Category Archives: Running

Today On The Run #18 Ultra Realistic Treadmill Courses

Recently, I was on vacation and forgot to bring my cold/wet weather running gear.  After running in sunny weather in 70s, 80s, and 90s for the last few months, mid 40s and rain wasn’t my jam, so I decided to head to the workout room at the hotel and pound out 10 on a treadmill.

I was pleasantly surprised to find an open treadmill.  Better yet was that is appeared to be an almost new machine.  I think it was one of these.  Gigantic HD touch screen and loads of entertainment options built right.  Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my workout headphones.

Oh well, let’s just stick to the video running courses.  A few minutes in and I was pretty impressed, the overall quality and variety is better than expected.  But as things went on, I noticed some problems:

  • The source material is shot a few different ways.  I’m guessing a steady cam on someone walking, some from a bike, and some with a drone.  With the latter, the illusion of actually being there kinda falls apart when the distance to the ground gets higher than eye level.
  • I can’t tell for sure, but I think that the video is supposed to be speed synced to the treadmill speed.  Most of the time, it appears to be close enough.  Sometimes, you’re cooking along in real life, but the action on screen is too slow. There’s one segment where you pass a biker who’s moving along at a pretty good clip; pretty sure he was doing better than 8.1 mph I was managing myself.
  • Some of the courses mess with your head.  Running trails with a steep drop off to one side, lots of blind twists and turns, or crazy stuff like rope bridges are convincing enough to make you lean to adjust your virtual balance.  I didn’t really have any issues, but it took a lot of concentration to convince my body that I wasn’t gonna drop off a cliff mid run.
  • In the too real department, there are some sections where you run through populated areas like city streets and beaches.  Just like in real life, people in the videos don’t yield space, or obliviously cross into your path.  There are even a few random yahoos that intentionally jump in front of you or try to high five you maliciously. I seriously wanted to punch something after those sections.

All in all, the videos did make the treadmill experience less annoying than just staring at the wall, so I guess I can’t complain too much.  But, after a few runs back in the outdoors, I’m thankful that I can run outside all year round.

Today On The Run #16 Peace, Love, and Respect

I don’t follow the professional running scene much, but congratulations to Desiree Linden, the first female American Boston Marathon winner since 1985!   The weather was completely bananas; I’m pretty sure I would have hung it up in the first few miles, myself. Des almost quit herself!

Runner’s World has a great write up on how her helping a fellow runner might have been the boost she needed to carry her through.  Amazing stuff.

Speaking from my vast experience of races (which consists of couple of dozen races in half a dozen years, resulting in two 3rd places in my age group. #sadtrombone) I can totally see how making connections during the race helps both sides.  At my earliest races, I got nothing but love and respect from everybody, probably when I needed it the most.

I always tried (and still try) to pay it back at other races and pretty much anytime I meet up with other runners.  Everybody who has the guts to show up at any race, 1 mile to Marathon, earned the right to be there and is no less deserving than anyone else there that day.

Today On The Run #15 Cheating

Stepping into the confessional…

The majority of my miles are done with the company of my trusty MP3 player.  But, I rarely listen to music;  I’m big time into podcasts.  I’m less likely to zone out listening to podcasts and they don’t completely block out ambient noise the way music does.

But, sometimes, I drift back to music.  I load up my podcasts once or a week or so, and throw a few albums on the player to have as a fall back if I run out of new podcast content.  I normally try to keep a good mix of tunes loaded up, but lately, I’ve been into metal.

After a relatively low start to Wednesday’s run.  I cut over from a podcast to some Avenged Sevenfold.  Mercy, that album is pretty much like a shot of adrenaline.  There’s almost way to not to pull out all the stops when its blaring in your ears. It makes the running feel so easy its like cheating.

The rest of the run was pretty much just a blur.   It was just a feeling either, an average 8:05 pace is pretty impressive compared to lack luster mid 9s I’ve been stuck in lately. I don’t think I can pull that off every day, but its probably worth trying once a week and calling that my speedwork.

Today On The Run #14 That 10 Degree Difference

Things are finally starting to get warm again in Brentwood.  The day time temps are in mid to high 70s.  More importantly, the morning temperatures have been in the mid 50s. After an eternity of cold and wet (by California standards, sorry my east coast friends) it feels good to lose a few layers and be able to use my fingers after getting back from a run.

Its pretty amazing how different 45 feels than 55, given they’re not all that far apart.   At 55 degrees, I’m almost thinking about ditching my light running gloves.  I think I’ll stick with long sleeve but light tech shirts for a few more weeks, then with any luck it will be back to short sleeves again.

In the sad, but true category.  I realized that a fair number of my running shirts pre-date my kids. I’m slightly amazed that my 2007 Mountain Goat race shirt (which I happened to run in for my one and only marathon) still looks pretty good, even it has some serious permafunk baked into it after 11 years of service.  I’m kinda surprised that its pretty loose these days; I’m not sure if its because I’m smaller now or its just super stretched out.  Probably time to drop some bucks on new shirts.

Today On The Run #13 Gobble Gobble

Running up on wildlife in my early morning runs is nothing new.  I see and hear all sorts of critters skittering off into the shadows as I plod my way along.  Thankfully, I still haven’t met up with any coyotes or mountain lions that supposedly lurk just beyond my normal running routes.

Yesterday morning, I was cruising along the second half of my route. Not particularly motoring along, but still getting by at a comfortable pace.  One podcast had just wrapped up and there was a few seconds of dead air before the next one started up.  In this brief interlude, I somehow spooked a turkey and pretty much jumped out of my skin when I got an angry gobble in return.

I’ve spooked turkeys before, but normally you can get pretty close before they fight back. The turkey in the instance was off in the shadows where I couldn’t make them out at all.  I quickened my pace a bit fearing for an ambush from the rest of his pack.  With a sigh of relief, I made it away unscathed.

I ran through the same area about 20 minutes later on the way back to home and braced myself for another barrage.  But, the turkey had moved on.

Today On The Run #12 – 365 Days!

On Wednesday, March 21, I marked the completion of 1 year of running every day. No days off.

Yes, those numbers are accurate; all runs are cataloged in my Garmin Connect profile.  Even I know how much I run, 3600 miles in aggregate form still wows me!

I don’t know just how I pulled it off.  There were definitely days where I just didn’t feel like running or time just didn’t seem to be available to squeeze it in.  But, after getting past all the excuses, I had pretty much no regrets about any single run.

Other metrics:

  • 5 pairs of shoes
  • Around 547 hours on the road.
  • 2 mp3 players.
  • Countless podcast episodes.

Thankfully, my current locale makes most running pretty easy for about 3/4 of the year.  The only real trouble spots are the dead of summer and winter.  I’m not a big fan of hot, but most of the time I run outside of the hottest parts of the day.  The cold, where nowhere as bad as it was back in New York, is more annoying than problematic, except for a few days.

We had a nice little teaser of spring a few weeks ago.  Temperatures were in the high 50s at 4am.  Then the cold came back;  low 30s are pretty annoying.  Then, it got a little warmer, but the rains came.  So, far I’ve been able to time it so I’ve only gotten light to moderate rain during my runs.  The current short term forecast is looking pretty good, warmer and dry. Looking forward to it!

What’s next?

  • Are you planning to stop the streak or cut back on mileage?  No and no.  Everything feels pretty good at the moment, so I’m just gonna keep rolling with it.
  • Are you gonna do any races? Still a question mark at this point.  Even though I’ve got all these miles, I’m not really doing speedwork or dedicated hill work.  Kinda getting the racing itch though.

Today On The Run #11 – I can’t quit you

Confession time.  I try to treat my feet right and replace my running shoes every 300 to 400 miles like I’m supposed to, but I use the excuse that I treat my shoes super nice to string them out as long as possible.  While running is a fairly cost effective form of exercise (especially it you don’t race often), shoes are annoying expensive these days if you want to get anything that will last.

So, I have had these Mizuno Wave Enigma 5’s for a while.  I picked them up on a whim in a chance rambling through a DSW.  $160 list price, clearing them out for $60.  Even if they’re junk, $60 is still a pretty decent deal.

Turns out they were way better than I thought they would be.  They feel a lot different than my normal goto Saucony’s (Rides and Guides) but in a good way.  They’re especially good in the rain; they are a little taller than my other shoes and take a lot longer to soak through.

A few other pairs of shoes have come and gone since I got the Mizuno’s, but I’ve been keeping them around for backups when my other shoes are drying out from rainy runs. They still look pretty good and feel pretty much the same as when I got them.  Let’s pull up their profile in my Garmin Connect gear tracker.

Yeah, yikes, over 1,000 miles!  Most other shoes I’ve had recently are pretty well dead at 600.

Hmm, I see that the Engima 6 edition is on discount at Amazon currently; maybe its time to finally retire my trusty old friends.

Today On The Run #10 – Daddy’s Got Some New Shoes

As usual, I was waaaaay overdue for new shoes.  I’m so bad.  Most experts say that shoes are ripe for replacement after 300-400 miles.  I usually push my to at least 500 miles.  I try to justify that with my mostly road miles routine and the fact that good shoes are crazy expensive these days.

I figured it was time to switching things up.  After a half dozen Saucony’s and a nice but over priced pair of Asics, I wanted to try some Hoka One Ones.  I eventually settled on the Arahis (affiliate link).  Shopping around I found the a reasonable deal at a discount seller. After checking out, I disappointed that shipping was Ontrac and super slow.  Flash forward the 5 days or so, and I check order tracking.  Cool, they were just delivered them 10 minutes ago.  Strange, I didn’t hear the truck and nobody rang the bell.

Waited another day to see if tracking was just wrong and still nothing.  Got in touch with Ontrac, and they said, “yeah we delivered it.  If you didn’t get it talk to your seller.”  We do have a problem with package theft in my area, but I have the feeling that Ontrack never even delivered it.  I happened to use PayPal to pay for the purchase, so I had some buyer protection with them.  Other than having to wait a couple of weeks, the refund process was pretty painless.

While waiting for through the refund process.  I found another seller for the shoes (for an additional $10, sigh.)  Again, shipping was slooow.  But, these shoes actually made it to me.

Initial impressions on the Arahis:

  • They’re super chunky. They look chunky in pictures, but in real life, they’re even more so.  Feel like I’m strapping on Frankenstein’s boots.
  • They’ve got lots of padding.   The first run or two, they take some getting used to because you hit the ground a lot differently.
  • They have an odd angle on the heel.  Don’t notice it when I’m running in them, but when walking have weird feeling that I’m gonna tip over backward.  Probably a feature for me in the long run, because I tend to drag my heels anyway.
  • Loads of room in the toe box.
  • A little light on the padding on the tongue.  I don’t tie my shoes super tight, but after the first few times out I had sore spot on top of my left foot.  Not sure if just me getting used to them or what, but seems to have cleared up.

Will follow up on them as I continue to beat them up.

Today On The Run #9 – Stupid Stuff You See Running

These days, I mostly run the same route each day; most of the time in the early morning, way before sun up.  Despite feeling like I’m half awake when running on the early shift, I’m so used to my route that I can probably tell you where every crack in the road is and when there’s a new set of donut marks at an intersection.

One morning, I was out running in some light rain.  An odd sparkle caught my eye in a gutter.  I wrote it off as a reflection from an oncoming car’s headlights and didn’t think any more about it.

The next day, and the same odd sparkle caught my eye, again.  Ok, its your mind playing tricks on you (or I’m having a geo-fenced stroke of some sort.)  The next day I was curious to see if was there again.  It was.  Ok, probably not a stroke, and pretty sure its a real world object.

The day after that, I happened to be running during daylight hours.  I slowed down a bit to survey the area.  What ever it was wasn’t bright enough to see in day light or discern from the normal gravel and assorted muck normally in gutters, especially without my glasses.  But, easy enough to pick out was a deflated purple balloon.

After some pondering, I guess it was some kind of LED used to light up a balloon.  Does that even exist?  Yep, they’re called LED party lights.  Mystery solved.

So, the new game was to see how long the light would remain, either until the battery eventually gives it up, or the units meets up with the weekly street sweeper.  It hung on for over 3 weeks. Then it was gone.  The gutter in the area looked cleaner than I remembered, so I imagine that the street sweeper was the culprit.

Guess I have to find something new for my OCD riddled brain to obsess about.