Kentucky Pain

I'll keep this short. If you read my training log you know that I pulled my hamstring just before the four mile mark and had to hobble my way to the finish at Club Nationals. Not what I hoped for but I never considered dropping out. Cross country is a team sport and every man counts. Team Ohio ended up 7th out of 18 teams in the 40-49 division. Bella took this photo sequence of me hobbling and this pretty much what it was like for me over the last 2 miles. I went from running 6:10 pace on the hilly and muddy course to something like 15:00 for the final two miles. Most pain I've ever felt in a race! Fortunately the injury isn't too bad and I should be ok to do some easy running in about a week.

Had to borrow a cane from my wife post-race to walk around.

Finally, here's a pretty good photo of me early on in the race pre-injury:


17:38 and 30,000 words

This past Saturday I ran my fastest 5K of the year at the Reindeer Run in Lakewood, hitting 17:38. The weather was perfect -- low 40s -- and the field was really deep. I was only 19th overall. Usually sub 18 is good for top 5 in these parts. This was more like a race in the 1980s when less people competed, but the people who did run tended to be really fast. My pace was pretty even. 5:38 for the mile (might have been a tad short), 11:30 for 2 miles (that seemed about right), and  17:05 for 3 miles with :33 to the finish. Next up is Club Nationals cross country on Saturday in Lexington, KY. I've just been running easy this week. The weather is looking pretty ideal -- low 50s -- though there's a chance of showers, which might make for a muddy course.

In other news, I've hit 30,000 words on Velocity Boy and I think I'll have a 'rough' rough draft finished by Christmas. I feel like I'm maybe 2/3 of the way through. I've been writing about music all my life, but this is my first stab at fiction. As mentioned in another blog post, Velocity Boy is set in the mid-1980s and chronicles the adventures of a rock 'n' roll obsessed 20-year old college student named Drew who goes to England for a study abroad program. Will he eventually find peace, love and understanding in a haze of alcohol, soft drugs and casual sex?  I'll be posting a Velocity Boy playlist soon. It will be a selection of tunes by artists Drew sees in concert or just happen to be playing in the background when he's at bars, parties or in girls rooms.



Progress on two fronts:

1) Running: Workouts have been going very well. Over the last few weeks I've done a couple of 10K specific pace workouts on the track and tempo workouts on grass. Two weeks ago I did 20 x 400 w/ 100 jogs and averaged 87/88 like clockwork. The following week I did 10 x 800 w/ 200 jogs and stayed at the same pace for twice the length, hitting 2:55/2:56 for my average. Before club nationals I'll do 5 x mile with 400 jogs at hopefully 5:50 give or take. If I can do this, I should hopefully be able to break 38 on the hilly Lexington, KY cross country course. My cross country workouts have been either 3 x 2 mile on a marked grass path at Lakewood Park (when I was in Portland I did 2 x 3 mile on some trails). I'm feeling comfortable with off road running and also feeling smooth at 10K effort work on the track. My next races will be a 5K tomorrow in Avon and another 5K in Lakewood on Dec. 1 as a final rustbuster for nationals on Dec. 8.

2) Writing: 2 weeks ago I started a fiction writing project that is turning into a full-blown novel. I've already written 15,000 words and feel like I'm maybe 1/3 of the way through. Working title is Velocity Boy, a play on the Primal Scream B-side, not the mediocre 90s band who took their name from the same song. The story is set in the mid-80s and chronicles the adventures of a mildly immature music-obsessed 20-year old who goes to England for his junior year abroad.  Will he find peace, love and understanding in a haze of soft drugs, hard alcohol, loud rock 'n' roll and not always safe sex?


Still Alive

Apologies for the lack of posts lately. Here are a few updates:

1) Running. The running has been going pretty well. I had a solid 5K race on October 28 running 18:20 on a hilly course in extremely windy conditions. Sandy was just beginning to kick in that Sunday morning and the winds were already pushing 30+ mph. Like the 5K earlier in the month I ran a pretty even first two miles and had a strong negative split closing mile. I feel really strong but I think I need a few more 5K races to get the speed back so my new racing plan will be to do the Avon Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving and the Reindeer Run on December 1 as final tune ups pre-club nationals.

2) Rock 'n' Roll. I've written a few reviews for the forthcoming issue of the Big Takeover that I'll post on here soon.

3) Other writing. I've never written fiction before, just rock criticism and academic stuff when I was in school, but I'm playing around with what I think will be a novel length story about an Anglophile college student in the 80's who spends a year in England. Most of it's true but it didn't all happen to me! So far I've written 5,000 words that I'm pretty happy with.


Nature's Bin 5K: Nice step in the right direction

This was probably my best race of the year. Yesterday I ran 17:49 at the Nature's Bin 5K with a huge negative split. Conditions were pretty ideal -- mid 40s though a little windy going out but that made the tailwind nicer on the last 1.5 miles, which is a straight shot down Lake Avenue. My early pace felt pretty controlled and I thought it felt faster than 5:54 at the mile, but I trusted how I felt and didn't panic to try to make up for lost time. The second mile I just tried to stay in the groove but not overextend myself. There were a few guys that were coming back to me and this made it easy to lock into my pace. When I hit the turn off Edgewater onto Lake I got a sudden extra gear and just started running as hard as I could. Right after the turn I hit the 2 mile in 11:47 (5:53) and I figured if I knew that if I just held pace I'd break 18:00. I ended up doing much better and hit the 3 mile mark in 17:16 (5:29) and then kicked it in as hard as I could. I came from way back to catch a guy on the final straight but he managed to outkick me. In any case, I'll definitely take it. I haven't had a really good negative split race in a long time. I think my focus on short intervals with short recovery, like the 16 x 400 with 100 recoveries workout I did earlier this week, are really helping me. I also think that the combo long run/tempo workouts are helping too as well as giving myself 2-3 days between stress workouts. Next up is a 2 mile road race in New Orleans on Friday, which will be a nice speed workout. It's going to be weird running in 80 degree temps again though the race is an evening race so it might be a little cooler.


A tale of two workouts

Most serious runners keep a training log. I've found it to be a great tool for analyzing what works and what doesn't work for me. It's also motivating when you notice that you are improving at the same workout. Earlier this week I ran a session of 16 x 400 on the Rocky River track with 100 meter jogs for recovery. The goal was to run the 400s at about 8K/10K effort. From the beginning I noticed that I was hitting my recoveries much faster than usual, while hitting my 400s at the desired pace. Definitely a really good sign. For the 400s I was nailing consistent 87's and the recoveries were all like 30-33 seconds. Normally when I do this workout it takes me about 40 seconds for each recovery jog. With that said, my overall time for 8k (5 miles) was 31:51 (4 miles of work at just under 5:50 pace, plus a total of one mile easy on the recoveries). Looking back at my log, I noticed that earlier this summer and fall I did the same workout and while my 400s were at similar pace, the overall time was much slower. The last time I did this workout my overall time had been in the high 33's and before that, just over 35. This leads me to believe that whatever I'm doing now is working for me! Obviously race performance is the most important thing and as fall kicks in, I'm feeling optimistic. Next up is a 5K road race on Saturday and the following week, a Halloween themed 2 mile race in New Orleans. For the latter, I'll wear a costume and treat more as a hard workout than a serious race.


One of those races

Every year I seem to do a race that is really badly marked and ends up being really short or really long. I don't have a Garmin so I can't back this up but yesterday's It's Better Than Mentor 5 miler seemed to fall in the latter category. Someone did mention that the race started further back than previous years even though it finished in the same spot. I know my pace really well from consistent interval and tempo workouts down to a few seconds either way, and knew right away something was off when I hit the mile mark in 6:18, running all alone in third place. Two youngsters already had a big gap at me by this point. I went out in a very conservative 6:05 back on my Labor Day race when it was really hot and humid and this felt much more aggressive. It got stranger as we veered off the roads and hit a dirt trail where I came up to the 2 mile mark in 13:45! WTF? I did lose a little ground in the second mile when I missed a marker and had to back track a bit but at most that was maybe 20 seconds (As a side point they could have had a few more volunteers on the course to guide people). Coming off the dirt trail I hit a normal bike path and a pretty big climb leading to the 3 mile marker and suddenly I was at 19:05. So I'm supposed to believe I did a hilly mile in 5:20 right after a flat 7:00 minutes plus mile. In any case, I felt like my effort was pretty consistent throughout and I felt very strong on the hills and trail segments. My overall time was 31:26 (6:17 pace) for 3rd overall and first in my age group. I ran alone the whole times as the top two guys were way ahead of me and 4th place was more than 2 minutes behind me. I'll file this under a good strength workout since I certainly got that and will have to wait and see how my 5K goes in 2 weeks to get a really good gauge of where I'm at fitness wise.


Fall Racing Plans

It's been awhile since I've posted. Work has been busier than usual but my training has been solid. I seem to be doing well with two stress workouts each week and three or four short and easy runs for recovery. I had a solid race on Labor Day Weekend in very humid conditions, running 30:15 for 5 miles. Looking at the results, a lot of runners I know ran as much as 45-60 seconds slower than normal so hopefully that's a good sign for things to come. My pacing was especially even. Next up is another 5 miler on September 23 in Mentor. I've never run this race but the course description of rolling hills and scenic paths sounds appealing. After that I have a 5K on a very fast course on October 6, a 2 mile road race while we're in New Orleans for the premiere of the NOLA Bound documentary my wife is in, another 5K at the end of October and then, most likely, the very hilly Twinsburg Turkey Trot (Nov. 17?), a 5K tune up and, finally, Club Nationals cross country in Lexington, KY on Dec. 8.


Cross Country Photos

Here are some photos from last week's cross country race that I did at Lorain Community College. I was 5th overall in a field mainly consisting of high school runners -- I was the first 'old' guy. My time was on the slow side, but the course was pretty rough with tall grass and a nasty hill we had to hit twice. I keep forgetting that cross country is a totally different sport to track and road racing.

The start: Gunning after the youngsters who went out too fast

Near the finish:

Another near the finish:


Updating Things

(Photo: Frank Shorter and Kenny Moore, first and fourth, 1972 Olympic Marathon)

It's been forever since I've blogged and more than forever since I've written anything about music, so I'll try to be better on both accounts. As far as recent news goes, Bella and I moved into a new place at the end of last month. We're renting a 10th floor condo with fantastic lake views and enough amenities that you pretty much never need to leave the building, though I do for work (to pay for this!) and to work out. The running has been going well all of a sudden after feeling stuck in a rut. I seem to have come up with a sequence that works for me (inspired by legendary 70s marathoner Kenny Moore's training cycle that alternates a hard day, followed by two very easy recovery days).  I'm trying to get in three quality workouts in a 9/10 day cycle that work on all aspects of my game. Key workout number 1 is a longer run (I'm comfortable at 12 right now and probably don't need to get much more beyond that for my racing goals, just need to get faster!). The second key is a high end threshold workout of some sorts. Last week I did 5 x mile with 440 recoveries in the park and another one I also like is 20 x 400 w/ 100 jogs on the track. Park fartleks like 5 miles of 2 minutes hard / 1 easy also fall into this category. The third 'big' workout is more in the 3K/5K spectrum, like 10 x 1 minute hard / 1 easy or the Moneghetti variation where you do 2 x 90, 4 x 60, 4 x 30, 4 x 15. I did the latter today and managed to cover a tad more than 5K in 20 minutes, hitting 3 miles @ 6:20 pace. I'm guessing my surges were around 5:20 pace and the 'slow' segments just over 7:00. Workouts like this are good race simulations.

Next Sunday I'm doing an evening 5K cross country race at Lorain Community College. It will be fun to dust off the spikes for that and have a few beers post-race with my friend Matt, who is also running. After that I'll do the Northcoast Challenge 5 miler on September 1, where I really hope to get well under 30 again for that distance.


RIP Pat Porter

Two-time Olympian Pat Porter (1984 and 1988) died in a plane crash yesterday along with his son and one of his son's friends. He leaves behind his wife Trish (a former Olympian in the high jump) and his daughter. While Porter's forte on the track was the 10,000 meters, his real niche was cross country where he was a consistent top-10 performer in the World Cross Country Championships and won 8 consecutive US titles. Porter was one of my favorite runners. He was a fearless front runner -- I vividly remember him leading the World XC race in 1984 (back when network television would show sports like cross country) before fading to fourth behind legends Carlos Lopes, Tim Hutchings and Steve Jones. Tomorrow I will hammer 8 or 9 miles in his memory. RIP.


File Under Enthusiastic!

Runners all have their weird warm up quirks, but this is pretty ridiculous! She does win the race though!


Kenyan Boot Camp

I've been slow on the update front lately but I don't have too much new to report other than I've been training hard and taking a hiatus from racing until Labor Day Weekend. I'm in a phase that I'm calling Kenyan boot camp. I'm running a hilly 9-mile course in the Rocky River Reservation three times a week (plus one or two easy runs), working different systems each time. Mondays I'm doing fartleks with surges ranging from one-minute to one mile; Thursdays are fast-finish progression runs (a Kenyan staple), starting at normal effort and building to the tempo zone and slightly beyond; Saturdays are standard easy runs, just going by feel. I'm also doing push up workouts three-days a week (Sunday, Tuesday, Friday). Tomorrow will mark the end of week 2 on the 8-week 100 Pushups Program. I've done this program in the past and it works. I can never get to 100 all at once but I have hit 70.


Bay Days 5 Mile Race Report

I thought that it was hot in the Ohio City race I did a few weeks ago, but, man, this was a scorcher. Even at 8:30am it was pushing 90 and humid. My 15 minute warm up had me drenched. Good thing I was well hydrated. The race went about as well as I expected considering the conditions. I cruised the first mile in 6:11 and the effort felt right so I didn't force it. Initially, I thought I might be able to run sub 6:00s, but while that would have been doable if it were 60 degrees, I seemed too quick for where I was at for this race. In any case I stayed locked in a good groove and clicked off miles just under or just over 6:10 pace. I remember being like 18:27 at 3 miles and feeling like I could bring it home faster but by mile four the heat was too much and I was glad to just hold pace. Like the Ohio City race, I kept on passing people the whole way and was never passed. That said, I'm not really where I want to be but that will come. I'm never fully satisfied anyway as I tend to be a perfectionist about a lot of things. My plan isn't to race again until another 5 miler on Labor Day weekend. I want to get some good workouts and start thinking about fall cross country, which means hills and tempos. I will be running in a Corporate Challenge 10K relay on August 4. Each team has 6 runners (3 men and 3 women) and we each run a mile (one of us, most likely me, has to do a 1.2 mile leg). That should be pretty fun!


Track 10K

Yesterday, in honor of the Olympic Trials 10,000 meter final, which was held in Eugene, Oregon last night (the top three going to London are LR: Galen Rupp, Dathan Ritzenhein, and Matt Tegenkamp), I decided to do a track workout that totals 10K on the nose. An old classic: 20 x 400 w/100 meter jog recoveries. I tried to keep the 400s at 10K race effort or just a notch slower as it was in the low 80s and I didn't want to bonk in the heat. The workout went smoothly as I gradually ran faster and faster over the course of the workout. My overall average was right around 6:00 pace for the reps and my recovery jogs were all in the 35-40 second range, so hardly any recovery at all, which is the point of this workout. If you're ever looking for a good 8K or 10K race simulation workout, try this! Next up for me is the Bay Days 5 miler on July 4 and as it's an 8:00am start (I think), I'm hoping the temps will be at worst low 70s (maybe wishful thinking?). This week has been good. I feel recovered from last weekend's 5K race and should be in good shape for July 4. Easy mileage and a lighter threshold workout on Thursday is the plan for this week.


Ohio City Run & Crawl 5K Report and a rant about non-runners who think they're runners

First race in 10 weeks or so if I don't count the 10K in Michigan I dropped out of 2 months ago with achilles and calf issues, which caused me to miss two weeks of running. Really happy with how this went considering it was mid-80s and very humid when the gun went off at 7pm. I love racing in the evening but it's always more fun to do so in the Spring or Fall. Anyway, I ran 18:24 (5:55 pace) and finished 8th overall (3rd in my AG which was 40-49 - this race does 10 year blocks). I ran a smart and conservative race, hitting the 2 mile split in 11:55 before finishing my last 1.2 at just under 5:50 pace. A lot of young gym rats did this race for some reason, so the start was a bit crazy with a bunch of beefy guys sprinting out fast only to get reeled in by the ectomorphs after their two to three minutes of fame wore off. There seems to be a new breed of younger guy that seemingly does nothing except the bench press for workouts - I keep seeing all these guys with ridiculous upper bodies but skinny legs. I have nothing against guys lifting but I hate it when big guys think they can do well at my sport or any endurance sport for that matter! US Olympian Abdi Abdirahman is my height but somehow weighs 10 pounds less than me! That's the reality of this sport where even one pound over ideal racing weight can translate into a loss of 2 seconds per mile.

Next up for me is the Bay Days 5 miler on July 4, probably my favorite race every year. Hopefully I should be able to run the same pace I did yesterday at the longer distance, which would translate to something in the 29:30-29:40 range.



"Blues From A Gun" is of course one of the stellar singles from the Jesus and Mary Chain's underrated third album Automatic. For the first time since I was injured, my training has been feeling 'automatic'. All my workouts are clicking and my recovery rate is back to normal -- by normal I mean old guy normal. I could handle a lot more when I was a kid. This week ended with a really good 16 x 400 session on Thursday and a 90 minute trail run on Saturday. Next Saturday I race for the first time in two months, more than that if you don't count the mid-April 10K that I had to drop out of with achilles/calf issues. 


16 x 400: getting my groove back

16 x 400 w/ 100 jogs at Rocky River HS today. The workout went much better than two weeks ago. This time I averaged 86/87 like clockwork and felt much stronger. I always try to run this workout at what feels like 5 mile race effort. Not as much of a redline as a 5K effort but definitely more aggressive than tempo pace. Feeling better about my race on June 16.


Feeling Nostalgic

Steve Prefontaine would have turned 61 last week if he hadn't been tragically killed in a car wreck in 1975 at age 24. Pre had already finished fourth in the 1972 Olympic 5,000 and was one of the favorites for Montreal 1976. Running culture has changed a lot since then, and in my eyes, not really for the better. Running used to be more of a rebel sport like surfing where guys and gals would push themselves hard to test their limits. It used to take a 2:50 marathon for men under 40 to qualify for Boston, now the standard is like 20 minutes slower! Now the gap between elite runners and recreational runners is staggering. I'm not trying to be a snob but I don't like running being a bucket list sport where finishing becomes more important than pushing your body to its physical limits. What I really hate is how expensive things have become, mainly because participants expect so many goodies from a race. Here's a list of things I could do without entirely just to cut race entry fees a bit.

1) Race t-shirts: most of these are ugly with corporate logos all over the place. I've pretty much donated every race t-shirt I've ever been given to Goodwill.

2) Finishers medals. I'd much rather be given a beer after a race. Give the medals to the kids.

3) Age Group Awards. Again, give the trophies and the medals to kids and for awards, give some prize money to the top male and female runners. Support the youngsters who may be chasing their dream of running in a national championship race or even the Olympic trials. I'm grateful that I was born with the talent to have done quite well with running but I really don't like getting trophies and medals. The ones I've won are in boxes in my closet. If anyone knows of a charity that will take them to give to kids, let me know.


Race legs returning

Ran a 4 mile tempo on the track this morning and averaged 7 seconds per mile faster than I did on this same workout two weeks ago. Most importantly, my overall heart rate was actually a little lower and I never got over 90% max of heart rate reserve. I ran it as a progression, starting slowly and working up to 85% by mile two. Splits were 6:28, 6:21, 6:19, 6:10 (6:19 pace overall). More work to do (I always say this) but I felt strong and in control. Next week I'll probably do 16 x 400 w/ 100 jogs again and that should set me up for my race on June 16.


The Lucid Dream: Object of Reality

Here's a snippet from the forthcoming Lucid Dream Object of Reality compilation that will be out on my label, Elephant Stone Records, in a few weeks. The Lucid Dream were from Cheltenham, England and caused a few waves in their too-brief 1990-92 career. Some of their material was released on Echo and The Bunnymen's Euphoric label. Most of what's on the collection, however, has never seen the light of day.


16 x 400 w/ 100 recoveries

Went to the track today to do an old school strength workout. Back in the day, runners ran on the track a lot more than they do now, but they didn't always just do fast speedwork. On days where today's runners might opt for a tempo on the roads, the 'old timers' would do slower intervals with very brief recoveries. Emil Zatopek was probably the pioneer for this sort of training, often doing as much as 40 x 400 in a single session! With that in mind, one of my favorite 8K/10K workouts is 16-20 x 400 w/ 100 jog recoveries @ 10K effort. You get in tune with race pace without killing yourself, but because the recoveries are so brief, your heart rate stays up. With today's temps already over 80 degrees at 10:30am when I started my warm up, I was thankful to get the brief recoveries while still getting in some quality work. I hit all my reps like clockwork in 91-92, which was a good sign considering the conditions. Probably worth a few ticks faster per rep on a 50-60 degree day. I obviously have work to do, but this week has been better than last week and I felt stronger today than I did on last week's tempo. I'm still thinking June 16 for my first post-injury race.


Healing Trail Run

Since coming back from my injury hiatus, my runs have been gradually getting better but I've still been pretty damn sore from day to day. Decided to run on the trails in Mastick Woods today and what do you know? A perfect run. I get lazy about driving to Mastick since it takes me about 25 minutes to get there but every time I run there I'm glad. I need to commit to running there a few times every week, especially for my longer runs. Today I did 74 minutes - I'll call it 9.5 miles. My tentative plan for my key workouts next week is a longer run at Mastick on Monday, some sort of threshold workout on Thursday on the track (surface is much easier on the legs than the 'crete) and a another trail run on Saturday. Filler runs as necessary depending on how I feel. Right now my plan is not to race again until the Ohio City 5K in mid-June. It's a 7pm race that starts and finishes outside of the Great Lakes Brewery Brew Pub. Can't beat that!


Rust(buster) Never Sleeps

Bad Neil Young pun I know, but I had a good tempo rustbuster on the track today so why not? After a 2 mile warm up with strides, I ran a 4 mile progressive tempo with the goal to start slow and run each mile a little faster than the one before without going over 90% Max Heart Rate Reserve. My splits were 6:36, 6:28, 6:22, 6:18. My heart rate got to 85% by the end of mile 2 and I was able to comfortably hold true threshold pace over the last 2 miles, never in danger of going into the red (over 90). 2 mile cool down made it 8 miles for the day. Wore new flats in the tempo portion, New Balance RC 1400s and I like them a lot. 7 ounces so slightly heavier than some models I had been wearing but much better for my calf and achilles as the cushioning is really good. They're built on the same last as the New Balance 890 light weight trainer, which has been my favorite training shoe over the last few years. Here's Oasis covering a Neil Young classic!


Double 9's

I realize that when I'm not racing or even doing hard workouts, I get a little lazy with this blog. Rest assured, I've been plugging away and each run has been better than the one before. This week I've done hilly 9 milers at Rocky River Reservation on Monday and Wednesday and I'm feeling almost normal. My pace is a little off from where I'm usually at in my aerobic heart rate zone, but that will come. My right achilles is still a little tender (usually just early on in the run and then it goes away). I have another ART treatment tomorrow, which I know will help. Next week I think I'll be ready for a moderate temp run.

In music news (I've really been slacking on the rock 'n' roll portion of this blog), I have a CD coming out on my Elephant Stone Records label. Visit for more details. It's a reissue of a UK band called The Lucid Dream who were around in 1990-92. If you like Echo and The Bunnymen, Teardrop Explodes, early Inspiral Carpets, you should like this a lot.


Rolling With It

A few good runs this week so far, including 8 miles on Monday, 5 on Tuesday, and 8 more today. Monday's run was in perfect 50 degree weather, today was 80 and very humid. This is where the heart rate monitor comes in handy. Both runs were done in the aerobic 60-70% HR zone but today's run was about 20 seconds per mile slower, even though I felt better today. Heat and humidity make a huge difference on your heart rate! The Achilles is a little tender but getting better with each run. I had another ART treatment yesterday and Dr. Keyes thinks I only need 1-2 more. ART hurts a lot but you can't argue with the results. Not sure when I'll try a hard workout but I think I should be good for a short tempo in a week - 10 days. I won't fight it. I'll know when it feels right.


Running Again

My ART appointment went really well with Dr. Tim Keyes. The diagnosis is that I have scar tissue in my Achilles, Calf and Quad, and my IT band is tight. All on my right leg. He said the tissue felt like little grains of sand when he worked my Achilles! The good news is that Dr. Keyes thinks this can be fixed in 2-4 sessions. My first session went really well. It's pretty painful at times when the knots in your leg get worked on but I felt amazing after. Dr. Keyes said I should run on it a few times before my next appointment and those workouts have gone well. The Achilles feels a little tender when I run, but it's 100% otherwise. Thursday I did an easy 5 miler and that felt other than feeling a bit clumsy since I hadn't run for 11 days before that. Yesterday I did an easy 6 miler and that was much better. Plan is to do 6 or 7 tomorrow and slowly work my way up until I can run comfortably for 90 minutes. Once I can do that, I can think about adding some tempos etc. No hurry though. I don't need to force the fitness. In high school and college you always had clear racing seasons so an injury could be devastating. When you're older you can find races every week all year round so I can afford to be patient.


Some Thoughts on Recovery

Today is the first day that I feel good enough to run, but with 9 days off already I'm just going to make it a full two weeks to play it really safe. The ART appointment on Wednesday should hopefully get me back to completely normal. Outside of the Calf and Achilles feeling much better, I've noticed that other aches and pains that I always thought were normal have disappeared. Competitive runners do a good job managing recovery in their micro-cycles (i.e. taking easy days in between weekly long runs, tempos etc.) but we don't always do so well with the macro-cycles (i.e. taking down time in between competitive seasons). We worry too much about losing fitness that we can never regain. In the past I've taken 2 weeks off after club nationals in December, but this year I didn't because I missed a lot of time due to injury last Spring. One thing I always seem to forget is that it's really hard to get out of shape once you are in shape. Roger Bannister took 4 or 5 days off before running his first sub-4:00 mile. As long as you can maintain your racing weight or not gain too much, it's not hard to get back into it. Normally when I take two weeks off, it only takes me a few runs to get back to normal everyday training pace.  So I'm just trying to chill like the monkey in the picture and will be more than ready to start running again next weekend. Not trying to force when I'll race again, but I'm thinking earliest possible would be Memorial Day weekend but realistically more like mid-June.


Making some progress

Just a small update. Each day has been better than the last and I can finally walk almost pain free -- my achilles is still pretty tender and my calf is still really tight.  I have a sports massage tomorrow so hopefully that will help get out some of the kinks. I'm guessing I'll be able to walk normally by the weekend, so right now I'm thinking I will need a full 2 weeks off of running to play it safe. I'll see how the ART goes next week. At this point I can't see myself racing again until at least Memorial Day Weekend. In retrospect, I probably raced a little more than I should have this Spring. Over the last year I've been constantly retweaking my training to stay healthy. It's a frustrating part of amsters running. When you're a kid, it's as easy as run a lot and you'll get better, but as masters guy it's all about the recovery. You can do the same kinds of workouts but you need a lot more time inbetween.


Unexpected Down Time

Well, my 10K race in Michigan didn't go as planned. In fact, I dropped out of a race due to an injury for the first time ever. My Achilles had been bothering me ever so slightly over the last two weeks but nothing that I really noticed once I got warmed up. My right calf and quad have been a little tight too. Consistent tightness in my right leg (never the left) is why I get a sports massage every three to four weeks. Anyway, in the race about half way through I noticed the pain come fairly strong and I was forced to ease back to see if I could shake it off. It kept getting worse. I had a hard time pushing down on my right leg due to the pain. By mile 5 I was reduced to walking as my calf got so tight I could only limp. Luckily, I was only a mile or so from the finish so I didn't have far to limp. I was also lucky that my host, Stephen, is a nurse. He got me all iced up and over the rest of the weekend I had several ultrasound type treatments. Can't remember what his device is called but that helped significantly. Every day has been better post-race but I'm still a little gimpy. I have a sports massage on Friday and an Active Release session on Wednesday the 25th. I've never done ART but that may be the ticket to getting all the knots out of my calf. My massages only seem to go so far.

I probably won't try running until after the two sessions and only if I can walk completely normal with no pain whatsoever. An old friend once said that you have to ride the waves of life like the Silver Surfer so I'll just roll with this wave.


Welcome to Mile Club: Week 2 - Timed Mile

Back at it for my Mile Club. After last weeks 4 x 400 session, my key workouts were a 5K race on Saturday and an easy 11 miler on Monday. Yesterday I went out to the track to do another mile specific workout. Rich Stiller, who publishes the Last Chance Runner blog (see my sidebar for link), has given me some amazing training advice over the last 6 months or so. When he was 50, he alternated a series of 4 different weekly workouts and in a 6 month span lowered his mile time from 6:07 to 5:19. The workout I opted for this week was to do a single timed mile at about 10-15 seconds slower than what I could do an all out mile in on that day, so basically 2 mile race pace. The winds were especially strong and the temps were a bit on the cool side (about 40F) when I ran so I knew I wouldn't do anything blazing. I ended up hitting a very evenly paced 5:33, not killing myself but hitting it decently hard. The weird thing was that my heart rate only got up to 90% of my max -- I'm guessing it was due to the wind as it was very hard to push beyond a certain effort. In any case, that felt right for the day. Funny how my 5:38 opening mile in Saturday's 5K felt so much easier. Shows how different it is in a race as a opposed to training by yourself. The key though is to continue to work on the mile once a week without sacrificing my 5K - 10K training.

Next up is the Meteor 10K in Michigan on Saturday. The video above is of Filbert Bayi's 1975 mile world record race where he edges out Marty Liquori. I'm pretty sure I saw this as a kid on ABC's Wide World of Sports. What an amazing show that was.


Bogsucker Strut 5K Race Report - Monkey's Off My Back!

Finally got this year's sub-18 5K monkey off my back (more on that below). This was my best week of running in a few weeks and it culminated with a really solid 17:45 for third place overall at the Bogsucker Strut 5K in Twinsburg. I had never done this race before, but I've run several races that start and finish at the Twinsburg Recreation Center and they're always well organized. Fortunately, yesterday's 5K was a much faster course than that Turkey Trot 5 miler that hits some very steep dirt trails! We also had ideal weather -- low 40s at the start. This was an out and back that was net downhill the first mile, which meant the last mile would be the toughest. With that in mind, I tried to hold back as much as possible on the blazing first mile. I hit 5:38, feeling like it was about 10 seconds slower. Much more controlled than that 5K race in Louisville back on St. Patrick's Day. Good sign. Soon after the mile mark, we hit a narrow and scenic bike path before making a very abrupt turn around some cones to head back. I felt really good at this point as I headed back. The only difficulty here was paying attention to groups of the slower runners heading towards me. I kind of wish they set up more cones to keep runners on opposite sides of the path here. I didn't see a 2 mile marker but I was still feeling strong as I hit the final hilly mile. The hills weren't as bad as I thought I would be when I warmed up -- more gradual than anything really steep, but certainly not pleasant. At this point, my masters friend Curt, who went out very hard, had a big lead and would go on to win the race in 16:50. A younger friend, Mike, started a little behind me, but caught me with about 3/4 of a mile to go and displayed some youthful power as he kicked in with an impressive 17:34, his first time under 18 I think (he's going to be very fast by the end of this year). I was third in 17:45 and another masters friend, Steve, was fourth in 18:31. Three of the top four runners were over the age of 45, which I thought was pretty cool.

As for the sub-18 monkey reference, back when I started running again in 2005 at age 40, after a very long hiatus, I set my goal for my first year as sub 18. My first race that year was a 19:14 and I thought that would be a good challenge. I ended up with 17:52 that year and I have been under 18:00 every year since, this being year number eight. Some years have been better than others, but I'm really happy with the consistency. I want running to be a lifetime sport and I feel like I'm in a much better place than I was in November 2004 when I woke up hungover and stoned and depressed after my 40th birthday party. About a month after that, I got my act together and decided that I wanted to compete again and the rest is history.

Next up for me is the Meteor 10K in Michigan on April 14. Really looking forward to this. I always run really well in that race -- fast, flat USATF certified course with a very deep field. I seem to have figured out a good training pattern for myself and this week will be more of the same. 10 or 11 easy miles on Monday; a 'mile club' workout with a decent cool down on Wednesday; and an easy shakeout before driving to Michigan on Friday.


The Lost Rivers - Sin and Lostness

Germany's Lost Rivers blew me away with their debut EP on Northern Star Records last year (more like a mini-album since it contained seven songs). Their new full-length, Sin and Lostness (also Northern Star), is even better. The band's trademark is an immense wall of sound that makes even the Jesus and Mary Chain sound quaint. Like A Place To Bury Strangers you can hear hints of goth in The Lost Rivers sound, but it's the cool early stuff like Sisters of Mercy, not the poseur dance club garbage.  It makes sense that The Lost Rivers are fans of old school groups like The Dead Boys. They have the menacing attitude and the cool looks. If The Stooges formed today they would probably sound something like this.  Effortlessly cool rock 'n' roll. Is there such a thing as punkgaze?


Welcome to Mile Club: Week 1 - A Sobering Reality Check

When I was 17 years old I ran the mile in 4:27 and 2 miles in 9:25. As I never raced those distances in college (I quit pretty early on), those times ended up becoming my lifetime PRs. I'm never going to run 4:27 again, but I think it would be cool to break 5:00 in the mile again. That's doable based on my current performances in the 5K and 10K. To do that, though, I need to work on my basic speed, something I've pretty much neglected as a masters runner. No more! This week is the beginning of what I'm calling "Mile Club". I want to do one short, very basic speed workout each week, geared to running a fast mile. Today, I went to the track and embarked on my journey and was quite humbled. 4 x 400 with 400 meter jog/walks for recovery in 73, 73, 73, and 75. 73s felt like 63s used to! If you add up all four reps, my mile time would be 4:52, which was a typical opening mile for me in a fast high school cross country race. I didn't run the 400s 'all out' but I pushed like I would in the first lap of an 800 or 1,000 meter race. Right now I probably can race sub 5:40 per mile pace for a 5K but I'm not sure if I could run much faster than 5:20 in an all out mile. This is why I want to commit to my small experiment. So each week I'll do a short little session of 4 x 400 or 2 x 800 or a 1200 meter time trial (Roger Bannister was big on these -- see photo on the left) and try to get comfortable in a zone that is currently uncomfortable for me. I'll continue my longer runs and tempos as those are the bread and butter workouts for a slower twitch 5-10K guy like me, but a little speed can't hurt. I won't let my mileage slip either. For today's workout I warmed up 2 miles and ran a 5 mile cool down.


Running and The Endless Summer

I've never surfed but I've always felt that competitive runners are very similar in outlook to hardcore surfers. The movie above, The Endless Summer, is one of my favorite documentaries ever. It follows a group of guys in the 1960s who travel the world looking for the perfect wave. Runners are always seeking the perfect race where the temperature is just right, the course is fast and flat and the field is deep. To use a surfing analogy, the March waves were a little choppy for me. I had a really good 5 mile race at the beginning of the month but didn't get the fast 5K I was hoping for. It was unseasonably hot on St. Patrick's Day and the course was tougher than expected and the race in New Orleans was, well, in New Orleans. 80 plus temps are never ideal for a race, but the post-race party certainly made up for it.

Next up for me is a 5K on April 7 and a 10K on April 14. I'm feeling pretty good though as I'm getting older I've become really in tune with what works for me and what doesn't. I seem to respond really well to tempo workouts and semi-frequent races, but intervals always seem to set me way back. Light fartlek type workouts seem to help though. Last summer I was doing stuff like 10 x 1 minute on / 1 minute off in the middle of longer runs and that seemed to get the wheels moving enough without killing myself on the track.

As for the rock 'n' roll part of this blog, I've bought some new CDs by the Lost Rivers and Strawberry Whiplash that are amazing so I'll add some reviews soon.

Below is a song called "Endless Summer" by one of my favorite groups ever, Honeyrider:


New Orleans running report

Just spent a week in New Orleans and had a blast. My wife publishes a much better blog (, which will give you a recap about our trip, so since I just write about rock 'n' roll and running here goes. The running scene is actually WAY better than I thought it would be. We were staying downtown on the corner of St. Charles and Poydras. St. Charles is actually a prime running spot as there is a grass/dirt path that runs down the middle of the street in the neutral ground in between trolley car lanes. The area is also very shade which is essential in the south. Be careful of those cars though! They even have PSAs on TV there.

While I was there I got in several nice runs on St. Charles and also did some running in the very beautiful Audubon Park, which is across the street from Tulane and Loyola. It's interesting that the two main universities in the city are literally next door to each other.

I also ran in a 5K race this past Saturday, which started at the rather unusual (at least in these parts) time of 5:00pm. Never mind that it was well over 80F, I had a lot of fun. The post-race party had an amazing spread: jambalaya, pulled pork, burgers, gumbo, you name it! I grabbed what I thought was a lemonade -- turned out to be a mint julep! As for the race, I was second overall and the first master with a modest time of 18:20. Factoring in the heat and humidity, I feel like the effort was much better. I went out slower than usual, passed a few kids who went out too fast and picked it up a bit the final mile. The winner was way ahead like 16:30s so it was a no man's land a bit in the second half. Really nice course: out on a scenic road, back on a bike path on top of a levy on the Mississippi.

The start. Number 238 won the race. He ran a 32 minute 10K at another race in the morning and came back to win this race in the afternoon!

More from the start. Some hot Saints cheerleaders even showed up!

Finishing on the levy:



Summer in March

We've been enjoying some unseasonably warm weather lately, with the last two days over 70F. I took advantage of that and went to the metro park for a couple of good runs. 10 miles yesterday and 9 today. Nothing special, just solid runs in the 60-70% heart rate range, which for me these days falls in the 7:15-7:30 range. Going to New Orleans tomorrow for a week where it will be even hotter. Hoping to get a good run in on Thursday and then I'll be doing an evening 5K race on Saturday. Not sure what to expect there as far as competition goes. From results that I've seen, New Orleans has a lot of fast younger guys but there doesn't seem to be as much depth in the masters ranks. Not sure if I'll get a chance to blog, but I'll update my running2win account on my iPod touch and post my race result on Facebook.


St. Patrick's Day 5K Report

Until recently I had never even heard of Louisville, Ohio. Apparently it's pronounced Lewis-ville not Louie as in the more famous Kentucky city. A friend told me the course was pretty fast so I drove the hour and twenty give or take to the Canton-area town to redline on a day when most sane people were already drinking. Some observations on the way in. I saw a drive-thru party store called Butts & Beers and a very mean looking bar called Deuces Wild. Tough town. I was also about to find out that they had a pretty tough 5K course.

I learned that the 2011 race was run on a flat course due to snow, which forced the organizers to change things up. That was not the problem this year. At gun time it was already mid-60s and very humid. I almost opted to race shirtless. The first mile was quite challenging and I made the mistake of going out a tad quicker than I probably should have in those conditions and the heat. The race started with a very gradual uphill through a residential neighborhood before hitting a small hill in a cul-de-sac. We got a gradual downhill after that before hitting another climb that led to a park. The park entry had yet another hill and I was surprised to hit the mile in a fairly quick 5:36 given the elements. I felt pretty good though and I was able to pass people who went out too hard. After the mile no one would pass me but the other people ahead of me were too fast to pull in, so pretty much a no-man's land run. Mile two was in a scenic park along a path. We hit another hill at about the half way mark and then a very long stretch on blacktop. You could really feel the heat there. I hit the two mile in 11:30 (it didn't seem like I had slowed down that much - maybe the mile was short) and at this point it was just survival, trying to lock my eyes on the guy who was ahead of me.

I ended up hitting the line in 18:02 (5:48 pace). Slower than I wanted to but I felt better after talking to other people I knew. I was 7th overall and first in 45-49. Everyone seemed to run about 30 seconds slower than they expected to based on recent workouts and races. Next week I'm running a 5K in New Orleans. It's a 5pm start and it will probably be 80 degrees so I'm not expecting anything blazing. There's supposed to be a fun after party  with beer and jambalaya. Report forthcoming -- I'll be there from March 21-28.


St. Malachi 5 Mile Race Report

The St. Malachi 5 Mile Run in Cleveland is the first big race of the year in Northeast Ohio, featuring an extremely deep and competitive field in all age groups. This year was no exception. I've done this race six times since I've lived here and though the course has been changed four times, the one constant is that it's always on the hilly side. I liked this year's course the best though it may have been the most challenging. 

The conditions at guntime were a little chilly but pretty ideal -- sunny and about 30F. The race began on Washington near the church but instead of having a crazy downhill start into the flats, we hit 25th and made a quick left over the Superior Bridge. The gradual uphill beginning gave the faster runners more breathing room to maneuver. I got off well and was able to lock into a good groove, trying not to go too hard too soon. The first few miles were very quick as we barreled down the bridge and then hit another downhill as we worked our way down to and around Cleveland Browns Stadium. I hit the mile in 5:40 and the 2-mile in 11:35, feeling pretty under control. the third mile was flat as we headed by the Rock and Roll hall of Fame and down a stretch near Voinovich park where we hit the halfway mark and turn around point. I hit the 3 mile mark in 16:57 and was now starting to get that redline feeling you get in the last third of a race. The last mile and a half was also the toughest part of the course as we hit a steep quad busting downhill into the flats followed by a brutal climb out, and almost immediately, a big climb up the Superior Bridge on the way back. I was battling it out with a good group of three or four runners at this stage and this helped me focus on the race and not the pain. Once I got to the downhill portion of the bridge, the finish came almost too quickly. In retrospect, I wish I started my final sprint a touch sooner. In any case, I crossed the line in 28:50, ending up 25th overall and third in my age group. A good start to my first serious effort of 2012.

Next up is a 5K this coming Saturday in Louisville, OH (Akron-Canton area). This course is supposed to be pretty fast so it will be nice to get on the south side of 17:30 again. According to the McMillan Running calculator, 28:50 is equal to 17:25 for 5K and 36:09 for 10K so I'll see how this holds up.


When Saturday Comes

Saturday will be my first race of the Spring, the St. Malachi 5 mile run, which is considered the first big race of the year in these parts. The course isn't the fastest in the world, especially when the course changed in 2009. Before that, the race was still hilly, but we enjoyed a decent downhill stretch in the last two miles before the uphill finish. My best time on the old course was 28:40 in 2008. The race is a good gauge for predicting how I run in the Meteor 10K in April. In 2009, I ran 29:00 at St. Malachi and 36:06 a month later (pretty much the same pace but 1.2 miles longer). In 2010 I ran 29:39 and then 36:14. I feel if I can run in the 29:00-29:20 range on Saturday, I should be able to break 36:00 in April. When I ran 36:06, the conditions weren't so good and I probably could have run around 35:45. Workouts have been going well since my 4 x 1200 session -- good steady runs at 65-70% of max HR. We'll see what Saturday brings, or as The Undertones once sung: "When Saturday Comes"


Back on the Track

No, I don't work out on an old school grass track like this one in Dublin, Ireland but today was my first workout on the oval since last fall. In any case, Rocky River's new track is great (really nice resurfacing job). I did 4 x 1200 meters in the threshold zone, not letting my heart rate get over 90% of maximum heart rate reserve. For breaks I took standing recoveries, starting each rep when my heart rate dipped below 70% of max HRR. My times for the four repeats were very consistent: 4:22, 4:20, 4:21, 4:20 (5:48 pace on the nose). The first two breaks were around 50 seconds, the last one was 58 seconds. It will be interesting to see how much my rest breaks decrease in future workouts like this one as I get more fit. Really happy with this workout. Between this and my 17:39 road tempo last week, I'm defnitely stronger than I have been in a while.



Though I bought all three of this late-Nineties UK group's singles, I somehow never bought their one and only self-titled album on Nude Records (home to Suede) when it came out in 1998. I was probably waiting for it to come out on a domestic label and it never did. 14 years later I realize it was my loss. Though four of the songs on Mainstream are on the early EPs, the other tracks make it well worth the purchase. I remember raving about the band's Verve-like sound in my old fanzine Vendetta (too lazy to look up what I actually wrote) and that rings true here. Verve before Richard Ashcroft & Co. added "The" to their name with a touch of Primal Scream Dixie Narco-esque southern rock 'n' soul smarts and you have a good idea of the Mainstream sound. "Rolled On Southern Blues" (see above) comes from the same family tree as Verve's "Man Called Sun" and The Doors' "Riders on the Storm" (minus Morrison's high school stoner lyrics).


Commencing Phase 2

Spring is almost here and as racing season approaches, it's time to make some slight tweaks to my training. I've had a pretty solid block of about 10 weeks of running since club nationals cross country in Seattle, with a lot of solid 8-10 mile runs, plus four 3-mile tempo 'tests' and two winter road races. My unannounced goal for this training phase was to get to sub 18:00 on my tempos, while staying under 90% max heart, which I did this past week with a 17:39. When I start racing I'm going to replace this workout with interval sessions such as 5 x 1K and 4 x 1200 in the same HR zone with my recoveries based on heart rate. When the HR dips below 70% max it's time to go again. I got this idea from Rich Stiller, who has helped me out immensely with training advice since last fall (read his Last Chance blog, which is linked on my blog roll). I plan to race a little more this Spring as well. I will only do intervals on weeks I'm not racing. That approach helped me get out of a big training rut last fall and I ended up finishing the season with a few strong 5Ks and a solid cross country race. I'm 90% certain my first race will be the St. Malachi 5 miler on March 10. Not the fastest course in the world but a very competitive field and it's always been a good benchmark for me in the past. I'm going to be in New Orleans for a week in late March and have found a 5K to do on March 24. It's a 5:00pm race, which suits my body clock just fine and post-race there will be beer and jambalaya! I also plan on doing a 5K in Independence on March 31 (fast course) and a 10K in Michigan on April 14 (another fast course). After this little block, I'll finalize my May/June racing plans.


Breakthrough Tempo

Not sure where this came from but I just had quite a huge breakthrough (for me) on a tempo run. I always do these by heart rate, not allowing myself to get over 90% of my maximum heart rate reserve in order to make them 'true' threshold runs and not time trials. The last few I have done have all been in the 18:15 - 18:30 range (6:05 - 6:10 pace). Today, I ran 17:39 (5:53 pace) even though my overall beats-per-minute was actually 5 bpm lower than on my previous best 3 mile tempo. It took me a mile to get up to 85% and I was able to cruise between 85-90% for the rest of the workout without slowing down. Lately my tempos have been slight positive splits since I'm quite diligent about not letting my heart rate get over 90% even if that means slowing down, but today I was able to run very even, staying in my target zone. Splits were: 6:00, 5:49, 5:50. The last time I was running this well was about three years ago when I was sub 17:00 for 5K. I'm hoping this is a good sign. If I can ever run even half as smooth as NCAA cross country champion and 5K record holder Lawi Lalang (above), I'll be back to my sub 17 ways.


The Boo Radleys "Learning To Walk"

The title of this album is very misleading. Though Learning To Walk compiles the three Rough Trade  EPs Liverpool's Boo Radleys released before their 1992 Creation Records debut album, Everything's Alright Forever, the material here is hardly a baby steps collection -- in fact some of the tunes, such as "The Finest Kiss" (see video above), "Kaleidoscope," and "Everybird" even surpass the highlights from Everything as far as epic shoegaze rock 'n' roll goes. Other gems on Learning To Walk include stunning covers of New Order's "True Faith" (retitled "Boo Faith") and Love's "Alone Again Or." An awesome look at the early days of one of the UK's most underrated groups ever. In addition to Learning To Walk and Everything's Alright Forever, no Anglophile's record collection should be without Giant Steps (1993) and Wake Up! (1995).


Strides and Hills

I've recently incorporated a minor tweak into my training routine, which already seems to help. I got the idea from an article by Marc Bloom on ESPN about the hugely successful North Shore (NY) High School Girls distance program coached by Neal Levy. Unlike many programs that are very interval-oriented, Levy has his runners incorporate strides at the end of runs on some days and run hilly courses on other days. The only fast stuff they do are their races! This quote sums it up:

The North Shore training mix is a peon to old-school thinking. It’s short on razzmatazz and long on development. It’s not the stuff of clinics, not if you’re looking for the new hot workout. The basics, through summer, fall, winter, etc., as Levy said, are: (1) Run 10 days straight, then take a day off; (2) run hills three times a week in a 65-minute road run in which you do 10 minutes on the flat, 45 minutes on a hilly route (pushing the up hills, easing off on the down hills), then finish with 10 minutes on the flats; (3) other days run 45 to 65 minutes on the flat followed by 8 x 30-second strides; (4) do one longer run of 90 minutes in the 10-day cycle.

With that approach in mind I've started to incorporate 6 x 30 seconds at 3K/5K effort near the end of my easy 8 milers in the neighborhood (very flat terrain) and today was my first stab at a hill run where I repeated a hilly 2 mile segment in the metro park four times, hitting 8 hills ranging from about 150 - 300 meters. I didn't sprint the hills but pushed into the higher end of my aerobic hear rate zone trying to focus on form and stay smooth. Unlike the North Shore gals, I will continue with my regular tempo runs though as I do not race near as often as high school and college runners do. As I tend to take a few days off each week my ideal would be two hill runs, two flat runs with strides and a race, tempo or interval workout for my hard workout.


Generic Running Update

My training has been going okay since my Feb. 4 race. Nothing too eventful other than some easy mileage. My legs have been a little tired lately, so I've started to incorporate some strides into some of my runs to get a little snap back. I had thought about racing another 5K on Feb. 18, but I think a busy month of work has caught up with me and the fact that everyone in my office seems to be sick (take those sick days people!).  Today I did a 3 mile tempo test on my standard Lakewood Park course. Conditions were so so. A bit too windy for my liking and there were three or four stretches on the mile loop that were packed snow/ice, which got old by the second and third laps. Complaining aside, I ran 18:34 (6:11 pace) staying in the 85-90% zone for my heart rate reserve. Effortwise probably pretty similar to the 18:16 I ran last month in ideal conditions. I plan on doing another test effort or two before kicking into my Spring race season in mid-March.

In honor of the 'generic' blog title, I give you something by Public Image Limited from their 1986 release entitled "Album".


Lucid Dream album art

This image will be the cover of the forthcoming Lucid Dream "Object of Reality" compilation on my temporarily resurrected Elephant Stone record label. It's taken from a painting by my wife, Arabella Proffer, who recently had a successful solo show in San Francisco and also sold out a collection of her art at a show last month in Baton Rouge. The CD will be a limited edition of 200 so fans of original art, as well as fans of psychedelic/post-punk bands like Echo and The Bunnymen and Teardrop Explodes will want to grab this up fast!


My Arsenal

This is my current lineup of training and racing shoes. On the left is the Pearl Izumi Kissaki, a lightweight trainer. Dead center is the Pearl Izumi Streak 2, which I use for races and fast workouts like tempo runs and intervals. On the right is the New Balance 890, another lightweight trainer, which I alternate with the Kissaki on my easy 'normal' runs. I also have a pair of cross country spikes that I wear in about 2-3 races a year. All are highly recommended shoes if you have a neutral footstrike. My Streak 2's are starting to get a bit beat up so I'll probably get another pair of those in the Spring. I like the new black color scheme better than the current lime green one.

As my post title is a play on Morrissey, here is something by the man:


Heavy Stereo

Heavy Stereo might be a footnote in Britpop history, but they deserved better. Signed to Creation after Oasis, Heavy Stereo were probably too "rock 'n' roll" for some of the indie kids (see the Flying V on the cover of their debut single "Sleep Freak"). Too bad. In addition to "Sleep Freak," which is a nice glammy update to Lennon's "Instant Karma," the group released three more singles and an excellent album Deja Voodoo. As most Britpop fans know, when Heavy Stereo broke up, frontman Gem Archer joined the Mark 2 Oasis lineup that also featured Andy Bell from Ride. Archer and Bell are currently in Beady Eye with Liam Gallagher. I'll leave you with another 'gem', the trippy B-Side "Wonderfools" from the second Heavy Stereo single "Smiler".


More Chase Your Shadow 5K photos

These were on the Friends of Portage Lake Facebook page. Not sure who took them!

Taking a pre-race Groundhog photo!

The start. Looks nice, eh?

Finishing 'kick'

 Meeting the mayor


Marion rise from the ashes

My friend Coulter pointed me to an amazing recent interview with Marion vocalist Jaime Harding on conducted by Luke Lewis. I had always wondered what happened to the Northern English glam meets post punk outfit who hit it big in the UK in the mid-Nineties with their stellar 1996 debut album This World and Body. Lewis' interview provides some amazing insight into the highs and lows of rock 'n' roll stardom. I had heard that Harding had numerous drug problems, but nothing to this extent. Fortunately, the article has a happy ending. Harding is clean and the band's original lineup has reformed to play a series of UK dates in April. If you can find a copy of This World and Body, grab it up. Anyone who loves The Smiths/Morrissey and Suede will dig it.


Chase Your Shadow 5K

I was joking that the Groundhog was wrong after he called for six more weeks of winter, but he got his revenge on us this morning. At least on those of us who ventured south of Cleveland to Portage Lakes for the Chase Your Shadow 5K. It was 40 and nice when I left my house, but looked like this when we arrived:

The roads were in pretty bad shape too. Very slushy and packed snow/ice in some spots when I did my warm up. While I wasn't expecting a PR in February, I knew from workouts that I was pretty fit so I decided that my pre-race plan would be to pace it like a cross country race and just deal with the elements as they came. This was the scene as we got ready to go over to the starting line:

The race wasn't as bad as I thought it would be though. The first mile had a decent gradual elevation and I was able to work my way into third by then and I could tell that I was gaining on the guy in second but it would take some work to get there. Just after the mile we looped around and came back and I was able to take advantage of the net downhill mile two to catch the guy in second with about 3/4 of a mile to go.  I battled it out as best as I could over the last bit with the youngster I caught but he was able to break me with about 600 to go and though I finished strong I didn't quite have it to go with him. In any case I was third overall in 18:07, which translates to 5:50 pace on the nose. My pacing was pretty even. I was around 11:35 at 2 miles and didn't slow down too much in the hilly section of the final mile, so all and all a solid showing for my first race of 2012. As you can see I'm pretty happy post-race after a warm meal!

A good start to the year. For the next month or two, I'll continue to run mostly easy mileage at my 60-70% heart rate zone with a few tempos thrown in before getting into some more race pace specific stuff.


January Summary

Good month for running. The weather has been unseasonably warm so far this winter. It's 57F as I write this! I can't think of more than two or three rough weather runs I've had since the club nationals race, which is very unusual for NE Ohio. This has been a good month of mainly easy/steady mileage at my aerobic heart rate zone, plus two tempo workouts. On Saturday, I'll actually be jumping in the Chase Your Shadow 5K race in Akron as the temps should be upper 30s and dry. The course is supposed to be hilly in the first mile, downhill in the second, and flat with one small hill in the final mile.


Strong tempo

Had a strong workout at Lakewood Park today. After a three mile warm up, I ran a 3 mile tempo in 18:16 (6:05 pace), staying comfortably at 85-90% of my maximum heart rate reserve for the last 2.5 miles (it took about a half mile to build up to 85% which is pretty standard for this type of session). A week and a half ago I ran 18:36 for this same workout, so this was a significant improvement, especially since my average HR for both workouts was identical. My splits were actually slightly positive today, hitting 6:03, 6:05, and 6:08. That said, the effort in the last half almost felt too easy, but the point of this workout is to stay in the heart rate zone and not go over 90% even if this means slowing down a tad, unlike in a race where you redline, especially in the second half. I could have easily run the last mile ten seconds faster, but that isn't the point. Very happy with where I'm at now as January winds down and getting antsy to race again.


Healthcare PSA

Everything went really well with my colonsocopy yesterday -- no inflammation whatsoever. I never look forward to these (I get them every 4-5 years due to past history with ulcerative colitis), but it's way better than the alternative (if caught early enough, colon cancer can be stopped easily). I'm especially relieved because of the issues I was having last fall. Switching to a near non-gluten diet (I cheat with microbrews now and then) seems to have made a huge difference. Anyway, I'm usually not big with PSA's on this blog, but if you're 40 or over and haven't had a colonoscopy before, get one. I believe it's recommended that you get one every ten years if you have no issues (more often than that if you have family history etc.)  I'll give a plug to the Cleveland Clinic as well. They were lifesavers (literally) when my wife was diagnosed with cancer nearly two years ago and the team that worked with me was equally stellar, way better than Fairview Hospital where I had my last colonoscopy in 2008.


Winter miles

Nothing too eventful since getting back from San Francisco, just putting in some solid 8-9 milers 4-5 days a week at 60-70% of my maximum heart rate reserve. I've come to really love the HRM as a training tool. Sometimes it tells me I can go quicker, other times it forces me to slow down when I feel like dropping the hammer. The latter is good because as we get older you only have so many good efforts per year and it's much better to save that for races. I will continue to do my 3 mile threshold runs every few weeks this winter to get in some turnover before racing season commences. Next weekend is looking like a possibility as warmer than usual weather today and tomorrow with no snow planned for the week should make for some nice clear paths at Lakewood Park. Tuesday I'm getting a colonoscopy so tomorrow I have to fast, which means two days off of running. I used to really freak out about days off but now I see how much difference it's making for me. Younger runners (and some lucky older guys) can get away with pounding the miles day after day, but not me. I'm starting to look forward to racing again because much as I do like running, training does not come close to the adrenaline rush of race day, especially when the stars all align and you run a great race.


Working the threshold

Today I tested my heart rate monitor for the first time on a tempo run. The goal was to get up to 85% of my maximum heart rate reserve (160) as fast as possible and not let myself get over 90% (167) for the remainder of the workout. The weather conditions were decent for January -- about 40F when I started but the winds were pretty strong, pushing 20mph give or take in some spots. Of course that allowed me to get some nice tailwinds in other sections, but made it difficult to get my pace down. The paths were mostly clear but there were still some slick spots with packed snow and ice. That said, I ended up nailing the workout quite well.  I started out a little more aggressively than I normally do in these types of workouts and it took about a mile to get my HR to 85%, splitting 6:12. I maintained pace in the second mile, staying comfortably at 165/167, and splitting 12:24 (another 6:12). I stayed in the same HR in the third mile and the effort actually felt easier -- I had to keep slowing down a notch to stay at 167 or under (the old me would have gunned the last mile). I ended up finishing at 18:36 for 3 miles. Really happy with that. During the warm up I was expecting more like 19:00 based on the conditions. What this tells me is that pre-heart rate training I was probably going over threshold in the final mile of tempos, while also, starting the workouts  too slowly. Today the first mile felt quick, the second just about right, and the third slow, yet the splits were exactly the same: 6:12 x 3. I'm guessing I could have run 6:00 pace in better weather at the same HR, but for Jan. 16, I'll definitely take this. My overall average HR was 160 (factoring in the time it took to build up to there), but I'd say for the last 2 miles, I was easily 165, so pretty much exactly what I was hoping for.


Rolling along

I've had two good runs since getting back from SF. 9 miles on Wednesday and 8 more today. Weather has been shockingly warm for January in the Rust Belt -- low 40s both days -- certainly not complaining. Not sure how much longer this can possibly last, but I'll take it. Before I know it, it will be March and I'll be racing again. Right now I'm just trying to knock out a bunch of 8-10 milers in my target 60-70% HR zone with the occasional tempo run. If weather permits I'll try one next week, maybe even on the track just to get a really good gauge of where I'm at right now.


San Francisco

Had a great visit to San Francisco for my wife Bella's art opening. Our hosts Kathleen and George were awesome and the weather couldn't have been better for trips to wine country, Half Moon Bay, and general exploring in the city. The running here is incredible. My favorite spot was Crystal Springs near San Mateo (see photo above as I head out for a run). The park has 6 miles of paved trails going over rolling hills with some amazing scenery. Every half-mile is clearly marked too, which is perfect for intervals/tempo workouts. I also did some running in Golden Gate Park, which was a 5 minute jog from the motel we stayed at while in the city for the opening. It's San Francisco's equivalent of Central Park, but 20% bigger. I could definitely get used to living in the Bay Area. Fitness wise, I'm feeling good. The two 9 milers I did at Crystal Springs were in the 7:10-7:20 range while keeping my heart rate easily in the 60-70% of heart rate reserve target range. I'm hoping I can catch a break here with the weather and get in a good 3 mile tempo to see where I'm at for a 90% HR test.


New Year's V02 Max Blast

Ran a really tough 5K course yesterday at the Stow Great New Year's Race. The course was a very hilly out and back on country roads with 4 or 5 legit climbs. The last hill at 2.5 miles give or take was brutal. Pretty happy with the way I ran considering I haven't done anything fast since Seattle. With this in mind I decided to be conservative in the early stages. After a controlled 5:49 opening mile I maintained my effort and hit 11:37 for 2 miles. Even though I was running the same pace, I felt like I was picking it up because so many people who went out too hard. The third mile was pretty tough with the aforementioned hill but I managed to hit 17:30 at that marker so not too much slow down. The finish, however, was further away than it should have been if the 3 mile mark was accurate as I hit the line in 18:19. Normally I do the last .1 a good 16-17 seconds faster than I did yesterday. In any case, a good effort. I was 20th overall and 1st in 45-49 by default as the winner of my age group was the overall masters winner clocking an impressive 17:39.

I wore my heart rate monitor in the race and actually got up to 178 so 5 bpm higher than I did on those hill repeats. This leads me to believe my max might be low 180s. The 208- .5 x age formula has me at 182, which might be pretty close. My overall average for the race was 166 but that takes into account the fact that I built up from the start. I didn't hit 160 until about 5 minutes into the race but once I got a bit past the mile mark, I got into the red zone pretty fast staying above 170 for the whole second half of the race.


  © Designed by Mousetrap Marketing from

Back to TOP