Saturday, August 30, 2008

5K race report

We ran a 5K this morning in one of the neighboring towns. Didn't really know what to expect. The flier had 20 sponsors listed so we thought it was going to be a pretty big race.

Driving up to the start area, we quickly realized that it was actually a pretty small race. I didn't wear my race singlet as I thought that would be a bit over the top for such a small race. There seemed to be some fast-looking women but no fast guys.

For once we had some decent time to warm up. I had run for 20 minutes before we left home and had time for a good jog and some accelerations before the start. Suddenly, before the start, a couple of fast runners appeared. Matt Howard was there; he is an ultramarathon stud who can also go fast in the shorter races. A triathlete I think I have seen around the area was there as well.

I was hoping to go clear from the beginning but Matt and the triathlete stuck with me. The first mile we swapped the lead a few times. I felt good; I put in a few accelerations to go clear but, every time, the triathlete and Matt would claw their way back onto my wheel.

This reminded me of my early days of racing where I was such a head case. I never liked to race in the front back then. It was either break clear or suck wheel. Today I tried three of four times to break clear unsuccesfully. We came through mile 1 in 5:20.

A little after mile 1, I surged again and Matt dropped off. The triathlete couldn't quite get back on but was only 5 yards back. I decided to keep pushing and evenetually built a lead of 20 seconds at the finish. He was tough, though, and never really gave up. I looked up his name and it seems like he is a very fast triathlete, winning all the events I could find online.

It puts things in perspective that I can only just barely beat the best triathletes in running. He would crush me in the swim and the bike legs, of course.

The Girl opened up with a 6:09 mile. When I saw here after the turnaround, she was in first place. The second-place woman was 10 yards or so back and, honestly, looked like she was gaining on her. However, at the finish, the Girl won by almost a minute. Official time was 19:46! That's a 32-second PR. That's basically off just minimal speed work and learning to take it easy every other day. She is pretty damn fit just 6 months after gaving birth to the Lorax.

Friday, August 29, 2008


I knew nothing about Sarah Palin until this morning. Reading through a couple of articles, I really only cared about one thing.

And there it was, in the first paragraph. She is a Christian conservative...

So there you have it. More Rove-type angry politics. More talk about talking snakes, rapture, the biblical role of the Middle East. Less talk about stuff that actually matters.

More than 50% of people who voted for Bush believed there should be less science and more biblical teaching in schools. These are the poor, undereduacated, rural Americans who really should vote for Obama; but now they won't. Most, if not all, other democracies, have a representative democracy where a far-right party usually eats up that slice of the population. It is so unfair that the Republicans, a party whose real-life, tangible politics hurt the poor, rural population, so easily can rely on their support.

Of course, the religiosity of Palin could scare off some people. The old-school fiscal conservatives, the every-man-for-himself conservatives, a group I respect and often consider myself a member of, are usually diametrical opposites of Kansas evangelicals who believe in talking snakes and think the dinosaurs are made up to make them look bad.

In running, we have a 5K tomorrow. I ran hard yesterday and biked hard today, mostly thinking about the triathlon next weekend. I didn't tell the Girl this. She has a huge PR coming up, like under 20 minutes. I did have to pretend I was tapering just so she would take it a little easy yesterday. That meant 10 miles at 7-minute miles with three half miles at 6-minute miles (an 18:45 5K pace!)

A report will follow.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Girl and the Man

The other day, the Girl got into some trouble with the Man.

Let me just backtrack a little. We had a whole day off together and that day happened to be a recovery day for both of us. That happens quite rarely. We decided to go to the pool; this was after day care hours so we had to bring the Lorax into the pool area. We have done that once before; one of uf swims a couple of laps, while the other one wathces the Lorax. Then we switch off and keep switching off until we have each swum about a mile.

Now, the other day, the Lorax was in a good, docile mood. He just sat there, marveling at the ceiling and babbling to himself. It felt like overkill to have to sit and watch him. The Girl then had to go to the bathroom while I was swimming. She told me that she was going but was just going to leave the Lorax behind. We discussed it a little bit and off she went.

When she came back, the lifeguard was over by the Lorax, waiting for her. I hadn't noticed until then. She was arguing loudly with the lifeguard about leaving the Lorax behind. I did one more lap and then joined the conversation, which was getting heated. The lifeguard basically felt it was unsafe to have a kid in the pool area, period. He had opened up by saying that all the noise and the hot air was bad for babies. Probably not a smart move for an 18-year old boy in front of a young mom, who happens to be a doctor who reads every medical study on childrens' health she can find. So things got a little ugly.

But the case was such that, without argument, the Girl had left the Lorax behind, which is not allowed at the YMCA.

I finally had to enter the discussion, apologizing for our mistake, promising it would never happen again. It was a nice good cop/bad cop move that worked well. The lifeguard backed off and let us keep swimming.

Thankfully, I had told the Girl to bring the Lorax along with her, and actually offered to watch him while she was gone, so I left the encounter looking like a rock star. Also, I have to admit it's exciting to see her get into tussles like these.


Running is great. We ran long together on Saturday. I ran 27 miles, the last 15 of which were run around 6:45 pace. The last 5 were closer to 6:15 pace. I was tired at the end; very tired. But it felt like there was a little left in the tank.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Too light?

This diet has really worked. I'm not sure what I am doing that's so effective; I work a lot, run a lot and think about not eating too much. I'm down to 64.2 kg this morning, which is even lower than when I had braces put on.

I look a little emaciated, I guess, but not too bad.

But... The Girl and I went for a long run yesterday and I just didn't feel good. Had to quit after 18 miles. Sure, it was hot and humid but I just felt weaker than I should have. In the absence of any formal testing, I think I can conclude that I am a little too light, at least for the long runs, right now.

Tomorrow I'm taking the Boards... I'm a little nervous about that one.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Another 5K

Worked all weekend in the ER. Friday night wasn't too busy but I got almost no sleep as there was a constant trickle of something to be dealt with. I had set the alarm for 7:30 and, against better judgment, got up to get ready for the race.

This was a classic small-town race. The local high school kids were there as were a few fit middle-aged adults, like myself. I did not have a chance to really warm up and didn't feel good at all. On the other hand, I wanted to test out the legs since I have been feeling so good lately.

The answer was indeterminate. Not a great race but not a disaster, either.

A young guy took off like lightning. I should know better, but I went after him to get some shelter from the headwind. The first half mile has huge hill; he charged up so fast I had to give him a few feet. But, of course, as these high schoolers always do, he completely blew up and didn't even try to hold on when I passed him. The rest of the race was uneventful. THe legs felt heavy and the course was hilly.

My time was 16:44. I gotta feel good about runnning that fast on a hilly course without a warmup. But, then again, the legs weren't as zippy as I had expected.

Next race is in two weeks. Another 5K. Goal is less than 16:20.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Lorax is mine!

We had to go to court yesterday to get my name on his birth certificate. It took less than a minute and suddenly I was legally his dad.

Running keeps being good. Ran 13 miles Wednesday with intervals at the end. The intervals were faster than ever. Tomorrow brings a 5K but it falls during my work hours. I could leave the ER and run it if there is nothing serious going on. We'll see how that goes.

My older son had his birthday this week. He is 5. It's crazy how time flies; I remember when he was a little, wet boy on the changing table. I am not as close to him as I am to my daughter. With her, it seems like we think the same way. She begs and complains like all kids, but I can tell her when enough is enough. She knows when I am joking and when I am serious.

With my son, it's different. I just can't seem to get through to him. I have always felt there was an element of "second child"-type behavior but it's more than that.

Whenever the kids sleep over here, he cries for an hour, saying he misses his mom. I don't know what to do when he acts that way. Also, he does these weird little spiteful things. The other day when I was brushing his teeth, I told him to spit. Instead of spitting like he normally would, he just opened up his mouth and let all the spit and toothpaste run down his chin and shirt.

And he looks at me in a strange way, like he is telling me he knows he is the forgotten middle kid. Like he knows how his life got derailed when his mom and I got a divorce. I don't know what to do about it. Once in a while, when I spend time exclusively with him, he glows, but other times he seems disinterested in hanging out with me. In day care, he is a popular, cute kid. I don't think he has any real behavioral problems.

I found out this week that my ex-wife will let our daughter live with the Girl and me when we move to Europe. Not right away, but once we get settled in. That was obviously very good news. She is still partly bilingual so I assume her Danish will pick back up right away. My ex-wife's decision has lifted a ton of stress off my shoulders. I am so excited about seeing a "new" country through my daughter's eyes; I know she will thrive over there.

Our son, then, I will only be able to see on vacations, a few weeks here and there, maybe more over the summer months. Logistically, he will be on the opposite continent of his sister a lot of the time. For now, my ex-wife won't allow me to have both kids out of the country at the same time. It's heart-breaking to think about.

I remember that time, maybe two and a half years ago, when we first started talking about the divorce. It felt like jumping off a cliff into darkness. It felt so exhilirating to think of being free of the constant arguments. We were two best friends living together, trying to suppress our urges to live the lives we really wanted. As it happened, she was the one who called it quits and I was the one who fought for months to get back together, mostly so I could be with the kids. I hated coming back to the house with their rooms empty and dark. At the time, we both knew the kids would be the ones to hurt from the divorce but the specifics were hard to imagine.

So many emotions and such big decisions are involved in this. One fine day, twenty years from now, we will all be able to look back and think about what we should have done. For now, we can just try to do our best for the their sake and ours.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Inner dialogue

Went for a run yesterday and felt great. Ran 15 miles at 6-7 minute pace. Did some intervals on my typical loop at the end and ran those faster than I have ever.

This morning, I weighed in at 64.7, which is the lowest in many years, except right after I got braces and couldn't chew.

I don't know why I am in this kind of shape but I'm not complaining. Problem is, I have no real goal race or even a goal distance. While running, or while not running, I often go through an inner dialogue much like this:

"Wow, I am so fast. I could PR at anything longer than 5 miles right now. I feel great, I am light. I am so ready to bust one out".

"Hold up now, bust one out where? You got two 5Ks lined up where you will definitely be running by yourself. Are you going to run 15:50 all by yourself? I don't think so."

"Okay, but I could probably PR in the 5 miles or 10K"

"Sure, but you don't have any of those coming up, now do you? In fact, your next big races are a triathlon and a 50 miler. You can't swim, except for the dead-man's float, and you have never run 50 miles."

"True about the 50 miles but I think I'm gonna go hard in that one. I ran 25 miles and still felt good. I'm going to try to win it."

"Just shut up. If you go out hard with the leaders, you are going to crash and burn so bad you might not even finish. Do you remember Chippewa? That was 50K and you still sucked at it. No one cares about speed in those races."

"I don't know. If I tell myself to walk all the hills but cruise the flat sections at 6:30 or 7 minute miles, I should still be in contention. I will eat a ton at the aif stations. I'll be the fastest guy there, for sure, and that has to count for something. And Chippewa was different because of the snow"

"You'd better start out easy or you are going to blow up. You don't even know what an "S-Cap" looks like. You're a rube, man. Don't warm up, start out slow. Just get through it."

"I think I'm going to go hard. It's more honest that way."

"You're gonna die."

Bascially, I keep lamenting the fact that I don't have a big, competitive race coming up. Add to that my uncertainty about the 50-miler. I just don't know what to do with these wheels.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

August Running Log

This is purely from memory

August 3 27 miles (2 in the AM and 25 with the Girl, who ran 20)
August 6 5 miles
August 9 8 miles
August 10 10 miles (some speed around the ER)
August 11 15 miles
August 13 13 miles
August 16 4 miles (5K in 16:44)
August 19 10 miles
August 21 6 miles
August 23 10 miles (5K in 16:40)
August 24 Biked long with the Girl

I don't remember much more

Total: 150?

Had another small breakthrough in my running in the last couple of days. Ran long with the Girl Sunday; the usual type of running where we hand off the Lorax in the baby jogger. I ended up running 25 miles; I was tired, sure, but didn't get the stiff, dead legs I have had in the past. My "alone time" was spent on really steep trails, some of which I had to hike. I basically walked whenever it got super-steep, which probably made me stay fresh for longer. The last mile, I ran in 5:35, which bodes well for a future marathon.

Then yesterday, I decided to run my usual 5K tempo on the treadmill. Immediately, I felt great and ended up running a 16:42. I hesitate to compare to a "road time"; usually a 1% incline is felt to compensate for the lack of wind resistance, but at this pace it may be easier to run on the treadmill.

But one can't argue with improvement, of course. I am really looking forward to my next race, which will be a 5K in a few weeks. I am starting to toy with the thought of dipping below 16, especially if I can do some track speed over the next few weeks.

I weighed in at 65.2 this morning after 5 days of not really dieting but not pigging out either. Being light seems to mean a lot for my running pace.

Work is super busy. I have, honestly, bitten over more than I can chew. I essentially have 3 part-time jobs, which is one too many. There is such a shortage of docs in this area that I am being pressured to work more from all sides. Tomorrow, I go into work in the morning. When I get off at night, I will drive to another job where I work all weekend. Then I am back at the first job, Monday morning.

Saturday, August 2, 2008


Wow, this diet really works! I have lost all the weight I wanted to in 4 days.

On the three days I have counted calories, I have eaten around 2100 a day. Of course, that's way too low (which is why I am losing weight). They have been pretty intense training days, too. Today, I feel a little weak and plan to eat a big dinner tonight and big breakfast before our planned long run tomorrow.

A few lessons I have learned in my few days of calorie counting: you can't eat candy, cookies, pastries etc. Ten Haribo gummi bears, which I can't live without, comprise 75 calories and they have very little filling effect. Other things, like cooking oil, butter, peanut butter (or just peanuts) surprised me by being so calorie dense. I mean, I know they are, essentially, 100% fat but it still blows me away how many calories are packed into so little space.

I use a scale for everything, like if I am pouring cereal I do this: first I zero the scale with the bowl on the scale. I pour in the cereal, noting the weight and calories; then I pour in the other kind of cereal (I have to mix cereals), note the data, pour the milk and then little chocolate sprinkles etc. It's fun, believe it or not.

Things that aren't as bad as I thought (and that I have eaten a lot more of lately) include:

Bread (damn Atkins people had me biased on that one) - especially European Rye
Eggs (Just 70 calories and it's filling)
Chocolate (relatively speaking)
Milk (actually isn't too bad)
Water (I drink so much I worry about hyponatremia but it makes me feel full)

Something strange is happening to our computer. It won't let us load blogspot pages anymore. I can post, obviously, but can't check (some) pages on blogspot. Maybe some virus? We're hoping it will go away.