Archive for November, 2011

A Tragedy of a Run and My Pal Al.

Posted: November 28, 2011 by Roberts in Injuries, Running Log
Tags: , , ,

Distance: 9.72 Miles
Pace: 10’39” .

This was an exciting run, to say the least. It started late, but not too late.  My plan was to run eleven miles. As you can see from the statistics above, that didn’t happen. The entire run felt great, right up until the end.  No question about it, cars with high beams were not my friends on this night.  This time it was personal.

OK, maybe I’m being a bit dramatic, but it did end my run for the night.

My pace was uniform, decent for a long run, and other than the occasional car turning on their high beams, it was a good run. With the winter setting in, night has been coming earlier and earlier, and it always surprises me just how early it is getting dark.  I watched night fall about one-third of the way through my “afternoon” run.

On the last stretch home, the road is without street lights or sidewalks.  This is the part of my run that has always worried me the most.  The only saving grace is it is only one and three-quarter miles, straight away.  Normally this is a quiet road, with very little traffic.  However, this time my biggest fear about nighttime running came true.

I could see a car approaching me for quite a while before he reached me.  He should have been able to see me too, and apparently he did, because he turned on his high beams.  This, of course, turned off my night vision.  I stepped into the underbrush to allow him to pass.  When I returned to the road, I stepped right into a pothole that I could no longer see, twisted my ankle, and fell on the ground.  Using my right hand, I narrowly avoided taking a face plant into the concrete.  I was crouched down, unable to move, on a dark road.  To make matters worse, another car was quickly approaching from the same direction as the previous one had.  I don’t think he saw me, since I was so low to the ground.  I crawled off the road slowly, and the car passed by.

Finally, luck was with me.  Shortly after my fall, a car pulled up from behind to see if I was ok.  He had seen me fall and wanted to know if I needed a ride.  His name was Al, and he was heading out to get some Chinese food.  He saved me from the long hobble home by driving me the last mile and a half.  I don’t know if I would have made it otherwise.

When I got home, I realized I had lost one of the water bottles that fits into my hydration belt, as well as my $70 heart monitor.  Talk about adding insult to injury – literally!  At the end of the day, I am thankful that a stranger name Al stopped by and picked me up.  I don’t know what makes me angrier – losing my heart monitor, or not completing my run.

Update: On Monday morning I drove by the spot where I tripped and found both the bottle and heart monitor.

Next Run: 7 Miles (Tuesday)
Next Workout: P90X (Disc 09 & Disc 12) (Wednesday)
Next Race: Burlington Race for the Hungry 5K



Highbeams, Who Needs Them?

Posted: November 26, 2011 by Roberts in P90X, Running Log, Workouts
Tags: , , ,

Distance: 7.14 Miles
Pace: 10’42”

My scheduled run did not occur, once again, last night. Thanksgiving, a day of family and feasts, got in the way; that, and falling asleep on the couch. Yet again, everything is being pushed back.  So today, Friday, I ran seven miles.  Saturday will be intense, with three sessions of P90X just to get me back on track.  I’m scheduled to run eleven miles on Sunday.  So much distance, so little time.

My pace today was slow even with the day of rest and turkey. I am disappointed in my results; I should have pushed harder. Recently I heard on a video, “if you can still get back up, you didn’t push hard enough.”  So I am clearly not pushing hard enough, because I can still walk.

I need to incorporate speed work into my routine. With some practice, I hope that my pace will increase and that I will get these runs done faster. The biggest downside I have found to this sport is time. If the miles keep increasing, soon I won’t have time to sleep; I only get five hours as it is.  Looking over the remaining eight weeks, and if I keep the same pace, I will be running until midnight every other night.  Mind you, I like the increased miles and calorie burn, but time is very valuable to me.  I guess my sacrifice is sleep.

While clicking away on other blogs, I found a great clip:

It is truly amazing what an elite runner like Ryan Hall is capable of accomplishing.  The mind boggling fact of the video is that he maintains that pace for the entire marathon.  It also makes for an interesting advertisement.

I only have one observation from this run: I have noticed that some people feel the need to turn their high beams on when I am running towards them.  I’m not sure why.  I see them just fine with their normal headlights.  Can you not see the six foot three guy running along the sidewalk towards you?  Do you need to flood the street with light in order to see me?  Do you need to blind me, so I smack into low hanging, leafless branches?  That makes them essentially switches cutting me across the face.  Maybe I should thank them for adding some sense of danger to my runs.

There is only one week left until my first race.  The goal is to simply learn the etiquette of it.  I need to learn how to run in a group before I can hope to run a longer race.

Next Run: 11 Miles (Sunday)
Next Workout: P90X (Disc 08, 10, 12) (Saturday)
Next Race: Burlington Race for the Hungry 5K


Rain Rain Don’t Go Away

Posted: November 22, 2011 by Roberts in P90X, Running Log, Workouts
Tags: , , ,
Distance:  6.3 Miles
Pace:  10’20”

Sunday was to have been my make up day.  It wasn’t.  I needed to complete 10 miles and an hour and a half of Yoga X.   All through that day I was sore, and my start time kept being pushed back.  Eventually it got to a point where I could not safely run the route since it would get too dark and there are no street lights. I decided to allow my body the time to heal and avoid being hit by a car.  I also figured Yoga should help stretch the muscles and help the recovery process.

I had not had a break from running for weeks. I needed it.  The yoga was still no break but it felt great in a weird, exhausting kind of way.  Of course this blog is not about the miles I didn’t log, but the ones I did.

Fast forwarding to Tuesday.  I had a six mile run scheduled.  The perfect excuse not to run was there – a cold downpour. I could easily have said, “it isn’t safe” or “I don’t want to get sick before Thanksgiving.”  But I had already run in a sleet storm, so rain couldn’t stop me.  It wasn’t cold enough to use my waterproof jacket, just the resistant jacket. Enough stalling, it was time to hit the road.  During my run I found that the harder the rain came down, the faster I ran.  This is what I ran for, the insanity of it all.  Dancing between the rain drops, avoiding the lake-like puddles, and leaping over the waterfall driveways was the world I wanted to explore over and over.

When the rains slowed down, the wind picked up.  The cold drained my muscles and sapped my strength.  My pace suffered, and in crept doubts. I found myself wishing for the bad weather to intensify.  The rains came and went, and came back again. By the time I got home, I was soaked from head to toe.

Why do I enjoy the insane conditions more than a relaxing fall run?  It is a litmus test of my own sanity.

Next Run: 3 Miles
Next Workout:  P90X (Disc 09 & Disc 12) (Saturday)
Next Race: Burlington Race for the Hungry 5K


Knees of Fire!

Posted: November 20, 2011 by Roberts in Running Log
Tags: , , , , ,
Distance: 7.07 Miles

Now the winter running has begun.  The temperature has dropped below thirty-five degrees.  The jacket has been tested, the podcast is loaded, and the watch is charged, it is time for a run.  What more can you want?  Sleep.  The week had been long and exhausting.  My muscles were cold, and no matter what stretches I did, they would not warm up.  Something was not right for the day, and for my body.

The watch synchronized with the satellites at an amazing speed.  The wind whipping at my face left it cold and frigid.  I watched the sunset’s last rays peek through the trees and it was now time to run.  This is a “Rest Week,” and the level of difficulty is harder than the first week.  Why even call it a rest week?  It should be called, “Slightly less hard week.”  Or it could be called, “Humiliation week, humiliating since we tell you it is a rest week and make you feel pathetic for hurting during it.”  I guess those titles are all too long.  The title of “Rest Week” will suffice, and only make you feel bad when you discover the truth of it.  My body has not had time to recover at all.  I have caught myself asking, “How can a muscle be sore when I didn’t even know it existed?” or “How can I be sore there?”  I need to keep pushing, forget the pain…It is just taking so long.  When will the time come that a ten-mile run is nothing?  Not soon enough.  Some days you just want to hit fast forward.

About two miles in, my foot falls got sloppy.  I started having too many heel strikes, the bounce was out of my step, and I wasn’t getting warm enough to fight off the cold.  By mile three, my knees were on fire.  It was a pain I had not felt since my early days.  The run was only seven miles,  and the last four were a trial.  They tested my will to finished this experiment in health.  During the last part of the run, my thoughts centered on questioning every step I took.  Eventually I could no longer hear the podcast, only my doubts.  Finally, I made it home.  The pace was terrible.  The run was terrible.

I have had too many of these runs in a row now.  I have a ten-mile run planned for Sunday.  I am dreading it.  Why?  I have done them before.  Let’s hope the Kenpo tomorrow doesn’t make me too sore.

My first race is on December 3rd.  It is coming up in just a couple of weeks.  Meanwhile, Thanksgiving, the Day of Gluttony, sits smack dab between them.  Why do I do this to myself?  Enough of that kind of talk.  I have come so far from where I started. 

Next Run: 10 Miles (Sunday)
Next Workout:  P90X (Disc 06) (Saturday)
Next Race: Burlington Race for the Hungry 5K


Never Disappoint Yourself

Posted: November 17, 2011 by Roberts in P90X, Running Log, Workouts
Tags: , , , , ,
Distance: 3.2 Miles

Yes, I skipped a day again.  I went out of town and I could not squeeze in the two hours needed for the workout with all the meetings.  I made it up the next day, but now another session is pushed back.  Everything is now pushed back by a day and will be settled out by Sunday.  Unless I push hard and log in 17 miles over two days. I could have skipped the day entirely.  And who would know?  Me, that’s who.  Never disappoint yourself. You should be your hardest critic. Often enough, we aren’t. In my line of work I have seen so many talented people waste their abilities on excuses. They hide from me behind claims that “I’m sick,” “It’s too hard,” or “Times have changed.” None of it is true. At some point, everyone needs to look at themselves and say “Is this me? Is this how I want people to think of me?” Our actions speak to our character.

Running a 5k was nice.  I stayed below a 10’00” pace easily.  Since I had a day gap from the last run and no need to last six plus miles, there was no need to pace myself.  I just enjoyed it. I found a rhythm and added some bounce in my step for fun. Landmarks became finish lines for sprints and beats in the music became excuses to shadow box. It was just plain fun. With the air was crisp and mood good, it was perfect for an evening run.

During my business trip I found time to talk to the guy that got me using Nike Plus in the first place, Mike S.  About a year ago I had just gotten into running.  I was spending my time on a treadmill and looked at running as exercise or even a necessary evil, not a passtime.  Mike told me about Nike Plus and how he was using it. At that point I was game for anything to make the running seem marginally better.

At that time Nike Plus was only a plug-in device for your iPod.  It tracked your information and was downloadable through iTunes.  The fact that it was cheap helped too.  I am a data freak and once I got into it, there was no turning back.  Tracking my pace and distance became almost a borderline obsession.  Then Nike added the heart rate monitor! Eventually I switched to the Nike Plus GPS watch. The rest is history (or at least when it comes to data).

I have to thank Mike, because without Nike Plus my running career may never have gotten started.  If you want to see my thoughts on the watch, check out my review. So thanks, Mike.

I ended my run with Yoga X from P90X.  It is ninety minutes of yoga.  I have always thought of yoga as merely advanced stretching.  I freely admit now, I was wrong – very, very wrong. It is much more than weird poses and stretching.  There are many stances I could barely hold, or not hold at all.  Once the twelve weeks are over, I hope to have the talent to complete this session perfectly.  If so, I will be in amazing shape.

Next Run: 7 Miles (Friday)
Next Workout:  P90X (Disc 06) (Saturday)
Next Race: Burlington Race for the Hungry 5K


Some Times We Need Some Inspiration

Posted: November 15, 2011 by Roberts in Running Log
Tags: , , ,
Distance: 6.07 Miles

The timing for this run was not ideal.  I was still sore from Sunday’s ten miles.  On top of that excuse, I needed to get out the door and drive two and half hours north.  Driving tired and late at night would be a bad idea.  I have a business conference over the next two days.  If I didn’t get up there Tuesday, I would have to drive in rush hour traffic through New York on Wednesday morning.  That was not going to happen.  I contemplated not running.  To kill time and let the excuses marinate, I started just flipping through youtube waiting for my wife and kids to get home.  After clicking away, I found an inspirational video.

I had not seen this footage of the ’92 Olympics in a long time.  Derek Redmond’s Olympic run was the last of his career.  It was all over during the run that should have been the culmination of a lifetime of work and training.  His hamstring was torn and he fell to his knees with no way to finish.  He stood up with what little power he had left and attempted to hobble to the finish line.  Even when he mentally knew it was over, he finished the race with the assistance of his father.  Though officially disqualified, he received a standing ovation from the crowd.  Most would have given up, laid down and allowed themselves to get carried away in a stretcher.  It was a rare display of what the human spirit can accomplish.  The mind can overcome the pain of the body.  After tearing his hamstring, his doctor told he would never run nor play a professional sport again. However, he eventually played professional basketball for Great Britain.  How can I whine about a little soreness, when people like Derek exist?  Some times we need an inspiration from others to keep us going.  Where do you get your inspiration when you need an extra boost?

Next Run: 3 Miles (Wednesday)
Next Workout:  P90X (Disc 04) (Wednesday)
Next Race: Burlington Race for the Hungry 5K


A Pain in the A$$ Run

Posted: November 13, 2011 by Roberts in P90X, Running Log, Workouts
Tags: , , ,
Distance: 10.01 Miles

Today was the final make up day – a ten mile run plus two P90X workouts.  With these behind me, I will be back on track.  Before hitting the street, I was already sore.  It wasn’t just the thought of a run and two workouts ahead of me, I was actually sore from  the P90X workout, Core Synergistic, which kicked my butt yesterday.  It fact, that was the most sore part of my body.  Running sore is no treat.  Any soreness below the waist is only made worse by the run.  Of course, knowing and hoping are not the same thing.  I figured if I could last long enough, endorphins should kick in and wash away the pain.  Well, that was the plan at least.  The best laid plans…never work.

Around mile three I was finally distracted from soreness by a podcast.  Distraction from soreness is not the same from having no soreness.  Did I make the right choice to get out there?  My pace was not below ten minutes, and the run was a struggle.  I don’t want to over train.  At the same time, I don’t want to give myself an excuse not to run.  Anyone who has “tried” to run, does not need more excuses to not run.  One of my biggest fears is not that I will hurt myself, it is that I will quit.  If I quit, I’ll fall back into my old habits.  The weight and the gut will return with a vengeance and take no prisoners.  At the end of the day, quitting is a choice.  It is a choice that can spiral out of control.  It starts as, “maybe I’ll skip this run,” or “I’ve had a long day, I’ll do it tomorrow.”  If you say it too many times the next thought is, “can I still run?”

To get me through it, I stick to the plan.  It is twelve weeks long, and it must be followed.  Going on a business trip?  Make it work.  If you don’t allow yourself the option to give excuses, you won’t have any.

What keeps you going?

Next Run: 6 Miles (Tuesday)
Next Workout:  P90X (Disc 04) (Wednesday)
Next Race: Burlington Race for the Hungry 5K


The first three weeks finish tomorrow.  They went well.  Only twice did I have to postpone (not cancel) a workout.  The strength training is going well.  I can feel my core, back, abs and arms getting stronger.  I have not lost any weight however.  I need to push myself even harder than before if I want to see better progress.

It is time to post the next three.  Week 4 is called a Rest Week.  I’ll only be logging in 80 miles and and completing a 5k!  What kind of Rest Week is that?  I guess since the P90X portion is Yoga and Kenpo that makes it a rest week.  Then again…it will be EXTREME!

The point of P90X is muscle confusion.  I am looking forward to the mix up.  Not only will it confuse my muscles, it will keep me entertained and not bored with the sessions.

Date Distance P90X
11/15/2011 6
11/16/2011 3 Yoga X – Disc 04
11/17/2011 7
11/18/2011 0 Kenpo X – Disc 06
11/19/2011 10
11/20/2011 0 Yoga X – Disc 04
11/21/2011 Rest Day
11/22/2011 6
11/23/2011 3 Chest, Shoulders & Triceps – Disc 09 / Ab Ripper X – Disc
11/24/2011 7
11/25/2011 0 Core Synergistrics – Disc
11/26/2011 11
11/27/2011 0 Back & Biceps – Disc 10 / Ab Ripper X – Disc 12
11/28/2011 Rest Day
11/29/2011 7
11/30/2011 3 Chest, Shoulders & Triceps – Disc 09 / Ab Ripper X – Disc
12/1/2011 7
12/2/2011 0 Core Synergistrics – Disc
12/3/2011 5k Race Back & Biceps – Disc 10 / Ab Ripper X – Disc 12
12/4/2011 10.2
12/5/2011 Rest Day

Running the Lacuna Coil

Posted: November 11, 2011 by Roberts in Running Log
Tags: , , ,
Distance: 6.1 Miles

This run was originally scheduled for Thursday.  When it came time to run, I was dressed and ready.  Suddenly, I could not bring myself to do it.  I knew that if I hit the road, my pace would be bad, I would hate the run, and I would question the entire way why was I doing this to myself.  It was one of those days.  I made a decision, I would postpone the run until Friday.  Of course on Friday I would get home later and I was scheduled for a P90X workout.  Not only did I need to postpone my run, I needed to push everything back by a day and double up on Sunday coming up.  Was that a better plan than just going out for the six miles?  Yes.  I slept for 8 hours immediately after making that decision, which is very rare for me these days…and it was glorious!

Cover of
Cover of Shallow Life

For the 6 milers I choose not to listen to a podcast.  Today I needed some upbeat music to help my pace.  The random choice today, Lacuna Coil and their album, Shallow Life.  I turned it up and hit the road.  As a whole, the album is decent.  It is better than that, it was good.  For those that don’t know, Lacuna Coil is an Italian gothic metal band.  Shallow Life is their 2008 album.  They are similar to Evanescence.  It played well for the run.  The beat kept me moving and it wasn’t distracting.  I still need to keep myself motivated during some runs.  I still find myself questioning why I put myself through this for the first two miles.  And even after the first two, you can see from my pace that it wasn’t the best run.

During the last mile of my run, I fell into a groove.  It was a strange sensation.  My sight began to tunnel.  The world blurred save the road ahead.  Each footfall landed softly, and each stride had a slight bounce.  I was watching someone else run.  The only disruption came from sharp turns, and then for only a moment.  The pace of my last mile was almost an entire minute faster than the other five.  If I can harness that rhythm from the beginning, I can get my pace consistently under ten minutes, and one day, even south of nine.

The only downside fo finding the groove was that I was left alone with my thoughts.  Some of the thoughts were interesting, and some worrisome.  First I passed a house that had a Christmas tree already set up and decorated in the front window.  A Christmas tree?  So many stores are already getting ready for the Christmas season, but people too?  What about Thanksgiving?  We just had Halloween.  Are stores so desperate to get people to spend that they want to remind people to buy their holiday gifts now and not wait?  Can’t we just hold off for once?  Target is opening their doors at Midnight on Black Friday.  They say it is to protect their customers.  It is to be the first ones to open.  Call me a purist, but I don’t like to even think about Christmas until the 4 am Black Friday sales after Thanksgiving.

It has now been six years since I moved to New Jersey.  This is now the longest I have lived in one place without moving.  My wanderlust  is kicking into high gear.  Fighting the distraction is a daily battle.  Growing up I moved every three to five years.  And now it has been six.  It is an urge that is hard to explain.  Routine becomes the enemy.  The constant moving gave me to skill set to adapt rapidly with people and my surroundings.  It seems this wanderlust is the cost.  How do I turn this weakness into a strength?  Maybe I should start traveling to races.

Next Run: 10 Miles (Sunday)
Next Workout:  P90X (Disc 08) (Saturday)
Next Race: Burlington Race for the Hungry 5K


Distance: 6.08 Miles

It was an interesting run.  My legs have not fully recovered from this weekend’s run.  They were still stiff.  For the run I choose to listen to  the Mortal Kombat movie soundtrack.  It is an oldie but a goodie.

While waiting for the satellites to find me, I listened to the first track, A Taste of Things to Come.  It would be a lie if I said it didn’t start to psych me up.  Before the 49 second song had finished, the watch was synched up and I was off.

Mortal Kombat (soundtrack)
Image via Wikipedia

Each track played in order, one by one.  Goodbye, Juke-Joint Jezebel, Unlearn, Control, and then Halcyon + On + On by Orbital…

With the soft melody of Orbital playing in my ears, I reflected back to a couple days ago.  Anne, my mother-in-law, recently sent me an article from the NY Times, The Once and Future Way to Run.  It discusses the evolution of the runner and how we lost our way.  It touches on how ancient man once hunted merely by running down its prey; not to ambush it, but to bring it to the point of exhaustion.  Mankind was at one time built to run, and run great distances.  Now?  Well, now we are suffering from an epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and numerous other maladies from our poor health.  I raced under the same sky our ancestors chased their prey under.  Well, not the same sky.  The stars have shifted some in the thousands of years.  The air is filled with more pollutants.  The light of the stars is drowned out by the constant lights of civilization, even on our suburban street.  How the world has changed in a few thousand years.

In our quest is to protect ourselves from the world around us, we have only made ourselves more susceptible to it.  Christopher Mc Dougall, author of the article, touched on the fact.  Take the shoe, for example.  As we find ways to prevent ankle, knee, and joint damage, we only find ourselves more prone to injury.  How many amateur runners do you know who get shin splints just from running their first couple times?  What should be normal muscle strength is lacking.  I was the same way.  Pro runners, and innumerable articles will tell you not to land on your heel, yet most still do.  I still run wrong.  How could we allow ourselves to be so weak?  The ability to run a few miles should not be abnormal.  We as a species are designed to run.  It is amazing what your body is capable of adapting to.  If asked if I could run ten miles last year, I would have said no.  Now, of course I can.  Why not more?  Do not allow yourself to be weak.  Find your strength.

My four-year old daughter can run and sprint around the hardwood floors, never stopping.  She doesn’t tire, or complain of pain, and can take corners around the kitchen island without issue.  The idea of such play would tire others out.  When do we lose that as we grow?  I am trying to find what was lost.  Every time I place one foot in front of the other, it draws me closer to that what was lost.  I challenge all who read this to find that feeling and strength for yourself.  It is there.  It is waiting.  Now go find it.

Next Run: 2 Miles (Wednesday)
Next Workout:  P90X (Disc 01 & Disc 12) (Wednesday)
Next Race: Burlington Race for the Hungry 5K