Saturday, February 28, 2009

Getting lost and finding my way

As part of a free stuff give away this week, the Runners Lounge asked about stories of getting lost and finding our way back home.

I'm quite familiar with this topic, as I make it a point to run and explore every new city I visit. It gives me a chance to see the city through the eyes of a local and I see parts of the city that would never be highlighted on a map.

What comes with that, though, is constantly getting lost. As hard as I try to do an out-and-back, it almost never happens. I end up running in different directions either because something interests me, or, well, I just want to run in that direction. It's not so difficult in a more rural area where everything doesn't look the same and you can look at landmarks. In a city, well, that's where it gets interesting.

So how I find my way back when I get lost in a city? The good part about most cities is that they have public transportation. And with public transportation come maps. I just run from one stop to another, making sure I'm going to right way, until I end up back at my original destination.

I specifically recall this working in Dublin, Amsterdam, Cork (Ireland), Los Angeles and San Francisco. San Francisco was the first one where I realized I could look at the transportation maps, and it was when I had already hit the point of panic and a lot of miles after running through Golden Gate Park.

I guess it seems obvious now, but at the time, I had never thought of looking at bus or subway maps.

I mean, sure, I could ride public transportation, but then I'd have to figure it out and pay for it. Nah. Getting lost gives me more excuses to keep running, more excuses to keep exploring.

I typically won't ask for directions, either. That spoils the adventure.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Reverse TiaRT: Shoes make the difference

This week, the Runner's Lounge turned the tables on us bloggers. We needed to both ask a question and provide the answer.

Q: I've just started running and my knees (back, hips, etc.) hurt. What do you think it is?
Q: I've been running for a while, but I just started to have problems with my knees (back, hips, etc.). What could it be?

A: More than likely, it's your sneakers. While the pain may be an indication of other, more serious things, make the life of your sneakers the first thing you check.

When most people just start out running, either at the gym on a treadmill or outside, they use sneakers that they've had for quite a while. In many cases, they're a couple of years old and they've worn them while running errands, etc.

Change your shoes. You wouldn't drive your car with tires that are bald or wearing unevenly. That's just what you're doing when you wear sneakers that have outworn their life.

I know the day that I need new sneakers. While I'm running or afterward, my lower back starts to hurt. Without fail, it's my sneakers. I go out that day and pick up a new pair, and voila, back no longer hurts.

I can use my sneakers for no more than 400 miles. That's probably at the lower end, as I know some people can wear them as long as 500 or 600 miles. A sneaker's life varies based on weight, running style and shoe quality.

Try to keep up on how many miles you've put on the sneakers. And only use those sneakers for running.

Your feet and body will thank you.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Another reason why I run: Guilt

We all have reasons why we run. I've talked about mine before here, here and here and I'll probably add more reasons in later posts. As I was driving home today after running errands, I knew that I wouldn't be able to get my scheduled run in today, and I didn't run yesterday.

I try very hard to run at least every other day and not to miss 2 days. It's my way of keeping myself honest and into it and keep it a habit. But today, due to phone calls, errands, early darkness, the need to make some progress on work, I won't get out today, and the last time I ran was Thursday.

So, another reason why I'll get up early and run in the morning, even when it's cold: guilt. I have felt guilty all day about missing my run this morning, even though I'm not training for anything. I think about my burrito meal (after happy hour) last night and I feel guilty. And you know what? It gets me out on the road.

I don't feel the level of guilt I did when I was training for a race. Then it was almost overwhelming, so much so that I almost never missed.

But I'll hit the roads, even when I'm not feeling like it. I'll hit them because I'm going to eat a big meal or because my jeans fit a bit too tight the last time I put them on, or because I missed the last run.

My run tomorrow morning will be a longer run, which really just means 6 miles or more at this point. But I'll probably put more hills in it because I feel guilty for not running today.

Apparently, guilt works.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Irishman Runs Seven Marathons on Seven Continents, in Six Days

In what can only be described as an heroic, yet insane, act of endurance and logistics, an Irishman ran seven marathons in seven days in six different continents.

As detailed in the article, his 'marathon' marathon took him to Antarctica, Cape Town, Dubai, London, Toronto, Santiago and Sydney in just 5 days, 10 hours and 8 minutes. This was part of the World Marathon Challenge in which he raised money for GOAL, an Irish charity that raises money to respond to man-made and natural disasters.

Beyond the unbelievable endurance and huge changes in temperature throughout the nearly 6 days, I'm unbelievably impressed that he could do it logistically. He banked 26,719 air miles as part of this journey and a week that he will not soon forget. Wow!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

"Well, at least you'll be fit"

As I was stretching in -6F weather (not counting wind chill) last week, this is the actual conversation I had with an older lady who was curious why any human would be outside.

Older Lady (OL): Are you out here to exercise this morning?
Me: Yes, ma'am. Pretty ridiculous out here, isn't it?
OL: You're walking out here?
Me: No, ma'am, I'm running.
OL: Well, at least you'll be fit.
Me: That is if I don't die of frostbite while I'm out here.
OL: Well, at least you'll be fit if you do.

Comforting, eh?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

4th Down and 4 (Miler): Race Report

While I was on, I found a local race this weekend called 4th Down and 4 (Miler). The proceeds benefited the local college's cross country team.

I absolutely love local races. It was at 11 AM (to let it warm up a bit) and it was no more than 10 minutes from me. I left at 10:30, got there at 10:45, put my number on and still had a few minutes to stretch before the start.

It was a largely flat course, with just a small hill at the beginning and around mile 4. There were over 70 runners there--with 25 degree temperatures. I love it! I think you have to be proud of a group of people that can get up on a Sunday morning and bang out 4 miles.

As with all races, I started out faster than I normally would. I was in the 8:20 pace, which is about 25 seconds faster than my normal pace. I was feeling good and had warmed up so I just went with it.

I stuck behind a small group at the beginning and then started to feel better and better. So I kept moving up (or is it that others kept slowing down?). When I looked at my Garmin and it said 3.2 miles, I knew I wanted to pick it up. I had originally planned to just do a fartlek to the end of a building and then drop back down. But, when I got to the end of the building I still felt good, so I kept the pace (7-minute miles or so). And then I saw the finish in the distance and I still felt good so I kept the pace. I finished the race in a near sprint at 31:48.

That's definitely a PR for me (though I haven't done any other 4 mile races). It ended up being about 3.94 miles, but still, that's less than 8-minute miles on average. I was very pleased with myself.

We went inside and had a raffle. I was the first person called (got a gym bag) and then I was called again near the end and picked up some Double-Stuff Oreos (should go well this afternoon for the game). And then the awards ceremony came. I knew I had run well, but didn't expect to win anything.

Lo an behold, I came in 3rd in my age group (20-29). The second place guy was a full 8 minutes faster than me! Either way, I got a glass (see above left--not actually a flame; it was just the light) and a bag of chips.

So that was a successful morning. I burned calories, which I'll put back on (and then some) this afternoon for the game. And now I have a glass to drink from. Woo hoo!