There's another old guy in the neighborhood. No idea how far he runs, but he's out there almost every day. His gait is half way between a jog and a walk. Does that make him a jalker or a wogger? Wears a hoodie with the hood up, no matter how warm it is. When it gets cold, he adds sweatpants. But always the hoodie. I've waved to him before. He never waves back. Never acknowledges my existence. I don't think he's being rude. I figure he needs to concentrate so hard to hold that 15 minute pace he doesn't have bandwidth for social interaction.
There's a girl with some sort of learning disability about a mile and a quarter from the house as I go south on Levan. She sits in a camp chair, waiting for her dad to come home from work. If I run past between 3:30-4:30, she'll be there. Sometimes she's talking to herself, sometimes she's listening to music. I've greeted her once or twice, but she looks at me vacantly, apparently not sure if she should run inside and tell her mother or jump up and start running next to me. Either would be bad, so now I just keep running.
On the other sidewalk is a younger woman walking. Not for exercise. Just walking either home from somewhere or to somewhere from home. I want to be on that side of the street because my turn is coming up, but I wait until she's behind me. Who knows what her reaction would be to an old sweaty guy running across the street in her direction? Sad that conversation has to go on in my head.
A runner. Younger than me (funny how so many of them are lately - what's up with that?). Larger (story of my life). Slower (ha!). Me: Hello! Him: Pretty good, thanks.
I run all over this town. I still see people I've never seen before. Young guy, about 30, with a mustache. Mustache? Guys that age don't wear mustaches anymore, do they? But there it is, fuzzy caterpillar under his nose. Good stride, solid pace, red 2017 Chicago marathon shirt. Make sure my form is appropriately athletic. Am I wearing a 5k short or a marathon shirt? This is important. 2014 Illinois marathon. Good. Runners' nod and wave.
The sun is lowering, but still has a couple of hours to set, but while I'm heading west, it's pretty bright in my eyes. It's a half mile to my next turn and I see a figure coming east. Too small, too much broken shade, too far away to tell what, who and how it's coming. Slowly it resolves - a woman, running, with a dog. This one I can do. "Good afternoon." She responds in kind.
Near the farthest point on this loop is an empty field. Nominally a park, it's where the boys went to elementary school when we moved to L-town 23 years ago. About ten years ago it was burned down by a troubled student. Happened over a weekend, so no one was injured, thank goodness. The city's declining elementary enrollment rendered rebuilding "unfeasible", so they moved the gifted programs that were here to another building and razed Webster. Now, it's just a patch of grass in the neighborhood.
Just beyond is the swim club. I need to turn here but there's a boy walking a big dog and they're making the same turn. Generally I try to avoid coming up on dogs from behind. I need a few more tenths before heading for home, so I cross the street. Probably unnecessary.
Crossing puts me behind a mother (I assume) pushing a stroller. I also assume there's a baby in it. I'd feel silly crossing again, so I call out as I approach. She answers back like she was expecting me. Wishes me a nice run. I could say she has a beautiful baby, but I never really get a look at the kid, and would that be creepy anyway? So I mention how beautiful the day is instead. She agrees to my back since I'm already several strides past them. She sounds so friendly I probably could have stopped and admired that beautiful baby and talked about my granddaughters.
Ahead the street T's instead of going through to where I need to turn again. Left or right? Right will leave me short at the end. Left will make my seven miles a tenth to a quarter long. I go left.
Up on Five Mile there's a couple in their 50s out walking, holding hands. I've tried walking with Mrs. Dave, but she usually has a text or phone conversation going on so it's more like I'm by myself anyway and I'd rather run - walking is just too slow. Two people walking on a sidewalk of course fill it from side to side. Do I take to the grass? I need to let them know I'm there anyway, so I call out. They move over and say, "Hello."
A minute later I get passed. I never get passed. Not that I'm Sebastian Coe or anything, but it just doesn't happen that often. I'm going about 8:45, he's going about 7:30. High schooler from the looks of him. No watch, no earbuds. Just running. Fast. Relaxed. Id that a cotton T? Old school. I remember running like that. Free. Light-footed. Effortless. Today, color me green with envy. 8:45 is hard today.
Blue shirt now coming in my direction. Tall. Walking. 2017 Detroit marathon shirt. That race was just Sunday.
Rumbles down below require me to not pass the Timmy Ho's without stopping.
2-1/2 miles to home. One more runner.
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
Friday, October 6, 2017
Eight and a half years ago, I was recovering from a rupture of my right plantar fascia - the most serious injury I'd had in a long, long time. In contemplating my mortal fragility and advancing age I realized that the marathon I'd always promised myself I'd run "someday" might slip away if I didn't get a move on soon.
I decided to document the journey online, so I started a blog. Didn't know much about blogs. I had noticed that there were some running blogs attached to Runner's World's website, and that seemed like a good fit. My first post there was just a few paragraphs about my injury and plans for that first marathon, as well as a dream that I might join my two sons (both Boston Qualifiers) in Hopkington in another year or so. To my surprise, there were two or three people who actually commented on it.
This place was called the Loop, and I found a home there. On the Loop I could pour out all my thoughts, joys and pains, questions and wonderings about running as I stretched my limits week by week, prepping for that most amazing of goals. The Loopsters were universally positive in their support, helpful in their advice, friendly in their interactions with me and each other. Each of us was at a different place in our running lives, but eager to share what we knew and happy to learn from each other.
The first time I met one of these people in person was at a local race. She went by the name Zamgirl5 and was about the same age as my oldest son. We talked about running and the race a little bit, took a sort of awkward cell phone picture to post online, ran the race, said goodbye. Inauspicious.
The Loop has remained a constant piece of my running life. Loopsters number among my dearest friends. I cheer their successes and mourn their losses as much as my own. I share with them my pains, disappointments, triumphs, fears. And it wasn't just me; there was a true feeling of community, of family, that grew between us. Friendships, romances, marriages even. Loopsters plan races and travels to be together. In 2011, nearly 70 best friends - most of whom had never met before - descended on the Philadelphia Marathon for a long weekend of fun and running. We had t-shirts, our own awards, programs. It's still a highlight of my adult life.
I still haven't realized that dream of running in Boston with my sons, although I did get to make that right on Hereford and left on Boylston last year after 11 tries. It could still happen.
Now, I suppose I should get to the end of this story. Last Tuesday one of our fairly new Loopsters from CA discovered an announcement on the Runner's World forums landing page and posted it in Loopville, where we interact on Facebook. They were ending the community section of their website, which included their reader forums and the Loop. We were all pretty shocked. On Wednesday I received a PM from someone called square wheels, who said he was mostly a cyclist, but came occasionally to the RW forums and the Loop to read, although he rarely if ever posted himself. He told me that he hosted a few websites (as a hobby or side gig) and was willing to set us up with a new home, if we were interested. Sign me up, buddy!
In the meantime, there was lots of commiseration, scrambling to save old posts, and nostalgia about the good old days on the Loop ensued there in Facebook. I had several non-Facebook Loopsters contact me through PMs, asking to join Loopville, so they wouldn't lose all contact.
On Thursday between 3 and 5 pm, it was done. The Loop was gone.
There were a few ideas thrown out, wondering where we might find a new home, but we hadn't decided on anything. On Tues and Wed I traded a couple more notes with square wheels. I had a few ideas about a domain name (the best ones were all being squatted on - opening bids of $199) and we settled on loopsters.org. He set us up with the site and we've been moving over since then. He's been very responsive to our questions and suggestions.
One more story, I had someone (don't even know who - posted anonymously) post a couple of days ago here. He/She had just run a marathon, was looking to post their 1st RR and discovered there was no Loop. They googled me and found this blog. They asked what they could do to find a place like the Loop again. I was so happy I could direct them to the new Loop.
Anyway, if you're tired of your SO rolling their eyes or leaving the room whenever you talk about that sesamoid pain or your tight piriformis or the way you killed that last tempo, the Loop might be the place for you. Not everyone there is Dathan Ritzenheim or Ernest Hemingway. There are people of all types, all of different background, ability (as both writers and runners) and experience. What's universal is running. With so much that divides people in the world right now, it's refreshing to have a place where all that is set aside and we can focus on something that brings us together. Something that brings us all joy and lets us share that joy with others who understand it and feel it, too.
Come visit. www.loopsters.org.
I'm having so much fun over there that this little blog may get neglected for awhile.
Monday, September 25, 2017
That title phrase nowadays is defined as an inadvertent sabotage of one's situation. Historically speaking, there's nothing accidental about it. Back in WWI (and again in WWII), soldiers afraid to go over the top and out of the trenches as part of an infantry charge (i.e., the most likely men to be killed) would literally shoot themselves with their own weapons. The foot was most often the chosen appendage for the wound, as it was rarely lethal, but at the same time debilitating enough for removal from the front lines and an extended hospital stay. If you were lucky, it would be permanent. Sure, you'd have a limp for the rest of your life, but your life was almost guaranteed to be far longer than it would have been if you'd taken your chances in No-man's Land. Somehow, the "accidental" part was added, probably by a clever private as a cover story for his new handicap. Anyway, we've dropped the "accidental" wording but kept the implicit idea that no one would do something so ridiculous on purpose.
Now, as I come back from this recent foot injury I wonder about a couple of things. First, is this ironic? I don't think so, but I've never been able to fully understand what makes something ironic. More importantly, am I being overly optimistic in thinking I can be ready for a marathon in December?
I've no doubt I can finish a marathon by then. When I say, "Ready," for a marathon, my head wants to run one, not run-walk-stumble-suffer-for-weeks-afterward.
I've no doubt I can finish a marathon by then. When I say, "Ready," for a marathon, my head wants to run one, not run-walk-stumble-suffer-for-weeks-afterward.
The conservative approach would be to very slowly increase my miles day by day and week by week, until I am comfortable with 30 mpw or so, then attack a 12-18 week regimen with speed work and double digit long runs. Guess what? We're at the end of September.
I tell myself I'm not committed to a December race. But I'm probably lying. The marathon has a hold on me somehow, and I don't want to let it go. I've done two this year, thanks to an early start in January and a second race in July. This plan gave me a shorter cycle for a November date in NYC, but I'd done shorter, so wasn't concerned.
Then the foot thing. Now that I've spent a couple of months thinking about it, I've come to the conclusion that it was the shoes. No surprise - it's always the shoes, money. I left my shoes in the rental car when I went to Utah/Idaho in early July. I was already in over-training mode by then, but had a couple of decent runs and a so-so Yasso session. But suddenly finding myself with no shoes, I had to punt. The replacements were my go-to Cumulus 18s, but there was no time for break-in. They did OK for the first week two, but since I was already fending off a case of PF, that tipped me over the edge and I pulled up lame in the middle of that last tempo run before San Francisco. Probably should have taken at least of few days of easy running (I was over-trained, remember?) before hitting it hard again.
Six weeks off was four more than the plan. A month of easy, base building gone.
So, do I bag the idea of another marathon in 2017 or settle for something less than full effort so I can stay on my original schedule?
I'm no psychologist, but it's obvious that I really want one more race this year. Why? Is the rest of my life so messed up that the accomplishment of a marathon compensates somehow? There are things that could be better, certainly, but I'm hardly homeless, unemployed or contemplating divorce. Like everyone, we have our share of positives and negatives happening, but overall, we're as well off as the next family. Better in many, many respects.
Is this any different than running marathons to begin with? Beats me.
At any rate, while it's not 100% yet, I think I'm sort of aiming for one. There are a few that fit my time window (mentioned them a couple of weeks ago). They are about 11 weeks out from now. If I can do a slow and steady build up with NO speed work, I think I can just put together enough miles to make it work. But I need to wait until I have at least a couple of more weeks on my feet to be sure before I spend any money and sign up for one. Of course, that puts me at risk of races reaching capacity before I open my checkbook.
The other day Mrs. Dave was making some cookies and the Kitchenaid mixer got really, really hot. My guess was a bad motor. My brother used to work on these and he agreed. So I had some parts shipped in and spend an evening last week trading out the suspects. Then it wouldn't start at all. Argh. Bro thinks I fried the control board. Now I'm waiting for that to come before I try again. If it works, then I've saved $200. If it doesn't, Mrs. Dave has said she isn't interested in a replacement. We don't use it often - maybe once a month. 95% of the mixing we do is with a $8 hand mixer.
Nut came loose on one of the new stabilizer links from my last car repair. That explains the noise I kept hearing. Put a lock washer on it this time and torqued it down pretty hard. We'll see if that does the trick.
I did something smart on Saturday. I got up early and ran the eight miles I wanted to do before it got warm for the day - 90*. It was in the mid sixties for me and while it was humid enough for a major sweat fest, it wasn't boiling like it would have been later in the day. So, running eight miles was OK. I did take a little walk session at 5-1/2, but I was afraid I was going to need more than that. It was slow-ish as well - about 9:25/mile - but given that my plan for December is 3:55, that's about right for the long run pace. The fall weather is supposed to get here on Wednesday or Thursday and that will be a tremendous help.
The good news is that these Pinnacle inserts have really done the job on my PF. I'm at about 90% now. So good that I'm forgetting to do my exercises. I'm better with the stretching, which is also a consistent problem I have, so I choose to be encouraged by that success.
Anyway, there's my week.
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
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