Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Flooded Roads

Hard to tell from the picture (too much moisture in the air for my cheap phone camera), but this was a river across one of the roads on my commute and it looked pretty menacing. As I approached it, there were two vehicles backing up to turn around and find another way. I rode past them and through the puddle. I'm not above walking through a pond if it turned out too deep to ride through. Once the vehicles who were about to go around saw that it was less than a foot deep they followed me through it. There were a couple low spots this morning that were similarly flooded. This particular stretch of road seems to really collect the worst of the road conditions in storms. Below is a picture I took after the blizzard this past winter of a truck that lost it on the ice and slid into the ditch. When the road was covered with snow and ice, as with today's flooding, the bike was undeterred and handled the road conditions well. I did once get a flat on this section. I guess it's like the Bermuda Triangle of my ride.

5 mile run in the new Minimus shoes after I got home last night. It was pouring big fat drops for the entire run. I wore the shoes without socks, as they are designed to be used, and they were amazing! My feet were completely soaked from a 6 inch deep river across the road within 2 minutes of leaving the house and remained drenched until I stopped an hour later. It was the most comfortable my feet have ever been running in the rain. I hope that comfort maintains as the shoes start to wear. Toe box, heel lift and sole shape are all well designed. I find them to essentially be like a Five Finger that has the toes joined. This may end up being my favorite shoe yet.

I had ran up to the gymnastics gym to watch Jakob at practice. When I got there one of the other dads was picking up his son. He is an ER doctor and is always curious about my running. Specifically, he likes to discuss how my body responds internally to different challenges. He is a great resource. He was concerned that I wasn't wearing enough clothing for the conditions. It was 55 and raining hard. He always has a story for me about someone admitted to the ER for whatever condition we are discussing. I do appreciate the stories as I realize there is a certain amount of danger in bad weather that needs to be pondered. I was wearing a long sleeve polyester shirt and running shorts. I felt perfectly warm while I was on the move. When you get cold, just run faster and you will warm up. I do have passing thoughts like, "what if I broke my ankle and had to lay out here for an hour?" Though, I think I could probably hop a few miles if it really came to that.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Rain, Rain and More Rain

The blog feels more and more without focus lately. I have been forcing myself to sit and write but I haven’t been that happy with what is coming out. If anyone is still following, I apologize for the lack of inspirational or motivating content. I have a love/hate relationship with writing. I seem to have the most amazing ideas for topics when I’m miles from home on the trails but once I actually sit down to write, not a word comes to me. Keeping the blog going seems like a good idea most times. It is doing a great job of keeping me honest with training mileage. I think Jakob, maybe even Sara and me, will appreciate it in years to come. It will be an interesting way to look back on who I was and what I spent my life doing.

The rain has been falling heavily for the past 5 days. Even when there isn’t rain falling, there are large rivers and puddles in yards and streets. I have spent almost 7 hours in the last 5 days running and riding in the pouring rain. I’m definitely starting to feel a little waterlogged and I’m ready to see the sun. There are still a few days of rain in the forecast too so it won’t be over soon. Fortunately, it has been over 50 degrees so the cold isn’t a huge concern. Every workout ends with me peeling off sloppy and muddy clothes to reveal pickled skin. Yesterday’s long run was interfered with by the city posting signs that many of the trails near our house were “closed due to hazardous conditions.” If it weren’t illegal to run past such a sign, I might have encountered some sections of trail flooded with water over my knees and one even close to waist deep. In some sections I might have even seen ankle deep mud or had to crawl over downed trees.

Riding my bike to work continues. I’m at a crossroads in my running schedule. The easiest way for me to get big running mileage in is to start running the 16 miles to and from work instead of riding. The bad part about this is that last year, when I was running to work 3 days a week, I found myself really missing my bike ride. I wanted to do both! The easiest solution, with the least impact on family, would be to get up and run early in the morning and then ride in to work after that. The problem is, while I am an early riser, I’m not an early runner. I like to run in the evening. So why not just ride to work and then run at night? Going for a 2 or 3 hour run in the evening puts a huge dent in the amount of time I get to spend with Sara and Jake and I’m just not willing to compromise that much family time on a regular basis. I may find a workable solution that allows me to have my cake and eat it too but at this point, I’m not sure what that will be.

I did get some new running shoes in the mail today! I have been shopping for less and less shoe over the past few years. I did a lot of my running last year in the Vibram Five Fingers. While I loved the way they let my foot work, I found they lacked in protection for really rugged terrain, which is where I like to run the most. My last shoe was the New Balance MT101’s. I used them for the 100 miler and thought they performed fairly well. My only complaint was the heel was still lifted more than I like. Fortunately, New Balance just released the Minimus MT10 (shown below). It has a lower heel which brings me even closer to the barefoot position but still offers sole protection from sharper rocks and road debris. I’m excited to put some miles on them and see if they work as well as I’m hoping. I guess we will see how they handle the water first.

Week of April 18 - Bike 80, Run 31, D 10, U 5

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Everyone thinks they know how to run. People read books and study how to do lots of things but running is one that most people think you are just born doing right. I don’t believe this is the case. I think there is actually an optimal way to run which helps both in energy conservation and injury prevention. Repeatedly running with poor form can and does lead to numerous injuries. Especially as you age. Any mistakes you may have gotten away with while running as a youngster are amplified with older age.

When I returned to running after many years off, I began to experience knee pain. It was the very common Patellofemoral syndrome, more commonly called PFS or just runner’s knee, I diagnosed myself as usual. During my self diagnosing procedure (read scouring the internet looking for similar symptoms), I stumbled across many references to the pain being related to poor running form. Until that day, I had always assumed like most people, that you just know how to do it. I mean its just one foot in front of the other, right? I believed, like most people, if it always hurts something is probably broken or just worn out because I’m old. I no longer believe this is the case.

I won’t bore you with the nitty gritty details as it is far too easy to go overboard and throw far too much jargon out there unless you are a running nerd like I am. But safe to say, there is a healthier way that your body was designed to run. One that is easier on your body that will allow you to fun faster, longer and injury free. My first real resource was the book Chi Running. These days there are numerous resources out there and most are teaching the same principles. This website has some good information: Good Form Running. I love to talk about the subject but can see people’s eyes gloss over shortly after the conversation begins so now I just wait for them to ask for advice.

Even after years of studying and practicing good form though, I still have times where I get lazy or just zone out and forget about what I’m doing. Sure enough the old pain and discomfort in my knee returns. Once I recognize what I am doing, I adjust my body and foot strike and the pain slips away. Don’t be fooled by the latest advertisements for super-cushioned shoes. Joint comfort has zero to do with the amount of padding underfoot and everything to do with posture, cadence, stride length and foot strike. I do all my running in very minimal shoes and several miles per week completely barefoot. If you are experiencing pains when you run, it’s probably not your shoes. Do some reading and your body will thank you.

Week of April 11 – Bike 80, Run 33, D 10, U 5

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Fortunate Life

I like to think it's all the fruit of my wit and prowess but I am a fortunate person.

I’m fortunate to have been born in a country that wasn’t war torn and starving. I have been to some of those and it's not so easy to excel.

Fortunate to have parents who worked hard to provide for their children. I have seen parents in this world whose children never had a chance.

Those same parents that taught me to face the world and work hard to provide for my family. Just saying you love a child is not enough, there are lessons to impart.

To have found a woman that I can cherish and adore who, I think, feels the same for me. It seems a rare commodity in today's world.

To have a son that looks up to me and strives to make me proud. I know I set bars high and he consistently sails higher.

To have a job that provides for my family in times where many are without.

To have traveled the globe and met with people from all corners of it.

To have my health and be capable of still growing stronger.

To have escaped unscathed from the perils I have sought for fun.

To have friends that enjoy my company.

Yep, I’m a pretty lucky guy.

Week of April 4 - – Bike 80, Run 28, D 10, U 5

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Loop

Went for a run on my home loop last night. Because of its convenience, I have probably run this loop about a thousand times. It’s a 5 mile loop that is mostly on Greenway Trail and light traffic residential streets. It finishes with a mile long uphill stretch leading back to our house. Except for the first nice days of a new season, I rarely see anyone else out using the trail so it feels secluded. If I’m feeling like a little more distance, the loop passes the back entrance to the Nature Center Trail and I can get some steep hills and single track dirt trail, my favorite, but this night was just the standard 5 mile loop.

It’s amazing how your body adapts to exercise. Several years ago after my long layoff from exercise, a single mile of constant running was a difficult challenge that left me sore for days. I remember in Marine boot camp, the last run we did before graduating was the 5 mile motivation run. For several months we trained and looked forward to it. At that time it was the longest run I had ever attempted and when it finally came, it was a difficult and rewarding challenge to complete. The route took us places on the base we hadn’t seen before. We ran past the commanding officer’s house and other places that had remained hidden through all the training. These days, it hardly seems worth the time to put on my shoes and head out the door if I can’t get at least 5 miles in.

There are two construction zones that the loop intersects. I’m not sure when they actually do any construction as there are never any workers in the zones, at least until tonight. Nearly 4 miles into the run as I was approaching the final zone standing between me and the last big hill heading home, I heard the beeping sounds of commercial trucks backing. As I came around the corner I could see a crane boom swinging and yellow flashing lights on several different vehicles. Construction workers in their reflective vests and hardhats were working all over the place. Several of them turned to stare at me as I stopped and stood there for a second like a deer caught in headlights.

For a few moments I thought about just sprinting through them all. It would have been pretty funny to see their faces as I came storming through shirtless. Had it been dark already, I might have done just that. However, the sun was still up and there would be nowhere to escape if they had decided to give chase. I really doubt they would come after me, but I’m not sure what the charge and fine would even be and it didn’t seem worth the hassle or the time. Besides running through the pack of workers, my only choice was to head back the other direction. My 5 mile run had just turned closer to 8, I should have paced better. My only regret was that I hadn’t brought any water. I was ready for a drink by the time I got back to the house.

Week of March 28 – Bike 80, Run 23, D 10, U 4