Monday, August 25, 2014

Running Journal 24

So I'm almost home from my first run in how long? Two weeks (checking my ever-present planner) is a long time if you're trying to train. And the alleged link between running and writing is becoming more and more untenable. My wishful thinking was that when I run I write, and when I write I run, but I've been falling off that wagon lately, so it just doesn't hold up.

Then while still a little high on the post-workout endorphins, I came across a timely article in the Sunday Times about a similar parallel involving the old formula for creativity - 90 percent perspiration and 10 percent inspiration - but emphasizing the need to take a break. Here is something I'm pretty good at.

Having just returned from a week's vacation in the northern Lower Peninsula of Michigan, revisiting some of my favorite haunts and indulging in some of my favorite passions, I know whereof I speak. Although I swam in a couple of pretty nice lakes, bicycled a few miles, and did a little taiji every day, I did not run, and I did not adhere to a strict discipline of any kind - physical, intellectual, journalistic, or financial. I pretty much played.

The weeks preceding our week Up North were the usual imbalance of work and play, and maybe that's a common consequence of planning a big vacation escape from the routine. Looking back, I went for a run on the last Sunday in July and another one the first Sunday in August. I even did the rare mid-week run (and swim) the following Wednesday, having released myself from the office early due to a lighter than normal publishing list. I ran (and swam) again that Friday, and again on Sunday. It was a very strange week in many ways, such as selling Zelda's car, having to get a new back window on Gven's car after some idiot vandal broke it, and using up lots of energy stressing about those things.

Or maybe I was drawing on the body's built-in gyroscope without even knowing that the workouts were keeping me balanced despite everything. If you could call it 'balanced'. We got through it more or less intact, and all I can say is, without knowing what was the cause and what was the effect, two and a half miles three times a week probably helped.

Then I went a week without running (but not without a rationalization) and today got back on the wagon. Still just managing between two and three miles out Park Street to the nature preserve and back, still starting out very slowly, finding a rhythm about halfway, and coming back stronger.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Running Journal 23

I didn't feel like it, but I did it anyway. Finally got around to running on Friday when my scheduled afternoon off got reduced to a couple of hours early quitting time, as I tried to extricate myself from things I didn't see coming. A conference call about a reformatted document while working from home, a mold remediation estimator poking around in the bathroom ceiling, first one thing then another. So I didn't get much else done around the house and yard, and pretty soon it's six o'clock.

When I put on my shoes and knee brace, I wasn't sure it was going to work out. I felt some pain in the left knee before and during the first quarter-mile, and then it miraculously went away. I still took it s low and easy for three laps around the pond at the Boyer Preserve and still had some gas in the tank on the way back down Park St., so even though it was less than three miles, it felt like a success, and I had time to go to the pool.

My rotator cuff rehab plan is to strengthen the external rotators and stretch the internal rotators, try to gain a little strength in the chest and back, and above all avoid the movements that aggravate the existing shoulder issues. It has become clear that backstroke and breaststroke are doing more harm than good, so I'm giving them up for the time being. I'm doing more stretching between laps and doing a lot more crawl stroke, so my crawl stroke is improving if nothing else.

The real weekend was just as compressed  as Friday, as I took the opportunity to give my daughter Zelda Golly's MLIS research paper a close reading, which for me means copyediting. Because I am more than a hired red pen on this project, I knew it would take some time, so I set aside Saturday and Sunday afternoons to do it right. Lo and behold, it took both afternoons, and it was well worth it. It's a really good paper - well conceived, well organized, well thought-out in comparing case study data from two libraries - I just smoothed out some of the rough edges. It was a pleasure to see the fine work our Zelda has produced.

The trade-off was less time to do yardwork, but I still was able to break away around six-ish on Saturday for a bike ride and a swim, and around six-ish on Sunday for a run and then a swim. The bike ride was about an hour out and back, followed by six or eight laps in the pool - all crawl. The run was about half an hour out and back, followed by a similar swim. For some reason I have stopped counting my laps in the pool now that I don't do every other length backstroke, but I still like the cross-training that ends up cooling off in the water before a nice dinner of salmon and endorphins.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Running Journal 22

Home from work earlier than usual on a Friday to forget, I contemplated running but fell asleep in the wicker chair and took a 20-minute nap. When I got up, I changed into shorts and got out the door at 6:18, right on time.

The pace found its own rhythm going out the alley to Park Street and out the three-quarters of a mile to the pond in Boyer nature preserve. With minimal effort and minimal walking, I circled the pond counting laps on my fingers and strides with my breathing - two steps inhale, four steps exhale - six times around. All the way back on Park Street was relatively pain-free (1/3 x 6) + (3/4 x 2) = 3.5 miles at 12-minute pace.

The pool was winding down and only a few family groups, including my friend Jeff doing his usual 30 laps and his two sons and their seven friends, were there by the time I arrived on my bike for eight laps and call it a day.

Off to a rough start on Saturday, Gven and I eventually settled  on a plan to go to Comfest around seven, in time for a drum circle scheduled for 8:30, but of course it rained on and off all day, so it was hard to tell if Goodale Park would be a massive mud-hole or not. So I hedged my bets and went for a bike ride (40 minutes) and a swim (20 minutes) and ate a piece of quiche. The rain persisted, so we went to a movie instead, and "The Grand Budapest Hotel" was funny and entertaining and full of surprises.

Having slept well, I got up Sunday morning in time to start a batch of bread and work out briefly before going to church and Java Central, where St. Teresa took the trouble to turn the table where I always sit  to the angle I like, and when I pronounced my approval we all got a good laugh. So the feng shui was just right, and Mike joined me  at "my" table bearing David Halberstam's high-brow book about baseball, which launched us into an extended discussion of the readability of authors from Dostoyevsky to Joyce to Faulker to Salmon Rushdie. Quoting Hawthorne, I maintain that part of the writer's job is to do the hard work of making it easier for the reader to get inside the narrative.

I had just enough energy to sit outside and read the New York Times and eat lunch, but not enough to weed the garden, which has come to resemble a rainforest. So I could only stake up the tomato plants and weed a small portion of the front bed by the street, which is perpetually out of control. It is sad to see things get so chaotic, but as time ticked away, I chose to let it go and opted for a short bike ride (30 minutes) and swim (20 minutes) before heading home. The gin and tonic, baked salmon and potatoes, and salad with avocado were well worth it. The birds sang lustily in the pine tree, the fireflies hovered over the groundcover. Life is short.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Running Journal 21

The World Cup is taking place in Brazil. Factions are moving toward civil war in Iraq. Ukraine is fragmenting into Greater Russia in the east and EUkraine in the west. And I'm not so self-absorbed that I can't discuss my precious workouts in the context of global events.

Speaking of my workouts, I seem to be stumbling into a new, not necessarily improved, summer routine. Because I teach on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday nights, and Wednesday is usually spent working late to meet a Thursday publishing deadline, any running, biking and swimming is limited to weekends. So in my weekly planner I pencil in [run/bike/swim] in the narrow space for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. On a good day, I'll do one or two out of three.

Let's be clear: there are no triathlons in my future, however, I enjoy the effects of cross-training on my legs and back, hips and shoulders. I always feel better after a workout, any workout, and when I come home after a run and a swim, for example, I'm ready for a nice supper and a drink to my health. Now that it's officially summer and therefore gin-and-tonic season, the warm weather and sweating make rehydrating especially satisfying. Sometimes I have two!

This weekend was not typical because I used a couple of vacation days on Friday and Monday to celebrate the summer solstice, and the long weekend gave me more time for yardwork, and there was a lot to do because of the abundant rain the preceding week. Workouts tend to be an end-of-day ritual anyway, so Friday I biked only, Saturday I swam only, and Sunday I biked and swam. Do you see a problem here?

Of course there's a problem here: there is no running in my running journal. It has morphed from a RUNNING journal into a running JOURNAL. It's a little like my Sunday morning ritual of stopping for coffee at Java Central on my way to church. Java Central with a muffin, a book and a notebook is becoming the prime reason to get up early on Sunday, and Church of the Methodist-Buddhist Master is in danger of becoming an afterthought.

I love a good dilemma, and both of these dilemmas are the right kind of problem to have. If some kind of workout - ANY kind of workout - gives me a reason to write, I'll take it. And if some kind of community can be found, if not in church then on the way to church, I can live with that.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Running Journal 20

I ran twice this week, because (a) I needed it, and (b) I had the opportunity. Neither run/jog/walk was outstanding in quality or quantity (12-minute miles x3), but they gave me an excuse to go to the pool and cool off.

Friday, I went out the door at 6:12 and made it to the Nature Preserve on East Park St. without incident. I chose to walk a short distance before starting the first of 5 laps, and I stuck to that pattern by walking a bit after each lap around the pond. The soft pea gravel trail and the pond itself are a pleasure for the senses and a lot more interesting than running on the street or the bike trail. Based on counting strides around a 400-meter track, I estimate a lap of the pond to be about a third of a mile. Using the same standard, it is two-thirds of a mile from my back door to the pond, so do the math. Five one-third-mile laps plus two-thirds out and two-thirds back makes three miles.

I am the Count, and I love to count. 

Saturday, I didn't.

Sunday, I went out the door at 6:10 with bread in the oven and dinner being prepared for the grill. I again made a bee-line for the Nature Preserve and adhered to roughly the same pattern - slow laps punctuated by short walks - and didn't push to go either faster or farther. Then I went for a swim at the nearly empty Jaycee Pool on Otterbein Street, and came home to a Chang Thai lager, a brot with mustard, and one of the best potato salads I've ever tasted. 

It was all so good I burned the bread and didn't care. 

I'm not going to get much stronger at this rate, but I'm not going to get much weaker either. I have taiji classes Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, so I get home and eat supper instead of running. Wednesday is usually a long workday before publishing on Thursday. Two or three good workouts on the weekend is all I'm going to get at this point, and I'll take it.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Running Journal 19

Conversation was more intense than usual at Church of Java this morning, probably a result of sharing a table with Mike, which Theresa and Kathy sat at the table by the windows. Consequently I didn't get much reading done until after the real, official church service at Church of the Master, where Todd will be present for another couple of weeks. The intermittent rain gave me an excuse to keep reading for a while before heading home to take care of a batch of rising bread dough.

I think the drizzle affected my mood, and since I couldn't weed the garden or mow the lawn, I made soup, took a nap, and swept the den. By the time the bread was in the oven, I was ready for a short run, but my calf muscles were not cooperating, so I stopped at about two mile and went for a swim. Not a great day.

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Running Journal 18

Friday, a short bike ride turned into a somewhat longer one. Instead of heading home from the Inniswood Gardens-Hoover Reservoir-Hoff Road Park loop to the east, I headed west and tacked on the County Line-Worthington Galena-Park St. loop. There was plenty of daylight left, and I had enough angst to work out, so why not?

Saturday started early with a short bike ride to the bank and post office, followed by loading and unloading about a ton of free firewood - yes, FREE FIREWOOD - from a house around the corner where they cut down an oak and a wild cherry. It was high time to plant tomatoes, so I still had to prepare the beds and move last year's compost, which took most of the afternoon. My reward was a swim and a gin and tonic.

Sunday was bittersweet, listening to the farewell discourse of Rev. Todd Anderson at Church of the Master in Old Methodistville.The hot afternoon was a good time to plant tomatoes in garden beds and basil in pots. I still had time for a three-mile run east on Park St. in Boyer Nature Preserve, followed by a quick swim.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Running Journal 17

This is catch-up time. After my last post, I missed a week that was complicated by a very busy start to a very busy month of May. A beer with a friend on Friday, a wedding and a trip to Kent on Saturday, a gallery reception and dinner out to celebrate Gven's success on Sunday. Hey, I might be a slacker when it comes to training, but I have an interesting life and good reasons for not consistently working out.

The following weekend was, if anything, busier, but I found time to run when I rarely do, on a Friday evening. After springing myself from the office early, I ran my usual four slow miles before dinner, then went out with my wife to a bar we normally wouldn't frequent to see our firstborn and his band, Magnets, play the opening set. It was the last stop on a midwest tour, and it happened to fall on the birthday of our secondborn, so we could hardly miss the opportunity. Saturday was the annual geranium-potting and window-boxing ritual, and the four of us went out to dinner at Betty's in the Short North. On Sunday we celebrated Mother's Day with an excellent dinner at home. But no time to run and no excuse.

The weekend after that, the whole Golly family got in the limo (black Ford Escape) for a long weekend drive, first to Asheville, NC, then to Clayton, GA, for Gven's sister's daughter's big country wedding. Zelda Golly was a bridesmaid, so we all got to attend the rehearsal dinner in addition to the outdoor wedding ceremony (in front of a waterfall) and reception (dinner, open bar, DJ, dancing, bonfire, the whole nine yards). So although there was taiji on the deck of our villa - the whole venue was designed to give the feeling of a village in the Italian Alps - the closest I got to running was a trek up and down some hiking trails, past a goat farm, and across the ridge to a beautiful little lake. Sunday was a long drive home. Monday was recovery day, which might have been better if I had run, but I didn't.

Which brings us to this weekend, the last and tamest of an eventful month. So I used Gven's book group meeting at our house as my motivation to get on the Schwinn and ride the then miles north to beautiful downtown Sunbury, home of the Big Walnut Golden Eagles, where, in search of a water fountain, happened upon an open gate to the high school track. So I ran a few laps, stretched my cramping calves, ran a few more laps, and got back on the bike to head home. To complete the cross-training trifecta, I made my first visit of the new season to the JC Pool in dear old Methodistville and swam a few laps.

To recap, I'm way off-track from the precedent-setting one run per week established on Christmas Day, but I might have stumbled upon a neat little run-bike-swim combination workout. Don't even think "triathlon" because the distances don't come close. But as we enter the unofficial summer season of outdoor activity, this could be an interesting weekend cross-training experiment.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Running Journal 16

I missed a week, and yes, it made a difference. I did not run last weekend, and caught a cold (or something with cold-like symptoms) late Wednesday, sniffled all day Thursday, felt better on Friday, and fully recovered on Saturday. 

As we know, correlation is not causation, so I don't know for sure that I was under the weather  because of missing a workout, but it's hard to ignore the link between an interruption of my normal workouts and my immune system's reaction. If it was a "cold" virus, it was a mild one and didn't last long. If it was an allergic reaction to some unknown airborne agent, apparently I should be on guard next April when things start bursting open in the botanical kingdom.

My way of fighting back was to skip a planned night of drinking with a friend and save my strength for the World Taiji and Qigong Day gathering in Goodale Park on Saturday morning. That initially looked like a very bad idea, as Saturday started out cool and rainy, but I dressed in layers and went anyway. Almost as soon as I got there, the sun came out and things started to look better as people drifted in and things got going. As in years past, each participant led a short taiji or qigong movement, we all practiced in a circle, and everybody made a contribution.

Just getting heated up a bit felt good. I did a little yard work. Gven Golly and I went for a short bike ride. She made guacamole, and I made turkey burgers - delicious! We put in a movie that was virtually unwatchable, and I went to sleep.

Sleep is good. Sleep is my friend.

The Sunday morning gang at Java Central greeted me after my absence last Sunday, and we had a spirited discussion of something or other. You had to be there, and I was. The regulars in the balcony at Church of the Master also missed me, but they accepted the excuse that I was visiting my parents and attended Easter services there. Rev. Todd Anderson was in rare form, and once again I appreciate having had the opportunity to attend his sermons. He will be a tough act to follow, and I hope his successor in Methodistville is half the teacher Todd is.

I started a batch of bread and a new book, Not Always So, by Shunryu Suzuki, edited by Edward Espe Brown (of Tasajara Bread Book fame), and it looks promising. I weeded some more of the back yard and part of the front yard.  When the bread went in the oven, I went out for a run, and because the high school track was locked shut, I rerouted up the bike trail and across town to the Otterbein University track, took a lap and headed home in time to take the bread out of the oven.

No news is good news. Four very slow miles, pain-free, adequate stretching before and after, India Pale Ale and Cheez-its. That is all.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Running Journal 15

This is a make-up post, since I didn't get around to writing last week, though I did get around to running. Therefore I will make it brief, although the weekend included complicated highs and lows culminating in a satisfying, slightly longer five-mile run/jog.

I had another optical appointment Friday afternoon, so I skipped out from work a little early and got fitted for new frames. Since there was daylight and good weather, I went for a decent bike ride and felt good. The weather on Saturday was even better, so Gven Golly, my earth mother wife, and I went out to a farm over near Hoover and brought back two loads of nice, ripe horse manure for the garden. Then I went to Clintonville to help Zelda and the Pattycakes move freezers, coolers, mixers and other equipment out of the bakery for the crew to put in a new floor the next day. A day full of hard work and fun.

The Java Central posse was in fine form on Sunday morning, but I was shocked to get the news that Rev. Todd Anderson has been re-assigned to a Methodist church in Hilliard, OH, and will be leaving Church of the Master next month. I am unsure what my next church-related move will be and skeptical whether his successor at Master can hold a candle to this rare and gifted teacher. So I muddled through the day, did a little yard work, and jogged over to the high school track in the waning daylight.

I kept it slow, as usual, and walked 100 meters every half mile or so, eventually losing count of my laps at around 16, so when I got home an hour later I figure it was about five miles at a 12-minute pace, give or take. Not too bad, and no pain to speak of.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Running Journal 14

One small step for Sven, a giant leap for Svenkind.

Still running only once a week, but now I'm actually running. Not just jogging, and not a heel-toe simulation of running that's more like a fast walk. If you have ever run, you know the difference. And if you have ever been a runner, you know the difference makes all the difference in the world.

For the record, people who know about these things says it takes seven years to become a runner. Many people run once in a while, and some run with regularity for a while, but it takes consistent workouts for years to rebuild the muscles, bones, joints, neurons, and cardio-vascular system into those of a runner - cell by aerobically fit cell.

So you don't become a runner by walking or jogging, although (cliche alert) you have to walk before you run, and you don't become a runner in 14 weeks. But if you're a former runner who didn't even know if he was capable of running, it's a small breakthrough to go from a slow but satisfying jog to a slow but distinctly different phenomenological experience of running.

I think the weather had something to do with it. It was so nice on Saturday that I went for a bike ride before dinner, and I'm convinced that cross-training is magic. The weather was even nicer today, and I went directly to the high school track instead of up the bike trail. Maybe that was the secret ingredient: warm weather and the cushioned surface of the track instead of snow and ice on the asphalt bike trail. It all adds up.

The high school soccer team was having an informal practice, but they didn't bother me and I didn't bother them. Staying in the outside lane, I let my legs call the tune, and after a slow warm-up lap, I walked 100 meters and felt refreshed. Another slow 100 meters and I began to stride out a little for the next 100 meters, slowed to a jog for 100, picked up the pace for 100, and then walked 100. 

This quasi-Fartlek workout felt great, so I settled into a comfortable pace alternating between a slow jog and a less-slow jog that I'm defining as a 'run'. Based on that idiosyncratic logic, I am now running. Ask me in seven years if I'm a runner yet. 

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Running Journal 13

One step forward, two steps back. And vice versa.

Start the weekend by seeing the eye doctor, then go for a bike ride. Pay some bills, eat some pasta. It's Friday.On Saturday, do your chores and get a haircut. Make a crock of bean and bacon soup. Watch basketball. It's the Amerikan way. Sunday starts with a batch of bread, a cup of coffee, and a surprising conversation with my posse at Java Central. Rutter's Requiem at Church of the Master, fixing the fence back at the shack, picking up sticks to stack in the back, and finally go for a run.

Remember Fartlek? It's a kind of workout where you start running slowly, gradually build up speed, and  then slow down just long enough to restore your energy and build up speed again, then repeating that cycle lap by lap. My knees and calves were giving me all kinds of mixed messages right from the start, so I let myself into the high school track and minded my own business while the lacrosse players finished their practice and the soccer players started theirs.

Quarter mile jog, 100-meter walk, quarter mile jog, 100-meter walk. Do that six times and feel great. Indulge in a long, slow stretch and a Guinness stout with broiled salmon, sweet potatoes and broccoli. It's not the distance or the speed that matters, it's just the right balance of short duration and low intensity that makes a good workout.