Seebo's Run

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

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Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Training Secrets Divulged

Woke up at 5:30 and there was pitter patter of rain against the window glass. Woke up again at 6 and there was conspicuous silence. It was hard to get up but worth it, as running with Erin was vastly preferable to a later run on the hamster wheel.

The run with Erin was, well, a run with Erin. We looped around the UC sticking to stroller friendly streets. Talk was the pointy-headed banter of yore. It was wonderfully mild. Ran about 5 1/2 with her and set off to get more mileage post-Erin when the sky opened up. I scampered home and settled for an easy day, which was probably a good thing.

Joseph asks how I would classify my run from yesterday. Any classification would be a posteriori, as my main reason for running this was as a gauge of my fitness. My Tuesday and Thursday runs are usually hard efforts - track, tempo and the like - and this was definitely a hard effort, probably most closely resembling a tempo run but also could be seen as a time trial. A tempo trial? As I write this I think about how much of my training goes by feel. I've had more structured coaching regimens, but have never performed much better under them. So aside from the two-hard-workouts-and-a-long-run weekly structure, my training is largely improvisational. Like jazz, perhaps.

6.5 miles, time known only to God.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Rock N Roll (ain't noise pollution)

I commented on Sunday that I noticed, going through my 2006 log, that in January of that year I made my first foray onto the track in the last week of January. 6 miles (9.6 km to be exact) non-stop at 6-minute pace. I thought I was in shape to replicate that workout and this morning I set out to do so.

Ran out to Interboro HS track and it was still dark when I got there. I thought of a Nike commercial, set to an AC-DC song, that glorified this least-glorious of moments - going at it hard before most folks are even up. I did not want to do this run, which made me all the more determined to do it. I took four laps to warm up, hitting strides on the straightaway that started to crescendo until, at the last turn, I doffed my long-sleeve t and took off for good on the straightaway.

The workout was simple, six 1600s in six minutes each. No recovery. That's 1:30 a lap. First lap came in at 1:33 and I sped up a bit afterwards but couldn't make up those three seconds. With 800m left I was still three seconds in the hole but I had enough kick to get in at 35:59. Perfect. I did one more lap at semi-cooldown to give me 10,000 meters (10k) in 37:35.

I've never done a track workout where I haven't learned something about myself. About facing my fears, about motivating myself, about exploring what I'm capable of. The miles came one at a time this morning, the first one a bit tentative as I was unsure of whether I could keep it up, the subsequent ones with a bit more rhythm as I hammered them out steadily - here a second under and there a second slower. By mile 5 I had to push and to my gratitude I found the focus to do so. I wanted sub 36 badly and I got it. And after my victory lap to give me 10k, I was surprised at how out of breath and nauseous I felt.

Before writing this I read over my entry from the 2006 workout that inspired this one. In it I described much different time and place, calling 6 minute pace a "marathon pace" where today I saw this more as a tempo run. Then I was satisfied with my time and also how easy it felt, today I am satisfied with my time and the reassurance that my fitness is at least comparable to what it was then.

And, coincidentally (or perhaps not) I write about that Nike commercial in the entry. I checked out the link I gave and the commercial is still up. I don't endorse Nike, but the clip still gets me going, especially when the guitars get going as the runners do. That is how I felt this morning.

11.5 total miles in 90:20 running clock.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Gallowalking in Eddystone

Went somewhere different this morning. When I hit Industrial Boulevard, instead of going left towards Tinicum and the airport I turned right and headed down to Chester.

The last time I did this was last September, when I tacked this on as the ass-end of a 20-miler, but I missed my turn and it became a 22-miler. I wrote out directions and took them with me this time. But I must have been glycogen depleted by the time I got here last time, as this morning I found myself in the just breaking morning light taking on semi's on this 4-lane road where large stretches of it had no shoulder. So it was either running on uneven grassy patches along the road or taking walk-breaks as large skeins of traffic whoosh past me and left me in a cloud of exhaust. I won't be doing this again.

Last time I ran this I blogged about entering Chester and passing Harrah's Casino & Racetrack, which sits cheek by jowl with the State prison on the highway. Then this juxtaposition suggested a symbolism that was obvious yet elusive; this morning I noticed a recently erected historical marker that offers the missing piece:

Sun Shipbuilding & Drydock Company

During WWII, Sun was the largest single shipyard in the world, with over 35,000 employees. It introduced the all-welded ship, which significantly increased ship production, and the T-2 oil tanker, which became the standard at all US shipyards. Sun built over 250 WWII tankers, 40% of those built in the world, and repaired over 1500 war-damaged ships. Established by the Pew family, it was located at this site from 1916 to 1982.

An archived New York Times article described Chester's role during World War II as the "arsenal of democracy." Chester is perhaps the poster-town for industrial decline, having lost over half its population since World War II, leaving what remains seeming god-forsaken. Prisons and casinos (and possibly a pro soccer team) are supposed to replace the shipyard jobs. This morning I found the correct turn onto Edgemont Ave., which took me through a downtown where I was the only being amidst the storefronts where the boards were falling off the rotting buildings. There was nothing there. The only thing I could relate that to are the old mining towns up in the Rockies.

From there I found my way on to the Chester Pike for some more Beijing-like conditions, and I eventually completed the 9.2 mile loop in 82:02. It was a good history lesson for an urban geek like me, but the difficulty of the out and back ensures I will be doing such runs only sparingly.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Went out to see the tree today. Went out in the late morning, overdressed (two long-sleeve t's) but okay with that, and forewent the iPod to be with my thoughts. Was anxious about my toe, which was painful to walk on yesterday evening, but it didn't say boo today. Go figure. A nice run, easy but not slow. 10 miles in 82:40.

That gave me 78 miles for the week. I'd have to look back to November 2006 to get a bigger mileage week. I'm now shooting for 310+ miles for January, which again would be more mileage than any month in 2007. I feel things coming along nicely at this point.

I'll keep with the mileage this week and start more seriously with speed in February. I looked over my workouts from '06, and saw that I snuck out to the track once in late January to do a quick 6 (sub 6 pace). That was my first speed workout of the year, and I'd like to keep things going by trying that workout again sometime this week.

Again, I feel on top of things runningwise. I know enough to be wary of that feeling, as it often does not linger. But I'll enjoy it while it lasts.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Long Run and Some Other Stuff

The best part about todays run was waking up at 5:30 and being able to roll over and sleep a few more hours.

I left the house at 9 to meet the Philly Runners at the Art Museum at 9:30. I wanted to go long and thought I'd make up the run based on who was down there. From the AM, I went out with Chris and John and we ran together long enough for Chris to agree to run on the team (fourth incarnation of TEKBOD) I'm getting together for the Cesar Rodney Half Marathon in March.

Then Chris took off and I opted to hang back with John. Smart move, as the two of us and another guy Jeff ran the 4 MLK miles in 30 flat, complete with easy conversation. John and I then headed up the BN hill and before we knew it we were huffing and puffing. Crested the hill in 9:57 and made it out to Belmont Plateau in just over 18 minutes. This was faster than I took it on Thursday, and felt completely different, as I felt like I was working with John rather than against the clock.

We then doubled back along Chamounix to Ford Road and continued on with the course we did together a few weeks ago. The rest of the run was more mellow and with alot of conversation. This helped me transition to the "tired legs" portion of the speed-hills-tired legs progression that has provided the structure for my long runs of late. John peeled off and I did the final two miles accompanied by Grace Potter on the iPod.

This long run went well, thanks in large part to John's company. I felt a bonding experience running the BN part of the course with him for time. Hard to explain the feeling, I'd never done that segment for time with anybody before, save a few squirrels. The benefits of company to ease the endless onslaught of miles is easier to explain, and should be familiar to most runners. It takes a village...

The course cobbled the previous link with an Art Museum loop (see yesterdays course link) and the extra mile for the Chamounix out and back we added on. Conservatively, then, it was 17.5 miles. Time was 2:17:28.

And the Boston list keeps growing. Vince, who gave me advice during the darkest days of my ankle sprain, looks to be in, as does Paul, a guy I run with who's got a Boston streak that I believe runs into the teens.

And the last bit, my toe with the black toenail really hurts now, as though the end of it was banging against the toebox of my shoe. I'll be monitoring this.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Coffee of the Cheetahs

Whenever I'm in the WaWa (if you're not from the Philly area, think 7-Eleven, only cooler), I make sure to get this coffee, complete with racing stripes.

Mellow run this morning. Plan was to do 6 and meet Erin and Iris at 6:30 and run a little more. Did the first part fine, running a slightly truncated Art Museum loop, but nobody told Iris about Part B, and she was sensible enough to resist going out into the mid-20s temps. So Erin and I talked a bit and I resolved to cool down a mile or two as I went home. I quickly came to my senses, wondering why I needed to cool down from an easy run, and just did the extra half mile and got in a bit early. 6.5 miles in about 54 minutes.

The buzz around Boston is starting to build. There are now four bloggers on whose sites I lurk who are signed up to run - Ian, Mark, Zeke, and Quinto Sol. In addition, my buddy Mike is planning to run, as is Bill, who is organizing a masters team to represent my homies. Anyone else out there?

Mark also suggests the only sensible goal for Boston this year: get ahead early on of the zoo that will be Lance Armstrong and keep in front of that.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Work With What You Got

Same descent into the early morning darkness today, but the run was more upbeat.

Ran a BN loop, as planned, timing myself for the 4 MLK miles and the following stretch up the BN and around to Belmont Plateau. The object of this was to get back into the rhythm of taking these sections faster. This includes the anticipation on the warmup, the pushing up the speed once I get on the west side of the river, and of course running fast. I don't want to start actual speed stuff until February, this was basically teaching myself how to run fast again.

Given this, the goals were modest. I set out to run the MLK four in sub 7 pace, time was 27:19. I set out to beat my time of 20 minutes flat that I got on Sunday for the second stretch, and I ran 18:37. These splits will have to come down quite a bit, but for today I'm satisfied.

Again the run was mostly in the darkness. It is quite the feeling of accomplishment when it finally gets to be visibly daylight out and the run is almost done. As I surmised yesterday, having the time goals to occupy my mind helped make it through the run, as did the thought that the time I got up today will be the earliest, and the mileage I covered will be the farthest I'll ever push myself on an early morning workout this season. Not that I won't do it again, I just won't do anything more extreme. And now I know I can do it.

Kevin, my housemate, who is recovering from a stress fracture and is still hoping to run at Millrose next weekend, has been saying of late that you work with what you got. Thinking that helped me get out of bed and on the roads this morning. And I got a little more for it.

13.5 miles in 1:45:13.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Difficulty of Easy Runs

Out the door by 5:20 this morning, knew for once I had plenty of time to run.

I took the Acme loop out to Wynnefield Ave., one more little extension of this venerable run that makes it an even 10 miles - well about as even as is possible. It also circumnavigates the dreaded Lebanon hill.

One word to describe this run was lonesome. Not solitary... lonesome. It is pitch black at 5:20 on a January morning, and it stays dark. Temps weren't too cold, but there were patches of ice on the streets of West Philly and Powelton Village that got my guard up. By the time I hit Fairmount Park I knew I would be taking this run easy, and just settled in. Something about the North Concourse, it just goes straight seemingly forever. Few street lights, and the moon was much farther away. It was just me running, seeing if I could last.

Its an odd feeling. When I'm alone like that its not a physical thing. I was not running against a clock or against a hill or against anything but dark thoughts seeping in from the surrounding darkness. Going up 59th St. just before Lancaster Ave. I can look east over the old Acme food distribution center and on to Center City. It looks a bit like Oz, and some of the prettiest Philadelphia sunrises I've seen came from this vantage point. Today when I got there there was barely a glimmering of dawn. Only when I cut through Carroll Park was there enough light to where I could see without street lamps. This was a turning point, as my pace quickened and I realized I would soon be home.

Finishing the run I felt as I had run a gauntlet, a long night's journey into day. Dylan says the darkest hour is right before the dawn. And maybe that's the hardest part of this early morning thing, pushing myself to go gentle into that good night. Yesterday, today, and again tomorrow and the next day. But tomorrow I'll take it out on the watch as I try to muster some speed up MLK, and Friday I'll run at least part of the way with Erin. Today it was just me, and darkness.

10 miles in 92-something.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Training for Beijing

I read that Haile Gebrselassie may not run the marathon this summer in Beijing, saying that the air there was so polluted that he feared damage to his already asthmatic lungs. Geb's dilemma came to me as I ran by the airport this morning and jet exhaust permeated the air. First time I ever noticed that, maybe it was the wind or the runways that were being used. It made me wonder if I was getting or losing health this morning.

This exhaust-in-the-air smell came back as I was running the Tinicum refuge. This was alot more disturbing... violating is more like it. The airport seems too far away for the exhaust to carry, was it the interstate? Did it have anything to do with the urge I had to just lay on the trail and curl myself into a warm fetal ball and go to sleep?

Ryan... Ritz... Brian... y'all might wanna train here, get your lungs in shape for this summer.

All that aside, there is usually one thing that happens when I run the Cargo City-Tinicum loop to make the whole run worthwhile. Today when I turned left on 84th St. there was the hugest setting full moon I can remember seeing. It was glowing and beautiful and looked to be on a crash course with Earth. I just stared up at it and took my chances that I wouldn't step into or onto something.

Then when I turned left onto Lindbergh Ave. I could see the sunrise on my left. Beautiful as well. Simultaneous moonset and sunrise.

Tinicum was quiet. Saw numerous members of the Tinicum Track Club bashing through the bushes, only two came on the trail and they were off again, declining to stick around and pace. They're not real accommodating of penguins like me.

I did waddle at a pretty good clip this morning, cutting 5 seconds off my course PR time. This came off of the front end (63:36), as the Tinicum 5 (36:01) were a bit slower than last Thursday. Several things, including a loose dog and the aforementioned pollution, accounted for this. I also realized that the footing on the trail is not going to be conducive to running this at tempo pace when the time comes to do so. But that is a worry for another day.

12.5 miles in 99:37.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Two Fer

I didn't get to blog yesterday, and I'm unsure of how to write today. I want to digest yesterday's run but I don't want to do two blog entries. So I'll write some about yesterdays run and continue the entry later when I have today's run under my belt.

Did a Bloody Nipple loop yesterday. Yesterday was cold. Low 20s cold, so warm enough that any Minnesota readers would scoff but enough so that I could feel the pain while watching last night's Giants-Packers game up in Wisconsin. I had a real desire to dress warm, which I knew I would regret and thus had to talk myself out of several articles of clothing. I ended up wearing my Reba-repellant shorts under my regular ones, and a big old Penn hoodie that I've had since the Clinton Administration (him) that I prefer in cold weather because its bulky and thus traps a warm layer of air between it and my torso. It totally goes against conventional warm-clothing approaches I've seen, but works for me. All that and gloves and hat.

As I hit the Schuylkill bike path I congratulated myself on how comfortable I felt. Even in the full headwind I hit on MLK, I still felt okay. Even with all that Lady Schuylkill could bluster, I was still hitting sub 7:30 pace and felt good. So good that I kept going past the planned turnaround at Strawberry Mansion bridge to make it a BN loop. So good that the West River four came in at 28:15 without trying very hard, just pushing against that wind.

This quickening was followed by the hilly part and then the 3-mile cooldown, the last half of which was run on very tired legs. This speed-hill-ache is becoming a regular pattern in my more challenging runs. It's evolving organically and I'm wondering if there is anything to it training-wise. I suspect there is, as it seems to be something my body is gravitating towards. Kind of like the warm air pocket I described earlier.

So the run gave me 13.5 miles in 141:32. It was a bit short for a long run but Saturdays run was a bit long. All together, it gave me 73 miles for the week. I haven't had that high mileage in a week since the week ending June 17th of last year. That shows me what a difficult year I had last year and leaves me feeling encouraged for my prospects. My next target is to make this a 300 mile month. I think I can do it. I've got 194 miles as of yesterday.

It will be even a bit colder today, with the temp currently at 19. I think I will break out the tights this afternoon. Stay tuned.

If you "stayed tuned" and are coming back, I hope it won't be a letdown. One of those days that I refer to when folks ask me why I run in the mornings. One thing leads to another and before I know it it is 3pm and I'm looking at darkness approaching. Its anticlimactic to go run like this, but some days its how it happens.

At least it was warmer, in the mid-20s, by then. I also tend to run stronger in the afternoon, and today was no exception. Didn't hammer it, as it was an easy day, but kept a pace right around 8 and took both the Sweetbriar hill and the Kirkbride hill in strong fashion. Otherwise nothing much to report; the monkey gets fed for one more day.

Sweetbriar loop, 8+ miles in 64:50.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Tangled Up in Loop

Met the Philly Runners this morning at the Art Museum. Reba came down with me and Deirdre said she'd meet me there. Deirdre is tapering for the Miami marathon next week, so she decided to take it easy and peeled off after a mile down MLK. This left me with no-one to run with, but I saw Chris Nirschel, one of the top local runners who nonetheless maintains an allegiance to Philly Runners, a few hundred meters ahead. I sped up a bit to catch up with him and spent the next five miles or so running with him and getting to know him. His easy pace was pushing it a bit for me, but I managed to hold my own in conversation although I caught myself gasping for air when I'd talk on the uphill parts.

We ran over Strawberry Mansion bridge, around the res, and back to the Art Museum, where he went towards Center City and I headed towards Chestnut St. on the bike path. I slowed the pace down a bit but took on the hills of 34th St. as I trucked up to the zoo and to the Civil War memorial. The hills slowed me down, but more disconcerting was the lack of pep I felt on the downhills. It wasn't an energy thing as much as an ankle thing. They just didn't feel right and that translated into a lack of motivation.

From the war memorial I cut back down to MLK and took it back to Lloyd Hall. I felt a second wind as things got flat, and finished strong. Reba was waiting for me at the car, understandably impatient for me to come back as she had cooled down a while before and I had the key.

Mapping the course I ran shows a spaghetti-like romp. It also showed 13.2 miles, a few miles more than I wanted to run and a few miles too many to have someone waiting for me. I'm sorry again that you had to wait, Reba. Next time stay warm in Lloyd Hall and make me look for you.

Forgot my watch, so my time today is known only to God. Its better that way.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Badge of Honor

I know I'm in marathon training now. I put on my sock and saw it. My second toe on my right foot. The nail is black. I'm so proud. I'd post a picture of it if my mother didn't read this blog every once in awhile. This is real now, folks.

Speaking of real, I'm signed up for Boston now. Which means I'm $116 poorer. And committed that deeply.

Today's run was easy. A variety of factors conspired to restrict my running options for this morning. Once I was on the road, the next logical step was to note how beat up my legs felt anyway. Then it was an easy sell to ease back a bit. Sometimes there is something behind a blatant rationalization. And if I run as planned tomorrow and Sunday I'll still break 70 for the week.

Due to slushy conditions from last night's precipitation, I ran the streets of Tinicum township (not to be confused with the wildlife refuge). Tinicum bills itself as the oldest continuous settlement in modern day Pennsylvania, founded by the Swedes in 1643. The seventeenth century must have been the town's heyday; the town exudes post-industrial decline. It clearly once exploited its position right on the Delaware River, now its biggest industry is long-term parking for the nearby airport.

6.5 miles on this loop and add-on. Wanted to run for 60 minutes, only got in about 58. That'll do.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Running with the Studs

Same 12.5 mile loop as Tuesday, same conditions. Legs felt good and with my Reba-repellant shorts and a t-shirt under my long-sleeve t I felt like I had the right outfit for the high 20's temps.

The 7.5 miles to Tinicum were singularly uneventful, with an uninspiring sunrise and traffic noise that somehow seemed louder than usual. My time up to the Tinicum entrance checkpoint (65:23) was a bit slower than Tuesday, which puzzled me. I don't run this fast, but try on mornings like these when I feel good to up the pace just a bit. This is hard, however, as it takes sustained concentration, which is something I don't typically have on an early morning. Something to work on I guess.

When I hit Tinicum I picked things up measurably and felt good doing so. The first mile came in at 7:20, amidst numerous deer (got close enough to two deer where I was able, in their wake, to smell their stink) and a low-flying hawk. I kept pushing.

Right at this marker, which is the entrance of the lookout-makeout tower, I came up behind a herd of five deer on the trail. The deer saw me and ran ahead, and after about 100 meters stopped and looked back at me. When I got close they sort of jogged further up ahead and I felt like I was running just behind a lead pack. Two deer eventually bailed off into the woods, but the remaining three kept playing this game, sauntering and then waiting, for the better part of the second mile. There is a point where the trail forks, where the three deer went off to the side and watched me as I turned left, as if to see me off.

Its worth running 7 1/2 mundane miles for one mile like this one. Easily the most elite group I've ever trained with. Inspired, each mile got faster than the last, and the final five came in at 34:19. Still got a ways to go, but this is progress.

12.5 miles in 99:42.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Slow Moe

About the same conditions as yesterday, but for some reason I felt the need to dress more warmly. Made it to Essington before deciding that, although the critics like Freedie Johnston, he fails to move me. So I switched to Sonny Rollins to provide a soundtrack for the rising sun as I headed east on Gov. Printz Blvd.

I then changed the music to Fela Kuti to try to inspire some pep in my legs when I turned north onto Bartram Ave, but alas Fela was no performance enhancer this morning.

By the time I hit Tinicum I had resigned myself to this, an easy day, actually being an easy day. I turned off my iPod, turned off my watch, and became one with Darby Lake as the new day started. More deer than usual were about. Each time I run the boring part now I'm seeing a red-tail hawk (don't know if its the same one) in about the same spot, just like I did last winter. When I approached the 1-mile-to-go mark I saw a mottled blob standing on the trail that turned out to be a blue heron who let me get within about 10 feet before running and flapping his wings like some airplane heading down the runway. The bird must have been either sick, hurt or barmy.

10.5 miles on a shorter version of yesterday's loop, no time but probably around 8 1/2 minute pace.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Yummy Conundrum

It was Chocolate City again this morning. This phenomenon comes occasionally, spreading a cocoa-like smell over the area south of the airport from what seems to be the direction of Essington or Eddystone. The aroma is very tasty, but where does it come from? Only clue I could come up with was that the wind was from the West this morning. When I get a few minutes (probably not today), I'd like to call up Essington town hall and investigate.

Took me 20 minutes from getting up to getting out this morning. I wasn't rushing things as much as I was determined not to let anything sidetrack me. 6 am was the perfect time to set out, as it was dark but started to get light about 20 minutes into the run as I was on the dark, lonely stretch from Essington to Cargo City. By the time I hit Tinicum it was light enough to navigate the trail.

This Cargo City/Tinicum loop rewards the first 7.5 more or less mundane miles with a run through Tinicum for the remaining five. I didn't feel like music this morning so was more in tune with the surroundings, and by the time I got to Tinicum there was quacking of ducks, honking of geese, twittering of sparrows, and a strange sound made by a spooked heron. The refuge is barren and bleak in January, possessing an austere beauty in the early dawn.

Totals were 12.5 miles in 1:41:23, a few minutes slower than the last time I ran this (on 12/29) despite hitting the last five miles a minute or so faster in 36:53.

Monday, January 14, 2008


My legs felt all beat up this morning, no doubt a product of my run on Sunday. Looking back, by my standards I didn't even go that hard. But I'm still building my base, and I would say that I put more than a few bricks up yesterday.

So today it was a question of whether to run easy or not at all. The temptation for the latter was great but I do want to get in a 70 mile week this week, and to do even a few miles on an easy day makes this goal much easier. So I got out and ran to Franklin Field and back on the usual loop, going up to 54th St. to make it a 5 mile run. I had a watch but shouldn't have timed it. Don't remember the exact time but it was around 45 minutes.

Not much else to say about it other than the weather is still great for running.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Long Run

If yesterday was why I run, then today was the vegetables of my running.

But the older I've gotten, the more I've come to like vegetables. In this case, a long slow run. I needed 15 anna half miles today to get 60 for the week, so that was my target. I'd do my loop on the Drives up to Falls River Bridge and a little extra to get this.

Variations of this long run have been done to the point where it does get boring, but familiarity also enhances the workout. The run is basically in four parts, the first part, a bit over 3.5 miles, is the warm up. Then two 4-mile parts of the Drives - one MLK and the other Kelly, and the fourth part is the section back home. So lately I take the two 4-mile stretches hard and then have the last part get me used to running on tired legs. That is pretty much how it went today. Hard is relative, today I set out to crack each 4-mile segment in under 30 and do Kelly faster than MLK. The respective splits were 29:41 and 29:29, which I was happy with as it met the goals with little excess effort. Then the slog home was bearable until the last extra part I added on, which just past the threshold for where my legs felt comfortable. That was what I wanted out of the run.

So that gives me 60 for the week. I'm happy about getting 60 for what I thought was an off week, and am looking to dip into the 70's this week. We'll see. For today, 16 miles in 2:04 :40.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

I'm vegging on the couch right now with the NFL playoffs on the tv and chicken in the oven.

This morning's running promises to be an overblogged one, as I teamed up with Tom, and John. John, of course, is a regular running buddy, but this is the first time I met Tom in real life. He is the third guy that I've run with after meeting through the blogosphere, after Duncan and Mike. Sofar so good.

I took the guys out to the tree on my 10-mile loop out to Lansdowne. Chemistry was good as the conversation flowed and noone seemed overly concerned about whether the pace was too slow or too fast. The tree continues to stand tall and the weather was sunny and mild. Another one of those great runs that just keep coming.

I hope they never end. 10 miles in 80:40, pace felt much faster than that.

Packers just about have the game locked up in the blinding snow and the chicken is about ready.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Second Chances

I woke up at the crack of 5am to the sound of rain against my window. This, as usual, brings out agonized deliberations on whether or not to run in the rain, which I am more averse to than the average bear. I finally decided that cold, dark, and rain on a relatively easy week was too much and I rolled over and went back to sleep. I woke up an hour and a half later and heard the conspicuous absence of any pitter patter on glass.

This led to tortured recriminations on whether I did the right thing. Words that I wrote in this blog, like running Boston occurs on cold January mornings, came back to haunt me. And then I remembered a quote I once read from local triathlete and meteorologist Cecily Tynan (yes, I get inspiration in strange places) that you can fit in a workout just about anywhere.

So I thought, I drop Tony off in West Deptford at 8 and have to be at a meeting in North Philly at 10. If I cut out going back to West Philly in between, I have an hour to workout. West Deptford Park, a huge expanse of soccer fields and baseball diamonds, was close by and I remember from taking Tony to soccer games that I had seen people running on an asphalt path around the perimeter. A plan was born.

I headed out to south Jersey in my running clothes, with work stuff and a stick of deodorant packed in the car. The first lap was to get a feel for the loop, and it timed at 9:10 - likely close to one mile. From then on I made it a ladder workout, where the object is to have each loop around be faster than the last. Now you can bull your way through this workout and get down to insane speeds fairly quickly, or you can finesse it and cut as little time off of each lap as you can. This is alot more mentally challenging, as one of the rules I have is that the only time I can look at my watch is at each mile mark.

Today I did pretty good on the finesse, as witnessed by my splits:

Mile 1 - 9:10
Mile 2 - 8:17
Mile 3 - 7:58
Mile 4 - 7:54
Mile 5 - 7:31
Mile 6 - 7:13
Mile 7 - 6:54
Mile 8 - 6:32

I'm proud of this workout, as it got me from warmup to the max I wanted to do, 6:30, in regular intervals.

A little backstory here. Many of you know that in the last two years I had gone through separation and then divorce, with the result being that my two kids split their time between my house and their mother's house in south Jersey. The current arrangements have me taking Tony to school out in S. Jersey every other week, which basically entails that I have something I have not had in over a decade - a (albeit part-time) commute. I have many thoughts on this, which I'm still processing, though it has strengthened my urbanite's bias on the god-forsaken nature of suburbs. The park, however, is nice, a product of the large amounts of open space around there. Though with all that open space, its beyond me why anyone but a displaced urban dad would restrict themselves to running around a park.

Anyway, for today it worked for me and I got a workout in. 8 miles in 61:34. Cecily would be proud. And her husband should watch his back, as I'll be gaining on him.

(***note - so I don't get suspected of stalking or making terroristic threats, fellow master Greg Watson beat me by a few seconds in the 2006 PDR).

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Rehearsal for a Tempo Run

Made it to bed reasonably early again last night, which does wonders for getting up at the crack of 5. Not that its easy, just easier. Got ready in 30 minutes - that's Paul Revere speed for me - so I'd be out by 5:30. But even then doing my 11 mile loop and getting back in time to get Tony to school would be tight. My time at the MLK checkpoint, a little over 3.5 miles, was 31-something and I knew I'd be late if I ran out to Strawberry Mansion Bridge.

So I decided to cut it short and only run up to the Columbia Railroad Bridge, then heading home on Montgomery Ave. for a 9 mile loop. While I was on MLK I pushed myself to pick up the pace, and did those 2 miles in 14:30. 7:15's won't set the world on fire, but I was satisfied at my ability to push the pace (from 8:30ish) when every thing in my body was screaming against my doing so. I was preparing myself for future runs when hitting MLK will mean ratcheting it up to much quicker paces.

Again, its not much. But this morsel of meaning was something I hung on to in the face of the realization that, on days that the kids are with me, I will have to get out even earlier to get in the mileage that I want to get in. That or do doubles in what are already full days. But I won't solve that problem today. Nor tomorrow, when I'll probably ride out the week with an effort similar to today. Then next week, when the kids aren't with me, I'll have some flexibility for putting in more mileage. In two weeks, when the kids are again with me during the week, I trust I'll have figured something out.

Meaning I'll probably have mustered resignation to the fact that I'll be getting up even earlier.

The Boston Marathon is run on dark, cold January mornings.

9 miles in 75:12.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

CWP Redux

I got up 15 minutes earlier this morning and, lo and behold, made it out of the house 15 minutes earlier. This let me do the first six miles of my Art Museum loop and end up at Erin's right at 6:30. Erin, Iris and I ran about 3 1/2 stroller friendly miles around Penn and back up into the UC before I peeled off for home and the dash to get Tony out the door to school. Total 9.5 was in 82:19.

Erin was a long-time running partner. We ran together most M, W & F's for about two years, wiling away countless miles with overeducated conversation and discovering many nooks and crannies of West Philly. We were the nucleus of Club West Philly, which grew to 6 regulars and a few more irregulars before, as Erin puts it, "being dashed by the fertility gods." You run together like that for so long and it feels like it will last forever, this morning I looked back on it and wondered if it we could ever get that back. Life is very different now for each of us, leading to logistical challenges for each of us where a hurried half hour was the best we could muster. But it was a good half hour, catching up on each other and some friends and then on last nights primary results. And we'll try and do it again on Friday, and see where it goes.

Whats good for voter turnout in New Hampshire is also most excellent for running in Philadelphia. The weather this morning was incredible - 60's and damp, and despite my short sleeves I returned home covered in sweat. Hope it lasts.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


That word popped into my head as I crested the Lansdowne Hill and got me to grin.

I was running against the clock this morning, not in terms of speed as much as being back by 7 so as to have time to get me and Tony out the door. I have become resigned to that it takes me, one way or the other, 45 minutes from waking up to getting out the door. I've tried cutting that time down but that seems to be an equilibrium point. So I got up at 5:15 (fairly well rested as I got to bed fairly early last night) and made it out the door a little before 6. This left me with about an hour, so I decided to do my 8-mile Sweetbriar loop. The sleep and the day off did me good, and I felt like I was going at a faster clip than my final time said I was going.

Warm morning. Got to see the dark fade to shades of dark blues and then make way for a sunrise where wisps of pinks and purples stretched across a lightening blue sky. Had an encore performance of Ryan Adams and then Gillian Welch on the iPod.

8.1 miles in 66:13.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Day Off

I usually won't blog on my days off, but wanted to put on the record that I'm not running today.

Yesterday's run just zapped me. I was feeling mild chills and was overwhelmingly tired to where I just fell asleep on the couch at about 7 swaddled in blankets and a comforter. I woke up about 3 hours later and my ankle was throbbing. I may not be the most sensitive guy to my body's warning signs, but I took note and figured it was probably not a good idea to run today.

Not to say that I really would like to do so. But its pretty typical of my recovery. Progress to the point where I'm pushing it, and then pull back a bit. I ran 64 miles last week. This also marked my first day off after running for the last 11 days in a row.

Speaking of pushing things, looks like I'm not the only one to run 14 yesterday. In an article yesterday, the NY Times mentioned, as a throwaway line, that Mike Huckabee took the afternoon off yesterday for a 14 mile run as part of his training for Boston. If he can train for Boston in the midst of a presidential campaign, that doesn't leave many excuses for the rest of us, does it?

Mentioning this does not, however, imply an endorsement. Maricela said that if I see him in Hopkinton I should trip him.

Hopefully back on the roads tomorrow.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Over the River & Through the Woods...

to Reba's house I ran this afternoon. A destination run, stretched out a bit along this route (plus five miles through Tinicum and a 1/2 mile of being lost) so as to be eligible to be deemed a "long run."

The weather has gotten milder, and promises to stay that way through this week. That is good news both from a running perspective and from a financial perspective, as it will help with this winter's insane heating bills. I took off in the mid-afternoon sun, which was weak and low in the sky even at 2:30. The music cued up on the iPod was excellent - Ryan Adams, Chris Knight and Gillian Welch.

But both the low-hanging sun and the music had a dark edge to them. This became more apparent as I crossed over Cobbs Creek on Woodland into the borough of Colwyn. This is the first time I had ever heard of this little corner of Delaware County, let alone set foot in it. Visually, it is a classic inner-ring suburb, with houses and store-fronts that look like NE Philadelphia which people moved to while fleeing the city and then eventually moved on again. I took a couple of wrong turns so I got to see most of this borough, like extracting myself from post-industrial quicksand.

The last five miles of the run were through Tinicum, where the shadows were getting long and the sun was getting in my eyes. Going through the woods on a double rutted trail brought back memories of September 11, where I ran on a similar trail in the early morning sun in Springfield Illinois only to come back into the hotel lobby and see the towers burning on tv. In all of my running Tinicum I never made that connection before, and from then on there was a feeling of running through a looking glass where nothing is the same as it was.

The sun was setting as I reached the sanctuary of Reba's house. Various things conspired against my running fast this afternoon, and I failed to muster any resistance to these forces. The music too lacked the drive that I usually seek in running music, leaving me content to mark the miles as they passed rather than to attack the ones still to come.

All in all, 14.5 miles in 2:03:52.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Romp Through Fairmount

Reba and I went down to the Art Museum to meet up with the Saturday morning Philly Runners crowd. Among the crowd was John Dubs, and the two of us agreed to a romp through Fairmount Park that would give us about ten miles. Weather was partly cloudy and high 30's, the conversation was easy and the pace (mid-7's) was just about right.

In other words just the kind of run I needed after an abbreviated week of slogs in the early morning darkness.

Ran this loop for 10 and 1/4, timed the last 9.75 in 74.28.

Friday, January 04, 2008

The Prodigal Watch

As cold today as it was yesterday. 19 degrees. Ventured out a bit further, did the old Acme loop. I gmapped it to 9.7 miles but lost the route due to a technical problem, and I'm not doing it again. I figured out an extension that I'll do in the future to take the loop to 10 miles.

I didn't time my run this morning as I realized my watch went AWOL. The loop always seems very long when I run it alone. I guess that is because of the many associations this loop carries with Club West Philly. I slept about a half hour later than usual and while that gave me more daylight, it also gave me more traffic which meant that streets like 58th got tight, and traffic lights that I could usually cross against held me up as I had to wait for traffic.

In short, the most noteworthy thing about the run was that I did it. I'm still in the process of getting back to getting out there morning after morning - building up the discipline to get up and the legs to keep going. So its a good thing I didn't have my watch.

And as I was getting ready to take a shower, there it was, sitting on top of the toilet tank. Finding the watch was one of those little triumphs that will sustain me through the stressors I will inevitably face during the rest of the day.

Thursday, January 03, 2008


Cold cold morning. Wunderground says 19 degrees, and who knows what the "real feel" is like, as there was a good wind whipping around. Need less to say, I did not relish the prospect of going out into the dark coldness. Fortunately, I could readily justify an easy day and thus stuck around inside at least till it started to get light out.

Not a whole lot more to write about this morning. It was cold, I did dress warmer than usual. This included my new Christmas shorts - some purple and white sparkly spandex biking-type shorts without all the padding around the crotch (although that might have helped this morning) that I wore under my regular shorts. Affectionately, I call them my Reba-repellant shorts. Other than that, it was 2 long-sleeve t's, gloves and a cap and that kept me just on the low end of the comfort threshold.

Five miler today along this loop. Again, no watch.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Reality Bites

Yesterday's run was after waking up in the mid-morning, a nice breakfast of crepes, and with some mid-day sun. This morning's run was more down to earth - up at 5:45 and out the door at 6:15 while it was still dark and there was a skim of ice on the puddles. This is winter running - day after day and week after week. These are the rocks upon which New Year's hopes get dashed.

For today I did make it out. Ran through Essington and Tinicum townships and hit Tinicum from the north end. By then it was sufficiently lit to negotiate the trails and to see silhouettes of the numerous ducks, geese, herons, and hawks.

I had Sonny Rollins on the iPod. I really don't know much about what I'm listening to with jazz, but want to learn more. So I took a certified classic, his Freedom Suite album, and just ran with it. Different kind of running to music, more cerebral with Rollins' sax just blending in with the surroundings and the rising sun.

Looked in my old logs and came up with this link for the route. 10.5 miles, no watch this morning. Legs felt dead towards the end, probably more miles than I should have put in.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Years

First mile of the year was run from Lloyd Hall with Reba. After that Reba bade me go and the second mile was run to the driving beat of Interpol. Continued down Kelly Drive and across Falls River bridge, first 4 miles in 31:15.

As I crossed Falls River Bridge a runner came from Bloody Nipple hill and was about 30 meters ahead of me as I turned down MLK. This gave me a shot of testosterone, and, looking at the windbreaker he had on, figured I'd make short work with him and continue on at an easy pace. A half mile down MLK I see I am now doing 6:07 pace and have done nothing to close the gap between us. I keep this pace up waiting for him to fade and he keeps this pace up as well. 3 miles go by and we still have the same distance between us, he then starts widening the gap and turns down the Schuylkill bike path as I continue to finish up the back four miles just past the Art Museum. This 4 was in 24:37.

Don't know who this guy was, but he had just led me on what was my first tempo run of the year, about a month before I figured I'd be ready for it. But it felt at less than usual tempo effort and there was no pain. Thus the good week continues. Ran home from there to make it 11 miles total in 81:49.

I'm not really big on the resolution thing this year. I looked at what I wrote last year, which was to get more sleep. This is a good resolution again for this year. Slept in today, so only got 365 more nights of good sleep to go. As a second resolution, I think I will go back and read old blog entries more. Just looking over this year's entries in compiling my memorable moments list, I feel that there is much gold to be mined from what I have written.

We'll see how long these resolutions last. Anyhow, New Years means new starts, and I feel I made a good one for this year.