Category Archives: Run

Glory, Glory

Hallelujah!

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.

    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.

    Maybe it’s the altitude

    Wow – Four whole posts this year.

    There’s a little bit of reason for that, but first, some running.

    I’m away for work, previewing New Mexico for the troop trip to Philmont next year (and some real job stuff, too), and staying on east coast time means getting up at 4 AM local and getting on the treadmill. ‘Cept today I didn’t get on the treadmill, I headed outside.

    Great pre-traffic run. Little bit of gravel through a park, no twinges in my foot.

    Sometime back in February or March I sprung the crap out of the tendon on the inside of my left ankle. So, it’d hurt one day, feel good the next, and I’d go out and put, say 4 or 6 miles on it. Then it’d swell up and hurt like heck for a day, I’d rest for a day, and then run when it felt marginal. Eventually, one day of recovery stretched to two or three.

    Finally, in late May, I went and saw a doc. Nothing broken. Went to the podiatrist, and “Hey, the left foot’s way flatter than the right foot!” Great.

    June was spent in an ankle brace, July’s been spent walking in orthotics and doing short jogs. August will be spent underway, so by September I should be somewhat back. And singing Bad-a-yah.

    Two days in, I think I did get a light case of altitude sickness – woke up with a headache, nausea, and drymouth this morning that couldn’t be explained by too much beer last night. Wish I were staying here – coffee, exercise, and exposure to altitude would cure that in the long run.

    It’s good to be back running.

    Advent Day 10 – Travel

    My lovely bride and I are currently up in North Adams, Mass, while our kids are at YMCA Winter Camp (Yep, we’re those parents who drop our kids off in the woods in the dead of winter then sneak off for a weekend at a fancy hotel and good meals. Terrible, terrible people.)

    And, I know I hit on it before, but there’s something grand about being able to explore on foot. Sneakers and a single outfit are all you need to pack, and roads with sidewalks and decent shoulders are all a place needs to support the run.

    Missy and I were up here (1) ’cause we didn’t have kids for the weekend, but if we just stayed at the house we’d end up finding stuff to do and not connecting with each other; (2) Because, despite being an engineer and absolutely artless, I’m actually very intrigued and fond of those who are creative; and (3) Wilco. Worth the trip for the day – the leisurely drive plus the museum got us to the hotel for a couple hours of R&R, then a quality supper walking distance from the hotel. Burned “The Philadelphia Story” from the hotel’s movie library, and then slept for 9 solid hours. Wow – must be vacation.

    This morning, Missy managed to sneak off to the elliptical trainer in the hotel gym without waking me. I sat bolt upright in bed about 8, completely confused about when and where I was. Figured it out, and went to explore the town. A couple minutes with Google Maps, and I figured out I could do between 3 and 4 without getting lost and see most of the town, so I was off.

    If only it were easier to travel with a bike…

    Forgiveness – Advent Day 9

    The body’s both unforgiving and forgiving at the same time. Unforgiving, because a minor error in form can lead to injury just before a big race, and (in my case), a tendency to go just a couple calories over (just ONE cookie) every day leads to being consistently 20 pounds (10 kilos) overweight.

    But, the body’s remarkably forgiving. I spent the first 25 years of my life not really caring about staying in shape. Then I did. Then I’ve been pretty streaky ever since. Despite severe personal failings, I’ve done several marathons, a half-Ironman, and more small races than I can count, plus wore out many, many more bike tires than car tires. No huge palmares, but I’m happy.

    Today? Great example of that. I’ve been slacking on the run (last run was 10 days ago). Been to spin a bunch, but no running.

    Got out the door this morning, and had an awesome run. Just down to the sheep pasture and back, ~6K, but the sun shone, the breeze blew, and the miles passed underfoot.

    And my body said thanks.

    RoadRunner, I’m in Love With Massachusetts – Advent Day 6

    Until about 6 months ago, I’d never heard of Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers. Then, Wilco does a night of covers at Solid Sound 2013, and once I’d gotten over the brilliance of “Get Lucky”, I picked a new favorite song. Roadrunner, with its name check of Stop and Shop (Groceries) and cold weather, and driving past neon lights full of angst.

    Obsession again, would’ve worn out a cassette tape of the concert if we were still living back in 1987. Then, my internet man-crush on the cataloger of complete world knowledge doubles back on itself, with John Hodgman getting involved with the Bay State’s legislative process to make Roadrunner the official state song of Massachusetts.

    Oh, yeah – running.

    One of the joys of my work is that I get to go talk to folks who are like wicked smart on a pretty frequent basis. Friday, I got to head up to MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory for a day of getting my mind blown. On my way out, a colleague who knows I like to go strange places and run says “Hey, are you running this afternoon?”

    “Sure”, I say.

    So, we trundle off to the base gym, change, and he points me over to the MinuteMan Trail.

    And for the next 40 minutes, I, like Jonathan Richman and John Hodgman, was in love with Massachusetts.

    New England late fall is gloriously gloomy – dark early, grey skies, biting cold – and yesterday was about as textbook as it gets. Whisps of fog blew across the ancient track, past the spot where Paul Revere was captured by the British, past stone walls older than the country, and past anything other than the sheer joy of oxygen, gravel crunching underfoot, and feeling coming back into my cold fingers. The ghosts of the Regulars and Minutemen came into mind from the fog, and the hoofbeats of horses carrying news of a single lantern were echoed in my sneakers.

    Running in a new place is a joy. No better way to get a feeling for a location. I’ve had the pleasure of traveling all over the world, and my finest memories tend to revolve around sneakers and exploring. Even places I know take on a new look when the ground’s passing underfoot at 80 steps/minute.

    Finished up the run as the last light faded and the fog turned into rain. And spent a quality drive out of the state with rock ‘n’ roll cranking out of the speakers.

    (At the risk of too much Masshole-ism, don’t forget to listen to “Case Your State“, which is NSFKids, but is comedic genius.)

    Friends Push – Advent Day 1

    Sunday dawned grey and misty. Not terribly cold, not dry, not wet. Yay.
    image

    I’m rounding a corner mentally. Work’s back to being a place I want to be, home is good, and volunteer life is excellent – I’m at a place where I feel I can say “no” on occasion, and have a network of other volunteers with which we’re really clicking.

    And part of the rounded corner is routine. I’ve needed for a long time to make getting out a top priority, and seem to have rounded the corner on keeping it there.

    A big part of that has been using friends and colleagues to stay motivated. Sunday morning, Steve R. was my motivation to be standing in the Haley Farm parking lot at 0630.

    Steve is one of my heroes. A couple of years ago, we were both training for a marathon, and Steve had just started cycling. Now, he’s faster than I am in every possible medium, and much, much better than I am for just getting out there.

    Anyhoo, we did the traditional loop – Haley to Bluff out to the point, back to Bluff parking lot, and back to Haley. And, having Steve there kept me moving – longest run since I gave up on Hartford Marathon back in September.

    Yay Steve!

    24 to go.

    Follow us for the funky behavior

    Thanksgiving.

    May be my absolute favorite holiday EVAH.

    Good food, time with good friends and good memories of other friends, and none of the guilt about gifts associated with Christmas. No bad music.

    We had the office Thanksgiving lunch today – community turkey and potluck sides, and way, way, way too much dessert. Tryptophan coma after lunch, which was OK as I was clicking through some annual training for the dozenth time.

    About 3:45, the sun was almost gone, so I realized that if I was going to have any sort of workout, I had to hit the road. Perfect late fall run – high 30’s, sky spitting moisture, and every shade of grey from silver through soot.

    The beginning of the evening commute traffic hissed along the road, headlights and taillights blending into each other.

    Then – the transcendent.

    I passed a grove of trees for the umpteenth time, and finally realized that the two straight rows of cedars marked an ancient street – almost an alley, but lined with green and carpeted with needles, connecting one main street with another marked as a dead end.

    Dead end to cars, maybe, but a throughway for foot and bike traffic.

    100 yards of unexpected trail running, and a good run becomes a great run.

    Thanksgiving.