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Archive for February, 2009

A few Runner's Club membersI recently joined the Baltimore Road Runners Club through Facebook. Not 24 hours after I joined, I received a message from Peter Moulder, a member of the group. Moulder wrote:

“Saturday morning at Loch Raven at 7:30 a.m. Folks will probably go anywhere from six to 20 miles at just about every pace. Actually, Bart Rein says he is going 24. Meet at the corner of Loch Raven Drive and Morgan Mill Road.”

Now, I’m not sure who Bart Rein is, but I gather he is some sort of champion. Honestly, I don’t really know Peter Moulder, either. The message was a little cryptic. I don’t even know what or where Loch Raven is.

I felt like I was involved in a scavenger hunt mixer thingy. You know what I ‘m talking about; the kind where you’re paired up with perfect strangers, and you have to buy a shot from a bartender with one leg. I digress.

pretty sweet T-shirtI did find Moulder’s time from the last Dreaded Druid Hills 10k,; I believe it was 52:54. Which I thought was pretty close to my own 10k PR (personal record). Then, I found out the last three kilometers of the run had “seven killer hills” runners had to conquer. So basically, he’s better than I am, probably cooler too.

Sorry, I couldn’t make it this morning, Peter; but I do appreciate the invite. Keep them coming.

I want to know more about this Dreaded Druid Hills 10k; that’s the actual name, not my fondness for verbosity rearing its ugly head.

If you’ve tackled this beast or have an idea of what it’s like, drop me a line. As always, comments are welcome.

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I’m not exactly running light these days.

I’ve gone way overboard with the accessories. I’ve got an iPod, a big Garmin GPS watch, and now that I’ve started this blog; I’ve got a camera to boot. I must look like a freak.

Remember that guy from high school who was way into accessories? You know, he wore the belt with a dozen different things strapped to it; like a multi-tool, a little Maglite and a pager or two; yes, I went to school in the 90s.

On weekends, he would maybe slap something more dangerous on it; like some cuffs, which were more creepy than dangerous.

You could picture him trolling army surplus stores for gear on the weekends; and when you finally did see him at a party, he seemed to be running surveillance like a security guard.

I didn’t particularly aspire to be that guy.

utility_beltBut I caught a glance of myself in the mirror this morning, and things were looking pretty bad. There was just too much crap. I’m a runner. I have to consolidate.

Got any tips on streamlining, folks?

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There’s a misconception about runners. People assume so and so down the street runs because he loves it. Many runners perpetuate this myth. When asked why they run, the words, “because I love it,” come fast and easy. It’s a nice enough answer, but they’re leaving out the underlying and varying neuroses that motivate them to put aside a chunk of their day for strenuous exercise. Everyone has a reason somewhere beneath the whole “loving it” thing.

For those of you not in love with running, I have one word: podcasts.

Hypochondria and a touch of narcissism often drive me to strap on my Asics in the mornings. The fact that my routine crumbles without these runs doesn’t hurt either. It’s like brushing my teeth. Something feels off if I don’t draw a line through that particular chore in my mental to do list.

I’ve become very attached to the podcast as a means of disconnecting from the run when I’m not “loving it” per se, just zoning out. All that said, there are many days when I do love it, but I’m a product of late 20th century television; I find comfort in the passivity of easily consumable narration.

Excuse the non sequitur , but I think I’ve got a pretty good example of how I feel a few miles into some runs. You know the scene in “Coming to America” when we are introduced to the immortal Randy Watson. Just in case you forgot:

Right there, at the end, when he drops the mic and does that “I’m out” thing with his hands. I’ve felt that way so many times and just kept at it because I had a decent story to listen to. Don’t get me wrong, music gets the blood pumping; but podcasts can whisk you away when you really don’t want to be pounding the pavement.

Radiolab, a WNYC seasonal podcast is one of those “whiskers.” It’s free, and you can find it on iTunes. I know, NPR’s not exactly high energy, but trust me; you’ll be glad you downloaded a few of Radiolab’s programs. I recommend the one on laughter.

Here’s an excerpt:

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Off Roading

The NCRT ... on a quiet Thursday morning I'm guessing.

The NCRT ... on a quiet Thursday morning I'm guessing.

B-more runners keep telling me I must try the Northern Central Railroad Trail . It’s supposed to be beautiful, and most importantly , flat. I’ve checked out the Web site, and it does look pleasant; but I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t have a few misgivings about the set up.

There’s a converted railroad track just outside of Atlanta, too: The Silver Comet Trail. It’s also flat and picturesque. On a slow day, it’s easy to get lost in the quiet fern-laden beauty; that’s on a slow day.

If you’re like me, and the work-a-day world only lets you visit such places on weekends, then you know about crowds. It’s like running through a theme park. I half-expect to see funnel cake stands and costumed cartoon characters hugging kids at the end of every straightaway. A little three-miler filled with expressions like “right behind you” and “on your right” can take an hour to complete.

Sorry about the curmudgeonly disposition today. Wednesday is my rest day. Don’t let my cynicism rob you of a good time. I intend to give the NCRT a try in the next couple of weeks, and odds are I’ll be recommending it to you.

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The precipitation in Baltimore can equal unhappy feet for runners. Blisters are abound.

Blisters are painful unsightly reservoirs of serum that appear on the top layer of skin, and runners can link most of their blisters to friction.

That’s as graphic as this one gets. So those of you with a fondness for the expression “too much information,” or the dreaded texpression “TMI,” (which proved too little information ironically the first time I encountered it and had to ask my wife what it meant) you can rest easy. There will be no discussion of pus in this post.

Here we see my frightening foot. The Band-Aid was merely a propBlisters are by no means an inevitability. My dad, a long time runner, has a way of combating blisters after they’ve formed. He simply puts on another pair of socks, eliminating the element of skin-to-shoe friction that caused the blister in the first place. But let’s talk about preventive measures you can take whilst preparing for a long run.

Keeping the Blisters at Bay

  • Stay away from cotton socks, particularly in the heat when your feet are sweating. Cotton doesn’t necessarily breathe.
  • Before you run, get your feet good and greasy with petroleum jelly or Body Glide. This will cut down on the friction.
  • When you heat up, don’t dowse yourself with water. Surprisingly, water can act as an irritant in the running world.
  • Above all, know your shoes. If it rubs you wrong when you try it on, it’s definitely not going to feel great after 20 miles.

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Did you ever have the feeling that certain numbers were popping up in your life more than others? There’s that ominous digital 9:11 that I seem to catch on my clock at least once a day. In a different life, I kept an eye out for 4:20, as I’m sure many … er… numerologists still do.

Do these numbers really appear more often than others? Probably not. Odds are you’ve locked that number away in your brain because of its significance, and you check it off every time you see it. Take for instance 7:36. Most people don’t have a relationship with this number. But I bet you see it just as often as you do that scary 9:11.

39:47Let’s take 39:47. I do have a relationship with this number. Apparently, 39:47 is my new pace for the five mile. This new number has been with me for weeks, my unwanted five-mile companion.

Here we see the Maryland Half route. I've never tried a tempo run here.I’ve been told by several sources the best way to improve one’s time is to train with tempo runs. I’ve decided to give tempo runs a chance, as I’d like to pull a decent chip time in the Maryland Half Marathon this spring.

According to Runner’s World, a typical tempo or “lactate-threshold run,” is a consistent, “comfortably hard” (you in the back, stop giggling!) effort for two to four miles. Lactate-threshold refers to that nauseating sensation some of us get in our muscles when we’re contracting them in a sustained or prolonged fashion. It feels kind of like your quads or your biceps are going to throw up. Just below that feeling lies the “comfortably hard” zone.

Josh Levinson, a training program supervisor for the Maryland Half Marathon at Charm City Run is all about the tempo run.

“[Tempo runs] are a tremendous tool for when you flatten out,” said Levinson. “When people add that to their training it seems to make a difference right away. It’s great for the body for several reasons: When you’re running faster, you’re stance changes a little bit so the pressure points change in your legs, and you also get a chance to push that heart rate … so you push your body, and it adapts to being tired.”

If I could master these things, the experts say I could leave that tenacious 39:47 behind. I’ll let you know if the experts were right.

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Here’s a weird one for your cool down. I’m not sure if this 1975 ditty has found its way to iTunes, but if you’re clever you’ll make it happen.

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