Ups and Downs

It’s funny how things work out some times. Yesterday’s swim debacle (too strong of a word, true) got me questioning the efficacy of the whole training program, and wondering if I’d really lost everything I’d gained at the end of last summer. Turns out, no, not quite, but I get ahead of myself.

After the missed goal with Monday’s swim, I went to bed early and slept slightly late, figuring that I’d better get an afternoon run in while the current batch of nice days lasted. Good day at work, and while I was talking with one of the other runners in the office it hit me: I did two five mile days last week, and I couldn’t remember the last time I hit two fives in a week. Or, more to the point, hit two fives in a week and didn’t feel like I wanted to die.

So, I tied up things in the office, and skedaddled on over to Jamestown Island. I hadn’t run or biked on the island since September or October (again, too lazy to read my own blog and find out). I parked at the beach in the center of the south half of the island (Think it’s Manatee Beach, but somehow that doesn’t sound very New Englandy). Today’s goal was 3 miles, so I programmed the old forerunner for 4 miles (feeling jaunty) and ran on down the road.

The course for today has been instantly moved to probably my favorite that doesn’t require much of a special drive. Parking at Manatee Beach (for lack of its real name) starts the run at sea level, and the road climbs up from there. My guess is that max elevation on the island is somewhere around 50 or so feet. But the road goes straight up that within the first half mile from the beach. Crested the hill, mile 1 – 8:49. I’m pleased.

Keep on trucking down the long false flat on the way to the low point before I start the climb into Beavertail State Park. Look at the forerunner and road, and guestimate I could turn the run into a nice 5 miler by extending out to the lighthouse at land’s end. Sure, fine, I take a quorum in my mind, and finding no objections decide to go for it.

Success! My iPod pooped out and needed to be rebooted (good as new after that). AND it turns out that it was 3 miles to the end of the island, not 2.5 like I’d thought.

No worries, though: you can do it!

The short story (about which hopefully I’ll elaborate later): 6.2 miles, 52 minutes. Yeah, you read that right: Average of 8:32. AND I still had miles left in my legs.

Rest Days are on the Schedule for a Reason

And that reason is to prevent you from feeling like my car mats look after three months of New England winter – Nasty.

My previous good feelin’ from the beautiful day has been blown out of the water by a tough swim. I only got through 1,750 m (About a real mile; I’d been doing 2,000 m – a nautical mile – since it seemed the right distance to swim), and that was ugly. Rather than sets of 10 laps, I was doing sets of 5 laps.

Form went from what initially felt brilliant back to sloppy – the biggest cue that something was off was my flip turns. There were a few initially that I hit and felt great. The secret, at least for me, is to flip completely, plant my feet on the wall while I’m facing the ceiling, and push and twist all in one motion. I was hitting them so they felt sweet at first tonight – all fluid and synchronized swimming-like (minus a partner). But about 2/3 of the way through, somehow I stopped flipping all the way over. I’d plant my feet and push and be headed towards the bottom of the pool. Not so bad in the deep end, but I bounced a couple of times in the shallow end.

I’m still glad I went out and did it, but I think I ended up pressing myself too far. The physical exertion was wonderful, though. My 5 year old is usually (and I apologize to all the other parents out there, but it’s a documented fact) the absolute best kid in the world. Today, however, he managed to push my wife’s buttons something fierce. He and a friend 1) Locked the door to his room 2) trapped the cat under a laundry basket (mind you, they weren’t trying to physically hurt the cat, they just wanted to trap it – the neighbor kid is really, really into traps), and 3) Laughed at my wife when she told them it was time for the neighbor to head home and for Jake to get ready for supper. So I got to play “Mad Dad” tonight. The boy’s door no longer locks (though the door to the basement now does), and he went to bed early. I hate being the heavy, but hey, that’s the price of admission sometimes, and action now is the price of a good kid later.

So the workout was phenomenal mentally.

But stank physically.

Although there’s a lot to be said for exhaustion. Check out Susan’s fight over her shoes and April-Anne’s retirement for a couple of old friends – I’m off to the land of nod.

Rest Day/Weigh In

180 lbs AGAIN. Even after exceeding last week’s goals and avoiding monster most of the time. But following splurging on buffalo wings last night during the pre-game. But it’s all good. I feel more fit, and my clothes are getting bigger.

Forgot to post Sunday’s run – wanted to do 3 miles easy after Saturday’s epic up-hill trek. So I did 3 miles, no problem. Truthfully, the 3 miles went really well. Like 8:15 average pace well, with consistient negative splits well. (8:45/8:20/7:45! – where the heck did that last mile come from?)

But it was a fine way to end the week – absolutely beautiful blue skies, reasonable temperatures, and a general peace and well-being that came from interfacing with folks on active duty and realizing tha there are fine, fine people holding the line.

I went to bed at the end of the third quarter last night, and slept “in” (6 AM) since today was supposed to be a rest day. Woke up, and decided that my single addition (Inspired by but in contrast to Chris’ continual restructuring – not a criticism, but an alternative approach; I wish I had the discipline to dream up challenges like he does) to the program this week was going to be resuming pushups and situps. So, confusing the dog something fierce, I hooked my feet under the sofa and cranked out 40 situps, then flipped over and did 20 pushups. Baby steps.

In any case, today’s been torture. I’m finally caught up at work, so I could have afforded time to go run at lunch. Today was yet another day nice enough to have been made in California. Well, sort of- it hit maybe mid ’50s, which would be a SoCal inclement weather day. But the sun and sky was there, clear as if it’d blown in off of a 6,000 mile fetch riding the trade winds from Japan.

So to heck with rest, I’m swimming tonight.

Second Five-Miler in a week!

I know it’s small fry for those of y’all who are actually in shape, but I had another in my series of small triumphs in my new year of fitness – Saturday’s scheduled 4 miler turned into a five miler, including a schwack-ton of hills. Yippee, I say, and a huge THANKS to the RBF’s continuing support; special shouts this week go to Bugdozer and Jeff for pics of mountains, trails, and double-digit miles. Plus a bit of off-line cycling babble – I am SO looing forward to getting on the bike again. And somewhat bitter about drilling this weekend – I could have oiled, changed cables and pads, and gotten in a ride in the 40 degree weather on Saturday.

Instead, I did my PT run Saturday afternoon. My intention was to run the base permimeter trail, however, with the exception of some icy tire tracks, the trail still had upwards of a foot of snow when I got to it.

So plan B kicked in. I turned around and headed back down the road I was on, but instead of looping around past the gym, I headed up the hill to the hospital. A good long climb to the top, a fabulous view of the Coast Guard Academy. Nice. I ran about halfway down the other side, then realized I still had climbing in my legs, so I turned around and went back over the top. Cruising down the other side, the Forerunner hit 3 miles, with about 1.5 back to the gym, so it was a no-brainer to tack on a little loop to stretch it to five.

I was spent when I hit the gym, and missed out on the runner’s high this time (probably due to the exertion), but had the smug sense of satisfaction that only comes from doing extra miles outdoors and seeing folks on treadmills who missed fresh air, sunshine, and the satisfying crunch of rubber on road.

Da Bomb

Busy couple of days; no time to post, and not much to post, other than congrats to everyone else who’s officially made it through the first month of the year, training program intact. Yippie.

I almost slipped into Super Monster on the way home from work Thursday. I was a little famished from the 5 miler on Wednesday, and since the iTunes/Pepsi promotion is in full swing again, I figured I’d stop by, pick up a free song and some cookies since I’d been so good the last few days.

(Yes, I cheat. First, it’s stupid easy to do. Second, Apple/Pepsi only had to pay out like 5 million of the 100 million songs they gave away last year – my guess is that of the general public, market penetration is maybe 20% have any interest in using iTunes, the other 80% will just throw the caps away)

Anyhow, they only have leaded Pepsis with the caps, but I buy one anyway, figuring that I can hold myself to the half bottle that is actually a serving. (I did, BTW, and saved the rest for Friday) Then I go to look at the Monster aisles.

Strangely, even the Hostess cupcakes don’t look appetizing when I realize that almost everything I can get runs about 400 calories per plastic packet. It’s the wrong time of year to get the baseball cupcakes, though. But nothing was really appealing when I actually thought about it.

Then, I see “The Bomb”. Parliament starts running through my head, and I figure I’ll pick it up and see exactly how awful the burrito is for you. I love burritos. I flip over the package and


Wow, I think as I set it down. That’s like over a quarter of the day’s calories. My mind says to take another look, so I do. THE 600 CALORIES IS FOR ONE SERVING. The burrito is technically TWO servings.

So between the 20 oz Pepsi in my grubby palm and the burrito, I’m looking at, no lie, 1600 calories.

I bought a carton of skim milk (and the Pepsi) instead.

3 miles on the treadmill to get even with the week’s mileage. And more importantly, a new appreciation for how bad 7-11 really is for me.

It’s Baaack…

The Runner’s High, that is.

I do not know that “they” make days visually much prettier than today. The sky was brilliant blue streaked with high white clouds; Naragansset Bay was a deep, clear blue, and the ground is still drifted with snow. Absolutely insane.

It was still chilly, but hovered somewhere near or possibly above freezing. Luckily, I haven’t run into any of the dreaded black ice that plagued Ben. But I got out on my way home from work.

The Forerunner took an abnormally long time to sync up today, so I started out, planning for 5 miles before it locked on to the satellites. It finally picked up sync after about 1/3 of a mile, 3 minutes or so into the run. S o I figured I’d just go ahead and run ’till it registered five miles.

Something just clicked today. It might have been the days on the treadmill – I am beginning to think that running at a regulated pace on the mill helps with pacing in the wild, or it just might be my level of fitness coming back to where it was in September. But the road just kept slipping by.

The iPod helped, too. The run started out with Beck’s “Novicane” – a little bit of whatever the heck Beck is with an adequate amount of screaming guitars, screaming hipster, and electronic noise to get the blood pumping. Then shuffle songs kicked out The Doors’ “When the Music’s Over”, and I got Morrison screaming and Manzarek pounding out keyboard bass for a solid 10 minutes, and then Madonna asked me to “Justify My Love”. Somehow, the music just fell into place – good rhythm and over-the-top energy for most of the run. It finished with Big Head Todd and the Monsters belting out a cover of John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom” that was quite possibly better than the original. I hadn’t realized that my wife had added the album to the shared music library. Amazing what gigs and gigs of storage can get you.

When I got to about the 3 mile point, the fabled Runner’s High kicked in for the first time in a quarter. Suddenly, my legs felt light, my feet were caressing the ground instead of pounding, and my breathing completely evened out to where all I wanted to do was run faster. So I did.

Near the end, I began to realize that I had a distinct possibility of finishing the run in sub-45 minutes for about 5.3 miles.


So I’m up-to-date on mileage for the week, had my absolute best run of 2005, and avoided the snack machine all day.

Tomorrow is going to be a different story – a wanna-be diner has opened up near the office, and I feel a moral obligation to go make sure they carry icebox pies. If there’s none, I know where to send the chefs to Learn.

The cat’s got the crazies tonight, by the way.

— Update —

The diner didn’t have icebox pies. Drat.

Yes, I did find myself singing along. ‘Specially with the “Wanting…Waiting…Hoping…”, which is a scary enough prospect – middle-class white boy, red-faced and sweating, head bopping and singing. No, I have no issues speaking in public, why do you ask?

And the runner’s high? I think it’s only about 50/50 between people who get it and don’t. One of the best runners I’ve known claimed he’d never had it, and the guy could run almost anyone to ground.

This One’s for

Jon – tiny bits of extremely good dessert are much better than large bits of OK dessert.

And this one’s for Chris – grapes after getting home from the Y instead of “monster food” after 9.

And this one’s for Jeff, and exhortations to think of my arms as paddles while swimming.

And for Mark and Aaron, and the meta RBF list.

2,000 yards in the pool tonight, give or take. Smoother and stronger, forget about thinking, and concentrate on watching the tiles going past. See the cross, flip push and twist. Nice.

The “paddle” thing worked wonders – instead of 8 four-count cycles to go the length of the pool, I was reaching it in between 6 and 7 cycles. The showers had tons of hot water. Life was good.

1 February was good on the eating front, too – bran muffin and coffee for breakfast; leftover chili (50/50 97% lean ground beef and ground turkey) for lunch with a diet coke; whole wheat spaghetti, turkey meatballs, and spicy red pepper sauce for supper washed down with a glass of skim (I will never bow to marketing and call it “fat free”) milk. Grapes for dessert.

The swim was blowing the training plan, BTW – today was supposed to be a 3 mile run. Tomorrow’s a 2 miler – I think I may try to stretch it to 5 miles. The last 4 miler felt good. We’ll see.