Friday, October 28, 2005

An Alternate Time Zone Named Susan

After two failed attempts the past two mornings, I finally made it out my front door at 6:00 am this morning. Stepping out into the dark, quiet morning, it was refreshing to breathe in the cool 50F air. The stars were brilliant, and a crescent moon cast a faint glow. The setting was perfect in almost every way.

As I ran, I thought about how great this feeling is, but also how hard it is for me to get up early enough to do this. I'm amazed at everyone else's stories about pre-dawn runs, and lately I'm reading about Susan's
5AM runs, and then her 4AM runs! What's next - 3AM sleep-running runs?! 2AM runners anonymous meetings? 1 AM last call runs?

I'm convinced Susan and some of you are in an alternate (twilight?) time zone that I'll never achieve. I'll call it SST (Susan Standard Time). No matter where you are, if you're on SST, you're 2 hours ahead of everyone else!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Got Caesium-133?

It's used to calculate and calibrate the official precise time duration of one "second", but who needs Caesium-133 when you can just run?

I've run 3 times this week, best guess 6 miles each time, 2 different routes around the neighborhood, and the 3rd route a brand new one in a completely new direction that I've never done before. There's almost absolutely nothing similar in these routes: different time of day, different number of intersections, traffic, waiting at stop lights etc. Each time when I got home, here's my time:

Monday 54:37
Tuesday 54:35
Thursday 54:34

Weird or what?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Release The Beast

No, there's no running beast within me waiting to get out, although I might need to create one if I'm going to get a move on with my half marathon training. I ran this last year as my first half, and trained religiously for it with a 8-week plan pulled down from Runners World, but this year's preparation has been nonchalant at best. I've got 2 weekends left to train for this.

Last weekend, I went out planning to do 12 miles around the neighborhood. Even had the water and GU laid out and waiting in my strategic hiding spot! But the run just didn't feel right, and I turned it in after 4 miles or so. I'm thinking it's my shoes, reaching semi-retirement age and time to find a new primary pair.

So today I bought a new pair of shoes, not my 4th (and only type of running shoe I've ever worn) Brooks
Beast, but my 1st Brooks Addiction 6. Still a motion control shoe, but cheaper ($90 vs $110) and lighter (12.5 ozs vs. 14.5 ozs). Ran 6 miles this evening and it worked just fine. The Beast has worked great for me and I've never had any foot problems, but I thought it might be time to bust out for a change. Look out - I'm living dangerously, tempting fate, and running on the edge now!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

My Kinda Long Run

Even though I didn't run today, this long run made my day, as my Texas Longhorns finally beat ou after a 5 year drought. Freshman Jamaal Charles went 80 yards on a 1-play drive for a TD. Whoa Nellie! Shades of Earl, Ricky, Priest, 'n Cedric ... we got us a fine lookin' runner!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

A Perfect Rainy Day

The last time I had fun in the rain, really all-out soaking-wet uninhibited fun, I was 10 years old. We lived in a bungalow in Singapore, which is a fancy word for "house". I was in 4th grade then, but already almost too old to do silly stuff like go outside in the rain and get soaked, intentionally. Even stranger, I remember convincing my brother, 4 years older than I, to join me. It might well have been the last time we played together as brothers, before it became a no-no for a couple of boys trying to act "cool".

Funny how I still remember the day well, more than 30 years ago. It was a heavy rain, but normal for the tropics. The rain gutters under the roofline would break off at the corners, and dump the water onto the driveway below. We'd wrestle to pin each other below these downspouts, where the water came down hard enough to hurt the top of your head. When that was done, we'd make paper boats and race them in the small drain that circled the house before it emptied into the storm drain outside. It was, a perfect rainy day.

Now the last time I had fun in the rain, really all-out soaking-wet uninhibited fun, was an hour and a half ago! Yesterday, I wrote about the run I planned to do today, and I did just that and more. Started out this evening here in Ybor City, past the Florida Aquarium and Channelside Harbor, past a bunch of bars where people were getting loaded up with food and drink, past the St. Pete Times Forum where other people were streaming in for the 2004 Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning season home opener against the Carolina Hurricanes. I always enjoy running in this kind of crowd, because it makes you pick up your step and try not to look too much like the slacker runner I probably am! Plus with everyone else walking and only you running, it makes you feel totally fast! Anyway, I made it out onto Bayshore Boulevard and all the way, as hoped, to Hyde Park. Only thing is, it wasn't as far as I thought, maybe 3.5 - 4 miles.

On the way back, the storm rolled in. A few sprinkles to start for about 10 mins, and then it really came pouring down! It was a firm rain that came straight down like a full shower, no wind, slightly cool. What little sunset was left quickly disappeared and night rolled in. I ran by a long line of cars that had slowed to a crawl trying to get to the game, and thoroughly enjoyed myself thinking how for once I was really glad to be outside and wet instead of inside and dry like them! I was running shirtless in the rain, by the light of the street lamps and car headlights, and I felt completely free.

As I approached the Forum, there was a few brave souls trying their luck under umbrellas, but most people were waiting it out in storefronts and huddled together in whatever shelter they could find. And here came I, running down the wide open sidewalk, oblivious to the rain, and soaked to the skin. While everyone else was trying to stay dry, I was running away from trees and shelter, not trying very hard at all to avoid puddles that sometimes came up over my ankles, and occasionally doing my best Vanderlei Lima airplane impersonation running with arms outstretched to get as much rain contact as possible! I can't imagine how many people were thinking "this guy's nuts!"

When I made it back to Ybor City, I was a little short of my 9-mile target, and still having a good time, so for good measure I took one last lap down the main drag and back. This street is lined with bars, restaurants, tattoo parlors, clubs, cigar houses, pool halls ... generally a good time place. Most people were inside, but a fair number of proprietors, employees, and customers were standing around outside watching the rain, and nothing else because nothing else was happening - until I rolled along that is. I got more than a few good laughs and cheers from them as I ran by, and it was the least painful and most enjoyable last mile I ever ran. I felt 10 years young again.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Almost Half Time

Half time is creeping up on me. I've been in a bit of a slump since my first marathon this past summer, but I've always kept one eye out on The Half as the last opportunity to turn this ship around before I fall into a perpetual slumber. I've run only two 5Ks in the meantime, and while they were both relatively decent for me, I could have done better if I was actually running more than once a week.

I did 6 yesterday while out of town in Tampa, FL. I'm still here in Ybor City, where I put in some miles while training for the marathon earlier this year. It's nice to retrace some of my old steps here, knowing those miles paid off in the end. I'm going to shoot for a longer run tomorrow, maybe 9 or more if I can handle it. There's a route I take from Ybor City into downtown Tampa, out the other side and onto Bayshore Boulevard which hugs Tampa Bay. Along the way, I go from turn-of-the-(previous)-century Latin Quarter with quaint cobblestone streets and old cigar factories, to concrete jungle office skyscrapers and cookie-cutter municipal buildings, to an actually pretty decent boulevard with a wide running and biking path on the water side and grand old homes on the land side overlooking the water of course. If I can push it tomorrow, I'll try to reach historic Hyde Park before turning around and coming back.