A blessing and a curse

During marathon taper time I tend to stare at my navel a bit more; it keeps me from running and walking too much.
One of our long time local runners posted this:


This was someone who was a 17 minute 5K runner as a middle age adult who became a 21 minute 5K runner as a 70 year old. He then suffered a horrible accident (almost killed by a car), could barely walk afterward…and is now running..8 minute miles while in his 70’s!!! To the rest of us: he is remarkable.

But he admits to being aware of other people gaining on him at races.

It happens.

My running buddy was an 8:30-9 minute per mile runner while in her 40’s. She now takes about 12-13 minutes per mile in her early 70’s. Privately, she has admitted that the smaller races are no longer fun for her as she ends up alone. I remind her that, for her age, she is a gazelle.

And yeah, where I was never a good athlete, it is happening to me too.


Now there are many reasons for this. Age, of course, lessens our abilities. Injuries do too; I had knee surgery in 2010. But, in my case, age lessens my ability to train; I simply can’t run as much as I used to. It takes a mental toll too; I don’t want to push as hard in training as I once did. So, as one ages, natural ability plays a more important role and I am not really built like a runner. That is one reason why my lifting and swimming has not taken as big of a hit as my running, though those have gone down too. My “11 reps with body weight” in the bench press has become 4.

But there is a blessing too. First note that I am wearing the same shirt in both photos. And, while it takes me longer to finish a set distance, I am still out there.

And a “good race” still has be doing a “happy dance” afterward..though these-a-days, my “happy dance” comes from breaking 25 minutes in a 5K (did that in 2014) instead of 20 minutes (did that in 1998).

And I still love my morning workouts; I love being on the roads as the sun is coming up and seeing that change in the sky.

October 8, 2015 Posted by | running | | Leave a comment

Flu shot and ..

Yes, I got my flu shot. My left arm aches.

Workout (9 am): weights then 3 miles of running, 10 minutes of cycling.

Weights: 5 sets of 10 pull ups (strong), rotator cuff
bench press: 10 x 135, 3 x 185 (didn’t push for another rep), 7 x 170, then 10 x 135 incline (very easy)
military presses: 3 sets of 10 x 40 standing.
rows: 2 sets of 10 x 60 each arm, 10 x 110 machine.

Run: 11:06 mile on the treadmill, followed by 2 miles (16 laps of lane 2) in 17:43 (8:48, 8:45), 10 minutes on the bike.

One retired engineering professor even timed my laps and wondered if I was walking or running (it looks similar).

While I was going, a (staff? faculty?) 30-40 something year old woman was on her phone, talking and not really doing anything. She was on it when I was on the treadmill and still on it when I got off of my bike. I wonder if she bragged about being “in the gym” for X minutes.

Being in the gym doesn’t mean that much (in terms of exercise anyway) unless you are, well, actually working out while you are there.

October 8, 2015 Posted by | running, weight training, workouts | | Leave a comment

On getting older: yin/yang

Workout notes 5.1 Cornstalk hill run to Markin, then 10K on the bike (22:51) indoors.

The weather was PERFECT for running…I couldn’t have ordered up better weather. JUST PERFECT..nice and cool.

When I was heading up Maplewood the BU men’s track team was starting out….easily. Needless to say they were out of sight within 100 meters or so. When I shuffled past the coaches I joked about “catching up to them” and they laughed.

Later, while on Parkside, some young woman blasted past me at perhaps 6:30 mpm or so. OMG, I just hated myself for being so slow. :-) (note: my “easy” run pace varies from 11 to 12 minutes per mile these-a-days)

But on the way back from the gym (after the stationary cycling and a bit of yoga), some other young woman was coming up the sidewalk staring at her “smart phone” and was completely startled as she looked up and saw me (I was on the other side of a very wide sidewalk). So, I suppose I can handle not being that age. :-) Still, I wouldn’t mind getting my muscle back, but I don’t think that it works that way.

Speaking of aging: there are two highly successful research scientists are retiring. I found their accounts to be very interesting and well worth reading. Of course, their careers are very different from mine as they are research scientists and I earn my living by teaching; research, while fun and rewarding, is of secondary importance in my job.

Larry Moran
Jerry Coyne

Yes, I have a (very) modest publication record and I have no intentions of stopping or to quit learning. But while I don’t have lab work, I completely understand the frustration of investing a ton of energy and time into something only to come up empty.

October 1, 2015 Posted by | running | , , | Leave a comment

Intellectual and Emotional Potpourri

Workout notes
First weights (7:10 am):

pull ups: 10, 10, 15, 10, 10 (the set of 15 was tough)
rotator cuff exercises
bench press: 10 x 135, 4 x 185, 7 x 170 (good set)
incline press: 10 x 135 (easy at the start, challenging at the end)
military press: 2 of 10 x 40 dumbbell, standing, 10 x 100 (each arm) machine
rows: 2 of 10 x 60 single arm dumbbell, 10 x 110 machine.

That took about 45 minutes. Then running:
11:06 treadmill mile
track: 17:09 2 mile (lane 2: 8:41/8:28) Not all out, but it wasn’t easy either. Was it really 14 years ago this was my marathon pace?

stationary cycle: 16 minutes (4 miles) to help the knees.

I left the workout feeling pretty good. This took me to 8:45

Other topics
Jerry Coyne: is retiring. I found this post interesting as it describes the life of a research professor. He also gives advice to the next generation of research scientists.

He also has some things to say about the attitude of always trying to keep the students comfortable; evidently the current generation of students are more easily traumatized.

I can say this: yes, when I was their age, we whined about similar things. The difference is that administration (and professors) merely told us to “grow up and quit whining”. I admit that, at times, it is easy to take the “easy way out” and not challenge the students to find the best in themselves.

Capitalism and morality Jonathan Haidt suggests that capitalism has contributed positively to our morality in that we now have the luxury of considering certain moral issues. I think that this fits in well with some of the stuff that Jared Diamond wrote about (society reaching a stage where people have time to think)

But yes, capitalism (especially, lightly regulated capitalism) has its dark side too.

Curb Your Enthusiasm Here are some interesting tidbits about that show. Note: one episode helped someone (correctly) beat an unjust murder charge!

Hillary Clinton when a politician has had a long career, they will make mistakes and change their mind on some issues. Now the Iraq war: I wanted my Senator to vote no, and Senator Durbin did.

But on gay marriage: many of us changed our minds; remember in 2004, both President Bush and Senator Kerry were for civil unions. I came to marriage equality long before then, but there was a time in my early adulthood where I was “anti-gay” just, well, that is what “good people were.” But as I grew up and learned more..I found that my heart was never in it. This became clear to me when I saw some gay men kissing and sitting on each other’s lap; I just couldn’t get upset about it though I felt I was “supposed to”. In fact, I thought “well, they won’t compete for my female date” and that was that. So the gay rights thing switched for me in my early 20’s (1980’s).

Keystone pipeline: I was ambivalent at first; after all, oil has to be transported somehow, and the potential for accidents was always there. Reading the science and engineering articles on it turned me against it, but I needed to see the evidence.

Anyway, Hillary Clinton, while a better politician than Bernie Sanders, isn’t the politician that Bill Clinton was or that Barack Obama is. But she is thoughtful and that sometimes confuses people.

Here is a video of her discussing the problems with a program that gives public money vouchers for private religious schools. Of course, her points flew right over the heads of the dimwitted wingnuts who posted the video, but excellent points they remain.

September 30, 2015 Posted by | hillary clinton, politics, politics/social, running, weight training | , , | Leave a comment

Prior to the game

Well, isn’t that a hoot: this is my “2 free tickets” game, and I can’t find anyone who even wants to use the ticket my wife isn’t using! Well, at least I have “dates” for the next three games (Nebraska, Wisconsin, Ohio State)

But I did take advantage of the late start to get in a local 5K run; this is the Tippet 5K that I’ve done several times.

The course is slightly long (3.16-3.18 or so); that makes up for last weekend’s 3.03 “5K”. The weather was perfect; cool and sunny.

Time: 26:54 (I was 16:54 at the turn just past 2 miles) Place: 12 out of 35. Funny how I place higher in races where there are more alumni than students. I felt good though I had no chance at catching my two “faculty” targets; and a young guy and another faculty guy got me at the end.

Here are previous times on the same course. This trend is…troubling. :-)

October 2011 26:21
April 2012 25:41
October 2012 25:45
May 2013 26:12
September 2014 26:38
September 2015: 26:54

September 26, 2015 Posted by | running, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Learning to adapt to age, attitudes, etc.

Workout notes: untimed 4 mile Cornstalk classic run, then weights.

Run: untimed. The weather was beautiful; almost as if I ordered it. While in Bradley Park I saw two young women coming my way as I ran down the Dog Park hill. I moved way over (it is a wide road) and they smiled. Then as I turned to go up the hill to upper Bradley Park, I saw them ahead of me. I thought “OMG I am slow; they did 1 mile in the time it took me to do 400 meters? ” Then I realized they didn’t do the full lower loop; they are faster than I am but not THAT much faster. :-)

Then going along Parkside, I saw a fellow gray-hair that I’ve been running “against” since 1997 or so. We greeted each other, and, the difference between us is still about the same (he is maybe 1-2 minutes faster in the 5K…just as he was in 1997). We both have been reduced to “shuffling” during our runs. But we are still out there moving forward…at least I think that I am moving forward; not so sure of that at times. :-)

And yes, the traffic on Columbia Terrace and Parkside has gone up dramatically since the city made Main Street all but impossible to drive during morning rush hour. So that formerly “low traffic quiet neighborhood street” is no longer that. My guess is that the Uplands will no longer be a nice neighborhood in 10-15 years…if it takes that long.

pull ups: 10, 10, 10, 15, 5/5 (change grip) for 55 total. This was my first set of 15 in a long, long time. And these were decent reps…but I had to dig deep to get that set.
rotator cuff
bench press: 10 x 135, 4 x 185 (hips down!) 7 x 170
incline press: 10 x 135 (tough)
military: 3 sets of 10 x 40 dumbbell standing, 9 x 100 (each arm) machine, 1 x 70 to get 10 reps
rows: 3 sets of 10 x 60 dumbbell (each arm)
pull down: 2 sets of 10 x 160 traditional, 10 x 150 other machine
yoga (back, headstand)

Dealing with age
When it comes to running, I have to remember that 15 years ago, an “easy” 4 mile run was 32-36 minutes. Now it is 44-48; it takes me 1/3 longer to do the same distance. I have to factor that in when it comes to considering how long to go.

As far as my 5K times; they are now roughly what my 4 mile times used to be, and I remember thinking that the 4 mile was really more similar to a 10K than a 5K. So if I want to do well on the 5K, I will probably have to train the way I did for my old 10Ks.

And forget that nonsense about 5K being “95 percent VO2 max”. That is true for a trained athlete who will finish between 13-18 minutes, but not remotely true for me.

Effort Still, there is a time and place to “go for it”, though those times have to be more spread out. Today, I really wanted to see if I could do 15 pull ups in one set. And I could, but it did cost me; the next set was harder than normal. And I told myself “I have to WANT this”; I often don’t want to push myself.

Discipline I am going to a football game this Saturday and thought about doing a marathon on Sunday “as training”. That would be, well, dumb.
First of all, I know that once I pin a race number on and get with the crowd, I’ll go hard to try to keep contact. I am not rested and tapered either. So, the result would be: bad finish time, and exhaustion, 3 weeks prior to my “goal”.

10-15 years ago…well, I couldn’t really get away with it then either, but now the effect would be greater. I remember my days as a runner: I ran a hot weather 3:55 at Quad Cities 3 weeks prior to my goal at Chicago. At Chicago, I blew up at mile 20 and limped in at 3:46. Walking is easier on the body running, but that was 17 years ago. I recover more slowly now.

So, I’ll do a longish 5+ hour walk at a more relaxed pace; I KNOW that I can finish come race day. I’ve already hit 22 in training. I am aiming to walk that race HARD; aim for 5:30-5:40. And yes, that isn’t my old sub 5 hour (done once, in 2002) or even 5:15 (2009). If I think that my goal race will be easy because my finish time is likely to be slower than my old ones, I am kidding myself. It is still going to be tough, and I had better be ready mentally, emotionally and physically.

September 23, 2015 Posted by | Peoria, Peoria/local, running, weight training | , , | Leave a comment

Giving up too soon: Hilltop 5K

Weather was nice and cool.

This was the start of the classic course, with a slightly longer Cooper st. segment; I was about 16:47 at 2 (by the map). I didn’t know this though; when I got back on Bradley going out toward Robbie’s gas station, I got discouraged and walked just a bit..then it took me 2 tries to get back with it. I let eyefuls of spandex get away.

Going back I realized that I wasn’t as bad off as I thought; I simply am not used to the intensity. So at the turn, I was a bit surprised at what I saw: 26:35. But then I used the map tool to measure:


THAT made more sense; this is like 26:36 for a 3 miler, or about 27:15 for the 5K. So I’ll record that.

Afterward I had a talk with a PT professor; he told me that a 5K uses several body systems, all of which degrade with time. Weight training uses mostly strength; hence a lesser decay.

Afterward I helped Barbara with her routine.

September 19, 2015 Posted by | running | , , | Leave a comment

easy run and ARRGH!!

Easy Cornstalk 6.2 mile run (out and back plus lower loop) then 10K on the exercise bike in 22:51. The bike helps my knees.

Actuarial mathematics is killing me. The concepts are not that hard (at least as yet) and many of the concepts ARE interesting… but the calculations are dreadfully tedious and unenlightening.

I can see why actuaries get paid a lot of money; doing this for a living would drive me to…well…miss the job that I have now.

September 17, 2015 Posted by | running | , | Leave a comment

When you curse a little too loudly…

Workout notes: 7 mile run (The Cornstalk 5.1 plus a 1.4 loop and a .6 loop), followed by 3 miles of walking on the track (lane 2): 12:33, 12:21, 12:20 (37:15) and stretching.
Given that I was a bit stiff at the start, it was an ok workout.

But while running the 1.4 loop, I was startled by a car…(it had been car free up to then) and I cursed…but one of those curses that was intended to be under my breath but wasn’t. And the driver was going slowly (doing nothing wrong) and had his window down. He started to slow down and look…

I sheepishly turned the corner to make my intended 1.2 mile loop into a 1.4 and include a hill. The driver wasn’t scary at all…some old guy but I don’t want to get into a fight when I am in the wrong. I was ready to apologize if I saw the guy again but I didn’t.

September 15, 2015 Posted by | running, walking | | Leave a comment

Touchdowns, home runs and hockey goals..

Workout notes: 3.1 mile run in 31:29. It was cool. If i wanted to run more, I would have had to have woken up earlier and I want to be rested for tomorrow.

Last night: Bradley Hockey Club game. In all honesty, I don’t understand hockey very well at all. But I do know that BU was down to Eastern Illinois 7-4 at the start of the 3’rd period..but rallied to take an 8-7 lead. But Eastern scored with 17 seconds left to tie it. 5 minutes of overtime lead to nothing, so in the “shoot out”, BU won 1-0 and so won the game 9-8.


Then after running, I drove to watch Illinois play Western Kentucky in football. There weren’t that many there (37,000 was the official count, but I’d say 30K was more like it)




Illinois rolled to a 10-0 first quarter lead, 30-0 half time lead and won 44-0. Total yards: 500 to 141, and Western didn’t get it first first down until 2:30 was left in the first half; they had only 5 total. The Illinois defense got 2 interceptions and blocked a punt for a touchdown (2’nd quarter; up the gut rush). And the kicker nailed 3 first half field goals, including one just before the first half ended.


Western simply couldn’t cover the Illini receivers.



The downsides:

1. Illinois fumbled the ball away three times in the 3’rd quarter …in a row. There was also one interception in the first quarter.
2. Western actually shut down the Illinois running game for the first 3 quarters. That is a worrisome sign.

But the coach appeared to work on the running game in the 2’nd half.

After the the first unit finished a long touchdown drive which started in the 3’rd quarter and ended on the first play of the 4’th, the second unit took over and looked reasonably sharp; for the second week in a row the second unit got a long touchdown drive.

But the defense: well, other than having tackles for losses every play, it is hard for a defense to have done better.

BUT: the opposition has been weak compared to “power 5” standards. Next week’s game against North Carolina will give us much more information. THAT is the kind of team that Illinois is expected to compete against.

Then I drove home, picked up Barbara and went to the Chiefs playoff game against Cedar Rapids. Both teams scored upset wins in their respective opening series.


Cedar Rapids won 3-2; the game was tied 1-1 when in the top of the 7’th inning, the Chiefs pitcher tired. He gave up a hit and then a monster home run by a former Bradley player, and then another double. So now it was 3-1 which is how it stayed; The Cedar Rapids pitcher was throwing wicked stuff and struck out 9 over 8 innings. But he too was tiring and so they went with a closer in the bottom of the ninth.

The Chiefs lead off with a triple and a single to make it 3-2. But that is how it ended; the reliever struck out the next 3 batters; that was 12 K’s for the Cedar Rapids pitchers.

September 13, 2015 Posted by | baseball, college football, football, running | , | Leave a comment


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