Sunday, August 31, 2014

Hills, Chainsaws and Fluid Dynamics

I'm in North Carolina for a long Labor Day weekend. Vicki and I are visiting my mother in law who spends her summers in Brevard, near Asheville. It's beautiful here, for walking and ogling views, but she lives on the side of a mountain (or at least a very large hill).  This has made the runs a challenge.  I have not been doing much hill running, other than the usual Brooklyn bridges and Prospect Park hill.  The gradients on all of these are steady and moderate, and the elevation gain no more than 100 feet or so.

Friday, I wandered out of the house, only to be met by 200 yards of 15-20% grade. I almost walked back inside.  Instead I took a picture and headed out, remembering that I'd run here before.  I managed four miles of aggressively rolling terrain.  I ran up to the ridge, ran along it, and then descended for a bit until I reached two miles and turned back.  The run was largely an experiment in form, both ascending and descending.  Going up, there's no cheating.  You have to shift your weight and push off with both sides.  Lifting the knees is rewarded by extra distance per step.  Keeping the knees tracking over the foot is rewarded by a smoother push off.  Going down was a bit less successful. On moderate grades it's great to lean into the hill and work on efficiently gliding down. These hills were just too darned steep to lean into.  I found myself returning to inefficient, slow heel striking, just to keep my feet under me.  Yikes.  I didn't do my "plyo" workout on Friday, but I think there was a lot of plyo on that run.

Yesterday was long run day.  My long run had been 15 or so miles for the last three weeks.  Last week, I think I might have run 16 in Berkeley, but Nike+ was not so charitable.  I think I lost about a half mile to "pause" errors.  Anyway,  I wanted to go to 17, both to break out of the rut, and because I'd like to get up to 20 milers soon, so I can log 3 or so before the NYC Marathon.  It's getting tight.  The last time I did a long run here in Brevard, I ran down off the Mountain and then ran through the valley. The hard part was getting down, and then getting back up again at the end.  My quads and glutes were pretty burned from the hills the day before, so I resolved to go slowly and see what happened.  It was a good, but not great run.  The first mile or so was a punishing descent.  The middle part ascended through the valley along a creek.  The shoulder was narrow, so I spent a lot of time worrying about blind curves and stepping off into the grass as cars went by quickly.  This section of the road is fairly picturesque, in an Appalachian sort of way.  There's a reputed meth lab, a turnoff for "biker's comfort" (whatever that is), and another turnoff for "chainsaw art" (not gonna check that one out either).  The road then rose up, and at 8 miles hit the turnaround point, the North Carolina/South Carolina border, which is also the Eastern Continental Divide.  Until I stumbled on this spot a few years ago, I didn't know there was such a thing as the Eastern Continental Divide, but on one side of the state line, water flows into the Chesapeake.  On the other side of the line water flows into the Mississippi.  When faced with such Archimedean points, there's really only one thing to do, so I did.

Then I turned around, and ran home, past the meth lab, past the sign for chainsaw art, and, with surprising but deliberate success, back up the mountain.  The overall pace for the run was ridiculously slow.  I didn't make 17 miles either, but I'm feeling reasonably good about the final ramp up for the Marathon, and that's a surprise.

Saturday, August 30, 2014


I've been incommunicado for some time for not very good reason.  Well, one good reason -- little to report.  And Spencer and Ted have been moving so well the reports we are getting are better than my saying "another blah week."

Here's one report:  my second 12-hour bike race for 2014, this one in North Carolina, with a 225-mile finish.  That's good enough for third in the upright division.  I'm on a new race bike that looks fast even if it is hamstrung by having me as the engine.

On the new bike at the Mid-Atlantic 12-24 last weekend.

Marathon minus 6 weeks checklist

1) Buy actual shoes for the race    Check

2) Start to break in shoes for race Check

3) Buy extra gels for race day       Check

4) Check if own both hot and        Check
     cool weather gear for race day

5) Check that spouse is free race
    day to drive you to start             Check (close call, leaving for airport shortly after race ends)

6) Buy extra leukotape                   Check

7) Do 16 mile run per schedule       Tomorrow

8) Decide if fundraising                    Next week

9) Body glide or nip guard               TBD

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Some musical memories while running

Guardians of the Galaxy is a profoundly stupid movie with a great sound track.  The sound track also plays a crucial role in the so to speak "plot" since the hero is given a cassette tape from his dying mother in 1988 titled "Awesome Mix Tape Vol. 1" just before being whisked away from earth by a band of interstellar thieves.  So for the rest of the movie the hero who now calls himself "Starlord" (but no one else does) listens to some awesome 70s and 80s oldies on a Sony walkman.

On my longer runs I intersperse various podcasts and play lists including now Awesome Mix Tape Vol 1.

But numerous other songs trigger the most random memories.  At one point Chicago's "Make Me Smile" popped up on a shuffle.  Back in the 1970s, an instrumental section of the extended version of the song was used in the intro of Monday Night Football as a battered and snow covered Alex Karas limped off the field.
The Isley Brothers "Hope You Feel Better Love" and the Stablizers "One Simple Thing" conjured up images of actual and hoped for girlfriends in college.  Springsteen, Green Day, and Santana brought back some great concert memories. 

So now I am planning my own awesome playlists and mix tapes for the big run in October mixing classics and trash from the past and present.  I also really like the fund raising tactic that Matt S. used last year where for a $10 or greater contribution to his chosen charity Matt would add a song of the donor's choice to his playlist for the race.  I couldn't help it, I selected "The Night Chicago Died" by Paper Lace.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol.1

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Logged a 15+ miler from Berkeley over the first half of the Oakland Bay Bridge, almost to Yerba Buena Island.  You can't get to the island because the pedestrian path ends, suspended in mid air, about 10 yards from landfall -- a very odd choice.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Building Up

So last week I ran 34 miles, 14, 5, and a 15 miler.  This is a somewhat artificially high because I did the 14 miler on a Tuesday instead of the prior weekend.  But the good news is that I am building the mileage and should be able to do the usual 20 miler 3 weeks before the Chicago marathon which is October.  But if the weather or training doesn't cooperate my insurance is an entry for the Naperville (western suburbs) marathon one month later. 

The bad news is that my mileage has been fluctuating wildly with a couple weeks under ten a(weather or an injury) and a couple weeks in the 30s and I am only occasionally running the usual T-W-TH and Sunday pattern.

Good news, no kidney stones and not getting as dehydrated as usual from the long runs (the two are somewhat linked).  Bad news I am carrying at least 5 pounds more than I usually do at this point in the training cycle.

Even better news is I only have do 12 miles this weekend and expect to clock in with high 20s for the week.  So am getting there but somewhat erratically.

On a related note, I am posting most of my running photos and route maps on Instagram.  If you are into that sort of thing, follow me @sweberwaller.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Plyometrics and Citystreets

My forward trend continues (lots of knocking on wood).  After the plyo workout on Friday, Saturday was the last day of Citystreets.  On Saturday morning they've been closing a route from the Brooklyn Bridge, up Centre Street to Lafayette, to Fourth Avenue to Park Avenue South, onto the Park Avenue Overpass, around Grand Central Station, and then up Park Avenue to 72nd St. My legs were pretty sore, so I figured I'd go as far as I could, and then turn back.  Once I got going, my legs felt good, and I managed to log the full route -- another 15 mile long run.  Hooray!!  The pace was pretty good too -- faster than I've been going in months.  That was aided by the periodic waits for cross-town traffic, but don't tell anybody.  I'm glad I got the run out of the way, because yesterday the DOMS from Friday's plyo ate my quads.    No injury, but I was not happy going down stairs.  Today is much better, and tomorrow I'll be ready of another run.