Thursday, August 31, 2006

Truly Life and Death

I haven't run since last Saturday. And I may not for several days.

Life has intervened. Life and death, actually.

Jenny's father lost his battle with cancer late last night. It's much better for him, but still very sad for the family.

And, yesterday, my son and his wife had their 3rd child. So, I'm a grandpa again. Baby Ray I was lucky enough to be there and see the baby just minutes after he was born.

So, for a while, running will have to take a back seat to living.


Saturday, August 26, 2006

Bummer, dude!

The good news about being someone who is recognized by other runners is that it's fun to meet people and chat. The BAD news is that everyone knows what kind of run I'm having and there's no way to embellish the truth. To the young man that I met near the end of this run - thank you for boosting my spirit at a time when I desperately needed it.

I am NOT having a good training season with my long runs. The daily runs are fine. Good actually. I've been enjoying my running more than I have in years. But the long runs have - well - they have just SUCKED. And today was no exception.

The schedule called for 16 miles. I'd done 14 just 10 days earlier [and had fallen apart at about 12] and had been dancing around the 30 mile-week threshold for a while. But, with my travel schedule going into full swing this week I really needed to get it in.

I ran with Jenny's training group. We were doing R4/W2's and everything started off just fine. At a bathroom break, one guy and I decided to keep moving and pick up the pace just a little. We made it to the turn-around and were headed back when one of the other runners joined us. Soon, those two took off and I was one my own.

Somewhere around mile 13 things began to go bad. I was hungry - which is unusual for me on a run - my feet were killing me [I was experimenting with a different "marathon" shoe. I can't tell you the brand, but for ME they will never work] - I got behind in my hydration early and wasn't catching up - I forgot to stop and buy some more Gatorade even though I had the money in my pocket - and was generally getting down on the whole experience.

Around mile 14 I new it was over. Not just sort of over. OVER. I tried going to R3/W2 - didn't work. I tried just "running to the next sign post" - didn't work. I tried running behind people to pick up their pace. DIDN'T WORK.

So, at that point it's a death march. I've been there before. I know the feeling. I don't like it. But I know it.

Analysis: Didn't eat enough breakfast. Wrong shoes. Didn't hydrate early and often. Went out too fast. Didn't pay attention. The good news is that I made ALL of those mistakes on a TRAINING run, not in the event.


ORN: 16 miles. R4/W2 for 14. Walk for 2. 4 hours, 7 minutes.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

After the Storm

For those of you who are REALLY paying attention, this Blog topic will probably end up in Runner's World. After 10 years of writing columns I've got a pretty good feel for when an experience is a "column". This morning was.

Living in Chicago - and living a block or so off the lake - I get to see some interesting weather. We have the "cooler by the lake" phenomenon in the summer and "warmer by the lake" in winter. In the summers we also have the nearly daily possibility of afternoon thunderstorm's. We don't have them every day, but you're never surprised when you get hit by a stray cloud burst.

Today, though, the storm came in the morning. It was one of those "WAKE UP" thunderstorms where all you want to do is stay under the covers and listen to the rain falling outside. Which, as it turns out, is exactly what I did.

I needed to get in my training, so the instant the storm seemed to have passed I was out the door. The skies were still threatening, but the rain had stopped.

On my 5 mile loop I go past the North Avenue Beach. This time of year it is usually packed with families enjoying a day on the lake, or young people working on the perfect tan, or old people enjoying being out in the sun. And I run past the beach volleyball area which is nearly always a helter-skelter of activity.

This morning though, it was as if I was one of the last people left in the city. As if some strange disease had come through and just wiped out the population. I had the path to myself. The beach was empty. The volleyball post stood in the sand almost like grave markers.

I ran without all the gimmicks. No iPod. No Speed Distance Monitor. No GPS. Just an old pair of shoes that I could afford to get wet.

It was one of the most deeply spiritual runs I have had in a long, long time. These are the mornings I run for. And you never know when one is going to happen.


ORN: 5 miles, 5/1, 57 minutes.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Working Backwards

I've been getting in, for me, a lot of miles. And as I've been saying I've got to be careful about miles and weeks and keeping track. I'm scheduled to go 16 this Saturday, so working backwards I've got to make sure I don't get too many miles in over the 7 day period.

I did a relatively easy 3 today, with the iPod/Speed Distance Monitor. The ONLY drawback of the foot-pod over GPS is that it can't distinguish different run/walk intervals. So, if it's calibrated for 5/1 it's OFF for 4/2 or 10/1.

But, it was fun. I set it for 5 kilometers and so the nice lady kept coming on ever "K" to tell me how far I'd gone.


ORN: 5K, 5/1, 37 minutes.

Monday, August 21, 2006

7 days make a week

I learned the hard way that keeping track of your mileage in a logbook is a dangerous way to go. If you go Sunday - Saturday you can miss adding long runs on different weekends. If you go Monday-Sunday you're MORE likely to keep all your long runs on the correct week.

But, if you're like me, and have to do a long run in the middle of the week it can get messy. Monday-Sunday of last week I ran 30 miles. OK. But, Tuesday-Monday I ran 32. My body doesn't know what day it is, it only knows that the miles are piling up.

And, if I'm not careful about tomorrow, I could end up having a 35 mile "week" of 7 consecutive days. I'm not sure I'm ready for a 35 mile week yet.

So, I'm reminding myself to take a step back a take a longer look at mileage. And you too!!

ORN: 5 miles, 61 minutes, R5/W1

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Saturday on the Path

I had a chance to join one of Jenny's training groups for their "cut back" run today. Since I had already run 22 miles this week I was just trying to get in an easy 8 miles.

The group was actually a bit too fast for me so I ended up running on my own a lot. On the weekends in Chicago on the lakefront path, though, you're never really alone. It was fun to see so of the people who ran the Classic last weekend out there training.

My legs are tired, but not trashed. I may try to sneak in a few miles tomorrow to get the week's mileage up over 30.

ORN: 8 miles, R4/W2, 1 hour, 38 minutes.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Not tonight

August 17, 2006

I was supposed to run the Nike RunHit Remix 5 mile race tonight, but it didn't happen. It didn't even come CLOSE to happening. The race STARTED at 9 PM, which is getting close to my bedtime. I wouldn't have finished until 10:15 or so which is REAL close to my bedtime.

PLUS, my legs were wasted from the 14 miler the day before, I had been biking all over the city, and - to be honest - I just didn't want to go. So I didn't.

It's a bigger issue, but I'm trying to feel less and less pressure to "do things". This was a good start.

ORN: 0

August 18, 2006

We'll be doing a medium long run tomorrow, 8 - 10 miles, so I'm going to take another day off.

ORN: 0

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Mid Week Long Run

I am WAY off the schedule, but I'm getting in the runs. It's been three weeks since my last long run. I ran 3 miles Monday and 5 yesterday - not exactly the best pre-long-run plan. But, I had no choice.

So I strapped on the iPod [without the sensor], turned on the Garmin GPS machine, and headed out the door. It was actually a beautiful day for a run. I felt pretty good most of the time, and I got it in! That's all that matters.

ORN: 14 miles, R4/W2, 3 hours, 30 minutes [one mile cool down walk at the end]

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Back to Normal

Time waits for no man they say. And neither does training.

It felt good to get back on the lakefront to run a "normal" run. No pressure. Just a run.

I did use the iPod and it was COOL. You can relax and just wait until the nice lady tells you it's time to turn around.

ORN: 5 miles, R5/W1, 60 minutes

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Morning After

What a day yesteday was. This year's LaSalle Bank Chicago Distance Classic was the biggest and the BEST ever. Nearly 9,500 people registered for the race, it was a beautiful Sunday morning in the city, and the race looked and felt better than it ever has.

But today, it's back at it. I trained with the Nike "Run Hit Remix" team that Jenny is coaching. It wasn't pretty, but I got it in.

ORN: 3 miles, R5/W1, 45 minutes.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Race Weekend

Our race weekends are almost like family reunions. In fact, this one WAS sort of a familty reunion. My mom, dad, brother, sister-in-law, niece, nephew, and cousins were all at the event.

But there was also the JBR extended family there. Sharon and Paul stopped by to say hello and commented on my "Better than Nothing" run. A BTN run is when you sneak in SOMETHING when you could possibly do nothing. Little did THEY know that on Saturday morning I had done JUST that. I quick and dirty 3 mile BTN run before the expo opened.

I'm not a morning runner, but I had no choice. So I was "getting it done" at 6 AM. And the lakefront path was BUSY. What's the matter with people??

Anyway, 3 miles was all I had time to do.

ORN: 3 miles, R5/W1, 36 minutes. BTN

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Change of Plans

I had planned to do a long run today. This being "pre-race" week there's not going to be time to do much running at all over the next few days, let alone a long run. I need to move up to about 3 1/2 hours and that was the plan.

The alarm went off. I turned over, turned it off, and went back to sleep. It was one of those days.

I did get out for a 5 mile "Planned Marathon Pace" run, so I didn't bag the day all together, but I certainly didn't get in the 14 miles or so that I was looking to do.

The long run will have to wait until next week. At this point I've been doing the long runs every 3 weeks, and it seems to be working.

ORN: 5 miles, PMP, R5/W1, 57 minutes

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Just a little biking

The plan is to do a long run tomorrow, so I just got in a little bit of "city biking" to keep my legs loose.

I'm feeing pretty tired. I think it's just everything catching up with me. Plus, this being "race week" there's A LOT going on. It's hard to stay focused.

ORN: 0 running. 30 minutes of biking

Monday, August 07, 2006

I'm hooked

I can't believe it myself.

Today, I CHOSE to put on the Nike/iPod shoes and go for a run because I WANTED to hear the little voice come on and say "one mile complete" and "half way" and finally "400 meters to go".

The only glitch in the system - and there's no way to resolve this with a foot pod - is that it can't adjust to different run/walk ratios. So, if you get it calibrated for - say - a run 10/walk 1 sequence then it's not calibrated correctly if you do a 5/1. But, it's close enough to use.

So, I did an "out-and-back" heading north just so that I could turn around when the voice told me that I was half way done.

VERY cool.

ORN: 5 miles, R5/W1, 59 minutes

Riding, Running, Racing, Running

WHEW! I've got a LOT of catching up to do.

July 27, 28, 29, 2006: Kyle Petty Charity Ride

Was THIS something? 200 motorcycles riding cross country to raise money for the Victory Junction Gang Camp. Jenny's in that photo somewhere. So is Harry Gant - for you old NASCAR fans.

We joined up with them in Springfield, IL and rode to Cininnati. It was WILD. Like being part of a rock star's entourage. We had police escorts and HUGE crowds everywhere we went.

ORN: July 29, 45 minutes in Cincinnati.

July 29 - August 1, 2006: Back Roads Ride

Since we had the motorcycles out we figured we might was well sneak in a couple of days of riding. We headed across Virginia and up through Pennsylvania then head west back home. Other than the fact that it was about 100 degrees out, it was a great ride. We found some fantastic old 2-lane roads. Quiet, peaceful, and fun to ride.

ORN: July 31, 50 minutes in Wilkes-Barre, PA

August 2, 3: Home

ORN: Aug 2: It was just WAY too hot to run outside, so I retreated to the treadmill. Got in 4 miles in a comfortable 10/1

ORN: Aug 3: I was able to get earlier in the day before it got STUPID hot. Got in a nice 5 mile run [R4/W2] along the lakefront.

August 4, 5: Because the CDC was moved to the 2nd weekend in August this year, I was able to get to Mid-Ohio to catch a couple of days of the motorcycles races there. For me, it's as much fun to see what people ride TO the track as it is to see what's going AROUND the track.

I had hoped to run, but it just didn't happen. Too many distrations!

August 6: Home again

ORN: 5 miles on the lakefront. R5/W1 using the Nike iPod. It's more fun than I want to admit having someone come into your headphones and say "2 miles left".

All in all it was a tough week or so to train. And, it being in the middle of the marathon training sequence, I'm a little concerned that I'm getting WAY to far off the schedule. I did manage to get in some runs, but the quality wasn't there.

But, you can't really "go back" and pick up what you missed. I'm just going to have to do my best to stay more consistent from here on out.