Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Future Running Buddy?

It's been a long time since Bosco was around. Back in the 80's, my Old English Sheepdog Bosco would go with me on the occasional running journey. His claim to fame was that one time, he went 18 miles. Four weeks ago, and after a long, long time of contemplating a dog purchase, we found Bosco's replacement...... Winston.

Winston (pictured) is an English Cream Retriever and is already showing promise as a future running buddy. He loves to tag along when we break into a run AND.... according to the All Things Dogs website, "English Cream Retrievers should run for 1 hour/day." Perfect.

As for the human running, I am still working my way through mile after mile. The pace remains pedestrian in the mid 12 minutes per mile area with an occasional easy day easing to the 13's. While that may seem monstrously slow, I find that the effort is becoming easier each day. Hopefully we keep improving on that pace. And with the "chase the tennis ball" fartleks being thrown into the mix, quicker moving is inevitable.

Mileage-wise, as many readers of this blog know, I consider it a "serious" year when I get in 2000 miles. Well, as of today, Sep 14, we are at 1906 and counting, The hope is that we are on the way to a very seriously good year.

Races? We don't need no stinking races!!! Having said that, I'm thinking about the Hot Chocolate 15k for simple something to do with some other running type people.

All in all, and in no way emblematic of this space, I have no complaints (well, at least not about this topic.... tax increases, pandemics, do nothing legislature, bad roads, crabby people.... plenty to complain about there. Don't get me started).

Nevertheless...... run on.

Saturday, August 14, 2021

55 Years!!! This running thing is pretty great!

Two days ago, August 12th was my 55th runnerversary. Amazing how the time flies, but also amazing how some things remain constant. Near as I can figure, the only things I've done for over 55 years has been be alive (and all of the stuff that goes with that (breathing, pumping blood, etc...) and being my Brother's Brother.

There are MANY posts on this Blog site that celebrate various running milestones of mine, so if you're looking for something reflective, it would be there. For me, I am in the present, and so much so lately that I actually missed my runnerversary, and that is rare. I guess it's mostly the fault of my new future running companion, but that's another story as little English Cream Retriever, Winston, is only 9 1/2 weeks old and a ways away from hitting the trails.

SO.... the present. It's going to be about a 58-60 mile week. This has been a back-off kind of week after three in the 70's. It's been a nice little "run" getting in some decent miles. If I could only get the strength thing and the diet dialed in, that would be awesome (oh well, always something to self-gripe about). At this moment, I have logged 1647 miles for the year and have yet to miss a day (probably shouldn't say that, but I'm not one of those jinx people anyway). Those miles should put on track for 2700 for the year, BUT..... if we have the knee surgery in December, those miles will have to wait.

All in all, I am presently 26 miles short of 118,000 for my career, so there's that. Keeping plugging towards the next big goal of 200,000 kilometers (124,274 1/4 miles).

Didn't work much in July, so had ample time to absorb all of those Olympic moments. THAT, however, will be for a blog post another day.

So, run on and keep having fun. tTake it from me, this running thing is pretty great!

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

3 Wrong Moves and BOOM, it's 18 Miles

All I really wanted to do was go somewhere different for a longer run. After much geo-wrestling, I decided on an old route from my Boulder days. So, South Boulder Creek trail, across Hwy 93, UP to the Mesa Trail and a short loop, then down. Couldn’t really remember, but I thought 12-14 miles.

Upon crossing 93 and starting up the hill, I decided to take a single track trail which I thought might be a shortcut. 

Wrong move #1. It took me UP the hill, but was by no means a shortcut. Once up the hill I found a sign that pointed to the Mesa trail. I took it. 

Wrong move #2, It took me too far North. It seemed like FOREVER to actually get to the Mesa trail. Then after struggling to the Mesa trail (and I haven’t run it in 15 years probably), and a LONG way along it, I looked for the move DOWN the hill. Missed it. 

Wrong move #3. So I ran nearly the entirety of the Mesa trail before I found a way down.

Three wrong moves, and in the end, an 18 mile run. My legs are shot, but part of me is proud. I was out there running for over 4 1/2 hours on a knee that was supposed to be replaced a year and a half ago. Oh, did I mention that I ran out of water at about 3 hours. (also of note, actually got the nerve to ask five runners and cyclists who had finished their jaunts if they could spare a bit of water....... no, no, no, no, no. Thanks comrades). Better planning needed. HA!

While as tiring as any marathon I’ve ever run (with the exception of 1979 Pikes Peak), it was equally satisfying. I mean, I’m almost 70 years old, what the hell was I doing? Answer: Having a blast. Like many blasts, I may regret it tomorrow. I’ll jump off that bridge when I get to it.

Side notes
: the Mesa trail is rougher than 15 years ago and way rougher than the first time I ran it in 1980. Must be all those thousands upon thousands wearing it down. AND Boulder has changed immensely since I lived here in the 90’s. The one, and only thing I miss, are the trails.

The big side note is that I lived to tell about this. Monday, I was a hair stiff, had a higher than usual resting heart rate (55 instead of 48) and still managed 9 miles. Today...... well, today there were no aftereffects so I went another 10.

Amazingly, my knee feels pretty good. I've made some stride adjustments to keep my foot from landing too far forward, thus reducing the possibility of a pop or buckle (see: http://runspittle.blogspot.com/2020/09/pops-and-buckles-what-happens-to-my-knee.html). And it has REALLY helped. Also hoping more weight loss will further aid this progress.

All in all, I won't complain. The middle of 2021 is going well and despite some wrong turns, it's all good.

Friday, July 23, 2021

The Happy Post

Having perused my last few blog posts, I decided it was time to post after a good run, when I was feeling optimistic (not that I am pessimistic, ever, but sometimes this blog has becomes an outlet for the bad side of my current running journey). So, here it is: The Happy Post. 

I ran ten this morning. Five days into the week, my mileage is sitting at 47, so easily this will be another 60+ mile week. My 10 was at 13:07 pace which, while very slow, it's part of a slow progression for me during 2021. I began this year barely "running" at 15 minute pace. The lack of stability in my knee made every step an adventure not knowing how it would land. Incrementally, the 15 minute miles became 14:30, then under 14, then lower. I actually remember a couple of weeks ago being excited about a run that averaged under 13 like it was really cool (well, it was...... for me). Well, today, I didn't notice it. Didn't notice it? Yep, today after the run, I texted my wife, Linda, and said "ran ten easy." She said, "How was your knee?" I said, "I didn't notice." That's a good answer.

So, the last four weeks have been, in terms of mileage: 60, 63, 63, 56. That's a nice month. For the year, we are at 1433. That's more than ALL of 2019. I like it!

It's got me thinking about a few "races" this fall. Not races like see how fast we can go. Mostly races to be back out with the other people who love to do this crazy thing I love to do. Maybe Fortitude on Labor Day (a 10K), maybe something else...... not sure exactly what that looks like yet.

Is every run awesome? Well, yes and no. Every run is awesome from the standpoint of just being out there. Do they all feel awesome? Not at all. I still have very bad knee days. I still think that eventually this crabby little thing will have to be replaced. On the whole, however, I'm a pretty happy fella.

Thus, the Happy Post.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Where Am I Supposed to Be?

Where am I supposed to be right now? Olympic Trials in the new Hayward Field.

Why am I not there? Politics.

More on that later, or maybe not.

So I have had some good weeks of running of late. 52 miles, 54 miles, 55 miles, and on my way to about 55 this week. I appear to be getting somewhat fitter. Now, "fit" is a relative term. As my average mile creeps down below 14 a mile (yeah, baby, look out!), it is clear that I am not "fit" on anyone else's scale other than mine. BUT, as all we have is our own experiences anyway, so I'm going with that.

In another two days I will cross the 1200 mile barrier and that is more miles than I ran in all of 2019. All in all, I have very few complaints. Yeah, my knee is still bothersome, and any over-striding whatsoever can lead to my knee popping (not a good thing). But I've come a long way when it comes to my form and foot strike, and that's a good thing. The other good thing is that I run so slowly that others running type injuries are pretty non-existent. The plan is to get that pesky left knee replaced right after Thanksgiving.

So back to the aforementioned Olympic Trials. The plan was to go. We had SOOOO much fun at the 2016 Trials that we could not wait to head back. And then this Virus thing hit. 

And so far, it would have been great to witness LIVE. It is, nonetheless, still fun on television.

Loved watching the  Men's 10K and seeing CU grad Joe Klecker make the team. FABulous women's 1500 and 5000 meter races (nice job Niwot CO girl, Elise Cranny, and one of my fave runners, Rachel Schneider), and more to come.

The thing you have to love about the Olympic Trials in the USA is that you race, and the top three go to the Olympics (with a few exceptions - but we won't go into Olympic Qualifying marks here). That makes it exciting, AND keeps the politicking out of it (many other countries have committees decide who goes and who stays home).

And speaking of politicking and politics..... well, never mind.

Run on.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Running Bucket List? Yeah, I've Still Got One.

June has arrived and the weather has made a change to FABULOUS. Moisture and chilly was much of May (sounded like Yoda said that), but the wait for Spring/Summer is finally over. Obviously, this had made morning running a much more comfortable happening.

I ended May at 989 miles. Considering I barely passed 1100 back in 2019, I consider this pretty awesome. I also (and if I were even a bit superstitious, I wouldn't write the following words), have yet to miss a day in 2021. In fact, my last day-off was October 12 of last year and that was after 165 days in a row. Hmmm, not bad, I guess.

As the weather gets nicer and race juices begin to flow, my mind is wandering to things I'd like to do once this knee thing is in the rear view mirror. And by the way, I'm 80% sure I'll have this pesky left knee replaced, and if it is, I'm thinking early December.

So, here is the quick top 12 of what's left on this old man's running bucket docket.

12. Nine more marathons. Don't care how fast, just want to end up with 26 finished marathons in my time as a runner. I wasted lots of prime years before they were cool, and who knows where I'd be if I'd made different choices (HA! we all could go there, but let's not). Nonetheless, at 17 now, let's get more.

11. I would love it if two of those marathons were New York and Chicago. I've run New York three times (1993, 94, 98), but one more would be nice. And Chicago, well, I made it to 9 miles back in 2019, so I have to make it to the end. Boston? Eh, too tough to qualify and been there, done that without much motivation to return.

10. I want to run some track races. 5K, 10K, don't care, maybe even a mile. It would just be fun (maybe I'll invest in some "cheater" spikes).

9. a 50K and a 50 miler. And let's add Rob Krar's running camp to the ultra mix.

8. Pikes Peak, either the real live race or just on my own. My last up and down journey on Pike's Peak was in 1979.

7. To run either The Mount Blanc marathon or one of the UTMB series. I got accepted to the Mt Blanc for 2019 but that was NOT a year when that was going to happen.

6. Grand Canyon Rim to Rim. This is a biggie and maybe one of the most important runs on this list.

5. Marathons in Rome and/or London.

4. To run in Kenya

3. To get to 200,000 kilometers. That's 124,274.3 miles. So only about 7000 to go. Than, we'll see

2. To run without the extra-curricular pain. There will always be issues running. I would just love to get to that spot where I'm not constantly nursing some knee thing and able to no have every old lady on the trail passing me.

1. To run until I no longer can. Running has given me so much in this life, I can't imagine being on the planet and not partaking (that's the only reason I'd even consider letting someone stick metal, or whatever it'll be, in my knee).

There you have it. My list, subject to revision, especially addition, at any time. What's on yours?

Run on.

Monday, May 10, 2021

It's Been Awhile

It's been awhile.......... Since I've run? NO, it's been awhile since I've posted here. 

Actually, and I probably shouldn't write this, I have yet to miss a day of running in 2021. No injuries, no sickness, no Corona Virus. Now of course it helps that I run so slowly. It keeps the injuries away.

Anyway, several nice things in the last week: 

First, 61 miles for the week. The main contributor to the mileage was the other two nice things: Boise, ID and the Eugene Half Marathon.

So, Boise...... I love going to Boise. There are plenty of roads and trails that I have yet to navigate in the town, I really love my two faves. First, the River Trail. As river trails go, this one is not anything incredibly special. It's just one of those places that feels nice. It's always clean, the people are always nice, and I really enjoy the sound of the river.

Next is Camel Back Park. A series of trails that begin in Boise's North End and heads up into the hills. I love that there are so many options for where to run and the miles just go and go. Like everywhere in Boise, everyone is friendly (I'm praying that the onslaught of outsiders moving in does not change that like it has in Denver). Mostly though, it's the hills. Up, down, up, down. Big ones, little ones, It's just hills and hills and hills. As NAU Coach Mike Smith said in an interview, his favorite run is "running up the mountain until the mountain stops." It's kind of like that. One of my fave runs.

Then yesterday, the Eugene Half Marathon. I entered the virtual version ages ago as I thought it would be a good idea to add on to my 12 mile run from weeks ago. I was also enamored with the finishers medal which was a piece of the old Hayward Field East stands all shined up.

Well, through a series of circumstances, I actually missed the run window for being "official," whatever that means. Still feeling the obligation since they had already sent the medal, proclaiming me to be a finishers, I figured I should earn it. So, I did.

Nothing huge to report other than the fact that I made the distance and my knee didn't totally collapse. And THAT is good all by itself.

Run on.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Reality Strikes (Again?)

So far this year, I am averaging about 47 miles a week. That's not too bad.

All of the miles, however, are pretty slow. We're talking 14 minute pace. I am, nonetheless, still out there logging the miles. 

I've been in Orlando the last three days. First and foremost, most of the places out around the attractions; the resorts, the convention centers, are terrible places to run. No trails, no sidewalks, no bike lanes even. So, in order to get in some miles you either a) take your life into your hands (which is actually just a saying because what you're really doing on these highly trafficked roads is putting your life in other people's hands) or b) you run the hotel grounds, or, I guess c) you stick to the fitness center treadmill. All sucky kind of options if you ask me.

Anyway, I opted for the so called "running track," basically a sidewalk through the hotel grounds. Originally this loop was about 1.5 miles but with a plethora of hotel construction, it has been significantly altered. 

Sunday afternoon, upon arrival, I could only tolerate the loop two times. Then, I headed out to the danger zone to get in a total of 7 miles. Monday morning before teaching an all day class, I ran just the loop, in the dark (who invented daylight savings time, anyway, and why do we still need it?). This morning, another combo run.

All runs were uneventful until this morning.

Being struck with the massive amount of oxygen down at sea level, I got just cocky/confident/stupid enough to quicken the pace. That was a mistake. Knee pop after knee pop after knee pop. Now, I've had runs like this before but not in a LONG time, so frankly, the whole thing was a bit annoying. But also...... a reality check.

My 14 minute miles are comfortable and they get the job done when it comes to the running fix. They don't, however, work if I ever plan to race again (or even do workouts to test my fitness). If that is ever going to happen, it'll be because I had the dreaded knee replacement.

I've avoided even thinking about this mostly because I have little or no interest in having foreign objects placed in my body for any reason AND.... who says they will achieve the desired result? But now, firmly realizing that in order to run any faster, something has to change, I find myself a hair depressed about the whole thing.

Is there an answer here? I actually don't think so. I mostly just want to take what's been in my head today and express it in another, less inward way. So, thanks for being on the receiving end.

Run on.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Up, Up, Up, Down. Meant to be that way.

So this week was/is the easy one. After a three weeks build (45 miles, 50, 56), it was time to back off a hair AND, it just so happening to coincide with two major events: me going on the road to teach and 2) the latest Blizzard of the Century.

A week ago, I went 12 miles. I was only planning on 11, but got a little carried away and tacked one (well, half of one) on at the end. It was a run the began very slowly for the first mile and a half before I fell into an okay pace (for me). Around 3 - 3 1/2 miles, I felt my knee pop a couple of times (see: http://runspittle.blogspot.com/2020/09/pops-and-buckles-what-happens-to-my-knee.html to now what that means) followed by a full blown knee buckle. Surprise was my most obvious reaction as nothing like this has happened in quite awhile. So, I backed off a bit, hoping to regroup, and not have to call for a ride home. 

Amazingly, the knee calmed down and from about 4-12 was never to be heard from again. 

I won't say it was easy, but I cannot remember the last time I ran 12 miles in one setting. It was clear by mile 9, that by the time I got home (it was a run home kind of run), it would be 11.5. Well, in the world of whole, rounded numbers, THAT would not be tolerated. Thus, the extra.

Followed by a nice run on Sunday, it brought the weekly total to 56, a very good week. It also brought the yearly total to 445.

Because we build training over time, we occasionally need to take it easy. As Dr. Jim Loehr said, "In order to be fully engaged, we must periodically practice disengagement." So the was this week. I did have a nice run this week in Twin Falls, ID. I say nice because Twin Falls is a great place to run.

The trail begins in town (so for me that means near whatever hotel I am residing) and heads over to the ridge overlooking the Snake River. Then it stays across the top until it hits a trailhead the sends you down into the canyon. The whole trail is actually 12+ miles, but for me, it's usually a 4 out, 4 back kind of thing as I am always rushed for time in the morning.

What I did miss was the good run in Boise. Usually when in Boise, I try to go to the Riverfront trail or if I want some hills, to Camelback Park. Today, time was limited so I looped the mall parking lot across the street. Mall running is not my favorite thing, but whenever I am pressed for time, staying near a mall, and running in morning darkness, the mall fits the bill just fine. And for this day, it was good enough.

All in all, a good time, especially for a week of disengagement.

Run on.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Let's Catch Up!

It's gotta be the shoes

So, it's March already and 1) we're still in a pandemic (and we didn't even know what that was a year ago), and 2) I'm still running.....

Yep, the pandemic is still here. 

Race much? Maybe VIRTUAL racing. I did a few of those and have a few more scheduled for the first half of 2021. But REAL racing. Nah, mostly that is reserved for the elite.

But, yes, I'm still going at it. Today is March 2 and I have run everyday this year.... AND.... if you take that "streak" back, it goes to my last day off on October 12, 2020. I won't add that up, I think it's bad luck or juju or something, but it's been awhile. Significance? None except it means I have been injury and sickness free for awhile and that's good!

And yes, I'm still REALLY slow, but I'll tell you what: it still feels good to me.

I was supposed to get my knee replaced ages ago and for many reasons, it didn't happen. Well, unless I decide I want to do some serious racing later in life, I might just pass. As I have written before in this platform, I'm not excited about having someone violate my body with some artificial knee. So, we'll see. I might just be content to get in my 2000+ miles a year slowly.

In the world of super/cheater shoes, the news is everywhere about all the great shoes and now spikes that give you that little extra push forward. Unfortunately, for me, investing that money is kind of silly even if it might drop my mile pace from 13 to 11. Nonetheless, I grabbed a new pair of my present fave shoes, the Nike Epic React in, yes, purple (see picture of my purple feet)!

On the bigger scene, there has been racing to be watched. Flotrack, Runnerspace, and others have been streaming elite track and field and cross country. In fact, my Grandson Mason, will be running in the Mountain West Cross Country Championships on Friday and I can't wait to tune in.

Theoretically, this is all setting us on the path to the 2020, errrrr 2021 Olympics. In order to do that, the U.S.must have the Olympic Track and Field Trials. After heading to Eugene in 2016 for the Trials, I was/am chomping at the bit for this edition. Unfortunately, all signs at this moment are pointing to a spectator-less Trial. DAMN. I so wanted to see the new Hayward Field. Well, maybe at the 2021, errrrr, 2022 World Championships.

No matter what, Spring is right around the corner meaning earlier sunrises, later sunsets, and warmer morning temps. So.....

Run on.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Hello 2021!

So, yeah, I'm a little late on the whole Happy New Year thing. But, nonetheless, Happy New Year! If this writing were just a year in review exercise, it would be two things: very short, and very slow.

My running in 2020 was mostly short and most always slow. But I digress, or maybe I don't. Anyway, I completed 2023 miles in 2020. Yep, I "ran the year" as they say. Of the 55 recorded running years in my life, it ranked 29th as far as miles run. On the upside is the fact that halfway through the year, I had logged a mere 795 miles and was on the way to a disastrous total. Then something happened, but more on that later.

I "raced" three times, all virtual. Two 5Ks and a 200 mile race (that you had a month to complete - so not 200 all at once). The results were not that impressive.  The 5Ks were blazed in slightly less than 34 minutes each (this is by a guy with a 5K PR of 15:09 - and I know that was a LONG time ago). Nonetheless, they were weirdly fun. 

The 200 mile race (The Midwest States 200) was a matter of logging mileage over the month, tracking your time and submitting the results. Well, drumroll please, I finished 2nd. HA! That's hilarious. Well, first and foremost, there were only 5 finishers compared to several hundred in the 100 miles version of the race, so let's not get too excited. Now my time, of 51 hours, 23 minutes, and 7 seconds, would have been pretty darned good in a real 200 mile race. Strung out over a month..... well, not as impressive. But, I'll take it.

Mostly, these three "efforts" were tests so to speak. They were opportunities to push beyond what has become the norm of my knee injured running which is slow, slow, and slow, as not to aggravate the knee. It's something that, for now, I have accepted as the way my running is going to be. I have little or no interest at this point to follow the knee replacement course. That may come, but not now, not yet. So, I run the way I run. Slowly, often gingerly.

It is THAT decision, to just keep running that turned the year around. Somewhere in the middle of the year, I decided it was okay to be slow, okay to walk almost as fast as I run, to be slower than pretty much everyone out there. It is okay because inside me, my mind and my body, I'm still running. I feel the difference as soon as I move from a walk to a "jog." (geez, I hate that word). 

Effort and speed are not the same. Just because you, or Eliud Kipchoge, run faster than me, it does not mean we are not exerting the same effort, and/or feeling the same things inside. Long ago, when I never ran a training mile over 6 minute pace, it felt a certain way to be on the run. Oddly, yet happily, it feels the same today. And that was the change.

And I'm okay with that. For now, and maybe for longer.

Run on.

Future Running Buddy?

It's been a long time since Bosco was around. Back in the 80's, my Old English Sheepdog Bosco would go with me on the occasional run...