Fun Fact: This website is considered "adult content" at my work. I used to post on the Loop semi-regularly but then IT blocked the site, and well excuses...and here we are.
Quick background: This was my second marathon. My first was Arizona RnR Jan 2018 and I death-marched to a huge 28 min positive split, finishing in 4:38 (temp was 70’s and while I trained well, I did not fuel well).
I’ve been working with Coach K for about 3 years now, since I returned to running after having my son. She’s a friend and coworker so I’m spoiled a bit by talking to her about running almost daily and she’s able to tweak my plan accordingly. She’s had 9:40 as MP for all my workouts since Sept. My goal for the race was first and foremost to have fun and not die like I did at Arizona. Secondly, I thought I might be able to run somewhere in the 9:50-10:00 range but this was never really my focus. CIM had pacers at 4:05 (9:21 pace) and 4:20 (9:55 pace); 4:05 would be too quick so I planned to start with 4:20 and go from there. I will say training went great. No sickness, no injuries, no missed runs, workouts or long runs. And I had a RB for almost all the LRs which was awesome. The only thing I wasn’t happy with was the slightly excessive amount of weight I magically gained over Thanksgiving week…
Friday: We flew to Sacramento as soon as my son’s school let out. He started Kindergarten in August and it’s still an adjustment to plan travel around a school schedule. Flight went well and we arrived at our hotel around 8pm. I had booked the hotel months ago so didn’t really remember much about it except it was close to everything. Well, it was a freaking awesome location. Our room faced the park and Capitol building which is where the race would finish. Runners would go right by the front of the hotel (around the 25.8ish point) and my husband could enjoy seeing the elites from the comfort of our room. Saturday’s 5K started right in front of the hotel as well. Walking out the back door of the hotel put you 10 steps from the Expo. Just perfect. Not perfect? The hotel wouldn’t respond to my late checkout requests until we got there. The stars aligned though and they said 1pm would be fine and no charge. OK then. Now I can de-stress (I’m someone who gets very anxious about logistics…). $70 (!!!) for a burger and 2 appetizers at the hotel restaurant and we headed to bed. DS was up 2 hours past his bedtime but was able to keep his shit together ok.
Saturday: I head outside for a 3 mile shakeout around 7am and sweet Jesus it’s freezing! And wet with more rain on the way. Run is beautiful as it’s basically the peak of Fall in Northern CA, all the trees are yellow, red and orange and still have most of their leaves. Coming from dry, brown San Diego, this is just gorgeous. I take it all in and try not to run too fast. Many roads are closed in preparation for the 5K (not starting until 11am) and there are tons of runners out doing a shakeout before the marathon. A runner’s paradise really. I return to the hotel to pick up my family, then we get the most delicious breakfast around the corner (and thankfully, not $70) then head to the Expo right after it opens. Super easy to get the bib and shirt. I buy 2 items of CIM swag, a jacket and t-shirt. This is an amusing/annoying story: it’s pretty busy at the clothes tables so I try the jacket on quickly (over my sweaty running clothes and a thick fleece); there’s a sale tag that says it’s women’s M. Great, this should work. Later, when I get to the hotel, I’ll realize the tag was wrong and it’s a men’s jacket so doesn’t fit awesome. Grrr. I also wanted a T-shirt and in the normal world, I solidly wear a medium but in the running world, I am huge so I ask the girl for a Large. She returns with a medium and XL but they don’t have L. I hold up what she said was the medium and it looks good so I take that. When I return to San Diego, I try on the shirt and think “wow, this is a nice roomy medium for once” Oh no, it’s the XL. So it’ll work but crazy that I need an XL to not have a skin tight belly shirt. Ok sorry, I’m getting lost in the details here.
We spend the afternoon walking around Old Sacramento, then come across an outdoor skating rink near the Sacramento King’s arena on the way back to the hotel. I’m not interested in hurting myself the day before the race but DH and DS have a blast. Pizza for dinner rounds out a nice day in a new city. The guys are in bed before 8pm but I stay up a little making sure everything is good to go.
Sunday: I sleep just ok, alarm goes off at 4:30 and I’m out the door at 4:40. It’s a 2 min walk to the buses which don’t start loading until 5am. I am near the front so get on one of the first buses, score! We don’t arrive at the Start until 6am. We can stay on the buses which is great to stay warm. It’s probably in the 30’s but I dressed appropriately. I get off the bus to find a POP around 6:10 and am thrilled at what I see: POPs as far as the eye can see! I’ve never seen so many. The first 50 have lines but you just have to go a little farther and there’s no lines. Awesome! I get back on the bus and relax for awhile. Around 6:40, I start getting ready (race starts at 7am) when I realize I should hit the POP once more time. When I hop off the bus there are lots of people everywhere and I freak out that I’ve waited too long! I head to gear check, keeping just my gloves and a throwaway long sleeve, then jog past 100 POPs with lines until I finally get to where there aren’t any. I’m in there while I can hear the national anthem and again freak out a little. I jog back to the start line (there were 2 corrals: one for sub 4 h and one for >4 h) which gives me plenty of time to work my way up to the 4:20 pacers and still have about 10 min to spare. I wore tank, shorts and arm sleeves plus gloves which is perfect. Coach gave me a rundown of the course a few days earlier but I basically forget it all and just remember: hill right after the start, rolling hills, biggest hill at Mile 11, no hills last 8 miles.
I run with the 4:20 group for the first 5K but it’s super annoying. Too many peoplee and I don’t feel like it’s really helping me because I keep slowing myself down. But I don’t want to get cocky and die, then watch them go past me. Screw it, I get in front of the group and then never think about them again. I aim for 9:40-9:50 pace but at the same time, I just keep things relaxed. I only check the watch here or there to make sure I stay out of the 9:20s (mostly). I’m not thinking about how many miles to go, just looking around at the beautiful fall scenery, reading signs, enjoying the atmosphere. Is it bad that I was hungry at Mile 2? I never once hit a hill where I thought “Oh crap, a hill”; just slight inclines that didn’t affect my pace really. To be fair, if this was a 5k, I would be telling a different story probably, but at my MP? I had trained on enough hills that I was barely noticing any of these. Not tons of people along the course but that was ok. It took until Mile 3 before I could feel my fingers and toes from the cold but otherwise, I felt great. I took off my gloves and carried them for maybe 2 miles before tossing them, thinking I was good to go. Oh, was I wrong! For a few miles (maybe around Mile 6?), just my right hand was cold but then both were numb. I put them in my arm pits at one point to warm up…which is how I first realized I was chafing there and it burned. Oops! My hands were getting colder and colder and it was bothering me more and more. Finally, around Mile 10 (maybe?) I picked up a pair of gloves off the street, ignored the fact they were slightly damp and probably covered in snot and wore them. Super gross but it did the trick and my hands weren’t cold again, haha I would end up keeping the gloves for probably an hour before tossing them.
I kept waiting for the biggest hill around Mile 11 but either Coach had mis-remembered (she’s run CIM twice though) or hitting the incline at my MP vs hers makes a big difference because I never found the hill. I wasn’t doing any math about time goals, just clicking off the miles and trying not to be too fast in the first half. I hit the 13.1 mat just as my watch showed 2:06:00 and this was the only time I thought about where I might be for a finish time. “Woah, that’s better than I expected” is all I thought.
Lots of interesting sights along the course including a golden retriever rescue group with a dozen of their cutest members, lots of kids to high five, and plenty of fruit, donuts, beer and tissues (tissues! I haven’t been a cold weather runner in ages and this was a godsend!)
It was around Mile 18 that I was still feeling great except starting to notice my quads being sore. I kept thinking “tomorrow will suck but not today”. I ran through The Wall at Mile 20 feeling strong and in control, but also ready to be done soon. My nutrition was great and I really felt strong for the entire race. I was drinking some water at most of the water stops and taking a Clif Blok energy chew with caffeine at all the odd miles. My only split that didn’t start with a 9 (mile 24) was because I grabbed an orange slice and walked a few steps to eat it. Really for the final 10K, I felt good endurance-wise, but my legs were protesting, feeling pretty stiff and sore.
Right at the Mile 25 marker, my watch display showed “low battery”, OH NO! I never let my watch get that low so I had no idea if that meant it would turn off in 1 minute or 30 minutes. The warning blocked the other numbers on my watch and I was afraid that if I tried to scroll past it, that would use too much battery and it would die even quicker. I know, I’m such a dork. But I didn’t touch any buttons and actually ran a bit faster, hoping I could finish before it died! I only saw my family when I passed our hotel so about 0.3 miles before the finish which was great. I told DH it wasn’t worth the hassle to Uber to earlier spots on the course, I’m used to running alone anyways.
4:13:00 !!! A 25 minute-freaking PR! When I visualized a best case scenario in my head, it was running 4:15 so this was awesome. If I didn’t have “low battery” staring back at me from the watch and realized I needed to run one second faster, I could have but oh well. Super happy with training and execution of this race. For perspective, when I first started working with my coach, I ran a 10K where my goal pace was 9:55 pace and here I am, about 2.5 years later running 26 miles at 9:40 pace. Crazy.
I was slowed down last week by Aunt Flo and I was really pissed that it took away that high that I’d been riding for weeks – I was afraid that it would be gone for good. However, that amazing long run that I had on Sunday brought it back!! And the high lives on…not THAT kind of high though. I’ve been in CO for 5 years now and STILL haven’t tried any gonja – no plans to do so either.
I was surprisingly NOT sore from the swift 13 miles that I ran on Sunday
Monday: Barbell Strength – Do sharks complain about Monday? NO. They’re up early, biting stuff, chasing shit, being scary – reminding everyone they’re a fucking shark. On Mondays, I feel like a shark. A bad ass fucking shark.
Tuesday: This is typically a 2fer day for me, however I think I’m going to have to revamp that. I knew I’d have to make some adjustments with all of this cross-training I’m doing. Since I take the barbell class at lunch on Mondays, I typically make up that long lunch by not taking a lunch on Tuesdays. It’s just not reasonably logistical for me to run and do spin on this day. I haven’t felt like getting up really early to run and I don’t have time to run before or after spin. So, I made a plan to run at lunch on Wednesday and do the barbell class in the evening.
Wednesday 2fer: 4 mile runch – It was 60 degrees during this run! I brought a t-shirt and capris but totally could have run in shorts. I also forgot my sunglasses and it got pretty windy during the second half – there’s no telling what I might have gotten in my eye. The Cherry Creek trail is convenient, but it’s super sketchy and kinda dirty. I haven’t had any pace goals for my shorter runs, other than to just run with what feels comfortable. I’m gettin’ faster y’all! I finished 4.3 miles at an 8:51/mile pace! Aww yeah! Soon, I hope to be able to say goodbye to 9 minute miles for all runs!
There is so much cool artwork to photo on this trail! I’m gonna try to get a new one each time!
Barbell Strength- My biggest reason for taking this class is to build strength from the waist up, so since I ran earlier in the day, I decided to take it easy on the legs during class. This was only the second time I’d taken the class two times in a week and I could definitely tell my muscles were feeling a little fatigued from Monday’s class.
Thursday: Belmar Run Club – I had 5 miles on the schedule and I hadn’t been to run club in a bit (like months), AND I was looking forward to having a burrito and a beer at Rocko’s afterwards. Guy Chris was there, and he usually arrives after we’ve already started. Chris is in his upper 50’s (I think) and is normally pretty fast – we always end up sitting by each other at Rocko’s and chatting. I started running with him and he proceeds to tell me that he’s also been battling shin splints. He ran with me for two laps, and I always run faster than intended when I’m running and talking to someone. I’ve been running primarily flat stuff and this route has a couple hills. By the end of the run, I could feel a sensation in my shin just a little – nothing worrisome but it was noticeable. I need to slow myself down a bit when running a route with hills. However, my plan for now is to only run flat routes, at least until I get stronger. Shamrock is super flat so there’s no need to run any hills right now anyway. I finished the run with an 8:40 average.
Friday: This is an optional rest day so I TOOK it! Gladly
Saturday: Long Run – I had 11 miles on the schedule, but hadn’t really thought about the fact that I was racing a half marathon the next weekend. I’ve been so adamant about sticking to the schedule that I hadn’t thought that it should be a cut-back week. So instead of 11, I ran 8. I didn’t feel like running the trails around my house but I also didn’t want to drive anywhere either. I ended up running around my house anyway and ran dirt trails for the first 2.5 miles, then the rest on pavement. I was trying my best to change it up and add some loops in, but it gets annoying when you get back to your starting point and you still have some to go. Anywho, it was a pretty uneventful run except for the fact that I can’t slow my ass down! I really should have ran this in the low 9 mins/mile and I really thought I was doing that. I ended up with an 8:53 average! GO! GO, Gadget Legs!
I have the Rehoboth 13.1 THIS WEEKEND! Holy cow!! So, I was curious as to how my training now compares with where I was at last year when I somehow ran an 8:11 average for the race.
Last November: 56 miles total for the month / Run paces averaged between 9:20 and 10:17
This November: 65 miles total for the month / Run paces averaged between 8:40 and 9:25
Since I totally don’t want to sandbag what I think I could run this year, is a DISTANCE PR out of the question?? I’m thinking NO! My 13.1 PR is 1:42:08 with a 7:47 average. I’m just going to keep that in the back of my mind while I’m running and just keep the main goal of a course PR in the forefront. I’m VERY excited to see what happens and an RR will follow so you will know as well! Since I know you’ll be on the edge of your seat waiting… haha!
Thanks for reading!
I'll spell it how I want.
November 20 - 4 easy
November 21 - 2 x 2400. Quality runs have been all over the place this time. Rust from the injury maybe. Good runs always seem to be followed by bad ones. Tempo from Monday was especially hard, so I had low expectations for this one. Pleasantly surprised with it, though. 6:58 and 7:09.
November 22 - Mrs. Dave decided we were going to Seattle for Thanksgiving. I needed to meet Big Mac's latest (and most probably the last) beau. Traveling on Turkey day is surprisingly affordable as it turns out. And the later you can wait to book, the more affordable it becomes. Anyway, travel and food on Thursday, so no run.
November 23 - Ran down to the beach from the in-laws' house. 8 miles. 4 down and 4 back up. Took it easy by choice and necessity. Cool and windy, a few sprinkles because Seattle. Stopped at the beach for a couple of minutes to watch some kiteboarders. Everyone needs a hobby, I guess.
November 24 - Schedule had ten miles, and twelve next week. Decided to switch that and put the longer one a week farther out from race day. Not sure it mattered a ton, but felt like I was making an informed, intelligent, fact-based decision. Not used to that. South on the Inter-urban trail for 6 and back. Not nearly as steep as Friday, but the same sort of drop on the front half and climb on the return. A slow, grinder kind of run. Cut down the old dead cheery tree in front of the in-laws' house. It had grown over the years and since it didn't involve any power lines, the city wasn't interested in it. It had raised the cul-de-sac's feed from Comcast about 4 feet, though. A good wind storm probably would have sent it down onto someone's car or the neighbor's boat.
November 26 - Rained pretty hard all day, and Mrs. Dave had a long list of things to do before we returned to Detroit. No run. In keeping with the casual 2018 training approach, I didn't mention it while we were doing all the other stuff.
November 27 - Time for another ride on the struggle bus. Supposed to be 8 miles with 6 at tempo. Shooting for 8 minute miles. Miles 1-3 were 8:01, 8:08, and 7:46. So much up and down. It was also too warm, at 54o. Wore gloves and a LS - both were mistakes. Had to break after those first three, but that didn't help as much as I'd hoped. 8:49, 8:41, 8:53 for 4-6. At least the effort was there.
November 28 - Travel day. Going east is always worse with the added three hours from Pacific time. The plane had to return to the gate because they couldn't get the #1 engine started. Fortunately they were able to get it going and we didn't have to change planes. It was after 6pm when we finally got home, so the idea of a run wasn't at all palatable.
November 29 - Moved intervals to Thursday. 4 x 1600 at whatever I could do. Downloaded an old workout from GarminConnect, which turned out to be the wrong one, so had to guess a little with the laps for the third and fourth. 7:27, 7:42, 7:31, 7:34. Not as good as the 2400s from last week, but OK.
November 30 - Six slow ones. Felt sort of tired. Seems like I've heard that story before, too. It was a fair bit colder than I thought, too. Brr.
That made 145 miles for November. Most this year. Puts me at 465 YTD. I'll get to 500 by New Year's. First time since 2010 I haven't broken 1,000 miles.
December 1 - Ten miles. Heard there was a new church family moving in. Their house was exactly five miles from home, so I ran there, helped unload the truck and ran back. Tired coming back. Seeing a pattern. Feel like a wimp, tapering for a half, but three months ago I wasn't running at all. Perspective. I need to do better at managing my expectations.
November 2018 in Review
Total mileage for the month: 114.3 (95 on the AlterG treadmill) -- in comparison: January - 207, February - 254, March - 298, April - 307, May - 355, June - 232, July - 290, August - 357, September - 305, October - 10
Oct. 29-Nov. 4: 5 miles (all AlterG), 14:00 cardio cross-training, 2:40 strength training - which is a lifetime exercise PR week (yay?)
Nov. 5-11: 11 miles (all AlterG), 12:00 cardio cross-training, 2:20 strength training
Nov. 12-18: 36 miles (34 AlterG), 8:25 cardio cross-training, 2:00 strength training
Nov. 19-25: 26.2 (19 AlterG), 7:00 cardio cross-training, 2:15 strength training
Nov. 26-Dec. 2: projected at 51 (31 AlterG), at least 4:00 cardio cross-training, at least 2:20 strength training
Note: If you aren't familiar with the AlterG treadmill, I wrote about the it here, when I strained a tendon in January 2016 and used it during recovery (also the last time I took any time off running!). It is much easier than "real" running, so counting those miles in my weekly mileage felt like cheating, but I covered the distance so I counted it with an *.
Decorating our self-cut Christmas tree/bush in ugly sweaters & cozy pants
Nope. I missed the Bass Pro Marathon, which was slated to be my longest long run before the California International Marathon, as a pacer for a friend aiming for her first sub-3:00. I watched her win the race in 3:08, and watched three women I train with go 1-2-3 in the half. Although I had mixed feelings about going to spectate, I had a wonderful time seeing so many amazing runners who are also amazing people.
Nov. 8 - unstructured 6 mile progression run on the AlterG treadmill at 50% weight, starting at 6:58 pace and finishing at 6:00 pace (6:37 average). This wasn't planned, but this was the first day my leg felt pretty good on the AlterG and I couldn't help myself! Keep in mind that these paces at 50% body weight are much easier than "normal" running, but I figured at least it was practice with faster leg turnover. This was also the first day I felt like there was hope for my injury.
Nov. 14 - 6 mile tempo on the AlterG treadmill (5:40 pace) at 60% weight with 2 miles warm-up and 2 miles cool down, for my first double digit run since I got super injured in Indy! I decided to see if I could fit 10 miles into an hour session on the AlterG and was successful. Again, running on the AlterG is much easier than running outside, so I went by effort, although that is also deceptive because leg turnover, breathing rate, and heart rates don't coincide like they usually would. Afterward I found the table below that says it was about 6:25 effort (which I doubt), but at the very least, this had to be better for my fitness than the elliptical or spin bike!
Nov. 19 - unstructured 9 mile progression run on the AlterG treadmill at 65% weight in 51:40 (5:46 average pace). I didn't plan this one either but just kept cranking the pace down until I was at 12 mph (5:00 pace) for the final half mile. I don't even run strides quite that fast normally, so my legs aren't used to the turnover, but it's so much easier when the machine is supporting 35% of my body weight!
Nov. 28 - 11 mile progression run on the AlterG treadmill at 70% weight in 1:02:50 (5:43 average pace). This is supposed to convert to about 6:25 average pace real running, but after returning to running outside I don't buy that (the AlterG is cheating, for sure, hah). I started at 10 mph and upped the pace by 0.1 each song until I got to an hour of running, then cooled down to 11 miles, making for my longest run on the AlterG ever (yay??). I was working hard by the end so that's what matters I guess. There is a noticeable difference between running at 60% and 70% weight though - and a HUGE difference between 50% and 70%! Moral of the story: don't gain 25 lbs.
Full body strength workouts: I completed my full strength circuit twice per week and also did 10+ minutes of core work more days than not.
None really, but I ran several 10-11 milers on the AlterG. While it's not like running outside, it's better for my training than sitting on the couch! On December 1 I ran 7.2 miles outside and tagged it a "long run." I hope to get back to double digits outside on December 8 as long as my calf still feels 100%!
11 miles at 70%
Yes x 1 million...but less than in October!
The first half of this month was really hard for me. I tried to remain positive, because the fact is that all of us are in need of some type of healing, and if anyone seems like they aren't it's just because we don't see all parts (or even most parts) of anyone else's life. It seems cruel, but this world is quite imperfect. I mourned the loss of my training cycle, my loss of fitness, my weight gain, my energy dip, my mood slump, and everything else that accompanied my injury. I sure need running for stress-relief (I am not sure I could continue long-term in my present job if I could never run again, which also terrified me)! I started and erased many posts about all of this, then I read this post and decided I couldn't say it all any better than she did.
Returning to running at the end of the month was oh-so-sweet! I started back on November 23 (Black Friday) with 3.2 miles, after a false start 2 miler on November 18 that showed me my leg wasn't quite there. I don't even care if I just run 5 miles easy every day for the rest of my life and never PR in anything again; I just need to run! For the first week I alternated running every other day outside with every other day on the AlterG at 70-75% weight.
I have no idea how long it's going to take me to regain the fitness I lost - it does not seem that cross-training and the AlterG helped nearly as much as I'd hoped - but I am thankful for the opportunity to try. I have put CIM 2019 on my race calendar, and have 52 weeks to train for that!
The first weekend of our month was dominated by the Bass Pro Marathon. Albani and I volunteered at the expo all day on Saturday, and then I watched the events on Sunday. The experience had some bitter-sweetness to it since I was supposed to be running in the event, but was overall a positive experience.
We bought a power washer, and also re-did our flower beds. It was far too cold for both!
I went to the MOABA (Missouri Association for Behavior Analysis) conference in St. Louis the third weekend of the month, and returned even more passionate about our science.
Thanksgiving of course. We also cut our Christmas tree from my in-laws farm while in Kansas, and started decorating for Christmas.
Don't you read comic books while volunteering
at race expos?
This booth was a hit - they rotated critters about every hour
We bought these
Always take snacks appliance shopping!
Cousins at Thanksgiving
My dad in his brand new Tesla!
Cutting our Christmas tree
Opting outside - we read our library books
outside on what might be our last warm day
More opting outside (it was 65*)
Mismatched trees are the best!
Loopsters! This isn't running related, but those of you that know my backstory know that I've had to work this year to come back from a major injury. It's sorta running related, I guess. This means a lot to me so I thought I'd share it here. I've been sparing you from my weekly training recaps, but I'm Rehoboth ready!
Happy Friday to all, and to all a Happy Friday! It’s not quite time for a weekly training recap yet and I’m sure you’re all tired of those anyway, but I wanted to post something about how I felt yesterday. I was in a glass case of emotion, as Ron Burgundy might say.
I even have his mustache now. More on that later.
As you may or may not know, my Achilles tendon ruptured on December 14, 2017. You can read about that here, if you like.
It happened playing basketball when I probably shouldn’t have been playing basketball. I had run 2 marathons in 3 weeks and gave myself about 11 days rest (not enough). Both marathons went poorly. I was dealing with soreness in my left calf and had been for at least a month(I tore the right one, ironically).
It happened on a perfectly innocent play. I took a shot and knew right away that it wasn’t going in. I tried to cut left to get past my defender and get my own rebound. As I cut, I felt like the guy guarding me hit me in the back of the leg with a crowbar. I looked up for the foul haha.
I knew pretty quickly by the faces of the other men in the gym and by the pain and “weird softness” that was my right calf that this wasn’t good. That was it for me.
There was surgery 2 days later, followed by lots of time in a boot and lots of time in rehab and we fast forward to 5 months later. I started running again. I knew I’d run. I wasn’t afraid of that. Now basketball on the other hand…
I talked about playing again. Some people asked me, “Are you going to play basketball again?” Other people asked more like, “You’re not going to play basketball again, are you?” Big difference, right?
Well I’m stubborn, so yes I AM going to play basketball again, thank you very much. I changed to a team that I thought could accommodate my middle aged body by allowing me to play less. Last night, that didn’t happen haha.
Yesterday, I was pretty excited about getting back to a competitive sport, until I thought about it. The reality kicked in. My calf felt tight. I hadn’t been moving much laterally. I hadn’t jumped much. I got scared. I was sick to my stomach scared. I don’t like admitting it, but it’s the truth. I showed up to the court where 350 day before I was a changed man. Then we started playing.
The fear melted away. The joy returned. I was still a little nervous, since every move I made felt new to my repaired tendon. As somebody said to me after, “You didn’t play like you were scared.” I played more minutes than I’d intended. We lost 58-55 and I only scored 6 points, but I didn’t care. I’d never played a better game.
I felt this good, minus the money…and the championships.
I thought my first run back from the injury was the best feeling I’d have, but playing basketball again was that times a thousand. I feel more confident that I’ve felt since before the injury happened. I’m smarter now and more aware of the fact that I’m a 40 year old man, but I’m BACK!
Thanks so much for reading all of this. I do it mostly to get my feelings out and to be able to go back and remember things (both to learn from and appreciate), but it’s also great to hear from any of you with advice and encouragement. It’s nice to know somebody out there is paying attention.
Like many runners, fall is my favorite time of year to log miles. Temperatures are friendly, there’s no longer daily thunderstorms and tornado warnings in Atlanta, and with the holidays coming up there are plenty of calories around to fuel runs. Additionally, goal races have passed and there’s no stress to nail workouts or pressure to make it 16 miles instead of 14.5. It’s just fun to crunch leaves and not drown in sweat and have a social life again. Like a Friendsgiving celebration, for instance. Which was two Saturdays ago. The night before the Atlanta Lab Rescue 5k in fact, where I had an age group title to defend. So OK, maybe there was a little pressure. Not wanting to stress over results, I decided to indulge in plenty of spicy Bangladeshi food and Atlanta beer to help temper expectations for the race and keep it fun.
This is a small race (~600 people this year, it’s biggest yet) and it’s only my second year running it, but it’s climbing my list of favorites. First off, dogs. There are literally dozens of dogs at this race, most of them Labrador Retrievers, including mine. Secondly, it benefits a dog rescue organization. Third, there’s a fancy doughnut truck selling freshly made doughnuts and coffee. Fourth, indoor bathrooms with real plumbing. And lastly, it’s small enough and outside the city enough I can actually compete for age group awards which I really have no business winning. Also, dogs. SO MANY DOGS.
We arrived in plenty of time to pick up our bibs (The Wife and The Dog were running together), make a bathroom stop, and jog a warmup mile. That mile revealed some creakiness in a hip and my feet and a little bit of everywhere else, but I wasn’t sure if it was leftover marathon soreness or the six-pack I used to dull the heat of the delicious lamb vindaloo I enjoyed the night before. I made my way over to The Wife in the crowd and tried to do some leg swings and glute activation exercises to stay loose and keep myself occupied. We discussed what kind of doughnuts we wanted and where we’d meet as I eyed up the competition and assessed my chances of repeating a podium finish. It was then that I noticed a woman purposefully walking towards us with a look on her face that suggested a familiarity I should be reciprocating. I began wracking my brain to place who this was until I was jarred back into the moment by her outstretched hand. “Hi, I’m Kelly. You look like you’re gonna win this race!”. Huh. Relieved of my guilt at forgetting an acquaintance, I shook her hand and introduced myself. With unsettling intensity she tells me “I ran the Soldier Marathon yesterday, so I’m a little tired.” Uh-huh. “It’s his first 5k, he’s so excited!” she says, gesturing at her little dog. I tell her how much The Dog loves to run with us and how she loves races, making sure to gesture at The Dog and The Wife standing mere feet away. “So are you a big runner around here? You look pretty fast.” I tell her I run a lot of races in the area and before the last syllable left my lips she says “Well good luck nice meeting you” and disappears back into to the crowd. I turn to The Wife, and we share a puzzled look. Maybe she noticed my activated glutes.
We got the signal to line up at the start and I made my way to the front of the pack, the gangly contingent from the local high school track and XC teams from which the winner would almost certainly emerge on my left, and on my right a couple in their early 60s wearing jeans and at the opposite end of a leash from a small terrier. I chatted with the nice couple while looking over their shoulders to see how many people I could find without acne or jeans who might be age group competition. I didn’t see many who looked to be my age, so despite feeling an age group or two older at the moment, I thought the odds might be in my favor. We got the 30 second warning, the grand marshal (a former rescue dog recently placed by the race’s beneficiaries) ran the ceremonial first 10 yards, and the air horn sent us on our way.
As the pack narrowed from the width of the road to a single file along the tangent line I fell in behind roughly 20 or so runners. The HS kids led the way and I knew the only time I’d be close to most of them again would be as they passed the turn around. I also knew many of those ahead of me would begin dropping as we climbed the long hill that makes up most of the out section of the course, so at this point I just focused on settling into what felt like race pace. After weeks of marathon training opening up my stride and doing some fast running was liberating, and like a frozen bolt wrenched loose my joints finally felt the freedom of movement, the stiffness falling away like flecks of rust with each turn of my stride.
As we turned off the park entry road and onto the main street to begin the long climb I had picked off the over-eager starters and was down to 9 runners ahead of me. I wasn’t really looking at my watch as I had no time goal or expectations, so I just focused on picking off as many people as I could. The closest runner was a girl who looked to be one of the HS contingent. While most of her cohort faded before the first 400, she looked to be running strong. But I could hear her breathing hard on the hill, and knew it was only a matter of time. I focused on my cadence and breathing and passed her not long after passing the first mile in 6:43.
Next up was a guy in a gray shirt. I hadn’t been able to get a good enough look to see how old he was initially, so I had been treating him like competition and tried to quietly sneak up on him before making my move. However as I got closer I noticed his long, loping, effortless stride and seemingly disinterested side to side head bob as he ran. You know the look. All these damn kids make running look so frigging easy, the little bastards. I used the bitterness of lost youth as my fuel to pass him and zeroed in on the next target. The only other runner I could see close enough was a guy I remembered from the start line. He looked roughly my age, had calves the size of my quads, and an orange Clemson shirt. He was moving, but I could see the back of his shirt darkened by sweat and knew he was working harder than I was.
By now the leaders had made the turn around and I started counting. The leader was another damn kid who looked like he was expending the same amount of energy I do chewing soup. Behind him was a guy who looked like an out of shape 50 year old expending enough energy to power a small city. I picked out one other runner who looked about my age, plus Clemson. As he ran by I could see the pain on his face and knew I’d get him on the downhill. I made the turn around and saw no one close behind me, so I decided to risk a little burn out and start to push. Within about a 400 I had halved the gap and gotten close enough that I knew Clemson could hear me behind him. He tried to pick up the pace and shake me, but each time he tried he was unable to hold it and I’d re-close quickly. Garmin signaled mile 2, 6:56 up the hill.
I was still feeling pretty strong at this point, and Clemson and I had pushed each other to gain ground on another runner who happened to also be running the lead dog. I decided to push to pass Clemson now, and see if I could also real in the dog. Just as I was about to swing out and pass, I heard a “GO STEVE!” yell from the other side of the road. It was Kelly, waving and jumping and cheering. I gave her a thumbs up, still a little puzzled, but thankful for the encouragement. Quickly refocusing on the task at hand, I gave myself a few steps to brace for the effort and swung out to pass Clemson. He tried to block me a little bit, but I managed to slip by and did my best to make it look easy. I know my running is as graceful as someone falling down stairs, but in my head during a race I’m Jenny MF-ing Simpson, OK?
I felt good enough passing Clemson, and he faded quickly enough, that I decided to go all in on the pace. I saw The Wife approach on the out and then saw The Dog almost take out a half a dozen runners when she saw me and gave her a passing pat on the head while The Wife confirmed “7th”. I used the last of the downhill to try and gain as much ground on the lead dog as I could, and had made up maybe half of the 200 meter gap as we turned back onto the park access road. The course covers some small rollers on this final stretch, and for the rest of the way he’d pull away a little on the ups and I’d close a little on the downs. I realized I wasn’t going to catch him, and also heard spectators yelling to someone not that far behind me so I focused on maintaining a steady clip to hold off Clemson or whoever was trying to kick. By now though this was no small task. I was suddenly very aware of my raspy desperate breathing, burning legs, and what felt like the memory of every step of the NYC Marathon manifesting on the aching soles of my feet. I watched a spectator who had been gleefully cheering the lead dog ahead of me slow her claps as I came into view and her smile faded into the kind of pitiful look one gives fresh roadkill.
Mile 3 was announced as a 6:28 effort, and the last tenth nearly matched it at a 6:25 pace. I ended up with a 20:48, which was enough to hold off Clemson (who was in a younger age group) for 7th place overall but not enough to beat out the out of shape 50-something looking guy I saw earlier (who was actually 38). After spending my cool down mile wondering what my complete lack of understanding of what 35-39 looks like says about my own appearance, I picked up my age group silver, got cornered by Kelly again, and met up with The Wife and Dog for hot coffee and doughnuts.
There is joy again in my running. Not from times or place or anything other than running for the sake of running. Running to feel the cold air burn the back of my throat and my eyes water from the biting wind. To have control of the pain again, and not feel compelled to push too far in pursuit of an ultimately unimportant goal that is knowingly beyond reach. It’s fun to feel alive again.
At some point on one of the canoe trips this summer, tweaked the L knee MCL. It was mildly painful but didn't stop me from doing anything. However it's been five months now and it has not healed at all despite my best efforts at icing/stretching/strengthening exercises. Same continuous mild pain, worse the day after a run to the point of limping some days. So now going to try stopping running for a bit, most displeasing. I suppose at some point I'll have to actually go to the doctor 😉 but he'll just tell me to rest and ice it.
We warmed up for Thanksgiving the previous weekend, at a friend's cabin in the shadow of Mt Princeton. Jeff deep-fried a turkey in peanut oil. This is my favorite way to cook a turkey I think. Not only does it taste good, but the bonfire is fun .. ha.
Me on L. The good part about drinking beer in the snow, is that it never gets warm..
For Thanksgiving itself we hosted, and cheated by getting a turkey breast from Costco, also the stuffing, mashed and sweet potatoes. We were going to make a salad but had only romaine lettuce, threw it out and just carbo-loaded.
I was supposed to take the dog hunting in Wyoming on Friday but the forecast was for winds 45mph, gusting to 60mph. At those wind speeds the pheasants get up out of the grass and are blown into the next county before anyone can react. Instead I took the poor dog for a walk in the snow up in the forest, where we found out-of-hunting-season turkey tracks.
Artie wanted to track 'em down and was confused that I didn't want to..
It was a good walk (me) run (him) anyhow.
Several of my friends from the local Runners Roost Thursday night run, won their age groups at the turkey trot. My pace would have placed me top 20 (only 20 altogether) in my AG.. ah well.
Now for lots of swimming and weight room work, one day the MCL will be well..
Monday: Spin – Since it was fall break on campus, the group fitness schedule was all different for classes. Instead of doing barbell this day, I took Kelli’s spin class at lunch. What a great way to spend lunch! I was so sweaty by the time we finished and I got in 13.6 miles!
Tuesday: Barbell Strength – Aunt Flo came for a visit and left me feeling like I was going to shit myself all day. I was supposed to run and do the barbell class this day but I pushed the run to Wednesday. I did make it through barbell without soiling myself – SUCCESS! Kelli rode to work with me and stayed for the class too!
On the way home, Kelli was talking about her 2019 goals (NOT resolutions) and that she wanted to focus on getting stronger. Soooo, I kinda agreed to do a 2019 challenge with her. More on that after we figure out all of the details!
Wednesday: REST – Instead of running after work, I went home and had a beer instead. I really need to work on handling my Aunt Flo weeks much better – it always seems to sideline me.
Thursday: Mt. Morrison Thanksgiving Day hike – Kelli and I had talked about maybe doing a Turkey Trot but we decided to do something more challenging and FREE. Mt. Morrison is super close to both of us and our hubbies came along as well.
That’s Mt. Evans back there covered in snow
We were at the trail head by 8am and finished before lunch – 2000′ of gain in under 2 miles! It’s a pretty tough but great hike – this hike is very deceptive. I haven’t been hiking much lately – taking a much needed break from that. We spent Thanksgiving with Kelli and her husband and had a delicious vegetarian meal.
We ended up dressing alike I told her that she was starting to freak me out with how much she reminds me of Erin!
Friday: Lazy – I didn’t do anything this day. The holiday week/schedule and Aunt Flo threw me for the whole first part of the week BUT I made up for it in a good way – keep reading. I was determined to get in those 4 miles so I hoped that I’d do it Saturday. This also meant pushing my long run to Sunday, which worked out perfectly because the weather was supposed to be crappy on Saturday.
Saturday: 4.7 miles – The mountains were going to get pounded with snow and there was a chance we were going to get a little. However, it was beautiful in the morning and there was a blue bird sky. I had bought some new Goodr glasses and a super thin Nike windproof jacket on Black Friday at my Local Running Store ( LRS), and I wanted to try out the jacket (which, by the way, I paid WAY too much for at the LRS, but at least I was supporting them. But I just saw that I could have gotten it for HALF of what I paid. I did get 20% off though. C’est la vie.). I thought it was much colder out than it was and I got SUPER hot. I even had on fleece lined tights! Yowza!
I somehow made it 4.5 miles before I took the jacket off. I hadn’t been looking at my watch so I ended up running 4.7 before I realized I’d gone over 4. I started walking and used the last hill as a cool-down walk – I was glad to not have to run the hill anyway. I managed an 8:59 pace! It did get REALLY windy in the afternoon and snowed a bit overnight.
I like this jacket! I wish it had zippers in the arm-pits but it’s comfy and easily packable.
Sunday: 13.1 mile long run – You know you’re a life-time runner when you’ve been running for 20 years, and you still get butterflies thinking about a solo, 13 mile training run. It was mainly nervous butterflies because I wasn’t sure how my shin was going to handle this longest distance since September 8th. I didn’t have any trouble pooping twice before I took off. You’re welcome.
I jumped in my car and headed to Writers Vista Park via the Highline Canal- my favorite, local trail to run on. It is also the location of the last time I ran 13 miles. I knew this dirt trail would be great to run on since it had snowed a tiny bit overnight, and I wouldn’t have to worry about slipping. It was colder than Saturday but I didn’t want to over heat again. I brought the jacket again but decided to just run in a thin long-sleeved shirt. The training plan called for 13 miles at a 9:35 pace – the paces are just a reference point that are adjustable. I took off and waited to see what pace I would settle into.
The trail was just lightly dusted with snow.
The first mile was a 9:13 which was reasonable, but then I just kept hitting 8s! I felt so good and strong and I just wanted to go with it. I knew it was a little risky, since it’s only my second long run of training, but sometimes you just gotta go with it. Why slow down if you don’t have to?? The only thing I don’t like about this trail are the many street crossings there are – and, if you do an out and back, you have to cross the streets twice. The lights are really long and can leave you hanging for a bit. The only outliers (in 9 min range) I had were because of those stoopid crossings. I know it doesn’t really matter, but still. I brought two Huma gels and had some Skratch in my water bottle – I REALLY like Huma gels. I didn’t drink much and only took one gel around the 6 mile mark. I definitely started feeling the speed in the last two miles. However, I wanted to keep pushing it so that I’d have a great finish time. My hips got a little tight but not what I expected! I finished the 13.1 (of course I had to do the 0.1) in 1:56:28 and felt like I’d just ran a race! It was great to push it during a training run!
So consistent for the most part! Even those last four miles!
This run gave me such a confidence boost and made me feel at ease that my shin is probably healed 100% now. I’d rather err on the side of caution a times though, just in case. I’m ready to start a new week and get back to my routine. I missed a lot of cross-training last week due to it being fall break on campus. Let’s do this!
I hope everyone had a wonderful, happy, and safe holiday. Christmas is just around the corner! Rehoboth 13.1 NEXT weekend!
Thanks for reading, friends
I just might be getting back to running. As I type I am stopping frequently to knock on wood, cross myself, eat raw garlic, etc. - whatever will prevent me from jinxing myself.
The new wide Hoka Gaviotas have greatly improved my foot's quality of life, especially with the help some of you gave me with lacing strategies. The combination of Lydiard and crossover lacing , and then heel lock lacing seems to be doing the trick. Early last week I did a trial two minutes on the treadmill, just to see if it hurt and how I recovered. Apparently I survived, because the next day I was at it again, doing a whole whopping four minutes, in one minute run/one minute walk intervals. Two days later I did nine one minute intervals... I told you this was a slow return. Not only was I really cautious about the injury, and worried about my new gait, but my fitness was, and is, pretty lousy. My daily half-hour on the stationary bike hasn't done much to get me in running shape.
An outing to the park resulted in 12 minutes actual running, and then this past Tuesday, 14, all the running intervals at about an 11 minute pace. I dusted off my Garmin, looked at my splits, and determined that I could "run" a 5K if I did about 18 1:00/1:30 run/walk intervals. And so I Turkey-Trotted.
I set the Garmin for run/walk alerts and ruthlessly followed my plan. Did it in 17 intervals, not 18. This particular race was my very last one, three years ago, before I got injured, so it was rough being there and being unable to really run, but I focused on the positive. I was there, my time was "only" ten minutes longer than three years ago, I was actually a bit quicker than my Tuesday trial run, it was my first run back on pavement. My toe was only slightly annoyed with me by the end, and I wore the evil orthotics the rest of the day to give it a break. Seemed to work.
I have ordered an extra pair of the Hokas - thank goodness for the Running Warehouse pikermi discount! The new model hits stores December 1st so the old ones are almost unavailable now in the wide width. I may like the new model, but you know how it is - there's that fear they'll mess up a great shoe by redesigning it. I've never had a new model that was an actual improvement on the old.
I still have issues - the surgical ankle still swells a bit, even though surgery was two years ago. And running in the rocker soles is very different. I was a forefoot striker before, but now that is the thing that I am supposed to avoid. Running this way tightens up my calves, and I also find it to be very noisy. Or maybe that's just the shoes, or the extra weight I have acquired from not running.
Regardless, I still hope to prove wrong the many, and I mean many, people who've told me I should just give up the idea of running. I know you all understand! No dancing banana yet...but maybe a toe-tapping grape.
I thought I'd attempt a race report for my first marathon. I'm not the writer many of you all are and this turned out to be waaaay longer than I thought it would be. Don't read it after a big Thanksgiving dinner or you're likely to be asleep before the race even starts!
Like lots of people, I started running mostly as a way to lose a little weight. It worked well for that, and after a few months of doing it, it became more about the running than the weight loss.
I believe every one of my runs for at least the first 6 months were 3 miles on a treadmill at the gym. I just kept trying to do those 3 miles faster and faster which I now know to be stupid and I'm lucky I didn't injure myself.
I've never been super into racing, but eventually I did a few 5Ks and a 10K toward the end of that year and the first part of the following year. I couldn't even fathom going more than a 10K on a run. Part of that was mental, but the other part was that I'm a super heavy sweater. As in, you've probably not seen someone who sweats like I do. Just ask Dave if you think I'm kidding Anyway, that presented a challenge in terms of trying to figure out how to hydrate properly and how much nutrition I would need as I started to go longer.
Despite that, I was very slowly but surely increasing my miles and starting to do runs that were longer than 6. I did 1000 miles that second year, 1200 the following, 1500+ the next year and 2000+ in 2017. Somewhere in there I built up to actually running 15-16 miles on a single run and I did 3 official half marathons. I had also joined a local running group and did the group runs with them.
But...I still hadn't done a marathon. Really, I still hadn't even run close to 20 miles. By last fall, I finally decided that I should give one a shot.
Well, the training went fairly well until it didn't. I developed Achilles tendinities somewhere around Feb. 1 of this year. I blame too many treadmill runs on snowy days with the belt set at an incline. The race was supposed to be March 31. I rested. It lingered. Eventually I went to a doctor and PT and started doing a bunch of exercises and stretches that I'm still doing today. I got back up to speed after a couple of months, but it was too late to run that marathon.
So I did easy runs for a few months the first part of this year and then decided I wanted to give the marathon another shot. I picked Marshall University. One of the biggest reasons I chose that one was that it was in November. For me to have any shot of finishing, it has to be weather that's cooler than 60 and probably needs to be low humidity, too. I'd also read a lot of nice things on the Loop about Marshall. It's also only 2 hours away.
I started my plan - the same one as before with some modifications (no treadmill!!) - in early July. And my training just sucked. We had one of the hottest, wettest, most humid summers in recent history. And by "summer" I mean it lasted until early October. Runs that were supposed to be easy all ended up with me completely spent like I'd done a hard workout. Most of the time, I couldn't go much past 5 miles without fading to having nothing left in the tank. After awhile, I didn't even attempt the tempo and interval day each week because I knew I couldn't do it.
I pretty much did my long runs at very slow pace to failure early in the morning. For me, 70 degrees with 95% humidity isn't much better than 90 degrees with 60% humidity. I got in a fair number of tough 12 milers and one very slow 18 miler that had a lot of walking. I had wanted my weekly mileage to average in the high 40s for the duration of the plan, but I was only at mid 30s.
Somewhere around the first of Oct., I was going to do a 17 miler on yet another 70 degree, high humidity morning. I managed to only do 8 until I ran completely out of gas. And the pace was SLOW. It was one month out from the race and I couldn't go further than 8 miles. At that point, I figured the race was going to be a disaster.
Then the weather finally broke. A week after that awful run, it was 45 degrees and low humidity and I did a 20 miler at the pace that I decided to attempt for the race (just under 9:00). But that was a typical run where I stopped my watch when I stopped to get a drink, etc., so the following week I did another 20 miler at the same pace without stopping the watch. It went fairly well, although miles 19 and 20 started to get a little tough. Those two weeks I did 50 and 54 miles which were my highest mileage weeks ever. I started to have a little more optimism, although I really needed it to be cool for the race.
The taper went fine. I probably had too many miles in my plan for those last two weeks and, with a little encouragement from running buddies, I cut some of it back. Last two weeks were 31 miles and 17 miles (before the race). Most of those miles were very easy paces, though.
Marshall is on a Sunday, but there's no same day packet pick-up so I had to drive to Huntington the day before. My father offered to drive me, so I took him up on that. My wife was planning to come up on race day.
At Packet Pick-up
Packet pick-up went fine. We went back to the hotel to watch the University of Kentucky football game against Georgia. That didn't go very well. After that, we went out for dinner and I settled on one local craft beer, burger and fries. I'd also been drinking tons of water, Gatorade and Pedialyte for the last couple of day. The forecast for the next day was supposed to be about 42 degrees and climbing into the low to mid 50s by the end of the race. Perfect!
I didn't sleep real well that night, but every time I woke up, I drank more Gatorade. Maybe that's why I woke up so much.
The race start was 7AM, so I was up about 5:00. I had a couple of protein bars and drank more Pedialyte.
I looked at the weather and it was actually 38 degrees. Even better! I had planned to wear only shorts and a short sleeve shirt, but I briefly considered going to the long sleeve. I'm glad I didn't!
In terms of goals for the race, I actually feel as if I SHOULD have been be able to do 3:45 comfortably if training had gone well. Of course, I really had no idea having not done one before. And I'd also never gone more than 21 miles in any run. So I decided I would shoot for 3:55. Plan was to keep it just under 9:00 for the first 20 miles and see if I had more in the tank at that point. My real goal was to not blow up and end up walking a bunch the last several miles.
Drove to the race and sat in the car waiting until closer to start. Made one trip inside the stadium to use the restroom. I ate some Gatorade chews about 10 minutes before the race and stripped down to shorts and shirt. I made my way over to the start and nudged my way into the crowd.
Just before the start.
My nutrition plan was a 24 oz bottle of Tailwind that I would sip until mile 7 or so. After that, it would be an electrolyte pill every 5 miles, followed by a Gu or Sport Beans the next mile. I'd take in water or Gatorade at most of the water stops after my bottle ran out.
The race begin and I slowly made my way into the crowd and the first mile. I started back further than I should have, but didn't want to push my way in too far at the start. The 4:00 pacer was somewhere ahead of me and I crossed the line about 30 seconds or so after the cannon went off.
I caught up with two women from my running group in the first mile and chatted with them for about a minute and eased ahead. First two miles were at 8:54.4 exactly. Both of them. Right on plan. Waved at my father around mile 2 or 3 near the stadium and turned East. I caught up to the 4:00 pacer around mile 4 or 5 and went past eventually. Next three miles were 8:55, 8:54 and 8:52. My pacing is the thing I'm most proud of for the race.
At that point, I saw another woman from my running group up ahead. I caught her at the next water stop when she slowed for a drink. She was originally going to shoot for 3:55 in this race. I thought maybe we'd just run it together, but two weeks before the race she said she didn't think she'd trained well enough for that. I ran with her for almost a mile, but she was going slower at that point and I moved ahead. That mile was 9:07 due to being distracted talking to her and some uphill. That was the only mile in the first 20 that wasn't between 8:52 and 8:58 other than an 8:49 at the mid-point near the stadium.
After mile 6, we head into the park to run on the crushed gravel trail. Despite being scenic, this was my least favorite part of the course for two reasons. One, there were mud puddles in the middle of the path and you had to run into the grass to get around them. I'll bet there were at least a dozen of those spots. Two, little bits of gravel got in my shoes both times I ran this path. They always shifted to where they weren't bothering me after awhile, but I didn't relish the thought of having to take off my shoe at some point to get them out.
The rest of the first loop was pretty uneventful after that. I liked the long, slight downhill following the park. There was a place where the road goes under an overpass and so the downhill is short but pretty steep and the uphill on the other side is about the same. Other than that, the course really is fairly flat.
Toward the end of the first loop, they turn you into the campus for a bit. As I was nearing the end of the campus section, I saw my father again standing on the edge of the sidewalk. It had warmed up enough that I handed him my gloves after he snapped a picture of me coming down the path.
Out of the campus, I turned right and began the second half of the race. The first half was 1:57:05.
The second loop was much of the same except a lot less people running near me. I spotted one of the first two club members as she was approaching the finish of the half and high fived her.
I continued to just keep the same pace going very evenly through mile 20. At that point I was supposed to decide if I wanted to pick it up. The decision was easy, I didn't While I didn't feel at all out of energy or like I was going to hit the wall, my legs were getting fairly sore and stiff.
At mile 18, I broke out some sport beans while I was in the park. They really just seemed like a pain to eat at that point. I prefer them to Gus in training, but the Gus were a lot easier to deal with during the race. They will be my go to moving forward.
After the park and more of that pesky gravel and the mud spots, I knew that underpass was coming up. Instead of worrying about the uphill, I decided to use it as a reward. I was going to walk up that part to hopefully stretch out my legs. I was still pretty much on pace although mile 21 was 9:05 and mile 23 was 9:09. I walked that uphill and set off again.
At around mile 23, it would have been time for another pack of the sport beans, but I was over them and decided to skip.
I knew I was running the tangents well and was only about .05 long at each mile marker. I decided I would walk again at 24.25 for just a few seconds to stretch my legs again and that would leave only 2 miles to the finish. When I got to that point, I decided to just keep going. Mile 24 had been 8:55, but mile 25 ended up being my slowest of the day at 9:17. I decided I'd do the quick walk break at 25.25 instead and that would only leave a mile. The rest of the miles were all in the same range as the rest of the race.
Just as I was approaching the mile 25 sign, I heard my wife shouting my name. She had walked about a mile from the start to see me come in. She was very encouraging, but the only thing I said back to her was "I'm walking for a bit at 25.25". She ended up jogging on the sidewalk on the other side of the road along with me for about a half mile or so to where the split to go through the campus occurred.
As I turned onto that campus path, they handed me a flower for the Marshall Memorial. I really didn't know what to do with it. Also at that point, the sidewalk is a fairly short, but decent uphill and I walked it until I got to the top.
Going through campus, there were a couple of women directing me to put the flower on the memorial, which was a little ways off the path. They also offerred to do it for me. I promptly handed it to them and said "I only have so many more steps in me".
Exited campus and had a short bit on the street before entering the stadium. I thought you actually turned in at the first corner, but was told to continue on to the far corner. As you go into the stadium, you go down a fairly steep ramp. My legs wouldn't bend that way, so I walk/shuffled down it and onto the turf and started running again.
I took the football the guy tossed me and made the quick up and back on the field. I pretended to throw it to my wife and father as I was nearing the finish and the caught that on camera.
I crossed the finish and it was over. I had completed my first marathon. Final time was 3:54:59, so basically one second from what I was going for.
It was a 50 second positive split, but I'll take it. I was in the top 40% of finishers, top 50% of males, and top 40% of male masters. But get this, I was in the bottom 50% of my age group! If the numbers are right, almost 15% of the entire field of the marathon were in my gender age group. Not sure how that is possible.
Overall, I'm pretty pleased. I didn't blow up. My pace was psychotically even. I don't think I could have done it much faster although I might have left a minute or two on the table.
The next day, I wasn't too sore to go up and down the stairs at work. I did take one day off of running and then attempted a short run on Tuesday. That wasn't happening, but I did a 2 mile run the following day and have been ramping up ever since.
I start my new plan for the Carmel Marathon 2019 on the Monday after Thanksgiving!
Race report and the upcoming holiday put me off my blooping schedule. That and another thing I'll get to in a minute.
I'll start off by noting that the added four miles I was planning for after the race didn't happen. Mrs. Dave had a few things she wanted done and by the time I got home from the race it seemed better to get busy with those than make her wait another hour. I did run hard, so I guess it was a fair trade for ten easy miles.
Then there was last week. To sum up, it was 38 miles. Returning again to the theme of 2018, that's the most I've done in a single week since last December. I was pretty tired by the end of it. Running more miles makes a body more tired in my experience. But, it's what I like, so I'm willing to be tired.
Monday: Tempo Time. Seven miles total. Tempo miles - 8:18, 8:03, 8:03, 7:54, 7:56. After the first 1-1/2 it was mostly a gentle down slope, which is my favorite. 41 degrees - also my favorite. Every day now I get to wear shorts I think it may be my last run of the winter without tights.
Tuesday: Easy 4 and strength work (pretty sure I didn't skip this day - too long ago to remember for sure). Windy and cold.
Wednesday: This is where the race and everything else caught up to me. 6 miles with 3 x 1600. In was in the zone I wanted, but it was really hard. 7:30, 7:35, 7:39. Normally the first repeat is the slowest, while I get a sense of how things are on a day. This time I was just more and more gassed. Really wanted to skip the last one.
Thursday: Snowed lightly most of the day, leaving me a half inch of cold, wet, slush everywhere. Not a good running surface. Really slow, but that was what I needed anyway. Really slow. Four miles felt like four-ever. Ugh.
Friday: Seven miles easy. Heart rate on the YTBNW went all weird in mile 6. At least I'm assuming it was the watch. Jumped from about 150, where it was for all of the run until that point, to 170 bpm from one step to the next. Stayed there for almost the entire mile, then dropped almost as suddenly back to 150. When I took my shoes off I noticed a bright white spot under the ball of my foot. Gum? No, it was the next layer of the outer sole. I've NEVER worn through that part of the tread before on a pair of shoes. Fortunately, last winter there was a sale at asics.com where I'd bought two pair of my Cumuluses for the price of one. Wore them around the house and on a few shopping stops that evening and they were good to go for Saturday's long run.
Saturday: Another distance marker. Eleven miles. (insert repeat of 2018 theme here) Of course by then I was feeling even more worn down. Splits were kind of all over the place - 8:45-9:25. It was 41o again, but for some reason it didn't feel like shorts weather. One of those runs where you just keep your head down and put one foot in front of the other because there's no other way to get home. Started snowing lightly about half way in. Beautiful and peaceful. Tried to enjoy it as much as I could, considered how lousy I felt.
We're in a spot where holidays can be a little strange. It's just the two of us most of the time, and the kids are far enough flung that it's not practical to expect them to all gather back at the old homestead. This year we're heading to Seattle, but wanted to see Connor. He has to work on Black Friday so we invited him and a few friends over Saturday for an early celebration, with turkey and all the other traditional eats. There was pie. I was hoping for a nap after that long run, but dinner pre-empted me. Long day. Long week.
Monday: This was supposed to be a repeat of last week's seven with five tempo. I was tired before I even started. Ran an easier route but that didn't help much. 7:52, 7:56, 7:47, 8:01, 8:00. Now that I write down and look at the numbers, I guess it was pretty close. Sure felt harder, though, especially those last two. So I guess that was a good one after all.
The real problem last week was my mental state. Found out I'd hurt someone's feelings. I try not to do that, but like everyone I have my days. I forget that the world is mostly made up of other people (do the math - me=1, other people=7.7 billion) and their ideas, plans, feelings, etc. are just as valid and important as mine. Part of it was projecting what I would want in a situation and assuming they would want the same thing. Part of it was just thinking selfishly. Neither of these events were very recent, so the hurt was compounded by the passage of time without an appropriate apology. Let me also be clear that this is not a plea for sympathy. I messed this up. I was the bad guy. Writing this just helps me process my mistake. Please don't leave any, "You're a good guy, Dave," comments. That's not what this if for. If you want to take something out of this, just remember that we need to be nicer to each other. Sometimes that takes just a little more thought, a little effort, maybe a little sacrifice. Making another's life a little better (or at least not making it worse) should be worth whatever trouble you go to do that.
Week 1!! Yeah baby, YEAH! I’ll tell ya… lately I feel like I’ve been walking around with the Austin Power grin – minus the gnarly teeth. I’ve never felt this empowered, motivated, strong, and unstoppable before. I’m gonna keep riding this high for as long as possible.
Monday: Travel/Rest Day – I was coming back from Arizona and it was a long day, so this ended up being a rest day. I did, again, take the stairs and walk as much as possible in the airports.
Tuesday 2fer: Kelli and I decided it would be a good idea to carpool on Tuesdays since we live really close together and will both be staying for her PM spin class! Spin was great as always, but I was the only one there! I feel bad that no one else showed up but we still had a great class! I told her she could still practice her routine with me. We turned the bikes towards the windows so we could both look out over Denver. The Wellness Center just started offering spin so I don’t think the word has spread enough yet. 45 minutes later, I took off outside for threasy. It was dark already and it gets really sketchy around campus after dark – it is in the heart of downtown Denver, after all. I decided to just run around the sidewalks of campus and just zig-zagged past my work building, the library, and other school buildings. When I reached 1.5 miles, I just turned around and went back. Easy peasy.
Wednesday: PM Barbell Strength – I really upped my weights and pushed myself this time. I love seeing the quick progress I’m making in this class. Those guns are startin’ to pop again!
Thursday: This week had been a busy one. I’d been playing catch-up from being gone and was working extra to make up for being out on Monday (my work lets me do flex time!). So I hadn’t been taking lunches, and I’d also been cat sitting all week. My plan was to drive to the kitties and run by their house, but once I got there the cats sucked me into playing with them. So I had a beer instead and decided I’d run on Friday.
Cherry Creek Trail
Friday 2fer: I got up at 5:15am so that I could make a 6:30am GT 45 class. It was something new that I wanted to try out at the Wellness Center, and Kelli was going too! It had similarities to the Functional Fitness class that I use to take at Calibrate. One thing we did that I think lead to some hamstring soreness (more on that later) were kettlebell deadlifts – I hadn’t done those in a while. After work, I changed in my office and headed out to the Cherry Creek Trail for four easy, urban miles. I certainly won’t run that route in the dark because there are too many creepy bridges to cross under.
Saturday: Denver Pumpkin Pie Double (5K & 10K) – I had 10 miles on the training plan so this worked out perfectly! I love the idea of doing races as training runs because it does force me to push myself a bit harder than I normally would. I did this race last year and also ran the double. I remember it being cold but sunny last year. This year it was cold and misty and it was trying hard to snow. It is so much colder out here when there is humidity in the air. I rode to the race with Kelli and then we met up with a bunch of her fellow Wellness Center fitness instructors and friends. I also ran into Carol without even trying to find her! It was funny because we both had on really bright-colored tops. Unfortunately, we didn't get a picture together this time. I saw a few folks from my run club as well.
Kelli and I planned to run the 5K at an easy-ish pace, and we did. It was pretty congested throughout most of the run as we wound through City Park. I had 45 minutes from the time the 5K started to finish, get my piece of pie, run back to the car and then back to the start. We finished the 5K in almost 30 minutes and I had it in my head that since the 5K started at 8:45 that the 10K would start at 9:45 (when in fact it started at 9:30). I did the same thing last year and ended up sprinting to the finish!
I decided to only get one piece this year
I was using a PoP when they started the 10K. I didn’t really care but I did end up in the back and had to weave my way through lots of people. I really had planned to run the 10K at about the same pace as we did the 5K, but I really think it takes me about 3 miles sometimes to warm up. I held a sub-9 pace the whole time and it felt really good. I’ve been feeling so strong lately when I run faster. It’s so weird that the sub-9 pace felt easier than the mid-9. The race was a 5K loop so I ended up doing the same loop three times. I was over it by the last one and was starting to feel tired during the last mile. I finished both halves of the 10K faster than we ran the 5K! My finish time was 54:43, an 8:40 pace. My confidence keeps building that I will get that course PR at Rehoboth in a few weeks! After the race, we went to Syrup where I ordered “The Kitchen Sink”. I thought it was called that because it had so many different things in it but it was also a GINORMOUS plate of food – and it wasn’t that great. I also got an Irish coffee which I now realize I don’t like. Blek.
HOT DAMN! There was a biscuit on the bottom that I never got to.
Sunday: Rest/Cook all the food – We are having a bake-off today in the office so I decided to make all three of the Superhero Muffins in Shalane’s new cookbook! They all turned out delicious. I’ll let you know if I win
Look how pretty they turned out! These are GREAT for breakfast and freeze really well.
Thanks for reading and Happy Thanksgiving!
Wouldn't you know the first really, really cold day of the fall was the same day as this race.
This used to be the annual fun run for the high school where the boys competed. I've made it a regular thing for me whenever it didn't interfere too much with a big race I might be training for. This year it only interfered a little bit and while Rehoboth will be fun, it's not a race I'm keying on at all. My schedule had eight miles for Saturday, so of course I could run a fast-ish 5K in the middle of it.
Dropped in the night before for my shirt and bib. On the way out there was a guy I recognized. One of Connor's old running mates, heading in for his gear. There would be a few more of their class at the race. Rick Austin was their track and field coach. The race was renamed in his honor after he unexpectedly died last fall. He was my age. Makes you think.
The 9:30 start gave me plenty of time to sleep in, wake up, eat and do a few other things before driving the 5 miles to the start. I could have run a few miles but I'm not really motivated right now. I supposed I should also admit that after Wednesday's intervals my left calf was slightly unhappy, so part of it was not wanting it to blow up before the 5K. Always better to blow up during a 5K, not before.
It's a small race, too, which means I didn't have to show up early for parking or anything other than time for an easy mile to warm up. Where I am in training (and my latest comeback) right now, I expected (hoped?) to run just under 8 minute pace. If I could do that for the first two miles, then I'd see if there was anything in the tank for number 3. My warm up overlapped the national anthem, so I missed that. I might have felt badly about that if it hadn't also been 30 degrees. I was wearing tights, double shirts, double gloves, and a headband. My ears didn't used to get so cold. I used to have hair that covered them most of the time.
The start was an air horn. There was a false start when the starter was testing it out. "No! Wait!" "OK, now." The course isn't designed to be a burner, the first turn is 90 degree right at about five yards past the starting line. I was about 3-4 rows back, although it wasn't packed at all. Lots of walkers and they were all in the back (halleluiah!). It's 30 or so yards to the street when we made another 90 degree right ... onto the sidewalk. This race will have to be reconfigured if they start to get a big turnout. The next half mile is on the sidewalk. I checked my pace as we headed past the American Legion building. 7:10! Not what I had in mind. My tempo run on Monday had been about 8:00, which is why I'd planned that pace for the day. 7:10 was way out there. In the past, I'd have figured this was my pace and then just tried to hang on as best I could. These days I'm so much wiser and conservative in my racing (NOT!), but I did pull back a little to what seemed more appropriate. Something I thought I could maintain for a couple of more miles.
I looked ahead and thought I counted a dozen or so runners ahead of me. About what I figured, based on the competition in previous years. I decided top ten was my target for the day, but with 2-1/2 miles to go, there wasn't too much to base that on. But it's good to have a goal, right? Making the next turn put us on a nearly half mile section of road that was fortunately not too busy on a Saturday morning. There's no sidewalk on this road and they had us on the right side of it, with the traffic if there had been any. No real issues with it except the dusting of snow we had, on top of the leaves that were on the ground made for some slippery footing. I took advantage of the no traffic thing and ran in the car lane. I passed one guy a little younger than me I thought, and then one of the high school kids. I'll call him Big Hair because he had a huge mess of it. He was also a pretty loud strider, too, because I could hear him close behind me most of the race. Guess that helped keep me focused.
Mile 1 came in at 7:24. Faster than I'd expected, but it felt about right so I tried to hold the pace there. They had a table with water set up shortly after that but it didn't look like anyone ahead of me had taken any. I'm always a little surprised with 5K water stops. Someone later said all the cups were iced over. Brr.
This is a twisty sort of race course, through the neighborhood streets. 100% flat, which is nice for me anyway. No hills and only two days of speed work in my training so far. I could hear Big Hair behind me and the students watching the course were cheering for him, but his steps seemed to be farther back, so I didn't check. I was still feeling pretty strong, too. Mile 2 was 7:25.
Usually the second mile in a 5K is the longest (seems like), but this time it was #3. I've done this race 3-4 times or more. You'd think I would know the course by now. Anyway, there was some zigging and zagging. I passed another guy - 30-ish AG - and felt that old familiar dead leg feeling. The legs wanted to slow down, but I made them wait ... as much as I could. At 2.75 miles there's another 90 left onto the school grounds. My sons' XC coach was there. He gave me a low five and told me I still had the Master's title. Before getting to the track for the final 300, there was a section of construction with soft dirt and then some grass behind the locker rooms. That piece turned out to be my slowest part. I was afraid the younger guys behind me would put on a kick that I wouldn't be able to match and I'd lose my spot. Ahead of me was the first female. I wasn't going to catch her.
Mile 3 was 7:31. Pretty sure I lost those 5 seconds on the dirt and grass, so splits for the day were just about even. Tough to do in a 5K. Official finish time - 22:47.1. 11th place overall and first runner over 50. So there's an AG win.
Normally I stick around this one for the awards, which take forever since they wait for all the walkers and then do 20-30 AGs, but Mrs. Dave had lots of plans for the afternoon, so I booked it home.
Not a great day, but very satisfying for a few reasons. First, those solid, even splits. Faster than I thought I'd be. The AG win of course. The calf, which had been bugging me since Wednesday was 100% quiet. (it's been a worry off and on since then, so I'm trying to be careful now). And Louie, the aggravated knee, was a model joint.
So, on to Rehoboth.
Last week was a great week of pre-training and the only day I took off was Thursday because I was traveling to Arizona to see my BFF! I only ran at total of 6.5 miles the whole week but I got in a whole lot of cross-training, a great 5K, and some quality time with Erin!
Monday (11/5), I took my usual barbell lunch class. I’ve started adding more weight and can certainly tell a difference! I didn’t want to add too much too soon, because I don’t want to screw anything up. I’m all about being a smart athlete these days, and I have nothing to prove to anyone.
There’s a step under there that we lay on…
Tuesday, I was going to run but just ended up doing Kelli’s spin class only. I looooooooove spinning again!
We get a cool view of the city from the studio! I’ll get to see the sun rise in the Friday AM class!
Wednesday, I ran hill repeats since I didn’t run the day before. I hadn’t ran any hill repeats since the shin splints started and I was curious as to how it would feel. I ran them faster than I normally would and I started feeling my shin. It wasn’t excruciating but it didn’t feel good. However, it wasn’t sore afterwards and I haven’t felt it anymore, especially when I was running fast on Saturday – more on that later. This has been the weirdest “injury” ever.
Thursday, I was traveling to Yuma, AZ to see Erin! I took stairs instead of escalators (when possible) and walked as much as I could to. When I got to Arizona, I went to Erin’s gym to watch her teach her kids Crossfit class. They were so cute and eager to learn, and I also ran and skipped around with them all.
I HAD to stop for In-n-Out, doi.
Friday, I took a Crossfit class that Erin was teaching. The session itself was an hour long but the actual workout had a max time of 16 minutes. We had to do a 21 calorie row, 15 tricep dips (supposed to be with rings but…PFFFF yeah right! I certainly modified mine), and a 400 meter run. It was 3 rounds for time and you were supposed to be done before 16 minutes elapsed. I did it in 14:30, with my modified dips. Whew! Deceptive! I didn’t puke though!
Saturday, was the City of Yuma Turkey Trot 5K/10K, which is part of a series their Parks & Rec is having throughout the year – Erin is doing the series. This was the first race of the series and runs through March, because it gets hot as FUCK there in the summer. They basically have summer and fall there – that’s about it. The weather was perfect and the wind had finally settled down for the first time since I’d been there. People were FREEZING in the lower 60 temp! It’s easy to want to make fun of that but I can’t imagine having to live in 120 degrees in the summer….
I told Erin that I’d likely see her at the finish since she’d planned to run about 23 minutes. I hadn’t been running anything faster than mid-8s and really didn’t think I’d be able to hold anything in the 7m/m range. Well… I honestly never intend to sandbag my times but it ALWAYS happens when I get to sea level! I never know what I’m going to run or how I’m going to feel. We started and I told myself that I’d just go with how I felt. Well, I felt good – really good. I started off with what I felt was conservative. I didn’t look at my watch until the first mile chimed at 8:02. Oh wow! In CO, an 8:30 pace feels like work. The course was an out and back so I was able to see who was in front of me when we turned around a half mile later. I could see that there weren’t many ladies in front of me and Erin was reachable. Race Chris just can’t help but to chase the pony tails! So that is what I did.
The local RWB chapter snapped a photo of me!
Folks around me were slowing down and I just kept speeding up – Mile two chimed at 7:50 and I still felt great and not winded at all. Right after the two mile marker, I caught up to Erin. I’d planned to just stick with her but felt I had more in the tank, so I took off. I didn’t hear a peep out of my shin and everything else felt so good. I forget how fast 5K fly by, especially on a super flat course. The elevation gain was 11 feet! HAHA! Mile three chimed in at 7:47 and I crossed the finish line at 24:34. That’s a negative split race, BABY! I was 2nd in the 30-39 AG, Erin was 3rd. I was 4th female overall and Erin was 5th!
It isn’t a goofy pic if it doesn’t have a million side chins, haha!
This race really gave me a confidence boost for Rehoboth and makes me hopeful that I can run a course PR.
Sunday, Erin and I took the kids to Telegraph Pass. Her son had never hiked very far so we hadn’t planned to go to the top (5 mile RT), but he made it four miles!! Go O! I’m happy for Erin that they actually have some mountains to climb out there in BFE!
That girl can do pull-ups with Ro on her back! BEAST!
Thanks for reading!
They set right where I left them 3 weeks ago.
I have had no reason to use them since then.
The cold grey that covers my life has now moved in, in full.
I have hopes that I will once again get the chance to use them soon.
But the decisions I have made in the past have put me here today.
I know that the glow of relief I need will return some day.
Until that day comes, they will stay put, but not forgotten.
Oh, I suppose that there is a chance of 2 or 3 bright moments that will show up.
I look forward to those few short times.
There is little that I can do about it in the meantime.
Come March next year, things will be better.
I look forward to having the need to putting them back on.
My Sunglasses! 😁🤦♂️
Winter is long and dark here in Wisconsin.
October 2018 in Review
Total mileage for the month: 10 (all on the AlterG treadmill) -- which was markedly different than my other months this year: January - 207, February - 254, March - 298, April - 307, May - 355, June - 232, July - 290, August - 357, September - 305.
At least I hit double digits! I am trying not to think about the fact that my pre-injury average daily mileage was higher than this monthly total pre-injury... However, my total workout duration came in at 71 hours and 23 minutes, which blew my mind...that's almost 2 work weeks! I also did some walking just to get outside, but didn’t count that as exercise.
Oct. 1-Oct. 7: 0 miles, 12:50 total cardio cross-training, 2:38 strength training
Oct. 8-14: 1 mile (on the AlterG treadmill), 13:45 cardio cross-training, 2:45 strength training
Oct. 15-21: 0 miles, 14:05 cardio cross-training, 2:40 strength training
Oct. 22-29: 4 miles (on the AlterG treadmill), 11:15 cardio cross-training, 3:00 strength training
Oct. 29-Nov. 4: 5 miles (AlterG), 14:00 cardio cross-training, 2:40 strength training - which is a lifetime exercise PR week
Happy Halloween/it's 48* & pouring!
The only racing I did was to the pool when the YMCA unlocked its front doors at 5:00 a.m. - when trying to simulate a long run before work, every second counts! I am not even kidding when I say I was waiting by the door at 4:57 a.m....
I missed the Panther Run 5K and the Kansas City Half Marathon. I will also be missing the Bass Pro Marathon (slated to be my longest training run) and the California International Marathon this season.
I did a lot of cross-training workouts this month, trying to maintain fitness and because time passes much faster in the pool/on the bike/on the elliptical when you're doing intervals. I'm not going to list them out, because it would be a long list of #notrunning
I also did several cross-training doubles this month, but again #notrunning
Full body strength workouts: I completed my full strength circuit twice per week, did 10 minutes of core work more days than not, and did a lot of rehab strength work.
Favorite workout: I got into some of my spin bike workouts, trying to beat the farthest I'd done in 90 minutes (my usual length of ride). I am 98% certain that my spin bike isn't calibrated correctly, but I think it's comparable to itself from day to day, and my PR was 40.3 miles in 90 minutes.
Spin bike stats (95 min. & 40.81 miles)
+ a smile (not my PR ride)
No real ones, but I did some 2:30+ cross-training sessions. The first time I did 2 hours on the elliptical I was sore from it...
I approached cross-training with abandon during my injury, aiming to mimic or exceed what I would be running. Here is what I did the week of October 1-7:
Monday - a.m. 30 minutes cycling and 30 minutes on the Max Trainer (a stair stepper/elliptical combo machine that my friend Amy has); p.m. 75 minutes aquajogging and 10 minutes core
Tuesday - a.m. 90 minutes spin bike including a fartlek workout of 2 x 4'/3'/2/1'; lunch 28 minutes of core/arm/floor glute work
Wednesday - a.m. 50 minutes of lap swimming including intervals followed by 40 minutes of aquajogging including intervals (90 minutes in the pool) and 8 minutes core
Thursday - a.m. 90 minutes ellipitcal including intervals; lunch 44 minutes full body strength session
Friday - a.m. 2:30 aquajogging, including intervals the final 35 minutes...I can't believe I did this either. Also 8 minute core (I do 8-10 minutes core every day when I'm running also).
Saturday - a.m. 95 minutes elliptical with intervals in the final 30, and 30 minutes strength; p.m. 30 minutes elliptical and 10 minutes core
Sunday - a.m. 90 minutes on the spin bike, including 20' warm up, tempo efforts of 20', 15', 10', 5' w/ 5' recoveries, 5' cool down (this got me 36.3 miles!); p.m. 22 minutes core/glute work.
Most days I did interval workouts, to get my heart rate up and because the time passed faster when I did. With running you should never do workouts every day, but with cross-training you pretty much can (or at least I did without knowing any better). My body felt different because there was no pounding, but initially I sure got sore from various cross-training workouts. I guess after not biking or swimming for almost 3 years, jumping into 90+ minutes at a time was a bit of a shock!
Due to all the cross-training I did this month, my television watching increased dramatically. I usually don't watch TV. Sometimes on weekends I'll watch a movie with my family, and Jon and I like to watch marathons (we usually find the broadcasts on YouTube a week or so after the events), but no actual TV-watching occurs unless I'm injured. Jon and Albani have our DVR timers booked solid, which I was kind of appalled about because I don't think they watch that much TV either, but that limited my time slots for recording anything (also the TV in my workout room is ancient so there is no Netflix or similar option; I'm surprised it even hooks up to our Dish!). I searched for shows I'd enjoy at times they weren't recording anything, which was really just overnight and in the early mornings, and I ended up recording a bunch of old episodes of Scrubs and New Girl, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed while on my spin bike. At the YMCA I watched whatever the best option available was on early limited cable, including Friends, King of Queens, Everybody Loves Raymond, That 70s Show, and several HGTV flipping houses and redecorating programs.
It's funny how we tend to replace one obsession with another. I wasn't planning to cross-train nearly as much as I did, but being unable to run I quickly got caught up in trying to set records in any way I could with cross-training, including longest duration of activities, farthest and fastest bike rides, etc. The week of October 15-21 I decided I was going to cardio cross-train for 14 hours, and it ended up being a little challenging with a work trip in there, but I got it done. Then I made the following week a cut-back week!
It wasn't an easy month for me. Although I think overall I handled being injured betting than I have in the past, several break-downs occurred (of course, I also learned a lot). "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." - John 14:27
We were kind of boring this month. Jon and I both worked a lot!
Our garden fell victim to the early cold snap.
We started burning wood in our fireplace on October 13 - much earlier than usual!
We went to a great fall fest with a corn maze, hayrides, carnival games, bounce houses, a pumpkin patch, etc. on October 20.
I had a birthday...which further made me worry that my days of PR-chasing are slipping away and that this injury screwed it all up.
Our church has a fun fall fest event on October 27.
Halloween of course. Albani was the Grim Reaper, to my chagrin, especially because our two major Halloween events were at church. Jon tried to convince her to get a girly costume, but she was set on this! I dressed up as a working mother yet again this year.
She definitely wins the photogenic award in our family!
I loved how these came out!
Rutledge Wilson Farm fall fest
My mom's name is Irene so we laughed at this
Inflatables are always a hit
Homemade gifts are the best!
Bandit got me a bird & a mouse for my b-day
Intense pumpkin carving
Fishing for candy
There are people in those dinosaurs!
Walking through the Sutphin Boulevard Metro station, it was apparent we were not in suburban Atlanta anymore. People moved rapidly. They were dressed in suits and jeans and everything in between. All ages. All races. Speaking a bevy of languages unless they had tuned out the noise with earbuds.
Adam and I waited as crowds dispersed from arriving trains. I wheeled the suitcase and carried the backpack, hauling it up stairs, and through each train transfer. When I found myself feeling burdened by the physical weight of our luggage and the mental weight of worrying Adam would fall or be too exhausted the rest of the weekend, I pushed the thoughts out of my head. I should be so fortunate to have the physical strength to handle the luggage and the endearing partner who treks all over the country to see me for 20 seconds doing the thing I love. I am LUCKY.
After a brief respite at Roger's hotel to drop off our luggage, the 3 of us hopped in a Lyft to travel to the expo. Approximately 3 blocks into the ride, our driver was pulled over by the police. Plainclothes officers appeared on both the right and left side of the vehicle. They instructed us, as passengers, that we were not being detained and that we had the right to leave the vehicle as long as we paid our fare for our travel thus far.
We opted to stay.
The driver got off with a warning after flashing a card that indicated his brother was in the police force. Apparently it is illegal to have an earbud in your ear as a taxi/Lyft/Uber driver in the state of New York.
Nearly 45 minutes and 1.7 miles later, we arrived at the expo. Roger and I picked up our bibs, bought some swag at the New Balance store, and the boys each bought a pillow from the official bedding sponsor. Roger and I picked up pace bands, found our names on the giant poster, and wrote our goals on a sticker wall.
As we were exiting the expo and attempting to take photos with the giant Shalane Flanigan poster, Roger spotted Jeannie Rice, the record holder for 70+ females. She ran Chicago a few weeks ago in 3:27!
After transferring our luggage to our Airbnb on 71st Street, the 3 of us sat down to a very nice Italian meal in the same neighborhood. It was a dreary November night and shared a warm meal in a tiny brick-walled room that oozed with history.
Leaving Adam to sleep for a bit longer, I headed out to Central Park for a short shakeout run. Our Airbnb was just 2 blocks from the park and I soon found myself running in one of the most iconic places in the world. The leaves were absolutely stunning and I was almost a bit disappointed that I only had 20 minutes worth of run. I ran into Ms. Ritz and wondered what kind of dumb luck I must have to find one of the few New Yorkers I know from the internet.
I grabbed coffee, roused Adam out of bed, and we headed downtown to meet with Roger and visit the World Trade Center Memorial.
To say it is moving is an understatement. The museum is located underground, between the two towers and was carefully thought out with each turn. I found myself choked up about things I hadn't thought of in many years and watched as Adam, who was in Manhattan on 9/11, recalled a day that will forever be scarred in his mind.
Saturday Afternoon & Evening
A group of Loopsters decided to meet at Parm, exactly 1 block from our Airbnb. We had lunch and introductions and talked nervously about the impending race in the morning. Our plan to meet up in the Athlete's Village was solidified. After lunch, we walked 1 more block to Magnolia Bakery and loaded up on sweets.
Everyone parted ways at this point. Adam and I took a brief nap and then watched football until it got dark. We ventured out to Broadway and 71st for counter pizza and brought it back to eat at our apartment.
I read a bit of Open by Andre Agassi (I know very little about tennis, picked this up after hearing it recommended on a podcast, and am really enjoying it!) and then went to sleep. I'm usually a good sleeper and marathon night is not much different. The nap meant it took me a bit longer to fall asleep and the strange rumbles from NYC woke me up a few times, but I felt reasonably rested when I woke up. The extra hour of sleep helped too as I don't normally get up at 4:50 a.m.
Race Day - Prerace
I planned to meet Roger at 42nd & Vanderbilt at 5:30 a.m. to take the bus to Staten Island together. I woke up, dressed, warmed up my coffee (that I bought at Starbucks the night before), and grabbed my prepacked race bag. I kissed Adam goodbye and headed to the train station. The 1 train was fast and I got on right away. I had a lovely chat with a woman in her 60s running her 44th marathon from Ottawa. Then I waited for the 7 train for at least 15 minutes in the Times Square station, knowing that it was getting closer and closer to the time Roger would no longer be waiting for me.
By the time I got to Grand Central, it was nearly 5:45 a.m. and Roger was long gone. I followed the huge crowd of runners around the library, covering nearly a mile in line before I got on an actual bus. I sat next to a guy from England and we chatted the first hour to pass the time. I ate my pseudo overnight oats (the ones I brought dumped all over the suitcase so I bought muesli at the corner store instead).
The bus stopped on the Verrazano Bridge and we waited. And waited. And waited. The last 2 miles of the bus ride took about an hour. It was well after 8:00 a.m. by the time we pulled up to the Athlete's Village and everyone rushed off the bus to get through security and finally(!!) pee.
I found the blue village and looked around for our pre-determined meetup spot without any success. I wandered around the whole village once, grabbing a bagel, and then decided to just save my legs. Not 10 minutes after sitting, the first wave was called.
I was really thirsty by this point. I had just had the cup of coffee and couldn't find a place giving out water. It looked like there might be some near or in the corral, so I headed that way. Unfortunately there was not any to be found. I took one more chance to pee and then sat in the corral in my jammies until it was about 20 minutes to gun time.
Already too warm in my arm warmers, I wrapped them around my waist. So now I had 6 gels in my sports bra, arm warmers around my waist, and I was thirsty. Oh, and I forgot anti- chafing stuff!
Our wave started walking towards the bridge, climbing over the street we had just been parked on during the bus ride. The day is picture perfect. A few wispy clouds hang in the sky, but it is blue and crisp and there is hardly any wind. I feel a sense of patriotism as I walk up to the iconic start.
The pro men's group is announced and it occurs to me that I've never been this close to the elites before! They are only about 2 minutes ahead of me and while I don't see them from where I'm standing, there is something very special about racing right behind the world's best. After a short speech from the race director, the cannon is fired, and we are off!
The first mile is up, up, up. As we climb to the top of the bridge, we are offered an incredible view of the Manhattan skyline and the water below. Runners leap on top of the median to take photos of themselves and of each other all along the bridge. 8:29
After the up, up, up of the first mile, the second mile is an exhilarating down, down, down. With fresh legs and a warmed up heart, we hit the descent hard and fast and it is fun! 7:09
As the course enters Brooklyn, crowds begin to swell along the street and I fall into a more normal pace. I am working at a 70% effort. The foot is on the gas, but I'm conscious of how much further we have to go. I finally get a chance to get Gatorade and water and chug both down, ready to get to the next hydration stop for me. 7:30
Mentally, I'm in a weird place. My body seems to be working okay, but I'm not soaking in the energy of the crowds as I thought I would. I have my music blasting in my ears and maybe that is to blame for not feeling as jazzed by their presence. I'm latching onto other runners to stay with their pace, but everyone is still kind of sorting things out and the self-seeding is evident early. 7:30
Out of the corner of my eye, I notice someone getting close to me. Like, really close. And then I realize it is Stephen! We chat for a quarter mile, keeping our words clipped at short sentences, and ask each other how it's going, despite knowing it is far too early to make predictions. 7:35
I let Stephen slip away, focusing on my own race and look down at my watch only when it chirps off the mile splits. Considering I want to be at a 7:49 pace to hit a 3:25, I realize I am running pretty stupid. I start looking for the intersection that Adam said he used to live at in Brooklyn. 4th & 9th. When I get there, I imagine it is so much is the same and so much has changed from when he lived there. 7:36
I try to relax a bit. Drop my shoulders. Shorten my stride. Pull the reigns a little tighter. 7:22
Well, that didn't work. Soon thereafter, I find myself on the heels of the 3:25 group and happily fall into the giant bunch surrounding the guy with the foam Statue of Liberty hat. 7:32
I let the pacer do the work and find myself relaxing a bit, putting the mental work in his hands. I am finally feeling a bit better hydration-wise and am remembering to take my gels as planned. 8:03
Into the double digits, I was more relaxed as I tucked into the pace group. I started to take in the crowds a bit more as I released the mental work of pacing. Bands played music, spectators spilled into the streets, and our pacer riled up groups along the way. 7:44
I noticed views of the skyline as we wound around Bedford. The skyscrapers jutted out into the clear blue sky and the East River seemed to glitter. 7:48, 7:52
The course take a couple of sharp turns in the 13th mile and the crowds lining the streets box in the runners. There was something magical about trusting your fellow competitor to keep up the pace while running within inches of each other. 7:59
The Pulaski Bridge is open and exposed. The sun beats down as we near midday and I feel a sticking sensation on my left foot. A large stick with “Andrea” written on it is stuck to the bottom of my shoe. There is no way to grab is mid-stride so I veer to the left and rip it off. 7:53
Climbing towards the Queensboro Bridge and onto the bridge is unsettling. The pacer has backed way off the pace to allow for the climb and I’m raring to just get it over with. But I know there is still more than 10 miles to go and I’m not willing to risk going ahead yet. 8:26, 8:34
The pack reaches the highest point of the bridge and then we are flying! Bounding down the backside of the bridge rattles my quads and I’m loving every second of the sweet downhill. 6:38
As we hit the streets of Manhattan for the first time, the roar of the crowd is deafening. We fly down the street and while I’m working, I’m also feeling reasonably okay considering I’m reaching the point where it can start to get tough. 7:05
I stay with the pace group for another mile and a half, but the fast miles have me jazzed and I break ahead on the Willis Avenue Bridge. It feels bold and decisive, but I’m suddenly feeling free to push the pedal a bit harder. 7:27, 7:35
The next two miles takes us around two blocks where we can see competitors ahead. I’m beginning to pass more and more people. All the gels have caught up with my stomach and while I feel nauseous, I repeat to myself to “stay strong between the ears”. 7:51
Somehow I remember to take a gel at mile 22 even though I’m in the mode of just-get-to-finish. It may have zero effect on my final miles, but all I think about is looking strong if I can spot Adam near the finish. 7:25
Fifth Avenue is PACKED with people and I am grabbing high fives from little kids and pumping my fists at spectators who catch my big grin. I know it is cheesy to be racing at mile 23 with a big grin on my face, but I can’t hide the fact that I’m excited to be in line for meeting my goal. 7:19
There is a steady incline at mile before entering the park and while I feel my stride shortening and my heart pumping faster, I know to save the real work for that final mile. 7:55
Entering Central Park is everything and nothing as I imagined it. The crowds are thick under the yellow-leaved trees and loved ones busily scan the runners, looking for their person. The downhill feels good after the last slog on Fifth and even though I know it is early, I start looking for Adam to my left. 7:35
When I finally see the mile 25 sign, I am on the verge of being frantic. I want so badly to see Adam that I can’t conjure up the course map in my head and panic a bit when I don’t see him after taking the first right.
It isn’t until I see the turn at Columbus Circle that I remember he said he would try to be closer to the grandstands and I crane my neck, hoping he sees me. The sea of people seem so vast. But then suddenly I hear him calling my name and I’m practically leaping as I make my way over to him. I give him (and the people around him) a high-five and I’m so, so happy! 7:42
Coming into the finish line stretch, I am just simply happy. The grandstands are roaring, the flags of the nations are lining the streets, the competitors are giving it their final push to the finish, and it is a stunningly beautiful fall day in New York. Last 0.6 in 7:30
I knew there was no way I was going to be in PR shape, but I did know that I was prepared to potentially have a BQ. I put a lot of thought and effort into my workouts and strength-training going into the race to get me to the start (and finish!) line uninjured. To finish with 3:24:19 was a perfect day at the races.
As I was smiling like the biggest goober, overwhelmed with the sense of completion after collecting my medal and heatsheet, someone appeared close to me again. Stephen! How on earth we ran into each twice in an event of 50,000+ people is beyond me. It was perfect to walk through the finish chute together, decompressing the race.
I honestly don’t remember what we even discussed in our post-race euphoria (delirium?), but I felt this sense of completion as we collected our too-heavy-for-post-race food bags and made our way to the ponchos. Maybe it was because I had great company or maybe because I had a great race, but I thought the poncho/exit walk was not as long as I had heard. I was almost a little sad when it was time to leave and make my way back to the apartment - which was delightfully 2.5 blocks from the poncho exit!
I immediately jumped into the shower at the Airbnb and heard voices while in the tiny bathroom. I thought they were coming from one of the nearby apartments, but then realized that Adam must have made it back with someone in tow. Brad’s wife Nancy had found the apartment!
I got dressed, sat down for a bit, and then felt a bit nauseous. The water and chocolately Gatorade protein drink I had just consumed came right back up. Luckily, not only did I make it to the bathroom, but I felt 1,000 times better afterwards.
Soon Gwen and Brad were there and we lazed around for a short while, waiting for Roger to arrive. The group then went in search of food and wound up at a classic NY diner. Scott joined us soon thereafter and then we squeezed in Liz and one of her local friends. Everyone was in good spirits, chatting and enjoying the post-race glow.
A smaller group went to a nearby whiskey bar for another round and soon our group dwindled to 3 with Roger and I sipping beers and finishing the last of the hummingbird cake. Life is good when the weekend ends surrounded by friends with tired legs, a happy heart, and a tummy full of beer and cake.
Not big like, "I got engaged!" That happened so long ago that engagement rings were made of charcoal. Don't expect another of those anyway. Not big like, " BQ!" I may get another one of those someday, although with the new qualifying times even my new AG is going to take some work. No, that's not it. Not even big like, "I put $1 in the vending machine and got TWO Snickers bars!"
A few weeks ago I noticed this little pimple thing on my gums above tooth #8 (that's the front right one, if you aren't up on your dental terms). Some discoloration around and above that tooth, too. I've seen this before, so I knew what it was. I smacked my mouth on the edge of a school desk in the 8th grade and chipped it. Over the years, it's needed a crown, a root canal, a replacement crown and what they call an apicoectomy (a nasty procedure where the endodontist digs into the gum above the tooth and cuts out a piece of the top where an infection has developed. That little pimple and discoloration meant that there was another infection. A round of antibiotics failed to do the trick, so I was up for another apicoectomy. Not my favorite thing.
It took about an hour last Tuesday, and they encouraged me to take the day off work and sit around with ice on it. Bonus of this was that my client had the day off as a holiday for the election, but my employer did not. There was some boring training planned for most of the consultants, which I'd already attended and wasn't interested in another round. I'd originally planned a vacation day, but now I could use a legit sick day and save my vacation for trips and races. It also meant no running or exercise on Tuesday and since Tuesday is a strength day, it meant no squats or lunges or the rest of that silly stuff. Double win!
I rarely get a day of total rest. I finished the latest Jack Reacher, watched a couple of movies, took a nap. Pretty glorious. I also voted, although I bucked the trend of facebook posting the event. (In case anyone was wondering.)
Wednesday, I'm sitting at my desk talking to someone. I go to shift my leg, as part of the habit I've developed to help my knee not hurt like crazy when I get up to walk after sitting for more than 10 minutes and notice something so, so very strange. It doesn't hurt.
My knee doesn't hurt. At all. There's no pain in my knee. Zero. None. Absolutely nothing. Wait. What? How? Crazy, right?
This lasted the whole day. When I get home, I know I have intervals planned for the second time since before Rehoboth last year. A bunch of 400s, although as usual I can't exactly remember how many. I'd been sort of worried about them because of Louie, of course. Now I'm not so worried. I'm afraid to be excited because injuries don't just go away.
Anyway, I was so flustered I didn't bother taking time to program the workout and load it to TWYTBN (The Watch Yet To Be Named). With Hal, I could program it directly on my wrist - a real backward step with the newer generation if you asked me. I just started running the 1.75 miles to the track. Pretty chilly (41o), windy (17 mph from the west). Whatever. My knee didn't hurt. On the way I still couldn't remember how many 400s I was supposed to be doing - 8? 10? 12? - but eventually settled on 12. I knew I was going to have a little more than my planned total of 6 for the day, but didn't do the extra math to figure out how that would translate into the right number of repeats. Since I'm training for Rehoboth's pikermi now, it stood to reason that more was probably better and since Louie didn't hurt (I may have mentioned that), it wouldn't be doing me any harm. I could always cut it short and hobble back home. I half expected that to happen, to be completely honest.
I like to run my intervals on feel, not checking the pace until after each rep at the earliest, and sometimes not even until after the whole run. I tend to press too much. At this point in my comeback that would be extraordinarily bad. So I kept TWYTBN under my sleeve until I got home, and these splits were just as much a surprise to me as anyone else. I'll get to those in a minute.
About 4 reps in, a guy ran past the track. A few minutes later I see him on the track, getting ready to do some rounds. Run together? I'd have been open to that, I guess. But while I was still a hundred meters from the end of the 400, he lined up at the start line and took off, tracking a just a tad faster than I was going. Intervals? I tried to guess by his pace, then by how many laps he did. But he never stopped. One, (800s? Nope.) two (1200s? Nope.), three (1600? Nope.), four, five. Eventually I gave up. He did pass me once while I was on a recovery 200. Only had to say, "Hey," without actually engaging in conversation (score!). He was still going when I finished my 12 and trotted home.
Did I mention my knee didn't hurt?
Left calf got a little tight, as did the right adductor. Had to be careful through the last few reps instead of pushing, which I guess is a good thing. They bothered yesterday, too, so I'll need to give them some stick/ foam roller attention the next couple of days. But there was no trouble with the knee (I may have mentioned that).
Average 400 - 1:46 (7:05)
Jogged easy home and saw my total for the day was 7.75 miles. The plan was six, with 8 x 400. Oops.
Mondays tempo was also a success. 6 total with 4 @ 8:00, including 7:34 for the last one. Not expecting a PR in four weeks, but 1:40-45 seems reasonable.
Let's talk about Saturday (last), too, shall we? This was my first double digit run since you know, and I'm finding adventure in most of my running again. Ten miles means I can run to some of my fun places to run. I can get to where the hills are, for one thing. The city's Turkey Trot was Saturday, and I thought about running it, because it's starts at the park across the street and if I was in shape I'd be among the leaders. But I really wanted to run ten miles. So I ran the Power Road Footbridge. It's ten miles and has some climbing and the weather was beautiful and I ran a nice easy pace and it was the most amazing thing.
Got back near the house just a few minutes before they started the race, so I hung around and soaked up the atmosphere.
Going to run a 5K tomorrow, though. It's the one at the high school where the boys ran. I've done it several times in the past when it didn't interfere with marathons. I normally win the Master's title, but didn't defend my crown last year while getting ready for Rehoboth. It's a cutback week so only 8 miles on the schedule. Just a few more before/after the race and we'll see how the competition is this year.
Did I say anything about my knee not hurting? So, that's a thing now.
Hey, wasn't the New York City Marathon something? I'm not one for repeating marathons, but I'd make an exception for NYCM.
Oh, and I suppose I should also note here that the decision for Rehoboth was made. Sort of gave that away with my note about a time goal up there. Free flight. House just a mile away from the main group. And I'm running well enough for a decent pikermi. This will be fun (duh!).
Only four weeks to go. And then we can start looking at spring marathons for real.
"...after the finish line, I stopped and smiled, and then disappeared, as my NYCM poncho fell empty to the ground..."
Nah, just kidding. I'll be back for more. (just like Luke)
Anyway, I felt like Luke before the race; A grumpy curmudgeon saying "what's the point?". But I decided to show up and save the universe for a happy ending, because that's what Jedi do.
OK, back to reality.
I flew to New York on Thursday with no big goals. I just wanted to enjoy the fabulosity of the New York Marathon for the second time. Planned to just run and hope I didn't die too badly. I was happy to be seeing a few of my best buddies there. I was happy about the weather forecast. I was happy to see my brother and his wife and enjoy the (free) hospitality at their house in NJ. I was happy my wife was able to come and watch. And I was happy to have gotten through a week of dental crises.
Two weeks earlier I had a toothache which was a large abscess. I needed a root canal, but couldn't get it scheduled until Tuesday of marathon week. That's fine, the dentist said. Better before than after, and you should have a quick recovery. He gave me an anitibiotic which killed the pain after two days. Tuesday I went in for the root canal which really isn't that big a deal. Just a long time in the chair. But the endodontist couldn't finish it - one of the roots was tricky and he wasn't in his office with his top equipment. So I had to reschedule for Wednesday with another endodontist. Once there, she said I really needed TWO teeth rooted out, but she could do them both right then and there. So she did. By Thursday morning I headed to the airport with no tooth pain and relieved that it all got taken care of.
But then the pain came back (which she said might happen). Thursday night it was so bad I was up half the night with a throbbing jaw. She had given me a prescription in case of this so I got the antibiotics again and super-ibuprofen for the pain on Friday morning. But it was still hurting a lot. So I called the doc and she got me another prescription over the phone for a corticosteroid (prednisolone) which is an anti-inflammatory. Picked that up Friday afternoon and popped three in my mouth. By bedtime the pain had subsided quite a bit, and by Saturday I was basically as good as new. Phew!
Met up with Carissa (with hub) and Gonzo (with wife) and Roger and Liz in Manhattan for lunch and bakery goodies. Great to see them and talk running. Having Loop buddies all over the country is such a great perk.
Sunday broke cool (45) and sunny with no wind. Just perfect. I got dropped off at the Fort Wadsworth start village by my brother at about 8:00 and had time to chill out. Potty lines were short and I managed to find Gonzo so we got to cruise around together. It all went smoothly. I had packed two GUs and my phone in my Flipbelt, as well as a little pill case with my steroid, antibiotic and pain pills I was supposed to take. Because I was still worried the stress of the race would activate the tooth pain and wanted to stay on schedule. I kept my phone out to take pics and video the start like so many of the people around me. On the bridge after the start, a lot of people stopped, climbed up on the divider and took pics. So many foreigners and languages. It's very cosmopolitan. And cool. Feels pretty special. I took a quick video, but I couldn't resort to actually stopping. My Garmin was running! This was a race after all!
Then, as I fiddled to get my phone into my flipbelt, the pillbox popped out, fell to the ground and popped open. Pills scattered across the roadway. I gasped and stopped for a second, but realized it was hopeless and kept running with the crowd. Oh well. What will be will be.
I was jogging easily and enjoying the view and the scene at about 9:30 pace, but eased into race pace and got over the crest and to mile 1 in 8:59. Then mile two is mostly coming down the bridge and I couldn't help running a 7:36, although I was just cruising. My pace "goal" was to keep it above 8:00, preferably around 8:15, and try to hold back as much as possible and delay the inevitable bonk. Yes, the goal was to go slow, not to go fast. And for the most part I was successful. I cruised through Brooklyn just enjoying the massive crowds. Brooklyn is my favorite part of the race. It's the loudest. Louder than First avenue in Manhattan. Lots of bands and music and people with microphones. And so many are screaming! I tell ya, it makes you feel like a rock star the whole way. It feels like they are screaming just for you. I did lots of hand slapping and smiling. The miles clicked by. 8:03, 7:56, 8:02, 8:01 through six. Feeling good.
At mile 7 I decided to take a GU, but I had a heck of a time getting it out of my flipbelt. Just could not find the hole. After about a minute I decided to pull over and stop and get it out. I knew the fuel was more important than the time. And again, I didn't really have a goal finish time that mattered. So I stopped, and it still took me about 30 seconds to get the darn thing out of the belt. But it finally emerged and I moved on. Hence mile 7 was 8:44. I was taking gatorade at every single mile, and occasionally water too. I wasn't sweating much, so dehydration wasn't a concern. But I feel like I never fuel enough, so today I was going to max out on the gatorade. And I never got sick of it. My stomach did fine. 8-10 were 8:06, 8:00 and 7:52.
After 8 miles of constant noise, we hit a quiet patch with almost nobody cheering. This was the Orthodox Jewish section where many men could be found in their black suits and hats and long beards. None cheering. Most seeming peeved. One broke into a trot to cross the street through the runners and gave me a little smile.
By now I was starting to tire and it became more workmanlike. 11-13 were 8:09, 8:07, 8:14 and I wasn't holding back any more. Now it was an effort to maintain the pace. The endless self talk of "just keep going" started up. Each mile marker was a victory. Hit halfway in 1:47:50 which is just a hair over BQ pace. But I had no illusion about running a negative split to break 3:35. Well, OK, I thought about it. As in, wouldn't that be nice. But I didn't feel that good. I could tell my body was wearing out and the usual price would be paid. The bridge at 13 was longer and steeper than I remembered. And the suffering began.
Well, not yet. For the next three miles you are getting close to the next bridge and anticipating Manhattan. The course turns a lot and there are some good crowds again. So much screaming. In mile 14 I went for my next GU and again had trouble and had to stop to get it out of my belt. Cost maybe 15 seconds. As I was stopped, bystanders gave me pity cheers like I was dying. 8:32 and 8:37 to 15. Yes, I was slowing a bit. My hips started to hurt. I tried to relax and just run, knowing there was still a long way to go. Mile 16 was the Queensboro bridge to Manhattan. It's a long, gradual hill with no people cheering. It's a grind. I maintained a steady pace and enjoyed getting over the crest. Although the downhill hurt my quads which were already getting sore. Ugh. Mile 16 came in at 9:46 but that was due to the bridge messing up the Garmin and adding at least a tenth of a mile. I felt pretty decent as we hit First Avenue.
Manhattan was great. The crowds are big, but not as many were screaming. Sometime whole sections would be quiet. And the road is wider so it is less intimate. But still pretty darn cool. Still a rock star. By now my legs were tired and my next goal was to make it to the Bronx and mile 20 without walking, hopefully staying under 9 minute pace. I figured I had a pretty good shot at my goal of 3:45 if I could just keep going. Success! 17-19 were 8:19, 8:16, 8:21 I had a friend handing out gels at mile 18 and that gave me something to think about and run for. I managed to spot him and yell at him as I went by and he gave me a gel. Every little encounter helps keep that momentum going. Often I would pull to the side to slap some hands when I needed a boost and it really helped. Hooking up with similar paced runners helps too. I formed little pacts (in my head) to stick with different runners for different sections.
The bridge into the Bronx had me thinking about walking but I had latched onto a runner that was at my pace and she helped get me over that hill and to mile 20 in 8:39. Then there was one more bridge to get back to Manhattan. (The sign said Last Fucking Bridge) I was hurting but I kept running. 21-22 in 8:42 and 8:57. Stopped to walk though the water stops for the next few miles. Pain was fully on board now. Hips, quads, back (but the tooth was fine!) Then I happened to see a guy we had talked to in the start corral go by me in mile 22. We chatted briefly like old friends. Every little thing helps. It gave me a boost and kept me going. Now I knew there was a long slog of a climb at 23-24 to get to the park. I just tried to maintain a trotting pace and get through it, knowing my wife was waiting in the park at 24. Also knowing I had a decent time in the bag if I just kept moving. I took a couple short walk breaks when it got hard but got through 23-24 in 9:12 and 10:01.
Did I mention the beautiful day? It was so nice. Sunny, cool, no wind. The trees in the park were beautiful with many colors. The crowds were huge. I was really enjoying myself throughout the day - happy to be there, feeling like a rock star with a million fans. Just had to repeat myself because I'm still feeling the awesomeness a week later. You should run New York.
Anyway, I got to the park. Couldn't find my wife because she was on the other side of the street than I expected, and it was too loud to hear her. But she got some nice pics of me going by.
I was a little deflated after missing her, but I kept on. A couple more walk breaks. 25 was 10:12. But then with only a mile to go, finish line adrenaline kicked in. I gritted my teeth and accepted the pain and got into a slightly faster pace. Turned onto the street with 1/2 mile to go. Kind of felt better and managed to cruise all the way in without walking. No cramps. No blisters. No chafing. Mile 26 was 9:25 and the last 1/4 mile was 8:50 pace as I cruised up the hill to the finish.
9,306th out of 52,000+
As I crossed the finish, Peter Ciaccia, the retiring race director, was right in front of me, and I got a high five and a pat on the back from him. That was cool. Then it was the long walk out. But on such a nice day, it wasn't bad at all. No shivering. I had the usual soreness, but I was happy for another successful marathon.
Carissa had a rental only two blocks from the park exit, so I headed there to meet up with my wife and the others. Showered, had the first of four beers and celebrated. Later we went out with the other Loopsters for burgers and more beer. An excellent end to an excellent day.
The 3rd Jim V Gwen Race took place this morning.
Idyllic fall weather was in place. 60* with full sun and a slight breeze out of the south ~ 10 mph. (Seriously? Can winter just stay like this??)
We were racing on the boardwalk in Ocean City (with me also running a bit on the street. The race started at 1.75 mile marker. I was running south for 1.75 miles and then turning around and running back to the boardwalk, the full length of the boardwalk (3.5 miles north) before turning around to head back to the start/finish line at 1.75 mile marker.
Jim started at the 1.75 mile marker and walked North to the end of the boardwalk before turning around to head back to the finish line.
I did lots of stretching before the race and a little 1/2 mile warm up to loosen my legs up. (Learned my lesson last time.)
Jim had brought his pacers- Andrea and Charlie. I had brought my pacer in the form of Iheartradio and the inspiration from NYCM.
I had no idea what pace to go for. I had done controlled 200s last week and the best I could manage without losing form and causing pain to my hamstring was 7:55-8:00 pace. It had left me a little bummed but I've been putting in good miles lately so that's a plus.
Jim is super competitive and has the race completely figured out where he should see me if he's going to beat me. I on the other hand show up and shrug my shoulders and let my body figure out what I'm going to run.
I did the countdown...ready, set, GO! Super fancy. My legs took off and carried me down the boardwalk. After a 1/2 mile I glanced down at my Garmin and saw an 8:15 pace. Oh snap! I slowed it down and came through the 1st mile in 8:15... Oops!
I ran down the boardwalk and onto the street and into the wind. I reminded myself that once I got to 1.75 I'd turn and have the wind at my back for 3.5 miles. The pace seemed good. I did manage to slow down some but not too much.
On the way back I missed the turn back up onto the boardwalk so I had an extra block on the street. It was getting hot and I was feeling dumb for wearing my shirt that doesn't breathe. I couldn't imagine how hot Jim was in his pants and flannel shirt.
As I came down to where Jim and I passed during our last race (where he soundly beat me) I did a virtual fist pump that I hadn't seen him yet. We high fived about 2 blocks later. I knew all I had to do was keep a good pace now and I could claim victory. Jim started muttering to Charlie and Andrea, "Too soon! Too soon."
I cruised to the end of the boardwalk and turned to head for home. With the wind in my face I kept my pace under control. I was correcting my stride any time I felt any pain from overstriding. I ended up passing Jim about 4 blocks before the finish. Since I was working I just waved and kept trucking. Jim said he kept his focus on the ground and never saw my wave.
We went out for coffee afterwards and Jim kept muttering, "Too soon. I should've seen you at Wonderland. ... is it too soon to plan our next race?"
March or April -- Jim 4 miles/ Gwen 8.5 miles
Ahhhhh – the feeling of make a new training plan, with the hopes of sticking to it. It makes me even happier knowing that I’ll be training to run one of my most favorite races EVER!! I have so many great memories from the times that I’ve ran this race, so this post will be filled with memories of Shamrocks past!
I heart this picture, so much!
It feels great to start with a clean slate and new goals, and I’m super hopeful that this one will be successful. I will obviously have a goal time (which will most likely be for a PR / sub 3:53 – around an 8:45 pace), but I don’t want that time to become a burden at any point. I will obviously want to stick with the runs and cross-training I have scheduled, but I’m going to force myself into a stretching/rolling/flexibility exercise routine. Coach Chris shared this amazing CARS Routine with me, that I will be make part of my routine. I should have started it by now but haven’t. I will.
My first VA Shamrock experience (8K only) with my friend, Nikki. We drank A LOT of beer.
The new wellness center on campus is AMAZING. I feel truly lucky to have it and I hope the students do too. I’ve taken yoga, spin, Pi-yo, and strength classes and have also used the row machine and stair-stepper. The two classes I am sticking with for cross-training are Barbell Strength (like BodyPump) and spin; they just added spin this month!
Look at those faces!
So my 18 week schedule, beginning next Monday, will look like this:
Monday/Wednesday/Friday: Cross training.
Barbell – M/W – The Monday class is during lunch and I LOVE using my lunch break for it! No getting up early or staying late. Wednesdays class is a 4:30 so I don’t have to wait around at all after work.
Spin – actually they only have spin T/Th/Fri so for now I am actually planning to spin on run days. I will access how I feel with the two-a-days and if it’s too much, I’ll nix the spin. I definitely want to go on Tuesday afternoons because my bud Kelli is teaching! Fridays will just be spin – as long as I can make it to a 6:30AM class!
Tuesday: Tempo/Regular run day – I won’t start tempos until week 4 so these will just be regular run days until then. Like I said, I will assess how I feel about adding on the spin class.
My marathon PR race
Thursday: This day will be a mix of hills and track workouts. One week will be hills, the next will be speedwork on the track. It will also be another optional day to spin at lunch, but we will see if that will just be too much or not.
Friday: AM Spin / Optional rest day
Saturday: Long Run day! I will only be running three days a week and will not have any weeks that go over 30 miles total. Also, I will only be running two 20 milers – Weeks 12 and 15
I am fucking stoked. Stoked about getting to meet up with some of my best good friends at Rehoboth next month. Stoked that I feel so free and that I have control of my physical life again. Stoked for the Murphy’s stew, beer, and parTAY that will be at the Shamrock finish line. Just fucking stoked. I can’t remember the last time I felt so elated and strong!! I better bottle this shit up!
I love all of this
Weekly recaps begin next week! Happy Monday y’all and DON’T FORGET TO VOTE!
This is probably a terrible time to post, because so many of you are running exciting and big races tomorrow. But I'm just going to put this out there, and maybe someone will spot it and help me out.
After four podiatrists, an ankle surgery, many months of PT, and four pairs of custom orthotics I've still got a toe problem, with no help in sight. BUT I decided to try a wide width rocker soled shoe, because that is something that shows up in recommendations for sesamoiditis (my current problem, probably set off by change of gait resulting from the ankle problem). I bought the Hoka Gaviotas in the D width, and lo, and behold, they do seem to help. Better than the stupid inserts, anyway.
But I'm having trouble lacing them tightly enough around the ankle, because the width seems to extend to the ankle - it's not just in the toe box. Can anyone point me to a site that would give me some lacing techniques to deal with that? I've tried heel lock lacing, but maybe I'm just not doing it right - either I get it so tight it hurts, or the shoes are loose. I'm afraid to try to start running in them, unless they feel secure on my foot. I'm having trouble imagining running in such a rigid shoe anyway, but I'm desperate - I'll try anything!
Good luck to all you fasties!
Hey hey hey and I hope you had a Happy Halloween! I’m a bit candy fat at the moment.
It’s time to recap last week’s training. I’m really just happy that there IS a recap, since that means I was able to hold up and stay healthy enough for another week.
I’m a little late to recap this week, but I can tell you that I’m feeling GREAT right now. I was going through a rough patch, where I honestly started to question what I was even doing. I mean, I LOVE running, but I also love feeling healthy enough to run around with my kids and stay active in other areas. My hip soreness was starting to impact my overall quality of life.
I’m so thankful to have the resources (personal trainer and physical therapist mainly) to get me back to normal. The encouragement and advice given to me by runners (both “real life” and social media types) has helped so much too.
Monday – Planned 4 miles/Actual 4 miles
This was my treadmill run for the week. I’m really starting to like those. 4 miles doesn’t get TOO boring and I really do like the lower impact to keep my legs from getting too beat up. Something is definitely up with my wrist-based heart rate monitor these days. I’m fairly certain it has something to do with the cold. My average HR for this run was 142bpm, which is to be expected for a run at an 8:16 pace. My outside runs of a similar nature have been averaging over 160bpm! That ain’t right.
I also did a little cross-training. I’m sticking with twice a week, but I took it kind of easy. Something is better than nothing, right?
Tuesday – Planned 6 miles/Actual 6 miles
It was pants weather. Too often we go from sweating to death by the first mile to needing galoshes, all within a couple of weeks. I think the perfect running temperature is somewhere around 50 degrees. What do you think?
Average HR…167bpm. Riiiiiight.
Wednesday – Rest (Maybe I should say “non-running”)
I kicked some cross-training butt by throwing some bells around.
Thursday – Planned 6 miles/Actual 6 miles
I ran these with running buddies Brooke and MC. It was good to have the company and there was coffee! Brooke also provided me with a dozen Monster cookies in exchange for a donation to help with her fund-raising for the NYC marathon. I came out ahead in the deal. Brooke can most definitely make a cookie.
I won’t say how many I ate, only that 6 miles wasn’t enough to burn them off.
We talked about a number of things, but mainly the difference between Red Vines and Twizzlers (I think I talk about this too much) and sleep chambers. Our running crew might invest in one of those (I’m looking at YOU, Robbie).
Friday – Rest
This was real rest. I did nothing.
Saturday – Planned 6 miles/Actual 6 miles
I named this one, “I just wanna run 6 forever.” There’s some real truth to that. It’s the perfect distance! I feel like I could run that distance every day without ever needing a rest day. It’s such a satisfying distance. Sometimes I think about quitting all of this marathon stuff and just running 6 miles every single day when I wake up.
My wife, some friends and I went out for a little Halloween thing at a bar called Clamdiggers out in Bedford. I dressed as Justin Verlander, since I look like him so they say. It was a pretty easy costume too. It was pretty fun, but luckily not TOO fun with regards to my long run on Sunday.
Being mistaken for future HOF pitcher Justin Verlander is the closest I’ll ever get to fame.
Sunday – Planned 13 miles/Actual 13 miles
I’ll be honest. I was nervous. 13 miles was a big jump from last week’s 10. 14 miles is the distance in which my hip REALLY got crazy. I was up late, so I had to run in the afternoon. None of this mattered, because I got to run in some Clifton 1s. They are as advertised. They are like running on marshmallows, but not too much.
Speaking of marshmallows, there is toasted marshmallow Gu. I know it’s weird, but I like it!
Weird, but yum.
The best part about this run was the negative splits. My last 4 miles were my best 4 miles. Woo hoo!
Week 12 brought me some confidence that I desperately needed. Missing time and being banged up really shook me. This week’s long run is 15. I feel like if I get that done with no problems, I’ll be back on track to at least put a good effort in at Rehoboth. Rehoboth is going to be just fine no matter what. There’s a beer tent like no other.