Monday, December 31, 2007

new shoes

I went to Gary Gribble's today. As soon as I put on a new pair of shoes, a lot of my pain went away. I was actually able to run a hundred yards or so on each brand I tried on -- with little pain. Quite a contrast to my old New Balance, in which I felt pain just walking from the parking lot to the store.

So this is good news. It means that at least part of my pain is due to warn out shoes. And in chatting up the salesperson I learned that running on uneven icy surfaces for long periods of time (like 20 miles) can make you sore. So that's another piece of the puzzle.

The last piece I found when I was trying out the shoes. As I was running along the sidewalk outside the mall, I looked at my reflection in the store windows. I'm clearly landing with my forefoot a little bit in front of my body. That means I'm actually hitting the brakes with each step. And my brakes are my quads. So that's why my quads hurt.

I've got to get it to where my feet land under my body. I've known this for a month or so now, and I thought I had made the proper adjustments. But seeing myself in the window confirmed that I haven't.

At any rate, all of this is encouraging. It means that I'm not hopelessly flawed and therefore incapable of becoming a marathon. Rather, I just need to make some adjustments.

I'm starting to think this Carlsbad race is going to be just fine. So long as I properly take care of myself in the next three weeks...

Sunday, December 30, 2007

22.45 miles

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Today my training schedule called for a 23 mile run. I knew that I was ill-prepared because of the holidays. Also, I've been a bit achy on my runs since the 20 miler three weeks ago. So I decided I would walk most of this one.

My plan was to run a quarter mile or so at each mile. Then, for the last five or six miles, I would try to do the 3 minutes running : 1 minute walking ratio I've done for most of my training build up. I figured that would give me a sense of what it'll feel like at the marathon, when I'm fatigued and trying to keep going. Besides, Jeff Galloway, creator of my training program, claims that walking is pretty much just as good training as running.

Still, it didn't quite work out the way I planned. At about mile 15 I decided to try alternating each quarter mile with running and walking because at that point I felt too sore to go with Plan A. With the exception of two half-mile walk breaks, I managed to keep that up until about mile 21, at which point I felt intense pain in my left quad. This pain had been increasing with each running interval, and now it was sharp enough that I knew I'd be an idiot to try again (though I did try again, twice, for about 3 seconds each time). So I walked the last mile and a half.

The journey took a total of 5 hours and 32 minutes. For the most part it was fun. We're having lovely weather here today; brightly sunny and 37 degrees. And my route included just about all of the KC half marathon route, which shows off a lot of the best sights our city has to offer. Freed from the need to hear my stopwatch alarm because I wasn't writing intervals, I listened to a book on tape -- Master of the Senate, which I've listened to before, but is good enough for a second go.

Despite the pleasantness of being outdoors on such a nice day, the pain I felt at the end (and which I still feel as I waddle around the house) has me pretty discouraged. I wouldn't be so disappointed if I'd been running most of the way. But this was really just a long walk, and all I was trying to do was break it up with quarter-mile jogs (which, I should add, were run at a pretty darn slow pace). It would seem that I could do those pretty easily even under the worst conditions.

So I'm wondering now how things will be in three weeks when I'm in Carlsbad. I'm starting to reassess my strategy. Perhaps it would be best if I'd go into the event with a plan kind of like today, though no matter what I'll need to run more because I have to maintain a 12:30 pace.

Interesting process. Not as easy as I thought it would be...

Saturday, December 29, 2007

train in vain

Yesterday, Allie and I caught the train from Chicago to Kansas City. It was delayed for four hours because of a derailment. We had to wait in the train at the station for a long time without moving. So we went to the lounge car to play Boggle.

While there, we observed several failed attempts at the human mating ritual.

In the booth next to us sat two young women working on word search puzzles. After a while, a man with long hair and a beard sat down with them. He was a liberal know it all. He lectured the young women in a friendly but patronizing way about what makes good theater and why the bourgeois ruin it. He said this word, bourgeois, several times, drawing out the syllables.

I thought that perhaps the women were high school students, and this guy was a teacher escorting them and several other students on a theater trip to the big city. They looked very young to me. But then, after the guy left, they pulled out a great big bottle of whiskey and started drinking. That threw my theory off.

Not long after the guy left another guy started in on them. He asked them questions. Invariably, he would turn the conversation back to the weather. I wrote a note to Allie in which I deemed him the weather man.

We learned through his inquiry that they were college students from New Mexico who had been in Chicago visiting relatives. The man offered that he is a movie extra who lives in LA. To pay the rent he drives a limo. They told him they thought he looks like Ricky Gervais, star of the British version of The Office. They seemed to not even know that Gervais's latest project is called Extras.

Oh. I have to go eat. More later...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

mission acomplished

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Well, it turns out the weatherman was wrong again, this time in the right direction. There were not, as predicted, torrents of freezing rain. So I was able to do the 20 miler out in the beauty of the world rather than the dreeriness of an indoor track.

How was it?

Mostly good. But I reallly bonked on the last two and a half miles. They were almost pure torture. Before that I started bonking pretty bad on the uphills from about mile 15 on. Every time I hit an incline during that stretch I felt like I was going to die.

And now I am sore as can be. Calves. Quads. Lower back. Feet. All aching.

All in all it was a good learning experience. And I feel more than a little studly, having gone 20 miles on one of the worst weather days of the year.

What did I learn?

For one, stick with the walk/run plan, at least for this stage of my running life. I decided at about mile 5 to abandon the 3 minute run/1 minute walk schedule. From mile five to mile fifteen I ran quite a bit farther between walk breaks, in some cases I went more than a mile before taking a break. I also let the pace pick up pretty good a on a couple of stretches.

I think all of this contributed to me bonking so hard at the end.

I took with me three packs of PowerBar gel. I gulped down the first one at mile 10 as planned. The next two I had at 15 and 18. In both instances I felt pretty much completely wiped out, and the calories boost gave me a little bit of energy to press on. I'm definitely going to need to do that again one the marathon.

So, having learned my lessons, I plan to be a lot smarter when I do my 23 miler on December 30. I'm definitely going to stick to the walk/run plan. And I'll be sure to have plenty of calories handy.

Now, for the rest of the day, I'm going to put my feet up andhope that this pain subsides.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

20 miles, 2

All week I kept checking the forecast. All week it held steady for Sunday: 25 degrees with 60 percent chance of freezing rain. And all week I clung to the hope that the forecast would be wrong.

Well, it was wrong.

Now the forecast is for 15 degrees and 100 percent chance of freezing rain.

So... About that 20 mile run. I'm still going to do it. But not outdoors.

I think I could handle the temperature. But not the .2 inches of ice they're predicting. Right now there's about .002 inches out there, and it's treacherous enough.

Tomorrow I will be running 200 laps at the North Kansas City Community Center.

What fun!

Friday, December 07, 2007

alex katz

Today I had some time to kill before a dentist appointment, so I explored a series of elevated walkways between buildings in downtown Kansas City. I pleasantly surprised to find an art collection in the middle of it.

The work was all contemporary realism, and most of it I didn't like, except for this painting by Fairfield Porter:

But then I turned around and saw a great big painting that looked like something by Alex Katz. I took a few steps closer and read the title plate. It was!

I couldn't believe it. A huge Katz from 1971. It was of a couple sitting on a couch and another couple sitting across from the min arm chairs. They appeared to be in conversation. One guy was smiling. He looked an awful lot like this guy.

Such a cool discovery. This totally unique, classic work by a contemporary master, just hanging in the middle of mundane office-space downtown Kansas City.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

20 miles

The plan is to run 20 miles this Sunday. Never in my life have I gone so far on a training run. Obviously I'm thinking a lot about it. It's a big event looming on my horizon.

As luck would have it, the forecast for Sunday is for "ice pellets" and "likely freezing rain" and 27 degrees.

So obviously I'm thinking A LOT about this run.

My initial plan was to do a tour of the city. But tonight I took a wonderful run in the snow down Cliff Drive and I thought, I could do Cliff Drive three times!.

And then I got to thinking about it, and I realized I could piece together my close-to-home running routes and do them twice or three times and it would add up to 20 miles in a jiffy.


1. A psych boost, because these are all runs I do with no problem all the time, it won't feel like a long run, where I'm super far from home. Seriously, I've run Cliff Drive so many times now, that it almost feels like walking across my living room.

2. Hardly any traffic.

3. No sidewalk running, with uneven ice-chunk surfaces that are bound to be ubiquitous on Sunday, after a snow storm and a couple of days of frozen rain.

4. Cliff Drive is purdy.

5. I'll be close enough to home, that maybe Allie will be able to come out and cheer me on at some point.

Two more days. I'm gonna do this.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

six miles

Sorry I haven't been updating much. I swear I've got the worst case of block I've ever had.

I toned back the running just a smidge last week, because I was feeling a few aches in my calves and quads. I've also increased the stretching routines. Today I went back out for my scheduled six miler and it went pretty good. I got a little cramp in my left calf from mile 4 to mile 5, and my quads were still generally tight. But I think I'm back on track. I just need to take it a little easy this next week, probably only running twice, as I gear up for the 20-miler next Sunday. I think if I just keep it real slow, I'll be fine.

Allie and I ate the last of the garden last night -- two bowls of arugala. Can't say it's my favorite green. Certainly not as good as the two bowls of spinach we had earlier this week. For some reason, I can't get that stuff to grow as thick as lettuse. Wish I could, because it's sooooo good.

Work's going pretty good. We're having some inner office personality issues, one of which is about as ugly and unfair as any inner-office conflict I've ever seen. It's frustrating because bits and pieces of it have been leeked to the public, and bloggers are having a field day making convictions. Those of us who really know what's going on are forced to keep our mouthes shut, but suffice to say that things are not at all as they appear in the blogosphere. It's tough, and it really pisses me off sometimes, but I think it's strengthening the resolve of those of us who are committed. At least I'm feeling more committed now than ever.

Allie and I ran together today for the first time (I ran the first two miles of my run with her). That was really cool. She says she thinks she's going to become addicted, which I think is great. Eleven months from now, we'll be running the Portland Marathon together.

Won't be long we'll be hopping a train bound for Indiana for the holidays. Little less than three weeks, in fact. Counting the days...