March 31, 2011

Spring is here, and so is a 5-miler today

The air today was clear, and the Wasatch Range mountains, covered with snow, are beautiful. I especially like the view of Lone Peak. That is my favorite mountain in the Wasatch Range. I daydream of having a house half way up the mountain, hidden from view and accessible only by trail or helicopter. The house is modern, powered entirely by solar cells, and expensive. The trail to the house is hidden and not part of the trail system used by hikers. Cell phone and satellite Internet access are the only contact the house has with society. I daydream of that house a lot, especially on beautiful days such as this in which the mountains of the Wasatch Range stand out in all their splendor.

The temperature was in the high 60s (F), and there was lots of sun and beautiful clouds. A 3-mph or so tail wind blew me the 2.5 miles from the East Pavilion in South Jordan to the tunnel (flooded) under 12300 South. I went a bit slower than normal, and I enjoyed the run and walk. Having the timer beep me when it was time to change pace was nice, although I did notice that sometimes I was still counting in my mind. On the way back, I began to get too warm, and there wasn't much I could do but plod on to the end of the run. What had been a tail wind while I was going out was now a head wind, and I was grateful for the cooling effect of the breeze. There is only one bench along the Draper City side of the trail, and I stopped there for a couple of minutes and gazed at Lone Peak.

I saw a lot of walkers, runners, cyclists, and skaters on the path. One guy, who was being pulled by two large dogs passed me as fast as he would if he were on a bicycle. Those dogs weren't stopping for anybody. One small dog, as I passed him, came over to me and licked my hand a few times -- a very friendly and happy dog.

The level in the River was down a small amount today. My wife heard on the news that the snow pack in the mountains for the whole state of Utah is 130 - 200% of normal and that the mountain lands are saturated with water. I really hope we have a cool spring so the snow pack melts slowly. If we don't, we'll have major floods all over the state. The Virgin River down by St. George is of special concern since it flows through residential areas, and the land adjacent to the river is pretty flat. At least in Utah and Salt Lake counties, the land near the Jordan River is raised due to hills near the river or to simple dikes that the pioneers built when they settled this area.

March 29, 2011

Today was my first run with Galloway's timer

I ran a 3.5-mile rest run using Galloway's RunWalkRun timer. It worked pretty good. The first thing I did after I started the timer and began running was to start counting steps. I told myself, "Ops... I don't do that anymore." I did find myself off and on counting steps; it takes time to change a habit. It was nice to be able to watch the ducks and birds and the river as I journeyed down the path and not to be mentally counting my steps. Shortly after starting the run, I set the change-alarm to 1 second, and I set the beep volume to softer. I clipped the timer to my jacket pocket so the beeping wouldn't be close to my ears.

Today was a sunny day with a cool wind. The temperatures was in the low 50s, and I felt fine as long as I kept moving. I did have my long pants and my wind breaker, but since I run on an empty stomach, my body wasn't creating much heat as I ran. There were a few walkers, runners, and cyclists on the path, but not as many as I had thought would be out.

I left home planning on running a 5-mile rest run, but my legs started getting tired during the last half-mile, and I stopped when I reached the parking lot. This was my first run since Wednesday of last week, and this week is a recovery week.

March 28, 2011

No more counting left-foot-steps when I run

I've been using Jeff Galloway's RunWalkRun method of running (alternating phases of running and walking), and I've been counting the number of times my left foot hits the ground while I run or walk to "measure" the length of each phase. However, continually counting left-foot-steps is tedious and distracting, and I've been hoping there would be a better way to measure the time spent in each phase. My hope has come true. I just bought an interval timer from Jeff Galloway that measures in minutes and seconds the lengths of two laps. One lap is used for running and the other lap is used for walking. I've posted a review of the timer in my runninginjuryfree site.

Building Fitness to Fight Disease

by Wendy

I've had a lot of ups and downs already for 2011. It seems like every time I get the ball rolling, something knocks me back and my RA flares up. Following a vacation at the beginning of March, I discovered I had picked up a Giardia infection and needed antibiotics. Rheumatoid Arthritis flares up with the immune system ramps up so in addition to the stomach upset and the strong antibiotics, I had RA slam dunking me too. I was in the throws of a real pity party, and had to cut my mileage down, but I refused to stop. It took a couple of weeks of determined fighting, but I got over the illness and medication and beat back the flare through slow steady runs.

The hardest aspect of this strategy is convincing yourself to exercise when it seems like it is the last thing you want to do, but it is SO important to get out there. Fitness is like a knights shining armor. Without being in good shape, you are like one of the peasants on the front line of a medieval battle with just a cotton tunic and a pitch fork. Sure, you might get lucky and survive the fight, you might even get a couple of good licks in, but chances are better that you are going to get squashed like a bug.

On the other hand, a person that has taken good care of themselves, exercised regularly, maintained a healthy weight, and feed their body with a healthy nutritious diet, is like the knight up on his horse in full body armor with a spear in his hand. Is he invincible? No, of course not, but he has a much better chance of putting up a good fight and going home whole at the end of the day.

There are many things in our lives over which we have no control. Illness, accidents, and bad genes may be our unavoidable lot, but there are many things we CAN control including how we take care of ourselves. So will you show up to the battle with a pitch fork or a spear?

Wendy Nail (a.k.a. The Rusted Runner)

March 23, 2011

A very tired 6.5 miles

My wakeup heart rate was 55, and I felt pretty good. However, as soon as I started running, I could tell I was tired. There was a 10 mph headwind, and I thought that might be causing me to be tired. I slowed down and ran for shorter distances before I walked. I was looking forward to having a tailwind after I turned around, but after I had gone about half a mile, the tailwind stopped. Oh well, I thought, at least it isn't a headwind. On the way back I took several rest breaks of about a minute each.

During my return, my nose started to drip, and I realized I was coming down with a cold. I've been thinking about possible reasons why I might be coming down with a cold. I haven't been exposed to someone with a cold, and I've been sleeping very good. Colds are one of the symptoms of over doing it, and my guess is that is the cause of my cold. Two days ago I ran against the strongest headwind I've experienced in 38 years of running, and that effort likely put a lot of stress on my body.

In addition, I've been adding stress to my body in two ways: increasing my total distance and increasing the amount of running before I walk. I've been adding 0.5 miles to my total distance every couple of weeks, and I'm going to just increase my distance once a month. This will allow my body to adapt more to the increases in distance. I've been adding 1 left-foot-step to my running before I walk. I had gotten up to 90 seconds of running, and I'm going to drop back to 75 seconds and hold that value constant until I stop adding to my total distance. In other words, I'm going to allow more time for my body to adapt to increases in stress. When I was younger, I could handle stress better, but I'm older and have to treat my body accordingly.

The weather today was almost perfect for running: temperature in the low 60s (F) and lots of sun. The rest of the week will be colder, cloudy, and rain showers in the day and snow showers at night.

March 21, 2011

Strongest wind I've ever run against

My wakeup heart rate was 55, and I left home looking forward to a great 5-mile rest-run. However, after a short distance, I knew I'd be doing well to just finish my run. There was a stiff headwind (the weather report says 12 mph with gusts up to 35 mph; my wife heard something about gusts up to 50 mph), and I knew I had to slow down to prevent me from aborting the run for tired legs and lack of energy. I've never run with such a strong headwind! I fought the wind for a mile, and then I slowed down and took longer walks. I was glad to reach the turn-around point and to have the gusts pushing me forward instead of backward. On the way back, some of the gusts were so strong that I was almost sprinting due to the wind pushing me. I tried to slow down, but the wind just kept pushing me to greater speeds.

When I started the run, I could see the bottom of the Wasatch mountains (the tops were covered by clouds), but by the time I had turned around, the storm was entering the Salt Lake valley, and the Wasatch mountains were completely covered by clouds. It rained most of the way back -- not a heavy rain but the wind blew the rain drops and made it seem like a heavy rain. The air temperature was in the low 50s (F), and I had no problem keeping warm. I wore long pants and three layers on my core. My nylon jacket does a great job stopping the wind, but as I've commented before, the jacket needs to be sprayed with silicone so it will keep the rain out.

I saw a few runners, several walkers with dogs, and two cyclists. One walker stopped me and said I was brave to be out in a storm. I commented that it was easier having a tailwind rather than a headwind. I was glad he didn't have far to go to get to his car, because he had no jacket and a short sleeved shirt. I think he was the brave one. Or was he the foolish one? Were we all foolish? Nah! It's fun to run in the wind and rain, and it makes getting home seem awfully nice....

March 19, 2011

Did another 6.5 miles

I was happy when I measured my wakeup heart rate this morning, because it was down to 56. It has been above 60 for a month. I've been trying to get sufficient sleep and to not eat late at night, and my body finally is recovering from the stress that caused my WHR to be high.

I felt pretty good during the run. I ran/walked/ran 136 left-foot-steps running and 66 lfs walking. I didn't stop to rest and kept that ratio of running and walking for the whole distance. I did start to get tired during the last mile or so, but I was able to keep running for the 136 lfs, which is about 90 seconds.

The temperature was in the high 50s during my run, but there was a 10 mph wind blowing and the sky was cloudy (it has been raining during the evening, and just moments ago the rain turned to wet snow. Before I left for my run, I looked at the temperature and decided it was a good day for shorts. So, that and my new Pearl iSUMi T-shirt and my wind breaker is what I wore. As soon as I started running, I knew I had made a mistake -- I should have worn long pants an an extra layer over my core. I was cold. However, after about two miles, my body warmed up and I felt fine during the rest of the run (not warm, just fine, meaning just a little bit cold). When a person starts running, his or her body diverts warm blood into the core of the body where the critical internal organs are, and the person's arms and legs get cold. However, after the core is warm, blood is sent to the arms and legs and they get warmer. For me, this process takes about two miles.

Saw a strange black bird

During my run I saw a big black bird walking by some bushes. It was about the size of a small chicken, but it didn't look like a chicken. The body and legs were pure black. It had a small red comb, and there was a large white spot on its neck. And, it had a fan-tail. Not a fan tale like turkeys have that span 180 degrees, but a fan-tail that spanned about 45 degrees. It had a small head, and I could hardly see its beak. At first I thought it was a pet chicken that had gotten lose, but when I saw its tail, I decided it wasn't a chicken.

I'm slowly adopting the Chi method of running

A method of running called Chi is becoming popular. Two attributes of running-form procribed by Chi are mid-foot strike and leaning forward a bit from the ankles. I'm automatically changing from a heel striker to a mid-foot striker because I run a fast stride rate of about 180 steps per minute. A faster stride rate means I take smaller steps, and (for me at least) smaller steps mean I hit the ground with my mid-foot instead of with my heel.

A few days ago I was reading about Chi, and I read that I should lean slightly forward (from the ankles not the waist) so that gravity will pull me forward. I've been trying that, and it really works. I run faster and with less effort due to the effect of gravity on my body. By leaning forward slightly, my center of gravity is slightly in front of my feet, and that causes gravity to pull me forward instead of just pulling me down. It doesn't take much of a lean to get the benefit of gravity. In fact, if I lean forward too much, I'll fall down. The risk of falling down is even greater when I'm going down a hill. By taking smaller steps, due to a fast stride rate, my foot hits the ground when the leg is moving backward, and this means my leg isn't doing all of the work to propel me. It is just lightly touches the ground to keep me moving.

March 18, 2011

I was interviewed by RunPals

Yesterday I was interviewed by runpals.com They are getting runners from each state to introduce their state to other runners.

http://www.runpals.com/utah-running.html

March 16, 2011

Extended my mid-week run to 6.5 miles

I ran 6.5 miles on the Jordan River Parkway today. I started and ended at the parking lot at 100th South in South Jordan City. I went south into Draper and then returned to the parking lot. The air temperature was in the high 50s (F) when I started and was 50 when I ended. For the first 1.5 miles (approximately), there was a 10-15 mph head wind. Then, the wind changed direction and was a tail wind until I turned around and then was a head wind for most of the return. With about a mile to go, the wind stopped and it started to sprinkle. During the last 1/4 mile, the rain got quite heavy. I wasn't dressed for rain (I wore running shorts, a long sleeved cotton T-shirt, and my wide-brimmed hat), and I was glad to be almost finished when the rain got heavier. In fact, at about the time the wind changed direction, low clouds had covered the Wasatch mountains on the east side of the valley, and I thought a heavy rain would soon appear. However, about a mile later I noticed the low clouds were gone, and I could see the mountains again.

For the first couple of miles, I ran/walked/ran 134 left-foot-steps running and 64 lfs walking. Then, for a couple of miles, I ran 90 lfs and walked 64 lfs. Then for the next mile I ran 134 lfs and walked 66 lfs. With a mile and a quarter to go, a woman runner passed me. She then slowed down and ran with me the mile to the parking lot at 100th South. We visited about various running things. Then, at the parking lot, she headed west to her house and I ran the last quarter mile to finish my run, ending up at the parking lot again. I hope she made it home before the heavy rain started.

My wakeup heart rate was 59 this morning. It has been 60-62 for the past two or three weeks. I don't know why it is high. A lack of sleep is a common reason for my wakeup heart rate to be high, but I've been getting good sleep most of the recent nights. My normal wakeup heart rate is 50-53.

During the second mile, I picked up several pieces of litter, probably consuming a minute for that "duty" of a good citizen. If you zoom in on the graph of my run (as explained in the next paragraph), you'll see several blips to the left or right of the path when I left the path to get litter.

Here is a graph of my run today. The data for the map was collected by my new Garmin Forerunner 110 GPS and was uploaded to my free account at the Garmin Connect web site. If your mouse has a wheel, you can use the wheel to zoom in for a closer view of the map; if no wheel, use the +- in the upper left part of the graphic. If you zoom in and look at 106th South (Jordan River Parkway), you'll see the detour I had to make due to the tunnel under the street being flooded. If you stay zoomed in and look at 114th South, you'll see where I crossed the river on a new Parkway-path bridge and continued my run in the city of Draper. In the lower right corner of the graph, you'll see a View Details button that you can click to get of gory details about my run.

March 14, 2011

Completed a 3.5 mile rest run today

The temperature was in the high 50s during my run. The sky was overcast with some moments of sun. No wind, and it was a great day for running (and walking and cycling).

I was curious to see how far I could run without walking, and I made it to the 0.25 mile mark. At that point my legs were just starting to feel tired. I then ran 132 left-foot-steps and walked 66 lfs for the next two miles. By then I was definitely getting tired, and I dropped to 66 lfs running and 45 lfs walking.

The Jordan River is still high, and the tunnel under 106th South is still flooded. Rain is forecast for Wednesday through Friday, so the river will continue to be high and the tunnel will continue to be flooded.

March 10, 2011

Did 6 miles again but not quite like I'd hoped

When I left home to run, I was hoping I'd be able to repeat my success of Monday to run at least 1.5 miles without stopping. However, after 0.25 miles I knew I had to walk a bit. There was a 10-15 mph head wind, and that helped sap my energy. I walked for about a minute and then ran for about 0.15 miles and had to walk again. I switched to running 230 left-foot-steps and walking 66 lfs and did that for about three miles. I then switched to running 66 lfs and walking 50 lfs and completed the six miles. I did take several short sitting breaks on the way back.

I'm not surprised that I couldn't repeat my running of 1.5 miles. Running 1.5 miles with no walking is a big increase in stress from the alternating of running and walking that I have been doing. Our bodies don't handle big increases in stress very well.

I think that I would like to increase the amount of running that I'm doing, but I don't want to do it in one big jump like I did on Monday. I've been adding 1 lfs each time I run, but I think I'll try adding 2 lfs each time I run and keep the walking the same (66 lfs).

The temperature today was in the mid 60s (F). Just three days ago the daytime temperature was in the mid 30s and we had 5 inches of snow at night. Today, all of the snow on the ground is melted. I just hope the snow pack in the mountains doesn't melt fast. If it does, we'll likely have floods.

March 7, 2011

Today was a day I've looked forward to

I ran 1.5 miles out and back on the north-bound segment from 90th South. I didn't stop for a rest and I didn't walk. I started my run, planning on doing a 5-mile rest run/walk, like I've been doing, alternating about a minute and a half of running and a minute of walking. However, I felt pretty good and thought I'd see how far I could run before I had to walk. When I got to the small hill at 0.6 miles, I thought I'd see if I could make it to the turn around point at 0.75 miles. I reached that point and decided to see if I could make it back to the parking lot -- I did, and I felt pretty good.

It was raining during my run. Not a heavy rain but a steady run. On the way back I noticed a few snow flakes mixed in with the rain, and by the time I got back to the parking lot it was all snow and was coming down pretty good. I decided I had pushed my body enough with a no-walk run, and I aborted the 5-miles and went home. Also, the temperature during my run was 35 (F), and I wanted to get home before the Parkway path and roads started to freeze. It snowed for a couple of hours after I got home. I haven't checked outside, but we probably have an inch or two of wet snow. I really need to get a can of Silicone spray and do my nylon pants and jacket. The rain and snow went right through the pants and jacket, and I was wet when I got in the house.

11:33 PM: I just checked outside, and it's still snowing. There is about 5 inches of snow. I'm glad I ran today and won't be running tomorrow. My next running day will be on Thursday.

March 5, 2011

A lot has happened during the past two years

Two years ago yesterday, as I recovered from serious blood clots, my legs were bandaged like a mummy to help get rid of the 38 pounds that I gained from the clots, I was wearing full-leg compression stockings, and I was walking 0.65 miles and running no miles. Today I'm rid of the bandages, rid of the compression stockings, I've lost 28 pounds of weight, and I'm running not quite a minute and a half and walking a minute for a total distance of 6 miles twice a week and 5 miles once a week. Yes, a lot has happened during the past two years.

We all have our trials that we go through. During the trials we think they will never end, but once they're over we realize they weren't so bad after all. Trials in life are part of being human and are actually good for us, because, if we endure them, they help us gain strength and be better people. Of course, if we don't endure and give up, our trials can sink us (actually we sink ourselves).

6 more miles of running and walking

You do 16 runs and what do you get
Another day older and stronger, you bet
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go
I'm doing my next run even tho I'm slow.

Speaking of being slow, during my run today I passed a lady and her two dogs (she was going north and I was going south). About a quarter mile later I turned around and headed north. I passed the lady while she was stopped so she could talk on her cell phone. I completed that running-segment and started walking. Guess what? She passed me. As soon as I started running again, I passed her. I am a slow walker because I'm resting during my walks, and it's common for walkers to pass me while I'm walking.

I ran for 129 left-foot-steps and walked for 16 lfs. I stopped twice to rest for a minute, after 3 1/4 miles and again after 5 1/4 miles. The temperature during my late-afternoon run was in the low 50s, (F) and it was a great running day. I started with 2 layers of clothing but took my nylon jacket off during the middle of the run and then put it back on towards the end of the run. I wore a long sleeved cotton T-shirt under the jacket, and just the T was about right for the middle of the run. Today I ran back and forth north of 106th South instead of south of 106th South like I did earlier in the week.

Even though I've been sleeping well, my wakeup heart rate is around 60-62. I don't know why it's high, but it does indicate my body is tired. I guess increasing my distance, even though it's less than 5% average increase per week, is having more impact on my body than I realized.

The tunnel under 106th South is still flooded, although the sump pump in that tunnel is working 24/7. We're scheduled to have some rain this evening, and that may help keep the tunnel flooded for a while. The water in the tunnel looks like it is 6 inches deep or so, and it will likely be several weeks before the water in the tunnel is gone.

March 2, 2011

A great 6-mile run

I felt good today, so when I reached 5.5 miles, I kept on going and did 6. The temperature was in the low 50s (F), almost all of the snow has melted, the path was dry, just a slight breeze, and the sky was mostly overcast with just a bit of sun here and there. A great day for running! I ran 128 left-foot-steps and walked 66 lfs for the whole 6 miles with no rest stops. I used my running shorts, a long-sleeved cotton T-shirt, and my nylon wind breaker (2 layers).

When I got into the Draper section of the path, next to the bridge at 123rd South, there was a lot of trash that had blown in. I found an empty lawn plastic bag that had blown against a bush, and I used that to hold the trash I picked up. I focused on the west side of the path, between the bridge and a playground about 1/4 mile north, and picked up most of the trash. When I finished, the lawn bag was pretty full, thanks to several large pieces of trash. On another day I'll get the trash on the east side of the path.

The Jordan River is still high; in fact, it looked slightly higher than it was last week. The water is almost up to the Parkway path when the path goes under the new bridge at 114th South. The path under the bridge at 123rd South is still flooded and may remain flooded for most of the summer. That's too bad, because that will make it harder to get really long distances on the Parkway.