Monday, December 29, 2008

Running throught the Holidays

The holidays always present challenges to my running plans. Winter weather, travel, eating and drinking, family fun, etc., conspire to undermine both my motivation to run and my time for running. And rightly so. It is Christmas! As usual, Sue and I drove to visit my sister Georgeann, bro-in-law Phil, and niece Kathryn, in Millburn, New Jersey. My brother Brian and his wife Jo joined us, so Phil and Georgeann had a house full. We had a great time. Phil and Sue, the chefs of the family) prepared some wonderful food (lobster, prime rib, steak, etc.), and we ate way too much every day.
Here I am with my two of my new friends, shortly before...

...they used their Lobster Mind Control to make me attack Sue! We discovered that the only defense is boiling them in water, then cracking them open and dipping them in butter.

Despite all of the fun and food, I did get my running done. After a tough 20 miles in the slush on Sunday the 21st, Monday was a recovery day, with a 6 miler in the morning and a 4 miler in the afternoon. The weather was much better, but there was still patches of ice on the roads to provide that occasional 'Oops!' moment.
Tuesday, still not ideal conditions, I did my tempo run which consisted of four warm-up miles at roughly 8:00/mile pace, followed by 5 miles at roughly 6:40, followed by another slower mile. On Christmas Eve, all I could manage was a very slow (8:30 pace) 11.3 miles on a particularly hilly route. This was not one of my better efforts, and I was not satisfied with it. So, on Christmas day, I tried to make up for it with 16.43 miles, also very hilly, averaging a 7:53 pace. Running on Christmas was eerie. Suddenly, after dodging all the traffic and hubbub of the pre-holiday frenzy, the streets were empty. The stores closed and dark. Even the gas stations were closed. I ran 16 miles through usually busy residential and shopping districts, and saw almost no one. There were a few people walking their dogs, and I did pass another runner,...that's about all. Friday was a simply 7.5 miler, again mostly hilly, but at a moderate pace. My legs were feeling the effects of all the miles and hills.
We drove back to Cleveland on Saturday. When we arrived and I opened the garage door, I noticed some things out of place. I went in the house, and there were shoes that did not belong to Sue and I, on the floor by the door. We heard noise from upstairs and went up to find that my son Alex and his girlfriend Kalena had flown in from Seattle to surprise us. My sister-in-law Sharon had sent them tickets as a Christmas present, and they all kept it a big secret from us. We are very happy to have them staying with us through New Years day. Once we got unloaded and settled in, I did sneak in a 7 mile run before the day was done.
On Sunday, I was targeting twenty miles. I was going to run an early 7 miles, then join the SERC group at 8:00 AM for another 12 miles, then tag on a last mile alone, but a freaky rain storm with 30 mile per hour winds blew through. I ended up waiting it out and only got in 5 miles before meeting up with the SERC group. I did a little over 18 for the day, and kept the pace under 8:00/min so I didn't feel too bad about the missing mile or so. My total for the week was just over 80 miles.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter = Cold, Dark Training Runs

It seems that the weather, my work schedule, and the short days of winter have conspired to try my dedication to my training plan. I am having to run most of my miles in the dark, and in the snow, or sleet, or rain. I did manage 78 miles this week, but I did not hit the 82 miles in the plan. Further, I have consistently failed to hit my target paces. I 'll keep slogging through it and hope that I can turn that around. How long until Spring?

Monday: My first double, with 6 miles in the dark early morning followed by 4 miles after work. Running twice a day is difficult, considering how early I start work. There are more of these in the plan. My life gets better and better.

Tuesday: Ten miles at the track in the snow in the dark, with 10 x 100 sprints. Once again, I couldn't see the lane lines. To run the 100's, I ran onto the football field where I could at least estimate 100 yards. Total fun. Please sir, may I have another.

Wednesday: 14 miles after work in the dark, on the roads in Solon and North Chagrin Reservation.

Thursday: 7 miles around Independence at lunch, noteworthy in that this run was not in the dark.

Friday: 10 miles, mostly on the tow path in the rain. My allegedly 'weather tight' Nike Trail Pegasus GTX completely filled with water after two miles. Pleasant sensation.

Saturday: 7 miles around Solon in the very early (do I need to mention 'dark'?) morning before driving to New Jersey.

Sunday: 20 very early, dark, wet, sloggy, slushy, slow miles on the roads of Short Hills, New Jersey. I was not surprised when I checked my Garmin to find that my average pace was 8:50. I admit it was not my best effort for a long run, but I don't take all of the blame. My shoes were filled with water and felt like they weighed a couple of pounds each. The roads were sloppy with slush and snow and ice.

Total Miles: 78 miles


Nike Pegasus Trail GTX Review Update: Despite the GoreTex uppers and sealed tongues, these shoes were ineffective at keeping my feet dry in bad conditions. Remarkably, they are very effective at collecting and holding ice water. Maybe a mistake was made and they sent me the Nike Pegasus Waterbuckets. Within the first mile, they became waterlogged and heavy...picture running with little aquariums filled with ice water strapped to your feet. I am disappointed, because I was counting on them to get me through the bad weather. I guess I should have spent the additional money and bought another pair of Pearl Izumi GTX. They were not great road shoes, and they wore-out quickly, but they were much more effective at keeping my feet dry.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Making Pfitzinger Pfitz My Schedule

Although I have not been pfaithfully pfollowing Pfitzinger, I have adapted the plan to pfitz my schedule. I am into the 7th week of the plan, and the mileage is ramping up. This week was the highest total so far, 77 miles, and I made it with a whopping 1/4 of a mile to spare. From here through mid-March, the plan averages 84 miles per week, with some 90+ mile weeks. Those weeks would be, of course, right through the heart of the winter here in the snow belt of northeast Ohio. Right through the shortest days of the year, meaning many long runs in the dark, in the snow, in the frigid cold. Yeah. That'll be nice. Maybe I can carry a backpack full of paving stones and wear my bedrom slippers, so that it will be more challenging.

The Training Week In Review
Monday and Wednesday were not noteworthy, just moderately paced, hilly, 8 mile runs. Tuesday was supposed to be track day, but my schedule would not allow it, so I did a lunch intervals session on the streets of Independence. The first two miles were hilly, mostly of the 'up' variety, and my 6:17 and 6:19 times reflect that. My last mile was over rolling hills, but with a nice flat to slight downhill over the last half, which allowed me a time of 5:59. With warm-up and recovery, and cool-down, the total was 7 miles.
I had planned to run at lunch on Thursday, but a meeting prevented that. I got home from work, changed and hit the road in Solon. I ran our usual Sunday long run route, but ran it in the opposite direction. I finished with 13.47 miles at a 7:53 pace. (I want to digress momentarily on the topic of safety when running at night on the street. I wear very bright LED headlamp, a very bright flashing LED red light on my back, a reflective vest, a neon green hat...oh, and a pair of neon pink gloves. Further, unlike the group runs where we literally are running on the streets, I try to use the sidewalks where ever they actually exist and are passable, that is, not covered with snow and/or ice. When running on the street, I stay as far to the edge as possible, and always watch oncoming traffic for inattentive or obnoxious drivers who run me off the road. There are a few on every run.)
Saturday was a fun romp through the woods, as usual, but with the bonus of trying out a new pair of shoes. I purchased a pair of Nike Air Pegasus +25 GTX trail shoes. They are based on the classic Pegasus model, with a couple of enhancements. They have GorTex uppers and sealed tongues to keep out some of the moisture. Also, the soles are slightly heavier and more rigid that the standard Pegasus, but not nearly as heavy and rigid as most other trail shoes. I've never owned true trail shoes, preferring to keep the light weight and flexibility of my road shoes and give up the extra protection trail shoes provide. My poor feet finally convinced my brain that they were getting too cold and wet and beat-up, so I compromised and bought trail shoes that were born as road shoes, and retain their road shoe soles [sic]. The shoes were everything I had hoped they would be...not too heavy or clunky, but still true trail shoes so my ten toes were safe and dry, and happy.

Sunday, I put in an early 6 miles before catching the group in Solon just as they were ready to start at 8:00 AM. I ran 12 miles with the group, spending varying amounts of time running with Dave, Paul, Jeff T., Steve Hawthorne (Doesn't Steve look remarkably like one of those toes?), Jeff U., Mark G., Tim H., and Steve G. I added another 1.5 miles running home, then showered, changed, and rejoined the group for breakfast at the bagel shop in Solon. A local chiropractor/orthopedic specialist arranged to meet with us there to give free massages. Of course, he was also pitching his services and a line of nutritional supplements, but he was mostly low-key about it all. I didn't bother with him, but it was funny to see the looks on the faces of runners who sat in the massage chair while he worked them over. Here is Mark, looking like he's enjoying this device in a way that should have been reserved for a very private session.

Friday, December 5, 2008

World's Biggest Runners Mag Takes Second Me

It was just a few week ago that I posted a detailed photo instructional on how to 'winterize' a pair of shoes for $1.29. (Spin the mouse wheel a few times and you'll see it further down on this page.) I stated explicitly that the idea for these shoe modification had been around for a while; I did not invent the 'screw shoe'. I simply wrote and illustrated a simply tutorial based on my experience in making these modifications and running in the modified shoes.
Soooo...Mailman Mike's sub (Mike broke his leg) delivered my January 2009 edition of Runner's World yesterday. While eating dinner, I paged through it. I reached page 50, and there it was. A full page photo of a 'screw shoe' and a little 'How To' article.
My initial reaction was a blend of "I scooped RW. Go me!" and " everyone will think I stole the idea for my blog entry from them."
After reading the article, I had a different reaction. In my best attempt to objectively compare the article to my blog entry, I have to say...I kicked RW's ass with my screw shoe story. Better photos, more informative instructions, actual recommendations about when and where to run in this shoe based on personal experience, and here's the kicker,... I actually bothered to make it amusing.
I recognize that I cannot be totally objective about this, so I would like your help. Please read my article, and the one in Runner's World. You can click on the image to the left for an larger version which you can read. If you think RW's article is better(it's not), please leave a comment and tell me so (don't). If you think my witty and informative article is superior in every way (it is), please leave a comment and tell me so (use lots of superlatives.)