Seebo's Run

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

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Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Urban Steeplechase...

... can be defined as running an old cinder track after a rainstorm, with big puddles straddling both of the straightaways.

I was excited for my track workout this morning. Given last Sunday's 5k time, I wanted to do an encore performance of 5x1000 meter reps and see if I could squeeze some seconds out of last week's time.

This excitement deflated upon seeing the condition of the Bartram track. In addition to dodging the usual walkers and joggers, today I would need to go wide around the puddles (I nixed the idea of just plowing through them). I couldn't say exactly, but it would be sure to add a few seconds on to each interval.

Its times like these that I see the true importance of running strides before running the actual track workout. The ostensible purpose of strides are to warm the legs up for running fast. But they also warm the mind up. 3 laps around and it was assessing, reconfiguring, and finally accepting the notion that the workout would go on as planned, with time expectations (initially at 3:36 per 1000m rep) suspended.

Interval 1 came in in 3:49. Even given the extra time allotted for the obstacles, this was disappointing. But time was suspended today, and it now sank in that I had a free pass to run these damn things as slow or fast as I wanted.

Interval 2 came in at 3:40. About where I figured the puddles would leave me. About halfway into this interval I realized that with no time expectations, all I had to do was run fast. Fast and with abandon.

And then intervals 3, 4 and 5 came in at 3:36; 3:34 and 3:33, respectively. Damned if I didn't nail 'em. Just ran 'em hard.

This left me happy on many levels. Happy about the times, but also happy on following through the process it took to get there.

Adding up the 5k on the installment plan gave me a time of 18:09. To think I ran a whole 5k a few seconds faster than that leaves me knowing I can still push these old legs harder. That'll be for next week. Today's totals were 9.5 miles, I forgot the total time.

And I came home with the ultimate runner's reward - muddy calves.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Going the Extra Half Mile

Deirdre's in town, so we met on the Schuylkill bike path and I finished up my 8.5 miler while accompanying her on some miles in her long run. The morning was gorgeous and the legs didn't feel too beat up after yesterday's long run and subsequent washing machine escapade.

I had to haul our broken down washing machine down from the third floor and then haul our spare from the basement (doesn't everybody have a spare washer in basement) up to the third floor. I had help, of course, but I didn't realize how much that trashed my legs.

But the legs settled down as the run progressed up over Lemon Hill, over the Girard Bridge, and then back around West Philly. Deirdre seems to be doing well following her move, and today's run was like what I guess is now old times. So much so that I went the extra half mile to 49th St.

8.5 miles, untimed.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Planned to get up early and incorporate the Jack St. Clair classic XC race at Belmont Plateau into my long run, but the pitter patter of rain changed my mind and I slept in. Rain stopped later and I put my shoes on, but it started up again before I got out the door. Figured I'd go anyway.

Got in 14 miles, the minimum distance I'll consider a "long" run. Nothing imaginative, just ran down to the Art Museum and did the Drives. 27:48 for the 4 miles up MLK; 27:35 for the 4 miles back down Kelly Dr. That's about marathon pace these days. Ran the total 14 in 1:46:43.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Main Line 5k

Reading the title of this race, it sounds like some way to get a more intense dose of running - you take your 5k and, like heroin, you mainline it. But its not like that.

Instead, running this race requires a trip up to Wayne, Pa., up on the Main Line which is, for you non-locals, the upper class suburbs that line Lancaster Ave. once you get out northwest of Philadelphia. Wayne is the epicenter of what David Brooks calls the "bo-bo" phenomenon - the new cultural elite with their "bourgeois bohemian" aesthetic:

And so suddenly the streets of Wayne are dominated by the PBS-NPR cohort: vinyard-touring doctors, novel-writing lawyers, tenured gardening buffs, unusually literary realtors, and the rest of us information age burghers. These people have different aspirations than the old country club and martini suburban crowd, and naturally enough want their ideals reflected in the sort of things they buy and images they project...

It was into this mix that a marathon training-psychologist and a weekend warrior-sociologist entered to race. The event was thoroughly organized, and judging from how well the volunteers directed the parking it was clear that no-one would take a wrong turn on the course that day. There were sponsors galore and folks that Reba knew through work (her employer was one of the sponsors) and I knew through my Bryn Mawr involvement. And for me, it was good to get back into the racing scene. I forgot that, apart from an athletic event, it is also a social outlet.

And there was a race. The course was praised by all and the first mile ran down Lancaster Ave into downtown Wayne, past the Anthropologie and the kiddie boutique and the pottery painting store, and into the leafy back streets. I felt comfortable and settled into about tenth place as the field shook out and was pleasantly surprised as the first mile split read 5:30. After this, however, the course got challenging with hills - more up than down - before a loop around the Valley Forge Military Academy's track. Mile two was in about 6:15. I knew it would come in slower but 45 seconds slower leads me to believe that the markers were miscalibrated. Now I was where I figured I'd be - on track to finish on either side of 18 minutes. More hills on the last mile and I reel in one guy, then another who kicks back and we duel down the home stretch. Its double despair as I don't have the gas and he passes me at the chute while the clock ticks past 18 minutes to 18:04.

So, like I said, pretty much where I thought I'd be. On a flatter course, probably a bit faster. I had fun. I realize that I miss racing, and am eager to do it again. Stay tuned.

All in all, about 7 miles.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sick Role

Calling in sick today.

Nothing major - my head feels very congested, my throat is sore, and I just don't have a good grip on things. I've got a ton of sick time and this way I can excuse myself from a bunch of obligations I have, including a 2-hour long faculty meeting.

Its interesting in that, in the Sociology of Medicine class that I teach, we spent the last class on sociologist Talcott Parsons and his formulation of the "sick role." Among other things, being sick gives us a "free pass" to stay home and otherwise shirk our normal duties, although with it we also have the responsibility to get better. Sounds pretty obvious? Well, there is more to it than that. We as a society, myself included, are not very good at using this free pass and I'm sure I'll be working some at home. But it will be stuff I want to do with limited interruptions.

But I will use my free pass to take a day off from running. Save myself a bit for the weekend and consolidate my recent gains. Probably a good thing to do, regardless of any illness I may have.

Yesterday I ran 10 miles, went out to the Lansdowne Sycamore and back around. Another once-regular route that I haven't run in awhile. Nice to see the tree again. Run went strong, albeit untimed.

While we're on medical issues, I'll document for the record that I'm dealing with a nagging case of poison ivy. It started over the weekend on the base of my thumb, started another encampment on my right calf, and is still franchising out to various other locations. I get PI every couple of years and this is pretty much the pattern. Gives me discomfort that I need to bear with for about a week before the tide turns and all the rashes dry up. Doubt my staying home will help that any.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Return of the Installment Plan

Tuesday morning at the Bartram track has now become part of my weekly routine. I'm getting to recognize regulars that walk or run, I'm getting used to the cinders, and I've pretty much stopped wondering a) if the track is really 1600 meters; and b) how much more distance is added on due to the grass taking up most of what once was the first lane.

Reba signed us up for the Main Line 5k on Saturday up in Wayne. To "prep" (more on that in a minute) for that I did a 5k on the installment plan. That's 5x1000 (400m rec). The combined times of the five intervals give you a 5k time. That's the installment plan. A nice gimmick.

To get a sub 18 minute time I'd need to do the 1000m reps in under 3:36. Actual intervals went in 3:41; 3:34; 3:35; 3:37; 3:37 for a total time of 18:04. Just couldn't close those last few intervals this morning. Close enough to leave me with that feeling that had I only dug deeper I could have shaved off five seconds and been alot happier. That's one second per interval. But it didn't happen.

So, back to the prep. I don't know how much this morning's workout prepped me to run any faster on Saturday. Where the prep comes in is that I can now be more realistic about what I can run on Saturday and precludes whining and complaining about my time in Saturday's race report.

I still remember the race when I went under 18 minutes for the first time, a little race that snaked its way through Penn campus in what must have been 2000 or so, and it was huge for me. Then for the longest time I took sub 17-minute 5k times for granted and even came close (sooo close) to going under 16 minutes. And now I'm back to working my way down to under 18.

The parabola of life? I'm not ready to concede that yet, and cling to the possibility that with some more sustained training my speed will come back. I doubt that it will return to what it was, but I'm confident there is still plenty of room for improvement. Just need to sweat, to breathe heavy, and to hurt. It's the American way.

As I like to say, each time I walk off the track I learn something about myself.

9.5 miles totalling the warm up, cool down, recovery, and the actual running fast in 77:53.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Racing Ryan Hall

Philadelphia Distance Run was today. No, I didn't run it but did incorporate it into my run this morning. Headed out to MLK and Sweetbriar Ave - Mile 6 on the PDR course - with the goal of being there in time to catch the front runners. I figured this meant leaving the house at 7:30, and actually left the house at 7:35. This created a bit of pressure to make it to my and Ryan's rendez-vous on time - he running the course and me running through Mantua on a beautiful fall morning. I miscalculated a bit in my favor - I beat Ryan by a good five minutes, and then got to see him in the lead pack of four. Other runners trickled by, including Catherine Ndereba and the lead women's pack.

After sticking around a bit more I took the short-cut across the Girard Bridge that landed me at the mile 12 marker. When the lead pack came around Ryan and his three buddies were still in a tight pack, presumably having run like that for the whole race up to that. I talked with a guy later who said that Hall made his move about a quarter mile from where I was standing and won the race.

Likewise, Ndereba was still tangling it up with another competitor when she passed. I like watching at a particular point, with the lead packs passing and then the occasional groups giving way to an ever intensifying trickle of runners as time goes on. I saw a good number of folks I know, to whom I gave out shouts, and I'm sure missed a few. I'm not very good at recognizing faces and have missed Reba running past me in races before. One person of note to pass by was Stan Cooper, who kept his streak of running every single PDR alive for one more year. John Dubs also ran, hopefully he'll have an lbrr up soon.

After the pace got to 8 minutes or so I jumped in and ran to the Art Museum and back home. Total for this was 7.5 more or less junk miles that were alot of fun. When I got home I ran another 2+ with Tony over the usual route in 18:17, miles that are whatever the opposite is of junk. Tony made it through his first week of XC practice.

Yesterday I went long. Met up with Dan, Bridget, Devon, and Cassi at the Art Museum. Cassi and I took off ahead of the others pretty early and did a meandering 19.5 miler up through Manayunk and back down on Forbidden Drive. Second straight week I was really happy with my long run, doing it at a brisker pace that must force me to be more efficient, as I felt myself gliding along most of the time. Having a new partner gives me the opportunity to repeat stories I've told on and about other runs and related topics, and lets me listen to new stuff as well. Between the pace, the conversation, and the beautiful morning, the 19.5 miler went quickly. Total time 2:17:39.

Yesterday was a memorable running day for Reba and Barb, who finished their first 20-milers, and also to Chuck, who won his first Chestnut Hill Classic XC race. I had considered going out there but had to scratch it due to logistics. Looks like I saved myself from a good ass-whuppin'.

Fall is here and the running is easy. Haven't felt this good about things in a long time.

Friday, September 18, 2009


6 miles easy, around the Art Museum and up to 49th St. Untimed. Everything feels good, happy the weekend is almost here.

Easy running calls for easy blogging. See you tomorrow.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Why I Don't Run in the Afternoon

I got all ready to run this morning. Out the door by 6:20 just as it was starting to rain. Just then all the reasons why I didn't want to run came cascading down. A torrential downpour of images of being soaking wet and fruitlessly and miserably undertaking a stunted tempo run down on the Drives. I looked at my schedule and figured out Plan B: I could go into work early, then leave early, and get my run in that afternoon. So I set about.

Running in the afternoon means having this run hanging over my head all day.

Running in the afternoon means that there would inevitably be some late afternoon fires that I'd need to stick around to put out. So my planned 4:30 escape from work became 5:30.

Out the door around 6:00. This meant dinner would be late and Reba would be none too happy for it. Can't say I blame her.

I always run faster in the afternoons. Common sense would say I'm already woken up and more engaged when I start my run. I think its because in the afternoon I want to finish my run because I have stuff I want to do after I'm done. In the mornings I hang onto my run, as it is all that stands between me and going to work. The world around me seems the same way. Cars are more aggressive, creeping into the pedestrian walks at red lights, less accommodating and raising my flashpoint.

Then I got to the Drives and let her rip. 3-mile tempo run (a.k.a., the usual) down MLK. First mile in 6 flat - nice even 1:30 quarter mile splits (this will be important in a minute). Mile 2 in 12 minutes. I'm starting to visualize a sub-18 time. Then there's a metallic dinging on the asphalt. My housekey has escaped my little shorts pocket. My heart dropped right along with it. I turn around, locate it, pick it up and try to resume tempo. At the 2 and 1/4 mile hash the time reads 13:36. I lost six seconds to the key. I keep pushing, but I am disappointed. However the 2 1/2 mile split reads 15:03. I'm making up time. I thought I pushed the volume to 10 over the first two miles, now I dig and push it to 11 for the last 800 and finish the 3 miles in 17:59.

I won't deny that I'm still totally pumped over this. The time itself is great, the fact that I found an extra gear to get there is even better. Jogged the rest of the way home, eager to get home as it got progressively darker. When I finally got home I realized that it would still be dark when I lace up my shoes in the morning to do it again. Unless of course its raining.

There is a symmetry of atonement to today's run. I dodge the discomfort of a run in the rain only to meet the discomfort of a late afternoon run head on. The toughest thing about the latter discomfort is knowing that had I sucked it up this morning it would already have been over. Maybe that will get me out on a future morning despite myself.

But a good workout puts a silver lining on all that. Greenland Drive loop. 11 miles in 89:08.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Solitude Running

This screen has been open for the whole work day. I guess I've been actually doing work.

I reconnected with an old route - the ten-mile Acme loop - this morning. I have run this with many people in the past, just about all of whom are either gone or not running right now. To make that even sadder I put on a Patti Griffin album I just downloaded, Impossible Dream, which is from 2004 but is new to me. Griffin's music is what I play when I feel in a solitary mood, and the music framed the run. Not only in terms of running through layers of past go-rounds of this loop with different people and connotations, but also in terms of people I saw on the way. People who appeared in monads and dyads - a man seeing that his young daughter get on the schoolbus; an older man throwing food crumbs on the sidewalk for pigeons, people walking along the side of the roads carrying bags, and others that seemed to fit with the music getting injected into my head. The run went strong, if not overly fast, and the music contributed to that.

I got three comments on yesterday's post. More than I usually get or expect, as I am not as good in interacting in the blogosphere as I should be. Which makes me all the more appreciative of them. While two were on my running, the one on my recent little trials into writing more "personal notes" stuck with me this morning. On one hand what I write here is personal, but it is mainly what is on my mind, and DelDean's comment got me thinking that I still keep many things at arm's length here. Not that its good or bad to do that, but just that I do that. Gets me seeing my writing here differently. I encourage folks in the classes I teach to look at the familiar - for example how doctors interact with patients - from different contexts and am appreciative when someone does that for me. I've written before how I just read What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Haruki Murakami's memoir, and though I had some problems with the book I have been thinking about what it would take to write more in a memoir style. A bit like inching up to the starting line, wondering if I want to run this race.

And in a non-running item, I lost a great aunt this afternoon. She passed in Switzerland, peacefully after a difficult couple of weeks, after a good, long life. I would see her often as a child when I spent summers in Europe, and occasionally as an adult when she'd come to the US. She impressed me with a wonderful, childlike take on life that I trust facilitated her transition to death. A joyful presence amidst a family who tended to take life way too seriously. When I was 14 and she was in her 60's she introduced me to Bob Marley's music. When Tony was four and she was in her 80's she'd do crazy jiglike dances with him. Good-bye, Vevette.

10 miles in 85:20.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

All Revved Up

To the track this morning, same old story. Slow to warm up and then hit the first rep running.

4 x 1600 again, as fast I can muster, which hopefully means under 6 minute pace.

Almost there - 6:04; 5:57; 5:58; 5:58. I won't bore you all with 400m splits, but except for the initial 400 meters, which was slow, the rest of the workout was at sub 6 pace.

I would have liked this morning's workout to have been a little quicker than last week's, but running is not a linear process. Today was more like consolidating last week's gains. I'm getting back in that sub 6 mindset, and ideally I'd like to get these times back in the 5:45-5:30 range. But that is a long-term goal. Right now I'm happy to be under6 again. Now the question is whether I can maintain a decent training schedule for the rest of the week. Go long and slow tomorrow and tempo on Thursday, and then I'll be making progress.

Which leaves me all revved up with nowhere to go. Especially after Saturday's long run I am ready to jump into a marathon. I was thinking Harrisburg or Marine Corps, but both fell through. This leaves no other marathon that fits in terms of calendar, distance and logistics for the rest of the year. I'm still thinking of plan C. On a more minor note, after a schedule fail last weekend I'm still looking to race anything this fall. Now I'm thinking Parkway Run on the weekend after next.

9.5 miles total in about 76 minutes, with a post-track interruption by a loooong freight train that made it soooo hard to get going again.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Easy Monday Run

Was out of the house by 5:45 this morning. Had to do this so I can get a decent run in before having to take Tony to school this morning. Yes, fall is back.

Doing this I realized how much my morning start time has crept up. Used to be in the day Erin and I started at 6. Nowadays, its gotten to be more like 6:30 and later on days I run by myself.

Its amazing how much going to bed earlier makes it easier to get up earlier. The run started in the dark, and when I got to the Chestnut St. bridge there was enough light in the false dawn to paint the Schuylkill in a dark indigo and reflect the Center City skyscrapers and the lit up bridges. Very arty in an urban European fashion.

The mornings are only going to get darker. And colder. But not yet. By the time I got out of Fairmount Park I realized that I'd have to cut the route short. All in all, an easy 7 miler, at least according to gmap-pedometer. I don't know, however. The run clocked in at just over 63 minutes and I know I wasn't setting any records, but the run wasn't that slow either.

But it don't matter, it was just an easy Monday run.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Perpetual PR

Easy run today, 5.5 mile Warrington loop. Not much going on. Patti Loveless and Jeffery Foucault keeping me company on the iPod.

Got home and did an additional 2.1 miles with Tony. The usual loop. Following a usual pattern, we opt to go easy and end up getting a new course record. This time around we made it in 17:51, beating the mark by 59 seconds. Its a fun place to be, running when you don't yet know your limits. For all Tony knows, we can run every day and always beat yesterday's mark. I was there once, but no longer.

7.5 miles total. 55 miles for the week.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Good Bye Deirdre

Haven't posted for a few days as I haven't had much to write about. I blew off my planned tempo run on Thursday after it became clear after starting out that I didn't have any mojo that morning. I write often about heading out while feeling bad and then easing into where I subsequently nail a challenging workout. On Thursday the initial funk never lifted, so I just headed back home and got in three miles.

Yesterday rained all day long. Others may spin running in the rain into great feats of intestinal fortitude. In contrast, I saw more benefit in taking a rest day than in flogging myself through a miserable slog. I remind myself of Deirdre's prescience a few days ago when she wondered how "rest day" ever became a dirty word.

The rest did me good as today's long run went strong. Devon & Jamie organized a 20 miler that attracted a group of 9. I hung with them to about Falls River Bridge, when Deirdre, myself and Cassi, whom I had run with once last winter, took off on our own. This led us through East Falls and around to the Wissahickon Trail, over SMB and through Fairmount Park. A merry chase at a good pace, and the fresh legs and good company made the time go fast.

Not sure when I'll run with Deirdre next, as she is moving on to NYC next week. We parted ways at mile 15 and kept things open about when "next time" would be. Its easier than saying good bye, which among other things would have required stopping and engaging in a sweaty hug. I don't know if you read this blog, Deirdre, but I'll say good bye and good luck a bit more formally here. I'll miss your early morning company and your pulling me along to ever faster training paces.

Today being a good case in point. 17.5 miles in 2:15:20.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Nine Nine Oh Nine

I have often had mornings when I didn't run and wondered if I should have. Today was a morning that I ran and wondered if I shouldn't have just taken the day off. Deirdre commented that on the days we don't run we "take a DNR" which makes this sound like something negative. Similarly, I shoot to run 7 days a week and figure life will more likely than not knock out one of those workouts. But just like days off from work are productive, so are days off from running. I, like many, just tend not to see it that way.

My legs just felt dead. I left the house on time but couldn't get warmed up, and so Deirdre was waiting for me by the time I got to the Chestnut St. bridge. I was apologetic both in the slower than usual pace and the attenuated mileage, but at the Art Museum I went back across the Spring Garden Bridge and headed back. Deirdre was gracious about it (we've all been there) and I hope she got some good miles in afterwards. For me, 5.5+ in 53:33.

After all that complaining, I ran another 39th Street loop with Tony when I went home for lunch. Tony is now set for cross country practice. He didn't want to try to break our course record from yesterday (18:51) so we just ran it, but broke the mark anyway when we finished in 18:50.

7.5 miles total.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Good Running Continues

Running with Tony is getting to be a regular thing. Yesterday he and I did a 39th Street loop, a loop I used to run once or twice a week back in the late 90’s as a recovery day run. Occasionally I’ll tack this on to a longer run to add some mileage. However, as Tony is running 15-20 minutes at a pop, this run fulfills that obligation. So that’s the one we have started on. Yesterday I felt him out a bit and took things slow. The run is somewhat hilly (its hard to completely avoid hills around here) and a little longer than he’s been doing. Going up the hill on Baltimore Ave from 43rd Street he started to breathe a bit heavier and I kept the pace mellow. But he was game the rest of the way. We finished in 19:35.

This morning we ran the loop again, and both decided to shave some seconds off of yesterday’s time. Same loop. Tony was breathing harder and lagged a bit behind me at times, but he put in a good finishing kick down 46th Street to finish in 18:51. Worth a fist bump.

As for me, yesterday, when Tony and I finished I kept going west and tacked on another six miles on the Cobbs Creek-Springfield-43rd St circuit. Ran through a lot of peoples parties – with various blocks roped off from traffic and barbecues smoking and kids running around. Saying goodbye to Labor Day and summer of 2009. Total was 8 miles in 48:54 (including miles with Tony).

This morning, before me and Tony ran, I went out to the track. I’ve decided it now takes me at least two miles to get into the right state of mind to run fast. Even the strides felt half-hearted. Then it was workout time – 3 x 1600 (400 recovery) – and I left myself an option for a fourth rep. Time goal was simple, I wanted to get as many under 6 minutes as I could. This would build nicely on last weeks track workout, where I was just around this mark. Anyway, reps went by in 5:57; 5:54; and 5:56. Felt strong enough to take a fourth rep and it went by in 5:59. I had to hustle a bit on the first rep, the second and third just flowed, and I had to push on the last 400 to get rep #4 in the zone. But this was by no means a give 120% workout. I didn’t want that today. Just to get those 1600’s under 6. That opens up a whole new horizon.

Best track workout of the year. I’ll carry that feeling with me and continue to ponder what I want to do this season. For the short term, Reba, Tony and I have tentatively resolved to run the Paper Mill 5k on Sunday. But for today, total was 9.5 miles in 75:36 plus the 2 miles with Tony.

And Maricela text me last night from college. She is running too! Its part of her strategy to avoid the dreaded "freshman fifteen." I told her to keep me posted.

Finally, check out this less than photo finish to a 400m race. Ouch.

Sunday, September 06, 2009


Long run yesterday. Met up with Deirdre at the Art Museum and the two of us ran this route good for just under 18.5 miles. Ran through Fairmount, Wynnefield and Overbrook, and ran down some new streets around St. Joe's University. Really wanted to get two and a half hours in running, had to do some looping around University City to do it. Made for a long final 15 minutes, but glad I stuck it out. Final finish time is 2:30:21.

I'm running stronger each week, and with it comes an awareness that the fall racing season is here. I'm feeling the urge, and more important the readiness to run again. Now I want to see where my times are at. I'm thinking just jump in a 5k, maybe next weekend. Looking at local race calendars and 5k's seem to be all there are. The obvious exception to that is the Philly Distance Run, but at $75 it is more than I want to spend on a race.

I also ran today with Tony. We are in NY spending the weekend at my mom's. Tony and I went to run at the North Rockland High School track. We can each run our own pace and distance there. We ignored the signs saying the track was under reconstruction and ran around the oval anyway. The track was but an asphalt slab laid down, I suppose, as a foundation for the spongy stuff that is yet to come. Figured we weren't damaging anything but our knees running on it. Nobody bothered us on it.

I started running on that track when it was still cinders. I must have been about Tony's age, in middle school. My mom would run there on a regular basis, meeting several friends. It must have been summer vacation when I'd started going along as well. They would run three miles. That distance seemed forever, I remember humidity, counting the laps, doing fractions with denominators of 12 (laps) as to how much I had done and had left to do, and running a bit faster than my mom and her friends, seeing if I could lap them as we all went around the oval. This was the 70's, the first running boom. I think one thing I remember from running with my mom was the camraderie she had with the group she'd run with. And I compare it to the good fortune I've had in most of my running tenure with good people I've run with. If you ask runners whether or not one of their parents ran, a large amount will respond affirmatively. Like alcoholism and pattern baldness, there seems to be a family component to running.

Which brings me back to Tony. He started while I was still getting ready and had about a half lap headstart. I didn't close any of this lead on the first few go-rounds, but then I started picking up the pace and he slowed down a bit. As I caught up to him I noted with satisfaction that he's got a smooth stride and good leg turnover, landing on his fore-foot and coming down on his entire foot before lifting off again. At 12 he's as tall as I am and much thinner. He'll be a good runner if he sticks with it. He ran six laps and walked a few more. I thought how I'd do more at his age but had to hush myself. I'm just warming him up to run with the school team in a week or so. That experience will have much to do with whether all this sticks or not. My middle school didn't have a cross country team. It was cut, budget cuts I believe, a year or two before I was old enough to run. Then the small private high school I attended didn't have a team either. I ran briefly in freshman year of college, middle of the pack in the few meets I ran, but after really bad shin splints never picked it up again. He's got an opportunity for a different trajectory here. I'll keep this blog posted on that.

Three miles today gives me 64 for the week. I'm very happy with that number but it is now so last week.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Easy Running

Met Deirdre today for a relatively easy ten miler. Day was a bit more humid than recent days but still very comfortable to run. The route, much of it through Fairmount Park, was verdant and about as quiet as Philadelphia gets on a Friday morning during drive time.

Today's ten put me in a good position to surpass 60 miles for this week. Its also the first strong Friday run in several weeks. Makes me glad that I took it easy on Wednesday.

All is still good. Runningwise, anyway. 10 miles in 83:47.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Making $10 the Hard Way

So, I thought I was doing everything right. I got to bed at 9:30 last night, and as a result I had no problem getting up a little earlier than I usually do. Was on pace to get out of the house before my usual 6:30 start when a last minute bout of GI issues waylaid me for a bit.

No, this won't be a TMI post. My point is at this point it was very hard to keep up the momentum and enthusiasm for this run, as I was behind schedule and needed to be into work on time. Instead of things being as planned (i.e., in my control) I suddenly found myself in salvage mode. I considered not running, I considered cutting my planned tempo run short, and ultimately had to push myself to get on the road.

I was rewarded for this, as upon turning onto Baltimore Ave I spotted a Hamilton rolled up and sticking out of a little crack baggie sitting on the sidewalk. I scooped it up and thereby renounced my amateur status, and kept moving on. As the run progressed my frustrations melted and I ended up doing the now-usual Thursday route - the 11 mile Strawberry Mansion Bridge loop with the three-mile tempo stretch followed by recovery on the Belmont fire road. Its tough but I really like it. Mile splits for the tempo were 6:19; 12:22 and 18:26 - one second faster than my 4800 meter time from yesterday and about 45 seconds faster than my time on these tempo miles last Thursday. Progress, provided my heels cooperate. Sofar they have.

This is another rushed post from work, so I wrap things up here. Just want to say I forewent breakfast and lifting to get to work on time, and used my newfound riches for coffee and a muffin later on that morning.

I'm in a happy place with my running right now. Its hard writing that, makes me look around for some wood to knock on.

11 miles in 92:47.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Random Notes

Had to be in at work on time and presentable at 9 this morning. Given that, it seemed like a good morning to go easy. So I slept a little later, ran a little less, and paced a little slower.

Ran down to Franklin Field, snuck onto the track for three laps, and came home. Figuring 4+ miles. No watch. Weather again is beautiful.

Legs and heels felt amazingly good yesterday, felt good but not great this morning. Hope they can recover a bit today. Also hope by taking it easy today I can get a good run in on Friday.

Had Todd Snider on the iPod. Last time I was listening to this my head was in the fog and my legs were humping it up the Sonoma hills.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

2 Seconds Lost

All set to do some writing, memoir style, in this blog this morning but can't justify doing this at work. So its back to a usual (if there is such a thing) entry. Lame excuse or admirable adherence to the work ethic? You decide.

The important thing is that I did run. Headed out to the Bartram track. Same workout as last week. The legs were sore, achilles tendons were achy, and I didn't see much happening right up to getting on the track. Some strides got me ready mentally to speed things up, though I was still non committal to how fast I would take it. And then when I got started I was ready to bolt (apologies to Usain). Its amazing how that process works - from giving myself a pass all the way to jumping right in, all within a 15 minute span.

The workout, like last week, was one 5000 meter rep. Anything more, that required repeated efforts with recoveries in between, I associated with feelings of tendons doing bad things. So it was just one prolonged rep at however fast I could.

Last week's splits, at 1600m intervals, were: 6:14; 12:20; and 18:28, with the whole 5000 finishing in 19:12.

This week's splits, at 1600m intervals, were: 6:21; 12:27; and 18:27, with the whole 5000 finishing in 19:10.

So the start was somewhat slower, and I recovered nicely to slice two seconds off last weeks time. This is probably attributable to that it was probably 15 degrees cooler this morning than last Tuesday. But it also included circumnavigating a tractor parked on the track for two laps. You just don't get that on the Lower Merion track. Particularly encouraging is that I got the last 1600 down to 6 flat. I would love to start recording sub 6 splits again. This tells me it will happen.

Took the long way home to give me 9 miles. Don't remember the end time. But I will take that two seconds I lost around with me for the rest of the day.