Archive for January of 2008

Runner's Log

January 29, 2008
Okay, so maybe because I'm a statistician in my real life, I'm a little obsessed with keeping track of my mileage. There's a free online training log that I really like on www.runnersworld.com. It's got cool graphs & links to a mapping program so you can map the routes you run. You can even make your log public so others can see it.

Nike + has a neat running community site where info from your Nike + ipod device can be uploaded and shared with others. You can even join running challenges online. I like the idea, but tried the Nike + system at the Baltimore Marathon last year. I was disappointed when I finished the marathon and the ipod read 14.6 miles completed instead of the 26.2 miles I know I ran ;>).

Garmin is coming out with a new version of the Forerunner that looks more like a regular watch. Same great GPS functions (time, pace, distance), but simpler controls and a scroll wheel (kinda like the ipod). It has wireless sync to your computer, and will upload your data to an online communtity/log (currently only available with the new model). It's kinda pricey ($300), and will be out in February sometime.

I like the idea of the online running community. The idea that you could virtually train with others from all over the world, compare workouts, race times seems interesting. Maybe the "world is flat".

Here is a sample of my log from the runnersworld site, hope this works ;>)





See ya on the streets,
Tom

BTW: If you been following my belly aching about being injured, I'm happy to report, I was able to run 20+ miles on Saturday and then run the Frostbite 15K on Sunday (PAIN FREE)!

A Spiritual Run

January 27, 2008

The last couple of weeks have taken their toll on me. Taking on a new project at work (which was left by an exiting colleague), employee evaluations (I hate doing those), and the fact that I haven't been able to run (due to my hamstring injury) had all contributed to a higher than normal level of stress. So we decided it was time for a trip to my favorite place on earth, the BEACH. We go to a small beach in NC (which my wife doesn't want me to name so it'll stay “our” secret). There are no big attractions at our beach (other than the Atlantic Ocean), kind of a Mayberry at the Beach (hint) setting.

So, even though the weather was supposed to be crappy, we packed up the kids as soon as they got out of school on Friday for a long weekend at the beach. I love the beach. The most difficult chore I do there is empty the dishwasher. We stopped for dinner at Cici's pizza (all you can eat, I also love pizza), and after about 4.5 hours of driving, we arrived and unloaded. Our condo had been winterized, so I needed to get the water turned back on. This is usually a fairly easy task, however this time the valve seemed to be stuck. After several trips up & down the stairs, I bent down to look under the kitchen sink to see if maybe there was another shut-off under there. When I bent my knee to look under the sink, “BANG!”, I felt an explosion in my injured hamstring area. I don't remember feeling much pain, just an incredible amount of blood or something went rushing through my leg. This, on top of not getting the water turned on, was adding to the stress that I had come to the beach to escape. At this point, I think God finally intervened thinking “okay, he's had enough”. I went down to the valve one more time and this time it turned with no problem, water on!

After a great night's sleep, we woke up to drizzly conditions. We went out for breakfast, noticing the lack of any traffic, and we pretty much had the entire restaurant to ourselves. We drove around the beach to see what was new, bought a few groceries, stopped by the coffee shop, and then headed back to the condo to relax. I noticed that I hadn't felt a twinge in my hamstring all morning. After checking the tide charts, I found that it was about peak time for low tide. I decided that I would attempt a run on the beach and promised Jill that I would go easy and stop if anything started hurting.

Temperatures were in the mid 40's with a slight drizzle, perfect running weather. There was a slight breeze coming from the north, so I decided to head into it in case I had to walk back, at least the wind would be at my back. The beach was completely flat and packed down. We must have had a really calm but high tide the night before. The waves were barely rolling in making the Atlantic look more like a big lake than an ocean. Perfect I thought.

I started north on the beach at an easy pace. I kept doing a self check on my body, but not even the slightest pain. Even though I was running against the wind, it felt effortless. I looked down at my Garmin expecting to see a slow pace after the alarm for the first mile sounded. I was surprised to see I was going at my usual pre-injury pace. All was going well so I decided that I would try for 6 miles (3 miles up & 3 miles back).

I usually don't see too many other runners on the beach, but usually a few people walking their dogs or looking for shells. About 2 miles into the run, I noticed I hadn't seen one person. I usually look for sea glass and sharks teeth while I'm running so I can bring them back to the girls so they'll know I was thinking about them on my run, but today there was hardly even a shell on the beach, nothing but hard packed sand. My only distraction was the occasional pack of seagulls who seemed to think I was chasing them up the beach. They would finally figure out if they just stood still I would run right by them.

I made it to an old pier and beach shack that I frequently use as a land-mark for my turn-around, just over 3 miles. I stopped for a brief moment and thanked the Lord for allowing me such a peaceful and pain-free 3 miles. I turned and headed back toward the condo. I thought to myself, this has been a perfect run. If all runs felt like this one, everyone would run. I felt so good, I had to remind myself not to push the pace (I wasn't suppose to run until Thursday the next week). I was excited that I was running pain-free, and started re-thinking my marathon plans.

Then I thought maybe, this run is just a gift from God. I should just enjoy this and not make too many plans yet. I had almost given up hope of finding anything to bring back to the girls, when I happen to look down at one of my footprints I had made in my trip up the beach. Just beside the indention made by my running shoe was a piece of white sea glass. It was part of the mouth of an old soda bottle that had been frosted & worn smooth by the ocean waves. I thought “how could I have missed that on my way out?” Maybe another gift? I picked it up & preceded to finish my run, 6.2 almost effortless PAIN FREE miles. I paused to take another look out in the ocean and up and down the beach, still not a soul. For almost an hour I had enjoyed one of God's greatest creations all to myself, how lucky was I?

See ya on the streets,
Tom

Ashland Dave's Swinging Bridge Race Report

January 20, 2008
Here's another great race report from Dave. Dave finished 3rd in his age group!

Swinging Bridge 35K Race Report 2008

The race was held at Bear Creek State Park in Cumberland County on Saturday,
January 19, 2008. It was a lot of fun but also a very difficult race for me. In
my opinion, I found the difficulty of running the distance plus terrain of this
20+ miler easily compared to the difficulty of the two marathons I have
finished.

I met up with my brother, John, in Midlothian around 6:30am and we rode out to
Cumberland together. We got there around 7:15 (race started at 8am). There was
a park ranger instructing runners to park at the bottom of the hill which was
several hundred yards from the packet pickup and staging area. John signed up
to volunteer.

The race organizer made some announcements. He warned us of the creeks being
higher than before. He also said he placed white ribbons at several places
along the route so we wouldn't get lost. As a final gesture, he had a box of
whistles and offered them to anyone who felt like they would get lost. I didn't
take a whistle but was surprised how many people did. All told, I guess there
were about 70 runners.

Once we finally got started a few minutes after 8, I warmed up pretty fast. It
stayed in the lower 30's all morning. No sunshine. It didn't snow although I
heard some people hoping for it (for me, I prefer it to snow when I'm indoors,
not in the middle of a state forest area (a.k.a. BFE) where it's hard to tell
north, south, etc).

At the first creek crossing, there was simply no way to avoid going in past
ankle depth. Some people scampered up the creek bed to look for shallower water
but I just plunged in behind the others. It was going to happen inevitably. The
water was a little deceiving and my pants were wet all the way up to my calves.
Funny how the water quickly left my shoes though. They didn't feel heavy once
the water was expelled.

Many areas of the trail had muck. Just plain old muck. My shoes were covered
with mud early on. Some of the muck was deep enough to almost snatch the shoe
off of my heel.

My brother was at the 5 mile aid station. They had cookies, coke, frozen green
bananas, some green carbonated liquid and water. I think the green stuff was
mountain do. I was feeling okay at this point and didn't spend a lot of time
taking a break although it felt good to stop for a few minutes. I remember
thinking to myself how far I had to go and would I be able to do it?

At the halfway mark (just over 10 miles on my Garmin) was another aid station.
This one had M&Ms and there were several runners hanging out. No one was in any
hurry at all. I probably spent close to 10 minutes eating M&Ms and cookies and
drinking water. There was a photographer in the area and he took my picture in
front of the actual 'swinging bridge' the race is named after. We didn't run
over the bridge and I would not have noticed it at all had I not seen the guy
taking someone's picture. I had my picture taken but I had a mouth full of food
at the time. I thought the route had the bridge in it. It was a little
disappointing.

I felt very good during the few miles after the halfway mark. It was probably
the sugar in my system.

I made it through miles 16, 17, and 18 feeling great. I was in a good place.
But just before 19, I started crashing. It's the same feeling I had on
Chamberlayne Avenue in 2006 during the last few miles of the Richmond Marathon.
It's a terrible feeling. Simply awful. Feelings such as having an overall bad
attitude, wanting it to be over, thoughts of walking it in, etc. I didn't
understand it because I ate a Clif bar earlier and I took two Power gels. I
knew I was plenty hydrated. I'm guessing it was my endurance. I was fueling my
muscles but I didn't have them trained for the duration they would be needed
for.

Since I knew the end was near, I just gutted it out. Everyone knows what that's
like. I had no energy left. The finish line came at the perfect time. I drank
several cups of coke which I've adopted as my new recovery drink.

I finished in 4:17:something. The winner of the 50K came in 5 minutes after me
at 4:23:something. He ran 30+ miles in the time it took me to run just over 20!
I left the finish line area after that. I didn't need to see any other “elite”
runners come in.

I forgot to wear my heart rate monitor. It would have been interesting to see
how high my heartrate got when running/walking up the hills. There were some
times I thought my heart would beat right out of the chest.

The race route was different than the Bear Creek route. I think the route
actually left the state park and entered the Cumberland State Forest area
because we had to cross two state highways.

I thought the race organizer did a good job of marking the route with the white
ribbons. It had to have taken him hours to do so. There were some points where
the trail wasn't definitive but the white blazes were. In those areas, runners
seemed to take different routes through the woods because it wasn't obvious
where the trail was.

Would I do this race again? Not sure on that one. I think it would be more fun
to run it with someone else. I didn't know any other runners out there. I saw
some familiar faces from other races but no one I knew personally. Trail
running is a lot different than road running. I can see why some folks really
get into it. It's very peaceful in the woods, whether you're in pain or not.

It was a good overall experience. I had wanted to do a trail endurance race for
quite some time just to see what it was like. The race t-shirt is cool.

I'll work on my video and get it up on townhound.com as soon as I can.

Happy Running!

Ashland Dave

Group Running Opportunities

January 16, 2008
Hello,

If one of your New Year's resolutions is to start running, there are some great opportunities to get you started. First is the Ukrops Monument Ave 10K training group (http://www.sportsbackers.org/10kymcatrainingteam.htm). The program starts in a couple of weeks (1/26/2008) at the Ashcake location of YMCA & is perfect for beginners & those getting back into running. Sign-up deadline is 2/2/2008, so you can come out to the first run & see if it's for you. I think I'm going help coach, and if you're not into big races (expecting 30,000 runners this year), we can adjust your training so that you'll be ready to run the much smaller 30th Annual Ashland Railroad Run on 3/15/2008 (I'm thinking we'll have somewhat less than 30.000 for that one).

Once, you've completed your 10K, now you're ready to set your sites on the Half Marathon. Plans are in their infancy stage to offer an Ashland training group for the Patrick Henry Half Marathon slated for August 23, 2008. We're trying to gauge the how many people would be interested, so if you are please email me at tom.grant@comcast.net.

Once you've completed the PH Half Marathon, you'll be ready for the ultimate runner's challenge (no not Blunt's Bridge, although that will be on the schedule), the Marathon. You can either join the Sportbackers training team, or perhaps a smaller group like the "Bob Brown's 1st Marathon" training group in Ashland (that's right Bob, it's documented now ;>). The plan is to run the OBX Marathon (it's usually held the Sunday after the Richmond Marathon). I believe OBX is a better alternative for a first marathon, as the course only has one hill & if the wind is like last year, you'll have a tailwind for about 25 miles.

On a personal note, seems I've torn my hamstring. I managed to struggle through 18 miles last weekend, but in the process also injured a tendon in the opposite ankle (when it rains, it pours). Maybe there's lesspn to be learned ... NAW, the more I dumb, the runner I get! Anyway, I'm still planning to run the B&A Marathon with Dennis, Bryan, & Dave, but hopes of qualifying for Boston are slim to none. It'll be fun anyway.

Dave's running another trail race again this weekend, the Swinging Bridge 35/50K. Looking forward to his race report (video, Dave???).

That's it for now. One week, one commitment met (up-dating the blog).

See ya on the streets (SOON!),
Tom

Injured???

January 07, 2008
I've been kinda slack in updating the blog (sorry). I'm going to make it goal to at least add one new post weekly (hopefully more). Luckily, Dave Klisz has provided a video & a run report (previous posts). Check out the video, hopefully Dave will bring his new camera out to future training runs & races.

Speaking of races, Dennis Johnson, Dave, Bryan, & I are planning to do the B & A Trail Marathon near Annapolis, MD on March 2. I've been following Hal Higdon's 18-week marathon training plan. It's a pretty tough plan (6 days of running per weeK), but I thought I'd give a shot (my goal is to run a 3:30:59 marathon which would qualify me to run the Boston Marathon). The plan was going great until this Saturday when my hamstring started hurting. By mile 13 of this Saturday's training run, I was feeling a sharp pain & stiffening in the back of my left leg. We stopped at 13 miles to get water, & meet Ashland Bob & Molly (Dennis's daughter) for next 6 miles (I was scheduled to run 19 total). Dave & Alan completed their runs at 13 miles & headed home (we ran the Patrick Henry Half marathon course, starting from the Ashland Train Station, running the course backwards). I coaxed Bryan into running a couple more miles with us. For the last 6 miles. we were running the Ashland Railroad Run 10K course backwards, but as we started I knew I was in trouble. My hamstring was really tight & I couldn't stretch it out. I had only missed one training run in the first 10 weeks of plan, so I decided to keep going, trying to get the 19 miles in. At 18.3 miles, we were back at the train station, I told Bob "close enough". I got home & things got worse. My hamstring swelled (I could feel it creak like an old rubber-ban). Anyway, I'm going to see Dr. Teresa Stadler in the morning to see what she thinks.

I'm telling the above story for a few reasons:
1. If I don't qualify for Boston on 3/2/2008, I have a documented excuse ;>)
2. I know many runners out there are experiencing or have experienced an injury that keeps them from running.
3. Just venting my frustration at being side-lined.

Here are a few things I've learned:

1. There is a grey area between good pain (being sore) & bad pain (being injured). Good pain goes away quickly after running has stopped. It is not present at the beginning of your next run, or if it is, it goes away quickly. Bad pain gets worse the more you ignore it. It's there almost all the time. Non-runners say "if it hurts, stop. What are you stupid?". They don't understand that if stopped everytime it hurt, you would probably never have gotten started in the first place. But sometimes, you need to listen to your body & not your stubborn head (wish I had).

2. It takes a while to begin to really enjoy running. It helps to have running buddies to get you over the top. Once you're there, it becomes part of your life. Every runner likes running for a particular reason(s). Whether it's stress relief, health benefits, social interaction, weight loss, etc. Whatever satisfaction you get from running, you miss it when you can't run. Maybe because running is so simple, no other form of exercise fills the void left when you can't run.

3. Injuries are a given. I don't think I know of a runner that hasn't had an injury that kept them from running at some point in their running life. Injuries always seem to happen when you're making the most progress. Running is a balancing act, you want to do enough to improve and reach the "peak" of your abilities, but do too much & you'll slide right off the other side.

If you are injured, be patient. Realize it's just a bump in the road. Don't ignore "bad" pain. Remember, if you're an injured runner, you're still a runnner, and you'll be back.

See ya on the streets,
Tom

P.S. If you have content about your running experiences or anything running related that you would like me to post, email it to me at tom.grant@comcast.net. Thanks again to Dave for his recent & past items.


Blunt's Bridge Cahllenge - run report by Dave Kilsz

January 07, 2008
Thanks to Dave for providing another great run report, & be sure to check out his video (previous post).

Blunts Bridge Challenge December 2007 - Dave Klisz

Several folks made it out for this very unofficial challenge run but
first I have to explain how this "run" was born.

Several times last year, I ran into Dennis Hansen of Virginia Street.
Even though Dennis and I run different finishing times and at different
paces, I frequently saw him at races and sometimes on training runs. On one
occasion, Dennis said something about how his house to Old Ridge Road and back was
fourteen miles. Dennis said he liked the route because it gave him a
good long distance for marathon and half marathon training runs. I asked him what
route he took. Dennis said it didn't really matter too much as long as you got
to Blunts Bridge Road somehow.

I drove the route a few times to check the distance from various points
around Center St. and my house just down from Dennis' on Virginia Street (these
were pre-Garmin days for me). I also checked the distance using various
websites such as usatf.org.

So, in February 2007, I asked Bob Brown (a.k.a. Ashland Bob) if he
wanted to try the route. Bob and I had been training for the Shamrock half
marathon and a 13 mile run in late February was timed just right for our training plan.
We set out in the early afternoon because it was just too cold earlier in the
morning. We didn't really know what we were getting into. We finished the out and
back route with minimal physical problems. I had stomach issues when we were
in Doswell and it wasn't good.

Anyhow, Bob coined the name of the route and decided it should be
reserved for special occasions because it was so difficult. Bob called the route the
"Blunts Bridge Challenge."

The distance isn't really the hard part. It's the hills. Three sets of
hill to be exact. That's six sets of hills for an out and back route. One of the
hills that goes north from the Newfound River almost requires a roadside
staircase (or ladder). Local road cyclists call the route the "Three Sisters." I
have to say the remaining hills are pretty tough by this runner's standards. In
fact, I trained on one of the hills in order to handle the hills of the
Baltimore marathon. Generally speaking, runners don't intentionally seek out
routes with serious hills because it's silly to do so. Blunts Bridge Road is made
for road cyclists!

Since almost a year had gone by, I felt like it was time to throw out
the idea to see if anyone was interested in running the route. I had a 35K trail
race coming up as well as an early spring marathon. I needed something
different for my weekly long run.

I knew there were some people in the area who wanted some road abuse. I
sent an email to my current training group (Team Incognito) but most folks were
either out of town, injured, or didn't have their mileage up to double digits
yet. Michelle Clore and Chris Schmidt expressed interest. Michelle is making
a comeback from an injury and she wanted to run part of the route.
Michelle is very reliable and usually likes running in different areas around
Richmond. We made arrangements for her to get a ride to the turnaround spot. Chris
said he would run the whole way because he's planning to run the Shamrock full
marathon in March. Michelle brought along a friend named Shannon.

Alan Abbott of Ashland signed on right away. He's got the full Shamrock
marathon in his sights for 2008. Bryan Cline sent out the invitation to
his Grub Kitty group and we had Dennis Johnson, Charles Smith and Michelle
Quinn show up as well. Ashland Bob also said he would participate since he
pioneered the whole thing. He didn't have "match fitness" for the whole route so
he rode with the SAG wagon to the turn around point.

Everyone met at the train station at 8:30am but it was raining! It's
pretty tough to run in the rain for two hours but fortunately the heavy stuff
never quite came down. Eventually the rain stopped altogether and we set out
for an excellent training run.

Michelle Quinn ran into some trouble around the 5 mile mark. Apparently,
Tom Grant had described the hills as "rolling" and not as they truly are.
Michelle was mad! She made it up to the SAG and got a car ride back. She's still
getting her mileage up and wasn't planning on an "abuse" run. We picked up three
runners at the SAG and made our way back to Ashland.

Everyone did fine. Shannon didn't like the hills one bit! Alan picked up
his pace and we didn't see him until the end.

I considered it a compliment when Dennis Johnson called me a "sick
puppy." Anyhow, we all headed over to Sullivans for a much deserved beer and
some fellowship before everyone headed for home.

So, will there be a Blunts Bridge challenge 2008? Probably so. Maybe in
December or really anytime anyone just needs a little more hill work.

See you on the streets.

PH Training Run Video

January 05, 2008
Click below to start video
START VIDEO