Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Today's Run...

Temperature: 38 degrees; feels like 33 degrees, with 20-30 mph wind gusts. Ran 6 miles; Linear Trail. Split times? Nope! (Who cares?!) Time: 52:16 (8:42 per mile pace).

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Shorts Weather in Connecticut!

"It's a beautiful mornin', Ahhh,
I think I'll go outside a while,
An jus' smile.
Just take in some clean fresh air, boy!
Ain't no sense in stayin' inside
If the weather's fine an' you got the time.
" The Young Rascals: It's a Beautiful Morning
Yes, I live in Connecticut and was able to run today wearing shorts! It was 50 degrees when I was deciding on what to wear, and since all I've been talking about (ok, blogging about) is the possibility of wearing shorts today, I HAD to do it. So shorts, a short sleeved shirt to "wick away" sweat (ewww), and another grey short sleeved shirt, socks, summer hat, music, running shoes, and I was all set. I headed to the Linear Trail, with the assumption that all the snow had melted, and it would be clear running for my planned 10 mile run. Well, never assume anything. More about that later. Driving the 2 miles from my home to the trail, I passed by six (yes, I counted) runners, all of whom were wearing sweatpants. As I got out of my car at the Linear Trail, I felt a slight chill in the air, and I noticed it was foggy along the trail. I had brought my winter running gear along just in case I wimped out, so now was the moment of truth. I observed the other bikers, runners, and walkers who were either starting or finishing the trail. All except one had long pants on. That made my decision easier. I was going to be the extremist. I was going to run the way I was-no long pants or long sleeves or gloves for me. I was glad to see that the trail had been plowed, so I knew that at least the first 1.5 miles would be clear. Off I went, and about 100 yards down the trail I was questioning my sanity. There was still a chill in the air, and the fog coming off the creek along the trail certainly didn't help. I was seriously thinking about turning around and heading back to my car for a wardrobe change. Realistically that wasn't going to happen, because once I start a run I'm committed to keep on going until I've finished. I have never started, stopped and continued, and it wasn't happening today. I reminded myself that it generally takes me a mile or so to warm up, so onward I went. I settled into a comfortable pace, and decided to distract myself from the cold by concentrating on my music, and enjoying the scenery along the way. I reached mile 1 at 8:45, and this is the only split time I remember. My goal today was to average 9 minutes or less per mile for the 10 miles, or a 1:30.00 total time. I wasn't going to stress on my split times, and I certainly wasn't going to attempt to memorize them either. (See yesterday's blog for how I do split times). As I approached the 1.5 mile point of the trail, I saw partially melted snow and ice lay ahead. I was approaching the part of the trail that, due to it's location, can't be plowed. It's up to Mother Nature to take care of it, and she hadn't done too bad. I slowed down, navigated the slush, snow, and ice for about a tenth of a mile, and resumed my pace. I saw wet blacktop gleaming in the distance, and it looked great. Three-quarters of a mile later, trouble began. Lack of sunlight and plowing meant deeper snow and slush. I scolded myself for not wearing an old pair of running shoes. At this point, being anal as I am, I still plowed through the mess, knowing that 6/10 of a mile more and I would be at mile 3. A slush covered mile 3 would be a good place to turn around and head back. My 10 mile run was going to have to be 3 miles out, 3 miles back, then 2 miles out, and 2 miles back. At least the fog had disappeared, and even though my feet were wet, I still felt warm and comfortable. It was turning out to be a challenging, enjoyable, and refreshing run. I no longer cared about my split times, or even whether or not I was going to break an hour and a half time. I was running past families with children, other joggers, people on bikes, and the slow but steady walkers. I became the social butterfly, and was saying "Hello" to everyone. Most people responded. It was a gorgeous and "warm" gray day in December. One hour, thirty minutes, and 37 seconds later, I was finished. Considering I had to overcome the elements at times, my time was excellent. I averaged a 9:03 per mile pace, which surprised and pleased me. As I said before, my finishing time really didn't matter. Today was one of those running days that makes it all worthwhile. I'll keep reminding myself of that as I limp around the house and apply ice to my left heel. My diagnosis based on internet research is plantar faciitis.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Two Days in a Row=Back on Track

"Get up, get back on your feet" Styx: Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)

Another "runnable" day. Today's weather was 40 degrees, and even though it had rained earlier and was dreary outside, I was ready to rock(listen to my mp3 player) n' run. By the way, I've decided that unless it's a big difference between the actual temperature and the "feels like" temperature, I won't bother mentioning it. Due to assorted aches and pains still being felt from yesterday's run, plus the fact it's supposed to be 60 degrees tomorrow, I decided that 4 miles would be the perfect distance to run. Tomorrow's run will definitely be longer if indeed it is 60 degrees. I decided on my favorite 4 mile course (surprise), which as I've mentioned several times previously, is also the first 4 mile route I created over 2 years ago. It's challenging enough, with uphills and downhills, but no "killer hills." Best of all, like all my street runs, it starts and finishes near my house. I didn't have Stephanie to keep me company, since she decided that the gym was her workout of choice today. I must mention that for the past month or so, I have not used energy gels or energy drinks to "enhance" my performance. I have finally realized and admitted that 1) I still run well without them, and 2) They're expensive, and right now I have a lot more important things to spend my money on. It remains to be seen if I go back to using them again. The gels are usually available during longer distance races, so I know I'll grab them as I'm running. I'll take any "lift" I can get, whether psychological or real during longer race runs. As you've seen by earlier posts, I swear by the Hammer Nutrition products, so at some point I'll probably purchase them again. Okay, back to today's run. Fortunately we've had a lot of rain since the snowstorm, so most of the snow is gone, and the roads are clear. Therefore, I don't have the "road pizza" fear at this time. Plenty of room for me and the vehicles on the road to coexist peacefully. Mile splits today were 8:29, 8:24, 8:16, and 7:43, for a total of 32:52, or an average pace of 8:13 per mile. I really wanted Santa to bring me a Garmin, but that wasn't possible, so I still do my splits the old fashioned way, meaning looking at my Casio wristwatch every mile, and memorizing the times. Yes, there's an easier way to get the split times on it, but I've yet to look at the instruction manual and figure it out. I've been doing it this way for two years, so why change? Overall, I didn't like the "slowness" of my start, but am impressed with my time overall considering I'm just getting back into a regular running routine again. As I said earlier, it may hit 60 degrees tomorrow....unheard of on December 28 in Connecticut. My goal is to run wearing shorts, and of course to have FUN!!. I may run forever tomorrow.... although the new found pain on my left heel may change my mind.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Quality Time With My Daughter

"It's been such a long time" Long Time: Boston

It's been 9 long days since my last run. Crappy weather, getting ready for Christmas, sunset at 4:20 p.m., the list of reasons goes on and on why I waited so long to run. Prior to running, I did as I always do, and checked WTNH.com. I discovered it was an actual temperature of 35 degrees, and also a "feels like" temperature of 35 degrees. Cold, but a refreshing kind of cold. My daughter Stephanie actually agreed to run with me, which was a surprise since she has a cold weather rule that she doesn't run outside unless it's 40 degrees or more. We both agreed that 6 miles sounded good, with my logic being that I needed to run a mile for the amount of days in a row I have "oinked" on Christmas cookies. I'm not sure what her reasoning was, nor did I care since she was in agreement with me about the distance we would run. I let her pick the route, and she chose a new road route that started and ended at our house. Since neither one of us owns a Garmin, or any other high tech satellite technology gizmo, we use http://www.usatf.org/to plot our courses. This particular course was one she created one day by just running around Cheshire for a certain amount of time, and then using, you guessed it, www.usatf.org to see what distance it was. Lo and behold, it was 6.11 miles. Okay, now that I've cleared that up, I have to say that I enjoyed running with Steph. Not that she talks a lot as we run. Actually, most of the time I do the talking for the first mile or so, get very little responses from her, then decide to shut up and allow her and myself to enjoy our individual music and the beautiful day. After all, it's not the conversation that's important. We can talk anytime. It's the joy of spending quality father-daughter time together out on the open road doing something we both enjoy. Today's run was, as I like to say, fun. Well, at least the first 40 minutes were. The last 18:51 wasn't so fun. My legs were definitely feeling the effects of an 8 day layoff. Heavy and tight are two words that come to mind to describe how they felt. But hey, I ran, I spent quality time with my daughter, and it was.....FUN! Total time was 58:51, or a slow and steady 9:38 per mile average pace.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

When Will I Run Again??

"Too much time on my hands" Styx

More snow in the forecast, plus poorly plowed roads, means too much time to eat Christmas cookies and not getting enough exercise by running. No, I won't use our treadmill (dreadmill). I'd rather get fat than feel like a hamster running on its wheel. Believe it or not, I run for fun and the runner's high, rather than for weight loss or maintenance. Anyone who runs understands what I mean. The weight loss or maintenance is a bonus that I love, however! Yes, I know...I work for Weight Watchers and am not always a role model. That's when the "Do as I say, and not as I do" rule applies. That's the same rule that anyone (Lori) who has ever worked in the classroom with me knows I tell the students to follow. Not that I'm not a role model for the most part...just that the 16 year old comes out of me sometimes...damn ADD!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Bah Humbug!!

"Let it snow, let it snow" (NOT!)

Well, unfortunately the weather forecasters were correct. About 8 inches of snow is waiting for me to snowblow. Worse yet, that also means that the Linear Trail won't be an option to run for a while. Plus, when I do run, I'll be hugging the shoulder of the road and hoping that I don't become "road pizza," meaning getting run over by an inattentive driver. Can you tell I absolutely hate winter?! At least after tomorrow we start gaining back daylight.
Today: Sunrise: 7:15 AM Sunset: 4:25 PM. Just 9 hours and 10 minutes of daylight...sigh...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I'm Feeling Lazy

"You'll never get up if you don't get up
You'll always stay down if you sit around" Lazy Days: 10CC

They blew the weather forecast, so I ran.
A short blog because I'm not feeling motivated to hunt and peck on my keyboard. 3 miles, 32 degrees, mile splits 8:30, 16:30, 24:29; 8:09 per mile pace.
Note to self: Don't EVER run without gloves when it's 32 degrees. My hands are SO dried out and cracked. However, gooping vasoline all over my hands, covering them with socks, and going to sleep worked like a charm. P.S. Hi Lori and Ellen!!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Two Mile Warm-up??

"Things are okay with me these days" Billy Joel: Scenes From an Italian Restaurant

The weather forecast for tonight and tomorrow is saying we're going to get rain, sleet, freezing rain, a little snow...you get the idea. It will be too messy to run. So, today was a running day. I decided on my original 4 mile road course, because unfortunately sunset is so stinkin' early now that I didn't have time to run the Linear Trail. It was cold, 33 degrees, "feels like" 31 degrees, with the raw feeling you get in the air just before a winter storm. Fortunately the wind was calm. I set out, deciding that how I felt the first mile or so would determine my pace. I was sucking in cold air, and some of it smelled and tasted like the smell of someone burning wood in their fireplace. My neighbor's were keeping warm, and my lungs were paying the price. For the first time in a long time, it hurt a little to breathe while I ran. Up two hills, and down one, and I passed mile 1 at 8:30. Slower than I expected, but I was okay with it. It was, after all, 2 days after my all out effort in the 5K race, plus I was finally breathing cleaner air that wasn't hurting my lungs. Mile 2, my turnaround point, was just under 17 minutes. Again, no problem, at least my first two miles were consistant. As I headed back towards home, I was warm, breathing easily, and it was time for my gloves to come off. I always feel lighter without them. Stupid, I know, because they probably weigh a combined 5 ounces or so. Running was now, as it usually is, fun. It's relatively flat to mile 3, and I was surprised when I checked my watch and read "25:00." An 8 minute mile, after two 8:30 miles?! Well, the biggest surprise was yet to come, as I completed my run, and was stunned to see my finishing time of 32:38 (8:09/M), meaning my last mile was run in 7:38. Go figure! I guess it took me two miles instead of my customary one mile to warm up.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Results Are In

"It's over, it's over, all over, It's all over now" It's Over: ELO

Results for 2008 Christopher Martins
Christmas Run for the Children
I finished 301 of 1497 runners
48/183 in my division (Men's 50-59)
Time: 22:57
7:24 per mile pace...SWEET!!

2006 time was 25:59
2007 time was 23:26

It was a great day weather-wise for a late fall 5K race. It was clear, crisp, and just a little windy, and about 35 degrees at the 10:15 starting time. My daughter Stephanie decided to run with me, since the forecast of a high of 40 degrees with no rain met her outdoor running requirements. We got to Christopher Martin's ridiculously early (8:30), considering that the race wasn't starting until 10:15. I was pre-registered, but by getting there early, it allowed Stephanie to beat the crowd and register herself. This race probably has my favorite long sleeved t-shirts every year. The artwork on it is well worth the extra $10. After returning to my car to drop off our shirts, we decided to wait inside the bar area of the restaurant to keep warm. About a half hour before the start, the road in front of the restaurant was closed, which meant it was time to go outside, get a free sample of "Monster" energy drink, and run around to warm up and to get warm. We lined up shortly thereafter very close to the starting line. We were close enough to avoid most of the "obstacles," but far enough back to respect the faster runners. After deciding on a post race meeting place (the bar), I said my good-byes to Stephanie as the race began. It was a more difficult obstacle course at the start than I had expected. I was constantly zig-zagging my way around slower runners. Finally at about the 1/2 mile point, the road widened and I settled into a comfortable pace. I knew that once I turned onto Orange Street that mile 1 was close by. As I ran down Orange Street, I heard the split times being called out, and was surprised that I was passing by at 7:13. A terrific start considering all the people I had maneuvered around earlier. For whatever reason, I over compensated for my faster than expected first mile, and found myself at 15 minutes even at mile 2. I had run a 7:47 second mile, which concerned me because my goal was to beat last years time of 23:26, which was a 7:33 pace. I knew that an 8:25 time for the final 1.1 miles was all I needed to beat it. I decided to quicken my pace, especially since I knew that the last mile, as well as the first 2 miles, was completely flat. I was passing runners who earlier had passed me, and at the same time wishing I hadn't worn a long sleeved sweatshirt, t-shirt, and short sleeved wick shirt. I felt too warm, but reminded myself I was in the homestretch. Besides, there was cold beer (yes, beer) waiting for me at the finish. I sprinted down State Street, towards the finish, passing everyone ahead of me, and eyed the clock at the finish line. It was showing 22 minutes plus. I realized that with a strong finishing kick, I could break 23 minutes. I sprinted as fast as I could, and crossed the finish line at 22:57, or 29 seconds faster than last year. The post race hot dogs, bagels, and beer were going to taste like filet mignon and well, GREAT beer!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

6 Miles of Torture

"Running on, running on empty" Jackson Browne: Running on Empty

Today was pure torture running the Linear Trail. I was psyched to do one last run before tomorrow's 5K race, and decided that a leisurely 6 mile run on the trail would be the perfect choice. Once again, split times weren't going to matter, and slow and steady was going to be the rule. Well, slow, but not steady was what I did. Weather wasn't bad, 29 degrees, with a "Feels like" 25 degrees day. My first mile was about 8:45, and from there it was all downhill. Or maybe I should say it felt like I was running uphill. Each preceding mile, 2 through 6, was slower. Problem was, it was more through necessity rather than by my actually taking it easy. Heavy legs, heavy arms, and nothing about the run fit my definition of "fun," which is what running always is for me. I didn't have fun, and even the scenery along the trail just didn't do it today. Plus I was actually even feeling a little depressed...something definitely was wrong. While driving home, the blahs continued, and I was sensing that something was wrong at home. Kind of a "father's gut feeling" that I get whenever my son or daughter get sick. Arriving home, I went inside, and found my son sitting up in his bed, rather than his wheelchair. Sure enough, he wasn't feeling well. Matter of fact, neither was I at that point. So, after a shower, some lunch, and a 3 hour nap, here I sit hunting and pecking at the computer keyboard. I still feel worn out, as does my son. No holiday party for me tonight with my co-workers. Guess I'll see how I feel and my son feels tomorrow morning before deciding whether or not to run the 5K race. Total time today was 55:15 (9:12/M), which was a "snails pace" for me. Who cares?! Not me!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

That's More Like It

"That's the Way I Like It": KC and the Sunshine Band

Today was a more typical December 9th. Good 'ol WTNH.com said it was 46 degrees, with a "Feels like 44 degrees." Plus, a light wind. Perfect December running weather. No prior commitments, including Christmas shopping (Hey, I still have 15 days to shop-why rush it?). I decided to do a 5 miler, and challenge myself since I actually had enough time before sunset. So I chose my daughter's 5 mile route, complete with what we call the killer hills. As I've said before (I think), it has a series of hills between miles 1 and 2, and on warmer days they wear you out. Today they were mere anthills, speedbumps...you get the idea. Nice thing about this route is I haven't bothered to actually check to see where each mile is. So once again, for the second run in a row, I ran without checking my split times. I need to do it more often. As my daughter has reminded me several (thousand) times, sometimes I become to obsessed with my times. Nothing exciting to report...same 'ol, same 'ol I felt good, ran easily, wow, am I getting bored with running??? NEVER! Total time was 40:51, or a pace of 8:10 per mile. No complaints about that, and no, I'm not obsessing over my time. I'm ready for this Sunday's 5K run. The Christopher Martin's Race is famous in CT for the best post race party. That means hot dogs, bagels, danish, yogurt, etc. Best of all, in my opinion, is the 5 kegs of beer that flows for free inside the restaurant. Last year I finished early enough to get front row, which meant drinking many cups of beer on that were on the bar, and passing back the ones I couldn't drink for others to enjoy.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

It's Not Officially Winter Yet

"Now I'm snowblind, snowblind, snowblind": Snowblind: Styx
"Fun, Fun, Fun": The Beach Boys

Today's Forecast
From Storm Team 8 Weather Center
Last Edited: Sunday, 07 Dec 2008, 7:43 AM EST
(WTNH) - Updated Sunday AM. Here is the latest forecast from Storm Team 8 Meteorologist Matt Scott
As expected, just a dusting of snow overnight...totaling at worst, to about an inch across the state. Temps are cold out there, and later today, we'll see the winds pick up from the Northwest, gusting to 40-50 MPH...a Wind Advisory is in effect for the state for this afternoon and tonight.
We stay unsettled as another storm comes in Tuesday....this will start with a little snow, before changing to a lot of rain into Wednesday....
All the best, Meteorologist Matt Scott matt.scott@wtnh.com

SUNDAY: Snow ends early... Winds pick up as the skies clear out. Highs : upper 30s.

I beat the 40-50 MPH wind gusts, but not the snow. After taking care of my parental responsibilities, I changed into my "keep warm" running gear, stretched, checked WTNH.com (32 degrees, feels like 32 degrees), and headed outside. For once I wasn't going to be anal about my total time or pace. Todays goal was to run around 6 miles, and have fun doing so, meaning no mile splits or pressure to run fast. I decided against running the Linear Trail, since I figured it would be snow covered and slippery. After consulting with my daughter, (who doesn't run outside unless it's 40 degrees or warmer), I decided to run her "Sweet Claudes" route. It starts and ends at our home, and is almost entirely run along Route 10, which has sidewalks. Very important on a snowy day. The turn around point is Sweet Claudes, which has incredible ice cream, and yes, they're open during the winter, but no, I didn't go inside. I did stick to my "have fun rule", and actually enjoyed running in the blowing, swirling snow. At times it followed the blowing from the north as it usually does pattern, and at times it didn't. This was annoying, yet "fun." I kept removing my hat and putting it back on. Not only did the run turn out to be fun, but easy as well. The 6.7 miles in my mind went by quickly. Even though I ran for 58:50, it didn't feel that long. My pace per mile, since of course I always have to know, was 8:46. Definitely not as quick as my past three runs, but who cares?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Let There (Still) Be Light

"Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me": Elton John

Today was early dismissal at the school I work at, followed by a workshop called "Handle With Care," where we learn how to handle our students with care should it be necessary. In other words, should a student decide to grab, scratch, spit, choke, or bite us, we now have literature and about 15 minutes of actual training so far to handle the situation. We actually don't have any "problem childs" in our school, the high school, but we are already preparing for next year when we will be getting more "challenging (aka violent) students. So for the next 6 months, we will periodically be learning and practicing our Handle With Care moves. Oh joy. Anyhow, at 2:45 p.m., 15 minutes early, I was able to execute THE Duck and Roll maneuver. If you don't know what a Duck and Roll maneuver is, go back and read it in one of my earlier blogs. Driving home, I was feeling good about the possibility of running during daylight. At home, I went to WTNH.com, as usual, and decided that since it was 35 degrees, and a "Feels Like" 35 degrees, that my normal cold weather gear would be worn. I also was discouraged that sunset was at 4:21 p.m. That meant since I planned on running the Linear Trail, I now had 45 minutes to get changed, drive the 3 miles to the trail, and run before the sun disappeared. I arrived at the trail at 3:50, leaving me just 30 minutes of light. My planned 5 mile run would have to be 4 miles instead. I decided to see if I could keep my streak of averaging less than an 8 minute mile pace intact. Off I went, and at blue #1, my time was 8:13. As usual, my first mile was (hopefully) going to be my worst. I was contemplating whether or not not stretching beforehand may have been a foolhardy decision. At about the mile and a half point, I suddenly felt loose and my pace felt strong. At blue #2, my time was 16:13, which means mile 2 was in eight minutes. I turned and headed back, and quickened my pace. At blue #3, my time was 24:13, which meant another 8 minute mile, but that I also needed to run a 7:46 or better last mile to have a sub 8 minute pace. I went into "Locomotive mode," where I breath short, quick breaths like a train whistle, pump my arms more, and try to increase my stride length. Feeling energetic the entire time, my 4th and final mile was run at a 7:33 pace, for a total time of 31:46 (7:56/M pace). It is my third consecutive run averaging better than an 8 minute per mile pace. Best of all, I was done before the sun had set.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

All I want For Christmas is...


8 p.m. update..took "Ace" to the vet today. My $25 Meriden Humane Society cat cost me an additional $150. He has a respiratory infection and a yeast infection in both ears. I guess that explains why he sounds like Darth Vadar when he breathes, and shakes his head so much I'm afraid he'll get whiplash. So I have 2 different medications to give to him twice a day for 10 days. I had forgotten how much fun it is to try to give a cat medication with a syringe. The shower door looks weird with a pink amoixcillin streak on it. My black work pants have some nice "air holes" in them. Note to self: Wear gloves when giving cat medications. Cat claws tear through fingers easily. Cuts on fingers bleed a LOT. I told my wife and daughter that I'll need some help giving Ace his meds for the next 10 days. I'm still waiting for a response. Note to self: Closest I'll get to owning the Garmin Forerunner 305 is looking at a picture of it.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Life is Good

"I feel good, I knew that I would, now" I Feel Good: James Brown

I got out of work today with good intentions. I was determined to run 5 miles, since it was "warm" (almost 50 degrees), and I had the night off from working at Weight Watchers. I arrived home and was pleasantly surprised to see that my wife had put out the holiday decorations outside of our home. I had actually forgotten that she had taken the day off. I rushed inside, knowing that I had less than an hour before sunset. My lovely wife was putting up our artificial tree, and I had intentions of performing a "duck and roll" to our bedroom and changing into my running gear. My wife had other ideas. She asked for help solving the case of the one strand of lights that didn't work. It's not that I didn't try to help. But every solution I'd come up with was met with the comment "I already tried that." Finally I did what every good husband of 27 years does. I shut up and listened. Long story short, 20 minutes later she had the lights working. And I had my freedom to go change my clothes, now with about 20 minutes to go before sunset. I walked towards my bedroom, and was met by my son exiting the kitchen in his power wheelchair. He asked me if I would do his albuterol treatments with him. Obviously I couldn't tell him "No." Besides, family always comes first. Albuterol treatment completed, I looked outside. Darkness greeted me, but I didn't greet it back. As I've said before, I hate running in the dark. I weighed my options: Wimp out (not really an option, since new cat has vet appt. tomorrow, so I won't be running); run original goal of 5 miles; or since I don't like running after sunset, cut my run back to 3 miles. A 3 mile run was my decision. I dressed, did my stretches, put on my cool glowing, highly visible at night armband, grabbed my music, and headed outside. I looked in the sky, and noticed how beautiful it looked: moon shining brightly, venus nearby, and a few other visible stars. It was a "Life is good" moment. Suddenly, it was going to be alright running in the dark, and with streetlight lit roads. Mile 1 was an 8:16 mile, followed by a 7:50 mile 2, and (drum roll please) a 7:23 3rd mile. Total time: 23:29, or a 7:49 per mile average pace.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I Think I've Figured it Out

"It used to seem to me, That my life ran on too fast, And I had to take it slowly, Just to make the good parts last, But when you're born to run, It's so hard to just slow down" : Steve Winwood: Back in the High Life

Yes, I ran last Friday (3 miles: 24:51; 8:17/M) and Saturday (6 miles: 51:44; 8:37/M), but overall both days were uneventful, so therefore no posts. I believe I was experiencing PMRRLS (Post Manchester Road Race Letdown Syndrome). Sunday I woke up with wicked back pain, which I've finally learned means to slow down and take a day or two off from running. Plus our first visible snow and sleet since last March was another omen not to run. Monday, as usual, was my full time job as a Teacher's Assistant, the weekly boring 3:00 meeting, followed by a 7 mile drive home, and racing around the house like a maniac for 30 minutes trying to shave, freshen up, check on our new cat "Ace," then driving 7 miles back to Wallingford to work at Weight Watchers from 5-7 p.m. As far as Ace goes, I adopted him last Friday from the Meriden Humane Society. I gave up waiting for the Branford Pound to process my application for the 27 lb. cat I saw there a week and a half ago. So of course there was a message from them on our answering machine telling me I could go there and adopt him. As much as I want him, it's not going to happen. Ace is 1 1/2 years old, and an orange and white tabby. He and I were hitting it off well until last night, when I accidentally stepped on his foot. Now he runs and hides whenever he sees me coming. Great...I was the Grim Reaper a few weeks ago with our 16 year old cat, so to help ease my guilt I adopt macho, humane society cat room bully Ace, who now won't give me the time of day. Reminds me of my single days when I'd always strike out with the ladies. It should be fun on Thursday trying to find him, talk him into going into a cat carrier without ripping me apart with his claws, and driving him to the vet for his check-up. That brings me to today. I cut a deal with myself to run a comfortable 3 miles on my road course. Sorta like ease myself back into running, even though my back has been fine since Sunday afternoon. I was feeling tired, having been up since 3:30 a.m., and it was now 4 p.m. So I "cheated" and chugged a 16oz. ERev energy drink to give me a boost. It was cold, so I went the full attire of hat, gloves, long sleeves, running pants, etc. I didn't even bother to check WTNH.com to see the temperature, nor did I stretch. I was being defiant, since I didn't want to run but felt obligated to run since I had the previous 2 days off. My first mile is mainly uphill, but surprisingly I felt good even though I was planning on taking it easy. I hit mile 1 at 8:16, which was about 30 seconds faster than I had planned. Damn energy drink was working too well! The next mile was easy, and I passed my 2 mile mailbox at 16:06, or a 7:50 2nd mile. Ridiculous! This was a take it easy run? Actually it was, since everything felt effortless. At that point I said "Screw it," and went into a full sprint. Seven minutes and twenty seconds later, I was finished. Total time was 23:26, or a 7:48 per mile pace. I think I've figured it out. Cooler weather plus less frequency of running equals faster times when I do run. It only took me two years to realize this....better late than never.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

It Doesn't Get Any Better Than Manchester...

"I can see clearly now, the rain is gone, I can see all obstacles in my way, Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind, It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) Sun-Shiny day." I Can See Clearly Now: Johnny Nash

I've been lazy...I confess. It's 2 days after I completed the Manchester Road Race, and I'm now finally making an effort to write about it. In very few words, it was great. I woke up at 5 a.m., and ate my usual breakfast of two english muffins with peanut butter and Smart Balance. Gross, I know, but it's a flashback to my youth, when I would eat peanut butter and butter sandwiches. After getting my son showered, shaved, and dressed, I was still on target for my planned driving departure time of 8 a.m. I checked WTNH.com, and was pleased to see that it was still supposed to be "rain free," with a high of around 48 degrees. It was only 29 degrees at that point, so I decided to wear some of my "cheap" running gear, which means my long sleeved wick through shirt ($5.00 on clearance at WalMart this past spring), with a short sleeved wick through shirt (free for competing in a previous 5K race). I also put on shorts and running pants, with the hope of shedding the pants pre-race if the sun was warm enough. I did not bring my mp3 player, since Manchester is the one and only race that the crowd is large and vocal enough to overide the need for music. Their cheering is always music to my ears. I programmed my TomTom, and at 8:05 was on my way for the 45 minute drive. TomTom decided to have me exit what I thought was way too soon, and I found myself driving the last 7 miles along local roads instead of the highway. However, I have since found out that the highway traffic near the road race was backed up, so TomTom actually did me a favor. I guess I have a "psychic" GPS, since it doesn't have the traffic option programmed into it. I arrived at the Manchester Town Hall at 8:45, as planned. I always park there since it's free, away from traffic, about a half mile from the start/finish line, and most importantly a 1/4 mile from Dunkin' Donuts, where I always have my post race coffee. I debated whether to shed my long pants, but decided against it since as I went outside my car I was greeted with a chill in the air. Besides, I figured it was 45 minutes away from the suggested line up time of 9:30, so I still had time to change my mind before the 10:00 start time. I walked towards the start/finish line, which was about a half mile away. Fox 61 news was setting up, and of course I kept my eyes and ears open for any reporters or cameras. Yup, I wanted to be on tv. As I walked down Main Street, towards the start/finish line, I stopped and watched as the fire department hung the traditional HUGE American flag suspended between the end of two firetruck ladders . It is located about a 1/4 mile from the start/finish line. It gives me goosebumps every year to see it. It was still chilly, so I spent the next fifteen minutes walking and slowly running up and down Main Street, while looking for my co-worker Grace, and my son's friends Christine and Julie, who were also running. At 9:15 people were already starting to line up according to their anticipated finishing time. It was now or never as far as returning to my car and adding hat and gloves, or losing long pants. I decided to stay the way I was. I headed for the 35 to 40 minute area, and was disappointed that no one was checking for seeding cards, which as I said in an earlier post, I had. The other time groups were fenced off, and cards were checked there. So my "Under 40 minutes" card was, in effect, worthless. I was soon joined by fathers and their young children, as well as teenagers who were encouraging their friends to cut in and join them. In other words, I was surrounded by "obstacles," meaning slow moving runners who hadn't adequately trained to run the 4.75 miles. At 9:45, I heard someone call my name, and was surprised to see Christine and her sister Julie directly behind me. They told me they had just arrived, and had snuck in under the fence on the side. Again, so much for me having a seeding card! Well, at least I had someone to talk to, and since they were behind me, they were someone elses obstacles! At this point the sun was shining stronger, I was feeling cozy warm, and I was questioning whether or not I was going to be overdressed. As I listened to the pre-race announcements, I was amazed at the number of registered runners: 11,800. A new record. I was thrilled that about 10,000 of them were starting behind me. Finally it was 10:00, everyone sang along to the Star Spangled Banner while facing the flag behind us, and the race began to the music of "God Bless America," as it does every year. I decided to start my stopwatch as I crossed the starting line, so I could have my actual time, or "Net time" as I ran. I took one last look to make sure my "SAI timing tag" was still fastened around my shoelaces. It's a brand new method of timing races, and the nice thing about the tag is it works the same as the timing "chips" that most races use, except you get to keep it afterwards. No more trying to unlace your shoes while you're exhausted so you can return your timing chip. 50 seconds later, I was officially on my way. I immediately headed for the left side of the road, knowing that the first turn is a left and comes quickly. For the most part, people tend to stick to the middle at this point. After some zig-zagging in between and around other runners, I was where I wanted to be. A left turn onto Charter Oak Street, and I knew that soon I would be greeted by all the patrons of the Hungry Tiger bar, whose sole purpose is to drink a lot and cheer for everyone running by. I always make sure I move over to the right side of the street so I can be near them as I pass by. They were not only in front of the bar, but also on the roof, drunk as can be, and cheering everyone on. Somewhere around there I reached the 1 mile mark, and a quick check of my watch revealed... at this point I must confess that my mile split times are a guestimate! I think my time was around 8:15. I knew from previous years that I was off to a GREAT start because 1) I had passed many "obstacles", and 2) a long uphill was just ahead, meaning I could probably pass any remaining obstacles. Running up hills is where I tend to pass others due to my long legs. Miles 1 to 2 consisted of running up the long, gradual hill. As others walked or slowed down, I picked up my pace. Mile 2 time was also a blurr...somewhere around 16:30, or another 8:15 mile. It's a blurr since I was busy cursing myself for forgetting that the steep downhill part of the race doesn't come until after the steep uphill just after mile 2. So I had miscalculated when the uphill part ended, and instead had to kick it into a faster gear in order to attack the steep uphill. All the time I kept reminding myself that I would be rewarded once I reached the top. As I saw the sign for Porter Street, I knew it was time for a left turn, and my reward. The steep, yet fun downhill portion had arrived! I was smiling like the Cheshire Cat, and I passed mile 3 at around 23:50 (7:20 pace mile 2 to 3), meaning my pace per mile was now at 7:57. Just 1 3/4 miles to go, and I was not only going to break 40 minutes, but I was going to SHATTER it!! I had the best runner's high I've ever experienced. Best of all, it was all natural, meaning no energy drinks or energy gel. Just 100% pure adrenaline. I was focusing on the cheering crowd, 5 deep in some places, as well as the beautiful day, bagpipers, and live bands and cd's blaring. Between miles 3 and 4 is a house that every year blasts out the "Theme From Rocky." That is the song as far as getting me psyched. I spaced out and missed the one and only water station. No matter, I was having fun. I never wanted the race to end. I was painfree, breathing easily, and running completely effortless. Mile 4 was reached at around 31:20, meaning a 7:30 mile. Around mile 4 1/2, I saw a camera and a Channel 61 reporter in the crowd. I'm pleased to say that I TIVO'd the race, and can be clearly seen for 3 seconds on Channel 61, from "unofficial gun time" of 35:26 to 35:29. My 3 seconds of road race fame! Shortly thereafter I turned onto Main Street, and headed for the finish. My common sense reminded me that I still had about a half mile to go, and not to start my finishing kick. My uncommon sense said to go for it, since Main Street is wide and has thousands of cheering spectators on both sides. How could I disappoint them?! Besides, I still felt greater than great, and I spotted another Channel 61 camera plus the road race photographer over to the right. I swung out wide, making sure they both had clear shots of me. Well, Channel 61 didn't show Main Street at that moment, so I have to settle for my 3 seconds of fame. I'll find out in a few days how "buff" my race photos are. I know I ran the entire length of Main Street with a smile on my face. The finish line came quickly...too quickly. After 36 minutes, 42 seconds of "net time" running, my journey had ended. Not only had I beaten my goal of finishing in under 40 minutes by 3 plus minutes, I also averaged a 7:43 per mile pace. Along with running and completing 2 marathons, it was my most memorable running experience ever.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Manchester, Manchester, Manchester

"I understand about indecision; But I dont care if I get behind; People livin' in competition; All I want is to have my peace of mind." Peace of Mind: Boston

I know...all I've talked about lately is the Manchester Road Race. Well, guess what I'm going to be talking about today?! No time to run yesterday due to my Weight Watchers job. I really wanted yesterday to be my final run before, you guessed it, the Manchester Road Race. Today I debated for about 2 seconds whether or not I was going to go for a run after work. The rain had gone away, and the sun was shining. I got home, logged into WTNH.com, and discovered that it was 41 degrees, "feels like" 38 degrees. A "heat wave" compared to the temperatures this past week. So, my 2 seconds decision was to go for a run. However, I needed to use common sense since the Manchester Road Race (4.75 miles) is now less than 2 days away. I chose my 3 mile road course. I figured I'd take it easy, enjoy the run, and not worry about my time. As I settled into my pace, it felt so right. Even though the sun had disappeared behind the clouds, the temperature had dropped, and my hands were cold (forgot to wear my gloves), my legs were moving well. I hit my one mile point at 8:26, which was fine since home to mile one is a series of small, annoying hills. Mile one to two I felt so good that I increased my speed. I reached mile 2 at 16:26, or an eight minute 2nd mile. Nice thing was, I still was enjoying my run. Everything was as perfect as it could be. My time for the final mile was 7:45, for a time of 24:11 (8:03/M) for the 3 miles. Well, tomorrow is a day off from running, then "Turkey Day" is the race. Myself and 10,000 other runners and walkers burning calories and having fun doing so. Thanksgiving turkey always tastes so much better after I've run the Manchester Road Race.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I'm Ready For the Manchester Road Race

"Take it easy, take it easy" The Eagles: Take it Easy

An early morning run today. I left my house at 7:45 a.m., and finished back home at around 8:30. Temperature was 20 degrees, "feels like" 13 degrees. After the first couple of miles, I didn't care. I thought my time was going to be slow, meaning around a 9 minute mile pace. I ran the 5 mile route created by my daughter Stephanie, and I wasn't winded, feeling any pain, or struggling at all. It was too easy, therefore my belief of a 9 minute mile pace, especially since I decided I wasn't looking at my stopwatch until I finished. I was shocked when I finished and looked at my watch: 41:29 (8:17/M). I stared in disbelief, and checked it again several times while inside. I thought the cold had numbed my brain cells. Well, needless to say, I'm ready to run the 4.75 mile Manchester Road Race on Thanksgiving. I'm not sure if I'll do another run beforehand...do I really need to?!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Today's High Temperature: 29 Degrees

"Lucky I'm sane after all I've been through; I'm cool (He's cool); I can't complain but sometimes I still do; Life's been good to me so far." Joe Walsh/The Eagles: Life's Been Good

Nothing like a refreshing 6 mile run on the linear trail. 3 miles out, with the wind at my back, then turn around and run the 3 miles back with a cold, icy wind blowing in my face. Yes folks, today's high temperature in Cheshire Connecticut was a brisk 29 degrees, with a wind gust of 30 mph, which I'm guessing occurred as I was running miles 4 to 6. I was in full winter running gear of hat, gloves, wick through shirt, long sleeved cotton shirt, shorts, sweatpants, and for the first time, sweatshirt. It's a month away from officially being winter, and I'm dressing like it's February outside. How depressing. Today's time was 50:51 (8:28/M). I would have had a better time, but the 30 mph gust between miles 3 and 4 made me feel as if I was running on a treadmill. Well, at least there wasn't thunder and lightning. By the way, Manchester Road Race is in 4 plus days. I'm psyched. 10,000 runners and lots of spectators plus, for the first time ever:
Fox 61 to televise Manchester Road Race LIVE. Damn, I'm doing my best to be on tv!!


"(You got) Bad luck; That's what you got, that's what you got; (Yes, uh) Bad luck; That's what you got, that's what you got; Bad luckThat's what you got, that's what you got; (You got) Bad luck, bad luck (Bad)": Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes: Bad Luck

Current temperature outside: 19 degrees; feels like 13 degrees. Oh, and I just discovered that our furnace isn't working. At least we have a full tank of oil. That's ok, because we have a propane fireplace to help keep us warm. BUT I just checked the propane tank. The gauge reads below empty. The oil company is coming out today to repair our furnace. A Saturday service call on a chilly day should cost me about a billion bucks. The propane company will get back to me today, or so says the woman I talked to from the answering service. Well, I was close...sorta. I already had scheduled a propane delivery for next Tuesday. As Maxwell Smart would say, I "Missed it by THAT much." I hate you people living in Florida, Arizona, California, and wherever else it's warm!!
UPDATE: $219.42 to repair/clean furnace and hot water heater. Thank-you Giacco Oil of Meriden for arriving an hour after I called you, fixing the problem, and charging a fair price. Propane delivery will be on Tuesday, as scheduled. An extra $100 to have it delivered today wasn't worth it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Humphrey's, Fratelli's, and McDonalds Oh My!

"They say it's your birthday, We're gonna have a good time, I'm glad it's your birthday, Happy birthday to you" The Beatles: Birthday

Well, once again I went overboard with the eating and drinking. Yesterday was fun, but insane. A co-worker of mine, Pam, turned 49 yesterday. Her husband passed away recently, and she wanted her co-workers, meaning me and about 20 others who attended, to celebrate with her. Celebrate I/we did. I got a head start at Humphrey's with Carissa, my "Bar Buddy," and "Jamba Jane." Jane's nickname comes from several of us going to New York City several months ago to attend a taping of the Letterman show. Jane was feeling no pain after consuming I don't know how many drinks. She decided that Jumba Juice had a fun name, so she in her intoxicated state of mind was walking around NYC shouting out "Jamba." She even had her picture taken at a few Jamba Juice locations. Strange, but true. So after 3 Sam Adams' at Humphrey's (thank-you bar babe bartender Alisha), we three headed for Fratelli's Restaurant, which fortunately was a mile away. Oh, it's also located 3 doors away from Weight Watchers. I almost went to Weight Watchers to say "Hi," but thought better of it since a) I was "buzzed," b) I didn't know who was working, and c) I figured I'd say and/or do something stupid like step on the scale and shout out something like "Dammit, I shouldn't have gone to Humphrey's and drank 3 beers and eaten two freakin' pails full of their delicious chips before I came here." I almost forgot how I nearly peed my pants when Jamba kept getting phone calls at Humphrey's, and was telling whoever called that she was stuck in traffic, then was getting gas, then was on her way. All this while sitting at the bar. OK, it doesn't seem so funny as I read this, but it WAS funny if you were there. Trust me. Anyhow, at Fratelli's Jamba kept flirting with whatever guy at the bar would buy her a drink. I think she drank for free the entire night. Carissa was standing, kind of, at the opposite end of the room. The more she drank, the more she swayed. I can compare it to palm trees swaying in the breeze. I was getting dizzy just looking at her. I for whatever reason became a "food mooch." I never do that, but I guess since I couldn't flirt and get free drinks like Jamba, I needed a challenge myself. As a food mooch, I was able to get pizza, bread, and even a free drink from a co-worker. So I spent $3.75, and fed myself and drank 2 beers (Coors Light this time). Since I knew I had to get up this morning at 4 a.m., I said my "Good-byes" at 7:30 and headed for home. Drinking 5 beers and eating chips, bread, and pizza had clouded my judgement too much. Then it happened....my car started heading in a different direction then it should have to get home. I found myself at the drive-through window of, you guessed it from reading a previous blog, McDonald's. I was at Mickey D's, ordering a double cheeseburger and two regular fries. Here I was already stuffed, yet I ordered MORE food. So the drive home consisted of me steering with my left hand, and stuffing french fries and the cheeseburger down my throat with my right hand, Like always, I neglected to order anything to drink, so I ended up with an overstuffed gut, and some wicked and loud hiccups from eating too much, too fast. I'm not sure if I left any "floor food." I'll have to look tomorrow. Overall, it was a fun time, but my Thursday morning weight of 178.8 (down 4.7 lbs. from 11/3) will surely rise during the upcoming days. Hence, since I didn't run today (went to look at a 27 lb. cat at the animal shelter), I certainly will be running this some longer distances this weekend in the sub-freezing temperatures.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


"And I got such a long way to go... So I'll ride like the wind. Gonna run like the wind." Christopher Cross: Ride Like the Wind

I didn't run on the Linear Trail as planned. It's one downfall is that it doesn't have lighting (only "lightning"), so long story short, I ran on the roads. Before running, I once again consulted WTNH.com and groaned when I read the following: Temperature: 28 degrees...Feels like 23 degrees. Yup, you know the routine. Same running gear as yesterday, plus my yellow arm band with the battery powered red light so I'm visible in the dark. My greatest fear of running at night is that there's always the possibility I become "road pizza," meaning some person talking on their cell phone and not paying attention to the road runs me over. I always make sure I'm visible, run on well lit roads, and of course hug the curb whenever traffic approaches me. Of course not being able to see as well as most people in the dark hinders me a little bit. I always console myself by thinking that if I ever get run over, at least I'll die with a smile on my face since I'll be doing two of my favorite things: Running and listening to 70's music. OK, on to more pleasant thoughts. My time and distance was 5.1 miles: 42:09 (8:15/M). Once again, I'm satisfied. I'm actually enjoying running in the cold, at least for now. This time of the year I feel like I'd rather be living in the west, where it's always warm, and football's on at 10 a.m. However, due to lots of reasons that I won't go into, that cannot and will not happen. Anyhow, tomorrow will not be a running day. A co-worker who recently lost her husband has invited all of us at work to go out after work and celebrate her birthday. It's an offer I can't refuse. Problem is, the restaurant she picked doesn't serve beer, and I don't drink wine. So my gameplan is to go to Humphrey's first, have some Sam Adams, then head to the restaurant she's at. I am already having flashbacks to the 70's show "Lost in Space," and the robot waving his arms and shouting "Warning-warning, danger-danger." Yes, I know, I'm showing my age and not acting it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Is it Winter Already?

"Everyone knows it's Windy" The Association: "Windy"

OK, I know it's technically still fall. However, running 4 miles today on the road, with a temperature of 32 degrees (feels like 29, according to WTNH.com website) was a reality check. I probably won't be able to run wearing shorts and a short sleeved shirt again for another 4 or 5 months. BUMMER!! Today's attire consisted of a hat, gloves, short sleeved "wick" shirt, long sleeved shirt, shorts, and sweatpants....did I forget anything? I was going to "cheat" and run 3 miles, reminding myself that I had a meeting at 5:30 to attend. Problem was, no matter how I did the math, I still had enough time to run a longer distance. So I used my normal logic of 3 miles was too short, but due to time constraints and the cold temperatures, 5 miles was too far. Guess what distance I settled on?! I decided to run my original 4 mile course, since it doesn't have any "killer hills." Off I went, cursing the "feels like 29 degrees temperature," along with the wind which was blowing from the west, meaning my last mile was going to be run into it. My first mile was an 8:36, which meant I was doing too much whining, and not enough running. So I picked up the pace, and it started feeling like a "runners high" was on the way. Maybe drinking the 16 oz. can of Erev energy drink helped. My 2 mile time was 17:06, or an 8:30 mile...still not acceptable. I turned around, and headed for home, determined to do better. By then I was feeling fantastic: warm, cooling breeze, pain free, and running without effort. The dark clouds and falling leaves seemed to me like a beautiful scene. Yup, the runner's high had arrived. I hit the 3 mile point at 25:06...an 8 minute mile! I was running with and like the wind. I cranked out the last mile, pain free, mega-high, and effortless. Last mile time was 7:32....what can I say?? Overall, I ran a 32:40 4 miler, for an average of 8:10 per mile. Tomorrow I'm off from Weight Watchers, so I'm hoping to run a 5 or 6 miler at the Linear Trail. The forecast is for the same weather as today, but at least I won't have to worry about my swimming ability!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Lot Has Happened This Past Week

"Talkin' to myself and feelin' old; Sometimes I'd like to quit; Nothing ever seems to fit; Hangin' around, Nothing to do but frown; Rainy Days and Mondays always get me down." The Carpenters

So I'm sitting at our computer, 7:15 in the morning, using the "hunt and peck" style of typing, (meaning typing with both middle fingers) and I check the weather forecast...

(WTNH) - Forecast Updated Saturday AM
From Meteorologist Matt Scott
Another day full of showers and storms, as a front passes through. Stand by for blustery winds picking up later in the day.
All the best, Meteorologist Matt Scott
SATURDAY: Showers and thunderstorms. Windy with gusts to 40 mph possible. Highs : Low 60s.

"All the best?!" What the heck kind of a greeting is that, Matt? You're telling me that today's forecast means I'll have to cut back on my planned 10 mile run, plus get soaking wet, plus run alone because my daughter Stephanie surely won't be as foolish as me and run in a torrential downpour. The only consolidation I get is "All the best?" At least when I checked Channel 3's website for the forecast, which basically says the same thing as Channel 8's website, Chief Meteorologist Bruce DePrest says to "Have a great weekend!" That's a little more encouraging. At least I can wear shorts and a short sleeved shirt today, which is great since I live in Connecticut and it's November 15th. So later on when I run, I'll do my 3 mile course, which starts and ends at my house, and if it's not raining too hard, and I'm not too wet, I'll add on miles by running half mile loops around the block.
A lot has happened this past week. Sunday was the Rams vs. Jets game. As promised, I consumed "mass quantities" (I think I'm stealing that from Coneheads) of beer and food. Coors Light (total of 10 I believe), pulled pork, kielbasa, sauerkraut, hot wings, cheeseburgers (in paradise), potato chips...I think that was everything. My theory is that when I drink, especially if I'm starting at 9:30 in the morning, I need to establish a food base to help absorb the alcohol. The game was a blowout. Jets won 47-3, which made everyone happy except my Brother-in-Law Tad. But I couldn't harass him too much, since he was my Designated Driver.
After a day off from running on Monday, (I wonder why?!) I took advantage of having Tuesday off and headed to the Linear Trail. I finally ran 10 miles, actually 10 1/2, since I had a brain fart and lost track of the spray painted numbers as I ran. I was satisfied with my time of 1:37.11: (9:15/M), which included me stopping for a bathroom break and a drink from the water fountain. Great thing about the trail is it has 2 water fountains I run by, plus plenty of opportunities to use the outdoor bathroom (woods). I know, "TMI." Wednesday was a tough day, and as a result I didn't have it in me to run. I had to bring our 16 year old cat Shadow to the vet to be put to sleep. She's been sick, and had kidney failure, so we had no choice since she was suffering. It was a horrible experience, and I hope to never have to do it again. I have to admit that I cried like a baby before, during, and afterwards. It's still bothering me, but I'm trying to ease my guilt by getting a "macho" cat for myself. No luck so far...so Thursday I slacked and didn't run (Post "Grim Reaper Syndrome?"); yesterday I did everything I could to avoid running, but eventually went for a 3 mile road run, which took me 25:04 (8:21/M). I was proud of myself for heading home after work, and driving past "Humphrey's" instead of to "Humphrey's." Which brings me up to today, which I talked about earlier.
UPDATE: Well, I went to the linear trail, figuring I could run 2 miles out, and 2 miles back, for a total of 4 miles. Yeah right...it was POURING rain, but I decided that it was ok, because it would be another learning experience, meaning that sometimes I have to suck it up and run in the rain. Hey, it rained even harder on Thanksgiving day in 2006 when my daughter and I ran the Manchester Road Race, and it was 40 degrees, so I knew I could do it today. So, I set out on my run, shoes sloshing in the rain, trying to dodge the huge puddles on the paved path. (I was smart enough to wear an old pair of running shoes). As I'm running, I started yelling like a fool: "Bring it On," "Wetter is Better," and whatever other stupid phrases came into my mind...all in an attempt to keep from realizing that I very well could drown, especially since I really don't swim very well. There was that much water. I turned the corner, passed the .3 mile marker, all as the intensity of the rain continued to increase. It was literally coming down in buckets. That was when I decided that 2 miles would be sufficient, provided my now rain covered, fogged glasses didn't impede my sight so much that I either a) ran into a tree; or b) ran into the creek along the trail. Then it happened: thunder, followed by lightning. Thunder and lightning on November 15th in Connecticut?! I thought I was hallucinating, but a repeat episode made me realize that I needed to turn around and run as fast as I could back to my car before I became a human lightning rod. Well, since I'm typing this, you know I made it. Overall, I ran about 9/10 of a mile, in a little over 8 minutes. Who cares? I'm alive and not treading water at the Linear Trail. By the way, as I sit here at 1 p.m., there's not a drop of rain coming down. "All the best." Rick

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Football Game Today!!

Going to see the Jets vs. Rams at the Meadowlands. I'm not going to behave, because I'm not driving. So that means too much drinking, too much eating, and definitely my streak of running for 5 days straight will not become a 6th day...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Were There Rocks in My Socks??

"Running on - running on empty, Running on - running blind, Running on - running into the sun, But Im running behind" Jackson Browne, Running on Empty

Cheshire Linear Trail...cloudy, drizzly, a blah kinda day. BUT, warm enough (55 degrees) to wear a t-shirt and shorts. Instead of feeling like I had rockets in my pockets, it felt as if I had rocks in my socks. I really wanted to go for a ten mile run today, just because. As I started my run, it just didn't feel as comfortable as it usually does. Maybe running the previous four days had taken a toll on the pep in my step. At least I had company. Families, joggers, and walkers were still on the trail despite the weather. Fortunately it wasn't as busy as it usually is on a Saturday. (The trail starts in Cheshire, the town I live in, and continues through Hamden and into New Haven, where it ends. It's about 8 miles one way. More info. is available at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farmington_Canal_Trail.) During my first mile, and into my second mile I determined that today was not going to be a 10 mile day. I felt that 8 miles wasn't in the cards either. So I reluctantly turned around at the blue spray painted "3" in Hamden, and headed back towards Cheshire, planning on running a 6 miler. But heading back I actually started to feel better... kinda like I had marbles instead of rocks in my socks. I made a deal with myself that if I still felt like this at the end, that I would turn around and run to the one mile marker and back again, for a total of 8 miles. Well, I did, and I did. So, bottom line is a 1:10.19 (8:47/M) 8 mile run today.

Fourth Day in a Row

"On the seven seas there was a phantom ship acoming, Shinin' in the dead of night, I heard the crew a hummin' Tunes that sounded like the Rolling Stones and Leonard Cohen. But they didn't know the words, So I assumed that they was foreign." Electric Light Orchestra, Illusions in G-Major

I have to recommend a song to download into your Ipod. It's "Illusions in G Major" by the Electric Light Orchestra a.k.a. ELO. It's located on their "Eldorado" album, yes album, from way back in the 70's. It wasn't a single, but it was the "B" side of one of their singles. If you never owned a "45," then you have no clue what I'm talking about. Anyhow, if you can find it, download it. It's guaranteed to put some "pep into your step." If anyone actually reads this and has songs that are more recent to recommend to me, please do so. Being stuck in the 70's music wise is difficult sometimes.
OK, yesterday I skipped Happy Hour at Humphrey's and came home. I did what my co-worker Jim calls the "Duck and roll," meaning at exactly 3 p.m. I signed out, sprinted to my car, and drove home. This helped me avoid the possibility of my other co-workers, most who are younger, hot looking women, talking me into going out for "Just one drink." As all of you know, there's no such thing at Happy Hour as "Just one drink." One delicious tasting Sam Adams develops into having "Just one more," which leads to several just one mores, which leads to going to Mickey D's on the way home for the double cheeseburger and two regular fries off the dollar menu, which leads to driving home with one hand on the wheel, and the other hand stuffing the double cheeseburger and fries into my mouth. What's really cool is that any fries that don't make it to my mouth become "floor food," meaning they sit on the floor of my car for future consumption. Yes, I have eaten floor food in the past.
Well, before I finally went out for a run, I did everything I could to NOT go out for a run. The cats food dish needed food and water, I separated the laundry and washed a load, I folded and put away the clothes in the dryer, I checked the messages on the answering machine...you get the idea. By the time I was done stalling, it was nearly dark. Had I not procrastinated, I would have run 5 miles. Instead, I ran four miles, on the first running route I created here in Cheshire. It was once again warm enough to wear shorts and a t-shirt (Yea!), and I ran a 32:37 (8:07/M). I'm noticing a pattern this week: all my times are very close as far as pace per mile, which makes me extremely happy. Plus it's pretty much effortless. Today I'm planning on running somewhere between 6 and 10 miles on the Linear Trail. I always look forward to the weekend and my Linear Trail runs. More later...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

And I Wonder, Still I Wonder, Who'll Stop the Rain

"Let it rain, let it rain, Let it rain, rain, rain." Eric Clapton

Nope, I wasn't going to let the rain keep me from running. After all, I'm encouraged by the fact that my bathroom scale was MUCH kinder to me this morning: 180 lbs. I'll take it, considering it was mooing at me on Monday as I weighed in at 183.5. I decided to cut back my distance to 3 miles, since 5 minutes before I went outside I could hear the rain pounding on my skylights. Fortunately when I started my run it had stopped. So I ran my 3 mile course the regular way, having learned my lesson yesterday. The worst part was the final mile, when I headed north and was met with a faceful of rain. The rain kept me company until I finished. Running in the dark, in the rain, and wearing glasses that I have to keep wiping off isn't fun. Anyhow, enough complaining. My time of 24:24 (8:08/M) was better than expected...life is good.

Getting Carded is a Good Thing

"I've been standin' here waitin' Mister Postman, So patiently, For just a card, or just a letter" Marvelettes

Just went through yesterday's mail and found this postcard:

Manchester Road Race
192 East Center Street
Manchester, CT 06040

Permits entrance to the under 40 minute starting area.

Line up behind the elite runners in order to give them an unimpeded start.

For safety and efficiency of the start DO NOT give this card to another runner.

This card must be presented before 9:45 A.M. on raceday at the under 40 minute starting area.

Bottom line is, my 39:56 time from last years race paid off. Now I get to start ahead of the people/obstacles that I'm usually zig zagging my way around at the start.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Running Backwards... Sorta

"Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes (turn and face the strain) Ch-ch-changes, Pretty soon now you're gonna get a little older, Time may change me, But I cant trace time" David Bowie

SUCCESS!! First I'd like to say that being able to run wearing shorts and a short sleeved shirt in Connecticut on November 5th was truly a gift. Wednesday is a Weight Watchers work night, so I had planned to go 3 miles. However, I felt great at the end and had a little extra time, so I did 2 laps around the block for an extra mile. My time was decent (33:40; 8:20/M), so I'm happy. I decided to be creative, and run my 3 mile course backwards. OK, I didn't run backwards, but rather ran it in reverse. My reasoning was twofold. First, it would allow me to start with a less hilly first mile, and finish downhill. Second, it would psychologically be a different route to run. Well, stupid me forgot about the STEEPER hill I had to run up for the first quarter mile. That hill is usually part of the downward part of the last quarter mile I run to the finish. Having conquered that and breaking into a sweat much earlier than I anticipated, I was good until halfway through when I saw a nasty hill waiting my ascent..yes, a hill that's normally DOWNHILL. I had an easier time running over it than I thought I would, but I realized at that point that I would have been better off running my route the regular way. Important thing is that I was able to go to work with an official "Runner's High," and that I beat the pouring rain that occurred a half hour after I completed my run. Perhaps I'll step on the scale tomorrow...

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

That's Not an Earthquake, That's Me Running

"I feel the earth move under my feet" Carole King

3 o'clock didn't come fast enough today. After stepping on my bathroom scale this morning and hearing it scream for mercy (I'm lying, it's a digital scale), I had another "wake-up call." Yes, consuming mass quantities of beer and food this past weekend at Atlantic City certainly expanded my waistline in a hurry. It's not my fault that Harrah's gave my wife a free room. Hey, she turned "50" on Sunday, and we had to celebrate. It IS my fault that I had absolutely no problem taking advantage of the free beer while gambling. A $10 tip ahead of time was adequate motivation for waitress "Tammy" to make sure I never went more than 15 minutes empty handed. So what if it wasn't Sam Adams. After all, Coors Light is my second favorite beer after all. 183.5, yes, 183.5. I like to be 175, I'll accept 179.99. I'm typing it so I have a motivational visual. I need to get serious this week, and I started today. A 41:15 (8:15/M) 5 miler is a good start-no, it's a DAMN good start. I need to make time to run, or run when it's dark (it's now dark by 5 p.m.). OK, 'nuff said. Talk is cheap. As Nike says, I have to "Just do it."

Monday, November 3, 2008

Too Much Eating and Drinking, Not Enough Running

"So Drink To Me Drink To My Health..You Know I Can't Drink Any More." Picasso's Last Words (Drink To Me):Paul McCartney

Well, life's been hectic, but fun. This past Thursday the company my wife works for threw her a surprise 50th birthday celebration. Randee, her co-worker, did a fantastic job sending my wife all over Hamden and Cheshire looking for clues and gifts that eventually led her home. From there I drove the 2 of them to Humphrey's Bar and Grille in Wallingford for her birthday bash. A fun time was had by all. Needless to say, I ate and drank way too much. Friday I had all intentions on going home after work for a 5 mile run and skipping Happy Hour at Humphrey's. After all, I had been there less than 24 hours earlier, right?! WRONG! Peer pressure from co-workers Carissa and Grace changed my mind. So, more beer and food for me, and of course even though I left at a decent time, I didn't go for a run. Saturday I DID go for an 8 mile run. Why 8 miles?? Well, 5 seemed like it would be too short, and 10 seemed like it would be too long. That's always my "Runner's logic." It felt great running the Linear Trail once again. My time was a little slow, 1:11.46 (8:58/M), but I was satisfied with how I felt. No knee or achilles pain. The past 2 days were spent in Atlantic City (Harrah's) with my wife, celebrating her real birthday, which was Sunday. (Details above)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I Haven't Been Running, I Haven't Been Slacking

"People try to put us d-down (Talkin' 'bout my generation) Just because we get around (Talkin' 'bout my generation)" The Who

So just when I get back on track, or should I say "back on the road," life gets busy and I don't run. Yes, this past Sunday was the last day I ran. This Saturday will be the next day I run. A 6 day break is usually unacceptable for me, but I do have legitimate reasons for my lack of a runner's high. Monday I worked my regular job, then a 5:15 (hey, another "Who" song) meeting for Weight Watchers. Tuesday was work, followed by traveling an hour to see The Who concert at Mohegan Sun. The concert was ok; at times it seemed like they were just going through the motions. Maybe being the fact that Roger Daltrey is "64" was also a reason. Yesterday was work, followed by a meeting with a "Bride-to-be" (I'm also a JP) about her wedding next June. By the way, I do wedding ceremonies for free everyone! Then home to attend to my son Robert's needs, then off to work at Weight Watchers. There's another factor involved in my lack of free time this week, but I'll have to explain that on Friday. Anyhow, it is impossible for me to run in the morning, as I get up at 4 a.m. weekdays. OK, it's not impossible, just impractical! I HATE running after dark, but as of this Sunday I will have to suck it up. Yes, we "fall back," so it will be dark here in Connecticut at 5 pm, if not earlier. At least my running clothes are reflective, as are my shoes, and I can wear my arm band with the red flashing light. The bad thing about wearing my arm band is I tend to be fascinated by how "cool" it looks flashing in the dark, and that's not good if I'm running on a busy road!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Yup, I ran this weekend...

"Trying hard now, its so hard now, trying hard now..Getting strong now, wont be long now, getting strong now..Gonna fly now, flying high now, gonna fly, fly, fly." Theme from Rocky

OK, so I admit it...As I'm running, wearing my mp3 player (No, I don't own an ipod). I listen to '70's music: Elton John, Eagles, ELO, Chicago, Grand Funk Railroad, The Who, Led Zeppelin, and even Abba and a bunch of one-hit wonders to name a few! Any song that brings back pleasant memories of me being in my teens or 20 something is probably on my mp3 player. So as I ran my usual 5 mile course both days this past weekend, I'm sure the persons driving by me on Route 10 were wondering if I was smiling or grimicing from pain (I was smiling) when they saw me. Saturday's run (43:00) was a struggle, especially running up what my daughter Stephanie has nicknamed "The Killer Hills" on Blacks Road. I have no idea why my body felt "blah", but like any runner I was happy that I sucked it up and did it. Sunday, I decided it was "Hammer Time" (see previous posting) again. The combination of apple cinnamon gel, energy bar, and Heed worked like a charm. I didn't feel as if I was running any faster than Saturday, but it was a lot less effort. I was shocked when I discovered that my time was 41:12, nearly 2 minutes faster than Saturday. So once again, Hammer Time came through.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I Behaved, and My Lawn Looks Great

"The answer, my friend, is blowin in the wind, The answer is blowin in the wind." Bob Dylan

Well, I resisted the normal Friday after work "Literary Club" meeting at Humphrey's yesterday. Literary Club is what we call Happy Hour at the school I work at, so the students don't realize that we're going out drinking. Instead of having my average of 4 Sam Adams and way too many buffalo wings while watching "Giada" do her bendovers on the Food Network at 4:30, I did the responsible thing and went home. Instead of going for a run, I decided to beat the rain that is forecast for today and mow and fertilize my lawn. So, I "fired up" my 20 horsepower Sears lawn tractor and put the pedal to the medal. One hour later, my lawn was looking good. I followed that with an application of Scotts® Lawn Pro® Super Turf Builder With Winterguard fertilizer, and I was all set. But wait!! I "accidentally on purpose" spread some fertilizer on the driveway and sidewalk. No problem, as I recently bought a new Toro Ultra Blower Vac 51599, $70, a CR Best Buy. Just so you know, I don't buy anything (running shoes excluded) without checking out Consumer Reports magazine rating first. Even though it's electric, it has POWER. I made a few "Tim the Toolman Taylor" noises as I blew the fertilizer off the sidewalk and driveway. It's my new favorite "Boy Toy." I decided that my reward would be a couple of Coors Lights, since I didn't have any Sams in the frig. However, drinking alone just doesn't quite measure up to drinking with co-workers and being served my Sams by Alisha, the "easy on the eyes" bartender at Humphreys. I guess it's the price I paid for being good.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

It's Hammer Time!!

Hammer Nutrition That is...

Today I decided to run my new favorite 5 mile course, created by my daughter. Actually it's the same 5 miler I ran a few days ago. It's a big loop, starting and ending at our home in Cheshire. It has a pretty steep downhill part to it between miles 1 and 2, then a long, gradual incline between miles 2 and 3, followed by a steep, gradual upward incline for miles 3 to 4, and finally mostly downhill from mile 4 to home sweet home. I decided that since I was tired from having worked Weight Watchers last night (Yes, I faxed my 5 lb. weight gain) and only getting about 4 solid hours of sleep, I needed some pre-run help. So, I decided it was "Hammer" time. A month ago I received some free samples of Hammer Nutrition products at the Niantic Bay 1/2 Marathon. Hammer products are made with natural ingrediants, so me being the curious one, tried them. Well, as the old Alka-Seltzer commercials used to say "Try it, you'll like it." I did, and I did. So I now have a stash of Hammer products. Anyhow, I had a chocolate energy gel and mixed up and drank the Heed High Energy Electrolyte Drink prior to running. All I can say is "WOW!" While my time wasn't spectacular (42:20; 8:28/mile), the ease of running the 5 miles was unbelievable. I can honestly say it was effortless. I probably could have gone another 2 or 3 miles, but didn't. Even better was the fact that my achilles behaved, and so did my knee. Maybe the additional stretching I did beforehand worked? Tomorrow is Friday, which usually means Happy Hour Sam Adams time, and a day off from running. Maybe I'll skip the beer and buffalo wings and run instead......or, maybe not!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Achilles Pain?? That's a New One

"No pain, no gain?"
Before I get to my achilles pain, I have a confession to make. I've gained 5 pounds in the past month. I attribute it to my over zealous pre-marathon carb loading. Probably the fact that I took 8 days off from running didn't help either. I thought I'd mention all this since I also work part time as a receptionist for Weight Watchers. At one time I weighed 218 lbs. Because of Weight Watchers and common sense, I usually weigh between 175 and 180. I have to fax my weight tomorrow night to my boss. I'm thinking of faxing a disclaimer along with it. Maybe I should also wear a sign at tomorrow night's meeting that says "Do as I say, not as I do." Anyhow, I'm 2 for 2 with post marathon runs while experiencing pain in my right achilles. Yes, I know I should stretch more. I HATE stretching, since I'm about as flexible as a 2 by 4. At least the pain has moved from my knee to my achilles. I'm hoping it goes out the bottom of my foot next. Yes, I'm being sarcastic. So, today was a 5 mile run along Cheshire's streets, on a course created by my daughter. I ran it alone, and realized how much I appreciate the quality father-daughter runs that we sometimes do. My time was 42:37 (8:31/M), which isn't bad for a solo run. OK, time to go ice my achilles...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Has it really been 8 days????

"Run Rick Run"
8 days after completing the Hartford Marathon I finally ran again. My 23 year old son has been sick the past week, but he's finally feeling better, so I went for a run. I love the Cheshire Linear trail this time of year. The leaves are various colors, it's busy, but not too busy, and it's just the right temperature... more or less. I went to WTNH.com, as I usually do before a run, and discovered it was "feels like" 44 degrees, which caused me to wear my long sleeved marathon shirt plus sweatpants in addition to my regular running gear. My normal rule is "Less is best," but I also HATE to be cold. Anyhow, I intended to run an easy 4 miles, which turned out to be a "comfortable" 6 miles instead. It wasn't the same as running in a race, as any runner knows. I tend to feed off a crowd and other runners, and have much better times in a race. But I ran a respectable 52:57 (8:49/M). My motivation to run has decreased, as it did after running the marathon in Providence back in May. It's time for me to focus on the Manchester Road Race, which happens on Thanksgiving day. 10,000+ runners plus a fantastic crowd is definitely something to train for and look forward to. Plus it's a short one....just 4.78 miles.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Marathonman Runs Again! Mission Accomplished

"Quitting is not an option"
This past Sunday I completed the "ING Hartford Marathon." 4+ months of training on the Cheshire (CT) Linear Trail and local roads finally paid off. During that time, I ran a total of 380 miles, including four 5K and three Half Marathons from June 8 to October 10 to prepare. OK, so I'm including the New Haven Road Race as a Half Marathon...12.4 miles is close enough! Enough babbling...I ran a 4:22.19, which was 30 minutes faster than my first marathon back on May 4th in Providence. I almost accomplished my goal of averaging 10 minute miles, missing by one freakin' second. I knew the bathroom breaks in the woods would eventually catch up with me! Oh well. I have discovered that carb loading definitely works. You might say I'm a "Carboholic." I follow a schedule I found online, where I stuff my face with as many carbs as I can 3 days before, especially for breakfast and dinner. (I'm so sick of Bruegger's bagels right now). Then I do less complex carbs and more simple carbs for days 2 and 1. Marathon day I'm carrying about 2 extra pounds of bagels and pasta, which works wonders as I chug by the "carbless" runners towards the end, who are walking or just giving up. I must say that gooping my toes with vasoline was the way to go...no purple toes or lost toenails, like what happened by running Providence vasoline free. Live and learn I guess. As far as Hartford, what a fun race. LOTS of cheering spectators and a very fair course. Best about it was there was plenty of fellow marathoners willing to engage in conversation with me. Miles 12 to 15 were made easier by to women running their first marathons, one from Durham, and the other from I forget where. Of course I forget their names, but if they happen to read this, "thanks" and "great job." Then there's "Laura," the "Wonder Woman" of running. She and I talked on and off for several miles. During that time I found out that she has her own blog, http://absolutlyfit.blogspot.com/, which is well worth reading. She's an inspiration to anyone contemplating running. I hope to run again with her, if not, she'll be remembered as one of those people I've met in my life whose made an impact on me. Anyhow, it's 2 days post marathon, I'm walking ok, just a little leg pain, so life is good! Now I've got to figure out what's next major race wise....probably the Manchester CT Thanksgiving Day race. If you haven't run the 4.78 mile course with 10,000 others, you've missed a lot of fun. Speaking of fun, the Christopher Martin's 5K race (New Haven, CT) in December is the best post race party in the world! 5 kegs of beer flowing, plus lots of food. I'll be in the front row at the bar, drinking and passing the cups of beer!!