Sunday, January 31, 2010

Day 31 - One Month In

Over the last month, I have run at least one mile, outside, every day. I've covered 88.5 miles and burned approximately 9800 calories. All this took up about 12 hours and 41 minutes. (Data accumulated in the most excellent SportTrack application.)

I've been trying to think of other things that I've done for 31 straightdays. All I came up with was eating, sleeping, checking email, and urinating.
This month, I have, unbelievably, gained a pound and a half. Considering the mounds of food I've been putting away (easily 3 feet of sushi, a dozen cheeseburgers (some doubles), a bushel of fries, doughnuts, two loaves of banana nut bread, an entire pizza, several partial pizzas, my share of adult beverages, and a package of chocolate pop-tarts, just to name some) that's really not that bad.

I've forgotten my watch, to charge my watch, gloves, shoes, jacket, hat, and once, all of my gear.

I've heard from several old friends. Some with encouragement. Some with stories. Some lending their own humor. All reminding me that I've been lucky to have crossed paths with such great people.

I've even made some new friends. I haven't met any of them in person yet, but we've shared our experiences and commiserated over email.

I've also been reminded how good it is to devote just a few minutes, every day, to doing something good for myself. That's it's ok to be selfish. It's important to look after our own needs, especially when you feel out of control of your own life.

Most importantly, I've rediscovered for myself the sheer joy of that running brings me. I've always talked about it, but now I feel it again. And man, does it feel great.

So great, that today I treated myself to a ground punishing, pavement melting... ok, to be honest it was still pretty cold, so... pavement warming, blur inducing, time warping, good ol' fashion ass-kicker of a hard, fast, run. One of those runs that forces bad thoughts and feelings and memories out of your pores, leaving room for goodness. It's been a long time...

Numbers: 3.0 miles, dockin'... pace somewhere between KFA and suicide. Was fun to see the dog forced out of a trot and into a gallop.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Day 30 - Surfing

Life can really suck sometimes.

Unless you are a young child, or hopelessly senile, or in a coma, you have no choice but to suffer stress and disappointment and mean people. These are usually things that you have no control over.

The trick is to not fight the suck. Fighting it just makes things worse. Just accept what comes your way. Don't try to wish or complain it away. It's reality. Go with it.

I was reminded of this today while re-reading one of my favorite books. It says:
You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.
Running helps me ride the waves of life. So does yoga.
If you find yourself raging against the surf, find something that does that for you.

Find your surf board.

Numbers: 1.2 easy miles and some well deserved stretching.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Day 29 - Sleep, and run, when you can

The morning was bitterly cold and windy. Perfect conditions for some rationalizations, like "I'll find the time to get the run in over a lunch.", a lunch that was already double-booked. Or "I'll just leave work a little early to get in a quick mile or two.", knowing that Friday afternoon is ripe for impromptu meetings.

A running buddy of mine, who is also a big-time, super-busy, heart surgeon, has a saying, "Sleep whenever you can, because you don't know when you'll get the chance again." He perfected this to the point that he could fall asleep, anywhere, in minutes.

That thought came to me this morning, sitting on the edge of the bed, but figuratively standing at the imagined fork in the road. One path led to the shower, the other out the door. I sat/stood there for a few moments...

Then I grabbed whatever gear was within easy reach, threw on the pants from yesterday, didn't even change out of my cotton long-sleeve, saddled up one delighted dog, and headed out into the crunchy snow. It was short. It was cold. But, as always, it felt great.

And it was done.

When your schedule is tight, run when you can, because you don't know when you'll have that chance again.

Numbers: 1.3 easy miles with the dog. It was so cold that even with gloves on, the fingers on my leash hand actually hurt after half a mile. Even now, hours after finishing, the tips of my fingers are tender.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Day 28 - Sikhs, Skinheads, and Canada

Just some of today's group run conversation topics:
  • Mike's choice of a head gear - a headband that I proposed was effeminate
  • Whether my shoes were effeminate, or just odd
  • How one shouldn't judge another's choice of head gear until one know's how cold and windy it is
  • How kittens don't hold up well to garage doors
  • Whether a racial remark is also a racist remark
  • Apparently many women in the Army look hotter "all dolled up" than they do when they are combat ready
  • Men in the Army are supposed to get tight crew cuts, but not go completely bald, for fear they might be mistaken for skin heads.
  • Would a skin head in the Army be allowed to shave his/her head?
  • Skin heads in the Army would need to be taught to kill people because we say so, not because they hate them
  • People who are not American citizens can still serve in the Army
  • Sikhs in the Army don't have to cut their hair at all
  • We miss getting bonuses
  • Apparently there is an elaborate system and meaning to how a cowboy hat is shaped.
  • Mike has not only a cowboy hat, but also boots and a duster that he used to wear out, not for Halloween, but to a bar, to pick up women. It didn't work.
  • Canadian border guards wear body armor.
  • Not everyone finds women in body army attractive.
  • We're all glad we don't have to go to Canada this week.
  • Clumsy by Our Lady Peace (a Canadian band)
  • My foot prints look like those of "Baby Sasquatch"
Note: Picture above is of a Canadian Sikh. Who knew? Ah, the magic of Google Images...

Numbers: 4.4 miles and a decent clip.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Day 27 - Season's first trail run

My hope for the day was to go out with my buddies from work. One-by-one they bailed.

The idea of yet another cruise through the business park was depressing. Still, I needed to take a rest-mile day.

Gazing out of my window, I saw the woods. Aha! I'll go to the trail! Quick loop and I'll be done.

I love running on trails. The solitude. The soft footing. The whole "One with Nature" vibe. I imagine by the end of the year you'll be sick of me crooning over trail running, so I'll stop for now.

Ok, just one thing... trail runs are never boring. There's always something going on. Something always happens.

You'll see... read on.

This particular trail used to have a pair of rickety bridges, one at each end of the main access trail, to get us, first, over "the gorge" and then over the "piddly run-off".

The geniuses that own and/or manage the building took them down because they were, well, rickety.

I would have preferred a rickety bridge to what I was faced with at the gorge. The banks are steep. They were slick as snot. See that board laying across the upper right? Yeah, that's a nail-riddled 2x4 left over from said rickety bridge.

Any sensible person would have turned around.

Not surprisingly, I pressed on.

You can see that there was plenty of footing with the packed and frozen debris, right?

Wrong. That packed frozen debris is actually a wafer-thin, false-footing, liar. My left foot went straight through up to my ankle. (You can kinda see the hole just below the sticks that cross.)

"Man was I lucky not to have gone clear down to the water. I'll just step here where it's plenty solid."

Crunch! Crack! Plooosh! "Why do these leaves lie to me, so?!"

This time I went in up to my knee. All the way. Into the water. Wicked, cold water. (You can also kinda see this hole just below the snow.)

I couldn't help but laugh at myself. Shook the water off of my foot, and trudged on, lucky not to have broken a bone or gashed my leg.

On the other side I saw nothing but bunny tracks. This was a great sign. No one, save the bunny, had been here in a while. The most interesting bits of trail are the ones no one goes on. That and the horrendously dangerous bits.

Soon the trail met a more traveled section. Sights like this get me moving just a bit faster. You couldn't have wiped the grin off my face... wet toes be damned.

Since I was keeping the mileage low, I was just going to hit the "piddly run-off" crossing, which nearly always is easily passable thanks to some well-placed hunks of concrete. I sure wasn't going to cross the gorge again... heh, heh... no way, that would be stupid... wuh?...

Great. The "piddly run-off" was a good 18 inches deep and running like mad. I don't know what was melting (it was 24F) but something was, and it was in a hurry to get to the river.

Faced with my pending return to the gorge and accompanying dance with death, I decided I might as well make the most out of what could be my last few minutes alive. I took the side trail deeper into the woods.

Along the gently-meandering trail, I came upon this not-so-subtle reminder that my hurdling days are well behind me. I tried anyway. It wasn't pretty. No harm, except for the ego.

Deeper into the woods, I startled a big bird. I'm assuming a heron. It in turn startled a deer. As I watched the deer scamper up ahead of me, I felt a glare from my right.

It was another deer. Much bigger than the first one. Much bigger and closer than it appears in the picture above. I'm pretty sure I could hear her saying, "Get out of my woods before I shove a hoof up your ass." (Sorry for the language, it was the deer, not me.)

Here's a picture of the other deer. See it off in the distance there? Me neither.

I managed to survive the second crossing of the gorge without dipping back into the water with what were at that point little toe-cicles. But before I did, I snapped the pic below.

I'm proud to have added my tracks to those of that brave little bunny.

Good running,

Numbers: 2.2 miles. Toes have feeling again.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Day 26 - Knocking one off early

Today is schedule bound. Too much to do and a lovely snow dump last night won't make things any easier.

The escape valve for these days is a morning run. Morning as in before work. As in roll out of bed and lace up.

These runs test one's gumption. Outside it was 19F, windy, and snowy. Under my covers it was snuggly, and warm.

On top of that, morning is when muscles are stiff, and hydration is low, and fuel is even lower.

The body is just not up for a run.

Yet run it must.

The good news is that after the run, those stiff muscles are warm and loose. The head is clear, and the day looks promising.

Good running,

Numbers: 1.3 slippery, tightly scheduled miles with the dog.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Day 25 - Habits

I was told this weekend that it takes 3 weeks to form a habit. Also, it's good to try to establish just one habit at a time. Trying to do too much at once usually means screwing it all up.

I've been at this daily running thing for a tad over 3 weeks. It does feel like a habit now. So perhaps it's time to take on a new habit.

I suppose I could try to eat better. But my newly intensified cravings for fat and salt have cast a vote for a cheese burger habit. Some would say that I'm well on my way to that one. I'm not sure I'm up for that fight, yet.

No, I'm thinking something more along the lines of fiscal rebuilding... repairing some of the other damage that 2009 wrought on me personally.

(I find myself wanting to spit every time I say "2009." Anyone else?)

If this 365 habit is any indication, all it takes to whip myself back into financial shape is a simple plan and a daily kick in the shorts. Uh... the back end of the sorts, please. Thanks.

I really believe that running puts things into perspective, and gives us a chance to see ourselves without the fog of our past, our habits, our assumptions. It gives us a fresh view and helps us see what's possible.

Good running,

Numbers: Rest mile day, 1.4 miles easy in old-school shoes to give the blister a break. Oh, and it's 32F and windy.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Day 24 - Being awake

Living a great life starts with being awake. Being awake to the opportunities that life offers, not sleeping through them.

Today was an exceptional day that offered a gift.

It was 52F. In Indiana. In January.

There are days that need to be taken advantage of, and this was one of them.

When was the next time I would have unlimited time to run in 52F. Look at the rest of the week. It's a freak of nature. It's a gift.

My first instinct was to run an easy 3 with the dog and snag a nap. But how could I waste such a gift?

So a mere mile into the run, I called an audible. We, the dog and I, were doing 7.

And it was glorious.

There's nothing like a break in the weather to bring out the running community. After 23 days of seeing nary a single runner, I passed (or was passed by) no less than 12 runners in my short outing. And that doesn't include the walkers, cyclists, and lone roller-blader.

It was great to see the runners out. I've missed them.

Tomorrow looks to be less gift-like. But that's ok. Having today will get me through the rest.

Good running,

Numbers: 7 miles on wet asphalt, and one nasty blister.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Day 23 - Never was much of a Boy Scout

Morning came way too early.

After a night of a late birthday celebration (Yea Mary Ann!), great food, better wine, wonderful friends, many laughs, live music, and even some dancing, I had an early swim meet to get to. An hour away.

Thing is, short-on-sleep Doug doesn't think super-clearly.

I had my gear bagged and ready to go. But for some reason, I decided to leave it behind. "I'll run when I get back."

Surprise! The swim meet wasn't the usual 3 hour meet. No, this was a big meet, lots of schools, preliminary heats, a 90 minute break, and then finals. So rather than getting back at like 1:00, I was looking at 5:00...maybe.

"I have backup gear in my car.", I thought to myself. "I need a rest-mile day anyway and want to stick to right at a mile to make up for the last two days. I'll run on the school's track. Easy peasy."

Not so much. Gates were locked. I was hosed.

Fudge. Shoot. Testicles. (Very nearly what I said.)

Moral of this story... Don't rely on your emergency gear to get you out of a jam. Emergency gear is for emergencies, not contingencies. Avoid the jam. Bring your damn gear. Especially if it's packed and was on your fudging shoulder, you doof!

Instead of a nice story about making a run magically happen during found time between life's unruly circumstances, I have a story of scrambling to make up for my own hubris. I raced home, hurried through a run and now don't have time to nap before going out.

Dog's happy though.

Numbers: 1.1 rest miles, very easy on wet, but above 40F, pavement.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Day 22 - Friday Run

Fridays runs are usually throw away runs. "Junk miles" we call them.

With the weekend looming, which usually means a race or some longer runs, we tend to take Friday off, or take it easy.

The weather was as good as it gets in Indiana in January. (34F, no wind, no rain, overcast)

So today, Mike and I took it easy.

The relaxed pace, along with the relaxed mood that comes with every Friday, made for a relaxing run.

"How can a 4 mile run be relaxing?", I can hear you asking yourself. That's part of the running lifestyle. After an easy run with good conversation and a great weekend to look forward to, I'm warm, loose, content, and relaxed.

How did you feel after lunch today?

Numbers: Moderately paced 3.9 miles.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Day 21 - Still cold, Rainy-er

Here's a hint for those of you who might one day find yourself running in (yet another) 34F rainy, windy day:

Don't forget your damn jacket.

Ya see, what happens, immediately, is your shirt gets soaked.

And then the wind can just rip right through it.

And it's 34F.

My nipples could cut glass.

I'm just sayin'...

Numbers: 4.3 moderate miles on cold, wet pavement.

Note: I've decided not to include pace data since it's not really important. I may use an adjective or two if I think it's germane. If anyone is just dying for pace data, I'll put it back in. But seriously, I doubt anyone cares.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Day 20 - Cold Rain

You know what's great about running outside when it's 34F, windy, and raining?

Yeah, nothing.

Side note: "Dreary" is one of my son's spelling words for today. That teacher's a funny one.

I guess one good thing about the weather is that it made it easy to take a rest mile today.

And I did feel better, right off the bat, which is a good sign. Legs were fresh. Feet felt good.

Hopefully this weekend I'll be able to put in a good hard run. I feel like punishing something. Ground, looks like it's you.

Good running,

Numbers: 1.4 miles, almost entirely on grass, at 8:56. That's more like a rest mile pace.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Day 19 - Rest Miles

I read once that there are quite a few doctor's who smoke.

I feel a little like one of those doctors. I give great advice to lots of runners that I don't follow myself.

The nugget of wisdom that comes to mind is the value of rest days.

I firmly believe that runners know their bodies better than anyone. We are in tune with our bodies. They speak to us.

My problem is, too often I don't listen. Today, I'm listening.

I'd had an unofficial goal to keep every run in this little game at least 2 miles. Seemed easy. It's just 2 miles. But I've been noticing fatigue building up and the slightest whispers of overuse injuries on the horizon. Runners' bodies need rest days. 2 miles isn't a rest day. One easy mile, very easy, is a rest day.

I think I'll call them "rest miles."

What I've been doing is exactly the wrong thing. The same thing over and over and over, Not enough to feel satisfied, but enough to wear me down. That's what leads to injuries, not to mention boredom. I need to mix it up.

So today, I ran just over a mile. I'm programming in rest miles. These one mile runs will be warm-ups for something else. Today it was some serious stretching. Felt great.

Another couple of rest mile days and I'll be ready to start inching up my distance, with more rest mile days to back them up. I'll be able to work on my speed, because I'll have a rest mile the next day to recover. I'll even be able to throw in some races.

I'm sure my other unofficial goals will be challenged as well (running only outside, staying off of treadmills), but this one had to go or I wouldn't have made it through 365 days.

Plus, this gives me a chance to actually train, get stronger, get faster, all that good stuff that comes with running smart and not just plodding through the same run day after day.

I'm learning from my mistakes. I feel like such a grown up.

Good running,

Numbers: 1.1 miles at 8:30 pace (probably a bit too fast)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Day 18- A Day Off

No, not a day off from running. A day off from work.

If there's one thing I know how to do well (I'd like to think there are several) it's taking a day off of work.

I have so many thing to catch up on here at the house. I'm ignoring them all.

Rose early to get the daughter to swim practice and feed the boys. After catching up on our Simpsons' episodes (Thank you Hulu.) and delivering them to their mom's, I was set for an action packed day off.

First up... a nap.

Next on the agenda, a nice relaxing run.

I'm probably lucky to be alive to enjoy this holiday considering the dog was not pleased with me having run without her yesterday. Not pleased at all. Not pleased to the point that when I woke up late last night, I caught her sitting bedside, inches from my face, eyeing my jugular.

So, I was taking the dog... for sure.

I'm lucky to live just a few miles from one of the best cross country courses in the Midwest. I've been to dozens of races there, but before today had never run on the course myself.

A day off is the perfect opportunity to right just such a wrong.

Watching a cross country race is an exciting experience. The competition and drive of the runners is absolutely contagious. And inspiring. And apparently amnesia-inducing.

200 yards past the start, and I had no idea which way to go. I've seen thousands of runners attack this course. Now that I'm on it, I am lost.

That takes some doing on this course. It's meticulously manicured, even in the dead of winter. There are friggin' sign posts for 5K and 3K courses. But evidently there's a sign missing. Or more likely there's a turn or a bend that is so obviously the way to go that a sign isn't needed. Obvious to everyone but me.

Barely a mile into the course and I see a 3mile post. I'm not even close.

The dog and I decide to just cover the course as we saw fit.

It's great to get off of the roads and onto grass. Portions of the course are still hard frozen. There's a touch of snow here and there. There are even some downright sloppy bits. But the rolling hills and soft surface are just what the doctor ordered for a couple of tired legs.

We finished short of my planned 5K, but neither of us seemed to care.

We were warm. We were dirty.

It had been a good run.

Next up, left over pizza, an adult beverage, and a replay of the Formula One Turkish Grand Prix (thank you Speed TV).

Then, maybe another nap.

Numbers: 2.8 miles at 8:35 pace. Forgot to mention last week that the Garmin GPS watch is back in service. Was just a really dead battery.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Day 17 - Running Errands

After another morning spent at the Natatorium to watch my daughter swim less than 5 minutes, and a side trip with the boys, who had been super good troopers but were seriously bored nonetheless, to Dave & Busters, I was glad to be home.

Because I am perhaps the only person on the planet who could have two garage door openers fail within a week of each other, putting the car in the garage is a definitive statement of my intention for it to stay until the next day.

I stepped into the house, and there in front of me was the RedBox DVD. Frag! It's only a dollar, but I'd already had it 3 days. It's just the principle of the matter. I'm a loyal NetFlix guy. I rent movies at RedBox because they're only a dollar. This one was already costing me 300% the initial estimated cost.

With a heavy, and I'm sure pitiful sigh, I resigned to the fact that I was going to return the DVD.

That and I had to get my run in.

[Tink! Light goes on above my head.]

Meijer is about a mile from my house. I'll run the DVD back. Sweet!

I love "running" errands. Problem is there are built in limiting factors.

1) I can't carry much. I sometimes use a lightweight backpack, but I'm not going to sherpa a gallon of milk.

2) Not every store is sweaty-runner friendly.

3) Virtually no stores are dog friendly. (She was beside herself when I left without her for this run. The kids had to endure her moans and howling.)

But when the occasion arises, it's a great way to kill two birds.

Look at me, all green and stuff.

Good running,

Numbers: 2.0 miles at 8:07. Took it easy as right foot still a bit tender.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Day 16 - Feeding my Habit

Insanely early swim meet, teenage girl taxi, youngest play date, bored 12 yr old.

This was my morning. Not complaining, but man was I jonesin' for a run.

That's saying something actually. For those playing along, the purpose of this ridiculous exercise was to get me back out the door, especially when I really needed a run.

Out I went. Sore feet and all.

And man do I feel better.

So don't hesitate. Listen to the runner inside you, even if you've been ignoring him/her since grade school.

Lace up the dog and put your shoes on a leash and head out! Wait... never mind... you get the idea.

Good running!

Numbers: 2.1 miles at 8:29.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Day 15 - Good things happen to runners.

Last night was a mellow, hang out on the couch night. A night to get caught up on laundry, mail, my relationship with my dog.

My new running groove means lots of running type laundry. And winter running means extra layers, and extra laundry. There was a good pile of not-so-sweet-smelling gear to get clean. And for good measure, I threw in my shoes. These shoes air dry in just a few hours, so I'd be fine for my next run.


On my way to work, the running bag dutifully stowed in my trunk, was short a pair of shoes.

Shoes were still hanging in the laundry room.

"Fuuuuuuuuuuuudge", is almost what I said.

After a moment of panic, trying to figure out when I was going to run this evening, I remembered that I'd prepared for just such an occasion: Keep spare gear in the car. So I had some really crappy old shoes, but they were shoes. I was not happy. But I wasn't in a panic.

Then, the UPS man came.

He came bearing new shoes. Shoes (more appropriate for the conditions) that I'd ordered last week.

It was a little running miracle.

Good things happen to good people. Runners are good people. Ergo, good things happen to runners.

Good running,

Numbers: 2.3 miles at 8:22, tight schedule, but hit every "hill" in the business park. One of those runs I didn't want to end. Life's good!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Day 14 - Work group run

The last few runs have been a bit... what's the word... monotonous? Yes, that will work. Three straight days of running on my own, from the same place, on virtually the same roads. I really needed to shake things up a bit.

Lucky for me, there was a group run already planned. Even better, the dreaded impromptu11:30-12:00 meeting, the one that's ruined 2 planned runs already this week, couldn't take me down today. The group was heading out at noon. Take that stupid meeting!

Mike, Mark, and Bill.

Finally, someone to talk to, or listen to. Didn't matter to me. I was just glad to have the company. But this wasn't just any company. I work with these guys every day. Three of us have offices next to each other.

With most of the people we work with, there's an unspoken boundary within which conversations stay. We all have our roles. Everyone stays inbounds. Nobody gets offended. All's well.

The group run changes that mentality. On the run, the unspoken agreement is that anything goes, but it stays on the road. And the more that group runs together, more and more of that stuff needs to stay on that road.

Sooner or later, running buddies will speak their mind. Freely. (I think it has something to do with oxygen deprivation.) But that's part of the deal. And that's how you get to really know somebody.

And the more you run with someone, the more blurred the line between co-worker and running buddy gets. And let me tell ya, it's great to work with running buddies.

Good running,

Numbers: 2.8 at 8:03 pace - recovery day as the legs are feeling a bit knackered.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Day 13 - The Slippery Rainbow

Any runner in the Midwest will recognize this street. Or at least one just like it.

It's an East/West side-street a good 6 days after the last real snowfall. Six sunny days and we still get this mess to deal with.

What we've got here is the entire spectrum of winter surfaces, neatly laid out left to right. Like a rainbow. A cold, slippery, miserable rainbow.

On the far left you've got your "virgin snow". Looks to be about ankle deep. It'll hit you just above your no-show socks, right at the bare skin . That'll wake you up! But, if you're ankles are properly geared-up, this stuff is actually great fun. Each stride sprays powder left, right and forward, and you can't help but get a little bit of that Shackleton vibe, trekking for the south pole.

Shackleton and The Nimrod Expedition* to the South Pole. I am not making this up.

Next we have the "snow plow slough". Great for building snow forts. Horrible for running, since it's deep and full of chunky sharp ice.

Next we get the "loose pack." This crap is littered with snow rocks and gives horrible traction. This is where we're forced to go when cars pass by too close. So if you're driving by one of us, give us a little room, eh?

Next we have "firm pack." This is characterized by its sickly gray color and dusting of snow. This is the best traction short of pavement. It's almost always present and where we spend most of our time, though we're always coveting a little pavement action.

Then we have a thin strip of the easy to miss "polished snow." Just like it sounds, this stuff looks like snow, but acts like glare ice. You usually don't notice it until that one step when you're transitioning from one surface to another, and by then it's too late.

Next we have "ice." We're all familiar with ice. In these conditions we get a little extra bonus. The ice is usually just a little wet. Water on ice. That my friends is "Nature's Wintery Lube." Wise feet don't tread here.

To the right of that death trap we have "slush." It's about as good as it sounds. Wet, cold, slippery. Nothing good to say about slush.

Hanging next to slush is "water." This is cold water. You know it's cold because when you try to avoid the slush and hit the water, it splashes up on your shoes and races down to your toes. And once it's in there, you get to take it with you.

Finally, we have the elusive "pavement." The name just screams traction. And dry toes. But it's a scarce little tease, usually only a few yards long. And to get to this promised land, you have to negotiate through the other various cold and dangerous states of water.

I really do enjoy winter running. Honestly. And once you get out there, you'll learn to love the different, and sometimes challenging conditions. Kinda like those cousins you see once a year.

Numbers: 4.2 miles at 8:11 pace.

*If there hasn't been a band called The Nimrod Expedition, well, there should be.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Day 12 - Do I smell brownies?

I've been running for a long time. Loooong time. I've gone through more training cycles than I care to count.

You'd think that by now I wouldn't be surprised by much. Lucky for me, my memory is... um, is something... give me a minute... what was the question?

Over the past 12 days I've noticed my legs toning up a little bit more. Expected. Yesterday I saw a nice little bump in performance. I'm feeling good. Mood is positive. Sleeping well. All benefits of the running lifestyle.

What I hadn't expected, or forgot about, was the spike in my appetite. I haven't really been hungry, or even felt like eating, in weeks. I've been forcing myself to eat, living off one meal a day, protein bars and V8. But the increase in my calorie burn has awakened the beast that is my stomach.

The last few days I have had intense cravings. Specifically for Lays chips and Famous Amos cookies. Lucky for me the vending machine downstairs serves up both. Sunday I ate half a pizza... and chips and salsa. Last night I inhaled a Reuben and then ate every last speck of the accompanying fried onion string things.

Underlying these cravings is a need for, play along here... salt, yes very good... calories (sugar and fat) sure. My body is burning lots of both and wants more. Now!

I should have seen this coming and stocked up on more wholesome foods. But for now I'm enjoying my refueling binges... guilt free.

Numbers: 2 miles at 8:27 pace - recovery day.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Day 11 - Surfing the Business Park

Last night there was a very small celebration to mark 10 days in a row. The size of the celebration was in keeping with the accomplishment, that being 2.7% of the way to 365.

It did, however, involve some excellent tequila. Fairly modest amounts of tequila, but it made for a late night. Late enough that a morning run wasn't in the cards. Join that with the fact that I had meetings until noon, and another at 1:00, and from the outset, I knew today was going to be a challenge.

I had an hour to dress, run, stretch, shower, dress, and shove some version of food in my mouth to get me through the afternoon.

At 12:05 I was out the door and eager to hit my usual work course. It took me about 40 yards before I realized there was a problem.

My route included several previously unnoticed off-road short cuts that were currently buried under mounds of snow that used to cover the parking lots in the business park. My course was littered with deep, icy, cold roadblocks. My shoes were decidedly not conducive to deep snow.

One of the great things about running is that it is really easy to improvise. Running is so lightweight, you can change your mind in a second. If you're a swimmer, there aren't many options open to you if you show up and all of the lanes are full, or worse, the pool's closed. Many a good bike ride have been spoiled by a random shard of glass.

On the fly, I completely changed my plans. I decided to see how many miles I could log without leaving my business park and without retracing my steps. All I needed was a mile, right?

Cruising around even what you think is familiar territory on foot, you'll still usually discover something. For example, that building by the entrance that too often has ambulances out front? Turns out to be a nursing home. Who knew!

I managed to get over 3 miles in the parking lots and streets of the business park. 3 miles! I only retraced one road, the main drag, and that was to get in the big hill and loop around the bank.

When most people pull into a business park, they consider themselves having arrived. They're "there", it's just a matter of finding the right building and a place to park. Well hidden in there, in what is essentially a big convoluted driveway, are at least 3 miles of good running.

There are millions of hidden miles out there, hundreds right under your nose, each step of which is way more interesting that anything you'll see on a treadmill. Get out there are find some of them.

Good running,

Numbers: 3.1 miles at a surprisingly brick 7:47 pace. Guess the legs liked being free of the trail shoes.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Day 10 - Cold feet

Woke up early-ish this morning after a long night. Temperature was 12F. That was a sign. Back to bed I went.

Stirred at 11, feeling much more rested. Could see the sun was shining brightly through the slits in my blinds. "Excellent! Wonder how warm it is? I'll just power-up the ol' phone and touch the little weather icon and WTF!!! It's 9F?!? How can it... What ... The sun doesn't make things colder!"

Undaunted, I ventured out.

The streets were clear, but there was plenty of snow and it was calling me. Ask any runner what they like most about winter running, and the first thing they'll tell you is the sound. The rhythmic muffled crunch and the spray of the powder reminds you at every footfall that you are out in the world.

But there was a problem. My running partner was lagging behind. The ONLY times she isn't raring to go is when a) we are in the last 1/10th mile of our home loop (oh man, done already?), or b) when something's wrong. She's usually all about running in snow, even deep snow, but for some reason it wasn't right today. So I abandoned the snow and stayed on the clear streets.

Like any good long term relationship, you need to look out for your running buddy, to compromise, even at the expense of your run. Next time, when it's you who's hurting, your buddy will do the same for you.

Numbers: 2.8 miles at 8:11 pace. Bit of a cough, and 2 days in trail shoes irritating heels a little.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Day 9 - Get it when/where you can

(First attempt at posting via email. Please forgive any funkiness.)

Having slipped into my own bed after 2:30 thanks to flight delays and
resultant travel buzz, the 7:30 alarm seemed like a mistake, or
someone's idea of a joke. It was neither.

A run in the AM was just not in the cards.

Son's early morning basketball game (they won), retreiving the dog
from daycare, and then the big conference swim meet were my agenda for
the day. Then going to see Avatar this evening.

It was a day when creative scheduling was needed. Packed my gear and a
flexible attitude.

Luckily there were 6 heats of the 500 free and my daughter wasn't in
any of them. Perfect time to sneak out for a run.

Changed in the big stall and headed out in no particular direction. An
impromptu run is a great mood lifter and rut buster, and if you let
it, can add back some playfulness to your running. Not knowing where
you're going, even what's around the next corner, forces you to look
up, see the teeny tiny part of the world you're exploring, and to make
your own way through it.

Good running,

Numbers: 3.1 miles at 8:28 pace. Ran in trail shoes. Felt like I was
cheating on my VFFs. Purposely went off road into calf deep snow to
justify my infidelity.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Day 8 - Shhhh

The last night of a multi-day, mass meeting is almost always trouble. With the loooong, back-to-back sessions dripping with technical details finally over, and my personal not-so-long preso taken care of, the tension was gone. Game on!

(It's so bright in here. Can we get these lights turned down?)

There was drinking. ("I haven't had Corona in forever." Yeah, and now I remember why.)

There was dancing. (I know. Wasn't pretty I'm sure.)

There were texts and emails sent and not remembered. (Remarkably coherent, though.)

(I think someone snuck into my room last night and flocked my tongue. And my brain.)

Then came the moment when I knew I was done. Without a word I was off the dance floor, out of the party, on the elevator, and in my room.

Twelve seconds later my alarm went off.

Running hungover isn't fun. There wasn't enough water in Sarasota to rehydrate me. Thankfully I had Bob, Seth, and Brad to drag me out. And I'm most thankful for Michele for making it out and giving me an excuse to run short and slow.

(Is it really loud in here or is it me?)

Numbers: 2.2 miles up and over bridge and back. 22 minutes. Garmin 305 appears to have died.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Day 7 - Photo Safari - Sarasota

Another of my favorite travel running traditions is taking a camera out and seeing what I can find to take pictures of. I used to do it with those disposable cameras. Now, of course, all I need is my phone. I was joined by Bob and Scott for this short but entertaining, and only slightly illegal, jaunt around Sarasota. (Captions below photos.)

This was the sunrise that greeted us. Not quite as spectacular as yesterday, but I didn't have my camera/phone yesterday. If you wanted to see yesterday's sunrise, I guess you should have gone on the run with us. :-)

Bob takes a quick peek to see if the nurse is decent. She isn't. Those nurses...

Seriously... how does this happen? Who leaves their sailboat all "Drunk parked" like this?

This is a bit of the "Sarasota Recreational Trail", which is less trail than short sidewalk. But the view of the bridge is pretty sweet.

Something you should know about me. I have a thing for fountains. When I see a fountain, I get in. Saw this one. Got in. Knee deep and cold as hell.

Oh, and apparently constructed with slipshod wiring.

A little further down the "trail" is the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. Who doesn't love running through a beautiful garden?

And look, it's "open."

I like to think of myself as a budding Buddhist. I'm not sure a real Buddhist would shout "Look, a Buddha!" and run over to snap a pic. Hence the "budding" qualifier.

We ventured further in and found the gardens to be remarkable. Lush, beautiful, and actually closed. We came upon a caretaker who gave us the "Now guys... you know better" look, and kindly told us that the gardens didn't open until 10a. We apologized in our best, fake, sheepish manor, told him the gate was "open", and proceeded to the exit on a not-so-direct route.

Too soon we were back at the hotel, which prominently features this nice little fountain. Yes, I have.

The numbers: 3.6 miles at an easy 9:20 pace, with lots of stops for pics and sprints to catch up to my patient cohorts. Here's a link to the data. For fun, look at the pace graph... quite the interval workout.

Good running,

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Day 6 - Group Run

This morning I was fortunate enough to participate in one of my favorite rituals of mass meetings... the early morning group run. At the reception last night Bob and I spread the word among the folks who we knew were runners. Lots of takers at 8:00pm last night. Not surprisingly the number was trimmed to 6 when 7:00am came around.

As the group gathered, each of us made a quick trek out into the cold, over by the fountain, out from under the roof, and back in. To most people, this would seem strange. But for us, we instantly recognized the behavior. Of the six runners, five of us had GPS watches. Sure we're a bunch of geeks, but we like our data! As we headed out, there by the fountain, on the ground, lay the GPS watches, like 5 little fish out of water, waiting to be strapped on to dutifully record the run for posterity. This was likely one of the most well chronicled group runs in history. (Check out the data.)

Without the wicked wind of yesterday, the weather, though colder (33F), was much more pleasant. We ran away from the bridge this time on a nice little trail that loops around a marina. We were treated to a sunrise over the water with the bridge in the background and dozens of sail boats bobbing in the distance. We joked and chatted and laughed the whole run.

The community of runners is as diverse as any group you'll find. We all have different speeds, goals, reasons to be out there. We've all come to running our own way. Yet we easily merge together when the run starts. The conversations are easy and lively. And, runners are just good people.

Thanks Rob, Bob, Seth, Christian, and Sven for a great run. Same time tomorrow?

The numbers for today: brisk 5.1 miles at 8:28 pace (with a nice 2 mile section under 8:00).

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Day 5 - Bridge Run

I think the best way to see a city is on foot. You see a lot more that way, plus you get a feel for the city... the sounds, the smells, the conversations.

When I travel, I try to scout as much of the city as I can. The first run in a new city is always full of potential. Everything is new. You have no idea what's in store.

Today, I find myself in Sarasota Florida. I don't know anything about Sarasota, except that you really can't be in a hurry here. There are retired people everywhere and there are going to be some in front of you, so just relax.

Even tough it is pretty darn cold and there's a steady stiff breeze, I'm not going to complain about the weather. Back home, it's 10. So, no whining from me.

For my first excursion in Sarasota, I took on the John Ringling Causeway bridge which is just down the street from my hotel. In just 2.5 miles I was up and over the bridge on some island and back.

Bridge runs always seem like a great idea. They look fantastic. You're going over water. But in reality, they're almost always a let down. The view is never as good as you expect because the walls and rails, which look so frail from the bottom, are up to your shoulders. So mostly what you see is a sidewalk with walls, like the groove in a slot-car track.

Once you get to the other side, well, there you are on the other side. And you get to go back up and over in the long slot. And when you're done you look back and pretend that you enjoyed it.

There's got to be somewhere more interesting to run around here.

The numbers: 2.5 miles at 8:33 pace