Beware the race day balloon ladies

Step it up Donald!

Today’s run (street): 3.4 miles

I read a funny article on WSJ.com about the “balloon ladies” that Disney World uses to sweep back-of -the-pack runners in their races. These women work to get the slowest racers off the course so that Disney can open up their streets to theme-park customers. Apparently the balloon squad is viewed with terror by runners who can’t maintain the minimum 16 min/mile pace. The next time you finish a race and hang out near the finish line watching the stragglers come in, think about the fact that finishing means as much to them as it does to you.

This morning it was cold and gray, with only 66% humidity. In other words, near perfect running weather. I got out a little earlier than normal because of scheduling pressure, so I tried to avoid roads that are heavily trafficked by school buses. My timing was pretty good and every time I saw a bus it was a safe distance away. Changing up my usual route helped alleviate the boredom that comes from running the same streets, day after day.

My run was unremarkable, except for the fact that I ended up finishing a little faster than expected. That made me happy. I really didn’t put too much effort into it, but I did step things up a few times during the run. A little extra speed, when added to a moderately paced run, can result in a satisfactory effort. The cold, dry weather was also helpful, with no energy sapping heat or humidity to slow me down.

Incomplete recovery is better than none

Yesterday’s troubles continued through the night, and I got to bed early in hopes on sleeping off my pounding headache. I woke up in the middle of the night feeling no better, so I took some pseudoephedrine and Advil and went back to bed. When I got up, my headache was far less noticeable and the heavy fatigue I’d carried most of Wednesday was gone. Still, I knew better than to try a run. I learned something from yesterday.

Headaches of this type are really debilitating and, when they finally leave, the world feels so much better. But even with that improvement, I wasn’t out of the woods. I felt well enough to go into the office but some slight dizziness and a mild headache remained. Sudafed saved the day, but it wasn’t a complete victory. Another dose this morning brought further improvement.

I’m not sure what’s behind these headaches but the only way to get rid of them seems to be a combination of sleep, NSAIDs, and pseudoephedrine. Missing a day’s workout, like I did today, would normally bother me because it will make it harder to reach my weekly goal of 20 miles. But an article from Tuesday’s WSJ.com sent to me by FS, says that (for older endurance athletes) it’s better to keep weekly mileage below that number. Older endurance athletes that run 7:30 paces or faster that is. So I guess I’m good with my 20.

The Cross Country Kid

Today’s workout (elliptical): 25 minutes – high resistance

My daughter has joined her middle school cross country team and yesterday they had their first practice. The coach had them run laps around a field that I know from personal experience is plenty big. My daughter and I had discussed running strategy in the past and she put it to use at the practice. While the others (especially the boys – it’s co-ed) took off fast she stayed at the back of the pack to conserve energy for the duration of the run. Due to her smart running, she ended up finishing with the front of the pack and she’s excited to get back out there again today. I honestly wouldn’t care if she ended up last as long as she enjoys the experience. Cross country training will get those kids into great shape. How long will it be before she can outrun me?

Speaking of training, I focused this morning’s workout on a high resistance elliptical session. I more than doubled my usual resistance level and tried to stay within sight of my usual pace rate. At the 10 minute mark I was soaked with sweat but I knew this low impact workout was exactly what I needed. I ended up going for 25 minutes and I’m sure I did more work than I have on any 25 minute run of late. I’m really looking forward to my long runs this weekend. Maybe I’ll do a speed run tomorrow morning. Either that or rest. I’m beginning to believe strategic rest is the best way to hold the gains.

There is an article in today’s Wall Street Journal about running in Central Park at night. Some of what’s said reminds me of my own 4:00 AM running experiences. As much as I like Central Park, I don’t think I’d be willing to run there at midnight. Safety first!

Will Runner’s World start covering hedge funds now?

Yesterday morning my friend Sedentary Man handed me a section from the Wall Street Journal and said I’d probably want to read this article entitled “We have ways of helping you buy running shoes.” I think that was supposed to be a play on the way German officers would threaten torture in old WWII movies. If that was the case the writer missed her mark because the article described four complex but helpful experiences that led to her being fit with the right running shoes. The writer referred to herself with the royal “we” throughout the article which I found odd but, that aside, I thought she did a good job researching the buying process. She visited four running stores, three in the state of Washington and one in NYC. I recently went through this experience at Jackrabbit so I was curious to see how these other stores performed their evaluations.  

Three out of the four stores performed gait analysis using video and a treadmill. A doctor who was quoted in the story said that the video process is “gimmicky” but I disagree with that. Seeing myself pronate in hi-def convinced me that I needed a moderate stability shoe. One store used a pressure sensitive mat that changed color based on weight distribution. A couple of stores had the writer run barefoot on the treadmill. I thought that was weird because most people heel strike but will never do that when running barefoot so what does it prove?

In the end it seemed like each store did a good job of identifying the right shoe for the writer. I was amused to read that she tried on a pair of “Mizunas” and I’m sure the Mizuno people loved reading that!

This morning I considered my choices for my daily workout: run, strength conditioning, another elliptical session or shoveling the newly fallen (and still falling) snow on our driveway. A look out the window confirmed the report of 3″-8″ with 5 inches on the ground at 4:00 AM. I decided that my car could blast through that provided I escape before the town plows come by and deposit 20″ of hard pack in front of the driveway.

I decided to stay inside and started with the Lolo core exercises that I found in Runner’s World last year. I really like them because they only take 15 minutes but you feel like you’ve accomplished something when you’ve finished. I followed that with about 20 minutes of hand weights. I only used 5 and 10 pound weights because I wanted to do lots of reps and start a baseline for arm and upper body conditioning. I left for the train before the snowplows came. Standing on the snowy LIRR platform I was happy to see the train come in and I was glad that I started my day with a different but energizing workout.