Thursday, December 25, 2008

Purple Rain

Happy holidays you all...

Today was raining. The astute runner that I am, I checked radar pictures to figure out a good time to run and not get soaked. At 2:30PM, the sky cleared and I knew I had to take advantage of the gap. Alas, by the time I was ready the sky was overcast.

I took off without really fearing the impending rain. The pace was aerobic, easy on the legs.

Two days before I had had a wonderful run where I turned it into a fartlek. In that run, I pushed the effort on a couple of challenging hills; I accelerated a quarter, then a half (after a recovery slog)... I was feeling great, even after the half-mile pick-up wearing me down. I recovered with a 7:25 mile. Yeah, I know; that is very close to my GMP. The icing on the cake for this run was the last mile where I accelerated two blocks, jogged one (these blocks are small); I ended up with 7 pick ups and the final split was a 6:50. Needless to say I was very pleased with the result.

The following day was wisely slotted as a recovery run. But no matter how slow I tried running, the pace ended up averaging 8:15. Not fast, mind you, but much faster than the 8:45s I wanted.

Back to today. As I enter the Rio Hondo River, I feel a strong headwind (I guesstimate 11 mph) and my legs are feeling tired as if they were climbing a not-too-steep hill. Not to mention that I was drenched by this time. I stopped worrying about where my foot would land as the shoes were already soaked. I turn around and now I have a tailwind, but I take it easy. I am thoroughly enjoying the rain. I exit the man-made channel and hit local streets. The few stragglers look at me as if I am nuts. I am averaging 8:30s. One more mile... now half a mile left. I decide to do four accelerations. My knees push forward driving with a force I did not know they had. The muscles on my legs contort into shapes seen only in elite runners. I finish this mile in a not-too-shabby 7:39. Totally wet. And with a big goofy smile on my face. Life is good. Indeed.

[Today's mileage puts me at 1972. I should break 2000 by Monday. Yup, another 2K year for me.]

Last, but not least, may you all have a happy and prosperous new year.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Soccer Players

What is it about former soccer players being such speedy runners? I'll tell you what "I" think is the reason: drills, drills, drills. Maybe Seebo or Tom can answer this question as they are both former soccer players and both can run 5Ks in the 16s. As for me, I tried out numerous times when I was a kid to make a team with no success; I just sucked at all sports, period. I was one of those kids who was picked either last or next-to-last.

This reminds me of an incident a few years back, when I felt I was in good aerobic shape; I was asked to play an informal game of soccer. And while I was able to run back and forth in our smaller than regulation playground, I endured soreness for the next three days... ouch.

The reason I bring up soccer is that yesterday while running in ovals on my local dirt track, a soccer game was going on. The players were teens. From time to time I would peek to check out a play. At one point, the ball exited in front of me and the kid who had kicked it out had it in his hands. One of the other team's players stretched his left arm for the ball. The kid with the ball tosses the ball away from the other boy. I was flabbergasted. No, I was pissed. I felt like cornering that insolent kid and lecturing him to boredom what it means to be sportsman-like. Alas, his coach did not seem to share my view as the kid continue to play sans being "educated."

Then I notice that this other kid, who had been playing basketball appears to be racing me. I did not notice this until he had stopped. But on the next quarter, his brother (about two years younger) is ready to race me, so I say: bring it on. I sprint as hard as I can and I manage a small lead on the boy, but I am hurting. I expected him to fade quickly as I was going all out and he is staying put. Damn, he is going to beat me. I taunt him by saying that he is not about to let this ol' guy beat him. Finally he stops (after about 150 meters) and I am so grateful as my lungs and legs are totally exhausted. I am heaving and puffing as I try to recover and the oldest boy wants to race me again, this time with me being aware. So I try to sprint again but he gets in front of me and I cannot pass him. I yell at him to move over as I want to pass him. Obviously I should have gone around him, but I was still hurting from the previous sprint and I needed the inside all to myself :-) He promptly cedes way and slows down. I continue the quarter at a crawl and meet the family again. This time it is a ~seven year-old who wants to challenge a man who could be his grandfather. He immediately gets in front of me. I pretend to go all out but stay just behind him. I start to exaggerate my breathing to let him know that I am "working." He stops and I go over to congratulate him on beating me :-)

The run ended up lasting for six miles and even though it averaged only 8:06 pace, it took me a couple of hours to get over that nauseous feeling you get when you overexert yourself. That sprint really did me in; I am just glad I did not get injured.

Have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Spirit and Wounded Knee

I finally got to watch Spirit of the Marathon. As many of you know, it takes place in 2005 and culminates in the Chicago marathon. The docu-movie was quite enjoyable. It was heartbreaking to see Njenga finish third, but that's life in the elite's world.

Now, I happened to have been there as a participant and on my second viewing of the movie (not having been able to spot me the first time) I decided to freeze the screen a few seconds after the start of the race. Wham! I am there, right in the middle. Kind a cool [what a running nerd I am].

OAN, my left knee, the one that ached a couple of times during the NYCM, continues to bug me. The pain is rather dull but noticeable. So I decided to use a brand new pair of running shoes for yesterday's run. Lo and behold, no pain... at least in my knee. Alas, my left plantar was flaring up for the first couple of miles. The shoes I have been wearing (both pairs in the low 100-mile usage) seemed to be the reason. Or so I thought. Later on in the evening, while laying on my bed, the knee started aching; same kind of dull pain I had been feeling during my runs.

I began massaging the usual suspects for tender-spots (i.e. the ITB, Vastus medialis, the top of the gastrocnemius) and nothing discernible. Hmmm. Looking up at the symptoms of knee ailments narrowed it down to ITB Syndrome. But the core of the band seemed okay; until I followed it to where it connects to the knee. Yup; there it was: tender to pressure. I concluded that I have a mild case of ITBS. Oh well; I am glad it doesn't appear serious.

I will have to run easy for the next few weeks... it is what it is :-\