Sunday, July 29

Middle mile

Those who run seem to have all the fun -- Madonna, Love Song

There were two unsavory aspects and one delightful factor in Saturday's Cancer Action Grand Prix 5K in Kansas City, which I, rslight, completed.
The race started and ended at General Motors Fairfax Plant. Runners navigated between factories and past smokestacks in an industrial section of the city. Workers wearing hardhats inside a maze of pipes waved at sprinters below.
In other words, it was the ugliest dang course you'll ever experience.

It also felt like 200 degrees. Wait. That's a ludicrous statement. Subtract 80 degrees from that.
The race director said to drink fluids more often than my father did during all my childhood summers.
However, the course was flat, which has become one of my favorite words.

My race goal was to have a good second mile. Kansas City race directors thoughtfully announce your time at each mile. I've noticed that I usually run the first mile in 7:30, but then something wicked happens. My mile 2 time is often 15:50 or 16.
During the Grand Prix, I hit mile 1 in 7:30, which was predictable. I focused on having that strong middle mile, and hit mile 2 in 15:32. Cool, baby, I thought.
Like last week, I failed to have a killer finish. Race results weren't posted on the Internet by mid-Sunday (come on,, but my final time stapled to a race board was 24:41. While short of my elusive 23:53 PR, that was my third best 5K.

This Sunday morning I went ahead and did my 14-mile long run for my Chicago Marathon training. The run went well. The legs feel fine after running non-stop for more than two-and-a-half hours. However, I felt tired and hungry afterward. Although I seldom eat donuts, I thought it would be okay to have a chocolate Krispy Kreme donut since I burned at least 1,500 calories.
I went through the drive-thru and paid for one. Several minutes later I decided to eat it, but when I reached for it, it wasn't there. I had driven off without the donut!

Hello from New Mexico

I got to Albuquerque yesterday. We've done two runs so far - about 8 miles total. Camp hasn't started yet but we're runners so we're running up here in the high desert. These runs are mostly to get adjusted to the altitude. Albuquerque is about 5000 feet up and we'll gain another 2000 as we go to Santa Fe. And some of our runs in Santa Fe will be even higher up in the mountains. What fun.
The harder runs are coming. And the altitude will make them even tougher.
Meanwhile, I'm thinking about what I'm training for. The Twin Cities Marathon. And what is the time I'm training for? Really that's the biggie? Do I just say I want to run an hour faster? Is that realistic? Is that setting my goal too high or too low?
I'll be thinking about these goals this week as I think about everything else. (Everything else in my life, actually.) The thing about running is that you did get sorted and measured next to other people. But the only person you really compete with is yourself. There's no shame in losing to a more talented runner. But there is some shame, right, in not running as well as you can. In putting out what is for you a substandard effort. In cheating yourself of the satisfaction of knowing you did your best.
Well, that's what I think. But I'll be thinking about that some more as I work on getting in better shape, getting faster and learning how to train smarter.

Thursday, July 26

Trying to listen

I'm training harder than I've trained for a marathon before. I'm pushing myself near my limits. I'm running hard, incorporating speedwork and weekly long runs. I'm not completely satisfied with how I'm running just right now, but I'm also trying to listen and pay attention to my body.
Part of the reason I know I'm training harder than ever is taht I'm more sore than I've been before. It must be the track along with the intensity of all of my workouts.
I know it's good to train hard. But the other side of the coin is that I also want to train smart. I've got to take rest days. I know this. I've got to train hard but also run the good easy recovery miles. I've got to not run my long runs too fast.
I've also got to sleep well and relax.
So many things to balance. I am so looking forward to these next two weeks. Hopefully running in Santa Fe and Austin will be refreshing and inspiring for me.
And hopefully I'll improve at listening to my body and understanding its language.

Personal Training Insights

I mentioned in previous posts about the friend that R and I are helping to get in shape so that he can join the Air Force. It turns out there was a bit of a breakthrough this week in terms of understanding his abilities and adjusting his training accordingly.

The biggest problem for me was in gauging his endurance during our training. His pace during his mile runs on the treadmill was very uneven, and the quality of the weightlifting sessions seemed very hit-and-miss. When we were trying to do all sorts of different exercises every session, it got kinda messy. He'd do, say, bench press well, but then he'd be unable to do sufficient reps on squats and sit-ups that day.

The main change we've made is that now we focus on one specific area of the body during each workout (legs, arms, core). There was no way he could effectively work all 3 in a given day, so now he gets a workout of several different exercises focused on the same basic muscle groups. We have also split the workouts into low-weight/high-repetition days and high-weight/low-repetition days. If he knows going in that he must do 3 sets of 10 reps, then he'll make the conscious choice not to try to max out his weight. That is an important change for him, because he used to focus primarily on increasing his load, but all that would mean is that he would fail to complete a reasonable number of reps (to say nothing of completing several sets).

His running has been similarly tweaked. He used to start off his runs at an 8mph pace, but he'd crash within about a quarter mile. We now have specific days where he sets the treadmill at a steady (albeit slower) and he doesn't touch the setting until he's done a mile (or as much of a mile as he can). On the other days he still does interval training, but it's much more structured. He can still start at 8mph if he wants to, but each high-speed interval must be longer than the previous session, and the low-speed "down time" must be shorter as well. So if he did 0.25 miles last time before slowing down, he will do 0.3 miles before slowing down next time. Even if it's not the method that I prefer, I daresay he can't help but get in shape if he sticks to it.

All in all, I think his training regimen is starting to come together rather nicely. Over the last month, I have been really worried about being able to help him effectively, but I think we've both begun to adapt to the reality of his current abilities while still keeping the ultimate goal in mind.


Wednesday, July 25

Holy Faith

Well, I haven't been updated the blog much lately. I've been busy at work and busy training. I've been especially busy at work because I have two big trips coming up.
Next week, I return to Santa Fe for Camp Marafiki . I'm excited and also nervous. It should be a good hard week of intense marathon training.
Then the week after that, I head out to Austin Texas for the National Poetry Slam Championships. That should be good, at least interesting. But I can not let the marathon training slide their either.
So, we'll see how it goes. I hear there are good trails in Austin so that sounds really exciting. I'll try to let you know how it all goes.

Sunday, July 22

Cave runner

Here comes the hotstepper -- Ini Kamoze

That charming tune blared from speakers as I, rslight, waited for the start of Saturday's Run to the Sun 5K at the Kansas City Space Center. The underground race took place underneath the Space Center in a cave. Seriously.
I was under the foolish impression that a cave would always be pleasantly cool, but it was very hot and humid. I don't know how Batman can stand it.
The speakers also blasted the music from films "Superman" and "Chariots of Fire" before the start. It seemed like inspiration overkill for just a 5K race. The National Anthem (the American one) played, but I didn't see a flag. Hundreds of runners had a hand over their chests while facing different directions.

A very cute woman holding a stopwatch announced a 7:19 pace when I hit mile 1. I got excited thinking I could replace my 5K PR of 23:53.
When I passed the woman again on the second goofy cave loop, I could no longer discern her cuteness. Sweat poured into my eyes.
The clock was 24-minute something when I emerged from the cave to see the outside finish line. My heart fell faster than Enron stock (or my own company stock, the way things are going). I was too discouraged to attempt a killer finish. My time was 25:03.

Now you're getting impatient. You're wanting to know about rslight's second race this weekend.
I ran the Race for Hope 5k this Sunday morning at Corporate Woods, an attractive business park in Overland Park, Kansas. I wasn't sure how I would do since I stayed up real late Saturday hanging out at Country Club Plaza. It was a pretty course. No hills, but a couple of significant inclines and odd turns.
Stopwatch boy at mile 1 announced a pace of 7:32. I told myself to be cool. Don't do anything crazy daisy.
Stopwatch man at mile 2 announced 15:50. My legs weren't in pain. They weren't sore. But they felt a little heavy. Heavy enough that I had trouble turning on the juice and slipping under an 8-minute mile. Maybe it was just the experience of doing consecutive weekend races.
Stopwatch old man at mile 3 announced 23:53 ... yes, my 5K PR time. My final time was 24:56.
As I enjoyed my post-race chocolate bagel (Mmm ... chocolate bagel), I spoke with a miffed Kansas City Road Runners member who complained that the course was too long. He defiantly displayed his GPS watch. It was about 3.2 miles.


I have never been successful at marathons. More often than not I end up an injured observer rather than a competitor when I register for a marathon. The past four years have been good to me and I may have gained some inner awareness that will help me with my next quest.

I discovered that I can qualify for the 2009 Boston marathon with a time of 4:00:59 on any certified race held after September 31, 2007. I learned long ago that qualifying for Boston is at the upper limit of my running ability. I ran the Quad Cities marathon in 3:56:33 on Sept 23, 2001. I have slowed down in the past seven years, but I have learned to head the signs of impending injury, so I can train more wisely.

I have made the leap. I will make my attempt at the Houston Marathon in January. I have created a training schedule that includes many races and a marathon pace half-marathon run every other weekend. I will run the Las Vegas Half on Dec. 2nd, 2007.

I will need all of the encouragement, support, and advice I can get.

Nary a drop to drink

According to my computer, it's currently 76 degrees outside. I knew it wasn't that hot. But at the end of this morning's 18 miles run, I was exhausted. I probably didn't drink quite enough and started out way too fast. There were all these runners on the trail when I started and it was like being a kid in a candy store. If there were people in front of me, I kind of wanted to pass them. But they were never running that much slower than me. But especially after passing a group of women, I felt like I couldn't slow down and then let them pass me or they'd think I was strange.
Then when there were people running towards me, I'd think: Run tall. Lift your knees. Run smooth. Smile. Look confident.
But on those last 8 miles I didn't see hardly anybody. And that's when I started getting tired. Go figure.
The songs in my head also give some sense of how the run went. Early on for some reason, the line, "Somebody's praying Lord, come by here. Oh Lord, come by here."
Later at some point I did pray the Lord's Prayer a couple of times to give my mind something to do. Then a couple of Big Smith songs came through. First there's that song, She Lets me In. In the original, the line is "When I come home late from drinkin', And runnin' around with my friends, You think she'd put me in the doghouse, But she lets me in." That got condensed in my head to "when I come home late from running, she lets me in." Then the last Big Smith line that I oculdn't outrun and I couldn't shake was "Red wine, red wine everywhere, but not a drop to drink. Red wine, red wine everywhere, but nary a drop to drink."
That's when I knew I was in trouble. Singing about drinking red wine. And my water bottle was empty at the moment. (Yes, I recently got a camelback in the mail, but I wasn't using it yet. I was running loops around my car.) So anyway, my route took me by the James River and the Galloway Creek. Fill my water bottle from there? Water, water everywhere, nary a drop to drink. Yep, I couldn't get that Big Smith song out of my head. Fortunately, I had plenty of water at the car and it was only two miles from the nature center.

Saturday, July 21

My PR: SIX minutes faster!

With much pride, I'd like to announce I shaved off my previous PR by more than six minutes at this morning's CoxHealth Women's Run at Phelps Grove Park. I finished 54th with 27 minutes and 4 seconds. That smashed my old time of 33 minutes and 14 seconds.

I am very glad about the time, but then thought I could have been in the TOP 50 if I tried a little harder. Oh, well, there's always a next year.

I ran the course about a week ago and even walked the first two miles last night to take some mental notes. My goal was to come under 30 minutes, so I did well in that sense. But it was not an easy race, because I got off too fast for the first mile and started to feel bad toward the end of Mile 2. For Mile 3, I sort of picked up some speed and started to sprint toward the end. Yet I couldn't keep up the speed as I had wished. The good thing, I didn't stop to walk but ran every single step toward the end.

Friday, July 20

My Own Personal Heartbreak Hill

Well, I have the week off from training my friend, since he's simultaneously moving and house-sitting out of town. And with R away, I'm on my own.

So I took advantage of the recently reopened road near my apartment to do a bit of a hill workout. My favorite hill to run is up Gabriellino Road, 0.41 miles with 100 feet of elevation gain (which puts it at just under a 5% grade on average, though there is a steeper stretch near the quarter mile mark). For comparison, Heartbreak Hill on the Boston course is 0.5 miles with only 80 feet of elevation gain (though it is at Mile 20, which counts for something). I always aim to make it to the top of Gabriellino in under 3 minutes, but I'm usually at around 3:10 to 3:30. Despite having run it probably a hundred times, there have only been two or three occasions when I've actually made it in under 3:00.

Because Gabriellino is only about a block from my house, I usually just run straight over and head right up at the start of my run. But it turns out that's not the best way to tackle that hill. Go figure.

I realized a while back that it takes me at least 3/4 of a mile to warm up properly and settle in to my pace. So putting the hill at the beginning of my run will certainly not give me the best time up Gabriellino. Conversely, putting the hill at the end of my course when I'm on my way home means I tend to run out of gas before I make it all the way up.

So today I had the brilliant idea to put the hill in the middle of my run (at about mile 2.5 out of 4.1), with pleasantly surprising results: 2 minutes and 59 seconds to the top! And I was only slightly inclined to vomit when I got there.

The whole run included a couple of other good-sized hills, so a total of four miles was plenty for today, thank you very much. I have the notion that it will be quite some time before I can put Gabriellino at the 20 mile mark.

Thursday, July 19

Had a nice 2-mile run yesterday, my first run since returning to the midwest. It wasn't that much hotter than my runs in California, although it was certainly much more humid.

It was a fun little run, though, because it was four laps around a park next door to a house I used to live in... and the park where I trained for my very first race, a 2-mile fun run, when I was about nine years old. I think I wore a polo shirt and jean shorts, and placed in my age group. It's funny to run and know all the landmarks so well--my favorite tree to climb, second favorite tree, where a friend and I sat to watch some boys, the place the bagpiper liked to stand to play, the place my dog chased a squirrel (the day I was walking her while wearing roller skates)... So maybe now I understand a little more why BL likes to run marathons in cities he's lived in.

Tuesday, July 17

Thought for the day

I just read a fascinating story in the New York Times on fat bicyclists. And on the difference in fat bicyclists and fat runners.
I wasn't impressed with the story, but then there was this beautiful and intriguing passage.

Robert Fitts, an exercise physiologist at Marquette University who was a competitive runner, once said good runners run so smoothly they can almost balance an apple on their heads.

Monday, July 16

Y Not Run 10K Kick

Here's a picture of BL finishing the Y Not Run 10K on Saturday with a pretty strong kick.

No sir - classic poetic feet

Yesterday during my run, I had a Bob Marley song constantly looping through myhead. Actually, I had one line or two from a Bob Marley son looping through.
The song? Rat race.
The line: Rasta don't work for no C.I.A.

It's one of those things where a negative line has a positive, motivating effect. It reminded me of an old Classic Poetic Feet post on the Big Smith song, No Sir.

Here it is:
>Well, I put in my New Year's Day 10-mile run.

It was a beautiful day. The temperature must have been near 70. It was wonderful.

At one point I was running down Weller Street and after exchanging hellos a man wearing a Drury University hat said, "You're not going to run like that all year are you?"

In response I held my hands out from my body and shrugged. It's the sort of thing where I had absolutely no idea what the question was supposed to mean.

Thus the shrug, international sign for: I don't know. I don't know how to respond to that. What the hell sort of question is that?

I mean was he saying that there was something wrong with the way I was running.

Anyhow, I had a Big Smith song running through my head for most of the 2 hours I was out there running. I'd heard it once in concert but something about where I was standing in the back of the Outland Ballroom, all I really remember was the chorus: "No sir, no sir. Something something sir. No sir, no sir." And then you repeat that a couple of times.

Now, I'd only heard that song once and I had no idea what the lyrics are. And on its face, the words, "no sir, no sir, something something sir" aren't but so inspirational. I mean, it was an anthem in concert and everybody in the crowd - well not everybody, I'd have to count out the people who were smoking or doing their own thing, but lots of people - were chanting the chorus and stomping their feet.

But what was that song about. Why were the words "no sir" running through my head as I was running. How could I make this work?

That's where the right brain creativity that is unleashed during a run comes in.

The song going through my head became: "No sir, no sir! Don't turn back, sir."
Alternating with: "No sir, no sir! Don't stop now, sir!"

..Anyhow, the next time someone asks me if I'll be running "like that" all year, maybe I'll just answer "No sir, no sir. I'll be running faster and better later on in the year."

Sunday, July 15

Sunday long runs

My alarm went off at 5 a.m. this morning. Somehow, I didn't really open my eyes until 5:50. Go figure. Still, I hit the trails at 6:30 and got in a good 15.4 miles. Yes, 15.4 miles. It's interesting to do math when every tenth of a mile is marked on the trail. I'll save you the calculations that would have gotten me to 21.

At one point today, I thought about going 21 miles. Then it got hot.

But there were times today when I felt like I was floating. Twice I past a group of runners that included the incredibly speedy Gerald Glass and Pam Sailors. Of course, we were going in opposite directions. It was always good to see runners coming in my direction because that was an added incentive to try and look like I was running easy.

Thinking about running 21 miles and then running 15.4 could be disappointing. But then I look back over my last three Sundays. 20 miles on an incredibly cool day. 13 miles in a double on a day when I overslept. And today, 15.4 on a day when I didn't get out as early as I would have liked.

And the bottom line for today's run is that my foot felt great. Great, of course, may be an overstatement. But my foot felt good.

I'm very happy with today's long run and next week I'll shoot for 18 again. If it's unseasonably cool again and I'm feeling awesomely great, I may even go for 20 or further. But 18 is my priority. There's no race next Saturday and this long run is important.

Saturday, July 14

Chicago Gang

We are family -- Sister Sledge

Go to, click on inspiration bank and make a "withdrawal," and you'll see some of rslight's fellow 2007 Chicago Marathon participants.
They are Glenn a.k.a. Dusty "the Witty Brit;" Jessica "the Debut;" Allison "the Tribute;" Kathy "the Veteran;" Dave "the Lifestyle Makeover;" Joey "the Long Shot," and Jim "the Physician."
Mentally add me and I suppose you have "the Crazy Texan." The otherwise diverse group could use a Southerner. We'd make a good-looking bunch (chuckle).

I look forward to seeing how my posse is doing. It delights me that people across the country share my dream of crossing the Chicago finish line. Their diary entries have all the excitement, anxiety and hopefulness you would expect during marathon training. Some have already been injured. Jim got bit by a dog.

Dave is particularly inspiring and prolific. The Indiana runner weighed more than 300 pounds in 2005 and had bad health problems. But after losing more than 120 pounds last year, he signed up for his first marathon in Chicago.
His June 25 entry mentions how the enormity of the race and training are starting to sink in. I had the same thought that week as I did an easy four-miler on a gym treadmill. I can't believe I'm now referring to four miles as "easy."
Dave had a special June 29 entry that displays a picture on his watch. It probably seems a little silly if you aren't running the Chicago Marathon, but touching if you are.

My foot feels great

Well, that title sounds a lot better than my foot feels so-so. My foot had been bothering me lately but yesterday was a rest day and today was a 10K I'd pre-registered for. A hilly, challenging 10K.
I did OK. I got a new pr. Around 52:30 is what I remember the clock saying as I crossed the finish line. My good friend Rslight was about 12 seconds behind me. As I remember from looking at the results, the closest person I was to finished about two minutes faster than me. I would have loved to have someone in my sights that I could have tried to pass in the last half-mile but I didn't see anybody.
I did however have people close on my tail so that helped motivate me to have a strong finishing kick. The best thing though was that my feet, specifically my left foot, didn't hinder my running.
Tomorrow's scheduled for a long run but I'm going to try to get up early, beat the heat and listen to my body. We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, July 12

Running the course of my 5K race

I almost felt it was cheating, but today I got a chance to get out with a CoxHealth training group and ran the actual 5K course for the CoxHealth women's run on July 21 in the Phelps Grove neighborhood. It is indeed an advantage to know the course in advance so you know what's in store for you on the race day.

The weather, again, was beautiful with the temperature probably in the 70s. Best of all, it was not very humid. We started slow and were instructed to run the conversation pace. Then, the group started to pick up for Mile 2 and Mile 3. I felt really good at the end that I sprinted to the finish. Oh, I was exhausted for a while, and sweat even got into my eyes. It sort had a stinging sensation, but I didn't care.

Wednesday, July 11

Running up a hill

It was such a pleasant July evening that I even felt guilty not to do a long run. Instead, Maureen - my running buddy - and I ran up a hill as our speed work. I learned the routine last Thursday when a small group from Cox Fitness Centers was training under Mark Millsap for the 5K race on July 21. It was quite demanding: both Maureen and I were sweating after six repeats, and we had to walk quite a distance before we could jog back to my house.

But I knew it was a good workout because by the time we got back we felt good.

Tuesday, July 10

Well, I was having a lazy morning, catching up on some blogs... but then, reading about all y'all getting up at insane times to beat the heat, I looked out my window at the marine layer, still nice and thick at nearly 10, and thought, I really ought to take advantage of this. So, I threw on some running clothes (including my good old running shorts from middle school cross country!) and headed out the door.

Only to make the mistake of heading inland. Ten minutes into the run, the marine layer disappeared, and I was in bright sunshine and significantly greater heat, dodging a gaggle of high schoolers and many more lizards (though the lizards weren't all gathered together). I ran around a local university, and through a sort of wilderness area before heading home, where it's just now (twenty minutes after I got home) that the marine layer is burning off. Had I thought to run toward the ocean, the entire run would have likely been gloriously cool.

As it was, it was a nice run anyway, though I was wishing I'd remembered some sunscreen. I didn't have too high of hopes, since weightlifting yesterday morning left me pretty tuckered out--enough so that by the end of a relatively mild race around the harbor last night, I was tired from trimming the sheets. Regardless, I was irritated at the stoplights that I hit--I'd planned my route to avoid a couple of them, but the ones that I did hit, were perfectly wrong, so I had to wait through the whole cycle of left-turn lights, etc., adding at least six minutes to my total time. So while it felt like a strong run, the kitchen timer I'd left on the front step had a pretty lousy time on it by the time I got back.

I've always been torn on the issue of stoplights, even back when I was in high school track and had a watch. Do you stop the watch for the time that you're just standing there? Do you let the watch go? Neither one seems like a good option to me, and unless I want to drive somewhere, I will encounter at least one stoplight in every run. Not just a rinky-dink two-lane road stoplight, either: all the main streets around here have speed limits of upwards of 40 mph (meaning, longer yellow lights), at least two lanes of traffic going in each direction, plus extra left-turn lights. So, hitting one light might mean two extra minutes, but hitting multiple lights, like today, starts to make my time and my pace mismatched. California drivers being what they are, I only jaywalk when there's no chance at all that anyone will be coming. So what's a good strategy?

Quote of the day

I saw an interesting article today in the Kansas City Star about training to finish a marathon.

I thought this was a great quote:

"The science of running is what has been established, but there is the art, figuring out what works for you." Eladio Valdez, coach of the Runner’s Edge, a training club based in Olathe.

Valdez also said, "These runners have taught me a lot. They are goal-oriented people. Most of them know that they won’t be competing with anyone else but themselves.

Monday, July 9

been running so fast, right from the starting line -- Go-Go's, Head Over Heels

Saturday morning, I, rslight, completed an enjoyable 5K race called the Ram Run in Owasso, Okla. I was hoping to have one of my better finish times of the year, and I did nicely with a 24:46. It was a fairly flat course through an attractive neighborhood, but heat and high humidity were factors.
I was glad to see Springfield-area runner Brent Barnett there. He was the only other Missourian among nearly 370 Oklahomans, and reached his goal of finishing with 25-minute something (25:40). Astonishingly, I even got third place in my age group and took home a nice 07-07-07 Ram mug.

Late Saturday I posted an entry here about my Ram adventure. Less than 24 hours later, in a
quick decision, I deleted the entry. The reason? I fear some people may think I'm crazy for racing so much, even in the Poetic Feet universe.

I'm not just the only runner in my family, but the only one who does anything remotely athletic in my family. My relatives are very sedentary folks, and I get odd, strange looks when I mention I'm in training for a half-marathon or marathon.
I've heard non-runners refer to a marathon as something goofy or harmful to do.
Recently I attended a party, and wanted to talk to an attractive blond woman there. I was under the foolish notion that a man running a marathon is something that might impress a woman, so I mentioned I was running the Chicago Marathon. With a blank stare, she asked me if I was training for it, or if I would just show up and run it.
Seriously. That was her question. I figure that's like going up to a high school student and asking: Are you planning on taking driver's education? Or will you just get in a car and see what happens?
One male non-runner in attendance overheard my marathon ambition, and loudly declared that anyone who would attempt to run a marathon was insane. The distance is too far, he said (after I told him what the distance was). Then he went into graphic detail on some story he heard about male marathoners bleeding from their nipples during races. I was tempted to remark that he wasn't making delightful party conversation, but I just walked away.

I guess my point is that not everyone is going to share your passion for running, to put it mildly.

How conservative are we?

How conservative are we?

Why do I ask? First there was the beautiful litany of our freedoms. Then I read an article in the Washghington Post about Nicolas Sarkozy and how his jogging is infuriating his liberal critics.

I almost didn't believe it when I saw the headline. The French apparently take themselves and their wine and their cigarretes very seriously.

Sarkozy has fueled a French suspicion that running is for self-centered individualists like Americans, reports Charles Bremner, Paris correspondent for the Times of London.

"Patrick Mignon, a sports sociologist, noted that French intellectuals had always held sport in contempt, while totalitarian regimes cultivated physical fitness," Bremner writes.

"Jogging is of course about performance and individualism, values that are traditionally ascribed to the right," Odile Baudrier, editor of V02 magazine, a sports publication, told Libération.

The British press is having a wonderful time with all this.

"The Sarkozy jog, say his critics, is a sad imitation of the habits of American presidents, and a capitulation to 'le défi Américain' (a phrase that was the title of a book published here as 'The American Challenge') as bad as the influx of Hollywood movies," writes Boris Johnson, a British member of Parliament and confirmed jogger, in the Telegraph.

"I am not deterred . . . by the accusation that jogging is right-wing," he says. "Of course it is right-wing, in the sense that the facts of life are generally right-wing. The very act of forcing yourself to go for a run, every morning, is a highly conservative business. There is the mental effort needed to overcome your laziness....

Meanwhile, the readers of British press Web sites are piling on. "No decent conservative would dream of jogging. It's a vulgar, untraditional form of self-advertisement that might frighten the horses. What's wrong with croquet?" posted Ian Morrison on the Telegraph Web site. "Had it been a spot of extracurricular horizontal jogging instead, je pense que ze political classe wouldn't have batted an eye," posted Nixon McVicar.

Conservative, liberal? What was it Charlie Brown used to say? Aaaarrgggh.

But to be sure, that list of our freedoms is decidedly liberal in that's what the word means - to be free. And when conservatism is about conserving the ability to do the things that matter most, then things begin to come into balance.

More thoughts on beating the heat

I read an interesting story this morning about training for fall races during the summer. It wasn't a great article but it had this intriguing bit of info:

Summer months are often not the best of times to embark on long runs. A little preparation, however, can ensure pleasant summer running.

If possible, morning summer runs can be the most enjoyable. The heat of the day has not yet set in, and temperatures are generally cooler.

In Schuylkill County, though, we are blessed with an abundance of shade, so, at any time of the day it is wise to seek shady areas, which are often 10 degrees cooler than areas of direct sunlight.

Ten degrees cooler! Wow. I hadn't heard that before, but it's good to know. Still, next Sunday, I'm setting the alarm clock for 4:45.

Who are we?

I've been meaning to do introductions of everyone here at this party I like to call my blog. I hope it helps everybody with motivation and inspiration for what we're training for. Feel free to correct anything that's incorrect here.

KWK - newest blog member. Has a Ph.D. in physics. Lives in Irvine, California.

R - second oldest blog member. Engaged to KWK. Studying for a Ph.D. in poetics. Or something like that. I'm not sure of the exact title. Also lives in Irvine, California. Training for LA Marathon in 2008.

Jim Evans - retired math teacher. Would probably battle KWK for position as least poetic member of the poetic feet team.

MS - professional photographer and currently fastest member of the poetic feet team. I'm gaining on him. Currently training for the Twin Cities Marathon. In fact, he's the one who put the idea in my head to run my third marathon in Minnesota.

Tangerine - married to MS. training for first half-marathon in November.

Rslight - training for first marathon in Chicago. It's actually the same day as the Twin Cities marathon. Set to have a good time and a great time.

Did I leave anything essential out? Did I get anything wrong?

Sunday, July 8

More on energy and freedom

Personal ‘energy’ is a little bit chemistry but mostly an emotion. Like love, the more you expend the more you get. With practice you create it more efficiently but it defies accumulation.

Free to dream:
Today I ran in the cool morning mist above the sands of Goleta beach,
free of the tars that might coat my souls,
for my spirit floats.

Maybe 16 miles in the midday Ozarks’ heat on asphalt roads makes one susceptible to 'optional delusions.'

Getting beat by the heat

Today's run - tough. Somehow I started way too late. Close to 8 o'clock in the morning. With a high in the 90s, that was just too late to get going, even if my goal was only 11 miles or so as opposed to last week's 20. Actually last week's goal was 16, but the weather was so nice and cool I kept going until I hit 20. This week, I stopped around 9 and a half. Several hours later I tacked on a few more miles on the treadmill, but this was not a good day for working out.

One thing I learned though, I've got to get up earlier in the morning.

However, next Sunday it's supposed to be cooler - a high closer to 83 so hopefully I'll get in a much better long run. We'll see.

Saturday, July 7

Getting up at 5:30 a.m.

The summer is here, and the temperature rapidly gets high in the morning. To beat the heat (and to protect myself from UV rays), I got up at 5:30 a.m. this morning for a four-mile run. Granted, I had MS drag me out of bed, but I was still amazed I didn't fuss much this morning. My eyes were still half-closed when I got into the car, and my body cold and drowsy.

We got to the Sequiota Park, and seeing runners out there made me feel I wasn't alone and woke me up in a strange way. But, I still got off on my run on a slow pace. Why hurry? It was a pleasant, cool summer morning with the temperature at about 70 degrees. I could smell wild flowers (though some sort of stunk), and I could look out at mists over prairie gardens. A surprisingly good number of runners were on the trail, making strong and swift strides.

The firs two miles were slow, and I hardly sweat until I turned about and ran back. I felt good, picked up the speed, and almost sprinted that last 0.5 mile or so to the finish. It wasn't that bad, I thought. Should I get up early tomorrow morning for my 6-mile run? Let me think.

Thursday, July 5

Quote of the day

"Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points." - Knute Rockne, legendary Notre Dame football coach

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I was thinking about freedom yesterday while I was running on the beach, and how many freedoms have to come together just to get to have that run...

I had to be free from work

Free from having to cook breakfast
Free from overtime labor
Free to spend money*
Free from concern
Free from corsets
Free from veils
Free to wear shorts and a tank top in public
Free to be in alone in public
Free to be alone
Free to be with others
Free to share the beach
Free from floods
Free from extreme heat
Free to tucker myself out
Free to be strong
Free to waste energy
Free to make myself hungry
Free from injury
Free to risk injury**
Free from illness
Free from exhaustion
Free from inhibition

...This list is probably still short. Helping KWK train our acquaintance for the Air Force has really made me think about running and working out in a new way--as optional. If you wanted to, you could avoid running more than a mile, for your whole life--this guy pretty much did. It's a privilege to work out without doing work. It takes time away from work, it takes energy, it takes money (even though running is a fairly cheap sport, you do still need some specialized equipment, and races usually have an entry fee). It's a privilege to even get into the mindset where you want to get in shape--plenty of people don't think they can or that they'd like to exert themselves, or whatever.

*My preferred beach run is in a State Park. Normally, I run early enough in the day that I don't need to pay to get in, but since I slept in yesterday, it cost money. I don't mind supporting the State Park system now and then. I ran with KWK part of the time, by myself the rest of the time, dodging the people, seashells, and stones.

**I have health insurance.

Wednesday, July 4

Some days

Some days you wake up and you just don't feel like racing at all.
Then there are days like today, where your body's a tad bit sore and you don't expect to put in a good race, but you decide to run and see what happens.
Last night I had my first track workout in nearly a year. It doesn't sound like much. Three 600 meter repeats with a 600 meter job for recovery. Three 200 meter repeats with a 200 meter jog for recovery. 800 meter warm up, 800 meter cool down. And some form drills. I probably could have worked out longer at the track, but I didn't design the work out. I was following along.
After the workout, I wasn't sure how today's race would go. I felt tight and maybe a little sore.
Well, this was one of those days where I was doing a two-mile race and didn't really decide to race until 400 meters were left in the race. The two people in front of me looked like they should have been behind me. But it's my fault that I let them pass me and get so close to begin with. If you look at the results you will see that I finished with the exact same time as the person in front of me. I guess the wonderful folks who did the timing for this race aren't equipped to publish results down to the hundredth of a second. I definitely got beat by less than one second. I definitely got beat. But I also had a nice finishing kick in a race again, despite the fact that my legs felt very tired and a little bit sore.
I started to kick too late, but I'm happy that I did have a decent strong kick.
In other race day news today, MS finished second in the 2-mile race, with a time of 11:36, 18 seconds behind the winner. RSlight ran the 3-mile race with a respectable time of 24:16.

Quote of the day

"At the two-thirds mark, I think of those who are still with me. Who might make a break? Should I? Then I give it all I've got." - Ibrahim Hussein, famous Kenyan runner.

And how many degrees of separation are there between Hussein and me. Only one. I know his brother.

Tuesday, July 3

The Newbie

I was asked recently by bl to share in contributing to poetic feet. Though I'm not as poetically inclined as some (99% of the poetry I write will never be read by anyone but me), I do run. In addition to various 10K's and half-marathons, I've endured four 26.2 -mile marathons, and more recently I completed an 8-year marathon known as the Doctor of Philosophy degree. So I might just do alright alongside the other co-bloggers.
Now that my Ph.D. ordeal is behind me, I will be running significantly more, though I've always needed a specific race to set as a goal in order to train as hard as I can. Any suggestions?

One interesting topic that I will have more to post about is not my own training, but my role as personal trainer/drill sergeant for a friend of mine who will be joining the Air Force in a few months. He asked me to help him out because I've shared my marathon preparation experiences with him, so he thinks I know what I'm doing. And I guess I do, but being responsible for someone else's physical condition is something new to me, so I'll likely be running my various coaching/motivational ideas past you all for the next two months. Right now we're focusing on running and weightlifting, but we may branch out a bit as well before we're through.

Quote of the day

“If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world on fire.” - St. Catherine of Siena

Monday, July 2

How do you spell triumph?

Today's dose of inspiration comes from a story in a the Redding Record Searchlight.

I'll just leave you a brief excerpt from the story Listen to the voice of Elly Carrara, a marathon runner and legal assistant from Redding:

"They took my hat and started putting quotes on it."
"If God brings you to it, he'll bring you through it."
"Triumph is just umph, added to try."

The story tells us that the triumph quote is Carrara's favorite. Mine too.

Hit by a car?!?

I just read this interesting,
fairly inspiring story about Norman Aronberg who at 74 is about to run his last race.

Why is his road racing career coming to an end? Hip replacement surgery.

Is this proof that running will take its toll on the body after so many years. Not exactly. Here's an excerpt from the story:

The hip problem can probably be traced back to the Hyannis marathon in 1995, when he was struck by a car driven by an 87-year-old woman in the 16th mile. Both his legs were broken, along with four ribs.

He was in a wheelchair for six months, but came back to run both the Los Angeles marathon and the 100th Boston Marathon the following year. He has run 21 marathons in all and was a member of the National Guard marathon team from 1986 to 1989.

His last marathon was in Boston (which he ran five times) in 1998.

I was shocked how non-chalantly the writer mentioned getting hit by a car!

Anyhow, Norman's got one last race to run and he's going to finish it and then have surgery a couple of weeks later.

What will be his time in the race? "I don't know how long it's going to take me, but I'll finish it if I have to crawl in," he said.

Sunday, July 1

The Big 2-0

Two weeks ago I ran 14 miles with Jim Evans out in Republic. It was a tough run. A blistering hot day. Maybe not blistering, but Jim showed me a trick that involved putting ice into small ziploc baggies and carrying it around in your hand until it melted. That's about two miles. Then you bite a small hole in the baggie and put it in your head and you've got ice water coming down your head and keeping you cool. It was hot.

So, the logical thing according to my schedule is that today I was going to run 16 miles. Slowly but surely building up the miles so I could get a few 20 mile runs in before the marathon in October. Yesterday in the shower though I started thinking, maybe I'll do 18. I had a big lunch and was planning on an even bigger dinner. And I did eat a lot.

Then today as I was out on the trail, it was pouring down rain. But there was no lightning. Well, right as I started running, I saw lightning fast Stephen Aleman. He and two other runners were coming to a flooded underpass. I said, "Are you running through there?" And they said they were going to try. But that part involved climbing around the raging waters. I also asked Steve if there was any threat of lightning. Nope, he said. It's just supposed to be like this all day.

And this was glorious. So what was initially a 16-mile run that got bumped in my head to an 18-mile run suddenly started getting another 2 miles longer.

A marathon is something but a marathon really isn't going to happen without the 20-mile training run. And that 20-mile training run is a major accomplishment. At least, I feel like I've done something worthwhile today.

20 miles. Now, I'm going to have to look and revise my long run schedule for the next couple of months but I'm feeling good about where I'm at.