12 of 52: Treadmill Time Machine

It’s not that kind of time machine

I did not travel to the past and warn my younger self about all the mistakes I would make. I’m mostly fond of them and they do serve a purpose. After all – without them I would not be me. Besides – the treadmill isn’t that kind of time machine anyways.

I call it a time machine because strange things happen to my sense of time when I’m on it. It’s random. Sometimes time will fly by. Other times I swear that I’m four dream levels down every hour in real life takes two and a half years! (That’s an Inception reference just in case not everyone loves that movie as much as I do.)

Last week, I worked in some moderate speed towards the end of the run to fight some boredom and after thinking about it I thought I would try a more structured approach with longer intervals this week.

The Run

The PLAN was basically 3 groups of 3 mile ladders, where the groups themselves looked like a ladder. See this dream within a dream thing actually related to my run. Well – it related to my plan anyways

  • Warm up – 2miles. LSD (Long Slow Distance) pace.
  • Ladder 1 – Faster ladder (3 miles) –
    • I knew this group would feel easy (so early in the run) but make the rest of the run more challenging.
  • Ladder 2 – Slower ladder (3 miles)
    • This was supposed to be an active recovery from the first ladder dropping right back into LSD paces.
  • Ladder 3 – Faster ladder (3 miles)
    • This is where I really expected to suffer – especially mile 10 but I figured it would be doable especially since I would have just come from three miles of LSD pace.
  • Cool down (2.1 miles)
Scrawled out a few minutes before getting on the treadmill. Seemed reasonable at the time.

No plan survives contact with the enemy

What Actually happened was completely different. I don’t exactly remember what (this is what happens when you wait two weeks to write the report) but I do know two things:

  1. I am not in good enough shape (this week) to follow that plan.
  2. My foot pod and watch suck at figuring out how fast I’m going on a treadmill. I need to investigate how to pull data directly from the treadmill.

So at the end of mile 5 (the first ‘faster ladder’) I was a lot more winded than I thought I would be so I started to modify from there, sticking as close to the shape of my plan as possible – but with slower paces and some walking. I walked for almost a quarter of a mile after mile 7 thinking it would help me reset and run the last faster ladder as planned. I did help me pick things up, but I continued to run out of gas more quickly so my faster intervals got shorter and shorter.

Now – it may sound like this was a disaster, but here’s how I feel about it:

  • My real goal was to work hard for as long as I could, spread out over a long distance. I did that.
  • Even though it didn’t go to plan I feel like the experience improved my fitness overall.
  • Also – I didn’t hurt myself. I haven’t been running enough during the week or doing enough cross training to really have any expectations.
  • I’ve only been running 13.1 every week so realistically, that’s what I can expect – to be able to run 13.1.

Given all of that, I have been watching my 13.1 time get slower and slower while I work the same or harder and I’m not really anxious to find out what my “natural” 13.1 time will be after a year of no training so – I’m starting to focus my energies more on more intentional training. Especially now that my life and my schedule are starting to look more like a deliberate life and less like an episode of Pigs in Space. (Think carefully before clicking that…)

BONUS – I can now go back to this workout in a few weeks to see if I’ve made any improvements. I’m starting a new virtual training program tomorrow that includes core/strength training, cycling, and running workouts. I have no doubt that this will help me.

This was by far my slowest half of the 52 so far but it was still a good run.

Next Week: Eternal Winter Six Hour Run

11 of 52: Half Marathon Training

Wait. What?

Why on earth would I run half marathon training? Am I not already running half marathon distance every week? Yes. Am I not crazy enough? Yes, of course (but not as crazy as Jimmy who ‘accidentally’ ran a 50k!). Well if you know me you know I did it for the company. To see my friends. To take a moment to look around and make sure I’m not the only fool running on a Saturday morning when the bed is warm and the eylids are… well, closed.

Striders Half Marathon Training

The Annapolis Striders offer to their members a variety of training programs for a variety of distances. These programs offer training plans, online support (email and Facebook groups) and of course a supported (water and some supervision provided) long run on the weekends.

If you’re going after a longer distance or trying to improve your time, I highly recommend falling into one of these. If you aren’t in the Annapolis area a quick online search should reveal a similar running club near you. There really is no substitute for knowing you are not alone in your efforts.

Besides – where else will you find about 100 other runners on a cold Saturday morning in January?

The Run

It was – COLD. Relatively speaking. This was the coldest run I’ve been on in awhile but even at a brisk 29 degreesI have to admit it really wasn’t that bad after the first couple miles.

I don’t know which is more concerning. The temperature or the time!

Although I warmed up – my nutrition did not. I thought I was being pretty slick by pre opening my Clif shots – and it did save me the hassle of trying to open them before the tips of my fingers froze off however cutting the top off of the package does NOT prevent them from turning into very chewy ice blocks!

Cutting the top off saved me from trying to open it with cold fingers, but it didn’t keep these from freezing!

The group was running 6 miles (the first week of 12) so I would need to add on another 7. I decided to run the first 6 with the group and then just do it again (plus a little) on my own. I didn’t make any plans to run long with anyone so I would just take my chances.

I saw a bunch of people at the start including coaches Michael and Kelly, the friendliest man on the trail – Bruce! – and some Tri Club friends Chris and Virginia. After dragging my feet to get started I eventually caught up to Butch (which took some doing!) and since he was by himself I invited myself to run with him. Come to think of it – I really never did ask if it was OK. That’s how it is sometimes – you just find a friend running a similar pace and next thing you know you’re talking about music and composition and arranging and – oh wait. 6 miles are done already?! Thanks for the run Butch!

I missed my chance to run with Kim and Dave at around mile 10. They were running much further south than I needed to go and I did not put it together that I could have just turned around when it was time. I blame the early hour and temperature.

I hit the 3/4 mark and found myself a little bored on my own. Since this is my 11th straight week running this distance I thought – “let’s work some faster intervals into the last 3 miles”. What could possibly go wrong?

The trail is lined with telephone poles so I decided to run from pole 1 to pole 2 at race pace, then the next two a little faster than the one before and so on – up to the fourth pole. Then walk to the next one (or two) before repeating the cycle. Looks like I did that 7 times before settling back into my easy pace until the finish.

All those little intervals at the end.

It was fine actually and I will continue to work in some speed on these runs here and there as it makes sense. More on this in next week’s report.

At the finish I got to catch up a little bit with Dan who had just finished his own 12 mile run.

Not the Run

During the run with Butch I was talking about how I just cannot seem to fully develop my musical ideas and he said something that is just so obvious and (of course) applicable to so many things. It just takes practice.

So this past week I let go of the “shame” around not “finishing” the music I start. It has kept me from just sitting down to engage the process for awhile. I’ll go through fits and spurts without any consistency or deliberate practice. In the past week I’ve put down 7 new musical ideas and posted 4 of them to SoundCloud.

I’m not concerned about the quality per se or how good I think they are – I’m just showing up every day to practice. I’m already noticing a lot more competence in the software as well as remembering more and more long lost music theory. Looking forward to seeing what lies ahead. Follow me on sound cloud if you’re interested.

Next Week: Treadmill Time Machine

10 of 52: A little Run in a Little Rain with a “Little Bronchitis”.

If you read last weeks report you know that I had a respiratory infection just prior to my run. I got the fever under control a couple days before hand so I rolled the dice and ran.

I actually felt pretty good. A little slow, but pretty good. After flying home my cough got worse and after a full week of coughing I checked into urgent care back at home. I didn’t have a fever but I was sick and tired of falling asleep coughing and waking up coughing.

“A little bronchitis”

If that is a thing – that’s what I had. That’s what my doctor said. “A little bronchitis”. Well I’m really glad I didn’t have a large bronchitis (if that also is a thing) because this little one was a pain in my ass! You know the headaches you can get from coughing all the time? That was me. Every. Day. The upside is that my abs were also getting a hell of a workout – though you can’t really tell on account of the raisin cake and gingerbread…

You can’t tell but I’m trying my best (on the left) not to fall over. Jason looking like he hasn’t even run.

At any rate – I decided to hit up my friend Jason to see if he was available for a run. I’ve been following his recovery from an injury last year and noticed he was getting up in miles and we have similar pace – we also go back a long way (20 years?!) and conversation always runs from the very personal to the deliberately superficial and almost all points in between.

Also – if you read last weeks report you know how I feel about going way back. It’s not that I like reliving the past, I just get a weird push forward when I’m in touch with it. Jason and I spent a lot of hours working together in college. We also spent a lot of hours drinking together back then. The fact that we consistently hang out in the present and in a variety of capacities that do *not* include alcohol reminds me that the past (no matter how gloriously tragic) does not equal the future.

The Run

This weeks run was nothing spectacular. It was wet, but didn’t rain until the last couple miles. I was coldish, but not what I would call winter. The pace was fine, but got hard for me at the end (Jason is coming back strong!). I’d blame it on my little bronchitis but it’s probably more likely because I haven’t been running during the week, trading training for naps and recovery.

Not the Run

We did talk a little about finishing this 52 week run and I have to admit (as will be no surprise to a lot of runners) that even with only doing 10 of these so far there have easily been 3 where I just really didn’t feel like doing it. So the million dollar question is how do you do it anyways – especially when you don’t want to?

For me – for these runs – it’s easy. I said this was what I was doing and although my friends would be kind to me if I didn’t make it I would still feel like I had let myself down. I’ve made the commitment to myself – and not anyone else – and I think that’s the thing. I’ve had a lot of practice feeling a failure about my commitments of late but a little bit of inspection reminds me that there was a lot of success that came along with it.

I will also admit that there are a ton of other things I try and fail to do and I haven’t quite figured out how to commit to those things in the same way that I have committed to this – but hey – if I knew that I’d have to find something else to learn now wouldn’t I?

It’s easy to rationalize things away, and I know there are “zero sum” “all or nothing” people in the world who would lambast me for giving up, but I also don’t want to live in a world entirely of absolutes. It seems like a recipe for sadness. With a capital S. The kind you can’t fake smile your way out of. I’d rather just look the truth in the eye and accept it. Even if I’m the loser.

Still – Running 13.1 miles is something I’m proud to be able to do.


It occurs to me that so far my writing hasn’t been all that instructive in terms of “learning how to run 13.1” like I had intended originally and maybe that’s just the way it will be. Perhaps when I get back into the rhythm of regular training. Until then – I’ll just keep writing what comes to mind.

Next Week: A run with friends (I hope).