Funk is its own reward

After a great start to the summer (Half marathons at Vermont City and Mystic, two weeks backpacking at Philmont), work, life, and beer caught up with me. Weight’s up (but not to pre-summer high, and my Movescount dashboard is that of a slacker:


8 hours. 8 whole hours of logged exercise for an entire month.

Anyway, made it out this morning into the autumn early light. No fog, but low, cold clouds hanging over the trees. Cool, but not enough to have to put on long sleeves.

The run was unspectacular – 9 minute miles on an out-and-back I’ve run more times than I remember – downhill to just before the turn, then a small 20′ kicker at the midpoint, and about 100′ up in the mile and a half or so back to the house.

But it was a run. Which counts. 8 hours, 15 minutes a day … maybe that’s not so bad.

30 Days of March to go

Screw it, I’m done with winter.

There, I said it. D.O.N.E. Done.

Part of the beauty of living in Southeastern Connecticut is that Winter’s usually sort of tepid. Sure, we’ll get a nor’easter once in a while, but those are generally to scare off the snowbirds or other folks who’d also complain that there’s no AC in summer, or that there’s no parking, or whatever. But usually, the winters come with breaks – snow one week, mid-40’s the next week. So nothing’s ever iced up too long, and you have to treasure snow the few times a year you get it. Makes the shoveling easy, too, since you don’t have to toss the snow up too far.

But, Saturday rolled around and, since the temperatures were within spitting distance of freezing, I busted out the trusty old Cross bike and rolled down to the package store to pick up some beers. Mmmm, beers.

Later that evening, drinking said beers with some like-minded neighbors, I came to a decision that kind of surprised me. Namely, that I could, unilaterally, declare winter over. Done, finished, finis, ended, omega. Power of positive thinking, right?

I’d been catching up on TED talks Friday afternoon while working, and had caught this one by Tony Robbins. In general, I think he (and many other power of positive thinking folks) relies too heavily on anecdote, single examples, and survivor bias, but, sitting there Saturday night and then Sunday morning with a little bit of fuzzy head from the night before, I kind of wondered if maybe he wasn’t right? Maybe life is choices; maybe we do have the power to shape our reality.

So, Sunday afternoon, I headed out for a run. Even though it was 20 degrees and snowing. “Winter,” I thought, “Tony Robbins and I are going to make you my (censored)”.

5 miles later, sitting on the porch, ice falling off of my eyebrows, I looked around through the falling snow and gloated. Tony and I are going to kick this.


PANO_20150212_122955I’m actually a little ashamed to admit it, but after a great start in January, I kind of fell off of the running wagon. Part of it is the massive snow we’ve had lately in Mystic, but mostly, it’s a regular, no-frills forgetting to get my butt out of the door. No excuses.

Which isn’t to say I’ve been doing nothing – the log’s got a couple of trips to spin class, a couple of roller rides in the basement, a decent number of miles breaking trail on XC skis, and a return to the pool, which I’d missed more than I thought.

Today I finally got off my duff for a lunchtime run, and have zero regrets. Right around freezing, not a lot of wind, and a lovely 4 miles through legs which were tighter than they should be considering the dearth of running I’ve been doing.

Needless to say, I’ve missed it.

I think I’ve turned the winter corner on weight, too. Peaked at a number I hadn’t seen in 5 years or so, and have been steadily below that and approaching 180.

Posted in Run

Get Elevated

So, I’ve been headed to Albuquerque for business pretty regularly over the last year. And, I’ve got to admit, it’s a great place to run. Mostly, I’ve been running on Albuquerque’s great network of multi-use trails and bike paths. Well, that and swimming – found a great pool, good hours, great temperature.

But, man, does the altitude get to me. (Well, that, and being only moderately in shape and fat). It’s been amazing for me to, as I’ve been getting back in shape, to feel better on the run. Or so I though…

Anyway, I woke up this morning to snow pouring over the Sandia mountains like steam rolling over the edge of a cauldron. Amazing. Work wrapped up a little early this afternoon, so on my way back to the hotel, I did a quick search for trail runs. IMG_20150121_081530

And, Runner’s World had a great recommendation about the 365 trail in the Sandia foothills. A quick google, and I had a trail and topo map, courtesy of the City of Albuquerque.

Quick drive, and here I am. Parking lot at the top end of Copper Ave. 6,000, or so. The Rio Grande valley behind me, mountains in front of me.IMG_20150121_162429

So, start running, and it’s up, up, up.

And more up. Or, at least it feels like it. No air in my lungs for the entire first mile; mostly a walk-run. But, gentle snow was falling, and the trails were amazing. New England trails aren’t like this – they’re chunks of granite the size of babys’ heads and branches, branches, branches. These were AMAZING – like beautiful crushed rock stretching out for miles, and miles, and miles. Plenty of elevation, plenty of smoove.

And the run was great. aside from the not being able to get oxygen to my lungs.

Made it up to the entrance to the Sandia National Forest Wilderness area at the intersection of the 193 and 365 trails. PANO_20150121_162436 Beautiful.

Decided to make a loop rather than an out and back. The second half of the run was, well, actually a run, more or less. Lots more down than up..

Anyway, great run. “Rave” is probably an accurate description. Hopefully get to knock it out again before I head home.

Posted in Run

Save the soul of the New Haven 20K

Runner types- the New Haven Road Race folks sent me an email survey, the gist of which was asking if they should ‘add’ a half marathon option to the Labor Day 20k.

Please tell them ‘no’.

The 20k is a great race as is, period, full stop.

I was kind of upset when they trebeled the size of the crowd showing up Labor Day morning with the 5K; however, in hindsight, it works as an option to get the whole family running. Which is awesome, and adds to the great atmosphere.

However, adding a half marathon would be a huge mistake, because you wouldn’t really add runners, rather just shift folks from the 20K field. Any new runners who came to the event to the event would be the dumb ones who can’t think metric and realize that 20k is only a half mile shy of a half marathon. The folks who care deeply about labels, and are just looking to check a distance box instead of running for the sake of running and reveling in the last day of summer. The types who won’t do a triathlon unless it’s got an M-Dot.

From here on, we’re going to call the proposed half marathon the 21K. And I encourage you to drink beer.

Not every event needs to be the same. There’s value in having some odd distances, in that it captures the essence of racing, which is “Hey, I bet I can get THERE faster than you”.

Tarzan Brown should be to the top of River Road and back, construction dependent, and shouldn’t get truncated to a 5 mile race. Adding another 0.2502 miles would make the Manchester Road Race just another 5 miler instead of an almost 80 year Thanksgiving Tradition. Probably would start at 10 AM instead of “10:00 a.m. Sharp”.

These traditions are what unite us in our local “tribes”, what give us opportunities to actually talk instead of just nodding while we pound out miles day to day to day. New Haven on Labor Day should be a 20k followed with beer on the green, and then pizza and more beer in the park.

While I’m pretty convinced just based on tradition, being a stick in the mud, and getting into my mid-40s, I’m skeptical of the logistics of running a 21K alongside “The” 20K. I’ve run several marathons where there was a half marathon run on the same course, and where the races split has always been a giant bag of poop for mid-pack runners, regardless of which distance they’re running. Either the half runners miss the turn and get a slower half time, or the marathoners accidentally make the time and end up running 26.4 instead of 26.2. And that’s where there’s a HUGE difference between the race distances.

Part of the reason the 5K and the 20K work alongside each other is because they are “alongside” each other, not on top of each other. The start areas are together, which is cool, and the finish areas are together, which works because even if you’re walking a 5K, you probably are going to finish ahead of the elite runners running the 20K.

However, if they add a 21K, how are they going to break up the course? Is the 21K going to have a completely different course? Is the 20K finish line just going to be further up from the green and the 21K finish, robbing the 20K runners of the traditional finish? Imagine the confusion coming down Whitney to Temple where the diversion for the 21K happens. Logistically, it just doesn’t work without adding confusion to the runners and/or robbing either the 20K group or the 21K group

Anyway, the idea stinks. I’d still run it if the only race was a 21K, just because the weather and green are glorious on Labor Day, and at the end of the summer, a 20K-ish distance is just fun to run, and to revel in a summer’s good training. But the idea of running both a 20K and a 21K doesn’t work for me, though I’d keep running the 20K out of spite, and griping about the split or the finish or something, which then spoils a great summer day.


Back down in San Antonio for alumni weekend at my alma mater. It’s been way, way too long since I headed down here, and I really don’t think that the last time I was here I ran much.

I’m struck by how much I’ve changed since I was here – I’d always thought I was a pretty active guy, but looking back, I avoided a whole lot of quarter mile walks by jumping in the car. Didn’t really spend any time running at all until I got into the Navy, which is a shame, because the campus is an awesome place to run. Good choices for long, flat runs; adjacent to a city park with even more trails … Different time, different me, I suppose.

Got in yesterday noon-ish, had way too much chips and queso for lunch, napped, and then headed out for a run. Which may or may not have been a mistake – this was by far the hottest day I’d experienced all year, somewhere in the mid-90s, and dry. So, needless to say, the run sucked big suckage, even though the roads were great, traffic was light, there was a delightful half-mile gravel track to run in the middle of the out-n-back, etc.

Then this morning, I had a good lie-in (at least for someone coming to Central time zone from the east coast, accustomed to life with small childrens), then drove down to the campus to run. The run was delightful – through a park that borders the campus, up through a trail the campus maintains, and then back down past the dorms.

And the thought hit me – why had I never done this while I was here?

Posted in Run

Glory, Glory


Not an epic, not a PR, not a transcendent run, but I’m happier than I’ve been in way, way, way, too long. Broke out of the office this afternoon for a late lunch run. Not the greatest of days – low 70s and humid, gentle breeze, no real sun.

The run on the schedule wasn’t huge – three miles. I’ve graduated in my rehab – Couch to 5K is finished, so I’m on an 8 week 10K program now. Beginner – lots of walking, a little bit of running. So, easy three at lunch along flat, flat, Pequot Ave along the Thames River in New London. Wasn’t dreading it, but wasn’t looking forward to it.

Then, about the time I turned around, I realized a couple of things:

  • My left ankle wasn’t starting to feel stiff
  • My right knee wasn’t hurting or twinging for the first time in two weeks
  • I didn’t feel like i was going to die
  • I was pretty blissfully happy
  • Somehow, things had gotten better.

    Anyway, when I got back to the office, I knocked on every bit of fiberboard I could find – didn’t want to jinx things. But, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I’d crossed a threshold from healing back to running, and can’t be happier.

    FWIW, Thom Yorke (Radiohead singer) has an exceptional new album out. Very much a headphone record, very much an acquired taste. Highly recommended if you’re even remotely inclined to – kind of low speed electronic music. Dunno. Guess that means I’m old. He’s also distributing via bittorrent, which was interesting. Still plan on stopping by the Telegraph to see if they’ve got vinyl.

    One Step Forward, stutter step back

    So, it’s time for my semi-annual mile and a half test. Still nursing the tendon pull in the left foot, and a twitchy right knee to boot. I did one more run last week – out ‘n’ back at Bluff Point. First two miles were great, then – well, not bad, but not good.

    Took the rest of the week off.

    Sunday afternoon – I’d decided just to kind of phone in the semi-annual test. Jog it, y’know, nice and easy. So, I did.

    Long story short, I’m not terribly upset. “Phoning in” 1.5 miles on the track ended up being 8 minute miles. Which isn’t bad. Plus, I didn’t wake up this morning feeling hurt. So, I’ve got that going for me.

    Anyway, it’s been a kind of tough summer, but in the whole first-world problem type of tough. I didn’t run or bike nearly so much as I wanted to, but I spent most of a week backpacking on the Long Trail, spent a week in Vermont on vacation with the family, spent a week at scout camp, and spent a month on a ship in the Arctic. Mileage is way, way down, but weight’s not up.

    Now I need to get focused; buckle down for the winter, and come out of the other side stronger and healthier than ever.

    Glorious Fall Week

    I’ve been rehabbing a pulled ligament somewhere on the inside of my left ankle/top of my foot since, say May, though it feels like I’ve been working on it since about 1999. It kind of feels like it’s been getting better, but still not good.

    A bunch of decent/good runs last week – I was in Albuquerque, and had a great run along the Rio Grande, a terrible run on the bike path behind the hotel, and then a transcendent run on Friday on my way home from Bradley International on the Salmon River Rail Trail – perfect weather, a solid sign of fall leaves in the trees. Everything I love about New England wrapped into one amazing half hour on a Friday Afternoon.

    The oldest kid is running high school XC this year, and he’s completely gotten faster than I am. Which is fine, and actually a great sign that he’s developing into the kid Missy and I hope he will, but it’s still kind of a kick in the teeth…

    Saturday, we head out to a Cub Scout hike at Devil’s Hopyard State Park. Hike was awesome. Kid’s got 5-6 easy on the training plan from his XC coach, so I say “Hey, why don’t we go for a lap of the park after the hike?” Absolutely, he says.

    Hindsight says that may have been a mistake.

    (“Dad, you’ve got talking hindsight?”)

    Profile was brutal – two miles up, and a mile straight down. Kid was nice and didn’t laugh out loud at me. I decided we’d still feed and house him for the night.

    The downside is that I may have tweaked my right knee. Ran again yesterday; 3 miles easy at Bluff Point, and something’s just not right. It’s not bad, but not quite right.

    Oh, well. I’m down 5 pounds from earlier this summer, and I’m actually itching to run and ride for the first time in a while.

    Posted in Run

    In the end, the blackberries will take over

    In the end, Tom Robbins may be right about blackberries.

    The woman who checked me into the hotel at SEA-TAC pointed me down the hill to the DesMoines Creek Park trail to get in my daily 5K. Lovely run, except for the almost 250′ of climbing over a quarter mile between the hotel and the trailhead.

    Nice paved bike path type trail; not a whole lot of people, but a ton of beautiful ripe blackberries sitting there waiting to be eaten. Made me happy.

    Ankle felt good. Slow and steady.

    Posted in Run