Seebo's Run

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

My Photo
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Friday, February 29, 2008

Extra Day

Easy 10 or so miles; 2 taking a long way to Erin's and, after meeting up with her, Deirdre, and Jody, going about 8 out to Cobb's Creek, romping about a bit in Mount Moriah cemetery (both sides of Cobbs Creek Dr), and then back on Kingsessing.

Mount Moriah is a place I just want to stop and spend the rest of the morning exploring. Haven't been in there for awhile, so I looked up some of my favorite places. But what was disconcerting was the mass of fresh graves with temporary headstones for numerous (30+) sites of persons, none of whom were over 30. What is this about?

I ran for 91 minutes, I'm not going to bother gmapping it and just call it, conservatively, 10 miles. This gives me 318 miles for February.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Zen and the Track

I feel very self-conscious today about writing up a track workout after my whiny blog yesterday.

Thanks to Tom for the stretches (and yes, Adrenaline 5k is on my calendar), I tried the stretches but they didn't hit the problem areas. I wore my NB 1223s (the ones I didn't wear on Tuesday) to work (thankfully I have a job where I can do that). And after I finished my blog I got the idea that, if I'm baffled by the symptoms, then I should talk with someone who would know, so I made an appointment with my physical therapist. It's called moral hazard, something that gets thrown around way too much in the health policy world, and which I am hereby exercising my right to invoke.

But then something funny happened on the way to the track. My legs felt fine on the jog over to Interboro track. Every runner's dream, the pain just wasn't there. Sun was up and it was cold. Cold and windy. When I do track workouts I bundle up (relatively speaking), knowing I can be comfortable and perhaps a bit overheated on my way to the track and then peel layers when I get there. As has been the case lately, the wind was blowing hard in my face up the backstretch.

Big sign at the entrance to the track saying that the area was under video surveillance. I wondered if anybody was watching me. Or if, should I set a land-speed record, I can use the videotape as evidence.

I wanted to hit these 800s (eight of them, with 400m recovery) in about 2:45. First one came around in a disappointing 2:52, and subsequent ones came in at 2:47; 2:46; 2:45; 2:42; 2:45; 2:45; 2:43. If you don't believe me, it should all be on videotape.

After the first rep I eased up a bit mentally in the sense that I stopped trying to bull through the wind and instead did my best to work with it. Recover and coast with the tailwind and maintain effort into the headwind. And visualize my legs gliding whenever I wanted to push. It feels more zen-like this way, as I don't really focus on going faster as much as running easier. This morning it worked. With the last six reps I didn't even look at my 400 split.

And I enjoyed myself more doing it. I've been reading track workouts on other people's blogs lately - Tom, John, Joseph - and there seemed to be a lightheartedness in their accounts that I wasn't feeling in mine. I felt jealous, like I wanted to do their workouts. Today was different. The reps weren't chores as much as opportunities to see what I could do. I felt more confident, like I was cruising around the track and could hit whatever time I wanted.

The temptation was there to try a ninth but I figured I shouldn't push it. After all, that was a pretty whiny post yesterday.

This is progress, as my average time for these dropped several seconds from when I ran this workout 3 weeks ago. I'm also approaching where I was at this point in 2006, which has become my gold standard. Besides being a little faster, I was in a remarkably similar mind frame as I was today. Felt really good and like I could only get better. Little did I know at this point in '06 that a few weeks later I'd be dealing with a salivary gland stone the size of a grape.

I broke 300 miles today for this month, my best ever mileage for February (with a leap day to spare). Only the second time ever that I have hit back-to-back 300 mile months.

11 miles in 88:17.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


I was going to call this entry "licking my wounds" but I am not saying I am injured. Yet.

The problem is with the inside of the both calves. My PT, back when I saw one, said that was the area for tibialis posterior tendonitis. But googling this, I find that this malady centers around the inner ankle and goes down into the foot. What I have feels like tendonitis and starts at the bony knob of the inner ankle, but runs up the inside front of my calf. Its in the calves and not on the shins, so I don't think its shin splints (I've had them before, and the pain is different). I've had this on and off for awhile, but its been low grade. Yesterday after my run it got more noticeable, to the point where I was being careful moving my foot around when I put on shoes and to where I felt it when in bed. If I pay attention I can feel it now as I write.

So first things first, I'm taking the day off of running. This is the first time I've taken a day off since January 7 and only the second day off this year. I am still in the bargaining phase, however, as I'd like to get a track workout in tomorrow and run hard over the weekend, at which point I am willing to ease up as a mini-taper to the following weekend's Cesar Rodney half-marathon.

There is some precedent for this, as my training cycles usually involve some type of overuse issue that just sits on the threshold of warranting concern. At this point, I still classify my current malady as of that ilk.

But what is it? I just tried the internet again for a spell and again had no luck with diagnosis. Now I'm wondering, wishfully, if its not just sore muscles. The only thing helpful I got from my search (besides what its not) is the mention of shoes as a possible issue. I did go back to using some older light-weight trainers yesterday, dunno if that has to do with anything.

Anyway, zero miles today and I'll take it day by day.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Why I Blog

Long way home. Started from Reba's house and went around the airport and through SW Philly.

I did the Hog Island part at tempo. I first did this on Feb. 17 and today I extended it a bit. This is a more challenging tempo course because, unlike the Drives, the distances here are unmarked. This means I am forced to run alot more by feel.

Fortunately, in my blog entry from the 17th I was meticulous in recording the tempo part. For my sake more than anything else, I repeat what I wrote about Hog Island Rd.:

at the 2.552 mark, just after I turned right onto Island Ave/Hog Island Rd., I take off. I make note that I pass the first radar tower (1 mile in) in 6:20 and the second radar tower (2.4 miles in) in 15:01. I run hard to a runway underpass (4.6 miles, ending at mile 7.169) for a total time of 28:19, or a 6:09 pace which got faster as I got further in.

Today, the first radar tower passed in 5:50 (much quicker), but I must have slowed a bit as I passed the second radar tower in 14:45 (a little quicker) and then the runway underpass in 28:24 (actually a little slower). I extended this tempo part to where Hog Island intersects with Enterprise for 5.4 miles of tempo (ending at mile 7.961), which I clocked in 33:13, for an overall 6:09 pace. Interesting in that I ran very differently today for essentially the same pace. I can learn alot if I run this stretch repeatedly, we'll see how that goes.

I also continued to run tempo down Enterprise Ave until I got past I-95 and to Bartram Ave. This was an additional 1.35 miles in 8:18 (continued the 6:09 pace). This part is dicier to run tempo, though, as there are traffic, lights, and other impediments.

The rest of the run was a slog through SW Philly. Not much more to write about it other than it is in the log, and now, in the blog. 14 miles in 1:44:01.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Hair of the Dog

Wintertime, and the running is easy. Still had the crud in my legs from yesterday's run. Left the watch at home, went down to Erin's, and set out to run Penn campus and West Philly. It was like old times in that we got talking about one thing, in this case T9 texting, and that catalyzed a series of esoteric conversation topics that kept us (and Jody) engaged for the rest of the run.

My head is in a fog, so I'll take an easy day writing as well. The loop this morning was 7 miles, and I tacked on another half mile jogging home from dropping my car off, yet again, in the shop.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

20 Miler #2

Deirdre, Ryan, Chem Steve and English Mike were waiting when I got to the Art Museum steps this morning at a little past 8. Mike suggested we go up Henry Ave a ways. I don't know my way around that neck of the City very well, and perhaps that was why I agreed we should head that way. We had a direction, we'd figure out the route en route.

Weather was a little chilly but sunny, traffic was mellow. Mike slowed down on a long uphill stretch of Henry Ave and told us to keep on. The less I knew where we were the more hilly the running got. When we ran over the Henry Ave. Bridge that spans the Wissahickon Valley, I knew I was in a part of the city I liken to the Bermuda Triangle in that all my navigation instruments go haywire and the world seems to no longer be linear. I recognize streets and think we should pop up in one place and it soon becomes obvious we must be heading in the opposite direction. After a few turns off of Wissahickon Ave. we started hitting cul-de-sacs and had to backtrack up the hills we were screaming down just a minute ago. This was the low point of the run.

But Deirdre led us down Kitchens Lane and through some icy trails and all of a sudden we ended up on Forbidden Drive. The universe was familiar again. From here it was a run back along the Wissahickon Creek, on some paths that have been paved since I last ran them, on down to the Drives. We lost Ryan as he headed back down Kelly Drive as we turned onto MLK, and Deirdre and Steve lost me at Montgomery Ave as I headed home.

By now my legs were fully battered about, just like I like it on a long run. I added a little bit at the end so I could run for 2:45. Final loop was this... 21 miles in 2:46:12.

Somehow a very grounded run. Nothing cerebral to it, just kept running. The conversation was nothing memorable, but I couldn't imagine doing this run without the company. But most of all, I'm glad its done and in the log. And this gives me 81 miles for the week.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


This morning had the makings of a long run but the majority decided it should happen tomorrow. So at least I should have company tomorrow.

Headed out the door a few minutes late this morning on my way to meet Philly Runners at the Art Museum at 9:30. Fell a little further behind when I stopped to chat with my buddy Mel on the way. By the time I got to the Art Museum everybody had left. It took me about a mile and a half along MLK to catch up with Deirdre and Ryan. We turned up Montgomery Ave and went up Georges Hill. Back around on the Concourse we run into Veena, out for her morning run, and she turned around to join us. Veena's running in the Olympic trials in Boston and moving out of Philly before that, which should keep her busy this winter. The four of us ran back into West Philly, where Deirdre and Ryan turned to head back to the Art Museum, and Veena ran west with me.

I got to pick Veena's brain a bit on training and on what she knew about treadmill calibration. Since yesterday I have been bothered by the idea that there is no way to know how accurate the set pace on a treadmill is. If the tm says, say, you're going at a 7 minute pace, it will be internally consistent and register that you have run one mile after 7 minutes. But yesterday what the tm called a 7 minute pace didn't feel that fast. Say, for arguments sake, that I was correct in my intuition. Then not only would the pace be slower, but the mileage would be short. Veena agreed, there is no way to validate that a tm pace is accurate. Crisis of faith?

It was another jolly Saturday morning romp through the park, meeting up with folks and making the course up as we go along. 11.4 miles in 85:20.

Friday, February 22, 2008


Well, it wasn't the seventh circle of hell, maybe the second or third.

It snowed this morning. Enough so that I got up at 5am and went right back to bed. Enough so that Tony didn't have school but I did. But that meant that the athletic center was open so I went down there to get my workout in instead of running the snowy streets.

Here we are almost through February and this is only the first time this winter I can remember where I was forced inside to do a workout. Not bad.

Ran the half mile down to the ARC. The city gets claustrophobic when it snows, as cars, runners, pedestrians, etc. all get pushed closer together. Once inside I see that there are now six treadmills. One of them is out of order, one of them has a sign on it saying not to take it faster than a 10-minute pace, and the other four were occupied by co-eds, including two who were walking but for some reason declined to ride the impaired hamster wheel.

I sighed and started doing laps on the 1/10th mile track. When I got out my iPod I noticed the headphones were missing an earbud. One end was just chewed off chord with some wire peeking out. Since Tony ate five donuts last night, my chief suspect is Twinkie (my obese cat).

So I go round and round the track unable to block out the 80s-era electro music (hence the title of todays entry) that permeates the gym and provides the soundtrack to the PE class on the basketball court that is obviously doing its badminton unit. 16 college kids languidly playing badminton on two courts while at least as many sit along the sidelines waiting for their turn. I play around with changing speeds, partly to keep me amused and partly because of the sharp unbanked turns.

32 laps (3.2 miles) later a hamster wheel finally becomes free. I pounce on it and notice that its different from the ones they've had. I say different because its not the brand of the others, but it doesn't look or feel new. I take it down to 7-minute pace pretty quickly and it feels too easy. I wonder how accurately treadmills are calibrated and decide to take it at face value. I take it down to 6:30 and note, ironically, that it was all I could do to take it down a bit faster on yesterday's run. This hamster wheel has a heart rate feature and I use it every half mile. Average is around 140.

After about two and a half miles on the hamster wheel I had to see if the mill would exceed a six minute pace. Much to my pleasant surprise it would. I brought it all the way down to 5:30 pace and hung on for about a half mile. 3 miles in 19:52. My pulse here came in 156.

I cooled down until the tm hit 3.8 miles and jogged the extra half mile home. .5+3.2+3.8+.5= 8 miles for the workout. No watch, no iPod.

PS - If any of you heart rate monitor wonks can offer any insights based on my heart readings I'd appreciate it. Can I assume 156 (after half mile at roughly 5k pace) to be my max rate? If so, is 140 going hard... moderate? My resting pulse is 44, and I (for another month and a half) I am 43 years old.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Left the house at 5:10, enough time to get in a BN loop tempo run before getting Tony to school.

As cold as yesterday (low 20s) but not as windy, at least not until I got to MLK Drive. I dressed smarter today, with a t-shirt under my long sleeve T, new cotton gloves that I picked up at last weekend's Pickle Run (thank you Nolan Painting), and a knit cap.

Had high hopes for taking my times on the tempo parts down yet another notch from the last time I ran this, two weeks ago. When the first mile clocked in at 6:27, I knew that wasn't going to happen. Long story short, the 4 MLK miles went down in 25:20, and the Bridge-to-Plateau segment went down in 17:05 (9:15 at the BN summit). These are a bit slower than my times from two weeks ago and alot slower than what I was shooting for.

I take consolation in that I successfully held back the overwhelming urge to stop and turn around after Mile 1, and that my subsequent splits actually got progressively faster, though not down to the 6-flat vicinity I had been going for. It just wasn't my day. Not sure why. Yes, there was a sometimes nasty headwind; yes it was cold; yes, my stomach did not feel great; yes, I've been running hard lately. These are all likely factors, but their collected variance explained (statistical term) doesn't come close to 100%.

Interestingly, I checked my biorhythms and today I'm at my lowest point in the physical cycle. According to my chart, it also looks like I'm going to be a dumbass for the next few days. But my emotional cycle is near peak, which is consistent with Reba's comments that I seemed in a good mood this morning.

The other consolation I got is that I felt sick to my stomach after finishing the tempo parts and, when that settled, I really felt tired. Either I'm coming down with something or, despite my disappointing time, I put alot of myself out there this morning.

Altogether, 13.5 in 1:43:58. Taking it in stride (sic).

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Best Runs are Done Runs

One of the more miserable mornings I have run lately. It was cold, but not unbearable; it was the strong NW wind that made things unpleasant. I ran by myself down to and along the Schuylkill and then back west on Market St and through Penn campus (there was a wall of wind around the high rise dorms) to Erin's. Here I hooked up with her, Iris, and Jody to head west into the wind to Cobbs Creek and back down Springfield, again proving Seebo's Law of Thermodynamics that the tailwind is always of lesser force than the headwind.

Iris was sitting snug in the running stroller all packed with her reading material into a sleeping bag-type contraption and with a windproof vinyl thingy draped around the stroller. I was jealous.

A half-fast run, at best. I have the time on my watch but won't put it down as I'm too lazy to get the watch and too self-conscious about putting the time on the record. Suffice that it was an easy day, and suffice that I ran it like one. 10.5 miles; I'm glad its done.

P.S. - Satellite recon has just spotted a track in West Philly that I'd heard rumors about and have been meaning to investigate. Check it out. Will have to send out a ground patrol to investigate further.

P.P.S. - Got a Valentine's card from the West Coast chapter of CWP. Thanks, it got some laughs.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Rehearsals for Retirement

It was 6:10 a.m. when I left to run and the sun was already shining pretty colors over the Darby Creek.

Headed out to the track to consummate the workout I wisely postponed from yesterday. Mike suggested this:

get on the track and just do 12 quarters, but be generous with the rest, and do the first two or three with emphasis on form, do not work too hard, see what the clock says, and it may be like the miles the other day, your head will follow your body once both are warmed up. The point of the workout is to get your legs used to some turnover so that when you are ready for faster mile repeats, your legs are not redlining to point of muscle strain.

and it sounded well-suited for where I was at. Mike's a good friend, and runningwise he's more a mentor than a coach. When I get going in my training he'll usually email me comments and suggestions which come closer than any coach or anyone else to "getting" me and my running. This workout was no exception.

So 12x400 with unlimited rest it was. I liked the idea of taking as much time as necessary between repeats, which then lets me go more for broke on the repeats. There was a sky-is-the-limit feeling to how fast I could do these 400s, and I had hopes (i.e., not goals or targets) of doing them in the 75-80 second range.

The repeats (with generous 2:15-2:45 recoveries in between) went 85; 82; 81; 81; 79; 82; 81; 79; 79; 81; 80; 80.

Not quite as fast as I had hoped. I should have read Mike's instructions more closely, esp. where he said don't work too hard. Esp. the first one, I started with my head hunkered down and just looking to bull my way to a quick 400. I was disappointed at the result and then took advantage of the long recovery to relax. Over the course of the last few track workouts, progressively faster reps just came to me, I told myself to let them come this time as well. This made for a little speed and after I relaxed the form came, where I found I could concentrate on arm cadence and stride turnover - long and easy. That first 79 just came but it was hard to maintain it, as there was a strong headwind rearing up around the back turn just when I was really sucking air. This demanded speed, form and concentration, and some reps I got these together better than others.

The one letdown about this workout is that it puts a bound on how fast I am. Coming in I felt as I could go as fast as I wanted, going out I now know that 80 second 400s are about my range, with my times for longer reps based off of that. I know I can work them down a bit, and that I might be able to do better under more favorable conditions, but improvement from here will be limited. And like every other competitive runner I know, I'd like to see that base time be about 5 seconds faster.

I could go on for a whole other blog entry on the thoughts that spun off of this realization of limits, culminating perhaps in a metaphor for mortality. But to paraphrase Freud: "Sometimes a track workout is just a track workout." It gives me a basis to shoot for 2:45 for the 800m reps I'd like to do for next weeks workout.

11 miles (I don't stop the watch even when I stop) in 1:35:50.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Club West Philly

I woke up this morning to the rain. Then I got up and took stock of the state of my legs. I laughed. No way the track was going to happen today.

But it was too warm not to run at all. So I shifted to plan B. Met with Deirdre, Erin & Iris and we set out for Cobbs Creek. I hoped we'd turn back on Thomas Ave, but we headed out to Springfield Ave. My legs felt like toast and I again amused myself at the vision of speedwork today.

6 miles on this loop, untimed. This is about as easy a day as it gets for me lately. Not much runningwise but it was good to reconnect with Erin and Deirdre. Viva CWP!

Sunday, February 17, 2008


I just finished reading a book, Mad Travelers, where the author, Ian Hacking, looks at the psychiatric diagnosis of dissociative fugue, a diagnosis that is rarely utilized in contemporary times, but was quite widespread in turn-of-20th-century Europe. He uses this to look at how certain mental illness diagnoses (think ADHD) are products of a specific time and place as much as they reflect a "real" illness.

My thinking on this for my blog is less ambitious and methodical. I was struck by how dissociative fugue is initiated by the irresistible compulsion in the hapless fugeur to drop everything and just take off walking to far off destinations. Such a fugue state could last several months, and typically ended with the fugeur finding himself in a strange place with no recollection of how he got there.

The urge to wander has been romanticized throughout American history - think Whitman, Kerouac, and, yes, Forrest Gump. I then think of my little daily runs as perhaps a domesticated version of this urge, a compulsion to take off for parts unknown that is invariably and quickly curbed as I always turn around and come home. But could this urge to take to the open road, modified to the restraints of civil responsibility, be at the bottom of why I run? My annual mileage typically ranges between 2,500 and 3,000 miles - which would make quite a nice little fugue episode. Maybe someday.

Had a good long while to ponder this stuff this morning, as I set out on a long run. I took a page out of the brief period that Greg McMillan coached me, where he would have me alternate long, 20-mileish runs one weekend with shorter long runs that had marathon pace segments liberally thrown in. Having run 20 last week, I laid out a 16.5 mile Hog Island loop around the airport perimeter and through Tinicum, where I would take the unmeasured Hog Island segment as hard as I dared and, after some recovery, take the measured 5-mile Tinicum segment again as close to marathon pace as I could.

This part will be technical, with lots of split times because I want to keep a record of it. If you don't skip over this, you may want to refer to the G-map I linked to in the last paragraph.
- at the 2.552 mark, just after I turned right onto Island Ave/Hog Island Rd., I take off. I make note that I pass the first radar tower (1 mile in) in 6:20 and the second radar tower (2.4 miles in) in 15:01. I run hard to a runway underpass (4.6 miles, ending at mile 7.169) for a total time of 28:19, or a 6:09 pace which got faster as I got further in. This is getting close to my ultimate marathon pace goal of around 6 minute pace.
- 3.4 recovery miles later I hit Tinicum refuge (at mile 10.549) and ran 5 sometimes muddy, sometimes slick miles in 32:31. Again the mile splits got faster as I progressed, with the last two coming in at 12:31. I then took a recovery mile through the neighborhood to make the run 16.5 miles in 1:58:49.

This was the best run I've had all year. I just felt really strong. I took John Dubs' advice on the virtues of running by feel for the first fast segment, and then just took the last part of the run, on a tried and true course, with whatever energy I had left in me. I'm surprised how much I had. With that, the run went by quickly.

This continues a phase where my head is getting out of the way and just letting my legs do their thing. I want to continue this tomorrow, when I hit the track and look to a workout suggested by Mike M. I know two hard workouts in a row is not ideal, but logistically it makes a world of difference.

Or I just might take off and run and won't come back.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Pickle Run 5k

I ended the last entry with a cliffhanger of sorts. Today I raced the Delco Road Runners' Pickle Run, a 5k prediction run, meaning that there were no watches allowed on the course and the winners were those who came closest to their predicted times. I predicted a 17:30 to close yesterday's blog entry.

It was chilly out this morning - sunny, low 30's, with a bit of a wind. Got in 4 miles at Tinicum before heading out there, and another mile to warm up at Ridley Creek State Park, where the race was held. Along with me and Reba, Reba's dad and her friend Amy also were out to run. Chad was volunteering at the race - sadly his running has been severely hampered by a degenerative hip problem, but he has plans to run Broad Street this year. I look forward to seeing him out there. Eleanor, who I run into frequently at races, was also out, as were about 130 others.

Not much to write about the race. It was along the "flat" part of the bike path that runs through the park, out and back. Except for the obligatory high school boys that sprinted out of the chute I was in the lead from the start. For about a mile I heard people breathing behind me, but that faded and by the turnaround I knew that, as expected, I wouldn't have competition. No splits to report, I ran hard but not 5k hard through the whole race and finished at...


What I liked about the race was that it was the first one I have ever been to where the winner (i.e., me) got absolutely no recognition for doing so. Prizes (jars of pickles; bottles of pickle juice, pimped up pickles, etc) went to those with the least difference between predicted and actual times, those with the most difference in their times, those who found pickles hidden along the course, and so on. Nary a mention of the winning time. I finished 24th in predicting my time.

The only thing notable about my finish is that it marks the debut of "Seebo" appearing in the results. As I wrote yesterday, my time doesn't mean much, as I did not plan to run any faster than I had to. A jolly little romp for a Saturday morning. Total, with warm ups and cool down, of 10 miles.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Feeding the Monkey

Fed the monkey his 10 miles this morning. He's happy for another day.

Today's run was fueled by seared horseradish tuna and rabbit nachos from last night's dinner at Rae. Didn't make for a bad run; didn't make for a good run, just made for a run. The Acme/Wynnefield loop was on the menu this morning. Running it is mostly in daylight now. Grayson Capps and then Chris Knight were on the iPod. Took it easy and just kept going.

Looking ahead, tomorrow I'm running the Pickle Run, a 5k race at Ridley Creek that is a prediction run (i.e., no watches allowed) and looks to be low-key. I aim to treat it just that way, a pre-season tune up with no pressure or prognostications attached. We'll see if I can keep my word.

Prediction is a 17:30 - based more on effort I want to expend than on effort I'm capable of. Anyway, you read it here today; check in tomorrow to see how I do.

10 miles in 1:26:10 today.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

As is now tradition, Reba and I take the morning off on VD and sleep in. After that she went to the gym and I went to the track.

4-5 x 1600 (w/ 400 recovery) were on tap for today. Goal time I set was between 5:40 and 5:45.

Legs didn’t feel any pep this morning, I was wondering how much of that came from last night’s quickie workout. Plus it was windy, meaning that I flew down the frontstretch and was fighting the headwind down the backstretch. I could come up with a few more excuses, but you can see where this is heading.

The first 1600 came in at 5:48. Each 400 split was 1:27. I felt this was all I had, and figured I’d live with it for today.

Second 1600 started like the first. First 800 split in 2:54. As I was wondering how many more 400’s I could hit in 1:27, the next 400 split came in 1:26. This one-second drop lit a fire. I thought I could get a faster 1600 time this time around, and sure enough the complete rep was in 5:44.

Third 1600 again started out with a 1:27 400 split and got faster each time around. Ran it in 5:40.

For the fourth I went all out and hit 5:39. This felt great.

Then I did a fifth. The reason I give myself the option of a fifth (besides being able to bag the last one) is so that I can run the fourth one all out and then see how I go on another one. Long story short, I started out slower but got stronger towards the end, and hit a 5:46.

I like to say that I never go to the track without learning something about myself. Today I learned that my body is in better shape than my head. I assumed that I’d be stuck in the high 5:40s on these reps and my legs begged to differ. Fortunately, I was smart enough to first get out of the way and then to jump on board. Now I feel there is room to push even harder. We’ll see.

11 miles total in 1:26:something. Returned to Reba's and had a crepes brunch that couldn't be beat.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Fear Factor

If you offered me a choice of whether I would rather: a) swim across a pool of leeches; b) eat live roaches; or c) run 8 miles in the rain, it would be a tough decision between a & b.

This morning, however, I found myself doing #c. Circumstances had me at Reba's house without a car. Plan was to run home, but I hadn't factored in that last night's freezing rain would still be coming down, albeit a bit more warmly as regular rain. It didn't seem an issue last night but this morning I once again locked up at the prospect of running in this mess.

But the prospect of being stranded in Prospect Park is a powerful motivator, and I started my run. It was, of course, not as bad a run as I feared, but that doesn't mean it was enjoyable. Although the temps were in the high 30s, the ice from last night's cold temperatures still lingered on the sidewalks and lesser traveled roads. Once on Chester Pike I had the choice of running on icy/slushy sidewalks or directly out in the traffic lanes. I did a little of both - doing fartleks on the road when the traffic was light and in between I did slower, more careful spells on the sidewalk. I learned that feet dunked into icy puddles would quickly warm up again. There is a difference between wet and soaked; I was more the former. And my worst fear - of being showered by a rooster tail from an oncoming car - never came to pass.

It always feels good to face down one's fears. It always feels good to snatch a run from the jaws of improbability. And I found myself problem-solving throughout the run: tending to my little worries, collecting data on the actual conditions, and adapting. Always adapting. It wasn't bad.

8 miles, no time. I'll try to air out some faster miles on the treadmill this evening.


Four miles this evening on the hamster wheel at USP. Three of them at max pace (18 min.). My legs just had to do something fast. Its a good pace for me to get comfortable with.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Almost as cold today as it was yesterday. I couldn't get myself out the door. Something about the cold got me to freeze up (sic). Had a tempo run on tap for today, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Ended up sitting in the living room staring at the door for about five minutes after I laced up my shoes, not being able to push my way out the door. Just something mental.

Finally bargained with myself that I would have to do some miles today, and this morning was the only time I could fit them in. A tempo run wasn't going to happen, so I settled on a 6.5 mile Art Museum loop and shuffling the rest of the week's schedule around to get in my hard workouts.

I ended up doing a Sweetbriar Loop for 8 miles. Of course it wasn't as cold out as my mind pictured it. But between the extra clothing and my mental malaise it would have been extremely tough to get up to tempo this morning. Maybe somewhere out there my competition was working harder than me this morning. If so, I congratulate them; I just couldn't do it.

Still, the morning is far from a total loss. 8 miles in 71:34.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sunshine on the Water

This morning was the coldest sofar in this training cycle. Wunderground said it was 11 and very windy. This got my attention to the point of where I put tights on for the first time this cycle.

It turned out, however, to be quite an enjoyable run. The sun is now rising noticeably earlier, and I left a little later this morning. So instead of the cold darkness, it was the cold early morning, and that makes a big difference. Second, I was dressed comfortably, so the cold was whipping around but not really penetrating. Third, for once in my life I beat the wind. I ran a Tinicum Township - Tinicum Refuge loop, which initially gave me a tailwind as I headed east and away from a west wind. I quickly figured out that this was the reason my run felt so strong, and dreaded turning around. When I turned left onto 84th St. that dreaded wind was indeed there - strong enough to get me believing in the wind chill. That lasted until I turned into Tinicum and the refuge was, well, a refuge from the wind. The rising sun shone off Darby Lake and reflected heat to where I was warm and fuzzy enough to be on the verge of singing John Denver songs.

I timed todays run, but wasn't tyrannized by the watch. First 5 1/2 in 49 flat, which seems much slower than what I ran, and the back 5 in 40:47, which was about right. Total was ten and a half clicks in 89:48.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Fox and the Hound

I had the rare treat of running with Reba this morning. The link to the route is here (start point is off and I adjusted the finish accordingly, so the mileage should be good enough for gov't work).

You can read Reba's entry to get more details on what were blustery conditions and a match of my tired legs and her lack of energy. But its in the logbook now.

The first time Reba and I met, we ran together. It was an awkward occasion which we laugh about now and express amazement that we survived it intact enough to see a second, more conventional date. That was about a year and a half ago. Since then we have run together only very occasionally, and it is the only area I can think of where I feel a palpable amount of discomfort between us. This morning was no exception - I felt like I was running in Timberlands. I didn't know if the pace was too fast or too slow; I didn't remember the loop being this hilly; West Philly looked awfully trashy (literally) this morning; and I second-guessed everything I said as to whether I sounded too full of myself, patronizing, boring or obnoxious as I prattled on while she toiled away.

But that doesn't contradict what I said at the beginning of the post. Between you and me, I'd still like to run with her more and am thankful that she will have me despite my utter lack of coolness on the roads.

I'll stretch the distance of the run just a tad to call it 8.5 miles; you'll have to go to her site if you want to know the time.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

20 Miler #1

Today's run started off yesterday with a vague notion that I will need to go long today, and led to a post on the Philly Runner message board to see if anyone was interested. As often happens, John Dubs was the only one to bite, but that was enough. John has been my most consistent long run partner over the last few years, and has already helped make several of these jaunts this year go by more quickly. So I ran out to meet him and the rest of the Saturday morning PR crew (probably about 30 today) at the Art Museum at 9:30.

We were about 8 strong going down MLK at about a 7:30 clip, but when John and I turned left to go up the BN hill, only one other guy, Ryan, followed as the rest turned right to cross Falls River Bridge. The three of us retraced the route John and I ran two Saturdays ago, a bit slower today but still at a good pace. The chemistry was good, as the conversation flowed and the miles went by quickly. I had the foresight to pack a GU, but it must have went to my head instead of my legs as I was yapping my head off to a captive audience after I took it.

John and Ryan turned to head back to the Art Museum at Penn campus and I headed back home, but not before heading up to 58th St. to tack on an additional 2 1/2 miles to make it a 20-miler. My legs felt strong, so that it took until mile 19 for them to get that achy-breaky feeling that I look for at the end of a good long run.

Total running time was 2:42:13. This time is as good a goal time as any for staying on my feet at Boston. Judging by the pacing and the splits I collected, I'm guessing the route was actually a little bit longer, but I cobbled together several old gmap links to come up with this distance. And that's fine, all I wanted today was to get in 20.

By way of a non-running postscript, congratulations go to Reba for passing the psychology licensing exam. As I was explaining to Maricela, this is the equivalent of what passing the bar exam is for attorneys.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Less is More

Slept a little later
Went out a little shorter
Ran a little slower
Breathed a little easier
Blogging a little less

Easy day, not much to write about. Listened to Burial for something different this morning and let its ambiance set the mood for the dark West Philly streets. My right knee hurt, not badly but noticeably, for the first half mile and then went away. Joined by Erin and Iris in running the last two miles.

6.5 miles. Followed the lead of this guy and left the watch at home. Thank God its Friday.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Hard and Early

I was afraid of doing this run. Afraid of what it would take to get out the door by 5:15 and afraid of the never ending task of chipping away at my tempo pace time. Its been a tough week... tough all around save the weather. Fortunately today was yet one more mild day.

This morning's course was my nemesis, the BN loop. I modified today's original goal time for running the four river miles from 24 to 25 minutes, and was unsure of whether I could keep that, and then sought to run anything faster than last Friday on the stretch from Falls Bridge to the Plateau.

On the bike path, about two miles in, I felt sharp pains in my right knee. 99 times out of 100 such pains go away pretty quickly but I had similar pains at the end of yesterday morning's run, and the pain lingered this morning. Lingered enough to where I prepped contingency plans. Contingency plans should I have to cut the run short as well as contingency plans should I be laid low by an overuse injury.

This thinking led me to appreciate the fine line between training hard and training stupid. Often that line is clear only in retrospect. Have I been training hard or training stupid? This morning I could not answer that question. But I also concluded that I don't think I would cut back in my training unless circumstances required it. For while overtraining only becomes apparent after the body shuts down in one way or another, conservative training always leaves the question of what might have been. This morning I reaffirmed my choice for training at this intensity and live with the risk that comes with it.

What happened next is what runners dream of. When I picked up the pace, the knee pain went away. Mile 1 came in at 6:12 and I knew I wasn't going to get any faster. A moderate headwind didn't help things either. Pace stayed steady; at times I thought I should be pushing more. But the 4 miles came in at 24:49, and I'm happy with that.

The beauty of the BN loop is as soon as this tempo portion is done the hill portion starts, forcing me to recover on the run. But today a pit stop interrupted that segue. I tried to figure out if the advantage in recovery outweighed the difficulty in recouping momentum. It looks to be about a wash, as I trucked up to the BN summit with a split of 9:06 on my way to reaching the Belmont Plateau in 16:43. The former was a little faster than last week, the latter was a bunch faster.

Total was 13.5 miles in 1:40:28. All in all a solid, though not spectacular, improvement on last week. At lunchtime I am now tired and have really beat up legs. And I'll keep doing it, unless it does me in.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Warm Day

Insanely mild out this morning. Temps supposed to get into the high 60s. I'll take it. Its one day less I get to bellyache about the cold, one less day that I have to pay for heat.

I think as I write this that if it weren't for running then except for going from office to meeting or to lunch or to the car I really won't have much chance to enjoy these temps. Its sad when I think about it that way. But I did get upwards of an hour this morning to be out and feel warm with just short sleeves while breaking a good sweat and feeling free of all the encumbrances of winter. The temptation was there to carpe the diem further, but hey, I don't want to get too carried away.

As promised to myself, this morning was an easy jaunt to the Art Museum and back around to meet Erin and Iris at 6:30 for another few miles. Erin and I each have our own logistical struggles in getting out for these runs, but we've been making it out at least once a week together for the last few weeks, and that bodes well for getting something regular going again.

Days like today make for thoughts about a really early Spring. But reports have it that the groundhog did see his shadow the other day, and it's supposed to drop back down into the 40s tomorrow, so today should be the peak of this little warm spell. Someday soon these temps will be back to stay.

8 and a qwooter miles on this loop in 70:56.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


the winter gets cold in ways you forget. ~Spoon (on my iPod this morning)

Deliciously mild this morning, short sleeve weather. Ran the Wynnefield version of the Acme loop, which must involve non-linear warping of time and space because it always feels longer than 10 miles (actually it is by about a tenth of a mile). No drama or inner demons like there were the last time I ran it about two weeks ago, but it has long lonely stretches. So on a day that is supposed to go easy on the legs, the mind gets a workout.

Easy wasn't the first word that comes to mind when I ponder my legs. They were tired, and remain achy into the morning. This did not feel like an easy run. I will cut back a little more tomorrow, but am reluctant to give up mileage now that I'm accumulating it. On the other hand, I'm afraid that if I don't cut back voluntarily I'm going to get forced to do it.

10+ miles in 85:58.

Monday, February 04, 2008


It's the doldrums of winter, where we've had enough of cold temps and dark mornings. Many folks whose blogs I lurk on seem to be wrestling with illness or injury. Reba has been getting progressively sicker over the weekend. Sofar I'm okay. These seemingly endless workouts, however, wear one down - both body and soul.

With that in mind, I tempted fate and went to the track this morning. This was my third hard workout in four days, but getting out there this morning will make things easier logistically for the rest of week with the kids.

Today was my first "real" track workout in ages. 8 x 800 meters, 400 meter recovery. Nothing fancy - just straight up shots of running. Figured I'd shoot for 2:45-2:50 range and adjust that goal depending on how I felt. No pressure, I kept telling myself.

My first rep, in the darkness, was hard - gasping for air, rubbery legs hard - and it was all I could do to get a 2:50. Prospects looked bleak. But then the second rep, which seemed slower, came in at 2:48. After that I got my rhythm and I banged out the subsequent six in either 2:48 or 2:49.

They didn't come easy, mind you, but they came steady. No going out too fast on the first 400 or doing heroic dashes on the last turn to make up for lost time. Just a steady push, 1:24's and 1:25's at the 400 split, and the satisfaction of knowing that this is exactly where my fitness is right now.

Altogether it was 11 miles in 85:37. Quinto Sol was right, I am recovered. 100%. This morning I knew it. I'll want to get those 800 meter rep times back down into the low 2:40's or even the high 2:30's, but whether or not I will do so has nothing to do with my ankle. And for the next few days it'll be recovery workouts.

Congratulations to Deirdre as she finished 2nd in the Tallahassee Marathon yesterday. Not bad for a consolation run, as she had been training to run Miami last week but was too sick to do so.

It's a tough time of year, y'all, take care of yourselves, and the ones around you.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Home Run

Today's run was an easy run that was not so easy.

I wanted to get in 10 miles so I could have 70 for the this week. That called for one of my bread and butter loops for when I'm visiting my mom's, which takes me up into the foothills of the Palisades Interstate Park, down into the ruins of Letchworth Village, and back through Thiells, Garnerville and Stony Point. These are haunts of my childhood, and each time I run this loop or a variation of it I notice things, sometimes big and sometimes small, that have changed. I guess it comes with growing older, where the hometown becomes more one of memory and less one of fact.

One thing that doesn't change is the hilliness of the terrain. Much more up and down than what I'm used to, especially the protracted uphills that make up much of the first four miles of this run. I wonder how different a runner I would be if I lived here and trained regularly on these roads. Today I took them easy and tried to make this as much a recovery run as possible.

My watch still lies at home, forgotten, so its 10 miles in somewhere between one and two hours.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Making the Rounds

Greetings from New York, where Reba and I are visiting my mom for the weekend.

Reba and I went out to Rockland Lake to run this morning. The circumference of the lake is just over 3 miles. The good part of this is that you are never more than a mile and a half away from either the bathrooms or the car. The bad part of this is, well, you just run around and around. But I could get my mileage in and Reba could do likewise and the NY Times is in the car for whoever finishes first. Reba finished first, you can read her account here.

I ran 16. Round 5 times and a little bit. The more miles I put in today the less I have to put in tomorrow to get me to my weekly goal of 70 miles. Not the most exciting running in the world. However, if this kind of running strikes your fancy, there is a marathon in August that goes around this loop almost 9 times. I'll pass.

I don't want to sound negative about Rockland Lake. It will always have a special place in my heart, for this was the first course I ever ran, when I was 12, completing a 3 mile loop with my mom. However, 16 miles is long, doing it in laps doesn't make it go any quicker.

Left my watch in Philly, so didn't get a time on it. You'll have to take my word, I kept up a good pace.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Psychedelic Groin (or These Colors Run)

Today's run really started yesterday. Yesterday morning was the time for my hard workout. But for various reasons, starting the night before, I just couldn't get out the door and finally, at about 7:30, realized that a long, hard run was not going to happen. At that point the urge to just skip the run became very strong, and I had to look for reasons to run. I did make it out the door, to do 3.5 easy, untimed miles to Cobbs Creek and back down Cedar.

This gave me 303 miles for January. At the beginning of this month I would not have believed that I'd break 300.

All kinds of thoughts went through my head on this, and would easily have warranted a blog entry but yesterday was a busy day. But I often have thoughts that try to convert cutbacks and changed plans from shortcomings to virtues. As in, "yes I was supposed to run hard but I needed an easy day". Or as in, "my inability to get out of the house this morning is my body's way of telling me to cut back". Some kind of spin so that its all good. And there may well be some truth to that, or it can be complete rationalization. And the inability to ever resolve that has been the source of much hand-wringing.

I thought yesterday of Tolstoy's War and Peace, how in one of the early war scenes one Russian general takes charge of the chaos of the battle scene by reacting to every change in circumstances as though he had planned it and how that was just the way things were supposed to go. Rearranging his battle plan to conform to the unanticipatable commotion and in doing so he assumed leadership. Its been ages since I've read W&P, but that sticks with me and I wonder how much we all do that.

But yesterday's easy run left me getting up today with the same long run staring me down again. It took me a little while longer to get out of the house, but I made sure I did this morning being fully aware of the difficulty of getting back on the horse. Plan was to run a BN loop, dropping my time on the 4-mile river part from sub 28 last week to sub 26, and to drop my time on the BN part from my Saturday run with John, where we did 9:58 to the top of the hill en route to 18:37 to the plateau.

I felt strong, the streets were wet and a little slick, but conditions were good. As I got to the Schuylkill bike path it started to drizzle, and for some reason I had totally blocked out any prospect that it might rain on this very cloudy morning. I got to feel like Al Gore's frog in the slowly heating pot. The rain got progressively heavier and I didn't notice.

Got to the river and the first quarter mile split came in 1:35 and it felt easy. Easy to where I knew I'd have no problem with this run. In retrospect, I did 6 miles on Tuesday at 6 minute pace, so this run should have been easy, but somehow it was different. Anyway, I felt strong and more or less kept up this pace as the rain came down harder. The West River 4 went down in 25:23 and I could have done it faster. The ascent up BN continued to feel strong, and my time at the summit was 9:09. Kept chooglin' and made it to the plateau in 17:17.

By this time I was dripping and thoroughly soaked as the rain was beating down. But I was very happy with how well I ran and how strong I felt. I continue to say, as I said last week, that these times still have a ways to come down, but I gotta love the chunks I'm cutting off right now. And with each chunk cut off I see myself as faster. Its a transformative process, where I'm heading back to where I was. I'm getting back there.

But I'm not quite ready to let go of my ankle. People regularly ask me about it and I tell them that its 98% healed. This morning I wonder what its going to take to drop that extra 2%. Its hard to drop it, to say that its past and that I'm fully healed. Not to have that to hide behind anymore. So I decided that when I run a tempo run at sub 6 minute pace, or when I get my first cheetah time in a race, then I'll discard that 2%. I'll know when that time is there, and I'll say it in my blog. And now I'm thinking maybe next weeks BN run is a time to try and drop it.

For those of you who know my aversion to running in the rain, it wasn't bad this morning despite the relative cold and the fact that I did get drenched. I felt dry, like my inner core was comfortable and somehow an outer layer - that included both my clothes and my skin but was not part of me - were keeping the wetness out. It also helped that I ran really strong this morning. All I had to do was block out the thoughts of peeling off the clothes and the warm shower that awaited.

Which brings me to the blog title. I wore my tie-dye Reba repellant spandex shorts under my regular shorts this morning. Reba's bro-in-law Mark got them for me for Christmas, warning me that the company had sent him replacement shorts (which I also got) because the colors on these shorts ran. I found that out this morning, with my legs taking on a pinkish hue and the tie-dye imprints from the shorts giving my midsection a funky color combination as I stepped in the shower.

I'll spare y'all the picture and just say that the run went 13.5 miles with a total time of 1:40:34. And my legs feel better now than they felt yesterday.