Thursday, December 24, 2009

Blackhole

That's where my running has been recently. In the past 3 weeks I have been battling two different colds and as such I haven't run more than 30 miles in three weeks.   For the past two weeks I've had some sort of respiratory thing going on that has impacted my breathing and leaves me with a terribly fun cough. Not ideal for running in the cold so I have taken it easy.

Unfortunately not running and holiday food consumption has led me to become a bit rolly-polly in the middle. Time to get back out there. I did a good four miles today around the frozen Charles and it felt good. The coughing fit afterwards wasn't as bad as it has been. I'm going to have to pick the mileage up though if I want to be in any shape for Derry. Which just happens to have been picked as the first race of the year for the GNRC grand prix.

Nice choice. How long did it take you to come up with the hardest race possible run in the dead of winter?  16 miles is always a great way to start the new year off.

Merry Christmas everbody!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Yak Traks and gaiters

Are essential pieces of gear for running in the deep snow. Down here on Long Island yesterday's storm dumped more than a foot of snow. Not to be stopped from my long run by a mere dusting
I lined my shoes with plastic bags, velcroed up my knee-high gaiters and cinched on my new Yak Traks.   Off I went into the unexpectadely bright day and began to run.

I was forced to weave between the street and the sidewalk as I kept encountering unshoveled areas.  Parts of the road were very clear and I began to worry that I would damage the Traks so I tried to run on the packed snow and ice. Footing was only an issue in the loose snow.

I got to the park and took a moment to watch all the kids sledding down the hill. Fun times.  Them I headed out down the trail and into the deep snow. For awhile I followed in the skiiers and snowshoers' tracks but soon enough there was nothing but virgin snow ahead of me. All alone in the woods I fought to keep my pace and to keep gliding though the snow. Looking back all I could seen were my footprints, a steady row of indents in the otherwise unblemished ground cover.

As I ran I thought about how, when I tell stories such as this, the most common reaction from others is to ask why would I run in 2 feet of snow. The only answer I could think of was that I do it because I can.  And that really is reason enough.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Winner

For the first time since high school I have managed to capture a first place finish.  It was the Norfolk Community League's Jingle Bell Run 5K.  The day was sunny and with the wind, a bit on the cool side; but all around good running weather.  Another bonus was that the race route was all streets I was very familiar with so there wouldn't be any surprises and I knew exactly what I was getting into ahead of time.

We lined up in the driveway of the school for the start and with a very informal command from Santa the race began.  I quickly struck out from the pack and set an aggressive (for me) pace for the first mile which I knew would be downhill after one small incline.  The strategy paid off.  As I hit the mile marker and prepared to turn into a residential section I noted that I had done the first mile in 5:50 which is quicker than normal.  A quick look behind me as I made the turn and for the first time I realized that there was no one close to me.  I saw at least one guy a little ways back bu that was it.  So far so good, but I also knew that we were just about to hit the two decent sized hills which comprised a good portion of the second mile.

Climbing up the hills I just kept telling myself to keep the pace, to focus on my stride, don't let up.  Everything was going great.  I was holding it together, and while the hills were definitely taking a toll I was still well within the time I was looking for.  I even had my own personal police escort; I finally got something back from the town for all those taxes I've paid!

But it was different being out front all alone.  Normally during a race I have no one I need to focus on but myself .  Some races I  concentrate on trying to catch up to someone ahead of me or I end up fighting off someone trying to catch me, but this time I was literally alone.  Doubts kept jumping into my head. Could I hold them off?  Are they just waiting to kick later and beat me?  Should I run faster or stick to my current pace?  This was all new, I never had to deal with these issues before.  It was great to be in the lead but there was just too much pressure.

With half a mile left I turned off the long straightaway and I looked back, there was nobody close.  It was then that I finally knew that no one could catch me.  The race was mine.  But that was no excuse to slack off so I kept up the pace and pushed it to the end.  One final turn around the building and the finish line was waiting for me.  For the first time there were no other runners catching their breath just past the finish line, it was just me.  I didn't post the best time I have ever run, I ended up with a 19:05, but I couldn't have been happier.

This was my final race of the year and I couldn't have asked for anything better.  The first place finish capped off what has been a fantastic year of running and was the perfect way to bring a close to 2009.

Monday, December 7, 2009

HO-HO-HO

Christmas came early this year and Santa gave me a fifth place finish at the GNRC HO-HO-HO 5K.  Well, I actually had to work hard to get it but everything felt great during the race so I won't rule out benefiting from a little help from the big guy in red.  I also snagged the top male 30-39 so I got to take how a nice medal.  I managed a 6:05 pace for a time of 18:53 which is only 13 seconds off my PR.  Not too shabby for a race whose last mile is almost entirely uphill.  All that and the rain actually held of until after the race

Once again the race proved to be one of the better run events in the area and everything went off without a hitch.  We started off by lining all of the kids up for their race across the lawn.  I was going to run with Catie and Jen would trail Jackson.  Michael got us all ready and blew the air horn to start the race.  Jackson took off like a cheetah with his mother trailing behind him; he's really been enjoying these races and it's nice to see him have so much fun doing it.  Meanwhile, Catie heard the horn, looked up at me, and promptly broke down in tears.  She has yet to embrace the sport like her brother has.  So I dutifully picked her up and trundled our way down the course.  Just before the finish I gave her one more chance to run but she was having no part of it.  Oh well, some day she'll finish a race without being carried.

The main event went off without any glitches.  We lined up, the horn went off, and away we ran.  At the turnaround I was pleasantly surprised to see Michael already heading into the roundabout so I could tell that he was pushing it.  After waving to everyone from the team as I passed them on the way back, and there are a lot of members  to wave at now, I made the turn onto the long uphill stretch.  I began to hear some heavy breathing behind me and realized I would need to keep up the pace to stay ahead.  The lessons of Mt. Washington filled my head and kept my legs going strong.  With about a half mile to go I heard someone call out to the runner behind me, "Go Meaghan".  Aah, it was a girl!  I better not let her beat me, how embarrassing would that be?!

I'm kidding, I've been beaten many times by many females.  Good runners are good runners.  But it still spurred me on to make sure that I was faster than her, after all I gotta look good for my family waiting at the finish.  So as I came down the hill into the parking lot I lit it up and gave it all I had to hold on to the fifth spot.  I cam in just behind fellow GNRCer Don Burke (although it was 30 seconds behind him) and was really pleased with the race.

It seems like everyone had a great day.  Andy easily took first, Don and I were fourth and fifth, and then a big block of members filled out the 14th to 18th spots as Michael, Keith, Jeff, Maureen, and Maria all came in one after the other.  Judging by the amount of awards won by fellow GNRCers, everyone had a great race, especially the ladies who once again swept the 40-49 age group.  A good time was had by all.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot.  As the last race in the GNRC Grand Prix series I officially won by a mere four points.  I'm really happy about that and it is a great way to cap off what has been a phenomenal year for me.  I'm definitely not the best runner on the team so I must be one of the luckiest because the competition was tough right up to the end.  It's nice to know that I can hang in there with the likes of Don and Michael and I look forward to next year.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Grand Finale

Tomorrow is the final race in the GNRC Grand Prix.  Fittingly it is the GNRC HO-HO-HO and it may even snow, so we have that going for us.  Currently I stand alone on top of the leaderboard with a 5 point lead over Michael and Don.  Hopefully the race will be a battle for second place and I will be able to comfortable retain the top spot.  But we'll see, you never want to take these things lightly lest something unexpected happens.

Speaking of unexpected, it will be interesting to see how the leg holds up.  My right shin and achilles have been quite painful as of late and I am starting to get concerned, again.  Nothing I can do about that now though and all I can do is hope that it all holds together.  The last thing I want is another Marshfield 20K.  Even though I finished strong there, a 5K is a whole lot less of distance to be able to recover after any problems.  The leg may hurt but my optimism is up!

We shall see what tomorrow brings.  Win or lose, it certainly has been an interesting year and a whole lot of fun.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Woooooooooooo

No time to post!  68 degrees outside!!

MUST RUN!!!!!

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!


Monday, November 30, 2009

Step away from the fork...

I stepped on the scale this morning.  Needless to say, after a long Thanksgiving weekend of good food and drink I was greeted with a number that I have not seen in many, many moons.  Yikes.  Time to buckle down and get back to work.  A nice rambling ten miler on Sunday was just what I needed to get back out there.

Not to say that I haven't continued to find new and inventive ways to further cause myself pain and injuries.  Not by a long shot.  Inspired by Dave's foray into the world of minimalism,

 No, not that kind of Minimalism

I have been working on my stride and focusing on landing on my mid, and fore-foot instead of on my heels.  I'm not bad but there is always room for improvement.  With this change of stride there naturally comes an adjustment  period, aka, pain.  I expected the shin pain (when don't they hurt?) and even the calf pain but I admit that I am surprised at how much it is affecting my achilles.  Hopefully this is just a transition period and everything will sort itself out before it runs into achilles tendenosis.  That would suck.

Monday, November 23, 2009

This Turkey Trotted

Great race at the Norwood Turkey Trot on Sunday. Not just for me but for the whole club. A slew of PRs were had; the ladies not only swept the 40-49 age group, placed in several other age groups, but also managed to capture the top team prize. Don and Dave also went home with age group awards and I was content at having run a great race.

Going into the race I was not at all confident about my abilities. Since before BayState I haven't really done any speedwork (a few tempos and hills but nothing demanding) and my performance in my last 5K left me wondering what I could do. Part of the problem was the psychological factor. As I have mentioned, I had a nefarious plot going into the race. Well it really wasn't much of a plot and it certainly wasn't nefarious. I just like to use that word whenever possible.

With the Norwood Hospital 4 miler being officially short and disqualified for any PRs that meant that my only other 4 mile race was the standard I had to beat. Luckily I had run that over a year ago and I was confident I could beat that time of 26:07. All I had to do was run a 6:30 pace or better and I would pick up 3 extra points for the Grand Prix. If I could do that there was a good chance that Don would either not gain any points on me or there was even a possibility that I could pick up a point. That would pretty much seal my win. So naturally this was all going through my head before the race and getting me all sorts of messed up. I kept coming back to the idea that my fate was entirely in my hands. Run fast and I win. Screw it up like the Canton Fall Classic and there is no one to blame but myself. Too much pressure!

Of course it turns out that my fate was not entirely in my hands. After managing to maneuver myself from behind the two 14 year-olds who seemed more interested in their iPods than racing (one wasn't even wearing running shoes!) I got a decent spot at the start. The cowbell clanged and I put the pedal down. No more time to think, I was going to get that PR if it killed me. I hit the first mile at 6:07 and I was smoking. The long uphill sucked but I was feeling good. Hit mile 2 around 12:26 which means I was still more than ten seconds faster than my minimum mile pace. I kept pushing it and started to pass more people.

I have no clue what I hit mile 3 at but I still wasn't hitting the wall so I focused on keeping that pace fast. Turned onto the long gentle uphill stretch to the finish and began to hear a heavy breather behind me. No big deal, I was sure that I was going to PR so they can pass me if they really want to. But they didn't. All the way up the hill I continued to feel good. Tired, naturally, but none of the pains and tightness that sometimes flare up. The crest of the hill arrived so I figured I might as well pick it up and fight off this person; mostly because their heavy breathing was annoying me. Turns out that person was Joann Mathews, who is quite a good runner I am told. Lit the afterburners and cruised in to the finish with a time of 24:55. A new PR by over a minute.

That means that since Don finished one place ahead of me I picked up two points on him! The Grand Prix win was in the bag!

No it wasn't. Remember when I said that my fate was not entirely in my hands? Turns out Don PR'd as well. Which means that he picked up a point. Damn. What does a guy have to do to get a break around here? So we head into to the final race of the series only a few points apart. Oh, the drama.

One quick question: for a course that is billed as "challenging" how come so many of us managed to PR on it? I guess we all came out to play that race.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bullets over BlackBerry

The day started like those kinds of days usually do; dark and wet.  Not unlike the seedy bars I keep finding myself spending time in these days.  The kind of place you go to forget, or be forgotten.  The dull ache in the back of my skull kept reminding me of how much time I spent in just such a place the night before.  That, or someone had been using my head as a drum.  I couldn't remember which it was and either way, the results were the same.

But none of that mattered now, I had work to do.  My name's Putt, for short.  I'm a runner.

I should have known there was going to be trouble from the start.  The crew met up in the parking lot of an upscale diner.  A trendy menu kept the saps coming back to unload their wallets for hash and eggs with fancy names on tiny plates.  I'd never seen the inside of the joint and I got the feeling that my invitation to dine there wasn't in the mail.  I wasn't holding my breath.

Right away the self-appointed crew "leader" and the muscle declared that they were out.  I'd never much liked working with others and they weren't helping to change my mind.  Maybe it was that I thought I could watch out for myself.  Maybe I don't play nice with others.  Or maybe I just don't care.  That left me with the two dames.  The Brit was a  bit too awake for the hour but her demeanor was all business.  A quick glance over her and you could tell that she wore trouble like a wet blanket.  I was surprised by the Mick's appearance.  She didn't look like the clientele I would mix with at Finegan's.  I figured she was hiding something.  I didn't ask.

"All right?"

"Let's get started", I replied.  Nothing left but to get on with it.  Those miles weren't going to run themselves.  It was up to us to sort it out.  Just another job.  Easy to say, but I hadn't been seeing too many of them lately.  Yet here I was, part of a trio.  Best not to think too much and to just get it done.

The puddles reflected the weak streetlights.  Our shoes sloshed through them turning the glowing orbs into waves of yellow.  There was little chatter.  We knew why we were here and discussing our inner feelings wasn't part of the plan.  The rain alternated between a drizzle and full-on.  The cold pulled at my legs and urged them to slow but the psycho Brit dragged us along in her wake.  Her friend stuck to me like stale smoke.  So much for easy.  This was shaping up to be a bad day out.

Finally we arrived at the end.  The end for my companions.  This is where I planned on parting company and finishing on my own.  Just how I liked it.  So far the morning had been uneventful; there's a first time for everything.  I began to pull away from the two and head back out.

"Oy, guvenor.  How 'bout the dough you owe me?"

The dame was pushy but she had me dead to rights.  We both knew I had the cash on me and it looks like it was pay-up time.  Only reason I took this job was because my bank account was trying to crawl under a duck.  Looks like I was out of luck and about to end up a dollar short.

I turned my back to her and reached into my car for the cash.  And then I heard it.  I'd been played for a sucker.  It was all a set-up and I was the dominoes.  The distinctive sound a BlackBerry makes as rings the ping of death is unmistakable.  The only other sound that gets my heart racing like that is last call at the after-hours bar.  But even then I can crawl back into a bottle at home.  There was no escaping this.

I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country.  What I had was a wet coat, a Clif Bar, and a BlackBerry that just wouldn't quit.

A black pool opened up at my feet.  I dived in.  It had no bottom.  I felt pretty good - like an amputated leg.  With the message count scrolling faster than a Crazy 8 slot machine I realized my day had just begun.  Time to get back to the office.  Somebody had it out for me.  I intended to find out who.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tempo for the Turkey Trot

I have done pretty much zero amount of tempo or speedwork in the past way-too-long so I decided to get out there and do a tempo run.  Nothing fancy, just 6 miles in total with 3 around 7min per mile.  Nice and conservative but enough to get the heart running a bit faster.  It actually went like that for a a whole two miles too!  And then I ran straight into the Wall Of Windtm.  There was a ferocious wind whipping down the Charles that hit me like a truck and just wouldn't let up.  So my pleasant little tempo run had devolved into a battle to keep my pace and struggle forward.  Needless to say, it left me quite knackered and I could use a nap right around now.

For those of you who have been paying attention you are probably saying to yourselves right now, "Yeah, you haven't done any fast runs recently have you?!"  You are correct, I have been concentrating on taking it easy and just building up a base.  But unfortunately I have two races left this year so I can't let myself go totally to pot just yet. The Norwood Turkey Trot is only 10 days away and it could be a pivotal race in the chase for the top spot of the GNRC Grand Prix.  Currently I lead the board by a mere one point over El Presidente, but Don is knocking on the door and is only six points back.  With 5 Grand Prix race wins this season and a strategy that involves stacking the race, Don is a force to be wary of.  It looks like the winner won't be decided until we all cross the finish line at the Ho-Ho-Ho 5K in December.

Unless my strategy pays off, that is.  I will not give away the intimate details of my nefarious plot but I will say that it centers around this year's Norwood Hospital 4 miler.  I was rather irate at that race after I put in a great run but now  I'm quite happy at how it all turned out.  That race could prove to be the key to my snagging the top spot in the Grand Prix.  Only time, and two more races, will tell.  If all goes according to plan (and it rarely does) the whole thing could be decided at the Turkey Trot.  All I need is a good run.  oooh, so much mystery and drama...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Trail Running

Or: Workouts To Help You Escape Prison

Taking some advice I decided to do some trail running this weekend.  Since I live right next to the power lines I figured it would be the perfect place to run, long stretches of dirt paths that the support vehicles use follow it for miles.  I kitted up and set forth on my first trail run in a very long time.  The first thing I should mention is that I do not own a pair of trail shoes so I had to deal with some loose traction and the occasional sharp stone but they really didn't slow me down as much as I thought they would.

The run quickly became a cat-and-mouse game of avoiding the multiple puddles and pools of water along the route and the inevitable mud that surrounded it.  Luckily I managed to avoid any serious water time although I came inches from stepping into a huge puddle that was covered in leaves.  If it hadn't just caught my attention I would have run right through it.  The myriad of puddles and the scores of loose stones kept me on my toes and forced me to focus on what lay directly ahead of me, not exactly the most relaxing run as I needed to keep alert.

As I crested one hill I was presented with a deep valley with a steep and rocky incline on the other end that looked like it was going to be interesting to ascend.  And then I noticed the river at the base of the valley.  Not good.  I spied a fallen tree about 50 yards away so I made my way through the underbrush, climbed up onto the log spanning the river and proceeded to shimmy my way across.  Once on the other side I had to gingerly make my way through a maze of brambles back onto the trail.  Then I finally got to tackle that huge incline with the terrible and shifting footing.

Finally back in a rhythm it wasn't long until I came smack-dab up against a chain-link fence.  Great, no way around.  There to one side the fence was a bit pushed down, obviously by others like myself, so I climbed it and manged to get over it with only a few minor snags.  Protip: running shorts are not the best clothing to wear when scaling fences.

Back up to speed, I crossed over a road, followed some train tracks, and made my way up a hill to where I thought the path continued.  It did not.  I was presented with a vista in front of me that included a nearly half-mile of boggy lowlands crisscrossed by multiple streams and wetlands.

"Ah, f this" I muttered and turned for home.  Back over the fence, ford the river, avoid the puddles, and fight the underbrush all the way home.  For a grand total of 3.5 miles.  We shall chalk that run up to experience.

Sunday I went for a longer run and on the way back I actually ran along the stretch of trail that I knew to be obstacle free so it wasn't a total loss.  Saturday's run was more of a reconnaissance mission and now that I know which parts to stick to I can use them whenever I am feeling adventurous.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Finally, a good week

I guess BayState rebooted my system because I had a great week of running.  Except for one day where I did some sprints I took all of my runs nice and easy, consciously making myself slow down.  I took to just getting out and letting the run go where it would go.  Some times I wasn't even sure how long I was going to go, I just figured it out on the road.  It was a nice change of pace to just get out and enjoy, it's been awhile since I've done that.

Throughout my training I have become obsessed with pace.  I always had to check what my pace was and where I felt I should be if it was too slow.  Every day I would start a run wondering if it would be faster than the day before.  Faster, faster, faster; but with no real goal behind it.  It didn't matter if I was doing it for a purpose, the pace was all that mattered.  After all, to get a 3:15 marathon I have to run a 7:26 pace; a 90 minute half is a 6:51; a 18:30 5K is 5:57 and so on.  Pace dictates the race and in turn dictates the training.

Or so I believed.

But I have realized that I have been doing it all wrong.  My training programs have been fatally flawed from the very beginning but I never even realized it.  Even when I would come down with an injury I always blamed the increase in distance as the culprit.  So I would cut back on the mileage in the hopes of recovering but when I continued to get injured after the decrease I had no explanation.  Because I never took what the pace I was running at into consideration.  I would barely cut back on the speed.

I have finally come to realize that I was wholly focused on mileage as the only benchmark for my training instead of basing it on workload.  Simply put, workload=(volume x intensity).  While this is rather intuitive I had failed to take this simple concept and apply it.  As my training progressed and I added mileage to my weekly workouts I was also adding an increase in speed at the same time.  While in my head I was progressing in a linear fashion my workload was actually increasing exponentially.  My training progress should have looked like this:



 But instead it has actually looked like this:




Which explains a lot. Too much, too soon.  In the future I am definitely going to take this into consideration and use what I have learned.  If the mileage goes up the speed needs to stay the same, and vice-versa.  Run smarter.

For now I am going to take some advice many people have given me; stop over-thinking, relax, enjoy, and run what I feel, not what I feel like I must.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

I came in 2nd and all I got was a hat

Technically though, I got the hat for first in my age group, not my second place finish. There were no prizes for placing except for first.

The race was the first Norfolk Monster Dash 5K. Checking out the crowd at the start I figured I had a good shot at a top 3 finish and this was confirmed after finding myself in the lead early on. Of course by that I mean it was myself and a few young kids who managed to keep a 5 minute pace for about 50 yards.

Soon I was joined by an actual rival, the president of the Wamps and as he put some distance my dreams of a win were fading. But all that was ancillary to the fact that the lead motorcycle was turning onto the wrong street! "No!" I yelled, but at those speeds the sound was quickly left behind. This was going to knock some distance off.

I settled into second place as our positions solidified. The Wamp was a bit too far ahead to catch and third place was far enough back for me to hold him off. They took a different route back so it actually ended up being almost exactly a 5kn it was maybe a tad long (3.12 miles).

So I finally captured my first top 3 spot which is great even if I didn't run particularly great. Ended up at 19:28 which is around a 6:15 pace. Ok, but I was hurting the whole race. Some days you are on and some days just take more work.

The second place finish was definitely a treat, the trick was the on-the-fly course redesign. Happy Halloween.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Apparently drinking heavily the night before...

...is not a recommended pre-race routine.

Catiefest '09 went till the wee hours Saturday night and involved far too much beer, brandy, and Bouncy Castle. Sunday morning, and the Canton Fall Classic, came way too early.  Before I knew it I was being told by the guy to go find parking somewhere else, the lot was closed.  Great.

Gingerly tying my shoes, so as not to get too dizzy on the way back up, I made my way over to the road with the rest of the crew for the start.  The weather was great and it was a good day for a run.  Except for the hangover part.  Not too bad, but still.

Soon enough we were off and running through the streets of Canton.  Decision time was at hand, do I coast it and take it a bit easy or do I push for a PR.  Talking to some of the other competitors earlier they made out the course to be moderately difficult with some decent sized hills so I wasn't sure if I wanted to kill myself.

Mile three rolled around with my split at exactly 20 minutes.  A quick calculation using all available fingers and toes led me to believe that I had a shot at besting my previous PR of 41:46, so I vowed to keep up the pace. And that's when the alcohol decided to take its toll.  I began to develop quite the cramp in my side.  Nothing too bad at first, but each hill we climbed made it grow successively more and more painful.  But I was committed so I toughed it out; apparently a bit too hard though.  The next morning I woke up and my muscles between my shoulders were really sore.  I guess I was trying to power through it a little too much.  (Bad form, sir!)

Mile 4 and the motorcycle cop yelled at all of us.  Yeah, yeah, I'll get over to the right side eventually.

Mile 5 and they called out my split, 33:50.  So according to that I could do about a 7:10 pace and still get the PR. Awesome.  Or so I thought.  I made one tactical error, while I had been watching my pace I never actually looked at the time on my watch.  I had been relying solely on the splits being called out at the miles.  I kicked up my pace to a 6:30 for the last mile, which should have given me plenty of time, but imagine my surprise when I rounded the corner into the parking lot for the finish and the clock read 41:50.  I couldn't believe it, how could I have miscalculated so badly?  I don't know if the split they called out at mile 5 was wrong, but I should have looked at my watch because it was identical to the clock.  Needless to say I was a bit pissed.

Afterwards as I made my way home I kept smelling something odd.  It took me awhile to place it.  Turns out it was all that brandy and scotch making its way back out through my pores as I sweat it out.  I almost got drunk from the fumes on the way home, good thing it was such a nice day that I could open the windows and get some air.

Final note:  I ran into Zac after the race and asked how he did.  "Good, but it was just a tempo run". Since he is running the NY marathon this Saturday that makes sense.  It wasn't until that night when I checked out the results that I found that his "tempo run" was a 5:55 pace which was good enough for 5th place overall.  Must be nice.

Friday, October 23, 2009

So what have we learned?

That is the big question now isn't it.

So what has my recent 3:29 marathon time taught me?

I am a better runner than I thought I was.  Sort of.  Obviously, one of the objects of daily training is to get a handle on current fitness levels and overall ability.  The past couple of months my training has been spotty and significantly less difficult than I had originally planned.  this, along with my steadily declining performances in races, (not that they were terrible, just that I felt that I peaked around July) led me to believe that I was not ready for a fast marathon.  Going into the race I had planned on hitting somewhere between a 3:40 and 3:50 and had no allusions of trying for PR.

So naturally I was surprised when I managed to take 5 minutes off my best time.  The question is, how?  I think part of it may have been the weather.  As cold and as rainy as it was it was, well, not hot.  It sounds like it sucked but other than losing feeling in my fingers, and occasionally my thighs, the weather was good for pushing the pace.

But that alone can't account for my performance, after all I was expecting a much slower race based purely on my training runs.  The fact that I hadn't been able to run farther than 18.5 miles in months was a sure sign to me that I just wasn't ready for a fast marathon.  So it was quite a shock when not only did I run a new PR but I actually felt good.  No muscle cramps, no serious fatigue, and I ended the race feeling like I could have gone a bit faster.  What made this different.

Maybe it was the rest.  Because of my niggling injuries I hadn't been able to put in the mileage I wanted to.  Perhaps that translated to muscles that were more rested and able to run better.  Combine this with the steady increase in training and racing over the last year and that could account for a strong run.

But all of that is almost a moot point when I start to think about the mental aspects of the run.  This was my third marathon so I now know what to expect and what it is going to feel like.  Each race builds confidence and allows me to hone my technique and strategy.  Going into BayState I had no plans at all about how fast I was going to run so I think that this removed any pressure there may have been about what pace was needed,  whether or not I was hitting my splits, etc.  I could, in essence, just run.

By also deciding to completely hand control of my pace over to another runner I was able resolve myself of any responsibility for how fast we were running.  I became a sort of traffic cop, other than making sure we weren't running too fast I didn't have to worry about what our pace was.  This was completely liberating.  It didn't matter what I did, I could just enjoy and make sure I stayed next to Tracey to get her to the finish.

Could be the reason why I did so good?  Without the distraction of pacing, and finish times, and pressure of trying to hit a certain time could I have been in that good mental state that allowed me to run faster than  I would have thought?  Maybe many of my issues are completely mental.  One thing I have been thinking about is the fact that I have never not hit a target goal in a race.  Never.  I wanted to do a 1:35 half, I ran an exact 1:35.  I wanted to do Boston between 3:30 and 3:40; I did exactly in the middle of that range.  I began to believe that I was in tune with my training and that this was evidence that I knew what I should be running.

Then some anomalies started to make me think that maybe I was wrong.  One month after the Boston Marathon I ran the Boston's Run to remember half-marathon and knocked a minute off my PR.  Without trying to.  It was just easy.  I did the last mile in 6:29.  In August came the Marshfield 20K during which I managed to suffer a bad calf injury half way through.  But once again, I ran the last mile and a half in less than 9 and a half minutes.  Then came BayState.  These were all instances where I was running significantly better than I thought I was capable.

So perhaps the reason I am consistently hitting my target goals is simply because they just aren't difficult enough.  Not that they need to be difficult for the sake of being difficult but more that I have been underselling myself and setting goals that I know I can achieve.  Maybe I have been holding myself back this whole time by setting goals that I can reach in order to feel better about myself when I do so.  Perhaps I need to revise my goals to challenge myself.  Right now the only one I have that is questionable is qualifying for Boston but even that is more of a "one of these days" type of goals, not something I have a definite plan for.

BayState has made me stop and think.  I had planned on just coasting for a bit and taking things as they come to get back in a rhythm.  Now I just don't know.  I am tempted to start planning for my next marathon and soon.  I want to see what I can do.  But then again, I don't want to get caught up in the pressure and anxiety that comes with setting a tough goal.  Part of me believes that I have done my best when I had no preset plans, so maybe that should be my plan for my next big run.

Monday, October 19, 2009

So I ended up with a PR

And did it in under 3:30.

What, do you want to fight about?

After all my bitching and whining about this and that injury, my up and down training, and a pretty bad attitude going into it, I managed to knock off 5 minutes from my best marathon time.  But the best part was that I actually felt good (relatively speaking) throughout the whole race.  I didn't have to stop because of leg cramps and I wasn't a total zombie at the end.  I never hit the wall.

Unfortunately I can't take the credit for my time.  Going into the marathon I only had one goal, stick with Tracey and see her through to the end.  Being her first marathon she had two goals, finish, and qualify for Boston.  No problem, the time she needed was a 3:50 so we would be aiming for around a 3:40.  That would make for a decent pace but nothing too crazy.  I could get another marathon under my belt, get in a long run, and help Tracey qualify, all while taking it a bit easy so as not to hurt my already flaky knee.

That plan lasted about two miles.  The first mile was an 8:00 pace.  So was the second.  The third was faster.  I started to get nervous that Trace was caught up in the excitement and pushing it too fast but we let her run.  About mile 8 Michael told me that he wouldn't be able to hold that pace and that it was going to be down to me.  Suddenly I went from having options to being committed, there was no way short of injury that I could let her do it on her own.  By mile 10 Michael and John had dropped back and we were on our own.

We crossed over the second bridge and hit halfway around 96 minutes.  So far the miles had been coming off real easy.  Most of the mile markers were on us before I even realized it.  Still, our pace was almost exactly 8 minute miles. After 13.1 Tracey was officially in the longest race she had ever been in.

The cold and the rain didn't seem to be slowing us down any as we continued on.  Finally, the 17 mile marker came up, we were down to single digit miles left to go.  A psychological boost for sure, but it was definitely starting to get harder.  The nice easy stride took a little more energy, my breathing was a bit more labored, and the miles seemed to be getting longer.  At some point Tracey got a little too excited and I had to yell at her to slow down, now was not the time to be pushing it to a sub-7 minute mile pace.

Over the bouncing bridge for the second time and it was the final turn for the finish line 8 miles down the road.  (The bouncing bridge is a metal bridge where the pedestrian walkway hangs off of the bridge side and looks straight down to the river.  It literally was bouncing up and down as we ran over it which, while fun, also wreaked havoc on our knees and was a bit scary to run on due to the metal plating that was coated in rain)

Mile 20 approached.  This was the big one.  I hadn't done twenty miles in over two months and Tracey had never run farther than that.  Up until now we had averaged an 8 minute pace with the last few miles faster than that.  It was no longer a matter of if she was going to qualify for Boston, it was a question of just how much faster than that we could finish.  As long as she didn't hit the wall 3:30 was a definite possibility.  Now I was starting to question the earlier pace. Tracey was heading into unknown territory but so far seemed to be holding up really well.  It turned out that my knee was a total non-issue and the only worry I had at this point was my calf that had started to get sore.  As long as that didn't seize I up I was going to be ok.  I was tired, I was sore, I couldn't feel the fingers in my right hand but I still felt strong.

All of a sudden Tom Rooney starts running next to us looking pretty damn energetic for mile 20.  Turns out he wasn't running the marathon, just running with the club members to help keep us going on the back stretch.  I was starting to doubt myself so it was a relief to have him along for a few miles to take some of the pressure off of me, even if just for a little while.  This is where the race really begins, and Tracey just kept on going.

We said goodbye to Tom around mile 23 and I tried to mentally prepare for the last few miles.  I could tell Tracey was getting tired, her questions about our pace were coming much more frequently, but our pace stayed the same.  At mile 25 we could see the arena where the finish was across the river.  The next half mile was a gradual turn to the right on a banked road which is exactly what my legs wanted right then, a nice uneven running gait after 25 miles off steady, even, and flat running.  Luckily nothing seized up on me.

Finally, the turn into the stadium.  All we had left was a lap around the outfield on the warning track and the finish line awaited us.  Well, actually, all we had left was a lap around the outfield and a couple of tarp covered mounds of dirt that we had to hurdle and then the finish line.  As we turned around right field towards home plate I could see the clock, it was right around 3:29:22.  I yelled at Tracey to pick it up and beat 3:30; and she did.

We crossed at 3:29:38.  A new PR for me by over 5 minutes and an amazing first marathon finish for Tracey.

We met up with the rest of the group, froze our asses off, and reveled in the performances of the day.  A very impressive day for all including several Boston qualifying finishes.  And I managed to finally run a marathon in which I didn't have to stop for a bit due to muscle cramps: those didn't hit until I tried to step up into the minivan.  Still, that was nothing compared to the ensuing quest for a Dunkin' Donuts.  But that's another story all together.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Go time, again.

Two days from BayState and my attitude still sucks.  Then I got this post this morning from el Presidente and thought to myself, "You know, suck it up.  Either you finish or you don't.  You destroy every bit of your legs or you learn from the experience.  Deal with it."  And then I began to feel a bit more positive.  I don't have to set a PR.  I don't have to run fast.  Technically, I don't have to run at all.  So if I'm going to do it, do it right and have some fun (as much fun as you can have running 26.2 miles that is).  Think positive, run positive, live to run another day.

Now if only the weather would cooperate...

The post:

What it takes

Just because you seem to be at a disadvantage is no reason to give up. Instead, resolve to push forward with consistent, focused effort.

Those who achieve are not necessarily the smartest, or the wealthiest, or the best connected. Those who achieve are those who are the most persistent.
Your level of commitment over the long term is a much bigger factor than any relative advantages or disadvantages that may exist when you first start. Choose where you would like to go, and keep making the effort until you get there.
Be willing to do what it takes, and you can achieve whatever you wish. Instead of worrying about where you are when you begin, put your energy into making steady progress.
If you can take one step and then another, you'll get where you choose to go. So take the first step right now, and then begin working on the next one.
You owe it to yourself to live life at its best. Now is your opportunity to make that life happen.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Seriously, make up your mind

Once there was a time I ran without injury.  I really can't remember that time but I'm sure there had to have been some point in the past.

So I don't think I ever formally announced it (not that I have to) but any dreams of trying to qualify for Boston at BayState have long since been abandoned.  The litany of injuries over the past two months has just been ridiculous.  First some bad shinsplints which then segued nicely into a pulled calf during the Marshfield 20K and has since morphed into a persistently annoying knee pain.  I just hope to finish BayState without killing myself at this point.

Which leads to today's run.  A very simple and easy four miler down by the Charles.  Except for the crazy wind it was by all respects moderately paced and relaxing.  But I quickly noticed that something was missing; no knee pain.  I figured it would come later.  Mile 2, none.  Mile 3 no pain.  Up the long hill back to the office and nothing.  Not the slightest twinge, creak, or ping from a knee that was absolutely killing me on Tuesday.

And therein lies the frustration.  Why now?  Is it gone for good or just today?  Why can't I just settle into some sort of routine without wondering what calamity is waiting to derail me tomorrow.  The second half of the summer and now sliding into fall has been a great frustration as I have watched my times slide and ability suffer.  My latest 5k times are a good thirty seconds off where they should be.  I haven't done any speedwork for fear of breaking something.  The longest I have gone in about two months is 18.5 miles and that was originally supposed to be 20.

At this point I don't know what to do.  Looking forward I am still undecided as to a plan of action.  Do I keep training for marathons but keep the pace slow?  Or do I scale back to Halfs as the longest I go and focus more on speed?  Bot have their draws but I have no idea which is better for me at this point.  All I know is that next week is the first race that I have planned that I have no excitement about running. I'm pretty confident that BayState is going to wreck me but I'm going to do it anyways.  I'm basically just doing it because I already signed up for it.  That's a bad sign.  This cycle of training-injury-recovery-training has got to stop because it's really fucking with my head.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tips for Marathon success!

Here are some surefire tips on how to make that marathon day extra-special.

Two weeks before the marathon do a 20 miler after work.  Do not do the whole 20 miles, make sure to stop after 18.5 because of the pain in your knee.

The next day enjoy the constant, painful reminders that you have done some real damage to your leg.

Remember that the marathon is not, in fact, 18.5 miles.  It is much longer.

Profit!

Well, maybe not profit as such.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Rome Blvd 5 Mile

My first post-High School team event. And there was money on the line. 5 brave GNRCers embarked on a journey to best the evil Wamps and capture the prize at the Rome Blvd 5 Miler; previously the Ro-Jacks race.
Weather-wise it was a typical October day, if your typical October day is overcast, warm, and humid. But at least it was the first 5 miler of the year that it wasn't raining for. Unfortunately we were beset with bad new on arrival: due to severe nerves Tracey had dropped out of the race. Well, it may have been a back injury but whatever. Fortunately Maureen was more than willing to anchor the team.
9:45 rolled around and we were ready for the start (seriously, who starts a race at 9:45?). Then there was a reshuffling of the runners: 2 milers on the right, 5 milers on the left. Ok, sorted, let's begin nope, still more people coming. La la la. Now? No, more people? Ok.
Hey look, Al Cerrone is going to talk. Ok, let's go. Oh yeah, national anthem time. Excellent. Now can we go? No. Really?
Oh a guest starter. Did you bring the pistol. No worries, we can wait for you to find it. Ok, go time. Pull the trigger and...try again. Still nothing. Crowd's getting restless, just say go.
GO!
So 20 minutes later we start. Within the first half mile my legs were dead due to all the standing around. It was going to be a long race.
And it was. Had to fight the whole way and just couldn't get into a stride.
Oh and a tip for all you new, young runners: if you plan on doing 8-minute miles do not take off doing a 5:30 pace. You will get tired, quickly.
Fast forward, after weaving around large packs of walkers I entered the track in time to hear Andy and David's names being called as they finished. Held on for the next 300 meters, again, dodging walkers (thanks for not giving me the inside lane!) and spurred on by the gaggle of GNRC juniors I finished with an exact time of 32 minutes. A bit slower than hoped, but respectable.

The team finished as follows:
Place Time Average AgeGrp AgePlc SexPlc Bib Name Town
  3   28:50  5:46    1 30-39    3 M    33 Zachary Laidley             East Walpole,MA                         
  7   30:05  6:01    1 40-49    7 M    31 Andrew Wilson              Westwood,MA                      
  9   30:22  6:04    5 20-29    9 M    34 David Woodruff              Westwood,MA                       
14   32:00  6:24    5 30-39   14 M   32 Jeff Putt                         Norfolk,MA  
21   33:38  6:44    2 40-49    2 F   113 Maureen Larkin              Walpole,MA

Unfortunately the Wamps beat us out. I know, anti-climatic end to my story but you'll just have to deal with it.
RunPutt

P.S. Shout-out to the wife for completing the 2-miler while pushing both of the kids.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Racing roundup

Two races to report on.

Last Sunday was the CVS/Caremark Downtown 5K in Providence. This was my first real race after high school that I ever ran so it has become a tradition to run it.  It is also a big event close to home that for some reason tends to have great weather and it is always nice to see the elites who show up for the 5K championship.

It was another great day weather-wise and since I had run Norwood the day before I was planning on setting a comfortably fast pace and enjoying.  After the initial jockeying for position down the first hill I was able to hit my stride, mostly, and cruise through the first two miles.  I hit the second mile marker around 11:25 on South Main St. and...wait a minute.  Quickly doing the math in my head and utilizing fingers on both hands I deduced that I would have had to run my second mile in 5 minutes according to their clock.  Either I had just channeled the ghost of Jesse Owens or this was another race that had managed to screw up its mileage markers.  A glance at the GPS confirmed that I would not be heading to the Olympics anytime soon.

As I crested the evil hill at the end of the race I could see the clock approaching the 20 minute mark so I gave it a little kick and managed to cross the line with a guntime of exactly 20:00.  Nettime was 19:51 which was good enough for 260th place.

Medfield Day 5K
It was a crisp Saturday morning when we showed up at the start line for the 2009 Medfield Day 5K.  Zac was there so right away I knew that I wouldn't be top in my age group, again.  But that's ok. The race begins and just like every other 5K I have been in a large contingent of young kids sprint out ahead and set a blistering pace, like around 5 minute miles.  I'd be seeing most of them later on.  Sure enough, by the first mile I began to pass several of them.   By the turnaround most of the rabbits had started to fade back.

As I approached the turnaround I got to see who was ahead of me.  Looks like I was currently in ninth place at that point which was excellent.  I kept my pace and within the next mile I had passed another kid to put me into eighth.  The rest of the pack was too far ahead so that is where I finished up.  Ended up getting eighth overall and first in my age group.  I was a bit disappointed with my 19:37 time only because I thought I was going faster than that but it is what it is.

Notable mentions: Zac ended up second overall; Mel C was first female, Maureen was second; and Michael and Jeff P both finished in the top twenty.

Final note: several people and my own GPS confirmed that the race was long; it ended up being 3.17 miles.  I don't know what is going on this year but that is like the fourth or fifth race in a row that either had incorrect mileage or had the mile markers in the wrong place.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Norwood Hospital - Fin

Race turned out well. I set out to do an easy pace, but then the race started and I abandoned that idea, again.

As I got close to the half point (it was an out and back) the leader was easily a hundred yards ahead of anyone else. He was flying. I had been feeling a bit tired due to the 10 mile warmup but started feeling stronger the further into the race.

Around mile 3 towards the top of the rather long hill I started a duel with an older guy. He'd pass me, I'd pass him and so on. Eventually he kept the lead but then we hit the downhill and I turned it on. Kicking it in I cruised down the hill and left him in the dust. Pulled out a 16th place finish which was just fine with me.

A notable finish: Tracey captured second place female. Excellent job. Sorry about not being there to cheer you on during the awards but in my defense, I'm an idiot and can't be trusted with anything.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Norwood Hospital Update

There was a long sleeve shirt in my goody bag. That makes this officially the greatest race ever.

I'm gonna double check to see if the put any beer in there. You never know.

Norwood Hospital 4 Mile

It's 7:45AM and I just finished up ten miles in front of the hospital. The race doesn't start until 9 and I ran over here from Westwood. While the sun is nice, my sweaty clothes are starting to feel a bit cold in the 50 degree air and light breeze.

Perhaps this was not the best plan of action.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Split workout

Monday I did a split workout.  I had planned on doing a long run on Sunday but then Tim stayed over and we ended up hanging out and doing some geocaching with the kids.  Good times.  That left me to do my twelve on Monday.  Naturally work wouldn't let me take a day to go running so I had to split it up between lunchtime and after work.  6 miles each run.  Both runs felt pretty good and I put in a decent pace; 7:45/mile during lunch and around 7:50/mile that evening.

Now as some of you know, I have been having some issues with my legs and particularly my right leg.  I believe it is due to some pronation so I concentrated on the two runs on keeping my leg straight and not rolling as much.  Worked out good except that now the outside of my knee hurt because I was changing up my stride.  No big deal, just sore.  Or so I thought.

Tuesday I embarked on a gentle run at lunch.  I didn't even make it a mile before stopping.  My knee was absolutely killing me.  Nice move there, way to ruin another part of the body.  I am such a dumbass.

Needless to say, Wednesday I did not run.

But Thursday felt great.  I did a fast 5.8 or so.  Excellent.  I had decided to stop destroying my knee and try out the SuperFeet insoles I had previously bought to try and control the pronation.  I haven't been a huge fan of the insoles because the arch support has felt strange and in the wrong place before.  In this new pair of shoes they felt ok.  It still felt as if there was something under my foot the whole run but it never got painful.  I think they helped a bit and the run was mostly ouch free.  I feel ok (not great but ok) today so I guess it worked.

Another big weekend coming up.  Norwood Hospital 4 Miler (4? 5? whatever) on Saturday and then the CVS Caremark Downtown 5K on Sunday in Providence.  I scored number 283 for the CVS 5K which is pretty cool.  I guess they expect me to actually run fast being up there in the front.  Well I guess I fooled them!

Catie and I hitting the pavement at the 2008 Downtown 5K.  Look at how excited she is!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Ollie 5 Mile

Or 4.91 miles.  Apparently something went wrong, the official results are recording it as 4.91 miles due to "missed turnaround", whatever that means.  You would think that the USATF-NE 5 mile championship race would have its act together.  I blame the rain.

Speaking of rain...

It was a cold and rainy day.  Seriously, it was freakin' pouring out.  All of South Boston was covered by inches of water.  Naturally with the conditions the way they were we parked about three blocks from the Bank of America Pavilion and walked, in the pouring rain, over and grabbed our numbers and gear.  Then we had to walk back to get ready.  The gigantic lighting and thunder crash half-way back was a total treat.  So as you can imagine we were insanely soaked by this point.  I did find out that my wind pants are in fact, not even remotely waterproof.  At least I will take that knowledge with me.

Time comes to line up for the race.  A little rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner and we are off, apparently.  I never heard a gun go off so I was kind of just swept along with the crowd.  No worries; being that the weather sucked and I was a tad hung over (another good tip is to never go drinking until 1:30AM the night before a race) I figured I would just tuck into a comfortable pace and stick with it.  No need to push it too much.  With that in mind I settled into a 6:30 pace and enjoyed the race.

Luckily the rain had abated and was more of a mist now so it actually ended up being a pretty decent day for a run.  Up the first hill and down to the waterfront we went.  Suddenly the lead runners started passing me on the other side of the road on their way back after the turnaround.  Damn they were fast.  These guys make it look effortless.  The turnaround was just up ahead when Don passed me by on his way back.  Take the turn and now I got to see the rest of the crew as we passed.

Hit the three mile marker still feeling good.  Wait, that mile marker came up really quick.  A look at the GPS confirmed my feeling, it read 2.8 miles.  Hmm, interesting but no worries.  I kept my pace pretty consistent and soon was hitting the 4 mile marker underneath which a few people were "stoopin' it" and letting us all know that yes, this was mile 4.  Except that it wasn't.  Again my GPS read around 3.8 miles.  Intellectually intriguing but I still had a mile to go so I didn't really care all that much.

Picked up the pace for the last mile but didn't kill myself.  I was happy with my 32:19 (32:24 official) time and the fact that I picked up a point on El Presidente which I thought would put me one point out of the lead but a quick check of the standings shows that there is a tie for the lead!  Woo hoo.  Guess I shouldn't have blown off the James Joyce Rambler after all.

After the race it was off to the Pavilion to sample the free Harpoon ale and stand around in the cold rain.  So smart of me to leave all of my clothes in the car.  Hypothermia never felt so good.  The beer really was good though.

My 32:34 finish meant a 6:36 pace which I was happy with.  But the field in this race was so strong that I came in 199th!  Damn, that is a crazy field.  Always fun to race with talent like that.  But next time it's raining like that I'm bringing a jacket for afterwards.  Not my smartest moment.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Zen and the art of biomechanics

Or: Why my leg hurts

So even though I scaled back on my running for three weeks because my shin hurt (oh and that whole calf popping thing) I found that it still hurt when I started running again this week.  "Why", I thought.  You would think that it would be at least somewhat better by now.  What could be causing this?

I began to really pay attention to my stride.  By that I mean I walked in slow motion staring down at my leg.  I noticed that my knee was tracking at an angle towards the inside of my stride and then rolling back out to move forward.  "Interesting", I thought, "The left one doesn't do that".  Which is probably why that one doesn't hurt at all.  During some runs I also began to really pay attention to how my foot landed and rebounded to look for clues.  What I noticed was that I was landing in the middle of my foot and rolling inward, in essence pronating, and that the outside of my foot wasn't making any contact at all.  Basically my right foot is overpronating while my left is working just fine.

Personally I blame my high school hurdling career.  You can only bang into so many hurdles or land hard on the track with a fully extended leg before something starts to give.  In my case my leg is a bit out of whack and the fact my foot points off a little to the outside is proof of this.  Symmetrical legs are just so boring.

During my last few runs I have concentrated on keeping my right foot from rolling as much and it seems to be working.  The pain isn't as bad and seems to be holding steady, in fact I feel pretty decent today.  So how did this come about?  I can only assume that it was the change of shoes.  My recently retired pair were Mizuno Inspires while the two pairs before them were both Saucony Omnis.  Maybe the Saucony had a little stiffer control in them and therefore held up better.  I just got a pair of New Balance 769 and they seem to behave a lot like the Mizunos so I will have to keep concentrating on changing my stride.  I guess an option is to move up to motion control shoes but I really don't want to since they tend to be heavier.  Inserts could help but I have yet to find any that haven't made me want to saw my feet off after a few minutes of using them.

At least I have something to focus on and work towards fixing.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Walpole 10K

The question of the day was: how was the calf going to hold up during the race? Saturday I got out and did a brisk 4 miles (more like 3.86 but whatever) and it held up good until around 3.5 so my hopes were high. Even if the race was going to be 3 miles longer, and significantly hillier, and faster. But those were all minor details. There were about 11 club members that showed up for the race and the weather was excellent so you just knew it was going to be a good day.

We got to watch the start of the 5K (when was the last time I actually got to watch a race start without being in it?) and after a few minutes of hold time we set off. Naturally the pace was fast out of the gate and I got pulled along with the rest settling into around a 6:40 pace. So far so good.

John, Maureen, and myself stayed pretty close together for the first mile or two before I began to pull away. Maureen was the lead female at that point so I thought she had a good shot at taking it. Right around mile 3 I could hear her gaining on me and getting ready to pass me by. But then I realized it wasn't actually her, it was some other girl. Ok, no problem, I'm cool with that. Except that she stopped her surge and kinda just settled in right near me. I soon passed her again on the uphill and then she surged forward past me on the flat. This went on for the next mile and a half. While that is annoying in its own right (pick a pace!), she was wearing an ipod and it was blaring. I hate that. Even worse was that I had to listen to the crowd the whole time yelling that she was the first female. One, she can't hear you. Two, thanks for cheering me on as well, or not. So that spurred me on to leave her behind around mile 5. Bye bye Lisa.

Calf was feeling good the whole race; no tightness, no pain. I had modified my stride to shorten it up a bit to keep from overextending and it seems to have worked. That had the unfortunate side-affect of keeping my pace down but I really couldn't complain. Final turn onto Common St and I was still passing people with one hill left. I gave it most of what I had left, too little training the past few weeks left me tired, and there was the finish. I got surprised at the end by someone flying by me as we turned into the High School but by that point I was really happy with my performance.

Now here is the only part I can complain about; I came in 18th overall (psyched about that!) but I got 8th in my age group. What! That sucks. If I had run in the 20-29 age group I would have gotten 6th. There are just too many good runners in my age range.

Today the calf is just slightly sore, feels almost normal post-race soreness so it probably was not as badly injured as I had first thought. That's a relief. But my shin on my other leg has started to act up. Here we go again....

5 1/2 weeks to Bay State. Maybe I should think about starting my training up again?

P.S. I think everyone in the club had a great race. We got a top three female, age group placers, PRs all over the place and a party that afternoon. Good times.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Zensa-aah that feels good.

I picked up a pair of Zensah compression leg sleeves to try and speed up the recovery of my calf. I wasn't sure what to expect but the reviews were pretty positive on them and even the people at the store were full of praise so I figured I would give them a try. Lo and behold they work pretty good. After I put them on I found that the muscle pain was significantly decreased when I walked. I've been trying them out for a couple days now and they definitely make a difference.

Unfortunately they didn't make that much of a difference on my run today. Because I haven't run since Sunday I decided to get out and see how the leg sleeve would work. Quickly I realized that while it helped, it could not overcome the injury I most certainly still had. So I did a light run, only about a mile and a half and called it in order to avoid making matters worse.

Today's run was also a test of my new shoes and that turned out so-so as well. The right shoe digs into the bottom of my heel a bit. I blame my foot more than the shoe, this isn't totally unheard of when I wear shoes, so I may have to suck it up. Once I tied them a bit tighter it didn't irritate me as much so we will continue to test them out.

"Learn to run when feeling the pain: then push harder. "
William Sigei

Online Entry for 2010 Boston Marathon

Got an email that entry starts Sept. 9th.

Thanks for rubbing it in BAA. Bite me.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Pop goes the muscle

So the running has been going, how do I say this...? Poorly, as of late. Since my shin started to hurt I haven't been able to put on any distance of consequence. Then, to add insult to injury, my left achilles/calf started to hurt after any run, regardless of the length or speed. The Butterfly 5K damn near killed my legs and it took a few days to recover. I'm starting to think that I have never run before and that all these aches and pains are because of a lack of conditioning. Alas, this is not so. I think my legs have just decided to give up and are doing all they can to stop working.

I noticed that my shoes have surpassed the 300 mile mark so I figured that maybe they have lost their cushioning and that was the cause of these injuries. While 300 certainly isn't a huge amount maybe that's their limit. So down to DB Sports to pick up a new pair. I tried on the New Balance 1225 but after walking around in them for a few hours I realized they were just too loose so I brought them back for a pair of the 769s in a wide width. Better fit but they have one really annoying problem; there is a bump that pushes up into my heel on the right foot. I did a test run on my treadmill and it certainly was annoying. This seems to happen with a variety of different shoes and the only thing I can think that it is causing it is the transition from the heel to mid foot in the shoe is slightly back of that point on my foot therefore I feel a slight ridge on my heel. While it isn't too bad I am afraid it will cause more issue.

What does all this have to do with today's race? Just this: my legs have felt terrible and my training has been in the toilet. But the Marshfield Road Runners' 20K is a Grand Prix race and I couldn't just let those points pass me by. And the kids could go to the fair afterwards.

We packed into the official minivan of the 2009 GNRC Grand Prix and showed up at the Marshfield High School before the race officials could even open registration. Fast forward and we are lined up at the start line. We take our marks; we get set; and they pull the cord on the cannon. It skids forward about a foot and doesn't go off. "Oh, damn. Um, Go!" the official exclaims. He pulls the cord again and there goes my eardrums.

But we were off! My planned 7:30 pace rapidly devolved into a 7:10 pace after the first 10 yards and stayed around there for the next few miles. I tucked in behind a trio that were running a comfortable pace and I really felt great. It barely felt like I was running very hard. Just after the second mile my left achilles/base of the calf started to get increasingly tight. Since it had been bothering me for a couple weeks I brushed it aside, just another sore muscle to deal with. The hills didn't help it much but what are you going to do? This was a race after all.

We crested the long hill for the first time (it was a loop race, we'd see that hill again) around mile 6.5. Everything was going great. Other than the pain in my calf I felt strong and was picking my pace up a bit. I turned left about 50 yards after cresting the hill and ran another 100 yards or so. Suddenly there was a pop (I swear it popped!) in my calf and a severe pain. Something had gone terribly wrong. I was reduced to hobbling along the side of the road. Runners started passing me by, further pissing me right the hell off. Are you fucking kidding me with this injury? I can't even make it over 6 miles without something literally tearing itself apart?

I continued to hobble along for another half mile not knowing if I would be able to keep running; but I was damn sure that I would be finishing this race. Death before DNF. If I had to walk the remaining 5 miles I was going to.

Finally it started to loosen up and I gradually increased my pace. Jeff W and John had paced me just after the blowout so and I was determined to catch them. After a mile or so I began to push it. By mile 9 I had gotten back down to a 7:20 pace. The only thing slowing me up was the stabbing pain in my calf and the need to keep it just slow enough to not suffer a relapse.

Towards the top of the long hill, for the second time, I caught up to John. I kept feeling better, the leg was loose but still really painful. The big question now was where Jeff W was. He had to be close. Cresting the hill it was almost entirely downhill from there. Mile 11 arrived and I could swear that I could see Jeff in the distance. It was go time in a big way. If I wanted to catch him I would need to really pick it up.

Thanks to the downhills and some crazy need to grab that extra Grand Prix point I managed to pull out a 6:30 mile. It was definitely Jeff in front of me so I kept up the pace to catch him. Finally I did. Just before the final turn into the High School I blazed by him and raced for the finish line. I covered the last .4 miles at a flat 6 minute-mile pace and only 9 seconds ahead of Jeff. I was pretty psyched to have been able to pull out a finish like that.

Of course as soon as I stopped the pain crashed in. This was really painful. Nine hours later it still hurts and I am really not looking forward to feeling what it is like tomorrow morning. I'll explore my thoughts on why this stuff keeps happening to me later but for now I will close with a big "F U" to my legs for failing so spectacularly as of late.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The PRs they are a'changin

Finally got out with the club on Saturday for a long run. I don't even remember the last time I met up with them because of conflicts, travel, injury, and whatnot. It was good to have someone to run with again. We did the Strawberry Hill 10 mile loop and mysefly, Dave, and Johnny setting a decent pace. Tracey and Jeff were close behind. Of course Dave and I were the only ones who hadn't already run several miles, but that's just splitting hairs.

After regrouping we set out to do three more but the increasing stomach craps from the illness my children passed on to me forced me to bail after only a third of a mile. Oh well, ten is better than none; I'm good with that distance.

Today was the Butterfly 5K in North Attleboro: a race I have been looking forward to since it has a net elevation change of about 70 feet. Excellent. The first mile is downhill and I managed to do it in 5:42. Again, excellent. I eeked out an 18:41, which is a new PR, and I was pretty happy with that. Not extatic but happy given my almost two weeks off. I had hoped to do around 18 flat, but I'll take it.

Best part of the race came a bit after mile 2 as we turned into the subdivision. As I ran by a spectator yelled out "Donny Burke looking good!" Or something like that. Holy crap, Don was behind me! That's never happened before. I then decided that he would not be passing me. With determination I struggled forward towards the finish.

Unfortunately I thought the first left was the finish so I kicked in a surge. It was not the finish. I managed to hold on until the end but gave up a few spots because of my premature kick (I hate being premature). But I beat Don! With that and a new PR I was pretty psyched at the finish. Well, nearly sick, exhausted, really tired, thirsty, and then psyched. Good to be back out there.

I should note that Don ran in the 100 on 100 relay last week so he was not at 100%, but I'm still pretty excited to have actually beat him for once.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Return to the run

I hadn't gone for a run in over a week before today. I took the conservative route and decided to rest my leg before the pain got any worse and led to a really serious injury. First thing I noticed is that it felt much better than it had the last time I ran but also that my leg definitely was not fully healed. It still felt as if someone was occasionally twisting my leg around and putting pressure on it. I still don't know if my stride has changed or my shoes are doing it or even if it was a response to some other injury that caused me to run a bit differently.

Last week was a total wash. I had planned on doing almost sixty miles with a nice long 24-miler on Saturday. Clearly none of that happened. Which makes me question my whole plan and whether it is tenable now that entire weeks are being rescheduled. I haven't been too excited by my performances in my training over the last month and as such have begun to question whether I should stick to my goal for BayState or just use it as another training race and concentrate on some as-of-yet unnamed marathon in the future. I've been real happy with all my race times but it just seems like the training is an uphill battle. Depending on how quickly I can bounce back I will need to decide soon since I am right in the middle of what should be the bulk of my training and yet here I am skipping a week.

Enjoy the heat out there everyone.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Curse of Bay State

Has struck a little earlier this time. Once again I have sustained an injury in my training for the BayState Marathon. This time it is pain that radiates from above my ankle, up along my shin to my knee. It started last week for no apparent reason and hasn't been getting much better. I took off Thursday and Friday to rest up for my long run and then set out Saturday to do 22 miles. It wasn't too bad during the run but when I stopped at 18.5 to drop all my kit at the car it was really screaming. I limped a bit before hitting my stride but there was definitely something wrong so wisely, although reluctantly, I ended the run after 20 miles.

Since then it has continued to hurt. I'm not sure if it is just a muscle thing, it feels like someone has twisted my leg around until the muscles tore, or if it is, and I barely dare to whisper this, a potential fracture of the shin. Just like I had in high school. I don't think it is because it seems to affect my knee occasionally so I hope it is just muscle pain. Either way it is totally screwing up my schedule and it looks like I have an unexpected slow week on my hands for this week. And by slow I mean that I haven't run since Saturday and am not sure when I should again.

The memories of being sidelined for six months by an injury last time are still fresh and it's really pissing me off. I wouldn't mind so much if my body would just pick one injury and stick with it. That way I could just brush it off saying "oh, it does that". But no, always have to have a new and interesting one.

Let's just hope it's a real bad case of shin splints and it will clear up soon and I'll be back out there running away and qualifying for Boston in no time at all.

And I may hit the lottery and live on a private island in the Caribbean. Sure it could happen, but I doubt it.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Chugging along

Did a really nice 20 miler on Sunday. Dave and Chele were having a yard sale so Jen decided to load up some stuff and head down Sunday morning to get rid of it. That worked out good for me because their house is about 19 miles away in Cumberland, RI so I figured I would just run to their house and meet them there. I mapped out a nice route that took me through and around the reservoir which gave me a large chunk of time off of the beaten path and away from the busy roads.

I stopped on the causeway overlooking the reservoir around mile 11.5 to text Jen and let her know where I was. I had to go to the bathroom so I hopped over the guardrail and down the embankment and was just about ready to go when the thought popped in my head, "this is a drinking reservoir". So I decided to spare the poor souls of Rhode Island and I went in the woods instead. They can thank me later.

Finished up the run and felt really good. The long runs have really been stringing me out lately so I was happy to feel energized and without many aches. All in all it was a really good run.

Not so much today. I did some speed-work and the weather just sapped my strength. I managed to bang out three speed intervals, two miles and one half, around 5 mile pace. I was supposed to do 3 full miles but started to get real tired and didn't feel like pushing while I still had a couple of miles left to get back to work. So I cut the last interval short and just jogged it back. Strangely enough I kept finding myself pushing the pace faster than I should have the whole way back so I guess my body kept trying to get in the last of the workout. Good for it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Roundup

The Marathon Sports 5 Miler last Thursday went pretty well. It was an interesting race, starting and stopping on the grass. It began on the field, went for about 100 yards before taking a 90 degree turn to the left, down a short but steep hill, and then funneled everyone through a gate before hitting the pavement. It had been raining all day so the threat of falling on the grass was definitely in the back of my mind as we pushed and bumped our way during the start. I should also mention that the lawn had been recently mowed so before the race even began my shoes were completely covered in grass.

The clock at the first mile read 5:56 as I passed it. That was 5K pace, way too fast. The next four miles were all about toughing it out. Right around mile 4 I have never wanted to throw up during a race more than I did at that moment. I couldn't wait to get to the end at that point. With about a half mile left the race moved onto the grass for the final push to the track where it ends. I could have done without that, the uneven ground was just what I didn't want as I struggled through the end of the race. I did manage to pass a few people during this stretch so I guess it was ok. Crossed the finish strong and saw that I had managed a 31:40. Very happy about that.

Took a couple of days off and then hit the roads again on Sunday for a lazy 8 miles before heading off to a pool party for my niece's first birthday party. That pool was freakin' cold! I have no idea how kids could stay in it for so long.

Monday I held off on my tempo run until the evening hoping that the temperature would ease up a bit. It did, about 4 degrees, but the humidity rose about 10% so nothing really changed. Yesterday I decided to cut the mileage to 4 miles because of the humidity and ran around the Charles. That was actually kind of nice and I clocked a pretty fast time without even worrying about my pace the whole run. I love when that happens. Off to do some more mileage tonight as soon as Jen gets home. Again, I was hoping the humidity would drop but that isn't going to happen. That isn't too bad, it's just the uncontrollable dripping after I stop that gets to me. Eew.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Waiting for the rain

Sitting here in the parking lot of Weston Middle School watching the rain. The Marathon Sports 5 Miler doesn't begin for another 90 minutes. There is a roped off section on the field which looks like part of the route so this should be interesting.

So far luck is with me. Got a parking spot in the first lot, first row, on the end facing the exit. It pays to be two hours early. Should be over a thousand runners so this is no small event.

Unfortunately I have to head back to work after this to do a bunch of changes tonight. As if I wasn't tired enough.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

G2 is the new crack

I love G2. It tastes good, it keeps me loaded up on electrolytes or whatever, and it makes me perform 2000 times better than normal (results may vary). I like it better than Gatorade on most occasions because it isn't as sweet or heavy and when I mix it with some water for the long runs the splash of taste is nice and refreshing, even when mildly warm.

But I have come to realize that G2 has a nefarious side to it so dark that you can not find any information about it anywhere. I believe that the makers are adding an addictive chemical to it that makes you crave it; not fortnightly but you get the point. My findings are based on my own personal experiences and the observations of two test subjects who will be referred to from herein as JP and CP. The images have been doctored to hide their identities.

JP is a male, aged approximately 4 years old, weighing 35 pounds. Upon first introduction to G2 the subject enjoyed the "purple juice" and was observed to have a positive reaction while drinking it. After allowing the subject to consume several sips of the G2 it was taken away and kept out of reach. JP became increasingly frustrated with the lack of access to the drink and eventually began to yell at the observer in an effort to get the G2 back. The subject displayed all of the classic signs of addiction withdrawal after only a brief time consuming the beverage.

The second subject, CP, is a diminutive female weighing approximately 26 pounds and standing less than 3 feet high. Her reactions upon having the G2 removed from her were considerably more pronounced and violent in a shorter period of time. Any attempts to aid the subject while drinking were quickly met with yells of "no" and a marked physical recoiling. She would repeatedly attempt to gain access to the beverage no matter what obstacle stood in her way. No attempts to placate her with juice or milk would dissuade her from her attempts at obtaining the G2.

But can you blame them? It's pretty good stuff and it's nice to be able to rehydrate after a run and not put back in half of the calories you just spent an hour burning off. That's what beer is for.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Dehydration and the great shake

Party weekend coming up. Lots of friends coming in to town so I decided to move my long run to Thursday night to keep my weekend free for debauchery. Naturally the weather decided to be warm and humid but at least the rain was nowhere to be found.

At this point I have to give some mad props to my sister for the (interesting) birthday card I received when I got home. Inside there was an iTunes gift card which I quickly converted into a Doctor Who audiook and downloaded to my ipod. Sweet, a two hour book to keep me amused.
With my audio needs met I set out into the early evening sun for the long run ahead. I spent the first mile screwing around with my water bottle pack but eventually got it sorted out. The rest of the run was uneventfull if not long, hot, and tiresome.

Finally made it home, although the route ended up only being 17.8 miles. I hate that. Hobbled my way up to the tub for a cold bath. Aah, nice. Icing up and watching Hot Fuzz, brilliant.

Problem is I failed to eat anything. I kept drinking to rehydrate but within a couple hours I began to get the chills. Sat down to eat dinner and as soon as I had the first bite (which was really good by the way) I knew there was no way I could stomach any more. Damn, no food for me. So I packed it in and went to bed where I proceeded to alterantely shiver from being cold and sweat through the sheets. Ah running, is there nothing you can't do?

On the plus side I lost three pounds.
Ok, back to my cocktail. We are currently passing under the Jamestown Bridge while cruising down the Narragansett Bay. Good things.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I am developing the knees of a 60-year old arthritic woman

Someone, make the pain stop. I am so looking forward to an easy week next week and this whole weekend off. Aah, heaven.

See what happens when you turn 36, everything just falls apart. I would take up cycling but seriously, way too much spandex going on in that world. Throw some leg warmers on those guys and we have ourselves a retro-80's party going on.

Oh yeah, today's run: 7-mile tempo at marathon pace blah blah blah. Nice and sunny though.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Birthday Run

Denied.

Been chained to my desk all day. And it is so nice out. Grrr. We redesigned a large portion of our network this weekend and there have been some flaky issues that I have been working on since. That kept me indoors hacking away on my computer instead of pounding the pavement on this the day of my birth. Alas alack. I suppose it will give my knees a rest for a day.

Joyeux Quatorze Juillet my French compatriots!!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Race day

North Attleboro Kids Day 5K today. The kids ran the quarter mile; Jackson ran well and had fun. Catie required a bit more, um, support, shall we say. Horn went off, she took one step, and began to cry. So I carried her the whole way. Victoria ran the whole thing and was last by a long way, but since she was alone the whole crowd was cheering her on. She soaked it all in and was clapping the whole way to the finish. Silly stuff.

On to the serious stuff. 5K went well. I got a good jump and settled into a low 6 minute pace. A group jumped out ahead and I quickly was able to break them out into those that I would be passing and those whose backs I would be seeing the whole race.

First mile ended up around 6:09 which is a bit slower than I hoped. Kept up that pace for the next mile and a half and continued to pass people. Around 2.5 I passed the last person I thought I would catch. But he didn't fade away like the rest. My psychological-fu was not working on him.

Stubbornly he then passed me on a downhill. Hmm, interesting. Ok, keep pace and drive through it. Next uphill I was back in front. Last turn and a quarter mile left with him right on my tail. In a blaze of red he suddenly came flying by me and pushed it all the way to the end. He had way more reserve than I had thought. Oh well.

But wait, does the clock say 18:35? Time to give it all I have left. Across the line at 18:46, a new PR by 2 seconds! Alright!

For the second time in two weeks I placed ninth, how does that happen? Very happy with tbeing in the top ten. Unfortunately I did not place in my age group, I was fourth. The youngsters in the 19-29 group captuerd the top 3 spots with the first three 30-39 year olds taking the next three spots. That's a shame, they give out nice awards.

Ok, training round-up. Long 16 miler on Friday was not easy. I was tired and the sun was hot. Foolishly I left at noon so I got the brunt of it. Had to stop a couple times but I managed to tough it out to the end. The schedule has been tough and has made my more tired than usual, to say nothing of the perpetual aches and pains, but it should pay off in the end. Clearly my race times have shown significant improvement so it is all worth it.

Happy running.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

One fish, big fish

I continue to slog out the miles. Easy four on Monday and then some speed work on Tuesday. I figured I would head over to the MIT track, since it is the only one remotely close to me, to make the mile repeats easier to pace and control. Of course there was a nice cloud cover and some rain, why change that? The track is about two miles away so I ran over and then began the workout. All in all pretty good but unfortunately I had wildly underestimated the total distance I would cover and my 6 mile workout ended up at over 7 miles. Yikes, not sure I will be doing that again.

Today I managed to mangle another workout. It was scheduled as an easy four but I decided to run over to a part of the Charles that has exercise stations so I could so some pull-ups and stuff instead of trying to cram them in tonight. Turns out it was a little over 2 miles just to get there but no big deal. Worked out a bit and then took off back to work. But now I was tired (being out late last night to see the Sox win didn't help. Nor did the several beers consumed at said game) so I figured I would mix it up, go over the Fiedler Footbridge and up Beacon street. Somehow that turned into me choosing a route through Beacon Hill that hit the steepest grade of every street I chose. So my easy 4 miler turned into almost 5 miles with a workout in the middle, an initial two miles that were more tempo pace than laid back, and some hills. A mash-up workout.

As I ran along one of the pools that line the Charles I caught a glimpse of some ripples and thought it was odd, no dicks or geese anywhere. Then I saw it again so I stopped. As I was watching a gigantic fish, trout I believe, started jumping out of the water. This thing was huge! It did that a few times and then was gone. It must have become stuck in the pool because there is only one way in and out. Totally random but very cool. The funny part is that I had just passed a guy sitting by the river with his fishing line in the water hoping to catch something. He chose his spot poorly.

Yesterday I went on a race frenzy and signed up for the Attleboro 5K this Sunday, the CVS Downtown 5k, and wait for it....the Bay State Marathon! I made it official and am locked in. Of course I managed to screw up the registration but what else is new? So I will be joining the five other members of the club who have registered thus far. Let's hope I can actually stay healthy enough to make it to this one.



What the fish may have looked like.