AVR Week In Review – 1/22/12

This has been one of those weeks, where Karma bit me square in the butt, when it came to my blog.

I wrote a post asking Bloggers if they had really looked at their blog lately and when I looked at my own, I had some of the same problems that I had written about, after recently changing it.

So I have been working on getting my blog’s theme up to snuff. I am not happy with how it turned out, but there is just so much you can do with a Blogger theme and will be looking for a theme that meets my needs better than what I have now.

We also lost internet for a day during the week and you don’t realize how much you have come to depend upon reliable internet access at home, until you don’t have it. As long as we can keep the internet up and running it will be a better week, especially since the ISP has scheduled an appointment to check over all the lines and equipment. This seems to have become a recurrent problem this month and we just want it resolved.

Running This Week

Three things directly related to running this week:

  • Ran in the Twitter Road Race 5K
  • Ran over 25.0 miles this week!
  • Submitted my application for membership in the Central Maine Striders running club.

I had fun doing the Twitter Road Race and then reading the #TwitterRoadRace hashtag about the runners and their experiences that day. I probably wouldn’t have gone out and run as far as I did if I didn’t have the motivation of it being an online challenge.

Going over 20 miles every week since November 20th without hurting myself and having 2 days off this week is huge. It shows a consistency in my running that I haven’t had in so long :-).

Deciding to send in my application to join a running club is something that I have thought about for a long time, but just never did. After the road race last week, we decided to actually go ahead and do it. I am a little bit excited about the possibilities that joining might give and am looking forward to seeing how it goes.

Racing Schedule

With everything going on we didn’t get a chance to sit down and figure out a racing schedule for the year that won’t break the bank (races are so darned expensive) and fit into our calendar. I plan to do this sometime between now and the end of the month.

Ryan of the Sub5 Running Club up in Bangor has some ideas on putting together a list of the local area races, so I want to wait to see  what he comes up with, but there are some that really interest me.  Sugarloaf 15K, Rail Trail Half Marathon and few others.  But I want to see how my training goes a bit more before I commit to those longer distances.

Long Term Goal

I know that my long-term goal is to run the 2013 Marine Corps Marathon. I finished the 1983 Marathon and to run Marine Corps again 30 years later would be very cool. So this is one of the major goals that I have in mind for my running and it would be even more fantastic if I could qualify for Boston that same day. Therefore, I am doing a 2 year work-up to the Marathon distance, just to see if my knee will hold up.

This week in a word: Patience
Weight
I have been bouncing between 167-169 all week. I have been on another plateau for a couple of weeks, but I am comfortable with the progress being made and still am going in the right direction. As the weather starts to get warmer, the weight will come off easier.
Injuries
Everything is feeling pretty good. The knee is not bothering and my lower back is much better. As I have increased my mileage, my usual Right Hip Flexor discomfort is starting to bother a little.  I have got to start doing more self-massage, exercises and preventative maintenance.
Shoes
I am over 200 miles on my Saucony Peregrines and they continue to really impress me. I am not on a rotation schedule and run in them for all my running right now. They have done everything that I have asked of them and I remain very impressed.

I put the Goat Head Sole Spikes in my left shoe and sheet metal screws in my right shoe of my Saucony Pro Grid Propel Plus to do a wear test between the two.  I ran in them during the Twitter Road Race and found that they don’t bother my gait at all, but they are not the cure-all for running on ice. You still have to slow down when on ice.

Blog Posts
Below are the posts from last week:

  1. Nerves of Steel or Pre-Race Jitters
  2. Easy 5.0 MIles – Janathon Day 16 – 1/16/12
  3. Karma and My Blog’s Theme Review
  4. I Can Run Faster Than I Thought – Janathon #17
  5. Running to Run Isn’t Enough Anymore
  6. Brain Training For Runners – Book Review
  7. Winter Running Pictures & Janathon Day 20
  8. My Twitter Road Race 5K Results & Pictures
  9. Goat Head SoleSpikes Review 2 of 3
  10. Life is Funny Sometimes
Top Ten
Here are my top ten posts for the past week based on pageviews:
  1. Brain Training For Runners – Book Review
  2. Running to Run Isn’t Enough Anymore
  3. Karma and My Blog’s Theme Review
  4. My Twitter Road Race 5K Results & Pictures
  5. Goat Head SoleSpikes Review 2 of 3
  6. Nerves of Steel or Pre-Race Jitters
  7. Goat Head Sole Spikes Review
  8. Runners Have You Really Looked At Your Blog Lately…
  9. I Can Run Faster Than I Thought – Janathon #17
  10. Winter Running Pictures & Janathon Day 20

My Favorite post from last week was:

My Twitter Road Race 5K Results & Pictures it documents an online event organized on Twitter by @seedouglasrun and his blog http://www.dougcassaro.com

Are there any businesses or companies interested in sponsoring an old retired Coastie in his quest for this dream of running the Marine Corps Marathon 30 years after his last finish there, while I document my adventures and how your product helps me towards this goal.  Have to try 🙂

The reality is that

I sort of felt like that mouse we caught in our live trap when I released it. It jumped out of the trap door and landed on a branch and stayed there, looking around to see what was around it. Once it figured that out, it waited a little while to ensure that it was safe to get down. That is about where I am with my blog theme, I will keep the one I have, until I feel comfortable enough to move to a better one.  I just wish I had WordPress.com’s themes with Blogger’s flexibility & ability to have ads.

I don’t know why I go ahead and worry about ad income, when I haven’t hit Google’s threshold for disbursement – after 4 years. So maybe it is time to just bite the bullet move A Veteran Runnah over to WordPress.com and be done with it. First we will see if I can find a blog theme that works and fits what I want to project here.  No I am not moving to a self-hosted blog, been there and done that, very bad experience with it, so I am not interested in self-hosting.

Actually it has been a pretty great week. The issues that have occurred this week are really minor problems compared what other have and I really don’t let them get too me all that much, they are more aggravations than problems.

Thank You for reading posts from “A Veteran Runnah”.

Life is Funny Sometimes

It is funny how life works sometimes.

In my Running to Run Isn’t Enough Anymore post, I talked about how we sent in our application and membership fees to the Central Maine Striders last week.

Last night I had some extra time on my hands so I did a Google search of the club to learn a bit more about the running club I was applying to join.

Unfortunately, the Central Maine Striders do not seem to have a webpage currently. So I just bounced around the web looking at different search results and I came across one about Rick Krause.

In that article I found out that the founder of the Central Maine Striders was Rick Krause, that name rang a bell, but I didn’t place who it was until I read this in the article:

It was while living in Newport, where he taught physical education and coached cross country, that Krause founded the Central Maine Striders on Dec. 5, 1975.

Thinking Back to High School

Rick if my memory serves me right must have been the “runner” that Coach Smith introduced us to my senior year at Nokomis and became the assistant cross country coach that year. I don’t really remember all that much about him other than he was some “old guy” that ran with us once in a while during practices and kicked our butts.

Back then I was one of those slower, classic underachievers that didn’t really like distance running all that much, see my Running High School Cross Country 1971-1974 post. He focused more on helping the better runners, who were more interested in getting better, the group I wasn’t really a part of and I got injured that year and didn’t finish out the season.

About the only thing that I really remember about Rick besides him being fast, is that I think he had a pair of big Elvis sunglasses that he wore a lot back then. Honestly, I was too busy being a senior in high school to remember to much about some “old guy” assistant cross country coach. 😉

How things change

Here I am applying to get into a Running Club – The Central Maine Striders that was founded by someone who was the assistant coach of my high school cross country team and were created the same year I graduated from high school. Now so many years later, I want to be a member of that club.

Seems kind of fitting to me – Maybe there is just a bit of Karma involved.

I wonder if Rick is still active in the club, I didn’t hear any mention of him while at the race or see his name on the results of the January Thaw Race that I ran in.  It will be interesting to find out more as I get involved with the Central Maine Striders.  If any members of the Central Maine Striders or other Maine Runners who read this blog know – It would be fun to hear how Rick is doing.

Do you have any stories like this where someone from your past, even though might not have known them very well, suddenly has an unexpected role in your life today, so many years later?

Funny how that happens sometimes

 

Goat Head SoleSpikes Review 2 of 3

Last week I got Sole Spikes from Goat Head Gear and did my initial review here. After a week or so, I like to do an interim post, just to show how things are going.

Since I installed the SoleSpikes last Sunday, I have worn those running shoes 2-3 times a day, walking the dog in some pretty nasty and icy conditions, but hadn’t used them for running until today.

Sole Spikes vs Sheet Metal Screws

During my initial review post, I stated that I was going to keep SoleSpikes in one shoe and put sheet metal screws on the other shoe to compare the two options, last Wednesday I was finally able to do that. TheWife said that she wanted me to do her old running shoes as well.  She was impressed by how I was able to go places that she couldn’t go nearly as easily in her YakTrax.

Here is what I found out while installing them.

Cost $3.99 at local hardware store

 

The SoleSpikes are just a bit shorter than the sheet metal screws and this proved to be important when TheWife put on her shoes. One of the front sheet metal screw had popped through and tried to tickle her toes, while the SoleSpike shoe didn’t. The difference in length is not much, but it is enough to make a big difference.

We now each have a set of shoes with one shoe having SoleSpikes and the other Sheet metal.

Wearing the Test Shoes

We had a bit of an ice storm this week, so it has been a great week to continue testing the SoleSpike versus sheet metal screw setup. Here are some pictures of the testing grounds we have been walking on to see how the SoleSpikes/sheet metal screws do.

There has been a lot of ice/snow mix and then snow on top of the ice. Both the SoleSpike and sheet metal screws have made a positive difference as far as the ability to move around on ice and snow. I do notice that my sheet metal screw leg is more tired after walking – they do tend to slip a little more. The SoleSpikes have a 4 prong tip and the sheet metal screws are have the screwdriver slot down the middle, which I believe helps the SoleSpike bite into the ice a little bit better.
I ran in the spike/screw running shoes for the first time today and they did make a difference in being able to run or not in several places on the Rail Trail in Augusta. After yesterday’s fiasco run down back in shoes without the metal hardware on the bottom, I wanted to to try out my “ice” running shoes.

Be careful

 

Just because you have spikes/screws on the bottom of your shoes, doesn’t mean you can run at normal speeds – you can’t when you are on ice. This is especially true when you get into “hard” or “glare” ice you have to slow down and pay attention to what you are doing. The spikes or screws can not penetrate very far into the hard ice and you will slip if you are going too fast for the conditions.  I almost went on my butt a couple of times when that happened. I slowed down pretty quickly.
However, they did not interfere with my gait at all, even when running on bricks or tar (they were a lot noisier that’s all).
The sheet metal screws are already starting to shoe some signs of wear compared to the SoleSpike. It will be interesting to see how the wear patterns emerge at the end of the month, when I will do my final report on the SoleSpike versus sheet metal screws.

Some observations

 

that I have had while wearing the shoes:
  • Be careful of the shoes that you choose to put either SoleSpikes or Sheet Metal screws in to ensure that they do not come up through the bottom in an area where there is less sole.
  • Ensure if you are going to use your these shoes for running, after you add the SoleSpikes or sheet metal screws, that they don’t bother you when you retired them or that they are not completely worn out. Otherwise those problems that those shoes were creating for you while running in them will come back and may even be magnified, because you have the metal hardware in them and the conditions you are using them in are probably pretty nasty.
  • If you take the SoleSpikes or screws in and out of your shoes a few times, they will not stay as well.
  • Don’t walk on hardwood/laminate floors they scratch them pretty easily.
  • Remember to take off your metal equipped shoes before going into a store, they are noisy and slippery on tile.

The reality is that

so far both the SoleSpikes and sheet metal screws work well in the conditions that I have tested them. The SoleSpike right now has a definite inside track to be a better choice and performer overall, but I will have a better idea of how much better at the end of the month.
I know that these the SoleSpikes/Screws in my shoes has given me confidence go places that I never would have gone otherwise on our walks – we would have just turned around. So far I am very impressed and am glad that I have them.
FTC Disclaimer – I was provided this product free of charge to review it on my blog and received no other forms of compensation to do this review. My opinions regarding this product will be my honest observations, based upon my experience while I am using this product.

 

My Twitter Road Race 5K Results and Pictures

This morning was the great #Twitter Road Race – alias 5K run.  I signed up and thought it would be a pretty cool thing to do. Unfortunately, over the past week we have had freezing rain and snow, which made for interesting footing or more realistically slower going so I don’t end up on my butt 🙂

The temperature at 9:30 A.M. was 10F degrees, no wind to speak of and overcast skies (gonna snow a little bit again).  I planned on going 5.0 and just have the 5K as part of the run. I started at mile marker .25 and turned around at mile marker 2.75, which tells me that is 2.5 miles or a total of 5.0 on an out and back course.  The Endomondo App only gave me credit for doing 4.77 (boo, hiss).

So when I hit 3.1 miles on my iPhone Endomondo it was 31:29, so my official time for the Twitter Road Race 5K was that.

Here are the pictures I took along the way.

Turn around

I took more pictures on the way back

My favorite restaurant in the area – Slates in Hallowell 🙂

 

Thankfully, I ran in my SoleSpike/Screw Shoes, this was the first time running in them, (I have walked a lot) they made a difference, so that I wasn’t slipping and sliding all over the place, but when I hit hard ice, I almost landed on my butt a couple of times.  I was able to go faster than otherwise, but still not that fast.

I wouldn’t have gon as fast as I did, if I didn’t feel the little added push of knowing that my times were going to be published for other finishers to see. No 31:29 for 5K isn’t a great time, but for the conditions I am happy with it.

This was also my new 5K PR, so I will have something to crush, when I find a 5K to run later :-).

Thank you Doug and everyone else who helped to organize the race, it was fun and I am having fun watching the Twitter hashtag go by with all the runner excuses ;-).

Keep smiling and good things will happen! 🙂

Winter Running Pictures – Janathon Day 20

This is a three day update for continuing my #Janathon streak of at least 1/2 hour workout to 20 days. With all the problems that I had been having with my Internet Service Provider, these log entries seemed to take a back seat to everything else that I wanted to get done.

Wednesday – was a very slow 3.2 mile recovery run that I finished in 29:02. After Tuesday’s faster for me run, my legs need the easy workout, so I purposely kept it very slow.
Thursday – Rest Day, but I walked Bennie a total of 3.3 miles, so the streak is still alive.

Friday – We got 6″ of snow, so I had to walk behind the snow blower for 1 1/2 hours to clean the driveway and do some shoveling to cleanup the rest. That usually takes a lot out of me, but I felt pretty good afterwards.  However, I was planning a long run today, so I didn’t just go and run as soon as I finished – don’t have that much piss and vinegar left in the old bod.

At 2:00 I decided to go for my 6.0 mile run. I could either do laps or take a chance on going down back. I have been doing laps and had had enough of that crap, so I went down back. Big mistake – 6 inches of fluffy white powder on top of ice is not a good thing.

This is an out and back course so I had to run through this crap twice…I am an idiot, but I survived. Once I got over to the Quaker Rd, it was pretty good running, except where the road was starting to re-freeze again – you just had to really pay attention to where and how you ran.  I also didn’t notice how much the wind was blowing until I got to the cornfields, it sure was blowing the, which brought the temps down pretty good.

This wasn’t one of my fastest times or longest runs, but it was one of my toughest runs in a long, long time.

Any run is a good run, but I will admit I was glad when I got to the top of that last hill.  However, I did notice that when  got back on good road, I ran much more gently than before. Running on snow covered ice teaches you how to plant your foot to not slip and slide as much.

Today’s Run

Quality of Run – Slow and tough
Time: 2:00 P.M.
Temp:  24F
Weather: Sunshine after the snow storm.

Brain Training For Runners – Book Review

Cover of
I just finished “Brain Training for Runners” written by Matt Fitzgerald, which was published in 2007.  The big push when I was leaving education last year was “Brain Training/Learning/Teaching” and I had some initial trainings in it, so I was interested in how this book incorporated brain training into running.
When I was thumbing through the book I turned to this quote and this is what made my decision to buy the book:

“According to the brain-centered model of exercise performance, a runner achieves his race goal when his brain calculates that achieving the race goal is possible without catastrophic self-harm.”

For some reason after reading that statement and the rest of the paragraph on page 57, I wanted to learn more about what Fitzgerald had to say. It piqued my curiosity.

Lots of Similarities

Something that struck me is that Fitzgerald’s view of a proper running form is very similar to the other books and articles that I have read recently and it also seems that he was on the leading edge of the minimalist/natural running movement that is much more mainstream today than it was back in 2007.

All the books that I have read recently seem to promote the same basic idea of what is good running form, injury prevention, nutrition and some other similar messages, but differ in how they get you to get there or the terminology being used.

Either there is a big bandwagon effect going on here or the running gurus are starting to agree that certain things are part of good running, because I am reading an awful lot about the following lately:

  • homo sapiens were designed to run
  • we get injured when we don’t run naturally
  • run more often, but run naturally (head erect, standing tall, compact arm swing, bending at the ankles, midfoot strike, etc.)
  • listen to your body/don’t run when injured
  • use minimalist type footwear
  • don’t beat your body to a pulp – have hard/easy days and rest days
  • eat right for you
  • do some crosstraining
  • if you race, it will hurt
I am sure there is more, but these seem to be the basics of how to run better, when you distill down all the information that is being put out lately.

A bit tedious

Getting back to “Brain Training for Runners”, I found the first three chapters tedious. I understand the need to set the ground work, so that the reader understands the “why” more later in the book when Fitzgerald is discussing “how to”.  However, getting through those first chapters was tough.
Once I got through chapter 3, I enjoyed the book a lot more. Chapters 4-10 gave me concrete ideas to follow and was written so that I understood, without my having to go back and re-read what he was trying to tell me several times, to figure it out.

Racing is Painful

In chapter 8 on “Mastering the Experience, he didn’t gloss over – that long distance racing at max effort is uncomfortable and can be painful. He tells it like it is, as you get fatigued, you start to hurt during a race and how well you do is often directly related to the amount of pain/discomfort you can deal with.
I appreciated his story about his inability to deal with the pain that accompanies racing when he was younger – been there done that. This is probably the real or at least part of the reason that I gave up racing for such a long time. I didn’t want to deal the with pain part of running races – because I knew if I was going to run a race and give it my best shot – it was gonna hurt and I don’t like to be in pain, when I don’t have to be.
This quote about accepting the pain made me stop and think about it for a few minutes:

“The meaning of “accepting pain” is quite literal. When it comes, you don’t wish it away, but instead welcome it as an indication that your are working as hard as you should be.”

In the past I never accepted the pain, I believed that it was something that was unwelcome, meant that I had gotten to the point where I would might hurt myself if I went any further and always backed away from the pain. I certainly have never “embraced the pain” in my career as a runner.
I guess that is the difference between a competitive runner and a recreational racer, their ability to “embrace the pain”.
A lot of what Fitzgerald wrote about in “Brain Training for Runners” probably applies to competitive runners or runners who want to take their training to the next level and become more competitive.  While the average runnah, could gain a lot from reading this book, I don’t really believe that it is geared towards a recreational runnah or racer.  I tend to believe that “Brain Training for Runners” is for those runners who want to take their running beyond running to run.

Part 2

The book also looks pretty thick at 562 pages, however part 1 of the book is only 208 pages, the remaining 300 plus pages in part 2 are different training plans that Fitzgerald has developed. It is actually a fairly quick read.
Part 2 of the book are training plans for various distances from 5K to Marathon. I am not a big fan of formal running programs in a book or online (personalized coaching is a different beast).
They might work great for some people, but for me I get too stressed if I don’t do what is planned. Even though Fitzgerald strongly advocates listening to your body and changing a workout when needed, knowing myself and my “let it be written, so it will be done” mentality…let’s just say I probably won’t use his training plans, exactly as he has written them.
I will however, take some of the his ideas and incorporate them into my running.
However, if for some reason I decided to become competitive again, this will be one of the books that I will look at while I am designing my training plan.

The reality is that

Books like this tend to push me towards the competitor side while I am reading them, but my history tells me that recreational racer better describes the kind of running I enjoy more and will probably do.
I found the book very insightful and fairly easy to read, once I got through chapter 3. “Brain Training for Runners” is a book I would recommend it to more experienced/intermediate runners who are thinking about taking their running to the “next” level.
I would give “Brain Training for Runners” a 6 on the 10 scale and will keep it in my library for future reference purposes.

Running to Run Isn’t Enough Anymore

Photo by David Colby Young

I recently ran in my first road race in a long time and I learned a lot.

Since this was my first race in forever (September 2007), I didn’t know anyone there and mostly stood off to the side, watched and listened to what was going on around me. Yes I did talk with a few people and introduce myself to a few of the other runners, including fellow bloggers that were there, but I mainly watched and listened.

What did I learn?

First

The easy camaraderie that existed between many of the runners who were there. It was very evident that they had known and competed against each other for several years. The smiles and greetings were genuine, you could tell that they were glad to see one another.

It was fun to watch and listen to the banter between the runners and how comfortable they were with one another. How they talked about their current injuries, gear they were using, how their training was going, how life was treating them, how slow they were going to go that day and all those other things that runners talk about when they haven’t seen each other in a while. Then after the race, the gory details of how they did, the race conditions and the other general complaints or discussions about what race they were going to do next.

Second

How much I missed the social aspect of running. Most the last 25 years or so, I have simply run to run. I was what many call a recreational runner. I didn’t run all that much with other people unless there was someone at work to run with or with TheWife.

The loneliness of a long distance runner can be real. For the most part that is how many runners run – alone.

Personally, I didn’t make the time to participate in the social side of running for so many years that I had forgotten what it was like to be around other runners, when they are not running, until I started following the Twitter Running/Fitness hashtags and people last November. I had forgotten how supportive the running community is and important it is to a runner to have that support network that other runners can provide.

I know that I enjoyed meeting the people I met at the race people like Jen (Running With The Girls), Carrie (Maine Mom on the Run) and David (Maine Running Photos) who are fellow bloggers.  They gave me more than a couple of hints/ideas and were so supportive of my return to racing. Members of the Central Maine Striders who made me feel both welcome and comfortable.

But mostly I just enjoyed being around other runners. I didn’t realize how much I missed that bond that exists between people who run together – even if it is at different speeds.

Third

Unfortunately, although running seems to be pretty popular in the Waterville-Augusta area, there is no central place where runners get together, to talk, gab, socialize or plan “stuff” either online or a place to go to.  There are no local running stores in the area, and these are usually the natural place for runner to gather.

Organized running in Central Maine seems to be at a very low point, even though it seems in Bangor, along the Coast, and Southern Maine, there are very active running communities.

However, it did surprise me of the low levels of active participants in organized running in my local area, while I was talking to people at the race. There just seems to be too many saying “not me”, “not now” or “we have tried and are tired”.

Perhaps too many of local runners view their running the same way that I did for so many years. They don’t make time for the social side of running and just run. Then they go about their busy lives without knowing or thinking about what they are missing if they got to know other runners.

I admit that I did this for a long time.

No Local Running Groups

This was one of the things that I really wanted to find, while I was at this race. A group of local runners who get together once a week or so to go for a run either on a week night (I know it gets dark early up here) or on a Saturday/Sunday morning when there isn’t a race. Runners to push me a little more than I usually will myself or vice versa and also give me a chance to meet new people in the area.

When I asked different members of the Central Maine Striders and other runners, if they knew of any weekly running groups for people to get together and run. I heard about how there was always something 10-15 years ago, but no one knew of any in the area now. I learned while walking out that there was a small one, but they go a lot further and faster than I do right now.

I was a little disappointed that there are not any running groups in the local area that they knew of that had varying levels of ability and distances.

If anyone living in the Waterville-Augusta or in the Central Maine area, knows of a local running group that gets together to run, I would love to learn more about the group!

The reality is that

That we sent in our application to join the Central Maine Striders. I have never been big on joining clubs, but running is different for me, I have finally realized that I have to reach out to others instead of staying inside of my shell, saying that it is enough to just run.

For me it is no longer enough to just run, I have learned through my participation online that I want, no need more than what the loneliness of a long distance runner gave/gives me. I want to enjoy the social side of running also.

This means going to races, finding new people to run with, be willing to put myself out there and open to meeting new people, hell even trying new things once in a while if the opportunity presents itself (Tough Mudder – anyone).

I am not a big organizer and don’t really like that role. I am better at the behind the scenes work and will bust my butt to help out, when something needs to be done.

So here I go outside of my comfort zone.

First Step

Here is my first step – if I can’t find a local running group I plan to start my own.

To anyone who reads this blog and lives in the Augusta-Waterville are, let’s try to create a running group in one town or the other – it doesn’t matter to me, I live in the middle in Sidney.
What does matter is that there are no local races for a while, it would be great to meet up on a Saturday or Sunday morning someplace, go for a run (you faster runners – can leave us behind), get to know each other a little bit and if the mood strikes any of us – go out for a quick bite to eat where we can brag or complain about how we did that morning.

Let me know if you are interested, maybe we can plan this a little more and start our own running group – who knows where it will lead us. If I don’t hear from anyone, on Saturday mornings between 9:15 and 9:30 A.M., I will be in the parking lot for the Downtown trail head for the Augusta Rail Trail and plan to do a few miles and then once the weather gets better either at the UMA trails or the new Bond Brook Trail system. Anyone want to join me?

I will be wearing my green turtle running stuff and flo green hat that are in the picture at the start of this post, so I won’t be hard to see. I will take off when my watch says 9:30 hopefully, someone will decide to be there to join me. (Update – no one showed)

  • How about you, do you enjoy running with others once in a while?
  • Are you a part of a regular running group?
  • Do you go to races more for the social aspect than the competition?
  • Is it enough to just run to run all the time?
  • Have you ever attempted to start a running group – what happened?

I Can Run Faster Than I Thought – Janathon #17

Nike Air Flo

Today’s running bloglog entry. This post is part of my daily public running log and may not be of general interest. Read on if you like, sometimes there are some interesting observations about running, that come out in these logs.

I wore my faster shoes and clothes for the speed work, I  planned to do, fartlek training (sub 8:00 minute pushes) that I need to start doing to get a little faster. I started out pretty slow and as I warmed up, I started to run faster than usual, it just felt easy today.

When I started my first fartlek, it was the best I had felt in a long time, but when I came to my slow down point, I still felt really strong, so I kept going.

I kept going until the end of the run. Even before I finished I knew that I had gone faster today than I have in several years, not just this year.

The best part was that I didn’t feel like I really pushed all that hard or had a max effort. I know that I had plenty left in the tank at the end. So instead of a Fartlek workout, I did a fast tempo run at 80-85% effort.

The weather and footing were both the best they have been in a while upper 30’s with little wind. The roads were wet, but not slippery – a nice day to run which helped a lot too.

I think some of the going faster came down to what I was wearing. This is stuff that I expect myself to run faster in. It was the shoes and clothing that I would wear to a race, where I plan to run hard and push myself to see how fast I can go. Sometimes just something as simple as wearing different clothing and shoes, gives you that little extra incentive to go faster.

So what did I run in?

1989 Nike Air Flo (pictured above) – I bought them back then to be my racing shoes and whenever I run in them, I just want to run fast. I don’t know if it is psychological, physical or a combination of both, but they are my “go fast” shoes. For clothes I had on my running tights and 3 layers of synthetics on top – again light and much different than my Green Turtle getup, that I usually slog run in.

The important part: 3.2 miles in 24:39 = 7:42 pace. No it is not earth shattering and I won’t break any speed records, but for a guy trying to get back in shape, who is still overweight according to BMI, IT GIVES ME HOPE, that I can and will go faster.

The biggest thing that slowed me down was frigging around with my iPhone at the start and end with the GPS app I was trying to use.  I probably lost 20-30 second messing around with that.

No this is not a brag me up blog post, because tomorrow, I go back to being the old green turtle :-), but it was nice to get excited about something.

Quality of Run: Best this year
Time of Run: 2:15 P.M.
Temp: 38F
Weather: Overcast, wet roads, 5 mph winds out of north

This Day #17 of Janathon.

Karma and My Blog’s Theme Review

It is surprising how Karma works sometimes, when I wrote my Runners Have You Really Looked at Your Blog Lately last Saturday night, I didn’t realize how much that I would be talking about myself.  After a couple of people asked me to take a look at their blog, I thought that I better take a look at my own first.

I had recently switched back to an old theme that I really, really liked because the one I was using had a fatal flaw that I couldn’t correct. Unfortunately, I had forgotten about the old theme’s fatal flaw – the page links did not work correctly.

This is the problem that I find with more than a few of the free Blogger templates that I have downloaded and tried – something usually doesn’t work or is missing and I don’t have the knowledge or ability to fix what is wrong. That is also why I seem to keep changing my blog themes so often. I know just enough to be dangerous.

So if you had been to my blog and attempted to go to any of the pages lately and couldn’t – I apologize.

Looking at My Own Blog

I might just as well put my money where my mouth is and review my own blog and reveal all of its warts – that I can see.

This is what is above the fold when my blog was first opened to do my review.
Overall First Impression
Boring is the first word that I use. Yes it has clean lines, but it is pretty evident that this is one of the Google themes that has been customized a little bit. It doesn’t have that “look” that sets it apart from other blogs. The theme is boxy and too square.

I will probably be looking for a better looking Blogger theme that works, unless Google gets going on their Dynamic views and gives us the ability to have sidebars with those themes. Like most everyone I don’t have a lot of extra money to spend on a premium theme, so I do have to find one for free that everything works correctly.

Header
The header does not line-up like it is supposed to. The pictures are blurry instead of being crisp, the tagline is not current – it should read “Keep smiling and good things can happen :-)”.  To be honest this header is hastily put together and looks it. The header needs to be changed to something cleaner, so until I can create a header that looks great, I will leave it plain gray, which looks better than a bad header.
Readability
Good – Black lettering on white background
Color Scheme
Gray, white, dark blue, they all seem to work together, but the theme seems a bit dark. Probably need to lighten it up.
Post area
  • Adsense ad at the top has gotten a few clicks, so I want to leave that there. I really like a magazine style landing/home page, but unfortunately this template you have to manually create the page breaks to achieve this effect.
  • I don’t like the social media widget on the landing page, it is great for the post page, but would like to option of whether to show or not on front page – in my opinion it makes the landing page look cluttered.
  • Reduce the number of posts that are visible to correspond to the sidebars, so there is not a lot of empty space as the reader scrolls down.
  • Move the Amazon widget to the bottom post area, to present a cleaner look at the bottom of the blog.
Left Sidebar
  • Recent Picture – Personally, I believe that readers want to see the blogger(s) and that having your picture or an image that depicts you helps. This to me, gives the readers a quick sense of who the blogger is and if they are who they say they are and walk the walk, not just talk about it. Yes pictures can be doctored or look nothing like the actual person, but after a while, if the writer is not who they say they are, it gets figured out.
  • a quick blurb to let readers know what to expect when reading AVR.
  • an Adsense widget
  • 3 buttons of things that I belong to or am doing (when the doing is over, the button will be retired to a page that I am creating for that purpose).
  • DailyMile training widget – which helps remind me to log my run there and also lets readers know that I am still running. Just another way to show you are walking the walk. Also the edges of the widget are outside of the sidebar.
  • Popular Posts for the past 30 days – give the readers an opportunity to look at some of my other more popular posts.
  • Blog Archive – if a reader wants to quickly go back and see other posts that I have written. I have room to expand this to the open position and might do that now.

Right Sidebar

  • Search this blog widget – some users might use this if they are searching for a particular subject on my blog, put it up where it can quickly be found,
  • Contact me by email: I use Kontactr because it is easy to use and free. I don’t like publishing my email on my site if I don’t have to, this cuts down on spam emails. There are other email services you can use.
  • Follow me widgets for the social media sites that I participate on – unfortunately these are separate widgets for following me via RSS, Email Google Friend Connect, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.  I would prefer to have an all in one widget that looks better than a bunch of separate widgets. This is on my todo list.
  • Adsense widget – I have 4 ads on my blog and haven’t tried to over do them.
  • Blogs I Follow – I think it is important to share those blogs that you enjoy reading with others, not all the “experts” agree with this, but my blog my choice.
  • Feedjit widget – I enjoy seeing where people are coming from and when they were here, just me being nosy.  I decided to not use the popular world maps widget, since it didn’t really tell me a whole lot that Feedjit doesn’t.

Bottom Widget bar

I have to clean this area up, it is a place where I dump widgets I am not sure of keeping or are not working correctly and I need to fix them for my blog or widgets that I just can’t think where they actually belong end up here.

That was a quick review of my blog theme. I have a lot of work todo!  I am not crazy about the theme, but everything works and that is important. I have to figure out if I can live with this theme, until the sidebar is available in Dynamic Views themes or do I just go out and look for a great theme for Blogger?  Any suggestions?

The reality is that

everyone has their idea of what makes a great looking blog and what widgets you have in your sidebar. There is a great deal of personal choice in setting up your blog. However, if I hadn’t taken my own advice and gone through my blog to make sure that everything worked, I would still have a theme up that frustrates my readers when they clicked on the pages.

Todos

After doing this review I can see somethings that need to be improved, changed or gotten rid of.

  • Look at other 3 column themes
  • While I have this theme change the background page and borders, so it flows better and doesn’t look as boxy.
  • Create an appealing header
  • Fix DailyMile widget
  • Get rid of the 3 on the Google+ widget
  • Find an all in one follow-me widget that I like
  • Clean up the bottom widget area.

What did I miss?

This is your change to tell me thing you don’t like about this theme and offer come constructive criticism or welcome advice on things that a reader of this blog you would like to see me improve in my theme.

If you go back and look at your theme, did you find anything that didn’t work, you didn’t really like or just didn’t fit the direction you are going. Do your own blog review and then link back here, so we can see the improvements we are making in our blogs.

Thanks 🙂