Monday, July 12, 2010

No Trespassing

Feeling inspired this past weekend to try something new/different, I decided to find a track nearby and try some interval work. While running a couple errands on Saturday I drove down to the nearest high school to check out the track. What I found was a very nice track, surrounded by a very unfriendly high fence covered with no trespassing signs and padlocks.

I walked the whole perimeter looking for a way in, but all entries were barred. I didn’t see any snipers nearby, but could only assume landmines were strategically planted as well. Decided it was time to retreat from this top-secret war zone, and drive to the middle school my son will be attending next year to check out the track there. After a lengthy walk I came upon a much less impressive track (think asphalt with some occasional rebellious grass growing out of scattered cracks), but an equally impressive fully-locked fence with more No Trespassing signs. Ummmm …. WTF? I’ll resist going off on a rant about how my taxes pay for both of these tracks, and how these are the schools that both of my kids will most likely be attending, and instead just say what a sad commentary it is that these places have to be locked down with threats of prosecution. I have to assume it’s either in response to past vandalism, or a function of liability and fear of litigation, but regardless it was greatly disappointing. I will no doubt be jumping one of these fences in the not too distant future, and hopefully won’t end up in running jail. I’m envisioning a Thelma and Louise moment as the assembled law officers chase me through the neighboring playground, past the tetherball poles and jungle gyms, ending with a dramatic slow-motion leap into the neighboring creek. Hopefully I survive the 2 foot drop.

So …. Change in plans for my Sunday run. Decided to try something else new, and do my version of a tempo run. This begged the obvious question …. What tempo? Much of what I read points to running your 5k pace, but I have a slight problem in that I’ve never run a 5k. With nothing to indicate otherwise, I chose to assume that my 5k time would be around 12 minutes, but if I ran that pace then I’d have to deal with all the world-record press, the angry Kenyans, and the inevitable investigation revealing my performance-enhancing addiction to little chocolate doughnuts. On a similar note I’m confident that were I to try and sprint 100 meters I would most likely go under 9 seconds. However, Usain Bolt won’t return my calls for a pay-per-view showdown. Chicken.

I went a bit more conservative and shot for around 2 miles somewhere between 7 and 8 minutes each. Started off with my usual 1-mile walk warmup (my offering to the please-don’t-make-me-any-more-injured gods), then managed the following ‘tempo run’:

Overall this felt REALLY good. My legs were angry at the end, but it was a ‘what did we ever do to you?’ angry rather than an injury angry. I found it really hard to throttle back the speed on the last couple miles after running at a faster clip than usual, which I guess is the point. I’ll definitely be doing more of these workouts as part of the training plan …. Which starts in a mere 6 days.

On an unrelated note – as I enjoyed my bowl ‘o cereal Saturday morning I was flipping through the channels and found one of the weekend versions of the daily morning ‘news’ shows (Today, GMA, etc.) where they bring in the b-team and stammer through the teleprompted chatter. When I flipped to one channel there was a girl at a piano singing a song and just KILLING it (in a VERY good way). I stopped and listened to the whole song, and was mesmerized. For reference, I’m not an American Idol fan, mostly because of the shows devoted to the folks who can’t sing and really shouldn’t be there. I get very embarrassed for people who embarrass themselves, and I find those shows painful to watch. I also take no pleasure in watching people fail, unless of course they are my sworn arch-enemy or are trying to sell Woody and the Roundup Gang to a toy museum in Japan. However, I will give all kinds of respect to someone who goes out there and really does a great performance, especially if it’s something acoustic that doesn’t get drowned by massive overproducing.

Anyhow, this girl was incredible, and that much more engrossing since it was just her and a piano. Her name is Christina Perri, and the song she sang is called ‘Jar of Hearts’. I downloaded it from iTunes and played it for my wife, who informed me that it’s been playing on the radio for a while, so as usual I’m a bit late to the party. That’s what happens when you only listen to talk radio in your car, and only listen to playlists on your iPod. In some ways I think the version I heard on TV was better than the iTunes download, but it’s still pretty darn good. Really an amazing and engaging voice. Not much of a ‘running song’, but still worth a listen.

In terms of running songs – I threw the iPod on random during my Friday run, and it pulled up ‘Turn to the Sky’ by the March Violets from the ‘Some Kind of Wonderful’ soundtrack. This is a textbook 80s tune, but it’s a GREAT song for running. Ended up listening to it a couple more times over the course of the run. Nice blast from the past – worth checking out if you’re looking for something new/different.


  1. I hate it when schools lock up the tracks, I have no clue why they do it.

  2. Haha! Your writing style makes me laugh! Thanks for the idea about flank steaks. Maybe I will like red meat afterall--I honestly didn't know there were so many different types or prep styles (seriously, I am cooking illiterate in the worst way!) The track around the high school where I live is so locked down, I am surprised they let the high schoolers get on it! Lucky for me, we have a community track. It also has those nasty clumps of grass coming up in spots and a few "speed bumps" to watch out for, but I can't complain.

  3. Gosh, that sign is so dramatic! I'm sorry the track workout didn't go exactly as planned.

    Congratulations on your tempo run even if Bolt isn't returning your calls!

  4. As you mentioned, your pace wained towards the end of your tempo run, which you may want to improve upon.
    Conventional running wisdom suggests a proportional increase in little chocolate donut intake.

    I hope that cop chase scene, in reality, is preceded by just asking for permission? Couldn't hurt!

  5. That sign is HILARIOUS! Ha! I would have jumped it and chanced getting shot! JK...I'll have to check out your tunes, I'm always looking for new music! glad your tempo run went well!

  6. I run EVERY Wednesday night at UC San Diego. It's a great track and a beautiful setting. One night, about a week before daylight savings, the lights never came on. When I asked the maintenance guy he said, due to budget cuts, they cut the lights. It rocked my world. So, I guess come fall I will be running the track with one of those lights strapped to my head. I'm serious.

  7. I totally agree with you about locked up tracks! It's ridiculous, sad and annoying and I encourage you to jump the fence. We're pretty lucky that the one that's within a mile from home is not locked (anymore), so we use it during our morning runs. Good pace on your tempo run! Thanks for sharing the info on Christina Perri. I have not heard of her, but I am also late to all things new and cool. I'll have to check her out cuz I need new tunes for my long runs.

  8. Hey there, thanks for stopping by my blog!

    I don't get the locked up track either - good luck jumping the fence! You may want to call and inquire about what the scoop is.

  9. I will have to check out the tracks near my place. I wasn't aware they locked them, crazy!

  10. lol, sorry my post was only of food and lacked in the running department!

    youre not late to the party, I havent heard of that song or the singer im going to youtube it...thanks!