Sunday, January 27, 2013

Faster and Longer In Good Weather

Following a pretty light week, I put in another, um, pretty light week.  Last week's light week wasn't purely intentional.  I knocked out a 10 mile trail run on Saturday (I count running weeks as Sat-Fri).  I had every intention of putting in a good 40-ish week.  But I'll be honest:  this year I've gotten kind of tired of running in the cold. Oh, I'll go out and do it.  But I'm just as likely to replace a run with a swim or an indoor session on the bike, NordicTrack, or rower.  And, this past week,that's what I did.

Ultimately, I got in a couple of swims while knocking out only 20 miles in runs (including Saturday's).  The most interesting run of the week happened around 4:45 on Friday afternoon. I had my GPS watch on for some reason (I like it, but rarely wear it, because it makes running stressful).  I took off and thought, why not  push it for a 5K?  So I did.  I ran the fastest 5K I've run in quite some time.  I felt good at the end, but a little gassed.

On Saturday morning, I awoke and vowed to have a good running week - 30-40 miles.  I popped out to the river, and moved easily through 8.75 miles (according to my GPS).  I had been worried that I'd do a crap run after kicking through a 5K the night before, but there was no need to worry.

Later in the day, at the home of friends, over bowls of chips and dips, and a few margaritas, I watched KU play OU.  I left feeling as though I'd just let my training down.  Instead of blowing it off to being foolish,I decided another workout was in order.  I hit the pool and did about 2/3 mile before calling it a night.

This morning when I woke up, I knew it was going to warm up.  Even though it was a bit dark, blustery, and rainy, there was a warm up on the way.  I threw on a sleeveless tech shirt, a long-sleeve shirt over it, tights, and shoes and socks, and then headed back to the river.  And, to be honest, today I felt the run.  After a fast run, a decent run, and a good swim (not to mention the margaritas), my legs and core were a bit overcooked.  But to me, to go out and do the run when I'm really not feeling it, makes for a great training session if I can just go do it.  So I just did it.  I enjoyed the air, the mud, the wind, the discussion of the French forces in Mali on NPR, and the simple freedom to be in nature on my favorite trails with almost no one else around.

I did run into Coleen and Ricki on a training run.  We were headed in the opposite direction, but paused to talk about an upcoming 100 mile race that some of Coleen's protoges are doing next week. Otherwise, I saw no one.  It was simply too muddy to bike, and most runners do the 3(ish) and 5 mile routes on the trails rather than the full distance.

On Saturday's run I wore my Mizuno trail shoes.  Almost all of my shoes are Mizunos of some sort now.  I have come to love the brand over the past three years.  For today's run, I pulled out my old Brooks Cascadias.  I'm not nearly as fond of them.  But since they have a much lower tread profile than my Mizunos, I figured they'd pick up less mud (even though that would technically give me less traction).  The Brooks worked fine.  I've been a little critical of the Cascadias over the past couple of years.  But they have held up pretty well.  Still, though, if I'm just heading out the door to run trails, I will always opt first for Mizunos.  Just to give you an idea, my road shoes are 4 pairs Mizunos, and 1 pair Nike, and a minimal pair by Merrell.

Since we are supposed to hit 68F manana, I'm sure that I'll be out somewhere.  I'm thinking the 7.5 Lecompton Interchange run might be the ticket.  And shorts (also by Mizuno) will be in order!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A nice, but very light week

After the trip to the Bay Area and the jaunt across the GG Bridge, I actually had a pretty short mileage week.  I only put in 20-ish.  I did other workouts, but couldn't find the gumption to get out in the cold and put one foot in front of the other.  But, for once, I decided not to beat myself up about it.  Instead, I put in a few miles and waited until Saturday morning to head out for a longer distance.

At 7:30 on Saturday I showed up at the Corps lot at Clinton.  Including me, there we only three of us.  We took off at a pretty good clip.  The weather was on the line between needing gloves and going hands to the wind.  Two of us opted to leave the gloves behind.  Gary wore his though, because I heard somewhere that he is a former victim of frostbite.

The run was 10 miles at a good clip.  When it ended I felt great, and still do today (athough it is a bit chilly, so I may do an alternate workout;-)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


This past Sunday I did something I have never done; I crossed the Golden Gate Bridge using only human power.  It is slightly interesting that I had never done this considering that I had lived in San Francisco for a full year in 1991-1992.  At the time I wasn't much of a runner, having given up the sport some years before, but I did own a bike.  And, for a short time that year, I worked less than a quarter mile from the bridge.  So you think I would have crossed it, or at least approached it in some other fashion than sitting in the seat of a car.  But no, that never happened.

I had a business trip to SF scheduled for this week.  So, instead of flying out on Sunday night as originally planned, I headed to the Bay Area on Saturday.  When Sunday arrived with wind and a temperature of 40F,     I was undaunted.  I pulled on a short sleeve tech shirt, a long sleeve tech shirt, a water-proof (ish) Patagonia jacket, some loose tights (true dat), my killer Mizunos (I still geek out over them), a hand-held water bottle, and then set out.

I had chosen to stay on Fisherman's Wharf for the first time in all my years of going to SF.  I chose the location not because I love the single most touristy place in the City, but because of its proximity to the waterfront that leads to the bridge.

I first ran through the wharf.  Soon after, I passed Aquatic Park.  There were actually people swimming in the bay.  With the serious chill in the air, it seemed crazy.  But then again, polar bear swimmer types often have the same world view that crazy runner types also hold.  Heading to Fort Mason I encountered my first serious hill.  It wasn't crazy long, but just long enough to let me know that attacking it as I had done was not the smartest strategy on a run that would exceed ten miles.

Coming down the hill from the fort, I caught my first real glimpse of the bridge beyond the expansive Marina Green.  Running Marina Green is not something I had ever done.  I had walked it on numerous occasions, and it always seemed to take forever.  Sunday it did seem to drag out a bit.  But the straight, flat slog was broken up by the sheer beauty of the area, with its nature preserves and bay on one side, 1915 World's Fair architecture on the other, and the Golden Gate Bridge looming large ahead of me.

As I was nearing the end of the Green, and approaching Fort Point, I realized that I didn't exactly know how to access the bridge.  It isn't highly intuitive.  For the past mile, I had discerned the slapping of feet behind me.  A fellow traveller, no doubt.  So I slowed to let the trailing runner catch up.  In about a hundred yards, I found myself running next to a guy who was slightly taller, and a few years older than me.  I asked how to get to the walkway or bikeway for the bridge.  He replied in a distinct Australian accent, "Mate, I was following you, hoping you'd know."

After a couple of quick stops to inquire about the route from people we encountered, we found our way.  We ran up a second solid hill, some steps, and a couple of switchbacks, made our way through an absolute maze of Asian tourists, and found ourselves on the bridge.

Ross (the Aussie) and I had decided to run together.  As we crossed the 1.5 mile (roughly) span, he asked me about the scenery - Alcatraz, Sausalito, Marin, etc - and he told me about the 7 week vacation he was on with his family; two weeks in Cuba, some time in Mexico, SF, LA, Yosemite, Sequoia, and more.  I got to ask a lot of questions about Cuba, in particular.

We stopped once on the bridge, and once on the Marin side to take pictures - I posted a couple on FB and Twitter.  On the way back I also got a picture of a container ship passing under us on the bridge.  Pretty cool.  We stopped one more time on the way back to the wharf.  He hadn't seen the Palace of Fine Arts - the architecture left over from the World's Fair.  We did a quick once over, and then proceeded back through the Green, over the Fort Mason hill, past the Aquatic Park, and that is where we separated.

I don't really have a pithy way to conclude this post.  I got to do something that I've wanted to do for some years.  I had one of those encounters/interactions you can only have while running.  I got to see the Bay Area on one of the clearest days I had ever experienced from vantage points that were new to me.  Perhaps Ross had summed up what we were doing best.  About 5.5 mi into the 12 mile run, he mentioned that, as a runner, he always was looking for places to run when he travelled. For this trip to the US, the Golden Gate Bridge run was the run that he would classify as 'epic.' I couldn't agree more.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Solo Trails in the Snow

After a week of light running as a result of the flu, I had planned to come back with Coleen's Frozen Ass Run on Saturday night.  But late in the week, I still had a bit of a cough, and was still feeling a little tired in the mornings.  I decided not to push the issue.  If I were to show up at the event, I was pretty certain I'd overdo it.  So, for the fist time in four events, I blew off one of my two favorite runs of the year (the other being Coleen's Sweaty Ass Run in the Summer).

I fell back to the 8.75 mi River Trail loop.  I knocked it out both Saturday and Sunday mornings and felt fine.   I felt so good, in fact, that I questioned my decision to pass on Coleen's.  But in the early afternoon on Sunday, a weariness (that I don't normally feel after a run) set in.  I had to take a nap to get it together.  So, maybe I did the right thing after all.

The runs were both glorious, with ice and snow making the run slightly more challenging.  I also pretty much had the trail to myself both days.  Deer made their presence known on a couple of occasions, but otherwise I only saw a couple of cyclists and one other runner.  Just the type of running I like best.  So, if I did have to give up my favorite group run, at least I replaced it with top-notch solo runs that I prefer.