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Monday, December 31, 2007

Penance Run

Sunny but cold windy day. I got out around 10 am and drifted up the railroad tracks. I cut over to the streets and came back to the college doing loops around and on the track. I kept the pace as slow as possible with my HR in the 130's the whole way. It was 70 minutes of jogging. I guess you could call it a penance run and I am not religious.

I have this cycle I seem to go through over and over again.

Run slowly>>>>>Get faster>>>>>Do something stupid>>>>>Bonk>>>>>Penance Runs

On other fronts: Jake is injured which is a rare event. The hills that we have been running might have done it but he also had drifted back into this "I want to run every day because I love it" phase. I vant to run...

My friend Jim is mired in post the marathon recovery blues (Hi Jim!). He is finding out the longer term price one pays when one tops off their great racing season by just running that little old thing called a marathon. It was a Bridge too Far. Plus he can't stop trying to validate himself through racing. Instead of taking a good 30 days off from any hard running he raced twice, extending the damage.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sunday Morning

I got to bed after midnight. I fell asleep over my book on the couch and woke up feeling sluggish and ready for the real thing. I patted Amber good night and slipped into the bedroom. Sue was curled up and buried deep in her blankets. I woke up several times during the night but fell right back off to sleep. Finally I got up at just before 7 AM and made coffee. My back was sore. I am beginning to believe this is caused more by my laptop than the running. Of course that is another story.

On running: I know I falling back to the normal. My life isn't really set up for anything more. 25-35 miles per week. A now and then AT run. Maybe a weekly 70% 4 or 5 miler and a sometimes a 75% run. Just ways of seeing if I am getting faster. Faster than last week or last month. My goal will be (gulp) to improve or maintain my age grading. Every other attempt to improve has caused me to bonk. I ran under 20 minutes for Valle Vista in 2002 just before I turned 57 and I was very happy about that performance. I may set that as the standard. That same goal would be equal to a 21:27 at age 63.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

5 miles@70% in 43:18

I slept over 8 hours last night. I finally woke up around 8 am totally missing the club workout. I still got over to Carrows for breakfast. I just figured I would run later on. I knew that I needed the rest more than the run.

I finally got out on the road around noon and ran a 5 mile 70% run. I did 43:18 which was better than I thought I would do given my recent training. That nagging "you are getting run down" cough I have had on and off for the past week was telling me that like it or not, I was over-training. On my old quarter mile shorter course this would have been around 41:08 which is marginal. But at least it another starting point and it tells me that what I was doing (the 1200's) were beating me up more than they were making me stronger.

So the good news. My legs generally never felt tired during any of my runs over the past 4-6 weeks. It was the links that were going. The achilles and knee.

I am re-learning the old lesson. In my case, speed and strength needs to come to me. I can't go to it. When I can run the 5 miler in 40-41 minutes at 70% (if ever) then I will simply be faster overall.

Friday, December 28, 2007


Sleep was sub par last night. I made two mistakes. First I stayed up on my computer until about 11 pm and then continued to read The Terror by Dan Simmons. The book is consuming me. It won't just let me go to sleep. I finally had a couple of shot of Baily's and fell asleep around 12:30.

I didn't just bounce up out of bed and go run but hung out until around 10 AM before going out for a lazy 50 minute low HR jog. It was around 40 degrees and the sky was the color of slate. No wind though so it wasn't too bad. I went over to the college by a longish route and ran on the track for several laps before heading back home. The place was deserted.

Knee and achilles felt ok.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

100 minutes

Met Jake at Forbes Mill at 8 AM. We did a double loop he designed with nice hills in the middle. I felt really good even though it was cold and windy over parts of the course. The sun just doesn't reach enough of the trails at this time of day to warm you up. I worked at keeping my HR in the 130's and 140's coming through in 47 minutes. But during the second loop my HR began to climb and I had to slow down to stay at or under 150. I guess my body was just tired even though I felt decent. However, I paid attention to the HRM Gods and played along. Strangely I came by the second loop as quickly as I had run the first loop. I sneaked back up the trail for another 6 minutes getting my 100 minutes.

Jake ran 85 minutes. He began to tire during the second loop and peeled off to head back to the parking lot by the old mill.

Breakfast afterwards. Restaurant crowded. A guy who reminded me of Buffalo Bill sat nearby. Hat, boots, goatee, the works.

Monday, December 24, 2007

75 minutes Easy

Stayed up late last night. We had a dinner party at our house and our guests didn't leave until after 10 pm (late for old folks). I slept in until 7:30 this morning (once again, late for old folks).

I finally got out for a run around noon and stayed out for 75 minutes with my HR mostly in the low to mid 130's. The sun had come out and there was a 5-10 mph wind blowing in my face at various points of the run. I ran over to De Anza and did endless loops around the campus and the track skirting some young sprinters who were there with a coach.

Both the knee and achilles felt OK. I stepped on the scale today and saw 140 so maybe the 144 I saw the other day was just an anomaly. I still plan to watch it.

I realize that easy days (my specialty) have to be just that.

Easy. It's one of the secrets of running old.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

7 x 1200@WVC

It was very cold this morning. Temps dropped down into the low 30's. I went over to the track at WVC and warmed up for 20 minutes.It was cold enough that the inside of my nose was stinging. I guess the key was not to breath in out.Needless to say I was fully decked out. Tights, double gloves, ski cap...The works.

Anyway, while the club ran Valle Vista I went down to the track (it is really cold down there) and found that I owned it. Not a single other runner was there.

The planned workout was 7 x 1200 at 75% of max. I started out keeping the early reps down in the high 140's and low 150's and then gradually worked my way up to 75%. My overall average was 5:57 per 1200 with the first and last rep being the slowest. The continuing good news was the quick return of my HR during the 80 second walk in between reps. It usually dropped down under 120 pretty quickly.

I can't say that the workout was a tiring one. I felt decent throughout. The bigger problem was the cold weather which just made it hard mentally to get into the swing of things. Also I ran the complete workout alone. Sometimes just having someone else on the track, even if they are running ahead of you, helps.

Afterwards I jogged an easy 10 minutes. Went to breakfast.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Oddly Quiet

The rains swept out of the Bay Area yesterday and the cold weather returned. I got out at around 9 AM and ran 60 minutes all at an easy recovery pace. I was dressed for it. Tights, double tops, double gloves and ski cap. I ran in my brand new white Supernova's. They fit like slippers. The college was almost deserted because school was out. There was a men's soccer team working out next to the track but otherwise it was oddly quiet. I felt recovered from Wednesday's long run but haven't decided whether I will do the 1200's tomorrow or Sunday.

My training seems to be back on track (no pun intended) but I am up a few pounds more than I was last week. I will have to take a siege mentality to this losing weight. Right now I am just trying to get back to 140. It would be much easier if I just gained height. It should bother me more but I have to put it in perspective. I will lose the weight. It's a nuisance. I just hate dieting. It's balancing the whole thing. Last week I deficited too much calorie-wise. This time I have to find the middle.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Lucked Out For 95 minutes

Originally it was supposed to rain this morning so Jake and switched our Wednesday Tempo Interval to a long run in the hills and trails above Los Gatos. My achilles had been feeling good enough to give it a try.

It turned out to be sunny and cold with the rain pushed out to later in the day. We took off up the trail to the dam, ran the dam and then across the same dam (dam..dam) and the cut left up the Jones trail. My achilles held out but left lower back was bothering me. Coincidentally, Jake's back was bothering him too and strangely for both of us, on the uphills. We found that walk/running the uphills worked better for us and as a result we ran faster on the flats and downhills. My HR stayed low though so I realized happily that cutting back on training and eating a bit more (duh) was helping me run better. In fact I felt great but Jake felt tired from remodeling his house.

We ran into Christine Kennedy coming back across the dam. The picture above is the exact spot we ran into each other. She is getting ready for her next assualt on the Olympic Trials qualifying time of 2:47. She is thinking Boston even though she has been invited to Rock and Roll in Arizona in January. It's fast course but she doesn't feel she would be ready. Boston is a mixed bag but as long as it's not one of those rare hot days and she gets an elite start, she should run well.

By the time we arrived back at Forbes Mill it was just a tad under 93 minutes so I kept going up the trail for a minute before turning around and coming back to the gate. That made it 95 minutes even.

Afterwards we walked up to Main Street and had a big breakfast.

38 minutes

The rains came and finally I had to run in it. 38 soaking minutes at a very easy pace yesterday morning. No complaints though. It warmed up a bit and the wind wasn't too bad. No knee pain on the left side and no achilles problems on the right. I have been feeling a bit run down since the weekend but I think it's the diet and not the workouts. I have decided to back off slightly on the calories but less so than originally planned. If I lose 5 pounds over 6 months that is fine. Right now feeling decent during the workouts is more important.

Adjust, adjust, adjust.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Mission Rock 5K

I was slightly sleep deprived when I rolled out of the sack at 6:15 this morning. Cold and colder. DARK! Staggered into the kitchen and made coffee and gradually warmed up. 12 year old Golden, Amber always bouncing up at moments notice. I let her out and cradled my silverine, Starbucks mug.

About an hour later I got in the car and drove up to Shel's in Foster City. He drove the rest of the way up to the very low key Dolphin Club, Mission Rock 5K start-finish area. So where is Mission Rock. Couldn't see it. After signing up I went out and jogged (and I do mean jogged) for 20 minutes. The race itself was OK because I kept the pace slow and ran with Mort and Shel. It was an out and back course. On the return trip I looked behind me and saw very few runners.

The runners are slow and they are me.

Shel pulled ahead and Mort and I finished in a virtual tie. I hated getting up that early but have to admit that once I was out there, I had a good time. It's just that my easy, no pain pace is getting slower and slower. We were around 28 minutes start to finish. My legs felt fine but then the effort was glacial.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Double Easy

I ran a double workout today. I hit 34 minutes this morning in cool conditions and another 36 minutes in the mid afternoon. I short sleeved it for the second workout.It was in the 50's but almost balmy when I was running in the sunlight. I decided not to use the HRM and just go by feel and the stopwatch but I still kept it easy for both runs.

My legs felt recovered from Wednesday's workout. Of course seeing the chiropractor and getting a massage yesterday helped too.

Ran into Masood at work today. He looked at me like he had seen a ghost. He was very friendly but was surprised to see that I was still around. Can't say I blame him.

"Are you still here?" he asked. Weren't you gone he probably thought. I thought, damn, I am best when not noticed. I couldn't hide this time. I was right out there and for a moment it was just the two of us. Achilles and hector meeting outside the Scaean Gate. The walls of Troy looming to each side.

"Think utility infielder," I answered. Every now and then I get called up. He smiled and then allowed himself to get sucked back into his meeting.

As I walked out I was remembering that I could have saved the place but that was no longer on the table much to my own miscalculations as any ones.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

6 x 1200

Today was one of my several weekly BIG days. The weather was cold (30's) and alternately overcast and sunny. I met Jake at WVC and we warmed up for about 2.5 miles before heading down to the track for our workout. The goal was to run 6 x 1200 meters and not exceed 75% of max. 100 meter job/walk in between each rep. Jake led me out and I stayed with him as long as I could before I finally began to max out and had to hold the pace rather than pick it up. Jake, who was fresh last week was making that breathing sound he does when he is tired (he ran and did elliptical on Tuesday and delayed his recovery). He later told me he could have quit at 4 but hung in there. I didn't focus on timing and just played the effort and run by feeling game. Under an 8 minute pace is my best guess. Maybe even 7:50 on some of them. At this point it really didn't make a difference because I am still loading* the workout. Jake and I jogged around campus afterwards for another 1.5 miles. I figure the whole workout was close to 9 miles.

My right achilles held up. No problems. I took out the extra inserts. They were causing back problems. I wore my knee strap and that kept things under control on the left side. I am starting to look like Ron Nelson. He had so many braces and straps on his legs that he once told me that if he didn't wear them, he would come apart.

* Loading: Adding distance or pace to an existing workout

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Running "Old"

I wake up a few minutes before the alarm goes off. I swing out of bed to start turn on the heat and get the coffee going. My wife snores softly still burrowed down deep in sleep-ville. As I stand up I can feel my back. It's tightened up over the night. My right achilles has been bothering me so I inserted extra lifts in each shoe during my 90 minute run yesterday. Now I pay the price. Not for the 90 minutes but for the two inserts. It throws my stride off just a nano-nth but enough to cause back problems. My achilles feels better and is only slightly tight. My left knee is mildly sore. That has been ongoing for the past month.

As I stagger into the kitchen I bump against the table and I feel a sharp pain shoot up from my hips.

I keep moving. The pain passes. I am already thinking Advil.

There is one thing I know. I ran yesterday and I will run tomorrow. This is what it is to run old. I know that. I am 62 and it's not going to get better unless I stop.

Somewhere during the thousands of miles I have run since 1968, my 30 year, 60,000 mile warranty expired.

You're on your own now.

That was about 25 to 30,000 miles ago.

It's like another old runner said to me. It's not what it used to be but I am not ready to give it up.

I get that.

I am running out of secrets though. Those little adjustments that I have made that have kept me running way beyond most of my peers from the old days when we were all fast and capable of running day after day, 8, 10, 12, 15 miles a day. I ran 60-70 miles per week. Sometimes more. Others ran up to that magic barrier.

One hundred miles a week.

These days I run the same. 60 to 70 miles but it's over two weeks and if I am really beat, it may take me 3 weeks.

A friend of mine said mentioned recently that he could no longer break 26 minutes for 5K. I asked him how much he ran in a week. This to a guy who often run 70-80 miles per week. Turns out he ran 40-45 minutes 3 times a week and one day he ran for a half hour. Maybe 15-18 miles a week. He used to do that for a long run on Sundays back in the day.

You won't break 26 minutes on 15 miles a week, I said. You need to run more. Maybe 25-30 a week and even then you might not do it. I could see that look on his face. He was comfortable doing what he did. He came up with a dozen reason why he could no longer run that many miles.

25-30 miles per week. Nada. Nothing in the old days.

"Then just accept that you're going to be slower," I said to him dispassionately. "Let it go."

We were driving to a race up in the city. A 5K. The car got quiet. We were lost in the past. We were going to run a version of the course where once, in May of 1979, we had both PR'd. But back then we had been young and strong. Now we were just lucky to still be running.

Old legs.

Hard to explain. You either have young legs or old legs. Depends less on age and more on how many pure miles you had on your legs. My friend and I had plenty. We weren't used up but we are towards the end of the line. Oh we can still run but getting faster was probably no longer an option. Not just running as fast as we had been in 1979 but running faster than we had last year.


If I had retired at my peak, I would have given it up in 1986. That was my last year of running at a level close to where I had been running at for the previous 10 years. Bill Rodgers was right. You get about 8-10 years at your peak and then it gone.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Toughing it out in Silicon Valley

OK, it's finally winter in Silicon Valley. That doesn't necessarily mean rain and snow but it can mean temps in the 30's in the early morning and cool, cutting winds during the day. I admit to dragging my heels most of morning and not getting out until around 11 am. I almost wore my tights but finally settled on a long sleeve and gloves and just toughed it out. I had already decided to run 80-90 minutes so I drifted up the RR tracks all the way to Sunnyvale-Saratoga with some side loops to extend the time. By the time I headed back along Prospect and finally Stelling I had warmed up but a steady breeze kept things cool. My HR mostly was in the 60-65% range but bounced up close to 70% now and then.

I finally rolled onto to Lomita Avenue and finished at 90 minutes on the dot. I walked it off feeling a bit tired but OK otherwise. The gardeners were there having lunch in their van. My neighbor was out and we chatted a bit. But even standing still for a few moments was uncomfortable. I was wet with perspiration and knew I needed to get inside and shower.

90 minutes easy running

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Lynn Jennings and the Last Runner

In 1999 I stumbled On Lynn Jennings email address. At the time she was one of the top women runners in the USA. I asked her what she planned to do to handle the normal slowdown that happens to most of not all competitive runners in the early 40's. My actual message just asked how she would adjust her training. Of course she didn't know me from crap and being a highly independent person she simply could not grok what I was saying. Or maybe it was simply that she didn't need to hear that message from an aging master who had stopped competing about 4 years back.

She struck back at me like a whip with metallic, tongs on the end, pretending (or maybe actually believing) that she didn't really expect to slow down at all.

My message was not meant to be nasty but she was. I had hurt her unintentionally but was probably more like a branch that had scratched her cheek as she ran by. She simply flailed out with her sharp claws and pushed it aside.

Lynn Jennings Makes Retirement Official

Published: March 23, 2006
In the 1980's and 1990's, Lynn Jennings was America's star female distance runner, winning three world cross-country championships and an Olympic bronze medal in the 10,000 meters. She has not run since 1999, but never retired. Yesterday, at age 45 and speaking in a teleconference from her home in Portland, Ore., she finally did.

Jennings will be in New York for Sunday's More Marathon, a race in Central Park that is the first marathon in the world for women 40 and older. Although she runs 65 miles a week, Jennings will not compete here or, she said, anywhere else.

"I have accomplished everything I wanted to in this sport," she said. "At 40, I realized there is a lot to do in life and it doesn't include running 100 miles a week."

Somewhere out there Lynn still runs, like I do. I am not as fast. She is 15 years younger. She runs for the pure joy of it, like I do.

Sorry Lynn, I saw the future. My bad as they say. Sounds like you saw it too.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

A New Name

I ran 45 minutes easy on Friday and came back on Saturday and ran another 50 minutes easy. My right achilles tendon acted up a bit after the run on Friday but seems fine today. I inserted extra lifts in both shoes and taped my foot. I finally figured a name for the fact that my left knee and right achilles have been acting up lately.


Both seem manageable. I plan to stay off the hills and just be extra cautious and see if I can run through it.

It has turned cold again now that the rain has cleared out. Down in the 30's this morning so I wore tights, ski cap and double gloves.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

8 x 800

Jake was back in town so we met over at WVC on a cool, damp morning. The fog was in thick and hung over the track. The jogging class was there just like most of last spring, just new runners and walkers. The instructor was the same.

We did a 25 minute warm up and then ran 8 x 800 with a 100 meter recovery. Once again, I kept my HR at or under 75% max and despite feeling sort of tired the last few days actually ran well today. Afterwards we ran wround campus for a warm down.The workout totaled 81 minutes.

This must be the shock effect that Brian Clarke talks about in his books when applying harder running to a program. He was spot on about keeping the early tempo intervals at a reasonable effort. Jake, who was ahead of me on each rep, still ran within himself and mentioned that he enjoyed this workout. Of course there is no exhaustion or pain associated with this type of run. At least no at this point. Somwhere down the line, I will begin to adapt.

Monday, December 03, 2007


Well, really not that bad. Just didn't feel too spiffy today. I didn't get out until around 11 am. I kept putting it off. First I was a going to go out at 9 AM. Then it was 10 AM. That won't work too well when I return to work next week. However, I did get in 79 minutes of slow running. My legs didn't feel excessively tired but my HR rode up in the mid to high 140's most of the run and didn't come back down too quickly when I stopped. I ran up the RR tracks taking it very easy. I had the wind in my face all the way out to the 3 mile point. Coming back I started to perk up and went down Prospect and Stelling just fine. I felt decent enough to stop off at De Anza and do 4 laps on the track before finally heading back home. There was one of those fitness classes taking up the inside lanes but I stayed to the outside in lane's 8 and 9. Saw Little Spike down in the slot. Hadn't seen her for months. Also saw some really overweight junior college women trying to work it off.

My achilles held up well. So did my knee (no Protech today).

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Cold Front

A big cold front came in and froze things last night. I actually defaulted to tights, wool ski cap and double gloves for my 35 minute morning run. I didn't get out in time for the workout which was Farwell (3.54 miles). I got up late, had coffee and rolled over the WVC at around 8:15. This is getting to be a bad habit.

The afternoon workout was somewhat better. Felt like it was in the 50's but there was still this wind blowing in my face on the way back home. 4 miles I think. My HRM stayed down in the 120's and 130's during both runs. Maybe 8 miles total.

One other little thing. When I got out of bed this morning I felt a slight pop in my right achilles tendon. Nothing painful and I felt little or nothing while running but it was a bit tender after the morning jaunt so I stuck an extra heel lift in each shoe, took some Advil and will ice shortly. Felt nothing during the afternoon workout. Keeping an extra lift in my walk around shoes too until this goes away.