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The Big Hill, the Other Direction

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I slept late today, for a weekend; I didn't roll out of bed until about 10 minutes before the alarm would have gone off at 6. That's what passes for late on weekends these days. I had two thoughts on a morning run. One was that if I cut back on the my computer time with the Spark, I could get it in; the other was that it would be nice to prepare for church in a leisurely fashion. Did the part of the morning routine that could go either way, and checked the weather.

53 F and partial clouds, little wind. Near perfect running weather. That made the decision. This is shorts and tee shirt running weather, and I have a white running tee shirt for what little dark is left.

I had mapped out a 3.5 mile block to take the big hill the other direction today. That should fit in the time I have, and I can add distance late if I have the time and energy. Hit the road later than yesterday, but soon enough.

A bit more than a mile was part of a very familiar route. I have a landmark for one mile, and it was light enough to see my watch. The one mile split was 7:12. Okay, this is going to be a normal training pace, at least until I get to the hill. Traffic was light, and I was able to cross the major road in stride. So far, so good.

The first part of the hill wasn't that steep. Done this kind of stuff many times, just don't run out of energy. The second, steep section was no steeper than the parts on the other side of the same hill that I've trained; just longer. The entire hill didn't look as intimidating.

By the time I got to the third part, near the top where it wasn't quite as steep, I was feeling the challenge. The length of the steep part had made itself known, and there was no rest break in the middle of this side like on the other. But I kept running, and as I got to the top I saw the sunrise. Guess there was an advantage to having a bit of a later start. Crossed the road near the crest, and ran a bit less than two tenths of a mile on the wrong side until the sidewalk started; but I wanted to cross when there was no traffic, and there are bike lanes on both sides of the road there.

The planned route from this point was the same as I ran yesterday, only in the opposite direction. I was reminded of Mark Twain writing about how, once he learned the Mississippi River one direction, he had to learn it all over again in the other direction. The brief rest in the uphill on yesterday's run that was a hardly noticeable decline was a noticeable incline this direction. Not a killer, but I could tell it was there. Then there was some gentle downhill, and some inclines that I hadn't noticed as declines at all yesterday.

As I was running, I reflected that I'm not only training for hills; I'm training psychologically for long straight distances. Earlier in training, twisty paths were good. They had lots of landmarks to show progress. But organized races tend to have long straight stretches. I need to run some of those, so I get used to them and don't need the frequent landmarks. Today was great weather to just enjoy the run and not worry about how far it was to the next corner.

Near home, it becomes apparent that the full 3.5 mile route will be under a half hour. So I take the opportunity to add some distance, running some of my other familiar streets in the opposite direction that I usually run. The long stretches that drove me nuts during interval training are now no big deal. They're much shorter than the straight stretches I ran to get to, over, and back from the big hill.

Third goal for today's run, scope out running on some roads that are likely to be plowed in the winter. Check. I now have a route that the snowplows will hit, and I've been over the ground. Come snowfall, I can pay attention to what the road conditions are, because I will already be familiar with the underlying terrain.

The added distance made it 4.75 miles in 35 minutes, for an average pace of 7:22 per mile. Back out the faster first mile, and it's 7:25 for the last 3.75 miles. I can live with that as a training pace in good weather. We'll just have to see how much it slows down when the weather gets nasty.

There will be nasty weather this winter; the question is whether I'll be prepared to keep up the running anyway. So far, the running is a lot of fun. I hope it continues to be fun regardless of the weather.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CHERYLEC 11/28/2011 6:40PM

    Thanks for your comments on my blog. Seems like your blog is something that I need to check out every so often. Very insightful. Good job. Cheers, C

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KRISZTA11 11/28/2011 2:50AM

    Lucky you, tee shirt and shorts running in November : )

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HEALTHIERKEN 11/28/2011 12:57AM

    I really like reading your blogs and I admire your dedication as well as how you are frank about your ever increasing running competence : )

So, did you make it to church after all that running?

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ONEKIDSMOM 11/27/2011 7:44PM

    As a devoted reader I'll be watching to see how you balance your other activities that I know are important to you with the running. Managing that oh-so-finite resource: time.

Happy back to work, tomorrow!

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Hill Training

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The plan this morning was to add the big hill to the Saturday run. I had mapped out a 5.05 mile route, with opportunities to add distance after getting past the big hill. That part of the plan came off as intended, but the run was not without its surprises.

The streak tracker tells me I have a six week streak of running 20 minutes continually at least 3 days a week. Before that, I had 5K training. You'd think in that amount of time, I'd have figured out most of the administrative details.

Perhaps I have figured out most of them, but some still surprise me.

This morning it was 48 F (9 C) at run time. My mind was in the mode of expecting some wind, so I went to get my compression tights. They weren't in the closet.

Oh, yeah. I only own two pair of light compression tights, and I used both earlier this week. They're in the laundry.

So I go with the colder weather tights. Because this isn't colder weather, let's just wear the tights and not put running shorts over them. Hmm. It's really warm for a compression top plus a midlayer. Bright idea: I have a colder weather compression top that's white. It's dark out, but it will be light by the time I finish. If I wear the white shirt, I won't need to wear the reflective harness and the blinking tail light.

Gear up to go, and find that I have no pocket to put my key in. No problem, the key is on an elastic band that can go around my wrist. Hang my cell phone on the side of my tights, and set out.

Less than 200 meters from my driveway, I realize my tights are slipping. The cell phone is too heavy to hang directly off the tights. It would be fine hanging off the running shorts, which have a drawstring. So I take grab the cell phone, pull up the tights, and run the rest of the way carrying the cell phone in my hand.

I could have hung the cell phone from the reflective harness I'm not wearing. Come to think of it, I could have threaded the harness through the metal keyring and eliminated the minor concern of having the elastic wrist strap break.

It's not long before I realize that I'm pretty warm for running. I could have got by in the lighter weight compression top and running shorts, and had both a pocket and a place to hang the cell phone. Oh, well. You can't expect it to be this warm before sunup in late November. And if I can deal with running in August, I can deal with being just a shade overdressed in November.

Get to the big hill, and it doesn't seem to be as intimidating as it looked on yesterday's walk. Perhaps that's because I get to the top faster running than I do walking. Get to the top, and I see a pretty glow in the eastern clouds. I'm a little early to see a good sunrise, and I'll be back in the shade of the hill when that happens.

Down the other side is every bit as impressive as it seemed yesterday. I have to pay attention to form running downhill, but it feels like resting. Looks like taking the hill the other direction would be more challenging. Of course, I should be running on the other side of the road for that, which requires crossing a major road twice; but it would have been possible to do that in stride this morning. Just have to get there early, I guess.

First opportunity to add distance was where I had done some little hill training before. I have three up and down segments I can add, and I feel good enough to add the first one. Halfway up, I know I'm not going to add the other two; but it went well. Downhill is not as impressive as on the big hill, and I deal with it. Then comes a lot of flat territory, which just flows by.

Get to thinking, there's a little hill close to home that I hardly ever run. There are two ways to adjust my route to cover it. I choose the longer way, Get there, and it's hardly a hill. More like a little hump. I used to be intimidated by that?

All this time, I'm not trying to run fast and I'm not trying to run slow. I get to my driveway at about 46:30, and figure I've covered 10K. It maps out a little short at 6.18 miles. I averaged a slow 7:31 pace per mile. That's okay. The point today was to add the big hill and check out possible roads for when there's snow, not to be fast. It's fine to push for speed in organized races, but if I pushed every routine run I'd burn out and quit.

Come to think of it, maybe those "hills" on the 10K Thursday were daunting because I was running fast. If I'd maintained a 7:15 pace for the first half of the race instead of a 6:38 pace, the second half might have seemed a whole lot easier. Not that maintaining a training pace was going to happen in a crowd of runners.

Cool down, stretch, clean up. Check the budget; I have some money left for clothing. After meeting daughter at McDonald's for the standing Saturday breakfast, I go shopping. Get two more pair of light compression tights, and another midlayer because I only had three. Now I'm set to run four days a week in weather that requires a midlayer and tights every day. Hopefully the weather won't require the warmer tights and the warmer tops every day until I have more of a clothing budget.

Tomorrow I shouldn't run as far. Let's see . . . if I take the big hill the other direction, which is harder, but go the most direct route, that comes out to around 3.5 miles. Maybe if I'm up early enough to run before church. I'll think of something else if my run is deferred to the afternoon.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KRISZTA11 11/26/2011 6:21PM

    Congrats to conquering the big hill!
Running a bit slower also helps to breathe slower too, and I find that's good for the airways in cold.

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ONEKIDSMOM 11/26/2011 2:52PM

    Amusing. Almost makes me want to go look for my initial jogging entry when I discovered that my fanny pack had got too loose, and had become a boob pack. Almost. *wipes laugh-tear from eye*... you'll figure it out. Better and faster than I, for you are a deliberate planner! emoticon

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Black Friday

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday. The day after Thanksgiving. A day off work for many Americans. A national day of shopping. Buy Nothing Day.

There are almost as many traditions for the day after Thanksgiving as there are for Thanksgiving Day. I ignored most of them.

I took the day off work, with the intention of hanging curtain rods for my daughter. This did get accomplished. Daughter had the hardware she needed, but did not have the expertise, tools, or hand strength necessary to get the job done. That's what fathers are for.

Of course, that didn't take all day. The rest of the day was pretty unstructured.

I went for a long walk in the morning, checking out a major hill near home that I might want to train some running on. Yes, it's longer and steeper than the little hills I've trained before; but the time is near when I need to do this. The 10K I ran yesterday was described as mostly flat, with some gradual inclines; those inclines were almost as steep as the worst hills I've trained, and as long as the longest ones I've trained. If that's an easy course, I need tougher training.

Before hanging curtain rods, I delivered a pumpkin pie to daughter. She offered me a slice, and I declined. Instead, after the rods were up I bought her lunch at Taco Bell. This is not a food disaster for me; Taco Bell can be fit into my food plan pretty easily.

Did a dab of shopping, managing to just get a reminder of why I don't want to be in stores on Black Friday. It could have been worse. And then I went home, where the other pumpkin pie waited for me. I had a slice while watching the last of the Nebraska-Iowa football game.

I had not realized how much better pumpkin pie would taste when I eat is slowly, savor it, and think about not having any more.

Hmm. Look at the nutrition planner. Plan dinner. I can make room for a second slice in the evening. Did that, and the second slice was every bit as good as the first.

So I finished the day near the top end of my calories, and in range for macronutrients. I finished yesterday, Thanksgiving Day, 169 calories over the top of range, but in macronutrient ranges. That was thanks to having the trimmings from the pie crust when I baked the pies.

I'm in maintenance. The generous calorie range lets me fit two slices of pumpkin pie into today. I've been concerned about the weight going down instead of sideways.

So why does it bother me that I went over range by a small amount yesterday and am near the top of range today? Isn't that what I need to do right now? Maintenance is enough of an intellectual puzzle to figure out. I don't need this emotional elbow jiggling, too.

Oh, well. Tomorrow is Saturday. I'll be up early, and run before meeting daughter at McDonald's. The plan is to put that big hill in, and decide after the hill just how much further I'm running. Thanksgiving is over, and it's time for life to return to normal, or as normal as it gets between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KRISZTA11 11/26/2011 11:52AM

    Maintenance calorie range is embarrassing but so good, isn't it? : )
I'm wondering what your final maintenance calories will be, with all that fast running.
It's interesting but reasonable that you are still losing weight on 2500.
Your pumpkin pie must have been great!

Good luck to the Hill!

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WATERMELLEN 11/26/2011 10:17AM

    Two slices of pumpkin pie and within range: that's excellent! And if you're a latte guy, the McD's skim milk latte size large is (they say) 70 calories, big whack o' protein!

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JAZZEJR 11/26/2011 12:36AM

    I think we have gotten ourselves into such a habit of sticking to a fairly strict plan (for which pumpkin pie did not often fit into nicely), that it's going to be hard to gradually change our way of thinking. Plus we're scared we'll slip all the way back to regaining the weight...and we're determined not to let that happen, so a little guilt is the by-product. With the tracker, I think we can relax a little. You're already planning for the next race. I like that! You're a winner! And congrats on being determined not to let your daughter down with the curtain rods. It's the little things....

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ONEKIDSMOM 11/25/2011 9:37PM

    Yes the first slice of "real" pumpkin pie for the year was the best, for me. I did make room for a second slice. The tough part for me is stopping the after effect of wanting to keep eating! And NOT wanting to track.

Using your ditty about not being able to out-train a crappy diet. Son says he's seen it done. I contend that's his youth and immortality talking. Army dudes, what can I say?

Have a great rest of the weekend and wish me luck returning to "normal".

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Race with Grace 10K

Thursday, November 24, 2011

As planned, I set out to run a competitive 10K on Thanksgiving Day. The day was sunny, but a bit chilly before race time. It warmed up to be good running weather, probably near the forecast of 41 F (5 C) at race time.

There were 1095 participants, which made quite a crowd at the starting line:

Split times were offered at mile markers and at 5K. As I passed mile 1, I heard 6:30. Dang competitive juices, I didn't think I was running that fast. Better slow down if I want to finish. Mile 2, I heard 13:09. I thought I slowed down more than that. Mile 3 was 19 plus something high, I don't remember. The 5K split was 20:34, which kind of blew me away. That's faster than I ran a 5K on November 6, and I didn't leave much in the tank then.

I didn't hear the split at 4 miles. I think it was 34:57 at 5 miles; I know I was much slower on miles 4 and 5. I thought a lot about slowing to a walk in that stretch, but managed to keep running. This was mostly into the wind, and much of it was up an incline. I heard the split at 6 miles, but can't remember it.

But I kept running to the end. My daughter caught this shot of me approaching the finish line:

I kept running all the way, and managed a bit of a sprint to the finish line. Final chip time was 43:52.462, for an average pace of 7:05 per mile. I felt pretty good about both running all the way and that time:

That turned out to be good enough to place 122nd in a field of 1095 participants with 1011 finishers. I went to the awards ceremony to find out how much faster the age group leaders would be than I was. To my surprise, I turned out to be the age group winner for males 55 to 59. I was 39 seconds ahead of the next guy in the group. Instead of medals, they handed out envelopes.

In my envelope was $25. I hadn't looked at the prize list, and wasn't expecting money for age group leaders. Well, I'll take it. It will pay for my $18 entry fee and most of the gas I burned getting to and from the site twice (packet pick up, and race day).

Got a nice visit with my daughter out of the deal, too. Came home after the race, and had one of my typical dinners for lunch. (I counted the post-race banana, yogurt, and bagel as a snack.) Daughter wasn't hungry, but accepted a salad with chicken breast meat. At this point, it looks like I can finish Thanksgiving Day in calorie range and eating mostly healthy stuff.

Life is good, and I have much to be thankful for.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KRISZTA11 11/25/2011 7:36AM

I'm not surprised you won the age group, you always run fast as hell, for any age group : ))
Well done!

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FROGGGY13 11/25/2011 2:01AM

    The whole experience sounds wonderfuk, and congrats on your age group record! I bet it was also very nice for your daughter, I always enjoy watching races my husband runs in.

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DEBRITA01 11/24/2011 8:53PM

    emoticon on winning for your age group...that's awesome! Happy Thanksgiving...and yes, we have so much to be thankful for.

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WATERMELLEN 11/24/2011 8:05PM

    What a great way to spend Thanksgiving: you really distinguished yourself!!

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BELSNICKEL 11/24/2011 7:35PM

    neat tale!!! It sounds like a wonderful day, You are sharing something really special with your daughter. The best part of your biog. emoticon emoticon emoticon

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ONEKIDSMOM 11/24/2011 6:37PM

    Competitive juices are good. Proud of you, brother! Congrats on your "perfect" record as a 55 to 59 year old runner!

emoticon emoticon Well done, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Your sisters did not run today, but three of us walked over to Holmes Lake and back after the feast. Felt good... it was, by the way, nearly 70 degrees F. In Nebraska. In November! A year ago, we froze our you know whats off on Thanksgiving day.

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BYFTHALONE1 11/24/2011 6:23PM

    really awesome!!! I can't imagine those speeds. How long have you been running?

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Wednesday before Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Today has been a day of various weight and fitness related things. I'm in maintenance, but I got up today and saw a new 25+ year low weight. This one isn't freaking me out as much as last week's did, because it inched on instead of being a dramatic drop; but the weight is still coming down.

Work was fairly slow, as is typical of the day before Thanksgiving. I walked on my lunch hour, because I'm not running the day before an organized race. I took off in the early afternoon, and used daylight hours to get groceries. The most crucial things that had to be bought were things I wouldn't have even had on the list five months ago: bagged salad and bananas. I did give in to my own demon and bought pumpkin, evaporated milk, and pie crust. The idea is that my daughter will be here tomorrow, and even though we don't have a real Thanksgiving dinner scheduled she does like pumpkin pie.

As the daylight was fading, I got into my car to go pick up my packet for the local 10K tomorrow. "Local" turns out to be a relative term. It took me 37 minutes to drive from my driveway to the parking lot where the race starts/ends, and I had favorable traffic for most of the route. Check in tomorrow morning is 8 to 8:30, so I had best hit the road by 7:30. Good thing I've turned myself into a synthetic morning person.

Much of today I was hungry. I'm not sure how much of that was due to which cause. Probably part of it was psychological, from seeing that low weight in the morning. Probably part of it was really a need for more water, as I was drinking rather slowly in the morning and early afternoon. Possibly part of it was real hunger, with my body trying to tell me that 2500 to 2580 calories per day isn't enough for as much as I'm running.

As fate would have it, when I got close to 2500 calories with dinner the hunger became insignificant. I planned out an evening snack featuring whole wheat toast anyway, to come close to top of range. The extra carbs can't hurt the day before I run a 10K.

As I ate my toast, it occurred to me that this was pretty bizarre. I'm reading about how lots of Sparkers are trying to do damage control to prevent weight gain over Thanksgiving. And on the day before Thanksgiving, here I am deliberately eating toward the high end to try to prevent weight loss. Yeah, I know. That's not what some of you wanted to hear.

Going down the checklist, I think I have stuff covered. Got the food for the day eaten. Got my running clothes for tomorrow laid out. Got the bag packed with the stuff I don't think I'll need, but I know to pack because sometimes I get 34 when the forecast said 41. I know what I'll eat for breakfast. Got a text message sent to my daughter with the revised schedule, giving her an opportunity to bail on accompanying me to take pictures.

It's been kind of a strange day, but not a bad day. Tomorrow should be a good day, dominated more by exercise than by food. Come to think of it, a lot of people would think that's a strange day for Thanksgiving.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BELSNICKEL 11/23/2011 10:35PM

    It does sound a bit strange but still pretty neat Thanksgiving. Hoping you have a great race and a wonderful visit with your daughter. emoticon

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BARBAELLEN 11/23/2011 10:00PM

    It sure sounds like you've got a delightful Thanksgiving day ahead of you. I have a feeling that the synthetic morning person who will be running an authentic 10K is going to have a great time tomorrow. Good luck!

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ONEKIDSMOM 11/23/2011 8:57PM

    Well, you have your puzzle to solve, some of the rest of us have been handed a different puzzle. I'm trying to enjoy without beating up on myself, and get back on track in a rational self-caring way.

Happy Thanksgiving, Brother! emoticon

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