Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a track?

I was trying to do some speed work, and I spent the first half an hour driving around to various places just trying to find a track where I wouldn't interfere with or be bothered by the soccer and lacrosse players.

Stop 1: Community college.

The community college has no track or cross country team. The track is in very bad shape. There are plants growing up through the track surface, the edges are crumbling, and there hasn't been a stripe on the track in several years. Obviously, nobody uses the track. Perfect, right?  The last time I went to use the track, it was unused, and I had the place to myself. The baseball players off to one side, the soccer tournament was using different fields, the cricket players were using the tennis courts. I did my interval session, or most of it, and went home. I say most because my right calf began to tighten up during the last one, and I don't really want to injure myself. I stopped about 200m into the last 600 of the day. So, after that very successful session, I decided to go back whenever I wanted to do interval work.

So, I went back. When I got there, there was a soccer practice taking place on the field inside the track. Pre-teen girls playing soccer. The track was full of parents, and I did not want to be perceived as the creepy guy who hangs around the fields where pre-teen girls are playing sports.

Stop 2: Middle school.

So, I set off in search of another track. I went to a nearby middle school (which used to be a high school), thinking that the current high school would be the place where practices/tournaments/clinics would be held. When I got there, all of the fields were in use. A lacrosse tournament was taking place, and the track was filled with parents and lacrosse players, not to mention flying lacrosse balls. Not only would the track be too crowded to use, it would probably be dangerous with all of the games going on at the same time.

Stop 3: High School

The high school athletic fields across the street from my house are always in use, it seems. I skipped over the track this time, not even bothering to see if it was in use. Instead, I went to a high school in the next town, not expecting to be able to use the track, but hoping that I could. Much to my surprise, the field was not in use and on the track was a single man, jogging around. It could have something to do with the fact that the field was under construction, and the track was stripped away, down to the asphalt foundation. In addition, there was a dirt "roadway" across a portion of the track to allow construction vehicles to cross the track to the field without doing any damage. So, once each lap, I went over a bump where the surface changed from a hard surface to a soft one, meaning that I had no traction during that portion of the lap. So, this means that I have a place to do speed work when I need a track!

The speed work session was good. I was two to three seconds under my goal time on each repeat. I became confused near the end, forgetting where I had started the lap and thinking for a few seconds that I had taken too long a rest, but I got it straightened out in my head pretty quickly.

The post-workout beer tasted good, too.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Heard it Again

I hear it a lot. Most recently, at the last race I ran. "I've never seen a runner smile."

Now, I've seen photos of myself running, and I don't often smile. The look on my face would best be described as stupid. Usually, my mouth is open, jaw slack, eyes partly closed. At the end of the run, or particularly at the end of a race, my head goes back and my eyes close all the way. In the words of David Byrne, "People in ecstasy look stupid."

It's true, runners don't often smile during their runs. But people don't often smile during sex, either. Afterwards, yes.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

It's raining again.

I wish. It's been cold and rainy for a few days now. Temps in the 40s to 50s, with cold rain coming down. Nothing like the other day, with the lightning and thunder. It makes it just that much more difficult to get out after work. When you're already tired it would just be so easy to sit down on the couch, open a beer and not do anything. The first quarter mile, I often wish I was having a beer on the couch. By the time I hit half a mile, though, I'm usually glad that I'm out there.

When I was young, a little coldness, rain, or even lightning wouldn't stop me from running. There were times when I swam across a river in the dead of winter just for the fun of it. Got out on the other side and started running again. You dry out as you go -- your body heat dries your clothing, and pretty soon only your feet are cold. That was in the days of cotton sweatpants and an occasional nylon jacket. Long underwear under running shorts. For gloves, we wore wool socks on our hands. They probably worked better than any of the modern "high-tech" gloves available these days. Wool socks keep all your fingers together, letting them warm each other, and become more wind-resistant as they get wet.

My wife doesn't like me running in the morning. She much prefers that I run "when there's people around." I can understand that, although I really don't think that very many of the people who drive by are (a) willing to stop if they see me in trouble or (b) trained in CPR.

I did manage to catch the gaps in the rain this week. I've not been rained on at all while running since my lightning episode.  I just got lucky that the rain let up and stopped when I was ready to get outside and run. With the BP meds, I'm actually looking forward to warmer weather. Come on, summer!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Monthly rant

About once a month or so, I get annoyed with drivers. So, today It's time for me to rant about people who don't know how to drive.

About a half a mile into my run, there was a car coming out of a side street. The driver, a man, looked about 10 years older than me. As he pulled up to the stop sign, he rolled through, never stopping, rolling through the intersection. Rolling through the intersection, not ever looking at the sidewalk, potentially killing me, with a look of utter confusion on his face as I shouted at him to stop. Later on, another man, this one 20 years or mor older than me, failed to stop at a red light. Just rolled through, doing about 20 miles an hour.

I'm beginning to think that we should have to take a new road test every 5 years. And driving without a license should result in the confiscation of the vehicle.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Where to start?

I've started writing posts several times, and even wrote out a post on paper, with a pencil(!), but every time I get close to typing one up on the computer, I get taken away and can't get back to make a post.  Most recently, my teenage son got hit by a car, and I spent most of the rest of the day in Emergency.

So here goes:

I hate the treadmill. Don't like it at all. I find it boring. When I am having a bad day on the road, I go about a quarter mile, and think "I've only gone a quarter mile?" After that point, I start feeling better until the miles start going by quickly and easily, and I'm thinking "Is it over already?"

On the treadmill, I start out with the same question, but keep asking it over and over again -- "only half a mile?"  "Only a mile?" "Only two miles?"  Ugh.

I do see the purpose f the treadmill, though. Over the weekend of the 18th-19th, I was out of town for my daughter's college graduation. The school is about a six-hour drive from here, and she was moving into an apartment in NYC directly after graduation, so driving down and back in one day was really out of the question. Fortunately, the hotel where we stayed had a fitness center, so I could get my runs in.

Having a treadmill available solves the problems of being in an unfamiliar city. Running in an unfamiliar place can cause one to get lost, or to run a shorter distance than intended. Running in unfamiliar territory often leads to overestimating the distance run as well, and not knowing the neighborhoods that one runs through can be dangerous.

It was incredibly hot in the fitness center, and I worked up quite a sweat, more than I would have liked. My shirt was soaked by the time I finished my run -- it was like an afternoon run in the dead of summer, only without the sunshine.

So, I'll probably be using treadmills in the future, but I know that I won't be enjoying them.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The secret of comedy...

...is timing.

I got home today, changed my clothes as quickly as I could, and got out running. At about one mile, it started to rain. No problem, right? It's only water. At about one and a half, I saw a flash of lightning.

One thousand one

ont thousand two

one thousand three


Sh*t. OK, time to head for home. A mile and a half in a straight line. No shortcuts, and the lightning has just struck a little over 1000 meters away, probably at the top of nearby Pinnacle Hill, which I was planning on crossing over. I ran home as fast as I could, stopping several times to crouch in yards. I wonder what the homeowners thought I was doing, squatting there in their front yards. The rain just kept increasing in intensity, making me wetter  and wetter the longer I was out there. If it weren't for the lightning, I probably would have been running through the puddles, splashing and generally acting like a kid a fifth my age (do 10-year olds still splash in puddles?). As it was, I was watching and counting, dividing by five and trying to find shelter. For a second, I thought about heading for the pizza place where we usually get our pizzas, but immediately realised that I would actually be going farther than if I went straight home. By the time I got home, I was dripping wet, literally. The water was dripping from every part of my body -- except my face. I'd worn a hat, which was probably the only reason I could see where I was going the whole time. About 20 minutes or half an hour after I finished, the rain started to lessen and finally stopped.


Monday, May 06, 2013

OT reading books...

What does it take to get me to stop reading a book and put it down?  there are a couple of things that will make me put a book down and not pick it up again. One is if the book gets preachy. Another is when I run into too many errors. Recently I was reading a book and I started seeing errors of fact and implied errors. The errors of fact included a description of a geographic distribution that I am very familiar with. The description, for anyone who knows the geographic region which was being described, was either very poorly written or was flat-out impossible. Soon after that description, the book implied that two places were closer than they actually are. When I got to that point in the book, I put it down and returned it to the library the next day. I can't really say how many errors make me stop with a book, but it's some combination of the number and the size of the error -- a small number of errors that seem large to me will do it, or a larger number of small errors. Either way, what does it is the idea that I can't trust the information in the book -- kind of "If this and this are wrong, how much that I don't already know is in here that's wrong? How much can I trust this book?"

Thursday, April 04, 2013

51º (F)

At last, spring weather. I hesitate to say that spring is here; we have about 4 to 6 more weeks of winter to go. I've seen nine inches of snow fall in one night in early May, so spring will be here when it's here.  On the other hand, last year at this time, the temp was in the 70s. I am tired of the constant cold and the snow and ice on the walks, and I'd like to see the end of the bitter wind.

Today the temp reached 51º, and it was at the end of the day that we got there, so I was finally able to get out in shorts and a t-shirt. I hope the sunlight reflecting off my white arms and legs didn't blind anyone.

It felt good running in the warmer air, and I did my 4.5 in just about 8 minute miles. There was a long downhill at about 2.5, and I opened up my stride and took the downhill in long, fast strides.

Here's hoping the warm weather sticks around, and we don't get snow.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Training Partner

I wish I had one. It does make it easier to train when you've got someone to do it with. Someone to push you when you need it, someone counting on you to be there on a certain day at a certain time...

I haven't trained with someone since college. It's very difficult to find someone who's on the same schedule and at the same level of training. It's especially difficult when you reveal that you've had a heart attack. I'd join a team, but I think that the coaches might be reluctant to actually coach someone who has a history (however short) of keeling over and almost dying during a race.