Thursday, January 21, 2010

Miscellaneous Musings From A Road Warrior...

It looks like my current project will have me on the road - traveling to Southern California - once a month for the next few months. I have never traveled this often in the 16+ years that I have been working....

When I was in my late 20s, my job at the time had me traveling once every 6-8 weeks or so for 2-3 nights at a time. I was living in Dallas and I had the opportunity to travel to New Jersey a lot for a project with AT&T. I would burn the midnight oil by driving into New York City and hang out with my sister or go Israeli Dancing, staying out until well past midnight, going to work the next day and crashing when I got back home to Dallas. For some reason, I'm following a similar pattern even now. I was in Irvine for four nights - two of those nights I drove up to Los Angeles (about an hour each way) to go Israeli dancing. On Monday night I left LA at 11pm and got to the hotel a little after midnight. Last night I stayed in LA until midnight and arrived at my hotel at about 1:15am. I was still in the office by 8am the next morning. The problem in all of kids are early birds so I will not get to crash and catch up on the sleep that I didn't get this week....

Talking about going back to being in my 20s, one of the nice folks I met at Israeli Dancing last night asked me how long I have been dancing. I stopped to think about this for a few seconds and then said that I guess I have been dancing for close to 20 years. She shook her head in disbelief - she said that I looked way to young...she thought I was in my 20s! Later in our conversation I told her that I don't know too many of the recent dances since I haven't been dancing as much since I had kids. Again a surprised look from her - you're too young to have kids!!! Maybe acting like a 20-something this past week made me look a little younger....

For those of you who don't believe in the power of Social Networking and the internet, this one is for you. My blog is fed over to my Facebook profile, and after I posted about my soaked run on Monday morning a high-school friend of mine wrote me a note that he was also in Irvine, CA for business this week. Whoa! We haven't seen each other in 18 or 19 years. We met for dinner on Tuesday night and it was great to reconnect with him. This reunion never would have happened without social networking apps....

Oh, yeah. This is my running blog. Right. While in rain-soaked Southern California this week I got two runs in. One on Monday morning in the dark and in the rain, and one on Tuesday afternoon. After the rain stopped - and tornado warnings lifted - the sun came out. My project schedule for that night's activities had been sent out already, so I slipped out of the office and went for a run on the Mountains to Sea trail - running towards the ocean. This trail is built on the creek bed that is used as a drainage system. Last month when I ran on this path it was totall dry. On Tuesday afternoon it looked like I was running on the bank of the Potomac River near Great Falls! The trail has underpasses under the roads so runners and cyclists don't have to dodge traffic. However, on Tuesday many of these underpasses were flooded so I had to cross the streets. Except for one which I could not cross - Interstate 405. I ended up having to trudge through a wet mud/sand mixture under the I-405 underpass. It wasn't all that bad, though - there was a Great Blue Heron perched on the bank by the underpass and I ran right near him. What an amazing creature....

Before I was a runner, I don't think I ever saw a Great Blue Heron. I now have seen them on many runs - on my community's lake, running along the C&O canal, while I was running in Boynton Beach, FL and now while running in Irvine, CA. I didn't know what I was missing before I started running....

Monday, January 18, 2010

Splashing In The Dark

I'm in Irvine, CA for business this week. Being that my body is still on East Coast time, I was up early this morning and ready for a run. But it was raining...and dark.

I waited a bit - until 6am here - until I finally left my hotel room, but the sun was no where in sight. Oh well...

I headed out in the direction of the Mountain to Sea Trail, but there was no sidewalk on the side of the street I started on. I crossed to the other side of the street and there was no sidewalk there either, but there was a dirt and gravel path. As I started down the road, though, there was less gravel and more dirt - or should I say mud. Each step felt like the ground was trying to suck my shoes off of my feet. I looked over to the opposite side of the street and found that a sidewalk had started there - nice! I jumped off the dirt path to cross the street and landed in a deep puddle - I also felt mud sling off my shoe and onto my calves.

Luckily I don't take myself too seriously all the time, because the first 1/3 of a mile on this run was a train wreck!

After I finally got onto the sidewalk I got into a groove. About a mile in I passed by someone huddled up in a hooded sweatshirt under an umbrella - probably walking to work. "On your left!" I exclaimed in a joyful tone to let him know I wanted to pass him. He took one look at me - in my shorts, t-shirt and reflective vest - and probably thought I was insane. He did manage a "Good morning" to greet me back.

About 1.5 miles from the hotel is an entrance onto the Mountain to Sea trail. This looked very much like the other bike trails I ran on the last time I was in Irvine (but instead of a dry creek bed there was a good amount of water flowing this time because of the rain). I must admit, I was a little bit nervous running here alone in the dark. I was not afraid of being attacked or mugged by another person - however, I was a bit unsure whether there were any nocturnal critters living near the creek bed that would like to eat a runner as a midnight snack. I've come across foxes and coyotes on the routes near my home in the dawn hours...I wasn't sure if there were similar dangers here.

I ran on the trail for a little over a mile. I then turned back towards the hotel so my full run would be in the 4.5 mile range.

Along the way there were plenty more deep puddles to (accidentally) run through. By the time I got back to my hotel I was soaked from head to toe - and still had a bit of mud over my legs. I'm it was quite a sight!

Run stats were 4.68 miles at a 9:51/mile pace. Avg HR of 153. And probably one of my wettest runs to date.

Friday, January 15, 2010

...And Sometimes You Have To Put Work Aside And Go Run

Today, the mercury hit the mid-50s in the DC area. That's pretty much a heat-wave compared to the bitterness that we've been experiencing. I soooooo wanted to run today.

However, my work-day looked Outlook calendar showed meeting after meeting after meeting. Basically, there was no free time between 10am and 6pm.

Or maybe there was...

I took a closer look and saw that between 11am and 12noon the only thing on my calendar was a daily conference call in which I present my project status for about 5 minutes. Since my project is not related to most of the other ones being presented, I usually present first. That would mean I would have from 11:10am until 12 noon open. Just enough time for a 3 mile run around the lake, a quick shower and to grab something from the kitchen for lunch to eat at my desk during the conference call that starts at 12 noon (which I needed to be on for the duration, but in a "listen-only" mode). SCORE!

I decided since this needed to be fast - and since I was having a tough time running slowly outside anyhow, that I would do some type of speedwork on this 3 miler. As I was heading out the door I thought about gradually upping the pace throughout the about starting at 10min pace, then doing a 9min pace for mile 2 and an 8min pace for mile 3. Sounds like fun!

The first mile I was just so excited to be outside that I was running a bit too fast. I had to slow myself down many times as I worked my way to the perimeter of the neighborhood and towards the lake. Mile 1 came in at 9:43.

Mile 2 was nice and comfortable. I was running strong but not taxing myself. Again I needed to slow myself down as to not get carried away, but ended up a lot closer to my goal pace here. Mile 2 - 8:51.

Time to turn on the burners! I looked down at RedG a few times during this mile to see that I was running in the 7:30 to 7:40 pace. No wonder this felt so darn uncomfortable! I slowed down a bit - especially since the last quarter mile was uphill - but still ended up with a 7:41 mile 3 split.

As soon as I hit mile 3, I brought the pace down nice and slow, jogging easy back to the house. Overall it was a 3.19 mile run in 28:21. It was the fastest I have ever run this route (OK...I normally use it for a short easy run and not for speedwork). A far cry from my first entry on this route in my running log - July 14, 2005 when I ran this route in 42 minutes. What a difference four and a half years - and a few thousand miles - makes.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cold, Dark....and DELIGHTFUL!

After yesterday's frustrating day of not running, I NEEDED to run today. I learned my lesson from yesterday and planned to run first thing in the morning.

I looked up the weather forecast. Overnight low - 20 degrees (YIKES!). Winds - calm (HOORAY!)

I stepped out the front door at around 6:15am. It was dark and cold....but I was so excited to be doing this again. It had been a full month since I got my behind out the door to run outside pre-dawn. First it was the snow, then it was the ice that never melted, then it was the wind (and all of this is underscored with a big dose of wimpyness!)

The plan was an easy paced run, but who am I kidding...when it's 20 degrees outside you run like hell until you warm up! I kept Mile 1 slow enough to maintain an average HR of 149 bpm my pace was 9:35. I managed to slow myself down a little bit and ended up the 4.5 mile run in a 9:49/mile pace with an average HR of 156.

The weather is warming up here - in the mid-40s today! - and I'll be in SoCal next week, so I should be able to keep my easy runs at a bit of an easier pace over the next 10 days.

On this morning's run I listened to some early Joe Jackson. I had my iPod in the car last night and decided to spin the wheel and listen to an album I hadn't heard in a while. I ended up on Look Sharp! Nice. I love how his early stuff is so simple and did not go overboard in the recording production. I can just imagine him and his band jamming in the studio together to make the songs - not laying down tracks to be pieced together later. This morning I was still in that kind of mood so I put I'm The Man and Look Sharp! in the iPod shuffle.

Ahhhh. Good tunes, fresh air and the stress release of a morning run. Today will be a much better day!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I Hate It When Work Gets In The Way Of My Run!!!

I planned to run during my lunch break today. I'm working at my new office in Reston - two blocks away from my gym and right on the W&OD Trail. The weather is a bit warmer today, so I was hoping for a lunchtime run in sunny 40 degree weather!

Then reality set in. A few small issues at work spiraled into endless conference calls of reiteration. Time slipped away until finally I was able to peel my tush off my desk chair - at 1:45pm.


No run. Just a quick lunch before heading back to the office.

I'm starting to remember why I like to run first thing in the morning...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Two Cold Outdoor Runs And Too Many Indoors

In the 11 days so far in 2010, I have run 7 times - all but 2 have been inside on the treadmill. Have I become a gym rat??? (or perhaps a hamster in a wheel???)

My two outdoor runs came on Tuesday during lunchtime and on Saturday afternoon. Both days the temperatures climbed above freezing to 35 degrees - and on both days the wind chills were about 24 degrees. Hard to believe that this was during the warmest part of the day!

I think the hardest part of these runs was getting out the door. The first mile is always difficult - running faster than I should just to warm up - but once I get going I don't feel so cold.

Tuesday's lunchtime run quickly became a tempo run. Mile 1 was in 9:05 and since I was relatively warm at that point I had no interest in slowing down. There were a few points during the run where gusts of wind made me feel like I was running in place, but overall I was able to cut through the wind and finish my 4.5 miles in a 9:16/mile pace.

My plan for Saturday's run was to be 7 to 8 miles so I could hit 20 miles for the week. I was reading torah at synagogue that morning (and had to be there on time...) so I decided to run afterward. Good thing as it was much colder and windier in the morning when I was walking the quarter mile to synagogue.

Again, my first mile was faster to warm up - a 9:32 pace - but then brought it closer to a 10:00/mile pace. After about 4 miles of pretty clear sidewalks and roads, I started to hit stretches of snowy, icy sidewalks and heavier gusts of wind. On top of all of that, my nasal passages were starting to rebel a bit.

On my community-perimeter route of a little over 7 miles, there are a few "drop out" points to cut the run short to 5.5 miles or 6.25 miles. I nearly took the 5.5 mile drop out, but I pushed forward. As I approached the 6.25 drop out point, I decided that this was the way to go. I finished the 6.25 miles at a 9:50/mile pace. My weekly run total was 18.7 miles...not yet 20 miles, but close.

I actually had another chance to push my weekly total over 20 miles as I ended up at the gym on Sunday morning with the rest of the family (the kids actually love going to the babysitting room as they get to play Mario Kart!). However, I used this as a cross-training day instead of running. I did a bunch of stretching and core exercises and used two pieces of equipment that were new to me - the TechnoGym Wave and the Nautilus Stairmaster machine.

WOW! These machines KILLED me! I was only on the Wave for 8 minutes and my quads and glutes were burning. I could not get myself to move very smoothly on that thing and I was tired of the herky-jerky movement, so I decided to get off and move on. I went over to the Stairmaster. This machine looks like an escalator - an endless escalator. I stayed on that machine for 22 minutes and I was dripping with sweat....I actually felt like I was melting! It's pretty ironic that I can run for over an hour and never get that sweaty, yet 20 minutes on the Stairmaster and I was done for. I guess if I do these machines more often, my body will get used to this type of movement and it will get easier.

One other item from the gym. After running on the treadmill, I normally go to one of the sets of pull up bars and hang from them for a few seconds. I get a nice stretch and release in my shoulders and neck (I think "release" is chiropractor speak for snap, crackle and pop!). Well, the other day after my stretch I decided to try to do a pull up (I have NEVER been able to do these). On my first try last week I got about 3/4 of the way up - not bad! Today I made it all the way up and did my first unassisted pull up! I'm hoping there will be many more to come...having a goal like this makes going to the gym a little more palatable.

Monday, January 4, 2010

First Post Of 2010!

Last week I reflected on 2009 - and what a great year it was! I hope that 2010 can prove to be as successful as last year...but even if I accomplish half of what I did last year it will still be a wonderful year.

My final mileage count for 2009 was 1,047 miles. Of course I take a look at that and say to myself, "Why couldn't I just go for a short 3 miler on Dec 31 to get it to 1,050???"

Another accomplishment from 2009 came in the form of weight management. I started out the year at 172 pounds. On Jan 1 of 2010 I weighed in at 168. I'm still not where my doctor wants me to be (between 155 and 160), but it's nice to see the downward trend - especially AFTER the holidays are over!

I really have no motivation right now to get those last 10 pounds off. I know how to do it (I was very successful using this approach), it's just that I have no interest in counting calories right now. Anyone have some spare motivation for me out there????

Despite the yucky, cold, windy, icy conditions so far this year, I have been running. It's just that I have only been running inside so far. I have logged 16 miles in 2010 - a 4.5 miler on Jan 1, a 7.5 miler on Jan 2 (yes...7.5 miles on the treadmill - UGH!) and a 4 miler this morning. One of these days I'll toughen up and run outside...probably when the wind isn't gusting over 20 mph.

I still haven't set my goals for the new year yet. I'd like to log over 1,000 miles again, but with no full marathon I'm not sure I'll be able to do it. I'm going to have to be super consistent to get there. As soon as I get my goals together I will definitely share...