Tuesday, February 11, 2003 – stress test
I had a “standard stress test” done, because I’m joining a “Fitness Challenge” at work, and I’ve never been able to run even half a mile without getting winded. Actually, that’s not entirely true. Whenever I tried to run, even at a slow pace, within a few minutes I would be breathing heavy, yet feeling like I can’t get enough air. Unless I was drunk. Then I could run with no breathing problems at all. I swear it’s true. At any rate, I went for the stress test expecting to do pretty poorly. The woman giving me the test agreed. In fact, she spent the entire time pretty much insulting me (I should note that she is a friend of mine, she wasn’t truly insulting me, and I wasn’t actually offended, but I’m going to play it up anyway). First, in explaining how the stress test worked, she said that it involves running up to 18 minutes, but that I “probably won’t make it that far.” That’s number 1. Looking at the chart and how each level of the test relates to how hard your heart is working, she was sure to point out that I would probably have to stop around the middle, somewhere beyond “light house work”, but way short of “hard manual labor”. Ouch. I guess she was hoping to make me feel better by letting me know I wouldn’t have to do the whole thing. Gee, thanks. Finally, the ultimate insult came when she was adjusting the strap for the heart monitor. She looked at me, looked at the strap, and made it a little smaller. When I tried to put it on, it only fit about half way around me. Twiggy would have found it snug! I said, “Thanks a lot! I know I’m just an old computer geek, but I’m not that wimpy!” Oh well. I got her back. When she took my blood pressure I forced myself to relax as much as possible, slow down my heart, and ease my blood pressure. She wanted to double-check her equipment when it showed my blood pressure as 98/60. She said, “Are you sure you're alive?” I had her recheck it without focusing on relaxing, and it was 100/68. My resting pulse was 76 bpm.

The test involved monitoring my heart rate as she increased the level of exercise. When my heart rate hit 80% of my maximal heart rate, then I was done, and would be rated on a scale indicating what level of exertion I could handle before my heart rate got dangerously high (above 80% of maximal). Maximal heart rate is 220 minus my age (39), then multiply by .8 for the target for this test, which comes out to be about 145. When I hit 145 I would be done. To her (and my) surprise, I had no problems whatsoever. I did the entire 18 minutes and my heart rate only got up to 141. My blood pressure afterwards was 120/70. The test starts with walking and slowly speeds up, so I really didn't run much at all, but I was encouraged nonetheless.

Thursday, February 27, 2003 – Fitness Challenge Kick-Off
We had the kick-off meeting for the “Fitness Challenge”. Teams earn points for attending education sessions, exercising, loosing weight, and meeting your “fitness goal”. My team looked at me and sarcastically said, “And what are you going to contribute?” I weighed in at 158.5 lbs. and 10% body fat, so I won't get far loosing weight. My goal is to gain weight without gaining body fat. Besides being healthier, it will be helpful in my personal life. Apparently being too skinny is too much fuel for some people's overactive imagination.

Saturday, March 1, 2003 – 20 minute run; 20 minute workout
I ran for 20 MINUTES STRAIGHT (straight both as in continuously, and as in NOT DRUNK) that's the first time in my LIFE I've ever done that (sober!). After a 5-minute warm-up, I ran on a treadmill set at a 10-minute mile. I did the first 10 minutes at 0% grade, then 5 minutes at 5% grade (that spiked my heart rate up to 200), then 5 more at 0%. Followed that up with some light equipment work.

Sunday, March 2, 2003 – 3 hours of snowboarding
Went to Bear Creek to snowboard. The conditions were AWFUL. It had rained all morning, so by the time I started around 5, there was virtually no powder, just all hard packed snow. Tough to control, impossible to go slow, painful to fall on. There are no runs at Bear Creek (except the practice slope) where it is all easy. There are always at least one or two steep spots you have to go down (well, steep for a beginner), with no powder to boot. The good news is, it gave me lots of practice in sliding slow and having control (or at least some semblance thereof). My friend Len commented, “You call snowboarding exercise? It’s all downhill!” I have to agree. There is very little work involved in sliding down a hill on a board. It’s trying not to get killed in the process that takes every muscle I own (and a few that I’m just renting).

Monday, March 3, 2003 – 22 minute run; 30 minute workout
Ran again today on the treadmill. I spent 5 minutes gradually speeding up to 6 mph as a warm-up, then did one 9-minute mile, then one 8-minute mile, then went for a 7-minute mile but only made it for a little over 5 minutes. I probably could have pushed through, but I was working out with some friends, and I didn't want to be completely and pathetically wiped out before I moved on to the equipment. I think I'll hold off on the 7-minute mile for a while. Like until 2004. Did the equipment for about ˝ an hour.

I think I'll change my goal. I like that I can run, and want to enter a race. I did a little research and found some in the area in April. I would still like to bulk up some, but my main focus will be running. That will help when playing basketball and especially soccer. I may even be able to run the field a couple times before I have to say, “OK (gasp), I'll be goalie (wheeze) now!” I might end up loosing weight in the process (that will give my “Fitness Challenge” team some points). I will definitely cut down on my body fat %.

Wednesday, March 5, 2003 – 15 minute run; 10 minute workout
After a 3-minute warm-up I started a 9-minute mile. Half way through I was dying. Terribly thirsty. I felt like I couldn’t get enough air. My feet were hitting the treadmill like an elephant in hiking boots. I paused when the mile was done to get a drink of water, then started up again. After 4 or 5 minutes had to slow it down to a 10-minute mile, then slowed it down to a brisk walk, then stopped. My face was bright red. I was hot and sweating, yet felt chilled, like I feel when I have been in the sun all day. So much for impressing anyone! Did about 10 minutes of equipment then left to go to my son’s basketball practice. Got a Gatorade on the way and felt better. I had been drinking water pretty well all day, but just before I had left work I was craving salt. I realized that I had worked up a good sweat on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, but haven’t been eating anything like chips or fries or the typical salt-laden stuff. After his practice I stopped at the store to buy more Gatorade, salted mixed nuts, Ritz crackers, and peanut butter. That, plus my salt lick, should do the trick.

Thursday, March 6, 2003
My friend Jim (my roommate from college) has been a runner all his life, so he's making a training plan to get me to my first race. April 13th, the day after I turn 40 (oy!) is the Emmaus 4 Miler. At 40 I enter the Masters division (a nice way to say the old guys) so I thought that would be a good way to start my racing “career”. The week before that is The Kutztown Fool's Race, a 5K they run the first weekend after April Fool's Day. I'm entering that so I can experience a real race before the 4 Miler. My goal for the 5K is to finish within the top 100. I know that is variable and hard to forecast, but in last year's Kutztown Fool's 5K, the 100th runner paced at 8:49 per minute, so 8:30 per minute is my goal. Jim thinks that is attainable, and I trust his opinion (I should have listened to it more often a long time ago). Jim also suggested I get a good pair of running sneakers. He's been using Saucony all his life, and they have never let him down, plus he can usually find a pair for under $40. That would be a good thing.

I registered online for the Kutztown Fool's Run. You can see the race details, register, and get a list of entrants online at
While browsing the list of entrants I saw an entry for Jeff, the father of one of the girls who was on my daughter's soccer team last fall (which I coached) and in my daughter's Brownie Troop last year (where I was an Assistant Leader). He's been running for years, so I'm sure he'll smoke me, but it's good to know someone else who will be there and may be willing to drag my carcass to my car after I crawl across the finish line.

Friday, March 7, 2003 – 2 ˝ hours of snowboarding
Went back to Bear Creek to snowboard. I have four words for anyone wanting to snowboard: BOOTS, BOOTS, BOOTS, and CONDITIONS! The boots I rented were way too loose in the toe. The front of my foot could move up and down almost an inch before they moved the boot, and you JUST CAN’T HAVE THAT WHEN SNOWBOARDING! Luckily I knew from last time that the other style of boots fit better, so I went back and got those. The conditions report stated “2 inches of fresh powder” from when it snowed the day before. Two inches? Yeah, right! They measured their snow the same way fishermen measure their catch and all men measure their egos! If you got your face up real, real close, you could see a thin veil of something that vaguely resembled powder on top of the hard packed snow and ice. And I had my face up close often enough to know! The bright strips of reflected light shining off the ice where the powder was swept away may look nice from the ski lift, but don’t bode well for a smooth – or painless – ride down the slopes!

To paraphrase an old joke:
George: “I went snowboarding last night.”
Friend:  “Aren’t you a little old to start snowboarding?”
George: “Hey, I have the body of a twenty year old!”
Friend:  “Well you better give it back, you’re getting it all bruised!”

Saturday, March 8, 2003
At the pizza party after my daughter's last basketball game I sat down with one of the coaches and his wife, Jackie. Jackie couldn't have any pizza because she was going for a run later. I told her I was taking up running and we started talking. As a relatively new runner herself (about 4 years) who ran a half marathon last summer, she had good advice about training, eating, and where to run outside once the snow melts. She also runs in Saucony sneakers. She has been looking for someone to run with both for training and for races, and is willing to run at my pace. That will be helpful to keep me going during the race, having someone right there to encourage me. Plus as a more experienced runner she will be better at maintaining a steady speed.

Sunday, March 9, 2003 – 2 ˝ hours of snowboarding
Woo hoo! I snowboarded for the first time! It’s not the 1st time I’ve had a snowboard strapped to my feet, but it is the first time I can honestly say I snowboarded! I went to Blue Mountain where the conditions, though not great, were considerably better. I got the “feel” and was able to be pretty much in control. Not that I didn't fall. You would think as I got better I would stop falling, but that would mean I'm just coasting at the level I've already hit. Far be it from me to leave well enough alone! I continued to push my abilities, and fell alot. I went alone so I could maximize my time there, and for the most part stuck to the one hill where I could just get right back on the high speed lift every time I hit the bottom. And hit bottom I did. There was still very little powder on top of hard packed ice and snow, so every time I hit the ground, I hit it hard. It hurt. It hurt lots. On one of the last runs I fell when getting off the lift, then fell while getting my other foot in the binding, then fell while getting to the top of the slope. I fell while trying to stand still, and even fell when I was getting up from falling! I was tired and in pain, and just wanted to survive my way down the hill and go home. Then I had a decent “swoosh” to the side (without falling) which felt pretty good. Then I remembered the poster next to the treadmill, which I read occasionally when there's nothing else to look at. It says “Attitude is a little thing which goes a long way.” I said to myself, “hey, it's just pain, I can handle that,” then proceeded to snowboard down the hill pretty much spinning the whole way (on purpose!). I went from left foot first, to forward, to right foot first, to backward, to left foot first, and around again. It was great! Then I stopped and went the other way. Did I fall? Of course! I fell plenty, but it was fun, and that's the point. It's all about attitude. “Your Attitude determines your Altitude.”

The Plan
In order to get me to my first race, I would need a training plan. That is good advice for anyone, even experienced runners, working towards a race. Jim felt that my goal of doing the 5K at a pace of 8:30 was within reach, and he worked up a training plan for me. The first 2 weeks are:

Week 1 - (skip a day between days 1, 2, and 3)
Day 1 - Run two miles straight at 9:30 pace
Day 2 - Run two miles --- taking a break between --- try to maintain a 9:00 pace
Day 3 - Run 2 1/2 miles --- relaxed pace with no set time
Day 4 - If you run, go an easy 1-2 miles

Week 2
Day 1 - Run 3 miles --- relaxed pace with no set time
Day 2 - Run 2 miles straight at a 9:00 minute pace
Day 3 - Run 3 miles --- try to maintain a 10-minute pace
Day 4 - If you run, go an easy 1-2 miles

Monday, March 10, 2003 – 30 minute run on treadmill
The Plan: Week 1 - Day 1 - Run two miles straight at 9:30 pace
One of his first words of advice was, “stick to the plan”. That would have been easier if I had remembered what the plan was. I had forgotten to print it out or double-check it before I left work, and by the time I got started I wasn't sure what the pace was supposed to be (reminds me of some college racquet ball games we played: George: “What’s the score?” Jim:“39 to 22.” George: “Where was I during those last six points?” Jim: “I have no idea.”). I was thinking it was 2 miles at a pace of 9:30 (which was correct) but I wasn’t sure. I did a five-minute warm-up, then went to 9:30 and got going. After about 8 minutes the receptionist was having trouble with her computer, and couldn't wait 10 more minutes, so I stopped after the first 9:30 and helped her out. About 5 minutes later I got started again on the 2nd 9:30 mile. As I reached the end of the 9:30 I thought, “maybe it was two 10 minute miles”. Plus I knew part of the goal was running two miles straight, so instead of stopping, I hopped off for 15 seconds to get my towel, then got back on and ran a 10 minute mile. I added 1 extra minute to cover the time lost during the ramp up time at the beginning and the towel break.

In summary, I did a 9:30 mile, took a 5 minute break, then ran about 20 minutes at an average pace of about 9:45. Not exactly the plan, but I think it worked. Not bad on top of 2 1/2 hours of snowboarding on Sunday night.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003
Tonight the choir/brass ensemble director at Jordan Lutheran Church asked if I would be playing (trombone) for the Palm Sunday service on April 13th! Aaargh! I was already not happy that I would be missing church and especially the 7th grade Sunday School class that I help teach, missing them on Palm Sunday would be even worse. I may not do the Emmaus 4 Miler after all.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003 – 18 minute run on treadmill; 30 minute workout
The Plan: Week 1 - Day 2 - Run two miles --- taking a break between --- try to maintain a 9:00 pace
This time I checked the plan before I left work. Two 9-minute miles with a short break between. I did 5 minutes of warming/speeding up, then did my 9 minute mile. (I should note that I am still running indoors on a treadmill and it is STINKING HOT in there! My frends were commenting on how hot it was, which I was glad to hear, so I knew it wasn’t just me.) I took a short break to walk around, stretch, and get some water, then hopped back on. Jim had said that I could speed up the 2nd mile a little if I wanted to, so I did. I set it at a pace of 8:30, and ran for 9 minutes to be sure I ran the full distance at the full speed (I did hop off, literally, for a few seconds when my towel attacked. It fell off the console and onto the treadmill, and came rushing at me. I could just see myself getting wrapped up in it and doing the George Jetson thing). The last few minutes were tough (especially since it was, I would like to repeat, STINKING HOT) but I made it. So far so good. I worked out on the equipment for about 30 minutes after that.

Saturday, March 15, 2003 - ran 40 minutes with 2 breaks for a total of 4 - 4.4 miles
The Plan: Week 1 - Day 3 - Run 2 1/2 miles --- relaxed pace with no set time
Jackie had told me about the “Ironton Rail Trail”. It's a walking/running/biking trail (in Ironton) which was once a railroad. Since I was already up on MacArthur Road past the malls to get something for my daughter's school project, I thought I would go a little farther and give it a try. According to the plan I was to run “2 1/2 miles, at no set pace.” That's good, because I have no clue what pace I'm running at. It felt slow. I ran about a minute before I was interrupted by a phone call for computer help. I know a serious runner would not have answered it, but that's not me. The caller commented, “you must not be running much, you're not breathing very hard.” Hey! I just got started! Thanks, what a sweetheart   :-P       I started running again. I'll be breathing hard soon enough.

There were no distance marks, so I decided to go by time. I figured if I ran out for 20 minutes, then back again, that should easily cover the 2 1/2 miles, no matter what my pace was. At one point I was running along a road, and planned to time myself along that stretch on the way back, then find it later with my car and check the mileage to get a guess at my pace. I ran for twenty minutes, but that was it. I had to take a break. Turned around and walked back for 2 minutes, then resumed the run. After 5 minutes I hit the part that ran along the road and timed it. I think I ran at the same pace as the rest of the run, but I really can't tell. 4:04 for that stretch. I kept going to the 10 minute mark, but could not continue. My head was thumping from the pounding of my heart. I could feel each beat in my entire being. I walked a little, but that didn't help. I still felt like my whole body was expanding and contracting with every rapid pulse. Then I relaxed. I stood still, closed my eyes, let my arms hang loose, and relaxed, the same way I did when I had my blood pressure taken before the stress test (see Tuesday, February 11, 2003). It worked. The pounding subsided. Within a minute I could barely feel my heart beat at all. Rest assured it was still beating, and beating just as quickly. My pulse did not change (at least not noticeably) but my blood pressure did. I opened my eyes, said, “Cool” out loud to no one in particular, then resumed running. If I can figure out how to do that while I'm running, I'll be in good shape! Ran 10 more minutes, including a large incline, which brought me close to my car. Walked the rest of the way to cool down. Not bad.

Now to measure the distance. I found the road and watched the odometer. I couldn't believe it. I watched it again on the way back out, knowing that a longer distance will decrease the inaccuracy. Total for the round trip, 9/10s of a mile. That means I did 4.5/10s of a mile in 4 minutes, which is about 8.9 minutes per mile. I was running at just under a 9-minute mile! I thought I was up around 11 or 12! Yeah baby! Yeah baby! Woo hoo! Shocked and pleasantly surprised, I headed home.

I realize that it is entirely possible that I ran that stretch faster and have miscalculated my overall pace, but am certain that I did not go over 10 minutes per mile. Assuming 10, I ran 2 miles, then 1 mile, then 1 mile, for a total of 4. If the pace was 9, then I did about 4.4 miles. While I again may not have exactly followed the plan, I think I did ok.

Sunday, March 16, 2003 - ran 25 minutes with 1 break for a total of 2.8 miles
The Plan: Week 1 - Day 4 - If you run, go an easy 1-2 miles
I had one more packet of the development's “Membership Directories” to deliver, so instead of driving it over, I ran it over. Again, no mile markers, so I had to wing it. I didn't check the time because I wasn't going for any pace, and had planned on driving the same route later to get the distance. I ran the packet to it's destination, where I stopped to talk to some people (yeah, yeah, I know). I set off for home without the packet, and since I still had no clue on distance, I timed myself. After about 10 minutes I was near home, but felt pretty good, so I took a sidetrip. Total time for the run home: 16:18. Hopped in my car and found out that the run out was just about a mile, and the run home was 1.8 miles. 1.8 miles in 16:18 puts me almost exactly at a 9-minute mile. Wow. Sorry Jim, I missed the plan again, but it feels good!

Monday, March 17, 2003 - 30 minutes workout
Did not run today. By the time I was ready it was getting dark, and I can't do "3 miles --- relaxed pace with no set time" on a treadmill. Plus you're supposed to rest the muscles so they can rebuild. I just focused on the equipment. Two of my workout partners bailed! Jen just wimped out, and Lindsey used the "having to work late" thing as a shoddy excuse. Come on! You could have made phone calls between sets! Slackers! Fortunately Bernie was there and ready to pump! I mostly worked on arms and upper body, and did just a little leg work, avoiding the muscles that are more heavily used while running.

Tuesday, March 18, 2003 - ran 3 miles straight in 28 minutes!
The Plan: Week 2 - Day 1 - Run 3 miles --- relaxed pace with no set time
I found a route that is exactly (well, close) one mile. It ends not too far from the beginning point, but instead of looping I doubled-back for the 2nd mile and back again for the 3rd. Since it starts with a steep hill down and then gradually inclines back up I chose not to run it in the same direction all 3 times. Did the first mile in 9:30. A little over halfway on the first mile I was not doing too well on my breathing and was worried I wouldn't make it, when my cell phone rang (yes, I carry it with me in case it's my kids). I answered it, but didn't stop running. I had a 5-minute conversation while running! I was breathing better during and after the call than I was before! That leads me to 3 possible conclusions about my breathing:

  1. It's all in my head.
  2. Talking forced me to control my breathing better and not over-breathe, while distracting me from feeling like I can't get enough air.
  3. It's all in my head

The call did come after I had finished the gradual incline and was running pretty much flat, so that helped too. Anyway, I turned around and headed back, and ran the 2nd mile in 9:30 again. I think I can safely say that 9:30 is my "relaxed pace". I honestly would have to focus to go slower. For the 3rd mile I decided to take advantage of my abnormally long legs, and extended my stride for most of it. Did the last mile in a solid 9:00. Cool! Sometime during the last mile I had my first real runner's hork (if you're a runner, you know what I mean).

The best part? I finally followed the plan! I was running late for my regular Tuesday night date, so I didn't have time for much of a cool down. I know I'll regret that later, but I didn't want to keep anyone waiting. :-)

Wednesday, March 19, 2003 - ran 2 miles straight in 17 minutes!
The Plan: Week 2 - Day 2 - Run 2 miles straight at a 9:00 minute pace
As I've said before, I have no clue how fast I'm running. Well, I'm getting a clue, but still not a solid one. I ran the same 1 mile route as Tuesday, then back again. Since I did that last mile Tuesday in 9:00 by extending my stride, I started off that way immediately today. It wasn't nearly as warm today, it was only in the mid 40's, and hit 41 by the time I was done. Worse, as I rounded a bend heading up the hill, I hit a head wind. Leaves were blowing, trees were bending, a young girl yelled "Toto!" as a small dog flew by. Well, that's what it felt like. I had the same trouble breathing and was tempted to call someone and say "Just let me talk." I pushed through until I got past the incline, and started to get into a breathing pattern that felt better.

I thought that the cold and head wind had slowed me down, so I was shocked when I checked my watch at the mile mark and it read 8:18! I was excited because the way back would be mostly downhill with a tail wind! The last leg of my 2nd mile was especially tough because the head wind was back, during the steep incline to boot, but I made it! I checked my watch and had done the 2nd mile in 8:46! Wait a minute. "What?!" I said to myself as I focused on my math. I ran slower downhill with a tail wind? Yup! Oh well, I guess that's just the way it works! Had another good hork. Man those suckers have weight!

Overall, 2 miles at a pace of 8:32. I guess as long as I stay ahead of the plan and not behind it, my coach will let me slide.

I left with even less cool down than Tuesday. My Tuesday night date had called me earlier enticing me to visit and try a homemade apple dessert, so I had to stop over. Dessert was wonderful but I couldn't stay long because I was working out with my friends again. Bernie was there and ready to roll as always, but once again Lindsey and Jen bailed! Humph! I'm starting to take it personally! Again I concentrated all on upper body and arm work, so that I'm not overworking my legs from running. We worked out for about 45 minutes, then left to get home for the 8:00 Iraq deadline. Did you hear that, Jen and Lindsey? 45 minutes! You two are way behind! Slackers...slackers...slackers...

Friday, March 21, 2003 - ran 3.2 miles in 27:45; 20' workout
The Plan: Week 2 - Day 3 - Run 3 miles --- try to maintain a 10-minute pace
Have I mentioned that I have no clue what pace I'm running at? I knew that I could do 3 miles at under 9:30 per mile. I knew that I could do 2 miles at 8:32 per mile. Since my "relaxed pace" is about 9:30 per mile, I decided to set out quicker than that, and adjust down if necessary. I had measured out a 3 mile path, but there were no markers along the way, so I would not know my pace until I was done. My route was on the roads around Muhlenberg Lake. I started on Parkway Blvd. at the point where W. Turner winds north-east up the hill behind J. Birney Crum Stadium. I headed west on Parkway Blvd. to Ott Street, south on Ott to Hamilton Blvd., east on Hamilton to N. St. Elmo Street., north on St. Elmo, then west on Parkway Blvd again. Stopping at my starting point would be 1.7 miles. Continuing the loop around again to the middle of St. Elmo street, at the parking lot behind 2015 Hamilton, is 3 miles. My time at that point was 26:16. Since a 5k is 3.1 miles, I decided to go a little farther to cover it. Since I also felt pretty good (or at least good enough) I kicked it up a little and ran on to Parkway Blvd., then followed that east until the sidewalk stopped. Final time, 27:45 for 3.2 miles.

Overall, I ran 3 miles at 8:45 per mile, and ran 3.1 miles (5k) in 27 minutes. In the 2002 Kutztown Fool's 5k, that would have put me in 97th place, just within the top 100! I'm psyched! I did some equipment work as well, mostly arm and upper body, but some leg work as well.

Saturday, March 22, 2003 - ran 2 miles in 16:46
The Plan: Week 2 - Day 4 - If you run, go an easy 1-2 miles
If I run? Ha! I wouldn't miss it for the world! Went to Trexler Park so I could time myself against actual mile markers. I swear I was running at an easy pace. Really. 2 miles in 16:46 equals a pace of 8:23. Perhaps my mind's "easy pace" was influenced by knowing I was only doing 2 miles, because I'm not sure that I could have run another one at that pace. The Kutztown Fool's Race is 2 weeks from today!

The Plan - Week 3
Before he left for vacation Jim had sent me week 3 of my training plan.
Week 3
Day 1 - 2 1/2 miles at 9 to 9:30/mile pace
Day 2 - 3 1/2 miles at a comfortable pace (just to get used to the distance)
Day 3 - 1 mile at 8 minute pace; 1 mile at 8:30 pace; 1/2 mile warmdown
Day 4 (if run) - easy two miles

Monday, March 24, 2003 - 2 1/2 miles in 19:34; 45' workout
The Plan: Week 3 - Day 1 - 2 1/2 miles at 9 to 9:30/mile pace
So much for the plan! Trexler Park is a 1 1/4 mile loop, twice around is 2 1/2 miles, so I went there to run. I started on a downhill section, hoping to get my breathing right before the uphill. Based on how well I've been doing, I thought I could beat a 9-minute mile. I set out at a pretty good clip, taking advantage of my long stride. I checked my watch at the 1/4 mile mark. 1 minute and 42 seconds. What?! 1:42 for 1/4 mile is under a 7-minute mile! What was I, crazy?!?! I knew I would not survive 2 1/2 miles at that pace, so I slowed down a little, but apparently not much. At the 1/2 mile mark I was at 3:30, so I did 1:48 for the 2nd quarter, but was still on pace for a 7-minute mile. Not gonna happen this week! Fortunately (yeah, right!) I was getting into the uphill, so I slowed down anyway. Did the next quarter in about 2:00 (which is an 8-minute mile). Same for the next quarter. And the next. In fact, the entire rest of the run was at almost exactly that pace. With one quarter left I was behind the 8:00 pace by 9 seconds, and although I wasn't really trying to, I found myself speeding up to try to make it up. Total time for the 2 1/2 mile run, 19:34. That's a pace of 7:50, though I prefer to think of it as 1/2 mile at 7:00 and 2 miles at 8:00. I think when Coach Jim gets back we may need to adjust the plan!

After slacking off for a week to rest their lazy butts, Lindsey and Jen were back and joined Bernie and me. Worked out for about 45 minutes. I won't be back for the Wednesday workout, as I have other plans (sorry guys, you'll just have to manage without me).

Wednesday, March 26, 2003 - 4 miles in 36'
The Plan: Week 3 - Day 2 - 3 1/2 miles at a comfortable pace (just to get used to the distance)
I didn't run last night because I had my regular Tuesday night date. Usually I bring food over and cook it there or bring something already prepared, but yesterday Irene called and said that they had it all ready for me. Irene and Henry are an elderly couple (in body only, in mind and spirit they're younger than many people half their age) from Jordan Lutheran Church. They were looking for people to come in occasionally to fix a meal, and I enjoyed their company so much, I made it into a regular thing. Last night they had a wonderful meal of ham, beans, potatoes, and fresh strawberries prepared. It was excellent.

Anyway, I didn't run last night, so I did my 3 1/2 miles this morning before work. Well, at least that was the plan. I wasn't going to drive somewhere to run, then drive back home to shower, so I ran near home. I do not, as I have mentioned before, have any exact route marked out. Again, I based it on time. I knew I could do at least a 10-minute mile, even for this longer distance, so I set my goal on 35 minutes to cover the 3 1/2 miles. In order to end at a decent spot (so I could end near home and so I could easily measure it later) I ended up running for 36 minutes. Not bad considering it's fairly hilly so I had plenty of inclines to contend with. Went home and showered, then drove the route on my way to work. Exactly 4 miles. I did an extra half mile, at an overall pace of 9:00. "That'll do, pig, that'll do."

As I said, no workout today. I was trying to get more of the 7th grade Sunday School class to the Wednesday night Lenten Soup and Supper at church, so I told them I would meet them there and we could start a "kid's table". None of them made it, but Lent isn't over yet, so I'm not done trying.

Thursday, March 27, 2003 - 2 miles in 15'
The Plan: Week 3 - Day 3 - 1 mile at 8 minute pace; 1 mile at 8:30 pace; 1/2 mile warmdown
Alright, so, I'm not so good at taking directions or sticking to plans. I like to wing it. I went to Trexler Park and set off at a good pace, hoping to do a 7-minute mile then an 8-minute mile. At the 1/4 mile mark I was at 1:30. I thought, "Right on track." And kept running...hum de dum...run, run, run...huff, puff...why am I having such trouble? Oh no! 1:30 for a quarter is 3:00 for a half, which is a 6-minute mile! Not gonna happen for an entire mile yet! I slowed down, and hit the 1/2 mile mark at 3:15. Better, but still too fast (a pace of 6:30). Hit the hill and slowed down, and did the first mile in exactly 7 minutes. Slowed down again, and did the next mile in just under 8 minutes. Total: 2 miles in 15 minutes, for a pace of 7:30.

Saturday, March 29, 2003 - 2 miles in 15'
The Plan: Week 3 - Day 4 - (if run) - easy two miles
I have a definitive grasp on what my "easy" pace is: as fast as I can go without dying. I wasn't in the mood to run easy. Some friends asked if I had hit the runner's high. I've hit the runner's low plenty, but never the high. I don't think my running is relaxed enough for that. I believe I'm over-exerting myself and I still don't think I'm breathing right. I pretty much breathe out for two steps, then in for two or three. I know I have a fairly long stride, but that seems like a lot of air (and hot air, to boot). Even though it's not in the plan, I'm going to try to run tomorrow, and really make this an "easy" run of however long I feel like running. No mile markers, though I will time myself and measure it afterwards, but no pushing the pace!

I tried to run while listening to my "Wow Hits 2003" CD on a "jog-proof" portable CD player. "Jog-proof" my achilles tendon! I think 45 seconds jog-proof means you get no skipping if you only jog for 45 seconds at a time! I did over 1/4 mile of starts and stops, trying to wear the player without it skipping. Finally found the solution. I have to carry it. That worked. I ran at Trexler Park and went clockwise, which is the opposite of what I usually do. Since I lost the first quarter to the CD player, I started just before the steepest incline of the loop. I have been advised to take shorter strides when going uphill, but I find myself trying to stretch my stride so that I'm not. Ran the first mile in 7:00, and the second in 8:00, averaging to a pace of 7:30. Easy 2 miles. Right. Maybe tomorrow.

Sunday, March 30, 2003 - 3 miles
The Plan: Week 3 - Day 5 - There is no day 5!
Winter came back. It was cold and snowing. I had no intention of running outside. I found an indoor track to run on. According to the sign, six times around the track was 1/4 of a mile. I ran at a nice, easy pace, and did the first 1/4 in 2:30. That equals a 10-minute mile. No problem. Well, one problem. I have a tendency to lose count. By lap eight I wasn't sure if I was starting 8, or finishing 8, so I just dropped the count altogether and ran for 22 minutes at that pace. At no point did I feel winded, partially because I was taking it easy, but also because there were no hills. After the 22 minutes, I kicked it up and ran faster. I resisted the urge to time every lap, and waited to do 3. Three laps is 1/8 of a mile. I did it in one minute, which meant I was running an 8-minute mile. Was that all?! I could have sworn I was running faster than that!! I kept pushing it, but just could not seem to run faster than a pace of 8:00. I did 3/4 of a mile at that speed, then stopped. Either the track was not quite 6 laps = 1/4 mile, or I just couldn't speed myself up after running for 22 minutes. A decent run nonetheless.

Went down to the basketball court, found a chair, sat down, and shot baskets. Yes, you read that correctly, I sat down and shot baskets. Next Saturday (April 5th) I will be playing in a wheelchair basketball game to raise funds for Dream Come True. I'm bad enough at regular basketball, I thought I had better practice shooting sitting down. People looked at me funny, but, that's never stopped me before.

Tuesday, April 1, 2003 - too cold!
The Plan: Race Week!
Too cold to run yesterday or today (for me, anyway). Good thing I ran on Sunday. The 5k is this coming Saturday, although I knew all along when it was, it seems to have snuck up on us (me and my coach) anyway.

Jim sent a race week plan:

Let me make a suggestion. You want to ease into a race the last few days.
I would suggest the following:
Wednesday:   2 1/2 miles at a normal pace (8:30-9:00); take a stretch break and then run a hard mile to see what you have left (time it if possible)
Thursday:   3 miles at a comfortable pace (don't keep time)
Friday:   1 1/2 miles VERY easy (do it as early as possible to maximize recovery --- in other words, don't wait until 8:00 p.m. to go out), stretch well before and after run
Saturday:   Wake up at least 2 hours before the race; stretch well before you leave home; after you get your race packet; stretch and do some light running; also do 3-4 "striders" (hard running but not quite a full sprint) of about 100 yards or so to get the heart pumping; afterward stretch the parts of your legs that still feel tight; finally, I usually eat a piece of toast and have a small drink in the morning, but do what you think is good for your stomach.

Good Luck!


Wednesday, April 2, 2003 - 2 1/2 miles in 19:15; 1 mile in 7:00
The Plan: Race Week - Wednesday 2 1/2 miles at a normal pace (8:30-9:00); take a stretch break and then run a hard mile to see what you have left (time it if possible)
Ok, here we go. Went to Trexler park. Ran counter-clockwise (downhill to flat for first 1/2 mile). At the 1/4 mile mark I was at 1:30 ay chiuaua! That's a 6-minute mile. Slowed down a little and ran the next 1/4 in 1:45 (a 7-minute mile). Now the uphill. I was pretty much sucking wind by then, but I kept going and did the next 1/4 mile in 2:00, which is an 8-minute mile. Did the entire rest of the 2 1/2 at 2:00 per quarter mile - a steady 8:00 pace. Overall for the 2 1/2 miles, 19:15, a pace of 7:42.

I stopped and stretched, as per instructions, then set off to see what I had left. I was starting from where I started initially, and set off at a decent pace. As I approached the first 1/4 mile marker I felt like I had nothing left. I check my time at the marker, 1:30 for the first 1/4 mile, right back to the 6-minute pace. That's why I had nothing left! Did the next 1/4 mile in 1:45 (7-minute pace). The uphill quarter in 2:00 (8-minute pace), exactly repeating my first run today. The only difference this time was, I knew I only had 1/4 mile left! I kicked it up, finishing the last quarter in 1:30. Total for the mile: 7:00 minutes. I guess I had something left after all.

Thursday, April 3, 2003 - ran for 34 1/2 minutes, no idea how far
The Plan: Race Week - Thursday 3 miles at a comfortable pace (don't keep time)
Had to keep time, because I couldn't measure distance. Ran around Cedar Beach (the loop that goes past the Rose Gardens). Each loop took me 11:30, so I ran for 34:30 total. Unless I went slower than 11-minute miles (which I doubt), I ran at least 3 miles. At no time during the run was I "sucking wind" (though I did suck down a fair share of gnats), so I guess I ran around 9:00 to 10:00 minute miles. I like that loop, there are only subtle hills, no steep inclines at all.

Found out that the Cedar Beach loop is about 1 1/4 miles, so I ran 3 3/4 in 34:30, for an easy pace of about 9:12 a mile. I could keep that up for longer. Maybe even 10k.

Saturday, April 5, 2003 - RACE DAY!
I didn't run yesterday. No opportunity until after 5:00, and it was cold, so I decided to skip it and just save myself for the race. Saturday morning was cold, somewhere in the lower 40s. Although it never qute rained, it was very damp. On the way to meet my father (who came out for the race) I stopped at a gas station and picked up a pair of work gloves to wear while running. That was smart. It was cold. The race started at 10:05, and I started somewhere in the middle. As always, pacing myself is the problem. I ran the 1st mile in just under 7 minutes. The next mile included a fairly steep, fairy long incline, which wasn't too bad. As I was coming back down the hill I looked ahead and saw that we would be running flat for a while, so I stretched out and pushed it while going downhill to gain some time. Then I got to the bottom, and saw that the next part wasn't so flat after all. It was a subtle incline that stretched a long, long, way. That was tough. It was worse than the steep hill. Just about at the end of the incline I reached the 2 mile mark at 15:18, so I ran the 2nd mile at about 8:24. I guess the good part about not exactly knowing the course, is that you can always imagine the finish line is just ahead of you. As I thought I was getting close I kept up the pace, hoping to kick it up for the finish. By the time I got near the finish, I had very little kick left. When I saw the finish line I checked my watch and had just enough left to make sure I finished in under 24 minutes. Final time: 23:46, final pace: 7:40, last 1.1 miles at a pace of 7:42. I came in 42 out of the 128 in the race, and 5 out of the 10 in my age/gender bracket. Quite respectable for my first race.

Then I did the only thing worse than not stretching before a race: I didn't stretch, or even cool down, after. I got a drink, went to the car, got in and started driving. I had volunteered to coach soccer for kids from downtown Allentown, which started at 11:00. Got there just in time to put on my cleats and shin guards, and got started. I had a group of kids around 11 years old. There was only one coach per team, but I did get plenty of help from Stacey, one of the players on the Muhlenberg Girls Soccer team. Thanks Stacey! I couldn't have done it without you! Our team had 7 kids and played against a team of 10, but since we only had 45 minutes we didn't want to make anyone sit out, so the other coach was the referee, and Stacey and I played. I guess that was my "cool down" from the race. The kids got back on their bus about 1:00, and I went home and took a shower...almost done for the day...

...but not quite...

Basketball. Wheelchair Basketball, to be exact. My department has a yearly game we play against the LVCIL (Lehich Valley Center For Independent Living) Freewheelers to raise money for A Dream Come True. We had 15 players, so we each played about 1/3 of the game. It was lots of fun, but it wasn't easy. They play hard. They know how to block you up so you can't move, and they can really fly down the court. A young boy and girl (my new friends Collin and Bethany) seemed to take great pleasure in getting in my way, and I had great fun trying (unsuccessfully) to get around them. I didn't get a single shot in, but because I was often first in the mix, they always had someone, sometimes 2 or 3 people, trying to tie me up, which left my teammates open. Good thing they didn't know that I can't shoot baskets while standing, no less from a wheelchair (I hope none of the freewheelers reads this and remembers it for next year, they'll know they can just let me have the ball and go, and it won't matter). To give you an idea of how hard and fast the game goes, at times during the game you can notice the distinct smell of something burning, the result of two wheelchair wheels grinding against each other as you're chasing each other down. Sometimes you can actually see the sparks.

So I ran for 24 minutes, played soccer for almost 2 hours, and played 20 minutes of wheelchair basketball. Looks like I got my 3 weekly exercises all done in one day!

It's Sunday, April 6, 2003, 12:01 AM. I finished my last entry for this fitness log about a minute before midnight. I'm tired, and I'm teaching the 7th grade Sunday School class alone tomorrow, so I need to get up early to prepare. It's been a long day capping a long, but worthwhile, month's journey. I'm going to bed now. Good-Night.