Sunday, July 31, 2005

San Francisco Treat

ORN 7/31/05: San Francisco 1/2 marathon: 2:57:30

What a day! I wasn't crazy about a 5AM start [yikes] but I wanted to give myself plenty of time to finish. The course this year featured an out-and-back across the Golden Gate Bridge. It was cool and foggy [hey, it's San Francisco!] but after the killer summer we've had in Chicago it felt fantastic.

The first hour or so was in the dark. In some places is was SO dark that having a flashlight or headlamp would have been a good idea. My guess is that several hundred people took advantage of the early start option, so we had a small but lively group.

It didn't take long for the leaders to overtake us. And after that it was like someone had opened up the flood gates. The "early" runners and walkers moved to the right and let the speed demons go through. It was actually fun to see the faster folks.

Crossing the brigde was a treat. Although it was so foggy that you couldn't see ANYTHING, we knew where we were and how lucky we were to be there.

I ran/walked a 5/1 interval most of the time. I had decided that I would walk the uphills and run the downhills no matter where they fell on the run/walk interval. It was the perfect plan and I finished feeling fantastic.

I give the race HIGH marks for orinization. Everything seemed to be done very well. I would recommend this race to anyone who likes cool, hilly, races.

Waddle on, friends.


Saturday, July 30, 2005

Taper Madness

ORN: 7/29/05: REST

With the 1/2 marathon on Sunday, it's important to try to get my legs as rested as possible. Flying and standing around at an Expo is not the best way to rest, but I don't have any choice. I've decided to take an extra day off of running, to try and get as much recovery as I can.

Word on the street is that the course is hilly which, of course, is something we can't prepare for in Chicago. So, the plan is to walk as much of the uphill as I need to and run the downhills when I can.

I'm more nervous about this race than I expected to be. I'm worried that I don't have the right clothes, that I'm not really prepared, and that I'm going to end up getting pulled off the course. Sound familiar?

Standing at the starting line is always like reading a mystery novel. I'm never quite sure how it's going to turn out!

Waddle on, friends.


Thursday, July 28, 2005

Later that day...

ORN: 7/28/05; Chicago; 60 min. walk 5 min 6/1, 25 min, 4/2, 25 min, walk 5 min

Let's see if I can explain. My legs were still trashed from the extended bike ride yesterday. Normally, I would have taken the day off, but I'm flying to San Francisco tomorrow and probably won't be able to run. So, I needed to get it in.

I'm running the 1/2 on Sunday so my main goal was to stay loose and get the blood flowing. I started doing a 6/1 run/walk interval, then switched to 4/2 on the way back. Just too tired.

Running today wasn't the smartest thing to do. I know that. But I also know that it's unlikely that I'll be able to run tomorrow OR Saturday, so I thought it was better to run tired than to miss 3 days.

Hey, I didn't say I was any smarter about my running than anyone else!! Sometimes, you've just got to do what you can when you can how you can.

Waddle on, friends.


Windy City

ORN: 7/27/05; 2 1/2 hours, road bike; Chicago lakefront path

I should have known! The plan today was to bike south on the path about 12 miles or so, to Promitory Point, to take some digital shots of the Chicago Distance Classic course. Sailing south on the path I was thinking just how great it was to be out on cool day, effortlessly pedaling, and enjoying every minute.

Then, I turned around.

Most of the effortlessly part came from the 20 mph sustained wind! It took me 45 minutes to get down to Promitory Point and 1 1/2 hours to get back. In fact, I cut OFF the bike path to get to ride the city streets just to get out of the wind.

So, the effort was more than I intended. My legs are feeling pretty trashed which, with a half marathon to run on Sunday, is NOT the best plan.

Waddle on, friends.


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Birds and Bees

ORN: 7/26/05; Chicago: 48 min run, 6/1

I almost didn't go out today. The weather was very threatening. Dark clouds, lots of wind. But I really needed to get the run in today so that I could bike tomorrow. So out I went.

One of the tricks I learned from an old motorcyclist YEARS ago was that you can tell how close the storm is by watching the birds. If the birds are still out, flying around, then the barometric pressure hasn't dropped to storm level yet. I was pleased that the birds along the lakefront were still there.

The theory is that the birds will nest, or seek shelter, when they sense that the storm is upon them, so if they are still out you've got time. It's proven to be true just about 100% of the time. And, it was yesterday.

I was able to get in my run with only a gentle sprinkle of rain. The storms came about 20 minutes after I got in the house!

Waddle on, friends.


Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Riding in the Rain

ORN 7/25/05, Chicago: ?? mountain bike

Yes, it's true. I have no idea how far or how long I rode yesterday. The plan was to ride the new Chicago Distance Classic course, but it didn't quite work out that way.

When we got to where we were going to start the sky was dark and there was lighting all around. NOT TOO SMART to be on a bike at the edge of a lake with that much lighting. So, we hung in the car for about an hour waiting for it to clear.

The weather LOOKED fine when we finally started and we had gotten all the way to the turn-around when things started to get ugly. The rain clouds moved back in and the sky opened up. Not the gentle summer rain in the movies. A DOWN POUR.

Somehow, though, it didn't matter. Once we were soaked to the skin we just took our time riding back. And like running in the rain, biking in the rain brings me right back to my childhood. I didn't wear a watch when I was 10 years old! I didn't seem like I needed to keep track of time yesterday either.

Waddle on, friends.


Monday, July 25, 2005

Taper Time

ORN 7/24/05, Chicago: REST

There's a couple of things going on. I took a red-eye flight back from California, so I was pretty wasted to begin with. Secondly, there AIR temperature was 103 degrees and the "it feels like" temperature was about 115 degrees. By the time I could have gotten out it would have been brutal and stupid.

So, life gave me a rest day, which a week before the 1/2 marathon is probably a good idea.

I hope to get in a bike ride today, to loosen up my legs, but the temps are still EXTREME!

Waddle on, friends.


Sunday, July 24, 2005

Barnyard Run

ORN 7/23/05, Anaheim, CA: 4 miles, 6/1, 50 minutes

This was a quick out-and-back, pre-breakfast run on the sidewalks of Anaheim. I never got there, but I was very close to Disneyland before I had to turn back.

I'm a city kid. I know city living. I know city creatures. So, I was a little surprised when early on in the run I came across a white Heron. But I was REALLY surprised when I had to run AROUND 3 chickens that were wandering down the sidewalk. CHICKENS.

In an neighborhood where tiny stucko houses cost $650,000 it seemed out of place to see chickens on the sidewalk. Maybe that's what southern California is all about. The juxtaposition of outrageous home prices with downhome living. Oh well.

It was a fun run, though. Fun because it was actually cooler in California than it would have been in Chicago.

Waddle on, friends.


Saturday, July 23, 2005

Travel day

ORN 7/22/05: rest and travel

Spend most of the day in airports or in planes. Not much chance to run.

I'm backing off [tapering] just a bit leading up to next week's half marathon. Even though it isn't the goal race I want to be somewhat more rested than for a normal long run.

Plus, the race is in San Francisco and you KNOW that there will be hills.

Waddle on, friends.


Friday, July 22, 2005

Freaky Run

ORN 07/21/05: 55 min, 6/1

What a STRANGE day. I'm an afternoon runner. I know LOTS of people like to get up and run in the morning, but it's just not me. I look forward to getting out ALL day and it keeps me working because I know that the run is my reward.

Late summer afternoons in Chicago mean - "chance of isolated thunderstorms". Living so close to the lake it's not unusual to watch the storms come in and then blow right through.

Yesterday, though, the threat of severe weather was strong. As a result, there was nearly no one out on the running path or in the parks. It was FREAKY. The sky was an eerie gray and it started to drizzle once or twice, but never rained.

It was like being the last person on the planet. And in it's own way it was magical. It reminded me again why I run. It's because without running I'm disconnected from the real world. Without running I would spend my entire life inside my head and inside the tiny little world that I've created.

Waddle on, friends.


Thursday, July 21, 2005

Pedal Power

ORN 7/21/05: 55 minutes/ mountain bike

I say mountain bike, but there are no mountains along the lakefront in Chicago. In fact, hills are so special that the ONE hill along the lakefront has a name! Cricket Hill: like it was a Denali or something.

No, mountain bike refers only to which bike. I've got three. The "mountain" bike, which I do ride off-road when I can, the "road" bike, a classic "drop handlebar" style bike, and a "city bike", really more of a cross-bike with thin tires but a much more upright seating position that I use for daily transportation.

The mountain bike, with it's big, balloon tires, is a much heavier "push" than the others. The goal yesterday was to get in some steady, heavy, pushing. I kept the gears big so that I was able to keep pressure on the pedals the whole time. It's strength training, but outside riding in the fresh air along the lake.

I need the strength in my legs and arms, and especially I need the strength in my non-running muscles. Biking is an easy and fun way to build strength and balance.

Waddle on, friends.


Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Junk miles

ORN 7/19/04: 50 minutes, 5/1

Today was a "daily" run. The main goal was to move my legs some, maybe push the pace just a little bit, and get in some miles. In the old days, that kind of run would have been called "junk miles".

I didn't really have a goal in mind. There's a run I do along the lakefront that loops around. It's 4 miles or so - although in 5 years I've never measured it. It's my "I need to get out and run" loop. I know where I'm going to run, I just don't have any idea how far it is or how long it's going to take me to run it.

Yesterday's run went very well. I was surprised since I had gone 12 on Sunday and biked on Monday. My legs were tired but my turnover was good. I felt like I was moving along at - for me - a pretty decent pace.

But it's just perception, and that's all I wanted. I got it in. It felt good. I'm happy. What else could I want??

Waddle on, friends.


Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Recovery Ride

ORN 7/18/05: 60 minutes, road cycling.

I hate the term "cross-training". I know what it means, but I don't like how it sounds. If I'm training, I'm training. I prefer to think of it as "multi-sport" training. After all, the heart and lungs don't care what you do, it's just the specific muscles that get the different use.

So, when I cycle I don't think if it as cross-training - even though it is. In fact, when I cycle I don't think if it as training at all. I don't have ANYTHING on my road bike to tell me what I'm doing. No speedometer, no odometer, no cadence counter: nothing. When I'm riding, I just want to focus on the ride, not my time, cadence, and distance.

That's changed over the years. When I was doing triathlons I actually had TWO computers AND a heart-rate monitor on my bike. I never looked at the road, let alone the scenery. My eyes were glued to the data. NO MORE.

If there's something else that you enjoy doing: DO IT. The great thing about running is that it gives you the aerobic base to do almost anything else you want. So get a bike, buy some roller-blades, go for a swim, paddle a canoe - whatever you can. But have fun with it and the "training" effects will still be there.

Waddle on, friends.


Sunday, July 17, 2005

Beat the Heat

ORN 7/17/05: 12 miles, 4/2, 2:50

After the confusion yesterday I had to get in my long run today. Obviously, the group I would normally run with did their run yesterday so I was on my own. And it was HOT.

I started later than I had planned - after 11 AM - so the run was in the heat of the day. [temps high 80's/low 90's] That in and of itself doesn't matter that much. You've got to learn to run whatever the temps and getting in a long training run in the heat is great practice.

First things first, I loaded a hand-held bottle with straight Gatorade. There are several places along the path to buy Gatorade so I knew I could replace what I was drinking. I used 1/2 the bottle full-strength then filled it with water. After I finished that I bought a bottle of Gatorade and used that full-strength until it was 1/2 finished and then filled the bottle with water.

That works out to two full bottles of Gatorade and one full bottle of water [right?] or 60 ounces. My math skills aren't great but it comes down to about 20 ounces of liquid per hour, or a little less than 8 ounces every 20 minutes. For me, with my sweat rate that's about right. [I don't sweat nearly as much as some]

It's important to experiment with hydration. There's no magic formula and too much is just as bad as too little. You CAN beat the heat, you just need to take the time to figure out what you need.

Waddle on, friends.


Best Laid Plans

ORN: 7/16/05 : recovery

When I started this, I thought I'd be giving the readers a blow-by-blow, run-by-run account of my preparations for the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon. And to some extent, that's been true.

But, it's also been a HUGE help for me to be held accountable for my REAL training, not just the training I want to do or think I should be doing. Yesterday is the perfect example of something that seemed simple that just got away.

Because of the flight change I took an early flight home on Saturday morning. The plan was to get home, get changed, and get in the 12 mile run that was on the schedule. But once I was home, the hours slipped away and then suddenly the day had gone by and I never got out the door.

I'll get the run in today [Sunday]. And that's the point. Often we have to do what we can instead of doing what we want.

Waddle on, friends.


Saturday, July 16, 2005

Travel day

ORN: 7/15/05 : sitting in airport

I'm a "get to the airport early" guy. I hate feeling rushed. And these days, you just never know how long anything is going to take. So, I was there in plenty of time for my flight today.

But the flight was delayed for 2 hours, then 2 1/2, then 4, then cancelled.

I ended up going back to my son's house and spending another night with the grandkids. Not a bad result. But I never tied on my shoes either.

Waddle on, friends.


Friday, July 15, 2005

Singing in the Rain

ORN: 7/14/05: 40 min, 5/1, rolling hills, rain.

What a gift. Half-way through today's run in Arlington it started raining. A few drops at first, then more, then a DOWNPOUR. It was fantastic.

After the brutal heat and humidity it felt wonderful to just chug along in the rain. It makes me feel like a kid again. Summertime, rain, the smell of it, the feel, it's magic.

What a great day to be a runner!

Waddle on, friends.


Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Recovery day

ORN: 7/13/05

Just felt like I needed a day off. After yesterday's walk home I thought it was best to give myself a break. I'm going to do another long run on Saturday, so I'm trying to be careful to be well rested going into Saturday.

I think I'll run a half-marathon at the end of July as a "test run". I'd like to get a sense of how my marathon training is going so far.

Waddle on, friends.


Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Walking it off

ORN: 7/12/05: 3 miles 5/1, 1 mile walk

I used to live in the Washington, DC area but that was long before I was a runner. I remember the summers being hot [we played 3 outdoor concerts every week during my Army Band years] but in those days there always seemed to be enough beer around to cool me off.

Not today! The goal was a 4 mile run along the Potomac river. The trail goes past the airport and has some fantastic views of the monuments. And, if you're lucky, a plane will land or take off right over your head. I had my Garmin so I could be SURE that I was getting the 4 miles.

Everything went fine on the way out, although it did seem pretty hot to me. I turned around a 2 miles and noticed I was starting to get REALLY hot. OK, yes, I forgot to take ANYTHING to drink, but usually 4 miles is inside my window.

At mile 3.07 I was DONE. I tried to "jog" the downhills for awhile but even that didn't work. Eventually I just gave it up and walked back.

It happens. To me, to the pros, and it will happen to you. Tomorrow is another day. I'll need to get up and out earlier.

Waddle on, friends.


Run with my son

ORN: 7/11/05 : 40 minutes, 4/1

I'm out visiting my son, his wife, and their 12 week old twins, my grandchildren. Terry and I took some time away from the babies for a run around his neighborhood.

Some folks know about my son and I riding motorcycles cross-country and then running the Rock 'n' Roll marathon in San Diego a few years back. My son "forgot" to train. The ride was wonderful. His marathon experience was not great!

Running with him is just like being with any "running buddy". Somehow it's easier to talk about things that matter when you're moving. Not sure why, but I'm grateful for the time together.

The gifts that come from being a "runner", whatever that means, go way past physical health and weight. Life is just better as a runner.

Waddle on, friends.


Monday, July 11, 2005

Family Time

ORN: 7/10/05: 0, nothing, zero, null, nada, niente.

Earlier in my life I was a musician. Looking back I can see that I was also obsessed. Practicing wasn't just something I did to get better at my craft it was something that I did to avoid doing anything else. I decided very early on that running was going to be something I enjoyed, not something I obsessed over.

Yesterday being a runner took second place to being a father and grandfather. Could I have taken an easy run? Sure. But it would have meant pulling myself away from everything else.

Balance is an overused word but it's the best word I know. Balance. It's a kind of weightlessness. And if you find that point everything feels easy.

Waddle on, friends,


Sunday, July 10, 2005

Solo Long Run

ORN: 7/8/05; 60 minutes, city biking.

I make the distinction between "city" biking and getting out somewhere and actually going for a ride. About 30 minutes were on the lakefront path which is more like "read" riding but is still lots of stop and go.

Rode the old mountain bike just to push something a little heavier. Legs are still tired.

ORN: 7/9/05; 10 miles, 4/2 [2:17]

Even though there were plenty of people to run with I chose to run solo today. Some days the idea of running 10 miles alone is more than I can take. Some days, like yesterday, the idea of being able to run for 2 plus hours in peace inside my head is a real gift.

2 hours is the first major threshold in my marathon training. If you're new at this, it may be 1 hour. Emotionally it takes a lot out of me to do that first 2 hour run. And to be honest, I wasn't all that excited about it. I'd love to be able to participate in marathons and not have to do the training, but, it doesn't work that way.

So for me it's a matter of just putting my head down and moving forward. I used 4/2 because I'm much more comfortable at that ratio. I'll probably move to 5/1 for the next long run if I'm feeling fresh.

Managed to get through using only Gatorade. For me, for now, that's the best way to go.

Waddle on, friends.


Friday, July 08, 2005

Favorite Runs

ORN: 50 minutes, 6/1 [run/walk] "daily" pace.

We live about 2 blocks from the lakefront in Chicago so the vast majority of my runs are done along the lakefront path. Nearly all of it is on crushed stone and makes for very comfortable running.

I've got a couple of FAVORITE loops and out-and-backs and yesterday I got to run one of them. It starts out headed south along the East path [closest to the lake] which has just been completely redone. The expanse of the lake and the view of the city from the north is something I never get tired of.

It loops back on the West path through Lincoln Park. There, it's almost like you've been transported to a rural area where dogs are chasing balls, frisbies are in the air, and people are just out for a stroll.

I think it's important to find "favorite" runs wherever you are. These are the places and distances that you know so well you could run them in your sleep. For me, there's a great comfort - like visiting and old friend - in a familiar path.

Waddle on, friends.


PS: I can't reply directly to comments posted on the Blog because they come to me as "annonymous". But in response to a question from yesterday, yes, Coach Jenny and Wife Jenny are the same person.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Active Recovery

ORN: Walking around and a short bike ride.

I had a good friend that used to time his rest days, the same way he'd time his training days. He would put his feet up and "rest" for whatever time was scheduled for that day. Nothing could move him. When he rested, he RESTED. I've never been able to quite get to that point.

My legs are tired, still. My guess is that it's from the cumulative effect of biking so many miles on Sunday and then running hard on Monday. Today will be a decision day. I've got to run 10 miles on Saturday [4/2] and will need to go into that fresh. Most likely I'll get out today for an easy run, just to get the blood flowing, and then take tomorrow off.

The point is that the indecision is an important part of the training program. No schedule can tell you how you are going to feel. You can't just "stick" to a schedule no matter what. You've always got to be prepared to adjust.

Waddle on, friends.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Mix and Match

ORN: 5 mile bike/40 minute run [4/1 run/walk] /5 mile bike.

I'm the 'celebrity coach" with my wife Jenny's Chicago Endurance Sports "Learn to Run" training program. Actually, I guess I'm the celebrity coach for all the other programs too. Mostly, it's a chance to me to run and talk to folks.

The Learn to Run program is - in some ways - the most fun. These are nealy all people who are just starting out on their active lifestyle. Every new distance is a personal best. With new runners you never hear someone say that they "ONLY" ran 5 miles.

The biking down, doing the run, biking back is a great way to warm-up and cool down. This is city cycling, not down-on-the-drops road cycling, so it works pretty well to just get the blood moving. It's also a good way to stretch out the hamstrings after an easy run.

Speaking of cycling: If you're not watching the Tour de France, I would highly recommend that you do. What Lance Armstrong is doing may/will never be done again. It's an amazing accomplishment.

Waddle on, friends.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Weekend Update

Well, I said it would be sort of semi-daily. I hope everyone had a nice July 4th weekend, even those of you who don't celebrate it with the Americans.

ORN Sunday: 25 mile bike ride in the morning. 10 mile bike ride in the evening. The biking really helps me work on aerobic stamina without putting the stress on my joints. Plus, I like biking so it doesn't feel like cross-training.

ORN Monday: 4 mile tempo run. Jenny, my mom and dad, and I participated in a small, local "4 on the 4th" race. It was a lot of fun. It's been a long time since I did a race with 200 people. Back to my own running roots.

The goal was to keep a steady but somewhat uncomfortable pace and try to finish in under 45 minutes. It was a double-loop course with one pretty long hill [which we did twice in each direction] but I managed to finish in 43:50. A good effort, especially on very tired legs.

Waddle on, friends

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Easy Day

ORN: 55 minutes, easy 4/2. I always start with a 5 minute warm-up walk, and finish with AT LEAST a 5 minute cool down.

Too many runners just walk out there door - or hop out of their car - and start running. Worse, they'll throw their leg up on something and pretend to stretch! OUCH!! Nothing good comes from stretching a cold muscle. But walking to warm up? It's a VERY good thing.

Many of the joint-type injuries that affect runners are simply caused by not giving all the joint-lubricating juices a chance to really get flowing. It's kinda like starting your car and then racing your engine before the oil has gotten warmed-up. You will do damage to your engine. You WILL do damge to your joints.

So, for me, 55 minutes breaks down to 5 minutes warm-up, 45 minute run/walk 4/2, 5 minute cool down. Try it. You'll like it. The investment in warming up and cooling down pays huge dividends.

Waddle on, friends.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Day off

ORN: I ended up taking the day completely off yesterday. I was dressed, shoes on, ready to head out the door [even though my legs were feeling dead] when I asked Coach Jenny what she thought. REST! was the answer.

It's not easy for me to "miss" days. When I was first starting out I was convinced that if I missed a day I would lose all the fitness that I had gained. No doubt that it was an obsession.

I think it's easy, though, for some of us who have started later in life to panic about slipping backwards. It's hard to remember that the fitness gains we make don't go away overnight. It's also hard to remember that the REAL strength and endurance comes when our body is resting and recovering from the training.

Waddle on, friends.