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BridgePiedmontPark

Half-marathon training: Hanson’s week 4

The previous week’s log is here.

Week 4 has the same schedule as week 3 – five easy runs and two off days. After this, we get into the different tempo and speed work sessions.

The first part of this week was in Atlanta. I was in a new hotel because it was close to Piedmont Park, which turned out to be a great and scenic place to run. That plus the fact that the dew point in Atlanta was in the 50, 20 points lower than in Houston, made for great Monday and Wednesday runs.BridgePiedmontPark

Week 4 schedule:

PiedmontParkMap

  • Monday:off day
  • Tuesday: easy 5 mi - EASY RUN 5.2 mi in 48.03, 9:12 pace. Tried REALLY REALLY hard to run slow in the cool Atlanta morning, but with the dew point 20 degrees cooler than at home in sweltering Houston, it felt like running in the fall.
  • Wednesday: off day
  • Thursday: easy 3 mi - EASY RUN 3.27 mi in 29.27, 9:00 pace. Yeah, yeah, faster than my assigned pace. Next week at this time will be the first temp run, which will target an 8:00 pace. I was REALLY REALLY tempted to go for it this week, but my nephew who used to train quite a bit wisely advised me against it. I do not feel like I was running much faster than in Houston, and I’m sure the lower dew point and cooler weather helps in that regard.. My heels and achilles are getting a bit sore; I’m stretching them and my calves, and rolling my calves out as often as possible…I’m pretty sure it is just the extra miles.
  • Friday: easy 3 mi - EASY RUN 3.5 mi in 33:48, 9:39 pace. Back in Houston, woo hoo! Noticeable difference in the dew point, which actually bodes well for fall and winter races.
  • Saturday: easy 5 mi - EASY RUN 5 mi in 48:55, 9:47 paceHad a chat with my brother about the benefit of the “Easy Run” paces, and the fact that I need to slow down. A couple of quotes from Hanson’s to remind me about the benefits of “Easy Runs”:
    • “To understand why easy running is important, you must consider the physiological adaptations that it stimulates in muscle fiber development, energy utilization, capillary development, cardiovascular strength, and structural fitness.”
    • When you run at lower intensities, you burn around 70 percent fat and 30 percent carbohydrate. With an increase in pace comes an increase in the percentage of carbohydrates you burn. Your easy running days serve as catalysts to develop those slow-twitch muscle fibers and, consequently, teach your body to burn fats over carbohydrates. Slow-twitch fibers are better than fast-twitch fibers at burning fat because they contain greater amounts of mitochondria, enzymes that burn fat, and capillaries.Luke, Humphrey (2014-03-12). Hansons Half-Marathon Method: Run Your Best Half-Marathon the Hansons Way (Kindle Locations 730-733). VeloPress. Kindle Edition.
  • Sunday: easy 6 mi - EASY RUN 6 mi in 1:00:31, 10:05 pace). Finally got some rain, just in time for me to start this run. Drenched for the first mile, then it dried up.

I must comment on the Podcast I’ve started listening to during running. I’ve always listened to TodayInIOS podcast to keep up with iOS related topics, but Rob from that podcast listed his favorite podcasts, and Hardcore History has become my go-to running audio. Currently I’m listening to his description of WWII, a long four-part series called “Blueprint for Armageddon.” If you like history, I cannot recommend it more highly.

Plan total (5+3+3+5+6) = 22 miles

Actual total (5.2+3.3+3.5+5+6) = 23 miles

Next week, week five, starts something other than “easy runs” with a Tempo Run on Thursday. It is also the last week with Monday off, and since it falls on the Labor Day holiday, I’m good with that.

MargaretMitchellHouse

Stone_of_Farewell

Stone of Farewell re-read – Part One – Storm’s Eye

This is the DREADED MIDDLE BOOK of the trilogy. And young master Robert Paul Williams has left the appearance that the forces of “good” are in a heap o’ trouble, with King Elias defeating or beating most of his enemies:

  • the heads of Nabban and Hernystir are dead;
  • Naglimund has been taken down by Norns, leaving Josua and a scant few knights (with women, one old jester and a historian!) running through the forest, and
  • even though Simon smote the dragon down (good lyric for a rock song) and got Thorn, the sword they were looking for, Binabik and Sludig are prisoners of the trolls.

Tad dug a big hole indeed.

This book also moves its perspective around much more than The Dragonbone Chair, where of the 44 Chapters, 41 of them featured Simon. In this second book, the perspectives of Miriamele, Prince Josua and his group, Duke Isgrimnur, Maegwin and even King Elias get an opportunity to be the focal point.

The introductory post is here, if you are interested.

The re-read post for part I, Simon Mooncalf is here.

The re-read post for part II, Simon Pilgrim is here.

The re-read post for part III, Simon Snowlock is here.

This second book is 727 pages – paperback. Part One: Storm’s Eye goes from page 3 to 260.

A note on the obvious: if you have not read the book, since this describes said book…here there be spoilers!

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Even after you read the re-read, I highly recommend reading the books and Tad’s words. Click on the covers below to find them on Amazon.

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Foreword: Brother Hengfisk makes it to Naglimund from St. Holdenrud, and gets properly greeted by the Norns. Tad likes it when the smart mouth know-it-all monk gets his!

Chapter 1: The Music of High Places - Simon awakens (and, I note here for the record, that many of these chapters start with Simon awakening. Either the boy sleeps a lot or he gets knocked around a lot; probably a bit of both) in a cave, weakened after getting spewed with dragons blood after he smote the dragon down (yeah, liked it, used it twice). Binabik and Sludig are in a hole prison, and Jiriki is ready to leave. We learn a bit about Jiriki’s place in the Sitha world:

“I have no right or power to make the Qanuc do anything. Also, I have other responsibilities and duties you cannot understand. I only stayed as long as I have because I wanted to see you on your feet once more. My Uncle Khendraja’aro has long since returned to Jao é Tinukai’i, and my duties to my house and my kin compel me to follow.”
“Compel you? But you’re a prince!”
The Sitha shook his head. “That word is not the same in our speech as it is in yours, Seoman. I am of the reigning house but I order no one and rule no one. Neither am I ruled, fortunately – except in certain things and at certain times. My parents have declared that this is such a time.” (pg 6)

Simon, Haestan and Jiriki go to a meeting of the Qanuc/trolls at the Ice House (Chidsik Ub Lingit, the House of the Ancestor; when they said Ice House I thought beer and pool) where they address (or at least Jiriki does, since he is the only one of the three that speaks the language) the “Herdsman and Huntress of the Qanuc”, Uammannaq and Nunuuika. Jiriki requests a delay in Binabik’s trial for the “terrible crime” he has committed for two days so that Simon can recover enough to speak on Binabik and Sludig’s behalf.

Chapter 2: Masks and Shadows - Prince Josua, Sir Deornoth, Isorn and the others are retreating through Aldheorte Forest, pursued by Norns. Their group includes Vorzheva, Gurtrun (Isorn’s mother and Duke Isgrimnur’s wife), the Rimmersman Einskaldir, plus Towser and Sangfugol…and others that are wounded and/or dying. One of the knights, Ostrael, comes crashing through the forest, and Einskaldir quickly identifies that he is dead, possessed by one of the Red Hand Norns who would have killed them in their sleep.

Miriamele and Cadrach have found a ship and are almost to Perdruin, still unaware of all that has happened (to see where Perdruin is, see the very cool map here; you can click on the image to zoom in). There is quite a bit of back and forth between them, where first Miri trusts Cadrach, and then she does not. Cadrach is, as stated before, obviously more than he seems. They are making their way through Ansis Pelippé, the capital, during the Midsummer Festival, only to be threatened by a costumed “Death” with a knife, and take before Count Streáwe, Perdruin’s master.

Chapter 3: Oath Breaker – Simon is rousted out of the cave (and slumber again!) by Qantaqa, whom he has briefly forgotten (how could he?). Qantaqa leads him to the hole that Sludig and Binabik are in. Binabik will not speak out of despair, and Sludig thanks him and tells him he was “very brave on the mountain.”

Jiriki has to leave. Simon comes up with a plan (which ends up being that Binabik, who won’t speak, is honor bound to speak because he is the only one that can translate after Jiriki leaves).

Jiriki gives Simon the mirror from the scale of the Great Worm as a gift.

Binabik’s trial, and why he is twice called Oath Breaker: one – because he did not return to perform a ritual that his master traditionally performs (and obviously could not) (“the singing man Ookekkuq did not appear at the Ice House on the Winter Lastday, as has been the law of our people since Sedda gave us these mountains”) and two – because he abandoned Sisqinanamonk, youngest daughter of the Huntress, after proposing marriage (Binabik, you sly troll you!).

Just as he is speaking for Binabik (telling what they were really doing) Simon gets a vision from Geloë that tells him to seek out the Stone of Farewell.

Chapter 4: A Bowl of Calamint Tea – Guthwulf, the King’s Hand, begins to recognize that everything has changed with the end of the siege of Naglimund and how it was accomplished. King Elias is irritated that more people did not show on his victorious return.

“Of course,” the earl repeated, “but our…allies…were bound to cause rumors.”
Elias turned to Pryrates. The king’s pale brow was furrowed, as though he were genuinely puzzled. “We have acquired mighty friends, have we not, Pryrates?”
The priest nodded silkily. “Mighty friends, Majesty.”
“And yet they have served our will, have they not? They have done what we wished done?”
“To the exact length of your intent, King Elias,”  Pryrates shot a glance at Guthwulf. “They have done your will.”

King Elias is clueless.

Miri is with Count Streáwe, who keeps her as a guest/prisoner. A “religious friend” to whom the Count is in debt does not wasn’t Miri and Cadrach to go to Nabban just yet. So he keeps them in one of his houses. After she had been there a week, the Count tells her of the death of Duke Leobardis, making Benigaris the leader of Nabban. Three days later he tells her of the fall of Naglimund, though the story is that there were no survivors.

Those survivors are still in the forest. Prince Josua’s group numbers only nine. Deornoth determines that the Norns most certainly could have captured them by now, and they determine that they are being herded, attacked only when they move in a particular direction. Josua takes them that way, deeper into the forest, and the Norns attack, with Deornoth fighting and wounding one.

Miri and Cadrach are released and sent by boat to Nabban to the man the Count owes.

Chapter 5: Singing Man’s House – As Simon and Haestan try to determine how to rescue Binabik and Sludig, Sisqinanamook, who called Binabik oath breaker, asks them to help her rescue him. Troll love runs deep!!!  They get Sludig out of the hole, and Sisqi must convince Binabik to come out, saying that Simon’s story about the world changing events they were doing rang true. Simon convinces Binabik that they cannot find the Stone of Farewell without him. They head to Binabik’s master’s cave to get maps and documents which might help them determine what the Stone of Farewell actually is (besides the name of a good second book).

They get to Ooqequk’s house and Qantaqa the wolf is guarding it, greeting Binabik like a long lost friend. They search through the Singing Man’s collection of documents, taking some, and Sisqi finds one tied with the Singing Man’s knot, signifying a document of some significance. As they are leaving, they are stopped by a large party of troll guards, including the Herdsman and the Huntress (who happen to be Sisqi’s parents; star-crossed lovers they are).

The knot signifies that it is Ooqequk’s “death testament and the Herdsman opens it and reads aloud:

I must warn those who remain after me that I have seen the coming of a great cold darkness, the like of which my people have never seen. It is a dreadful winter that will come from the shadow of Vihyuya, the mountain of the immortal cloud children.It will blast the lands of Yiqanuc like a black wind from the lands of the dead, cracking the very stone of our mountain in cruel fingers.
My student, Binbiniqegabinik, I will bring with me on my journey. In the time that remains I will instruct him in the small things and long stories that may help our people in this foul time. There are other ones beyond Yiqanuc who have prepared lamps against this coming darkness. I got to add my light to theirs, small as it may shine against the storm that threatens. If I cannot return, young Binbiniqegabinik will come in my stead. I ask that you honor him as you would me, for he is eager in his learning. One day, he may grow to be a greater Singing Man than I. (pg 111)

This convinces the trolls to release them, and send them on their mission, with a guard of trolls led by Sisqi. They give them all parting gifts, giving Simon “a humble Qanuc knife”. And now his ensemble is complete with the cover of this book. Simon has his White Arrow, the sword Thorn, the mirror, his knife from the trolls…and where the heck is the blue scarf from Miriamele? And where do all the butterflies come in? As with the cover from The Dragonbone Chair, this awesome cover is from Michael Whelan.

Chapter 6: The Nameless Dead – Lady Maegwin decides to move her people further back into the caves, with her advisors thinking her just a bit mad.

Guthwulf sees the Hayholt changing, different rooms and walls. He goes to talk to Elias, hears someone with him in addition to Pryrates, and glimpses “a  smear of white face.” When he goes to confront them, only Pryrates is there.

Ingen Jegger, who apparently cannot be killed, makes his way to Stormspeak, to silver-masked Utuk’ku, Queen of the Norns. He asked to be killed for his failure, but she invades his mind, painfully pulling out what she needs. She gives him back his hounds helm and his name, putting him in a deep sleep to rest, telling him “…this time I will give to you a quarry such as no mortal as ever hunted.”

The Norn that Deornoth fought in Chapter 3 is apparently not dead. Josua tries to interrogate it, to learn why the Norns haven’t killed them. The Norn only tells them that “his fellows discovered all that we need to know” and “Your time – the time for all mortals, shifty and annoying as insects – is nearly over.” Einskaldir squishes the Norns head with his axe and they bury it. Josua believe that the Norns were trying to determine if they had any of the two swords that Elias does not have, and takes heart in that knowledge.

Chapter 7: Spreading Fires – Miriamele calls Cadrach a traitor and pushes him off the dingy into the water. She is convinced that he sold her to the Count and thus to whomever they are heading to meet. Miri has some despair, knowing that she can go home to Meremund, knowing that her father the King has “let such ugliness loose on the land.”

The person who has been controlling the Count turns out to be Father Dinivan, who works for the Lector, the head of the church. He too recognizes Cadrach as Padreic, whom he thought was dead. He tells her that Padreic and Dinivan were “…members of the same…order, I suppose you would say.”

Which leads me to think they both are (or in Padreic’s case, were) members of the League of the Scroll.

Supposedly there are seven in the League of the Scroll:

  1. Erkynland rep – Morgenes (now dead)
  2. Qanuc rep – Ooqequk (now dead) – passed his scroll and quill to Binabik
  3. Rimmersman rep – Jonauga (now dead) – passed his scroll and quill to Father Strangeyeard
  4. Warannamen rep – Tiamak
  5. Church rep – Father Dinivan
  6. unknown (I suspect Pryrates used to be a member, but wouldn’t they replace him?)
  7. unknown (I suspect Cadrach/Padreic, but, again, wouldn’t they replace him?)

Dinivan brings Miriamele up to date on some of the fun facts: Josua is still alive (but he doesn’t know with whom) and Benegaris actually killed his father Duke Leobardis to take his throne (and throw in with Elias).

A brief side track to Tiamak, who is asked/ordered by the elders of the Wrannamen to make the long journey to Nabban to express their extreme displeasure to Benegaris who is following King Elias’ lead and taxing them more and more. He has not heard back from birds he sent to Morgenes or Ooqequk (for reasons obvious to us readers but not to him). As his is getting ready for his long journey by releasing his birds (no one will be able to feed them in their cages) he finds one dead in the back of the cage, with a note from “his wise friend in Nabban” (who I assume is Father Dinivan, though he is not mentioned by name) asking him to go to the inn they have spoken of in Kwanitupul. It is signed with the symbol of the League of the Scroll.  Tiamak has to decide between doing what the Elders ask and doing what the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Trolls asks.

Another brief look in on Duke Isgrimnur, who is still following Miriamele, has made his way to Perdruin, where he is met by the same men who work for the Count. After punching one of them in the nose, they take him to see the Count.

Miri, Father Dinivan and Cadrach get into the town of Granis Sacrana on their way to the Sancellan Aedonitis (the Church HQ). They are almost kept out by the guards warning of Fire Dancers. They see the Fire Dancers talking of the Storm King coming, and being in their dreams…and then the Fire Dancers set themselves aflame.

Chapter 8: On Sikihoq’s Back – Simon evolves. Not just because he is growing up, but probably because of his unrevealed heritage mixed in with the things he has seen.

But moments like that were not what the dragon had brought him. Pondering as he waited for his damp gloves to dry, he looked to Binabik and Sisqi, saw the way they touched even when they did not touch, the long conversations that passed between the two of them in the shortest of glances. Simon realized that he felt and saw things differently than he did before Urmsheim. People and events seemed more clearly connected, each part of a much larger puzzle – just as Binabik and Sisqi were. They cared deeply for each other, but at the same time their world of two interlocked with many other worlds; with Simon’s own, with their people’s, with Prince Josua’s and Geloë’s…It was really quite startling, Simon thought, how everything was part of something else! But though the world was vast beyond comprehension, still every mote of life in it fought for its continued existence. And every mote mattered. (pg 175)

It’s the Force, Simon! Use the Force! Wait…didn’t that come decades after this book?

Binabik determines where the Stone of Farewell is…it is the “Leavetaking Stone”, Sesuad’ra. It was once part of the Sithi city Enki-e-Shao’Saye, the Summer City of the Sithi, which Jiriki showed to Simon in the mirror he gave Simon as a present.

Since Sesuad’ra is toward the south part of the forest, they continue trudging down the mountains in the snow. The winter is getting harsher, a present from the Storm King they assume.

And either because the Storm King is pushing south, or because the feel the pull of the sword Thorn, Giants follow the trolls and men out of the mountains and attack them. The Giants kill Haestan, who has been training Simon since Naglimund, shortly after he saves Simon from a giant’s club swing. Simon returns the favor by stabbing a giant in the back as it attacks Sludig, then jumping on it and stabbing it in the neck with a knife when the darn thing just won’t die.

“This is the first day in a thousand years that Qanuc and Utku – troll and lowlander – have been fighting at each other’s side, have been blooded together and have fallen together.” (pg 200)

Chapter 9: Cold and Curses – Geloê and Leleth find Josua and his band being herded by the Norns. She tells them once they cross the hill in front of them the Norns/ Hikeda’ya will no longer be able to follow (because on the other side is Sitha land). They walk through what used to be the ancient river of Re’Suri’eni which carried goods from  Da’ai Chikiza (the city Simon, Binabik and Miri row to in Chapter 27 of The Dragonbone Chair) to Asua (the Hayholt).

“This was a fairy river?” Isorn’s attention had been wandering. Now, startlement on his broad face, he peered around as though the streambed itself might exhibit signs of treachery.
“Idiot!” Geloë said scornfully. “Yes it was a fairy river. This entire land was – as you put it – a fair country. What sort of creatures do you think pursue you?”
“I….I knew that,” Isorn muttered abashed. “But I had not thought of it that way. Their arrows and swords were real, that was all I could think of.”
“As were the arrows and swords of your ancestors, Rimmersmanne, which accounts for some of the bad blood between your folk and theirs. The difference is though King Fingil’s reavers killed many Sithi with their blades of black iron, Fingil and your other ancestors at last aged and died. The Children of the East do not die – at least, not in such a time as you can understand – and neither do they forget old wrongs. If they are old, they are all the more patient for it.” (pg 207)

The Norns close in and Einkinsaldor runs ahead with his torch as a distraction, leading them all into the river bed which goes under the hill but getting an arrow in the back for his trouble. Deornoth is also wounded.

The narrative returns to Rachael the head of the maids in the castle. She thinks Simon died in the fire that killed Morgenes four months ago and still mourns him. She sees Pryrates and a plan begins to form in her mind.

Geloë tells Josua of her contact with Simon and her suggestion to go to the Stone of Farewell. She reminds them that pursuing the three swords is the only path they have. She also welcomed Father Strangeyeard into the League of the Scroll since Jarnauga  gave his pendant to Strangeyeard.
Miriamele, Cadrach and Father Dinivan finally get to the Sancretum, with Cadrach and Dinivan arguing divinity and belief in Usires along the way. Dinivan takes Miri to speak with the Lector (head of the church) to whom she tells of her experiences. He informs her that Pryrates is coming for a visit but does not know that Miri is there.

Chapter 10: The Mirror – Simon is mourning Haestan and cursing the gods and feeling small against battling the Storm King. Binabik, as always provides counseling for his friend. These types of self-examination from Simon as he grows, asking questions that we all tend to ask ourselves from time to time, connects the reader to Simon, even though he is in a fantasy.

“…I thought it would be like a story. That we would find the sword and it would be a powerful weapon, that we would destroy our enemies and things would be right again. I didn’t think any more people would die! How could there be a God who would let good people die, no matter what they do?”
“Another question I cannot be answering.” Binabik smiled, but gently, mindful of Simon’s pain. “And I cannot be telling you what is right for belief. The truths that become our stories of gods are faraway in the past. Even the Sithi, who live for eons, do not know how the world began, or what began it – or at least not for certain, I am thinking. But I can tell you something important…”
The troll leaned forward, touching Simon’s arm, waiting until his young friend had raised his eyes from the moss once more. “Gods in the heaven or in the stone are distant, and we can guess only at what they intend.” He squeezed Simon’s forarm. “But you and I, we are living in a time when a god walks the earth once more. He is not a god who intends kindness. Men may fight and die, they may build walls and break stone, but Ineluki has died and come back: that is something no one else has ever been doing, not even your Usires Aedon. Forgive me, because I am not meaning blasphemy, but is not what Ineluki has done a thing like a god can do?” Binabik gave Simon a little shake, staring into his eyes. “He is jealous and terrible, and the world he can make will be a terrible place. We are having a task of great fear and very great difficulty, Simon – it may even be that there is no possibility of succeeding – but it is not a task we can be fleeing.”
Simon tore his gaze from Binabik’s. “That’s what I said. How do you fight a god? We’ll be crushed like ants.” Another stone went flying out into the darkness.
“Perhaps. But if we are not trying, then there is no chance of anything but this antlike crushing, so we must try. There is always something beyond even the worst of bad times.We may die, but the dying of some may mean living for others. That is not much to cling to, but it is a true thing in any case.” (pg 242-243)

Sludig decides to take up Simon’s training. Simon also contemplates the riddle of the three swords.

Whether because of the changes wrought by the dragon’s blood (see the above quote in Chapter 8), or through some heritage of his parents that has not yet been revealed, Simon sees many things in Jiriki’s mirror. He is able to easier see the Dream Road than other mortals. Simon, missing his friends, decides to try and use Jiriki’s mirror to see Miri again. Instead he stumbles into Amerasu of the Sithi, searching for someone.

“I come to you a second time. Do not ignore me again! Please forget your ancient grievances, however justified. Ill will has stood too long between our house and that of Ruyan Vé.Now we have a common enemy. I need your help!”

Ancient grievances? The Ruyan Veé must be the third house (in addition to the Norns and Sithi) that was mentioned by Jiriki. Then Amerasu senses Simon, as does an enemy.

“You are traveling in places not meant for you,” the voice said. “You do not belong here. Who are you?”

A new voice spoke, harsh and chilling.
“Who is he? He is a meddler, Amerasu.”
The first face was now entirely gone. A gleam of silver swam upward through the mirror’s grey depths. A face appeared, all gleaming metal, expressionless and immobile. He had seen that face on the Dream Road and had felt the same sense of dread. He knew the name: Utuk’ku, Queen of the Norns. Try as he might to look away, he could not. He was held in an unshakable grip. Utuk’ku’s eyes were invisible in the mask’s black depths, but he felt their stare on his face like freezing breath.
The manchild is a meddler. Each word came sharp and cold as an icicle. As are you, granddaughter. And meddlers will not prosper when the Storm King comes…” (pg 251-252)

Simon, Sludig, Binabik and the trolls reach the place where the trolls will stay and the other three will depart to take the sword Thorn to the Stone of Farewell.

Here is a link to the next post in the re-read.

These re-read posts and other essays have been collected into an eBook, available by clicking on the image below. Please consider supporting this blog by purchasing the eBook.

Weather in Tomball

Half-marathon training: Hanson’s Week 3

Week 3 has the same schedule as week 2 – five easy runs and two off days.

The previous week’s post (week 2) is here.

Week 3 schedule:

  • Monday:off day
  • Tuesday: easy 4 mi - EASY RUN 4.5 mi in 42.03, 9:17 pace, with negative splits. Dew point was still above 75, but felt great after last week and after the one day of rest. I should enjoy it, as there are not that many in the program. Also turned off the WiFi on the iPhone, seems like that makes for a bit more accurate tracking (according to the InterWebs).
  • Wednesday: off day
  • Thursday: easy 4 mi - EASY RUN 4.1 mi in 41:14, 9:59 pace. Left at 8:30am to go with my wife and son (who walk) but it was much to late, already nasty hot at 8:30.
  • Friday: easy 4 mi - EASY RUN 3.5 mi in 33:48, 9:39 pace. I’m a slow learner, again left at 9am due to some work issues…ran in the shade around the lake, but still too damn hot.
  • Saturday: easy 4 mi - EASY RUN 4.5 mi in 42:13, 9:23 pace. Leaving before 7:30am makes a huge difference, negative splits with the last two miles at 9:12 pace…which is too quick for the training plan. A bit of beer the night before (Packers’ game!) but didn’t affect the work out.
  • Sunday: easy 5 mi - EASY RUN 5.25 mi in 51:48, 9:53 pace). Trying to run slow as per the training program, still did negative splits (the last two between 9:30 and 9:40)

The weather from this past week (past two weeks, in fact) has been nasty.

Weather in Tomball

Total recommended: 21 mi (4+4+4+4+5 easy)

Actual: 21.9 mi (4.5+4.1+3.5+4.5+5.25 easy), a bit less that last week.

Next week (week 4) is the last of the same schedule (5 easy and 2 off). I’ll be in Atlanta for part of it, and have booked a hotel near a park with some trails, so we shall see.

Review of Half a King by Joe Abercrombie at SFSignal

Review of Half a King by Joe Abercrombie at SFSignal


My review of Half a King by Joe Abercrombie has been posted by the wonderful, bagel-loving JohnD over at SFSignal.com.

An excerpt:

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REVIEW SUMMARY: The world-building is not as deep asBest Served Cold and The First Law trilogy, and there is a bit of a quick twist at the end but Half a King is a fast paced enjoyable read.

MY RATING

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Yarvi, second son of a King, born with only a partial arm, is heading for the ministry when both his father and older brother are killed. As King, he is quickly betrayed, and must survive on his wits as he plots his vengeance.

MY REVIEW:
PROS: Fast paced, with Abercrombie’s expected action and bleak world.
CONS: Not much new in the setting as the world is similar to Abercrombie’s other novels; ending has a convenient twist; could have been an awesome fantasy.
BOTTOM LINE: The world feels familiar, the revenge theme is present again, the ending a bit rushed…but if you enjoyed the worlds of Best Served Cold and The First Law trilogy, you’ll enjoy Half a King, the first novel in the Shattered Seatrilogy as well.

Joe Abercrombie’s world’s are harsh. There is no middle class, only Royalty and those associated with Royalty and the poor, the slaves, the wretched, living in the mud (many of them going “back to the mud”).

So what can Abercrombie do to make one of his world’s worse? He makes one of his lead characters handicapped. Not “Nine Fingers” handicapped but half an arm, unable to hold a shield, in the usual harsh Abercrombie-esque world where warriors rule. Then he makes him a King, and then a slave.

Yarvi is second in line for the throne. With birth deformities which keep him from being a warrior like is father and older brother, he is trained for the “ministry”, to be educated as an advisor to Kings. But when his father and brother are both murdered, he future changes direction and he must try to prove himself a warrior.

His shield was lashed tight about his withered forearm with a sorry mass of strapping, and he clung to the handle with his thumb and one stub of a finger, are already burning to the shoulder from the effort of letting the damn thing dangle.

He gets his butt kicked in the training ground, challenges his opponent again (who is the same age, but well-trained), then selects a champion to take his place. The champion promptly returns the butt kicking that Yarvi received.

“That was ungenerous, my king,” said Uncle Odem, falling into step at his shoulder. “But not unfunny.”

“I’m glad I made you laugh,” grunted Yarvi.

“Much more than that, you made me proud.”

Yarvi glanced sideways and saw his uncle looking back, calm and even. Always he was calm and even as fresh-fallen snow.

“Glorious victories make fine songs, Yarvi, but inglorious ones are no worse once the bards are done with them. Glorious defeats, meanwhile, are just defeats.”

Yarvi is smart but inexperienced, so it is little surprise that, on an invasion to avenge his father and brother, he is betrayed, attacked, and left for drowned as his jumps into the sea. Sold into slavery, he vows revenge and must use his wits to try to escape and seek vengeance.

Without spoilers, the rest of the book follows Yarvi, who was a protected part of the Royals/upper class world, as he works to survive with the dregs of the Shattered Sea world, as a less-than-two-armed slave on a boat that takes him to parts of the world he has only read about, meeting people from other lands.

ALthough this new series has similar themes and action as Abercrombie’s other series, it doesn’t have the depth in the world building. There were lots of characters (like the folks they meet in the snowy north) and parts of the world that were interesting but were touched on briefly as the story rushed on. Yarvi’s “oar-mates” and the other people on the ship are the deepest, most enjoyable characters in the book, but many others were not given much time on the page. At 350 printed pages, it is quite a bit skinnier than each of The First Law books (which were 500-600 pages each). And there is a bit of a twist in the end; maybe I’m getting slow in my old age and missed the foreshadowing.

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Read the entire review at the two-time Hugo-award-winning SFSignal.com.

Half-marathon training: Hanson’s week 2

The week 1 post is here.

Week 2 is five EASY RUNs with Monday and Wednesday off. This is the same basic schedule through Week 4. Week 5 adds a tempo run on Thursdays. Week 6 starts the “run 6 days out of seven” putting a easy run on Monday and sped work on Tuesday.

By that time, it will be September…and still too damn hot to be running.

How does heat after your running and pace? Some people down here claim not at all, and I see many of them jogging in the late afternoon when it is 95 degrees.

My brother the runner says other wise, and says it affects your pace quite a bit.

Here’s an interesting old article on it from Runner’s World:

Simply put, the dew point is the temperature at which water condenses. The closer the dew point is to the air temperature, the more saturated the air is and the less perspiration can evaporate and help the body cool itself, resulting in extra stress on the heart and lungs as the body attempts unsuccessfully to cool itself. Accordingly, the dew point provides a strong indicator of how you’ll feel running and a useful tool in predicting how much performance will be impacted.

DEW POINT (°F) RUNNER’S PERCEPTION HOW TO HANDLE
5054 Very comfortable PR conditions
5559 Comfortable Hard efforts likely not affected
6064 Uncomfortable for some people Expect race times to be slower than in optimal conditions
6569 Uncomfortable for most people Easy training runs might feel OK but difficult to race well or do hard efforts
7074 Very humid and uncomfortable Expect pace to suffer greatly
75 or greater Extremely oppressive Skip it or dramatically alter goal

There is a lot of information on the effects of heat and humidity at the site Over40Runner.com, and this chart on pace, which is lines up with the pace that the Hanson’s methodology suggests for easy runs…a happy coincidence:

Temperature Adjustment Adjustment for Humidity > 60%
55°F-60°F +5 sec/mi +10 sec/mi
60°F-65°F +15 sec/mi +25 sec/mi
65°F-70°F +30 sec/mi +45 sec/mi
70°F-75°F +40 sec/mi +1:05 min/mi
75°F-80°F +1:10 min/mi +1:45 min/mi
80°F-85°F +2:00 min/mi +3:00 min/mi
85°F+ Not Recommended

 

Week 2 schedule:

  • Monday:off day
  • Tuesday: easy 2 mi - EASY RUN 4 mi in 38:17, 9:30 pace, with negative splits in the heat. Got a late start so ran in the shade around the “lake” in our subdivision, which is quite a bit cooler. The MapMyRun GPS/iPhone5 always tracks paces faster here than on the gully/bayou…not sure why.
  • Wednesday: off day
  • Thursday: easy 3 mi - EASY RUN 5 mi in 49:37, 9:55 pace, again with negative splits. Again, I think there GPS tracking is a bit sketchy in certain parts of the gully/bayou run. Going to have to determine a way to test this out.
  • Friday: easy 3 mi - EASY RUN 4 mi in 39:08, 9:40 pace.
  • Saturday: easy 3 mi - EASY RUN 3.25 mi in 32:34 9:58 pace.
  • Sunday: easy 4 mi - EASY RUN 6.25 mi in a time different that what MapMyRun recorded (which was 51:41, 8:16 pace). The program paused and when resumed picked up the distance but not the time. This run was in line with the 9:40-10:00 pace that the program suggests for easy runs.

Total recommended: 15 mi (2+3+3+3+4 easy)

Actual: 22.5 mi (4+5+4+3.25+6.25 easy)

This week’s critter view is of a Egret, lots of them on the gully but they are usually not up on the path.

Next week’s schedule (week 3) is a total of 21 miles (5 easy runs, two off days).

June 2014 Map My Run

Half-marathon training: Hanson’s week 1

This is the kickoff week, and the schedule starts on Wednesday, which is always an off day (this is good as I EXCEL at off days). There are only three runs this week, all at the “easy” pace.

Since I’ve been running about 20 miles per week leading up to this, I plan on running a bit more than the 2 and 3 mile runs that are on the next two weeks schedule.

June 2014 Map My Run

June 2014 MapMyRun

Sunday, before this schedule started, ran 5 miles at 9:16 pace. A rare August cool front brought relatively low temperatures, so it was hard to run slow. I have a feeling that is going to be my mantra. Also, just as a reminder, most of these runs will be in Houston in August and September; that should help slow the pace down. This week’s quote from the Hanson guide:

With this continuum in mind, it becomes clear why running faster than you’re instructed to run compromises development. Not only do you miss out on the benefits the workout was meant to provide when you go too fast, but you also increase fatigue. The essential point is this: Paces are there for a specific reason. While some runners feel that paces hold them back, in reality proper pacing will propel you forward in the end. Fight the temptation to buy into the “If some is good, more is better” mentality, and keep in mind the specific goal of each particular workout.

Luke, Humphrey (2014-03-12). Hansons Half-Marathon Method: Run Your Best Half-Marathon the Hansons Way (Kindle Locations 1198-1202). VeloPress. Kindle Edition.

Week 1 schedule:

  • Monday: schedule doesn’t start until Wednesday - since the first two weeks of the schedule has Monday as an off day, I offed…and I did it splendidly.
  • Tuesday: schedule doesn’t start until Wednesday – EASY RUN 4.5 mi in 44:15, 9:49 pace. Hot and humid running at 10am after the cooler temperatures from the weekend; with this weather it will NOT be hard to run the east runs at the pace that the Hanson plan suggests. How hot and humid was it? It was so hot, this cheering section was waiting to see if I survived.

  • Wednesday: off. Did this one better than Monday!
  • Thursday: easy 3 mi – EASY RUN 4.0 mi in 40:36, 10:09 pace. Started out slow as Josh was coming with me for the first time. Since it was within the 1:30 – 2:30 min slower than tempo pace (which would make easy runs in the 9:30-10:30 min/mi pace range), kept it steady for four miles. I’m still convinced that either MapMyRun or the iPhone5S can’t see the GPS on the trail; when I run in the neighborhood at what feels like the same pace, it will cut a minute off the pace. But when I measure on the markers on the trail, the distance seems accurate (which means I am trusting who ever put the markers out there).
  • Friday: off – EASY RUN 3.0 mi in 28:38, 9:33 pace in the heat at 10am. Was supposed to be an off day, but (a)don’t want to lose any of the gains made in my two month trial period and (b) next week’s schedule Friday isn’t off.
  • Saturday: easy 3 mi – EASY RUN 4.0 miles in 38:54, 9:39 pace. There were helicopters buzzing around, I assumed there were there in case I passed out from heat exhaustion (80 degrees and 90% humidity before 8am…gotta love Texas) but they were responding to an Amber alert close by…which was resolved with a happy ending.
  • Sunday: easy 4 mi - EASY RUN 5.0 miles in 49:18, 9:52 pace; once again 80 degrees and 90% humidity. My sweat smelt of Stone Ruination IPA – going to have to adjust the schedule depending on Packers games the night before.

Total recommended: 10 mi (3+3+4 easy) but the scheduled didn’t start until Wednesday

Actual: 20.5 mi (4.5+4+3+4+5 easy)

Next week’s schedule (week two) is a total of 15 miles (5 easy runs, two off days). I plan on keeping to my 20 miles per week, and will match up with the off days.

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 10.24.04 PM 1

What Brett Favre means to Packers fans

I was born in 1961 and became a Packer’s fan shortly there after (reasons why at this link).

I split my time with the Packers into four “eras”:

  • Vince Lombardi, Bart Starr and Paul Hornung (1959 – 1967)
  • The Barren Wasteland (1968 – 1991)
  • Brett Favre, Reggie White (1992 – 2007)
  • Aaron Rodgers (2007 to now)

I do not believe any Packer questions Favre’s just announced induction into the Packer Hall of Fame, (which is a separate organization from the Green Bay Packers, BTW) or his jersey retirement. His so-called betrayal of the Packers (going to the Vikings), his constant retirement and un-retirement, and his other off-field antics pale to what he and others (Reggie White must be included) brought to Packers fans like me that suffered through the barren wasteland of Packer-dom that was the 70s and 80s. Favre was the leader of a group that had Packers fans expecting to compete for the Super Bowl every year, instead of just being lucky to make the playoffs.

If you need any more proof of Favre’s impact, my mom bought me a Favre Jets jersey…it may still be the only one in existence that hasn’t been burned.

With screenshots from Wikipedia, this is easy to explain:

Before Vince Lombardi, the Packers won six NFL Championships (1929, 1930, 1931, 1936, 1939, 1944).

The Vince Lombardi years

PackersLombardi

The year before Vince Lombardi became Coach (1958), the Packers had a record of 1-10-1. During his reign as coach, with Bart Starr, Paul Hornung and many others that grace the Hall of Fame, the Packers added five more titles (three NFL championships and the first two Super Bowls) and almost won the NFL Championship in 1960. With three MVPs and two Super Bowl MVPs, there was a lot to cheer about…unless you were ages 0-6 years old, like I was at the time.

The Barren Wasteland of Packer fandom

PackersBarrenWasteland

Right about the time I was able to truly root for a team (I was told I was one of the only ones in Texas subscribing to the Packer Backer newspaper., the Packers took loyal fans into more than two decades of futility: one division title, one playoff victory out of three playoff games…over more than twenty years. I didn’t start drinking (okay, I did like beer), but I started playing Rugby (okay, not really in response to that). It was a difficult time to be a Packers fan, even with 11 World Championships, a unique ownership structure and one of the coolest stadiums in the world. It may not be politically correct in this day and age, but backing a loser sucks.

Brett Favre

PackersBrettFavre

Truly, it wasn’t just Favre (whom GM Ron Wolf traded a 1st round pick for before the 1992 season). Reggie White (1993-1998) and several others had a lot to do with it. During Favre’s tenure with the Pack, we went from one division title in 23 years to 7 in 16 years; from an environment where it was a big deal to even make the playoffs to where it was expected; from one playoff victory to twelve playoff victories, including one Super Bowl victory and one Super Bowl that got away.

No matter if Packers fans feel betrayed by some of Favre’s late-in-career moves, his impact on the Packers history, changing from “hey look, we got into the playoffs” to “we expect to contend for the Super Bowl every year” cannot be denied.

Aaron Rodgers

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 10.24.04 PM 1

That mentality has carried over. Packers fans (myself included) still expect to contend for the Super Bowl every year. We are very fortunate to be able to go from one future Hall of Fame quarterback to another in Aaron Rodgers. In six season, five playoff victories, one Super Bowl victory. Rodgers currently has the highest career passer rating and percentage completion of any NFL Quarterback in history.

What did Rodgers learn from being Favre’s back-up for three seasons? Did he learn what to do, and/or what not to do? Only Rodgers knows, and I doubt he will ever tell. He is much less a gunslinger than Favre, and has only started six seasons with the packers to Favre’s sixteen. The accomplishments of the past six seasons are not Favre’s, but he certainly set the tone and expectations with Packers fans.

The Packers have won 13 championships and are primed to make a run at several more. Thanks for Favre (and Rodgers) we now expect it every season.

Half-marathon training - giving it another go

Half-marathon training – giving it another go

I’m starting my notes on yet another attempt at besting my half-marathon PR. The last two attempts have been thwarted by knee, achilles and assorted other issues. I’ve changed up a few things to compensate, and I’m using a running plan that’s different than ones I’ve used before, one that stresses not only more miles per week than I’ve ever run, but emphasizes the right pace (i.e., don’t always run at your race pace), a tactic that should work well for me.

The training program is an 18 week program, so I’m targeting the San Antonio Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon on December 7th. I’ve run this race twice before, but this time the course goes a bit further north and runs through Trinity University and some of my old stomping grounds, as well as still going by familiar landmarks such as the Alamo.

What’s different:

Hanson’s Half-Marathon Training Plan

I’ve utilized the typical long-run on Sundays plus tempo/intervals runs type of training plans in the past. There were all in the 20-25 weekly mile range (with an occasional 30). I usually ran them all at the same pace (except, of course, for the intervals).

Frequency

With the Hanson plan, you run six days out of seven. The past plans I’ve utilized have been 4 or 5 day a week plans, emphasizing the long run. While there are long runs in the Hanson training plan, it is engineered so that the long run is 25% or less than your total weekly mileage.

In order to see if my wheels would hold up to six times a week, in June I started doing that frequency for a few weeks, hitting 28 miles in one week. While it did wear my old butt out, it didn’t lead to any injuries (see the next section).

Mileage

This plan has three levels of suggested schedules: Just Finish, Beginner and Advanced. The Beginner is the one recommended for runners like me, who may have done a half-marathon but not run six times a week with this type of mileage. The Beginner track has mileage starting in the 20 miles per week and peaking at nearly fifty miles per week.

Pacing

There is an emphasis on the right pacing for the right type of training run. There are several great charts in the Hanson book concerning pacing. They split the runs into easy, long, tempo, strength and speed, in that order from slowest pace to fastest. The easy runs make up the majority of the mileage and the suggested pacing for these is 1:30 to 2:30 per mile slower that your target race pace. This is in order to train your body to run fatigued, and to help burn glycogen more efficiently (there is quite a nice “why do we train this way” chapter in the book which pulls it all together). Since my target is a sub 1:50 half-marathon, my target pace is 8 minutes, more or less, making the easy runs in the 9:30 to 10:30 pace. It will take a lot of mindfulness to slow down to that pace, and to keep all the paces in the range…as the Hanson method places a lot of emphasis on the right pace.

Injury Avoidance

Since I’ve been thrown off training multiple times in the last few years by a variety of injuries old and new, I’ve had to develop strategies (or I’ve actually had to listen to doctors for a change) to minimize these injuries.

Knee

I’ve had the ACL in my right knee replaced and had that knee scoped. During my last half-marathon two years ago, my “good” knee started hurting on mile 11. My ortho said I had a bit of arthritis in the left knee, possibly from over-compensating for the right knee. He suggested, among other things, changing my stride to be less heel and more fore-foot, and to change to shoes that emphasized this. I bit the bullet and started running in Newtons. They say that you have to start slow in Newtons, running only at most a mile to get your legs adjusted, and they were right. When I first started in them, I experienced a lot of soreness in my shins and calves. Now I’m on my third pair.

I’ve adjusted to a much shorter, quicker pace, lifting my knees more and coming down with my feet under me instead of reaching in front of me. Using this technique, I’ve experience no knee pain (knock wood), even when doing the six times a week experiment referred to above.

Achilles

When I’ve upped the pace to do speed work or intervals, I’ve twice had issues with the bursa sac in my heel swelling up, making running painful. The last time is happened, I went to an Airosti clinic. The clinician found a couple of tight knots on my calf, and when she loosened those (which hurt like hell), it appeared to relieve the pressure on the bursa sac. Keeping that in mind, I do a few things for my achilles and calves:

  • I use my trusty hard foam roller, and not only roll out my calf muscles, but if I do have a tight spot, I “sit on it”, leaving as much weight on it on the roller until that tightness releases;
  • I do a few toe raises off the curb at the end of my run, trying to stretch out;
  • When sitting at my desk, I will roll out my calves and the area around my achilles with a tennis ball and/or golf ball.

IT Band

Again, I’m spending a lot of time with the hard foam roller on both of my IT bands. I’ve only had issues with them one time, but once is enough; I roll them out at least once a day.

 

So that’s the attack plan. Week one starts this coming week, with some easy runs…but I got a jump with my experimental running, so I’ll put in a few more miles on the easy run days (which its their recommended way to add miles).

Re-reading MSandT

Re-reading Tad William's Memory, Sorrow and Thorn

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Dusk Before the Dawn

Dusk Before the Dawn

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