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January 24, 2007

Dog Days 2007

I’ll keep today’s random notes short, then get right to a post that’s entirely about training. You know … like a normal triathlon blog is supposed to do.

I’ve finally started watching The Wire. I keep getting positive recommendations about it, and I also decided that any show with a theme song by the Blind Boys of Alabama deserves an honest chance to win me over. After watching the first two episodes, a couple of thoughts come to mind:

1. Apparently, on BET, it’s permissible to say the S-word, both B-words, and the racially charged N-word; but the F-word and GD are still off-limits. It’s interesting to me, because I know the network must have had an executive discussion at some point to decide precisely where to draw the line.

I would love to have been a fly on the wall in that room, watching a bunch of old guys in suits review a list of words on a marker board, arguing the merits (or lack thereof) for each one. Right before they hashed out whether or not to pixellate bare breasts and bottoms in the strip club scenes (yes to the first, no to the second). Is there any chance that they filmed this meeting for the special edition DVD?

And secondly …

2. I’m soooooo glad I don’t live in inner-city Baltimore. My wife said it best: It’s disturbing to know that most of the drug-and-violence scenarios aren’t entirely fictional. So if you think your life is bad, just be thankful that you don’t live in a housing project.

Anyway … the show is interesting. My plan now is to keep updated with it just enough so that if I decide to bail on an increasingly troublesome Apprentice series (a whole separate post someday) in midseason, I’ll have something to fill that time commitment so I don’t have to take the drastic measure of actually finding something productive to do.

(Gosh, that intro was still longer than I intended. I think I need a 12-step program or something. Here’s the real post…)


Last Saturday was our running club’s annual Every Dog Has Its Day 10K, the all-downhill race that I wrote about in this post last year. I also wrote this Monterey Herald article explaining the origin of what has become a favorite tradition of local runners.

Some years, as many as 70 runners show up to set a 10K PR on the fast course. A subset of these runners meets in the dark before the race, and runs 7 miles out to the start line, using the race as a challenging finish to a high mileage training day.

A smaller, crazier group within that first subset meets when it’s even darker, to run almost 8 miles before joining the 7-mile pre-race runners, putting about 15 miles on their legs before the 10K. And in that smallest subset would be me.

This year’s run took place on a cold morning by local standards. (Speaking of which – we’re more than three weeks into January, and I haven’t complained once on this blog about how cold it’s been here lately. You have no idea what kind of restraint that has required.) It was 32 degrees when the earliest group started, and grew colder for the next two hours before the sun came up.

Geographically, when you travel further into Carmel Valley, temperatures become more extreme. As we ran the 7 miles into the valley toward the start line, the puddles on the road became more frozen, and the asphalt had many stretches of black ice that sent us skidding a few inches with each footfall. The air temperature had dipped to the mid-20s by the time we reached the start area.

(For any Harry Potter fans out there – it felt exactly like we were running closer and closer to a Dementor. The landscape grew more icy, my body felt increasingly frozen, and it seemed like my enjoyment of the run was being sucked out of my body. Needless to say, I wasn’t in a fantastic mood at the start of the race.)

We raced the 10K, and my primary objectives were to: 1) stay upright, and 2) maintain a strong pace, in that order. And in those regards, I was successful. Here are some photos, courtesy of fellow runner Kevin Smith:

Picture #1 - about 2 miles into the race. I’m still wearing the jacket, hat, and second layer of pants that were intended as warm-up gear I would shed for the race. But standing around waiting for the start, I just couldn’t bear the thought of taking any clothes off. This California boy makes no excuses for being a cold-weather wimp.

Notice also that I’m running on the thin line of dirt in the middle of the lane, looking for a bit of traction. That dirt line wasn’t nearly long enough – although I never fell down, my feet slipped out from under me enough times to give me a severe case of the yips.

Picture #2 – what appears to be me stopping my watch a few steps before the finish line. I know what it looks like, but, um … on second thought, maybe I shouldn’t have included this picture.

Picture #3 – this is me after the race, wondering what was going to happen first – whether I would pass out from overexertion, or freeze in place and catch hypothermia because my legs were hurting too much to move anymore. Somehow, neither of those things happened, so I eventually pulled myself upright, and even managed to shuffle a cool-down run that brought my total mileage for the day to 22.

My time for the race was 37:12, with splits for each mile just under 6 minutes. That time is a few seconds faster than I ran last year - even when factoring out my “stopping the watch early” trick at the finish line. One year ago I ran similar pre-race mileage and had warmer conditions during the race. And considering the fact that I haven’t done as much overall mileage this year compared to last year (when I was training for the Napa Marathon), I was fairly satisfied with the way the morning turned out.

Note that I said satisfied, not happy. I wasn’t truly happy until I returned home, stepped into a hot shower, and felt the blood circulating to my face and fingers again. I mean … running is a nice thing to do and all, but sometimes, all I really want is to be warm and comfortable.

On that note - Is winter over yet? Because I really need to continue my training. But this cold-weather stuff we’ve had for the past month or so is getting pretty old.


Spokane Al 1/24/07, 1:22 PM  

Wow - 15 miles and then a 37 minute 10K. With that effort I think you are allowed to shut off your watch anytime you want.

Good job and great post.

olga 1/24/07, 1:58 PM  

THAT for 10k? Hmm...but then again, we can't all be compared to one another:) Awesome! Hope you think so too.
Have you started watching American Idol yet?

Backofpack 1/24/07, 2:33 PM  

Um, hello? Anybody there? Cuz I thought I was reading a running blog...then the author refers to it as a tri-blog. I remember the days when it was a sweet little running blog, full of running lore and nonsense...

I was overjoyed to find a running post, but worry that the next two will be swim & bike - after all, if it's a tri-blog I suppose you've got to post about those once in a while. Thank goodness the nonsense part is still in play...

Taryn 1/24/07, 3:02 PM  

Love picture #2... you were probably so happy to finish that and go get warm!

teacherwoman 1/25/07, 6:09 AM  

Nice job on the 10K, speed demon! Sounds like it was quite the run!

P.S. LOVE picture #2....hmm!

Anne 1/25/07, 5:22 PM  

For someone who doesn't suffer the cold well, you sure did for this race. Dang. And I can't wait to read about your impressions on The Apprentice.

Katie 1/26/07, 5:42 AM  

Nice job on the 10k.

You can complain about the cold weather anytime. Yes, racing in all that gear and never getting warm sucks!

P.S. I love your blog and the Harry Potter reference!

Robin 1/26/07, 10:45 AM  

I'm cold just reading your blog today! Congrats on your fast finish (even allowing for those few watch-pressing seconds) and all those freezing miles!

Annette 1/26/07, 5:32 PM  

A downhill run. . . how nice for your time! :) Good for you for getting out there early and pounding out the extra miles - in the cold. I can't say that I've ever done a pre-race run. Call me a wimp! :)

Joe 1/29/07, 10:35 AM  

I can't imagine running downhill for 10K. I think my quads would give out.

robtherunner 1/29/07, 8:38 PM  

You got mad runnin skills!

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