When is a coach not a coach?

ORN: Wed - 6 miles, 2 degrees, 48:39.

Thurs- nothing. Rest day.

I came across this post earlier today, and it almost made my blood boil. Not because of anything that the blogger did, but because of the "coach". Go ahead and go read the story. I'll wait.


(Synopsis for those who don't want to follow the link - blogger is asked to quit the CC team in HS because she is not fast enough. Nevermind that the team doesn't have tryouts or anything.)

Back? Okay. So, I have a couple of beefs with that coach.

First off, for those who are unaware, high school CC races are typically scored like this: each runner is given a point value, equal to their place. So, the first runner across the line is worth 1 point, the second is worth 2, and so on. Only the top 5 runners from each team are scored - so it is possible, in a head-to-head race, for one team to have 15 points (1+2+3+4+5) and the other to have 40 (6+7+8+9+10). Of course, if one team has runners who also take, for example, sixth and seventh place, you can see a score of 15-50, and, like golf, the low score wins.

So, really, the five fastest runners are important. Having a couple runners who are not quite fast enough to place in the top five, but who might be able to bump a couple of opposing runners down a notch, are useful too. Since it is a team sport, having the first runner (or even the first three) across the line does not guarantee victory.

But really, unless there is a massive shortage of spaces on the team bus or the locker room, or a dearth of uniforms, there is no need to cut slower runners. Heck, on my CC team, we had several guys who were very slow - we're talking 28 minutes for 3 miles. (I know, for some this is fast - but in last years state meet, the boys winning time was 14:18. 28 minutes is not going to be scoring any points - but the kid never stopped running in a race, and was often dead last, but he kept going. That's a winner, in my book - albeit one much slower than 14:18.)

Cutting someone who is not likely to be scoring anyway is pointless. The coach should have told the blogger that, while she could keep running, she was probably never going to score any points for their team, and, as long as she was okay with that, then she should stick with it. Heck, I don't think I scored anything for my team in 3 years of running. I never did get much faster than I did on my first year - but I still enjoyed doing it. It's one of my few good memories of high school, and my couch was a significant influence in my life.

Anyway, that's my $.02. Just because someone isn't the best doesn't mean that they shouldn't be allowed to participate.


I need a heart rate monitor

ORN: 5 miles, 38:49 (or thereabouts), 2.0 (first mile), 2.5 (miles 2-4.5), 3.0-4.5 (last .5 miles).

I don't keep track of my heart rate while I am running. I've toyed with the idea of getting a heart rate monitor, but I figure I'll save the cash and eventually get a really nice one, with a GPS attached. I do, however, take note of my HR after my final sprint (almost all of my runs end with the last half mile or so at a much faster pace than normal; it helps ensure that, no matter how empty the tank might feel, I can still squeeze something out for a final kick at the finish line.) Usually, it's high, almost 90-95% right after the sprint, but it drops down to 60% within 3 minutes of walking or so.

Tonight, however, I seriously considered getting a cheap HRM, just in self-defence. See, all through my run, several people around me, who were wearing HRMs, were interferring with my machine. At any given time, my HR varied from 111 to 185 back to 155. Considering that I wasn't even trying to check my HR at the time, it got fairly annoying. And, when I did try to check mine, at the end of the run, it took about 90 seconds, to tell me someone else's HR. I swear, it was like duelling banjos or something, and it completely soured my run.

They're nice, useful devices - but they interefere with almost everyone else's workout. Or at least, those of us who aren't using one merely to get vaguely accurate results of our own HR, as opposed to someone else's.

Sore this morning. . .

ORN: (Monday run) 3 miles, 2.5-3.5 degrees, 7.2 or 9.3+ mph. 22:24 for total time.

I woke up really sore this morning. It might have had something to do with yesterday's run. Last night, I headed over to the Y, to try and work on improving my cadence. I did an easy mile to warm up, and then started alternating - one minute at a high speed pace, and then a minute of recovery. I tried to ensure that my cadence picked up when I increased the speed, as opposed to the length of my stride, which is what normally happens. I figure that once my body gets used to 170 steps/minute, the stride length will start returning at the higher speeds, and I might actually get faster.

Anyway, I got through 4 sets of the fast/recovery, then did a long recovery of about a half-mile, and then a final quarter mile at high speed, high cadence, and higher than normal incline.

So, that might be why I was a bit sore this morning, and why today's run is going to wait until evening. Or, it might be because I moved about 1.5 - 2 tons of rock yesterday, and laid out a bunch of new weedcloth. Or perhaps it was the combination of both.


Weekend wrap-up (and a question on cadence)

Friday run: 4 miles, 2.5 degrees, 31:39. Cadence workout, and I will talk about this more later.

Saturday run: 12(ish) miles, 1:48:09 (and an additional 11:30 or so in the middle, so just about 2 hours - including a brief cool-down walk, my watch says 2:02:24).

We keep bumping up the time for the group runs on Saturday - at the rate we are going, pretty soon we will be doing our long Saturday run late Friday night. Anyway, the Higden plan for them was 9 miles, and for me, it was 12, so I figured that I would just do what I have done for the past few weeks - run with everyone else, then tack on some extra mileage at the end. If nothing else, it is great practice for a race, since it has to help with the mental challenges that occur when you are the only person on the trail or within 100 yards. This won't be a factor at Chicago, but it easily will be on some other races, including my next half-marathon.

So, we take off at a nice easy jog, after walking a couple hundred yards to the jogging path, and we start off, quickly forming into our little ad hoc groups. Since I tend to be with the faster runners, I get told where the water is, to help ensure that everyone has a chance to grab it when it comes around. And, in the first couple miles, I get introduced to a new member as "the guy who doesn't break a sweat during these workouts."

Now, that is a bald-faced lie. I suspect that some of the runners are running these long runs at close to the pace that they wish to run during Detriot, whereas I am running it simply to get my legs used to running for several hours. I run at a higher speed during the week on my shorter workouts, but I don't think that I need to do all of these long runs at the pace I hope to achieve on race day.

The water stop comes early - very early, and Saturday's route is not an "out-and-back," so if you pass on water here, you pass on water for the whole thing. Even though it is nice and cool, that would still be a bad thing, so most people pick up a bottle. I'm carrying my fuel belt, but I grab a couple of bottles (since there are plenty to spare), and decide to carry them along for another half-hour or so, at which point I will either pass them off to other runners around me, or I will set them down for the runners behind us to find.

The run is pretty uneventful - it's much nicer to run with other people than on your own, and, despite the distance, I am not nearly tired at the end. After finishing (and a little burst of speed at the end, just to stretch out the legs and move), I chat with the others for a few minutes, change shirts (since the one I started in is pretty bad), and head inside to change shoes, dump my stuff in a locker and fire up a dreadmill, where I do another 3 miles to finish up the run.

This lead to a discovery, or rather, a realization: my inside shoes are 1/2 size smaller than my outside shoes. This is not normally a problem, since my inside shoes are the proper fit for distances up to about 8-10 miles, after which they tend to cause some blistering, whereas my outside shoes feel pretty loose for the first 4-5 miles. So, switching shoes and heading onto a treadmill for miles 9-12 turns out to be a Bad Idea (tm), though I escape with only a couple of small blisters. Next week, I'll just add the extra miles as time outside (figuring at a very leisurely, and probably very incorrect 10 minutes/extra mile), and spare my feet the needless punishment.

Today was ostensibly a rest day, which, in actuality meant "day to mow the lawn," or, "90 minutes of pushing a mower around in the mid-day sun."

Oh - as I mentioned back at the very beginning: Friday's workout was an attempt to increase my cadence. I have noticed (over the past few weeks) that, despite changing the incline and the speed on the treadmill, my cadence seems to be stuck at a reliable (but slow) 160 steps/minute. Adding another mph on the treadmill, or another .5 degrees, will increase it, but only for 20-30 seconds, and then I settle back down to that cadence. It's steady, it's metronomic, and it's annoying. So, on Friday, I tried to deliberately run with shorter, quicker steps. I'm thinking that I need to have two speed/inclination settings; one for the "normal" or recovery runs, and then one which will help with cadence. If I do this once or twice a week, I should see some improvement, right? Any other suggestions from the RBF peanut gallery?


Treadmill vs. the Open Road

Wes, in a comment on one of my previous posts, asked for my opinion on treadmill vs. the open road, as it pertains to training. While I am not an expert, I do tend to pontificate on subjects, and can at least offer some form of point/counter-point in this area.

Treadmill Pros
  • Generally inside, in a climate-controlled environment. Very handy when it is freezing, roasting, hailing, blizzarding, etc. Not a big deal in spring, fall, cool summer nights or balmy winter days.
  • Precision in terms of workout - you know exactly how far ran and how fast you did it. Very useful when it comes to charting progress.
  • Convenience - my treadmill comes attached to my local YMCA, which has a child watch program. Without it, my running times would be much more limited, and it would probably be a bit detrimental to my sanity as well.
  • Good for repetitive speed or hill workouts. If the 'mill has a "Interval training" program, you can set it to alternate between a slow jog on flat ground and a fast run up a hill, just by hitting a button.
  • Safety - no problems wearing an iPod or some other mp3 player/discman/walkman, and there is no need to carry pepper spray or wear reflective clothes (unless someone at the gym is a real creep.)
  • Soft impact - useful when recovering from an injury.
  • First aid - you get hurt on a treadmill, or feel signs of strain, you can stop and not be 3 miles from home.

Treadmill Cons

  • It's boring as heck. I always feel like a human hamster when I am on one of those things - there should be a giant water bottle and some food pellets.
  • It's hot. You're not moving, so it just feels so much hotter than being outside in the same conditions.
  • It's potentially disingenuous. Treadmills don't factor in things like wind resistance, so you either have to bump up your speed a little or increase the incline. Or, just understand that, while you may do 6.5 on the treadmill, if it has a natural 0 degree incline, you probably won't run that fast on the road.
  • Refuelling problems - if your gym is like mine, they really frown on using Gatorade, Gu, etc during a workout. This is okay for a short run, but if you want to do something longer than 45 minutes, it might be an issue.
  • And, many places dislike someone using a treadmill for more than an hour, which makes long runs a little dodgy.
  • Blaine does a very good post with some other cons of treadmill running.

Open Road Pros

  • Variety in the scenery - you are going somewhere, and you know it. You're not staring at a wall, a TV, or someone's rear end (well, probably not the last one, anyway), for an hour at a time.
  • Variety in terrain and weather - it helps you get used to downhills, rain, sun, wind; you name it, and the great outdoors has it. And, sooner or later, you will probably race in it. If all of your training is inside, at 70 degrees, then the first 35 degree, freezing drizzle race is really going to mess you up.
  • You can use Gu, Gatorade, etc without any wories. Just don't litter.
  • No time restrictions - they don't roll the roads up at sundown; with a little care, you can run around your neighborhood at almost any point in the day.

Open Road Cons

  • Remember the reflective clothing and the pepper spray? You may need those. There are a lot of nasty critters on the open road, and some of them walk on two legs.
  • Danger factor - despite all precautions, some drivers or cyclists simply will not see you, underestimate your speed, or do not care. If you listen to music, keep it very quiet - because you cannot afford to tune out road noise or other runners, cyclists, etc.
  • Injury - if you get hurt, or cannot continue, you might find yourself a long way from home (or, for that matter, anywhere else. One of my long routes has a 2 miles stretch with almost no houses. . . .definitely not a part to get hurt when running).
  • Hard surface - asphalt is harder than a treadmill. Your legs will take a pounding, and it can take some getting used to.
  • No babysitter - if you need someone else to watch your children, this becomes a huge factor when running on the open road.


ORN: No running today. Rest day, in part due to stepping up both incline and speed on yesterday's run, and partly due to the water issue in the basement.

The water issue, while not fixed, has at least been identified: the water heater is rusting out. It's not something that I had checked for - silly me, I presumed that the water was actually coming up from the place where all the water was. How foolish. After talking to one of the local water damage companies, I was down in the basement, crawling around in the water, searching for air bubbles or some other clue which could help me pin down the location of the seepage.

I know, I know - I should have done this several days ago. But, the base of the wall (where it meets the floor) had previously existing water damage (which was noted on the seller disclosure form), and all the water was in that area, so it was a logical conclusion. The fact that the water heater is nearby didn't really register, until tonight - when everything was turned off (TV, radio, etc), and, more importantly, that 30 lb noisemaker was out for a walk with my wife.

And then I heard it. Dripping. Within seconds I found the source - a steady drip coming from the bottom of the water heater. So, now we have it diagnosed, and I just have to get a new one picked out and insalled, soon. The water damage guys will be coming on Saturday anyway (still want to have someone look for damage to the floor and walls), and the AC guy is coming tomorrow to give it an inspection (which it needed anyway), so hopefully all will be dry again soon.

I suppose it could be fixed. But, in a conversation with the previous owner tonight, he mentioned that this was the second water heater, purchased sometime after they bought the house in 1985, so it's probably 10 years old or so. I have no record of the date of purchase (twas long ago misplaced), and little information on the model, so replacement is probably better than trying to fix it this year. . . .and next year, and the year after that.


Stick a fork in me, I'm done.

ORN: 2.5 degrees, 6 miles, somewhere around 48 minutes.

No, I'm not done with running or anything. I'm just beat. In addition to today's run (done at a much higher incline than normal, since I am trying to increase cadence), I also spent the better part of an hour clearing mulch, grading the soil, putting down new weedcloth, and moving rock. That big honkin' pile of rocks is slowly getting smaller, though not fast enough.

Oh yeah. . . and, the basement still has water. It's slowly getting better, but we're calling in the experts.


I could really use a beer right about now. . .

ORN: 5 miles, anywhere from 1.1 to 3.5 degrees, speeds starting at 7.5 mph and going up through 8.2 or so. Either 37:30(ish) or 38:30(ish) - I really should take a small notebook to record these things, since I am ramping up my speed and the inclination more often than not, and it leads to some funky workout totals.

So, I went running today (yay me!), after taking a break for the last two days. Well, taking a break from running - I did some yardwork; assembled a wheelbarrow, moved a lot of mulch, put out new groundcloth, and moved a lot of rock. All with a heat index in the high 90's or higher. No wonder I didn't feel like running. But, at least it is now easier for my wife to get the car out of the garage - the big pile of rock is steadily growing smaller.

And, I also mowed the lawn tonight. After little Mr. Fussbudget was finally in bed, I hurried outside to get the lawn mowed before it got too dark to see what I was doing. I think I finished with about 10 minutes to spare - it's been about an hour since I finished, and it was dark by the time I had a drink and got cooled off a bit.

Right now, I have just got back up from the basement, where I was trying to do two things - complete a replacement order for an eBay purchase (post office lost the first one when the box shredded, so I have been working on a replacement kit for the unfortunate buyer), and trying to clean up a major mess.

See, it's been nasty up here in Michigan for the past few days. With a young child, and a pregnant wife, the AC had been running virtually non-stop. So, Sunday night, I went down into the basement, and discovered that a good section of it was flooded - it appears that there has been some problem with the AC.

When I went outside to check it out, it appears that the insulation on a couple of the pipes is shot, and that moisture is condensing along those splits and seeping into the ground. I am hoping that this is the cause of the flooding - the AC has been off for about a day now, and while there is still water in the basement, it looks like the amount is steadily decreasing. If I don't see noticeable improvement soon, I am going to have to call more than an AC repairman, I suspect.

And then I may really need that beer after all.


Lots of catching up to do. . .

Yep, I haven't posted in a few days, but I have been running. According to my memory, here are the stats from the last few days:

Tuesday: 5 miles, 1.(something) on the dreadmill. No idea on time, but it wasn't fast. 45 minutes, maybe?

Wednesday - 7 miles, 1.1 or 1.2 degrees, somewhere under an hour, maybe 56-57 minutes.

Thursday - off, bad logistics and I never found time to squeeze in a good run.

Friday - 5 miles, 1.2 degrees, all at least at the pace I want to do when Chicago rolls around. It was a lot harder than I thought it should be, so I'm really going to have to crack down on some speedwork and see if I can improve my cadence a bit.

Today - somewhere between 9 and 10 miles - the semi-official turnaround point is supposedly 2.5 miles from where the group started today, and, judging by the time it took us to get to that point and back, it seemed reasonable. Then, because the other groups were only doing 5, and my schedule called for 10, I ran it again, which is what caused me to doubt the distance, because I ran it much faster - faster, if it is 2.5 miles, than I thought I was running, and much faster than race pace. It almost did me in, and, on the way back, I had to take two short walking breaks to get extra water in me. Even so, my solo excursion was still faster than the group run, but I'm suspecting that today's run was closer to 9 than 10. Still, time on my feet is more important than distance (in a lot of ways), and today I logged 1:22:02 for my long run.


Yay - speedwork!

ORN: 2 miles warm-up, 1 mile fast, .5 mile recovery, .5 mile fast. About 32 minutes, all told, and at 1.2 degrees.

I'm working at settling back into a training routine. I'm hoping to train a bit harder for this next marathon season, and, while I doubt that I will actually see a BQ this year, I'd like to make some significant strides toward hittin g that goal in the future.

So, with that in mind, today was speedwork. Now, I admit that I ran faster today than I intended to do so, but I was curious to see how fast I could go. I didn't set any speed records, and I probably (certainly, actually) could have gone a little faster, but I did manage to knock out a full mile at a 6:18 pace. Hot dang! (Maybe I really am going to be the fast one in my running group.) The warm-up and recovery runs were much slower, obviously, but I did knock out an additional half-mile at the same speed, with a little extra for a finishing kick at the end.

Next week, my speedwork will probably be along the lines of 1 mile warm-up, 1 fast mile, .5 mile recovery, 1 fast mile, .5 recovery, etc - at least, for as long as I can hold it. I won't be knocking out 6:00 miles anytime soon, but I might manage to start creeping down toward repeating 6:45 or 7:00s, which would be fantastic.

On the homefront, I really meant to take some pictures last night. Kevin and my wife were making peanut butter cookies, and he looked so cute, with the flour in the hair, on the floor, and all over the counter. He tried the cookies once they were done, and he didn't care for them, but he at least had fun making them.

Oh yeah - he and I made pancakes yesterday morning, too. It only cost an extra egg (by having him help instead of me doing it alone), and he got such a kick out of being a big helper. The fact that it was one of his favorite foods: pancakes, though no syrup, was an added plus. Crackers, plain noodles, and bread are all close behind; he's gonna be a runner, and he's already carb-loading.


I refuse to be the fast one!

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that there was going to be a local group training for the Detriot Marathon. Since Chicago is only a week before that, I figured that, with some minor adaptations, I could train with a group - if nothing else, it would be nice to have some other people around when I am in the middle of those long, long, looooong slow runs. You know, the 18-miler ones, where somewhere about mile 12, you start thinking "Why am I doing this? Oh yeah, I decided to run a marathon. How much am I getting for this? Nothing, I paid to do this. Why am I subjecting myself to this? The jury is still out on that. . . . oh look, 6 miles to go. . . or, if it were the real thing, about 14 to go."

So, yesterday was our first real training run, on week 2 of the Hal Higdon's Novice program. This presents three problems: first, I am wanting to run something closer to the Intermediate program; second, I need to be a week ahead of them on the schedule; and third, I am contemplating adding a trail marathon that occurs about 6 weeks before Chicago.

The third bit isn't really a problem, since I plan on running that marathon, not racing it, and so I am not going out to set a PR or anything. It would simply take the place of one of my 20-mile runs, and I would take it easy the week before and the week after.

The other two points are, really, only minor concerns. After all, I can always do what I did yesterday, which is tack on another couple miles (or, another 20 minutes, if I don't know the mileage on the route), and probably stay on track.

Anyway, yesterday's run was interesting. I got there a couple minutes late, and discovered that an 8:30 starting time really did mean an 8:30 starting time. Fortunately, I saw them going out of the parking lot as I pulled in, and I was able to quickly grab my belt and catch up to them in the first mile or so. Then, as is the case with any group of a dozen or so runners, it split into several subgroups, and I found myself in the lead pack.

This was not good, since we (the entire lead pack) did not actually know where we were going. So, we'd get to a fork, and then jog in place, looking kind of silly, until the slightly slower runners would catch up enough to shout out "Left!" and then we would lead off again. This eventually caused a problem, since somewhere we missed a turn, and we probably added another mile beyond what the other groups did.

After the run, we were standing around, arranging a time and distance for next week (only 5 miles! Gah!), and then I excused myself, saying that I still had a couple of miles to do, and that I would see them next week. And, as I took off again, one of them called out to me "You're setting the pace next week!"

Now, there's just something wrong with the idea of me setting the pace - I'm firmly in the middle of the pack in most races, at best. The only races where I do "well" are the very large ones, where most of the runners are casual runners (like me, actually), doing their first or second marathon (again, like me). I have passably good times, but not good enough that I would run with the dedicated group of local runners (though, since they meet at a time when I would have no one to watch Kevin, I really don't have that option). I guess they are hoping that since I will be doing extra mileage, I will be holding down a more reasonable pace or something.

Hopefully they were just kidding - I don't want to burn myself out on training, and get to the starting line with the tank only half-full on race day. I want to train on my long weekend runs, not race them.


No running today (so what's my excuse?)

Remember Wednesday's post, when I mentioned that the little angel had woken up several times, climbed out of his crib, and basically only slept while I was in the same room, laying on the floor?

Guess what.

OKay, so he didn't quite do the same thing last night. He did, however, get up several times - we're talking full-bore screaming, climbing out of his crib, scared out of his wits. He has a nightlight, but I think it is all related to fireworks; for some reason, they scare the heck out of him. Anyway, while that was annoying, what really got me today was him waking up well before the crack of dawn, screaming and crying. I held him and rocked him for an hour or more - he'd keep yawning; these huge, jaw-cracking yawns, and yet would refuse to sleep. Eventually, he accepted the possibility of laying down on mommy & daddy's bed (no, we don't normally do this, but the sun was just peeking over the horizon at this point, and I thought maybe he would go back to sleep for an hour or two - so that I could as well.)

Nope. He lay down for all of a minute, then started playing around. Eventually, my wife took him, and I got an extra 20 minute nap, which allowed me to be reasonably coherent, but not if I went to the Y and ran.

So, no running today, but tomorrow is a long, slow run, so at least I am rested up for that.


(Mis)adventures in potty training (and some random running)

ORN: 40 minutes of hills, so 1.5 to 7.8 degrees on the dreadmill, at 6.8 mph or faster, giving me a total of about 4.65 miles. Also, 10 minutes of rowing afterwards.

I'm not going to talk much about the running today - I did what I wanted to do (namely, hills), and though it wasn't easy, I wouldn't classify it as a "hard" workout either. In the next couple of weeks, I'll step up the speed, difficulty, or time of the workout, but today was mainly just to see how the knees and legs worked, after so long away from a dedicated hill (or, even better, trail!) workout. The answer is: not bad. Not bad at all.

No, today's big news (such as I ever have) concerns the misadventures of potty training. See, Kevin is now into that magical stage, where we hope to finally end all of the diaper changes in exchange for the occasional accident, which will necessitate cleaning the floor, changing his clothes, and buying stock in a disinfectant manufacturer in order to try and cash in on the effort.

He's also hitting that not-so-magical stage, where he can climb out of his crib, and get into all sorts of trouble in the night. In order to preserve our peace of mind, and, in order to have a decent bribe for sitting on the potty for hours at a time, we have made a little chart. Each time he sits on the potty (for a reasonable period; no "I'm on, I'm off, where's my sticker" for him), he gets to put a sticker on the chart. When he has enough stickers, he gets his new big boy bed.

These stickers, in conjunction with a DVD about construction trucks (featuring Hard-Hat Harry, the Construction Genie) have gotten us some success - we praise every little trickle that actually makes it into the potty, and keep telling him that he is doing a good job sitting there. Unfortunately, I had gotten a little complacent about the whole thing. (You see where this is going, right?)

Tonight, I was busy making dinner and he was sitting on the potty. Now, normally I would have had lots of time - he had just gotten up from his nap, and I had just given him some water, so I figured I had at least 10 minutes or so before it ran through his little bladder. Nope - I leave the kitchen to go check on him, and he has produced not a little dribble, but one of his most impressive efforts to date. And, being the helpful little boy that he is, he is (as he tells me) "Help daddy flush peepee potty", or, translated more thoroughly as follows:

"Dad, you weren't here, so I decided to upend the little container full of urine into this non-waterproof potty seat. Furthermore, I wasn't too precise when I tipped it, which is why my socks are wet. And it's probably a good thing that the toys I was playing with while watching Hard-Hat Harry are waterproof."

Okay, so I got him cleaned up, the toys washed and drying, the mess cleaned up, and a diaper on him (though not in that order - the diaper was first, as he was still walking around with a loaded gun, so to speak.) While I am cleaning up the toys, he comes waltzing back up to me, naked as a jaybird, having removed his diaper and wondering when he can sit on the potty again.

It's a lot funnier now than it was six hours ago. I try to keep a sense of humor about these things - he honestly wanted to help, and thought that he was doing so. And he is trying, but he's only two, and so he is going to make these kinds of mistakes (and messes) again in the future. Just one of the less glamorous facets of parenthood - but I wouldn't trade it away for anything.


Stupid dreadmill

ORN: 6 miles (I think, see post), 1.1 degree, no clue on time; probably about 53 minutes.

Today was supposed to be an easy day - I am planning on doing one medium-long, slow run on Wednesdays, and a long run on Saturday, with most of the other days being easy, short runs (like 4-5 miles), with perhaps one day per week being either speedwork or hills. So, I was taking it an easy, relaxed pace; I can run faster, but this is a nice, conversational pace, where I can talk while I run (if I wish).

Unfortunately, halfway through the run, I managed to hit the stupid "Stop" button. Aaarggh! I hate that! It always messes up the run; afterwards, it takes miles before everything feels "right" again. I suspect that it is due to the sudden stop, one which is completely unplanned. In a race, or even on a dreadmill run, if I need to slow it down, or even stop for a minute to adjust my shoe, it's not a problem to get back up and get running; everything feels right and normal within a tenth of a mile or so. But not when I hit that "Stop".

Anyway, so I hit it at either 3.21 or 3.71 miles. I'm pretty sure it was the latter, so I only did another 2.29 after that; so my run may have been only 5.5, but if I had to bet, I'd bet on the 6.

On a good note, today the full-scale models from the movie Cars were in town, so after my run, the son and I headed over there to meet my wife and check them out. I have some nice pics (still on the camera though), and Kevin was very thrilled to see "Sally," "Lightning" and "Mater" or, as he calls them "Sayey, Racey Car, Tow Tuck". He was hoping that Doc would be there too, but he did like seeing the semi that they have done up to look like "Mack".

I'm glad he took it well - I was a little concerned that he would start throwing a fit. Last night, he got very scared of the fireworks, and, even when we showed him what they were, and promised that, in his bed, they could not hurt him (especially with several of his animals watching over him all night long), he still woke up with nightmares at midnight(ish), 1:30(ish) and 3(ish). After the bout at 3, I grabbed an extra pillow and sacked out on his floor, just so that he would know that everything was okay. And yeah, I know I am getting older - fifteen years ago, sleeping on a floor like that wouldn't have bothered me at all. This morning? Oooh, my back was stiff as a board. Hopefully, there are no nightmares tonight.


How loud is too loud?

In a previous post, one of the comments was that I was at least partially at fault, since I was wearing headphones at the time. Now, on my mp3 player, the volume goes from 1 to (I think) 40 - with the latter being earsplitting levels of sound, and the former being incredibly quiet. When I run outside, it might get as high as 6, but the average level is 2 or 3, tops. At that level, I can hear my footstrikes, I can hear my breathing, and I can easily hear the water sloshing around in the containers in my fuel belt.

I figure, even without headphones, there was no way that I could have done anything - 60 mph is about 88 feet per second - so the car goes from "Hrm, car is coming" to "Holy $%(*$&, car is here!" in about a second and a half. Enough time, maybe, to turn around and gaze in stupified awe at the idiot, passing in a no-passing zone, and doing more than twice the posted limit, before they are on top of you.

Anyway, tonight's run was entirely without incident - I went after mowing the lawn (which took only about an hour, more if I count the time it took to change the blade and filter), which, considering that my gas-powered mower is not self-propelled, is pretty good. I tried a new detour, and, despite the humidity, covered about 4.8 miles in 41ish minutes. It shouldn't be this hard though - I must have lost more than I thought, when I skipped runs to keep moving rock. That, or the fact that the dew point is close to the current mid-70's temp might be more of a factor than I think.

I'll claim the latter, since I am quite fine in really cold weather. It's this nasty period between, say, late April and late September that really bothers me. I can't wait for it to get cool again, when the air has a nice sharp edge to it, and the days are cool and perfect for running. This high-temp, high-humidity thing is for other people, not me.


Guilt is a powerful motivator

Okay, so it wasn't exactly guilt per se. Earlier today, I had said that I did not feel well, and that I was just going to take today off and just try to get better before tomorrow. So, a couple of hours ago, I am sitting in the easy chair, reading Higdon's Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide, and I decide to go out and get in a few miles.

I need to get those miles in - the long runs won't run themselves, and I won't be able to run them if I don't maintain my base. And, I won't acclimate to the warmer summer weather if I sit around most of the time in an air-conditioned house, or running in the (warm, but climate-controlled nonetheless) YMCA. So, I gear up, and do a quick run.

I managed about 3.7 miles in about 32 minutes (didn't really double-check the route, and only glanced at my watch when I started), with only one significant near-mishap. As I am heading back, with less than a mile to go, I almost get sideswiped by an idiot in a truck. Now, this wasn't a case of him simply failing to see my as I run alongside the road; I always run facing traffic so that I am much more likely to avoid problems. No, this guy decided that the northbound traffic was going to slow (i.e., only 30 m.p.h. in a 25 zone), so he goes around them at about 60 or so - but this cutesy little time-saving maneuver brings him very close to me. See, I figured that since the road is (1) a no-passing zone; and (2) I can see oncoming traffic; then I do not need to continuously watch my back for idiots like this guy, and I can actually run on the side of the road, as opposed to the shoulder or the ditch.

He probably missed me by more than I think, but it seemed awfully close at the time, and knowing that he was completely at fault is little compensation. (And no, headphones weren't a factor here - while I was wearing them, it's not as though I missed a warning; you simply do not expect someone to be speeding down the wrong lane.)

Long time, no post (again!)

(Truly, random brain dribbles follow. Just being true to the blog's name, honest. . . .)

OKay, so it's confession time. The only running I have been able to do since Monday(!) was a dinky little 3.2ish mile run yesterday. It was going to be longer, but it was hot and humid, and until I get acclimated to it again, it's going to be a problem.

I was planning on running this morning, but woke up feeling terrible (and I still do), so I'm skipping today in order to get well for tomorrow's run. I have to get back in shape fairly quickly though, since it's already July, and my fall races are going to be here before I know it.

Update on the skunk situation - they're gone, and without having to call an exterminator (yay!). I had called around, and all of the extreminators charged in the neighborhood of $500 and up; most had a base fee plus an additional fee per skunk; which, with at least four of them, added up to a lot. So, I played some loud music and generally made a racket on the patio for a couple of days. Then, I poured gravel down the holes that the skunks (and chipmunks) had been using, and covered them with large rocks - like, 15 lb rocks, no pea gravel or 3" stones here. I also laid gravel and big stones around the entire perimeter of the patio, covering any area where an animal was going to be able to dig in and live. Then, the waiting began. It's been almost a week, and aside from one attempt by a chipmunk to dig through, the gravel and stones are undisturbed.

The big pile of rock is still there, and still impeding my running. On the other hand, it's certainly not hurting my cardiovascular fitness to move rock for an hour or three every day. And, the front yard is certainly looking much nicer than it used to, at least in the areas where I have laid new weedcloth and rock.

And, I'm in the market for a heart-rate monitor/GPS system. Any recommendations? I'm leaning toward the Garmin 305, but haven't really made a decision yet, so, if you have one that you like, let me know!