Seebo's Run

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

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Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Friday, November 30, 2007

Four and a Half Will Get You Twenty

Ran 4.5 on the hamster wheel this morning (33:39). Added the last half mile on so that my mileage this week is now at 20. And I still have the weekend to go. Hell, I might even hit 30.

The best way to get faster is to just put in more miles. I’ve often given that advice to folks and I’m surprised at how many times people have come back to me and said how they remember it. That's my training goal for December. Nice easy miles, and lots of them.

Other than that, not much to report on the hamster wheel. Had a bit of emotional energy to burn off so I was relishing the run. I started out the run listening to Robert Plant & Allison Krauss' new CD, Raising Sand. I planned to shift to something more driving as I picked up steam, but never got around to it. The CD initially comes across as very mellow, with emotions in primary colors and backed with strains of country and blues, but its got a deceptively understated beat that I tuned into and it worked out very well. God, I sound like a wine critic here. Anyway, well worth checking out.

Between this and Interpol, I'm starting to build up a stable of CDs for this training cycle. That's a very positive development.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Overcast late fall day today. Wunderground says its 44 degrees out. I teach tonight so I am taking it slow this morning, perhaps a bit too slow, however, as I feel like I gotta get my day started.

Ran what I considered an easy day after back to back 6 milers, which is progress because lately easy days have meant days off. Did 3.5 miles on the Cobbs Creek loop (heading back on Cedar) in 33:19, a bit slower even than what I ran Saturday. But I shouldn't have even timed it. I was taking it relaxed, stopping to read the sign announcing new construction of a church on Cedar Ave up near 58th St, slowing down when the traffic light changes instead of my usual urban fartlek through the intersection, and stuff like that.

In doing so I let my mind drift, I guess a sign of progress, as I wasn't as uptight about my footing as I have been. I processed my PT appt. yesterday, and thought about what Maureen said about when she was working with the Villanova basketball team, how ankle sprains would be taped up and players would be playing again without missing much time. The players themselves demanded it, as did the coaches. And I think here I am with my rehab seeing weeks now turn into months. Now I'll say it (before anyone else does) that obviously I'm not a college ball player, but I wonder nonetheless. Alot of it rests on where on the continuum I see myself - somewhere between a competitive athlete and a middle aged guy trying to stay in shape. Where does running fit in my life? I won't have an answer for that but instead my actions will answer that for me.

What works here for me is patience. I meditated on that for a long time this morning. Nobody (not even myself) is pressuring me to jump back into racing anytime soon. My ankle is still hurting, again this morning on the inside around the bump, reminding me that despite the progress I saw yesterday it will be awhile before this goes away. And I think about the little things that bring me joy in my running now - putting in 3 straight days, shooting for a 20 mile week - and there is a certain fun in that that is a break from the training regimen of the past. That'll change, I feel things get better, and I'm content, at least for today, to wait, to take it slow, and to enjoy the little things. That may change tomorrow, but I'll enjoy it while it lasts.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

PT Showoff

Another bogeyman stared down in my recovery. I had a PT appt at 8 this morning so I had to get out in the dark and run on the streets if I was to get a run in. It was just getting light when I stepped outside, but I felt very ill at ease. The morning gloom flashed me right back to that ill fated run in Columbus when I first twisted the ankle. I did keep running, eyes peeled to the ground, and reliving that wretched step every time I went on or off a curb.

Ran an Art Museum loop. Mentally I struggled with demons, and just carried the anxiety with me. Physically, however, it went well. Ran it at a decent pace, getting to MLK Drive by the Art Museum in under 30 minutes, generally the bar for whether I'm slacking on that loop or not. The weather was a bit chillier but right in the middle of my comfort range, and most of the leaves have by now fallen. I felt sad about this as I ran by Irvine Auditorium. This building on Penn campus, when it towers over orange and red trees, is one of my favorite seasonal running sights, but I missed it this year. I missed alot of things this year.

A time of 54:23 for this loop of 6 and a quarter miles, and I did slow a bit at the end in the name of being careful after my ankle started to ache, but in good places.

Saw Maureen, my PT, after that, biking all the way out to Elmwood & Island Ave for a second workout to get there. She was very excited about my progress. She keeps records of what I can and can't do when she twists, pushes, and stretches my ankle - showing me all the things I am now doing that I couldn't do a week and a half ago. That is encouraging. She was also happy to hear that my run this morning seemed to be steady and gave me the green light to continue with the running. And I got more, harder exercises to continue developing my proprioflexion.

And for all my progress Reba calls me a PT showoff.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Maid Chased Me for 6 Miles

Little in-joke between me and Reba.

The chasing was metaphorical. If it were literal it would have been a scene akin to George Jetson walking Astro.

I did do six miles on the hamster wheel. Started out shooting for five, but decided to add a bonus mile. Noteworthy thing about this run was that the first 2.5 miles were without the iPod (as in I had it with me but didn't put it on). For this first stretch I just focused on my breathing and my stride and did my best to get me into a meditative state. Then I put on the headphones and added Interpol to the rhythm set by my feet pounding the conveyor belt.

Took my running stuff and work clothes to the ARC, and realized I forgot to pack underwear and shiny shoes.

6 miles in 43:44.

On Saturday I ran a Franklin Field loop early, don't have the time I ran it in anymore. For the record, this loop is 3.5 miles.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Metropolis and Mental Life

Didn't run Wednesday. That day my tendons, on the inside and outside of my calves, were feeling sore - with a low grade burning sensation running up and down my leg. Then yesterday Thanksgiving was at my house, a wonderful menagerie of family, friends and food; and getting a run in between all the prep would have taken much more of an effort than it was worth given that I would probably benefit more from the rest.

But today, after the family left and the house was relatively clean again, I put on my running shoes and set out in the early afternoon. Didn't make it to 47th St. before my left (i.e., good) ankle turned somewhat. I was quickly able to recover, like I usually will, but it scared me as I thought were it the other ankle it could have been disaster. Never got to feeling comfortable after that. My whole right leg felt bad, not in a its-coming-down-with-an-injury kind of way (like a burning sensation in the tendon would be) but in a it-just-doesn't-feel-good-today kind of way. I ran out Pine Street to Cobbs Creek, and had the iPod on outside for the first time since I hurt my ankle.

All of that stuff put together was not a good combination. I just felt uneasy, my stride never felt smooth, and I became aware of all of the things one must tend to in urban running - with one eye on traffic, one eye on the road surface, and the third eye just aware of surroundings and ready to react to whatever may present itself. A car turning right onto Pine from 57th St. and my eyes locked onto the driver's face. I know she would never even see me and sure enough she turned right at me, causing me to step aside with my knee-jerk arms-out WTF gesture. I imagine these super-individual contents of the metropolis to further reduce my proprioceptive integrity in a Simmelian fashion - had old Georg run the streets of early 20th century Berlin.

By the time I hit Cobbs Creek I modified my original plans to run down to Warrington and instead came back east on Cedar Ave., like this. I just wasn't feeling it today, and would have kicked myself if I made a misstep. Its curious how making such a decision involves so many facets of me - my moods, biofeedback, and the superego who just demands I run my original route are all screaming out and from somewhere an element of moderation points them all toward consensus.

And thus the 3.5 miles in 32:32.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


On days like today the darkness never really seems to go away, and I ponder about seasonal adjustment disorder. I always settle for the more mundane, however, and lament my blues on a gray rainy morning.

Hence I run. Don't know if I should have today, as my ankle felt more sore yesterday than I was okay with. But my need to run was not of a physical bent. So I looked out at the wet street and decided to make a virtue out of a necessity - take a slow, careful loop around the 'hood to confront my fears of the wet and slippery. I left my watch in the warm house before making my way out into the drizzle.

Half a mile into the run I felt a gush of emotion drain out and I knew why I had to do this run.

Ankle hurt, same place above that inner bump, with it seemingly going up my tendon for a short time. Times like this I go by feeling, and I felt like I could push it today. I'll be monitoring it and, right now, I'm icing it.

3.5 miles on this route, in a time known only to God.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Turn On the Bright Lights

Figured the dark, wet, leaf-slicked streets were a bit much for my impaired proprioceptive faculties this morning, so I scurried to the safety of the hamster wheel.

I learned that, as I suspected, I cannot handle podcasts while running. I can't get into any kind of rhythm with voices jabbering in my head. So I went back to music. I listened for a while to M. Ward, which is good music but only so-so running music. Made note to self to take it off my iPod. Then I put on the Interpol album (see title) which I've been running to lately and was again bowled over by how good it is to run to.

Otherwise, 5 miles on the hamster wheel in 37:33. The tendons around the inside of my right ankle didn't seem happy. Couldn't tell for sure if it was an ankle thing or a tendon thing, but am leaning in the latter's direction. Gotta be careful here.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Saw both Ira (doc) and Maureen (pt) yesterday in separate appointments. Didn't run, but learned a new word.

Proprioception - an overlooked sense as important, if not more important as the other senses, for normal functioning. Proprioception is the process by which the body can vary muscle contraction in immediate response to incoming information regarding external forces, by utilizing stretch receptors in the muscles to keep track of the joint position in the body. [With proprioception,] the brain can send out immediate and unconscious adjustments to the muscles and joints in order to achieve movement and balance. [URL here].

Put a bit more simply: Slight deviations in terrain require slight adjustments of balance to avoid injury.

The significance of this is that proprioception is lost after a bad ankle sprain, and the main function of my PT, as it was explained to me, is to teach the "sensors" in my ankle to react to changes in balance so that it can again make the small automatic adjustments that allow for a firm footing. So my PT exercises for the week involve various activities with standing on the right foot and moving around the left leg to create a loss of balance that forces the right ankle to adjust. Teaching the ankle to take care of itself again. The loss of balance gets progressively more intense as the therapy progresses.

This paradigm makes sense to me, because it explains my reinjury well. As I said about my reinjury on the trails at Tinicum, my ankle seemed to buckle without any apparent cause. However the "trail" I was running on was a rutted dirt road, which likely created just enough imbalance to where it was more than the ankle could adjust to. As a result I went down, although there didn't seem to be any apparent misstep. Seems obvious now that I should have stuck to the roads, that simply being careful wasn't enough.

Understanding this helps me greatly in my recovery. That and the connection I now have made between this problem and how the exercises work to counteract this. Both Ira and Maureen did good jobs in explaining this.

They also both were happy with the progress I've been making, and gave me the green light to run to the extent I felt comfortable. They were also fine with the running I've done over the past week and recommend that I keep going on the treadmill or on even surfaces that require minimal proprioceptive action.

I felt good about this, and went out to the Art Museum this morning to meet up with Philly Runners. Jim, who has abandoned us of late for the suburbs, wrote of going back to a PR group run and not recognizing many people there. Its been ages since I've made it out to such a run, and I expected the same, but hoped for some running company.

The group lived up to my expectations, as I only knew a few folks, but got what I was looking for in Rob, an art student I hadn't met before. He kept up a steady 7:30ish pace and I fell in with him. Just what I was looking for, and we talked a little to boot.

I was nervous during the run, especially in the middle around Falls River Bridge when I thought that if the ankle buckled again then I would really be stuck. But all in all it went well, the stride felt right. I spent too much time with my eyes glued to the path, missing much of the fall color on the Drives. In addition, I was afraid to look back, and chastised myself whenever I lost my focus. However I felt strong and the miles were steady (MLK four in 29:51 and Kelly Drive four in 29:27). 8.5 miles might was a bit of a stretch, but not too much of one. And it was great to be outside.

8.5 miles in 63:21. My ankle now feels like it got a workout.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Trash Day

I ran the half mile down to the ARC today, did 3 on the hamster wheel, and returned home. This way I could change, shower, etc at home and not lose any time doing so. Worked out well.

Didn't bring the iPod today. Instead I concentrated on my breathing. Breath in for every two steps, then exhale for two steps. Tried the same for three steps (waltz tempo), four steps and six steps (felt I was pushing the VO2 max at that point). Focusing on that really keeps my attention on what my body and legs are doing. And, more importantly, makes the time go surprisingly fast. It's made possible by my making peace with a slower pace (max out at 7:30), so my breathing doesn't get too winded and I'm not in such a hurry to get the workout done.

Took one slight misstep this morning. Recovered quickly but my ankle felt a little wrenched and I scared myself a bit. Gradually worked through the fear, and this reinforced my decision to work on the hamster wheel.

And with each exhale I just concentrate on breathing out all the garbage that floats around in my head. A good day for that, I realized when I got home, as (with Monday's holiday) today is trash day.

4 miles, untimed.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Zen and the Hamster Wheel

Transitioning into a gym rat. Left for the gym this morning with my work stuff in a bag so I could work out, shower, etc. and then go right to work. It's an awkward feeling, as I don't have much of a routine for this and I have no gym bag, so I take my stuff in plastic grocery bags. I also wanted to be in the office by 8:30, got in at 9:15.

But the run went well. Got on the hamster wheel with Interpol on the iPod again and was able to focus for much of the time on my breathing and on my form. Just lost myself in the endless steps going nowhere and blew out itinerant thoughts that banged around my head every time I exhaled. I had some good thoughts, some good ideas, but didn't want them this morning so I put them on the curb like so much trash. As a result, I hardly looked at the mileage counter for the first 3.5 miles, and they went quickly.

4 miles in 31:35.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Middle Path

About time to check in. Not much to report.

After going to the PT appt, I've not run until this morning. I've been faithfully doing my exercises, which don't feel like they are doing much, and laying low. The ankle has been feeling good and the pressure has been building to run. When my 8:30 canceled on me this morning, I figured that was my window, and I headed down to the ARC.

Did three miles on the treadmill. The run felt tentative at first and the old awkward feeling came in when no matter how I ran it felt like I was favoring the ankle. As I got warmed up that subsided and, helped by my forgetting the iPod, I got into a groove and visualized a smooth running form and a healthy foot. That seemed to help. The only pain, discomfort really, was on above the bony protrusion on my inner ankle. I tried to ascertain whether or not that was tendon pain, but it didn't go up into the calf so I'm guessing its ankle stuff.

So I've got a bunch of questions to asked Maureen (my PT) when I see her Friday. I have been following all instructions, and I do want to point out that she said I could run as long as it was very carefully. I waver between taking it very cautiously to maximize recovery for the long term and the tendency to run through this, which sounds stupid when I write it but basically holds that all this rehab stuff is overblown.

Ultimately I'm taking a middle path. Today the circumstances permitted and it felt right to go and give things a spin. Hard to explain the feeling but its there. The feeling says I'm going at this too conservatively but for now I'll live with that. I will try it again tomorrow morning.

3 miles in 23:10.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Unfortunate Turn of Events

Ran for 30 minutes this morning (29:42 to be exact), about 3 miles down to 33rd St and back up through Penn. Got to see the Furness library building in the early morning sun, one of my favorite views on the run. The colors are finally starting to kick in, adding lots of color to the neighborhood. Felt stiff but everything was okay.

After that I went to my first physical therapy appointment. USP has a PT department, so getting a referral for a good PT was not a problem. Maureen Brolly of Mercy Rehab Associates lived up to her high recommendations, but told me stuff I didn't want to hear. She

- diagnosed a "high ankle sprain," which takes longer to heal than a lower ankle sprain, and can take months to heal fully;

- said that the pain I felt on my inner lower calf was a classic warning sign that I was at risk for developing post-tibular tendonitis, which is apparently a pretty nasty thing to get rid of once it sets in;

- the swelling in my ankle would stay around for another 3 weeks or so;

- running does more to impede recovery than to assist it. Like Ira, Maureen didn't say that I shouldn't run but said that the pounding may impede the ankles return to stability and aggravate the post-tibular tendon. I asked her directly, and she said that at this point running is not going to facilitate the ankles healing and may make it worse. Ouch.

- I got stretching exercises, encouraged to wear my ankle brace, to get new running shoes with more stability, and to ice;

- follow up appointment is next Friday.

So the rollercoaster is on a downturn again. Apparently the running I have been doing and the appearance that I was making progress is illusory. I want to let everything sink in at this point and figure out what to do. Not what I had hoped but I will do what it takes for the long-term recovery. A day at a time. Right now I'm still digesting. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Who's Your Daddy?

I put another notch on my running shoe this morning.

Instead of running in the rain, I went out to the USP rec center and hit the hamster wheel. At 2 3/4 miles in and running at a 6:40 pace the treadmill couldn't take it anymore and promptly shut down. There is only one other experience similar to being totally immersed in the rhythm of a brisk run only to be rudely thrown back into the real world.

I promptly revved the mill back up to pace, and it promptly gave out again. Just couldn't hang with me, I guess. Treadmill knows his daddy now. I went to the treadmill next to it and did another 2 1/4, getting the pace all the way up to 6 flat and holding it for a quarter mile.

The last mile was a cool down, and actually was the best mile of the lot. After I was warm, and the pace (7:30) felt slow, I could really focus on form in a positive way. My ankle felt strong and my stride felt right. The pain, which had previously been on the inside of my ankle, today was above the instep. A pain telling me that the cankle remains there, but was very runnable.

Listened to Interpol on the iPod for the first time. Excellent running music, with guitars keeping up a rhythm that helps me focus on form. 5 total miles, time unknown.

To USP's credit, an attendant came within 2 minutes of my hopping treadmills, asking me if something was wrong. I followed up after my workout and the supervisor said that they'd been having trouble with the treadmills when "marathoner types" get on it and give it a workout. I don't know if she was suggesting that perhaps I shouldn't be so hard on the treadmills but would have none of it, saying that they should look to fix that, as they should be able to take a jolt.

Now I imagine treadmills quiver in fear when my shadow falls upon them.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Ben Franklin Bridge 10k

As I mentioned I would, I did jump into the Ben Franklin Bridge Run, a 10k race that goes out and back over the BFB and then winds about the Camden waterfront for another 3 miles before finishing in centerfield of Campbell's Field (also the pre/post race staging area). Reba has a photo on her blog of Campbell's field with the BFB in the background that captures the symbiosis of these two structures, which is now nicely encapsulated in this race.

There is something about a suspension bridge that reassures me that the world is indeed a concrete entity.

Last year I was the first masters runner in this race and got paid more than I ever have for 33 minutes worth of work. However, I had no illusions about the fact that I'd work a bit longer this year, and have to pay for the privilege.

Beautiful day and to keep my mind in the proper focus there were three things that were to provide a constant reminder to myself that I was running (not racing) this thing. First, I wore a long sleeve shirt though I really didn't need to, second, I left my watch at home, and third, I carried my cell phone with me as I ran, as the kids were home alone.

Reba thought it would be good for me to line up in the middle of the pack. The only benefit I can see from this is that it gives me extra incentive to get back into front of the pack shape. Lining up here feels claustrophobic, is frustrating when the horn goes off and you don't move until what seems like an eternity afterwards, and you have to spend the first mile doing your best Brian Westbrook imitation over, through and around hundreds of linebackers and defensive ends.

With all that, the clock at mile 1 read 8:30. Mile 2 read 15 flat. The rest of the race was at a more or less even 6:30 pace, and I just kept reeling people in. Camden may have poverty rates that exceed some third world countries, but their streets along the waterfront were smooth enough to keep me relaxed but vigilant about the prospect of another ankle implosion. I had my ankle brace on to further reduce this risk, which it was remarked gave me a look like I was being monitored by my probation officer. Maybe that is why people got out of the way. But the ankle felt sturdy and, perhaps more important, I felt more confident than I expected. I was a bit more winded than I expected holding the 6:30 pace, but I also didn't push it past that pace as I'd be pushing my luck as well. I was rewarded for this self-discipline by two persons blowing by me at the finish line.

Finished in 42 and a half minutes, about a 42 flat chip time.

I'm happy with that. Its the longest I've run in six weeks, and all of it was on the roads. A good time and good company, which ultimately is what this bloody hobby are all about. All that and one step closer to recovery.

One for the poetic justice category - it took me an hour this afternoon to drive about 5 miles from the Convention Center downtown to home. Turns out that there was a huge motorcycle rally/toy drive gumming up the traffic. But I was hardly one in a position to complain, having spent the morning running across a bridge that was wonderfully devoid of traffic.

Saturday, November 03, 2007


I ran this morning, but that seems ages ago.

The big news of the day is the Olympic marathon trials, with triumph overshadowed by tragedy. I don't have anything more to say about that except for how sad it is.

With that lead in it feels more self-indulgent than usual to write about my running. Not much to report, 5 miles - 1 mile out and back to the USP rec center and 4 miles in between on the treadmill. Each time I go out I push the envelope a bit - today I ran the streets without the ankle brace and I also got the pace down to just sub-7 for a bit. I feel the pain in the ankle, but not to where it interferes with my running. That is the way I want it - where I feel like I'm not making accommodations for the pain. I also want to add that I am running within the guidelines of what my doc said was okay, he said it was up to me whether to use the ankle brace when I run.

I'm leaning towards running the Ben Franklin Bridge run, a 10k, tomorrow morning. I'm going to be there to support Rebecca and I'm figuring I might as well jump in. To run, not to race. I think, though, that I will wear the brace, as I am still somewhat skittish about running on roads.

But every run I push the envelope a little bit. Not much, but enough to where I feel I'm getting somewhere. Running tomorrow would be consistent with that.

5 miles, 4 on the hamster wheel in 30:06. Thirty aught six. Shotgun time.