Monday, February 27, 2006

Cold Weekend

Friday was a rest day, so I did an ab workout and about 20 minutes of rowing. Nothing much.

Saturday was scheduled to be a recovery/easy run. As it was starting to snow, I headed out to Fresh Pond. It was a bit cold, but apart from getting snowflakes in my eyes (forgot my sunglasses), it was quite a nice run. Fresh Pond was frozen over in places and so the snow-covered ice contrasted with the water. It was a nice easy-paced 4 mile run. I should have written a haiku after that run.

Sunday was absolutely frigid! OK, it just felt that way to me. I went out for my medium-long run around 8:00 a.m. and it was about 15F with a wind chill of 0F (wind gusts dropped the wind chill to -4F). I was OK for the first 6 miles, but I knew I was going to pay big time. I could feel the wind at my back all the way out along the Charles River to the Science Museum. Just after the Longfellow Bridge, I passed a large group of runners going the opposite direction (against the wind). They looked miserable. Once I turned back and headed West on the Boston side of the river, I felt their pain. I really could have used a full face mask/hood. (I have one, I just didn't think it was quite that cold. It was.) I was wearing a shirt with sleeves that pull over your hands, and I was wearing gloves underneath the sleeves. But after 6 or 7 miles, the sweat from my hands, wicked away by the gloves, froze on the sleeves. Yeah, the ends of my shirt sleeves were frozen solid. I kept trying to pull my shirt collar up around my face (it wouldn't stay). Also, as it had snowed several inches the day/night before, I was wearing my Yak-traks. So there was additional effort in trudging through snow. I was quite tired after 14 miles and when I finally got home I discovered a rather large sweat icicle hanging from my hair, and my cap was frozen to my hair! That was a new one.

The miserable run did not provide one of those zen moments, so no haiku today. But I did complete the entire week's scheduled workouts -- 40 miles total.

Monday was a rest day. Again, I did an ab workout and rowed for about 20 minutes. Tomorrow should be a little bit warmer, and I'll be back out on the roads.


Thursday, February 23, 2006

A Warm Day and then Back to Normal

in the stillness
of the bare woods
- a woodpecker raps

After last Sunday's run I was in need of a rest day. So after finishing up some touch-up painting at the house, I spent half the day traveling back to Boston. And now I have one more airline to add to the list of carriers I will not patronize anymore. U.S. Airways got me into Kansas City 45 minutes late last Friday. We left Kansas City over an hour late on Monday. In Philadelphia I had to run from my gate in the F concourse to catch a shuttle bus to the B concourse to get my connection to Boston. Of course my luggage did not make the connection. I indicated I wanted them to deliver the bag the next morning. They called at midnight to tell me they were leaving it on my front porch that night. Brilliant.

Tuesday was a "Lactacte Threshold" run (LT). 8 miles total, with 4 miles in the middle at about an 8:30 per mile pace. I was whipped after that one. But the weather was absolutely beautiful. I wore shorts and a T-shirt for that run.

Wednesday the weather was chilly again and it was back to the long sleeve tech. shirt. As the majority of our recent snow has melted, I took the opportunity to run my easy "recovery" run on the trails by work. It's been a while since I've run them and it felt great to be out there. As soon as I stepped into the woods there, everything just sort of went still and quiet. The stillness was broken by a woodpecker above my head rapping on a maple. Very nice run. Very easy.

Today (Thursday) was a bit longer medium run. 10 miles out to Concord (and beyond) and then back. Judging by the locker room clock, pace was about 9:30 (I forgot my watch).

ice encasing trees
slowly melts
... and cracks

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Cold Spell Finally Breaking So I Ran 12

powdery snow
dusts the footbridge
spanning the frozen stream

OK, I know it's really, really cold further north in Chicago, or Minneapolis, or any number of other places north of my present location. But it has been freaking cold in Kansas City! I flew in on Friday to do some work on the house. Friday night the low was 3F. Wind chill was like -10 or so. And I gotta get up in the morning and replace a garage door opener?! Yeah, fun.

And about that running? Well, Friday was a day off after Thursday's 10-miler (a rest day). Saturday was scheduled to be a recovery run -- an easy 4-miler. Well, I decided that since I put in an extra 4-mile run at the beginning of the week (to make up for missing last Sunday's run due to the Blizzard), I might be able to miss Saturday's run. The high was supposed to be about 15F.

So I got the garage door opener replaced; an operation that would have been done in half the time had the temperature been warmer. Once that was complete, Kai and I went out to catch the remainder of the Kansas Univ. trouncing of Mizzou. One large beer, a few wings and a burger later, there was no way I was going to do that 4 mile run anyway. Besides, the forecast called for a bit of warming on Sunday. Mid-20's!

And so, this afternoon, I finally got a good medium long run in. I ran on my old course from the house out onto the trail system. 12 miles. At a pretty good pace. I did the first 6 miles out in exactly 54 minutes; 9 minutes on every mile. As I turned around, I decided I would just take it easy and not worry about maintaining the pace. But when miles 7, 8 and 9 also came in right at 9 minutes each, I knew I was going to have to maintain the pace to the end. Mile 10 has a nasty hill so I knew I would slow a bit, but mile 11 has a long gentle downhill so I knew I would also more than make it up. I did just that. About 15 seconds over pace on mile 10 (9:15), and 45 seconds under pace for mile 11 (8:15). The last mile has another crappy hill in the first half, but it's smooth going after that. I pushed it a bit up the hill and was running just over my 9 minute pace at the halfway point. The last half mile, I just cranked it up to about an 8 minute pace. Finished in 1:47:13 -- 48 seconds faster on the return trip. It was a great run (despite the cold).

And speaking of cold... I don't recall ever having icicles form in my hair. I've been growing my hair out a bit, and when I finished, there were several icicles hanging off the back of my hair (frozen sweat!). Weird, in a cool sort of way. Anyway, I leave you with a second haiku inspired by today's run:

the dark stream
flows in silence
beneath the ice

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Amazing Weather

patchwork snow melts
into the pond and still

Weather today was unbelievable. Four days after a blizzard and temperature is in the 50's! Didn't have to worry about snow and ice -- it was the huge puddles of snowmelt in the streets. Ran at lunchtime in shorts and a T-shirt. Today's run was from work out to the Concord town center and then further west of town, then doubled back. I can't believe I missed a turn near the end (close to work). It added about a quarter mile to my run. Total distance was a little over 10 miles, all at a pretty good clip.

Tomorrow morning I fly out to Kansas City. I need to replace the garage door opener in the house (that still hasn't sold), as well as perform a few maintenance items. Looks like it's kinda cold out there this week, but I still plan to get out for an easy run on Saturday and a medium-long run on Sunday. Any KC-area runners interested in joining me (Overland Park/Johnson County area)? Just e-mail me.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Weekend in NYC (Part 2)

I didn't mean to keep everyone in suspense, I've just been very busy the last two days. So what happened?

We woke up Sunday morning to way more snow than we thought we'd get. Yes, it was a blizzard. And I began to realize that I was probably not going to get to run in Central Park. Later in the morning, they reported that Central Park already had almost 2 feet of snow. Snowshoes would have been appropriate. Yak-traks on my running shoes really weren't going to cut it.

I really hate missing a long run - under circumstances I cannot control - on the first week of a training plan. But, one learns to deal with these kinds of things. And I've got plenty of time before the next marathon.

Once the snow let up, we decided to go back into the city. Here's what we found outside Anja's apartment:

Anyone up for a ride?

No, I didn't think so.

So we took the very-crowded-for-a-Sunday subway to Union Center (Square?). There were actually quite a few people out and about. We mostly just walked around, stopped for coffee, and made a stop at the Whole Foods market.

By the time the storm had passed, it had dumped 27 inches of snow on the city. Biggest snowfall in something like a century. So now the HUGE question was - are we going to be able to get back to Boston tonight? ('cause we really didn't want to spend another night there) After checking traffic reports along the route through Connecticut and into Boston, it appeared the highways were getting cleared pretty quickly. We left the city around 8:00 pm. The highways were probably the worst right around the city, and they got better as we approached Boston. We did have to keep the speed down, and it took us about 5 hours. We got home around 1 am. Now, we really appreciate the service our landlords provide. They pay for snow removal. We got home and the driveway had already been plowed - the only one on the street. Sweet.

Anyway, since I missed my medium-long run on Sunday, and didn't really want to screw up my schedule too much for this week, I decided to just run easy on Monday (originally schedule for a rest day). I did 4 miles on the treadmill.

Yesterday (Tuesday) was a harder workout, and fortunately the streets are all pretty clear of snow and ice. I ran from work out to Concord (town center) and back, then did 10 X 100m strideouts near the airport. Total of 9 miles. Sorry, no haiku.

Today will be a recovery/cross-training day.


Monday, February 13, 2006

Weekend in NYC (Part 1)

On Saturday, we drove down to New York to take some furniture to Anja's new loft. This was my first time ever in the Big Apple.

Not a bad drive from Boston. Anja has just moved into a loft in Brooklyn (Williamsburg area). She says this neighborhood she's in is the new artists' hangout (since wherever they were before got too expensive I guess). So this bombed out looking warehouse is just chock full of studios and lofts. And a few musicians, including a terrible drummer who must practice until after midnight. And a whole lot of college-age kids. So basically, the place is like a college dorm -- without the supervision. Let's just say we didn't get a lot of sleep on Saturday night.

Anyway, after Friday's cross-training, Saturday was supposed to be another "recovery" day -- just an easy 4 mile run. So my plan was to do the easy run as soon as we got to Brooklyn. Then, since the weather forecast was calling for some potentially heavy snow that night and the next morning, I figured I'd wait for the snow to basically stop on Sunday, then go run in Central Park (I brought my yak-traks). You can see where this is headed.

My Saturday easy run was actually quite nice. The weather was breezy and brisk, but I was still able to run in shorts and my windbreaker and hat. Quite a different environment from my recent runs. This was all up and down streets and sidewalks in Brooklyn. It was an interesting experience. I only ended up doing 3 miles, but the sights, and sounds, and smells really enhanced the run. So here are two haiku inspired by moments along my run.

weathered hands push
the squeaking cart
...and red tulips

sidewalk market
oranges glisten
"hola hermanos"

Saturday evening we did the NYC main tourist attraction:

And then it started snowing. Not too hard at first. And through most of the night, and the drumming downstairs, and the party upstairs, and occasional wafts of cigarette (and other) smoke, and the cold drafts from the expansive windows, it snowed. And snowed.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The North Bridge

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled;
Here once the embattled farmers stood;
And fired the shot heard round the world.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today's 9 mile American History run took me out past the Sleepy Hollow Cemetary (where I spent a few minutes the other day) to the "North Bridge" (North of the Concord town center) and the "Old Manse". I crossed over the (reconstructed) bridge to the spot where the Concord farmers took their stand against the advancing British army. After a few moments reflection I returned back over the bridge to where a portion of the British army had advanced. It was from this area that the militiamen turned back the British (who had advanced from Lexington where the literal "first shot" was fired earlier in the day). Collectively the Battles of Lexington and Concord are considered the first battles of the Revolutionary War. To the Southeast stands the "Old Manse" where William (?) Emerson, grandfather of Ralph Waldo Emerson, lived and allegedly witnessed the event. Ralph Waldo Emerson is said to have penned the Concord Hymn (for the dedication of the monument) at the "Old Manse".

It was a little under 4 1/2 miles to the bridge, so I added another loop up the road to make sure I hit 9 miles total by the time I got back to work. Temperature was in the mid 20's, but fortunately very little breeze. It was another lovely run, and here's another haiku inspired by a meadow nearby my work.

cattails held still
in a yellow ochre meadow
...glints of sunlight

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

An Easy Day

Today was a rest/cross-training day. Did an ab workout and some cycling. Soreness from yesterday's run is about gone. Tomorrow will be 9 miles (long lunch!). So for now, recollecting a moment from yesterday's run, here's another haiku...

barren trees
shade weathered stones
cold wind carries leaves

Return to Sleepy Hollow

Yesterday's workout was 7 miles followed by 10 X 100m strideouts. It was a bit chilly. I ran out to the Sleepy Hollow cemetary again. This time, going a little further, I ran up "Author's Ridge" and found the markers for the Alcotts (the whole family) as well as Emerson and clan. Very peaceful place. Next time through I'll try to find Hawthorne and Thoreau. On my way back I did notice a small marker on the side of the road - "Birth site of Henry David Thoreau", his maternal grandmother's home site. I did the strideouts on a flat (slightly downhill) stretch of road at the end of the Hanscomb airport runway. When I finished (a total of 8+ miles with the strideouts and return jogs) I had to run up the last hill to my work facility. I was whipped.

Now today there is still some soreness in my legs, so the planned cross-training day will be another welcome relief. Tomorrow is 9 miles. I've got another historical point of interest in mind for my destination, but more about that tomorrow...


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Sunday's 10 Miler and a haiku

Did I mention that I ran 10 miles on Sunday? And not at a particularly easy pace? It was a 9.2 mile loop around the Charles River and then just under a mile back home. Covered it in about an hour and a half. Close to 9:00 pace.

I spent the first 7 miles trying to be open to that "universal connection", that "moment of awareness". You can be open to it, but you can't make those things happen. The Cambridge side had so many people out walking and running and biking that I was just constantly distracted. Then on the Boston side the traffic seemed to be just excessive. By 7 miles at my slightly up-tempo pace, I was getting tired. It was freaking windy. I was starting to feel some chafing (That did not have a happy ending.). But then as I rounded a bend in the river I was presented with the most unbelievably beautiful scene. The sun was setting straight in front of my path, over the river, and reflecting sunlight all the way down the river from the farthest edge I could see, right up to the bank just ahead of my path. Stunning.

So another haiku...

slanting sun
river reflecting gold
a thrush drinks

Fresh Pond Dogs Haiku (The Missing Post)

I don't know what happened with blogger. I had this post up, a couple people tried to add comments, now it's gone. So here it is again.

Saturday morning I went out for an easy 3-mile "recovery" run. It was a little chilly. Ran over to "Fresh Pond" where everybody in the area walks their dogs. The sun was shining and a mist was rising up from the water. The dogs were all doing their things. So here is a haiku for the Fresh Pond Dogs.

sun warms mist rising
sniffing and wagging
laughing dogs play sacred games

Now of course I've already revised the haiku. The one above follows the basic form, but is too wordy and the last line is too much my interpretation of the moment. So here is the revised version.

sun warms mist rising
wagging dogs sniff musty leaves

Monday, February 06, 2006

Strange Blogger Behavior

No not me,

For some reason people are not able to leave comments on my most recent post. And what's stranger is that the post no longer seems to exist!? Blogger deleted my haiku?!

I'll repost it when I get home this evening (and another haiku in the works).


I started my next training cycle that will culminate in the North Olympic Discovery Marathon next June. And day one of the first week starts off with...

Rest/Recovery Day!

Yeah! This is good because I was TIRED today. Pretty much a result of Sunday's hard 10-miler. I went out in the afternoon and did a 9.2-mile loop around the Charles, then it was just under a mile back to the house. Ten miles total, probably just under a 9:00/mile pace. I just felt like pushing it a bit the whole way. Today my hamstrings were SORE. But an ab workout and some cycling did wonders for them.

Tomorrow? Schedule calls for 9 miles with 10 X 100m strides. Oh boy.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Right-brain Leading...

Soft pad, pad, pad, pad,
down the hill and past the airfield.

A cluster of birds in a clump of tall grass, unseen,
"weet, weet, weet, weet"
wind rustling dead leaves clinging to the pin oak
now drowned out by the whine
the whine of a jet engine
constant whine - parked on the tarmac
whine fading climbing the next hill

"Tish, tish, tish, tish" traipsing over sand-covered asphalt
sand collected on the side of the road
elongated patches formed by the melting snow
thick pads of snow drooping over rocks

Blankets of snow interrupted by bright glowing orange flags
bursting out of the ground
makeshift markers of grand plans

As hills yield to flats a solitary bird calls in the distance
"ee-yoo, ee-yoo"

Wheels on asphalt,
motors whine past,
petrol smell of paint permeates the air -
but only briefly

Stately colonial homes
some long standing, some new
bright light blue, or yellow, or deep green
splashes against the dull browns and grays of the bare woods.

And as the flats yield to more hills
breathing, up, down, breathing, up, down, breathing,
suddenly arrested by the intense quiet of the cemetary

Sleepy Hollow cemetary

Yes, that Sleepy Hollow cemetary
where slumber giants,
Concord philosophers,
Hawthorne, Alcott, Emerson,


Time advances

Folding back over hills
quicker pace, sand and puddles
"tish, tish, squich, tish"
cars whoosh, whoosh

The bird still calling
"ee-yoo, ee-yoo, ee-yoo, ee-yoo"

Hills become flats and flats hills again,
faster, breathing, up, down, faster, breathing
wind rushes through the trees
past the airfield and a plane droning overhead
and up the final hill
breathing, breathing, up, up

Walking, mind clear, walking
stretching hamstrings under a pine tree
quiet, no, be quiet
the pines whisper

[Left-brain wants everyone to know we ran 6-plus miles.]