June 30, 2006

Positive Friday

5 miles today. 5! Somehow, this felt like a total victory. I mean, dealing with the shin splints and now therapy and the new training schedule sort of reinforcing a slow-down...but today was a five-miler. And not only that, but I got up extra early so I could go to Central Park and do the run before my therapy session. Now THAT is an indicator I'm finally getting back into marathon training mode. It was THAT kind of get-up-and-go that led to a very successful Staten Island Half last year.

The run itself was so-so. First three miles were pretty hard on the legs, but not terrible. I would not even say that those miles sucked. Legs got loose and warm for the last two miles, by which time my air-trapping had decided to make an appearance. But at least the run was steady and complete. Lots of stretching, of course, before and afer.

Running in Central Park can expose a runner to many new and unusual sights. I have a number of stories, but today's is one I'll remember: about mile four, I passed a woman coming the other way who was running in her bra. Not a sports bra, her regular white underwire, full-cup, thin-straps, lacy-edges bra. She was carrying her shirt. Other than that, completely normal serious runner look; body like a trained greyhound, smooth motion, all that. And nobody batted an eye.

I felt good enough about the run that I almost went out again after work. But errands beckoned and time is short: I couldn't skip the errands. So...six miles is on the plan for tomorrow with an easy 3, or some cross-training, for Sunday. Yeah, baby, this IS my bag!

June 28, 2006

The new training has begun

Well, according to my NYRR training calendar, yesterday was supposed to be an easy 3 miler and today was, believe it or not, a rest day. I suppose the lax routine of the first couple of weeks dovetails nicely with my need to cut back and get this shinsplints thing addressed, but it galls in a way. I know I'm stronger than this. I didn't actually run 3 miles yesterday, opting instead for a nice five-mile bike ride on semi-flat tires. (Way more work than I was expecting.) Cross-training is part of the schedule and until I had jiggered the numbers enough to get a training schedule I liked, the schedules I was beging offered all began with a cross-training day; so I went with that anyway.

Tomorrow I go see the therapist for the first time in several months. I am impatient to be fixed and running pain free. My lungs are in great shape right now and I don't want to squander it! But I have other major things going on in my life and I really just need something - one fucking thing - to be safe, predictable, and successful. If I can't count on a training program to give me that....then what?

And as for the expense of the program: sure, it's more expensive than some free resources which might do just as well. Heck, I still think my aborted five-month training program from last winter would be great. But a few things about the online thing appealed to me. First, the cost isn't actually all that much: pretty much the equivalent of four races. I'd spend as much or more for Hal Higdon's program, I think. Second, I just haven't found the time to sit down and structure a training program. Even something as simple as that task has been shunted in favor of other things that need doing. Third, I have NO IDEA what I'm doing with speed training; this program at least has some speed training built in in a structured way. And fourth: I've never trained with a watch before. Which is to say that all my training to this point has been based solely on mileage and perceived effort. If I wanted to hit a particular time in a race, I tried speed workouts that were "really hard running." But now I have the opportunity to do structured levels of paced runs, to learn what different paces actually feel like and to take advantage of the structured training to its utmost. Fifth, and not unimportant, I can't afford an actual coach, and this program is going to have to take the place of that. If I created my own schedule, my "coach" would be ME; but with this created schedule, the "coach" is an external force - MUCH easier to obey.

Now, if this rain would just go away and STAY the fuck away!

June 26, 2006

I am trying not to panic

Is it ironic that I can have such painful runs with no day-after sorenss, yet the day after my one pain-free run, my legs are incredibly sore, like I'd done some kind of half-marathon race? Weird.

I went to the doctor today to see about these shin splints. I described the pain and the areas it happens: front, back, outer tibia. It didn't take him long: he pressed three points in rapid succession on the INSIDE of my tibia and on the second one, it was as if he'd pressed a button visible only to him, marked PAIN. "You're going to get some therapy," he said. "You've got tibial stress syndrome," by which he means shin splints, "and you're courting a stress fracture." Oh, great. Shin splints I knew, but I didn't know I could be breaking my own legs. OK, therapy it is then. I go in Thursday for my eval exam by the sports therapist.

He was not thrilled with the state of my orthotics. See, when leather gets wet, as these have gotten soaked twice, it tends to reshape itself - not helpful when they're supposed to be holding they're own shape and correcting my feet. So the doc glued some more foam onto the bottoms temporarily to correct my foot alignment. The orthotics will need attention from their maker, Dr. McNerny.

So I go look up shin splints and find this helpful page. Unfortunately, it makes me very nearly want to panic, as between the information there and the certain knowledge that the therapist will back it up - I should be reducing my mileage for awhile.

BUT I CAN'T! I've got a marathon to train for! I've been holding off on mileage 'til now (sometimes not my own choice, I admit) and need to get on the wagon dammit!

Even more frustrating, I immediately get an email from NYRR announcing the beginning of the online training program. Excited like a little boy, I signed up, having been assured by Beast that their program is a pretty good one, well worth the nominal fee.

And, indeed, the NYRR program does seem good. After some struggling with the browser, and learning that I'll need to do this through Firefox for the time being, I punched in my previous marathon time, my ability level, my goals....and it spit out a complete training schedule - that has me quite puzzled.

First, it starts with such an easy few weeks I nearly laughed. Even injured I should be doing more mileage than that. The long runs don't get back up to 8 miles for like two months! I'll have to remedy that; I CANNOT lose the conditioning I've got so far. Another oddity is that given the goal time - currently set at 4:15 for the marathon, which I feel is overreaching - the long runs and tempo runs are ridiculously slow paced, even up to a 12:20 per mile pace. Of course, the speedwork I asked for gets up to 6 repeats of 7-minute miles, so maybe I don't know as much as I thought I did. The bright and shining benefit of this customizable program is that it will remind/force me to expand my training options with some crosstraining days and more focused kinds of speedwork. I'm going to keep working the input numbers until I get a schedule that I'm comfortable with, including the first couple weeks having more than nine measly miles.

Of course... maybe I should take the computer's suggestions as a good idea, considering I'll be dealing with recovering from shin splints for the next six to eight weeks. I just wish there were a way to treat the shin splints, fix the orthotics, and continue to train UP all at the same time.

OH, one last thing. Congrats to Lora for completing her first triathlon!

[edit] OK, I think I've come across a decent training schedule by bluffing the numbers just a hair higher - numbers I would've been running in a week or two anyway. My training begins tomorrow with 3 miles. The first week is easy stuf. The schedule soon builds to running or cross-training six days a week, something I'm nervous about, but it is plain from other blogs that the truly dedicated are truly rewarded. The long runs build up very nearly on the schedule I'd originally laid out for Nashville, culminating with a 21 mile long run three weeks before the marathon. It all looks like a challenging, yet realistic, schedule.

June 25, 2006

I Am Prudent, The Sequel

It's funny how the heat index at 74 degrees and 82% humidity puts the "real feel" at 74 degrees. Now I know where the zero-point is, I guess. Still, 82% humidity is, I feel, a low figure. It might be true right NOW, but I'd swear it was higher for most of today's run.

10 miles on the docket, 6.7 run. I cut one loop of the park out of my run due to the overwhelming humidity. I didn't get the run in yesterday and this morning I waited until it stopped raining, then tookt he train up to the park to do three loops. Hah! It was raining by the time I got to the transfer from the R to the F, so I turned around and went home instead. Lucky so: I ran into some of my neighbors and got permission to bring my architect by their house so I can point out some features I will want to have built into my house, when all that happens. I'm finding I really like my neighbors here.

Anyway, by the time we were finished chatting, the rain had let up again and things were humid, but cool - perhaps 70 or 72 degrees. No breeze at all. I decided to just run up to the park and do two loops and back, which would also be 10 miles. I grabbed a large water bottle of HEED and set out.

I decided about halfway up the hill to the park that 10 miles wasn't going to happen today. I could SEE the air; never a good sign. By the time I got to the park, I was ready to turn around right there and cut things short to 3.4 miles. But while I stretched a bit and got my breathing under control, seeing the other runners sort of inspired me to continue. The next 3.3 miles were difficult in the visible humidity, but not exactly hard. I did take it easy and slowed to a walk three or four times as my lungs demanded. At one point I was having some real problems - it wasn't the asthma, more like air trapping...I've not quite experienced the sudden distress in breathing like that before. I wasn't particularly worried, I just stopped completely for a minute and let my breathing work itself out. It felt like.... well, like you would feel trying to gulp in air after you've been underwater for three minutes, only you didn't let all your air out first, only halfway. You're trying to get air IN, but the bad air is still in there keeping you from getting satisfying lungfuls. Only it wasn't like an asthmatic air-trapping thing, because it came and went quickly.

Anyway, I got the loop done and headed for home. The downhill was a blessed relief, but by this time the sun had decided to try to break out and the temperature ratcheted up five degrees in a hurry. Sweat was pouring off me and by the time I got home, my clothes and hair were quite damp and I'd drained my bottle of HEED - a good signal that cutting the run short today was probably the wise thing to do. Under less humid conitions, that bottle will last 10 miles easy.

Anyhow, I want to point out that it was ONLY my lungs I had a hard time with today. I did the rest of things right, including hydration, fueling, Enduralyte intake, foam rolling (to which I've added lint-rolling my shins), stretching, and icing the knees and drinking Recoverite after the run. The upshot is that my legs felt fine. In fact, better than fine, they performed well, never got very tense during my coughing, didn't tighten up during walk breaks, and generally played ball. And no pain. Aside from minor twinges on the inside and outside of knees that lasted less than 1/4 mile each, I had NO PAIN. Certainly no shin pain! And for that, I will say this run, though cut short, earns itself a "good" rating.

And now, I really must take a shower.

June 24, 2006

I am prudent

Well, I did NOT go do the race this morning; I didn't run at all. I'd posted somewhere else that I was going to the race unless it was raining and that's what happened. I got up at 6, intending to be at the park by 7:30 or 8, to put in five miles before the race, but it was raining as I stepped out the door. Not hard, to be sure, but enough to give me second thoughts. I really don't want to do a long run in the rain right now. I'm tired from yesterday, which started at 4 a.m. for me and didn't end 'til almost midnight and I didn't eat like I should've. In short, I don't want to court getting injured or sick because I'm too tired and the weather is getting me soaked and slowing me down.

I went back to bed, but did check the weather again at about 8, because if it had cleared up a bit, I would've gone to the race and done my second five miles after the race...still raining. And though it looked like the rain had stopped when I got out of bed again a half hour ago...it is once again raining. The humidity at all times has been killer. Tomorrow is supposed to be a tad cooler and a tad less humid, even between showers.

I'm content to let the rain come. I've got all weekend to find the time to put in ten miles and it is probably better to do it all as one non-race chunk after getting good rest. I have plenty to do in the meantime.

June 22, 2006

I was right, America really is going to hell

Remember when I said I'd be bitchin' about how air conditioning is ruining America? A-ha! Turns out, it's probably ruining the whole world.


A sloggy 3.5

Woke up well before my alarm this morning, at about 5:30. Just couldn't sleep, so I got out of bed and was out of the house for a morning run by 6:25 (yeah, yeah, my morning routine is slow, whatever).

I would have guessed, after yesterday's breezes, that the weather would've been cool and mild with clear air, but such was not the case. I didn't realize it right away, but the sky was overcast, the air muggy, and getting warm even so early in the morning. However, it was still significantly cooler than yesterday and so off I went for my park-and-back loop.

The uphills were a real struggle this morning and I had to walk short distances twice to get my coughing under control, but other than that, the run was steady, if slow. My legs felt like splintering peglegs again, not graceful at all. Any pains were mild, but persistent - and I could run with them so I did. Went all the way to the park, touching the black metal car barrier pole thing and twirling around it like a kid while giving my customary whoop of triumph at having made it up to the park - which is always the hard part.

The trot downhill was OK. Fairly smooth, not fast, not a lot easier than going uphill. Had to stop and get a water. I was sweating pretty good. Still, a decent run overall; chalk up another one on the mileage base big board.

June 21, 2006

NYC HALF-Marathon entry

I signed up for the brand-new NYC Half-Marathon today, after several tries spread out over several hours. I had assumed all the hype about "hurry up and sign up; registration begins at noon!; hurryhurry!" was BS, that they'll get a tricle of registrants at first and that the list will fill out closer to August. I may be wrong. The NYRR servers were swamped for a good six hours and I only just now was able to get on and complete registration.

Somehow, I'm more stoked about this half-marathon than the full marathon three months later. Of course, this half will be a good benchmark as to how training is going. But I also feel that the half is really "my race", that it's the distance I'm good at, or could be good at, and I'm disappointed that I've been out of town for two of the last three NYRR half-marathons (after completely blowing the first one in Janurary) and will have to miss the Bronx half, too. Only the Staten Island half remains as one of the Grand Prix I could still run.

Of course, here I signed up on a day that was not running-productive. I did a bicycle ride and called it a workout. Got a lot of other stuff done, though. Hope to put in 3 miles before work tomorrow. Will probably do the 5K in Prospect Park Tuesday and need to sign up for the Manhattan Mile and Mets Run to Home Plate.

quick 5K

Yesterday I got up a little early and managed to get out the door by 8 a.m. for a short run. I was very afraid the shin pains would be coming back strong, so I determined to do the flat, short 3+ miles down to the 95th street stop. It was also getting very warm rather quickly. I decided not to push it on this run and see if I could do three steady miles separated by two blocks of walking at each mile point. And that turned out to be almost exactly what happened.

The first mile was good, though my legs, as usual when cold, weren't too coordinated - I always feel like I'm running on stumps at those times. But the mile passed and my breathing was very steady and the cars weren't bothering me too much. I walked two blocks and picked it up again and immediately felt better - as if the two blocks were all I needed to go from warmup to ready-to-run. Fascinating. Halfway down this mile, I switched to the other side of the street and discovered that apparently the sun rises rather later on this side, as it was seven or eight degrees cooler, and not just in the shadows. If I run on that side more often, I think I could do four or five miles for my short runs.

The second half of the run was broken by short traffic stops and was kept interesting by dodging a hell of a lot of people. I find it fascinating how the ethnic, social, health, and income characteristics of the pedestrians I'm dodging changes as the neighborhoods change. Some generalities hold true, but a few do not. I won't get into that now; but people-watching does make the run pass quicker.

After buying a bottle of water, I took the subway back up 4th ave. I had very little shin pain in the whole run; perhaps a little more in the third mile, but nothing that caused me to slow or stop and that's a hopeful sign.

I didn't run this morning, as I was out late last night, but will get up early to make it happen tomorrow morning, probably up to the park and back.

I am trying to get online and sign up for the New York Half Marathon, but the site is farked - too much traffic I guess. I'll try again in a couple of hours.

Finally, I've made an appointment for next Monday to see Doctor Maharam. Here's to getting fixed up!

June 19, 2006

I am the mighty Jagrafess

I must be bipolar or something. It is so easy to be so pumped at the end of a good run like Saturday's, and then come down into crushing disbelief in myself. Back and forth this little tussle goes from run to injury to race to exhaustion.

It is time to make an appointment to see Doc Maharam. There's no way around it anymore, I am injured and courting further injury. I had some aches and pains in my lower legs Sunday, which I chalked up to Saturday's run, but they have been worse today - and I'm beginning to find stairs difficult to navigate again because it brings on pain in the outside of my lower legs and knees. Classic shin splints, I think, but I'll leave the diagnosis up to the doctor. (I tried to call his office today about 5, only to realize that everybody there goes home at 3; I'll try again tomorrow.)

The pains take all belief I have in my ability to run a half-marathon, say, this weekend or next, and crushes it into disbelief that I can even go around the block. I know (my Ego knows) I could go tough out three miles with this pain, but my Id says no way - and it might be the wiser of the two. My Superego is just so disgusted that it has retreated to a corner and is calling me names that aren't very nice.

Compound the pain with this pressing heat and humidity - and it's by no means as bad as it'll be in August - and I have no desire to run. I simply cannot function in this heat, even to the point of planning work on my motorcycle for before 10 a.m., because I can't do good work with a head muddled by heat. I have never liked summer, but after such a mild winter and spring, this summer is going to hit hard and I think I may explode. It's as if I have become the mighty Jagrafess of the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe, which explodes when its cooling system fails and its body heat goes too high.

The heat has weakened me even further: I was determined to tough it out, even at nights, so that my body might acclimate to summer, thus making running and my upcoming few thousand miles on a Harley in July a little more bearable. But I broke down today and as I worked to get it done before the rain comes, I pulled my two airconditioners out of storage and hastily set them up at either end of my apartment. Air conditioning, I tell you, is anethema to athletic training. It isn't good for asthmatics, either. (Note, I'm not talking about air filtering, which is entirely different.) Too much air conditioning is about as good for the human race as too much refined sugar. Now you get to hear me conclude for the rest of the summer how air conditioners are making Americans - and me - fat and lazy.

Define irony: I am sitting here looking at a piece of mail that came today: my finisher's certificate from the Nashville Half. This thing is made to amplify bitterness: never have I received a certificate for finishing a lousy half-marathon. That has remained in the province of marathons until now. "Congratulations!" it chirps at me from the corner of the table. "Fuck off," I spit back. It is a reminder of a marathon plan gone wrong, cut short, modified to barely limp myself through 13.1 miles. It is a reminder of what NOT to do on race days and what was missing before the race. By the same token, though, it is a reminder that I can go the distance (or a distance), even under less-than-optimal circumstances; evidence that not too long ago I was able to run that far - and I can't right now. It is, in short, an imprint of failure, then and now. I am tempted to burn the damn thing.

June 17, 2006

8mile, not the movie

There might be a way around having to use the baggage facility at NYRR races. I like that it's there and all, but it fosters a reliance on such things, which is not always good. Today, for instance, there was no race in the park and I wouldn't have run one had there been anyway - so no baggage caretakers. What to do? Well, I left the house with as little as I could get away with knowing that the run was likely to be hot and humid and that I'd probably need more fluids than I could carry.

As this was a long run, a training run, it made the most sense to try to emulate how I plan to run race day. I left the cell phone behind and instead put some Enduralytes in the sidepouch of my water bottle holder. I took my largest waterbottle filled with HEED. I took my iPod to sort of get in the mood on the way to the park. Completely forgot to take any powersnot with me, or even slug down a shot before I left the house. Realized that while on the subway and figured, hey, I'd have to make do with the yogurt in my tummy and this small cup of javanated coffee I was sipping. If my energy runs out, it won't entirely be from a lack of gel, Ifigured; and if I can't manage a little ol' eight mile run without gel, then I need to seriously reconsider how I eat the night before long runs, right?

Hard for me to believe, but I popped wide awake at 6:30 a.m. this morning - before my alarm went off. I lounged in bed enjoying the sight of the blue sky and the cool breeze coming through the window until my alarm did go off, then I started my regular pre-race routine, which isn't complicated, but I take my time. I thought back to more successful long run days and opted to skip therapy this morning - I'll make it up in the afternoon. Therapy itself, while helpful in the long term, irritates the lining of the lungs and generally causes mild asthma. I learned long ago that I can get a brief boost in easy breathing by skipping a therapy session.

Anyway, I got to Central Park about 8:30 a.m. and already the heat was coming on and the humidity was building. It had become overcast, too, which was a blessing as it kept the sun from beating down too forcefully. Upon entering the park, something great came on my iPod, probably Tubthumping, and I started jogging right away, even though my plan was to walk to 72nd street and do two loops of the 4-mile route. I had another reason to get moving: I had to find some facilities and fast. I headed for the Boathouse - I did not realize how far it is from Columbus Circle to the Boathouse - nearly a mile.

Nice warmup. I did my bidnit and decided to go shirtless today as well as depend on the park's water fountains - there are two on the four-mile loop that I know of. I took advantage of the fact of Bikers' Bench and stashed my stuff there, on the end of one bench right in plain sight. (Bikers' Bench is a row of benches across from the Boathouse, just where Cat Hill starts, that was donated to the park by some bike racers group. A lot of cyclists hang out there posing resting after their long, hard 10-block rides to the park.

Okay, miles 1-5 felt like hell in my lower leg regions. The shin/lower calf pain was very bad and though I tried not to give in to it, I did walk a bit as I crossed west at the 102nd street traverse. Fortunately, I was able to pick up the pace again and didn't stop until a water break on the west side, which tuns out to be a lot closer to the 72nd street traverse than I remembered. I slapped the light pole on the corner of the traverse and began to retrace my route. In the fifth mile, the pains began to fade, though they were replaced by various odd twinges and aches in my legs for the next mile and a half.

There was a sprinkler setup to water a patch of grass about midway up the west side and it was liberally watering the running path, too. I took advantage of that twice and it was quite exhilirating. Maybe the Dash-n-Splash run is in my future.

Finally, at about 6.5 miles into the run (and I'm including my "warmup") the pains all went away and my pace got very stready and reasonably strong, right on a 10K pace. I was getting tired, but I hadn't run this long since the Nashville half-Marathon, so i was content to push through the fatigue, knowing that THIS is where the training starts! I was thankful that most of the rest of the run was flats and downhills, except for a moderate uphill after picking up my stuff and returning to the lamppost across the park on the 72nd street traverse. In fact, the last part of the run just felt great!

It was nice running shirtless, too. The warmup had me sweating like a whore in church, even in moderate morning temps, and taking off the shirt felt great, even if I felt a little naked (and fish white and awkward-looking with my barrel chest and stick arms). I needn't have worried. I saw several other people going shirtless today, most of them guys who have the physique to pull that off, but sadly, no women. One of the shirtless ones was an annoying speedskater type who was shouting at people ahead of him to clear a path and holding on hand out in front knife-edge, like he was plowing through solid air or something. What a 'tard. Being shirtless was especially good in the last couple of miles, when the temperature rose noticeably and things started to get muggy. It never got bad - but by this afternoon it'll be the wrong time to be running.

The park was crowded and this was complicated by the abnormal number of people going in the "wrong" direction and also by a racewalkers' race, but I had no frustration with this as I have on other days. Somehow, everybody just flowed in and around each other without tempers rising. It was too nice a morning to ruin it with bad vibes, I guess, and it was kind of neat to hurdle the low string of flags placed to mark the racewalkers' two turnaround points. But I am no Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

Though I didn't bring the Enduralytes with me, I did take one before I left the house, one right at the start of the run (knowing I'd be depending on water for the next seven miles), and then a couple right after the run, spaced apart by 15 minutes. It might be unrelated, but I experience no tightening of my muscles post-run, nor fatigue. I felt better than I have in weeks.

So this was a good run I guess. 8.5 miles. It started in the Wading Pool of Suck but ended in the shallow end of Great. It all evens out. I just hope I can keep up the good weekend work and improve somewhat on my weekday work. Beast has suggested I follow NYRR's online training program this time - and as I have yet to sit down and create a training plan myself, I'm inclined to check into it and see if I like the schedule.

June 14, 2006

rough one

I guess if there is to be an average run and there are good runs, then there must be bad runs too. Today was one of those. Haven't had a run this bad in some time. The shin/calf pain thing was back, though not at the previous levels. Somehow, my body just wouldn't work today. The trip around the cemetary - about three miles - was too tough to be believed and I actually gave up on it and walked the last 3/4 miles home. And there were walk breaks in the first two miles.

In hindsight, I think it was a combination of the heat, humidity, and dehydration. To be sure, my recent neglect of off-day stretching exercises isn't helping, but I was pretty clearly unprepared for a run in these conditions. I've written before of my 80/80 rule - that I can't, or won't, run in temps higher than 80 or humidity higher than 80. Today was 82/70 - right at the limits of my tolerance. It's mostly my lungs that react badly; I don't mind the sweating.

I realized I hadn't had much water over the last couple of days. That should be a big obvious clue.

So, I'm hoping my next couple runs show improvement. I'll head out Friday a.m. early for the 6.7 mile park loop and will have to plan on getting up early Saturday or Sunday to go do 8 in Central Park.

This evening, I gave my lecture on Vectorworks Spotlight at Apple Store SoHo. It went well, and I got a couple of business cards and may be able to get more work through these new contacts. One in particular was VERY important, as it may lead to some independent corporate scenic work. Yipee.

By the way, this came in the email and caused just a moment of sheer panic:

June 12, 2006

I am tipsy Freudian

Went home early from work today. Lungs didn't want to run. Legs didn't want to run. The Ego did not want to run and the Id most certainly did not want to run. But the SuperEgo would not let me not run. *sigh* godamit - where are my shoes?

This was about as standard a 4-mile run as it gets. Things hurt for two miles; felt chunky, clumsy, uncoordinated. Got better in mile three and felt pretty smooth in mile 4 (though that was mostly downhill). Lungs didn't wholly join in - coughed the entire way, bringing stuff up the entire time. yes, i am back to sliming the park and the sidewalks.

Feet were OK. Minor aches, but not the agonizing shin and calf pain I am afraid of. The calves did get a little crampy, but a little walking and stretching really did the trick. I have discovered that doing circles with my feet, in both directions, seems to help prevent the aforementioned pain. Nice.

Pace was very very steady with a slight ramping up of speed over the 4-miles, nothing too strenuous or fast. Truly a marathon-paced run, I think. I'm happy that I am finally getting some control over my pacing.

I broke my no-alcohol policy and had a beer (leftover from Memorial day) with dinner. Damn I'm getting weak. First it's mixing a little regular java in with my morning cup of de-caf, and now I had a beer with dinner. Next thing you know, I'll be sliding down the slippery slope of slothfulness and only running once a week. Oh, WAIT, that already happens from time to time. Shit. Yeah, I realize this is a little like a vegan worrying that she just drank cow's milk instead of soy milk and all the rest of us are going, "so the fuck what?" but to HER its a big deal because it's a SIGN. A sign that....she is not as disciplined as she wants to be. That she allows human weaknesses to creep into her ideal, that she is soft. (And I really better stop using this metaphor because I don't like referring to myself, even metaphorically, as she.) I most emphatically do not want to become a fat lush suckling freely at the brown teat of Mother Java; but oh man it would be easy......

Point is, the Id seems to be getting its way more and more, somehow influencing Ego to make compromises SuperEgo does not like. While cleaning my blender after making my nutri-shake today, I stabbed myself good with the tines and bled everywhere. Could this be my SuperEgo punishing Id in the only way that makes sense to Id - pain? Or am I just an Id-iot?

June 11, 2006

I am bagged

So the last two days of decent running - and all the other running around - really kind of caught up with me today. Feeding in to my sudden crash was the last three weeks of non-stop work. The work isn't over, but at least I've had this weekend. Unfortunately, between having too many items on the to-do list and today's sudden "bleh" mode, I didn't get everything done. Well, the only thing critical is getting a Powerpoint lined out for my Apple Store presentation Wednesday and I'm still working on the outline of the presentation anyway. Guess it will be some late Monday and Tuesday nights.

I slept late today, took a nap in the afternoon, and am going to bed early. Days like this don't come often!

Anyway, I did accomplish my big goal for the weekend: go trade beer for bags. I traded a couple cases worth of Cooper's & Leffe's beer for some nifty - and otherwise very expensive - Crumpler messenger bags, at least one of which will become a Christmas gift in due course. I'm still trying to decide which one to keep. I figure that I paid approximately 50% of what the bags usually cost, figuring in sales tax; I'm pleased with that. I skipped the party, though, as they scheduled it for 8 p.m. tonight. A Sunday night; what were they thinking? I've got to work tomorrow! Oh well, I'm not a fan of Cooper's, the Leffe's wasn't Leffe's Brown, which I prefer, and 90% of the other beer dropped off was Brooklyn Lager, Corona, and Sapporo, all of which I consider inferior to Guinness, Brooklyn Chocolate Stout, Kirin, and Red Stripe.

This little trade was not easy. While I know of at least three Manhattan bars with Leffe on tap, finding it in a bottle was wickedly difficult. In fact, I called 23 stores before I found a place that carries it. Same story with Coopers. That store is American Beer Distributing, located in Cobble Hill. I went there and though the store is fairly small, the selection is outrageously extensive, widely varied, and comparatively cheap. I found one six packof Leffe's and asked if they had more. The guy went downstairs and reappeared fifteen minutes later, having moved half his stock to get to what he said was his last case of Leffe's. I felt pretty good about that! Now I know where to go for some unique beers and may have to reconsider my no-alcohol-at-home policy. Perhaps trying one new beer per week won't hurt me as a runner. Hell, if I find even one beer that holds a candle to Brooklyn Chocolate Stout every six months, it'll be time and money well spent.

Getting the beer from ABD to Crumpler was not easy; I had to call a car. The driver was very nice, rather chatty, and handsome in an Italian way. He was still outside after I'd made the beer/bags trade and I thanked him once again and went to shake his hand. As he looked up, I could see some white powder in a little folded paper... and he didn't exactly open his hand, I sort of awkwardly shook his fist. Hm. Then he offered me a ride back to Brooklyn, gratis. Now I'm thinking to myself, "maybe it's not such a good idea to ride around with somebody who's just done a noseful of coke," but a ride's a ride. I get in and we go. He was even chattier on the way back to Brooklyn and he revealed the differences between livery cars and TLC cars, which was quite an education for me. He also revealed his status, that he'd lost his TLC license after failing a drug test and that after he gets himself a new SSN, he hopes to get another TLC license, since next February, the city will restrict all cars in the 5 boroughs to TLC plates - no livery except what has come in from outside the boroughs for a drop-off. Turns out he's Palestinian, too. The guy was nice, I guess, and his troubles are his own; but it was quite a wakeup call as to who the locals drivers may be! (And how could he have been so free with his information...I mean, how could he be sure I wasn't a cop?)

By the way, Brooklyn Chocolate Stout is a seasonal beer, only made in the winter. It is usually gone a few weeks after the bottling stops. I asked and found out ABD still has several cases, so I may have to go liberate a case this week and have it shipped ahead to Philadelphia, where I am to join the Long Reach Long Riders on their cross-country motorcycle ride in June. Oh, and if you'd like to sponsor my ride and thereby donate some bucks to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS or to Behind The Scenes, I'd be honored. Just follow the donations link at the site.

And yes, I'll be taking my running gear in my left saddlebag. :)

June 10, 2006

I am a black Trans Am (revised)

In another version of the song you're hearing, the voiceover has the phrase "...a young loner on a crusade to champion the cause of the innocent, the helpless, the powerless...." Well, I don't know if there are ANY innocents in this city, and I don't know about the helpless or powerless, but do the "fatigued and sweaty" count?

Today I got up early, threw on running clothes, and headed to Central Park so's I could cheer for the thousands of women running the Circle of Friends Mini-10K. I arrived just in time for the opening remarks and had a great view of the runners from the subway exit at Columbus Circle. I made my way to in front of the start line to view the leaders of the race. As Mary Wittenburg, then another announcer, made their remarks, I observed these fine athletes completely focusing on the course ahead. Most of the people at the very front were professionals, including past NY Marathon winners, gold medalists, and last years Circle of Friends champion. They did not talk to each other, waved sorta meekly when they were introduced, and mostly kept bouncing around and jiggling their legs. It was as if they were trying to rein in their legs, and it gave the impression of a line of young thoroughbred colts nervously waiting for the gates to snap open.

Just before the start, Mary Wittenburg went trotting by to the media truck, from which tailgate she would observe the front runners. I was surprised at how YOUNG Ms. Wittenburg is. I know she trains in Central Park and now I wonder just how many times she may have passed me, as I'd always assumed that an older runner would be at the helm of NYRR.

Anyway, the horn went off and the young colts bolted. And were they fast! If you blinked, you missed them. Off they went! Before the last of the women had crossed the start line, the leaders were easily at the 3/4 mile mark. I scooted over and up to the finish area and hung out listening to the race announcer read off numbers that were coming in via computer. I was astonished at how fast the women were moving and they even broke a 5:00-minute pace in the fifth mile! It was not long before a crowd was lined up at the finishing chute and straining for a peak of the leader as she came in. When she did, I was again amazed - and impressed - by how effortless she made it look. She had a small smile on her face and waved to the crowd and cameras as she darted across the finish line. The next four or five runners came in with expressions of intense concentration but still made the run look easy, even though I know the effort was beyond anything 99% of people can put out. The expressions got more and more "constipated" as the runners came in. Runners 10 through about 40 were blazingly fast but were obviously more stressed by the effort. Then came more and more and more runners until the whole pack was flowing to the finish line in an unbroken stream.

Somewhere in this time frame, I noticed the fellow beside me with a rather nice SLR digital camera. What I noticed in particular was that he was not taking pictures of the women as they approached our position, but only after they'd passed and were crossing the finish. Hm. Always assuming the best about my fellow man, I ignored it, but then noticed further that he was only taking pictures of the women in fairly tight shorts and things. Hm. Seems we have a pervert in our midst. I did not make an issue of it, but I will be keeping my eyes peeled at future races and if I see the same guy with the same pattern of behavior, I'm going to go find a cop.

After fifteen minutes, I went down a couple hundred yards, just out of sight of the finish line, and cheered for the runners coming in. I believe I saw UpTownGirl and NYFlyGirl and Mercury Master Crista go by. I don't think they recognized me and I had no name to holler out at the time - my mind was a blank. But I continue to extoll the gutsy girls to "finish strong" and promising the balloons were just beyond the rise. "Come on! Flowers and cheering!" I'd yell. I inspired several to pick up the pace and, yes, finish strong. It was really great to be able to spend a race just cheering the runners on and not worry about my own status. I did get a couple of annoyed looks that read like "how 'bout YOU run a 10K then say that??" but mostly if I got a reaction at all it was that runners either sped up or actually smile and thanked me, or both. Awesome to be useful.

I stayed out cheering for about an hour, then prepared to go do my own 6-mile run for the day. I was already hoarse and coughing and thirsty, so I started my run at the nearest water fountain.

I got about 3/4 mile out and took my only break of the run, to stretch a bit now that I was warmed up. Oddly, my shins and calves were not barking at me - only mild tension there. I did circular movements with my feet, stretched out my hamstrings a bit, then got on with it. I ran clockwise today, so the Harlem hills came early. To my pleasure and surprise, they didn't feel terrible at all and I felt fine going up them. I did not push the pace today, but held a steady 10:00-mile pace. To my relief, my shins and calves didn't bother me at all after that brief stretching stop - they simply didn't become a factor today and I wonder if the activity on them during my cheering was responsible.

Mostly, it was a smooth, semi-fast glide through the park. On my way down Cat Hill, I flipped it the bird, as NYFlyGirl would want me to and as I'd neglected to do yesterday. It got really fun in the south end, dodging pedestrians, strollers, runners coming the other way, horses, and the like. And I don't say that sarcastically - it really was fun. Though I didn't quite get that sense of "flow" going, I did feel like I was completely in charge of traffic, even other people's. Where I wished them to go, they went. I had no near-collisions. It was as if I had some kind of long-range sensor scanning ahead of me, predicting the best path to take....on my shadowy flight....

Okay, maybe I'm stretching the metaphor a bit thin. And now, I must stop writing blog entries, go take a shower, and high-tail it into town so I can trade beer for bags, since there's no way in hell I'm going anywhere tomorrow.

I am late to work

Yesterday's run, post doc appointment:

Place: Central Park
Distance: 4 miles
Shoes: Brooks Adrenaline Sixes, stained from the last run which ended in a downpout
Lungs: fine
Knees: fine
Feet: fine
Shins & Calves: in pain
Cat hill: conquered.

It wasn't a bad four-miler, altogether, it just took 2.5 miles before the shin & calf pains finally abated to a tolerable level. This is an improvement - it's been taking three miles previously, if they went away at all. Maybe the shoes are starting to work? Or could it be... well, I did loosen the laces quite a bit to let my feet move around more at my one & only rest stop. Seemed to help. Still, it was unpleasant running, and the pain only increased if I slowed to a walk. So I kept running. I did figure out during that rest stop that rotating my feet in circles seemed to get rid of the pain much faster than other kinds of stretching, so maybe that helped.

The last 1.5 miles were actually pleasant. While the pains never went away completely, they receded enough to let me focus on my pace and what an astoundingly beautiful day we had Friday. I was startled to pass a runner clothed in long pants, long sleeve shirt, ball cap, shades, GLOVES, and what appeared to be a full-face beauty mask. On second thought, it must have been zinc oxide but.... avoiding the sun much? I suppose she had a medical condition which might prompt this protective gear, but geez.... if outdoor running means doing a sweaty impression of a terrified mime, I'd stick to a treadmill indoors. Well, anyway, at least she's exercising and that's all that counts. (Incidentally, I passed a similarly attired woman again today.)

Second surreal moment was when passing the Boathouse. I heard a guy on a harmonica playing a nice, slow bluesy version of In Excelsius Deo. Sounded great and by picking up the rhythm a bit, it was great running music in my head.

Partly because my appointment ran late, and partly because I chose to run, and partly because the beautiful brought EVERYBODY to the park and so the buses ran really slow...I was half an hour late to LSLP's studio. No biggie; I still got the job done and I hope their proposal goes well.

I am doubled.

This was the great sci-fi adventure of my childhood - The Six Million Dollar Man - squeezed into ABC's early 70's lineup after Star Trek had come and gone and before Knight Rider was to become my inspiration for my choice of clothing color throughout adolescence. I don't remember much about the series or storylines, except that Steve Austin always saved the day, once hooked a killer robot tank to a helicopter on the second try, and the opening sequence showed him running on a treadmill with the digital numbers spiraling ever higher.

"I'm sure I wasn't the only seventies kid to run around the school playground with my pals in pretend slow motion and play-fight making the bionic 'da-da-da-da-da-da...' sound," Lee Fennessy from London writes. And Chip Rowe reports about a girl "who was so enamored of bionics that she had circuitry tattooed on her right bicep." I understand both these impulses, more now as a pseudo-athlete, maybe, than before I started running.

A man, barely alive, yet rebuilt to be better, stronger, faster. That concept and the treadmill image has stayed with me throughout my life, but more-so in recent months. When one has a massive lung infection that causes you to cough blood and have to rest just on the five block walk to the subway station, one begins to hear the echo of "...a man barely alive..." and one wonders if he'll be able to rebuild himself - with the assistance of modern medicine, of course. It's easy to have doubts and dark thoughts when one is sick: sometimes you just can't see the light at the end of the tunnel.

But then after the failed oral antibiotics, the IVs finally did the trick, but only so far: they knocked down the infection and that gave me a chance to start rebuilding myself. But could I be better? Stronger? Faster?

We already know the answer to faster: yes! At my last 10K, I turned in a great run, with a PR that will be tough to beat. But how about the other two? Surely I'd been feeling stronger these last couple months, most of the time. Nagging joint pains I've reported on before have had me worried and the damn shin splints and calf pains just will not go away! So ... better? Maybe not. I am not yet better than I was last October for the Staten Island Half.

But yesterday came the proof: I had a checkup at the CF clinic and the numbers do not lie. I've gained five pounds. Holy shit! I'm two pounds away from matching the heaviest I've ever been. Apparently, my stubborn adherance to a steady, if mildly boring, diet and the addition of a Weight Gainer 2200 shake to my morning routine has paid off. I went from 117 pounds to 123! This is astounding to me and to the doctors as well. Keeping weight is hard enough, but for a Cystic who's not on prednisone to actually gain weight is a victory achieved! (I have a ways to go to get to my target weight of 135, so we'll see what the next few months bring.) One important thing about the extra weight: I believe it's causing my joint and muscle pain. I'm not used to carrying this weight all the time, particularly in shoes that haven't worked out. Well, daddy's got a new pair of shoes and by god we're gonna make this work, figure out what stretches and weights will help, and get the joints and muscles to play ball.

Second thing at the appointment: the pulmonary function tests. Critical numbers, these, since treatment decisions are based on them. They are as much an ID card for cystics and asthmatics as PR 10K times are to runners. I am pleased to announce that my lung function has doubled since February! My FVC (forced vital capacity, or total lung volume) went from 54% (of normal for a man my age, height, and weight range) to 86%. Even more important, my FEV1 (volume of air forced out in the first second) shot up from 27% to 55%!

I honestly don't feel in my lungs like they're that high, but the numbers don't lie. We'll see what the coming months bring. In the meantime, I have much to do, including FINALLY sitting down and creating a marathon training plan and getting cracking. Somehow, these results feel like some kind of green light I've been waiting for, no matter how illogical that sounds.

I've often wondered why people would get tattoos; they mostly seem like a whim to me, something that won't mean much later in life, if they even do now. (The kanji tramp stamp is highly suspect - I mean...how is the girl assured that little glyph really means "love" or "peace" like the tattoo artist said? Maybe, as my friend Sam McColl surmised at a barbecue, it really says "whore".) But my friend Steve in San Francisco, after finishing the Kaiser Half, got a speedy stick-figure tattooed on his calf: significant since he's an extreme asthmatic AND a racewalker. It is a sign of victory and it will always have meaning. Another runner, tho I can't remember who, mentioned possibly getting a little Mercury wing above the ankle, one for each marathon finished.

Maybe I need to consider some circuitry on my chest.

June 5, 2006


I still haven't had a chance to put together a new training schedule, much less START one. This weekend came and went without a run. That's all right, though, as I got a ton of things done, made some coin, and it rained all weekend anyway. Of more concern was a small concertina chord of aches and pains from the waste down. I couldn't climb a ladder with a lighting unit without knee pain. Seemed like half my joints and a quarter of my muscles hurt in various ways, none of them symmetrical, usual, or even lasting. I don't know what's going on with my legs anymore.

Got in two new pairs of the Champion underwear I like so much. Now I have almost more than one complete set of running clothes - just need some more shorts. Should be a sale coming up at Paragon pretty soon.

My nutrient shake has gotten even better since I switched from vanilla to vanilla/chocolate ice cream. I had the bright idea of buying packs of the individual ice cream cups in order to more easily get the ice cream out of the containers and into the blender (just heat the cup under running water first). Very tasty. I am considering starting to add the contents of my vitamin pills to the shake instead of swallowing them. They are giant pills and blending them would be easier than swallowing them.

Gotta get to bed early tonight - another marathon dance day tomorrow. Had one this last Saturday, with a load in, brief tech, and 44 short dance pieces AND strike all in 13 hours. Yes, it was just a dance recital; no, it wasn't exactly the Joyce. But I did a good job with what I had, brought a lot of production value to the event, and enjoyed myself tremendously. If asked, I will do it again next year. Tomorrow's event is considerably more professional in nature and will be done at the Alvin Ailey theater. I have only a few hours to cue ten dance pieces. Then we do a dress rehearsal and do the show that night and Wednesday night. I think - unless I'm mistaken - I have this whole upcoming weekend off. I am going to SLEEP. Then I'm going to run, hopefully seven to eight miles. And I'm going to get my motorcycle half put back together. Still don't have the tank and fenders repainted yet, but there's a lot of other work to be done still.

June 1, 2006

I am faster than lightning!

Okay, not literally faster than lighting, of course, but I am faster than the storm that was rolling in tonight even as I stepped out to put in a couple of miles. I was late home from work and have to be in bed early - I'm in the middle of a hell of a long haul of work right now and it's very draining - but decided on the subway that comfort and rest be damned, I would go ahead and put in two or three miles anyway.

Initial plan was the four-mile loop around the cemetary, up the park, and over to C-Town, but due to time constraints, I had to plan a quicker route, if I hoped to make it to the store before it closed. So I told myself, "just run up to the water fountain"; said water fountain being the one on Prospect Park West and 9th street - about two miles from my house. So I did. Not a great run, not bad. Kinda mediocre. No shin pain and that's notable. Inside calf hurt though and at first I thought it might stop the run completely, but it kinda let up if I didn't run on it weird, so I kept going. Concentrated on keeping up a nice steady pace, if not particularly fast. Steady was the key word and steady I got. I was pleased with how that part went.

Got real thirsty - the humidity was something else! - but body, lungs, thirst, and pace all took a back seat to keeping an eye on the approaching storm cell, which was quite dramatically arriving, announcing its presence with vivid lightning, very loud thunder, and all bathed in the warm yellow watercolor wash my night running glasses tint things.

By the time I'd splashed some water from the fountain on my lips and headed downhill on the easy half-mile to C-Town, the first drops were beginning to come down. Block by block, I raced the storm, which I was running toward, but I didn't let myself just go all-out; remember, I was concentrating on steady pacing. About a block before C-Town, it turned from sprinkles to actual rain and just after I stepped inside, the skies just opened up. The cashiers were all a-twitter, calling their babby-daddies on the cell phones and demanding to be picked up after work - all the while neglecting their actual job. (Bah; don't get me started.)

I stood under C-Town's entryway for perhaps two minutes while I stretched my muscles and contemplated the long, wet walk ahead of me. I got a real kick in the pants when a fellow came out and lit up a cigarette next to me. Asshole. I picked up my bags and started walking to the subway.

One block and a half. Soaked to the skin. The entry to the subway was crowded with people hoping to wait out the worst of the rain, even as the water rose and puddled around their shoes. (Drainage systems were overflowed within minutes of the start of the storm.) I shouldered my way down and just managed to get through the turnstile and onto the train before the doors closed. My dripping wet self startled many of the riders, whose countenances went from shocked to thoughtful to unhappy as they realized they, too, faced a rainy walk home. Six last blocks in the rain between the subway and my house and I couldn't have been happier. Sometimes walking in the rain is great, especially when your clothes and you needed a bath anyway.

I'll rate this run a B-. Would've got a B, but I didn't quite put in 3 miles. If I can't consistently churn out 3 miles per run - and easily at that - how am I going to start a marathon training cycle?