Thursday, February 28

On overtraining

I read an interesting blurb on overtraining in an e-mail teaster I just got about an article in Play magazine which will come in this Sunday's New York Times.

"Though it seems innocuous, overtraining isn't just a matter of having overdone things in a workout or two," Gretchen Reynolds writes in her column, "Crash and Burnout." Overtraining is a recognized illness, she writes, one that's similar in some respects to chronic-fatigue syndrome and major depression, with symptoms that might include mood changes, insomnia and fatigue. The conundrum for elite athletes, then, is maximizing training without crossing the line into overtraining. While science doesn't agree on how best to avoid crossing that line, there is consensus on how to treat it: "Rest, rest and more rest," says Robert Schoene, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego.

I'll have to read that magazine. Everything in it looks fascinating.

Just running

I've been getting over a cold and trying to rest this week. I really need to sleep 8 hours.
I've been thinking about my mileage and my mileage goals.
And really, I just want to run.
Maybe I'll run more 5Ks and I'd like to run another marathon. Depending on my career situation, I'd kind of like my next marathon to be in another country. Great Wall Marathon or Macchu Picchu are two marathons that stand out.
But I'd just like to run without worrying too much about mileage or distance or math. 20 minutes to 2 hours. Just running three or four times a week. That would definitely be an advantage over where I am now.
I have two voices - kind of like the two angels you always see in cartoons. One good, one evil.
One angel says if you run you must track your mileage. Your courses. You must know exactly what you're doing. How far, how fast, how often.
The other angel says, "Shut up. Just run. Just have fun."
I'm not saying that one of these angels is good and the other evil. But I kind of want to just run without worrying about other things so much.

Wednesday, February 27

Anteater Ironman Triathlon (in absentia)

Shortly after R decided to do the Anteater Iron(wo)man Triathlon, I decided to participate along with her, albeit from 2700 miles away. This is also keeping me running (short distances) and cross-training, which is likely to help with my injury recovery efforts.

Thus far, I have run 11.3 miles out of 26.2, I have biked 36 miles out of 112, and I have swum 0.4 miles out of 2.4. I have another couple of weeks to finish all this, and with my upcoming trip to sunny Southern California (where it is not 17 degrees!) I should be able to stay abreast of the accomplishments of my remote Triathlon partner. I may even finish all three legs within the "official" window for UCI participants that ends March 14, despite the fact that I started a month late. If I retroactively include my activities since the official start on January 7, then I have easily tripled the requisite 26.2 miles, but the running distance was never a concern anyway. The additional biking to & from work that month may help, but since I've not done much swimming at any point, that no doubt will be the sticking point for the whole affair.

I had heard somewhere that the backstroke was not an allowed stroke for the swimming portion of a standard triathlon, so thus far I have eschewed any backstroking. But apparently that is a big fat lie, according to all of the official rules that I could find online. So my subsequent swims should go much better, now that I don't feel like I'd be cheating if I switch to the backstroke and relax a bit more while I'm swimming.

Monday, February 25

Is new Orleans on the road to Boston

I traveled to the Big Easy to do something small and difficult.

I ran the Mardi Gras Marathon. I’m a runner - have been for many years – but I never considered myself a marathoner. I have run a few marathons, with trepidation, and always with great difficulty. I have attempted these few marathons because, it seems, all “real runners” run marathons. I often wondered if I could run a marathon fast enough to qualify for Boston. It seemed unlikely. My best times were ten to fifteen minutes too slow and I am prone to injury when I run lots of miles in training. But maybe I could do better, just maybe enough to score that honored title.

I studied the race predictor charts and calculators. I tested my injury prone body. I looked for the optimal balance between high enough training intensity to qualify but low enough intensity to avoid injury. I knew that my best window of opportunity would be between October 2007 and April 2008. I could qualify as a sixty year old while I was still a young man of 59. It is also the time of year my log book indicates I have my best performances.

For five years I experimented by increasing and decreasing mileage while closely studying signs of an impending injury. I trained for and ran three marathons, not for peak performance, but to build my confidence. In the spring of 2007 I set my sights on the Houston Chevron marathon as the race that I would use to conquer my nemesis. The hot summer forced me to amend my training so I moved my goal forward a little to the Tallassee Marathon and registered for the Las Vegas half-marathon to help me prepare my body for a sustained faster pace. As the Las Vegas race approached I developed a mild injury that forced me to trim my mileage, but it had no adverse affect on my LV performance where I achieved a WAVA PR in the half-marathon. That training setback made me shift my goal marathon a little further toward spring. I revamped my training schedule and registered for the New Orleans Mardi Gras marathon on February 24, 2008. As the date approached I continued to examine the calculations. It looked like it would be close. If the course was not too long, if the weather cooperated, if I stayed healthy, and if I ran a smart race I might finish under the 4:00:59 I needed.

Saturday the 23rd I was in New Orleans. The course is flat with only one tiny hill over a freeway. The temperature was 20 degrees cooler than Friday with a prediction of warmer and more humid on race day but with no threatening heat or wind. I felt good. Andrea McGehee was there for the race. We bummed around, ate pasta, and enjoyed the city.

Sunday morning was cool (53 degrees) with fog drifting in off the lake. I was situated mid-pack when the gun sounded and found myself squeezed into a slow crowd as we navigated the trolley tracks down Bourbon Street. About two miles into the race on St. Charles Street things opened up and I could set my own pace without obstruction. I fought the inclination to “make up” for lost time but still ran faster than my goal pace for the early miles. At fourteen miles I calculated that I was averaging about eight seconds per mile too fast but I felt like I could hold out to meet my goal. By twenty-one miles I had slowed considerably but it felt like Boston was in my future. I pressed forward. At around 23 miles my legs were starting to feel the strain. I had lost quite a bit of my “banked” time and at mile 24 I had exactly twenty-two minutes left. I thought ten minutes per mile was surely doable. I focused on the pace readout of my Garmin trying to sustain just under the necessary ten minute per mile pace. Just past mile 25 experienced a cramp in my groin. Shortly, it became clear that I would have to “walk-it-off”. I walked for about twenty seconds expecting to make it up with a last-ditch effort in the final few hundred yards.

Seventy-nine seconds… It took me five years to prepare for the Mardi gras marathon and just over four hours to race it. If I had run it in 4:00:59 instead of 4:02:15 seconds, I would have qualified for the Boston marathon. I missed it by one-half of one percent. But, I am not concerned with the “what ifs”, I am focused on “what next.”

All I need is a one percent better performance and I will attain that illusive goal. I will run a few more or faster paced miles in training. I will get into a race with perfect weather on a fast course. I will peak at the exact moment the race begins. It will happen. I just need to find the perfect time and the perfect race and run again.

Sunday, February 24

Is this about feet or not?

Since the last two posts have been about non-running-related subjects, I'm posting an update on my Anteater Ironman.

This week went fairly badly in terms of mileage. I ran 6.6 miles, but haven't done any biking or swimming. I just gave blood this morning, so I'm not likely to do much of anything the rest of today.

It was, however, a great week in other respects--I had two days of rock climbing and was satisfyingly sore on Friday, after having successfully scaled several 5.7 routes without "rainbowing"--using holds not on the planned route. Since I have very limited experience rock climbing, it was satisfying to achieve a small challenge, and yet to be able to see how much more there is to try.

Yoga went reasonably well, and sailing yesterday was fun, if cold toward the end. It was so clear after the rain that the mountains were bright white against the blue sky, even when seen from the harbor. Then, more rain moved in.

Even my runs, though short, were both good. I didn't have a lot of time on Friday morning, so it felt like an extra accomplishment to scoot out the door just in time to do three miles before showering and heading to work. It was all the better that, wearing my GPS, I seemed to be going very slowly--every time I checked it, my pace was quite slow, around 11 minutes per mile. I kept trying to speed up, but then slowing down again. But, since I hadn't been running much this week and was sore from climbing, I wrote it off as a shake-out run. Then, I got home and actually looked at my route and time on the computer--somehow, the average pace was really 9:09 per mile. What a pleasant surprise!

Then, yesterday, I went for a short run in the evening, realizing that it would be better not to schedule a run for post-blood donation. The rain had stopped, and it was cool, but not too cold. I went back and forth, literally, between my room and the living room several times, trying to decide whether to run indoors on a treadmill or outside. Mainly I didn't want to be hit by a car or raped and killed. But, running on a treadmill wasn't a very inspirational idea, either. So, I picked up my things to go to the rec center, only to hide them near my house and go running anyway, because the evening was so beautiful and peaceful after the rain. My route took me up into a nearby canyon, with some undeveloped land near the road--lovely and rather secluded, which did make me think more about the getting raped and killed stuff, but also the only route I could think of where I could stay off the road the entire way, and had relatively few road crossings, too. The pond I ran past was chock-full of frogs, who were making a ridiculously loud din in the quiet night, and the well-lit sidewalk had a steady sprinkling of snails creeping across it, rather pretty in their own right, although making the run a little more of a slalom than normal, as I zig-zagged and sidestepped in attempt to avoid that horrible crunch of a shell that occasionally happens around here if you aren't careful. I did catch one with my toe and heard a noise that let me know he probably wasn't okay, even though I didn't step on him so much as kick him. The consolation is that a nighttime run through an unpaved field may well have had many more snail casualties.

So, at the end of one week, I still have 16.6 miles to run, 109.5 miles to bike, and 1.9 miles to swim. Better pick up the pace!


Thursday, February 21

Goin' to the Chapel...

As R and I will be getting hitched in a few months, I've recently been doing some reading up on various state marriage laws. According to the website that offers a state-by-state breakdown of marriage requirements, "If you want a fast and easy marriage, Las Vegas is the spot!"

Among the benefits of performing nuptials in that classy venue:
  • Hours of Operation for the Marriage License Bureau are 8 AM to Midnight, or 24 Hours on Holidays.
  • The application process takes 15 minutes; there is no waiting period (In some other states, the waiting period can be several days.)
  • Divorced applicants are required only to know the day, month, year, and state in which they were divorced (Other states are significantly more restrictive, including 30 day waiting periods after finalization of a divorce before allowing remarriage, requiring documentation of the divorce decree, and so on.)
  • Though one can't yet do the whole "'Til death do we part" thing online, Clark County Marriage License Applications are available online, to further expedite one's entry into the lifelong committment that is the Estate of Holy Matrimony.

    In fact, it appears that it's more onerous to fulfill the "complicated procedure to obtain a certificate of permission to perform marriages" in Nevada than it is to actually get married. It's good to know that the Great State of Nevada is doing its part to Defend Marriage by keeping an eye out for those unscrupulous preachers who would prey on all us soon-to-be newlyweds.

    For the record, Vegas can't hold a candle to the BJN Ranch and the Quail Valley Fun Barn.

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  • Wednesday, February 20

    McCain in Columbus

    I've been requested to post about my attendance at the McCain rally held in Columbus earlier this evening.

    McCain is not a rock star, so by no means did he give a a "throw your panties on the stage" sort of performance. But it was definitely a solid speech laying out the issues that are on his radar. Mostly he talked about foreign policy and national defense, and in that respect his hawkish, Vietnam War-era mentality is certainly evident. As McCain himself has said, he would sooner lose the election than lose the war in Iraq. At the same time, I was also impressed by how wide-ranging his "Wisconsin Primary Victory Speech" was. He touted his experience, of course, especially in the context of his capacity to respond to today's global events such as Castro's resignation and Musharraf's party's thrashing in the Pakistani parliamentary elections. But he also talked about plenty of other issues such as alternative energy sources, balancing the budget, and health care(!).

    Most of McCain's rhetorical saber-rattling was directed at an (unnamed) opponent who just might be "deceiving us with empty rhetoric" rather than promulgating substantive policies. Which tells me he's mostly written off Clinton in favor of taking early swipes at Obama. That certainly seems to be how the election is trending right now, but it is a tad premature prior to Clinton's "firewall" states of Texas and Ohio actually voting. If anybody should know from political resurrections, it's McCain.

    Apart from listening to The Mac hinself, it was interesting spending the hour and a half standing around ;-( prior to McCain's speech talking with other people in the crowd. Most everyone that I ran into was fairly rabidly partisan--your typical "Yellow Dog Republicans". But they were also relatively astute when it came to analysis of the issues, even if their electoral priorities were quite divergent from mine (at one point, the giant TV screens behind the podium were tuned to Fox News, where Political Analyst Karl Rove was pontificating about the Wisconsin results; I received a number of hurt looks when I ended up being the only person in the room booing Rove.) To be honest, at least part of the time I was testing the crowd to see what sort of people Republicans are nowadays, and I have to say that they were a smidge less narrow-minded than the Democratic partisans I've met of late--though (sad to say) the campus of Ohio State University is maybe not the best place to try to find "reasonable" supporters of the Democratic Party.

    I took a few videos of McCain's speech which I may upload later, but if you really want to see them you're probably better off just going to and getting the professional recordings. About the only moments I recorded that you won't see elsewhere online is McCain's ascending to the podium to the strains of "Taking Care of Business", and working the crowd after his speech to the tune of "Johnny B. Goode".

    Go, Johnny, Go! Go!


    Monday, February 18

    Sequiota Mess

    Where are we running? -- Lenny Kravitz

    My (rslight's) training plan called for a 15-mile long run today, and I attempted one on the Sequiota Park trail. I started at the park and headed south, and it didn't take long to witness damage from last week's ice storm.
    There were icy, wet spots on the first mile that caused me to briefly leave the trail and run in the road. I had to slow down and carefully move through mud under a highway bridge. An entire tree blocked the path at mile 1.6. I couldn't get around it so I returned to the park.

    I ended the run with 3.5 miles ... not what I had in mind. I immediately drove to my gym intending to knock out 10 treadmill miles, but the parking lot was filled past capacity. Apparently lots of folks decided to celebrate Presidents Day by exercising (or just standing around looking good). I gave up and decided to do 10 miles at the gym Tuesday.

    What a disappointment. (Although not as depressing as the horrible ending of "The Mist," a horror movie I unfortunately chose to view Sunday at The Palace.)
    I dunno. Does it matter whether I do 15 miles or 10 miles this week? Little Rock Marathon is less than two weeks away. My two 20-milers went well. I feel good and ready to go.

    Sunday, February 17

    Anteater Iron(wo)man!

    My gym, the Anteater Recreation Center, has a program called the Anteater Ironman Challenge. You get the academic quarter (10 weeks) to complete an Ironman--by bits and pieces, on different days. I just signed up for it last Friday, at the bitter end of week 6 of the quarter. So I have four weeks to complete the 2.4 mile swim, 26.2 mile run, and 112 mile bike ride.

    I am inordinately excited about this--a challenge, but a manageable one. If I finish by March 14th, I'll get a free t-shirt (while supplies last. I hope they last!). I'd like to think that I could finish before that, but who knows. I didn't sign up until after my workout on Friday, so my first bike ride was tacked on as an afterthought, on one of the stationary bikes at the gym. It would be more fun to have someone else doing it, too, but this should still be interesting.

    At this point, I've swum 0.5 miles, run 3, and biked 2.5. I'm starting to think I might have been mistaken, and the biking might be the hardest part...


    Friday, February 15

    Two miles

    I had a date tonight. It got postponed. I won't go into too many details about my personal life or how I feel about the date being postponed.

    Well here's one thing. I probably slept for three hours this afternoon. I woke up just before 5 and checked my watch/cell phone to make sure they were both telling me the right time. If it had been much earlier, I might have gone back to sleep.

    One of the many reasons I haven't been running is that I haven't been sleeping enough.

    OK. So then my date was canceled. Since I was pretty tired and groggy anyway, this was disappointing, but it wasn't the worst thing in the world. We're going to get together tomorrow.

    Here's the important thing. Since my date was off, I decided to go running. Two miles. Kansas Expressway and back.

    I ran two miles today. The long drought is over. It sprinkled today. The crops aren't saved but it might start raining regularly again. This is exciting and very good news. I ran two miles today. Spiritually, it almost feels like running 20. I may have stopped making sense but I am very happy.

    It's almost like burnout may also be a sort of injury. I don't know exactly how I'll ease back into running, but I'm happy. The journey begins with a step.

    --- update ---

    Besides running two miles, here's another good reason my date was canceled. I had a flat tire. Well, that's basically been resolved.
    Another day, another dollar that I don't have anymore.

    Thursday, February 14

    Kenya's Runners Race Through Fear

    An excerpt from Der Speigel:

    Since retiring in 2000, Kiptanui has worked as a talent scout, a coach and even as a trainer of the Kenyan national team at the World Outdoor Track & Field Championships in Paris. In the meantime, he built up a real estate company. He is what O'Connell calls "a role model."

    But Kiptanui also lives in fear. Three weeks ago the police stopped his driver, who had just bought a sack of potatoes. Everyone knows Kiptanui's cars. "You're transporting weapons," the police officers said to the driver. Then they beat him and, before letting him go, said: "We're going to kill you, and we're going to kill your boss, too."

    "The police can murder people in this country," Kiptanui says. "Anyone. At any time. Just like that."
    Kiptanui has made his case publicly, a move that makes him an even bigger target for the fanatics. Three weeks after the murder of Lucas Sang, marathon runner Wesley Ngetich was killed by a poison-tipped arrow, and Luke Kibet, the 2007 world champion in the marathon, was hit in the head by a rock. He survived, but since then he has carried a German-made G3 automatic rifle for protection. Kiptanui, for his part, no longer wants to hide.

    Kenya's athletes seem to have been caught in a deadly cycle. "Of course, they use their money to help their communities. They practically have a moral obligation to do so," says Colm O'Connell. "And in the end, who knows whether the money is really used to buy a sack of corn or a bow?" But few in the Rift Valley believe that Kenya's sports idols, of all people, are somehow in league with the militias.

    "It's absurd," says Kiptanui. "Overseas, we all run for Kenya and are considered the pride of the country -- no matter what ethnic group we belong to. But, here at home, everything is falling apart, and we're fighting each other."

    Go read the whole article.


    Tuesday, February 12

    So Much for the LA Marathon

    It's official: my knee injury has sidelined me for the L.A. Marathon that I was supposed to have run on March 2. For the moment, I am going to be engaged in physical therapy and several weeks worth of cross-training and/or short (no more than 5 mile) runs until the significant inflammation in some tendon or other is reduced. Oh, and I am to stay away from tracks. Apparently the 160 laps (= 640 turns) on the OSU Rec Center's indoor track wasn't particularly healthy for my knee.

    The good news is that the doctors at the OSU Sports Medicine clinic have no reason whatsoever to think that the injury will have any long-term consequences. And they'd even like to use the upcoming physical therapy as a way to wean me off of my knee braces permanently. Which is good, because right now the knee brace only seems to be making things worse, by putting unnecessary pressure on my inflamed tendon.

    The moral of the story: if you think you need to do a long run, and it's too cold outside, the indoor track is not the answer.


    There will be days

    Often I just gloss right over the quote of the week on the OMRR website but today it caught my eye.
    I thought I'd share it with the rest of the Feet crew, especially those who aren't in Missouri.

    "There will be days when I don't know if I could run a Marathon but there will be a lifetime of knowing that I have." - attribution unknown

    Monday, February 11

    Ice, Ice Baby

    So last night I was up late preparing my test for Wednesday and trying to figure out what was happening in my class this morning.
    This morning as I was hitting snooze, I heard the radio announcer say that there's no school.
    No school for ice isn't quite as much fun as no school for snow.
    For snow, for snow, I really wanted to go running in the snow when I went home for Christmas and even since I've been back home.
    Back home I haven't been running much lately, haven't been running much anywhere. But soon enough I'll run again. Just don't think I'll take any chances with all this ice we've got out today.

    Sunday, February 10

    Sexy Polar Bear Time

    Lyric omission -- I'm unable to think of any rock songs about polar bears

    The good polar bear news is that I (rslight) set a nice personal record of 48:34 at Saturday's Polar Bear 10k in Bolivar.
    The even better polar bear news is that I focused on my Garmin pacing me to a PR and didn't go my maximum speed. There's room for improvement.
    The bad polar bear news is that I failed to keep up with Jim Evans, who was 47:30 or something. Didn't even see him during the race.

    I'm pleased with the time. It's a sexy finishing time.

    Back to Chicago

    Here it goes, here it goes, here it goes again -- O.K. Go

    I (rslight) signed up for the 2008 Chicago Marathon last week.

    I know what you're thinking. You're thinking I clearly haven't learned my lesson.

    This year should be a different experience. I'll be faster and better prepared, and the marathon has a new sponsor in Bank of America. Bank of America may control the weather better.

    Friday, February 8

    full moon

    I looked at my calendar and yesterday was a full moon.

    I looked at my calendar because I just read a story about shootings on two college campuses.

    A 23-year-old woman killed two fellow students in a classroom at a vocational college Friday, then killed herself, police said. In South Carolina, a person was shot at Greenville Technical College, but was expected to survive.

    This is after someone in suburban St. Louis went into a City council meeting shot a police officer, the mayor and was ultimately shot dead himself.

    Some people think astrology is just silly, but I do think it matters when there's a full moon. I think it helps explains things a little bit sometimes.

    Also, you can talk to any elementary school teacher and they will also confirm for you that full moons have major impacts on how students behave.


    Not running, not sleeping

    Not only am I not running much anymore, I'm also not sleeping well.

    Something's wrong and it's hard to express it.

    I've got to regularly sleep more than 6 hours a night before I can run. I really need a goal before I run though, especially with the weather being so cold.

    We'll see.

    I hope you're running and training is going better than mine. I just want to sleep, which I think I'll go do right now.

    Tuesday, February 5

    Super Tuesday


    Sunday, February 3

    Missing the Point

    Orange County Marathoners Coping with Wind, Rain

    Light rain is falling across much of Orange County, making life miserable for many of the 16,000 runners in today’s Surf City Marathon in Huntington Beach, which began at 6:50 a.m. The runners also are coping with 10-15 mph winds that could gust to 45 mph later today, says the National Weather Service.


    Gee, it's a good thing I signed up for a regatta rather than a marathon today... Things will be far more comfortable on a boat. At least my electrolytes will be replenished continuously, as they splash onto my face.

    I thought the point of Southern California in winter is that it's easier to stay warm?


    Saturday, February 2

    Let the games begin

    The “Beat Jim in ‘08” has now officially begun.

    The Polar Bear race in Bolivar pretty much ushers in the new running season in the Ozarks. For those of you living in foreign lands, I hope you too will wake from your seasonal hibernation and join us in an exciting new year of racing. From now on it just gets better and better.

    Take a look at OMRR’s posted race calendar. I will try to race every weekend I am in the area.
    My plans:
    1. Polar Bear 10K – 2/08
    2. Mardi Gras Marathon, New Orleans – 2/24
    3. Missouri Winter Games 5K – 3/1
    4. Ozark PTA 5K – 3/8
    5. Frisco Highline 13.1 – 3/22

    For KWK, anonymous, and others, email me ( and let me know how you plan to score a pizza by beating me before mid-July. For the rest of you, and you know who you are, good luck.

    Remember; runners cooperate rather than compete.