Monday, February 27, 2006

Booked Up

I'm deep into the outline for my young adult horror novel. The time line idea faded as more details suggested themselves. So I'm moving ahead, letting new concepts and characters steer me toward whatever ending they like. Then I'll go back and tidy things; hone the chapters in my writing workshop; get feedback from various trusted folk.

Afterwards, notes get added and I write the first four chapters. Finally, my agent takes chapters and outline around New York, seeking an editor who believes in the story. And I dream of listening to spooky soundtracks ( Hans Zimmer's "The Ring") and writing a horror book.

A fine goodly dream and a path I intend to follow.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Best in Awhile

Ran six miles with the team today. I would run one minute, then walk two. Felt pretty good; my knee was heavily wrapped; longest I've done since my injury at Pacific Shoreline three weeks ago.

I think Aqua Running helps.

T'ai Chi makes a return to my exercise rotation. Great for tendons.

Between swimming, cardio machines, strengh training, and T'ai Chi, I have to remember to eventually wedge in a bit more plain, old, ordinary running.

They say it's a big plus for marathon training.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

TNT Strength Training

A new TNT training wrinkle this season: strength training. Not weights, but exercises that build up the core — torso — and other parts. One pass through the six different stations feels deceptively easy. Two passes and I want to nap. The training is held in a foothill sport's facility catering to professional athletes. Clients also include teens with well-off parents.

Health Club #3 broke the portly string. The place was brightly lit and filled with busy slim people. I got the impression they went to starter health clubs just to get in shape to join this one. Plenty of cardio machines and Spin classes. However, parking was a big pain.

And so I'll pass.

Who wants to walk several blocks to exercise?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Health Club Shopping

Ran a little at practice last Saturday, perhaps a quarter mile. Some soreness. Longest I've run since the injury. Walked three miles yesterday. Felt fine. I think I need to add a health club to my cross-training. Today, I started shopping.

I selected five within a 10 - 15 minute drive from my home. At Club #1, I was met by an obese sales rep the size of a landing craft. Not exactly your health club poster boy, but competent enough in his chosen field. This club was a meat and potatoes operation with lots of weights and cardio machines; parking was so-so; great monthly rate. No pool. I signed up for an inexpensive 30-day trial while I check out the others.

Club #2 featured a very buff sales rep; fantastic parking, great location, but tiny cardio section. There was an outdoor pool and whirl pool. However the whirl pool was filled—and I mean this in the sense of Jell-o filling a bowl—by a great portly man. God bless him for belonging to a health club, but the sight of this guy rising out of the water cooled me out on Club #2.

A supersize leitmotif? I'll know more after seeing Club #3 tomorrow evening.

Monday, February 20, 2006

No Charms in the Tank

Orgins may differ, but all USMC apricot prohibitions are held by Army tankers. In addition to apricots, armor personal believe Charm's Candy — small hard candies found in field rations — will cause rain. They too are unwelcome aboard tanks. And not just tanks. The apricot/Charms rule pertains to Marine Corps amphibious tractors and LVTs as well as the Army's entire array of steely vehicles. Here's an AP article written just prior to the Iraq war that touches on the these touchy subjects.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Tank Superstitions

Spoke with a young Marine veteran last night. He told me about the mystical world of armored vehicles. As a former Marine, I was fascinated to learn that apricots are most unwelcome aboard Marine Corps tanks.

It seems they attract gremlins.

Back in World War II USMC tank maintenance outfits noted that every Sherman broken down with strange, unusual mechanical problems had C-ration apricots aboard. The only logical conclusion was that tank gremlins, lured by the aromatic scent of tinned apricots, had monkey wrenched the machinery. And so a tradition was born and, ever since, apricots have been abhorred by USMC tankers.The young Marine who told me this was a grunt. But his father, a two-star Marine general, had spent most of his career in tanks. And a good portion of that career was spent gobbling down apricots from the turret. As far as I know, the general's tanks never suffered undue mechanical troubles. However, there were many men who would not ride with the general.

He was seen as reckless.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Pool or If They Could Sea Me Now

Did I swallow this much water today? No, but it sure felt like it. Swim coach Georgia had me doing a mixed side/crawl stroke prior to teaching the side stroke. But I'm not that adept at kicking on my side. Coupled with a tendency to tighten up, I'm finding myself sinking and ingesting a fair amount of chlorinated water. Georgia realized that a bobbing corpse is a poor advertisement for swim lessons, so she had me use fins. Wow! The express lane of swimming! I zipped across the pool gulping less water in the process.

Aqua ran afterwards but my knee could only take about 15 minutes.

Slow, slow recovery.

But all this water had made me a much cleaner person.

I revel in that.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Post-Injury Swim Lesson

Worked out with my swim coach, Georgia. We trained at a small pool in Pasadena. I learned that I have strength and ease in the water. In fact, I could be a crackerjack swimmer save for my inability to breath without swallowing water. This isn't a problem in, say, mountaineering, but turns out to be a crippling drawback in the swimming community.

Among other drills, Georgia had me do "rockets" where I exhale jumping up from the bottom of the pool, blowing out my last breath as I break the surface in order not to swallow water. Overall, practice turned out to be a serious cardio workout.

Afterwards I did some aqua jogging. Wearing a flotation belt, you run in the deep end, concentrating on form. After about fifteen minutes, my right knee ached a bit. I called it a session, drove home and iced it.

My goal in swimming is to do lots of laps and not drown.

And not have my trunks fall off.

In time, I'm hoping new goals will suggest themselves.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

On Being Injured

Being injured makes me angry. Watching teammates run while I guard their sweatshirts hurts more than my damaged tendon.

I went to the chiropracter this week. I would've been better off handing the money to one of my coaches. All I got was R.I.C.E advice: Rest, ice, compress, and elevate.

On Monday, I meet with a swimming coach. I need to brush up on basic strokes. Swimming laps and aqua running will be my primary exercises while I mend.

If it were possible, I would trade that big, fat Pacific Shoreline finishers medal for a leisurely four-mile run.

But such is the way of things.

Better now than in May.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

In Passing

Both our coaches named Katie set personal half-marathon records on Sunday. Because of horribly snarled traffic, I started the race late. I was outbound at mile 2 or so when they zipped past on their way to the finish line. We said 'hi' and 'bye.' They looked strong. They finished the 13.1 miles together in 1 hour and 37 minutes. That averages out to 7 minute 26 second miles.

Also, two of my Hawaii teammates ran a 10K that day in Redondo Beach. Ernesto bested his 10K time from last year while Nick cruised the 6.2 miles in "54 minutes and change," cracking 9 minutes a mile.

And so good things occurred on a disappointing day.

But I did get the big surfboard finishers medal.

And free ice packs.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Go Team!

Injured my leg yesterday at the Pacific Shoreline Half-Marathon. I'm at mile six, cruising along at pace, when the very tendon I praised in earlier posts for healing so well turned on me. Sharp inflammation. I slow. More pain. I walk. I walk for two miles. More pain. I walk slowly. Young and old — running and walking — pass me.

By mile nine I'm limping. If there were a First Aid tent in sight, I think I would've quit. I've fallen so far back, I'm surrounded by marathoners. (They're on mile 16.) I walk as far to the slow side of the course as I can. Still, some runners speed past and cut sharply back in front of me — like drivers zipping around slower motorists out of spite. Their actions stand in contrast to other marathoners who cheer me on as they pass.

My sweat dries and I start to chill. Now I'm cold and hobbling. The sun is out, but still misty behind the clouds. At mile 12 I spot the Huntington Beach Pier and speed limp. I finally cross the finish line in 3 hours and 23 minutes. (That would be a great marathon time.)

I head for the First Aid tent. Grabbing an ice pack, I sit on the curb and numb my tendon and knee. A few members from my Team in Training chapter stop by. They ask if I can make it to the parking lot shuttle. I can and do. Eventually, I arrive home to ice and the Super Bowl and an assignment that had to be turned in Sunday night.

During the run — and subsequent long walk — I was glad to be wearing my purple TNT jersey. There were lots of "Go Team!" from runners and spectators. I had the sense of never feeling alone. I was indeed part of a team. That's something I'll always remember about the Pacific Shoreline Half-Marathon.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Tendon to Business

Big farewell dinner for the Winter Team last night. Many members will be back for the monthly alumni runs and several intend to race San Diego on their own. Still, it was the last official time we'll gather as a team.

Speaking of racing, I ran my 3 mile time trial on Wednesday afternoon. I had the Rose Bowl practically to myself. My time was 27.53. But that night I felt a pain in one of the big tendons running down my right calf. I iced but next morning there was swelling around the knee. I iced again and elevated the leg, but ended up dashing about on errands more than I cared to. Today the leg is much better; swelling is gone. But I need to ice it over the next two days. If I still feel any tenderness on Sunday, I won't run. I'll just show up and support the Katies. (Both our summer coaches are named Kate and both are running Sunday to set personal records in the half-marathon.)

I really want to run the half marathon, even though it will just be to practice pacing.

Pacific Shoreline has a cool surfboard finishers' medal.