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Friday, August 31, 2007

800 PR, Good Quick Workout

1700 meters wu
800 3:23 (400)
600 2:33 (400)
800 3:05 (400)
600 2:22
1800 wd

total: 4.6875 miles

78°F
Clear
Wind: NE at 5 mph
Humidity: 42%
course: COD track

I wanted to follow-up yesterday's workout with a somewhat hard, but not long, workout today. Accomplished that. With the race coming up Monday, I will not be able to get in a long hard run tomorrow. Instead, I'm planning a relaxed six miler, with a day off Sunday.

Once again, the difference between COD's track and Wheaton College's was evident. Dirt clumps through lane 1, especially in the final 100 meter section.

Tonight was simple: warm-up, plus a few intervals, then an easy warm down. The victory was my second 800, the fastest I have run yet in this era, a 3:05. It is a long way from my 2:07, but still, much faster than my first one a few months ago. Hopefully, from this can be extrapolated a faster 5K. We'll see on Monday.

Now, my legs are tired and ache a little. Hopefully no big deal. I'm doing exercises to mitigate shin splints, stretches for calf and other flexibility issues, and as many sit-ups as I can handle. A few push-ups now and again to get some upper body strength.

Thoughts Before St. Petronille's 5K: Strategy, Pace, and the Saint Herself

Monday's race, a 5K sponsored by St. Petronille's Church, carries some curiosity for me. My treadmill times have improved greatly since my last real outside race, the Viking 5K in Geneva.

In Geneva, July 25, I ran a 23:13. That itself was a vast improvement from my 25:12 from June 2.

Since July 25, I have run a 21:52 on a treadmill at the Wheaton Recreation Center on Blanchard Rd. That's an 81 second improvement.

Or is it?

How a treadmill time compares to race conditions is beyond the scope of my knowledge. If you know, with research to back it up, drop me a line (post a response if you like). One thing is surely true: these are very different situations.

I have no way to base any comparison, but I still need to decide on race strategy. While my general crash and burn plan is still my modus operandi, it is not as if I'll start in an all-out sprint.

Instead, I am going to presume I ran an actual 21:52, and that I have improved since then (August 28). Sure, how much improving can happen in five days? Good question.

On June 2, I ran 25:12. On August 28, I ran 21:52. Difference = 200 seconds over 88 days. That is 2.27 seconds per day. That improvement has held somewhat constant at other time times/races since I started this. Five days of this equals 11.36 seconds, or, a 21:40.

--> Incidentally, barring some good or bad anomaly from this :02.27/day improvement, I'm on track to hit 20:00 around October 15.

A 21:40 equals barely under a 7:00 pace.

Go ahead, question my math. Question my wisdom. I will not, cannot defend that there is anything to this. On Monday, by 8:30, one way or another, we'll both know.

Plan
  1. 600-800 meter warm-up, very slow
  2. stretch
  3. Waddle to the starting line
  4. Start at 6:55-7:05 pace through one mile
  5. Adjust pace so that at two miles, I'm at 13:59.
  6. Hold at 6:59/mile pace until around 600 meters to go.
  7. Spend whatever's left in the tank.
    If I have held my pace perfectly until this point, the best finish I could come up with will be 21:32, based on a 2:28 finishing 600 (the best 600 I ran last night).
The trouble with my plan, I acknowledge, is it might be too fast. So what? Since I don't know any better, it is as good of a plan as anything I have come up with. I might last at my pace until 1.5 miles, then gas out with a 10:00/mile pace thereafter. Big deal.
  • My projected time, in reality: 21:50.
  • My projected potential range: 21:32-22:30.
Margaret tells me to watch for Ellen Reifel. Ellen consistently comes through around 20:30-20:45. She finished the Cosley Run in 19:52, which suggests either she's pick up a step, or that St. Pet's is :45 slower. More importantly, it means she runs consistently close to where I want to be. She could be a pace setter for me in the next race or two. Not likely this one.

Who Was St. Petronille?
In short, she is said to be a martyr, after dying on a hunger strike. She refused to marry a king who was not a Christian.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Petronella

About the Race
First time running it for me.

The course record is decently fast, but not mind-blowing at 16:52. Last year's winner was trotting in at 17:10. This could mean that either it has not attracted faster runners, or the course is challenging. Either way, the record will not change because of my involvement.

Last year's times show I likewise have no shot at an age group award, as third in the 40-44 range took a 19:35. (2005 = 19:44; 2004 = 21:37) My 21:52 would land me in around 35th place overall and fifth in my age group.

All proceeds will be used to support the St. Petronille Youth Ministry. This group of young people perform various acts of service in our communities and around the country. The Harvest Day Food Drive, fund-raising to fight Aids in Africa, mission trips to Appalachia and the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana are some examples of how their acts of goodwill help the needy locally and beyond. This year the kids will travel again to Mississippi and Alabama to help with the lingering effects of Katrina. Feel free to make an additional donation to our Youth Ministry as you complete your registration.
http://www.stpetschurch.org/stpetsfun.htm

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Running Hard at 41 Years Old

3200 warm up
600 6x100 striders
600 (200)

400 (300)
600 (400)

600 (200)

400 (300)
600 (400)

600 (200)

400 (200)

600 warm down

total: 6.75 miles

77°F
Clear
Wind: N at 12 mph
Humidity: 42%
course: Wheaton College track

Tough workout. Might be the longest track workout we have done. My birthday run. Turned 41. I slept poorly last night, and felt its affects. The workout's pace was 'fresh.' That's two steps before all-out, as I understand it. My pace was around 95 seconds for the 400s, and around 2:30 for the 600s. I nicked off a 91 or 92 400, and a 2:28 600 along the way. That's an improvement from my first few weeks running, to be sure.

John Grebe is a bit faster than me, but close enough that I can almost keep up with him. I can, but it takes more work for me to run his pace than he mine. His constant refrain, and rightly so, is to take it easier the first few intervals. This week, and previous weeks, he reminds of what I need to hear.

That's the crux of my present struggle -- how hard should I go? I'm improving rapidly, maybe more rapidly than the others at the moment, but I need to get the most out of each workout. Jim designs these things with more than whim in mind. There is running theory behind all of this, and I am in no position to second guess him. Each distance, each pace, each recovery distance: he has something going on in all of this, and I want to be sure to suck out from them the juice of faster running.

Chariots of Fire: Inspiring Story of Commitment, Faith and Glory

Chariots of Fire (Two-Disc Special Edition)

Many great sports movies are about self-sacrifice for the sake of selfish goals. Rocky Balboa (Rocky Balboa: Movie About a Boxer, Could Have Been a Runner (review)) fought to prove something. Lou Gehrig wanted to persevere. Rudy Ruettiger just wanted to play for Notre Dame. They have obstacles, and by sheer will, overcome them.

Not Eric Liddell. Liddell wanted to glorify God. When he ran, he felt closer to God. When it came to winning, he wanted it to point toward God, not himself.

When questioned about his commitment as a Christian, and to his intention to return as a missionary to China, he replied, "I believe that God made me for a purpose. But He also made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure." "Chariots of Fire" shows him as a man who never compromised, and followed through as an athlete who happened to be a Christian.

The movie contrasts Liddell against the various concerns of others. Some ran for country, others ran for their king. Some ran for the good name of their school. Others ran so that they themselves would receive honor.

Parallel to Liddell's Olympic chase is the story of Harold Abrahams, another English runner who faces quiet prejudice as a Jew from a blue color background. Abrahams worked as hard as Liddell, but his commitment was for himself. This distinction flowed in and out of various scenes.

In a time when devotion to God is not considered fashionable, Liddell refused to change his position. His faith is not made an issue -- it is nice to see a movie that does not rest in snarkish cynicism, but tolerates Liddell's faith without whitewashing it.

Aspects of the movie are fictionalized, but the essence is accurate. The filming is beautiful, and the acting solid. The music is well known, and strong throughout.

The title refers to a line in William Blake's poem, "And Did Those Feet in Ancient Time," which, itself refers to Elijah's chariot as mentioned in 2 Kings 2:11.

I fully recommend "Chariots of Fire."

Anthony Trendl
editor, HungarianBookstore.com

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Two PRs - 3.1 Miles & Mile

.91 miles wu
3.1 miles hard (21:52 - 7:03/mile)
1.01 miles recovery
1.0 miles hard (6:22)
.75 miles ws
course: Wheaton Recreation Center

total: 6.77 miles

Two PRs. That's a good workout

3.1 Miles
Held steady for 3.0 miles at 7:03.5, then picked it up. I could have picked it up sooner. A 21:30 or 21:45 was in me tonight. It felt hard, but comfortable. I never pushed it, or lost control of my form.

Mile 1-3.0 = 7:03.5/mile
Last Mile (2.1-3.1) = 7:01

After an easy recovery, I ran hard for a mile, and finished in 6:22, knocking off three seconds from my time last week.

How I will miss this days when the getting in shape part is over and my times plateaus!

I have 1:52 to slice from my time, plus I need to convert the treadmill factor to real ground, under race conditions. To get it done by September 30 looks like a possibility only with a huge jump. I just had two big jumps, but I need more to pull it off. Logically, it might not happen until late October, but this is not the kind of progress that happens exactly per plan. All I can do is train smart and run hard. The rest (all of it, really) is up to God.

Monday, August 27, 2007

800 and 400 PRs at COD's track

1700 wu
800 - 3:07
1000 recovery
400 - 1:24
1700 warm down

total: 3.5 miles

78°F
Clear
Wind: SE at 10 mph
Humidity: 58
course: COD track

I didn't have a lot of time, hence the short workout. Nothing much, just a hard 800 and 400. The victory in each is that both were faster than my best in either prior. I need the speed at the shorter distances if I expect the speed at the 5K level.

With the 800, my first 400 was at 1:35, then the next at 1:32. I think, with others, I can go faster, but it was a tough run. My first 200 was in :49, so I had to pick it up. I'm not sure how steady my pace was after that, but the math suggests I held to :46 per 200 thereafter, or what could have been a 3:04 of I started stronger. With more experienced runners, ones who sense pace better, dropping five seconds is plausible.

It would be nice to break :75 and 3:00 by the end of the summer. 3:00 seems more likely.

PRs are still coming somewhat easily. That's a good sign that my progress is still moving forward. As I see it, a PR at any distance will reverb into the 5K area eventually. I need speed, endurance, confidence, aggressiveness -- just about everything needs improvement. I have not, even in the shortest of runs, found the next gear.

How much can I read into a slightly faster 800 - how does it translate into a 5K? I have no idea. If my very rough figuring (based on only relative comparisons of my 22:21 and 3:13) has any merit, I think I could run somewhere between a 21:18 and 21:39 today. That leaves 1:39 still to drop, presuming I actually got the job done. If I have hidden in me a 3:00 800, maybe, then, I could run a 20:50. All wild speculation.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Salute to a Fellow Running Nut

Here’s a salute to my friend Dave Clark (no relation, so far as I know, to the Dave Clark Five). During the daylight hours, he is a mild-mannered lawyer, but, in his off hours, he is a running nut, stuck, as it seems, in a runner’s dilemma. His need: run a marathon in every state.

48 down, two to go. Only Hawaii and South Carolina to go, after checking off Alaska on his list. He finishes in February, and then, is certified by this elite collection of people: 50 States Marathon Club

No, I don't why.

Is that all? No! He also bought a Dick Pond running shoe store. Chicago-area runners know what a treat it is to shop there. They have everything (even pole vault shoes) a runner needs, plus serious runners as the shop-keeps. No different here.

So, valiant shoppers, head on over to the Dick Pond store in Carpentersville, IL.

Dick Pond Carpentersville
2164 Randall Road
Carpentersville, IL 60010

tel 847-783-0701

Store hours:
Monday through Friday 10am - 8pm
Saturday 10am - 5pm
Sunday 12am - 4pm

Saturday, August 25, 2007

August 19 - August 25 in Review

Sunday, August 19, 2007 -- 2.90 miles Greene Valley LSD
Monday, August 20, 2007 -- rest
Tuesday, August 21, 2007 -- 2.50 miles COD track
Wednesday, August 22, 2007 -- rest
Thursday, August 23, 2007 -- 2.00 miles Spivey track workout
Friday, August 24, 2007 -- 4.79 miles Wheaton Rec Center treadmill
Saturday, August 25, 2007 -- 6.50 miles Springbrook - LSD

Total: 18.69 miles

Summary: Low mileage week. A nasty storm Thursday, bugs on Tuesday - it wasn't pretty. Still ran five of seven days. I think of that as better than the same mileage clumped into three days.

Looking FWD: My mind-range days, the 5-6 mile runs, need to be harder, with some fartlek thrown in to keep the muscles happy.

This week: 25-30 miles, with one longer run (8 miles?). A race on Monday is possible. That needs some thinking about. St. Petronille's Church in Glen Ellyn sponsors one.

Springbrook 5.5 Mile PR - 46:31

5.5 miles (46:31 - 8:27/mile)
1.0 miles warm down

total: 6.5 miles

79°F
Clear
Wind: NW at 8 mph
Humidity: 50%
course: Springbrook Prairie

Good, brisk run. Glad to see my LSD times coming down. I learned my trouble mile is the third, with a rolling double uphill. It isn't seriously high, but, rather, is longer and I do not realize I'm slowing down. It still happened, but not as much as usual.

The last mile is downhill. I never pressed it, since, all said, this is still an LSD run. Although I'm aware of the clock, I don't want to lose focus on form or breathing.

The better weather no doubt helped tonight. I'm expecting good things to happen as the temperature and humidity drop in unison.

Mile 1 - 8:32
Mile 2 - 17:02
Mile 3 - 25:58
Mile 4 - ?
Mile 4.5 - 38:39
Mile 5.5 - 46:31

Friday, August 24, 2007

4.79 Happy Miles

3 miles wu
1 mile hard (6:25)
.79 miles wd

total: 4.79 miles

course: Wheaton Recreation Center

Good workout, albeit short. Started with 50 sit-ups at home. The 3 miles was a gradual speed increase from 8:57/mile to 7:30/mile, then, simultaneously, an increase from 0 incline to 1.0 incline. I don't know what the number means, but higher is harder.

Paused the machine (treadmill), took a 2-3 minute break, then ran a 6:25 mile, gradually increasing the speed from 6:48/mile to 6:00/mile. No incline.

The mile was interesting - first time I felt the ache of a hard run. This is different than breathlessness or muscle ache, per se, but it made me want to stop. I felt it especially near the last 600-700 meters, increasing in intensity. To run a 20:00 5K, I will need to learn to tolerate more pain.

My warm down was especially slow, but it got the job done.

Then, a few lifts on a device to strengthen whatever are the muscles causing shin splints (my current trouble), and another 3x20 sit-ups using a sit-up machine. Tom Reichert, a trainer at the Wheaton Recreation Center was quite helpful.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

2 Miles, Then Off to Gilligan's Island

2 miles wu

total: 2 miles

That's it. My Thursday night weekly butt kicking turned out to be wash. With only Rudi, Steve, and Paul showing up initially, the warm up was a bit faster than my usual, as noted below. Usually, I warm up closer to 8:30-8:45. No regrets though, since this was all the workout I was going to get.

Remember the beginning of "Gilligan's Island." in the opening titles, "Their tiny ship was tossed..." You'll see Gilligan holding tight to the Minnow while the storm thrashes it toward that uncharted isle where they (you know, "Gilligan. The Skipper too. The millionaire and his wife. The movie star. The professor and Mary Ann") would spend most of the rest of their TV life.

That's how it was.
  • Mile 1 - 8:00
  • Mile 2 - 7:34
Margaret joined just as we finished the warm up, and we all huddled into a corner underneath the Wheaton College track bleachers. It served us well enough for keeping us dry, but did nothing to protect us from the harsh fury of the thunder and lightening. John Duffy showed up, briefly, and apparently thought better of this foolishness and went home.

All were safe. We gave up hopes of running, and ran to the cars.

My car was in the least strategic position in several inches of water. My running shoes are soaked and may be through eternity. This is my cue to invest in a new pair. I'm due.

Jim never made it. Rumor has that he was scrambling to find a chain saw to assist in the removal of a tree in his driveway. No confirmation on that. It could be he just had better wisdom than the five of us.

Runner's Dilemma, Part I

I confess. It took me by surprise, but I discovered, by chance, LilianQ, a reader of this blog. Apparently, she's a runner in Singapore going through some variation of my efforts. She's worse. She's got the marathon bug. (Secretly, so do I, but that's a few steps farther than my present circumstance.)

She noticed the thought I have on the left side of each page:
A runner's dilemma? He must run, no matter what shape or situation he is in. The dilemma is finding a resolution despite being older, fatter, slower than when running was graceful.
There once were those days. Running was graceful. Now, it is not. Then, I ran because of sheer joy. Endorphins flooded my system like a welcome drug amidst my teenage angst-filled years. Ten miles? 15 miles? All felt peaceful.

There is that impulse to run. The sun is rising here in Chicago, the crickets are making their final chirps, and the paperboy hasn't yet arrived. I want to run. Tonight is my weekly butt kicking on the Wheaton College track, but I want to run now.

When I run, part of me is alive that is dormant the rest of the day. Although mostly silent, except for the grunts delivered to passing runners, I am inside myself shouting. Every step is glorious, a return to the childhood games of my youth -- as if I am again six years-old, running, laughing with Brian and Duane in my backyard on Meade Avenue -- when running was graceful, bliss made manifest.

Endorphins are still around, but I miss those longer of the long runs. There is something that happens with the longer runs that no endorphin can mimic. It is a serenity, found at any pace, having strode long enough to purge whatever ailed me emotionally before the run.

I sang when I ran. My voice was strong, bold. It was not held back by breathlessness. What beauty its sound lacks I made up for with vigor. Hymns. Old rock tunes. Silly songs from childhood. If I couldn't remember the line, I made it up.

Now, I remember fewer lines and grasp for air like a drowning man. Instead, words whisper out of me during a run that would make an emphysema patient smile smugly.

My feet clenched the rolling hills of the Palos Forest Preserves like a mountain goat. Zinging from foothold to foothold, setting only long enough to ricochet to the next bounding point.

Today, my ankles worry about turns on the flattest track, my back suggests rest is a better posture, and my knees wince with the slightest provocation.

The dilemma, now, over 100 days after beginning this endeavor, remains. I'm thinning and faster, and every so often, discover midstride a sense of rhythm and grace. It has yet to all come together. There has been no perfect run - I have on my memory dozens from 20 years ago, but none this year.

Perfection: when bliss and stride, speed and float, form and rhythm, distance and breath all join to enter me, surround me, push me and lead me.

Will all things converge? This is not something I can control. All I can do is set in place the possibility. Run hard, run long, run often. Then, maybe. Without the run, it will not, cannot happen.

I must run.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Insects for Dessert

1 mile wu
800 3:14 (400)
800 3:20 (400)

total: 2.5 miles

82°F
Mostly Cloudy
Wind: S at 10 mph
Humidity: 74%
course: COD track

What was intended to be a pipie little run turned into an insect food fest. Some dined on me, and I dined on others.

I couldn't see my watch. It was late and cloudy. Humid, I was sticky right after my warmup. My clip for the 800s was OK, but, unable to see how I was doing, I could not adjust my pace either way.

Monday, August 20, 2007

What Goes Down Should (but doesn't) Stay Down

Monday Check-in

137.0 lbs. (up)
50 - Pulse (down)

Status

Feeling OK. Legs are a little achy. Not sure if this is because of Saturday's 8-miler. Shoulders achy too. Hopefully that's not leftover from the five measly push-ups I did last week. Getting over a minor cold, or maintaining some kind of balance with the coming hay fever season.

Pulse is down after a week or two above 50. My pulse has always been very low. Better aerobic fitness will send it lower, and various stresses will send it back up. I did not sleep well last night, and it could be my cardio-vascular fitness is better than the number suggests.

My weight is up. Was last night's midnight snack the culprit, or was my last week generally filled with extra calories? I ran 29.1 miles, worth just under a pound if converted into calories spent. If true, that means I, in a sense, gained 4.18 lbs in a week? I blame the scale.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

August 12 - August 18 in Review

Sunday, August 12, 2007 -- rest
Monday, August 13, 2007 -- 6.60 miles Wheaton Recreation Center treadmill
Tuesday, August 14, 2007 -- 4.80 miles Illinois Prairie Path
Wednesday, August 15, 2007 -- rest
Thursday, August 16, 2007 -- 6.28 miles Spivey track workout
Friday, August 17, 2007 -- 2.90 miles Greene Valley LSD
Saturday, August 18, 2007 -- 8.50 Illinois Prairie Path LSD

Total: 29.1 miles

Summary: Good week, but not too tough. 5K PR on treadmill on Monday, solid workout on the track on Thursday.

Looking FWD: LSD is paying off. The joy of the long gallop is returning, the excitement of a hard run is evolving. It isn't quite at the exhilaration I once felt so many years ago, but that will come around.

This week: 27-35 miles, with one longer run (10 miles?), and one tougher workout in addition to the Spivey track workout.

8 Miles - 1:09:32

8 miles 1:09:32 (8:41/mile)
.5 mile wd

total: 8.5 miles

63°F
Clear
Wind: E at 5 mph
Humidity: 72%
course: Illinois Prairie Path, south

finish
64°F
Mostly Cloudy
Wind: E at 7 mph
Humidity: 63%

Nice run. The weather was good, albeit a tad humid, but cool. My first mile was 8:06, probably too fast, but it felt easy. My second dropped to 8:19, then #3 was 8:23. I finished four miles in 34:12. My pace for the second half was 8:49, though I missed the mile markers. I think the last two miles I clipped through at around 8:20. If true, miles 5-6 were chugging through at 9:00 or slower.

The southern route, at least as far as I went (to the four mile marker), has only Roosevelt and side streets to cross. Lots of marathon runners out for their long runs, including Jennifer from Plainfield, finishing up her 20-miler, and Bill from Lisle. Met them at the zero marker.

I have a lot to learn about pace. While I can't complain about the resulting time, mile-by-mile should have not have varied as much as it did. I dropped 2:35 from my previous 8-miler, but I have no doubt, could have dropped more if I had started with an 8:30 instead of 8:06.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Quick 2.9-mile Jaunt

2.9 miles LSD

total: 2.9 miles

75°F
Clear
Wind: W at 7 mph
Humidity: 44%
course: Greene Valley

New location to run caused me a little trouble. The course is poorly marked and I took a wrong turn at Albuquerque. It was getting dark, so I settled with one lap instead of two.

I stopped to ask another runner for directions, who seemed very sure of himself, but who was quite clueless when it came to giving me a clear response.

Greene Valley itself is a nice course. Reminds me of Blackwell with its gentle rolling hills in and out of woods and prairie. It is also reminded me of my old running grounds at Elizabeth Conkey Woods in Crestwood, IL (135th and Central Avenue). The distance is 2.9 miles for one main loop, so it could be a good option for 8.7 or 11.6 mile runs.

Mosquitos are its downside. Lots of them. While I am looking to lose weight, giving blood was not the intended method. The West Nile issue is also no small concern, and there is not a good reason to multiply the odds for getting it.

Jeff Couch runs Greene Valley often, and so maybe, as I get in shape enough and able to keep up with him, we'll hit the course for a few laps.

Chariots of Fire Movie Soundtrack: Moving, From Start to Finish

Chariots Of Fire
Moving, From Start to Finish


There is no wondering why Vangelis received an Oscar for his soundtrack to "Chariots Of Fire." It is infinitely superb, perfect for the movie, and perfect away from the movie. When I was road racing, I would listen to cut seven, also called "Chariots Of Fire," to prepare my mind for competition.

In the opening cut, "Titles," you can hear the tension of the sprint. Muscles flex with each note, and you'll feel the drive to finish first, to win. This is the song you heard in the early 80s, and, if you are lucky, still hear on soft jazz and easy listening stations.

"Five Circles" is misty-dewed mystical piece. Slowly paced synthesized winds will draw you into contemplation. Aptly named for the Olympic symbol, it has a power of lifelong dreams mixed with the imminence of the moment.

"Abraham's Theme" is a boldly sentimental, but not maudlin piece. The bells chime almost mournfully, with whale sounds piercing and overlaying through this achingly beautiful composition.

"Eric's Theme" is often played on the radio, but it never loses its message of grace. It preludes "Chariots of Fire"'s sheer intensity with its own persuasive pulse, with bass drums and cymbals beating, but not overwhelming.

"100 Meters" begins in a spacelike mysterium. It is filled with questions, and asks them as well as invites the listener to ask them. "For whom do I run?" the movie's theme, is musically weaved throughout.

Smoothly transitioning is the choral orchestration of "Jerusalem," answering the questions of "100 Meters." The sole work with words, it begins:

"And did those feet in ancient time/ Walk upon England's mountains green?/ And was the holy Lamb of God/ On England's pleasant pastures seen?"

This mighty songs brings a mighty decision:

"Bring me my spear: O clouds unfold!/ Bring me my chariot of fire!"

Finally is the majestic "Chariots of Fire," a 20:41 epic of undulated, unmatched passion for truth and God. A carefully fingered piano melody peacefully prepares the listener for the growing strength of this magnificent piece. Like Ravel's "Bolero," Vangelis increases the tempo, empowers the theme to be greater than the score. The piano notes dance, bringing in elements from the other cuts, until we go from a walk to a run.

For the runners who've been there, it is much akin to an early morning autumn long run, when you feel great, and in that groove. The pace drops mildly as you relax and enjoy the freshness of the run, but the final few miles are ahead. Like the speed-playing fartlek, it never monotonous.

Quickening, we can feel the runner sweat, excited about the last 50 meters. In a glorious finish, we are given an enthusiastic, marvelous crossing of the last step in a rested, satisfied way.

I fully recommend "Chariots Of Fire" by Vangelis.

Anthony Trendl
-------------

Amazon.com essential recording
Most everyone is familiar with the romantic piano-and-synthesizer washes of the surprise instrumental hit "Titles (Main Theme)" from this 1981 film soundtrack. What is surprising is there's a lot more going on with this score. Greek keyboardist/composer had been recording albums for years before this soundtrack catapulted him into fame. He'd even been asked to join the prog rock band Yes at one point. He was wise to pass on the offer. Here you can hear the breadth of his talent at creating dreamy moods with synthesizers and classically inspired backdrops. Some of this music, however, doesn't quite hold its own without the visuals. Anyone looking for a stronger, more rock-like record by Vangelis should pick up Albedo 0.39. --Larry Crane

Amazon.com
One of the most memorable soundtracks of all time, Vangelis's Academy Award-winning Chariots of Fire is such a landmark, it's become the stuff of parody whenever someone wants to punch a hole through sloppy sentimentality. But just go back to this 1981 film to relive a perfect marriage of image and music. Vangelis captures the heroism, grandeur, and pain of this racing drama, from the opulent main "Titles" theme with its echoing snare drum and piano cadences to the electronically abstract setting of Sir Charles H.H. Parry's choral work, "Jerusalem." Vangelis's score hangs suspended between orchestral lushness and electronic mood, sweetness tempered by the underlying psychological themes of the film. Often forgotten on this album is the extemporaneous title suite that, in the days of LPs, took up the second side of the album. Here, Vangelis explores some of the film's music cues at length, weaving them into a minor keyboard symphony. --John Diliberto

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Tough Workout - Felt Great

2 mile wu
4x200(100)[400]
4x250(150)[400]
4x250(150)[400]
3x250(150)
600 wd

Total: 6.28125 miles

74°F
Clear
Wind: E at 6 mph
Humidity: 68%
course: Wheaton College track

Felt good all around. John Grebe wasn't there, so I missed my training buddy. This left stranded when Brad, Gary and Margaret's group pulled out of my reach. Hit 200s around 40-45, and some 250s in 51. I held back, not sure what is a good pace for me still. I don't want to burn out.

Weather was better. I'm at a sleep deficit after being up most of last night for no good reason, so that must have slowed me down.

Cooler, kinder weather made the evening workout nicer. I'm looking forward to September-early October.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Dreaming the Possible Dream - Beyond 20:00

Click for detailed view"The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win."
--Roger Bannister

As my goal is to run under 20:00 for 3.1 miles, weight will be an important factor. I'm making good progress toward my goal, but I think if I drop that bulge around my gut, I should achieve it and then some.

Achieving a goal like hitting an arbitrary time should not be a stopping point. It isn't an absolute goal, like "I want to become president of the United States," or "I want to visit Australia." Those kinds of goals are over once achieved. Running and time are different. I don't believe when Sir Roger Bannister broke the impossible 4:00 mile barrier he concluded, "Got that done, check, I'm through." Nope. He went on to race (and crush) John Landy in "The Miracle Mile."

Weight Loss & Speed
Stepped up on the scale this morning. 130.0. Is it a real weight, or some funky scale issue? No way to know unless I stick there for a while before going lower. Either way, one way or another, I need to, and will lose that weight.

So I lose 10 lbs. Maybe 15. Runner's World Magazine recently explained a formula that suggested if I lose 10 lbs, I'd run 62 seconds faster in a 5K. That would take my 22:21 to 21:19. Get me 15 lbs lighter, and I'm 93 seconds faster, or, at 20:48.

Since training, not dieting, is my method of weight loss, and, unlike the article's research subjects of experienced runners, I'm not fully fit, I'm not sure if, or how this applies. To get to 120-125 lbs, I will have to run at least 350 more miles (10 lbs @ 35 miles/lb) or 525 miles (15 lbs @ 35 miles/lb), and likely much more. I'll wager that I need 1,000 more miles, in fact, to get in that neighborhood. That will take nine months, to around May 15, 2008.

I don't know what I think about that. I could stand to lose the weight, there's no doubt about it. You see me, and you might say I'm hardly out of shape. That depends on your definition of fitness. An unnecessary, removable gut is not evidence of fitness. But with 10 lbs gone, for me, it will not be the same as a 200 lb guy losing that weight. If I'm at 135, 10 lbs off will mean a 7.4% weight drop. The 200 lb guy loses just 5%. Which kind of person did Runners World look at? I don't remember. Most runners are a lighter lot, so I'll guess I'm closer to their norm than the 200-pounder, but I don't know.

I do know, and expect, to run faster with real weight loss.

Dreaming of Speed
I am beginning to wonder what is a good goal after I hit 19:59.9. I looked up some of my old training partners from high school and see some are still running some very decent times. I never ran in college like most of them did, so I missed lots of training and good experience.

Can I catch up?

Am I too far out of it to run fast again? Might be. While I concede I might not see certain times had I been running all these years, I might still have something in the tank? I'm wondering, after seeing that my old pals, my age, are still running well, could I run under 18:00? That might take time, and I'm not ready to say it is possible, but I'm wondering.

What 18:00 Looks Like
Breaking down an 18:00 5K, I'll need to race at a 5:48 pace. That's a minute faster than my fastest mile at the moment. That's also faster, sad to say, than what I generally run a 400 meter interval in.

The 5:48 is a pace time. Races are not run at perfectly balanced paces. I need to find, within the race context, a 5:30. That's a big 18 seconds. I think I need some speed, too, like the capacity to run a 2:30 800, and 75 400.

I need to be able to kick out the poor chap next to me who thinks he will beat me. That will take some strong 50 and 100 meter speed, or, for the more aggressive runner, 200 meters. My current 200s at :45 won't do the deed. I need to get to something around, or better than, :35 to get that job done.

These are real times. These aren't just "Tony got himself into shape and is running a few road races each summer," times. These mean not just weight loss, a few long runs, a little speedwork on Thursdays, and I'm there. This means sitting down with Jim, and go from his once-a-week track workout to a full week program. That's a minor cash investment, but a big time investment.

And pain. Aches. Advil.

And... the beginning of thinking about a marathon. The marathon. First, Chicago, then Boston. Because.

First things first. A 20:00 5K. Weight loss. Consistent, injury-free training.

Success is never accidental.


Read Roger Bannister's story about his running life.
The Four-Minute Mile, Fiftieth-Anniversary Edition

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

4.8 miles - 41:38 - running and walking

4.8 miles - 41:38

total: 4.8 miles

84°F
Mostly Cloudy
Wind: W at 7 mph
Humidity: 67%
course: Illinois Prairie Path

Rich, Lee and Brad. Our pace lingered around 8:41/mile, though was broken up by a few stoplight breaks. Although I think I sweat off a few pounds of water in a surprisingly difficult run, it was a nice follow-up to last night's hard treadmill run.

It was a hot, humid run. Burned over 500 calories, offset by the Gatorade afterwards (150 calories), seven pot stickers and three hot dogs for dinner. How many calories? I'm no calorie counter, not like donut eater (or was it the forbidden fruit?) David Dane.

Incidentally, Lee (an experienced Ironman) tells me for a treadmill run to be similar to an outside run, it must be set to a 1.5% incline.

Coffee and the Morning News

Mornin'

22:21. That's a nice number for today.

I'm sipping a fine tasting cup of coffee this morning. The label says "coffee" but the flavor is "PR."

Yesterday, at the Wheaton Rec Center, I hopped on the treadmill, ran a 10:00 mile warm up, then cranked it up to 6:58 pace. Lasted just a mile, but held on to finish in 22:21. Previous best was a roadrace 5K in 23:13.

Mathematically, it fits snugly into where I need to be if September 30 is my 'deadline'. Sept 30 is just a date, and I'm thinking to run 20:00 by then, I should be farther along, ahead of the trend. Dropping time will be tougher as I get closer, so averaging time:days might not work as easily as it does on paper.

How to compare treadmill conditions to road conditions is beyond me.
  • Known strengths of a treadmill include constant pace, the treadmill moves for me, no hills, no rain or wind, always have a drink ready to go, always know my time and distance.
  • Known weaknesses: no race adrenaline, no psychological chasing anyone (letting the guy in front pull me, so to speak), no finish line, not able to throw water over my head.
The times below are broken into decimals (28.5 = 28:30, and so on). My time yesterday falls between the August 11 22:30 and the August 16 22:15 I need to run in order to stay on the path to victory.

Actual
15-Mar 31.33333
22-Mar 30.1667
27-Mar 28.5
6-May 27.9
11-May 27.0833
21-May 26.55
30-May 25.3667
2-Jun 25.2
25-Jul 23.2167

Trend Required
31-Jul 23.00
5-Aug 22.75
11-Aug 22.5
13-Aug 22.35
16-Aug 22.25
21-Aug 22.00
26-Aug 21.75
1-Sep 21.5
7-Sep 21.25
14-Sep 21.00
18-Sep 20.75
21-Sep 20.5
25-Sep 20.25
30-Sep 19.9999

My calves and thighs ache, but I'll live. I'm hoping to run 4.8 miles with Rich and Lee and company this evening at a relatively easier pace (though these have been harder runs)

All I need to do is drop :45.48 a mile over 3.1 miles. That's all. This will mean three miles faster each than I have run one mile in a long, long time. I need to go from being intimidated by this to visualizing its reality.

I'm not sure how much of all right now is physical, and how much is mental. Long runs are still very demanding, as I am having trouble sustaining a sub-9:00 pace for anything over 5 miles. Physical issues remain - weight, aerobic fitness, pure speed. Mental issues might include relaxing (part physical), being confident in my pace, patience, and believing that I can sustain a pace longer than I presently do.

Monday, August 13, 2007

5K PR - 22:21 - Wheaton Recreation Center treadmill

1.0 mile wu (10:00)
3.1 miles hard (22:21 - 7:12/mile)
2.5 miles wd

total: 6.6 miles

First mile: 6:58. I was shooting to run 22:00 and overshot my start, and slowed, then sped, finishing in 7:19 pace for the next 2.1 miles. Overall a success, but a more modest start, say, a 7:05-7:10 and I could have not fizzed out.

Bouncing, Bouncing, Going Nowhere Fast

Monday Check-in

134.6 lbs. (down)
52 - Pulse (same)

Status

Miles dropped, so I'm feeling fine. My weight dropped a smidgen, but not enough to claim weight loss. Maybe in six months, enough smidgens will add up to a real smudge. Can I say that?

Tough week looking ahead, bouncing back from not feeling well last week.

100 Days of Running - 100 Days of Progress

Click to see full-size (easier to read)
On Friday, August 10, 2007, I completed 100 days of serious running, beginning May 3, the day of my first JSRC workout. Prior to May 3, I jogged here and there, and had about a month of doing nothing in April.

The chart above (click chart to see full size) represents my rolling weekly miles. That is, on any given day, it shows my previous week's miles. Usually, in my weekly summary, I look at Sunday to Saturday as far as mileage goes, but that can be skewed by one long day, or two or three days off in a row. This shows the bigger picture.

I'm not sure why there is disparity between my recorded workouts here, and in the spreadsheet I am drawing from. Here, I list 56 workouts, and in the spreadsheet, I list 61. I'm guessing, here, in the beginning, I combined a few.

My first workout was unimpressive, but, depending on your vantage point, they still might be.

Weight & Pulse
For my first recorded Monday check-in (see all), my weight was 138 lbs, and my resting pulse was 64. Now, my weight hovers around 135, and my pulse hovers around 50-52.

5K Time
My 5K time has dropped considerably. Just after I started with the Jim Spivey Running Club, I ran a time trial on COD's track: 27:54. It is an adjusted time, from a 27:00 3-mile run. On July 25, 2007, I ran a 5K roadrace in 23:13. That's an improvement of 4:41, about 1:30/mile.

Mileage
My mileage itself has steadily increased. I finished my first week with 14.6 miles, and now, usually average around 22 miles a week, with one week as high as 37.38 miles. My goal is not to pile on the miles, but I do need a certain level of constant aerobic intensity to build capillaries, muscle strength, psychological strength, and a sense of pace, as well as things like working on form, running relaxed, and enjoying the ride.

Greatest Success?
Which is the greatest point of progress? The 5K time looks like the biggest quantitative gain, but the real progress is in the 100 days itself. That would be a big victory even if I ran 45:00 for the 5K. Do the right things, and health will follow. While I am focused and hungry for that elusive 20:00 5K, I can't control how my body will respond to the workouts as speed goes. I can do all the right things, but still not run as fast as I would like. In a sense, that's not fair, but I didn't build this body. God did. He never claimed to play fair.

As our coach Jim once posted after breaking 3:50 for the mile, about recognizing he was given for no clear reason known to him, the ability to go faster than the rest of us:
I went for a warm-down, and just so you know that all milers are not the stoic, no pain type, I remember warming down, and stopping, dropping to one knee, after 1 a.m. in the morning, and crying. I can remember thinking, why did I deserve to run so fast? OK, it sounds a bit silly, but I did wonder this. Everyone trains. Everyone trains hard.
source: Track and Field News
I can control, to much larger degree, consistent effort, and, with 100 days behind me, I have achieved some of that. Consistent, healthy effort is all I can do. I've got good resources (nice track, running paths), plenty of time, and a coach who knows his stuff. The rest is follow-through.

The Next 100 Days
It has been a good three months. The next 100 days will be different, and it is hard to predict how. I still have more getting into shape to do, more weight to lose, more racing to run. I am not at maintenance mode yet, but it will not get easier. November 18 will be my 200th day, and some cold days may happen between now and then. Hard to believe as I sit here with the AC cranked, dreading another hot August day, but that's northern Illinois.

By November 18, I hope to have run that 20:00 5K, have lost 10 lbs, feel confident in my workouts, and remain injury-free. I expect some aches and pains, but won't jeopardize my health to get the time I want. I'm pretty sure I can run that fast still, but I'm not sure how long it will take me to get there.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

August 5 - August 11 in Review

Sunday, August 5, 2007 -- rest
Monday, August 6, 2007 -- rest
Tuesday, August 7, 2007 -- 7.75 miles Wheaton Recreation Center treadmill
Wednesday, August 8, 2007 -- rest
Thursday, August 9, 2007 -- rest
Friday, August 10, 2007 -- rest
Saturday, August 11, 2007 -- 5.75 Springbrook - LSD

Total: 13.5 miles

Summary: The week's mileage decreased bigtime. Planned rest days, followed by unexpectedly feeling ill resulted in an unusual drop in miles following a strong previous week.

Looking FWD: Need to regroup. With the week being a rest week, I need to move toward more intensity.

This week: 25-30 miles, with one longer run, and one tougher workout in addition to the Spivey track workout and Saturday tempo run at Blackwell.

Average - 5.5 miles in 51:20

5.5 LSD - 51:20 (9:20)
.25 wd

total: 5.75 miles

80°F
Clear
Wind: N at 0 mph
Humidity: 64%
course: Springbrook Prairie

Once again, I began dreaming of 11 miles, and once again, I wimped out. In the great spreadsheet of all my runs, this one was average.

I felt OK, but finish with two stitches, one below each rib cage in the back. Met Colin, a guy finishing 14 miles. He came behind me near the end - with a half mile to go, but I would not have it. No, not me! I gave him the ol' fartlek dash, and left him in my dust.

Talked to him afterward. He's training for Chicago, hopes to break 4:00. I think he's there if his training holds up.

That is a good goal - to not let anyone pass me the last half mile.

First mile, 9:05
At four miles, 37:33
Last half mile at 7:50 pace, gradually picking up.

My lackluster effort this morning could be due to be sick Thursday, and just not feeling well yesterday. Two days off, as well as having run only once within the last week, may have played a part.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

7.11 in 60 Minutes

Roughly 7.11 miles - 60:00 (8:26)
.64 wd

total: 7.75 miles

course: Wheaton Recreation Center treadmill

Mile 1 - 6.9 mph
Mile 2 - 7.0 mph
Mile 3 - 7.1 mph
Mile 4 - 7.2 mph
Mile 5 - 7.3 mph
Mile 6 - 7.4 mph and up

Might have been more. The machine limited me to 60 minutes before going into warmdown-cooldown status. I played with the speed button for the last 8:00 or so, going as fast as 11 mph (5:24 mile). It was fun moving my legs fast again.

Thanks to running the Cosley Run for the Animals, I have a seven-session pass to the Wheaton Recreation Center.

Instead of:
87°F
Clear
Wind: W at 9 mph
Humidity: 69%

I ran inside, with Fierce Grape Gatorade in my water bottle right next to my, while my chums from the Spivey Running Club endured terrible heat and humidity.

While I would like to take from this a pretty fast time for me, it is a treadmill, not real conditions. However, it shows me, in reverse, why I had a hard time making the transition from the COD treadmill to my weekly butt kicking on the Wheaton College track with the Jim Spivey Running Club. What I can take from it is is that I was able to get my legs moving on a very miserable, hot day without hurting myself.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Survival - Feeling Fine After Hard Week

Monday Check-in

135.6 lbs. (down)
52 - Pulse (up)

Status

Given all the miles I did, I am feeling fine. I am tired. No doubt about that, but nothing is crying out in anguish.

My knees noticed the week, but, forced with an unexpected day off thanks to the awful heat, humidity and pouring rain, I'm not too worried.

Yesterday my pulse = 47. A new low, but Monday morning did not compute.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

July 29 - August 4 in Review

Sunday, July 29, 2007 -- 6.0 miles Springbrook - LSD
Monday, July 30, 2007 -- 5.75 miles Springbrook - LSD
Tuesday, July 31, 2007 -- 5.75 miles Springbrook - LSD
Wednesday, August 1, 2007 -- rest
Thursday, August 2, 2007 -- 5.63 miles Spivey track workout
Friday, August 3, 2007 -- 8.25 miles Illinois Prairie Path
Saturday, August 4, 2007 -- 6.0 miles Blackwell tempo

Total: 37.38 miles

Summary: The week's mileage increased bigtime. A combination of a rare Sunday run, a long run, and just one day off adds up.

Looking FWD: Need to continue pressing the miles, but no more than 40 for now. It is still a lot for me, and my knees need to be coddled. All feels good, but I have no desire to hurt myself.

This week: Ideally, I will get in around 27-30 miles. Rest on Sunday, something a little more intense on Monday, something longer on Tuesday, rest on Wednesday, the Spivey track workout Thursday. I have not thought through the schedule yet.

Up the Mountain, Finishing 37-mile Week

"I have been to the mountaintop!"
- Martin Luther King Jr.

Warm-up
12:00 out
12:18 back
little jog up to Mt. Hoy
Up and down the hill twice
Fartlek to the parking lot: 1:00 hard, 1:00 easy three times

total: (c) 6 miles

63°F
Clear
Wind: N at 0 mph
Humidity: 90%
course: Blackwell Forest Preserve

76°F
Clear
Wind: E at 7 mph
Humidity: 56%

Another look at Mt. Hoy, from the top, in a roughly six-mile run. Once again, a gaggle of high schoolers were there showing us old folks how we used to do it.

Ran the first part with Jeff Couch. Jeff's quest is like mine, to break 20:00. He is close, but has a tough road. Knocking off two minutes at time is easier for me since I was starting so much slower. Killing the final :30 will be harder. That's Jeff's final hurdle to sub-20.

My sense of the workout was I did well, especially considering that this completes a 37.38 mile week, my most ever. Better rested and I might have conquered the hill with more vigor, but the dividends of running it hard though tired will pay off in September.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Banana Bars with Chocolate Chips - recipe

Yesterday, I brought Banana Bars to the running club get-together. Spent the afternoon running to Whole Foods looking for ripe bananas, then to Dominick's for the other ingredients.

Banana Bars with Chocolate Chips

This is a recipe my mother used when I was a child, and among my fondest memories include her sharing them with me. Essentially, they are a sort of banana bread with chocolate chips. Unlike a bread, though, they are softer, with a chocolate chip cookie color. They have a texture something like pound bread, and look like blond brownies.

Who do I credit with this recipe? Not my mom. I think she swiped it from a woman down the street who made them for her family. When I was in kindergarten at Chippewa Elementary, we had a cookbook made of all the favorite family recipes of the kids in my class. A few recipes stood out as new Trendl family favorites. This remains the best of the best, as far as I'm concerned.

If you have everything you need, you can be eating these within an hour of reading this guide. While you are munching on these (best with a glass of milk), imagine you are sitting on the letter Q (next to, as you should expect, letters P and R) in Miss V.'s kindergarten class in Palos Heights, Ill. in 1971.

Banana Bars

Cream:
2/3 cup shortening
2/3 cup lt. brown sugar
2/3 cup regular sugar

Beat in:
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg

Blend in:
1 cup mashed ripe banana

Then sift together and add:
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Mix in:
1/2 package chocolate chips (you use around 6 oz.)

Grease and lightly flour a jelly roll pan (10 x 15 approximately).

Bake at 350 for 20-35 minutes until it becomes golden and begins to shrink.

Cool 15 minutes, then cut and enjoy.

Keep covered after cutting.

-----------------------------------------------------------

For something more adventurous, try a Hungarian dish.

Best Times to Date

So far, in the course of workouts, and a few races, I have accumulated a few times. Although below are my best, not all are 100% effort. The workout required a lesser pace, so it might be I've got more to drop in several categories. The 5K represents a full effort. Several of the times came in the process of running a longer distance, and are adjusted by the overall pace for the longer run.

Distance
Time
Date
2000:432-Aug
4001:268-Jun
6002:202-Aug
8003:135-Jul
1000 nothing yetnothing yet
1 mile6:4829-Jun
2 mile14:5025-Jul
3 mile22:2725-Jul
5K23:1325-Jul
4 mile32:57.864-Jul
5 mile45:183-Aug
5.5 mile50:2430-Jul
6 mile54:3530-Jun
10K56:2430-Jun
7 mile63:4130-Jun
8 mile1:12:4730-Jun

8 miles LSD 1:14:21 (9:17/mile)

8 miles 1:14:21 (9:17/mile)
400 wd

75°F
Clear
Wind: NW at 4 mph
Humidity: 64%
course: Illinois Prairie Path

finish
82°F
Clear
Wind: N at 4 mph
Humidity: 47%

Felt good. Started out at 8:51, slowed to 8:57, hit five miles at 45:18. Finished in 1:14:21, around a 9:17 mile. Never really pushed.

The victory is several fold: I ran faster than usual and on a hot day. Did so after having the Spivey track club workout yesterday. Have not run over 6.5 miles since June 30, when I ran this in 1:12:47, but in 60-degree weather. And, broke the 30 mile in a week barrier, with 31.38 miles since Saturday.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Tracking Heat, Drinking Beer, Meeting Friends

2 mile wu
6x100 m striders

600 (200)
400 (200)
3x200 (100)[400]

600 (200)
400 (200)
3x200 (100)

600 wd

total: 5.625 miles

87°F
Mostly Cloudy
Wind: W at 10 mph
Humidity: 55%
course: Wheaton College track

A hot time in the summertime. We ran ladders, or, rather, an adjusted form of them. Heat and I have never been good friends, but, yesterday, we made some peace.

As always, to my misfortune, I started faster than I should. A 2:20 600, a speedy time for me, caused me some trouble right out the gate. I pressed through OK with a 1:40 400. Not quite right, I rested too long, and jumped in at the last 150 of the second 600 of Frank's group for the next set. My 200s I remember were 49, 43, 45. None of those were a struggle.

Afterwards, Jim had us over at his house for pizza. Nice home with a terrific porch, perfect for lemonade drinking and late night reading. Big black retriever named Sasha. Jim showed us a bunch of things he received from his three Olympics. Far more gear than I would have imagined. Rings, participation medals, all kinds of jackets. Even boxers.

His wife, Cindy, rolls with it all, having surely heard him tell his Michael Johnson (world record, 200 meters) autograph story a hundred times. She showed me her Eiffel Tower collection, a room filled with pictures, statures, and things made from the tower, like lamps, indicating her love for all things French.

Getting to chat with the other runners and their spouses was fun. While running is certainly the focus on the track, everyone has more complete lives than running in a circle.

Rudi brought by some Amstel Light. I had never had one, and am not sure what I think in general. I do know that, as thirsty as I was, it never tasted so good. It reminded me of the days I would help my dad cut the lawn, and he'd offer my the smallest few drops in a tiny cocktail shrimp cup. Thirsty days make beer taste better.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

And He Rested On The Seventh Day: Thoughts on a runner taking a rest day

Rest. Aren't we all wishing we could rest more? Not me. I want to run. I can't. I can, I should say. I shouldn't.

Today is a day off. I ran the last three days, and have a tough workout tomorrow with the Spivey Running Club.

The practices are usually tough, but with the added heat component, it kicks up a notch. Jim's wise to this and might adjust things. He can tweak things all he likes, but that will do nothing to the temperature.

So, today is a day off. I want to run. I want to run long, every day. I want to run fast, every day. Both are not likely on the same day, and, some days are better off accomplishing neither. Rest.

God took off Sunday, or Saturday if you like. Either way, He worked hard for six days and kicked back one day. He rested, and he checked out what He did the earlier part of the week. God did not need a rest. He is not bound by physical limitations. I am. Even the fastest runner needs to rest.

There are two kinds of rest days.
  1. Intended. Those days off I decide to take as recovery from what came before, and to prepare for what is to come.
  2. Unintended. These might be due to injury, general exhaustion, or life stepping into the mix. Really nasty weather could be the cause. All, though, are a crick in the schedule, altering all future plans.

The intended days off are freeing. I planned not to run today. I awake, drink some coffee, take care of other matters when I might have been running. I am free today from doing anything to prep for a run. I eat what I want, drink what I want, when I want. There will not be an hour when I have finished the run, but am still tired and in the immediate throes of recovery. I see tomorrow's track workout with a fresh desire.

The unintended days off are the worst. If it is because I ran too hard the day before, scheduled my day poorly, or was just feeling lazy, it grates on me.

As I become fitter, the days off will be different. Right now, my body is still acclimating to the long run, the short hard run, the race, all of that. So is my mind. I look at distances and wonder if I can finish, or, in the case of the Spivey Club workouts, keep up. Those folks are fast. My confidence is improving, as is my fitness, but this is a journey. There is a pain that goes with this, and a need to press through that pain. On hot afternoons, the lure of lemonade, sitting on a porch, listening to Louis Armstrong, reading a book is strong.

When I can look at most distances and not be intimidated, days off will take on a new light. Addiction? I have heard it happens. No endorphins streaming through. No burn followed by victory. No looking back on the road less taken, being unable to see through nature's corridors the beginning of the run.

And so, today is a day off. I'm drinking coffee, reading, catching up on e-mail, looking forward to tomorrow.