April 28, 2009

Too early to be this hot

Well, I just got in from a run that was very much like yesterday's: short, difficult, and too warm. I'm not used to this heat yet. Yes, I know I should be heading out early in the morning, not at the height of the day's heat, but after a winter's worth of timing runs for the warmest part of the day, it's a habit that's hard to change.

But change will have to happen. I can't keep going out in 80 and 90 degree weather like this, not without a longer acclimatization period. (Last year, by mid-summer, it didn't bother me nearly as much to go out running after work, when the weather could still easily be mid-90s.)

But when you go out with your lungs pumped full of albuterol and a water bottle in your hand and can barely get a mile or mile and a half done, you know you're not yet ready. My legs are fine. I like that they get warmed up much faster in this heat than normal - and my various aches and pains are generally down across the board. But my lungs do not cotton to this weather at all. The only way it could be worse if it were humid as well. (Last week, it was humid and warm, but not hot and I was already having breathing trouble.) I was coughing my head off today, but not producing much gunk. Sweating, though...madly. If I recall, the way the body adapts to the heat is to learn to sweat more and earlier, which is interesting, because I feel like I was sweaty enough. It's also clear to me that even for short runs, I'm going to have to switch back to HEED or taking a salt pill before I go out, because by the time I was done today, I had salt granules on my skin and a headache - and that's from just 15 minutes of jogging!

I've been running a different route for these short runs. My Prospect Park-and-back route is naturally a 2 or 3.4 miler, depending if I turn around at the top of the last hill or go all the way to Pritchard Square and back. My flat route out toward Owl's Head is either 2.5, 4, or 5 depending on which major turnaround point I use. But for a quick 1.5 miler, it is better to go to the little jog on 36th street along the cemetary and return. This involves a longish uphill of several blocks and the turnaround is at its peak. It also has the advantage of being away from most traffic and on a sidewalk that is a) uncrowded and b) in the shadow of the MTA bus depot buildings.

Tomorrow's run will be longer - probably the full Pritchard Square run, because I don't think I'm going to have much time Thursday or Friday. I have an appointment with an endocrinologist Thursday and then leave for Blairstown for the weekend (lighting design).

Interesting moment, toward the end of my run today: while pausing for a traffic light and breathing a little too hard for comfort, I heard a woman in a white van shout "Hey, man!" but didn't think she was talking to me. When she repeated herself, I looked up and she said, "Nice body!". yeah, I was running shirtless today. I'm not going to take any prizes at the Mr. Universe contest, with my skinny arms and barrel chest, but it's nice to hear a comment like that from a complete stranger once in a while. I said thanks and finished my run.

April 26, 2009

Wiped out

Somewhat sore after yesterday's run. Went to BBQ after, taking the
rest of my chili, which we put on the hotdogs. Host's first time
making ribs. Ok, but not my style. Generally a very nice evening.
Except for drinking diet sodas and just one beer, didn't watch what I
was eating. So spent last night with belly pain; not much sleep. So I'm
wiped out today.

It's hot. I'm walking around trying to stretch my aching muscles and
have ducked into a Dunkin Donuts for coffee and to cool off. 90 degrees! A record by 8.

Sent from my iPhone

April 25, 2009

This week in running...

Dateline: New York

My runs this week have consistently improved. I'm still walking some, but...less. Due to torential downpours, I took Monday off, but ran Tuesday through Thursday. Tuesday's was a complete loss, as I felt like I had to crap after every few steps. Let that be a lesson to me that I can't literally roll out of bed and go for a run - I should visit the toilet first. Wednesday's was still a short run, but improved. Thursday's run was even better, 2 miles with very little walking.

I went to the gym Friday, where I tried not to overdo it, knowing today would be a long run. I did five minutes warming up on the stationery bike, then lots of foam roller and stretching, then weights, pushups, and pullups. I may have gone a little overboard - my stomach and calves were sore this morning and that didn't help the run.

I was out of bed by 6:30 and headed to the park by 8:45. I was running a little late, as I was to meet Michelle and her friend at 9. I got up to the Pritchard Square and met them - we chatted a few minutes and decided to start by doing the park loop clockwise, against traffic. They apparently let me set the pace or something - I was ahead of them, and though it was a "slow and steady" thing, I could only get about a half-mile before needing to walk and cough a bit. I let them go ahead and continue on so their run would not be interrupted - I didn't see them again.

I had a hard time with my stomach on this run. I just couldn't get it to empty. Too much breakfast? Sustained Energy mixed too rich? I don't know. I did complete the last mile continuously and was happy for that, but after finishing my run and while walking around cooling down, I lost the contents of my stomach - and yes that included breakfast. I felt a lot better afterwards.

So 6.7 miles for today. It was enough of a workout that I needed a nap after and my calves were tingling in that way that tells me the workout was good.

Dateline: Boston
Many friends completed the Boston Marathon last Monday. Steve Walker, host of Phiddipidations podcast (always "Phidipidators" in my head, tho), finished on four short weeks of training in an astoundingly good 5:01. It was exactly an hour slower than his marathon PR - and on so little training! Now, that's a runner! Another runner who came in at 5 hours is my new blog friend Mark Buschle. Mark is a runner w/ cystic fibrosis and is going to run the Flying Pig marathon next Sunday, May 3rd. Crazy. You can read his race report here.

Steve G, runner w/ severe asthma and one of the first two athletes w/ severe lung disease to be accepted by BAA, finished the marathon, but was immediately hospitalized. You can see a clip of him here:
and a writeup of him in the hospital after the race here
Boston Globe

Way to go Steve!

Dateline: Florida. I think.

My mom has started running. I admit I was less than enthusiastic over the phone about the news, but not for want of pride. When I'd mentioned to mom that I think she and Dad could realistically be getting more exercise, I'd envisioned longer bike rides, not that she'd take up running. I haven't heard anything since that first phone conversation, but I did counsel her that every-other-day is fine. It would be nice to be able to run a 5K or 10K with mom somtime, but it would be embarassing to be trounced by her, too. Well, that would make me all the prouder.

April 20, 2009

a quick Sunday

Man today went quick. I worked the whole day on the start of a new website for a CF organization. Long way to go, but a good, solid start. Have sent off the results to the editor for approval before I go too deep into building the rest of the pages; though with .css making stylistic changes is fairly easy. My extensive experience in Photoshop and Illustrator are helpful as well.

Well, I should have rested Saturday and done my run today. It was 15 degrees cooler and we didn't get the rain that had been predicted on Friday. THAT will come tomororw.

Which kinda sucks for the poor souls about to run the Boston Marathon. I'll be up trying to find live coverage on TV and rooting for my friends Steve G., Steve Walker, and Mark. Steve G has severe asthma and was accepted as a special-case walker, Steve Walker is a runner w/ mild exercise-induced asthma and will be tackling this marathon with a minimum of training, and Mark is a fellow runner with CF. He's much faster than me, though. :)

I am going to apply to the New York state Over 21 program, which helps out adults with CF pay their medical bills. What their insurance doesn't pick up, they do - but in exchange for 7% of your income. For a lot of us, I'm guessing the choice is easy - that would be far less than what we pay out of pocket on many health insurance plans. Me, I'm subject to a $3,000 cap on my out-of-pocket expenses, supposedly, but I do spend that nearly every year, sometimes more. Hopefully, I won't be charged too much for participation in the program, especially after the dismal numbers my 2008 taxes show. Maybe with this program, I'll go bankrupt a little bit slower.

tomorrow, it's back to the real world. Got to prep for teaching a class I haven't seen in 3 weeks - half of whom didn't do their homework last week. I actually don't care if they do their homework - I am evaluating how they're doing on in-class work as we go. As long as they pick up skills x, y, and z to some extent, then I'm satisfied. Still, I do give quizzes and have to give a final. THAT is coming up rather quickly.

April 18, 2009

I am really curious who this could be


Crappy long run

I should've stuck to the plan. My PLAN was to run a mile or thereabouts every day this week. My PLAN was to take Saturday off to rest. My PLAN was to do 5 miles Sunday.

But Michelle emailed and said she's going to go running with a group in Prospect Park and did I want to come - Saturday? Well, no, actually, I doubted I'd be out of bed at that time, but if she's running on Saturday, I guess I should, too. And then there was the weather report - sunny Saturday, rainy Sunday. How ironic.

So I went out today, tired from the work week getting a show open, and a little sore all over.

I waited too long to go out. Did my run about 3:00 and by then it was 76 degrees out. I was not prepared for that kind of heat. I'd sweated and struggled Friday, when it was only 62 degrees when I ran. I took a bottle of water with me, but probably should have made it HEED instead. This turned into a very slow 4-miler, with about 1/4 of the distance walked. I'd get three or four blocks, walk a block, over and over. I got to the end of the second mile and was just done. Going the extra half mile down to Owl's Head was not possible.

Things were a little easier coming back. I still couldn't manage more than four blocks at a time, but my legs found it easier to pick it back up and keep going. My lungs just couldn't support the effort, though.

The silver lining, as always, is that I coughed up quite a bit - a good partner to my regular therapy.

I will take tomorrow off.

Some other items: 1) The Brooklyn Half is back on. End of May, reverse route. Two full laps of Prospect Park, then out at the southwest corner, across on Ft Hamilton, and then down Ocean to the boardwalk. There's a tiny little bit on the boardwalk and we end at the baseball stadium. Well...it'll be nice to get the hills done early. Then maybe take a while and walk around on the boardwalk and eat hotdogs 'til I feel sick.

2) Speaking of Coney Island, apparently the amusement park aspect isn't going to die - Ringling Bros. is doing something down there this summer. Should be good.

3) I've been much better about extended stretching after my runs, throwing in 10 pushups between types of stretches; i.e. stretch hamstrings, do 10 pushups, stretch quads, do 10 pushups, stretch calves, do 10 pushups, etc. Today I did 40 pushups, raising my feet higher on my steps with each successive set of 10. My pecs are sore, but... well, I've lost a lot of upper body muscle tone since March of '08, when I really in pretty good shape. I'm working to recapture that.

4) I'm not taking tomorrow off completely. I will walk up to the gym, then avail myself of the stationary bike, foam rollers, and weights.

I have more news, but I have to verify some things before I post them.

April 15, 2009

God, I suck

The current issue of Esquire is all about what it means to be a man, especially in this post-industrialized age. I'm only a few pages into it, but several things said have struck a chord with me. Sometimes I don't feel like a man. I don't feel like a man when I'm sick. These last couple weeks I haven't felt like a man, because I haven't felt like I have good time or money management skills.

Which is to say, I haven't run since Cooper River Bridge run because I've been up to my eyeballs in work and doing my taxes. Yeah, as unemployed as I am, when I do have a gig, it's an all-out thing, spending 12 to 14 hours a day in the theatre preparing the lighting for a show. In the middle of all that, I am kicking myself for not having completed my taxes in February and March, when I was sick and had more time.

I am mostly kicking myself for not keeping my receipts wrangled last year. I HAVE them all. But sometime around early April last year I stopped sorting the minor receipts (work-related expenses, groceries, etc), though I did keep up with sorting and filing the major receipts. But I hadn't entered any of it into my spreadsheet after March. Dammit.

As it turns out, it was easier than I thought, it just took many hours. First I downloaded my bank and credit card statements into my accounting software and started reconciling line items receipt by receipt. I matched up every credit and debit card charge with paper and online receipts (which I'd printed to PDF or kept receipt emails in a separate email folder). This wasn't too bad. I'll be better at it this year, I think. The important thing is to reconcile at least once a month because, frankly, I had several receipts for charges which didn't show up on my statements. Here's a receipt saying I spent such and such at this place using my debit card, but nowhere does it appear in my bank statements. Weird.

This year, I must keep better track of my non-deductible expenses. I don't have to keep those receipts permanently, but I do need to keep them long enough to enter them into my software.

So. Moving from reconciling receipts and accounting for all major expenses, I could start plugging numbers into TurboTax. All my expenses are categorized in my accounting software, so I just have to find where each number fits correctly. This was not easy this year, as TurboTax changed the flow of the interview questions, leading me to have to backtrack several times; and also leading me to believe I may have screwed up in previous years with how mortgage interest is handled. Maybe not --- the bare numbers on the final paperwork didn't change much. My income last year was down from the year before, but not by much. My expenses were up, but not by much. Frankly, when you pay as much mortgage interest as I do, that one number kinda overwhelms all the others. Long story short - I'm getting a small refund (very small), which is a relief, since I have no money to pay if I'd actually owed.

So...having finally gotten my e-filing done at 3:49 a.m. this morning, I was able to get out of bed and go for a run! It was a short run, I'm afraid, as I'm dealing with gout again. (This bout has been going since Saturday, though it has settled down to being merely uncomfortable when walking and only mildly painful when running.) I ran harder than I usually would, since I knew the run would be short -- and also because a couple blocks out, it started to rain. For some reason, I welcomed this. Maybe it helps I knew I was going out for only a mile, if that, but I was able to keep a good pace the whole time. Once I got back home, I tacked on extended stretching of muscles that are sore and creaky from sitting at a tech table for a week and two sets of 15-pushups with my feet raised up on the steps. This is hard! I will have to do more of it.

So. I have two goals over the next six weeks: work back to consistency: a 20-30 minute workout each day. Short, brief, nothing major; just get the blood moving. Some of those should be on the stationary bike or eliptical at the gym. When I do go to the gym, extended time with the foam rollers and such. Second goal: get one mid-week run and the weekend long run mileage back up there so that I'm racking up at least 20 miles per week, with 9 or 10 of them being the long run. This is important, as the Brooklyn Half is at the end of May.

And that's the big update. Sorry to have been so quite - just been busy. Staying busy, too. Gotta fix my bike and then I go out to New Jersey to light The Diviners. In the middle of that, I have to come back to New York for my first appointment with the diabetes doctor.

April 5, 2009

The 32nd Annual Cooper River Bridge Run

I've heard about this race for a long time. "Have you run the bridge yet?" and "10Ks? yeah, they're great. Have you ever done the one in Charleston?" and "Hey, instead of jumping off this here bridge, mister, maybe you could learn to enjoy life again, take up running, and try running OVER a bridge - maybe the big shiny new one that goes over the Cooper River in Charleston!"

I arrived in Charleston on Wednesday, flying in under grey, wet skies. And boy were my arms tired! Mom and Dad picked me up and we had a nice sushi dinner at a local restaurant. I got Dad to try a wasabi roe, which he hadn't had before.

Thursday was ID card day, and Dad and I took care of that quickly, thanks to the groundwork laid by Mom. She worked the Susan G Komen booth at the race expo all of Thursday and Friday. I took Mom there Friday morning and stayed so as to talk to Scott Eisley, the reporter from ABC 4 News. While killing time, I ran into Bart Yasso, runner extraordinaire and Runner's World race liason. I chatted with him a little bit, saying how much I'd enjoyed his book. I hope to meet him again someday. [edit: I need to call him, actually, and see if he'd like to join a particular episode of the Runners' Roundtable that Toni Harvey and I have been chatting about.]

I went for a short jog around in the area while waiting for Scott. After the incredible rains of Wednesday and Thursday, Friday turned out simply beautiful - warm and breezy and a bright blue sky. I didn't go far, but appreciated the warm-up the jog provided and the stretching afterward. While stretching, I talked to the guys from Force Protection, which also sponsored the race, and who were showing off one of their new vehicles (they provide armored vehicles to the military). I also met the race director of the Marine Corp Marathon when he came out to get the Force Protection guys to hang the Marine Corp flag on top of the vehicle the right way up (they'd hung it upside down in the dark in the early a.m.)

Scott showed up, we did our thing, and he put together a very nice segment you can see in the post below this one.

Packet pickup was, for me, a breeze, but only because I did so early. By late Friday, however, the line to get in was literally around the block, even as Dad and I were picking up Mom at nearly 9:00, an hour after the expo was "closed". Frankly, they could use a massive reorganization on the packet-pickup end of things. If anybody from the race director's office is listening, here's my basic recommendations:

1) Put the number pickup on stage - more boxes, more volunteers.
2) HUGE number range signs on BOTH sides of the table.
3) The number lookup boards can be on the steps down on the way into the auditorium, and the goodie bag pickup on the steps on the way out. Move those particular expo vendors to where you had bib pickup.
4) ID check.

Race day was great. It was somewhat chilly starting out - high 40's - and I wore shorts, long sleeve running t, and a disposable poncho mom had gotten at Niagra Falls. This turned out to be a GREAT thing to have - I kept much warmer than I would have been otherwise, while waiting for the race to start. Other people were envious.

Now, I will say that even though the whole event is great and worth running, the course also needs organizational improvement. While waiting in the red bibs area for the start, I noted that despite repeated announcements to the effect that bib separation would be enforced and strollers are strictly prohibited, that there were, in fact, no real barriers to people starting where they wanted, which was to cause problems later, and plenty of people with strollers - including one triple-wide Mom and I spotted long after my race was over.

But these small things aside, the start area was OK. Nothing fancy, but the traffic had been cleared out, there plenty of police officers in sight, and lots and lots of portajohns, even though the lines for such were about 45 minutes long! Coffee was readily available at various regular businesses that opened early for us. Baggage is not something that seemed to be taken too seriously. There were trucks which would take your crap to the finish line, but most people simply didn't bring anything to put on the truck. And for a simple 10K, they shouldn't. Most people who had bags were walkers and they simply carried their bags. (BTW, the race bag is great - high quality and very colorful.)

There was music through the speakers for a while, but then some lady started talking and the music cut out. In NY, the talking happens over the music turned low. And there aren't any pauses. It's either race announcements or music or both continuously. Not the case here. I missed the UP ENERGY of continuous music and our professional announcer. I guess my point with all this is that for any point-to-point course, you need 50% more organization than an out-and-back. And for a race with numbers rivaling the NY Marathon's...you really have to bring your A game.

The first two miles were my best. I can't post a graph from my watch right now. Technical difficulties. But I can say that those first two miles, on a slight downgrade, were done without walking, at about an 12-minute/mile pace. I started walking in the third mile, when the bridge uphill started. The bridge is the new one over the Cooper River and is no joke. It isn't as long as the Verazzano - felt a lot like the 59th street bridge, actually. Almost all of us slowed to a walk in the upper half of the bridge. (This is where I stopped to get the picture of myself at the top of this post.) I started jogging again before the crest and fell into a rhythm of running a quarter mile, walking a minute, for the rest of the race. Somehow, I just couldn't string more distance together. But my overall pace stayed at about 11 min/mile.

The downgrade was breezy, easy, beautiful. I started to see a lot of characters - girls in tutus, Gumby on his horse, not one but FOUR Richard Simmons, and the like. I also saw two Marines carrying the colors. This is also the point I began to wish there were some actual course marshals as the walkers I was STILL passing were not obeying the "runners to the left, walkers to the right" rule.

Towards the end of mile 4, we reached the bottom of the bridge and turned into downtown Charleston. This was a bit of a funnel effect here. The course was never not crowded, but now it was once again elbow to elbow. We made several turns onto different streets and then finally passed the six mile marker and had only .2 to go. I ramped up my speed a little and then really finished strong once I saw the finish line.

I crossed with an elapsed time of 1:14:28, exactly a 12-minute-per-mile pace. I must have slowed quite a bit in the last two miles. I feel I did a fair effort.

The finish area is pretty good. Plenty of distance to keep walking, but not too much to HAVE to walk. People could split out pretty quickly, and they had a whole park reserved for finishers to meet up with family and get water and fruit. I met up with Mom and we ducked into a bar to have a celebratory beer while we watched a lot of the other people finishing. The bar was just before the sixth mile mark and Mom and I cheered on a lot of the walkers coming in even an hour after I'd finished. In fact, this is probably my best place finish of all my races. I came in 19,284th place out of about 31,940 finishers.