# blueollie

## One challenge of being an older “runner wannabe”…

I thought that I might try to do 8 miles-to 15K. When I got to 2.5 miles, I found myself shuffling at a 12 minute pace and realized it was not going to work. So I switched to running all of the uphill and downhill parts and walking the flats and finished just over 5 miles in 1:07-1:08 (delay at a light). And the workout became fun! Oh, it didn’t do that much for me, but the point was to “save it for another day”; I probably haven’t fully recovered from Sunday’s tough 14 mile walk at 14:30 mpm. Oh, that isn’t a fast walking time, but it was challenging for me, at this time.

I am simply too heavy right now (too close to 200 lbs) and, well, what worked for me in the past 4-5 years doesn’t work now. I need more recovery days; it is probably time to bring back swimming as cross training.

And I think that I’ve reached the point where I have to choose. I ran run or walk, but perhaps not both. What I mean: I can run enough to, say, do the occasional 5K at 27:xx but if I wish to train enough to have a good shot at walking a sub 6 hour marathon, I need to focus on walking and maybe have a few training runs (and an occasional 5K race) scattered here and there. I have to choose. And to be honest, right now, walking feels much more natural.

And that is the challenge for me: for a long period of time, one formula “worked”. Now the “best formula for me”, at least when it comes to running or walking, appears to change every couple of years or so. What worked in 2012-2013 no longer works.

May 16, 2017

## I look like what I am…

Yesterday I went to the Minnesota vs. Illinois football game. I’ll comment more on that in my next post.

The above photo shows me (on the left) with my friend Tracy. I sure enjoyed myself.

But when I see myself, I see an old man. It is weird. When I see this photo and someone tells me “this guy “runs” at about 11-11:30 mpm in training”, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least. I LOOK like someone who does that.
If you tell me that this guy would struggle to get 3-5 reps with 185 in the bench press (hips down, dammit!), I’d say “I expect that”.

But when the above actually happens, I am still surprised. Sometimes aging is tough to accept. I have a sense of humor about it though.

On today’s 5 mile run (glorious, simply glorious running weather) a faster runner called out to me as he was getting ready to pass me “Ollie, I am about to pass you on your left”. He may have been doing, oh, 7-7:30 mpm? I laughed and said “how do you know that I am not going to beat you today?”…and he chuckled a bit…and disappeared into the distance.

Workout notes:
Yesterday: 4 mile walk in Bradley Park.
Today: weights then a 5 mile run; actually 5.3 miles in 58:56 (just over 1 minute faster on the way back; behind the Riverplex, around the gooseloop and to Rose hill intersection in the cemetery.

Weights: rotator cuff, a few free squats, pull ups (15-10-10-10-5), bench press: 10 x 135, 3 x 185, 7 x 170, incline press: 10 x 135, military: 8 x 50 standing, 10 x 45, 10 x 45 (dumbbells), 3 sets of 10 x 50 rows, 2 sets of 12 twist crunch, 10 yoga leg lifts, 10 moving half bridges, headstand.

It was all good and I am grateful that I can do it at all. Still my lack of performance bothers me…at times.

October 30, 2016

## And I hit a negative milestone: it was bound to happen eventually …..

I remember back in 2001 reporting on a 10K run; I had…horrors or horrors…came perilously close to running over 50 minutes (44-45 was typical for me in those days). It was a hot weather summer 10K race in Wisconsin.

Well, I’ve finished 5K races in over 30 minutes before. Once, I was “running” in a snowstorm. Once, I went out too fast (charmed by Mamma T’s purple spandex) when I wasn’t in shape..and ended up doing the old “walk and jog” toward the end. And of course, I’ve walked them slower than that (judged 5K PR is 30:42; though I’ve gone under 30 in non-judged walks)

But today is the first time I “ran” a 5K, didn’t get sick and have to walk, and still failed to break 30 minutes (30:01)

Yes, I was one behind the median male, and just ahead of the median runner. Yes, conditions were brutal; it had just quit raining, the course was a bit slick in some downhill spots and..71 F with literally 100 percent humidity.

ALL those things were true. And ….well, I was just over 1 minute slower than last year, and just over 2 minutes slower than 2011.

I could go on and on about being physically tired, doing long running/walking training, just getting into the semester routine, etc. But the splits tell the story; I just had no drive at all until the last loop. If I feel good during a 5K run, it means I am not giving it the appropriate amount of effort.

And as far as the fatigue: I think that I’ll try a 3 week taper prior to the Quad Cities…one more “big” training week.

BUT it isn’t all bad. I did see Kevin who used to burn up the local 5K courses; he won my age group with a time under 22 minutes. He still looks super athletic, even though he is my age (I look terrible right now)

More importantly, I had a delightful time with Tracy, especially after the race. The Zoo opened the animal exhibits to the runners and we took advantage …

August 27, 2016

## Steamboat photos and a Chiefs game..

Workout note I walked the West Peoria course with a diversion to the W. Peoria ball field port-o-potty. That added about .3 miles to the usual 4.1 and I stretched it to the the usual “Cornstalk out and back”, one 1.4 mile Cornstalk loop then returned home past Markin Center and along Bradley ave.

Yes, it was hot (and was eventually get to 97 F) and the course took me 2:42 to do (modest effort)

Along the way I saw Dave P., Larry and Cassie. Afterward, I saw that Tracy had won an age group award in the Steamboat 4, so I called her up to tell her. She really didn’t know.

And I had some time to think about my running/walking plans for the fall. I can sign up for my goal events now; what remains to be seen if these turn out to be walks or runs, or perhaps one of each.

Chiefs games
Barbara and I went last night; the Chiefs won 8-3, mostly because of the second inning which saw a home run and multiple extra base hits. The Bees rallied somewhat but the damage had been done and they were in too big of a hole. It was 8-0 after 2.

Today saw the Chiefs win 2-1. It was scoreless until the 7’th inning where the teams traded runs. Then in the bottom of the 8’th it was 2 outs and the Bees pitcher hit a Chiefs batter. Then came a walk, followed by a single with got the runner from second in. Then in the top of the 9’th, the final out was made by an excellent catch by the left fielder; I though it was going to drop for a hit.

Photos

We wore our Steamboat shirts to the Chiefs game last night. It always feels good to go out wearing the race t-shirt when Barbara also has one.

Barbara’s finish. The thing to remember is that she thought that her days of even doing these were over.

My finish. Seriously…34 minutes slower than my PB? That is what happens when I go out too fast for the conditions. And yes, I had long, slow runs in my background, and short, “fast” runs. But no longish “sustained effort” runs.

Does this shirt make my butt look big? T took the photo.

Here I am with Cassie; she beat me by 10 minutes or so. I saw her early and had sense enough to let her go; I did see her on a switch back and yelled..she responded.

When I looked at the paper to see the results…yes, I remember that I stated off in the first column. 4-5 years, later..second column. Now: last column. There were times during the race where I felt that I was merely in the way (as the faster runners lapped me in the upper part..2 2.65 mile laps) and I remember during my first couple of 15K races, *I* was one of the ones lapping people. Sigh…

But hey, it was a long, community run and I don’t know how many of these I have left.

I do have one thing to say about finisher’s medals (yes, Steamboat gives them) but that is for another post. Dinner calls.

June 19, 2016

## Which of the following is true? (running: personal and trivial)

Today I ran the first 4 miles in 37:52 and did the final 2 in 17:19.(*) What happened?

1. I had planned to run the last 2 miles harder.

2. At mile 4 I was tempted to continue in this comfortable, cocoon type pace. But I thought: “you aren’t going to get in good enough shape to be checked out by the hot grannies at the races if you don’t go harder than this.”

3. Some college student thought that she could pass the old professor and I wanted to teach her a lesson (and yes, she couldn’t keep up).

(*) yes, I know that this is way slow by good runner standards. But I’m not a good runner. 🙂

February 2, 2016

## Sub 10 mpm is work for me now…

Today: I went to the track; didn’t know what I would do but it was snowy outside. I wanted to do something “moderately strenuous”.

I got going (lane 2): 10:10, 9:59, 9:45, 9:46 (39:42 for 4), 9:40, 9:50, 9:30, 9:20 (1:18:03, or 39:42/38:21). Basically, it was a 10 minute pace for the first 2, 9:45 for the middle 4, 9:25 for the final 2. Time: 1:18:03 (9:45 pace) This was one of my better *recent* efforts, and it was far from a “race” effort; it was “moderately strenuous”…just enough to get out of my warm, lazy cocoon.

I then walked 5 slow laps with Barbara (who was warming up for her workout), sped up a little for the next 3 and then walked another mile in 14:25 to finish 10 miles. Then I did a little bit of yoga.

I remember 78 minutes at this effort resulting in 10 miles, not 8. But that was last true 15 years ago. But that is how it is for a fortunate 56 year old. The pace you run now: it is slow compared to what you were able to do even 5-6 years ago. BUT 5-6 more years down the line, I’ll be wishing that I could run at my current pace, provided I am fortunate enough to enjoy my current state of health.

The Second Law of Thermodynamics is relentless and merciless. The Gompertz Law is real. (I think that teaching the Life Contingencies class has ruined me forever. 🙂 )

The Gompertz law basically states that, for humans, the failure rate is an exponential of an exponential; your rate of decline accelerates rapidly as you age. Or put another way, the decline from 35-40 is much less severe than it is from 50 to 55. Or, if I am running the same pace as a 35 year old right now, in 5 years, that 40 year old will have slowed down a little, but I will have slowed down a whole lot more.

December 30, 2015

## 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.

## 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.

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

## Gompertz Law and my sports..

The average exhaustion of a man’s power to avoid death to be such that at the end of equal infinitely small intervals of time he lost equal portions of his remaining power to oppose destruction which he had at the time of commencement of these intervals.”

This was written by Benjamin Gompertz in 1825. What this means: the force of mortality increases exponentially, or put another way: the decline to due age is the exponential of an exponential.

One might write: $f(t) = Ae^{-Be^{Dt}}$ where $f(t)$ is your ability to carry out some physical task which stretches your limits.
I’ve noticed that I am at about 80 percent of what I could do as a young man, both in weightlifting (bench press at roughly this body weight) and in the 5K (3 mile) run. I base this on: when I wasn’t especially focused on weight lifting, I could bench press about 250 pounds at my current body weight. Now I can do 200.

When I wasn’t especially focused on running, I could run 3 miles in about 19:45..roughly a 20:30 5K. Now, on a good, cool day, I can do 25:30 (this spring). That is about 1.25 times longer, or an increase of $\frac{1}{.8}$.

I might be morbid enough to see if I can gather data from earlier to compute a fit to a Gompertz curve.

I have to admit that races sometimes trouble me. On one hand, I still enjoy them and I enjoy seeing people. On the other hand..well..let’s just say that when I saw the photo in the paper, I saw the size of the runners and knew that I wasn’t in the photo. If someone is younger and around me, they are probably reasonably heavy:

I’d say somewhere between these two runners:

The days of my finishing around younger people who look like runners are over and are not coming back. The days of my lifting with younger guys who look like lifters are gone as well.

Ok, something positive: I finished two boring administrative tasks (one more to go), and I have tickets to a baseball playoff game tonight! Weather should be great…

Workout notes

Weights (weight: 183.5 after the workout)

rotator cuff
pull ups: 4 sets of 10 then one more after presses
bench press: 10 x 135, 4 x 185 (strong), 8 x 170 (strong)
incline press: 10 x 140
military presses: 2 sets of 10 x 85 barbell, 10 x 40 dumbbell
rows: 2 sets of 10 x 60 dumbbell (each arm), 10 x 110 machine
pull downs: 3 sets of 10 x 160

running: treadmill; increased the speed from 5.2 every 2 minutes: 11:05, 21:20, 30:40, 31:40 for 3.11 miles (5K)
bicycle: 15:30 for 4 miles

September 9, 2015

## Some metrics on fitness

In September of 1999 (at 40 years of age): half marathon in 1:34:16 (7:11 pace), then the first 20 miles of the Quad Cities in 2:37 (7:51 pace; crashed and finished in 3:45…bad cramps).

Today: ONE mile at 7:50 was, while not all out, challenging. I did hit the halves in 3:55 each. Yes, I did this right after lifting weights and that had a minor negative effect.

In September of 1986 (27 years of age): in the bench press I got 11 reps with bodyweight (230 lbs). Today: 3 reps (3 x 180); probably could have gotten 1 more had I used a spotter. I weighed 180.0 on the gym scale prior to the workout.

15 years and 28 years can make a difference in what one can do. At times, it feels as if someone stuck a straw under my skin and sucked all of the muscle mass right out.

Nevertheless, I have some goals set up. One will be to walk the Peoria Marathon this October. The next (tentative) will be the McNotAgain 30 mile (hilly, trail) about 3-4 weeks later. And for the final..stay tuned. 🙂 I might try to combine a longish (marathon or possibly longer) event with a football game over the winter..somewhere south. So, I need to build up my long walks this summer; I am at 14 miles (22.5 km) right now.

April 25, 2015