Thursday, July 12, 2018

But officer, I didn't mean to Streak!

It began innocently enough. I was compiling miles on June 29 to be able to know my mileage for the first half of the year. Because I don't use an online log, I actually write in one in pretty much diary form, I also use this time to flip through some pages as well as check my math. While working my way through the front half of 2018, I had a thought: I don't think I've taken a day off this year. Despite the knee issues, the butt issues, and life in general, I don't think I've missed a day. Lo and behold, It is/was true. I have strung together, somehow, a streak of sorts.

The next step was to grab the 2017 edition and see how far back this phenomenon goes. I knew I had missed a bunch of days/weeks/months post surgery, but had no idea when my daily running dose became consistent. Huh, not that far. The last day off in 2017 was Christmas Eve.

SO, long story short, today was my 200th day in a row. A streak is born.

A streak, yeah right. I've had plenty of longer streaks. In fact, long ago, I bundled up almost 1000 days in a row (falling short when jinxed by my ex-mother-in law - that being another story for my memoir). But if I have to be honest, this one was kind of a pleasant surprise. I did not, at the beginning of the year, set out to run every day. I have had years where that was one of my goals. This time, nope: didn't even think about it.

So how did this non event occur? Cycles. Cycles? Yep, cycles.

I think runners with any kind of longevity go through cycles. The Creation cycle, when you first discover the activity; the Competition cycle, when everything is about racing, competing, PRs; the Creative/Challenge cycle, when we attempt to find ways other than the competition to excel; the Comfort cycle, when we merely fit it in and it becomes, while still semi-important, more low key; and the Cornerstone cycle, when we realize that fast or slow, this running thing is deeply a part of our lives until it no longer can be. I am in the Cornerstone cycle (or maybe they're more like phases). I don't run because I want to or need to or I'm hoping to qualify for this or that, I run today because today is a day and a big part of any day is the run.

By the way, I don't think there is a set order for these cycles/phases. I have gone in and out of the competition phase at least five times in my almost 52 years running. There is no set duration. I've comforted out for a few months, sometime longer. From the end of 2000 to the end of 2008, I sat in the Comfort phase knowing that I was in a place that really didn't allow me to devote the time and effort needed for competition or challenge. What's become important to me is understanding where I am and (most importantly) being okay there.

Right now, I like this Cornerstone phase. There's no need to dazzle anyone, no need to adhere to anyone else's expectations of me as a runner, and most importantly, no judgment of myself. I am a runner, albeit a slow one, but a runner nonetheless. Because I am firmly impeded in that, I can both celebrate and dismiss this 200 day streak. I like that!

Run on.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Isn't that the way it goes sometimes? 

So last week, after my Runspittle whinefest (http://runspittle.blogspot.com/2018/06/clarity-through-whining-makes-winning.html) , I actually had a pretty good running week. Got in 56 miles and some of them were as close to pain free as I think It could possibly be at this time. All in all, I was pretty jazzed up. A definite step forward. Then, it happened.

Sunday, we (my son Ryan and me) were moving some stuff from the garage to the basement in an attempt to make some room in several places in the house. Up and down the stairs with couch pieces, desks, and other assorted stuff. Now, I should mention here that I am pretty cautious on steps since my knee surgery. I go up carefully, and down gingerly. No hurry and no need to have an issue, right? Well, all of the actual moving went without a hitch. Then I was walking through the kitchen, just walking, and BAM..... knee totally buckled. Not good.

Immediately, I went in to monitoring mode as to whether something structural had happened. Didn't seem like it. So, ice was the answer (well, actually, frozen corn was the answer). I gimped around most of the evening hoping that the next day would be acceptable. Hmmmmm.... not so much. I Rock Taped myself and shuffled my way through four fairly uncomfortable miles (although slightly better than I expected) and spent most of the rest of the day frozen corning.

This morning I decided to head to Tagawa Gardens and run strictly soft on the trails around the area. I taped up (trying a new meniscus wrapping I had seen on youtube), and shuffled off again. I won't say there was no pain, but I will say it began better than yesterday. By two miles, it felt fairly normal, and after four I was tempted to keep going. Decided to NOT. Safety before miles, right? I'll be corning for the next few days to keep the inflammation in check (got some Great Value frozen corn wrapped around as I type). In the end, I'll chalk this up to it being an easy week.

In the meantime, there were some great races to monitor over the weekend. The USATF National Championships were on Thursday through Sunday and it was fun to follow some of my favorite athletes. Probably the best races were the 1500's. Both Men and Women had tight races with quite a bit of depth. Shelby Houlihan impressively beat Jenny Simpson on the women's side (and came back to win the 5000 meter run as well), and Matt Centrowitz pulled off one more tactically awesome victory. Was also excited to watch Evan Jager, Paul Chelimo, Lopez Lomong, Rachel Schneider, Courtney Frerichs, and others. Just fun to watch some track and field.

Then, there was the Western States 100 where Jim Walmsley finally had the WS100 that everyone knew he was capable of having. He broke the course record by over 16 minutes and defeated Francois D'haene by way over an hour (and he's one of the best in the world). Technology and great sites like www.irunfar.com make "watching" these races possible and ALOT of time was spent on Twitter refreshing updates.

So we trudge on ever so gingerly towards the next mile. I hope your miles are relaxed and fun.

Run on.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Clarity Through Whining Makes a Winning Combo

Only need one, actually
Two weeks ago, I ran the Dexter to Ann Arbor Half Marathon. It was okay. It was slow (that's what old, tired, fat guys do, they run slow). Mostly, it was eye-opening. I thought I could run faster. I didn't. Of course, I have been doing this long enough that I am quite aware that when you train slow, you race slow (and I train slow). So.... no surprise. The surprise (although it really isn't) is that I just don't care at this point.

It's been a year and a half since my knee surgery. While it isn't worse, it's certainly not much better. Every day is a mystery, not of WILL it hurt, but how much. Getting tired of that (by the way, if you read this and are wondering why I do not seek other medical help, that will never happen again. Every doctor I have ever seen for a running related issue has botched it up. Every one since Dr. Schroeder in the tenth grade. Don't get me wrong, I seen some good PA's, PT's, and some good Chiros. Doctors? You can have them..... all). 

Anyway, while running Friday in my favorite woods, clarity hit: this knee thing has drained me. I am no longer a fan of pretty much any kind of running discomfort. When the going gets tough and I get into discomfort, my option is don't fight, don't push, slow down. And the problem is that for the last year and a half, it is ALL discomfort. The result of this? No discomfort, no speed. No discomfort, no fast racing. But what's amazing is that once that awesome realization hit, I experienced a nice calming sort of feeling and see the running thing much more clearly than I have in quite some time. Mindset alteration in progress.....

By the way, without choosing to deal with discomfort, real racing is not an option. Racing, I said, not races. I can still shuffle my way through a 10K or a Half and have no issue with my detachment from "racing." Simple deal, mindset alteration. 

But some other things have to change too, if for nothing else, my own self-respect and sanity.

First and foremost: marathons. If I am uninterested in 13.1 miles of discomfort, who in the hell wants it for 26.2? Not me, that's for sure. SO, the Chicago Marathon? Probably not. I will more than likely defer my entry until 2019 and hope that by then maybe the mood will resurface. If not, that'll be okay too. Cal International in December? Doubt it.

I had a goal of finishing 26 of them. I'd like to think that I still might do that. Then again, maybe not. I'm okay either way.

Realization: I never really was a good marathoner. I've probably run three decent ones and the other 14 have just sucked: completely mediocre. Given my 15:09 5K, 32:21 10K, and 1:12 Half, my marathons should have always been faster. They weren't, and it's been decades of frustration until my present ah-ha moment: I am not a marathoner. FINALLY, I am okay with that. 

Next, you know what? No next. The rest of my issues are for me and you really don't want me to head down that road. Let's just say that it has been a very discouraging last couple of weeks as far as other parts of life are concerned (maybe disappointing is a better word). Suffice it to say that in my sunset years I will strive to make things easier and go out of my way not to get entangled into everyone else's bullshit. Too much of life is spent focused on the "wall of no control." No more.

In the meantime, Eliud Kipchoge's words are more meaningful than ever: "Run with the run."

Run on (your way).

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Enjoying a Little Kicking Back And.... the Bolder Boulder

Bolder Boulder 10K
With it having been a hair over a month since Eugene, I have been enjoying this time to sort of kick back and run some lowish miles and not think about much. The weeks have averaged 40-50 miles and with the exception of one tempo run, nothing significant has happened. 

Well, almost nothing, there was the Bolder Boulder. Once again I have followed the masses to a race with whom I have a Love/Hate relationship. Followed the masses? For more on that, read http://runspittle.blogspot.com/2012/02/zombies-cows-and-me.html. In the meantime.....

HATE. 1) I hate the crowded roads. Don't get me wrong, the Bolder Boulder has done a great job creating one of the most effective wave starting systems in the sport. And don't get me wrong, I love that so many people want to run the streets of the People's Republic of Boulder. It's just too crowded. That's all. 2) Hate might be a bit strong, but I've never cared for the course. Again... don't get me wrong, I love finishing in the stadium. The rest of it.... eh.... no big deal.

LOVE. The event. Despite all of my dislikes (and there are a bunch of other minor gripes I've neglected to write about), I Love the event itself. It's a place where people of ALL abilities are welcome, including pro racers. And ESPECIALLY.... it is a wonderful celebration of Memorial Day. No matter how the Bolder Boulder has evolved in the past 40 years, oner thing has stayed true: it is a Memorial Day extravaganza and that has yet to be forgotten.


Thank you, thank you very much
So anyway, I sort of ran the thing, was unable to breathe at any time, slapped a high five with Elvis, and that was enough for a Monday. Maybe next year I'll run this thing seriously, but I doubt it. My last serious BB 10K was in 2000 when I ran a hair over 41 minutes two days after a 1:25 half marathon in Michigan. Speaking of half marathons in Michigan, that's where I sit tonight: Michigan, awaiting tomorrow's Dexter to Ann Arbor Half Marathon.

I have run Dexter to Ann Arbor two other times. I ran the previously mentioned half marathon in 2000 and ran it when it was longer, the first one, in 1974. Now, let's get this right, the half marathon wasn't longer in 1974 (it's always been 13.1 miles - a half marathon). Originally, the race was a fifteen mile race. Maybe it's farther from Dexter to Ann Arbor than it used to be? Whatever.

It's this 13.1 mile jaunt that will be the springboard into my eighteen week buildup for October's Chicago marathon. Three six week macrocycles, each focused on a different training component. Hoping my knee improves, hoping to run well. We'll see, right? The beginning always supports optimism.

Nonetheless, here we go. Run on.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Post Eugene: Pre The Next One

One more sucky race photo
The euphoria of my Hayward Field finish wore off rather quickly. Having to rush out of an Airbnb and head for Portland to catch a flight home made for a harried day to say the least.

All in all, there were few post race effects. I was a bit sore for two days although nothing monumental, my toe still hurt from that unfortunate encounter with the root on Hollister Trail, and I seemed to have brought the rain home with me. Other than that, piece of cake.

This week's training had a built in back-off. I ran slow and easy Monday and Tuesday just to keep the blood flowing (not just from the race but also because of all the traveling the two weeks prior). Wednesday felt like a halfway decently normal day and the rest of the week fell into place. Plan: run consistent, not a lot, and slow.

All that changed Sunday as I was out on an 8 mile run and I got this idea in my head. "You say you're going to start training now, instead of just running, so how about a little tempo action?" I looked at my watch, saw that I had been going for about a mile and a half, so decided to 5-4-3-2-1 it (with apologies to Mel Robbins - or maybe not). Off I went.

I was not only unsure of the pace I should be running, but I wasn't completely sure of the duration. Also, only a vague idea of the heart rate. SO..... I relied on my past. In the old days, a tempo run was 18-22 minutes at a pace around your 10-13.1 race pace. Simple enough for me: 10:00 - 10:10 probably. 

By the way, nowadays we call so many different kinds of run TEMPO runs that it's become rather confusing. I'll rely on my two experts: Coach Joe Vigil and Jack Daniels (the coach, not the whiskey). 18-22 min at roughly VO2Max pace.

The first mile or so was labored and uncomfortable. Mile two eased up a bit but I could tell that after all this time of simply running, training would be a whole different feeling (you'd think that wouldn't be a surprise after 51 1/2 years). Nonetheless, the uncomfortable mile was around 10:24 (and mostly downhill - yikes, that's slow), the second a 10:04. My heart rate was around 154 during mile two, averaged 146 for the whole thing, and maxed out at 160. The heart rate aspect was okay. I should be tempo-ing around 155-158 for my age and fitness level. Then I got home and discovered, much to my chagrin, my pace should have been 9:50. Maybe next time.

The roughly four mile cooldown brought about two emotions: I was happy to have accomplished the first real workout in a long time, and a bit sad that just 18 years ago, 6:30 was tempo pace. (did he write JUST 18 years ago - Ha!). Of course, if you'd like to go WAY back, 45 years ago, we ran nothing slower than 6 minute pace. I digress.

Looking for a good week of training. Thinking I might jump in the Colfax Half in two weeks as it's a local race I have yet to run, and the Bolder Boulder 10K the week after. Then.... it's the Dexter to Ann Arbor Half on June 3 in Michigan a race I ran during its debut in 1974. THEN...... a summer of TRAINING for the fall racing season.

So, that's it. Have a great week. Run on.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Eugene Half: Passing Grade with Needs Improvement add-on

After a nice two weeks of training in the lovely State of Idaho, I was ready to face the always challenging prospect of "racing" the Eugene Half Marathon. What  follows is my evaluation of that race...

I rolled in to Portland early Friday morning after a late flight from Boise Thursday night netted me about 4 1/2 hours of sleep. Undaunted, I decided to have a little fun prior to race day. Just outside of Portland is the Nike World Headquarters and I needed to get in a run. Theoretically, the HQ (as we insiders like to call it) is designed to be strictly for the use of Nike athletes and employees. I figured this: I bought my first Nikes in 1975, if that doesn't make me a Nike athlete, I don't know what would.

I parked the car, emerged to grab some things from the trunk, and lo and behold, there is Nike superstudette Amy Cragg. I say, "Hi Amy!" Amy says HI and I notice she looks tired/cranky. I decide our conversation is over. Then it's off to run the Hollister Trail. Across the street from HQ, the Hollister is a 1.5 mile loop crushed rock trail that was (because it
was lunchtime) full of folks enjoying the trail. I get in just under 6 miles and then detour to the Michael Johnson track, surface of the stars. Amazingly, I get in a couple of laps without incident.

I say, without incident, but I guess there was ONE. About 3 miles into the run, I trip on a root and go down like a ton of bricks. A nice lady inquires about my well being, says I should be careful of those "root-snakes" and we move on. The fun doesn't end, however, back at the car it takes 20 minutes to find my wallet and then a usable bathroom for my bleeding knee.
Time to exit HQ.

Next stop is Eugene and a check in at a cozy little Airbnb place. I exchange pleasantries with the owner and get settled in. What next? Maybe a quick stop at the expo to pick up my number and a swing-by at Hayward Field to check it out.

The Expo was okay, as Expos go. I loved the Oregon Track Club booth (I AM a member,
you know), was disappointed with the sizing of the mediocre race T Shirt, but okay with the overall days happenings. After a tasty meal at the Agate Alley Bistro, bright and early, I am off to dreamland.

Other than a fabulous 8 mile run on Pre's Trail, Saturday was uneventful. I poked around the Expo a little more, went to the Eugene Running Company, and mostly laid around. But Pre's Trail, made the day. I love that trail and simply couldn't stop running. It is the embodiment of one of America's greatest runners and it's a shame he never saw his vision firsthand (Steve Prefontaine died about four months before the trail opened). It was packed with a nice mix (probably) of out of towners and locals. Then...... it happened.

I was slipping out after sundown to grab some bananas for the morning when I opened the fence and bam! A mosquito flew straight into my mouth. I tried desperately to both swallow and/or hack him out. Neither was easy. Finally, I figured I had beaten the monster. Now, the only thing that remained was careful monitoring to see if 1) he has stung me in the throat, 2) it would swell to the size of a melon, and 3) I wouldn't be able to breathe come morning. And West Nile....... don't get me started.


I awoke bright and early on race morn, drove to the shuttle lot and proceeded to have forgotten my wallet. Thinking it would come in handy post race, I blitzed it back to Casa de Eugene, retrieved it (wallet issues this weekend?), and made it with time to spare. After a mile warm-up, I moved quickly to Corral E for the start.

When it said, Corral E, on my number I didn't think much of it. WRONG!!! Corral E was the last group to leave. Filled with walkers and people who appeared much slower than even me (which is not an easy task), I cursed my stupidity at not checking out the corral when I moved my entry from the Marathon to the half. Live and learn, right?

Then, the race began. It was right as the first Corral departed that I completely reduced my expectations for the day. Fortunately I was wrong. While my first half mile was a testament to lateral movement and supreme coordination (passed in about 6 and a half minutes), I found some room on the side of the road and began moving.

The course was fine, hillier than I thought, and my pace was even. I have no exciting moments to share (although I hear I butt dialed everyone from my phone -21 times to be exact). I kept a good steady pace, never going beyond that semi-comfort/discomfort place of early pacing. I never felt great, but never felt lousy either. 


My goal was to run 2:15. I ran 2:13:30. Heart rate 154, which is indicative of my semi-effort. The best part was finishing on the Hayward Field Track. A decent crowd was in the stands and along the side and it made for an epic finish. I captured the 200 meters via video and will not torture you with the contents.

All in all, it was what I wanted; an honest evaluation of my current fitness. The realization is that my next move needs to go from running to training. My next big test is the Dexter to Ann Arbor Half on June 3. I ran the first Dex to AA run in 1974. We have history. I'd love to get in sub 2:00 shape by then.

Well, after two weeks on the road and a plethora of exciting experiences during the Tour de Teaching Idaho and the Eugene Half, I'm happy to head home. In the meantime, Run with the Run.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

On the Road Again

Even the river has traffic signs
Seven short days until the Eugene Half Marathon. Excited? Well, no, not really and with pretty good reason.....there's no time to be excited.

For just over a week now, I have been on the Tour de Teaching Idaho. It's a twelve day journey in one of my favorite states doing what I love a bunch, teaching me some real estate agents. I figured the Tour, or should I call it Le Tour, would really cramp my training but it hasn't. In fact, I had a good week, this last one, of 63 miles.

There's nothing significant about any of the runs. Well, that's not entirely true, as a couple of them were downright good. But, first and foremost, it has been a week of River Trail runs. I've been on the Boise River trail, the Snake River Canyon trail, and now the Spokane River trail. I'll confess that while there is little overly challenging about the river trail, it makes for good, simple, usually close to the hotel running. And, I like good, simple, and close.
Sunrise on the Snake River Canyon trail

It's also been a week of watching marathons while on the road. Boston was Monday and I will confess to having it live streaming on my iPad in my podium while teaching Pricing Strategies (didn't miss a beat, either - on either). And this morning, London, and the great Eliud Kipchoge. Never ceases to amaze me how easy he makes it look.

As previously insinuated, a couple of the runs felt great. A nine miler Wednesday morning in Twin Falls left me wanting even more. Just felt easy, smooth, and paced. I don't get those kinds of runs that often so I LOVE it when it happens. Then, this morning (Sunday) I must have been channeling my inner Kipchoge as I actually threw in a bit of a 20 minute tempo during 11 miles. SICK (that's good sick, not like, ill sick)!

On the other hand, my knee has had good days and bad. When it's good, I feel like I am getting in better shape and might be able to put together a good 13.1 mile effort in Eugene. When it's bad, I just want to give up on this whole "racing" thing, stop over-spending on entry fees, and be a slow, casual, jogger dude. Oooops, getting the Debbie Downer thing going. Sorry.

So, three more teaching days then back home for a quick night in Denver. Then off to Eugene. We'll see how that goes.....

Run with the run.



Sunday, April 8, 2018

Mostly Boring, But One Cool Thing...

There are a couple of things I've rarely enjoyed: Uphill and into the wind. Today there was too much of both. My 16 mile run was on the usual rolling terrain but had the added attraction of wind. Not just a little wind. 20-25 MPH of headwind for the first 9 miles. By the time I had the tailwind, I felt as though I had been beaten into submission. BUT, it's over and for the most part, I'm over IT!

So with three weeks until the Eugene HALF Marathon, yep committed to the half, I've logged 61 and 63 miles the last two weeks. I'm planning on bumping that a bit (or keeping it right there) this coming week before backing off in the two weeks prior. Am I peaking? Hell, no. I'm not even in shape, what would I peak? The two weeks prior to Eugene, I am on a whirlwind (there's that word WIND again) teaching tour of Idaho. Those kind of trips  automatically reduce my mileage anyway, so it comes at a good time.

That brings us to the cool thing.

I have a nine day teaching trip in Michigan in June. I decided to see if there were any races while I was in town. It turns out that June 3, 2018, is the 45th running of the Dexter to Ann Arbor race. Originally a fifteen mile race, it is now a Half-Marathon. I ran the half in 2000. Interestingly, I ran the fifteen miler on year 1...... 1974!

Yep, that picture at the top is me (#125) standing at the starting line ready to blast it out in
beautiful downtown Dexter. Ended up 14th, running the 15 miles in 1:25:58. Also, interestingly. I ran almost the exact same time for the Half in 2000 at the ripe old age of 48.

I received some type of award (that's the second picture - nice hairband). They must have given medals to the top fifteen or twenty in the race. Who knows? I do however, still have that medal.

So, I'm pretty excited to add the Dex-AA Half to my modest racing schedule, which so far, looks like this:


April 29              Eugene Half Marathon
May 28              Bolder Boulder 10K
June 3               Dexter to Ann Arbor Half Marathon
July 29              San Francisco Marathon (a BIG maybe at this point)
August 11         Georgetown to Idaho Springs Half Marathon
September 3     Fortitude 10K
October 7         Chicago Marathon
December 2     Cal International Marathon

Everything seems to be holding up so far. The knee is pretty okay most days and as long as that remains the trend, I'm good with that.

Hopefully all is well in your world. As Eliud would say, "run with the run."

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Ouch! And where was Jenny?

After an amazingly good running week, I thought I would save the best for the end. I thought, somewhere in my twisted mind, that it would be a good idea to run Magnolia Road today. And to make things worse, I decided to run from the West end. I say worse because West to East means UPhill on the way back. Maybe not my best decision. Nonetheless, the decision was made. (now as an asterisk to this West start, I should add that my son Ryan drove and in order for him to get in his own activity - some fishing on the Boulder Creek and Barker Reservoir - a Western start was deemed most practical - by me).

The first few miles went nice and easy (after the initial break in period) with me mostly calculating each downhill I met knowing full well that the downhill would be an uphill on the way back. My run began at roughly 8:30 am and there was pretty much no one else on the road, except car drivers acting like this high altitude dirt road was the Indy 500 track. As I trudged on, more and more runners emerged and the traffic increased. And the drivers acted no better as the run continued.

The run began with a healthy breeze following me from the west. Noting (again) that I would be returning on this same stretch of road (UPhill) I was dismayed to think that the trip back would be UPhill AND into the wind. Perfect.


"The Hill" is that little stretch of road off in the distance
I got into a decent rhythm during miles 4 to 6+ and then hit "the hill." "The hill" is usually the final mile of the return trip when Mags is run from an East starting point. I have to confess that I took this mile long UP better than usual, mostly because I was running it considerably earlier than usual. Once I hit the pavement at the top I kept going a bit to get in 16, instead of the dirt road's out and back 15 miles.

The trip DOWN "the hill" was awesome. I might have even gone a bit too fast. In theory this quick pace should have been the boost needed to catapult me up the steep first hill back. While theory is awesome, reality is different. This began what we runners like to call a "bad patch" that lasted until about the 10 mile mark. Once at 10, I unexpectedly fell into a "good patch" (gotta love those). My good patch lasted until about 13 1/2. BY the way, another upside was that after about two miles of the return trip, the wind shifted. The rest of the way it varied between cross wind and tail wind (awesome climatic break).

At about 13 1/2, every little UPhill became a pain. And some of them were some steep little (big) pains. To say that the wheels came off my little wagon might be an understatement. You see, the thing about Magnolia Road is that there is no flat. At any given time, you're either running UP or down. As the elevation map at the beginning of this offering shows, it's mostly UP going back. So I pressed on, enjoying the occasional down and being reduced to a whining, slogging, jog on the UPhills. Then it happened.

In the distance after cresting yet another hill, I saw a familiar figure walking along the road. Turns out that Ryan had been hiking around some trails awaiting my return. He said, "you have less than a mile to go." (I knew that) I said, "and there's only one hill left, RIGHT?" "Yep." YAY! BONUS: company till the end. So we moved on.

I confess to having walked at the steepest part of that final UP, but was happy to crest it and enjoy the final quarter mile or so of downhill to the finish. All in all, I had lived through a 16 mile run on Magnolia Road.

Unfortunately, I never saw Jenny Simpson. I was hoping for a Jenny encounter to match my last solo Mags run (http://runspittle.blogspot.com/2016/03/magnolia-road-lives-up-to-its.html). And to make matters worse, upon arriving home, I discovered that World Steeplechase Champion Emma Coburn went long and hilly today, but did it on Gold Hill Road. Damn!

So with Magnolia Road in the bank, I logged 65 miles this week, many of which were awesome. I've cleaned up my diet a bunch and actually lost 5 pounds this week. That's a mere blip on the radar screen of what needs to be lost, but we have to start somewhere.

Five weeks to the Eugene Marathon which will most probably be a Half Marathon (most probably means 99% sure). After today, that sounds SO much more appealing.

So, thanks for reading, feel free to converse below and run on. Or as Eliud would say, "Run with the run."

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Holding Back?

It's been two weeks since I last wrote about this running thing. All in all, I won't complain (notice I said won't, not can't). After 50 miles two weeks in a row, I logged 55 this week. That was equal to my best week in all of 2017 and it was pretty much uneventful. My knee sits consistently at a 2 on the 10 scale of pain. That would come under the heading of slightly annoying.

I suppose the semi-highlight of the week was the 16 mile long run yesterday. After two weeks at 14, bonking big time on both of them, I was very happy to cruise through the run. Even better was today's 7 mile recovery run during which I had to constantly hold myself back to recovery pace. Not sure I'm used to feeling TOO good, right?

Slowly I'm coming out of slogging pace and starting to actually feel as if I am, at least, kind of running. There is a long way to go, but I like these little jumps in fitness. They're a great motivator.

The Eugene Marathon is six weeks away. I suppose, I'm going to have to quit referring to it as that and call it the Eugene Half. 90% sure I'll be dropping down. Interestingly, this comes at a time when I am actually beginning to believe that I could run the whole thing. While feeling that renewed little confidence to go 26.2, I know that I am much better off in the long run (pun intended) by holding back and just doing the Half. I'm enjoying training right now and don't need the disruption of pre-marathon stuff dimming my attitude.

SO, Eugene HALF, probably Bolder Boulder, maybe Georgetown to Idaho Springs, and whatever.... leading up to October and the Chicago Marathon. Chicago is followed eight weeks later by the Cal International Marathon to close what I hope to be a fun year.

Until next time, as Eliud would say: run with the run.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Turning the Corner?

So maybe, just maybe, we turned the corner last week. First off, it was a 50 mile week. I haven't had one of those since October of last year and actually only had 6 weeks in all of last year at 50+. Next, a 13 mile run on Saturday. 13 isn't 18 or 20 or more, but it's a long run for now and since the word "long" is relative anyway, I'm happy with it.

The real upside is that I'm actually on runs right now, as opposed to the jogs I've been on the last couple of months. The 13 mile run was at 1:30 per mile faster than I have been doing my regular runs and I wasn't really pushing at all. That's a good thing. Probably also means I run my regular runs too slow.

So with a hair less than eight weeks until the Eugene Half or Full marathon, I'm making zero decisions for another month. Just going to run.

Busy week coming with four days of all day teaching and three days on the road. The goal is to keep the mileage up as that is always the business traveling challenge. I have hopes of the 55 mile week. We'll see.

So that's it. As Eliud says, "run with the run." Run on.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Wind, Woods, Emerson

Well, long story short, I ran 45 miles this week. It's not the 50 I was planning on but frankly, I'm pretty okay wth it. It was a week of 5 and 6 mile runs mostly with a 10 thrown in yesterday. It was the ten, that defined the week.

I did the usual thing I do in the morning looking out the window at a nearby flag to see how the wind was blowing. Hardly any. Then, again as usual, I check the temperature: 20 degrees, a freakin' heat wave compared to the past few days. So, I throw on my long sleeve shirt, grab a light wind breaker and head out the door. Five steps out, I make a decision: Overdressed. Back inside I trade the windbreaker for a light fleece vest. Big mistake.

For loops between 7 and 10 miles, I go the same way almost every time. It's out the door, down Chambers to Belleview; Belleview to Parker and then into the Cherry Creek State Park at Temple St. It's pretty much downhill all the way into the park and a route I've been running for 10 years. Once in the park the shortest loop is 7. If I go into the woods (my favorite spot) it can go on for up to ten miles according to how I run the trails. Actually, I suppose it could go much longer if I chose to double loop. I rarely do.

I love the woods. I've run in a great many awesome places (see http://runspittle.blogspot.com/2018/01/thanks-runningusa-im-inspired-to-reflect.html for a list), but I have a thing for the woods. In high school, the last half mile of our cross country course in Elizabeth Park was in the woods. In college, the same thing in Rouge Park in Detroit. The goal was always the same in the woods, don't get passed. In high school: never. In college: once.  I digress.

The best thing about the woods is how no matter how busy the surroundings might be, there is serenity in the woods. Emerson wrote:  “In the woods, we return to reason and faith.” Dude was right. Whatever is wrong in the world can be fixed in the woods. Maybe not fixed in the world, but fixed in my head. And after all, the world is in our heads.

So this day in the woods, the noise began. First a steady WHIRRRR through the tops of the trees, followed by real live wind cutting right between every tree. Well, THAT doesn't happen very often, I thought. Serenity gone. Then, it got even noisier. By the time I'd half looped my favorite loop, it sounded like one heck of a wind. And it was.

Normally, on a windy day I'd prefer to just stay in the woods and run in the protection of the trees. Maybe I can get airlifted out, right? Not so on the ten miler. Protection had given way to a very different swirling kind of wind. Strange. I did know, however, that once I emerged from the woods, unless something weird had happened, there would be a tailwind home. And there was.

Tailwinds are nice. The best ones give you just enough push to make a pace easier or faster without being a nuisance. This tailwind was not so nice. Yeah, it pushed, but at the same time, it was cold and a little inconsistent. Where's my windbreaker? And it just kept getting stronger. 

The great thing about emerging from the woods is that I was halfway home. Halfway is good because there is pretty much no turning back into it from there (wind pun intended although very lame). So I just went with it. The final half of the run was on an auto-pilot kind of thing that bounces between association and disassociation. I'm there, but not. Running, but maybe not. Pretty much just focused on getting home. And, I made it.

My knee is coming along pretty well (and pretty well/good is the new awesome). Most runs would be classified as somewhere between 1.5 and 3 on the 10 point pain scale. Given the miles on the poor thing, 1.5 might be as good as it gets. Nonetheless, one run at a time.

Looking to log 50 next week and then make some "racing" decisions. 

Life's better when we run. Run on.



Sunday, February 18, 2018

My Run With Eliud Kipchoge (grossly exaggerated)

Those of you who frequent this blog offering vividly remember my run with Jenny Simpson (grossly exaggerated). You can find it at http://runspittle.blogspot.com/2016/03/magnolia-road-lives-up-to-its.html . Well this morning, even more grossly exaggerated, was my run with marathon G.O.A.T. Eliud Kipchoge. I say MORE grossly because at least Jenny was on the same road as me..... like, IN PERSON. My run with Eliud was a dabbling into the Nike Run App and an audio run.

First things first, if you've never done a Nike audio run before, it's kind of lame. Not lame in that it's a completely bad idea, and not lame in that Eliud didn't have some great things to say. It's lame to really think that you're running with Eliud Kipchoge. Having said that, maybe it's not so lame as I run often with the likes of Gary Vaynerchuk, Tony Robbins, Seth Godin. And they don't even talk to me about running. Hmmmm....

In my 52nd year of running, I've pretty much heard it all. Kipchoge, however, is the Zen Master. While chatting some about how he got started and while being questioned by "Coach" Bennett, his answers were the stuff documentaries are made of. But when pontificating on issues like why he loves running and what he thinks about out there, the Zen Master was awesome. My favorite Kipchogeism:

"Run with the run."

Eliud only made it an hour. Unfortunately, I needed to run for an hour and 45 minutes or so. I had to leave him behind. Sorry Eliud. I have to confess this to you folks: I actually ran better than I have in a long time (must have been the company). Thanks Eliud.

So long story short, the week was okay. 44 miles. The plan says next week at 50. We'll see about the Eugene Marathon. There's ten weeks to go and my mileage should be in the 65-70 range right now. On 45 year old knees, I'd say NO sweat, BUT.....  So, I'm contemplating a drop to the half marathon. Whatever. No decision needs to be made that soon.

My knee has felt better this week than it has since last summer (and for sure since my surgery warranty ran out  http://runspittle.blogspot.com/2017/12/trash-2017-and-one-year-warranties-suck.html ). I'd rate the discomfort as a 3 on the 10 scale and today, probably a 2. I have another week where I don't travel so I'm hoping to make even more progress.

So, here's that one step forward thing. All I'd like is to keep stepping FORward.

Run with the run.


Sunday, February 11, 2018

One Step Forward, One Step Out of Water

My frustration with this running thing is getting to be a pretty consistent thing. I literally had nothing to write a week ago and am merely faking it today. 

The two weeks have been 41 and 37 miles and while I suppose I should be happy to have run everyday, I'm pretty discouraged. Feel like a fish out of water.

Also: am NOT a whiner. So done here.

Run on.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

If You Thought Last Week Sucked.....

The real long road of running
WOW! Another crappy running week. 34 miles. No long run. No tempoish run. Not much fun. Too many runs in the dark. 

The culprit? Work.

Work? Yep, work. In case you don't know, I train/teach/facilitate/instruct sales courses (mostly real estate, but other industries too). I've really only ever done two things in my work life; teaching and real estate. When I am working, it usually means one of two things: I am actually in front of a group of people (anywhere from 12 to 1200), OR I am preparing for being in front of a group of people. When prepping, the running thing is easy. With a little self-discipline and effort, "being" a runner is a piece of cake. I get up (usually between 5 and 6), I work for a few hours, I run, then I work. Life is simple. Life is easy.

When actually fronting my work, it's a different story. Those days the work is rigidly scheduled and runs must fit around the work. Half the year that means running when it's dark or cold, or dark and cold. It means running when I'm groggy or running when I'm tired. Tired is, at this stage of my life, an understatement. When I am in front of a group, I work, and I work hard. If you're in my audience, you get all of me. I pour it out to you. And these are most often full day or two day courses/classes. So, there's not much left, I'm tired. 

By the way, if I were younger: 35, or 42, or even 50, this burning of the candle at both ends might not be as big a deal. At 66, however, with 111,000 miles on the transport mechanism, it is. AND..... with age comes slowing, which means it takes LONGER to get in the miles. When I was in my twenties, a one hour run yielded 10 miles (or more). Today, not as many. That takes time, and TIME is the critical variable. I know you know this, but there are 24 hours in the day and I, or you, have yet to figure out how to create more (I'm working on that, but even Einstein, Edison, or Gates failed on that one).

Don't get me wrong. I AM NOT COMPLAINING (Did I emphasize that enough?)! The lack of time is a wonderful bi-product of being busy, really busy, and the beginning of this year has exploded. In all of last year, I taught 79 days. So far, on this writing January 28th, I have 74 already booked, and I haven't really begun focusing on the booking thing. I think that's absolutely awesome because I LOVE what I do and I love placing my wife and myself in a better financial position. It also means, however, that choices must be made; priorities must be shuffled. It's all about adaptability: physical, mental, emotional.

In the end, I run less and maybe, just maybe, I'm not as prepared for that race as I'd like to be, or maybe, as in the case of the Canyonlands Half in Moab in March, I have to skip it. I think I'm okay with that. At least for now. I think..... maybe.

In the course of 51 1/2 years, my relationship with my running has been an always evolving thing. I've run to win, I've run to race, I've run for weight loss, I've run for sanity, I've run to think, I've run to create. I've run, at times, for all of the above all at the same time. In the end, what's most significant to me is that I've run. And...... I will tomorrow.

Run on.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Snow Day? No Way! AND..... a Lousy/Busy Week AND.... The Return of the CAT

It has been a moderately crappy/busy/uneventful week. Not in all aspects, by the way, mostly just in the running arena. On the whole, life is great and I am extremely work busy. That is a good thing. 

When I am busy, it usually means I'm traveling. If I'm not cross country traveling, it's metro Denver traveling. Frankly, that's the worst kind. Flying somewhere and scheduling runs on the road is, for the most part, easy. I book flights to accommodate my life/running, book hotels near running places, and schedule time to get it done! Around town, though, the 1+ hour drive to get to a class 45 minutes ahead of time, can make for some EARLY morning running. This week was that week (meaning that two of the runs were the 5 am type), the one where every drive was long and running was something done in the darkness. Nonetheless, 38 miles AND..... a self proclaimed recovery week (it was supposed to be next week, but whatever, right?).

BY the way, I'm not complaining, or if I am, TOO BAD, because my schedule is flat out crazy until the end of May. It is my hope, of course, that by the time May arrives, the schedule will be jam packed until December. That is the nature of trying to run a successful business: work happens. I will adjust, knowing that light will slowly come to the morning a little earlier, and my ailing knee will feel better so that I get in more miles per hour. 

All is good. Actually GREAT!

My 38 miles this week were moderately spread even. Four days of 5 miles, one 3, and a 7 and an 8. Nothing spectacular, just trying to stay in the habit and log some miles. I'm also venturing into what I lovingly call the Pit of Misery, the basement. It's where the workout crap resides: that stuff that helps us work on strength, core, flexibility. And I need, D) all of the above.

So, today my run was highlighted by a so called winter storm warning: snow. In the park, or anywhere devoid of cars, winter running is what it was today: FUN! Snow, crispy cold, breaking the trail, plodding along...... FUN. I had an absolute blast today trudging along the trail and logging the miles when no one else was out there. I can't imagine retreating to the dreadmill just because of some snow (unless, of course speedwork or a tempo of some kind were scheduled). Snow Day? No Way!

The fun, however, ends when needing to "share the road" with our vehicular friends. In fact, fun can lead to sad, scary, bad news, accident.

In the public interest, I submit and oldie, but a goodie RunSpittle post, the C.A.T. system. The C.A.T. is my little system for staying safe when I need to be out there with those crazy, lovable drivers during snowy conditions. Here you go:



The C.A.T. System.  I approach my winter run with two irrefutable rules: 1) Vehicle vs. Rich = Rich loses (the same goes for you), and 2) something I taught my sons at a young age, for your safety, you assume that if someone is behind the wheel of a vehicle, they are an asshole. In deference to those rules, I run the sidewalk whenever I can. Often times, especially when the storm is happening during the run, the street can be the safest place. It is that occurrence that activates the C.A.T. System.


C. Car.  I ALWAYS run FACING traffic. I joke that I do this because I want to see the look on the drivers face when he/she hits me. In reality I face traffic because, yes, I want to see them but mostly because I want them to see me seeing them. As a vehicle approaches, I try to identify something about it. Is it an SUV, a truck, a little compact car? Right off the bat, I equate the type of car with the driver's potential ability to maneuver. Next I check speed and control. Is their speed appropriate for the conditions? Are they under control? If any of these checks create nervousness, I retreat to the sidewalk or anywhere well off the road.

A. Awareness. Once the car has been evaluated, I look at the driver to see their level of awareness. Are they on the phone? Do they appear to be seeing me? Do they look petrified? Often I will wave at them (a hello wave, not some other gesture) to capture some semblance of awareness. The other part of awareness of course is activating my own heightened awareness. I don't wear headphones when I run, but if I did, I surely wouldn't be doing it on the winter street run. By the way, just following the C.A.T. System will elevate your own awareness. Again, if their lack of awareness or my own nervousness about them sends me a red flag, I retreat.

T. Tires.  C and A have taken all of a couple of seconds. Most often the car has to be evaluated and awareness activated very quickly. In traffic (more than one vehicle coming), I multi-evaluate. Finally, as the vehicle gets closer, I lock in my sight and complete awareness to the TIRES. It's mighty difficult for that vehicle to slide your way without the wheels locking, so my eyes become totally fixed on the tires. I've escaped a few incidents in my time because I saw it coming before even the driver knew it was happening. Any indication of locking wheels or a loss of control sends me retreating as well, and as you can imagine, QUICKLY. The biggie here is simple: PAY ATTENTION and assume they are not.

Mostly, remember our formula.... Vehicle vs. You = You Lose! 100%.

Run on (carefully).

Sunday, January 14, 2018

T Minus 15: BORING!

T-minus fifteen weeks until the Eugene Marathon and I have to say that this week has created a more hopeful attitude about the journey ahead. While it was far from a perfect week, it has ended on a high note and for that I am thankful. Yesterday (Saturday) I ran 10 miles. I wasn't supposed to, theoretically it was scheduled as an 8 mile run. But I just felt so darned good that I kept going.

This 10 miles wasn't a PR (don't think I'll ever run 51:45 again), it wasn't even anywhere close to being fast. What is turned out to be was a run of 10 miles without significant knee pain. Haven't had one of those for a while.

What this means, hopefully, is that slowly the knee re-therapy is beginning to take effect. Not like, I'm ready to run a marathon tomorrow, take effect. More like I might actually be able to train for one. AND..... After appreciable effort and a plethora of youtube videos, I have found the Rock Tape protocol that seems to work best. Looking at the taping as a short term psycho boost. For now, I'll take that.

All in all, 43 miles logged and building to 45-48 next week. Feeling confident about a mileage increase as the last four days were 7, 4, 10, 7 with no ill effects. Hoping to stay on a healthy path.

Boring this week? Yep, sometimes it is. Not a fan of drama anyway.

Run on.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Every-Other-Step at a Time

I know from experience that it will be this way for a while: the fear, the gingerness (is that a word?), the focus on each and every time my left foot hits the earth and engages everything that happens up to and beyond my tender knee. Am I slapping my foot down with too much force? Is it going to buckle THIS time? Have I maneuvered one more every-other-step on the road to pain free? Scary stuff when it's your knee. Scary stuff when it feels out of your (my) control. Scary stuff, this every-other-step fixation.

So, this first week of 2018 is in the training log and all is progressing "nicely." Nicely means this: the goal was to run every day, log 35 miles, do my "square one" knee exercises consistently, and get in a run of 7 miles. The actual week was 38 miles with a 7 AND an 8 thrown in for good measure. So, I'll take it. In fact, the 8 mile run, which was today, was highlighted by feeling BETTER as the run went from 2 miles to the end.

I consider one of my strengths to be self-awareness. Self-Awareness comes in several packages: physiological, emotional, cognitive, spiritual. And while it's often easier for an athlete, a long time runner, to be physiologically self aware, I think I have taken this to an entirely new stratosphere. 

I DO NOT, you see, want another knee problem. And, while straddling this fine line between strengthening my knee and using my knee to do this thing I love to do, I'm finding my conscious fixation (translated: OVER fixation) with every other step to be absolutely fascinating (in a weird way). Foot strike becomes really significant; the running surface becomes really significant; flat, uphill, or downhill becomes really significant. Every-other-step becomes really significant.

I guess in a way, this is an easy thing. After all, every-other-step means I have this over-fixation just 50% of the time. The other half, I have off, right? Well, I'm finding that assertion to be false as preparation for the next foot strike becomes almost as big an obsession as the actual foot strike. Wow, sounds exhausting. WAY better than sitting on the couch, though.

Next week is supposed to be a 40-42 week. Hoping for a double digit longer run next weekend, AND..... with sixteen weeks to go until my re-entry in marathon world, it's time to get serious about visits to the pit of misery. But, more on that later.

Thanks for reading. Run on. Oh AND....... saw this today and loved it: