Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Motivation for winter training

One thing that I am taking away from this years Surf the Murph experience is that I need to make corrections this winter if I am ever going to make it back as an ultra runner.

I think it's safe to admit now, that each of the fall marathons were a bit more painful than I had hoped but within a few days things were feeling better so I continued to think that I wasn't doing myself further harm. During Murph the knee hurt early on and the plantar pain came later and forced me to stop at 25k. The decision to drop was a good one as after Murph, walking was painful as my plantar felt like it had been re-torn (not as bad as before but each step hurt) so I took a week off from running. I tried to run last Saturday and did get in 4 miles with Karyn. During the run the plantar was still tender so I have taken more time off and will probably not run until this Saturday. If that doesn't do it then I will probably check into physical therapy or ?. I do think that this is fixable, I just need to be patient and ramp back up carefully.

My other issue does concern me and may not be fixable but I hope it will be. Since my knee surgery, my knee has been unstable. I don't have pain normally but if I mis-step at all it wobbles or feels like it's giving way which provides pain. I also have not been able to run steeper down hills as they have been painful too. Because of these issues, I have not been able to run trails without issue. Add in the fact that I am carrying too much weight (which I know doesn't help) and it all means, I have some work to do.

So this winter, the plan will be to lose the weight, give the plantar time to heal and strengthen the knee.

If this works great, if not then I may have to face the reality that running long on trails might be over for me.

This year I learned how much I treasure my ability to run and I will not risk losing running if the trails are my only issue. If I can run roads I will. If I can do marathons relatively pain free, I will. If I can run ultras, I will. If I can't then I will be ok with running shorter distances as I don't want to push myself so hard that I take away my ability to run. I missed too much this year and frankly too much over the last 5 years. I need to fix things this winter. I love trail running so I hoping that my winter off season is productive and that my knee regains strength to handle the torquing I experience on trails.

The lesson I learned this year is that running is gift, cherish it and protect it as you never know when it might be taken from you.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Surf the Murph 2014

Well, as predicted it was a 25k and a slow one at that.

The northern section exposed my knee, I couldn't run down hill and going up hill was a problem too. I almost turned around after the first down hill but figured it would get better once I got going. I did get to feel like a trail runner about 2 miles in, as I was approaching another steep down hill, I tripped over a rock and did a very nice superman. No damage from that but I had pain on every hill and I did feel like my knee buckled a few times. I wore my Hoka Mafate 3's hoping that they might help with their wider base, good idea, just didn't make a difference and by the end I concluded I really don't like them. Anyone want a pair of Hoka's, size 13 1/2 with about 125 miles on them?

I felt a little better when I got to the southern section. I stopped just past the horse trail aid station and took this picture, the park looked great and it was another beautiful day for Surf the Murph. Over the next few miles I started feeling better, amazing what a decent running surface and no hills can do for you. As my run continued my plantar was starting to ache and it was at that point I knew I might be done after one loop. To run on an unstable knee and sore foot just makes for a long day and I did not want to cause anymore damage to either one. If I had an even a glimmer of hope after Natchez it was dashed by the reeds section along the road, On a good day, it is by far my least favorite section of the course and on this day the unsteady footing did in both my knee and foot. I thought about just sitting down and calling it a day, as it was it took me almost a mile to recover from that section. After that I just ran when I could and walked as I needed to as I just wanted to finish the loop. Ultimately I did but it wasn't pretty at any point during the day.

Last year I was bummed when things didn't work out, this year I was just happy to be out there and am totally ok with a single loop. Yes, I wanted two loops but I knew coming in it was unlikely. It was fun to see a few friends and the volunteers were great. My thanks to all that put on this race. I am looking forward to making it back next year, hopefully as a healthy trail runner and if that is not possible than I will be a happy volunteer.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Mankato Marathon

I wanted to post on this race sooner than I have been as I have Surf the Murph next Saturday.

Short version, drove over the day of, no issues, easy logistics, interesting course through the farmland around Mankato, a few hills, tough wind and the fact it switched direction a bit made it even worse, blisters on both feet and plantar pain along with the wind slowed me down plus I can't run downhill without pain which just isn't right. Best case would have been about 5:25 but instead 5:41 and no men's finisher shirts left so my wife has a new shirt. I really liked their shirt too, oh well.

Surf the Murph will probably be a 25k as both my knee and foot had issues. Around mile 25 coming down a short hill my knee kind of locked to where I almost had to sit. Around mile 13 the plantar tear started to throb, I guess it needs some time to finish healing. Then again maybe everything will be good.

Long version - no need for one :-),

I got an email from the Mankato marathon and they are ordering additional shirts so I may yet get one. That's cool.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Twin Cities Marathon and the Ultra Loony Challenge

I went into the Twin Cities Marathon event weekend with some trepidation, ok make that a lot. My first decision was, do I run the Ultra Loony Challenge (which means, run the 10k and 5k on Saturday and then the marathon on Sunday) as planned or do I focus all of my efforts on the marathon? To be honest, I wasn't sure I could do them all, heck I had doubts about the marathon.

On Thursday I decided I had to go for the Loony as my legs seemed good enough and my injuries seemed manageable and it's what I signed up to do. With the decisions made I needed to figure out my approach and since I just wanted to finish the marathon, my plan was to run it between 12 1/2 and 13 minute miles for as long as I could and hopefully beat the time limit. I knew I would be doing a Galloway run-walk of 45 seconds running, 45 seconds walking and that this pace should be doable. So with that in mind I figured I would run the 10k at around 13 1/2 to 14 minute miles and then do the same for the 5k.

On Friday, Karyn and I went to packet pick-up and she decided to sign-up for the 5k. It felt good to walk around the TCM expo again, quite a few vendors and I even won a coffee mug at the Caribou challenge so it had to be my weekend, right :-), thank you Caribou and all other sponsors of the events.

On Saturday, Karyn and I decided to drive separately since the 10k started an hour and a half ahead of the 5k so I got to the capital with about a 1/2 hour to get to the start line. The one thing I liked about doing this event is that it got me oriented to the capital, where to park, how things were set-up and so on. For the 10k, I figured I would do the Galloway run-walk but slow things down to not let me push myself too hard. Well that lasted about a 1/10th of a mile when I looked at my watch and saw that  my pace was sub 11, so I chose to walk a bit longer than planned with the hope that I get things back on track. Once I resumed the run-walk it became apparent that I was going faster then I wanted so I said to myself, whatever, take what you got just don't push it. Even though I stopped twice to talk to some friends along the course, my average mile pace was 11:39. Oops.

I had planned on running the 5k with Karyn and figured that I would be able to hold her pace, Not sure where I got that idea as she went faster than I thought, our average mile pace was 11:16. Oops, again. So I knew that I had blown it a little bit and might pay a price in the marathon but everything felt good so, what was I to do? I didn't push the pace in any of the events it's just where things seemed to go.

On Sunday, Karyn dropped me at the light rail in Bloomington and I was off to the marathon start. We thought it would work logistically to take the light rail and it did, there were a handful of runners on the train. There was a beautiful orange glow across the horizon as the sun was coming up, it was shaping up to be a great day for running. As the train arrived it was almost surreal to see the Metrodome gone and the emerging skeleton of the new stadium starting to form. I wasn't sure how the logistics would work without the dome so after I found the porta pots, I started trying to figure out where the start was. The temp was in the low 30's and I had decided to forego a drop bag and put the extra top I had into my Nathan. It seemed like a good plan as it allowed me to carry everything I would need. As I was heading to find corral 3, a friend found me and we walked over together. She is the girl (women) who I finished Grandmas with and had come into Twin Cities with minimal training mileage as well. We talked about starting together but after she went to drop her bag and find a porta pot we never saw each other again. I chatted with some runners as I stood beside a building to block the wind and started to think through how I would approach the day. I had my run-walk app on my phone ready to go and was going use my bluetooth headphones for the first time in a long distance event. I had decided that at the start I would use my Garmin to figure out the run-walk sequence as I wasn't sure I would hear the app.

Before I knew it, we were off, again my plan was to run 12 1/2 to 13 minute miles and I knew it was critical to do so early in the race. My first mile was 11:43, mile 2 - 11:52, mile 3 - 11:23, mile 4 - 11:48, I think you get the drift. I was running totally within myself and thought I can maintain this, the run-walk was working great up to Lake Harriet. As I came through the water stop my headphones started beeping and I thought what's going on? So I pulled them off and looked at my phone, my battery was being drained fast. So I shutoff the Bluetooth and figured I would just carry the phone and keep looking at the timer. That worked well and I felt great until I got near Nokomis and saw my phone flashing a low battery warning. I knew I might need to call Karyn when I got done so we could figure out where to meet, so with that in mind I shut off the phone but more importantly my run-walk app.

Now I had to use my Garmin as I had no other watch and the way my Garmin has always been set I can't see seconds once the time is over an hour which wasn't good for a 45 second interval. So I decided to use distance which effectively meant run for .1 mile, walk for .06 mile (I had figured out this ratio during my training). It was working ok except it meant every 30 seconds I was looking at my distance which meant I was also observing where I was on the course. It went something like this, 15.1, oh I still have 11 miles to go, 15.16, still 11 miles, 15.26, still 11 miles. I think you get how this wasn't really a good thing.

So I ignored my watch and went by feel, that was ok but not good, then I tried light poles, same thing, ok but not good, it all kind of worked but I was slowing down. Part of the issue was the mental energy I was expending but I was also having pain. My knee had twinged a couple of times but the foot was going from feeling every step to hurting on every step.

So I continued to lose time but I kept moving forward. I was smiling and chatting with people and just happy to be out there, I had seen this picture before and the thought of it kept coming into my head. I was doing TCM, I was out here, I was enjoying myself, I was feeling like a runner. I was enjoying every moment of my day. I continued my journey down Summit and was just soaking it in. I saw Karyn at mile 24 and we chatted a bit and then I continued on to the finish. My thanks to TCM, all the volunteers and spectators for making my 10th TCM a great memory.

One thing that I ended up liking about the Ultra Loony Challenge was the bling you get, I had tpo pay an extra $95 and this is what I got for it, 2 additional races, 3 additional shirts (I really like the Brooks pullover), 3 additional medals and a pair of TCM socks from FitSok plus of course my TCM finishers shirt, medal and another pair of socks. So is it worth the extra money? For me, yes but more for the extra fun it allowed me to have. I really enjoyed running the 10k and 5k and yes I enjoyed chatting with a few folks about doing the Ultra Loony Challenge during the marathon, they were like you are one of them, of course I told them, yes but probably the slowest of them.
Lessons learned and corrected, I now know how to change screens on my Garmin so I can see seconds after the first hour and I have placed an old set of head phones in my Nathan. Now it's on to Mankato where hopefully things hold together.


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