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.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Summer Running

Running in hot weather can be a real challenge for runners young and old. I have done quite a bit of training over the years in hot and humid conditions. For years I ran around noon in Hartford, CT. This time of day when the temperatures are elevated really tests your strength and ability to run in such conditions. The city is always hotter than the surrounding areas too. What I've learned from these experiences is that I need water on the run especially when I run longer than 5 miles. Now eating and drinking while running can be hard for some people's stomach and digestive system. I've been at this for a long time and I even get the burps from time to time. But I'm convinced that water will help you train better and allow you to go faster.

On real hot days, we used to run along the Connecticut River where there are some water fountains you can stop at and get a quick drink. I prefer to carry my own water though. There are some insulated bottles that will help keep your water somewhat cool. But even if you don't have one, warm water is better than nothing.  So before you head out for a run on a particularly hot and humid day, make sure to take some water or some other water/liquid mix with you. Also, there are all kinds of bottle carrier belts that you can buy so that you don't have to carry your bottle in your hand. Find one that works for you and practice using it. You won't regret it.

One other thing to keep in mind on hot, humid running days. Don't be afraid to slow down or to run a little less distance. These types of conditions are obviously not ideal. But with some practice, you just might find that you are able to run much better in these conditions in races than many of the other runners.  


Monday, July 3, 2017

Zero Prostate Cancer Run/Walk-Hartford, CT

On Saturday, June 10, 2017, I ran the Zero Prostate Cancer 5K in Hartford, CT. I hadn't been feeling up to running races for a while now. It's been more of a motivational thing with me than a physical thing. All last year I didn't run a single race until the Manchester Road Race on Thanksgivings Day and I never got really going until the 2 mile mile mark without a seeding card. That's my fault because I didn't really care if I ran a race before then. To get a seeding card, you have to run at least one other race in a qualifying time, which I felt I could have with a little effort.

Anyway, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer back in 2007. After cancer treatment that same year, I have been doing well from that standpoint. My wife started asking me if I wanted to do this Prostate Cancer run three weeks prior, but I didn't get the hint. Much of the money raised from the event goes towards prostate cancer research and outreach. After some encouragement from her, I agreed to do it and she even signed me up using her smartphone. She wasn't about to leave that up to me.
So with some hesitation on my part, we drove into Hartford and parked near the new Dunkin Donuts Park, which is where the race started and finished. When I went inside to get my race number, it was a real family environment in there. There were mothers, fathers, grandmas, grandpas, brothers, sisters, and of course, a number of children. They even announced the survivors that were running/walking in the race beforehand.
Many people had on the light blue running shirts or braclets that were given to participants.

The weather wasn't exactly ideal for running though. It was in the 80's and fairly humid. But I didn't let that bother me too much. Perhaps 32 years of running in Hartford in all types of weather conditions from my office at CTDEEP helped me. I started out conservatively even though I had to run only 3.1 miles because of the weather. I was in about the top 50 out of around 120 runners at the 2 mile mark, but picked up the pace. I started picking runners off and entered the stadium in right field (the warning track) at a good pace. The race course followed the warning track into left field and then finished adjacent to third base. 

I ended up running 26:28 and finished third in my division (55-59), the third survivor, and 31th overall.
Not too bad considering all things. I was given two nice glass mugs for my third places finishes. This was the slowest 5K race I have ever done by over 2 minutes, but that was okay. It was for a good cause with real significance for me and my family. After all, I'm still trying to get that motivation back to compete. Perhaps this will be the catalyst to get me going again.


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Where's Ken Been?

It's been almost 2 years since I have posted on this blog. I have had to deal with a work change and a few setbacks, which have lead to my loss of interest. First, I injured my right hamstring training in November of 2014. I then injured my shoulder. I was surprised at the level of pain I was experiencing with the shoulder issue. I had to suspend my running for almost 7 months because of both injuries. I finally had surgery to repair my shoulder in October, 2015. Then my dad passed away this June, 2016 after a number of months of suffering.

For therapy, I resumed running in January of 2016. It's been a very slow process of regaining fitness, especially with the extra 10+ lbs I gained. I'm back up to running about 20-25 miles per week. It's at a slow pace though even when I push myself. I'm hopeful that in time I'll be able to get down into the 6:45-7:15 minutes per mile range for shorter distances.

I actually did the Manchester Thanksgiving Day road race last November, without a seeding card. That was the only race I did last year and as a result, I wasn't able to avoid all the human traffic. My time was around 43 minutes, which was significantly slower than I have ever run that race. It's very difficult to run a good time without a seeding card because of the crowd that is in front of you. I was finally able to stretch my legs a bit around the 2 mile mark. So my goal for next year is to get a seeding card and actually run a good race.

Regarding my running friends, we were able to get together again at our local watering hole in mid-December, 2016 to remember Dave Cherico and  Doug Zimmerman, several of our running buddies that are no longer with us. I wasn't able to get a photo of the group like in past years, but we had I good turnout. I was able to see a number of my former coworkers since my retirement in early 2013. Don't worry. I'm still working though, just not for the state.


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.


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!


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.

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.