Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I Got My Number

My number for the Jerry Garcia race arrived which means I need to step things up. Sunday's 4 mile run was tough and I bonked after 3 miles due to the heat and humidity (and stupidly going out around 11 instead of early in the morning). Yesterday's 3 mile run was much better, but there were still points where I was struggling in the humidity. So if I'm going to make it 4.2 miles in a decent time, I better buckle down.

Now that I'm going to yoga again, I feel... well, twistier. The teacher is all about the twist and convincing us that doing head and shoulder stands aren't that hard. (Yeah, right.) The good thing about her classes is I realize that I'm a lot more flexible and I'm physically stronger than I thought. I also like that my knees and ankles feel stronger when I do yoga. I'm also adding some core and strength work to my training - just a little bit a couple of days a week in line with one of Higdon's training plans because, while I haven't decided about the half yet - I want to be ready when I do.

I have a 2 miler on tap for today, so I'm trying to figure out the best route for that before heading out. I don't know how my running will go this weekend, I'm towards the end of "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" as I re-read the cycle before "Deathly Hallows" comes out. I will be in line at midnight for it - fighting the desire to flip straight to the end to see how it all finishes up. Somewhere in there I need to break away for a 5 mile run.

At least if I get through the 5 mile run, I know I'll be good for the Garcia run on Thursday.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Thursday Night at the Post

Last night was the weekly Thursday night race at the Marsh Post in Cambridge. This week was one of the monthly duathlons: run 2.6, ride 2.6, run 2.6 as well as the 2.6 run.

Gazelle Boy was going to try his first duathlon and Mr. Bear, Mr. Pi and the youngest came along as "support crew." They really came along for the cheap cook out - but that works too. ;)

When we were about half way there, I looked at Mr. Bear and said, "Have you seen my iPod?" I had it in my hand when I originally went downstairs to put the bike rack on the van, but I needed my keys to get into the truck of his car to get the rack and when I did that, I left my iPod upstairs next to where I keep my keys. I was concerned about running without music and keeping pace... so it goes. At least I remembered my inhaler.

My goal was a 30 minute 2.6 run - which would be about a 12 minute pace. A few weeks ago when I did one of the 2.6 races, I surprised myself with my time of 29:45 and I wanted to come in around the same time just to show myself it wasn't a fluke. Last night I finished in 30:42 because I ran/walked the last half mile with someone who was struggling a bit after coming back from an injury - which is an 11:48 pace, so I would say that my last run was not only not a fluke but, had I just run the last half mile at the rate I was going, I would have PR'd.

About 3/4's of a mile from the finish line, Gazelle Boy passed me on the bike with "Get out of the way," comment and I responded, "Ride faster." A woman jogging along the Charles with her dog caught up to me and said, "Do you know that person?" I told her it was my son, we do this to each other a lot and it's a family joke. She was relieved to hear it was a joke and not someone being rude.

I crossed and Mr. Pi was at the timing table helping the guys and learning how timing systems worked. After I had some water and cooled off a little, I went to see if I could figure out my pace and found out that Gazelle Boy was estimated to win the whole race. At the 46 minute mark, they started watching for him. He crossed at 47 and change - almost a full minute ahead the second place guy.

It was a good night. Plenty of fun, a big win for Gazelle Boy and good food to cap the evening off. I want to squeeze in one more 3 mile run for the week - hopefully later today and get back into a building pattern. I'll decide in a couple of weeks if I'm going to go for a half marathon or not in the fall - we'll see. I have the Jerry Garcia Memorial 4.2 mile run on the 26th and I'll decide by then.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Four Sure

For some reason, four miles seems to be the new base distance for me. Between the Thursday night race series, the Hingham race the other day and now some of my loops - four miles seems to be the distance to shoot for in my life this summer.

Today's four mile loop was a "keep the river on the right" course - just running along the Charles from one bridge to another for 4.06 miles. I always enjoy a run when I see bunnies. I don't know why but I honestly feel like when I see a bunny that something is watching out for me and reminding me to smile and today I saw two playing together at the beginning of my run.

I also had a butterfly fly along side me for a little bit at the 2 mile mark. It joined up with me near the MDC pool and then fluttered over the bridge when I went straight.

This Thursday is one of the dirt cheap duathalons out of the Marsh Post in Cambridge. If I thought I had 5.2 miles of running in me, I'd give it a try. Instead I'll do the 2.6 run and be done with it, but it is a new goal to set - 2 runs with a bike ride in the middle. As they say: someday I will.

In the meantime, I hope to meet up with some more bunnies and butterflies as I start exploring some new places to run.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Racing Stripes

Today was the Hingham 4th of July race - a 4.6 mile point to point race down Main Street in Hingham, MA.

Ever since I rolled my ankle at the Harpoon 5 miler last month, it's been a bit tender and sore but no big deal for the most part. At the start of the Hingham race, a chiropractor who also does kinesio taping was there. I figured "what the hell" and asked him about the taping and my ankle. I sat on the table and he felt around the outside of my ankle (where the problem is) and had me flip over so he could tape it up.

I should note that kinesio taping is a Japanese thing. The Japanese are not only very aware of the body but of the mind and spirit as well and everything is infused with a level of philosophy. Because of this, color plays an important role in any treatment of anything so while most research will tell you the colors of the kinesio tex tape makes no difference, it was clear this guy had studied that piece of things and chose to use both pink (active) and blue (passive) tape. He made a point of telling me that I was the only person he was taping with two colors... everyone else was either one color or the other.

The tape itself is a cotton/elastic latex-free based tape and, unlike white sports tape, is designed to give full range of motion to the muscles while balancing the flow of lymphatic fluids (according to the literature I looked up after I got home).

Whether or not all that is true is another story - but I do know this much, after 4.6 miles, my ankle feels just spiffy. In fact, it's one of the few times I haven't had that nagging soreness I often feel after a run. So whether it's in my head or has something to do with the racing stripes I don't know, but I do know I'd like to learn how to do this properly for myself.

Of course, in looking all this up I did note one thing, in true American fashion, it was suggested that a) the color makes no difference and b) the tape was a perfect vehicle for advertising and sponsorship.

The race itself is a hometown race. People set up water stops on their front lawns and have hoses going so that runners can run through the mist to cool down if they'd like. There are lots of flags and patriotic bunting. So on that level it truly was a fun and enjoyable race.

The downside was that the beginning was highly disorganized and chaotic. Because it is a hometown race, there are a lot of small children (and by small I mean like kindergarten/lower elementary aged kids) "running" with parents. There are also a bunch of those pre-senior citizen types who walk the race. All of this would be fine if there was a level of basic race etiquette among these folks, but kids would scamper off while mommy peeled off for a conversation and I'd just miss tripping over little darling as they sprinted across the road with no supervision. Some of the walkers and semi-runners would weave back and forth across the road like drunken college students winding their way home from a party, making it hard to pace myself as I couldn't get past them.

In fact, this is one of the only races I've been in where the people with the jogging strollers were polite and acted the way you'd want them to ... staying off to one side, announcing passing intentions, etc.

Don't get me wrong, the downside stuff really was minimal in comparison to the feel of the race and the scenic course. It truly is a joy to run a race where people are sitting out on decorated lawn chairs or setting up home made water stops every few feet or so. It was a race where you feel connected to a community and that is a true joy.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

3 miles

I don't know why I'm always surprised at the difference between running at 7, 8 or 9 am on a Sunday makes, but it does.

Today I got out a hair late (the 9 am side) and started through the neighborhood. For the most part it was quiet, but there were people out walking their dogs, working on their yards and such as I ran past. When I got to the running path, there were all sorts of people on bikes, with scooters or walking with water bottles slug around their necks. And then there were the runners.

The long, lean gazelle like people with easy strides as they went for a long run. There were the folks like me, those little engines chugging along saying to themselves "I think I can, I think I can..." and everything in between.

Which is why I pretty much relished a part of the path that was quiet when I got there. In fact, it was quiet enough that a baby bunny hopped out and sat there on the edge of the path watching me chug along before scampering back into the long grass thinking "you can't see me, I'm invisible," even though he stood out if you knew where to look.

It wasn't a great run by any stretch - there were times when it felt chore-like and dutiful and the by-ways felt too crowded. But it was made into a good run because of a little bunny's boldness in the quiet moment suspended in time before the bikes and the walkers and the scooter and everyone else made it to that point to remind me that this is still a city.