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Running Slow in Snow

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Winter is messing with me! I finally get healthy and healed and the weather takes a huge turn for the worst. I know that old man winter has been beating-up a lot of folks here in the good old USA. Since I purposely live in the Colorado mountains, I really have no right to complain. But seriously, even I don't expect the weather to be this bad! Here is the local forecast for today:


I have tried to run in stuff like this and it is like getting sand blasted with ice crystals. The discouraging part is the temperature is pretty warm at 21 degrees F.

Here is how I am being messed with - last Tuesday the wind was calm and there was no snow but the temperature was -34 degrees F (66 degrees below freezing). When the temperature gets above freezing it is because it is snowing like crazy.

I managed to go running last Thursday, February 3rd. The snow was actually gently falling and the temperature was a balmy 20 degrees F. There was sheet of ice under the snow. The snow was only about 4” deep. I only ran about 2 miles but it was a really hard 2 miles. I managed an 11 min/mile pace, which sounds pretty pokey but felt like I was flying.

Yaktrax on Running Shoes - Required for Winter Running

Feb 3rd, 2011 - Out My Door and Back Again - Nearly Ideal Conditions for February in the Rocky Mountains

Right now, the wind is not too bad, only 15 to 25 mph, and the snow in not coming down too hard . The temperature is quite nice. I think I can get in a run before I am snowed-in and the wind starts to really howl.

More later.....

Blog continuation:

I drove down to the high school track. The high school is at a “low” elevation of about 8,100 feet. I was getting tired of running up and down hills and wanted to run on a flat surface. The wind was gusting to 20 mph but it was not snowing much. The temperature was a nice 24 degrees.

I decided to warm-up and then do some speed work. I find a track a good place to do speed work. I ran an easy half mile at a leisurely 11 min/mile pace and then did ¼ mile speed intervals. I would slowly jog ¼ mile the run as hard as I could for another ¼ mile. Here are my ¼ mile interval splits:

1st ¼ mile split: 89 seconds (5:56 min/mile pace)
2nd ¼ mil esplit: 89.5 seconds (5:58 min/mile pace)
3rd ¼ mile split: 1:40 seconds (6:41 min/mile pace)
4th ¼ mile split: 1:49 seconds (7:18 min/mile pace)

(Total distance with warm-up: 2.5 miles)

I was clearly getting winded. I decided to be lazy. I walked briskly for a ¼ mile and then hit it really hard for a couple of 1/8 mile sprints.

1st 1/8 mile split: 37.3 seconds (4:59 min/mile pace) - Very fun!
2nd 1/8 mile split: 37.2 seconds (4:58 min/mile pace) - More fun!

I finished up with a nice slow cool down 3/4 mile jog at 13:30 min/mile pace.

(Total distance with cool down: 1:5 miles)

I was pleased with my workout. I ran 4 miles and was able to add some good speed intervals. I was happy with my 1/8 mile intervals. I need to work on the ¼ mile intervals. I got finished before the blowing snow really hit.

This is what the track looked like today.

Wind ripples in the frozen snow.

Snow drifts on the track. Enough bare spots on the track for a good run.

A big storm is coming fast! Does this look cold? It kind of felt cold.

Walking up the stairs to go home. That is one of my tired legs. I am wearing regular Nike running shoes. These shoes are not insulated but my feet are nice and toasty. Only my nose and my cheeks are a bit cold.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HARRINGTON5 2/11/2011 9:51AM

    You are one determined man! Even running in the snow, you run much faster than I do. I got cold just looking at your pictures. I'm so glad to hear you are well again. I just wanted to drop by and say Hi. Cynthia

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    Wow! Good for you, that's dedication. I admit that I've done some workouts outside that other's wouldn't attempt because of the conditions. I don't think I could be convinced to do what you did today. Those are the days that I get the snowshoes or XC Skis out. I am ready for Spring!

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DOUGLYE 2/5/2011 10:36PM

    Way to go. 2 mile jog in blowing snow. That's great.
I love those shoe grips. I bought a pair called snow trax. Absolutely necessary for walking on ice.

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LKEITHO 2/5/2011 9:56PM

    You're a better man than I am for getting out there in that weather! Good job!

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RAINTHIEF 2/5/2011 7:29PM

    Those Yak tracks are awesome. I didn't know they made those.

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  What are YAK tracks and where do you get those? How effective are they?

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LOREENYK 2/5/2011 1:40PM

    Have a good run while you can!

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Long May You Run

Sunday, January 30, 2011

I subscribe to Runner's World magazine largely to pick-up hints and tips but, invariably, the magazine ends-up give me a mild identity crisis.

Each month the cover of the magazine features an incredibly fit elite runner. For example the August 2010 issue featured Lisa Knoll, 22, from Ames, Iowa. This beautiful young woman shattered the 10,000 meter collegiate record turning in a 31:18.07! She is also studying veterinarian medicine at the University of Iowa. Good for her. I find this very impressive.

Then I realize, after running for 40 years (I am 54), there are more miles behind me than in front of me. Somehow, I feel somewhat depressed at the thought. Then I realize that at least I have a few more miles in front of me - which takes little sting out of turning from a fast young man into a slow old man.

I have a book called "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall. The book includes some great quotes. Here a three I really like:

"You don’t stop running because you get old. You get old because you stop running." -Jack Kirk

"Name any other athletic endeavor where sixty-four-year-olds are competing with nineteen-year-olds. Swimming? Boxing? Not even close. There’s something really weird about us humans; we’re not only really good at endurance running; we’re really good at it for a remarkably long time". -Dr. Dennis Bramble

"Just move your legs. Because if you don’t think you were born to run, you’re not only denying history. You’re denying who you are." -Dr. Dennis Bramble

The December 2010 issue of Runner's World magazine had an article about running with music. I was always puzzled why my wife was that only person in the family that would run with an IPod. I don't run with music; nor do any of our children.

Runner's World claimed there were two types of runners; disassociators and associators. A person that is a disassociator likes the distraction of running with music and feel they can run faster and father while listing to music. I personally like the sensation of moving. I like the feeling of my feet hitting the ground, my legs propelling me forward, the beating of my heart and the air filling my lungs. I don't want to be distracted. And I run alone. I am an associator.

However, I like to listen to music before I run. There are a few songs that get me in the mood to run. Here they are:

STEPPENWOLF; BORN TO BE WILD 1967 (Selected Lyrics)




Here is a good link a youtube performance in 1969.


I also like “Speed" by Mongomery Gentry from 2003. Here is the chorus:

"How fast will it go
Can it get me
Over her quickly
Zero to sixty
Can it outrun her memory
Yeah, what I really need
Is an open road
And a whole lot of speed"

Follow this link if you can stand a cheesy commercial prior to the video.


And the best and greatest anthem for runners of all ages:

Long May You Run; Stills-Young Band 1976

We've been through
some things together
With trunks of memories
still to come
We found things to do
in stormy weather
Long may you run.

Long may you run.
Long may you run.
Although these changes
have come
With your chrome heart shining
in the sun
Long may you run.

Here are a couple of links to "Long May You Run":

(Olympic Closing Ceremonies)

(Younger Neil Young Performance)

These three songs get me jazzed and ready to go burn-up the county side. And make me feel 22 years old again!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    Good blog! Love the quotes and the songs. You sound pretty amazing to me. Running for 40 years!? To me, that's awesome. I wish I had started sooner.

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AFRISAM 1/31/2011 12:42AM

    Hi Speedydog

I read the book "Born to Run" last year during my very nerve wracking tapering period before the Comrades marathon and I found it tremendously motivating. And I was happy it had so many South African links (I'm South African).

I sometimes run with music and sometimes not....depending on how I'm feeling. I do find that music gives me added oomph, but only when I'm in the right mood otherwise it's just irritating!

Wishing you many many many more years of good running!

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IRONGRANNIE 1/30/2011 10:58PM

    I am an associator, too! I also enjoy the odd run with my daughter (glad to see she enjoys it too!) But I really like just being there on my own. Music would drive me nuts!

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SAMGERBINE 1/30/2011 8:24PM

    Great blog! So true about being able to run for years, not all sports are like that! :)

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  Hey Bruce!

You're not old... look at your before and after pics! You look amazing. And guess what? All you runners out there, younger and those perceiving themselves to be old, have inspired me to start the Couch to 5k Running Plan. I haven't started yet - just heard of it today. I never thought I'd ever want to be a runner because I never thought I could be one, but this program has honestly made me believe that I can be, and I'm excited about that and ready to do the work to get there - I love new things!

Time passes, and some days we feel it more than others for sure. But you know, my father was 73 when he passed away (I was 17 and he was my world) and I never noticed a gray hair on his head until then. That's because he had no problem with aging - a natural occurrence. He said being old was a decision you made and he decided against it. He was and will forever remain the "youngest" man I've ever known and he would be 103 years old,and still feeling and acting young if he were still here.

I am my Father's daughter, and I feel the same way about life, my age(47 this June), and I will never get "old" either. You are my SparkFriend, so by association, you're simply not allowed to get old!

As far as aging goes, I'd say time has been quite good to you. You've been very good to yourself these past few years and the results are smokin' hot in my humble opinion.

Yesterday is gone and Today is all we have, because Tomorrow never truly comes. Keep on keepin' on Bruce, and keep putting one foot in front of the other, and shake that money maker with pride while you burn up the miles....

Take care!

Louise emoticon

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DEUSMACHINA 1/30/2011 3:56PM

    I must be an associator, too. I don't like to run with people, in general. Although I enjoy the odd run with my Mum. I don't like to run with music. I just like to be running and being in the moment.

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LKEITHO 1/30/2011 12:56PM

    Love the songs! I can see how these would get you revved up to run!

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RWALTON730 1/30/2011 12:10PM

    I have the same book and it is a great read. I listen to music when I run, but have found that I truly listen at the beginning and end (cool down) of my runs. I have the ipod playing throughout the run, but I tend to let myself go, enjoying the scenery and giving myself little pep talks. You have some great songs listed here, several are on my ipod. Could some possibly be generational? LOL The Steppenwolf and Stills-Young are two of my faves also.

Don't sell yourself short, in my book you are an elite runner! I can only dream about being in your class someday.


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Random Thoughts- I am almost fast again!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I have been struggling lately. I have not been able to run in months. As I started running again I found it to be a chore. I was not happy. Once upon a time, I really enjoyed running.

Today the temperature hit 22 degrees. Anything above 20 degrees and I can run in shorts. I was a bit jazzed. I put on my shorts, pulled a long sleeve shirt over my head and laced up my running shoes.

I have cool shoes, which means really expensive! My wife accuses me of buying the most expensive shoes in the store. I really don't think that $169 is too much to protect my tootsies.

Back to my over long discourse on my first good run of 2011. I put on a light windbreaker, thin cap and fleece gloves. I wear fleece gloves because the work really well for wiping a dribbling nose. I know, TMI.

I went outside and warmed-up a bit while my Garmin tried in vain to locate satellites. Finally the Garmin synced with GPS satellites and I was off. I felt pretty good. I run on hilly terrain at 8,400 feet elevation. Mostly because I live on hilly terrain at 8,400 feet. I started up a gentle hill and felt great. I glanced at the Garmin. I was running at 8:30 min/mile!

I ran 3 miles at an average pace of 9:51 min/mile! I felt like I was going a million miles per hour. I was in the groove. I sailed up a monster hill that 0.4 miles long at 25% grade. My pace slowed to 12:20 min/mile going up hill, but I hit 6:23 min/mile going down hill.

I am almost fast again! My hamstrings were a bit sore after I got back from my run. Believe it or not, guzzling a beer works wonders on my sore muscles. I am still puzzled over that. By the time racing season starts, I could be back in form.

I had fun. My lungs felt like they exploded. But I kinda like the hurt because it means I ran at my limit.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LOREENYK 1/28/2011 5:17AM

    emoticon I love a good run!!!

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IRONGRANNIE 1/28/2011 4:02AM

    Glad to hear your back at it!

Please tell your wife that in Australia those $169 shoes would be the cheapest in the store!

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ELYMWX 1/27/2011 10:34PM

    It's good to hear you're back at it, Bruce! Take care, but be sure to enjoy yourself!

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DEUSMACHINA 1/27/2011 7:53PM

    HALF A MILE AT 25%?????? HOLY CRAP!!!! Nice work on picking up the pace!

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TREEBW 1/27/2011 7:42PM

    Great job! It is hard to get back out there once we lose our desire!

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AOGOAE 1/27/2011 11:51AM

    it's that kind of run that makes all the crappy ones worth it :)

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LKEITHO 1/27/2011 7:51AM

    Glad to hear you're back at it and enjoying!

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Hi Rhonda - Mountain Running Advice and Races

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

On Jan 10th - Rhonda left a comment on my page:

Hi Bruce,

I would love to do a mountain run sometime. Let me know when something comes up.


Dear Rhonda,

I will certainly let you know when there is a quirky little mountain race being held. In my opinion, the best mountain races are the Long Scraggy Ranch Race and the Lake George Flatlander (which is not flat - BTW). These races are not advertised and are usually in May. Both races are really small with 30 to 50 participants.

You might like these races. There is a reason why these races tend not to be well attended.

The Long Scraggy race is between 8,000 to 9,000 feet. The hills are deadly! One segment of the course climbs 300 feet in about a 1/2 mile. However, this segment has 5 separate hills. The hills are about 175 yards apart. On each hill you climb 100 feet then run downhill 40 feet; then you start climbing up the next hill. Actually you climb 500 feet and run down hill 200 feet. Just take my word for it, this is really hard! I ran the 4.25 miles in 42:56, which is a 10:06 min/mile pace. This is a really fun race.

The Lake George 5K is at 8,200 feet and has rolling hills and some really nice flat spots. I got a 27:36 at Lake George with an 8:52 min/mile pace. The strangest thing about the Lake George course is that it has about 5 flights of rough stairs made of railroad ties! These stairs are about at the 2.6 mile mark and turn your legs into rubber for the last 1/2 mile.

There are races in Conifer (8,275ft) and Evergreen (7,820 ft) during the spring, summer and fall. These races tend to be fairly large. There is at least one race in Pine Junction (8,448 ft) each year.

If you want to get serious and are in the mood for highly organized and difficult races that cost bunches of money, check out the Vail racing series. The good news is that these races tend to be at decent altitudes of 10,000ft +.


Does any of this sound good to you?

I run some races down in the Denver Metro Area. Even these town races tend to be a bit hilly. I like the Aurora Trails Day 5K race at the Aurora Reservoir. This race is usually in the first week of June. I am not a big fan of heat and this race always seems to be HOT (85 to 90F in the shade, and there ain’t no shade!) The course is a nice dirt trail, which I like.

I have some tips for mountain race training when you are training on the flat.

(1) Run faster: Ok, I know that sounds stupid. What I am saying is you need to do a lot of training at the limit of your aerobic endurance. A lot of runners train at an easy pace adhering to the time-honored LSD or Long Slow Distance training philosophy. However, doing nothing but LSD is not optimal training for mountain racing. To train for mountain races you have to push yourself to the point where you are breathing extremely hard. If you run out of breath and have to walk, you are doing well. Sometimes this is called interval training. Another form of this type of training is called Fartleks. Fartleks add 60 to 90 second bursts of speed during a normal run. These strategies improve your anaerobic metabolism. Anaerobic means without oxygen. During a mountain race you will be running without oxygen frequently.

(2) Run Longer: Increasing the length of base runs improves VO2 max, which means maximal oxygen uptake. I know this all sounds like a contradiction. Running faster and further is the point right? This where it gets tricky. On some days you run a long ways. On other days you run fast.

(3) Learn to vary your pace: Mountain running is lot more variable that running on flat ground. A steady pace works on flat ground. Keeping up a steady pace running in the mountains is nearly impossible. For example, running up a steep hill may slow your pace to 13 min/mile. Then on a downhill stretch you may need to hit a 6 min/mile pace. On a dangerously steep downhill stretch you may have to slow down to a 10 min/mile pace. On anything that is flat you need to really roll! To learn to vary your pace you want to run at a fast pace and then go faster. About the time you are out of breath, slow way down to a gentle jog. When you catch your breath, take off again.

(4) Get stronger: During a mountain race you are lifting your body up hills against the pull of gravity. In essence you are lifting weights. Anybody that says running doesn’t build strength is likely running at low altitude on flat ground. Leg strength is very important. Squats, leg press, straight-leg dead lift, calf-raises, leg curls and lunges work wonders. Upper body and core strength is also required.

(5) Increase your stride rate: Find a hill. Jog up the hill then run back down the hill. When running down hill, do not over-stride. Strike the ground with a flat foot. To run fast down a hill you will need to take short and fast strides. To slow down, reduce stride rate, not stride length. To speed up, increase stride rate. This stride technique will make you fast going downhill.

(6) Stay tall when running uphill: If you bend your knees too much running up hill, you will bounce and get really tired. We are not talking about little hills, we are talking about hills that you collide with.

(7) Caution: The highest elevation I have done a sustained run was 11,500 feet. When running hard at extreme altitude, you can sometimes experience distorted vision and start hacking up a white frothy stuff. Both are signs of high-altitude hypoxia and pulmonary edema. Even at elevations as low as 8,000 feet the lungs can start to fill with fluid. Your lungs and throat feel like they are on fire. Oxygen deprivation causes blurred vision, tingling in the extremities and disorientation. You could have trouble running in a straight line. When that happens, you need to stop.


Here is Red Cone trail. Note the lack of trees. This is above timberline. Does that look like fun? A 10 minute mile on this trail is an Olympic pace!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RWALTON730 1/26/2011 7:48AM

    I'm not too sure about the Long Scraggy Race, hills are not my thing right now. The one with the stairs may be just a bit much for this year too. The Lake George 5K sounds like a good one for me, but I will be no where near your speed! I will have to check out some of the others, too.

I am starting to do some hill work and it's going okay. I know it will get better with perseverance. The advice you have given is very valuable, so much that I copy and printed it to keep with my running gear.

Thanks for everything!

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    Awesome advice. I'm bookmarking this for the day I do a mountain run....sometime before I die.

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ELYMWX 1/25/2011 6:15PM

    All I can say, Bruce, is you are hardcore. Given where I live, I run pretty much at sea level, but I don't always run on the flats - hills are fun!

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LKEITHO 1/25/2011 4:42PM

    Wow! Some of these sound like real killers!

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SOUTHGOINGZAX 1/25/2011 11:22AM

    Really awesome and informative blog - not sure I want to hack up white frothy stuff....but you've given me something to think about.

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Colorado - BYOX

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

I saw a shirt in a local store in here in Colorado that had the following printed on the front:

"Colorado BYOX
Bring Your Own Oxygen"

I just started running again - and I really suck! I am just getting over a bout with Bronchitis. For some reason I have always been susceptible to Bronchitis. I live at over 8,000 feet. There is not much air up here. The hills are steep. High-elevation mountain runners consider a 10min mile pace to be really cooking along.

I have had to revert to the tried-and-true Couch-to-5K running program to get back in shape. I am on Week 1 of the program. In the vernacular of the C25K program I am on W1D1. My average pace, which consised of walking and running, was a rather embarrassing 13:30 min/mile pace. Yikes!

I looked back at some of my old running accomplishments and kind of cringe.

April 24th, 2010
6.2 miles (10K) in 1:05:37 - Average Pace 10:30 min/mile
Location: Bailey, CO - Elevation 8,120 feet
Course: Mountainous - 20+ percent grade

I was a bit faster at lower elevations:

June 8th, 2010
6.6 miles in 44:45 with an average pace of 6:37 min/mile
Location: Des Moines, Iowa - Elevation 950 feet
Course: Flat with slight rolling hills

What did I do last time I ran?

January 2nd, 2011
1.88 miles in 25:23 with an average pace of 13:30 min/mile
Location: Bailey, CO - Elevation 8,120 feet
Course: Mountainous - 20+ percent grade

I suppose I should be happy. I don't think I can get much slower. I was really hurting after my last run. My hands and face were tingling from lack of oxygen. My lungs were on fire.

I just got to keep at it.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SOUTHGOINGZAX 1/27/2011 12:13AM

    Wow. You are really fast when you are healthy. That's REALLY impressive.

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LKEITHO 1/5/2011 9:26PM

    I'm sure you'll get back to your old form. Just don't hurt yourself while you do it! All the best!

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    Take care in that cold, thin, mountain air. Glad you are back to running though...your times are still better than mine and I'm sure that they'll be back to their old place or even better before long. :)

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ELYMWX 1/5/2011 12:47PM

    Well, all I can say is take it easy, and keep healthy, and you'll be back at it soon.

I actually have some scarring in my lungs from a couple serious bouts of pneumonia, bronchitis, and pleurisy (one after the other) in my early teenage years. As a result whenever I get a chest cold or infection it tends to say around for what seems like forever, which sometimes then results in cough syncope. However, my recently-improved health seems to be paying off in spades and I've not had anywhere near as many issues with my lungs in the last year and a half.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying running at sea level. emoticon

Take care...

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CHARGER25 1/5/2011 10:44AM

    I have admitted many times that I suck at running......that said I could not imagine or attempt to run in altitude or in the winter. I am thankful for 24 hour fitness! Brrr......

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ANMRUNNER 1/5/2011 10:02AM

    Start slow and you'll be back up to speed in no time! I live almost at sea level and I consider my 10 minute mile pace pretty speedy, so I think you're doing great!! ;)

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RWALTON730 1/5/2011 8:09AM

    Bronchitis does suck! I have never had it, knock on wood, but my daddy, daughter, and granddaughters have. They really had a tough time with it. I am glad you are doing better and back to running. I need to work on picking up the pace, too. I just can't get my 5k under 30 minutes. I am determined that my split in my next race will be 10 or 10:30. i am running a 7K in March, so plenty of time to work on that. Good luck with your running! Maybe I will see you at a race some day.


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    BYOX! Love it!

Woo hoo! He's back! Its frustrating to start over, I know. But you'll pick up the pace in no time.

Bronchitis sucks...be nice to yourself.

Welcome back!

Just went back to read over some of your past blogs...geez, you've been through a lot! Tough and tenacious...
And congrats on the MOTIVATOR award! I totally agree with them.

Comment edited on: 1/5/2011 8:01:10 AM

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