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Running Slowly - But I have Excuses!

Friday, January 01, 2010

TIME: 4:00pm
LOCATION: Bailey, Colorado -- Burland Ranchettes
5K TIME: 34:28
PACE: 11:71 min/mile
TOTAL TIME: 45 minutes (Running + warm-up and Cool-down)
WEATHER CONDITIONS: Cloudy, Temperature 28.3 °F, Feels Like 15.9 °F, Wind 16.1 mph, Humidity 34%, Patches of Frozen Snow and Ice.

ELEVATION: 7909 to 8350 Feet above Sea Level (Hilly)


I am finally feeling good. I kicked the nagging case of Bronchitis and can breathe better.

Time to run! Hooray! Or so I thought. My time still sucked! I think I need to lower my expectations. I live in a place where it is kind of hard to run. I have a bunch of excuses, though.

I live in the mountains of Colorado and there are a lot of hills. I decided to do some hill running today. I started my run at 7,838 feet elevation. I finished at 8,350 feet. The total vertical rise was 512 feet in 3.1 miles. The steepest hill had a vertical rise of 220 feet in 0.2 miles. The vertical rise was 20 feet for every 100 feet of running distance. I got to tell you that is a steep hill!

My Garmin told me I was barely moving at a 13 to 14 min/mile pace while I struggled up this brutal hill.

Besides a series of heck-for-steep hills, I got more excuses. The temperature was below freezing and I had to run against a 16 mph wind. I was wearing some pretty heavy winter clothes. I also had studded snow tracks on my shoes so I wouldn’t slip on the hard packed snow and patches of ice.

The excuses just keep coming!

There just ain't a lot of air at 8,000 feet! There are a whole lot of bad things that happen at 8,000 feet to slow you down.

At high altitude the partial pressure of oxygen is reduced. The ability of the lungs to absorb oxygen is dependent upon the pressure exerted by oxygen on the alveoli (tiny air sacs in the lungs). The reduction of oxygen pressure at high altitudes means less oxygen is driven from the lungs into the blood.

Here is a list of the top six bad things that happen due to the reduce pressure of oxygen:

(1) Breathing rate increases during exercise as compared to sea level.

At 8,000 feet the breathing rate has to increase to try to compensate for the smaller number of oxygen molecules in a given amount of air. The higher breathing rate contributes to an earlier onset of fatigue.

(2) Oxygen diffusion decreases.

At sea level the oxygen exchange between the lungs and the blood is unhindered. At 8,000 feet the oxygen saturation in the blood drops to less than 90%. Less oxygen means a reduction in athletic performance.

(3) Exchange of oxygen between the blood and active tissue is reduced (This is really bad!)

At 8,000 feet the partial pressure of oxygen in the arteries is reduced by 70%. Far less oxygen passes (diffuses) from the blood to the active tissue. This means whatever small amount of oxygen is in your blood doesn’t get to the muscles that really need it! I get tingling in my fingers and lips sometimes. My vision blurs and I have trouble running in straight line. These are usually signs I need to walk and catch my breath.

(4) VO2 max decreases.

Maximal oxygen uptake decreases significantly at high altitude. At 8,000 VO2max drops by 11%. VO2max measures the body’s ability to sustain aerobic activity. As VO2max drops endurance also drops.

(5) Maximal cardiac output decreases.

During exhaustive exercise both maximal stroke volume and maximal heart rate decrease with altitude. The reduction of cardio output hinders endurance. You have less oxygen in your blood, and the muscles have trouble absorbing the oxygen. You also have an oxygen delivery system that is slower to boot. This actually is painful. The heart just pounds away and very little blood is getting where it needs to go.

(6) Lactate Accumulation Increases.

Lack of oxygen at altitude causes an increased reliance on the anaerobic system to provide energy. This reliance on the anaerobic energy system results in increased concentrations of lactate. Lactate gives up hydrogen ions which causes increased acidity of in the blood called acidosis. Acidosis slows the ability of the muscles to contract. Slow muscles equal slow running.

In summary, my excuses for my abysmal 5K time are: I was running up steep hills against a 16 mph head wind on a slippery surface in freezing temperatures wearing heavy clothes and snow treads at 8,000 feet elevation with no discernable oxygen getting to my muscles that were nearly paralyzed by acidosis.

Did I also mention I am out of shape?

Studded Snow Tracks

This is cold and Icy. Lots of fun!

My Footprints in the snow. Did I mention that the wind picks up icy snow and sandblasts you?

This is a hill.

Home again! Nice warm house. The ladder is a permanent fixture during the winter so I can knock snow out of the satellite disk!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    Ok...you win. Really.

More snow, WAAAAYYYYYY steeper hills, and the whole oxygen deprivation thing.

Oh, yeah, and then there's the bronchitis.

Mmm hmm.... emoticon That's me running the other way when you ask me to join you for a jaunt on the MOUNTAIN.

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CHARGER25 1/1/2010 11:51PM


You are a stud......stop with all the excuses...... we don't believe you anymore. I was in the Mid West this week and was whining about the fact that it was 27 degrees.

Yea..... and it is flat and trying to snow....Oh yea I worked out inside....but then again I am from Cali.....(there is my excuse!)


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HARRINGTON5 1/1/2010 11:21PM

    Bruce, You are amazing! Under all those conditions and you say your time sucks? You beat my best time in the warm, sunny, Florida weather, so now I really feel like a wimp. I complained so much the day it rained and said I would never run in bad weather again. Good thing I don't live where you do or I would stay a couch potato!

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SMARTIEBEE 1/1/2010 11:19AM

    Oh gosh, and here I was complaining about the wind and rain yesterday, it was only 41F out there! Makes me feel like such a wimp! Good for you for getting out there!

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NANCYLEE46 1/1/2010 8:46AM

    You are an inspiration!!!
Could use you in the team I lead, lol
Happy New year.


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GBOOMER 1/1/2010 7:58AM

    Without any of those excuses, my time isn't much better. However, the important thing is that one is out there doing it! Being healthy and active.

I love the pics! (I wish SparkPeople let us post bigger pictures, don't you?)

Happy New Year!

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IPA-RAY 1/1/2010 7:11AM

    Good excuses! That altitude is a killer, for sure. My wife has done 2 100 mile trail runs and the very hilly 70.5 mile Laurel Highlands trail run twice. On our first run during our week in Estes Park, CO, she walked on an uphill during the first mile!


Doing that run under those conditions will make you stronger!


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IRONGRANNIE 1/1/2010 3:40AM

    You are NOT out of shape!! That is awesome! I can't run that fast at sea level in summer !

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MARMALADESKY 1/1/2010 2:27AM

    Bailey. Hah. Two of my roommates at CSU were from Bailey.

I used to gain upwards of 20lbs over the winters when I lived in Boulder/FoCo because I absolutely could not run in the cold air. My lungs just refused to work. You are a stronger man than I am, that's for sure.

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  Maybe you can take me there one day? ;)

Comment edited on: 1/1/2010 2:23:06 AM

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Comment edited on: 1/1/2010 2:22:48 AM

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First Run in Many Weeks

Sunday, December 27, 2009

TIME: 2:00pm
LOCATION: Bailey, Colorado -- Platte Canyon High School Track
2 MILE TIME: 19:48
PACE: 9:45 min/mile
COMPANY: Sons - Ben 29 yrs, Scott 23 yrs.
TOTAL TIME: 40 minutes (Stretching, Running and Walking)
WEATHER CONDITIONS: Sunny, Temperature 29.2 °F, Feels Like 29.2 °F, Wind Calm, Humidity 41%, Patches of Frozen Snow.
ELEVATION: 8047 Feet

I am nearly cured of Bronchitis but not quite. I still had a little difficulty breathing. I had to walk more than I wanted to. Even with a bit of walking, my training pace has improved. I think if I pushed it a little more I could have been a little closer to a 9 min/mile pace. But I decided to take it easy. Taking so much time off has really impacted my ability to run.

I am still trying to figure out a good training regime. I think I am back.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GBOOMER 12/28/2009 8:59AM

    For me, because of old injuries, every run is like a first in that I have to be mindful.

It is good to have company. Let's "run together" (virtually, at least)!

Spark on!

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NETGUNNY 12/28/2009 6:07AM

    Your times sound good, especially as you are still in recovery mode. Don't push too hard, too soon. I am sure you will regain everything you lost, and more.

My hat is off to you, and anyone, who works out in what I consider completely inhospitable conditions. No envy here, just respect.

Take care . . .


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HARRINGTON5 12/27/2009 11:34PM

    Bruce, good for you. So glad to hear that you are feeling better. I think your time is great, you don't want to push too hard. You will be back up to speed in no time. I'm still doing 12 min. miles, but I went eight miles today, so I felt good about that. You are a trooper, but don't over do it! Give the Bronchitis the time it needs to completely go away. HAPPY NEW YEAR to you! Cynthia

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CHERRIERUNS 12/27/2009 6:22PM

    Nice job. I ran my first run in along time too. I ran 1.5 yesterday at a 9:15 pace. I had been sidelined for a bit with what they thought was a herniated disc. Turns out to be a very very tight muscle. I started to feel the leg stiffen up right after I hit a mile so by 1.5 I decided to stop. I want to recover not re-injure. Slow but sure and you will be back to running what you like and at the pace you want.

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Scheduling Races and the Galloway Magic Mile

Friday, December 25, 2009

I am trying to figure out a racing schedule for 2010. I would like to strike a balance between short races and longer races. I have found a couple of 1 mile races. I have also found some and 2 mile races. These short races are trail runs. That suits me just fine. I know those are short quick races. But, well, I have really short legs. I am a tad over six feet tall and have a 28" inseam.

I have good speed over a short distance. I don't think I am a very good distance runner.

I can handle 5K races pretty well. So I will sign up for some of my favorite 5K runs. I am thinking about adding a few 10k races to the mix. Maybe I could even do a 1/2 Marathon. Training for longer races could be fun.

My Galloway magic mile time is pretty good. However, I don't find that my magic mile time is a good predictor of my 5K or 10K times. I am not sure why. Maybe the Galloway magic mile predictions don't work for people with stubby legs.

I just need to pound a stake into the ground and start training in earnest. It is time to quit having fun and get serious!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NETGUNNY 12/28/2009 5:53AM

I doubt having short legs is going to hold you back at longer distances. I have seen plenty of "stubby" leg runners who, by their performance, clearly didn't realize short legs were a shortcoming (no pun intended). I think it's probably more a matter of recalibrating your mindset (and training) for the longer distances.

My heartfelt advice, step up the training if you must, but don't ever let the fun cease to be a part of the process. I am reminded of the oft quoted phrase, "if you're enjoy what you do, you'll never work a day in your life." Okay, it's a little bit of a stretch here, but you get the idea.

Take care . . .

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GBOOMER 12/26/2009 8:51AM

    I have a Galloway book (Running Until You're 100) but I haven't had the discipline to figure out things like the "magic mile". So I really admire you for that!

I've been thinking about my racing schedule too. I think I'll run two 10ks and two 5ks, one race each "quarter".

Take care and have some great running this year!

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Medicinal Chicken Soup - I am Not Runing For a While

Sunday, December 13, 2009

After my ill-advised attempt at running yesterday, I had a major relapsed of Bronchitis symptoms. So I did what any reasonable man would do. I made Chicken soup! This special chicken soup is highly prized by my family members as a cure-all for colds, Flu, Pneumonia and, now, Bronchitis.

This soup was recommended by a Doctor on a local Denver news program (CBS affiliate). Here it is:

Special Chicken Soup Recipe

(CBS4) Homemade chicken soup has been making people feel better since the 12th century which is probably why your grandmother made it for you.

* * *

Chicken soup recipe from Dr. Stephen Rennard, Chief of Pulmonary Medicine, University of Nebraska Medical Center:

1 5 lb chicken
3 large onions
1 large sweet potato
3 parsnips
2 turnips
12 large carrots
6 celery stalks
1 bunch parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Clean chicken, put in a large pot of cold water. Bring to a boil.
Add onions, sweet potato, parsnips, turnips and carrots.
Boil for 1.5 hours. Skim fat off as develops.
Add parsley, celery and cook an additional 45 minutes.
Remove the chicken, put vegetables in a food processor, chop until very fine and add back into broth. Serve.

This is pretty tasty soup. It does work!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HARRINGTON5 12/14/2009 1:04PM

    Bruce, I believe in this soup too, it is practically all I have had for the last two days and I feel good enough to do laundry today. (oh joy) Get well soon, you need the rest, so take it, Cynthia

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REDCHILIFLAKES 12/14/2009 12:38AM

    Get well soon!

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Hack! Hack! Wheeze! Gasp! Gasp!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

TIME: 4:00pm
LOCATION: Bailey, Colorado -- Platte Canyon High School Track and Cross-Country Trail
5K TIME: 34:12
PACE: 11 min/mile
COMPANY: Alone (As Always)
TOTAL TIME: 65 minutes (Stretching, Running and Walking)
WEATHER CONDITIONS: Cloudy, Temperature 29.2 °F, Feels Like 12.8 °F, Wind 18.4 mph SSW, Humidity 50%, Patches of Frozen Snow.
ELEVATION: 8047 Feet

For the past couple of weeks I have had some chest congestion. I went to the doctor on Thursday. She diagnosed me with Acute Bronchitis. She prescribed a couple of different drugs. End of story.

What the heck is Bronchitis? Maybe I should have asked!

I had been working out on my elliptical trainer and lifting some weights. No problem. I felt fine. For the past week, the temperature had been in the single digits. It was just too cold to run. Today the temperature got above freezing.

Time to run!

I grabbed my brand new Garmin 305 timer and headed for the local high school track. When I got to the high school the temperature had dropped and the wind had picked up. I warmed up by walking 400 meters, then jogging 400 meters. I did some gentle stretching. I then got ready to blast-off for a quick 5K. In retrospect I was quite delusional.

I took off at a good clip and ran about 100 yards.

Then it happened! I couldn’t breathe. I struggled to get some air. My legs felt like lead. I pushed as hard as I could for a mile. My timer told me my pace was well over 10 minutes per mile. My fingers and toes were tingling! I couldn’t run any further. I started walking while trying to gulp some air. I was hacking and wheezing. My lungs hurt! I walked 200M trying to catch my breath. I started to run again but slowed to a steady jog. I ran out of breath after 400M. I had to walk. I walked about ˝ mile.

I was starting to figure out what Bronchitis was all about. I was doing a timed run and couldn’t breathe. Call me Stupid! Maybe my brain was frozen! I was determined to run 5K no matter what! I knew my legs could go faster, but I couldn’t make them go faster. It was like trying to run while holding your breath! The minutes flew by -- the ground did not! I passed the 5k mark at 34:12. Finally it was over! I will spare you the details of my post run coughing fit.

I suppose I need to learn when to give up. Maybe I should have stopped after the first 100M when I ran out of air. The thing is I really enjoyed this run! I didn’t need to be fast. I just needed to finish! All things considered, 34:12 was a miracle!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

HARRINGTON5 12/14/2009 1:01PM

    Bruce! You are so right, I can see that now; you and I are both hard-headed! Bronchitis can really be serious because it is resting in your lungs. What you described is exactly how I felt during my 10K and that is probably why I am sick now. I am feeling much better, but I have done no exercising for two days and it is making me antsy, but I'm not ready to start running yet. Please take care of yourself. Your time was wonderful, especially considering the conditions you were running under. Listen up, take your medication until it is gone, even if you feel better before then. I used to get bronchitis once a year because I would always stop taking the medicine as soon as I felt better. Once I took it the full ten days, I never got it again. So, thank you for your comments and listen to your own advice too...lol Be well, my friend, Cynthia

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NETGUNNY 12/14/2009 7:27AM


Hope you feel better soon! Being unable to breathe, that seems just a tad scary to me. Your experience brings to mind the time in Okinawa when my stubborn refusal to give up on a run almost became fatal . . . I learned a LOT that day!

Take care, and be safe . . . emoticon


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HOPE2BE 12/13/2009 12:58AM

    I know how you feel. I have COPD and have to stop every so often to get my wind back into my lungs. I've had pneumonia so many times that its finally catching up with me. Exercise helps but now I'm wearing oxygen. I'm trying to get off it. I'm hoping I succeed. However if I keep getting pneumonia I won't be able to.

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