Monthly Archives: March 2016


March 31st, Thursday

Left St. Augustine this morning for a long day of driving.  Heavy cloud cover from Florida to North Carolina, not a single break.  Luckily no rain. There were a number of slowdowns and stops along Route 95, very rare on a Thursday morning.   So, the projected seven-hour drive took nine hours.

Survived on those handy and tasty PB&J sandwiches.   We finally arrived in Durham at about 6 p.m., had dinner in room.  Now resting for an early departure  in the morning.  No swim…

My legs were and stiff while driving today, no doubt some of that DOMS.  I did not stop to check weight,  morning heart rate, or  l-Mad today;  loading car and closing condo.  But I do remember thinking as I took my first few steps this morning that my Achilles tendons felt rather good, maybe at  a 2 or 2.5 – better!

Back in New Jersey tomorrow.


Sayonara, St. Augustine Beach

Wednesday, March 30th              A stunningly beautiful spring day!

Covered 5.65 miles on the beach today in 80 minutes.  Lots of walking and slow running.  Did all the proper pre and post procedures.

AM heart rate was 57 BPM  -seems to be somewhat elevated.   I am not altogether confident of my counting procedure.   Counting for 60 seconds  is rather new to me .  For years  I used the 10-second count  with the multiple of 6 to get the full minute heart rate.    Focusing and Counting  for 60 seconds may be too much stress on this 73 year old brain.       I do not feel overtired.

Weight today  152 pounds after workout

I-Mad  Index  today 3.0    A little better

The goal today was to run relaxed, comfortable and enjoy the beach for the last time.   The beach was flat and solid and sunny with a Northeast wind very steady at about 15 mph.   I was determined to etch the scene on my brain and bank the sunshine  in my core.  I made no attempt at speed or pickups or surges.


However, as I was running along very comfortably and mentally blogging about my college running experiences once again,  I inadvertently picked up the pace until in the last mile I was running below 9 minutes.  This is a practice I can not recommend enough to anyone who might have it in mind to start running or walking or bike-riding for that matter to help traverse the minutes and miles that are needed to make those efforts worthwhile.   It does not have to be about your training.  Write the first chapters of that book you have always wanted to complete.   It can be on any subject in which you are an expert or thoroughly interested.   It could be fishing , parenting , woodworking , coaching,  teaching , or just a novel about your life or any other subject.   I seem to have stumbled upon a way to stay healthy and active while at the same time writing about the things that have always fascinated me and defined many segments of my life.   I am currently reading Garrison Keillor’s first book about Lake Wobegon.   I have always been captivated  by his style of storytelling.   As I read his prose I can picture him weaving those tales about those extraordinary , ordinary people of Lake Wobegon in his mind as he walked or jogged or rode his bike.    Just my image, no basis in  fact.

So, today we pack the car and return into Old Town for a final dinner before we head North in the morning.

Next next two days will be on the road blogging.

PS-  Ran with loose laces again today with minimal Achilles discomfort.

Add a little SPEED

March 29th Tuesday 6 p.m           Today was a hot, cloudy and humid day.  Ran five and a half miles on the beach.

Today’s weight -151 after running

I- MED 3.5 this morning   No change

Morning heart rate 56 BPM   –  okay

Set as a goal today to run some pickups in the middle of my run. It has been a while since I did any speed work.   So I heated,  put on my compression sleeves and set out to the beach.   Warm-up consisted of 23 minutes of walk and mostly light jog with sweats on.  The beach was very nice today with a pretty solid wind out of the Northeast.   After warm-up I stripped and headed South with the wind at my back planning to display some speed pickups with the wind helping me out.   Went South for 2 miles doing pickups, 75 strides with 40 at 5K pace , 20 at mile pace +  15 at Sprint space. This was a workout I had read about and tried with the Jackson Liberty cross country boys this fall. They seem to like it and it seemed to have a positive effect on their performance.  I like it!  Turned around at 2 miles and headed back into the wind.  I tried to do pickups at 8 minute pace going back. With my brain blogging ,  I managed to run more pickups than I expected at faster pace than I had hoped.   During the run I had some Achilles discomfort and had to focus on proper foot strike throughout.  But at the 2-mile mark I entered that dangerous zone  I spoke about in the last post.  This I am calling the Perceived Invulnerable Zone or PIZ.   In this Zone the runner feels as though nothing can stop him.  There is no pain and therefore,  the runner concludes there is no danger.   However, it has become my belief  that this is the most dangerous time for injuries to occur.  So, I recommend that the plus70runner  be particularly  aware and careful in the PIZ.

I managed to complete 14 pickups today with paces ranging from 6 minutes  to 8 minutes per mile . That is the most surges I have ever done.  I finished the run at 120 BPM heart rate.  That is not very high as I have finished runs much higher than that in the past.  I consider that an indication of improving aerobic strength.   One note that I failed to mention in  the previous blog concerning that 7 mile run.   In an effort to alleviate the discomfort in my achilles I loosened my shoelaces considerably during that run.   I tend to lace them up pretty tight.   But on Sunday I ran with my shoes a little bit loose.  I was happy with the effect on my achilles tendon,  but I don’t know if it is related.  Today I did the same thing with very loose laces and once again had minimal Achilles discomfort.   I don’t know if this is cause effect or simply  coincidence,  but I’m going to continue this practice and try to monitor the results.  After workout today I just had my chocolate milk, ice  and my cocktail ,  and we are getting ready to go to swing dancing tonight.  I consider this to be a very positive and successful workout,  but I have a feeling that I am going to be experiencing delayed onset muscle pain by Thursday.  DOMS  is the abbreviation for that condition, especially prevalent in older folks,  that muscle soreness occurs 48 to 72 hours after exercise rather than in the first 24 hours.   By Thursday morning we will  be on the road .  I expect that on Thursday and Friday I will get  very little running done because we will be driving home to Jackson, New Jersey.   I hope I can get into the pool in New Durham where we plan to spend Thursday night. Either way I will probably wind up with two days off the roads and give my tired legs a good rest.   I will try to complete some positive miles tomorrow, Wednesday,  as we pack to head on the road.

I’m very happy with the outcome of this two-month stay in St. Augustine this winter.  I got started on this blog and I believe that my running and training has stepped up a level as a result.

Lazy day off

20160309_135716Monday,  March 28,  sunny , 84,  humidity 70% ,   Nice day.

Legs  a little bit sore, not a surprise after a 7 mile day.

Morning HR 58/9,  a little elevated

I-Mad  3.5 –  a little better       Index of Morning  Achilles  Discomfort

Weight  152

Not much to say today because I took the day off.   Elevated heart rate a good excuse for a rest day.   The days in St. Augustine are getting short.  We leave early Thursday morning.   I am already missing the beach! ?

Easy Easter Afternoon

March 27th, Easter Sunday ,warm and cloudy, humidity 97%

Weight after running today 150.2#  lowest weight to date

I- Mad this morning =4

Base heart rate 54 BPM holding steady

Happy Easter running lovers.

Today’s workout was a total of 7 miles. 2 miles  warm-up plus 5 miles in 57.32

After a good night’s sleep of about 9 hours and a relaxing morning I set out to run with very few expectations. The goal was  to just run slowly and recover with emphasis on proper foot placement, short strides and steady belly breathing.  I preheated, put on my compression sleeves and my new argyle socks and set out.  Walked for 4 minutes and started jogging very slowly with sweats on for what turned out to be about 2 miles,  very comfortable. Strip down and start on a run. Manage 5 miles with very little distress of any kind. Created a full blog in my head about my disappointing college running career. Very therapeutic.  But the run was very nice. My Achilles had no distress as opposed to the 4 ranking on my I-Mad Index this morning getting out of bed.  This is a good sign I think.   Afterwards iced my legs in the pool for a while and actually went for a nice swim, that was very refreshing.  Seven miles is the longest workout I have done to date.  I am surprised to have done that today.   I think blogging totally distracts me and makes the miles go faster. So after swimming, had chocolate  milk,  ate some pizza and enjoyed my green tea/tart cherry  cocktail.   Also iced my achilles and calves just as a precaution.

Workouts seem to  be getting stronger and,  fortunateIy,  I am feeling very well.  I’m wondering if this will transfer to improved 5K performances.  It would be nice.  Don’t have one scheduled but might start looking for one in the near future.

Happy running  my friends.

Back on the beach

Saturday, March 26th about 7 p.m

Morning heart rate 54 BPM

Weight 15 4#

I’m at 4 on my new I-MAD index.

We have a lot to talk about today.

I-MAD equals 4.  This is a new index I have created to measure the discomfort in my achilles tendon each morning so that I have a running record. The amount of discomfort that one feels upon taking the first 10 to 20 steps after getting out of bed in the morning is a very good indicator of the extent of the Achilles tendon injury.   Two years ago I had done some extreme damage to both my achilles tendons.  I could barely walk when I stepped out of bed in the morning.  It was very painful .  I would classify it as an 8 on my new scale. I visited the Rothman sports clinic in South Jersey and was prescribed six weeks of a specialized treatment and rehabilitation to  get it under control.  My obsession with it at this time is understandable.  I don’t want that to happen again.  So I created this new Index of Measurement of Achilles Discomfort.  It will be added to my training log blog each day.   On the index  0 represents no pain at all, 10 represents  unbearable  pain.  I will not be happy again  until the index is at 0.

So, with my morning heart rate steady at 54 BPM for 2 days, I decided I was ready for a workout on the beach.  There was a total cloud cover and a gentle breeze although the humidity was 94% . Preparation was lots of heat, compression sleeves and 25 minutes of warm up, walking and jogging a total of about 1.9 miles with sweats on.   Stripped down I set out on what I hoped would be a 5 mile run.  Because my achilles tendon was sending me messages of dull pain, I decided to cut it to four miles during the run.   It was a comfortable run with each mile time being faster than the previous.   Aerobics were fine thanks to Belly Breathing, and muscles were fine thanks to a day off.   By the end of the run my  tendon was not  aching at all. That is kind of a tricky message from my body I think ,  because it does not necessarily mean that things are all well.  I think that the run was probably still having a negative effect on the Achilles but,  because I was so warmed up and blood was flowing to the tendon, the pain had subsided.   It would not surprise me one bit if this was the reason why I got into so much trouble 2 years ago.   I was running through the pain to the point of no pain, and then pressing on.  Maybe I was damaging my achilles at those times.  Hopefully, I have learned a lesson there.

I immediately soaked my legs in the cold water of the pool and had a short swim.  I am not experiencing any pain as I write this post. But tomorrow morning will tell the story. I was generally pleased with the workout because I was able to drop the mile time for each segment. Here are the splits;

10:56    10:14    9 :44    9:07     I was working hard on the last mile to try and break nine minutes , but it just wasn’t there today.  All in all a pretty productive workout.

Followed up with chocolate milk, a banana,  a large salad and my cocktail of green tea, pure tart cherry juice and a spritz of lemon.

Now enjoying  a DOGFISHHEAD  60 MINUTE IPA while Villanova beats Kansas.

Bonnne Nuit






Heart Rates & Duck Tales

Friday ,March 25,  late evening. Today was a warm day but cloudy and occasionally stormy throughout.

I took the day off today again.  It’s that whole listen to your body plan.  Last night I stayed up till 1 a.m. because I got caught in The Bourne Identity.  It is one of the movies you can’t get out of once you get into.  But I did sleep for 11 hours not rising until noon today.  That is probably the longest sleep time I’ve had since arriving in Florida.  In a discussion with Rich Refi on the phone last night I had to admit to him and myself that had not been monitoring my heart rate each morning.   He and I both agree that this is the key predictor of when an athlete is overtraining.   As soon as I began complaining about being overtired, that was the question he asked.  My answer was no.   So, duly chastised,  I have begun today to take my puse rate  each morning when I wake up.  It will now be included with my Daily Post.  This morning it was 54 BPM.  That has been my heart rate  for all the years that I have taken it. The theory is that if an athlete’s base heart rate rises for a few days in a row, that as a sign that he is not fully recovering from his workouts. The prescription is rest. So today I made the decision to swim in the very lovely pool that is right outside our window.  It is 7 weeks that I have been looking at the pool but the water has always been too cold I thought.  Today I decided, cold or not ,  I was going to swim.   I probably swam for 20 minutes .   For the first 10 minutes I had to share the pool with a wild goose who seemed quite disturbed that I was invading his pool.  He finally flew away and I completed  my swim. So that was the extent of my workout today .  I hope that my body feels better tomorrow.   I’m anxious to get a happy run back!  The days in Florida are growing short and the weather for the next few days is predicted to be mostly rainy with storms.  I hope the spring weather is coming to New Jersey.

History 2 – High School Daze

Schoolboy RobbyThe more I think about it the more I believe that I could write about high school endlessly.  However, there are three themes that dominate my memories of high school.  First, endlessly laughing and laughing and doing stupid stuff with the guys.  From the Lexington Ave. gang to all the new friends I met in high school, it was a nonstop ball.  I have no idea how the poor Sisters survived.

Next there where the girls.  I was equally attracted to, mystified by and  totally terrified of the pretty girls at st. Al’s.  You’re looking at a guy who was an altar boy through 12th grade and  went to Confession every Saturday,  unfortunately with nothing to confess.

But most of all there was running.  Running dominated everything.  I could not wait for practice at the end of every day and for the next competition.  In 10th grade I made Varsity cross-country.  Training with Kevin Hennessy , who  had replaced his brother Brian as the running alpha male in the area, forced me to get better and better.  With Eddie and Jack Healy and Richie Brown we won all the Championships.  Next year Eddie graduated and joined the Marines.  My childhood buddy, Richie Graham,  joined the cross country team for the first time in 11th grrade.  Richie was an All County basketball star.  Kevin and I dominated, and with Rich’s help we again won the major championships.  In Spring at the Penn Relays I was offered a full scholarship to run at Seton Hall by Coach John Gibson.  I had  run the 3/4 mile leg of the Distance Medley Relay again, this time in a pretty memorable 3:18.  Now, that’s pretty average today, but in 1960 it was pretty solid. That year Al Adams of St. Michael’s in Jersey City anchored the Distance Medley to win the Championship of America.  He was awarded High School Athlete of  the Meet for running a 4:23 mile.  Today that is considered pretty average too.  I’m certain that a good deal of Coach Gibson’s offer was due to the fact that John was running at the Hall at the time , and Coach Gibson lovedJohn!  Nevertheless, I was getting faster and  sitting on top of the world.  Summer after jr. year I trained harder than ever to prepare for my senior season. Summer training was not as common back in the 50s, so I think that gave me an edge.  By this time Willie was also running Varsity cross-country and along with Cliff Sprague, Richie and Billy Marino,  Pete Doody and Kenny Beil, we again won a number of championship titles.  I had a dream senior season winning City, County and Catholic Conference titles. I broke all of Brian and Kevin Hennessy’s records , set a new course record at Lincoln Park and was selected Runner of the year by the legendary sports writer  Ed Grant.  I was flying high and ready to conquer the world.   Next was Seton Hall University and probably the Olympics.

Now, the reader might have noticed that  there’s no mention in this entire High School discussion of academics.  That is actually because I don’t remember anything about academics in high school at all.  I must have learned some algebra and how to diagram some sentences and maybe even some history and English literature.  That is because I actually do know some of that stuff.   I think  a comment by my brother Eddie helps too explain a lot of this. He told me one day, “The only things I remember from any class in high school are the things my teachers told me about themselves.”  I have tried to remember that during my 35 years teaching in High School.  I took every opportunity possible to tell students about things going on in my life. Not personal things, but unusual things like about my dog chasing  a skunk or my car catching fire in the driveway.   And Eddie’s words come back to me everytime I meet a former student and they tell me,  “Hey Mister O,  remember that story about your dog chasing skunks ? That was hysterical!”  Hardley ever does the conversation turn to the War OF 1812 .

Slow blogging

Good morning– It’s Thursday, March 24th at 9 a.m. 70 degrees, clear and calm. Beach pretty.

There are plenty of strollers, dog walkers, Runners and cyclists along the surf today. I arrived with unhappy muscles at 9 a.m. I was greeted by a cute little autistic boy digging in the sand with his parents nearby. He was responsive, communicative and interactive but all at somewhat low levels. I found out his name was Kobe. We talked about sand and Sun for a while with his parents interpreting when I looked confused. I asked Kobe if he would watch my sweats while I ran and he agreed.

My workout was a totally different matter. It began with a 10-minute walk. I started to jog but after about a minute stopped because of uncooperative muscles. I continued walking with waning confidence that this was going to be a productive day. I stripped down and reluctantly began my daily run while Koby watched my sweats. I decided to go shirtless today to bank some sunshine for the upcoming trip to the north. What followed was 4 miles of very uncomfortable running. My muscles never fully cooperated and my stride never felt smooth or open. Each step was a struggle. This is somewhat confusing to me because I completely took the day off yesterday, and that usually results in springy legs. No Spring today. My only other explanation is that possibly my body is still adapting to my new training level. I am confident that the last 7 days have been the most strenuous of my running career. I thought that one day off would be sufficient recovery, but my body tells me something different. I probably will repeat many times, because it is one of the key purposes of this blog, that listening to one’s body, especially among +70runners, is an absolute necessity for survival. So, I trudged through 4 more miles in 49 minutes surviving only by writing this blog in my head along the way. When I got back to Kobe and his parents my sweats were still secure. I played with Kobe for a few minutes. Then I told his parents what a lovely young boy they had and how lucky he was to have smart and loving parents. They seemed pleased. I said goodbye to Toby, and I hope I will see him again before we leave. So, even though the workout was kind of gruesome, it was a nice morning at the beach.

History – How it all started

My first memories of track and field are of my older brothers John and Eddie running in track meets at Persian Field in downtown Jersey City. I don’t know if I ever ran there, but I do remember that they were very good and came home with medals and ribbons. My brothers are John, Eddie and Willie. Everybody called me Robby. To this day nobody in my family knows who is “Bob” the adopted name that I was given as a track runner and coach. John was always John. However, there is a family legend of the Jersey City street name for John, Chico. The origin of Chico has never been explained. John was a type A,h first born child. He was as straight as an arrow and as tough as nails. Those qualities probably helped him become an outstanding quarter mile runner in high school. Running 51 seconds for a 440 in the mid-fifties was enough to earn John a partial scholarship to Seton Hall University under coach John Gibson. He entered Seton Hall University in 1957 as I entered st. Aloysius High School as a freshman. Eddie, entering his junior year, was also on the track team. So it seemed pretty much determined that I would be joining the track program as I entered High School. It turned out I was a pretty good distance Runner. Legendary coach Bob Short, who had produced many quality distance runners over the past 10 years at St. Aloysius, seemed to think I had talent. Coach Short is the first adult I ever remember calling by a first name. He told us to call him Bob. He called me Bobby.

Two key events I remember from freshman year set the stage for a lifetime in track and field. I finished in second place in the Freshman division of the North Jersey Catholic Track Conference Championship in Lincoln Park. Bob and my brother Eddie were both very impressed with that performance. Their words made me feel very important, maybe for the first time in my life. I was going to be a cross country star like Brian Hennessy, the reigning city and county cross country champion from St. Al’s!

The other event was the surprise that in the spring I qualified for a spot on the distance medley relay team scheduled to compete at the Penn Relays at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. This was a huge deal. As a fifteen-year-old I had never been away from home overnight or stayed in a hotel. This was kind of a culture shock taking a trip to a big city with the team. There were too many new experiences that weekend for me to list here. If anyone would like to hear them all, leave me a note and I’ll write a separate post. But the one event that I have said changed my life occurred at the stadium, Franklin Field. My race itself, three-quarters of a mile leg on the distance medley relay, was unmemorable. I was so overwhelmed by running in a large stadium in front of probably thirty thousand people at the time I could not even absorb it. But later that day I witnessed the St. Francis Prep High School mile relay run the first-ever sub 3:20 mile relay to win the
Championship of America. By then there were more like fifty thousand people in the stadium who were chanting wildly as this team of four boys took a Victory lap around the Franklin Field track. That moment is embedded in my brain. I was hooked for life.