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.
Being injured for a long time hurts. And by "a long time" I mean anything more than a couple of months. Any time you're hurt as a runner, it's likely to flash through your mind that you're never going to run again. But when the days turn to weeks and the weeks turn to months and there's no end in sight, that flash becomes a slow, painful burning in your heart, at times smoldering quietly, and at others (like when you see a high school cross country team running down the bike path, or have an ad for a marathon pop up on your social media feed), it flares into a wildfire of self-pity. We talk about "quality of life" and how important that is for everyone. A runner without running is a shadow, a partial person.
Feels like that to me, anyway.
Suppose that means I should have a better life outside of running. Suppose I do, to be honest, but when that piece is stripped away suddenly, it takes some getting used to.
Back at the beginning of September, when I took those first few tentative strides for a half mile or so, I fully expected my knee to blow out at every step. Louie still hurt most of the time, and it was hard to believe that I'd ever stretch out that half mile to a mile, then two, three and more. Run fast again? Not bloody likely, mate.
But running (fine, it was more jogging than running, but whatever - I never found a dead body, so...) seemed to actually help, so I kept at it. Still scared, still tentative, but consistent. I may have trouble remembering to do that cross training crap or floss my teeth, but I can run every day. It was still summer, warm and humid. I felt so dreadfully slow and heavy and my legs would go weak and my heart would race. Walk breaks every mile, sometimes less. None of those runs made me very confident that my running career would resurrect much past a vegetative state. Quality of life? This feeling is obviously why most people don't like running. It sucked a lot.
Mrs. Dave encouraged me, as she usually does, by reminding me that I needed more than a couple of weeks of hot summer running to feel good running again. She's wise like that. She was right, of course, so I embraced the suck as cheerfully as I could and prayed for fall. Of course we all so that every summer, amiright? Near the end of the month, I think, there was one day where the temp was 65 instead of 85+ and it felt so nice. I felt like my three miles was three miles, not 13 and that I wasn't going to die before I made it back home. The next day was warm and sucky again, but I had renewed hope. Sort of like when I used to golf, and once or twice in a round of eighteen I'd hit a ball that when straight and medium-ish far and that would be enough for me to believe I could actually learn to play golf.
Anyway, I'm not going to rehearse the whole month of October, but I feel safe in announcing that I'm feeling like a runner again. This knee is not 100% better. I'm trying to come to terms with the fact that it may hurt from time to time for the rest of my life. But running doesn't seem to bother it any more than not running - in fact it seems to help, and it's at a level I can accept. We'll see what happens when I try to put some serious miles on it, but for now I'll take what I can get.
So, about this past week.
I've been stretching out my long run by a mile each week since the end of September and did seven a couple of weeks ago. Last Saturday was supposed to be eight. Not that there's been an actual plan or anything. Just that I looked at ten miles as a milestone for deciding that I could start training for something. During the week I'd had one run (Thursday) where I went five miles instead of my normal weekday four. Adding things up for the week I mistakenly thought I was going to get to thirty. Even posted it somewhere. Then realized that my math was off and I was going to be only at 29. Probably no one else would notice and 29 is practically 30. Could have left it there, but no.
There was a minor internal debate about 8 vs. 9 for Saturday, but it wasn't very spirited. I knew I was going the extra mile. What I didn't know was how I'd feel as I neared the end. The previous week's seven had given me quite a smackdown in the last mile and a half. It was about all I could do to finish. As the temps have become more fall-like, my pace has been better, and I thought if I was careful with it early one that I'd be good for the whole nine. It was cool and cloudy. Had the whole morning free, so I waited until after sunrise. 8:45-9:00s for most of the way.
Then, about seven miles in - just over an hour of running - it happened. All of a sudden, it felt SO GOOD to be running. I wanted to run ten, twelve, fifteen miles. I'm not quite that silly anymore, so I satisfied the urge with a mile that was 30 seconds faster than most of the others I'd run that morning. Then I eased home a little slower, but still floating. Almost two months to get high. Worth every mile.
After running nine whole miles and feeling great, I decided that I can probably do a half marathon now. But where? Well, why not Rehoboth? There will be Loopsters there, after all. Mrs. Dave is on board. Just have to figure out logistics and finances. Turns out I have some miles on Delta I can use. Turns out that RunEatRalph volunteered to taxi a Loopster or two from and to the airport at the days and times that I would be traveling. All I need to do is find a place to crash Friday and Saturday night (since the party house is already full - bound to happen since I was so late pulling the trigger on this). I decided that if three things aligned today it would be a sign from the universe that I should run Rehoboth (provided the knee holds up).
The race is still below capacity.
There are still seats on the flight I want.
I can find a hotel/airbnb within my budget.
Final decision will be this afternoon or evening.
Couple of weeks ago I'd run one fast mile in the middle of one of my three milers. I had to walk some for mile three that day. Since I've now sort of penciled in a half in five weeks I figured I ought to get some quality workouts in, so I did five on Monday with three tempo miles. They were 8:00, 8:19 and 8:17, which I suppose it about as good as I should expect about now. But it was the first real effort run other than all the effort that went into those sucky days of September and the first half of October. Didn't die.
Tuesday was an easy four and then I carved the 2018 Schultz Jack'o'Lantern. I may have forgotten to do strength training, but it wasn't my fault. They've been laying cement in front of the fire station and I didn't notice a section of sidewalk they'd done at the corner and stepped in it. I stopped, went back and apologized for messing up their fresh work. The foreman sent a guy over to smooth out my damage and it was all good. But since I had to wash it all off my shoe and then dry it after, the other stuff slipped my mind and there you go.
Wednesday was my first interval day since last November. I had chopped up the training plan I used for Rehoboth last year and made a six week "get ready to not die in Delaware" schedule. This had 400s for the week but somehow I had 800s in my head (probably because I didn't actually look at the schedule that day) so I did 4 of those with 400 recoveries (ala Yasso), and a total of five miles. 3:49, 3:40, 3:41 and 3:42. Good enough for QR #2. And a good set up for a night of handing out candy. A decent number of trick or treaters, but more were older this year than previous, and I only gave out half of the bag Mrs. Dave had given me to use. Should have been more generous.
Yesterday I felt like I was recovering from the 800s, but still did my four with a short break when I saw a car in the street with it's flashers on. At first I ran past. Everyone has a phone and no doubt they'd called somebody to rescue them. But it was about 5:00 pm and there was a lot of traffic. Not a safe place to have your car sitting in the middle of one of the two eastbound lanes. So I went back and asked if they were OK. A woman and her daughter, on their way home from work at the Embassy Suites and they were out of gas. So I offered to help get them at least to the next street corner and out of the way of all the cars zooming by at 45-50 mph. It was only 25 yards or so. We got it going just fast enough to get the rear end of the car around the corner. After that I did most of my strength stuff, but figured pushing the car was a good replacement for the squats.
And there we are. Hope your Halloween was appropriately spooky and that your running is not.
I heard the quote in the image above at an event I attended this morning, and it couldn’t be more perfect for me at the moment.
I was thinking more about my decision to leave the team and how proud I am of myself for making it. I could have just sucked it up and/or brushed it off, but FUCK that. I had to suck it up and brush it off when I was in the Army, but we aren’t in the Army anymore, Alice. Always stand up for what you believe in. Always get the respect that you deserve. And don’t let anyone silence you.
So, now that Denali is behind me for good, it is time to set some new goals. I am VERY excited about this! Training for Denali lit a fire inside of me - one that leaves me wanting to keep pushing myself further to do amazing things. Naturally, I immediately started to think of what those things might be…
When I first heard of ultra-marathons and started running them, I toyed with the idea of completing a 100 mile race. After completing my one and only 50 miler (The Mountain Masochist 50 in 2012), I didn’t think I would ever be interested in going any further – that is, until I started preparing to climb the highest peak in North America! However, I am a terrible trainer. I rarely ever follow a training plan and I fail do the non-running things (like stretching, rolling, and other flexibility exercises) like I should. I am also set-back prone as well – getting some sort of minor injury or worrisome ache that sets me back in my training. So, there is no time like the present to turn myself into a well-oiled, training machine and go the distance!
I want to work my way up to 100 miles as SMART as possible. I want to put in some kick-ass training, cover all the miles, keep my body healthy, and be ready to kill it when the time comes. This means doing lots of other “smaller” races along the way. I don’t even want to consider when I’d actually do the 100 miler until I can do at least two 50s without feeling like I want to die or getting injuries from them.
Before I even do a 50, I’ll need and want to run some marathons. Since I won’t be running one at Rehoboth in December, I thought I’d pick an early/mid spring race. My first and obvious thought was VA Beach Shamrock (St. Patty’s Day weekend!). It’s in a close battle with Rehoboth for my most favorite race. But who needs to choose?! Another marathon that caught my eye was Salt Lake City, which is in April. Now, those two races are almost a month apart, and I’ve also thought of another fun goal that I could have for 2019. Become a Marathon Maniac! For now, I’d only get in at the lowest level which means:
Since I won’t be doing the 2 marathons in 16 days, I’d have to go for 3 in 90; Yowza. Too much too soon? Most likely for now. Either way, I see this happening sometime along the way in training for 100 miles.
50 mile races that I would consider is a toss-up between Hinson Lake 24 Hour (September 28th, 2019 – and near my hometown) and The Bear Chase 50 miler (September 28- right in my backyard). I ran 38 miles at Hinson Lake in 2012 as training for the Mountain Masochist 50 miler. Since then, it has turned into an awesome Loop party, and the scene of some serious Loop Super Woman-ness that I want to witness! Also, there’s an amazing human (I’ll just call him Doom) that I met when I was in the Army and have always looked up to (no really, he’s a giant – haha!!) will be there as well!! I haven’t seen him in years and it’d be great! I think I know which race I’ll pick… These choices give me a year to train and get myself where I need to be. After that, I can assess the results, see how I feel, and then plan for another 50. With this schedule, I’d likely run the 100 in 2020, which I think sounds totally realistic. I will just have to ensure to do all that I can so that I don’t burnout before that.
“Mt.” Hinson, haha (fellrnr.com)
What can I do to help prevent burnout, you ask? Well! There are LOTS of miles involved in training for something like this. Why not incorporate other races into it as training runs?! I don’t have any specific races that I want to do yet, because I’m going to have to sit down and make a MASSIVE long-term plan, at least to give me an idea. I want to travel for races as much as I can as well, and hang out with some pals! (one of those is YOU, Abby!) Do you have any other suggestions to help prevent burnout?
I am stoked for what the future holds for me and I’m excited to continue to remain a healthy and active athlete – but also to take that healthiness to the next level! I’m going to ensure I tap into all that my body has to offer so I can finally see the true potential that I have.
I feel like this was a bunch of goal vomit, but…. BLLLLLLLLLLAAAAAAAAHHH! (Haha!)
Thanks for reading,
There’s this movie I like. It’s based on a book by Nicholas Pileggi called Wiseguy. The plot follows this gangster named Henry Hill and his crew in NY in the ‘60s and ‘70s and how after years of living the high life he eventually gets caught. He gets flipped by the FBI, testifies against his crew, and goes into the Witness Protection Program. It came out in the early ‘90s and had some of the day’s big stars in it. There’s some cheesy nonsensical scenes in it about merengue dancing, but also one of my favorite weird nerdy out of place engineering references ever about the inventor of the rotary engine.
Are you trying to remember when DeNiro or Liotta or maybe Pesci merengue dance? Well, wrong movie. I’m talking about My Blue Heaven. I’d be lying if I called it a good movie or said it lived up to it’s cast or crew (Steve Martin! Nora Ephron!), and the ridiculous Italian-American stereotypes were bad then and have aged worse. But I have a soft spot for less than good oddball movies, and this most certainly fits that description. Plus, since I’ve moved down south, scenes like this are a LOT funnier (OK, here’s the Wankel bit too and some of that bad stereotyping).
For years I’ve had these images in my head of running under the towers of the Verrazano Bridge, or flying through the cacophony that is 1st Ave, or charging through Central Park, and always thought this would one day be my NYC Marathon experience. I pictured myself having my own “fuck yeah” moment of triumph finishing the one race I always wanted to run, propelled to a PR on adrenaline and the energy pulsing up through the streets of my favorite place on Earth. From the moment I found out I was in this year’s race, these were the images on repeat during my runs. And 6 months ago if you told me I’d be healthy and standing in Fort Wadsworth after a tough training cycle, I’d be expecting those dreams to become reality. But that’s not how it’s going to be.
I’ve avoided serious injury, cutting back the mileage and intensity has let my feet heal to something close to normal. So that’s a win, and not a small one. But there’s nothing I can do to make up for the lost fitness, and I’m still in the trough of this depression I’ve been wallowing in. But as I keep reminding myself, I’m still going to NY. I’ll be there in Staten Island, willingly, on Nov 4. And there’s a long list of people I’m looking forward to seeing. Even the weather looks promising. Will this be the greatest moment of my illustrious running career? Nope. But it doesn’t need to be. Which doesn’t sound very profound, but for an uber-competitive person, it’s a big step. Just because Goodfellas was the better movie doesn’t mean I won’t stop what I’m doing when I see Steve Martin with that ridiculous haircut on the TV screen. So, here’s to hoping I find my little slice of heaven on the streets of New York.
Ladies, I am emailing you all today to withdraw from the team. I no longer feel that this expedition is right for me. I do want to thank everyone for giving me the opportunity and believing in me enough to be a member of this team, and to be a part of the incredible training that we have done. I’ve gained great skills and knowledge that I do not believe I ever would have received otherwise. This experience has shown me that my love of endurance athletics can be pushed even further than I imagined. You all are amazing women that I likely never would have met, and I’m grateful for the time I was able to spend with you. I do hope that I can spend more time with you all in the future.
Please let me know when/where I can return all of my gear. I want to give everyone who donated to my personal GoFundMe page the opportunity to have their donations refunded. If not, I will send you what I collected (after the fee was subtracted is was about $160).
Ladies, I wish you all the best of luck and safety during the rest of your training and your summit attempt. I will be cheering you on and rooting for you! Let me know if there is anything I can ever do for any of you.
Don’t be silenced,
I sent this out on Friday, October 26th to withdraw from the Denali team. It was a decision that I thought long and hard about and most likely bugged the crap out of all of my friends, seeking advice.
This expedition no longer was a good fit for me and no longer aligned with my integrity and values. I won’t talk about many specifics but I wasn’t willing to accept that my role was only to “raise as much money as you can and get mountain fit.” I will never allow someone to continually speak down to me, not for any experience or opportunity. I wish these ladies all the best and will be rooting for them next year! Go sheros!
This whole process was very hard and life consuming. I’m not sure that I would decided to take on something so consuming again.
However, this experience lit a fire up in me and I am very grateful that I was able to go through those trainings and meet those amazing women. I certainly wouldn’t give that back. More amazing opportunities will come along.
Thank you to everyone who followed along and supported me through this journey. It means the world to me.
Stay tuned for my new and exciting 2019 goals!!
And here we are at the end of another week. I spent several years in retail and don't miss it very often. The time I miss it least is probably around the holiday, but every Friday I'm reminded just how that industry is a demanding one. God bless the people who do it. Not many of their customers seem to. All that to say I'm happy to be at the weekend.
Sadly, it looks like rain most of the day tomorrow. I don't mind rain too much, of course, but it's fall and it's cooler than normal this year. Rain and chilly temps aren't my favorite. I thought briefly this morning when I heard the forecast about just taking Saturday off, but I'm too grateful right now to be running again, so I expect to just layer up a little and run between the drops. Shouldn't be too bad.
Yesterday was a weight day and I wasn't looking forward to it. At all. Kept wondering about cancelling it and just running. Then I did something I haven't done in a long, long time. I ran more than I's planned. At least, officially planned. As soon as the idea to go five instead of four - even on weight day - popped into my head, I sort of knew it was going to happen. So, I ran five miles. After complaining as recently as last week that I was still feeling sluggish and heavy and gee I'm never going to be in good running shape ever again, this was a pretty sweet run. Cool and sunny and a perfect fall afternoon. I still have that thing in my mouth (learned this morning it's called a fistula, which I'll probably forget by the next time I need to know that term), and need to consult an endodontist next week, but the Z-pak seems to have restored my staying power. Or maybe I'm just finally getting there.
Shout out to the several drivers who stopped and even backed up from intersections and parking lot exits to let me keep running without stalling for them. Reminded me that I live in a pretty nice town.
So, now that my shorter runs seem to have settled into a comfortable 8:30-ish pace, I feel like I'm safe to bump up to the next level. Not ready for any marathon training or anything crazy like that (sorry, Rehoboth), but maybe I'll see about a local 5k or 10k in a few weeks. And check the spring marathon schedule again.
Seventeen miles so far this week. Four today and eight tomorrow (as long as the rain isn't too heavy). That adds up to 30, right?
Going to have to bring T-Rex home again for winter. She dropped her Anatomy/Physiology class and lab after bombing the first two tests. It's so frustrating to see her go through this.
For the record, I did the strength work after my run. It wasn't terrible. Just icky, like I expected. Maybe if I had a good gym buddy. Of course, that would require me to go to a gym. Never mind.
The year has rolled into October and the next marathon is around the corner. Training is done, for better or worse, so it's time to taper and consider how this last cycle went.
Well, it's gone pretty well, I'd have to say. Certainly not optimal. Not my best training. Not my most miles, and definitely a little slower.
But I'm looking on the bright side: It's only the second time I've done two marathons in one year - so the risk of injury was higher. I came out of LA in March with a tweaked butt that never really healed, just slowly got better. My knee started hurting in April and never went away - but it didn't get worse either, and I managed to get in almost all my miles. I'm on track for a new old man PR in total annual miles. And after bagging a BQ in LA, the rest of this year is really just gravy. I averaged about 40 miles a week for the last 3 months. Not a recipe for a PR, but considering everything, I'm happy with that. Plenty of good runs in there, many with my running group that keeps things fun.
So I don't really have a goal for NYC, per se. My real goal is to enjoy the experience, smile throughout, high five a few hundred people, and finish another marathon.
But seriously, I'd be a lot happier if my time were under 4 hours. And I'm telling people my goal is 3:45, so there's that. Sub 3:35 for a BQ is a long shot, so I'm not even going to try for that. My secondary goal is to practice restraint - try to keep my pace ABOVE 8:15 for the first ten miles. Then hopefully I can maintain or beat that to at least 20 before I start to fall apart. I'd love to see what it's like to negative split a marathon. I'm really just hoping I can finish without too much walking.
And of course I'm looking forward to seeing about 6 very special Loopsters, before, during or after the race.
Life is good.
I’ve been doing a lot of writing here - for myself mostly because it’s pretty mundane. But maybe someone has a lot of free time on their hands and enjoys sifting through my mess. And my return-to-running training log is here for the spreadsheet lovers.
Week 1 - 2
Week 2 - 5.6
Week 3 - 12.4
Week 4 - 18.4
Week 5 - 23.7
Week 6 - 19.5 (10 miles on Monday of Week 7)
Week 7 - 39.5 (10 miles from Week 6)
Week 8 - 28.2
Week 9 - 26.3 (taper-ish for Augusta 13.1 race)
Week 10 - 66.1 (Hinson Lake 24 Hour - lots of walking)
Week 11 - 21.0 (reverse taper)
Week 12 - 42.6
Week 13 - 38.7
Week 14 - 27.0** projected
Week 15 - 39.2** projected race week
It’s been years since I’ve felt truly invested in a marathon cycle. The first Boston Marathon I ran in 2015 was likely the last time I truly had a focus on marathon-specific training. After getting into ultras, the specific workouts of road racing were speckled throughout my running, but I relied mostly on mileage and experience to get me feeling confident at the start line of a 26.2 mile race.
I am excited!
When reflecting (& reading) about how I felt in late March and mid-July, I wish so badly to go back and tell myself it will be okay. Even the time between boots were filled with trepidation. Things weren’t clicking.
And if I really reflect back about consistently feeling good about my training, it was late spring of 2017. 18 months is a long time to feel eh about running. Sure, I had some fantastic races and great experiences in those 18 months, but I also remember it just not feeling as good as it does now. I’ll pin the blame on overracing and overtraining, but that doesn’t mean I’d change any course of events.
I’d hop in my Delorean and do the exact same thing. Stupid? Maybe. But I am not apologetic about my experiences that led me to today.
Back when I was still in the boot, I made a couple of versions of my training plan to get to the start line of the NYC marathon. I gave myself plenty of fluidity in mileage, time frames, and workouts. They were all modified versions of the lowest mileage Pfitzinger plan - the same one I used for Boston 2015.
The podiatrist said it would take about 5-6 weeks for things to feel good again. And up to a year of random injury site pain - some real, some phantom. It was hard to navigate the first few weeks because I became anxious with everything that didn’t feel great. And honestly, a lot of things didn’t feel great.
Slowly, things started to return to normal. I noticed the first day I stood at the sink and brushing my teeth felt normal. I noticed the first day that I walked across the gym and my stride felt normal. I noticed the first day that I lifted weights and I could bear weight on both legs. I cross-trained between running and walking. I ran paces that were 3-4 minutes slower than my typical training paces. I exercised as much patience as I could stand.
And things started to change. I felt stronger and happier. My stride returned to normal. Things were clicking again.
Every milestone in the recovery process has seemed almost like the first time I’ve done it. Workouts that I’ve done hundreds of times suddenly gave me butterflies. And I loved having that feeling again!
20 milers were a dime a dozen in 2016 & 2017. But suddenly I had to remember how to do them again! Do I bring gels? Do I bring water? Is it better to do 2 out-and-backs or 1 longer followed by 1 shorter?
It was like falling in love with running all over again.
And here I am, less than 2 weeks from standing in Staten Island with 50,000 other runners, feeling ready to tackle 26.2 miles.
Race: Fort Bragg Army 10 miler When: 6:30 am, June 3rd, 2011 Temp: 69 glorious degrees with a little wind Outfit: New bright orange/white singlet (got 10% off for a grease stain), white/blue marathon slutties, and my orange/white Ghost 3 Brooks.
Since the race started at 6:30, I had to get up at 4:45am to eat, get dressed and get to the
parking area before it filled up. I forgot to charge my Garmin the night before and it was the very first thing I thought of when I woke up. I jumped out of bed, ran to my car to get G and then charged it while I got ready. Whew! I had my usual before race meal of an English muffin with peanut butter and honey and a small glass of milk (I don’t drink cow’s milk anymore, blek).
I wasn’t sure how this race was going to turn out. I’d only ran a total of 25 miles after the marathon (a month ago) and hadn’t done any speed work. I was shooting to beat my 2007
1:19:05 PR (same race*) but really didn’t think it would be possible. I ran a 10K two weekends ago and I really bombed during it. I started off way too fast and ran out of gas.
* I did this race in 2007 and was asked to be on the Women’s Army 10 miler team (for the D.C. race)! Unfortunately, I was deploying and couldn’t do it. It would have been an amazing opportunity but I was still honored to be asked : )
I was hoping for a miracle and for my Go-Go gadget legs to kick in!
I met up with Erin and our friend (Shannon) and we headed to the start line. I was definitely nervous as I was waiting for the gun. I was so grateful for the overcast 69° and the slight breeze; quite ideal. The gun went off, and I took off conservatively. Race beginnings are always hectic – the weaving in and out until you find your zone.
I got in a pretty good rhythm and felt good. The first miles were good and they had some hills. I was really feeling the gradual incline at miles 3-5. I’ve always hated that stretch of road because it goes on forever. At the turn-around point at mile 5, I didn’t think my PR would happen. I’d slowed down to about an 8:15 pace and that just wasn’t going to cut it. I kept trucking along and someone came up from behind me and told me I was doing a good job. It was a trainer that works at the gym I go to. I said hi and he moved along. I started to loosen up a little bit and was able to pick up the pace some. One of my friendly rivals, “Cindy”, was doing this race and I saw her ahead of me at about mile 3. I just wanted to keep her in my sights but figured she’d pull away. I stayed behind her the whole way but she did speed up at about mile 7. About that time, I saw the trainer again and he seemed to be struggling. I got up beside him and he said, “Cindy is just up there!” I replied, “Yeah, but I’ve been trying to catch her and it’s just not going to happen.” He said he didn’t have much left in the tank and was going to run the last bit conservatively. At that time, I sped up past him and I heard him say, “Ah, what the hell!” and he took off with me. I never saw him again though so I don’t know if he ran out again or what.
The last approx. 1.3 miles is straight down a rolling road. You can see the finish and the few hills in between. It can be a bit demoralizing if your head’s not in it. I just gritted my teeth and went for it. I gradually picked it up and was giving it all I had; I even started wheezing a little bit.
I was passing people left and right. I LOVE hills!
All of a sudden, I see Cindy ahead of me! There was only about 0.3 to go and I didn’t think I could pick it up enough, keep that pace, and pass her. I went for it anyway and literally finished like 2 seconds ahead of her!! IF THAT! I didn’t look back when I finished because I was trying not to pass out. I just kept walking through the chute. I grabbed some trail mix, water, a banana, AND a bagel w/cream cheese. I scarfed that down then met up with Erin and Shannon. They both had good races, especially Erin who had been battling strep throat for weeks! She’s my HERO! I had a couple people tell me they were trying to catch my bright orange shirt, and that I was motivation to them! Erin said they were actually just looking at my butt. Red Robin was DELISH afterwards! I had two baskets of fries and a turkey burger. YUMMMMMMMMM!
I did what I set out to do. PR! 1:18:38*. 14th in my AG (25-29) and 36th female overall. So proud of myself and looking forward to my 12 hour adventure race this weekend in Virginia!
*That is still my 10 mile PR and I was also asked AGAIN to be on the women’s 10 miler team but I was already out of the military! I don’t have any pictures from that race and don’t think any were ever posted.
I'm such a whiner.
Seven weeks since I started running again consistently.
Mostly what I've done in those seven weeks is complain that it's hard and I'm slow.
Beginning the first week of September:
Week 1: 12 miles, 9:53 avg, LR 2 miles (9:41)
Week 2: 14 miles, 9:17 avg, LR 4 miles (9:22)
Week 3: 20 miles, 9:24 avg, LR 5 miles (9:25)
Week 4: 20 miles, 8:55 avg, LR 5 miles (8:55)
Week 5: 24 miles, 9:15 avg, LR 6 miles (9:27)
Week 6: 24 miles, 9:05 avg, LR 6.5 miles (8:55)
Week 7: 16 done, 8:48 avg (10 more planned, LR 6 miles)
I'm looking at the numbers now, and they show a nicer picture than how I remember the last month and a half. After all, I'm coming off an almost seven month layoff, and the six weeks before that were a slow build up following a full month of post- marathon rest/recovery. Seven weeks to feel decent running again.
Not so bad, really. I should feel good about where things are at this point.
So I will.
It's fall, the best time of the year for running. And I'm running.
Yesterday I didn't feel like going. A little stress from work and worry about T-Rex (as always). I just wanted to take a nap and pretend everything was fine. But I went out anyway, because runner. And because it was 50 degrees and sunny and I know I'll appreciate it a couple of months from now when it's ten. Also, Thursday is weight day, which I hate. I skipped Tuesday because I got distracted with some early fall yard stuff when I finished running and then it was time for dinner and Mrs. Dave and I had an appointment at the temple so there was no time and I'll take just about any excuse I can think of to not do weights.
Where was I?
Of course my mind told me that a run when you don't feel like running is usually a good thing, so me and TYTBNW (the yet to be named watch) took off. No trouble with the knee. I'm calling Louie at about 95% most of the time now, btw. Most of my warm up miles have been between 9:30 and 10:00. This one was 9:06. Nothing worth dancing, but improvement is always nice. This is an out and back route past the high school to the Mobil station on the next corner. It drops slightly all the way out, so I figured it'd be slow coming back. 8:21, 8:23, 8:22.
Did not expect that.
Last week I noticed something in my mouth while I was brushing my teeth. Some discoloration and a big zit-looking thing on my upper gum. As a lad I hit my face on the edge of a school desk and chipped off a good portion of the front tooth. Ever since it's been a trouble spot. I had surgery to remove a large abscess there back in the late 80s. My dentist has been watching it on the annual x-rays forever. Anyway, I went in and he took another x-ray, which didn't show much change, but it's still there and there's another round of infection. So, I'm on antibiotics for a week and then we'll look at it again at the end of the month. Hopefully won't need surgery again.
My point in mentioning this is that it could possibly be related to why even though my endurance is slowly building (about like it should), I haven't felt great. My running times included much more walking than I ever remember doing in my previous comebacks. I'd get a mile or two out and my legs would go dead and my heart rate would ratchet up. Talk about discouraging. If this infection has been enough to give me trouble, then once it's beaten down with the z-pak, maybe I'll actually feel good on the roads.
Just a thought.
Mrs. Dave sent me out early last Saturday. Granddaughter #1 was getting baptized, so we made a quick trip to Kentucky. The ceremony was Sunday evening, and we spent Saturday afternoon with Connor in Louisville. Ran in the dark for 6.5 miles and didn't feel half bad. Then we hit the road, had a nice weekend and came back Monday morning.
My social media skills seem to be dying. I took zero pictures and posted not a thing the whole weekend. Is that bad? I still scroll through regularly and see what my peeps are up to, make a comment now and again, but mostly just give a quick "like" and move on. If it weren't for the Loop and Loopsters I might ditch FB and IG altogether. I've already left Twitter, and am not at all interested in any of the other SM apps out there.
Happy Friday, everyone.
Since I'll be seeing at least a few of you in Rehoboth, I thought I'd update you on where I am currently...
Ever since a run the day after my 40th birthday, I’ve been battling right leg pain that seemed to move all over the place. After plenty of working out, dry needling and physical therapy I discussed the issue with my good friends and trainer/PT people Jill and Rachelle and I think we figured it out.
My baby calf just hasn’t been ready for what I’ve tried to put it through. As I increased the mileage, I think that my baby calf has fatigued and then no longer absorbs the shock of impact that comes with thousands of steps on a long run. My hip has been paying the price. To put it in medical terms, pounding the pavement beat the crap out of my hip.
Time for a Plan B. Blow the whole thing up.
Long story short, I’ve fallen WAY behind in my training with all of this on again/off again stuff. I’m not giving up on Rehoboth quite yet, but I’m having to reevaluate my plan and my goals.
Surviving is the #1 goal now.
Bye bye, time goals. I’ve gone from 3 x 20 mile runs to zero. My peak week is just over 40 miles now. I also have an extra rest day from running for the next 6 weeks. No track work. No hill repeats. This could change if I’m able to show that I’m 100%, but for now I don’t want to push it.
I need to remember that not long ago I was in a boot for 3 months. Not long ago, I was so happy to run ANY miles at all. I have the rest of my life to run. There’s no sense in killing myself now.
I was initially planning to hold the Second Annual Inaugural Irma Gerd 8 Mile Classic on Monday, seeing as how I had 8 miles on the schedule and the first running of the event had also been a Monday. Seemed symmetrically preordained. But, as is ever the case, life intervened. I found out I had to spend all day Tuesday in Florida with a client who likes to be wined and dined and always insists on closing the bar of whatever restaurant they make us buy them dinner at. So I knew I wasn’t going to get my Tuesday workout in on schedule. I decided to move the workout to Monday, Wednesday’s off day to Tuesday, and Monday’s easy 8 (and the Irma Gerd Classic) to Wednesday. Roll with the punches, amIright? All went well, until I was boarding my plane home Wednesday morning with the usual client hangover. My phone buzzed. I read the text, turned off my phone, and pulled out a book.
My grandfather had passed away, arrangements would be forthcoming, and I had to be up in Jersey by Friday morning. Before anyone offers condolences or feels bad, let me be clear, my grandfather was 92 and kind of a prick. This wasn’t a surprise to anyone, and his children argued for two days about who would give the eulogy because no one could think of anything positive to say. The only topic he was able to hold a civil conversation with anyone on was baseball, and in my 36 years he probably said 150 non-baseball words to me. 144 of which were “Happy Birthday” and “Merry Christmas”. Is this oversimplifying a sad situation? Sure. But the point is this was, at the time, more an inconvenience than an emotionally trying episode. I was more broken up when The Wife made me throw out my favorite pair of running shorts because the holes they had grown left nothing to the imagination.
After a few moments of reflection while we taxied and climbed through the clouds I started scrolling the Delta app to make my travel plans. Hurricane Florence, fittingly enough for the occasion, was forecast to be over South Carolina and North Georgia right as I was looking to fly home. The Wife and I both had meetings and hectic work schedules the following week and couldn’t afford days of flight cancellations and delays, which I knew was inevitable since flights were already disappearing as I was looking at them. I knew this meant I’d end up having to drive, which meant the tempo scheduled for Thursday was in jeopardy. Who wants to do a 12 miles tempo run after sitting in a car for 13 hours? Or who wants to sit in a car for 13 hours after a 12 mile tempo run?
So I got home, discussed plans with The Wife, and decided Irma’s 8 (ish) would have to be the tempo. I quickly got dressed and not so quickly went through my shoe tying routine, which has been exacerbated lately. I’ve always been very particular about my shoes when I run. You see, the toes of my right foot tend to bump up against the end of my shoe if I don’t tie that one tight enough. And I like my shoes to be tied equally tightly so they feel the same as I run. But if I tie my left shoe too tightly I get pain and bruising on the top of THAT foot. Apparently my right foot is longer and my left is fatter. This results in a shoe tying routine that looks to the casual observer like a severe case of OCD as I tie and retie my shoes roughly 4,387 times before each run. This routine and over tightening of my shoes is (I’m pretty sure) what caused the tendonitis that has been hampering me lately. It’s not so bad really, as long as nothing is touching the tops of my feet. So as long as I avoid wearing socks or shoes I’m good to go. Motherfu*^*!^@$*^&#@!%&. I’ve had to skip runs, shorten workouts, tape bags of ice to my feet at the office and come up with all kinds of weird lacing patterns to be able to limp through runs. I’ve even had to cut half the tongues out of my shoes to avoid them brushing the fragile connective tissue. I can run without the pain becoming unmanageable, but my shoes are so loose my feet are now covered in blisters and I’m losing 2 toenails. But I can run.
I got to the gym, claimed my treadmill, and started doing my leg swings and little warmup routine. As I was doing this a wannabe gym bro came up to me. I’d seen him before, he’s one of those guys who wears a hoodie with the sleeves cut off, capri tights under knee length shorts, and unlaced basketball shoes to the gym. But he weighs about as much as I do, so not sure he’s getting his money’s worth from his trainer. Oh yeah, he has a personal trainer come and yell at him in the gym every week. I saw the giant hulking trainer, who looks like Tommy Lister, glaring at me over his shoulder as he asked me “hey, uuhh… can I do my 3 minute warmup before you do your run?” Now, normally I’d growl and ignore this. But the other treadmills were in use and I know this guy has seen me spend over an hour on the ‘mill before. “3 minutes?” I asked. He sheepishly nodded and I waved him up and decided to do some more leg swings. He even wiped down the treadmill when he was done.
I got through my mile and a half warmup without incident, and got started on my GMP miles. Deebo was screaming at the Little Bro and was scaring the crap out of everyone else in the gym, but I couldn’t make out what he was saying. Anxious for anything to distract myself from how hard the pace was already, I tried to eavesdrop. He was yelling something about not wanting it bad enough or some other tired cliche, but Little Bro was sipping from his water bottle. I assumed he was trying to motivate him for the next set, or excoriate him for quitting on the set before, but as soon as he started the next set he got quiet and just started counting reps. Once that set was finished, he yelled again while Little Bro rested. This strange pattern repeated from lat pulldowns to curls to inclined bench, and Little Bro never flinched. Maybe this was why he still had the arms of a marathoner. I had made it through the first two GMP miles, but was working too hard.
My misshapen troll feet were sliding around in my too-loose shoes and I could feel the hotspots getting moist, so I again looked for a distraction. By now the other treadmills had changed over, and next to me was a girl walking while on the phone. I eavesdropped hoped for an interesting conversation, and I was not disappointed. This is, as close to verbatim as my memory allows, what I heard:
“Yeah, so get this. I was talking to my mom, and she told me she was using her eyelash curler… yeah I know, right?? Anyway, so she’s using her eyelash curler, and she said she sneezed!! I was like OH EM GEE, did you like, rip your eyelashes out or something?!? And guess what… yup, SHE. RIPPED. OUT. HER. EYELASHES!! ...I KNOW, right?? So anyway, she wore fakes for a while, and they looked whatever. But then I saw her yesterday and they had finally grown back and LET. ME. TELL. YOU. Her eyelashes… looked… AMAZING. They were SOOOOO thick! ...I know right, who would have know? I tell you, they looked so good, I’m SERIOUSLY thinking about plucking all mine out so they grow back all thick like that.”
I have nothing to add to that. I could not make that up if I tried, even though I wish I did because the thought that this person is out there in the wild every day scares the hell out of me. Imagining this person driving a car, using a stove, handling sharp objects and doing whatever it is they do for a living occupied my mind for another 2 miles. I was halfway through, and the pain in my feet had gotten to the point I needed to stop and readjust my shoes. At least, this was my excuse, I may have just needed to catch my breath.
As I struggled and wheezed my way through my last few GMP miles, I saw someone waving out of the corner of my eye. It was Little Bro again. “Hey, uuhh… can I do a cooldown?” I laughed, shook my head, and went back to my run. He waved again. “Please?” I grunted something about being in the middle of a workout and pressed on. I worried for a minute the trainer was going to bash my skull in for refusing, but figured that would be a suitable excuse for stopping the workout and ending the pain, so I took the chance. Alas, he let me finish, and the only brief respite I had the rest of the way was the 15 seconds or so when the treadmill auto-stopped and I had to restart it.
I jogged through my own cooldown as the gym crowd thinned. By the time I was done the only guy left was Mr. Tssst. He got this name because all I’ve ever seen him do is curls, and “tssst” is the sound he makes with each of the 9,436 reps he does. He was working away on his watermelon biceps as I wiped down and hobbled back to my apartment. I was afraid to take off my shoes because they had started squishing and I knew what that meant, so I sat on the bench by my front door and dripped sweat on the floor, which The Dog kept licking up before I could stop her. Everything hurt, I knew I had a half hour of bandaging and icing my feet ahead of me, and I still had to pack and get up at the ass crack of dawn to spend all day in the car. And, you know, the funeral thing. But I got through the workout. And I still had my eyelashes. Silver linings my friends, silver linings.
The MH marathon is a local Half and Full that is fairly popular here. It's held during the Columbus Day weekend but my family is usually out of town that weekend so it's rare that I can manage to run this race. I've ran the Half two times when travel plans fell through. MH allows bib transfers so that makes it easy to get in late since the race sells out in a few hours. The course is mostly flat but results in a net downhill elevation change so it's a good PR course. I registered because I've been chasing a sub-4 hour marathon and this race seemed like a good fit. The goal was 3:59.
One week prior to the race the weather looked perfect, for me anyway. A predicted 55 degrees at the start on a cloudy day with temps rising to around 60 by the end. But as time passed the predicted start temp rose every day during the last week of taper. By the time race day rolled around I was really stressing over the temperature. MH is a point to point course. Buses are available from the finish location to the starting location, or from the finish line back to the start if that's where you parked. Race morning turned out to be very humid. I parked near the finish and rode one of the buses to the start where I caught up with some runners from my LRG. We arrived an hour or so before the start time and the temp was already 66 degrees and expected to rise into the 70s as soon as the sun rose. Not what I was hoping for during an October marathon.
Time passed quickly as we sucked down some last minute fuel and used real bathrooms in the park. Soon it was time to line up. I found the 4 hour pacer and lined up. After the national anthem the gun sounded and we were off. The race started on some roads within the park and then we exited onto city streets which eventually led to an asphalt bike path along the Mohawk River. I think we reached the River at about mile 5. The view as we entered the river gorge was great. The next several miles were on the bike path with alternating views of trees and the river. The leaves were just starting to change. I was enjoying the scenery and sucking down water at every aid station. The pacer slowed down and fell behind. I didn't see him finish so I'm not sure what happened there. That was fine because I was holding the pace just fine and chatting with other runners as we made our way through the course.
I like warm temps, but this morning was much warmer than any runner wants to see for a marathon. It never occurred to me that my electrolyte pills would dissolve from sweat. Putting them in a baggie would have been so easy, duh. Seems like such a simple concept now, but it just didn't occur to me ahead of time since it's usually cool during fall races. Never been an issue before. As you've guessed by now, my electrolyte pills dissolved into a mess in the pocket of my hydration belt. I don't drink gatorade during long races because it upsets my stomach, but I tried sipping some around mile 15 to try to take in some electrolytes. Nope. My stomach let me know for the next few miles that gatorade wasn't going to happen.
Around mile 16 we left the bike path and exited onto streets again. The crowd of runners had thinned by this point so there was plenty of room to run. The down side was that we were out of the shade of the trees along the bike path so there was nothing to prevent the sun from heating us up even more. My running buddy / training partner was waiting for me at mile 20 to pace me in for the last 6 miles. Seeing her was a great pick me up which I definitely needed at that point. We ran a few blocks and then entered another bike path along the Hudson River. We chatted as we ran and it was just like we were finishing another hard run on a hot day like we had done all summer long. After mile 21 my quads started to cramp badly. I've never had cramps before. That's never been an issue for me during a marathon or any other race. Of course, my electrolyte pills had never dissolved before either. We stopped a few times so I could stretch. My quads were just too tight to hold the pace. RB had about half a bag of sport beans left over. I really didn't feel like more sugar at that point but I choked them down as fast as I could for the electrolytes. By mile 25 the cramps eased some and we were able to pick up the pace a bit. Sadly, it was too late. I had lost too much time between stopping to stretch and the slower pace. I crossed the finish line with a 4:04 instead of the 3:59 goal.
The 4:04 finish was a 3 minute PR, but I'm not happy about it. I know I should be. But I'm not. A 3:59 finish was in my hand with a few miles left to go and I would have had it if my electrolyte pills hadn't dissolved. That stings a little. But, no excuses. I ran a 4:04 and that's all. A lot can happen in 26.2 miles. Maybe that's one of the reasons why we try so hard to beat the marathon even though the marathon usually wins.
I'm far from finished with the marathon. At first I told myself that I was done chasing marathon PRs, but after thinking about it I realized that I won't have to do anything different to get that 3:59. Well, other than bring a baggie maybe. Seriously, if I follow the same training plan and run the same workouts I should be in the same position. I WAS prepared to break 4:00 which has been a barrier for me. I won't have to train any harder. I just have to bring a baggie or hope the temp isn't 70+ with high humidity on race day again. I haven't picked a 2019 fall marathon yet, but I know that the goal is 3:59. Guess I'm far from finished with chasing marathon PRs. Anyway, here's the bling:
Small medal this year. Is that a trend? It's... interesting.
Be well. Good luck with your fall race and bring a baggie.
Hello. I'm still at it. This running thing.
Haven't posted in a month, mainly because I've just been feeling pretty negative every time I try to think of something to write. Why? I'm in the midst of marathon training - still getting the miles done - but it seems like most runs are disappointing. I'm sore a lot. My knee still hurts, although it's not so bad that I have to cut back. Mainly I think it's just my slow times. All my runs, whether it's an easy run, a tempo, or track work, are a little slower than I think they should be. Or than they used to be, say last year. I can blame the heat, or the excessive mileage, or my knee, but down deep I know those excuses are not valid. I think it's just me getting older, and I guess it's hard to accept.
I don't want to complain, because I'm still running pretty well for an old guy. I haven't had any real downtime like many of my injured friends. But hey, that's what blogs are for, right?
So anyway, marathon training is on track. The last ten weeks I averaged 40 miles. The last four weeks before last were 46, 32, 47 and 50. I did an 18 and a 20-miler, although they were pretty hard. I'm doing weekly speed work at the track with some mile repeats (4x1 and 5x1) around 6:55 pace. And then last week I tapered and ran a half marathon race in Long Beach.
Four weeks out from NYC, my goal was to race this one, not for a 110% effort PR, but for a solid hard effort. I decided to go for 7:30 pace and hope I could finish stronger and break 1:38. Real goal was to keep it under 1:40, because, well, see above. Confidence lacking.
My friend and track buddy, D was on hand. We are close in pace, although she is a little faster on the track, but lacks experience in the longer races. So we planned to run together at least for a while. I couldn't find her before the start in the large crowd (7,300). But I managed to spot her after about 1/4 mile, just ahead. So I had to pick it up a little to catch her. So much for my planned 7:50 first mile to ease into it... Hit mile one at 7:22.
But we were back around 7:30 pace and comfortably cruising in mile 2. I had the 1:40 pace group just ahead and planned to keep them there. I didn't want to get ahead of them for a while yet. The pace felt a little hard, but comfortable. About right for a half. 2-4 were 7:29, 7:27, 7:31. Mile 5 was 7:20. Sometimes you get caught up racing people and lose track of pace...But I dialed it back. 6-7 were 7:30, 7:33.
So all good, right? Well not exactly. The effort was starting to get to me. The legs were feeling heavy. Didn't feel the spark. D started to slip ahead and I let her go. I kept my effort consistent but the pace was slipping. Mile 8 was 7:46. I took a GU. Mile 9 started even worse, and I mentally checked out. There was no way I could get back to 7:30 for 5 more miles. So my goal changed to trying to stay ahead of (or with) the 1:40 group (which I had left behind in mile 3).
I got through nine in 7:59. By now I didn't care about time. I had decided to walk through the next water stop and then just cruise it in and save my energy for marathon training. So I took a short break and then headed toward the finish. I wasn't completely dead, I was just tired and once I slowed I was comfortable. 10-12 were 8:19, 8:37 and 8:07. Most of the people around me must have been fading too because not many people passed me. The 1:40 group passed me (although they were down to three people) and I didn't have the will to stay with them. By mile 12 I could smell the finish and I pushed the pace up a bit, so at least it was an honest effort. Mile 13 was 7:38, and I "kicked it in" at 6:59 pace.
So I finished my 43rd half marathon in 1:41:52. 9th AG, 236th overall (of 7,300) and a 67% age grade. Not proud, but, hey that's where I am now. Here's me and D. She faded like me, just up ahead, and finished at 1:41:00.
So I'm not feeling real confident about running a fast 26 in four weeks. I just hope to not die too bad and not have to walk Central Park. So my goals are out the window. My NYC goal is to have fun, and practice restraint; Try to run the first half at over 8 minute pace, maybe 8:15+, and enjoy the experience. Sub-4 would be good. Then I'm taking a month off to rest the knee and the mojo.
Well, today I made the decision to drop down to the half marathon at Rehoboth, which will make it my 3rd consecutive 13.1 there. That isn’t a bad thing because I have the BEST time there, but it’s just sad to give up the idea of running 26.2. There are several different reasons why I know that decision was the right one.
While running is a great part of training for climbing Mt. Denali (20,310′ – I gotta remind myself of that from time to time), and I will still be getting runs in, I’m taking it as a sign that I need to focus more on that training and becoming stronger. We have SEVEN months before we will be leaving for the beast. Seven months will go by VERY fast and I don’t want it to sneak up on me. However, I don’t think this is the type of thing that could or should sneak up on anyone. Seven months is still plenty of time to get to where I need to be. I’m getting there, but progress is slow. I don’t enjoy carrying a heavy pack on my back, or the impact it has on my body, so I’m not motivated to do it often. I know I don’t need to do it all the time, but it needs to be much more frequent than it has been. Colorado is already throwing winter weather at us, and I think there is going to be lots of snow to work with this season, so I’ll even be pulling a sled soon as well.
That’s Candice, one of our team leaders. She’s a badass.
If I ran the full in December, I could wreck myself to the point of not being able to properly train for Denali, or even not at all! We can’t have that. I’ve been running a long time and have been through my share of minor, yet set-back injuries, and I’d like to think I have learned something from them by now. I’m embracing cross-training a lot more but still need to ramp that back up again, without pissing off my back again. I have all the resources in the world to make that happen – no excuses.
By only running the half, that’ll leave more time for Rehoboth FUN! Most of my running favorites will be there, and some that I’ll finally get the chance to meet! I likely won’t be running next year, so I’m not sure when I will be back again. ALTHOUGH, this has turned into an amazing, yearly tradition for me and I don’t really have any of those. I could always fly across the country to be a spectator. Hmmmmm…
How can one NOT want to be a part of that EVERY year?!
I do think I still have a goal for this race. Course PR?
2016: 2:05:14 – This year and the previous were my running “down years” as you can clearly tell from this finish time. The course is flat as can be and the weather was spectacular. I preceded to get REALLY drunk after finishing this and missed out on the nightly festivities. I’ll never make that mistake again!
2017: 1:47:10 / 8:10 pace – I ran this time after only ramping my training up in September! I really think that even though I’ve had this set-back, I can beat this.
2018: ? – My half marathon PR is 1:42:08, that’s a 7:47 pace. I think I’ve only ran a couple 7 minute miles since being here in CO and I think it was during the 2017 race, NOT in CO. I don’t think I’ll be able to distance PR, but I do think a course PR is definitely possible. I did exponentially sandbag myself in 2017 (read here), so nothing is impossible!
This will be my 19th half marathon (not counting heavy halves) and 12 years since I ran my first one!
Instead of posting my “Week #” training, it will probably just be general weekly recaps – I like those.
Thanks for reading,