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.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Detailed Running Log Notes

One of the most important ways to improve your running is trying new techniques or running plans to accomplish your goals. Many people have published books and articles with detailed plans and purport that their particular plan will help you. But you never get any real detailed data about the actual workouts that they did. Well, I have decided to share some of my actual running log sheets with anyone who cares to see this very specific information. I also plan to include races times too so you can gauge the type of progress I made during that time. I hope this helps someone.

My next post will include my information from back in 1999 when I was 42 years old. I plan to periodically share this type of information. And if you find something in my log notes that helps you, please let me know.

I'm curious to know what other people think about this subject. Perhaps I'm making a bigger deal out of this than I should be. Please weigh in. Thanks in advance for your input.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

As the year draws to a close.....

It's that time of year for our small running group to get together to celebrate the year and toast friends, both still with us and those not. We reconvened our little celebration at the Arch Street Tavern in town after a short run.

This year has had its ups and down for our little group. One of our friend's Chris V. suffered a serious leg injury while playing soccer that has had him out of work for over a month. Tony B. has had to deal with the news from his doctor that one of his knees is so badly damaged that he has to stop running almost entirely. Of course, we continue to miss both Dave C.and Doug Z. We were lucky though because Doug's wife, Bet, was able to make our celebration. She's on the far right side of the photo. A number of other people were missing because of other commitments, but Carla, on the far left side of the photo, is a new recruit so that was good. Also, I forgot to invite Jared, one of our former running interns. Sorry Jared!

I want to extend a hearty thank you all my fellow bloggers that follow me and share their thoughts and running experiences. I really enjoy these communications. Now it's time to reassess things as we roll towards the start of 2012. Just remember that old saying, "there's always next year" if perhaps you came up short of certain goals, whether running related or not. I'm an optimist so I still think I can rekindle some of that lost speed from years ago, but it gets harder with every year.

I hope everyone has a very happy holiday season and new year!

Take care and don't be a stranger. 


Monday, November 28, 2011

The 75th Running of the Thanksgiving Day Manchester Road Race

There's only one race that has been a tradition for me over the many years I have been running and that's the Manchester Road Race on Thanksgiving Day each year. The race course is only twelve minutes away from where I live plus it's in an area I used to faithfully train in.
The day before the race this year, Wednesday, I reported to work and took a rest day in preparation for the race. Around 10:00 am, I ran into one of my co-workers who said that I was in a picture in the morning Hartford Courant from last year's race. Now with the 15,000 or so people that run, it's difficult to get in, never mind make out images in most of these newspaper photos. Shortly thereafter, I walked down to our lunchroom to see if there was a copy of the paper.  It took a little searching, but I was able to find the half page with the race photo. It only took me several seconds to find myself since I was one of about sixty people that were easily identifiable. I'm the guy wearing gray and white on the left side of the picture two people from the bottom. Well, only half of my body is showing, but you can see my head.

The next day I made the mistake of leaving later than usual for the race and paid for it. By the time I had reached East Center Street, the path I usually follow to parking right behind Main Street near the start/finish line had been blocked off. I had to pass by Main Street and park about a 1/2 mile away. This all lead to me having to gently push my way to the starting area so that I could use my special pass to get into the under 40 minute area. There must have been over 300 people blocking my way. I finally got into the fenced in starting area with three minutes to spare. There's three areas that faster runners can get access to: under 30, 30 to 35, and under 40, but you need an access card. You just need to run a qualifying time the previous year of the race or a qualifying time that year as listed on the race website to get one. The problem is that security is lacking and people often climb over the gate without an access card.

As I'm waiting for the gun to go off, this guy lifts his three kids (all looked under the age of 8) over the gate and then climbs over himself. He didn't even have a card. This is the type of behavior that's dangerous because the faster runners aren't expecting to have to dodge little kids. When I said something to him about it, he gave me a dirty look. To be honest, I passed about another thirty or so people that looked like they couldn't run a quarter mile, never mind 4.75. It took me about 22 seconds to get to the starting line and another 1.5 minutes before I could run unimpeded. I have to take some of the blame though because of my late arrival. Normally I'm able to get right up to the 30 minutes line and when they drop  the partition just before the race starts, I usually end up closer to the line.

This is a loop course, with the second mile all up hill. My goal was to run the first two miles in around 15:30 and I was able to do that. I unfortunately slowed down in mile 3 and ended up there at 23:00 minutes, 30 seconds slower than planned. I finished fairly strong, but ended up finishing in 35:30, about 22 seconds slower than last year. I just wasn't race ready. This is only the second race for me this year. I had planned to do 2 or 3 others in September, but my wildfire assignment put an end to that.

Did anyone else run a turkey day race or another one this past weekend? Let me know. I hope everyone had a good holiday.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Seven Random Facts Quest-For Certain Bloggers

I'm asking five fellow bloggers to participate in this quest. There's my list. This is just another topic to feature in a blog post. I think the more obscure the facts, the more interesting in my book. Have fun with it-I did. Hopefully, you haven't done this yet. If you have, sorry about that.
Jessica-Jessica's marathon training (in transition)
Lily-Run Lily Run
J.J.-A Better Reflection
Brent-Vaudiophile over at RunFatbrentRun
Davina-DvB's Fitness & Food Adventures


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Seven Random Facts

I recently was tapped by Becki aka Supergirl over at "The Middle Miles" to create a blog post which includes seven random facts about myself. I also have to reach out to invite a number of other bloggers to join this quest and do the same. So here goes:
R.F.#1: I don't like broccoli. Years ago, I had an abscessed tooth that left a taste in my mouth that tasted like broccoli. Enough said.

R.F.#2: I used to live in Pennsylvania when I was real young.

R.F.#3: I've had the same black Casio watch for over 15 years. You know, the one with all those little buttons for calculating your race pace and mileage. I even use it at work.
R.F.#4: I've run the Manchester Thanksgiving Day Road Race over 30 times.

R.F.# 5: I'm into science fiction movies and books.

R.F.# 6: I played three varsity sports in high school, basketball, baseball, and soccer. Baseball was my favorite sport.

R.F. # 7: Sorry guys, I now use an artificial Christmas tree.

I'll include a list of at least five other bloggers to share the fun with later on this week in another post.
Good night.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Week With No Power

Parts of New England two weekends ago got hammered by a snowstorm with almost all of the leaves still left on the trees. Normally we don't get snow in October. I think the last time it happened in CT was back in the late 1950's or early 1960's  and then it was only several inches. Parts of CT got as much as 20 inches. The result was literally thousands of trees and branches came down with all that extra weight and lead to the largest power failure I've ever seen in my life. Some of the trees split just like a banana being peeled. Incredible.
We were without power for about seven days, which wasn't much fun. But at least I had a wood stove, which helped keep the temperature in the house in the sixties during the day and fifties at night. No home phone or cable made it challenging too.
I was able to go to work most of the week because my office in Hartford had power and showers in the basement. I was especially happy about that. I continued to run 3 to 4 days a week during that period. The snow actually melted very quickly so it was the wires and tree limbs all over the roads and people's house and properties that presented the big challenge to restoration. As I write this post, there are still hundreds of people without power and it's going on 12 days so that totally sucks.
Here are a few pictures from my neighborhood which illustrate the damage. Let me know if you got caught in this storm. Also, I'm interested to see who has been the longest number of days without power in their life. Give me some detail. I'm interested. My record is 7 days. Any challengers?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Run Two Bridges-Hartford Style

One advantage of having paths and trails along a river in your area is that it makes running more enjoyable. My small running group refer to courses along and over the Connecticut River as "Two bridges". Now we have a total of four bridges that cross the river in Hartford and all within a 2 mile stretch, which makes it easy to vary the run. Yesterday I ran our "Two bridges w/o Arch".  I'm not referring to the Arch located in  Bushnell Park near the start and finish of the Hartford Marathon though. The Arch is short for Arch Street, which is a short city street that has one of our favorite bars on it. And the name of the bar is the ..... Arch Street Tavern.  Go figure.

So the term "two bridges" means just that. We cross over two bridges on these runs. I crossed over the Charter Oak bridge to East Hartford first and returned to Hartford over the Buckley bridge. This course takes you past the Colt Building in the beginning, and towards the end of the five mile loop, past the Hartford Steam Company and under Constitution Plaza before returning to my office along Bushnell Park. Check out some of these photos I took along the way.

The picture with the close-up railing in it is from the Charter Oak bridge looking east before crossing it, while the one looking down a flight of stairs is from the same bridge looking north towards Constitution Plaza and the Convention Center. The picture that is mostly water is from the Buckley bridge looking south towards the Founders bridge and the Science Center (building looks like a ship on the right side).

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sunday's Six Mile Trail Run

The rail trail was really busy this past Sunday morning. I usually can get a spot out of the 25 or so parking spaces, but they were all occupied. I settled for a nice spot facing back towards my house on the side of the road. As I walked up to do a few stretches before beginning my run, I noticed that the UCONN women's cross country team was training on the trail.  A minute or so before starting my run, they took off in two groups, each with about ten runners. Now I wasn't about to keep pace with these ladies, but I used them as motivation to keep my pace up and kept them in sight until the three mile turnaround point  for me. I stopped for less than a minute and just before I started back one of the groups passed me on the way back. There was a female coach riding a mountain bike along side them. They had about a forty second lead on me as I started back. I tried to close the gap and started to do so running around a 7:50 pace for mile four. I could see that the coach every so often would look back and then-boom- they increased the pace. This must have happened at least five times over the last three miles. Perhaps I'm full of myself, but I had the feeling that the coach was using me as motivation for her runners. "If you ladies don't pick the pace up, that old guy back there is going to catch us. Let's get going!"

Anyway, I continued to push until I was running around a 7:18 pace. I covered the last three miles in 22:57, which is a 7:39 pace. I think they ended up less than a minute ahead of me. I was happy with the run. 

What types of things do you do to motivate yourself during training runs?


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cross-Training? I've Got Something For You.

I just spent the last several weeks with the Connecticut Wildland Fire Crew working on the Pagami Creek Fire in Northern Minnesota. I was part of a twenty person team that worked with various federal and other state resources to help contain this large fire involving some 95,000+ acres of forest.

I didn't get a chance to run, but we had to carry in canoes and paddle through three lakes to get to our spike-out camp. Then we had to canoe in each day to the fire to work. The terrain, although not hilly like out west, presented many challenges with slippery rocks, bogs, moss-hidden holes and the usual roots, rocks, and fallen and leaning trees. Fortunately, no one got injured despite a few close calls.

I lost about 8 pounds while out there. We had to cook and clean each and every day, while we received supplies via a plane drop-off system. 

I'm still somewhat sore, especially my legs, but hope to resume my running tomorrow.
I hope everyone has been well during my absence.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Great Running Weather in September

September is one of my favorite months to run. It has days that are moderately hot and humid, but the slightly cooler weather has started to appear, which makes for some great running and racing. I took a walk outside my office today and took several pictures of Bushnell Park in Hartford, CT to show you the area I start all my weekday runs from.   Ninety-nine percent of the time, I head for the Connecticut River approximately a quarter of a mile from my office due east. There is a long biking/walking paved path that is fun to run on. It's decorated with a number of Lincoln statues that add to the overall experience.  Off the paved path, there are dirt trails that travel through Riverside Park in Hartford. You can even cross the Connecticut River via a railroad bridge just north of the Buckley Bridge, which Route 84 crosses over the river. There are four bridges that we cross back and forth over the river on our various running courses. The other two bridges are the Charter Oak Bridge and the Founders Bridge.

So if you're ever in Hartford, head down to the Connecticut River and you'll find some great places to explore. Has anyone been to Hartford?


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Earthquakes, Hurricanes, and Flooding, Oh My!

The last 10 or so days has brought some of nature's fury to Eastern United States. Just last week, an earthquake in Virginia rocked states up to New England. Then Hurricane Irene brought with it 60-70 miles per hour wind gusts along with over ten inches of rain around Connecticut and surrounding states on its way north, causing significant power outages, property damage and some loss of life this past weekend.

Needless to say, I had to alter by  running plans for the weekend, since I usually do at least a 7 mile run on a nearby rail trail. Instead of this workout, I cross trained over the weekend by preparing for the storm by stocking up on supplies, moving outside furniture, and securing property so as to prevent it from blowing away or smashing my windows. It involved much more lifting than running although I did run back and forth in the yard doing some of this work for over an hour.

At about 7:00 am Sunday morning, my neighborhood lost all power, telephone and cable. Now I'm not your typical couch potato, but it's not much fun without these services, especially when you go to take a shower. Let's just say that this type of shower experience is like jumping into the freezing ocean in the winter. Finally around 4:00 pm today, we got our power and utilities back. Yeah! I was beginning to smell a little ripe.

I'm going to add a few pictures to this post in a few days so stay tuned. One of the pictures is a large tree branch that landed on a storage shed in my backyard.

I hope all is well with everyone. Drop me a message if you want to share some Hurricane Irene stories.



Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Need For Speed

Now let's be honest. Who hasn't said at least once recently "I'd like to see if I can get faster". I have read a number of books and articles about this topic and things can get a little confusing. Should I go to the track and do 400's or 200's? Perhaps I need to increase my cadence when I run aka my number of strides per minute. There's an article by former U.S. Olympian marathoner, Ed Eyestone about doing just that in the September 2011 edition of Runner's World. Some say do hill workouts for a period of time because they're like "intervals in disguise". I do pickups on some of my 5 mile loops because it allows me to do some faster running without going to the track. I typically do a 1-3-5-3-1-2-2 Fartlek circuit, where I warm up with about 4-5 minutes of easy running and then 1 minute fast followed by 1 minute easy. I repeat this process but increase the fast time to 3 and 5 minutes before backing down the fast times 3, 1, 2, and 2. This fits in perfectly with my 5 mile courses.  In Hal Higdon's Book entitled "RUNFAST", he talks about doing flexibility drills to improve speed like 1) high knees and 2) fast feet to improve. High knees requires you to run in place, gradually moving forward while lifting your kness high and landing on the balls of your feet. Fast feet requires a similar motion as high knees except you try to move your feet very fast without the high knee lift.

If you have been looking for ideas how to get faster, try using one or more of these techniques. Let me know what works or doesn't work for you. Just remember that speed training will tire you out so work in easier runs or rest periods after doing these sessions.

Good luck!


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Running in the Heat

The country has been experiencing some very high temperatures over the past 6 days. Here on the east coast, the thermometers hit a sunny, humid 103 degrees F yesterday. Given these conditions, please keep the following things in mind when you run outdoors:

1) Make sure to drink liquids prior to working out and don't hesitate to carry a bottle of water with you on the run.
2) Try to run early in the morning or later at night when it's cooler.

3) Make sure to carry some form of identification with you. I have a ROAD ID band. You could run with your driver's license too.

4) Run courses that provide some shade. I like to run along the Connecticut River because the trees act like a canopy.

5) Try to run with someone else and ease back on the pace. If you had planned to do a hard run that day, reschedule that run. You'll never be able to perform because of the conditions so don't worry about that.

6) If you end up running alone, let someone know where you're going. 

7) If you'd rather not carry water, run a course that you can stop at water fountains along the way or plan to stop at convenience stores to hydrate.

8) Always be heads up. People driving around where you're running could be less than alert because of the weather too.

9) Put sunscreen on, wear light colored clothes, sunglasses and a hat.

I hope this helps. Please be safe out there!


Friday, July 15, 2011

Match Game For The Runner

Complete the below sentence fragment with whatever words make sense to you.  Feel free to elaborate on your response.

You should never ............... the day before a race.

I'll let you know several examples of my responses after a few days.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I'm a runner.

I'd be a millionaire now if I had a nickel for each time someone questioned me about why I run or made some comment about it being bad for me. Quite frankly, I don't care what those people think. You see, there's something deep down inside this body of mine that knows it's right for me. You might say it sort of defines part of me.
I didn't realize this until I was out of high school. I decided after graduation that since my high school sporting days were over (baseball, basketball, and soccer), I needed to find something to satisfy my competitive spirit.
The 1976 Montreal Olympics were going on that summer and I found myself rooting for American athletes like Bruce Jenner and Frank Shorter. That summer I started to run and have been doing it ever since.

Some people say that it's just the endorphins talking when someone expresses a passion for running. I disagree with that statement and here's why. I believe there's something inside every person that drives them to do certain things. I just happen to be wired this particular way and now running is part of who I am. Running isn't just about competing and the feeling of satisfaction I get from those efforts. It has also become one of my primary stress coping mechanisms too.

Tell me about how you got started running, whether it was yesterday or years ago. When did you realize that running was an important part of who you are? I'm interested.  

Sunday, June 26, 2011

While Running, Beware of Scat.... And Mountain Lions

About a week ago, a mountain lion was hit and killed by a SUV in Milford, CT. The strange thing is that the nearest population of such animals is in Florida. The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection has said that there aren't any such creatures in this area.  They are fairly certain that the killed lion was a captive one, not a native animal. They even sent samples of animal droppings, scat, to be analyzed to confirm some sitings and DNA to help identify where the creature might have originated from.

As someone who enjoys trail running and the outdoors, such an incident has me reassessing how aware I am of my surroundings while out in the woods. I know there are cases of people being attacked and even killed by mountain lions out west. So the next time you're out hiking or trail running, enjoy yourself, but remember to be heads up, don't step in scat, and avoid confrontations with mountain lions.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Race Recovery

The speed in which you recovery from a race depends on a number of factors like distance, course difficulty, race conditions, your conditioning and age, to name a few. One rule of thumb is you need one day of rest for each race mile. So after running the Woodstock Memorial Day 10k (6.2 miles), I should have rested at least 6.2 days before doing another hard workout. The race was on a Monday morning so by Sunday afternoon I should have been okay.
I decided to do a little experiment though to see if I could get away with a shorter recovery. On Tuesday I didn't run. On Wednesday I did an easy 5 miles, followed by a rest day on Thursday. On Friday I tried to do a hard 5 mile workout. Although I felt fairly good, my time was about 75 seconds slower than I expected. I then rested on Saturday and tried to run a medium paced 8 mile rail trail run on Sunday. But I was so tired that I only manged 7 miles at a slow pace. 
As I examined my logbook, it became apparent to me that the Friday hard workout was probably a mistake. I believe my Sunday workout would have been better if I had run easy on Friday. I plan to do some more experimenting with this rule of thumb. Perhaps I just had a bad day on Sunday, but I really doubt it.
I'm curious to know what other people do for race recoveries. Do you use some other rule of thumb? Thanks for sharing.


Monday, May 30, 2011

Woodstock Memorial 10k Race Report

At 6:00 am this morning, I woke up. This particular race has a special meaning because it's dedicated to the memory of a number of people, including a running friend of mine, Doug Zimmerman, that died last year. I normally run local races that are within 20 minutes or so of my house. This race was about 50 minutes away, but I really wanted to take part. So after rolling out of bed, I took a quick shower and got my stuff ready to go. I then fed my dog and cats. I ate a little something, which precipitated a bathroom stop.  Then I jumped in my car and headed out. 
Woodstock is located in Eastern Connecticut and there isn't any major highways near it so the route is primarily on country roads. One good thing about my trip was that everyone was headed in the opposite direction I was going, which made for easier traveling. As I head into the woods, it's as if I was entering into a real back-road type of area with a lot country charm. I characterize it as going back in time when life was simpler.

Race central was at Woodstock Academy, a nice little private high school. It actually reminded me of a small college campus, with a number of separate buildings. Race day registration sign-up and preregistered runners were able to park in an adjacent parking lot and walk a short distance to the registration desk located in the alumni center. As I entered the building, I was greeted by Doug's wife. She actually helped sponsor the race so the race shirt has Doug's name on it, which I was happy about. The race organizers had said that only the first 150 people to register would get shirts  so I was glad I was able to get there a little early to register.

After getting my race number and shirt, I headed back to my car and put my number on. Then I stretched for a while and went out for a short run around the school. The race course start and finish were about 100 yards apart. I was able to see the last mile from the school, which goes up about  420 feet. The last 200 yards of the race are downhill to the finish. A few minutes later, it started to rain and thunder, which caused the race committee to delay the race for 15-20 minutes. It's very unusual for a road race to be delayed, but it didn't bother me. The race started at 9:18 am and it was raining lightly at the time. It actually made for great race conditions because the temperature remained cooler.

I covered the first 3 miles in 22:06. I was holding back to conserve energy for the hilly end. Then the rolling hills started and I struggled a little.  By the time I hit the 5 mile mark, I felt better and I was closing in on a number of people ahead of me. The big hill started shortly thereafter and I steadily climbed, passing about  6 people. As I crested the hill, I picked up the pace and looked at my watch. It was about 47:30. I finished
as best as I could at 49:07, a 7:55 pace. This was my first race of the year. Hopefully, this gives me something I can build on.  After all, not all courses feature a hill as big as this one.   

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Nothing Like A Nice Hike In The Woods

Today was my annual wildland fire crew training day. Each year I get certified so that I can represent my state as a wildland firefighter. I've been to Montana, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho, Minnesota, Arizona and Nevada with the crew over the past ten years.

I normally run 5 to 6 miles at lunch on Tuesdays, but my schedule didn't allow  for it. So at about 6 :00 am this morning, I got ready and headed over to one of the state wilderness facilities to attend the training. The annual refresher training usually is 75 % class room and 25 % field work. Not today though. The crew management decided to make the training this year 95 % field work, which was fine with me. They actually integrated class room material out in the field too. We had to find an imaginary fire and then grid for hot spots, which were carefully placed white buttons in the middle of nowhere. My crew did well. We used a GPS to help with our navigation. We must have hiked about 3 or 4 miles through all types of terrain. It was a very good simulation of what we might find ourselves doing at a fire out west.
I got home about 5:00 pm. I then immediately threw on my running clothes and headed out the door for a 4 mile run. There's a nice nature trail about .5 miles from my house that follows a small river. The sun was shining as I made my way along a 2 mile mixed trail and then turned around. I covered the distance in 29:13. It was a good day for sure.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Simulating Race Conditions

Several posts ago, I mentioned my intention to run the Woodstock Memorial Day 10K.  Also, I said that this race was a difficult one because the last .9 miles goes 425 feet uphill. I've heard that the last hill has made people actually cry, not a good selling point for the race organizers. However, the first five miles are either downhill or flat so that's better. I grew up on top of a small mountain in Eastern Connecticut so what better place to look to simulate this course. It's close to where I live now and I know the area extremely well. I contemplated driving out to the race course yesterday though, but it's over 45 minutes away and in unfamiliar territory too.
With a somewhat rainy forecast for the morning in mind, I headed out to my old stomping grounds. It was only slightly drizzling when I parked my car and starting stretching. I planned to do two loops of a 2.5 mile course, which had 1.6 miles of downhill/flat running followed by a .9 mile long hill, up 320 feet. 
I started out at a nice steady pace and  was only out for about five minutes when the sky opened up. My shoes got immediately soaked and I had to avoid almost flash flood conditions as I tackled the first loop. I hit the 1.6 mile mark at 12:40, 7:55 pace. That was okay given the conditions and the fact that I wanted to run the first loop conservatively to see how I felt. Then I started the hill. The rain was still coming down fairly hard, but at least it had let up a little. I kept up a nice pace, leaning forward into the hill, as I pumped my arms back and forth. About a quarter of the way up, there are power lines that run perpendicular to the road. Many times growing up, I would see deer running along this area and across the road. I didn't see any deer today though. I crested the hill at the 2.5 mile mark at 21:49. I had covered the hill at a pace slightly slower than a 9:00 pace.    Not too bad, I thought, as I rounded the corner and started the second loop.
A quarter mile down the road, I pulled my arms out of my soaked tee shirt so that it was now just dangling from my neck. At the 4.0 mile mark, a car just in front of me splashed through a puddle and it sent water flying sixty feet in all directions. I was spared from this tidal wave because I hadn't reached that spot yet. As the person drove by, I couldn't help but smile and wave. It really didn't matter if I had gotten splashed though because I was already drenched. 

My smile turned serious shortly thereafter as I neared the hill for the second time. The rain had almost stopped, but there was a river of water running down the hill, which made it difficult for me to run along the side of the road.  I again started up the hill with a determined attitude. I wanted to at least do the second loop at the same speed if not faster. My feet did feel like I had ankle weights on though, which didn't help much. Let me be honest with you, I decided that I liked this hill or so I kept telling myself. I'm told that if you say something enough times, you start to believe it, even if it's not necessarily true. When I had almost reached the finish, I picked up my pace and worked to the finish. I hit my watch and stopped to catch my breath. After several seconds, I looked to see my time, which read  43:36. Wait a minute here. My first leg was run in 21:49. My math revealed that I had run the second loop in 21:47, a 2 second negative split. I can live with that.

Time with tell if this training will actually help me in the race. I plan on trying to do the same thing next Sunday except I might try to do the loop three times at a slightly faster pace. But who knows. Maybe I'll actually go out and run the actual course if I can find the time.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Finishing Fast

I've decided to do a little experiment with my running. I'm going to find a local race and before the actual race day, I'm going to run the last .5 to mile of it a number of times. I'm going to try and simulate race conditions by doing some  race pace running just prior to the workout. In the past, I have scouted race courses and even run the entire course twice, back to back, beforehand. I have always felt that it's helped my times. It's been a while since I've actually done this. I'll let you know how I do. Tell me if you do anything like this. I'm interested.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Running A Memorial Day Race?

As I mentioned earlier in several posts, my small running group lost a good friend and runner buddy last year, Doug Zimmerman. I just received information from his wife that this year's Woodstock Memorial Day 10k will be dedicated to the memory of him and others. I used to run a race a number of years ago on Memorial Day in Durham, CT. It's been too long a time since I've done one so this year I'm going to do the Woodstock 10k  in Doug's memory and several other people.
I understand that the Woodstock course is very hilly so I'm going to try to prepare for it. This is about as far away from a PR course as there is, but that's okay. It should be a lot of fun and I'll be getting a shirt with Doug's name on it too, which is great.

Does anyone out there plan to do a race on or around Memorial Day? I know it's sometimes difficult to do so because of family commitments etc.. but I was just wondering. Let me know what you're up to that weekend.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

March Madness-Spring Has Sprung

This winter has been particularly difficult here in the northeast. With the near record snowfall totals and the colder temperatures, the snow really piled up and lead to a number of roof collapses. Luckily, there were very few casualties. At last, the snow has almost totally melted away and spring is here. This is perhaps my favorite time of  year because of the return of warmer weather and the NCAA college basketball tournament.

March Madness brings with it an opportunity to play in the NCAA tournament and the possibility of  winning a national championship for college fans across the country. College basketball helps me get through the winter months for sure. As I write this post, I'm basking in the glory of my Alma mater, UCONN, making the Final Four tonight after beating a very good Arizona Wildcats team. I've also noticed that my runs have been a bit more energized lately because of UCONN's tremendous run, winning the Big East tournament with five consecutive wins in five days and their success in the NCAA tournament so far. Go Huskies!

All this running and basketball stuff brings me to a realization. We all need to find that motivation to set goals and to work hard to achieve them by using whatever things help get you cranked up. It doesn't matter whether it's a college basketball game, a winning lottery ticket, a new friend or a family accomplishment, to name a few,  just use it as motivation to help yourself and others. Positive energy can be very infectious and lead to success in many areas, both personal and professional. So over the next week or so, sit down and think about the things that make you feel good. Then channel that energy into a plan with goals for the year. I'm betting you'll surprise yourself this year.  Now let's go!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Funniest Thing Happened To Me One Day Running

Now I know everyone has had something funny happen to them while running. The question is are you brave enough to reveal it? If it's a little embarrassing, then go with a second story. But let me just say that it's healthy to be able to laugh at oneself. So with that introduction, I'll get things started. 

Back a number of years ago, I went for a 12 mile run with several friends. The course we traveled took us on paved roads, rail trail, technical trail, across a steel railroad bridge, by a waterfall, over several streams, by a landfill, through a swamp with raised wooden walkways, and on some paved bike paths. It's a really cool course that I discovered one day while following a new trail I found. Anyway, on our way back, I was busting one of my friends about something. We were about 4 miles from finishing when inexplicably he ducked his head down just in front of me. For a split second, I wondered and soon found out why. A "flock of  seagulls" had decided to let loose with some crap and somehow he saw it coming. I was too busy busting him. A large load of bird doo-doo splashed across the front of my nice red Nike tee shirt. Perhaps I had it coming. At least I didn't get it in the face, but it was close.

How about you? Can you top that mediocre story? I'm interested.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Learning From The Past

Almost all of my running friends keep a regular running/workout log. This information is especially helpful when working on future running plans. As March approaches, I plan on examining my old running logs dating back to 2007.  I actually put together a post not that long ago where I shared details about my interval work and compared data in 2007-2009 to 1997-1999.

Take a look back at your logs and see if you can use this information to have an even better 2011. If you don't keep a log, perhaps it's a good time to start one. Do whatever works for you. Some people prefer to write these out, while others do it electronically.

Good luck. I guarantee there's something in the information that will help you. Let me know what you found. I'm interested.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Streaking in my House?

This past weekend was Super Bowl Sunday. I had planned to do a 6 mile run on Saturday, but things got in the way. So around 10:00 am on Sunday, I set out for a nice six mile run, three miles out and back, through some nice residential areas. It was sunny and the temperature had warmed up to a toasty 39 degree F, as good as it gets for running and snow roof clearing this winter. 
I was surprised by the number of people out on their roofs removing snow though. It seemed like every other house I passed had someone doing it. I exchanged a few words with several people about how much fun it was removing snow and that I would be doing the same when I returned from my run. I still had to clear the front side of my roof, which had almost three feet of snow on it.
When I reached the turnaround point, I checked my watch and discovered I had covered the distance in  24:59, not too bad given that I had to slow down on a number of sections because of black ice and snow. My return trip was covered in 24:18, a nice 41 second negative split. I picked up the pace towards the end of the run, but not too much because of my soon-to-be roof clearing duties.As you can see from the pictures, there was a lot to remove. Luckily, my son joined in so it went faster.
Anyway, you're probably starting to wonder why I titled this post as I did. I'm getting to that albeit slowly. Five hours later and one lunch break, we finished removing all the snow. I let out a sigh of relief since another big storm was supposedly headed our way. As it turned out, it was a false alarm. That was okay because at least now I can see my roof. 
I finally headed to the shower to get cleaned up. We were going over to my niece's condo for a birthday /Super Bowl party at 5:00 pm so I needed to get moving and it was already 4:30 pm. Just before I jumped into the shower, I remembered that I left my towel out in the family room. So I headed down there, buck naked to retrieve it. My mother-in-law was going to drive with us over to the condo because there's little room to park. What I didn't know was that she showed up early and was talking to my wife in the family room as I casually strolled down to get my towel. As I entered the kitchen, which is just before the family room, I heard something that made me pause. Then I heard my wife say, "KENNN!" She could see me,but my mother-in-law was just out of sight, to my left. I quickly scurried back to the bathroom and got another towel. So one more step and I would have flashed her for sure, front and back. That was close!

Have you ever done anything like this? Was it a "near miss" or a "hit"? Just curious.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Maybe Florida Isn't Such A Bad Idea.

Today I did two workouts. I've been doing double workouts 1-2 times a week over the past month. First I do my run, which is usually 5 to 6 miles. Then later in the day, I've been doing a lifting workout. However, I'm not talking traditional weights. Here's the fun part. I've been shoveling snow-make that- a lot of snow. Now I've been using my neighbor's snowblower since mine crapped out. But with so much snow, I've had to shovel plenty too. Today I spent about 6 hours removing 3-4 feet of snow from my roof. The run seemed like nothing after that.
Now as I drove around town lately, I could see numerous people working on removing the almost 3.5 feet of snow accumulation on their roofs. Bad enough people have to remove snow from their driveways. I decided to join the rest about a week ago and roof raked around the edges of my house numerous times. We received news this past Friday that another significant storm is expected to hit us this coming Wednesday. With that in mind, I decided to climb onto my roof and get serious about this snow removal stuff. 

Recently I read about a number of people dying from falling off roofs while clearing snow. I didn't want to add to this statistic so I decided to take my time and chip away at things. I was a little nervous as I climbed off the ladder onto my roof . But once on my roof, I was okay. Don't get me wrong though. I was very careful as I traversed the roof knocking down snow. At least I didn't have to throw the snow over a 6 foot snow bank.
Anyway, I ran around my neighborhood today instead of the trail. I knew my second workout was coming so I decided to try and  take it easy. I did an out and back run for a total of 6 miles and negative split the run by almost 2 minutes. So much for taking it easy. Perhaps my new Nike Tri-S running shoes helped. As I write this post, my whole body aches. I don't plan on running tomorrow so that should help. There's still snow on my roof, but I'm not going to have time to tackle that tomorrow. At least I was able to remove all the snow on the back side of my house.
I hope everyone is doing okay. Please be careful if you find yourself needing to duplicate my feat. 


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Snowblower Blues

Now have you heard the news? I've got the snowblower blues. 
 I said have you heard the news? I've got the snowblower blues.
This ain't no winter ruse.  It's just not something I would do.
Now have you heard the news? I've got the snowblower blues.
All right have you heard the news? I've got the snowblower blu-whooos.
This thing went for a snooze. And I have no one to accuse.
Now have you heard the news? I've got the snowblower blues.
Oh no have you heard the news? I've got the snowblower blues.
Look at that oily ooze, all over my new fancy shoes.
Now have you heard the news? I've got the snowblower blues.
But wait you have heard the news. I've got the snowblower blu-whooos.
It's time to go peruse, that big brown box with all my booze. 
My snowblower just died today after we got 24 inches of snow.
I'm in a strange state of mind so I put together this little lyrical jazzy poem.
Luckily my neighbor let me use his snowblower. But damn those town snowplows.
They just dumped another four feet of snow at the end of my driveway tonight. Oh well.
Snowblower blues, again.  

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Snowshoe Shuffle

This past Sunday morning I headed over to my favorite rail trail, Hop River, to get in a workout. The only difference was that I brought along a pair of snowshoes my wife bought me last year. They had been hanging on the wall in my garage since last Christmas with the tag still on them. We had gotten about 9 inches of snow over the past three days so I figured why not give them a try.

Several weeks ago I ran about 5 miles on the very same trail with just running shoes after a snow storm. With the uneven surface caused by the snow and slippery conditions, I could feel the bottoms of my feet starting to ache a bit. Several years ago I developed plantar fasciitis and I'm pretty sure it stemmed from similar snowy runs. 

Anyway, I strapped these bad boys on and started off on what I had hoped would be a 7 mile run. With snowshoes, your foot is strapped in completely, but the rear of the snowshoe moves up and down making it unlikely you would spike yourself while running.  I was a little uncertain how they would feel and if they would give me problems running. Off I went at about 9:30 am after a quick stretching routine. It was still snowing lightly and there was a slight wind blowing. From the tracks on the trail, I could tell that a number of cross country skiers, walkers, dogs, rabbits, deer, squirrels, birds and chipmunks had been around. There was also one set of snowshoe tracks that seemed to drift back and forth on the trail as if that person had been hitting the brandy before or during their journey. I guess that person had to keep warm somehow. Ha Ha!

When running the last time on the snowy trail, I took advantage of the cross country tracks as much as possible because it made for easier running. But with the snowshoes on, I just blazed down the center of the trail, occasionally catching a packed down patch left by the dizzy snowshoe person. But I did occasionally bump the insides of my ankles with the side of the snowshoes. It hurt a little bit so I concentrated on running straight while trying to keep a certain distance between each snowshoe as I ran. I didn't bother using the poles that came with the snowshoes and I'm glad about that.  They would have gotten in the way. I'm sure there will be plenty of conditions when I'll end up using them.
At the 3.5 mile mark, my turnaround point, I stopped for a minute to check my snowshoe straps. It took me 40:49 to reach that spot.  An older gentleman cross country skiing stopped by for a minute to chat. He looked about 70 years old, but he was moving right along. I was impressed by him. I wish my dad was in that kind of shape.

A little while later, on the way back, guess what? My left foot snowshoe came loose so I had to stop. The strap around the heal had slipped off, making it impossible to run. After a quick adjustment, I continued my run. A minute later I thought I saw two deer run across the trail ahead of me.   Turns out it was two dogs out for a snowy walk with their owner. My nearsightedness had struck again. I've seen many deer in this area before on previous runs. I knew they were around there because of the tracks.

My return trip took me 39:28, a 1 minute and 21 second negative split. I was pleased with that time given the conditions.

I just checked the forecast for New England this week. It looks like we're going to get hit again with possibly up to 12-14 inches of snow on Wednesday. Looks like another chance to go snowshoeing. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

My Goals for 2011

After reading a number of blogs and seeing all those great goals people have put forward to accomplish, I wanted to do the same. I'm a firm believer that goal setting is a extremely important element to have in one's life to be happy. So with that in mind, I put forward my health and fitness goals for this year. I plan on developing goals for my writing blog, BRIANWOODS too.
                  KEN'S HEALTH AND FITNESS GOALS FOR 2011
1) Continue to run 3 to 4 times per week. 
2) Add in at least one cross-training aerobic exercise each week, for a total of 4 to 5 per week.
3) Buckle down and start a regular weight training program at least two times per week.
4) Incorporate more stretching into my daily routine, even if it's sitting at my desk at work or watching TV.
5) Commit this spring to going to the track weekly with those dedicated guys from Travelers.
6) Improve my eating habits, whether it be cutting down on going to fast food places or eating more fruit.
7) Here's a tough one-get a colonoscopy. Being healthy involves more than working out.
8) Slowly increase my weekend long run back to over ten miles, but continue to do it on the soft rail trail.
9)  Increase my weekly running mileage back up to 30 miles.
10) Run more races earlier in the year. I only did three races this year, all at the end of the year.
11) Read more books on running and physical fitness.
12) Help and encourage others to accomplish their fitness and health goals through this blog.
13) Find other electronic media to do the same as goal 12).
14) Continue to improve my writing by reading books about the subject as well as blogging more.
15) Make sure I keep my mid-year check-up appointment with my cancer surgeon-a no brainer.
16) Try to place in my age category (top three) at least twice this year in local races.
17) Remain positive despite negative influences.
18) Lose a little weight. I'd like to get back in the low 160's again rather than low 170's. 

What are your goals for this year? I'm curious so let me know here or direct me to your blog 2011 goals.
Thanks for stopping by.