November 30, 2006

I am a...ballerina?

Got ice on the ankles right now, so I'll get this post done. Just got back from a relatively quick 5K run, just up to the park and back. My whole goal today was just to get out there and not abort the run. Now that knees are off the radar (for now), it seems like it's time for the ankles and shins to give me trouble. I DID go to the doc yesterday, where the doc who built my orthotics took a look at things. I pointed out that the only consistent pain - and the only pain that is of worrying intensity - is deep inside my left ankle. He quickly found the problem - a form of shin splints that has to do with the tendon that wraps around the end of the femur down in the ankle. He said it's most often seen in ballerinas. greeeeaaaat. Um, yeah...I'm gonna have to ask you not to spread that around the office. People will get the wrong idea, ya know.

He did modify the orthotics a touch and prescribed a lot more stretching of the calves. That was the fix last time I had shin splints consistently, after all, so it should work again. In addition, I'm going back to using the theraband to strengthen these ankle muscles, though the doc said that'll take months.

Anyway...the run today. Took a couple of ibuprofen, slipped into my shoes, and got out the door. I started off with a slow jog, but soon upped the pace as much as my painful shins and ankles were letting me, because today was not about having to save energy. Today was about getting some elevation in and just getting the joints and blood moving.

The splits are mildly deceiving, in that I paused the workout twice to stop and stretch a great deal. So the splits don't show actual overall time, but only "moving" time. That said, this was a good run despite the pain. I got the pain to mostly abate in the last mile and was able to pick up the pace at points throughout the run to a sub-10. On one flat section coming back, I noted I was kicking a 9:10 pace at that moment and...wait for it.... I actually felt GOOD. Heart, lungs, legs, even ankles at that moment, all working together... YES! I just need more of that. Lot's more of that.

The downhills I took gingerly, as the pounding to the ankles intensifies. But on the other hand, I lengthened my stride, which allowed a better ankle-to-toe roll, rather than coming down flat with my feet.

In other news, I couldn't wait 'til this weekend's long run and went ahead and listened to the most recent Pheddip, ep 73, an argument against the Slate article by Gabriel Sherman. I was looking forward to Steve giving it to Gabriel with both barrels, but Steve's rebuttal doesn't come to the table with enough of its own research (Steve relies on classic debate tactics and logic arguments, rather than bringing in new information) so the whole thing feels like he was holding back; he merely winged Gabriel. I'd really like Steve to let go and have more bleeped out words and really take us on an emotional rollercoaster. But Steve is just TOO NICE! Or too responsible, I guess. But Steve did a great job of picking Gabriel's argument apart - which I'm sure Gabriel counts on, as his whole point is to draw traffic to the article. (And though Gabriel is not the first or last to hold his position, he uses fantastically bad arguments to support it.)

I also had the opportunity to listen to an episode that didn't download correctly the first time, so I was playing catchup. Imagine my surprise to find my own blog featured as Steve's blog-o-the-week in episode 71, the Cost of Running. It was a nice surprise.

November 28, 2006

I want to be an H.A.M.

No, not a ham, a H.A.M. - High-Activity Mouse.

Couple days ago, I went out for 16 miles. Things were bad right off the bat and got worse as I went, so I cut things short at 3 miles and walked home. I wasn't too worried about this, since even Ironman and ultrarunner Beast sometimes cuts his runs short when things aren't going right. But as I did that short run, I listened to Pheddipidations again. Steve Runner was talking about exercise addiction, of which I can safely say I am not personally under the whip. He cited a study done using regular mice and mice that had noticeably higher activity levels when allowed free access to their wheels. The study attempted to ascertain the physical and mental differences between the mice, as well as what happens when the mice are restrained from getting their excercise in. The scientists noted distinct brain activity changes during the time of day the mice would otherwise have hopped on the exercise wheel.

All I could think was how much I wanted to be a High-Activity Mouse; how getting out there must be so easy when one is driven to it by the same mechanisms that addict us to chocolate, morphine, alcohhol, and crack. *sigh*

This week's Pheddip. talked about running legend Jim Fixx. Not one of Steve's better "running legends" episodes, mostly because there isn't much to say about ol' Jim. He got fat, his dad died of a heart attack, Jim starts running to prevent the same thing, and - guess what? - died of a heart attack or stroke while on a run. Surely he was not the first, and definitely not the last (or most recent), but still. The point is: runners, go get your cholesterol levels checked, because they can still be way too high. (and there's this article from 2002, in which my own sports doc quotes marathon death rates as being 1 in 50,000 to 100,000. I hope that number has gone down since then.)

I made up the 16 today. My splits are a little off because my watch measured the run about .3 miles short - no big deal as I haven't calibrated the footpod yet and I know the miles are being measured a touch long anyway. I put in over three hours of excercise and feel that'll have to do.

This was not a good run. As the table shows, I actually managed to achieve one of my goals for most of the run: more consistent splits. This is especially surprising considering my run was peppered with segments of coughing/walking, though even those came at regular intervals. Also, miles 4 through 8 were a real bitch - right into a stiff headwind and the sun disappearing behind a blanket of clouds. I AM solar-powered, after all, and the sun skedaddling didn't help. I am pleased to note that my pace was, on average, just a touch faster than last week's 13-miler, up until the last three miles, at which point, the entire run went right to hell.

It's to be expected, I guess. First 16-miler since the hard 18-miler a couple months ago. And THIS run was far more consistently done. However, the last five miles had me in considerable pain as my muscles started getting really tight. In the last three, I had to walk a block for every five I ran and I had to stop and stretch twice. I had left ankle pain the entire run and wished I'd brought some Excedrin along to help dull it, even though I already had Tylenol in my system. I'll address this with the doc tomorrow.

Okay, 16 down, a hundred to go. New shoes are breaking in nicely; very happy with them. Like the Polar heartrate monitor system a lot. May have to break out the running pants for next week's run - part of the problem today was staying warm enough in the wind. Next week is supposed to be 21, but I may do a cut-down and do 11 instead, following up the week after with 21. We'll see how I feel towards the end of this week.

Oh, and I'm getting the cold-water bath thing down, but as far as adding ice, I'm not up to that yet. And boy did the warm shower after feel good!

November 23, 2006

Toronto Thursday

Dateline: Far Coast, Toronto

I investigate a coffee shop.

I'm sitting in the Far Coast coffee shop in downtown Toronto, enjoying an OK cup of morning java and a damn good ginger loaf. In case you hadn't heard, Far Coast is the stealth flagship brewed-beverage store of Coca-Cola. The local liberal free rag (NOW) opines that Teh Evul Coke Overlorrds Are Poysining Us With Coffee-lies and Confekshunery-dreams. OH NOES!

It's not at all the sinister corporate front it's made out to be. True, their mission of eco-friendly coffiteering is half-realized at best. They did use a lot of reclaimed wood in the interior design and made an effort with cups and stirs to be green, but a coffee shop is a coffee shop and that can only go so far. Coke, the parent company, is under a lot of criticism for its practices in other countries and has intentionally created this store to be as distant from their softdrink image as possible. Their money, though, is evident. This is the first three-story coffeeshop I've ever been in and the orange, teal, cream, and brown color scheme smacks of expensive design teams. This is the first time I've seen such a brightly-colored sip lid and it hurts my eyes. However, I like their bamboo stirs, which make wonderful five-stick wooden throwing stars. (Remember those?) The picture shows their sugar/cream station, which is a weak point in their design. It's too neat and contained to allow for adequate flow-thru of customers. Because we all know that the only good coffee is coffee REGULAR, you hear me you black-coffee-drinking sonsabitches?? I predict they'll change these stations out for more open counters in six months or so.

Well, it's been an interesting short week here in Toronto. During my three days of teaching, I didn't get a single run in. At nights I was reviewing the next day's material and I really needed to get eight or nine hours of sleep before I teach - it's the only way to stay focused. Because if I don't stay focused, I start making bad puns and inappropriate references to Office Space and that's just not professional. So it was with a great feeling of freedom that I was able to enjoy myself last night. I was a good boy and did not patronize the strip club across from the hotel. Instead, I caught the latest Bond flick and then went out with a complete stranger for some drinks.

I take in a movie.

It can only bode well when an action movie's star has two first names. As if to prove it, Casino Royale is supremely well-done. Daniel Craig's Bond is, as some reviewers have said, "not your daddy's James Bond." He's meaner in all ways, tougher in most ways, and downright sick in the head at many moments. He is a hired killer and spy for MI-6, period. That is the core of the new Bond character and there ain't much veneer around it. This new Bond is in many ways far more thrilling and captivating than even Sean Connery's. (Don't get me wrong: Connery was a complete Bond, the embodiment of Bond and had there never been another, I would be happy; I still hold his characterization in high regard.) Daniel Craig's Bond, however, is written far closer to the books' Bond than his movie predecessors and, indeed, it is an appropriate choice, as Casino Royale happens at the beginning of Bond's career. As such, it is a story based more in intrigue and cat-and-mouse games than it is in gadgets, charm, or easy one-liners. (In fact, the highest technology we see in this movie are cellphones and a defriballator only slightly smaller than the ones now adoring airport walls these days. There IS a brief moment of tracking chip technology - essentially a human Low-Jack - but this technology never even comes into play. As for one-liners, there are quite a few, but none have the cheese factor we've come to expect - they're intelligent and witty!)

This is a spy novelist's movie. You don't have to have seen a Bond movie before or even read one of the books to instantly be drawn into Casino Royale and enjoy every minute. It is also a movie that chicks will enjoy almost until the end. This Bond is not a silver-tongued devil, though he does get his fair share of women. He admits easily that his job comes first and that he's not particularly connected to the fairer sex except physically. One whip-sharp exchange goes:

Bond: Don't worry, you're not my type.
Vesper: Smart?
Bond: Single.

Daniel Craig also is the first Bond to go full monty, IIRC. The way Craig is built, ladies and gay men everywhere will pass right the fuck out.

The film has plenty of action sequences that will get the blood going, of course, but like Bond's character, the action relies more on brute force than technology, the camera work taking you in close and fast in a way that touches your gut. (In a way, it's like comparing all the old footage of helicopter shots of marathons to the close-up blood-sweat-and-tears shots of the front runners.) This Bond chases people on foot. A lot. He also kills people. A lot. He gets roughed up in the process, too, ending up in the hospital at least twice and temporarily dead at least once. The ending may shock you. It does NOT end like every other Bond film and this particular Bond's character is thrown into sharp relief against the light of reality. And it isn't until the very last line of the movie that we get to hear the signature "My name is Bond. James Bond." Bond fans everywhere: prepare to reboot.

I go out.

After the movie, I had a message from an internet acquaintance I've never met before, Andre, and we decided to go get a drink together. We ended up in a small, fairly deserted tappas bar that I'm sure is packed Friday and Saturday nights. The music was excellent; the Italian hottie manning the bar was courteous, charming, and quick with the liquor; and the atmosphere relaxing. Their martinis were large and I was pleased to find out they were half-price on Wednesdays. Ladies, it only took two of these to have me three-quarters drunk. $8 Canadian. I'm such a cheap date.

Andre turned out to be a sharp guy. A few years ago, he started working out and now sports a fitness-mag physique. Just been working up to it, he says, slow and steady. We compared notes a bit on the differences between his training and mine and he gave me some pointers on starting a core-excercises program. He thinks my idea of getting a climber's fingerboard for my wall at home is a good one. Andre is well aware of American politics, too, having lived in Florida during Dubbya's first election, and as dangerous a topic as politics is, we had some good conversation.

I run.

Getting up this morning was harder than hell. But I wanted to get a run in before I had to pack up and get out of the room, so I was out of bed by 10. Unfortunately, another goddamn bloody nose ambushed me and I lost 30 minutes to getting it stopped. The dry air here, combined with the dry heat in the room and my propensity to leak blood from my beak, is the culprit. I'm surprised it hasn't been a problem over the last four days. Still, I strapped on the watch, the shoepod, the heartrate monitor, skinnied into my running shorts and a long-sleeve tech T and headed out.

I've been wearing my new pair of Adrenaline 6's since Sunday, except during teaching, when I had dress shoes on. Today was the first run with them. The shoes felt really REALLY good on my feet and it highlighted for me just how quickly running shoes wear out. My old ones have definitely lost something that these shoes still have.

It was cold out - I could see my breath - but not cold enough to opt for pants. I didn't jackrabbit the start, just took my time and started jogging up Yonge street. I only had time for about three miles, reckoning on an overall 12-minute pace due to coughing fits, crowded sidewalks, and waiting for lights. While moving, my running pace was a steady 10:15 mile, though. It felt good. My legs have recovered from last Saturday's long run and carried me well today. I needed this run as I'd been feeling stiff from being on my feet for three days and my legs feel better right now than they have in a week.

I mapped out my route before hand, noting that a building I'd done some 3D modeling for while it was in the construction stages was nearby. Google maps said a round-trip would be just over three miles, but it turned out to be 2.64. Oh, well. The building itself (1 King West) looked exactly like the promotional pre-visualization renderings had pictured it. I did the modeling for much of the lobby and I couldn't believe how close our furnishing layouts had been followed. It was really something to see the product of my work - to whatever extent I had contributed. The tower above the old converted bank building is a modern glass tower in an elliptical shape - every bit as imposing in real life as in the renderings three years ago. Finished my run in 32:44, about a 12:25 mile pace. I got to see some of Toronto and have fun doing it and managed to get back, shower, and check out of my hotel room with five minutes to spare.

By the way, I'd like to remark on how clean Yorktown (downtown Toronto) is. Smokers are few and discarded butts are almost nonexistent. The streets and sidewalks are very clean and remarkably gum-spot free. This area is very mixed-use, too. Condo towers reside next to office towers and the lower floors are almost all shopping and restaurants. It's a business district that has a night-life and a weekend-life. Nice to see. And in general, it's a very nice, calm, peaceful town. Even their manhole covers look like peace symbols.

November 19, 2006

Landed in Toronto

Well, I've been in Toronto for two hours, now, 90 minutes of which was spent getting to my hotel. Apparently, Torontoans are even more holiday-obsessed than Americans and roll out Santa Clause, trees, and trimmings earlier than we do. Several of their main drags in downtown area were closed off for their Santa parade and the resultant traffic jam, as well as the deeply urban mixed-use type of scenery, really reminded me of Elizabeth, NJ.

My legs...well, geez, what was I expecting? I knew after ten miles yesterday that I'd pay for the additional three today, and I am. Not so much pain that I was willing to pay airport prices for painkillers, though. but since I did leave my magic bottle of painkillers at home (mixed ibuprofen, Tylenol, Excedrin, and Alleve), I'll have to track down a CVS or something here.

But first there are other things to find, such as the venue where I'm teaching tomorrow. And I need to check out the sushi/teppanyaki joint next door. And I'm mildly amused that from my room, I have a great view of a bustling downtown metropolis...with a stripjoint front and center, across the street. Brass Rail: "totally nude female interactive dancing" the sign says. Having not seen a nude female in some time, I am powerfully tempted....

but hey, this is a family friendly running blog, so no more on that!

If anybody's in Toronto and wants to get together, I have all of Thursday free; my flight doesn't leave 'til 6:15. I want to run the lakeshore or something or maybe just see some sights.

November 18, 2006

Decent long run

I haven't put in any entries this week because I didn't want to sound like I was whining. I got two runs in, both aborted due to pain. They SUCKED. My disappointment and self-doubts grew daily. If I can't run three miles, what makes me think I can run 26.2??

Well, we've been here before, haven't we? Oh, yes, we have. In fact, for pretty much most of the summer. Knowing this was a light of hope in this dark week because I had faith that my body would somehow dig deep and be able to do today's long run.

(Frankly, I think the physical therapy may have gone overboard, since I alwasy hurt after PT. That has now been discontinued, on doc's orders, until my next injury, I'm sure.)

And so it happened. What a glorious, beautiful day to run. It had turned cloudy and windy by the time I actually got out at about 2. 13 miles on the books for today. Could I do it? That's significantly more than the 9.4 I wound up running last week. But I preppred well, including good hydration Friday, two Excedrin about noon, and brought my gel and HEED. (Forgot to bring Endurolytes; turned out to be a non-issue.)

Making an exception to my rule about no music during long runs, I listened to Phedippidations episodes to get caught up. The first one, about the bravery and courage of long-distance runners, was good company on the outbound leg of my run. Though I don't quite buy Steve's conclusions in this episode, it was good food for thought. Besides, it certainly felt brave to intentionally go out for 6.5 miles before turning around. What if I couldn't get back?

The turnaround point was approximately two miles beyond the Verazzano, just a couple hundred yards shy of the Toys R Us at Gravesend Bay. Coming back, I listened to the podcast in which Steve runs the 31st Marine Corps Marathon. He had a hard time with congestion and also commented on the stiff wind they ran into for half the race - something I could immediately sympathize with as I was now running into a stifff wind myself. It was hard to keep warm and I was working harder to keep going. My lungs also chose this time to start a mild asthma attack, though nothing I couldn't handle.

Now, at the beginning of this week, I finally purchased a fancy-schmancy running watch complete with heartrate monitor and shoepod for rate and distance. Though I haven't calibrated the distance yet, I decided to trust the watch when the autolap beeps seemed to correspond with the mile markers I remember from running with the calibrated Nike+ nano. Okay. According to gmaps, I may have gone a little longer than the watch says; but as the last 5K was a mile struggle, I don't think a half mile more or less really much matters.

It was interesting keeping an eye on my heartrate. In general, I stayed right in the training zone. But my hunch about what happens when I have coughing fits and why I have to walk is right on. For the first time, I have empirical evidence that my heart rate jumps up quite a bit - The upper limit indicator would flash angrily. No wonder I end up walking while I cough. Average heart rate was 144, max heart rate 158. According to the watch, I spent a good 40 minutes of time above 80% max HR and my average is at 78% MHR.

And now I can look at splits, too!

I can really see where I finally got warmed up, where the wind started affecting me, and where I started to run out of steam. Neat. I look foward to trying to make my runs more evenly paced.

My lungs felt pretty good most of the time, aside from the mild asthma, and that helped. I was bringing up a lot off gunk, but I've been doing that all week. Probably due to so much time spent in the theatre this week.

Final note: I wore my Team Boomer jersey for the first time today. And got noticed! Apparently Jerry Cahill was out jogging, too and saw me; he emailed me later. I discovered that blue and white aren't a great color combo for CF runners - I need a color that will, uh, hide my effluvia. I did manage to slime myself once and that shows up pretty well on white. So I have an idea: camo-style fabrics in sputum-colored palettes.

Behold - the premiere of my new textile line: Phlegm-o-flauge!

November 9, 2006

10 down, several hundred to go

As the first official day of my two months of abbreviated marathon training, I tackled ten miles. Had my doubts, since I haven't run that far in a month, but what the hell. Slow and steady, slow and steady.

And it turned out all right. This was a good run. I got out a little after three and started jogging. Took my time, stopped to stretch a couple times in the first few miles. Warmup up slowly and never pushed the pace beyond a 10:30 mile or so. (I really need to get a sport watch I think, if my pacing is to be anything more than a guess.)

First three miles sucked, of course, as they almost always do and I kept telling myself to hang in there, the running would get easier. Problem was, I was having shin splints and that worried me. Stretching helped somewhat, but it wasn't 'til I stopped a second time, out on the path beside the bay, that I figured it out. I introduced a new stretch that closely resembles the pointing toes of ballet dancers, only I roll into it from my regular hamstring stretch. That and slightly tightening my laces seemed to help and by mile four, I was having no more problems.

I turned around at the Verazanno bridge and headed back. The whole path along the bay has been rebuilt, by the way, and no longer has dirt trail, but is all fresh asphalt. Very pleasant to run on. Had pleasant weather to run IN, too. Could not have ordered a better day for a long run if I'd tried.

I've never done thhis as an out-and-back before and it MIGHT be shorter than 10 miles, but not by much.

I ended the run by picking up the pace for the last mile. It was remarkably easy to do so, even after nine miles. I was having some left ankle pain at the point, but nothing that affected my gait, only enough to remind me to ice once I got home. I finished the run feeling good, damn good. I'd like to feel that good at the end of more runs, I tell ya. In fact, I'd LIKE to feel that good running Houston - it's really the goal there. I got to thinking that, after all her perfect training, this must be similar to how NYFlyGirl felt running the marathon last weekend. Smooth, confident, energy to burn, pace controlled, footsteps precise. More please! After this run, I almost can't wait for next weekend's 14 miler.

updated training schedule

Okay, so NOW I'm getting nervous. More than I can chew? Well, I hope all my friends will look this over and give me some advice. I'll be upping my weekly mileage by a lot, compared to the last month, but with a lot of running on the cinder paths and plenty of ice for the knees, I think this schedule is doable.

I'm apprehensive about speed work. I'm going to get a watch and do these right. Really try to keep an eye on my pace and all. I'm not concerned about my time in Houston so much as running it comfortably and steadily, so I haven't put in any particularly fast speedwork, but enough of long intervals and tempos to get me going.

So. Feedback on the schedule? Suggestions for a training watch with heartrate and distance monitoring?

Also, anybody ever hear of or use these water-repellent socks?


Gah, I hate days like this! I have this one day off for the next couple of weeks, one day in which to get quite a lot done, but I'm trapped here at home waiting on deliveries. I can't afford to miss them, it's a one-shot deal today, but with the weather so perfect outside I want to get out and get in my 10-miler, this week's long run.

I know, the day is young yet, and tonight will be warm enough that I could do the run just as easily in the dark, but still...

November 8, 2006

the post that didn't get written

Back on Thursday Nov 2, I began to write a post about the marathon expo, where I was volunteering. That turned instead into my first audio post, focusing on the question of the numbers of CF people and comparing that to the number of people running the marathon Sunday.

So I never got around to talking about volunteering at the expo. For that matter, I haven't written anything about volunteering Sunday, either. I've decided not to go into great detail in this post, either -- I'm still trying to figure out whether the volunteering even mattered. To the reader: this will be a little long, but unimportant. I did see NYFlyGirl and check her in and that's maybe the only important bit. If you only have a limited amount of time, please go read an actual runner's race report.

The facts:

My volunteering did not begin auspiciously. Oweing to a disappearing kickstand and dropping my motorcycle on my foot, twisting my ankle and knee in the process, I was late. I had tried to turn my body as I fell over in front of my house so that I wouldn't do any damage to the joints, even as I realized what was happening and that this was going to hurt. It was all very slo-mo. I had to pull my foot out of my shoe to get it out from under the bike. Then I had to recover a bit, lift my bike, make sure nothing important was broken, and get on my way. So I was late. And though I tried to pretend nothing happened, I was using Tylenol 8-hour through the three days of the expo.

So I spent Thursday through Saturday checking IDs, making edits to runners' information, and figuring out the Spanish, Italian, German, and French words for "blue", "green", and "orange". The Help Desk turned into the Solutions Desk and most of the old duties were moved out to ID check area, so it wasn't too mind-numbing being there, and I know Barbara, the volunteer in charge of that area for the last 13 years or so, was grateful to have me. I like Barbara a lot and would work with her again for sure. Not so sure I want to volunteer at the expo again, is all. I could tell a lot of stories because of those three days and there were bright moments, but all in all -- meh. Might have been better off sleeping and running.

Sunday was spent in two places: Staten Island and Central Park.

Staten Island was cool. No, sorry, I meant COLD. I met the volunteer bus at 3:45 a.m. at NYRR and we went out to the starting area. We were split up into groups and I went with to the blue food court area, where I spent the next five hours handing out donuts and bagels. (The donuts, while plain, were bona-fide Duncans and were quite tasty. The bagels, not so much.) 40 of us handing out food; could've been covered by 25. I felt marginally useful, but perhaps could have been more helpful somewhere else. Despite wearing four shirts, a jacket, and two hats, I was soon so cold I was shivering and could not stop. Cups of tea and coffee weren't warming me up and eating some donuts didn't help either. (Lesson: eat a big breakfast BEFORE standing around in 30-degree temps for five hours.) I took several breaks to walk around and warm up, using the opportunity to observe and take mental notes for next year, when I'll be one of the 37,000 suckers freezing his balls off while waiting to trot to Central Park. *sigh*

Once the runners started to line up in the corrals, the volunteers headed for the buses, which were doing double-duty as giant crowd-control barriers at the time. I got to see the blue and orange groups head toward the starting lines, shedding amazing amounts of clothes as they went. (By the time they were all gone, the toll plaza looked like a WWII battlefield, but instead of craters, imagine discarded sweats and jackets. It could not have been more artfully arranged.)

As the runners streamed out of the corrals and toward the starting line, I scanned the crowd for the lime-green Team CF jerseys that are by now so familiar to me. I saw several and hurried to catch up to these people. With each runner, I introduced myself as we trotted, telling them my name, that I have cystic fibrosis, and how much I personally appreciate their participation today. Of all my volunteering moments, it was this that truly stands out to me and made all of Sunday morning worth it.

I also want to note that when the recorded announcement mentiond the "air force will be doing a flyover before the race," she wasn't kidding. I expected something nice, but typical, perhaps a couple of jets a mile up passing over the bridge or something. Nope, we got an AWESOME buzzing by a four-prop giant plane that came in - I shit you not - no higher than 150 feet over the trees, appearing out of nowhere from behind the national guard base and turning in a tight bank to buzz out over the crowd and then narrowly avoiding the bridge itself. Sweet mother of God, I've never seen anything like that!

The afternoon was spent at the baggage trucks. I wandered around for 45 minutes looking for "hospitality" and "Dan Brown". Nobody seemed to recognize the name and obviously didn't know what the fuck hospitality meant. I tried five places, being directed from one to the next, before finding one who said Dan would have a cowboy hat on and hospitality meant bagels and bags. He directed me on up the Central Park loop and sure enough he was right. Had he not been, I would have simply gone home at that point.

I teamed up with another volunteer and two UPS drivers at their truck. These guys were GOOD. They got the bags organized and were 100% done by the time the first runners showed up. The entire day, it took no more than 45 seconds for any runner appearing at our truck to get his or her bag. We were a crack team. Not an exciting job, but we did it well. Turns out my two drivers had done this for six years and both had actually run the marathon last year. Cool. I only point out how good these guys were because, by way of contrast, the next truck down was terribly inefficient and disorganized. They couldn't get their shit together before the masses of runners showed up and so had seven drivers trying to locate bags and a crowd of chilly runners three or four deep at times.

So I'm ambivalent about the volunteering. I enjoyed myself more last year. But I am wondering if next year, it would be more expedient to volunteer for Staten Island in the morning, even as a runner. Though it means two extra hours of toe-numbing cold, I'll be out there long enough to have a difficult first few miles no matter what I do. The volunteer bus is free and I could make the time pass quickly by handing out tea and coffee, then drop my bag off, shuck a few extra clothes, and be off and running. Literally.

Another thing I'm worrying about is the finish. By the time I finish, it'll be almost as cold in Central Park as Staten Island in the morning. It's important to get to warm clothes fast...but if my truck is the 76th one, that's nearly another MILE further up. Perhaps I can persuade a friend to volunteer as, say, a chip clipper and to hold a sweatshirt for me....

And speaking of chilly runners finishing, I observed a lot of people coming in and it affirmed for me that I absolutely made the right decision not to run this. I would not have been prepared for Staten Island. I would not have run this well and would have ended up once again as one of the miserable, injured runners who were mostly in the last third. Hurting and tired is one thing, but I refuse to put myself in the position of being one of the Walking Dead, the runners who are so in pain and so unhappy. I want to be one of the guys finishing around 4:30 that, though tired, were still in good spirits and were still alert and functional. There's just no sense in it otherwise.

Well, that's it. A long post, sorry, for such an unimportant one. Please go read the other running blogs and immerse yourself in the race reports. A lot of people ran fantastic races, a lot of people actually PR'd, and their stories - a few of the 37,000 - deserve your time.

November 7, 2006

just logging a short run

Getting back in the habit of regular running is the hardest thing. Procrastination is so easy. It wasn't the run that was the problem; it was getting started!

But I did get out of the house today on this beautiful day and go for what was supposed to be a fast 5K. Turned into 2 1/2 miles because of my right ankle not-so-gently reminding me that I probably went out too fast. My running has been based in long, slow running, using the first three miles as warmup. I tried a warmup jog first today - a few blocks with pants on - the put on shorts and tried to do 9 minute miles. Hah. Riiiiiight. Back to the drawing board if I want to craft some speed workouts, cuz what I did today was just dumb.

No matter, though. I'll be putting in five miles tomorrow morning in Central Park and I've already had ice on my knees and ankle for almost twenty minutes now and they feel loads better. And I can tell the physical therapy is working, too. My foot placement is much surer, especially once I really am warmed up.

Of supreme important, though, I got out and cleared out my lungs. I'm in a cycle of late-night rehearsals in the theatre for the next two weeks and - as I noted several times to the house electrician yesterday - there's more dust in that theatre's air than ever. So it's important to go out and make myself cough. (Speaking of which, I did a lot of that, too - hills remain difficult because deeper breathing triggers coughing. Coughing happens anyway every quarter to half mile and slows me down. Whatever.)

I've got to sit down and create a new training schedule. Despite the minimal running of the last several weeks, my legs still feel good and I think the ten miles I'm planning for Sunday a.m. should be no problem. As long as I take the time to warm up first. :)

Okay, ice is done. Time for some food and a shower.

November 2, 2006

Audio Meditation 1: "One race; 30,000 stories."

This is my first attempt at audio blogging. If you were fast enough, you got the text version of this little gem. I hope you'll enjoy my initial foray into audio recording. It isn't radio quality, but if this experiment is a success, I'll work on it. And though he doesn't know it, Steve Walker deserves a nod for inspiring me to give this a shot. -CD

Right click to download Audio Mediation 1: "One race; 30,000 stories."

November 1, 2006

i'm still here

I know it's been a whle since I've posted; I've just been hellaciously busy. I've had to choose between sleeping, eating, or running over the last few weeks and, yes, my running dropped off to nearly zero. Once I'd made the decision not to run NY, I was able to concentrate on work a lot easier and my stress went way down.

But I am back on the running trails and I'm happy about that. I got in five on Monday and about three today. Today got cut short for running-related reasons, but NOT pain or injury. More about that some other time.

The ongoing physical therapy is working nicely and except for some very minor knee pain and some odd ankle pain, my legs feel great. My lungs are in better shape than they were three weeks ago, as I was able to take the hills in Central Park Monday, and that just might be because of the extended rest and, consequently, more time put into my medicines.

I'm posting tonight to announce that I am definitely running Houston in January and that I'm going to be raising funds for charitable cause. The Boomer Esiason Foundation has finally launched Team Boomer and I will be running for them in Houston. They do have some runners already in the NY Marathon, so be on the lookout for the Team Boomer logo!

I'm really happy that a CF-specific athletics group has been formed and I hope to be an active part of it. Look for me running around Central and Prospect parks wearing the nifty training jersey with the logo. I don't think I'll be wearing the shorts they sent, though, as...well, I'd be stepping into a grey area with them. They are so very short and my running boxer-briefs will show quite a bit. Not that that bothers ME, mind you, but it might cause some of YOU to go blind.

Moving on:

Expo weekend starts tomorrow. I'll be on the registration and help side for three days, so drop by, find me, say hi. I know you have to come by to get your bibs.... I'll also be out on Staten Island the morning of and will be greeting y'all in the park, probably as part of handing out bagels or helping you find your bag. It's going to be an incredibly active four days. Since I'm not running, this is all I can do...