was dark and there was no one on the path. This was spooky, but still much preferable to a 10 mile treadmill workout. With about 2.5 miles down the path becomes fenced in and is closed due to construction. I go onto the grass next to it and then veer over to the wide shoulder on the street that runs parallel to the path.

And then it happened. I figure I must take tens of thousands of steps running. Virtually all of them land as intended. But the one I took to get onto the shoulder of the street did not. In the dark I failed to notice the curb that dropped about six inches to the road and my right foot buckled under my leg which rolled outside. I went down amidst pain and cursing.

I knew as soon as I went down that I sprained/tore some ligaments and that my run was over. I knew I'd be sitting through a few minutes of excruciating pain, and gritted my teeth accordingly. Then I looked out at the downtown Columbus "skyline", still lit up, in the distance and wondered how I'd get back to the hotel.

This is one of those lonely moments I get when my running strands me and I realize I have nothing on my person but shorts, a shirt, and sneakers. I flagged down a pick up truck driven by a guy who was doing construction on the site that was closed off, and he very graciously gave me a ride back downtown. Then I hobbled through a full day that included a presentation and a trip home.

First off, I'm okay. I haven't gotten a sprain in a long time but knew that is what it is, and didn't see a need to go to an ER to have them tell me this. Last night the area above my ankle was very swollen, the swelling seems to have gone down a bit today. Yesterday I couldn't walk without crutches, today I'm hobbling around without them. Running is of course out of the question for the next few days.

So I'm still trying to see where I'm at with this. I am very disappointed, as it looked like I was finally gaining some traction with my training. I also have races scheduled for the next few weekends, and I'm still not ruling them out but I'm very conscious not to do anything stupid. Right now it depends on day to day progress, and its too early to tell what that is going to be like.

But mostly I'm feeling depressed about getting this injury and the consequences associated with it. Not just running, but how all of life's details become that much more complicated due to my limited mobility.

I probably won't post anything until I start running again, which I'm still hoping (clinging to the hope) will be the weekend. In the meantime, send positive karma and healing thoughts toward my right ankle.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Squeezing One Out

Greetings from Columbus Ohio. Here is a pic I found on the web that is virtually identical to the view I have from the desk in my hotel room. I'm out here overnight on business.

Didn't plan to run today, but my plane got in early (USAir no less!) and I had about an hour at the hotel this morning to kill before I had to go off to my meeting. I used the time productively by getting in 4 miles on the hotel's hamster wheel.

There usually isn't much to write about when doing treadmill workouts except for the ideosyncracies of how I interact with the machinery - both the treadmill itself and whatever form of electronic diversion - iPod, tv, etc. - one uses to ease the tedium of these workouts. Its been months since I've last run indoors, so these elements were very apparent to me. Yet I don't feel much like going into details, and I don't know how much anyone would want to read them. My only interesting thought would be how, Buddhist-like, I could some time do my best to eliminate any diversion and just run the hamster wheel and contemplate the nothingness. A sure way to nirvana - or insanity.

Four miles was about right this morning. Not only was it all I had time for, but it also was, for me, an easy run after yesterday. This is preferable to a DNR because it lets me put some miles into my log - letting me keep momentum and maintain some semblance of weekly mileage.

So 4 it was. In 29:13.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Long Run

Set out to go 20 today. Have come close a few times, but have not done a bona fide 20 miler all year.

Plan was to combine this route, which I've run a few times before with a route that takes me down to Chester and then back. This gives me a chance to explore, as all I've ever seen of Chester has been out of a car window driving down I-95.

I figured unexplored territory would make the ass end of this long run a bit more interesting. Instead I missed a turn and a planned 20-miler turned out to be 22.5 after I finally came to the realization, on hitting the Commodore Barry Bridge, that I better turn around. The back 11 looked like this (in combining the two routes I have linked you take about a mile out of the first loop that goes down 420).

So I topped Ian in time spent on my feet, although he beat me in mileage. I take Long Slow Distance to heart, starting off at about a 10 minute pace, getting it down to sub 9 by the time I finally pop out at the other end of Tinicum, and I'd be surprised if I ever came under 8-minute pace for any of the run. Its the way I train, I think the value of these runs is the time you spend on your feet more than the miles covered. Its also valuable mentally. I must have been up to about 17 when I realized that I'd be doing a few extra miles, and I wasn't loving life at that minute. But the option was to keep running or be stuck in Chester. I kept running and am now stronger for it.

This part of the run was interesting. I followed Pa. Route 291 - Industrial Blvd, which takes me from Essington along the Delaware through Eddystone to Chester. Industrial Blvd is aptly named, as there are places that are still doing well, like Boeing or Exelon's Eddystone Generating Plant - which has the dubious distinction for being one of the dirtiest power generators around. Then there are the inevitable decaying hulks of factories and the like from the industrial heyday that has long since left and will likely never return. And then there is the new growth, exemplified by Harrah's Casino and Racetrack, whose entrance and sign is set against the background of the State Correctional Institution at Chester. A casino cheek to jowl with a prison in an economically depressed post-industrial city. This bit of visual irony was quite striking, but I couldn't find any pictures of this posted on the internet. I'll have to take some of my own pics next time.

All in all, the residential parts of Chester I went through were not as dilapidated as I expected. By then I also just wanted to get the run done. Final result was, as I said, 22.5 miles in 3:13:48.

Came back to an omelette brunch that couldn't be beat.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Destination Run

Did a point to point run today from my house to Reba's house. The run felt like a bridge from one half of the day to the other. After a relaxing morning I took off around 1, and it was hotter than I realized. Like August was clinging on for dear life, unwilling to surrender to the inevitable. 83 degrees out and it felt humid.

Ran a bit of a variation on the quickest route, taking Warrington out to Cobbs Creek to 70th St. to Lindbergh Blvd. and then out to Tinicum. This stretches the route to 10.5 miles and cuts off much of the over-trafficked and ugly part of Lindbergh. Tinicum was shady but very quiet, seems like the critters had the sense to lay low, except for the egrets wading in Darby Lake, and were probably shaking their heads at the mad runner.

But I made it to Reba's. 10.5 (5.5 to Tinicum in 44:58 and back 5 miles in 38:13) in 83:12.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Surveillance Junkie

Grellan notes in a comment that he is a "surveillance junkie." I suppose we all are. I have noted the withdrawal symptoms, or at least the unease, I feel when I am on a run without my watch. Much of my assessment of how a run went hangs on the numbers that my watch emits. The same with regard to my planning of how far and how hard I go. As I get older, and in anticipation of getting slower, I think more of what running would look like away from the temporal gaze. That is woodchuck.

But that wasn't today. This morning I was under double temporal surveillance. I got to the track at 6:50 and had until 7:30 to get a run in so I could get ready for an early meeting, and had a brace of five 1000m reps (w/ 4oom rec) on tap to do in a 3:30 to 3:35 target range. This is better known as 5000 meters on the installment plan.

I switched back and forth between clock time and stopwatch time. Because of the limited clock time I only did warmups/strides for a mile. This was less than ideal but good enough to get me going. For once I underestimated what I could run. Reps went by in 3:30; 3:23; 3:25; 3:24 and 3:22. 5k in five easy payments - 17:04. I obviously felt strong, and for this morning the clock was my friend.

Beautiful sunrise over the Interboro High track to boot. 5.5 miles total, will try to get some easy miles in this afternoon as well. Overall time was 40:52; which means I got back to the car right at 7:31.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Woodchuck Metaphysics - The Tyranny of Space and Time

The need to sleep cut short my run this morning. It was calculated this way, and probably not a bad thing for my beat up legs. I did however want to get out and run something.

So I ran the Franklin Field loop to 49th St, a little later than usual, which meant that the sun was a bit brighter than I was used to in the mornings and the traffic was a little heavier. Got to run past the Lea Library building on Penn campus, when the red sandstone gets lit by the morning sun it is one of my favorite buildings in Philadelphia. It was a beautiful morning to be out, if only for a little while.

I ran without a watch, which is liberating. I got somewhat Foucaultian towards the end of my running thinking about how the watch is an instrument of surveillance - modifying my behavior and an object used as the basis of judgement. Perched on my wrist, it ticks away as I run. I may forget about it but I always come back to it. In running without it I become aware of its omnipresence. It feels funny to stop at a light and think about how the seconds are progressing. Alternately when I speed up I realize it doesn't matter. When I finish the run, I have nothing to judge myself by save by how I feel.

The same can be said for mapping software. I could not resist this morning, I had to know if I could legitimately call the course 4 miles, hence the link I embedded previously. Distance, logged day after day and week after week, is another surveillance device I inflict upon myself. Why can't I just run for as long as I feel like and take as much time as feels right?

Sure enough, the course only came to 3.9 miles. What to do now? Despite having confessed my little secret, I will still call it four miles.

So there.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

You're Invited to the DDC

The Delaware Distance Classic is coming. October 7. A 15k in Wilmington.

Yes, I know its a bit far for most of us, and 15k is a clunky distance. Ergo, not a target race for most of us. But it is a fixture on Mid-Atlantic's Grand Prix circuit and it holds a place near and dear to my heart.

One year ago, that is where Reba and I first met. A bit of an unlikely meeting, but it has led to wonderful things. So we are going to run it again and afterwards have a tailgate party to celebrate the anniversary. Champagne will flow and I'm not sure yet what else. But I promise it will beat the usual stale bagels, bananas and Powerade.

You're invited! Please come. The only condition is that you either run or spectate. You can sign up here. Let me know too. Check back soon for more details, and perhaps a reminisce or two.

As for today, Reba and I headed down to the Drives this morning. Reba met a new running buddy down there, and I settled in with an old running buddy/nemesis - the Kelly/MLK Drive path. Goal was to run the first four miles as a progression run, and then the back four at tempo (sub 6) pace. Actual mile splits were: for the front four - 8:02; 7:18; 6:39; 6:26 - and for the back four - 5:56; 5:53; 5:45; 5:50. For the first time in weeks, I nailed a tempo run.

Beautiful morning to do so. Still dark when I started out. Surprised how many people were out running this early. The morning got lighter as I got faster. Ran the three miles home as a cooldown.

11 miles in 1:17:10. Just about my PDR time.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Recovery Run

One of the reasons why I am so up on my PDR performance on Sunday is that I feel back into things, that I can get a good racing season yet out of this Fall. I felt excited at the prospect of working out hard again with a goal in mind.

Then came this morning and the prospect of actually having to run the run. This should have been a hard workout but I took advantage of some lingering soreness and did a "Tenicum" - my bread and butter 10 mile loop through Tinicum - instead. That enthusiasm from yesterday wasn't there, but I'm old enough not to have looked for it. Running is ultimately about hard work and going out there time after time when its the last thing you want to do... and then go and do it again the next day, or the same afternoon. Relentlessly.

But I'm overdramatizing. I reminded myself that I should be enthusiastic, laughed that I wasn't, put on my shoes and set out. Tenicum was a good call this morning. I didn't feel great runningwise, and headphone problems and a tumble and some other things kept my run from ever getting into a good rhythm. That being said, I hit Tinicum right at sunrise and it was beautiful. As Reba mentioned, the bunnies are largely gone and instead I am seeing many more deer (leading me to wonder if the bunnies grow up to become deer). I saw a pair of turkeys that were closer and more sleek than I had ever seen them (so pretty they could have been on a liquor bottle) and got schooled by a fox who let me get to within about 30 meters and then just took off down the trail, front feet and back feet bounding together, and really hammered it for a good 200 meters before he got out of sight.

I better hang with the woodchucks, as I am far from the fastest creature to lurk in Tinicum.

10 miles in 90:41, this includes some running clock for different stops (stoppage time?). Last five in 39:25 is a more accurate gauge.

Monday, September 17, 2007


I'll get in my lbrr before I get to work.

Yesterday was the Philadelphia Distance Run, which I knew I would run but took me to the last minute to admit to myself (and others) that I would. That indecisiveness cost me a $70 entry fee. For that kind of dough they should provide me with a personal porta potty.

But instead they actually cut back on prize money. I say this mainly so I can drop into this account the fact that I was third overall master in this race last year, for which I got modestly rewarded. This year masters money only went one deep. I guess that is what happens when a for-profit group takes over the race. What'll it be next year?

Last year's PDR is the best race I've ever run at any distance. Finishing time was a 1:13:33. No way I was gonna get near this time this year.

There, I got that out of my system. I think that was the stumbling block to registering. It took me awhile to face that fact square in the eye, but once I did I was okay with it. In fact, knowing that I wasn't going to run a 1:13, that there was no way in hell I'd even come close, took any pressure I might have put on myself off of this race.

Conditions were perfect for running, as well as for just being alive. I drove down with Reba and, after parking on 31st Street, we walked the last bit to the Art Museum. We're not out of the car for 50 meters and I reach into my pocket and realize my timing chip isn't there. Crap. Reba offers to drive back to my house, I say forget it, no one should care about my time today anyway. Two or three years ago it would have been unthinkable that I'd think that.

At the Art Museum I doffed my long pants (yes, it was that cool) and warmed up on MLK Drive. About a half mile out there is a porta potty and it had no line when I got there (I guess I did get my own private potty). I had about five minutes till the start to run back, and got into the corral just as the National Anthem was finishing up. I felt strong at the warmup. I felt loose, saying to myself just try to run a sub 6 pace for as long as I can. A 1:17 finish and I'll be happy. If I go slower than that, I'll still be happy.

Now if a race is run with no chip to register the finishing time, is it run at all? I could write that I ran a 1:13 and there'd be no way to prove me wrong. But I'll tell you now that I didn't run a 1:13. I pondered this existential conundrum and related permutations as I took it slow for the first mile. No weaving or shucking or jiving, just being patient and letting the crowd breakup in front of me. Like a polar bear on an ice flow. I run by Deirdre at about a half mile. Mile 1 in 6:21. It didn't bother me. I felt good and I was running through Center City on streets that, for this morning, belonged to our feet. Coming up on two miles I run by Stan Cooper, running his 30th PDR. I spend some of my precious breath congratulating him. Mile 2 is in 5:54 and I'm passing gobs of people at a time. Its worth running the first mile slow just for this. I take notice of a guy who passes me and latch on to him, letting him blaze a path through and around the still fairly dense competition. The downtown buildings create wind tunnels at times, creating constant decisions about when to draft and when to pass. I mostly chose the latter.

Mile 3 went by in 5:59 and at the 5k mark I crossed the chip mat to a deafening silence. I was invisible, off the radar screen, creeping up and bypassing my prey and moving on. Mile 4 in 5:55 and I got impatient with my pacer. Mile 5 in 5:54 and we were on the Drives. A second guy blows by me and again I lasso onto him. Mile 6 in 5:56. This is my current tempo pace, which makes sense, as running wisdom has one setting tempo pace at the speed of running a half marathon. Last week it was all I could do to get down to this pace in my tempo run, today it felt effortless.

Still regularly passing folks. We pass one chunk of about 10 or 12 folks (why do guys cluster around female runners?), and I could feel myself rising in the rankings, but it wouldn't matter, today I was nobody. Mile 7 in 5:55, a some point around here I pull ahead of 1902 (the number of my second pacer) but he takes affront to this and promptly passes me back. This unburdens my guilt at his pacing me. Mile 8 in 5:52, we're still passing folks, sometimes 1902 goes right and I go left, once we just plowed through a group of four. I see Andy Cherry up ahead in his trademark striped red and white shirt. Andy schooled me at Broad Street this year, and I got some satisfaction from running by him. Then its up the steepest hill on the course and over the Falls Bridge.

Keep waiting for the shoe to drop and keep running sub 6 minute splits. Mile 9 in 5:52 and now every mile is one less I can die on. Mile 10 in 5:54, giving me a time of 59:35.
25 seconds in the bank. I feel great and I'm eyeing a trio of bright orange-clad Central Park Track Club guys ahead in the distance. 1902 and me are now racing instead of working together, throwing in and matching surges. I'm loving it as I never have on the ass-end of this course. Unencumbered by the weight of the chip on my shoe, I close the gap on the CPTC guys, and as I'm in striking distance I drop it down a gear. Mile 11 goes by in 5:45 and I blow by the group in front of me as I lose 1902. I recognize one of the CPTC guys as Stuart Calderwood, he's having a strong race. Now I know every bump and turn, and smile as Kelly Drive throws her 2-way headwind at me. Mile 12 in 5:51 and we're closing in on the finish. I hear footsteps. I respond with another 5:45 for mile 13. Its down to the last 0.1 and I hear footsteps behind me. Not today, and drop it down one more gear. 33 seconds for the coda and I cross the finish in 1:17:33. I turn to see who my stalker is and embrace Stuart. If I had my chip, I'd be right above him in the results. But I didn't tell him my secret, and he'll be looking for me in the results and scratch his head. Was I a figment of his imagination?

I also shook hands with 1902. When I later looked at the results it was my turn to scratch my head. Apparently he was in the porta potty longer than I was, as he had an additional minute or so differential between gun and chip time, and thus although I beat him in the race he finished about 45 seconds ahead of me in the standings. So who won? Another conundrum.

I'm very pleased with my time, with how good I felt, with how much fun I had. Ironically, I ran Allentown last April in about the same time and was very disappointed at a time that was actually a few seconds faster. The race lets me know I'm in low to mid 2:40's marathon shape, and lets me take things accordingly. I'm thinking cheetah mode again.

And I've got a cheetah girlfriend. Reba smashed her old PR by over 6 minutes. You can read about it on her blog. We'd celebrate that later with dinner. I got me a cheetah buddy, as Ian ran 1:14 something. And I got an admirer of my fashion sense, to whom I ask, how about them Phils?

And the final irony. We get back to the car and there is my chip, sitting on my seat. I can't believe I didn't think to go back and look in the car before the race. My subconscious must have blocked it out. It worked out nicely, but now I'll have to mail back the chip.

Life is good, I'm happy.

Friday, September 14, 2007


Only time for quickies today - quick run and quick post.

Another late night last night, this one more planned - part choice and part necessity - than usual (so I can live with that) but still kept me from getting up early. I lay in bed and said that I need to be done running by 8:30. By the time I got out it was a little before 8, so I took on woodchuck mode and ran 4 around Franklin Field and up to 49th St. Something to feed the addiction, about the minimum dose my body will react to.

Had M Ward on the iPod. Its been on it for awhile, the first time I really got into it. Good stuff. 4 miles slow, won't say how slow. Call it a taper run for PDR.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Discipline and Punish

Resolved to go to bed early last night and didn't do it. I said this would not be another night of 5 hours sleep, so I slept a bit later and cut my run back. Wanted to do 10 and settled for 6.5. I don't know if this little attempt at greater self-discipline will work, but I've been spending too long going to bed too late and thinking that I can still run early in the morning. Maybe now I'll think a little more about consequences.

I sound like my own parent.

Ran an Art Museum loop, and added some onto the beginning to get it above 6.5 miles and to prevent Reba from comparing todays time with the last time I ran this loop. Cause I know she would do this.

Another gorgeous morning. Definite woodchuck run, and I probably needed it after yesterday's workout. I also decided I'm in for the Philadelphia Distance Run. Last year's PDR was the best race performance I've ever put in, I don't expect to get anywhere near that this year but its one of those races that everyone in Philly comes out for and I'd hate to miss it. So I'm in, and will take it semi-easy for the rest of the week leading up to it.

Nothing much noteworthy about the run today. Need new music on the iPod. 6.5 in 55:58.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sept. 12

Well, I did what I'd been dreading for several weeks now. I emailed my friend Barry in Minneapolis and told him I wouldn't be going out there to run Twin Cities. I'm just not ready to race, and its really not a good time right now to take a road trip.

Can't help thinking today has an ominous feel to it, and figured out that this is the same weather I remember from Sept 11 ('01). It was a gorgeous, perfect, cool sunny morning and I was in Springfield Illinois, just finished a run of about 5 miles out in the woods and came back to the hotel and saw the Towers burning on tv.

For once I did it right this morning. Got up at 5:15 to get out the door at 5:35 so I can run long and still be back by 7:30 to see Maricela off to school (yes, at last it has started). Did a Bloody Nipple loop to see what kind of shape I'm in. Reluctantly I set 6 minutes as the target pace for my 4 tempo miles on MLK. I reflected sadly how last year this, and a little faster, was marathon pace. Running out there I felt like I just didn't have it this morning. This usually has little bearing on how good I actually run, but it was all I could do to get the first tempo mile in at 6:21. Ugh. I made tentative plans to bail at Strawberry Mansion Bridge and settle for a shorter loop. But mile 2 came in at 6:06, and there was hope. Mile 3 was in 5:59 as I sped past SMB, I could no longer cut this one short. And mile 4, including the steepest hill on the PDR course, went down in 5:51. Damn. The overall pace was still in the sixes, but salvaging the last three miles was more than enough consolation.

I went on to chug the second part of my tempo run, up Bloody Nipple hill around Ford Rd. and out to Belmont Plateau in 17:55 (9:33 for the BN checkpoint). A far cry from my best, but I showed some heart on the MLK part, and I'll take it.

And I got back right at 7:30 when Maricela was headed out the door. Busted her for not eating breakfast and we got to chat for a few minutes in the kitchen.

Total was 13.5 miles in 104-something.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Two Fer

Didn't get to blog again yesterday. When I miss days regularly, you may read between the lines and infer my life is unbalanced. And right now it is, still, but in ways that seem to evolve. To go into all that would be better served on a different blog; here I'll focus on my running.

Yesterday I felt an easy day was warranted. I headed down to meet Club West Philly at Erin's at 6:30. Along with Erin & Iris, Hillary and Jody were there as well. I haven't seen Jody in ages, so long that I found out he and his wife had a baby two weeks ago, and I didn't even know they were expecting. Much of the run revolved around baby talk. Its hard to keep a conversation when you are four runners and a baby stroller trying to keep to the side of the road. Good to see everyone and good to know that CWP is still going strong. On running the half mile home by myself I thought about how CWP has morphed into different variations in the past years, and pondered in what directions it would go in the future.

6 in 47:48.

Today I had my block watch shift. We had a rash of burglaries in the neighborhood over the past month, and in response my good neighbors organized to have a few of us each night watching the block from 2 to 6 (split into two shifts) in the morning. It works out to being up in the wee hours once a week. I did this last Tuesday morning and the only thing that got robbed was my sleep. Nonetheless, thinking that it is the neighborly thing to do and that this effort can't be collectively sustained much longer (I can't imagine I'm the only one for whom a middle of the night shift is hard), I again was out from 4-6 this morning. This time I did it a bit smarter, however. Larry, my shift partner, and I split up the shift so that for the first hour he would "patrol" and I hung out (as "backup") on my porch and prepped for todays class. Then at 5am I put my running shoes on and for the last hour ran figure 8's around the 4600 blocks of Hazel, Cedar and Larchwood Aves.

Hardly a thrilling run but the only way I was gonna get one in today. I wavered between being glad I got myself out there to thinking I should push my running more. The problem was that I'd check my watch on the completion of every figure 8, and the faster I'd take the loop the slower the time seemed to go. Each figure 8 took between 4-6 minutes, depending on how hard I pushed it. Most of the time I did fartleky type running, changing speeds alot. That's about all that can be said on that. If there's a shift next week, I'll probably get a bit more rigorous.

The only consolation, besides the fact that the block has been kept safe, is that I get to see the block at a time when I'm usually oblivious to it. There is really nothing going on till about 5, and then the neighborhood slowly starts to wake up. A shout also goes out to my neighbor Melinda, who for the second straight week was spotted getting in her car at 5:15 on her way to hit the Drives. Now there is dedication to training.

An hour's worth of running, conservatively call it six miles.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Long Hot Run

One key to more consistent training is getting to bed early. This didn't happen last night. But I was determined to run anyway. I had it in my mind and bided my time this morning until I finally made it out - a little before 11. The penalty I paid for this was a hot sun beating down.

I needed to be back by 1. So that gave me two hours to run. About 15 miles.

Another key to consistent running is to have my music set up to go. I bought new, quality headphones yesterday and put every song just about that has ever inspired me to run on one playlist, and even borrowed a few that Ian has sent me over the years.

I had about 30 songs that would last about two hours. I was set.

With weather like this you just bear down and run. I made sure I was well hydrated upon going out and I had me a belly full of crepes for fuel. Ran out to Manayunk via Kelly Drive doing the marked miles at an 8 flat pace. From there it was across the river on Green Lane and running Belmont from its inception down to where it becomes 44th St., and then some.

Listening to what got me going in years past worked. May have worked two well in that it was an emotional run. I tuned into different times and frames of mind as the songs, arranged in no particular order, progressed. This emotion was my fuel last year, and it is what is missing this time around.

So I'm on a roll again. We'll see how long it lasts. Call it 15 miles, 2:03:46.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Battle Royale

DNR again yesterday. No real good reason other than I didn't go out in the morning and my day was too booked to squeeze it in otherwise.

Today was the "Battle Royale," a cross country meet put on by Bob Schwelm and the Bryn Mawr Running Store at Belmont Plateau. Its mainly a challenge match between them and the rival Philadelphia Runner store team, but it is set in the context of an open meet that is one event among a series of high school races. And there is actually team prize money three deep.

PACTC put a team together for this run. Kevin and I both ran out to Belmont Plateau, about 3 miles, and met Chuck Shields, Bob Rimkis, Neil Clarke, Matt Vavala and Jeff Hayes. We figured we had a shot at 3rd, and got more confident when it didn't look like there was a fourth team around.

The plateau is a legendary cross country course in the Philadelphia region, and has two killer hills - Flagpole hill and Parachute hill. The course today was four miles, 2 times around a 2 mile loop that incorporates these two hills. My strategy was not to let these hills get me. This was a good race for me right now, as running such a course pretty much ensures that time doesn't matter and that you concentrate more on place. The temperature was easily in the 80's by the 10:30 starting time and the sun was beating down.

The race starts and immediately goes up Flagpole. As we run up the hill the runners sort themselves and Chuck is a bit ahead with me, Kevin and Bob running kind of together. We looked like we were working as a team but really didn't feel that way. I'm holding my place and saving myself for the first Parachute. Mile 1 marker passes in 5:20, this feels fast like the marker is short. I pass Kevin on the ascent of Parachute and then go head to head with Rimkis on the descent, finally passing him going up a little bump of a hill and accelerating on the following downhill for a small lead. Rimkis hangs on to me for awhile and surges a few times, and I match. This continues until about three miles, and I open up a lead that I hold going up parachute. The descent is almost as hard as the going up, as I'm shuffling my feet in fast motion just to maintain some control. After this its a straightaway out of the woods and towards the finish. I can't see the next runner ahead of me and cruise in to 16th place. 24:19 for the 4 mile course.

I'll take it. Jason Bull, a BMRC runner, finished about 30 seconds ahead of me, depending who is in what shape and what distance we run, we alternate finishing ahead of each other. Chuck finished about 45 seconds ahead of me and Matt, after a fast start, hung on to finish about 5 seconds ahead of Chuck. Rimkis, Kevin, and Jeff finished immediately behind me. So we got 12, 14, 16-19 places. Very solid team effort that got us $100 to split. I was curious to see how I'd do against Kevin, who's been running very well on the track all year, but that kind of training does not lead to logging many miles. So while he's in much better shape than me, I think my training, despite its inconsistencies, is better suited for XC.

Lots of other thoughts like that going around in my mind. I'm in racing mode, and looking at who I can gun for if I get my training more regular. This is good, cheetah is getting hungry. We'll see how it goes. Cross country meets are fun, teams all hanging around in groups; lots of waiting around in a daylong event. I stuck around for awhile and ran home again for a 3 mile cooldown.

Total of 10 miles and a good morning's work.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


Every morning in Philadelphia, a cheetah wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest woodchuck or it's ego will be crushed. Every morning a woodchuck wakes up. It doesn't care if it outruns the slowest cheetah or not. So it doesn’t matter whether you are a cheetah or a woodchuck; when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.

That stupid little parable came into my head when I was running, and I spent a part of my cooldown doing horrible things to it.

First for the record, DNR on Monday and Tuesday and a "Tenicum" yesterday - my usual 10-mile figure eight around Tinicum refuge. Its getting light later in the mornings, and I left as the sun was rising. It was a red ball; I won't belabor cliches like "fiery red ball" although they are apt descriptions. This image, with the marsh in the foregrounds and cormorants silhouetted against it, lingers in my memory from the run. Interestingly, the time I ran it in, 87:09, with 47:40 and 39:29 splits, were almost identical to when I ran it last week. But it was a woodchuck run, so the splits don't matter.

Overslept this morning and ran during lunch this afternoon. Wanted to get a 60-minute run in. Decided to run an Art Museum loop, but at the last minute I heard the track crying, "Seebo, Seebo" and went down to Franklin Field, where I quickly made up a tempo workout.

I think tempo lite is the best term for it. Did 6400m with no recovery, about four miles, looking to start at sub-6 pace and taking each 1600 faster than the last. 1600 splits were 5:57; 5:54; 5:59; 6:05. Not exactly what I had in mind. I can use the weather as an excuse, the noonday sun beat down hard and WeatherUnderground says it is 86 degrees. I'd like to have gone faster, but I was really winded at the end of this run. I think the latter matters more, for as long as I push myself in workouts like this I'll improve in the long run (sic).

While the cheetah maintained his composure today, overall its turning out to be another woodchuck week. "Traction" is the latest term I'm using in describing my training, as I say to people "I'm running but I haven't been able to get the traction yet to where it feels like sustained training."

I should have said "tracktion" instead. Get it? 7.5 miles in 59:24 (running clock).

Sunday, September 02, 2007


Sunday night, thankfully tomorrow is Labor Day however. Got a few days to catch up on, but supposedly no one ever reads blogs on the weekends.

Friday and Saturday were non-eventful. Friday I didn't run at all, due to a confluence of work deadlines and the need (it being the end of the month) to get all of my stuff out of my apartment and into the house. Each went reasonably smoothly, but the combination of the two made for a stressful day and no time to get in a run. Well, I suppose I could have squoze it in after I got done moving, but I opted to go hear Bluegrass at Longwood Gardens with Reba. I guess slacking like that is why I won't ever make the Olympics.

Yesterday I slept in and got in an easy 7.5 in the afternoon. Sweetbriar loop. I gmapped it (actually its 7.7 miles) but lost the link. I didn't wear a watch. Not surprisingly, I run different when I do this. I realize it doesn't really matter if I stop at a light. A woman asked for directions and I stopped and made sure she understood them. I asked myself if I should pick up the pace and then shot back at myself "why?" This is the right kind of attitude for an easy day.

This morning I had to squeeze in my run before a canoe trip with Tony out in the Pine Barrens that took up my day. For once I rose to the occasion and made it out early on a Sunday morning, when there is no traffic and I have the city to myself. Plan was to run a "short" long run and run a good chunk of it at marathon pace. I conservatively set 6:15 as marathon pace, but when I got to the Drives and started to speed up, my governor switch kicked in at about 6:25 pace. Its interesting how I've been running long enough to know that, regardless of how fast or slow this pace was, it was around the fastest speed I could sustain for that long. The one mile I pushed really hard came in at 6:18. I felt that was the best I had in me this morning... could not have sustained that pace, nor gone any faster. So one more indicator that I'm in high 2:40's marathon shape. This really inclines me to postpone my next marathon until the winter so I can get more of an opportunity to train.

That was cheetah writing. Woodchuck was out this morning as well, enjoying the cooler temps and crisper sun. He also managed to shake cheetah out of his mp zone just long enough to ogle a few cute women running in skorts, but failed to nudge him hard enough to respond when one made an obvious move in my direction. D-Oh!

A loyal reader pointed out that in the whole google-sphere that is called the internet, this is the only site that features the "word" Zatopecian. Count yourself a true running geek if you know what that means.

14.5 miles in 1:49:38.