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Posts Tagged ‘jogging’

You would think that with those long legs I would win every race!

Shadow

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After watching Penn State lose to Georgia in the TaxSlayer Bowl, I decided to go out for a late afternoon run to burn off some frustration and holiday sweets.  I am usually a morning runner, but I slept in.  I planned on running 6-7 miles, and surely I could get it in before dark.

Please don’t call me Shirley.

I was visiting this weekend and running in unfamiliar territory.  Being not far from Valley Forge National Park, and having run part of it a few days ago, I thought this would be a good place to run.  There appeared to be a nice loop on the map which looked about 6-7 miles.  What could go wrong?

This same question was asked by James Franklin and the Redcoats.  Neither fared well, and neither did I for that matter.  The plan looked great on paper.

Everything went well for the first five miles, until I reached a point which on the map below, corresponds to a covered bridge.

The bridge was closed for repairs, and so was the nice little blue path I had been following.

I was at the red circle.  I was parked at the green square.  I was as far from my car as I could get, and I could not go any further.

Valley-Forge-1

At this point, I had three choices.  One, I could turn around and head back the way I had come.  This would have put me in the 8-10 mile range which was a little longer than I really wanted to do.  The advantage, though, was that I would be traversing known ground.

The second option was to take a trail which ran along the same river as the blue paved path.  I hadn’t bothered to bring a map, but this same map was posted alongside the road before entering the trail.

The third option was to curl up in a fetal position and suck my thumb, waiting for a park ranger to come and rescue me.

Valley-Forge-2

Alas, I opted for the dotted line trail.  It didn’t look too bad.  Besides, it was getting dark and my mind was still numb from Penn State’s loss.

I made a mistake.

The trail climbed a mountain.  I was weaving in and out of trees, roots and rocks as the sun was disappearing and the already dimly lit woods was getting darker.  Each step brought me closer to a difficult choice:  turn around and go back, an ever longer alternative as I continued forward to what I hoped was the warmth and comfort of my jeep.  But I could sense lions, tigers and bears rustling in the underbrush around me, waiting for me to collapse into an asthma attack with the elevation, or in the fetal position sucking my thumb and waiting for a park ranger to rescue me.

Either way, I was wondering if I would ever get home.  I wasn’t even sure this stupid dotted trail would cross the water or if I was even going in the right direction anymore.

Just as the westering sun was setting, the trail headed back down Mount Krumpet and eventually deposited me on Route 23.  A welcome sight came into focus.  A bridge!  And on the other side–a paved trail that headed back to Washington’s Chapel.

I was saved!  I lived to get lost another day!  I wonder if Washington ever considered collapsing into the fetal position, sucking his thumb?

Probably not.

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The past week I had the opportunity to go running on Hilton Head Island, in the Sea Pines area mainly.  The weather was fantastic, although perhaps a bit more humid than one would choose for running.  After the winter we had in central PA, I will not complain about heat or humidity!

This was a typical view while running:

HiltonHead

The Sea Pines Resort area had an elaborate maze of biking/running trails that wound along the roadway system and golf courses.

Trails

This made running really enjoyable until . . . .

STOP

Thou shalt not pass! (DO NOT collect $200)

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  A STOP sign for pedestrians?

STOPcloseup

Well!  Isn’t that special?!  Let’s give the benefit of the doubt and the right of way to the two ton death machine instead of the helpless pedestrian or biker.  Who came up with this idea?

As if that wasn’t bad enough, there were still thoughtful drivers who would come to a stop to allow bikes, runners and walkers to pass.  The problem was, the cars behind said Good Samaritan weren’t always ready to stop–they weren’t expecting it, especially if they were local and used to this cockamamie hierarchy of right-of-way privileges.  Worse yet, one lane of traffic would stop, which they didn’t have to, but the other lane wouldn’t.  This was problematic when a small child on a bike started forward  because the nearest lane stopped, not realizing the other lane wasn’t stopping.  I saw this happen numerous times.

I have to be honest.  I ran many of these STOP signs.  Literally.  Forgive me Father, for I have sinned.  A Hilton Head cop finally pulled me over.

I tried to explain.  “I slowed down officer.”

He wasn’t impressed.  “You were supposed to STOP.”

“But I slowed down, ” I protested.

He then pulled out his nightstick and started beating me.

As I’m writhing in pain, he asks, “So!  Do you want me to slow down, or do you want me to STOP?”

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Scrolling down Facebook, I came across an add for compression socks for runners.

SeussRunners

I see this, and immediately, my mind isn’t thinking running socks, it’s thinking Dr. Seuss.

WhoVille

Every Who down in Whoville liked Running a lot, but the Grinch, who lived just north of Whoville – did not. The Grinch hated Running – the whole Running season. Now, please don’t ask why; no one quite knows the reason. It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were laced tight. Or it could be his shorts chafed and didn’t fit him quite right. But I think that the most likely reason of all… may have been that his Asics were two sizes too small. But, whatever the reason, his shorts or his shoes, he stood there on Race Day hating the Whos. 

I certainly don’t hate running, but why on God’s earth  would I wear something that looks like it was designed by Dr. Seuss or trendy in Munchkin Land?

I fully understand visibility, particularly if you run in the dark.  But seriously?  These things are visible from space!  They hurt your eyes!  I’m an eye doctor.  I should know.  And drivers might be laughing so hard they still run you over like the Wicked Witch of the East.

You have no running power here.  Be gone!  Before someone runs a car over you too!

I tried the whole clown shoe thing–you know what I’m talking about–those shoes that try to use every color in a Crayola set of 64 and were probably designed by the owner’s 3-year-old daughter in preschool.  The experiment failed primarily because they weren’t comfortable.  But the gaudy color thing is just not me.  It is actually getting harder and harder to find shoes that only have one or two colors, and don’t glow in the dark as if they were manufactured in Chernobyl.

In running, function and comfort should trump everything.  But do we have to sacrifice good taste?

Do we want our sport to end up like this?

AlCzervik

Nice thing about these clothes? I can play 18 holes and then jog 13 miles without changing!

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I should host my own cable show . . . Ice Road Runners (Ice Road Truckers)  . . . or maybe Man vs. Nature (Man vs. Food or Man vs. Wild.)

The need to run in the cold weather is the summation of three primary vector forces coming together as one.  First, I love to run.  Second, I hate the dreadmill or running indoors.  And third, I live in central Pennsylvania, not far from the home of Punxsutawney Phil.

I foresee more winter . . .and snow FOREVER!

I foresee more winter . . .and snow FOREVER!

One might also argue that a little bit of obsessive-compulsive personality disorder or run-of-the-mill insanity plays a role here, but I’m not sure why people think those things about me.

Running in the winter presents a number of new challenges that our running brethren in Florida, Arizona and Texas do not need to worry about.

Perhaps first and foremost is the issue of traction.  Running shoes meeting ice do not generally end in good results.  There is no way to throw it into four wheel drive when you are only ever running on two wheels.  And while the snow may look soft and fluffy, the ground beneath it is HARD.  I have tried several traction devices over the years, one from North Face that you slip on–but they kept coming off!) and I tried screwing sheet metal screws into the bottom of an old pair of running shoes . . .

screwshoes

The problem with the latter, is that under most running conditions, I am not always on snow or ice.  The removable cleats are better for running where you might go from road, to trail, to sidewalk and back to road at irregular intervals, with varying levels of ice, snow or no precipitation.  Also, I always felt like I could feel the ends of the screws coming up at my feet–it might have been in my head, but I just didn’t like it.

My favorite to date is Kahtoola NANOspikes, which are removable, but seem to stay on my shoes better than the other product.  I recommend these for the runner who must traverse icy conditions.  I think I could jog laps on a skating rink with these on!

Four-wheel drive for your feet!

Four-wheel drive for your feet!

But in addition to traction, there is another issue of equal or greater importance . . . the temperature.  It’s cold in winter.  When I got up this morning, it was -2 degrees F.  The wind was howling with chills estimated at -15 to -22 deg F .  It was actually about 5 degrees at noon when I headed out, but the wind chill was still subzero.

The key to dressing in winter is LAYERS.  I start with a Nike DriFit tank, followed by a Nike DriFit long sleeve.  These are wicking shirts that allow moisture to wick away from your skin.  The only thing worse than being cold is being cold AND WET.  And even at zero degrees, if you are running, you will SWEAT.  In fact, you will generate enough heat that you should dress as if the ambient temperature is about 20 degrees warmer than it really is.  You should feel cold when you start, because you will warm-up as your muscles generate heat.

I next add an UnderArmour cold gear shirt which is heavier than the first two layers, but also wicking.  And on top, I use either a Nike jacket or the pullover (a Pittsburgh Penguin pullover made by Antigua) you see in the following series . . .

Layers!  Not just for cake anymore!

Layers! Not just for cake anymore!

Fortunately for you, there was no room for the final image in this running game of strip poker which I seemed to keep losing.  At 5 degrees with subzero wind chills, I also wore three pair of gloves, a UA balaclava and a warm running hat also made by UA.  There are different styles of balaclavas and this type can be pulled up over one’s mouth, but I am a mouth breather when I run, and I find it gets too wet and icy if I cover my mouth.  Some people opt for a ski mask with eye holes, but it makes me feel like I am a bank robber running away from the scene of a crime if I wear something like that!

Layering also gives one the option of removing layers if the temperature rises or you simply overestimated how cold it would be.  I actually felt warm at times (sun was out, and when the wind wasn’t blowing in my face!)   My left eyelid froze to my cornea, but I microwaved some artificial tears when I got home and melted that baby off in no time!  Please do not try this at home–I am a trained eye professional!  (Ok, my cornea wasn’t really frozen–I made all that up, and please do not put hot drops in your eyes and never microwave your eyedrops!)

I do not wear any special socks, and in fact, I prefer thin wicking socks.  I wore my regular socks and my feet were not cold, but that is me.  If you suffer with cold feet, there are thermal socks you can invest in.

There is a certain satisfaction in overcoming the elements, like a mountain climber beating Everest or a rock climber successfully ascending (insert a challenging rock climbing mountain here.)  I would much rather be running in Phoenix at 120 dry degrees, but that was not an option this morning.

And my nose will thaw out by spring.  Which should come sometime in the next six months.  I hope.

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It was like déjà vu all over again.

There I am, jogging along.  Minding my own business.  And then there’s ice.  And then there’s me, falling.

Runner down!

So what did I do?

I jumped back up and continued running, before anyone else might have noticed.  There is a trail that leads from our development to the high school, and that was where I fell.  I fell right in full view of several houses.  I ran far enough to be out of the line of sight before I stopped to check for injuries or missing body parts.

Unlike 2009, when I fell on the ice while jogging around the high school, I did not seriously injure myself.  I did scrape and bruise my arm.  My hip hurts, but not the joint itself.  Just a flesh wound!  Or bruise.  I finished another three miles after the fall–including running back the same icy trail to get home!  I also apparently cut my ankle, but I didn’t even notice that until someone else pointed it out.

I was actually more worried about my Ipod.  I carry it in my hand inside my glove, and run the ear bud wire down my sleeve.  When I hit the ground, the music suddenly stopped.  I might have gone deaf, but I was more worried I had smashed my Ipod.  My right arm was hurting and took the brunt of the fall.

But a quick check showed that the wire had been pulled free.  I plugged it back in, the band played on, and off I went.

Now you may ask, why would you run on a trail you knew was icy?

TRADITION!  Tradition!

Why do rednecks ask someone to hold their beer and watch as they try to drive an ATV up a tree?

It’s what I do.  I run.  I can’t let a silly thing like weather get in the way.

The trail was there.  I had to get from here to there.  I couldn’t very well fly over it.  My dogsled is in the shop (it’s been a loooong winter.)  I ran on this trail yesterday without falling.  I fully expected to pull this thing off again without bloodshed.  Alas, I was wrong.

Couldn’t you run on a treadmill?

I own a dreadmill.  I hate the dreadmill.  I’d rather fall on the ice than run on the dreadmill.  I would not dreadmill here or there.  I would not dreadmill anywhere.  I would not do it with a goat.  I would not do it on a boat.  Well, I might if  I couldn’t jog around the deck.  But I digress.

I have noticed that when I run, my pace varies.  Here is a chart of my pace when I’m not running falling on ice:

PaceChart

If it were my heart rate, it would probably be fibrillation.  Don’t quote me on that.  Dammit Jim, I’m just an eye doctor!  I haven’t put a stethoscope on a patient’s heart in 23 years.

Now, can you imagine trying to run those peaks and valleys on a dreadmill?  My finger would have a blister on it from adjusting the speed up and down too often.  I would be in fibrillation if I had to do that.

And, if I haven’t been perfectly clear on this matter, I hate the dreadmill.

Couldn’t you just not run?

Couldn’t you just stop asking stupid questions?  I don’t ask you to just stop breathing do I?

So why don’t you wear YakTrax or some other product that would be useful on ice?

My you ask a lot of questions.  Just like I own a dreadmill, I have a pair of DueNorth Ice Cleats.  I don’t like them!  Oh, they work fine, if you are constantly on snow or ice and don’t mind things strapped to your feet besides your shoes.  But the road from my house to the trail–NO ICE!  From the trail to the rest of my run–NO ICE!  I would only need them for about a quarter of a mile or less, and I hate the clacking, bumpy feel of them on dry pavement.  Don’t roll your eyes at me–you asked!

OK.  I could stop and try to stretch them on over my shoes before I hit the trail, and then reverse the process on the other side.  Repeat for the trip back home.  Carry them in my hands when I’m not on the ice.  But if you don’t know me very well, I do not have the patience for that shit and I’ll take my chances with the ice.

So why did I bother telling you this?

CautionIce

It’s a public service announcement.  Ice is icy.  You might fall.  When you fall, you might get hurt.  If you get hurt you might go to the hospital.  If you go to the hospital, you might have to watch cable TV.  Don’t  get stuck watching cable TV.  Stay off the ice!

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