Gardening at Night (Part 2)

So I’m vain, and was troubled that, even giving account for the hill, I posted a greater than 10 minute mile last night.

So I went and did the run over tonight. 9:33/8:53/9:55 (I’m skeptical of the last mile time, though). So it’s slower overall, but more consistient mile times.

The new gadget is a Forerunner 101. It rocks. I grabbed the 101 instead of the 201 that Ben has. I went with the 101 because it uses AAA’s instead of a internal rechargeable. The 201’s download feature appealed to me, but its using serial only turned my iBook loving self off – nothing approaching a serial port here. I’ve only had it for 3 runs, but here’s my initial take:

1. Super easy to use. Turn it on, wait until it syncs up with the satellites, push start, and it’s off. Push stop when you want to stop. Reset the counters. The run is now in internal memory.

2. The unit’s got a pretty sensitive reciever. Our neighborhood is pretty wooded, but it’ll gain sync in our driveway, under a giant maple tree and smaller japanese maple. It holds it pretty well on the roads. I haven’t tried a trail run – yet.

3. I don’t think it’s too obtrusive. My lovely wife thought it was a little too big to strap to her wrist. It does come with a band extender; Melissa is thinking about trying it again strapped to her upper arm. The disadvantage would be not being able to see the display, but if you’re just interested in recording, it’s not an issue. That, and most of the functions (mile marker, etc) have audible cueing. I can’t hear the beeps over my iPod, though.

4. Nice features – Clear display, good backlight. The backlight automatically comes on when the unit has an alert (passing another mile, falling off pace, etc). The Training Partner is kind of nice. If Garmin keeps it when the Forerunner is updated, they could speed it up on downhills and slow it down on uphills (GPS gives elevation data).

1. The unit design is not poor by any stretch of the imagination. But, after the iBook and the iPod (not to mention small details like the international power adapters Apple has available that work with both items’ power supplies), my standards are high. My gripe is that the UI is 6 buttons, all pretty similar size and texture, on the side of the unit. One of the reasons I’m skeptical of today’s third mile split is because I accidentally turned the unit off between the 1st and 2nd miles. I stopped and turned it back on again, but it threw off the “odometer”. Yes, I was an idiot for pushing and holding the power button (for like 3 seconds; it’s not really easy to do by mistake), but the backlight is turned on by briefly pressing the power button.

2. It’s missing the geeky GPS features, like a lat/long display, or the ability to select between different GPS data (WGS 84/UTM/etc – you either know what I’m talking about already, or you don’t care). There are some work-arounds I’ve found (such as marking a waypoint at the current location to get lat/long), but I don’t think I’m getting rid of my Magellan GPS 315 any time soon. I think this may be intentional on Garmin’s part – why give away a big part of their market on a sub – $100 device. I think it’ll work backpacking, especially if I take the time to pre-set waypoints. But I’m still mainly a map-and-compass kind of guy in any case. And the 101’s “Back to start” feature ought to bail me out.

3. There’s no ability to turn GPS on/off unless the machine can’t acquire a satellite. There’s also no ability to tell the unit where it is, so initial acquisition of a signal can last up to 30 minutes the first time you turn the unit on, or if you travel more than 500 miles with the unit off. In practicality, mine acquired signal in about 5 minutes right out of the box.

Gardening at Night

OK, not gardening, but like April-Anne, I hit the road after dark. With the moon near full, it was rising just as I left, and running by moonlight was a great feeling.

The new toy, to be named later, is really opening my eyes about some of my regular routes. Luckily, it looks like I’ve been pretty accurate at gauging distance. It’s pace that I’ve been completely wrong on. I was running last night from the house, down the quiet farm road behind our neighborhood. I’d been of the impression that until I hit the REALLY steep hill that most of the rollers were pretty close to zero sum. Heh. I was wrong. Looking at the mile splits for the 3 mile out and back, the “out” leg has got to be pretty much straight up-hill: 10:18/9:04/8:14. It’s a negative split, but that’s not because I picked up the pace on the way back – it’s more due to being dragged downhill.

That said, there was a section of extremely steep downhill where I think I actually went slower than I would have on a flat.

Running at night was a hoot. It’s fun how you can find new potholes in the dark that you’d never notice during the day. I’m tapped out on the gadget fund, but will start saving bottles to pick up a headlamp as the days rapidly grow shorter.

How many times you going to hit it?

Well, twice in 12 hours, give or take.

I worked late last night, and went for a run after working hours. Did the base perimiter again, and was having a really good go of it until I started getting cramps in my abs. Guess I must have been dehydrated. Didn’t think so (I’d done the bathroom check before I left), and there is no way in heck that I don’t get enough electrolytes in my diet, so water’s about the only thing left. But despite the cramps, I’d put it down as a really good run; I ran some intervals before I cramped, and only had about 1/2 mile left to go after, which I was able to half walk/half run.

This morning I went down to Beavertail State Park on the south end of Jamestown. Did a 5K, and set a pretty decent standard to improve from: 25:11. I’ve got a new toy; will review once I’ve got more experience with it, but I’ve been dying to quantify my running. Mile splits were 7:45/8:15/8:45, which confirmed what I’ve known for a long while – that I start off way, way too fast. I blame Galloway and his darned RPE (Tried to google it; wasn’t able to find what I was looking for, but I did find a 100 page PDF of running references. This was the closest I could find to what I wanted. Though I’d always thought it was a 10 point scale; I kind of like the add a 0 to get equiv. heart rate)

Monday (and weigh-in)

184. Which is negative progress. In my defense, I can feel that my clothes are looser. The time to actually count calories may be here. At least after I head to the snack machine (to close to reality to be true)…

Truthfully, though, I’m getting close to wrapping up major work on a couple of pretty involved projects here at the office. I can’t say that the stress level will go WAY down, but it should relax at least a little bit. To be honest, I eat as a little bit of a defense mechanism, but it’s also in an effort to keep the brain fueled with carbs. When I’m on annual training in the next couple of weeks, I’m going to try to cut way back on snacking and caffeine.

Ran the Newport Navy Base again this morning. Started strong, but felt really empty at the end. Kind of hard to describe; but I just wasn’t breathing right. My first guess is that I was a little dehydrated. Sigh. Need more water in the evenings, I guess.

Christian is standing me up tomorrow morning. Bum. I suppose that means I’ll bike, since I ran today.


Trail running is to road running much like jazz is to rock and roll. On the road, it’s all about the rhythm, putting one foot down and picking one foot up. Finding the groove, and just letting the road take you where it will. On the trail, though, there’s not that luxury, at least not on the rutted, rooted, and rocky trails in Connecticut.

On the trail, it’s like jazz – the smooth sections set the pace and establish the rhythm and theme (today’s was WET, but more on that later). Think Coltrane’s “Favorite Things”. Then each set of steep uphill, stretch of baby heads, stream, wooden bridge, root, etc, becomes a chance to improvise. A chance to play with rhythm, play with foot placement (maybe it’s time to go sideways), but a chance to play regardless. At the same time, the pace keeps going, the tune continues to progress, all coming back to the rhythm and theme of the run when you hit the chorus and a smooth patch of ground.

(OK, bad analogy, but it made sense on the trail)

It was Houston humid this morning. Take a drink of air humid. But, thankfully, not hot (Save that for this afternoon. But it’s August, for crying out loud, and I don’t think I’ve sweated outside except for when I’ve been running, biking, or working all summer. Man, I love New England).

Anyhow, I headed over to Pequot Woods to get in the first bit of trail running I’ve done in a while. There’s a pretty decent mile and a half or so loop there, nice hills, etc. All in all, good run.

Yesterday was another day with Christian. I really did not want to get up, but one of the advantages of having a godawful early running date is that if you do want to call and cancel, there’s an extremely angry partner at the other end who will give you an earful for making them set an alarm clock, wake up at the crack of dawn, and then get stood up. Motivating.

Downtown Newport again, same route as Tuesday, but with the added incentive of someone a block ahead of me while I headed up the Memorial Street hill. Good times.


So I’m already pretty set on hours for the week, with a big push over the weekend and long days Monday and Tuesday. I’d also volunteered to drop a co-worker off at the airport in the early afternoon. So I hit work early, left early, and was done for the day about 3. Swung back to Jamestown Island on my way home, and decided I’d do a figure 8 of the island. I wanted to see how my legs were feeling before I committed.

Parked at the fort again, had a good talk with a 60 something guy visiting from Iowa (they have to register kayaks same as other boats up there – crazy) who had cycled competitively way back when. He had absolutely no nostalgia for steel bikes or downtube shifters. Heh. I agreed with him, with the exception of flat out style. Some of the old makers would carve the bits that connected tubes together like this:

which is cool.

Anyhow, finally, I got on the road, and was not pleased. For whatever reason, I just didn’t feel like I had any ride in my legs. Then, I had to stop to tweak a minor mechanical about halfway up the first hill, losing rhythym. I was on the verge of bagging it, but decided I’d at least go to the first fork in the road. If I felt bad, I’d head back, go swim, and go home.

Got to the first fork and decided – what the hey. Let’s give it a go. And never looked back. Random Observations:

– On a bike, false flats heading uphill are way preferable to a headwind of any type.
– Climbing in the big ring is cool. Lance Armstrong is quick to drop into the small ring and drive a higher cadence. He may not feel as cool while he’s climbing, but winning is cooler than style any day. Lance is cooler than me.
– Few things are as beautiful to behold as the grace and efficiency of a well tuned bike. Today’s highlight – the solid “thunk” the chain makes as it shifts under slight load to a smaller cog.
– On a constant grade, not pedaling: Sitting up, no hands – 17 MPH. Hands on the top of the bar – 19 MPH. In the drops – 21 MPH. Moral: Spend more time in the drops.
– The Atlantic is a cold ocean.

This was my first 20+ mile ride of the year. I’m not happy about that, but am thankful it’s a time issue rather than a fitness issue. Total was about 25 miles in about 90 minutes (I accidentally reset my odometer at mile 15, so I lost the time on the first part) It’s also my first above 16 mph average ride of the year, so I’ve got two things out of the way.

Lafe asked for clarification on the gloves/no gloves comment on Tuesday – My primary reason for wearing gloves is to avoid road rash. There are few things more painful than spending a couple of weeks pulling gravel out of the palms of your hands. When I ride with only a small probability of encountering cars, I’m much more likely to go all out, dive into corners, and “ride it like I stole it” than if I’ve got to worry about traffic (specifically, my phobia of falling down and getting run over). Hard cornering leads to wheels slipping out from under, which leads to hands on pavement, which, without gloves leads to picking gravel out of palms. The point being that for riding in a deserted parking lot, the biggest risk I’ve got is in laying the bike down and getting a bad case of road rash.

When cars come into play, therea are two likely scenarios. The one I’ve lived is getting cut off by a car who doesn’t see you, and then stops to turn in front of you. I’ve hit a couple of cars that zoomed by, threw on their brakes, and swerved into driveways while I was at speed and couldn’t either weave back into traffic, or head into a ditch. So I t-boned the car, went flying through the air, and came much closer to landing on my head than when I’ve laid down bikes. The other scenario is a car just flat-out not seeing the rider and plowing him/her over. When this happens to me, I want to be able to land on my head and drag myself away.

Good run

Not having specific race goals like the Running Chick, or specific weight loss goals like Erin at Lose the Budda (A blog from which we can all take writing style tips), sometimes I find myself floundering. I didn’t get in a real ride yesterday due to rain and scheduling, but was able to crank out a dozen or so laps of the building (all of about 2 miles) on the bike after working hours as a stress reliever. I kept being tempted to ride it like a crit, diving into corners and stuff, but held back as I hadn’t changed for it, and hadn’t put on helmet or, IMO more important when riding where traffic isn’t much of an issue, gloves.

Take this morning. I really, really did not want to get out of bed – it’s been gloomy all weekend, and I’ve been stressed at the office. It would have been really, really easy to punt. Except for the fact I knew that Christian would be up and waiting for me; and I’m sure the last thing he wanted at 5 AM was a phone call saying “Hey, I’m sleeping in.” So, determined to be his 6 AM man, I dragged myself out of bed, brewed a little coffee, and hit the road.

Good thing I did – what was a gloomy, grey morning in Mystic was beautiful in Newport. Blue skies, cool weather, and the site of boats bobbing in the harbor. And the run met it. Chris’ goal for today was to knock out 10 minutes of solid running, and he hung on easily, despite really kicking it in at the 5 minute point, and making me curse him while trying to hold on.

Despite feeling pretty spent, I slowed up a little bit and charged up the hill at Memorial. Pshew. I haven’t been running enough lately, especially not to do a hill after a fast, fast start. But I kept trundling up it, and decided to turn left at the top instead of turning around, adding another tenth of a mile or so of slight uphill. The downhill felt good, and I got all stretched out. Caught up with Christian after about 2.5 total/22 minutes, and we walked the mile back to his place.

Unabashed plug

April Anne’s jumped on the same Google bandwagon as I have – Blogger is offering a Google powered search bar in place of the advertisements on blogspot hosted sites.

I’m hosting myself, but wanted to add the search functionality without having to code it myself (’cause I can’t).

The “Blog This” button rocks, too. I’m only wishing there was a Blogger/Google toolbar for either Safari or Firefox.

Check out Chris’s Sunday Run

I’ve been making a concerted effort to get my butt out of bed earlier to support working out. It’s the least I can do to make sure that I get home from work at a reasonable hour so that my lovely wife gets some personal time in the evenings. But this weekend was a bust, what with fallout from the hurricanes socking New England in rain from Friday through today.

Chris from Mass (as opposed to my running buddy Christian) was a) out of bed before 5 AM, and b) on an epic run through the woods of Massachusetts Sunday morning while I was dreaming I wasn’t such a slug.

I startled deer all over the place, one of which was just beautiful to behold. I saw red-tailed hawks slowly beating their path away from me. I actually felt bad, because I doubt he really wanted to move in all this rain. I heard a weird swamp noise that sounded like a woman screaming and then being drowned. It was eerie, but when I heard it twice, I figured some animal had a wicked defense system. Would’ve kept ME away.

Good on him.