Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Running in Korea

This is part of the "Smile Run" club in 2006 after a half marathon in Seoul. I'm in the blue on the right.

Indoor running

From the moment Heather and I decided to take the Ministry's position in Timmins, we knew running would get tough in the winter. I've lived and run in Minneapolis, Madison, Ottawa, and Suwon, Korea. Each place had its difficulties regarding running Korea was the worst, due to lack of running courses and crowding.

But Timmins is very cold in winter--probably 7-10 degrees colder than Minneapolis. So, as in Korea, the treadmill will be of help. We bought ours last week, and today I used it for the first time. Boring? Yes. But you do tend to get in higher quality running while on it.

In Korea, I would do two-a-days; the first run on the dirt soccer field for 30 minutes. Later, I'd go on the treadmill for 30 minutes. It was good for speed, but I don't think I ever got into marathon shape with that routine. I believe you've got to run over 45 minutes or so to start to get any real endurance benefits. I only did that once a week over there, on Saturdays.

But here, I think the tread will be put to more productive use, since there will be lots of chances to run outside if I bundle up. And perhaps the tread will help out with the injuries.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Second Life of Running--Part 4

Like 1973, 2003 was the year where running took over my life for awhile.
As a guitar teacher, finding running time wasn't a problem. So I ran.

I had made some wonderful friends through the Twin Cities ALARC marathon group, and running with them on Saturdays helped push and support me. Initially I felt outclassed by a group of male and female marathoners, all of whom (just about) had run faster marathons than me. But during our runs I felt strong and knew that as I raced more my placements would get higher.

How strange, at the age of 43, to feel yourself physically improving so quickly. Like a 2nd adolescence.

On 2-1-03 I ran a half marathon race in which my time (1:30:20) blew my previous marks out of the water. In Spring, I did a 19:04 5K on a rainy day, and a 39:31 10K. I was training hard and wanted to qualify for Boston in the marathon. Not that I really wanted to go there--I couldn't afford it--simply to do what many aspire to.

On May 28th I ran my 2nd marathon in Rochester, MN. Shooting for under 3:20, I missed big time, running 3:35:20. Still a big PR, but a disappointment. On that race I really bonked at 20 miles. From then on, I used gu.

I was training hard, based on a Runner's World program. But I needed more runners to train with, so I joint the Minnesota Distance Runners Association marathon class. I trained with the "Kenyans," the sub 3:20 group in preparing for the TC marathon Oct. 5th. We did a lot of long 7:20-8:00 paced runs, and I did speedwork and Tempo tuns once a week. All my training at 60 miles/week suggested I'd improve in all ranges.

That summer and fall I did improve. After a 19:06, 19:04, and 19:01 5K, I finally hit an 18:53 in August. My first sub-19 and my first Age Group victory. Later, on a warm day, I ran a half in 1:30:42, which was my first non-PR race for awhile. My best race of the summer was near the end of summer, when it was cooling outside. I ran the same 10K I'd done in 45:32 the year before. Hoping to break 39:00, I hit the 5K in 19:01 and finished in a shocking 38:02. I was ecstatic. It was two days after a 23-mile run and I started a few rows back. Watch time was 37:58.

After 5 20-milers at 7:20-40 pace, I knew I was ready for the TSM.

I went out easy and hit the half feeling great in 1:34:08. In a sense, the whole 2nd half, though tough, was a celebration of the inevitable Boston Qualifier mark. Going up the hill at mile 21, my left periformis pinched a little, so I took the pace down to nearly 8:00, but I still was way ahead of my goal. I finished in 3:13:57, and the party was on! A BQ by 7 minutes. Not bad for someone who couldn't run a 10K at that pace the year before. I was 403rd overall, out of 7,100 finishers.

Sub three was to be the next goal. Three weeks after the marathon, I did a 5K in 18:25. Then the next week I had my first running injury: ITBS. For 8 weeks I could run only 30 miles/week. But I'd surpassed every goal I had.

Now there was the question: how good is good enough?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Second life of Running--part 3

After my first marathon I made a resolution not to regain any weight. So, I kept running. In the fall Minnesota temps it was easier for me to go faster. All summer, I'd run at 9-10 minute pace, with walk breaks. Now it was different.

I started going closer to 8:00/mile pace, and for Halloween I ran my first ever 5K in 20:10. For the first time, I was near the front part of the pack, coming in the top 10%. The converters said I could go 3:20 or so, based on that time. So, I set an early goal of a Boston Qualifier (3:20) for the next season.

Six weeks later, I ran another 5K with sub 20 on my mind. I felt strong during the race and actually passed the first woman on the final stretch, finishing in 19:12.
I was shocked at the improvement. For the first time, I felt like my old running ability was still somewhere deep in my legs, just starting to appear. The 3:58 and the 45:32 10K were no longer big achievements for me. The best was ahead.

Fall Running

Today I hit the road for a 7-miler, and keeping with my resolve to warm-up before running, I was able to go faster.

In the fall, it's so easy for faster running. Today the 7 were at 7:25 pace and I was hardly out of breath. My new mantra:
Faster races require faster training.
I used to time all my runs and it improved my speed and endurance.

My LW and I bought a new car today. Pics upcoming.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Running Faster

Tomorrow Heather and I are getting a treadmill. This will make running through the intemperate Timmins winter a little easier. It only goes up to 10 MPH, which is of little concern to Heather, but for me, it means for VO2 work I'll need to use the incline...oh well.

This brings me to my running resolution. I'm going to time most of my runs and make sure I'm going under 8:00/mile for much of my run.

I used to run at a faster pace, and felt better doing it. While in Korea, it was hard to go fast on the streets. But now that I'm back, I'm going to get into the 7:30-8:00 easy pace. On the tread this will be easy to monitor. It's a matter of health, in part. Slower running means sloppy running in my case.

There are some early spring races I'd like to run, so we'll see if I can get my speed up.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Runner's World post...

I go along with Squirrel on the burn-out issue. I was shocked in high school to see how many of our top runners gave it up after a couple of seasons--myself included.

If a high schooler wants to do marathons, however, I would not say no. Like gymgirl, they probably have more maturity than I did at that age. Seems like a good example for the other kids if the motivation is right.

Also, if the 15-18 year-old kids who are doing 4:20 miles want to do the distance, we might be able to talk about some new home-grown elites the way we used to with Frank Shorter, Bill Rogers, etc.

But the burn-out issue is very real. Most of the marathoners I run with didn't even run in high school. Where are the ones who did run? A lot are doing something else...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Second Life of Running (Part 2)

I am training for my first marathon. It's July 2002. At a pool party on the 4th, several people ask me how much weight I've lost. This surprises me, though the answer is 15 lbs--from 188 to 173 since training started. I don't think it's obvious at that point.

But week after week for the next 15 weeks I continue to lose weight. The only dietary change is to eliminate pizza and tortilla chips. I can feel my ribs for the first time in 25 years. At race time in October my weight is 158, the lowest since I was 15.

Back then I ran too. It was an obsession. A coach told me I had Olympic potential in the Decathlon when I was 13. But I wasn't that good. I did the 100m in 11.3, the long jump at 20'7, the 400 in 52.2 the High jump was 5-10 and the mile in 4:46. The pole vault, hurdles, and weight events I never tried. After my sophomore year, I burned out and got into music. So ended my first running career.

In 2002 though, I don't have grandious goals: just finish the race with some dignity. Maybe in the low 4:00s if possible.

One reason I decided to run then was that my cousin's husband Loren, had cancer and while undergoing chemo, ran the LA marathon. His struggle inspired me. So I am following the Galloway plan, and after running two 10K races I see some improvement. I can now do it in 45:32 after a 47:50 6 weeks earlier. So I make my goal more aggressive: sub-4:00.

The 10K races are a kind of deja vu. The focus of a race and the fatigue and joy of running and finishing are so intense it feels I'd never stopped competing.

Marathon Day: my strategy is to use the walk-run, running 10, walking 30-45 seconds. It's 62 and humid but I have no idea how much temperature affects me in 2002. The race is tough. My girlfriend, J, meets me at the Lake Nakomos half-way mark, and I tell her I'm unsure about holding the 4-hour pace.

But at mile 20, I put on a mini-spurt and stop taking walk breaks. The crowd thickens at mile 23 and I am actually regreting putting "RON" on my shirt. People keep shouting my name and I feel compelled to acknowledge them, though my energy is all but lost. I look at my watch at 24 miles and see that I've got 20 minutes to finish before 4:00.

For awhile, I was passing people like mad after mile 20, but now I'm just filling the ranks; I guess I've reached those at my level. My legs are OK but I have a side stitch so I focus on my cadence. I see the clock which hits 4-hours. I hit the start line ar two minutes and my watch is at 3:57 when I hit the last stretch. I finish at 3:58:20 on my watch. It's over. I did it> I look around me and see people who are young and fit. Some are older and fit. Everyone looks good. It's done and I'll go home I can't wait to tell my students, relatives and friends. I'm proud. Also I'm curious. What will I do next?

Monday, October 15, 2007

It was a half-marathon the day after my DW and I moved here. It was warm and the race was hilly and on a rugged trail the last 8KM, so I was whipped after a 43:02 first 10K and slugged home a 1:35. Here's a pic at the finish. 8-11-08

Second Life in Running

Was I crazy?!!! At the age of 42, I decided to run a race again. I'd been running off and on --mostly on--since I was 11 years-old.

Some teacher friends were training for TCM in Minneapolis, and after a winter where I weighed in at 194, it occured to me that I needed motivation to up the amounts of mileage and reduce the old waist-line. Also, I had started using a sports Walkman and found I could go a lot longer when serenaded with the music station of my choice.

I lived 2.2 miles from Lake Harriet in Minneapolis, and discovered that not only could I make it to the lake, I could make it around the lake... and back if I went slowly. After a few weeks of jogging around the lake(7.1 miles) my weight had already dropped several pounds. More important, I felt motivated to sign-up for the Twin Cities Marathon 2002.

My then-ex and I used to hang out at a bookstore where you could browse while drinking coffee. Since literature and philosophy are too demanding at a coffee bar, I picked up Galloway's Marathon: You Can Do It! book. I didn't care how fast I ran, so it made perfect sence to me to follow his training plan. I'm Greek, and his tales of the early Greek news runners inspired me.

So, after giving up competition at 17, I was back in a training mode, and it felt good, very good.

to be continued...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Last Marathon?

It's possible that I've run my last marathon. At least for a while. Last Saturday, I did a reality check and came to the conclusion that I dread the thought of running Toronto on the 14th. The reason? I'm not in shape to run well. The thought of hitting a 3:18 or 3:29 or whatever alarms me. That's no good.

I mean, the whole point of marathoning is to train, do your best, and feel a sense of accomplishment after finishing. But after my marathon in Seoul last November, I felt cheated by the warm temps, and my 3:28 was an embarassment to me--even though it was a Boston qualifier.

When I came home I figured "now I can train and race and hit 3:00 on the marathon." But then I was injured (by doing speedwork too soon) and had to take a month off from training in May. Now, after training a lot in July, August and September my body feels like a wreck and my life seems out of joint.

So...I'll continue running. But as for marathons, who knows?

I won the 41-50 age in our 5K here on Sunday in 19:07. Not close to my best 5K times but it is nice to race in your home area--and win!

Monday, October 8, 2007


Runner's Rorld discussion topic:

As with a lot of forumites here, I always have a marathon goal during training. But failing to meet that goal sometimes feels like failure, pure and simple.

I'm starting to believe that this attitiude makes training and racing unhealthy both physically and emotionally.

Personally, I have never run a marathon where I didn't think I had a shot at a PR, and don't think I could put myself through 26.2 just for "fun." I admire those who can run dozens of marathons, but I'm not one of them.

The heat-related dissapointments of the past weekend remind me the last three marathons I've run, where weather and/or injuries have left me short of my goals. For me, it's been three years of trying to hit the three-hour mark.

At this point, after trying to train on a poor base that was injury plagued, I've thrown in the towel for the fall. There's been too much pain all summer because of back and hip troubles.

Anyone else ever get sick of the all or none thinking? BQ or bust? 4-hours, 3-hours?

I feel like it can easily become too consuming. Here I am running 60mpw in pain--not major pain, but enough to make me feel ten years older in the mornings.

I know it sounds whiney, but I have a love/hate running thing going now... anyone else?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Feeling Old

I'm signed-up for my 8th marathon next weekend, but at this point I'm not sure it was the right decision.

Since last December I've had a series of injuries that, until June, kept me at low mileage, out of races, and avoiding speedwork. Now I have been back up and running for 12 weeks at normal training mileage(55mpw) but have felt ragged and plagued with back and hip problems all along. Am I getting too old to train to run a fast 26.2?

Living in the far north, it's hard to run with others or get much feedback on training, so burn-out seems to me very possible, both physically and psychologically.

When I ran 3:13 after a year of training, I felt that 3-hours would be easy, since my training was light and speed good. But..I was 43 at the time, and due to jobs and bad weather at a couple of marathons, I've only run one good time since then. Now, I have the time, but the training is increasingly difficult.

On 5Ks-half marathons it doesn't matter as much, but trying to run more at 48 is taking its tole.

Tomorrow is a 5K. It's a good chance to see how well I'm adapting to the training. Also, I can see just how much some of the pains really affect my running.

All along, I known that one can only run so many full marathons at top pace. I have to be honest and decide if it's smart(and healthy) to continue. shorter races.

Friday, October 5, 2007

A discussion opinion:16 and marathoning?

I think those opinions that under 18s shouldn't run marathons are bogus. 16 year-olds can run nearly world-class times in any track event, and they train hard to do it. They also get their bodies pummled in football practice and hockey games and I don't hear anyone objecting to that.

Everyday I hear runners whining about the sad state of American distance running. Back in the 1960s we had HS runners who were great at every event--Jim Ryun, Licquori(sp), Pre, Lindgren, and a bunch of teen-age stars who ran marathons as well. It took 35 years for another runner to come near Ryun's 3:55 mile. Anyway...I digress.

If you are healthy and train for a marathon, it's fine. Not easy, though. Also it's a good example to those sitting at their Play Station eating Ding Dongs and jacking up future health care costs due to incipient cardiac problems.

Many doctors don't like to advise marathons to anyone in my experience: a marathon is a physical ordeal at any age. The others, however, often run themselves.

Go for it...but be smart. Read up. I ran one at 14. Now, 33 years later I'm running more.

Good for you, and good luck.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

My last race in Korea

Last Fall, I finshed marathon #7 in Olympic stadium in Seoul.

T minus 10

It's ten days before the Toronto marathon (10-14) and I'm trying to stay fit while healing. The taper is supposed to be a little calm before the storm; a chance to heal-up those tired legs from the extensive training you've put them through.

For me it's damage control. After being hurt and off my running feet in April, my conditioning was lousy. In essence, I had to start from scatch. So I did. Now, after 12 weeks where I went from 30 miles a week to 65, my body feels beat up and in need of some rest.

Yesterday we had a wind storm that blew the roof off our apartment...and I saw it. I was starting a run, felt a 70mph gust and decided to take a rest day. I turned around, felt a pounding gust and saw our roof lifted like a napkin, over the top of the building and crash into the parking lot in a million pieces. The yellow foam insulation is covering the lawn like large fallen leaves. I went 8.5 miles after my rest day and still feel stale. I never feel rested from tapering until race day. On Saturday there's a 5K here. In Timmins, you race when there's a race. We're 4 hours from any other city big enough to host a race.

Maybe I can win my division!