Dogged run

Tonight’s run was done under pleasant conditions: 21ºC, sunny and a light breeze.

Little did I know the four-legged doom to come!

The first thing I notice when I get to the park is a lot more dogs than usual, most of them gathered in the southeast corner of the field. It looks like some kind of training event. I am a bit wary at the sheer number of our canine friends. I don’t worry about being attacked by dogs or anything like that, but in the park they tend to run and play and not pay attention to where they are going, much like little kids.

I set off. My starting km is average but I seem to be clicking along fine. Around the 4K mark I hear something above the ELO playing on my iPod and a guy goes jogging past me on my right. The nerve! He also has silver hair. I don’t care if he’s only 22, it rankles me. I make a mild effort to catch up but he keeps inching ahead. I opt to bide my time and merely keep pace until I can pull the ol’ tortoise and the hare routine.

At just under 5K I am coming out of the southwest corner of the path. I spot a pair of small dogs playing just off the path to my left. That’s fine. They’re not in my way. I jog by them and think nothing more of it. A few moments later I glance down and spot fur at my feet. This isn’t good. There is no time to register anything else over the next couple of seconds, the events just happen and my body reacts automatically. My feet catch on the dogs and I tumble forward, my hands going out to catch my fall. I hit the ground with both palms and my left knee. I get partway up and look back to the dogs, which are already off playing elsewhere, oblivious to the events. “Stupid dogs,” I mutter, but what I’m really thinking is “stupid dog owner” and then my eyes meet with one of them. He stands there and looks at me blankly. I am still hearing ELO but his lips aren’t moving.

I decide the run is more important and get back up, resuming my pace without even stopping to brush the dirt away.

A short time later I see a little kid on a bike ahead of me, standing squarely in the middle of the path. He looks to be making a wobbly attempt to move forward. I can see where this is heading, especially as the front wheel of the bike starts turning in my direction. I shout, “Look out, kid!” as I give him a wide berth. My run is being partly fueled by anger at this point.

Later still a woman is crossing from the field, across the path, to the street. We are on a direct collision course. She remains utterly oblivious to my approach. If I had been inclined to, I could have easily blindsided her and knocked her down flat. Instead, I loop around her and mutter something about paying attention. Original I am not.

I finish with a time of 54:29 and an average pace of 5:26 — my best 10K since April! The extra zest of being miffed has clearly given me an extra boost. Despite this, I am hoping I do not trip over any more dogs in the future. I’d rather get my extra boosts through things like inspiration or divine providence or something.

Chart (red denotes running in especially warm conditions, green denotes cramps during run):

km Aug 11 Aug 7 Aug 4
1 km 5:07 5:04 5:02
2 km 5:09 5:08 5:08
3 km 5:13 5:12 5:15
4 km 5:16 5:16 5:19
5 km 5:18 5:19 5:23
6 km 5:20 5:21 5:26
7 km 5:22 5:23 5:29
8 km 5:24 5:26 5:32
9 km 5:26 5:27 5:35
10 km 5:26 5:27 5:37

Bonus shot of my grubby hands after the run:

Soggy summer run

Today was the first day of rain in over a month, a welcome respite even for Vancouverites. I had delayed my run by one day knowing and even welcoming the chance to run in a brisk shower. Crazy, I know.

A light rain fell through the length of the run and the temperature was a much cooler 15ºC, a full 10 degrees cooler than my previous run. The difference in the results is plain in the chart below, as my pace was dramatically improved through the middle and final stretches.

Not surprisingly, the park was nearly deserted, save for a few dedicated dog walkers and one other lone jogger who left not too long after I started.

I had no problems of note on the run and actually put in a bit of an extra effort to maintain my pace the last few km, with good results to show for it. I typically overdressed by wearing my running jacket and had it tied around my waist before hitting 2 km. The iPod was once again unruly and I was unable to stop the workout until the 10.1 km mark, about 80m farther than I planned. On the plus side, my pace for that 100m was a brisk 5:12/km. :P

Overall time was 55:04 and probably under 55 minutes if you just count up to 10K. Average pace was 5:27, matching my best since returning to 10Ks last month.

Chart (red denotes running in especially warm conditions, green denotes cramps during run):

km Aug 7 Aug 4
1 km 5:04 5:02
2 km 5:08 5:08
3 km 5:12 5:15
4 km 5:16 5:19
5 km 5:19 5:23
6 km 5:21 5:26
7 km 5:23 5:29
8 km 5:26 5:32
9 km 5:27 5:35
10 km 5:27 5:37

A muggy evening run

It was rather warm today and even by 7 p.m. when I headed out for my run it was still about 25ºC, although the sky was hazy. A moderate breeze was blowing. By the end of the run it had cooled a bit, down to around 22ºC.

The first km was my best yet since returning to 10K runs — 5:02 — but I slid quickly after that, falling to 5:08 by the second km and 5:15 by the third. I kept slogging along and at the 6K mark developed a cramp. Fortunately this one only lasted 30 seconds or so and was gone. I have two established patterns as of this run: my pace when it is hot (hot defined as around 25ºC or higher) seems to be consistently around 5:37/km, as it was tonight and my previous (hot) morning run. Many of the average times are identical. The other pattern is in the second half of my run where my performance evens out and each km sees a smaller gap than in the first half. Even tonight once I was past the halfway mark, I was only adding two seconds per km. I like this, as it bodes well for if and when I decide to increase the distance beyond 10K.

There were an unusually large number of puppies at the park. Puppies are very distracting, thanks to their inherent bonuses for cuteness.

Chart:

Chart (red denotes running in especially warm conditions, green denotes cramps during run):

km Aug 4 July 28 July 25 July 21 July 17 July 13 July 11 July 5
1 km 5:02 5:06 5:10 5:05 5:06 5:10 5:15 5:10
2 km 5:08 5:09 5:13 5:08 5:09 5:14 5:20 5:13
3 km 5:15 5:14 5:15 5:14 5:12 5:18 5:24 5:14
4 km 5:19 5:19 5:18 5:19 5:14 5:21 5:27 5:18
5 km 5:23 5:23 5:20 5:24 5:17 5:23 5:29 5:21
6 km 5:26 5:26 5:22 5:28 5:20 5:25 5:31 5:24
7 km 5:29 5:29 5:24 5:32 5:22 5:26 5:33 5:27
8 km 5:32 5:32 5:26 5:36 5:24 5:29 5:35 5:30
9 km 5:35 5:35 5:28 5:39 5:26 5:30 5:36 5:33
10 km 5:37 5:38 5:28 5:40 5:27 5:30 5:37 5:34

Midday manure run

With a number of activities on tap for the evening and not wanting to fall behind on my running schedule I decided to do a rare morning run today, starting out just before 11 a.m. The temperature was around 20ºC when I started and creeping past 24ºC by the time I finished less than an hour later. There was a moderate wind and not a cloud in the sky.

Since it was late morning I figured the sun might become an issue and as pointed out above, the temperature climbed fairly quickly and it was quite noticeable. The shade from the trees and the breeze provided a welcome respite from the direct sun but there aren’t a lot of trees lining the path and the wind wasn’t exactly cool. My first 2 km were still brisk but after that the heat began to get to me and my pace slowed by a whopping 11 seconds over the next two km. As usual I found some equilibrium in the second half of the run and things evened out a bit, but I ended with a pace of 5:37/km (5:38 according to the Nike site and its ‘new math’). While this isn’t a great result, considering how warm it was, the fact that I had to go to the bathroom for the better part of the run, the pungent smell of manure wafting across the park and finally a desire to get some food as noon approached, I’m not going to complain too much.

I will, however, stick to the evenings when I can in the future. The difference in comfort is striking.

Chart (red denotes running in especially warm conditions, green denotes cramps during run):

Distance July 28 July 25 July 21 July 17 July 13 July 11 July 5
1 km 5:06 5:10 5:05 5:06 5:10 5:15 5:10
2 km 5:09 5:13 5:08 5:09 5:14 5:20 5:13
3 km 5:14 5:15 5:14 5:12 5:18 5:24 5:14
4 km 5:19 5:18 5:19 5:14 5:21 5:27 5:18
5 km 5:23 5:20 5:24 5:17 5:23 5:29 5:21
6 km 5:26 5:22 5:28 5:20 5:25 5:31 5:24
7 km 5:29 5:24 5:32 5:22 5:26 5:33 5:27
8 km 5:32 5:26 5:36 5:24 5:29 5:35 5:30
9 km 5:35 5:28 5:39 5:26 5:30 5:36 5:33
10 km 5:38 5:28 5:40 5:27 5:30 5:37 5:34

Mr. Blue Sky (the cramp-free run)

Tonight’s run was a bit warmer than the last few — 23ºC, with a light breeze and the sun low in the sky. When I got to the park I decided it wasn’t quite low enough so I walked a lap, looking for any holes on the path that I could fill in (holes made by energetic dogs or perhaps the coyotes the sign on the fence warns about but are never seen). Finding the path hole-free, I set out, keenly aware of the cramptastic time I had on my last run. My start was a bit more cautious than usual as a result but I suffered no cramps or other body discomforts and turned in a solid run, matching my pre-cramp pace of 5:27* and coming in under 55 minutes.

The park was pretty quiet, with no games being played and less than half a dozen people out with their dogs. The guy with the cute puppy that refused to play fetch was back and this time the puppy seemed willing to go along with his owner’s plan, aggressively hunting down the thrown balls. For awhile, anyway.

Chart:

Distance July 25st July 21st July 17th July 13th July 11th July 5th
1 km 5:10 5:05 5:06 5:10 5:15 5:10
2 km 5:13 5:08 5:09 5:14 5:20 5:13
3 km 5:15 5:14 5:12 5:18 5:24 5:14
4 km 5:18 5:19 5:14 5:21 5:27 5:18
5 km 5:20 5:24 5:17 5:23 5:29 5:21
6 km 5:22 5:28 5:20 5:25 5:31 5:24
7 km 5:24 5:32 5:22 5:26 5:33 5:27
8 km 5:26 5:36 5:24 5:29 5:35 5:30
9 km 5:28 5:39 5:26 5:30 5:36 5:33
10 km 5:28 5:40 5:27 5:30 5:37 5:34

* The Nike site reported my pace at 5:28 and I’m recording that here but the actual Nike+ sensor says it was 5:27. I believe the Nike site rounds up, so I’m sticking with 5:27 as the ‘official’ pace, darn it.

Cramps! Bees! Baseball! A run!

21ºC and high cloud for tonight’s run. For a change of pace, there was virtually no wind.

A baseball game was in progress at the eastern diamond and I was reminded yet again at what a great motivator baseball is for running. This particular set of teams were applying what you call serious wood to the ball, cracking them out regularly at high velocity and with an alarming tendency to head straight toward the northern stretch of the path I run on. I tried to pick up the pace each time I neared so I’d clear the line of fire before the next pitch was released. One ball went into a tree, which is as you might guess is not part of the playing field. Another ball got knocked into the street. I consider myself lucky to have escaped without a goose egg on the noggin.

I had a good start but tragedy struck between the 2 and 3 km mark. Okay, not really tragedy, more like a cramp in my abdomen. I ate a little more than an hour before running and it’s the only thing I can think of to explain it. Whatever the cause, the cramp was enough to put a serious dent in my pace. I almost packed it in but usually a cramp eases up after a few km, so I continued on. This particular cramp made itself comfy, though, and persisted through the remainder of the run. Stupid cramp.

As a result, my pace was a very sluggish 5:39, a whopping 12 seconds off my last run, but I at least got the full 10 km in. And Tiger Woods didn’t congratulate me for the 100th time for completing another 5,000 miles, so there’s that, too.

The final insult came at the end when two bees stubbornly kept flying around the fountain. I was parched but they would not leave. I ran the fountain spigot and splashed water. They buzzed about a bit then settled back, one of them perching on top of the actual spigot itself. A nearby pail was half-full of water for thirsty dogs. I proceeded to take the bucket and dump it directly on top of the fountain. This persuaded the bees to leave long enough for me to get a few sting-free gulps of water.

The chart nicely illustrates where the cramp struck. Note how the pace in the 3rd and 4th km shoots up by a ridiculous 6 and 5 seconds. That pretty much sealed the run right there. By the end my pace had moved closer to what it would normally be, meaning the cramp had either lessened or enough endorphins kicked in for me to mostly ignore it.

Distance July 21st July 17th July 13th July 11th July 5th
1 km 5:05 5:06 5:10 5:15 5:10
2 km 5:08 5:09 5:14 5:20 5:13
3 km 5:14 5:12 5:18 5:24 5:14
4 km 5:19 5:14 5:21 5:27 5:18
5 km 5:24 5:17 5:23 5:29 5:21
6 km 5:28 5:20 5:25 5:31 5:24
7 km 5:32 5:22 5:26 5:33 5:27
8 km 5:36 5:24 5:29 5:35 5:30
9 km 5:39 5:26 5:30 5:36 5:33
10 km 5:40 5:27 5:30 5:37 5:34

Breathe in the (bug-filled) air

Tonight’s run was baseball and soccer-free, so the risk of getting whacked by sporting equipment was down to zero. Yay! It was 21ºC, sunny and with only a very slight breeze blowing.

A few other joggers were out, along with the usual contingent of people with their dogs, including a guy with a puppy that refused, utterly, to chase after a thrown ball. I think the owner got more exercise than the puppy.

I started faster tonight, coming in at 5:06 and had no dramatic slowdowns during the run. Only a second separated the last two km, with my average pace being 5:27, three seconds better than my previous pace. I also decided to run farther since I knew I wouldn’t be breaking any speed records and actually went on even more than I had intended because my sweaty fingers could not get the scroll wheel on the iPod to turn so I could select End Workout from the menu. An unconventional way to push yourself, I suppose. The total distance was 10.64 km. Curiously the pace for the final .64 km shows as 5:04, which is blazingly fast for me after already running 10 km. I wonder if it was bugged or if I really did boogie once I was off the clock.

The title of this post refers to the clouds of gnats or gnat-like bugs that hang around the path near the trees. I’m pretty sure I inhaled about 50,000 of them along the way. At one point I could feel a bunch of them softly bouncing off my face as I ran through one of the clouds (which are very difficult to see until you’re right on them). I’ve eaten worse.

The chart:

Distance July 17th July 13th July 11th July 5th
1 km 5:06 5:10 5:15 5:10
2 km 5:09 5:14 5:20 5:13
3 km 5:12 5:18 5:24 5:14
4 km 5:14 5:21 5:27 5:18
5 km 5:17 5:23 5:29 5:21
6 km 5:20 5:25 5:31 5:24
7 km 5:22 5:26 5:33 5:27
8 km 5:24 5:29 5:35 5:30
9 km 5:26 5:30 5:36 5:33
10 km 5:27 5:30 5:37 5:34

The “beat the fountain” run

I had a couple of goals for tonight’s run. I wanted to improve the time on my first km and tighten up the overall pace a bit. When I got into the final km, I created a third goal: beat the fountain. In my previous run I had finished a little ways past it but this time it seemed possible to finish before reaching it.

And I did. Woo. Plus there was only one bee again and this time it was down low so I didn’t have to shush it away when I went to get a post-run drink.

However, there were four soccer balls kicked into my path during the run. You’ll never get to the World Cup with that kind of ball control, guys! The guy on the scooter with the dog in tow also made a re-appearance. For awhile it felt like the jogging version of Groundhog Day.

There were two baseball games underway when I arrived but both wrapped up in the first 15 minutes or so. At one diamond they later resumed with some ad hoc baseball-ish game using a large plastic ball (the kind you kick around). It was a bit weird but everyone was very excited about playing. Almost too excited, if you know what I mean.

Speaking of which, for three laps a couple of guys were parked near the path smoking those funny cigarettes. It was a bit distracting.

For the run itself, it was 18ºC, with a mild breeze and the sun low enough to not be an issue. Yesterday we had winds gusting up to 70 km/h so there were a few branches on the path but nothing that couldn’t be easily navigated around.

My first lap time was a much better 5:10 and I had another strong, consistent finish. In fact, my 9th and 10th km times were identical. My overall pace was 5:30, a seven second improvement over the previous 10K. Overall I’m pleased with the progress.

Chart:

Distance July 13th July 11th July 5th
1 km 5:10 5:15 5:10
2 km 5:14 5:20 5:13
3 km 5:18 5:24 5:14
4 km 5:21 5:27 5:18
5 km 5:23 5:29 5:21
6 km 5:25 5:31 5:24
7 km 5:26 5:33 5:27
8 km 5:29 5:35 5:30
9 km 5:30 5:36 5:33
10 km 5:30 5:37 5:34

An evening run full of numbers

What a difference nine degrees makes! Not to mention there was no waterslide getting in the way of tonight’s run.

I had an atypically slow start (tentative, I suppose) and that actually affected my overall time, a rather unusual occurrence. The good news is I steadied out into a comfortable pace and maintained it for the remaining 8 km, ending with an average pace of 5:37. Stamina was not an issue at all, to my surprise. My legs are feeling a bit sore, but I don’t consider this odd given that it is only my second 10K in the last 80+ days. I plan on doing some strength exercises on the off days to reduce the chance of injury.

And now the stats:

  • Cap Tug Number (CTN): 3 (slick forehead played a factor here)
  • Temperature: 21ºC
  • Number of bees at the fountain: 1 (it had been plugged up again and was once more a mini-reservoir. I dumped a handful of water on the bee twice before it was convinced to leave)
  • Number of smarty pants joggers who ran past me: 1 (he stopped running after getting about half a lap ahead)
  • Number of guys wearing climbing gear in a nearby tree: 1
  • Number of waterslides: 0 (yay!)
  • Number of scrimmage soccer games in progress: 1
  • Number of soccer balls kicked in front of me due to the above: 2
  • Number of kids who didn’t seem to realize than standing in the middle of the path does in fact create an obstacle: 3
  • Number of guys sans shirt: 1
  • Number of women sans shirt: 0
  • Number of old men on electric scooters racing along the path with a dog in tow: 1
  • Number of people out with their dogs: many
  • Number of people out with their cats: 0
  • Number of coyotes spotted: 0
  • Number of drinks I took from the fountain at the end of the run: 3

And the comparison chart where you can see how the times get closer the longer the distance:

Distance July 11th July 5th
1 km 5:15 5:10
2 km 5:20 5:13
3 km 5:24 5:14
4 km 5:27 5:18
5 km 5:29 5:21
6 km 5:31 5:24
7 km 5:33 5:27
8 km 5:35 5:30
9 km 5:36 5:33
10 km 5:37 5:34

Bees, water and no run

I had planned things perfectly for today’s run. With the sun setting at 9:16 p.m. and temperatures slightly cooler today, I headed out just before 8 p.m. This would give me enough time to finish a 10K just as the sun was beginning to set, insuring that most of the run would be done in the shade.

I got to the park and notice something over on the large hill that runs along the western side. It is a makeshift waterslide. It extends down the hill and well across the path. It is not something I could easily jink around. I contemplate what to do as kids go sliding down, hollering with delight. (The photo is a low light capture from my iPod’s video camera, so the quality of the image is not exactly high.)

I figure they might pack it in soon so I stick around and head to the fountain for a drink while I wait. The fountain is full of bees, like a bad Nicolas Cage movie. Of late the ‘bowl’ of the fountain has been brimming with water, like a mini-reservoir, but apparently someone unplugged whatever was in there keeping the water from draining. The now dry fountain has apparently become the hot new bee gathering spot. This makes getting a drink of water rather more hazardous than I’d like so I passed.

In the meantime I noticed that a section of the waterslide had become unattached. I also noticed someone laying at the bottom of the hill spread eagle and not really moving much. It looks like this unlucky girl had managed to snag and pull away one of the plastic sections of the slide then tumbled the rest of the way to the bottom. I did see a little movement as people gathered around her so perhaps she was just winded. Amazingly, someone began stitching the wayward bit of the slide back together. Injury or death would not stop the fun tonight!

I went home.

Here’s hoping they all decide to go to the beach tomorrow.

Hot doubles run

Hot = temperature (30ºC)
Doubles = two baseball games in progress
Run = what I tried to do today!

It seems the weather decided to skip the usual intro to summer with seasonal temperatures and jumped straight into the heat wave part. With the thermometer reporting 30ºC I headed down to China Creek Park at 7 p.m., hoping the sun would be low enough to take the edge off the heat. For the first km I was okay but after that I got really hot and not in the sexy way, more in the ‘sweating like crazy and feeling like you’re going to melt’ way. The trail was only about one-quarter in the shade at this point and I had to make a couple of stops at the water fountain by the 3K mark. The second time I did a dog stood patiently beside me, waiting his turn.

The problem with stopping for a drink is while the water refreshes, resuming your pace takes a little more effort than maintaining it. You also heat up a lot while you are stopped at the fountain, which exacerbates the whole resumption part.

There were two baseball games underway and at one point someone in the southeast diamond hit a ball down the third base line which sent it flying over the trail about 15 feet ahead of me. The girl who ran across and threw it back either did not see me or did not care. All that existed to her was The Ball. If I hadn’t momentarily paused I would have caught it in the side of my head. That was the only near-hit, though.

By the time I got to 4K I knew I would not make it to 10. I had simply started too early and I am not yet back in good enough condition to battle through this kind of heat. I decided I would go to 5K and see how I felt. As I hit 5K I also exited a patch of shade and moved back into the blazing sun. I called it good and stopped there.

My pace was actually 1 second slower than my 10K run three days ago. Ouch. On the plus side, I officially passed the 500 km mark, according to my Nike+ sensor.

Here’s a comparison of how the two runs stack up to the 5K mark. You can see how I pooped out after 1 km.

Distance July 8th July 5th
1 km 5:11 5:10
2 km 5:18 5:13
3 km 5:24 5:14
4 km 5:30 5:18
5 km 5:36 5:21

Dust run

Today I had vowed to do my first post-injury 10K run.

And I did! Woo!

It was breezy but I must have tugged with an extra bit of manliness on my cap because the Cap Tug Number was only 1. It was about 19ºC and sunny, though I found the sun was not really an issue until the last km or so.

I had girded myself for the run by dividing it into chunks that could be managed more easily psychologically — the first few km as one, getting to that halfway mark as another and so on. As I passed 5 km I was reasonably confident I could make it. By the time I hit 8 km I knew I would and even thought about trying that little extra burst of speed in the final stretch. It was in the last km that my body began feeling like a furnace, so instead of turning on the boosters, I focused on just maintaining my pace. I added roughly three seconds every km and ended with an average pace of 5.34/km, which is pretty decent for 75 days between 10Ks, so I’m fairly pleased with how it went.

As expected on a sunny afternoon there were a decent number of people in the park but no remarkable incidents to report. Tiger Woods congratulated me for another 250 miles completed. Yet again.

Comparison chart of today’s 10K and the last one on April 21st:

Distance July 5th April 21st
1 km 5:10 5:04
2 km 5:13 5:10
3 km 5:14 5:14
4 km 5:18 5:18
5 km 5:21 5:21
6 km 5:24 5:24
7 km 5:27 5:26
8 km 5:30 5:28
9 km 5:33 5:29
10 km 5:34 5:30