Thursday, December 29, 2005

Short run today

Woke up tired this morning... been going to bed about 11:00 or so while on vacation and I guess it is catching up finally... was going to go 5 or 6 miles but starting late, feeling tired, just stayed in the neighborhood for a little two miler that I have not done in a long time, probably over a year.

Warm today, in the mid forties, light ground fog as the snow we did have so much of is gradually disappearing. I did not expect to see our grass lawn until March but it is back....

May the roads/trails be kind to you!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Glittens are back!

Yes, years ago I got a couple of pairs of glittens (a combination glove and mitten) and have used them regularly for running. I have three ways of wearing them. One, as a glove. Two, as a glitten (the warmest). And sometimes towards the end of a run when I have warmed up sufficiently, I'll take them off and roll them such that my fingers fit curled in the mitten cover with the remainder of the material rolled to hold in the hand.

Tried looking for some glittens last year and while Google turned up one catalog with them, when I went to order them the order could not be filled. There are a bunch of knitted versions and patterns available but this was the first glitten I found that matched waht I was looking for.

I found these glittens in a recent National Running Center catalog and ordered some online. They arrived in time for Christmas and I used them when I took a walk with my wife yesterday morning. I bought the mens L/XL. The material has some stretch and give in it but fit my long fingers very nicely. The actual coloring is off from what is pictured. The mitten part is black and the mitten part is more dark navy than the lighter blue shown. Oh no, mixing black and blue! Yes, it may be a social faux pax but I don't mind.

They are warm and functional and better yet, they fit.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Book Review: Once a Runner - John L Parker Jr

Just finished Once a Runner by John L Parker Jr today. A fairly quick read. I had started it a couple of weeks ago and almost completely finished it on two train rides (approx. 45 minutes of reading each ride). I got to the point where I knew the end was close and wanted to be able to enjoy it. So rather than take it to work again, I held off reading until this week, vacation week, where one can truly enjoy the time with a good book.

John clearly captures the feeling of running. The time in the locker rooms, on the track, out on the roads... he has this down. I was not in his (or Cassidy's) class of running but I did compete in high school and college and later coached high school. He knows the inside outs and crafts a good story.

Ultimately, I was left unsatisfied on two counts. One, in the climatic race, Cassidy gets entered in the name of another runner. This does not sit well with me. Track is still not well accepted in the USA. You really only hear of it during Olympic years. To have the hero stoop to this level to succeed runs counter to the ideals of the true Olympic sport, especially with drug enhanced performances still in the news. (Yes, I confess, I am an idealist!)

Two, you don't find out his time in this climatic race. I don't want to reveal any more than this to spoil it for anyone who has not yet read the book. I have my suspicions what his time was but since John did not reveal it, Cassidy's finishing time is left open to speculation.

From the opening chapter:
He was going to have to pick up the thread of a normal life again and although he did not know exactly why, he had to start by coming back here, back to the greenhouse warmth of the Panhandle, back to the very quarter mile oval that still held his long-dried sweat. Back to September, the month of promises. He put his bag down by the pole vault pit, looked uptrack to make sure no one was coming, and then walked up to the starting line. God, he thought, one more time on the line.

In lane one, he stood very still, looking down at his street shoes (joggers now going around him with curious glances) and tried to conjure up the feeling. After a moment a trace of it came to him and he knew that was all there would be. You can remember it, he told himself, but you can not experience it again this way. You have to be satisfied with the shadows. Then he thought of the second and third laps and decided with a little twist of a smile that the shadows were sometimes quite enough.
Yes, the shadows can be very good!

Updated 4/7/09 with new link to Amazon page with re-issue of hard cover copy of the book!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Jingle bells run

A good group of Pacers got together this morning for a run. About 8 of us did the "7 at 7" choice. Although I think it worked out to be more than 7 miles and we started about 10 minutes past 7, but hey, who will quibble on Christams Eve. Another 4 runners came along later to run 3 miles.

Most of us were dressed for the occasion. A good number had Santa caps to top off their red or green clothing. I choose to go the elf route with my yellow leggings, red shorts, and deep green t-shirt. I pinned a couple of pre-made ribbon bows on my shoulders to complete the "package".

There were some jingle bell ribbons to tie to our shoes before the run. Those that did ended up loosing most of the bells before they finished. We can certainly provide some feedback that they did not hold up to the miles.

We did the same run as Thursday but with the starting point at Panera's instead of the high school parking lot. While we took off the loop around Dean College, we added the distance from Panera's to and from there hence the conclusion that it was more like 8 or 9 than the 7 it was advertised as.

No problem, a good run, some good conversations around the table at Panera's. Not sure why they are getting this attention, the service is slow. It took us about 10 minutes in line to get inside the door and at least another 10 to get served.

But it is Christmas Eve and with the glow of a good run, we were all in good spirits as we warmed up and cooled down at the same time. Yes, only runners can do that in winter.

I hope your Christmas run is a good one!

I plan on doing an easy 3 tomorrow morning to close out the week and set up for an second helping on the pie after dinner.


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Thursday, December 22, 2005

She had her Wheaties today!

The four standard bearers of the Pacers were on the Franklin roads tonight. Two women leading two men. One led because she was showing us the route; one of her regular routes. It was a good one. I would be hard pressed to repeat it as we ran it in the dark and the first part of it had multiple turns this way and that. But it was a good mix of side roads, infrequent traffic and a nice "little" hill in there just for good measure.

The last couple of miles were relatively straight forward and the other lady took over the lead and set the pace. She was cruising along at which point over the shoulder I heard:

She had her Wheaties today!

Did she ever! Nice running!
A good workout was had by all.


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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Opted out of hills (again)

No hills again tonight, although since we started our run on the top and finished our running coming up the side, technically we did do the "hills" just not as much as we normally do.

We being the couple of Pacer buddies who joined me for a jaunt in the dark. Checking out this side road here, doing this loop here, and eventually it added up to about 5 miles.

One of my better runs. Just felt really good. So good that I don't want to think about what it would have felt like doing the hills. I can live happy with what I did and I will sleep well tonight.

It will be warmer under those covers than it was on the roads!


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Sunday, December 18, 2005

RBF Button

Let see if I can do this properly.

Here is the button.

I already have the link.

Let's see if the two can go together....

Updated: - oh, not yet... if anyone has advice on how to insert the image and apply a link to the image in the column, please let me know. Thanks!

Updated: 12/24/05
A little time to think about this lead me to borrow from the "Sub with Bloglines" code sample and get this working. I am pleased it all worked out.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Saturday Run

First time running on a Saturday for a while. Missed Thursday with the Pacers as I went to my company holiday party. Didn't get to make it up last night as we took Allison out to dinner for her birthday. So before going to the Franklin Indoor Track meet today got up and out for an easy 3 miles.

I had a bunch of mental debate going on during the first mile. It was not easy starting for some reason and the slick roads didn't help any. I was watching my step all the time. Finally decided to do the Chestnut Ridge loop and took it easy.

I'll have the long run tomorrow to close out the week. Wondering who will be there to do three loops? Caught up with a Pacer in the check out line at the market and she'll be doing two loops.

One of these Sunday's I'll try four loops. I want to take the milage up slightly during this off season to prepare for next year. With the hills on Tuesday's, I can gradually work the interval times down. With the tempo run on Thursday's, I can go a minimum 5 or 6 depending upon who shows up. With Sunday's long run, the loop concept makes it easy to add another one of whatever distance I feel like doing to add the milage.

So with 5 on Tuesday, up to 8 on Tuesday, and 12 or 13 on Sunday, I can get 25 quality miles per week. That should help me attack my 5K goal next year.

The decision remains as to whether I'll try to go after the 400 time or not. This past summer told me I can't do both at the same time.

Plenty of time for that decision.

May the roads/trails be kind to you!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Plano (TX) Pacers Running Club

Just happened to be cruising along the web tonight to find this similarly named running club based in Plano, TX.

I like their web site. It offers some good ideas for our Pacer web site.

One really slick item they have is a calculator that scores your race finish time factoring in distance, sex, and age on a 100 point scale. They use this to calculate the results for their Grand Prix results. Each person gets a score for the race and then the scores are averaged, minimum four races for the final results.

Cool stuff!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle Received from a Friend Called Felicity

For Joan at Songs of Experience who posted her poem Edozien Grey, known simply as E. today.

During that summer
When unicorns were still possible;
When the purpose of knees
Was to be skinned;
When shiny horse chestnuts
(Hollowed out
Fitted with straws
Crammed with tobacco
Stolen from butts
In family ashtrays)
Were puffed in green lizard silence
While straddling thick branches
Far above and away
From the softening effects
Of civilization;

During that summer--
Which may never have been at all;
But which has become more real
Than the one that was--
Watermelons ruled.

Thick imperial slices
Melting frigidly on sun-parched tongues
Dribbling from chins;
Leaving the best part,
The black bullet seeds,
To be spit out in rapid fire
Against the wall
Against the wind
Against each other;

And when the ammunition was spent,
There was always another bite:
It was a summer of limitless bites,
Of hungers quickly felt
And quickly forgotten
With the next careless gorging.

The bites are fewer now.
Each one is savored lingeringly,
Swallowed reluctantly.

But in a jar put up by Felicity,
The summer which maybe never was
Has been captured and preserved.
And when we unscrew the lid
And slice off a piece
And let it linger on our tongue:
Unicorns become possible again.

John Tobias

From the book Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle by Stephen Dunning

Hot tempo on the cold roads

Yes, it was quite cold tonight. About 14 F with a wind chill into the low single digits. One Pacer buddy decided to brave the cold to keep me company. Thank you!

We decided not to do the hill work we normally are scheduled for on Tuesday. The wind on the corner as we would make the turn on the long hill was going to be a challenge. Stopping multiple times in this cold also did not seem like something we wanted to do. We opted instead for a good tempo run. Most of the beginning was at a "barely can keep a conversation" pace but the sidewalks also contributed to making conversation difficult.

I tried to stay on the road along the gutter while she tried to stay on the sidewalks. She ultimately came out into the road with me. It was safer that way. That is until we got back out onto the main road where the sidewalks were mostly clear so she jumped up to run there and I stayed in the gutter. It was good until one van came by too close for comfort. Fortunately it was near the end of our route. I had enough time to calm down and complete the run.

We did not linger long in the parking lot to chat after the run. It was much too cold for that.

A good run for this day with a good buddy to set/keep a good pace!

May the roads/trails be kind to you!

Sunday, December 11, 2005


Yes, the loops work. Adjusted the start time for the Pacers by 10 minutes for the second and third loops and it worked out very well today.

What are you talking about?
Okay, let me step back a bit. The Pacers routes on Sunday shifted from our fall location to our winter location for a variety of reasons (change, variety, convenient coffee shop, etc.). What had been successful about our fall routes was that there were two loops, a small one (3.4 miles) and then a longer one (7.1 miles). Both started and finished at the same location. We offered three runs; 10.5, 7.1 and 3.4. Hence those running 10.5 could start with the small loop and make it back to the start to pick up those starting the 7.1 loop. This provided additional folks to run with. Those who started later for the 3.4 miles could join the 7 and 10 miles for the last 1.5 miles depending upon the pace of each group.

So shifting to the new location, we wanted to try and continue this loop concept and see if we could improve on it. Hence, some craftiness might get me labeled as "loopy".

So how does it work?
We devised four loops; two each at 3 miles and 2 each at 3.5 miles. All loops start and end at the same point; the Franklin Village plaza which has a Panera Bread that happens to open at 7:00 AM on Sunday. So if you need to make a pit stop before starting, you have a good place to go. Beats the woods anytime!

The 10 milers start at 7:00 AM and do one of the 3.5 mile loops. Calculating a 10 minute mile pace (which also allows for a sometimes late start), the group should get back about 7:35 AM. Time to pick up the 6.5 milers and head out on one of the 3 mile loops (one hilly and one rolling). They should get back about 8:05 in time to pick up any 3.5 milers for the last loop (the other 3.5).

We made the "official" start for the 6.5 milers at 7:40 AM and 8:10 for the 3.5 milers.

So what happened today?
One other Pacer joined me for the 10 mile run. We left on schedule at 7:00 and came back at 7:37. A little slower due to the snow but otherwise well calculated. We picked up one other Pacer looking to do 6.5 and choose the rolling 3 mile loop. We headed out and got back at 8:04 in time to pick up one other Pacer for the final 3.5 miles for all us. We altered the third loop to be an out and back course instead of a loop to avoid going three times on the one final stretch. (Yes, if we had done the 3.0 mile hill loop this would not have been a problem, but...)

As a side bonus we saw two other Pacers out on their own. We had not expected to see them as both are recovering from injury so it was a pleasant surprise.

Anyway, the four of us made it back together to the finish having done our three loops successfully joined together completing 10 miles, 6.5 miles, and 3.5 miles respectively. Now, how cool is that?

Way cool!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Tempo Thursday

I ran alone for the first time in a while. One good thing about running with a club, you generally have someone to run with. Unfortunately, other obligations kept the Pacers away from the time slot this Thursday evening.

This is not a bad thing, by any means.

Recall that I have run for 34 years, and other than when in high school (2), college (4), and then coaching (6) after that (12 years total, to help those who wanted to count), I have spent the remainder running alone (21 years, actually). It could have been 22 but I can't count this past year as I have been running with the Pacers since September 2004.

I did one of my favorite routes; the Chestnut-Pleasant loop. Starting from the Pacers starting point it is a half mile shorter than if I did it from home, but only a half mile. Doing it as night is also a little more challenging than during the day. Chestnut tends to have more traffic at this time (7:00 PM Eastern) and the road is fairly narrow in spots. I was well dressed for the cold (about 20 degrees F) and my reflective vest and luminous jacket were on. I also carried my little flash light but I need to change the batteries. It was getting weaker as I went and not much use by the end of the run.

The fun stretch is along Pleasant. And not just because the road is called Pleasant, it is pleasant. The side I run tends to have fewer houses, mostly woods, and more space to stay away from the traffic. By the light of the half moon, the trees were casting their shadows across the road. I played a game off not stepping on them for a bit, but then that got my tempo up and I held it for a good mile or so. See what playing can do for you! Even when running alone.

May the roads/trails be kind to you!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Build a calendar for next year's races

Have you picked some races to run next year?
If you have, then you know already what the dates are.

How about getting a calendar with those dates printed on them to hang for a constant reminder?
That might be good!

And how about getting the calendar to help a good cause at the same time?
That would be doubly good!

Yes, you can do both.

Check out the posting on my other blog for details or follow the link in this posting's title to go directly to the web site to build you own calendar and contribute to a good cause.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Cold (but good) night on the hills

A couple of Pacer buddies kept me company on the hills tonight. It was cold (high 20's). Clear, partial moon shining. And no breeze to speak of. Usually it is very noticeable, especially coming up the long side of the hill, as you turn the curve under the street light, the prevailing breeze or wind catches you there. But not tonight.

We did our full routine as this was our second time on the hills this time around. 1 mile warm up. 3 times up the long one hard, down the short one easy. 3 times back up the short one hard, down the long one easy. The last easy down leads us into our mile warm down to close out the workout for a total of 5 miles.

I concentrated on the long hill tonight. I felt pretty good and kept the pace consistent for all three.

Next week, I'll keep the long one steady and work to quicken the short hill pace.

The week after, I'll keep the short pace steady and quicken the long hill. Or at least try and see how it goes; to keep some steadiness in there but progressively work on quickening the pace one side of the hill at a time.

We'll keep you posted when you check back.

May the roads/trails be kind to you!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Milestone 12/4/05

Milestone 12/4/05
Originally uploaded by shersteve.

Yes, 900 miles... at the beginning of the year, it did not seem likely. Now, it is a minor disappointment that I won't get to 1000 (forecasting to end up about 980-990). I could but don't want to risk the injury factor. The three day program has been doing very well. I want to keep with that and gradually modify the mileage rather than add another day or so to put in the other mileage to get to the 1000 mark.

Time enough for next year!

May the roads/trails be kind to you!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Wreath 2005

Originally uploaded by shersteve.

Sunny breezy day here in Franklin, MA.

The wreath is now mounted front and center to welcome those who chance to come by the home base.

I have posted this here as well to help welcome those who come by via the internet.

Thank you for visiting!

And special thanks to Connie for the wreath!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Good run tonight

A nice night to run.
Temp in the mid-30's.
Little or no breeze.
Just right for a good tempo run.

A couple of Pacer buddies kept company and conversation going for most of the run. That is until we got about a mile to the finish where we picked it up so that talking became second priority, concentrating on the traffic and maintaining the pace took over as the first priority.

Running at night like this, we tried to keep to well light roads and less traveled where possible. One stretch was through a development and we could spread out three across the road no problem. Coming back into Franklin, however we clung to the sidewalk or gutter and paid close attention to the cars coming from the driveways and side streets. They all behaved well tonight (thank you!). We should have been noticeable, all wearing our reflective vests. Creating something of a stir in this small town.

Who are these folks running at this time of night?
Just a few Pacers out for a good tempo run.

About 4.3 miles in 37 minutes and change.
A good night to you all!
I know I can sleep well after a good run.