30 April 2009


After yesterday's run, my right hamstring was a little sore. Got up this morning -- hamstring felt better and it was 53° (way better than the 60°+ of the last several days), so I headed out to see what might happen. I chose a route that kept me within a mile and a half of home for the first 3 miles in case my hamstring acted up but also gave me the option of going 7+ if everything was OK.

Mile 1: no problem, in fact most of the soreness went away.

Mile 2: no problem

Mile 3: no problem until the 2.6 mile point. I was going up a slight hill (not the first one) and all of a sudden -- BAM! -- I got spiced by Emeril!

Oh, wait, no, I was running, not watching Food Network. ...all of a sudden -- BAM! -- my hamstring started seizing up. I tried slowing down but it did no good. So, I stopped and gently stretched my hamstring. It eased off and I tried running gently -- after just a few strides, it seized up again. Walked a bit and tried again. It's odd -- I could run a few strides and then swinging my right leg forward would be painful. Walking, on the other hand, cause only very mild soreness.

So, I walked the rest of the 1 mile home (OK, a few jogging strides here and there).

I am bummed but I'm going to lay off running for a couple of days. If my leg feels OK Saturday morning, I may try a couple of miles (yeah, I know, I should just forget it ... until at least Sunday). Seriously, I am bummed. Looks like my early mornings (and evenings) will be spent with ice on my hamstring.

Run well, y'all,

25 April 2009

Exercise and Don't Sit

So, maybe this is one reason I'm having trouble losing the extra 10+/- pounds I'm carrying. The study, reported on Runner's World's web site, doesn't mention weight, just mortality but ...

It's Not Enough To Exercise; You Need To Stop Sitting Too
We first mentioned the new science of inactivity physiology just a month or two ago. Now a major research center has produced a study giving a strong boost to inactivity physiology. They did this by studying mortality rates among more than 17,000 Canadians for an average of 12 years. The results showed a linear relationship between sitting time and mortality rates. This was true for exercisers as well as non-exercisers. Conclusion: "In addition to the promotion of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and a healthy weight, physicians should discourage sitting for extended periods." Source: Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise. More
I think I need to get up and walk around more often when I'm in the office!

I hadn't planned to run today -- I usually take Sunday off after a long Saturday run. But, I woke up early and thought, Why not? So, I left planning to do 4.7 -- basically an out-and-back. But, at the halfway point, I thought, Wait, I'm not training for anything, I have some time, and Linda (my wife) is unlikely to need to find me. Let's do something different and unplanned. So, I turned right where I had planned to turn left. Ended up doing 5.7 miles. I really had intended to take it easy at about 8:30-8:45 mpm. But, when I figured out my pace, it was 8:09. Maybe I'm still reaping the benfits of running last week at 5500' above sea level.

Run well, y'all -- and sit less,

Who Turned Up the Heat!?

Summer -- go away ... NOW! Aihhh! This morning summer descended. OK, I realize that 67° is tolerable ... when you've had the chance to acclimate and when it wasn't 48° two days ago and 40° yesterday. Drew and I headed out at 6:00am to do 13.1. We wimped out and cut just under 2 miles out. I ended up doing 11.4 miles at an 8:36 mpm pace. It was tough but doable but I oh, so prefer 35°-55° for running.

This weekend, our church is celebrating its 20th anniversary. They decided to do a Gayton Gives Back event and do community service from 9-12. So, I finished my run, took a (relatively) quick shower, wolfed down breakfast and then pulled wire grass out of flower beds at an assisted living center for about 2.5 hours. Then, home for lunch and out to cut our yard full of weeds grass. Now I'm drinking a mug of chai, reading blogs, talking with my wife and daughter, and watching the Food Network. Heading back to the church in about 30 minutes for a BBQ dinner.

I think I'll sleep well tonight!

Run well, y'all,

15 April 2009

Good Idea: Hotel Safe

This may be old hat in South Africa and in Europe, but I thought it
was a really good idea. It's always a dilemma to decide what to do
with valuables in hotels in Africa. While the vast majority of hotel
staff members are hard working, honest folks, theft from rooms is a
real problem. And, it's a real pain to decide what to do with things
like a camera, laptop, and other items when you go eat or to the pool/
beach or wherever.

Well, this is the solution offered by the Birchwood Hotel in
Johannesburg, South Africa -- they turned their walk-in closets into
safes. There is a steel gate with an electronic lock on each closet.
You key in your own 4-digit code, close the door, and kumbe, your
stuff is locked up. I wouldn't mind having a closet designed like this
in the house where we will live in Kenya when we move back overseas in

I ran 4.65 miles in Jo'burg this morning in 38:31. Wow -- what a
difference running at 5500' -- who stole the oxygen?

Run well, y'all,

13 April 2009

Suspicious Footlocker

I've had baggage checked before but have never seen one labelled
"SUSPECT". This was on my footlocker (trunk) when I arrived in
Johannesburg. I wonder what about this particular piece of luggage led
to this status being assigned. It was put on in Richmond within about
30 minutes of my checking in for my NWA flight. Everything was still
inside -- as far as I could tell -- though my shirts were a little
more wrinkled for the experience. I'm glad someone is looking out for
and checking suspicious baggage.

Run (and fly) well, y'all,

Running in Johannesburg

Arrived in Johannesburg early Sunday night -- 9:05 pm -- after an easy flight from Amsterdam. The KLM flight was less than half full so I had the whole window section (15A-C) to myself. It was still economy class but I had a bit of room to stretch out and got some decent naps -- I rarely sleep more than about 30 minutes at a time on an international flight but got a couple of 2-hour naps along the way.

Lots of renovations at the Jo'burg airport since I was last here a year ago. We had to walk forever from the gate to Customs and then baggage claim. My bags were slow coming out (maybe that's bag lag) but both got here with no damage and nothing missing (that I can tell).

A colleague met me outside of customs. That was a pleasant surprise as I was expecting to have to catch the hotel shuttle. Thanks, Wade! He had even bought me a couple of bananas, an apple, and some muffins. Friends are a blessing.

After unpacking and showering, I hit the sack. Up just before 7 and on the road at 7:15. It didn't take long to start feeling the 5500' altitude. Being used to running in Short Pump at what, 240', I was huffing pretty heavily. Still, I managed 4.6 miles in 37:37. Today, Easter Monday, is a holiday in South Africa so traffic was very light, even at around 8:00 when I finished. The rest of the week will be a bit different and I'll have to keep an eye on traffic. I do have to remember to look in opposite directions. You drive on the left here -- run on the right -- and that takes some getting used to.

If you're interested, here's the route I ran: http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=2722258

Run well, y'all,

11 April 2009

Running and Trans-Atlantic Flying

Well, OK, the title would be more accurately stated, Running **Then**.... This will be a first for me. It seemed like a great idea earlier in the week. I ran 6.8 miles this morning before heading to the airport for about 26 hours of international travel. My thinking was that it would be good to be active (and, maybe, tired) before flying. We'll see.

While we were running this morning, I began to question my sanity for running almost 13 yesterday and then doing almost 7 this morning. My legs were definitely not happy. We had planned to go out slow but ... those with Garmins kept saying, "We're at sub-8's". We ended up averaging something like 8:17 mpm. One of those mornings when being with a group was a good motivator to keep going.

I'm hoping to get some higher altitude runs in during the next week. Johannesburg sits at about 5700' above sea level. Should be fun.

True meaning of Easter: Matthew 28:1-20

Run well, y'all,

10 April 2009

Things You Don't Say to Your Wife

This has nothing to do with either running or Easter (although, if you do say these things, the ability to run fast and faaaaaar would be very useful), but it's hilarious (thanks to Yoni Freedhoff at the blog, Weighty Matters):

Running? This morning I did a Good Friday 12.8 miles in 1:48:07. It was hard, but, then, 12.8 miles is a long way.

Reflect on the meaning of Good Friday: Matthew 26:17-27:66

Run well, y'all,

09 April 2009

Grass or Roads?

The question as to whether running on grass or trails is easier on one's joints than running on hard surfaces (i.e., roads) has perplexed me. On the one hand, it seems to make some intuitive sense that the softer surface of grass or trails would absorb some of the stress of the pounding. On the other hand, it would also seem to be only a very slight advantage and any advantage might well be offset by the greater stress on those same joints caused by running on a less stable (more uneven) surface.

Well, an Australian study that will published in Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise and that has been reported in Runner's World's Peak Performance and on PubMed, indicates that there may not be any significant difference in the actual effects of running on grass or roads. Inflammation and chemical indicators of stress were higher after running than before running and were higher after high-intensity workouts than after lower-intensity workouts. However, there were no differences between doing the same workout on grass or on a bitumen (asphalt or tarmac) road surface.

Since road surfaces are much more convenient to me for running it's nice to know that I'm probably not doing any additional damage to my knees and other joints by taking the more convenient route. I do enjoy running on trails because of the change and the scenery.

I'm planning a long (12 mile) run tomorrow morning. If the rain holds off or isn't too bad, I'll do another 4-6 miles on Saturday morning before heading to the airport to fly to South Africa. While in South Africa, I hope to get in at least a few higher altitude (5700') runs.

Run well, y'all,

The message of Easter: He is not here; he has risen just as he said. (Matthew 28:6)

07 April 2009

More Speed

In the 2 major marathons this past Sunday, Paris and Rotterdam, Africans took 28 of the top 40 spots (top 10 for men and women in each race) -- 19 by Kenyans, 8 by Ethiopians, and 1 by a Moroccan. That's a pretty impressive day and speaks to the dominance of distance running by African runners.

Pretty impressive times, too -- 4 men under 2:06 and 10 men under 2:07. A 2:07 marathon is a pace of 4:50.84 minutes per mile! Gives us something to shoot for (yeah, right)! Running Without Limits speculated that these may have been the fastest marathons ever. Could be -- in the top 40 spots, there were 22 personal best times, including 6 debut marathons.

Paris Marathon, 5 April 2009

MEN (7 of top 10 from Kenya, 2 from Ethiopia, 1 from Morocco) -- 8 personal best times, including one debut marathon:
1. Vincent Kipruto Limo (KEN) 2:05:47 (PB)
2. Bado Worku (ETH) 2:06:15 (debut)
3. David Kemboi Kiyeng (KEN) 2:06:26 (PB)
4. Yemane Adhane (ETH) 2:06:30 (PB)
5. Rachid Kisri (MAR) 2:06:48 (PB)
6. David Mandago Kipkorir (KEN) 2:06:53 (PB)
7. Jonathan Kosgei Kipkorir (KEN) 2:07:31 (PB)
8. Shadrack Kipchumba Kiplagat (KEN) 2:08:11
9. John Kipkorir Komen (KEN) 2:08:12
10. Daniel Too Kiprugut (KEN) 2:08:38 (PB)
WOMEN (5 of to 10 from Ethiopia, 2 from Kenya) -- 6 personal best times, including 3 debut marathons:
1. Atsede Bayisa (ETH) 2:24:42(PB)
2. Aselefech Mergia (ETH) 2:25:02 (debut)
3. Christelle Dauney (FRA) 2:25:43 (NR)
4. Ashu Kasim (ETH) 2:25:49 (debut)
5. Julia Mombi Muraga (KEN) 2:29:10
6. Worknesh Tola (ETH) 2:29:19
7. Leah Malot (KEN) 2:30:29 (PB)
8. Maria McCambridge (IRL) 2:35:29 (PB)
9. Azalech Masresha (ETH) 2:35:56 (debut)
10. Maja Neuenschwander (SUI) 2:36:48 (PB)
Rotterdam Marathon, 5 April 2009

MEN (9 of top 10 from Kenya, 1 from Ethiopia) -- 7 personal best times, including 2 debut marathons; 3 runners beat the previous course record:
1. Duncan Kibet, Ken 2:04:27 PB, course record old 2.05.49 William Kipsang 2008)
2. James Kwambai, Ken 2:04:27 PB (correct)
3. Abel Kirui, Ken 2:05:04 PB
4. Patrick Makau, Ken 2:06:14 PB debut
5. Jackson Kipkoech, Ken 2:08:54
6. Alfred Kering, Ken 2:09:19 PB
7. Mesfin Ademasu, Eth 2:09:32 PB
8. Robert Kipcumba, Ken 2:09:54 PB debut
9. Richard Limo, Ken 2:10:09
10. Mariko Kipchumba, Ken 2:12:17
WOMEN (1 of the top 10 from Kenya) -- 1 personal best time:
1. Nailya Yulamanova, Rus 2:26:30 PB
2. Lydia Cheromei, Ken 2:28:09
3. Adriana Pirtea, Rou 2:36:36
4. Sue Harrison, GBr 2:37:27
5. Viktoria Ryazantseva, Rus 2:40:33
6. Luzia Schmid, Sui 2:52:14
7. Marta Esteban Poveda Esp 2:53:48
8. Minna Kainlauri, Fin 2:56:01
9. Katja Merlin, Bel 2:58:10
10. Birgit Kraemer, Ned 2:59:42
Run well, y'all,

This is Fast! (Updated)

Rotterdam Marathon -- and, no, this is not a 4-armed or 3-legged Kenyan! Kibet and Kwambai finished one-two and were recorded with the same finishing time. If I'm right about the names, two other Kenyans finished 3rd and 4th: Kirui at 2:05:04 (fastest 3rd place finish) and Makau at 2:06:14 (2nd fastest debut marathon). (Update: I was right. See the next post for details.)

Ryan Hall has his work cut out for him!

Run well, y'all (and remember that fast is relative),

Now That's What I'm Talking About!

The run, that is!

The endorphins and anandamides really kicked in today during our group run. Well, OK, that's probably not true because most studies that have found evidence for the phenomenon of a runner's high have said that it occurs after 80-90 minutes of running at a moderately hard pace -- faster than an easy run, but slower than race pace. But whatever it was this morning was definitely good. It was some combination of weather (42°, 40% humidity), faster-than-normal pace (average of 7:59 mpm), good conversation, running just for fun and not training for anything in particular, etc. We got to 3 miles and I just couldn't believe we had gone that far and that the time had passed so quickly -- I was sure that someone had plotted the route wrong and that there was no way we were going to have done 5 miles by the end. We missed a turn on a very familiar route. One of our group didn't even know we had made another turn. I, at least, felt like I could keep on running forever.

It's days like today that remind me why I love to run.

Today: 6.2 miles in 49:52 (7:59 mpm).

Run well, y'all,

06 April 2009

I Got to Run

I had planned to run yesterday morning before going to church, but the call of an extra hour of sleep was just too strong. No problem -- I'll run Monday. Then, later, I looked at the weather forecast -- calling for not just rain but major thunderstorms for Monday morning. Now, I'll run in the rain if necessary but I'm somewhat averse to having lighting bolts flying around my head. The same-same weather report said it would be down to about 65° by early evening so I decided I would get my run in around 6pm. But, when 6pm rolled around, it was still up around 70° and I'm not ready for hot running, yet (actually, I'm never really ready for it). Maybe it will just be raining Monday morning.

Monday morning comes and ... no rain, no lightning, no nothing ... 61° and 64% humidity. So, I got my run in. It wasn't really fun this morning -- 5.36 miles in 45:00 -- but I was out there.

Run well, y'all,

04 April 2009

Ashland Railroad Run (10K) -- Updated

The Ashland Railroad Run (10K) is one of those local, small, well-run races that is just a lot of fun. They capped entries this year at 750 but I think ended up with about 600 people -- and that may have included the 5K runners and walkers, too. I got the 600 figure from one of the police officers who were on the course -- he was talking on his walkie-talkie with someone else about how many were registered. The course is basically flat with just enough gentle hills to provide some downhill segments when you most need them. Of course that means there are uphill segments, too. Good volunteer support.

I only have one complaint and then there was one quirk: there were not enough porta-johns for pre-race needs. They only had 2 plus a men's, a women's, and a kids' restroom in the building where we collected packets. They needed at least 2 more porta-johns at the start.

The quirk came at about mile 4. The last half of the course is a long out-and-back. We started that segment running on the right side of the road with those who had made the turn-around running on their right (our left). But, about halfway on the out segment (or back segment, depending on your perspective), everybody switched sides. So, we had to cross the line of faster runners as we headed out -- crossed the slower runners as we came back in. Besides that, it felt odd to race on the left side of the road, even though that's the side I normally run on for everyday runs. I didn't see any collisions and it didn't seem to interfere with anybody's running -- it was just odd.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine had expressed a desire to do a 10K in less than 50:00, so I offered to run with him to push him a bit. Now, I'm among the worst in the world when it comes to knowing how fast I'm running and setting a pace. Once I get settled into the second mile or so, my pace will be pretty even but I never know what that pace will be. But, I figured if I settled into a hard-comfortable run, we would be able to hit about 8:00 mpm.

We'll see what the official results show (it's not chip-timed nor were there wave starts), but according to my watch, we finished in 49:58.95. UPDATE: Official results have been posted and they show we finished in exactly 50:00. Here are the splits:
1.0 x 8:13.44
1.0 x 7:47.45
1.0 x 8:02.97
1.0 x 8:01.47
1.0 x 8:08.68
1.0 x 8:26.82
0.2 x 1:18.12
On a side note: last week, in the last 2 miles of the Ukrop's 10K, I was tired -- out of gas. That struck me as odd because, while 10K is not an easy distance to race, it's a common distance for me. Reflecting on that this week and thinking about today's race, I realized that I probably felt out of gas because, well, I was out of gas. I had waked up at 5:30 and my wave started at 8:33. Before running, I had only eaten 1/2 of a medium-sized bagel. So, perhaps, I had literally run out of fuel.

This morning, I decided to try something different. I got up at the same time but ate a whole toasted bagel and a banana. Then, about 20 minutes before we started, I ate a Gu (my favourite, Chocolate Outrage). Between fueling better and running a bit more slowly, I felt great though most of the race and at the end. In fact, it is very tempting to go run another 6 miles. But, I think I'll bask in the enjoyment of having met our goal (or, at least coming really close) and feeling good. And, actually, I have to go cut our crop of weeds -- my wife says that should count for a long run!

Run well, y'all,

02 April 2009

TIART -- Ode to My Running Shoes

I'm running the Ashland (VA) 10K Railroad Run this weekend. Should be fun -- relatively flat course, limited to 750 runners/walkers, and I'm running with my pastor who wants to break 50:00 and set a PR. It's called the Railroad Run because most of the race is run next to the tracks that run through town -- last year at least 2 trains went through while we were running.

Read the longer post/review here. The Runners Lounge's Take It and Run Thursday topic is our running shoes -- why do we like them, describing them using the same number of words as the dollars we used to buy them -- that gives me 71.95 words, plus shipping.
Etonic Jepara SC -- they were relatively inexpensive online; they have great cushioning in both the heel and the forefoot; unlike every other brand I've tried (Brooks and New Balance), I can get 700 miles out of a single pair; and they fit, even my wide feet.

The updated version for 2008, Jepara 2 SC, are not as well cushioned and they are narrower in the toe box. Bring back the old ones!
Seventy-two words.

Run well, y'all,