Monday, August 30, 2010

Vacation Week

I am on vacation! What a way to start a post. It feels great to have some time off and I hope to make the best of the week.

We are going camping, the State Fair, and a Twins game this week. I'll do some running in between all that as well.

This morning was a nice "shake-out" run in the sticky heat. It was 73F at 5:30 this morning so running easy was just a bonus. Toward the end of the run I made my way to the UMD track and did 6 striders on the 100 meter straights before heading home. For the most part my legs felt good and now I just have to get my back in better shape. Hopefully the people at CHC can get me in this morning.

Total: 39:32 5 miles easy

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Trail Weekend

After Thursday's rest I got out Friday and hit the roads for a hour of general aerobic training. Nothing too fast nor was it a recovery pace run. I was going to try for 90 minutes but I knew I wanted to get in some good back to back medium distance this weekend so I opted for a hour run. For the most part things were feeling good except my lower right back. ( a result of sitting in a mini van for 20 hours last weekend)

Total: 1:06:22 9 miles

I got in touch with Dave H on Friday night and we agreed to get in a nice 90 minute loop in the late morning hours on Saturday. When we left my house the temps were 82F and the sun was beaming on us. It was a good thing we hit the trails by the second mile and the trees provided a much needed canopy for much of the distance. We made our way down the SHT to Hawks Ridge and over to Amity creek before I made my way to the creek bottom for a splash of refreshing water. Our return trip up SHT was very comfortable but my right leg and lower back were beginning to take a toll on me. It felt good to stop but the back was about as tight as I could handle. I need the CHC people.
It was nice catching up with Dave and it seemed he had a decent run as well.
Total: 1:29:32 11.2 miles

When I woke up things were ugly. Yeah, I was too, but my back was telling me "no running today". I couldn't stand the thought of missing another longer effort. My wife told me to try a DVD she had the really focused on the core and back stretches/strength. I followed it which lasted near 30 minutes and what a difference it made. My back was stretched out and I was ready to hit the road. I fully expected it to spasm up mid run and cause me to bail out but it didn't.
I ran the same course Dave and I did on Saturday then I added a loop in Hartley to make up some additional time. I got out a little earlier and the heat didn't hit me as hard. To get in two quality runs back to back was very satisfying and I hope things are ready to progress to the next level this next week.
Total: 1:46:00 14+miles

Weeks Total: 59 miles (6 runs)
Years Total: 1773.9 miles

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Back In The Groove

Just when I thought I had run some slow, horrible, stiff, recovery runs I then got the luxury of feeling Monday's run. I took Sunday off for recovery and sleep and I had to go to the well on Monday. My quads and lower back were not letting me stride out so I kept things well under control. After I made it past the first half mile things slowly improved to the point where I knew I could make it through the miles. I've also mentioned in the past that these types of runs are very important in the recovery process and as much as they suck you can't avoid them. They must be done. Here are the feeble mile splits:
Total: 7 miles 57:28

Tuesday I had it in my mind that I was going to get out there and hit some miles and get my legs to do what I wanted. Crazy thought. The did do much better but I was not able to do my half-marathon pace segment in the run so I just kept it at an honest pace. I was surprised how good I felt. Towards the end things started to get a little stiff again but for the most part I was very happy with the weeks progress so far.
Total: 1:26:17 12 miles

Wednesday was back to a little recovery time and just getting out the door was a success. I was still feeling very tired from the weekends all-nighter and getting up each day has been a chore despite the extra sleep I have been getting. The morning was another gorgeous one and getting up is much easier when you know you have decent weather to run out into. I took it easy and was looking forward to Thurs longer run again.
Total: 41:05 5.3 miles

I never made it out this morning. The overall feeling of fatigue while in bed got the best of me and that is breaking rule number one. I am not supposed to make decisions of working out while in bed. I make myself get downstairs to make that decision and usually once I am down there it is really easy to get out the door. I didn't give myself that chance and just readjusted my alarm clock and gained an extra 90 minutes of sleep. I'm not beating myself up too bad about it and I realize I can still get in some good mileage this weekend so I guess it's a good thing. (i'm not really sure, just rationalizing)
Total: 0 miles :(

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Ragnar Relay- A Story of Masters

I turned 40 in April. It couldn't have been too long after that I received an email from an old buddy I met years back during my internship in Marshfield WI. He was inquiring to see if I would be interested in joining himself, along with several others I had met the summer of 1992, in a multi-stage relay from Winona to Minneapolis. I wasn't done reading the email and I already knew my answer. YES!

The Great River Relay, organized by Ragnar Relay events, was an epic event the would cover 193 miles of demanding roadways from Winona to Minneapolis. There are several "classes" a person could participate in and our team would be considered a mens "Masters" aka 0ver 40 years age, class. For anybody who has participated in an event like this you know the excitement I am about to describe. EPIC is one word.

Part of my decision in running this event was the fellow runners. If a person is going to spend the better part of a weekend with 11 other runners he or she better be able to get along. I knew this wouldn't be a problem. Steve, Mike, Mark, Eddie, Scott and Jay have been runners and friends I have known since the early 90's. I've kept in touch with Steve and Mike the most but catching up with the rest was just like jumping back in time and taking off just where we left conversation. The rest of the team consisted of Tom, Perry, Zup, Ole and Greg. All of whom I just met on Friday. Great guys!! Thank you for letting me be part of such a great experience.

I can't stay up and type enough to replay all the excitement and energy that I was exposed to. Here were some highlights:
The race times were staggered and we shared the last starting time with a half-dozen teams or so. We left Winona at 4 PM on Friday and had a mission to be in Minneapolis by noon on Friday. If we did that, we knew we would place well. Keeping skepticism to the side I got ready to lace my shoes, ties my shorts and run like hell! I ran the 2nd, 14th, and 26th leg of the event and my first leg was in the late afternoon heat of 86F! It's been some time since I felt heat like that and running 5:30 miles just wasn't in the cards. I managed to complete the first leg in 5:45's. I was happy. After our van finished up all six legs we jumped ahead to where we would be starting late in the night and tried to get some rest. Try is the key word. I got ten minutes of "rest" and then I had to prepare to run another 8.4 miles with one killer hill. A hill that would last near 2.5 miles was awarding the runners with 2.5 miles of downhill to follow. I would cover that section with an average of 6:01 per mile. Getting a shower after our van completed it's second rotation was key and we were off to Stillwater to rest for the third round. This was where I was hating life. Damn! I was thinking of quitting, sleeping, crying, anything but running. These are times where great team members come through. Tom, the guy who had been running his legs of the race right before me and I would tag off with, kept at me to eat, drink, eat drink. Try something. You need to eat. So I ate some chocolate chip cookies. Four to be exact, and then had half of a banana. As I started to become more alert, Tom kept circling back to the van while giving me the "thumbs up". Then I heard another comment that hit home. Mark, who was lying on the ground with his legs and feet up on the van floor, was doing his own version of self-pitty. He was mumbling something about not being able to get up and do it. "How can I get myself to run another leg?" "I'm so sore!" Then the message was heard. As he slowly, and I mean slowly, got his carcass up from the ground I saw him shake out his shoulders and say, "Ok, stop feeling sorry for yourself. Quit being a pussy. Everyone is tired. You can do this. Get up and get moving." He wasn't talking to me but I heard him loud and clear. He was absolutely right. I can guarantee you that nobody out there after running two legs were not ready or willing to head out for their third round. But you have to do it. That was your commitment to the team. That's what teams do. They win and fail together. Hell yeah Mark! You got me going. I had been saving it for a time like this. I crawled out of the backseat, reached into the cooler and pulled out my one and guessed it. RED BULL! This stuff is magic in times of need. I slammed it and along with the teams support I was ready to take the tag from Tom and push up yet one more hill and pass of the tape to my partner, Mike, for the last time.

We found ourselves in a true race. Three teams kept sharing the lead and we ultimately won with a cushion of about 5 minutes. It sure is unreal to be up all night, running, sweating, laughing, yelling, and finding yourself and two other teams just 7 minutes from each other after 193 miles and just over 20 hours of running.

Our time was unofficially 20 hours 9 minutes and 30 seconds. Good for an average of 6:19 per mile pace. I am so proud to be part of a team that consisted of such a great group of guys. Thank You so much for the experience.

Friday: 6.2 miles
Saturday: 12.3 miles
Sunday: 0 miles

Weeks Total: 52 miles (6 runs)
Years Total: 1715.4 miles

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ending The Week With A BANG!

Going into mid-week I knew things were beginning to click once again. My legs were more fluid and I was recovering much faster. Each day felt good and the pick ups on Tuesday went about as well as they could have. Feeling that I was way behind on preparation for TCM I kept the mileage up even heading into a rather interesting weekend of running. (more on that later)

On Wednesday I took it easy and hit the Morley neighborhood for some easy miles. I was going to add on some but it made sense to keep it easy. A great day of running and legs felt just fine.
Total: 45:43 6 miles

Thursday was an upper Woodland run that included some short pick ups as I felt. Nothing too technical but a little pacing to prepare for my legs in the upcoming relay during the weekend. God it felt great to hammer out some good miles and with the stellar mornings we have been having it made the run even more enjoyable.
Total: 1:04:24 9.1 miles

Friday and Saturday running deserve a their own post.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Jump Week

I planned on this week being a week in jumping mileage. I need to get in some miles in the next 6 weeks and now is the time to start. Overall I am feeling pretty good. Tomorrow marks 4 weeks since my surgery and I am happy with my progress. The high point of this week will be the Ragnar Relay I am participating in with a group of great guys that I met in Marshfield, WI years ago. A great time for sure!

Monday I ran my easy loop out in Woodland and felt very good. The hills from Sunday's run didn't hinder me too bad and I ran feeling pretty comfortable. It sure is nice seeing some 6:30 miles show up on the Garmin these days.
Total: 57:35 8 miles

This morning I decided to get in a little uptempo work without busting my balls. This is easily accomplished by doing 1 minute repeats at 5K pace with equal rest. With temperatures at 50F and clear skies I couldn't have asked for a better morning of running on west Skyline. I managed to do 8 X 1 minute at 5:00-5:15 pace with adequate warm up and warm down. I felt great on the speed segments, thank god. As an added bonus the sunrise was one for the record books!
Total: 1:13:27 10.6 miles

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Lester River Singletrack

I had all the intentions of getting out early Saturday morning but arose to a fine cup of coffee and excellent conversation with the wife and the time just passed. It's amazing how much I value some alone time with my wife as our conversations during the week often revolve around preschool chatter and plans that include Lucas. I didn't mind missing the run as I knew I would be burning some calories in a different fashion later in the day.

Saturday, members of our team at work got together for some much needed social time without "work lingo" involved. What a great time had by all. At the end of the day, we spent close to 4 hours paddling the Brule River, had sunny skies, temperatures in the mid 80'sF, and high water levels. We may never have conditions like this for some time so we had a blast!! My forearms are killing me today, good thing running takes little arm involvement because if I had to paddle today I would get nowhere.

This morning I met Dave Schude out at his place and we hit the Lester Park ski trails until the first sign of new single track made it's appearance. These trails have been around for a year or so and I had never made the trip out there to run on them. WOW. That is one word to describe them. I told Dave, with the exception of SHT, those trails are by far the best single track we have in the area hands down. Close to two loops and some extra on the west side of the rive made our morning complete and near 90 minutes of running was had. Thanks Dave, what a great way to start a day.

My legs are feeling very good and I should be able to get in a "normal" week of training this week. The weekend is looking good and I will be joining a team from Marshfield, WI for the Great River Ragnar Relay starting this Friday. This too shall be an Epic event filled with many laughs and pleasures...

Totals: Saturday: no running, 4 hours of paddling

Sunday: 90 minutes of trails with Dave in Lester Park
1:27:03 9 miles HR: 134

Weeks Total: 39 miles (5 runs, 1 paddle day)
Years Total: 1663.2 miles

Friday, August 13, 2010

Vast Improvements

This has been a great week. Each day I have been feeling better and the last two runs couldn't have gone better for being three weeks post-op. The main improvement has been my legs, hips and overall ability to stride out more smoothly. The paces for my runs have become more "normal" along with a lower heart rate. That's all good!

Things may just come together as long as I can keep progressing over the next 6-7 weeks. I still want to run the marathon in October and will plan for it unless I become derailed somehow.

Here are the last two days of running. This morning was a last minute day off for rest. I think the extra day off really is more beneficial at this point then running for a half hour. Next week will be a scheduled 7 or more runs so I should enjoy the rest day.

Wednesday: Out and back on Skyline at an easy clip. The paces are improving at a much lower heart rate. As I was running home I hit the UMD track and did three laps with the straights excelled at 5K pace. (whatever that is right now?) I was amazed how good it felt to stride out at 5:10-5:15 pace. 6 total striders then jogged home.

Total: 45:10 6.3 miles

Thursday: I ran up Woodland to Arnold, Martin and home via Vermilion before making my way through UMD campus and seeing a couple friends running very fast on the track. I had to investigate what was up. The finding was a mile time trial. You two sure looked strong out there. Good job!! For me, I made a few more laps before getting home and discovering I had run the longest run since my surgery. A good morning and very pleased with the progress.

Total: 1:14:30 9.8 miles

decided on a rest day. I will enjoy it.
0 miles

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dwindling Light

I hate to say it. The summer months are limited and fall is slowly approaching. This simple fact comes to reality for me as I wake up each morning for my runs. I woke up and made my way down the street this morning no later than 0500 and it was near complete darkness. I've gotten used to this cycle and I really don't mind running in the dark. By mid run the daylight was present and I could turn off my red LED I had clipped to my shorts.

The runs this week are going well. Monday was a typical morning. I always seem to be a little more fatigued on Monday's with the busy weekend behind me so this week was no different. Today was a good day and I added just a bit to the distance to make the long Martin road loop that brings me back home just under an hour. With the temperatures approaching 90F I sure am glad I have the opportunity to run first thing in the am. It's going to be a great day!

Easy out and back on Skyline. My legs are feeling better and I am having a lot less overall soreness.
Total: 40:52 5.5 miles

I did the Martin road loop returning via Vermilion and UMD. Felt great and things are really starting to improve. This was what I was hoping for!
Total: 1:00:00 8 miles
HR: 137

Sunday, August 8, 2010

It's Hard To Be Patient

Having this be my first week back after a layoff sure was tough. I knew it would be difficult for a few days, and maybe I underestimated the set-back, but the entire week was a challenge. For the most part I don't have any discomfort from the surgical sites. My lower abdomen feels good. My legs, hips, calve are tight and sore. I believe it's the Piriformis Syndrome coming out again as I had this a few years ago and had some difficulty getting rid of it. I know my exercises I have to do and when I can I will perform them in hopes to rid the discomforts ASAP.

On a high note I managed to get in a couple of great local trail runs both on Saturday and Sunday. The trails of Rock Hill and Hartley were calling my name yesterday and for this morning I ran a spur trail segment of SHT. Both just wonderful runs and I hope to use the momentum of these runs to springboard my fitness this upcoming week. It's going to be an added challenge to keep things under control and push the red-line just a bit over the next 7-8 weeks.

Here are the totals of the end of the week and weekend runs:

Once again the pace early on was super slow until I got my legs to loosen. I made my way up Woodland and did the short version of the Pigs loop. By the end of the loop I was feeling the added time and took some additional time to stretch really good after.
Time: 53:00 6.6 miles

I woke up really sore and knew I needed a day off. I took that day off and my muscles thanked me.
0 miles

I did all the trails of Rock Hill and Hartley. The trails in Hartley were wonderful and I saw a half-dozen local runners enjoying the morning. A good day, and a step in the right direction.
Total: 1:03:05 7.2 miles (trails)

Not ready for a full-on distance run yet so I decided to repeat a similar day like yesterday. I hit the SHT spur trail for an out and back with a little added time on Hawks Ridge. Once again, after my initial warm up I really started to work into the run and I am beginning to feel more fluid. As soon as those Piriformis loosen I will be rockin' the steady state runs again. I can't wait!!
Total: 1:04:46 8.1 miles (trials)

Weeks Total: 39 miles (6 runs)
Years Total: 1624.6 miles

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Mild Progression

I knew this week was going to be a bunch of crappy runs filled with self-doubt. That is the norm when taking off several (12 to be exact) days of running and having abdominal surgery. That part was new. I underestimated the power of abdominal muscles and their involvement in every movement we do. When I started running yesterday most of my muscles felt "stunned". Not really dead tired. Not really sore. But, "less-than-ideal" would be putting it in perspective.

This morning was near brutal. The muscles I woke up yesterday were screaming at me during the first mile and, once again I found myself thinking positive thoughts just to get through. By the end of the second mile things were loosening up and I remained pretty steady for the out and back on Skyline. The temperatures were already 70F at 5:30 am and the humidity was climbing. The main issue this morning was inability to stride-out. My left groin muscles are tight and I feel really choppy when I run. Tomorrow has got to be better.

Total: 46:04 6 miles HR:130

When the alarm sounded I was just ready to throw the clock across the room. Then I realized what was making that sound and I needed a quick "snooze" before another alarm to roust me out of bed. The hobble down to the basement was slow but soon I was feeling like things may be improving from a flexibility point.

I decided to wear a pair of racing flats for the run in hopes to force myself to run on my forefoot more. This also allowed me to get some quicker turnover and run a short segment of the SHT down to Jean Duluth road. Once on Jean Duluth my stride started to open up and I found myself running a pair of 7:05's back to back. (that's a huge improvement compared to the 8:00's of yesterday and Monday.) My quads, and calves remain a bit sore but I can handle that as long as I keep progressing. Tomorrow I may add ten minutes to the run if all feels well. I have to press just a bit if I am going to get back into form for October 3rd.

Total: 43:44 5.5 miles (some trail)

Monday, August 2, 2010

A Step In The Right Direction

Whew! Almost two weeks off of running, and though I know I didn't loose too much fitness, I feel like I am starting from scratch. Ground zero if you will. I made it out the door this morning and really had no prescribed distance or time and was just running by feel and was allowing myself the decision to turn around and return home at any given minute. I have done this enough though to allow myself at least two miles before making a decision. Sure enough, after a mile and a half things improved but the pace remained pedestrian. That's ok. I may remain at this pace for the entire week. As long as I can get out the door and begin to loosen up this week I will consider it a success.

The loop consisted of an abbreviated version of my usual Monday morning loop that took me through the cemetery, Vermilion road and UMD before making a couple laps on the track and returning home. My lungs felt great. My legs didn't. My sites from the surgery felt good. My glutes didn't. What does all this mean? I guess it means I am on the road to a good recovery and I have legs, and glutes that haven't run in a couple of weeks. Pretty normal I guess. That's it for now. Just wanted to update the fact that I am on the road to recovery and this time next week I hope to be getting back in the groove.

Totals: 41:21 5.3 miles (7:52 average)