Archive for July, 2010

Sweet Sixteen

Posted in Uncategorized on July 31, 2010 by Trail Boy

For some strange reason, I still remember my most hellish training run.

It wasn’t, as you might think, a 23- or 24-miler under the blazing sun.

It was only 16 miles. On a soft towpath surface. In the cool woods. In the early morning.

But it felt like 50 miles. My legs hated it. They were heavy and felt dead. I had no bounce at all. I stumbled through the run, somehow, and then went home and collapsed.

All afternoon, my legs ached and screamed. Then, in the evening, they began throbbing. After dinner, I stretched on the couch in the TV room. But my legs ached so much that I couldn’t concentrate on the TV. It required too much effort. So I just stared at the ceiling and wondering what I had gotten myself into.  It was so bad I nearly bagged my marathon hopes right then and there.

To this day, eight years later, I still don’t know why that run was so tough. But the next weekend, I headed out again for a long run, 18 miles, with a lot of trepidation. This time, the run went great. I relaxed in the swimming pool that evening, went home, and went right to sleep. And the next weekend, I ran 20 miles, as fresh as a daisy.

Today, for some reason, I thought about that hellish 16-mile long run in 2002, and how I almost gave up distance running.

Why? Today was a 16-mile day. And I wondered if I was up to it.

As I mentioned in my last post, the past week has been tough — vacation travel, brutal heat, a loud motel. It all added up to disaster. I went four days without running. When I got back home, I did two short runs, then planned for the weekend, hoping to get my training back on track.

Today was the day of reckoning. Could I run 16 miles like an experiened marathoner? Or would it eclipse my hell day in 2002?

I got up at 6:30, made coffee, nibbled on a banana and got my stuff together. I shuffled out the door and drove out to the towpath trailhead in Broad Ripple. My plan called for running 10 miles on the towpath and six miles on the paved Monon.

Thankfully, the weather was great — mid-60s, with a cool breeze. The skies were filled with dark-gray clouds. I could smell rain coming.

I took a last swig of water and began trotting south on the towpath — nice and easy at first, 9-minute miles.

The trail was a busy place today, with hundreds, maybe thousands of runners gettting in their Saturday morning licks.

I began to loosen up and get a good pace as I continued south, running to the end of the towpath at 30th Street. Five miles down, 44 minutes in the can. I stretched my legs for about 60 seconds, then turned around and began to pick up the pace.

Weird thoughts danced in my mind: old races, running friends, favorite marathons. And of course, the dreaded 16- mile run from eight years ago.

At about six miles, I saw a familiar face. It was Tom, a friend from work. We stopped and said hi. He was out for a 20-miler in training for a marathon over Labor Day in Colorado. We were both in the mood to chat, so I turned around and joined him, running toward 30th Street again.

Then we turned around and headed north again — me for the second time.

I noticed that Tom did long runs much differently than I did. He follows the Jeff Galloway method, stopping for a walking break every mile for about a minute.

I don’t like taking breaks that often, unless, maybe, I’m on a steep hiking trail in the woods, up the side of a ravine. When I’m on flat ground, I like to keep moving. Stopping once every five miles is plenty, if that.

After the third time Tom stopped to walk, I waved goodbye and ran ahead.

But it was fun to run three or four miles together, passing the time with a friend. And by joining him when I did, and retracing my steps, I had run an extra 2.6 miles on the nice, cushionary towpath. That meant that when I got back to my car at the north end for water, I would have to run less than four miles on the Monon, rather than six.

I got back to my car, 12.7 miles down, about 1:50 on my watch.

Then I headed south on the Monon, when the running traffic was much heavier. The Monon is the interstate of running trails in Indy, filled with runners, walkers, in-line skaters, cyclists and sometimes, people just standing around, talking.

I pushed on for about 15 minutes, passing back yards, playgrounds, and an occasional strip mall, before hitting 49th Street, where I turned around.

With less than two miles to go, I could feel my legs getting a bit heavy, but I held the pace, pushing on. No Galloway walking breaks. No talking on the cell phone. Just keep running.

I made it back to the parking lot, with plenty of energy left, but glad the run was done. Total time: two hours and 25 minutes.

I had forgotten to wear my Garmin GPS, so when I got home, I calculated my run with a mapping website. It was 16.47 miles.

This was a sweet 16 indeed, and then some. Despite a long, strange week, I was back on schedule. I could jump back into my training program.

And I’ll always have my memories of the Hellish 16. It’s still my worst training run ever.

Slipping backward

Posted in Uncategorized on July 29, 2010 by Trail Boy

Traveling can really throw your running routine out of whack.

Like right into the toilet.

I recently got back from a mini-vacation with my family — four days in southern Indiana to explore caves and ride roller coasters.

But during those four days, guess how many times I went running?

A) Four

B) Three

C) Two

D) One

E) Less than one.

Yes, dear reader, the correct answer is E. I went running exactly zero times during my trip.

And why was that, you might wonder.

Because that’s what traveling does. It throws your normal routine into the toilet.

Instead of sleeping in my own bed and waking up at 5:30 a.m., fully rested and raring to go, I slept in a crowded, noisy motel. And for reasons too bizarre to explain, I spent two nights sleeping on the floor, listening to loud people walk past my door all night.

When I awoke, I was not in prime shape for a run. I was sleep deprived. I was in an unfamiliar town, near interstates and busy streets. The motel had no treadmill or workout room.

If I wanted to step out the door and go for a quick run, I would have to deal with the following: sleep deprivation, insanely hot and humid weather, and busy roads, followed by a full day of hiking around caves or amusement parks.

And when I returned from my run, I would have to deal with a cranky Mrs. Trail Boy, who would be understandably upset that I left her alone with two energetic boys in a cramped hotel room in a strange town.

So that’s why I didn’t go running. It just wasn’t meant to be.

That’s not how I usually go on vacation. Normally, I go to the beach, park my car for a week, and settle into a lazy routine. But I still go running almost every day.

This year was different. We didn’t have the bucks for a beach trip. We needed to stay close to home, on a budget vacation.

But the budget vacation came with a price: a busted running program.

Well, what’s done is done. It’s time to look ahead. I’m back, and ready to jump back into training.

This morning, I went out for about six miles. I felt pretty strong. The air was a bit cooler than in recent weeks. I had a full night’s rest. Things were getting back to normal. 

Tomorrow, I plan to run eight miles. On Saturday, I will shoot for 16.

Then, I’ll be caught up. If not, I’ll have to adjust my training plan.

Either way, I vow I won’t take another trip until my marathon training is over.

Please, God, make this miserable weather end

Posted in Uncategorized on July 25, 2010 by Trail Boy

If I had doubts before, I know it now for sure.

I am not a hot weather person. When the temperature soars above 90 degrees, I am miserable and cranky and not fun to be around.

I will never run the Badwater Ultramarathon through Death Valley in July. I can’t even stand to run two miles in sizzling weather.

And that’s what we’ve been having lately — lots of days when the mecury has 90, 92, 95 degrees and hotter. With the still air and the muggy humidity, it feels like 105 some days.

I went running at 6 a.m. three days last week, and it still felt like a jungle. I did it, but I was not happy.

Today, I am taking the family on a little vacation to southern Indiana. We will hit an amusement park, some caves, some trails, some other fun spots.

The weatherman says it should be a little cooler — high 80s, instead of high 90s.

I hope he’s right. If the temps went to the high 70s, I wouldn’t complain.

My new motivational theme song

Posted in Uncategorized on July 20, 2010 by Trail Boy

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a new marathon song.

It’s time to kill the theme from “Rocky” once and for all. It’s been done to death. Every time I line up to run a marathon, I cringe when they blast that dreck from the loudspeakers. 

Same with “Born to Run,” “Running on Empty,” “Chariots of Fire,” “Flashdance,” “Imagine” and all the other retreads.

We need something fresh. Something raw and edgy.

Well, I’ve found it.

This is the song that commands you to get out of bed at 5 a.m. to run 800-meter repeats at the track.

This will push you on the long runs. This will get you to Boston.

It’s my new theme.

Whatever it is.

Click here and enjoy.

Then let’s all sing it at the starting line of the next big race.

So glad I missed this race

Posted in Uncategorized on July 19, 2010 by Trail Boy

This is one trail race I don’t regret blowing off.            

From everything I’ve heard, the Buckeye Trail 50K on Saturday was brutal. The weather sucked: blazing sun, high humidity and thick, steamy air.            

Lots of runners battled heat exhaustion and cramps. The blogs are full of horror stories. (More on that in a minute.)            

This was a race I almost ran. I signed up for it several months ago, and was looking forward to it.            

But then, last month I changed my mind. I decided I needed to focus 100 percent on training for the Columbus Marathon and my goal of qualifying for Boston. I didn’t want to risk getting hurt at a trail ultra. Last year, I ran the Buckeye, banged up my feet and toes, and hobbled around for weeks afterward. I also lost a toenail.            

So I pulled out and was lucky enough to find someone on the waiting list who was happy  to buy my entry. Over the next few weeks, however, I wondered if I would regret my decision.            

Now I know the answer. Hell no! After reading a few blog entries in the last two days, I saw I made the right decision, for the weather if for no other reason.            

Lots of runners said the 90-degree weather was miserable, using terms like “heat stroke” and “pass out.”            

But read for yourself:            

Kristen, who was running her first 50K, sent out sentence fragments to capture her anguish:   

* Heart. Rate. Won’t. Come. Down.          

 * Hills? These are mountains.        

 * Water, water, water     

* Just keep runnning, just keep running, just keep running.  
* Can’t wait to finish this. 

* Where is the f-n finish line?       

Terri, who has run plenty of tough trail races, wrote this:  At the turn-a-round, I noticed that I was feeling a little dizzy in the heat, so I took alittle longer at the aid station inorder to consume more liquid. Once I left the aid station, my thought was to try to pick up the pace, which I did for awhile, but the heat and humidity started to take its toll and instead of worrying about time, it became trying to get to the finish!          

Nick, who has run more than two dozen ultras, wrote this:   I could feel my heartbeat by pushing in on my jugular, but it was very faint.  … I was getting lightheaded, my adductor was screaming and tiptoeing up hills became the standard.  From Snowville on, it’s exactly 6.2 miles or 10K to the finish.  Much of it was hiked and a few stops to sit and get my heart slowed down were hallmarks of this section.  My heart was racing to cool me but it’s beat was so faint to me.  I knew I’d better be careful or I was going to pass out and that never has a happy ending.              

Red wrote this about the final miles: These last miles are always the toughest, but this section is awful…many muddy areas and fallen logs and meadow like stretches where no respite from the blazing sun.  I had to stop and walk or suffer heat stroke. … Walking the hills took almost everything out of me. I braced my quads, and once at the top, my heart pounding, I had to stop a few seconds to get my heart rate down. This race needed to be over.            

Another friend of mine, Kevin, told me he DNF’ed at mile 11 after feeling lightheaded. He turned in his number and then walked miles back to his car.            

I have a feeling there will be more horror stories in the days to come.            

Remarkably, the winner finished in 4:03 (an average pace of 7:51). That was only about eight minutes slower than the winning time last year, when the temps were much cooler.            

This was one race I was lucky enough to skip.            


So what did I do this weekend, while those poor runners in Ohio were suffering?            

On Saturday, I ran not a single step. I spent about six hours inside, cleaning the house, in preparation for overnight guests.            

On Sunday, I ran about 14 miles at Fort Ben — about four miles on the Lawton Loop and about 10 miles on the Harrison Trace. The temperature had dropped a few degrees from Saturday’s furnace levels, but the humidity was still a factor. I soaked through my shirt in less than 30 minutes.            

I took today off to recover. Tomorrow, it’s back to an easy run.            

Or as easy as I can expect in this godawful hot weather.            

For the week, I logged 35 miles. I ran easy two day (Tues and Thurs), did a tempo run (Wed) and a long run (Sun).            

Click here to see my geeky data.  

A full, slightly exhausting weekend

Posted in Uncategorized on July 12, 2010 by Trail Boy

Who, me overdo it? Well, maybe just a little.

I got my fill of trails this weekend, and then some.

On Sunday morning, I ran 12 miles, mostly on the towpath. A few hours later, I took the boys mountain biking for two hours on a very hilly, rugged, technical trail at Westwood Park. It was hot, exhausting and a lot of fun.

My legs could feel it. They were still recovering from Saturday, when I ran five miles in the morning on another bike trail, then went back later with Steven in the afternoon to bike the same course. In between, I did three hours of yard work, capped with digging a fire pit in the back yard.

Now, I’m shuffling around, planning to take Monday off and give my legs a rest.

But I can’t complain. I had a good week. I ran five days and logged 35 miles. That kept me on track with my marathon training plan. Here’s a quick recap:

Monday and Thursday: Easy runs (7.4 and 5.9 miles)

Wednesday: Speedwork at the track (6 x 800)

Saturday and Sunday: trails (5 miles and 12 miles) and biking (5 miles and 10 miles on hilly bike trails)

Monday and Friday: rest

Click here to see my geeky running data.

Click here to return to the home page.

One if by land, two if by sea

Posted in Uncategorized on July 10, 2010 by Trail Boy

I thought of this Longfellow poem, “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere,” as I hit the trails today.

It came to mind because I was hitting the trails in two different ways, and at two different times.

At 9:30 this morning, I drove up to Town Run Trail to run the bike path. It was a fun four miles — hilly and winding and lots of shady green woods.

Then a few hours later, my son Steven and I put our bikes on the back of the car, drove back to the trail and tackled it again. This time on bikes.

One if by foot, two if by bike.

The trail was fun both times. I had feared that it would be muddy, and possibly closed, due to some heavy rainstorms in recent weeks, including a gullywasher on Thursday night.

But the trail was 95 percent dry and firm, with a muddy patch here and there — just enough to make it interesting, both on foot and on bike.

Tomorrow (Sunday), I plan to get up early and run 12 miles on the towpath. That will get my weekly mileage up to about 35.

But I plan to cover that ground just once. I’m not going back with my bike later. One Paul Revere outing per weekend is plenty.