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Monday, April 28, 2008

Sub-50, and Not Dead Yet

Sitting here in a Panera Bread, eating a toasted and buttered Cinnamon Crunch Bagel with some hazelnut coffee, I am probably not helping my cause. However, minor joy has cause to be celebrated. My resting pulse late last night counted at just below 47, and this morning, was steadily at 49.

Pretty good, huh? Having a low pulse only means I am fitter, not faster, but getting faster requires I get fitter, so it all comes around.

At my fittest, my pulse hovered just above 40. Am I on my way back that low? Too many variables. I'm older, and how my body's cardiovascular system works is different. Still, it was above 60 not so long ago, and the encouragement is good. Other runners have a similar rate, as discussed in Runner's World, in their online forum.

It means my body is responding to the long aerobic runs, recovering well, and releasing life's other stresses.

In a fitness class in college, the instructor told us that our resting pulse will drop a beat a week if we include three days of 20 minutes of aerobic exercise. I am doing more than that, so the quick progress is not entirely unexpected. How long will this continue? Beats me. I know I have weight yet to lose, and a lot of getting in shape still to do. I am guessing that under 50 will be the norm.

You should try one of these bagels. Very tasty. 420 calories, and delicious.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Two Weeks and Running: 23.71 Miles This Week

I ran 23.71 miles, meeting my week's goal of 23 miles. This means two consecutive weeks above 20 miles. It also means 62.31 so far for the month, exceeding January, February and March together (53.98).

Next week's goal is 25 miles. I have 26.62 miles planned, but there are so likely schedule challenges competing with my workouts. Adjustments might need to be made.

Threw in a few sit-ups and push-ups, which I have started-stopped before, but, once again, hope I do more of. There's no way I am getting my abs back just by running.

Below is what I ran, but misses the two walks on Wednesday, a rest day. One walk was about four miles, and the other slightly less than three miles.

Sun Apr 20 -- 0.00 -- rest
Mon Apr 21 -- 3.92 -- COD Loop
Tue Apr 22 -- 4.92 -- COD Loop
Wed Apr 23 -- 0.00 -- rest
Thu Apr 24 -- 6.38 -- Spivey track workout
Fri Apr 25 -- 0.00 -- rest
Sat Apr 26 -- 8.50 -- Springbrook - LSD

8.5 Miles - Longest This Year

8.5 miles (1:22:27 - 9:42/mile)

total: 8.5 miles

Mostly Cloudy
Wind: S at 3 mph
Humidity: 62%
course: Springbrook Prairie

Cold when I left, I wore my windbreaker. The wind needed breaking, and the effort to run was more than the pace represents. Throughout, I felt good. My calves and left hamstring felt tight, but warmed up well.

Ran the 5.5 mile course, turned back to the 4.0 marker, then returned to the 5.5 marker. My pace started at 9:16, then 9:02. At three miles, I had 28:05. At 5.5, 53:29. The final half mile, I ran a little hard, at around 8:00 mile pace.

Nothing intense, just building capillaries, base and a psychological comfort with longer distances. I have a 10-miler planned at the end of May that looks less intimidating than it did yesterday.

The plan was eight miles, and 8.5 seemed easy enough, so I finished it off. 909 calories, also good.

Rain all the previous few days laid strewn the corpses of worms, much like the last time I ran this course.

My calories were returned in eating chicken with Dad's Old-Fashioned Root Beer.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I Love a Rainy Night: 5K in Slow Chunks With One Speedier 400

2400 warm up
6x100 striders

2000 f (400) - 9:02 (first mile - 7:10)
mile f (400) - 7:38
1000 f (400) - 4:33
400 f - :83

400 warm down
600 warm down

total: 6.375 miles

Wind: SE at 12 mph
Humidity: 43%
course: Wheaton College track

Jim's note: Total time of 5k will be the goal.

With a kids track program on the Wheaton College track, we were headed to Glenbard West High School's track. It is not as nice as Wheaton College's, and has a strange shape, but, any port in a storm. Gotta run though, so GWHS it was going to be. It turned out an even bigger meet was happening at GWHS, so things wound up at WC.

My legs were tired going into the workout. I walked twice yesterday, on my non-running day, with a total of 6.9 miles. Waking this morning, I considered the workout with leaden legs and not a small amount of concern.

When at lunch, my friend Justice Carmon wanted to walk, my legs cried out in defense of rest. The conversation was good, so we walked briefly, and mercifully sat by a murky pond watching a lonely turtle.

My goal was to run 5K pace for each interval. Which 5K pace? The 20:00 I have yet to run? The 22:00 I ran when much fitter? Something slower, but achievable?

I was late getting to the warm-up, and ran short of a full two miles.

Rain dampened the track, though God decided to wait until we were done before breaking it open. Lee, John, and Mike were there, running post-Boston recovery workouts, and telling their tale of Heartbreak Hill and the thrill of Boylston.

My first 2000 was at 22:35 5K pace. I can accept that. Unfortunately, my next mile, at around 7:38, showed me I wasn't ready for that. Not so impressive. My 4:33 - 22:45 pace, though close to where I would end up, should have been faster, given the shorter distance.

Then something clicked. I started the 400 in stride, in front of the group I had been chasing. Brad Webb and I were side-by-side, with Margaret Ford and Dave Christiansen tucked right behind. I felt good, and it was nice not to be trailing alone 50 meters back. Brad was still there with 100 to go and the guy thing kicked in - I couldn't give up, not if he wouldn't. Pride? Probably.

I ended up with an 83? That is my best 400 since re-engaging in running. Stopping a watch after a hard run is not so simple. All I wanted was to do was stop and breathe. Too fast as far as any 5K I'll be running soon. I should have run 105-106 per 400. However, it felt great to run harder, especially after the discouraging mile. What felt even better was the next gear that I never used - knowing I had more speed, but held back.

Next week, we do a bunch of 200s and 250s. I'm not sure what speed we're doing them in, but I need to be smart, not just for the one workout's survival, but to think long-term. I have a long summer to consider. Within all of this, I need to do what I'm asked - Jim knows his stuff, there's no question, and to achieve the results I want, I need to trust him.

Add up the times and it might indicate I am ready for a 22:36 5K, about an 7:17 pace. Is that a reality check? Could be. First try at the distance is May 10, and I expect to have two more weeks of fitness in me. I will rest better, eat smart, all those kinds of things. In a week, I will better know what's what.

I Love A Rainy Night - Eddie Rabbit

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Numbers Up: 21.72 Miles (Out of 20)

As announced in an earlier post, Runnin' Numbers: Some Mileage Stats, I mentioned mileage goals. So far, all is essentially within the goal range. I'm up to 47.55 miles for the month (not counting non-workout related walking).

Through April 19, the reality was 21.72 miles. Needed to keep on schedule = 20, so though I was a little over a mile under my plan, things are good. I'm on track this week, but it is only Wednesday. Saturday's plan was 5.5 miles, but, it looks like I'll be hitting Blackwell with the Spivey club. I don't know how that will add up, so I might be off.

The new miles have no been easy. It will go this way for a while as May comes along. Am I better off compared to this time last year? I think so, but will not be certain until I've run a few common races and compare times.

Plan - Date - Mileage Needed
23.06 - April 19, 2008 - 20 miles

22.97 - April 26, 2008 - 23 miles

Walkin' With the Wild Things: An Argument for Walking

Today, I walked with my friend David. 3.96 miles. 69:49. 17:38/mile. For me, that's around 423 calories. We worked the streets until arriving at the Willowbrook Wildlife Center, as seen above, where we looped a trail, then headed back.

He's on a campaign to lose 80 pounds and is 60 pounds into it. 20 pounds to go. My weight loss goals are more modest, to say the least, but the idea to get there is the same: eat right, exercise right. By most accounts, I'm exercising well.

David has yet to fully jump in -- still coaxing his knees to cooperate -- but he's getting there. However, he has been eating well, and now, by putting in a few miles, if he sticks with it, will see gains there. He knows this, and is working to get in some walking, and even some jogging when he can.

Why walk? Walking, for all intents and purposes, burns as many calories per mile as a 5:00 mile. Today is a off day from running, with my weekly butt kicking tomorrow. Still, to run faster, I need to drop fat.

Is it a workout? Not in the pure aerobic sense, but in that I walked, have I burned a few calories? You bet. 423 calories equals a portion of my lunch (leftover Sloppy Joes - three of them). That means, in practical terms, the buns, 100 calories each, made no impact other than whatever vitamins and minerals they may have. The meat? I'm not sure what it was worth, but, I ate 123 calories worth free of charge.

I walk often to finish off a run, or just a mile or so with my wife. Just as we all can nickel and dime ourselves into being overweight, we can also reverse the process. A mile here, a mile there, and the next thing ya' know, 33 miles, or, one pound.
Willowbrook Wildlife Center is a rehabilitation facility that provides care and medical treatment for injured and orphaned animals that are native to northeastern Illinois. As an education center, Willowbrook also serves as a resource for understanding the natural world and provides learning experiences for DuPage County residents to help them live in harmony with diverse, healthy wildlife populations.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Steamed and Pickled: 43:00 of Warm Sweat

4.42 miles c 43:00
0.50 miles hard walk

total: 4.92 miles

Mostly Cloudy
Wind: SW at 4 mph
Humidity: 42%
course: COD Loop

Not feeling on top of my game today. It might be that the miles I have added recently have not properly introduced themselves to my cardio-vascular system.

"Legs, meet Miles. Miles, meet Lungs."

Hopefully, this relationship will be more pleasant as they spend more time together.

Why can't we all just get along?

The run began feeling OK, but I never found my stride. I felt exhausted, and welcome the day off tomorrow. Thursday will be tough, with a 2000, mile, 1000 and 400, adding up to 5000 meters, with a warm-up and warm-down. Being reasonably rested for the day will be the trick.

No hecklers as with the last few outings.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Uneasy Run on an Uneasy Path

First off, congratulations and celebrations to fellow JSRC running club members for their excellent finishes at the Boston Marathon.
  • Lee Crumbaugh - 4:01:22
  • Michael Demeritt - 2:55:33
  • John J. Duffy, Esquire - 3:27:21
3.41754156 miles run (31:05 = 9:06/mile)
0.50 walk, hard
3.91754156 miles

Wind: SE at 5 mph
Humidity: 44%
course: Random roads around COD

Basically, I ran to the College of DuPage's track and back. The grass was not level and twisting my ankle would be the result if not for the grace of God.

It looked like they were having track practice, so I adjusted, and ran south to Butterfield and back. It is just as well. Something I ate is arguing with me, like my ribs are growling. An odd feeling. As it turns out, I ran just a mile less than planned. I need to lay down.

Cliff Richard - Congratulations

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Magdalena Lewy Boulet - Many Smoots Ahead

Is it too early to congratulate Magdalena Lewy Boulet who, at ten miles of the Olympic Trials Marathon in Boston is leading by landslide? She has a 1:31 lead at just over 10 miles. will Deena Kastor catch her?

Hopefully, the video below will work for you.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Mid-Race, Smelled of Worms at 48:31

5.5 miles run 48:31 - 8:49/mile
no warm down

total: 5.5 miles

Wind: E at 2 mph
Humidity: 95%
course: Springbrook Prairie

The Eikon 5K Run was just beginning as I started my 5.5 mile gallop across land and prairie. What? Apparently, Eikon is a group at Calvary Church of Naperville. So if you agree with this sort of thing, see their site, drop them a few bucks. Even $10 will help (though, if you've $1,000 sitting around, invest it in these kids).
Come out and help support Eikon's missions trip to Ethiopia by joining Eikon for a 5K Run Walk at Springbrook Prairie in Naperville. Prizes will be awarded to the winners, so get ready for the 5K!
Didn't run the race -- my fitness is not race-ready, though the temptation was there for a cause as important. I did run aground of racers at the 5.0 mile marker, which was their 2.0 mile marker. That's when some speedsters came cruising by.

It smelled of worms. The morning's rain plundered the peace of the earthworms' dry homes. I dodged what I could, though more than a few were scurrying across the road.

As for my own run: (48:31 - 8:49/mile). I felt tight, presumably from Thursday's butt kicking. My thighs and outer calves just above the ankle were aching despite Advil. Things started slow, got slower through three miles, and I tried to hold pace. The hills on the first three must have been the bane of my pace as for the last 2.5 things worked much better.

Mile 1 - 8:54
Mile 2 - 8:58
Mile 3 - 9:24
Mile 4 - 8:44
Mile 5 - ?
Mile 5.5 (1.5 miles) - 12:31 - 8:20/mile

Right now, I'm OK with the pace. Looking at my mileage last winter, I have no choice. This is all ramping up, keeping loose, losing weight, and getting fit. I am watching my form. And, absolutely looking forward to celebrating one year of running.

My weight after showering was 133.4. My scale is not to be fully trusted, but it indicates I am losing weight. With my plan through May, it looks as if a five pound loss is possibly by then.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Best Workout This Week

3200 warm up
6x100 striders
800 f (400)
mile f (400)
3x150 (50) f (400)
1200 f (400)
3x150 (50) f
600 wd

total: 6.6875 miles

Wind: SW at 6 mph
Humidity: 36%
course: Wheaton College track

On one hand, a tough workout. On the other, not so bad, given a sensibly 'fresh' pace. I have times, but all hovered around 1:50-1:55 per 400, whatever the distance, though my stride was stronger for the last set of 150s.

Hot. Ran without a shirt.

Matt Jewell, an old dear friend from grad school was there. A full house otherwise, which was good to see. Jim passed out some funkily engineered ASICS pens, and autograph cards.

Most of us headed to the former Fox and Firken for eats and drinks.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Runnin' Numbers: Some Mileage Stats

I started playing in Microsoft Excel to see where my mileage would be through May 31. I have the next few weeks of Jim's track workouts, and know I have a race May 10. I also know Jim's workouts usually add up to around 6.5 miles, give or take.

With these knowns, I tried to devise a general daily mileage schedule, with days off. My goal is to gradually accumulate miles, to run safely, with an eye toward endurance. Also, in my basic plan is a hilly course, something I lacked this time last year (and paid harshly for this deficit in a few races).

June 1, if I am on task, I will be asking Jim to supply me real daily workouts. I am an amateur here without genuine knowledge for what a workout is supposed to look like. Everything will need to point toward a better 5K, and he knows how that works.

For the week ending at the date below, I can stick pretty close. Since some of the miles are warm down miles, I am not so concerned when the mileage exceeds the plan.

A few notable numbers.
Last April, I had zero miles. This April, if all goes per plan, I will have 82.36 miles. May 2007 = 70.86 miles. This May will sum up to 145.12 miles. May will be by far the most miles I will have done since starting a year ago. I ran 102.85 miles in August 2007. In fact, it took to June 25 last year to run as many miles as I hope to run this May.

I am on schedule so far this week, with an especially tough track workout this coming Thursday. We are doing an 800, a mile, a bunch of 150s, a mile, then another 800. An easy run on Saturday, and I will good to go. Today is a rest day. Still tired and my left side calf right above my ankle aches - hopefully nothing serious.

Unrun through to May 31 is about 191 miles. This means, if the formula means anything in real life, I will burn 20,437 calories (107/mile at my weight). Divide by 3,500 to get pounds lost, and I should drop about five pounds of fat. I doubt it will be this simple, but, no matter what the scale says, I should be much fitter.

Actual - Date - Mileage Needed
23.06 - April 19, 2008 - 20 miles
22.97 - April 26, 2008 - 23 miles
26.62 - May 3, 2008 - 25 miles
29.86 - May 10, 2008 - 27.5 miles
29.76 - May 17, 2008 - 30 miles
33.76 - May 24, 2008 - 32 miles
35.26 - May 31, 2008 - 35 miles

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Mostly Running, Still Running

4.42 miles, mostly running

total: 4.42 miles

Wind: SW at 16 mph
Humidity: 33%
course: COD Loop

I have had better runs that just now. Was that I only had coffee and a cookie to eat today? That yesterday's meals were not much better? Or can I blame a minimal fitness level, with a run yesterday leaving me tired today? Why not?

Does not matter what the reason is. I'm still tired. So tired that I began walking after 26:00, and then again at around 40:00. I don't really mind though. I know the above reasons are legitimate, and that I still got out there. I still burned fat, even with 10:00 miles.

Tomorrow, I will rest, with the Spivey workout on Thursday, and maybe a 5.5 miler at Springbrook Saturday.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Ryan Hall takes Fifth at Flora London Marathon

Beijing 2008 OlympicsDoes Ryan Hall have a legit chance at a medal at the Beijing Olympics this year? Yes.

He showed he can run with the big boys (who themselves are famously not big), and has yet to indicate he has plateaued. His 2:06:17 is good, but still almost two minutes off of the world record (2:04:26). Nothing to be ashamed of, but he has a lot of time to catch up, with many capable runners in front of him.

Below, a press release from the USATF.
Ryan Hall takes fifth at Flora London Marathon

U.S. marathon phenom Ryan Hall (Big Bear Lake, Calif.) on Sunday ran 2:06:17 to finish fifth at the Flora London Marathon, the opening race of the 2008 World Marathon Majors series. Martin Lel (KEN) successfully defended his title running a new course record of 2:05:15, American Khalid Khannouchi's mark by 23 seconds. Hall's time makes him the second fastest American all-time for the marathon behind Khannouchi.

Running with the leaders on world record pace through half-way (1:02:13) Hall went through 25 km with Lel, Samuel Wanjiru (KEN) and Yonas Kifle (ERI) in 1:13:47, a pending U.S. record for the distance. Despite falling nine seconds behind the leaders at 30 km, Hall rallied to rejoin them at 35 km. The fast pace through the early stages seemed to take a toll as he began to fade to sixth. Over the last 2 km Hall rallied again to overtake Deriba Merga (ETH) for fifth and was just outkicked for fourth by two seconds by Emmanuel Mutai (KEN).

The Flora London Marathon will be available on-demand this Sunday at Viewers in the U.S. and Canada can watch the free coverage of the 2008 event.

Jim Estes
Associate Director of LDR and Marketing
USA Track & Field

Groundhogs in April: A 40 Minute Neighborhood Tour

groundhog4.42 miles - 41:50 (9:27)
0.50 wd walk

total: 4.87 miles

Wind: NE at 2 mph
Humidity: 31%
course: COD Loop

Easy run on area roads. Slowing me down were damp shoulders - it has rained almost non-stop this last week, and slow growing hills. That same rain kept me inside since last Monday when I had a nice 5.5 mile run.

I don't mind that I ran slower, so long as I keep getting out there. My goal is 19-20 miles this week, and a few are out of the way. These slower miles will knock some fat off, and help my base.

The course was one of a few COD Loops I developed last week on Essentially, it takes me from my home to Butterfield, and goes east or west (east today) until I turn north and return home.

Today, I felt stiff and tired going into it, but the beautiful sunny day could not be kept at bay. I was not the only one. The bright day brought open windows.

The bad drummer down the road practiced. I saw the older neighbor in the black cap with his little dog, and the woman who walks with her husband. Good weather brings out all the ground hogs to see the sun.

The well-heeled neighborhood kids drove quickly home from Glenbard South High School. Cars looking straight from showrooms sped too fast down the streets, without a cop in sight. Two almost cut me off, one on purpose, yelling out the window. Let's see what they've still got in the basement when they hit 40.

A few walkers were canvassing the sidewalks in front of COD. Runners? None, surprisingly. Maybe they are out in the morning? I don't know. Hopefully, I will be an expert in this soon.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Tough Weather, My Plan Gets Refined, and a Possible Race

A quick chat with Coach Jim clarified what I plan to run the next few weeks. I am not on his daily workout plan yet - my base is insufficient - but he did give me a direction. I've converted it into weekly miles.

For the week ending as follows, I plan to have run the following miles. It is roughly based on increasing in 10% increments, stopping at 35. Once I get to 30-35 miles, I expect I will be hovering for a while. This will be a big change from last summer when I averaged around 22.27 miles.

April 19, 2008 - 20 miles
April 26, 2008 - 23 miles
May 3, 2008 - 25 miles
May 10, 2008 - 27.5 miles
May 17, 2008 - 30 miles
May 24, 2008 - 32 miles
May 31, 2008 - 35 miles

The weather has been rough. Mostly, wet. Rainy. Today, we even had snow. Hardly real snow, but it wasn't rain. This has made facing workouts impossible. Last Thursday's track practice was cancelled.

Next Race
Rather, the first race of the season might be St. John Lutheran School - 50 Hecto on May 10. I have the Cosley Animal Farm - Cream of Wheaton 5K Race in my sights, but that is not until June.

A month of fitness development is front of me, and, although there were just 118 finishers last year, the times are surprisingly fast. Todd Moxley won in 16:00.2. My race PR of 22:00 would get me 21st place. In other words, it will be a strong training run. I'll ponder pacing and all that later.
  • 8:00 A.M. Start
  • 100 Meter Youth Run
  • 50 Meter Kid's Run
  • This year we have a new local sponsor “Fitness Together.”
  • The Chicago Area Runners Association (CARA) has nominated our event to be a featured Circuit Race.
  • All proceeds will benefit St. John School.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Rocky Balboa: Movie About a Boxer, Could Have Been a Runner (review)

Worthy Addition to Sports Movie Pantheon, Jan 31 2007
"Rocky Balboa" AKA, "Rocky VI" will not be the greatest inspirational sports movie you see. Its grandfather, the original "Rocky" could argue for that spot. In fact, it might own it. However, no one should compare this to the first Rocky. It is a fun, inspiring movie for 2006, and will be a worthy addition to the sports movie pantheon.

4.5 stars for this one.

"Rocky Balboa" is, itself, the great underdog. Critics see it as another installment in the descending and embarrassing series, or, are calling it the best 'Rocky' sequel. Because of the two extremes Stallone has presented us, from one of the best movies ever to some of the dogs of cinema, expectations are low. With expectations across the board, I saw this and was pleasantly surprised.

Rocky Balboa, circa 2006, is a retired boxer approaching 60. People in town generally give him respect, and space. He is no longer hounded by the media, and no longer chased by his fans. Philadelphia has moved. They even took down his statue.

Now, he runs a midlevel Italian restaurant, and wanders from table to table telling about the good old days. Customers get a meal and a story, and Rocky gets his mortgage paid.

His son begrudges his dad for the big shadow. Imagine being Michael Jordan's kid? Such is what Rocky, Jr. must endure, and he wants to be his man. He pushes his dad away in the process. Rocky's conversation with his son outside the restaurant will be ranked among the great movie speeches, and will be quoted everywhere from church sermons to business books to locker rooms.

Meanwhile, Rocky is looking for meaning. Like Willy Loman, he wants the older years of his life to matter, and like Loman, he keeps looking to the past to find that meaning. Regular visits to Adrian's grave, autographs in his restaurant, and walks through his old neighborhood remind him of who he used to be. Who is he now?

He feeds a needy old opponent of his, helps a single woman and her son with friendship and jobs. He recognizes that life should be lived on his terms, just as he always has. But what are his terms?

When reigning champ Mason Dixon, a mix of rap star arrogance and Mike Tyson dominance, wants to fight, Rocky sees it as similar to the opportunity Apollo Creed gave him decades earlier. He's a fool, naturally. The match "will against skill" is respectful that Rocky's will power is bar none, but he isn't 25.

Like the other Rocky movies, good and bad, this is a family film. No profanity, sex, or the usual Hollywood movie gimmicks to kick it into PG-13 or up rating. It's clean, hard-charging, and packed with the message the other movies carried: "All about: pride, reputation, and not being another bum in the neighborhood."

The movie needs another 10-15 minutes to wrap up some storylines, and some of the lines are cheesy. Dixon's desire to be tested, Spider's reasons for being out of work, and Rocky's friendship to Steps need clearing up. The movie hangs on, but viewers might be left unsatisfied. Rocky makes one monologue too many about continuing to fight and never be beaten, but not so much that it becomes polemic.

I fully recommend "Rocky Balboa."

Monday, April 7, 2008

Tidy 48:35 Ramble in a Cool Spring Sunset

5.5 miles (c 48:35, 8:50/mile)
1 mile hard walk
total: 6.5 miles

Wind: W at 0 mph
Humidity: 50%
course: Springbrook Prairie

My actual finish time is a guess. At least 47:32, plus the time between the stoplight at Book and the 4.0 mile marker, when I restarted my new watch. I am rounding up, for now, to 48:35 (based on estimate), to be adjusted next time I make that run. My old watch died, but that had nothing to do with forgetting to click the little button.

About watches: I picked a simple stopwatch wristwatch at Wal-Mart for $5.00 (closeout). Nothing fancy. It counts laps, which I probably won't use, lights up, and has a nice big face.

It was a good run, steady between 8:30-9:00 miles, quicker than Saturday. I first broke 50:00 here last August, so I'm taking this as a good sign. Variables were in my favor: wind to my back when I started, cool temperatures, and it just felt smooth (not very scientific, but that's all I've got). And I watched Rocky Balboa (Rocky Balboa: Movie About a Boxer, Could Have Been a Runner (review)) this afternoon with my buddy David. I too have got more in the basement. Anyway, it was just another run, but a good one.

Now, I have a belly full of spaghetti and red wine, and legs full of a run. Time to rest.

video: Rocky Balboa giving a street on life to his son, Robert.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Places I Run in DuPage County

Forest Preserve District of DuPage County - Springbrook Prairie
Springbrook Prairie Forest Preserve
9S400 Plainfield-Naperville Road
Naperville, Illinois
Get directions
5.5 mile loop, with each half mile noted. Clean, semi-paved path, with some minor hills at around the three mile mark. Find me here on occasional Saturday mornings or mid-day, mid-week when I'm not working. Among my favorites when I need to run alone.

Wheaton College Track
501 College Ave
Wheaton, IL 60187
Get directions
Excellent quality 400 meter track. Run with me here on Thursday evenings as part of the Jim Spivey Running Club. It can be crowded sometimes, but mostly, these are other serious runners who are aware of track courtesies and etiquette.

College of DuPage Track
425 Fawell Blvd.
Glen Ellyn, IL 60137
(630) 942-2800
Low quality and beat-up, but convenient 400 meter track. Not only is it close to home, but I can run a track workout without competing for lanes with other runners. The COD football team often leaves equipment in the lanes near the 350 meter mark.

Illinois Prairie Path
W Liberty Dr & Carlton Ave
Wheaton, IL 60187
Excellent 61-mile trail, with markers every mile. Convenient, and many runners use it. The downside is it can be buggy (bees, mosquitoes) and roads need to be crossed every mile or so.

You will see many runners here, including the Glen Ellyn Runners Club. Be polite, nod to other runners.

Sometimes I go north or south. Most recently, I have been heading southward -- fewer road crossings -- as far as the four mile mark for an eight mile run, and expect to push it further as I can.

There are other places -- occasional treadmills (COD's treadmill), paths, but either too infrequent (like Greene Valley), or too difficult to provide specifics (like road workouts that change course each time). The ones listed above are the most frequent, but also, the ones I expect to use the most moving forward this spring.

Back in the Saddle Again: Running for Fun, Running the Distance

Winter is behind us here in the western suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. With this morning's easy gallop across the ol' prairie, I can't help but think of Gene Autry's famous country-western song "Back in the Saddle Again."

Running is feeling much better than it did this time last year. The runner's dilemma remains, and I am still reaching for my goals, but I'm on the horse riding. And, I 'm having a good time running, thinking about running -- looking forward to a great spring, and even better summer. As I scope out what the next couple months offer, I see that long, endorphin-laden runs are before me.

I looked back this morning at my running log. I wanted to see how things were a year ago. Detailed records start May 3, 2007, so memory will have to suffice for the most part. In March 2007, I ran around 20-30 miles at most. In April 2007, none, at most.

The first time I ran 5.5 miles was the accumulated miles during a Spivey Running Club track workout May 17. 5.75 miles that evening. As a long run, it was May 24 when I ran 6.25 miles.

In other words, I am ahead of the game. Aerobic base was my greatest deficit last year, and this year, I intend to make it my strength. Speed will come around, but I need to be able to sustain it. No lungs = no good races.

So now, April 2008. What to do. What to do? Run. What do you think? Truly, that is the plan. Lots of easy running, plus the track workouts. May will look similar. Hopefully, if I stay true to my goal, start with Jim's daily workouts and take the summer racing season by storm (by which, when I say storm, I mean mild trickle with a small wind, but a storm just the same).

My rough workout plan will finish April with 29.5 miles the last week, for a total of 104.5 miles for the month. Real life may cause more or less.

I only broke 100 miles once last year, with 102.85 in August. I will sketch out my May mileage once I see how April is progressing. However, I want to kick it up to 150 miles, finishing the last week at around 35-45 miles. Pull May together that way, and fitness should be de facto.

My approach for the June 7 Cream of Wheaton race, pending agreement with Coach Jim, will be to train through it, and not to worry so much about time. I might take a few days less intensely, and not do a long run the day before, but will not think about a PR. Instead, I will aim for a smart race, built on finishing with a hard mile. How fast? Too soon to guess, but a 23:00 should not be unreasonable by then. Expect my opinion of that to change a few times by then.

Beautiful Day in the (Springbrook Prairie) Neighborhood

5.5 miles - 52:01 (9:27/mile)
1.0 warm down hard walk
total: 6.5 miles

Wind: SE at 0 mph
Humidity: 86%
course: Springbrook Prairie

Wind: SW at 3 mph
Humidity: 35%

An amazingly beautiful morning filled with an easy wind, chirping birds, a sense of Spring all around. Controlled field burning began after I left, so I avoided much smoke. The temperature was probably closer to 50, and around 55 when I finished.

My goal was just to get in the run, to put in miles at any pace. As such, I started slow, and gradually picked it up. My last mile, I think, was in the low 8s. My overall time was not much, but to burn fat, I need to keep the S part of LSD slow.

Met Tom, a guy wearing a back pack and 40 pounds of gear. Why? Training for a descent down the Grand Canyon.

Friday, April 4, 2008

No 200-Mile Relay, but Instead Cream of Wheaton 5K

The 200-Mile Relay I was expecting to run has flopped. The race will go on, but our team will not be involved. A few guys of our 12-person team are hurt or busy.

It is just as well. My workouts have been weak and irregular. My part of the race was to be 3.42, 7.55, and 8.57 miles.

Which bring me around to the Cream of Wheaton Run for the Animals.

Last year, I ran it in 25: 12, an 8:07 pace, taking 19th of 59 places in my age group, and 282 overall. Not ready yet to call my race, but I expect to run much better than that. I ended last summer with a 22:00 5K. If I can equal that, terrific. It would have earned me sixth in my age group, and 111th overall. However, don't call Vegas with your bet.

Compared to last year, off the bat, I am a smarter runner. This will help me train better, and race more sensibly.

To run a 22:00 5K, I need a 7:05 mile pace. Presently I am in no shape to pull that off. I do expect to drop weight aggressively, and with it, catch my wind back, both as a matter of aerobic training that will lose the weight, and by simply not carrying the same baggage.

Today, I ache from last night's four miles. Tomorrow will be warm. I'll shed the cold weather togs and lighten my load, and see if I can get a few miles. Sunday will be off, a rest day, and back at it Monday.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Four Miles of Drizzle

4 miles, out and back, around 37:30 (8:59, 9:00, 9:37, 9:17)

Mostly Cloudy
Wind: E at 4 mph
Humidity: 37%
course: Illinois Prairie Path

No spectacular running tonight. Sluggish, at best. Frank mentioned he was coming off of three weeks down and would be running four miles easy. I decided to tag along. I simply did not need speedwork with a base deficit.

Coach Jim was nowhere to be found. At least, not in Illinois. He is sun bathing in the beautiful air of Florida on a family vacation, working on vitamin D synthesizing. This distinction was made clearer as the rain came down in a strong sprinkle (Don't let the weather listed above fool you. It was cool and sloppy out there.)

The work was to be officially a favorite, had I actually run it.

15 m's wu vf, 6x100
3 sets of 3x400 (200)[400]
1st set - all f
2nd set fgf
3rd set gff