Monday, December 31, 2007

Closing Out 2007

Vanilla, who writes the Half-Fast blog, wrote his "Requisite Year in Review" on Thursday. I decided to wait until I had done my last run of 2007 to give a summary. Last year, I posted my summary in case someone was interested but it turned out to be for my benefit. I had kept my running log on my Palm but it decided to die early in 2007 and I had not synched it to my computer recently so I lost a month or so of records. The summary "saved my bacon", so to speak because I was able to piece together the information that I needed.

So, this year's summary is as much for my benefit as for the interest of anyone else :)

Number of runs: 236

WARM-UP WALKING AND RUNNING:
Distance: 1488.99 miles
Average distance: 6.31
Total time (hh:mm:ss): 206:30:30.89
Average MPM (mm:ss): 8:19.28

RUNNING ONLY:
Distance: 1441.62204 miles
Average distance: 6.11
Total time (hh:mm:ss): 193:54:55.89
Average MPM (mm:ss): 8:04.24

Shoes: 1 pair Brooks Adrenaline GTS7, 3 pair Etonics Jepara SC (current)
States: VA, NC, SC, GA, TN, CA
Countries: South Africa, Kenya
Longest Run: 13.1 miles, Richmond, VA Maymont X-Terra Half Marathon
Fastest Run: Richmond, VA, 7-Mar-07, 4.52 miles@7:33.35 mpm
Fastest Mile: Richmond, VA 18-Jul-07. 1.04 miles@6:45 mpm
Favourite Run: Maymont X-Terra Half Marathon, 13.1 miles@8:17.54 mpm (1:49:12)
Most Exotic Run: Tigoni, Kenya -- Kenya highlands
Most Fun Run: Christmas Lights Run, 5.3 miles
Worst/Hardest Run: Maymont X-Terra Half Marathon -- very hard course

Most difficult lesson of 2007: Learning that slowing down on the majority of my training runs is a good thing. My training plan for the half marathon had me doing my long runs at 8:32-9:03 mpm. I was concerned that this would train my mind/body to run more slowly. But, my track repeats and tempo runs showed me that I could still run faster (individual miles @ 6:45-7:30 mpm) and the 3rd mile of the half marathon was @7:06 (too fast for the race).

Happy New Year to all of you!

Run well, y'all,
Bob Allen
Richmond, VA

Just a Spoonful of Sugar...

...to cop a line from Mary Poppins. The sugar was the motivation for the kids to take their medicine.



Some of us need some kind of motivation to get out the door to run during this time of year. Or, some (like me) tend to make optimistic New Year's resolutions about running or exercising in general and then have trouble following through. Amy's post in the Runner's Lounge might be just the thing you need:
Natural Law: Overcoming Inertia


The video is pretty incredible. I wouldn't recommend a 50-mile ultra-marathon for 13 year olds, but I'm impressed.

There's also a post on Diet Blog that provides tips for pushing on.

Run well, y'all,
Bob
Richmond, VA

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Running From ...

We got home last night from our Christmas travels. Having been in the van for 7+ hours, I decided to get in a night run. That served three purposes -- stretching my legs, getting a Saturday run in, and seeing the Christmas lights in our neighbourhood. I had wanted to see the lights on foot, but since I normally run in the early morning, most folks hadn't had them on. The run was really nice (6.3 miles @ 7:59 mpm) and there were a fair number of homes that were lit up.

What I didn't know, until watching the news this morning, was what had been going on along my running route during the day on Saturday. There was an apparently rabid fox that had attacked 4 people before being killed. The report from one of the local TV stations is here. It attacked at at least 3 different spots along or very close to my route. The final person attacked was one of the police officers who had responded to try to capture or kill the fox -- it ran up his pants leg before being shot. And, yes, the officer got the fox off his leg before it was shot! :)

Hmmmm. Maybe that's why I didn't see anybody else running last night. I had no idea that I was running from a fox!

Run well, y'all (and keep your eyes open),
Bob
Richmond, VA

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Advent Prayer

Though we haven't been able to do it consistently, Linda (my wife) and I have used an Advent wreath and Advent devotions as we've prepared for Christmas this year. This has been our tradition for 25+ years. Each week has had a separate theme -- Hope, Joy, Peace, and Love. Sunday, as I sat in the worship service celebrating the birth of Christ, I was struck with the thought that the themes of Advent speak to the people of Africa, the people we have served for the the past 21 1/2 years. Christ is:

HOPE for those without hope -- like those dying of AIDS who have no hope in this life and those who live in fear of life after death because they have no sure hope except to hope that their good deeds outweigh their bad deeds.

JOY for those who have nothing material that can give them joy -- I have had 21 years of amazement at how joyful poverty-stricken African believers can be.

PEACE for those who have endured civil war and who continue to try to carry on normal life in the midst of rebel activity.

LOVE for those who have no person who shows them love -- those like AIDS orphans and street kids.

We have had the awesome privilege to be ambassadors of the one who is all of these things for Africans, Jesus the Christ ...

... the hope of glory.
... for whose birth the angels rejoiced.
... who is the Prince of Peace
... who is love.

Those same themes apply to each of us, though most who read this blog have very different circumstances. Still, many live without hope or joy or peace or love. Christ provides all of those -- He reaches out to each one of us in our need; He knows our needs and cares about them.

As you wake up to Christmas Day today, it's my prayer that you will experience in your life the Christ for whom this day is named. I hope that you will realize the grace of Christ in your own live today as He is hope, joy, peace and love for you.

As these thoughts went through my mind in the service on Sunday, we sang the Christmas carol, Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus:

Come, though long-expected Jesus,
Born to set Thy people free.
From our fears and sins release us,
Let us find our rest in Thee.
Israel's strength and consolation,
Hope of all the earth Thou art.
Dear Desire of every nation;
Joy of every longing heart.

That is my prayer for you this Christmas Day. Merry Christmas!

Run well, y'all,
Bob

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Another 100 Miles Traveled

This morning, I passed 1400 miles for the year. Finished today's run at 1402.58. The 1300 mark took me 17 days (23-Nov-07); this 100 miles took 26 days -- just an interesting (to me) observation.

Today I didn't have a particular time to be "at work" so I got in my longish run of the week -- 8.5 miles. I had intended to run about 8:15-8:30 mpm but didn't keep close tabs on the mile splits. I was surprised to see a 7:57 mpm average when I ran the numbers. OK, I messed up running the numbers. Still wasn't a bad run and was still faster than I had planned but it was 8:01 mpm average.

Next week could be a rough week for running. Not just Christmas Day and all the food but we're traveling to see family in Georgia (Hartwell) and South Carolina (Greenville). I've not run in Hartwell so don't know what I'm up against. Anybody reading this who will be in those areas and wants to run together? Let me know.

Run well, y'all,
Bob
Richmond, VA

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas Lights Run #2


Tonight's Christmas Lights run was really nice. Because I wanted to try to take some pictures, I decided to run in the middle pack, figuring I could slow down to take some pictures and then catch back up. Slowing down and catching up worked but the picture taking was pretty much a bust as you can see from the picture on the right.



We started and ended at Runner Bill Sports.
The lights were pretty -- you can get a general idea from the pictures.



Brooks Running donated some running stuff and my name was drawn for a shirt -- a Brooks Nightlife Podium Half-zip. That was pretty nice.

The first 3 miles were pretty leisurely but I picked it up for the last 2 -- we were past the lights and just heading "home". Ended up passing the lead group and finishing the 5.3 miles in 46:17.

This Christmas, reduce your carbon footprint by replacing a Christmas lights drive with a run. You'll enjoy it and be earth-friendly at the same time.

Run well, y'all,
Bob
Richmond, VA

Monday, December 10, 2007

Results Are In!

The results from the 1st 8 on the 8th virtual run are in and I'm officially a Breakneck Brother!. The race director tells me I'm entitled to use that title wherever I want.

Next on my calendar is my second Christmas Lights Run of 2007 -- tomorrow night (Tuesday) starting at Runner Bill Sports in Midlothian. 5.3 miles of fun.

Run well, y'all,
Bob

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Slip Slidin' Away

(With apologies to Paul Simon). This is in honor of the blogging runners who ran the 8 on the 8th race in the snow, ice, and freezing rain -- that group includes the following and probably some others who haven't posted their results, yet:

Joe
Nat
Amy at Runners' Lounge
Amy (in Belgium)
Nic (NWGDC)


When I saw this, I thought of you all:



Run (or slide) well, y'all,
Bob

Saturday, December 8, 2007

8 on the 8th Virtual Race Results

Non-Runner Nancy pulled together a virtual race for this weekend, 8 on the 8th. The weather in Richmond was perfect. I headed out at 8 am with an overcast sky, 43°, and 75% humidity -- it was about 46° when I finished.

My goal pace for the race was 7:45-8:00 mpm but I ended up doing 7:42.64 mpm. I ran in Short Pump. Here are my splits

1st mile - 8:06.13
2nd mile - 7:38.13
3rd mile - 8:16.14
4th mile - 7:53.65
5th mile - 7:45.43
6th mile - 7:10.85 (not quite sure how in the world I did this)
7th mile - 7:33.58
8th mile - 7:17
Last 0.2 - 1:34.6
TOTAL
8.202 miles - 1:03:15.48

I'm looking forward to seeing how everybody else did.

Here's hoping everybody else has a good run.

Run well, y'all,
Bob

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Christmas Lights Run #1

One of the local running stores, Runner Bill Sports, sponsors a Christmas Lights run -- about 5.3 miles through the surrounding neighbourhoods to see the lights. It's a cool twist on riding around to look at Christmas decorations. It's nice to run with a group of people in a new place (for me). Tonight was the 2nd time I've done this run. I'm planning to do this run again on Tuesday (11 December) -- I may try to take a camera and post a few pictures. If any readers are in Richmond, join me at Runner Bill Sports.

By the way, I'm running a virtual 8-mile race on Saturday: 8 on the 8th. This was non-runner Nancy's idea and is a great way to build a virtual community. Check the race forum for details -- no cost, just fun; no set start time, so you can sleep late; and if you can't run on the 8th, run on the 7th or the 9th.

Run well, y'all,
Bob

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Another Round Number

5,000 is a nice, round number. And, when it represents miles run, it's a BIG number! Today, I passed 5,000 miles since getting serious about running almost 4.5 years ago (July 2003) -- I'm at 5,002.9.

Run well, y'all,
Bob

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Goal Bites the Dust

It only took me 17 days to complete the last 100 miles of my mileage goal for 2007. Something tells me I set my goal too low but, then, at the beginning of the year I didn't realize what kind of miles I would put in training for the half marathon.



Running in the afternoon/evening is not my favourite thing to do but Black Friday interfered with a morning run. (Yes, I did get some good deals -- a 500 gb drive for $85, a couple of 4 gb USB drives for $19.) On the other hand, though I cannot for the life of me figure out how I could possibly have run a 7:00 6th mile, my splits were pretty good:

Mile 1 -- 8:45
Mile 2 -- 8:15
Mile 3 -- 8:00
Mile 4 -- 8:15
Mile 5 -- 7:30
Mile 6 -- 7:00
Last 0.3 -- 2:16

Good way to fight off the cheesecake and pumpkin pie and dressing. :-; (Mmmmmm!)

Run well, y'all,
Bob

Fall Run in Richmond

I took some shots of a route (8.47 miles) that I occasionally run near our house. Unfortunately, the colours in the shots aren't bad but the leaves were much more beautiful in "real life". (DISCLAIMER: I accept no responsibility for the "related videos" that YouTube may link to in the frame below. As of right now, there's nothing offensive linked but I'm not sure how YouTube makes the relations.)



Run well, y'all,
Bob

Thursday, November 22, 2007

A Personal Turkey Trot

Headed out for my own, personal Turkey Trot this morning. Ran 6.2 miles in 51:24 -- set no records but came in first among all those who ran this Turkey Trot. Of course, I also came in dead last! :-)

On this day, I have a whole passle of things for which to be thankful:

** God's love for me and all people and His offer of salvation to all (1 John 4:19, 1 Timothy 2:4).
** A wonderful, beautiful wife who loves me in spite of my "warts".
** Two adult children who continue to make me proud.
** Parents who reared me right and continue to be active.
** A job that makes a difference in the world.
** Good friends, both those I know personally and those I know only virtually (online).
** Good health.
** The ability to run.

Run well and enjoy the turkey,
Bob

Friday, November 16, 2007

Does Anybody Really Care About Blogging?

There's no doubt that blogging has changed the way many of us look at information, both our choices of sources of information and the empowerment (or perception of empowerment) of the common person to have a voice in sharing information. Ben Arment has written an interesting article on the real influence of bloggers, The Unlikely Prophets of Blogging. Many of those in my generation (I'm 53 and I'll let you decide where the young end of my generation is) downplay the impact of blogging. Often, I think we tend to do that because (1) blogging is not the way we interact with the world, (2) it's unruly, somewhat chaotic, and doesn't follow the "rules" of traditional information sources, and (3) if we acknowledge that blogging does have influence then we also have to either acknowledge that our own positions of influence/power are threatened or we have to change our ways.

I've also just finished reading The Starfish and the Spider by Ori Brafman and Rod A. Beckstrom. The same danger exists in how we view the shift toward decentralized organizations. The 7th chapter in the book really caught my attention as the authors dealt with hybrid organizations. Not every organization can or should make the switch to a fully leaderless model. I think that's the situation with the International Mission Board, the organization where I work. But, I think we could benefit in many ways by moving toward a hybrid organization. That's uncomfortable for a lot of folks, myself included. Some would accuse us of protecting our power but I think (hope) it has more to do with how seriously we take our mission. Still, uncomfortable or not, I think we would be more effective and would become more relevant to the emerging leadership and followership of our denomination if we decentralize wherever we can. Of course, part of the difficulty of making those changes is that we are the largest arm of our denomination and the denomination is a centralized organization.

What do those two things have to do with each other -- the impact of blogging and decentralizing the IMB? In a word, change: change in how our constituency is influenced and change in how we do our work. Change is hard.

Running: I've run 72+ miles in the last 12 days -- probably a high for me. Today's run was hard but good. I haven't run a tempo run since the Maymont Half-Marathon at the end of September but I don't want to lose my fitness level. So, I only had time for about 5 miles today and was planning to run the route on which I had been doing tempo runs, so I thought, "Why not?" Not bad -- mile splits were:

Mile 1: 9:00
Mile 2: 7:35
Mile 3: 7:30
Mile 4: 7:35
Mile 5: 8:25
Last 1/4: 1:41

I'll take it!

Run well, y'all,
Bob

Sunday, November 11, 2007

For the Beauty of the Earth

(Click the title to go to the Midi file of the hymn, For the Beauty of the Earth. I haven't figured out how to embed the file so it shows and plays directly from here.)

I had planned for today to be a day off of running. I had run 5 days straight and a 9.7 mile run on Saturday. But, driving to church this morning, the leaves were so beautiful that I wanted to run. That's the great thing about this time of year. I'm so hot natured that in July, if I don't run in the early morning, I just can't run later in the day. But in November, when the high is predicted to be 52°, I can run in the afternoon.

After church, our daughter and I went to lunch to kill our fajita craving (Casa Grande in Short Pump ain't bad). I had to leave at 5:30 to help with the African worship service at our orientation center. So, I knew I had to start my run between 3:00 and 3:30 -- 1 hour+ run, 15 minutes stretch, shower, supper, and leave.

My fajitas complained a little bit in the beginning, but I just took it slowly and was fine. It actually wasn't as slow as I thought but that was OK. Oh, the leaves are great! They're just a little beyond their peak -- maybe a week -- but the sun was shining, the air was crisp, there was a slight breeze, and there was lots of colour. I tell you, this just cannot have happened by accident. God created this -- Genesis 1:11-13.



Another comment on Unity versus Conformity: our pastor is preaching a sermon on our church's motto: Gayton Baptist Church...A Place to Belong...Believe...Become! Today was the second sermon on Believe and he touched on the concept of unity versus uniformity. In the sermon, he reminded me of a quote that applies to my thinking

We would be in the best shape if we kept in essentials, Unity; in non-essentials, Liberty; and in both Charity (Charity meaning, in modern usage, Love or Mutual Respect). This is often attributed to Augustine but is more likely attributable to Peter Meiderlin from a book he wrote in Latin in the mid-1620's, A Prayerful Admonition for Peace to the Theologians of the Augsburg Confession. While he was talking about doctrine, the philosophy applies in a lot of areas of life. (See the online article, "IN ESSENTIALS UNITY": THE PRE-HISTORY AND HISTORY OF A RESTORATION MOVEMENT SLOGAN

Run well, y'all,
Bob

Friday, November 9, 2007

Running the Race Well

Last weekend, Ryan Hall ran the fastest ever US Olympic Trails marathon. The New York Road Runners web site has a good article on the trials: The Next Generation of Champions.

However, road races are not the only races that Ryan runs. He has his eyes fixed on the only meaningful finish line there is, Jesus (reference Hebrews 12:1-2). David Haywood, over at Running the Race, posted a video of Ryan. It's an inspiring run but also the faith story of a young man committed to following Christ. Enjoy. If, after watching the video, you want to talk about how you, too, can commit your life like this, contact me by leaving a comment or check out this site, Unconditional Love.



If you'd rather watch the video at the original web site, click here.

Run well, y'all, on the road and in life,
Bob

Unity vs. Conformity

Heat wave today: 37° (compared to 27° yesterday). I decided to push my run a bit this morning -- I haven't done a tempo run since the half marathon about 6 weeks ago. Not bad but I could tell that (1) it had been a while since the last tempo run and (2) I'm still not back to full strength after my cold. Here are my splits (if you're interested -- well, OK, here they are whether you're interested or not :) ):

1.0 X 8:30
1.0 X 7:24
1.0 X 7:26
1.0 X 7:49
0.5 X 4:41

The thing that's been on my mind a lot the last couple of days is the idea of unity versus conformity. What triggered my thinking was the IMB trustee action to censure one of the trustees, Wade Burleson. This whole thing is so complicated and I don't want to spend the time necessary to unpack it all here. Let me summarize my thoughts:

1. While I disagree with the trustees in their decisions on private prayer language (I neither practice nor advocate a ppl) and baptism (I strongly believe that baptism by immersion is the biblical approach; I just as strongly believe that the purpose of baptism is to demonstrate union with Christ and obedience to Him and not, at least primarily, to identify with a particular doctrinal position or church/denomination -- remember, this is not a full discussion of this), I will gladly submit to those decisions.

2. Disagreement and critique are not necessarily the same thing as disunity or slander. I think there have been some things said in all of the discussion on this over the last 2 years that have been inappropriate and beyond the bounds of good manners. But, bad manners is not necessarily slander.

3. The public stating of one's disagreement with and one's criticism of decisions are not disloyalty.

The big question that I'm wrestling with is, "At what point does non-conformity and disagreement become disunity?" And I don't know. I personally think that, even though some of the discussions on IMB trustee actions have been distasteful and inappropriate, overall it's been healthy. I don't think it's harmed the cause of missions within Southern Baptist life -- our annual missions offering reached an all tiem high last year in the midst of all the blogging and discussions; appointments seem to be up. But I do think that's the fundamental issue for us -- how closely must our thoughts, beliefs, words, blogs, discussions, etc. conform to everybody else?

OK, that's all pretty random and disconnected. I know the issue is broader than just the IMB trustees and I think it broader than just the inner wranglings of one Christian organization. So, I'll just keep on running and pondering.

Run well, y'all,
Bob

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

On the Road Again -- Ahhh

I like round numbers so today was a good day -- I completed 1200 miles for the year!



After a cold and worst sore throat of my life last week, it was great to be out today. The weather could hardly have been more perfect -- 54° and 59% humidity. Nice and easy; ran a bit more than planned. Tomorrow will be cold -- the weatherman is predicting 33° at 5 AM.

I spent much of the time thinking about and praying for one our overseas units -- I had dreamt about them all night, too. If you're a follower of Christ, I would appreciate your lifting this unnamed family up to the Father.

Run well, y'all,
Bob

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Running Handicap

Amy Hunold-VanGundy over at Runners' Lounge developed a runner's handicap this past week. If you're feeling poorly about your running, this should help:

Only a slow runner like me would come up with such an absurd idea like a running handicap. But it is Friday and there is no reason to be too serious. So, go ahead, try out my little running handicap calculator and find out what your new running pace would be:

Start with your average pace per mile for your most favorite race/run distance. (You can see this won't be too scientific...) Better grab your trusty calculator!

Subtract:

* :10 seconds per mile for each child and pet that lives in your home and borrows some of that extra energy that you normally could apply to running
* :05 seconds extra per child if you are a female and delivered any of those children - that's just a gift from me to you
* :10 seconds for each of the 10 pounds that you are waiting to spontaneously combust and disappear from your body forever
* :20 seconds for all your good intentions to run more consistently, stretch, stretch train more, actually run all the miles in your training plan - but rarely all this happens because family, work or personal obligations seem to always be at the top of the list
* :10 seconds if you live in an everchanging climate and 9 months of the year find it too cold, too hot, too snowy/icy, rainy
* :05 seconds if you regularly read this or other running blogs and sacrifice some of your free time to supporting/encouraging other runners (awwww - that is so nice!)
* :05 seconds for every year after the age of 16 that it took you to realize that running was really "your sport" and you had the painful task of learning it as a grown adult set in their ways
* (and for my husband and all other law enforcement...) 1:15 if running with 26 pound gun belt and a 5 pound vest

What's it add up to?

Well, for me, that gets my half-marathon pace down to 5:17 mpm and my "normal" training pace down to about 4:50 mpm. Works for me!! :-) Thanks, Amy

Run well, y'all,
Bob

Monday, October 15, 2007

BAD For The Environment

I just found out that today is BAD for the environment -- it's Blog Action Day and the focus is on the environment. Several of the blogs that I read regularly are focusing on this:

Half-Fast
My Part of Colorado
Diet Blog, though J Foster doesn't refer to BAD
No Impact Man talks about the environment every day
Care of Creation is a biblically based environmental organization that talks about the environment all the time

There is a group that is noticeably missing from that list....

I'm a disciple of Christ who practices his faith among the (large) group of disciples known as Southern Baptists. Historically, Baptists have been called a lot of things, but the term that stands out to me is people of the Book (the Bible). We're called that because of our doctrine that the Bible is the truthful, accurate Word of God, written by men who were inspired by God's Spirit. That being the case, we should be among the first to stand in defense of the environment -- not because we worship the environment, not because that is the way to salvation, not because it's the popular thing to do, not because we could gain publicity points for doing so, but because it's the right thing to do. We worship God, the Creator (only one of His many names), and when He finished creating the earth, Genesis 1:31 says the He saw all that he had made, and it was very good. David, second king of Israel, said in Psalm 24:1 (he was later quoted by Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:26), The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;

That being the case, Christians ought to be leading the charge to protect and improve the environment to keep it good and to show that we really believe that the earth and everything in it and everyone on it belong to God. But ... we've abandoned that task to others and then often have the temerity to call anyone who does fight to protect the environment a liberal.

I would love to have time today to develop a thorough post about the environment, but there are folks out there who really expect me to answer their e-mails sometime in this century. So, I need to get back to work. But before I finish, let me complete the thought that I started just after my short list of bloggers who are supporting BAD and talking about the environment.

... there is a group that is noticeably missing from that list. After a very quick glance at a few of the Southern Baptist blogs that I read, not one mentioned the environment today. I don't condemn them at all -- probably, like me, they didn't know that today is BAD for the environment. If I had the influence, I'd call out the Baptists to talk about and protect the environment because it does belong to the LORD we worship.

Hey, running is an enviromentally friendly form of exercise. When we're outside running, it's an extremely low impact sport.

Have you turned off a light today?

Run well, y'all,
Bob

Sooooo Good! :)

There are days when everything just falls into place and this morning was one of them. The weather report said it would be 48° but the thermometer at my house said 45° -- either would have been fine but I prefer the cooler. The sky was crystal clear at 5:30 and I could watch the stars. I headed out to run about 7.8 miles and ended up doing 8.7+. I set out to do a slow run and it felt like about 8:30 mpm (most of the time) but ended up being an average of 7:54 mpm. It's days like today when I know I love to run!

Run well, y'all,
Bob

Friday, October 12, 2007

Here's What Will Hurt After a Long Race


Perry Romanowski is a joggler -- juggles and runs at the same time. He just joggled the Chicago Marathon (3:59:00). His post today on "7 Pains to Expect After Running a Marathon" is a good head's up for those who've never run a long race. After the Maymont Half-Marathon a couple of weeks ago, I experienced the headache (dull ache, sorta' all over) and muscle soreness (hip adductors and gluteus maximus). The headache was gone the next day and the muscle soreness lasted 3-4 days.

Perry's blog is a good one to read.

If you're a new runner, the blog Notes of a Non-Runner will help you stay motivated. Nancy is training for her first marathon and has a great attitude. It's an encouraging read.

Run well, y'all,
Bob

Thursday, October 11, 2007

My Body's Back on Track (Updated)

Well, physically, I seem to have recovered from the half-marathon. Monday's run wasn't bad at all. I did almost 8 miles and felt good the whole time -- not that it wasn't hard, mind you. Wednesday, I did 5.3 and was back to my pre-half timing. I wasn't trying to maintain a specific pace and ended up at about 07:50 mpm.

But, I think my mind's not back in it, yet. Monday night, I stayed up too late and, without a training plan to adhere to (hey, body, get out of bed -- you have to do that tempo run or the half-m will kill you!), I just didn't get up to run. Same thing Wednesday night/Thursday morning. Just couldn't bring myself to roll out. There is some evidence of Post Marathon Depression. Now, I don't think I'm having Post Half-Marathon Depression, but the feeling of "What next?" is apparently very common.

There's a good article in the Nov Runner's World about maintaining summer fitness in the Fall. I think I need to set up my own training plan based on that. We'll see. For now, though, I'll try to be content with just running some.

Run well, y'all,
Bob

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Recovery

Last week, I discovered the importance of recovering. I took my young half-marathon partner's advice and did a short slow run on the day after just to stay loose. So, took off for about 2.4 miles and ended up doing about 3. Did 3 more on Monday. Tuesday, I thought I might be ready to pick the pace up a bit for a 4.5 miler -- nothing doing. I was a little faster than Sun/Mon but not like I thought. Skipped Wednesday and then started out on Thursday for a 7.8 miler. I still wasn't ready and cut back to 5.6 miles. Then Friday, I thought I'd do 5.1 and only did 4.6.

Frankly, I decided that there were probably 2 things going on. First, my body just needed to back off a bit. I needed the recovery. But, I also suspect that I may be suffering from a runner's version of post-partum blues -- post-race blues(?). I worked hard to get ready for the half-marathon -- had a definite goal, had a plan to follow and knew what I was going to do every single day. Suddenly, I don't have any of that. Without a goal and plan, I think I just didn't have anything motivating me last week.

The lack of a plan hasn't changed for this week. What has changed is that I took 2 days off from running. So, we'll see if the physical rest will do the trick.

Run well, y'all,
Bob

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Relatively New Running Community

(Edited)

Check out Runners' Lounge. The blog has been online for a few months. There is one older community hosted on MyBlogLog.

The new Runners' Lounge Community has been built on its own site: Runners' Lounge.

At least I think I now have all that correct.

Bob

Random Thought During the Half

My random thought while running the half-marathon today:

I sure am glad this isn't a full marathon!

Most ironic part of the run came between just before the 11 mile mark and about the 12.5 mile mark. I was dying at that point and what do we pass? Three cemeteries!!

Bob

It's Done

The McDonalds Maymont half marathon is probably the hardest physical thing I have ever done. An almost perfect day -- 52° at the start. The only weather issue was the wind. The course is really interesting but really challenging. We crossed the James River about 6 times, ran trails, ran roads, some flat terrain, some hills, both up and down steps. The worst were the spiral steps down from one of the bridges to the river level and the long set of steps that we had to run up somewhere around mile 8.

I had trained for the last 12 weeks for a 1:41 finish -- a pace of 07:45 mpm. One of our new journeymen, Justin Drummons, decided to run with me. Justin's less than half my age and normally runs a half in 1:20-1:25 but he was very gracious. I could not have finished as well as I did without him. Thanks, Justin. However, neither of us factored in the difficulty of the course. This was my first half but Justin has run several and he said that it was the hardest course he's ever seen. (Maybe he was just trying to encourage this old dude!)

It was also great to have Linda (my wife) and Stacey (our daughter) there at the start and finish. They had to get up early, early and leave at 6:15 am on a Saturday morning to be there. It was really encouraging to here our names called out and look over to see their smiling faces.

My finish time was 1:49:08. That put me at 166th out of something like 641 runners who, based on the results, finished. (The pre-registered printouts showed something like 1200 runners registered but that might well have included those who were registed in any of the races during the weekend.) It also put me at 7th in the men's 50-54 year old bracket. We had to walk several times. I think if I'm disappointed in anything about my race it is that I couldn't run the whole thing. The results are here -- I registered as "Robert Allen".

It's done. I'm glad I ran and I'd do it again. The race organization gave every appearance of being casual but was very good.

Run well, y'all,
Bob

Ready to Go

Well, I leave for the half-marathon starting line in about 10 minutes. I'm nervous and excited. I do feel ready. Will post results later.

Run well, y'all,
Bob

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Ahhh -- Fall

This has been a great week. When the temps are 45-50°, I love to be outside running and Monday was 47°. Got to wear my long-sleeved shirt and gloves.

Vanilla at Half-Fast Running blog talked, today, about a study that determined that some men's sweat has a pleasant smell. OK, not the most pleasant of supper conversations but I'm here to tell you that when I finish running, I look like I've been in a rain storm but I can guarantee you that I don't smell like a spring rain. :-D

Run well, y'all,
Bob

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Are You the Dog or the Monkey?

This is a pretty funny video. Maybe it's a metaphor of exercise -- we're either the dog or the monkey. :)




Interesting week of running. I was at Ridgecrest (Baptist conference center east of Asheville, NC) this week, staying at the Days Inn in East Asheville. Fortunately, I had rearranged my training plan so that this week has been my easy week. I knew that meeting schedules and terrain (mountains) were not going to be conducive to doing a hard week. It turned out that the hotel's location was not very good for running -- residential areas were not well-lit (as in dark) and there were a lot of woods (black bears had been spotted in the general area over the previous few weeks). So, the best option was to run on Hwy 70 (Tunnel Rd). I was glad I had a reflective vest!!

Two weeks to the half-marathon. I'm in good shape for it but not sure if I can run my goal time of 1:41:00. I hope I can just relax, have fun, and not worry too much about my time.

Run well, y'all,
Bob

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Why?

Today, for the first time since beginning the training for the half-marathon, I am seriously wondering why in the world I'm doing this. Today's run was scheduled to be 12 miles at 8:47 mpm. First, I only went out because the training plan said to go out. Then, for the first 8+ miles, I was glad I did. But, after that I was dying. I finished the distance and my pace was 8:48 overall but I did walk some. Drank 8 oz of water before running, 20 oz of water during the run, and about 12 oz of instant tea and 24 oz of water after the run.

By this evening, I'll be back on target mentally but this is tough.

While I was running, I wondered about another "Why?" Why do people put their trash cans, recycle bins, piles of limbs and grass, and junk furniture right on the sidewalk? What a pain! It's their convenience but inconveniences everybody else who needs to use the sidewalk to actually (DUH!) walk.

Well, I think we're going to head to the mountains to a chapel at the YMCA Camp Greenville called Pretty Place. I worked there during college and my wife doesn't think she's ever been there.

Y'all run well,
Bob

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Battles in Nature

This is absolutely, totally unrelated to running. Well, OK, the buffalo run away from the lions then the lions run away from the croc then the lions run away from the buffalo -- and I would run away from any of them.

This is an incredible video of South African wildlife, shot in Kruger National Park.



Everybody knows that lions and crocodiles are dangerous, but cape buffalo are bad animals. They have a reputation of simply being ill-tempered. They don't see well so when you get near them, you see them raising their noses into the air to smell you. Stories abound about wounded buffalo tracking down the hunter.

Run well, y'all, and watch out for wild animals,
Bob

Friday, August 31, 2007

A New PDR!

After the flop of a run last Saturday, I'm extra happy this morning. I set a new PDR (personal distance record) running just over 12 miles at a pace of 8:39.5 mpm. And, I did the run in Greenville, SC where there are some really nasty hills. Of course, I don't want to do anything else the rest of the day!

The last couple of weeks, I've had a problem I hadn't experienced before -- squishy shoes even when it's not raining. My feet felt close to getting blisters. Hopefully the humidity will be lower for the half-marathon.

Run well, y'all,
Bob

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Runner's Low

I've experienced a runner's high -- also, see this link -- many times but today I found out what a real runner's low feels like. I suppose it's a lot like hitting the wall in a marathon.

I'm guessing that a combination of weather (75° and 85% humidity), not sleeping really well this week, and, probably some dehydration resulted in what felt like my worst run EVER! I didn't feel great when I started -- thought about cutting it short several times even at 2.5 miles. But, I pushed on and was OK, if not great, right up to the 7.5 mile mark. At that point, I just imploded. From there, I walked about as much as I ran. Was supposed to do 11 but ended up with only 9.9 -- it would have been shorter if I had been closer to home.

Oh, well. There will be another day.

According to Weird Conversions, I weighed the same as 17,475 sheets of paper today after running the equivalent of the length of 1,945 'weinermobiles".

Run well, y'all,
Bob
Richmond

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Oops! This Was Not Good

I scared Linda, my wife, half to death on Saturday -- not because I ran 11+ miles, though.

We have a small whiteboard on the fridge where, every morning, I write down the time I leave, the time I expect to be back, and a list of the streets that I'll run. Saturday, she was up earlier than normal getting ready to go to an ESL (English as a Second Language) training session and realized that I was not back even though it was 30 minutes after I said I would be back. After another 15 minutes, she hopped in the car and went to see what ditch I was lying in and trying to figure out what hospital the EMT's would have taken me to. She couldn't follow the route so came home, hoping I was back. I wasn't and, to make things worse, she had seen that I had my route up on my laptop screen when she left but, while she was gone, the screen saver had kicked in and she didn't know the password to get back to the route (gMap Pedometer). Now, in her mind I'm badly hurt or dead, she can't find me, and she can't even get into my computer. That wasn't the most comforting thought she could have had. So, she left again to try to follow my route from the end back toward the beginning.

Well, I was within about 0.4 miles of the end of my run when I see this car stop at a very odd place in the road. Now, at this point, I'm oxygen-deprived, glycogen-deprived, probably slightly dehydrated and didn't recognize the car. But, I'm thinking, "Why is this lady parking there and blocking my way? She's going to make me run around her? Come on!" About the time I got to the car, I realized it was Linda but I thought she had decided to head to the training early and was just coming by to tell me "Good-bye".

Then, when I stopped, I saw she was upset about something. She asked me if I was OK. I said, "Yes" but thought I must really look awful for her to be upset and to ask me that. Then, she held up the whiteboard, pointing to the time I said I would be back. Now, at this point, it's about 8:05 and I'm about 5 minutes earlier than I thought I might be. But, I had written 7:15. Whoa! I was in the dog box for a bit, there -- somehow my breathless and energy-less "I'm sorry" wasn't really adequate. She knew I was OK and, because I had just stopped dead, I needed get moving before something bad happened to my body, so off I went to finish the last of the run. (I'm really not completely heartless but just stopping dead still after running can do bad things to one's body.)

After her adrenaline levels went back to normal, we were able to laugh about this. But, I guarantee you that I'll double-check the times I write down. Putting down 45 minutes when I mean to put down 1 hour and 45 minutes isn't the best way to make one's wife happy. Also, she now knows my computer password (I can no longer hide the account where my million dollars are stashed). Further, she knows that I have both our house phone and **her** cell phone numbers on the Smart ID on my shoe. Hopefully there will never be a reason for her to worry again.

Run well -- and smart -- y'all,
Bob
Richmond

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Long Run


After running the [equivalent of] the Golden Gate Bridge 14.1 times this morning, I weighed $78,996.00 in US$1 bills! Of course, I ran at a snail's pace -- a beam of light would have traveled 1,070,192,370.765 miles in the time it took me to run that distance (1:35:45) Talk about a strange was to think of one's run! More Weird Conversions.

Run well, y'all,
Bob
Richmond, VA

Friday, August 17, 2007

Different Ways To Think About the Distance of a Half Marathon

The McDonald's Maymont X-Country Half Marathon will commence in 43 days. Here are some interesting ways to look at the half marathon.

1 Half Marathon =

83,0016 inches

52.70612 laps around a 400 meter track

21.0825 kilometers

0.003294 the length of the Great Wall of China

0.00655 the length of the Oregon Trail

11,857.37 giraffes' necks

702,748.5 American cockroaches laid end to end

9,765 Shaquille O’Neals laid end to end

After I finish my long run tomorrow, I will likely weigh the same as:

0.33 of a baby grand piano

0.0144 of an African elephant

440,806.045 cubic inches of air at sea level

40 chickens

467 hockey pucks

During tomorrow's long run, I'll probably lose weight equivalent to:

$3,518 in US $1 bills (That's an expensive run!)

$38.50 in US quarters

9 cans of soda

Thanks to Just Your Average Joggler for the inspiration for this blog.

For more wacky and weird conversions check out the Weird Converter (NOTE: There are some crude comparisons at this site.)

Now that'll give ya' something to think about on your run. What are your strange comparisons? Leave a comment.

Run well, y'all,
Bob

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Now I Know Why I'm Sore

Wednesday was a day I dreaded almost like the plague. Repeats of 3 1600 meter runs at 7:00 mpm with 800 meter recoveries just didn't sound like any fun at all. The run livd up to my expectations -- I did it but it was a pain, literally. I have been so sore for the last 2 days. Today's 5 miler at a slower pace helped but, still.

Now, though, I know why I get so sore even after 4+ years of consistent running. Check out this blog:

Muscles Do Hurt More Than When You Were In High School - Here’s Why

Here's the article that gives a bit more scientific explanation. The key concept is ...as we age, the lines of communication to the stem cells of our muscles deteriorate and, without the full instructions, it takes longer for injured muscles to heal.:

ScienceDaily: Why Aging Muscles Heal Poorly

Now I know and I can complain and groan and moan with scientific justification -- it gives me some credibility. :-)

Run well, y'all,
Bob

Friday, August 10, 2007

Needed: "Swimmies"

The weather this week has been awful. Thursday was a tempo run (1 mi easy warm-up, 4 miles @ 7:29 mpm, 1 mi easy cool down). The problem -- well, besides the fact that I knew it was going to be hard -- was that it was like running in a sauna. When I stepped out the door at 4:55 AM, it was 81° and the humidity was 74%. When I finished, there was not a square millimeter of skin or clothes that was dry. That was the worst day, but the rest of the week wasn't much better. I wondered if I needed those inflatable "swimmies" or "floaties" that we used to put on our kids' upper arms when they went swimming.

I've mentioned that I'm training for the Maymont X-Country Half-Marathon at the end of September. I know it's not a marathon but this video probably shows what I'll feel like on Sunday, 30 September:



Run well, y'all,
Bob, Richmond, VA

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Relationships -- When I'm OK but You're Not OK

Since following a training program is a new thing for me (I usually just pick a distance and run at whatever pace I can maintain), most of my thinking these days is on my pace -- Am I going too fast? This feels way slow! Shoot, it seemed like I was swimming upstream in molasses yet I ran at that pace?! OK, now where, exactly, does this mile end? The program is good for me, I think. Last week's tempo run was definitely better than 2 weeks previous and I actually ran the speedwork faster than planned and faster than I thought I could.

This morning, though, in addition to pace and mile marker, I had some folks on my mind. I have been struck by how different our perspectives on events can really be. In a recent conversation, someone told me they had worked through some issues stemming from a time when they felt unfairly treated and are OK with things -- it's behind them. Other parties honestly believe that this family way overreacted out of stress and I suspect that when these folks are face to face, the other parties aren't going to feel that things are resolved. How do we fix that?

I'm not sure I can fix this particular situation but the question did lead me to the personal conclusion that just because I've worked through something for myself, it really isn't settled until I work through it with all parties involved. If I'm OK and you're not OK, then we're not OK and I'm probably not as OK as I think.

That's pretty heavy for 5:30 AM. Maybe that's why my run didn't feel "easy" even through the training plan called for an easy run today.

Run well,
Bob -- Richmond, VA

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I Did It!

Today was speedwork day on my training plan -- 5 miles total with warm-up, 2 x 1600 m @ 7:05, and cool down. I decided to warm-up by running easy to the closest high school (@1.6 miles), do my repeats on the track (measured distance and easy to monitor my pace), and then do an easy run back home to cool down. Just in case something was up with the track (the school normally leaves the track open for the community), I had a contingency -- the road in front of the school is just over 1 mile between 2 major intersections -- but really didn't want to do that because there are no easy markers for monitoring pace.

So, off I went and the track was closed for resurfacing. It was tempting to chuck the speedwork and just do an extra easy run. But, that really wouldn't help me reach my goal, would it?

So, back to the first major intersection (an extra half mile or so warm-up) to do the first segment. It was then that it hit me that the first 1600 meters was going to be basically downhill -- not steep at a net change of about 14', mind you, but still generally downhill. That meant (yeah, you are pretty sharp) that the second segment was going to be basically uphill. Well, nothing to do but go for it.

The first 1600 m was difficult but I completed it in 6:45 on the nose (not too bad for an old man). I jogged back up the road for what I estimated to be 1/4 mile and then back to the end to start the second 1600 m. The first 200 meters or so weren't too bad but then ... I knew this wasn't going to be pretty.

I ran as hard and as long as I could will myself to do then slowed down and continued that way -- hard, slow, hard, slow. That happened for what seemed like at least 5 miles. When the end finally came in sight, I checked my watch and, can you believe it, there was just the slimmest of possibilities that I could actually reach the end in the target time of 7:05 (though it seemed like 7 hours and 5 minutes, the target was actually 7 minutes and 5 seconds). Sure enough, I gutted it out to the end and stopped my watch at 7:04.75.

Then, I figured, Well, it must be less than 1600 m so I really didn't do so great. But, I plotted it on gMap Pedometer and it was actually 1644.6 meters. Hooray! I had been dreading failure for 10 days -- wasted emotional energy!

So, I've gotten past that hurdle. Maymont Half-Marathon, here I come.

Run well, y'all,
Bob

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

That Was Hard!

Today was day #4 on the half-marathon training program and it was definitely the hardest. The previous 3 days, I was having difficulty slowing down the pace enough -- the point being, I suppose, to get in a good workout without trashing muscles and lungs in order to get in a hard workout mid-week and a long run on the weekend.

Anyway, since I've been unwilling to fork over the money for a Garmin Forerunner or a Polar watch, the only way I have to judge the time is to know where my mile (or fraction of a mile) spots are and to check my watch at those points. In order to keep from focusing too much on time, I've chosen to check my watch at each mile. The downside is that I only know my pace after each mile and then make a subjective adjustment for the next mile.

Today, though, the goal was a tempo (supposed to be comfortably difficult) run. That included a 1 mile warm-up, a 1 mile cool-down (both defined as easy or 8:58 minutes per mile) with 3 miles in the middle at a pace of 7:30 minutes per mile. I did OK on the first mile at about 9:15 mpm. The second mile went fine at 7:31. The third mile was a bit slower at 7:38. But the fourth mile was a killer -- I really pushed but could only manage 7:46. Then the final mile was 8:56. The problem was that I was dog tired at the end of 5.1 miles.

I'm trusting Runner's World on this training plan. But, is it going to get me to my goal? I'll know at the end of September.

BTW, I'm ready for winter to come back. This business of 70°+ and 85%+ humidity at 5:30 AM is for the birds! The spot where I stretch at the end of my run always looks like a swimming hole when I finish from all the sweat that pours off me. Yeah, I know -- GROSS! Give me 45° and 60% humidity any day.

Run well y'all,
Bob

Sunday, July 8, 2007

4 Years!


Today I finished my 4th consecutive year of running (and walking). That's a milestone (pun intended) for this 53 year old because, even when I ran track in high school, I only ran 3 years and didn't run year 'round. (Article related to the picture.)

I began in earnest on 9-Jul-03 by walking 2.9 miles in 45 minutes. I finished the 4 years by running 7.3 miles yesterday in just under an hour and running 4.6 miles this morning in 40 minutes (intentionally slower). In those 4 years, I have run about 4,395 miles in 7 different countries (US, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, South Africa, Madagascar, Dem Republic of Congo):

2003: 557 miles (Jul-Dec)
2004: 837 miles (medial meniscectomy in Sept)
2005: 924 miles (achilles tendinitis in Feb)
2006: 1364 miles
2007: 712 miles (Jan-today)

In addition (and the reason this morning's run was intentionally slower), I ended the 4 years by beginning a 12-week training regimen for the Maymont X-Country Half-Marathon on 28-Sep-07 (there, I've committed publicly to doing it). My "that would be great" goal is 1 hour, 41 minutes -- approximately 07:45 mpm (minutes per mile), which is a pretty challenging goal for me. My "I would be happy with it" goal is just under 1 hour, 45 minutes or 08:00 mpm. Following a training program will be very different from my normal routine which has been to vary my distance and route for 4-6 runs per week but with the pace about the same for every run. So, we'll see how it goes. This is supposed to be a fun race to run because of the course.

I start year #5 tomorrow morning.

Run well, y'all,
Bob
Richmond

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Anarchy

Yesterday, Linda and I spent the day at Williamsburg. It was quite interesting, especially the reenactment of select events between 1774 and 1776. One of scenes was the arrest and trial of a loyalist merchant in Williamsburg. The militia arrested him and put on a mockery of a trial.

The whole thing got me thinking about the judicial system in the US. While there is plenty to critique about our judicial system, in general we do benefit from a well-ordered legal system (my thoughts on this are certainly those of a layman and, I'm sure, are very simplistic). Our rights to competent representation in court, the requirement that findings of an investigation must be shared with the defense, our right to trial by a jury of peers approved by both defense and prosecution, etc.

The system doesn't always work; there are numerous examples of abuses; a higher judiciary that legislates rather than interprets law is not what's intended. One could also certainly point to many examples of mob justice (the KKK would be an accurate, though awful, example) that are outside the system -- essentially, that's what the reenactment portrayed yesterday. And, it was very clear why an individual who disagreed with the process would be very afraid to stand up to the crowd.

I left Williamsburg disturbed that quick justice can seem so appealing when the alternative is a seeming labourious journey through the proper system. But I am thankful for the protections that our prescribed system of justice provides.

Happy Fourth of July. Thank God for your freedoms.

Run well,
Bob

Sunday, June 10, 2007

White Squirrels and High Humidity


Well, that was really interesting. I was running along Cambridge Dr. and there was a pure white squirrel in someone's yard. I suppose it must have been an albino squirrel but it was quite unique. (Image from: John Bryan State Park - White Squirrel)



I had remembered that Richmond humidity was bad but the winter's dry air had muted those memories somewhat. There have been several unreal days. Yesterday, the temperature was only 70° when I left the house at 7:30 but the humidity was 98%. I had planned to do about 8 miles but at 3 miles I decided there was no way. So, I ended up turning earlier than originally planned and doing only 5.4 miles. Even so, I was beat and absolutely soaked when I finished -- we're talking (quit reading now if sweat is gross) wring my shirt out twice after I finished running soaked. Today, the humidity was **only** 70% but I was still WET -- and this is early morning. It's just the 10th of June!

Run well,
Bob

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Rain and Shine

Stepped out my front door on Friday morning, got out from under the porch and, KUMBE!, it's raining. Not bad, so I headed out. Well, about 1/4 mile into it, the bottom dropped out. I was glad I left my glasses on the porch. It's interesting running in rain in the pre-dawn. It was heavy enough that I really couldn't see very far ahead. And I couldn't see where the puddles (or were they small lakes?) were. It was a new route for me so I knew I'd "have" to run it again soon to see what I'd missed.

Saturday morning and this morning were beautiful. Headed out about 6:30 each morning just before the sun came up. I was able to see the honeysuckle that I had been smelling. Both mornings fairly humid but cool at 48° -- absolutely perfect -- just cool enough for a long-sleeved shirt but not enough to chill. I'm not sure I'll have many more mornings like this one -- looks like next week will be back in mid- to upper-50's.

I ran the new route (Friday) again this morning. There are a couple of fairly long, gentle hills which are a bit of a challenge but not killers like the shorter steep hills. I'm still running slower than usual but it ain't bad.

Run well, y'all,
Bob

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Hints of Summer

Well, it looks like summer's coming to Richmond -- ugh! The humidity has been pretty bad the last couple of days at 89% on Friday and 83% this morning. I'm drenched at the end of a run. One pleasant sign of summer is the sweet smell of honeysuckle. I haven't seen the flowers, yet, but I sure smelled them yesterday and today. That brought back memories of childhood -- plucking the flowers, pulling out the stamen, and licking off the nectar.

This morning I was dying. Just after mile 6, I had to walk for about 30 seconds, ran for about 1:30, then walked again for about 1:15. I haven't had to do that in a long time. Then I met up with a friend, David Miller, at about mile 6.5. He was walking but picked up and ran with me for about 0.5 miles. That was just the encouragement I needed to finish running to the end. Thanks, David -- you didn't even know you were helping me along.

Run well y'all,
Bob

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

How Far Does Freedom of Expression Extend?

In the last few years, I have become convinced that often my greatest strength is also my greatest weakness. The steadiness that helps me get things done can be maddening when I need to be excited. I think the same is true of America -- our greatests strengths can be our greatest weaknesses if the strengths aren't used with self-control.

My dad used to tell me, Your freedom goes only as far as the end of the other person's nose. I treasure the freedom of expression that is my right as an American but when that freedom is exercised to the extreme, it's a glaring weakness. Here is a perfect example. I'm glad we have the freedom to express dissent but where does one get off going this far?

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) - A Colorado man has been arrested for disrupting the Sunday service at a breakaway Episcopal parish by throwing a pie at the pastor. Witnesses told police that the man entered a side door of Grace Church and St. Stephen's Parish and hit the Reverend Donald Armstrong in the face as he preached a sermon on loving your enemies....Full Story
As a nation, we need to regain a sense of respect for others and learn how to dissent in appropriate ways.

Run well, y'all,
Bob

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

All or Nothing

DISCLAIMER: I do reserve the right to be wrong and to change my mind.

A couple of weeks ago, maybe longer, I taped a 20/20 show because they were going to talk about child molestation by Southern Baptist pastors (a topic for another day). Last night, I got around to watching it and was surprised to find that one of the segments was on Jim Karas and his campaign to ween America from cardiovascular exercise. (OK, I recognize that's a pejorative statement). I had seen most of the Good Morning America segment and wasn't impressed (I'm not the only one). He says that to lose weight, keep it off, and be fully healthy, we should stop doing cardio exercise and switch to his interval strength training routines. With a hot book and equipment.

This morning, while running, that segment kept coming to mind. I do not want to downplay the importance of strength training. I should incorporate strength training into my exercise routine -- without a doubt, I need to do something to ward of the muscle and strength loss that comes (well, OK, goes) with age. But, to eliminate all cardio exercise and sustitute only interval strength training doesn't make sense. One of Karas' arguments is that you don't see happy people in the cardio rooms of gyms but you see happy, toned people in the weight rooms. Cardio is mindless ... interval weight training is ... well, he implies it's fun and mentally stimulating but doesn't say that. Personally, as you know if you've read earlier postings, you know that I totally agree with his assessment of the dreadmill -- give me the outdoors where I'm going somewhere, seeing changing scenery. And, I've done strength training and find absolutely nothing mentally stimulating about it. It's better than the treadmill, maybe, but ....

Of course, on the other hand, if you are following my running log (see the right side of this blog), you'll see that my weight continues to hang around 178-181. To be at the right BMI for my height, I should weigh no more than 174.5. So, the running, by itself, is not getting me there.

But the details of the Cardio-Free Diet are not really what I was thinking about this morning. It seems to me that Mr. Karas' approach is a symbol of current US culture -- all or nothing. Rather than taking a moderate approach -- i.e., the best of both worlds -- we seem to feel compelled to take one or another of polar views on everything. Politics is certainly that way. It's either big business or the poor. Why else, when someone starts talking about how to control illegal immigration, they are accused of being anti-immigration of any kind -- and why must the only options for dealing with illegal immigration be building a fence or totally consequence-free amnesty? Even discussions about religion often boil down to whether one is a fundamentalist or a liberal. In general, it seems that the prevailing attitude is, if you don't completely agree with me, you are completely wrong. Is it really necessary to be in an extreme position on everything?

Well, I didn't solve anything while running (except to strengthen my heart, burn about 800 calories, hopefully raise my good cholesterol, clean out my pores, and get the lead out) but I did have some random thoughts while running. :-)

John 13:34-35A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (NIV)

Run well, practice big-heartedness,
Bob

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Running at 53!

Well, surprise, surprise, surprise -- running at 53 years old is no different from running at 52 years, 364 days! It's still hard. :-)

When I started this blog, I thought I would be posting about random things I thought about while I was running. In the ensuing months, I've realized that my random thoughts consist mostly of:

-> Why do I do this to myself?
-> I think I'll quit and go home -- oh, wait, it would take too long to walk?
-> Who says that Richmond's West End doesn't have bad hills?
-> Am I going to die before I get home? If I do, will anybody see me at this time of the morning?
-> Just let me get home before I get struck by lightening.
-> Who stole the oxygen?
-> My shoes must be eating pound cake at night -- they're gaining weight.
-> 8 blocks to go ... 7 blocks to go ... 6 blocks to go ....

There's not a whole lot of "umph" left for thinking deep thoughts. Hivyo ndivyo mambo yalivyo. (Swahili: That's the way things are.)


Run well y'all,
Bob

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Not Dead, Yet

Well, I must admit that I was a little concerned. In the last 9 runs, I had only had 2 when I ran under 8 minutes per mile. Granted, I was sick and didn't run for 8 days during that time but the time frame also coincided with using a new pair of shoes (Brooks GTS 7). Still, it's been a very long time when I had run more than one run a month that was slower than 7:59 mpm, so I couldn't figure what was going on. Was my age catching up with me -- I'm almost 53? Had my runs with others who run a bit slower reset my natural pace? Was it just taking extraordinarily long to recover from my cold? Was I over-training?

While I still don't know why and I may run more slowly tomorrow, it was reassuring today to hit 7:44 mpm.

Random thoughts today:

1. It's great to hear the birds at 5:00 am.
2. The flowering trees are pretty even in the moonlight.
3. Drivers in Richmond's West End (Short Pump) seem unusually polite. Yesterday was the first time in almost 2 years that anyone has even hooted at me. The vast majority of drivers see me and give me plenty of room.
4. There are some traffic lights that seem to get farther away the more I run toward them.
5. Why can't my wife and I get a clear word from God about a decision we're trying to make? How patient will those who are waiting for us to make the decision be? Is the lack of a clear word really a clear word that we should just continue with things as they are?
6. It's only 6° warmer today than yesterday. It's odd that it feels much warmer. (When I got home, I found out that the temperature had actually risen by 3° while I was running. In contrast to dropping 2-3°, as on the last several mornings, I guess the difference was really more like 8-9°.

Run well,
Bob

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

I Love the Spring

After 8 days of no running, it was so good to be out this morning. It was probably the easiest 10k run I've ever done. Yes, you can see from my log that I ran more slowly and I'm sure that was a major contributor to the ease. But, a lot of it was just being out again. A HUGE part of the joy was that it's springtime. Now, I couldn't see the evidences of spring even though there was a full moon. However, I could hear them -- the birds were serenading everybody who cared to listen. It was great. God is so good!

The only downside of running again after 8 days? I'm a bit sore but that will pass.

Live and run well,
Bob

Friday, March 30, 2007

Out of the Race

Well, I was looking forward to running the Ukrop's Monument Ave 10K tomorrow and was ready to break 50 minutes along with a friend. Then, Sunday night I started getting a cold and running a low-grade fever. Surely, the fever will go away by Wednesday or so and I can run. -- I kept telling myself. Thursday, I was still Linkhaving a bit of fever so I went to the doctor. He says, Just a cold and the fever isn't unusual. But, his very strong advice is not to run. Today, Friday, I agree. Still coughing, still have and off-and-on fever. Bummer! We'll help our daughter move, but no running. After 5 straight days without a run, I am so ready. Maybe in another couple of days.

Today, I collected my t-shirt and other gear -- hey, I paid the fee -- and it was sad. Another day.

Good luck to all who do run.

Bob

Sunday, March 25, 2007

4,000 Miles!

Reached a milestone this past week. I wasn't paying attention but realized today, while filling out my running log, that I had passed 4,000 miles of running since July 2003. It happened on Thursday. Whew! That's a lot of miles.

Run well, y'all,
Bob

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Prep Run #2 for Richmond 10K

Ran the second prep run for the Richmond 10K next week. We were slow today. My friend had been fighting a cold all week and was still not feeling great. I had run 7.3 miles yesterday and my legs were tired. Still, with all those factors, we did fine.

This was my second run in a new pair of shoes -- Brook GTS7 with MoGo. The reviews for the GTS7 have been really good, talking about how cushioned they are, etc. I would disagree. I've run in a pair of GTS5, two GTS6, a pair of ASR (based on the GTS4), and now the GTS7. The ASR are the hardest (i.e., least cushioned) but kept my feet warmer on cold days, the GTS5 were the longest lasting (we'll see about the GTS7), and the GTS6/7 had the best cushioning (still not great).


Still, I like the Etonics Jepara SC shoes that I've just quit using -- they're more cushioned than any of the Brooks, they've lasted longer than any running shoes I've had in the last 4 years (613 miles), and they have a wider toebox (I could wear a regular width and didn't have to buy 2E). So, I think I'll wear the GTS7 until they wear out (until early to mid-July) and then go back to the Etonics.

Run well, y'all,
Bob

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Real Saint Patrick

I'm not a Catholic but there is a tiny trace of Irish blood in my veins. And, yes, I did wear green today, though not while I was running. Someone clued me in on this article and I found it interesting to read the real story behind the man:

The St. Patrick You Never Knew

Run well, y'all,
Bob

PS -- Earlier today, I ran with a friend at a slightly slower pace than I normally run. Maybe it was the luck of the Irish (I don't put any stock at all in luck), but I felt like I could have run a lot longer.

Prep Run #1 for Richmond 10K

I do like running with someone else -- not all the time, mind you, but more often than I get to do. A friend and I are running the Richmond 10K together in 2 weeks. We hadn't run together before, so we decided to run a 10K+/- this morning just to see how it went. It was chilly, but I actually like that except for the fact that I don' t talk very well when my face has been exposed to 32° for several minutes -- that made communication a little tricky. You know, lots of What did you say?

We did 6.5 miles at a pace of 8.015 mpm. If gMap-Pedometer gave me a good read on the distance, we'll make our goal for the 10K of sub-50 minutes -- a PB for my friend and a PB-baseline for me (since I've never run a 10K race before, 2 hours would, technically, be a PB for me). Hey, we won't be the fastest on Monument Avenue that day, but for a couple of 50+ year olds, we'll do all right.

If you're running that race, we'll see you there.

Bob
Richmond, VA

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Longest Run to Date -- Lots of Time to Think

11.938 miles -- I am tired! This is the longest I've ever run. The first 6 miles took 46:54 and the last 5.9 took 47:31 so I maintained a fairly consistent pace throughout -- averaged 7:54 mpm. I don't watch my watch while I run so I was really surprised at my pace. If someone had asked, I would have guessed about 8:15 mpm because it felt slow.

My mental song for this run was You Are God Alone. As I ran, the passage from Romans 7:14-25 where Paul talks about his own inability to follow the law kept rolling around in my mind -- I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me ... Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God -- through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Rom 7:15-18a, 24b-25a). No matter what others see from the outside, I know that my inner self is fighting this same war. There is no reason, within me, for God to use me. But He does! He grants me righteousness, justifies me, and redeems me:

Therefore no-one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:20-24)

My prayer for myself is that the righteousness that has been declared for me would become reality in my thoughts and attitudes and actions and words.

Pretty weighty for a run -- but, 12 miles gives one a long time to think.

Run well, y'all,
Bob

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

High Altitude, Again

Just returned from a 2-week trip to Kenya. Didn't run as much as I would have liked but did get in 6 days -- 3 in Nairobi and 3 in Tigoni. Man, the Tigoni was hard!! 7,500 feet above sea level is pretty thin air. But, the last day, I ran 4.3 miles at 8:10 mpm but the hills made for sore hips. It was absolutely perfect weather -- about 55°, no wind, no rain, no dogs.

Tonight, I became 1 of about 22,000 to sign up for the Richmond Monument Ave 10K at the end of March. This will be only my 2nd race since high school. A friend wants to break 50 minutes, so we'll run together. Should be fun if we don't get trampled by the crowds -- last year, the Monument Ave 10K was the largest 10K in the US.

Run well, y'all,
Bob

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I'm a Real Runner Now

I'm a real runner now -- I must be because I have the scars to prove it. :) I've been running regularly for just over 3 1/2 years and tripped/fell for the first time this morning.

I had to cross a 4-lane road as a part of my route. Nothing new -- it's pretty hard to run more than a short distance without crossing a road here. As I approached the road, I saw a car coming from the left. No problem because I could just turn left and run against traffic until I could cross safely. When the car passed, I headed across, had to cross the median, looked right to be sure nothing was coming from the other direction, and looked back ahead to see that I was about to tangle with another runner coming from my left (it was dark and I think each of us surprised the other). We dodged each other quite easily and I started stepping up over the curb onto the sidewalk. Suddenly, I pitched forward and my knees met the curb and my hands (gloved) met the sidewalk. As I fell, I felt that my foot had caught on something and heard whatever it was move -- it sounded like a piece of plywood.

I hopped right up and ran on -- my knees hurt but I only had a half mile remaining. Funny enough, I actually felt energized. Boy, it hurt, though. I got back and found that my running pants are now ventilated on one knee. I'll have some bruises but so far am not too sore.

Otherwise, it was a pretty decent (though cold) run.

Run well, y'all,
Bob

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Running Log

Somehow or another, all of the information on my Palm PDA was erased this week. Arghhh! It's certainly not a crushing blow, but I lost some information that was important to me. Because I had been lax in syncing my PDA to my computer, I lost a fair amount of my daily running log (greatest loss) as well as some calendar changes, a couple of updated contact files, some reminder notes about books I wanted to read and movies I wanted to rent, and some sermon notes that were imbedded in my Palm Bible (almost equal to the running log loss -- see below). Almost as bad, I'm having trouble restoring the information I do have back to the PDA -- I'm working on figuring out that problem.

Some of those things will be recovered in my human memory over time or they aren't important enough to expend any energy trying to remember/recover -- books and movies, for instance. While it would be the spiritual thing to say that the sermon notes are more important than the running log, I don't think there were any real faith-shaping thoughts recorded over the last 2-3 months, so the loss isn't really profound. But, the running log had details that I'll never remember -- no way I'll remember the times or the routes that I ran. I can probably recover the key elements. For instance, at the end of 2006, I did a post on this blog that summarized my running for 2006. So, I have the total miles run for the year and can recover the gross number of miles I've run since beginning in 2003.

I decided that I needed to rethink how I keep my running log. I like advancing technology and had been looking for a good use for Google's Docs and Spreadsheets. My running log seemed to be a good candidate -- while I'm in the US, I have great internet access so speed is not really an issue and Google's archives provide a fairly reasonable assurance that my log won't simply get lost. So, let's try it! Then, in the process of trying it, I wondered if, since I'm creating an online spreadsheet, it would also be possible to have that spreadsheet show up on this blog. Kumbe! (Swahili interjection of surprise -- roughly, Wow!) It is quite possible.

So, here it is -- my running log for all the world to see (including my daily weight so you can see my struggle with that -- being fully aware that at 5'10" and currently weighing in the upper-170's, that won't seem like a struggle to many people -- but, I want to be down to 170, full stop).

BTW, the mid-teens is cold for running. For me, 14° must be about the coldest for running with a long-sleeved running shirt and sweatshirt. I tried running with a fleece the other day when it was 16° and that was a tiny bit too warm. Today, at 14° and a sweatshirt, I was a tiny bit too cool.

Enough! I'm rambling now. Run well, y'all.

Bob
Richmond