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.