Saturday, January 28, 2012

Run Fat Boy

So, after watching some real running movies, I decided I wanted to watch a movie that had running in the theme but wasn't really about running at all. Run fat boy run seemed to fit the bill. I have always liked Simon Pegg. You may know him as Shaun from Shaun of the Dead. He more recently starred as Scotty in Star Trek. I couldn't imagine a better young Scotty than Simon. Yes, I am a science fiction nerd to add to my other weaknesses! His love interest in the movie is the lovely Thandie Newton. I think she was in one of the Mission Impossible movies. If I lived in the UK, maybe I would know more about her.

This is a simple and totally predictable movie but it's a nice and feel–good with a few laughs when you don't feel like trying too hard. Simon is always fantastic and worth watching in any role. It must be the name! So, here's a spoiler alert. To be honest, you can know the plot and still watch the movie. It's less about the story than it is about how the story plays out.

Dennis (played by Simon) is about to get married. He panics and runs from the wedding. To add insult to injury, Libby, his fiancĂ© is also pregnant. He somehow stays involved with his son and secretly hopes to win back Libby's affections. When Libby gets a new boyfriend (Whit) who is an American trader and marathoner, Dennis jokingly tells Libby that he would run a marathon. Dennis isn't that motivated to run until his friend Gordon (who is also Libby's cousin) makes a bet on him completing the marathon and becomes his coach. Gordon is very motivated because he is fearful of the thugs he made the bet with. Mr. Goshdashtidar (there are many jokes about the pronunciation of that name), Dennis' landlord puts aside his frustrations with Dennis and becomes his assistant coach. Mr. G uses a metal spatular liberally as a motivational tool. When Whit makes it clear that he also wants to win the affection of Dennis' son and not just his ex, Dennis gets really serious about completing the marathon. On race day, Dennis and Whit trash talk each other at the starting line and start speeding up to try to out–do each other. They become oblivious to the marathon, overtake the elite runners and capture Britain's attention with an insane sprint. Whit deliberately trips Dennis causing him to break his ancle. After they both fall hard, Whit pulls out of the race but Dennis decides to finish. It's a turning point for him because he wants to finish something for the first time in his life. When Libby sees Dennis on TV limping the race alone and at night and finds out that Whit tripped him, she rushes to be there for him. British TV follows him all the way and people come back out to the streets to cheer him on. Dennis barely manages to finish after hitting the wall but finally makes it. The movie ends with Dennis successfully asking Libby to go to dinner with him. And they all lived happily...

Here are some of my favorite parts:


Dennis sprinting away from the wedding as Libby and the guests scream after him. The scene then cuts to him dressed like a security guard, running after a transvestite who has stolen underwear from the store he guards. I love Simon Pegg's face in these scenes. He is breathing like his lungs are on fire. It's  how I felt when I started running.


When Dennis goes for his first run, he is wearing tight swimming trunks and a David Bowie t–shirt. Simon Pegg's movements and stretches are great. He runs to the end of the street, looks like he is making a breakthrough and then his face reverts to the same painful look in the earlier picture. I have to admit that Dennis' pot belly reminded me of what I must have looked like when I started running 45lbs ago. 


After running in the trunks, he develops a rash in the "scrotal zone" as he calls it. After his boss tells him that he can not scratch himself in front of the customers, Dennis reverts to using a mannequin's hand. This scene is just plain ridiculous and I laughed, even though I tried not to.


Whit (in green) and Dennis go on their own personal race right from the start of the marathon and break through the elite runners. They don't get far before Whit trips Dennis and they both crash to the ground, taking some elite's with them. I love how the TV announcer gets so passionate about Dennis that he refers to Whit as a bastard when slow motion footage later shows that Whit deliberately tripped him.


Whit tells Dennis about "the wall" but when Dennis finally hits it, he literally hits it. This scene is a dream sequence. Dennis is just plain delirious at this point.


After collapsing and looking like he may not make it, Dennis notices that Libby and his son Jake have come to be with him. He makes an impossible 50 yard dash to the finish line.

The best quote from the movie comes from Gordon, Dennis' best friend. He is just about to give Dennis some advice but wants to let him know that he is no expert on relationships:
"My only relationship ended in a broken collar bone and a dead meerkat"

So, like I said, a simple but cute movie. It's not that great, there's nothing to learn from it and nothing to gain except a couple of smiles and a couple of chuckles. Sometimes that is just enough. Here's the official trailer.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

My running gadgets

I'm headed into the second week of my knee issue. It's too painful to run and I don't want to make it worse by pushing it. I have an appointment to check it out next week. Fingers crossed. If I need to take a little time off, this wouldn't be the worst time to do that. The weather is pretty extreme right now. I don't mind resting but the one thing I hate about not running is that my immune system seems to crash. When I was taking lots of steroids for asthma, my immune system was in really poor shape. I was sick all the time and I had at least one hospital visit to look forward to every year. The only time I get sick these days is when I can't run. Another reason to keep doing it I guess :) Sorry, I'm rambling. Onto the post I intended to write...

Frozen cars along Lake Michigan in Chicago yesterday

I have been asked about running technologies I use or still use. It's funny that people have started to ask me questions. I'm not an expert on anything related to running. This isn't a really detailed review, it's just what I used and why. Take from it what you will. So, with that waiver signed, I just want to cover off on one more bit of back story before I dig in. I have always had a close affinity with the Adidas brand. Close your ears New Balance! You can't take away a childhood of the classic wood finish airline bag, Kicks signed by Kevin Keegan or the giant gym bag that I started comprehensive school with (similar to high school). That bag was so huge that an older teen could put a small 11 year–old into it (with their head sticking out) and slide them down the school corridor. Not that I ever did that :) When I started running, I turned to Adidas for help.

I signed up for Adidas miCoach online and started running with a Pacer bundle. Initially, I used it with my iPhone. The Pacer bundle came with a heart rate monitor, a coaching device (Pacer), an ear bud and a clip-on stride sensor. The heart rate and stride sensor talked wirelessly with the Pacer unit and the iPhone plugged directly into the Pacer unit to bring additional features from the miCoach iPhone app including GPS mapping and the integration of music, etc. You can read about the details here.



The Pros in the begging...
  • It helped me run by heart rate instead of pace which was very important to me. I didn't want to push myself so hard that I was putting myself at risk. A smart move for 40–something year old.
  • It taught me basic training strategies on the website and it gave me tools to plan running routes. I found it to have more substance than the Nike+ site at the time.
  • A voice prompted my training through the ear bud as I ran. I chose a famous rugby player's voice. The Pacer turned down my iPhone music when instructions were given.
  • It tracked GPS thorough the iPhone which really helped me start judging distance and tracking pace.
  • It helped me improve my stride turn–over rate. I could not believe how slow it was when I started.
  • The clip–on Adidas stride sensor allowed me to choose any shoe I wanted to use—not just an Adidas shoe.
  • Data was uploaded to the Adidas miCoach site, so that you could track progress.
The Cons as I evolved as a runner...
  • I had to stop using the iPhone because it was bulky and wasn't weather–proof. This lost me my GPS and I had to map manually which was a real pain.
  • I hated having to find the right workout on the Pacer. When I run, I don't want technology slowing me down.
  • I stopped using music because I felt like it took away from my ability to connect with the run. The spirit of that is captured in this post. I wanted to learn to dictate my own pace.
  • Without the iPhone, the Pacer didn't give me real–time feedback, so when I synched with the site, I found that I had been outside of my heart rate zones too long. This was frustrating.
  • I started to read more about training plans, so I became less reliant on the miCoach website.
So, having got what I needed from Pacer, I evolved to the miCoach Zone. It is basically a small watch–like device that speaks to the heart rate monitor and shows you colored lights to give you real–time feedback on the heart rate zone you are in. You could hit the button for the actual heart rate and it it had a stopwatch to time your run. Find out more about it here. It may be discontinued in the US.


The Pros in the beginning...
  • I got to wear less equipment. Much less bulk.
  • I got real–time heart rate feedback although it took a long time to calibrate it and get it to operate the way I wanted it to.
  • I got really tuned into my heart rate and learned how to tell what heart rate zone I was running in just from the way I felt. A really valuable skill.
The Cons as I evolved as a runner...
  • I lost the ability to capture stride rate information.
  • I still didn't have any GPS data and monitoring pace was a pain.
  • I didn't enjoy having a heart monitor strap on. I wanted to run with even less.
  • I felt like I had learned the ability to run in safe heart rate zones and wanted to focus more on distance and pace.


So, having taught myself to understand my body a little better, I decided that I'd let go of heart rate and get a watch for GPS mapping, so that I could capture distance and pace effortlessly. I was tracking all my miles on DailyMile.com, so it was important to choose a watch that could synch with that site. After some research, I went with the Nike SportWatch GPS powered by TomTom. I didn't need all the bells and whistles of many of the GPS watches.

The Pros...
  • It is a lot less bulky than other GPS watches.
  • Navigation through the menus is unbelievably simple.
  • The number are huge and you can control what is showing. I don't wear contacts and I run without glasses, so this is huge for me. Sometimes I have distance be the dominant visual—sometimes pace. 
  • You hit the watch to turn on the back light. A very easy interaction while running in the dark.
  • The USB is right in the strap. You don't have to use other cables.
  • I have found the GPS to be pretty reliable. I have a reasonable amount of confidence in the data.
  • It can connect to heart rate and stride sensor. I'd like to start using a stride sensor again.
  • It has other features like auto laps, stopwatch and all sorts of things I use occasionally.
  • It uploads everything to Nike+ website.
  • It shows messages begging you to run with it when you take time off. Just a bit of fun.
The Cons...
  • It relies on the application on the computer too much although some of the latest updates moved functions to the watch too.
  • It was a little slow connecting to satellites in the beginning but a software update made it better.
  • I do not like that the data is so controlled by Nike. So typical of them. I use DailyMile and wish that I didn't have to upload to Nike+ site before synching with DailyMile. I don't like the Nike+ site and don't want to use it.
  • I do not like Nike forcing people to buy their Nike+ ready shoes in order to use a stride sensor. So pathetic. It's this type of thing that makes me avoid products by this brand.

So, that's about it. I used technology to help me learn some things about running and my body and once I felt more confident, I downsized to one piece of equipment. If I run on a treadmill or I run a familiar route just for the joy of it, I don't even bring the watch. I'd love to get down to a pair of shoes and shorts Anton style but that's a bit obnoxious when you are running in a major city. As far as websites are concerned, I am forced to deal with Nike+ but I spend most of my time on DailyMile. It's a nice, simple and social site. Feel free to become a friend.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Charlie's running initiation

This weekend, I took my second run with my son Charlie. He just turned 6. You may remember that I wrote a post about feeling disconnected from him lately. It was one of the reasons that I was drawn to the book by Jim Axelrod. I thought running could be a way for us to bond and a time for us to do something without the rest of the clan coming along. He has been excited about it. I even purchased him a pair of Merrell Trail Gloves. Sorry New Balance but you are way behind the curve when it comes to minimal kid shoes. The reason I got them was so that he felt like running shoes are special (which they are—duh!) and because I noticed that kids shoes have a really high stack height and are so inflexible that it makes them run really awkwardly in them. This is a shame because there is nothing more natural than watching a young child run with bare feet. Charlie was pretty light on his feet with the Trail Gloves.



Running is a really fun thing to do with a young kid. Charlie was especially excited to go out and run in snow and ice. He asked me if it was dangerous and I told him it could be. The last time we ran it was getting dark and he thought that was dangerous too. I think he is excited by the fact that I am allowing him to take risks. When I dressed him today, I explained why I was choosing the specific clothes. I told him that I was giving him woolen gloves, so that his hands wouldn't get too warm but reminded him that if he picks up snow, they would get wet and make him very cold. He just said "That's OK dad. I'll just put my face in the snow to eat it." When we got to the park, Charlie told me to turn my watch on because he wanted to know how far we ran. Isn't it funny that a watch that can track you using GPS is so unremarkable to a kid that age? It was cold running through the park but beautiful in the sun. As we ran by the empty and frozen lagoon, families were sledding and having a great time. I was so happy to hear Charlie commenting on the environment. He seemed tuned in to the majesty of it all. At one point, he got super excited about the fact that some ducks had found a small area of water in the frozen lake. We ran two miles around the park with a few walks as recovery and to let Charlie eat snow.

Humboldt Park Lagoon. Courtesy of mbaltstiel on Flickr.

So, here are a few things I have learned about running with a young kid:
  • They are intrigued by running gear. Wearing thermal underwear (in lieu of running tights) under shorts is amusing.
  • They are interested in running terminology and science like "technical shirts" that wick moisture. When we got home, Charlie told me that he though his shirt had done a great job keeping the sweat off him.
  • Running slow to run further is an alien concept to them. They just want to run as fast as they can until they stop. Sprinting is all they know. You have to explain distance running to them.
  • They will tell you when they need to stop. I was very worried about over–exerting Charlie. We end up walking when he is tired and running when he is recovered. It comes naturally.
  • They can run further than you think. With run/walk/run, I think Charlie could go on for a very long time. Regardless, I am going to take it slow.
  • When you tell a 6 year old boy to avoid ice, they process that as "find the ice and run on it." He only fell twice but he thoroughly enjoyed it both times.
  • Even at a young age, there is a sense of achievement from running. Charlie always says that he wants to run more next time and can't wait to tell mom how far he ran.
  • Giving coaching on running form is a bit of a waste at this age. I tried telling Charlie about the way he should hold his arms. He just couldn't do it. Running is so natural to him, the thought of altering form is alien. I didn't want to take away the fun, so I took back my direction and told him that he could run any way that felt right to him.
  • They think running is fun. Charlie never thought of running as an activity before. It was just something he used to get him from place to place. He now asks about people who run for a living.
The biggest smile I got from Charlie today is when we stopped at the car after the run. His cheeks were all red from the cold and he said "Dad. Can we get some hot cocoa when we get home? Please!" How can you say no to a mischievous little face like that? He knew that he had earned it.




As a result of the running with Charlie and the "special shoes", my daughter Maggie is now asking if she can run with me and get a sweet pair of shoes too. I am a little nervous about doing it with her because of the heart murmur she sometimes gets because of her blood disorder. I wrote a gut wrenching post about that a little while ago. I guess I'll just check on it medically and if she is cleared, we can do a little running. I'm always going to be worried about her even though she is a tough little thing.

I hope I have started a legacy here. I want them to be healthy people when they grow up. It doesn't matter if it is running. They can substitute their own version of it in future. Selfishly though, I want them to run because I want to run races with them when they are older.


POST UPDATE
I was checking out New Balance Chicago's Facebook page and what did I see... A kids Minimus range coming in Q3? Cool... but that's a long time to wait.



Monday, January 16, 2012

Contact with New Balance Chicago!


Jan 16th, 2012 - Contact with New Balance Chicago
I got a really warm and welcome email from Jeff Mach. He and his partner own four New Balance Chicago area stores. They are independently owned and operated licensee's of New Balance. He said he found my blog randomly and also said "I like the way you write, what running means to you and the type of person you seem to be in your blog." He said that culture is very important to their family business and asked me if I would like to come into the store and meet them. I have to admit that in many ways, this is more meaningful to me than a connection with New Balance corporate. I thought about reaching out to the ownership before but I didn't want to be pushy. I'm happier that the contact happened this way. Maybe they can give me a tip on how to become a tester? Maybe I can do some charitable effort in partnership with them? Regardless, I am looking forward to meeting with them and chatting. I am also looking forward to buying a pair of MT110's with my shiny new gift certificate. Jeff tells me that the New Balance store has them in stock. I do like to support local running shoe stores. It's a no–brainer because fit is everything and I don't like to wait for new running shoes :) I'll keep you posted.


Nov 22nd, 2011
I got an email from The Charitable Programs Department of the New Balance Foundation. They said that their geographic focus was limited to Norway, Norridgewock and Skowhegan, Maine and Lawrence or Boston Mass. Plus, they will only work with 501(c)(3) organizations. Ugh.


Nov 18th, 2011
I reached out to the New Balance Foundation.

Nov 15th, 2011 - Contact with New Balance Tinley Track & Trail
I emailed with Sarah Grzybek who is tied to New Balance Orland Park. A super nice person who organizes the Tinley Track & Trail. It sounds like a fun group of people. It's a shame that it is too far away.

Nov 7th, 2011
I have decided to shift tactics and see what activities New Balance Chicago has to offer. I have "liked" and "followed" them to see if I can connect to something.

Oct 18th, 2011 - Contact with New Balance Facebook Team
First contact! I got an email from Katie at the New Balance idea submission process on Facebook that said:
"I checked out your blog, and it is pretty impressive! I have sent the link to your website to our Running Team. I hope something works out for you in the near future!"

Oct 9th, 2011
I submitted my blog and ideas as an idea on the New Balance idea submission process on Facebook.

Oct 1st, 2011
I asked an acquaintance who was a former elite runner and the first New Balance store owner in Chicago if he had any contacts. 
His response was “I don’t know anyone there anymore. There is no way in hell they will sponsor you.” 

Sep 24th, 2011

I applied to be a New Balance Wear Test Program participant.


Sep 22nd, 2011
I unleashed Sponsor The Fool on an unsuspecting Interwebs community and explained my concept of getting a real person (namely me) sponsored by New Balance.


As sponsorship ideas come up, I am going to document them here.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Lost track of New Balance

So, I go away for the holidays and take a break from obsessively following running and running shoe content online and look what happens! I seem to have totally lost track of what New Balance is up to. All of a sudden, there is a new Minimus shoe that I have never heard of!

As you may know, I am a fan of the new Minimus line. The 10 series was impressive. I owned the Minimus Trail MT10's. A great shoe but the band accross the metatarsils is just too tight for me since my stress fracture healed with more bone. I still own the Minimus Road MR10's which are also a nice shoe but nowhere near as good a shoe as the MT10 and I have had a lot of issues with them giving my blisters. You are meant to be able to go sock–less but I have to wear socks. I was always sock–less in the MT10's and never had an issue. The Minimus Wellness MW10's were really intriguing to me. If I had money to burn, I would totally have purchased a pair of these for recovery. As it is, I have to justify running shoe purchases to my wife and this usage is off the radar. I don't blame her. If you don't run a lot, it's hard to understand usages and rotation. A shoe that went under the radar was the MO10. It looks like the MT10 but has a waterproof upper. It's called a multi-sport which is just confusing. It isn't as well advertised on the New Balance site as the other shoes.
MT10
MR10
MW10
MO10

I was a little lost with the 20 series but then it kinda made sense after I did a little research. The MT20 is a less premium shoe than the MT10 that New Balance distributes to big box stores. Obviously, they are not going to make that public. The MX20 is a cross training shoe. Neither shoe held any interest for me. Not knocking them because I never tried them.
MT20
MX20
The new news on the Minimus front was the 00 series. I have been following that for a while. They are coming in March. The 10's and 20's were all 4mm drop but New Balance decided to introduce a zero drop range. I was really excited because the MR00's have some real padding to protect you for longer runs. I'm all for minimalism but my old feet need some protection. Plus, it may be natural to run barefoot but it really isn't natural to pound your feet on asphalt day after day.

MT00's
MR00's
Just as I was getting used to the idea of waiting to see the 00's, I discovered that Anton Krupicka and other ultra runners had helped New Balance evolve the old MT101 to create the new MT110. It is a 4mm drop shoe with more protection than the MT00 including a rockplate to help protect the foot. People who have tested it say it is a fantastic shoe. One thing is clear though, it is not as cool looking as the rest of the new Minimus range IMHO. Having said that, it is still a good looking shoe and the silver is oddly appealing to me. The MT110 just came out. For some reason, the New Balance website only has women's but you can get men's at Running Warehouse and other places. New Balance Chicago stores have them. New Balance Chicago shared this link on iRunFar.com on their Facebook page about the making of MT110. It's an interesting read.
MT110
The one that completely threw me when I got back from my vacation was the MT1010. I had no idea that this was on the horizon. I felt cheated. I felt like New Balance is keeping secrets from me. It is a 4mm drop shoe that has more padding than the MT110 and stylistically, it fits in with the other Minimus 00 designs. It's pretty funky. I think this would be a better shoe for me if I was running over very rocky ground. I'd go with the MT110 for a less aggressive surface. You can find out more about it at irunfar.com. It's worth checking it out just to see the colorways. The MT1010 is meant to be released in late summer. I'd love to see an MR1010 (road version). I think it could be a contender against the Saucony Kinvara's for me.

MT1010
What amazes me is that if you want information about New Balance's running shoe pipeline, you have to randomly discover it on blogs and running sites. NewBalance.com is always way behind. If I was New Balance, I would take control of that. The most dependable information about your shoes should always come from the the brand. I still think leaking stuff is a good strategy but after the cat is out of the bag, people will go to your site to get the scoop. Also, I'd love to see some sort of genealogy map. Clearly there is a numbering strategy and it's helpful to understand it. It's also useful to know which ones are still in production.

Based on the new lineup, this is the way I would go with my shoe selection...

  • MT00 - Probably too lightweight for me but an awesome active summer shoe
  • MR00 - Shorter distance shoes for speed work and strengthening.
  • Saucony Kinvara - I am still loving these for distance. Waiting for the MR1010 :)
  • MT110 - For smoother trails. I am anxious to spend my gift certificate on these.
  • MT1010 - For aggressive trails these seem awesome.
Hey New Balance, if you are listening, I take an 8.5. Maybe some new shoes will make–up for you ignoring me last year :)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Trails have got us falling in love again

Happy new year to all of you. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog last year. I appreciate it. I took a little time off over the holidays. I was in Cleveland with my in-law's for Christmas and we took a train cross–country to New Hampshire to visit my sister and family in Manchester. It was our first experience in a sleeper car on a train. Quite an adventure. We came back to Cleveland and then drove home with the presents. The three kids were lunatics on the drive home. Not even a Beatles CD with Yellow Submarine would calm them. It didn't help that there was a blizzard going on for part of the trip and our car's electronics started going haywire. Being back at work, getting the kids back to school and taking on routines has been really tiring. Oh, I also threw in a birthday too.  I'm 43! I don't feel it and thanks to running, I don't think I look it either. I'd probably look pretty young if I had hair.

First post of the year! Here goes...

Let me share my New Year's running resolutions with you:

  1. Start running with the kids (I'm already on it)
  2. Run an official race (I tend to get injured as soon as I sign up for one)
  3. Get faster. I want to get my faster runs in the low 8's (not sure it's possible)
  4. Up my mileage (I haven't decided how much)
  5. Run more trails
  6. Run a 50K on trails (doesn't have to be an official race)
  7. Start specific weight training to improve running
  8. Develop a relationship with New Balance

When we went to New Hampshire, I was excited about working on resolution #5. What I didn't expect was to fall headlong in love with running on trails. There are people probably rolling their eyes at this and thinking that I'm a city slicker. It's not that at all. I grew up in Wales with access to lush countryside and trails galore. I just never ran them. As you can see from the picture of the family farm, it's a crying shame. There were so many missed opportunities for running. I walked my share of trails but running a trail is not like walking or biking it. It's a very specific experience. I now have a secret desire to move to somewhere like Colorado to make trails a part of my lifestyle. It's a shame I like Chicago so much. Maybe I can also entertain my fantasy of moving to New Zealand.

Brocyll Farm, Pembrey, Carmarthenshire, Wales.
As soon as I got to New Hampshire, I was asking Rhys and Owen (my nephews) if they knew of trails I could run on. They suggested Hobo Hill. I have no idea what that area is really called but I wasn't too nervous about the nickname because no hobo would have been crazy enough to be up on that hill in those freezing conditions. When the boys dropped me off at the trail head, I said with a grin "If I am not back in 2 hours, assume I am lost and come looking for me". It took a while for them to drive away. I think they mistook my waiting for the GPS to connect as a sign of apprehension. The course is used for the local high school and grade school cross country. Chicago offers no hills, so the first 100 to 200 meters killed me. It is straight up over rough ground. When I got to the top, I ran a long way around a fenced–in area and finally found myself running alongside kids have ski lessons. Running up–hill in a foot of snow really killed my legs. After just a mile, I was tired. I felt quite ashamed of myself. The course then cut back across the top of the hill, past a stately granite tower that was built in the 1890's and then down through some really nice forest trail onto the road where you circle back around. I ran three circuits and my calves and quads were on fire. The only way I was able to live with myself was because I redeemed myself on the two mile run home. The last half a mile was a very punishing hill through the attractive subdivision where my sister and family live. I was tired when I got there, so much so in fact that I ran into the wrong driveway. I banged on the door, banged on the window, went around the back and banged on that door. With the tights and the stocking cap, I must have looked like a cat burgler. I hope to goodness the neighbors weren't home and cowering behind their sofa. When I realized that I'd made a mistake, I shot off across the gardens and into my sister's garage.

Weston Tower, Manchester NH
That night, I scoped out another trail that started right next to Massabesic Lake. RailsToTrails.com made it look like a great option. I remembered walking on the start of it when I lived in Manchester. I knew it would be a rough surface but I knew it wouldn't have too aggressive an elevation because it was a converted railway line. It was a part of the Boston and Maine railroad and was the Portsmouth Branch. The trail is known as the Rockingham Recreational Trail and goes on for 26.5 miles. I scoped it out the next day for my recovery run. I was excited to tackle it.

The next day, I was determined to have a nice long run. In order to get there, I had to run down the steep subdivision and then down another really steep mile of road. By the time I hit the trail head, my quads were feeling it but just being out in the crisp weather with a touch of snow on the ground felt really good. The trail follows the lake and then heads off into the middle of nowhere. In places it was very icy but generally footing was good. The scenery was fantastic. The ponds were frozen with bare trees growing out of them. I was so angry that I didn't have a camera. In places, you could envisions a little steam engine chugging through the countryside. It was so peacful. I ran 5.5 miles along the trail before deciding that I needed to turn around. On the way home, some snow started to fall. I was in the zone. I floated along effortlessly and I was euphoric. I only saw two cyclists the whole time I was there. Suddenly, a couple of miles from the trail head, I realized that I had run further than I had ever run before. I was so confident at that point, I didn't fear the brutal 1.5 mile climb I would have to make home. It was tough but I didn't feel too bad when I walked into my sisters kitchen. I had run nearly 13.5 miles. As I drank some water and started to make a cup of tea, I casually said "I just ran a half marathon on a trail". I swear, I felt that I could have run a marathon that day and it would have been a beautiful way to do it. This is the way I want my 50K to go. I don't care about time or being in an official race. I just want to do it for me.

Rockingham Trail, NH in warmer weather


Here is the map, so you can see just where it is in relation to Manchester. You can check out the map in more detail where I log all of my running on DailyMile.



Now that I am back in Chicago, I am really looking forward to finding some interesting trails to run. I really need to go to Palos Heights too. I've never been there. I want that trail feeling again. It was truly euphoric to be running with nature. I guess it doesn't get more natural than that!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Running Movies

As I watch films about running or related to running, I will document them here.

Films about running
These are films about runners or about running as the central storyline.
Click the links to read my posts.
  • Chariots of Fire (1981) - A classic fact-based film about Eric Lidell and Harold Abrahams, two British runners and their bid for the 1924 Olympics.

  • Without Limits (1998) - The story of Steve Prefontaine.
  • Prefontaine (1997) - The story of Steve Prefontaine.
  • Jericho Mile (1979) - A fictional story about a prisoner who runs in order to feel free but is recognized as one of the fastest milers in the U.S.
  • Run for Your Life (2008) - A documentary about Fred Lebow and how he started the New York City Road Runners Club and Marathon.
Films that are running related
These are films that have running as a key theme but the main storyline is not about running.
Click the links to read my posts.
  • Run Fat Boy Run (2007) - A comedy starring Simon Pegg. It's a story about a man who signs up for a marathon in order win back the mother of his child that he left pregnant at the alter.


Monday, January 2, 2012

Fun Places I've Run

These are the most fun places I have run to date.
Click the link to see my route on DailyMile.

and of course...
  • Lakefront Path, Chicago IL

Running Books

As I read running books, I will document them here.
Click on the links to read related posts about the book.

Running Stories
  • Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall. A truly amazing story centered around a Mexican running tribe that will blow your mind. The book played a big role in the "minimalist" movement.
  • Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness by Scott Jurek with Steve Friedman. A great overview of Scott Jurek's life and career to date with detailed information on his diet and some recipes too.
  • Finding Ultra: Rejecting middle age, becoming one of the World's fittest men and discovering myself by Rich Roll. The story of a high school nerd who hit rock bottom and came back to be one of the top endurance athletes in the world.
  • In The Long Run: A Father, a Unintentional Lessons in Happiness by Jim Axelrod. I found this book to be an open and honest look into life and relationships. It actually inspired me to run with my son which created great joy for me.
  • Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an all-night runner by Dean Karnazes. For some reason, people love to knock Dean. It's probably because he has become the most famous ultra runner even though he is not the best. That shouldn't take away from his accomplishments. This is a great account of how it all got started.
  • Run! 26.2 Stories of Blisters and Bliss by Dean Karnazes. There are some great little stories in here. You get a better sense of his relationships with friends and his father, etc. It's more of a bathroom read because it is not just one story.
Training Books
  • Daniels' Running Formula – 2nd Edition by Jack Daniels. This is definately an advanced read and at times I felt a little lost in the science. Even though it was written for more advanced runners, I learned an incredible amount about how training and different types of runs impact your overall performance. It's fascinating.
Running Related Books

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