Monday, January 30, 2012

Over the River and Through the Woods / There's always somebody tougher than you....

It keeps snowing intermittently around here. Not a lot, but an inch there, a couple there. Then it melts and then it snows an inch or two again. It's not too bad, but it seems to snow before or during every planned run. We got about 2 - 3 inches yesterday, making the roads a bit slick. Because of this, and because I have wanted to run it for a while, I decided to go to Indian Spring Metropark to run the Hike / Bike trail.

Once I got geared up to go, I walked for about a third of a mile and then started to run. This was the first time I got to go outside with my new Brooks Adrenaline 11s and was hoping not to need the Yaktrax, but decided to put them on as there was still some snow and a little ice on the paved trail.

I was able to keep a pretty good, consistent pace throughout, at about 9:45/mi and was thinking I was pretty tough running out by myself in the cold on the trail. When I was about 2/3rds done, I saw someone coming from the other direction. It was a woman pushing a stroller. No, it was a woman running behind and pushing a double stroller with two kids and moving at a decent pace! As they passed me, I saw the two kids in the stroller behind the plastic guard, all bundled up and smiling. I don't know if she was going to do the whole loop, but I wouldn't doubt it.

Thankfully, she wasn't going the same direction as me. If she would have passed me, that would have not been good for my ego.

I think this trail will be a regular running destination for me. With this run, I'm within a mile of my highest monthly mileage total ever at around 64 miles (which I think is good considering it is January). I'll need to average about 80 a month to meet my mileage goals for the year.

Does anyone have anything exciting (or less than exciting) to share?

Would you rather deal with the cold, the treadmill, or do you pack it in until spring?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Versatile Blogger Award

Michael at Marathon After Fifty nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award, so thanks to him for that! Actually, it seems to be like a blog chain letter without threat of curse (that I know of), but I'll play along.

You're supposed to mention 7 things about yourself, so here we go:
1. My favorite restaurant is Miner Dunn Hamburgers in Highland, IN.
2. I once was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and signed autographs at a grocery store when I was a teen.
3. I ran cross country in high school and was barely varsity on a mediocre team.
4. I think that 70's hard rock is the best. I'm a sucker for a big dumb guitar riff.
5. My first computer was a Colecovision Adam, which we couldn't get to work and returned 2 days later. Ended up with a Commodore 64.
6. I get sucked into watching ICarly with my kids.
7. I think that King of the Hill was brilliant and am not happy it was cancelled in favor of another lame show by the creators of Family Guy.

That was kinda random.

Anyhow, you're supposed to tag 15 other bloggers, but that is a bit excessive. I can tag you if you want, let me know!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Defiance on a Snow-Covered 10!

After church, meetings, etc, I was ready to run this afternoon. After all, the weathermen and women were saying it was going to be in the mid-upper 30's and the snow should start melting. So I geared up, slightly less so than yesterday, because it was "warmer" and headed out. Except, it was not really warmer at all. Well, maybe a couple degrees warmer, but the wind more than cancelled that out.

From now on in this post, you may see an asterisk (*) after a colorful word. This means that the colorful word was not the original word which I spoke or thought about. The colorful word will be more creative than the original one.

As I was doing my warmup walk to the start of my run, I thought "*Potatoes!*", it is much colder than it is supposed to be. Then, when getting ready to start, I said "*Phooey!*", as I forgot to turn my watch on. As I started, I thought *Aw..Pickles!* because the inside of my left knee felt a bit sore. Thankfully, that worked itself out after about a mile.

I knew a general direction, but wasn't sure how far I would end up going. I headed up one of the busier streets I would be traveling on when a truck came a bit to close to me, in my opinion. I shouted "You *fine young cannibal*!" at the truck, but I'm certain I was not heard. It made me feel a bit better though...

Despite the cold, I felt pretty good as I moved along at a pretty slow pace. I felt I was working a bit harder than the speed I was traveling, which I attribute to the snow covered roads. (I have a better appreciation for yesterday's run now, it was quite good given the conditions). As I approached the 3 mile mark, I considered turning around to run a total of 6 miles, but I said "*Sucks to* 6 miles" and continued. Same thing when I could have turned around at 3.5 or 4 miles. "*Shove* 7 miles!", "*Zap* 8 miles". I was in a defiant mood and was going to do the entire loop!

As I ran out of the more wooded area onto a street surrounded by a more farm-like setting, the wind hit me and I said "*Rutabaga!*". The wind only got worse once I turned onto the busier street, where it was directly in my face. I did feel tough though. I was running on a snow covered shoulder of a busy road, with the wind howling in my face and thought that if I could do this, I can handle about anything.

As I finished up my loop and headed back to the start, I noticed that I was only at 9 miles. "*Fiddlesticks* 9 miles", I shouted and continued on. Even though it wasn't fast, I thought of this run as the turning point where I was back to my Brooksie Way shape and am now ready to move forward. Doing 10 miles would just make it better. So, I finished up and briefly thought about doing 13.1, just because. "*Fudge* that!"

I should really rest tomorrow, but if it is as "warm" as they said it will be, it will be hard not to do something. Maybe just a short recovery run..

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Yaktrax on a Snowy Run, Bought New Shoes

My schedule has not been kind to running at all this week. Sick kids, meetings, wife surgery - other things were just more important than getting in training runs. As everyone is healed or on the mend, I am able to get back at it.

As it was below 10F around noon, I decided to go and get a new pair of shoes. As I have never been fit for a pair of running shoes, I decided to go to a running store. The nearest one to me is Runnin' Gear. I have been in the store a couple times previously and like to patronize local businesses when I am able. The main issue with smaller stores is that they tend to be more expensive. I heard that they were having a sale, so I thought I would stop by.

I met with Mark at Runnin' Gear and, after looking at my current shoes, evaluating my stride, etc., he brought me 4 pairs of shoes to try. Out of all of them, the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 11s immediately felt the best. They are "last years" model, as a GTS 12 is now out, so they were on sale for $70 (comparable to online prices). I didn't like that they were made in China. As far as I know, only New Balance has American-Made shoes, but the shoes comparable to the Brooks Adrenalines weren't on sale and just didn't feel as good to me. (I wish more companies would make shoes in the US. While it might not be a major factor in all purchases, I try to "Buy American" when ever I can). I ended up purchasing the Brooks shoes, but decided not to try them out in the snow.

When I got home after the running store and the grocery store, it was now closer to 20 degrees with sun and not much wind. Good enough. I put on 3 shirts, 2 "wicking" long sleeve shirts and my thicker, cotton "Iron Turkey" long sleeve shirt over the top. This layering method seems to work well from about 20 - 35 degrees. I also finally got to put the Yaktrax Pros to use for the first time. These things go over the bottom of your shoes for traction on ice and snow.

The side roads I ran on were still somewhat snow / ice covered after our 2-3 inches of snow last night and the extra traction was welcome. I'm not certain I could have done this run without the Yaktrax and they were not uncomfortable or unwieldy, which makes them worth it in my opinion. If they can hold up well, I would recommend them, but time will tell.

The goal was to do a mid - fast pace 5k run and I did what I set out to do, keeping a sub-9 min/mi pace. On an effort scale of 1 - 10, I'd say I was at a solid 7 and was happy with the run, especially considering the temp and road conditions.

I'm hoping it will dry out a bit over the next couple days so I can use my new shoes! I would love to do a long run Sunday or Monday.

Anyone else have any running news or other insights to share?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Men who fought in submarines were hardcore

We (Lil' J and I) spent last night on the USS Silversides in Muskegon, MI at the Great Lakes Memorial and Museum with his Cub Scout troop. It was both very cool and very cold. I learned a lot about the sub and how those who manned it during World War II lived. It is amazing how 80 men could live in this ship for almost 3 months at a time while fighting a war. That was the true Operation Hardcore.


Because of the trip and for other reasons, I didn't get as much running in this week as I would have liked. After a nice, "easy" 9 miles on Monday, I only managed to do 2 treadmill miles on Wednesday and 2 more today. I am using the treadmill donated to us by my mom (it was collecting dust and cat hair anyway) and, for a "low-end" type treadmill that is a few years old, it seems to do the job.

There is one item about it I don't like - the display and what it says. It has one of the "old" black on grey LCD readouts which is hard to read, especially while moving. Worse is that the speed shown is way off from any other treadmill I have been on. Just by effort, I can tell that even though the display says 5 mph, I am working harder than 6 mph at the gym treadmill. While not scientific, I have a pretty good idea how fast I am running, and with as hard as I'm breathing and as much as I'm sweating, I'm sure moving faster than a 12 minute / mile pace. As such, I've decided that I'm adding about 20% to anything I do on this treadmill based on the display.

Operation Hardcore Fit (#OpHardcoreFit) is still in effect, but this week was a bit quiet. Planning to make more noise in the next couple weeks.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Built for Speed - Need for Theme

My new running theme song is Built for Speed by Motorhead (sorry, I don't know how to type umlauts).

Since I started running again, I have had the need for a "theme song". Why? I dunno. I just like having a song that, to me, means that it is time to get after it and attack the race course. I didn't need to find my first theme song in 2010, it found me: In For The Kill by Budgie.

Before the Warrior Dash last year, I found this great song by Thin Lizzy called Warrior(or Warriors, depending on the album).

Based on my choice of these three songs, a clear pattern is emerging:
1. The songs have something to do with aggression, power and / or speed.
2. They are mid-tempo, riff-heavy rock songs.
3. Fans of these bands would know these songs, but they aren't rock radio staples (classic rock radio is pretty poor anyway, especially in this area).
4. All are fairly new to me and became my theme songs upon first listenings.

I thought about making several songs such as "Going the Distance" by Cake, "Runnin' Down a Dream" by Tom Petty or "Run to the Hills" by Iron Maiden my official theme, but all were just too familiar. While I know Motorhead and am starting to get into some of their stuff thanks to Spotify, I haven't listened to their entire catalog. Knowing it was time for a new song for the year, I have been looking for songs with Run, Running, Runnin', fast, speed, etc. in the title. I found a few other songs I like, which could be part of a playlist, but the others had some "flaw" in being too slow, not "heavy" enough, too "hair band" sounding, too familiar, etc.

Yes, I know that this entire post is silly and makes me sound like a big (bigger?) dork, but I take motivation from wherever I can get it, particularly from music.


Ran 3 mid-tempo miles yesterday after the 7 the day before. No running today, but I will go out Monday and do something. I am leading towards doing another long run or a mid-distance run at a faster pace than the 7 on Friday.

The good weather of late has been energizing and has motivated me to run. I'm planning to do an early spring half-marathon now and will work in the upcoming weeks to get ready.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Joining Operation Hardcore Fit & great weather for running

Perhaps my favorite running blog is "Watch MeGo Run". I've been a regular reader for several months and her blog is always fun and joyful as she details her running and other adventures (and sometimes misadventures). She also has some great pictures from races and just life in general.

She is starting (or continuing) an initiative called "Operation Hardcore Fit" where many of her readers and friends pledge to be "hardcore" in their running during the next year. While I had no intention of fooling around this year (Running 101 is over), it may be helpful to be part of a group to support and to be supported. So... I'm in!

You can check out her post about Operation Hardcore Fit and see for yourself!


The weather was tremendous today! After my job had me traveling to various parks, I decided that it was just too nice to go back to work and a took a couple hours off, primarily so I could run. It was 48F and sunny, which is a rarity in Michigan in January. I toyed with going out in a t-shirt and shorts, but decided to wear sport pants and a long sleeve shirt. If it was a race, I would have went minimal, but I knew the warm-up walk and return after running would be chilly.

I was starving as I hadn't eaten anything all day - all I had was a bottle of Gatorade. It wasn't intentional, I didn't even decide to run until mid afternoon. Not wanting to eat and upset my tummy, I didn't eat anything and had yet a bit more Gatorade for some nourishment before heading out. The plan was to do at least 5 miles, but I wanted to do more and ended up doing 7 at a mid-pace. It was my longest run in over two months and felt pretty good.

The plan is to run at least 2 of the next 3 days to stay hardcore.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Count Your Blessings – By The Numbers

This post may end up like one of those cheesy sitcom clip shows which reflect on the past season. As I think I tend to have a slightly negative tone in many of my posts, this one will have none of that as I celebrate the year that was in my blossoming running career. I thought the best way to do this was to juxtapose (big word!) 2011 with years past and use some facts and figures to support and enlighten. Sure, whatever. Anyhow, here it is:

Miles Run:
1997 to 2007 – a little more than zero.
2008 – About 25
2009 – About 25
2010 – 150 or so.
2011 – More than 450

Days of exercise (running, gym, etc.)
1997 to 2009 – a few per year
2010 – About 30
2011 – Over 125

Races run:
1997 to 2007 – Zero
2008 – One
2009 – One
2010 – Three
2011 – Seventeen (Eleven 5Ks, One 8k, One 10K, One Half-Marathon, One 4 Mile age-graded race, One 4.8 Mile trail race and One Obstacle Race)

Fastest 5k Race times:
2008 – 31:56
2009 – 32:10
2010 – 28:10
2011 – 24:39

Race Awards:
Prior to 2011 – One second place medal for “walking” during a race I ran.
2011 – One Overall 1st place, One age group 1st place, Two age group 2nd place, Three age group 3rd place and a Top 20 age-graded race award (8th). Finisher medals for Warrior Dash, Brooksie Way Half Marathon and Iron Turkey races.

No matter how you crunch those numbers, I think that my 2011 running season was a great success! I am looking to continue to improve in 2012. Happy New Year!