31 December 2008

It Was a Good Year -- 2008

(Picture: From Chapman's Peak looking back down the road)

Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Closing Out 2008

This is my running summary for the year. It's more for my benefit but perhaps it will be of interest to someone else :) I think the most enjoyable part of running this year has been the group runs on Wednesdays and Saturdays from John Rolfe Commons. I've enjoyed getting to know a number of folks who live in Short Pump -- thanks, guys and gals -- you've made my last year in Richmond memorable.

Number of runs: 232

Distance: 1569.33 miles
Average distance: 6.76
Total time (hh:mm:ss): 219:27:52.92
Average MPM (mm:ss): 8:23.45

Distance: 1536.7307 miles
Average distance: 6.624
Total time (hh:mm:ss): 212:05:56.4
Average MPM (mm:ss): 8:16:52.32

Shoes: 2 pair Etonic Jepara SC, 1 pair Etonic Jepara SC 2 (current)
States: VA, NC, SC, GA, TX, FL, MA
Countries: South Africa, Kenya
Longest Run: 14.9 miles, Richmond, VA training run
Fastest Run: Richmond, VA, 15-Mar-08, 6.2137 miles@7:19.19 mpm
Fastest Mile: Richmond, VA 21-May-08, 1 mile@6:45.44 mpm (4th mile of 5.26 mile tempo)
Favourite Run: Chapman's Peak, Nordhoek, South Africa
Most Exotic Run: Chapman's Peak, Nordhoek, South Africa
Most Fun Run: Hmmmm. Not sure -- maybe one of the group training runs
Worst/Hardest Run: Maymont X-Terra Half Marathon -- I didn't drink enough early enough

Ashland 10K Railroad Run, 15-Mar-08, 45:29
Ukrop's 10K (Richmond), 5-Apr-08, 45:43
Patrick Henry Half Marathon (Ashland), 23-Aug-08, 1:53:10
Maymont X-Terra Half Marathon (Richmond), 27-Sep-08, 2:01:25

Run well, y'all,

24 December 2008

Runs With Dogs

My encounters with dogs have usually been good. But, my experiences with dogs and running have not, until yesterday, been pleasant ones. Several years ago, while running in a small Tanzania town early one morning, I had a most unpleasant encounter with a pack of about 6 dogs. They came out from behind the building I had just passed, barking and growling. I decided that trying to outrun them was probably not a good idea, so I stopped and faced them. Sometimes pretending to pick up a rock and throwing it works, but not that day.

This is not looking good, I thought to myself. I spread out my arms, palms forward and began talking to the dogs in Swahili as they circled me a couple of times. I watched in horror as one of them chomped down on my leg. He (or she -- determining that really didn't cross my mind at that point) bit once and then the whole pack turned and ran off. To this day I have no idea why they left -- I don't know if, while backing slowly away, I had crossed some invisible boundary line or if God sent an angel to scare them off or if, as I have teased my African friends, they just didn't like the taste of white meat -- but I was grateful. I happened to be about halfway through a 3 mile out-and-back route and had no choice but to go back -- fortunately, I was able to take a loop through town and circle around the dogs. I ended up getting both the post-bite rabies shot and the vaccine (it had to be flown from Johannesburg, South Africa to Nairobi, Kenya on a commercial flight and then from Nairobi to Iringa, Tanzania on a small plane owned and operated by our mission organization.

Needless to say, that has made me quite skittish about untethered dogs when I'm running. Seven or eight years later, I still have the brown marks on my leg where that dog bit me.

(*License information)
Yesterday, I had run about 5.5 miles at Lake Hartwell (GA) and had already had one untethered dog bark at me and another black lab pup follow me for a few yards. I made the turn into my sister-in-law's neighborhood and heard the patter of dog feet coming up fast behind me. Oh, no, I thought as I looked around. I knew there was a good chance it would turn out fine since it was a black lab and my experience with labs is that they are usually more interested in being petted and playing than in chewing on people, still .... This one turned out to be the friendly type.

The really neat thing about this was that she ran behind and to the side of me for the last 1.6 miles of my run. I chatted with her but every time I would look over my shoulder, she would move to the opposite side. Having her run with me, though, had a similar effect to running with other people. My mind immediately forgot about how tired I was and how much I was looking forward to finishing and I got my second wind. It was great. Pearl (I looked at her tag later) just seemed to be happy to be there, running as if this was the best thing that had happened to her all month. When I finished, she was quite happy to be petted and talked to. In fact, she stayed with me while I cooled down and then preferred for me to pet her rather than to get my stretching done. It was fun!

This morning I hit my 100 mile goal for the month and still have 4-5 runs left to do in December. So I have run 100+ miles each month this year -- 1538 miles this year. I ran a totally new route this morning. Later, my brother-in-law told me I had run through the drug-dealer section of Hartwell. Somehow, though, I doubt that the drug dealers or users were much of a danger at 7:00 this morning. I don't plan to run tomorrow, Christmas Day. But, hey, who knows.

Run well, y'all and Merry Christmas,

* Picture of black lab from Wikipedia. The owner of this JPEG file has licensed it under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 License. In short: you are free to share and make derivative works of the file under the conditions that you appropriately attribute it, and that you distribute it only under a license identical to this one. Official license

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22 December 2008

Another New Take on an Old Christmas Favorite

Yet another rendition of The 12 Days of Christmas. This one is by a South Asian animator. We found it last Christmas but it's just as funny as ever:

Run well, y'all,

A New (Sort of) Twist on an Old Christmas Song

We just happened to notice that the annual Christmas in Washington, DC show was on TV last week (17-Dec). I love Christmas music so we turned it on, especially since Casting Crowns was going to sing. We thoroughly enjoyed the show but a bonus was being introduced to the acapella group, Straight No Chaser -- yeah, we're behind the times. The group began singing at Indiana U in the mid-90's. They've come back together to produce a Christmas album. On the show, they sang their rendition of The 12 Days of Christmas. It was funny (intentionally) but also showcased their talent. Someone has posted the clip from the show on YouTube.

There are a number of other SNC videos on YouTube.

Merry Christmas -- run well, y'all,

Fun While Running

It was 20° and windy when I finished running this morning. It was COLD and I ran more slowly than normal but it was a good run. Still, there were moments -- like then the wind was blowing full in my face and freezing my nose, lips, cheeks, ears, etc. -- when the thought of being inside and warm were really good thoughts and it was tempting to turn back. I enjoyed the run and was certainly glad I went out. But, if you want to see what real joy is when running in the cold and snow, watch this video:

Run well, y'all,

10 December 2008

International Toothpaste [Virtual] Museum

Now, here's a site that you would never have thought of visiting if you weren't reading my blog! Actually, you probably would never have thought of looking for it -- The International Toothpaste Museum. Touted by its founder -- my cyber-friend, Paul Merrill -- as a completely green museum; [because] you cannot use any fuel to visit. Ahh ... and you thought variety in toothpaste was a choice between the various kinds of whitening toothpaste on the aisle in Wal-Mart!

Paul lived in Nairobi, Kenya for a few years and wrote a great blog on his day-to-day observations of life in Africa. He stopped updating that blog when he returned to the US, but it's still a great site for learning about life in Kenya from a street-level view. Now, Paul brings that same perspective on life in Colorado to cyberspace in his current blog, My Part of Colorado. Take a look and enjoy this well written blog (and don't forget to visit The International Toothpaste Museum).

Run well, y'all,

09 December 2008

An Inexpensive Way to Poor Health

® Jack in the Box Inc.

One of those "found while looking for something else" news items. According to the Washington, DC based, non-profit Cancer Project, buying many of the cheap fast food deals may be a way to fight the immediate recessionary concerns of your wallet but may not be of any help to your long-term physical health. The Cancer Project identified the following as the worst deals for your health, starting with the worst deal:

Jack in the Box's $1.00 Junior Bacon Cheeseburger with 400 calories, 23 grams of fat, "including 8 grams of saturated fat and 1 gram of trans fat," and 860 milligrams of sodium (Jack in the Box's web site claims 803.5 mg of sodium). To their credit, for those who take the time to go to their web site, Jack in the Box does make suggestions for making wise decisions as part of your balanced lifestyle and diet...by substituting or even removing ingredients to reduce calories or otherwise customize your food. [Jack in the Box - Our Food: Lifestyle Choices]


Taco Bell's $0.89 Cheesy Double Beef Burrito with 20 grams of fat, including 7 grams of saturated fat, as well as 460 calories and 1,620 milligrams of sodium.


Burger King's Breakfast Sausage Biscuit with "420 calories and 27 grams of fat, including 15 grams of saturated fat. 1,090 milligrams of sodium."


McDonald's $1.00 McDouble sandwich with "390 calories, more than 43% of them from fat. 65 milligrams of cholesterol, more than 42% of the recommended daily value. 920 milligrams of sodium, 38% of the recommended daily value."


Wendy's Junior Bacon Cheeseburger with "310 calories, 46% of them from fat. Two strips of hickory-smoked bacon, a processed meat. 670 milligrams of sodium."

Hey, let's go for lunch!

Run (and eat) well, y'all,

(All restaurant/chain names and menu item names are registered trademarks or copyrighted by the respective companies.)

Los Angeles Times,
Jack in the Box burger tops unhealthful list, by Jerry Hirsch, 9 December 2008
Wall Street Journal Health Blog, From the ‘Worst’ to ‘Least Bad’ on Fast Food Value Menus, Posted by Sarah Rubenstei, 9 December 2008

26 November 2008

Running Safely

I was talking to a co-worker today about her husband's running. She laughed telling me that he carries his cell phone with him. She never knows, when she calls him, where he might be but knows immediately, from his laboured breathing, if he's running. That got us talking about running safety. With the shorter days of winter upon us and the change from daylight savings time, I thought I'd just mention some things that come to my mind. Most days, I run before the sun comes up and I don't carry my cell phone, but here's what I do:

1. Almost always, I run on the left side of the road (when I'm in the US), facing traffic. The only exceptions are if I've turned a corner and can't immediately cross the road. I figure that this gives me a few extra seconds to escape an accident if necessary.

2. When it's dark or dim, I wear a reflective vest. My vest only cost me $12 or so. I've seen others wearing them at night and they really do make you visible.

3. Most shirts, shorts, shoes, hats, jackets, etc. made for running have some sort of reflective patches on them. I don't trust those to make me fully visible but every little bit helps.

4. If I'm running a particularly dark route, I'll either carry a small flashlight or, until the batteries corroded and it quit working, I wore a running cap with built-in LED lights (that was really cool).

5. It's not something I wear, but I make sure someone knows when I expect to return and what route I'm running. That concerned my wife because I'm usually gone before she wakes up. So, we purchased a small magnetized whiteboard and markers with magnets that we keep on the refrigerator. I write my Out/Back times and my route. It's only been used once in 3 years (I put the wrong Back time -- missed by a whole hour -- brain fog) but gives my wife a great peace of mind.

6. Finally, I purchased a RoadID (see the link on the right side of the blog) and a Firefly® Supernova flashing light from RoadID. I use the "interactive" RoadID on a wrist band and clip the light to the wrist band. The light is just one more thing to attract the attention of drivers and to alert them to my presence. The RoadID will identify me and give my emergency information should something happen. The RoadID was $19.99 and the light was $12.99 -- pretty small amount to pay if something does happen. Great gifts to give a runner for Christmas -- stocking stuffers. Click the link (right side of the blog, you might have to scroll down a bit) and it will take you to the RoadID site. Yes, I do get a commission on this but it won't cost you any more than if you go straight to the site. However you get there, this is a product I'd recommend -- or some form of ID for that one chance in a million that the information is needed.

What do you do to stay safe while running?

Run well, y'all,

04 November 2008

American Democratic Process

Henrico Columbian polling line at 6:50am

What a day! My plan was to run this morning. Columbian Center, my polling place, fell at 4.4 miles on my route so I was going to stop, vote, and then run the last 1.7 miles. But, when I woke up, it was raining. Those who ended up in line with me would probably be glad to know that I changed my plan. Instead of running, I took a shower, made a pot of chai, and drove to the polling place.

What a shock as I drove into the parking lot. The line at 5:55am, in the drizzling rain, was all the way down the above parking lane (the lane was only about 1/3 full at 6:50 -- above), turned and crossed two other lanes. I'm guessing there were at least 250 people in line at that point. Spirits were high; no complaints about either the wait or the weather.

If anything good has come out of this incredibly acrimonious and interminable campaign season, it is that huge numbers of people have been motivated to exercise their right to let their voice be heard by voting. BBC just reported that 97% of African Americans in Georgia voted today. There were major concerns about polling stations being overwhelmed by the turnout. Record numbers of people voted early. Today was the longest voting line I've seen since the Carter/Reagan election of 1980. No matter who wins, it is great.

I am -- and have been -- proud to be an American. Yes, we have glaring flaws; no, we do not have a perfect government nor are we a sinless people; yes, Americans can be loud, brash, obnoxious, and ethnocentric. Still, this is a good country. And this election is a great step forward. Who wudda' thunk that my generation would see an African American not only the nominated candidate for one of the major parties but, according to early returns, looking like he will be elected (BBC is already projecting Obama as the winner). That's not a commitment for or against either candidate.

I hope you were able to vote today.

BTW, did you see the Google logo today?

Run well, y'all,

04 October 2008

Listen to Yourself ... Vote ... It's Your Duty

I would rather not have the salty language, but Craig Ferguson has a great message in this clip about voting. WARNING: 4-letter (and 3-letter) words are used, words you don't want your children mimicking (and that some of you won't want to mimic either):

Run well -- and vote -- y'all,

Good, Hard Run

Temperatures in the 40-50° F range are perfect for running as far as I'm concerned. For this morning's group run at 7:00, it was 48° and 90% humidity. Three of us averaged an 8:08 mpm pace for 9.2 miles (well, OK, the 3 of us ran 8 together and I did the extra to and from the start).
Four straight days of 7:52-8:07 mpm runs of 5.5-9.2 miles have been a really good mental boost after I ran out of gas in the half marathon last Saturday. They've been good confidence builders.

BTW, have you seen the new movie, Fireproof? We went this afternoon and it's a really good reminder of how important it is to work at one's marriage. A good, clean movie with a message. It does have a strong Christian viewpoint (with which I totally agree but it will be over the top for some folks). Here's a widget that includes a trailer and other information about the movie:

Enjoy the Fall weather and ...

Run well, y'all,

02 October 2008

Fall Is Back!

What a great morning for a run -- 47° when I left, 46° when I finished. I LOVE fall. After an 8:05 mpm 7.5-miler yesterday, I didn't know if I could do another "fast" run or not. But, my body said, "Go!", so I did and did 5.3 miles at a pace of 7:52 mpm. I must say that my runs yesterday and today help me realize that Saturday's half marathon time was probably just a "one of those days" kind of run.

Run well, y'all,

28 September 2008

Dragging Across the Finish at Maymont X-Terra

Well, I finished the Maymont (Richmond) X-Terra Half Marathon though it would be more accurate, perhaps, to say that it finished me. I didn't have an awful time at all but I really struggled after mile 7. I finished in 2:01:25 (14th in Men 50-54, 215th overall). The time was disappointing because I had run this same race last year in 1:49:xx and had run another half marathon 5 weeks ago in 1:53:xx.

I'm not sure what happened. I had drunk about 22 ounces of water within about 2 hours prior to the race and drank about 30-36 ounces of Gatorade/Powerade/water during the race. Maybe I wasn't hydrated enough because after I finished I drank another 24 ounces of Powerade and 24 ounces of water. The humidity was high -- 98% -- so, even though the temperature was around 68°, I was sweating buckets-full.

I had a whole wheat bagel and banana about an hour before the race, one Shot Blok about 15 minutes before, and a Gu-like gel at mile 7. So, I think I had enough carbs/electrolytes.

I had run 14.4 miles last Saturday (at 8:07 mpm) but cut back on mileage last week and felt fresh and ready to go at the beginning of the race.

At any rate, I just ran out of gas after mile 7 and walked a lot during the last half.

Anyway, I'm disappointed but also know that those days just happen somtimes. But, if anyone has a suggestion(s) for me, I'm all ears.

Run well, y'all,

23 September 2008

Taper to Maymont X-Terra

Last tempo run before Saturday's Maymont X-Terra Half. I hadn't done a tempo run in 4-5 weeks (I should have but....). The training plan called for 5 miles -- 1 warm-up, 3 tempo, 1 cool down. Here are the splits:
1.00 x 8:50.32
1.00 x 7:40.10
1.00 x 7:28.59
1.00 x 7:20.06
1.26 x 10:12.30 (8:05.95 mpm)

I'm pleased. I'm as ready for this half, physically and mentally, as I can be. Now, if it just isn't raining Saturday morning because that will make for some nasty trail sections.

Run well, y'all,

20 September 2008

Great Run!

It's been a long time since I posted anything about running. Mostly, it's because I've been really bummed about running lately. I've felt like I was regressing -- every run, even the short ones, seemed hard. Well, today was different -- a total of 14.4 miles (3 segments of 0.67, 8.13, and 5.6 miles) at an average pace of 8:07 mpm. I was with a group of 4 for the 8.13 miles segment and we did the 8th mile at about 7:12 -- the one with the Garmin said we hit <6:45 at one point. YES!!

Next Saturday, I'm running the Maymont X-Terra Half Marathon and today's run was a real mental boost for me.

Of course, the weather probably had something to do with the run. It was 50° when we headed out and had hit a blazing 58° when I finished. What a relief after the summer weather. Predictions are a mid-50's start for next Saturday.

Run well, y'all,

13 September 2008

Free Online File Storage

NOTE: This offer is due to expire today, 15 September 2008.

While I would be very cautious about storing sensitive information on this site (or any online storage site, for that matter), the deal is pretty hard to beat. (DISCLAIMER: I, of course, can and will take NO responsibility for your experience with FileSavr. I'm passing on information that I learned from the web site, The Consumerist. Try and use this at your own risk. As always, have a healthy scepticism regarding spam, viruses, worms, privacy, etc. Having said that, since signing up a couple of days ago, I have received no spam that can be traced back to this site.)

Click here to get to the free sign-up: FileSavr

Here's the content of the free sign-up page:
Free Accounts for Bloggers and Digg Users

FileSavr.com was created as a fresh alternative to sites like MegaUpload and RapidShare. Unlike those sites, we do not reel the user in and make them wait for annoying countdown timers. We do not hide the download link with aggressively placed ads. Our goal is simple, to offer the most basic file hosting and image hosting service so you can share your stuff quickly.

As a thank you to the community we are offering free accounts on FileSavr.com to bloggers as well as members of Digg, Stumble, Reddit, Mixx, Del.icio.us. To get your free account fill out the form below to receive to get $10 monthly account (250 GB) absolutely free. Accounts created before September 15th will have lifetime membership for free. If you like the service we hope you will help us with small donations via paypal.

Offer expires September 15th. WARNING: The service is very slow due to extreme demand right now.

Run well, y'all,

08 September 2008

Snow on the Equator

Earlier reports said that this freakish weather phenomenom was hail and I think that's much more likely than snow -- the temperature would not have been cold enough for any real snow to accumulate. Even so, it's quite a unique event for Kenya and I can easily imagine the surprise and delight of the Kenyans who saw it:

Run well, y'all,

28 August 2008

History Being Made

What an interesting week. Whether one believes Barak Obama is the leader for the next 4-8 years or one vehemently opposes his policies and dreams for this country, it is hard to deny that yesterday was an historic day for the United States of America. Having grown up in the south (South Carolina) in the midst of all the racial tensions of the 60's, I never thought that an African-American could be nominated as one of the two major candidates for President. But, it has been done and there's a good chance that Barak Obama will be elected in November.

I'm proud that America has reached this stage in our history and pray that, in the midst of all the negativity of this campaign, this step represents a huge leap forward in race relations in our country. We are all Americans and we need to act like it.

Do not take this as a political statement either in support of or in opposition to Barak Obama. I'm just happy this has happened in my lifetime.

Run well, y'all (good advice for politicians),

27 August 2008

Ryan Hall's Passion for Running and for Jesus

Interesting video of Ryan Hall. Ryan believes that his ability to run is from God. Therefore, running his best is Ryan's gift back to God.

Run well, y'all,

24 August 2008

Kenya's First Marathon Gold

Did you watch the Olympic men's marathon last night? What a race! I was 1/3 correct in my predictions -- I had said Kenyans would take 1st and 2nd and Hall would take 3rd. Kenya's Samuel Kamau Wanjiru took the gold in style, beating the previous Olympic record by a whopping 3 minutes.

Hall's 10th place finish was surprising and perplexing at first. But, on reflection, it's not that the Americans ran poorly -- Wanjiru and Kabede ran incredibly well. Given the weather (75-85° and 50%+ humidity), it seemed that nobody except the lead group expected a 2:06 finish. The commentators even said that Hall and his coach were shooting for a 2:09 and that the normal Olympic marathon was closer to 2:12.

One of the reasons that led me to think Hall would finish no higher than 3rd is his age and experience. I thought he needed a few more years and a few more marathons to hit his peak. Well, Wanjiru and Kebede blew that theory out of the water. Both are 21 years old and Wanjiru, at least, had only run 2 previous marathons.

Interesting Olympics with some no-brainer winners faltering -- Bernard Lagat, men's and women's 4X100 relay teams, Tyson Gay; some 'old guys' doing really well -- Dara Torres and Constantina Tomescu; Kenya, despite its dominance in distance running, taking its first ever gold in the marathon; and, of course, Michael Phelps' 8 golds, 7 world records (more impressive, I think, than even the 8 golds), and 1 Olympic record.

It sets up an interesting Olympics in 2012 in London. Speaking of 2012, if you're not a fan of NPR and/or didn't listen to All Things Considered on Friday, you missed a classic example of British self-deprecating humour (the spelling is a recognition of British spelling, not a typo). Go to this link, Imagining The 2012 London Games, and click on Listen Now for a light-hearted look ahead.

Run well, y'all,

23 August 2008

In the Books -- Patrick Henry Half Marathon

Well, it's over. I ran the 2nd annual Patrick Henry Half Marathon in Ashland, VA this morning. Starting temperature was somewhere around 65°, so not bad at all.

And this was a well-run race. They cap entrants at 1500 but only had about 1000 register. The pre-race stuff was relaxed but efficient -- at least 13 porta-johns, bib/chip pick-up was smooth, and they used disposable chips. The course and finish were done right, too -- 8 (I think) water/Powerade stations, Gu's at either mile 8 or 9, very cold and wet towels at the finish (that was WONDERFUL!), best finisher's technical shirt that I've seen, people handing us a bottle of ice cold water at the finish line, great selection of post-race food, very quick posting of finish times (my watch matched their chip time perfectly).

Three of us who have trained together decided we would try to go out at 8:30 mpm and then see how we felt. Well, adrenaline took over and we went out at 8:15 mpm, maintaining that for 7 miles. Though I really felt like I should have been able to maintain that pace, I slowed down. Still, I did fine for 9 miles but really hit the wall and ended up walking more than I wanted to do over the next 3 miles. I was able to pick it back up in the last 1.1 miles to an 8:36 mpm pace and finished in 1:53.10. Seeing my wife and daughter with their neon sign at about mile 12.8 was a real boost and, as you can see, I was even able to smile.

I'm happy with that time. There were times during the training when I wondered if I would even be able to break 2 hours. However, I still think I can do better and am pondering what I need to change. I didn't hurt -- I was just tired during miles 10-12. I had eaten a Gu before the race and had, by mile 10, eaten 2 Shot Bloks and drunk 16-20 oz of Gatorade. Maybe I need to eat another Gu at mile 7 or so. I'll keep experimenting.

Next up -- perhaps the Maymont X-Terra Half Marathon at the end of September. However, at mile 10, I found myself thinking, And why am I considering the Maymont again?

Enough (OK, yeah, too much). This evening I plan to watch Ryan Hall take on the Olympic Marathon. I'm still predicting bronze for him with the Kenyans taking gold and silver (Ryan gets gold in 2012) but one of my running companions today thought Ryan might even break 2 hours for the marathon. Now, that would be something!

Run well, y'all,

22 August 2008

Mourning the Loss of a Good African

I pondered the wording of the title of this blog. We tend to toss around superlatives so much that they have lost their meaning. Still, I wondered, as I post about the death of President Levy Mwanawasa of Zambia, is "good" the right adjective. I started to say "great". In choosing not to use that word, I in no way want to imply that President Mwanawasa was not great. I think he was but "great" seemed to me to refer more to what someone has done rather than to his character. And I want to honour President Mwanawasa for who he was, not for what he has done (though he has done a lot).

At the same time, to say "a Good African" could be interpreted to mean either that I think there are no "good Africans" other than Mwanawasa or that a "good African" is so rare that Mwanawasa is an exception. While I think President Mwanawasa is an exception when compared to many, many African leaders, there are multitudes of "good Africans". After living in Kenya for more than 18 years, I know many of those "good Africans" and count them as dear friends and co-labourers.

So, the title should not be read as if I am denigrating President Mwanawasa's greatness or as if I am comparing him to others. It's intended to simply be a statement of my opinion of one man's character.

As president of Zambia since 2002, President Mwanawasa gave every evidence of wanting to improve the lot of the ordinary Zambian rather than wanting to improve the bottom line of his bank account. He seemed genuinely interested in rooting out corruption in his government; he was supportive of efforts to fight HIV/AIDS in Zambia and lent the weight of his office and his personality to the only sure way to prevent sexually transmitted HIV, abstinence until marriage and faithfulness after marriage; he looked for ways to improve the daily life of Zambians through clean water and care for orphans. Was he successful? Not completely -- that is a gargantuan task in any African country given the patterns of corruption and self-centeredness on the continent. But he tried and progress was made. All of those efforts were fueled by his heart, his concern for the people. And that's where his goodness shows.

In or about 2003, President Mwanawasa determined to follow Jesus as Lord of his life. From all appearances, that decision was sincere and he followed through, setting aside a rhttp://www2.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifegular time to meet with his pastor and other members of his church for Bible study and prayer. That seems to have been the motivator of all of his efforts on behalf of Zambians. Not a perfect man -- no one of us is -- nor a man without his critics but a man who seemed, at least to this outsider, to be a good man who was an African.

News articles about President Mwanawasa:

Africa Continent's Legacy: The Levy Mwanawasa Pill
The Guardian
Southwestern Mourns the Death of Zambian President
Mwanawasa Slams Drug Takers
Obituary: Zambia's Levy Mwanawasa

Run well, y'all (both in life and on the road/trail),

19 August 2008

The Forgotten US Olympic Hero

Have you ever heard of Ray Ewry? No? Well, I hadn't either and you won't likely hear this story on NBC/CNBC. (Well, maybe you will since I found Ray's picture on the official site of the Beijing Olympics.)

Monday morning, while we were talking about Michael Phelps' tremendous accomplishment in winning 8 gold medals in this Olympics and 14 total gold medals, my Administrative Assistant said that she had seen that Carl Lewis and company (Mark Spitz, US swimmer; Larysa Latynina, Russian gymnist; and Paavo Nurmi, Finnish track and field) had won 9 golds each but that there was someone who had won 10. Being the brilliant, gifted statistician and Olympic historian idiot that I am, I adamantly stated that she was just wrong. (Is it even possible for a man to be right?) She set out to prove herself right while I set out to prove her wrong. I was faster and proved my ... ignorance, sort of.

That's when I learned about Ray Ewry. Read his incredible story here. He contracted polio when he was 7 years old and was told he would never walk. Nobody counted on the fact that Ray WANTED to walk and had a strong enough will to make it happen. He did far more than walk.
He broke world records in standing high jump, standing long jump and standing triple jump (also known as the 'hop, step and jump'). He moved to New Jersey in '99 and joined the New York Athletic Club, whose members had watched the inaugural Athens Games in 1896 with deep interest. Back then the Olympics were no more than a fledgling sideshow. The NYAC wanted the Games to succeed. In '00, they would send their best to Paris. They would send Ray.

On July 16, 1900, Ewry entered the standing high jump competition. He took one step and bounced 5 feet, 5 inches. That's 65 inches, with no run-up. The Parisians gaped. Then, in the standing long jump, Ewry flew 10 feet, 10 inches. More gasps and claps and cheers. And in the standing triple jump, Ray covered 34 feet, 8½ inches. The American was a spectacle. He could leap feet backward from a standing start, but that was not an Olympic sport. Neither was kicking the ceiling, which Ray could also do somehow. No matter to the French. By the end of the fortnight, they had named Ewry "The Human Frog."
Ewry won 3 golds in 1900, 3 more in 1904, 2 more in 1906 (more on that later), and 2 more in 1908. He planned to participate in the 1912 Olympics but couldn't compete because of pain from an old college injury. He retired with 10 Olympic golds. More than that, he set a record that will never be broken:
He won four straight championships in each of two events -- a mark that might never fall. No other Olympian in history has won as many gold medals without losing a single competition [until Phelps].
So, what about the 1906 Olympic Games? It seems that they were the result of an attempt to create a compromise between Greece, who wanted all Olympic Games to be hosted in Greece, and the founder of the IOC, who did not. So, Intercalated Games were created for the in-between years. The 1906 IG's were a success but the 1910 IG's were not and the Intercalated Games were abandoned.

Eventually, the IOC determined to downgrade all records set and medals won at the 1906 IG's:
Since the 2nd International Olympic Games in Athens now had become an exception, the personal views of various IOC chairmen caused the IOC to retroactively downgrade the 1906 games, and the explanation for the games became that they had been a 10th anniversary celebration. As more stress was placed on the continuing sequence of four-year Olympiads, the games of 1906 did not fit in. Hence, today the IOC does not recognize Athens 1906 as Olympic Games, and does not regard any events occurring there, such as the setting of new records or the winning of medals, as official.

The success of Athens 1906, however, may have been what kept the Olympics alive. And as the next games are always built on the successes of the last, the innovations of Athens were used again in London, and eventually became Olympic tradition. In fact, the influence of the First Intercalated Games pervades the Olympics, with the holding of the Games concentrated in a small time period, at a small area, and with good organization. To a large number of people these are good enough reasons to continue pressing the IOC to recognise the 1906 games.
Michael Phelps is now the king of gold, but before last week, an unknown hero reigned. Ray Ewry was not just a hero in athletics but could easily stand as a hero to all who face unconquerable barriers with a determination to overcome those barriers.

Uwe hodari na moyo wa ushujaa -- Be strong and courageous.... (Joshua 1:6, 7, 9)

To quote Paul Harvey: And now you know the rest of the story.

Run (and jump) well, y'all,

Summarizing the Research on Diet, Exercise and Nutrition

Granted, a rather pedantic blog title, Summarizing the Research on Diet, Exercise and Nutrition. But, this morning, the Diet Blog posted a bit on some summaries of a large number of studies that have been conducted on diet, exercise and nutrition. The summaries are based on the work of The Cochrane Collaboration which...
...is an international, non-profit, independent organisation, established to ensure that up-to-date, accurate information about the effects of healthcare interventions is readily available worldwide. It produces and disseminates systematic reviews of healthcare interventions, and promotes the search for evidence in the form of clinical trials and other studies of the effects of interventions....Cochrane Reviews are systematic assessments of evidence of the effects of healthcare interventions, intended to help people to make informed decisions about health care, their own or someone else's. Cochrane Reviews are needed to help ensure that healthcare decisions throughout the world can be informed by high quality, timely research evidence.

I found Diet Blog's summaries interesting on a couple of levels. First, some of the summaries -- notably Exercise for overweight or obesity and Low glycemic index/Load diets for overweight and obesity -- supported theories with which I already agreed and for which I already had personal anecdotal evidence (a high-falutin' way of saying, They worked for me). Others show evidence that something I'm doing may be a waste of effort and money -- for instance, Omega 3 fatty acids for prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease (maybe I'm wasting my money on the fish oil capsule I take each day??).

One of these days, maybe I'll get around to actually reading the Cochrane Collaboration's documents for myself. In the meantime, I'm going to think about the advisability of not spending money on fish oil capsules.

What do you think?

Half Marathon weekend coming up. I'm tapering this week -- 4 moderate miles yesterday, 4.4 moderate miles today, 5 easy miles tomorrow, and a 5-mile tempo run on Thursday. I may do a very easy 2 miles on Friday just to keep loose -- but I may not.

Run well, y'all,

18 August 2008

Now I Know Why

One of the ladies who works in our office sent me a list of 21 interesting facts about the human body. This one caught my attention:
You use 200 muscles to take one step.
If your stride rate while running is the (supposed) optimal 90 strides per minutes (180 steps), then you take 10800 steps in a 60 minute run and use a cumulative total of 2,160,000 muscles (200 muscles, 10800 times). No wonder I hurt after running a 10K!

Here's the full list of 21 facts. I haven't checked the veracity of any of them, simply passing on something interesting -- that's how urban legends get started:

The human body is a machine that is full of wonder. This collection of human body facts will leave you wondering why in the heck we were designed the way we were.

1.. Scientists say the higher your I.Q. The more you dream.
2.. The largest cell in the human body is the female egg.
3.. The smallest is the male sperm.
4.. You use 200 muscles to take one step.
5.. The average woman is 5 inches shorter than the average man.
6.. Your big toes have two bones each while the rest have three.
7.. A pair of human feet contain 250,000 sweat glands.
8.. A full bladder is roughly the size of a soft ball..
9.. The acid in your stomach is strong enough to dissolve razor blades.
10.. The human brain cell can hold 5 times as much information as the Encyclopedia Brit annica.
11.. It takes the food seven seconds to get from your mouth to your stomach.
12.. The average human dream lasts 2-3 seconds.
13.. Men without hair on their chests are more likely to get cirrhosis of the liver than men with hair.
14... At the moment of conception, you spent about half an hour as a single cell.
15.. There is about one trillion bacteria on each of your feet.
16.. Your body gives off enough heat in 30 minutes to bring half a gallon of water to a boil.
17.. The enamel in your teeth is the hardest substance in your body.
18.. Your teeth start developing (in your gums) 6 months before you are born.
19.. When you are looking at someone you love, your pupils dilate, they do the same when you are looking at someone you hate.
20.. Blondes have more hair than dark-haired people.
21.. Your thumb is the same length as your nose.
22.. At this very moment I know full well you are putting this last fact to the test ... now remove your thumb from your nose and pass this on to the friends you think might be interested in comparing their thumbs to their noses as well.

You did it -- I KNOW you did !!!!!

Run well, y'all,

16 August 2008

Last Long Before Half (and Move a Million Miles)

Move A Million Miles to support Ryan Hall in his quest for Olympic Marathon Gold in Beijing
Today was the last longish run before the Patrick Henry Half Marathon next weekend. It wasn't too bad -- 8.2 miles at 8:22 mpm. The weather has been better the last few days and is predicted to be just as moderate for the next week. I wouldn't mind a 65° temperature at start time on Saturday. :)

Also, at some point in the last week, the Move a Million Miles for Ryan Hall project passed the 1 million mile mark. As of 8:35 this morning, 3258 people had recorded 1,398,833 miles (433 of those were mine).

Ryan Hall and Michael Phelps were topics of discussion on our run this morning.

If you didn't see Phelps' 7th gold medal 100 m butterfly race last night, you missed one dramatic finish! [Washington Post article or NBC's video -- if you can watch the video, the reactions of Phelps' mother of the man in front of her are priceless] The commentators called it a fingernail finish -- .01 seconds separated Phelps from Cavic. I went to bed right after that but learned, after my run this morning, that Serbia had disputed the ruling. But, the officials watched their very high definition video and ruled that Phelps had won. Amazingly, Phelps was in 7th place when he turned at the halfway point. Frankly, it did seem impossible that Phelps had won because Cavic had his arms stretched to the wall while Phelps' arms were still moving forward above the water. But, Cavic 'coasted' in while Phelps took a final half-stroke and that push was the difference.

Do you think Ryan Hall will win the marathon next Saturday? That was the question we started our run with this morning. I am a big Ryan Hall fan both for his incredible running and for his genuine faith in Christ. I would love to see him win, but I'm predicting a bronze medal for him in this Olympics. (Maybe I'll get to eat my words!) I think he has a real shot at gold in 2012 but I think the Kenyans will take gold and silver in 2008. Having lived in Kenya for 18.5 years, I'll be almost as happy about that outcome as I will be if Hall wins. Who do you think will win the men's marathon?

Women's Marathon: Saturday, 16 August, 7:30 pm EDT, NBC
Men's Marathon: Saturday, 23 August, 7:30 pm EDT, NBC

Run well, y'all,

15 August 2008

Want to Live a Long Life? Run.

Now here's the kind of news that makes me happy! Read the whole article here.

Here are some key (read "interesting to me") findings from a Reuters' news article reporting a study published on Monday by Stanford University in California. All participants were 50 or older (I can relate):
... middle-aged members of a runner's club were half as likely to die over a 20-year period as people who did not run ... At [After] 19 years, 15 percent of runners had died compared with 34 percent of controls

Running reduced the risk not only of heart disease, but of cancer and neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's.

... runners exercised as much as 200 minutes a week, compared to 20 minutes for the non-runners.

... the runners groups continued to accumulate more minutes per week of vigorous activity of all kinds.

... people cannot use the risk of injury as an excuse not to run -- the runners had fewer injuries of all kinds, including to their knees.

So, get out there and run like your life depends on it -- well, actually, it does. I'm going out in the morning for 8 miles toward a healthier life.

Update: Saturday, 16 August, 8:21 pm

Dean Karnazes commented on this in his blog, Dean's Blog, on 12 August.

Run well, y'all,

13 August 2008

Crazy Walk

Now this would be a challenging run -- actually, it looks like a challenging walk!

Run well, y'all,

10 August 2008

8 on the 8th Report -- Greenville, SC

Short report. We traveled out of state to celebrate our son's wedding with our extended families. They got married in Cape Town, S Africa in early March and most of our family were not able to attend. So, our family and friends mostly live in the eastern half of the US, so we did one "reception" in South Carolina on Saturday. Her family is in Washington state so they fly to Seattle on Tuesday and will have the west coast reception next Saturday. Lots of fun -- got to spend some time with people who we hadn't seen for 4 years.

Anyway, all of that necessitated an adjustment of my training schedule for the half marathon in 2 weeks. I ran 12 miles on Friday morning. The hills in Greenville, SC are much worse that the ones I run in Richmond, VA. Still, it was a good run.

For the 8 on the 8th race, I opted to use the average of miles 2-12 to calculate my 8 mile time since I forgot to mark my time for miles 2-9 (my first mile of a training run is always slow so that I can warm up). With that caveat (and with the assumption that our wonderful, understanding race director will allow my calculations) and reminding myself that this race was 8 miles out of a total of 12 (thus, a bit slower than normal), here's my result: 8 miles @ 8:31 mpm = 1 hour, 8 minutes, 9.9 seconds

Nancy, the race was well organized but I must say the 5:30 AM starting time was a little early and there weren't a lot of spectators out. Having a banana and a Gu (Chocolate w/caffeine) before my start and being able to pick up 22 oz of Gatorade Freeze and a package of Shot Bloks as I walked to the starting line was wonderful. Then, my support team was in place at the end with about a quart of ice water. So, you really did outdo yourself with the organization. Thanks.

Run well, y'all,

28 July 2008

On the Track

The most difficult part of my training plans for my last 3 races (half marathon, 10K, and another half marathon now) has been the speedwork. I've never been fast and really struggle to meet the training goals (which is exactly why I need the track work in my training plans). The plan for speedwork this week called for 8 miles, including 4 x 1600m @6:56 mpm and 800m jogs between repeats. The high school track, Godwin High School, is 2 miles from our house, so I did my warm up and cool down to and from the school.

The first two 1600m repeats went well. Then, I really struggled on the third repeat and ended up breaking it up into 3 segments with 200m jogs in between. However, I managed to complete the last repeat. It is amazing to me how much difference just a few seconds per mile makes in how I feel on these repeats.

1.7942 mi x 16:30.39
1600m x 7:03.52 (+7.52 seconds)
800m x 4:41.57 -- Jog
1600m x 6:53.47 (-2.53 seconds)
800m x 5:17.28 -- Jog
850m x 3:36.67 3rd repeat, segment 1
200m x 1:40.18 -- Jog
400m x 1:44.36 3rd repeat, segment 2
200m x 1:44.08 -- Jog
350m x 1:23.94 3rd repeat, segment 3 (-11.03 seconds total for the 3 segments)
800m x 5:37.54 -- Jog
1600m x 7:08.32 (+14.32 seconds)
1.7942 mi x 16:27.08

Glad those are behind me for the week. The rest of the week will be a couple of 4 mile runs, a 7 miler, and then an 8-12 miler on Saturday.

Run well, y'all,

26 July 2008

Sticky Ideas: 8 x 8 Water

This kind of falls in the interesting things I found while surfing but should have been doing something else category.

One of the persistent bits of common health knowledge is the idea that one should drink 8 8-ounce glasses of water every day in order to be healthy (other iterations of this common knowledge say anywhere from 6-10 glasses or more). Another persistent bit of common knowledge is that caffeinated drinks don't count toward that total since they cause dehydration rather than prevent it.

One of the best books that I've read in a long time is Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. Their blog, though not updated regularly, is a regular stopping point for me.

On 15 July, Dan posted a short bit on the 8 x 8 water idea and pronounced it an urban legend, albeit a very sticky one. He pointed to an article in the online journal Slate that reported on a study debunking the idea (this link downloads/opens a PDF file) from the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, traced the history of the idea, and included a link to a Snopes.com article on the urban legend.

Granted, runners and others who exercise or sweat profusely, need to watch their fluid intake. But, it seems that what we have long taken as absolute truth (8 8-ounce glasses of water per day for everybody) is taken by many to be false -- an urban legend that has persisted for hundreds of years.

Run well, y'all (and hydrate smart),

MInd: 2 for 3

After my awful 13.1 mile run last week and then reading all the posts on the Runners' Lounge blog on the Tough Stuff, I made up my mind that I was going to do whatever it took to have a better run today -- scheduled 14.1 miler. So, I tried to hydrate well on Friday, get a decent night's sleep Friday night, focus on having a positive mental outlook, get a mantra, and run smart. It worked:
Hydration on Friday: at least 86 oz of liquids plus fruit
Sleep: 7 hours
Mental: I'm looking forward to this run.
Mantra: Uwe hodari na moyo wa ushujaa (Swahili from Joshua 1:6-9, Be strong and courageous)
Target pace was 8:47 and I ran at 8:49 and stayed with a group of 3 others

I felt very good through 11 miles -- in fact, I was surprised when we hit the 10 mile point. At mile 12, I was having to tell myself more often to be strong and courageous -- I really wanted to walk but decided that I had to run through the half marathon distance. Then, when we got to mile 13, there was only 1 mile remaining and I couldn't quit. I ran the full distance with the exception of the water stops. While I was as physically tired as last week, I felt so much better having gotten through the mental stuff that I don't feel nearly as badly.

So, out of the last 3 longer runs of 11, 13, and 14 miles, my mind has prevailed on the 11 and 14 mile runs. YES!!!

I actually ran 14.92 miles because I ran 0.75 miles to the start of the group run.

I hope your run today is just as good -- mind over body.

Run well, y'all,

24 July 2008

Tough Stuff: Hard Runs, Heat, Humidity

It's Take It and Run Thursday at Runner's Lounge. The topic for today is The Tough Stuff.

When it comes to running, I am a confirmed hater of heat and humidity. Trying to train over the last 2 months for an August 23 half marathon has been the most difficult period of running since I got serious about it 5 years ago. Frankly, it's been a little discouraging -- no, I'm not about to give up as I'm too mule-headed for that, but I think that's one reason I haven't posted a blog in about 2.5 weeks.

Just a fer instance: last Saturday was a scheduled 13.1 mile run with the half marathon training team. I woke up feeling good -- looking forward to the run and thinking I would do well. Even 70° and 84% humidity seemed doable. But, from the moment we started running, I was sluggish. By the time we hit mile 8, I was in bad shape (I was hydrating and had ingested a couple of Gu's). Even shorter runs have been hard -- a 6-miler on Tuesday and 4.5 miles today.

The toughest of the tough stuff for me? -- Track repeats, especially 1600m repeats at 90-95% max. (I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam, I am. -- Not sure why, but that Seuss quote seemed appropriate.)

I've decided there are several factors that are probably a part of this and I'm going to try to work on them over the next 4 weeks before the actual race:

1. Heat and humidity: I have decided that some folks just handle it better than others. David, a college friend of mine, ran in temps that were upper 90's a few days ago. I've not even attempted anything over 80°. While I certainly can't control the weather, I am going to try to do a better job of hydrating well the day before a longish run. I already run early -- 5:15-5:30 AM start during the week and a 6:45 AM start on Saturday.

2. Overtraining: Coach Dean Hebert, blogger at Running Advice and News, posted a Q&A from a reader about hitting a plateau and digressing. The reader's symptoms were similar to mine (though I haven't struggled for 5 months) and one of Hebert's suggestions was that she was overtraining or that her training was stale, too consistent. I can implement some of the suggestions. In fact, I did that today -- I backed off the mileage a bit, ran 4.5 miles rather than 6, and I added several relatively short fartleks during the run to break the steady pace.

3. Mental stamina: Part of my difficulty is that discouragement can be a cyclical downslide. My pride makes me think that every run should at least be good and I really expect every run to be better than the previous one. I know better than that, so, in the words of my favourite TV psychologist, Bob Newhart, "Stop it -- S-T-O-P, new word, I-T -- STOP IT!" As Benjamin Cheever said in Strides: "The runner's high is built on a foundation of runner's lows. The joy is often paid for in advance."

(You HAVE to watch the Newhart video but don't have a mouth full of food or beverage when you do. Word to the wise.)

Run well, y'all,

07 July 2008

5 Years Under My Belt

Today I completed 5 years of serious running. Mind you, by serious, I don't intend to give anyone even the faintest idea that I'm a good runner (I'm neither an elite runner nor the son of an elite runner). I simply mean that I've taken it seriously in terms of my own health and physical fitness -- I've run consistently (my wife would say obsessively) over a period of 60 months and have come to love it.

I began this journey on 9 July 2003 by walking, with my wife, 2.9 miles in 45 minutes. We gradually added a bit of jogging here and there. Eventually, we got to where we ran 2.5 miles together before I split off to do another 2+ and she ran a bit more and cooled off. I loved that time together and was very sorry for that time to end. Thankfully, it hasn't ended completely, though. My wife completed the Richmond 10K this year (You go, girl!) and I looped back after I finished and did the last half again with her. Notice -- the picture was taken right at 6 miles and she's smiling.

I almost always run in the early morning but I completed the 5 years this evening with a very rare evening run -- 6.3 miles in 51:15 (8:07 mpm). The temperature was 80° and the humidity was 80%. I do not like running in that kind of weather -- give me 50° any day -- but I woke up this morning to a severe lightening storm and couldn't run (I'm obsessive but not completely wacky). In that 5 year period, I have run 6008 miles.
2003: 557 miles (Jul-Dec)
2004: 837 miles
2005: 924 miles
2006: 1364 miles
2007: 1453 miles
2008: 872 miles (Jan-today)

It took a full year to get to the point before I could stop saying simply, "I like the results of running" and I could say "I like running." My absolute favourite run, besides the times with my wife, was Chapman's Peak in Nordhoek, South Africa.

I hope to be running for 30 more years (or more). By then, of course, the 30 year olds will have to dodge my cane (as they blow by me).

Run well, y'all, and remember the milestones,

05 July 2008

Mountain Runs/Hikes, Long Run, and Cats on a Treadmill

A catch-up post. Sorry for the length.

I had a one-week reprieve from the humidity and heat of Richmond. Spent a great vacation week in Highlands, NC. The temperature when I ran in the mornings was 49-54° and the humidity was around 54%. It was wonderful. The mountain roads were not conducive to running as they were narrow, had many blind curves, and no verges on which to escape the traffic, so I drove into town and ran Highlands' sidewalks -- still was able to do a 6-miler and two 5-milers, one of which included hill repeats. It was great!

In addition, we took in the waterfalls that are in the area. The best were Glen Falls -- the elevation change was 700'+/-. The literature said it was a 1.4 mile trail, each way, but I think it had to be farther. Whitewater Falls were also awesome -- with a 411' drop, they are the highest falls in the US east of the Mississippi River. Anyway, 3 hikes and 3 runs was pretty good.

I don't want to bore you with home slides, but here are a few from the hikes:

Whitewater Falls

Glen Falls, 3rd falls -- Bob and Linda

Glen Falls, 4th falls

Crocodile in the Water! :)

Glen Falls Trail

Today was my long run -- 11.2 miles @ 8:28 mpm. The run itself was hard but the soreness (OK, pain) afterwards is worse. I'm experimenting with Gu's, Shot Bloks, and Gatorade. I had a Gu before running, ate a Shot Blok every 3 miles, and drank 20 oz of Gatorade over the 11 miles. I think it helped but I'm going to try a Shot Blok every 2 miles to see if it's better.

Now, the part you've been waiting for -- Deux chats sur un tapis roulant (Cats on a Treadmill -- at least I think that's what the French says). Merry, who wrote Thursday's post at Cranky Fitness, found this one. Being the good blogger that I am, I stole, ah, referenced her find. This is pretty funny -- much more fun than actually running on a treadmill!

Run well, y'all,

23 June 2008

Speedwork Suffering

I'm having trouble getting my track work done in preparation for the half marathon. The training plan today called for 7 miles total with easy warm-up and cool downs, 1600 meters x 3 @7:00 and 800 meter jogs between. I managed 1600 meters x 2 @ 6:53 and 6:55, 800 meters x 1 @3:27, and 400 meters x 1 @1:42, all with 800 meter jogs in between. I couldn't sustain what was to have been the 3rd 1600 meters. Not quite sure why I can't do this. The heat was tolerable today -- 69° and 71% humidity. I was well hydrated, drank Gatorade during each job, and had downed a Gu (chocolate) prior to running.

Maybe it's a function of age -- but I could do this 6 months ago. Perhaps it's because I swapped the easy week this week for next week's harder week because of vacation in the mountains next week -- did my legs (or my brain) just need the break? One consolation -- 3 weeks ago when I was supposed to do the same workout, I only did 1 1600 meter repeat and 1/4 of a lap on the 2nd 1600 repeat. I did improve.
1.9993 mi x 17:49.75 (easy warm-up)
1600 mt x 6:53.09
800 mt x 4:23.76 (jog)
1600 mt x 6:54.88
800 mt x 4:45.79 (jog)
800 mt x 3:26.86
400 mt x 2:47.15 (jog)
400 mt x 1:42.27
1.9993 mi x 17:36.24 (easy cool down)

Total run: 7.48 miles at an average pace of 8:52 mpm.

Run well, y'all,

21 June 2008

Embrace the Pain

Wednesday evening, the Half Marathon Training Team sponsored an injury prevention clinic with a local sports doctor, Dr. Dec. She commented that "Running hurts. Did anyone tell you that?" We all chuckled but it was a knowing chuckle. Running is great -- I love it. There are huge physical and emotional benefits but one does have to endure a certain amount of discomfort. I'm finding that, even after almost 5 years of steady running and after having tamed the 10-mile barrier, that longer runs and faster runs do leave me with some aches.

Looking ahead to today's Mayor's Marathon, the Anchorage Daily News posted an article yesterday on this very topic. Here's a excerpt -- the full story can be read here:
Prepare for pain.

The forecast for many of you 26.2-mile first-timers is partly miserable with occasional periods of suffering and a mild chance of legitimate anguish. Doesn't matter if you're a lickety-split type or someone who gets passed on training runs by people pushing strollers -- the marathon does not discriminate.

Still, it's important to embrace your agony. You've worked hard for this day -- if not, big bummer for you -- and you've no doubt persevered through some difficult training, so you have experience with excruciation. You're going to endure some bad patches Saturday, sure, but you'll be in good company.

While this article is in reference to a full marathon, the same holds true for a half marathon (at least for us mere mortals) -- even a good, hard 10K leaves me with some pain.

Ran 10 miles today -- 7 with the training team and then 3 more on my own. Pace was good, actually a little fast for the training plan, at 8:18 mpm. I've ended up running with 3-5 "young" guys when the group runs and they took me to the cleaners on mile 7 today. I console myself with the excuse that they were heading for the barn and I still had 3 more miles to go -- it makes me feel better. (grin) These guys are fun to run with (thanks to you all -- Hank, Todd, John, Chris, Drew) and we push each other to do just a little better each time we run.

Run well, y'all (and embrace the pain),

19 June 2008

Pushup Update and Hill

Andrew, at Andrew is Getting Fit, termed the 100 Pushup Challenge as not easy. That's an understatement. I think impossible is closer to the truth. I couldn't get through day 1!! (sad face) I did the first two sets (10 each set) and 2 pushups of the 3rd set with my arms and lats screaming at me the whole time -- still sore from the initial test. After the 2nd pushup of the 3rd set, I just collapsed. I'm a weak wimp -- oh, well, let's go for a long run.

Today was hill day (picture above is from the top looking down -- the white mailbox on the right is our finish line). Whoa! Pretty tough. Yeah, I know, it doesn't look that bad but that's the weakness of a 1-dimensional picture. Can a picture on a computer screen be 2-dimensional? Here are the results in order of fastest hill to slowest. Each uphill was about .13 miles with a climb of somewhere between 42' (gMap-Pedometer) and 60' (coach's Garmin) and was punctuated by a slow downhill:

# -- Seconds
6 -- 51.58
1 -- 51.72
5 -- 52.13
4 -- 52.52
3 -- 52.87
2 -- 53.39
Variance: 01.81 seconds between fastest and slowest

I've got a sore patella tendon -- it's not bad but I'm icing and taking a low dosage of ibuprophen. Hopefully by the end of the weekend, I'll have a Chopat strap (patella band) to use when I run for the next few weeks.

Run well, y'all,

17 June 2008

100 Pushup Challenge

How many pushups can you do? Steve Speirs suggests that no matter how many you can do (or not do) now, you could be doing 100 consecutive pushups in 6 weeks. That's pretty impressive. Will it work? I don't know but I'm going to try. I started with the initial test last night and managed to do 15. Week 1 begins on Wednesday -- the program is about 10 minutes, 3 times per week for 6 weeks. We'll see. I must admit, I'm skeptical.

Yesterday's tempo run left me tired today. Following my Runner's World plan, I only ran 4.6 miles at 8:03 mpm but, wow, they were 4.6 tough miles.

Run well, y'all,

16 June 2008

Up to Tempo

Are you posting your miles in support of Ryan Hall? Click below, register, and post.

Move A Million Miles to support Ryan Hall in his quest for Olympic Marathon Gold in Beijing

Tempo runs are so much more my "speed" than track work, either 800 meter or 1600 meter repeats. The one advantage of the track work is that I can pretty easily check my pace at short intervals -- every 100 meters or so. But, on the road, I am so bad at estimating my pace.

Today, I really wanted to stick closer to my target since I had 4 tempo miles to do. Oh, well. I guess if I can do them faster, it's not a real problem...

1.00 x 8:51.33 (warm-up)
1.00 x 7:25.56
1.00 x 7:18.89
1.00 x 7:04.83
1.00 x 7:32.69
1.11 x 9:10.71 (cool down)

Even with the cooler temperature this morning, I finished absolutely drenched.

Run well, ya'll,

14 June 2008

Dogwood Dell Run

Today's 9-and-change was so much better than last week's 10 miler. The difference? I think it was the lower humidity -- rather than 86%, it was 66%. This was the Saturday group run and I ran most of the way with Hank and Chris (thanks, guys). I stopped my watch for the 2 hydration points because I wanted to know the actual running time. Total time was 1:16:11 -- a pace of 8:19.8 mpm.

We went to Dogwood Dell to start -- part of the downtown park complex that includes Dogwood Dell, Byrd Park, and Northbank Park -- and ran through some of the older, historic parts of Richmond. The course was relatively flat (well, except for the nasty hill when we went over I-195 at about mile 8.5).

Here's hoping that your run today is just as satisfying.

Run well, y'all,

12 June 2008


What a difference 10° makes. After months of 120° at 5:30 AM -- OK, no, hyperbole alert! -- let's try that again, it just felt like months of 120°. After 4+ days of 74° and 84%+ humidity at 5:30 AM, this morning it was 64° and 83% humidity. It felt so good and I was so glad. I was scheduled to do my first ever hill workout with the Patrick Henry Half Marathon training group and doing that in the heat/humidity combination of the last several days was not going to be pleasant.

About 12 of us met up and did an easy 1 mile warm-up (9:42) and then began our hill workout. The hill was 0.13 miles with an elevation gain of roughly 60'. Based on the pace chart that had been distributed and my goal for the half, I was counting on doing the repeats at 1:16.4. But, having no idea how fast that really was, I just followed the coach. When we turned around at the top, we had done the hill in 53.16 -- hard but not a killer. I ended up doing 5 repeats and was tired but not totally exhausted. It was fun doing that with a group, too -- much better than it would have been by myself.

Here are the figures:
Up: 0:53.16
Down: 1:31.39
Up: 0.54.97
Down: 1:30.14
Up: 0:53.26
Down: 1:32.26
Up: 0:51.67
Down: 1:31.92
Up: 0:51.62

We ended with a .71 mile cool down. When I got home, I did an additional 2 miles to get a total of 4.9 miles at an overall average pace of 8:26 mpm.

After all my moaning yesterday, it looks like at least most of the bad of the last couple of weeks has been, in fact, the weather. I'm just no acclimated to summer mornings, yet.

Run well, y'all,

10 June 2008


I hope it's just this awful heat wave that's hit Virginia and surrounding states, but the last 10 days of running have been mostly awful. It's not really that my times have been bad -- yesterday, for instance, I did a 3 mile tempo run and averaged 7:11 mpm -- it's just that it's been really hard. These high temps and humidity did come on quickly, so maybe I just haven't acclimated, yet. Still, on Saturday, while trying to do 10 miles, I wasn't sure if I could keep this up.

I have tried to change my hydration to meet the heat challenge. For Saturday's 10-miler, I packed Gatorade -- 20 oz of Glacier Freeze (I guess -- it was pale blue) in a used (but clean) water bottle. The training team directors had also put out 2 water/gatorade (red) stops on the route and had water/gatorade at the finish. I still walked 2-3 times in the last mile. Maybe it's just mental.

Anyway, **if** anyone has been looking for a post from me since last Saturday (1 June), I was just too bummed about running to write.

I'm training for the Ashland (VA) Patrick Henry Half Marathon in late August (that should be a cool run -- NOT!). Here are my runs for the last 10 days:

Tuesday, 3 June: 6.4 miles @ 8:07 mpm
Wednesday, 4 June: 6.6 miles @ 8:03 mpm
Thursday, 5 June: 5.8 miles @ 8:55 mpm (was supposed to be 1600 m repeats @ 7:05)
Saturday, 7 June: 10.3 miles @ 8:41 mpm
Monday, 9 June: 5.3 miles @ 7:51 mpm
Tempo Splits:
1.00 x 8:41.73
1.00 x 7:15.08
1.00 x 7:13.05
1.00 x 7:05.98
1.26 x 10.59.49

Tuesday, 10 June: 4.6 miles @ 8:14 mpm

And, yes, I'm a wimp about heat. The morning figures when I've run have been 73-74° with 81-88% humidity -- even to me, that doesn't sound blistering. I come in the house, though, looking like I've been swimming and forgot to take a towel!

Run well, y'all,

01 June 2008

Miscellaneous: Dehydration, Weight Loss

Yesterday was my first run with the local YMCA training group for the Patrick Henry Half Marathon in late August. The group was running 6.1 miles and it was a good run (8:11 mpm pace) -- I enjoyed the miles and the conversations. I met a group of guys who run on Wednesday mornings at 5:30 and they invited me to join them. That should be just the motivation I need to get over my "Wednesday 'Don't-Wanna's'".

After I ran with the group, I headed out for an additional 4 miles (my Runner's World training plan called for a 10 mile long run). Whoa! Summer is here. The first couple of miles of the extra weren't bad but by the time I hit mile 3, I was wiped out. I ended up with a pace of 8:44 mpm for that 4 miles and walked a couple of times.

I think I just hadn't drunk enough water for the weather (75° or so by that time and 80%+ humidity) and probably was low on sodium and electrolytes. Yeah, I know, 75° is not hot for many folks, but it is for me. "Perfect", for me, is 45-55° and I even like running when it's 30-45°. I think I'm going to have to carry something like Gatorade or Powerade for my longer runs for the next few months. I felt drained all day and I've been doing 10-mile runs for a number of months.

Viv at the blog, I'm Not Fit to Run, is sponsoring an Independence Weight Loss Challenge. I need to get rid of 5-10 pounds and thought this might be just the thing to spur me on. If a little virtual competition would help you, check it out. The deadline for sending in your initial weight is today, Sunday, 1 June.

Run well (and hydrated), y'all,

26 May 2008

Decadent Indulgence

(or, How to Kill Yourself in 1 Quart)

Weighty Matters is a good, general health blog written by a Canadian physician, Yoni Freedhoff, who wants to ferret out the truth about weight and health. He's a good blogger -- entertaining and unafraid to speak his mind about health.

In today's blog, he spotlights Baskin-Robbins' (large -- 32 oz) Heath® Shake. Check out that monster! A single serving (32 fl. oz.) contains 2310 calories, 2.5g trans fat, 1560mg sodium, and 266g sugar (Freedhoff says that's 66.5 teaspoons or 1.5 cups of sugar). Check the ingredients' list -- sugar, corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup are featured multiple times.

When I read that to my wife, her comment was, "That much sugar in a milk shake would kill you!" Yeah, eventually that much sugar could well do it.

Run (and eat) well (and smart), y'all,

25 May 2008

Update: Move a Million Miles

Move A Million Miles to support Ryan Hall in his quest for Olympic Marathon Gold in Beijing

Reid, blogging at Life Strides, is trying to collect a group of blogging runners who would report their miles as a group in support of Ryan Hall (no money involved). If interested, click on over to his blog, Life Strides, and leave a comment.

We also need a lot more runners to sign up for the campaign. The current stats are below but expecting to get 5 miles per day (35 miles per week) from each runner is unrealistic since the current average miles per day per participant is less than 1. Consider clicking on the banner above and joining this effort.

Total Miles Moved: 201,096
Total Current Participants: 1628
Average Miles per Day per Current Participant: 0.85
Top Group: BBHS Track Team, 8,828 mi.
Total Miles Remaining: 798,904
Number of Days Remaining: 90
Average Miles Remaining per Day: 8,877
Necessary Miles per Day per Current Participant: 5

Run well, y'all,