Read/Write/Run

Hi! My name is Ken. I'm going to periodically write about running, writing, and a number of other topics. Please feel free to read my posts and provide your comments. If you have a question about any topic, leave a message and I'll try to help you get the information you're looking for. Thanks for stopping by. I hope to see you again soon.



Friday, April 17, 2015

Running in Boston



I wrote a post a year and a half ago about running along the Charles River while staying at a Double Tree Hotel right next to the river. I enjoyed several runs that weekend, but had no idea that before long I would be working in Boston and running along the Charles on a regular basis.

Since the end of December of 2014, I have been running in Boston twice per week. At first, I ran around Boston Common to avoid all of the traffic and to get more familiar with the area. I did find several runners that work in my building who were nice enough to take me on some exploratory jaunts around Boston. Then I was fortunate enough to meet a local group of runners that go by the name of the Boston River Rats and joined them for some runs too.

I'm still trying to get back in shape after missing time with a hamstring injury and gaining some weight over the winter. The winter in Boston was bad because the area received twice as much snow as I got near home. But the good thing about it was that the walking trails/sidewalks/paths were cleared fairly quickly, which allowed runners to do their thing without risking their lives running the roads in Boston. With the high snow banks around Boston, it was even more dangerous than usual.

I'm not running fast by any means, but I'm starting to feel better with every run. Before long, I'm hopeful that I'll be running in the 7's again or faster. I'm doing about 18-20 miles a week now and want to increase this mileage to 20-25 miles per week this spring. Perhaps I'll add an additional day of running each week, from 3 to 4 times to accomplish this goal.

Today I ran about 5.5 miles along the Charles and saw a number of runners with Boston Marathon jackets on. Patriots Day and the Boston Marathon is this coming Monday so many people have already arrived for the marathon. I ran for a bit along the Charles with a woman from New Mexico who is running the marathon. I envy these runners who have qualified for the race or who are running for a cause. This race is on my bucket list, but it's been over ten years since I've done that distance in a race.

I wish all of the runners in Boston good luck on Monday  and hope the Red Sox also win that day. I will not be in Boston on Monday, but plan to run in Hartford with some old friends since I get the day off from work. Perhaps next year I'll give it a go and at least spend the day in Boston.

Ken 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Annual Holiday Run

This year our friend Jim did the honors and coordinated the holiday run. At first, it looked like I wouldn't be able to attend because the initial date of the celebratory run was December 22nd, the day I was scheduled to start my new job. Fortunately the date was changed to Friday, December 19th and I was able to attend.

We met in the basement of my old office, exchanged hellos and changed for the run. I have a lot of good memories of our almost daily lunchtime runs and previous annual runs. The locations have changed over the years, but the atmosphere doesn't for the most part. We've stopped at numerous local watering holes on these days, some establishments west, north, and east of the office. Lately the Arch Street Tavern has been the spot of these celebrations because it's conveniently located less than a half a mile from the office and on one of our many running courses.

We always toast our lost friends too. Dave C and Doug Z were both close friends that left this world way too soon. We stopped off at Doug's rock on the run and then toasted the two of them at Arch Street as usual. This year was a particularly good year, with fourteen people showing up. Not everyone ran the course though. Tony walked it. Dave, Chris, Mike, and Scott walked down to Arch to take part. Mark, Mark, Jim, Carolyn, Carla, Steve, Karen, Jim and I ran a short 3.7 mile course that circled back to Constitution Plaza. I really like this course because you end up running north along the Connecticut River.

Mark's going to send me several pictures from the celebration to incorporate into this post. I usually bring my digital camera, but decided not to in favor of my cellphone, which I forgot to grab on our way out. Luckily Mark carries this phone on every run so he stepped up.

So as the last days of 2014 tick off the clock, I'd like to wish everyone a happy holiday season and a peaceful and successful new year. SALUTE!

Ken
    

Friday, November 28, 2014

An Exercise in Humility

Running for me this year has had its ups and downs like most people. I had steadily increased my mileage each week from around 23 early in the year to 33 in late summer. Along the way, I tripped over a spike on the rail trail, pulled my right calf muscle and wrenched my back.  Yet I was losing weight and getting stronger and faster despite these setbacks.
As Thanksgiving approached this year, I started to gear up for the Manchester Road Race, which I have run about 30 times. My new group of running friends, the Amigos, had been running the road race course every Wednesday morning for three weeks leading up to the week of November 17th. That cold, rainy Monday morning, myself and two other Amigos (Mike and Bob W.) ran 10 miles on the rail trail. It was what I called  a "character building" day because it was a fairly nasty day to be out running. Towards the end of the run, Bob W, who hadn't run the day before like I had, started to pick up the pace. I was feeling a bit tight and tired and found myself dropping back every few minutes on the return trip from our out and back 10 miler. I should have known better to slow down and let them go. But I didn't and by the time we finished, my right hamstring was hurting. Two days later, we lined up at the start line of the Manchester Road Race course for one last practice run with the group. I could still feel my hamstring tightness in spite of some foam rolling I had done of the area earlier in the morning. So I took it real easy and did the course in just over 40 minutes, 3 minutes and 15 seconds slower than my time the week of  November 10th.

I ran two more times that week, an easy 7 on Friday morning and then 5.5 on Sunday with my two labs, Calvin and Cassie. I was planning to run on 3 or 4 miles on Monday, the week of Thanksgiving, but I got a part time engineering job with a consultant and didn't get a chance to run. On Tuesday, I helped move my mother into her new senior apartment in Glastonbury and this process further stressed my legs. Seven and a half hours later, the move was completed, but my right hamstring pain was still there. That night I foam rolled my legs, especially my hamstrings and I felt better. I had my race number and my seeding card and decided to give it a go, despite my hamstring issues.
Thanksgiving morning, I got a late start. As a result, I had to park a mile away from the start and jog over. I figured it would be a good way to loosen up my legs and test my right hamstring. I didn't feel any better once I reached the gate and tried stretching for a while in the under 40 minutes corral. It helped somewhat.  When the National Anthem was being sung just prior to the start of the race, the PA system stopped working so everyone finished up the anthem, which was cool. I don't think that ever happened before at this race.

My goal was to run the same mile splits I had done when I ran under 37 minutes two weeks earlier for as long as I could. I had run through injuries before and figured I could adjust my stride while maintaining a good pace. This lasted to the top of the hill, just past the two mile mark. A 7:24 first mile, followed by a 8:58 second mile was all I had in me. At this point, I was only 14 seconds behind my faster practice run time. That's when the pain started to get me. Instead of hitting 23:40 at the three mile mark, as I had planned, I crossed that marker in 24:25, 45 seconds slower than planned. My fourth mile was even worse, instead of 31:15, I reached that point in around 32:50. As I rounded the corner on Main Street, I almost had to stop, as the hamstring pain was shooting up my right leg into my right buttock. The down hill hurt, but that last little up hill section before the finish line on Main Street was worse. I was kind of dragging and shuffling my right leg. I looked to my right and saw one of my fellow Amigos, Steve Tolman walking. I called out Steve, but I don't think he heard me. He then took off like a rocket and finished 15 seconds ahead of me. Keep in mind that I was only about 20 yards from the finish.
So I was able to finish in 39:33 by my watch, having run the last 2.75 miles in a considerable amount of pain. Oh, well. Maybe next year I can actually stay healthy by using better judgment. Running can sure be humbling.
Ken

Friday, October 31, 2014

What Does "RACE READY" Really Mean?

I've been running for about 30 years now. I've heard and used the term "race ready"  for a while. My definition is simple. I need to have some distance( 8  to 10 milers), run a sufficient number of runs at a pace near race pace, and stay healthy. Being an engineer by profession, I have a tendency to over analyze things. It's probably because of all the math and science classes I had to take in college. Anyway, I just went back over my running logs recently and noted that I have only run 6 (three 5Ks) races in the last three and a half years. That includes 3 Manchester road races (4.75 miles) too, where it's hard to run your best with 10,000 or so runners. The Manchester seeding cards help, but there are just too many people that jump in on Main Street or climb over the barriers at the starting line. That's a very small number of races to truly become "race ready" in my book.

I noted two other things with my running lately. One, I seem to have lost 30 seconds per mile in the last 3 or so years racing. Also, I haven't been training at my expected race pace too often. Hence my limited races times haven't been good.  So where do I go from here. During this period, I've done some weekly speedwork on the trails, but I just don't think that the pace is quick enough. I could go to the track, but I've been lazy about it. Also, I switched my running shoes about  three years ago from Nike to Merrell (minimalist shoes). I don't get the bounce from the Merrell shoes so I wonder if this could be a factor.
 
I'm going to try switching back to Nike for a while to see if there is any difference. I'll keep you posted as to my progress. I know I'm getting older, but I haven't given up trying to run faster. I plan on running another 5K race in a week or so. Will I be "race ready"? I hope so. 

Ken

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Road Versus Trail Running

I've always run on trails and roads each week. But I predominantly ran on roads for many years. I made a point to hit the trails every weekend at least once to get a trail run in.

Since leaving my job, I've had more time to run over the past year or so. Now the tide has turned. I mostly run on rail trails near my house. This brings up an interesting dilemma. What's the right balance between both surfaces?
 
Trails provide a much softer surface and therefore are kinder to your body. However, technical trails, with stones, roots and all types of things to trip on, can put a runner at risk, especially if that person has any historical injuries. Rail trails are typically much more manicured and have far less trip hazards.
 
Road running, on asphalt, provides a nice flat surface with little to trip on, aside from curbs and garbage people toss out their windows onto the streets.  But running on a hard surface beats the body up and can lead to stress fractures and other injuries because it is so rigid.
 
Most races are on roads. My opinion is that to race well you need to train on roads at least part of the time. What is the right percentage of road/trail to run on each week to stay healthy, in shape and injury free?

What's your opinion? Feel free to elaborate on your reasoning, whether it's from experience or just how you feel.

Thanks for sharing.

Ken

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Florida Time

In May, we went on vacation to Fort Myers Beach, Florida. It was another great time and the weather was sunny the whole ten days we were there.

As usual, I tried to get in a run every other day. I ended up running just four days though, for a total of 27 miles. Last year, I developed a blister on my right big toe from running in the sand so I ran the majority of the time along Estero Boulevard. I made sure to start running before 8:00 am to avoid the hotter, more humid weather.

Take a look at a few of the pictures I took while we were down there.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Boston Marathon 2014

Get ready folks! This is the year that the U.S. wins the Boston Marathon. And I' m not just talking about the men's race, but the women's race too. I don't care how fast those Kenyans and Ethiopians have run recently. They're going to be looking at a U.S. runner's soles at the end.