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Preview: Running Aimlessly Around the Countryside

Running Aimlessly Around the Countryside

Notes from a runner and proud husband/father, tracking the trials and tribulations of a family training and competing on two feet, on two wheels and in the water.

Updated: 2018-03-05T20:19:04.845-05:00


1000 Miles Away


I think I will call 2014 the year of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. At the beginning of May, Anna and I ran the Indianapolis Mini Marathon, crossing the yard bricks mid-race and capturing Anna kissing the bricks. Next, at the end of May, the family attended the annual 500 mile race. What else could I do on the track? There are additional opportunities throughout the year to take advantage of, but which one....Since I sat during the 500 and ran the mini, I thought bicycling would be a good choice. There was a free June Saturday on our busy calendar, so Will and I signed up for the Indiana Tour de Cure. Not only could we test our bikes out on the smooth surface of the track, but we could contribute to finding a cure for diabetes. Neither Will nor I had been riding much in the spring so we opted for the 75k ride. We started on the track and at the yard of bricks and after about a half a lap of the track we went out on the roads for the majority of our ride before returning to the track to finish up with a few laps. I didn't kiss the bricks during the Mini, but both Will and I took advantage of the opportunity after the ride.For the rest of the year, bike riding took a backseat to running. Will's early morning summer schedule got me out early before work, which allowed me to beat the heat and stay consistent with my training. I also showed some maturity (I know it's about time), listened to my body, and took easy/rest days when I was supposed to and a few extra days off when I felt some minor aches and pains, rather than wait for them to become big deals. That consistency kept me on the roads throughout the year without any breaks. In my 33+ years of running, I can't remember a entire year that I stayed that consistent. I haven't kept my pre-digital training logs, but I'm pretty positive that I've never put in the mileage I achieved this year. For the first time, I was able to cross the 1000 mile mark in a calendar year. I've chased that number for probably the past five years and I'm pretty proud of marking that accomplishment.So where does that take me next year? Having reached the 1000 mile plateau, I'm not going to chase any total mileage marks from the start of the year, but I'm sure I will look at my total mileage as the year goes on and if I'm close to a mileage milestone, I'm sure I will work to achieve it. Doing a couple races this past year definitely has got me wanting to compete some more next year. I have some thoughts races, but haven't signed up for anything yet. As we close out 2014, those 2015 plans are TBD, but I hope they once again include events with my family.At this point, I'd be happy with just another consistent year like 2014.Artist for Song in Title: Hoodoo Gurus[...]



After a couple years of on again, off again training (more off than on), this spring I am on again. Things haven't been perfect, but I've been smarter about dealing with the little aches and pains and have been able to stay on the road. I'm not sure if my new found smarts is a new level of maturity or a feeling of responsibility to my daughter, Anna, to stay running. Anna reached the end of her swimming career this winter and decided to lace up her shoes and run a half-marathon. As part of her quest, she has asked me to not only co-run the race with her, but to join her for most of the training runs. Who am I to deny my teenage daughter some one-on-one time?Anna picked the Indianapolis mini-marathon as her target race, we got signed up, and committed to our training. Looking back on the last few months, I think both of us would have preferred to have a couple more weeks to prepare before race day, but we worked with what we were given and got in the training we could.Race day came to near perfect weather; low 50s (F), but a little breezy. The good news was it was a tail wind for the 2nd half of the race. We found our corral with plenty of time to join about 35,000 friends on the course. Anna wasn't sure about wearing trash bags as coats while we waited for the start, but after standing around for about 30 minutes, she understood and was glad she had it to wear.As this was Anna's first try at this distance, and she hadn't been back to running but for about 10 weeks, the goal was merely to finish strong. With that in mind; our strategy was to run comfortably for the first 10 miles, then pick up the pace if we felt capable. And the strategy was executed to a T. We avoided going with the rush at the start and settled into a barely conversational pace. We clicked along having a nice conversation and only took a brief stop on the start/finish line of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway so Anna could kiss the bricks. As she is a big Indy 500 fan, I'm honestly not sure if she didn't chose to do the race just to kiss the bricks.After our 2.5 mile lap around the Speedway, we exited the track and started our way back to downtown Indy and the finish. We had been passing people fairly consistently throughout the early miles, but as we hit mile 9 the number we were passing definitely increased. Then at mile 10, we decided it was time to pick up the pace and increased our per mile pace by a full minute. It was then that the number of people we were passing really increased. We had to work pretty hard in the final mile and half to maintain our pace, but maintain we did; mile 13 was our fastest of the race.At the finish line, we grasped hands to cross together, but we had to raise our hands up over the head of a man we passed right at the line. We were tired, but we ran a negative split by at least 4 minutes! We grabbed some refreshments and made our way back to the car for our drive home. On our way home we talked about the experience and Anna admitted she would consider running another half-marathon. As running mentor - success; as Dad - a huge win! I had just shared a great experience with my daughter and only hope that she asks me to run side by side with her in the future.Artist for Song in Title: John Mayer[...]

Cold Hands


(image) For the first time in about 2 years single digit temps (Farenheit) hit where I live in the US Midwest. My employer opened a new fitness center (and outdoor track!) on our campus at the beginning of 2013, so it's been interesting to see who waits in line for the treadmills and who heads outside. I don't hate the treadmill,  I just like being outside and getting fresh air.

Today it was 9 F when I headed out the door of the fitness center. As part of the opening festivities, today was planned to be "Pack the Track" day, but that was changed when the mercury dipped. I decided to stay on the track today instead of playing tag with the city stoplights, and was able to have the track all to myself. The medium wind made it a little cold on my face for the first half mile or so, but after that I was very comfortable.

When I headed back in, I got to spend my stretching time being called "dedicated", "crazy", and "mental". I just tell people if you have good clothes, layer them, and limit exposed skin, it isn't cold at all.

When is it too cold for you to head out?

Artist for Song in Title: AFI

Thank You


Another Thanksgiving has come and gone. This year, as we have for the past 4 years, my family got up on Thanksgiving morning to join with a few thousand others (17k this year) to participate in our local Drumstick Dash. The proceeds from this race go to a local mission, so that is a definite plus to participating. I'm thankful anytime the entire family willingly does anything together, but especially when it's running.

We split up at the start, with the boys doing the 4.6 mile route (I know, weird distance) while the girls did the 2.5. I didn't have a timed number, but I slipped into the coral with my son who did. I've just gotten my training started up again after another bought with nagging injuries and he hadn't run since cross country season ended, so we weren't going to run too hard. We ran comfortably hard and pulled each other along for the first 4 miles, being satisfied with our constantly increasing pace. At the 4 mile marker I got stuck behind a group of slower runners and my son shot me a quick glance as he put in a slight burst to surge ahead. My legs didn't have chase in them, so I just maintained my pace and smiled as I watched him run to the finish, thankful for the time we spent together.

Artist for Song in Title: Dido

30 Years in the Bathroom


(image) Thirty years ago, I was just a youngster who wanted to do everything, all sports, playing music, etc. If I enjoyed doing it, it was game.

Then one early summer day in 1981 while heading home from a church work project, something unexpected happened; the motor scooter I was driving made contact with rear of an AMC Gremlin (see photo). In the collision, the result was very clear - the moped and I lost...big time. After surgery and a few days in the hospital, I surrendered a summer of my life to sitting on my back side with my left leg extended in a cast. The cast was hiding 2 screws and 18 staples. My right leg was blessed with 11 stitches from the cut the license plate inflicted.


As someone who was small and scrawny (see photo), it was amazing how much muscle atrophy could occur in just 4 weeks. By the time the cast came off, my left leg was noticeably smaller than my right. I spent the next 2 years trying to continue with the full list of activities, but things were more difficult than they were before the accident. In the spring of 1982 I began running and I found myself enjoying it more and more. Without the accident I don't know if I would have taken to distance running, but fate helped me reach that conclusion.

Artist for Song in Title: The Wonderstuff
note about the song title: In case you are wondering, the bathroom part has nothing to do with any part of my story. In my effort to use song titles to title all of my posts, having '30 years' in the title was too perfect to avoid using.

Hold Me My Daddy


It's been a while since I've been here. I've been stuck on a single post for a number of months, just unable to get it how I want it. In the midst of that, I've stopped creating any other posts. My training is going really well this year, so I'm going to take a shot at getting back to this.

Father's day this year was very special. I was given a couple small gifts (and none of them were neck ties). What I got was something I have been wanting for quite a while. The whole family went for a run together. We do start out at the same time every so often, but rarely do we run together as a group. And on Father's Day 2012, WE ALL RAN TOGETHER.

We left home and stayed together for the first 3.5 miles, at which point Jil and Anna peeled off. Will and I continued on, although it took a little while for Will to break out what I'll call "Needs a Snicker" mode. He was just grumpy and whiny until he settled in around 5 miles. The two of us just cruised along, winding around the streets until we reached 8 miles and I dropped him off at home. I continued on for a few more miles, to arrive home to a nicely prepared breakfast.

I'm not sure I can think of anything to top Father's Day this year, and don't know if I want to.

Artist for Song in Title: XTC

Running In The Family


Lately everyone in the family has been training. I've been running more and my knee seems to be holding up. My wife and her running partners are continuing with her routine. My daughter has rediscovered some of the joy of running while cross training during the swimming off season. And my son has been training with his middle school cross country team.

So what happens? As soon as I am out of town for a business trip the rest of the family decide to go racing. They found a local race with the choice of a 5k and a 10k, and the kids lined up friends to run with. My daughter and her friend did the 10k, with everyone else in the 5k. I wasn't there, but wish I had been. My daughter and her friend ran together until close to the end and went 1-2 in their age group. My wife set a 50 second PR and placed 2nd in her age group. Then to top things off, my 12 year old son went 20:49, a 2 minute PR, 1st in his age group, and 5th OVERALL!

I'm really bummed that I wasn't there, but really proud of my clan for getting up early on a Saturday morning, going out and getting after it.

Artist for Song in Title: Level 42

At Least We Tried


Between all of this years travels (both business and family), track meets, baseball games, and wet weather I haven't been on my bike a lot, much less gone on a group ride. That's been pretty disappointing since Will's swim schedule lined up perfectly to remove any conflicts from that angle. Finally last week we got the chance to get out. I have to admit I was a little nervous. With the little of riding I have done, I was worried about my ability to stay with the group for 26 miles and with Will having ridden even less, I was more concerned with him. Last year he struggled to find his form on the shorter, slower ride and the first ride we did together a couple weeks ago showed some of the same signs. I had hope because our most recent ride left him strong and ready for more, not to mention how he dusted me on the hills. I think he may have been a little nervous as well.

We showed up at the ride with plenty of time to get a parking space, which isn't always easy with 200+ showing up for this ride each week, and found our place in the staging area. As we pulled out, I became less nervous about Will as he was riding strong toward the front of the group. We cruised along well for the first 5 miles before coming to a fairly busy cross street. We were slowing in prep for the intersection, but the leaders were late in calling for a stop. Will moved to the right to avoid hitting the rider in front of him, who unfortunately did the same. Long story short, they made contact and Will hit the pavement. Luckily not too bad; some skin off his knee, a bloody elbow, ripped shorts (OK, he needed new ones anyway), pretty scraped up hip (ouch!), and messed up bar tape (crap!). He was sore for a few days, but we got everything squared away and he raced and won our local Kids Tri for Kids triathlon on Monday.

This week we were back to the group ride for another try. I still had the same nerves as last week but with an additional concern of riding in the group. The weather threatened a little bit, and we did get drizzled on a little for the last 5 miles of the ride, but everything was a success! Both Will and I had a great ride, and while we didn't spend the entire ride side by side, we didn't make sure that we were near each other after intersections and did spend much of the ride together. Nerves are gone, Will has a new max ride distance and is in good form. We'll still take it a little easy for the first 1/2 of the ride, but I can see us potentially moving up to the next group before the summer is over.

Artist for Song in Title: Moby

Deep Dark Truthful Mirror


Note: This post was drafted this while I was travelling 5 weeks ago.

My blogging continues to mirror my  activity. Sporadic. After returning from my late March/early April travels, the weather improved and I was feeling good so I hit the roads...probably more than I should have. By the last week of April I had logged a 20 mile week and was en-route to another when I noticed a limp as I walked from the parking lot to my office in the morning. My knee had been bothering some throughout the month, but the limp was finally the sign that I needed to react. I promised myself at the beginning of the year that would listen to my body, so it was time to fulfill that promise.

Did I do the right thing? Yes and No. Yes; I listened to my body and stopped. No; for a week I did NOTHING! After that I got back with the program, and did something. Not running, but something. I made it a point to get out on my road bike. I've been feeling good and am trying to slowly build up the length of my rides.

Eventually by mid-May I was able to do a few short runs, without irritating my knee so I was excited and ready to go...just in time to leave on another international business trip. I usually don't mind running in the heat, so maybe it is just a seasonal difference, but the Malaysian heat and humidity with afternoon rain storms combined with the inner city location where I'm staying have kept me from the roads. At least the extreme jet lag has left me with time each morning to practice some Yoga sequences. I really did want to do a short run just to say I had run here, but that didn't happen.

(image) I ventured on from KL to Shanghai, China, and was able to get in a run before a day of sight seeing. The Sunday morning that I got out to run was wonderful. Rain had cleared the smog and the wide empty sidewalks made fore a good time exploring and stopping here and there for some pictures. The bummer was I only got out for the 1 day. During the week the crowds grew and schedule kept me inside.

I'm not doing what I really wish I was, but I'm trying to be optimistic. Conveniently, my work schedule is going to keep me from really having an 'A' race this year, so I have an opportunity to take a breath, heal my body and build for another year when I don't have the constraints.

Artist for Song in Title: Elvis Costello



As I look back I noticed that I missed posting for the entire month of March. I think I can explain the reasons for that, but unfortunately, the frequency of posting also reflects the my running activity. Luckily it was not a perfect mirror image. I have achieved some sort of work/life balance, but not the preferred type as I have been overloaded on each end. March was championship swimming for club, spring break in Washington DC, and a business trip to Romania. Anyone of these things in itself would not have derailed my training, but putting all in the same month is a different story!

Peles Castle, Romania
March was going to be the month that I got everything back on track. Week 1 went by: no runs. Week 2 started off on the right foot with a pre-travel run with my wife. I packed all of my gear for my 2 week tip to Romania, because I was sure that I would have time. I even made the trip with zero jet lag, so what could go wrong. 11 hour days and group dinners left my gear teasing me from the closet on a daily basis and no additional runs. I did finally get out for a 5 miler on the weekend and then one run mid-week, but two runs over the trip duration was not what I had hoped or intended.

Week 3 finally got me more on track. 4 runs and 1/2 my total miles for the month! I was able to get another run in with Jil, which I really enjoyed. We haven't run together for quite a while, so it was nice to get back to that. We also experienced a wonderful change to spring, and I couldn't resist getting out in the weather.

SR-71 Blackbird, Air and Space II   
Week 4 returned to the previous normalcy. I got a nice 5 mile run in prior to piling into the family vehicle and traveled to Washington, D.C. No running gear was packed. We did spend a ton of time on our feet walking through the city and museums, but it's just not that same. Regardless, the family had a great time (the point) and saw some really cool stuff.

What's next? April has me staying home, the weather should continue to improve, and the kids activities are reduced to mainly practice. My desire is to be running more consistently and getting out cross training on my bike. Wish my luck!

Artist for Song in Title: Josh Kelley

Build Me Up


I've spent the last few weeks easing myself back into running after my brief layoff. I have a return to running plan that I got from a past injury when I required physical therapy. The plan has worked well in the past, so it has become my go to plan for rest to run. The plan spends the first 3 weeks with run/walk workouts before finally getting in an all run session.

The run/walk sessions have gone very well. Because of the ice narrowed streets and the focus on time rather than distance, I stuck to the treadmill. This week I did take advantage of nicer temps, a good thaw, and the plan switch to all run to get outside. It was wonderful to be in the elements, but I missed the pace control of the treadmill. I'm not sure if it was just being outside, or muscle memory, but I went out harder than I have since beginning my return and was sucking wind.

It didn't feel great while I was on the road, but I can feel good about where I am and knowing I am building up to that strong place I had found last year.

Artist for song in title: Huey Lewis & the News

Hello Goodbye


The last few weeks have brought beginnings and ends. I said hello to another return to running while my daughter Anna said goodbye to a new phase in her swimming career.

I said hello and started running again using the same return to running plan that I used successfully last year. Thus far, knock on wood, my hamstring has been holding up and I an excited to be moving forward on my stay healthy goals for this year.

(image) Anna said goodbye to her first high school swim season in a big way. After a season of continued improvement, she qualified with her teammates for the Indiana high school state meet in 2 relays. At the meet, the 200 medley relay finished their season in prelims, but the 400 free relay advanced to finals. So in the last race of the Indiana high school season, the squad Anna swam on brought home a 6th place finish. As an added bonus, the whole relay team returns next year! For me, it is ready hard to describe my feelings. I'm proud of her putting in all the hard work, listening to her coaches, and as a freshman, finding her role and supporting her teammates. I'm also somewhat speechless regarding what she just experienced. Obviously, I hope she has the opportunity to return to the state meet and podium many more times, hopefully on a higher step. If she doesn't, she has had an amazing experience that can't be taken away from her. But for me the best part was seeing the smile on her face and the pure joy. It makes all those trips to the pool, at all hours of the day, so worth it.

Artist for Song in Title: The Beatles

False Start


(image)  As July is coming to a close, I have to recognize all the false starts that I have experienced in my training. There were at least 3 if not 4 times that I got a good start, but was derailed after only a few days. I decided that I wouldn't run this month, would just rest my legs and enjoy the breaks. To aid in that effort I started the month by investing my Christmas money in a new bike trainer. It's a nice bright green color that doesn't go with any decor. Of course if it did, I would question my decorating taste. The trainer has been a big help to keeping me doing something, the only downside is that my workouts have become evening only. I have also worked in a few yoga sessions, but again that is an after work activity.

At this point you may be wondering what's wrong with evenings after work. As the parent of 2 swimmers, 1 club and 1 high school, January, February and March are very demanding months. Making sure 2-a-days aren't missed, dealing with 2 practice schedules and the meets. There was one 8 day stretch that included 6 days of meets and one banquet. To make that worse, the weekend days were all day! So swimming is what is wrong with evenings after work.

Don't get me wrong, I love to attend and watch my kids participate, but it has just made it very easy to say that my workout can wait till tomorrow. There are only 2 more weeknight meets in February, maybe I can keep my routine consistent.

Artist for Song in Title: The Wonder Stuff

Let's Just Say Goodbye


I saw this image in someone else's year end blog report and it just felt so appropriate. As the year came to a close, I couldn't wait for 2010 to come to a close and 2011 to arrive with a clean slate and a fresh start. Of course this is talking from a running perspective; it was a very good year for my family, career, and general personal life. The problem is, my overall picture becomes tainted by my running results.

So why the dark shadow? As I wrote my goals last year, I was full of optimism for a great year; a year full of new mile totals and race goals. But that train was derailed before 2010 was even rung in. I spent the first 3-4 months of the year a knee injury from late 2010. Finally in late summer, I achieved 3 good months of training and the return of optimism. That, however, was short lived, as a calf strain brought a screeching halt to any thoughts of a big fall race. The injury wasn't major, but it was timed perfectly to dampen my optimism and plans. As I finally approached the end of the year, and the joy of just running was returning to my days, my hamstring has decided to do strange things and prevent me once again from hitting the roads. 

I have simple goals for 2011 - Listen to my body, Avoid injury and Stay healthy. Given the hamstring, I'm not starting off too well, but I'm resolved to stay focused on the bigger picture and not worry about any quantitative goals. If big things happen, great, but I don't want to let them become my focus.

With some smart decisions along they way, I hope that next year when I say goodbye to 2011, it will be with the desire for continuing success in the following year and not once again saying good riddance to the past year.

 Artist for Song in Title: David Sanborn

Have You Seen Me Lately?


I feel like this blog has become like the old serial matinees, as most posts need to start with "when we last saw our heroes...."- not that I think I'm any kind of hero, it's just how I think those matinees were. I've been dealing with a little soreness here and there, so leading up to Thanksgiving I took about 2 weeks off from running. To be honest it was 2 weeks off from nearly all forms of exercise.

On Thanksgiving day, the whole family laced up and participated in our local Drumstick Dash. The weather presented a nice change this year; instead of 30 F, it was 55 F, but with the addition of rain. Personally, that is some of my favorite running weather. Since Anna is in the midst of high school swim season, she didn't want to do the long course, but requested that Jil join her for the 2.3 mile non-timed option. Will was all about doing the full 4.5 miles and running. We arrived in plenty of time to get a good parking space, but due to the rain, didn't venture to the start until about 10 mins before the start. I thought that we would line up together and stay together until the courses split, at which point Will and I would stay together. My assumptions started and finished correctly, but the middle was all wrong. At the gun, Will and I took off with the crowd and lost the girls almost immediately. Since we had planned to split eventually, I figured it was okay, and we just went with it.  Will and I ran smoothly, with each mile being faster than the previous one. I concentrated on staying comfortable and focusing on his effort so I didn't blow him up early. Will started to labor a little in the third mile, but hung in there and took over the pacing for the last 1/2 mile. At the line we grabbed hands and crossed the line together. I assumed we had tied, but he was adamant that he be me. I found out later he had ensured his chip foot crossed the start mat and finish mat before mine, giving him the victory by .4 seconds! He doesn't realize that regardless of the time, I still won because I got to spend a morning running with my son.

So the Drumstick Dash marked my return to running. I'm currently in a base/maintenance mode. I'm running 3 or 4 times a week for 4-5 miles. I'm not worried about pace, just running easy and mixing up my routes by taking different turns every time out. The most fun I've had is heading out for lunch time runs in 15 F conditions. I enjoy running in the cold as long as the roads aren't icy, but it seems that others don't share my enthusiasm. I had a lot of fun with unbelievers in the locker room and just admiring the odd looks I received on the roads. I would encourage everyone to give winter running a try. Put on a couple of layers and head out. It's really no different than when we used to go out and sled when we were kids. It's a little cool for the first few minutes, but after that you start to warm-up, you get lost in the run, and you forget completely about the cold.

Artist for Song in Title: Counting Crows

The Payback


In case everyone missed it in all of the press about Ryan Hall dropping out of the Chicago Marathon, I officially did not run my goal race for the year, the Monumental Marathon. But I really feel pretty good about how I responded. Instead of sitting around complaining and making life miserable for everyone around me, I gave back to the local running community. I volunteered as a course marshal for the race. My son Will also decided to pitch in for the day. Luckily we got a 2nd shift time so we didn't have to be up really early, but weather wise it really didn't matter; there was just no escaping the unseasonable cold. I think it was 28 F at the race start, and was only in the mid to upper 30's when we arrived at our post. We knew it was going to be cold standing around, so we were smart enough to layer up, and really, only our hands got a bit cold. Many thanks to the spectator who provided Will with an extra set of hand warmers she had.

We were posted about 1/2 mile from the finish and picked up around 3:30 from the start. I really enjoyed the time and the courteous and enthusiastic participants. There were 1 or 2 runners that were not very friendly and had not so kind words, but I knew they were deep in hurt and I'm sure they didn't mean what they said. I was a little said to see it come to an end. It was so uplifting to receive hundreds of thank yous and have the runners offer us high 5's! They were the ones putting in the effort and completing a marathon, but they were the ones giving us the kudos! Based on this experience, I will definitely help out with race again.

I also learned that I could never have been a traffic cop. The police officer that was stationed at our point on the course needed to let a lane of traffic across the course, but priority went to the runners. He kept a smile on his face and never got angry. I think I really would have lost it with the people who were honking for about 20 minutes!

As for my running, things are going pretty well. I was energized by watching the marathon and we've had some good weather. That has caused me to run a little bit more than I should be, but nothing an extra day off here and there couldn't fix. I did roll my ankle last week, but I was lucky to it be a minor issue and to be back out running 2 days later. I've switched to evenings from lunch time and have been exploring the some roads and paths around home that I have never been on, are new, or I just haven't been on in a while.

Other than the local Turkey Trot, there are no more organized runs on the docket for the rest of year. I am excited because everyone in the family will voluntarily be doing the run. I have started to think and dream about next year, but for now I'm just very happy to run aimlessly, meandering the streets and paths where ever I happen to be running that day.

Artist for Song in Title: James Brown

(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding


Today I have peace and understanding and find myself in a better place. I rested, did a mediocre job of cross training (it has been nice to get reacquainted with my bike), and had a sports massage. Last week Saturday I went to watch my son in a middle school cross country meeting. For those of you who haven't watched XC before, the fans get a workout running to different points on the course to watch. As I did so, I noticed that my calf was pain free! The plans for my Saturday afternoon changed at that moment. I really didn't want to work on the honey-do list anyway.

When I got home, I grabbed a quick pb&j sandwich, gathered my long run gear and headed out the door into the unseasonably warm 85 degree day. I have to admit, I was hoping to sneak in 12-15 miles. That would have put me in place to get back on track for the marathon. I don't know if it was the lack of fueling earlier in the day, the warm temperatures or something else, but after about 5 miles I was starting to question myself. At 7 1/2, my calf started to tighten a bit, so I went another 1/2 mile, then walked the last bit home.

So why am I in a better place? For starters, I did get in almost 8 pain free miles. But most importantly, because I wasn't able to get in a double digit long run, I have fully accepted that my body just isn't going to let me race a marathon this fall. And I'm okay with that. I've learned something about myself. I need to listen to my body and adjust a workout early if something doesn't feel right. Just because I put it on paper doesn't mean that I have to do it (seems obvious doesn't it?). It's better to adjust a workout than to be injured and adjusting plans. Also, my goals are still realistic and I can still achieve them in the time frame I have in mind. Finally and most importantly, I'm excited to run again and my love for the experience is back.

Artist for Song in Title: Elvis Costello

Insane, Insane Again


The pattern is occurring, again. For long time readers you will have noticed a pattern. My training just gets to the point where I'm really excited about the possibilities and injury strikes. My training has been going extremely well lately. Yes, I've been tired, and yes there have been days that I didn't want to lace up the shoes and head out the door, but I always felt stronger and better after finishing the workouts. Last week was a step back/recovery week and I was fired up and ready to start into the final block of training before tapering and racing. My form has gotten to a point that I really thought some of my goals were very realistic; it also didn't hurt that I had just added some Saucony Kinvara's to my shoe stable and I was really wanting to put them to the test.

Tuesday I headed out for some mile repeats, a workout that I had dreaded a month ago but was now excited for. I had some tightness in my left calf from my first steps. Nothing to be concerned about, I was sure it would loosen up as I warmed up. I went through the first repeat feeling strong and comfortable only to look at my watch and see that it was the fastest mile I've run in probably a decade. Great! Just to recover and hit the next one, but my calf was still a little tight. It was about this time that my mind was somewhere else and I felt a squish; oh no, that was a BIG pile of dog droppings. I should have taken that has an indication of the day and packed it in then, but I was heading back toward my starting point so I figured I would give one more mile and then assess whether to call it a day early. I didn't even make it that far. About 1/4 mile in, I felt a strong twinge shoot up the calf and pulled up like a world class sprinter, keeping all the weight possible off that leg. I tried to stretch it out but to no relief,  so I walked the two miles back to my destination.

I immediately started the roller coaster ride: my race was over, but maybe it wasn't that bad, no it's over.... I got some ice at the gym and spent much of the afternoon icing, but by the time I headed home from work the calf had really tightened up. I hope I wasn't too bad to my family, I know how bad I can be when I think the train has gone off the tracks. Since then my moods have leveled out somewhat. I've been resting and trying to stay off my feet as much as possible. The leg is feeling better bit by bit, but not back to pain free. I got the name of a good sports massage guy and scheduled the first opening available. So right now I'm day by day and hope to be back on the roads very soon. Maybe this is sick, but I was really excited about my scheduled 20 miler this Saturday; I guess that may have to wait. Just hopefully not too long.

Artist for Song in Title: J. Geils Band

God Willin' & the Creek Don't Rise


As most of you are aware, the fall race season is fast approaching. I'm getting close enough to my target race to have started an official training schedule and so far so good. But just days after starting my 12 week training plan, I was in a meeting at work where I heard something that cause fear and dread deep inside me. In order to meet some deadlines for next year, there is a very good possibility of a couple weeks of travel in October. And not just any travel, but to the far east, splitting the time between Japan and China. Any other time of the year I would be excited for the opportunity to visit these locations, just not 2 or 3 weeks before my target marathon that I have been aiming for all year.. Those are the biggest weeks of the training plan and don't know if I'll be able to find safe places to run, much less the time to get in the miles. The timing for trips can be somewhat fluid so I'm still training like nothing is going to happen, but I'm also trying to prepare myself mentally for the possible scrapping of the race and all the preparation that has been put in to date. I know that I could get in enough training to get to the starting line and finishing line, but  I don't want to enter the race just to finish, I would like to see what kind of time I could achieve. But God willing and the creek don't rise, I'll get to run my goal race. But if the opposite happens, I'll know it wasn't meant to be, will back off on the training a bit and look for another goal race opportunity. On the positive side, at least I didn't pick a goal race in the middle of October!

If anyone has any experience running in Japan or China I would love to hear your experience and advice.

Artist for Song in Title: Ray LaMontagne & The Pariah Dogs

Hot, Hot, Hot


Okay, I have to apologize for a couple of things. First, sorry for not posting for a while. Life has been busy and every time I think of posting I'm away from a computer. Secondly, sorry for taking the easy way out the title.

Indiana has been like the rest of the country this summer - hot. Through July I was holding up pretty well. I was sticking to my usual schedule of lunch time weekdays and mornings on weekends. I increased my hydration and on the really warm, humid days I took my fuel belt as well, even though those runs were less than an hour in length. I think I have been acclimating to the heat and hydrating correctly, because my sweat level has gone off the charts. So much so that on a recent long run I had to bail out a couple miles earlier than planned because my feet were sliding around in my shoes and I could tell that blisters were imminent. I wasn't disappointed with my workouts, but I knew that the heat and humidity were negatively affecting my performance. But the end of July was the end of normal.

August brought with it a total dislike of the heat. I'm usually one that will hang out by the pool long after others have left, but I just don't want to be outside anymore. My bike hasn't been off it's perch in a couple of weeks and I have spent very little time in the pool. The pool one drives me most crazy. If I'm (and my wonderful pool girl wife) going to put the time and money into having a pool in my backyard, then I would prefer to be using it. During our latest heat stretch, I even switched my weekday workouts to early mornings before work.

At least there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel. The forecasts are for the temperatures to break this next week. Let's just hope that is a trend and not an anomaly.

Artist for Song in Title: Buster Poindexter

Couple Days Off


I recently reviewed my vacation schedule at work and realized that we are at mid-year and I still have a lot of vacation left. The answer? Take a couple days off...from work that is. Scheduled activities dictated that it would be a staycation, so I put maximum use of my 12 days of freedom.

My mornings were dedicated to training. I alternated days between running and cycling, and yes, I did include some rest days. It was fun to put schedule around my training rather than schedule where my training would fit. It was also fun to mix things up. I got in a muddy trail run, shared a run with my son, met up with a family friend and ran with him for a while. On the bike, I didn't get to the normal group ride,  but I got some miles in with my son, and on other days was able to beat the heat and humidity by getting out before everyone else was out of bed.

The biggest positive to my time off? Year high totals for both an individual run bike and run. One day I managed to get in an 8 mile run and the next day a 43 mile bike ride. My body is feeling good and now that I am headed back to my normal work schedule, if I can manage the heat, I can continue to increase my time on the roads. I'm hopeful to at least maintain my biking miles this next week and increase my running to over 20 miles for the week. That is the most in 7 months and I'm very excited to be back at that level; it's been far too long.

Even with all the positive notes, there was still some negative. Although I enjoyed one post-run cool down walk with my wife, we weren't able to coordinate a run together (I need to make that a priority on my calendar).  Also, it is coming to an end. Tomorrow I have to go back.

Artist for Song in Title:  Huey Lewis & the News

Helter Skelter


I've been away again, but mainly because my free time has been severely limited as of late. Work has been crazy and the kids have been keeping the calendar very busy. Anna has begun the summer swim practice practice schedule, so I am dropping her off and heading into the office early. That has been very nice to get things going before everyone else wanders in, but I don't seem to be able to get out much earlier in the evening. When I have gotten out, it seems that Will has had baseball games. For example, this week, with the storms that were rolling across the country, he had a game suspended due to rain 2 times. It took 3 days to get the game in. The 3rd day then included another tourney game. While I'm glad to not be back at the ball park for another night, I'm disappointed that the boys are done for the season. But it also means that Will and I can ride together more.

I have backed off my running mileage quite a bit to nurse through some calf tightness. I have been very diligent about stretching before getting out of bed in the morning and then taking time following workouts to really get my legs stretched out. I've also been on my bike a little bit more. The strategy seems to be working as I've been able to begin raising my running mileage and keep the calf loose.

The bike has been giving mixed results. I've been getting 50-70 miles in a week, which I'm very happy with, but they haven't all been good miles. There have been a few rides that I could just tell when I pulled out of the driveway that I didn't have it that day. I still put the ride in, but those aren't the fun days. Other days I feel good and can tell a definite difference in my strength over last year. I understand that ups and downs are normal an try to focus more on the ups. Right now that seems to be working and I am looking forward to my runs and rides.

Artist for Song in Title: The Beatles

The Road


Things have been slightly crazy lately. Spring activities have been in full gear for the kids. Anna was running track and had 2 meets each week. Will is playing little league baseball and has 2 games per week. They have both been swimming and have already had their first long course swim meet. Will also did his  first triathlon of the season, and had his end of the year orchestra concert. Given all of those events, we have had very few open nights for the last month. I've been able to get my runs in over lunch, but I haven't been biking much.

Bike To Work week was this week, so I decided to try my hand at the commute, which is a little over 20 miles each way. I had mapped out my routes and pre-driven them to be sure they were safe. The weather finally cooperated on Wednesday, so I dropped Anna off at swim practice (yes, we do that a couple mornings a week before school), went home and finished packing my bag.

I began my journey about 5:45. The beginning of my route has a few decent climbs in it, so by 6 I was wondering what I was doing, but I kept on pedaling. Everything went pretty well until about 6:30. I stopped at an intersection for some traffic and when I pulled away, my clothes fell out of my backpack. No biggie. I stopped an picked them up and returned to the task. I did take a wrong turn at that intersection, but had I not, I probably would have lost my clothes. The rest of the trip was uneventful and I arrived at work around 7, refreshed and ready for the day (after a shower, of course).

For the return trip, I did get started a little later than I had wanted due to work issues, and that made traffic situations with more traffic in some areas and less in others. I did have to alter my route a few times because of street closures that had occurred in the last week, but other than adding a couple of climbs, they didn't take me far off my planned route. About the 16 mile mark, I was really starting to feel the results of the days riding in my quads. The slightest climb was making them cramp. However, I didn't believe it was something I couldn't get through. I just had to maintain a steady, easy pace. I did try to avoid any climbs the rest of the way, but knew I would have a couple short climbs when I got near home. I tried to avoid one, but didn't turn off soon enough and still had the slightest incline for a couple of blocks. At the top, my legs said no more. Both quads locked and I knew I was done. I pulled over and stopped, called for my support vehicle and stood straddling my bike until the cramps released. I almost called off the cavalry since I was less than a mile from home, but knew with remaining hill, that the muscles would just cramp again, maybe worse. I decided to take the help and keep the challenge of completing the commute for another day.

I'm disappointed that I didn't finish the task, but as I think about it, the ride wasn't a loss. I learned quite a bit about the process. I need to drastically cut what I carry on my back. I shouldn't be carrying more than a phone and some ID. Everything else needs to be pre-staged, like my work clothes (especially shoes) and if I want to carry my lunch, that too. I probably need to hydrate and increase my electrolyte intake as well to prevent the cramps. Most importantly though, I need to get some more bike miles on the road to increase my endurance.
Artist for Song in Title: Jackson Browne



At the end of my run the other day, I had a memory of the way SNL character Roseanne Rosannadanna would end her  routines. "Well it just goes to show you, it's always something."

I finally seem to be past my Winter injury and am getting more consistent with my running. And with the weather turning back to Spring-like, I had packed my whole closet for my noon workout. Short sleeve, long sleeve, sleeveless, shorts, tights, hat, sunglasses, gloves, I was prepared for any weather possibilities, almost. I forgot one very important thing - socks. But I figured, hey, it's a short, recovery day, I should be able to do this.

So off I went on my run, sans socks. And you probably know what happened. About 15 minutes in, my little toes started to feel a little rubbing. Nothing too bad, but enough that I knew there was a potential for problems. The good news was that I was already on my return to the gym, so maybe I could get by without too much trouble. Wrong. It just kept getting worse. I did manage to cut the run short by a few minutes, but by that time the damage was already done. Blisters created. Blister on my right little toe popped and skin gone.

I guess that means a few extra days off while I allow my toes to recover. It's always something.

Artist for Song in Title: The Beatles

White Rabbit


I've been easing back into running for the last 2 weeks. My physical therapist gave me a return to running plan that started with walk/run combinations and finally this week switched to a full run. The plan has been working well for the tendonitis but has really revealed how much my fitness level has dropped. That really surprised me since I was dedicated to getting to the gym and using the cardio machines when I couldn't run. So what do you do when you have been on the roads for two weeks and have run one time for 25 minutes? Sign up and run a 5k!I really didn't have much of a choice. Today was the Z-run, our local 5k that supports the local schools. If you are a long time reader, you might remember that I won my age group last year. However, that was then and this is now. Last year I was base building and training to pace Jil through her first running half marathon.  This year, I had 2 weeks of running under my belt and had just spent the week fighting either severe seasonal allergies or a head cold. Translated: I needed a new strategy. Will (my 11 yr old son) flirted with the 25 minute mark last year, so I decided to play pace rabbit and help him achieve that goal.Mile 1: 8:27This race is interesting, because it brings out a lot of families and kids in the 4-8 grade range. Most of these kids fall into 2 categoreis, either yo-yos or shooting stars. The yo-yos are the little kids that sprint for a few hundred yards and the shooting stars line up at the front of the pack and run all out as long as they can until they blow up, usually after a mile or so. Will and I started mid-pack and stayed patient for the first mile, slowly working through the yo-yos and the other kids that had started to blow up already. That isn't too bad, except that a good portion of the first mile is run on bike trails, so there isn't a lot of room to maneuver. The first mile wasn't quite where we wanted to be, but we were confident we could make it up.Mile 2: 7:49Mile 2 got us into a neighborhood, so we were back on the streets and had more room. This is the section of the course where we  usually face a wind, but this year the conditions were fairly calm. Will and I just tried to maintain a comfortable pace and pass as many runners as we could. There was one water stop, but Will informed me that you really don't need water for anything under 5. Maybe he does actually listen to his dad, at least sometimes. Right after the water stop it was back onto the bike path.Mile 3: 7:50As we got into mile 3, I could tell that Will was starting to feel the pace, because he wasn't talking much and his breathing was getting fairly shallow. I knew I needed to get him relaxed, because the one hill on the course was coming in about a half mile. I got him to breath deeper and then begun to build him up. I talked about how it was just the end of a triathlon, this is when all the work pays off (all 2 training runs that he did!), that he was more prepared than the next guy, etc. We got to the short climb and pulled ourselves up. By this time I was beginning to feel the effects of the pace and my cold as well, but knew I had to be there for him or he may not reach his goal. The course leveled out again, and we started to work our way on the paths through a small park. Will said "why does this path have to be so windy?". I had to concur, but told him just to get strength from all the people we were passing.Fina[...]