Monday, January 30, 2012

The gear I use

       I’ve spent the 28 years I’ve been running trying out gear and figuring out what works best for me. I’ve said before that what I look for is what gets in the way the least. I do find new things pretty regularly, and new stuff emerges, but this is my rig for now:
ShoesMontrail Rogue Racers   I’ve been wearing lightweight shoes for many years now, though the Rogue Racers are the lightest I've worn as an every day shoe. From the day I first wore them on trails they have probably been my favorite shoe of all time, along with the Saucony Dixon in the early 80s.
Because I’ve always run trails, I have tried trail shoes throughout my years running. Until the past few years, though, “trail shoe” meant modified hiking boot, stiff, clunky, heavyweight shoes that hurt my feet. I used road shoes to run on trails because they suited my gait better. I found a pair of lightweight Nike trail shoes that I liked, until Nike reminded me of why I don’t like Nikes by abandoning the line. But with the minimalists trending hard right now, shoes companies have taken to diversifying their offerings. Last winter I spent an hour or so in a terrific running shop, Foot RX in Asheville, trying on some of the new lightweight shoes by La Sportiva, Brooks, Saucony, New Balance, and Montrail. 
This pair of  Rogue Racers have
about 150 miles on them.
The Rogue Racers just fit great, and I love the weight. Montrail did not cut down the heel-to-toe drop as much as some of the other brands, and the flexibility matched my needs. I don’t slip in them any more than in any other shoe I’ve worn on wet leaves in the fall, or in slick mud on horse trails. I’m on my third pair, and they are definitely my go-to shoe. They do seem to break down a little faster than other shoes I’ve worn. Because I know it’s good to alternate shoes, I also wear the Montrail Mountain Masochists occasionally, and am very excited for the Montrail Bajadas coming out soon.
Shirts: I bought my first high-tech (read: petroleum product) wicking shirts for backpacking trips in the early 80s. They were the old polypropylene that would grab onto body funk and never let go. I had to hold my nose pulling those things over my head after a while. But that kind of material has undergone a kind of revolution like shoes, and now there are all kinds of wicking materials in all kinds of styles. I don’t stick to a particular brand, but I like mock turtlenecks, baggy, with a zipper if possible, for both cool and cold weather. I have several short sleeves wicking shirts, and several I’ve cut the short sleeves off of. It gets hot down here, and the less material the better in the summer. Lately I’ve been buying my shirts at Goodwill. I layer wicking shirts for the weather as needed, sometimes three at a time, and won’t go back to cotton.
Shorts: I’m a short-shorts kind of guy, especially in the summer, preferring the split-leg style that allows for more freedom of movement. In cooler weather, I wear a longer short usually with pockets I can stuff with gels and my beloved Clif Shot Bloks. I’m still experimenting with adding pockets to the short-shorts for hot weather wear. I tried a pair of Brooks shorts with pockets, and my food kept falling out. Whatever the shorts, a coolmax brief is a must.
Socks: DeFeet Air-E-Ators. There is no other sock for me. I love the weight, I love the cool styles, I love matching my socks by theme. I love that they’re made up the road in Hickory, North Carolina. Though they’re marketed as cycling socks, I’ve never worn a more comfortable sock. I don’t have trouble with cold feet, so these are perfect year-round, at least here in South Carolina, even when it snows.  
Pants: When it’s below about 40 or so, with not much prospect of warming up, I wear long pants. My favorite style for long or fast runs is the classic SportHill stirrup pants. I don’t use the stirrup, and often end up pulling the pants to my knees like DIY capris. I’ve probably had twenty pairs in 28 years--they last a good while. Otherwise, I look for some kind of wicking material, lightweight pants.
The "D" hat, one of my favorites.
Hats: I wear a hat on almost every run. In the summer I wear a lightweight wicking type hat. My friends at have a great lightweight hat made by Headsweats. When it’s cool, I wear a regular cotton baseball hat, fitted of course. When it’s below forty or so, I wear a lightweight wicking beanie (the same kind I wear under my bike helmet). I found one by Pearl Izumi a few years ago that cinches with a toggle and cord at the top, so you can open and close it at will. It helps keep my body temperature regulated, and I’ve worn it down to eight or ten degrees.
Gloves: I pull my shirt sleeves over my hands--another reason I like baggy long-sleeve shirts. Generally after a mile or so my hands warm up enough to unwrap. 
Jacket: I prefer warm to dry, so I don’t wear a jacket for the rain or snow or cold because I sweat inside it. I sometimes wear a light fleece pullover when it’s really cold or wet. That said, I bought a high-vis yellow breathable windbreaker for my bike commute. I’ve worn it a few times running at night, and it’s fine for short runs. Longer runs I sweat too much in a shell like that. Either way I get wet.
Water: In the late 90s, I bought a Camelbak GoBe fanny pack. The bladder holds 50 ounces, and I like the feel much better than those belts that hold water bottles. I use it for very long runs when I know there’s no chance of re-filling my handheld bottle. Camelbak no longer makes the Gobe, but I’ve replaced the bladder twice, and the pack itself has held up very well. I use a Nathan handheld that I bought two or three years ago, and yes, it's a little worn out. I like it because the sling holds any kind of bicycle-type water bottle, and I’ve used a few different ones as they get pretty grungy after a while.
Food: When GUs first came out in the mid or late 90s, I knew right away they would change my running because I when I get hungry, I get irritated. I’ve carried various types since, and I can stomach them all. I don’t like the fruit flavored ones though, and stick to chocolate and coffee flavored ones that remind me of pudding. Clif makes a good one, GUs remain a favorite. In the last couple of years, though, I’ve gotten used to the Clif Shot Bloks. I like the gummy consistency, and often just let them dissolve in my mouth as I go. I also like that I can control the intake better than the one-shot gels. I tend to eat a block about every fifteen minutes after the first hour of a long run, which is why I like pocketed shorts.
 Tell me what I’ve left out, or what your favorite gear is.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Week ending January 29: 21 Days

Mon 1/23 4 miles, including 2 miles barefoot 
Tue 1/24 5 miles on Cottonwood
Wed 1/25 8 1/2 at Croft. I have in general been running a little scared the last couple of weeks, afraid I’m going to collapse if I press the pace too much. Today, I just kept pressing harder through the hills of one of my favorite trails. 
Thu 1/26 3 miles easy. I felt yesterday’s pace, but I’m really loving the recovery runs. When I was running four or five days a week, I felt like everything had to be hard. With seven days, I’m able to focus on the recovery runs more, which seems to be working for me physically and mentally.
Fri 1/27 3 miles. Felt much better than yesterday, but in preparation for a long run on Saturday, I took it short and easy.
Sat 1/28 22 miles at Southside: I ran a 12 mile loop (same as last Sunday), followed by a ten-mile loop after a five-or-so minute stop at the car. I’m still nervous about pressing, especially early. I did push a few sections harder on the second loop, and felt good about my pace up the short, steep climbs that are so frequent at Southside. 
When I got home, I was pretty whooped. For the first time, Bristol the Enduro-Dog hobbled around, I guess expected after his distance PR, but it scares me some. He’d go with me until he breaks, I think. He never acted hurt or hobbled while running, but then I guess I didn’t either. I’ll be anxious to see how he recovers.
Sun 1/29 4 1/2 miles, including 2 miles barefoot  Woke up this morning with no muscle soreness at all. Even Bristol seemed to wake up feeling good (phew!). I let him rest, though, and ran by myself down to the fields (with a little add on to make sure I got to fifty miles this week) for some barefoot running. My legs are fatigued, but I feel good about my fitness right now. I remind myself not to get too hasty about hard training, and let the effort build more than the mileage.
Total 50 miles in seven runs

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Week ending January 22: 14 days straight

Week ending January 22
Monday 1/16  4 miles, including 16 x 120 yards barefoot. I think my legs may have been wondering what we were doing running on a Monday. I swear I heard, “We shall overcome” chanting from down there.
Tue 1/17 6 miles at Croft. I felt uncomfortable after about ten minutes, mostly with the night running. I went to Croft to run a trail we call the Chapters, but had some bad mojo in the dark and turned around, cutting off the 2 1/2 mile trail section. That kind of thing happens.
Wed 1/18 4 miles on Cottonwood from home.
Thu 1/19 1 1/4 miles around the neighborhood The first test of my resolve to run every day: a late meeting meant I got up early to run, not something I generally do during the week. Also a test of claiming to have run when I only ran 10 minutes or so. Needed the rest, will see how that plays out.
Fri 1/20  5 miles, including 2 miles barefoot on grass. Rainy and chilly. The barefoot running was pretty darn cold for a while, sloppy the whole time. Felt reasonably loose.
Sat 1/21 11 miles at Croft. Dumping rain from 4 miles on, and wet and muddy trails throughout. Thunderstorms forecast, and sure enough, right about noon, rolling thunder rattled the woods for 20 seconds or so. 
          I’m not a fan of lightning, and I thought about turning around. But I was running a trail I haven’t been on for a few weeks, one of the toughest we run; I carried on. So up to that point my legs had felt a little dead, and I wasn’t able to push off much. As though the thunder brought it on, 36 minutes in, I suddenly loosened up, and ran hard through the long climbs that just seem to keep going. I thought I would make a loop with some of the horse trails at Croft, but the thought of that slop didn’t exactly fuel my pace. While I was climbing the steep road section out of the draw, I decided instead to turn around and run the lake trail back again, adding some miles but avoiding substantial mud holes. 

I was warm only while moving, so I hustled, and the footing was pretty good. I was reminded that sometimes the middle of the trail is the safest when it's flowing ankle deep with rainwater. Then I hit the less-than-a-mile section of horse trail back to the parking lot, exactly the deep mud I'd avoided by turning around on the road. That section, and a couple of heavy thunder rolls let me know I made the right decision to turn around and also to bag the second loop.  
Sun 1/22 12 miles at Southside. Tired legs warmed up after 35 minutes again. This time I expected it to come, so the first part was a bit more enjoyable. 
Total 43 miles in seven runs
            I felt tired on every run this week, though I felt motivated to run every day, too. I remember those summers when I added three or four two-a-days. The first couple of weeks I felt extra tired, but felt a real bump in the third week. I’ve read others say they also experienced the same bump. I’ll give this increase that kind of chance. But I need to do sustained long runs if for no more than to build some mental strength.

He'd go again if I said so.
Bristol remains an endurance beast. I didn’t take him around the neighborhood, and I didn’t take him on Friday in the rain because he can’t run with me on the fields. So he ran 37 miles with me this week; at places where multiple trails weave around obstacles he often takes the steeper. But he’s very patient with me, and lets me lead most of the time these days. 

           He is confident and fearless, I'd say, though he has a tendency to get jumpy around other dogs. He generally wants nothing to do with other animals, except that the herd of eight or ten does we saw today down in the creek bottom got his attention for a couple hundred yards. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Night Running, revisited

I ran tonight after dark with a headlamp for the second time this winter. I thought of this post I wrote last spring after several night runs, some with others and some alone.
In the more than 25 years I’ve been running for exercise, I’ve run in about every situation I can think of.  But lately, I’ve been running at night, on trails, with a headlamp.
I’ve run through the streets of Beijing, New York, Anchorage, and many other cities large and small; run in northern New Hampshire when it was 25 degrees below zero, and in Tucson, Arizona when it was 108.  I’ve run alone, with regular partners, with random strangers, and in large groups.  I’ve run in a couple hundred races or more, from 400 meters to 50 kilometers. 
This winter my two main training partners and I started running at night on trails, at first out of necessity (early dark) and then out of interest and desire.  As daylight hours extend, I sometimes start a run in the light, then finish in the dark by headlamp.  I’ve done some runs by myself with my dog, and some with my friends. 
Some folks think we’re crazy, asking for turned ankles and skinned hands and knees. But the running style changes, slows slightly, we pick up our feet and plant them more firmly to assure good footing.  We run on familiar trails, but they are made unfamiliar by darkness.  It’s not always easy to know where we are, and trail surface becomes much more of a factor as we shine lights ahead of our steps.
Often, in the descending light, focusing without turning on the headlamp makes it easier to see the roots and rocks of the trail.  I feel Bristol hesitate just a bit as we approach major turns we both know well enough to anticipate.  When I turn the light on for good, he accelerates slightly to get just off the front of my light, the better to use his canine sight. With the light illuminating the trail just a few steps ahead of my feet, I have to let myself push on, trusting my light and feet.  The process takes getting used to.
Dark descends quickly at the end, leaving me with that eerie feeling of being watched, though I am comforted knowing we don’t have bears or big cats in this area, and by Bristol’s keen dog-awareness.  Trust my dog, I tell myself.  He’ll let me know if there’s anything out there.
These runs last about an hour or so, sometimes all of it in the dark.  Many 50-milers start in the dark, and if I ever run a 100-miler, I’ll have to run overnight, most likely.  
And this is definitely something to practice—it’s not easy to be alone, with nothing but a light, which makes a kind of bubble around my eyes.  I strain to see beyond the light, and remember Edward Abbey’s command to get rid of the light because it limits your sight. 
Now, with the time change, I likely won’t get in any more dark evening runs; perhaps I’ll get out early some mornings to get that start-in-the-dark practice. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Week ending January 15: Seven days straight

Monday 1/9 3 miles easy on Cottonwood. What, running on a Monday? Must be Armagideon time.

Tuesday 1/10 5 miles on Cottonwood

Wednesday 1/11 7 miles at Croft: night run.

Thursday 1/12 4 miles, including 2 miles barefoot at the high school

Friday 1/13 5 miles on Cottonwood

Saturday 1/14 16 miles at Croft with Bristol the Enduro-Dog

Sunday 1/15 6 miles on Cottonwood including 2 miles barefoot at the high school

Total 46 miles in seven runs

My experiment with every-day running went well this week. I’ve felt especially loose every day, and my motivation is high. As I mentioned, the easy days are provoking me to run drills more, which will no doubt strengthen my running.

But when you add more than one thing to a routine, it’s harder to figure out which one has made the difference. I ran easy barefoot a couple of times this week, which always makes my legs feel better. I ran every day for the first time in years, and maybe that loosens me, too. But I know at least part of it is from this thing:

I'm trying to use it every day.

I kept most of these runs fairly easy, maintaining some recovery from last weekend.

I never listen to music when I run. It’s always messed up my sense of rhythm and pacing, and I fear I’ll miss something in the woods, like what seemed to be a black deer, or any of the other seven or eight deer I saw yesterday. However, I do sing most of the way, and this was the song in my head for a couple of runs this week.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The beginning of a streak

In twenty eight years of running, I have never felt any need to maintain a streak of daily runs. At my most competitive, those days when I was trying to break 16 minutes for 5K, 33 minutes for 10K, 2:50 for a marathon (I never did, though I came close), I probably ran every day. I went to six days a week at least ten years ago, including the six years I coached. I ran my first two 50ks on two runs a week, and sometimes only one, but that hurt a lot; lately I’ve settled into four or five days a week, usually depending on when I do a long run. Both of you readers know that I “never run on Mondays. 

I promise not to run if I break my leg.
I have always approached those every day streaks with a laugh, in fact. The idea of hobbling for a mile to say you "ran" that day seems absurd. A former running partner of mine, a much more accomplished runner than I, trained for a marathon in only long runs, leaving recovery runs off his schedule, avoiding junk miles. He didn't oppose streaks, though, and maintained one of his own--20 years of running a sub-five minute mile. But he said the recovery could just as well come in the regular activity of his day. 
I caught on early in my running to the intellectual side of training theories. I’m not scientific, but the variety of approaches to training has always interested me, and I’ve come to believe that I know how my training fits into my physiology, lifestyle, and desire . I started training to race on roads right away, loving the long fast runs that really drove my aerobic capacity. I was pretty fast from the start, another reason I have kept at it. But it felt good to step to the line knowing I was fit and fast, and that every race was another PR. 
Running for me has lately been an manifestation of my mid-life crisis. And I've hinted that this fifty to fifty at fifty project is another one. But I've never been one to let these kinds of alleged stages in life define me. I've sought hard to avoid those cliches, like the Senior Slump, the bitter and lonely divorced man, and of course the mid-life crisis. (I will admit that I have not always been successful, and in hindsight I see why those particular stereotypes form.)
This streak I’m on, all six days of it so far, is not about increasing mileage, or getting faster, but rather a way of expressing a particular discipline that I've often maintained is the impetus for my running. To get out every day, whether it's raining or cold or hot or I'm tired, or hungry, or whatever. These won't be junk miles, they'll be getting out miles, feeling my legs, getting blood moving through my muscles, sore or tired or not. The fitness will be mental.
This past Monday, the day I never run, was also a day when I continued to hobble around a little sore-legged in the morning from Saturday's 50k. I felt pretty good, though, except for walking up or down stairs. I didn’t ride to work because of the rain. 
It would be the first day of my streak. I over-dressed on the chilly, rainy day, and drove the less-than-a-mile to Cottonwood so I wouldn't have any hills but could just trot out and back on the flat creek-side trail. I thought 15 or 20 minutes--two miles that includes the wetlands boardwalk crossing I love so much--would be plenty. I felt surprisingly loose though, and ran the easy three-mile round trip. Bristol the Enduro-Dog was a little put out. He runs leashed on Cottonwood because there are so many other people, and he tugged more than usual at my poky pace.
I feel really motivated to run right now, and want to take advantage of that. My next scheduled race is Terrapin Mountain in March, a course with a pile of long climbs over 2000 feet. They come with their attendant downhills, though, and I want to feel fit enough to run those without fear. Forty to fifty miles a week from now until then will really give me confidence to run faster than last year, so far my fastest 50K. 

Terrapin Mountain

But I’ve been thinking that  running every day will mean I end up doing more drills that I should do. Thursday, for example, I ran the mile to the high school to run barefoot on the grass. I’ve been doing some barefoot striders, but I decided to just run easy around the field today. It took a lap or two of the parallel football fields for me to get into a groove. I figured I’d run one mile, but it felt so easy I just kept going another mile. I ran home easy and loose for a four mile total run.
All that said, I keep going back to one third of the equation that is this blog’s title. Facing fifty for me has not been like facing 40, or 30, nor even of turning 16 or 21, all of which I saw as mere chronology, just another social stereotype more than a real milestone--it doesn’t take any talent to have a birthday. 
So all of this focus on plans and runs in celebration of turning fifty surprises me a little. I’ll resort to an analogy: When I discovered I need reading glass, my children made fun of me. I said I wouldn’t feel self-conscious about glasses because they work. I’m not going to resist this feeling just because it seems like a cliche.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

"The wheels on the bus go round and round..."

“Just be a mover,” I repeated what the aid station volunteer had said as I worked myself up for the last three miles of the Harbison 50K on Saturday. 
It was a beautiful day, warming to about 65 degrees through the morning. The course winds and twists through the floodplain and bluffs of the Broad River just outside of Columbia.
After my good run last Saturday, I was feeling pretty confident about finishing the race. Then I ran on Thursday (my first miles of the week), and sure enough, 45 minutes into an hour run, my left calf tweaked, the same pinpoint pain I’ve been experiencing in my right calf that makes me limp.
“F***,” I yelled in frustration. What had been an easy jaunt through the darkening night turned into a hobble. I returned to my thought that I would volunteer at the race, or maybe run one of two loops.
Gordon, Carol B., Seth and I headed to Columbia on Friday evening. We stayed at a hotel about 5 minutes from the start, along with a bunch of other runners. When we got in the room, I noticed Seth had brought his Stick. I used it on my calf, which had been feeling okay all day, though still with the pinpoint pain. I’ll be purchasing a Stick ASAP!
The next morning I ran around the hotel parking lot a little to see how my calf felt. I could tell it was there, but decided I would start anyway. The first quarter mile or so is on a gravel road, and then the course turns onto a fire road for another quarter or so. Then it’s onto single track trails and some more fire road. Because the trails wind so much, we often saw runners coming towards us, except that they were on parallel paths. 
The first nine or so miles are mostly flat, but the twists in the trails beat up my hip flexors more than I expected. From 10-13 miles we ran the Spiderwoman and Spiderwoman II trails, both with steep climbs and descents, by far the roughest trail we ran, though all of it runnable. From the end of Spiderwoman to the start/finish area was more relatively easy trail.

I sported the Team Fox jersey. I have to say
that "shuffling" takes on new meaning for me,
and I thought of my dad several times during
the race. He has no choice but to finish, too.

I told myself throughout to slow down, to not be tempted to run harder because I still had a second lap to run. Turns out I was well trained for one loop, which I finished in 2:35. Ten minute miles felt very easy, which bodes well for running a faster time when I'm better trained. I had no pain in my calf, but knowing how clobbered I was, I hoped I could run under 5:50, my 50K PR. 
I held onto the 10-minute mile pace until the first/sixth aid station. I should add here that all the aid stations were well stocked with goodies, and the volunteers were fun and enthusiastic. I did manage to say something funny (at least to me) at each stop, one of my main goals in any race. 
At that point, about 19 miles in, I was almost totally beat. I never came close to dropping, though the conversation in my head included the thought, pushed aside by my desire to finish, to wipe out the previous DNF at the Kanawha Trace 50K in July, to push through the discomfort and to keep moving forward.
I knew that after the next aid station at 22 miles I would start into the tough part, but the thought just let me think I would be able to walk without feeling defeated. I ran when I could, walked when I had to. At the last aid station, I knew I couldn’t beat the 5:50 time. I was cramping in my hips when I ran more than a few minutes, but walking felt fine. I walked it in, and felt good about it, finishing in 6:22, a terrific training run for races later in the spring and summer. I held off the nausea throughout, at least until the end. Many thanks to Cam and Pam Long for helping out with that one! And many thanks to Dan Hartley for a very well organized race.
My mates did great, too. Carol B. set a new course record for the women, winning in 4:56. Gordon ran 5:07 in his first (last?) 50K. Seth fought foot problems to finish in 5:31. Full results here.
Tuesday 1/3 Sick--upset stomach.
Wednesday 1/4 Ukulele practice
Thursday 1/5 7 miles from Dairy Ridge Road. First night-run of the season.
Saturday 1/7 31 miles
Total 38 miles in 2 runs
Funny things: 
AS 1  They told me this was a 5K. AS 6 Thanks for being here.
AS 2 (Tag) It’s a relay, go! AS 7 “No, really, it’s a relay”
AS 3 “The Wheels on the bus” verse. AS 8 “The wheels are the bus are shuffling'"                    
AS 4 (Funny that I can’t remember.) AS 9  (I remember laughing.)
AS 5 (start/finish) Crazy bantering with everyone.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Week ending January 1, 2012: Running, with a pound of perspective

When I read my last post and think about this one, I think that my whininess was unwarranted. And more people commented to me personally about that post than any other. Maybe because I sounded vaguely suicidal or something. I will try to sound more balanced this time.
I had a great run on New Year’s Eve, after a week of feeling sorry for myself and limping around the neighborhood. I rested my leg for a full week, trying not to stretch it. Last Monday I went for a walk with my Gorgeous and Bristol the Enduro-Dog. A few houses down the street, I picked up into a light jog. Two or three steps in and the pinpoint pain in my right calf came right away. I even had to turn around and limp home to ice it. 
I have not yet mentioned in this blog that I commute by bicycle, and Tuesday happened to be one of the rare days I drive to work, this time because of heavy rain. That always multiplies whatever grim mood I’m in; being injured and missing my ride is about the worst thing I can think of. I did ride the rest of the week, and did the Friday Lunchtime Ride, a casual 8 or so mile social event that I get to do for work, this time on a B-Cycle. After work I drove down to Cottonwood Trail so as to avoid pavement and a downhill to test my leg on flat dirt. Three miles with Bristol felt fine, and I decided to go with my long run on Saturday.
I planned to do two laps on the groomed trails at Southside. I’ve run there a pile of times, and the ten-mile Southside Loop trail takes little effort beyond running--no route-finding, or steep climbing, or significant technical sections. I’d not run more than one lap at a time because I generally prefer longer more complicated routes. But my friend Jason has done it a bunch of times, and Seth did two loops last weekend, and I felt some mojo knowing that it was only ten miles, not very technical, and very familiar. I could stop at the car to fill up with water.
I started off easy, not wanting to push off hard and stress my calf. But immediately I felt better than Friday. I ran the loops in the opposite direction I usually run there, and appreciated the new views. The long section that follows the river was especially beautiful, and running upstream always feels a little harder than downstream. 
Bristol was frisky for both loops, his longest run by about three miles. He would have gone for a third, and I would have, too, if not for the race next weekend. We finished the two loops with even splits (1:29, 1:32); a five minute stop at the car made the whole run 3:06. 
I feel good about next week’s run, and plan to run as easy at the beginning as I did today. I have no time goals in mind, and will strive to say something funny at every aid station. I try not to worry about my calf. 
This morning I joined Seth and his wife Ashley for a few miles of the Hair of the Dog 10 miler that runs past our house. It was Ashley’s longest run, and she ran great for the three miles I ran with her. 
**She ran 1:38 on a hilly course, and apparently kept getting faster. Way to go, Ashley!

Total  26 miles
This past Monday, a high school friend of mine, whom I have not really kept up with, announced on Facebook that he had found a heart donor, and his transplant doctor was on his way to harvest the organ. He would have surgery that afternoon. Yesterday I got a nice note from another old friend who had nearly died this summer from a brain tumor. 
Those are real health problems.