Seebo's Run

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

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Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Friday, October 31, 2008

And Its Friday Again

Don't blog as regular as I used to.

Lots has happened over this week. Most prominently, we now have a World Series winning baseball team. We are all pretty happy about that. Tony and I played hooky to watch the parade this afternoon.

Hopefully we'll have something to rejoice about next week as well - a win that will matter a bit more and that we can share with the rest of the country.

But I digress. I ran an Acme loop this morning. Interesting experiment. I ran it a week ago Tuesday in 88 minutes, ran it today in 83 minutes (82:53 to be exact). Only difference in the two runs was that Deirdre was with me this morning.

It doesn't get light until 7 now. That will change again next week, but for this week it meant I had to get my winter loops out for Tinicum. Yesterday I ran 10.5 91:20) on this route that took me through Tinicum just as the the sun was rising over Darby Lake. Not only was it beautiful, but it also told me that I didn't want to get up any earlier, as there are no lights on the paths there. On Wednesday I ran a 5 mile Tinicum Township loop (untimed). Tuesday was more of the awful cold rain and wind that wreaked havoc with the first part of Game 5 (in other words, a DNR), and Monday was a mellow 3.5 mile Cobbs Creek loop.

All caught up now. Hanging in there. Still visualizing when my running and my blogging will both be regular again. It'll happen, but I'm not pushing things.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Loud and Stompy

Thats how I felt this morning. For some reason my footfalls really came down hard.

No big run this morning. I had to be back by 6:45 to be ready to drive Tony to school and, had I been in training, might have gotten up at the inordinately early hour required to get in a longer run. Instead I got out the door at 6 (still very early) and ran a quick 3.5 miler out to Cobbs Creek and back down Cedar Ave. It was still dark when I finished it. I guess next weekend is when we set the clocks back. The run was untimed.

Missed Sunday's run, I'm blaming it on the Phillies. It was 2 a.m. before the game was over and I finally got to bed. This started a chain reaction, as I couldn't get up early enough to get a run in and then shuttle kids and do other important stuff. Fortunately the Phillies won so missing the run didn't feel so bad. Read Reba's blog, she went to bed early and thus got her Sunday run in.

If the Phillies win the Series tonight (a big 'if', but definitely plausible), look for them to be my excuse for missing tomorrow morning's run as well.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Run On

I don't remember ever being as afraid to go on a run as I was this morning. However, I gathered the intestinal fortitude, in several respects, to go out and run. The result was favorable but mundane as I ran a Franklin Field loop in mild, drizzly conditions. Mainly looking to stay close to home in case the tummy started to rumble and to see how I felt otherwise. Felt fine and unless things go south today I'll go longer tomorrow. 3.5 miles untimed.

I caught up on several months of Ian's new blog yesterday afternoon. I know he checks in here so I'll save myself an email and wish him all the best for next weekend's NYC marathon. It took me about 3 minutes to catch up because he has taken to writing twitter-style, one-sentence entries about his runs. There is a certain rhythm in reading weeks of that, stripped of the thoughts and observations and self-indulgence that characterize blogs with longer entries, such as this one.

Gets me wondering if I should follow suit. It would save me alot of time, and perhaps keep me more regular, if I could write just one or two sentence a day. It would surely save my readers some time as well. But (and you knew this was coming) I've decided to keep going the way I've been going. And the reason for that is the same reason I started writing this blog almost four years ago. I started writing this because I looked at my old running logs and looked at workout after workout that I didn't remember a single detail about. Not just workouts like this one, which is eminently forgettable, but longer runs, runs with friends, runs in exotic places, etc. I wanted to use this space to color in the how long and how fast with some qualitative details. And as its been months since I've run with any kind of a training goal lying ahead of me, those details have become all the more important.

If readers can get something out of that, and a small groups of you seem to, then I'm happy to share that. But the main reason I do this is to hang on to my runs, in the paraphrase of Plato's statement that the unexamined run is not worth running.

So thats why I blog, now if I can just figure out why I run.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Runs

Last post was Monday, and suddenly its Friday already.

I ran on Tuesday, which is now ancient history but I'll give a quick recap anyway. Did a 10-mile Acme loop early in what is now distinctively fall weather. I'm not sure, but I suspect that the clocks get set back this weekend, which will give a little more daylight in the mornings for a little while longer. That is the downside of fall, the knowledge of winter impending. Otherwise, usual feelings of revisiting a loop somewhat neglected recently, feelings that I can elaborate on in some future post when these thoughts are fresher. 10+ miles in a relatively slow 88:25.

Since then I've been down with a nasty stomach bug. Started coming on Tuesday evening, body aches and digestive problems have since limited my running to making regular dashes to the bathroom. I feel better today but still do not dare put myself that far from a toilet. My head rebels at the down time, but its probably better to get the rest and there is really no significant advantage to be gained right now by my training through it.

Just another turn on a bumpy journey this fall.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Weekend Warrior

Took the day off. Not because I had to or I wanted to but because I think its best I do.

Wanted to have mileage in the 40s for last week, ended up logging 54. This overshooting of my target was due to my running 8 on Saturday and then another 14+ yesterday. Deirdre and I went up to Manayunk to meet up with John Dubs on a route that he set up taking us up Forbidden Drive and back through Northwest Philly.

The loop first went through the beautiful and then into the unfamiliar. Forbidden Drive had a fall chill to it as well as a deepening fall palette of foliage. It was also a who's who of local running, with runners from Philly Track Club, the newly rechristened Greater Philly Track Club, Bryn Mawr folks and even some South Jersey folks out there. The November marathons are coming up, and doubtlessly many of these folks were running long in anticipation of a rapidly approaching taper. I feel their excitement, as far as I can tell I feel okay that I am not partaking this year.

Once we hit Northwestern Ave it was up the long G'town Ave hill and into Chestnut Hill, Mount Airy, Roxborough and Manayunk. It doesn't take long here for me to get totally turned around, but this is John's turf and he guided us through. The hills and the mileage from the previous week made for some hurting legs, but the conversation proved a pleasant distraction.

And then we were done. Very much like old times. John's around next week and so am I, hopefully we'll do it again. 14+ miles in 1:56:44.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Runaround Saturday

What else is new. Usual running errands and going in various directions.

But it started quiet. Got up early and shared coffee with Reba, and then read the NY Times until about 9, which gave me plenty of time to head over to the Art Museum. This wasn't for the sake of the running, but for the sake of re-establishing social ties. Philly Runners was already gathering when I got there, and I felt like a part of the "older" generation, with the crowd consisting mostly of people I didn't know. There were a few folks I reconnected with and also got introduced to a few new folks and ran down MLK Drive, closed for one of the last weekends this year.

About two miles in Deirdre suggested we turn up to Belmont Plateau and take the fire road up to Ford Road, where we could cross Strawberry Mansion Bridge and go around the reservoir, over Lemon Hill and back to the Art Museum (too lazy to map it). This is a great loop, about as long as the Drives and all prettied up with fall foliage. Deirdre and I were the only takers, so we chatted and ran back around to the AM. And I feel like I've been running ever since.

I wrote a friend of mine yesterday, who had run the Chicago Marathon. I didn't realize how hot this year's conditions were. But in the email, explaining my racing season (or lack thereof), I wrote how there was another step, beyond recovery from an injury, that has to occur when you resume running. This is the process of getting back into the rhythm of things, where running becomes like it used to be. This doesn't just happen when you feel better again. And its frustrating because you are unaware of this process, I'll call it re-entry (as opposed to recovery), that has to occur. And it has occurred when you get up and automatically reach for your running shoes, when you're back to hooking up with others, where you again start thinking about future goals, etc. No formula I know of for reaching that point, but when you have reached reentry you know it. And I feel like I'm back there.

Nowhere in the now-voluminous running literature have I seen this mentioned.

Running is fun again. I feel in shape again. And its a beautiful time of year.

Call it 8.5 miles in 69:34.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Fridays are the hardest days to get up and run. But getting out is usually worth it.

Started out as usual - slow, stiff and creaky. The latter two eventually went away, the slow never did. Easy run around the lower Tinicum loop, the slow pace let me take in more of the most beautiful run of the year. Crisp, bright sunlight, emerging fall colors, and lots of waterfowl. The familiar markers along the loop took their time coming and I barely noticed. At one point I spontaneously stopped to look out onto Darby Creek and then let out a yell.

4.5 miles, untimed.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


I am teaching this evening, so I didn't have to get out so early this morning. Nonetheless, I'm running (sic) a bit behind schedule, so I'll make this quicker than a Tinicum bunny this morning.

Took off west this morning out to Cobbs Creek and back in on Woodland Ave. Run went fine until I turned left off 70th St. and the Scud Mtn. Boys' song "Silo" came on just as I faced the long Woodland straightaway back home. Everything clicked and came together and I cruised down the avenue. Around 60th St. the sun came out and I really started to sweat. Hit repeat on Silo three times. Got home and all felt right with the world.

Now back to reality. 8+ miles in 66:45.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Sunrise and Moonset

Ran the lower part of the Tinicum figure 8 this morning. 4.5 miles as I figure it. Ran as it got light, meaning I got rewarded by my efforts by a beautiful sunrise, and also got to see the full moon setting. Egrets and bunnies galore. Untimed and slow.

I went to a lecture this morning over at Penn by Michael Katz, a well known urban historian on the faculty there. The topic of the talk was an article that came out of his experience as a juror, and he followed that case both for the details of the particular court case and the larger urban context. When I read the article I remember thinking that this kind of thing is what I'd like to write - taking something close at hand and probing deeper into it. My mind wandered a bit during today's talk about the places my daily running has taken me and how I could fit that into a larger narrative.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Sweetbriar loop was on tap for this morning. Haven't run on the Schuylkill bike path since July. Made me realize how much that route has become programmed into my dna in the 10+ years I've been running around there. Taking that route brings me all the warm fuzzy feelings of familiarity. There was a beautiful sunrise. It was good to be back.

Not having any races on the agenda forced me to acknowledge how much, even when I'm training for something on the distant horizon, its the day to day running that is the end in itself.

I just basked in this for most of the run. The renewed newness will wear off, my love of being out running in the early morning will not. It just will be more apparent on some mornings than others. So what I have got today is a picture of sorts, one that I'll carry with me and look at once October has passed and it is January and cold and dark and I wonder what I am doing running that river loop one more time. I'll see this morning, with its beautiful sunrise, and I'll smile.

Might sound corny, but it works.

8+ miles, 70:49.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Four days and three runs since I've blogged. Busy weekend.

Friday I took the day off. Didn't feel like I needed to but felt like I should. That puts me out of sorts. But I did do some cross training in that I cycled down to Citizens Bank Park that evening to watch the Phillies and the Dodgers in the second game of the NLCS. Its a nice feeling to scoot through all the traffic and get a close, free parking spot. But not like the feeling that comes with a Phillies win.

Saturday was a long run of sorts, did a Tenicum. Ten miles is the longest I've run since July. Felt so-so, weather was very warm and the sun was bright on colors just starting to turn. Wildlife highlight was a well picked over turkey carcass in the wooded part of the course. Last five miles went down in 39:39, showing that there is still some life left in this old turkey carcass. 10+ miles in 87:17.

Yesterday I was in Virginia at my sisters. Took it out to the track a few blocks from her house and did a progression run. Five 1600 meter splits in 9:02; 8:22; 7:58; 7:26; 6:54. Felt good, in a minimized expectations sort of way, to get the last split under 7. Total time was 39:42. This gave me 38 miles for the week.

And I just got back this morning from running a short figure 8 in Tinicum. Got out the door just as the first daylight was hitting, which is about 6:40 these days. Stayed on the better-trodden boring part and then, when things were better lit, went back on the more precarious car-wash part. Car-wash lived up to its name, with dew-laden underbrush giving my legs a cold washing. I rousted up a few members of the Tinicum Track Club, but they all dodged into the undergrowth instead of running with me. The morning felt more like the egrets I spooked, who flew away on large white noiselessly flapping wings. I juggled external beauty and internal thoughts, never really balancing the two. The run felt stronger as it progressed, and the last mile home was strong. 6.5 miles, untimed.

I started going back in my running log and filling in workouts from days I was too dispirited to make entries. While I kept blogging, albeit haphazardly, I completely stopped keeping up with my running log after the Bryn Mawr workout in late July fried my Achilles tendons. Going back now feels therapeutic, like I'm revisiting and coming to terms. I don't want to get too melodramatic here, there is no trauma involved. It feels more like I'm restoring continuity, in starting things up again now I feel that I am ready to connect back to where I was.

Thursday, October 09, 2008


Dropped off M at 30th St Station early this morning and went the extra mile out to Lloyd Hall. Mild, humid morning after last night's rain. Ran a loop around the Drives.

This was a run. I brought my watch along to get a gauge of how things were going. First four miles (Kelly Drive) went by in 32:55; second four (MLK Drive) in 30:36. Not any kind of land speed record but that wasn't the point. Todays run was a regular run - I slapped on my iPod (Scud Mtn. Boys and Old Crow Medicine Show) and set out to do 8 at a comfortable pace. And it happened, more or less effortlessly and painlessly. Based on that I can say, for at least the second and maybe the third time this year, that I'm back. Now comes the hard part, staying back. 8 miles today.

I'm a day late in writing about this but want to debunk the belief that running does not love you back. Two years ago yesterday was the Delaware Distance Classic, a 15k race at which Reba and I met. The best thing that I ever got from running. The race is long finished but our run continues, with a finish line that is nowhere in sight.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

no title

Another beautiful morning to run. Just Jody and I this morning. Topics of college tuition, last night's debate, and Jody's upcoming marathon left a wake of yap all through West Philly. Pace was brisk but comfortable, to where I again felt like I was running. People ask how the running is going and I tell them its going good. 7+ miles this morning, still untimed.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Cornfields to Brownfields

I'm back home. Long trip, got various things to catch up on tonight before the debates.

Got in a run before taking off from Grinnell at 8 this morning. Nice but uneventful run that made a nice quadrilateral. The noteworthy thing about this run is that it happened. One thing about the country is that its dark. Less streetlights and less light from other stuff. I didn't want to run in the dark; just didn't feel safe. By the time it started getting light, I decided to squeeze in the run anyway when logic said it would be a good day to rest. When my thinking and my running are at odds like that, its a sign that I'm back on the horse.

Just under 3 miles, untimed.

Monday, October 06, 2008


Greetings from Iowa. I'm spending a long weekend in Grinnell with my daughter, as she is visiting my alma mater and will likely apply here.

For me it amounts to a strange confluence of past and future. I am making the rounds with her on her visit today. Since I graduated in 1986 much has changed but much is also surprisingly unchanged. Walking into the library, for example, felt much like it did 22 years ago, right down to the same clocks on the wall that seemed to lend an oppressive urgency to whatever work was called for back then. Many of the memories are triggered by the details, either what's stayed the same or what is now conspicuous in its absence. I tell M these little stories as I remember them, so she gets an annotated version of the official campus tour. But I won't do that here.

Running is wonderful out here. I'm staying with an old friend and any direction I want to go I just head out and after a mile or two the roads peter out and I'm in cornfields. Yesterday I went through the neighborhoods around the college, with the old houses that I always imagined all the professors lived in. Then I took my an initial pass through and around the college. Today I headed south on little traveled roads through the cornfields. The corn was high and oncoming drivers in pickup trucks gave me one-fingered waves from hands that never left their steering wheels.

Four miles yesterday and five miles today. I'm not timing these runs as much as setting a time where I have to be back and then filling in the remaining minutes with footstrikes. I'll be back home tomorrow.

Friday, October 03, 2008

I'm Alive

"Steve, you're alive!" were the first words Deirdre greeted me with this morning. Well, I guess it had been awhile.

Club West Philly was out in full force this morning. We took a pasta loop and I had the same sluggishness that I had been feeling. When we got to 33rd and Chestnut, however, Deirdre and I were catching up and unconsciously pulling ahead of Erin, Jody & Iris. When we got up to 40th Street we had lost them and going at a pretty good clip, yapping away. Got to catch up a bit, got to rant a bit, and got to marvel at how strong I felt. At 49th we extended it to 54th St., then took it south farther than usual to Warrington, and went back down to 43rd before turning around and calling it a day. One of those runs that I didn't want to end. It's been a long time.

End result is I feel on top of my running this morning. I also went to my physical therapy appt, where the obvious was determined, that my back is recovered. We worked on stretching exercises, and perhaps this old dog can be taught a few tricks. But it will take alot of cookies.

7.8 miles, untimed.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Calves of Clay

Two days in a row! Keep those expectations low.

Did a usual Franklin Field loop today except that I went south on 38th St/University Ave for a bit and turned in at the Chiller Plant so I could refuel my coolness. From there ran on a service road along I76 and popped back up on South St. Route is here.

My cardio felt fine, my breathing was easy. But my calves, up and down, felt weak. Its like the top half of my body is saying, "Come on, let's kick it" and the legs are not up to it. Its like my legs need Viagra.

I'm not complaining. Yet. Just happy to work on getting out there every day for the second straight day. My performance issues may be weakness or just stiffness. For an experiment I hammered the last two blocks and that was not a problem.

4 miles, untimed.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Baby Steps

Is anybody still checking in on this blog?

When I last checked in, about a week ago, I was on my way to see a physical therapist about back pain I got as a result of a bicycle accident. My back started getting better even before I made it out to the PT (figures) and after the PT prodded and wrenched and did other stuff that PTs do, he diagnosed my pain, by then very low-grade, as a lumbar strain. In other words, something that would get better all by itself. Still, it was reassuring to hear that the pain was all muscular.

The other reason I went to the PT was to get an authoritative opinion on when to start running again without aggravating this strain. He said come back on Friday (day after tomorrow) and he can assess my running on the treadmill. He also gave me stretching exercises to do. I also felt a pain in my left foot of the same quality and in the same place as the "pre-stress fracture" that slowed me down a month or two ago. So I decided to continue my layoff.

I didn't get around to actually doing the stretching exercises until yesterday, and I finally got up at 5:30 this morning and put my sneakers on this morning. Met Jody and Erin/Iris and ran with them for three miles down to 33rd St. and through Penn campus. I always expect after a long layoff that I'd be springing and bounding along on happy, well-rested legs but instead the legs felt sore for the first mile and just dead for the remainder.

So now its one more attempt at a recovery. There is something appealing to starting over, when I lower my expectations and then get to carp about meeting them. There is also the feeling of a blank slate, that I am at the starting line and can again do whatever I want with my running. KJ, in his running, sees it another way as he says he can now start a couch-potato-to-marathon program. Maybe I should look into that.

So its a day at a time for now. I'd like to get some mileage in every day. And blog about it afterwards.

3 miles, untimed.