Monday, December 29, 2008

I struggled to do 3.5 miles in my run

I had planned to do a 5-mile rest run, but as soon as I started running I knew I didn't have a lot of energy. The first mile was OK, and I took short walking breaks every half mile. The second mile had more walking breaks, and the last 1.5 miles had still more. Part of the problem was that the Jordan River Parkway was covered with half an inch of snow and/or soft ice, and that is like running in sand -- a lot of slippage of my shoes. However, the main problem was that my body was tired. I went slow and enjoyed being outside, even though it was a struggle to finish the run. I've had a couple weeks of good running, and my body needed more rest than it got over the weekend.

The temperature was about 40 (F) during my run. The snow and ice was melting some, but a 5-10 mph wind kept the melting to a minimum. I ran in the late afternoon and made sure I was finished before the sun went down. Once the sun has set, the temperature quickly drops and the path freezes up and becomes slick.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

7 miles on ice and snow ends the week

I ran 27th West again today and did 7 miles. I expected the sidewalks and streets to be icy and snowy, and I wore my ice cleats on my running shoes. I found out that the sidewalks hadn't been plowed since the blizzard a couple of days ago, and I thus ran in the street. The asphalt was bare where the cars and trucks were driving, but it was icy and snowy along the edges.

While going out, my cleats did well, and I had no problems with the ice and snow, However, at three miles, the cleats came off when I went through some 4-5 inch deep snow. I needed a place to sit down and take off my shoes while I put the cleats back on and didn't see anything that could be used as a chair, so I stuffed the cleats in my jacket pocket and ran without them. The ice along the edge of the road was soft and not slick, and I had no problem running without the cleats.

With just a half-mile to go to reach my turnaround, I decided to abort that half-mile because the snow was deeper along the edge of the road, and it was difficult to run. I thus did 7 miles instead of my planned 8 miles.

On the way back, I could tell I was getting tired due to the inch or so of snow along the edge (running in snow and slush is like running in sand, shoes slip with each step). I started walking through the snow when cars were passing, and I ran on the bare asphalt when there were no cars passing. That method worked fine, and I made it home with no slips on the ice or encounters with autos. I also felt pretty good when I got home. So, I would say it was a good winter run. The temperature was 25 (F) when I left home and 23 when I returned. The forecast for the next three days is temps in the low 40s during the day, and that should clear the streets and Jordan River Parkway for good running. However, more snow is forecast for Tuesday evening.

I did my good deed for the day while running

On the way back, I saw a young girl who had gotten her pickup stuck in some deep snow. She was trying to leave a school parking lot and enter 27th West, and there was a ridge of deep snow that was left by the snow plow earlier in the day. I crossed the street to see if I could help her, and I quickly found out that she had no idea of what to do. I mentioned rocking the truck back and forth, but she didn't comprehend what I was saying. She called her dad, and the dad and a brother came to help. The dad got the truck out by rocking it back and forth. I stuck around to see if I could help push, but I wasn't needed. My sticking around did give the girl some moral support, though.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The storm continues

We had about 6 inches of snow during the night, but the wind was gone, meaning the snow didn't drift. I spent two hours this morning shoveling snow. Snow flurries continued throughout the day, leaving another half-inch. For the past two weeks our day-time temperatures have been a degree or two above freezing down to the mid 20s (F). The high tomorrow is forecast to be 30, but the high on Sunday and Monday is forecast to be in the low 40s. That will be nice, and our foot to a foot and a half of snow will begin to melt.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Right now there is a blizzard outside

I'm glad I ran yesterday, because there is a blizzard going on right now. The wind is 25 mph with heavy snow. The forecast is for 6 inches today and 2 more tonight. So, I'll be getting some exercise shoveling snow late this afternoon after the wind dies down. The bushes and trees are all snow covered, and it looks pretty outside.

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope Santa made it home safely and before the storm hit.

Later: I did get some good exercise today. The storm ended in the early afternoon, and I spent 3 or 4 hours shoveling snow. I shoveled my driveway and sidewalks and then went down the street and shoveled the driveway and sidewalks for a friend who is visiting his children in Louisiana. I didn't want him to return home in a few days with a foot of heavy snow in his driveway.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Up goes the distance -- to 10 miles

My wakeup heart rate was 53 this morning; slightly high but not bad. The temperature was 27 (F) when I left home and 29 when I returned. Rather than run the Jordan River Parkway that likely was snow covered, I ran 27th West for 5 miles out and 5 miles back.

The sidewalk was snow covered, and I ran in the street because it was dry asphalt. Except for a half-mile stretch, the street has wide shoulders that were clear of snow, and I had no problems with drivers. While I was on the half-mile stretch without shoulders, I had to run along the white line marking the edge of the driving lane, and the drivers were all courteous and moved over to the center line while passing me. While going out there was a 10-12 mph head wind, but the wind died down on the way back with just occasional gusts.

It was a nice day for running, and I had a great run. Ten miles will be my cap for my medium run. My next goal will be to extend my long run to 15 miles from its present 8 miles. I will, hopefully, reach 13 miles by the end of March, and if I think I have a good chance to PB the Salt Lake City half marathon in mid April, I will level off the long run at 13 miles until after the race and then continue up to 15 miles. To avoid overdoing my training, I am increasing my distance only twice per month. When I was younger I could increase my distance every week, but being older I have to make the changes less often.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A great 5-mile run, even with the snow

I knew a snow storm was c0ming today that would leave 3-4 inches of snow, so I got out running as early as I could. However, it started snowing just as I was leaving the house. I ran along 27th West, the city street that I've mentioned before. The sidewalks were covered with fresh snow, and about half an inch fell while I was running. Fresh snow isn't slick, and I had no problem slipping in the snow. There was a 10-15 mph headwind during the first half, but my nylon windbreaker took care of that. When I reached the turn-around point, I was nice and warm, especially since the wind was now a tailwind.

In terms of how much energy it takes, running in snow is harder than running on bare sidewalks or asphalt paths. Today was supposed to be a rest run, but it became a more stressful run due to the snow. But, I enjoyed it and was glad I went out this morning. I followed my usual technique for winter running: smaller steps, a slower pace, and running flat-footed. I wanted to run this morning and again on Wednesday, so I wouldn't need to run on Thursday, Christmas day.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ran for 90 minutes, about 7 miles

Just as I left home to go running, it started to snow. By the time I reached the Jordan River Parkway it was snowing heavily, and I decided not to run on the path and went home. Later in the evening I went to the Recreational Center of my city and used a treadmill for half an hour. In 36 years of running, this was my first use of a treadmill. I found that I was taking short steps, and my pace for the same comfort level was quite a bit slower than on the roads. I expect that as I got used to the treadmill, I would take larger steps. After I left the treadmill, I ran around the 1/10 mile track that loops around the rec center. Because short tracks are hard on ones knees, due to the frequent turns at the four corners of the loop, I reversed direction every 2 or 3 loops.

I found the treadmill and the indoor track were very boring, and I'm not anxious to run them very often. They are, though, a good backup for use on stormy days when it isn't wise to run outside. I enjoy running in the snow, but I don't like to run on slick paths. I do have my ice cleats from last winter, and I'll need to use them when the Parkway path or the city streets are slick.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A very nice 5-mile rest run on a sunny day

Our snow flurries are over for a couple of days. I went running about noontime, and the sky was sunny but still cool. I ran a comfortable pace and enjoyed being outdoors on a beautiful winter day. It felt good to get my body warmed up from running. The Jordan River Parkway path was in good shape. There were a few places with ice, but most of the path was bare asphalt.

I was passed by a group of about 20 runners who were all wearing the same running clothes, and I decided they were from the Police Academy. I had already finished the 1.5 mile round trip on the new north segment of the path when the police recruits began their 5-mile PT run. They passed me as we went south and caught up with me again on the way back, and I finished a few minutes behind them (actually I finished with a few of the stragglers). I chatted for a few minutes with one of the recruits. He is from Boston, and I told him I lived back there for 17 years.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My feet are stiff after last night's run

I've mentioned before that I was born with stiff joints and stiff muscles. My condition is known as the "squeaky door" syndrome. Just as a door with very rusty hinges is hard to get moving but once it moves it moves more freely, my muscles are stiff when I first get up but feel better as I move around. I got up a couple of times during the night to get a drink of water, and my feet were very stiff when I walked into the bathroom. They felt better on my way back to bed. They aren't used to the 9 miles that I ran last night. After a couple of weeks of that distance, my feet will feel better. This is nothing to worry about -- just the way my body is built.

This squeaky door problem is the reason I started running many years ago. I've always been active and done a lot of walking and hiking. But, after finishing college, I bought a car and began driving instead of walking as much. Over a period of a couple of years, the muscles in my feet deteriorated and starting hurting when I was on my feet a lot. After a day of yard work, while I was in Phoenix, my feet would hurt for two days. The doctor told me to do anything I wanted that would strengthen the muscles in my feet. I began running. My feet are still stiff after I'm on my feet a lot, but I no longer have the pain in my feet. I also use a homeopathic remedy called Rhus Tox when my feet are stiff. That remedy really helps a lot. It is made from diluted poison ivy.

Monday, December 15, 2008

It was cold, windy with snow flurries, but I had a great 9-mile run!

I didn't run until late afternoon. I knew it would be dark before I finished, and I was concerned about running in the dark on a path covered with half an inch of snow and patches of ice. I thus chose to run along a city street instead of on the Jordan River Parkway. That street runs north-south almost the full length of the Salt Lake Valley, and I use it when it would not be wise to run on the Parkway. The street is well lit and has a lot of traffic. I don't like the smoke from vehicles, but I do like having people passing me every half-minute or so in case I slip on ice or something and need help.

The temperature was 27 (F) when I left home, and there was 10-15 mph wind blowing. There were also snow flurries coming down. The temperature didn't change much during my run, and the wind had stopped by the time I reached the turnaround point. After a mile and a half, my body had warmed up, and I was actually sweating around my hat from then on.

I went slow and took smaller steps so I could land on the midsole of my shoes and avoid a heel strike and a toe-off. Heel strikes on ice are a quick way to slip and fall, since the edge of the heel doesn't have much surface area in contact with the ground. I stopped and walked across all of the intersections, because they were covered with black ice and I didn't want to risk a fall. I ran between intersections. Fresh snow isn't very slick, and I was actually glad that snow flurries were occurring, because they made the path safer for running. Ice and snow packed by automobiles are slicker than fresh snow.

My wakeup heart rate was 51 this morning, and I felt pretty good all day. I slept almost 9 hours last night, and I was grateful for that since I only had 4 hours of sleep Saturday night; I woke up after 4 hours and didn't go back to sleep due to stress about having to get up early Sunday morning and drive into Salt Lake City. Adding to my stress was a very busy schedule on Saturday that caused me to miss my Saturday run.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Today was rest-run day

Today was my rest run, and I ran an enjoyable 5 miles on the Jordan River Parkway. My wakeup heart was 53 this morning, and I felt pretty good during the day. I went running just as the sun was going down. The temperature when I left was in the high 30s (F).

I enjoy my rest runs, because I know my body is recovering from my longer runs, and I always enjoy being outdoors in the fresh air.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I had a marathon DNS in Massachusetts

I've been thinking about marathon DNS (Did Not Start) and thought I'd explain how my 5th marathon became a DNS.

I ran two marathons in 1981 and again in 1982 (Green Mountain, Vermont in August and Foxboro in Massachusetts in October or November). I trained for and registered for Foxboro in 1983 but did not start the race due to a hectic schedule that only gave me four to five hours of sleep a night . I had been going to night school for 5 years to get another Masters degree (Computer Information Systems), and I had been taking one class per semester; the classes had software projects that took quite a few hours outside of class. However, in the Fall of 1983 I took two classes and had to complete two projects. I was working 9 hours per day with 2 hours of commute time. I was teaching a religion class at 6 am to several high school students. My wife and I had a very large garden that needed harvesting and rototilling during the fall. And, if all of that wasn't enough I needed to split and stack 5 cords of wood for use a year later after the wood had dried. And, I don't want to forget to mention that I was a father to four children, two of whom were teenagers, and a husband to my dear wife. Oh yes, I was training for my 5th marathon. My training for my previous marathons peaked at 45 miles per week, but for the 5th one I peaked at 50 miles per week. I held up pretty well to all of this until the morning of the marathon. I woke up that morning and felt like I had been run over by a truck. I didn't even get out of bed; I just turned over and went back to sleep.

I felt bad that I hadn't run the marathon, but I knew I had done the best I could, and I had no regrets. I continued to run around 25 miles per week and enjoyed that, as I had enjoyed all of my running. I didn't train for any more marathons while I was in Massachusetts. I became interested in video and shot a lot of tapes of school board meetings, school plays, parades, vacations in Maine, birds and squirrels, the regional symphony orchestra, etc., and showed them on the local Access cable channel. I had so many things on the Access channel that my kids called it Allen Leigh's channel. One of the events that brought me a lot of pleasure was the annual Memorial Day parade, probably the highlight of the town activities. I shot the parade by running ahead of the parade, shooting some tape, running ahead again, and so on. After the parade and memorial program, I went home and quickly edited the tape and took it to the cable station. They played the tape over and over again all day, and quite a few older people who couldn't get out for the parade called in and thanked the station for showing the parade and program.

I believe that our trials and difficulties happen to us for a reason. In my case, I learned that I can't do everything I would like to do and must set priorities. Races are nice, but they pass, and as I look back on the various races I've run I realize they were nice at the time, but they aren't the most important events in my life. If I had to choose between my races or my video work or my being a Scoutmaster for 12 of the 17 years I was in Massachusetts, I would choose the video work and my scouting work. Those activities influenced many people, from the performers to the spectators to the boys in my troop. Just so you won't think I'm negative about my running, I do enjoy running and think it is one the most important things I do. I run because I enjoy it. In addition, running has given me a strong body, a body that almost died four years ago from an auto accident but was strong enough due to my running to keep on living even though the doctors called in my children on two occasions because they didn't think I would make it during the night (my wife was in a different hospital at the time having her own injuries to overcome).

Monday, December 8, 2008

I'm up to 9 miles!

My wakeup heart rate was 50 this morning, and I felt energetic and ready to run. However, we had snow flurries during the morning and the temperature was 34 (F). So, I decided to wait until the afternoon when it would be warmer. The afternoon came, the snow flurries continued, and the temperature went down to 32. I decided I'd better go running before the path started to ice up.

Since I did a short run on Saturday, I thought I'd do my mid-week this morning and a rest run on Wednesday. I also decided, as I ran, to change my schedule. I would like to reach 10 miles by the end of the year, but I didn't want to take both my mid-week medium run and my weekend long run to 10 miles, so I decided to take my medium to 10 miles in one-mile increments, where it will be capped at that distance, and keep my long run at 8 miles. My increases will still be 1 mile, but that mile will be for one run instead of split between two runs. Then in January I'll bring my long run from 8 miles to 10 miles, giving me a weekly distance of 25 miles. I'll run that distance for a month and then take my long run up to 15 miles in one-mile increments. I should reach that distance by mid-March, and with a month to go for the Salt Lake City Half Marathon in April, I might be ready to try for a new PB in that race.

So, I added a mile to my run and did 9 miles. It was a nice run, even with the snow flurries that fell during most of the run. I wore three layers and started to sweat a little bit after 2 miles.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

This was the day for a short rest run

I had hopes of running 8 miles, but after I'd gone half a mile I knew my run would be a short rest run. I had a busy schedule today that required that I do my run first thing, and I was on the Jordan River Parkway by 8:30 this morning. The temperature was in the mid 20s (F) during my run, but the sky was clear and we expected a nice day with a high in the 40s. I ran 2.5 miles and enjoyed the run, even though I was tired and had low energy.

I went to bed early last night, but I didn't sleep very well. I ended up with about 5 hours of sleep. I frequently have a difficult time sleeping, due to nervous anxiety, when I have to get up early. When I left home this morning, it had only been 36 hours since my super run on Thursday, and I need at least 48 hours for recovery. That, plus my lack of sleep last night, set the conditions for my body to tell me it needed more rest. I'm glad that I've learned during the past 35+ years of running to listen to my body and to follow the messages I receive from my body.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A great 5-mile rest run

It was dark when I left home for my 5-mile run. My wakeup heart rate was 51 this morning, and I felt fine during the day. I only took two walking/standing breaks during the five miles. The first break was for 2 or 3 minutes while I talked with a man installing a chain link fence. That was after 1 1/4 miles. At 2 1/2 miles I took a 20 second walking break due to a slight pain in my right knee (not an injury pain, just a stiff muscle pain). I started walking as soon as the pain appeared, and the pain went away as soon as I stopped running. I walked for 20 seconds or so and then ran the rest of the distance. I felt strong during the run, and enjoyed being out.

I like running at night. People are gone and I have the trail all to myself. The lights in nearby buildings and distant houses glow like beacons in a dark night. The world seems peaceful, and I seem at peace with the world and with myself. I'm a night owl and have always enjoyed the nights. As a teenager I would stay up late contacting ham radio stations all over the world and would then sleep in. I still stay up late but don't sleep in as well as I used to.

A chain-link fence is going up near the new north-bound segment of the Parkway

About a month ago, as I finished my run, I saw a truck from a fence company in the parking lot. While I was stretching in the tunnel under 9800 South, two men walked through the tunnel going South, and one of the men got in the truck and drove away. I knew then that a farmer was going to fence in his field that borders the new segment of the Jordan River Parkway.

The first part of my run tonight was on the north-bound segment, and I saw new metal fence posts that had been installed along the edge of a pasture that borders the Parkway. On my way back, I saw a truck parked next to the fence posts, and a man was getting out of the truck. I commented to him, "You're working late tonight" (it was dark). I stopped and talked with the man for a couple of minutes. He said he had put the posts up earlier today, and that he would let the concrete harden tomorrow and then put the chain links up on Saturday or Monday. The fence will be on three sides of his pasture, and the total length of the fence will be about half a mile. A nice job for the contractor, and a big cost for the farmer. Chain link fences are ugly in a natural setting, but some of the fence will be shielded from the path by trees and bushes.

The new branch of the Jordan River Parkway is finished

The new branch of the Parkway, that I spoke of yesterday, is finished. During my run this evening I followed the path from its beginning at approximately 103rd South to its end next to the model home in a new neighborhood that is being constructed. The path is only about 1/8 mile long, but it goes by a pond and will give a nice view to those using the path. It was dark when I ran the path, and I could see a lot of black dots in the pond -- ducks and geese settled in for the night.

The path isn't as wide as the main Parkway path, but it will be fine. Not many people will use it, and there is room for persons going both ways to pass. The path is about 20 or 30 feet south of the mid-point between the tunnels under 9800 South and 10600 South.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A wonderful 8-mile run

My wakeup heart rate was 49 this morning. It has been a long, long time since it was that low. Probably a year or more. I left home in the late afternoon and did most of the run in the dusk, but the last mile was in the dark.

It took me about 4 miles to get warmed up, and during that time I took walking breaks every half-mile. However, during the last 4 miles, I felt great and only took walking breaks every 2 miles or so. On the way out I used my GPS to check my pace once in a while, and it was 12:00 to 13:00 or so. On the way back, I couldn't see the GPS very well, but it felt like I was going faster. Probably around 11:30. I have to be careful about checking my pace, because I don't want to get motivated to run faster. I'm letting my body dictate the speed.

During the past few weeks, I've been focusing on finishing a family history book that I've been compiling during the past 10 years. It's called Generations of Websters, and it contains stories about my Webster ancestors down to my father's generation. I finished the book this morning, and I hope I can be more consistent in getting to bed earlier than the 1-2 am that I've been doing recently. Getting a good 7 or 7 1/2 hours of sleep really makes a difference in how I feel the next day.

They've started to asphalt a new branch of the trail

A few months ago I mentioned the city was putting in a new trail going from the main trail to a new residential area. The workers finished the grading, road base, and leveling phases of the trail several weeks ago, and I've been waiting for them to put the asphalt on the trail. It's so late in the year that I had decided they would wait until Spring to finish the path. However, when I passed the path today, I saw that it had asphalt, and I could see the workers, truck, roller, etc. working on the trail, about 100 yards from the main trail. I couldn't tell if they were just starting or just finishing. It was dark when I passed the new trail on my way back, and the workers were gone. If I remember to bring my GPS during my next run, I'll check out the new path. I need the GPS because I'll be running a modified route, and I'll use the GPS to tell me when I've run 8 miles.

Shared my running trail with a six-point Buck

I saw a deer while on my run. He was near the trail, and when he heard me coming, he walked down to the Jordan River and waded to the middle of the river. He then stopped and drank some water. He looked like a relatively young deer, and he presented a magnificent view while standing in the middle of the river. The water was around 15 inches in depth.

This picture is from the web, rather than one I took, but it gives you a rough idea of what I saw. Click for a larger image.