My search-fu is weak

Apparently, anyway. I've tried various strings for a major search engine, and keep coming up with blanks. I'm not asking for much - I'm presuming that a (small) city with a population of 50k (give or take), plus several nearby communities, and at least a couple events (Cereal City Classic and the Indoor mini-Ironman) would have a few runners hanging around. Blogsearch doesn't find any of them (other than me), and I don't find mentions of running clubs. There is one in Kalamazoo, but I'm looking for something where I don't have to drive 30 minutes (or more) each way, before and after my run.

Oh well. Maybe I should start one. The ad writes itself "Slow runner seeks other like-minded lunatics who want to train for a marathon. Anyone who can run a 5k in less than 23 minutes need not apply."

(Just kidding - I wouldn't mind running with people faster than I am. After all, the longer I can keep up with them, the faster I will eventually be. In theory, anyway.)


ORN: None. See previous post for the reason. In the meantime, I am updating some of the links and making some other changes. I'll probably post some attempt at being witty and/or insightful later, but, as far as I know, no one is reading this stuff anyway.

*shrug* As I said, ultimately, I'm doing this for me, not for anyone else. Some days just wind up being harder than others.



ORN: 1/2 mile. That's it. That's all. Nothing more. My main goal today was to strap on a pair of oldish shoes and do a quick lap around the block. It's a half-mile (give or take 10 yards), and I wanted to actually listen to how my feet are hitting the ground.

The verdict is not good. At any reasonable pace, my left leg starts slapping the pavement far too quickly. This is the cause (most likely) of the shin splints. The new shoes are not the problem, though I do strongly suspect the shoes I was in today. No, the problem was that, even though I took some time off after the Disney half-marathon, I didn't take enough off, and I started back up too quickly, and too hard.

So, this time I am taking the rest of the week off. Friday, I'll evaluate it, and decide whether or not it's improving. If it isn't, I'm finding a doc who specializes in sports medicine. If it is, I might take next week off as well - I want at least a week with no pain before I start up again. I see no reason for continuing a training program that is causing a potentially serious injury. I'd rather be sidelined now, and miss one race, than push through it and sideline myself for the rest of the year.

The Martian Marathon was probably a no-go anyway. It's looking like a serious scheduling conflict might arise, and leave me with no babysitter and a long drive home right after I run. Doable, but not something I want to attempt on the first marathon.

Things change - so it might still happen. But I am going to concentrate less on my hypothetical schedule for the year, and more on the joy of running with good form and for the sheer heck of it.


Blogging and logging (the miles)

ORN: Nothing today. Todays was a planned rest day, and, given the cantankerous nature of my shin, probably worth taking off anyway.

My main thought today was that blogging and running are both, quentissentially, solitary activities. Even if you are lucky enough to belong to a runner's club, you probably do the vast majority of your running on your own. Sure, you know the other "regulars" on the road or at the gym - the guy who looks like he is excrutiating pain when he runs, the woman who always wears bright green shirts, the "kid" with a speed that you barely remember from your high school days. But you don't really know who they are - you probably don't know names, or ages, or backgrounds. You run, on your own - against yourself and for yourself. You pit each day against all that you have done before. Sometimes, you set a new PR, sometimes, you pack it in and go home early, unable to accomplish your goals.

Blogging is similar in a lot of ways. Unless you are a big blog, you probably only have a few regular readers. Local people with the same interest know who you are, and you get some random readership, but the vast majority of (non-political) blogs probably have very little traffic. There's no fame, no money, no recognition involved for almost every person who decides to cast their random musings into the vast forum of the "blogosphere." But we do it anyway - for fun, for a sense of belonging, for daily practice in prose, or 'just because.'

Anyway, random thought. The race is long, the posts are odd, but in the end, the only one who really determines what my effort is worth is me.


Marathon training, day 11

ORN: 9.3-9.4 miles, about 83 minutes, 9/1 run/walk. I was originally planning on running 10 miles, but my stomach was acting up, and when I had to reset the treadmill at the end of the first hour, I just had some real problems getting started again.

It was my first "long" run since the half-marathon, and I was pleasantly suprised to find that it wasn't actually all that hard. I started increasing the speed on the running, which helped keep the pace fairly consistent with my normal, continuous run. My HR was a little high, but not bad, and I suspect more of it had to do with the extra effort that hamster runs always seem to require.

A good day, overall, and a pretty decent week. Tomorrow is a rest day, then I start back up with an easy run. I'll probably make my long run about 12 miles next Saturday though - I'd like to get up to 20 by the end of February or early March, so that I can taper back down before the marathon.

Twenty years ago today.. .

73 seconds after launch, the Space Shuttle "Challenger" burst apart, killing the entire crew. I remember that the space shuttle launches had become almost routine. No one thought that there was any problems; after all, we were Americans. There was nothing that we couldn't do, no scientific marvel that we couldn't accomplish. We were going to put a civilian, a teacher into space.

It didn't happen.

Later that night, President Reagan addressed the nation, and he said (among other things) this:

". . . The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in
which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we
saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and
"slipped the surly bonds of earth" to "touch the face of God."


Marathon training, day 10

ORN: 4 miles of speedwork today, plus some light weights. As I said in a previous post, I have been looking at some of the various running blogs and websites, and I am not happy with the calculators which are supposed to indicate my "ideal" speeds for endurance runs or for speedwork. Many of them call for speedwork which is only slightly faster than the pace which I had been doing for my endurance runs, and I frankly find it hard to believe that running a 8:15 pace ( as opposed to an 8:30 pace) for half a mile at a time will help, especially since my recovery pace is supposed to be close to a 9:30 pace.

So, today I alternated between a relaxed jog (about a 9 minute pace), and a pace which I considered to be "real" speedwork (about a 7:15 pace). I only did 4 miles (alternating every half-mile), but plan on picking up the pace and increasing the number of repititions over the next couple months.

I'm not really expecting to see much improvement by the time the Martian Marathon rolls around. To be honest, my primary goal for finishing this one isn't bound by time - it's simply to actually run the thing. I've never done a marathon, so completing it is my goal. I'll make a time goal for my second one.

(Of course, I do have, in my head, a "good" time and a "great" time in mind for the marathon - but I'll keep those secret until after I have done it. They're not that ambitious though.)


Marathon training, day 9

ORN: None today. My son was a little under the weather this morning (just a runny nose, no fever), but I am trying very hard not to be the parent that takes their child to the day care even if the kid is sick. I know that he is going to be exposed to (and expose others to) all sorts of random viruses and colds, but I'm trying to be considerate. Speedwork is just going to have to wait until tomorrow.

I've looked at a couple of different sites, and the times that they list for my Yasso 800s is only marginally faster than the pace I had been holding for close to 90 minutes on my hamster runs. I think I am just going to come up with my own schedule, and actually push myself when it comes to speed training.


Training update: Day 8

ORN: Easy day, 4.4 miles in 35 minutes (hamster run). I took it fairly easy, but I have started to pick up the pace. It's seeming more likely that the main reason for my slower pace on the training runs has been largely self-imposed. I had been thinking that running more than 1/2 mile at a 7:30 pace was beyond me, but I'm easily doing that now - I'm able to hold a faster pace for more than a mile, without any real problems. Once I start doing real speedwork, I should be able to pick up that pacd, or maintain it for a longer period.

I did feel a little down in the dumps though - the Y was pretty packed, and I wound up on the treadmill next to a triathelete. He was flying - his relaxed and easy pace was well above my pacing, but I suspect that he has been training for much longer than I have. I know that I am not destined to be the fastest runner, but it can be a little disheartening to be running next to someone who is obviously able to clean your clock in a race without any real effort.

On the other hand, I'm sure that there are people who look at me when I am doing an easy run, and think exactly the same thing. In the end though, the only person I am really running against is myself, and today was a pretty decent run.


Day 7 training

ORN: Today was an easy, 9 minute pace, but after 10 minutes of warming up, I started running 3 minutes on a hill (at 5 degrees), then 3 back on the flat, then back on the hill. It was (obvisouly) another hamster run - while the treadmill may be boring as heck sometimes, it also can really help with pacing or by controlling the hills and maintaining the tempo of the workout.

I did have to slow down after the third hill, but not much. All in all, I managed 4.46 miles (or so) in 40 minutes, and 15 minutes of that was on the hills. I'll be expanding the times, and increasing the slope (though not much, possibly not beyond 6.5 or so) over the next month or so.

If nothing else, adding hills and speedwork once a week, plus toning down my other runs a bit, will help break the monotony I have been feeling lately. Outdoor running isn't so bad, but, with a young boy at home, I pretty much need to run somewhere with childcare, at least during the week.


Training update: Day 6

ORN: 5.2 miles, most at an easy 9 minute pace, the last 1.4 miles all at a 7:30 pace or faster. Still breaking in the new shoes, but they feel really nice and comfortable when running. The residual soreness that often accompanied my runs is gone.

I originally planned to do a nice, easy 5 miles or so. After about 3.8 miles, I wondered if most of the problems I have been having with my pacing are self-imposed. So, I ramped up the speed to 8.0 mph and tossed the towel over the display. (Yeah, today was a hamster day. Most of my runs are, since the local Y has free child care for members.) Anyway, I was able to easily hold that pace until mile 5, and then I ramped it up again for my traditional, end-run kick. It wasn't a huge increase, but until today, I had been having problems holding more than 7.1 mph for over a half mile.

After the plateau I've been stuck on, it was a welcome change. Hopefully, I see some more improvements in the next six or eight weeks, though, to be honest, I'll be happy to actually get to the marathon without suffering any serious injury or setback beforehand.



ORN: None. It was going to be kind of iffy today anyway, due to my leg, but time constraints have managed to strip even a short, easy run from me. I know that rest is a good thing, and that it allows the body to come back stronger for the next run, but a run today would have really helped.

On the plus side, I note that my blog has been added to the Running Blog Family Directory, so welcome, new readers. Feel free to read through the archives and leave comments.



I completely missed it. Yesterday marked one year since my first blog post. I've missed my original goal of one post per day, but I did manage to score 120 or so in the year, which isn't too bad. I promise to do better next year, and I might even manage to add several regular readers.*

* I figure, if my number of readers doubles every year, why, in a mere decade, then I'll actually move up from my current status of Insignificant Microbe (number 43972, if you're wondering) in the TTLB Ecosystem.

Training update: Day 3

ORN: 5:1 ratio (run/walk), 45 minutes, 4.33 miles. I took today pretty easy, since I was breaking in new shoes, and my leg is still a bit touchy from Wednesday. It doesn't bother me when I am running, but I can definitely feel it afterwards - for hours. It's not problematic, but it is evidence that I did something bad (as opposed to Bad, or even BAD) when I kept pushing through the pain.

My new shoes definitely change my stride, too. There are a couple spots in my legs that are sore, which is normal whenever I change shoes. Not unexpected, and not a concern just yet.


New shoes

ORN: No running today. As I said, I went to get new shoes, and my cardinal rule of footwear is to loaf around the house in them for a bit before hitting the treadmill or the road. I'll log some miles tomorrow, but today, I am breaking in my new shoes.

They seem to be pretty nice, but it's kind of shocking, reading all these reviews about how the shoes are for severe over-pronators, and provide maximum support. I knew I overpronated, but I didn't think it classified as "severe." On the other hand, they feel a heck of a lot more comfortable on impact than the pair I was wearing yesterday.

Tomorrow will probably be an easy day. I'm going to back off my speed a little bit for a week or two, and work on building my distance back up. It seems very odd - almost every article I have read the past few days talks about how race pace is almost always faster than training pace. For me, it seems that the opposite is true.

My current training pace allows me (on a treadmill) to run 7 miles/hour for about 90 minutes without feeling really drained at the end. My most recent event has me running the first 10 miles in just under 90 minutes - which is somewhat slower than my training pace. I'd like to improve my race pace, but I haven't been able to really budge my training pace significantly in several months.

Maybe if I back off a bit and add some speedwork, I can get things to change for the better.

Profile change

Yeah, I finally added my real name, etc. It's not a big deal - I hadn't bothered before, but since I gave links regarding my partipation in the Disney half-marathon, it's not as though someone couldn't glean the same personal information from my bib number.


Marathon training (Day 1ish)

ORN: Biked 30 minutes (covering 10.4 miles). Ran 20 minutes (doing a 4:1 run/walk ratio, covered 2.25 miles), did some light weights. I was originally planning on biking for a full hour, but just after minute 28, my left calf seized up, and I had a major cramp.

It's my own fault, really. I hadn't been drinking water, and I had forgotten that I tend to overheat much more on the recumbent bikes than on the treadmill or the road. After all, while a treadmill has no breeze, I'm also not resting on a seat with my back against a cushion. I managed to (1) not cuss; and (2) work through it enough to finish up 30 minutes on the bike, and it didn't bother me much while I was running.

The run was pretty easy, but it did confirm that I overpronate. It just means that I have to replace my shoes now, instead of at the end of the month.

(And yes, despite previous running, I am listing today as Day 1ish, because I haven't officially signed up for a marathon yet. I will, but everything up to that day is just random running, not training.)

Technorati woes

So, quite some time ago, I registered my blog with Technorati. Unfortunately, it seems as though Technorati, despite all my efforts, believes that I last updated Random Brain Dribbles 85+ days ago. I've tried updating the ping (from my account section), I've tried everything in their help section (which isn't much), and it just never seems to update.

It's free, so I shouldn't complain, but I wouldn't mind having readers who arrive other than by clicking on "Next blog". I could post on free porn, low rates on mortages, Jack Abramoff, NSA spying, or 24, but Technorati surely isn't going to send anyone my way.

Not when they think that my last 40 posts don't count, anyway.

Boston changes?

A random running blog I found linked to this article discussing possible changes to the Boston Marathon. One quote struck me as particularly humorous, given the time requirements:

"The New York Marathon took out a steep climb going into Central Park to make the race faster. Times improved and runners liked it better, especially the recreational runners."

Sure, New York might have recreational runners, as might Chicago or the Martian Marathon. But, it seems to me, if you can average the 8.25 miles per hour needed at a minimum to qualify at my age (or, put another way, being able to run 7:15 miles for 3 hours and 10 minutes), you're probably not a "recreational" runner.

I'd love to qualify for the Boston someday. But right now, even if I could maintain my pace for a full marathon, I won't qualify for another 27 years. I'm a recreational, semi-casual runner - changes to the only marathon in America with a time-based entry requirement don't really concern me.

MP3 playlist

Everyone once in a while, I'll see some blogger with a little blurb about whatever music they happen to which they happen to be listening at that point in time. Sometimes it's an album, sometimes it's a song, and I always wonder about those listings.

See, earlier today, I was busy ripping some songs from my CD collection to my hard drive, for subsequent transfer to my MP3 player. When I rip a CD, it goes into the general "My Music" folder, which is divided according to artist and album. A certain, select number of songs from an album gets copied into another folder, labelled (rather inappropriately at this point) as "Short Run Mix."

This "short run mix" was originally going to be 40-50 songs for my longer workouts, which I figured was just enough variety to keep me from going batty. That (not-so) little folder now holds 451 songs, and takes up about 810 meg. (I'm not sure how long it would take to play everything - Windows Media player has basically shrugged and said "Your guess is as good as mine." I dumped the entire playlist to WMP, and it's slowly updating - but right now, it's been stuck on 12:02:45 for some time*, which is about 60% of my conservative estimate.)

Anyway, it's a pretty varied list. It has songs from Ah-ha to Weird Al, and goes from country to hard rock. It has tunes from my childhood (like Schoolhouse Rock), bands I started listening to in college (Pink Floyd - thanks, Kyle), and random tunes that pay homage to the Mouse. I could try to list them all, but it's kind of pointless. I'd never keep it current, and it does actually change from week to week.

I'm running out of space on the MP3 player though - I have a wish list of another couple dozen songs that I need to hunt down, and I'm sure that I'll keep adding new CDs. It just seems kind of silly to have 900 songs when it will take me days to listen to them all. That's a lot of treadmill time.

* It's now up to 13:54:32, but that's still shy by at least six hours.



ORN (see here for definition): Ran 4 miles. I was planning on an easy run of 4-5 miles, but tonight wasn't easy. I had taken some time off, following the half marathon, and a mild bout with the same bug that got my wife, son and a couple in-laws. (Fortunately, it only started settling on race day - whereas my poor wife was sick when she ran.)

Anyway, my shin had been bugging me a fair amount since early- or mid-December. Part of it was surely exacerbated by Kevin's endearingly painful habit of climbing onto my shins when I am sitting on the floor, but part came from either my shoes or a problem in my stride.

The pain was gone until I started running tonight. And now, it's back. It's not bad - I can feel it, but it's nothing that threatens to distract me. I'm planning on slowing down again, and I'm thinking that I might want to switch shoes. My current pair had no more than 100 miles or so left in them, so I was going to replace them fairly soon anyway, but I might want to look at something different. No point in crippling myself for the sake of my health, is there?

Pics from the half marathon at Disney world

I'm not sure that I am going to buy any of these yet, because it seems to me that only a couple of them are even semi-decent, but there is at least photographic proof that I was (1) actually at Disney; and (2) running in the half-marathon. I may not have posted a picture of me in the profile, but there are at least a couple people other there in the blogosphere who can attest that these pictures are of me.

(While this one is not particularly good, due to the effect of the flash on my bright whites, the previous photo in the series is a fairly decent picture.)

Site meters

One of the changes I made was to add a site meter. Once I republished the pages (with the new links and slightly different appearance), I looked at the site meter. Nothing says "High traffic" like a single-digit visitor count.

Sure, it's the number of visitors since earlier today. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure that it's counting my viewing of the page after republishing, so, I'm suspecting that I actually don't have any traffic at all.

Good thing I am not dependent on ads or something for revenue, huh?


Yeah, I'm going to be changing the look of the blog again, most likely. I'll also be finally fixing some of the links, to get away from the dreadfully pathetic "Edit-Me" verbiage. I've been meaning to do it for a while, but have kept putting it off.


Language for children

I touched on this rather tengentially in a previous post, when I mentioned "Mickey water", but a comment left by Kyle compells me to add a bit more.

As he so truly notes, parenthood really changes ones speech, in subtle (and not-so-subtle) ways. I no longer curse as much, for example, since the little one's ears are remarkably good about repeating sounds at inopportune times. Likewise, we no longer have a Saturn Wagon or a Dodge Intrepid - we have "Mommy's car" and "Daddy's car". We're not going on a trip to Wal-mart - we're going to the "store with the fish and the ceiling fans."

It generally doesn't both me much, but I have noticed a rather disturbing tendency to refer to myself in the third person. It's no longer "I want you to sit down," but "Daddy wants you to sit down." It wouldn't be so bad, if I didn't do it around other adults.

At least I haven't cut anyone's dinner into tiny little bites. (Yet.)

Good grief, the Mouse is taking over everywhere.

While at Disney, we managed to aquire various and sundry souveniers. Among them was a children's water bottle with images of Mickey Mouse on it. Kevin very quickly discovered that twisting the lid in one direction causes the rubber straw to pop up, and twisting in the other forces the straw down. This amuses him greatly. (Heck, even I find it mildly entertaining.)

As is usual with children, we refer to things in terms that he can understand, in this case, the cup is his "Mickey water". When I heard this yesterday, I suddenly realized that the mouse is everywhere. Now, many people know about Hidden Mickeys, but I have found one which proves that the Mouse is taking over, even at the atomic level.

You doubt me? Just look at a graphical respresentation of the atomic structure of water.

We're all doomed to worship at the shrine of the mouse. It's just a matter of time.


Decision, decision. . .

No, it's not a monumental decision that I am contemplating. At least, not in the sense of altering my life significantly or anything like that. I am trying to decide if I really want to take the plunge and register for the Chicago Marathon. I'm reasonably certain that I could run it right now (well, in the morning - it's cold and dark outside as I write this*, and that won't change for about 8 hours) - it's just a rather daunting distance. 26.2 miles. It's not something to just casually do, but I suppose, if I plan on running them, I'd have to start somewhere.

And there is no way, right now, that I would even begin to qualify for one of the big goals of marathoners - the Boston Marathon.

* Cold and dark are no obstacles to running a race. The Disney Half-marathon and Marathon starts at 6 am, and, both days, temps were in the mid-30s. It got cold, waiting for the race to start on Saturday.

Disney post #1

As I said in a previous post, I have recently returned from a foray into the Land of the Mouse. I plan on making several posts about it (in a blatant attempt to raise my posting rate), but am only going to discuss a couple things on this one.

First, Epcot has a new ride called "Soarin"(tm). It's not a bad ride - they actually do list you up about 40 feet, and the projection of the film is good enough that there is a fair illusion of actual flight. I did catch the Hidden Mickey, though - it's at a point where a lot of people duck. My only problem with Soarin(tm) was that I lost my pair of sunglasses there. I put them in the ubiquitous compartment under the seat, and forgot about them when the ride ended. Since they weren't marked in any way, my odds of actually finding them in the Lost and Found the next day have been close to 0, and so I just decided to write them off.

Second, I finally figured out why Mission:SPACE has all the warnings. (For those who do not know, this ride cautions you every couple of minutes that people with health problems, expectant mothers, those affected by motion sickness, those effected by simulators, those with problems like claustrophobia, and people in general just plain should not go on this ride. "Get out now. Immediately." pretty much sums up the warnings.) Anyway, I managed to experience mild vertigo during the ride - I have to look all the way to the left or the right, but it actually can manage to make me slightly nauseus. If I look at my control panel (or the one adjacent), I could stay on the ride until I got bored with the whole thing.

It's a fun ride - but I am never going to go through the solo rider line again. From my (limited) experence, solo rider means that you are always going to be filling the last space in the line - in other words, you will always draw the Engineer slot. I realize that the mission is the same every time, and that you cannot fail, but a little variety would be nice. Just once, I'd like to be the pilot, or the commander. Instead, I find myself talking about how "The ship cannae take it, cap'n."


Half-marathon at Disney World

Well, I have now done not one, but two official, chipped, half marathons. My first was on Labor Day. As I said last January, I was planning on running a half-marathon at the shrine of the Mouse. Last Saturday, I did it, with an official (clock) time of 1:57:14, and a chip time of 1:56:21. I knocked a full 2 minutes off my previous time, and I might have done better had it not been really, really cold on Saturday morning.

I'm still happy with it, though - it's a new personal best, but I see a lot of room for improvement. We're debating on when to go back again - I'm pushing for January of 2008, and if we do, I am doing the Goofy Challenge.


My first political post. ..

Sorta. I read a lot of blogs - left, right, both, neither, humorous, analyitical, random. I have ones which I read routinely, and ones which I remember to check in on from time to time. Amongst my surfing today, I came across this on the Daily Kos:

CHEERS to lessons in Management 101. If you own a
pickax-manufacturing company, and your employees ask for an itty bitty
give them their itty bitty raise. Any questions?

Now, if you follow the link, you see a picture of a car with a few pickaxes embedded in it. Some people might call this violence, some might see it as an act of intimidation. Sadly, some people (Markos in particular), seem to see this sort of violent message as being praiseworthy. I doubt that many people, of either political stripe, see it as such.