Friday, December 30, 2011

I Gave In or Really Cool News

Date: 12/28/11
Route:  Library Loop
Distance: 2.02 Miles
Pace: 9:58/Mile
Running Temp: 38 degrees

Another balmy night in Metro Detroit. I received a nice New Balance NBx Windblocker Jacket for Christmas, and I am wondering if I will ever get a chance to use it. Only 3 out of the next 10 days even have highs that are below freezing. My interpretation of the recent weather trend here in Detroit:

I am sure The Wife would disagree. She is originally from Texas, so her interpretation of the recent weather is as follows:

I did have a nice short run to the library to drop off some (past due) stuff today. I am really getting excited for the 5K I have on Saturday. It will be my first race since the Detroit Half.  It should be fun because it will be in interesting course on Belle Isle and also I should have some friends to pace off of.

In other news and to finally relate to the title of this blog, I ordered a Garmin Forerunner 405 yesterday through Amazon. There were several mixed reviews out there, but most of the negative ones seemed to be by people who would get frustrated by the touch bezel. It mostly seemed that they did not take the time to figure out how to lock it while running. Hopefully I will be over to overcome this technical issue. I should receive this on the 30th and the first run will be the 5k on New Year's Eve. I feel excited about having this tool, but also kind of lame because having one of these watches is like giving in to buy an Ipad. Full report soon. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

In The Middle of the Holiday Madness

Date: 12/23/11
Route:  Hines Park 6 Miler
Distance: 6.41 Miles
Pace: 10:31/Mile
Running Temp: 27 (First run of the season not in shorts)

 Date: 12/26/11
Route:  Reverse Hines Park 4 Miler to meet CE and Wife at a Park
Distance: 2.71 Miles
Pace: 9.43/mile
Running Temp: 45 (Back to shorts)

Amongst the madness of the holiday scheduling, I was hoping to cram in a couple of runs with my good friend and dislocated Michigander, Rosiecat. Somehow she has sauntered off to the alluring warmth of Texas for the past few years, so I was hoping to reintroduce her to some chilly Michigan runs while she was in town for the holidays.

We had a chance to run on the 23rd and the weather lived up the the almost Christmas expectations I had laid out. Regrettably, I put on pants for the first time this season, as the temp was about 27 degrees, a little below 20 with wind chill. After getting all geared up we were out the door and flying down into Hines Park. It is amazing how nice it is to have some conversation while running.  If you want a brief primer, check out my description of running conversations here. It was perfect winter weather for a run, and about halfway though, the sun came out and we were able to amble by some great scenery together with the sun shining and conversation flowing.

We even ran a little farther then promised, coming in at 6.41 miles, running part of what is usually my cool down. I think when it is 27 you do not want to have a .75 mile cool down. I have a feeling in January, my cooldown is going to be laps in my basement.

On the day after Christmas, we had a chance to do a short run, meeting up with CE and The Wife at a park. They decided to take CE's shiny new Radio Flyer (thanks Grandma and Grandpa D.) out for a spin since the weather was so nice. It was back in shorts for me, no gloves, with the temp being so high. Rosie being the Olympic sprinter that she is, set a bristling pace of 9:43 a mile and proceeded to actually be able to carry a conversation at this speed. I am pretty sure I just mumbled "yup" between gasping for breath.

It was really fun to meet up with CE and The Wife at the park, kind of gives you motivation to run. So thanks to Rosie for putting up with my weird route running and mumbling conversation. I promise to eventually get down to Texas to run with you.....just not in July,.

There was also much rejoicing as JD received 22 GU's for Christmas (mmmmmmmm....glucose polymers), a couple of pair of excellent running socks, a sexy New Balance cold weather jacket (no need really, apparently Michigan is going to have a winter like Tennessee or something), and a sweet water bottle. Full equipment reports to follow after extensive field testing.

I also have a race coming up, the Belle Isle New Years Eve 5k, my last one of 2011, or my first one of 2012, depending on how you look at it. I should be running with some friends, so I am sure a good time will be had by all,. Lots of exciting things going on!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

If You Don't Like the Weather, Go for a 20 Minute Run

Date: 12/15/11
Route:  Some Funky Loop that came to 2.12 miles because of a train
Distance: 2.12 Miles
Pace: 10:08/Mile
Running Temp: Started at 42 (wind chill of 39) ended at (34 wind chill 22)
Wind Speed 25 to 44 mph

All day long, I had longingly gazed out my office window into the giant parking lot beyond. I knew that I would be running today, and with injury and sickness, it had been far to long since I had run last. The temperature outside had been teasing me all day. When I went into work it was 57 degrees outside, in mid-December, in Michigan. There was a time when I came out of the office at lunch, and the sun had broken through the clouds, and I just stood there, arms spread wide, soaking up the sunshine. My mind thought it was May.

As I mentioned, both a bout of sore throat, with all requisite additional symptoms and a small injury had combined to seriously hamper the running the past week.  A few weeks back, I am pretty sure I strained my left lower abdomen while sneezing (my sneezes are the ones they talk about in chaos theory.) I had continued to run, because really it was just a minor pain, but it never actually healed. When I realized that I probably should let it rest, I promptly got sick, so it was actually good timing. The ab muscle had not hurt at all in two days though, and when I saw the weather this morning, I was raring to go.

When getting dressed for the run, I was still focused on the days temperature from earlier. I knew the temp was supposed to drop when a new front came in, but it was still relatively nice when I arrived at home. I had on just shorts and a long sleeve tech shirt when I bounded out the door. I turned the corner from behind our house and was hit with a very strong wind. I promptly went back inside and grabbed my throwaway gloves and my Dri-Fit pullover. I figured I would have no problem with the run temp with that gear.

So I started to run into Downtown Plymouth, and I kid you not, I am running into a wall of wind. I have to lean forward just to keep moving. I figured this was a bad sign as I was running west, right where any new weather would come from. All of sudden the wind got cold. It went from a wind you did not notice except for force to a freezing, bitter wind that ate through clothing. My ears started burning as I kept running. As I arrived in Plymouth (despite a detour to keep running with a train blocking my way), I was frigid. The temp had dropped noticeably and there was a light SNOW coming down. I did not even have on my SmartWool headband. I must have looked like a fool to people driving by.

To make matters worse, I had stepped in a huge puddle and my left foot was soaking wet. Every time I took a stride the wind would cut through the wet shoe and freeze my foot. I hightailed it home as fast as I could muster, at least this time the wind was at my back. When I arrived home I checked the temp, and it had dropped 8 degrees, and 17 with windchill. Of course it was my luck that the return to winter had to happen while I was running. I was running in wind steady at 25mph with gusts over 45. The wind had knocked power out a few towns over.

Has anyone out there ever had the weather change that much on them in a  20 minute run? I am up for hearing some crazy weather stories.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

6 Miles, Drizzle, and a Man Crazier Then I

Date: 12/04/11
Route:  Hines Park 6 Miler
Distance: 6 Miles
Pace: 10:31/Mile
Running Temp: 46
Song I could not get out of my head: "Lose Yourself" by Selected of God Choir (orig. Eminem)

I somehow drag myself, and I mean drag myself away from my nice warm cozy bed (napping was calling to me again), and convince my body to go out for 6 miles. For December, it was a relatively balmy 46 degrees outside. The only problem was that it was drizzling out. Not a steady rain, but enough that if I were going to be outside for an hour I WAS going to get wet. I had on long sleeves and a pair of those flimsy throw away gloves, but other then that just normal running gear. I thought I was being hardcore....46 and rainy, that makes me some kind of ancient warrior or something...right?

So as I am cruising along in Hines Park, being my warrior self by deftly dodging around the puddles, and starting to get the drip drip of freezing water running off my hair onto my neck, I hear a noise. I turn over my shoulder, to see someone running, and I mean really running, not my nice jogging pace. He is quickly gaining on me, and I kid you not, he has on those tiny running shorts and a tank top. This guy looks like he just finished a Tough Mudder, and decided a nice 10 miler would be a good cool down. He had mud caked up his legs as he flew past me. Mumbling a "hi" as he deftly went around me and THROUGH a giant puddle. He was smiling the entire time.

It made me happy to see someone out enjoying the warmth, it is really not often that you get 46 degrees in December here in the Mitten. By the end of the run, I was very wet, and also was smiling. I am looking forward to running outside this winter, it should be a challenge, but rewarding in its own right. I can't wait to run in a snowstorm!

Check out the video above, it is a really sweet remake of an iconic Detroit song.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Mule

Date: 12/01/11
Route:  Library Loop
Distance: 2.5 Miles
Pace: 10:05/Mile
Running Temp: 34, Wind 7mph, Wind Chill of 28.

So The Wife calls me at work, as usual (no milk requests here), and we suddenly remember that we have something past due at the library. I am pretty sure we always have SOMETHING past due at the library, we get special perks because of the amount of fines we pay, just kidding,.....kind of.  I also was planning on running, so in The Wife's infinite wisdom she suggested I run to the library and return the item in question. The obviousness of this idea hits me snack in the mid brain, The Wife is VERY smart. I get be a mule!

While CE is getting read books before bed, I get all ready for my run. For my Southern friends, please note that I am wearing shorts in the picture below. That is accurate, I really don't wear running pants until it gets BELOW freezing. Last I checked 34 degrees is over freezing, so shorts it was.I did put on gloves before running, but other then that, the picture below reflects accurately what I wore on the run.

Yes, that is CE wondering why the heck Dad is disrupting the night time routine to get his picture taken. 

So I put the overdue item in the bag, sling it on my back and jog on over to the Plymouth Library downtown.While I get some funny looks walking around the library, the trip is a resounding success. Not only did I drop off the item in question, I also obtained 3 new items:

1."One Kind Favor" CD by B.B. King
2."Chiefs" A documentary about a Native American HS basketball team and their quest to win a state championship.
3. "Robopocalypse" a book by Daniel H. Wilson

I will make sure to post full reviews of these items as I finish them. It is just like me to return one thing to the library and get out three more. I also have been avoiding telling you the item that was late, as to not embarass The Wife and I, but I suppose I will just admit our dorkiness..... it was Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 1. We ARE that dorky.

Until next time, live long and prosper.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

To Nap or Not to Nap

Date: 11/20/11
Route:  Hines Park 4 Miler
Distance: 4 Miles
Pace: 9:51/mile
Song that got me started: "He Has Made Me Glad" by Insyderz
Song that got me through the wall: "The Wanting Comes in Waves" by The Decemberists
Song that brought me home: "White Room" by Cream

Life with a toddler can be exhausting. As I am sure that many of you out there can remember form your own experiences, there is not much time for R & R. All week I had planned on running a nice long run on Saturday. I was planning on doing 8 miles. Alas, that was not to be.

On the weekend, my long runs usually take place when CE is sleeping. This is make sure that The Wife is not saddled with solo care just so I can take a jog. So we put CE down to nap, and I knew The Wife was going to take a nap. I swear I laid down on the bed to just rest for a few minutes. Of course I wake up an hour later, in that semi-concuss, groggily happy. state. I think it is true that afternoon naps are one of life's great pleasures, and this one had all the qualities of a great one. I felt like I had stolen rest from the day.

I did drag myself out of bed, which is really hard when your wife is all snuggled up in the bed, and had a rather successful 4 mile run. I am really digging on that second song in my list by the Decemberists, fun times there. I am pretty sure I repeated it 4 times. Check them out.

But the lesson here is: Carpe Nap! (nap is not a real Latin word).  Take advantage of those moments that life decides to turn runs into naps, for they are far to fleeting.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Working on my Night Moves or Creepy McCreepers

Date: 11/15/2011
Route: Hines Park 6 Miler (In the dark)
Distance: 5.5 Miles
Pace: 10:11/mile
Total Time: 56:05

With apologies to Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, I definitely was having some fun tonight. For some reason unbeknownst to me, I decided that tonight I would run my 6 mile route. This would not seem to be an odd choice on the surface. However, I am now running my entire weekday routes in the dark, so my usual plan is to stick to neighborhoods with streetlights....not tonight. Tonight I ventured into Hines Park, in the dark, and then promptly it got darker.

When I enter Hines Park, I run down a nice hill into the park, and it was very creepy to descend into darkness. Luckily I was running with my aforementioned LED headlamp, so it was not too bad. I was not going to run into a pothole or anything. I did have to make a minor route adjustment, as I quickly decided that I was not going to run on the two dirt trails that I usually run on this route, I was going to stick to the path.

As I got further and further into the park I started to get creeped out. There was not a person around, and really the only sound is your breathing and the sound of your feet hitting the path. The only light is your headlamp, pushing back the darkness you push forward. I almost bailed on the entire idea and headed out of the park but something made me keep going.

Around mile 1.5 I started to notice that I was having a harder time seeing the path. At first I thought something must be different, maybe it was just darker in this section because it is heavily wooded, or maybe my eyes were adjusting to the darkness. The truth of the matter was that darkness was closing in on me. My headlamp was dying. I was too far into the run to leave the park, at this point turning around would take just as much time as proceeding on my run. So I turned off my light and ran in the darkness.

I started out totally and absolutely scared. Americans are not used to being in total darkness. I cannot even claim that, because by the virtue of being in a major metropolitan area, there was a faint glow all around the park above the trees. But still, this was much darker then I was used to or comfortable in. I was also approaching a highway underpass that was already my biggest concern. I mean highway underpasses are where hobos and drug dealers sleep, right?  

What I thought I was running by

What I actually ran by

BLOG INTERUPTION--- Quick check of my zipcode on (watch out, there is a time sucker of a website) shows that there has been no murders in at least 10 years around here, and very very few assaults, guess I am statistically safe. ---RESUME BLOG

So I am not kidding you that adrenaline starts pumping through my system and I sprint, and I mean sprint through that underpass. Of course the sound of my loud footsteps plus the echoing of the cars going over on the highway above just freak me out more. I emerged on the far side panting and turned back to look at where I had just traveled. Of course there was nothing all.

As I proceed on my route, I start to embrace the darkness. My eyes adjust and it starts to dawn on me how amazing it is to run in the darkness; alone, with nothing but the stars, pavement and rhythm of your breathing to keep you company. It was actually very pleasant to finish out the park portion of my run. The only thing that bothered my is sometimes cars would come down the parkway the path is next to and momentarily blind me, so I started looking the other way when one approached. Other then that, a very peacefull, serene run, even if it was in the dark of night, with no light to guide the way.

Has anyone out there ever ran in the darkness like this? Any cool experiences to share?

Monday, November 7, 2011

I Said BRRRRRR... It's Cold In Here

Cheesy title attributed to this cheesy movie.

I live in the Detroit area, in the southeast corner of the "Mitten," as some of us affectionately call our state. And in case you are totally unfamiliar with global weather gets cold here. Now we are NOT Northern Canada here, if you ever want to feel good about your weather, just pull up Yellowknife, Northwestern Territories, Canada on That will make you feel better in a hurry (looking forward to an average high temp. this week of 12 degree F). But, alas we do get cold around here.

I plan on doing some long distance winter running this year and am currently on the lookout for a good running jacket. Currenlty I just have a Nike half-zip warmup jacket. Here are two candidates:

I really like this jacket for a couple of reasons. First is is cheaper then my other options, coming in at $129. New Balance is also a running company, so I figure that they know how to make running gear. It also has one of those handy pockets for an Ipod, and thumbholes. I also like the general design on this jacket. In classic running store style, my local shop only had these in large and smaller, because everyone who runs is 5'9" 127lbs apparently.  So I have not had an opportunity to try this one on.

This is actually a biking jacket that was recommended by a friendly salesperson at REI. He said that he knows some runners who work at their store who use the jacket for running. This jacket is great in the cold, it is usually work by people biking in the winter. REI is a great place to go get advice on outdoor gear, those people know their stuff, and not from training videos. I like the fact that there is a nice big back pocket and also thumb holes in the arms. I also have tried this jacket on, so that is a plus. The downside is that it is an "athletic fit," which means pretty skin tight. I usually do not like things to be clingy to me while running (long story about HS cross country uniforms). But this is not too tight. I also think I would be mistaken for a deer hunter in the jacket, but that is probably not a deal breaker.

So I don't really know which way I will go, but these two are the top candidates right now. Rest assured that I will give a full review if I decide to get either one. any opinions after reading the specs are greatly appreciated.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Motivation, or Lack Thereof

I have had a very hard time getting motivated since running the Detroit Half. I think that it is partly natural when training for a big event; there is always a let down afterwards. It is probably a good thing to let my body recovery as well. I have not been TOTALLY lazy, running a few times since the half, including a 6 miler last Saturday. I have a 5K that is coming up on New Years Eve, and that is my next race, so I have a few months to get motivated for that one. I think some external motivation may be needed...maybe something along these lines:

I think I would run VERY fast if I was the guy in that drawing.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Bit of a Reach

In my last post, a review of the Detroit Half Marathon, I said that I would be thinking about some goals for running in 2012. I think it is good to have goals, and since I have spent weay to many hours in corporate business planning meetings, I will use the S.M.A.R.T. plan for my 2012 goals. Yup, we are going there. In case you did not know, check out the idea here. Here is what each letter means:

S - Specific. It is much easier to fudge your progress on a goal when it is broad and general. Narrow it down and you can really guage progress.

M - Measurable. No fuzzy pseudo-goals here. Everyone loves goals they can measure. Rosiecat loves it even more cause she is a bon-a-fide scientist. .

A: Attainable. Ok, so I will not be qualifying for the Olympics this year, sorry to disappoint.

R - Realistic. Again, climbing Everest is probably not going to happen.

T - Time Framed - Goals must have a set beginning and an end.

So under this system there can be no fuzzy goals, so in fine JD tradition I will start with two totally fuzzy goals:

1. Have Fun. If I am not doing this and having a good time, then it is all not worth anything
2. Balance running with family. I love The Wife and CE too much to let them not get the attention they deserve.

Ok, now to the goals that follow the S.M.A.R.T. plan

1. Run a 5k in under 9 minutes a mile
   - My fastest 5K this year was the Jamsers 5k @ 9:16 a mile. I rate this goal as highly doable.

2. Run a 10k in under 10 minutes a mile
   - My fastest 10k this year was the Solstice 10k @ 11:09 a mile. I rate this goal as likely.

3. Run a half marathon in under 11 minutes a mile
   - My only half this year was Detroit, which I ran in 11:29 per mile. This is going to be a stretch.

4. Run at least 3 trail runs
   -I only ran 1 in 2011, and I sucked at it, so I just want ot get more of these under my belt.
   - I am also thinking about running one of those crazy obstacle course races in 2013, so good training.

5. Run at least 3 half marathons
   - I am currently scheduled for 2, RockCF in April and Detroit in October....lots of space in the middle.

6. Upkeep this running blog, shooting for two posts a week.

7. Sprint a mile in under 8 minutes.
   - I don't have any record of this, last time I knew I did it was in HS.

So those are my 2012 running goals. As the author I reserve the right to completely change and or add ot these goals. Anyone out there have any 2012 running goals? Of course I welcome thoughts and reactions to mine as well.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Motown Madness

Date: 10/15/2011
Route:  Detroit Half Marathon
Distance: 13.1 Miles
Goal Pace: 12:30/mile
Pace: 11:29/mile (yes that is an accurate chip verified time!)
Total Time: 2:30:32

There is nothing quite like running with 20,000 of your closest friends.

So my Detroit half began at the bright and early time of 4:45 a.m. After a somewhat fitful 6 hours of sleep, I prepared at home in the usual way for a race, totally freaking out. After mowing though my breakfast of oatmeal and a banana, I had to verify everything I packed about 15 times and use the bathroom about the same number of times. Finally I was in the car and driving downtown.

After a little bit of a parking the race being same day as a Lions game, and my normal spot being $40!!!, I was on the People Mover (Motto: "We'll Take You There!") from Greektown over to the starting area. Me and about 200 other people disgorge from the station onto what appears to be complete chaos. It is dark, there is that funky steam coming from the sewer grates and there are people EVERYWHERE. Luckily the race organizers have anticipated this, and handily put someone right near the station helping direct people to where they wanted to go.

Heading over to the gear check I decided I did not need my throwaway gloves. This was a big decision, but it was definitely warmer at the start then past years. I was actually quite comfy in shorts and the race tech shirt. I found my wave, and hooked up with the group that was doing the full at 12:36 per mile. These were the people I figured I would be running with most of the way, so it pays to be friendly. Immediately I struck up a conversation with a woman who was running the full. Turns out she was a triathlete running in her first full marathon. She had run one half, but it was a really small one, with about 500 people. Definitely a different experience for her. She also made me think that I might want to try the Motor City Triathlon, well the sprint version of it anyway.

Before I knew it we were all singing the national anthem, and then the fast runners were off. With the wave starting system, which I personally think is great for a race this size, I get to sit a while while everyone before me takes off. Clearly at a 12:36 pace, I am not anywhere near the front of the pack. So we cross the start line and are off. I decide to stay just in front of my pace group for the first few miles.

I cross the 1 mile mark at 12:30, and I am right ahead of the pace group. Everything is going according to plan. I decide to start to put a tad bit of space between myself and the group. I have had trouble in the past on the incline going up the bridge, so I wanted to make sure if I slowed down I would still be with my pace group. This is where the story diverges so much from the past two years. Instead of having difficulty making it up the bridge, I felt great. I started passing people, and actually felt like doing the Rocky thing at the crest of the bridge. Even with the wind and the rain, I was starting to feel this could be whole different experiance then the last few years. The downhill mile went quickly, and when I turned around at the end of the bridge, my pace group was nowhere in sight.

As a side note, the past few years there has been terrible congestion on the bridge as the race only had one lane. Not this year. We had two full glorious lanes of space and I never experienced any slow downs because of congestion.

I love the Canadian portion of the race. First when you come into Canada there is a guy greeting you. I think they must interview hundreds of people and select the person with the most Canadian accent. They have Barenaked Ladies, who are Canadian, blasting over the speakers and the guy telling jokes in a Canadian accent. It is a great way to meet mile 4.

The run along the riverfront in Canada is nice, there is a good crowd of supporters and some great views of Detroit while you run. I had the fortune of bumping into (literally) a guy while dodging a pothole (see they are not ONLY in Michigan), and it led to one of those great random running friendships that last a couple of miles. He was very kind and we chatted for a bit. We talked running shop, and I learned that he was running between 11:30 and 12 minute miles, so I was cruising along at a very good pace compared to what I had planned. He said he was going to throttle it back going into the tunnel, and I was back on my own again.

The Tunnel.....the famous underwater mile. What a cool experience, and what a crazy thing to throw into the middle of a half marathon. The thing about the tunnel which is great is that it breaks up the monotony, it is definitely something different. However, it is very warm in the tunnel, probably about 65 degrees. When you have been cruising along in 50 degrees that 15 degree bump can be deadly. There is also a pretty steep incline at the end. I can imagine many dreams of PR's have been dashed in the tunnel.

Last year the tunnel was the first place I walked.So my main goal his year was to get out of the tunnel without walking, speed was not a concern. I knew I was in a good place time wise, so I just slowed it down and made it through. When you come out of the tunnel you run between a huge gauntlet of people, which is really a boost to your spirits. I hope one day The Wife and CE can be among them. Also the band playing on top of the Detroit Princess when we entered the Riverwalk was very cool.

The other hard part of the half is right after this section. Between miles 9 and 11 you are running kind of isolated, amongst warehouses and big road ramps. This is the place I lost it last year. This year I just focused on the scenery. I had brought along my Ipod, but so far had not had any desire to break it out. My initial plan was to bust it out here because I knew there would not be a ton of crowd support and I had had trouble in this area of the course before. Not this year. I just kept powering through the miles. The legs still felt great. I had eaten my first GU at mile 7 and my second at 9, and I could definitely feel the energy boost from them. There are also these amazing people handing out M&M's somewhere in this stretch. M&M's are VERY tasty in the middle of the race. so thanks whoever you are.

Then we were into Mexicantown and Corktown. Two really fun areas to run though. You have to love the Mariachi band that is always playing in Mexicantown. We also run right by the Honey Bee Market, who makes and sells the best chorizo on the planet. Corktown is great because you know you are getting kind of close to the finish and there is great crowd support. Basically it is an excuse for a block party, and the residents come out in full force.

You leave Corktown at mile 12, and at this point the anticipation of a truly great time was running through my head. My legs were starting to get that blocky feeling, where they move in big lumps of mass instead of a nice fluid motion, but I was so close to the finish I pushed through it. I look downa t my watch and see I am at 2:28 minutes and I start to think I could do this under 2 and half hours. I started ot pick up the pace considerably.

At mile 13 the poor full marathoners separate off. I want to run one sometime in my life, but it still pains me to think that they are just at the half way point. Those people are, I am just a runner. So there was the final kick down the stretch, the triumphant fist pump as I glided across the finish line. 2:30:32, an absolutely stunning time for me. This was over 18 minutes faster then last year, a crazy improvement.

Then there was the realization that what I had just done was actually not that hard. I did not feel bad, I was not stumbling, I was thirsty and hungry, but not in any way in bad shape. My body had gone 13.1 miles and was asking.....really, that is all you got? So I feel great about this race, I exceeded all my expectations, but at the same time this has made me hungry for more. My body seems to be telling me that it is willing to go faster, farther or some combination of both. I know personally I could still stand to lose another 25 or 30 pounds, even over the 25 I have lost this year so far. So maybe it is not ALL crazy people in those full marathons.

I am already exited about next year, and I am going to talk about goal setting in my next post (inspired by Rosiecat), because I think it is good to lay out goals way in advance so you can get context and perspective. Also, I already registered for my first half of next year, it is the Rock CF Half Marathon. This will be my first year doing more then one half. Bring it.

Thanks Detroit, it was grand.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Looooong Run

Date: 10/8/2011
Route:  Hines Park 6 Miler x 2
Distance: 12 Miles
Pace: 12:01/mile
No music today. 

I just stopped hurting today. That would be 3 days after my long run on Saturday. The long run is something of a legend in most half-marathon training circles. If you follow (and actually stick to) a set training schedule, like the one posted on Marathon Rookie, you will do several longer runs culminating in about a 12 miler (THE long run). This would be a nice ramp up for those people who have nothing but time and are way more dedicated then myself.  For those of us with lives...or small children, a set schedule is pretty hard to keep to. We tend to do the brute force method. I tried to run about three times a week, even while in Chicago for a bachelor party. Most of my runs were between 4 and 6 miles, and I ran a 9 miler 2 weeks ago. So instead of a nice slow and steady ramp up to twelve, I jumped right from 9 to 12. Ouchie.

Luckily I had some great company for the first 6 miles of this run. We did the first loop together and all the talking helped me moderate my pace. I got to fly solo for the last 6. Everything was fine until about mile 10. That is when the legs got the "you want me to move...seriously??" feeling. I ground out those last miles, but man was it tough.

The poor Wife greets me as I stumble into the house and make a beeline for a chair and the largest Gatorade I can find. I am sitting there panting (yup panting, you runners know what I am talking about), just trying to moderate my body temperature, and I am sure I look just about dead. My saintly wife gets the hint and turns on the overhead fan and goes outside to do something. I was in that state of semi-consciousness where you are somewhat detached from the pain your body is in, you are really just focused on inputs...oxygen, liquid, and calories (when you burn 2400 calories running 12 miles you get very hungry.) There is no pain, only miles and miles behind you.

I love running.

I am so ready for this half on Sunday.

So here is my public pronouncement of my goal for Detroit. I will run this race no slower then 12:30/mile, 30 seconds a mile faster then last year. I am pretty confident in hitting that goal, in fact the hardest part will be going that slow at the beginning so I have energy left at the end. I have one more small run left tomorrow (2 or 3 at the most), and then just rest and hydration up till Sunday. See you in a few days.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A Never Ending Story

Date: 10/3/2011
Route:  Hines Park 6 Miler
Distance: 6 Miles
Pace: 9:49/mile
Song that got me started: "No Rain" by Blind Melon
Song that got me through the wall: "Never Ending Story (Extended Mix)" by Nello
Song that brought me home: "Chain Hang Low'" by Jibbs

Swwwweeeet Shot from the Movie

My song that got me though the wall today was a techno remix of the theme song from the great 80's movie "The Never Ending Story." Songs motivate me for different reasons while running, and this song is included in my mix mainly because of the beat, which is very conducive to running. After my run, which was in fact scheduled for 4 miles, and became a 6 miler becasue I was feeling so dang good, I reflected on how the title of this movie is much like running in general.

Running truly is the never ending story. You can look at that with negativity and think about how tired you are and how much farther you have to go, but I prefer to look at it from another perspective. To me, there is always another interesting thing around the next bend, another race to run, another mile to put in. There are literally thousands of stories waiting to be written in my running life.

So I think it was rather appropriate for the run's wall to be overcome with the Never Ending Story theme song. Seeing as with this run complete, I am down to THE LONG RUN (scheduled for Saturday the 8th, with company!) before my half on the 16th, it seems that this chapter of my running life is coming to a close. But I am already doing what runners do, thinking and planning for next year. What races, what training schedule, what goals. Will I finally get The Wife to run a 5k with me? Will I become "Annoying Stroller Guy?" 8 something minute miles?!?! Triathlons...OK dial it back a little.....maybe.

So much is yet to be written in this story, I am excited.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

Race Diary: Jamesers 5K

Date: 09/27/2011
Distance: 3.1 Miles
Pace: 9:16/mile
Song that got me started: "Get Ready 4 This" by 2 Unlimited
---Yes this is from a Jock Jams CD...I am THAT old. 
Song that got me through the wall: HAHAHA, no wall today.
Song that brought me home: "Bad Boys'" by Inner Circle

So, I won my age division. Let me repeat that; JD, massive shoulders guy, who proudly proclaims himself to be "not very fast" won his age division. I wish that meant I was back to running the times I ran in HS, a good ole' 21 minute 5k. Truthfully, this win was more of a result of this run being mostly full of walkers and it being first time event.Let me reiterate that to my knowledge, I hav never placed first in anything run related. Now throw me in a coney dog eating contest...yummy. However, I will still pride myself on a good race, my fastest 5K in the "modern" JD running era.

This was also a great run for two other reasons. The first was that The Wife and CE were along for the ride. They were troopers and stuck it out, even though start time temps were in the mid 40's with a nice stiff 25 MPH wind blowing. Please note that there was only one other person brave...errr stupid enough to run this in a t-shirt and shorts. It was chilly. There really is nothing better then running knowing that your wife and kid are there waiting for you at the end of the run. It really gives you that motivation to kick it in that extra gear down the stretch. Secondly, this run benefited a great organization, Kaleidoscope Kids, who provide end of life hospice care to kids and their families. This being a first time event, they still attracted over 100 participants and raised over $2500 for Kaleidoscope Kids.

This was my last race before the Detroit Half, which is coming up on the 16th (so soon!) I am continuing my training through this week with the "LONG" run coming up this Saturday,. I am still deciding on whether to do 10 or 12 miles. I suppose it will be a game time decision. Anyone out there looking for some LSD (long, slow, distance, get your mind out of the gutter), just let me know!


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Extra Protein Makes You Fast

Date: 09/27/2011
Distance: 4.01 miles
Pace: 9:45/mile
Route: Hines Park 4 Miler
Song that got me started: "It Is Well" by Kutless
Song that got me through the wall: "Get a Grip" by Aerosmith
Song that brought me home: "Conch and Flute Air'" by Song of the Lakes

Personal Note: Rocked an amazing first mile in 8:51. This would be my first sub nine minute mile in about...forever.  Also note I was a little tired later in the run and my time suffered, but man I felt fast that first mile. Regularly scheduled blog post below.

After my nice Chicago interlude, it was great to be back on familiar territory, Hines Park.. One thing has changed on this route however is that I am now finishing in darkness. Accordingly, I am rocking a nice LED headlamp to get me through the darkness.

This lamp has several advantages, the biggest ones being that other people can see me and I don't run into trees. Along with that comes the downside that apparently you are a giant pulsating target for any and all bugs on the trail. I try to imagine what they see. First is a giant attractive light bouncing down the trail, then the massive amount of carbon dioxide my body is putting out hits their radar. It is like a kamikaze attack. I don't stand a chance. Right about mile 3 of this run, I run though some woods on the connecting trail between Hines Drive and Ann Arbor Trail. Hey look, it is a map. Check out the trail that runs just to the right of I-275. Yup, this is where JD becomes the all you can eat buffet.

So it is inevitable that some of these nice crunchies end up in my mouth. Tasty, I know. I figure I am getting some free run protein, I mean it is literally their loss, so I am OK with it. I might have to get some goggles if I am going to keep running this route at night.

In a completely separate line of thought, I am running in a 5K this weekend called the Jamesers 5K. This race is in memory of James Perez, whose parents we knew personally. The race benefits Kaleidoscope Kids, a hospice service for teens and younger children. During this run today, I was thinking about this coming race, and how my daughter CE  and The Wife will be there to see me at the finish. Truly what a blessing it is to be a father and husband

Monday, September 26, 2011

Big Shoulders or Hey, That Guy Looks Like a Local

Date: 09/25/2011
Distance: 4.02 miles
Pace: 9:36/mile
Route: Chicago Lakeshore
Song that got me started: "Walk Like an Egyptian" by The Bangles
Song that got me through the wall: "Devil is a Lady" by Chain Gang of 1974
Song that brought me home: "Wanna be Startin' Somethin'" by Michael Jackson

Chicago, the "City of Big Shoulders." I prefer "Arsenal of Democracy" personally, but as a nickname,  that is not to shabby, much better then "Cucumber Capital of the World", Wauchula, FL....seriously. 

YUP, that is a cucumber on the city seal
I was in Chicago for a bachelor party of a good friend. We had our fun on Saturday night, tank top on said bachelor, $7 mini beers (yeah Chicago), and a really fun time at a dueling piano bar. Also think 4am bedtime, and a recliner to sleep in. So what do I decide to do in the morning...a nice 4 mile run along the lakeshore.
So after approximately 4 hours of sleep and a tasty breakfast of Powerbar Gel Blasts (proudly made in the Czech Republic), I took the "L" over to Grant Park and had a nice run on the path right by the lake. OK, so it was not a nice run. It was raining, not just a little rain, but more like a "hey, you might as well just jump in that big lake over there" kind of wet. It was also windy. Chicago is also known as the "Windy City," yup, got that one right. While running, I kept thinking of something my HS cross country coach used to tell us: "never trust your body in the first mile." My body was screaming at me to stop, take a couple of Advil, and go to sleep for about 10 hours. I told it to quit complaining, digest those tasty gel thingies and move me forward. Crazily enough, it listened.

Here is my top 10 observations about Chicago:

1. Hey look, functional mass transit, how novel.
2. Apparently being in running clothes makes you instantly look local, as I had two seperate people ask me directions while wearing them.
3. $7 for 8oz of Stella is just too much, I don't care where you are. We are talking about the Budweiser of Europe here.
4. Thanks to Mother Hubbard's Bar in Downtown Chicago, for outfitting the bachelor in a very nice pink tank top. That made the rest of the night very interesting.
5. The guy I stayed with lives in an area that basically is the meatpacking district. Very interesting when your neighbor is the Bridgeford packing plant (free beef sticks for all!)
6. The new Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, welcomed me to Chicago with an insane toll on the "Chicago Skyway." Thanks buddy!
7. Never start the night with a shot of Absinthe.
8. Hearing Marilyn Manson on dueling pianos is just weird. I mean the original is weird enough. I say stick to Billy Joel, etc.
10. Sigh, Chicago has used it's downtown lakefront property so well. I had a serious case of city envy while running down there. Props to the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy for trying to get this rolling in Detroit. We have a little catching up to do.

So it is back to the D for me. Very nice to be home with the Wife and CE.  I have one more run planned this week and then a 5K this weekend! More about that on the next installment of this fine example of the written word.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Conversation and Company

Date: 09/18/2011
Distance: 4.20 miles
Pace: 9:58/mile
Route: Hines Park 4 miler
Great Running Company: Rosiecat!

I have to admit, I was a little nervous before my run on Sunday with Rosiecat. It was the kind of nervous you get before doing something with someone who is obviously better at the activity then you. To be frank, you don’t want to embarrass yourself. See Rosiecat is a lean, mean running machine. She is not built like an NFL tight end, like say…myself. She is an incredibly modest person, but she ran cross country at the college we both attended, and while not the fastest on the team, no one politely asked her to leave either. Also, I would like to point out that she recently ran a half marathon in under two hours… I will just keep dreaming.

So apparently trying to be modest she suggested that we “only” do four miles. I am pretty sure she could have sprinted those four miles, but instead she settled for my modest pace and we had a great run peppered with great conversation. These are the best runs.

Sometimes running can get quite lonesome, especially distance running. That is why a lot of us runners are careening about your neighborhood wearing ear buds, it helps keep us sane. So it was nice to have company on a run, but it is also hard to carry on a conversation, because you are you know…running. In general conversation takes minutes, not seconds. It generally goes something like this:

Person 1: run…how are the…run run….kids?
Person 2: great…run run…..we went to the….run run…beach over the…run run… weekend
Person 1: Yeah it was….run run…great weather….run run … for the beach.
Person 2: Man, that hill sucked…run run

The real problem is when you get to a rather long sentence with words like antidisestablishmentarianism in it (ok that never happens but you get the idea.)

This has advantages and disadvantages. One advantage is you rarely ever blurt something stupid out; you just have too much time to think about what to say. Usually conversation wanders in and out of topics, with running holding a decent amount of the total, especially reflecting/complainnig about the run or a previous run or a quad injury or something.  I am convinced that Olympic sprinters complain to each other in the 100m dash about the track being uneven.

Thanks so much to Rosiecat for not embarrassing me, and politely jogging along at a warm up pace for 4 miles, not to mention the great conversation. Do you out there enjoy the solitary run, or you all about moving in roving packs of crazed runners jabbering to one another?


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Stories From The Trail

When I am posting a run diary, as I hope to do often on this blog, I do not plan on just giving the bare bones facts....that would be an awfully boring blog! I also realize that most people do not care if my left quad was a little sore, or if it was raining.  I hope to be able to tell stories from the run, and relate this to all things in life. It is truly amazing the things you see and experience on a run. AS you can see my music taste is VERY eclectic so be prepared for a little randomness on that end. Here is a sample run diary from my run today:

Date: 09/15/2011
Distance: 5.03 miles
Pace: 9:50/mile
Route: Splash Park
Song that got me started: "Lights (Bassnectar Remix)" by Ellie Gouling
Song that got me through the wall: "Anchor" by Satelites & Sirens
Song that brought me home: "Fantastic Voyage" by Coolio

The great thing about this route, the one I affectionately call "Splashpark," is that it takes me through so many people. There are times when you want to see people,. and times you want solitude when you run. I only take this route when I want people interaction. This route takes me through Downtown Plymouth (I get to run by the fountain) and then out of town to a park with a splashpark in it. In the summer this route was always buzzing with people. Whether it was diners at restruants in Plymouth to millions of kids getting soaked, this route was jammed with people.

As the temperature has dropped, and my weekday runs start finishing in the dark, I have been seeing less people. Today, it was an eerily lonesome run. Don't get me wrong, there are times when I want solitude on a run, but I was not expecting this much on this route. Usually I have to dodge around people strolling through Plymouth, and get strange looks from people eating dinner on the patios of restaurants. Today, I just breezed through. The strange looks I think are a kind way of people saying... "You are waaaay to big to be running." It is not often that you see a 6'1", broad shouldered, 250lb man running through the streets, so I can understand their slight amazement.

I also like running this route because I feel that I run better when people are watching. Sad to say, but a little exterior motivation is always a good thing. Usually on this route I am always by people except for maybe miles 3 and the start of 4, so there is always a bunch of people to look "fast" for. Don't try and pretend you are better then that. I am convinced we all try to show off a little when we know others are around. Who hasn't picked up the pace a little when a "ruunerguy" or "runnergal" comes around the corner speeding along at 7"30/mile towards you. I know I do.

So my question to you, dear reader is whether you like solitude or company on a route? What are some characteristics of your favorite route?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Just wanted to upload this picture of me back in HS as proof that I did run cross country. That is me is those sexy red shorts... and look, I am even in front of someone else!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Running Through Life

I have another blog called American Life, but that kind of faded out with the arrival of CE back last year, but I am also hoping to start publishing there again. As many of you out there is Blogland know, a new born child tends to take all of your available time, and then some. With prayer and perseverance, we have made it through the first year and time constraints have eased somewhat. This is a return to blogging, but also a refocusing on what now consumes a good portion of my free time....running.

To give you a bit of background, I ran cross country in high school, but I was not very good. I was the runner usually first out of scoring, although sometimes I would matter by bumping others down. My pride and joy was a time of 21:07 for a 5k. Of course my teammates were running in the 16's and 17's so I seemed SO SLOW. Now looking back 21:07 seems almost mythic, that is just over 7 minutes a mile. I don't even know if I could sprint a 7 minute mile right now. This brings me the point of the running.

I have sporadically run over the past few years, nothing too serious. This winter, I became literally disgusted with myself. My weight had steadily increased over the years and I was rapidly becoming severely overweight. The thought of my daughter seeing me as this fat old man scared me. Let me contrast this with the Wife, who is the only person to over get told by the doctor to "eat more salt, your blood pressure is a tad low." We make interesting contrasts in food preferences; I love potatoes and bad things like hamburgers, fried food and Taco Bell. She loves.....veggies. Strange, those veggies.

So I have been running this year, and while this blog will recount with some regularity my running exploits, it will also be about life through the lens of running. I believe that distance running gives the runner time to think and reflect, so hopefully I will be able to provide adequate entertainment, and relate to you what it is like for a regular overweight guy to suddenly get semi-serious about running. Cheers.