Seebo's Run

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

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Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Sunday, March 30, 2008

20 Miler #4 - The Hay Is In the Barn!

The hay is in the barn. I get to say that once... tops, twice a year. It means that marathon training is done and all that's left is the taper. No matter what I do I won't get any fitter for Boston. The phrase always rolls off of my tongue, as I'm usually sick and tired of training by this point. This year is no different. I told Deirdre that I have a ten-mile a day habit that I am all too happy to shed. The hay is in the barn.

Ran down to Deirdre's, we ran all over the place in an un-gmappable course with a little South Philly, some Cobbs Creek, some Lansdowne Sycamore, and then back to Penn campus, where we parted ways and I did an Art Museum loop to finish things. We ended up on some paths we had to double back on, did a few parts twice; that and other things would have made a messy map. So I figured I'd run for 2:45 and call it, conservatively, 20 miles. The company made the run alot easier, and the weather was sunny and chill as well. Legs were really hurting by 2 hours, just like I wanted. Total time out was 2:47:11.

It's been a good training cycle and I'll reflect more on it soon. In the meantime, I look forward to waking up tomorrow without my ten-mile monkey riding me.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Race for Humanity 5k

A small race for a large cause. I wouldn't mess with a race such as this if it weren't for a) that its put on by several USP student organizations and in the month that precedes this race virtually everyone on campus asks if I'm going to run it; and b) the start of the race is a half-mile from my house and the course passes within half a block of it. So its mostly a race for local bragging rights and for fending off the midlife crisis. Two causes that are at least as important as humanity.

If you read yesterday's post you'd have seen a bit of added drama superimposed upon this race in the form of foot pain. If I were conservative (i.e., smart) I would have sat out this race. But I monitored the foot closely yesterday and it gave me no pain even after doing some windsprints to kill time during Tony's baseball practice and then a good bit of salsa dancing last night.

I ran about 4 1/2 miles to warm up, foot still felt fine. I did some pickups just before the race, foot still felt fine. So I was set.

The course is two loops and a little around the neighborhood. Most of it is either up or downhill, and there was a stiff wind in what seemed to be several directions. As I explained to Mary Kate, a USP vice-president, it would be a tactical race. I then had to explain to her what tactics one would use, as she expressed surprise that you just don't go out and run as fast as you can. "Yeah, but it's more complicated than that..."

A lot of the USP cross-country runners were at the start, including Nick Willey, whom I had dueled with at the Adrenaline 5k two weeks ago, and we'd agreed to have it out again this morning. There were other guys who looked imposing, including some guys with LaSalle singlets and a guy with a blond ponytail and tattoos, but it was his racing flats that put me on guard.

Gun goes off and when the chaff clears away racing flats guy pull ahead and me and Nick are trying to hang on to him. He slowly pulls away and Nick and I work together up to mile 1, which passes in 5:33. At this point, after turning from 46th onto Larchwood Ave., Nick surges and blisters the downhill stretch and I can't keep up. I'm sure he doesn't realize how smart his timing is, as I'm now getting beat on the downhill, which I consider my strength. Now I'm thinking of just hanging on.

But it was still early. Mile 2 passes (5:34) during the second time around the loop and I'm still about 20 meters behind Nick. A little past where he made his move on the first lap now I start speeding up and proceed to reel him in just before the steep downhill on the 4300 block of Larchwood. This is my home turf, I know every bump around here. I know from here on out to the finish its downhill with a tailwind, and I let it rip. Nick stays behind me and I cross the finish in 2nd with a 16:56.

The winner (16:20 or so) was racing flats guy, who was named Mike and just moved to South Philly a few months ago. He, Nick and I cool down for about 3 miles. I want to put a plug in for this race, in that it was very well organized, especially for a group of college students putting it on. Especially impressive was how they secured all intersections, and the amount of Phila PD they got to come out and secure this course - leading to a phenomenal cop-to-runner ratio. As I walk to the podium to pick up my award my left instep starts to hurt. I cursed this and then jogged the half mile home for 11 miles on the day.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Black Cat Mojo

Wrote a few days back of a black cat crossing my path.

Yesterday afternoon, after coming back from the track, the instep area on my left foot started to hurt when I walked or otherwise put weight on it. This lasted into last night. Its a weird kind of pain, can't tell if its muscle or bone; no swelling etc.; can't really reproduce it by flexing or anything else but when I get up and walk its there. It felt fine this morning when I got up but then I went down the stairs and that reactivated it. Its not debilitating, just nagging at this point.

So I took the day off. I want to see about getting some walking in later, just to evaluate how its doing. Whether or not I run tomorrow is going to be game day decision.

Leave it to the English prof to come up with the ultimate six-word piece of literature. I'm glad I didn't know of that before my effort at a six-word "memoir" yesterday.

I guess I also know a bit how you feel right now, Joseph, re. foot pain, inactivity and an upcoming race. Good luck to you tomorrow. You've worked hard to prep for this race and if the justice in this universe lines up behind you then you should do very well. I'll be rooting for you.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Making It Up As I Go

Did a double today. Got up this morning and did a Franklin Field loop, mainly so I won't obsess over my mileage when I do my track work today and so that I can check out a post-Jimmy Vaughn Fabulous Thunderbirds cd ("Painted On") that I downloaded last night. 'Nuff said about that. 4 miles; no time.

Over lunch I blocked out two hours for my track workout. I later heard there was a faculty meeting scheduled for then, but this week my priorities lay with the workout. Jogged down to Franklin Field looking to do 4-5 x 1600m with 400m recoveries. Target time was 5:30. I expected the short recoveries would made themselves felt in the last reps, but I figured this would mix some endurance in with the speed.

Track was wet due to earlier rain, and I wasn't feeling very comfortable in my skin. Nonetheless, I pulled out 5:33; 5:31; 5:29; 5:31; 5:34. Interesting progression there. I'm not ecstatic over it but I'm satisfied. I'm not obsessing so much about the times as much as feeling good that I put myself in a position where I had to hold a hard pace for an extended time period. That is easier to say now than it was while running it. 9.5 miles total, 67:54 running clock time.

There it is for today. I'm not feeling particularly eloquent, so I'll just stick with the basics. Looking ahead, I have the Race for Humanity 5k on tap for Saturday and my last long run for Sunday. After that comes the taper. I'm so ready.

Reba "tagged" me with a task to write a memoir in 6 words. I've seen other tag things on blogs but this is the first time I've gotten hit. This task does not seem too onerous, so if you want my memoir then check the title of today's entry. For rules and the like, check out Reba's post. And I will, as politely as possible, decline to pass it on. Doing so makes me feel like I'm participating in a wave.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Random Thoughts

Early to rise for an Acme Loop. Darkness into light. Twangy music on the iPod. Everything felt okay. Warmer out. Black cat runs up to the edge of the road, looks around, looks at me, crosses in front of me.

10 miles in 83:54.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Running is a game of seconds. Took it out one more time to the BN loop this morning with no other goal than to break 24 minutes for the first 4 tempo miles on this course. In past weeks I have come in at 24:04, 24:01 and 24:13 (wind-hampered). Today I came in at 24:04. F***!

I'll back up. I have the kids this week which means its early to bed and early to rise. I got out at 5am and consequently hit MLK Drive in the dark. This meant I had a hard time reading the splits and at mile 3 was expecting to see a reading showing I was on a straight 6 pace and the watch read 18:12. I ran a heroic fourth mile in 5:52 to come up a few seconds short. I then felt like I hauled up the BN but my times here - 8:58 and 16:34, are virtually identical to last week. Not until I was cooling down on top of Belmont Plateau did the dawn creep up behind the Center City skyline.

I shouldn't make too much out of this. I obviously am a bit, shall we say, plateaued with my times on this course, and will have to go into Boston with this. I know I can go faster, but I guess what disappoints me is that I imagine this week, the last of hard training, as ending more climactically than this. But today was strange. I kept feeling I was going fast, that I could run harder, but then whenever I'd downshift my pace would drift back to an equilibrium that was a bit slower than I wanted. Go figure. To add insult to injury, my 3.5 or so cooldown miles felt strong, like I still had something to give.

Again, its nothing more than a funky workout. It amounts to the last tempo workout I need to do in this training cycle. Good riddance. I am feeling tempted, however, to sneak down to the Drives at some point and try that four mile stretch again - a few seconds faster this time.

13.5 miles in 1:40:18.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Monday Morning Easy

Easy day. Slept in a little longer and ran a little less. Starting tomorrow and for the rest of the week it'll be getting up early and running hard.

Didn't quite stop to smell the flowers, but did just go out and run for the sake of running on this chilly, sunny morning. It is still very early spring, but the grass is green now. It takes me awhile to notice this, and how it adds color to and changes the mood of everything. The forsythias are also in full yellow bloom. A sense of anticipation hangs over the morning.

"Only" running 6.5 this morning was hard in that the urge is there to run more. My legs felt strong, like I'd want them to feel before a race. Starting to get close to compulsion. I'll give into that tomorrow, and something tells me I'll be glad I withstood temptation today. But I hope my legs hang on to that feeling they have. Delicious.

Art Museum loop, 6.5 miles in 55:48.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

Happy Easter. Had family over and a good dinner, so my morning's run is now a distant memory.

Went out to Lansdowne to see the tree. Did the usual route out there and then extended it a bit by running back down Woodland. All was quiet and the morning chill was just the right temperature for running once I got warmed up.

11 miles in about 90 minutes on this route. That gives me 68 for the week, not a bad rebound after a slow start. One more week of hard training and then its time to taper. I'm so ready.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Doppel Looper

To a select few of you readers, today's title should make you smile. For the rest of you, the term is Dutch for twice around the Drives. It is a term that has fallen out of favor of late.

This morning's workout was adapted from Greg McMillan's idea of a "fast finish long run". Here you do a 14+ mile run and finish the last 3 to 10 miles averaging marathon pace. This fit well into my plans, as I need more time running at marathon pace. The Drives are a good place for such a workout. Its a very nice run but sadly has become old hat for many of us in the local running community from years and years of running it. So most of the time the Drives become our base as we improvise routes into Fairmount Park and beyond. But today I stuck to the base loop as it has measured miles.

One loop around "the Drives" - MLK and Kelly Drives to be exact - is almost 8.5 miles. I timed 8 miles of the first time around in a bit under 64 minutes and enjoying the time I got to hear Ryan Adams' album "Gold" on the iPod, a really phenomenal piece of music. I then dropped the iPod off in the car and took off for the second time - shooting for 8 miles at a 6:07 clip - the pace for a 2:40 marathon. It took some effort (obviously) but it wasn't hard. Its still hard to imagine running 26 miles like this, but I didn't have to do that today. I just had to do 8, which I finished in 48:43. So one more indicator that 2:40 is a realistic time to shoot for at Boston.

Speaking of Boston, I found out my number yesterday. 1150. Not too shabby.

Total of 17 miles in 2:02:54.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Change of Pace

Windy again today, and a bit colder. Glad I don't have to run tempo or anything foolish like that.

Met up with Deirdre at around the South St. Bridge and made up a route as we went along. Deirdre was more focused on running a route that would maximize potential for wind blockage. I realize that she must be a little over half the weight I am, so the wind would effect her much more.

Our run ended up taking us around the reservoir by the Smith Playground and the Edgely fields, over the SMB Bridge and onto the fire roads on the Belmont Plateau. Our success at wind avoidance seemed marginal, but I got to run in alot of places I don't get to very often.

That and I saw my first blooming daffodils of the year this morning.

The company was good, which made the run go faster than the 1:42 that I was out there. That was important on a day like today, when conditions were just plain uncomfortable. As always, Deirdre quickened my pace, and in the absence of gmapping it (don't have time this morning) I'm calling it a conservative 12.5 miles.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Heart Monitor

I woke up at about 2 this morning to the sound of pouring rain, and went back to sleep feeling hopeful. I woke up again at about 4 hearing the neighbor’s wind chimes banging, and I felt dread. The alarm went off at 5:30 and there was silence.

I did not want to run. My week has been out of whack and I am just tired of the grind. Knowing there is a week and a half of hard training left for Boston has got me tempted to just walk it in. I remember writing on Tuesday that (if I got injured) worse case scenario was that I’d have a 5-week taper. The idea of the extended taper has stuck. A stark contrast to the crescendo that I imagined my training as ending on.

The only solution to this kind of thinking is to just get outside. BN loop this morning. Despite the silence, there was a stiff wind that was going to feed the legendary Schuylkill headwind. This added to my malaise, as it guaranteed my tempo times would be off. The focus today had to be on effort, which Garmin has sofar not come up with a device to measure.

First mile down MLK was all I feared it to be, with a heavy headwind slowing me down to 6:20 on the first mile. Second mile I endured the heavier headwinds and managed to pick it up during the pauses, leading to a 6:06. Mile 3 the winds, while still blowing, were calmer and I ran a 5:50. And mile 4 was a 5:57. 24:13 total (compare this to times right at 24 the last two times out).

Up the BN hill and the wind was swirling – at times bringing flashbacks of Caesar Rodney and at other times actually being at my back. Crested the summit in 8:58 and made it to the plateau in 16:35. Both times were faster than last week.

These times under this morning’s conditions speak for themselves. Last week I said that track performance was a poor prognosticator of race time (judging by Saturday’s 5k time I was right on with that), this week I’ll observe that pre-workout mind/body state has little correlation with workout performance. If my anterior tibialis had even said “boo” this morning I would have stayed in bed. After the first, 6:20 mile I would have been satisfied with just keeping that pace. But I just got stronger and felt a reserve of speed I did not have last week. This amounts to my best performance, effortwise, to date. C’mon Garmin, invent something to measure this.

I showed myself some heart this morning. That is what I’m most proud of.

13.5 miles in 1:41:54.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Day Late...

and a couple of reps short.

A combination of rain and feminine wiles kept me from running this morning. My legs, however, felt fine so I packed my kit and took it to work with me. It was clear when I went to the ARC to change, raining lightly when I re-emerged to head over to Franklin Field, and pouring when I started my reps - 8 to 10 times 800 (400m recovery) with a target of 2:40.

Yes, I was being stubborn today, stubborn to the point where I might regret it. But I wanted to get this workout in. My various measures indicate that I'm down to about 2:40 marathon shape, and I wanted to see if I could hold a 2:40 clip on a set of Yasso 800s.

So, in the pouring rain I kicked out 2:40; 2:39; 2:40; 2:40; 2:41 and then, at the start of the sixth rep, the security guard indicates they're closing the track due to lacrosse practice. I took that as the final sign from a benevolent god that I should not be running anymore. So I ran the sixth/last rep as hard as I could for a 2:42 and called it a day.

Had I done more they would likely have gotten uglier. I don't know how the rain impacted my running, I don't suppose it made me any faster. Legs feel fine right now. Not getting much mileage in sofar this week, but I'm rolling with things. We'll see how things go tomorrow. 'Bout all I can do.

8 miles total, no composite time.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Got out of the house this morning all revved up to do track intervals and the pain in my tendons started to flare up during the warmup run out to Interboro track. I deliberated back and forth for about a half mile before realizing the obvious, that it would be stupid to run 800s. So I shut it down.

Walked the half mile back and did alot of thinking with the extra time I had to make my morning Cream of Wheat. This week and next week, the last ones of hard training, were supposed to crescendo up to the taper. But plans seldom play out the way they are supposed to.

I'll rest today, run some tomorrow, and then run hard on Thursday. I'm hoping that this tendon stuff is still low-grade enough for that to be enough to keep things in remission. If not, worst case scenario I would go on a five-week taper to Boston. But I'm not going to go there yet.

I feel like I have found, am straddling, the border of how much training I can get away with without injuring myself. I transgressed a little bit these last few days, but that is the only way to recognize where the boundary lies.

Monday, March 17, 2008


After all the abuse they got this weekend, my post tibular tendons threatened to go on strike this morning. So management backed off and we all got to sleep in. Labor relations were vastly improved this afternoon, so I laced up after work and did an Art Museum loop. Felt easy and loose. Had a just-downloaded Ryan Adams album on the iPod and spent the loop in Jacksonville.

6.5 miles in 54:07. Its dark now and will still be dark when I hit the track in the morning.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

20 Miler #3 - In 4 Acts

I got home from my run this morning and call Reba, who asks if I were a "soggy Seebo," in reference to the light rain we had this morning. I respond that, no, I am a "sloggy Seebo," in reference to this morning's long run. Ba-domp. Well, I thought it was cute.

It was a good slog, however, and since I've been listening to alot of This American Life lately, I'll make this a slog in 4 acts. Stay with us.

First act was heading out to the Art Museum, about 3 miles. Mundane miles that I've done thousands of times before. I took the shorter way, through Powelton Village, because I was running late to meet folks at the Art Museum (see Act 2). My head was trying to figure out how much abuse my legs had taken from yesterday's race and where to run today. I decided I'd run between 2:45 and 3 hours, and letting the course unfold. As many times as I've started on these runs, I never have any idea at this point how long I'll actually be running. It's better that way.

Second act started at the Art Museum, where I met up with Ryan and English Mike. We all had different agendas and were all looking for some company for part of our runs. Ryan's taking it slow after Cesar Rodney last week, and Mike, like myself, is gearing up for Boston. We head up Kelly Drive, up the Wissahickon trail (which I love now that its paved) and onto Forbidden Trail. The running here is as easy as the company, we keep it around an 8-minute pace, and note that the splits off the marked miles are different than the readings off of Ryan's Garmin. It feels like cheating to run with these guys, as the miles go more quickly and before we know it we are at mile 10 or so.

Third act starts a little before the second act ends. Mike points Ryan and myself up towards Roxborough and continues on up Forbidden Drive. Ryan and I proceed up a trail that takes us to Monastery Ave, which keeps going up. Then its down the other side of the hill into Manayunk, the hill known as the Wall. At the bottom of the Wall is Main Street, where Ryan turns left and I turn right. Thus closes the second act, marked by good company, and continues the third act, marked by hills. After this one I cross on Green Lane into Montgomery County and take a set of three hills on Belmont Ave. known as the Three Bears. Ridiculous hills to run when going long, and there were a few more hills as I slog through Fairmount Park and Wynnefield. The idea of this gravity-resisting act is to soften up my legs for the fourth act.

Fourth act starts when I cross 63rd St. into Overbrook and the far reaches of West Philly. Here we get rolling hills, and my legs feel like they have just come off of Heartbreak Hill and on the downhills past Cleveland Circle. This is the feeling I want, and I do pretty good at picking up the pace here, not anything that's going to break any land-speed records, but to where its reassuring that I can pick things up and keep the pace accelerated on back to Cobbs Creek and then down Cedar Ave. Course came to 20.5 miles in 2:49:30.

Hard weekend. All VO2 max yesterday and this morning it was mercilessly flogging the legs. I feel good that I finished strong in the fourth act. I feel even better that it is over.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Adrenaline 5k

The Adrenaline 5k, put on by the Haddonfield Running Company, year after year draws out all of the young 5k studs in the area. I never found the course as fast as it is cracked up to be, but what makes it fast is the competition. There is always somebody just ahead of you and somebody else breathing down your neck.

A disadvantage of this is that there is a mob jockeying for position right from the start. So right after the horn I find myself boxed in and watching as a mass of runners forms a lead pack and breaks away. Its another 30 seconds before I can engage a flanking maneuver to free myself from the second pack, but by then I had calmed myself and realized that this natural restraint was probably a good thing. Mile 1 passes in 5:18 and I realize it was definitely a good thing. Right around here I pull up to Tom, who sees me and throws in a surge to get about ten meters ahead of me. I let him go. About ten meters ahead of him I see Nick Willey, one of the top XC runners on the USP squad. Mile 2 has some hills and I hold this gap between me and Tom and Nick. At the split it is 5:34. This is my 3rd A5K, each time I have run the second mile considerably slower though it hasn't felt that way.

With a mile left I pick things up a bit and start to gain a bit on Nick and Tom. I'm hearing spectators say "first female" and I look and see Renee Gunning a few paces back. We all turn the corner back onto Kings Highway and now its about a 3/4 mile straightaway to the finish. I'm back even with Tom now and he throws a surge and then I surge back and we leapfrog a few times. Nick is now in my sights and I forget about Tom to key on Nick. I'm really exhausted but am amazed to find another gear. I ride it right past Nick, who sees me and tries to respond; a groan tells me he doesn't have it. Ten seconds later I'm in the chute with a 16:45. Its Renee, then Tom, right behind Nick.

Hang back and kick at the end, I still get flashbacks of how Chuck Shields used to beat me like that. It's not usually the way I race, but it made for running that last mile on pure adrenaline (5:51 for the last 1.1, or a 5:19 pace). After finishing I turn around to Nick and say, "Not yet, sometime soon but not today." He's a junior now and I've really seen his times go down in the three years I've known him. Once he gets back in shape for the fall season, he should be able to thrash me. But in the meantime, there is the Race for Humanity in two weeks, a 5k that a USP sorority sponsors and which we'll be both running. So there will be a rematch, this time for bragging rights on home turf. So stay tuned.

Also want to give a shout to my PAC teammates. Only five of us showed up, which is just enough to make the minimum for the Grand Prix competition. For a 5k, I'm frankly disappointed that we didn't get more help. But the five of us ran well, especially considering that we all had ran Cesar Rodney last week. This goes double for Mike, who was sick as a dog this morning and still made it out to run, fearing (rightfully so) that if he didn't we would not score as a team. That he pulled out a 20:34 running in the condition he did is an added bonus. Julie got second masters, and Chantal and Rory ran well as well. A shot of adrenaline to each of you.

And finally, take a look at the results of this race. My 16:45 finish was good for 44th place. That's right, 44th. Gotta love it. The race for overall winner must have been something to watch. But my finish was good enough for 2nd master, which meant that I got paid. But, after figuring in the race fee, the fill up I got on the way (gas is cheaper in NJ), a car wash, and a stop at the Dunkin' Donuts, I didn't cross the Ben Franklin Bridge with any more money than I came into Jersey with.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner

Two roads diverged upon getting to the airport, and I took the one with more miles. This morning, that made all the difference.

Apologies to Robert Frost. I'm not sure what kind of difference running 14 miles instead of 10 on an "easy" day this morning will make, but it just about assures me a high mileage week. It also will keep quiet, at least for today, that voice that says I could have trained harder. Don't know if it would slow me down any in tomorrow's Adrenaline 5k, but that will probably never get answered.

The main reason I chose this road less traveled on my run home from Reba's house this morning was because I really didn't feel like slogging down Bartram Ave., which is shorter but seems endless. So I took the longer Hog Island Road around the airport instead. Its a very solitary stretch, and this morning I enjoyed being alone with my thoughts and a nice, though unspectacular, sunrise with the blackbirds chirping and the gulls, crows and occasional hawk flying about. For several miles I felt at peace and was content to have the run go on forever. That lasted, however, until I got to about Fort Mifflin and ended at about the same time the realization came that I was only about halfway home. Soon thereafter I was keenly aware of running on tired legs and getting into the uglier parts of SW Philly, part of Burgess' "Zone of Transition." I focused on the former, as this discomfort is the main value of this workout as I get closer to Boston.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep

14 miles in 1:57:32.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

BN Primer

If baseball is a game of inches, then distance running is a game of seconds.

Tempo day. Same route as I have been running. Goal was to do the first four, marked MLK miles at 5:55 pace (about my Cesar Rodney pace) and then beat last week's BN/Belmont Plateau times.

But running on a dark Thursday morning is not the same as running a half-marathon. First mile was 6:07, and I readjusted my goal to just beating last week's MLK time of 24:01, even if its by a second or two. I resolved to do it patiently, cutting off a surplus second or two with each marked half-mile. This worked well, and by mile 3.5 my time was 20:59, meaning I just needed to hold pace for the final half mile. I was confident I would, and thought I did, until the split time read 24:04. Totally took me by surprise.

Now this is a nicely marked, fairly flat 4 miles that lends itself well to running tempo. The next portion, about 2.6 miles, requires a much different type of running. First it requires a quick transition. The previous 4 tempo miles end and then, inevitably slowing down a bit but not breaking stride, it requires an abrupt left turn up a hill - part recovery, part hill-climb, and part awareness that the clock is still ticking.

I gmapped just the BN-Belmont Plateau part of this course here, complete with the elevation map. The first 1.3 miles, up to the Bloody Nipple summit, is about a 200 foot climb, with most of this elevation coming in the first 3/4 mile. The idea here is to keep tempo effort. Having missed my time goal for the MLK segment, it was hard to get in a competitive frame of mind for this part. I resolved to be happy with anything under 9 minutes. As luck would have it I crested the summit in 9:01 (8:54 last week).

The last part is a fairly protracted downhill and then about an equal uphill for another 1.3 miles. Here there is true recovery on the downhill, all while reverting to tempo pace, and then just going as fast as I can at the end. By this point I said I'd be happy with sub 17 (inclusive of the BN portion), and I finished in 16:46 (compare to last week's 16:24).

Disappointing but, in the big picture, about the same effort this week, on tired legs, as last week on much fresher legs. My tempo pace looks to have plateaued here, so to speak, we'll see what happens next week.

Did much of this in the dark again. Its hard to adjust to this, as all winter it feels like I've been working for this extra daylight, and now its taken away again. Temps were in the 30s, and unlikely to get much colder anymore; I guess that is something the Man can't take away from us like he does the early sunlight.

13.5 in 1:42:21. Now excuse me while I go stretch.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Its hard to soar with eagles when you run with turkeys. More on that in a minute.

This morning's run was a slog. Nothing major went wrong, just alot of little things. Primary among them is the damn daylight savings time. I had an 8:00 appointment (more on that in a minute) so I had to leave early to get in my planned 12.5 miles. This meant leaving the house at 5:30, and it was pitch black. Like it was January again.

It was still dark when I got to Tinicum refuge, which of course has no streetlights. It wasn't until two miles in that it got light enough so that I didn't have to keep keep it slow while riveting my eyes on the path. By that time I became aware of Spring around me. Odd ducks were all around, suggesting they might be migrating. The bunnies were out in masses, with their little white tails bobbing up and down in the breaking light. Larger white markers announced deer jumping off into the woods. And then I heard a loud gobble and looked up to see a large turkey perched in a tree.

It surprises and amazes me how Tinicum continues to surprise and amaze me.

Otherwise my run included rain showers, wrestling with traffic, and an overall feckless feeling. Just lacked any drive to put anything into the run and various interruptions along the way exacerbated this. 12.5 miles in 1:51:43.

My appointment this morning was with Maureen, my physical therapist. I had written a few weeks back, in conjunction with overuse pain in my legs, of my resolution to see her. To wrap up an hour appointment into a few sentences, my ankle is in good shape but still not 100%, I do have low grade post-tibular tendonitis, which can run up the calf and turn into medial shin splints. That sounds worse than it is however, as it is very low grade. The treatment? Stretching. At this point in my training Maureen said I don't want to change things a whole lot, I want to avoid strength training, and just want to do regular low grade calf stretches. She even showed me a yoga move called the downward-facing dog. Oh yeah, and ice is my friend.

My log says I have now put in 736 miles in 2008. This means that if I don't run another mile this year, I'll still have averaged running 2 miles a day.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

5k on the Installment Plan

Tuesday. A.k.a. track day. I was tempted to do Joseph's half-life workout from a few weeks back but settled on 5 x 1000 meters (400m recovery) at 5k pace. In other words, 5000 meters on the installment plan.

I'm running this to prep for Saturday's Adrenaline 5k. My training has been ill-suited for something that short, and I'm running it mostly for the club, as its a Grand Prix race, and to see what it feels like to get whupped by Tom. My goal for the race is to break 17 minutes, mainly to reassure myself that I still can.

That being said, I figured I'd better get some feeling of what its like to run a sub-17 pace. So I set my goal for the 1000m reps to be 3:21, on pace for a 16:45. Knowing that was a bit ambitious, I said I would settle for anything in which the sum of the reps was less than 17 minutes.

Reps went by in 3:23; 3:21; 3:21; 3:22; 3:25. These were hard, as they called for about a 2:40 800 (faster than I've gone sofar) with an extra 200 tacked on. I'd typically be on pace for the first 400, have trouble maintaining concentration for the 2nd 400, and then hammering it for that extra 200. As the workout went on, the hammers got progressively feebler.

But adding them up gives me 16:52. I'll take that. Experience tells me that the time will be a poor prognosticator - racing conditions are very different than running alone on a track. I felt today like I feel when I do marathon pace workouts; where its hard to imagine putting forth that kind of effort over the full length of a race. But it never comes down to that.

Ultimately I got just what I came out to get, the feeling of what its like to hang at sub 17. 9 miles or so total, 77:03 elapsed time.


Ran 4 miles in the evening, untimed, on same loop as I ran on Monday.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Why I Run in the Morning

Day after a half marathon and second day of daylight savings. Not a good combination. Strike 3 were last minute scratches by Deirdre and Erin, leaving me to run alone. I was already running late with little enthusiasm and tired legs, so I ran a very slow four miles down to Franklin Field and back up to 49th St. Left the watch at home. Nuff said.

I resolved to put in some more miles this evening. But first I had to get my taxes done. My accountant can whup your accountant in any distance 800 meters and longer. Chuck Shields can also pull some great deductions out of his running shoes, and set me up with a nice refund. Keith Davies, a buddy of Chuck's and a fellow member of the XC team that won 3rd place in USATF Masters Nationals, also dropped by and we spent more time looking at pictures and shooting the shit.

I never had as much fun doing taxes but when I left it was later than I thought and I bagged my evening run. That's why I don't work out in the afternoons, just too much stuff gets in the way.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

C Rod Half

Cesar Rodney. A man who rode 80 miles through a thunderstorm to cast the vote that led Delaware to ratify the Declaration of Independence. And for that he gets a half marathon named after him. At least its not an ultra.

The thunderstorms were so yesterday. Today it was cold and wind. Lots of wind.

I said last week that I wanted to get a 1:17. Last Sunday's 10k predicted a 1:18, but there seems to be a big difference between the two, and it gave me something to shoot for. I've run as fast as 1:15 in this race, but for once I was realistic.

Lots of friends at this race. Seven of us - me, Chris, Matt, Steve K, Craig, Ryan and Devon - came as The Evil Killer Bunnies of Death, a team that, in one incarnation or another, has won the team title in this race for the past three years. I was also running for Phila Athletic Charities in the Mid-Atlantic USATF Grand Prix competition, and we had a good turnout for that as well.

And Reba - West Philly's lone ninja - came out to provide support, expert photography, and extra security.

Cesar Rodney is probably the race I have run most in my ever lengthening addiction. This is either time number eight or nine. In prep for this running I decided to draw on this wealth of experience. So I fished into the archives for my past race performances, with split times, to map out a strategy. I was expecting to come up with some complex strategy, but in looking at these times realized that if I ran the first 10 in under 60, I'd finish in under 1:18. Just shoot for a sub 6 pace for ten and then take off for the final 5k, which are almost straight downhill except for the last .1 mile, which is a tough uphill.

Just before the race I met up with Matt and we decided that our target pace was similar enough to where we should work together.

Mile 1, which was a steady downhill, was easy in 5:54 and I knew that, rather than worry about being able to hang on, I'd have to concentrate on not going out too fast.

Miles 2 & 3 went by in 11:49 (missed the mile 2 split). Still felt easy and me and Matt fell in with about four other guys. At one point Matt pulled ahead a bit and I made the decision to stay with him, the difference between consciously working together and simply working with someone near you out of convenience. I hoped speeding up wouldn't bite me in the posterior later.

Miles 4-6 and we established a groove. 5:52, 6:00 and 5:52. We overtook a few and lost a few, keeping a group of about 5 together.

Mile 7 started the infamous Rockford Park hills. This is a 2-mile long steady uphill segment that is the crux of this race. Run it right and you will do well. This year doing so was made a bit more challenging by the wind (remember the wind?), which blew down and into our face. Our little group did well to take turns on point duty. Matt was particularly conscious of getting in front of me, the problem is that I never get much out of drafting off folks, probably because of my body size, so I just stayed abreast of him. About two-thirds of the way up the hill we reel in the lead and second place females. I missed the mile 7 mark, which is just as well as the hill is best taken as a unit. Mile 7 & 8 pass in 12:27. The hills were over and, even after this withdrawal from the time bank, we were still at an overall sub 6 pace. This boded well.

Now the course flattens and I pick it up. It feels like I drop the group and mile 9 passes in 6:01. However Matt is still with me and we resume working together. Me and him now. Mile 10 goes by in 5:53. Total time here is 59:48.

This part of the course is now miles 7 & 8 in reverse, and screams downhill with a tailwind. Years past I would just fly down this hill, but doing so was painful today. Mile 11 is in 5:40, I'm pleasantly surprised I'm going that fast and worried about my ability to sustain it. Matt starts pulling away from me here and I can't answer him. I hold pace as mile 12 goes by in 5:39.

Mile 13 flattens out again and I'm hanging on, dreading that last tenth of a mile before the finish. One guy, with a Runaway Success shirt who was part of our earlier pack, passes me just before the final turn. Then its the uphill and the wind, swirling full-force in my face, made me forget about the interloper. The uphill finish is hard, this wind made it ridiculous. My legs shut down with about 100 feet to go, they had nothing left in them. Last 0.1 miles took 43 seconds. It didn't matter. I cross the line in 1:17:37 - 16th place overall.

If the race was 13.2 miles long I likely would have lost a place or two, as two people finished right behind me. Never was aware they were on my tail. My finish got me 5th place in my age group. That means that 5 of the first 16 finishers were Masters (and Matt is 39). Although I came away shwag-less, I love that showing. TEKBOD won first place in the team competition handily, with Chris winning the race outright, me and Matt, and then Steve and Craig (both low 1:20s) rounding out the scoring five, with Ryan and Devon (both low 1:30's) also running well. Steve and Ryan both pr'd - very impressive under these conditions. Not sure how PAC did in the Grand Prix, stay tuned. Mike ran 1:30 something and was happy with his time. I've often seen him run well, this was one of the few times I've seen him happy with his performance. Deirdre and Erin, who rode up with me, were part of the female champion Bunny Crusher team, and were third fastest out of any of the teams, regardless of category.

Reba's support was much appreciated, and she gets the photo credits, as well as credit for freezing her cute butt off on abbreviated sleep this morning. And Wilmington had respect for the lone ninja - there were no security incidents. The pics are of me just before the finish (proof that I left everything I had on that course) and of the now four-time Cesar Rodney team champion TEKBOD. Should make Ian proud.

And finally, like Mike, I am happy too. Not much that I would have (and could have) done differently today. I'm still getting faster and feel like I'm on schedule to peak at Boston.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Slow Train Coming

Just looking to get in a few easy miles in preparation for tomorrow's half marathon.

Its been raining hard all day here, and at about 3 there was a break in the clouds. I carped the diem and laced up my shoes. It felt good to be out of the house and into the warm wet air. Apparently I wasn't the only one, as lots of cars seemed to be pulling out of parking spots and people coming out of houses and onto sidewalks.

Cobbs Creek was overflowing and got to about a meter of the path. The current was fast and angry-looking.

In contrast, I felt light-hearted as I made my way around West Philly. Enjoyed a tailwind on the way back and the rain resumed with about a mile to go. I got lost in mapping out strategy for tomorrow. Start slow and pick up momentum, like a train.

Vince got it right. All my body wants right now is more miles. Six today, in 48:10, was barely a taste for the monkey, but its gonna have to tide him over till tomorrow. After that its one last push through March.

Friday, March 07, 2008

I Was Just Gonna Hit Him...

but I'm gonna kill him now. ~Ryan Adams

Getting pumped for Cesar Rodney.

Recovery run today. Took it out slow until I hit the Schuylkill bike path, when fate had me cross paths with Veena. Got her company for about a mile, but at the cost of ramping up my leisurely pace. Veena was getting one last run in before leaving for Jacksonville and the Gate River 15k, the US 15k championships, this Sunday. Good luck.

Fell back into my previous sorry-ass pace after she continued down the Drives and I headed back to West Philly. At 6:30 sharp I made it to Erin's house, and her, Jody and I ran another 3 or so, all while lionizing Richard Nixon as the savior of the environment. Long story.

9 miles in 79:43 on this route.

Thursday, March 06, 2008


Joseph has a good little write up of his tempo run from a few days ago which featured an original twist in it, and which was written so that after reading it it made me feel like going out to do the workout. Its not the first time he's written a workout in that style, and someday I will go out and do one of his workouts.

My tempo workouts are not replicable as they tend to evolve to fit the particular course that I run. Once I get a course down I'll repeat it through the training cycle and gauge my progress by the speed with which I'm able to take the tempo segments. I generally take these workouts like an officer with orders to take a hill - charge it in a serious, almost life or death manner.

Today things felt more lighthearted, perhaps thanks to Joseph, perhaps thanks to a feeling of confidence that I could parlay last Sunday's 10k effort into a sub 6-minute tempo pace. The workout felt more like a game with a high score to beat.

Up at 4:30, out the door a little after 5. Got to MLK and took off. First mile in 6:02, pace felt easier than Sunday, which is what I went with. Mile 2 in 5:59. Then I fell asleep in mile 3 with a 6:09 and, jolted by this, picked things up a bit to finish out four miles in 24:01. Broke 9 minutes for the first time this year running up the Bloody Nipple (8:54) en route to hitting Belmont Plateau in 16:24.

So I got my tempo pace down to 6 flat this morning. That's big psychologically, but I still want to get it down further. I looked through my old logs and see that the effort I did this morning puts me about where I was at in October 2006. I then ran some amazingly fast BN workouts in November of that year, culminating with this workout. Dunno if I'll be able to get down there again.

But for today I'm happy, and now look forward to Sunday, Cesar Rodney, and the Evil Killer Bunnies of Death.

13.5 miles on the usual BN course in 1:41:10.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


Alarm went off at 4:30 in anticipation of getting some serious running in this morning. Once the alarm got shushed the beating of rain against the house became apparent. Hard rain. This would not be conducive to tempo running. Went back to sleep.

Woke up again at 5:30. Silence. Rain stopped. Shit. Had I taken off as planned, I would be just about at MLK now. But who knew? So I concentrated on what I could do something about. And its better to at least put some miles in the log than to take a DNF.

I did a repeat of yesterday’s workout – out to Cobbs Creek and back down Thomas Ave. Weather was still balmy, but wetter and cloudier. Five miles, again run in 43 minutes and change. This got me back just in time to shower and take Tony to school.

I saw three individual runners on the Cobbs Creek trail. That’s unusual.

I’ll go tempo tomorrow morning. Sometimes there are second chances.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Almost Spring

Beautiful morning for running... or almost anything else. Didn't do much with it except jog easy down to Cobbs Creek and come back via Thomas Ave. Just happy to be leaving in the daylight in a short-sleeve shirt.

Five in about 42:30 on this route.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Lamest Route Ever

Easy morning after a weekend that was hard on the legs. Met Erin and Jody, and Erin proposed a route she called the "lamest ever" - basically going around the neighborhood and sticking close to home in case she needed to cut short the run due to a blister she was nursing. Lame sounded good to me, and this route is what resulted. When we got to 48th St. and Erin said she had enough, I wasn't in a mood to get any more in by myself.

Its a good consolation to have company on days that you don't want to run hard. Then instead of wondering whether these were junk miles or not, I appreciate the externalities of running. This morning had the air of hanging out in a coffee shop, minus spending $4 on a latte and with an ever changing view.

5.7 miles in 50.43.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

NE Roadrunners 10k

Planned a hard weekend for myself and then a guilt-free taper into next Sunday's Cesar Rodney half-marathon.

Yesterday was a 17 miler with the middle 8 (on the Drives) at marathon pace. I hooked up with the Philly Runners at the Art Museum, where I ran three miles up MLK with Chris until he went up the Strawberry Mansion Bridge and I kept on going up along the river. Chris set me on a 6:30 pace into the legendary river wind so that I got to Falls River Bridge (4 miles) in 25:58. Ran back down Kelly with a tailwind (at least in theory) for another four in 24:54. Jogged the rest, total time 2:10:19 for 17.4 miles.

Then, on a fairly spur-of-the-moment decision, I ran the NERR 10k this morning. I always take this race in the spirit of the Spring Training baseball games that are starting up about now. In years past, this has been a coming out race of sorts, an event to see lots of runners who race the local circuit who I had not seen since the previous fall. There were a few folks like that out this morning, but Reba and I mostly hung out with John and Heather, the only folks I knew real well who were running.

I also used this race as a dress rehearsal for next week, to get a better idea of what kind of racing shape I was in. When the gun went off, I quickly and easily moved up to the front, running with a kid whom I didn't know. We were running into the maws of the river headwind, but I felt strong. First mile went by in 5:40 and I knew I was in as good a shape as I'd dare hope. Me and the kid continued working together as mile 2 went by in 5:47, and mile 3 in 5:39. At this point I start to feel the fork, and start shifting to hang on mode. I figure I'd stick with the kid as long as possible, knowing if he throws in a surge I won't answer.

Since the race is an out and back along Kelly Drive, the 0.2 miles is in the middle, and passes in 77 seconds. Now the headwind we'd been fighting is mostly tailwind. Mile 4 (i.e. 2 miles to go) goes by in 5:30, and soon after that the kid starts speeding up and I let him go. The tailwind helps me keep pace, and I cruise the last two miles in 5:43 and 5:41. Finishing time is 35:18, good enough to be bridesmaid. John finishes third, with a pr effort just under 37.

I'm very happy with this time and feel fortunate that I had someone to work with for most of the race. The kid turned out to be Ned Cunningham, a high school senior who Paul Hines coaches at Chestnut Hill Academy. Nice guy, first 10k he's run. Just for today, youth and idealism beat out old age and treachery.

All that running this week, including the race, the marathon pace workout yesterday, and the track workout earlier this week puts me training at a level for about a 2:45 marathon, with the feeling that I have a bit of speed still to gain before Boston. But more immediately, it predicts a 1:18 for next week's effort. I'll be shooting for something faster than that, however, hoping that an easy week will put a little additional pep into my legs. Stay tuned.

10 miles total today, 70 for the week.