Thursday, November 30, 2006

Bodies in Motion

Because it's an odd week. Normally my schedule would be: Sunday - 5 miles; Tuesday - 3 miles; Wednesday 1-2 miles; Thursday 3 miles and cross training and rest days on the other days. But things conspired ... as will happen and I found myself doing my long run on Tuesday instead of Sunday.

This lead to the problem: what to do about the other runs before next Sunday's long run?

After kicking the idea around for a bit it hit me: why not turn the 2 three milers into four milers and I'm all square.

So I went out for four today and the first two miles were fine but then something odd happened. At the 2 mile point I just didn't feel like running, but I didn't want to stop moving forward. I wasn't out of breath or sore or anything like that, I just didn't want to run.

I asked myself, "Self, is this a bad thing?"

Then I answered myself, "Silly Pika, this isn't a bad thing. It's in the mid-60's in Boston and tomorrow is the first of December. The sun is shining, the world smells fresh and clean and maybe it's just a day to slow down and enjoy all that."

"Good point Self," I said and then walked the last two miles. Of course, I now walk much faster than I did last spring. Nonetheless, I enjoyed moving along the paths - a body in motion reluctant to come to a stop or resting point.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

An easy five

It's an odd week. Normally I do my long run on Sunday - but that didn't happen for a multitude of reasons this week. So I was doing a quick rearrange of the schedule and I got my five miles in today.

It really was a pleasant five along the river.

The temps were in the upper 40's and the sky was gray... heavy with rain that wants to fall but isn't quite ready yet to come down - but you know when it does it will be in heavy, flooding sheets.

I mapped out a 5 mile route before heading out and I have to admit, I was a little afraid of the distance. I think it was such a significant goal last summer when I was training for the Tufts 10k, that the thought of running 5 miles was a bit frightening. But I loaded up a 152 beat DJ Steveboy mix and was off.

There was never a point where I felt strained - it was just nice and comfortable the entire run. I love it when a run feels like that, like it could just keep going like the Energizer Bunny. A couple of times I could feel my feet starting to drag so I'd lift my heels a little and I'd be back on track. Then there are those spots on the route where I'd normally slow down and start to feel the run, but instead my feet just kept moving.

I realize that every time I go out for a run, I get a little closer to the goal of "going out for an easy 5" on a regular basis. Today was one of those days and I couldn't be happier.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

In the Dark

It was one of those days where I needed to crash, but I also needed to run.

At 5 pm it was already dark, but I figured I had to run, mapped out a 3 mile and a 5 mile route along main roads, suited up and headed out the door. It was a good run tonight, comfortable in spite of the temps hovering around 40* and not too weird for the most part. Running at night's not as friendly as during the day. People don't greet you or nod in acknowledgement - they pull the darkness around them and scurry on past.

I was coming to the end of 3 miles and feeling pretty good. I was breathing well, the body was feeling great and I decided to add the two mile loop on when I missed a curb cut and went down on my knee.

The brand new running tights I was wearing for the first time - history. Even in the dark I could tell I did a pretty good job scraping my knee. I stood up and ended my workout on the iPod and took a few steps. Everything felt pretty good, so I guess I'm pretty lucky.

Just before I fell, I was noticing things like how weird it was to be sweating while watching my breath make little puff clouds in the cooling air of the night. I was thinking about how empty the streets were for a Saturday night, guessing most people are still either sleeping off the turkey and pumpkin pie or out of town. No dogs out being walked, no couple strolling around the block.

It was actually kind of lonely.

I don't think I'll be running at night again anytime soon. If I do, it will be on the treadmill in a gym - especially since the holiday offers are coming in the mail. Maybe having a backup plan for days like today would be better than taking my chances on dark streets, uncertain surfaces and curb cuts hiding in the night.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today's lesson: I eat 150 BPM podcasts like desert after a full Thanksgiving meal - with steady gusto and determination.

Race Report: Gazelle Boy, my niece, Nini, and I all ran this morning in the 8th annual Hingham Thanksgiving 5K through Wompatuck State Forest.

This was an early race - 7:30 am - and crowded. There were about 600 runners. This was a fundraiser for the Hingham xcountry and track booster club - so even though they are a rival team, I feel good about supporting a sport that isn't just basketball or football. (Where most athletic money goes.) I checked the weather on line before leaving - 40* and overcast with showers predicted.

I hoped the weather gods would smile on us and hold off on the rain (they did) and Gazelle Boy and I headed out to meet up with Nini. Sorta SIL came to watch us finish and was our "support crew" - holding things like my glasses, keys, wallet, etc.

When they said "7:30 start," they meant it. I had barely pinned on my number and set up my podcast to play on the Nike+ when the gun sounded at exactly 7:30 and the 600 or so runners were off.

This is a pretty flat course - some rises and dips - but nothing major. Today I selected the 150 BPM DJ Steveboy mix. I figured I had a comfortable 4 miler at 142 BPM, why not kick it up a notch for a shorter distance?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, best laid plans and all that...

The run started at the high school and entered the state forest. We ran along the auto road through the woods - which was a really relaxing and pleasant run.

The first mile was good. Someone was there to call times and I was surprised to hear 11:44. I'm usually around the 12:00 to 12:30 point in a race. Overall my pace tends to hover around the 12:30 - 13:00 minute mark. But I also knew I wouldn't be slowing down because the beat was really driving me.

Around me were accomplished triathletes and runners who were coaching their kids. We passed back and forth throughout the race. Whenever the younger kids (probably in the 7-9 year old range) would start to get discouraged, I'd say something like, "C'mon, you know you're gonna beat the socks off me," or "You gonna let an old lady beat you?" They'd scamper off and I'd pass them later when they were walking and then they'd scamper past me after they recovered.

Just as the voice in my ear said 2.5 kilometers to go, I got a stitch in my side.


So I slowed to a walk and kept driving my elbows and heels until it finally subsided. I came up on the water station just before the 2 mile point and gratefully drank a cup as I was getting that cotton mouth feel on the edges of my lips and started running again.

The person was still there calling splits - this time for the 2 mile and he yelled out "24:16"

"Hmm... not bad," I thought. I realized, in spite of the walking, I was still making good time. About a half mile down the road, after we came out of the woods to see the high school, I could feel the stitch returning.

I took it down a little bit and started counting the phone poles - just make it to the next pole - and then counting off a 4 beat as I ran. The race finished by running through the parking lot and onto the track to run the last 300 meters.

One of the kids I had been encouraging along the way was starting to slow. I caught up and said, "C'mon buddy, you made it this far now finish strong." He put the pedal to the metal and cruised across the line while I was coming up on the home stretch.

As I came up on the finish, I couldn't fully read the display as I run without my glasses on. It looked like 39:12 as I approached. Not my best, not my worst as I headed into the chute.

When I got home, I sat down to see if the times were up yet - they were (that was fast especially since there were no chips in this race). Turns out my final time ws 36:19!!! That's an 11:41 pace and moving towards my goal of a 10 minute mile.

This is a PR for me totally shattering my last PR of 38:36 back on Labor Day.

Woo Hoo!

Gazelle Boy did his usual finish at the front of the pack thing and Nini ran sub 10 miles. All in all a good outing for all of us.

Now it's time to go assist Mr. Pi in cooking today's meal.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Four Good Miles

Now that the bulk of the HTML issues are out of the way, I can go back to recording what's going on run wise.... especially since said issues lost one of my dailies.

The other day I ran a crappy 3 miles. The Nike+ turned itself off a mile into the run and didn't record 2 of the miles - but it didn't matter, they just weren't happy miles. Between the rain and the humidity and everything else, it was just not an enjoyable run and I literally slogged through it.

Today was a different story. I decided to go and run the BA Event 4 mile course. It's fairly flat and it doesn't have too many places where you can ditch - so it was a good one for me to do after a putrid run the other day.

I loaded up the recent DJ Steveboy mix - which is a 140 BPM mix - and started running. I'm really liking running to a steady beat and it shows when I sync up the Nike+ because the line is pretty even instead of up and down like a roller coaster.

Running along different parts of the Charles River, you see different folks. This morning I passed one of the Harvard Women's teams out doing their road work (and thanks for the "looking good" shout out you gave me - I was at 3.5 miles at that point). I passed people out doing their dailies or weeklies, older people walking, and (of course) lots of folks like me.

In the end, I averaged a 12:30 pace for 4 miles and it felt good.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

under construction

OK... did something truly stupid here, Blogger pushed me to beta and I hit the wrong button on a template shift and... well, let's just say I'm sitting here with my trusty, rusty HTML quick guide and books trying to figure out how to fix things.


Sorry if the link to your blog disappeared. I'm trying to restore everything. Hopefully this will all be fixed by the end of the weekend.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

170 BPM

I downloaded a podcast from DJ Steveboy that was 170 Beats Per Minute - what a rush!

Outside of Lance Armstrong coming on at the end to congratulate me for running my fastest mile so far, I have to credit the podcast with getting me through the last half of my run today.

The day started off gray and rainy. BLEH! I knew I had an appointment to get my teeth cleaned and figured, since I didn't get to do my stretching yesterday, I'd pop on the yoga DVD today. I spent a half hour doing the pretzel thing and then headed to the dentsist. (Look Ma! No cavaties!)

On the way home, the sun broke through for a little bit befor the clouds began to edge in. I figured I'd try getting my 3 mile run in before it started raining again. The first half went well - I was grooving along to the techno dance mix when I felt my chest tighten up. There was a blanket of humidity just pressing down on me and I realized too late that I left my inhaler at home.


So I started walking to catch my breath. (Of course this lead to a series of random thoughts about how do you catch your breath if running takes your breath away - but I won't go there now because I'm embarassed to admit to a series of bad puns that resulted from that thought.)

Have you ever tried to walk to 170 bpm? It's not easy becuase your feet keep trying to move with the music. As a result I found myself power walking, using my arms to help propel me forward. Even though my breathing was a bit shallow for a mile, it still felt good to be moving. Once my breathing was even and deeper, I did break into a jog with the music. A couple of times my breath would catch and I'd slow it down to a walk again and then pick back up when I could.

In the end, I did a 5k loop in 40 minutes today - a good mile of that walking. That's not bad at all.

I'm excited about trying this again when I'm not so debilitated and I'll be sure to remember my inhaler next time out.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Rock and Roll Girl

After a couple of lean running days, I went out to calibrate the Nike+ and put ina total of 4 miles.

As I said, it was a couple of lean days while I was in Lancaster, PA looking at schools with Gazelle Boy. A mile and a half on the hotel deadmill wasn't quite as torturous as it was in New York a couple of weeks ago, but it was still frustrating. I would have much rather of been out trying to run alongside the Amish buggies, but circumstances didn't quite allow this time through.

So I went to my regrouping spot: Heartbreak Hill.

The first mile was tough. In fact, after running it and checking my calibration (it's till off by .16 miles - which can add up), I was ready to turn around and head back. But I told myself I had to do the four miles total, so I trotted up the hill towards BC. I hit the two mile mark and thought, "Man, I'm done." Between the humidity and everything else, I was pretty sure I was done but I figured I'd give it my best and turned around to start off running.

After the voice on the iPod said "2 kilometers," (I had set it for a 5k distance since I already had the first mile done) I started walking. Inside my head the inner loser started in on me. I wasn't a 'real' runner if I had to walk and those sorts of statements. I thought, "I'm not really a runner..." and then stopped myself.

I was wearing my Tufts 10k shirt and thought, "If I'm not a runner, how did I manage to get through that race?" I began thinking about the times and miles I've logged not only here but also in San Diego, New York and Lancaster. Some of them road miles, some of the treadmills. Obviously I AM a runner because if I wasn't, why would I do those things?

I started to run again just before the iPod voice told me, "Congratulations, you are now at the halfway point." Then the song "Rock and Roll Girls" by John Fogerty came up and those immortal words that described today, "Sometime I think life is just a rodeo, the trick is to ride and make it to the bell."

That, boys and girls, is today's theme.

I ran the rest of the way down the hill, reaching my imanginary finish line shortly after I was congratulated for "reaching my goal" (told you that .16 adds up).

Tomorrow's an XT day for me, so I'll probably do some yoga or the balance ball to stretch out my muscles. Maybe I'll make some time to head over to the high school track and try calibrating things to be just a bit closer to real. If not, I'll just keep adjusting like I always do.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Press the Center Button... start your workout.

At least that's what the voice in my ear told me to do this morning when I went out for my first run with the Nike+ kit. There are a couple of fumble points during the workout - like when I wanted to pause it while I waited for a traffic light and instead it gave me a distance and time.

For the most part it was kind of nice to have a voice telling me "You have gone 1 kilometer."

Unfortunately, what the iPod thought was 1 kilometer is different than what the USTFA map says is 1 kilometer. In fact, it ended my 5k workout at the 2.5 mile mark on my GIS mapping software.

So this means I'm going to have to head down to the track at some point to calibrate the running measurements because the walking is pretty close.

There is a piece of me that wants to keep the Nike measurements - it had me doing a total of 3.55 miles at a 10:53 pace instead of the 3 miles at just shy of 13 minute pace (12:54 today), but I know better.

Once it's all calibrated, I suspect that this will be an incredible tool to help me. I know there are training podcasts that you can download and such, so I'm pretty excited.

Until then, I'll remember that pressing the center button gives me current distance, time and pace while pressing the pause button is the first step to ending the workout. It won't be long before these things are automatic and I'm looking at my progress charts at the Nike site with a smile growing sense of confidence.

Sunday, November 05, 2006


Yesterday was my birthday - so Mr. Bear and the boys pitched in to get me a 2 gig nano with the Nike+ kit.

Woo Hoo!

My best friend gave me an RC Mach 5 (go Speedracer go) - which I promptly used to annoy the cat.

Today was about getting the iPod set up and calibrated. It's accurate enough for me. I went out for a walk - which the kit picked up as 2.25 miles instead of 2.23... I can live with that for now. Sure, I'll probably recalibrate at some point when I'm doing longer distances, but for now I'm OK.

The Nike+ support site has a section where you can set goals for yourself, so I decided I'd like to do at least 40 miles in the month of November. That's 10 miles a week, which I should be able to do. If nothing else it will get me off my butt on those days when I'm looking outside and thinking, "But it's cold out there...."

Because my morning is already pretty solid tomorrow (new editor, new deadline), I'm hoping to get a run in tomorrow around lunch time and see how I do with it then.

So I'm happy. I have a couple of cool new toys to play with. I think the cat likes the Nano better - at least that doesn't chase her around the kitchen and spin out doing donuts on the tiles.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


The title cut of the new Buffett album got stuck in my head this morning: everywhere you go, you always take the weather with you.

It was stuck there for two reasons: the first being that's the CD in my car right now and because I ran 2.35 miles in the pouring rain this morning.

The kids needed a ride to school and I'm figuring, I'm in the car, why not drive to Heartbreak hill and do my miles there this morning? Just as we got ready to leave the house, it began to rain. "But," I think, "I like running in the rain."

Of course the last time I ran in the rain, it was during a heat wave and not in the low 40 degree temps of November. Let's just say that after this morning I realized one more thing to add to my wish list: a goretex rain jacket for running.

The surrealness of the weather lead to an interesting run - one of those ones where you leave your body periodically because you start thinking about something and next thing you know, you look up and think, "Where the hell am I?"

This was particularly unnerving as I revised my running plans from a 5 miler to 2 miles because of the weather and realized I was at the Kosher strip mall - well past the 1 mile marker of Centre Street.

What was unnerving was somehow I ran through a major intersection without noting I was running through a major intersection. My body may have been in Newton, but my mind, apparently, was somewhere over Rio.

Coming down the hill I was a little more aware of the intersection but my mind kept traveling to exotic locales - the old city in Jerusaleum when I saw the Orthodox school kids waiting for the bus, the Plaza del Vecchio when I could smell Italian spices in the air and, of course, Rio just for fun.

Just as I got to the corner of Walnut Street, I decided to punt the last 1/4 mile and head straight for the car. I was starting to get cold and I was soaked so the thought of a heater and shelter seemed good. I listened to the rest of the Buffett CD as I drove home. I probably would have stopped for coffee if I had brought my wallet - instead I came home, showered and ate an English muffin.

Of course, just because the surreal nature of the run was still with me, I began to wonder why was it that I couldn't wait to come home and peel off my wet clothes so I could hop in the shower? Since one surreal moment deserved to linger, I dug up some Mike Nesmith stuff to listen to while I worked today. Not surprisingly, the song "Rio" popped up.

I think I need to pull up a bunch of songs with "Rio" in the title... Nesmith, Duran Duran, that 70's band that did the song "I Go to Rio" - I'm sure there are a ton of them out there.

In the meantime, I probably won't go to Rio - but then again I just might. If I do, I guess I'll take the weather with me... and my running shoes.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

It's November!

Yeah... where did the year go?

Well, new month, new play list. Last night it started when I got Shakira's "Hips Don't Lie" stuck in my head and ended with me listening to "Rio" by Mike Nesmith.

In the end I chose the mellower chick set for November but I'm seriously thinking of a second set that's a bit more upbeat. Of course, there's always the cowbell set on my mp3 player (we need more cowbell!!!) and the funky set if I need upbeat.

On a different note, this morning my body felt transformed. I hadn't realized how much havoc a week of inactivity can wreak on a body. Today I felt taller and stronger - ready to take on the world. I'm considering taking the bike to a trail and going for a ride since I know yoga ain't happening between kids popping in and out and late starts from everyone. I'm already dressed and realizing that the only xt I can really get in is a bike ride unless the pool's open tonight.

At any rate, here's this month's play list "November Run":

Janis Ian: When the Party's Over
Jill Sobule: Too Cool to Fall in Love
Carly Simon: Coming Around Again
Vanessa Carlton: A Thousand Miles
Joan Armatrading: Love and Affection
Carole King: Beautiful
Rickie Lee Jones: Danny's All Star Joint
Joni Mitchell: All I Want
Maura O'Connell: When Your Heart is Weak
Kathy Mattea: Guns of Love
Faith Hill: This Kiss
Madonna: Don't Tell Me
Sheryl Crow: Every Day is a Winding Road
Dixie Chicks: Ready to Run
Shakira: Hips Don't Lie
Nelly Furtardo: Maneater