Running: beginners; my beginning and how things have changed.

Workout notes: 3 easy walking miles. That’s it. Later today: more with the Building Steam group (probably about 3)

Yes, it is “two week vacation from training time” and instead of doing something useful, I’ll babble about running and endurance sports.

In today’s paper, I read about a “I’ve Decided” “first 5K” which is designed for beginners. How different things are now-a-days.

One big difference:


Yes, I started running in the “cotton” era; even nylon running shorts were new.

What drove home my age was a conversation I had with a beginning runner: there was some small country race that timed things the old fashioned way (pull tags) and the new runner didn’t understand how a race could be timed if there was no computer chip! Imagine a race in which someone had a stop watch, yelled your time, and YOU were responsible for writing your name and time on a numbered card that you were given as you crossed the finish line. The number on the card corresponded to your order as you crossed the finish line; the winner had card “1”, the tenth place finisher had card “10”, the 34’th had card “34”, etc.

Yes, I am a fan of the computer chip or the “chip in the race bib” system. I love that innovation. But I do remember a simpler time, and those old “card races” were fine with me.

But the difference I’ll talk about today was cultural.


This is me back in August, 1980. I was nearing the finish of the Severn River 10 mile run; I ran 1:21:45 (8xx out of 3000+ finishers). This was my first public race and I didn’t know what to expect.
But what I remember most was talking to the more experienced runners afterward; I remember one “old man” (30’s?) telling me “ok, that is an 8:10 mile; that will get you 3:3x in your first marathon”..and I thought that he was nuts!

But…well, that December I ran the Maryland Marathon in 3:33 (1054 out of 2229 males; the median male time was 3:36)

And to me, that was part of the fun. The same thing held with racewalking; I remember drawing some red cards during a race and having the other walkers give me tips. The same holds for swimming (getting tips from the better swimmers), weight lifting, ultra walking, etc.

But: that is part of my personality. Before my first race, I had run 1 mile time trials for football, 3 mile time trials for crew; I had gotten my butt kicked on the football field, wrestling mat and gotten hit in the mouth in boxing (PE). I expected anything worthwhile to be hard, and I expected to have a lot of improving to do. That is just how it rolled in that era.

But now: things are very different.

We have gyms that are devoted to, well, not making people feel bad or intimidated.

And so, the median times at road races have slowed a great deal. Some have conjectured that this is due to there being many more outlets for the more intense person (adventure races, trail races, ultra marathons, cross fit, off road triathlons etc.). In fact, in a recent New York Times, there was an article about a 200 mile “off road” bike race which said:

For the last 10 years, the hardiest of cyclists have been flocking to some of the country’s most remote roads to tackle 200 miles of gravel. The single-day race is called Dirty Kanza, a test of both mental and physical endurance, and part of an explosion of extreme-distance events testing the limits of the human body.

“Now, everybody’s grandmother runs a marathon,” said Rebecca Rusch, a professional cyclist whose affinity for extreme-distance races has earned her the nickname the Queen of Pain.

“I really think the point of endurance cycling is sort of that craving for a little bit of adventure,” said Rusch, who has won the women’s category of Dirty Kanza three straight years.

And they have a point.

Sure, *I* run the roads and I enjoy seeing how “fast” (less glacial?) I can “run” a 5K. But if I were just starting out, I am not so sure that running on the roads would have had much appeal. Much of what I see out there are somewhat dimply middle aged to old people waddling along at 10-14 minutes per mile and bragging about their “finishing bling”. As a young person, I would have thought “THAT PERSON is a road runner…YUCK…”

But the current atmosphere serves me well; I can enter most shorter races and finish “within the bell curve” and, in some larger marathons (or “walker friendly marathons”), even participate in a longer race without the sag wagon breathing down my neck. The current atmosphere in road races is much more accommodating to the older person with a stiff back and multiple knee operations. :-) But it might not be so attractive to the younger, fitter more intense person who wants to kick butt.

Ok, time to do end this post and do something more useful. :-)

May 27, 2015 Posted by | running, walking | , , | Leave a comment

Going longish…


The skinny: 20 miles in 4:59:18, with the final 4 miles (W. Peoria Heading course) being done in 58:49. I also added 6:14 in case my course was short (I sort of winged part of it) to get 5:05:32 for 20.4 miles.

Weather: overcast with periods of sun; 66 F with 65 percent humidity at the start; 80 F with 52 percent humidity at the finish; I beat the cold front with rain by about 10 minutes.

I did my best walking in the final hour; that might be because that was the flat part of the course.

For Peoria types:
Cooper to Laura (onto the BU campus) to Maplewood to Columbia Terrace. Then to Broadway all the way to McClure. Then to Bootz, Corrington, Bigelow to Forrest Hill (turn right). Take that to Central, go north to Peoria Heights (Marietta) to Prospect to Tower Park. Pit stop.
Then to Grandview, to East Grandview Dr., Harmon, Bishop Hill where I took the Rock Island trail (bikepath) all the way past Affina into Springdale Cemetery. Then to the bottom of Glenn Oak Park, up the hill, around the Park District Building, through the new parking lot along the sidewalk; exit, turn north on Prospect, turn left (West) on Forrest Hill….retrace the out part except when I got to Columbia Terrace, I kept going all the way to Parkside.

Then along Main/Western and turn onto Heading and go until it runs out. Then left, right to Swords, left, first left then down a few blocks and turn right to get to Rohmann, right on Sterling past the Cemetery and right on Kickapoo..through the brick street neighborhoods to Manor Parkway by the golf course..then to Waverly all the way to Rohmann then right to Western then right on Bradley ave. to Cooper.

It was a bit of everything; I saw other people on the course.

While it was my best long walk of the year and my best week since October 2014, it still wasn’t much. I have to be aware of that.

Along the way, I heard a call of a green frog (Rana Clamitans)

May 24, 2015 Posted by | frogs, walking | Leave a comment

anti-vax trolling and working out

Workout notes
Weights: pull ups (3 sets of 10)
Bench: 10 x 135, 3 x 180, 7 x 170 (rotator cuff)
incline: 10 x 140 (rotator cuff)
pull ups: 2 sets of 10
military: 10 x 85 standing, 8 x 85 standing, 10 x 100 (each arm) machine
pull downs: 2 sets of 10 x 160 traditional, 10 x 150 (other machine)
rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110 (machine)

Then an untimed 5.1 mile hilly walk outside (chilly again)

The anti-vax people keep a list of “known trolls” who attack their positions. I am on that list. Who knew? :-)

May 20, 2015 Posted by | walking, weight training | | Leave a comment

Mission accomplished: I know where the red wing blackbird nest is.

Today’s walk: 18.4 miles (just under 30 km) in 4:39; I was at 18 in 4:33 and added .4 miles to make sure I got over 18.

Weather: sort of muggy; 71 F, 84 percent humidity at the start; 80 F, 64 percent at the end. It started out overcast and then showered a few times…and had bright sun a few times…all in the same walk.


Route: up Maplewood to Columbia Terrace; Broadway to McClure to Sheridan, at which point I picked up the old Boredom course; which I followed to mile 7 (8 from the House; 2:02) I took the Bike Path (Rock Island; saw a deer there); I followed that route to old Woodruff High School (2:44), at which point I did 2 miles on the track (29:29; 4 laps in lane 2, 4 in lane 1 with a correction) then back (via the Goose Loop; 3:55 at Hooters) to finish in 4:33…but I was worried that it might not be 18 miles so I did a .4 mile loop (past Markin to Bradley Ave.) to get…it turns out..18.4. The map had my original route at 15.99 (without the 2 track miles).


The good: it wasn’t that difficult (and as slow as it was, it shouldn’t have been). This was my best since October 2014.
The bad: well, look at how slow it was; it took the track miles (near mile 11) to perk me up a bit.
The essential: every year, at about this time, the dreaded red winged blackbirds start nesting. There is usually one or two who attack and it is essential to find out where the aggressive one is. I found it:


It was sitting on a sign and attacked me as I went along the sidewalk. Next time: I cross a bit further up; I’ll have to wait for a big break in traffic and maybe run a bit. My goodness, I hate these things:

They are known for attacking:

Sometimes these nasty things merely escort you.

Other thing: well, I wanted to see how my body would hold up to heat. It was…ok; I’d give it a C+ today.

But…do I tray a “fun” 12 hour (goal: 50K hot, 60 km cool) or 24 hour (goal: 50 mile if hot; perhaps 100 km if cool…breaks/naps planned in) in 3 week’s time? I’ll make my decision after next week’s walk, which should be longer (maybe 90 minutes more?)

The reality is that while I stood up well to today’s walk, I felt is “oh so slightly” in the stomach and wonder what shape my stomach would have been given 2-3-4 more hot hours. My intensity was slightly too much to be sustainable.

May 17, 2015 Posted by | ultra, walking | , | Leave a comment

Trying to get the balance right

Well, last batch of final exams done, grades entered… :-)

I lifted weights and then walked 5 miles outside (Cornstalk course, untimed)


pull ups: 4 sets of 10 (rotator cuff, hip hikes)
bench: 10 x 135, 3 x 180, 7 x 170 (rotator cuff)
incline: 10 x 140
pull ups: 10 more

military presses: 2 sets of 12 x 50 seated, supported, 1 set of 10 x 40 standing (dumbbells), 1 set of 10 x 100 (each arm) machine.
super set with pull downs: 3 sets of 10 x 160 traditional, 10 x 100 low
rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110 row

Then 5 mile walk outside.

Notes: I saw the new basketball coach (showing a new recruit the climbing wall) and I said “hi”; we chatted for a few seconds.
Outside, various track team members said “hi” to me. I am always embarrassed when they see me; I am so frigging slow; it is almost comical. :-)

The concern: it seems as if this year, I wake up with somewhat sore legs almost all of the time. Whether I can do a race or run hard depends on HOW sore they are and not on whether they are sore or somewhat stiff. I am not sure if this means I should adjust training or what.

The soreness is far from severe; it is very mild. But it seems to be always there, in the background somewhere.

May 15, 2015 Posted by | walking, weight training | | Leave a comment

Not ready…yet…getting there

Well, it is a good thing that my marathon is not until October. But that is a lot of time and I am making good progress.


Today’s walk: Riverplex (back entrance) to the old “start” of the East Peoria Bike Path (57:20), up 1:04:20, 53 seconds extra (thought about going further; changed my mind), 1:01:24 back, 56 back to the entrance (4:00:02) then 16 more minutes (to the mini loop just past the .5 mile mark) for 16.5 miles in 4:16.

Of note: CVS was nice to me; they let me use the bathroom and consequently I bought 2 bottles of water (forgot to pack it); I guzzled one of them in route and the other when I finished.
I saw a bunny, an opossum (crossing the bike path) and a bird with a wound in its wing. I also encountered a panhandler (sounded like a “special needs”) and a few cyclists; I saw only 4 runners and 2-3 other walkers.
It was overcast; rain appeared to be threatening but it never materialized.

Upshot: this was easier than a 13 at a similar pace a few weeks ago. But oh goodness, I am slow though my endurance is starting to build again. I can feel it.

I admit that I started off with heavy legs due to the hilly 5K yesterday.

May 10, 2015 Posted by | marathons, walking | | Leave a comment

Bleah. Really. Sort of. Maybe?

I didn’t have the a lot of sleep last night and woke up early…though when I was asleep, I slept soundly. But I was up at the crack of dawn…

Weights: 3 sets of 10 pull ups; Achilles exercises and rotator cuff
bench: 10 x 135, 3 x 180, 6 x 170, 8 x 160 (rotator cuff)
pull ups: 2 sets of 10 superset with
military: 2 sets of 12 x 50 dumbbell (seated, supported)
superset: 3 sets of 10 x 150 pull down (different machine) with
rows: 3 sets of 10 x 110 superset with
military: 2 sets of 10 x 40 dumbbell (standing)

That got me outside where I walked 5.1 miles from 7:50 to 9:04 (included 2 traffic stops). Pretty, though I did see a dead raccoon. The walk felt fine.

Final exam
To say that my office hours were sparsely attended would be an understatement.

Yes, I am teaching calculus 3 and yes, the integrals on my exam will be harder than the spherical coordinates integral in this cartoon.


Note: 1, 3 and 4 are straight forward. 2: the series converges (alternating series test) and it is a simple matter to get the sum within a desired error bound (the absolute value of the a_{n+1} term). But the series does NOT telescope though it does factor and can be written \frac{1}{3} (\sum \frac{2k-1}{k^2-k+1} + \frac{1}{k+1})

May 6, 2015 Posted by | mathematics, Personal Issues, walking, weight training | | Leave a comment

Backing off a bit..for now

I think that my blow up at yesterday’s race (or maybe more accurately: “fade in the last mile”) might be attributed to both my failing to keep “1 hour at a good pace” runs in (for strength) and perhaps to my ramping up my longish walks too quickly. I am not sure.

So this morning, I backed off of the go-go-go mindset and did something different.

I started at the Tower, walked south to pick up the bike path and then walked to the road next to Midstate.


The 4.3 section (probably a bit further) was done in 1:04:51. I then continued from the tower (after a pit stop) to the trail head on Grandview Terrace, and it went as follows:
7:24 to the trail head, 24:15 to the outer loop, 1:03:51 for the loop, 26:42 back up, 8:29 to the Tower. 3:15:34 total (about 2:11 for the 7 mile trail segment).

I didn’t exactly kill myself out there but it wasn’t merely strolling (though the pace might suggest that). It was “steady, deliberate but easy”.

On the trail, I saw the Women’s Basketball Coach and we had a chat; it was interesting.

There were a few people on the trail; it appeared that the older hikers suffered more on the uphills than the younger ones.

I don’t feel overly tired; my body appears to be adapting to the longer walks. But the 5K run: terrible!

May 3, 2015 Posted by | walking | , , | Leave a comment

What to do…not recovering fully…

Last night our “walk to run” group warmed up with 5 minutes of walking and did 1-1 “1 walk, 1 run..ok…65-55 seconds really” and finished 3 miles in 41:30. Yeah, that is slow by runner’s standards, but better than some of the pace groups that are supposed to be faster than ours. :-) And our group is getting better.

That was easy for me (I had 6 miles earlier that morning for my own workout). But this morning: my legs were still slightly achy and heavy. So I warmed up with 1 mile of walking and then jogged oh…let’s see: about 5.2 miles in..a ghastly 58 minutes.

3 loops plus

That was 11:15 mpm for a hilly course…right at what my recovery pace is “supposed to be”. Reading that makes me feel sick.

Still, that is one thing I am going to have to accept: do distance and my 5K will suffer and do the 5K and forget about the very long distances. What’s it going to be?

The positive: it was a glorious, chilly and sunny morning.
And I had enough left in the tank to get some weights afterward:

5 sets of 10 pull ups (4 around rotator cuff exercises and the final one after bench.
bench: 10 x 135, 1 x 180 (strong, but didn’t push), 5 x 170, 8 x 160 (rotator cuff)
military: 3 sets of 10 x 40 dumbbell standing
super set: rows (3 sets of 10 with 110) and pull downs: 3 sets of 10 x 150 (double pulley machine)

May 1, 2015 Posted by | running, walking, weight training | | Leave a comment


This morning: jog to the bottom of Bradley Park; 1.24 mile loop in 10:13, then walked the rest of the 6.3 mile course (5.1 plus 1.24). Gloriously pretty day; crisp (40’s).

I am developing mental block about this 1.24 mile loop though.

April 2014: 10:25
May 2014 9:44
May 2014 10:10
March 2015 10:16
March 2015 10:10
April 2015 10:06
April 2015 10:13

It seemed as if I had to force myself to speed up and I wasn’t that spent when I finished.

The workout did me some good. Tonight I’ll go out with my Building Steam group. Weather should be perfect.

April 29, 2015 Posted by | running, walking | Leave a comment


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