Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hangin' On By Threads

The plan to line up at the Team Ortho Monster Dash 1/2 Marathon is still on. My last week of running was nothing spectacular. I managed to get out and run most days and some were very easy. The main issue continues to be some extensive lower abdomen discomfort that wax and wanes. Some days it feels like I am ready to get going and do some serious training and others it makes me feel like I should hang it up now. Thankfully the last week had more good than bad days. I had two great days of Chiropractor visits and that relieved a lot of tightness. I have one more visit this week and hopefully that will get me ready.

The last time I ran a sub six minute mile was during the TCM and on Saturday I will be asking myself to run thirteen of them much faster than six-minute pace. A bit aggressive? Maybe, but I have to at least try. If I manage to hang on to the pace I should be in the mix. We'll see come Saturday.

Here is a breakdown of the last week. The weather has been stellar until this past Saturday and Sunday where the days were filled with mostly rain and fog. Sunday was very wet and if the temps would have been ten degrees cooler there would have been a foot of snow on the ground!

One of those "get out the door" kind of runs.
31:00 4+ miles

Feeling better I ran a bit of Kenwood and Arrowhead areas and managed to rip a good mile in there, and felt strong doing it.
45:00 6+ miles

Back to the easy loop where I almost got sprayed by the cemetery skunk again. Damn, I've had some close calls.
30:00 4+ miles

Thursday and Friday
0 miles

Trails in Hartley. I felt really good. One of those runs where I had to concentrate to keep slow.
45:00 6+ miles

Torrential rains and winds kept things close to the house. I ran down to Hawks on the SHT and ran roads back home. I had a period of time on Jean Duluth where I looked down at the Garmin and it read 6:25/mile pace and I was just cruisin'. That's a good feeling. Just maybe I can pull off this half in a week...
58:00 8 miles

Total: 28 miles
Years Total: 2082.6 miles

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Back On The Road...Barely

It has been a bit of a struggle to get my body to allow me to train a bit longer into an already LONG season. Since the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon I have had some serious muscle aches in my low back and right hip area. This is nothing new, but this time it is really taking a toll on my psyche. I just want to make it one more race. The plan, which is always a bit of a dream, was to recover off of TCM and go run Mankato Half-Marathon. Well, anybody who was planning on that event and didn't sign up, like me, was thrown a curve ball last week when an email went out that the race had filled it's capacity. What? The web site stated that they would be accepting day-of race registration and no where did it mention a field cap! (I would later get an email stating that they screwed up but couldn't change their mind now.) OK, I guess I have to respect that.

On Saturday my wife was spending a little time on FB and one of the side advertisements was from Team Ortho trying to get people run their race at the end of the month. A ten mile race was filled but there was a handful of slots left in the Half-Marathon. Count me in!! I quickly signed up and that is where I will focus my energy for the next two weeks. Then some serious down-time!!

As long as I can get my back to and low abdomen to loosen up I will be able to make a good race out of it. The weather should be great and the course looks like a lot of what I just ran on the TCM course. I'm looking forward to it.

Here is a very short recap of the running I have been doing since my marathon.

I took a week off then resumed running on Friday the 8th.

Friday 8th: Easy, slow run out on Woodland and side streets.
31:30 4 miles

I was planning on continuing my training and all of a sudden on Saturday morning I was out taking pictures of my son and when I went to stand up my back went out and locked me tight! It took most of the day to loosen and on Sunday night my wife figured out I had an extremely tight PSOAS muscles pulling my lumbar off to the right. I did a few stretches and things were a bit better. I took off Monday and Tuesday and had a massage Tuesday night. Things improved a bit but still a lot of stiffness and discomfort. For the rest of the week I focused on stretching and sleep. I am once again fatigued beyond myself and sleeping 9-10 hours a night. That's 2 plus hours extra per night than i am used to.

Friday: I was feeling better and ran a nice road loop to loosen up. Not too bad.
31:27 4 miles

Saturday: I hit the trails on a beautiful, sunny afternoon and completed the Hartley loops before making my way home via Rock Hill. I felt great and had a super run.
1:02:26 7.1 miles

Sunday: Waking up this morning didn't feel so good. I was feeling a lot of soreness that I had been feeling all last week and blame it on the terrain. Since I am planning a road half-marathon I should stick to the roads. My out and back this morning was a bit stiff and sore but I managed to feel a bit better at the runs end. That is a good sign I think. My plan is to run easy most of this week and do some pick-ups as my body will let me.
40:11 5.8 miles

Years Total: 2054.6 miles

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Recovery and More Recovery

Since the marathon I have been resting and taking care of a virus that got the best of me. I could feel it coming on Saturday night in the hotel but that was the least of my worries and on Monday and Tuesday it kicked my ass.

On the upside, my legs are feeling much better and I am eager to get back out there and run a bit. I will wait until Friday or Saturday the resume some training. I am kicking around the idea of making the drive to Mankato on the 23rd to take part of their inaugural events and run the half-marathon. We'll see once I start running again.

Photo credits to Evan Roberts

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Marathon. A Crap Shoot?

First I have to review the week leading into the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon.

I don't have a lot to report. I don't have any " I feel amazing, I can't wait" postings. For the most part, race week was much of the same that I have experienced all summer and fall. On Monday I ran an easy loop after a pathetic 90 minute run that left me in total doubt. Tuesday I woke up with the intentions of running a nice warm up and turning in a four mile "steady state" run at 5:55 pace just to get a feeling for the pace one last time. That failed miserably and I couldn't get myself to run under 6:30's and feel comfortable so I scrapped the workout and just ran easy. Wednesday came and I felt it was necessary just to get up and run and I started feeling better but still nothing too speedy. Thursday I took a rest day and did my back stretches and workout video. Friday I ran an easy 5 miler and actually felt very fluid and relaxed. A first in many days! Saturday I traveled to the Cities for the race but opted for a day of rest once I got down there, no running.

So, as you can see, I put together yet another week of "less than ideal training" heading into a marathon. No threshold, no speed, nothing. Just plain ol' running. Not exactly what I was looking for during race-week but then again, I have been going against the regular training plan all summer.

Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon

Just to shed a little light on how my pre-race plans went, I have to mention that I continued to "go against the grain" in terms of marathon preparation. I drove to the host Hotel to get the final race instructions, check in, and get my race number. After a quick trip to the race expo and visit with some friends, I had to find my way back to the vehicle that I was sure would be sporting a parking ticket since the meter was malfunctioning when I had left it. I got lucky and found my windshield clear of any paper citations. It was now 1430 and I had last ate at 0830 before I left for my trip. I was getting hungry and I needed food. Thankfully I had left a Powerbar in the truck and I made it disappear quicker than I could imagine. I did manage to keep up on my fluids very well, just lacking in the solids. Once I made my way to the Hotel I checked in and soon was making the jaunt to Leann Chins for a healthy plate of vegetable fried rice with cashew chicken and two pot stickers. (I had done the Asian food thing once before a long run and swore it was the reason for a stellar run, so I figured if there was a time to test it before a race now was the time.) A bit later that night I made my way to an Irish Pub for a Summit Extra Pale Ale and a bread and cheese tray before settling in my room for the final checklist and preparation.

That night I drank a lot of water and finished a 32 oz. Gatorade I had started earlier in the evening. I was peeing clear upon awakening and I knew the hydration was well taken care of. I forgot one major detail. I had NOTHING to eat race morning!! I had a lot of gels but I needed solid food. What was I going to do? As I was leaving for the bus shuttle I saw a Rainbow food store only to find it closed until 0600. So I took off for the bus and downed a gel as I was driving east on I-94. I kept thinking to myself, "you have plenty of time, hit an exit and find a gas station for a breakfast bar or something." As I approached Snelling I hit the blinker and blasted up the exit before quickly eyeing up the golden arches. Yes, the McDonald's golden arches. I flew into the parking lot and ran in to order an egg and cheese biscuit. As I was driving out of the parking lot I discovered that the guy gave me a sausage and egg biscuit instead. The sausage ended up on the street and I ate the egg-biscuit. Another test in my not-so-ordinary race preparation plan. I made my bus and the rest of the morning was relatively routine.

If you are still reading I am sorry to yak about all the crazy shit I did but I just find it funny that a lot of the pre-race plan was so different that I am amazed to write about how the race unfolded.

The morning was made for marathoning. Clear skies. Cool, 40F just as the race was starting, and NO wind. Simply amazing and I was part of the 8000+ participants that got to take advantage of such a glorious morn. I got a decent warm up and stretches in and was ready as the gun sounded. What the hell? One last glitch in my race plan. My Garmin had not found all the satellites and was still searching as we left the dome. The gps would not work until 2 miles of the race, it was at that point I was able to start my watch. Not a big deal, but in past races it would have freaked me out big time!

Once past the 5K I was working pretty easy and I had the pleasure of running with Pete Miller whom I had competed against many a times over the last 18 years. He and I were looking to run very similar races and it was best to find someone to run with as it keeps a persons mind occupied. We had a difficult time settling on the 6:10 pace we wanted for the first 7-10 miles. Many of which were well under 6:00 minute pace. The good thing was they felt very easy. That was very promising and yet I was concerned. For some reason, at 8-9 miles my right, lower calf was starting to tighten and soon the upper hamstrings and glutes were joining in on the tightness. As we passed 10 miles Pete asked me, "how are you doing?" I told him I had a bad patch back there but things were improving. We ran very consistent through half-way and I mentioned to Pete as we passed the 13.1 mark, "I'm not too sure what the hell I'm doing going through half way at my current PR pace, but I guess it's too late to worry now." We progressed up the course and I progressed to feel worse. Miles 15-17 started to get really tough and I was then planning where my drop-out spot would be. For some reason 19 sounded good to me in my mind. Something told me to keep pressing though. As I monitored the splits for a mile or so it made sense for me to keep moving, despite the way I felt, the splits were staying pretty close and I wasn't walking yet. The gel I had taken at mile 17 must have started to work and soon I was talking myself into 'counting down the miles'. "Just eight miles to go, just seven to go", and I kept doing that as I moved up the course. As I moved up the hills coming off the river bottom something magical happened. I started to feel strong. I couldn't believe it but I was passing runner after runner and I was moving feeling very good. I had heard of this happening to runners before but was it really happening to me? How? I hadn't run over 18 miles since Grandma's Marathon back in June. I kept my eyes up ahead and just kept pressing the pace. From 20 miles to the finish I didn't look at my watch for pacing. I knew I felt good and I wasn't going to let some number ruin my feeling. If I felt that good I must have been moving decent for the last stage of a marathon. I took my last gel at 21 miles and at every aide station I took two cups of Poweraide and two cups of water and drank them all! I'm not too sure if that's what did it but I finally got to feel what it's like to crush the Summit Avenue curse!! I felt amazing but scared. I didn't want to have the feeling of moving so well come to an end at mile 22,23, or 24. I wanted to run strong to the finish. I put those worries to rest and told myself, "you will never find out if you can run strong to the finish if you don't try. Don't be afraid, just keep the same strong, relaxed effort and you may just make it. Don't stop!" I saw and heard many people out there cheering on myself and many runners but there is something about complete strangers looking at you and saying something like, "hey, number 118 you are really moving well, keep up the good work." Thank You All!!!
As I passed mile 25 I knew I had put the worst behind me and all I had to do was press one more minor hill and then the reward was waiting. Most times the last half mile, mostly downhill from the Cathedral, feels horrible. A downhill that steep after running 25.5 miles hurts the quads. As I crested the hill and saw the huge crowds, I focused on the gigantic American flag at the bottom of the hill, all I wanted to do was let out a huge scream of relief. I made it!! I never did let out the scream but I wanted to and I kept pressing to the end. I focused on the finish tape and was very surprised to see the clock tick past 2:39:59. I was bummed out and excited at the same time. To run 2:40:17 was very rewarding with the challenges I had this summer and to get the opportunity to finally, after 15 marathon starts, feel that it is possible to hammer the last 10K of a marathon still brings tears to my eyes. I now have a little feeling of what it's like to nail a marathon. I didn't get a personal best, but it sure felt like it. I wanted to run much faster back in July when I started preparation for this race but some circumstances are out of a persons control. I finished this race happy! I've mentioned this in the past but it's races like this that keeps us crazy marathoners chasing the carrot. I feel like the marathon is what many call A Crap Shoot. I've trained much harder with all kinds of workouts before and raced much worse than I did on Sunday. What gives? I'm not willing to test this training again, but it sure will be on my mind come next build up.

Here are the splits the Garmin spit out starting at mile 2.
miles one and two were: 5:53, and 6:00

Here are the details:
Time: 2:40:17
87th overall, 6th in age group 40-44
*feeling strong at the end, PRICELESS!!

Miles for day: ~28 miles with warm up
Weeks Mileage: 56 miles
Years Total: 2033.7 miles