Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Training Continues...

It was a good week for running. I did 22 miles in four days of running, and am feeling pretty good. It was rough getting started, though, because the race took a little more out of my legs than I thought it would. However, when I ran eight miles on Saturday, I purposely took my time, and thoroughly enjoyed it. The trail was wonderful, and the weather was perfect. Here is my Nike+iPod screenshot (click to enlarge):

I really like the way the system tracks your runs. As you can see, you can not only see run statistics, but also name your runs so that you have a chance of remembering them six months or so down the road. My eight-mile run on Saturday is highlighed in that photo. You can compare recent runs to the best runs you have made, which is also a very useful feature.

My sister has also challenged my brother and I to a contest through Nike+iPod. On the website, you can issue a distance, calorie, speed, or time challenge with runners all over the world. The challenge here is won by the first sibling to run sixty miles. Here is how a challenge looks on the website:

I am winning (at least for now). My sister is a top-notch physical education teacher, and despite having had a baby about eight months ago, will likely give me a run for my money here. I can only hope the weather in upstate New York is so horrible that she is held captive indoors! :)

Stay tuned for updates!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Ride to Chester, Illinois

It was a beautiful day today, so I decided to hop on the bike and take a ride somewhere. I have a book called Pop Culture Landmarks by George Cantor, which shows interesting spots to visit state-by-state. I found that the closest Illinois landmark to my home was in Chester, Illinois. Chester is the birthplace of Elzie Segar, who created Popeye. There is a statue of him in town. On the way, I stopped for a couple of pictures at the Kaskaskia River (a tributary of the mighty Mississippi) in Evansville, Illinois.

The Popeye statue is right near the bridge into Missouri. I took a couple of shots of that, also.

On the way back, I decided to get some shots at the local Fire Departments. Since it was Sunday, none of the stations were open (since these are not professional departments), but I got some good outdoor shots!

See the pictures here!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

2007 St. Patrick's Day Parade Run

The St. Louis St. Patrick’s Day Parade Run has been going on in the ‘Lou for twenty-nine years. The run took place in downtown St. Louis March 17th, 2007. After having beautiful 65+ degree days last week, we suffered through a 33 degree morning at the start of the race. Brrrrrr! Not only did I run today, but was also I celebrating my two-week anniversary of being cigarette-free! I didn’t post a great time (approximately forty minutes), but the start was slow, so I can’t complain too loudly. I was just glad they started us so I could warm up! :^)

A nice touch at the end of the race (since it was sponsored by Michelob Ultra) was an ice-cold draft cup of beer. I must say the idea of drinking a cold beer before the run was absurd. My hands were shaking so badly I could barely pin the number on my chest! However, it definitely hit the proverbial spot after all was said and done!

I look forward to my next race, which will also be in downtown St. Louis. I am running in The Spirit of St. Louis half-marathon in a month. Back to training!

See the pictures here!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Training: Week One

Well, my first week of training for my half-marathon and marathon is complete. I ran four miles on Monday. Then, three miles on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Friday was my "off-day", and I ran a 10K (6.2 miles) on Saturday. I didn't break any speed records, but I was glad to see that I could run fifty minutes straight without too much difficulty. Yeah, that is right... It took me fifty minutes. HOWEVER, to be fair, I ran into my postman on the trail, whom I hadn't seen in quite some time, as he has been off on injury leave. I stopped to chat with him, and that's what made me so slow. :)

Here is my run list for the week on NikePlus:

Nike Plus

Have I mentioned how much I love that device? The freedom to run wherever you like and have it still peg accurate miles, as well as the reporting, makes this a killer iPod app.

The trails in Belleville which parallel the Metrolink tracks are nicely set up, beautifully paved, and well-maintained. I feel lucky to live so close to them. They make for excellent running trails, and serve as great bicycle trails as well. Since Sundays are my "cross-training" day, I will be hitting the trail with my Cannondale R300. I also plan on doing some off-road trails on my Trek 4300 WSD. It is going to be a fun summer!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

My New Snow Corn Snake!

This is my newest baby. She is only about five months old and doesn’t have a name yet. I will have to come up with something. Any ideas? :) She is my first snake, and she is adapting well to the new vivarium. I am adding more branches for her to climb on when I get the new chameleon cage straightened out.

The Snow Corn Snake (Elaphe guttata guttata) combine the amelanistic and anerythristic type "A" traits, causing them to lack both red and black pigment. Corn snakes make excellent first snakes. They are very inexpensive and are easy to care for, only requiring a feeding once per week. She eats pre-killed small mice which are kept frozen until needed. FYI, I don't kill the mice myself. They are humanely euthanized with CO2 by the mouse breeder when they reach the appropriate size.

Click here to see her pictures!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Cigarettes: Out. Running: In!

I picked a bad habit back up a couple of years ago, after having quit for a few years... Smoking cigarettes. I had been smoking on and off for a while, but about two years ago, I became what I consider to be a "regular" smoker. Though I still ran 5Ks on a regular basis and tried to keep fit (for myself as well as my job), both my performance and endurance were beginning to suffer.

So, on March 3rd, 2007, I smoked my last cigarette.

I don't really miss them yet. I know that I am just through the gate, and that it is not going to be easy, but it is something that I have committed to, and I want to stick with it. There are a myriad of reasons to quit. Health reasons, such as emphysema and lung cancer. Money, as cigs have gotten expensive the last few years. Having your hair, car, clothing, breath and fingers smell like smoke is just awful, too. I am trying to keep all of these things in mind as I am going through this.

One thing which has helped me is something I mentioned briefly above... Running. I picked up a Nike+iPod as a "quit smoking" present to myself, and it is amazing. I have distracted myself from thinking at all about nicotine by just putting one foot in front of the other. I have run about fourteen miles in the last four days, and have decided to train for a half-marathon in a short while, and complete a full marathon by the end of summer/early autumn.

The half-marathon I am interested in attending is the Spirit of St. Louis Marathon/Half-Marathon on April 15th (Tax Day). My training will have me at ten miles the previous weekend, so I don't think that 13.1 will be too bad.

So, about this training... I went to this site to get a basic training schedule to have me ready in eighteen weeks. I will have to modify it slightly to allow for the half-marathon, and also because the marathon I want to run is in September, though my training will have me "race ready" by August. The marathon I am interested in attending is the Lewis & Clark Marathon.

With the distraction of running, keeping off the cigarettes shouldn't be all that hard. Wish me luck!

P.S. - If you are a Nike+iPod user and wish to run challenges against me, please let me know!