September 29, 2005

ending a week of flab

Today's run marked the end of a week of slacking off. OK, maybe not the absolute end, but an end anyway.

As noted previously, I didn't do the full 11 miles last Saturday, and I had missed the prior Wednesday and Friday runs before that. This last Monday was no winner either. Instead of my planned five, I did two. I haven't gone so short in a couple of months. Some athlete huh?

But today's run was perhaps the hardest run I've had since before the marathon. I was coughing continually, couldn't quite get my breath, and I never felt like I warmed up completely. My IT band syndrome was acting up a bit. It was hard to find my rhythm and I was, in short, in misery.

Maybe it's a psychosomatic thing. I didn't want to run today; I had too much else to do. But out I went, feeling rushed and pressured. I stretched before and after - but perhaps not enough. I didn't do my planned seven either; I looked at the new route (I've recently moved, remember) and decided 6.3 would have to do today.

I nearly quit at 3 miles. I made it up to Prospect Park and got all the way down to the far end when the constant coughing (along with difficulty bringing anything up) took its toll. I began having dry heaves. I quite the run right then, mentally. I actually walked out of the park and headed for the subway. I was within sight of the B train stop when I turned around and walked back into the park. The short walk had helped, I guess.

I walked several times during this run, but I DID finish the run as planned, ticking off every block I passed on the way home.

I was not a happy runner.

September 24, 2005

Fifth Avenue Mile Success!

Yesterday, I posted that I wanted to try for a 9 minute mile, though a 9:15 would be more likely. Well, here's what happened....

(Wayne's-world dissolving flashback effect here)

Not realizing there'd be a baggage check, I went to the race with nothing but what I could carry while I ran. Which means, considering I'd be trying to go pretty fast, I carried very little. My runner's wallet in my left pocket, my number on my shirt, a bottle of water in my hand, and my Nano on my left arm. This, by the way, was the first time I attempted to run with music. More about that later.

I got off the subway at 59th street and Lex, stretched out a bit, and put in a warm-up mile running up to 80th street and over to fifth ave. Along the way, I tried out listening to music as I ran, though with the volume not too loud; I didn't want to become road-grease due to a taxi I didn't hear. The Nano turns out to be pretty easy to use in it's OEM armband holster, and very secure. I am impressed by the armband - it's not elastic, for once, but rather a soft leather-like material and has dots of velcro for adjustment. If you don't like it too tight, it won't be.

Got to the staging area and found it aswarm with runners, with the heat before mine about ready to line up at the starting line (this would be women 30-39). I chatted with a few people and kept an eye out for people I knew, but didn't see anyone. People were really curious about that Nano, tho! I had the Nano set on my running mix and was really grooving as I ran short keep-warm-keep-loose stints up fifth ave and back to the starting line.

The weather could not have been more perfect! Let me repeat that because it's so important: the weather. could NOT. have been. more perfect! Cloudless, 70-degrees, fresh air. My lungs were cooperating and the pain in my legs from my happy/disastrous Monday run had subsided. I felt I stood a good chance at reaching, maybe even cracking, that 9:00 mile. Consider that my times are usually just about double that of the winners and that the winners today would be running 4:30 miles (not counting the pro athletes, of course). So I figured a 9 wasn't asking too much of Providence.

At T-minus-5, men 30-34 lined up. It is hard to believe that I'm already reaching the upper limit of some of these arbitrary age groups, but there it is. There were a LOT of us ready to race - and a lot of local elites were in that pack. At two minutes to go, I swallowed the last of my water and added my empty to a rather organic pile that was a good start at being Fresh Kills II. One minute to go and the back of the pack was hopping with nervous energy. As usual, the starting line leaders were almost motionless, particularly at the 30-second mark - totally poised to fly into full speed the moment the hammer is dropped.

At long last, the horn sounded and off we went! With such a large pack, we couldn't all get going at once, of course, so it was a good five seconds before I got to (and over) the starting line, but I was at least able to start at a good pace. I had gotten my Nano going on a pretty good song, but before 15 seconds had passed, I reached up and hit pause - I simply wasn't able to find my rhythm with the music going - I needed to hear my own breathing. Inspire in three, expire in two.

As I ramped up my pace bit by bit, the pack ahead of me surged away and I was quickly left with some breathing room, though still with lots of runners on either side. Suddenly, a thin, very bright white line flashed by beneath my feet. What? That couldn't be a quarter-mile mark, could it? Glancing up, I saw the first split, indeed at a quarter-mile: 1:58.

WHAT?!?!?! Are they timing this thing on the fifths of a mile? Are their timers off? If that was my quarter-mile split, the clock was off. Period. How disappointing to know that.

Pound pound pound along. The only uphill of the course (and a mild one at that) is the prominent feature of the second quarter. I slowed my pace only the slightest, barest bit, choosing to maintain my breathing rhythm rather than get into the dangerous territory of 2-in, 2-out - which quickly leads to coughing, which in turn results in a more sluggish pace.

Defeating the hill, here comes the half-mile mark and another clock: 3:59. Holy shit! What's going on here?

The third quarter is a leg-stretching pleasant downhill and everyone's pace ramped up another notch. I felt my footstrike settle into a beautiful, perfect heel-toe (rare for me) and my legs felt like they were born to be right there, right then. I zipped by another clock and didn't quite see it. Something about a --:39. Whatever. I was too focused on what I could see just a quarter-mile down the road - a big arch of blue-and-white balloons!

Passed a very helpful little sign: 200 Meters To Go. Yippee, Skip, cuz I's gettin' TIR'D. There's the finish and there's the clock and...

POW!! I cross the finish line at (officially) 7:43! (Take off that first five seconds and I ran that mile in 7:38!) (Forgive the obsession with exclamation points, but I am absolutely floored by the results.)

I cannot emphasize how stunned and elated I am that not only did I achieve my 9 minute mile, I WASTED it. Not only did I crack 8, I SHATTERED it!

Now I'm thinking...what pace could I sustain for two miles? Three? Could my next 5K reace perhaps be at a 9-minute average pace?

These are the challenges that us going, right runners?

As a cool-down, I did a loop of Central Park (see today's long run entry) and feel that I really had a good workout today. As I finished up, I joined the spectators for the last heats, one of which featured my friend Crista Hartmann, a Mercury Master, who also broke a 9-minute mile. Not half bad for a 63 year old. She kicks ass!

It was very exciting watching the last four heats of invited women, invited men, professional women, and professional men. The men's pro heat was particularly astounding, as favorite Alan Webb led for most of the race, quite solidly for the middle two quarters, but was overtaken ("spanked", I think, is the word), by Australia's Craig Mottram. It was an astounding race and I had a vantage point that let me see the ESPN commentator's live motorcycle-mounted shot as the race progressed.

Next race: Staten Island Half. See you there!

recovering from injury - good long run

Okay. So Monday's run put me out of commission for four days. I skipped Wednesday and Friday's workouts, but I think in some strange way resting up and concentrating on stretching for the week helped me out at the Fifth Avenue Mile (see other post).

Today I did 8.5 of the planned eleven. I warmed up for a mile headed uptown, did the Fifth Avenue Mile (astounding run!), and did the Central Park Loop.

I brought along my iPod Nano, which was a recent purchase because THAT is the player I've absolutely been waiting for. The little guy performs magnificently and is easy to manipulate on the go. I like being able to see what I'm playing and have control over playlists, something not possible with the Shuffle. And the OEM armband works quite well, too. I brought some cheap earbuds and they stayed put, especially once I'd knotted my cord in half and pinned it to my shirt at one corner of my racing number. I didn't listen to the music during the race, but I did listen the rest of the time. I really need to rethink some of my running music choices, and need to separate the list out into three lists: warmup, run, cooldown.

Anyway, the warmup jog up to 80th street was not without drama. At one point, after watching a cabbie consciously DECIDE to run a light to get his precious left-hand turn in, I pounded on his hood as I went by. He practically hopped out of his car though his window - or at least half of him - and started cursing me out. Fuck him. I yelled right back about the red light he'd run. I didn't stop, so it wasn't a very long argument.

The park loop was lovely today. I relaxed into a good rhythm and let my legs take me around. I walked briefly to hydrate a couple of times, but other than that, a good run. I could tell by the end, however, that I was right in consciously deciding to not go the full 11 miles today. Didn't want to court more injurty.

My shower today felt like a sweet, sweet reward. Healthcare done right, and all that.

BTW, upon arriving at home, I met my upstairs neighbor, Mark, and he inquired about the running, since I was wearing the race t-shirt. We got to chatting and it turns out that not only does he WORK for NYRR (with the kids' outreach programs), but he has also ALREADY QUALIFIED for Boston! He looked a little worried there and said something about plantar fasciitus. I asked him if he knew about the golf ball trick. He didn' I described how I rolled the golf ball under my foot to treat my own bout of plantar fasciitus while training for the marathon. I hope he gives it a shot. Could be something as simple as that will get him back in his running shoes. Maybe we could run together some time.

September 23, 2005

another skipped run

Well, I skipped today's run, too. Not that my legs couldn't have taken it, but I was up and out the door at 6:30 a.m. and didn't get home 'til after 8 p.m. and I want to be in bed in another half-hour to get plenty of sleep for tomorrow's Fifth Avenue Mile. I figure after four days off - and with the pain all gone today - my legs should pump out a pretty good mile time tomorrow. Considering I did a 5K at 9:30 miles, I believe I can do a mile in 9:15. If I were having an insanely good day tomorrow, perhaps a 9:00 could be remotely achievable, but I'll definitely be proud of myself with a 9:15.

Went down to Chelsea Piers this morning, to await Bryan's arrival at pier 59 via the Hudson River at 8:00. No Bryan. I was there 'til 8:30 and was scanning the river for an hour previously. Didn't see a swimmer, handcuffed or otherwise, nor did I see a kayak escort. What happened?

September 21, 2005


Well, today's visit with the Marathon Doc wasn't a good one. He had a smirk pasted on his face most of the time.

He asked me how I'm doing.

"Well, the knees seem OK these days, nothing terrible there that consistent stretching won't cure, but..." and I proceed to detail the pains I've been feeling since Monday's "recovery" run.

Oh, yes, boys and girls. Monday's run absolutely killed me. Sure, it was an easy one at the time, but then about two hours later - LOCKDOWN. For the last 48 hours, I've barely been able to walk; my quads feel like rusty cables and my left foot has a pain the top of it. I showed the doc where that pain was, how I could press on it and not feel it, but if I walked around...

He looked at me for a second then guessed (accurately) that I'd tied my shoes tighter or relaced them in a different way. Guilty! I thought I was helping with heel stability; turns out I should leave 'em loose like my feet like 'em and, basically, not fucking with a good thing. So that will resolve at some point.

Then the doctor has my lay down, puts two fingers on either side about mid-thigh and sqeezed. YIKES! Doc had a big grin at this point. "You have runner's legs... your quads are week, your hamstrings especially so..." He detailed out that I'm to do five pound hamstring curls every day for 50 reps. This will be good, because doing hamstring curls tends to put me out like a light. But I'll need heavier weights for the quads, as I'm already up to 14 at the therapists' office...*sigh*

So was it the long, fast-paced run on Sunday? Was it the recovery run (not taking the next day off)? Was it really just the tighter lacing? Maybe a combo of all three.

Well, I took today off from running and might do Friday's, if my little foot thing is feeling better. I have the Fifth Avenue Mile to run on Saturday, so I'm saving the last of my legs for that; then I can concentrate on Staten Island Half.

In related news, got my custom orthotics today. In my walking sneakers, they're a little small and allow my toes to overhang the edge, but in my running shoes, they'll bejust right. I pray for the "no pain" route to breaking them in and hope that I am able to run on happy feet for the Staten Island Half. Doc McNeerny advised not to push it; getting used to the orthotics is supposed to take time. Time....

September 19, 2005

easy, relaxed recovery run

Woke up this morning with sore leg muscles. It is probable that yesterday's 10-miler was at the kind of pace I think it was and my muscles are letting me know it. That and the moving of many heavy boxes of books, of course - my legs are shot today.

So I did the scheduled five-mile as a "recovery" run. Took it real easy. Stopped and stretched when I felt like it; didn't push the pace; waited for lights to change rather than tack on a lateral block; hell, I even walked a few yards up the big hill in the park!

My legs didn't feel too bad - not as light as yesterday - and the soreness quickly left. In fact, if I'm left with any soreness, it isn't in my knees or hamstrings, it's in my quads today. That puzzles me.

No biggie though - I feel great! I hope this string of good runs and feeling great afterwards keeps up. Maybe I'm finally starting to discover the joy of running?

September 18, 2005

Running is not pretty* part 3

Running is not pretty -- unless you're higher than a geosynchronous satellite! Then it's marvelous! Still not pretty to the people around me, I'm sure, but from my POV -- fan-frickin'-tastic!

Okay, so I didn't run yesterday, though my long runs are usually Saturdays. I had a rehearsal to attend and then had to keep packing my stuff. I'm moving Tuesday. Also had to prepare for today's stoop sale. I also got hit full-on with a cold or flu or something yesterday - resulting in nearly non-stop coughing - and had to track down some Dayquil in order to make it through rehearsal. I also got myself a decaf coffee, figuring I could use the tiny amount of caffeine for once.

Well, I left rehearsal on my toes -- and pumped up with energy. I don't know what it was, but I felt great.

Today, after cleaning up after my 10-4 stoop sale, I really REALLY didn't feel like running. It would not be pleasant, I was tired, achy, still battling a fever and stuffed up/runny nose. I thought, hey, I've got a good reason not to run this weekend. Missing one long run won't hurt, right? I've got plenty of time to keep trainng for the Staten Island Half. Uh-huh.

And then the Mr. Smart part of my brain - or the Mr. Brash - decides to "motivate" me. Perhaps I'll feel better if I take more Dayquil, I thought, even though I'd already had some about eight hours previously. So I took two Dayquil. Put on my running clothes. Filled my powersnot flask and took a shot. Filled my water bottle with the last of my HEED. And stepped out the door.

Plan: three laps of Prospect Park, which is pretty near exactly 10 miles. In fact, I'd take the train up and stretch while waiting for the train. Mr. Brash spoke up again: hey, as long as we're gonna have to wait for the F, why not get a little coffee? know you wanna.

I stopped and got myself a half-cup of what looked like strong coffee, and filled the other half of the cup with milk. As I waited for the train, with water bottle, powersnot flask, and coffee in hand, I drank the coffee pretty quickly. The Dayquil was also beginning to kick in. I began stretching my hamstrings.

Two policemen and a woman came up the stairs looking all important. She pointed out an abandoned bag about thirty feet away from me. Another woman and I watched as the officers and lady crowded around this non-descript black soft-sided briefcase. Images of a certain video from Iraq came to mind. And one officer stooped down and unzipped the bag.

Had the bag actually contained a bomb, he, his partner, and the lady would have been obliterated and I would find myself typing this entry from the ICU. Thankfully, nobody was a lotto winner today. (I mean, seriously, what are the chances, right?) 'Course, then my mind goes back to a conversation I had with my neighbor during my stoop sale today and he's talking about a case that didn't make the papers (he's in law enforcement) where the police headed off a dual-subway bombing back in '03 right near here at Union street station. Great.

So anyway... the train comes, I get on, the Dayquil keeps working and now the caffeine is getting into the act, too. Perhaps also some lack of nutrition, since I hadn't eaten much today. I feel a little taller than normal. By the time I get to the park, I wander inside, locate my special tree and stash my water bottle and powersnot and take off.

And man did it feel good! I'm not just talking about the first lap, I'm talking all three! I stopped at the tree each time and gulped some HEED and some goo and then would reverse direction and do another lap. Three laps... and I felt unbelievably strong and powerful throughout. There were only barely some energy dips and those weren't severe.

My legs kept pumping at what I would consider a good half-marathon or even 10K pace. I mean, I really think I was flying around that park -- can't be absolutely sure about that, since I also seemed to be about three inches taller than usual. I was running on someone else's legs, that's for sure, 'cause they didn't get tired, they didn't feel like lead at the start, and any minor pains I had felt like they belonged to somebody else.

On every lap, I passed a big Jamaican celebration that was permeated with the smell of ganja BBQ. I was tempted to stop and ask for a hit bit, but decided running sounded more fun than eating. I also kept seeing that guy on the tall unicycle. No, I'm not making that up, he wasn't a hallucination. The midgets, those might have been a hallucination.

It didn't even bother me before the first lap was done that the first lap wasn't even done yet. I was just thinking, hey, the first lap is almost done! That's, like, almost a third! Then I dwelt for some time on what "one third" means. This is my birthday weekend. I turned 34 yesterday. I'm officially one-third of a century old. And my run was divided into thirds. This seemed to me very cosmic and right.

My coughing was still up there. My coughing usually tapers off after the first couple of miles and doesn't come back 'til I'm cooling down after a run. But not with this cold or whatever it is. Even with the Dayquil, the cough was present consistently through my run, though not as productive as usual. Heck, I usually cough up a good 2 or three fluid ounces of stuff by the end of a run, but it was pretty dry today. Perhaps the expectorant in the Dayquil was helping me move stuff more efficiently. (At some, point, I promise you, you'll get a glimpse into why I actually started the "running isn't pretty" series.)

I also noticed that at various times, particularly after a hill, I would get pretty cold around the shoulders and base of my skull. I've noticed this before and wondered, this time, what causes it? Perhaps it means I'm not running hard enough on the flats or downhills because my metabolism is dropping. Or maybe I've run too hard and all my blood is being shunted to my leg muscles, starving the keep-me-warm organs and perhaps the braaaaaiiiiins. Could be a tumor. (It's not a tuma.) Then I thought, maybe I'm dying. Yes, this makes sense; because every time a run has been difficult and painful and I thought, God, I'm dying!, I have a) not died, and b) not been cold. But now I'm getting cold and that jives with the whole cold, white light thing. Depictions of the soul leaving the body through the nose or mouth or chest cannot be more wrong. Clearly, the soul leaves the body through the back of the shoulders and the base of the skull. The cold I was feeling was my soul tugging its way through my skin and reaching (I hope) skyward. But -- aside from the cold feeling, I had no other indications I was actually dying. I saw neither a tunnel, nor a white light, nor the wispy visage of the Angel of DeathTM.

After ten miles, the sun was down, dusk was nearly dark, and I felt as strong as when I started. Now THAT's unusual! (I wonder if Dayquil is considered a performance-enhancing drug?) Still feeling really good, though not QUITE as high, and pretty sweaty and smelly, I went to get some groceries and splurged on a can of Murphy's Irish Stout. After's my birthday weekend. And today's been great. And...uh...stout is actually a great recovery drink. Or so I've heard.

September 16, 2005

catching the gorilla

So, okay, my running regimen is pretty tight,eh? I've got this whole schedule and shit and stick to it pretty good.

Today, I caught my gorilla. Granted, it wasn't the naked-teenager-type gorilla, but nonetheless, it was a beast of a run.

While the temp was reasonable - about 78 degrees I guess - the humidity was 100% and it was sprinkling when I started my run. On top of that, it seemed like every gardner, maintenance man, and random-loony-on-the-street was whipping his hose out and drenching various patches of helpless grass, asphalt, or sidewalk, only adding to the humidity.

Me and humidity don't get along.

And how 'bout that smell? Between the liquid-petrochemical fertilizer they were spraying on the grass in Central Park just south of the resevoir, to the pungent chemically-magnified-human-waste odor of the ranks of port-a-johns outside Rumsey Field, to the ever-present tapestry of horse-shit, piss, and exhaust fumes that passes for air on 60th street -- well, given all that, today's run certainly smelled like a gorilla.

4 miles. I wanted to stop; a lot. I was sweating pretty freely and my lungs were wide open and that was all good. Despite my legs feeling like lead, I didn't stop, not even at the turnaround point, where I'd promised myself I'd take a break. And I made it the whole four miles with no stopping, no walking, and - predictably - all the little pains and the fatigue in my legs went away at about 3.3 miles, leaving me with a lovely .7 mile run. Yay. That's what I live for: 80% pain, 20% reward. I'm not the first person to note the link between exercise and masochism, I'm sure.

Hey, I'm just sayin'!

And now for the important news: I have signed my life over to NYRR for November 3, 4, 5, and 6. If they pick me up for duty on all I signed up for, you can look for me at the registration tables at the Javitts on the 3rd and 4th. I'll be assisting somehow at the Continental Airlines Friendship Run on the 5th, and will voluntarily get my ass out of bed at 2 a.m. in order to help setup, get ready, marshall, or whatnot for the 36th Annual New York City Marathon!

September 14, 2005

Running is not pretty, part 2

Last night, I was trying to work out how to get in my planned six-mile run and get to my 9:30 PT appointment and beat the coming heat and humidity. I decided that since my regular therapist is on vacation and is replaced by Jim, that he could probably stand me a bit sweaty and wornout whilst doing the laying on of hands and whatnot that therapists do.

I worked out that if I left home at 7:00, I could get to Central Park, do the loop, and make it to my appointment in plenty of time. Then I remembered my running clothes were at the laundry, which doesn't open 'til 7:30. Damn.

It was a quick morning. Grabbed the laundry, quickly trundled it home, changed clothes, stuffed a change of clothes into my bag and hopped on the subway. Arrived at the clinic at 8:15 and stealthily tucked my bag into a corner and left. Plenty of time to get in a six-mile run, It thought. Plus, I'd then have a try at doing the physical therapy with my muscles and connective tissues throroughly warmed up.

And so it went...the humidity was way up today. I've noted before that when you can see the air, it ain't gonna be good -- such was the case today. And it was heating up rapidly too. I didn't stretch properly before I starting running and found the first two miles to go on forever. I stopped at that point and took a few minutes to stretch out better, concentrating on the calves, which were really tight.

Got going again and found mile three to be better, though mile four, with the big hill, just about killed me. Had it not been for the fact I'd left my money and metrocard in the bag at the clinic, I'd have left the park at that point and taken a cab back. Some days I'm such a wuss.

But I went on... and you know what? It got better. A LOT better. Somewhere in the beginning of mile five, I began to feel pretty good -- runner's high I suppose, though I don't think I've ever experienced it like this before -- and by mile six I was once again going at a good 5K clip, which the gentle hills of the southwest portion of the park make easy. I kept on running right out of the park, along 60th street, dodging pedestrians like mad, like it's some kind of game of pinball, turned right on 6th ave, and finally ground to a stop at 57th street, waiting for the light.

Walking from there back to the clinic, and getting my clothes changed in the bathroom, I felt good. Like really REALLY GOOD!! I couldn't believe how loose and relaxed and enervated I was. It felt like....

like... I'd just gotten laid. That's it, this is afterglow! Had I just had a quasi-sexual experience? I suppose it's possible -- the similarities are all there: both activities involve a lot of straining, grunting, groaning, sweating... neither activity is especially pretty, when done right, and usually results in something made of cloth being drenched in bodily fluids... and of course, there's the surprising stamina we can put into these activites, culminating with a rest period after where we feel our best compared to any other time.

Even after changing, walking around in my own personal bubble of afterglow, I still felt sweaty and harrassed and exhausted. But in a good way.

September 10, 2005

running isn't pretty, part one

While thousands of runners were slammin' through Central Park today, in a marathon 18-miler practice run, I was doing my own toiling on a 9-miler in Prospect Park. This one was not easy. It was hard.

My IT bands have been tightening up over the last week. Admittedly, while I've been concentrating on three shows and packing and all the details of a move, I haven't been doing all the stretching and foam rolling I could be.

So there was that. And while the weather was beautiful, something about it seemed to make it difficult for people to run; I wasn't the only one having a tough time.

I don't have the energy right now to go into all the details. Suffice it to say, that when I run, I am not handsome, particularly by the time I get home, and that I need to pick the color of my shirts more carefully.

So. 9 miles of slow running with unsteady pacing, but... only a moment's walk, when I turned around at the 4 1/2 mile point. I got through it, I guess.

Three things I'd like to note:

One, I seem to have developed "runner's tan". You know how farmer's tan makes a sharp tan line right across the bicep and the arms (and neck) are likely the only on the farmer that is tanned, while the rest is lily white? Well, I'm getting a similar effect: I noticed this morning that my legs have a nice tan -- that ends abruptly at my ankle-sock line. Bizarre.

Two: People were looking at me today. (Maybe because running isn't pretty.) Several people would crane the head around as I passed. And I passed a group of boys in the park and one of them, who saw me coming from a ways away, actually composed himself quite formally, with hands placed together Indian-style, and bowed at the waist to me! WTF?? I grant I was in sorry shape, but I didn't have my junk hanging out or anything...I don't think...

And three: POM. Specifically POM pomegranite-cherry. Best. Recovery drink. Evar. Chock full of pomegranite juice and cherry juice. Per bottle: No fat. No cholesteral. 70 mg of sodium; 780 mg of potassium. Some calcium and iron. Good stuff. Pricey, tho, so I'll have to save it for after my long runs.

I'm exhausted. And for the first time in a LONG time, I actually hurt after today's run. Not bad, but enough. Beast, you're not alone.

September 9, 2005

Musings on August.

4 miles. tick-tock; right according to schedule. Felt a little longer than Wednesday's first four miles; no big deal. Felt good...the weather is definitely helping me. I'm running faster and more consistently than in August.

Goddamn I hate August. If August were a dog, it would be Cerberus. If August were a wizard, he would be Snape. If August were a food, it would be lima beans and anything invented by Southern Californians. If August were an internet provider, it would be AOL. If August were a college, it would be Duke. If August were a writing utensil, it would be a rather dull No. 2 pencil missing its eraser.

September, on the other hand is fantastic. September is red jello and Dizzy Gillespie. September is Rin Tin Tin and freshly laundered sheets. September is drinks with an old friend and meals with your grandkids. September is Ginny Weasley and Bertie Bott's Everyflavor Beans. September is five days before Christmas.

And that's all I've got to say about that.

September 8, 2005

Foot Music

I don't run with music. The book said not to, so I didn't; now I don't.

But I did have a little MP3 player that I had a whole bunch of running tunes stored up on, which I'd listen to on the way to races or on the way home from work to get jazzed up for that evening's run.

I'm 60% through with packing for a move and though I've been looking for it, I haven't found that MP3 player, sadly. My iPod is too big and heavy to carry with me while running, and too expensive to leave in a bag; not optimal. The Shuffle, while fitting a budget and practically MADE for runners, doesn't have a screen and has no ability to switch playlists.

Well, Apple came out with the Nano yesterday, a damn-near perfect compromise of size, function, and portability, and I purchased one with some money I got on eBay selling off shit I don't need that I refuse to pack away for the move! (You knew this would come full circle, right? Thanks to selling stuff I don't want to take to the new apartment, I have a replacement for the one item I DID want to find.)

The neat thing is, if you order from the right page, you can get engraving on the back, sort of personalize it. I got mine:

September 7, 2005

September is always perfect

...why? you may ask. Well, for one thing, this is the month I was born. For another, the weather's is always great. In fact, it's one of the details that sticks in my mind about 9/11 - that the weather that day was just beautiful -- clean, fresh, cool air blowing in off the water, a sky so blue you wanted to laugh in joy... Well, let's just say there are a lot of September days I remember, mostly for the weather.

Today's weather is no different. I ran a snappy 6-miler in Central Park this morning in 76 degrees.

I was daunted by the prospect of six miles as a "medium" run at first. I'd only just finished eight last weekend, how can I consider six a medium run? I was afraid I might be pushing inury. But whatever.

I started out at a slow, easy pace, allowing my knees and legs to really warm up after my early-am PT session. I had a few aches and pains that nearly shut me down: doubts. I told myself my doubts were stupid, that these pains were just warm-up tings and should go away in the first mile. And they did.

Soon enough - way too soon I thought - I was passing the big cat at mile one...could that be right?? then I was on the flat, straight stretch passing 96th street. This was too easy! How could I be entering mile three alrea-- oh, wait, mile three is almost over: here's the long downhill and there's the 125th street subway station! Huh.

Mile four was uphill uphill u-p-h-i-l-l for the first half mile. Chug chug, ug, ug. I shortened my stride, but didn't slacken the pace but a little bit - and stuck to that all the way up the Heartbreak Hill, passing landmarks I knew. There's the overhanging rock, there's the exit off to the right and... wow, I'm at the top already!?! Good job, bro.

A bit of a runnign rest as the last of mile four was flat, then a few bunny hills in mile five. Began to get pretty tired here (I had brought along only water, no HEED) but was thankful I'd scarfed a small chocolate bar before the workout.

Soon enough, I began to feel my energy coming back and my pace picking up. I realized that I had consciously started out slow and had been slowly picking up the pace as I warmed up. Now, mid-way through mile five, I think I was running a bit too fast; definitely a 10K pace, but didn't take it down. I was almost done: look! there's the Sheep Meadow!

Mile six FLEW by. For the last 3/4 mile, my legs were really moving and I was thrumming along at 5K pace at least -- call it a 9:20 estimated pace. I don't run that fast very often, but I'll take it as I get it.

I finished the run catching up to runners I'd previously been passed by and - sort of - not wanting to stop. I could easily have pushed out another mile or two at that pace, and definitely another three or four if I notched it down. Well, the schedule is the schedule. Six it said, six I did.

I was taken completely by surprise at the strength, power, precision, and overall rightness of today's run. I hope September continues to bring such fantastic workouts!

September 3, 2005


Eight long miles today. I didn't expect these miles to be this hard; it wasn't humid out and was hardly above 80 degrees. Mostly, I experienced rather a lot of aches and pains that came and went. I haven't felt a few of them in quite awhile.

I find it fascinating, the amount of salt I excrete when I sweat. It's really quite amazing. Sure, I've seen the stained t-shirts other people wear, with the salt rings on them, especially on the really long-haul runs. But I don't think I've ever seen the veritable film of salt dust on others that coats me after a day like today - hot enough to really sweat; low enough humidity that the moisture evaporates.

The salt is left behind in a subtle pattern of small white dots, like miniature dried-up Old Faithfuls, marking exactly where my sweat glands are. By the time I'm done with a good run, like today, my skin looks like a Lichtenstein background. When I brush my hand across this strange moonscape, I become - in miniature - the Destroyer of Mountains, razing them and turning them to dust. This finely powdered salt - highly sought by five-star chefs for its purity and fine granularity, I might add - then coats each individual arm-hair, turning my skin into a miniature forest of denuded birch trees.

When I shower, I can taste the salt coming off my skin.

Pictures at bottom of this post! In the meantime, I'd like to point out, which you can use to subscribe to the RSS feed of my blog - or anyone's blog. Makes keeping up very handy. If you use Mac OSX Tiger, or Konfabulator on a PC, you can even use the Bloglines Notifier Widget, which puts the number of unread entries in your subscribed blogs on your dashboard or desktop. Neat.

(clicken to embiggen)
leg salt
finger salt
arm salt

September 2, 2005

The Bobcat On The Hill

I'm putting in my four miles; my feet are going up and down, back and forth; expiration in three steps, inspiration in two. Arms pumping, water bottle sloshing. Sweat beading on my forehead, making my grip slippery in my hands.

I turn around at 98th street and head back towards 57th street. Coming down one of the hills on the east side of the Central Park loop, I notice it again: the cat. The big big cat, sitting there, crouching, observing the tasty humans bopping by. The first time I encountered this cat, it startled me with its sudden appearance. I remember buzzing into a fight-or-flight response - mostly flight - I remember nearly wetting my pants.

Why is this cat here, I wonder? Just here, not elsewhere? Why doesn't he watch over Strawberry Fields or one of the numerous playgrounds, where he can have his choice of tasty little immature-human morsels? Why must he crouch there, on that rock, and study his prey right here?

Coming down this hill, noting the hungry cat once again, I suddenly realize how very steep this hill actually is. It is not as bad as the heartbreaker at the north end of the park, but it is substantial. I don't remember climbing it on my way to 98th - but then I don't remember a lot. Now, though, the steepness of this hill - downhill currently - strikes me, particularly as I pass runners on their way up it; huff puff huff puff. One of them looks like he might be slowing to a walk, then does; I spy an older lady at the bottom of the hill who seems to reconsider the climb and turns to retrace her jammin'-to-her-headphones steps toward the south end of the park.

As I pass the big cat, I swear I see its head turn a little, twitch the very tip of its tail. Impossible.

But now I know why the cat sits here, and not there. I know why he's so watchful and so patient, instead of stretching out for a catnap. Clearly, he is waiting, watching, wanting.

Like his cousin, the cheetah, he tenses his muscles about to spring and drag down the ones in the back: the old, the infirm, the ones who - startled into a fight-or-flight response, but whose hearts can't take it - automatically lay their limbs on the ground and bare their throats for the cat's mercifully quick ending.

Obviously, he is there to cull out one or two runners a year and thereby spur the rest of us to better, non-lethal, performance. He feeds so quickly no one ever sees it and so completely no one ever discovers the bodies...but feed he must, for he has remarkable stamina, sitting there all day, all night, season through season, year after year.

Someday I will climb up to that cat and stare into his cold, bronze eyes.

If he doesn't have me for lunch first.

September 1, 2005

killer humidity

How long can this continue? Seriously, was there ever a summer as long as this one?

After PT this morning, I stretched for awhile and did a fiver-miler in Central Park, doing a sort of u-shape out-and-back so as to get in the mileage and still end up at 96th on the Central Park West. 5.1 miles by the gmaps pedometer.

By the way, Sue and Paul's gmaps Pedometer also has a calorie counter. I'm surprised at how much I burn, if it's actually accurate.

Arrived at work just to turn in a timesheet and pick up a box that was waiting for me. Arriving all salt-encrusted, sweaty, and smelly is not the best way to show up at work; fortunately the big boss was not around.

Hot run; humid run; and some shin splints for the first half mile ('til I stopped to pee at the Boathouse) -- but really a fine run all together. No major speed, but not particularly slow either. Could it be that I'm actually getting acclimated to this?