Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Shoping 2007

That would be me discovering Bath and Body Works.
Merry Christmas!

Spaghetti Western Sequel

I stood behind this guy in line at Bath and Body Works.
He didn't speak Italian & I didn't cut his head off.
I just saw Munson and my former UP colleague Hema there.
What do you make of it, Blondie?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Abominable Snow Run

When: 8:00 AM Saturday
Where: 63rd and Center Starbucks
Distance: Pending. Let's try for 75 minutes.
Conditions: The cold, blowing snow is one for the memories. Bundle up and let's go. You won't regret it, especially you Bryan. Your memory is skewed.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sunday's Bear Lake Run

Last Sunday's run by the numbers:

Distance: Including the neighborhood, about 6.5 miles
Conditions: 3" powder/packed powder. Flat to rolling hills
Temperature: 21 °F with 5 mph winds
Elapsed Time: 54 minutes 12 seconds
Average Pace: 8:02 per mile
Max Heart Rate: 169
Average Heart Rate: 145
Calories Burned: 651 (45% Fat)

Good steady burn. Hot chocolate at Bryan's with the 'fam afterwards.

Best quote:
How did that guy get his snow blower on his second floor deck?

Monday, December 17, 2007

A Primer to Winter Running

How to Run
Running in the cold winter is mostly about base mileage. You don't have to run fast. In fact, running fast in the snow is ludicrous and should be reserved for organized races in good conditions (see below). Winter runs are more about steady, fat-burning runs of low intensity. Trudging slowly through snow/icy conditions is also a lot safer. Plus, your body temp is generally cooler, so the risk of injury decreases if you're not hammering away. Instead, just shuffle along. When it comes to cornering, slow to a walking speed before taking a corner. Just think slow.

What To Wear
Just like anything else in the cold, layering is your best bet. But what to wear is a matter of personal preference and how much circulation your extremities get. Generally, on the core and legs I'll upgrade the layering with each 10°F below 30°F.

  • I always wear a hat and fleece mittens below 30°F
  • 20 - 30°F: two long sleeve tech shirts. Tights & nylon shell pants
  • 10 - 20°F: a tech shirt and a fleece; add mitten shells
  • 0 - 10°F: the same as above: add heavy mittens & liners; Balaclava.
  • Less than 0°F: Slumberjack mummy bag with arm and leg cutouts.
When To Run
Thanks to the axial tilt, winter running is also about coping with the darkness. Darkness is a motivation killer: who wants to get up in the morning when it's both cold and dark, or trudge out in the evening darkness when the day is nearly done? Mentally preparing yourself for darkness can overcome the lethargy. Edit: And as Munsy will tell you, go out before eating, as your stomach will never have a chance to settle before your favorite TV show comes on. Once you get going outside, your drive will kick in. Next, because of the darkness, you've got to wear protective clothing. Get some press-on reflective strips for $3 from your local sports store and iron them to a long sleeve outer layer. A $15-$20 reflective vest is always a good choice. A blinky light also works. Just let others know where you are.

Where to Run
I avoid the sidewalk because it's usually a mess of packed snow, frozen footprints and icy dog-bombs. So if you're gonna run in the winter, your best bet is to run on the street. In fact, I run on the street year round due to the camber of the sidewalk. I recommend running down the center line because of this camber on the road. However, street running requires picking a plowed, non-busy route. Neighborhood roads are the best. Run against traffic and if it's tight, cautiously hop onto the sidewalk if necessary. A one or two mile route is really all you need as you can repeat it as often as you like. Here's a great example for you, Munsy.

Speed Work
Now if you're really nuts, you've done some amount of steady slow burning runs, you can incorporate some speed work into it. The Omaha Running Club Calendar is a good source for published races. For example, the BRC/OTR Lake Manawa Series 10K races at Lake Manawa are held on every other Saturday at 10:00 AM. They cost $3 to enter. Yes, $3. Medals are given to the top five in each ten year age group, so you're practically guaranteed some hardware, even if it's a no frills ribbonless jobby from Taiwan. Still, it's a race, and that alone is enough to ramp up the heart rate and get the adrenaline flowing. Every mile of the course is marked, your time is called out at the finish, and race results are immediate. Nobody sticks around for chit-chat due to the cold, so you can get in and out pretty quickly. Typically, about 10-20 people show up and they're real psychos from all walks and ages of life. On any give Saturday, you can be out-kicking a prepubescent boy for your PR and the win, or have your ass handed to you by a 60 year old female. It's also a good way to get some steady tempo runs in as it provides ample motivation.

Overall, be safe and cautious.

Afterwards, have a cup of hot chocolate or head down to Hardees for one of these.

You've earned it.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Sunday's Run

Another snowy run this weekend. Will the trails be plowed by then?

Place: Standing Bear Lake (132nd & Fort)
Time: 3:00 PM
Distance: 7 - 9 miles

One loop around Standing Bear Lake is 4.3 miles. We can double it or improvise. Invite others.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Primer to Riding the MAT Bus

10) Get Route and Schedule
It's available online and MAT will even send you free publications of the routes.

9) Be Early
Expect to wait at the bus stop. It's usually only a few extra minutes, but be especially prepared for long delays on Fridays, holidays, extreme weather and when Hanna Montona is in town.

8) Know the Fare
$1.25 for regular, $1.50 for express. A book of ten rides for $12.50 and an unlimited monthly pass for $40 can be purchased at local grocers. Transfers are a dime. If paying with cash, have exact change.

7) No Food or Drink
Also no radios, boom-boxes, weapons, etc...

6) Before Sitting, Look Down
Watch for bodily fluids and other bio-hazards. It's complement is rule #3, and both are dandy to keep in mind when riding the MAT.

5) Pay Attention
Just don't act like it. Among other things, you'll find out who's sleeping with who, how much it costs to get a handgun out of hoc and who's up for parole.

4) Don't Fall Asleep.

3) Did You Drop Anything?
I left a pair of black leather gloves on the bus once. I loved those gloves. I called MAT to check the lost and found the next morning. To my utter shock that there's actually a decent person in the world, I was told that a pair of gloves had been turned in from the same bus. I nearly dropped everything to rush over and pick them up. Thankfully, my wits quickly returned. I asked to have them described. The voice at the other end replied, "They're bright neon-green and it appears as though the finger tips have been burned off."

2) Avoid Eye Contact
I nearly got the crap kicked out of me while riding the St. Louis BI-State system back in high school. One day, while seated in the back, I was just as happy as I could be --it was a warm spring day, the tulips were blooming and all of that wholesome goodness was in the air. My eyes drifted then settled on another passenger. I noticed that his mouth was moving rapidly, but I couldn't hear him over the roar of the diesel engine. As the driver let off the accelerator, I asked, "What did you say?" Again, lips flapping. I couldn't make out a single word. The bus coasted as I said, "I didn't catch that - whatcha say?" White noise and lots of teeth was his response. Communication was futile. Finally, somebody pulled the stop cord. As the bus slowed, I asked one final time, "What was that?!" The bus stopped. It was quiet enough to hear the birds singing outside. At that same moment, he opened his mouth and delivered these words: "DON'T YOU F***ING LOOK AT ME YOU MUTHA ..." and so on so forth. Man, he liked to use the F word. A lot. He went on and on, cussing me out while the other passengers feigned indifference. Fortunately, he exited the bus at that stop. I can still recall how my heart was pounding while my friend Todd shook from contained laughter next to me. As the bus shut its doors with an exaggerated sigh, I vowed to never look another passenger in the eye.

1) Fear the Bus Driver
The driver is the sole authority on the bus and what they so goes. They are like a god over their domain. Respect that and everything will be fine. So while a friendly greeting to them is nice, it's not necessary. Just make sure to have the exact fare ready and move along. Never question their judgment.

I arrived at the stop early one day this past spring. It was a good thing I did because I almost missed catching the bus. The impatient look on the driver's face struck deep fear in my heart. I averted her eyes by looking down and quickly paying the fare. Most days, the driver waits until you're seated before accelerating. Not this day - she hammered that accelerator as soon as I had paid. The bus lurched and jerked as it weaved in and out of parked cars and raced to the next stop. Finally, we came to a squealing halt in front of an unmarked stop: Petit's Bakery on 16th and Cass. We all watched as she leaped out the door and scurried inside. And there she stood at the end of a line ten-deep, waiting for glazed donuts. I could have walked the remaining four blocks to work faster than the bus would now deliver me, but I was too paralyzed by fear to move. There was no way I was going to disrespect the driver by stepping off the bus. She returned five minutes later and climbed into her seat. The door whooshed shut. An uncomfortable silence and blank stares followed. With a mouthful of glazed donut, she then called out, "NEXT STOP, 16TH AND CAPITOL!" A master of her domain.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Distance

Saint Ralph is an fantastic film for runners and non-runners alike. A great story line and a cool soundtrack, you should put this on your Netflix rental.

Back in 2004, I set my eyes on running the Omaha Corporate Cup 10K at the sub 40 minute mark. Having never been a runner -- no high school cross-country nor track -- I had no idea what this meant.

To my running resume credit, I had completed two 10Ks in my entire life, once after a night of drinking in college and another much later in life in 2001. Both were sub 50 minute efforts. How hard could it be to train and drop ten minutes over six miles? So I decided that I was going to do this one right. You know, with a proper training regimen and all. And with six weeks to gun time, I laced up and began training.

It was an impressive goal. I ran four days a week, three to six miles each time. I read an article on the benefits of interval workouts and managed to squeeze in two track sessions in the final couple of weeks before the race. I threw up after one of them.

On the morning of the race, I mentally recalled the vigors of my last six weeks and decided that I was indeed ready to go for the sub 40 minute mark. I managed to hold the pace for the first 5K, and then ... *BOOM* ... out of gas, I struggled in at 44:07. I was pissed.

It's such folly to look back upon it now.

But the dejection I felt from that let-down fueled the next step of my training. No longer a seasonal runner, I got the bug and started running as a habit.

A couple months after that race, another UP runner invited me to join his group in a nine mile outing in what was known locally as "The Distance."

At the time, all I heard were the words: distance and nine miles. Nine miles? You could have told me we were running to Wisconsin and back. Till that date, the furthest I'd gone in a single run was just over six miles. Somehow, nine seemed so incredibly far.

We went at a moderate pace and the miles ticked off with good company. The hill climb into Rosenblatt wasn't too bad. I then learned where the South Omaha bridge was before discovering the mysterious levee and its beer-toting hermits that lived alongside in shanties. Finally, the maddening steep grade of the Hickory hill was a preposterous way to end a nine mile run, but the sense of accomplishment upon its ascent was thrilling.

I'm sure I was tired afterwards, but just doing it simply unraveled the ball of mental knots that I preconceived it to be. Oh yeah, the endorphin rush of my first runners' high also did a lot in forgetting about the pains endured.

Running the Distance was an important milestone in my running life. What I saw previously unattainable was shattered and freed me to be no longer bound by my own limits. I began incorporating long distance runs into a weekly workout plan and sensibly added to the distance in small increments. I learned the paradox that to get faster sometimes meant to go slower. Most of all, running the distance converted me from a casual runner to an avid enthusiast in my own mind. I think that's what mattered most.

So what's your "distance"? Is it 5 miles? A 10K? A 7.42 mile run (and a 172 lb 36" TV being carried upstairs afterwards), 10 miles? A Marathon or an ultra? A particular race?

For me, it is defined as the distance you think that you would have never covered before. It the one that defines yourself as a runner.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

7.42 mile run: Good job Munson!

You too, Bryan, but you're already a runner so it doesn't count as much. Sorry. File a complaint.

So we did 7.42 miles today at Lake Zorinsky. By the time we started at 3:30, it was 15°F, but Bryan would tell you that the wind chill made it feel 9. It really didn't feel that bad. In fact, I'd contend that 30°F on a bike feels a lot worse.

It was a nice long run around the entire lake with good commentary and occasional grunts about firing the snow plow guy from Bryan to help pass the time. Thanks for the run, guys. We should do it again soon.

By the Numbers
Total elapsed time: 1:05
Avg pace: 8:45/mi
Heart rate: 133 avg; high 158
Calories: 740

Oh yeah, Mike got the bonus workout of helping me lug a 36" Toshiba television upstairs at my house afterwards. No, this wasn't a flat panel job; it was the old school, fully crystal tube weighing about 200 lbs. Seriously--Thanks Munson!!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Miracle Max

I've always been a quick healer. What are our liabilities?
   --The Princess Bride

After a four hour nap that was like a sleep with the dead, the fever broke early last night. My appetite has since returned, the headache is gone and things are staying down. I'd say that I'm about 95%. Staying fit certainly has its benefits when it comes to recovery.

So perhaps a Sunday afternoon run is in the works? Nothing strenuous, but just a nice little cold feet shake out. Tentatively, let's plan on:

Time: Sunday 3:00PM
Place: Lake Zorinski boat dock
Distance 4 - 7 miles

Sunday calls for a high of 18°F after 3-5 inches of snow on Saturday, so layer it up. In this kind of weather, I usually wear three long sleeve tech shirts, a tuke, gloves and liners, tights, warm up pants & wool socks. I have a pair of yaktrax pros, but I'd like to keep to plowed trails and hopefully will not need them.

Thursday, December 6, 2007


That's WKRP's Johnny Fever.

Today, it was about the other one: 101 F and chills. Oh yeah, that feels good.

I haven't been listening to the clues of my body lately. Today I paid for that.

Over the past few days, the only thing odd was that I had a zero count on going number two. Going 48 hours without is very unusual for this altogether regular guy. Then this morning, all of a sudden it all wants to come out. And it did. Quite fast, in fact.

Whatever. So I shrugged it off and preceded to go to my Thursday morning plyometrics class. Bad idea #1. I didn't even consider re-hydrating. Bad idea #2. Twenty minutes into the class, my heart rate is a roller coaster of highs during floor drills and plummeting-lows during recoveries. Then the other signs of dehydration started manifesting: over heating, dryness and chills.

I pulled the plug on the workout and began the cool down phase. First good idea. My hope was to keep from barfing, but my stomach was making other plans. A quick glance in the mirror revealed a very pasty complexion, telling me that vomiting was not a question of if, but when.

The next ten minutes was spent in the locker room toilet emptying what remained in my gut. Oh yeah, I saw Lanny in the locker right after. He asked me, What are you training for? The tone in which he asked could have been my imagination, but it's quite possible that he heard the fracas in the stall and wondered what kind of nut I am. We had a nice little chat in a post-barfing surreal kind of way.

The rest of today has been on and off bouts of the chills and low grade fever. In conclusion, I must have picked up some sort of virus a few days ago that resulted in dehydration today. The aftermath of the day was all me.

Needless to say, Saturday's snow-run might have to be postponed.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Once A Runner

More heart rate monitor training today, this time during a recovery run.

Time: 4:30 PM
Temp: 23 F with 13 mph winds and 23 mph gusts
Wore: Knit hat, two long sleeve tech shirts, reflective vest, gloves, liners & running pants.

Warmup: 1 mi easy w/Emmy.
Main: 6.2 miles; 52 minutes

  • 45 minutes in zone (75% max)
  • Max during today's workout=155 bpm
  • 612 calories burned
  • 8:23 mi pace avg

  • Comments
    Emmy dropped a pretty big log 1/2 mile into it, slowing us both down as I had to scoop & carry. Bet I look pretty stoopid running with a bag of dog shit flopping around. Looped around and dropped Emmy off at mile one to continue.

    Today's run was a moderate 6 miles. My goal was to keep the heart rate between 70% and 80% max. After yesterday, this felt easy. In fact, it took discipline to keep the heart rate below 80% max when climbing any hill.

    Tomorrow's plan: AM weight lifting legs with goal to become stronger at turning the big chain ring. Easy run at lunch.

    Saturday, December 1, 2007

    I, Locutus

    I'm being assimilated.

    Being clipped into the Cervelo P2sL with a cyclo-computer and wearing a heart rate monitor, I couldn't help but feeling assimilated today during a 60 minute interval workout on the trainer.

    And of course, the BORG was present: the G.Borg's perceived exertion and pain scales.
    My first contact with the Borg RPE came during a six session stress test conducted by my friend and fellow triathlete Jorge at UNO last winter. It was quite an experience. Stationery bike, lactic acid blood sticks, and a darth vadar mask to capture my V02 max. I felt like crying at the end of each of those workouts. But I got good metrics from it. Thanks Jorge!

    Today's encounter with the Borg wasn't much better.

    Today's Trainer Workout
    10 minutes spin warmup
    6 x 3 minutes at 90% max BPM w/3 minute recovery at < 65%
    10 minutes spin cooldown

    Watching Ironman Hawaii during workout was helpful
    Having the fan behind me was a bad idea. Pits really stink.
    I think that I've got Picard's nose & I hear voices in my head from time to time. Maybe I'll go for the bald look...