Seebo's Run

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

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Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Monday, August 31, 2009

Writing, Talking, Running

Ran the Cobbs Creek-Woodland loop again today. Its become my bread and butter route of late. When I'm running solo I usually pick out routes by feel: how many miles I feel I could/should do and what kind of scenery I feel like. Recently this 8.5 mile loop seems just about right.

I tried to channel my inner Deirdre this morning and pick up the pace a bit. At odds with that was some lingering crud in my legs and achilles tendons that feel on the edge. I've had this feeling before and have had it go away, of course I've also had my share of sore achilles. So I'm playing it by feel. Anyway, my goal was to do the loop in under 70 minutes, achieved this with 30 seconds to spare.

This morning feels like fall, with temps in the 60s.

I started reading Hiruki Murakami's book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running over the weekend. I hoped this book would be a kind of road map for my taking my writing a bit deeper than just blogging about it. After the first two chapters, I'm somewhat disappointed as the chapters read a bit like long blog entries with some incredibly banal writing considering that the author is an established novelist. Maybe this has to do with the translation. I'll keep reading, and thinking about what I'd want to write if I write a book on running. That is the question that intrigues me right now, how would I do better? Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Wiser Course

One for three these last three days.

Friday I planned that day off after five days of running hard.

Yesterday was a big day. I ran a double. For the morning run I met Philly Runners at the Art Museum and went out with them. Don't know a whole lot of folks there anymore, and after a slow start caught up with one guy who was ahead of the rest of the group. We barely acknowledged each other and just ran alongside each other for most of the loop around the Drives at a pace that got as low as 6:30. After about six miles of this he started pulling ahead of me and I figured it wasn't smart to be going this fast in the first place, so I let him go. Clocked seven miles of this pissing contest at 46:30. At the Art Museum steps (i.e., one loop around) he was about 100 meters out front, and we both started a second lap around whereupon I slowed down to 7:30 for the next mile. From there I said I'd run for another hour and end up home. I did just that, getting exactly 7 miles in just about exactly an hour. It wasn't the smartest run. Where long workouts often have you go out for awhile and then downshift to faster paces, here I immediately downshifted and then hung on for the last hour. There is some value to that, I guess. And I didn't have much trouble with it, but the trouble I fear, if it comes, will come in the upcoming workouts. 16.5 miles, 2:13.

And then I had a second run yesterday. It was by far the better one. My 12 year old, Tony, announced last week that he plans to run cross country on the school team this fall. Needless to say this thrills me, but I try to temper this and not get overbearing. But I did feel like I should take him shoe shopping. So we went to Haddonfield Running Company where he got properly fitted and hooked up. And then I took him to West Deptford Park, near where his mother lives, and we ran two laps around the perimeter (2 miles total) to break the shoes in. He seemed enthusiastic and if he minded that we ran in the mid-afternoon heat he didn't complain of this. And then we worked off what fitness we may have gained with some WaWa hoagies.

I hope he sticks with it, but I try not to get my hopes up. I know that summer running is crucial for fall XC, but at his age its more about enjoying it. Its a bit late in the summer to start but any fitness now will reduce the hardships of the first practices, so I encouraged him to get about 15-20 minutes of running in each day this week. So much I want to tell him, so much would I love for him to run XC, something I never really got to do as a kid. But its not about me, and its not something I control. But I do have a run logged with my boy, and I'll hang on to that.

This morning my legs felt more beat up than they have after some races I've run. So I took the wiser course of action, which was to run no course at all.

And lastly, congratulations to John Dubs and Heather, who gave birth to Zachary John yesterday and appear to be doing well.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Weight of the World

The weight of the world was a bit heavier than usual this morning, and my legs a bit weary for the task of holding it up. Another morning where bargaining got me out the door; opening bid of a six mile Art Museum loop got me out the door, and the betting increased until I was looking at an 11 mile SMB loop with the 3 MLK miles done at a pace to be determined.

Even going down the Schuylkill bike path I could not envision myself taking the MLK miles fast. But once there speeding up came naturally, and the mile splits came in at 6:37; 12:55; and 19:11. I'll take that today.

The highlight of this run is finishing up those tempo miles and then ducking on to the Belmont fire road. Verdant, soft-surfaced, and serene... all the prerequisites for recharging mentally and physically. Then its through the horticultural center and back home.

11 miles in 93:12.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cheese Stands Alone

Ever get hung over and swear off drinking. It's perfectly rational, there is just no reason to drink, especially when you wake up the next morning feeling that bad.

You can see where this is heading. I didn't feel awful this morning, just saw no reason to run. But I was meeting Deirdre at 6:30, so I'll just do a couple of miles. And with that the bargaining begun. By the time we got to Cobbs Creek and Cedar Avenue was coming up, I suggested we keep going south/west. Deirdre had a tight calf but agreed and we kept heading out until we ended up on Woodland. By then we are at the point of no return at an 8.5 mile loop. And we are on another bender.

And nothing changes.

Well, what's changing is that Deirdre plans to move out of the city in September. A good opportunity for her but one less running partner for me. And running with Erin and John Dubs both have become precarious propositions due to impending additions to their families. And the cheese suddenly stands alone.

To show what a difference running with Deirdre makes, Monday I ran a slightly shorter version of this loop in 71 minutes, today 8.5 miles clocked in at 63:45. No tempo or pissing contests or anything, she just runs her regular runs at a faster clip and I just adjust. For another month.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Here We Go Again

Beautiful morning, the kind where you sweat but you don't drip.

Headed out to the 58th St. track. My training has been going well enough lately so that I may as well bring it out to the track again. Its starting to feel like a cycle. On the upswing, and then either some travel or some little injury will shut it down again. But I'm doing the same thing, again, and hoping for something different to happen.

First time back on the track is always a reconnaissance. See what kind of pace I got. So I figured 1x5000, just going by feel. After the obligatory warm up strides it went, by 1600 split, 6:14; 12:20; and 18:28, with the whole 5000 finishing in 19:12. Good enough to pace John Dubs for a few miles at PDR, better than I thought I had in me.

I then took the long way home. For once I was in no hurry to get home, my legs didn't feel particularly beat up either. Just enjoyed running through Southwest Philly as it got along its way on another Tuesday morning.

9 miles, 74:10.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Fox Hunt

I have internet problems at home so have been unable to post over the weekend. Sneaking away a few moments at work to do this.

By way of catching up:

Thursday - 5.5 miles, untimed on Warrington loop.
Friday - 9 miles in exactly 70 minutes on an improvised loop through Fairmount Park.
Saturday - dnr, couldn't plan a run around the rain.
Sunday - 16.8 miles in 2:16 on this route with John Dubs. Click here for his summary, run felt good and strong. I'm getting in a racing frame of mind again.

Legs felt great this morning despite yesterday's effort and yesterday's night out. Reba and I went to a house concert at the "Beach House" in Lansdowne featuring two acts: banjoist/singer/songwriter Chelsea McBee and the string band Fox Hunt. $15 cover, bring your own, and then sit in Bob's living room with about 20 other folks and listen to one of the best shows I've been to in awhile. Both bands were very good and the vibe between them and the audience was great. Liked it so much that Reba and I cds from both acts, and I took Fox Hunt with me on this morning's run. Compare them, roughly, to Old Crow Medicine show, not only for the type of music they play but also for the enthusiasm with which they play. Even on the iPod this energy came through and that was part of the reason I could really push some on the latter part of this run. That and the heat and humidity finally calmed down a bit. Total mileage was a bit shy of 8.5, run in 71:01.

Bit of groin pain, of the type I had a few months back, after the run which I'll monitor.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


My daughter went off to college yesterday. Drove with her mother out to Ohio where she will be starting classes as a freshman.

Back home, I find I'm already noticing how empty her room now looks. While I'm not incredibly in touch with my emotions, if I'm feeling sad alot of times its while I'm running that the sadness bubbling up. On yesterday's run out to the Drives I dwelt on the changes this move to college entailed - she's moving on to an exciting next step in her life but of course this will also entail change. I liked what we had and will miss that. Not deep or complex but it takes me awhile sometimes to come up with those realizations and then even longer to feel them. Yesterday's run let me do that.

Then I put all that on the street. I'm not in good enough shape yet to really burn off all of that emotional energy, but I got two MLK miles in under 14 minutes. It's a start. Total was 9 miles in 76 minutes and change. With an emphasis on change.

I met Deirdre this morning to run and we did what was probably 9 miles out through Lemon Hill, Fairmount Park, and the Horticultural Center. She asked me about how it feels to have M. go off to college and I got to talk a bit about it. Talk about it in a way you can when you have a captive audience to just process thoughts to for awhile. Deirdre is good running partner in that I can be winded and long-winded at the same time.

Ran for 77 minutes today, call it 9 again. Three days in a row of 70+ minute running.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Staying Cool

Got out before the heat. 8.5 out to Cobbs Creek and back on Woodland on the same route Deirdre and I did last Friday. Only this time it was just me. And Uncle Tupelo.

And all felt good. Like I was getting back into one of those upswings in my training. Starting to think about tempo runs and track workouts again. Might even do one tomorrow.

In the meantime I'm trying to stay cool. It's hot out there.

71 minutes.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Leg Stretcher

Slept in a bit. Then lay in bed some more and finished This Republic of Suffering, a history of death in the Civil War that I can highly recommend. Then my sister called and we chatted a bit. From there it was about 11 o'clock and the sun was already beating down. So I just grabbed a quick run, hair of the dog style, around Franklin Field and back. Didn't feel near as sore as I expected.

So I got enough of a run in to feed the monkey and kept it easy, considering yesterday's workout and today's heat. That'll work. 3.5 miles, untimed.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Saturday in the Park

Met up with John Dubs at the Art Museum this morning for 15 or 2 hours worth or whatever felt right. It wasn't until we were on our way that he told me his training schedule called for 3 miles at half-marathon pace (6:20) in the middle of this run. That, plus the "three bears" of Belmont Ave. that were on our route promised to make the run, uh, challenging.

The first hour or so were easy, relaxed and full of catching up. I had, after all, just gotten married and John and Heather are expecting their first child next week. Then we crossed the Green St. bridge into Montgomery County and the fun began. Due to some unfortunate miscommunication between us we took the hills harder than we would have, recovered a bit, and ran hard for 18 minutes worth, which we cut short at 14 minutes due to the heat and our rubbery legs. The rest was a jog in the park back to the Art Museum.

I've been doing OMW (old man walk) all day after that, and to make it more fun I went rock climbing (indoors) this afternoon, so my upper body doesn't feel much better. But as you can see from the time stamp on this post, its hardly a hopping Saturday night at the casa tonight.

But the beer I've just cracked open tastes delicious. 14+ miles in 1:54 on this route.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Pulled up this screen and then got distracted and now I don't feel like writing any more. Not so much that I don't feel like writing but I've got other things I need to take care of.

Anyway, its Friday, when the cumulative gunk from the past week weighs down on me and makes it oh so hard to get out in the morning. But get out I did, met up with Deirdre, and we went west - Cobbs Creek and all the way around and back on Woodland. Run was a bit like Wednesday's - good clip, enough conversation to make the time go quick, and high humidity although the temps are a bit cooler.

Otherwise, another one for the log book. 8.5 miles, untimed.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Keeping On

Nine miles in 76 minutes, running a Columbia Bridge loop. Nothing fancy nothing exciting. Just getting my groove back. 100% humidity this morning as the last part of the run was through a drizzle. Had first listens of the Bottle Rockets' latest and Blood Oranges' first albums - both good, the second is the better run-to music.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Run, Repeat

I stayed up all day yesterday, went to bed early last night (I was really tired) and got a good nights sleep. Felt fresh this morning as I got up at 5:30 to get ready for the morning run. Not only did I feel rested and non-lagged, but I felt like I was in a routine again. Right now that is important for me.

Met Deirdre at the Chestnut Street Bridge and we ran a version of a Sweetbriar loop. The run was pleasant enough as we mainly chatted through it, with the humidity that promises to blanket the city today still not quite having descended. We ran up Sweetbriar Hill and I realized that I've definitely lost some conditioning.

After getting home I started lifting again. I try to do one set of reps for something upper body after I run just to keep some semblance of tone, but haven't done that for several months due to the changes that have been abounding. Started up again with that, as much a symbol of being able to get up, run, lift, get ready, go to work, repeat for a stretch of time now.

8 miles in about 67 minutes.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Stepping towards Normality

I'm back in Philly. Got in this morning after spending all night on the red-eye flight. There is no good way to fly in from the west coast, but I'd rather lose half the night than lose half of the day. I'm pretty good at sleeping just about anywhere, so I was asleep for most of the flight. But that was only 4 1/2 hours, and then I found myself in Philly at 6:30 a.m.

I'm figuring the best way to deal with the jet lag is to just keep on going like its any other day. So I laced up my shoes and went out for a run. Warrington loop. Hot and humid. Slow and plodding. Head in a fog. But I feel better for having done it. A step towards regained normality.

5.5 miles untimed.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Doing It When I Can

In San Francisco now on the third and final leg of our honeymoon. And yes, I've been running for the past three days straight.

Before getting in to San Fran yesterday, we spent the previous four days in Healdsburg, a small town in the northern part of Sonoma County. Like Sonoma, a great getaway spot for enjoying wine and food. The pace is a bit slower in Healdsburg, however. Despite there being plenty of folks with the same intentions as us, it is definitely more off of the beaten path. And instead of staying in town, here we had a cabin on Fitch Mountain just outside of town, overlooking the Russian River.

This was a perfect place to stay, but the narrow winding roads amidst the hills made me a bit skittish about running. Monday I took the day off. Tuesday Reba and I went cycling through the Dry Creek Valley, which I counted as cross-training. By Wednesday I needed a run, so I took the narrow roads around Fitch Mountain and into Healdsburg. And it wasn't so bad. Traffic was sparse and the hills were not as steep as they seemed from the car. Route was mapped for me here. 6 miles, untimed.

Yesterday, we got in to San Francisco and had a few hours in the late afternoon before dinner. I laced up my shoes and went out along this route. This was a fun route. Not much good for training, as it was a 100% urban run along city streets punctuated with intersections. Even with my city running skills there were various intersections in which I couldn't help but stop. Its also a bit disorienting that the west coast car culture is much more accommodating of pedestrians. So when I cross a street against traffic, planning to flow through the traffic, that traffic abruptly comes to a halt for me to pass, even when I am clearly and flagrantly jaywalking. It's very disconcerting and somewhat disarming, as paradoxically I feel forced to wait to cross at the green because of this.

The route was a good cross section of San Francisco - starting off through South of Market in a neighborhood that felt like it should have homeless people and services, although it was largely devoid of street life and the only service area I saw was a big St. Vincent de Paul center. Then chugged through Mission, Castro and Tenderloin neighborhoods. 10k in 51:13.

Today I took Reba out to the Embarcadero (heading up Market St. the wrong way first) and then turned off at Fisherman's Wharf to make my way aimlessly through the city, seeking only to return in the general direction of Union Square and to avoid the really steep hills. I largely succeeded at the latter, realizing that I have very limited sense of direction and that San Francisco is a difficult town for me to get oriented. The areas I went through weren't as interesting and I felt like I was running without purpose, all the time stopping for intersections and forgoing any sense of rhythm. I set out to run anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes, got back to the hotel in 64. Didn't map it (couldn't if I tried), guessing it be around 7.5 miles.

All this leads me to the question I posed myself on my Healdsburg run: why do I run on vacation. It kinda-sorta feeds the addiction; it kinda-sorta maintains my fitness; it sometimes, like yesterday, is a good way to see the city but other times is a slog, like today. So I don't really have a good answer, but I do it anyway. When I can. And I don't get too stressed if I don't.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Wine A Little...

... you'll feel better.

Greetings from Sonoma. We've been here for the last four days (since I last posted) and its been lots of wine, food and sun. A honeymoon that is the perfect fit for what Reba and I like to do together.

That also includes running, although that is the one thing Reba won't let me do with her (long story). But we've both been doing it on our own.

Three runs in the last four days. First one was the hilly one which my last post foreshadowed. Mountainous is the better word. I wasn't aware at the time how literally the Sonoma Valley is a valley. The route I mapped was up the south wall of this valley, and was unrelenting in its uphill and in the steep nature of this. Part of this was great, as I ran up into the fog-shrouded mountains with my first taste of vineyards on both sides of the winding roads I was on. Then reality set in. The fact that one of the roads I planned my route on turned out to be a private drive, with a gate cutting off access, threw my g-map plans out the window and then a fork in the road which wasn't there further confused things, so I turned around and headed back rather than chance getting lost and thereby doing many gratuitous hills. It was really ridiculous, but I survived what turned out to be 7.5 miles in I think 66 minutes.

The next day, Friday, was a day off as we rented bikes and hit several wineries. Great way to do things and no worries about DWI's.

Yesterday I did 15. Headed out Route 12 towards Santa Rosa and then hit Arnold Drive in Glen Ellen, which I took back into town for a loop. The traffic on this run was more than was ideal, and much of the running was through town, but once I got out into the country, surrounded by vineyards, it gave me a taste of the valley (yes, I stayed in the valley) that you can't get any other way. I left too late and the sun was harsh, but I was glad to get a long run in. Just under 2 hours.

This morning was an easy 40 minutes (4 miles, conservatively) out to the Gundlach-Bundschu Winery and back. The GunBun is on the outskirts of Sonoma, but was a bit too far, and I cut the run short when I went 20 minutes and still had a bit to go to get there. I learned that the east side of Sonoma is the better-off part of town, and that it is definitely smart to get out early before the sun blows away all the early morning overcast.

Heading up to Healdsburg to spend the next four days. Don't know if I'll get internet access or want to break away from the fun we're having to post again from there. But through it all I should be running.