Archive for August, 2009


Running often involves moving quickly with very little noise through green spaces. So we encounter, and occasionally interact with, the local wildlife. I’ve lost count of the number of raccoons I have met on my early-morning outings. Usually they remain cool, getting out of the way if necessary. Some weeks ago a dragonfly flew alongside me for a quarter of a mile. I have no idea why, perhaps it liked my bright shirt. Then there was a hummingbird that sat atop a fence, took off as I passed, then landed back on the fence 50 yards further along. It repeated this sequence at least five times before heading off in a different direction. I concluded that hummingbirds are not very smart.

This week I had an encounter that produced quite a bit more adrenaline. On the Bay Farm Island trail I usually run in the narrow dirt strip alongside the asphalt, but on this occasion the darkness kept me in the middle. I would probably have runs slap into a bush otherwise. I glimpsed something small and black moving fast on a converging course. Cat? Too low. Dog? Too quiet. Raccoon? Meh. At this point the creature helped me out by running into the middle of the trail and facing me with it’s tail up. The white stripes stood out well. I stopped hard and stood very still. This tableau lasted for a few seconds,and then the skunk moved off. Goodbye, Pepé Le Pew, and thanks for not spraying me.

As an aside, I used to wonder as a child why Pepé had a French accent, There are no skunks in Europe. Perhaps he was from Quebec.


Sunny Sunday

This morning I was a volunteer at a prediction race at the LMJS, the “Time is on your side race”. That gave me a good excuse not to run it, since I’m terrible at prediction racing. The winner of the 10K event, Dan, revised his estimate downwards by a minute at the urging of Loraine, his wife. He then proceeded to run within one second of that time. Well done Dan!

Incidentally, volunteering is fun for it’s own sake, not just a someone’s-gotta-do-it chore. It has all the fun of a race without the sweat and bother of actually running. Ok, that’s an exaggeration, but not by much.

Having thus occupied my morning, the sweat and bother was shifted to the afternoon. Hudson called for a 16-mile progression. That’s a fungible term, but today it meant “Last 20 minutes hard”. I somehow mis-read that as 30 minutes. Psychologists might raise an eyebrow on learning that I usually make these errors in an upwards direction.  The route I took was also a mile over length. Oh well.

It was sunny, windy, and fun. The kite sailors were zipping across the bay at speed, and there were plenty of people out enjoying the day. Most of my run consisted of two laps around Bay Farm island. I pushed it for the last four miles, ending up a little faster than marathon pace. All hay in the barn, as they say.


I was getting a little cocky there for a while. The workouts were going a bit faster than called for, and I pushed the recoveries too. The sharp reminder came on Friday when Hudson set a time trial. Two miles easy, four at maximum effort, then two easy. The first half mile at maximum was sort-of OK, then I hit a stiff headwind for the next mile and a half that simply knocked the tar out of me. The remaining two miles, even downwind, were about 30 seconds slower than 10K pace. I should have done a lot better than that.

Today things went better. 15 miles, with the last 30 minutes “moderate”. I felt pretty nasty starting out. It’s possible I’ve been fighting a minor ‘flu or something. Things got better during the run, and the moderate miles came out OK, about the same speed as those “max” miles on Friday.

I usually exchange a smile or “Good morning” with people I encounter on a run. This produced a funny result the other day. I was running down the middle of a leafy side-street in Alameda at 6 a.m., and a car was parking up ahead. A 50-ish woman got out in her dressing gown, saw me smiling , and blurted out: “Oh, I was just moving the car. I didn’t just get home. How embarrassing!” We both laughed. There seems to be a camaraderie amongst early risers.

I’ve hit on a solution to a pesky little problem. My running-impaired brain has troble keeping count of repetitions . Is that nine or ten? I make little rips in the edge of a post-it note and tuck it in my waistband, Then I can just count the rips. When half done, I start on the opposite edge. The sticky side, which faces my shorts, prevents it moving around, although it does get a bit damp.

And Now For Hudson

So far I’ve done four marathons, and the training programs have been: Runners World SmartCoach, Jack Daniels Marathon Plan ‘A’ (twice), and Pfitzinger 12/70 (12 weeks/70 miles per week). For the next one, it’s Hudson level III. What a faithless fellow I am! But variety is good, and it is necessary to ramp up the training to keep pace with improved speed and endurance. Hudson calls his philosophy “Adaptive Training” because he expects the runner to adapt the plan on the fly according to feedback. In practice this is mostly pace adjustments, but might also involve changing workouts around completely. It helps to have a bit of experience, of course. I recall being nervous during my first marathon cycle. Any substantial departure from the magical plan would lead to certain doom on race day.

In the last cycle there were only 13 weeks between races, so I had just one week of recovery before commencing the 12/70, which started with a bang. That first week called for 55 miles, and was kinda tough. I felt that I was struggling to keep up during some of that cycle. 12 weeks is too short.

This time, with a luxurious 20 weeks between marathons, I had planned to do two weeks of resting and recovery runs before starting Hudson at week 3. After just one week I was getting fretful. On the Saturday I ran some miles at a fast-easy pace with the group, and that was fine. The early weeks of the plan looked fairly easy, so I started in om Monday. So far so good, and things got more comfortable (and faster) as the week progressed. I’m back on the horse! Next marathon: CIM on 7th December. Next half: San Jose R&R on 4th October. Both of these are on fast courses, so I’ll get dome good feedback on the training.

Race PRs

5K20:43 (LMJS 6/28/09
12K54:36 (Across Bay 3/21/10)
15K1:09:51 (LMJS 19/27/09)
Half1:31:28 (Kaiser 2012
Marathon 3;13:14 (CIM '11)


August 2009
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