Random Rantings and Ravings from a Slow-Poke Runner in the Heart of the South. (A Weeekly (sort of) Blog about running and just about anything else)

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Back on Schedule

It seems something has gotten in the way of my running schedule over the last few weeks: vacation, work schedule, laziness. But I got back on schedule for the most part this week, completing 22 miles for the week including a long run this morning of eight miles. To top it off, I went mountain bike riding today as well for about 30 minutes to give my legs that good ol' dead-as-dirt feeling!

The long run went pretty well this morning but I thought I ran faster than a 10 min/mile pace. Part of the run was around a park that I can't car measure so I have to question the google pedometer accuracy a little on this one. Actually, the more detailed satellite images for my town just became available so I played with it a lot this weekend to map out various routes.

Next week I am shooting for 25 miles and it will be the first time I have gotten up that high in a while. I will be running the easy pace on the two easy days to try to avoid injury but I am ready to push the pace a bit on Tuesday to see if I can lower my long run pace a bit by race day in September.

You can check out my running log for the week online or here is the basic summary:

Total Miles: 22
Easy Days -- 2 X 3 miles
Speed Day -- 1 (2x1 1/2 mile intervals at 8:52 min/mi and 9:05 min/mi paces -- total 5 miles)
Moderate hot day -- 3 miles at 9:07 min/mi
Long run -- 8 miles at 9:59 pace

Thursday, June 22, 2006

One picture at least

Here is one picture I was able to get up from my work computer. It must be my sorry laptop at home that won't cooperate. This is a picture of me just as we reached the bunion. That's the bunion the man in the background is sitting on. You can see from the picture that it is pretty hazy in the background. I read recently that the Smokies have as much pollution as Los Angeles! But it was BEAUTIFUL in person. I have more pictures that are better. I will try to post them later this week.

I have been sticking to my running except I had to be at work really early this morning and missed my run. Hopefully I can make up for it by scheduling my long run Sunday and running tomorrow and Saturday. I will let you know more later! Peace -- out!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Hiking in the Smokies

Disclaimer: For some reason I couldn't get Blogger to load my pictures. I will post the blog now and hopefully update it with pictures later.

I am now back home in Tupelo and back to the daily grind at work. But before I left I had the chance to reach one of the highest heights east of the Mississippi River!

It was about an 8 1/2 mile hike round trip and reached one of the coolest sights I have seen in a while. The hike included a mild 1,1oo foot elevation gain over 2 1/2 miles to a height of over 6,000 feet above sea level before dropping down to below 5,500 feet. The trail itself was a little too rocky for my Nike trail running shoes and my feet were killing me afterwards.

The hike started at the parking lot at Newfound Gap and I was actually able to see where I scratched "Shane loves Tricia" in the metal door facing of the bathroom on the day we became engaged 14 years ago. Kinda silly that I chose there but I didn't want to deface real wood.

The hike to Charles Bunion is completely along the Appalachian trail. The hike starts climbing from the start and I was huffing a little since I was not accustomed to the incline. Nevertheless, we kept a very steady pace and passed several hikers along the way. We were especially proud when we passed a couple of thru-hikers who appeared to be keeping their own steady pace.

While there was a few overlooks on the way up, I was most impressed with all of the changes in the trail as we got higher up. We saw frequent signs of wild boars and what looked like pretty recent bear dung. We got to the top roughly two hours after starting and were treated to some pretty awesome views!

The trail diverges over to the Bunion and basically makes a slight horseshoe around a cliff with a drop of several hundred, perhaps thousands of feet. Right in the middle of the horseshoe is the "bunion" named after a hiker in 1929 named Charles Conner who apparently was the butt of someone's joke about his nasty foot problems. It is a huge rock that protrudes from the side of the cliff from which several climbers have fallen to their death. If you sit on top of the rock you have an incredible view of the mountains and valley below.

During this time of the year in the Smokies, it is hazy and you really don't have clear views of the landscape. Even if it were clear, pictures could not have captured the views we enjoyed but I included a few to give you a feel. We sat and had lunch while gazing at the scenery. It was a great, peaceful moment.

Soon after leaving the bunion we met a couple of older teens or young twenty-somethings that seemed out of place. They were both wearing jeans and had no backpacks, no water, nothing. They both looked exhausted which prompted us to ask how they were doing. They said they had hiked more than 15 miles and had gotten lost the night before and had to spend the night out on the trail. They said that they had been camping at a campground the day before and basically got lost when they went out for a day hike. While they now had their bearings, they had eaten nothing since the day before. We gave them our big bag of granola and what Gatorade we had left. They looked pretty excited despite their weak attempts to tell us it was okay.

Usually when you hike up a mountain, it is all downhill on the way down. But this hike actually includes an elevation gain of more than 500 feat in the first mile you leave the Bunion. It caught me a bit off guard but I survived and we actually did some trail running in some of the safer downhill sections.

We met another through hiker on the way down who was hiking the entire Smokies length of the AT (70 miles). He was already about halfway and in great spirits. He told us of seeing a big 300 pound male bear earlier that morning that he had a face off with. He also described the official Forest Ranger boar hunter he had met a few days earlier. He said he was toting a double barrel 20 gauge shotgun. He said that later that night, he heard five quick blasts from his gun with a high pitch pig squeal following the fourth one. Figured he got his pig!

We also met an older scientist on the way down with a picture of a big beetle on his shirt. He was utterly shocked we had not heard about the Great Beetle Blitz currently taking place in the Smokies. He explained how we could take part and we pretended to be interested. These encounters slowed our pace but added character to our hike.

We ended our hike exactly 4 hours from the time we started. Other than both of our feet hurting, we felt pretty good! I definitely felt like I had completed a long run later that day and the next morning. I had to drive all the way home Sunday night and felt too tired to run this morning. All-in-all it was a great experience but I look forward to getting back in gear for training for the race this September!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Running in K-Town

I officially arrived in Knoxville, Tennessee on Wednesday afternoon and recovered enough from the drive to plan out a run for Thursday morning. I had missed my Tuesday run this week due to so much business at work so I wanted to make sure I got my run in this morning.

I mapped out a 5-mile route along the Neyland Greenway (2.5 miles there, 2.5 back) using Google Pedometer. Apparently, they (the Satellite picture-taking people) are a lot more intersted in Knoxville than Tupelo because the Satelite images are very detailed, whereas you can't hardly make out the big mall on the Tupelo map.

Being a big University of Tennessee fan, I love running the Neyland Greenway. I started at Calhoun's restuarant and ran down the riverwalk where the Vol navy usually parks on big games. You then cross under Neyland drive and run right beside the stadium, which brings chills to a orange-blood fan like me who sees it mostly on television.

The route is not incredibly scenic but it is a nice change from the boring neighborhood I usually run in. It rejoins the side of the Tennessee river about a 1/4 mile down and you have a chance to run down a more scenic route at about 2 miles. I felt really good during the run. I didn't pay attention to pace and ran just what felt good. It came out to about a 9:28 pace for the 5 miles.

That was at 7:00 this morning. I then came home and got ready and the family went to Dollywood! Woo hoo! They had fun and we probably walked another 5 miles, pushing a fully loaded double stroller along the hilly way. Tomorrow will include even more fun at Splash Country!8-0 I hope to run an easy 3-miler before we go but I am bone tired right now.

The hike Saturday turns out to be a little over 10 miles all together. We are hiking along the AT (Appalachian Trail) out to a rocky place called Charles Bunion, apparently named after somebody's nasty feet (named Charles). I am looking forward to the break from civilization, even if it is a short one. These ten miles will probably count as my long run, which doesn't make me feel too bad considering there is some elevations gains involved. I plan to take plenty of pictures and will post them next week!

Friday, June 09, 2006

So nah!!!

I like checking out the site meter stats and seeing how some people find my blog through various google searches. It's neat when someone from New York finds my site through searching for "runner deep calf pain" on google.

My brother recently sent me an e-mail teasing me for misspelling a Blue tick heeler as a "healer". While he was nice enough to e-mail his comment rather than 'dog' me right on the blog, I noticed that I had someone visit my blog through another google search for, yes, a "blue tick healer". So I had a visitor just for my poor spelling! Just think of all the visitors I probably get for the poor grammar as well!!!

The Blue Tick Healer canine - often confused for the Blue Tick Heeler since they look so similar.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

10 miles and all's well!

I didn't have the time to run 4 miles today so I cut it short by a mile - completing 10 miles this week thus far. Today was a "race tempo" run, but only at about a 9:00 min/mi pace. You can check out my split times on my running log. I plan to speed up a little as the weeks progress but only on Tuesdays.

I have to say I felt GREAT after the run and finally feel I am coming out of all of the soreness I have felt for so long. I plan to run an easy easy 3 miles tomorrow -- probably at a 9:45 pace. I will then finish off the week on Saturday with a 7 mile long run, giving me a solid 20 miles for the week.

I have to give kudos to Phil for suggesting I slow down more. It seems I could really see the alternating hard and TRUE easy days paying off even this early. I just hope it continues, especially after I began packing on the miles!!!

Monday, June 05, 2006

The 14.2 Miler Race Plan

Up until a few weekends ago I have never run a race longer than 4 miles! In a few months, I will be looking to more than double the length of the 10k I completed recently by tackling the Tupelo 14.2 miler on September 3rd. I have devised a race plan that I will be starting this week and I would love some feedback. I have scanned it below.

The plan includes alternating easy and hard days and very little speedwork. The easy days will be true easy days with a relaxed pace of 9:30 or more. I do want to do some interval work down the line to get my race pace down. While I would love to run the race in under 2:15, I will be just happy finishing! Of course, this is all in preparation for the full marathon I hope to complete on December 3rd. So here is the plan - enjoy! :-)

I'm not a snake guy

Here is a picture of the snake I killed Saturday. I don't know my snakes all that well but I think it is (was) a rat snake. Since I felt kinda bad after chopping it in three pieces, I would love for one of you to comment back and say something to the effect of, "Oh no, that was a deadly southern viper! Thanks GOD you killed it because it could have killed hundreds, maybe thousands of people!!!!"

By the way, I think you can click on the picture above to enlarge it and get a better look. You know, to identify its viper markings and all.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Running rants and musings

Well, the week of running did not go exactly as I planned in some ways but I did meet a couple of goals for the week.

I missed my run Friday when I overslept. It was raining that morning anyway but I could have gotten on the dreadmill at the gym. However, the rain tranced me back to sleep and to a semi-conscious state in which I turned the alarm off and snoozed all the way to 6:30! I can't say I regretted it because I got some goooood zzzzzzzz's!

I had planned to run that night as soon as I got home. I even called the wife and got the ‘go ahead’. But when I got home the two little faces that pleaded to go ahead and eat and on to the mall were just a little too persuasive. Not that I blame missing the run on the two cute little faces. I am not saying that at all. But I had planned to make up for it today.

I had committed to handing out flyers for our church's VBS kickoff this morning so I scheduled my run for this evening. Interestingly enough, my group was assigned my neighborhood so it was neat to walk the streets with a different goal in mind. We probably walked around 2 1/2 miles with flyers in hand. It was HOT and I was glad I was not trying to run in the heat.

I had to do the husbandly duty of mowing the lawn later in the afternoon. My wife has been sweet and surprising me every week by mowing so far this summer. However, she sprained her foot running last weekend so there was no surprise this week!

It’s not that I hate mowing the yard but I just hate taking the time to mow the yard. Our next door neighbor is paralyzed from the waist down but stays active more than most people his age. He actually mowed our yard one day to be nice. (He said he was enjoying the day so much he just kept on going.) My dad took the occasion to take a ribbing at me saying, “It’s sad that you have to get a paralyzed man to mow your own yard.” It crossed my mind that I better get out there today before my wife did, otherwise, I could hear another major shot coming.

There was some excitement when I saw and killed what I think was a rat snake. It was about 18 inches long and looked menacing enough. I hated to kill it because I know it does good things for my yard but I don’t know my snakes that well and you can’t be too careful with young children.

SO it wasn’t until about 7 that I got to run. I had in mind that I was going to stick to plan and run a slower pace. I started off slow and I have to say, “relaxed” too! I had run about 3 miles and was feeling great when I ran into some friends from church that just had a bad experience with a dog.

Our neighborhood has a lot of runners but there is one drawback – there are a few idiots who think nothing of allowing their dogs to roam loose. Now don’t get me wrong, I love dogs. But dogs are not people and should be supervised properly. There is one particular dog in the neighborhood, a blue-tick healer (I think that is what it is called), who stays in a pin normally but barks with a vengeance. She and her husband encountered the dog outside of its fence and it tried to bite her. The owner just made excuses for the dog saying he had just let its out of its pin for a minute.

I have talked once before on this blog about my slight fear of dogs and lost a little motivation about making the loop again by this dog’s house. After talking to them for 15 minutes I was also cooled down so it didn’t take much to talk myself into just taking the ½ mile back to the house to finish.

I do plan to run a little tomorrow but will be well below 20 miles for the week. On a positive note, I did keep to a 9:30 pace for the run and have not had any sweets since the “commitment”. I will probably run just enough tomorrow to get over the 100-mile mark for my new shoes. I will also type up a plan tomorrow for the next few weeks leading up to the race on September 3rd. I hope everyone else had a great week of running and avoided any snakes or mean dogs!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

A New Commitment

I want to thank Phil from Arizona for his well thought out advice on my
current condition of running and I agree with all that he said in his
comment to my previous blog entry. I have been inconsistent lately and I
began wondering if it is one of two things:

1. My new shoes may not be working well for my feet.

I have had my new Brooks for less than 100 miles. I purchased them from a
store that specializes in running and they watched me jog up and down the
sidewalk to recommend a certain pair. The shoes felt 'made for my feet' but I
noticed the calf trouble soon after I had them. The calf pain has been
insignificant after my long layoff but I do feel a faint twinge still. I
have seen the shoes reviewed in magazines and they receive great remarks
but the continuing calf pain makes me wonder. However, I think I am going with Phil and focusing on number 2 for now:

2. I am actually training too hard.

When I was running yesterday at the ½ mile track, a runner who looked in
much better shape passed me. He looked very relaxed and, since he passed me
slowly, I thought he was probably running (for him) an easy pace. It got me
thinking about how very few of my runs actually seem relaxed and, as Phil
said, are all pretty close to my maximum pace for the distance. I was
thinking I may need to focus on slowing down more a few times a week and
let easy runs truly be easy. Then I read Phil's comments later in the day. Of course, I am fearful of slowing down in that it will take me much longer to better my race paces. It is also hard for me to accept because I feel like I should be making faster progress than this already. But I know this should be more fun and it is getting more and more mundane.

So I will refocus on having at least a few easy days in the weeks to come that includes a pace of 9:30 minutes/mile or slower. I will begin on Saturday with my long run but continue in the weeks to come with my shorter easy runs as well. I may even cut out speedwork all together until I feel I am running 20 miles a week fairly comfortably and without injury.

Now while I am confessing, I think there is another factor at work that has affected my slight weight gain. Just a few of months ago I accepting a tremendous promotion at work and took on a buttload (funny that word wasn't in the blogger dictionary) of increased responsibility. To be honest, I have strayed back into some of the stress eating that plagued me in the past. I notice I am not only eating more, but not being as choosy in what I put in my mouth. Snacking in the evening, sweets in particular, has been the main culprit. Therefore, it is time to take drastic action I hold in reserve just for times like this -- and here it is:

I will swear off ALL SWEETS -- eating nothing, noth--ing (think Hogan's heroes) sweet until June 14th, the day I will officially go on a vacation to east Tennessee. This means no cookies, candy, cereal, etc, even sugar in my coffee -- gulp! (This does NOT mean the nutrition bars I eat in the mornings forbreakfastt.) I will also avoid replacing the sweets with any other junk food like chips or crackers. IF I break mycommitmentt (and this is not a big "if" I must admit) I COMMIT to posting my very worse fat picture from the past on this very blog. That's right - an embarrassing me right there for your enjoyment if I break the commitment. I have asked my wife to hold me personally accountable to my pact with all my blog readers so I will let you know how it goes.

By the way, I love feedback and appreciate all the advice Terry and Phil leave. If you are a regular reader of "Running in the Deep South", please feel free to offer your two cents anytime! Hopefully, you WON'T be seeing a big ol' picture of me anytime soon! :-)