Cold Running

Today’s run was 35 minutes and I continued to improve my performance:

Total distance: 6.32 km
Average/km: 5:34
Best/km: 5:11

temp-dec8-09

It was also officially™ below freezing but I am finding these temperatures to not be a problem. I heat up quickly and the sweat keeps me warm, if stinky.

There were three other joggers out this afternoon. A woman was running in a very casual manner and was easily passed. A male jogger with a nice red cap was also passed — twice! I assume he was doing the walk/run thing. The third jogger actually passed me around the 30 minute mark. I knew better than to try to catch up but I did notice his speed leveled off once he was safely by me and I kept pace for the rest of the time he was on the trail.

A guy was flying a small radio-controlled helicopter at one of the baseball diamonds, adding another potential threat to the list that includes soccer balls, dogd and gravel-throwing fat kids. I imagine the list of people who can claim to have been struck by a helicopter while jogging is a fairly short one.

The smashed VCR or whatever it was had been cleared away but the microwave was still sitting beside the trail. Curiously, the brown paper bag that had been sitting inside it was gone.

I contemplated going for 40 minutes but I think I’ll wait till next week for that. There was an unpleasant diesel or tar-like smell hanging in the air for the last 10 minutes or so that made the final stretch a bit unpleasant.

Where microwaves go to die

There is always something new to see when I go jogging in China Creek Park.

Today it was litter.

At one corner of the path was some kind of electronics device that had been smashed so all that was left were bits of black plastic and other unidentifiable parts. It may have been a VCR. Why would someone bring a VCR to the park and smash it to bits? I don’t know. Maybe it was an homage to Office Space.

There was also a microwave abandoned along the southern stretch, its door left open and, curiously, inside was a plate holding a brown paper bag. I shall not speculate on its contents.

As expected, today’s run was the coldest yet, with the temperature hovering right around the freezing mark. To spice things up further, wind gusts up to 24km/h were blowing. The trail, especially in the shade, has now become near rock-hard, which means the uneven muddy parts are like trying to navigate mini-stalagmites.

When is the only time you are surrounded by girls and yet have to watch for balls? When they’re playing soccer. Fortunately, none of their kicking sent the ball my way. The spectators were shouting mostly to keep warm, I think. At one point I smelled an odor that was very much reminiscent of a pulp mill and there are no pulp mills anywhere around so the only thought was that it was coming from the port-o-potty at the NW corner of the trail but there was no way someone using it could make it smell that bad. After I ran by the smell diminished, so I was wrong. They may want to put a biohazard sign on the door. Yikes.

The run went well and I kept going for 35 minutes instead of the planned 30. As expected, my pace is still well off what it once was but we’ll see how the next few runs stack up.

Notable stats:

Average pace: 5.42/km
Overall distance: 6.2 km
Best km: 5:18/km

Cool running

3ºC again for today’s run but a bit of a breeze made it feel colder than that. By the time I got to the park I was looking forward to generating a little sweat to keep warm.

The run went well and I noted a small group of teens sitting on the playground equipment. The guys had their jackets off and were just wearing t-shirts. One had shorts. Several looked like they were ready to audition for the part of Jabba in Star Wars: The High School Musical, so I’m guessing they didn’t feel the cold quite the same way as me and my skinny ass.

They also had a very cute dog and the guys both found it so hilarious to pretend to throw the ball and watch the dog run out in the field and stand there confused that they did this repeatedly, including my final lap when one of the knuckleheads stepped right in front of me to throw it after another incredibly funny fake-out.

Still, I posted my best 30 minute run since returning and the right calf presented no issues. My distance for the last three 30 minute runs, with average speed/km (first to latest):

5.17 km, 5:50/km
5.25 km, 5:45/km
5.40 km, 5:35/km

I’m still well off my pre-injury pace but as long as I slowly improve I’m fine with that.

The first half of my run had me seriously considering a toque as my ears got a wee bit chilly but the second half they warmed up sufficiently. We’ll see what they say in my first sub-freezing run.

If you are what you read…

…then I’m a guy who jogs and likes to write.

Which would be pretty accurate.

I buy two magazines regularly: Runner’s World and Writer’s Digest. Maybe I just like magazines with apostrophes in the titles. I’ll admit having an incredibly hot guy on the cover of Runner’s World helped persuade me to take a look at the first issue I picked up but I’ve been buying it regularly since (the covers alternate male and female). It’s somewhat surprising how much can be written about an activity that consists entirely of just putting one foot ahead of the other and repeating.

Writer’s Digest is a magazine I’ve been buying on and off for many years but now that I’m writing more I can actually try employing some of their techniques and suggestions. Note: do not ever subscribe to their online newsletter. They spam your inbox like crazy trying to sell you seminars, books and probably Writer’s Digest widgets and toilet paper. I routinely archive without reading so I should probably unsubscribe at some point.

I will occasionally buy other writing or health magazines and the odd issue of Asimov’s of Fantasy & Science Fiction. What I don’t buy anymore are computer magazines (pretty much replaced by the web) and gaming magazines (also pretty much replaced by the web and most have died, besides). I lament several magazines I used to buy that went defunct a long time ago, notably The Twilight Zone magazine (which published excellent short fiction) and Marvel Illustrated, best described as “Heavy Metal without the breast obsession”. Okay, I sometimes also bought Heavy Metal because where else could you read stories where people rode astride giant penises like the sandworms of Arrakis? I also miss Omni. I wish there was still a good general interest science magazine around (no, Discover doesn’t quite do it). Mad magazine is one of the few I genuinely outgrew without even being conscious of it. They probably lost their gestalt when they began putting in real ads to pay the bills, anyway. That’s my cynical take and I’m stickin’ to tingit!

A run in the park

One worrisome note before my jog (which I delayed a day because of it): a few nights ago I woke up and felt a minor twinge in my right calf. It didn’t seem to be the same area that got hurt and forced me to sit out on running for four weeks but it’s the same calf so I was mildly freaked. I waited an extra day and when I ran today there were a few times that I felt the twinge again. It didn’t exactly hurt and it feels fine now, so I’m hoping that maybe I just pulled a random muscle slightly while having one of my increasingly weird dreams.

The run itself was under a clear sky with the temperature a crisp 3ºC. I wore the tights today and feel it was the right call. Because of the colder weather the trail had firmed up and was mostly navigable again. I ran 30 minutes and improved my distance and time/km vs. the last run, so I’m slowly coming back to speed. Definitely not pushing it this, though. :P I felt pretty good for most of the run, mostly evidenced by my relaxed breathing. It’s pretty much the canary in the mine for me now. If my breathing is labored, I slow down.

The graffiti on the playground equipment had been mostly removed, too. Nice to see that sort of stuff get dealt with quickly.

Jogging: now featuring random hate and incitement!

Today’s jog was 30 minutes. It was overcast and about 8ºC, so pretty mild comparatively. I ended up taking the gloves off for the last few laps. This means my hands were getting warm, not that I was running down and trying to punch out another jogger. The highlight was nearly twisting my ankle dodging around one of the mud pit-like corners. That would have made for a truly awesome third run back.

Someone with spray paint and an apparent loathing for authority had been busy at the adjacent playground, as you can say in the image below I captured with my iPod camera:

kc_park

(You can click for a larger version if you like. The text reads “Kill Cops”.)

A charming piece of work to greet the pre-schoolers as they climb up to the slide into anarchy! More anarchy symbols were festooned across the rest of the equipment by whatever blithering idiot did this.

I was also going to post a pic of my dirty running shoes but frankly they just don’t look dirty enough. The forecast for the week suggests drier and colder weather to come so I seem to have lucked out so far as the rain goes on my return to jogging.

In which I apologize to a gizmo

After buying a replacement Nike sensor, I was able to successfully revive my original one. Thank you, Murphy.

Today’s run was done under an overcast sky with the temperature a brisk 5ºC. I still went triple-layered up top and the verdict is two is definitely sufficient for this weather. I opted for shorts this time and though it was a bit chilly en route to the park, I was fine once I’d started running.

It looks like Tiger Woods won’t be whispering me sweet nothings through my nano for awhile yet. I ran for 25 minutes and not surprisingly, my pace was pretty slow. I could definitely feel the stiffness in my legs holding me back but I (wisely) chose not to fight it. I stretched before and after the run. It will be interesting to see how my performance improves after such a long layoff. One thing I’ve noted is my stamina is still quite good — I don’t feel exhausted after these shorter runs. I may try for 30 minutes next. Excelsior!

Mud run

After a one-day delay I finally hit the trail again after more than five weeks of non-jogging (or walking, if you prefer).

Conditions were 8ºC and overcast, with the threat of rain. By the time I got to China Creek Park it was misty, which is enough to thoroughly soak you without actually raining. The mist persisted throughout the run. I discovered my jacket is less than watertight.

I had dressed in three layers — t-shirt, long-sleeve shirt and light jacket, plus tights instead of shorts. I also wore a pair of running gloves. There was one other jogger at the park and all he was wearing was a t-shirt and shorts, both white. He looked like he had escaped from the set of Chariots of Fire. In retrospect I was probably slightly overdressed, especially considering there was little wind but it wasn’t bad. I warmed up all over but never got hot. Two layers would have sufficed up top and shorts are probably good until the temperature drops to at 5 degrees.

After a near steady month of rain large sections of the path at China Creek had become bog-like and pretty much impassable, forcing me to run inside on the grass for much of its length. Not a big deal, though. My pace was deliberately steady — no bursts of speed anywhere along the way — and I ran for a planned 20 minutes or so. I think I completed six laps, though I wasn’t keeping strict track.

I would have kept strict track except the Nike sensor apparently died during its long spell of inactivity, even though I turned it off specifically to save the battery. This just makes me hate Apple even more because they always pull this kind of crap (and yes, it’s an Apple product made in conjunction with Nike). Boo Apple! Boo, I say! Until I can find a decent alternative I’m stuck with getting a new sensor, though. I picture Steve Jobs rubbing his hands together with glee.

I’ll be running again in a couple of days and may extend the distance a little bit. We’ll see how it goes but I feel pretty good now. No real soreness and the injured calf seems to be fully healed.

Run like hell

Tomorrow is the day marked on my calendar as “I may run again!” It has now been four weeks of non-running as I recover from my sprained calf. Actually, it’s been more than five weeks as I took a few days off before going to the clinic but who’s counting? The answer is I am, dammit. I hated not being able to run.

The last time I did a complete run I was wearing a t-shirt and shorts and it was dry. Tomorrow the forecast is calling for rain and 7 Celsius for the high so it’ll be interesting to see the difference. I am planning on returning to China Creek for a nice easy 20 minute run. I imagine the trail is a bit soggy now, though running in the rain is something I find kind of refreshing. Watch as I eat these words soon!

Sprained calf: 1, Jogging: 0

In this seemingly innocent run I “tweaked” my right calf, a factor I noted in my next two runs. At the time I thought it unremarkable enough that I did not mention it at all. This past Monday I tried running and after half a lap the sensation in my right calf was setting off the proverbial alarm bells. I quit at that point and today went to the clinic. The doctor did a bit of squeezing and found the magic spot, as evidenced by my face going through interesting contortions. The verdict: I had sprained my calf and even more brilliantly, kept running on it, which risked making it much worse.

He wondered if I had extended medical through work that would cover physio-therapy. I explained that I did not and he offhandedly suggested checking the Internet for a little self-help there. He then outlined some measures to take after running: stretching, icing the calf and so on. Oh, and that I was not to do any running for at least the next four weeks.

This, in a word, sucks. I guess I’ll have more time to write now.

I’ve marked Monday November 23rd on my calendar with “I can run now!” My one consolation is the doctor could have recommended six weeks but felt (literally!) that four weeks should be good.

Of grass mowed and slow runs

Today I ran early due to a doctor’s appointment in the afternoon (early in this case meaning noon). Despite general rain forecasts for the week, the sky cleared up and it was sunny for nearly the entire jog. Should have left the jacket at home.

My tender right calf proved most vexing and I slowed my pace to reduce the chance of aggravating it. I was certainly successful in slowing, posting my worst times for a 35-minute run. A wiener dog puppy out in the field was chasing a ball and his barks sounded like they were filled with helium. This very cute fellow added +1 to my spirit. There was also a riding mower out cutting the grass alongside the trail, creating noise and belching diesel as I ran by it. -1 to spirit. There was also a road crew just up the hill next to the park and they were drilling with water, resulting in a highly unpleasant hissing noise. -1 again. The pleasant aroma of fresh-cut grass barely offset this. Overall, a bit of a wash.

I passed one person who was jogging so slowly I could have passed her if I’d been walking. It was some weird anti-jog. Maybe she was trying to run in place and not getting it quite right.

There was no burst of speed for the last five minutes, just quietly bearing it until the Nike lady told me to stop. When she did I hit the wrong command to end the run and it continued for another five seconds as I stood there fumbling with the iPod controls. I’m beginning to hate that sleek, sexy but difficult-to-use thing.